Some of you may know that I have a site that sells t-shirts and other items. Don’t worry, this ain’t a sales pitch so back your ire right the fuck off. It’s a story. A lovely story. If you like disgusting things.
Some of the shirts are good, well written (if I do say so myself), funny, and actually sell. Then there are those I write while saying,
“There’s no way in hell someone’s going to buy this but it’s funny.”
I’m not kidding when I say these are gutter shirts. Homeless people on fire wouldn’t even use some of these shirts to put themselves out. I do it so people keep reading because, as I’ve found through my decades long comedy career, people may bitch about the ugly but it keeps them around.
So you can imagine my surprise (and glee) when one of these questionable shirts sells. And they do. And they always surprise me.
“Who would wear that shirt in public?”
The latest one (and it’s not the first time) is one that says, “I Have A Small Penis.”
That’s not even the grossest one but I’ll let that sink in.
The first time I sold one I assumed it was a woman buying a joke for her boyfriend. Nah ah. Every time it’s sold it’s been a guy.
Ah, my audience. Ya gotta fear them.
Last week we’re at a party. Actually it was a game night so you can assume how thrilled I was. I dislike things like this for many reasons. None of them that they cut down on my beer consumption. I find just the opposite, thank you very much. There’s always someone trying too hard to be risque. Then someone trying hard to be too offended. Then someone who just doesn’t give a shit (oh wait, that’s always me). Then someone who doesn’t get the risque references. Unless the game has at least the suggestion of injury and doesn’t involve sitting I’m not interested.
But I have to go. Because, I’m told, that’s what adults do.
In this building I know four people. I’ve met four others briefly. I don’t know any others. The owner of the house (someone I know) has two little dogs. So that gives one of the guests the idea that it’s okay to bring along their gigantic dog. I walk in the house and the dog immediately jumps on me. Standing in my face he is two inches shorter than me. Ah, the festivities begin already.
The gigantic dog has one of the little dogs scared shitless. She’s sitting on a chair shaking. So I go over to pet her. Okay, I really did it to avoid human small talk. There. Ya happy? I told the truth. But I also did it to make the dog feel safe in their own damn home. The big dog would come over and I’d push him away. I was like a superhero to the little dog.
“Would you get in here?” I hear my beloved bellow for me. “How come you have to be so weird? Everyone’s waiting for you.”
No they’re fucking not. I can hear them. One guy is telling a hilarious story I’ve already heard three times since I’ve been here about some legendary game night when someone tripped over a double entendre and cracked his coccyx. But the first rule of game night is if you don’t start game night game night never ends.
I go in and, after another ten minutes of reliving the glory days, we begin. The person who brought the big dog is sitting next to me which means the big dog is in my crotch. Good thing I didn’t shower. Gotta give the boy something to live for.
The night goes as things like this go. Someone takes it too seriously, someone is disgusted, someone gets up to get a beer. Can you guess which of those was me?
During the game one person has decided to be the raconteur. While waiting for the next session of the game to begin he regales us with stories. Some of them are funny, some are mildly entertaining, some are only of interest to him but one had to do with me. And he didn’t even know it.
He’s telling the story about having to go to an hideous clothes party with his boyfriend. Oh boy! Game night this week! Hideous clothes last week! Does this guy know how to party or what? I wonder what he does on his birthday? Ceramic duck painting?
He tells this story about how much fun they had at a Salvation Army going through all the racks looking for hideous clothing. And wouldn’t you know it! They ran into another couple going to the same party! And wouldn’t you know it! They’re also here tonight! What are the odds that all of their calendars would be open to enjoy both these events? Hundred? Hundred and ten percent?
He goes on to say that his boyfriend found a perfect t-shirt to wear to the party. After drawing out the story to almost transparent levels he finally gets around to tell us what the shirt said. After which I said,
“I wrote that.”
Even the people I knew probably didn’t know I write. And surely not things like that. People are looking at me in awe. The story telling guy is laughing. A couple I met briefly once is staring at me. My beloved is trying to explain that I write comedy and that shirt definitely is comedic. At this moment I am the center of this parties attention. And not all of it is glowing. I’m like the guy at the party who pulled down his pants and sat in the pudding because he wanted to make a good impression.
It’s like I’ve been outed as a comedy subversive in a roomful of people who like Two Broke Girls. I am now infamous in this room. I’m a comedy car accident they can’t help but rubber neck. But there are so many levels to this story. Level one is I was trying to go out there to find a shirt that was funny in a groaning way. Level two is someone purchased that shirt. Which, to me, shows less couth than my writing it. Level three is the wife, presumably, who put that shirt directly from the envelope to the clothes donation pile. Then there’s level four. The guy who made the final mistake. He who decided, in a room full of Hawaiian shirts; multi-colored golf shirts; shirts of such hideous hue hilarity would have ensued, to pick a plain white t-shirt with six little words on it that I just happened to write. The words from the man’s mouth still ring in my ears.
