Thursday, October 18, 2007

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

A new study has been released out of that bastion of bastard-calling, England. Turns out that swearing at work can be a good thing. Apparently, it can boost morale and create solidarity among the workforce.

Well, I knew I had to do something with this information.

We’ve been going through a complete corporate reorganization here at work. It’s affecting more than a thousand people. Needless to say, tensions are running pretty high. Some people have been put out of jobs. Others have been put in jobs that are pretty miserable. Everyone’s been testy and on edge. So, as usual, it was Donkey the working peon to the rescue.

I sent out a memo to the entire marketing communications department here at work along with a copy of the article.

“Dear Marketing Communications Department,

I know many of you are having a rough time with the current reorganization. You’re frustrated, flustered, confused, and feeling a little bit helpless. I am too. I wanted you all to know that I’m there for you.

To demonstrate this, I’m designating the time of 2:00–2:30 for you to come into my office and swear at me. That’s right. You heard me. Swear. At. Me. Research has shown that it can be healthy for the workplace.

Hope to see you then,


The line started at 1:50. Before 2:00, it was ten people deep. I work with almost all women, many of which are nearly old enough to be my mother. The hallway was wall-to-wall skirts. 2:00 rolled around and in they rolled, one-by-one, cursing. Cursing like a sailor. Cursing like a Tourette’s Syndrome patient off her meds. Cursing like part of a George Carlin special. Cursing like a rap star. Cursing, cursing, cursing, for a solid 30 minutes. Building a wall of obscenities that blocked out the sun.

I knew women could curse, but I didn’t know they could curse like this. I heard things so vile that I never heard working five years as a bouncer in a bar. The blue streak that came out of their mouths ripped open a hole in the ozone layer as it shot out into space. I’m sure there’s some meteor in its path that will be obliterated by their combination of f-bombs.

When 2:30 came, they left sweating and shaking with their newfound vocal power. As the last one left my office, I reached down and clicked off the recorder. I packaged it with my memo to H.R. on how working with so many women has led to the creation of a hostile workplace. I was contemplating filing suit. This tape, I told them, was just a sampling of what I had to put up with every day.

So now, the only question is, “How much are they willing to settle for?”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Don't Supersize This

You know what’s not a good combination? Warm Diet Pepsi Maxx and leftover chicken teriyaki. I can’t stop burping it up here at work and every time I hold one in, it burns my septum. Do you think I can file a workman’s comp claim for this?

Good God, here comes another one.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More Things I Wonder About

How much time needs to elapse during a power outage before looting becomes acceptable?

We lost power for 17 seconds here at work the other day and I was able to procure 2 Blackberries, an iPod, and 17 reams of paper. I would have nabbed the color copier, but my boss beat me to it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Setting the Table for Disaster

A while back, I was in an interview for much better position than the one I currently hold. Towards the end, the interviewer paused and said, “I know this is a cliché, but what can you bring to the table that none of the other candidates can?”

I thought long and hard on this one. It forced me to do an honest appraisal of myself and my skill set. What did I do better than any other person?

For a moment, the only thing that came to me was that I have a sixth sense about movies. You see, I can walk into any movie I’ve never seen before and tell you within three minutes the four following things: 1.) Whether or not the movie will have nudity, 2.) Approximately how long you’ll have to wait to see any nudity (usually accurate to within 5 minutes), 3.) What type of nudity you’ll see, and 4.) Whether that nudity is male or female.

You may doubt my skill. After all, it does sound rather incredulous, but my accuracy is uncanny. It’s a gift that I’ve never taken lightly. Throughout our teenage years, my younger brothers and I watched all manner of cable movies on HBO and Showtime (no Cinemax, that would be too easy) and they were routinely floored by my estimates. There has only been one movie that thwarted my ability, In the Bedroom. Seeing Marisa Tomei frolicking around early with some young jasper led me to believe there would be some skin. There was not. And you know what? The movie was so damn good, I didn’t give a whit.

But, the real question was, how could I work this skill into the interview? I pride myself on taking a different tack on everyday problems, but something told me this guy would not be impressed with this particular skill.

So, I wussed out and told him that I like to burn stuff and I’d probably bring an awesome smoke detector to the table so that no one else got hurt.

He pulled out his Zippo and said, “Me too, Donkey. Me too.”

