25 Things You May Not Know About Me

Recently I’ve been “tagged” as a recipient of a couple of my friends’ and relations’ “25 things about me, myself and I” Facebook postings. I don’t know if you’ve seen these – the idea is, you write down 25 things about yourself that others may find interesting, then send it off to 25 of your friends with the request that they also compile their own list of 25 things, then send it to 25 of their friends, and on and on. Now, I’m not against people getting to know each other better, but I have to say that I’m physically and morally unable to respond to any, any on-line request to do something and then send it to several of my unsuspecting cyberpeers. I don’t care if the e-mail reads, “Hey Jason, this is your cousin. Grandma’s dead  – please forward this the rest of the family.” Sorry, I ain’t sending it.

But, as I say, I do like the idea. So here, in blog form, are 25 things that you may not know about me. I promise that you are not required to send anyone anything after you read it.

1. I hate it when people with unique names complain about others misspelling or mispronouncing them. I mean, what do you expect? Your name is Krintinw, for God’s sake. Get over it.

2. Every now and then I slip the word “anus” into conversations with mixed company just to get a laugh.

3. If I were a multi-millionaire and didn’t have to work and could choose one thing to do with my time, every day for the rest of my life, I would choose to make soup.

4. I once struck a very large, muscular man over the head with an empty beer bottle because he had tossed my Sunday paper all over the kitchen floor.

5.  I find “America’s Funniest Home Videos” to be truly disturbing. I fear that some day an advanced species of aliens will find these tapes and mistake them for historical records of our race. They would think that the thousands of grainy, poorly-lit video clips of overweight men getting hit in the crotch by small boys with whiffle bats and grooms passing out at their weddings represent everything that humankind had accomplished. They would think that. And they’d be right.

6. I came up with a really funny line for a movie: “With friends like that, who needs Yemenis?” (Insert laughter here.) I don’t have the context yet, but mark my words – I will slip that into a screenplay one day if it’s the last thing I do.

7. I love being around people, but only if nobody knows me and I don’t have to chat. Y’know, like at the mall or at a funeral.

8. The longest I’ve ever spent in jail cell was under three hours. I mean, seriously, does that even count?

9. I always wished that I had one glass eye. Back in high school – I guarantee that I would have gotten more chicks.

10. Sometimes, when in a crowded room, I look out over all the faces around me, each with a different story to tell, different life experiences, different loves. And I think: in a hundred and twenty years, everyone in this room will be dead.

11. I am often overcome with the desire to hug little children. And by “hug,” I mean, “push down and laugh at.”

12. Once, when I was managing a kitchen at a Baptist Camp and Conference Center, I let all of my teenaged staff blow off steam by throwing pudding at me out back by the dumpster. Later I found out that that was illegal in Utah.

13. I don’t know how to throw a punch. This genuinely bothers me – how am I supposed to defend my family? By falling on the floor and curling up in the fetal position? Sure, that may have worked back in college, but it’s not going to cut it if my home is ever set upon by fricken’ zombies, now is it?

14. I’m really bad at pretending to be on the phone. All I can think of to say is “Mmm-hmm…..yep….sure….really?….mmm-hmmm….” It’s really embarrassing, and I’m almost always caught.

15. I will never, ever bungee jump. And if you have – I think you’re a jerk.

16. I really loved that show “Friends.” One day I remember thinking, this is the perfect show – everyone here is so funny! It’s like getting to hang out with your best, wackiest and most attractive friends every week! I felt truly happy to be around them. And then I thought, hey…that’s why they call this show “Friends!” That was a profound day.

17. Some days, when I need inspiration, I pick up one of my favorite books, “Critique of Judgement” by the German (then Prussian) philosopher Immanuel Kant. There’s one part that always makes me smile: “It is then one thing to say, ‘the production of certain things of nature or that of collective nature is only possible through a cause which determines itself to action according to design’; and quite another to say, ‘I can according to the peculiar constitution of my cognitive faculties judge concerning the possibility of these things and their production, in no other fashion than by conceiving for this a cause working according to design, i.e. a Being which is productive in a way analogous to the causality of an intelligence.’ In the former case I wish to establish something concerning the Object, and am bound to establish the objective reality of an assumed concept; in the latter, Reason only determines the use of my cognitive faculties, conformably to their peculiarities and to the essential conditions of their range and their limits. Thus the former principle is an objective proposition for the determinant Judgement, the latter merely a subjective proposition for the reflective Judgement, i.e. a maxim which Reason prescribes to it.”  I read that and I’m like, OMG! That is SO how I’ve been feeling lately!!!

