An Award-Winning Disclaimer

A charming little Magpie whispered this disclaimer into my ear, and I'm happy to regurgitate it into your sweet little mouth:

"Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for those of you who start to laugh and piss your pants a little. Although this blogger understands the role he has played (in that, if you had not been laughing you may not have pissed yourself), he assumes no liability for damages caused and will not pay your dry cleaning bill.

These views represent the thoughts and opinions of a blogger clearly superior to yourself in every way. If you're in any way offended by any of the content on this blog, it is clearly not the blog for you. Kindly exit the page by clicking on the small 'x' you see at the top right of the screen, and go fuck yourself."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I'll Probably Never See "Citizen Kane"

My wife is currently struggling with the concept of being human, and forgiving herself for being so.

Oftentimes, I'm pretty reasonably comfortable with my humanity, my flaws and my foibles, my acne and my wrinkles, my blunders and my anxieties. Sometimes, though, I just can't seem to shake the fact that, when it all boils down to gravy, I just don't measure up.

Measure up to what, of course, the question becomes. To whose standards? To what level? To whose ideal?

Probably my own, though I think society bears some of the blame here. I love blaming society. It makes me sound so, I don't know, Proustian.

???

I'm deeply flawed. I say racist and offensive things. I'm often insensitive and pernicious, I'm all over four-letter words like they're my best friends or chicks I want to fuck.

(See?)

I'm a hypocrite and a charlatan and a faker and a dirty old man and a complainer and a dreamer and an insipid coward and a concealer and a crybaby.

And I've never seen "Citizen Kane." And I probably never will.

Why?

I don't know. I'm just not that into black-and-white films. The only black-and-white stuff on film that I really love are "3 Stooges" shorts, and I only really like the ones with Curly. Shemp I never really got into very much, Joe Besser is just a wimpy, gay stereotype, and Curly Joe DeRita was, well, a fourth-rate Curly impersonator, and not a very good one at that.

Oh, and I love "Dr. Strangelove," of course. I think it's illegal to call yourself a Peter Sellers Freak without loving that movie. Plus, it was James Earl Jones's first on-screen role. I mean, it's a piece of history in so many ways.

But "Citizen Kane"? I don't know-- just doesn't interest me. Sure, I've seen clips. And I've heard about sticking the fucking camera in a hole in the ground a hundred times. And I know it's, like, #1 on the AFI Most Important Contributions to Cinematic Whatever of All Times.

I know.

But, it's just something about it. "Rosebud." Whatever. That style of acting, it's just so... representational. So affected. So... uninteresting. And Orson Welles is probably going to come back from the grave and give me a nipple-twist for saying this but, like, in the grand scheme of things, who gives a shit if I've never seen "Citizen Kane"? It makes me an imperfect connoisseur of the film medium, for sure.

I'll admit that. It does. So does never seeing, "Gone with the Wind." Or "Inherit the Wind." Or "A Mighty Wind." Basically, all those windy movies I've kind of just skipped over for whatever reason. I don't know, I'm sure a cunning psychologist could come up with something pretty enticing about that.

Can I really say, "I love movies" without ever having seen "Citizen Kane," arguably one of the most influential movies ever made? I don't know. I get away with saying "I love Mark Twain" without ever having read much of his novel writing.

Does that make me something of a cheat? Does it make my enthusiasm for a subject matter somewhat hollow?

Or, does it make me human?

I don't know. But, either way, I'll probably never see "Citizen Kane." Why? Because, truth be told, I'd rather pop in "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" and laugh my ass off as Peter Sellers destroys his own apartment trying to engage Burt Kwouk in yet another Cato/Clouseau battle royale any day.

And that, if anything, makes me about as human as I can be.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some Gentle Ribbing

Yesterday, my wife and I played hookey together.

(Sort of.)

She is an SLP at a school and is on a week-long spring break. I have Tuesdays off so, together, yesterday, we went hiking and vintage shopping and crappy food eating and road-tripping and open-air snacking and it was pretty much a great day-- with the exception of traffic on the way back.

Rush-hour traffic.

The nice thing about being stuck in rush-hour traffic was that we were not returning from eight (or more!) non-refundable hours spent at some soul-evaporating job. We had enjoyed our day together, and were paying a very nominal price for our time of leisure. It was okay.

Yesterday was indeed a day for serendipity, and taciturn appreciation, of spotting chipmunks in the woods, joking around about who got to walk in front of whom on the white blazed trail, and singing the "Matter" patter trio from "Ruddigore" at the top of our lungs, even though there are three parts, and only two Aprons.

It was unusual to be in the company of my goodlady wife on a Tuesday. Sometimes, when I have the day off, I will drive to her school and have lunch with her, but that's just for forty-eight minutes. This was the. whole. day, and that doesn't happen often for us.

Something else happened yesterday that also doesn't happen often. My wife told me a joke. Like, a traditional, this-is-how-it-goes, set-up and punch-line joke. There are people who tell jokes. Most of them are Jewish and are named "Milton" and are over eighty years old, and they wear white shoes and have bits of months-old corned beef stuck onto their pilling sweaters. My wife is Jewish, but that's where the similarities between she and the Miltons of the world end. Still, at 9:15am yesterday morning, she propped herself up in bed on one elbow and, while I was putting on my trousers, she started to tell me a joke.

"So, Adam and Eve are lying in bed, okay? And Eve says--"

I cut her off as soon as I realized what was going on.

"Wait," I said, "are you... are you telling me a joke?"

"Yeah. So, Eve--"

"You don't tell jokes," I protested, actually somewhat alarmed. "What have you done with my wife, pea-pod person?"

"Shut up, just listen. So, Eve says to Adam, 'I think you're cheating on me,' and Adam's like, 'Don't be ridiculous, who would I cheat on you with, there's no other woman around but you?' And Eve says, 'Oh, I guess you're right, I'm just being silly.' And then Eve gently starts running her fingers gently over Adam's chest and he says, 'What are you doing?' and Eve says, 'Checking to see if you've had any of your ribs removed.'"

I laughed loudly, buckling my belt.

"That's awesome!" I said enthusiastically as I cackled.

Mrs. Apron furrowed her brow. I guess she hadn't expected me to have enjoyed the joke so heartily.

A couple minutes later, I cracked up again, just thinking about it. I referenced the joke she had told me, and made some comment about Marilyn Manson. My wife looked at me like I was bum-fucking a squid.

"What?" she asked, thoroughly confused. A silence followed as I tried to piece together why she was so puzzled.

"Wait-- wasn't that the punchline of your joke? That Adam was cheating on Eve with himself-- by removing ribs so he could suck on his own dick?"

Mrs. Apron stared at me.

"Jesus Christ, you are such a pervert! Think about it-- how did Adam make Eve?"

"OH!" I shouted, "Riiiight. Got it."

"Only you," Mrs. Apron moaned, shaking her head, "only you would go right to sucking your own dick."

"Well," I said, "I'd dip it in dark chocolate first."

And, don't you know, she still agreed to spend the entire day with me. What a girl.

What a joke.

What a life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scofflaws Can Be Such Killjoys

Scofflaws.

Scoff. Laws.

Whatcha gonna do?

Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

Scofflaws, scofflaws...

If you're a scofflaw in Philadelphia, watch your ass, because court officers may just be knocking on your door, anxious to put their feet all the way up that ass of yours until they're toe-tickling your tonsils.

On Sunday night, court officers hit the bricks and busted 32 minor league shitheads who, together, owe the city approximately $120,000 for prior traffic violations. I watched the news on Monday morning and was slightly amused to see these num-nums being loaded into paddy wagons (yes, we still have those in Philly-- we call them Emergency Patrol Wagons, or "E.P.W.'s" for short) with their hands cuffed behind their backs and denim jackets draped over their heads, as if they were hardened criminals or something.

This presentation undoubtedly gave their criminal image a great boost. Likewise, the image of court officers also got kicked up a notch as these over-rated bailiffs and prisoner transport jockeys got to don heavy ballistic vests and wear their badges on chains around their necks, looking like U.S. Marshals or Ice-T from "Law & Order," bustin' down doors and not takin' no shit.

(Sidebar: When having casual conversations on the set, do you think, like, Richard Belzer calls Ice-T "Ice-T" or do you think he calls him "Tracy," his real name? Maybe he calls him "Barbara.")

Anyway, as I was watching these petty criminals being cuffed and stuffed into the E.P.W., my wife and I got into a brief discussion over the term "scofflaw," which is what these dunderheads essentially are, and it was how they were referred to by the local television newsheroes that Philadelphians incongruously worship.

"Scofflaw," my wife said, "that's such a funny word."

"Mm," was my intellectual contribution, before adding, "it's probably from old English."

"Right," she, the linguist, agreed, "like 'buzzkill' and 'killjoy'. We don't have that many more words in American English today."

The image on the television news program changed to that of a church. The reporter droned on about some story that might have been interesting to a Christian or something.

"Oh, you mean like 'touchboy' or 'fondlechild'?" I offered.

"Exactly," my wife said, "we just don't have words like that."

But, how wonderful would it be if we did? You could refer to your job, or your boss, as a "sucklife," your car as a "guzzlegas," and your blog as "masturbationclean."

The more I thought about the term "scofflaw" the more I started to like it. "I am one who scoffs at laws." I wonder how many of the 32 people arrested know what "scoffing" is. Probably not many of them. Maybe that's an ignorant or racist thing to say, and maybe you want to complain about that. Well, go ahead. I will scoff at your complaints. I will not pass them onto my superiors. In fact, I have no superiors. I scoffed at them, and they ran away from me, crying. Crybabies.

(Babycriers?)

Thinking about scofflaws, and the word scoffing in general, I think we need to move more in the direction of scoffing and less in the direction of snark. I think there is far too much snark in this society and far too little scoffing. So, let's get out there and scoff at some shit.

YEAH!

Oh, and, by the way: while doing research for this post (yes, I do research for these things. Isn't that painful?) I came across a quote that Richard Belzer offered at the 2002 Roast of Chevy Chase: "The only time Chevy Chase has a funny bone in him is when I fuck him up the ass."

