The Daily Dump

A place where everyone (me) is welcomed to express their opinions openly and honestly. I encourage free thinking, free wheeling, off-the-cuff banter and monetary donations.

Friday, June 30

Your Weekly Round Up Of Everything Important That Is Happening In The News From The Past 20 Minutes That I've Seen

Things I care about more than Star Jones on “Larry King”:

- what time it is
- the new Pottery Barn catalogue
- the wet spot on my pants from when I washed my hands, even though it’s almost dry by now
- whether or not I’m taking the right multivitamin for me
- this

And while we’re making lists, while in Maine last weekend I watched a show on Animal Planet about a woman who devotes her life to saving skunks. An actual quote from the show by a local veterinarian: “Her devotion to skunks is remarkable.”

Things I would rather devote myself to than skunks:

- a murders right to a vigorous defense
- the proper usage of “whom”
- shrubbery sculpting
- a resurgence in the use of scrolls for important documents
- this

105-year-old bowler leaves his

When I saw this headline I thought, “Wow, did a 105 year old guy bowl a perfect game?” Then I read the article and it’s just about how he’s 105, and he bowls. His average is a pedestrian 106, meaning he will soon join an elite club made up of my little sister and everyone else who tried to bowl at age 2 and rolled an average lower than their age.

Bin Laden wants Zarqawi buried in homeland

Yeah, and I want a personal concert by the Bangles circa 1986 but we don’t always get what we want. Especially when we follow our demands with, “Oh and we will continue to attack you and kill you and bring glory to Allah through global jihad, blah, blah, you’ve heard it before.”

J. Crew shares do well in IPO debut

Executives are asking everyone to celebrate by “getting out that sweater you haven’t really worn in four years.”

Childhood crush responds to Taylor Hicks

Two weeks after Taylor Hicks discussed his first crush as a young boy, the woman from his past has contacted People magazine.

The "American Idol" winner told People in a recent interview that he never forgot his first crush: "I was in the second grade; she was in the sixth." He added that ever since, he's always liked older women.

"He was such a fun kid," Worsham, 32, said. "I'm married. But I'd like to reconnect. He was like a brother to me."

One, how nervous are you if you are this woman’s husband. She just wants to reconnect with a guy who will be worth millions within the year? Two, can somebody please get a copy of Taylor Hicks’ birth certificate? Three, if he’s younger than 32 I don’t see why scientists aren’t clamoring to study him before his advanced aging reaches the point where he explodes like the guy at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade who chose the wrong cup.

911 caller: I think I'm cut in half by train (video)

You have to watch the clip. If I was this guy, the call would have gone more like this:

911: “State your emergency.”


911: “OK, tell me where you are.”


911: “Someone got run over by a rail car?”

Me: (suddenly composed) “Are you kidding me? You missed the part where I told you that I was run over by a train? And I was cut in half? You glossed over that part? Were you typing something and you just didn’t hear it? Because it seems to me it would be the kind of thing that would stick out in a conversation.”

Take note, if you ever find yourself in an emergency in Texas, don’t call 911. Try to take care of the problem yourself, and if that doesn’t work it’ll probably still be quicker to find your own transportation to the hospital. You know, taxi, bus, bike, whatever you have handy. Just don’t get a 911 operator on the phone, because apparently they just love to chat.

Everyone have a great long weekend. I’m going to be up in Montreal, our great kind-of French neighbors to the north, which I understand isn’t the best place to be celebrating Independence Day (or as they call it “that alien movie with the Fresh Prince”), but it decidedly is the best place to eat crepes, drink wine, listen to jazz and mingle with the sophisticated population who are, as one friend said, “afflicted with the plague of thin waists and huge breasts.” So to all readers from Montreal: Keep your daughters inside (I’m bringing friends) and I’ll be somewhere on Cresent Street Saturday watching the France-Brazil World Cup game. So come on down and look for the guy drinking wine straight from the bottle screaming, “Use your hands! Come on dipshit, USE YOUR HANDS!”

Thursday, June 29

The Band Aid As Fashion, An Indefensible Position

In college I was considered by many some myself to be a pretty argumentative person. I was always “the devil’s advocate” – in English classes I would argue that symbolism in The Tempest is a clear indication that Christopher Marlowe was writing all the works attributed to Shakespeare, and in my philosophy classes I would argue that Wittgenstein’s theory of atomic facts actually broadened the horizons of an Epistemological dialogue (Oh the folly!). Indeed, I once even helped out a friend who had a run in with her RA for burning candles in her dorm by writing a “punishment essay” for her. The topic was supposed to be “Why candles are dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed in dorms” but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to argue the importance of candles. I wrote:

The truth of the matter is that candles are dangerous. But so is life. The primary purpose of a college is to educate students, yes. The secondary purpose of college is to prepare students for the workforce and provide the knowledge and skills necessary to develop a career centered around personal and professional success, yes. But the tertiary purpose of college it to also prepare students for the rest of life; the responsibility of owning a home, of paying bills, of being civic minded, and, yes, of not setting those homes that they own on fire.

