Tuesday, November 30, 2004

When Bad Things Happen To Good Shirts

I have been feeling for about 10 days as though an overweight, dust-covered shi-tzu has taken up residence in my sinus cavity, so this morning I finally summoned the intelligence to make an appointment with my doctor. Based on past experience, I figured my malady was a pretty cut-and-tried sinus infection – shouldn’t take but two minutes for the doctor to look into my ears, write me an illegible prescription for a Z-Pack and send me on my way.

I arrived at the doctor’s office 15 minutes early. After reading two issues of Entertainment Weekly, my gaunt, balding, children’s-charity-tie-wearing doctor burst through the door and into examination room two.

“How’s it going, Daniel?” he asked. I was under no impression that he actually knew my name. He saw it in my chart.

“I’m OK. How are you doing?”

“Better than you from what I can tell,” he said.

I said nothing. I just waited for him to start pushing down on my sinuses and perhaps dangle a rawhide chew toy up my nose to lure out the offending shi-tzu. But before he could begin, you know, doctoring, he looked up at me and gave me a once-over – the kind you might expect if you walked into a Mercedes-Benz dealer wearing nothing but a winning smile and a cock ring.

“Wow,” he said. “That is a really nice shirt.”

(What? What the fuck did he just say to me?)

“Thanks,” I said. “Eddie Bauer.”

“Eddie Bauer, huh?” he said. “Wow. I mean that is a really, really nice shirt.”

And with that my doctor walked over and began to feel my clothing – WHILE I WAS WEARING IT! He ran his index finger across the seam stitching on my shoulder. He grabbed a piece of the fabric on my sleeve between his thumb and forefinger and rolled it back and forth like a thumb-sucking kid copping a touch-buzz from the ear of his teddy bear as he falls asleep. He ran the back of his hand along the wooden buttons.

(If he kisses me, I am so fucking out of here.)

At this point, I was completely freaked out. But the little four-year-old inside of me thought if I didn’t sit still I would have to get a shot and I really didn’t want a shot. So just sat there, staring straight ahead, letting the doctor get his jollies from my starched white Eddie Bauer button-down shirt, which I will never wear again.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shirt quite like this one,” he said with kind of a glassed-over look on his face, the same look you see on the face of a porn star just after the money shot. “It’s so strong and firm. Very well-constructed, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Strong. Firm.”

(Kind of like the bottom of the Timberland hiking boot on my right foot, which is going straight up your ass if you don’t BACK UP right now, you sick, sick freak.)

I needed to change the subject immediately or face the very genuine possibility that my doctor was going to ask me to remove my underpants so he could begin his examination of my sinuses with a closer look at my butthole. I recalled – in a moment of absolute heterosexual, woman-loving terror – that he and I are both hockey players.

“So,” I said, “have you, um, scored any goals lately?”

With that, the glaze vanished from his eyes and he was a human being again. He snapped out of his cotton-fetish-driven haze and, lo and behold, began to examine my sinuses. Never did get an answer to the hockey question, but I didn’t really need one. I just wanted to get my prescription and run like the wind.

Didn’t I ask you to remind me to find a female doctor?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Thank You. Please Drive Around.

My son’s birthday was two and a half months ago but it wasn’t until this weekend that we finally got around to assembling one of his gifts – a city with roads and buildings and traffic signals for his toy cars to cruise. It took Hot Wife and I a total of two man hours to put the city together, what with all of the stickers and moving parts and pieces of gray plastic that snapped together only with the application of brute force and, one occasion, the blunt end of a ball-peen hammer.

One of the buildings on the outskirts this little plastic city is a replica of a McDonalds, complete with a dangerous little playground out front and a flunky high school kid with catastrophic, puss-spewing acne standing at the drive-thru window. It occurred to me as I snapped the little golden arches onto the top of the red plastic roof that if the makers of the toy were going for absolute realism, they fell painfully short. Note the following shortcomings:

1) If there is going to be a little plastic McDonalds, shouldn’t a little plastic liposuction clinic also be part of this fantasy city? After all, who is going to suction the fat from the necks, backs and spare tires of the Big-Mac-devouring, Shamrock-shake-guzzling, French-fry-inhaling, McSalad-shaker-shaking people of this town when they wake up at age 35 and discover that they can no longer fit into their die-cast Ford Mustangs without first lathering their hips with Crisco?

2) Where does the god damned therapist live? Unless Dr. Feelgood has an office in the car wash (highly doubtful), there is no place in town for our overweight population to turn when the aforementioned awakening comes to pass and the troubled masses of Fat Ass Land are forced to confront that they have spent too many years anesthetizing their horror over living in a plastic city by engaging in torrid affairs with The Hamburglar (“rubble-rubble-rubble”) and shoveling down Filet O’ Fishes like tartar sauce was heroin and they were Rick James.

3) Perhaps it’s just a simple oversight on the part of the toy’s designers, but there is no airport in this God-forsaken city, which means none of its people will be flying on Southwest Airlines, which means none of them will be able to read my article on the legendary old burger joints of Los Angeles in the December issue of Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine. That’s just criminal.

4) Hello? Starbucks?

5) There’s no supermarket and I happen to know from recent experience that eating a steady diet of McGriddles necessitates the acquisition of a variety of common grocery items, including laxatives, analgesics and the occasional item of adult incontinence couture. If these people don’t have access to such basic gastrointestinal crutches, there is likely to be a river of little plastic people shit cascading down 1 McDonalds Road, overwhelming the poor fire engine with the chipped red paint and submerging the black Trans Am, T-top and all.

I trust that the next iteration of this toy will be more accurate. In the meantime, I’ll have a Big Mac combo with a Diet Coke. And Super Size it, please.

Free to a Good Home: The Germ That Has Burrowed Into My Sinuses and Made My Life Hell for A Week

As a service to my loyal readers (most of whom live in Canada, which I just don’t get), I am offering free to a good home the insidious bug that has taken up residence in behind my forehead.

The Evans Head Bug comes in its own handy carrying case – your head – and is the perfect way to show your loved ones you wish them the very best this holiday season.

[Visual: Deathly ill middle-aged man hugging his wife under the tree on Christmas morning. “Oh, hodey,” he says. “It’s just what I wadted. (Hack. Hack. Sniff.) My very owd Evads Head Cold. Ah-choo!”]

If your child has asked for dizziness, headaches, congestion and coughing this Christmas, The Evans Head Bug can wipe out your shopping in one fell swoop. And if your honey’s wants sleepless nights, sneezing, a sore throat and a raspy voice for Hanukkah, well, Mazel Tov. Here it is: the perfect gift.

What’s more, there’s no need to make a mess with wrapping paper or hard-to-handle holiday ribbons this year. The Evans Head Bug can be delivered merely by carrying out one’s daily life. I’ll arrange to visit your location and sneeze on a doorknob or spray a snot rocket on your loved one’s pillow case. The rest is up to his immune system. It really is that simple!

[Visual: Young girl lying in bed with a thermometer in her mouth. “Mommy, daddy, thank you for my Evans Head Bug. (Barfs into a bedside bucket. Wipes excess from her mouth with sleeve of pajamas) This is the best Hanukkah ever! (Belches)]

But wait! There’s more!

Act now and you’ll also receive three empty containers of Thera-Flu cold medicine used by Daniel Evans ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Act now. Operators are standing by (although they may step away from time to time to blow their noses and try to clear the thick mucous from their vocal chords).

Void where prohibited. Restrictions may apply.

Little Debbie and Her Flying Bagels of Death

I have a big sister named Debbie. She lives in San Francisco with her genius pediatric cancer specialist husband who plays the guitar and her four-year-old son whose giggle absolutely cracks me up and her one-year-old daughter who is so cute and cuddly and perfect that I just want to pick her up and put her in my pocket and nibble on her cheeks for breakfast.

I don’t get to see my big sister and her family very often, but I saw her twice during the past week. We went to Starbucks on Saturday and while the barista was making decaf soy gingerbread lattes for our whole family, I told Debbie what a Dirty Sanchez is. Then we went to Trader Joe’s and she bought something called pumpkin butter, which falls just after llama shit and just before pig piss on the list of things I would want in my mouth.

Once, when we were teenagers, Debbie and I were having a typical brother-sister argument (I think I was ragging her about what a shitty flute player she was) and I said something especially mean and she chucked a frozen, stale bagel at me. It hit me in the eye, and I now believe you never really know how good a pitcher’s fastball is until it beans you in the melon. I was pissed, but I got Debbie back several years later when I recounted that story in my toast at her wedding and told her new husband that if there was one piece of advice I could give him about Debbie it’s that he should duck.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Category 5 Adulthood

When I was a scrawny, gangly kid (as opposed to the scrawny, gangly grown-up I am today), my family and I took a trip to Lake Tahoe, along the northern border between California and Nevada. During this trip my folks decided to take my sister and I on a rafting trip down the nearby Truckee River. This represented a significant departure for us, a family generally disinclined to participate in any activity more physically demanding than a game of Boggle.

The rafting adventure began harmlessly enough, which is to say we all got into the raft without drowning. We slowly drifted down the river, occasionally steering the raft with an oar and comforting one another as the fear of drowing washed over us. We craned our necks back in forth in the orange life vests, staring at the scenery and noshing on tuna sandwiches as we coasted. Then suddenly, to the surprise and disapproval of everyone in the raft, the Truckee River turned into a Category 5 rapid and the Evans family was immersed in a struggle for its collective life.

The river became choppy and rough. I looked at my dad, who looked at my mom, who looked at my sister and me with a face that seemed to say, “Well, it’s been fun, kids. We’re all going to die now.” A family in a raft near ours overturned in the splashing nightmare of the rapids. My folks struggled mightily to keep our raft right-side-up and away from the jagged rocks that would most certainly have been the instruments of our death. I imagined the headline in the paper the next day would read, "Oy Vey! Physically Retarded Jewish Family Drowns in Truckee River Disaster; Should Have Stuck To Boggle."

Ultimately, through some stroke of luck I will never be able to explain (perhaps it was our Lord and Savior, Barbara Streisand, having mercy on our souls), we made it through the rapids and escaped with our lives. Then we all rushed back to the hotel to change our underpants. We spent the rest of the trip watching The Jazz Singer on Spectravision and never went on another vacation again.

As time goes by, I see that being an adult is a lot like that rafting trip. Everything started out so smoothly and serenely. I got a job. I met a wonderful woman. We got married. We went to Europe. We took walks on the beach. The world was paradise – smooth and serene and beautiful.

And then, without warning, experiences like last night turn that serenity into a hellstorm.

At 4:26 a.m., Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son called out to my wife that he had wet the bed. Hot Wife dutifully threw the covers off of herself and dragged her tired body into his room to strip the pee-soaked sheets, hose the child down and tuck him into a freshly made bed.

I won’t lie. I was thrilled to remain in the warm, cozy confines of our flannel sheets while Hot Wife went about her business. But my joy was completely crushed when she returned a moment later.

“Danny,” she said, “the dog took a dump on the carpet.”

That would be the new carpet. The carpet we just had installed a month ago. The carpet I mortgage my right testicle to afford. The carpet that replaced the carpet so stained and soiled with dog piss and shit stains that it looked like it had lined the floor of a kennel instead of a modest single family dwelling.

My first thought: I’m going to kill that dog. Right now. Where’s my Louisville Slugger?

My second thought: Shit! I’d better clean that poop before it stains the carpet and I have to mortgage the other nard to replace this carpet, too.

The second thought won out. So there I was at 4:31 in the morning, picking up dog shit with a wad of paper towels while my wife was in the next room pulling pee-stained sheets from our son’s bed.

And suddenly I was in the category 5 rapids of the Truckee River again.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Check This Out

The market nearest Evans World Headquarters recently installed a self-checkout station, presumably to make the process of purchasing adult diapers or douche bags more anonymous for those who choose not to discuss the proper application of such items with their fellow shoppers. The concept of the station is remarkably simple – you scan your items, you bag them, you pay and you leave.

I needed four items: kitchen garbage bags, bananas, chips and dip. I gathered my goods and schlepped my basket to the self-checkout station. After a thorough once-over of the unit, I felt sufficiently familiar with it and pushed the button that said “Begin Checkout.” A very pleasant electronic female voice squirted out of the machine.

“Please scan your first item,” she said.

I grabbed the garbage bags from the basket, spun the box around four or five times until I located the little bar code, and then let it hover over the airspace of the scanner. I swiped it back and forth across the scanner a few times, waiting for the beep.

“Please scan your first item,” she said again.

“I’m trying!” I said, marginally panicked.

After another pass or two over the scanner, I finally heard the beep.

“Four dollars and ninety-nine cents,” she said. “Please scan your next item.”

I put the trash bags into a plastic grocery bag, then grabbed the Ruffles from my shopping basket and ran it across the scanner. Once. Twice, Three times. Four times. No beep.

“Please scan your next item,” she said.

“Shut up, bitch. I’m trying,” I said.

Growing increasingly agitated and feeling as though my dreams of a career in supermarket checking were atrophying in front of me, I continued trying to scan then chips. Still no beep.

“Please scan your next item,” she said.

“I heard you!” I said. “Zip it!”

I put the chips down, hoping that perhaps there was a problem with the bar code instead of the more likely problem: user error. I grabbed the dip and tried scanning it, but the same dismal failure ensued. I scanned and scanned and scanned, and nothing happened. At this point, my blood was boiling. A line of Thanksgiving shoppers was forming behind me, waiting to be similarly embarrassed by this stupid fucking machine of death.

“Please scan your next item,” she said again.

“OK, you chatty hag,” I said, throwing the dip back into the basket. “Here comes my next item right now.”

With that I unbuttoned my jeans, pulled them down to my ankles and put my bare ass right on the scanner. I shook it back and forth to make sure the evil woman inside the machine got a good look at my caboose.

“Here!” I said, riding the scanner and screaming at the top of my lungs. “Here’s the next item! Right here! Is it on sale? Huh? Huh? Huh?”

Beep.

“One dollar and forty-nine cents,” she said. “Please scan your next item.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Burn, Barney, Burn

We explained the concept of fire to Barney’s Biggest Fan last night. She may never forgive us.

The Southern California temperature had dipped to an intolerably frigid 60 degrees and I thought it was a good time to clear the cobwebs from the fireplace and spark up a Duraflame log, lest my family and I be reduced to putting on long sleeves. Not 30 seconds after I set the log alight, Barney’s Biggest Fan ambled over to the brick fireplace in our living room and gazed into the flames.

You know what came next: she moved purposefully toward the flames, clearly wanting to touch them like Peter Gabriel told her to (“I wanna touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes.”).

The situation was completely under control. I was going to let her get close enough to the fire to feel the heat and then tell her that the feeling is called “hot” and that’s why we don’t get too close to fire. But when Hot Wife entered the room and saw our daughter close enough to the fire to be cast in an orangey glow (but not close enough to, say, make a s’more), she freaked.

“Honey! No! Hot!” Hot Wife said. She then threw me a disdainful look that told me unequivocally that any hope I may have had for holiday nookie was as dead as William Howard Taft.

So we went with The China Palace Approach – yelling monosyllabic words at the child as if she were deaf, just like my father-in-law yells “Sweet and Sour Chicken!” at the waiter at China Palace, believing that the man will better understand English if it is hollered at the top of an American man’s lungs.

We asked her if she understood.

“Yes,” she said. “Hot. Hot.”

She then turned and marched straight toward the fireplace again.

“Noooooooo,” I said. “Hot. That’s fire. Hot. No touching.”

“Hot,” she parroted back. “No. Hot.”

She then turned and marched straight toward the fireplace again.

At this point, given my extensive parenting experience, college education and spectacular command of the obvious, I could see that The China Palace Approach wasn’t getting through to the child (I do provide parenting consultations on the side. Call me.). It was time to provide a more visual lesson.

I marched over to the toy box, fished for the stuffed Barney doll – my daugher’s holy grail – and returned with the little dinosaur. Without a word, I held Barney up to my daughter’s face and then tossed the little fucker into the fireplace. The asbestos-stuffed dinosaur burst into flames and vanished faster than a pack of clove cigarettes at a senior prom. I then turned to my daughter.

“See?” I asked. “Hot. Fire. No touching.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Go On With Your Bad Self, White Boy!

Rappin’ Davey W e-mailed me this morning (all the way from Maui!) and asked me why I haven’t yet written a blog entry about our brief stint as rap stars in the late 1980s. The answer, of course, is that I am a very serious scribe who chooses very important subject matter (like how to tackle raging constipation with low-grade explosives). Besides that, I don’t take requests like some cheesie Bar Mitzvah band where the lead singer plays “Sunrise, Sunset” on the accordion during the candle-lighting ceremony.

But since Dave sent me money (all the way from Maui!) to buy lottery tickets and I spent most of it on McGriddles and stool softeners, I guess I owe it to him to tell the story. So, Dave, this long distance dedication is going out to you (all the way to Maui!):

When Dave, his brother Kevin and I were counselors at a summer camp called Camp Alonim (which I believe is Hebrew for “We’re out of toilet paper so you’ll have to use a leaf”), there was a regular Saturday night talent show attended by the whole camp. Kids and counselors alike would cowboy up to perform various acts each week – acts like playing Havah Negila on the cello or belching the entire Hebrew alphabet.

Dave, Kevin and I decided to write and perform a rap about our summer camp experience, modeling our act after our favorite MCs of the day: the Beastie Boys, the Fat Boys, Slick Rick, Public Enemy and the late rapper who chose to refer to himself as Easy Motherfuckin’ E. Dave and Kevin wrote the words to our rap and I practiced what was a prerequisite element of any listenable rap song in those days: the beat box. For those with a low hip-hop IQ, a beat box is performed by putting one’s mouth right up against the microphone and making a series of noises that sounds conspicuously like a dying transmission.

Psss-pihuh-pssstpsst-prffff-pssst, uhprrrrf-pahpur-psssst.

And so on.

As showtime drew near, we were as giddy as 10-year-old girls at a Debbie Gibson concert. What we lacked in street cred and simple musical inclination was compensated by absolute glee and complete ignorance of our tone-deafness. We huddled backstage. Dave and Kevin whispered through the lyrics once more. I just sat there listening, wondering if this was going to turn out like that scene in The Jazz Singer when a big shot record producer hears Neil Diamond perform and offers him a record deal on the spot.

When the curtain rose, all we could see was the glare of the bright auditorium lights shining down on us. The crowed was completely hushed (the predictable after-effect of the act before us, which featured seven-year-old boys from Bunk 2 doing arm farts to the tune of the Israeli National Anthem).

I took a deep breath, grabbed the mic and started grunting out a funky beat box, like so:

Psss-pihuh-pssstpsst-prffff-pssst, uhprrrrf-pahpur-psssst.

And so on.

Then came Dave and Kevin with the lyrics, like so:

Well, I’m Rappin’ Davey W. from Alonim
I’m the best darn rapper that you’ve ever seen.

And so on. (Solid gold, isn’t it?).

The rest is just one long orgasmic blur. The tune went on with rhyming about the chicken served in the camp dining hall and our perceived domination of all comers on the camp basketball court.

When the song ended, the crowd went completely batshit. There were whistles and cheering and yarmulkes flying everywhere. People came running up to the stage to get our autographs or to touch our shoes or to put their palms on top of our heads and recite the traditional Hebrew blessing over kick-ass rappers (something like, “Baruch attach adonai blah blah blah word up!”).

When Dave, Kevin and I reconvened backstage, we decided the our success couldn’t possibly get any better than what we had just experienced and we therefore decided to disband the group.

Later that summer, I made Kevin laugh while his mouth was full of Cheerios and one of them came shooting out of his nose, whole. If that’s not street cred, I don’t know what is.

Monday, November 22, 2004

What Not To Wear To a Testicle Examination

About five years ago I felt a small irregularity on my right testicle. Hot Wife was pregnant with Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son at the time and she encouraged me to have my Happy Bag checked by a physician. I acquiesced out of obligation to my manhood and my budding family, not out of a desire to have a man in scrubs put his face in my crotch and handle my balls like a pair of dice at the craps table, which is how I knew the examination would unfold.

After squeezing and juggling and examining my nards for a few minutes, my doctor said he had an almost surefire test for testicular cancer. He pulled a little penlight out of his shirt pocket and told me has was going to shine it against the nodule on my testicle. If something black appeared in the glow of the light, well, that would be bad. Gleefully, no such blackness appeared and I figured that meant I was free to zip up and go about my manly ways in good health.

Sadly, no. The doctor told me he wanted me to have an ultrasound on the groin ornament in question, just to be sure nothing untoward was happening down there. Then he reached out and shook my hand, which was the first time I had ever had a man shake both my money maker and my hand in the span of two minutes.

(Remind me to find a female physician.)

As it turns out, Hot Wife’s godfather is the head of radiology at the hospital where our kids were born. I called him, described my situation and asked if I could come down to his office for a quick ultrasound. No problem, he said.

The next day I arrived at The Godfather’s office dressed in shorts, flip-flops and the loudest Hawaiian shirt I could find. I didn’t know the proper attire for a testicle exam, but I figured it wasn’t too much different from the preferred attire at whorehouses and titty bars and glory holes worldwide. I even stuffed my pocket with one dollar bills, just in case.

This is where the story gets a little twisted.

I have no idea to this day whether the arrangement was the doing of The Godfather, but I was greeted in the waiting room by a very attractive blonde ultrasound technician. She escorted me back to a row of dressing rooms and asked me to change into one of those flattering, open-backed hospital gowns. I did so, but I left the Hawaiian shirt on. Chicks dig that. She then brought me into the ultrasound room, told me she was going to leave the room and would return in five minutes. When she returned, she said, the blankets should be arranged so that only my testicles were exposed (I know: if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that…).

When I had properly covered my, ahem, “self” and was ready for Nurse Ratchet to return, I felt the spirit of David Lee Roth wash over me.

I hollered out, “I’ve got my pencil! Gimme something to write on, man!”

The nurse returned, smiling. She snapped on a pair of rubber gloves, grabbed a white squirt bottle filled with a warm, clear goo and squirted it all over my package. She then picked up a large ultrasound wand that looked a little like a personal massager and began to move it back and forth across the freshly gooed area. It was paradise.

What does one say to a nurse while she’s, you know, doing that to you down there?

“So,” I said, trying to act all cool in a decidedly uncool situation, “do you always get this frisky on the first date?”

She laughed, which made her arm shake, which made the little wand shake, which felt kind of alright, which made me think I should crack some more jokes.

“It’s funny,” I said, “but this always seems to happen when I wear this shirt. It’s irresistible, isn’t it?”

“That’s not the word I would have used,” she said, smirking.

“What word would you have used then, pray tell,” I said.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Ugly. Unfortunate. Loud. Any of those would work.”

God. Talk about ruining a moment.

As it turned out, the little doohickey on my doohickey was a calcium deposit. Totally harmless. The same, however, cannot be said of my Hawaiian shirt.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Little Tom and His Short Temper

I was ordering my iced venti decaf soy latte this morning when I heard the distinctive sounds of smooching and kanoodling behind me. I turned around to see the source of the PDA (public display of affection) and what I saw will be seared into my memory for all eternity: a tall redhead with a nose ring embraced in a lip-locked death match with a leathered-out biker dude who was – no joke – a good eight inches shorter than she. Picture Nicole Kidman making out with Gary Coleman and you’re in the right ballpark.

I have lived in Southern California for my whole life and that means I have had to see a lot of really weird shit and a lot of really strange people. I once saw a kid pull his glass eye out of his head, put it in his mouth to clean it off and then pop it back into his eye socket. I was once browsing in a sex shop (for the articles, of course) when a 400-pound woman with a purple Mohawk and a tongue stud, an employee of the establishment, walked over and asked me if I had any questions about the merchandise. I played pool in a bar one time against a guy who had iron cross tattoos on his face. On his fucking face!

Yet in spite of the daily parade of freaks and weirdos and outcasts that has passed in front of me, I have never before seen a guy who was so completely dwarfed by his girlfriend. His head was looking straight up at her and hers was straight down at him. And they were kissing and holding hands and crushing on each other like minxes.

You know what came next, of course: suppressed laughter. It was as if someone had farted in church.

The barista who was taking my money saw the look on my face and we both looked away from one another immediately. Eye contact would have unleashed a torrent of laughter neither of us could have stopped. We didn’t want to make a scene.

So I got my receipt and stepped aside while they made my coffee and you know what came next, of course: that little bastard order chocolate milk. Chocolate fucking milk!

Well, at this point I just lost it. And the barista lost it. And the guy who was reading the Wall Street Journal in the big, cushy brown chair lost it. And the three teenagers immersed in their before-school bible study lost it. And the little chocolate milk guy looked around, wondering what everyone was laughing about.

Through the cacophony of laughter and tears and snot and people mouthing the words “chocolate milk” to each other in silence, the barista asked Little Chocolate Milk Guy what his name was so she could write it on his cup.

And he said his name was Tom. Tom! As in “Tom Thumb!”

And you know what came next: Little Tom The Chocolate Milk Guy got pissed. He discovered that we were laughing at his little ass and his little boy drink and the pathetic way he looked up at his girlfriend and he just went batshit. Straws and napkins and holiday knick-knacks started flying everywhere. I got drilled in the ear by a biscotti. A piece of jellied orange from the top of the holiday gingerbread went flying through the front page of the guy’s Wall Street Journal. Yep, Little Tom was having a little tantrum.

After a few minutes, Little Tom’s big girlfriend picked him up by a belt loop and got him to calm the fuck down and find his happy place. She leaned down and kissed him on the top of his little over-Moussed head and convinced him to just finish ordering and leave. He agreed, in part because she was way bigger than him and he didn’t have much choice.

And you know what came next, of course: the barista got down real low, looked Little Tom right in the face and said, “So did you want that chocolate milk in a sippy cup, little guy?”

Thursday, November 18, 2004

What Would Neil Diamond Do (WWND)?

The five weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been to Jews what the time between the sinking of the Titanic and the arrival of the rescue boats was for survivors of that wreck. We all just kind of float out here at the mercy of the non-Jewish world, hoping that the 26th of December comes before we drown under the annual red and white tsunami of animatronic elves, Bing Crosby and Perry Como songs and disbelieving paramedics coming to rescue neighbors who try to hang their Christmas lights after imbibing a little too much eggnog and end up nailing their thumbs to the rain gutters.

Yeah, being Jewish is a pretty pathetic sentence in December. But have you noticed that the evil warlords of commerce are turning the screw a little tighter by starting the whole Noel Baby Jesus Candy Cane Saint Nick Freak-Out a little earlier each year? Starbucks busted out the white wreaths with the little red berries on them just before Halloween. Go to the movies and you’ll see a half-dozen previews for upcoming flicks about someone who goes home for the holidays and gets involved in some kind of hijinx about snow or sledding or reindeer. And the big mall near our house is already letting parents drag their crying, snot-crusted kids kicking and screaming onto Santa’s lap for a blurry Polaroid.

The small talk around the holidays changes rather drastically, too. I was riding up in the elevator at work the other day with a somewhat big-boned woman with a hairy mole on her earlobe – a woman I barely know but have passed in the hallway a few times. The conversation went like this:

Her: “So, have you gotten all of your Christmas shopping done?”

Me: “Oh, no. Barely started. You?”

Her: “Getting there. You gonna have a big tree this year?”

Me: “Well, actually no. I’m Jewish.”

Her. “Oh. Weird. So you guys don’t have a Christmas tree?”

Me: “Nope. No tree. No lights either. We just gather up all of the Christian children in the neighborhood and burn their souls in the backyard as a sign to God that we love him. Say, do you have any kids?”

Her: “[Gasp!] Damn you! Damn you and all of the evil Jewish sinners. You and Neil Diamond and Ben Stiller and that bitch Barbara Streisand. All of you will burn in hell!”

I know that kind of characterization of our holiday rituals doesn’t do much to, say, advance the hopes for peace in the Middle East, but it sure as shit extracts me from the tired duty of having to explain why we don’t have a tree, why we don’t have a big Christmas pig and why we don’t own any Jimmy Stewart movies on DVD.

Conversely, here are some of the things Jews do enjoy during the holidays:

1) Shouting obscenities out the window at Christmas carolers and pelting them with the fried potato pancakes (called “Latkes”) we eat during Hanukkah.

2) Drinking ourselves into a Maneshevitz-wine-fueled stupor, swirving over to the mall in the Honda CRV and telling Santa that all we want for Christmas is a quick peek at Mrs. Claus’ underpants and a dime bag of the chronic, and we’re not leaving until we get it.

3) Making a batch of holiday fudge for all of our neighbors and hand-delivering them on Christmas Eve. Then we sit by the window and wait until the Ex-Lax we mixed in with the fudge kicks in. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the big guy across the street sprint from the front yard to the bathroom with his hand over his ass, like that’s going to prevent him from (to borrow a phrase from UPS) “seeing what brown can do for him” right there in his silk candy cane boxer shorts.

4) Teaching Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son how to use a power screwdriver so that when all of the neighborhood kids come out Christmas morning with their new bikes, he can deftly move in and loosen the spokes and the handlebars when they’re not looking. The next time those little shits try to stop they end up flying ass over teakettle and wind up with a bitchen case of holiday road rash.

I could go on, but I don’t want to give away all of our secrets. I need something to look forward to on Christmas morning, too, you know.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

If You Were Me

Say there’s this kid who lives with you.

Say he’s cute and clever and really good at t-ball but not so good about acting rationally when you tell him he can’t have candy for breakfast and he can’t play with his penis in front of company and he can’t bash his little sister in the head with his Rescue Heroes action figures.

And say when you try to establish these boundaries with him he falls to the ground like a rag doll, starts to cry hysterically and won’t stop even if you pretend to have your finger stuck in your nose, then his nose, then your nose AND his nose, and then the dog’s.

And say he won’t stop crying until you offer him a piece of Halloween candy – the very candy that he wants for breakfast and can’t have.

And say you don’t want to bribe him out of hysterics with candy anymore because it’s bad for his teeth and it’s bad for his belly and it’s bad for you when you want him to go to bed before Letterman comes on.

So say you decide that the next time he has one of his freakouts you’re just going to let him cry because all of the experts say you shouldn’t acknowledge that kind of behavior, you shouldn’t reward insubordination and you shouldn’t encourage him to do it again because he will and you’ll eventually run out of Halloween candy and then you’ll be totally fucked.

So say you tell the child that the street lights have come on and it’s time to come inside, he cries and cries and cries and begins to melt down and you decide this is the one, this is the time you’re going to take a stand and not give in to his bullshit, which is all well and good and nice until the fit starts to drag into its third fucking hour and you really want him to shut his piehole so you can watch the Laker game in peace.

Then what? What do you do?

Do you give in and give the boy his Almond Joy and congratulate him for his persistence?

Or do you say screw the Lakers because your son has a gift and you want to see if he can break the world record with a six-hour temper tantrum, which would most likely get his pictures in all of the papers and put you in the slammer for child neglect which would be fine because you’d have a kid in the Guinness Book of World Records and spending a few weeks sharing a 12 x 6 cell with Willie the Drunk Midget Flasher is a small price to pay to have a kid who’s good – I mean really fucking John Coltrane awesome – at something he loves to do, which is freak out?

Or do you just grab your car keys and peel the Honda CRV out of the driveway and go to see a movie by yourself because you just can’t stand the sound of the kid wailing anymore and even the tastes of torched popcorn and flat Sprite are better than listening to that dude for one more second and you hope he’s done when you get home so you don’t have to sell him to the scrap yard for parts?

Yeah, that’s what I did, too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Off To The Asylum I Go

This is where I work:

• The office building was constructed in such a way that in order to get from one side to the other, one must either walk through the kitchen (where there are enough unwashed, bacteria-smeared coffee mugs in the sink to start a penicillin factory) or the room that houses printers, copiers and office supplies (which I have named “The Drop Zone” because it’s quite odorously apparent that that’s where everyone on the second floor goes to fart). Since the men’s room is on the wing of the building opposite the one on which I sit, I have a choice to make each time I have to “make water”: tour our budding biology laboratory or inhale the wafting odor of the Nachos Bell Grande that Steve from accounting ate for lunch.

• The woman in the cubicle to my right has set her cell phone ringer to play the song on the Irish Spring commercials at the loudest possible volume. Since she is often away from her desk without the offending phone, I must type away to a soundtrack that’s fresh and – whe-whoo! – clean as a whistle.

• The blonde who sits in the cubicle directly in front of mine didn’t get the memo that open-toed flippy floppy shoes are not to be warn after Labor Day. As she flutters around the office, I hear the incessant slap of sweat-soaked leather against the soles of her stinky feet: slap-slop, slap-slop, slap-slop. And so forth.

• The marketing guru who wants everyone to know how important and powerful he is walks around the office talking into the hands-free device on his cell phone. Since one simply cannot talk into one of those things without yelling, the whole office gets treated to the cacophonous stylings of a balding, middle-aged stress case as he negotiates low-grade “chip clip” buys with a tchotchke vendor in Poughkeepsie.

• I keep a bag of M&Ms at my desk because I’m a sugar addict and the candy keeps me from mainlining Mountain Dew when the 3:00 blues hit. Everyone in the office knows about my sugar stash and they pay regular visits to my cubicle to pilfer my candy and chit-chat about the latest office gossip. “So,” says one particular offender, “how’s it going over here? Write any good copy lately?” People, if you’re reading this, spare me the small talk. Just reach the grubby little mitt you just picked your nose with into the bag, spread your germs and leave me alone before I tie you to rafter beam in The Drop Zone and blueflame my McGriddle gas until your eyebrows melt.

• The building maintenance crew has somehow set the hinges on the men’s room door so that it closes very, very slowly. As a result, the door is still roughly halfway open when many guys have begun their evacuatory exercises and/or when their asses begin to emit sounds most commonly associated with a 1967 Gremlin that’s running out of gas: putt-chacha-putt-chacha-pahhhhhh… Thank you, maintenance crew, for allowing everyone in the sales and marketing department to know the status of my colorectal health (or lack thereof).

• There is an elderly, cataract-ridden security guard named Vibart who sits at the desk in the building lobby. Vibart has an insanely strong Caribbean accent and when he’s not sleeping at the desk or losing people’s packages, he’s chatting me up about what he perceives to be the hot current events of the day. “OK, Danny, did you watch the debayut last night, mon?” he says. “I think President Bush is gonna win, mon, you know? He just seems to be the smarter of the two, mon, don’t you think?” They breed ‘em sharp as marbles down there in the Caribbean, don’t they?

When I was freelancing for a living, I used to long for the interactivity and camaraderie of a full-time office gig. What was I thinking?

Don't Hold Your Breath

I was reminded this weekend why I so passionately wanted to procreate. It’s because childless people couldn’t possibly have the kind of near-death, soul-crushing experiences that parents encounter on a daily basis.

Sure, being single and/or sans offspring has its own attractive selling points. But while it’s one thing to pass out from a whiskey bender and find when you awaken that your buddies have Sharpied a big, blue penis onto your right butt cheek (for example – not saying that has ever happened to me or anything), it’s quite another to watch a youngster made from your own goo display the folly and fallibility of mankind anew each day.

This weekend my daughter cried so hard that she literally passed out. Second time she’s done that. Hot Wife was putting Barney’s Biggest Fan in her high chair before breakfast on Saturday morning and the child was apparently not interested in eating. She began to cry with such force and conviction that she was impotent to stop it. She stopped making noise. She turned blue. Her head fell back. And we fucking freaked out.

I was about to start administering CPR on her when Barney’s Biggest Fan came to. She opened her eyes, looked me right in the face and said, “Barney.” When my heart started again, I put Barney on for her. I have not been shy about voicing my distaste for Barney, but if it keeps my daughter breathing, that bastard can spoon me in my bed and help himself to my porno mags if he wants to.

Later that day, my son punched me in the face. We were wrestling on the floor, I was pretending to deliver a series of rib-shattering body blows and he decided it was time to up the ante. He clenched his four-year-old fist and clocked me in the right cheek. Twice. Boom-boom.

I was stunned. I knew he hadn’t done it on purpose and I wasn’t sure if I should scold him for even thinking that was OK or trot him out and pit him against some of the other boys in the neighborhood to see exactly how badass he is. I knew the latter would probably draw the ire of Hot Wife, so I settled for telling Left-Handed Power Hitting Son that blows to the head are strictly forbidden by the Torah and if he does it again God will send down a lightning bolt and kill Elmo.

Yesterday, fully recovered from her little cardiovascular vacation, Barney’s Biggest Fan let me know that all biological systems were operating at optimal levels by depositing something in her diaper that should not have been approached without a hazmat suit and a set of barbecue tongs. How can a precious, wide-eyed child who weighs barely 20 pounds evacuate a turd that so closely resembles the excrement of creatures that haven’t walked the earth in 200 million years?

If you want to get gross about it (and if you’re here reading this, you do), here’s what I found embedded in the diaper of Barney’s Biggest Fan: nine undigested raisins, three whole black beans, a cell phone, the next door neighbor’s lost cat, 58 cents in change, a license plate, my wife’s Costco card, a copy of The Watchtower, the 22-pound turkey Hot Wife was going to make for Thanksgiving, and a man who says his name is Carl and wanted to know how to get back to the San Diego Freeway.

Let this be a lesson to you. If you’re planning to come by Evans World Headquarters in the near future, you’ll need to be trained in CPR, self defense and the proper handling of hazardous materials.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Shock and Awe

Why is it that we can shoot incoming nuclear missiles out of mid-air with frickin’ laser beams but we can’t develop a shopping cart that doesn’t have to be muscled out of its fervent desire to veer left into the bok choi?