Scoff at that, if you can.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Just Another Fat Girl Addict Headcase Asshole

I have addictions. Want me to spill my fucking guts for you? Okay. You convinced me that it'll be therapeutic. I'll do it. Some of my addictions concern food. I love eating. I'm a pretty voraciously ravenous sonofabitch. There are certain foods, however, that I love eating more than most others.

* RANCH DRESSING

What the fuck is Ranch Dressing? You'd think, as a self-styled connoisseur, that I would know. I don't. I mean, it's not like Italian dressing, which, presumably originated in Italy. Or French dressing, which maybe has some sort of origin in France. Was Ranch dressing created on a ranch somewhere? Like maybe in Montana? Was it a Dude Ranch? Why don't they call it Dude Dressing. Oh, wait, because that's probably what they call cum in Montana.

I use Ranch dressing as a condiment probably more than is socially acceptable for a soon-to-be-minted 31-year-old male. I put it on my sandwiches that I make for lunch-- you know, those sandwiches that take FAR TOO LONG to make. I dip carrots in Ranch. And broccoli. I put ranch on burgers. And Boca Burgers. And turkey burgers. And chicken burgers. And lamb burgers. I also dip buffalo chicken pizza into a small bowl of Ranch dressing. I mean, sure, the bowl is small, but I fill it way the fuck up. Why? Because I'm basically a fat girl in a skinny boy's body. Mrs. Apron and I watched the season premiere of "Heavy" (and that's all we watched of it, because, truthfully, it was kind of annoying) and they referred to Ranch dressing as "Fat Girl Food." "We fat girls just cannot live without our Ranch dressing," the fat girl in the show said, standing in front of her open refrigerator looking like she was about to fuck it. Someone told me recently that they prefer Low-Fat Ranch dressing. I don't know why. To me, that looks like Dude Dressing.

* CAFFEINE FREE DIET COKE

We've discussed this on an earlier blog, two weeks ago, I think. If you care, go back and read it. It's all about mimicking the symptoms of M.S. and dying early of cancer. It's also about assholes who don't know when to keep their mouths shut. So, that pretty much encompasses my food addictions. Those are the comestible objects that I need, literally, to survive. The rest I like, but it's all secondary when compared to Ranch and CFDC. Sad, huh?

* BLOGGING

A week or so ago, I seriously considered packing this all in. And it's not just because nobody reads anymore (I'm sorry, bubbie-- you're not nobody; you're somebody) it's because I feel like I'm repeating myself and that I'm getting spent and overtaxed worrying about what I'm going to write about next and making sure that I have enough blog posts pre-loaded to get me through the week and staying ahead of my self-imposed deadline, and it's all rather silly and, after 748 posts I think I really could justify stopping were it not for the very unfortunate and very real fact of the matter that... I'm addicted. To what part of it exactly, I don't know. Is it the identity (that, ironically, I don't claim publicly) or the routine or the imagined importance that this blog has on other people or the idea that I usually quit everything else I try and I'd be pretty bummed if I quit this, too? I don't know what keeps me coming back here sometimes, but I'm pretty sure that addiction plays a pretty strong role in so doing. I would hate to see myself in blog detox. I'd probably shart myself.

* PORN I have a wonderful marriage and a satisfactory sex life, but, if left alone at home for more than an hour, you can bet there's going to be porn involved. What can I say? Boobs, butt, and bush: I like.

* COLLECTING Cars, pocket and wristwatches, eyeglasses, typewriters, cellphones, desk phones, dress shirts, neckties, bowties, G&S-related shit. I guess you can call me a discerning hoarder. Or an asshole.

* ASKING INTRUSIVE QUESTIONS So, what are YOUR addictions?

(And what are you wearing right now? Grrrrrrrowwwwl......)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Damn Good Sport

A colleague asked me recently what sport I excelled at the most when I was in high school. Some of them don't really know me all that well yet.

"Masturbation," I replied. With every question, however, they're getting to know me better.

No. No real athletics for me growing up, and yet I sure as hell managed to break a shitload of bones. Hardcore Apronheads will no doubt remember my post about fracturing my ankle in elementary school music class. Classic. There was also that time I made the mistake of picking up the telephone in my Great Grandmother's bedroom while my sister was on the phone with some douchecarton in the other room. I giggled into the receiver, but the giggling stopped when she blew into the bedroom, wrenched the receiver out of my hand, and broke my arm. There were other casts, and boots, and crutches, and, just to mix it up, a cane, but it's hard now to remember what incidents brought upon which injuries. The cane was the result, of course, of my father running my foot over with the old Saab.

Good. Times.

I can only imagine how many injuries I would have sustained had I decided to pursue athletics instead of theatre. I mean, any actor will tell you that performing is a dangerous business. Backstage, it's very dark and there are sound wires and cables and big, thick, knotted rope and sandbags and weights and rickety wooden supports holding up flats-- lots of shit to potentially fuck your night up if you step the wrong way. Back in high school, some dicktard fell through a trap-door during a rehearsal for "The Crucible."

Oops.

Onstage, it's pretty dangerous, too. Lots of shows feature at least some level of stage combat. A slap or a punch. I've been in several shows that involved full-on sword fights-- two of those involved flying, too, which is kind of tricky. Even though the swords were blunted, I could easily have jabbed poor Peter Pan in the schnutz as he flew over my head. And then he'd really never grow up, or at least he'd never have a kid who would grow up.

Also, theatres themselves are dangerous. Back in the day, they'd burn down all the time, due to antiquated lighting systems, risky special effects, and melodrama.

But sports always were, and definitely remain, very perilous endeavors. I mean, the very core idea behind some sports is the act of throwing your body up against the body of another.

Ouchies, right?

Because I never "did sports" growing up, I missed out on a lot of shit, I'm sure. Like the whole, "it's okay to slap another guy's ass, or a lot of guys' asses" thing. I've never slapped another guy's ass and have had it be some sort of socially-acceptable, non-threatening, non-gay thing. It was always kind of... I don't know... unacceptable, a bit threatening, and, you know, gay. Like, if you were a guy (and, if you're reading this blog, you're probably not) and I slapped your ass, you'd probably punch me in the throat, regardless of whether or not you were wearing a Brian Dawkins jersey at the time.

Although I can't say this with absolute certaintly, I'm also pretty sure I never won a trophy. No-- no plastic, rectangular pieces of white plastic with some sort of plastic, athletic-looking figurine coated in gold paint with some metallic, shimmery-colored placard saying, "Honorable Mention for Squash Semi-Regionals, Section IV " for me. You'll probably say to yourself, "Well, Jesus, this cat's such a fucking schdork he must have done Speech & Debate and got some trophy he just doesn't remember."

Nope. You're wrong. I wasn't even cool enough for Speech & Debate. So, like, your argument is wrong. See? I coulda done it, though.

Another thing I never got growing up because I eschewed all things athletic was a torn ACL. In case you haven't boned up on your anat/phys, the ACL is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, and lots of athletes fuck that shit right up. If you hang out around enough athletes who love to talk about themselves and the stupid injuries they get while they're engaging in sporting activities, sooner or later, you'll hear some square-jaw talking your ear off about his/her ACL. If you get an athlete drunk enough, he or she might go on and on about an ACL injury for hours, and then they may throw up on you.

According to some annoying website somewhere, "more than 81,600 people injured their knee playing soccer, and 225,800 sustained injuries in basketball" and, if THAT weren't bad enough, "an estimated 200,000 ACL injuries occur annually in the United States. Approximately 60,000-75,000 ACL reconstructions are performed each year."

So, I guess, the way I look at it, really: I didn't miss much. But part of me still wants a fucking trophy. And, if I have to bust up my ACL to get it, I'd consider it. But only if it were a really big trophy. Like, one that I could hot-glue to the roof of my car and drive around the neighborhood with. You know-- to fucking really rub it in peoples' faces and shit.


That's right. I went there.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Memesonic Apron

In addition to working at a psychiatric hospital, I also teach theatre to impressionable youngsters.

(Of course I do.)

Mostly, I do private audition coaching and monologue work, on an individual basis which, I guess, the word "private" implies. Just me and the student, one-on-one, sparring intellectually, dodging each other's witticisms and engaging in the kind of reparte that, I suppose, college professors find stimulating during office hours.

Occasionally, we also do scenework.

I'm fortunate enough, pretty much, to have my pick of the litter. A student gets recommended to me, or referred to me, or suggested to me, and I get to give thumbs up or thumbs down whether I want to work with him or her. For the past year, I've been working one-on-one with a fine, upstanding young man whom I will call Jack, because that's not his name. Jack is a rabbi's son, comes from a pretty well-to-do family, and travels quite a distance for our lessons, which is kind of flattering. I have little doubt that there are perfectly suitable and competent acting instructors closer to his front door, some of whom would probably be willing to travel to his front door. But I'm not. I make him schlep out to see me, and, for the past year, he has done just that.

Apparently, it's paid off. Last month, he applied to and auditioned for, and just got accepted to my alma mater. And I didn't even have to grease a single wheel.

Jack works hard, and he works on hard material. I throw challenging playwrights his way-- Sam Shepherd, Harold Pinter, Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Israel Horovitz, just to name a few. He doesn't blink, he doesn't say "I can't," and he never comes to class unprepared. He knows I would kill him.

We have a great relationship. I'm casual in demeanor with him, loose with my language, but, when it's time to work, it's time to work-- I'm supportive and encouraging, but I'm also firm, demanding, and, when I spy bullshit, I call him out on it. If he's mugging or indicating or phoning it in, it does not continue. He likes to be called out. "Nobody's ever done that to me before," he says. Well, welcome to Hell, son.

Sometimes, the hour we have together stretches into an hour and fifteen minutes, or an hour and a half. We philosophize, we story-tell, we talk shop, but also we talk life. I remember one conversation recently we had about television. I was in the midst of enjoying a significant amount of "The Carol Burnett Show" sketches on YouTube, and I asked Jack,

"As someone who has grown up completely saturated by and with reality television, can you tell me honestly, from your perspective, why television is all shit nowadays?"

He smiled at me.

"Uh-oh, I just said something cantankerous about television, and I also just used the words 'nowadays' and 'cantankerous.' Did I just age in your eyes by forty-five years?"

Jack laughed.

