Thursday, December 30, 2004

My First TV Script

HUMAN WRITES
“The Arm Fart”

CAST
DR. JOHNNY FEVER..............Daniel Evans
HOT WIFE............................Hot Wife
WEAK-BLADDERED DOG......Weak-Bladdered Dog

ACT ONE

SCENE ONE

INT. BATHROOM - DAY
[SCENE: DR. JOHNNY FEVER IS IN THE SHOWER. HOT WIFE IS BRUSHING HER TEETH NEARBY AT THE SINK. WEAK-BLADDERED DOG IS SITTING AT HOT WIFE’S FEET, WAITING FOR HER TO DROP SOME TOOTHPASTE ON THE FLOOR SO SHE CAN LAP IT UP.]

DR. JOHNNY FEVER: [shouting slightly to be heard over Hot Wife’s Sonicare toothbrush] How about this one? [puts his hand under his arm and does a chunky-sounding arm fart]

HOT WIFE: [stops brushing for a moment] Nah... too conservative. [resumes brushing]

DR. JOHNNY FEVER: OK, how about this one? [puts hand under arm again, omits a slightly longer and much louder arm fart]

HOT WIFE: [stops brushing for a moment] Better, but not quite perfect. [resumes brushing]

DR. JOHNNY FEVER: Alright, check this one out... [rattles the shower door with a calamitous arm fart long and loud enough to set off car alarms in the street outside]

HOT WIFE: [drops toothbrush] Fuckin’ A, Dr. Fever! Now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!

DR. JOHNNY FEVER: Great. There’s just one problem, honey.

HOT WIFE: What?

DR. JOHNNY FEVER: That one wasn’t my arm. It was my ass.

WEAK-BLADDERED DOG: Arf!

END

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Happy New Year. Let's Watch Some Porn.

A new year is drawing nigh and you know what that means --- it’s time to create a list of lies to tell ourselves about how much cleaner and more excitingly we’ll live our lives in 2005.

It is generally not my practice to make New Year’s resolutions because, well, I’m practically perfect in every way. But for the sake of fun (and make no mistake, brothers and sisters, this is going to be a fucking HOOT AND A HALF), here is a list of things I am going to try strenuously to do, see, consume, avoid, learn, enjoy, quit, improve and understand in The Year Of Our Lord, Two Thousand Five:

Ahem.

1. I will try to carefully and neatly fold my toilet paper rather than crumpling it into a big wad before applying it to my bum. It has occurred to me this year that crumpling is just such a hurried and unattractive technique, more appropriate perhaps for a down-and-dirty construction site port-a-potty dump than my normal, leisurely Sunday afternoon bowel evacuation, whereupon I gather my sports page and my coffee and my industrial-sized can of lemon-zest-scented Lysol and I don’t stand up until my legs have fallen asleep or my sphincter has been rendered weak and exhausted and powerless --- whichever comes first.

2. I will seek out and obliterate those who post comments on this site anonymously. People, if I can share the most intimate details of my personal hygiene and my children’s television habits and sordid personal history with you, the least you can do is tell me your name so I know who to talk about in my therapy sessions.

3. I will endeavor to drink the recommended eight glasses of water each day. As it stands now, I drink approximately .6 glasses of water each day, which is derived from the melted ice in my 64-ounce Diet Coke. It is my sincere hope that increased consumption of water will change the color of my pee-pee from dark amber (think cream soda) to a hue more closely resembling very weak lemonade.

4. I will find the IT hack who prevented me from viewing a number of really good blogs at work --- INCLUDING MY OWN! --- and fart in his cubicle.

5. I will gain 10 pounds. Of muscle. In stark and sometimes shocking contrast to the national obesity epidemic, my own body weight closely resembles that of a health five-year-old girl. In fact, were it not for my prominent Jew nose and my impressive nether bits, I would practically be invisible when I turn sideways. And in much the same way that heavy folks try every ridiculous diet to shed pounds, my own efforts to bulk up have inspired everything from rapid-fire McGriddle eating to two-gallon protein shakes made with chalky, indigestible powders made from the dried and ground gizzards of South African tzi-tzi flies. By this time next year I intend to have doubled my maximum bench press (which would get me to about 45 pounds, including the bar) and to be able to look in the mirror and see a chest that sticks out farther than my Adam’s apple.

6. I will write at least one television script. In what has become a regular infringement on my own pattern of self-deprecation and my strongly-held belief that I was put on this earth to write brochure copy, I have been told by more than one person on more than one occasion that if I don’t pursue a career path that leads through a television studio sometime in the near future, my life will have been an utter waste. To satisfy those busy-bodies and put an end to their threats, I will at least investigate the possibility of transferring my immense and considerable gift of humor, the likes of which have never been seen before, to the small screen. “Tonight on a very special Desperate Housewives, that one blonde chick with the huge fake tits learns how to blow a snot rocket and accidentally kills the gardener she’s been schtuping on the side. Meanwhile, the emaciated red-head who used to be on Beverly Hills 90210 eats her first McGriddle and has an orgasmic experience that sends the whole neighborhood into anaphylactic shock. That’s tonight on Desperate Housewives, at 9, 8 Central, right here on ABC.”

7. I will supplement my income by making bets with the other T-ball dads that my son can hit the ball farther than their sons. See, Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son has a gift when it comes to T-ball. He doesn’t look like much when he steps up to the plate, but you should hear the parents ooh and aah when my boy hits the ball over the heads of the kids picking their noses in centerfield and all the way out to the drinking fountain, which is next the parking lot, which is a good 500 feet from home plate. I’ve heard grumblings that some parents think the kid is on steroids because he hits it so far, which is a ludicrous claim because my son won’t even drink cough medicine when he’s hacking like a sick duck in estrus, so taking a needle full of some anabolic cocktail in the right buttcheek would be totally out of the question. A new batch of rookie dads will trot their little droolers out to the T-ball field this summer, so I’ll just mosey over to the father of the biggest one and go, “Hey, Phil, $200 says my kid hits it farther than little Butch there.” He’ll laugh, make the bet and then cry when my kid hits it twice as far as his pride and joy. Happens all the time. The way I see it, I should be driving a new Benz by the all-star break and living in a 30,000-square-foot bungalow at the beach by season’s end.

8. I will kill Barney. I will kill him and eat his stupid-ass purple liver with some fava beans and a nice key-ann-tee. And then I will kill him again.

9. I will take control of my own destiny. Like when my boss comes over to my desk and tells me he wants me to rewrite that brochure copy, I will pretend that my appendix is bursting. And when Hot Wife asks me to do the dishes, I will pretend that I wear the pants in the family and say no, honey, you’re the woman and it’s the woman’s job to wash dishes and it’s my job to sit here and watch this football game until you bring me a chicken pot pie, so hurry up and get on those dishes, chop chop.

10. I will learn to be a more patient and courteous driver. I will keep my hands at the 10:00 and 2:00 positions on the steering wheel at all times, unless I’m flipping off the bastard in the lowered El Camino for cutting me off or using the index, ring or pinky finger on my right hand to extricate a stubborn and very crispy booger. I will keep my eyes on the road at all times, unless I’m trying to find a good song on the radio or trying to read the chicken scratch on the cardboard signs the homeless guys by my office are holding or looking at the girl in the Jetta next to me who is driving and talking on the phone and putting on mascara at the same time. And I will allow one car length in front of me for each 10 miles an hour I am driving, unless I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, like the supermarket or Taco Bell or that place over there, in which case I will revert to my old familiar tactic of allowing barely enough space for an ATM card between me and the car in front of me.

11. I will change my underwear every day, unless I’m going commando.

12. I will watch more porn. God, I love porn. I just wish there was a better name for it because “porn” sounds a lot to me like “corn” and there’s nothing sexy about corn, is there? No, there isn’t. Corn is for eating at summer picnics with watermelon and barbecued chicken and porn is for watching and contorting your face and hiding before your sister walks in and has the image of you contorting your face like that burned in her memory forever.

12a. I will come up with a better word for “porn.”

12b. I will make a sign to hang on the door that says, “I’m busy watching porn. Please come back later.”

Michael Jordan Is My Homeboy

When I was a senior in high school, I began writing for the newspaper in my hometown. I covered mostly small potatoes – high school and community college sports. The work was by no means glamorous, but for a budding reporter with no experience whatsoever, it was the perfect start. I took it seriously and believed sincerely at the time that my writing was as good as it was ever going to be – although when I look back at some of my old clips, I can barely get through the first paragraph without cringing at the klutzy, amateurish prose.

