Humor Shorts

Humor story disclaimer:

These stories aren’t necessarily true. But they all contain some element of truth, which is nice, and sometimes unfortunate. But they should not be taken seriously. No matter what the subject, these pieces will NOT give objective relationship advice, instruct do-it-yourselfers, offer yummy dessert tips, advertise hunting products, or profile real people. With that seriousness aside, in all other seriousness, this is the meat and potatoes of the blog. Dig in and digest.

Enough Serious Pants:
Some Humor Shorts

By Joe Pflueger

Using Hotdogs to Profit
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It’s a shameless act to ask people out on the street for their money, and the only way to make up for it is if you actually trick them into handing over some money.

But my boss and I disapprove of this, still. “That’s why I opened my own business,” he said. “But I guess I’m just too proud to ask for money.”

From where we stood on the corner slinging hotdogs and asking for people’s money, we could see Homeless Huey begging people for their hard earned coin. Or “gas money” as my boss Pete put it.

Pete always compared money to gasoline prices. He watched gas prices all day and always knew how much it cost in case anybody asked him. And as the price of gas went up, my pay went up.

“You’re going to need this raise,” he’d say. “Or soon I’ll be hearing from you saying, ‘I can’t afford to come into work today because gas is too high’.” He’d look at me and shake his head in disbelief of what I might say.

That was another thing. He could always work calculations in his head faster than anybody I knew. On payday he would hand me my earnings and say something like, “You could get halfway to Holland with that.” His comparisons would be slightly off sometimes, but that’s probably because he calculated so fast.

We did especially well in tips one day and he handed me a little bonus and said, “This here oughtta get you across the Mississippi.”

Again, he was wrong, but I didn’t let it bother me because it rarely affected what I actually did with the money. I wasn’t going across the Mississippi; I was just going to pay some bills. On those occasions that I was going to drive somewhere all I had to do was mention it and he would look across the street at the price of gas and figure, “You’ll never make it halfway there, kid. Not with what I pay you.” And then he’d spot me some cash from the company’s funds.

He always had extra money, he said, because we worked a hotdog stand and people were always hungry. “And they always will be hungry,” Pete said. “The business model is a foolproof scheme. We don’t gotta be too savvy and business will always come our way.”

That’s why, with a buck being so easy to make, he despised seeing Huey’s handouts. “You won’t catch me out there asking for people’s gas money. That is unless I trade a hotdog for it.”

Pete, on his high horse, turned hotdogs into a commodity that people were willing to pay good gas money for. “Don’t use cheap carney tricks to grab people’s attention. Simply make conversation and hotdogs practically sell themselves, sometimes.”

He’d say, “You could get three or four hotdogs for the measly price of a gallon of gas. That’s enough to feed the wife, the kids and the mistress.”

Some people would get offended and say, “Mistress?”

“Woah, buddy,” he’d shrug in defense. “You’ve come to the wrong street corner for that. We only sell hotdogs.”

Pete never meant any harm by his words. He just liked to make conversation was all. Say a customer would leave a tip. Pete might peer into the jar and say, “Ha! I couldn’t even drive myself to the bus stop with that amount.” Or if it was good, he’d say, “Thanks! This is enough to get me to the park. I was going there after work anyway.”

But sometimes he’d have most of the conversation in his head which left his customer confused or embarrassed. “Ha!” He’d blush. “Why would you want to send me over there?” And he’d give a nod of his chin in some direction.

Sales started to slip that summer. We knew something in the business model had to change but we weren’t sure what. My boss had identified the problem when gas prices went through the roof. “People are spending too much on gas,” he said. “I can’t blame them since people need gas to survive.”

When walk up business got really slow, he handed me my pay and said, “I’m sorry, this isn’t even enough to get you through two states.”

I hadn’t a clue which states he was referring to and again, it didn’t matter.

One day he got to thinking out loud and he concluded that there were more important things than gas. “A person needs food too,” he said. “Sorry I can’t give you a little extra gas money this month, but here are a couple hotdogs to take home.”

Actually, gas prices did start to take a toll on my finances, so I took the hotdogs. And this is how I knew I was pinched for cash because I was grateful for the hotdogs and I hate hotdogs.

He knew I didn’t like hotdogs but he also knew that he didn’t have anything else to offer me. So he started to talk up the hotdogs. He made them sound like the most tasty thing in the world and that anybody was happy to have one.

I should have seen the warning signs. When he started supplementing my pay with hotdogs, I should have known the company was in trouble. He respected me too much, I think, to keep trying to manipulate me into thinking the hotdogs were greater than they were.

He told me, straight up, that I was doing the company a favor by accepting some hotdogs as a form of payment and things would turn around soon. After a while, though, he quit asking me to take hotdogs as a favor and he just started paying me in hotdogs regularly. He’d hand me an envelope with maybe half my wages in cash and there’d just be some hotdogs stuffed in as well.

But gas prices continued to rise and so did the number of hotdogs he’d give me to take home. I protested when my fridge actually started filling up with hotdogs I couldn’t eat.

He told me that the hot dogs were like money and I called him a liar. “No, they really are,” he said. “Hotdogs are like money in that they need to be circulated to be of any value.” He asked me what good was my money if it just sat at home in the fridge. “You need to turn your money into something you use, like gas.”

And that made sense to me, but I didn’t understand the conversion rate. Pete couldn’t clear up the conversion confusion either.

One morning during a particularly low point in the sales slump, we opened with no cash in the register and, sure enough, the first customer had only double what he owed for his hotdogs “With all the trimmings,” he said. So I felt bad about treating a high spender with such unprofessionalism.

Pete counted at the money and handed the man a handful of hotdogs fresh out of the cooker.

“What is this?” The man asked. “I don’t want more hotdogs, certainly not ones without all the trimmings.”

“It’s your change,” Pete smiled.

The man, less than ecstatic, said, “Keep it.” And he tossed them back in the tip jar and left.

Pete and I looked at each other excited at the generosity. “Say!” Pete said. “We can use these to sell again.” And he put them back in the cooking pan.

He slapped the counter, excited about the ideas he had running through his head. “We’ve been short changing ourselves,” he said. He had this idea that if the man bought two hotdogs and he gave us double the money, instead of giving him two hotdogs in return, we gave him a whole handful. And in his generous tip of all his leftover hotdogs, did we not, in the long run, stand to profit from such a model?

“Indeed,” he said. “It goes back to the old proverb that a hotdog in the bucket is worth two in the wallet.” I wasn’t sure that he didn’t lose his mind until he went on to explain. “Truth be told, the hotdog currency has taken a hit during this gas crisis. Hotdogs are now worth more as a consumable than as a currency. People just aren’t investing in hotdogs the way they used to.”

He was right. I took my bag of hotdogs to the gas station in the same way I used to take my cash. I asked the clerk exactly what the conversion rate was and they didn’t sell me any gas that day. It was going to take a while to get used to spending hotdogs, which surprised me.

In the meantime, the slow business wasn’t helping. And the customers we did have, I found myself haggling over hotdog prices. What was once an easy dollar to make turned exhausting. I fell asleep at the cart for what couldn’t have been more than two hours when I awoke to the cart on blocks. All four wheels were stolen.

I don’t know if it was all just coincidence or if that particular incident was just the beginning domino in a string of bad luck the hotdog company faced. But shortly thereafter, we ran dry on ketchup and he didn’t have the funds to replace it. That’s where my creative problem solving nearly saved our business from the red. We took our last bottle and started mixing in mustard to make our ketchup last longer and keep up appearances. As we needed to mix more mustard in our patrons took a liking to the new flavor because we saw a small spike in sales when our mix was running around 50/50. Of course Huey was doing better than usual at collecting handouts and was buying a lot more hotdogs, but we wouldn’t attribute all our success to Huey’s good fortune. “It’s a matter of principle,” Pete always said.

Pete’s lawyer stopped by the stand one day. “Hello,” Pete exclaimed and introduced me. “This guy has enough gas money to go to Europe, and still have enough to pick up hitch...”

The lawyer cut him off and started lecturing him on whatever he had used to pay his most recent installment. The lawyer said he couldn’t work for those types of payments, so he gave him a nickels worth of free advice. But Pete had no idea what a nickel was anymore. He had already started cutting hotdogs into little pieces and using that as change. The lawyer’s advice was to shut down the business.

Pete started lecturing the lawyer on how the price of hotdogs was about to skyrocket and what kind of business man would he be if he closed his cart on blocks right before the boom? But the lawyer wasn’t listening. Instead he was walking away slowly, doing things like checking his watch and awkwardly looking over his shoulder like someone might be waiting on him.

I didn’t really understand Pete’s lecture but I knew it was good because at the end I saw him do what I thought I’d never see anyone with so much hotdogs do.

He cried.

He clearly had some complex emotions that needed worked out and I knew I was the only one in town Pete really trusted. So as he started to open up I left in the same way the lawyer did. With Pete’s voice growing quieter in the distance I picked up speed.

I went home jobless but having gained wisdom from the experience. I opened the fridge full of hotdogs and knew I had to liquidate my assets. I started selling – selling all my goods for hot dogs. I kept only a change of clothes and a duffle bag to keep my hotdogs. I didn’t trust them in a bank. My attitude was if a bank didn’t want my hotdogs they couldn’t have them anyway.

It is a little overwhelming to be standing with such a large bag of so many profits. Here I stand, with a big bag of hotdogs I once never dreamt I’d be holding. The only thing that doesn’t add up is, with no car and no reason to worry about gas money, why do I feel so broke?


The World of the Bear
Thursday, August 1, 2013

Let me take you to an enchanting forest where you could probably picture mythical beasts wondering around doing some stuff. It’s a great wilderness where one can look at the trees and envision a magnificent table or awe-inspiring two-by-fours being made. Beautiful, right?

But this story is of a beast you only thought was a myth. It’s about bears. To prove bears exist let’s look at the grizzly – scientific name: Ursus arctos horribilis.

Horribilis is Latin meaning “big ugly bear,” probably. We know little of the world of the big ugly bear. To help us understand we meet Fred, a big ugly biologist.

It was Fred who told me the bear was “mythical.” He said, “It’s a wonderful, magestical creature.” Ooh, magestical. “No, MAJESTIC.” Ooh, majestic.

I went back-and-forth on how I wanted to introduce you to the bear. I wondered, to myself, if I should introduce you the same way I was introduced, which was when I was young, being exposed to a cartoon of a bear singing and dancing in the woods. After viewing that shocking video, I said to myself, that could never happen.

Fred thinks maybe that is why I believed bears to be myth. Fred likes to introduce the bear by taking you to the source.

Watch Fred as he ambles along the hillside of prime bear habitat. Identify him by his furry beard and face. Just as a bear does, he overturns rocks and he searches their food sources to better understand their place in the wild. He holds his nose to the wind and catches our scent – as a bear would.