Since it’s been a couple weeks and I haven’t heard anything, maybe I should have gone with the nudity answer. Well, I’ll just file that away for next time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Silence, Please

Today, a new law goes into effect in Illinois. In a nutshell, students have to do what teacher’s have been begging them to do for decades, shut the fuck up. OK, maybe not in those exact words, but something pretty close. All schools in Illinois are required to start the day with a moment of silence. Students can use this time to pray, meditate, mentally undress their classmates, imagine midgets playing Parcheesi, or rebuild the alternator in a 1979 Chevy Malibu Classic. Their choice.

There’s a lot of problems with the law, the biggest of which is that there is no set punishment in place for students who don’t comply with the law. But the main problem I have is that no one has stopped to ask the basic question, “How long should a ‘moment of silence’ last?” 30 seconds? A minute? Theoretically, it could last all the way through the school year.

I’ve always wondered about the “moment of silence.” You’ll be at a sporting event and the announcer will ask for a moment of silence for whatever the cause du jour is. For the most part, people comply, but eventually the cheering starts up. Slowly at first, then building to a roaring crescendo before the announcer says, “Thank you,” and everyone goes back to ogling cheerleaders.

I want to know what goes through the guy’s head who starts the first cheer. Does he feel like a martyr? Does he say to himself, “Screw it, I’ll be the asshole and get this party started right.” Or, does he tell himself from the get-go that this is total b.s. and he’s not going to shut up for anyone? I want to know!

If I were a team owner, I’d keep a guy on payroll specifically for breaking the moment of silence. I’d give him all the beer he can drink plus a foam finger of his choosing. Then, I’d tell him to do everything in his power to disrupt the moment of silence. Why? Because if you give people too much time to think, they’re going to wonder why they just forked out over a hundred bucks for tickets and parking and then they’re asked NOT to cheer for the team or make any noise at all. I’m sure people really like paying money so you can tell them what not to say.

And, if I were a teacher, I’d do the same thing. I’d find the weirdest kid in the class and say to him, “Johnny, when the moment of silence starts, I want you to sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ in your head. When you’re done, just start clapping and hollering and I’ll give you some fruit snacks before lunch.” Because, if I were a teacher, I wouldn’t want that moment of silence cutting into my workday. I’d want to get out of there ASAP before the sickening smell of young learners starts to get fetid.

Yeah, this law is pretty stupid.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I’m Pretty Sure I’m Going to Hell

Why? No particular reason. It’s not like I did one big thing that will send me there. It’s mostly just the usual stuff. You know, making fun of hillbillies. Sneezing on my boss’s doorknob after he’s left for the day. Thinking about Star Wars while I’m in church. Throwing dog crap under our neighbor’s deck. Proactively seeking to destroy the world economy and implementing my own special bartering system with an inordinate amount of value designated to people who can belch really, really loud.

Like I said, the usual stuff. Man, I hope they have burritos down there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Tangled Web, Or Weave?

Here’s an article that made me dumber just by reading it. Then I realized that someone actually funded this kind of research. Imagine that, you can get funding for determining what kind of hair gets tangled more often, but I can’t find anyone to fund my burrito-powered helicopter research. This sucks.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Back in the Day

Good or bad, there are days that change your life forever. I want to talk about one of the bad ones. We’ve all got a handful of them that we keep buried deep inside our pockets. Nobody sees them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still feel them there resting against our bodies.

One of mine was an October Tuesday on a football field outside Philadelphia back in 1988.

People look at me and assume I was a good football player, simply because of my size. I wasn’t. I played at 5’11” and 160 pounds. But it wasn’t the lack of size that didn’t make me a good football player. It was the lack of consciousness mostly.

Being smaller than other players means you have to hit harder to make an impact on the field. It comes with a risk, though. While you’re trying to knock someone silly, a lot of times you knock yourself silly. It’s part of the game. Unfortunately, I didn’t like throwing up every other night because I was still seeing stars from that day’s practice. I didn’t like being unable to concentrate. I didn’t like “losing time” out on the field, unable to remember a series of plays. I could never get used to it. So, if I could bring a guy down without knocking myself for a loop, I tried to do it.

People noticed.

Don’t get me wrong, I could unleash a mammoth hit with the best of them. Of course, I could only do it 2–3 times per game before the blackouts started and nausea kicked in later. So, I tried to pick and choose my spots.

During a Saturday game, The Hun School had different ideas.

