Saturday, August 13, 2011

Show Me Ya Teeth. Or Don't... Seriously, Don't.

Every now and then, I go through a chrysalis stage in attempt to bring my world back to equilibrium. Be it my career, the house, finances, the aging Civic Hybrid, et al; I usually discover some component that is in an unacceptable state of disrepair, and I devote my obsessive attention to restoring it to a quality in which I can ignore it again for 6-18 months. Granted, all of these problems generally surface due to said neglect, and I'm self-aware enough to know this isn't the best life management style by any stretch. But continual discipline toward the maintenance of things is a quality that has always been elusive to me. I think it's because I hate the concept of "baby steps." The mere suggestion that anything can be tackled with slow, deliberate efforts over time annoys the fuck out of me. I am an impatient bastard who generally wants immediate gratification. And let's be honest, babies don't take good steps. They're wobbly, misdirected, require constant oversight, and can't be left alone or expected to do anything by themselves. So the dependency subtext of the baby steps analogy crawls all over me. (I'm not above baby puns, however.) Also, if we are to consider clichés for retirement, I nominate, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." WHO EATS ELEPHANT?? Hyenas. Not people. Move on, unhelpful adage.

2011 has been the year of the dentist. If you were to pinpoint one area of my life that I could never get ahead in, it would be the chompers. 20+ years of fighting with adult teeth has turned me into an embittered, bratty child with serious health issues that were seemingly impossible to redress. My teen years were fraught with dental injury after dental injury, and there began a seething, slow-burning envy for the tooth-regenerating faculties of sharks. FUN FACT: Some sharks can shed up to 35,000 teeth in their lifetime. Humans get 48-52. Thank you evolution, God, or Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Most of us have some level of vanity lurking beneath the surface. If you don't live in Hollywood, then you most likely suppress or conceal it, especially if you live in the bible belt. More and more, I am realizing just how dark and twisted this can make a person psychologically. Taken to extremes, a person can actually pat themselves on the back for denying themselves the most basic of human needs, because they believe the physical body has little intrinsic value, whose glory vastly fades, the material world pales in comparison to the spiritual, blah blah blah. These people are just modern-day Gnostics, and I find them to be the most insufferable motherfuckers of all. What eludes them is the irony that their own divinely laudable self-neglect leads to further problems for their god to clean up. But these are the extreme, false ideals around which I grew up, so in a lot of ways, I'm not surprised by the level of artificial guilt I carried around for wanting to fix something about myself. If everyone realized that feeling good about your self-image actually makes you a more likable person, then this would be a non-issue. I'm not campaigning for a spot on the cover of US Weekly, people, I just want to be able to eat a steak without having to throw it in a blender. Not too much to ask.

When the emergencies could no longer be ignored, the latest pet project became fixing it. All of it. No stone unturned, even though I had no idea what I had signed up for. It was time to blow up the insurance with claims for major, restorative care and a litany of procedure codes to make their unsympathetic heads spin. After charting the course with an excellent DDS, the conversations with those in the know were remarkably supportive and encouraging. It's funny; it didn't matter who I talked to, there seems to be an oft-repeated consoling remark for someone trying to fix their grill: "It's genetics." As in, "Don't beat yourself up, your Mendelian inheritance is just fucked." Which is no sleight to mom and dad; it's just a regressive scapegoat that people tend to wield, generally with disregard for their own volition and little to no specific, scientific support. But gesture noted, it was still little comfort when weathering the cascading waves of pain and the shame spiral. It took 5 months and 6-8 half-day appointments, but I believe I'm finally in the clear. Instead of a boring play-by-play, I thought I'd share the high and low points in a sort of highlight/blooper reel format. No video though. I absolutely banned all recording devices, though I'm not entirely confident that someone didn't nanny-cam me.

Halcion/Triazolam - Given my apprehensions with the work to be done, the dentist's office wrote me this script for happiness in a bottle. (Yes, even better than FFC Claret, *gasp*) It's pretty much a date-rape drug, given my consequent amnesia. Combined with the nitrous, I went on several fantastic voyages in that dentistry chair. It has time-travelling properties, and my love for each of those 14 pills brings me dangerously close to questioning my opinions on recreational drug use. (Sidebar... Potential Vocational Plan B as a conservative radio blowhard! Your hypocrisy never stops being funny, Rush.) Seriously, if it hadn't received FDA approval back in '82, Pfizer could make a killing off this other, equally magical, little blue pill.

"As the world turds..." - It's conventional wisdom now to not drunkenly text, right? The same could be said of Gchat. Feast your eyes on this epic malapropism:

[Fortunator was asking me how I was doing following my first appointment.]

MB: I took these oral sedatives before the appt, so I was drunk" before mom picked me up.

F: yesssssss

MB: Fell asleep several times while in the chair

F: isn't that the point of a sedative?

MB: I mean, I guess. Except that out makes it more difficult when the dentist is asking you questions.

