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Happy New Year!

January 7, 1999

The new year is here, and, as usual, it arrived just in time. Any longer with the old year, and we would have suffered a complete collapse. Plus, if the old year decided to hang around, no one would really be sure when it was leaving, and everyone would wander around occasionally chanting, "TEN! NINE! EIGHT!…" just hoping they’d get it at the right time. Actually what most people don’t realize is that each year is about six hours too long, which is why we have those pesky leap years. Since the next leap year won’t be coming up for a while, I’ll save all the things I have to say about it. The only way to really be certain when the year actually ends is to observe Earth from outer space, but it’s better to go along with what everyone thinks is the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, because here is where all the good parties are. They do have parties in space, on the Mir station, but they have bigger things to celebrate than a new year. For instance, when the oxygen stops draining into space, that’s usually considered a good thing to celebrate. Then the parties get too wild, and somebody accidentally breaks the orbital control panel with a wrench, and the whole thing starts all over again. That’s why it’s better to celebrate anything here on Earth, especially the New Year. Or if we ever find out that our oxygen is draining into space and then stops, we can celebrate that too. Enjoy this week’s offerings.

December 8: 6:00 PM. It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses Print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

December 9: We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the Whole World? Moving here was the best idea I’ve ever had. Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life.

December 12: The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment. My neighbor tells me not to worry, we’ll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we’ll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I’ll never want to see snow again. I don’t think that’s possible. Bob is such a nice man. I’m glad he’s our neighbor.

December 14: Snow, lovely snow! 8" last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn’t realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I’ll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn’t huff and puff so.

December 15: 20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4×4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife’s car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that’s silly. We aren’t in Alaska, after all.

December 16: Ice storm this morning. Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17: Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should’ve bought a wood stove, but won’t admit it to her. God I hate it when she’s right. I can’t believe I’m freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20: Electricity’s back on, but had another 14" of the damn stuff last night. More shoveling. Took all day. Goddamn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they’re too busy playing hockey. I think they’re lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they’re out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they’re lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he’s lying.

December 22: Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it’s so cold it probably won’t melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to piss. By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again. I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter; but he says he’s too busy. I think the asshole is lying.

December 23: Only 2" of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she…nuts??? Why didn’t she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she’s lying.

December 24: 6". Snow packed so hard by snowplow, l broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snowplow, Ill drag him through the snow by his balls. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow allover where I’ve just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was busy watching for the goddamn snowplow.

December 25: Merry Christmas. 20 more inches of the goddamned slop tonight. Snowed in. The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. God I hate the snow! Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she’s an idiot. If I have to watch "It’s a Wonderful Life" one more time, I’m going to kill her.

December 26: Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She’s really getting on my nerves.

December 27: Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze.

December 28: Warmed up to above -50. Still snowed in. THE WENCH is driving me crazy!!!

December 29: 10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That’s the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30: Roof caved in. The snow plow driver is suing me for a million dollars for the bump on his head. The wife went home to her mother. 9" predicted.

December 31: Set fire to what’s left of the house. No more shoveling.

January 8: I feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

  1. A stunned, bewildered idiot will stand at the intersection of two or more major traffic aisles so as to cause the most inconvenience to passers-by who do know where they are going.

  2. Such idiot will be carrying at least one bag capable of comfortably holding a ’57 Buick, and will make sudden, random turns so as to fling the bag into the shins (or worse) of passers-by.

  3. When such idiot is intercepted by family and/or friends and removed from the location, they will be replaced by a freshly bewildered idiot within 2.5 minutes, maximum.

  4. No matter how many signs (or how big they are) the store puts up clearly announcing "NO RETURNS OR EXCHANGES DEC 26 or 27" there will be no less than 5 morons crowded into every cashier’s line who figure this rule couldn’t possibly apply to them. And they’ll be pretty huffy about it, too.

  5. Nitwits who can clearly afford baby sitters (either that, or they’re shoplifting the 5 high-end DVD players under their arm) will have the curious impression that Boxing Day shopping is exactly the sort of bonding event their squalling 3-week-old offspring wants most to do in this life.

  6. The parking lot of any store over 300 square meters will contain no less than 17 Sport Utility Vehicles with dogs pretending to be ready to drive off at a moment’s notice. When the supervising human does return, odds are 50:50 that the dog will occupy said human’s lap as driving commences. Especially if the dog is the size of a Saturn Launch Vehicle.

  7. No idiot driving a SUV has any grasp of the physical size of the vehicle, with the result being that parking them involves manoeuvers hitherto unaccomplished by the entire Kirov Ballet.

  8. Imbeciles paying for purchases of Items Necessary to Life (consumer electronics, compact disks, angora sweaters..) with $50 bills will be constantly complaining about the state of abject poverty they live in.

  9. Seven hours before closing time December 24, Wal-Mart will start setting up displays of huge saccharine Valentine’s Bears, eachclutching oversized satin hearts. (I actually SAW this happen.)

  10. Any mall containing a theatre will have an aroma of popcorn frying in rancid canola emanating into the hall. The smell will be strong enough to gag a badger. And patrons will buy it at prices per ounce greater than those for top sirloin, under the impression it’s somehow "healthy" for them, and that the 4 tablespoons of salt on it somehow don’t count.

Cough cough.

