May 22, 1998
Every 13 years Nashville gets infested, and I mean that in the most horrendous sense you can possibly imagine, with little red-eyed insects called cicadas. They fly around like drunk Russian airline pilots at a convention making an unbelievable amount of noise and, in some areas, blocking the sun for several hours a day. They come out of the ground at night as red-eyed wingless grubs, molt, and wait for the sun to come up so the festivities can begin. There are literally millions of them–I’m not exaggerating about this. And I consider it my sacred duty, as someone who as a child captured black widow spiders and even now is called in to pull snakes from gardens, to make sure everyone I know gets the full cicada experience. Cicadas in coffee cups, under desks, in chairs, down the backs of shirts…the possibilities for anyone who does not appreciate these creatures are endless.
But, the other night, something happened. I’ve heard that people who work calmly in reptile houses in zoos or handle huge numbers of roaches for horror films will, eventually, have a collective case of, well, the scientific term is "the willies". They’ll suddenly realize what they’re dealing with, and it will put them into a complete blind panic. I’ve always scoffed at these stories, but, the other night, having gotten up at midnight to take the dog out, I had my attack. The ground was moving, and as I stepped across the yard, I felt I was walking on what can only be described as stale potato chips and canned ravioli. Ugh. I was seized by a terrible fear and loathing. These things were DISGUSTING! Fortunately my weakness was only temporary, but it left me with a greater understanding of what some people feel. It made me sympathetic, tolerant, and deeply aware of how revolting insects can appear.
Yeah, and if you believe that, I’ll be more than happy to get you some coffee.
Faintly Flabby Earthlings are always on the lookout for a new diet. The trouble with most diets is that you don’t get enough to eat (the starvation diet), or you don’t get enough variation (the liquid diet), or you go broke (the all-meat diet). Consequently, people tend to cheat on their diets, or quit after 3 days, or go right back to stuffing their faces after it is all over. Is there nothing you can do but give up and tell your friends you have a gland problem? Or is there a slim hope?
Such is the new Toddler Miracle Diet! Over the years you may have noticed, as I have, that most two-year-olds are trim. It came to me one day over a cup of black coffee and a carrot that perhaps their diet is the reason.
After consultation with pediatricians, X-ray technicians, and distraught moms, I was able to formulate this new diet. It is inexpensive, offering great variety and sufficient quantity. Before embarking on this diet, however, be sure to check with your doctor… otherwise you might have to see him afterward. Good luck!
Breakfast – One scrambled egg, one piece of toast with grape jelly. Eat 2 bites of egg, using your fingers; dump the rest on the floor. Take 1 bite of toast, then smear the jelly over your face and clothes. Get some in your eyebrows too. It’ll give you something to pick at for several hours of satisfying appetite control.
Lunch – Four crayons (any color), a handful of potato chips, and a glass of milk (3 sips only, then spill the rest down your leg).
Dinner – A dry stick, two pennies and a nickel, 4 sips of stale beer.
Bedtime Snack – Toast piece of bread and toss it on the kitchen floor. Be sure to step on it and hear it go crunch!
Breakfast – Pick up stale crunched toast from kitchen floor and eat it. Drink half bottle of vanilla extract or one vial of vegetable dye. Um. Yummy!
Lunch – Half a tube of "Pulsating Pink" lipstick and a cigarette (to be eaten, not smoked). One ice cube, if desired.
Afternoon Snack – Lick an all-day sucker until sticky, take outside, drop in dirt. Retrieve and continue slurping until it is clean again. Then bring inside and drop on the rug. Wander away without thought.
Dinner – A rock or an uncooked bean, which should be thrust up your left nostril. Pour iced tea over mashed potatoes; eat with a large strainer spoon, since taking your time is vital to your dieting success.
Breakfast – Two pancakes with plenty of syrup, eat with fingers, rub in hair. Don’t pull it out later though. It hurts. Glass of milk: drink half, stuff remainder of picked over pancakes into glass. After breakfast, pick up yesterday’s sucker from rug, lick off fuzz, and put it on the cushion of your best chair. Wander away without direction.
Lunch – Three matches, peanutbutter and jelly sandwich. Spit several bites onto the floor. Pour glass of milk on table and slurp up. Smear a design on table with remaining milk. It’s good for your artistic expression.
Dinner – Dish of ice cream, handful of potato chips, some wine, and coffee.
Breakfast – A quarter-tube of toothpaste (any flavor), bit of soap, an olive. Pour a glass of milk over bowl of cornflakes, add a half-cup of sugar. Once cereal is soggy, drink milk and feed cereal to dog. Be sure to rub some in dog’s fur just for fun.
Lunch – Eat crumbs off kitchen floor and dining room carpet. Find that sucker and finish eating it.
Dinner – A glass of spaghetti and chocolate milk. Discard meatball on plate. Stick of mascara for dessert.
We remain competitive by paying less than our competitors.
JOIN OUR FAST-PACED COMPANY:
We have no time to train you and you’ll have to introduce yourself to your co-workers.
SEEKING ENTHUSIASTIC, FUN, HARD WORKING, PEOPLE:
…who still live with their parents and won’t mind our internship-level salaries.
CASUAL WORK ATMOSPHERE:
We don’t pay enough to expect that you’ll dress up; well, a couple of the real daring guys wear ear rings.
JOIN OUR DYNAMIC TEAM:
We all listen to nutty motivational tapes.
MUST BE DEADLINE ORIENTED:
You’ll be six months behind schedule on your first day.
SOME OVERTIME REQUIRED:
Some time each night and some time each weekend.
DUTIES WILL VARY:
Anyone in the office can boss you around.
MUST HAVE AN EYE FOR DETAIL:
We have no quality control.
COLLEGE DEGREE PREFERRED:
Unless you wasted those four years studying something useless like philosophy or English.
NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE:
We’ve filled the job; our call for resumes is just a legal formality.
SEEKING CANDIDATES WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF EXPERIENCE:
You’ll need it to replace three people who just left.
PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS A MUST:
You’re walking into a company in perpetual chaos.
REQUIRES TEAM LEADERSHIP SKILLS:
You’ll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect.
GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS:
Management communicates, you listen, figure out what they want, and then do it.