Friday, July 31, 2009

Money Talks

My older brother recently got a new job and had to move on pretty short notice. Since he didn’t have time to sell his house, he decided to rent it. And it was because of this that we were able to meet one of the most unintentionally funny people I’ve ever met. My brother asked me to help with the prospective tenant interviews because of his long work hours. I told him that he probably shouldn’t leave it in my hands because of our propensity for pranks, but he didn’t listen. So the first guy I met with was a realtor looking for a place to live while he built his new home. And he was one of those people who talks so fast, that you kinda have to squint and turn your ear towards them to catch everything they say (like the guy on those old MicroMachines commercials). But I’ve never heard someone talk so much while saying so little. Every couple of sentences, he would end with “you know what I’m sayin’.” And he didn’t need a response. By the time you finished taking a breath to let him know that you did, in fact, know what he was saying, he was already saying something else.

And I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know how to react when people tell me how much money they make. Whether they’re bragging about their income or complaining, I don’t know what expression to make. If you don’t react at all, then you’re acting like you don’t care. And you don’t want that. But if you act impressed at a high number, you’re further inflating their over-inflated ego. And if you act shocked by a low number, you’re essentially making them feel more poor. Well, the first time the guy mentioned his $7000 monthly income, I just faked a sneeze (mine is very convincing), and I thought I’d skirted around the issue. I was impressed with my own creativity. But he kept mentioning it and pausing as if waiting for a response. So I started to run out of things to do. I took a drink from my glass on the table, I glanced at my watch, I faked a cough (not as convincing). I even yawned. But he wouldn’t relent. I finally conceded defeat and gave him a slight nod with my eyebrows raised. And if I thought that would make the references subside, I was wrong. That seemed to steel his resolve and eliminate his need for inner monologue. He saw my expression and said, “Yeah. I know. A lot of people are impressed when I mention that.” He should have just said, “Yeah, I know. I’m kind of a big deal.

And you know those people that start talking about something at the wrong time? Like the ones who bring up their job selling life insurance when they’re at a funeral, or the ones who mention an anger problem at a job interview? Well this guy was just as bad. He was basically interviewing for the right to live in my brother’s house, but he kept saying things that would be better left unsaid.

Here are some examples:
"I can’t wait to move in, I’m gonna have a huge luau in my new backyard."

"So does the fridge in the kitchen stay with the house? Because if so, I’m gonna move it to the garage and make it exclusively a beer fridge."

"I’m so glad there’s not carpet in here. It’s a lot easier to mop up spills and stuff than to try and get them steamed out."

"Do you do a background check? Because there was this one misunderstanding a couple years ago. I can explain it, though. It’s actually a funny story."

"Hey, where's the nearest morgue?"

"If you want me to do a drug test, is there a way to get it scheduled like a week or two ahead of time?"

By the time he left, my head was spinning. I’ve never met a more obnoxious person in my life. He’s a good tenant though.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gullible's Travels

Due to his blind enthusiasm and clumsiness, my older brother has a tendency to injure himself in interesting ways. He’s always doing something interesting. And that always becomes a good story about how interesting he is. Wait, I don’t mean interesting. I mean stupid. He’s always doing stupid things that result in his being injured. He once ran into a tree while playing frisbee in the front yard. His own front yard. He couldn’t even run 15 feet in his own yard without ramming his cheekbone into an oak. It’s fun enough for me to watch him hurt himself that I’ve started to set a video camera up whenever we do stuff outdoors... just in case. But it’s more fun to hang out with him the first time he sees someone after an injury. He’s usually embarrassed enough about the real events that he doesn’t like admitting what he’s done. So he’s developed quite a talent at explaining away his interesting injuries with ridiculous answers. I guess he figures people will be distracted enough to forget about finding out the real story.

When he ran into the tree playing frisbee, he ended up with a plate-sized scrape on the right side of his face. (He looked like Harvey Dent at the end of The Dark Knight.) And he was so embarrassed about running face-first into a tree that he told people ridiculous lies. He told one of his friends that he’d cut himself shaving because he sneezed too hard. He told another person that he was attacked by a puma while vacationing in Costa Rica. He told his girlfriend that he was saving a toddler from being struck by oncoming traffic and was dragged by his face when his belt loop got caught under a truck. I guess he usually runs about a 33% success rate with his stories, because one person believed the shaving story. So I guess it pays off occasionally if the person listening is an idiot.

When he sprained his ankle while walking down his driveway, he got really creative. He borrowed a friend’s expired handicap placard for his car and told everyone that he had volunteered to donate a ligament to a crippled child in Indonesia. I think the handicap permit was what convinced people of the story’s authenticity. He only stopped telling people when his friend in medical school called him out on it.

But my all-time favorite was when he broke his hand. He actually managed to convince most of his friends that he broke it during a particularly intense tetherball match. In reality, he hit it on my mom’s recliner as he was stupidly running through the house, and it snapped like a twig. But tetherball sounds cooler. And people believed it, so he saved face. (Scarred, oak-scratched face.)

Top Ten Excuses I've Used for Being Overweight

10. I prefer to be warm, and it's cheaper than buying jackets.

9. I like to show off to the less fortunate countries.

8. I have a deal with NBC Nightly News to be their blurred-face person in the "America's Weight Problem" segment.

7. Every superhero has a weakness. Mine is ice cream blended with Twix bars.

6. The Big and Tall store uses better material in their clothes.

5. I'm filming a secret documentary about faking glandular problems.

4. I make my living in John Goodman lookalike contests.

3. I have big bones... and apparently a bunch of extra bones that skinny people don't have.

2. My mother participated in experimental growth hormone gene therapy when she was pregnant with me.

1. I'm not actually fat. I'm allergic to humans and I swell up like this whenever I'm within 100 feet of people.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Please Pants Responsibly

I think I’ve mentioned quite a bit that I like to prank people. In my opinion, a well-planned prank is up there among the most satisfying of activities. However, a poorly-planned prank is as bad as bad can be. And unfortunately, I’ve had my fair share of poor planning. For instance, there was one day in high school when I was hanging out with some friends of mine and my older brother. We were chilling out, relaxing, acting all cool. Playing some b-ball outside of the school. Actually we were throwing a football around in the front yard and waving at passing cars. (We thought it was fun to pretend like we knew the drivers.) So my older brother stopped to wave at one of the cars when I was struck by a sudden idea. I decided that it would be a perfect time to “pants” him and show the driver what type of briefs my brother wears. The poorly-planned part of the prank was the fact that he was wearing silk boxers, instead of the expected briefs. So when I firmly and quickly grabbed his shorts, I also grabbed a handful of his boxers. What that meant for the stranger driving past was that he (or she) was not granted a view of undergarments, but rather became better acquainted with my brother than most people ever will be. I, on the other hand, was squatting with my face extremely too close to a sight that still haunts my nightmares.