December 18, 1998

Okay, I was going to write about the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having, and the kind of office insanity inspired by this weather, an insanity which caused me to blow up a surgical glove like a balloon and send it flying out of a seventh-storey window, but, as always happens with the weather, right when I was planning to comment on it, it became seasonably cold. In fact the change was so dramatic it’s caused me to write unbelievably long run-on sentences and use strange words like "seasonably". So, in keeping with the winter weather, here’s a little story from my childhood: I once had a really bad cold that kept me up most of the night coughing, so my mother made up a batch of what she called Aunt Chloe’s Cough and Congestion Curative. The recipe was simple: a cup of honey, a cup of lemon juice, and a shot of whisky. It wasn’t much whisky, but it was enough that I stopped wearing scarves and recklessly endangered my throat anytime there was cold weather. One day, for reasons I can’t remember, I was staying with my grandmother the teetotaller. Because I’d been without Aunt Chloe’s miracle elixir for several hours, I coughing as though my lungs were going to come out through my nose. My grandmother asked, "Are you taking anything for that?" I made the mistake of telling my grandmother about Aunt Chloe’s recipe, or, as she translated it, "Satan’s syrup." After throwing around several colorful antiquated expressions such as "ruination" and "seasonably", she ran to the phone. She then spent several hours on the phone with my father who averted a very ugly child custody battle by explaining to her that what I was taking had less alcohol than most cough medicines on the market at the time. This was true, too. When I was growing up, cough medicines had about the same alcohol content as tequila and had a few other pleasant ingredients like codeine and essence of wormwood. They didn’t cure coughs, but hey, with a cocktail like that, coughing would be the last of your worries. Home remedies, are, of course, always best, especially since most cough syrup companies have now changed their formulas to make them less tempting to people in twelve-step programs. Now they just taste like bubblegum and grape soda. There’s a moral in there somewhere, but you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. I feel a cold coming on.

Enjoy this week’s offerings, and, since you’ll all be spending time with your families rather than your computers next week (or at the very least using your computers to try out all those cool new programs Santa left under your tree) have a wonderful holiday. By the time you hear from me again, we’ll be partying like it’s 1999.


One particular Christmas season a long time ago, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip … but there were problems everywhere.

Four of his elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her mom was coming to visit.This stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where. More stress.

Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.

So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hid the liquor and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made from.

Just then the doorbell rang and Santa cussed on his way to the door. He opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said, very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas Santa. Isn’t it just a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Isn’t it just a lovely tree? Where would you like me to stick it?"

Thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Twas The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as Mus musculus. Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood burning caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific title of St. Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically through their cerebrums. My conjugal partner and I, attired in our nocturnal head coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage of the hibernal darkness when upon the avenaceous exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof.

Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this fenestration, noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself – thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer, piloted by a minuscule, aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated caller. With his ungulate motive power travelling at what may possibly have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alar predators, he vociferated loudly, expelled breath musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respective cognomen – "Now Dasher, now Dancer…" et al. – guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities.

As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was performing a 180-degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved – with utmost celerity and via a downward leap – entry by way of the smoke passage. He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebony residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in a commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging amiability. The capillaries of his malar regions and nasal appurtenance were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion’s floral emblem, the latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry. His amusing sub- and supralabials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small, tabular and columnar crystals of frozen water.

Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose grey fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage was wider than it was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical container. He was, in short, neither more nor less than an obese, jocund, multigenarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me visibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head slightly to one side, he indicated that trepidation on my part was groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the aforementioned appended hosiery with various of the aforementioned articles of merchandise extracted from his aforementioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon completion of this task, he executed an abrupt about- face, placed a single manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke passage. He then propelled himself in a short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed. But I overheard his parting exclamation, audible immediately prior to his vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility: "Ecstatic Yuletide to the planetary constituency, and to that self same assemblage, my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn."

Holiday Cheer

December 11, 1998

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are brought on earlier every year as marketing gurus attempt to counteract the effects of global warming with fake snow, fake fireplaces, and, most importantly, fake goodwill. Some new traditions have begun emerging, among them the mad scramble for interactive toys that are teaching a whole generation that human relationships are completely unnecessary so long as you have enough batteries to light up southern Albania for a year. One of the older traditions that I consistently miss (in the sense of "avoid" rather than "pine for") is the employer-sponsored holiday party. From what I’ve heard, the party here gets worse every year. A few years ago the gift given everyone at the door was a tin can with six chocolate chip cookies. This year it was a multicultural calendar, which just proves that trying to offend no one really does offend everyone. In the next few years the party itself is expected to be replaced by a celebratory committee who will visit various departments passing out brightly colored boxes of landfill. One person proudly told me that, in thirty years, she has never attended the big holiday party. "Those things are always a madhouse," she told me, "and besides, I can buy my own cookies." The amazing thing is she learned this despite having grown up without interactive toys.

Martha Stewart’s Christmas letter to Erma Bombeck:

Hi Erma,

This perfectly delightful note is being sent on paper I made myself to tell you what I have been up to.

Since it snowed last night, I got up early and made a sled with old barn wood and a glue gun. I hand painted it in gold leaf, got out my loom, and made a blanket in peaches and mauves.

Then to make the sled complete, I made a white horse to pull it, from DNA that I had just sitting around in my craft room.

By then, it was time to start making the place mats and napkins for my 20 breakfast guests. I’m serving the old standard Stewart twelve-course breakfast, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: I didn’t have time to make the tables and chairs this morning, so I used the ones I had on hand.

Before I moved the table into the dining room, I decided to add just a touch of the holidays. So I repainted the room in pinks and stenciled gold stars on the ceiling.

Then, while the homemade bread was rising, I took antique candle molds and made the dishes (exactly the same shade of pink) to use for breakfast. These were made from Hungarian clay, which you can get at almost any Hungarian craft store.

Well, I must run. I need to finish the buttonholes on the dress I’m wearing for breakfast.

I’ll get out the sled and drive this note to the post office as soon as the glue dries on the envelope I’ll be making. Hope my breakfast guests don’t stay too long, I have 40,000 cranberries to string with bay leaves before my speaking engagement at noon. It’s a good thing.