I am able to allow my mind to wander off on tangential thinking like this because I have cleansed myself of the evil warlord Constipation. Ding dong, the shit is dead. I killed it, and in my desire to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Iraq, I mimicked many of their physical and spiritual strategies, starting with giving the enemy a name: Osama. Rather appropriate, no?

Here’s what else I did:

1) Before I swallowed my first dose of stool softener, I took out a little ball point pen and wrote the following message on the pill: “You’re in deep shit now, Osama.” If the American military can writes messages on bombs, I think it shows great support and unity when I write messages on my poo medicine. After all, we’re both trying to blow away a little shit.

2) I called the local newspaper and invited them to send over a correspondent who would be “embedded” with my troops to cover the battle. They declined, although they did send a representative to hand-deliver an official correspondence. What’s a “Cease and Desist” order?

3) I swore in Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son as my Minister of Propaganda. He sat with me in the bathroom as the battle raged, emerging from time to time to deliver updates and the official coalition position on the offensive. For example, “Oh, nasty! Mommy, daddy’s going poo-poo and it smells like that baloney sandwich I left in the garage for a few weeks last summer. I think I’m gonna hurl!”

4) Every time I swallowed one of the little stool softener pills, I shouted “Fire in the hole!” at the top of my lungs.

5) Just like the American military command, I ordered my Minister of Propaganda to drastically overestimate the enemy casualties. “Mom, daddy says he just broke his second plunger of the day and he needs you to go to Home Depot and get a new one. And he needs another 24-pack of TP, stat!” I also prohibited the broadcast or publication of any photo showing my own dead and wounded, just like the US government does. This means you’re not going to be able to see pictures of my swollen, red bunghole. Sorry.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Exit Strategy

I am preparing to wage The Mother of All Assaults on my constipation. I am broadcasting this because based on the conduct of the American military command, who told everyone and their balls that the U.S. was going to attack Fallujah, I now believe it is the proper protocol to give my enemy (my intestinal track and my rectum) fair warning that the fury of hell is headed their way. Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, boys.

I will soften the command and control center of my constipation with the special forces of dietary overhaul. I had fish tacos with lots of black beans at lunch today, and I have drunk enough water today to create a man-made lake right there at Evans World Headquarters.

Once those initial targets are neutralized, I’ll call in the cavalry to finish the job. The cavalry in this case is the ammo I bought this afternoon: stool softeners, laxatives, milk of magnesia, high fiber cereals, Metamucil, a plunger, a 100-yard garden hose, a weed whacker, four fence posts, a large blue plastic tarp, a box of steel wool, a mule, a GPS tracking device, three rolls of duct tape and two day laborers I picked up in front of The Home Depot. How do you say “Get down! She’s gonna blow!” in Spanish?

This offensive is being launched now because the enemy is growing too strong, too resolute, too absolutely rank to let it fester any longer. Constipation means hard stools, which means gas, which means public scorn. Were this problem given any more life, I would be banished to the backyard with Weak-Bladdered Dog, where I would drink from a stainless steel bowl and scratch at the back door when I was ready to come in for the night.

Of course, war is not waged without casualties. There will be no McGriddles for a while, and probably no Starbucks banana loaf cake either. The day laborers may not be seen again and their families may be left to wonder what became of them. I hope they are able to take solace in the fact that their loved ones perished fighting for a noble cause. That cause: my ability to evacuate my bowels like a normal human being, without the pity of the man in the stall next to me, without the desperate squeezing of noses by the people next to me at the fish taco place, and without Hot Wife’s ongoing requirement that I take my stinky ass out of the bed and go sleep on the couch.

As we prepare for battle, we recall the rally cry of the American armed forces: "Ours is not to question why. Ours is just to do or die. Or smell really bad."

(I added that last part myself.)

To the special forces and the cavalry, I wish you Godspeed. And to the enemy, I admonish you to get out of my ass so I can flush you like the shit that you are.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Crazydar

I work in the mental health industry and I have encountered my own fair share of mental health issues, so now I am convinced that I have developed “crazydar,” which is like “gaydar” except that it allows me to sniff out and identify crazy people instead of gay people. What can I say? It’s a gift.

It’s not the kind of superpower that would make for a Hollywood summer blockbuster (although they tried with The Sixth Sense) or a cartoon series on Nickelodeon, but it certainly does make a run-of-the-mill trip to Costco or McDonald’s a lot more entertaining.

Like sometimes Hot Wife and I will be out having Mexican food and I’ll see a guy in line at the cashier and I’ll say, “Hey, honey, see that guy over there? He’s depressed.”

“How can you possibly tell that?” she asks.

“Because he keeps pulling his underwear out of his ass,” I say. “A lot of those antidepressant meds make you constipated. He’s obviously got a rough case of swamp ass and I’ll bet you anything it’s because he’s on Zoloft on he hasn’t shit in four days.”

She rolls her eyes and looks at me like I just told her I want her refer to me as “O Captain, My Captain” from now on, but I’m sure I’m right about the guy at the register. Normal people don’t pick at their asses like that. Not in public anyway.

My crazydar has also afforded me countless opportunities to meet and share war stories with other crazies like me. Like sometimes I’ll be at lunch and I’ll catch a heavy bipolar vibe from the dude who sits down next to me.

“So,” I say to the guy, having never met him before, “that Klonopin is some good shit, isn’t it?” And then we’ll spend the rest of our respective lunch hours discussing therapy and meds and sexual side effects and how completely whacked-out most psychiatrists are (which explains why they became psychiatrists in the first place).

I won’t lie. My crazydar has misfired on a few occasions, each an unfortunate turn of events that has put me into a rather compromising and confrontational situation. I once asked this heavily pierced tattoo freak in a biker bar if I could bum a Paxil from him and he hit me in the balls with Coors Light bottle. Another time I asked a woman in the airport if Prozac made her breasts tender and she pepper sprayed my ass right there at gate 9A. You probably read about that one. It was in all of the papers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bongwater Porkfat Zaboomafoo

They stop selling McGriddles at 10:30 so I decided to try this Vietnamese place near the office at lunch today. I have developed a raging fetish for pho, which is basically beef broth with long, white rice noodles and pieces of rare beef in it. I eat pho at least once a week, in part I think because anything about Vietnam reminds me of that scene in Apocalypse Now where Robert Duval says, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like…victory.”

I took my new book into the Saigon Noodle House, found a quiet little corner table and ordered the No. 3 with a Diet Coke. Then I settle in for a nice, mellow hour of slurping piping hot soup and reading about this dude who picks up women at sexual addiction support group meetings.

My plan worked to perfection for about 10 minutes, at which point an Asian woman (whom we’ll call Phong) and her friend sat down at the table next to me. From the minute her ass hit the wicker-backed chair, Phong began speaking a language I didn’t recognize (which basically means it wasn’t English) at the top of her lungs. She wasn’t yelling, but her volume was barely one click below a primal scream.

It sounded something like this:

“Maay! Bongwater porkfat zaboomafoo! Boomshakalakah bokchoi choppedliver metallica pingpong doohickey chakakahn!”

This was not simple ethnic or cultural unfamiliarity on my part. I know this because every other head in the restaurant turned in the direction of Phong’s voice, partly squinting as one might do if someone sounded an airhorn six inches from one’s ear. Phong was shouting and she didn’t care who heard the sordid details of her bongwater porkfat zaboomafoo.

“Excuse me,” I said, leaning over and talking directly to Phong. “Do you think you could keep it down just a little bit? I’m trying to read.”

Silence. Phong turned her head toward me and gave me a look I might have expected if I pissed in her pho. Her eyes filled with rage.

“Chipwich!” she screamed at me, now standing and looking straight down at me. “Loch Ness Chewbacca ginseng! Cantankerous jicama John Kerry tchochke tu-tu!”

Now I’m fucking pissed. You can say whatever you want about my chipwich, but bringing politics into it crosses the line where I have to get all angry on your ass. I stand, throw my chopsticks onto the table and put the tip of my nose right up against hers.

“What did you just say about John Kerry?” I bark. “Did you just call him a tchochke tu-tu? I’ve got your tchochke tu-tu right here, you Republican hag! Don’t let your mouth write checks your ass can’t cash!”

We go back and forth a few more times like this. She calls me a phosphate jericurl colostomy and I tell her that her breath smells like she just drank a maggot milkshake with a cherry on top (which the owner of the restaurant didn’t seem to like, but that’s neither here nor there).

Finally, the other patrons in the restaurant come over and separate us. Phong and her friend leave, which is fine by me, and I sit down and go back to my pho and my book.

I love the smell of pho in the afternoon after a shouting match with an angry Republican Vietnamese immigrant. It smells like victory.

Right Here

I don’t even know where this came from but lately when I feel indignant and bitter and perhaps a little melancholy I respond to people with a “right here!” For me, it’s the new “shut up.”

I had the TV on this morning and there was a car commercial on. The announcer said something about asking my dealer* about the sport-tuned touring suspension package. To no one in particular I said, “Yeah, I’ve got your suspension package right here, buddy.”

I ordered my iced venti decaf soy latte at Starbucks this morning and the barista is all, “Do you want whip?”** And I go, “I’ve got your whip right here, lady.”