18. Once when I was late for work I pushed over an older, handicapped woman using a walker to get through the turnstile in the lobby of my building.

19.  I think that those boxy Scion cars are the dumbest-looking things on earth. The fact that people didn’t roundly laugh this embarrassment off the streets and into the land of the Edsel, Gremlin and Pinto ranks, for me, as the second biggest mass failure of judgment in the history of mankind. Right behind the reelection of George W. Bush.

20. When I’m alone at home eating dinner, I usually lick my plate clean of every last trace of food. Then, after I’ve finished my wine, leaned back in my chair, exhaled and patted my belly with content, I get up and put some pants on.

21. My wife and I once had an argument: she said that if she had to make a choice between saving the last two members of a near-extinct species of animal or a random human being from perishing in a burning building, she’d save the animals. I thought that was ludicrous, though I had to concede that given the ultimatum of saving either a human from a burning building or the last known copies of all of Shakespeare’s works (sonnets included), I would chose the latter. What did we learn from this? That we’re both assholes.

22. It just recently occurred to me that Marvin, the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and A.A Milne’s Eeyore are the same character.

23. Sometimes I look at all the infrastructure around me – the buildings, the highways, the industry – and I think, if it were up to me to do all this stuff it would never exist. We’d still be living in freaking tents.

24. Once I looked around the room and experienced a moment of complete, all-knowing clarity about the universe. I knew in that one moment that everything that had ever happened to me had led to that moment; that everything was as it should and will be, that everything around me had a meaning and a purpose, and that no matter what happened – even the darkest of tragedies and ugliest of horrors – everything was going to be okay. And I’m sure it had nothing to do with all that Ecstasy I took.

25. I cry during the scene in Jurassic Park when the Tyrannosaurus Rex is attacking the kids in the overturned Jeep. I mean, really, Spielberg, give those poor kids a break.  They’re just kids – they don’t need this kind of shit.

Let’s see…yep, that’s twenty five!  Toodles!

Flying to Mexico…

Well this time tomorrow I’ll be relaxing comfortably in our hotel room in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We’ll be spending a week there, which I hear is plenty of time to put back on all that weight that I so carefully lost after Christmas. Local folklore has it that there’s a restaurant nearby that serves pretty much nothing but shrimp, shrimp, and shrimp – so it looks like I’ll be eating a lot of shrimp, then. That is, if I’m able to put down the tequila long enough to shovel some solid food down the hatch – a contingency I’m fully prepared for, since I’m sure shrimp and tequila are not, in any given dish, mutually exclusive.

We leave LAX tomorrow at 11-ish in the morning, which, if I get up at nine-ish, should give me just enough time to pack before heading out the door. This is, of course, in stark contrast to my wife Lizzy, who finished her packing sometime back in the late 90’s.  We’re different like that. I’ve even gotten the impression – however vague – these last few days that my refusal to pack early has been making her a bit uncomfortable. I mean, it’s probably just in my head, but we’d be having a conversation about something, and I’d be mid-way through a brilliant verbal treatise on, say, why I believe that Jiffy Lube should have more home and garden-related magazines in their waiting room, and when I’d look away from the mirror to face her she’d be gnawing nervously at the skin around her thumb-nails and tapping her feet, her eyes darting back and forth to the empty suitcase on the floor by the bed.

I try to tell her that she should be happy about my procrastination. As any man worth his salt knows, there are three specific qualities that render any member of the male sex suspicious, and they are: if he doesn’t curse like a sailor after a few drinks, if he actually wants to have kids, and if he packs earlier than the morning of a trip. If the first is true of your man than something’s wrong, if the second is true he can not be trusted under any circumstances, and if the third is true – well then, all I can say is I warned you.

So anyway, I’m off tomorrow morning and won’t be online for the week. I know, I know, but dry your eyes – I’ll be back on the 20th of Jan, and I’m sure I’ll be bursting at the seams to write all about our trip.  Until then!


Winter is Bad, But Spring is Worse

If you’re an old friend or family member, chances are you’re reading this from somewhere in beautiful, frozen New England. In Fact, it’s January, and thousands of people just like you are sitting on their floor in the corner, rocking back and forth with their heads in their hands and muttering something along the lines of “…m-m-make it stop…please no more…” Okay, so maybe I’m doing that too, but for me it’s just a natural reaction to watching cable news. For you and anyone else unfortunate enough to live in a Northern or Midwestern state it’s most likely a desperate act of prayer – and let’s face it, you ain’t praying for peace in Darfur. You’re praying that winter would just go away. You’re sick of shoveling snow. Sick of helping your hitherto ignored neighbors get their cars out of the snow. If you’re a male – and I dare you to prove me wrong on this one – you’re sick of getting yelled at by the women in your lives for tracking said snow throughout the house.  It’s okay, you can admit it. I’ve been there myself.