The paper couldn’t pay me for the work I did but on occasion offered to score me a press pass so I could cover professional sporting events in Los Angeles. Naturally, I was thrilled with that arrangement. My good fortune enabled me to come in close contact with many of the city’s larger-than-life sports heroes of the late 1980s – Bo Jackson, Marcus Allen, Orel Hershiser, Tommy Lasorda, Wayne Gretzky. Each time I got near one of these athletes, I became hopelessly paralyzed by their star power. I could almost never muster the gonads to ask even a single question because I was so star-struck and in awe. I merely stuck my little tape recorder out and waited for the athletes to answer the other reporters’ questions.

In 1989, I begged my editor to let me cover a Los Angeles Clippers game against the Chicago Bulls, an opportunity that would give me a chance to talk to my hero, Michael Jordan. He agreed and on a rainy night in February I drove my shit brown Ford Granada to the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The Bulls won the game handily, with Jordan torching the Clippers all night long. But a Clippers player named Ron Harper came up with a strong effort in defeat, scoring 36 points. In the Clippers locker room after the game, Harper was predictably asked if his big night was somehow motivated by playing against the likes of Jordan. He coyly paid homage to Jordan’s greatness but said he plays hard every night. I saw my lead in his answer. I was going to ask Jordan if he got excited to play against Ron Harper.

As I walked through the underground tunnel that led from the Clippers locker room to the visiting team’s locker room, I chastised myself. If I had an opportunity to speak to Michael Jordan and blew it, I would never be able to live with myself. This was the seminal moment of my life – as a reporter, as a man. I had to come through for myself.

A throng of 15 reporters stood waiting at Jordan’s locker. He emerged fully dressed – a stark contrast from the habit of most professional athletes, who walk around butt naked, scratching their balls and flicking their teammates in the bare ass with their towels. When Jordan appeared, my palms began to sweat. My heart raced. I became light-headed and feared for a moment that I was about to shit my clothes in the presence of the greatest athlete in the history of sport.

The beat writers from LA and Chicago began to question Jordan about the game and his play as if he was just another schmendrick off the street. Did they not know who they were speaking to? I didn’t even hear his answers. I was fighting nerves and paralysis and the overwhelming urge to ask him to autograph my forehead in permanent ink.

Finally there was an uncomfortable silence – a common occurrence when reporters have asked an athlete every possible question about every fathomable element of a game – and it appeared that the opportunity was about to vanish. I pounced.

“Um, Michael,” I said, my voice quivering, “Ron Harper said he tends to get a little more, you know, pumped up when he plays against you. Do you get pumped up to play against him, too?”

Silence. The heads of the seasoned reporters from the LA Times and Chicago Tribune swiveled in my direction, perhaps wondering who let the towel boy in here to do interviews? My eyes stayed on Jordan’s, praying to God and Ronald McDonald and John Wooden and Buddha and whoever else would listen that Jordan wouldn’t laugh me out of the building. He sat there, clearly seeing that he held my life in his hands, and then he answered:

“Well, Ron and I have played against each other many times and I don’t think my game changes that much,” Michael Jordan said. To me!

I smiled.

He answered! I did it! I spoke to No. 23! And he spoke back! In your face, bitches!

When I returned to the newspaper office the next day, my editor sat me down. Seems someone read my name off my press pass and complained that my questions were too sophomoric. I wasn’t allowed to cover anymore Clippers game after that, which was fine with me because the Clippers SUCK! and a serious journalist like me, who had interviewed MICHAEL MOTHERFUCKING JORDAN!, was more interested in the Lakers anyway.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Everything's Coming Up Barney

This one time when I was a kid, my Barney got stuck in a Barney and I couldn’t get it out for, like, an entire Barney. I mean it was completely and totally Barney. Talk about embarrassing.

This is the world I live in. This is the gibberish that spews from my daughter’s precious lips. When she can think of nothing to say or no appropriate answer to a question, the default response is “Barney.”

“Honey, what do you want for lunch today?”

“Barney.”


Given the very visceral negative reaction I have to the seven-foot psychotically happy dinosaur with the yellow toenails and the totally pussified prepubescent voice, I am not at all fond that this is the word my child has chosen to fill in the blanks in her speech development. But my efforts to correct the problem have been futile at best.

“Sweetheart, can you please stop playing with your tushie when I’m trying to change your diaper?”

“Barney.”


Some may say my daughter’s tendency to summon the name of her beloved in this way is merely a harmless youthful game, a pattern she’ll soon grow out of. To those people I say this: mind your own fucking business. As the example at the beginning of this entry illustrates with resounding clarity, her failure to correct this shortcoming quicklike will no doubt affect her ability to communicate, which will inhibit her chances of finding a rich doctor to marry, which will compromise my chances of retiring early, which will doom me to a lifetime writing brochure copy. See, this is about me, folks. Me! That’s who!

“Has anyone seen the very sharp, dangerous implement that was just sitting here?”

“Barney.”


I have no choice but to follow through on my plan to kill the bastard, as described here:

http://humanwrites.blogspot.com/2004/10/purple-haze.html

Monday, December 27, 2004

How To Dismantle A Jewish Newborn’s Penis

I’m going to become an uncle again tomorrow. Hot Wife’s sister, Diga, is going to have a C-section at around noon on Tuesday and there will soon be a new baby boy chillin’ at our family functions. We’re all very excited about his arrival, although my giddiness was tempered somewhat this weekend when Hot Wife told me I’d need to take a day off next week so we could all drive down to San Diego for the baby’s bris (which is Hebrew for “Come on, everyone, let’s all watch the scary, demented rabbi take a rusty old Ginsu knife to the poor little baby’s wiener.”).

I have no idea where the gory, twisted, morbid, inhumane ritual came from, but it is custom for Jews to gather ‘round the crotch of a Jewish baby boy on the eighth day of his life and watch as his tiny little newborn penis is ceremoniously pulled, clamped and mutilated. The last bris I attended was that of my own son a little more than four years ago and I swore on that day that I would never attend another without first consuming three tumblers full of a potent grain alcohol. Here’s why:

When Left-Handed, Power-Hitting Son was eight days old, all of our friends and family gathered in the home of my in-laws for his bris. While the others milled about downstairs, presumably talking about what a perfect day it was to mutilate a helpless baby’s genitals, Hot Wife, our son, the mohel (pronounced “moyel,” it means a rabbi who is trained to cut penises for $350 a pop) and I gathered in an upstairs bedroom for the undercard. The mohel unvelcroed my son’s diaper and began to inspect the poor kid’s penis.

“How’s it look, doc?” I asked. “Pretty stacked, huh? Just like the old man.”

The mohel then unzipped his doctor bag and withdrew a syringe with a needle long and shiny enough to make even the most hardened heroin addict run like a bat out of hell for the nearest methadone clinic. He then began to stick the needle into various areas of my son’s foreskin, injecting it with an anesthetic and causing my toes to curl and my butthole to pucker. I don’t suppose I ever really knew my own threshold for psychological torture, but when that motherfucker was repeatedly needling my new baby boy’s schmuck, causing the child to cry and wail like a baby seal being struck by the business end of a square-point shovel, I would have done anything to make him stop. I would have eaten maggots and drunken a gallon of pig piss and worked as a lifeguard at the nudist colony for Morbidly Obese Octogenarians for Christ for the rest of my life to spare my son the pain of having his penis punctured by that mean, mean man and his Syringe of Death.

When my son’s money maker was properly anesthetized, we carried him downstairs for the main event. A microphone was lowered down from the ceiling and a man in a tuxedo began to speak into it.

“Ladieeeeees and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to this afternoon’s main even,” he said as a ring card girl in a sequined bikini walked behind him holding a sign that said Round 1. “In the blue corner, weighing in at eight pounds, two ounces…The Master of Meconium…The Baron of Breastmilk…Little…Baby….Evansssssssss!”

[Applause. Whistling.]

“And in the red corner, weighing in at one hundred and ninety two pounds, with a record of 48 successful penis mutilations and no knockouts…The Sultan of Slice…The Weenie Whacker himself…Rabbi…Shmooly…Schwartzenfinklesteinbergowitz!”