Love, Martha Stewart

P.S. When I made the ribbon for this typewriter, I used 1/8-inch gold gauze. I soaked the gauze in a mixture of white grapes and blackberries which I grew, picked, and crushed last week just for fun.

Erma Bombeck’s Response:

Dear Martha,

I’m writing this on the back of an old shopping list, pay no attention to the coffee and jelly stains.

I’m 20 minutes late getting my daughter up for school, packing a lunch with one hand, on the phone with the dog pound, seems old Ruff needs bailing out, again. Burnt my arm on the curling iron when I was trying to make those cute curly fries, how DO they do that?

Still can’t find the scissors to cut out some snowflakes, tried using an old disposable razor . . . trashed the tablecloth.

Tried that cranberry thing, frozen cranberries mushed up after I defrosted them in the microwave.

Oh, and don’t use Fruity Pebbles as a substitute in that Rice Krispie snowball recipe, unless you happen to like a disgusting shade that resembles puke!

The smoke alarm is going off, talk to ya later.

Love, Erma

Okay, Don’t Hang Up.

December 4, 1998

Earlier this week I heard an interview with a telemarketer on the radio. For those of you who don’t know, telemarketers are annoying twerps who call you up at home at dinnertime or some other really inconvenient moment with useless items to sell. Useless? All right, I’ve never actually bothered to listen to what telemarketers are trying to sell, but, honestly, if it’s something that can’t be advertised in a magazine, newspaper, radio or television commercial, or, for that matter, placed on store shelves, is it really something anyone wants to buy? Maybe if I stopped and listened to telemarketers I’d find that they’re selling really great things like cures for baldness. Or they might have equally useless things like car insurance for dogs. The fact that someone has to call me up at home and attempt to harass me into buying something automatically makes me not want to buy it. I’ll go bald, and I’ll never let my dogs borrow the car. That solves the problem without having to listen to some pinhead who has failed to find a way to answer his true calling as a malevolent dictator’s lackey. Here’s what really surprised me in the interview, though: telemarketers aren’t allowed to hang up on customers. Only customers can hang up first. So some people will keep telemarketers on the line with no intention of buying anything. According to the guy being interviewed, that’s rude and inconsiderate. Really? I can’t believe a telemarketer would have the cohones to say in a national interview that anything people do to him is rude. That’s like saying I’m rude because I slap mosquitoes when they bite me. If there are any telemarketers out there reading this, consider how your profession was invented: in a late-night meeting, after too much Thai food and Brazilian-Mozambique blend coffee, an executive said, "Hey, I think I’ve figured out a way to make our customers hate us and sell as few items as possible!" At some point, you probably realized just how idiotic this scheme is. And yet you went along anyway. Now…who’s the rude one here? Enjoy this week’s offerings which, I guarantee, will not try to sell you anything.

The following are actual comments received last year from Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards after backpackers completed wilderness camping trips:

"A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call."

"Escalators would help on steep uphill sections."

"Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness."

"Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands."

"Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals."

"All the mile markers are missing this year."

"Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse."

"Trail needs to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill."

"Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests."

"Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow during the winter."

"Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them."

"The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals."

"Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights."

"Need more signs to keep area pristine."

"A McDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead."

"The places where trails do not exist are not well marked."

"I brought lots of sandwich makings but forgot bread. If you have extra bread, leave it in the yellow tent at V Lake."

"Too many rocks in the mountains."

Here are some actual answers from contestants who have appeared on Family Feud.

Name something a blind person might use: A sword
Name a song with moon in the title: Blue suede moon
Name a bird with a long neck: Naomi Campbell
Name an occupation where you need a torch: A burglar
Name a famous brother & sister: Bonnie & Clyde
Name a dangerous race: The Arabs
Name an item of clothing worn by the 3 musketeers: A horse
Name something that floats in the bath: Water
Name something you wear on the beach: A deckchair
Name something Red: My cardigan
Name a famous cowboy: Buck Rogers
Name a famous royal: Mail
A number you have to memorise: 7
Something you do before going to bed: Sleep
Something you put on walls: Roofs
Something in the garden that’s green: Shed
Something that flies that doesn’t have an engine: A bicycle with wings
Something you might be allergic to: Skiing
Name a famous bridge: The bridge over troubled waters
Something a cat does: Goes to the toilet
Something you do in the bathroom: Decorate
Name an animal you might see at the zoo: A dog
Something associated with the police: Pigs
A sign of the zodiac: April
Something slippery: A conman
A kind of ache: Fillet ‘O’ Fish
A food that can be brown or white: Potato
A jacket potato topping: Jam
A famous Scotsman: Jock
Another famous Scotsman: Vinnie Jones
Something with a hole in it: Window
A non living object with legs: Plant
A domestic animal: Leopard
A part of the body beginning with ‘N’: Knee
A way of cooking fish: Cod
Something you open other than a door: Your Bowels


November 27, 1998

This Thursday in the United States, most of us are celebrating the holiday of Thanksgiving. This holiday has a long and proud history, beginning with the pilgrim Puritans who came to this country in the seventeenth century seeking to escape religious persecution. The first Thanksgiving was really a fall harvest festival. Wait a minute. Weren’t fall harvest festivals traditionally celebrated by pagans? And didn’t the Puritans break away from the Catholic church because of, among other things, what they believed was too much of an emphasis on pseudo-pagan festivals and rituals? All right, maybe the first Thanksgiving is, like Pocahontas’s rescue of John Smith, Paul Revere’s ride, and the prosperity of the 1980’s a convenient historical myth. Or maybe even the Puritans needed to cut loose once in a while. Either way, Thanksgiving was not officially a holiday until 1940, although it was first suggested as a holiday by President Lincoln. Because Linoln seemed to be open to new holidays, his office was soon inundated with suggestions from all over the country, which led to his unfortunate last words: "We need a new holiday like I need a hole in the head."

