Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Adventures of ZebraBoy

If you perused my previous post, you now understand that my early years were not banner ones, in the fashion sense. Sadly, this trend would continue.

In my first weeks of high school, I learned that wearing white pants over brown-and-white striped underwear was a questionable call. In time, people stopped calling me ZebraBoy, but my confidence was shaken. In a later phase, my sleeveless kamikaze shirt with a mesh tank overlay, accessorized with a studded armband, was cool to me but intimidating to no one. And my phase of wearing a black half-tee (midriff exposed) with three-quarters sleeves was just wrong; it didn’t even take me long to realize that.

Running shoes served as the year-round footwear choice throughout my childhood. I always wanted North Star running shoes, which were easily double the price of most other offerings. According to my father, it was asinine to pay that kind of money for sneakers you would outgrow or wear out in short order. He may have been right, but his resistance just made him seem out of touch, and it only strengthened my resolve.

I would fight my parents for hours, and drive my father into a near-rage, by debating the merits (and yuckiness) of various types of runners.

“Dad, those shoes suck.” As did everything my parents suggested, by default. “Do you really want your kid to be killed? I will be beaten up the second anyone sees those shoes. You won’t even have a middle child anymore. You can then take the shoes off my cold dead feet and give them to Paul, and then he can be killed, too. Do you really want all those deaths on your conscience?”

Shoes may make the man, but a bad shoe choice could ruin a kid. I have since had these same debates with kids begging for expensive skate shoes, with soles so broad and long that today’s youth look like a society of future giants, expanding from the ground up. Their center of gravity is so low you’d have to hit them at a full run to tip them over.

In my early school years, there were few rules about maintaining hair, except it couldn’t look like you gave a crap, and your eyes should be covered except when you chose to expose them. As a consequence, in many school pictures I could be the blond sibling of the Fry Guys from the McDonald’s ads. One of the biggest mistakes, though, was in starting to care.

Throughout high school, I found nothing unusual in waking my mother each morning to curl and "feather" my shoulder-length hair. My brother had started this tradition a couple of years prior. Coiffed in this fashion, I could cruise in confidence, knowing that as I moved my hair would always stay in its stylish place. My wife has burst blood vessels and gagged on her laughter each time I’ve cracked open this window to my past. To my eternal shame and her endless delight, this story has served as icebreaker for countless parties. She reminds me (and our audience) of just how messed-up it was to have Mommy serve as my personal stylist.

As I recall these memories, and flip through photos of my youth and younger adulthood, I realize that never in my life—not once—have I ever looked in the mirror and liked what stared back at me. My glasses were always too large, or too small. My jeans were always too tight. I mixed terrycloth with satin, and rubber boots with dress slacks. I was a mess. I'm not much better today.

Today, when someone snaps a picture of me, I anticipate the negative reaction I’ll have later on. I still cannot believe the number of photos in which I have something that looks either entirely or somewhat like a mullet. The one exception is a picture of a perm that hints at Peter Frampton worship.

How did this happen? Why didn’t anyone tell me? And won’t someone keep me from making the same mistakes?


Years of the Balaclava

Throughout my younger years, I tried many times to appear fashionable. I never quite got it right. Consider the evidence:

The early- to mid-1970s were, for me, The Years of the Balaclava. For those not up on obscure outerwear, a balaclava is a knit hat, not unlike a ski mask. However, because your full face is exposed (instead of just your eyes and mouth), you look less like a character from Dog Day Afternoon and more like a floating egg or a pasty full moon.

Additional balaclava material extends below the top of your coat, at the front and back, for warmth. On mine, cut-outs on the left and right sides kept the material from bunching under the chin. This worked—for a time. But as my head grew (and did it ever), the flaps drew up out of the coat and dangled like an oversized turkey’s waddle. Naturally, my balaclava—and attached waddle—were bright red.

Mittens knit by my godmother arrived each Christmas as the unappreciated appendage to the much-valued, cash-filled holiday envelope. We dutifully said “thank you,” every time, but outerwear as a gift leaves most kids a little cold (no pun intended.)

For the younger set, said mittens were connected by a long strand of yarn. The prevailing theory was that if mittens were more or less hard-wired to your clothing, you could never lose them. In reality, instead of losing one mitten, you always lost both. Besides, if you picked a pair too small for your age, a sudden movement forward with one arm yanked the other violently behind your back. I approximated many exciting kung fu moves in this manner, and lost street hockey games when I couldn’t raise my stick for a slap shot.

This is not to say I’ve never made attempts to be cool. At fifteen, I purchased my first black leather jacket, which I paired with a crisp white dress shirt with either two or three buttons undone. The choice depended upon just how cool I wanted my hairless chest to look. With my new jacket, dress shirt (collar up, naturally) and excruciatingly tight blue jeans (Jordache, I believe, or Cream), I was ready to do what we called “cruising.”

To cruise, one would walk in purposeful strides through public places, making very slow movements of the head from side to side in sync with an almost imperceptible bounce and hip-swing combination. Smiling was taboo, as this made you look approachable—ergo, not cool. Better to look angry and defiant, to do your clothes justice. When asked one's plans for the day, the standard reply was, “Juuuuuust fuck-in' ker-roo-sin!”

The leather jacket was never zipped, regardless of weather—this would bleed the jacket of all inherent style, and leave one open to harsh mockery. Another steadfast rule: one could never wear a hat (or balaclava), or gloves, or scarf, or anything else that would protect against wind or snow. Responding in any way to a driving Alberta clipper that made the bones of your nose hurt meant you were a “fag”. On the most bitter days, one concession was allowed: the tips of the fingers (not thumbs) could be jammed into the tops of the jean pockets, but only if the elbows were extended outward to make you look more imposing. To wear mittens would be to condemn oneself to style purgatory.

Before leather I went through a denim phase, which has its own rules. A jean jacket was only as cool as the ornamentation with which one adorned it, in the form of patches and buttons. Mine included logos for Van Halen and Molly Hatchet (neither of whom I cared for at the time, but the intertwined V and H looked awesome) and Iron Maiden. Did all rock bands of the 70s and 80s have logos? Why?

My buttons featured pot leaves, brands of liquor and the ever-popular “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.” Also, I enhanced my jacket by coating it with beer caps, affixed by pushing the tab from a loaf of bread through the fabric and into the cap.

Shirts with expressions were acceptable, too, as long as they made some reference to popular vices. We really thought women of all ages would want to know that as long as we had a face, they had a place to sit, or that without any expenditure on their part, they could enjoy a mustache ride. For some reason I still can’t fathom, my father was willing to let me have a T-shirt bearing the slogan Golden Nugget Saloon: Liquor in the Front, Poker in the Rear, but barred Save Energy: Fart in a Jar because it sounded “vulgar.”

With the full complement of images confirming that yes, in fact, I liked sex, drugs and rock and roll, I had to be cool, right?

Coming soon: Part II: The Adventures of ZebraBoy


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

She said, she said

This morning I felt a rare creative burst and, wanting to corral it before it sprinted away, I started typing like a man possessed. If my next book sells, you'll be able to ensconce yourself in another of my many delightful takes on human excrement. Just try to contain your excitement.

While I was tapping away, Patty and our daughter Kelly left for school. Kelly returned briefly to let me know that we'd forgotten to take the garbage out the night before, so I'd have to take care of it. I mumbled, "Mmmph", which is Canadian for "Okay," or, "That sucks." And then I forgot all about it for the next three hours.

When the garbage truck roared by and I subsequently raced outdoors in a frenzy, I was already too late. So I returned and nervously initiated a dialogue over Google Talk with Patty. I've included the discussion here. I've added translation to help clarify the difference between what Patty wrote and what I'm pretty sure Patty actually meant.

Me: “Shit! I forgot to take the garbage out until now and, of course, today they came early for the first time ever.”

Her: “Man. I thought Kelly went in to tell you that it wasn’t done.” Translation: You never listen, putz.

Me: “She did, but I screwed up. Sorry.”

Her: “What do we do?” What the fuck is wrong with you?

Me: “Well, I guess we’ll have to hold on to it for another week. I’m really sorry. I was writing that story about remember...and I got distracted.”

Her: “It’s going to be really smelly. We had crab last night.” Hey asshole, thanks for stinking up the neighborhood!

Me: “I don’t know what I can do. All of the houses on all sides had theirs picked up.”

Her: “Okay. Maybe I can figure something out.” Great, now I'm going to have to smuggle the garbage you forgot into some dumpster somewhere.

Me: “It’s not that big of a deal. Maybe it will get cold and the garbage will freeze.”

Her: “Okay, it’s no big deal.” It’s a big deal. Did you get that? A B-I-G D-E-A-L.

Me: “Now you hate me! Bad, bad husband!”

Her: “No, it’s okay.” I hate you! Bad, bad husband!

Me: “I will go into the kitchen and stab myself in the eye with a crab leg. Okay?”

Her: “Sure thing. Let me know when you’ve done it.” Sure thing. Hurry. Or can I do it?