F: he should know better

MB: Ahh well, it worked out. As it turds out I was feeling asleep at key moments. Like when there's a device in my mouth that I need to clamp down on. The release. All very important.

F: are you still sedated? I'm dying laughing over here

MB: turds, really?

F: "as it turds out" I'm guffawing over here

MB: Yes. Very. FML

The moral of the story, kids... when you get gassed, you never know when a conversation will take a turd for the worse.

Ow Ow Wow Ow Oh Stop Ugh Ugh Oh Stop Ow Ugh Ugh I Can't Breathe Stop Ugh - Unknown fact before now: temporary teeth hurt like a bitch. Without getting too specific, if you have to have your teeth "shaped" in any way for a permanent fixture, the interim device/materials will make your life a living hell. In my case, the DDS used a hardened, resin-like, plastic substance which had zero heat or cold inhibiting properties. Be it cereal milk, tap water, or hot pocket, anything I ate or drank was always either too hot or too cold. I didn't know it at the time, but I also had an infection building around a nerve. And the murderous pain built to levels higher than what I experienced before all the work began. For someone who has a pretty high tolerance, I was a weepy, miserable mess for weeks, despite the regular rotation of Lortab 7.5's, liquid gel Aleve and Advil, fast-dissolving Excedrin, and Tylenol PM's. Nothing took the edge off, and I was beginning to welcome the sweet oblivion of a bullet to the head and bid this cruel world adieu. Not even the observation that my state was eerily akin to The Grape Lady was enough to inject humor into this sitch.

This ultimately led to the lowest point in the journey: a root canal orchestrated by Satan himself.

The Moment I Almost Killed Somebody - [This last section a little too detailed for my taste and definitely not for the faint of heart. You've been warned.]

If your dentist's office wants to refer you to a "local endodontist," tell them to go to hell. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 (as if anything I went through would be this cheap), go straight to hell you heartless motherfucker. If you live in a metro, then you generally have sufficient options when shopping for a good endodontist. You have the convenience of perusing for patient reviews. But when you're in emergency like I was with no time to take off for a Dallas or OKC visit, you'll be stuck with Dr. Mengele. My two tortuous sessions with the Angel of Death were a reminder that some professions just do not suit certain people. In dentistry, you either have the touch or you do not. In sharp contrast to my DDS, who demonstrated competency and compassion with a needle stick (I never even felt it once.), Orin Scrivello attacked my gums like he was marinating a rump roast with a flavor injector. And without a topical anesthetic or nitrous, strike one. He then could not remove the crown on his own to begin the root canal. So I had to "help" him. His instructions to me:

"Ok, I need you to clamp down on this sticky, gummy bear thing. I'll then cool it down so that it will bind that top crown to your bottom wisdom tooth. Then when I count to three, I want you to yank your mouth open as hard as you can, and hopefully it will rip that crown right off."

SERIOUSLY?!? Umm, first of all, why am I paying you when I'll be doing all the work? Sure enough, he counted (rather quickly) to three, and when I hesitated, he actually tried to force my mouth open. With a sickening squelch, the crown popped off and the torture continued. Strike two. Sadistic dentist proceeded to try and isolate the affected tooth by placing a clamp on it. Although I'm sure it's considered an advancement in endodontic practice, the large sheet of mouth-raping dental dam was apparently the only means to accomplish this. And in the process of transforming me into a de-masked Predator, the tension sent the tooth clamp flying across the room. Cling, ping, clang. Strike three, and we're still just getting started. When he couldn't clamp the tooth, he fired up another, unknown device, and there soon followed the distinctive, olfactory recognition of a very specific smell. Burning flesh.

MB: Umm, you planning on throwing some steaks on the grill?

Scrivello: I'm cauterizing your gums. I've not been able to reach the crown line because of the gum tissue in the way.

Greaaaaaaat. Forget ribs, Billy Sims. BBQ gums are on the menu. I would have vomited right then and there if I thought he was capable of clearing my airway. It's disgusting to admit it, but I smelled delicious. For coercing me into considering hypothetical cannibalism, that's strike four. And the last, ignominious turn in this trip through Tartarus came when Jigsaw had to seat the crown. With a few dabs of cement, Endo bore down on the roof of my mouth with his full body weight. Pressure like I have never felt before in my life. Further distressing, he stepped up and onto the chair to leverage more weight, and his hand in my mouth shook violently, as if he were gathering the strength to do an iron cross or a handstand on my molar. Whatever his intention, the dismount was long overdue. And I had the sinking suspicion that I'd be charged for more services than I rendered. Or appeared to render anyway. I left that office in haste, like a dishonored geisha.