Needless to say, my brother was upset with me. I apologized profusely for days, assuring him that my intentions were not so sinister as to include a public display of that nature. (“Why would I do that to anyone? That driver didn’t deserve that.”) He didn’t take too kindly to my sarcastic apology. But I would rather have him yell at me for hours than receive his return prank the following month.

He’d read a story online about a person getting revenge on someone by hiding something in their curtain rods. So he repeated the prank on me, altering it slightly to include my car. So weeks after the original incident I began to smell something a little unpleasant when I got in my car. And over the following days, it went from unpleasant to repulsive. Finally, it was all I could do to even drive my car anymore without leaning my head out the window. And I had to burn matches every time I stopped at a traffic light. I scoured my car when the smell started and couldn’t find the source. And I began a daily onslaught of Febreeze and Lysol in every corner and crevice of my vehicle. I had to eventually concede defeat and beg him to tell me how to get the smell out. He agreed that we were even, so he went to my car and used a screwdriver and some gloves to pull out three long-dead fish from my door panel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Do the Truffle Shuffle

I’m fat. I’m not just “pudgy” or “big-boned” or “preparing for winter”. I’m one of the millions of Americans with a weight problem. I’m kind of a closet fat person, though. I feel like I’m pretty good at hiding my obese tendencies. I’m not one of those “I-feel-bad-for-him-because-he-has-to-special-order-those-tapered-zebra-pants” fat people or one of the ones who can’t fit into the average sedan. I always have a plan to avoid embarrassment. I’m the guy who makes sure the group is late to the movie, so we have to sit at the front. That way I don’t have to take the stairs. I’m the kind who orders two meals at McDonald’s with two different drinks to trick the girl at the window into thinking I’m buying for two. (“Number 1 with a Diet Coke and a Number 3 with a... oh what did she want... oh yeah, a Sprite.”) I’m the kind who volunteers to get to the restaurant first and put our name in, so I can ask not to be seated at a booth. And then when we get seated I complain with everyone else about the table. (“I can’t believe we’re seated next to the bathroom. We should have asked for a booth.”) And most importantly, I don’t overeat in front of people. I’ll order a sandwich or the soup/salad combo at the restaurant. But then I’ll stop on the way home for some Chili Cheese Burritos at Taco Bell. No reason anyone needs to see that.

But, I’m not that guy who blames his weight on his metabolism or anything like that. I’m fat because I eat more than I should. And I eat foods that are delicious. For the most part I don’t really regret this. I’m generally happier than most people at least three times a day. And I don’t really have to deal with hunger. The only time it really bothered me to be fat was in school, when I couldn’t get a girl to like me. But now that I’m married, I can totally let myself go!

And sure, if I worked out four times a week and had a balanced diet, I would probably be a normal-sized, borderline attractive individual. I don’t know that for sure because I’ve never tried, but it seems logical, right?

But I’m not just fat. I’m lazy too. I don’t check the mail for weeks at a time because it involves putting shoes on. And I watch the replay of last year’s water polo championships for an hour because I don’t want to get up and find the remote. And my choice for a snack is always determined by how far down I have to stoop to reach into the fridge. (String cheese in the back? No sir. Sliced cheese in the door? You betcha!) Sometimes my laziness makes my wife mad, though. She got angry with me one time and was all like, “You’re so lazy! You never do ANYTHING around here. I’ve been asking you all afternoon to help me out.
I didn’t even answer. I just laid there and pulled the sheets back over my head. Look, I don’t call in sick so I can stay home and do chores. I call in so I can stay in bed all day and play video games in my boxers.

Monday, July 27, 2009

(Yes... On His Shoulder)

I think my older brother should seriously consider laser hair removal. Or maybe he should just consider wearing a shirt more often. There aren’t many things more disturbing than shoulder cowlicks. Seeing that is the kind of thing that makes you wish some people had a poor body image. At least they’d be properly ashamed of their appearance. But no... the people who most need to cover up seem to be the ones most comfortable showing their oddities. I don’t know if there’s an unspoken code among the hairy people that says shirts are optional for them. Do they just not fear the sun because of their natural UV barrier? Or is it a deep-seeded need to make others feel awkward around them? Try to have a serious conversation with a shirtless hairy man. It’s impossible. Words keep popping into your head that prevent you from forming a coherent sentence. It’s hard to respond to a question about politics when all you can think are the words hair, fur, and shedding. And he has to know what he’s doing to people.

I’m pretty sure that in my brother’s case, he does that kind of thing just to shock people. He’s always trying to give people a story to tell their friends. If the person can start their next conversation with, "You'll never believe what just happened..." then he's happy.

And the hair display is just the beginning. He does all sorts of crazy, weird things to mess with people:
For one, he started adding "right in your face" to the end of his sentences to "spice things up."
Bland Sentence: "I'm going to fax these reports."
Intense Sentence: "I'm going to fax these report RIGHT IN YOUR FACE!"

He also "answers" automatic toilets. He says that when an automatic toilet flushes, he pretends that it's yelling, "Don't you walk away from me!" So regardless of who's in the bathroom, he yells (back), "I'll do whatever I want! Quit trying to run my life!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Smooth Moves

Post FYI: Today's post is a repost of the guest post that I posted that was posted on Some of you may already have read it. Sorry if I disappoint anyone.

When I was in high school, I was a huge dork. I didn’t date, I didn’t go to dances, and I didn’t exercise (which explains the “huge” part). At the age of 16, I got my driving permit, which allowed me to drive as long as an adult was riding shotgun with me. My older brother let me drive one afternoon after school to help me get practice at what he called “real driving.” The only difference between driving and “real driving” was the fact that he didn’t hold me to every standard my parents did. So as long as I didn’t wreck his car, he was cool with whatever speed I was going. He didn’t make me check my mirrors or use my blinkers. And he didn’t care if the radio was on. It was very cool. The wind whipped through my greasy hair, and we laughed the day away, cruising down the main streets arguing about the real words to Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” and loving life. I blame these euphoric feelings for the incident that followed.

