You're  Laughing  at  Me,  Aren't  You?


(Public  enema  number  one  launches  another  Scud)


Copyright  ©2007




FOREWORD


Here we go again. You're embarking on yet another journey through my warped, twisted mind. You are one of an eclectic mix of people who have quite different opinions of my work. Some people find me creative, funny and informative; while others view me as a bloated windbag who voices stupid opinions. Some eagerly await each new publication, and others can't wait for me to die. One person told me that I'm an arrogant bastard who should stop annoying people with the crap I write. Thanks, Mom.

Some folks have said that my previous works are too "heavy", that they deal with life too much. It then occurred to me why novels sell so well: people want a break from life. They work and pay bills and raise kids and do household chores, and when they finally get to rest they don't want to read some idiot's dissertation on how to brew beer or what foods are good for them - they want to be taken away to a foreign land or the passion of two lovers. So I wrote this collection of short stories and ramblings in order to satisfy the need for light literature in the few people who consider my products worth reading. In fact, this Web page (hereafter referred to as a "book" because it is merely an electronic version of a paperback) contains the greatest amount of fiction I have written since my last tax return.




A  VERY  SHORT  STORY


Dick Stroker of Cholera, Mississippi gets run over by a Volkswagen full of clowns. He approaches St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.


DICK: "Hey, aren't you the guy who denied Christ three times?"

ST. PETER: "Way to flatter me. Let's review your life to see if you belong in Heaven. On the monitor we see you jerkin' the gherkin at age 13. For three hours. Don't you know masturbation is a sin?"

DICK: "I thought that was just a scare tactic to keep kids from doing the knuckle shuffle, like telling them that their hand will fall off. My friend Jack Hoff used to buff the bishop all the time, and nothing bad ever happened to him. Except now he's blind."

ST. PETER: "Here you are in high school leering at Jenna Talia."

DICK: "I was shy. I admired her from afar and stayed out of sight."

ST. PETER: "Now that's called 'stalking'."

DICK: "Can't you let me in? I'm sure Heaven has plenty of room."

ST. PETER: "We need to conserve space. We're expecting a big influx from Florida. Most people there were born during the Renaissance."


Enter Guffaq Yussef, an Islamic extremist from Bullshitistan who blew himself up in a suicide bombing.

GUFFAQ: "Where are my 72 virgins?"

ST. PETER: "Not so fast, diaperhead. Let's review your life. On the monitor we see you stoning a girl to death for showing her ankle."

GUFFAQ: "So? The Catholic Church is so denigrating to women that its leaders are not even allowed to have relationships with them! At least we Islamists have relationships with our women."

ST. PETER: "Battery and rape do not constitute 'relationships'. Here's a personal ad you placed in the Fah Kamal Times."

Guffaq Yussef, age 19, Islamic extremist, seeks Islamic woman, age 12-18, for subservience, lots of cooking and cleaning, constant pregnancy, and regular beatings. Interests: hating Americans, Jews, and non-Islamics; dancing in the streets when my brethren suicide bomb them; facing Mecca five times a day; gun repair. I know you can't write back to me because you aren't allowed to go to school, so just meet me in front of the mosque at noon on the 3rd day of Ramadan. Please remember to cover your face and ankles or else I will have to kill you.

GUFFAQ: "That's how I met my wife, Awan Afuqya. We had a great relationship until I had to strangle her for uncovering her face."

ST. PETER: "It's people like you who make my job easy. Go to Hell!"

GUFFAQ (attempting to manipulate St. Peter): "What would Jesus do?"

ST. PETER: "Simple. He'd bitch-slap you."

GUFFAQ: "But I was promised eternal paradise. You know, many people believe that we will attain eternal paradise by our faith."

ST. PETER: "Many people are idiots."

GUFFAQ: "I demand to see Muhammad!"

ST. PETER: "You will. He's having breakfast in Hell right now. If you look on the monitor, you can see him eating a bowl of Scrape Nuts."

GUFFAQ: "You mean, all Islamic extremists are going to Hell? What about my uncle, M'Balz Es-Hari? My cousin, Rani Diyah Reeya? My explosives teacher, Hooz bin Pharteen? My neighbors, Apu Pibaat and Zmelli Phartz? All our religious teachings are wrong?"

ST. PETER: "Not completely. You can get 72 virgins after you die, but only if you didn't kill anyone. And they all look like Yasser Arafat."

DICK: "Wait a minute, I have to go to the same place he's going just because I fondled my fajita?"

ST. PETER: "You led a life of selfish gratification instead of helping others and following the Lord. You do not deserve Heaven."

DICK: "Praying and donating to charity are terribly inconvenient when I'm trying to watch CSI. Besides, Socrates said that Hell doesn't exist unless you think it does."

ST. PETER: "Yeah, well if Socrates was so smart, how come he never found out that Plato was banging his wife?"


Okay, thatís enough to get you warmed up. This is the kind of nonsensical gibberish youíll see throughout these pages, so if youíre bored already, then go watch cable. Also, hereís a warning that I will be bringing up religion again. I tackle this subject because the whole Heaven/Hell thing is complete bullshit and we donít need to worry about it. I hope. Anyway, thereís nothing wrong with a little sacrilege. Except the eternal damnation part.




WOLF  IN  CHEAP  CLOTHING


He had been sitting at the bar for an hour and a half. A typical crowd of pretentious yuppies wearing deceptively expensive-looking clothes exchanged idle banter and phony smiles, pretending to be delighted with whomever they were uttering noises at. He knew that they were not kindred spirits, but he didn't know where the real people were. Like everyone else there, he was stranded in a modern high-tech prison where cell phones and DVD players were a necessity, and truth and meaning were neither necessary nor appreciated. He sipped his watery beer, slumped in an uncomfortable bar stool, and wallowed in the meaninglessness of his wretched existence.

No, this wasn't Ted Kennedy. His name was Jim. Jim Nasium. It was a typical night in his lonely bachelorhood: trying to find a woman of substance in a crowd of shallow, dressed-up snobs. Which reminds me, what's with the old expression, "Clothes make the man"? I understand that naked people have very little influence on society outside of strip clubs and the Oval Office, but does putting on a tie or a sport jacket magically transform a lying worm into a decent human being? No it doesn't. Look at Congress.

His scoping eyes finally found a palatable target. Venus she was not, but compared to the dry sea around him, she was an oasis. She was the typical eye-catcher who would turn men's heads at first, but upon closer scrutiny would be seen as the average-looking woman she was. He leered at the low-cut front of her brightly colored dress, mentally undressing her as his eyes dipped below the collar to her sagging breasts. She was attractive only because of her age, which was by his estimate about mid-20s, but within a few years her vain, sedentary lifestyle would allow her physique to settle into repulsiveness. He gulped down the remainder of his swill and maneuvered his body through the useless piles of flesh and polyester that only served to get in his way and pollute his air with smoke.

She pretended not to notice him. She would make it necessary for him to go through the typical pick-up bullshit. Her long, painted nails rapped the table as she stared at the dance floor. Have you ever noticed how often there is an inverse relationship between how much a person adorns himself/herself with make-up/clothes/jewelry, and how much he/she exercises? No? Fine, it's just me.

"Hello," he said rather loudly so he could be heard over the ear-damaging excuse for music. He watched her snobby, make-up-laden face turn to look at him. An expression of contempt seemed permanently painted on her physiognomy as she forced a likewise greeting in his direction, and he wondered why he was even here. "My name's Jim," he offered, hating the fact that he was once again in a position where he had to jump through hoops in order to have even a chance of sleeping with someone who wasn't good enough for him anyway.

"My name's Debbie." There, that wasn't so hard, was it?

"Nice outfit," he lied, knowing that women were into clothes and hoping to flatter her into bed.

"Thanks. I bought it last week."

Well that figures. Materialistic bitches like you need to shop even more often than sex-starved men like me need to get laid. He watched with disgust as she lit up a cigarette. That also figured. She was a mainstreamer who had succumbed to peer pressure and would pay for it for the rest of her shallow life.

"Shouldn't smoke. Bad habit. You should work out like I do." He usually found a way to weave his athletic abilities into conversations because he wanted women to know that he was not a wimp. As if it mattered.

"Yeah, well it's my body." That was enough for him. She was most definitely not anyone he would even want to be an acquaintance of, let alone screw. He turned and made his way through the sea of strangers, not to any place in particular, but away from her.

------------------------------------------------------

Lois Price had resigned herself to the thought that she would die an old maid. She knew that she was a very loving, dependable, honest person who any man would be lucky to find, and it bothered her that God seemed to have neglected her in the matchmaking department. She felt that all the qualities she wanted in a man (which she had and was therefore entitled to look for) were just sprinkled lightly over the male population, rather than all being given to any one of them. Well, it wasn't her fault, so no sense lamenting it.

"Hi," said a voice into her right ear. She turned her head to see a fairly normal-looking guy who appeared to be sincere. "Would you like to dance?"

"Okay," she answered, then got up and went to the dance floor, leaving her coworker friend all alone. "What's your name?" she hollered over the loud music.

"Mark," he bellowed back. My, what stimulating conversation.

The music was marginal, but she needed to do something active and burn off some energy. The guy wasn't the best dancer, but neither was she, and she found his facial expressions amusing. She was in no hurry to "meet" anyone - she just wanted to go out and have a good time - so she didn't mind dancing with someone who didn't strike her fancy. All of the dancing "couples" seemed to be in the same situation as she and her partner: strangers who moved their bodies to music but who said almost nothing to each other and would probably never see each other again. Why do people even bother to find dance partners when they aren't really dancing or even communicating with each other? Why not just dance by yourself? So what if everyone else would think you're weird? It's not like they're part of your life anyway.

The song ended and a slow one ensued, creating the classic awkward moment for Lois, her dance partner and most of the other people on the dance floor of deciding whether it was safe or desirable to slow dance with the random stranger they happened to be with. Ah, what harm could it do? It's not like anyone's gonna sexually attack someone in a public place. She stood there, invitingly looking at him, and he moved toward her. They proceeded to do the partially-embrace-each-other-and-turn-slowly-and-monotonously-in-a-circle dance, which is about as romantic as waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Half a minute into the song, the young man made his move: he put his lips up to hers, waited a second to see if she'd turn away, and started sucking face with her. She had kissed a fair number of guys, so his move was not at all startling. He was an average kisser and she had no reason at this point to withdraw, so the two of them continued their balancing act of maintaining satisfying lip contact while slowly rotating clockwise and not falling over or bumping into anyone. Then, in a typical act of ignorance and overanxiousness, he slid his hands down from her back to her buttocks, as if any woman other than Madonna would want some unfamiliar man touching her gluteal area.

She was more disappointed than alarmed. Here was yet another guy playing the stereotypical macho role of treating women like sex objects rather than getting to know them, like Bill Clinton except without any power or authority or effectiveness. "No," she said, prying his hands off and walking away.

Arriving back at her table she found her coworker still sitting there, looking around and feeling a bit lonely. "Nancy," yelled Lois.

Nancy was what you could call a career bar chick. In her 20s she had wowed everyone with her pretty face, shapely body and tight pants, and it seemed that she would surely land the best man around. Unfortunately for her the men she met in drinking establishments weren't exactly marriage material, so her "love" life had been nothing more than a series of short-lived relationships. Now, in her mid-30s, she was starting to get desperate. Without the good looks and smooth skin that had given her the power of attraction in her youth, she realized that she could no longer toy with men or be so picky. Neediness is always a good eye opener.