“Ask Me About My Explosive Diarrhea.”
On the good side, I’ll never be asked to another game night.
So, in the end, it is probably the most useful shirt I’ve ever written.
I know there are many troubled areas in the world today. Famine, pestilence, spotty internet connection. But the one place on earth where there is more anxiety, more tension and more potential for stroke is the mother’s day greeting card aisle on mother’s day.
Trust me, if you’re taking any of those medicines you see advertised on TV that may have a side effect that could include swollen ears, genital warts or death avoid the greeting card aisle on mother’s day. They should just put an crash cart on both ends of the aisle because I’ve been there, someone’s going down.
Lest you believe this is some kind of personal thing with me, let me straighten you little pricks out right now. I’m there solely as an observer. My Mother died before some of you were born. You could say I’m the spawn of a puddle of jizz and a book of dirty limericks (tomorrow, by the way, is National Limerick Day). So I get to be detached as these brave men and women slowly lose their shit.
I watch them paw at the mishmash of cards that are left. They’ve waited until the last minute because of the dread. Standing at the rack, truck stop posies in one hand, flop sweat on their lips, they scan the rack for a card that has the right tint of sentimentality but not enough to make her think you’ve gone soft. Some of the cards, after being dissected for the last two weeks, are actually sweat stained.
The collective wheezing you find in this aisle fills the air with the harmony of an air compressor. The rhythmic beating of their hearts at levels usually only seen during The Boston Marathon causes light headedness. I’ve been known to toss in packs of sugar in my feeble attempt to keep these people alive.
The worst part about this ordeal is it’s been building in them for an untold amount of time. Some of them are frantic because they ‘just remembered’ it’s mother’s day after working hard to avoid the topic all week. Others have been playing this scene over and over in their head since last mother’s day. Some have spent the week calmly, rationally having internal dialogues trying to convince themselves this year won’t be like the last dozen.
But those people are delusional. They’re still going to stand in front of a rack that looks as if it’s perched in tornado alley grasping at words written by a person who is paid by the word to come up with this deck they not only don’t believe it’s something they’d never say to their own mother’s. I know. I’ve been paid to write mother’s day cards. How scary is that? I could have been the only person standing between you and your mother’s disdainful glare.
But they come. Year after gut wrenching year to find the words that are so right, yet so vague, to have her keep you in the will but not make her think you want to take a trip to Vegas with. The worst part is, after all the time spent in there, and I’ve stood there observing for more than a half an hour while my girlfriend struggles, they’re never satisfied with their choice. They end up standing at the cash register like it’s the green mile. Marchers in Bataan had better outlooks.
They stand there mulling the choice they’ve made. They read it and check the flower on the front for missing sparkles (because you know she’ll notice a bald patch of sparkles) and push themselves closer to the brink. I get to read some of these cards while standing free and easy in line. My favorite card has to be the one that began with the lovely sentiment, “I know we haven’t always gotten along. . .”
Where the fuck is that going?
“. . .but thanks for not aborting me.”
“. . .so let’s keep that going, shall we?”
“. . .but lately the homicidal urges have passed.”
But I do witness something while standing there amidst the sweaty, sullen, shaky messes. To a person, no matter what is actually said in the cards, they actually put the time and effort into getting a mother’s day card that represents the best of what their jumbled, tumbled and rumbled minds can conjure.
For whatever reason they just can’t walk in, pick a card say ‘good enough.’ and leave. There are decades of expectations, recriminations, but also good times and lasting fond memories that makes them spend this day pushing themselves closer to the grave.
Just so they maybe possibly don’t let their mother’s down.
To the card buyers I’ll say, chill. If you have to work yourself into a cardiac episode it’s not worth it. You’re never gonna get the response you’re looking for. So convince yourself you’ve found it and move on. Pick out the first card you think works and move on. The truth is she most likely has ever mother’s day card you’ve ever given her. That’s not a bad track record.
To the card receivers I’ll say, chill. Sure the kid’s a fuck up and a major disappointment but that’s just your perception. Possibly forged by situations out of your kids control. The card might not be perfect but, trust me, a ton of blood, sweat and years off their life have gone into pick those shitty, dumb ass cards. Because, after all, all they’re trying to say is Happy Mother’s Day.
. . .men’s room pissing the way you’re supposed to when a guy walked in and gasped. I turned to him and said,
“I know, it’s a thing thing of beauty, ain’t it?”
He studder steps to a halt then starts laughing. After a beat his face gets all concened as he rushed to the toilet.
“If you make me pee my pants I’ll kill you.”
We’re heading down the Cape for more fun and frivolity. Hahahaha. I’m such a funny guy. I really crack myself up sometimes. Let’s start this over, shall we?