"Yeah, you did. You talk like my Zayda." Then, like in our lessons, he got serious. I could tell it was coming by the way he furrowed his brow. "Look, what is reality TV? Shows like 'Teen Mom' and 'Jersey Shore'? They're people behaving badly-- like idiots. Assholes. And what is everybody obsessed with? The latest YouTube clip of some asshole doing something idiotic."

"Right, or it's a cat belching the French alphabet," I chimed in, "or a baby creating a telescope out of a paper towel roll."

"Yeah," Jack said, "and that's all bullshit, and I think the television producers and execs see us going ape over this dumb, mindless crap and they say, 'That's it-- that's what they want to see!'"

As someone who spends an inordinate amount of his day off watching Tim Conway breaking up the late Harvey Korman with just a knowing, sideways glance before an expertly-placed bit of improv, this precient statement by my pupil struck a chord in me.

"It's as if there's nothing well-crafted anymore, like, the market for that has simply dried up," I complained, as an elderly man might when confronted by a poorly-constructed corned beef sandwich at a faux-deli.

"Right, that's because there's nothing well-crafted online either. It's all drug-addicted retards doing crappy animation in their basements being funny or 'Shit My Dad Says' or blogs that are all just pics and videos or other shitty user-generated content, like, I don't know if you know what a 'meme' is--"

I stared at him.

"I want to murder you right now," I said. He cracked up.

"Okay," he said, "sorry, but, like Double Rainbow guy-- like, that's just total bullshit and, in two weeks, nobody's going to give a shit about that,"

"Right, because this culture is so vapid and ridiculous that a video of a 4-year-old ballerina dancing with a terrier is going to take the country by storm."

"Right," Jack agreed, "we're all about the next meme. Who can share what with whom first. That's what we're all about."

And that talented sonofabitch is right. And that gave me pause. What also gave me pause was that an eighteen-year-old high school senior suddenly suspected that I might be too old, no, perhaps too out-of-touch to know what a "meme" was.

Though he sometimes places his foot strategically inside his mouth when he's in my company, he is a smart kid. But I'm sure my alma mater will fix that.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Well, Hog My Hooter and Call Me a Neuter, It's... DEAR APRON!

Recently, a friend of mine suggested that I explore, in therapy, the demons "and issues that gave rise to Dr. Apron. You fucked up monster."

I am SO going to do that. Once I find someone who takes my shitty Aetna insurance and isn't currently being investigated by the PA Department of Health. Until then, let's keep it real real, son, with another attack of the herpetic wolf-sore known as...

DEAR APRON:

My job requires me to travel out of town several nights a week, leaving my wife home alone. She recently invited a mutual (male) friend out for dinner during my absence. He's the other half of a couple we socialize with frequently. (His wife was also out of town.)

I told her I was uncomfortable with it. I don't think married men and women should go out alone with members of the opposite sex. She maintains that it wasn't a "date," that she was just having a meal with a friend.

I value your opinion and would like to know how you feel about this. Did I overreact? Is it appropriate for a married woman to go out for a meal alone with a man other than her husband? -- FEELING CHEATED ON IN ILLINOIS

DEAR FEELING CHEATED ON:

It depends. Were they eating spaghetti together over a red-and-white checked tablecloth and the mutual male friend nuzzled over a stray meatball onto your wife's side plate? Did they both go for the same noodle at the same time, resulting in a blush-inducing peck on the smacker?

Do you think they did it on your bedroom carpet? Doggy-style, of course, to complete the vintage cinematic/cultural reference.

I don't think you overreacted, simply by whining about this to your wife and then writing me that limp-dick letter. Now, had you bisected your wife utilizing a chainsaw or some other gas-powered garden implement, I might say that could be reasonably construed as an overreaction.

Look, if you're really feeling wracked with anger and frustration over this incident, the very least you should do is ball the other dude's wife.

Of course, you've probably already done that, so you're ahead of the game. Nice.

DEAR APRON:

Whenever my father comes into my room to wake me up, he opens the shutters on my windows. After spending hours in a dark room, the bright light hurts my eyes.
I have talked to him about it several times, but usually find myself apologizing for being overly sensitive about the matter.

Apron, even when he has promised not to, he still does it. Is there anything I can do to make him stop? -- SENSITIVE EYES IN RICHMOND, VA.

DEAR SENSITIVE:

For Christ's sake: how old are you? Anybody who is young enough to be bothered by their father opening up the shutters of their bedroom window is too young to be writing to an advice columnist, and anybody old enough to be writing to an advice columnist shouldn't be living in their parents' house. So, this leads me to ask: just what the fuck is going on here?

Is this letter code for something? Is "comes into my room to wake me up" code for... something else? Is "opens the shutters on my windows" some sort of way of telling me that your father is molesting you? Is that what this is? Is this letter some sort of encrypted cry for help?

Holy shit. You're sending out a signal for my help. I'm like Batman.

Just hang on, dear. I'll be there to stop this insidious man from "coming into your room to wake you up" and "opening the shutters on your windows." That bastard. Just you hang on there until my tights are done in the dryer.

Just. Hang. In. There. Kid.

DEAR APRON:

I have been dating the same wonderful man nearly a year now. Although we are not yet engaged, we are headed in that direction and are already discussing wedding plans.

His mother, whom I adore, has offered to make my wedding gown. I am ecstatic at the prospect, but I have a question: Should I offer to pay for the material or just accept this generous gift? -- PRE-ENGAGED IN GULFPORT, MISS.

DEAR PRE-ENGAGED:

Why, of COURSE you should offer to pay for the goddamned wedding gown, you tight-fisted, narrow-minded skinflint! Why, you-- I oughta come over there right now and open the hell out of the shutters on your goddamn windows.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tase of Our Lives

Sometimes, in the midst of all the reality TV and coupon circulars and porn that swirls around my life, in spite of all the inane thoughts that run through my head and the retarded noises I make at my dogs, every now and then I will catch myself getting sort of philosophical.

(Sometimes.)

I think about life, and death, and everything in between. As Private Willis sings in the opening of Act II of Iolanthe,

"I am an intellectual chap,
And think of things that would astonish you."

Why only the other day I thought of something dead smart, but I don't remember what it was. The brain's tip-top, it's the memory that's shot.

One of the philosophical questions that I was mulling over recently had to do with matters of personal protection, as pretains to the ever-popular (except when there's a shooting and somebody "innocent" gets killed) 2nd Amendment. It reads something like this:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

That's the version passed by Congress. The one ratified by the States is exactly the same text, but different words are capitalized, because that's Funny.

So, I was thinking to myself, "If people are allowed to legally purchase firearms, ostensibly for home protection, why aren't civilians allowed to buy Tasers?"

Turns out, as usual, I spoke too soon.

They are.

Or, ought I to say, "we" (the people) are.

Ladies and gentlepricks, allow me to be the one to introduce you, gape-mouthed as I'm sure you are, to iTaser (http://www.itaser.com/), which is the civilian, personal self-defense portion of the Taser Corporation's website.

Want to protect yourself from the ski-masked attackers of the world? Folks, the Taser C2 has arrived.

In gobs of cool colors, too!



Oooh! I wanna collect 'em all! Too bad the basic package is $379.99, or I totes would. I'm not sure I could pull off the Leopard print look, but I'd sure as shit try.

Now, if you'll permit a brief diversion while I comment on the whole color thing. Taser products utilized by police officers are usually bright safety yellow, which makes sense, so officers can distinguish the Taser product from the gun product rapidly in a stressful situation. But "Metallic Pink"? "Electric (haha) Blue"? Come on. We're really trying to cool-ify the Taser (like it isn't already cool enough, right?) like it's, I don't know... an iPhone skin?


Hey-- remember that ill-fated decision I made to blog about how pharmaceutical companies were trying to make Diabetes cool by offering snazzy-looking glucometers?


Yeeeeeeaah, lost a few readers with that one.

Anyway, getting back to lighting people up, if buying a gun really skeeves you out, you can purchase a Taser C2 for, as stated, around $380, or you can go for the Platinum Package, which gets you a choice of the aforementioned awesomeballs colors (the standard one only comes in black. Moo) with an integrated laser sight, and it also comes with...

• 1 Lithium Power Magazine Battery (Such batteries in Priuses are gay, in Tasers, they're awesome!)

• 1 Holster (looks just like a cellphone belt clip! Be careful, though, the last cellphone belt clip I had was defective, and my cellphone fell out of the back of it into the toilet! Blork!)

• 4 15' Live Cartridges (Four? Really? How many motherfuckers are we going to tase, bro?)

• 1 15' Training Cartridge (Ah, education. Excellent.)

• 1 Practice Target (Practice makes perfect!)

• 1 User Manual (Um, hell-ooooo: nobody reads those things.)

• 1 Training DVD (I would watch that if the instructor is a hot red-head who tases people.)

• 1 Registration Card (I refuse to fill out such a card on the grounds that I'm an American and don't have to.)

When I first learned that ordinary civilians could acquire Taser products (following a background check, which is, you know, nice) I thought to myself, "Well, if that decreases purchases of handguns and other lethal firearms, then I guess that's a good thing." Then it occurred to me that the type of person who would, most likely, purchase a Taser product for personal use is more likely than not to be the exact same person or type of person who would also purchase a firearm or firearms for the selfsame purpose. A collector, or "hobbyist," if you will.

The thought of young children finding their stupid parents' Taser C2s and tasing each other by accident (and middle and high school-age children doing it on purpose) just makes me sit and shake my head. What is the world coming to?

On the bright side, the Taser C2's long-lasting Lithium power magazine allows for over 50 uses, each charge delivering a 30-second-long jolt to your attacker. Just in case you're feeling especially philosophical.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Borders on Ridiculous

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I harbored this lewd and slightly literate fantasy that I would engage in a chance meeting with a comely, brown-haired young woman in a Borders Books & Music store. We would chat awkwardly about Dave Eggers or what-have-you, have awkward sex at her apartment where that print of the fairy in the canoe in the lagoon that every girl has would be hanging on the wall, and we'd eventually marry and have children with mild-to-moderate asthma and scoliosis.