[Boos. Hisses. Projectile tomatoes.]

My son and the mohel meet in the center of the ring. The announcer tells them something about wanting a good, clean bris. He asks my son not to pee on anyone and then tells them to return to their corners and wait for the bell.

Ding ding!

The bris starts benignly, with lots of praying and chanting in Hebrew. My son is stoic, laying there cooing and staring at the ceiling. Then the mohel goes on the offensive, undiapering the boy and applying a series of stainless steel clamps to the poor kid’s anesthetized foreskin. While he clamps, he prays – fucking showoff.

My son responds with a combination – kicking his wee legs and screaming at the top of his lungs – but the mohel isn’t fazed. He applies a funny little contraption to the clamped-off section of dick skin and then produces the instrument that will deliver the knockout blow – a scalpel.

The crowd gasps. The child wails. The mohel moves in for the kill.

Slice! Off goes the foreskin! The child is officially a Jew! Mazel Tov!

The mohel isn’t finished yet though, folks. He wraps the decapitated section of the child’s unit in a piece of white gauze. He walks over and places it into the hand of the father.

“Bury this,” he says.

And with that, the father’s legs turn to jelly. He’s down! The father is down! He’s passed out, ladies and gentlemen! What a spectacular turn of events!

The referee gets down on one knee over the father and begins to count: 1…2…3…4…5…6…He’s not getting up, folks!...7…8…9…10! 10! [Ding ding!] It’s over! The bris is over! The winner and still champion…The Father of Foreskin…Rabbi… Shmooly…Schwartenfinklestein!

When I awoke, there was a cold compress on the back of my neck and a pool of vomit at my feet.

Wanting to be a model Jew, I followed the rabbi’s orders. I went home and buried my son’s foreskin under a red rose bush in the backyard of Evans World Headquarters. And it’s weirdest thing: when you rub the rose bush, it gets bigger.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Gimme Some Tongue

When we bought our tickets to The Living Desert, the zoo in Palm Desert, the ticket chick told us they’d be feeding the giraffes at 10:00 and we’d be able to help if we got there in time. I looked at my kick-ass new Nike watch and it told me with the utmost coolness and style that the time was 9:52. We could make it if we hustled. I kicked the double jogging stroller into high gear and Hot Wife and I ran faster than any Jews have run since tickets went on sale for the last Barbara Streisand concert.

We got to the giraffe exhibit --- a concrete perch high above a large, open desert pit --- at 10:00 on the button. There were roughly 50 people there, including two zookeepers, but no giraffes in sight. Finally, after the zookeepers had repeatedly rung a large cowbell, a lone giraffe came lurching into view. It walked right up to the perch, putting its head close enough that several patrons reached out and petted its head.

One zookeeper then produced a Tupperwear container full of brown pellets about the width and length as a bazooka shell --- Giraffe Chow. He asked for volunteers to help feed the animal and despite the fact that I was holding my son, I walked over to give it a shot. I grabbed a pellet and held it about eight inches from the giraffe’s head.

I will never recover from what happened next. The animal opened its mouth only slightly and out shot a bruise-colored tongue longer than any human leg I have ever seen and shaped like a penis longer than even the most contaminated Chernobyl survivor could ever hope to shove into a pair of Fruit of The Looms.

“Holy shit!” I yelled. “What the hell is that thing?!” And my son shrieked the kind of shriek one might emit at the sight of man having his head removed with a chainsaw.

The giraffe’s foot-long protuberance began to fish around in the air for the food it sensed was near. It curled at the tip and big dollops of giraffe slobber sprayed out in every direction, raining down on the zoo patrons like stale caramels from a freshly punctured Pinata. I’ve seen some nasty things in my life --- illegal porn, my father eating borscht and sardines for lunch, Clippers games --- but that giraffe’s freakishly long, penis-shaped purple tongue reached me in horrible emotional places I would rather leave unoccupied. (Note to self: remember to Google the words “giraffe porn.”)

I dropped the pellet onto the giraffe’s tongue and it swallowed it in one gulp. No “thank you.” No “Merry Christmas.” No acknowledgement of any kind. The rude animal simply moved down the line to drench the other volunteer feeders in its rank, syrupy spit.

Greedy ass giraffe. Learn some fucking manners.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Postcards From The Edge

Scenes from the first 24 hours of the Evans Family vacation in Palm Springs:

1) On my list of places to have a DEFCON 5 diarrhea attack, the Vons supermarket on the corner of Bob Hope Drive and Highway 111 isn’t even in the top 50. Yet there I was yesterday, standing near the soymilk, feeling that familiar cramping and realizing I had to find a bathroom within the next two minutes or face the prospect of terrifying the old ladies shopping for Christmas hams with an ugly display of “what brown can do for me.”

“Where’s your men’s room, dude?” I asked the Vons stockboy, interrupting his deft replenishing of the Cool Ranch Doritos.

“Down aisle six, through the double doors, up the stairs on your right,” he said.

“Bless you, skippy,” I shouted back as I ran down the aisle, my hand over my butthole.

I raced down aisle six in record time, burst through the flimsy brown double doors. There was a sign that said “Authorized Personnel Only.” I thought for a second that maybe I shouldn’t proceed, but then I realized that people who are about to redecorate the produce section with a spray of chunky brown holiday poop nog are clearly “authorized,” so I continued. I jetted up the stairs praying to God and Hari Krishna and Mohammed and all those dudes that stretching my legs wide enough to cover two stairs at once wouldn’t open my sphincter and unleash Armegeddon. When I got to the top of the stairs, I found myself standing in the middle of the Vons employee lounge.

Just in time for the employee Christmas party.

There was a table with homemade cakes, cold cuts, casseroles, a crock pot full of something brown and four two-liter bottles of Coke and Diet Coke. I stood at the top of the stairs, sweating, panting, doing a little “I have to poop” dance, and all eyes turned toward me.

“Hi,” a woman in a brown Vons apron said.

“Hi,” I said back sheepishly.

“Can I help you?”

“Men’s room?”

She said nothing, just pointed to a door to her immediate left.

“Ah,” I said, kind of skipping in that direction. “Thanks.”

As I waddled past the partiers, their eyes followed me, anticipating perhaps that I was about to kill them all with an axe or do a striptease. I guess I looked that crazy.

Finally, I bounded through the men’s room door. As it swung closed behind me, I shouted back, “Merry Christmas. Save me some cake.”

2) To accommodate all of the elderly people who live here, they have adapted all of the crosswalk meters with a countdown clock. When the big red hand appears, a counter appears in red next to it telling you how many seconds must elapse before the meter will change to the little white walking guy.

I was driving to Starbucks this morning, about to turn left on Fred Waring Drive from Monterey Street. I had a green light and there was a dude standing at the corner. The meter told him he had 12 seconds to wait before crossing, but just as I hit the gas on the minivan and started to make the turn, he stepped out into the crosswalk and began to cross.

Were I one of Palm Springs’ typical drivers – picture a 90-year-old man in an olive green Ford Granada, wearing Coke-bottle glasses and barely able to see over the steering wheel – the dude would have been toast. I would have hit him, run over him and skidded out on his writhing carcass without even knowing it. But since I am still moderately fleet of foot and lucid, I slammed on the brakes and spared the kid’s life. Barely.

“Are you fucking crazy, you dumb-ass?” I yelled to him.

He barked something back at me in Spanish – something about Carnitas I think – and made some kind of strange finger gesture that looked like the itsy bitsy spider climbing up the water spout.

If I wasn’t consumed with holiday cheer, I swear to God I would have turned the minivan around and flattened that motherfucker. He’s so incredibly lucky that I’m a righteous Jew and that I was jonesing for my Starbucks fix. Coffee saved that dude’s life. For reals.

3) All of the streets here are named after dead celebrities. Bob Hope Drive. Frank Sinatra Drive. Dinah Shore Drive. Hot Wife and I have therefore initiated a game where we try to guess which blue-haired geezer will die next and have a street in Palm Desert or Rancho Mirage named after him or her.

I took George Burns. Hot Wife has Dean Martin.

4) It’s been a while since our daughter, Barney’s Biggest Fan, has had a developmental breakthrough to get excited about, but last night on the way home from Tony Roma’s she unleashed a doozie.

She sat in her car seat and started talking. She pointed to herself and said, “Me.” Then she pointed at me and said, “Daddy.” Then she pointed at Hot Wife and said, “Mommy.” I was floored.

“Did you hear that, honey?!” I said to Hot Wife. “She pointed to me before she pointed to you!”

What can I say? The child is a genius.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What Color is My Parachute?

My kids are both big fans of this annoying group called The Wiggles, a band of four Australian goobers who sing songs about making fruit salad and dance around with a giant octopus named Henry. For the uninitiated, imagine The Monkees having an orgy with the cast of H.R. Puffinstuff where everybody’s on acid.

To make sure that The Wiggles weren’t subliminally recruiting my children into The Church of Scientology or some goofy Aussie death cult where they believe shitting the bed will inspire the second coming of Elvis Presley, I did some reading on The Wiggles and here’s what I found: These four guys – Jeff, Greg, Anthony and Murray – were college students in Sydney, all training to be teachers. As part of their education, they put together a video where they danced and sang and preened around like retards on a sugar high. The video fell into the hands of parents, whose kids loved it. Supply, meet demand. More videos were made and The Wiggles enterprise grew so large that the foursome now appears daily on The Disney Channel and no self-respecting parent can conceivably make it through the day without a half-dozen Wiggles videotapes or DVDs.

Naturally, the accidental success of The Wiggles has me all kinds of pissed off. I’ve done a hell of a lot more creative things than make a stupid video, and yet none of them has begotten wealth or fame or opportunities to drink expensive scotch with Michael Eisner. In fact, the only riches my creativity have ever won are a trip to the principal’s office and a few magazine clips, which I parlayed into a stead job as a copywriter for a health care company – which is the professional equivalent of root canal without anesthesia.

It’s time for me to do something drastic to change my fortunes. It’s time for me to shout from the rooftops that I am a creative dynamo and that I can change the world for the low, low price of $50 million (act now – operators are standing by)!

What color is my parachute, internet? What job will bring me riches and fulfillment? What children’s video or Rubik’s Cube or bagless vacuum cleaner can I invent that will redefine some industry and infuse my checking account with enough money that I can guarantee that my kids will never have to worry about their Starbucks cards running out or whether they can afford HBO? In the words of Forrest, Forrest Gump, “What’s my destiny, mama?”

I’ve started my journey of discovery by making a list of the things I’m really good at:

1) Cursing
2) Saying mean things about people
3) Farting
4) Blowing snot rockets in the shower
5) Rewinding videos
6) Flipping people off
7) Eating Pop-Tarts
8) Cycling between ESPN and ESPN2 on the remote control
9) Telling my kids “no”
10) Going to the movies
11) Ordering McGriddles
12) Drinking Diet Coke

That’s a pretty robust list. Surely there is something profitable in there. Perhaps snot rocket lessons?

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Tall, Thin Man and His Stupid Metal Stick

The following events may or may not have occurred on a golf course in Southern California today. If they did, they probably involved me. If they didn’t, that would be really, really weird because I was playing golf today and this is what I saw.

There is a ball. There is a metal stick. There is a hole in the ground, about six inches deep. There is a tall, thin man.

The ball is nine feet from the hole in the ground. The tall, thin man is holding the metal stick. The tall thin man is trying to hit the ball with the metal stick just hard enough that it rolls right into the hole in the ground.

The tall, thin man hits the ball with the metal stick. The ball rolls along the grass. It looks like it is rolling too fast. Yes, it is definitely rolling too fast. Slow down, ball. Slow the fuck down.

The ball rolls right past the hole in the ground. When the ball finally stops, it is farther from the hole in the ground than it was when the tall, thin man hit it with the metal stick.

The tall, thin man is not happy. This same scenario has occurred repeatedly all day long. It is clearly the medal stick’s fault. Stupid stick. Bad, bad stick.

The tall, thin man throws the metal stick as far as he can.

The tall, thin man storms off in a huff. He stops in an area of thick brush. He unzips his pants. He pees, right there in front of God and Neighbor Jimbo and everyone.

As he pees, the tall, thin man wonders how he will finish his round without his metal stick.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Get Out of My House

It is generally not our practice to welcome dirty, bedraggled, scab-covered trolls into the dining room of Evans World Headquarters. We’re not running a fucking soup kitchen here. But for some reason, when just such a pathetic character claims to represent a house painting business, well, come right in, ma’am. Let me take your smock. Would you like a cup of chamomile tea? Or perhaps a shower?

What can I say? We’re idiots.

It costs $20,000 to have a house texture-coated (“You’ll never have to paint this house again, sir, and that’s my solemn promise.”) and to have five new windows installed (“They could drop a nuclear bomb outside your door and you wouldn’t hear a thing.”). For that astronomical fee, you’d think the company would send a representative who, you know, bathes or something. But that was not the case. Let me describe the woman who sat at our dining room table yesterday and tried to pry 20 grand from us:

• She was approximately 50 years old.
• She took her shoes off in our house and her feet smelled like a ball of mozerella that had been left in the sun for three days.
• One of her eyes looked at me and the other at her shoes. At the same time. Think Sammy Davis Jr. tweaking really hard.
• The tips of her fingers were crusted black with filth. She looked like a chimney sweep.
• She had scabs on her forehead, nose and hands.
• Her hair had the dulled glow of something that had not felt the tender kiss of shampoo since the Carter administration.
• She had a hacking cough that sounded like tuberculosis and two packs a day of Benson and Hedges got married and bore the mother of all lung cheeses.

I was not going to convict her of anything untoward based solely on appearance. Truth be told, I am currently sitting unshowered and unshaved in a Starbucks wearing the same underwear I wore yesterday.

She kept saying, “I’m not a salesman.” She claimed to be the director of marketing for this company, in town because she has been tasked with securing texture-coating contracts for six homes so she could taker before-and-after photos to use for local marketing efforts. I smelled bullshit immediately.

If she was, in fact, the marketing director, where were her marketing materials? All she had was two bent placards with paint colors on them.

And if she was, in fact, the director of marketing, she would have been responsible for the “face” of the company to its customers. Clearly that face should be acquainted with the concepts of cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing and (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!) make-up.

She slung a pretty polished line of bullshit for not being a salesman. If she was to be believed at her word, the texture coating and windows her company would install for “next to nothing” would single-handedly increase the value of Evans World Headquarters by $50,000, enable it to withstand a nuclear winter, rid it of pests, keep solicitors and religious freaks at bay, make it sprout a second story and automatically change Barney tapes in the VCR every hour, on the hour.

She measured the circumference of our house, then came back to the table, exhaled a long sigh (the kind you hear at the auto dealer when he’s trying to convince you that the price he’s about to offer you will rob him blind and prevent his kids from going to college, even though it’s still WAY over the price you’re looking for and you know his whole line is bullshit), and then told us she was going to give us texture-coating and five new windows for $20,000 -– and she was throwing in rain gutters for free. Then she said something about writing up the contract right then and there so she could “get us in on the next work cycle.”

We’ve only been homeowners for about six years and I will therefore allow that I don’t have a ton of experience interacting with “vendors” like this one. But I do know that I’m a man. And I have a lot of faith in my B.S. detector. And I know that I don’t like dirty, smelly, scabby, lazy-eyed marketing directors sitting at my dining room table talking nonsense about free rain gutters and nuclear bombs. My blood was boiling. I was thinking that all of these alleged savings she keeps telling us about aren’t going to amount to JACK SQUAT because we still have to pay to have the house fumigated and sterilized from the fact that she polluted it with her filthy presence.

She was somewhere in the middle of her spiel about vinyl window frames when I stood up, pointed to the door and said, “Out! Out! Get out of my house, stinky! We don’t buy texture coating from people who smell like porridge and we don’t write checks for 20 grand to people who can't look us in the eye WITH BOTH EYES! Now leave, Pigpen!”

A tear ran down her face –- the side with the good eye –- and she said, “OK. OK. Nineteen five, but that’s my final offer.”

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Tubular

I have aspirations like everyone else, but when it comes right down to it, all I really want to do is watch TV. I really like watching TV. I’m good at it.

Hot Wife e-mailed me this morning and asked how I felt about taking the kids down to watch the boat parade – an annual event whereupon the rich snotholes from one of Southern California’s wealthiest enclaves entangle their yachts in Christmas lights, get good and blasted on egg nog and Johnnie Walker Black, and putter around the waterway, slurring carols and waving to lowlifes like the Evans family who inexplicably show up year after year to watch from the shore.