On a more sincere note, I hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving, including those of you in Canada who celebrated your version of this holiday more than a month ago. For the rest of you, well, take a long weekend. Heck, even the Puritans took a break once in a while. You’ve probably earned it, and that’s something you can be thankful for.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

With the Christmas season fast approaching, please look into your heart to help those in need.

Hundreds of National Basketball Association basketball players in our very own country are living at or just below the seven figure salary level (Atrocious!). And as if that weren’t bad enough, they will be deprived of pay for several weeks, possibly a whole year, as a result of the current lock-out situation. But now, you can help! For only $20,835 a month, about $694.50 a day (that’s less than the cost of a large screen projection TV) you can help a basketball player remain economically viable during his time of need. This contribution by no means solves the problem, as it barely covers the yearly league minimum, …but it’s a start!

Almost $700 may not seem like a lot of money to you, but to a basketball player it could mean the difference between a vacation spent golfing in Florida or a Mediterranean cruise. For you, seven hundred dollars is nothing more than two months rent or mortgage payments. But to a basketball player, $700 will almost replace his daily salary.

Your commitment of less than $700 a day will enable a player to buy that home entertainment center, trade in the year-old Lexus for a new Ferrari or enjoy a weekend in Rio.


Each month you will receive a complete financial report on the player you sponsor. Detailed information about his stock, bonds, 401(k), real estate and other investment holdings will be mailed to your home. You’ll also get information on how he plans to invest the $5 million lump sum he will receive upon retirement. Plus, upon signing up for this program, you will receive a photo of the player (unsigned – for a signed photo, please include an additional $50) to put on your refrigerator as a reminder of other peoples’ suffering.


Your basketball player will be told that he has a "Special Friend" who just wants to help in a time of need. Although the player won’t know your name, he will be able to make collect calls to your home via a special operator just in case additional funds are needed for unexpected expenses.


I would like to sponsor a striking NBA basketball player. My preference is checked below:

[ ] Starter
[ ] Reserve
[ ] Star (Higher cost)
[ ] Superstar (Much higher cost)
[ ] Entire team (Please call our 900 number to ask for the cost of a specific team.)
[ ] I’ll sponsor a player most in need, please pick one for me.

Please charge the account listed below$694.50 per day for a reserve player or starter for the duration of the strike. Please send me a picture of the player I have sponsored, along with a team logo and my very own NBA Players Association badge to wear proudly on my lapel.

Your Name:________________________________

Telephone Number: ________________________

[ ] Mastercard [ ] Visa [ ] American Express
[ ] Discover

Account Number:___________________________

Signature: _______________________________

Mail completed form to NBA Players Association or call 1-900-TOO-MUCH to enroll by phone.

Note: Sponsors are not permitted to contact the player they have sponsored, either in person or by other means including, but not limited to: telephone calls, letters, e-mail or third parties. Keep in mind that the basketball player you have sponsored will be much too busy enjoying his free time, thanks to your generous donations. Contributions are not tax-deductible.

An instructor was sitting in his office one afternoon when an attractive, sexy-looking lady knocked on his door.

Yes?, he replied, how may I help you? The lady said "I need to talk to you about my grade in your class."

"Come in and have a seat," said the instructor.

"Is there anything I can do to get an ‘A’ in your class?"

"What do you mean by *anything*?" he asked.

She said "Anything!"

"Anything??" he asked.

She said, in her best sultry voice "I mean ANYTHING."

The instructor got up from behind his desk, sat down beside her and whispered in her ear, "Would you study?"


November 20, 1998

Recently there have been wads of commercials for various long distance phone call savings programs gumming up the televisions normally smooth flow of inane repetitive sitcoms and commercials for even more useless services and products. As a habitual reader of fine print, I’ve been a little bit surprised that some of the competing plans are offered by the same company, but that’s a matter I’ll leave to the conspiracy theorists. Instead, I’ve turned my attention to the stories presented in the commercials themselves and to what seems to be a growing phone bill crisis. Devoting as much as five minutes per day (with the use of 25 brain cells for the first minute and only one brain cell for each additional minute) I think I’ve come up with a solution. Would you like to hear it? Here it is: if a friend is at your house, and decides right in the middle of dinner, a football game, or a wedding reception that he needs to make a long-distance phone call, TELL HIM TO GO HOME AND USE HIS OWN PHONE. I know it sounds radical, but I think it just might work.

You could, of course, suggest that he make a collect call, but probably the reason he’s trying to stick you with the bill is he used the insanely easy and inexpensive collect call services so many times he’s put all his friends and relatives in debt. If he’s really insistent about how much money he’ll save you, suggest that he save you even more by paying for the phone call himself with a credit card. That is of course, unless his cards are already maxed out from making inexpensive phone calls, which would explain why he only watches football at your house.

Before going on to this week’s money-saving offerings, I’d like everyone to say Happy Birthday to my wife Holly. Ask her which birthday this is, and you’ll receive free instructions on how many times to fold it and where to place it. As for me, I’m only going to say that I hope we have at least as many more birthdays together. Each one is better than the last.

Success of VIAGRA

With the overwhelming success of VIAGRA, the new drug for the treatment of impotence in men, there has been an interest on the part of many major companies considering a possible merger with VIAGRA’s manufacturer. The potential market for a product like VIAGRA, coupled with the established reputation of a nationally recognized company could be a goldmine – ESPECIALLY, WITH THE USE OF POPULAR COMPANY MOTTOS!!!!

Consider a merger of VIAGRA with:

AT&T whose motto is "Reach out and touch someone".


Burger King – "Home of the WHOPPER"

You get the idea.

Here are some more:

Chevrolet – "Like a ROCK".