I was playing strong safety at the time, lined up over the tight end. I still remember their formation. Slot left wide. I remember our right defensive end Dave bit hard on the fake dive by the fullback. I remember that our right linebacker Shaughnessy was blocked way too easily by the tight end and didn’t even fight it. I remember the right cornerback Nate got engaged with the slot receiver. But, mostly I remember seeing their 240-pound halfback taking the option pitch and running untouched towards the outside.

It’s just simple physics, really. 160-pound me running full speed at a 240-pound guy is probably going to lose. You can factor in things like technique and desire, but in the end physics usually wins.

It did.

I tried to pop his hips and knock him off balance. As I neared him, I broke down and launched my right shoulder into his hips, hoping for the best. It never came. He slowed maybe half a step and kept running as if I had never even been there. I remember trying to hold on and feeling my arms slide down a thigh that was almost as big around as my waist.. It wasn’t for another second or two that I heard the whistle and looked up to see the referee spotting the ball after a nearly 20-yard gain.

I don’t remember much more from the game after that. I know that we lost, though. When a team’s starting halfback is bigger and stronger than anyone on your entire team, that tends to happen. I do remember the film session, though the next Monday.

The above play happened in the third quarter. By the time we got to that play in film session, we’d seen their halfback run over just about everyone on the field multiple times. I don’t know why, but Coach Davis stopped the film after that play and called me out in front of my teammates and friends.

“Donkey,” he said. “Why’d you hit him like such a pussy?”

He rewound the film. “Look, you had a clean shot at him. But instead, you wussed out.”

He rewound it again. “You could have at least held him up, couldn’t you?” he asked as everyone watched my feeble attempt at holding onto his leg.

He rewound it again. “Everyone. This is how NOT to tackle a guy. Remember this.”

I did.

We ran a lot that practice. No contact on Mondays after watching film. Instead we did up-downs, hill climbs, over-back/over-backs until we were exhausted. The whole practice I got more and more angry. Why me? Why call me out when the same thing happened to our entire team?

I took that anger with me and held it in my hands the rest of the day. I heard Coach’s voice all night as I studied. I don’t remember a single thing from any of my classes Tuesday, but I remember practice. I remember it.

Coach moved me to cornerback that day. I guess he figured it was because I wasn’t a big enough hitter to play safety. In hindsight, he was right, but I didn’t want to admit it to him that day. So, I played with a reckless abandon. I remember frustrating our regular WR to no end by locking him up on every play so he couldn’t get off the line and run his patterns. I remember going after our running back and chasing him down like he was standing still. I remember the feeling of adrenaline.

Then the freshmen and sophomores came in to run the scout team. I lined up opposite a freshman WR named Brandon. He was about 5’9” and 140 pounds at the time. He had no speed, no quickness, no hands, no talent, and no clue about what I was about to do.

The hitch pass to him was a little high and a little slow. Not high enough that he had to jump, but high enough that he was completely prone. Not slow enough to pick off, but slow enough for me to get a full head of steam going. There are few things that a cornerback likes to see more than a completely exposed WR. So, I did what I was supposed to do.

I destroyed him.

I was a high-speed cruise missile. I was a wrecking crew. I was the Angel of Death disguised as a defensive back. I swear as God as my witness, I never unleashed this kind of fury in my life before.

Time slowed. It always does with stuff like this. The hit was loud. Gunshot loud. I felt his breath knocked completely out of him. I could see his body go completely limp before he hit the ground. The ball rolled harmlessly towards the sidelines where it tottered and came to a rest pointed at me.

For those of you who played football, you know what the perfect hit feels like. You get this instant feeling of giddiness that won’t subside. It’s orgasmic. Your body shakes incessantly and try as you might, you can’t get the grin off of your face.

Until you look down and see that he’s not moving. Heck, you’re not even sure if he’s breathing. Before you know it, the entire coaching and training staff is assembled around him. There’s a part of you that feels sick. There’s a part of you that wants to cry. But you can’t get that damned grin off your face.

Look, I know I wasn’t wrong for anything I did. Football is a contact sport. Going into it thinking you won’t get hit is ludicrous. It’s just that for once I had done everything right and I still felt like the worst person in the world. I saw what I was capable of doing and it scared the shit out of me.

Coach Thomas came and put his arm around me. “That was a hell of a hit, Donkey.”

“Yeah.” I muttered and walked away.