Lizzy and I live in Southern California now, so let’s face it – I’ve got nothing to complain about. Sure, we have our share of problems out here – the 98% chance that a major earthquake will kill us all in the next 27 minutes, for example – but snow is not one of them. Still, I’ve never been known to let “having nothing to complain about” get in the way of complaining like a freakin’ banshee, and I’ve taken to griping loudly, and often, about the fact that some days the temperature dares to fall below 60 degrees. I mean to say, 60 degrees, for God’s sake!

The funny thing is I’m not such a big fan of spring, either. While most of you are practically itching for the inevitable warming trend to turn all that cold, white stuff back into the liquid it used to be before it got all uppity, it might help to know that there are a few things about the warm weather that aren’t all fun and games. So rather than dwell on all the “why I love the spring” clichés, I thought I would provide a short list of what there is to dislike about the dreaded season of pastels. Y’know, just to make you feel better.

First of all, there are flowers everywhere. And I don’t just mean in those vast, rural fields that we’re always reading about in children’s books and Nursing Home catalogues. I mean everywhere. You’ll be walking along the street, perhaps on your way to that surprisingly inexpensive Asian massage you saw in the back of the newspaper or otherwise minding your own business, and hello!  The damn things are all around you, coming out of the ground, being thrown at you by street people, beckoning you from stores, and pretty much guilting you into buying or picking some for your wife, your mother, your girlfriend, or all three. It’s a wonder any of us get out of this season with our sinuses intact. And I don’t even have allergies (unless you count my visceral aversion to movies starring Ethan Hawke.)

My second complaint is all that daylight. Seriously overrated. The end of Daylight Saving (leave the last “s” off, people) Time doesn’t come quickly enough, as far as I’m concerned. I love knowing that by dinner the last, faint glimmer of light will be fading from the sky, dissolving slowly yet inexorably into darkness, like Jim Carrey’s career. I just like the dark, and frankly I don’t think I should have to see other human beings after six o’clock PM.  Most people disagree with me on this one, but it’s really quite simple, if a little bit solipsistic: when I can’t see other people, they don’t exist.  And while there may still be large mobs of neighbors, palm tree pruners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, FBI agents, and angry members of the girl’s high school swim team jumping around out there just itching to bother me after nightfall, the point is that without all that sunlight I can’t see them bothering me. Listen – if I want other things to be visible I’ll turn on the lights. That’s what they’re there for.

Another thing that bothers me is the candy. I’ve never had much of a taste for sweets, a semi-annual craving for a pint of Phish Food notwithstanding, but occasionally, after a long summer of eating only cheeseburgers, corn on the cob and freshly grilled salmonella, even I’m excited for the coming holiday sugar-fest. Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pie, Christmas cookies – bring it on, I say. By Valentine’s Day, however, I’m sorta’ done with the whole candy thing. And come Easter – well, I do not exaggerate when I tell you that even the distant scent of the tiniest chocolate bunny will send me running to the bathroom, clutching my abdomen and generally suffering through what Poe, in his brilliant though under-read seafaring novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, called “manifest rebellion of stomach.” The fact that much of this spring candy has been painstakingly crafted to resemble some small, defenseless newborn field animal only intensifies the revulsion.

So there you go. Add to the above the incessant cacophony of bird chatter, the profusion of psychopathic bunny rabbits leaping out from around every corner and the fact that the biggest spring holiday is celebrated not with perfunctory gift-giving or mindless binge drinking (yeah!) but by going to church, and it’s a no-brainer. Keep winter here, please, and I for one will be happier.

Just as long as I live in Los Angeles County.

A Confession…

A couple of weeks ago I had an idea.  Okay, so that’s nothing to write home about, I know, but this wasn’t just any idea.  This was the kind of idea that makes one call one’s wife up from work and tell her to get on a train. And no, I’m not talking about a train out of town, either, wise guy – I’m talking about having her actually come to me. It was that kind of an idea. It came out of nowhere, changing my mood from so-so to amazing in the blink of an eye and setting my heart a’beatin’. And if, when dialing my wife’s cell number, I wasn’t actually quivering with childlike excitement, it would not be too much to say that was filled to the gills with the stuff.

