I Had Reservations

There are more frightening words in the universe but I know of few that will strike your average man’s soul to dust quicker than ‘reservation’ and ‘wine glass.’ I know you could argue the point but you would, of course, be wrong. It’s not that you, the average man or the average man owner, don’t love both fine dining reservations and the occasional wine in a proper wine glass, it’s just that I’m the one writing this so that, of course, makes your opinion in this matter wrong.

There is only one more word that makes those above phrases more chilling. And that is the word ‘paint’ as in, “I’ve made ‘reservations’ for all of us to go to a fun evening where we’ll each ‘paint’ a lovely little ‘wine glass.'”

You may recall last year my girlfriends daughter, trying to make gift giving during Christmas time more fun, decided to get four tickets to an improv comedy show. If you don’t remember you can click here but, if you’re wise, you’ll just listen to me tell you that I have been in an enclosed room of tile and glass when a starters pistol went off and didn’t have as bad a headache as when witnessing the art that is improv comedy that night.

Now I know most of you reading this do not know me. You may read the occasional screed but you don’t know my personage. Let me clue you in on something, I’m not a wine glass painting kind of guy. There, I’ve said it. My hands have been broken and battered so often I have trouble holding a pen when I’m trying to jot down my terribly cleaver jokes. Clever, I mean terribly clever jokes (don’t worry, I didn’t go through the trouble of jotting that one down). So I’m thinking holding a dainty paint brush while downing copious bottles of beer isn’t going to manifest itself into a fine work of art.

By the time I’m done it may not even be a usable wine glass.

I don’t know if you are aware of this blatant cry for help from bars and restaurants to bring in customers called ‘Paint Night’ but it is abhorrent (think quieter karaoke). It is an evening when groups of people fill a room and, throwing all past knowledge away, think they can make an artistic statement on canvas (or, in our case, glass). I had the misfortune of stumbling into a restaurant that had one of these evenings going on some time back. All I’ll publicly say is about paint night is that it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever fucking heard of.

A roomful of tippling women following the direction of a ‘C’ level artist (who also happens to be a ‘D’ level comedian) trying to lead them into the formation of what may have been intended to be trees but only lead to some fairly frightening Rorschach tests. And yes, I did say women because, a quick survey of the room by yours truly noted one guy among the flock.

So the three of us (myself, girlfriend, and her mother) less than cheerfully (I’m only speaking for myself here. I didn’t make eye contact with the others for fear of them knowing I was at the point of bolting at any second) made the trek to meet the daughter at the location. I’ve gone to funerals with more pep in my step.

People, excuse me, women were gleefully chattering, holding aloft fun and colorful drink concoctions and gathering their glass canvas for an evening of convivial frivolity and all around good cheer. And you know nothing angers me more than convivial frivolity and all around good cheer.

We’re told by the equally cheerful leader (I’m getting a headache) to take our seats. Unfortunately, although I asked politely, my seat was not allowed to be in the car. I had to put on my happy face, damn it, and gut out the horror like a man. At least that’s what I was told on many occasions by my lovely girlfriend when my facial expression (and, honestly, guttural mutterings) didn’t quiet fit the ambiance in the room.

Because the waitstaff was slow I had time between beers to look around. I watched this one woman take it upon herself to help her friend (I knew that because I heard her say, “No, not like that. Here, let me help you.”). Once the paint speckled wine glass was ferried from her control, instead of a happy, I’m getting helped expression, she took on an expression of one who is being over taken.

It must happen to women in this group often because, before she could grab her glass back and crack it over the pushy woman’s head (just the way I would have liked to have seen it work out), the woman to her right whispered something in her ear that caused her to lean back, cross arms, and wait to get on with further convivial frivolity and all around good cheer.

I watched women intently painting their glass. I mean, concentrating as hard as a layman giving a tracheotomy to a stranger on a street corner with only the top of a cat food can and bic pen as tools. I’ve watched people create all kinds of things (I’m actually creating this right now) but the level of intensity here belies the camaraderie of earlier.

It has become a time when you find out that Cindy couldn’t paint a flower if you left her with only the stem. And although Sara starts out pretty good after her third or fourth alien green drink her art falls apart. Then you watch the one woman, the one who convinced everyone this would be fun, apply paint as if she was born with a wine glass in her hand. Her glass is tasteful, elegant and, this is most important to her, is receiving praise and little snippets of jealousy from her friends due to her creation. Just as she wanted it. Her evening is perfect.

Face the facts, no one is ever going to drink out of their stupid wine glass (fewer, I’d have to assume, would want their hideous painting hanging in their home). Most are only doing this because the group is doing it but, not so deep down, they know whatever they create is going to be utter shit and everyone is going to know it. Which is why paint night in a bar is the equivalent of a pissing contest between guys.