Despite the initial rant, my resolution at the close of this entire ordeal is that worthwhile goals can rarely be decoupled from the processes it takes to get there, whether it be weight loss, credit repair, or any other arena of personal betterment. The most successful people that I know haven't taken shortcuts, and everyone has seasons when they're in the proverbial shit. If you don't have a sufficient level of self-love, you will have an abysmal disposition and you can (intentionally or not) unfairly expect those around you to bear the weight of your own validation. You can take care of yourself without becoming a self-adulating, Jersey Shore asshat or betrothing yourselves to the bankruptcy of opulent, social elitists who bleach their asses. We all must endure the vicissitudes of aging. And the course we chart will always be richer and more worthwhile if it weathers hardship and avoids easy street.

Dear reader, if you'll forgive that rather pedantic excursus in what I typically try to keep light-hearted, I assure you the tomfoolery will return. Speaking of which, can we all agree that bleaching your balloon knot is a personal marquee to the world that you are slightly more vacuous than a RealDoll? (Google it. I don't dare hyperlink.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yes, I Kiss My Mother With This Mouth

***Insert obligatory apology for fair-weather, semi-annual blogging*** Enough housekeeping, let's get to it kids... So many things going through my brain these days. It seems unfair to just let it all out there, but I've been accused of bloggerrhea before. Why buck the trend?

I am surrounded by people who have or who are aging gracefully. With each passing year, they grow measurably in compassion, charity, and boilerplate likability. Fuck, they're usually gorgeous as well. In my 31st year on this rock (always count the zero year, people), I am quickly realizing that this will not be my fate. Each waking moment appears to chip away at the collected, upstanding visage of my youth. And while I still don't consider myself "bitter" or full of Twilight-rivaling angst, 10 years ago I never would have thought that my go-to phrase would be the ever-descriptive "Fuck this fucking shit." It's Exhibit A in a series that proves I'm becoming a horrible person. What follows are a few stand-out examples that ipso facto confirm my likely retirement as a bridge troll.

1. Swear words are my friend. I seriously love to let fly a flurry of stank-mouthed, rude, crude, ribaldry. There is a level of camaraderie in social settings one can find with the well-worded, perfectly timed obscenity. Then there's the purely animalistic, knee-jerk furor that can procure words you didn't know existed. I'd like to think that I enjoy a balanced mix of the two, if one can justify such things. But the hell-baiting realization came while texting my recently pregnant sister that her little girl needed to hurry up and get here because her uncle was going to teach her cussin' lessons. Of course... I was kidding. But the fact that I thought that was funny slightly disturbed even me. Similarly, because I find the faux children's book, Go the F**k to Sleep so indisputably funny is proof that I could never be a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

2. I frequently have dreams where I verbally eviscerate a person from my past for some nebulous, un-redressed wrong. Just last night I had the most vivid depiction of a 30-minute call out session over events that transpired in the college years. I believe the phrase "bitch ass" was swung with virulent force (see point no. 1 above). Physical force may have also transpired in said slumber slayfest, as evidenced by my morning swampass and the lining of my cheeks that gnawing rendered into a loose meat sandwich. Maybe it's time for a night guard. It's funny because I don't see myself carrying these grudges in my day to day. These are people I haven't thought of in years. What alarms me is that such well-formed emotions can erupt while unconscious; I'm almost afraid to see these people again for fear of this hostile monster I'm keeping in the dungeon. Heaven help the psych who finally gets me on the couch.

3. I'm starting to consider punching people in the face as a viable problem solver. This coming from someone who has never been in a physical altercation But consider the strength of this argument. Tired of the passive-aggressive acquaintance? Punch in the face. Unenthusiastic waiter making you suffer through dinner because he clearly hates his job? Punch in the face. Obnoxious instructor trying to soften the blow of unmerciful student reviews with humor clichés ("Remember, God-like is hyphenated...")? Punch in the face. Mumbling WalMart first-jobber scanning each item from your cart with the alacrity of a whale beaching himself on the shores of disappointment? Punch in the face. Stuck at an impasse with a racist, homophobic Tea Bagging nutjob who thinks people want to marry goats? Definite punch in the face. Maybe even a punch in the b-hole for good measure. Coming from a true pacifist and diplomat, even I acknowledge the definitive nature of a good ole' bitch slap, a move which clearly and decisively states, "STFU. I have no vested interest in anything else you have to say."

4. I downloaded Miley Cyrus' "Party In The USA." There's not much I can say to bounce back from that.

5. I'm not agoraphobic, but there are certain public places that I'm starting to avoid because of the mob dynamic. Nothing makes me want to punch babies more than a large, loud, and obnoxious crowd. This is generally why I have to wait 2-3 weeks after a release drops to go to a movie I really want to see in theaters. When your herd of screaming pachyderms, horrendous ringtone, philistine plot commentary, and grazing from a popcorn trough are drowning out the THX 10.2 Channel Surround, I want to go on a murderous rampage. $10-15/ticket doesn't entitle me to the god treatment, but I shouldn't have to state the obvious like, "Who brings a fucking baby to Scream 4?" I feel the exact same way about Black Friday, which should be renamed Homicide Amnesty Friday. Does your MIL's "helpful" hints about which dishes should only be hand-washed lead you to believe she's not long for this world? Invite her to the 4 AM rat race for Jack-Me-Off Elmo's. Statistically, she's more likely to be trampled by the mindless wildebeest hoard than you are to win the MegaMillions. And we can all dream, can't we?