I wrote a personal essay about this little fixation of mine that got published in an e-journal and, years later, it got me fired from an English subsitute gig at a girls' Catholic school. And I never did find that pretty brown-haired girl in the stacks at Borders. She found me, and it was on J-Date. Turns out you can't pre-write your own love story after all.

Unless you've been living under a strung-out, Chinese prostitute's immediate family for the past month, you've probably heard that Borders is bankrupt. That fact alone is pretty startling, if you think about Borders's meteoric rise to brick-and-mortar dominance over the past twenty-or-so years. The tremendous success of Borders in the 1990's is equally amazing considering the fact that probably two thirds of this country is basically illiterate, including a significant portion of the Commonwealth I call home. I guess that's why they don't just sell books, they also sell DVDs, CDs, stationery, Moleskines, pens, Lindor truffles, coffee, coffee cake, bags, calendars, stuffed animals, greeting cards, and basically anything else they can think of to prevent themselves from going up in a puff of smoke.

Speaking of which...




What the fuck is up with this?

Now, you know me. I'm about as pure as the driven snow when it comes to illicit substances such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, speed, meth, Ready Rock, Big 8, Deeda, Candy Raver, Hippie Crack, New Jack Swing, E-tard, Coco snow, and Fizzies, but I was, frankly, surprised to see such an abundance of grow-it-yourself guides concerning at-home production of pot.

At Borders.

In suburban, southeastern Pennsylvania.

Where moms wear diamond-encrusted tennis bracelets and drive Lexus SUVs.


I mean, the books just went on and on. It was like a bad "Cheech and Chong" joke. But I repeat myself.

As I scanned the shelves of the (I swear) Horticulture Section at Borders this past Sunday, I began to think about why Borders is sinking. Sure, e-readers and Tablets are making stand-alone book stores, peddling paper wares obsolete, no doubt. But I couldn't help but wonder if Borders had maybe been guilty of misjudging their clientele. Perhaps some market analysis is in order, if only for this one location. After all, this isn't San Francisco, for Christ's sake. It's hard for me to picture my elementary school friends' moms sending us off to the park to play so that they could secretly adjust the heat lamps shining on their hashish gardens, carefully thumbing through "The Best of Ask Ed: Your Marijuana Questions Answered" [Paperback] to see just how much water those guldern things need for maximum return.

It's possible, of course, that I live in a neighborhood that is positively a'flutter with marijuana production, and I'm just blissfully unaware of what is going on around me. I mean, back in high school, a friend of mine opened her bedroom closet one day to show me some pot she was growing under some crudely-fashioned lamps. I was immediately panic-stricken. Part of me wanted to dime on her, because I am, at heart, a narc. Part of me wanted to sleep with her, because she was (and is) from Bangladesh and was (and is) wickedly gorgeous. My friend was, I assumed, the neighborhood anomaly. Most people don't have weed in their closet, I reasoned with myself. And, if they do, I reason today, they're probably not the kind of people who would go to Borders Books & Music and plunk down $21.95 (minus 10% with a Borders Rewards Card!) for hot tips on how to make your leaves larger. I don't know. I guess I'm just disheartened about the state of things. I don't really give a shit that Borders is going out of business. I just kind of long for the days when it was a safe haven for lonely schelps trolling for moderately attractive, educated life-mates, not hapless, hackey-sack-playing, DIY drug-fucks.


Maybe I'm naive. Maybe I'm a prude. But one thing is for sure-- no matter what it looks like, I definitely wasn't high when I took that last picture.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Broadway's Bad Way

CAVEAT BLOGDOR: I am about to do something I abhor, namely, criticize something I haven't seen. Actually, fuck that-- I'm going to criticize LOTS of things I haven't seen. Because this is my blog, and, if I can't be a raging hypocrite here, I might as well just go pull down my pants, hate fuck a rusty tin can and call it day.

Know what I mean?

------------------------------------------------------

Many of you know that, from 1998-2002, I was a theatre major. It was an ill-fated decision, one that, through a circuitous series of less-than-serious circumstances landed me in a psychiatric hospital (with keys, thank you, ma'am) though not necessarily a decision that I regret. I mean, I may decide, one day, that I regret it, but that day hasn't arrived yet. Though maybe it did and I'm just too stubborn or stupid to recognize/acknowledge it.

Regardless, I was a theatre major, and, forever and all times, that is what I shall be known as in certain circles. Yesterday, one of my patients asked what my educational background was after what I thought was a pretty successful group I had just run.

"Psych, I'm assuming," the patient said with a smile.

"Actually, theatre-- with a Master of Education degree, too."

She looked at me in what I determined was a slightly uneasy silence, but the smile didn't totally disappear from her face, which I guess is good. Ever since I graduated from college, I've always felt like an idiot telling people that I was a theatre major. It sounded like something someone who is definitely... not.... me would have done for four years and I immediately felt guilty and ridiculous about having done it.

Four years of my life, and roughly $112,000 went to... that?

It's funny how our view of ourselves sometimes conflicts with reality. This said, again, by someone who has keys. But, really, it's true. I like to think of myself as so grounded, so practical, so discerning, so reality-based-- someone like that wouldn't be a theatre major, would they? Surely someone whose eyes scan the world for bullshit like a radar-detector pierces through traffic to find that errant speeder would have clearly detected the masturbatory nature and the ineffectual results of flitting time galloping amongst the redwoods as a theatre major.

But I didn't.

Ironically, the one thing I was afraid of about becoming a theatre major ended up not happening. See, I was one of those pillocks who was of the opinion that, if you studied something, if you took it apart, if you engaged in its analysis through educational avenues that the subject of your studies would lose its, well, its magic-- for lack of a more scholarly, erudite term.

Yeah. Turns out that doesn't happen. Like, if you study comedy, Sarah Silverman is still funny. And hot as corduroy-covered balls in August. Imagine that.

Studying theatre actually enhanced my appreciation of the art form, I'm happy (and still a little bit surprised, even today) to say. Maybe it's because, really, I didn't study it (or, frankly, anything) that hard in college. I cut so much Biology that, when I finally decided to return to class to take the final, there was an unfamiliar woman at the front of the class, handing out the exams.

"Who the hell is that?" I whispered to the person sitting in the seat next to me, whose name I didn't know, because I never went to the class.

"That's the professor," the brown-haired girl in the North Face fleece replied.

"What happened to the other one?" I asked. The girl looked at me like I was a pig's asshole.

"She's on maternity leave."

Silence.

"She was pregnant?"

I went to my theatre classes far more often, but the scholarly articles were pretty deadly, from what I remember, and I didn't read most of them. I did what was routinely called "excellent" work in the acting, playwriting, and directing classes, because that's all I really gave a shit about. In college, I was routinely in more than one play at a time, writing, editing, publishing and promoting a book, appearing in a friend's film project, co-writing and appearing in a campus television show, and there was a time where I was churning out an original one-act play a week. Amazingly, I still found time to masturbate and say inappropriate things in the dining hall. AND I was always prepared for my acting, directing and playwriting classes.

These classes definitely deepened my appreciation of and respect for theatre. One of the highlights of our theatre education in college was an opportunity to travel to New York City to see Liev Schreiber and some other assholes in some Harold Pinter play. I was pretty juiced. It was awesome. I didn't give a shit about Liev Schreiber. I was excited to be riding shotgun in the Theatre Department Chair's Nissan Quest and to see a Harold Pinter play.

I've seen precious few shows in Broadway. The Harold Pinter play that I can't remember the title of... um... "Cabaret," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "A Little Night Music," and.... that's probably just about it. There's probably one or two more-- maybe. But, maybe not. After all, I've pretty much always been an hourly sumbitch, and Broadway's a little rich for my blood. Not only that, I know I can see fabulous theatre pretty much whenever I want in Philadelphia, and I don't have to sell blood and seed for three months to be able to afford it. Besides, isn't everything on Broadway now basically just a recreation of a movie or some shit?

"Spiderman"? Le Shudder.

"Mary (Fucking) Poppins." "Billy Elliot." "The Lion King." "The Addams Family." "Catch Me if You Can."

And now, oh sweet Jesus-- "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

Really?

Now, as I intimated in the caveat of this blog, I have never seen the Broadway show "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." And I never saw the movie, either, although I heard that portions of it were filmed near my neighborhood. And I'm not necessarily bashing the movie, or the musical, or both. What I am bashing is the seemingly intractable notion that plays have to be something else before they become plays worthy enough for Broadway.

I realize that we're in a recession, and Broadway producers ("The Producers"???) won't vom up the big bucks for anything that they aren't 106% sure will be a June-is-bustin'-out-all-over hit, but, come on. Does nobody have an original idea for a goddamn show that's worth promoting and producing? It's... sad. Broadway: big, flashy, gaudy, awesomesauce Broadway is sad. It's almost as sad as... as.... a theatre major.

And that's sad.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oh, Bits.

For a while, when I was younger, I would read the obituary page of The Philadelphia Inquirer. When I remarked to a camp counselor that I did this, he asked me why. "To make sure I'm not in there," I quipped.

Precocious, indeed.

Really, the reason I read the obituaries was to see if anybody I knew was in there. I'm not quite sure who exactly I thought I might know, as a fourth grader in suburban southeast Pennsylvania, who might be recently deceased and, therefore, would be in the obituaries. But, for a good few years, I read the obituaries-- just to make sure. I read them pretty regularly. Like other developmentally dubious, potentially unhealthy habits in which I engaged as a child, my parents did little to curb this particular... interest.

"Why don't you read the comics?" my mother helpfully suggested one morning as I sat in my father's chair at the dining room table, hunched over the obits page. I thought about that idea for a moment or two, and it seemed reasonable.

"Okay," I responded. And I began to read the comics, after finishing up reading the obituaries. My favorite comics as a child were "Bloom County" and "Doonesbury."

There is no denying that death is fascinating, especially to a child, who is just beginning to fit death into his whole schema of how the world operates. The utter finality of it, the universality of it, the why and wherefore-- it was pretty arresting for little bowl-cut ol' me. I enjoyed very much reading all the different names and professions people had, how long they lived, where they were being buried. Goldsteins was a very popular funeral home in my neck of the woods, and, as the years went on, several members of my mother's family passed through that way. Those who worshipped in a different way frequently were tended to by the Donahue folks. They had multiple locations. Death is a big business.