“Your glass looks like something Dexter would have dumped in the ocean.”

“The best that can be said about your glass is it should shatter before the outside world is exposed to it.”

As the evening moved mercifully on more and more glasses did mysteriously tip over and crack or make it all the way to the floor erasing all evidence. And the women this ‘accident’ happened to seemed lighter. Some of their earlier convivial frivolity and all around good cheer came back because they knew, although they wasted an evening doing the stupidest thing you could do in a bar, they now get to go home.

Glass less.

An Open Letter

Hi,
I hope this letter finds you and yours healthy, happy and hirsute. We’re doing fine here on the ranch. It looks as if this years knish crop will be among our finest ever. That was some winter, wasn’t it? We still have snow in the backyard.

But that’s mainly because that bastard neighbor of ours, Periwinkle Strothers, hates when snow gets on his Astroturf so he snow blows and shovels it all into our yard. This year, combined with the snowfall we naturally got, we had over eighty-seven cubits of snow piled up. I swear old Per gathers up snow from his neighbors to put in our yard just to keep me from my spring hobby, naked snake juggling (I’m naked. The snakes wear tube socks. Just so we understand each other that it’s not weird).

But you don’t want to hear my travails. This is about a serious issue I’ve noticed over the last few years. And it’s not with many of my hard working friends (although some of those lazy working friends have succumbed). It’s with those who aren’t working anymore. It could be due to getting their dumb asses fired or it could be they were just fed up working for the man so up and quit; they could be faking an injury, oh, I’m not implying anything. I’m sure if you got hurt you really got hurt! They could have taken their retirement; they could be a member of the leisure class. But the type of that ilk who falls in to this have too much leisure and not enough class.

What I’m getting at is y’all got a bunch of time on your hands if you fall into one of those non-working categories. And you know that old saying, idle hands make you do things you’ll be embarrassed about later (especially if the cat is watching). But the thing I’ve been noticing as of late is that plenty of these folks are getting themselves into a black hole. A black hole I’ve come to find out is called internet conspiracy theories.

Oh, I know, they’ve been out there for years. Way long before that internet thing. I remember Batboy! But it’s reached a critical mass where people who, just six months ago I was having pleasant conversations about the theory of relatives, get all up in my grill telling me all about how the pyramids were actually alien space crafts that ran out of spewtonium 47 so had to stay there. They know this because an archaeologist by the name of Percival VanRouge dug deep enough under the pyramids to see the long dormant thrusters.

I know this opens up a whole new line of questioning. Things like, why are they telling me this? Did I ever exhibit a desire to learn about the pyramids? Or aliens for that matter? And what’s up with all the people with their first name starting with P in this letter? That’s weirder then the pyramid thing.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they just told their little pyramid story and ran. Oh no, they spiral right down into that glory hole, no wait, that’s not right. It’s some kind of hole. If I think of what it is I’ll come back and change it. But they don’t stop there. After the pyramids it’s the Mayans then the fact that Stonehenge is actually worn down family sculptures of the original land owners (who actually started the Illuminati) on and on and on. I’ve got to tell you, by the time they finally get to the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 I’m plumb tuckered out.

Just this week I’ve had two ‘non-workers’ each monologue at me for over an hour. By the end of their enlightenment to me I was more confused then the time someone let me merge into rush hour traffic without threat of an accident but they were just getting started. They could have blathered all night. But, thankfully, my narcolepsy kicked in so I was spared.

Now, friend, people talking about anything is always a time where you have the chance of learning something. But when you tell me the beloved Fred Rogers, he of his own neighborhood, was a sniper and was in Dallas the day some of JFK got out of the car, well friend, you start to lose me.

And, boy, do they think you’re stupid then! Holy granola enemas! When they first started talking to me about the secret room the phone company has to listen to everything we say they did it knowing I’d not only get it but I’d probably have some insight to add. But when I dared question the veracity of a secret room (that comes up #1 when you search for it in Google – I was told to do that and, because they were standing over me, I did. You’d think a real secret room would be further down in the search. But, what do I know?) all of a sudden I’m at the intelligence level of a moldy zucchini.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re not working for any reason, do yourself and everyone you’ll run into a favor. Get out of the house! Turn off the fucking computer! Go to a meeting (well, depending on the meeting that may not be a good idea)! Volunteer at a homeless rodeo! Take up table tennis!