“Honey, I have an idea,” I said, and these next words were like pure joy: “Drop what you’re doing. We’re going to the mall.”

The mall. My wife, Lizzy, has never been one for malls. Her indifference and occasional aversion to the world of mass indoor retail defies some stereotypes, sure, but perhaps I’m the real anomaly here. I don’t just enjoy malls. I love them, and as we all know, guys aren’t supposed to do that. We’re supposed to look upon malls as we would a trip to the proctologist, or, even worse, to our first hypno-birthing class. Well not me. And no, I’m not gay (why would you even think that?), but then I’ve never really fit in with all the typical straight-guy stereotypes anyway: I like sports but hate competitive machismo. I like going to the gym but can’t stand the sweaty tank-topped guys there, grunting violently and lugging comically large containers of water from bench to bench (I’ve started seeing them with whole gallon jugs, and really now, that’s just silly). I love cooking, decorating the house and hosting dinner parties. Hell, I often find myself up alone in the middle of the night, drinking Skyy vodka and listening to Rufus Wainwright through my headphones while my wife is asleep in the next room.

Okay, so that last one is pretty gay. But how am I to explain an otherwise straight guy loving the mall? I hardly ever actually buy much when I’m there, but am instead content to wander from store to store, browsing products I never plan on purchasing, and watching people I’d never want to interact with, all while being bombarded with music I can’t stand. Perhaps this inclination is an old vestige of my youth, of teen years spent roaming the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, NH where my friends and I would stalk girls, deliberately annoy and embarrass adults (the timeless “sneezing swear words” trick is a hoot, isn’t it?), and otherwise make asses of ourselves. Twenty years later things are of course different; I never follow girls into stores and only occasionally swear loudly at strangers, but still I wonder. Why do I find this environment entertaining?

Perhaps I should clarify: I do occasionally buy things. There’s always some ghastly birthday card to be bought, some votives that only Yankee Candle can supply, and let’s face it, that Express card isn’t going to max itself out, is it? And don’t forget the bookstore, where I’ve been known to loiter for hours around the Photography section (it’s not porn if it’s in black and white, right?), only to move on to Cooking (Hello, Nigella Lawson!) before finally taking home some random hardcover. And while the content of said New Release would most likely be of no discernible interest to me, you can bet your ass the cover art would be really, really cool.

Plus, let’s not forget the dining – well, maybe dining isn’t quite the right word for it. There’s “dining” and there’s just plain eating. The difference? Well, if you’re doing it under a big neon sign that reads FOOD COURT, then chances are you’re just eating. And if you’ve seen some of the regular mall denizens waddling around with their equally rotund brood in tow, then you know that there’s a whole lotta’ eatin’ going on. But that, too, is only part of it.

I remember a time about eight years ago, when I was living a bit west of Boston (“a bit” being about 50 miles) in a small, $300 dollar-a-month studio apartment. Suffice to say I lived alone, and suffice to say that by “alone” I mean with my cat. Her name, not that it should matter, was Egg Sandwich. Well then, as now, I loved to go to the grocery store almost every day to gather ingredients for dinner. My fridge was only a bit bigger than those dorm-sized ones, so I wouldn’t have been able to buy more than a couple of day’s worth of groceries, but I probably would have shopped daily anyway.

Anyway this one afternoon I found myself at Market Basket wandering the aisles. Up and down I zigzagged, basket in hand, waiting for the right product to jump out at me. Nothing, however, inspired me. What did I want for dinner? What hadn’t I had in a while? What did I need?

After almost a half-hour it hit me: I didn’t need a thing. I had no desire to buy anything there. I didn’t care about dinner that night; in fact, I wasn’t even hungry. I just liked to hang around the grocery store because I WAS A LOSER WITH NO FRIENDS. And that, in nutshell, is most likely why I like to go to the mall, and it’s the oldest reason there is: I have nothing better to do. Being married surely doesn’t change that, nor does being a father. And neither do the dozens of attractive, intelligent, witty and well-employed friends currently beating a path to my door just to say hi. Well, that is, they wouldn’t if they existed.

Which, I guess, they don’t.

Sigh. Now where are my keys…

Hello there…

Hey there  – I’ve been thinking about blogging for a while now, and after seeing many of my friends jump on this bandwagon I’ve decided it’s about damned time to give it a go. I’m not yet sure what I plan to contribute to this, but I expect it’ll take on several forms: a way to keep distant family members up to date about my (and my immediate family’s) life, a venue to rant about everything from politics to everyday annoyances, and, especially, a means to get my writing going. I do hope you come along, and please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts!