Thursday, February 22, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods

With some vacation days nearing expiration, I decided to squeeze in a surprise visit to my beyond awesome grandparents, carefully coordinating with my uncle so as to dance the fine line of Surprising Old People that falls between "Pleasantly Caught Unawares" and "Massive Coronary". After five days of drinking so severe that I actually began to feel myself devolving, I was looking forward to a couple of days spent padding around in slippers, playing cribbage, and introducing my grandparents to basic features on their electronic equipment in a benevolent, godlike manner (Last Channel, Delete Messages, etc.). Tuesday morning proved to be a high point of my trip, as I convinced my grandmother to take a break from her endless, bloodhound-like search for microscopic crumbs and sit down to watch the bootleg copy of Jackass 2 that my uncle had dropped off (or, as she later referred to it in a conversation with her sister, "You know, The Assholes? Two."). Sample conversation:

Grandmother: I couldn't hear that. What did he say?
Me: He said "I am not eating that fucking shit."
Grandmother: Does he mean real shit?
Me: Jesus, no! Oh wait, yes. Sorry.

After our (read: my) decision to take in the special unrated features, we'd wiled the better part of the afternoon away and segued neatly into "The People's Court" and "Judge Judy", which after three days' of viewings, I can safely assure you would not exist in a world without at least two of the following: used cars, security deposits, broken condoms/uneducated hicks. A good, relaxing time overall, but after years of city living in which my shelves have shelves, I sometimes get a little out of sorts with all of the available space and amenities, and the highly irrational means in which they use it:

This is but a small portion of my grandmother's vast collection of candles, none of which are actually meant for burning because "that's how fires get started". Though I've pointed out that by refusing to light a single wick, she deprives the candles of their very raison d'etre, she'll have none of it. The most frustrating thing about the whole thing is that they're all descriptively named after incredibly delicious foodstuffs, leading some primal part of me to actually desire to eat wax. I'm not sure if that was their original intention, but score one for Yankee Candle.

Note: That front candle is entitled "Sparkling Angel". I find this bothersome because at some point my grandmother stood in a store and thought to herself, "Hm. I wonder what an angel smells like when it burns?"

This is my grandparents' Sitting Room, which is somewhat innacurately named in that one is not allowed to actually sit within its confines (even entering the room is discouraged). This room exists entirely as a showpiece for visitors, reminiscent of some Victorian tradition in which the ability to keep a room pristine indicates Good Virtue and Gentlemanly Qualities. They've been living in this house for three years, and as far as I know, there's still a possibility that all of that furniture is made of cardboard.

This is my grandfather's collection of creepy, leering dogs, arranged on his bureau so that no matter what vantage point you view them from, they are staring at you, defying all properties of light. As for the warped, freakish glass clown in the background, in 27 years, not a visit has gone by that I haven't expected it to come to slowly come to life, look me straight in the eye, and huskily whisper "I'm going to kill you."

Note:Just above this shelf, they keep a picture of me as a teenager that is only slightly less unsettling.

Do your grandparents have a heart-shaped jacuzzi in their private bathroom? Well, mine do. And that's all I have to say about that.

These are a few of my grandmother's Hummels, a sort of collectible German figurine that ranks somewhere between Beanie Babies and Faberge eggs in terms of classiness/worth (far, far closer to Beanie Babies). Though my mother and aunt are also rabid fans, my cousin and I have been unnerved by these since we were children, and whenever we're told that we stand to inherit them, we usually just look at each other, shrug, and say "You can have 'em." The worst part about them is that they depict cherubic young German children from the Nazi era doing mundane, angelic things that I have never seen a single child do, let alone a Hitler Youth.

1. I'm not sure there is a pose in the world that can make one look stupider than "Staring Blankly at Two Piglets While Wearing Leiderhosen".

2. He is looking (slightly downward) into your soul.

3. First off, I don't know who issues a 6-year old a shotgun, but that seems a moot point. Second, he's using binoculars to presumably look for his next kill, when there's a rabbit not two feet in front of him. Third, nothing robs you of your innocence more than a porcelain depiction of a rabbit asking to be shot.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

People Who End Their Day of Work Feeling Even Less Fulfilled Than Me

1. Author of the text at the back of books that describes the font that was used.
2. Advertising Manager, Stanley Bostitch B8 Staples, 1/4" Account.
3. Filing clerk, China National Civil Records Office, Chan-Chang division.
4. The "Time to make the donuts!" guy.
5. Meeting Leader for the Alcoholics Anonymous chapter nearest the bar I was at last night.
6. Robert Glovsky, of Boston-area law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo.
7. Director of Research and Development for the wheel.
8. Head of Security, Carville Leprosarium.
9. New Recipe Creator for Kellogg's Rice Krispies.
10. Head of the US Tourism Board, Nagasaki, Japan.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On Imperfect Things Which Could Stand to be Improved

Girl Scouts' Trefoils. As a young, entreprenaurial scout, I tried not to pass judgment on my customer's choices, but when someone did ask if I had these, I was immediately suspect, as if preferring bland shortbread cookies to Samoas was the manifestation of some sort of dangerous kink in their personality. I half-expected the next words out of their mouthsto be "Also, how much do you want for that sash? Unwashed."