That was it. I paced by myself. Suddenly, Brandon’s eyes opened. He looked around and wiggled all his extremities. Nothing broken. Nothing torn. Just knocked unconscious. Eventually, he rolled over and threw up. Practice was over. No wind sprints. No hill climbs. Just shower and call it a day.

I didn’t feel right after that. I had a dull ache in my stomach that didn’t go away for months.

Then it got worse.

Thursday morning, the ambulances came to school. A student had fallen to the ground outside the student lounge and gone into a seizure. No one had to tell me who it was. I already knew.

I started to clean out my locker that day, thinking about what I was going to tell Coach besides, “I quit.” I mean, how do you keep playing after you do something like that to a kid? I’d hit opponents in games before and taken them out. Heck, I’d been knocked out of games before. This was different. This was a teammate. He wasn’t a friend or even an acquaintance, but he was still a teammate. You don’t do that to a teammate. You don't hit someone so hard that he eventually goes into seizures.

The guys came into the locker room before practice and saw me there. It was epilepsy, they said. Ran in his family. The hit had nothing to do with it.

So I didn’t quit. I played the rest of the year, but I didn’t like it that much. I didn’t like myself too much for a while, either. I couldn’t bring myself to really unload on anyone in a game again.

When I was a kid, I skipped a grade. I was always the smallest guy in class until puberty kicked in. I got picked on, bullied, and teased from first grade through junior year in high school. I always wished I was tougher, so people would leave me alone. All my life, I wanted to be tough. That year, senior year, was my year to be tough. Only, the strange thing is, it didn’t suit me. I wasn’t the hard-ass football guy. I was just a regular kid who wanted to have fun on the football field. That hit showed me everything I needed to know about myself.

My senior year in college, I went back for homecoming and ended up at a party where Brandon was. I walked in the door and before I could say anything, he looked at me and said, “You hit me so hard.” It had been four years and he was still thinking about it. It’s been 19 years and I’m still thinking about it. I’m sure if I were to run into him again on the streets, it would be the first thing he said to me.

So, why am I writing about this? I don’t know. It’s a Tuesday. It’s October. And there’s still a little part of me that feels sick about all this.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You know what I wish?

I wish that 95% of the people at work who ask me, “Can you proofread this to make sure I got the grammar right?” would come to me before that point and ask instead, “Can you work with me to make sure my message is on target, interesting, and provokes a measurable response?” It’s as if these people think that if I correct their comma splices and capitalize the right letters, it will improve their message. If all you’re asking me to do is tidy up your crap, you’re just going to end up with a tidy pile of crap.

Nine times out of ten, I end up re-writing the whole thing and bringing it back. It’s often better to do this than to bring back a one-page letter with more red ink on it than black. I hate going up to a Senior Vice President and ask them to start over from the beginning, but more often than not, it’s the best place to go. What’s your objective? Start there and move forward. Stay on task and on objective and you’ll be fine.

Not to sound all Jeff Goldblum-y from “Jurassic Park”, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. Just because you have been writing in some capacity since you were five doesn’t mean that you are able to write a letter to customers that gets across the message you intended.

I think that’s the thing people forget most about communication. Communication isn’t what you say, write, or blog. Communication is what’s understood by your audience. If they don’t “get it,” that’s your fault as a company/business/charity/pimp. If you’re the one intruding on their time, you had damn well better make sure that you’re sending out exactly what you want to say in a way that the customer wants to hear.

Every time you send a letter or an e-mail or a brochure or an STD to a customer, it’s marketing. Marketing only works when the right message is sent to the right person in the right medium. Actually, I guess I should say that marketing works optimally in this situation, but I’m from the old school that thinks that any marketing that isn’t optimal is a wasted marketing opportunity. And all the grammar fixes in the world can’t fix a wasted opportunity.

So, stick that in your pipe and capitalize it. End of my marketing/grammar sermon. Back to fun stuff.

I'm a Moron

Yup. I am. It's true.

I've been trying to add more tools to this blog. Links. RSS Feeds. Midgets riding oversized tricycles. I'm still pretty new to all this blogging and Internet stuff. As such, you're not going to find a lot of fancy things on this site. Heck, I'm still having trouble creating links in my posts.