6. If you happen to drive past me on the road while my windows are down, no, that is not Lewis Black or Three 6 Mafia that you heard on blast. More than anyone I've riden with, I am the angriest, most vocal driver that I know. This is admittedly an imprecise superlative, since most people find the strength to dial it back when transporting others. So I don't know that I'm the loudest or most volatile; I just know that if dash-cam'd, I'd be more than moderately embarrassed by my Jekyll/Hyde outbursts. And this is where my iPod is a savior in such humanity-challenging moments. Certain songs have the transforming capacity to ground me and bring me back to sane commuter mode. It's auditory Paxil. For your consideration...

GREEN MEANS GO, MOTHERFUCKER!!!!! GO, GO, MOVE, YOU OBLIVIOUS PIECE OF SHI... "She drives me crazy... WOO, OOOoooo... Like no one else... WOO, OOOoooo... She drives me crazy, and I can't he-elp myse-eh-elf..." [blood pressure lowers, birds chirping, driver whistling, casualties averted]

I hope the irony of that example isn't lost on you, dear reader. It certainly wasn't lost on me, as I maniacally laughed it off, planting yet another flag on the emotional spectrum of my driving psychosis. In that moment of clarity, I decided to give my Sybil Dorsett moment the paparazzi treatment. Here's the mobile photo booth exposé and proof positive of my break with reality.

I think we all have moments that draw us to the edge and make us peer perilously into a future likely comprised of Nancy Grace interviews. So what keeps the crazy at bay? What keeps us from twisting off each workday and pulling a "Take-this-job-and-shove-it" like Steven Slater? More and more, I realize that stress and high blood pressure ain't nothin' to mock or ignore. We joke about taking mental health days, which is a PC way of saying, "If I have to watchdog my inbox for another 8 hours and immediately answer all of his impulsive requests, I'm going to rob a pet store and punt all the puppies through the uprights at Cowboys Stadium so these sadistic, soul-sucking bastards can watch it in high-def on the Jerry-tron."

That last sentence made me cringe a bit, since I am such a fan of the canines. So there actually may be hope for this aging sack of shit after all. Until I fully search out this softer side, steer clear of me on the road, *motherfuckers.

*A term of endearment in some cultures.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Year of Roddick

Somewhere around mid-November every year, I have the same perennial reflection: Holy freakin Lord, where did the time go? Is it really almost 20XX? Have I even done anything of note this year? What the hell am I doing with my life? Oh god, someone please make the Medicare PSAs STOP. As a side note, have you actually heard the vacuum pump ads? It’s sad, but true. Turns out that the Shop-Vacs for your sack really are a Medicare-covered expense for the treatment of ED. And why is it that we have such a monumental healthcare funding crisis in this country? Hmmm… should we federally subsidize clinical trials that could lead to advances in cancer, ALS, or HIV/AIDS treatment? Or pumps to give perky peckers to the aging, non-procreating populace? Pumps it is. Grandpa needs boners.

As the year draws to a close, I’m reminded of the multiple, missed blog opportunities that have occurred over the past 12 months. So I thought it would be fitting to cram them all in for a few final posts this year, and thus send 2010 off with its tail tucked between its legs. Fittingly, I thought for the first installment I'd venture into the much maligned world of dog-blogging. I would normally rather swim in a sea of excrement than read about someone whose life awkwardly and singularly revolves around animals, but I've read a few shining stars lately that made me reconsider, so here goes...

Russell & Rufus… meet Roddick

What does every new house need? A third dog. (note the sarcasm) March 2010: enter Roddick, the destroyer of all things domestic. You wouldn’t think that anything this suave and adorable could grow up to be so tirelessly mischievous.

But he did. From tearing up carpet, couches, and houseplants, he graduated to chewing plank-like portions off of a bed frame. And he was already past his teething stage at that point. The insane thing is that you could never stay angry at this dog. He is a con artist in every sense of the word. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as Canine Stockholm Syndrome, but he's taken us hostage at home, and we’ve fallen in love with him for it. For all the artistic notoriety, Heath Ledger’s Joker doesn’t hold a flame to the psychological warfare that Roddick can wield. When you find yourself asking, Why do I feel horrible for scolding this dog for shitting repeatedly in the house?, you’ve already lost. He’s got to be the schnauzer version of Keyser Söze or Vito Corleone. My only hope at this point is to avoid crossing a line and wake up one morning next to a severed horse’s head. Also, he's a BEAST. We lucked out that the breeder and his family are amazing people from Houston, TX who love animals. I knew that his parents were both 10 lbs., so naturally we expected him to be 10-12 lbs. At 11 months now, he's 16.2 lbs. (I later asked the breeder how much the milkman weighed.) And not an ounce of it is fat, he's just a stocky little stud.