I then quoted W.B. Yeats (“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”) concluding that:

. . . I understand the danger of candles; but I also understand the danger of the absence of candles. Should a time come when we need to fill our pail, we shall do so. But until then, let the proliferation of our education ignite a fire.

She wasn’t kicked out of the dorms, and I attributed that less to her unrefundable full-year payment than to my irrefutable logic.

So when my friend Scott wore a bacon styled band aid to his own birthday party last week, I felt the need to defend his actions, even while everyone was asking the obvious question: Why is there a strip of bacon on your neck?

Well why wouldn’t you want a strip of bacon on your neck? Not only are pigs delicious, but several countries, including Chile, Germany and China, consider the pig to be good luck. Even Winston Churchill once said, “Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."

But even more than the pig being a cultural icon of fortune and hope, the “idea” of “pig as bacon” harkens one back to the most pleasant memories of childhood: holiday mornings with presents under the tree and bacon in the frying pan, that smell wafting through the house as you unwrap your Castle Greyskull play set, and the distant chorus of grease popping, Dad crying “Ah shit!” in refrain; those nights at the diner in high school with the waitress you called Flo, who probably spit in your lumberjack special, which at 2:00 in the morning made sense even though the girl with the tongue ring you were sharing it with didn’t; in college, on spring break, when you ate entire breakfasts of bacon and coffee, and if you happened to be drunk already you threw some of the bacon off the balcony of your condo, thinking to your dangerously dehydrated self “flying pigs!”; and at your current age, when a piece of bacon is just another dollar bill stuffed in the g-string of an impending heart attack, still the double edged seduction of bovine on the right and an arterial blockage on the left is not only a dance in which you are willing to partake, but one you will dance with a Latin flair.

So why wear a bacon band aid? Because it’s not a bacon band aid – it’s a calcification of joyful memories covering an open wound, protecting you, healing you, making you look like Nelly, and most importantly showing everyone else that while you may be the hardened cowboy incapable of wearing your heart on your sleeve, you can at least wear your impending heart disease on your sleeve.

Note: In my research, I came across The Band-Aid “Stick With It” Awards. The rules of submission are to tell them, in 200 words or less, of your unique, inspirational story where you could have given up, but you stuck with it. The winner gets a trip to Universal Studios.

I was already halfway through mentally composing my essay about becoming one of the elite roller bladers in my neighborhood growing up when I read the fine print that the contest is “open to kids ages 4- 12 at time of entry.” I guess the line “Together with your parent or guardian share your story and enter for a chance to win!” should have clued me in earlier, but I was just so excited to share my story with the world. Now, in an ironic twist, I feel a little crushed – like I need a Band-Aid myself on the inside.

Wednesday, June 28

At Some Point I Really Need To Write An Existentialist Short Story Entitled “Keep In Mind That The Closest Exit May Be Behind You”

I’m struggling to play catch-up here at work (as well as readjust to the fact that I’m no longer surrounded by woods and lobster and this large thing next to my chair isn’t a cooler full of Blue Moon but rather a filing cabinet full of . . . things I should know more about than I do). But I think one quick story can about sum up the weekend:

Saturday night, The Girlfriend’s friends and family and I sat down after barbecue and drinks to play a board game called Zobmondo!!. Really, there’s little point to the game other than to pose inane “Would you rather . . .” questions to one another within a minimal structure that allows you to do so without having to actually say, “How about we all sit down and ask each another ‘Would you rather . . .’ questions?” which is one of those things that really everyone enjoys doing, but would never admit to a crowd. So we set up five teams of two and each team draws a card with five “Would you rather . . .” questions written on it. They then read the question in the color corresponding to what color space they are on the board (much like trivial pursuit). Then the team reading the question has to guess how everyone else will answer.

The game is rolling along and the questions are innocent enough (Would you rather swallow a golf ball or pee out a marble? Would you rather drink Mexican tap water or water from a hot tub after a frat party?) until The Girlfriend decides that the game is too “structured” and we should just pick a card and read the best question, colors be damned. So when it comes to The Girlfriend’s friend Ann and her husband David, everyone watches as they scan the card saying, “No, not that one, boring, OH YES THAT ONE!” We get excited in anticipation of the question and also because we are drunk and drunks are easily excitable, especially about board games with not one but TWO exclamation points in the title.

Finally, Ann reads the question, and quite loudly in fact, as though she were unsure of herself and thought the best thing to do would be feign confidence with increased volume:


There is a stunned silence after just hearing the word “masturbation” said rather loudly in the company of The Girlfriend’s parents. Everyone is shifting and laughing awkwardly and saying, just to get it over with quickly, “Definitely the first one, you know, being caught.” People unrelated to the family are nervously scanning the relatives, running the family tree of possible combinations through their mind:

The Girlfriend being caught by her Mother, The Girlfriend catching her Mother.

The Girlfriend’s sister being caught by her Mother, The Girlfriend’s sister catching her Mother.