Now don’t get me wrong: I like watching drunk rich folks drown in two feet of water as much as the next guy. But the finale of The Apprentice is on tonight. What’s a family man to do?

I have to pretend that this is a serious quandary for me because I don’t want Hot Wife to know that given the choice between:

a) getting sand in my shoes, trying to keep my son from eating kelp, and wishing I was wealthy enough to get plowed on good liquor and tool around the coast on my boat, The Constipator, singing “Oh, Dreidle, Dreidle, Dreidle”; or
b) watching television,

I’m taking “b” every single time. To me, it’s like choosing between having a vasectomy or eating a hot fudge sundae. I really like watching TV. I’m good at it.

I think the reason my television-centric lifestyle is so disconcerting to my beloved Hot Wife is that she sees our children drifting over to The Dark Side with me. If Barney’s Biggest Fan isn’t watching Barney or Dora The Explorer or The Wiggles, she’s not happy, and that means nobody’s happy. If Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son isn’t watching Jimmy Neutron and picking his nose and flicking at his penis, he’s not content either. Hot Wife sees her precious dream of an active, motivated, thrill-seeking family morphing into the nightmare of living with three people consumed by a 27-inch Panasonic and a subscription to The Dish Network. We really like watching TV. We’re good at it.

She’s getting good and creative at distracting us. I’m on vacation next week and Hot Wife arranged for us to take a family trip to Palm Springs. She arranged for a place to stay and things to do – she’s got the whole vacation planned out in her head. This morning I queried her on the particulars of our living arrangements for the trip.

“So what’s this place like?” I asked.

“I’m glad you asked,” she said, believing perhaps that I actually wanted to go. “The brochure says it’s got a big living room with a balcony and a fireplace…”

“Uh-huh.”

“…and there are lots of little stores and restaurants within walking distance…”

“Uh-huh.”

“…and there’s a pool and a Jacuzzi if we feel like taking a dip…”

“Honey?”

“What?”

“Do they have cable?”

“Daniel! We are not going on vacation so that you can watch television! If all you want to do is watch TV, we can just stay home!”

“Perfect! Thanks, honey. Love ya.”

And then I turned on the TV. I really like watching TV. I’m good at it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut, Sometimes You Don't Because Your Nut Is Disabled

Hot Wife and I are engaged in ongoing negotiations about whether or not conceiving a third child would compromise our marriage, our sanity, our desire never to see another dirty diaper, and our ability to clothe and feed the children we already have. While there has not yet been a definitive decision made, I think it’s a moderately safe bet that The Evans Children Factory is closed.

And do you know what that means? It means my poor little giblets are about to be surgically decaffeinated.

My desire to avoid the white hot agony of a vasectomy is almost enough to make me argue in favor of having a third child. Hell, I’d almost rather keep having children on regular nine-month intervals than have some goofy urologist with Coke bottle glasses slash open my scrotum with an Exacto blade and switch me from “high octane” to “unleaded” with a pair of garden shears and a blow torch. Sadly, I don’t think the same course of reproductive action is amenable to Hot Wife. She keeps saying something about me not knowing what pain is until I’ve pushed an eight-pound mammal through an opening the size of a quarter. My response, of course, is that I actually DO know that pain because I have been really, really constipated and an eight-pounder is a runt compared to some of the doozies I’ve spawned.

I have friends who have been vasectomized and they tell me it’s really no big deal. I choose to believe the doctor convinced them to say that or face the prospect of walking around for the rest of their days with a limp, a wince and a card that lets them avoid metal detectors at airports. You can feasibly describe testicle surgery in a lot of ways, but “no big deal” isn’t one of them unless you mean “no big deal” in the same way that detonating a nuclear warhead at the Super Bowl would be “no big deal?”

I remember talking to my neighbor John the day he had his vasectomy. He answered the door holding an ice pack to his crotch, wearing an expression on his face that seemed to suggest the world’s entire supply of Bud Light and Cheetos had just been kidnapped by warlords in Argentina. That look told me everything I needed to know. Not that John is some big, hulking he-man, but we men have a certain unspoken language when it comes to relaying testicular discomfort. It’s exactly the same reason why we respond the way we do when we see a guy getting kicked in the sack by a mule on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

When I was nine years old, I had a hernia operation. Even then I was worried that the hot nurses were laughing at the size of my wee little commando while it was exposed for all in the operating room to see. I may be 25 years older now, but the same insecurity persists. If anyone laughs at my unit while the vasectomy mutilation is being performed, asses will be kicked. Trust me.

I also have trouble with the word “vasectomy” itself. I believe any word ending in “-ectomy” implies that something is being removed and presumably discarded like old Esmeralda’s gall bladder or little Billy’s tonsils. I find that disturbing. Wasteful. My vas deferens are in perfectly workable order. I’m using them. If it ain’t broke, don’t cut it out and burn it. Isn’t there some kind of pill I can take instead – something that will make me stop producing sperm without the use of sharp implements and cauterizing? Because you just know that I’m going to go through with this and then I’m going to come home walking like I have a big dump in my pants and then my kids are going to want to play and I’m going to be kicked and punched and bitten in the crotch and I’m going to bleed and people are going to see the blood on my pants and they’re going to think I have my period and then it’s going to be all over the tabloids that I had a sex change operation instead of a vasectomy and I’m going to be the laughing stock of the whole fucking planet.

I don’t think I’m being irrational about this. Shit, people, we’re talking about MY BALLS, for Pete’s sake! They are meant to be coddled and protected and covered with hard plastic when playing baseball. They are not meant to be scissored and sliced like a Christmas ham.

I have to stop writing now. I’m about to cry.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Evaluate This

My annual performance review has been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and that means I am spending today completing my self-evaluation. Here’s what I have so far:


KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS – List your key accomplishments during the review year and the business impact.

1) The inordinate amount of time I have spent perusing the internet on company time has served to streamline the efforts of my internal constituents because they have been spared the duty of correcting, approving, editing or requesting complete rewrites on work I would have done were I not reviewing sports site, blogs and forums and Googling the names of hot celebrities I want to see naked. Business impact: I estimate that eliminating the need for my colleagues to collaborate with me on actual work has saved the company $422,000.

2) I have purchased one can of Diet Coke from the vending machine each business day for the past nine months, at a cost of 60 cents per can. Sixty cents times five days a week times four weeks a month times nine months equals $108. Business impact: $108. Duh.

3) On a Tuesday in early July, despite my efforts to the contrary, I actually did spend almost one full hour working. Then I took a three-hour lunch because I was all kinds of burned out from working so hard. Business impact: $98,000.

4) I sat through the entire Sales & Marketing meeting without falling asleep. Business impact: I was so tired from having endured that nonsense with eyes wide open that I couldn’t even surf the web the next day. That increased the company’s available bandwidth, which I estimate precipitated a savings of approximately $737,000.

5) I wrote the shit out of an e-mail telling my coworkers that I was going to be out of the office on my birthday and that they should call this other chick if they needed anything that I might normally deliver, which isn’t much – probably just fart jokes and disgusting stories about what goes on in the men’s room. Business impact: Since my e-mail eliminated the possibility of rampant confusion and workplace chaos, I’ll say I saved the company about $3.2 million, give or take.


CHALLENGES OR AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT – List your biggest challenges or areas where outcomes could have been better during the review year.

1) When I’m sitting at my cubicle picking my nose, I should probably try to remember to flick the boogers into the trash can rather than discarding them on the floor or wiping them under my desk.

2) I could definitely improve the response time of my mouse finger when I hear footsteps coming down the hall toward my cubicle. If I don’t speed it up, I might get caught with naked chicks on my computer screen and I think I read something in the employee handbook about that being bad.

3) I need to improve my ability to react professionally when an undesirable assignment is handed down to me. I have been advised that “Fuck that! Why can’t Phil do it?” is not an acceptable response.

4) One word. Flush.

5) Some of the newer phones in the office have a screen that tells the answerer who’s calling them, so I need to find a more creative way to crank call my coworkers so they don’t catch me. Like the time put a paper towel over the phone, called Lucy and said, “Hey, baby, you got any Jew in ya? Want some?” I think she might have suspected that was me so next time I’ll call from the phone in the conference room.

6) When I try to pull the old “dine and dash” in the company cafeteria, I have to remember to check that my shoes are tied before the “dash” part.