The one thing that really irked the piss out of me as a kid reading obituaries was the distinct lack of gory details-- especially when the decedent was a young buck. Like-- I really wanted to know what happened and I thought, if they were going to bother putting this shit in the newspaper, which is supposed to provide information, that I had kind of a right to know how these people died. I wasn't particularly interested in, "passed suddenly." Well, if you're not wasting away in some Stryker bed in your living room with bedsores all over your ass or hooked up to a ventilator in some ICU, isn't it pretty much always "sudden"? Come on, bitches-- I wanted the details.

What? Was she shot? Stabbed? Hammered or what? Did he eat poorly washed baby lettuce with E-coli in it? Was it an aneurysm or an embolism or a tension pneumothorax or a cerebrovascular hemorrhage? Did some crazy fuck put a pillow over this creep's face because he owed him $30 and a Sega Genesis game? I realized, of course, that it was just a tiny obituary and not a coroner's report, but I was reasonably sure that maybe seven or eight words about the cause of death wouldn't kill anybody.

See what I did there?

I routinely scanned the obituary pages to see if people were around the same age my parents were back then. If I read the entire day's worth of death notices, and there were no people who had died at roughly the age my parents were at this time, I could go to school relatively comforted that one or both of them weren't going to drop dead while I was not learning math. This was the kind of reassurance I craved, amongst lots of other kinds. If I read the obituaries and there were a couple of people who kicked it in their late thirties to early forties, it would be a challenging day at school. I wouldn't be able to focus. It's not that I'd be thinking about my parents dying all day, but, at inopportune moments, my mind would admittedly drift back to that unfortunate subject. Well, I'd reason, if it could happen to Stella V. D'Orisio (née Kaplan), then it could just as easily happen to my mommy. I'd like to entirely blame my mediocre grades on this preoccupation of mine, but I don't think that would be entirely fair. I also watched a lot of Monty Python.

Of course, as a child, I never found anybody I knew in the newspaper's obituary section. It was only after I actually started knowing people who had died that I stopped reading the obituaries. Maybe it became too real at that point. My great-uncle. My neighbor. My allergist. The girl I knew from school who died of a heart attack while getting her wisdom teeth out.

Suddenly.

And it was perhaps then that I realized why, when someone so young passes, the family doesn't particularly feel compelled to reveal the reason behind the premature exit from the stage of life. Because it's just too painful. And, really, in the end-- what does it matter? When you're dead, you're dead. And to you and your loved ones, it's a calamity of unequaled proportions. And to some kid with a funny haircut sitting in a turquoise sweatsuit with his legs folded underneath him in his father's chair poring over the newspaper-- it's merely a curious obsession.

To put it mildly.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

You Have Been Warned

There aren't a lot of things I miss about working the streets as an EMT. There are a few, though.

I miss my old partner. Sure, he had psoriasis all over the back of his neck and on his arms and knuckles and, when his flare-ups were really bad it kind of turned my stomach, and he was cheating on his wife with another employee of our company, and that kind of turned my stomach, too, but he was exceedingly nice to me. And, really, when you're in an ambulance with someone for forty hours a week, that's pretty much what counts.

I miss wearing a uniform and a badge. I remember the first time I ever walked into a Krispy Kreme establishment, ordered a coffee, and had my money refused with a smile and a wave-off from the clerk. "Holy shit," I thought, "now I see how the badge'd class can abuse their power-- it's so damn easy. And sometimes power tastes like coffee with cream and six sugars." I enjoyed the authority and the gravitas that a clean, pressed, professional-looking set of blues with a couple shoulder-patches and a badge can carry. It felt good walking around like you owned a hospital-- who was going to stop you from going anywhere you wanted?

And I'd be peeing on your face and calling it a sex-act if I told you that I didn't miss those red lights and that fucking siren. The first time I ever ran hot I thought I was going to get washed away from the massive swamp-ass I was incurring, and the black, plastic steering wheel was positively soaked with palm sweat by the time we reached the E.R., but, after a while, even I learned to relax a little bit during emergency runs and just... enjoy the ride.

The siren is a powerful tool inside an emergency vehicle. It has the power to instantly turn the brains of motorists in front of you into absolute clam chowder. They mean well, but they don't do the right thing. They slam on their brakes. They veer off to the left. They speed up. They turn in front of you. They freak. And I get it. I've done it. You panic and you want desperately to do the procedurally correct thing, the thing that you learned by reading your Driver's Ed manual on the toilet when you were fifteen years and eleven months old, and you inevitably end up fucking up. The siren warns you that something big and potentially dangerous is happening, right behind you, and you'd better get the hell out of the way.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to be in the car to hear another warning intonation yesterday. We were at the bank, about to deposit a check to stimulate our horny bank account, and a very leathery gentleman entered his Mercedes and put it in reverse. A back-up alarm, sounding very much like a child's bicycle horn, or the horn on Harpo's walking stick, sounded. And what warning did it send out to the masses? That an octogenarian was reversing in a 2009 Mercedes E-Class Sedan, thus creating a threatening situation in which a 3,740 pound mass of German engineering may very well injure you, cripple you, and/or terminate your existence had you the misfortune of perambulating across the Bank of America parking lot at that very moment.

And then it occurred to us: cars piloted by old fuckers ought to have alarms that sound, not just when they're backing up, but all the time.

I mean, sure, you can pretty much bet good cash money on the fact that a 1998 Toyota Camry (gray with gray interior) is being driven by someone whose varicose veins resemble the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on a full-zoom image from Google Earth, but why not just cut through the guess-work, save seconds and potentially save human life by forcing elderly drivers to drive cars that produce a high-pitched wail of warning as they barrel down the boulevard or meander across the double yellow line at seven miles-per-hour. That way, you wouldn't have to waste time looking for the pork pie hat or the teased-up blue hair peeking out from behind the driver's side headrest. You'd just know, because of the OFS (Old Fuck Siren).

The best part about the O.F.S. is that it does so much more than just warn you, the unsuspecting, fully-functional public, that some sag-ass named Milton is headed your way in a 1987 Lincoln Continental, its continual whine would actually remind the elderly sonofabitch that s/he is actually driving. You know how old people are-- they forget things, even whilst they're doing them. Sure, one moment they could be cognizant that they're driving a car, but the very next moment they could be convinced that they're on safari or at a burlesque show. The mind wanders. They get CVAs. The O.F.S. would pierce through their consciousness at all times with the unmistakable message: YOU ARE DRIVING A CAR. FO-CUS.

Because, let's face it: this is America. You can't take away a toothless hick's right to own a gun, you can't make nicotine-addicted blowhole necks stop smoking cigarettes, and you sure as shit can't stop guys from Altoona from fornicating with their sisters, so, in spite of all the research about brain atrophy and delayed motor responses, you're not going to take the keys to the Oldsmobile away from Cloris or Gaylord, so we might as well do all we can do to throw the rest of us a fucking bone, so we don't end up as the hood ornament on some old daddy Caddy.

Who's with me?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Scan-dalous

(Author's note: Due to the fact that I frequently consume my breakfast [two chocolate chip & peanut butter granola bars] on my way to work, on Friday I got melted chocolate [courtesy of my car's ass-warmers] on my trousers today. My wife is doing laundry now and, consequently, I am now typing this blog in my underwear. I just thought, in the interest of full disclosure, you ought to know. Thanks.)

Mrs. Apron and I do our best to attend cultural events whenever possible. And by "cultural events" I do not necessarily mean Puerto Rican Pride Day parades, Oktoberfest, Leukemia walks or epileptic orgies. We typically go to folk music concerts, plays, operas, dance concerts and the odd synagogue service. And I do mean odd. The last one we went to there were people wearing shorts and sandals. We didn't go back.

In honor of the date my wife and I met, I took her to see "Romeo & Juliet," as set to music by Charles Gounod, at the Academy of Music. The cost of the tickets made my ass bleed just a little, but it was well worth it-- an astoundingly beautiful and visually arresting show. And I'm not just saying that because a lot of the performers were hot, though I am hardly above such sentiments and observations.

Because I'm a technological man-of-the-world, I ordered the tickets online and printed them out at home, and they had that cool little barcode on them, which was scanned by some leathery, burgundy-jacketed troll at the Academy with a hand-scanner. We were authorized. That little scanner's *blip!* solidified our right to be at this venue, at this time, on this date, even though my trousers were purchased at a thrift shop.

I think scanners are sweet-azz. I love them. At the library where my mother works, they have scanners at the desk, obviously, to check in books that patrons return, usually late, because they're irresponsible jit-stains. When I was a boy, I used to go to the library all the time because I was, in fact, epoxyed to my mother's hip, and they had just procured these nifty hand scanners. I used to like to pick one up-- holding it in both hands with my arms outstretched-- when nobody was looking and say, in a scream-whisper, "DROP THE KNIFE, ASSHOLE!"

Ah, those were the days.

"Put that down!" my mother would hiss, "you're going to blind somebody."

"Ah, most of these old jerks in here are already half blind anyway," I once remarked. The overwhelming quantity of books-on-tape and large-print Agatha Christie offerings seemed to provide ample proof of this disposition.

When my wife and I dutifully registered for our wedding at Macy's and Crate & Barrel, we went totally bullshit. Out of control. We were completely stupid, signifying, without doubt, that we were ready to engage in the holy act of matrimony.

I was reminded of scanners once again when I printed out tickets for a craft festival that my wife and I will be attending today. Again, the tickets are the print-at-home, we-scan-you-in style. And I just think that's so cool. Gone are the days of stupid little tear-off tickets and elderly ladies holding little Dorothy Gale baskets full of stubs. It's ZAP! I like zapping. Zapping is very modern. So is Zappos, which I also like, despite being a heterosexual male.

In fact, I like scanning and zapping so much that I think, as the world turns, there ought to be more things we can zap.

Such as...

TITS

Would it not be THE FUCKING BOMB if you had a little laser scanner that you could point at a pair of milk-pillows and it would give you a digital readout of their cup-size and whether or not they contained any silicone or other non-natural substances?

Keep in mind, this wouldn't JUST be a tool for perverts/mammary afficianados. Border patrol agents could use this technology to see if the breasts of possible "mules" contained any hidden cocaine packets. Bra sales associates would no longer have to futz with fussy measuring tapes, they could be certain of getting the size right before you could say, "Hello, Bombshell!" Oncologists could utilize the technology to test for unwelcomed lumps.

I like tits.

IQ

You should be able, within the next century or two, to zap someone's head to determine a relatively precise measurement of their intelligence quotient. This would be especially helpful to people engaged in the painful and emotionally fraught circumstance of the blind date or the college admissions process.

GENNIES

You should definitely be able to zap your potential sex-mate's gennies to see if they have any STDs lurking around in there. It would also be especially helpful if the zapping of another's privates gave you the names, contact info, and sexual histories of every other person whose fluids have come into contact with those of your possible thud-partner.

APPLES

If only we could scan apples to tell us, in advance of taking a bite, if they're going to taste like a fucking potato. Because, really, is there anything in life more disappointing than picking up what looks like a crisp, wet, sweet, delicious apple only to find out, after the first bite, that it tastes like a motherfucking tuber?

I rest my case.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Well, Green My Beer and Call Me a Feckin' Queer, It's... DEAR APRON!

On this, the blessed Day After St. Patrick's Day, also known as Holy Hangover Day, I thought it fitting that, after a harrowing day spent avoiding running over falling-down-drunk college students in green t-shirts rolling into the middle of the street, that you might like to kick back in your sunglasses, relax with your Alka Seltzer, and enjoy reading about some more assholes behaving badly in another quite sober edition of...

DEAR APRON:

What do you do when your future in-laws tell other relatives that they intend to ruin your upcoming wedding? They are upset because they were not included in the wedding party. My future mother-in-law let it be known she's dressing up like a hooker!

I have family members who are police officers coming to the wedding. The only idea I can come up with to prevent it is to ask them to guard the door of the church, and if need be, escort these unruly people out before they can raise a ruckus.
As you might have gathered, my fiance's parents don't want me to marry their son. -- ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN

DEAR ON THE VERGE:

Hooker Mother-in-Law? Cops putting drunk-o's in headlocks? This wedding sounds FUCKING AWESOME! Where's my invitation? I'll take the pork option, please. Mrs. A's a vegetarian. But no red sauce on the pasta for her. (She's got a touch of the GERD.)

Anyway, I'm not even really sure about what your question was-- what do you do in a situation like this? Only one thing to do: RECORD IT. Every second of it. Trust me, it'll put those douchebags who choreographed that dance down the aisle shit I saw on the Today Show seventy-seven times to shame.

DEAR APRON:

At a cocktail party last night, the hostess handed me a glass of wine. When I started to take a sip, I noticed the glass was filthy. My immediate reaction was, "Alcohol kills germs." But the thought of putting the glass to my mouth was distasteful, so I told her the wine was "too sweet for my taste." She then handed me another glass of wine, and that one was as dirty as the first! How should I have handled it? -- NOT CRYSTAL CLEAR IN WISCONSIN

DEAR NOT CRYSTAL LIGHT:

I think it's wonderful that your first reaction to taking a sip from a "filthy" wine glass was "Alcohol kills germs." That is... it's just classic is what it is. To me, that's like watching "The Godfather, Part III" and saying, "Well, she may be a horseshit actress, but I'll be Talia Shire looked pretty decent naked in 1990."

Strange the way we comfort ourselves, isn't it?

As far as how to handle your delicate situation involving mung-encrusted stemware, I would just say, "Oh, I'm so sorry-- both of these glasses appear to be dirty and, normally I wouldn't be so gauche as to say something, but the last time someone offered me wine out of a dirty glass I wound up pregnant and woke up two days later to find my pubes were dyed with orange Kool-Aid."

DEAR APRON:

I work in a large department store attached to a shopping mall. Because many of the stores have no restrooms, customers come into our store to use the facilities. I'm happy they do because it gives us more business. However, I'm confused by some of the patrons.

I think it shows good manners to end a cell phone call when visiting a restroom. While I was in there today, a woman entered the stall next to me and continued talking on her phone the entire time she was in there! It's disgusting, but it happens all the time. I'm uncomfortable using the restroom while someone is on the phone, and I'd be very offended if I was on the other end of the line.

What's proper etiquette regarding cell phones in public restrooms? Is there anything I could say to someone who does this? -- TRYING TO DO MY BUSINESS

DEAR TRYING TO DO MY BUSINESS:

Wait-- now I'm confused. Whose business is it that's being done? Is it your business or my business? Oh, excuse me, I have to make a phone call...

Hey, lighten up, Toots. It's the modern age, you know? People are going to tapdance on that line of decency and, really, who are we to say what's inappropriate and what's not when, really, cellphone technology is a burgeoning industry? We're all just trying to figure everything out. Look, as long as the chick isn't doing the front-to-back with her cellphone and then wiping it on your face, I think we're okay.

Hey-- I just realized that I use the word "burgeoning" a lot on this blog. Sorry. That must be really fucking annoying.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

See You in Palau, Beeyotch

Living in the Pennsylvania burbs has its pluses and its minuses.

I'm reasonably certain that one could say that about living just about anywhere. Like, for instance, Sheboygan probably a pretty nice town, but it's got to be a tough place to live if you have difficulty spelling words like "Sheboygan."

I'll bet living in Sheboygan isn't all shits-and-gigs if you're black, too. I'm not sure they have too many black folks in Wisconsin.

Anyway, getting back to the suburban environs of Pennsylvania, which is where I be at (yo) I do very much like it here, most of the time. This is, after all, where I am from and it is where (in spite of the fact that my sister is moving across the street in thirteen days) I am staying. On the plus side, we've got pretty much everything that you could possibly want. If you want theatre-- we've got tons of it. If you want drugs-- we've got tons of that, too. Hot little Asian pre-med students wandering around center city in scrubs? We've got Drexel, Penn, Jefferson, and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine for the ones that, you know, just couldn't quite make the cut.

Sales tax in the burbs is 6%, which I find to be reasonable. We have a saturation of culture and education-- the lower Main Line alone has more elite private schools than you've got irregularly-shaped moles on your back, and we're currently leading the nation in the category of Most Lexus SUVs Per Driveway. In short, Pennsylvania's a great place to live, if you can stand all the jokes about Intercourse, PA, the fact that one of our most famous, living African-Americans is a cop-killer, and that we frequently labor under the misapprehension that our meteorologists are celebrities.

The problem, though, with living here is that, when you create online accounts or pay for something or order tickets to a show or basically anytime you're entering your mailing address online, when you get to "State" and you type that letter "P," for "Pennsylvania," the goddamn computer thinks you live in Palau.

Puh. Lauw.

Yes, we are talking about the small island nation in the Pacific Ocean, located approximately 500 miles east of the Philippines, 2,000 miles south of Japan, and nowhere near anything else of any consequence. According to http://www.happyzebra.com/, which, due to its name I inherently trust, it is 8,080.1 miles from Milwaukee (Wisconsin) to Koror (Palau). Exact distance from Sheboygan proper was, apparently, incalculable.

In any event, PayPal, my bank, various cultural ticketing agencies, online retailers, and AT&T all want to content themselves with thinking that my wife, my dogs and I all reside in Palau-- perhaps in a house that looks something like this:



I can assure you that this is not the case. Kinda nice, though, don't you think?

I thought I might take a little time today to learn something about the island nation I am typically thought to live in according to online merchants. It's an archipelago known as "The Black Islands," though, on images taken from helicopter, they look rather green. There are several other jokes I was going to make here, but I think we'll just leave it at that.

Having no military of its own, Palau relies on the American armed forces for its defense, much like the rest of the world that has a military of its own does, whether they like it or not. No doubt this dependence makes our brave servicemen pleased.


N'yah mean?

The religious background of Palau is quite interesting, with the predominance of its inhabitants answering to Jesus Christ, courtesy of a heavy Japanese and German missionary work back in the mid-20th century. According to Wikipedia, which is maybe almost as trustworthy as a happy zebra, "There is a small Jewish community in Palau. In 2009, it sent 3 members to the 18th Maccabiah Games." And, again, we'll just leave that alone, if we know what's good for us.

It's nice to know, though, that, should my wife and I choose to make the jump across the ocean to settle in the place where (Jewish?) pygmies settled nearly 4,000 years ago, that, if we looked hard enough, we'd find some place to go to synagogue.

Not that we do that in the suburbs of Pennsylvania, of course.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Say What You Want

I miss being a precocious child.

I'm pretty precocious now, but it just isn't the same when you have 5 o'clock shadow and nosehair.

I think that, when you're college-aged, you're reasonably intelligent to grasp the idea that there are going to be precious few times in your life when you are going to be able to behave like a total asshole and face relatively few repercussions-- unless you have sex condomless with the wrong chick or throw up on a campus police officer-- and, knowing that, I think that most college kids make sure that they live it up a little because they're aware that they're going to have to settle down and grow up.

You know, at least ten or so years after graduation.

When you're a young child, even a precocious one, you don't really have the intellectual foresight to appreciate how lucky you are that you're a small child and you can say pretty much whatever you want. And, yeah, you might be sent to your room or remonstrated sternly by some D in a sweatervest, but, basically, nothing's going to happen to you.

Like the time my sister was giving me a hard time on the front lawn one beautiful summer's day, and I had had enough of her.

"Oh, go dip your vagina in duck sauce!" I yelled at her, at age 8.

We must have just had Chinese food.

What is even funnier about this situation to me now, looking back on it, was not that I said that to my sister, loudly, in the open space of our front yard, but that my sister then had the courage and lack of embarrassment to report, verbatim, what I had said to our parents. Truthfully, if she had told me to go bathe my penis is hoisin sauce, I don't know that I would have been able to repeat that to my parents.

Oh, it was a good life.

In fourth grade, when Ms. Curly asked me what would I have done, had I been one of the bears who found Goldilocks sleeping in my bed, I said,

"I would have decked that straying son-of-a-tulip."

I think I was just repeating a phrase I had recently read in a "Bloom County" cartoon from the book "Night of the Mary Kay Commandos." Ms. Curly, obviously not a fan of Berkeley Breathed, was not entertained. While displeasure spread over her face like Parvovirus, she didn't throw me out of the room. She just harshly said my name as her eyes bugged out, making her look, I remember thinking, just like Bill the Cat.

