Monday, November 30, 2009
It helps to know what's going on when you ask the question, "What the fuck is going on?"
And I ask that question. Frequently.
I ask that question because events in the world baffle me. They confuse me. They annoy me. They are, more often than not, beyond me. There's been a good number of crazy, stupid, frightening and unfortunate events in the news in recent days, and I've been conspicuously silent about many of them, because, well, I've needed to blog about cars and undershirts.
You know how it is.
But I love commenting on world or national or local events. The kind of writing I love to do, second only to blogging, is editorial writing after all. So, let's look at the week that was, and see what we think of that.
As I'm sure you've heard, some aging turd and his blonde wifelette faked their way into a state dinner at the White House and got photographed shaking Obama's hand and checking out Mrs. First Lady's much-lauded biceps. No, they weren't invited, and, no, they weren't supposed to be there-- but there they were. They even got formally announced, like in that old Saturday Night Live sketch ("Presenting My Lord & Lady Douche-Bag!") Apparently, the bitch-in-question wanted to flaunt her exhibitionism even further by showing up in a fire-engine-red sari. Lots of questions have been raised about what should be done with these people-- should they face criminal charges for this security breach or should it be treated as a harmless incident and chalk the whole thing up to necessary Secret Service training revisions.
My advice? Execute them.
Tiger Woods wrapped his 2009 Cadillac Escalade around a neighbor's tree at around 2 o'clock in the morning, a time when megasuperstar athletes typically discover that they're out of 2% milk and need to visit the local Circle-K. My question isn't whether or not Woods was drunk, or stoned, or had just had a fight with his wife or his Pomeranian, or whether there's a police coverup or legal consipracy or public relations spin.
My question is: what the fuck was that dude doing driving a Cadillac? Isn't he Buick's bitch? I mean, I realize that Cadillac & Buick both belong to the General-- but still-- where's the loyalty? Where's the love? Tiger-- you fucked up.
(No, I'm not still on about Tiger Woods.)
Walmart opened early. Kohls and Old Navy were both open at 3 o'clock. Best Buy was probably never not open-- who can keep track? In the words of my wife, "They're all just a bunch of filthy disgusting hookers anyway."
Nevertheless, people pounded down the doors for the newest Wii Fit and G.I. Joe-- PTSD American Hero, and Assrapeme Elmo to shove down their kids' throats this Christmas. Nevermind that we're in a recession and unemployment is at 98.7%-- where's my new iPhone, mom, you out-of-work bitch?
Thank God the media finally has a secular holiday on which to report. I hate the awkward, uninformed way newscasters report on Jewish holidays, in their inept, bumbling fashion.
"Jews everywhere wail at the Passover plate in celebration of 10 days of Chaeynakippccchhccchveroshasteinberg. This festival of light and money honors the time when Jews split the sky and ate the tablets of despair. They wear a loincloth of... um... cloth and grow beards for several days in this beautiful, pagan ceremony."
A Hometown Massacre
Not to end on a total downer, but, as hard as it is to believe, there was actually real news this week. On Sunday morning, four Lakewood, Washington police officers were sitting in a cafe, using their laptops, catching up on paperwork and easing into their caffeine buzz when a gunman entered the cafe and shot them all to death. 3 officers, 1 sergeant -- 3 men, one woman, all assassinated because of the little piece of metal on their chests.
And today, as you remember your family meal and your good feelings from the holiday, as you return to your regular life, give one extra thanks for those four cops who won't be returning to theirs.
And that's the news, diverse and silly and stupid, and sad, from My Masonic Apron.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
"OOohh! I love them all! What if I had three heads?"
The sales associates look at each other in a moment of painful awkwardness until Hulce himself bursts into his personification of Mozart's high-pitched hysterics. Once they know it's a joke, the wig salesmen erupt in effete titters and applaud Mozart roundly for his "funny."
The way Mozart feels about wigs is the way I feel about cars.
I want them all.
What if I had three seat-asses, or three accelerator feet, or six steering wheel hands?
And three car payments.
My vehicle-acquisition whims seem to change with the passing of the hour, and it requires very, very little for me to get a hard-on for even the most unlikely vehicle. It's a good thing I'm not like this about women, or my marriage to Mrs. Apron would have ended before the ink on our ketubah was dry.
For a while, I was on about a 2003-2005 Volkswagen New Beetle, white, done up as Herbie the Love Bug. When I get through with it, it would look something like this:
I know for a fact that this is what it would look like because this is, in fact, a picture of my former car, a 2001 Volkwsagen New Beetle, done up to look like Herbie the Love Bug. Some schmuck took a picture of my car when it was parked in Brooklyn while I was on a visit to see my best friend who no longer speaks to me. I found the picture on the internet a year later. I don't know who the hell the dog is, or why he has lips that resemble hotdogs.I don't really need to explain why I want to own a Herbie replica again, but I'll do it anyway because that's what blogs are basically about, aren't they-- explaining the irrational. Every day was special for me while driving this car-- every day, something happened. Someone said something to me, or snapped a picture of it, complimented me, smiled at me, waved at me-- well, at the car, really. Only once did somebody give me the finger while I was driving my Herbie-- and it wasn't because of some rule-of-the-road violation I had committed. I know that because it was a carload of high school boys. And they shouted, "FUCK YOU, HERBIE!" out the window of their Mercedes.
Of course, there are days where I don't exactly want attention-- just as there days where I don't want to deal with the eccentricities of a Volkswagen New Beetle's finnicky and unpredictable electrical system, once having lit up almost every single idiot light on my dashboard and making me fear the whole fucking car would explode. It's on days like these where I think I want a Subaru.
I've never driven a car with all-wheel-drive before, and the thought of driving in the snow without a steady stream of urine soaking through my corduroys is an appealing thing as one approaches thirty years of age. Plus, because my wife is a member of the American Speech Hearing Association, she gets (and I could get) between $1,500-$3,300 off the MSRP of a new Subaru. Apparently, ASHA and Subaru are making sexy nipple-twisty times with each other, and that's all kinds of hot. AWD and power seats beats a fucking mug or a tote bag any day. Plus, NIIHS crash tests just gave Subaru a big boner for strengthing its rooves to protect against potentially head-crushing rollover accidents. And I'm all about saving the brain, y'alls.
Plus, I kind of think the Outback is, um, sexy. Which means that I have some sort of ravenous brain cancer that will probably result in death and/or E.D. in a few short months.
Of course, nobody, however disturbed or dysfunctional could ever possibly think the 2002-2006 Toyota Camry is sexy, and yet, there I was making eyes at one, this very night, in fact. Not only was I lustily ogling a Toyota Camry, but I was doing it at a goddamn MINI dealership! There it was, a beige-on-beige 2003 Toyota Camry LE... surrounded by all of these sprightly, charming, primary-colored punchy little buggers. And the car I was looking at? The car I actually got out of my car to look at, looks kind of like this insipid motherfucker:
Some hump having a serious case of mid-life baldness obviously traded it in for a John Cooper S Edition mini, probably one with the Union Jack painted all over the goddamn roof and the side-mirrors. It bore an inglorious window sticker "AS-IS: NO WARRANTY." No price even. They probably pay you to take it. And there I was, staring at it like it was a porno.
I'm usually okay with who I am. Really, I am.
But, tonight, I was not. I'm scared.
And stop looking at me like I have three heads.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
You're probably waiting for a "But...," but there isn't going to be one. I'm for realz. Yo.
As a blogger in late November, you get to read all about what the folks you care about are thankful for. For some, it's their health. For others, it's their significant others, or their jobs, or their cats. For most, it's their family.
And that's, just, well, nice.
As I was driving around downtown Philly tonight, I tried to think about what I was thankful for. After a notably awkward and stilted Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's house, I reinforced the admittedly uninspired fact that, yes, I am thankful for my family. But I tried to reach beyond that to find something slightly more off-center that I was decidedly thankful for, something everyday that maybe didn't receive everyday approbation or appreciation. And then it hit me.
I am thankful for my undershirts.
There isn't really an article of clothing that I depend on more than my undershirts. I have lots of different kinds of undershirts-- and they are truly the day-in, day-out workhorses of my wardrobe. If my dresser was Jay Leno's multi-car garage, my undershirts are the equivalent of his Honda Accord. There it sits, amidst the Dusenbergs and Lambos and Lotuses, waiting patiently for its chance to prove itself as the banal, mundane, yet essential motoring companion.
My undershirts are Jay Leno's Honda, and I never realized it until tonight.
I have two types of cotton crew neck undershirts. I have two types of cotton v-neck undershirts. One of them has a very slight v, the other is the equivalent of a plunging neckline. Very sexy. I also have an endless supply of Coolmax white crew-neck undershirts, thanks to my father, who manufactures them. The Coolmax t-shirts are excellent at wicking moisture, which, when you're an anxious sonofabitch, you tend to produce a lot of. The necklines, however, of the Coolmax t-shirts are very thick and high, so it's difficult to wear these undershirts underneath dress shirts with ties, as nothing makes a man look like a 4-star d-bag than wearing a dress-shirt with a tie and a little square of white t-shirt peeking visibly over the closed dress-shirt collar.