In one swift motion, Fred is on his hind legs and shows us his massive claws like those of an old man who has not clipped his claws, but only sharpened them. It’s not until he gives us this disappointed look, like we aren’t what he’s expecting, that we realize this is not Fred at all, but some class of an animal that we can’t be sure of.

Fred must be back at the office doing some science. By studying the bear – what it eats for instance – we gain important insights into its livelihood. Watching the bear eat, we can compare it, metaphorically, to ourselves. Since the bear eats about anything, if we were the bear, the world would be our all-day buffet.

Fred tells us that before human intervention: from the Arctic Ocean down to Mexico the great bear used to wonder aimlessly, but our modern ancestors fixed that. Now the bear wonders only in designated areas.

The grizzly of today survives only because we allow it and we can hold this fact over its head, kind of. The next time we come face-to-face with a grizzly we will taunt him with this historical fact and watch him clamor even though Fred says it’s not a good idea.

We have labeled the bear many things over the centuries from "caveman assassinator" to "tourist taste tester" and finally the "insane circus bear on his crazy ball." But the bear has always labeled us as a sort of “audacious” creature.

But I ask the bear, who is audacious? Is it the civilized man with a camera and other fancy gizmos, like my mammoth-sized tazer, luring animals with steak on a string, or the one who goes around acting like an animal all day?

Fred says to question the bear on trivial matters is pointless and that we should listen to the bear. What? Whenever Fred hears the cry of a bear, he responds with his best imitation in low bellows and grunts. I see no indication that the animal understands, but I think Fred thinks they appreciate the sentiment. Whatever, Fred. This leads me to question his legitimacy as a scientist.

Fred makes this effort for the bear, but what has the bear done for us? Aside from give us a life-long nemesis to fear.

Even today, the bear stands as a symbol of the wild parts of the world. In its shroud of dangerous spirits, the bear is glamorized. It is romanticized by human portrayals of the wild beast attacking and demonstrating an aggressive nature.

I think we might portray romanticizing better if we drew a bear at a fine dining table. By the gentle glow of a fire we see the bear with a rose and a playful smile, which makes us nervous of its seductive ways. Maybe it’s the warm glass of wine, but we haven’t felt this romanced in a long time.

But that wouldn’t be the bear we know. Instead, the bear reminds us more of my aunt, Hilda, who, like a bear, can sleep the winter blues away in a dark den where she can spend winter’s entirety for all we care, surviving off nothing but her fat reserves from an autumn of gorging.

Scientists do not disturb the bear for a fear, probably, the same way we fear disturbing Aunt Hilda’s winter slumber. They do not want to be met with a wild-eyed beast that is cranky from only being half-way through her months of sleep and she has a powerful morning breath.

The spring bear will emerge when she’s ready. She’ll wake from winter hibernation looking at us like we’re a T-bone and, on the side, a baked potato dripping with butter. What the bear doesn’t realize is that we’re not a T-bone – that was only our nickname in college. But she may realize the baked potato is real, and that’s our own fault. We shouldn’t carry butter slathered baked potatoes in bear country. This point is reiterated when the bear charges.

What people don’t realize is that nine-out-of-ten charges the bear is only joking. It is likely the bear sees how frightened we are then turns and laughs, satisfied. This, of course, angers us because nobody scares us in that way but my aunt, Hilda.

Grizzlies are content to joke charge, probably, because they will eat about anything in the woods, their favorite – a nice salmon, which they eat raw and without any regard for decency. If they tried eating like that at my mom’s table it would be my sister who would scold the bear, but the bear would never understand.

I guess the bear has it pretty good. All except the polar bear, maybe. It’s an animal that you’ve never seen equaled in its sheer content to live in a land of vast icescapes. Man needs more than ice. This major difference is probably why man and polar bear don’t get along. As far as we can see, the polar bear has nothing to look forward to. Socially, it has nothing going on.

In the polar bear’s struggle to maintain a foothold in this vast land of ice water you might be asking yourself, what makes the polar bear think it’s all worth it? But under closer observation, the polar bear can be seen on the ice, locked with a seal, in an epic game of peek-a-boo.

They are the largest of the bear family, so they have that going for them. But they have humans to thank. Their diet of people makes them big and gives them that shiny coat. It’s their will for maintaining good looks against our will of turning up the heat in that cold wasteland. But when the ice is gone, the polar bear will be gone. We humans can adapt to change where the polar bear cannot. So I guess, in the end, we win.

It’s a harsh environment for bears to raise themselves in. For mating rights, adult males will fight and argue over who gets the first girl they see. After a brutal fight, to the victor goes his female prize. In reality, he won a girlfriend who reminds me of my aunt, Hilda, and that makes us shudder and want to close our eyes to the world of the bear.

With the curiosity of a child, the hairiness of a hobo and the claws of a mad woman, we have to tell ourselves: we’ll never understand the world of the bear.


Mashed Potatoes
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sid Clemson, a battle hardened warrior, was left with little to occupy his time after the world's battles ceased calling. Outside his duties as a mercenary, he felt lost and wherever he drifted, he often found himself in trouble with the local heat.

"He was born in the wrong century," both his friends and his foes often lamented when they'd hear of his troubles with the law.

And they were right. A man of Sid's build and desire to fight never could find a place to "fit in" in today's cosmopolitan culture.

But the law found a place for him.

The guard tossed him down in his cell where society might finally forget all about him. He lay on the cold cell floor he had been sentenced to without any legal process. Only a third-world law man with a chip on his shoulder and his weaselly crony knew where he was now.

Or, so, he thought.

"What are you in for?" A faceless voice carried from the darkened corner of the cell only a few feet away and, yet, it seemed to come from a different era in another corner of the globe. But Sid's eyes still needed adjusting to the dark, so he couldn't be sure.

"Me? I'm in here for a lifetime of anger and frustration. An offense against world decency, I suppose. The law only needed a reason to pick me up."

The stranger, amused, asked, "So why did they?"

Sid looked up, "I gave them a reason."

When the stranger reached out his hand to help Sid up, he was identified as Sid's partner in merc work from long ago, Huck Steamboat. The greeting was as touching of a moment either of them ever felt.

Huck, remembering all their times together, said, "Old habits die hard."

"And so do aliens," A third voice from the past chimed in.

A general stepped out of the shadows – the man who used to send them into combat zones and say, "goodbye forever."

"Colonel!" they said in unison.

"Ah-ahh," he indicated the star. "It's general now."

"That's right, I heard," Huck said, and he smiled at Sid. "You were promoted after orchestrating the capture of a boat load of pirates."

"Try – a butt load of pirates," the general said.

"So, what's all this I hear about aliens?" Sid asked.

"Oh, they're after Mother Earth again. This time it's something to do with secret missiles we planted on Mars."

"Mars, the God of War," Sid and Huck noted.

"More like Governor of War," the general said. "I'm the God of War! And I'm leading an army of space commandos to annihilate the little green spuds."

"General," Huck said. "They're a peaceful race."

"My point exactly. They'll never see it coming. Now let's go mash some potatoes for Mother Earth!"

"Mother Earth!" They cheered and put up their fists and fought their way out of the prison.

Upon reaching the distant, but not impossibly far, planet of Mars, the commandos stormed in like they planned on leaving nothing but boot prints. But one of the secret missiles misfired causing an explosion so big, it likely killed all of the space commandos. Somehow, I think, if the explosion didn't kill all of them, it likely left an open to a sequel with a higher budget and more missiles.


First Impressions
Tuesday, May 01, 2012

It’s fun to speculate about how to make the best first impression, but we never really know how we did, so what’s the point?

I like to make the most of meeting new people. Man, I must do everything by the book when it comes to making good first impressions, and I guess I let fate do the rest.

Take this date for example: Textbook

I let her do all the talking. Good first impressions are made by letting the other person talk. I just sat and listened for what seemed like forever. Listening to her go on and sometimes asking me questions, but nut-uh, she couldn’t get me to talk for anything. This was her time and I thought it’d make her feel comfortable and special to hear her own voice for so long.

I let down my guard. Most ladies know I’m human. And those that don’t know right away, soon figure it out. I’m flawed – there I said it. Let’s air out those flaws and have a real conversation. My flaws: I steal stuff; every year I try (and fail) to hibernate; once my tennis shoes are tied, they never come untied; I run with a rough crowd; I lie about stealing to my rough crowd; I focus too much on significant others and their desires, when I should be focusing on getting rich. It feels good to get that out in the open.

I used her name. Hearing one’s own name back is the sincerest form of flattery and when we introduced ourselves I said her name. I repeated her name to her over-n-over. I must have said it a bijillion times. Her flattery was masked by what appeared to be uncomfortability. So I just moved in closer and kept saying it. “Matilda… Matilda… Matilda…” I thought, after a while, it sounded like an STD, and I told her that.

I appeared interested. Every time she finished a sentence I would gasp as if it was the first time I had heard such a thing. If she told a joke, I tried to laugh as loud as I could so that everyone around would look at me to take some spotlight pressure off her. Sometimes I would gasp even at the anticipation of her sentence coming close to an end. Then at the real end of the sentence, I would gasp even louder causing her to gasp.

I tried to show her herself. I would lean in to mirror her movements and emotions. This was my attempt at reminding her of looking into a mirror. Women love looking at mirrors. I really had to pull out the stops to imitate her eating. She had the daintiest way of cutting her food down to almost unimaginable sizes and eating it with silverware. I noted that I never thought of a waffle as anything but a finger food. Then, after mirroring for so long, when I thought I had her movements under my control, I leaned in for a smooch. She slapped me, which caught me by surprise and I was too slow on the imitation. She dodged it and started to walk away. My mirror plan backfired when I began walking in the opposite direction.

We eventually got so far apart I couldn’t see her anymore. So I guess I’ll never know how my techniques worked out.

Author's note: The theories of these techniques also work well in job interviews.


A Day in the Life of a Page from a Journal
Sunday, April 15, 2012

I couldn’t have found a better classroom to learn about a new people than the one I found while boating on the ocean. After the storm cleared, I figured that I must have gotten lost because I had no idea where I was at. And the weather had turned eerily perfect. The sky cast before me was beautiful and dramatic, but the ocean laid before me kind of a dingy green and boring, oppressing my sense of wonder. I was disappointed to say the least. Where were the sharks? Where were the mermaids? Where was the mystery and romance promised to me by the nice brochure? One could start to wonder if the ocean wasn’t just full of lies and secrets.

I got done sailing the ocean when the storm had crashed me on a beach. Left there with no food, no shelter, not a pot to cook in or to pee in, I had to take matters into my own hands. If I was to survive, creativity would have to be my companion and my island lover. I fashioned a pot out of an old shoe I happened to be wearing and I peed in that.

