Archive for March, 2010

Not my best idea ever

sphereI was doing a little spring cleaning at my office, and I came across a piece of paper with some unrelated notes on it.   There was something about a meeting, a phone number with no name attached, and then a little note that made me laugh.  I said to my coworker Rob, “You know how you often tell me I’m good with words and generally pretty clever?”  He agreed.  “Well, take a look at this.”  I handed him the paper and pointed to the note, but he understandably couldn’t read all of my handwriting so I had to then read it aloud: “Be Here or Be a Sphere – for a gym campaign.”  “That’s not bad,” Rob said.  “It’s horrible!  What are you talking about?  Be a sphere?  That’s awful!”  “You don’t think some gym somewhere is using that slogan?”  “I sure hope not,” I said, “because it’s fucking terrible.” 

I don’t know why I ever thought that would be a good idea (especially since I don’t work with gym owners who are looking for slogans), but I even put a little star next to it.  It’s not catchy, there’s an extra syllable in there that throws the whole thing off, and…it doesn’t really make sense.  “Round” makes sense (but doesn’t rhyme), while “sphere” is too extreme, a bit confusing, and way over-complicated.  Kinda like my retelling of this tale, I suppose.  Fine, I can take a hint.

What goes a round

happy gilmoreMy lovely and very large wife will be giving birth within the next five days. Naturally, almost every phone call for the past couple of weeks has involved, “How’s she feeling?” I’ve told a few people, “Pretty good still. I mean, she’s pretty uncomfortable, but that’s par for the course.” Well I finally thought about that phrase that I’ve been saying automatically.

People associate “par” with the status quo. After all, that’s the number of strokes in which a golfer should be able to get it in the cup. It makes sense on that level, sure. Here’s the problem though: par’s really good for almost everyone in the world. My dad is probably the best golfer I know, and if he went out and had 18 pars, it would probably be the best round of his life. Does that sound like “status quo” to you? Hell, if I could get two or three pars, I’d probably be riding my putter Happy Gilmore-style around the green. I don’t go out to a course often at all, and when I do, it’s seldom anything that anyone would refer to as “golf.” I swing the club, the ball sometimes moves, and I eventually meander up to the green and three- or four-putt en route to shooting a score around my weight. When I’m with my friends though, I could shoot Kirstie Alley’s weight and I’d still have fun. Someday years in the future, I hope to actually pick up the game and get a little better at it. Until then, I’m content with my shittiness.
So next time someone asks me how my lovely wife is feeling, if I hear myself use the phrase, “par for the course,” I’ll follow up with, “So considerably better than I’d be doing.”

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Always be prepared

ExtenzeI have a co-worker that fashions himself a prankster of sorts.  He likes trying to put me in awkward positions, but since I know they’re coming, I’m often prepared with a retort.  For example, if the alleged penis-growing product Extenze comes up in conversation (which happens way more often than you might expect), he’ll point at me and say, “You know all about that product; how’s it working for you?”  I’m ready for that, so I say, “Well they keep contacting me to be the ‘After’ picture, but I don’t like to brag.”  I might change it up and say, “I wanted to try it, but they said for safety reasons that I should just stand pat.”  The jokee becomes the joker, order is restored, and we go back to the conversation at hand.

Last week,  I was in an elevator with that guy, a young lady from our office, and three people from another office that I see around but have never officially met.  “So what did the doctor say about that cold sore?” my co-worker asked me with a poorly-stifled grin.  I had two options: either dismissively say, “Very funny,” or play along.  I’m guessing you already know which option I chose.  “He’s impressed,” I said.  “Is it still green?” “No, purple actually, which is kinda cool.”  “Still got lots of pus?”  I decided to kick it up a notch with, “I’ll show you tonight before we climb into bed.”  And scene.  He was stumped just long enough for the elevator doors to open and for one of the guys I don’t know to say, “Is it getting warm in here?” before walking out.  I think the plan of embarrassing me backfired just a little there.  In all seriousness though, I really should get that thing checked out.

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That’s bullshit: Field trip edition

That's Bullshit!Yesterday morning, I was trying to walk as lightly as possibly while getting dressed for work as my lovely wife was sleeping in.  When I walked past the bedroom door to get my jacket from another room, I got a sudden flashback to a field trip from way back in elementary school.  It was at some kind of nature preserve or something.  I’d tell you more, but that’s all I got.  Our tour guide was a lady who told us that if we didn’t want to spook the animals living in the nearby bushes, we should all walk toe-heel, toe-heel.  That’s the quietest way to walk, she told us.  Well now that I think back on it, I’m pretty sure she did that just to make us look like jackasses to our teachers and volunteering parents.  I bet the adults shared knowing smiles at how cutely misled the class was.  I don’t doubt that it was adorable to watch a couple dozen kids creeping around like cartoon bad guys, but it’s no fun to realize that you were being played…twenty years too late.  That’s bullshit!