Unless, of course, you're wearing a semi-transparent dress-shirt with a v-neck t-shirt underneath, and the people you meet can see the outline of the v underneath your dress-shirt.
This, friends, is why I own lots of different styles of undershirts-- because you can't be successful in life as a man with just one permutation. At least, not if you're crazy.
The one type of undershirt I do not own, have never owned, and would never wear, is the so-called "wife-beater." Maybe it has to do with its negative monkier, maybe it has to do with the fact that my 6'5" Neanderthal freshman-year roommate wore them (even to class) and I still shudder at the memory of the broccoli-like tufts of his shoulder hair sprouted out around the slim shoulder straps.... I don't know, but I've just never been struck with the desire to put one on. I do, however, thoroughly enjoy their aesthetic on the female form.
In this life, as a man you either wear undershirts or you don't. If I didn't wear undershirts, I would ruin all of my precious dress shirts with sweat, so going without isn't really an option for me. If all my dress shirts went away-- if they all just disappeared, well, I would be one messed up puppy. I need them. I hoard them. I crave undershirt diversity and consistency. I would gladly free-ball it for a month-- wouldn't bother me a bit-- but I can't go out in public without the security blankie that is an undershirt.
A good undershirt might just be the most important component of my wardrobe. It's definitely the one thing in life I'm most thankful for.
I mean, after my family and my wife and my dog and my collection of old typewriters and eyeglasses and telephones and antique hats and recordings of G&S operettas and English cookies and orgasms and aimless drives around town and sugar in my coffee and 1970s britcoms and winter coats and meaningful talks with old friends and our sofa and dirty jokes and sad folk songs. And all of you, of course.
Friday, November 27, 2009
According to the New York Times, which is never wrong about anything, General Motors is going to make a decision next week about what to do about Saab. A Swedish company had been interested in purchasing the flagging G. M. appendage, which makes sense, but then it walked away from the deal, probably because G. M.'s impotent seed had long-ago ruined the once quirky and eccentric auto line.
Saab used to be cool, but G.M. took care of that. It purchased half of Saab in 1990 for $600 million dollars, and then it bought the other half in 2000, for $125 million. Apparently, the second half was less valuable than the the first, even taking 10 years of inflation into account. You might be asking yourself why the writer of My Masonic Apron even cares about the fate of a once-great Swedish car manufacturer that has been watered down by the stars-n-stripes. Well, it just so happens that I learned how to drive on a Saab.
After decades of buying American shitboxes like the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and its incestuous lover, the Buick Century, in 1995 my parents bought their first luxury car: a brand new Saab 900 S. It was the Citron/Beige color, and it looked like freshly-uncorked champagne, and the interior was a sumptuous tan leather that we unctuous children referred to as "moocow." Up to that point, we had never known a car with leather interior.
The car was purchased for my mother, who could easily get from her house to work (the only two places she ever goes) on the old tricycles of our youth that we keep in the basement. We all thought it was hilarious that she needed a serious luxury car to go 0.03 miles (round trip) every day, but, hey-- it was the swingin' '90s after all. Must have been a good decade from athletic undergarments-- my father's calling.
My mother and father were hyper-vigilant about cleanliness and proper behavior inside the Saab. You were most certainly not permitted to eat inside of it, and even speaking loudly was discouraged, lest heated emotions fog up the Sekurit glass. I dubbed this car "The Museum."
"It's a shame they didn't handpaint frescoes on the headliner," I announced one day inside the car as my mother drove me to school, "or put velvet ropes around all the doors."
"Shut up," she said, carefully smoothing Vaseline against her upper lip as she eyed herself in the rearview mirror.
One Sunday morning, when I was fifteen, my father drove me in the Saab to the local mall and I practiced weaving in and out between large, round concrete planters in the car. I did panic stops, too, and those were really fun. That thing had great fucking brakes. I can't remember if he took me out on the road in it or not before I got my license-- probably. After I got my license, I remember driving the Saab to school in the snow. I picked up my friend, Alex, at his parent's apartment building and I spun the car in a complete circle in the parking lot. Fortunately I didn't kill anybody.
When I turned sixteen, my parents offered the Saab to me, but I turned it down in favor of a 1990 Ford Crown Victoria, late of the Delaware State Police, proving without a shadow of a doubt that sixteen year-old-boys are critically retarded.
One time my sisters and I were all home together and my mother called from work saying that her boss was sending everyone home early because of the snow, and she asked us to pick her up. We all put on our boots and our coats and hats and trudged outside. The Saab was absolutely covered in snow, and the plow had pushed a great mound of snow against the driver side doors. Rather than shovel a path for the car, my eldest sister got behind the wheel, fired her up and floored it, revving the engine to new and disturbing heights and spinning the bejesus out of the tires. She threw the car into reverse, slammed the wheel hard to the right, and smashed down on the accelerator like it was an offending insect. She continued this process of crashing the transmission and jamming her foot down on the gas, rocking the car back and forth while she screamed,
"COME ON, YOU CUNT MOTHERFUCKER! SONOFABITCH FUCKHEAD! MOVE, YOU FUCKING SWEDISH WHORE!"
My other sister and I howled with laughter as the Saab careened through the snowbank and roared onto the street. If only my poor mother could have seen it.
Whatever G.M. decides to do with Saab, I hope it treats it gentler than we did that day.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
It's DEAR APRON time!
Our family has had a difficult year. We have gone from one drama or trauma to another, but have always managed. There's one issue, however, that I can't fix. My husband, "Arthur," can't keep our problems private. He seems compelled to tell EVERYONE he meets about what's going on in our family.
I have told Arthur repeatedly, "What happens at home should stay at home," and begged him not to take our problems to the neighbors, who have enough of their own. It's embarrassing when our friends, neighbors and extended family are informed about the dramas going on in our home. But Arthur becomes defensive when I tell him I don't like it and says he won't stop -- that I'm being "too sensitive."
Apron, I feel my husband's blabbing is disloyal. I'm worried that he is ruining our reputation because he can't keep his mouth shut. Please help. -- TOWN CRIER'S WIFE
DEAR TOWN CRIER'S WIFE:
Well, Hon-bun, I don't know exactly what you expected here. I mean, after all: you married the Town Crier. In case you didn't know, informing the town of all the latest news is actually "Arthur's" job. Why, in Medievel England, where many people could not read or write, the town crier was the only method by which the uninformed commoners could gain any information whatsoever about local events.
Instead of whining about how "Arthur" goes around blabbing about your daughter's heroin overdose, your son's unfortunate habit of attempting to sire lamp-posts, or distributing the YouTube link for streaming videos of your hysterectomy, you should be grateful that you married a man who performs such a vital public service to the community.
Next thing we know, you'll divorce "Arthur," shack up with Brian Westbrook and then start writing pissed off letters to me because he's always off scoring touchdowns and purposefully running head-first into other black guys.
I am a single mother finishing my undergraduate degree in English. I have a 6-year-old son. His father, "Gil," and I are on great terms. We kept everything out of the courts, and he pays me monthly child support. Gil sees our son whenever he likes, which is often.
I have an opportunity to go to law school 200 miles away, and I'm considering leaving my son with his dad to do so. I have no problem taking him with me, but as parents we thought that uprooting our son for three years was not a good idea.
I am doing this for my son. I come from a poor family, and I am the first to graduate from college. A liberal arts degree won't afford me much in the future. Gil's income is "fair," but neither of us has any real security.
I trust Gil when he gives me his word on an agreement. Many of my friends are supportive, but some of the stay-at-home moms are making me feel like a terrible person and mother. Would I be selfish to do this or should I continue with my plans for a better income and career? -- GNAWING UNCERTAINTY IN WASHINGTON STATE
DEAR GNAWING UNCERTAINTY:
Here's some words of wisdom to always live by:
ALWAYS. BELIEVE. EVERYTHING. STAY-AT-HOME-MOMS. SAY.
These bitches have totally got it going on-- they're the smartest of the bunch. They sit at home or go out shopping on weekdays when stores are uncrowded and cavalierly watch the circus go by, doing stomach-crunches, ordering shit they don't need from Overstock.com, and eating 100-calorie packs of Oreos while their brain-be'numbed children are shackled to Big Bird's teat. All the while, they're content to let their husbands sweat under the corporate fire and then, when their overworked, stressed out, balding, perspiring, unattractive and impotent husbands have aneurysms and coronary combustions at age 48, they go all crazy on e-Cougar.
So, basically, if these women think you're a selfish whore, a terrible person and a mother, well, then you probably are. But I'll bet, with your cut-throat, all-or-nothing, fuck-the-consequences attitude, you'll make one hell of a lawyer.
Oh, and, P.S.-- I hope your husband isn't really named "Gil" because I sure as fuck wouldn't trust anyone named "Gil" with anything that came out of my body. Except a stool sample.
A year ago, my boss was diagnosed with cancer. She had major surgery and a round of radiation therapy. Last week, her doctor discovered a mass, and after biopsy, she may be going in for more surgery.
I am finding it difficult to show much empathy for my boss. Despite having had the disease she continues to live an unhealthy lifestyle. She still smokes, has a couple of drinks a day and eats a lot of red meat. I don't drink or smoke and I'm a vegetarian, so I can't understand why a person would risk her health by doing these things.
We have received several newsletters at work from our insurance provider on how to prevent cancer, but she hasn't taken any of the advice. Apron, it's not like I have come right out and said, "It's your own fault," but it's frustrating to listen to her problems when she won't try to live a healthy lifestyle. She's generally whiny to begin with, and now she seems to want everyone to feel sorry for her.
What do I need to do to be more sympathetic? -- TRYING IN TEMPE
DEAR HOT, STEAMING FUCKHOLE. IN TEMPE:
What do you need to do to be more sympathetic? Hmm. I don't really know. Have you considered obtaining a lobotomy?
Did you ever stop to think that maybe her cancer has nothing to do with her lifestyle? Lots of people get cancer, sweet-pea, even holier-than-thou vegetarian, teetotaler, no spittin', no cussin' ice-skatin' on water virgins like you. Maybe she has anal cancer. Or thyroid cancer. Or brain cancer. You have no idea, and you continue to judge her anyway, because you're a fucking whore and nothing, short of a lobotomy, can change that.
Actually, forget the lobotomy-- it probably wouldn't be covered by your insurance anyway (although you could consult those handy newsletters from your work insurance provider that you're obviously so fond of reading to check and see) what I think you really need to make you more sympathetic is: CANCER.
Maybe, if you got cancer yourself, you'd know what it feels like to be suffering from a wasting disease, waking up every day fearing that it will be your last, enduring a treatment that is poison, and, if that's not bad enough, moving through a painful, lonely, petrifying existence where there are people around you who are actually ignorant enough to question the choices you make and have the temerity to suggest that you somehow deserve your disease.
Is there anything wrong with having a lover solely for the purpose of sex? He is grieving for his late wife (my best friend), and I am separated from my husband. We're both lonely and have supported each other through our pain. A few weeks ago we decided to become lovers.
We both have our eyes open, and we don't expect anything out of this except a friendship with benefits. I am satisfying his needs, and he is making me remember the woman I used to be before I was emotionally beaten down by my husband.
I see myself as enjoying the best of both worlds: I'm finding myself again, and I don't have to answer to anyone but me. So, Apron, what do you think? I guess I'm looking for some validation for our selfishness. -- FRIEND WITH BENEFITS
DEAR FRIENDS WITH BENNIES:
The only thing wrong with it is that you're doing it with your "eyes open." From the tone of your letter, it sounds like you're both easily into your late forties or early fifties, and that's just nasty. Close your eyes and picture someone else whose midsection doesn't resemble some small town's carnival entry for "World's Largest Bundt Cake."
Happy Thanksgiving, you fucking losers.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A My Masonic Apron Poetic Interlude. Hail, Poetry.
More often than not, even when it is hot, I'll not tell lies, I wear ties.
My look's not complete unless I'm replete with silken strip down to my hip.
I really like to wear ties.
I do not sell cars or insurance, you have my assurance, nor am I a senator dour,
I'm a regular guy who likes him his tie, whether plaid, striped, print, solid or flower.
Hanukkah's coming: would you please buy me a tie?
My wife makes me ties, of varying size, in fabric that's lovely and quaint,
She'll sit there sewing, everso knowing, with a countenance close to a saint.
She also made me a snake-shaped tie-rack, too.
It's expensive, this fetish, though not quite Corvette-ish, and it seems to forever go on,
But I've learned to shop discount, not behave like a viscount, and love TJMaxx and so on.
Ties with little animals on them are my favorites.
Some people scoff and think I'm a bit off when they see that I'm always dressed to the nines,
They watch me arrive all bedecked at the neck in cloth bearing polka dots, paisleys and lines.
Yes, people make fun of my ties.
There are folks who crack jokes at my style of clothes, though I do care about those
Who say I am strange and out-of-the-range when I dress nicely from hair down to toes.
Ties are expressions of personality.
And so, in conclusion and without exclusion, I'll succinctly conclude (sans ado or forsooth),
By saying 'tis always preferred, to be formal, not normal, and that you may take as the truth.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
But I just looked it up.
My wife is usually the one who is most significantly bothered, of the people I know and love, when folks commit their linguistic solecisms. One of her co-workers made up a word recently, I can't remember what it was, and, when my wife heard it, she told me, "I died a little inside."
The thought of one of my dear, sweet wife's ribs or ovaries shriveling up, turning black and decomposing inside her body is most distressing to me, far more upsetting than some random schmuck-ball using "there" instead of "their." However, when I went to check my email this morning and was greeted with the following headline and teaser sentence from Yahoo News, I have to confess that I, too, died a little inside:
Mishaps, Spills at American Music Awards
“Taylor Swift wins big, Paula Abdul has a mic misfunction, and Jennifer Lopez falls down while performing.”
I'm sorry-- what, exactly, is a "misfunction?" Is it a function that has yet to get married?
The sad fact, ladies and gentlemen, that will be immediately apparent to anyone who has ever graduated middle school and/or was raised on "School House Rock" that "misfunction" is not a word. When I copied-and-pasted it into MS Word, it got the red-underline-of-death.
The word is "malfunction," motherfucker.
This stupid grammatical misfunction shouldn't make me angry, but it does. Why? Because there is some arrogant little shitbird who probably spends more time on Facebook than s/he does at his/her job who gets to work in Manhattan probably and has no concept of how to write in the English language. And yet, that is what this person gets paid to do. S/he gets to call him/herself a journalist. Or a writer. A professional, at that. And if that doesn't make someone like me mad, well, then nothing, short of dropping a large piece of furniture on my left testicle will.
I was tempted to click on the headline to read the rest of the article to see how many other typographical misfunctions there were, but I just couldn't bring myself to click. Clicking on the article, I think, gives my acquiescence to the piece as a whole, and I can't do that.
Of course, I could go into another direction here and rant about how J. Lo falling on her famous ass or Paula Abdul's mic missssssfunctioning isn't really news in the first place, but why bother. On the Today Show, there was a five minute piece about how Prince William might get engaged to his girlfriend. Because there was a picture of her wearing a ring. Not an engagement ring, though. And not on the right finger, either. It's just, you know, gossip.
Not, you know, news.
Which is just another example of how the modern media is all kinds of missfucked up.
Monday, November 23, 2009
There was no court, there was a tiny office with a desk and a chair.
There was no judge, there was just an examiner.
I was not found guilty, I was just found liable.
I was assigned #273. When I arrived, they were dealing with #54.
Needless to say, I had a lot of time to wait and think and observe while I was waiting for my 2.5 minute "hearing" with the "examiner" at her "desk." While I'm tempted to write off my combined 2 hours of sitting in traffic there and back and hour and fifteen minutes of wait-time a complete waste, really, when you think about it-- it wasn't. Because I learned a lot. And, when you're learning, it's never a waste.
Here's what I learned today at traffic court, Mommy:
* Being jailed does not necessarily preclude your vehicle from accruing parking fines.
*It is possible to rack up parking violations in excess of one month's rent for my first apartment.
* In traffic court, black people outnumber white people.
* The civil service clerks who sit behind the bullet-proof glass cannot hear, so please scream at them.
* Speaking of those civil service clerks-- mascara is mandatory. Teeth, optional.
* The Arab man named "Abraham" is not to be trifled with. He has come bearing at least twenty polaroids of the curb, the parking meter, his car's front bumper, a hand-drawn map of the intersection in question, and an attitude that could make a camel shit blood.
* Attractive people do not go to traffic court. They are far too busy in tanning beds, jogging, looking at books in Borders, sipping lattes in cafes, getting beauty rest, and enjoying candle-lit dinners and/or walks on the beach and/or curling up on the couch with a glass of wine and a book. If attractive people do get parking fines, they just pay them.
* Large black men with huge, gouging knife-wounds to their faces and necks go to traffic court.
* If you wear a neck-tie to traffic court, you are guaranteed to be the only one to do so. Except for the TSA guard sitting seven seats away. Reading the Qur'an.
* Your name will be mispronounced by the clerk if it's easy or moderately difficult to say. If it is next-to-impossible to say, it will be spelled aloud.
And, the most important lesson of all the lessons I learned about traffic court:
* Don't go to traffic court.
At least, it was here.
But now it's gone.
As John Hiatt sings, "Gone, like my last paycheck-- gone, gone away... gone, like the car I wrecked... gone, gone away!"
Yeah, it's like that.
See-- I'm due in traffic court this afternoon, and the one single, solitary piece of evidence that I could use to exonerate myself is missing. Because, um, my wife and I are fucking slobs.
Remember that quaint and jovial post about searching in vain for the auto loan papers for my wife's car?
I wrote that back in August, and things haven't improved much. Because, today, I'm searching in vain for the placard that was on the windshield of our car that permitted us to park for unlimited time at a metered parking spot in downtown Philly during Rosh Hashanah while we were at services. We got a ticket anyway.
So, I said that I was going to fight it, and that this parking placard would be the key to my defense as I stood humbled before a (hopefully Jewish) judge.
But, of course, it's not here anymore. It existed on our desk since Rosh Hashanah... but somhow, at some point, it got lost. There is a menu from a pizza parlor (I know, nobody calls them pizza "parlors" anymore. At least I didn't say "parlour.") There's also a Zinsser SoftGrip wallpaper scraper sitting on our desk, even though this house was successfully bereft of all wallpaper back in August. There's lots of pens and a stuffed turtle, a digital camera, lots of old checkbooks. There's a gray, squishy brain that you're supposed to squeeze when you get stressed out about not being able to find the parking placard, but I just blog instead. There's the instruction manual for my newish cellphone that I've never read-- lots of orange sticky notes reminding me about things I don't even understand anymore. And, the latest addition to the clutter: a Pirates of Penzance program!
(It was a great show, by the way.)
Oh, and there's a pair of wire-cutters. Don't ask me why. We don't often engage in the act of wire-cutting.
Of course, the one thing that's still here is the actual ticket itself. Which is awesome and really helpful.
So, I'm seriously considering skipping traffic court. It's going to cut right into the middle of my work day and I'm going to be found guilty, so I might as well just send in a check for the $36.00 and be done with it.
I mean, everybody likes to fight the man, but you don't commonly do that without ammunition. Going into court without that placard is like going into battle without your boots or your moustache.
(By the way, immediately after curtain calls yesterday, I shaved off my gargantuan walrus 'stache and Civil War-era sideburns. I am deliciously young again. And I can't find my fucking parking placard.)
I've read and re-read the notice from the City of Philadelphia Parking Violation Branch. It states that, if I fail to appear, I "will be liable for the full amount of all applicable fines and penalties." To me, that means the cost of the ticket, unless they tack on some sort of delinquent bastard fee for not showing up for a hearing I requested, and then I'll be sad.
I'll probably end up going empty-handed, because that's the kind of guy I am. I'm not one to throw sand in the face of the judicial system, even if I am irresponsible, haphazard, and full of pens, squeezie brains, and old sticky-notes.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I found this article in The Philadelphia Inquirer today. Its title: "The One Interview Question Many Dread." Funnily enough, "Tell me about yourself." isn't a question at all. But we'll let that slide. Because we're so nice here.
The article proceeds to describe the anguish and dread interviewees ostensibly feel when being presented with this bad boy at a job interview.
"Tell me about yourself."
In a series of thoroughly uninspired paragraphs, the writer goes on to advise folks in America who are currently seeking jobs (10.2%, last time I checked) on how to handle this non-question at a job interview, for those people who are lucky enough to land one.
"Be ready with your own personal 'mini commercial,'" the article wisely advises, "The message: hire me."
Well, no shit, brainiac. It's a job interview, not a lap-dance.
I've been on my fair share of job interviews in my life (I wish I could say I've been on more, actually) and I fail to see what is so hard about some dewy, balding prick from HR wearing a wrinkled Today's Man shirt-and-tie combo about yourself. After all, they're not asking you to recount the woeful tale of your first handjob or what you do in the basement at night when nobody else is home. Telling this schmeggegie about yourself is the whole fucking reason you're there, isn't it?
The problem, I suppose, comes when people feel the need to lie. Or "puff up." Or "exaggerate." Or any of the other colorful synonyms for "to lie" that you are privileged to know. Answering questions is only hard if you're not telling the truth. As long as you don't molest cats with frozen garden hoses or shit yourself to keep warm, I don't think telling someone about yourself at a job interview should be such a daunting and cataclysmic event. Get over yourself. You're just a loser like the rest of us, except that you happen to be an unemployed loser.
That's okay, though. I still love you. My little loser-boo.
One thing I am grateful for, though, that I realized after reading this article, is not that I have a job, but that I have a wife. I haven't been on many first dates in my life, but they're pretty unbearable by and large, and the main reason I feel that way is that you have to tell your life's story (edited for time constraints and content, of course) in some dark, noisy restaurant-- and that gets old fast. Like, after three minutes, I'm ready to thrust the salad fork into my adam's apple. Most peoples' lives are an amalgam of at least mildly entertaining anecdotes that have been retold at family dinners and social gatherings and in the local newspaper's police blotter that we tuck away and bring out once again on first dates-- to impress, to amuse, to engage, to prevent mass suicide and to indulge in the ritualized behaviors of "the first date."
You tell me about you, I'll pretend to listen while I look down your blouse.
I'll tell you about me, you'll pretend to listen while you stealthily look me up in the National Crime Information Center database on your Blackberry under the table.
For those of you out there who are still dating: I'm sorry.
For those of you out there looking for jobs: I'm very sorry.
That said, the dumb article I read said that your "personal mini commercial" should be no longer than 300 words. I thought I'd give it a try.
Ready? Here goes it:
My name is Mr. Apron, but you can call me “Brotha.” I really want to work here because I am unemployed, and have been wearing the same underwear since last Thursday. I have exhausted my pantry’s food supply, except for a box of raisins, which nobody under the age of 87 eats of their own free will, and I have steadily moved on to raiding the dog food container for sustenance. The dog does not mind, as I ate him two days ago.
I think you should hire me because I make really good Xerox copies and my skin tastes good. Want to try? No? Okay.
See, what had happened was, I was born a long time ago. And my mom is a tree, so that’s kind of cool. Throughout my childhood I used to eat gravel and organize Edwardian costume balls on the playground at recess. In middle school, I got super interested in aeronautics. And synchronized vomiting. Unfortunately, I had to give that up when my parents told me that wasn’t an Olympic sport. I was bummed, but my teeth were rotting out of my head, so I guess it’s good I stopped.
Anywho, after I was excused from high school for coming to my Western Civ class dressed as Herman Goring, I decided to explore some career options. And my navel. I ended up inventing Silly String and the world’s first ever burlap thong panty, (last seen being modeled by Dr. Oz on the Oprah Winfrey Show) and I went on to become the only Methodist-impersonator ever to fly from Alabama to the 213km into the Indian Ocean on a 19th century commode.
I’m proud, also, to claim myself the first person to ever receive teeth-transplant surgery with dentition donated from a recently-deceased Bonobo.
DAMN! 300 words on the dot, bitches. Your turn!
Friday, November 20, 2009
* Girls, take off your big sunglasses. They looked good on Sophia Loren but, for some reason, when combined with tight white t-shirts, skinny jeans, Uggs and long hair, they look stupid.
* Boys of a similar vintage-- get a haircut. Your Dukes of Hazzard-era wannabeeflowbee bullshit hairstyles look ridiculous and stupid. Males should not engage in the act of brushing hair away from their faces. Ever.
* The Smart Fortwo. It looks like a sneaker, and it looks stupid. And only one of the parts of its name is true.
* Sarah Palin: you are stupid. And, in the words of my 61-year-old Israeli mechanic, you "would have made a good prostitute."
* My sideburns. They didn't look stupid in the 1880s, but, now, they do. Fortunately, once Pirates closes, the sideburns will meet a hasty death at the bathroom sink. At least I'm not under the delusion that trends of a bygone era still look good today-- you know, like the girls with big sunglasses.
* Professional journals are definitely stupid. They are printed to justify outlandish membership fees, they clutter up the houses of educated, professional people, and nobody reads them. Except stupid people.
* "The Today Show" is easily the stupidest show I watch with any regularity. And I watch "Project Runway."
* Waiting periods for handguns as a measure to prevent people from going out and killing each other are stupid. If some motherfucker wants to kill you, do you really think he's going to be bummed out enough by a six-day waiting period to abort his plans to end your miserable existence? No. And, if he's that impatient, he'll go to any number of illegal gun sellers in Philadelphia who operate out of their car trunks or neighborhood ice cream trucks.
* Advertising in newspapers is very stupid. You might as well put a sticker with your company's logo inside your neighbor's basement toilet bowl.
* The Two Party System is stupid. This is America, Goddamnit, and, if you're filthy-rich, you should have a legitimate shot at the presidency even if you're not a Republican or a Democrat.
* Dialogue in pornos is pretty stupid and, frankly, embarrassing. Nothing makes me lose my erection faster than hearing a half-retarded himbo utter some pathetic, cheesemo line in a porno like, "I thought I was here to fix your plumbing, not your love life." Please. Leave the talkie-talkie to David Mamet and Merchant-Ivory.
* I've always thought that lines were stupid. Shouldn't we all be first?
* I kind of think report cards are stupid. My mother recently showed me one of my 1st grade report cards. Apparently, Mr. Barrett, "thoroughly enjoyed my creative writing." I mean, really?
* People who don't read this blog are obviously stupid. We humble few, the members of the My Masonic Apron fold, are the enlightened elite, although most of us are probably psychologically maladjusted.
* Teachers who sleep with their students are pretty goddamn stupid. I mean, Jesus-- get a grip, people. And preferably not a grip on your students' hee-haws.
* The speed limit, whatever the hell it is, is stupid.
* Your boss is stupid. In fact, he's a fucking stinky stupid-head. And you can go right ahead and tell him I said that. Right after you're done reading this blog. At work.
* Bra-closures are stupid. I mean-- come on. Life's hard enough, isn't it?
* Christmas is stupid. Sorry, Jesus Claus.
* Prosciutto and cheese balls/rods are stupid, but I'd eat it anyway.
* People who change lanes on bridges and in tunnels are stupid, and they're totally asking for it.
* My dog is stupid, and his tussie-hole smells. But I love that bastard.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Anyway, whenever it is time for another opening night, people invariably ask the question, "Are you excited?" And they always put the emphasis on the word "excited" which, I suppose, would be the logical choice there.
I hate to give the true answer, because it never fails to disappoint the people expecting a resounding "YES!" The truth, though, is that I'm not ever excited for opening night, or any night thereafter. I'm anxious, my bowels are in a state of absolute turmoil, I'm incessantly running through lyrics and tonalities in my head to stave off a spot-lit brain fart, I'm mentally and physically exhausted.
Oh, and did I mention I've been defecating at least five times a day recently? Would you be excited about that?
I realize that, in the hundreds of thousands of opening nights The Pirates of Penzance has enjoyed (and I'm sure sometimes "endured"), from music hall to concert hall performances, to professional to semi-professional to amateur to boarding school stagings all over the world, my production will barely be a hiccup in the overall scheme of Gilbert & Sullivan-ism, but it is my opening night.
I just can't seem to get excited about it.
When I was an EMT, random people-- family members, friends, patients, nurses, my supervisors-- would ask me with a smile, "So, do you like your job?" I would always smile back and answer, "No." Of course, looking back on it now, I realize that I really did like my job, and maybe I realized it then, too. Maybe I just like the look of utter consternation that ripples over peoples' faces when you give them the unscripted answers to life's formulaic questions. I don't, though, like opening nights. To me, they are an endless fathom of potential cockups, clusterfucks, missteps, trips, traps, falls, failures, and voice cracks. The chances that everything goes off without a hitch are non-existent.
I know, I know. I'm a pessemist and an alarmist and a nervous nellie and a catastrophist. Thank my mother-- I get it all from her. She'll be at the Saturday matinee-- you'll know her because she'll be the one wearing the HAZMAT suit in case Al Qaeda decides to launch a holy jihad against amateur Gilbert & Sullivan performances.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I am a 38-year-old business woman. I was single for many years until I met and fell in love with "Rory," who had been a long-time client. We were married a year ago.
Rory and I love each other, but we have a problem -- or, should I say, I have one. Rory has a penile implant and an insatiable sex drive. I can't keep up with him. He demands sex every night and sometimes a couple of times during the week at lunchtime.
I don't know what to do because above all I don't want to hurt my husband's feelings. Have you any advice for me? -- TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
DEAR TOO MUCH:
Well, I guess you and Rory won't be needing that Accommodator I bought you for Christmas this year. I hope Crazy Ass Sex Toys accepts returns.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
This blog post does not refer to that party, but, rather my sister and her new husband's party, celebrating their marriage and the birth of my nephew-- both events happening at approximately the same moment.
This festive do took place on Saturday evening and, miraculously, my wife and I were able to attend, in the one moment of our lives that was not consumed by a "Pirates" rehearsal. My mother, whose neuroses are reaching new and teetering heights with the appearance of her first grandchild, hired a Registered Nurse at some ungodly hourly rate to babysit the child while we all went off to the party to enjoy ourselves.
Or, did we?
My wife and I drove my mother and my other sister to the party, which was held at a nice-ish restaurant. We had the second floor to ourselves. I pulled our car up to a sign that said "STOP: WAIT FOR VALET." No valet was there, so we waited. The man who eventually showed up knocking on the driver's side window and almost giving me apoplexy was not a valet, but a valet-in-training: my father.
"Mummy! Leave the keys in here! Go in-- have fun! I'll take care of this!"
"Where's the fucking valet?" I asked, knowing he was paying for one.
"Sveetie! Don't worry, you worry all the time. Leave the car with me," he cooed, stroking my cheek in that patronizing way of his as three other cars lined up behind mine.
"You going to take care of all these sonsofbitches, too?" I asked, pointing to a white SUV that, whoops, contained my 85-year-old step grandmother.
"Sure!" he cried.
Sure. Why not? He's the Bionic-Jew. He can park your cars, grill the hors d'oeuvres, uncork the bubbly, and clean up afterwards without breaking a sweat.
Oh, yeah, and he's also really good at yelling at everybody behind the scenes while maintaining an unflappable facade. He could have been Head Maitre d' at the Four Seasons. You know, if he wasn't Israeli.
I was very interested in consuming heavy quantities of succulent-looking hors d'oeuvres (yes, they were probably made by my father in between scrubbing the lavatories and applying fondant to the cake) but I was monopolized by a totally bizarre woman with stringy brown hair who introduced herself to me as the woman who "used to make me peanut butter sandwiches."
For a millisecond, I was scared to death that I had just met my real mother.
Fortunately, she was the mother of my first friend, who lived a few doors down from us back in the old days. She had a daughter who was my sister's age, and they played together, and I played with her son until they moved away when I was around six years old. The daughter came bounding in later, proudly displaying her gigantic new husband and her gigantic new breasts, which were careening out of her black lacy top.
"What the hell was that nutcase from our street doing with her tits on display like some Victorian prostitute?"
"She just bought them-- her mother has a new set, too," my mother told me on the phone the next day.
The silicone might have been flowing freely at this shindig, but the mixed drinks were not-- unless you paid for them, that is. This was a huge bone of contention for my brother-in-law's mother, whose family, um, likes their alcohol wet and constant-- through an IV drip, if possible. I was shocked that my parents, both teetotallers and tightwads, even sprung for free beer and wine at the bar. My father was all prepared to make an apologetic speech about the situation to everyone when my oldest sister convinced him to shut the fuck up, which is not an easy feat to accomplish.
Believe me, I've tried.
As for my side of the family, I was fortunate enough to be seated next to my alcoholic aunt, who was already H.O.A. (Hammered On Arrival) so paying for mixed drinks didn't seem to bother her very much. I have no doubt that she had a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a funnel in her purse anyway. She's the one who rather infamously prepared for my dry wedding by dressing in a sari and consuming some unknown, fetid liquid out of a hip-flask in the bathroom.
My thoroughly inebriated aunt hissed and slurred into my right ear for two-and-a-half hours straight, and the topics of conversation roamed haphazardly from her opinion of my long-deceased grandmother ("Biggest snob in the world! When she was diagnosed with lymphoma, she decided she wanted a mink. Your fucking grandfather bought her a mink AND a chinchilla!"), her taste in music, ("I've got Emilie Autumn on my iPod-- she's a punk violinist. Suicidal. A goddamn genius. She was institutionalized several times so she had a lot of time to practice violin."), and her thoughts on male sexuality, ("Your sister should be on top of that handsome young kid at the table behind us. After 18, their semen gets all fucked up.")
I don't want to seem like an exaggerator when I say that she talked to just me for two-and-a-half hours straight-- she graced others with her presence and charming perspicacity as well, forcing my family to make apologies for indelicacies other than just the cash bar debacle.
Maybe I would have had a better time with a different seating arrangement, but I don't think so. The party was celebrating a dubious marriage and a kid who was being babysat by a nurse, harkening back to the way my parents rolled back in the old days, when my mother had a nurse for the first six weeks at home after each of us was born. I suppose, in that and other respects, some things never change. My aunt is always inappropriate. My parents are always apologizing. I never get to eat as much as I want. The best boobs are always fake. And the one thing people really care about is whether or not the drinks are on the house.
Monday, November 16, 2009
And I lose the rampant sideburns and the sleeping ferret under my nose.
Yesterday, my wife and I were at rehearsal from 10am until 11pm, and I think it's safe to say that I've only ever worked that long continuously once in my life, as an EMT, when I did two eight-hour shifts in a row as a favor to some shithead who probably didn't even know my first name from my last name.
After loading pickup trucks and a trailer with scenery, unloading, doing a three-hour sing-through with the orchestra, and running the show with stops-and-starts for the first time on the actual stage, my brain probably resembles the gunk underneath your refrigerator combined with four-month-old fermented applesauce.
That said, why don't you just scroll down and enjoy the posts from Saturday and Sunday, because today's basically a loss. Fortunately, tomorrow I don't have to be at work until 12:00pm, so you and I can have our fun together then. Chances are, though, you'll be okay with catching up on the weekend's posts, as very few people, I think, read blogs on the weekend, let alone write them.
Thank God for dorks, right?
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I don't know if they had them in Israel at the time he was growing up-- probably not. And he didn't seem to care about them back in the eighties and nineties, when we dined as a family at restaurants that served lobster and featured large, dead animals on the walls. No, my father's love affair with coupons began maybe three or four years ago.
He calls them "kyeeu-pons." And, if you make fun of either his infatuation or pronounciation, you will die.
Back when I was younger, somebody else was obsessed with the coupon circulars that would arrive at our house on Sunday mornings-- but he didn't live there. Dr. Porter, our elderly neighbor, would waddle over to our house in his wife-beater, torn cargo pants and Depression-era Florsheims with gaping holes in them. He would enter our home, unannounced, and nonchalantly walk into our dining room while our family would be having breakfast, while my sister and I were reading the comics over our bowls of Frosted Mini-Wheats. Dr. Porter was a saggy, very short man who waddled instead of walking. Half of his right thumb was missing, his ears stuck out like a vole's, and his black glasses had lenses that were cut from pilgrim-era church windows.
"Howdy, Sport!" he'd announce, to nobody in particular. He would proceed to ransack our newspaper for the coupons and, with a wave, he'd leave. Nobody ever seemed to find this routine the least bit peculiar.
Dr. Porter is long gone, and it's a good thing because, if he tried that shit today, my father would have exploded him with a home-made booby-trap at the front door. Nobody gets in the way of my father and his beloved kyeeu-pons.
They are all neatly arranged and categorized on a shelf above the kitchen sink at my parent's house. There's a little pile for pharma-related discounts, another for food and toiletry products, and yet another for restaurants. When my wife and I are over for a weekend dinner, my father routinely tries to pawn these off on me.
"Mummy," he'll say to me in a low, conspiratorial tone, "you like Ruby Tuesday?"
"I have buy one, get one. Dinner. Take it."
"No. I don't want it."
"Come on, you take your wife out--"
"Dad. That's enough."
My wife is a vegetarian. There is nothing for her to eat at Ruby Tuesdays besides mozzarella sticks and napkins. Besides, I don't care for the atmosphere. I'd sooner take her to dinner at the city morgue.
Nevertheless, my father still tries.
"Mummy-- you like Fridays? Free appetizers."
The food coupons he tries to pass off on us are no less absurd.
"Sveetie," he'll say, "you eat... uh... Reeetz crackers?"
"You like Eggo?"
"How about Nastle Qvuick?"
His accent just makes the offerings that much more funny and disturbing. Tonight, we're going to a party for my sister and her new husband, and, last night, he read the menu aloud to us.
"Siddur plunk chicken" was my personal favorite. It's better than it sounds, right?
This obsession, though, with coupons has not, I don't think filtered down to me. Maybe the gene is recessive and delayed. I could maybe develop it at anytime, maybe when I'm 57 or thereabouts. Today, my wife and I were in Rite Aid getting electric razor fluid (I have a fancy-schmanzy Braun Nazi shaver) and there was a coupon for a $5.00 rebate.
"You're going to get that rebate," my wife said to me, in that quaint, no nonsense way of hers. I sighed and rolled my eyes, indicating that I am one of those people who thinks the work and effort required to get five dollars is excessive-- forgetting, of course, that $5.00 was essentially my wage for 1/2-an-hour's work as an EMT.
"Sure," I said.
As I went online registering for an online Rite Aid account and putting all of my personal data in there, recording the transaction and register and store number and purchase date into the little form, I felt like I was taking that one step closer to becoming my father.
Except that he'd have no idea what to do with an online kyeeu-pon.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This is a picture of a broken tie-rod that Soly & Jack, the Israeli and Chinese mechanics with whom I trust my car and my life, removed from my 2001 PT Cruiser yesterday morning. Jack realized I needed a new tie-rod when he was in the process of putting two brand-new tires on the car, replacing two old, bald ones. When he put the new tire on the front passenger side and tightened the lugs, he put his hand on the tire and it wobbled around like a wagon wheel from Oregon Trail.
"Oh, shit," Jack said.
"Please don't say that," I said, knowing I was already looking at around a $200 service bill for the oil change and the two tires.
But it was definitely an "Oh, shit," and my total for the day ended up being $395.38.
As Click & Clack would say, "Looks like Soly's going to make this month's boat payment."
Frankly, I have difficulty picturing 61-year-old grizzled and gnarled Soly piloting a boat. At least, not any boat that doesn't have an Israeli flag on its side and an anti-aircraft gun on the stern.
I know, also, that Soly and Jack don't tell me something's wrong when it isn't. When they removed the bum tie-rod, they showed it to me. "You needed a new one of those more than you needed two new fucking tires," said Soly, "if that snapped, and it was close to snapping, you'd be dead."
I was going to ask him to take the tires back then, but they were already on the car.
Going to Soly & Jack's always fills me with a mixture of emotions. On the one hand, I really enjoy being there. I like the way their garage smells, I like the sound the heater makes when it turns itself on, I like Soly & Jack's uniforms-- and not in that annoying hipster way, either-- and, of course, I just like Soly & Jack. I like talking to them about Sarah Palin (Soly: "She would have made a good prostitute.") and I like talking to them about where they came from (Jack: "I came here from China in 1991, January 1st. My sister and I slept for 24 hours our first day here. Heard fireworks. I was so fucking bored for two years.")
What I don't like is giving them lots of money. This tends to happen, though, when I bring around the PT Cruiser. Bushings, ball-joints, broken rims, haywire electrical system, a sunroof that closes sometimes, oxygen sensors, tie-rods, dog-bones (yes, apparently there's a rear component of my car's suspension called a "dog bone." It's got three holes. Jack showed it to me.) All things break. I understand that. When they break, you need to fix them. I just wish things wouldn't break so often and that, when they did, they were cheaper to replace.
For a car built on the cheap, it's not very cheap to fix.
"This thing is a fucking joke!" Soly yelled at me today, in between sips of his coffee, which he drinks from a miraculously pristine white ceramic mug, "It gets, what, 20 miles-a-gallon, barely, it accelerates like a fucking old dog, and it looks like a cow that's bending over!" He energetically gulps some more coffee and then he rages, his forsaken, broken teeth jutting out like icicles, "That's why they only made this piece of shit for one year!"
I stared at him. I was shocked. I thought Soly knew everything about cars.
"Soly, they're still making them today."
"WHAT?!" he bellowed furiously at me, spitting coffee onto my cardigan, "Then how come every goddamn customer I have who drives one of these things drives a 2001?!"
Using my internet-ready smartphone, I Googled "PT Cruiser" and showed him that Chrysler began production in 2000 and it's scheduled to continue until 2010.
"What is that," asked Soly, peering at my phone under his bifocals, "a Blueberry?"
"Yeah," I said, "with cream on top."
"What probably happened was," Soly reasoned, "they sold the PT Cruisers everywhere in 2001, and, when smart people realized they were pieces of shit, they sold the rest of them down South, where the retards live." In spite of his insinuation that I am equivalent to a Kentucky-fried, sister-fucking retard, I laughed.
When Jack tells me that the tie-rods are "always going bad on these cars," I complain that this is what he says whenever I bring the car in for something.
"What doesn't 'always go bad on these cars'?" I asked. Jack smiled at me.
Soly refers to my car as the "P.T. Loser."
I told him that my wife really loves the car and has a great desire to only have one car payment, which I respect and understand. The Cruiser is paid off and is titled under my name. She has a 2009 Honda Fit which she loves more than Jesus loves his Birkenstocks.
"My wife loves this car and she thinks it's indestructable," I told Soly, "her mother has one that has over 200,000 miles on it."
"Well, she's crazy-- she's probably had every fucking thing rebuilt on it besides the radio antenna! It's not even the same car it was in 2001 anymore."
I told him that I wanted to sell it and get a 1968 Beetle. He laughed.
"See? You're fucking crazy, too! You are perfect for each other."
We both cracked up at that. In the midst of our laughter, Jack came up and informed me that the motor mounts were starting to go. He motioned for me to come over so I could see for myself.
"No," I said. "I believe you."
Friday, November 13, 2009
But, I really did have a car accident. It was very stupid and unglamorous, as are most things I do.
It happened at 9:20am yesterday, as I was pulling out of a Dunkin' Donuts drive-through. That's how unglamorous this shit was. It wasn't even Starbucks, and I was too disgusted with life afterwards to even eat the shitty bagel sandwich I got. I did, though, drink the coffee-- out of chemical necessity. But I didn't enjoy it.
I was attempting to make a left turn when my car made contact (that's what people say when they're reluctant to admit culpability-- I "made contact"-- remember that when [God forbid] it's your turn) with a red Infiniti G-35 Coupe. Although I don't really remember exactly, I'm pretty sure I uttered the phrase, "Oh, shit" in the instant before we hit which, according to the National Transportation Safety Board aviation accident investigation is the most common utterance made by pilots on the Cockpit Voice Recorder the instant before, well, they die.
Fortunately, my obscenity wasn't recorded for posterity, and, fortunately, I didn't die.
Fortunately, the other driver didn't die either. Being a highly-trained EMT (only one of those statements is true) I immediately got out of the car (violating the first rule of car accident protocol) to see if the other driver was okay. She was. She was tall and blonde and skinny, but I'm married and this wasn't a date. We pulled our cars out of rush hour traffic, exchanged insurance information (quoth she, "What am I supposed to write down? I don't even know.") So I helped her out. I also took pictures of the damage to both cars, and even emailed the pictures of her car to her from my phone.
Aren't I a good boy?
We were both amicable to each other and regretful that the incident happened, and the suburban police officer who responded to my call was also amicable. However, he informed us that this was a city matter, because of the way our cars were facing (isn't beauracracy beautiful?). He also stated that having a police officer present wasn't necessary in this state and that we shouldn't bother waiting for a Philly officer, as it would "take an hour, if they show up at all," which was comforting. The driver of the other vehicle and I agreed that it wasn't worth it to wait around in the pouring, freezing rain, and so we left to go report everything to our respective insurance agencies.
I smacked up her car pretty good, I'll say that. My car's bumper kind of looks like it got mouth-fucked with a cheese-grater.
The insurance agent who handled my claim over the phone was an Irish gentleman, and his accent reminded me of the last time I had spoken to an Irish person on the phone. It was back in 1996 and my computer had crashed (apparently, Irish people and crashes enter my life at the same time) and the IBM call-center routed my call to a call processing center in Dublin. My plea for assistance was answered by a woman named Nieve, whose voice was like a symphony to my vulgar, American ears. I briefly considered playing with myself while she read out the reboot instructions to me over the phone in her delectable little lilt, but I was far too distressed about the computer to get it up.
I mean, maybe I could have. We'll never know.
After two-and-a-half hours on the phone with Nieve, and the computer successfully restored (my father still uses this very machine to access his work emails from home, which he checks via his dial-up modem using, yes, Prodigy.net) Nieve congratulated me on my persistence and suggested that I "go 'round the pub and get a pint."
Though I was only sixteen at the time, I wanted one bad, but only if she were on the barstool next to me.
I probably could have used one today, too, but I still don't drink.
The coffee, however, helped and, as I guzzled it down after I arrived at work this morning, I mused about how my body's need for this soothing, sweet liquid was the catalyst for the accident in the first place, and about how I had the accident not fifteen seconds after the Indian man in the bright orange shirt said, "Have a good day, my brother" to me.
My brother: it was not to be.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Most of the time, these criticisms are apt, appropriate, well-aimed and well-deserved.
Sorry. But, you know...
As I've admitted in the past, I sometimes go trolling through the candy-coated wasteland that is the www.20sb.net discussion board for inspiration on what to write about. The topics of conversation here, if they can be said to typify topics in which 20somethings, (at least, 20something bloggers) liberally engage are, well, shall we say, more sugary and less meaty.
"No More Pink Websites!"
"Holiday Giveaway Contest!" (Is this really worthy of a "discussion?")
"Anyone Else Hate the Stop & Chat?"
"Anyone Here on Google Wave Yet?"
"Charging For Plastic Bags"
and, easily my personal fucking favorite:
"If You All Had a Lion As Your Pet What Would You All Have Done?"
And so, in this sometimes vacuous wasteland of inanity, I was pleased and relieved to see that, yesterday, someone decided to open up a discussion on the death penalty, in the wake of the execution of D. C. sniper John Allen Muhammad. I'm happy to follow in this person's footsteps and continue the discussion, which I think is a very worthwhile one, on my little blogiedoo, and I hope you'll join in because, of all the social dilemmae that confront us, this one is big.
Before we really get started, I want to be up front with you and let you know that, from high school through college I was a staunch death-penalty supporter. I believed that the death penalty was an appropriate punishment for someone who had the audacity to break the most basic covenant with man by taking a life-- by committing the act of murder. I believed that the enormous, detailed, lengthy appeal process that occurs every time someone is sentenced to death in this country was sufficient for any convicted murderer to exculpate him or herself from the charges if he or she were truly innocent, that, through the appeal process, the truth would out.
I still believe some of this today, but not all of it. Being somewhat older and somewhat wiser, and a teensy bit grayer, both in hair and in worldview, I know now that there exists in some cases police and prosecutorial misconduct, and I know that it is distinctly possible to sentence innocent people to death, and such an irrevocable mistake cannot really be permitted by a society that dare call itself "civilized."
But, do I still believe, in theory and in a perfect world, that it is appropriate for the state to execute a murderer?
I sure do. Strap him down. Light him up. It's Christmastime.
We don't, though, live in a perfect world. Hell, if we did, there would be no murderers at all, would there? We'd all be holding hands and singing "Movin' Right Along" from "The Great Muppet Movie" together while roasting marshmallows over an open fire until the end of time. Wearing fuzzy, pastel-colored feet-pajamas, with butt flaps. But who are we kidding?
If you had to ask me what I truly believe should happen to convicted murderers, and I'm talking 1st degree, no extenuating circumstances, no mitigating bullshit, no remose, no nothing butchers-- what should happen to them in this world? Life. Period. No 25-to-Life. No 30-to-Life. No Life-With-the-Possibility-of-Parole.
No. Life. Period.
The question is not how much it costs to incarcerate some murderous shit for the rest of his or her natural life, versus how much it costs to clutter the judicial system with their often frivolous death-row appeals and how much it costs to keep someone alive on death row, only to carry out an expensive execution in the end. I'm not terribly interested in the cost, because the cost of the original murder is far greater to the victim's family and to the fabric of society as a whole than any prison system or judicial tab after the fact. Murder, folks, is an expensive endeavor-- and the one who inevitably doesn't pay anything towards its recompense is the murderer.
People who argue against the death penalty inevitably bring up the fact that the death penalty isn't a deterrent. This argument is spouted off unendingly and tirelessly and it's time we put it to bed, right here, right now.
There is no deterrent for murder.
That's right, you heard it here first. On My Masonic Apron. You can quote me to your friends from the ACLU and the Free Mumia Movement, too-- the next time you run into them at a tea party.
If someone wants to kill somebody, they're going to. They don't stop and think about whether they're murdering somebody in a state the conducts the most executions per capita, or the fewest. They're not thinking about what the appeal process will be like, or what the likelihood will be that they'll ever see the inside of a death chamber, or a prison cell, or a courtroom, or the backseat of a police car. They're not thinking at all. And the ones who are don't give a shit anyway.
So, what are we supposed to do? Throw up our hands and say, "Well, there is nothing we can do to deter murder? So... what can you do?"
Here's the big secret about the death penalty: it isn't supposed to be a deterrent. That's why it's called "capital punishment" not "capital deterrent." Capital punishment is in place in this country because it was felt that we as a law-abiding, respectful people need to punish murder in such a way as to say that we will not stand idly by and let these abominable acts pass unnoticed and unpunished in the gravest way possible. None of our punishments in society are deterrents for any crime. People still burn houses down in spite of 15-20 year sentences in prison for arson. People still pull guns during robberies despite harsh prison terms for larcenies commited with the use of a firearm. And people will still kill each other, no matter what you do with them afterwards-- if you can catch them.
Deterrent? Who said anything about that?
I still very much believe in the death penalty as the appropriate punishment for 1st degree murder, especially with aggravating circumstances. In theory. If we can get it right. If we can't, then mandatory life imprisonment will have to do, but I think it's a piss-poor substitute, for it allows murderers the one thing they denied their victims: life. And I don't think that's fair. It's not fair to the victims' families who have to live their lives knowing that the person who slayed their loved ones get to wake up every morning, socialize with other inmates, eat three meals a day, move their bowels, brush their teeth, exercise, watch TV, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. All of these things, even the simplest, commonest among them, the dead cannot enjoy. All because these people thought another's life out there was theirs for the taking.
And some might say the very same thing about capital punishment-- that how can we as a society say that even the life of a convicted killer is ours to take, that this life too has value and worth and the potential for change, and that we dishonor ourselves in the extermination of this life.
And to that, I may just bow my head and say, "Touché."
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Are you mad at me?
You should be: I am.
In case you didn't know-- my life is an endless stream of worries, and most of those worries center around being late for things. Appointments, meetings, rehearsals, television programs. If I'm late for my morning shit, I'm immediately convinced I have anal cancer.
Punctuality isn't, I don't think, a trait that's held in very high esteen nowadays, and I don't even remember how it managed to become my particular little bugaboo, but it definitely is. I think about it constantly. Hell, let's just throw the goddamned "O" word out there and get it over with.
Yes, that's more like it.
It all has to do with image, unfortunately-- not what we see ourselves as, but how we want to be seen by the people with whom we interact. I've never wanted, or hoped, to be seen as cool or sexy or even intelligent. I have, though, always been obsessed with being viewed as "dependable."
To me, if somebody had that adjective carved on my headstone after the anxiety-propelled stroke that will no doubt end my life prematurely, that would be the highest compliment I could posthumously ask for.
Now, if you're thinking to yourself, "Dependable?! Aim higher, Apron," then I would have to inform you that that truly is where my aspirations begin and end. I've never wanted to be anything else.
Back in the heady, carefree days of 2002, when I left the optical shop where I worked to begin my two day stint at the police academy, my boss gave me a card, and a $100 gift certificate to a fancy restaurant. Though I love me my ritzy eats, the sentiment expressed in the card was inestimably more valuable. It was addressed to:
"To the Most Trustworthy Employee Ever"
That salutation made my heart sing. Isn't that sad?
My boss knew that I would arrive at work every morning at 8:15am, sometimes even earlier. The store did not open on weekdays until 10:00. He knew he could leave me with the key to the door and to the register. He knew he could leave cash lying around when I was there alone. He knew I was, well, dependable. And though it's not a lofty aim by any means, it was at least one that I could consistently achieve.
To me, being on-time for things, or, in my case, early, is a very easy way to show people that you're somebody who gives at least half a shit. When I'm somewhere and somebody who's expected to be there at 10:00 walks in at 10:20, to me, they sail into the room followed by a fetid wafting breeze of apathy, excuses, laziness, incompetence and, yes, dishonor. Maybe your car's radiator blitzed on you. Maybe the SEPTA bus driver had a heart attack. Maybe you had to Crisco your triangular cat's sides because it got stuck in the pet-door. Okay, but those excuses wear pretty thin pretty quick. Most excuses, in my mind, are just that.
I know, I know-- I have unrealistic expectations of the world, right? And I have those same unrealistic expectations of myself. Fair, unfair-- it doesn't matter, that's just the way it is. I'd probably be different if I were medicated, but I'm not, so there we are.
I took a graduate level psychology course in addictions a little while back, and we had to participate in a "change" project, where we identified a problem area in our lives and work on adjusting it. I chose my obsession with lateness. I identified the problem as I was on I-76 in a vain effort to get from Center City to my graduate school classroom, forcing my overworked, underpowered PT Cruiser to attain speeds of over 80mph. The obsession, which was once comical to people who know me, was getting serious, and dangerous.
In class, I talked the talk about how I was exploring the consequences of whatever manufactured lateness I might allow myself to attain, how I "realized" that I would suffer very few if any negative consequences from being late, how people wouldn't hate me or think I didn't care about anything if I was late, but, in the end, that was all horseshit. I have no doubt that my instructor, a licensed psychotherapist, smelled that seeping from my ass-crack from a mile away.
"You should really see somebody about this," she said to me one day after class.
"I know," I said, smiling, "but that would just be one more appointment I'd be petrified of being late for."
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
And, no, I'm not talking about the Eagles.
I'm talking about the Passion.
Yes, for those of you who are not in the know, there's a new pigskin team in town, and they're certainly showing a lot of skin of the human variety. The Philadelphia Passion, created this year, is one of the newest members of the "Lingerie Football League" (I'm not kidding) and this team is a squad of "professional indoor football" players.
Here's a picture of their uniforms:
Good thing she's wearing that wrist-guard, right?
Since the team has started playing, they've won one and lost one, but that's not really relevant, is it? I can't imagine that people are attending these games because they care about the score. Just like people don't attend the Miss America pageant because they care about the contestants' answers to questions about vital social issues. Right, Carrie Prejean? I was highly entertained by one picture of four Philadelphia Passion players (that I wasn't allowed to copy, damnit) holding their hands over their, um, hearts during the National Anthem, and they're standing right in front of the first row of the crowd. One guy in the crowd is clearly craning his neck to look down one of the player's cleav, and, two fans over, another guy is staring straight at another one's ass.
God Breast Assmerica.
Now, before everybody gets mad at me (this happens sometimes) I'm not against women playing professional sports. In fact, there's a piece of me that thinks there shouldn't even be gender-segregated teams: if you're a woman and you're tough enough to play football-- get your ass in there with the men and have at it. I do think, though, that if women are to be taken seriously in athletics, that a "Lingerie Football League" is not the way to go. I can't think of anything more embarrassing or degrading to a woman than going out to play football in a ridiculous get-up that would look more appropriate on a go-go dancer or a streetwalker celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
I have no doubt that these women are real athletes who could tear my shit up in a matter of milliseconds, but the question is, are they being treated that way by the exhibitionist nature of the "sport" in which they are engaged? When I heard of the formation of a "Lingerie League" I thought to myself, "Is this really 2009? I mean, really? Are we still engaged in the practice of essentially mocking women and at the same time pretending to idolize them and revere them for their "talents" at giving us hardons-- I mean, "scoring touchdowns?"
Seriously-- I'm no prude, but this whole thing is kind of stupid.
And maybe that's the hypocritical nature of sports, and the gender double-standard. Maybe women sports fans have been getting gooey in the pants over Shane Victorino's tushie (they certainly aren't doing it over his nose) and they've been lustily oogling John Elway's package since the 1980s. I don't know. I'm not a woman, and I had to Wikipedia John Elway just to make sure he was actually a football player who played in the 1980s so I wouldn't look completely stupid.
Here's what I don't really understand: if women want a professional football league, why can't they just wear the same uniforms that the men wear? Women athletes shouldn't have to concern themselves with waxing their bikini line before a football game because they don't want their muff-stub showing on the Jumbotron. The whole concept of a Lingerie League kind of sullies the word "professional," doesn't it? Unless, of course, you're using the word "professional" as a euphamism for "prostitute," as in, "She's a professional." Because, really, that's what these women are. We're paying them to watch them bend over and wrastle each other to the ground and fall all over each other and slap each others' scantily-clad asses so we can get our rocks off.
Really, they should be called The Philadelphia Pros.
Women have definitely made strides in this country, but sometimes there's a cost. What would the suffragettes have said if they were allowed the right to vote, but were told they could only do so if they showed up at polling places half-naked and that three dozen photographers would be there to record the event for posterity? Kind of a hollow victory, no? Apparently, if you're a woman in the Philadelphia area and you want to play pro football, you can go right ahead and try out for the team.
Just leave your clothes, and your dignity, in the end-zone.
Monday, November 9, 2009
You know how it is.
* On http://www.20sb.net/ there is a discussion topic that asks the question: "Should you all move to Canada?" The answer, of course, is "NO!" This is like saying, "Earth blows-- let's all move to Saturn and play bumper-cars on the rings." Also, if we all moved to Canada, then it would just be filled with gun-toting, burger-scarfing, reality-TV-loving, fucking annoying Americans-- so how would that improve things for anyone?
* I was very surprised this morning to see that "The Today Show's" first piece was on Hurricane Ida. What the hell happened to "if it bleeds, it leads." Shouldn't they still be mercilessly obsessing over the Fort Hood massacre and making unsubstantiated assumptions about the suspect? Oh, wait-- that was story two.
* Speaking of "The Today Show," when are the people standing outside there screaming every morning going to look at themselves in the mirror and realize how mental they are? Jesus-- I know you're all unemployed, but you could at least be at Starbucks sponging off their free internet going on Monster.com or something. I mean, Christ, at least pretend, people.
* The guy who drives the black Passat wagon and always parks it the wrong way on our street got taken away in an ambulance yesterday. He's always freaking out, screaming at his kids and his dog, so it's no wonder that he popped a gasket. The paramedics walked him out to the truck, because they're lazy motherfuckers. I just shook my head and smiled. "Always put patients on the goddamn stretcher," my EMS instructor said to us back in the day, "I don't care how fucking ugly or fat they are. Never walk a patient to an ambulance-- it just looks bad."
And it did.
* My coffee tastes like Windex. I know it's economical and wise to make coffee at home, but God, does it have to taste so bad?
* I listen to the same Pandora radio station every day at work. It plays the same thirty-or-so songs over and over and over again. Does this mean I have Asperger's Syndrome?
* Isn't it funny that listening to the news on NPR makes you a pretentious liberal snob in certain peoples' eyes, and watching FOX News makes you an inspid conservative maniac in other peoples' eyes? Aren't both types better than the assholes who don't listen to the news at all? Oh, wait-- there's always the people who get their news from "The Daily Show." They're the REAL smart ones.
* Is David Hasselhoff human?
* If you've ever actually peed in your pants from fear, or while reading a post on this blog, drop me an email. Let's talk.
* Why don't the Jews have an equivalent of crossing yourself like those kooky Catholics do? I've always thought we could, like, make a Star of David on our chests, but, when I try it, I always get lost in how many lines I'm supposed to draw. I mean, it's just two triangles, but try drawing it on your chest with your fingers-- it's pretty fucking involved.
* Is it possible for a funny person to one day just be not funny anymore? I mean, besides David Letterman. Let's face it-- the only thing that was ever funny about this guy was his dentition.
* Will there ever be another famous person named "Buzz?"
* If you're a woman and you had a dildo within your grasp as a burglar entered your room at night, would you attack him with it?
* Just out of curiosity-- if I put a "DONATE" button on my blog, would you, like, give me money and shit?
* During a business meeting, have you ever wanted to run up to the guy in the shirt-and-tie combo giving the PowerPoint presentation and just, like, I don't know-- jump on his back and start riding him around the room like he's a donkey and you're Juan Valdez?
* I used to think that only teenage boys got aroused and random, socially-inappropriate times. But I still do. So, look out everyone.
* I wish I wasn't an artistically-frustrated, money-loving Jewish asthmatic with scoliosis and bad vision. It's so cliche.
* My sideburns are out of control. There should be government intervention or, at least, a sitcom.
* My dog fell down the stairs last night. He's fine, though. It was just dark. Right?
* Why are there always "Free Mumia," "Free Rogers Lacaze," "Free the NY3," "Free Assata Shakur," "Free Leonard Peltier," "Free-So-and-So" websites for convicted cop-killers but there aren't any websites advocating for the release of convicted killers of regular people?
* Why do old ladies love cats, lace doilies, wallpaper, and wingback chairs?
* I love using my debit card. I hate writing checks.
* Every now and then, the fact that I have to be anonymous on this blog annoys the shit out of me. Even more than writing checks does.
* I should be outside raking leaves right now, but I'd rather drink a gallon of Drano and run myself over with the PT Cruiser.
* I don't mind that I'm starting to go gray. I do mind that I'm starting to go gray and that I still get zits, though. Pick one, Jesus.
* I respect Job, but I don't think we could have been friends if we met in high school.
* This list is too goddamn long. Do you people actually read this shit?
* If you TASED a child on Halloween, say "HEY!"