"Yo!" Nancy voiced with feigned happiness.

"I gotta pee!" said Lois with a dumb smile. She walked toward the ladies' room, and Nancy followed. It seems to be an unspoken code that when a woman goes into a nightclub bathroom, at least one of her friends must go with her. Perhaps it's so they can have a quiet place to talk, or lend each other lipstick and "female" products. Men, on the other hand, are loners, and if two men in a public bathroom were to giggle together or share personal grooming items, the other men would assume they were gay.

The ladies' room was a party in and of itself. Women joked and laughed about their boyfriends or the losers who had hit on them, touched up their make-up, and shared the facilities quite cooperatively. It was a sort of dressing room where they beautified themselves for the male audience. If they only knew what a lonely, desolate place the men's room was: drunken sots peeing on urinals and toilet seats, afraid to strike up a conversation with anyone for fear of getting beaten up. Funerals are more festive.

"Are we having fun yet?" Nancy half joked.

"Not really," Lois replied.


Okay, you've been introduced to the two main characters, Jim and Lois. Now let's assume that they encounter each other at a later date by some chance meeting that happens only in books and movies.

He couldn't stop looking at the beautiful woman sitting across from him. Maybe it was because she was the wholesome kind of good-looking that most women would never be. Or maybe it was because of his obsessive-compulsive disorder. He put down the issue of Highlights and went over to her.

"Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?" he asked. Lois looked at the empty chair next to her, then at the other 15 empty chairs, then at Jim. He didn't look like an imbecile. Perhaps he was not familiar with the subtle intricacies of a therapist's waiting room.

"Is this a trick question?" she replied.

Good, she had a sense of humor. He smiled. "My name's Jim. I'm here to see Dr. Nosefinger."

"Oh. I'm seeing Dr. Frondscum," she offered, closing her eight-month-old issue of Time.

"Would you like to get together after our sessions? I find that people who have had therapy are the easiest to talk to."

Lois admired a man who wasn't ashamed of his mental problems. "Sure. How about we go to your place?"

"Okay," he replied. "Wow, we've known each other for less than a minute, and already we're planning an evening together. It's like we're characters in a trite story that was written by some amateur hack."


The scene moves to his apartment. Aren't you glad that at least one author has the decency to skip boring details such as Jim's giving directions and Lois's trip over there? You're welcome.

She took in the décor, which seemed to be post-modern Goodwill. On the wall, in a plastic frame, was his college diploma that he proudly displayed as though it were a deer's head. Speaking of which, why are hunters so proud of mounting animal heads in their homes? How do they derive any sense of pride or self-esteem from sneaking up on a peaceful creature and slaughtering it with one shot from a high-powered rifle?

"You went to Generic University? Me too! I graduated in the Class of 2003."

"What'd you take up?"

"Space."

"Oh, astrology," snorted Jim, who had graduated a year earlier than her and wondered why the two of them had never met.

He opened a bottle of Manischewitz. Lois smiled and said, "If there's anything that gets me in the mood, it's kosher wine."


WARNING: Obligatory steamy scene follows. If this sort of thing makes you puke, skip to the next story. I know I will.

She lightly placed her hands on the front of his shoulders and slowly slid them behind his neck. As she felt his hands slide around her waist to her lower back and then pull her toward him until their bodies touched, she was overcome by a surge of relaxation and passion, which a romantic person would tell you came from deep feelings but was really from the booze. She closed her arms around his neck so that her forearms crossed, while uncontrollably closing her eyes halfway and opening her mouth in anticipation of a kiss. Jim received her signals loud and clear. He pulled her tighter and pressed his mouth against hers. Their tongues met and wrestled with one another. Jim's tongue scored a double-leg takedown, but Lois's tongue countered with a switch reversal plus two back points. Lois brought her hands around his head to either side. The stubble on his face emphasized the fact that he was a man (not a very well-groomed man, but a man nonetheless), and that excited her even more. She moaned each time she exhaled as if to say, "Please stay with me and never leave me. I want you forever." Jim answered with moans of his own, and they were his way of saying, "Yes, darling, I want you too. Now bend over." All they could hear was the hiss of air through their noses and mouths, and their occasional short, soft moans. Also some intestinal gas. "Want to lie down?" Lois asked, her lips rubbing against his. She opened her mouth wide and pressed it into his. Jim forcefully kissed her back and answered, "Yeah." She slid her hands down from his face, over his shoulders and down the length of his arms. She took his hands and brought them from her back to her front, walking backwards around the couch, leading him down the hall toward the bedroom. When she led him through the doorway he said, "This is my bathroom." Well, that's what happens when you walk backwards in a strange apartment with a head full of kosher wine.

When they got to the bed, Lois let go of Jim's hands and grabbed the front of his shirt. She pulled him toward her, then turned and pushed him down onto the bed. What happened after that no one will ever know because the author started using his hands for something other than typing.




UNTIL  DEBT  DO  THEY  PART


List of characters

JULIUS SEIZUREA pompous, suit-wearing ignoramus who owns an "if-you-have-a-phone-you-have-a-lawyer" law firm.
ANGINASEIZURE's wife, who is as shallow and materialistic as he is.
APPENDICITISSEIZURE and ANGINA's older son. A lawyer who got his job via nepotism.
PROSTATITIS SEIZURE and ANGINA's younger son. A pensive man who is an embarrassment to the family because he has the audacity to care about anyone outside of his parents' sphere of associations.
MELANOMAAPPENDICITIS's new bride.
DIABETESMELANOMA's father.
SCIATICAMELANOMA's mother.
PSORIASISSCIATICA's brother. Professor of philosophy at Screw U.


The scene: APPENDICITIS and MELANOMA's wedding reception. About a hundred and fifty well-dressed people drinking booze, eating cake, chatting and laughing in a banquet hall. PROSTATITIS is off by himself, having one of his frequent monologues.

PROSTATITIS: "Alas, I am bored. These grinning idiots talk not about ideas, but about fashion and weather and their jobs. They eat fatty, processed food products and add yet more unnecessary girth to their flabby forms. Later they will drive their gas-guzzling machines to their energy-consuming homes so they can play their DVDs and search eBay for more possessions. That so many resources are wasted on so few people while the majority of humanity has so little is an abomination. People are prosperous or penniless, sick or sound, nurtured or neglected, enchained or emancipated, due not to their own virtues or choices or efforts, but to unsighted chance. Evil people enjoy comfort and fortune by murdering and stealing, while innocent people suffer from disease, poverty, slavery, rape and torture though they have committed no crime. If there is a God, He is surely a sick fuck."

Enter JULIUS SEIZURE and ANGINA.

ANGINA: "It was a lovely ceremony, wasn't it?"

PROSTATITIS: "Sure, if you like sitting through two and a half hours of Catholic drivel and seeing a large replica of a crucified man hanging over the participants."

SEIZURE: "What flew up your ass?"

PROSTATITIS: "Do you honestly believe all that bullshit about having to believe a particular dogma or else you'll suffer eternally in Hell? Do you really think that murderers who 'find Christ' go to Heaven while good people like Mahatma Gandhi go to Hell?"

ANGINA: "If you'd read the Bible, you'd see that it's true."

PROSTATITIS: "So I guess we can call Christianity the 'fuck you all' religion. Anyway, a lot of religious books have been written. You only believe this particular one because your parents brainwashed you with it. If you had been born into an Islamic family, you would believe their baloney."

ANGINA: "Those Islamic people are wrong. Look at the terrorism it leads to."

PROSTATITIS: "You think that only Islamic extremists have murdered in the name of their religion? Christianity's entire history is littered with murder, torture and oppression of 'heathens'. Have you ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition? Or the Crusades? It was Christians who murdered the American Indians and enslaved Blacks and burned innocent people for supposedly being witches or merely having dif-"

SEIZURE: "That's all past history, son. Remember, Jesus saves."

PROSTATITIS: "Yes, Jesus saves. Gretzky rebounds ... wrap-around ... he shoots, he scores!"


Author's note:Okay, I'll stop using this play as a forum in which to vent my secular spleen. I shouldn't be so condemning. For example, it would be wrong for me to say that some priests are hypocritical vermin who preach to us about being virtuous while they molest children. It would be mean of me to propose that the Catholic Church frowns upon birth control for no reason other than it's the best way to maximize the production of brainwashed offspring and thereby spread the religion. It would be unfair if I were to write about the psychological damage that parents and religious teachers have inflicted on children by telling them that they're inherently sinful. So I won't. I also won't say that Christianity has been forced upon millions of people or that the descendants of these victims ignorantly follow the religion of their ancestors' oppressors. I will keep my mouth shut about these matters because, as you know, some religious fanatics will kill you if you point out that their beliefs are ludicrous or that many of their religious leaders are corrupt liars. Oops, ignore that last statement. Also don't listen to me when I tell you that the Bible was written thousands of years ago by men - not God - and you know how people like to exaggerate and fabricate, and anyone who blindly believes those fantastic stories as though they could not possibly have been made up has got their head up their ass.


SEIZURE: "Can't you just lighten up and have a good time? It's your brother's wedding, for chrissake."

Sorry.

PROSTATITIS: "You're right. I'm happy for him, and I hope I find someone as wonderful as Melanoma some day."

ANGINA: "That's better. Here, have some kreplach."

Enter PSORIASIS.

SEIZURE: "Hello professor. I'm glad you made it."

PSORIASIS: "Me too. I love hearing those two little words."

SEIZURE: "You mean, 'I do'?"

PSORIASIS: "No, 'Open bar'."

ANGINA: "You know, JULIUS and I have been thinking of renewing our wedding vows."

PSORIASIS: "Why? That's like reheating crappy food."

ANGINA: "I just read a great book called Make Your Marriage Work by Stan Byerman. He says that renewing vows can rekindle love."

PSORIASIS: "I guess it can if you need that sort of thing. My wife and I have been married for 27 years, and she still treats me like a god - she places a burnt offering in front of me at every meal."

ANGINA: "Ha ha ha! You're so funny!"

PSORIASIS: "I wasn't joking."

ANGINA: "JULIUS and I are going to make the rounds. See you later."

PSORIASIS: "Not if I see you first."

Exit JULIUS SEIZURE and ANGINA.

PROSTATITIS: "So, professor, what do you think of marriage?"

PSORIASIS: "It's an institution."

PROSTATITIS: "So you live in an institution?"

PSORIASIS: "Basically. It provides companionship and meaning for lonely people who might otherwise turn to drugs, the Internet, religion, food or television in a futile attempt to fill their void."

PROSTATITIS: "Why is the marriage ceremony necessary? Why don't people just live together?"

PSORIASIS: "Marriage is a rite of passage that's almost as important as getting your driver's license."

Enter APPENDICITIS and MELANOMA.

MELANOMA: "Hi guys."

PSORIASIS: "There they are. Congratulations you two!"

MELANOMA: "Thanks, Uncle PSORIASIS. Now PROSTATITIS, if he's boring you with his philosophical mumbo jumbo, don't feel like you have to politely listen."

PSORIASIS: "No, we were, uh, discussing environmental issues. For instance, do you realize that if we reduced our meat production by just 25 percent, we could stop importing foreign oil?"

MELANOMA: "Do you realize that you're full of shit?"

APPENDICITIS: "Hey, here come your parents."

Enter DIABETES and SCIATICA.

DIABETES: "Hi everyone. APPENDICITIS and MELANOMA, I wish you a lifetime of happiness. I hope you haven't made the same mistake I did. My first wife made a fool out of me."