Tonic. I've got my own personal issues with tonic, but those aside, I don't understand why this is such a popular mixer. Is it because the horrifically bitter flavor distracts the taste buds from the bite of the accompanying liquor? Couldn't the same thing be said of, say, a kick to the groin? And yet no one orders a Gin and Kick to the Groin.

Revolving doors. At what point did a normal door become not good enough? I am near certain that one of these doors will be directly responsible for my death. The only thing that suppresses my rage towards the inventor each and every time I get stuck in one of these is picturing the look on women's faces in bars as he says to them "Me? I'm a door architect."

Stressballs. "Man, what a crappy existence. If only I could symbolically channel all of my existential worries and concerns over my future into a foam ball shaped like a smiley face. Ah, all better now."

New Jersey Town Names. Hackensack? Mahwah? Tewksbury? It's a rare place that sounds like you'd imagine it smells, but Jersey seems to nail it every time. We can't all live in Celebration or Winter Haven, but at least Florida manages to at least pretend that it's something other than God's Waiting Room.

Friday, February 09, 2007

On Perfect Things Which Cannot Possibly Be Improved

Toilet paper. I'm just psyched that after the advent of two-ply, scientists decided to quit while they were ahead. Unlike garbage bags, someone had the good sense to say, "Able to wipe your ass with it? Check. Now how we doing on cancer?"

Flyswatter. It's got to be nice knowing that you're leaving this world at the hands of a machine designated specifically for your execution, instead some hastily rolled newspaper or magazine that got jerryrigged at the last minute. I'd probably pick old age/in the arms of a much younger lover as my method of final exit, but if it's going to be murder, at least have the respect to premeditate it, you know? I'm worth it.

Cupcakes. At some point, someone took the cake--already a near perfect machine in itself--and said, "There's got to be a way to reduce the cake:frosting ratio", and just like that, the world became a better place. I hope that person went on to live a rich and meaningful life, and didn't let that bitch Betty Crocker bogart all the dividends. On a side note, there is not a person in my life whom I would not gladly auction off in exchange for cupcakes.

Tetris. I can't beat Tetris. I can't even come close. And yet, every time I pick up my Gameboy, I make an attempt, then am made to feel like an idiot by the concept of placing shapes in a straight line. If ever I invented something that caused millions of people to feel stupider, I would feel like the king of the fucking world. On another side note, I'm not that good a person.

Chewing tobacco. Yeha, yeah, it's bad for you. You'll lose your tongue. I don't dip, but if you're someone that does, there is no more perfect delivery system than chewing tobacco. There's something to be said for a mind-altering substance that essentially does away with the middle men; unlike liquor, which must be fermented, distilled, bottled, and then most likely mixed with something to distract one from the fermenting, distilling, and bottling processes, with tobacco, what you see is what you get, and it's up to you to get it in your bloodstream the easiest way possible. It reduces men to the same running line of thought they had as two year olds: "Will it make you feel good? Put it in your mouth."

Pixie sticks. I don't know how this marketing meeting went, but I imagine the pitch was something like this: "You know how kids like sugar? Let's sell them sugar. See you guys Monday."

Track and field. Unlike most other sports, which get bogged down by complex sets of rules and explaining those complex sets of rules to your friends' lame girlfriends at the bar, track and field events break down sports to the most base elements:
a. Sprints- Run faster than that guy.
b. Discus- Throw this heavy thing farther than that guy.
c. Long jump- Jump further than that guy.
d. Pole vaulting- This one's a little complicated. Let's just replace it with bowling.

Greek mythology. There is no such thing as an anticlimactic ending to a Greek myth. No one gets the girl, or retires to the country, or lives on the street with his son in order to get a coveted job at an investment banking firm. Men eat their cildren, women have sex with swans, even the friggin dogs have three heads. Aesop was well and good with his talking animals and his morals, but when it comes to imparting lasting lessons on your little ones, the prospect of being tied to a rock to have their liver eaten out by an eagle on a nightly basis gets the job pretty well done.