The Girlfriend’s brother being caught by his mother, The Girlfriend’s brother catching his mother . . .

until finally the discussion is coming to a close and The Girlfriend’s father, who has said little during the entire game thus far, speaks up and says, “Well I’m pretty sure I’d rather be caught myself, than, you know, catch your grandmother . . .” The room erupts at the unveiling of the one combination that everyone’s respective subconscious had been protecting them from. The Girlfriend hits me on the leg and says, “Make me another drink. Now,” and, after everyone calms down, Ann innocently says, “I thought it would be funny.” Funny, indeed.

Later that night, everyone is getting ready for bed and The Girlfriend’s father and I are left alone in the living room watching TV. After a few minutes the silence becomes tense, but rather than say anything that might elicit a memory from the past two hours, I say the safest thing I possibly can:

“Turned out to be a pretty nice day, didn’t it?”

(Note: In order to win the game, you have to create your own “Would you rather . . .” question at the very end. My potential game-winning question, had we even come close to winning, was to be: Would you rather drown a litter of puppies or shoot an elderly person? At least in my mind the answer is pretty obvious.)

Friday, June 23

If My Plane Gets Struck By Lightening, This Will Probably Be My Last Post

As The Girlfriend and I get ready to go up to Maine for four days to visit her parents, I can focus on only two things – the weather, and the monitor of this guy in my office who keeps calling me over to show me forwards his friend sent him featuring lame jokes and naked women (e.g. the forward reads, in large, obnoxious text: “Don’t you love coming home from playing 18 holes of golf and your wife greeting you at the door with a can of cold beer?” Scroll down to picture of topless model lifting a keg of Heineken. Cue awkward laughter as I back out of the room, leaving no opportunity for him to stop mid-laugh and say, “So really, Dan, how does this picture make you feel?”

Thanks for the awkward memories!

But mostly I’m concerned with the weather, specifically that it’s supposed to rain every single day we’re there. And seeing as how we’re staying in a cabin on a lake, miles and miles away from even a grocery store (hours away from anywhere serving Ketel One) not being able to go outside is “unfortunate” in the same way making plans to meet someone over the internet and finding out you’re really on Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” is “unfortunate.” (If you’re keeping a tally of child endangerment jokes, that’s two.)

Even more than that, we’ve decided not to drive the nine hours this year, as doing so in past trips has led to hysteria and the inevitable discussion of which closer state we should make her parents move to, which I’m sure they just love. The frequency with which they hear someone say “You live far away” is about equal to the frequency with which an Arab hears someone say “U-S-A! U-S-A!” Plus the flight was actually cheaper than the price of renting a car. So when you think about it, I’m a real asshole for ever driving in the first place. Rock on.

At every turn today, I’ve been talking to people about the weather, hoping that maybe they have some sort of insight into nature that weather forecasters don’t. Like maybe I’ll happen to ride the elevator with the one old investment banker in my building who just happens to have run a farm for the first 40 years of his life, who will tell me, “Those weather forecasters don’t know their ass from their foot. I woke up this morning and the leaves on the trees weren’t even showing their top-side. The rain’s at least a quarter fortnight away.”

Instead, I’ve heard the same thing over and over.

“Rain for the next four days. Of course. It always rains on the weekend. Always.” – Old woman handing out AM New York outside the subway station

“I was supposed to have a barbecue this weekend. Now I guess I’ll just sit inside and drink all weekend.” – Staples sales assistant (who may be suicidal)

“We’re gonna be swimming in it this weekend.” – deli counter worker

“Yaaaah. Rain all the time.” – Dunkin Donuts employee

“Freaking weatherman, if only I could be wrong 50% of the time at my job and not be fired.” – angry, chubby man in elevator (Note: I have spoken to this man at least three times over the years and every time it has been about the weather and every time he has said exactly that, as though he actually resents the weatherman.)

Which makes me wonder (Carrie Bradshaw voice): why is everyone always so eager to talk about the weather? Why, when a conversation is struck up between strangers, does the topic invariably come around to the weather? Is it that men are such bumbling idiots who don’t know what they want, and women can be empowered by their sexuality, but only to the point where they find a rich man to settle down with? Or maybe it’s just because women, like the weather, change everyday. And if that’s the case (focus in on computer screen) when will the weather . . . stop being so much like the weather?

Whether it is an innocuous comment like, “Can you believe the snow out there?!” or something more subtle like, “It’s so gorgeous out today, isn’t it?” or when someone comes back from vacation and, as though scripted, you say, “How was your trip?” and they respond “It was great. We had a lot of fun and the weather was perfect,” there’s no denying that when there is nothing else to say, the forecast is the topic of choice. And while it’s a joke of a cliché to “talk about the weather,” and everyone is willing to make fun of the person who says, “Hot enough for you?” the fact remains that just because you word it a little differently and instead say, “I love hot weather as much as the next guy, but this is a little much,” doesn’t exculpate you from the societal weather conversation.