SCIATICA: "It was an improvement."

DIABETES: "Ah, my second wife. She's like an angel, always harping."

APPENDICITIS: "What happened to your first wife?"

DIABETES: "She fell to the bottom of a wishing well. I didn't know those things worked."

APPENDICITIS: "Are you happily married now?"

SCIATICA: "Him, yes. Me, no."

DIABETES: "You're like the ocean, SCIATICA - you make me sick."

SCIATICA: "We're just kidding. We're happy together."

DIABETES: "I bought her a microwave oven. Now she can ruin dinner in only 10 minutes. Isn't that right, honey?"

SCIATICA: "When you die, do you want me to bury or cremate you?"

DIABETES: "Surprise me."


I've run out of jokes, so I'll end it here. That's what I love about writing for fun rather than money - I don't have to deliver a sensible ending or a moral message in order to convince people I've never met to buy my work so that I can afford to eat.

You might have noticed that all the characters in this story have Roman-sounding names, like Shakespeare used in Julius Caesar. That's about as close as I could ever get to matching his or any other great writer's accomplishments. For example, poets are famous for romantic prose like:

You are my very reason for living. Without you I sit in darkness, unmoved and unmoving, separated from life, unable to partake of its beauty and bounty. It is only with you, my darling, that life flows through me. My love for you is so vast that if I were to try to contain it with mere words, it would spill over onto this page and wash away the letters, leaving only the invisible shadow of my longing.

or other such nonsense. This verbiage - called "poetry" - is merely a ploy that some men use in order to trick women into having sex with them. Even Shakespeare's Romeo was shallow and horny. Juliet was not the only object of his desire. If you'll recall, at the beginning of the story he lusted after someone else. Then he spotted Juliet, who was even prettier, so his pecker pointed in her direction, and most of the remainder of the play centered on his trying to shtup her.




GREAT  EXPECTORATIONS


Our story begins with Mildred Feeblewitz, a middle-aged housewife from Suburbia Illinois. She has a full-time job raising her 2.6 children and doing all of the household cooking, shopping and cleaning while her husband Gary works in an office at Huge Corporation. She's just finishing putting the groceries away when Gary walks in from a hard day of middle management, removes his suit jacket and loosens his tie. He's such an upstanding citizen. It's 93 degrees out, but he remains fully clothed in public because certain Puritan-ethic prudes might be offended by shirtlessness and he is always considerate of other people's preferences. What a putz.


"How was work today?" asks Mildred, giving him a hug and a kiss.

"Not so good. I sneezed so hard that it blew the vice president's toupee off, which landed in the director of marketing's face, which caused him to fall and break a rib."

"Gesundheit." Good old Mildred, she's so understanding.

"Well, it's Friday, so let's party!" Gary removes his tie and puts on his house sweater, making himself appear like Mister Rogers, except not as cool.

Mildred beams, "I made your favorite: Spam casserole."

He has never had the heart to tell her that he hates this particular dish, choosing instead to sneak portions of it under the table to their dog, Rex. "No wonder Rex is so fat," he mutters.

"What's that?" she asks.

"I said I really like that." Just one of many white lies he has to tell in order to maintain a harmonious relationship. For his entire life he has spared people's feelings and followed rules, and as a result he feels constantly intimidated by the details of his meager existence. He wants to climb mountains and discover the purpose of life, but instead he's changing diapers, paying bills and going on forced visits to his in-laws.

"Oh, and I invited Freda to have dinner with us."

Gary is revolted by her cousin Freda. She's one of those needy, complaining, uninteresting people who doesn't do anything evil but is a burdensome bore. She does nothing more than put a damper on his good time and dilute his interaction with his family, but if he were to tell her to get lost, he would be the one that would look bad. "Oh good," he says. "She's so nice and interesting. What time is she coming over?" So I can time my drinking to deliver alcohol to my brain just before she arrives.

"About 7:15, right after her appointment with her psychiatrist."

Gary can't help supposing that God created people like Freda so that individuals in the mental health field wouldn't starve.

Later, at the dinner table.

"I just love those curtains," Freda flatters. "You have such wonderful taste."

Gary rolls his eyes because he knows that when someone says, "You have good taste," what they're really saying is, "You have my taste." They assume that they have good taste, so if anyone else shares their taste, it must be "good".

"Thank you," says Mildred. "You really should come over more often."

"Oh, I wouldn't want to impose."

Gary grudgingly fibs, "It's no imposition. We like having you visit." Because being with you is almost as much fun as making funeral arrangements.

Freda smiles. "Well, if you insist."

David, the oldest child, starts a new topic, much to Gary's relief. "I turned seven yesterday. Now I'm two years older than Suzie and five years older than Katie."

"So what did you get for your birthday?" inquires Freda.

"A baseball glove, a Gameboy, and a mint coin set."

"Wow! Do you like your coins?"

"They're okay, but they don't taste much like mint."

Freda looks at Mildred, who shrugs at the absurdity as only a parent can.

"Speaking of mint," says Gary, "it's time for dessert: chocolate cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream."

"Oh. I've been trying to lose weight," lies Freda, "but I guess I can indulge tonight and go back on my diet tomorrow."

Mildred makes up her own falsehood in order to spare Freda's feelings. "You look just fine." For a rhinoceros.

"Actually my doctor tells me that I'm not very overweight; I'm just big-boned."

David points at her derrière and says, "Yeah, there's a big bone right there." Ah, if only adults could get away with being so candid. Freda laughs to cover her embarrassment.

"Now David, that's not nice," declares Mildred, stifling her amusement.

Freda broadens her delusion with, "The nation's weight problem stems from those magazines that show skinny women. They look like they never eat, and yet people find them attractive."

Gary exercises good judgment by keeping his thoughts to himself. Yep, those firm breasts and tight, round asses are sickening. Your wide, sagging butt and pendulous boobs look so much better.

"Here we are," says Mildred, putting the cake and ice cream on the table. "The two things I make best are cake and meatloaf."

"Which is this?" Gary inquires.

Everyone gets a piece (of cake, that is). Each person takes a scoop of ice cream with theirs, except Freda, who grabs two scoops.

"How's the cake?" queries Mildred.

Gary doesn't speak up. It's one of those times when he must be silent in order to preserve an agreeable relationship. Freda, too, exercises discretion. David, on the other hand, so innocent and wide-eyed, has not yet lost his forthrightness. "It's yucky."

Mildred looks puzzled. "That's odd. The cookbook says it's delicious."

The next day, at the community pool.

Gary, David and Suzie jump right in while Mildred watches Katie and arranges everyone's belongings on a few chaise longues. She feels self-conscious as she takes off her shirt, revealing ample amounts of extra flesh, but she keeps from feeling too badly by mentally comparing herself to more lowly sorts ("I'm not as fat as those people at the mall"). Gary does the same sort of thing ("I'm not the only one who has peed in this pool").

Several yards away sits Penelope, reading People while her kids play in the pool. Absent is her husband Don. He would rather watch the local team play than spend time with her, and has consequently turned her into a lonely, frustrated sports widow. "Yoo hoo, Mildred!"

Mildred can't stand her, and with good reason: she's the local gossip, keeping tabs on everyone and passing her information on to others as though anyone gives a shit where people work or how long they've lived in the neighborhood. Mildred forces a "Hello" in her direction and makes unnecessary extra work of sorting out her family's stuff in order to avoid useless conversation.

Penelope ambles over to Mildred in pursuit of chitchat, which she needs in order to distract herself from her emptiness. "I hear that Jerry Atrick is retiring to Florida."

"Oh really?" Do you have to intrude, you niggling big mouth?

"Yes. He's got his house for sale. I wonder who my new neighbors will be."

Whoever they are, I feel sorry for them. "Whoever they are, they'll be lucky to live next door to you."

"Yes I know. How much do you think his house is worth?"

That depends on whether the buyer knows that he'll be stuck next to you. "Three hundred? Certainly more than mine."

"You have a cute little house. I'm sure someone would pay two for it."

"Two twenty-five," says Mildred defensively.

Gary, who spotted Mrs. Busybody accosting his wife a minute ago, leaves the water to come to Mildred's rescue. "Honey, the water's nice and warm. I'll take Katie to the wading pool."

"Hello Gary," says Penelope, not to be dissed.

"Oh hi. Beautiful day." At least it was until you came along.

"It certainly is. I wish Don would come out of the den and enjoy it. He's watching baseball, you know."

I would too if I were married to you. "Oh. Well, Katie and I are off." He swoops the child up and walks away, not caring if he seemed a little rude.

"Well, it was nice talking to you," says Mildred, starting to make her getaway.

Penelope can't stand the abandonment. "Let's have lunch sometime."

Mildred knows she doesn't mean it, being a typical plastic woman living a life of self-absorbed conformity, so she says "Sure" as she makes a beeline for the water.

The wading pool is full of toddlers and their mothers. The air is filled with statements such as "Tommy can nap for hours" and "Kristen loves peaches." It takes Gary about 45 seconds to realize why these women get on Mildred's nerves.

"Katie does her own taxes," says Gary. His humor is completely lost on them, mainly because they're basically a herd of contented suburban cows who spend their lives grazing on the largesse of their white-collar warriors. He remembers the girls he went to high school with, how giggly and happy they were, and wonders if they turned out the same way as these cattle.

As he reminisces, he contemplates how rough the dating scene is for men. Men always have to think of an opening line such as "So what do you do for a living?" or "Those are really nice shoes." If a man doesn't make it past that introductory line, he's history, and later the woman and her friends will have a good laugh about him. ("Can you believe he actually said that he'd like to get to know me better? Like I'm gonna fall for that one!") But while those hens are cackling about men, they should think about how creative and suave they would be if they had to make the first move. Men would get to laugh at women's boneheaded opening lines. ("Can you believe she actually asked me if I work out? Like I just naturally have 18-inch biceps!") In reality, men would probably be a lot more lenient with women than women are with men. For example:

Woman:"Hello, my name-"
Man:"Yes, I'll sleep with you."


After 25 more minutes of waxing philosophic, plus fantasizing about performing a sexual act on the woman to his left that would be illegal in every state except Arkansas, he takes Katie to his family's "campsite" and dries her off. He would go back in the pool except he's in such bad shape that any more physical exercise would be hazardous to internal organs. Besides, he swims about as well as a cocker spaniel. He lies back on a chaise longue, reads, and takes in the sights and sounds of a nice day at the pool. A distraught mother with an unlit cigarette in her mouth looks at her little boy and says to her husband, "Bobby swallowed the matches!" Her husband replies, "Here, use my lighter." An older woman wades along wearing a bathing cap. Why is she wearing that thing when she only goes in up to her neck? Some teenage girls challenge each other to a race across the pool doing the breaststroke. After the race, the blonde one cries out, "No fair. You were using your arms!"

An hour later, while driving home from the pool.

"...and that's how babies are made." Gary is such a good father. Just then some asswipe in an old pickup truck cuts him off. He matter-of-factly moves his foot from the gas to the brake pedal in order to avoid a collision. He learned years ago not to get angry at this sort of reckless selfishness when it finally occurred to him that everyone is selfish and that many people feel no obligation to be considerate toward total strangers. Thus he came to expect other drivers to be selfish, so he did not poison himself with rage and stress when they were rude and he was pleasantly surprised when they weren't. He makes a mental note of how a disproportionate number of jerks drive pickup trucks and vans (not minivans, but the old boxy vans). Is it because those are the types of vehicles that assholes like to drive? Or do their large vehicles give them a sense of invincibility? Probably both.