Then there was the time in sixth grade where I made a film about the Loch Ness Monster, investigated by an fictional policeman from Scotland Yard named "Constable Clitoris." Thanks, Monty Python.

Amazingly, no phone call was placed to my parents' home. No letter from the principal. No disciplinary action. The Precocious Child wins again, remains unscathed, and lives to fight another day.

It was a good life, really.

Did I appreciate it then? The shield of immunity provided to the precocious child? No, I did not. Now, the only way I can say whatever I want is pretty much what you're looking at here. And, in one respect, that's okay, because there ought to be consequences for going around shooting your mouth off and being inappropriate in the company of others, in the public sphere-- on the front lawns of America. You can't expect people to work in an environment where people are telling their bosses to go dip their vaginas in duck sauce, for example. That just wouldn't work. But I do miss that freedom of the tongue.

Of course, this freedom returns, pretty much as it was, when you reach old age and you can just blame everything on dementia. At least there's something to look forward to.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Be Nice" App

I bit the bullet and did something I rarely do: I bought a cellphone, brand new, from the dumb orange store. You know, as opposed to used, and from E-bay. Not only is the phone new, it's a BlackBerry. Because I am twelve, I call it my "DingleBerry." Welcome back to seventh grade. Schdork. We've got just enough time for your noogie before math class.

My DingleBerry is more phone than I could ever need. More phone than is prudent or appropriate or reality-based. There is BlackBerry App World, and the AT&T AppCenter. I don't know what the difference is, and I am petrified to download an app from either. Even a free one. Besides, I'm sure the free ones blow. There is nothing free that is remotely interesting or engaging. Except for this blog, of course.

(By the way, if I could figure out a way to charge you for coming here that didn't involve ads or mouthfucking skeevy guys in bathrooms, I would do it.)

Without really realizing I was doing it, I managed to have my DingleBerry sync up with Facebook so that, if we're pally-wals on FB and you call me, your fucking profile picture and your school/business affiliation pops up. When I first realized that I had done this, you would have thought I had just annexed Poland. I thought I was the Second Coming.

(That's what she said.)

I have yet to record and set dozens of Gilbert & Sullivan tunes to serve as caller ringtones, but I will do that when I have a free two hours or so. Don't worry. When you ring me up, it might just be the last twenty-two seconds of the overture from "Ruddigore" that blares out from inside my hip pocket, thoroughly confusing all but the most ardent Anglophile in line at the post office.

This 4" x 2" device is quite extraordinary, and I am very much in Like with it, because it can do oh-so-many things-- far more things, I am sure than I can even fathom-- but, for all the miracles great and small that it effortlessly performs, it can't make me call my mother.

I wish it could, because I can't seem to do it these days without a little assistance from assistive technology. Typically, the guilt that would arise within me like bile after not speaking to her for several days in a row would be sufficient to encourage me to dial her number for a brief chat, but, lately, not even the guilt-vom does the trick.

Having been seriously depressed lately, you'd think that one's mother is exactly where a well-bred Jewish boy would flee. Ordinarily, you'd be right. I did try that a few times, but the calls ended up in disaster. I found myself saying deliberately cruel things, mercilessly ass-fucking the censor that has the misfortune to dwell inside my head as I tried to inflict hurt and pain on my mother. Which isn't fair. But it is most definitely what I was doing.

The thing is-- for a basically nice guy-- I'm very good at being mean. Call it the Mr. Apron Effect.

And maybe it's the knowledge of that potential for rancor within me that has kept me from picking up my shiny, chrome-effect smartphone and calling up the house where I grew up to talk to my mother. Maybe I've decided that, right now, the best way to maintain the loving relationship we have is to give her a little break from... well, me. It would be nice, I think, if I could work through my feelings of anger and hatred towards my sister without using my mother as an emotional punching bag. She doesn't deserve that. My left hook's a real bitch.

I thumbed the scrollie-wheel tonight to see if either BlackBerry App World or the AT&T AppCenter had a "Be Nice" App, or a "Remember, She's Your Mommy" App-- something to remind me to behave, to watch the PH balance on my notoriously acidic tongue. To play fair. To be angry at whom I'm angry at-- not at the woman who gave birth to her and, admittedly, enables her. But no. There is Salat, "an Islamic application that gives accurate prayer timings." For $1.99. And I thought, "Damn, it would suck to be Muslim and live in a country where you're suspected and persecuted and are even forced to pay two bucks to the AppNazis to find out when the fuck you're supposed to lie down on your little rug.

But I digress. Intentionally. Because it hurts when you're too down to call your mother, and she's not calling you.

Not that her picture would pop up if she did. She's not on FB, and she never will be. And I'd have to be in her presence for longer than 5 minutes to snap her picture with the phone to make it happen. And she always hated to have her picture taken, even when we were all young and beautiful.

Monday, March 14, 2011

You So Sexy...

Sex makes people bananas.

(See what I did there?)

Some people have sex with bananas.

I wonder how the bananas feel about that. I wonder how I'd feel about that if I were a banana. Would I like it, or would I be all like, "Hey-- this isn't how it's supposed to be for me. If I'm going somewhere wet and warm, why is my peel still on?"

Mrs. Apron and I were watching an episode of "Teen Mom 2" (hey-- nobody's perfect) and the shithead Adam is like, "Hey, everybody cheats. I only cheated on you, like, five times. That's not a lot."

Clearly, this is young man who has been made bananas by sex. Clearly, this is also a young man who ought to be forced to have sex with an armor-plated banana.

Everybody finds different things sexy. Of course, there are some things that I think are probably universal-- like, um, hot chick in a white tank-top with the nipples poking through the thin fabric. This is probably the one time that I appreciate GAP and Old Navy for making poorly-constructed, paper-thin clothing. I can't imagine that there isn't a man alive who doesn't appreciate the inherent virtues of the gauzy tank-top-wearing attractive female.

Nipples. They're kind of funny if you think about them too much. But I still find them sexy, and probably think about them too much, which just goes to show you that things can still be sexy even if they're a little bit funny and are consequently thought about too much.

Then there are things that I'm not sure are so universally observed to be sexy. Like boots, for example. There are guys who go absolutely bonkers over a girl who is clad in some extreme-looking boots. The higher up the boots go, the more intense the heel, the more zippers and buckles there are the better. To me, I don't know what's so sexy about a chick who, from the knees down resembles like a New Jersey State Trooper. Maybe it's that whole Jewish/Gestapo thing, but I'm thoroughly uninterested in that.

Dirty-talk is often thought to be sexy, a real turn on. "I'm gonna fuck you till the cum spurts out of my pores," or whatever scintillating sentiment your copulatory partner might dream up to say. I kind of just find dirty-talk funny, and the risk of laughing during such an event would probably be the termination of sexy-times. In pornographic entertainment, I find dirty-talk absolutely pathetic, and immediately cease viewing anything where a woman attempts to be sexy by engaging in the dirty-talk business. It just sounds awful. I mean, I'm not asking for the late Harold Pinter to come back from the dead and start writing porn dialogue, but seriously. A little quality wouldn't kill anybody.

It might even make it sexier. If, you know, you find that sexy to begin with.

I can remember back in high school, the heady days of exploring my burgeoning sexuality and the base of my shaft. I had a dear old friend with whom I spent a significant amount of time, and we were very close. But not, you know, like that. Of course, because I was always "too good a friend."

Vom.

Anyway, my friend one day developed bronchitis and I called her to see how she was doing. She answered the phone in a raspy, throaty voice and, after several minutes or so of chatting with her while she was probably lying on the floor of her bedroom in agony, I began to get aroused.

"Hey," I said nonchalantly, "would you mind saying, 'I want to ride you like a bucking bronco?'"

After she got done laughing, which sounded a lot like what George Burns sounded like when laughing, she said it.

It was everything I thought it would be. It was then that I realized that I found sick women sexy. Interpret at will.

Lots of guys think that chicks sucking on certain food objects is sexy. You know, like lollipops or ice-pops-- anything really with the word "pop" in it, I guess. Except popcorn. Girls don't look particularly sexy while eating popcorn-- unless they're doing it whilst wearing a revealing tank-top, that is. Or boots, if you have a thing about State Troopers or SS officials. I can remember one time my wife was sitting across the kitchen table from me working on a pickle. It was rather chilly and she happened to be wearing a thick wool cape that her uncle had purchased for her and she was rather enthusiastically attempting to make the pickle devoid of auxiliary pickle juice by inserting said green, bumpy object into her mouth, removing it, and repeating the process. Taking it out of her mouth, she inquired,

"Do you find this sexy?"

"Nope," I said, "it's not sexy, because you look like a super-hero blowing Kermit the Frog."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

You'll Thank Me (In Advance)

When this blog goes live (7:18am on Sunday), I'll already be eighteen minutes into the official start of my shift. Of course, because I'm insane, I'll have entered the psych hospital (good place for me) at 6:30am, to get a jump on the morning's paperwork.

When I work the weekends, I like to have my weekend blogs (which nobody reads, except for you. Loser.) attended to, scheduled, in the can, loaded up and ready to fire before the weekend rolls around so that, when I get home from work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I can spend time with my wife, like God intended us to do together when he, like, knew us before he formed us in the womb or whatever.

As I write this post, it's 8:24pm on Thursday night. Mrs. Apron's out tutoring, so it seemed like the perfect time to get through the weekend's posts. I don't think I have the energy to do Monday's tonight. I'll do that Sunday night. I mean... tonight. I mean-- you know what I mean. Shut up.

You know how this blog goes by now. It's unpredictable in its predictability. Sometimes there's a post about what a Dee-presso I am, the next day there might be something that makes the pee come out, just a little, then there could be something about a dead cop, or an earthquake, or a politician, or some sort of other current event or other. Obviously, it's tricky to be timely and write about current events that might be current on Sunday when it's Thursday, unless you're a soothsayer or something.

I'm not. I just have a big nose and funny looking elbows.

That said, I can make predictions about where this world of ours will be on Sunday, March 13.