His antics are a daily occurrence, it seems, and several friends have been privy to them. A couple months ago, Fortunator came home to L-town and decided to stay for the weekend. All of us were unwinding on the couch the morning after a night of drunken karaoke, and in strolls Roddick with a curious object in his mouth.

B: He’s got your bra.

You see, Roddick keeps it classy. I had learned this lesson many times over in prior months, when he began dragging my undergarments from the bathroom to god-knows-where while I was showering. This was the first time though that a guest was the target. Embarrassing as it was to realize that he had clawed his way into the guest room and pilfered through Fortunator’s bag like a nosy maid, his complete nonchalance over the matter was mortifying further. He just sat there with a dopy expression, brazier in mouth, looking at Fortunator as if he was saying, This is yours. Did you lose it? I found it. I brought it to you. Did you need it? Cause I have it now. Do you want it? Here it is. Yes, I was the mother in Wal-Mart with the child who is completely deficient in tact and volume control, blessing others with his observations, LOOK MOM!!!!... SHE HAS SUPER-ABSORBENCY TAMPONS IN HER CART TOO!!!! (I wasn't sure about the feminine hygiene lingo, but that last sentence sounded right. No need to correct me, ladies... I just couldn't bring myself to Google a product for accuracy. I just can't. I am perfectly happy being oblivious.)

Even though I'm not a father, one of the facets of parenthood that I've always heard about or assumed was the joys of watching your child's personality emerge. And before you gag on that Lifetime-worthy sentiment, just know that there seemed like no other appropriate analogy for raising a dog from an early age. Yes, I just compared raising puppies to raising children. Before you grab your torches and pitchforks, I have ROUTINELY observed that this is a habit for young couples wanting to segue into parenthood. Say what you want about the method; maybe there is a huge leap between teaching your dog to shit outside and teaching your child to shit in a toilet (and conversely, teaching your dog to not shit inside and your child to not shit outside). But we have all beheld the teenage, cautionary tales in the checkout aisles of supermarkets. Their despondent countenances scream regret over spitting in the face of human fecundity at such a young age, while their brood socially terrorizes other consumers in sonorous and feral fashion. My point being that nature has given us training wheels for such a huge responsibility, and it's called taking care of domestic animals. Neglect such an opportunity, and you could ironically end up chasing around Mowgli the Wolf-Boy at every social outing.

But back to my original point... This dog has personality in spades. What follows are just a handful of the random eccentricities and quirks that have developed over the last 11 months.

1. Roddick loves Burt's Bees even more than I love Burt's Bees, which I didn't think possible. I do not appreciate the days when he snakes my stash off the nightstand. I have a hard enough time not losing my chapstick or preventing it from going through the wash to have to worry about his thieving ways. Also, $3-4 dollars a pop and the consequent diarrhea seem like a steep price for a "snack." Similarly, he has managed to unzip the work bag to retrieve packs of Orbit gum inside. SEVERAL. TIMES. I guess the upside is that he has abnormally fresh breath.

2. This dog loves being outside like it's a non-renewable resource. Back when he was having multiple accidents in the house, I remembered what a fellow pet-lover told me about attaching bells to the back door. You say your vocal command, grab his paw to touch the bells, open the door to let him outside, and voilà... before you know it, he's letting you know when he needs to go. What I didn't count on was just how effective this would be. To this day, Roddick still rings the bells EVERY 10 GODDAMN MINUTES, not because he has to relieve himself, but because he has thought of yet something else that he wants to do outside. So in my household, the trainer has become the trained. Like an obedient pet, I open the door every time those damn bells ring. It's some sort of twisted, reverse-Pavlovian charade.

3. He crows. Like a rooster. Not really sure why or how, but it's like a sustained bark. And it's usually when he's feeling particularly sassy and mouthy. Thankfully, I don't have to hear it at 5:00 AM.

4. He had a coprophagia phase. I don't know if he was eating only his own or if he was sampling the countless land mines in the backyard. Despite the vet's reassurance that this is relatively common behavior, I just wanted it to stop. Sent home with the aptly titled medication, Copro-Ban, we began spiking his food with it. The logic is a bit fuzzy, but apparently there is something in the roast-beef flavored chews that makes his turds taste bad. And thank god it worked. Otherwise, I would be making the viral video 2 Schnauzers 1 Cup.

5. He appears to be jealous or contemptuous of all things Information Technology. This gels perfectly with my profession, might I add. It seems like every time I sit down with the Mac, he wants to be in my lap. If I don't show him enough attention, paws will be on the screen and keys and he will stretch himself over the MBP in needy toddler manner. The other day, I had my laptop out and my phone blipped when it got a text. As I reached for the EVO, he consummately swatted it out of my hand. Maybe I'm inadvertently giving him daddy issues by not balancing the work/home dichotomy gracefully.