We drove past a community park near our house, and I saw the girl at school that I had a crush on. She was jogging in the park about 100 feet ahead of us on the other side of the chain-link fence. Feeling bold and new, basking in my driving freedom, I had my brother lean back, and I waved out his window. I even honked and yelled her name as we approached so she’d see me. This is when several things happened in quick succession. Unbeknownst to me, I was tugging the steering wheel in the direction of my yell. So while the road turned slightly to the left, the car turned slightly to the right. I hit the curb with a thud (deafening crash) and hopped up into the grass next to the fence. My brother, having leaned back to let me shout over him, bounced up and nudged (uppercut) my jaw with his wrist. I then turned (yanked) the wheel back to the left out of instinct and slid (careened) back onto the roadway. I eased (fishtailed) back into my lane and regained control. With an aching (throbbing) jaw and hurt (devastated) pride, I looked in my rear view mirror in time to see the girl of my dreams laughing at me.

There was enough damage to my brother’s car to prevent keeping it a secret from my parents. So I lost my driving privileges, ruined any chance I had with the girl, and spent the rest of the year earning money to repair my brother’s car. My parents drove me to and from work until I left for college.

Friday, July 24, 2009

There's No Crying in Softball!

I really hate having a job. I find myself envying some aspects of unemployment. Not the lack of food and shelter, but the freedom to sleep in every day. It makes me hate working all the more when I see happy homeless people. I know why they’re happy; it’s because they don’t have to get up at 6:00AM or be careful what they email to people, or even tuck in their shirt.

The most difficult job I’ve ever had was when I was an overnight warehouse worker. I worked at Target, unloading 18-wheelers from 2:00AM to 6:00AM. Then I’d finish the shift by stocking the shelves until noon. The majority of people can’t even do a jumping jack between 2:00 and 6:00. Can you imagine having to lift boxes and move pallets? It’s like having to move everything you own in one night. And that’s about half of what the truck would hold. And I really hate moving my own stuff. I even hate helping other people move. But I especially hate working from 2:00AM to noon everyday. It was absolute torture. Then one night, I figured something out. I found out that no matter what I did, I couldn’t get fired from that job. Target realized how hard it was to convince people to show up to work at 2:00 in the morning for 7 bucks an hour. So they always gave you a verbal warning. No matter what you did. If you started a race with your co-worker down the main aisle on a kid’s tricycle (which I won, by the way), you got a warning. If you announced over the PA system that all customers must report to the front for verification of dress code adherence (“Ma’am, that fringed vest is not gonna cut it. It clearly violates our policy on denim usage.”) You got a warning. And even if you used duct tape to spell the word “Security” on your back and stood by the entrance with dark sunglasses on (“Ma’am, your ugly son is not welcome here.”) you guessed it... you got a warning. So I spent that summer finding every way imaginable to bend, break, and demolish the rules. I even convinced my older brother to work there too. We raced on everything there that had wheels. We made absurd announcements on the PA system about once an hour. And we staged fights in the women’s shoe section, yelling things like “that’s not even your size” or “there’s no way I’m letting you have the last strappy pair again!” It finally got old, so when the back-to-school rush started we quit and got real jobs.

I moved on to a job at an electronics retailer. But my older brother started working as an umpire. He was still in high school, and he had to umpire little league girls’ softball. It was the worst. There's never been so much crying, feet stomping, and dirt kicking in little league. Worrying about the uniform getting dirty instead of focusing on the game, complaining about the heat. It was ridiculous. My older brother couldn’t handle all that. Plus, he realized he was setting a bad example for the girls when he was crying every inning and kicking dirt at middle-schoolers. So he quit that job too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

If You Give a Man a Fish....

I'm always nervous when people meet certain members of my family. I especially nervous when people meet my oldest brother. He has a propensity for saying and doing things that offend people without knowing he's doing it. I don't mean that he's a malicious person; that couldn't be further from the truth. He just doesn’t think about what he's doing sometimes. He's the type of person who will remark on how tired a friend looks. But he doesn't say, "You look like you need some time to relax, are you doing okay?" Instead, he says, "Wow, you look awful. Did you get in a wreck without a seatbelt on or something?" Again, there's no malice at all. He's just calling it like he sees it.

Anyway, because of his history, I'm wary to allow him to meet people who haven't been forewarned of his antics. But sometimes that's unavoidable. On one such occasion, he was meeting my fiancée's extended family for the first time before the wedding. It was a bridal shower for the ladies and an afternoon of hanging out for the men. I pleaded with him not to cross anyone and to think about what his words would sound like on the receiving end. And I have to admit, he controlled his tongue perfectly. He didn't mistakenly call anyone pregnant, point out an obvious toupee, or make light of anyone's physical appearance in any way. The problem was not his words, for once. What I failed to take into account was that there would be home-cooked food there. So I'd forgotten to forbid him from having any.

You see, my oldest brother has the same problem I've struggled for years to overcome: It's really hard for him not to take food that's offered freely to him. So even if there's a meal coming up or he's just eaten, he'll say yes to any offer. Well on this day, we had come straight from lunch to visit my future in-laws during the women's bridal shower. So we turned up at the family's camphouse where my fiancée's uncle was frying some fish he'd just caught in the adjacent lake. He offered some to my oldest brother on a doubled-over paper towel. We'd just eaten lunch an hour earlier, but he went ahead and tucked into the fish. And if it had ended there, I could have dealt with it. But it did not, of course, end there. He asked for more, rolled it up into the same paper towel, and pocketed it... in full view of every person in the room. He then muttered something about needing to save some for my mother.

I was absolutely mortified. My future in-laws just kinda stared at him for a second and then shook their heads quickly as if what they saw couldn't have just happened. They were a little standoffish after that. And I couldn't blame them. Seriously, who sneaks food into their pockets to give to someone else?! Oliver Twist, maybe, but not a grown man who never misses a meal!

But the worst part was after the bridal shower down the street was over. We spent the rest of the afternoon introducing the families further and just exchanging pleasantries. We finally decided we'd all go to the local fish buffet restaurant in town. It's a pretty hopping place on a Saturday evening, so we had to stand in line. I'd pushed the incident out of my mind, but it came roaring right back. As we were standing in line to eat some freshly fried fish, my brother starting pulling a wadded-up paper towel out of his pocket. He then started to eat the four-hour old fried fish that he'd saved. Only my brother can be standing in line for a fish buffet and be so impatient that he's willing to eat cold, leftover fish from earlier in the day from his pocket! I looked down and noticed that he had a giant grease stain on his left leg that made him look like he’d had an accident. It was at that point that I crossed over from "fiancé with an embarrassing family" to "fiancé who desperately needs a new family." At the wedding reception, my older brother was not allowed food... or pockets.