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Man on a mission

keypadI had an unexpected sensation in the bathroom last week.  That didn’t sound quite right, so maybe I should back up and explain. 

I apologize for the frank nature of this discussion, but your friend P-Dawg likes to keep it real.  Sometimes that involves admitting that I have to, from time to time, vacate my bowels.  You can handle that, right?  Well, last week I had the sudden realization that such an event was about to happen in the very near future.  I hurriedly walked out of my office and to the men’s room across the hall.  The bathroom door has a keypad on it to keep out the riffraff, but recently it hasn’t been closing 100% of the way so anyone can just push it open.  Well that I did, my friends.  Right in stride, I forcefully pushed the door open.  In one fluid motion as I entered the room, I expertly whipped off my suit jacket en route to the stall. Then it hit me: I totally just felt like a superhero changing into his outfit to go save the day.  It was the combination of a purposeful walk, pushing my way in somewhere, and the fast jacket removal that combined to give me that sensation.  

I have to admit, it was a bit of a letdown to go from potentially saving the day to merely taking a shit.  That said, if I think about it long enough, I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere about intestinal fortitude.

Phrasing hell

negativeI have three phrases I’d like to discuss today, class.   Since I like making up group names that I’ll immediately forget, I’ll call these phrases, “The Great Negators.”  They’re not really that great, to be honest, but sometimes rhyming trumps accuracy.

First up, have you ever made a solid point to someone who disagrees with you only to have him/her reply with, “Yeah, but still”?  I’ve grown to really like that phrase for a specific reason: at first, I thought it meant absolutely nothing and was just a place holder of sorts.  But then I looked closer and realized that “Yeah, but still” actually meant, “I understand that you just made an argument, but it had no effect whatsoever on my original stance.”  So now I like it. 

“Yeah, but still” has a sibling phrase, don’t ya know?  (No, it’s not “don’t ya know,” but thank you for playing.)  Here it is: “I’m just sayin’.”  Very similar in usage, but possibly an even Greater  Negator because there’s no “but” or word that sounds at all like it’s refuting anything.  Instead, it just tells the original speaker, “You may have some valid points in what you just said, but I’m not swayed in the slightest.”  It’s probably short for, “Yeah, but I still think I’m right,” yet it doesn’t come across as nearly as haughty. 

It’s gotten to the point that when someone says one of those two phrases, I find myself saying the other one. It gets a little confusing, but at least I know what I’m doing.  And then I chuckle to myself. 

I happen to find today’s third phrase fascinating.  Tell me friends, has anyone ever said, “That’s all well and good” and actually meant that?  You can hear the “but” just waiting to get in there and turn the phrase from a seemingly-agreeable one to something more challenging.  In fact, leaving the phrase out there as “That’s all well and good” feels too incomplete to me, like I’m missing something until the “but” arrives.  (Insert your own Jennifer Lopez joke here.)  It’s like if someone were to say, “On the other hand…” and just stop there.  Something needs to follow – though it could be almost anything.  In the “well and good” example, we’re clearly waiting for the “but.” (Insert your own Marc Anthony joke here to bring it full circle.)

That’s it for me.  Hopefully I’ve made clear enough cases that next time you hear a Great Negator, whether it be “Yeah, but still,” “I’m just sayin’,” or “That’s all well and good,” you think to yourself, “Hey, I read something about those phrases.  What was that post about?  Oh yeah, Jennifer Lopez.”

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I best recognize

grease pencilI went to Whole Foods yesterday after work, and I was nearly done shopping when I turned down an aisle and saw a woman walking toward me.  I recognized her almost immediately, and so I smiled, nodded, and uttered a little “Hey” to her as we neared each other.  She smiled back, but her eyes said, “I have no idea who you are.”  After we’d passed each other, I realized why she might not remember me: apparently not everyone recognizes people who sat near them in an airport terminal.  It was only two weeks prior, but we never said a word to each other at the airport nor did we even make eye contact (that I can remember).  She and her husband/boyfriend/friend/brother/other were sitting in my row of seats before lining up to board the plane, and at one point she got up and went to the restroom.  There’s no reason for me to recognize her now, but even less of a reason for me to say, “Hey.”

Because of my strange memory, this wasn’t the first – or worst – time that this has happened.  Back in junior high school, my brain’s ability to recall faces provided me with many awkward encounters.  I’ll explain.  I worked on the yearbook staff my 8thgrade year.  While I’m sure yearbook staffs now across the country use sophisticated computer programs for layouts, cropping, etc., we had nothing of the kind.  In fact, to crop a photo, we needed to use real sliding rulers and a grease pencil to specify what we wanted to remain of a picture.  Additionally, we had to physically attach pictures to the graph paper with the hand-drawn layouts and send them in to the printer.  I was in a small group of students responsible for the class photos of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.  I spent many days matching pictures to names and affixing them to the sheets.  Well, my brain thought it was a good idea to retain some of that information (without consulting me). 