6. Roddick is a grasshopper and cricket afficionado. The house sits north of a huge field, so it's no surprise that the insect kingdom is literally at our doorstep. But this summer, a veritable plague of locust-kin swarmed the yard and porch like the banks of the Nile, so this dovetailed nicely with Roddick's fetish for the great outdoors. What started as a mildly annoying increase in bell ringings quickly transformed me into a powerless border patrol agent, as he began to smuggle his playthings inside like immigrants in a shipping container. Completely unaware, I would walk in on him in the bedroom as he was playfully pinning down his very much alive hostages like Lennie Small's rabbits. It was less Hannibal Lecter and more Steinbeck tragedy.

Even as I'm typing this, Roddick has danced across an end table, sending a DVD case, an iPod, and an OU decoration in flight, while somehow landing on his feet like a cat. Enjoy this highlight reel, as I go clean up another mess...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Art Of Destroying a Craigslist Heckler

Faith in humanity? Gone. Basis? Craigslist. Before I divulge the details of my first Craigslist outing, let me first say that I approached it with utter, unmitigated contempt. Since childhood, I have despised garage sales with a revulsion I normally reserve for canned meat. Maybe it's some anti-frugality character flaw of mine, but by default I want to buy someone else's old, used stuff like I want to bathe in someone else's old bathwater. By contrast, my mother has a secret love affair with estate sales, which are somewhere between the 7th and 8th circles of garage sale hell. Her kitchen is regularly supplemented by the former belongings of the dearly departed. When I recently heard that she had acquired a 70s-era pineapple corer, I accused her of being a culinary tomb raider. In my case, the apple fell far from the tree. No appeal. Whatsoever.

My disdain notwithstanding, I'm not above seeking new means to get rid of all my old crap. And as much as I hated entertaining the idea, Craigslist seemed like the perfect way to expedite the much procrastinated task of cleaning out the garage. Slated for eviction were my ridiculously heavy entertainment center, a queen-sized bed frame, and a 24" tube TV. The ease of posting these three prompted me to consider getting rid of some of my lesser watched DVD sets, i.e. The Office and Heroes, Season 1. Within the next 24 hours, I distilled two previously unknown maxims about Craigslist:

1. If you are trying to get rid of things that are remotely likeable, it's best to post one item every 24 hours. Why? You never know what people will go apeshit for. The bed frame I posted was getting hits 5 minutes after it appeared on the site. And the emails would. not. stop. (Thank god I didn't put my phone number in the ad.) Until a business transaction actually takes place, the merchandise leaves your premises, and you delete the post, the potential exists for people to bug the fuck out of you.

2. By contrast, less popular items will garner complete radio silence. Or worse, they'll tell you how much they don't like it or try to bargain with you after insulting your asking price. I should have been more skeptical when Heroes, Season 1 got a hit; my ad was simple and unassuming enough: "Watched once, only selling to upgrade to Blu-Ray. Amazon retails at $40.99." But you could have heard my jaw hit the floor when this arrived in my inbox.

From Fortune Favors the Bald

To be honest, getting heckled took me aback. Could a complete stranger be any ruder? But despite the surprise, I was more than prepared to take this schmuck down a few notches. And it is here, before we go any further, that I must confess that I am secretly in love with writing the occassional nastogram. What is a nastogram, you say? A missive penned with the most scathing verbal vitriol that you can imagine. What warrants the receipt of a nastogram? Only the most flagrant of offenses by family, friend, or foe. There have only been a handful of recipients; I don't want to paint the picture of me writing letters to the editor each week or spewing venomous nonsense toward any moving target like several radio pundits tend to do.

A bigger person would have taken the high road and ignored the taunt. But I wasn't about to be cyber-bullied (and clearly this kid was just trying to elicit a response); I'd like to think that I barked back for all of you who have previously been victim to a random act of stank. So here is the entire email string, in all its unedited, colloquial glory. It's not pretty, and I make no apologies (except, sorry Mom).

Thehardcorethug: bullshit you can get it for 15 new on amazon you ass clown

Marklebald: Maybe if you buy used from amazon. Or from some Indonesian merchant. Or from an Iraqi DVD black market. But from one of Amazon's domestic warehouses? $40-fuckin-dollars and 99 cents. Sorry to deflate your presumptuous and ill-researched call-out session, but you should probably save your emails for craigslist posts you're actually interested in buying. Do the world a favor, "hard core thug" (who somehow still has an AOL address), and "keep it real" so the rest of us don't have to endure your douchebaggery. This has clearly been a productive Sunday evening for you.

