Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Knee Deep in Trinkets

My wife and I were on our honeymoon. Our cruise ship had docked in sunny Puerto Rico and we had a few hours to roam around, drink Mojitos, look like stupid tourists and -- most important of all -- buy a bunch of junk for our closest friends and family.

I still don't understand why we feel compelled to grab crappy trinkets for the people we love most. But, there we were, bag of trinkets in hand, and it was time to head back to the ship.

We walked down the burning hot pavement several blocks back to the ramp where all of the other tourists on our cruise were beginning to line up like cattle to board the boat. I sighed with satisfaction, happy to be back after a long day of walking in the withering heat.

Suddenly, my wife gasped as if someone had stolen her purse.

"What?!" I said.

"My bag of [meaningless junk] is missing!!" said my wife.

Feeling chivalrous, I told her that I would happily run back and rescue the trinkets she had apparently left behind at the restaurant where we had eaten lunch. So, just as quickly, I set off back up the hill.

I was about 200 yards away from the ship. It was about that time that the heavens were ripped open and the most absurd tempest sent buckets of rain down on everything as far as the eye could see. So powerful was the tropical storm that in seconds I was drenched. Water slopped out of my shoes with each step.

It was pointless to turn around at that point, so I continued on my journey until I made it back to the restaurant. When I opened the door, everyone whirled around, paused for a moment and then burst out laughing at me.

With a knowing smirk, the guy behind the bar reached down and pulled out a cellophane bag with the very same trinkets my wife had left behind. I nodded, dripping water on the counter and headed back from whence I came, slipping a little bit in a puddle by the door.

I began racing back down the hill feeling triumphant. When I had made it half-way back to the boat, I noticed that the road had flooded with knee-deep water raging past. I didn't have much of a choice if I ever wanted to rejoin the cruise, so I waded in the water.

As an aside, I have a touch of the OCD. This is important as it comes in later. But, needless to say, I'm not a huge fan of germs.

Ok. So, back to the knee deep water and a mild sense of triumph as I neared the boat.

As quickly as the torrential rain had come, a terrible dread washed over me as I realized that the rush of water through the streets was fueled in large part by an overflowing sewer... That's right. I was knee deep in sewage-tainted waters!!

I threw up a bit in my mouth, raced back to the boat, handed the wife her bag o' junk without a word and ran straight to the shower. After a series of washing, rinsing and repeating, I then raced off to the chlorinated waters of the swimming pool.

It was several hours before I felt right again. Fortunately, we managed to stay married after "the incident," and to this day, I am suspicious of all tourist junk.

(Photos by Duygu and Heather)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Neck Pain Sucks

Ever wake up with slight discomfort in your neck? You tell yourself "it's fine" and "it'll go away." Then you go about your business.

You pour yourself some cereal and watch a little morning news before you hop in your car to go to work.

Everything seems just dandy until you turn to look in your rear-view mirror, and then.....

...and then you feel a sharp pain attack your neck like an angry pug.

This happened to me recently and the end result was that I had to walk around for two days unable to look at anyone without twisting my entire body.


Photo credit: Wuertele

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Behold the Epic Battle Between... Milk and Vodka??

Strange graffiti on a wall in Berlin... My money is on milk, as improbable as that may sound.

What strange graffiti have you seen on your travels?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lunchtime Terrors in Middle School

Remember the delicious food you got in middle school? Which is really to say: remember the atrocious, often unrecognizable foodesque products you got from the district?

It recently occurred to me that it's amazing anyone who ate this grub daily K-12 ever made it out of the education system alive. This is, of course, presuming you didn't have parents who cared enough to pack you a brown bag filled with kale and broccoli.

I remember the bell would ring and everyone would race to the cafeteria, sometimes shoving each other into lockers just to get ahead... because perish the thought that you weren't first in line for chicken chunks, green mush and soggy fries slathered with cheese slop!

As you rounded the corner, a wall of invisible cholesterol would hit you directly in the face and immediately cause your heart to palpitate. A warm greasy air would simultaneously fill your nostrils with a scent akin to a deep-fried sneaker.

Once you got to the cafeteria there was always one kind, grandmotherly lunch lady whom every kid loved, and another lunch lady who was about as friendly as a hell hound. The former would call you "honey" and give you extra cheese slop with a wink. The latter would order you to "behave" or "be quiet," all the while wishing you dead with her bloodshot eyes.

As you passed through the line, the object was to fill every section of your thin, Styrofoam tray with a different food-like substance.

Of course it depended on the day, but you could expect any one of the following appetizers, entrees and sides:

  • rib dippers - rubbery hockey pucks painted with a black line to fool you into thinking they had been grilled
  • chicken chunks - microscopic bits of chicken held together with gelatin (probably made from horse hooves)
  • nachos - soggy tortilla slathered with one pound of melty cheese, with a yellow color found nowhere in nature
  • corn dog - a hot dog wrapped in corn muffin batter and left in the fryer overnight
  • peanut butter and jelly - a peanut butter-flavored blob, topped with jelly and placed between white bread the color of new fallen snow
  • pizza - cardboard, marinara sauce and nine pounds of cheese 
  • pizza bagels - bagel-shaped cardboard, marinara sauce and nine pounds of cheese
  • tater tots - congealed potato chunks deep fried for several days
  • veggies - aka ketchup

These are some of the delicacies I enjoyed. What tasty treats did you enjoy in middle school??

Photo credit: John Murden

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Affirmations Make You Sound Like an Idiot

Today, as I was flipping through the channels, there was a motivational speaker telling her audience:

"Don't regret anything you've done. Everything you've done has made you the person you are today."


I suppose that works if it's a matter of choosing a profession, deciding to live in the "big city" or even ending a long-term relationship.

But, what if you stole money from your own ailing nanna, or hit your neighbor's dog and never told anyone??

Should you really not bother with regret? If you have absolutely no regrets, you're probably either a sociopath or highly medicated. Either way, nothing to brag about.

Also, there's the other part of the affirmation that is a bit off. The part that suggests that the person you are today is necessarily a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

What if the person you are today sucks?! What if you're a reaaally crappy person?

So, let's rephrase this motivational thought: "Don't regret any of the crappy things you've done in your past, because it's made you the crappy person you are today."


Photo courtesy of ettermago

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rollin' on Dubs

Perhaps one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed occurred in Davis Sq. in Somerville. I was biding my time, waiting to meet up with friends, when a this kid rolled up and parked his busted jalopy across the street from me.

The car was ridiculous enough to warrant the smirk that was quickly spreading across my face. It was powder blue. Had a dented fender. Looked as if it had been in mortal combat with a T-Rex and lost. Oh, and it had Duct Tape all over it, presumably straining to hold all the metal and chunks of plastic together.

I chuckled and scratched the back of my neck, about to turn my attention to a jogger racing by. I thought the show was over.

But, what the kid did next has given me the most powerful belly laughs and a great story to tell ever since.

He looked both ways while sitting in the drivers seat. Then, he quickly flopped into the back seat and squeezed his way out the back window -- apparently, because the driver-side door was no longer capable of opening!

Once out of the car, he looked around with a paranoid expression washing over his face, took three steps and over his shoulder...

No joke...

He locked the car with a remote car lock.

Beep. Beep.

I died laughing. I wanted to run over and say, "Dude, nobody's going to steal your car. Chances are they wouldn't even be able to get in if they wanted to, and they don't!"

Photo courtesy of Dr. Keats