"Let's get some ice cream," suggests Mildred.

The supermarket is nice and cool. The Feeblewitzes make their way past the laxatives and hemorrhoid creams to the frozen food section and grab several containers of different ice cream flavors. They find a checkout line with one customer, so they figure they'll be out in no time. Then the customer takes out a checkbook to pay for her three items. Gary hates how people do this, slowing everyone else down by refusing to carry cash and writing checks from the Bank of Mogadishu or some other obscure institution that makes it necessary to show two forms of identification. She stands there obstructing progress, wearing a muumuu, like a dunghill covered with flowers, while Gary imagines the ice cream melting and resents her because she has about the same amount of useful life as confetti. He laments the fact that we all have to endure undesirable people in our lives, so we live in a perpetual cold war of mutual indifference and restrained disgust, existing in close proximity to unwanted folks, exchanging light and formal banter at certain times in order to placate them, trying not to piss them off as we share roads and wait in lines with them, secretly wishing that all but the most benevolent fraction of mankind would vaporize so that the remaining two percent of us could enjoy living together in genuine caring friendliness.

Finally they make it back home. As they relish the ice cream in their safe haven of cable TV, computers, CD players, DVD players and other yupperware, Gary thinks about how lucky they are to live in this time and place. None of these amenities would be available to them if they lived in a foreign country like Tajikistan or Minnesota.

Oops, out of jokes again.




A  DAY  IN  THE  LIFE


This anecdote is an account of one day in the life of Vinnie Tortellini, a 41-year-old divorcé who lives in a California apartment.


He fixes his morning elixir, which used to be protein powder and milk; now it's coffee and Prozac. Coffee gives him so much more pleasure than most things, including his ex-wife. For example, coffee doesn't nag him. He can put chocolate in his coffee and it won't put on weight. And when his coffee gets cold, he can just throw it away. He enjoys a few moments of quiet as the piping hot cup of brew opens his eyes and perks up his body. It's the most effective enema he's ever tried.

The shower is both invigorating and relaxing. He always takes at least 15 minutes to give himself a good cleaning, and this makes him wonder about people who take only five minutes. Do they wash everything? Do they wash everything well? If you've already gone through the process of undressing and getting your entire body wet, does it make sense to not wash your feet or your ass?

On the way to work he listens to the news. He can't remember how old he was when he made the switch from FM music to AM talk. The Ku Klux Klan is rallying in Indiana. Great. Just what we need - to protect a bunch of ignorant rednecks' right to free speech. He loathes bigots, not just because they unjustly hate innocent people, but also because they're immature weaklings who spend little or no energy toward self-development and who therefore find it necessary to look down on others in an attempt to feel better about themselves, kind of like I'm doing here. They erroneously point to people of different nationalities, beliefs or skin color as being bad, inferior, or unworthy of life, so they can delude themselves that belonging to their own particular ethnic, religious or racial group makes them "good" by default. The truth is that, in terms of maturity and goodness, racists are far below the people they look down upon.

A young woman saunters across the street. He stops in order to let her pass. She makes no attempt to speed up her gait, and this annoys him to no end. He has the power to run her over with a tap of his foot, and he would probably do so if he wouldn't get thrown in jail. Instead, he shifts into neutral and hits the gas. The engine revs. Startled, she looks at his car but continues her slow walk to the curb. He smiles as he shifts back into drive and takes off, thinking of her disdainfully while she has the same low regard for him.

"Bitch."

"Dick."

Vinnie hates his job, so his office is basically Hell divided into cubicles. His boss is about as pleasant as a tax audit, and the secretary is so stupid that she once tripped over a cordless phone. She's also a die-hard feminist who actively looks for evidence of chauvinism whenever men speak. As he walks by her desk, he just has to rattle her cage.

Vinnie:"Good morning. My, you look beautiful and feminine today!"
Cindy:"What?! Why, you chauvinist pig! How dare you?"
Vinnie:"Uh, you look ... nice, yeah, that's it - nice."
Cindy:"Don't say I look nice. Whaddaya mean by 'nice', anyway?"
Vinnie:"Shut up, you ugly bitch."
Cindy:"That's better."

Paradoxically, Cindy is a rather easy piece, partly because her loneliness and horniness override her distrust of men, and partly because she realizes deep down that the feminist movement has degenerated from promoting women's rights to man bashing. She will offer herself to anyone who appears to be someone that might eventually love her so that she can stop being so bitter. This describes just about any man who acknowledges her existence, so she's basically a yeast infection waiting to happen.

The only positive thing Vinnie sees in his coworkers is that they make him feel good about himself. He takes pride in doing more with his life than most other people do, and doing it better. But from whence comes his need to accomplish and succeed and emotionally distance himself from others? An overbearing father who pushed him to excel but never taught him to love? An inborn drive toward excellence? Remorse about his past failures? And why am I psychoanalyzing a fictitious character?

His first official action of the day: hit the restroom. He makes it a point to defecate on company time. Considering what the company gives him, he's merely returning the favor.

Emerging satisfied from the stall, he washes up and ambles to his desk to start ripping off customers. He's not proud of selling cars, but he has to make a living. Anyway, if he didn't overcharge prospective car buyers, someone else would.

His third call of the day is to Les Moore, who had come in a few days earlier to test drive the Dodge Draft.

"Can I be honest with you?" (As if the guy's gonna say, "No, lie to me.") "We've got to make room for the new models, so I'm willing to sell this car for less than the invoice price."

"Oh really?" says Les. "You're in business to lose money?"

"No. But sometimes we have to take a small loss as part of our normal business." Come on, just believe my lie - I need the commission.

"Well, let me sleep on it."

"All right, Mr. Moore. I'll talk to you soon." [Click] Asshole.

Dick Trickle, another salesman in the showroom, loves to gloat whenever Vinnie loses a sale. "Lose another one?"

"Does the expression 'pound sand' mean anything to you?"

"No. But 'starving loser' does."

"I'd smack you, but shit splatters."

Dick goes back under his rock while Vinnie laments this economic system in which folks vie for their piece of the pie and one worker's gain means another's loss, causing people to compete rather than cooperate. They focus so much on the rat race that they often forget how to love. Love is a marvelous resource. The more of it you give, the more you get. Unlike material wealth, it is not a zero-sum game: the more you love others, the more they love you in return. Of course, all the love in the world won't get you the material things you want. You can't walk into a department store and say to the cashier, "I love you. Give me a toaster."

He loathes the whole industrialized system of labor, where a man is merely a replaceable part of an economic machine and has to compete with his peers for employment. Get better grades! Sell more merchandise! Put on an impressive act at the job interview! He dreams of how the old agrarian system must have been, where men worked their own land and did not have to prostitute themselves to faceless corporations; where men spent a good deal of time at home instead of spending 8, 10, or perhaps 12 hours a day locked in a factory or office where they were unable to use any of that time to teach or play with their children. It is sheer lunacy how consumers work long hours just so they can fill their homes with more stuff, while allowing their families to break up because they spend so much time working and using the things they buy. He regrets having been a materialistic drone during his six years of marriage, coming home at 6 PM too exhausted and irritated from on-the-job stress to enjoy being with his family. Now the only people he has daily contact with are an asshole business rival and a feminist slut.

Let's get out of here. After work, Vinnie buys a newspaper and goes home.

The personal ads make good reading while sipping his wine. He has learned to take all ads with a grain of salt, because most people who place them are desperate and therefore tend to exaggerate. He places equally dishonest ads. For example, his ad this week says, "In search of sincere, mature woman with whom to have a long-term meaningful relationship. Looks unimportant." What he really means is, "Wanted: young, beautiful, well-built nymphomaniac for sex, fun and sex. The younger the better. Intelligence unimportant. You could have the IQ of a Handi-Wipe and I wouldn't care."

One thing about personal ads that irks him is all the married men looking for women. They say in no uncertain terms that they're married and that they want women for "discreet" relationships, thereby openly admitting that they plan to commit adultery. On one hand they seem like lecherous men who are incapable of maintaining an intimate relationship. But, on the other hand, maybe they are in love with their wives but the sex is not very good. Or perhaps they are not very attracted, physically, to their mates. A man will pay a chef for a meal even though his wife normally cooks for him, because she can't cook that kind of food that well, and this does not mean that he doesn't love her or that he plans to leave her. Similarly, a man will keep a mistress or pay a prostitute for physical beauty and sexual pleasures that his wife cannot or will not provide, and perhaps obtaining these services elsewhere diminishes neither his love for his wife nor his dedication to his family. Nowadays, with the Internet, some men have cyber affairs, and in my opinion, this is relatively harmless, since the guy never actually touches or even sees the woman. Nonetheless, some wives get upset even about this. Look at the positive side, ladies: a cyber affair can help your husband learn new skills (for example, typing with one hand). Furthermore, there's only a small chance that the person he's corresponding with is even a woman. Lots of men get their jollies by masquerading as women online. Your husband might believe that he's conversing with a gorgeous 22-year-old blonde, but in reality he might be whacking off to a fat 51-year-old plumber named George.

As usual, no interesting leads. Why does he even read personal ads? Because he's desperate: the last time he got a piece of ass was when his fingers ripped through the toilet paper. Oh well, time to turn on the TV.

[Click] Crap. [Click] Boring. [Click] Mindless sitcom. [Click] News. There's a lovely picture of a fugitive who's wanted for murder. Why are these criminals always so unkempt? It's amazing how there can be such disparity between people who grow up in the same society. Look at this guy - he's missing so many teeth, it looks like his tongue is in jail.

Another piece on child molestation by priests. They keep digging up this old story as if it's news. There has always been pedophilia in the priesthood, in part because priests are forbidden to have sex and therefore don't get the outlet that the rest of us have. Where in the Bible does it say that priests must be celibate, anyway? Clergy celibacy was invented in the Middle Ages. If we are supposed to hang on to outdated medieval practices, then let's bring back bloodletting for sick people and outlaw bathing.

An inner city woman was stabbed 32 times. A local resident on camera is saying, in all seriousness, "I can see stabbing someone two or three times, but 32 times? That's ridiculous."

[Click] "Fosters. Australian for beer." Yeah, that sounds cool, but I happen to know that all the Fosters sold in the United States is brewed in Canada.

[Click] Inbreds yelling at each other on a talk show. Oh, that's new. Topic: "My mother is sleeping with my boyfriends." That one's only been done about 243 times already. Is anyone really this ignorant and wretched? Is it actually possible for a human being to sink this low? If not, then these people are doing the best piece of acting television has seen since Chief Jay Strongbow's war dance.

Seven hours later.

[Click] It figures that Sally Struthers would come on now, when most viewers at this hour are suicidal depressives, substance abusers and mental defectives. What's that she's advertising? Classes at a "university" that no one's ever heard of? Why do the proprietors think anyone will listen to her after she spent years telling us to feed starving children while gaining 150 pounds herself? Tell you what, Gloria: if I ever need a degree in obesity, I'll call you.

[Click] Oh boy, another televangelist peddling Jesus. There must be a lot of morons out there keeping these guys in business. I'd like to get a piece of that money pie. How can I get my own cable show so I can rip off old people and shut-ins?

[Click] Rush Limbaugh. Another bullshitter who appeals to the ignorant and the disillusioned. Hey, do you really believe that right-wing tripe, you bloated Nazi gasbag? I read one of your books. The entire Gettysburg address was written on the back of an envelope, but it took you 374 pages to tell me you're an asshole.

