Saturday, March 26, 2011

Phrases that Need to be Retired

Second place is the first loser.

As we go to print, there is still not one documented case of an actual winner using this phrase. In reality, those who say it are ironclad losers trying to sound like their life is one big trophy case.

Size matters.

You will find this sentence in every commercial and magazine article, yet writers and advertisers present it like they're breaking a taboo. Even worse is the way they act like there is still some debate raging about whether size matters. I should capitalize by selling bumper stickers that say: "Size matters…and I vote!"

Palin is dumb.

I'm not sure who is dumber; Palin, or the people who say this like it is an original thought. When I hear this line, I reply with the equally insightful, "Wrestling is fake."

I like real women.

A guy usually states this at high volume in the presence of a girl who is self-conscious about her weight (i.e., every girl). And if he's really feeling it, he adds the old "emaciated women are disgusting" chestnut, followed by a shot at a "disgusting" chick like Heather Graham. Of course Heather Graham would actually be his first choice, but Ms. Graham would never settle for this pandering rube. So to score points with the human fish bowl he might have a prayer with, he pretends he is not "shallow" by saying he prefers the look of a “real” woman. Somehow everyone misses the fact that a preference for the "real" look is still a judgment based on looks. Wake up and smell the coffee ice cream.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pavlov and the Plus Sized

If you don’t have a crazy comedic pressure point, you’re probably not a real boy. It may not be a coincidence that your daddy’s name is Gepeto. Those of us without strings have certain situations, objects, and words that for some reason trigger outbursts of laughter that can’t be controlled.

One of my comedic pressure points is the sight of a really fat man in a suit. I don’t mean a mainstream overweight guy. I’m talking about a full-on, tanker-sized porkheap sporting his Sunday best. I see the buttons straining, I hear the pockets begging for mercy, I watch the tie hanging on him like a used condom, and my manners just evacuate.

One time I was headed to a meeting, and as I got in the elevator, I was joined by a well-dressed chap who was larger than life and most other things. And like this man’s belt buckle, I immediately started to come undone. I could feel the laughter rising, climbing, rising, and knew I would erupt if emergency measures weren’t taken.

I tried making myself sad by going to one of the dark places in my head, starting with the classics:

Chicks don’t like you.

People who could help your career don’t like you.

You don’t like you.

No effect. Not even the chains of self-hate could tie down this laughter revolt.

Making a bad situation worse [pregnant pause] I was headed for one of the top floors, so I had a long way to go. Plus it was mid-day--lunchtime--so the elevator was packed and stopping on almost every floor. The stars were against me.

I started bursting. Cheeks fluttering, ears popping like an airline passenger during takeoff. I’m not just shaking with suppressed laughter; I’m palseying with it. And there is nowhere to run. A few more seconds and I am going to unleash enough inappropriate giggles to get me kicked out of civilization forever.

Whatever crumbs of my brain weren’t busy indulging the spectacle kicked in just enough to give me an idea. I grabbed my cell phone and pretended I’d just gotten a hilarious text, then threw my head back in the well known “This is so funny I need to give my skull a headstart” fashion, and right as the guffaws started flowing, the elevator doors opened. It was my floor.

I jumped through the doors and lost it. It was the kind of laughter not usually heard outside asylums.

A lot of trembling. A lot of panting. More mucus than I would have liked.

Suddenly I remembered where I was and why I was there. I was there for a meeting, and needed to be on-point, or at the very least, not laughing at things no one else could see. Knowing this did not calm me at all. I'd held the laughter so long the tension of suppressing it had created a monster.

I’m not sure exactly how long it took, but the laughter eventually stopped. I looked up, and through the transparent security door, I could see I was being gawked at by the receptionist for the firm I was supposed to visit.


I now had to approach the security door and hope that a woman who had just watched me stand alone in a corridor laughing myself spastic didn’t deem me a security risk. I think it would have been better if I had just hit the intercom and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I just saw a really fat guy in the elevator who was wearing a suit.”

Better to be labeled crass than a mentally unsound curiosity.

Now you’re all wondering: did she let me in?

Did Oswald shoot Kennedy?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Practical Love Songs 3

Stephen Stills’s “Love the One You’re With” has many flaws. A forgettable melody and some ill-placed “do do dos” are just two of the things it doesn’t have going for it. However, “Love the One You’re With” packs a critical message you ignore at your peril.

If you're down and confused
And you can't remember who you're talkin' to
Concentration slips away
'Cuz your baby is so far away

And if you can't be with the one you love
Honey love the one you're with

No one ends up with the companion they want. Instead, they eventually crunch the numbers, evaluate the mate they’ve hoodwinked, and figure: ”Well this one doesn’t seem to be dumping me, and I’m not getting any younger, so why the hell not?”

And though part of their brain may recognize they are settling, most folks never seem to fully reconcile this, which is what keeps marriage counselors in Courvoisier.

This inability to accept that they have settled is why so many idealize their high school sweetheart as some magical “one that got away.” For those still attending the Church of the High School Sweetheart, listen up: You were in high school, a time when what little free will we have is sublimated by tectonic hormonal shifts. Back then, you didn’t even grasp that the prom was just another dance. You didn’t even like dancing. You hated dressing up. You couldn’t wait for the bell to ring so you could get the hell out of school. Yet you allowed yourself to be convinced that that DANCE, which involved DRESSING UP, and was held AT SCHOOL, was a life and death crisis. And in the midst of all that confusion, you think you somehow had clarity about LOVE, the most esoteric facet of human existence?


Don't be angry, don't be sad
Don't sit cryin' of about the good times you had
There's a girl right next to you
And she's just waiting for something to do

Something to do. That’s marriage in a nutshell. Marriage is primarily a way of avoiding spinsterdom. Being lonely is awful. Being lonely and old drives many seniors to literal insanity. When couples glorify growing old together, it isn’t because growing old together is romantic. It is because it is a relief to know you won’t grow old alone: “Whew, at least I’ll have a sidekick as I creep toward oblivion!”

Probably the biggest reason to settle down is to be saved from the embarrassment of dating in your forties. The 40-something bar scene gives new meaning to the term “last call,” and 40-something office romances either end with a lawsuit or with someone getting chased by a jilted, shotgun-wielding spouse. That leaves Internet dating, which involves the use of a technology that didn’t even exist when you were learning the ropes of courtship. Nothing says old and desperate like two grizzled singles pronouncing LOL as “lull.”

Settle down has the word settle in it for a reason. 99% of you aren’t going to be with the one you love, so devote your energy to loving the one you’re with. Life sucks. May as well have some company.