And honestly, I find nothing wrong with that. Because while I may want for a more meaningful interaction with my fellow man (I am a humanist, after all) I understand that the weather is the one thing that everyone has in common (besides the fact that we will all die a meaningless death someday, but the last time I said to a girl, “So, does it bother you that there’s nothing after you die and the world will go on without you for eternity?” she just cried and cried and then I paid or my groceries and had to leave). Through different jobs, different families, seeing different movies, participating in different governments, having different sex with different people, peering in different people’s windows late at night, hiding different charges on different credit cards for different German websites (that’s three), eating different food and telling different lies to your friends about that thing on your lip; through different emotions, different brands of bottled water, different ways to skin a cat, different ways to answer the question “Who are you and what are you doing with my dog?” – through all that we are all subject to THE WEATHER. So if we occasionally grasp for that, for a moment just to fondle our sameness, I say, Ask away.

Which doesn’t change the fact that in six hours I will be flying through a lightening storm grabbing The Girlfriend’s hand saying, “IF WE DIE, KNOW THAT I’M SORRY I YELLED AT YOU FOR LEAVING YOUR SOCK ON THE COUCH!” And at the tail end of that flight I will be kayaking during a torrential downpour trying to convince everyone that “it’s not so bad” as the family dog hides under a log whimpering at me. But no matter, because if nothing else we’ll have plenty to talk about. And fondling someone’s sameness takes a lot longer than you might expect.

Especially if you’re hanging out with these guys.

Thursday, June 22

“America’s Got A Lot Of Shitheads”

Unfortunately, I caught five minutes of “America’s Got Talent” last night.

I’ve decided that it would be OK if the studio burned down while this show was being taped. OK in the sense like when a loved one has cancer, and they’ve been fighting it and fighting it for months and months and you know they’re in pain and as much as it saddens you you know it would be better off if they just let go and you sit by their bed and say, “It’s OK, you can let go.” Only instead of a loved one, it’s someone I hate. And instead of a battle with cancer, it’s going on this fucking show. And instead of letting go, it’s more like “being engulfed in a hellfire.”

If this guy was related to me, every Christmas I would give him a box full of crap, until he got the hint.

This woman is giving thumbs down to the balloon guy after he got rejected. Really insightful commentary from someone who probably waited in line to sit in the audience.

When the previous guy brought out a Regis replica made of balloons, this guy in the audience did an enthusiastic “double finger point” while I’m sure screaming, “You’re the man!” I hate him.

A rapping grandma, also known as “the second best act at the Cedarview Nursing Home, behind the guy who sings the ABC’s with his mouth full.”

Is there anything about this guys face that doesn’t say, “I’m annoying”?

If you don’t want to punch this guy in the face as hard as you can, check your pulse because there’s a good chance you’re dead.

After balloon guy got kicked off, he walked off the stage saying “WOW” and using his hands and mouth to form the representation of the letters W-O-W. Get it? Because it looks like WOW, and he’s saying WOW. And that’s funny because in everyday life, we rarely come across objects depicting the noise they are making, so it’s novel. (Seriously, a box full of crap. With a ribbon. And a card with Snoopy on the front and “DIE!” written on the inside.)

This guy thought the WOW trick was so funny, he immediately had to imitate it. I should really go back and watch the video again, because I’m only 60% sure he isn’t mentally handicapped.

Tuesday, June 20

The Katherine Lester Poll!

Because people want to know! And I want to feel better about my past. And I just learned how to use these poll things. And really, deep down, we’re all just people. Scary, anonymous, untraceable people.

Have you ever hooked up with
someone you met through the internet?

Yes, but I probably won't anymore since those "Dateline" specials have become so popular

View Results

UPDATE: The “No” vote is holding a consistent 10 vote lead over the “Yes” vote. I’m really shocked, to be honest. I thought my readers were more promiscuous, more dangerous, more likely to get drunk and make stupid decisions based on things like “fate” and “loins.” Could it really be that you guys adhere to the traditional values of finding love and divorce the old fashioned way, by hooking up to “Living On A Prayer” on a crowded dance floor at the tail end of a pub crawl?

ANOTHER UPDATE: For future reference: when choosing a free polling service, be sure that a feature of the service isn’t “arbitrarily resetting.” Because when keeping a tally of things such as votes, a crucial part is actually keeping the tally. Oh well, now I’ll never know what percentage of my readers are “fun” and which ones are just “safe” or “married” or “pretty enough to get a real date.” While this deeply saddens me, what is important to remember is that it’s not where or how you meet someone, it’s how much money they spend on you that matters.

Welcome Home, Katherine Lester

I’m sure everyone has heard about this by now, but in case you haven’t the AP is reporting that Katherine Lester is a tard.

I’m kidding, I really don’t mean to be so hard on her. I was young and in love once too. I once told my parents I was sleeping over a friend’s house, but really I was riding my bike to a secluded beach where my friend and I intended on camping out with two girls we had crushes on. So I know the extraordinary lengths to which love can drive a person.

Mostly, I blame the parents. What mothers and fathers need to teach their children is that if they are looking for high school dropouts who live with their parents, the United States has many wonderful opportunities for them. They don’t need to go to Israel to hook up with Staind fans, even if they do put you as number one on their MySpace friends list, even ahead of Tom. And even though it may seem perfectly reasonable at the time to justify the whole thing by saying “We love the same things, the same songs and we have similar dreams,” kids need to realize that in ten years when they have student loan debt, stalled careers, and all the disenchantment that comes with being a fraction of the success you think you will be at 16 that sharing a love of “The Lord of the Rings” and rollercoasters isn’t going to make the Zoloft work any faster.