Top Ten Reasons Our Kids Will Think We're Old

10. You were around when hybrid cars and texting were invented.

9. You miss some guy named Jay Leno.

8. Your giant fingers can’t use their stamp-sized touch screen cell phones.

7. You remember when MTV had music.

6. You had to use a computer to be on the internet.

5. You don’t understand the new dance called the “floating half-kickers fox walk."

4. Your birth year starts with a 1.

3. You thought the CGI in your favorite movies looked real.

2. You think it’s cool that you can “rap” the Fresh Prince theme song.

1. Your first car, first cell phone, and first radio each had an antenna.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You ARE the Brut Squad!

My older brother uses too much cologne. I think that over the years he's built up an immunity to it (like the Dread Pirate Roberts did with iocane powder). The problem is that no one else has grown as accustomed to it as he has. It’s enough to make your head swim. If you're stuck in a poorly ventilated room with him for more than a few minutes, you start to forget your own name. And a hug from him is like a chloroform-soaked cloth over your mouth.

I'm not sure if he simply enjoys smelling like a JC Penney men's counter or if it's something more sinister. Maybe he's just morbidly afraid of being stinky. Or perhaps he emits a natural scent that attracts man-eating cougars. Either way, it's almost unbearable to be around him. It's a visible mist around his shoulders and torso. You know when you pour gasoline and you can "see" the vapors right above the nozzle? Or when you look right over the top of a car's roof on a particularly hot day? I wouldn't be surprised if you could see the same distortion when you look past his drenched neck. It's a palpable aura of Old Spice aftershave and Brut cologne. It's like Pigpen from the Charlie Brown comics, only with a dizzying mixture of creepiness and overconfidence instead of suspended dirt. I'm always tempted to check his bathroom cabinet when I go to his house to see if he's stockpiled his source. He has to go through at least three bottles a week at the rate he's going. He probably has to buy it in bulk on the internet.

And you better hope you're never stuck in a car with him if you don't have access to a working window. You'd have to try to hold your breath the whole trip or find another way out. Maybe I imagined it, but the last time I was in his sedan, I could have sworn I saw claw marks on the door handle. It looked like someone in a crazed fit of panic tried to escape at any cost. Come to think of it, there was a date my brother came home early from a few years ago that he wouldn't tell anyone about. I bet she bailed while he was still driving.

Now my sister thinks he does it just to cover a standard B.O. problem. But I'm still convinced he's protecting us from being overrun by vicious cougars. One day he'll abandon the smokescreen of musky scent, and we'll finally find out who is right (... and who is dead).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Say What?

I’ve always been smarter than my brother. It was just the way the chips fell. It’s always been easy to trick him, confuse him, and beat him at Scrabble. I got the brains, and he got the body hair. It’s only fair.

When we were growing up, I liked to take advantage of my... um... advantage. I could convince him of just about anything. So one day, when he was about 5 or 6, I told him that boys his age will often lose their hearing. I told him that it usually starts small to where everything sounds quieter and then out of nowhere they’re deaf. He believed every word of it, so later that day I started asking him if he’d noticed anything getting quieter. He said that the TV sounded quieter when he was watching He-Man that morning(I turned the volume down because he didn’t have the remote). So I said to him, “Well that’s bad. It sounds like it’s starting already. I hope you don’t go deaf.” But instead of speaking normally, I faded out my voice a little with each sentence, so that the last thing he could really hear was me saying, “I hope you....” The last three words I just mouthed.

I didn’t think it would work at first because he just stared at me. But after a few seconds he yelled, “What?!” I could hear the panic in his voice. So I made a calm face and mouthed “What?” He then yelled even louder, “What?! I can’t hear you!” So I mouthed, “You can’t hear me? You can’t hear me?” and mimicked his horrified face. Just short of crying, he repeated that he couldn’t hear me. So just to make sure I sold it, I turned my head in the direction of the living room and mimed yelling “MOM!!!!” at the top of my lungs. He burst into tears and ran in to find our mom.

This is where I messed up. I hadn’t thought past the idea of convincing him he was deaf. Like any other kid, I just thought about how funny that would be and stopped planning. So I didn’t take into account how my parents would react to it. My brother went running into the living room, screaming his head off that he couldn’t hear. He was virtually inconsolable. I sat just around the corner admiring the after-effects of my little prank. It took a few minutes for my mom to even understand what he was saying. He was doing that little kid “cry-until-you-get-sick” sob. The one where even when you stop crying, you inhale sharply between each breath. Usually it’s when you’re in trouble, so your parents have to say, “You need to stop or you’re gonna throw up!”

“I can’t hear! I can’t hear!”
“What? What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”
“No. I just can’t hear anymore. My ears don’t work!”
“Your ears don’t work, what are you talking about?”
“Taylor told me that a lot of boys stop hearing when they’re my age, and then I couldn’t hear anymore just now.”
“Well, can you hear me right now?”
“Can you hear the TV?”
“I can’t hear anyth.... Hey! I can hear the TV!”
“Alright, then you’re okay. You can hear again, I’m sure you won’t be one of those boys who can’t hear anymore.”

My brother passed me in the hall and told me the “good” news. I just nodded and waited for my turn to come. And sure enough, just when my brother was walking into his room.... “TAYLOR, YOU GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW!”

I ended up doing the “cry-until-you-get-sick” sob after my punishment. And then I couldn't sit down for a few days without wincing. In hindsight, though, I can say it was worth it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Movie Mayhem

I went with one of my older brothers last year to see the latest Batman movie. I really enjoyed the movie, but I especially enjoyed sitting next to my insane older brother. The anonymity granted by the pitch black theater allowed me to finally see some of his antics without the stigma of relation weighing me down. And I have to admit, it was fun to watch.

He broke just about every rule of movie theater etiquette I’ve ever known. The only one missing was the crying baby. He answered his cell phone (“No, I’m in a movie. Hang on; I can’t hear you over these idiots shushing me.”) He responded with his take on every preview (“Pass! I’ll pass on that one!”) And he answered questions that characters posed in the film with lame answers (“Why so serious? Because you scare me!”) He even made shadow puppets on the screen during the opening credits. He was quite the disaster. But I sat two seats away “to give us some extra room,” so he just looked like the loser who came to the movie by himself. It was really enjoyable to see other people hate him so quickly without my usual guilt-by-association.

But there was one thing that just befuddled me. (I was gonna say confused, but my thesaurus helped me there.) He put his jacket on his seat and went during the last preview and got the largest size of popcorn he could buy. You know, the one that is roughly the size of an oil drum. He offered to share with me, but I didn’t want anyone realizing we were there together. I really wanted to continue the illusion of disassociation, but I also really wanted some buttery goodness. So I told him to eat what he wanted, and I’d take the rest of the bag when he finished. And to my great astonishment, he handed me a half-empty bag within 3 minutes of my suggestion. For a wild moment, I thought he had silently eaten 4 pounds of popcorn without me noticing. But I realized that instead of scarfing it down, he had zipped his jacket halfway up and filled the space between the jacket and shirt with popcorn. That’s right, he poured half a bag of hot, buttered popcorn directly on his shirt and under his jacket.