Me: “Okay…stand by. I couldn’t get it past my eyelid. I kept blinking.”

Her: “Oh. Chicken!” If I was home, you'd have no chance to chicken out.

Me: “I didn’t try chicken. Should I?”

Her: “No, it will get infected. Just leave it.” I don’t want second-hand salmonella.

Me: “Fine. It’s your call. I could punch myself in the testicles, though.”

Her: “No. Never mind.” You'd pull your punch.

Me: “I’ll keep the garbage on my side of the bed all week. That’ll teach me.”

Her: “No thanks. That sounds unpleasant.” …unless you sleep in another room.

Me: “Why don’t you come up with something creative, like, ‘No sex until I get home from work?’”

Her: “How about no sex until the garbage gets picked up?” I want to be a trifle barbaric.

Me: “That seems a trifle barbaric.”

Her: “Of course.” Of course.

Me: “I could eat the moldy tuna salad you found in the fridge. Oh, great, now you’re thinking about the moldy tuna salad spending an extra week in the garbage.”

Her: "Gross.” Yes, that’s all I’ll think about.

Me: “Forgive me?”

Her: “Yes. I have to run to the bathroom. I’ll be back in a bit. Cool?” No...never. I won't forgive and, trust me, I'll never forget.

Me: “Okay…if I haven’t maimed myself.”

Her: “Does that somehow prevent me from returning?” I could easily live with out you. Watch me.

Me: “No, it just means I may be in a puddle of blood and therefore unable to type.”

Her: “Okay, if you don’t respond, I’ll know why.” Make sure you put down drop-sheets, first.

Me: "Love you, baby."

Her: "Love you, too." ♫ Can't find a better man, no, can't find a better man ♫


Monday, November 16, 2009

Escaping the Cult of Celebrity

How would we ever get through our workaday existences were it not for the sage celebrities who help us understand the more subtle nuances of a life lived well?

This morning, I learned that ousted Miss California USA competitor Carrie Prejean feels there’s nothing wrong with Christians opting to enhance their bust size, because she “doesn’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says you shouldn’t get breast implants.” No, really? In a book that predated plastic surgery by centuries—not a single mention?

I think there may be a passage here and there that Ms. Prejean could take to be an endorsement. What about that “cup runneth over” bit? Or, "I am a wall, and my breasts like towers"?

Of course, that’s silly. If people let me and Carrie bend the meaning of the words in the Bible to suit our own selfish whims, what’s next? Will people feel free to express backward views about gay marriage?

Still, even though I’m no fan of Ms. Prejean’s synthetic bosom, I do like her thinking.

"Sorry, officer. I do realize that I knocked back a whole bottle of Jagrmeister while driving this evening, and that you may think it unwise to be going 120 miles an hour through a residential street. And yes, you’re right: I am completely naked. But let me ask you this: if you check your Bible, am I really in the wrong?”

Without Hailey Glassman’s comments about Jon Gosselin’s supposed “Jekyll and Hyde” personality, I’d never have known that when I was screaming, “You stupid, stubborn cow-bitch” at my clogged kitchen sink during two hours of fruitless plunging yesterday, I may just have been having a “mantrum,” instead of being an insufferable prick with no handyman skills. This makes me feel a little bad about all the names I’ve called women over the years when they were PMSing—which the new, more sensitive me will now refer to as “womanic-depressive episodes” (albeit, from a safe distance).

Leighton Meester, of Gossip Girl fame, recently offered, “Guys who are unavailable are actually a dream come true for me because I’m unavailable all of the time. It’s great they’re not down your throat.” Great for you...not so…oh, skip it…that’s just too easy.

Why do we listen to celebrities? What gives them any sort of special insight into what it’s like to live in a world in which seven-figure paychecks are far from the norm? Are they better people? Better parents? I’m not so sure. Still, they speak and we listen. And maybe, just maybe, they’re sometimes right.

Consider the words of the great American role model Sarah Palin: “Show me where the open door is, even if it’s cracked open a little bit, maybe I’ll plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it.”

I agree, Sarah. In fact, I could not agree more.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just another feel-good rabbit penis story

I, for one, was more than thrilled to learn about a groundbreaking scientific discovery in the area of “renewed HARE growth”—specifically, the partial removal and then substantial enlargement of rabbit penises at a North Carolina university (or, as I've now come to know it, the Land Where Animals Take One for the Team.)