We’re heading down the Cape for the first of the seemingly endless yard work that pops up down there that is of such jaw clinching importance to my girlfriend’s mother that if we don’t go down there not only will all hell break loose but she might plotz. Even though I’m sure she’d never use that word. But that’s the kind of dire consequences that will befall if we don’t get down there THIS WEEK to take care of it.
So we’re driving down. It takes a couple of hours and, just in case you’ve never experienced it, let me tell you, being in a car for two hours with a girlfriend who is pissed at being forced to do something she doesn’t want to do isn’t as enjoyable as it sounds. Have you ever been trapped in a car by a wild dog barking and clawing at you? Put that dog inside. Welcome to my world.
Trying to keep things as civil as possible I pretend to be incredibly interested in the scenery. Even though it’s the same damn scenery I’ve seen for all the years we’ve been forced, I mean, gleefully traveled the highways and byways to the Cape. Don’t get me wrong, we manage to have fun but it’s the tempest in a thimble that’s conjured the cause of dread.
Please don’t think I shirk any duties. I’ve carried more barrels of leaves into the woods than the internet has trolls. Mowed miles of lawns. Pulled dead animals out of clogged gutters (it sure would have been nice to know they were there before I grabbed) and countless other things too disgusting for someone of my delicate sensibilities to go into publicly (suffice it to say, the smell of a rotting animal whose guts you’ve unknowingly jammed your hand into stays on your hands long after the deed is done).
We’re getting closer to the doom. Which I exaggerate. Yes, the work has to get done. Yes, we will do it. No, it has never been to the level where even the most anal condo association would toss down a fine. But, once marching orders are in place those feet are going to move.
I’m watching the traffic. I like that. One day I was watching traffic when this woman started staring at me. She couldn’t see what I was looking at because of my dark glasses but I could see what was going to happen if she didn’t stop staring at me. And damned if it didn’t. The traffic was heavy and slow so the impact wasn’t too bad but it sure was funny to see her come to a full stop like that.
But today the traffic was flowing pretty quickly. Cars are passing us and we’re going 70. We’re a car length away from the car ahead of us and all is flowing in the world of traffic. A little ahead of us in the slow lane was a tow truck. It had a beat up piece of shit on the bed and it was towing another beat up piece of shit. Off to the crusher, I think, wondering about all the trips to family BBQ’s, and the beaches and prisons to pick up wayward cousins those cars have seen.
Suddenly, and please remember, I am not a mechanic nor have I ever played one on TV, the left rear tire (to show you how not a mechanic I am I actually typed right at first) started shaking. ‘Hmm,’ I think in my not mechanic head, ‘That’s highly unusual.’ Moments after saying that the hubcap shook free of the vehicle and started bouncing, flying across traffic. I think I saw bolts bouncing but it could have also been any other part of the car that was now exposed because the right rear tire was now as free as a wobbly bird going 70 miles per hour.
I can hear cars behind us jam on breaks to slow down. That may have worked for them but we were in closer proximity. The tire is keeping up with traffic which is now cars behind us slowing down, cars ahead of us speeding up and us, we and the car directly in front of us, pretty much in the path of this bouncing, rolling, unsteady mass of rubber. It was like watching the movie Rubber right in front of us (sans the explosions I’m hoping).
The tire bounces, hits the ground but has enough momentum that only two things can happen.
1) it hits the side of the car in front of us because the tire seems to be honing in on it or 2) it misses the car in front of us sending it into the guardrail where it could possibly bounce back to our truck. There’s a third option but at this moment I’m damn sure it’s going to hit something.
And I was right. It bounced and hit the passenger door of the car in front of us. It sort of climbed up the car and seemed to pick up more speed, if that’s possible. I could hear the woman driving that car, which is trying to be carjacked by a tire, even though hers and our windows are closed. She must be a loud screamer.
We’ve slowed down as the car in front of us sped up as the tire bounced along barely losing speed. They pull to the middle and frantically try to get away from this demon tire. I lose sight of them because, at this moment, the tire is in front of us. I know you may not think so but that’s a good thing. I’m gonna keep my eye on this bastard. Which is still going our speed which is 60.
But it’s slowing down and, lucky for us, it’s continuing it’s path left toward the side of the road. But because there’s a guard rail there it’s still not safe to pass. Once it’s kinetic energy begins to be eaten up it slows down so we high tail it out of there.
I checked behind us as we drove away and the car that was attacked was still navigating away from it’s attacker and the tow truck, sparks flying off the spot where that tire we’ve been talking about was, is shaking to it’s stop.
Then I spent the rest of the afternoon placing lawn gnomes around the yard.
After we completed that most urgent of tasks we were quickly informed that next week I get to make some new corpse buddies because there’s an emergency in gutter alley!