Thehardcorethug: hey dont be using big words they hurt my ummm my whatever is in the head brain that's it they hurt my brain oh yea i fucked your mom bye

Marklebald: Considering the anonymity [nobody knows you] of Craigslist, odds are you wouldn't know if my mother was dead or alive. But for someone as urbane [classy like horseshit] as you, that's probably not a deal-breaker either way.

I'm sorry our public education system [school] failed you. Actually, I feel more sorry for the teachers you more than likely tortured [hurt] with your asinine [shit for brains] contributions to human existence. It's never too late to pick up a dictionary [book] and actually make something of yourself. But that would mean you'd have to be productive [get stuff done], which would require you to remove the thumb from your ass.

Thehardcorethug: hey your smart wanna be friends

Marklebald: So you're either 13 years old or an inmate with computer access. Or both. In which case, I don't do the tutoring thing. And this whole dialogue (if you can call it that) has seriously made me question any opinions I had on the social reintegration of prisoners. Best of luck developing a new skill set while you're behind bars. I hear telemarketers are in high demand in this economy. But you clearly have the personality befitting those pain-in-the-ass calls around dinnertime.

Thehardcorethug: give me a bj

Marklebald: I called it. Prisoner.

FFTB Gets a Facelift

Thanks to a super sibling with mad multimedia skills, Fortune Favors the Bald has gotten a much needed overhaul. Aside from my need for external motivation to blog more, I don't know why it felt necessary, but it was. In fact, more dire than Chad Kroeger's need for a throat lozenge. I hope you, like me, appreciate the weird-ass Tyra Banks featured in the new banner. Who knew that baldness could evoke a sense of egomaniacal high art? Tyra did. That's who.

You'll notice, also, the not-too-subtle change in FFTB's URL. It's not that I have an issue with anonymity. Let's be honest... I don't check the hit counter on this blog for a reason. I also haven't pissed off a coworker or a local barista. Clearly, there is no shortage of cautionary tales about unemployed bloggers who, at one time, felt the need to vent about a boss. Also, if my boss is reading... I love my job and the opportunity to work under your attentive tutelage. Nor am I venturing into WikiLeaks territory. For one, it sounds like a VD. (I pray, too, that the mere mention of WikiLeaks in this blog doesn't bring the DOD to my doorstep.)

Maybe it's the hermit in me rising to the surface. I am both amused and repulsed by people who lose themselves in the net (Sandra Bullock, anyone?). For every self-absorbed autobiographical blogger, I'll show you a World of Warcraft devotee. You're a level 14 Mage, leader of your guild; you raided all the dungeons of the Eastern and Western kingdoms, and you're still a virgin?? For too many people, the actual living of life takes a backseat to their mission to develop an online persona. Everybody wants to be the next Dooce or Danny Evans, which in my humble opinion are blogging at its best. But not everyone needs to know what I had for dinner, what I thought about Inception, or how bad it sucked to have to go to the laundromat the other day.

In trying to avoid the boilerplate meanderings of much of America, I still recognize the continual need to divulge. To share. To congress with other players in life (not Life™, which is actually as boring as boardgames go). To disclose the minutia of our day-to-day, while avoiding the pitfalls of the oversharer. I swear, you will never hear about any routine, colorectal procedures of mine in the future. But my story to tell is that fortune does favor the bald. Good fortune. Misfortune. Not to mention Ms. Gina Fortune, a best friend of 5+ years now. Brandi Carlile sang it best:

All of these lines across my face / Tell you the story of who I am / So many stories of where I've been / And how I got to where I am / But these stories don't mean anything / When you've got no one to tell them to

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Spider Sanctuary

Let me begin this return to blogging from inexplicable absence (it's been well over a year) by conceding that I never intended to fall off the planet. God knows I've had loads to talk about. New job. New dog. New house. The combined stress from these three alone have been enough to scramble my cerebral cortex like the haphazard culinary efforts of a local IHOP cook (another missed blog opportunity). Maybe it's an admitted loss of objectivity or humor than I know tends to accompany me when enduring these life stage changes. Silence and the solitude of my own thoughts have always had a strangely therapeutic hold over me. This is probably why all the contrivances of Twitter have appealed to me; there's nothing easier than limiting the scope of your thoughts to 140 characters (@Marklebald, for those of you so inclined). All that to say, I know what it's like to lose your voice, especially when life is the pressure cooker that somehow still hasn't turned your coal into diamonds.

But I had to return, for one, to try something new. With my new HTC EVO (shameless Android plug), I had to try my hand at mobile blogging. FYI, for all its power, this OS' auto-correct feature is making typing take twice as long as normal. Secondly, I had to petition the online masses to see if anyone knows if some obscure arachnid deity exists, because it appears I have angered he/she/it. His royal legginess has apparently unleashed his hoards on my casa of ten months. In just the past few summer months, I've seen wolf spiders big enough to tackle my schnauzers, a tarantula taking residence in the garage, and a black widow chillaxing on the back patio like she's waiting for me to bring her a cosmo. I can only surmise that new construction is the Sandals resorts equivalent for spider-kind. They've even seen fit to invite their cousin scorpions to squat on the premises (read: NOT OK).