Things were looking bleaker by the moment. Plus now I had a squishy shoe. But then I realized I shouldn’t be ungrateful. I did, after all, have what appeared to be a private beach all to myself. The possibilities seemed endless. I could spend the day skipping rocks, carving beach wood, or I could open a country dance club over yonder.

But first I just sat there and tried to figure out where I was and where I could go. I figured I was near the ocean somewhere since I could see it from where I sat. So I tried retracing my steps from the airport to the boat, and from the boat to here. As I drew in the sand I forgot what the airport looked like and gave it up.

About then, the tribe found me. I saw them coming from up the beach. They ran toward me as fast as I figured they could. I knew immediately that if it really came down to it, I could beat them in a foot race. That seemed odd considering that from what I’ve seen so far, they run everywhere they go.

As I watched them draw nearer, I stood amazed. Man, I thought, I had one small goal when I landed here and that was to not die. But now I feel like I should set out to conquer this island.

When they approached I could see they stood roughly half the size of me. It wasn’t an illusion when they were far away. They really were that small. They must have looked at me as some sort of god, or great savior who arrived to show them how to act like “big” people.

Out of sheer excitement they all stammered to speak. They said many things, none of which was discernible from the other. One had to wonder if they even knew how to speak at all. We tried to communicate for hours as I tried to teach them things I learned on my great journey to their island. I showed them the pee in the shoe trick and they all tried it and I decided to leave my shoes behind.

I tried desperately to explain to them that my ship needed repairs before I could load it with their island’s precious resources. I told them I came in peace and would not want to exploit their labor by offering the cheap wages I could afford. So I would take some tribes people to do the labor for free.

As I tried to nab some individuals for work, the others must have wanted my attention because they started throwing rocks at me. I looked up and they took off running again. They wanted me to follow.

I ran with them into the jungle. Immediately my feet started to hurt atop the hard roots, rocks and even lizards. I figured if these little people could do it than so could I.

When I got to their camp, I was astonished to see large people. These people looked similar, like distant relatives of the little people, only much, much larger. Easily twice their size, about my size. So I referred to the little people as the regular-sized people and the people my size as the giants.

The regular-sized people started trying to speak again to their giants but it still came out as gibberish. This made the giants mad, so I explained things in a way they could understand. “I did not come to cause trouble. If I can only take some of the strongest to come work for me and some more strong ones to bring home to sell to my friends I will be on my way.”

I showed them the life I could offer them by making a lot of hand motions and gesturing a lot with my body. I showed them what back breaking labor looked like. I myself hate physical labor, so I may have exaggerated the pains and look of destitute one feels when doing the chores I had planned.

Well they took a liking to the idea. They started whooping and hollering around. They placed me in their most prominent position. A single pole in the middle of camp which was a little uncomfortable for my liking but if I was going to become a permanent leadership figure in their society, and by the binding ropes I think I was, I should get used to this culture.

I stood there tied against their pole when females of the tribe started throwing gifts at my feet. As I wondered what I would do with all these bundles of sticks and dried weeds, I thought this would be a perfect time to make a speech. Their curious eyes begged for knowledge.

I told them there was much I needed to teach them about civilization and carbon dioxide. There was some they needed to teach me about their ways. Some not a lot. Most of it I was picking up by careful observation. For instance, it must get very cold at night because I could tell they were planning on starting a fire for me at the base of my pole.

I laughed at their naive ways. No, I thought. Wait until I teach them how to build a house where we don’t need to burn all our finest sticks. I’ll tell them the heat in a house is magic and they’ll get a kick out of that. And TV too. That’s what we use to teach our young ones about the world.

We were just about to get the bonfire going when a warrior-like man emerged from the jungle. He carried a pig over his shoulder which he indicated was to be cooked for dinner. The towns’ people were all real disappointed when they had to cancel the fire they had prepared for me. Apparently they only bundled enough sticks for one fire.

They went back and forth on which fire they wanted to light more but I could tell they’d rather feed me. A few poked around my ribs to indicate how thin I looked. It tickled. And their mouths watered when they thought about me enjoying their pig dinner. They looked me in the eye smiling. They couldn’t wait for me to try what I eventually started calling “pig surprise, piggy-pig with fries.”

I told them stories about my home and about the ocean. They started doing a funny dance and I figured if I was to be an effective leader and have their respect, I needed to do a funnier dance. At first I started imitating their dance just so they knew I could fit in. But then I started flouncing around with pig juice on my face. I jumped over the fire and beat my chest. They laughed harder at me than they even laughed at themselves.

Every night I must make them laugh so that they know I care. It is a tough gig but it pays better than when I try jumping on the stage of the comedy club back home.

They haven’t got around to fixing my boat yet, but they showed me some goods and tools from my own country which indicates we are going there someday soon. That would be nice because I think once I’m home I’ll take them across town and try to lose them. I haven’t been able to watch any of my shows or find a decent barber, or bar for that matter. They look like they have traded for simple, every day things like binoculars, passports, and anthropology notes. They make gestures of slicing heads off apparently to indicate that in acquiring these goods they got the better end of the deal.

They laugh and point to my head and make that same slicing motion. I laugh in their face because I’m a tough bargainer. I’m not going to let them take advantage of this everyday fool.

The Demon
Sunday, April 01, 2012

Isn’t it strange how we can think back and remember the most random occurrences, and then other things people ask us to remember, we can’t?

Take for instance this one demon I remember. I don’t remember how he got there, or maybe he just didn’t say, but I remember him. He followed me around everywhere, never truly trying to possess me but somehow still always in the way.

It was incredibly awkward having him always right behind me occasionally stepping on my heels, but what could I do? He was a demon after all. And just because he wasn’t possessing me didn’t mean he wasn’t creeping me out. That little guy stared at me around the clock, thinking what, I don’t know.

I asked him tons of questions but he could never answer any of them. He actually never said anything, but I think he was in constant discomfort because all his noises sounded stuffed up or plugged up. Mostly, I wondered if he was supposed to represent something – was he a metaphor – or was he really trying to possess me but just couldn’t find a way in? I wonder how they do that anyway.

His presence made me think I should quit my bad habits. But that was out of the question because, in some circles, my bad habits are all I have. That made me resent him and I’d try to lose him or kick him away. I couldn’t kick him very far though, and he always came back.

I don’t know if he meant to be intrusive but that’s how it felt having him around. He never asked for anything, like sandwiches, so I figured he didn’t eat food – at least not regular human food – but sure enough, every time I left a sandwich unattended, it would disappear. Then he’d get a glass of water and burp.

And there really was no getting rid of him. He wasn’t afraid to follow me anywhere. And I guess that makes sense. He probably came from hell, which I can only imagine is more desolate than the places I go, or more crowded, I don’t know.

Naturally, I was suspicious of this demon character and I never thought of him as a friend. After the sandwich incident, I knew I couldn’t trust him, so I avoided traps where he might try to kill me. I steered clear of water, high places, and walk in refrigerators, so he wouldn’t drown me, throw me, or ask me to step into the fridge for that ice cream in the back and then shut the door behind me and just sort of “wait it out” until I am the frozen treat.

It took a while of living in that kind of paranoia for me to realize that I couldn’t go on like that. I decided to do what I normally do and he was just going to have to deal with it.

I threw caution to the wind and planned a camping trip, where death traps were potentially everywhere. And what started out as a promising day of relaxation turned into an evening from hell, and I’ll give you three guesses as to who was responsible for that. See, the day started off comfortable but then the temperature gradually got warmer. Temperatures reached a nearly uncomfortable level of warmth. Almost suspiciously warm. And he didn’t even break a sweat. Then, when the sun went down, it got so dark I could hardly see, come on man, what’s next? I asked him and was reminded, oh yeah, you don’t speak.

I built us a campfire and he seemed pleased by that. He grunted and had the creepiest little smile from across the fire. I shivered as he gave me the willies and I felt a cold presence around me. I pointed at him to tell him I wasn’t afraid, but then the strangest thing happened. My voice changed into something raspy and demonic sounding, and I was speaking some sort of ancient garble and couldn’t stop.

He started turning into a big snake and I screamed because I hate snakes. He liked that because he shrieked with delight and just kept on turning into a snake. Oh yuck, I just kept saying as I dared him to eat things like frogs and salamanders. Then I think he tried to eat me because I remember getting scared.

I dodged his strikes and that made him mad because his eyes glowed red like I never saw them before and he growled at me in a way I never knew snakes could. I said, “You’re done,” and I took away his beer.

That only made him angrier and again he tried to kill me so I tied him to a tree. I tried, I can honestly say I really tried, not to let his incisive growls and invasive stares ruin my night, but he wouldn’t stop. Through a non-verbal form of communication – some sort of telepathy – he pleaded with me to untie him but I wouldn’t because I knew he would just kill me. I tried to shake him out of my head and he started making me do that weird voice again. He kept making grotesque threats on my life so I stood up and cut his head off.

I held it in my hands and said, “How do you like that?” And he kept on. But this time he was speaking. He went on about how I made a big mistake and he’d be back, and I said, “Oh, so now you can talk?” And I threw his head in the fire to see what would happen. He shrieked and shriveled. It wasn’t a pretty sight and the smell was awful and, in this way, it went on for hours. It definitely wasn’t for the faint of stomach.

Onlookers wouldn’t come near. They stood there watching, forming their own opinions, I’m sure, from a distance without even asking my side of the story. Oh well, I didn’t do it to draw attention, I did this for me.

Anyway, that’s my point. Something random like that I remember, but go ahead and ask me what I did the next day, or the next week. I can’t remember.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I recently learned there’s a whole wide world out there. It’s full of mystic ideas and revolutionary rumors and thrilling terrors.

Recently, I was watching TV, like I do every waking hour, when inspiration hit me. Bugs Bunny (of all people) inspired an idea I hadn’t had before.

As I watched him hop onto the screen and into my life, he reignited that feeling of discovery. I looked at the cartoon that, until now, I had no idea was airing and I looked down at the remote I held. I said to myself, “I discovered this.”

It brought back the memory of when I’d get excited over hearing a song on the radio. Now that music and movies are literally at my fingertips and I can hear and see them whenever I want; there’s no sense of wonder of when I will see them again. My mind raced as my body sat there on the couch surrounded by about 10 bags of chips and what must have been a case of cold ones. Even all the chips I want are at my fingertips. I just don’t appreciate them the same way I used to when they weren’t so available. Here was Bugs Bunny, a guy whose show was not at my beckon, telling me that there are things out there for discovering.

Before getting right to discovering, I felt I should watch our hero in some of his more important roles. Speak to me Bugs, share your wisdom. It was when Bugs took that wrong turn that I realized something. Bugs is out there now, discovering. What am I doing? I felt I should get up and take a look outside. I did, and things had changed.

So I prepared to go outside. First, I discovered my socks in the couch cushions. Then, I discovered my flip flops. And in that order, I put them on and went outside.