So I sat dumbfounded for a few minutes while trying to ignore the “I-can’t-believe-I-thought-of-this-wonderful-idea” look on his face. He kept finding little pieces of popcorn on his shirt throughout the movie, and he got excited every time. It was very entertaining. On the way out I walked about 10 paces behind him because of the enormous, greasy butter stain on the left side of his torso. It was really fun watching all the other moviegoers staring at him and wondering how he did that. It was worth the price of admission.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

They're There

My older brother is certified to teach English at the high school level. And that scares me because he doesn’t seem to be able to speak English at a high school level. He’s one of those people who says, “That’s a whole nother thing.” As if “nother” was a separate word. He also says “eckspecially” instead of especially. (“I eckspecially like when Gollum calls Sam the fat hobbit.”) “Eckspecially” is so wrong that when you type it on your computer, your spell checker doesn't even know what to suggest. It's underlined in red, but it says “no suggestions found.” And if spell checker can’t figure it out, it’s not even close. And the one that really gets to me is his misuse of the word “literally.” It’s so sad when a person with a Bachelor’s degree in English says, “Dude, I literally apologized a thousand times.” It must have been that university he went to. I have to blame someone, and they gave him the degree. So, I’ll have to blame them.

I also have a lot of trouble getting through his emails. (See if you can catch the examples of his mistakes in this paragraph. There are 7 of them.) Their the worst emails ever. If you read one, your constantly having to correct word mix-ups in it's wording. They always cause fights between he and I. Their so bad that I end up with a headache worse then a migraine. He's gonna make me loose my mind. Again I blame his educators.

I remember when my older brother was in college in his sophomore year. He had this one class called “Succeeding in College”. Going into the last week of the year, he was failing miserably. There were no more assignments left to do or tests left to take to bring it up from an F. So he met with his professor on the last day of the semester and talked her into bumping it up to a C. So doesn’t that mean he deserved an A? The class was called “Succeeding in College,” after all. I mean, if you can convince a professor to bump you up by two letter grades with one afternoon meeting, isn’t that the definition of success? That convinced me that he would have done well on the persuasive speaking debate team, had he shown any interest.

That reminds me of a joke I heard Demetri Martin make:

They say that drunk drivers are dangerous, but so are drunk backseat drivers... if they’re persuasive.
“Dude, take a left.”
“Those are trees.”
Trust me.

Top Ten Things That Make You Do A Double-Take

10. When you see a kid in a D.A.R.E. shirt smoking a cigarette.

9. This guy.

8. A pregnant nun.

7. An adult wearing a cape on a day other than Halloween.

6. This picture of my son and my arm.

5. Those Snuggie commercials.

4. The new country album by Darius Rucker (of Hootie and the Blowfish)

3. Seeing this guy walking down the street.

2. Someone walking their cat.

1. People at the store who you thought were mannequins out of the corner of your eye, but then they start moving.

0. Bonus! This picture:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Guys and Dolls

I get scared too easily, I think. Most things I can handle, like thunderstorms or strange noises, but weird things freak me out. I can’t watch scary or suspenseful movies because I end up being the one that everyone watches. My friends all know when it’s particularly scary so they tap each other on the shoulder and point me out. They like to hold their laughter while I get all worked up and jumpy. Then right when it gets really suspenseful (i.e. the barracuda scene in Finding Nemo) they yell really loud to surprise me. It’s not very nice. I usually end up watching stuff by myself with all the lights on. That was the only way I could even sit through Aladdin.

The worst thing was that my younger sister had one of those baby dolls when she was little that closed its eyes when you laid it on its back. Those were innocent enough when they worked, but my sister’s had one eye that wouldn’t close when it was lying down.

(Pretty freaky, right?)

So it was kind of like it was watching you at all times. I promise I could feel it looking at me when I turned my back. There are too many movies and stories about murderous dolls to take that kind of thing lightly. And the worst part is that my sister found out that it scared me, and she used it against me. I’d be watching Scooby-Doo and she’d want to watch Sesame Street. Since I’m older, I’d say no. She wouldn't bother telling our parents. She’d just calmly walk to her room and get her doll. Then she’d throw it on the floor in front of me and whisper, “She’s watching you.” I’d run away and go play G.I. Joes in my room while fighting back the inevitable tears. And I couldn’t tell my parents. Can you imagine that conversation?

“Dad, sissy’s doll scares me. It’s always watching me, even when it’s laying down ,and I think I heard it talking, and I don’t like those things, and I want her to stop ‘cause it makes me scared.”
My dad would say, “Son, you’re 25 years old. You’ve got to stop this.”

Binge Lite

Well, I figured out the best way in the world to lose weight: go to a buffet with my older brother. Nothing will suppress your appetite quicker than watching him for an hour at Golden Corral. (Of course, if you only stay for an hour you'll only see about one-fourth of the meal.)

My older brother is a master of stacking food. The capacity of those ten-inch plastic plates could be tested by weighing what he puts on them. Engineers could study his stacking techniques and learn how to build better skyscrapers. See, when most people go to a buffet, the reason they stack food is because there isn't much room on the plates if you don't want your food to touch. So the stacking would more aptly be called "overlapping" for most people (see example on the right). But my older brother stacks 12 inches high because he hates getting up to make more trips to the buffet. If he can get more food per trip, he can make less trips. He still ends up making 5 or 6 trips throughout the meal, but he despises every one of them. He usually tries to catch people as they leave the table and asks them to bring him a plate of ribs when they come back.

After the sun has set and the rest of the group is fighting off the post-buffet nap, you finally get the signs that make you think he's done eating:
1) He's eaten two plates of dessert (not the 3-inch dessert plates, but the 10-inch dinner plates).
2) He's out of breath and there are 6 different stains on his shirt.
3) Management has asked him to slow down because he's looking pale.
4) The bill has been paid and half the party has left.

That's when he surprises you with his 7th trip through the line.