Why am I saying all this now? Well, since I added the RSS Feed, I can see that I've got a number of people subscribing in a reader. That's cool. I'm just saying it because I don't want them to unsubscribe when they realize I'm a total techno-moron at this point. Stick with me, this ride is going to kick some serious arse when I flatten the learning curve a little bit. I'm serious. You're going to want to tell your grandkids (provided all this web surfing hasn't rendered you sterile) that you were there when the Donkey really got things rolling.

Hop on, beotches. We're getting this show on the digital road.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Slap Happy

You know who needs to be slapped? Anyone who’s ever been an audience member of “Deal or No Deal.” Seriously, has there ever been a dumber game show, let alone a dumber audience?

I like game shows. I really do. However, in my opinion, a game should require some actual skill to play. “Deal or No Deal” on the other hand, is the adult equivalent of Candy Land—only for dumber people. What’s the prerequisite for contestants? Can they identify a number between 1 and 25 (or however many cases there are up there)? That’s it. So, basically anyone ages 3 and up is eligible to play. Like I said, just like Candy Land.

So, why are the audience members dumber than the contestants? Well, first of all, they’re there voluntarily with no chance of winning any money. Second of all, the only thing they do is clap incessantly when a contestant picks a briefcase.

Howie Mandel: “I need you to pick out two briefcases.”

Contestant: “Number 5, because that’s the number of times I threw up backstage before the show started.”

Audience: [Non-stop applauding]

Contestant: “Number 3, because that’s how many functional nipples my wife has.”

Audience: [Renews their applauding]

And on. And on. And on. Until I want to break stuff.

Why are they applauding? If someone does something amazing, I’ll clap. I’m not THAT much of an asshole. But, I’m sorry, picking a number at random isn’t applause-worthy. And, clapping for that crap, is just slap-worthy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The kind of stuff I wonder about:

Who came up with the parody song, “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”? Seriously, is there any guy under the age of 40 who doesn’t instantly think of “Batman Smells” whenever that song breaks out in December? I did a quick Internet search, but I couldn’t find anything on the origins of this song. It’s like it spontaneously broke out in our collective conscience several decades ago. I don't think it started on the campy T.V. show of the 60s, but I could very well be wrong. Did it appear in a Batman comic first? It sounds like something the Joker would sing. If he was drunk.

I was recently reading a book by a British author set in England and a kid in that book was singing a variation of “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.” I find that amazing. A parody song that’s known by all English-speaking children on both sides of the Atlantic.

So, I want to know. Where did this song come from? Who started it? Don’t get me wrong, it’s brilliant in its content and keeping with the tempo of the song. I’ve just got some questions. Why Batman? Of all the people and/or things that could smell, why Batman? Why?

I’ve always been a Marvel Comics guy but all things considered, Batman is pretty badass. Even with all his badassness, I don’t think he would smell. Remember, he’s multi-millionaire Bruce Wayne by day, so I’m sure he’s got some pretty good hygiene. If you were to choose a superhero to smell, I’d go with either Aquaman and his funkalicious fish stank, or the Flash. Why Flash? Well, he’s always running, so I’m pretty sure he’s always sweating, too. One of these guys should be the one that smells. Not Batman

Thursday, July 12, 2007

You know who I’m surprised still has a job? Well, besides me. Paul Harvey, that’s who.

How can he still be gainfully employed on the radio? Have you ever listened to his broadcasts? I have the unfortunate pleasure of being bombarded by his “news” reports during my five-minute commute to work in the mornings. I’ll pull into the parking lot around 8:30 and sure as shit, this geriatric tripe-slinger is making yet another assault on the airwaves.

Who listens to this crap willingly? Does he have any fans out there? I’d give you an example of his feckless babble, but it’s hard to get the full effect without his patented pauses between random syllables. Screw it, I’ll try:

“Good Morning Americans. Chevrolet has started production on a new line of transportation. These ‘cars’ as they’re being called, require no cranking to get started and use keys to open doors and trunks. [Insert random nonsense]. Now page 2. Jeannie Pulaski of Cleveland writes in, ‘Citrocal has done more for my bone strength than my usual morning glass of crushed lime and powdered milk could ever do. Thank you Citrocal.’ I saw a movie the other night. It was nothing but a bag of popcorn popping for 3 minutes. Someone told me it was a microwave and not a movie screen. Then I fell asleep on the can. A bank robber was caught over the weekend after he wrote his hold-up note on the back side of his grocery list. Police apprehended him between the dairy and canned soup sections of the store. And, now you know . . . [abnormally long pause which makes me pray that this is the final grand mal that does him in] . . . the rest of the story.”