The good news was that a jungle started to grow where my lawn once oppressed the land. I didn’t want to quit doing my part to help restore the jungles of the earth, so I decided to let it grow. Plus those monkeys looked so cute on my garbage cans. Monkeys sure do look and smell like skunks this time of year. My trash cans! I forgot to put the trash to the curb. They must have come for that trash weeks ago. And – yup, it’s gone. My sticky note reminding me to take the trash out used to be affixed to the can. One of those monkeys might have taken it. So I see; we’re playing by the law of the jungle now.

Where’s my car gone? I remember coming home about a month ago. I had returned from the store with my month’s supply of macaroni and cheese and sausage and cheese and beer. I ran inside to make some dinner because I was starving. I had ran out of supplies a day before the month was up and survived off a bag of popcorn I found on top of the fridge. I left the car running because I figured I could always turn it off before I went to bed. This big wide world must be full of thieves that would take advantage of a hungry man like that.

Good for the thief though. He’s out there driving around helping to burn some fossil fuels. I had picked up a newspaper off my stack of newspapers and read something about our exploration for new energy. I said to myself, how about, instead of exploring “newer” and “better” forms of energy, we get more use out of the stuff we already have. They don’t call it “fossil fuel” because it’s “ol’ unreliable.” If it has worked for this ol’ world since the dinosaur age then it is still good enough today for us in this crazy age we live in.

So I walked down the street, inhaling some smoke. This new world was a breath of fresh air. But I remembered I didn’t like smoke so I ducked into a sandwich shop. Once in there, I remembered I didn’t like sandwiches either, but in the name of discovery, I looked around. Nothing there I liked except maybe… yes, chips! I foolishly left them behind at the house unprotected from those monkeys.

I ran home and chased all those stinky monkeys off my property. As the sun started to singe my flesh, I sought cover back in the house. Just in time too. I had forgotten to put pants on or any other article of clothing above my socks. The neighbors’ dogs spotted me and started to laugh. The real embarrassment was when the neighbors themselves started laughing. Rude behavior like that I’d expect from dogs, but not from humans.

Inside, I found the chips in the same way I used to discover things. My friend the TV returned to life and told me to sit. I obeyed.

The warm glow felt good until I saw that Bugs Bunny was over. I was on this new channel and the programs were all about “discovery.” The shows encouraged getting out and doing things. I laughed to myself and kindly said, “No thank you” and crumpled over in a heap of sleep.

I could only dream about what tomorrow might bring.

Good Food
Thursday, March 01, 2012

Isn’t it funny how whenever we go to a dinner party the first thing we do – even before introductions – is sample whatever it is we have to eat this time? You’d think we’d just wait until it’s served like everybody else. We’re going to eat it regardless, that is, if we forgot to wear the jacket with ham in it, and the pants with the pineapple.

These sorts of awkward social gatherings beg another question: Have you ever eaten a food so good that when you tasted it, you knew it’s all you ever wanted to eat? You filled yourself up and you just had to have more. It’s a weird sensation, your belly so full you know you should stop, but you can’t really stop yourself from – let’s call it – “overindulging.”

At no intention of calling attention to yourself, people begin to notice that you’ve eaten way too much too fast. At first they suggest you take it easy for a while, but then you push back and tell them to “take it easy.” All the while you keep eating because you’ll be darned if you’re going to let these chumps tell you what to do.

You don’t know who made the food or who it was even made for, and what’s funny is that it doesn’t even seem to matter. It goes down just the same.

Mmmm, mm, where did this food come from?

Maybe it found its way from the sky, maybe something to do with that chef guy – you sing to yourself.

Soon the ones who love you are yelling at you to stop all the eating because you’re killing yourself. Considering their desperate pleas and empty threats just isn’t on the menu. Instead you pause to ponder life in general. Sometimes, life just feels like a crowd filled with strangers and some people you know who are shouting at you and crying while you’re trying to enjoy your favorite food.

The taste of the food is so good that instead of a sickly full feeling, you get a powerfully full feeling. The strength of 10,000 immortals surges through you veins and concentrates in your gut. You finish all the good food and jump through the ceiling and fly around the land searching for more of the good food.

You consume, it seems, until you realize the dish’s fat count. What did you just do to yourself? And in the proverbial question your friends are asking, there lays the answer, nay, the antidote, the purging if you will.

To the onlookers’ horrified relief, you just throw it all up in a bucket. They set the bucket aside as if they, like you, are almost glad to be rid of it.

You look around and turn to leave, thanking them for the wonderful evening. You would’ve just left had it not been for the aroma from the kitchen. Surely there can’t be more of that heavenly food!

Ahh! Have you ever eaten food so good? No? Neither have I, but that, in a nutshell, is what I imagine heaven is like. Also it’s based on a dream I had about flying.

Spaceman Poem
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

There was once a time, not so long ago
when we feuded with the Russians, said, “One’s got to go.”
During a classic standoff we met at high noon;
we shook our fist and couldn’t resist
we threatened to send ‘em, “Straight to the moon!”

And that gave us an idea, we hadn’t had before.
The heavy weighing thought we couldn’t ignore.
If we took the moon out there in outer-space,
it’d be no crime, only a matter of time
we could post our weapons right there on its face!

We gathered the coolest scientists from near and from Texas
we had them all at our beckon, it was a scientist nexus.
One scientist laughed and said, “You’ll never fly that high.”
We took him, we shook him
we fired him because who needs that guy?

We tested and trialed and made more than one costly error;
we even strapped in a monkey, he didn’t seem to care.
And finally we got it, “Eureka!” we shouted.
We fist pumped and chest bumped
and flipped off those who doubted.

We signed up Neil Armstrong and a couple of buds
who had fun strutting in their new space duds.
We waited and waited ‘til the right time of day,
then they hopped in the rocket, and I had to lock it.
I set fire to the wick and blastoff they were on their way.

Our cosmonaut landed and he jumped for joy.
We said, “Careful with our spacecraft, that’s not a toy.”
He stepped one small step out and gazed at the land.
Other’n planting the flag, it was kind of a drag,
there was nothing to do but shuffle around in the sand.

“Okay,” we told him, “Grab some samples and come back to earth.”
We had new rocks to do science on and to find out their worth.
He flew back into the atmosphere and over our Russian foes,
He waved ‘hi’ and quickly waved ‘bye’
“They beat us,” Russia said, “That really blows.”

We were heroes, at first, we were all big stars,
but soon came the skeptics, they called us all l’ars.
They said our footage was fake, we didn’t know what to do.
Why would we deceive, would you even believe
if we sat you down and brought the moon to you?

So now comes our next project, to lasso that moon.
We’ll simply reel it in, should be here by June.
It’s true what they say, that it might change our world,
but what could it hurt, a little moon dirt.
Won’t you lend a hand now that our plan is unfurled?

My Band
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

People are always saying, “You don’t have to be a rock star to live like one.” And that’s true to an extent. Take me; I live like a rock star even though those days are long behind me.

Sure, I used to pal around with my band and raise all sorts of rumpus.

Looking back at my band’s glory days, I’d have to say they were when I had Dale as a front man. A ragged fellow – kind of narrow – he always had a frazzled look about him. His clothes were frayed and his mind unraveled.

The band’s formation was beautiful; it seemed so organic. It started, literally, when I picked up some maracas and started playing along with Dale. But back then, he was just some guy on the street.

I sang harmony as he shouted obscenities. He had a genuine stage presence.

He would come up with the craziest outfits to perform in. Some days he would dress in all tin foil. Man, he would draw a crowd of gawkers. I guess that’s what they call “showmanship.”

We weren’t really a show for kids, other than when we rocked the ABCs. But even then Dale chose some colorful words for the sing along. I can’t say the kids were offended. They’d just laugh even though I don’t think they could understand him. I didn’t even know what he was saying seven quarters of the time.

But it’s true what they say: real artisans are rarely appreciated in their time, which is why I always told him we should record our music. He’d argue saying that the recording machine would steal our souls and I’d laugh. “I know,” I’d say. “That’s the point.”

As with most geniuses, I never understood Dale. But we got along okay anyway.

People never paid us much, but a lot of times, they didn’t throw us off their property either. More often it was the cops as they were just trying to keep the working man down.

And it didn’t help that Dale was a wild one. He was always getting in some sort of trouble.

Some of the greatest mosh pits would later be reported as gang fights. Cops would question us as witnesses to the events. “Sure I saw it,” I’d tell them. “You could call us the cadence to the scene.” But they never called us that. Usually, the fights would start as I was “takin’ it home” on the maracas and the power of the music got to be too much I guess. They’d all start shoving each other and stabbing one another. But my description never did it justice. I told them you really had to be there to experience it.

I think the greatest fight Dale ever got in was when he claimed to have wrote a song that nobody ever heard of. Passersby would shout, “That’s not Stairway!” and Dale would go insane. And I would tell him, “Dale, you’re acting insane.” And I think that’s what pushed him over the edge. He said the voices told him that he wasn’t insane. He was special and a genius.

Then the voices in Dale’s head turned on me. They said that Dale couldn’t trust me. I was as shocked as Dale was when I heard this.

Then he took his act too far and started getting all crazy. He acted like he wanted to rob everybody and he pulled out his semi-auto pistol. At least he thought it was a pistol. I tried to tell him that it was just a really old banana that had turned black. Then the cops came – again. The officers joined in like they were just one of the group. They tazed him and that was a crowd pleaser. They hauled him off for disrupting the peace and I never heard from him again. After doing a little time, he was released and hopped the first train without even telling me. So I guess if I had to pin it down to one specific event, that’s what caused our band to breakup.

Though it was sudden and unexpected, I believe the breakup was inevitable. Dale loved the drink and hated my salsa dance impressions.

Sure, I thought about quitting the band since half its members left with Dale on the train. And the other half, me, wanted to ease back into a “normal” life. But then I head out on the town, and, to me, that means hitting the hottest clubs.

I’d walk through the doors and everybody knew me as the guy who wasn’t on the list, but at least they’d remember me. After they’d toss me out, I’d continue hitting clubs. Better ones.

Of course it’s important to look the part of the rock star too. I dress in form fitting leathers and am sure to tie some stylish scarves around in strategic places. It’s important to keep the scarves simple. I’m going for a look somewhere between a ninja and a wildfire. A stealthy blaze. When I run by a couple, I want one to say, “Was that man on fire?” and the other to say, “What man?”

And where would my night go if I wasn’t in a rock star state of mind? I unload a fifth of wine coolers into my empty gut before chain smoking in the car on my way to the clubs. Now I don’t condone driving under dangerous influences and that’s why I usually threw up the wine coolers the second they’re down. I guess they’re more for image than effect.

So I guess Dale was right about one thing. I may not be a rock star but I sure do live like one. But I keep the maracas on me and they wait for their chance to play again.