Energizer Batteries – "Keeps on going, and going, and going……."

U.S. Army – "Be all that you can be".

Don’t forget McDonald’s, where you can "Supersize for just $0.39".

MCI can give a new twist to their "Friends & Family" circles.

With Timex, it "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking".

Les Schwab Tires offers "Free Beef".

Surge pop says "Feel the rush".

VISA – "It’s everywhere you want to be".

IBM provides "Solutions for a small planet"

With Allstate Insurance, "You’re in good hands".

The Marines are "Looking for a few good men".

Prudential Insurance says, "Get a piece of the rock."

and of course

AM/PM minimart boasts "Too much good stuff".

Women’s Snappy Comebacks

Man: "Haven’t we met before?"
Woman: "Yes, I’m the receptionist at the VD Clinic."

Man: "Haven’t I seen you someplace before?
Woman: "Yeah, that’s why I don’t go there anymore."

Man: "Is this seat empty?"
Woman: "Yes, and this one will be too if you sit down."

Man: "So, wanna go back to my place ?"
Woman: "Well, I don’t know. Will two people fit under a rock?"

Man: "Your place or mine?"
Woman: "Both. You go to yours and I’ll go to mine."

Man: "I’d like to call you. What’s your number?"
Woman: "It’s in the phone book."
Man: "But I don’t know your name."
Woman: "That’s in the phone book too."

Man: "So what do you do for a living?"
Woman: "I’m a female impersonator."

Man: "What sign were you born under?"
Woman: "No Parking."

Man: "Hey, baby, what’s your sign?"
Woman: "Do not Enter"

Man: "How do you like your eggs in the morning?"
Woman: "Unfertilized !"

Man: "Hey, come on, we’re both here at this bar for the same
Woman: "Yeah! Let’s pick up some chicks!"

Man: "I’m here to fulfill your every sexual fantasy."
Woman: "You mean you’ve got both a donkey and a GreatDane?

Man: "I know how to please a woman."
Woman: "Then please leave me alone."

Man: "I want to give myself to you."
Woman: "Sorry, I don’t accept cheap gifts."

Man: "I can tell that you want me."
Woman: "Ohhhh. You’re so right. I want you to leave."

Man: "If I could see you naked, I’d die happy."
Woman: "Yeah, but if I saw you naked, I’d probably die laughing."

Man: "Hey cutie, how ’bout you and I hitting the hot spots?"
Woman: "Sorry, I don’t date outside my species.."

Man: "Your body is like a temple."
Woman: "Sorry, there are no services today."

Man: "I’d go through anything for you."
Woman: "Good! Let’s start with your bank account."

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

November 13, 1998

This month, scientists say, one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year, the Leonids, will be at their most spectacular in thirty years. This means that, if you stand outside after midnight and stare at the entire sky for at least six hours, you have a pretty good chance of spotting a meteor, as opposed to other years when only really devoted watchers have a chance of seeing one. Over all, this has been a pretty good year for astronomy. At least two meteors crashed and burned in movie theaters everywhere, and even though there were no comets to help reduce Earth’s swollen population of lunatics, Saturn and Jupiter have been together in the sky for the first time in nearly twenty years. Their original breakup had something to do with a comment Jupiter made about Saturn’s rings looking a little wider, which led to Saturn saying something about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and advances in plastic surgery. The reunion has been so successful that there are plans for a talk show. This is especially appropriate when you consider that these two planets belong to a category known as the gas giants.

Enjoy this week’s astronomically funny offerings.


It’s okay…I’m still billing the client.

They told me at the blood bank this might happen.

This is just a 15-minute power-nap like they raved about in the last time management course you sent me to.

I was working smarter, not harder.

Whew! Guess I left the top off the liquid paper.

I wasn’t sleeping! I was meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm!

This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people!

I was testing the keyboard for drool resistance.

I’m in the management-training program.

This is in exchange for the six hours last night when I dreamed about work!

I was doing a highly specific Yoga exercise to relieve work-related stress. Are you discriminatory toward people who practice Yoga?

Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out a solution to our biggest problem.

The coffee machine is broken….

Someone must’ve put decaf in the wrong pot.

Boy, that cold medicine I took last night just won’t wear off!

It worked well for Reagan, didn’t it?

I was crosstraining for telecommuting.

Ah, the unique and unpredictable circadian rhythms of the workaholic!

I wasn’t sleeping. I was trying to pick up my contact lens without hands.

The mailman flipped out and took out a gun so I was playing dead to avoid getting shot.


PioReyes, my assistant programmer, can always be found
hard at work in his cubicle. Pio works independently, without
wasting company time talking to colleagues. Pio never
thinks twice about assisting fellow employees, and he always
finishes given assignments on time. Often Pio takes extended
measures to complete his work, sometimes skipping coffee
breaks. Pio is a dedicated individual who has absolutely no
vanity in spite of his high accomplishments and profound
knowledge in his field. I firmly believe that Pio can be
classed as a high-caliber employee, the type which cannot be
dispensed with. Consequently, I duly recommend that Pio be
promoted to executive management, and a proposal will be
sent away as soon as possible.