A few channels later our hero falls asleep. Now, doesn't he make you feel better about your own life?




POETRY


Tis better to live with struggle and strife
than to remain uninvolved with life.
I'm always looking for a mountain to climb,
slaying dragons on borrowed time.
There was a time when I was alone,
with no external problems in my zone.
But although I could afford to be lazy,
the lack of challenges drove me crazy.
The worst feeling I ever had
was watching myself go mad.
Then I started writing these stupid books.


How impossible it is to remain happily involved with life when one's love and caring are left to wither in the barren field of indifference. One might offer the most noble and valiant spaces of one's heart, and be left to drown in the sea of unrequited love. Even the sweetest beauties and pleasures of this world cannot be enjoyed without someone else's love. Things are dead until we love someone, because only love has meaning. How magnificent when someone truly loves us! Except when he/she pisses us off!


I feel as though
I've reached an abstract plateau,
with more meaningful goals
than other lost souls.
Ah, who am I kidding?
I drink beer and work for the government.


We need to have bad times in order to fully appreciate and enjoy the good. But do our few moments in the sun merit the dark hours that bought them? Christ, I hope so.




YOU'RE  OK,  I'M  A  MORON


I'm tired of feeling morally, intellectually and spiritually superior to 90-something percent of humanity. I'm no better than anyone else. In fact, I'm worse. I'm a jerk for not jumping on the ignorance bandwagon. Who am I to live by useless principles like honesty and hard work and reason? I should buy products because they're trendy, not functional; I should devoutly follow a particular religion and view everyone who doesn't follow it as Hell-bound heathens; I should wear ties and suits instead of comfortable clothing; I should drink Coke and Budweiser and Starbucks coffee and smoke Marlboros and grow fat and watch three hours of television a day and tailgate and cut off other drivers and vote the party line and make no attempt to understand people who are different and refuse to pay a lot for my muffler. All these years I've been traveling to the beat of my own drum and avoiding the mainstream path of least resistance, and it turns out that I've been horribly wrong. I should just give up and allow myself to be assimilated. After all, it's easy and popular. I'm sorry for thinking outside the box and wanting justice and being responsible and putting relationships ahead of material things. What was I thinking? So from now on I shall live by the following philosophy:

The Declaration of Dependence


We the sheeple, in order to create a more homogenous society, establish this Declaration of Dependence. We will wear clothing that does not set us apart from the mainstream. We will go to a church/synagogue/mosque every weekend, or at least on major holidays, in order to score points for the afterlife just in case there is one. We will make efforts to ensure that our vehicles and lawns look as good as those of our neighbors. We will criticize and/or ridicule those who look, act or think differently from us because, after all, our particular lifestyle / religion / political party is the only correct one. We will follow norms, fashion and guidelines that have already been established by others, so that we can enjoy the uncreative safety that comes with conformity. We will look for others' approval in everything we do, lest anyone think that we have the audacity to oppose outdated rituals or beliefs.


Oh, and by the way, I'm not really an author - I just play one in my books.

I wish I were a pack rat. You know, the type of person who never throws anything out and who goes to yard sales in search of more stuff. It doesn't matter very much whether it's useful; if it's material, it's worth having. A pack rat will hold onto a carburetor from a 1973 Ford Torino, just in case he ever acquires a 1973 Ford Torino that's missing a carburetor. So I'm gonna stop throwing stuff away. From now on nothing leaves my house. Who cares how cluttered my living space becomes? I'm sure that one day I'll find a use for my old newspapers and empty milk cartons.

I'm gonna start eating at restaurants more often. It is good for the soul to feel helpless, ordering food and then living on nothing but bread and water, like a jailed felon, while waiting half an hour for someone who barely got out of high school to bring it. Finally the salad arrives. The dressing - which I had requested on the side - is in the salad, but at this point I'm so starved that I would eat a plate of lawn clippings if it were put it in front of me. Eventually my meal arrives, in about the same amount of time it took Columbus to cross the Atlantic, and it's overcooked, but I never send food back in a restaurant because I know that this angers the cook and causes him to spit on my broiled cod. Maybe some seasoning will make it more palatable. "Miss, can I have some ketchup? Miss, can I..." Too late. I'll just wait five more minutes til she gets back. The really fun part is when I want to leave: I actually have to ask for the bill. Sometimes they even make me wait five or ten minutes for it. Why? Do they not want me to pay? And of course I am expected to tip the waitperson for the stellar service. Okay, here's a tip: go back to school.

I've got to find tapes of the TV show Survivor. I never used to watch because the contestants didn't do anything really amazing, they were given a sustenance diet so that they wouldn't die if they didn't scrounge up something to eat on their own, and most of the show was just stupid interviews. I'd have watched Katie Couric's colonoscopy before I'd watch that garbage. But now that I want to be normal, I've got to be knowledgeable about Survivor if I'm to have interesting conversations with ordinary people. I might have watched the show during its heyday if they had let the contestants kill and eat each other. Raw.

Another great show I missed was Jackass, where retards would perform stunts such as diving into septic tanks and cooking their own vomit on a skillet. Actually I was grateful for this show because it made one of my favorite programs - The Man Show - seem fairly intelligent. Every week or so I'd sneak downstairs while my wife and kids were out of earshot and watch the latest episode, which had been taped the previous Sunday using my VCR's timer. You might think it beneath the dignity of someone with a master's degree to laugh at juvenile humor and watch bikini-laden women jump on trampolines, but believe me, a guy is a guy is a guy, whether he's Albert Einstein or Tom Arnold. I'm sure Stephen Hawking would love to watch this show while drinking beer from one of those hats with the cup holder and straw.

And let's not forget the Miss America Pageant, where simpering women try to gain fame and fortune that the rest of us homely people haven't the slightest chance of winning. We simultaneously envy and despise them, but I'm not gonna let that keep me from adopting the game show mentality and watching it. I hereby turn off my cerebral cortex and accept the notion that the perfect woman is a living Barbie doll whose life consists of tanning, pedicures, hair styling, bikini waxes, putting on skimpy outfits, looking into mirrors, and telling everyone that she wants world peace.

I've added professional wrestling to my list of must-sees. I used to watch when I was a kid and most professional wrestlers had normal names like Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales and Ivan Koloff. Even the nicknames were fairly conventional, such as Bulldog Brower and Andre the Giant. Matches were quite entertaining and were pretty much what you'd expect: large men pummeling each other, jumping on each other from the top of the ropes, and hitting each other with chairs. Now you've got aliases like The Rock, Crowbar, The Undertaker, X-Pac and Rhino. Nicknames are more evil than they used to be, e.g. Horace the Psychopath. There is a lot more verbiage than there used to be, because it sells to the millions of die-hard fans who have the mental capacity of a turnip. Some wrestlers paint their faces in order to add to the hoopla, but unfortunately the ones who would most benefit from face painting don't do it. For example, there's a wrestler called Triple-H who is so ugly that he makes Linda Tripp look almost human. Anyway, I plan to start watching this spectacle just as soon as I get that lobotomy.

Phone sex lines do so much business that I've got to start calling them. I know that they must be fantastic because their ads always say something like, "Meet someone tonight! Join the party! Need a date? Hot locals want to meet you! Strictly sex. XXX nasty girls. Get sex tonight! Real horny girls. Get off. Live domination. Uncensored action." And I know that the women I'll talk to must be the gorgeous ones pictured in the ads, not dumpy housewives faking orgasms for extra money. After all, beautiful women have nothing better to do at 4 in the morning than talk to losers like me.

The next time there's a riot, I'm gonna join in. It might seem wrong that whenever people riot - no matter how "noble" the cause - the rioters steal things; but they have a right to loot and pillage because they're pissed off. Take the Rodney King riots. The grounds for rioting were quite reasonable: "A complete stranger who happens to have the same skin color as me got beaten up, so that entitles me to a television. I am also justified in committing arson." So what if Rodney King has an arrest record as long as your arm and has never worked an honest day in his life and is a large, powerful man who resisted arrest? The riots' end justified their means: the LAPD subsequently paid Mr. King several million dollars, which of course he deserves for being such a productive, upstanding citizen.

On a related note, I think O.J. got a bad rap. I mean, you can be a football hero and a movie star for years and years, but kill two people and right away they want to lock you up.

I'm gonna subscribe to some bodybuilding magazines. Their ads claim that I can attain the size of the ox-like piles of beef that pose on almost every page. The women bodybuilders are especially attractive, with androgynous bodies and emaciated faces that resemble skull creatures from a horror movie. They look like Michael Jackson, except more masculine.

Nothing makes me feel better than receiving, in the mail, a "medical" publication selling vitamins and other substances, promising vibrant health to everyone including terminal cancer patients. The cover usually has a picture of someone - who you know must be a doctor because he's wearing a white coat and a stethoscope - with a quote that says, "It doesn't matter if you are grossly obese or have high cholesterol or are missing a major limb; buy my products and these problems will be magically cured!" Inside will be fantastic claims such as, "We have defeated cancer!" Basically what they are telling you is, "We have the cure for cancer, but rather than get a patent for it and sell it to a major company like Merck for hundreds of millions of dollars, we want to give it to you for only $29.95 and remain a shady, obscure group of sleazy salespeople!"

We always hear people complain about various idiots and assholes who cut them off on the highway or almost ran them off the road. But we never hear anyone admit to such gaffes, e.g. "I cut right in front of a car full of nuns today. Boy, am I a schmuck." So I can only conclude that there is one guy out there, driving 24-7, who is causing all this mayhem. He makes the rounds on every major highway and side street, pissing everyone off, while the rest of us drive perfectly well.

Remember Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I can't wait for other "Who Wants to" shows. I've thought of a few:

Who Wants to Have a Prostate Exam?
Who Wants to Eat Dog Poop?
Who Wants to Marry OJ?
Who Wants to Get Audited?
Who Wants to Live in New Jersey?
Who Wants to Sleep with Marlon Brando?
Who Wants to Become a Crack Whore?
Who Wants to Get Herpes?

Politicians do not deserve the criticism they endure. For example, whenever a group of people becomes economically disadvantaged, you can count on Republicans to offer a sensible plan ("Let's give a tax break to large corporations!") in order to help those poor people out. I'm glad we have politicians who are willing to make sure that corporate executives can afford necessities such as summer homes, sports cars and prostitutes.

I'm going to start attending my high school reunions. I feel the need to travel hundreds of miles in order to spend a few hours with people that I have had no desire to see for the past quarter of a century. My ego needs to show them that I'm not the loser I used to be, and I can't wait to hear them brag about their success ("Look at me - I'm a successful doctor / lawyer / Hollywood producer!")

There is no better way to spend an hour of your time than by doing aerobics. I enjoy having a tyrannical anorexic command me to mirror her frantic movements. Aerobics can be low-impact or high-impact, depending on the malice of your instructor, and you must keep focused on her because if your attention wanders you will never be accepted by the "beautiful people", who of course you never meet anyway because they all live in expensive gated communities where the guards have orders to shoot average-looking people like you on sight. Sometimes you have trouble seeing the bouncing beauty leading you because your view is obstructed by a large woman who is basically a hippo in a leotard. Aerobics is the great equalizer: men and women alike struggle to keep up. I took a few "kickboxercise" classes, thinking that my prior kickboxing experience would be an advantage. However, the instructor had us do a series of impractical movements that made me use muscles I didn't know I had. She went at her own Nazi pace, having absolutely no idea that we humans were on the verge of heart attacks, and caused me to gasp and move ineffectually like a penguin with Tourette syndrome. I wrestled in college and didn't strain as hard as I did under Fršu Uberbitch.