Kollege Life
Sunday, January 15, 2012

The experience of attending college, for a youth, teaches many valuable lessons. But contrary to parental belief, not all these lessons are purely academic. Not all the lessons are even pure – in the decent sense.

“Kyle Kollege was an interesting fellow,” the dean of students said. “Our institution accepted him because of his outstandingly mediocre grades in high school and frankly, he inspired us all by producing lots of money. He provided us this essay in his application for graduate studies. Although we rejected him from continuing his studies with us, he did provide our psychology department with some insight on how students are cohabitating.”

It’s Funny You Know: Me and the Girls in Bars

By Kyle Kollege

Meet Kyle Kollege. I’m a formidable young man who decided that by attending a state college I would be taking my future into my own hands. At first, I wasn’t sure what attracted me to college life, but after furthering my education only one semester, I knew it was the 2:1 ratio of ladies to gentlemen. During my semester majoring in statistics, I learned how the overbalanced ratio benefited me as a male.

Those that had the pleasure of meeting Kollege in college would describe me as “socially awkward” – whatever that means. Which is what I liked about my new friends, whoever those people were, is that they used big words. So big, in fact, that just listening to them made me imagine I was smarter.

But once I heard all their big words, it was time to move on and find people who used different big words. I searched and I found.

College was a time to learn that the long, dark, lonely nights of winter were better spent alone in libraries learning wise lessons rather than seeking company in social places. That lesson took me a combined several semesters to learn.

For, it was time for me to find a lady; studying anatomy taught me that. I found that most of the “easy prey” congregated around the hypnotic drink known to flow freely in Greek houses. And since I was never allowed in those houses, I moved to the next best place: bars.

It was all like stalking wildlife, in that, if caught staring too long, they get uneasy and want to flee. That was the only lesson I needed from my semester majoring in wildlife. In my pursuit, I had to put myself in their untrusting minds and anticipate my impressions on them. He looks suspicious, they’d likely suggest to themselves and others. If they’re anything like wildlife, they’re thinking I want to kill them.

But I never wanted to do that. I can bet there are certain prejudices when one has to introduce oneself as a killer. I can’t explain why, but that’s the way it goes.

Like a male of the wild, I’d migrate to the establishments where I could best flex my wings, or flaunt my stuff, so to speak. As an available bachelor, I knew I had to impress ladies with my strengths before tricking them into further fraternization.

I never had much to offer like interesting stories, or a busting bank account, or even guns to twirl around. So I would show them my disappearing beer tricks. The only magic involved was in how much beer I made disappear. Ladies were usually very nice about it. They would pretend to be disgusted and stare in a cute and longing way, all the while wondering if I “like” them like that.

Sometimes, if they stared long enough, I could capture their essence and do impressions of them for their amusement. I would flip my bottom lip down and stick my tongue over my upper lip if she had big funny lips. Or, if she had crazy eyes, I’d open my eyes real wide and slowly cross them, focusing one on the floor and one on her if she was an eye contact kind of lady.

But sometimes, like in the wild with animals, it helped to demonstrate that I was of no threat. Especially if the mom was around and was acting really protective of her young. So I’d turn sort of with my side to them and try not to make eye contact. I’d swivel one leg loose as if I were injured and just wanted to talk. The older, more experienced of the species, would fall for it right away because she was bright enough to know that no one would fake a hurt leg, not in this environment. The younger, still cautious, would often make an attempt to dash.

Every once in a while I’d catch myself going into a habitat where I didn’t belong or maybe I wasn’t welcome. A big male member of the species would greet me at the door with little more than a smile and “how do” before promptly rejecting me. Maybe I had less than the exact change one charges for entering. Sorry, I didn’t realize it was “that kind” of “establishment.” Or maybe I was denied because I refused to remove my conversation starter, the funny cowboy hat, which didn’t meet their “dress code” I was forcefully made familiar with.

Other times, I found myself out of my realm in a dance specialty place. Darn, I’d say, when I realized tonight I should have worn the funny cowboy hat. My hat is way funnier than all these cowboy hats.

Sometimes I’d get asked to dance, in which case, it was my turn to be smug. You’re not even acting like you’re drunk, I’d say with confidence that would make a mother lion shiver. So I’d take a seat, sure she’d be back for more. I’d slam down some Sacajawea’s. “Two drinks!” I’d yell. “One for me and one for my friend!” I’d swiftly finish them both because there was never any friend.

Soon, I’d work myself into sort of a little frenzy where I built up some courage to try this dancing that I was sure was one of the dumbest mating rituals we humans could have adopted from the animal kingdom. Why didn’t we steal the elk system, in which there is one dominant (king elk) and he has his harem to mate with. That way, the rest of us don’t even have to worry about it. The rest of us males would form a group and call “boy’s night” to order.

Again, to trick the female into trusting me, I would play the victim. I’d stumble across the room to meet my acquaintance. My words, the only communication tool I had from my semester majoring in communication, would make a message to the effect that I would enjoy trying this dance ritual but I needed guidance. Sometimes she would take my hand and lead me out to dance. I made sure she knew nothing of the semester I actually majored in dance. So we’d walk funny together out to the floor. We would both try to outdo the other with our exaggerated yet funny and tasteful dance moves, and the loser would have to go sit down or find a new partner. And I never lost.

I’d repeat this routine until I don’t even remember when. More times than I care to admit, I’d get caught in the middle of a conspiracy where the plot was to drug me so I’d forget most of the night’s occurrences. The next morning, aside from the obvious question of who would want me to forget, would be the mystery of why my shirt was tied to me like a cape. Did I fight crime?

Desperately, I would make ready to go out again and seek the answers I sought. And that, To Whom It May Concern, is why I want to be a doctor in criminal justice.

<3 Kollege

Polite Parties
Sunday, January 1, 2012

Take it from a guy who has crashed a lot of memorable parties this year; there are many dos and don’ts when it comes to hosting a party. So allow me to break down, for you, exactly how to make the most of your celebrations.

First of all, no more prank non invites. You know how many parties I would have missed had I fell for the ol’, “Oh, I’m not having a party” prank?

Let’s just say, a lot.

It’s true, that most people appreciate a classy type setting to enjoy the holiday season, but try not to go overboard pushing the classiness of the shindig. I find that most guests get uncomfortable around the guy that shows up in his prank tux with no rear end and, also, he’s wearing his funny boxers.

Besides, there’s more down sides to throwing an event that classy. I’ll bet the worst part about hosting a classy dinner party isn’t the crippling loneliness when everybody leaves. No, I’ll bet it’s all the plastic cups and plates you have to pick up when they’re gone.

Also, try to let the guests know just what kind of party it is. Is there any themes? Rules?

Rules, like for perhaps, don’t play with the dog? Man’s best friend indeed. I thought we humans were friends, and figured they loved me like they love their dog. That’s why it surprised me at how upset I made them. Sorry, friends, if I knocked over the table and Nana when I raced the hound dog to the leftover ham bone. Everyone got so mad – I really thought we were better friends. But they let that hambone came between us. I guess part of me still thinks I should have just let the dog have the bone.

Also, please state up front if it’s considered too offensive to race through a keg and do my dance routine on the table.

Or when applicable, just ask me to leave my keg at home. You say the invitation to a kid’s birthday party should have been enough to indicate that a keg wasn’t welcome, but come on man, the keg wasn’t for him. Or the clowns and balloon animals should have been a hint that the keg was too much, but come on again man, clowns and balloon animals? The only thing missing to complete the perfect party was the keg.

And for the more adult parties, don’t hide my name from the guest list. Even the door man is embarrassed at the situation, I can tell, when he insists that I leave at once.

Avoid saying rude things like, “Oh, you didn’t need to bring a gift.” It leaves the guest feeling shamed like they could have gotten away with not bringing a gift.

And always provide plenty of chairs and space. Some beautiful spreads have been ruined by nowhere to sit. I’ve waltzed in where they keep the food and – steak, wow steak, where do I set my plate and cut the meat? What am I a monkey? I had to commit wholeheartedly to that thing and eat it in one bite. I couldn’t mingle for several minutes while I chewed that thing down to a more manageable size. A size that I could tuck in my cheeks so I could at least sound coherent. And then, oh, there’s the table.

Throw in some ice breakers or at least force everyone to play some organized games. Women are always acting awkward and nervous when I approach them to dance. And so are their boyfriends.

Don’t put up with complaints from guests who might ask things like, where they might find more cupcakes, or hors d’oeuvres, or refills on already generous amounts of water. Maybe instead of fancy dipping sauce for pigs in a blanket, no more pigs for anyone. How’s that?

To avoid confusion, don’t set the utensils and the trash right next to each other. I once spent an entire evening looking for a clean fork only to have pointed out to me that I was digging through the trash. In order to avoid paralyzing humiliation, I owned my mistake by pulling out a fork and using it. At first I thought, mmm, I like spinach dip, but then I was like, uh-oh, that wasn’t spinach dip.

Encourage everyone to dress up. Or put on a masquerade. I’ve always wanted to go to one of those parties where everyone knows everyone else but nobody really knows who’s under there because we’re all talking with British accents. And also, we’re all elitists.

Guests should be on their best behavior. Keep in mind that it’s not the act that’s particularly rude or polite; it’s all in how you respond to it. Let’s say a guest burps and then feels uncomfortable. Try not to alienate them by keeping everyone else from burping. Let others burp so the “offender” doesn’t feel like they’re the only one who is burping. The same goes for farting, or “tooting” in polite company.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some pretty amazing drinks have been outlawed over the years. But one will never get prohibited because it continues to grow in popularity and it appeals to everybody. The rich, the old, the young, the poor, the handsome, and even the ugly will all get addicted at some point in their life.

It’s coffee and it literally makes people crazy.

People sometimes drink too much and get what is known as the “jitters” and yes, the “jitters” are as frightening as they sound. They make people all shaky. Don’t ever forget about the hot cup of coffee in your hand and go to shake someone else’s hand that might be holding coffee too. You’ll just bump cups and spill on them. Then watch out for the jitters. ‘Cause, boy, they’ll shaky their fist at you, and all because of too much coffee.

Even before too much is consumed people start making dangerous decisions under the spell of coffee. They want to rush things at impossible speeds. I’ve had bosses who literally drank coffee every morning and, sure enough, every morning they would tell me to pick up the pace, speed things up, come on, do more better already.

Despite all the terrible true stories that cloud coffee consumption, the positive effects outweigh the negative. Sure it’s known to have torn families apart, but so have wolves; that’s not my point. Listen, sometimes coffee is the only thing that holds a family together. Families can be at each other’s throats when they get together for holidays and reunions because, who brought the dog, and you’ve always been the favorite, and why is Tommy drunk again? But then out comes a hot pot of coffee and everyone can act “normal” again. Coffee can either be your best friend or your worst enemy in scenarios like this. Keep it flowing constant and keep it flowing hot, is my best advice.