All I’m saying is, it’s not healthy to spend the time equivalent of your old work day scouring the internet trying to ferret out if Aaron Burr was really a cross-dresser. I can see where it’s so easy to do. You have time on your hands, the equivalent of the an unlimited database at your fingertips. I can see how it’s so easy to slip down a rabbit hole (that’s the word! Don’t forget to change it from the earlier hole reference). That’s why you should take a second and push yourself away from the computer. I know the internet is a fascinating place. But, as with most fascinating places, danger lurks. I’m not saying don’t expand your mind to the possibilities of what’s under the surface of the world. I’m just saying, don’t make it your world. Maybe you could get a hobby to fill some time. May I suggest naked snake juggling?

Sincerely,
Chris

It’s going to snow today.

Someone just came up to me and said,

“I can’t believe it’s going to snow today.” They paused and grimaced for dramatic effect. “I wonder when the latest in the year it’s ever snowed?”

I take them in for a second before answering,

“December 31st.”

Although I was positively correct their reaction told me it was not the answer they were looking for.

Hide And Seek

“Where have you been?” I’m asked by someone who doesn’t actually care where I’ve been. Even at my young age I know it actually means, “I’ve been here for minutes for someone to arrive to take care of this kid.” And with that the mother of my niece is gone.

Don’t get me wrong, my niece is an awesome kid but I have my own shit to do and watching her until I can ‘Where have you been?’ someone else wasn’t in my plans. But, timing being what it is, I’m stuck.

I give her a snack (maybe she’ll get full and fall asleep), I show her a magic trick (I had to learn magic to teach her something that would cause her to go off to ‘learn’ it so I could leave), I sit her in front of the TV (but, unlike most people, she has to have someone with her while she watches TV). So I accept my fate and sit there knowing I have two hours before I have to hit the road and still have to do a paper for school.

I attempt to write the paper on the couch but my niece decides she needs to discuss whatever dumb ass cartoon we’re watching as if it’s a discussion group on the fine art of anvil dropping. The cartoon ends and a non-animated program comes on which causes her disdain. This was a time long before 24 hour a day cartoon networks and she has no desire to watch whatever is on our thirty cable channels. Which amazed me. With thirty channels you surely must be able to find something. Who could ever need any more than thirty channels to find something to watch?

The world sure has changed. And also stayed the same because, just last night, I couldn’t find one fucking thing to watch on my five hundred and sixty three channels.

“Let’s play hide and seek.” She demands. I know it doesn’t sound like a demand but when a five year old tells a fifteen year old to play hide and seek the fifteen year old, if they are smart, they don’t argue. If they do soon the red-faced, breath holding beast will rear it’s ugly head and, after the storm, you’ll be playing hide and seek.

In the back of my mind I still know I have to get this paper in. I have no idea when someone will enter the house so I will be able to pawn, I mean, politely ask if they would do me a solid and watch the kid while I tend to my oh so important schoolwork.

“You hide first.”

Shit. It’s game time. I have two lines of reason at this moment. I can 1) grab my schoolwork and hide where she’d never find me (outside the house is a good option but, honestly, anywhere is fine. She really sucks at this game) or 2) just play the damn game because I know that, after five minutes, if she doesn’t find me she’ll just throw a fit and I’ll have to come out of hiding to soothe her shitty game skills mind.

I hide making sure to leave an arm or leg or head or entire body visible behind my hiding place because, as stated earlier, she sucks at this game. So, amazingly, she finds me and is so thrilled at her amazing skill level. Now it’s her time to hide. And here is when the game gets tricky. As stated thirty words earlier, she sucks at this game and that fact extends to her hiding. The problem is, just like her seeking skill, she is of the delusion that she is a skilled marksman. A bounty hunter of renown skill.

So, because I’ve sat in a living room chair and said, “There you are behind the lamp.” soon after I finished counting to 100 (leaving out all the numbers between 30 and 80 because 1) she’s not a great mathematician and 2) she’s already hiding) I know I have to wander around the entire house to ‘find’ her. After five minutes of wandering around the house saying,

“Where is she? She’s the greatest hider of the modern age?” Because I know I have to even though she’s hiding behind a kitchen chair and is clearly visible through the slats but she thinks she can’t be seen because her eyes are closed. I stumble upon her (“I never would have found you if you didn’t blink!)”and we do all this shit all over (“Yea!” I cheer dejectedly).

When it’s her time she hides in a closet. How do I know when I’m just on fifteen in my count? Because she makes the equivalent amount of noise of a chainsaw being thrown into a closet. During my count I have an idea. While still counting I go to my room and get my tape recorder.

“100.” I say at number twenty-seven.

I walk around the house talking and recording. After about five or six minutes of this I walk into the room where she is. I keep talking walking around the room. I even open the closet door but still can’t find her. How can I not find her? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she is great even though she’s giggling so much the pile of shoes she’s under is quaking. She thinks I’m an idiot at this game. That is not conjecture. I know because she tells me after we’re done.