But the one thing that I don't understand about the whole process is his drink. In this drawn-out display of self-indulgence filled with more calories than the average town eats, he drinks Diet Coke. I'm going to mention that again in case you didn't understand. While eating his body weight in complex carbohydrates and ruining the taste of food for the rest of the table, my older brother insists on drinking a Diet Coke. That's like Voldemort making sure he's polite to his waitstaff. (Didn't understand that one? Fine, try this instead.) That's like Hannibal Lecter being unwilling to squish a bug. (Better?) At that point, isn't it too late to be worrying about a diet drink? Why not splurge that extra 1 percent and have the regular Coke. Or better yet, get the Mountain Dew mixed with Coke. Or have the Coke/Mountain Dew/vanilla softserve/chocolate sprinkles drink that complements your inventive combination of barbeque brisket and taco meat? It's just too ironic to drink Diet Coke with that amount of food.

And it also makes me wonder why Golden Corral even serves Diet Coke. If your business model is based on the idea that people will pay a relatively low price for large quantities of food, why not skip the diet drinks and serve the real stuff? Or put some slushy machines next to the milkshake machines. Or maybe employ some out-of-work nurses to start up a gravy IV for each patron when they sit down.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Is That Really Necessary?

A few years ago, I made the mistake of letting my older brother ride with my wife and me to a wedding reception in our new vehicle. We ended up with a broken cupholder, a stain on the new interior, and a strained relationship. Obviously the cupholder and stain go hand-in-hand. Why he insisted on bringing a can of Coke with him to a catered wedding reception that was 30 minutes away is beyond me. And apparently he had to bring enough for everyone in the car to finish off a few. So he brought a twelve-pack of Cokes and drank three on the way there. Well, he drank two and a half. The other half is now a brown circle on the floor of our minivan, er... um, I mean... Corvette.

The cupholders in the back are attached to the seat right below where your pocket sits. And I warned him at least six times that he needed to be careful when he got out of the car because his legs would brush right over the can. (Keep in mind; this is the same drink I told him was not allowed in our new car.) I guess he doesn’t think my opinion matters, because with one swift movement of his oversized “glutes” he knocked the can down quicker than I could say, "You idiot!" So that’s how I created the rule that my older brother can not ride with me.

You see, my older brother just doesn't get it. I’m sure we’ve all met a few of these people who just don’t get it. They’re the ones that, no matter how hard they try, can not learn algebra. Or the ones that are lost on obvious sarcasm. Or the ones that don’t understand why it’s inappropriate to ask a short person if they're from the Lollipop Guild. But my older brother is the king of these people. On that same drive to the reception, he decided to bring a snack. And let me remind you that we only had to drive 30 minutes to the catered reception. So I heard paper rustling around in the back seat. Let me run you through the conversation.

Me: Hey, what is that noise? Is that a candy wrapper?

Him: I’m a little hungry. I brought a snack.
Me: I told you no food or drink in the new car, and we already talked about the twelve-pack of Cokes.
Him: It’s not a big deal, it’s not like I’m gonna spill anything.
Me: We’re 20 minutes away! Why do you need to eat between here and there?
Him: Who knows how long we’ll have to wait to eat once we get there. Let me just finish another two packages.
Me: Another two packages? What are you eating?
Him: Oreos.
Me: You’re eating several packages or Oreos?!
Him: Yeah, but it’s okay. These are the lite packs. They only have 100 calories.
Me: Not if you eat six of them!
Him: Oh yeah. Okay, you want one?

It was at this point that I realized why my older brother is so overweight. It's not because he eats fatty foods or doesn't exercise. I mean, he does eat fatty foods and he does avoid exercise. But the kicker that really pushes him over the top is the fact that he can over-indulge on just about anything. I mean, who eats a box of "lite" snacks on the way to a meal? I tried explaining this to him to no avail. He's like Ratatouille's brother. Or Gus-Gus from Cinderella. Or any other overweight, aloof, cartoon mouse. My brother is a comedic Disney character.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Man Test

Are you wondering if you're a real man?

Do you need help figuring out what a man would do in a certain situation?

Take the following 10 question test.
It's easy, it's fun, and it's free!

1. When you find yourself looking over the ledge of something extremely high (like a cliff, tall building, or stairs), do you A) say "whoa!" B) remark to your friend that it's too scary or C) spit and count how many seconds it takes to reach the ground?

2. When you go into the bathroom for number 1 and find that there are five "porcelain wall-mounted liquid waste receptacles" (for Google search purposes, I’m trying to avoid using the word that sounds like "yer null"), and one man is stationed at the closest receptacle, do you A) take the one right next to him B) take the 3rd one or C) take the farthest receptacle from him for fear of doing number 1 within two feet of another person?

3. When you pass a mirror and no one is looking, do you A) smile and check your teeth B) make sure your hair looks okay and check for wrinkles in your clothes or C) flex and growl?

4. If someone you're dating asks where the relationship is going, do you A) say, "I'm so glad you brought that up. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately." B) say “Baby, you know I love spending time with you. I see no reason why we can’t go the distance." or C) feign a coughing spell, run to the bathroom, crawl out the window, and dump her via a text message within the hour?

5. If you accidentally hit a dog on a neighborhood street, is your first reaction to A) Jump out of your car and immediately dial 9-1-1 B) check the dog's level of injury and go door to door to find the owner or C) make sure there’s not slobber or blood on your front bumper?

6. If you pass a coworker's office and see 20 to 30 closed boxes stacked up against the walls, do you ask the person A) if they’re moving to another office or job B) if they need help packing or moving anything or C) if they want to close the door and build the awesomest fort ever?

7. If your spouse asks you what you think about their new $50 shirt, do you A) have them try it on with different items to see how it looks B) feel the material and hold it up to their neck or C) stop listening after they say “fifty dollars” and quickly ask about the receipt/return policy?

8. If you go into a bathroom and realize there’s not any soap, do you A) leave at once and find another bathroom B) decide you’ll rinse with water and seek out some hand sanitizer when you leave or C) fail to notice the lack of soap because it’s not on your bathroom requirement checklist.

9. When you’re mad at your significant other and you want them to guess why you’re upset, do you A) say, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” B) give some sarcastically-worded clues when they get close (“No, why would I ever be upset about a text message from your ex-boyfriend?”) or C) realize that it’s stupid for someone to have to guess why you’re upset and immediately get over it?

10. If you’re attending a wedding and see a 6-foot tall, 5-tiered wedding cake with painstakingly intricate floral designs subtly etched on each layer, do you wonder A) who made the cake and how much it costs B) if the icing is fondant or buttercream or C) if they’ll let you have three pieces if you pretend you’re getting some for other people?

If you answered "C" to any of the previous questions, you're well on your way to manhood. If you answered "C" to all of the previous questions, then congratulations! Your man card is in the mail!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hello? Hello?