It’s easy to recognize when an addict goes without for too long. There is no clearer sign than when they turn into monsters hardly recognized by friends and family, so pay attention.

I don’t advocate starting the addiction if you’re not a coffee drinker. But to those of you who drink already, how good it is, eh? It makes mornings superb and Mundane tasks seem worthwhile. And Tuesdane and Wednesdane tasks, too. It makes life itself a joy all the time. Except, of course, when you’re at the dentist and he says, “Time for the ol’ root canal train, choo-choooooo!” because, well, nothing legal makes that a joy.

Tooth pain reminds me, I’ve heard coffee comes in cold varieties too, but this is what’s commonly known as a communist drink. Which reminds me again, that wars have been waged over coffee. The Cold War for one.

Another one was World War II. In the United States, congress prohibited alcoholic beverages. In a public display of annoyance, the American people asked, hey jerks, what are you going to prohibit next, coffee? But congress said, no, and poured a couple fingers in their mug. Then, to lighten the mood, they joked saying, prohibit coffee? We don’t want to start a second world war.

Little did they know, Adolf was on his way to visit Poland to discuss their property boundaries over a cup of coffee.

Poland knew Adolf took his coffee seriously and wanted to impress him with a wide variety. They offered all types; light, dark, medium, it’s even thought that they invented coffee cake here.

Adolf, tired, a little grumpy, and in need of a cup, browsed all that Poland offered. He said, wow, you really do have a lot of coffee here. Poland joked saying, just call us the King of Coffee. Adolf slammed down his cup and went back to Germany. His temper was in no mood; for, he had always thought of himself as the King of Coffee.

At home, in Germany, he led the way in WWII after he ignited a nation when he stood in front of his military and proclaimed something in German.

Coffee sure has changed the world since its introduction. It’s true, nobody knows just when or where it was delivered from heaven, but another thing is true, too. People thought the heavenly drink would make them live forever. That was proved untrue when coffee drinkers still died.

TV commercials advertising coffee play on this assumption that one will not live forever. They play the ol’ “entice the family home with a cup-o-warm brew” scenario because, well, you’re not going to live forever. And they’re right; sometimes coffee is all that will peel our loved ones away from the bar where they’re getting drunk.

Coffee is an important drink to remember when dealing with difficult personalities in the family this holiday season. It’s also important to remember when maintaining good relationships that people are tired before coffee, often irritable and quick to agree to things if you just get out of their face already.

A helpful hint in offering coffee to people is to try and take advantage of them for productive purposes. Try: you’re welcome to a cup once you’ve finished shoveling your way up my walk.

I’m always using the barter system when hurting for my fix. It’s tough though, when nobody wants to trade for your best socks, or to hear some of my Christmas Cowboy Poetry. It’s like, come on, what do I have to do for a cup of coffee? They usually take money.

The entire city of Seattle was built on this sort of coffee barter system.

With National Coffee Day being every September 29th, coffee is the second most celebrated drink in the USA. It’s second only to beer, which is celebrated every day at lunch.

Oh, and how did WWII end, you ask. When America, known worldwide as the great mediator, stepped in, we made Adolf and Poland agree that there is no “Coffee King.” Poland came to terms pretty easy saying, they were only joking anyway. Adolf, however, left the mediation silently and looking depressed. I wonder what ever happened to that guy.

Two Likely Friends
Thursday, December 01, 2011

Historians often argue about who would have won in a gunfight between Jesse James and William Bonney, and this is why historians bug me. History speaks for itself, in that, the two men made better friends than enemies.

It should be noted, though, that a gunfight did almost occur between the two bandits when word spread around the country about the two and how many men they had killed. Newspapers went back-and-forth on the actual amount and soon it became like a contest of who could kill more or shoot more accurately. Jesse claimed that he fought in a real war and the numbers were of no comparison since – who knows the real number? William got on his horse to cross the country and meet Jesse with blazing guns and a firm, “Oh, so my fight wasn’t a ‘real war’?”

But one thing most historians can agree on is that, in those days, it took a long time to cross the country on horseback. By the time William reached Jesse he forgot what he was even mad about. They became good friends during a gambling game of cards.

Jesse was twelve years William’s elder, which led to James acting as a kind of outlaw mentor for the young cowboy gambler.

Though the two were considered friends, they were often at odds when it came to breaking the law. There was the code of ethics for cowboy outlaws, which Jesse took seriously and sometimes to the extreme. One time Jesse banned drinking while working. William rebelled and proclaimed that drinking was part of his work. Then he added “drinker” to his accomplished resume of outlaw occupations.

It took time, but Jesse finally won over William. Back at the hideout, Jesse would coax the hung-over William out of bed with the smell of fresh-cooked bacon and waffles. The smell would make William sick at first, but then he would feel better and join Jesse for breakfast. They would joke with each other and say, “Another day, another dollar” and then go rob someone.

Sometimes they would get on each other’s nerves and William would say things like, “Jesse, you’re a hillbilly, redneck crook who is not going to call the shots for me.”

And Jesse would respond with things like, “William, you’re an out-of-control hippie who is going to let drink and dames ruin you.”

They would retreat to their separate rooms of the hideout and cool off. They knew they couldn’t help themselves or blame each other for their lifestyles. They were just doing what they knew how. Eventually, they would shake hands and tell each other that their mother raised a good son.

If anyone gave them half a chance to do it all over, I suppose they might have become upstanding citizens or chose better friends. But I think it’s a safe bet that they would have stayed just the same.

Once they both gained fame and notoriety from their antics on the wrong side of the law, Jesse suggested that they start using fake names to avoid capture. William stuck out his hand and introduced himself as “William Henry McCarty, Jr.” Jesse said that sounded stupid and William got all defensive. “That’s my real name,” William cried, but in some reports William said he wasn’t crying.

Jesse told him no way was that his real name. William thought about it and said, “Well my mother used to call me Henry Antrim,” which was true, but by this point Jesse was so confused he told him to pick a different name.

William chose the name “Billy the Kid,” which was already revered in songs and folklore around his home territory. Jesse liked the name and called him that until their dying days.

Once in a while Billy the Kid would get bored of the refined bank robber life that Jesse offered and he would go run from the law and rustle some cattle. Billy would get himself into some pretty sticky situations which he and Jesse would argue about. Then Jesse would remind Billy, “This outlaw life is killing us and pretty soon we’ll all be dead.” Jesse’s famous quote put things back into perspective for Billy and everything would go back to being OK.

Billy was back out in the ol’ west when Jesse heard of the Kids’ death. Jesse just laughed to himself and thought, that outlaw life sure did kill him. And Jesse prepared himself and the gang to make yet another bank robbery. But before the robbery, in a touching moment of remembrance, Jesse moved to dust off a picture of his late gun-slinging friend. And in that moment, Jesse, too, fell. Jesse’s body was riddled with old gunshot wounds he’d survived, but the shot that killed him, his gang later joked about saying, “We could have swore (sic) it wasn’t loaded.”

Some say those were the two best bank robbers that ever lived and died. Some say they were never killed and they lived out their old age on a lake somewhere in Texas. Some say they never died at all – their spirit lives today inside aspiring new bank robbers. But others say, no, that’s not their spirit; that’s meth.

Deer Hunting
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are we and the white-tail deer so different, really?

I remember one time I thought I was entering into an ancient mating ritual with one of my own species. Only then did I find that I was tricked – lured into a trap to be shot and… who knows what else? Eaten and mounted probably.

So from personal experience I know hunting is a vicious cycle.

But let me share another story. Both we and the deer fight for the same land and the right to browse and graze the choicest foliage. We even kill each other for it.

Fact: Our so-called liaisons between us and the deer, the fish and game officers, will swear up and down that the deer are safe, that they’re “coming around.” But don’t let the officers pull the sympathy card with you.

Because, fact: The deer tried to kill me once. They had a classic highway robbery setup – a whole gang of them. I just thank the lucky stars that I recognized it before I stopped and I just mowed right on by at 60 miles an hour – hopefully taking out their leader. I’m not saying I aimed for the deer, but I’m not, not, saying I aimed for those villains.

Deer can kill humans - probably happens more than you think. But they can’t kill our spirit. Ours is the spirit of victoriously frying those rascals as steaks on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

To answer your question, of course we’re different. We prepare our killings like civilized humans while the deer thrash around the woods like some kind of wild animal.

Boy, was I glad when my friend Dan took me deer hunting. I was going stir crazy just pacing around his place waiting for him to agree to take me deer hunting.

I didn’t know quite what to expect for our trip so I packed a little of everything. It’s important to learn from our mistakes. Take me for example; I can probably repeat all my mistakes.

The last three times I went hunting by myself all nearly ended in disaster. The first time I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going and I ended up in a city park. The worst part wasn’t that I was going all natural and in the nude, it was that I totally botched skinning the squirrels I found. Making a pair of squirrel gloves was out of the question and even salvaging the skin for a pair of socks seemed hopeless. I ended up having to find some beavers to skin. Though, one or all of them could have been a dog. But I couldn’t tell then and I don’t think anyone can tell now.

The second time the plan started off simple. Shoot the first deer I see. But then, all of the sudden, I nearly died from exposure. Luckily a park ranger found me. I was naked down to my socks but what was funny was that I hadn’t started out nude. I discovered a river and I had to jump in. So jump in I did, and while I was in there a bear or something ran off with my clothes. I placed my clothes safely on a log I found floating, and wouldn’t you know it? When I was done my clothes were gone. The bear took the log and all. The bear’s just lucky he didn’t show his face or I probably would have shot at it.

The third time was a disaster all the way around. I was so determined to bring home a trophy I stayed in the woods camping for a long time. I was alone for a while and the voices in my head started getting to me. They told me to do some pretty sick and weird things and then they nearly killed me. Eventually, I had to come back to civilization so maybe the buzzing of the traffic could replace the voices. I arrived back in town ready to start over, weary and in the nude. And the worst part was – it was all a dream – the whole hunting trip wasted. Now the buzzing won’t cease and I wonder what that is going to make me do.

Anyway my friend Dan agreed to take me because the buzzing was making us crazy. I promised that I would stop demonstrating the buzzing if he would just take me hunting. Show me how to hunt a deer already.

“Keep your shirt on,” he told me. “We’ll go hunting.” How he knew my previous experiences I’ll never know.

We loaded up our guns and ammo and our goodies for the road. After running a quick inventory of our supplies I asked where the machine gun was. I couldn’t believe it when he said he didn’t have one.

I wanted to make the most of my hunting time with my expert friend Dan so I practiced my aim hard. Man, I must have pointed that gun at everyone.

The trip started off OK until he got angry over our difference in opinion on using the doe scent. He told me I was wasting it, but I told him I’ve been reading up on deer – their behavior, their habits, and their beliefs. I said, Fact: I had to eat the doe scent because I know how she spreads the scent. He got mad anyway but I don’t know why. I never even got to spread it because I barfed it up during the car ride.

