Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fighting the Cranky

I am fighting not to become a cranky old man. You know, the guy grousing in the express line about slow cashiers. The guy arguing over the phone about a $2 increase in his bill. The one who takes up a whole park bench for no good reason. The relative you hate to invite.
My battle is compounded by the fact that I look like a cranky old man. I frown at nothing, mumble to myself, look away in disgust. I cross the street if I see teens coming. I yell at other drivers and make obscene gestures. If I'm on a bus, I hate waiting for other passengers to climb aboard.
I curse large parking lots and people who don't speak perfect English. I stare at myself in the mirror and force smiles. I try hard to chuckle to no avail. I have begun hunching over and lurching instead of striding. I believe no one and distrust everyone.
This is not how I want to spend my golden years. Just because I feel I've earned the right to grouse and spread bad vibes doesn't mean I should.
I vow not to growl, get furious, be demanding, put people in their place and offer unsolicited opinions. And I promise not to take it out on society if I have a difficult bowel movement.
God, smiling takes a lot out of me.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blank Paper

Think about this. You have a slew of blank paper in your printer and none of them has a clue why. Perhaps the top sheet is a leader, gregarious, popular with the others.
Suddenly a human hits a button and that paper is SUCKED into the printer. After some excruciating seconds it emerges out the other end covered with pictures, symbols, and weird marks in color and black and white.
Its entire identity has changed; it has lost contact with the others as blank sheets. One by one they slide in and their whole world changes. They are unrecognizable to each other, placed in some strange order that is supposed to make sense.
If the human prints on both sides the anxiety and confusion only increases. You have an emotionally damaged, unbalanced series of sheets carrying the entire responsibility of communicating your thoughts and imagination.
The cruelty here is palpable. Somewhere there must be a support group or organization campaigning for saving blank sheets in their original pure form.
Scribbling on napkins? Please. Let's not misplace priorities.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Secrecy of Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe lies there challenging you. There is no way you can outsmart it. By sheer luck you cut it open at just the peak of ripeness. Most times you either cut too soon or too late when it's too mushy, mocking you with its mush. Cantaloupe is a cruel sleight of hand, sneaky fruit, unlike a veggie we call cucumber. Cucumber makes it clear if you don't consume it in six hours it will begin decaying. In twelve hours it becomes inedible. This is the deal veggie and human agree on.
Pineapples and avocados are also inscrutable. Examine the outer surface for hours and you will never determine if it can be swallowed. Tomatoes beg to be swallowed, especially plum and cherry. Eat me now, my life in this vegetable bin is intolerable!
I have placed my cantaloupe in a pot on the stove. It is now six days I've been watching it, occasionally pressing it with my thumb and index finger, seeking clues. I have determined that it is time to take my knife and address my melon. I have been told by dieticians honeydew and watermelon have too much sugar. By eliminating them from my diet I have knowingly placed all my melon ecstasy onto the cantaloupe. Hey, life isn't fair. If it were, French fries would have been replaced by sweet potato fries decades ago.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Humiliation Protocol

The NFL has a concussion protocol system where, if a player gets hit in the head and seems woozy, they perform a series of tests and he is automatically out for a certain time until cleared by the doctor.
I think someone should create a Humiliation Protocol. If a person gets humiliated, I mean seriously embarrassed in front of others, he or she should be removed from society for a flexible period. At least a week. Humiliation experts would then sit the person down and question them. What were you thinking? Do you really believe the things you said? Are you aware how truly dumb you sounded?
If it was something involving a physical act, hopefully there's a video somewhere that shows exactly how stupid the behavior was. The target should be forced to watch said video over and over and explain their actions. Questions like, what made you think cliff diving wearing headphones was a good idea?
Emotionally it may take weeks for the humiliated one to move past the embarrassment. You shouldn't let him back into social situations until you're certain he or she has learned from the past.
Force them to sit in the corner and watch others converse normally until they get the idea. In some cases, entire demonstrative, impulsive families will have to be given a time out. Like that Italian family down the street with their continuous dramas.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Q-Tip Dilemna

This is an ethical problem. Someone invites you over their place for a weekend. The next morning you wake up, shower, brush your teeth, use deodorant. You see a cup containing about a dozen Q-Tips. You take one and stick it in both ears and twist. You look at it and realize your ears were perfectly clean.
You are cognizant of leaving your carbon footprint so you debate whether to toss away what is still a perfectly pristine Q-Tip. You decide to drop it back into the bunch for reuse.
You try to enjoy your day with your host, but the nagging thought of millions of unseen bacteria on that Q-Tip that could lead to disease in another guest or the host, this haunts you. You sneak into the bathroom to remove the item, except you don't know which one it is. They all look the same. You decide to empty the cup into an overnight bag you brought. Now the cup is empty.
At some point your host will see this and begin investigating. He will check the garbage, find nothing and make a logical assumption.
You, his guest, are a Q-Tip fetishist.
You will either never be invited back or if you are, instructions not to use the bathroom may be part of the deal.
God must have been in a cranky mood to create ear wax.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

My mind is a battleground among gypsies, tramps and thieves.
The gypsy section is imaginative, colorful, feisty, secretive, not entirely trustworthy. It propels me away from boring meetings and boring, intrusive people. I pack up my attention and relocate, employing my own inscrutable language.
The tramp part of my brain exists on minimal sensory input, never staying focused on anything. It collects scraps of thoughts and ideas and seldom ventures into social interaction. Sometimes it puts me in a fugue state, makes me sloppy and unkempt.
Because I am a writer, the thieves in my mind are there 24/7. I steal from everyone all the time. I own your chagrin, your joviality, anger, embarrassment, regret. I squirrel away your posture, tone, style, your walk, I know your ringtone and shoe size. I catalog all your facial expressions. I do this so quietly you are unaware what is happening.
Mostly, I steal your best witticisms, your long, entertaining stories, your irony, ad libs, sarcasm, your best jokes and anecdotes. I'll use all of this in my work because I am a writer and this is what we do.
The thieves in my brain have just subtly stolen these very moments from your life.

Vacation Disaster

My wife and I wanted to do something different on our vacation, so we volunteered to work for a traveling carnival stopping in our town.
The leader, a burly, cigar smoking man named Hos, told us we'd get a bed and three meals a day in a low end motel out on the highway. Hey, we said, it's only for two weeks. It won't kill us.
To make a long story short, it was a disaster. Arlene and I broke out in hives whenever Leatherman was around. An allergy to leather skin? The Fat Lady propositioned me half a dozen times. Arlene flirted with Elastic Man. The Two Headed Goat Monster squirted milk all over my new Avengers t-shirt. Bedbugs abounded. The animals, especially the snakes, were cranky. The Flying Ambersons, the high wire act, came down with violent hiccups, throwing off their timing.
The food was awful--we ate at Arby's all 14 days. The Human Torch miscalculated and burned his shins during a show. I was asked to fill in, but fire scares me, and, besides, I hurt my back wrestling with one of the carnies out of boredom.
The clowns were drunk from noon on, The Human Porcupine accidentally punctured some kid's balloon, leading to a fight between him and the father. Arlene and I were exhausted and frazzled by the end of the two weeks.
One of our tires was slashed. I'm guessing it was the ringmaster, whose tights were so loose you could see his butt crack. He didn't seem appreciative when I told him.