In other news, this picture made me grow ovaries.

Monday, June 19

McDonald’s Has Trouble Expressing Itself

While doing our classic “hung-over brunch / aimlessly wander around town buying things we don’t need to do our part in fostering consumerism in America” thing this past Sunday, The Girlfriend and I found ourselves outside a McDonald’s on 57th St. Normally we wouldn’t even think about going inside, because while I’ll gladly eat their food when I’m on a road trip and it’s the only restaurant for miles, I’m far too judgmental and swayed by popular opinion to eat it under normal circumstances. But this time, The Girlfriend saw a sign in the window for Premium Iced Coffee. And seeing as how she had only ingested about 24 ounces of coffee thus far, and you know it being “premium” and all, she had to get one.

We walk inside and there are four registers open, all with lines eight people deep. We eye one another and know what to do: we each pick a different line and take our place at the end. In my estimation this is one of the most valuable parts of being in a long-term relationship – being able to stand on different lines and the person who gets to the head of the line first (or the “winner”) being joined by the other person (the “loser”) to complete the transaction. In new relationships you can’t possibly get away with this because, obviously, if the two of you are together you MUST be engaged in some sort of conversation or physical contact. Luckily, with “love” comes “convenience,” except when that “love” turns to “boiling hatred and resentment,” in which case the ensuing heartbreak and loneliness, which is often too much to bear, can be decidedly “inconvenient.” (Good luck, kids!)

Just before I get to the head of the line first (winner), I motion to The Girlfriend (the loser) to a sign plastered above the registers. It reads:


If we do not SMILE before you pay,
you get a FREE Small French Fry or Hash Brown.

I have noticed that up to this point several customers in front of me have been complaining about their orders and stomped away huffing with indignation, which was confusing because we’re in a McDonald’s and everyone knows there’s no dignity within the walls of a McDonald’s. Moreover, none of these customers received a smile nor did they subsequently demand a small order of French fries for the transgression. In any event, I knew that my order would be easy. I approach the register and confidently say, “One large iced coffee,” in a tone that suggests, “You’re welcome for giving you such an easy order. We can all use a break sometimes.”

What transpires in beyond ludicrous. I’ve decided to formulate a multiple choice quiz to let you, the reader, guess what did or did not happen. Here we go:

After I say, “One large iced coffee,” the middle-aged woman behind the counter:

a) fills a large cup with iced coffee.
b) does nothing.
c) tells me to drink my coffee hot, like a man.
d) licks the palm of her hand and fixes her hair.

Answer: b. She stares past me, as though contemplating the enormity of the outside world, or trying to remember the next line in that Shakira song.

When she asks me for my order again, and I again tell her “One large iced coffee,” she:

a) fills a large cup with iced coffee.
b) gets me a hamburger and fries.
c) begins filling a cup with banana syrup.
d) says, “Oh, that’s right. Shakira, Shakira . . .”

Answer: c. The Girlfriend and I watch, confused, as she combines banana syrup and coffee with no ice. As she brings it back to us, The Girlfriend says, “We actually didn’t want any syrup in it. Just iced coffee. A large, iced coffee,” deliberately separating the adjectives to perhaps explain what we wanted in a different way, that it was a coffee that is both large and iced.

After another employee comes over to help sort out the order on the computer screen (?) the original cashier:

a) fills a large cup with iced coffee.
b) quits on the spot.
c) walks to the work station and pours the banana coffee from one large cup to another.
d) offers me an apple pie.

Answer: c. We again watch dumbfounded as she pours the concoction from one cup to another and begins adding ice. We say, almost in unison, “What the . . .?” I shout over the counter, “No, we didn’t want the banana coffee. Whichever cup it’s in.”

At this point, the woman:

a) finally understands and fills a large cup with iced coffee.
b) says, “But bananas are good for you,” and takes a sip of the coffee.
c) short-circuits and breaks down, revealing that she is actually a robot.
d) tries to convince me that what she is holding is not, in fact, the same banana coffee.

Answer: d. I explain that I watched her, from 10 feet away, pour the drink from one cup to another. Again, another employee comes over and asks what the problem is. I ask the new employee if they could please get our large iced coffee for us.

The new employee then:

a) fills a large cup with iced coffee.
b) explains to me that that’s not how McDonald’s works.
c) says, “I’m sorry, she’s new here.”
d) says, “And by ‘here’ I mean ‘the world.’”

Answer: a. Three cheers for employee #2! She places the iced coffee on the counter in front of us and The Girlfriend asks if it is sweetened. Employee #2 answers, “If I didn’t put any sugar in then it is not sweetened.” Cryptic. The Girlfriend then asks if they have Splenda.

Employee #2:

a) says “yes” and gets some Splenda.
b) says “yes” and does nothing.
c) says “no” and does nothing.
d) says “I can’t believe it’s taken us 10 minutes to get you an iced coffee.”