I swear, I feel like he’s having mini-strokes between the words in his segments. The guy gets less than10 minutes of air time every weekday, you’d think he’d be a little more polished with his broadcasts. But no, it’s like listening to a senile octogenarian paraphrasing random articles from USA Today and pausing every 3 seconds to open up another piece of hard candy.

And, how can it be news when a quarter of his segment is an advertisement for Citrocal, Oreck, Bose, or whatever he’s shilling? And, to top it all off, he gets paid more for his 5-minute segment than I get paid in a year.

Here’s the funny thing, though. On his website, it says “Paul Harvey, The Voice of the New Millennium.” Seriously? This is the voice that will define the years 2000–3000?

Lord help us all.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

For a while, I thought my car was a lesbian. It turns out, it was just a former Duke University basketball player.

It’s going to take a while, but let me explain. I read an article a while back that stated over 50% of all people name their cars. I’ve always been one of those people. That is, until I purchased a 1999 Toyota 4Runner SR5 almost two years ago.

I wanted to name it, I really did. It’s just that nothing seemed to fit. Sure, I could have gone with the “4Skinner” if I wanted to be obvious and gross (which I usually am). But, this car was different. It was the kind of car I always wanted.

The 4Runner is my fourth car ever. When I turned 16, I shared with my older sister a white, 1979 Chevy Malibu Classic with a powder blue interior. It was inherited from my grandparents when they upgraded. Almost immediately, it became known as “The Spooge-mobile.” I’d like to say I was responsible for that nickname, but alas, it was never meant to be. It earned its name when my friend Elmo snuck into it one summer night with his girlfriend as it was parked outside my front lawn. His amazing derring-do went unnoticed by my father who at one point walked within 10 feet of the car. The name, and apparently the mess, stuck.

When I turned 20, I shared another car with my two younger brothers—a 1986 gold Chevy Celebrity, also inherited from my grandparents. Immediately, I dubbed it “The Golden Shower.” The name stuck and when I sold it to my friend, Big Ter of All You Need to Know, he even provided it with the license plate AU SHWR1. Hilarious.

When I turned 25, I bought my first new car, a green 1996 Toyota Camry. I liked the car, but I never loved it. At the time, I wasn’t sure where I was going with my life, so I wanted something safe and reliable with decent mileage in case I had to commute. And, commute I did, racking up over 27,000 miles in the first year. It was a workhorse, but the 4-cylinder engine lacked the horsepower to really be a horse. Hence, it became “The Green Donkey.” The name never seemed right, kind of like the car never seemed quite right. Everything made sense, but it didn’t inspire greatness.

So, 9 years later, I bought the 4Runner because I always wanted an SUV. With about a 2 mile commute, I figured the gas prices wouldn’t kill me and bought a flawless truck with less than 50,000 miles on it. I loved it. Still do, in fact. But, I couldn’t get a sense of who the car wanted to be.

Was it a boy or a girl? I couldn’t even tell you. Sure, it had the rugged abilities of a manly man. But, I could tell that it had been pampered immensely in its previous life. It gave off that weird she-male vibe which eventually led me to believe it was a lesbian. However, since it never really set off my gay-dar, I figured it had to be something else. So, I made it my mission to wait the naming out.

One of my brothers has the perfect name for his car. He’s got a 1998 or so Honda Civic with about 175,000 miles on it—The Ronald Colman. Here’s the story behind it. My brother loves the movie “A River Runs through it” and there’s a great scene in there where an uncle casually mentions that “People say I look like Ronald Colman.” If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. Now, even before I knew who Ronald Colman was, I was sure this fat, older uncle looked nothing like the guy. But, it’s the way he nods his head incessantly at everyone in the group as he says it, utterly believing it’s true that just kills me. Fifteen years after watching that movie my brother and I can tell each other “People say I look like Ronald Colman” and start giggling like little school girls.

I wanted a name like Ronald Colman for my 4Runner. Something only my brothers and I would find funny. Then, it dawned on me. In the 80s, we had a basketball hoop attached to our garage, 8-1/2 feet up. As teenagers, we loved having the ability to dunk on something besides a Nerf hoop or an old tub of Baskin Robbins Ice Cream nailed to the wall. Inspired by an emerging Air Jordan, we did 180s and 360s and windmills and anything of his we could possible imitate. As we became bigger Bulls fans, we started emulating all the players from that team. My favorite to emulate was none other than number 20, Eugene Lavon Banks.