Accordingly, I've stocked up on Home Defense and all other anti-critter Ortho products, as well as recruited the professional arachnid assassins. Overkill? Not hardly. There's only so many times that I can explain away my very emasculating discoveries of those "fuzzy bugs". (Brian Fellows, anyone?... No?) My reactions look something akin to an effeminate and epileptic Lindy Hop. And before you judge too harshly, ask yourselves how you would react to seeing these monstrocities. No, I did not lift them from the Clash of the Titans official movie website.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mister Blogs Slightly More Than a Disinterred Corpse

So it's been a while since my last post, and I'm currently cooking up a more substantial writing, yadda yadda... Well in the mean time, I thought I'd share recent frustrations in the style of Budweiser's timeless marketing campaign, Real Men of Genius.

Here’s to you, mister doesn’t know how to eat chocolate and simultaneously maintain his dignity.

Look, I have a sweet tooth just as badly as the next person. But some people seem to lose their minds when indulging in their favorite confections. The slurred speech, the sultry demeanor, the euphoric eye-twitching… There’s no reason eating chocolate should transform someone into an orgasmic stroke victim. And why do people feel the need to converse with you while they’re unnecessarily prolonging each bite?

AMMMHMMAHMM… Ohmagaw… yu dunno how good thi ith…

Umm, pretty sure I do know. It’s chocolate, not some rare Nepalese delicacy. And we live in America. Pretty sure if you cut one of Uncle Sam’s varicose veins, it will bleed Hershey’s. Seriously, how can you still be surprised at how good chocolate tastes? Please cease and desist with all your When Harry Met Sally moments, because I’m just not convinced.

Here’s to you, mister unnecessarily loud Harley revving in public.

Nothing evokes masculinity like a middle-aged, leather-clad rebel without a cause. I’m still confused as to how you got your family of four to Taco Bueno, but regardless… Is it really necessary to rev your bike in public 7-8 times? I mean, once you turn the key, you should have all the confirmation you need that your engine is in fact running. You made it next to impossible to order from the drive-through the other day.

Yes, I’d like the #3 MexiDip and Chips with a Dr.N-N-N-N-NA-NYUH-NYUH!!!! Umm, sorry, that was a number 3, add a chicken MuchacN-N-NYUH-NA-NEGINA-NYUH-NYUH-NA-NYUH!!!!!!! Forget it, just give me tacos, burritos and a couple dri

Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of the crotch rockets, and now I think I know why. I don’t think I could ever ride anything that sounds like a flatulent Greek god.

Here’s to you, mister and mistress inexplicably drawn to bald heads.

Let it be known that baldness does not come with a membership card. There are no secret societies, nor is there frequent fraternization of the follicularly challenged (to my knowledge). So why, tell me why, sir do you feel the need to solicit the chrome-dome camaraderie of me, a stranger? Understandably, it is New Years, and there have been many libations… Just because you are bald and I too am bald does not mean that we have some inherent bond or brotherhood. Therefore, it is unnecessary for us to discuss head shape and shaving technique, because we are not of the same tribe or clan. (Note: you may actually be affiliated with a certain Klan, in which case, we truly have nothing in common. I cannot help you prepare Molotov cocktails, nor am I skilled in etching Confederate flag prison tats.)

Likewise, ma’am… contrary to popular belief, bald heads do not yearn to be rubbed. It’s no crystal ball, no genie’s lamp. I don’t wake up every day secretly hoping my noggin will be fondled by strangely amorous women. Honestly, a simple handshake will do. A bald head is not a helpless, adorable puppy that demands to be doted upon. Awwww, loogadit! Loogada cute wittle bawld headsy-kins! Again, there is usually a certain level of imbibing that has taken place before a cranium grope, but not even lowered inhibitions are enough to excuse this strange infatuation.

Here’s to you, mister grievously deficient in phone etiquette.

While it has been of no consequence to me, sir, you have made it obvious that this telephone interview has been exclusively for your convenience. Over the course of our hour-long conversation, I have had the privilege of overhearing you chew gum, wake the baby with a chorus of clanging pots and pans, yell at the dogs to stop barking, flick your lighter at the first of what would be eight smoke breaks, the squawking of what I'm sure is a malnourished tropical bird, you now yelling at the children, the flushing of a toilet, and the crunching of something with the texture and timbre of Cornnuts. I must say, it has been an utter delight.

Your groggy response when you answered the phone raised the question as to whether you knew the day started before 1:30 PM. After having to compete with Bob Barker for your attention, I am certain that whereas I will carry out my workday in slacks and a button-up shirt, you will more than likely ride out the remaining daylight on your sectional in sweats. Let me assure you that the rest of civilization heretofore has been abuzz with all the telltale signs of life and productivity that consciousness affords.