Answer: b. Employee #2 stood there motionless as though she were hypnotized and we had failed to register the correct trigger word. After a solid ten seconds, The Girlfriend says, “Can I have some?”

What happens next is:

a) Employee #2 again says “yes” and does nothing.
b) Employee #2 says “no.”
c) Employee #2 is suddenly inflicted with the miraculous stigmata.
d) A unicorn flies through the open door and places a large iced coffee at the feet of The Girlfriend.

Answer: a. It’s like talking to a coat rack in a McDonald’s uniform. Finally, after another ten seconds of emotionless, vacant staring, Employee #2 says, “How many?” The Girlfriend says, “Two,” and as Employee #2 hands over the packets she says, “I thought you wanted the whole box!”

The Girlfriend and I glance around and slowly back away from the counter. I have Century 21 flashbacks. We hurry over to leave and as The Girlfriend raises the drink to her mouth I notice out of the corner of my eye that she has suddenly stopped with the drink inches from her face.

I glance over wide eyed at:

a) a hamburger floating in the iced coffee.
b) a tongue depressor sticking out of the top of the iced coffee.
c) “HELP ME” written in blood on the side of the cup.
d) The Girlfriend, because she is beautiful.

Answer: b. I didn’t even know McDonald’s had tongue depressors, besides the fact that I’m pretty sure tongue depressors have been obsolete for decades, except for building replica log cabins.

As we exit the McDonald’s and The Girlfriend enjoys her hard fought iced coffee I can only think one thing: What the hell would have happened had I enforced the Smile Guarantee? Because I can assure you that at no time in the 10 minute long interpretive drama we enacted was there ever a smile or even the suggestion that a smile was possible. The thing is, I know that I could never be the guy who, after he was handed his change, said, “Gotcha! You never smiled! I’ll take, hmm, fries or hash browns, fries or hash browns . . . I’ll take the fries. This is awesome, I thought at the end there you were going to smile and I was going to lose it, but then you were like ‘Here’s your change,’ with a straight face and I was like, ‘Yes!’” Maybe if I was drunk, or if someone removed the gland that regulates my response to emotion, but never during the ordinary course of events could I tell a MCDONALD’S EMPLOYEE that because they didn’t smile while serving her 75th Big Mac of the day that I was cashing in on their despair.

HOWEVER, I have to say that on Sunday, June 18th, I toed the line of being the kind of guy who could do that. Maybe it was situation specific, maybe I’ve been wrong and mimosas really do have alcohol in them. Whatever it was, I almost demanded a free small French fries from a deadpan woman who could not even fill a large cup with iced coffee. And I’m not proud of that, but at the same time I understand that a higher intuition was in play when I walked away from the situation.

Because I’m pretty sure if I had stood there and tried to explain the Smile Guarantee to that woman, I would:

a) be on the lam for murder.
b) still be there, correcting them when they hand me a container filled with ketchup.
c) still be there, sitting in a circle on the floor with the employees reading a children’s book to them.
d) wake up in a mental institution muttering over and over, “Why couldn’t she just smile?”

Friday, June 16

Holy Crap, Am I Tired.

I am just mentally and physically exhausted. Besides the fact that I’ve written over 5,000 words on the Tony Awards (wtf?) I’ve also ingested enough alcohol the past week to stun an unsuspecting Tara Reid. (See? I’m making Tara Reid jokes. That’s one step away from Paris Hilton jokes, which is one step away from doing addition on your fingers.)

Plus I’ve got my annual college alumni reunion tonight, meaning two things: 1) today isn’t the day I stop drinking, and 2) I need to come up with no less than three things “I’ve been up to lately.” I’m not one of those people who feels bad when they go to a reunion and tell people that they’re still stuck in the same old job doing the same old things and taking the same old medications for the same old psychosis. But I refuse to be uninteresting. So when a person throws out the inevitable “So what have you been up to lately?” I like to have a list of things ready to be reeled off. Last year it went:

Girl whose name I can’t remember: “So what have you been up to lately?”

Me: “I just got back from Scotland and England a few weeks ago and I moved into a new apartment and I started a blog. You?”

Girl: “Uh, I was at TRL the other day, and –”

Me: “Uninteresting.”

Of course this year I’m going to be pimping the blog even more, seeing as how people actually read it now. And I swear, the first person that comes up to me and says, “Hey, I’ve been reading your blog” is going to get a French kiss. Because while I don’t value my life according to my readership, I am thinking of you guys when I am belligerently drunk at bars and it’s past 4:00am and the bartender is harassing me to leave I drunkenly slur, “I have a blooog! How many people read YOUR blooog? I even have a t-shirt, because people like me.”

So thanks, readers. For making me, an ordinary lush, somebody.

Thursday, June 15

The Tony Awards Called, And I Answered: The Finale

Sunday night was the night we were all waiting for. While the other two parties had been mere warm-ups, this was the real deal, Broadway’s biggest party of the year.