Hunting is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it requires you to get up at unheard of hours – even before dawn – put on long underwear, boots, gloves, a hat, drive all the way to the woods, get in a bloody mess, drive all the way back fighting sleep. You’d think the turmoil would end there, but it doesn’t. Once you get home you realize you’re not even ready for bed yet. Now, you have to go back and find where on the highway you lost the deer. You have to evaluate the damage and fight off the wild dogs and – oh why did I ever take up hunting?

Of course hunting isn’t all the fun it sounds like either. Sometimes we just sit there in silence. In times like that I find myself getting into trouble. To break the silence I’ll say things like, “I wonder what you look like through the scope.”

But then it happened. Dan raised his rifle and pow, he shot a deer. He could hardly contain my excitement. I wanted to run out and touch it but he held me down until he was ready to go touch it. As we approached it, I pulled out my hatchet.

“Wait,” Dan said. “What is that for?”

I said, boy, if I ever found out someone had hunted me they better make dang sure I’m dead or I’d probably get up and strangle them.

He didn’t think it was necessary and we had to leave before I even had a chance to shoot something. Probably for the better since my rifle never seemed to shoot too straight. Never once hit what I wanted. Plus I figured out a better easier way to kill deer. Every time I went for one, though, Dan would holler at me.

I think he was jealous of my new hunting technique because he kept yelling to stop all the swerving. Like I said, hunting ain’t for everyone.

Movie Ideas
Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Here you go Planet Hollywood. Eat your eyes out on these million dollar gold flakes.

This feel-good drama features a man named Bobbi. He grew up in a tough neighborhood of some Eastern-shore town. Maybe by some docks. He works for a rug cleaning business and is really strong from all those piles of rugs he pulls from offices and restaurants. Bobbie makes lots of friends all over town. He even makes friends with his boss’ daughter and at this point we think, uh-oh Bobbi, what have you gotten yourself into now? Out on the streets he tries to stay out of trouble. But he has many friends he grew up with and when they see him they yell, “Yo Bobbi!” He hears that and deep down he knows they’re the ones who will always be there for him. So he helps them by stealing things or giving them rides places. His boss always finds out and lectures him. He says, “You know if ya’ cleaned up ya’ act, ya’ could be runnin’ d’is rug biznuss someday. But ya’ gotta’ git ya’ sma’ts about ya’ kid.” And his boss is right. Bobbi may be strong but he isn’t very smart. Certainly not smart enough to run a business. Bobbi’s boss’ daughter and Bobbi sit on a bench at sunset and talk about things. Mostly they talk about how dumb Bobbi is. “Yoa’ just ina’ticulate,” she says. “Kind of dull in the head.” Then a homeless man says, “Yoa’ not so dumb kid. Ya’ just simpleminded. You’ll fig’ya t’ings out in your simpul wayz. Look at how I ended up, and I’m a friggin’ genius!” Bobbi decides if he ever wants out of his dire lot he needs to fight his way out. For no other reason than he was taught fighting solves problems. Now we’re thinking, Oh Bobbi, you and your simple mind. A lot of people don’t think he can do it because, again, he isn’t very smart. And they are right. By the end he reconciles with everybody he’s wronged but more importantly with himself, and he says, “I may not be very sma’t but I know di’ty rugs when I see‘um.” Also the rug business is a front for drugs. The movie is titled “Yo Bobbi!”

In this foreign film everybody speaks garble. It would be very hard to follow if it weren’t for the main character, a farmer, who the audience follows through a long, quiet, and confoundedly confusing life. It’s funny that he guides us through the picture because he doesn’t say much himself but people sure do talk his ear off. What they’re saying is anybody’s guess but they always feel like their problems are more important than his secret desires. They never ask what he is thinking because they come to him for his help. He is, after all, a farmer and can fix many things. Especially in this simple rural setting of who knows where, Europe – beautiful this time of year. You’d think he would have important work to do on the farm but he is always helping others. The ones he helps do learn small lessons from him. We all learn a little about ourselves during his/our journey. Maybe we feel more worldlier. Maybe we feel superior because we speak English. The end of the movie takes us to a train station where he is at a fork in his life. He could just take the long dirt road home to tend to his farm or he could get on the train and go… who knows? Maybe to the beach where he last saw his long lost love all those years ago before the war. It is quiet except for the wind and a little girl asks him a question. She probably asked where he is going. That makes him think even harder and he wipes his brow in the sun and for the first time in the movie we see him smirk. The movie is called “The Farmer’s Walking Shoes.”

This movie takes place in ancient times – when only the strongest warrior types lived on past adolescence. The beautiful women of the empire held a special power. And with that special power they would take to the arena of sport and fight each other naked. They fought with pillows filled with the finest feathers from exotic birds so they wouldn’t hurt each other. Sometimes it would rain and the arena turned to mud. It’s really more of an artsy film and I don’t expect everyone to “get it.” It’s called “Fancy Feathers and Naked Princesses.”

This movie opens with an old but tough captain lifting weights or waking up from a nightmare. He is a no nonsense kind of officer and therein lies the conflict. One of his squads loves nonsense. In this slapstick war comedy we follow the lives of a quirky squad of soldiers whose only means of coping with war is pulling practical jokes. The captain wants them to just be serious and take pride in their jobs. He vows to finish the job so he can go home to his wife. In his quest to teach them lessons in war, in life, and in love, he learns a lesson of his own. Little does he know, the men are teaching him patience and compassion. And that even in a war it is OK to cut loose and enjoy the lighter side of life. He usually dishes out some kind of ironic punishment for their light-hearted shenanigans. But it is when they dip his hand in warm water the night before the colonel shows up for a surprise inspection that the story takes a dramatic turn. The colonel demands to know why the captain peed his bead. Of course the captain can’t use his men as an excuse, so all he can do is laugh at the situation. Then a bomb explodes and when they find all the dry bedding burned up, they are forced to share the pee bedding. At first the colonel is miserable while all the other guys have learned to laugh at these situations they find themselves in. The movie is called “The Making of a Man” and there might be a role for that guy from Yo Bobbi.

As you can see these proposed plots are extremely character driven, so try to find a cast that can carry the script. With a little hard work, a lot of luck, and a killer soundtrack, I think we have some real winners.

Hosting Horrors
Saturday, October 15, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night, no, no, too cliché.

For obvious reasons that night, it was hard to see without some sort of device to produce light, and the rain and wind indicated instability in the atmosphere. It was perfect. Perfect were the conditions for my:

Mega scary Halloween party!

And the moon was full!

I always host the scariest Halloween parties. It is my honor and my duty as I have the biggest castle in the neighborhood. In fact, I tend to scare people so bad that they often won’t come back next year.

Things were going good. People all seemed uncomfortable and uneasy. If they know me, they know I love to frighten people at my parties. What makes Halloween parties so hard, is that people already expect scary things. St. Patrick’s Day parties are easy because no one expects spiders in their salad, but they get them. So tonight, are they expecting a python in the couch cushions? We’ll see.

I could see guests wondering at the cobwebs that overwhelmed the room. Oh yes, those are real. What of the skulls in the fireplace? I found those in the basement pantry. What about the blood all over? That’s my blood. I cut myself pretty severely while carving these grotesque pumpkins. I got a little woozy and fell smashing my head over there. I came to and dragged myself toward my car keys over here. I couldn’t go any further, so I used my belt to tighten a life-saving tourniquet around my arm. Just long enough for the wound to coagulate. Exactly how long that took I don’t know because like a wimp, I passed out again. Good thing I woke up in time for the guests to arrive. But I still can’t feel my left hand.

Demonstrating my numbness I’d turn suddenly and bonk guests’ butts. “See that?” I’d bonk some more. “I can’t even feel that.”

One lady really played into character and slapped me silly. Right across the head. She kind of caught my eye but my eye was OK. She dressed as a pirate, and as everyone knows, pirates used to slap each other crazy. Probably where all the eye patches and slurred speech came from.

One guy, dressed as a Roman or a knight or something, just pointed to my stack of oily rags next to the fire, which had been steadily growing bigger due to the nests, leaves, and carcasses falling from the chimney. “What’s with your stack of oily rags?” He’d asked a couple times.

“Why?” I said. “Does it… SCARE you?”

“Your costume frightens me,” he said smugly, pointing to my dead left hand, my one weakness.

Wise cracker, I thought. Wryly pointing out that I was not even in my costume. I hadn’t had time to change since I cut myself and fell asleep. Though the knife, still lodged in my purple hand, probably gave some of the more delicate guests a fright.

Just then, Fred jumped through my biggest window and made an announcement, “I am a WEREWOLF!”

I looked at the clock. At least the tardy guest knew how to make an entrance. Just like Fred, I thought. Rude, but willing to make up for it by acting like a fool to amuse and amaze the crowd. I may not know Fred, but I approve already.

The Roman-knight pointed out that it was a full moon tonight and, in fact, Fred looked nothing like a werewolf. He was just in his street clothes and, if anything, balding. This guy sure was observant and his dry sense of humor started to wig me out.

“You need a drink,” I said to the Roman.

“Thanks,” he said. “But I’m a recovering alcoholic.”

“I don’t get it,” I said. “A recovering Roman Alcoholic?”

“I’m a tin man,” he said. “I don’t need a drink, I need a heart,” and he banged his breast plate. I shook my head; I still didn’t understand. But judging by his shiny complexion, he looked drunk to me.

Thankfully, Fred broke up the awkward silence and explained himself.

“The moon is full, yes. But the clouds are covering it and I need the full energy of the moon to transform into your worst nightmare!”

That got people talking. A lot of questions floated around like who invited that guy, and should we kill him while we still have the advantage, and why does this say “bat wing soup?” I don’t see any bat wings – oh yes, there they are. Those are bat wings.

I grabbed a baseball bat and mentally prepared myself to kill this werewolf in human form. As I held the wood stick in my hand, I realized I should have been preparing my whole life for this moment.

Then the pirate lady said, “Maybe we should first give him a chance to be a nice werewolf.”

It was clear, to only me it seemed, that she had taken sides with the monster and we should probably kill her next. Maybe she had gone mad since she knew by now that I would never date her. I couldn’t. Suppose I want to run for president on a republican ticket someday. I couldn’t be married to a pirate.

Tensions were getting hot as the debate grew into a low murmur and Fred started digging into the pecan pie. He was showing signs of turning already.

Thank goodness my friend Ralph, dressed as Robin Hood, appeared at the top of the stairs with his bow drawn. Finally, someone with a head on his shoulders to end this debate. Good thing Ralph showed up. And good thing he didn’t dress as anything else. Actually, he wears his Robin Hood costume every day. He’s reliable like that. He’s a good friend when you’re in a tight spot.