Monday, February 05, 2007

From Rags to Slightly More Expensive Rags

Walking to the subway this morning, fresh off losing some cash in what might be the least desirable real estate ever found on a Super Bowl scoring grid--I think I would have had a better chance if I'd drawn the decimal places or pi-- I spotted an unscratched lotto ticket on the ground. A longtime fan of Cashwords, which also double as currency in my family, I had just purchased the same type of ticket last night, to no avail, so the significance of finding a lotto ticket, on the ground, hours after losing on the very same ticket was not lost. I've seen enough movies to recognize the universal sign for "You're going to win a fortune and your life will change forever". But while Charlie had to go through the emotional turmoil of the Chocolate Factory tour and that creepy bubble room before he got his golden ticket, a lifetime spent immersed in feel-good movies means I have the luxury of already knowing this ticket is my way outta here, without having to scratch it off and go through any of that Not Poor, Just Broke nonsense.

Taking a lesson from the good people who wrote King Ralph, I've decided to sit on it for awhile and assess my life, so I'll know who my genuine friends are and what I truly value in life and all that shit, at least until rent's due. The universe doesn't tell me things very often--I think my last epiphany was "You didn't need that last shot", which didn't really do me much good post facto--so I intend to milk this missive for all it's worth and see what kind of future insight I can interpret from the ticket itself:

EARN and RETRY. I'll admit, this doesn't look promising. This pretty much guarantees some sort of crisis/comical mixup in which I end up sleeping on the streets or in jail, before I learn my lesson and end up broke, but happy. Nice and all, but I think I'd rather just get the riches and leave it at that.

RAT. This either points to a future betrayal of trust by a 1920s racketeer, or an actual rat. If given the choice, I'll probably go with the rodent.

HOE. I wish the glare was covering up an "S", but it's not. The universe called me a ho, and misspelled it at that. Cheeky little cosmos.

TIME. I bet every time someone goes to the universe with some crisis and asks for answers to their vapid life questions and the universe is all sick and tired of having to tell people that they should follow their hearts and leave their corporate jobs etc., it's just like "Ummmm....time?", and people get all wide-eyed and nod their heads solemnly and walk away changed, and the universe is just like, "Man, you people are suckers."

PECAN and APE. These don't really fit in here, I'm guessing they're more of a "rosebud" type clue that will make sense to me at some crucial point in the future. I look forward to the day when a mysterious stranger in some Moroccan bar whispers the word "Pecan" to me and everything comes together.

PLAQUE. I have no doubt in my mind that my mother is somehow behind this one. You might think that it seems like an awful lot of trouble to tap into the underlying machinations of the universe just to badger your daughter about flossing, but you would be vastly understimating my mother's committment to nagging. In fact, I'm sure she was going to to go with "TARTAR", but decided to throw the "Q" as punishment for my last cavity.

FLAW. Jesus, I get it. Greed is the root of all evil, don't let it corrupt me. Losing subtelty points fast.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Things I Would Do if I Had an Identical Twin

1. Commit multiple jewel heists. If caught, exploit courtroom loophole involving identical twins/fingerprints, get off scott free. Sell jewels, give Twin twenty bucks or a gift card or something.
2. Secretly switch with Twin before her wedding, wait until my turn at the "I dos", scream "I DON'T!". After a lengthy pause for effect, say "Because I'm Twin's sister. Shouldn't you be able to recognize the woman you're going to marry? Just kidding, I'm sure you'll be very happy together."
3. Feign a life-threatening illness for Twin, and inform employer that I am the only one able to donate (unspecified, made-up bodily fluid). Take two months off work to "heal".
4. Starting at infancy, slowly build a sororial relationship based on fear and subservience, so that once we reach adulthood, I can force her to wait in line for me at the DMV.
5. Steal all her nice clothes, obviously.
6. When my sister dies, pretend it's me and host an open-casket wake, then listen to what everyone says about me. Depending on what people say/the hassle of switching a death certificate/how much time I've got left anyway, switch back after the funeral, but not before Twin's family has sprung for my headstone.
7. For every person that makes an attempt at a witty Sweet Valley High reference, look them in the eyes and say "Well, we were triplets, but the other one died."
8. Never tell anyone that I have a twin. Hide similarly-dressed Twin in the bathroom, gather friends for leisurely shrooming session, then eat harmless dummy shrooms. Spend the afternoon fucking with their heads.
9. When douchebags in bars inquire about the possibility of a threesome, tell them that one of us has the clap. Are they a gambling man?
10. Every time our parents accidentally call us by the wrong name, sob violently and claim to be unloved. Take the ensuing guilt to the bank at Christmas and birthdays.
11. Take up a hard-drinking, hard-partying lifestyle. When organs fail, play upon Twin's sense of sisterly duty, then demand one of each of hers.