Gene Banks wasn’t anything special as a player. He averaged a modest 10 points and 5 rebounds over a two-year stint with the Bulls. He wasn’t a great leaper or a tenacious defender. He wasn’t anything much except for the owner of the ugliest bank shot I’d ever seen. He’d be working in the post, spin free towards the middle of the lane and throw that ball hard off the glass. Half the time, it looked like he was trying to shoot the ball through the backboard. It would carom awkwardly off the iron and nearly concuss anyone who tried to grab it.

One day while goofing around with my brothers in the driveway, I attacked the hoop with reckless abandon. As I split the double-team of my younger siblings and soared towards the hoop, instead of yelling, “Jordan!” and hammering down a ferocious slam, I chose to yell, “Gene Banks!” and threw the ball off the backboard as hard as I could. As the ball went flying over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard, the only sound we could hear was each other laughing.

“That’s totally Gene Banks,” my brother said to me.

Even at the ages of 15, 13, and 11, we knew a disastrous bank shot when we saw one. For years, during any pickup game, I would pull out the imitation and, nine times out of ten, we’d have to stop the game to compose ourselves afterwards.

Now, the three of us are spread across three different time zones. We haven’t had a pickup game in well over a decade. The net is down off my parent’s garage. But, I still have the Gene Banks imitation in my back pocket for whenever I need it. And now, I have a car that makes me remember summer evenings in the 80s.

Welcome home, Gene Banks. I’ve missed you.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Here's one good reason to work in an office: You get to hear things you might never hear again.

For example, here's something I overheard today.

"Did you just sneeze? It sounded like someone ran over a dog."


Friday, June 15, 2007

You know what pisses me off?

When people say “I don’t like to say ‘I told you so’” and then go on to tell you what you already know. That’s bullshit. Everybody loves to say, “I told you so.” It comes from an innate desire to be right about something. It also comes from an innate desire to be punched in the nipple by me. I do that now whenever someone pulls the “told you so” line out of their ass. Believe me, it’s made me more friends than enemies. You don’t want a nipple-puncher as an enemy. That’s just Common Sense 101. They teach you that on the first day.

Consider yourselves warned.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I must have missed the memo.

Nobody told me it was No Underpants Wednesday. I would have joined in. Honest. All I know is that it’s nearly noon as I’m writing this and I’ve already seen more crack than Bobby Brown on a regular Saturday night.

I dropped my daughter off at preschool this morning and saw not one, but two moms showing off crack. They were completely bereft of any undergarments and completely oblivious to the fact that I could have slid a 3-ring binder into their ass-grooves. Then I stopped in at the White Hen Pantry only to have my eyes assaulted by a young lady.

Don’t get me wrong, I like asses. I’m not an out-and-out ass-guy, but I still appreciate them. That doesn’t mean I always want to see them. Especially when they’re squeezed into a pair of jeans at least 2 sizes too small and the crack is literally sprouting out of the top.

Seriously, your ass crack should not begin 3 inches below your scapula. It’s unnatural No one wants their ass to sag, a.k.a. “the lazy dog ass.” I get that. But ladies, giving yourselves an artificial butt lift is not the answer. All you’ve done is exposed the tops of your butt cheeks in all their doughy splendor. It’s not your proudest moment.

I guess the odd thing is that it was all female crack I saw. For all the laughs we have about plumbers and their butts, I saw a bunch of blue-collar guys today and not one of them showed me their ass crack.

So, stick that up your ass and smoke it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sometimes, two friends have to be at the same point in their lives to have these kinds of conversations. For my old roommate, Lou and I, it was the fact that we’re both married, living in the suburbs, and have young daughters.

I was out with both my old roommates a while back. Lou graduated from one of the top law schools in the nation. I received a M.S. from arguably the top advertising program in the country. Then, there’s Coach, who’s probably smarter than the two of us put together. You know how everyone makes fun of Polish people for being dumb? They never met Coach. I guess what I’m getting at, is that we’re not a bunch of morons and chuckleheads.

The beer was flowing. The laughs were coming quickly and fiercely. The waitress was coming frequently. The tab was rapidly approaching the GDP of an emerging nation. I finally felt like the time was right to say something to Lou.