I was so pissed about my barista’s lack of familiarity with my order that I decided to drown my sorrows in a McGriddle.*** So I go to the drive-thru and order breakfast combo number nine and the hair-netted trailer trash asks me through the speaker if I want to super size my order. I was just about to tell her that I had her super sized combo right here, but I realized that such words might be interpreted as either sexual harassment or a welcome sexual proposition, so I just shut my mouth and drive forward to the next window like I was told.


*Um, I don’t have a dealer, and if I did it wouldn’t be for cars. It would be for crack or poker hands or McGriddles something fun like that.

**Honey, I have been coming to this Starbucks everyday for almost seven years. If you don’t know me and the way I like my drink by now, you should be demoted to restocking the Equal packets and plunging the toilets.

***Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know I swore off of these things yesterday in the Barnes & Noble bathroom, but I’m only human.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The House at Poop Corner (or Purging the McGriddles)

I was at the bookstore when it hit. I suppose that’s the good news – I had lots to read while my spleen, gall bladder and larynx were passing through me.

I warned myself that my recent gluttony would ultimately end badly, and today it did. I was standing there getting my jollies with the sketches in The Joy of Sex when my gut began to rumble and groan like a submarine sinking to the bottom of the Pacific. A minute later, there was a cramping feeling in my poopchute that told me I needed to find the men’s room immediately or face the prospect of waddling out of Barnes & Noble with squishy socks.

I found the bathroom, closed and latched the stall door and looked up to see a larger-than-life graffiti drawing of a penis going into an anatomically impossible vagina on the back of the door. The penis, which was three feet tall, was ornamented by two huge testicles and some funny gang words that I couldn’t decipher. I presume the message being sent was that the Barnes & Nobles Bloods have really big balls (and what better place to advertise that then here, alongside Dostoyevsky and Faulkner and Judy Blume). Their can be no pride that compares to a mother’s pride for her son’s huge gang member balls.

While my mind wandered through further analysis of the stall décor, the opposite end of my body was in a fight for its life. Each successive rectal heave softened my allegiance to McGriddle and mint chip ice cream and those damned bite-sized Milky Ways I’ve been eating every hour on the hour since the week before Halloween. My gut was telling me to chill the fuck out in no uncertain terms, and I had no choice but to listen – and stare at the Sharpied diagram of gang-ridden, elephantitus-ravaged testicles on the door in front of me. If there is a hell, it’s got to look something like this, perhaps with Robert Goulet pumping out of the overhead speakers and an empty roll in the toilet paper dispenser.

As the hours rolled on, I wondered how long Shiticus, the God of Dung, would make me suffer. I peered between my legs to inspect my own handiwork and I swear to God I saw one of my kidneys sitting there in the crapper. I contemplated fishing it out, but this was a public toilet used by gang members and I wasn’t about to put my hand in there, kidney or no kidney. My mama didn’t raise no stoopnagle.

The horror finally ended when my intestinal tract had nothing else to purge. As I washed my hands and exited the bathroom, I realized that I would have to honor the promises I made to Shiticus during my hour of peril (as in, “Please make it stop. I’ll do anything. Just make the poo-poo stop.”).

I promised never to ever eat another McGriddle, and I will honor that (but I won’t be happy about it).

I promised to throw away any and all candy in my domain, and I will honor that (but I might have another half-dozen Milky Way minis before I do).

I promised never to consume another dairy product as long as I live (or until such time as a cure for lactose intolerance is discovered), and I’m still thinking about honoring that one. Fifty-fifty chance.

McGriddles Anonymous

Craig The Mouse Killer called me this morning to inquire about the low-grade online intervention on this site in the wake of my admission about a McGriddle addiction relapse. Several of you have voiced concern over the fact that I am consuming them again and Craig The Mouse Killer thinks it’s time for me to come clean.

Well he can fuck the fuck off.

I don’t have a problem. I don’t. I admit that sometimes I drive-thru for a McGriddle or two, but I can stop whenever I want to. I only do it when I’ve had a really stressful morning or when I know I’ll have to talk to people and I need some kind of social lubricant. And, yeah, there have been a few occasions when I’ve had to call in sick because of a McGriddle bender, but everyone does that now and then, don’t they?

It’s not like I’m drinking Costco-sized jugs of Dewar’s for breakfast or snorting lines of blow off the naked belly of a hooker. According to the McDonald’s website, all I’m doing is indulging in 550 scrumptious calories (300 from fat), 21 mouth-watering grams of fat and 1270 delectable milligrams of sodium. Big deal. Like that’s any different from a steaming bowl of lard and a glass of Ovaltine. It’s all part of a nutritious breakfast, people. I do not. Have. A problem.

I’ll tell you who has a problem:

The guy I saw this morning who was had his long-sleeved shirt tucked under his gaudy gold watch has a problem.

The people who live in the red states have a problem.

The plastic surgeon who did this to Tara Reid’s boobies has a problem.

What do I have? I have a ravenous appetite, a mouse-murdering friend and a small army of controlling readers who have their panties in a bunch over my diet. My McBreakfast is my fucking McBusiness, ladies and gentlemen.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my hash browns are getting cold.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Don't Put Your Hands Near Its Mouth

I cannot stop eating. Since I stopped drinking beer about a month ago, my need to replace those calories by any carnivorous means necessary has become a public safety hazard. I see a dalmatian walking down the street and think to myself, “Damn, I bet that would be good with some chili-cheese fries and a root beer.”

I have been skinny my entire life and that is not a good thing when you have a Jewish mother. My failure to possess an appetite worthy of my heritage’s penchant for solving virtually any imaginable crisis with food has caused her unspeakable trauma (“Only nine matzo balls, Danny? Is something bothering you?”). But I am a grown man. I know when I’m full. And I won’t be guilt-tripped into eating more food than my 170-pound frame can tolerate (unless there's money involved, whereupon I will eat until I puke).

But lately my metabolism has been significantly more Jew-like. Yesterday, for example, I ate a McDonald’s sausage McGriddle with egg, hash browns, a large Diet Coke, a piece of banana bread, an iced venti decaf soy latte, a can of Chef Boyardee beef raviolis, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some pretzels, another Diet Coke, some trail mix, a chicken breast, some broccoli, some Ben & Jerry’s Karmel Sutra ice cream and another Diet Coke. I mean could you just fucking barf?

I have not yet seen the physical manifestation of my superhuman appetite, but I have no doubt that one day soon I will look into the mirror and see Reuben Studdard staring back at me. I mean, one simply cannot ingest as much grease-soaked, lard-laden, deep-fried shit as I have without developing either a spare tire that can fit a monster truck or The Hemorrhoid That Ate Cleveland. And if you’re looking for a renewable energy source, Mr. President, grab a jar and stand behind me.

In what should come as no surprise, I went to an all-you-can-eat salad bar for lunch today and was baited into an altercation with the cashier over my gluttony. I strolled through the line adding scoop upon scoop of food, so much that it swelled over the edge of my plate and out onto the plaid green tray. I got to the register and the bitch was all, “Sir, that’s way too much food.”

So I’m all, “What the fuck are you talking about? It says ‘All You Can Eat.’”

And she’s all, “Well, yes, sir, it does say that. But what you have on that tray goes above and beyond the spirit of that promise. You have taken enough food there to feed yourself and everyone on Guam two or three times over. Come on. Why don’t you just put some of the jicama back?”

So I’m all, “Look, this jicama isn’t going anywhere and I’m really starting to feel an anti-semetic vibe from you. I suggest you take my $6.49 and let me eat my lunch or I’m going to call my rabbi and tell them they don’t allow Jews up in this motherfucker. You choose, peanut. Is it ‘All You Can Eat’ or ‘All You Can Eat Unless You Have a Circumcised Penis and a Job in The Entertainment Industry?’”

She wisely chose what was behind door number one: my money and the continued support of The Chosen People.

This Just In

This morning on my way to work I heard some asshat news anchor named Rick ask a CNN correspondent in Iraq why the newest offensive in Fallujah was initiated at night.

“Because, Rick,” she said, “it’s dark at night, which makes it harder for the bad guys to see us coming. And so you know, I’m not standing our here on two hours sleep in a flack jacket and a puke green army helmet so I can answer dipshit questions like that. If you’re going to waste my time asking me what color the sky is and what the capital of North Dakota is, you’re going to have to kiss my lily white ass first. I’m a war correspondent, not a kindergarten teacher, OK? Back to you, fuckface.”

Saturday, November 06, 2004

High Degree of Difficulty

After more than four years of parenthood I have finally reached a point where I can enjoy the pure theatrical brilliance of my children’s tantrums.

At first these semi-regular meltdowns – which may be precipitated by catalysts as diverse as improperly microwaved macaroni and cheese or the completely absurd request that a child not wipe his freshly extracted boogers on the new carpet – caused me immense frustration. My blood boiled, in part because I thought my job as a parent was to not make the kids cry. Crying = bad. The more frequently the kids cry, the worse a parent I become.

I’ve grown out of that belief. I now believe that the more my children cry, the smaller my entertainment budget becomes. Why pay $9 to sit in a movie theatre when I can sit on my own couch and watch two supremely talented children cry and scream and pound the ground in performances that warrant Oscar consideration.

We had a good one this afternoon. When the sun set and the temperature dropped and the mud caked to Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son’s knees after a long day of outside play was starting to affect his ability to walk, I told him it was time to come inside. And so it began.

I liken these tantrums to a gymnastics routine. There are a series of compulsory characteristics – criteria that must be met to categorize the display as a tantrum. The rest is up to the children’s creativity, and this is where they soar.