Up until recently, my older brother and I worked at the same phone support company. We had to field calls from customers and help them with their software. It was a really boring job, so I tried to find ways to liven it up. That usually meant using a fake Scottish accent on my calls or seeing how loudly I could get the customer to speak by telling them I was having trouble hearing them. Most often, though, I liked to mess with my brother.

He and I sound exactly alike on the phone, so I would stand directly behind him and repeat whatever he said half a second after he said it. The customer usually didn’t think anything of it at first because it just sounded like the phone was echoing, but it really got to my brother. He usually couldn’t stop himself from laughing out loud. So I would perfectly imitate his laugh to continue the illusion. This is usually when it went bad. The customer would want to know why he was laughing for no reason and I would continue the echoing to make him laugh harder. So all the customer could hear was an unnecessary echoing laugh, which made it all the more hilarious for my brother. He usually had to put them on hold and make up some excuse for the laughter and echoing. More often than not he had to hang up. It wasn’t until I remembered that our managers record the calls that I stopped doing it. I didn’t get in trouble because it really did sound just like an echoing phone. But my brother got fired.

Top Ten Things My Older Brother Learned Recently

10. Collecting items that other people knowingly and purposely throw away is not a hobby. It's just gross.

9. Reduced fat peanut butter does not add a little touch of flavor to coffee. What it ends up doing is breaking up into pellet-sized clumps that you forget about until your last cold swig from the cup.

8. A tickle fight is not an acceptable locker room activity.

7. Attempting to perform a citizen's arrest can and will get your face punched.

6. Beggars can't be choosers, but a one-legged homeless person with a cardboard sign that says, "Help me get back on my foot" can earn some serious cash.

5. No matter how sarcastic you say it, the words "that's how I roll" will not make you seem funny or cool.

4. Even native speakers sound like they're still learning English when they try to correctly pronounce the word "sixths."

3. The average person does not know that the correct phrase is "I couldn't care less." Most people will say, "I could care less." And that doesn't make any sense.

2. Introducing your wife as your "first wife" is not appropriate.

1. You should never ask a person what their gender is.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Getcha Free On

I'm all about free stuff. Free shipping, free coupons, free meals. The meals are the ones I like most. And I don't mind eating other people's food if I know it's good. That being said, I have my rules.

My first rule is that I don't eat out of the trash. No matter how short a time food has been in the garbage or how well I know the original owner or how delicious the still-wrapped half-eaten cookie looks, I stop myself before reaching into the trash. I'm not sure if this rule exists because of my desire to avoid germs or my desire to avoid being caught. I refrain most likely because I don't want to be known as "The Forager" at the office... or at home... or at the city park.

My second rule is that I do not take food left over from others unless I know exactly how long it's been sitting out and I can trace its origins. For example, catered food that I can see being brought out of a just-finished lunch meeting... yes. Homemade meatloaf that I find at 4:59pm outside a dark conference room... no.

The last rule is the simplest. If it's traceable, edible, and free... I eat it. I can't pass up free stuff. And if it's a free meal (an older brother is paying, the company is catering, someone doesn't want the rest of their filet-o-fish) then I'm definitely in.

I even started walking the floors of my building at work to find fresh leftovers or catered wares. I would just walk each floor and find the break room. If I walked fast enough and only glanced, then it didn't look like I was poaching. But I put a stop to it recently. There's a very strange, very sinister-looking older gentleman who I ran into doing the same thing on numerous floors. Once he realized I was co-poaching his territory, he quickened his pace and leered at me through shifty eyes. He scares me enough for me to stop. So now I just ask people in the lunch room if they're going to finish their meals. It's just awkward because I ask as soon as they sit down.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Short Changed

A few years ago, I got married. I know, I know... I shouldn’t brag. But this is not about the proposal, the wedding, or the wife. This is about one of the simple gifts we received that brightened our lives. And embarrassed us.

We got some obviously re-gifted items from other newlyweds. We got the duplicate gifts from people who didn’t understand a registry. We got the baby shower gifts from the people who were confused about the announcement. We even got exactly what we needed and wanted. But the gift that sticks out in my mind was an unintentional fiasco. And those are the best kind.

My younger sister saw a pair of board shorts on sale at a department store a few weeks before my wedding. She knew we were going to the beach on our honeymoon, and she knew that I rarely participate in outdoor summer activities. (I need to maintain my copier-paper skin color, after all.) So she assumed I didn’t own a pair of board shorts and bought them for me as a little wedding gift. Needless to say, she was correct in her assumption. The last piece of swimming attire I owned was from the 2T - 5T section of Weiner’s.

It must be noted, for purposes of this story, that I could be considered by the average person to be a bit of a prude. I don’t drink, smoke, curse, or watch rated “R” movies. I like good, clean, silly humor. So any semblance of something to the contrary is an embarrassment for me. I don’t like to be associated with any of that other stuff.

Okay, so I happily packed my new blue board shorts and tore off the tags that explained how they “worked”. (Yes, that’s foreshadowing.) We got married and flew out to Florida to start our Disney-themed honeymoon. After a few days at Disney World, we headed off on our three-day Disney cruise. I wore the board shorts to the beach on the second day. We’re not really into the beach scene, as I explained before. So I just waded about waist high in the water for a few minutes, keeping my shirt on, and then came back up to sit down and relax. That’s when the board shorts started “working”. Apparently, these were the type of shorts that has a hidden pattern on them. And apparently this pattern only emerges when the shorts get wet. And apparently no matter how vigorously you try to towel dry them or how badly you wish they would, the silhouettes of naked women do not disappear until you get home and dry them in the dryer. Imagine my surprise and the shock to my new bride when we look down and see that boldly displayed on my shorts. It was a long walk to the taxi and a long ride back to the ship with 12 other tourists staring at me.

My younger sister has told everyone, including me, that she had no idea they had a pattern on them. The nice brother in me wants to believe her, but the realist in me sees the humor she would find in making a prude like me parade around with clothing-optional shadows on my legs.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Top Ten Dorky Things That Everybody Does

10. Secretly love a bad movie (i.e. - The Mask, Over the Top, or Weekend at Bernie's)

9. Get "Tubthumpin" or "I Saw the Sign" stuck in your head . . . and like it.

8. Try to beatbox.

7. Move the controller up really high when trying to jump over something or escape something in a video game.

6. Laugh at imitations of flatulence.

5. Watch old episodes of Full House and say the lines with the characters.

4. Use body language (hand gestures, head nods, etc.) when on the phone.

3. Sing along to the radio really loud by yourself, until someone pulls up next to you at a red light.

2. Air instruments (guitar, drums, piano, cowbell).

1. Buy a new CD, open the case and read along with the lyrics of the songs you haven't heard yet.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wham, Bam, Prank You, Man

I've probably spent about 75 percent of my life fighting the urge to play tricks on people. I constantly have to stop myself from hiding around corners or hanging fishing line across doorways. I guess it's just how my adolescent mind works. The problem is that I'm no longer an adolescent. So all of a sudden "silly" becomes "irresponsible", and "you could really hurt someone next time" turns to "that man is filing a grievance with the company." And that means a five minute "timeout" would become "mandatory leave without pay pending an investigation." So I have to be extra careful about who I mess with and how I mess with them nowadays.