Here’s how that manifested itself:

  1. I’d be walking down the hall and see a young lady. 
  2. Her name would pop into my head. 
  3. I’d subconsciously think, “Since I know her name, we must be friends.” 
  4. I’d say hi or wave or do something similarly friendly.  
  5. She’d look at me like I was an idiot.   

And rightfully so, might I add.  It’s not like the woman at the airport who had a chance to forget seeing me in the first place; these students had never seen me or known I existed.  Yet there I was trying to say hi to them because I thought I knew them.  It was very confusing, and even when I figured out what was going on, it was virtually impossible to stop.

In any case, I returned home from Whole Foods with the right kind of ice cream that my lovely and pregnant wife said “the babies wanted.”  So I still consider the trip a success.

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A good impression

saladAs I grabbed the food from the counter and started walking toward my office, I noticed a man sitting about twenty feet away from me in the little lobby area smiling in my direction.  I tried to conceal the wave of a particular emotion I felt and simply smiled back and nodded before walking past him.  What emotion was that?  Oh, that would be embarrassment.  I sat down at my desk and replayed in my head the entire scene that had just transpired…

“Beep beep beep beep,” the door to the office said as I deftly punched in the code.  I needed to be deft, of course, because I was balancing three different lunches in my hands that I’d graciously picked up for two co-workers and myself.  I used my not-so-prominent backside to push the door open and turned the corner to face two of my co-workers.  I plopped the bags down on the counter and asked, “Wanna hear something kinda freaky?”  They said they did.  “Ok, so since I’m weird, I sometimes count the steps that I take from one place to the next.”  “Why?” asked the one who hasn’t known me for very long.  “So that I can know approximately how many steps that trip will be in the future, of course,” I replied.  “That totally sounds like something you’d do,” she said (finally getting it).  “So guess how many steps I took from my first one out of the restaurant to the one that brought me to that door.”  They looked at me for a second before one said, “Oh, you really want us to guess?  Uh, 200.”  “250,” guessed the other.  “Ah how little you know.  200 wouldn’t even get me to the street.  Ready for this?  6…6…6.” “Wow,” the first one said not very convincingly.  “The mark of the beast!  I hope that’s just a coincidence and not a sign that my walk was sponsored by Satan,” I said.  We then spoke for a minute or two about the number of steps people should take each day, and then I took the food out of the bags.  I then explained that I liked the creamy Italian dressing more than the balsamic one because it was better for dipping the bread.  I also talked about why I like the particular salad I ordered and proceded to show it off like it was a prize-winning heifer. (People show those off, right?)

That’s about when I turned and saw the stranger sitting nearby and smiling at me.  He was dressed nicely and clearly waiting for my boss to come in for a meeting.  My only hope was that the meeting didn’t start with, “So who’s that weird guy who counts his steps, talks about Satan, and is very proud in his ability to choose a tasty salad?”  Once the man and my boss were behind closed doors, I walked back out to the front and quietly asked, “Um, next time someone’s sitting there and I start spouting my usual nonsense, can you give me some indication so that I stop before I go too far?”  They laughed and agreed, but then the newer co-worker said, “Wait a minute, you don’t want them to hear you being you, but it’s ok for us to hear that kind of stuff multiple times a day?”  “You’re catching on,” I said, and I turned to start heading back to my kick-ass salad.  It was only 22 steps away.

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That Blows

Every day when I leave work, I have to swipe my parking card to open the mechanical gate that separates me from freedom.  I’m pretty good about putting the card in the same spot so I always know where it is, but sometimes it slides around when I’m competing in rally racing (I have a Subaru) or evading the authorities (I’m a badass).  The other night, the card was not in its normal spot.  When I got to the attendant I explained that I couldn’t find my card and the following conversation took place:

Parking Attendant:  Sorry sir, if you can’t find the card, you’ll have to pay $6 to exit.

Me:  Okay, I’m going to get out of the car and see if it slipped under the seat, just let me know if someone is pulling up behind me, I don’t want to hold up the line.

Parking Attendant:  No problem sir, take your time.

(30 seconds passed before I found it under the front passenger seat)

Me:  Got it.

Parking Attendant:  Great.  Have a nice evening.

Totally normal conversation.  It certainly didn’t prepare me for what happened next.  In my rearview mirror, I saw the attendent step out of his both, walk into the middle of the roadway, put his hands on his knees and violently projectile vomit.  We’re talking SNL skit or Exorcist level spewing.   I was about to stop and check on him, when he stood straight up and calmly walked back to the booth without any signs of discomfort or embarassment.  No big deal.  It was as if he just walked out to have a smoke or water the plants.  Wait, maybe he was watering the plants… with his vomit.