SUMMARY – How would you categorize your overall performance? Check one of the following:

___ Exceeds Expectations
___ Meets Expectations
___ Some Improvement Needed
___ Does Not Meet Expectations

Hmm. That depends. Whose expectations are we talking about? I think I’m kicking serious booty, but I’m not sure my boss will feel that same way.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Can I Get An Amen?

My son and I were at Starbucks this Saturday morning when a man with a tattoo on his neck walked past us.

It said “Seek God.”

And what better method of proselytization is there than to evangelize in leaking permanent ink on top of one’s carotid?

Faith makes people do funny things:

• It makes them believe that faith-healers like Benny Hinn can genuinely cure old ladies of incontinence or leukemia or yeast infections just by touching them on the forehead and pushing them into the arms of a stagehand.
• It makes them tool around town on a 10-speed, wearing a short-sleeved white dress shirt and a black clip-on tie, asking folks if they’d like something to discuss The Word of Joseph Smith.
• It makes them strap explosives to their waists and blow themselves up in Jerusalem pizza parlors and on buses taking innocent people to work in Tel Aviv.
• It makes them send large sums of cash to televangelists who prance around on TV wearing fake eyelashes as long as Slurpee straws and enough AquaNet to punch a hole the size of Poughkeepsie in the ozone layer.
• It makes them invite family and friends to witness the ritual mutilation of their son’s penis, after which a buffet of lox and bagels and tuna fish is served.

What ever happened to the day when religious wackos just wore big crosses around their necks and those little God-inspired fish on their cars? Whatever happened to people walking through the supermarker singing “I don’t care if it rains or freezes as long as I’ve got my plastic Jesus riding on the dashboard of my car?”

Perhaps it’s my perception that has changed over the last decade. Maybe these weirdos have been in my midst all along and I have only recently become aware of the twisted shit that they do in the name of The Lord. Either way, I’m seeing an inordinate amount of religious fanaticism lately. And it scares me.

My son has entered a phase in his development where he wants to understand the reasons why people to things. Each new experience and observation begets an interrogation of Hot Wife and me. Why do people shoot guns? Why is bird poop white and black when people poop is just brown? Why do old people smell like fish? Why can’t he have a Snickers before bed? So when the inevitable question of why the man had a tattoo on his neck surfaced, I struggled mightily with an answer that was both accurate and consumable for a four-year-old.

“Well, bud,” I said, “you know how much you love ice cream? Well, some people love God as much as you love ice cream.”

“Yeah, daddy,” he said, “but does that mean I have to have ‘ice cream’ tattooed on my neck?”

“No. Definitely not. Your mother would kill me.”

“Well, then why does that man have God on his neck?”

“Because he’s crazy, son. He’s certifiably batshit. His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top. He’s two fries short of a Happy Meal. See what I’m saying?”

“Yeah. Got it. Can I have some more chocolate milk?”

“No, bud.”

“Why not?”

“Because God says you’ve had enough.”

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Tricky Dick

I hold no delusions that my son is the only four-year-old boy in history who has played with his penis on a regular basis, but I will say this: if there has ever been a boy who could acrobatically contort and manipulate his unit at the same horrifying level that my kid does, I’d be shocked.

As the parent of a child thusly gifted, I am at once overcome with pride and horror. Boys will be boys, yes, and that clearly means they will play with their ding-a-lings whenever the urge to do so hits, regardless of the presence of horrified onlookers, frigid temperatures, physical limitations, social mores, cultural sensitivities, and, in this morning’s case, cracker crumbs.

We were watching Blue’s Clues and as he is wont to do, Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son was sitting naked on the couch, spread eagle, exposing his miniature undercarriage to his sister and his father and his dog and the little blue puppy on the TV and anyone else who dared turn an ill-fated gaze toward our living room.

As the episode wore on, the child began to twist and flick and contort and squeeze and pinch and serenade and punch and cup and generally abuse his bat and balls with unwavering concentration. One often hears athletes describe being “in the zone,” whereupon the basket they shoot at looks as big as a Cadillac and an incoming baseball looks the size of a beachball. I believe my son found that zone this morning. His wiener was suddenly made of Play-Doh and the Fun Factory was open for business.

I’m not a doctor, but I don’t believe the male organ is intended to be twisted into the shape of a Chinese throwing star. I don’t believe it’s supposed to be treated like some kind of animal balloon being squeaked into the shape of a Schnauzer by Chuckles the Clown at little Sally’s birthday party. It’s flesh and blood and God-willing the engine behind the creation of my future grandchildren.

Please, son. Go easy on the poor little guy before you break it off.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I Can't Hear A Thing

What? Did you say something? WHAT?! Sorry, you'll have to speak up a bit.

Must every toy be bastardized with the installation of a siren or the sound of an airplane taking off or the high-pitched voice of a cartoon character or some other cacophony-producing subwoofer that causes those in neighboring homes to duck for cover, believing perhaps that we’re being invaded by Canada or Mars or the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? I mean what the fuck?

What ever happened to quiet toys, like coloring books and matches and unopened bottles of Bicardi? I long for the days of yore, when toys made no sounds and we were inspired to produce them ourselves. I remember playing with my little Star Wars figurines and trying to approximate the voices of Yoda and Darth Vader. I remember fondly playing outside with a magnifying glass, lording over a colony of red ants on a sunny day and promising to fry those little bastards if they came anywhere near me.

Those days are long gone, friends. Nowadays my kids want nothing to do with a toy if it doesn’t rattle their eardrums or produce a vibration that causes Hot Wife and eye to bleed from our eyes and lose control of our bowels.

My in-laws came over last night for Hanukkah dinner and presented Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son with a replica airport – complete with toothless fat women working at the metal detector and a secret room near the employee lounge where innocent vacationers from the Middle East are forcibly disrobed and subjected to a full body cavity search by a 300-pound FBI agent named Bruno. The airport came with a series of vehicles, including a bus, a tow truck, a police car and, of course, a big ol’ jet airliner. I noticed a compartment on the bottom of the plane where batteries were to be installed, so I plugged in two double-A Duracells and was subsequently serenaded by a weeyoo-weeyoo-weeyoo-weeyoo-weeyoo alarm siren at a volume so tragically loud that one of my fillings shook loose.

My son has also become a fan of the Rescue Heroes, a troop of firemen, policemen and other stereotypically macho characters who market a series of toys that make sounds one normally associates with being in a crisis situation but which now serve as entertainment for four-year-old boys. There is a helicopter that has a rope line that can be lowered with a crank – a crank that sounds like a jackhammer when turned. There is a military jet that sounds like the beeping ping-ping-ping of a hospital heart monitor. And there is of course a fire engine that emits the requisite beeping, pinging, sirening noise one associates with real fire engines. It’s just that those sounds don’t normally come from the living room.

I’m at a loss. One of the great struggles in my life is finding three minutes of peace every day, and as each day of Hanukkah passes, my son unwraps another toy that stacks the odds of my finding those three minutes higher and higher against me. I can’t hear myself singing in the shower anymore. I have to scream at the top of my lungs to apologize to Hot Wife for whatever wrong I’ve committed during the day. And even when I have an electric toothbrush vibrating in my mouth, the orchestra of beeps and talking Barney dolls and crashing race car crunches is loud enough to drown out the buzz of a Sonicare that is only an inch from my ear drum.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I’m Sick About This. Sick, I Tell You. Sick!

I don’t tend to get sick very often, but when I do it’s usually something really dramatic. Like the time back in April when my wife and kids were out of town and what seemed like a run-of-the-mill cold deteriorated to the point that I found myself lying in bed and unable to move for four hours. Seeing as how it was the weekend and my doctor was out playing golf or screwing his secretary or something, I decided the only legitimate course of action was to drag my ass to the emergency room.

The ER is a very disturbing, very unsavory place to be, especially when you feel like dogshit. The one they show on NBC doesn’t even tell half of the story because they never show frail old ladies on death’s doorstep who smell like piss or stupid people getting 88 stitches in the next room because they nearly severed their own fingers opening a can of cling peaches in their own juice or doctors who are more concerned with giving some flunky candy-striper their Burger King order than with ACTUALLY DELIVERING HEALTH CARE TO THE SICK DUDE IN ER BED 4! And trust me, I was feeling all kinds of fucked up that day.