There is no better way to measure one's worth to society than with an IQ test. Certainly nobody who scores less than 100 could possibly be nice or interesting or good at a trade. I took an IQ test many years ago. I remember one particular question:

    Of the following four words, pick the
    one that differs from the other three.
        A) scissors
        B) knife
        C) soap
        D) sword

I chose "soap", because all the others are sharp, metal instruments that can be used for cutting or stabbing. The official answer was "knife". You know why? Because all the others begin with the letter 'S'. Of course! What the hell was I thinking? Some people would say that the test makers are nitpicky, tunnel-visioned geeks who only create these tests as a way of making themselves feel as though they're better than the rest of us who got dates in high school, but I beg to differ. We need intelligent dorks to show the rest of us what morons we are. Just remember that their brains are full of important things like theories and equations, so don't make fun of them for not knowing trivial things like social skills or how to change a tire.

I simply don't travel enough. I spend way too much time with my loved ones. I really should fly to foreign lands more often, because let's face it, there's nothing more fun than waiting for two hours at an airport and spending thousands of dollars on airfare and lodging. And let's not forget the wonderful microbes you can pick up. Of particular note was my 1987 trip to Cancķn. On my final evening there I ate at seven different places, consuming enough Mexican food to be considered a Class 3 explosive. In the middle of the night I experienced Montezuma's Revenge, which combines the wonderful feeling of puking in a Third World toilet with the added benefit of diarrhea. The plane ride home seemed longer than a B movie on a bad date, and it was probably the only time in my life that I ever wished there were a terrorist on my flight. But travel has been very educational for me. For instance, I can now say "Kaopectate" in five languages.

Speaking of traveling, there's nothing like flying in an airplane to make me feel at ease. I love being packed like cattle into coach seating which reclines, for my comfort, about three angstroms. The stewardesses, who are more make-up than personality, serve delicious cuisine that would make Denny's proud. The fat stranger practically sitting in my lap adds a personal touch that you just can't find, say, on a bus. And every piece of luggage I check makes it safely to its destination. Of course, the destination might be Portugal, even though I'm flying to Baltimore. You know the feeling: you wait patiently at the conveyor belt while about 387 bags and suitcases stroll by, mocking you, and after about thirty minutes, when you start to see the same unclaimed items a second or third time and no new items are appearing, you experience the horror of realizing that THOSE MORONS LOST MY LUGGAGE! So, full of righteous indignation, you make haste to the nearest counter and explain, in a tightly controlled voice even though you'd like to kill everyone in the airline industry, that YOU IDIOTS LOST MY LUGGAGE AND I WANT YOU TO FIND IT, GODDAMMIT! So the employee behind the counter, who has been on Prozac for seven years because his entire job consists of dealing with irate people like you, offers the most insincere apology a human being can make before spending 20 minutes typing messages into his computer such as, "Any chance of getting this suitcase back into the States before Labor Day?" Then, when it has become apparent that your possessions are lying somewhere alongside Jimmy Hoffa, he'll have you fill out some kind of claim form, which serves no useful purpose other than to keep you occupied so you don't snap and go postal. You might be given an 800 number to call in order to "track" your piece of luggage, but don't get your hopes up that the "luggage professionals" will ever find it because the education level of most baggage handlers is one step below that of stewardesses. Okay, maybe I shouldn't pick on baggage handlers so much. After all, luggage handling is not a simple task: they put the luggage in the plane, the plane takes off, the plane lands, and the luggage is gone. It's very complicated.




RAMBLIN'   MAN


I could stop here, but I'm too full of myself. It's your fault, though: if you didn't encourage me by reading my rubbish, I'd cease writing. This is why so much power is in the hands of ignoramuses like Louis Farrakhan and Pat Buchanan: so many badly informed people follow them that they are encouraged to keep spouting their babble. It's amazing the bullshit that people will believe and the lengths to which they can be duped. Look at Islamic terrorists: they're brainwashed into murdering innocent people and believing that God will actually reward them for doing so. In fact, Islam has a history of bigotry, misogyny, intolerance, hatred and violence that is second only to Christianity.

So if morons like Rosie O'Donnell and Jesse Jackson can gain a large following, why can't I? Very few people will listen to me even though I speak and write at least as clearly as, and more truthfully than, any pope or politician. Perhaps that's my problem: I'm too honest. If I were to tell people that we're all here for just a short time and that we should focus on things that we know to be true and good such as our loved ones and our health, they'd be bored with such ho-hum claptrap. But if I were to proclaim that we should take arms against a certain ethnic or religious group, then I would gain the support of bigoted extremists, ruffle everybody else's feathers, and become noticed by everyone. I would never do that, of course, because I wouldn't want to gain fame and power if I had to sink to the lowest common denominator to do it.

My honesty has done more than keep me unknown; it has also ruined almost every sexual opportunity Iíve ever encountered. While other men lie to women and buy them dinner in order to woo them into bed, I refuse to play that game and instead spend my energies on hobbies. And the few women Iíve met who werenít turned off by my candor werenít even interested in what I had to say. All they wanted to do was have sex, take the fifty dollars and leave.

The human race is a screwed-up bunch. For the species with the most mental capacity, we sure do suffer a lot. Not just the unfortunates who live in poverty, oppression and disease, but even those of us who have it relatively easy. We are blessed with freedom, education, medicine and opportunity, and instead of rejoicing in how good we have it, we create new problems: depression, alcoholism, workaholism, child abuse, spousal abuse, divorce, obesity, loneliness, emptiness, and daytime talk shows. We have regret about the past and anxiety about the future, and we fail to live now. A significant percentage of people - including children - are in therapy. Not that the need for psychological help is anything new. Humans have always needed support in dealing with emotional problems, but it's only been since the late 20th century that so much help has been available and there hasn't been a large social stigma attached to it. I once saw a counselor on a monthly basis, and it was a therapeutic experience for me. I unloaded my problems on her and really got in touch with my inner self. Finally after about five months she said something I'll never forget: "No hablo Inglés."

I also went for relationship counseling with my (now ex-) wife. I had a lot to learn about the differences between men and women. Women are caring, emotional, thoughtful creatures who leave love notes for their men such as:

     Dear Bob,
       I love you very much!
     Love, Mary

Men, on the other hand, tend to be inconsiderate numbskulls who would never on their own think to leave their women written messages. And when a man does leave a note (because his woman tells him to), it's usually an emotionless, functional memo such as:

     1. I fed the dog.
     2. Your mother died.
     3. Pick up some milk.

After more than 40 years of searching, I've found a way to solve all my problems: give up. Struggling to obtain everything I want and make everything go my way simply made me stressed and unhappy. For example, I used to try to get my wife to live the way I thought she should live. I'd say things like "Stop spending so much money" and "Stop having orgies with bikers", but we'd just fight and end up at the police station or the emergency room. By giving up the ridiculous idea that I have any control over my life, I now enjoy inner peace and serenity. It's like becoming a pod person in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Come on, join me. It's painless.

You can go a step beyond simply not being bothered by absurdities - you can actually learn to enjoy them. I like it when some driver cuts me off and nearly runs me off the road; after all, he's certainly more important than I am. I celebrate when the state and federal governments take a third of my paycheck so a senator can go to Bermuda and a third-generation welfare recipient can have her ninth kid. Nothing pleases me more than reading about an innocent person being knifed to death by a convicted murderer who had been "rehabilitated" and released. I love it when the media broadcasts to the world - including al Qaeda - our military weapons capabilities, plans and troop movements. Yessir, nothing beats feeling helpless in a world of injustice. It gives me incentive to drink.




FROM  QUEER  TO  ETERNITY


Fear, ignorance and selfishness are rampant among the human race. A lot of people will hate, criticize, distrust or kill you merely for having different beliefs, clothing, language, skin color or preferences from theirs. These bigots are different from me, so I believe that they should be killed.

If you are atypical, then you will want to make sure that the mainstream people in your life are mature, well-adjusted individuals who do not feel threatened by people who differ from them. I wonder if there really is such a thing as a "typical" or "normal" person, since each of us has our own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, interests, lifestyle and problems. I have met a few people who approximate the definition of "normal", and you know what? They're boring. They aren't at all interesting or funny. They have monotone voices. They seem to live in fear of being unique or getting noticed. Perhaps they think that by blending into the crowd they will be accepted by everyone, but this acceptance is lukewarm at best because the rest of us sense that they don't stand for anything and thus don't deserve our respect. This is why Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential election.

Left-handers are out of the ordinary, composing only about 10% of the population. However, this fraction has many prestigious members including George Burns, Babe Ruth, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Dick Van Dyke, Pablo Picasso, Charlie Chaplin, Paul McCartney, Michelangelo, Robert DeNiro, Jim Henson, Marilyn Monroe, Buzz Aldrin and Carol Burnett. On the other hand, this group also contains Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, Jack the Ripper and the Boston Strangler.

While left-handers have not been deliberately persecuted as often as some groups have*, many products and activities favor the right-handed majority. Scissors, can openers, wristwatches, slot machines, school desks, automobiles, motorcycles and phonograph tone arms make using one's left hand difficult. Polo cannot be played left-handed. About the only time righties get a taste of what it's like to be left-handed in a right-handed society is when they come to a tollbooth. Sometimes adjustments can be made, for example, lefty Jimi Hendrix restrung his guitar. And occasionally left-handedness can be an advantage: 40% of top tennis players are lefties (including Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova).

* For many years parochial school nuns used to beat left-handed kids because being left-handed was considered "sinister". I don't know how this cruelty could have happened, when the Catholic Church has always been such a beacon of tolerance and understanding.

Left-handers are twice as likely as right-handers to qualify for MENSA membership; however, they're thrice as likely to be alcoholics. Half the students in remedial reading classes are lefties, perhaps because reading from left to right is difficult (I wonder if it's the other way around in Israel). The left brain (analytical/thinking) encourages right-handedness, while the right brain (intuitive/creative/feeling) encourages left-handedness. Maybe this is why liberals and Democrats are referred to as "left-wing", while the term "right-wing" is used to describe conservatives and Republicans.

Another group that is said to compose about 10% of the population is the gay community, although I think that this figure is exaggerated. Then again, maybe 10% of the people I know really are gay but I don't know it because they don't show it. I mean, not every homosexual talks funny and not every lesbian wears flannel.

Why do some people prefer sex with members of their own gender? I think it's mostly genes. I don't think that straight men "turn gay" as a result of failing at sports or having overbearing mothers. Similarly, I don't think that straight women turn gay because they're too ugly to attract men or because their parents are Sonny and Cher.

Some "experts" try to tell us that homosexuality is a disease. If they want us to believe that, fine - let's get some time off from work by calling in gay. "Hello, can't work today. Still queer."

First I want to discuss the male members (heh heh) of the gay community. Homosexuals have been discriminated against since biblical times, and like other forms of discrimination, it makes no sense at all. There is no need to use sexual preference, skin color or religion as an excuse for persecution, because there are plenty of good reasons to hate people on an individual basis. There are so many assholes in every demographic group who deserve our contempt that it would be a waste to hate them for their particular gender, ethnicity or religion instead of simply because they're assholes. Anyway, I don't understand why heterosexual men would have anything against homosexuals. If there's anyone that heterosexual men shouldn't like, it's other heterosexual men, since they present competition for available females. I wish that 99% of all men were gay, so I could have just about any woman I wanted. Ah, who am I kidding? I couldn't get laid in a women's prison with a handful of pardons.