I close the closet door, rewind the tape and push play. By this time I’ve probably recorded ten minutes of walking around talk so that buys me some time to gather my papers to sit in the hiding room to get my homework done. Every ten minutes or so I’d have to stop and do some live chatter while the tape rewound but, about an hour later, I was done with my homework, someone else had come into the house and I was declared the worst hide and seek player of all time.

Opinions vary, little one, opinions vary.

Image

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Out at a restaurant. . .

. . .a late 20 year old at our table all of a sudden got an attitude. I didn’t care but someone else asked her what the problem was. The problem was she’d eaten half her meal but had forgotten to take a picture of it. So I decided to help,

“Don’t be sad, you can take a picture of it tomorrow.”

The Talker

We get into a restaurant and sit at the bar as always. The reason we sit at the bar is not, as some of you assume, quicker access to liquor, but because of my girlfriends never-ending love for Abe Lincoln. Because of that love she hates all things booth.

And as far as tables goes, come on! She’s Italian! Too many viewings of The Godfather have kept her away from tables. I can’t even go to the restroom without a pat down when I get back.

I’m settling down and notice pretty quickly that the guy to my left is bending the ear of the woman to his left. Internally I put up an invisible wall to have a distinct (in my mind) separation between me and them. There is a little give and take in the conversation. With that I mean he talks 99.9% of the time and she says, ‘Uh ha.’ 00.1% of the time. But, for whatever reason, because I can hear what he’s saying (the wall is good but it’s not soundproof), she seems entertained. But I can tell her husband, who is standing there mute, is giving the ‘wrap it up’ signal with his eyes. But the guy keeps talking because it’s what he does.

Finally the conversation seems to come to it’s natural conclusion. Good for them bad for me. I know this guy will not survive without chatting. And, unless someone magically appears in the recently vacated seat, he’s going to be targeting me. I’m looking straight ahead at the TV, my girlfriend is looking at the menu. I’ve already decided what I want but, even though it’s a restaurant we’ve been to many times before, she has to go over it like it’s an ancient riddle in some shitty Tom Hanks movie.

In my periphery I can see him looking dead straight at me. I do not flinch, I do not move, I do not make eye contact. This is usually good enough to discourage people from trying to draw my attention. People who crave attention badly don’t really want to work hard to get it. I’m betting on that amount of self-absorbed laziness to get me through again.

But it doesn’t.

This guy totally ignores my wall (that he cannot see) and starts earhole raping me with a jokebook joke. I am assaulted two ways. The first is, some stranger is overloading my earhole. The second being, really? A street joke? A battered, tattered, remnant from the annals of joke history? I know he doesn’t know I write jokes for money and have heard every jokebook joke ever but I still cannot excuse that. He’s still earhole raping me.

He finishes the, to me, torture and I respond with,
That’s right, nothing. Not a “Huh.” Not a “Nice joke, ass ears.” Not a “You’re lucky I don’t pull that punk ass joke out of my earhole and stuff it up your ass.”

I sit there staring ahead. I can see him staring at me through the mirror. He’s stunned. I guess at first because someone didn’t go nuts over his joke. But then the realization that I didn’t even do the basic human thing of acknowledging him must have tampered with his head. He staring, I’m ignoring and one of us is starting to lose it.

I have a beer in front of me so you know it’s not me.

Finally, after staring at my profile for a lengthy amount of time, he mumbles something, turns and looks down the bar. The person nearest to him is two seats away and engaged in another conversation. That one will be a tough one to win over. He looks at me a few more times and I can see that he wants to try again. But he’s already used his ‘A’ material so, even though he’s going through his jokebook index file, he’s slowly figuring I might be a tough nut to crack. What he doesn’t know is if he attempts to speak directly to me again I will politely look at him, let him complete his lame ass joke, chuckle, like a normal human and say,

“If I wanted to hear anything from you I’d kick you in the balls. So fuck off.”

Although some of you may call it antisocial, I consider it self-preservation. Because I know what’s going to happen because it did minutes later. A guy sat next to him, a beat went past, and the guy whipped out the exact same dumb ass, lame, slightly updated eighty year joke. I do give him credit for doing it in the exactly same cadence but he loses that point because it shows me how many hundreds of times he’s told that same dumb ass, lame, slightly updated eighty year joke.

This time the guy took the bait. I could see the moment the hook bit into his cheek. So for the next hour I watched at the guy reeled his quarry in. It was a bloodbath. The guy relentlessly trolled him with joke and story and escapade as I watched the prey jump and twist and spin trying to extricate himself from this life-draining source. But, after a valiant battle, I watched as the blood drained from his face, his eyes grew glassy and dark for he knew his days were numbered. I watched as his spasmodic body was pulled into the boat and the last gasp of life exited his being.

And I laughed.

Better him than me, sucker.