After a two hour wait, the ER doctor finished her Whopper with cheese and came to see if I was still alive. I was. Barely. She took a throat culture (which is kind of like trying to swallow a golf club), ran some tests, ruled out a case of mono, wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and sent me home to convalesce so she could go back and finish her fries.

Fast forward to late last week when my mailbox frowned on me with an envelope from the hospital. I opened the envelope to find a bill for $609.17, which they claim is my portion of the bill for the services rendered that day.

I don’t understand this. I turned the bill over to look at the itemized charges:

$362.34 for “clinical lab.” What’s that?
$51.87 for something called “lab call back.” If that’s as meaningless as it sounds – and it sounds like someone picked up the Batphone to the lab and said, “Hey, Phil, any word on the Evans kid’s syphilis test yet?” – I’m going to shit a brick.
$42.99 for “pharmacy oral solid,” which I don’t believe is related in any way to the anal solid I spawned when I saw this bill.
And so on.

Believe you me, I’m about to get on the horn with my insurance company – which also happens to be my employer – and cruse up a blue streak about how I’m being unjustly billed here and they’d better get this ship turned around stat before I call my contact over there at the KCAL Evening News (“Live! Local! Late Breaking!”) and tell them they don’t like Jews at a certain hospital or at a certain insurance company.

I can see it now: a picket line of rabbis and yentas and orthodox Jews out in front of the hospital, carrying signs that say, “I’ve got your pharmacy oral solid right here, you Jew-hating bastards!” Then Barbara Streisand will get up on the stage and scream into the microphone: “We will not rest until Daniel Evans’ bill is expunged and the old lady piss is cleaned up and this hospital starts treating Jews with respect!”

Oh yes, my friends. A reckoning is coming.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Do As I Say, Not As I Pick

I told my son to stop picking his nose this morning and the irony of the admonition struck me immediately. He’s only engaging in the behaviors his old man has modeled for him. We can only hope that McGriddle addiction and perpetual flatulence don’t follow.

In my own defense, I believe there is a significant difference between my nose picking and my son’s. Mine serves a specific purpose: the extraction of crusted obstructions that threaten to interfere with my breathing, my comfort and my ability to carry out a conversation with my boss without him becoming completely distracted by the whistling of my nose. Also, as noted a few days ago, boogers are an excellent weapon against n’er-do-well teenage girls on the highways and byways of America.

Conversely, my son’s nose picking seems less about a specific goal than about a pastime. To him, having the first two knuckles of his index finger in his nose is comfort, like sucking a thumb or rocking back and forth or copping a touch-buzz from a favorite blanket. It’s not as though he’s paying conscious attention to what he’s doing. His focus is solely on the television screen or the book we’re reading, and I believe strongly that he has no idea that he is tickling the inside of his nose and on occasion removing the finger, rolling something between his thumb and index finger and flicking it in the general direction of his little sister. He’s in some kind of weird nose-picking trance, kind of like a cobra under the spell of a snake charmer.

I would like to believe that this is standard four-year-old behavior, but I’m not that dim. I know that my son sees me digging for gold on my own nose on a regular basis – especially if we’re driving somewhere – and he has come to believe that this is what men do. We watch sports, we say “dude” before or after each sentence, we drink large quantities of soft drinks, and we pick our noses. We’re men, and this is what men do.

I believe it is now incumbent upon me to right this wrong, to model more appropriate mucous-related behaviors for my son, lest he eliminate the possibility of ever finding true love because no woman will ever want to go to the prom with a boy who picks his nose during fifth period chemistry class. So today I will go to the supermarket and, horror of all horrors, I will buy a package of Kleenex, take it home, and show my son how to blow his nose like a gentleman.

Twenty bucks says the kid eventually teaches himself to wrap a Kleenex around his index finger and pick his nose with it.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Careful, Sweetheart. You’re Sitting on Santa’s Testicles

If you were a child in the San Fernando Valley during the early 1990s, there’s a good chance you sat on my lap.

I was Santa Claus. Yes, me: the six-foot-three, 160-pound Jewish kid who wouldn’t know yuletide cheer from All-Temperature Cheer. I sat in the big, red throne in the middle of the Northridge Mall, right next to Orange Julius, and posed with you for a $5 Polaroid.

You asked me for an Easy-Bake Oven or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure or a Betsy Wetsy doll, and I said yes to it all because I had gotten stoned to the bejesus in the parking lot before I put on the puffy red costume and, if we’re being honest, I would have said yes to anything that got you off of my lap before my right testicle burst under the combined weight of you and your crabby little brother.

Sometimes you cried hysterically. Sometimes your mother practically had to do jumping jacks to get you to smile for the picture. Sometimes you peed your pants or smelled like your diaper hadn’t been changed since St. Patrick’s Day. Sometimes you played with my itchy white beard or my velvety red coat. But you never seemed to notice that my big, honking Jew schnoz was the antithesis of Santa’s jolly, red nose. And you never seemed to care that the candy cane my little elf friends gave you was stale because it was from the same batch we’d been handing out for three years.

I never really paid that much attention to what you wanted or whether you had been naughty or nice. What did I care? I was Jewish and Jewish kids are never queried as to their behavior during the previous year. They get their Hanukkah presents either way, which essentially gives them carte blanche to act like dipshits year-round. Plus, my focus was almost exclusively on my coworkers in Santa’s Workshop, the perky little female elves, who were dressed in little green elf skirts and tight green elf stockings. Sorry, kids, but Santa has needs, too.

I never did understand the masses of parents who turned out each December to let their precious children sit on the lap of a complete stranger. But there you were, dressed in your Sunday best, posing for a photo and asking for a remote control monster truck or a princess dress or a little puppy. And I said yes to all of you because, look, what do I care? You could have asked me for a machete or a sawed-off shotgun or a package of C-4 explosives and I would have said yes to that, too. And then if your parents ended up buying you argyle socks or My First Book About Coin Collecting instead, they were the ones who would have to explain to you that that is what children get when they don’t clean their rooms or when they hit their sister or when they tell their third grade teacher that she smells like rotten eggs.

Santa knows who’s been naughty or nice, kids, even though he smells like marijuana and has a hooked Jew nose.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Pimp My Sinus Infection

Now that the hardcore throes of my own private sinus infection hell have abated, I am enjoying what I believe to be the colossally underrated afterglow of nose and throat ailments – chasing the hardened remnant boogers around the inside of my nose with my fingers, keys, pen, nail clippers and car radio antenna.

I was reminded this afternoon just how fun this stage of sickness can be. I was driving to the mall on a busy street near Evans World Headquarters, just kind of lost on a safari into my right nostril. I don’t know how long I was hunting or how many fingers I had used, but I looked to my right and saw a bright yellow Xterra full of teenaged girls looking at me, laughing, pantomiming the action of picking their noses. One girl also crossed her eyes. Another wiped an imaginary booger on the window in front of her. Then the light turned green and they drove off, probably thinking I’m some sicko. What, like they never pick their noses when they’re alone in the car? Right. And I’m the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

I happen to be very good at picking my nose. But today I seemed to be having a little trouble with the crusty little bastard in my right nostril. Every time I thought I had it, it squirted out of my grasp and up into the little cavity where fingers don’t dare tread – the area that separates your brains from your nose. Whenever the little guy retreated back to that cavity, I’d pinch closed the opposite nostril and blow a little air through my nose. That did the trick every time.

Finally, as I pulled into the mall parking lot, I extracted the offending mucous. I hurt a little, but that’s because I pulled a few nose hairs out in my fervent attempts to trap the booger. Lo and behold, as I exited the Honda CR-V I noticed that the yellow Xterra that ferried the teenaged girls who were laughing at me was parked just three spots down the same aisle. I knew it was the same car because there was a streaked fingerprint on the left rear window where that one smarmy bitch wiped her imaginary snot.

I got out of my car with my freshly yanked booger still attached to my index finger. Then I walked over and wiped that bad boy right on the front windshield of the Xterra.

As I walked away from the crime scene, I thought to myself, “Ha! Take that, bitches! You got served!”

Friday, December 03, 2004

Adventures in the Men's Room

I was purging my bladder of Diet Coke this afternoon when a coworker I didn’t recognize emerged from one of the stalls, waddled over to the sink, washed his hands, checked his nose for boogers, yanked some paper towels from the dispenser, dried his hands and then inexplicably ran the paper towels across the top of his head, front to back.