Gay bashing is merely men's way of proving that they're not gay. The twisted idea is that if they verbally or physically abuse homosexuals, then certainly they cannot possibly be queer because they would not oppress their own kind. This is just one of the things that men do in a pathetic attempt to attract women. It's right up there with weightlifting. And men are constantly frustrated because when they go into a bar feeling all muscular and homophobic, they see women hanging out with skinny effeminate guys.

The fact that a man is a fudge packer doesn't erase his value to society. No one can refute that Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury (the lead singer for Queen) added something special to many of our lives. And let's not forget Liberace, the famous keyboardist. He was great on the piano (but he sucked on the organ).

Lesbians have been equally ridiculed by the closed-minded mainstream, and I can only theorize why. Maybe people don't like the idea of a woman doing a man's job. Perhaps horny men are resentful because each woman who turns out to be a carpet muncher represents one less potential sex partner for them. Maybe some heterosexual women are jealous because they never got to act out their own vagitarian fantasies.

Some women who think they're gay are not - they're just confused about their sexuality. How can a woman know the difference? Well, here are a few signs that could indicate that you're a muff diver:

There are several advantages to being a gynocentric being: you get to wear comfortable clothing, you don't have to shave your legs, and you can get promoted at work merely by yelling "discrimination". There are also advantages for the rest of us. For example, humor:

What did one lesbian frog say to the other lesbian frog? "Hey, we really do taste like chicken!"

What do you call a lesbian with thick fingers? Well-hung.

What do you call a lesbian dinosaur? A lickalotapuss.

What do you call a lesbian opera singer? A muff diva.

What do you get when you have 50 Congressmen and 50 lesbians in the same room? 100 people who don't do dick.




STROKING  HIS  PUTTS


It's a beautiful day at Willow Avenue Sports Pavilion (WASP) golf club. About thirty middle-to-upper-class folks are milling around the parking lot, clubhouse and putting green on a Sunday morning. The air is rife with the usual golf-related banter.


"Playing 18?"

"No, just 9 today - I'm not feeling up to par."

"How'd you do yesterday?"

"Not good. On the 18th I overshot the green. My wife was sitting by the clubhouse and the ball hit her in the head."

"Wow. Rough."

"I'll say. I took a double-bogey."

"Why doesn't she ever play with you?"

"Because then I'd have to say, 'Great shot Honey!' 142 times."

Orville Pigdicker is heading for the 1st tee. He passes a pair of lovely lasses unloading their car and can't resist the temptation. "Hi ladies. Wanna have a threesome?"

"I assume you're referring to golf."

"Yeah, that too."

Twenty minutes later Sue, Ellen and Orville are walking down the fairway. "I hope I break 100 today," says Ellen.

"There are lotsa ways to lower your score," offers Orville. "For example, I found a way to cut eleven strokes off my game - I quit on the 17th hole."

"Ha ha ha! That's a good one. Hey, why did Monica Lewinsky refuse to play golf with Bill Clinton?"

"Why?"

"She was tired of his balls hitting her in the face."

They all have a good laugh. Why can't everyone be this lighthearted? Some people have no sense of humor. You tell them a joke and instead of laughing, they take offense or they analyze it. Almost everything - even death - can be funny, at least eventually. Except Ronald McDonald. He's the only clown in the world who's not funny. All across America there are children watching him on TV saying, "Mommy, he's a clown and he sucks!" If I saw him getting beaten up by a gang of hoodlums I wouldn't help him. I'd grab a two by four - WHACK! - right in the McNuggets.

"Why is OJ Simpson such an avid golfer?" Sue titters.

"Why?"

"He gets to knock around something white eighty times a day."

Another round of laughter. Then Orville snorts, "Yeah, and he doesn't have to race home when he's finished."

"His driver doesn't notice if he's not there," chortles Ellen.

"An easy drive down the fairway doesn't attract nearly as much attention as an easy drive down the freeway."

"His bag is big enough to hold plenty of bloody clothing."

"He can slice all he wants without going to jail."

And so on. God, I love writing these short stories, because I get to create wonderful characters using nothing more than my imagination, a computer and a six-pack.

Sue's second shot goes about 20 yards. Orville offers some advice. "You're gripping too tightly. Hold the club like you'd hold a penis." She walks up to the ball, takes another swing and hits the ball about 5 yards. "Okay," Orville says, "now take the club out of your mouth and try again."

Let's pick up the story after they're done playing, since nothing else notable happens on their round, except that Sue gets scared by a big snake on the 4th hole and Ellen, on a dare, briefly removes all her clothing on the 15th fairway. Also Orville and Sue have sex in the woods on the 12th hole. But nothing you haven't seen before.

As they head toward the clubhouse, Sue tells Orville, in a sweet and sexy voice, "You're sweating like a pig. Take a shower before you meet us in the lounge."

"Actually pigs don't sweat," he responds. "That's why they roll in mud." He heads for the locker room, noticing a sign along the way that says, WASH BALLS WITH WIRE BRUSH. He thinks, That's gotta hurt. Removing his salt-stained clothing, he steps into a vacant shower stall. The few minutes without distraction allow him to think deep thoughts. Do Orthodox Jews wear their yarmulkes when they shower? If they do, how do they wash their hair? Afterward he shaves with his Schicksa razor, orders a bottle of Chef Boyardeaux from the bar and convenes with the ladies at their table.

"My kids love this vintage," says Ellen.

"Sue, have you got kids?" asks Orville.

"I can't bear children," she replies.

Orville concurs, "Neither can I - they're such a pain."

"No, I mean I'm barren."

"Would you like some wine?" he asks quickly in order to change the subject.

"No thanks," replies Sue, taking a swig of Pudweiser. (It's the best-selling beer in America due to its clever marketing slogan: "We Don't Make You Pee. We Make You Pee Faster.")

"Oh, you're a beer drinker. That's unusual for a lady."

"Well, my husband is a distributor." The plot sickens.

"You're married?" asks Orville, remembering their amorous encounter on the back nine.

"Yeah."

"Are you in the habit of committing adultery?"

"I prefer to call it consensual nonmonogamy. Anyway, my husband and I have an open relationship."

"I'll have some wine," interrupts Ellen.

Orville absentmindedly passes her the bottle, still taken aback by this new information. Ellen pours herself a glass and reads the slogan on the bottle: "Numbing the Embarrassment of Being You."

"Did you know that of all animals, rams have the largest testes in relation to body size?" queries Orville in a failed attempt to move the conversation away from sex.

"No," answers Sue. "I've never done it with a farm animal, although I did sleep with a senator last month." She finishes her drink and excuses herself.

"My husband and I are faithful," declares Ellen.

"My ex-wife used to cheat on me," Orville reveals.

"How did you know?"

"The increasing number of motel towels in the linen closet."

Sue returns with a bottle of Tusch ("Tastes Like Pee, But You'll Drink it Anyway"). She turns to Orville and asks, "So, any interesting hobbies?"

Orville perks up. "I own a boat."

Sue is not impressed. Every man she has ever known that owns a boat is a macho jerk who is incapable of truly loving anyone except maybe himself. "Oh really. I've heard that boating is dangerous."

"I've never had a problem. Except one time when I went down below to pee. You see, the entrance to the bathroom is five feet seven inches high, and I'm five foot ten. I learned the hard way why they call it the 'head'." Throwing back the last of the wine, he sets off for the bar. Someone is waiting ahead of him, but that doesn't stop him from waving as though he should be served first. "Hey Phil," he says to the bartender as though the two of them are old chums. Phil doesn't respond because he's busy freshening up an Alabama Slammer for someone who claims it didn't have enough grenadine. Orville, trying to save face, asks Phil who's going to win the Belmont, which is about as intelligent as asking a waiter for financial advice.

"Chicken Choker," replies Phil. I should've become a proctologist - then I'd only have to deal with one asshole at a time.

Orville buys a bottle of Nasti Spumanti ("Because You Have to Fill Your Bladder With Something") and rejoins the ladies.

"Miss me?" he asks.

"Were you gone?" jokes Sue.

"On the subject of hobbies, I've been collecting stamps since I was nine," offers Ellen.

"So about ten years then?" compliments Orville.

"Philately will get you nowhere."

"Ugh," groans Sue. "I need another beer." She departs.

Ellen continues. "Commemorative stamps are my favorite. You know, the ones that honor certain people or groups."

Orville jests, "I'd like to see one commemorating big-haired women of the South."

"I don't think they'd make one like that."

"Seven-footers in drag?"

"Ha ha. No."

"How about Elvis dead on the can?"

"Hee hee hee. You're incorrigible."

"Then don't incorrige me."

Sue reappears gripping a bottle of Hineyken ("The Other Thin Yellowish Liquid").

"What's your hobby?" Orville asks Sue.

"Bird watching."

"What a coincidence. Sometimes I wish I were a human-sized bird. Then I could fly over the cars of people I don't like and poop on them. It would be much safer than the way I'm doing it now."

Sue keeps going. "I started watching birds while I was growing up in Pennsylvania."

"What's the state bird there?"

"The finger."

All right, that's enough. This story is going nowhere, kind of like my career. Since this is a golf story, I'll leave you with some golf tips that my dad gave me many years ago:

  1. Back straight, knees bent, feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Form a loose grip.
  3. Keep your head down.
  4. Avoid a quick back swing.
  5. Stay out of the water.
  6. Try not to hit anyone.
  7. If you are taking too long, please let others go ahead of you.
  8. Don't stand directly in front of others.
  9. Be quiet while others are preparing to go.
  10. Don't take extra strokes.

Very good. Now flush the urinal, go outside and tee off.




TO  TELL  THE  TRUTH


Melvin, his wife Ethel, and their teenage kids Irving and Petunia are having dinner at their home in Honestland. Each one is, shall we say, outstanding in a certain way: Melvin has dreadful halitosis, Ethel is very overweight, Irving is a druggie metalhead Internet weenie, and Petunia is promiscuous. (This should be good - I can hardly wait to see what I write.)


ETHEL: "Please don't breathe on the centerpiece, dear. It's wilting."

MELVIN: "I'm sorry. Are those the good silk flowers?"

ETHEL: "Not anymore. Here, have a piece of cheese."

MELVIN: "Whew! It's awful!"

ETHEL: "It's imported."

MELVIN: "Tastes more like it was deported. I'd rather you didn't serve this to me anymore."

ETHEL: "Yeah - it might make your breath smell."

MELVIN: "The next time you go to McDonald's, please take me with you - I want to see the sign change."

ETHEL: "Okay, wash it down with some soup."

MELVIN: "Mmmmmm. This soup is great! What kind is it?"

ETHEL: "Here, read the can."

MELVIN: "Hmmm... 'Pig offal and leeks.' My favorite."

ETHEL: "You know what my favorite food is?"

MELVIN: "Seconds?"

PETUNIA: "Dad, can we order the Spice Channel?"

MELVIN: "Why? You and your boyfriends running out of positions?"

PETUNIA: "No, it's just that all the other channels suck."

IRVING: "Speaking of 'suck', are you going out with Spike tonight?"

PETUNIA: "Yes I am, mouse potato."

ETHEL: "Okay, that's enough, you two."