(Sidebar: I know, “Broadway’s biggest party of the year” sounds . . . sarcastic. But note two things: 1) it’s not like Hollywood where it’s SO huge that it’s splintered – if you went to the Tony’s and you wanted to drink right afterwards, chances are you were at Rockefeller Plaza for this party; and 2) Broadway actors know how to party. Think about it – they have struggled more than most hot dog vendors to even make a moderate splash in an industry that forgets your name faster than a used car salesman after closing a deal. It will really break a person down, to the point where they are not only without ego or conceit, but also proud alcoholics, which are invariably fun to be around. Unless they are your parents. Moving on.)

The party didn’t start until 11:00 so The Girlfriend and I watched a bit of the show while we were getting ready just in case we found ourselves in a conversation that made mention of something other than Cats or Phantom of the Opera. Luckily we were both sitting in front of the TV for this classic moment, when Christian Hoff gave his acceptance speech for winning Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role in Jersey Boys:

TG and I sitting on the couch, half paying attention to the TV.

Me: “Should we eat now or do you think there will be food at the party?”

TG: “There will probably be food at the party.”

Hoff: “ . . . I thank my wife, Melissa Hoff, for coming to me and saving me and being there as a mother for my children, our new baby in her womb right now . . .”

Me: (sitting up suddenly) “Did he just say womb?”

TG: “He said womb.”

Camera flashes to Hoff’s wife seated in the audience.

Me: “Awkward moment. Awkward moment. Please don’t say womb again.”

TG: (still stunned) “Who says womb?”

We make it down to Rockefeller Center by 11:15 to meet our friends outside before walking in. As we turn the corner we see a flock of spectators huddled outside the entrance to the party peering over the gates to see who is arriving. My friend Matt and I whisper to each other “I love this, I love this” and squeeze our way through the crowd, hold up our invitations and walk in.

Now, I’m not one to get off on power trips and making other people feel small, but when you’re dressed in a suit with a pocket square entering a gala with a gowned woman on your arm, that feeling of humanity seems to cloud over. You think, “Wait, maybe I AM better than the guy in the boat shoes with white socks trying to get Bebe Neuwirth's attention . . .” And then you filter through the crowd over to the bar, get a round of drinks with your friends and toast: “Well, we didn’t win this year guys. But here’s to chasing the dream!” and the faces on everyone around you go straight into “Who are they?” mode.

And then you finish those drinks and get another round and you walk through the crowd towards the food and pile your plate with carved beef and salmon and you eat your food with champagne and a cocktail on the side because why not?, options are the order of the night. Then you are “offered” women in this sense: “My daughters are over there and they are all pretty you should go talk to them.” Things seem to come easier when you’re in a suit with a pocket square.

Eventually you make your way out to the dance floor, which is set on top of the Rockefeller Center skating rink, meaning there is nothing above you but sky and stars. The band is up on stage playing the classics. As you dance scotch is swishing out of your glass like it’s “a celebration of winning the revolutionary war” in one friend’s words, and why not?, because they’re charging by the sip and that charge is FREE. You make up lies to strangers about the details of your life because hey, this is Broadway after all, and no one cares anyway.

Finally, after the night comes to an untimely close, the band announces that this will be their last song and a frazzled middle-aged man runs to the lip of the stage and screams, “I’ve got $4,000 here for you to keep playing,” and your friend calmly approaches the stage and says, “I’ll match that $4,000,” then lights a cigarette and walks away because “I’ve got $4,000” is a foreign concept to him. You loosen your tie. All around you are recognizable stars, but you eventually stop taking notice because you are just having so goddamn much fun.

The night “ending” is neither an option nor a realistic possibility and people discuss where to go now. The after-after party. The post-post script. It’s 2:00 in the morning and you’ve still got places to be – more bars, more drinks, more celebration, until a cab ride home while the sun is coming up. So, yeah, it’s hard not to catch the bug when the whole situation smacks of “cooler than thou.”

That is until you wake up the next day (later that day) and go to work and ten minutes in you get a frantic call from Crazy June because her computer is “going berserk” and when you go over to her desk you see the cursor shooting down the screen and, lo and behold, a steno pad resting on the enter key. And six hours ago is a distant memory; Broadway’s already forgotten your name.

Wednesday, June 14

The Tony Awards Called, And I Answered: Part 2

This post is sponsored by Budweiser. Budweiser: the official beer of regret.

I was hungover from the night before, more useless than usual at work, but still in desperate need of a suit before Saturday’s event – a cocktail party at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. (For some reason, in my head I’m reading this like a film noir.) After my misadventures at Century 21, I was left in a bind and time was running out. All I know is: if I didn’t get a suit in time, the Waldorf Astoria would be nothing but another in the long list of memories I never had. (Picture me driving a cab in black and white while reading this.)