Project Leader

That stupid idiot was reading over my shoulder when I wrote the report sent to you earlier today. Kindly read only the odd lines 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 … for my true assessment of him.
Project Leader

Trick or…whatever

October 30, 1998

There are fewer and fewer "trick or treaters" every year. Last year it was one kid who didn’t even have a costume and said, "Do you, like, have some candy or what?" Because of this decline, a law that barred adults from buying Halloween candy for their own consumption has been repealed. You may remember that, in the old days, when you came home with Halloween candy, your parents would have to thoroughly inspect it for rusty nails, razor blades, syringes, and would sometimes have to perform complex chemical tests for arsenic and mercuric chloride before you could even touch the candy you’d brought home. It took me several years before I figured out that what my parents were doing when they were "checking" my candy was grabbing some of the good stuff and leaving me with a large percentage of Rubber Gummies, Tasteless Toffees, Bits O’Bland, and those completely inedible lumps in the orange and black wax wrappers that smelled like peanut butter. Some years we even took our candy down to the hospital and got it X-rayed. I suspect this was a chance for doctors and nurses to lift a little extra candy, and stopped the American Medical Association from releasing their special report to children called "What Your Parents Are Really Doing With Your Halloween Candy". Despite the fact that the law has been repealed, I haven’t bought any candy this year, which means, with my luck, that hundreds, perhaps even thousands of trick or treaters will show up on my doorstep. Fortunately I have plenty of rusty nails, razor blades, and even a few syringes to give them. And if any parents complain, I’ll just say, "Like, can’t you get your own, or what?"

Enjoy this week’s horrifying offerings.

Here are some ideas for your epitaph, if you are going to leave one!

On the grave of Ezekial Aikle in East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia:

Here lies
Ezekial Aikle
Age 102
The Good
Die Young.

In a London, England cemetery:

Ann Mann
Here lies Ann Mann,
Who lived an old maid
But died an old Mann.
Dec. 8, 1767

In a Ribbesford, England, cemetery:

Anna Wallace
The children of Israel wanted bread
And the Lord sent them manna,
Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,
And the Devil sent him Anna.

Playing with names in a Ruidoso, New Mexico, cemetery:

Here lies Johnny Yeast
Pardon me
For not rising.

In memory of an accident in a Uniontown, Pennsylvania cemetery:

Here lies the body
of Jonathan Blake
Stepped on the gas
Instead of the brake.

In a Silver City, Nevada, cemetery:

Here lays Butch,
We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger,
But slow on the draw.

A widow wrote this epitaph in a Vermont cemetery:

Sacred to the memory of
my husband John Barnes
who died January 3, 1803
His comely young widow, aged 23, has
many qualifications of a good wife, and
yearns to be comforted.

A lawyer’s epitaph in England:

Sir John Strange
Here lies an honest lawyer,
And that is Strange.

Someone determined to be anonymous in Stowe, Vermont:

I was somebody.
Who is no business
Of yours.

Lester Moore was a Wells, Fargo Co. station agent for Naco, Arizona in the cowboy days of the 1880’s. He’s buried in the Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona:

Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs from a .44
No Les No More.

In a Georgia cemetery:

I told you I was sick

John Penny’s epitaph in the Wimborne, England, cemetery:

Reader if cash thou art
In want of any
Dig 4 feet deep
And thou wilt find a Penny.

On Margaret Daniels’ grave at Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, Virginia:

She always said her feet were killing her
but nobody believed her.

In a cemetery in Hartscombe, England:

On the 22nd of June
Jonathan Fiddle
Went out of tune.

Anna Hopewell’s grave in Enosburg Falls, Vermont has an epitaph that sounds like something from a Three Stooges movie:

Here lies the body of our Anna
Done to death by a banana
It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low
But the skin of the thing
That made her go.

More fun with names with Owen Moore in Battersea, London, England:

Gone away
Owin’ more
Than he could pay.

Someone in Winslow, Maine didn’t like Mr. Wood:

In Memory of Beza Wood
Departed this life Nov. 2, 1837
Aged 45 yrs.
Here lies one Wood
Enclosed in wood
One Wood
Within another.
The outer wood
Is very good:
We cannot praise
The other.

On a grave from the 1880’s in Nantucket, Massachusetts:

Under the sod and under the trees
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here, there’s only the pod:
Pease shelled out and went to God.

The grave of Ellen Shannon in Girard, Pennsylvania is almost a consumer tip:

Who was fatally burned March 21, 1870
by the explosion of a lamp filled with
Danforth’s Non-Explosive Burning Fluid

Oops! Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York:

Born 1903–Died 1942
Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the
way down. It was.

In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery:

Here lies an Atheist
All dressed up
And no place to go.

Idiots and security:

I was signing the receipt for my credit card purchase when the clerk noticed that I had never signed my name on the back of the credit card. She informed me that she could not complete the transaction unless the card was signed. When I asked why, she explained that it was necessary to compare the signature on the credit card with the signature I just signed on the receipt. So I signed the credit card in front of her. She carefully compared that signature to the one I signed on the receipt. As luck would have it, they matched!

Helpful Idiots:

At a grocery store in San Jose, they have new credit card/bank card readers at the checkout stands. If you don’t know how to orient your card to swipe it through the reader, the checkout person will say, "Strip down, face toward me." Am I wrong, or is this just asking for trouble?

Idiots and choices:

A customer at a sub shop ordered "a small soda." The owner responded, "I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t have small, just medium and large." (Both cost 99 cents.) The kicker came when the customer, a rather well-dressed business type, disappointedly said, "Okay, I guess I’ll just have to have the medium then."

Idiots and Geography:

After interviewing a particularly short-spoken job candidate, I described the person to my boss as rather monosyllabic. My boss said, "Really? Where is Monosyllabia?" Thinking that he was just kidding, I played along and said that it was just south of Elbonia. He replied, "Oh, you mean over by Croatia?"

Advice for Idiots:

An actual tip from page 16 of the HP "Environmental, Health & Safety Handbook for Employees.": "Blink your eyelids periodically to lubricate your eyes."

Idiots in the Neighborhood:

I live in a semi-rural area. We recently had a new neighbor call the local township administrative office to request the removal of the Deer Crossing sign on our road. The reason? Many deer were being hit by cars and he no longer wanted them to cross there.