IRVING: "Mom, Dad, can I go to the Quivering Sphincters concert?"

MELVIN: "I can't understand why you like that crap. Why can't you listen to good old music that I used to enjoy when I was your age, like ACDC and Black Sabbath?"

IRVING: "Because I'm not a middle-aged dweeb."

MELVIN: "At least my body isn't a tattooed pin cushion. With all the drugs you do, you make Keith Richards jealous. Anyway, didn't you just see Swollen Colon last week?"

IRVING: "That was Loose Stools."

MELVIN: "Whatever. Why do you need to go to concerts? Aren't you already in a band? What's it called again?"

IRVING: "Constipated Clowns."

A car horn is heard in the driveway.

PETUNIA: "Spike is here. I'm going out for an intimate evening."

MELVIN: "And what would that be? Sex with just one fraternity?"

IRVING: "When she dies they're gonna bury her in a Y-shaped coffin."

Exit Petunia.

ETHEL: "Why do you guys pick on her so much? You know how upset she gets."

MELVIN: "The emptier the pot, the quicker it boils."

ETHEL: "I saw Dr. Pancreas today. He told me I'm 100 pounds overweight. Can you believe that?"

MELVIN: "No. I thought it was 200."

ETHEL: "You know where I haven't been in a long time?"

MELVIN: "Jenny Craig?"

ETHEL: "The opera. Why don't you take me?"

MELVIN: "Because they won't let us leave until you sing."

ETHEL: "C'mon, remember the last time we went?"

MELVIN: "Vaguely. It was before the kids were born."

ETHEL: "And do you remember what we did afterwards?"

MELVIN: "You mean with the zucchini and the ice cubes?"

ETHEL: "Uh-huh."

MELVIN: "All right, I guess we can go. Just don't wear that gray dress you wore to the circus last year - I don't want people throwing peanuts at you again."

ETHEL: "Those nuns were very rude."

MELVIN: "Well, that sort of thing wouldn't happen if you got your body fat down to, say, 83%."

ETHEL: "So how are your grades, Irving?"

IRVING: "Uh, I have to go to the bathroom. In Norway."

MELVIN: "Come back here, young man. Your mother asked you a question."

IRVING: "I've got about a C average."

MELVIN: "That doesn't cut the mustard in this family. If you want to get into a good college, you're gonna need good marks in school."

IRVING: "It's hard to understand everything the teachers tell us."

MELVIN: "That's because you have the attention span of a ferret."

IRVING: "Maybe I don't need college. Maybe my band'll make it big."

MELVIN: "Having nothing but a rock band as a source of income doesn't cut the cheese in this family. You're gonna need a steady job with a dependable income."

IRVING: "Why? So I can become an automaton who spends 40 hours a week at some faceless corporation and the rest of my time in conformity and consumption?"

MELVIN: "But you're already a conforming consumer. Your appearance isn't original. Millions of other people get tattoos or body piercings, and you're just mimicking them. You consume food and television and clothing and Internet bandwidth just like the rest of us. You are already the kind of person you claim you don't want to be."

IRVING: "Wow, you're right, Dad. I'm a mainstreamer. By striving to be different from 'normal' people, I've merely adopted another form of conventionality. I'm gonna get rid of my nipple ring and leather clothes, drop out of my band, and start applying myself in school. Thanks for setting me straight!"


Wouldn't it be great if life were really this easy? And wouldn't it be great if everyone in the world were as honest as this story's characters? For example, you'd get to-the-point traffic reports like:

"Approaching exit 12 it really sucks. Some moron in an SUV rear-ended a Maxima, and the assholes rubbernecking it are slowing things down to a crawl. Holy Christ, what a clusterfuck."

Then again, maybe total honesty wouldn't be so great. Imagine spending the rest of your life telling boors how full of shit they are, or never cheating on your taxes, or relating stories about your hemorrhoids or occasional impotence. Perhaps we should go on lying to each other so that we don't embarrass ourselves and end up killing one another. For example, let's say you get pulled over for speeding:

The officer says...You sayÖYou're thinking but should not say...
"Do you know how fast you were going?" "No I don't.""You know, I was going to be a cop, but I decided to finish high school instead."
"I clocked you at 85." "Oh, sorry.""I'm surprised you stopped me - Dunkin Donuts is having a 3 for 1 special."
"And you've got a tail light out." "Really?" "So you're a cop. What, McDonald's wasn't hiring?"
"Wait here while I write this up." "Sure." "How long is this gonna take? Your wife's expecting me."
"Sign here, please." "All right.""Gee, that gut sure doesn't inspire confidence."
"This is your copy." "Okay." "Weren't you in the Village People?"




TURBAN  RENEWAL


The U.S. is in the process of modernizing Absurdistan, a desolate land recently freed from the iron fist of the Talibananarama, a fanatic cult spreading the message of bad British 80s dance music. The terrorist organization Al Kato, a group of freeloading houseguests who move in and eat all your food, is in cahoots with the Talibananarama, and their leader, Osama bin Llama, is hiding in an unknown cave and directing his forces to fight both the U.S. and the resistance group Northern Appliance. Osama has been making threats and demands via radio and videotapes as well as communicating with his allies by way of satellite phone. Things have not been going smoothly for his cause. For example, pronunciation difficulties resulted in his investing millions of dollars developing "Nerf gas". Our story starts with Osama and his bodyguards stepping out of their cave early in the morning.


OSAMA: "Sand and more sand, as far as the eye can see! And it's mine! All mine!!"

SADIK: "I'm hungry. Is Pizza Hut still refusing to deliver here?"

OSAMA: "Shhh! Don't stir up desire in the others. Tell Abdul to start making the Camel Soup."

SADIK: "Great. Just like the past 783 mornings."

MUHAMMAD: "Abu wet the cave again."

OSAMA: "Oh, waaaa. All I hear is complaints. This might not be the ideal life, but remember what the alternative is."

SADIK: "Yeah - living the American lifestyle of gourmet food, medicine, air conditioning and cable. This is much better."

OSAMA: "Recall why we are here! We will not stop our jihad until the Americans leave Muslim holy land or Sandra Bernhard agrees to be my 6th wife."

MUHAMMAD: "A thousand pardons, but let us not forget that you have hijacked an entire religion. The masses have been tricked into believing that women don't deserve education or equal rights, and that God will reward men with virgins in the afterlife for murdering innocent civilians. How long do you think this charade will work?"

OSAMA: "Are you kidding? People are morons! How else can you explain why Survivor is a hit show?"

MUHAMMAD: "Good point."

OSAMA: "Abu, I want to make another video."

ABU: "Aww, again?"

OSAMA: "Shut up, you ass with arms. Get the camera."

Abu retrieves the video camera and points it at Osama.

OSAMA: "Hello, you American infidels. Things were going great for us until you screwed it up. The Talibananarama and I had successfully liberated the local people from horrible afflictions such as music and dancing. We sheltered our women from the evils of education, and we kept them motivated with daily beatings and lovely black body coverings to wear in the hot sun. The men were glad to sport long beards so that they could avoid imprisonment. You have been nothing but trouble in this part of the world. You had no business saving Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. You had the nerve to give us military aid when the Russians invaded us. And now here you are, allowing common people to decide for themselves how to live. We demand that you leave at once. We demand that you stop pouring money into this and other countries in the region. We demand that you stop trying to bring peace to the Middle East, and we demand that you let its inhabitants continue their old and honorable tradition of hating and killing each other for no good reason. If our demands are not met, then hundreds of our people will enter your country illegally, live among you and commit the following terrorist acts: We will drive on your roads and rudely cut you off. We will attend your broadcasting schools and soil your airwaves with bad talk shows. We will kill your beloved celebrities such as OJ Simpson, Joan Rivers and Don King. We will visit great harm upon your country's most beloved military leader, Colonel Sanders. We will spread rumors that certain political figures have had extramarital sex. If none of these measures work, then we will detonate a doomsday weapon that will turn North Dakota into a frozen, uninhabitable wasteland."

ABU: "Oops. Guess I should've hit the 'record' button."

OSAMA: "Jesus Christ! You know, if you weren't my illegitimate son and I had any strength left I'd ring your sorry neck, you useless, brainless troglodyte!"

We shift now to the Oval Office, where President Busch is about to give his State of the Union address.

BUSCH: "When do I get to read from the teleprompter?"

AIDE: "When Mickey's big hand is on the twelve."

BUSCH: "I have to pee."

AIDE: "We don't have time for that, Mr. President."

BUSCH: "But I'm uncomfortable; I think the people will sense that."

AIDE: "No they won't. Nixon had constant bladder discomfort, but he always looked so happy and relaxed."

BUSCH: "Who?"

AIDE: "Never mind. Okay, are you ready?"

BUSCH: "For what?"

AIDE: "To read your speech!"

BUSCH: "Yes. I hope it's a good one this time. The last one had no humor in it at all. We really need better writers."

AIDE: "Sir, we're Republicans. We have no sense of humor."

BUSCH: "Since when?"

AIDE: "Since Reagan declared ketchup a vegetable. The public actually believed him, so we decided not to attempt humor anymore."

BUSCH: "You mean ketchup isn't a vegetable?"

AIDE: [Sigh] "No, Mr. President."

BUSCH: "How about mustard?"

AIDE: "All right, now we have to focus, Mr. President. Just look at the camera and read what's written under it. Everyone quiet on the set! Ready in 3, 2, 1."

BUSCH: "Good evening, America. In these trying times of terrorism, economic uncertainty and telemarketing, we all need to pull together so that we can continue to spread democracy to other countries whether or not they want it. We are fighting this war on all fronts, from the war-torn ruins of Absurdistan and Newark, to thriving metropolitan areas like New York City and Cleveland. We have vanquished subversive organizations before, and we'll do it again. Just last year we got rid of the Ku Klutz Klan. If we can defeat an organization of clumsy cross-burning rednecks, then we should have no trouble with a bunch of turban-wearing camel humpers. Ordinary Americans are helping with the war effort every day. School bullies are donating ten percent of their extorted lunch money in order to help us stop the victimization of the weak. NRA members searched their couches for loose change and found 70 million rounds of ammunition and 27 stinger missiles to donate. Checkout counters at 7-11 stores now have "Take a Penny, Leave a Bullet" trays. Meanwhile people are carrying on with their everyday lives in order to keep the country running. White-collar employees continue to send personal e-mails and download porn at work. Parents heroically maintain a sense of normalcy by dumping their kids at the mall. Citizens bolster our economy by purchasing millions of American flags made in Chinese sweatshops. I am proud of this country, and I am proud that you have chosen me as your leader. You will recall that in the last election the Democrats tried to make a point by nominating a head of cabbage as their presidential candidate, in the belief that you would actually choose a piece of fruit over me. Well, I proved them wrong by getting 53% of the popular vote. I will not let you down. I will bring back economic prosperity and personal security, even if it means doubling your taxes and strip-searching every last one of you."




ABOUT  THE  AUTHOR


You can say what you want about Ben. You can say that he has no hope of ever writing anything worth remembering and that he should definitely not quit his day job. You can say that he's a self-centered, opinionated jerk. You can say that people like him give real writers a bad name. Yes, you can say all those things. You probably already say those things. We certainly do.

Ben is a typical middle-class white-collar employee who lives in a typical suburban home with five refrigerators and about 150 gallons of beer. But underneath that seemingly normal exterior lies ... well, Ben. You might have seen him on such TV shows as Wild Kingdom and America's Most Wanted.