The Donkey: “Lou, I’ve got a question for you.”

Lou: “What?”

The Donkey: “Is it just me, or is that Swiper a real asshole?”

Lou: “Totally. And, don’t even get me started on Sneaky Pete.”

Coach: “You guys are idiots. We should be talking about strippers instead.”

At that point, you could hear the third of a million dollars in collective tuition being flushed down the toilet.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Chicks are weird.

I could stop writing right there, but I won’t. That wouldn’t help me become a better writer, and isn’t that the point of a writer having a blog?

I like grocery shopping. Always have. I like going late at night so that it’s just me and aisles full of preservatives. Anyway there’s a cute, young lady who works some of the night shifts at our local grocery store. When given the choice between a checkout lane with a crotchety, old lady, or a young, shy lady, I choose the young one. There was one week when I literally went to the grocery store three nights in a row for just a handful of items and young lady was working the express lane each time. On the third night, she finally said something to me besides “do you have your Dominick’s card?” or “Do you need any help out, Mr. [Butchering of my last name]?”

“Wow, you must really like shopping here,” young lady said shyly in a way that other shy people recognize instantly.

“No,” I responded. “I just have this rare disease that only fake macaroni and cheese can prevent. Thank goodness you still had some, or I probably wouldn’t have lived through the night” (It should go without saying that I had a bunch of boxes of generic-brand shells and cheese.)

She smiled a little bit, forced out the faintest whisper of a laugh and then said the words I’d been waiting to hear, “Do you need any help out, Mr. [yet another butchering of my last name]?”

So, I’d made a friend at the supermarket and it was kind of nice to see a familiar, friendly face when I had to run out for odds and ends, instead of the sea of surliness one is usually confronted with during checkout time. She’d smile knowingly at me whenever I was in line and I’d smile back. We never really said much to each other, since small talk is neither of our fortes. And, that was o.k.

Now, let me be clear about something. I always wear my wedding band. It’s no secret that I’m married. I wear it proudly. I’m old. I’m not good-looking. I’m certainly not wealthy. At best, I’m marginally humorous. So, that ring serves as a beacon to all other dorks that they too can succeed in romance. With all that said, I want to say I was positively NOT flirting with this girl at any time. Heck, I haven’t had to flirt in over ten years, I’m not even sure I remember how. I was just making a little effort to treat someone working a lonely job as something more than just a lonely person.

About two weeks ago, I had to run to the store for some ice cream. Maybe I didn’t HAVE to run to the store, but I did. My wife and daughter came with and when we got into line, I realized young lady was working. When she saw me, a smile started to form on her face until she saw my wife and daughter. Then, I got the iciest glare I’d ever received. “Do you need any help out, Mr. [close semblance of my last name]?” No, I certainly did not.

I don’t think my wife noticed the look. If she did, she never said anything. But, I still couldn’t shake the sense that young girl felt as if I’d done something wrong. As if I’d kept my wife and daughter a secret, never mind the fact that she’d seen me buy tampons and Dora the Explorer yogurt. It was just weird. Well, weirder than shopping at midnight usually is. Anyway, the next couple of times I went shopping and ended up in young girl’s lane, I pretty much got the cold shoulder.

Last night, I made one of my nocturnal runs to the store. There were maybe ten or so people inside and two checkout lines open, regular and express. Young lady was working the express lane. Grumpy old lady was working the regular line. Since I had about 832 items, I went to the regular line. I finished paying and old lady was slowly bagging some of my stuff. Usually, I’ll help out with the bagging, but there were only a few bags and they were behind the register. So, I waited. With about six bags to go, young lady comes rushing over and asks old lady, “Do you want me to finish?”

Old lady, with the weariness that only comes from working the grocery graveyard shift replied, “Whatever,” and walked away.

I was waiting for the awkward silence to descend, but young lady looked at me, smiled, and said, “I haven’t seen you around for a while. How have you been?”

Now, this may have been the longest sentence she’d ever strung together for me, and it kind of took me by surprise.

“Oh, you know, I’ve been the same. I’m pretty sure that this is the tallest I’m ever going to get, and I’m trying to figure out how to deal with that.”

She laughed and bagged the rest of my stuff. “Do you need any help out?”

Yes, yes I do. I need to figure out what the heck just happened. I’m nearly 36 and I’m no closer to understanding chicks than when I was 12.

Weird. Just weird.