Idiots and Computers:

My neighbor works in the operations department in the central office of a large bank. Employees in the field call him when theyhave problems with their computers. One night he got a call from a guy in one of the branch banks who had this question: "I’ve got smoke coming from the back of my terminal. Do you guys have a fire downtown?"

Idiots Are Easy To Please:

I was sitting in my science class, when the teacher commented that the next day would be the shortest day of the year. My lab partner became visibly excited, cheering and clapping. I explained to her that the amount of daylight changes, not the actual amount of time. Needless to say, she was very disappointed.

Idiots In Food Services:

My daughter went to a local Taco Bell and ordered a taco. She asked the individual behind the counter for "minimal lettuce." He said he was sorry, but they only had iceberg.

Idiots Do Math:

A co-worker was telling us about her sister who was coming to visit her for the holidays. Someone asked how old her sister was, at which she paused, thought for a bit, and then answered, "She’s half as old as I am, that’s how I always remember." So someone else (okay, it was me) said, "That’s neat… So every year that you age, she only ages half a year?" My co-worker thought about that, and then said, "Oh, yeah, I guess it only works on even years."

Idiots and Cooking:

On the back of frozen Skyline Chili, the directions read, "Heat 4-5 minutes, turn 180 degrees clockwise." I wonder, if I were to turn it 180 degrees counter-clockwise, would it not cook correctly?

Going Down?

October 23, 1998

Based on my observations of other people, I’ve managed to develop the following rules of elevator etiquette, which I’d like to share with you. Hopefully this will clear up any confusion and prevent any accidental outbreaks of courtesy:

  1. If you’re the only person waiting for the elevator, don’t bother pressing the "Up" or "Down" (whichever is appropriate) button. Simply stare at the elevator doors and send a mental signal.

  2. If there is someone already waiting for the elevator when you walk up, and the "Up" or "Down" button has already been pressed, be sure to lean over at at least a forty-five degree angle and tap the same button vigorously.

  3. If you’ve just stepped into the elevator and you see someone running to catch it before the doors close, reach over and tap the "Door close" button repeatedly. If the door actually closes in the face of the other person, you can make your coworkers laugh with an amusing impersonation of their final facial expression. This is even funnier if the person is someone you actually work with.

  4. If someone is holding the elevator for you, drag your feet until you actually reach the elevator door, then say, "I’m taking the stairs."

  5. If you’re the first person to get into the elevator, press the button for your floor then stand so close to the button panel that no one else can touch it. If anyone tries to say anything to you, stare intently at the ceiling.

  6. If you get into an elevator and there are other people behind you, make sure you stand in a place that will prevent as many of them as possible from entering.

  7. When the elevator is within eleven floors of where you want to get off, move in front of everyone and stand directly in front of the doors. This will ensure that you’ll be the first person off.

  8. If someone behind you has inconvenienced you by wanting to get off at a floor other than yours and indicate that they need to get around you to get out, move exactly one-eighth of an inch to the left or right. If they still can’t get around you, stare at the ceiling. This will teach them to not trouble you in the future. I hope all of you adopt these rules. Remember: you can make the difference between a world that is happy and pleasant and a world where, at least once a week, people like me have something to talk about.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker’s circuit, he usually found himself eagerly longing to get back to his laboratory work. One night as they were driving to yet another rubber-chicken dinner, Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur (a man who somewhat resembled Einstein in looks & manner) that he was tired of speechmaking.

"I have an idea, boss," his chauffeur said. "I’ve heard you give this speech so many times. I’ll bet I could give it for you."

Einstein laughed loudly and said, "Why not? Let’s do it!"

When they arrived at the dinner, Einstein donned the chauffeur’s cap and jacket and sat in the back of the room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of Einstein’s speech and even answered a few questions expertly.

Then a supremely pompous professor asked an extremely esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing here and there to let everyone in the audience know that he was nobody’s fool.

Without missing a beat, the chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and said, "Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back, answer it for me."

How To Handle A Jackass

As heard on The Phil Valentine Show

Unconfirmed but very funny – source unknown

If you occasionally have a really bad day, don’t take it out on someone you know. Take it out on someone you DON’T know. Now get this. I was sitting at my desk when I remembered a phone call I had to make. I found the number and dialed it. A man answered nicely. "Hello." I politely said, "This is Patrick Hannifin. Could I please speak to Robin Carter?" Suddenly, the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn’t believe anyone could be that rude. I tracked down Robin’s correct number and called her. She had transposed the last two digits. After I hung up with Robin, I spotted the wrong number still lying there on my desk. I decided to call it again. When the same person answered, I yelled, "You’re a jackass!" and hung up. Next to his phone number, I wrote the word "jackass" and put it in my desk drawer. Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I’d call him up. He’d answer and I’d yell, "You’re a jackass!" It would always cheer me up.

Later in the year, the phone company introduced caller ID. This was a real disappointment for me; I would have to stop calling the jackass. Then one day I had an idea. I dialed his number, then heard his voice. "Hello." "Hi. This is the sales office of the telephone company and I’m calling to see if you’re familiar with our caller ID program." He said, "No!" and slammed the phone down. I quickly called him back and said, "That’s because you’re a jackass!"

The reason I took the time to tell you this story is to show you how — if there’s ever anything really bothering you — you can do something about it.

(Keep reading, it gets better.)