We began today with the mount, which is a simple jelly-kneed collapse to the floor. A simple compulsory maneuver. From there he graduated to another fundamental step, the oh-my-god-my-life-is-ending wail, whereupon long periods of time elapse with no sound. When the silence ends, there is a long, forceful, throat-searing scream. And then more silence. If there were an Olympic gold medal awarded in this category, my son would be a national hero. He’s that good.

Trying to save ourselves from public humiliation, Hot Wife and I escorted our son to his bedroom and invited him to come out when he could calm down. When the door closed, Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son’s creativity began to take over. In a panicked, Rainmanesque litany of words, he tried his own twist on the tried and true “I have to go potty so let me out of here before I piss myself” routine. It went like this:

Waaaaaaaaahmommypeepeepeepeedaddypottypottypottywaaaaaahpeepee…[deep inhale]…aaaaaaahpeepeemommypoopoodaddyihavetogopeepee…

At this point, Hot Wife buckled. She re-entered his room and tried valiantly to keep the boy from hyperventilating, or worse, pissing himself. I listened from the next room and could hear the poor woman floundering. I intervened.

Here comes the dismount.

“Hey, buddy,” I said to him. “Do you think we should go have a piece of your Halloween candy?”

Silence.

He lifted his head from his hands, a web of tears and snot left pooled in his cupped paws, and he smiled at me through his tears. He was happy again. Tantrum over.

The Austrian judge wept as he held up a placard that read 9.95. The Swedish, Dutch and Canadian judges also gave high marks. The scowling French bitch only gave him a 9.275, but we all got a good laugh from the hair in her armpits when she held up her score.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Weighting Is The Hardest Part

I belong to a gym, but I don't belong in a gym. Big difference. Still, there are infrequent occasions when I muster the courage to show my scrawny frame in the weight room.

I can't tell you what the roided-out muscleheads are thinking when they see my tall, wire-thin, pencil-necked skeleton plop down at the weight bench next to them, but I won't rule out that they believe I'm a pale version of those malnourished African kids who pathetically cavort with Sally Struthers on television.

Seeing my rib cage poking through my skin, they might say, "Hey, Ndugu, you need a spot?"

"No, mon," I'll say, "but could you keep the flies away from my rice while I finish this set?"

Despite the overwhelming likelihood of embarrassing myself, I cowboyed up and visited that perilous corner of this gym two nights ago. In the past, I have ventured into the weight room only at off hours and lifted the two-pound pink dumbbells in relative peace and anonymity. But the other day, trying my best not to look like a complete poseur in front of a packed gym, I racked on a little extra weight.

Bad idea.

After a workout that included bench presses, bicep curls, the pec deck and a triceps exercise that nearly caused me to blow out an O-ring (again), my upper body is so sore and tender that even a moderate breeze sends me writhing to the floor in a quivering mass of tears and snot. And my condition is causing myriad problems in my day-to-day existence:

•A new employee was paraded around the office yesterday and when I reached my hand out to shake hers, I couldn’t life my arm above my waist, thereby forcing me to greet the newbie with a headbutt. She and I now sport matching red welts on our foreheads.

• In the shower this morning, trying to lift my hands high enough to wash my hair was a futile exercise. Combing it was equally as difficult, so as I sit here writing, my head is a matted mess of unkempt, unclean, uncombed fur. But, hey, it’s Casual Friday in the office anyway.

• I paid for lunch with a credit card yesterday and when I was asked to sign the receipt, I had to put the pen in my nose and scribble my name by moving my entire head in the shape of my autograph. That was hard enough, but imagine trying to remove a writing implement from your nose without using your hands. I tried shaking my head back and forth, but that didn’t work. I had to resort to the Snot Rocket routine, a strategy that succeeded in dislodging the pen, but not without a robust accompaniment that reminded everyone within a 20-foot radius that the cold and flu season is upon us.


Why do I do this to myself? The ridicule and the pain and the paralysis and the projectile boogers are not worth the minimal gains I get from my sporadic workouts. But if I'm going to live in a house with an aerobics instructor, I suppose it's incumbent upon me to uphold my end of the Hotness Factor in our house. Why couldn't Hot Wife have taken up a vocation more suited to my skill set, like politics or child care or acting?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Brake Dancing

I drove away from Evans World Headquarters this morning in a car that sounded like a hyena in estrus. There was a high-pitched, metal-on-metal grinding noise coming from the front wheel wells and we all know what that means: an expensive brake job.

Driving a sick car makes me feel scummy. I can hear the Sanford & Son theme song playing in my head (“buh-buh-bahdad, buh-buh-bahdah-bahdah-bah…”) and I feel like every other vehicle on the road is looking at my car, hearing the sound of my gravely ill brake pads and wondering if I’ll be late for my job shoveling shit or applying ointment to hemmorhoid-laden bungholes in some sick clinical study.

Ken, the tattooed chain-smoker mechanic, heard me coming. He walked over to where I parked with a half-roasted Marlboro dangling from his bottom lip, his eyes squinting at my car through a cloud of tobacco smoke and his own stench.

“Sounds like the brakes,” he grunted. Ya think, Huckleberry?

He said he could fit me in right away, told me to go fill out some paperwork inside and leave my key with Nicole. Funny, when he spoke her name (which also happens to be the middle name of my daughter), I expected to find someone with, oh, I don’t know, a full set of teeth. That wasn’t the case.

Nicole is five-foot-two. Her hair is jet black and greasy and her eyes are surrounded with an inch wide stripe of black eye make-up (or were they bruises?). She is wearing acid wash jeans, circa 1983. Behind her desk is a NASCAR calendar, surprisingly flipped to the right month. In the box that denotes November 8, the following words have been scribbled in purple, ballpoint ink: “Nicole needs off. Court date.” One can only imagine.

“Hi,” I say. “I’m here to drop of my car.”

She looks up, smiles, revealing that she is missing two teeth from her top rack. Might this have something to do with the court date?

She asks me some questions about my car – year, model, license plate number, why a hot, macho guy like me would drive such a pussy of a car – then hands me a pen and asks me to sign the form that waives the shop from any liability if I drive away and hit a water buffalo on the way home. I sign, but not before I notice that Nicole’s fingernails are long and dirty and ringed with what I presume is auto grease. Please, God, let it be auto grease. We shared a pen.

I walk across the parking lot to a restaurant and enjoy a breakfast of cold, runny eggs, gristled sausage patties and a mass of mushy beige paste described in the menu as “hash browns.” The man in the next booth is a clergyman, his companion a parishioner. He is loud and domineering and really tied to this whole idea that God is the way and the light. He voted for Bush because the Lord told him to, and I presume the Lord also told him not to order the hash browns.

As I eat, I try to imagine the scenario that necessitated Nicole’s court date. I’ve narrowed it down to public urination, driving under the influence of Skoal or brandishing that heinous, toothless grin at a police officer.

An hour or so later, I returned to the mechanic and find that Ken has removed all four of my tires and is trying to wedge the rotor from my left rear wheel with a crow bar and a hammer. And he has another Marlboro in his mouth. He and Nicole make a lovely couple.

Four hours and $261 later, my car is ready. As I drive away and watch Nicole growing smaller and smaller in my rearview mirror, I can’t help but think Ken left one of his cigarette embers in my brakes and that my car will explode if I try to stop.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Parental Sleep Deprivation

When Hot Wife and I were relative newlyweds and in the throes of contemplating procreation, my brother-in-law, David, warned me that I should be prepared not to sleep through the night until our last child is five years old. David is exceptionally cool and funny and filthy rich and I once ate escargots because he challenged me to. It’s not my usual practice to doubt him, except on the snails. But in this case, perhaps out of self-preservation, I assumed he was exaggerating.

He wasn’t.

I’ve been thinking a lot about David’s prophetic insight over the last week, usually at around 4 a.m., when Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son crawls over my head, kicks me in the left ball and wiggles his way into bed between Hot Wife and me.

Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by a boy one-third your size who requests that you march out to the kitchen and get him some Frosted Mini-Wheats and a sippy cup full of milk. The request on its own merit seems innocuous enough. Your first instinct is to tell the child to go back to sleep or the boogeyman will eat him. But then you recall that the child has a penchant for wailing at the top of his lungs like a seal taking a beating with a Louisville Slugger, a whiney howl so loud and pathetic that it sends a posse of pajama-clad neighbors running to your front door with machetes and frying pans cocked and ready to disembowel the purported abuser inside. So you dutifully drag your sleepy ass to the kitchen and get the boy his fucking cereal.

I have tried passionately to dissuade the child from waking me in this manner. We made a chart with 14 boxes on it. Every time the child went out to the living room to watch Zaboomafoo instead of going to his parents’ bedroom to re-enact the baby seal routine, he would receive a sticker in another box. When all 14 boxes were decorated, the child and his father went together to the driving range and dinner, without the girls. We called it “Boys Night” (which starkly contrasts the "Boys Night" I enjoyed in college, whereupon my dorm buddies and I drank Coors Light, ate pizza and watched porn until the wee hours of the Fresno morning -- ah, the glory of youth).

All was well for a while after the sticker strategy was implemented, but now the early morning interruptions have resumed. I’m not about to do the sticker thing again because I’m not looking for a band-aid solution. I want the child to feel my pain. If daddy can’t sleep, the child can’t sleep either. That’s why I bought the air horn. Around midnight tonight, I’m going to sneak into the child’s room and sound a long, calamitous horn blast, presumably motivating the child to involuntarily move his bowels.

When the child is resuscitated, I will explain to him that I shocked him awake and permanently damaged the hearing in his right ear out of love. I will also tell him that I didn’t want to have to resort to more extreme measures, like taking away his Matchbox cars or revoking his right to live in our home rent-free.