I can say funny things about Libya and Justin Bieber and the future Mrs. United Kingdom. I can make all kinds of pop-culture references that make me sound wry and irreverant, well-informed yet casually aloof.

"Hey, you know that Governor Chris Christie? By Sunday, he will throw up a skinny version of himself who will hire back all those Camden cops and make some of New Jersey's roads not flat."

Ha.

Awesome.

But I'm not going to do that because, as you can already tell: that's annoying.

I could also write some whining bastard post about how awful it is to have to work every other weekend, but then I think of my coworker who's been doing the same thing for eight years. I've been doing it for six months. And that motherfucker recently took three weeks off in a row, and he's got over two more saved up. So, you know, life's not so bad. Don't cry for me, Uruguay.

Then I was thinking about making up some kind of fictional scenario where people are faced with the dilemma of whether they ought to eat their counterparts or die. You know-- people love to read about that shit. The Donner Party. Alive. Just think about how much more compelling 127 Hours would have been if the dude had not only cut off his own arm, but ate it, too. I was thinking, like, you know... I don't know, there's this orgy going on in a hotel in Mexico City, and there's, like, four Asian businessmen, two Mexican prostitutes and a burro all rompin' around and shit and all of a sudden, there's an earthquake and the room caves in on everybody, and the businessmen and the prostitutes have to survive any way they can.

Obviously, the first choice is: eat the donkey.

BUT: the lynchpin of this whole thing is that the donkey... um... it's magic. YEAH! A fucking magic fucking donkey! His big ass buck-teeth are made of gold and whenever you lick them, uh, you get three wishes. So, right. So, the businessmen are all like, "Damn, we can't eat this fucking thing-- it's magic. So, they wish, obviously, for more Mexican prostitutes. So, more Mexican prostitutes show up. And then they wish for a big bucket of frozen Halibut, you know, so they can do fucked up things to the Mexican prostitutes with the Halibut. And then they're all like, "Oh, no! This Halibut smells like hell, especially when combined with Mexican prostitute schnazz, so they wish for the Halibut to disappear, which it does, but then they're still in the busted up motel room with even more Mexican prostitutes than before, and the magic donkey, having exhausted all of its wishes and its earthly purposes, turns into a Halibut. Non-magical, and unfrozen.

And it smells.

And that, friends, is what happens when I blog on a Thursday, for a Sunday.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Showering with the Coworkers

My wife and I started our new jobs on the same day: September 13th. She went to work at a private charter school. I went to work at a mental hospital. We were both trying to find our way in this tremblingly wicked little world, trying to find jobs that would keep us afloat, keep us engaged, keep us coming back for more, keep us from going mad.

(Yes, people go to work at mental hospitals to keep from going mad. Well, people like me do.)

"I'm just excited to be working with people who have teeth," my wife said. Some of her coworkers at her former place of employ were from, well, different walks of life than she. And that's okay, as long as there's one or two people with whom you can have a decent conversation. As a Jewish vegetarian, I can't really imagine what it must have been like for her during work potlucks, surrounded by the endless parade of ham-salad and french onion green bean casserole.

Mung.

Coworkers are funny. Some people go out to bars with their coworkers. Some people become friends with their coworkers, or lovers, or even life-partners. My eldest sister works for my father. And she spends a fair amount of her workday crying in the bathroom.

'Nuff said.

Whether you hit the bar or the bowling alley with your coworkers, or whether you wouldn't never consider doing either, you spend a relatively significant proportion of time with them-- even if you never see them after your workday ends. Having coworkers that you can connect with is important, some might even say that it is vital. Yes, there are going to be some that you cannot stand, some that you'd rather gnaw your own eyelids off than spend ten minutes with in the same cube-code. There are also going to be some that you'd like to have been elementary school friends with, had you the luxury of shape-shifting and rearranging and DeLoreanizing. Most of them, though, are just kind of there, and wouldn't it be nice to make some sort of human connection with them? Nothing earth-shattering. Nothing involving bodily-fluids or even omlettes, but a moment that says, "Hey, you're human, I'm human, we're both humans who breathe the same air for forty hours every week together. Let's bond over something, for Christ's sake."

My wife works with a guy who drives a Jeep Compass. Because my wife has The Car Gene, she notices things like this and, also because she has The Car Gene, she knows that a Jeep Compass is usually exclusively reserved for women. Especially a Jeep Compass with a Michelle Obama bumper-sticker on it.

"It's probably his wife's car," I surmised, "he must be borrowing it while his Plymouth Gran Fury is in the shop."

But it wasn't so. Week after week, Dude McGee showed up for work at my wife's school in a Jeep Compass with a Michelle Obama bumper-sticker slapped on its ass, Mrs. Apron reported to me.

"Wow," I replied, with typical eloquence, "that's gay."

And, really, it was.

"Hey," I said, "you should send him a link to that "Car & Driver" Rental Car Olympics test-- he'd probably get a kick out of it."

I am referring to a highly enjoyable set of tests the C&D staff put four rental vehicles (Ford Mustang, Lincoln Town Car, Jeep Compass, and some Cadillac piece of shit) through, including Which Car Goes Fastest in Reverse? (Town Car -- 63mph!) and which car does the handbrake parking test best?

It wasn't the Compass. In fact, I don't think the Compass won any of the tests. That's why I knew she needed to send the link to the web version of the article to her coworker. Any man who drives a Jeep Compass (with a Michelle Obama bumper-sticker on it, no less) must have a sense-of-humor about it.

Turns out, he did. Sort of.

"That was really great," he told Mrs. Apron at work yesterday, "but my car did so poorly!"

Um, yeah. You might as well drive the Malibu Barbie Corvette.

"Thing is-- people don't like it because it's a 4-cylinder and has no power. But I drive it like a little old lady and I actually get pretty decent gas mileage."

I hope that by driving it "like a little old lady" doesn't infer that he drives it whilst wearing diabetic compression stockings and orthopedic shoes.

"Thanks for sending me that link," he said, "it was great."

Mrs. Apron was very happy to now have a connection, a fun, lighthearted, gentle ribbing connection with a coworker.

"That's wonderful, buddy," I said, quick to encourage socialization for either of us as a sign that we're not complete retards, "I had a connection like that at work today, too!"

"Cool, buddy!" my wife said. "Tell me about it."

"Well, a couple of the nurses and social workers were in the chart-room talking about peeing in the shower,"

"Of course they were," my wife intoned.

"And then, of course the conversation turned to masturbating in the shower..."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Technology Makes My Teeth Hurt

So, I'm a little tooth-crazy these days.

On Thursday, I blogged about my vet's fluoride-guilted "suggestion" that I brush my dogs' teeth with, remember with me now, chicken-flavored toothpaste. Today, I'm going to blog about my teeth.

Sort of.

Yesterday, I got ambushed. By someone who is after my teeth. It's not some rabid incarnation of the Tooth Fairy. Oh, no. Far more sinister than that, and, truth be told, he's not really after my teeth-- he's after my money.

Of course, it's the dentist.

And how did he ambush me, you might be asking yourself?

His office left me a voicemail.

Okay, that's cool. Most normal medical/dental practices to that when trying to reel in unsuspecting prey for their follow-up appointments.

There was more binging and bonging from my Dingleberry not moments later. A text message.

From my... dentist?

"You are due for your routine checkup," it said, and then, confusingly, it said, "DO NOT REPLY."

Wait-- I thought you wanted my money.

Then, the Dingleberry device bonged again. An email.

"What the dick?" I said out loud.

"The doctor (oh, really?) has reviewed your chart and it's time for you to come in for your professional dental cleaning and exam. Please click on the "Schedule an Appointment" button above to request an appointment, or call."

But don't text, obvs.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I'm not sure I want my dentist's office communicating with me, using every sort of media available. If the sonofabitch Friend Requests me, I think I'm going to lose it. I mean, really? Get away. Scoot.

While I, like a good Jewish boy, have always been essentially in love with my physicians, I have never had a positive relationship with dentists. The first dentist I ever knew was our next-door neighbor growing up. Dr. Porter. He looked just like it sounds like he'd look.

Approximately 5'1", Dr. Porter had hairy arms and ears, chunky black glasses that would look awesome on some skinny hipster d-bag and he plodded along the sidewalk of our lives wearing an ancient pair of Florsheims that looked as if they had been fired upon several times with a .38 revolver.

Speed holes? If that's what they were, they didn't work. The man moved at the speed of butter.

One Halloween, many moons ago, my sister and I went Trick-or-Treating. We arrived at Dr. Porter's house excited and giddy-- it was the first house we'd hit that night, it being right next to ours and all. He opened the door looking like Jabba the Hut in a plaid work shirt. He looked at us and we looked at us and he screamed,

"SCRAM! GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!"

And that is what we did.

Dr. Porter was a legend in our neighborhood. Though he died in 1987 (his was the first funeral I ever attended-- in a plaid shirt, in his honor) my family still tells stories about him.

"Remember when Dr. Porter plowed his car straight into a snow-bank?"

"What about the time he was on the ladder trying to get that raccoon out of the tree and he fell off the ladder into the bushes?"

"Remember how he used to barge into the house to go through our Sunday paper?"

Yeah, he used to do that. Too cheap to purchase his own subscription to "The Philadelphia Inquirer," Dr. Porter would let himself into our house, using a key my parents had given to him, ostensibly for emergencies. Without a word, as if in some sit-com, he would come into the dining room, while my sisters and I were making our way through another bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and he would ransack our Sunday paper, rip out some coupons for Geritol or whatever, and leave. Like a tornado wearing nasty shoes.

Not one for aesthetics, his dentist's office looked like a garage. My mother would never permit her children (or herself) to be, um, serviced there, but my father, always able to be courted by a bargain basement offer, had five teeth extracted by Dr. Porter.

"He actually put his fuckin' knee up against my chest," my father reported. Anybody else would have sued. My father thought it was funny. After all, that's probably how all the dentists roll in Israel.

It's funny to think about how much things have changed since Dr. Porter heart attacked his way out of this world 24 years ago. The thought of him text-messaging a patient to remind them about an appointment makes me want to laugh, just like picturing him falling off that ladder in his backyard. I laughed at that, back when I was six, because, amazingly-- the mean old sonofabitch was just fine.