I stood there quietly urging Ralph to let loose and end this madness with an arrow right to his face. Inconspicuously, I pointed from my face to the werewolf’s to indicate just how to kill him while we still had the element of surprise. “Hit him in the face!” I yelled, but before he could get a shot off, John came in.

I am a vampire!” He selfishly exclaimed. All eyes moved to him.

Again, the observation was made that he didn’t really look like a vampire.

“You see,” John explained. “The moon is still shielded by the clouds…”

“No, no,” a party goer’s voice said. “I think a vampire is always a vampire, no matter what time of the month it is.”

“Oh yes,” John said, having learned something about himself. “It is on the full moon that I turn myself into a bat.”

The guests were considering that, too, when, “No,” one said. “That still isn’t true. You should be able to do that any time you want. Just what kind of vampire are you?”

The crowd grew restless.

“You’re right,” John admitted. “It is so hard for vampires today to know our culture with our heritage nearly lost due to centuries of oppression by Europeans and Catholics.”

The same debate on whether to kill him or give him a chance lasted half as long before someone yelled, “Let them duel!”

Now things were getting saucy. I couldn’t have planned a better party if I was drunk.

Just then, Jesse ran from the kitchen to the center of the room, threw his arms up and from deep in his belly he yelled, “Ooo, I’m escaped from the looo-ooony bin!”

He really scared everybody with his crazy eyes and gaped teeth. His costume was very convincing with broken irons and everything. His skin, a pale white because, as Jesse knows, you don’t get any sun when you’re locked in the loony bin.

Every time Jesse would creep in on guests and steal sips from their cocktails I would laugh. He was, after all, a real loony. That’s where I found him when I invited him. I even helped him break those chains. I was right. That bald head of his had a creepy quality that added to the strange aura of my party.

But when the clouds lifted as Fred predicted, something strange started to happen. Fred started growing hair everywhere and his tooth-like features turned to fang-like features. He started to drool more than he had been and his breath was nearly as bad as before. And my, what big nostrils he grew!

When Fred proclaimed he was a werewolf, we all thought he was nuts. It was when he started to look like one that we knew he was nuts. We knew we had to bludgeon him to death. At least that’s what we set out to do. We bludgeoned and bludgeoned but he wouldn’t die. That’s how we knew he was a real werewolf. Had he just died under our blunt objects we would have known it was just a prank in tasteful holiday humor.

We heard later that he ate some kids and an old lady, and all that was after tearing through a field of squash. Some dismissed it saying that’s just a werewolf’s behavior. They really shouldn’t be allowed out on full moons. I agreed and went on sipping my punch.

Already, I have had people say they are not coming back next year. I suppose it’s out of respect for my ability to frighten guests’ socks off.

The Hot Seat
Saturday, October 1, 2011

I sat under the light as the cop moved in to interrogate me. Give me your worst, cop, I thought. I’ll never squeal. Not on my friends. Loyalty means something in our circle.

“Would you like a donut?” Bruce, the cop, asked me.

These cops are so transparent, I thought. I immediately recognized the beginning of the ol’ “Good Cop, Bad Cop” routine, a scenario I’ve seen a hundred times over in movies and such. But I didn’t know how to respond to the donut. I’ve been offered donuts before, but never sitting in a police interrogation room. Peeking into the box acting uninterested, I selected a jelly filled one as if donuts didn’t even matter to me. Instead of playing into their game and, I don’t know, eating it, I threw them a curve. I bit into the donut and spit it out, right at them. I chucked the remaining donut at the mirror.

Bulls eye!

“That’s what I think of your ‘hospitality’ copper!” I was beaming with excitement inside. How would they respond to that?

Bruce seemed disappointed and a little depressed when he picked up the piece with a napkin and threw it in the trash.

“We tried being nice,” his partner Lenny said. “You know, Bruce’s wife made those special for him to bring into work today?”

I turned my attention to Lenny. This must be the tough guy. I’ll have to break him as well.

“Oh yeah?” I said, mocking his stupid voice.

“Yeah, to share with his friends.”

“Lenny,” I said. “I can see you’re not going to make this easy on me, so here’s a tips worth of free advice: make this easy on yourself and give it up. You’re not going to crack this head case.” And I pointed to my head so he knew what I meant.

“We have witnesses that say they saw you coming out of the burning building,” Lenny said. “All we want are some details. Did you see anyone else? Do you know how the fire started?”

I waved my hand. Brushed him off like he was nothing. Dirt to me.

Just then their chief walked in.

“Has he been read his rights? Son,” he addressed me. “Before you talk, you know you have the right to an attorney?”

“Sir,” Bruce butted in. “He’s not being held. We mentioned that he might be able to help us with the fire on Ketchum Boulevard. Then he followed us here and demanded to talk, hasn’t said a meaningful thing since.”

The chief frowned thoughtfully at me. Maybe now they get the picture. Maybe now they know what sort of diabolical genius they’re dealing with. I started to sweat. They were on to me.

“Well,” chief said. “He’s all yours. See what he knows and try to verify it before you move on any ‘tips.’ Also, let a doctor examine him before he leaves. Something is not right.” He walked out the door and out of the story.

In my experience, it’s always better to lie if the truth is so unbelievable, that you sound like a fool for uttering its facts. I could never tell them what I saw in that building. I could never tell them I walked in on dogs playing an underground poker game. An off the books poker game for that matter. As soon as the dogs saw me, they bailed. They scooped up the chips and cards and made a dash. One husky fellow dropped his cigar on the floor and flames took off like a windswept wildfire.

I followed their move and ran from the building coughing, panting, and barking. They turned down an alley when they saw flashing lights, but I was far too weak from my dash from the elevator to the front door.

How did I get myself into this mess? Was it when I insisted on accompanying the police to the station? I suppose. But why? Just so I could be a part of the drama? The mystery? It’s hard to see the true glory of the moment when you’re facing your enemies. But I’m sure people will look back on this day as a day I didn’t stumble. I didn’t stutter.

So here I sit, under the hot light, on the hot seat. Lenny pressed on with his questions. He was relentless in his hounding but my attention was on Bruce. The pudgy fellow wiped jelly off the mirror.

Lenny caught my attention again by snapping his fingers in my face. In clear violation of my personal space.

“I know my rights hound head,” I said. I slammed my fists down and demanded my rights. Honestly, I had no idea what my rights were, but I was in the moment.

“I’m asking you if you have a ride home,” he said, obviously trying to pick a fight. “You insisted on riding with us in the cruiser and I didn’t see a driver’s license when I asked for your ID.”

And he was right. I burned my driver’s license when I turned 18. I went off the grid hoping to avoid sticky situations like the one I find myself in now. I simply threw down my library card and told him that was all he needed to know about who I was.

The chief came back into the room and back into the story.

“The property owner called and says he might have some information about the fire,” the chief said handing a note to Lenny.

Lenny read the note. “Mr. Barker?” he deduced. “Isn’t he the guy who keeps calling about the stray dogs in his neighborhood?”

“That’s him,” the chief said. “Those dogs run Ketchum Boulevard. They have since before my dad was on the force.”

All the sudden, I hear those dogs are a “somebody.”

“That’s a tough gang of mutts,” Lenny said. “Mr. Barker doesn’t expect to press charges does he? We go after one mutt we’re up against the whole pack. We’ll have every hound from here to the upper east side looking for trouble.”

“That’s what you need to find out,” the chief said stopping short of the door to address Lenny. “But I don’t think Mr. Barker is crazy enough to want to go after these strays.”

Lenny turned as the chief left the room and left the story. He looked at the note then looked at me. Crumpling the note he threw it in the trash. “Come on Bruce,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, this case belongs to the Humane Society and we’re not touching it. We’re going home to be with our families tonight.”

I’m glad to say that’s not the first time a group of poker playing dogs delivered me from trouble. But that’s another story entirely.

Dr. Fun
Monday, September 26, 2011

Sure, people hate going to see their doctor. There may be a million excuses not to go and I’ve heard them all, and they’re all valid. But my doctor describes me as a “fringe” character – a short ball or odd circuit, if you will. And until my latest visit, I used to be fond of doctor appointments. Nobody could make me laugh like him. That’s why I chose him as my physician. I looked him up and got a kick out of his name, pointed, and said, “That’s who I want prescribing me.”

On this last visit he started by droning on and on about charts and eating healthy and extreme numbers he wanted to see in a more “normal” range. It was all very technical and I tried not to take any of it seriously. I mostly just looked at the dirty pictures on the wall while waiting for his funnier material.

He cracked a joke about the “negative” effects of using beer to enhance my mood. “What can I say doc?” I said. “It’s all natural and I get good sleep.”

We had some good times me and him. He’d constantly remind me of doctor-patient confidentiality and that I couldn’t use his material, but some stories are just too funny not to share.

This one time, for about a week, he had me convinced I was pregnant. I spent a lot of time considering how it could have happened and what a miracle to science I was. But mostly I spent time reading on what to expect.

After a week of pregnancy planning I showed up for an abortion. He took it so far as to council me in my decision and offer his services as a therapist. I simply told him that after a week, I decided I didn’t want to go through with it. No drink and no smoke for nine months? If I couldn’t kill myself I sure wanted to kill somebody.

But right before he started the procedure he started cracking up and came clean. No baby, I thought. Huh, now who do I kill?

But on this visit things were different. He said something I never heard a doctor say before. He told me, “This is serious.” I told him “serious” is not why I chose him as a doctor. I wanted to hear the funny side of health. He told me he was no fortune teller but he didn’t think I had very long to live. I was poisoning myself with cheeseburgers and beer.

“That’s not poison, Doc,” I told him. “That’s actually what sustains me.”

He remained serious and I was desperate to change the subject. I said to tell me the one about the ban saw and the amputee again, or maybe he could check my butt again. We always got a big laugh from that.

Then he said my death was too bad for him because I was one of his best paying customers, and then we laughed again. In some respects, I was his only paying customer. He sure could tickle my funny bone. He assured me that’s where it was.

And then he said he wasn’t joking. He had more news. It was something he found in all those urine samples he’d been collecting over the years. He misplaced them and they somehow got mixed up in blind taste test. Once all the people removed their blind folds, they read my name and address and they were likely waiting at my house to kill me. And that joke killed too. I laughed to where I could hardly hold still to finish my urine sample. But seriously, he continued. Your pee tastes worse than some soft drinks.

Then he had some real news. And this was no joke. He said he was leaving town for good. Things were getting spooky and the authorities were hot on his trail. He recommended me to another doctor. A “real doctor. “A close colleague of mine,” he said. “He used to examine my head until I dumped that provider and broke out of that cell.”

It was a hard goodbye. I just wanted to pretend we’d see each other again and I didn’t know what to say. So there we sat, me in my gown and him in nothing more than his stethoscope and penny loafers.

He offered to tell me his real name, but I said I didn’t want to know. Let’s just keep things the way they are Dr. Funenstein.