“Dude, what the hell are you doing?” I asked, horrified.

“I’m fixing my hair,” he said matter-of-factly. “Who the hell are you?”

“I’m the guy who has never seen anyone use the same paper towel he used to wipe poo from his hands to make sure his hair spikes were all in order,” I said. “Who are you?”

“I’m the guy who’s about to beat your ass if you don’t mind your own business,” he said.

“Ooooooh, scary,” I said, “but I think a better name for you would be ‘Shithead,’ seeing as how that is both literally and figuratively accurate,” I said.

He shook his head and left. I presume the five-syllable word was more than his head could handle.

Reveling in my victory, I moseyed over to the sink to wash my hands. As I did so, I smiled at the handsome devil in the mirror and what smiled back was a horrifying creature straight out of the oral hygiene video they show at the pediatric dentist.

See, there’s this restaurant near my office that serves nothing but buffalo wings. Kung Pao wings, teriyaki wings, honey barbecue wings, and a category guaranteed to be so spicy that it makes your butt shoot sparks when you fart. I went to this restaurant for lunch and clearly managed to lodge more chicken meat between my teeth than I did in my belly. When I smiled at myself in the mirror, I saw so much detritus jammed in between my choppers that it roughly approximated the grill of an 18-wheeler hauling ass through a swarm of fruit flies.

I needed more than floss. I needed a hammer and a chisel. Since none of them was readily available, I resorted to the strategy of my dear father-in-law: I retrieved a business card from my wallet and began to saw between my teeth with it. Chicken pieces came flicking out of my mouth and splattering on the bathroom mirror in front of me. One left a small hairline crack.

Just then my old pal Shithead returned, presumably to wipe more excrement into his hair. He saw me and a look of anger washed over his chubby face.

“You and I have unfinished business,” he said.

“You’re right,” I said.

And with that I stuck the business card between my two front teeth and fired a grape-sized piece of buffalo wing at him. It was a direct hit, right into his left eye.

Shithead fell to the floor hollering something or other about his vision. I walked toward the exit, stepped over his writhing body and pushed open the door. This battle was won.

Before the door could close completely, I shouted back to Shithead: “Don’t start a fight you can’t win, son. And don’t let me catch you putting poo in your hair again.”


TODAY’S READER QUESTION

Q: What are you getting Hot Wife for Hanukkah?
- Joe in Vegas

A: Living with me is enough of a gift in itself, sir. And I’ll thank you to mind your own beeswax.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

All I Want For Hanukkah

I have finally decided what I want for Hanukkah this year. Sex. Lots and lots of sex. Sweaty, groping, face-contorting sex.

Not gonna happen. It’s not that Hot Wife doesn’t like that kind of thing. It’s just that we have two whiney children and a weak-bladdered dog who farts and cable television, so by the time any notion of conjugal relations may arise (for lack of a better term), we’re either too tired or too enthralled by The Apprentice to act upon it. Were I to ask Hot Wife for the gift of ess ee ex, she’s likely to hand me a bottle of Jergen’s lotion and a wash cloth, pat me on the butt and say, “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”

So now I am beginning to drift uncontrollably into panic mode. Hanukkah is less than a week away and I have not yet been able to zero in on what I want Hot Wife to buy me as a symbol of her love, respect, appreciation, worship, obedience, lust, admiration, attraction and pride for me (all of which are completely justified, naturally). I have to be very specific with my wife – item, brand, price range, store of preference, product number, UPC code – or I am likely to get a three-pack of Gold Toe socks from Marshall’s and a Neil Sedaka CD from the cut-out bin at Wal-Mart.

I thought for a few days that I might want a new pair of Oakley sunglasses. I have a pair of bitchen blue ones that make me look cooler than The Fonz and Vin Deisel put together, but the left earpiece broke in half while I was holding a certain squirmy one-year-old girl on my lap during her brother’s Thanksgiving play at school. Sadly, a new pair of Oakley sunglasses costs roughly the same as it would cost to feed the entire nation of Uganda a McGriddle every day for the next three years, so I opted to have the old glasses repaired, which Oakley did for free. If you know anyone from Uganda, tell them to call me.

Now what? With sex and sunglasses eliminated from consideration, what can I possibly request that will quench the thirst of my inner materialist? I looked at some of those funny shaped Nike watches yesterday, but I’m afraid I would look like an absolute poseur wearing one. I thought about clothes or music or video games, but I simply don’t trust my wife to buy any of those things for me. Picture a 34-year-old man rolling down the street in a Honda CR-V wearing a brown argyle sweater and powder blue corduroy pants, listening to Dionne Warwick’s Greatest Hits, on his way home to play a bass fishing game with his horrified son and daughter. “Mommy, why does daddy dress like Alex P. Keaton and listen to that silly music?”

Perhaps I should just tell her I want a gift certificate.


TODAY’S READER QUESTION

Q: Danny, is it true that Jewish people don’t have Christmas trees?
-- Eunice, Winnipeg, ONT

A: Yes, Eunice, that’s true. We also churn our own butter, pee sitting down and draw pictures of Moses and Abraham on the eastern-facing walls of our homes with the blood of cute little bunny rabbits and chipmunks.


(If you would like to submit a question to Human Writes, you may do so via e-mail at daniel at daniel evans dot net.) (By the way, don’t you think it’s so cool that I spelled out my e-mail address like that instead of using the boring old @ and .?) (I do.) (Screw you if you don’t think I’m cool.) (Who asked you anyway?) (Bitches.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

She Don’t Lie. She Don’t Lie. She Don’t Lie. Caffeine.

I don’t recall what I was thinking when I made the decision to stop drinking caffeine, but I’d say the chances that I was hopped up on at least a six-pack of artificially sweetened carbonated heaven are pretty good. Perhaps that was it. Perhaps I saw how beholden I was to caffeine and that was why I decided to give it up. Or maybe I was drunk. Who knows?

I have reason to believe that my parents put Pepsi in my baby bottles – a reason based largely on the fact that I simply cannot think of a day in my life when I was not under the influence of a wicked caffeine buzz. All of the pinnacle moments of my life – my wedding, the birth of my kids, the first time I tasted Frosted Mini-Wheats – have been viewed through pupils dilated by Diet Coke. It’s not just some chemical that I imbibe. I give it more respect than to merely call it an ingredient.

Caffeine is who I am. Drink me.

One day I just decided it was time to eliminate it from my diet, and what followed was a week pocked with headaches, blurred vision, irritability, lethargy and general physical malaise that could only be approximated by taking a large prehistoric creature – think Godzilla – who is both addicted to heroin and enduring severe premenstrual cramping and throw that bitch into detox for a week without even so much as one Advil. There were wild mood swings, tantrums, broken glass, hurt feelings, weight loss, incessantly furrowed brows and a perplexing desire to disembowel anyone who asked me if something was wrong. “Of course something is wrong, you dirty whore! I haven’t been to Starbucks in a week! Now back off before I feed you my shoe!”

And that was just the family dog.

My mood eventually equalized and staying away from caffeine became less and less difficult. I started drinking Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, Caffeine-Free Diet Dr. Pepper, Caffeine-Free Root Beer, Caffeine-Free Squirt, decaffeinated coffee and – horror of horrors – water, which can not be robbed of its caffeine because the shit never had caffeine to begin with, which in my book puts in on the same plain as crystal meth, Hitler and the way my pee smells after I’ve eaten asparagus.

In spite of all of these tribulations, I maintained my caffeine-free diet for six months. I was cleansed. The devil was cast out. My pupils returned to their default dilation, my pulse slowed, my energy dipped from the level of a hyperactive five-year-old to that of a normal human being.

But like so many others, one slip led me back into temptation. I was in a meeting at a hotel and someone was mumbling on and on about sales or something and there was one of those little bottles of Diet Coke just sitting there asking me to drink it and I was weak. I drank it. I felt the bubbley goodness slide down my gullet. I felt my limbs tingle and jerk when the caffeine hit my nervous system. And then out of nowhere the caffeine grabbed hold of me like a puppet on a string. I ripped off my shirt, buttons flying everywhere, jumped up onto the table in the middle of the hotel ballroom, put my hands under my armpits in the shape of birdie wings and shouted, “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Braaaack! Braaaack! I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!”

Did you know that they don’t serve Starbucks in the psych ward? What a rip-off.