The old lady at the mall really took her time pulling out of the parking space. I didn’t think she was ever going to leave. Finally, her car began to move and she started to slowly back out of the slot. I backed up a little more to give her plenty of room to pull out. Great, I thought, she’s finally leaving. All of a sudden, this black Camaro came flying up the parking aisle in the wrong direction and pulls into her space. I started honking my horn and yelling, "You can’t just do that, buddy. I was here first!" The guy climbed out of his Camaro, completely ignoring me. He walked toward the mall as if he didn’t even hear me. I thought to myself, this guy’s a jackass. (There sure a lot of jackasses in this world.) I noticed he had a "For Sale" sign in the back window of his car. I wrote down the number. Then, I hunted for another place to park. A couple of days later, I’m at home sitting at my desk. I had just gotten off the phone after calling jackass #1 and yelling, "You’re a jackass!" (It’s really easy to call him now since I have his number on speed dial.) I noticed the phone number of the guy with the black Camaro lying on my desk and thought I’d better call this guy, too.After a couple rings, someone answered the phone and said, "Hello."

I said, "Is this the man with the black Camaro for sale?"

"Yes, it is." "Can you tell me where I can see it?"

"Yes, I live at 1802 West 34th street. It’s a yellow house and the car’s parked right out front."

I said, "What’s your name?"

"My name is Don Hansen."

"When’s a good time to catch you, Don?"

"I’m home in the evenings."

"Listen, Don, can I tell you something?"


"You’re a jackass!" And I slammed the phone down. After I hung up, I added Don Hansen’s number to my speed dialer. For a while things seemed to be going better for me. Now when I had a problem, I had two jackasses to call. Then after several months of calling the jackasses and hanging up on them, it just wasn’t as enjoyable as it used to be. I gave the problem some serious thought and came up with a solution. First, I had my phone dial Jackass #1. A man answered and said (nicely), "Hello."

I yelled, "You’re a jackass!" but I didn’t hang up.

The jackass said, "Are you still there?"

I said, "Yeah."

He said, "Stop calling me."

I said, "No."

He said, "What’s your name, Pal?"

I said, "Don Hansen."

He said, "Where do you live?"

"1802 West 34th Street. It’s a yellow house and my black Camaro’s parked out front."

"I’m coming over right now, Don. You’d better start saying your prayers."

"Yeah, like I’m really scared, jackass!" and I hung up.

Then I called Jackass #2. "Hello."

I said, "Hello, Jackass!"

He said, "If I ever find out who you are…"

"You’ll what?"

"I’ll kick your butt."

"Well, here’s your chance. I’m coming over right now, jackass!" And I hung up. Then I picked up the phone and called the police. I told them I was at 1802 West 34th Street and that I was going to kill my lover as soon as he got home. Then I made a quick call to Channel 13 about the gang war going on down W. 34th Street. After that, I climbed into my car and headed over to 34th Street to watch the whole thing. Glorious! If you want to watch two jackasses kicking the crap out of each other in front of six squad cars and a police helicopter, I taped it off the evening news.

T-t-talkin’ Bout My Generation

October 16, 1998

A couple of weeks ago I ranted about things retro. This was, I admit, partly out of anger and a little fear. When I was a teenager, in the eighties, it was funny that the fifties and the sixties were making a comeback. When things from the seventies started showing up, it began to get annoying. When people started mining that vast cultural wasteland known as the eighties, when they started, in effect, talkin’ ’bout my generation, I got scared. I realized that my carefree youth, with its narrow leather ties, spiked hair, headbands, cut-up t-shirts, and completely synthetic music was behind me. And I was glad. When those things were brought back as part of the Better Living Through Nostalgia program, that was bad. But as as long as the eighties are coming back, why not bring back some of the more interesting inventions of that decade? I’m specifically thinking about paint guns, an invention which explains some of the fashions of the eighties.

I only had the joy of participating in one paint gun fight. Well, it wasn’t really a fight. A friend of mine had one paint gun. (It was a stroke of marketing genius to make paint guns too expensive for the average teenager to afford more than one. This created small arms races in suburban neighborhoods that took our mind off the big arms races going on at the time) From a distance of sixty feet, he aimed at my leg, and fired it at me. An object about the size and hardness of a marble knocked me to the ground. I was not, as I’d been led to believe would happen, splattered with a really cool shade of fluorescent green. Wow! Those really were the good old days.

Enjoy this week’s non-retro offering.

When I was in high school I used to be terrified of my girlfriend’s father, who I believe suspected me of wanting to place my hands on his daughter’s chest. He would open the door and immediately affect a good-naturedly murderous expression, holding out a handshake that, when gripped, felt like it could squeeze carbon into diamonds.

Now, years later, it is my turn to be the dad. Remembering how unfairly persecuted I felt when I would pick up my dates, I do my best to make my daughter’s suitors feel even worse. My motto: wilt them in the living room and they’ll stay wilted all night.

"So," I’ll call out jovially. "I see you have your nose pierced. Is that because you’re stupid, or did you merely want to APPEAR stupid?"

As a dad, I have some basic rules, which I have carved into two stone tablets that I have on display in my living room.

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you’d better be delivering a package, because you’re sure as heck not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, In order to assure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric staple gun and fasten your trousers securely in place around your waist.

Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilizing a "barrier method" of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I WILL kill you.

Rule Five: In order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is "early."

Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make YOU cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process which can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which feature chainsaws are okay. Hockey games are okay.

My daughter claims it embarrasses her to come downstairs and find me attempting to get her date to recite these eight simple rules from memory. I’d be embarrassed too–there are only eight of them, for crying out loud! And, for the record, I did NOT suggest to one of these cretins that I’d have these rules tattooed on his arm if he couldn’t remember them. (I checked into it and the cost is prohibitive.) I merely told him that I thought writing the rules on his arm with a ball point might be inadequate–ink washes off–and that my wood burning set was probably a better alternative.

One time, when my wife caught me having one of my daughter’s would-be suitors practice pulling into the driveway, get out of the car, and go up to knock on the front door (he had violated rule number one, so I figured he needed to run through the drill a few dozen times) she asked me why I was being so hard on the boy. "Don’t you remember being that age?" she challenged.

Of course I remember. Why do you think I came up with the eight simple rules?

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