And then I will go back to bed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Dora The Screaming Pedopheliac, Shoe-Fetishist Explorer

One of my favorite television shows as a kid was H.R. Puffinstuff. I watched it every Saturday morning, right after Sigmond and the Sea Monsters. Given my passionate allegiance to the show, it should come as no shock that I was crushed when Old Buddy Andy, who works as a set dresser on a TV show you definitely watch, advised me that H.R. Puffinstuff was one big veiled drug reference. His evidence:

• H.R. stood for “hand-rolled.” Hand-Rolled Puffinstuff.
• Whenever things got sad and ugly in the land where the characters lived, they blew on their little flute (see: doobie) and everything got happy again.
• The theme song, which contained the unforgettable line, “He can’t do a little and he can’t do enough.”

I have lived with the painful scars of this revelation for almost 15 years. I have sought therapy for it. It saddens me to know that I was living a lie throughout my youth. I am horrified that my fragile, impressionable little brain was so catastrophically tainted by a few stoners with a video camera, some silly costumers and an eighth of the chronic. Look at me! I’m a wreck!

As a result of my ordeal, I have made a concerted effort to ensure that my children are spared from any such mindgames hidden within the new generation of programming.

You already know my stance on Barney, but I have found another problem.

Adorable Daughter With Poopie Diapers and Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son have taken quite a shine to a cartoon character named Dora The Explorer. To the untrained eye, the show looks innocent enough: a little girl and her monkey friend, Boots, travel the world, speaking sporadic Spanish and helping friends they meet along the way. Basic cartoon fare, no?

Sadly, no.

I have studied Dora. I know what makes her tick. And I am here to report that Dora The Explorer is a hopeless hussy. A tramp. A sick, Mary Kay LaTourneau wannabe who prays on young primates and camouflages her promiscuity, bestiality and pedophilia under an animated veil of multicultural glee.

Exhibit A: The Song
No matter what task they undertake during an episode, Dora, Boots and their newly enveloped friends end with the same song:

We did it!
We did it!
We did it!
Hooray!


See? Filth! What the kids buy as a song about accomplishing a task is really a joyous musical celebration of their sexual escapades. These three monosyllabic words – “We did it” – are the words every horny teenager longs to say to his buddies after a date with the prom queen, are they not?

That Dora and her disgusting friends frolic post-coitally like whores is reason enough to yank the show from the air, but there’s more.

Exhibit B: The Boots
Who ever heard of a monkey wearing boots? The kids don’t question it, but it’s apparent to me that this is some kind of fetish. Perhaps they chose this particular deviant sexual behavior because a monkey wearing leather chaps or a strap-on is too hard to animate. And kids can’t pronounce “Xaveria, The Monkey Dominatrix” without spitting Cheerios all over their Garanamals.

Exhibit C: The Yelling
Dora is always shouting at the top of her lungs, kind of like a woman whose brains are being effed out.

Exhibit D: The Backpack
Dora carries with her a magical backpack. It talks. And whenever they need something – a map, a book, a compass – it’s in the backpack. Where there's smoke, there's fire. In other words, there’s no telling what kind of foul sexual toys skanky ass Dora keeps in there. I can't be sure, but I think I saw a quick snipet of some Root Beer flavored edible lube fall out of the backpack in one episode.

I could go on, but the point is made. Dora is this generation’s H.R. Puffinstuff and she should be pulled from the air immediately.

Kids, pass daddy the remote. We’re watching SportsCenter tonight.

America The Pitiful

I got to McPherson Magnet Middle School at 6:55 this morning and found a line of about 40 people. I spotted Neighbor Tom, a cinematographer and ardent Kerry supporter, in the middle of the line. Tom and I chatted for a minute about the big shit sandwich we’d all have to eat if Bush wins, and then I decided to retreat to the back of the line, lest a riot start over my taking cuts and I end up talking to Sheppard Smith on Fox News Channel tonight instead of putting ointment on my swollen bunghole.

Shortly after I retreated to the end of the line, a blue-haired old woman with super flabby skin on her triceps came out of the cafeteria and announced that there was a problem. The voter log from a city 20 miles away had been delivered to our polling place in error. We would have to wait until the proper log was delivered.

“I want a refund!” I hollered.

Half of those waiting to vote mumbled dirty words to themselves and left, presumably because living in a country where our leader elects to bomb the shit out of people for no good reason is not as bad as being 10 minutes late for work.

Fifteen minutes later, I found myself in the cafeteria, where 20 cardboard polling booths were arranged. As I waited for my turn to cast a ballot, the old man behind me was trying to read the cafeteria menu board to his wife. I will remember a lot about this campaign season, but my favorite moment – by a mile – was the gift of listening to this man try to pronounce the word “entrée.”

“Look up there, hun,” he said, pointing his wrinkled old finger at the menu. “It says there that today’s entry is chicken nuggets. Shoot, when I was a boy, the old entray we ever got was bread and mashed taters. Now they little’ns get all kinds of different entries.”

Clearly a Bush man.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Butt Seriously

I have an uninvited guest and this morning I went to the supermarket to get some ointment that will make it go away. I’ll spare you the details about my nasty little intruder, but suffice it to say that it’s large and it’s purple and it’s making it hard for me to sit down.

There are certain items one cannot buy at a supermarket without feeling like an ass (ooh, another reference to my intruder). Those items include condoms, non-alcoholic beer, adult diapers, anti-hemorrhoid creams, KY jelly, gallon-sized bottles of vodka, stool softeners, Efferdent, douche bags and Beano.

I bought one of those items today – not saying which one – and the experience was a little like being caught with a Hustler magazine and a family-sized bottle of lotion. I could not escape the conspicuously disapproving gaze of the check-out whore, the red-faced attempt by the bag boy to contain his laughter and the prying eyes of the fat woman behind me (another clue to my ailment) in line. Neither of these people said a word to me, but I felt compelled to enter a plea nonetheless.

“It’s for my kid,” I said, snickering a bit. “He got some Halloween candy stuck up there and it left a nasty wound.”

I don’t know if they bought it.

I prayed that this torture would end quickly so I could get home and anoint myself. No such luck. The cashier ran my little yellow box of relief over the scanner, but it didn’t ding. She scanned it again. Still no ding.

I started to pray. “Please, God. I know I’m voting for John Kerry, but please make the scanner ding. Please don’t make her call for a price check. I promise not to step on anymore snails ‘accidentally on purpose’ just to hear their shells crunch if you grant me this one wish.”

God was apparently at a Bush rally because Marlene, the cashier from hell, grabbed her intercom phone and told everyone in Ralph’s that she needed a price check on baboon ass cream for the customer at aisle nine who walks funny and keeps scratching his bum.

A moment later, the intercom speaker shouted back, “The anal invader cream is four thirty-nine, Marlene.”

Marlene punched in the total and then had the nerve to ask me if I had my Ralph’s Club Card on me.

“No, Marlene, you hag,” I thought to myself. “I don’t have my Club Card. Will you please just let me pay so I can get out of here and slash my wrists?”

Marlene said nothing. She took my money, gave me my change and threw me a smile that seemed to say, “I hope your sphincter feels better soon. Please come again.”

The Control Freak and The Missing Clicker

After we returned from Trick-or-Treating last night, Hot Wife and I got Spiderman and Little Red Riding Hood to bed and I settled down in front of the tube to enjoy my Milky Way-induced sugar buzz. And so began the worst night of my life.

See, I have this control issue, and the primary instrument of my domination and tyranny is the remote control to the television in our living room. It has become an extension of my right hand. It’s who I am. If the TV is on and I am not in possession of “the clicker,” I simply cannot be in the room. Hot Wife has very few shortcomings, but two of them are that she does not change channels quick enough and she watches far too much Food TV.

Last night, the clicker went AWOL.

I looked everywhere for it: under the couch cushions, on top of the TV, in the trash cans, in the kids’ rooms, in the fridge, in the bathroom, under the beds, in my ass crack and that of every member of my family (including Weak-Bladdered Dog, whose right rear paw was pumping feverishly in circles as I performed said cavity search).

I felt my pulse quicken. My control! Where is it?

“Honey, have you seen the remote?”

“No.”

“Well, it’s gone. It’s gone! Help me find it, for Christ’s sake!”

Sensing an imminent meltdown, Hot Wife withdrew her hand from Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son’s bag of candy and assisted me in the search. She took the bedrooms and bathrooms, I took the living room, kitchen, garage and dining room. My anxiety was elevating to a full-blown panic attack. My palms were sweating profusely. I was hyperventilating.

Thirty minutes later, we reconvened in the living room. Both of us had come up empty.

“Fuck!” I belted. “This fucking sucks! How am I supposed to watch SportsCenter, Extreme Home Make-Over, The Real World and election spin-doctoring on three different cable news stations at the same time now?”

I contemplated a return to the antiquated practice of walking all the way over to the TV to change channels, but the very thought of it made me feel small and pathetic. This isn’t China and I don’t have to live like a fucking caveman. So I just sat there and pouted. Arms crossed. Brow furrowed. Head down.

Hot Wife tried to calm my nerves, suggesting that perhaps I should call my EAP. But I was in no mood to talk to a therapist. All I wanted was my goddamned clicker and there’s nothing that some granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing head-shrinker could say to me to make it any better. Besides, people who wear Birkenstocks have stinky feet.

After another half hour, I grew tired of pouting. I stood up, walked over to the kids’ Halloween candy and ate Chewy Sweet Tarts and Jujy Fruits until I grew sleepy and lapsed into a candy coma.