I’m also convinced I’ve missed my vocational calling. I’d just love to carry on this end of a conversation:

“So, what do you do? Oh, an accountant; that sounds fun. What do I do? Oh, heh, heh, nothing special. See that rabbit over there? No, no, he’s not floating. Nope, that’s no pedestal. Look closer…”

A moment of patience, a warm smile, and then, “How YOU doin’!”

It seems rabbit-pecker experts have been successful in removing a substantial section of junk from a number of rabbits (none of whom, I would bet, were volunteers) and then, after doing a few rounds of laboratory sleight of hand, reattaching bigger, stronger, supercharged bunny-dicks on the suddenly oh-so-confident test animals. No participants were available for interviews, but most were, I am sure, forgiving of their forced participation.

I wasn’t at all enthusiastic about what this discovery meant for these footloose skank-hos of the animal kingdom—they’ll still be a menace to my vegetable garden, even if they’re dragging fur-wrapped English cucumbers across the lawn—but the human implications are enough to make me sit up and clap my paws.

Scientists hope to transfer this learning to the area of human penile enlargement—of course. Otherwise, why bother even telling us? Just consider the possibilities.

You’re a young man of average appearance, hopelessly lost amid a sea of hotties in a dance club. You finally work up the nerve to approach an attractive gal, who turns away sharply at your approach. Timidly, you tap her on the shoulder and, when she turns, you break the ice.

“Hi there. My name is Jeff.”


Another turn. Another tap.

“So, I don’t suppose you’d like me to buy you a drink?"


"Then I don't suppose you'd like to see my genetically enhanced and freakishly oversized superphallus, would you?”

She flips up her smallest finger, wiggles it and grunts, “It’s probably like this.”

Whereupon, by way of retort, you simply unzip and, with a quick flip of the wrist, smack both the self-righteous look off her face and the drinks off three nearby tables. Zipping back up, you retreat to a quiet corner and wait for your newfound popularity to come to you.

No word as yet when I’ll be the first human volunteer but, when I am, you’ll know. Oh yes, you WILL know.

NOTE: Not all future stories on this blog will involve animal penises; well, not directly, anyway.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Holy Fellatio, Batgal!

If bonobo monkeys share 98.7% of our DNA, it must be that other 1.3% that males of the human species covet above all others. Tucked away amid those few sparse strands, next to the primal urge to sling feces hither and yon, must be the ever-elusive and much-coveted Random Blow Job Gene.

If you're a monkey, and you're reading this, know this: I despise you.

It’s no secret that it takes little more than a wry wink to lure a bonobo out of one of your better monkey bars and into the alley for a lightning round of drop-and-polish. Females and boy-nobos alike get in on the act; apparently, to them, monkey balls are gummi bears.

Heeeeeeey sailor. Is that a plantain under your fur? Whoo-whoo-whoo!

Now, I’m no expert on primate society, but I have to think your average bonobo is a world-class expert at hiding boredom—and why not? One ill-timed yawn and they find themselves stuffed from gums to gullet in monkey junk. It’s crazy, for sure, but nobody can say bonobos don’t know how to throw a party.

Generally, humans aren’t as open to this. I’ve yet to meet a husband who can walk up to his wife while she’s watching a home improvement show and, without even waiting for a commercial break, unceremoniously go to town on her face. If such a man exists, it’s a safe bet his member gives off the distinctive aroma of high-quality Belgian chocolate; either that, or he’s just cleaned the house, put the kids to bed, given his wife a foot massage and slipped something into each of her last three glasses of Chardonnay.

So, needless to say, I was a tad bitter this morning when I read that bonobos aren’t the only ones marching merrily up to the gloryhole. Apparently, one variety of fruit bat is taking oral artistry to a higher plain.

If you're a bat, and you're reading this, know this: I hate you even more.

Male members of the genus Cynopterus Sphinx (I defy you to find a better porn name), a short-nosed fruit bat, routinely receive a very special form of attention from not one, but many, females. This, to most men, would be enough reason to resent evolution. But there’s more.

While performing dorsoventral copulation (where dorsoventral means “extending from the dorsal to the ventral side”…a position that seems ridiculously ambitious), the female performs continuous oral sex on the exposed portion of the male member that isn’t already absurdly content.

And, dammit, there’s still more.

Apparently, the reason the female does this (because altruism, it would seem, isn’t reason enough) is that it's the only way to keep the male interested in sex. Excuse me?

I guess these bat-babes are willing to perform this most amazing sort of service because, if they didn’t, the male bat would just give up and go do whatever bats do when they’re not on the receiving end of sex acts most of us wouldn’t even know how to pay for.

Fucking bats. Fucking bonobos. Fucking Darwin. I hate you all more than ever.

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