The only outlet I have now is my older brother. We have an agreement that the only boundaries we must stop for in our prank wars are prison or death. That leaves a lot of room for creativity.

Here's an example:
My older brother went through my cell phone when I wasn't looking and saved his phone number as the name of my crazy ex-girlfriend. He just added a space at the end so it would look identical to the one I'd already saved in my phone. Then he text messaged me and said, "Why are you still hanging out with your brother? I told you that you needed to stop talking to him. I see your car at his house. And is that the blue shirt I got you for our anniversary?!" So I was genuinely freaked out when I came to the realization that I was being followed by a psychopath. I showed him the text message and he played along. He even looked out the blinds to see if he could see her car outside. He then sent me another text saying, "I see you guys looking out the window. I'll show you how crazy I am." Long story short, I needed to get him back for making me almost wet my pants.

So here's what I did....

I posted several items on craigslist for quick sale. Each of them was an amazing deal that I said needed to be gone as quickly as possible. One of them was a fender guitar for 40 dollars that I was "selling because I need cash immediately". Another was a two year-old mustang convertible for 500 dollars that I was "selling before moving out of the country". I then put his name and cell phone number on the advertisement with instructions to "only call after midnight because I sleep during the day due to a weird work schedule". I also posted, "If you couldn't reach me on my cell phone, call my home line and email me." Within two days, my older brother had 115 voicemails, 220 emails, and a broken cordless phone.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How to Look Like You Belong Somewhere

I wrote an article for eHow before they shut down user-submitted content.  I'm updating this post now because they're about to take my article down.  So this is for posterity (whatever that means).

How to Look Like You Belong Somewhere

Do you have a reason to be in an office building or other establishment that may not fly with security or reception? Follow these easy steps to ensure you look like you belong.

Things You'll Need:
White Name Badge
Cell phone
Pen with a company name on it
Glasses or safety goggles
Utility belt with keys, flashlight, pens, and clips attached

1. Walk in purposefully and follow an employee closely. Keep your clipboard at your side and your glasses in your pocket. If asked by security or reception for identification, flash your name badge quickly without missing a step. If they further inquire about identification, drop your pen towards their feet. When they bend to pick it up, run back out the door. Say a silent goodbye to your pen. NOTE: Do not roundhouse kick the person who is inquiring of you.

2. Once you've made it through the door, don't slow down or raise your head to look for signs. Just keep walking the direction most people are walking. If you need to stop and catch your bearings, pull your cell phone out of your pocket as if it is vibrating, and answer it. Say, "Hello? Yes, I just arrived. Certainly. Yes sir, I will be sure to do that. Alright. Bye." This will buy you some time to rotate on the spot and look around without arousing suspicion. Use that time to decide which direction you're headed.

3. Once you're in, put on your glasses or safety goggles and hold your clipboard at your hip with pen poised to write.

4. Touch the closest wall with your fingertips and look at where it meets the ceiling above. Then slowly write a short note on your clipboard. In the middle of writing, pause, slowly walk 7 paces, look at another part of the ceiling and begin writing again.

5. Sporadically answer your silent cell phone. Always refer vaguely to what you're doing. Example: "Yeah, I just finished that. I'm on section 3 of the checklist."

6. Find a warning sign or informational sign. Read it and "take notes". Write down your favorite color and your favorite animal. Then imagine your favorite animal being that color. Neat, huh?

7. Kick the carpet or squat and examine it. Mumble something about "quality" to yourself so it is the only discernable word to eavesdroppers. Use this time to look for loose change or paperclips. Again write something on your clipboard.

8. Ask a random person if they know where you can find Timothy Skondora. Make up a somewhat funny-sounding name. If you're feeling bold, ask for a ridiculously-named person. "Excuse me, do you know where I can find Sonoma Finkerbanasteen?" If they ask you to repeat the name, ask for someone else.

9. Check the echo effect in the longest hall you can find. Yell "Echo!" or "Testing!" repeatedly until someone notices. Then draw a picture of a moose on your clipboard.

10. Limit your time in the building to less than one hour. When it's time to leave, just walk out. Make sure to pad your pockets so no one notices that they're full of paperclips and loose change.

Tips & Warnings:
Don't do anything stupid or illegal. That's not the point. The point is just to pretend like you belong.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Just Shoot the Messenger

Apparently my siblings shouldn't be allowed to send text messages.

My older brother abbreviates everything, even things that don't have a common abbreviation. He does it so heavily that I feel like an NSA code breaker.

What he texts - "hdd 2 no. ill tda. neg5 w chll up thr. btr tk big jkt! tc. hlof ths wknd."
What he means - "Headed to Northern Illinois today. Negative 5 wind chill up there. I'd better take a big jacket! Take care. Have lots of fun this weekend."

I end up having to call him to find out what he's talking about. And since none of his text messages ever contain important information, I sound like a jerk for berating him about a well-wishing text.

But if there's one thing I can't handle, it's the one-word text. Nothing tells someone how little you care about their text message rates as a text that includes only the word "cool" or "ok". Add an interesting fact... or a link to your favorite website... or a hilarious joke. Something! Or just don't answer. When I get a one-word text, all I see is a nickel dropping into a storm drain.

My younger sister's texts are pretty bad, too. She just doesn't understand how the English language works. Her form of abbreviation is simply skipping the subject of each sentence. And she has some kind of issue with the words "you" and "your". Add in the accidentally-skipped letters, randomly-capitalized words, and ambiguous questions, and I don't have a chance at deciphering it.

What she texts - "am doing some clenng. Wan go thru old stuff fist. am her til Non. be her then?"
What she means - "I'm doing some cleaning. Do you want to go through some of your old stuff first? I'll be here until noon. Will you be here before then?"

My solution here is to just ignore it. My younger sister will eventually call if it's important enough. She knows not to rely on a text message for an answer. I hope there never comes a time when she texts me from the next room because she can't speak. I'll probably get a text that says, "am chkng. know himelik?" and she'll be doomed.