Anyway, I ended up at a suit shop on the Upper East Side with an Italian salesman whose biggest threat was that he might be so nice and helpful that I would hit him on the head with a wood soled shoe, bound him with his measuring tape and keep him in my apartment to tell me “how a’good” I look every morning before I leave for work. Or maybe that was my biggest threat, I’m not sure how that wording works. In any event, it was a far cry from the nightmare inducing episode I had previously endured, and to top it off I came away with a great suit, one that would prompt not one but TWO men at the cocktail party to say to me, “I love your suit, do I know you from Los Angeles?” Either I have a gay doppelganger in Los Angeles, or I give off an air of dandiness and that’s just a very common pick-up line.*

Now, I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a cocktail party before. I’ve been to parties where there was a cocktail hour, but that was always immediately preceded by a wedding and followed by a dinner, cake and a crippling guilt about that slow dance with the cousin you never knew you had. But an entire party where you arrive at 5:00 and leave at 7:00? It is a foreign concept to me, to begin drinking so early and to stop . . . so early. It seems like a waste, like laying the foundation for a 5,000 square foot house and then saying halfway through, “You know, I think 2,500 will be enough.” Yet if I have learned anything in my years since college it is that the more I drink, the drunker I get. And the drunker I get, the higher the likelihood that I will urinate somewhere other than a bathroom. And, much like most upscale institutions, the Waldorf frowns on you peeing in their trash cans.

I arrived at the party promptly at five and immediately put a cocktail in my hand, the international symbol for “I belong,” both “at this party” and “in general.” I wasn’t expecting to see anyone famous, and by famous I mean someone I recognize from TV or the movies. I’m sure as I stood there surveying the room I was gazing out upon Broadway stars both old and young, but if I haven’t seen your face on a screen of some sort it really means nothing to me. Which is exactly why when S. Epatha Merkerson walked in, it was my own version of spotting Judy Kaye (whoever she is, I just Googled “big Broadway star”).

She walked past my friends and I didn’t spot her immediately. It was my friend Brendan who said, “Isn’t that that woman from “Law & Order”?” to which I responded in my best “I’ve never been to an event with celebrities” tone of voice, “Holy crap, which one?!” Brendan pointed her out and sure enough Lt. “Find out where that gun came from” Van Buren was standing 20 feet away from me.

As you may or may not know, I love “Law & Order.” A couple of years ago before his untimely death, I saw Jerry Orbach in the men’s department at Lord & Taylor. I slyly watched him from across the room shop with his wife until he stopped at a rack of sports coats and tried one on. After they left, I went over to the rack and tried the same jacket on even though it was something like a 44 long to my 38 regular, just to say that I was lame/unbalanced enough to have tried on the same sports coat as Jerry Orbach. But here I was, eyeing Lt. “Pay a visit to the wife” Van Buren from across the room, much like I did with Sarah Winger at my high school freshman cotillion. It was then that, like an angel from Hollywood, I was introduced to Wendy, who it just so happens used to work on “Law & Order” and who, as casually as offering me a donut, offered to introduce me to S.Ep (my pet name for her).

She led me over and we stood off to the side feigning conversation for a few minutes while S.Ep finished her conversation with someone else before Wendy jumped in, introduced herself and said how she used to work on the show. She then turns to me as I stare directly at S.Ep’s face, trying hopelessly not to stare directly at S.Ep’s face, and we have this exchange:

Wendy: “This is my friend, Dan.”

S.Ep: “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dan.”

Me (internally): “It’s a pleasure to meet you too.”

Me (externally): “I’m a really big fan of “Law & Order!” (As though I wanted to meet her for her turn as Doctor #1 in Jersey Girl.)

S.Ep: “Thank you, I’m glad you enjoy the show.”

Two minutes of conversation ensue between Wendy and S.Ep as I stand there listening and smiling as though I find the question “So what are you working on now?” extremely amusing. Finally . . .

S.Ep: “Well it was great to see you again, Wendy. And a real pleasure to meet you too, Dan.”

Me: (remembering what I should have said before) “It was a pleasure to meet you too.”

I walked back to my friends emboldened by the experience. So emboldened, in fact, that no more than five minutes later I peer over at my friend John who is mid-conversation with Neil Patrick Harris, and after a moment’s hesitation I walk right over and make pretend that I have something important to tell John before instead reaching over and shaking Doogie’s hand. It is a move that is effective in its embarrassment, and all of us stand there for five minutes having a conversation that I only wish I had tape recorded, because I could probably bribe Doogie with a few choice incriminating comments. Not that I really would though, because he is actually a very cool guy and the incriminating comments were just the same jokes that my friends and I make all the time. Unless anyone is making offers, in which case I have the shorthand notes on a cocktail napkin at home, right next to the address for the executive producer of “How I Met Your Mother” and the statute on what constitutes “extortion” in the state of New York.

* PROOF THAT THE FORMER OPTION IS POSSIBLE: Guy de Maupassant, the French novelist and short story writer, claimed to have been haunted by his doppelganger near the end of his life. On one occasion, he said, this double entered his room, took a seat opposite him and began to dictate what de Maupassant was writing. He wrote about this experience in his short story "Lui." If you can’t trust Guy de Maupassant, who can you trust?

Tuesday, June 13

The Tony Awards Called, And I Answered: Part 1

The official kick-off to a Broadway themed extravaganza of a weekend saw me and four of my friends partying at the super casual, super gay dance party at The China Club sponsored by Budweiser* (For all you do, this Bud's for you). Your choices of drink included Bud, Bud Light and Bud Select. And while I still think that actually approaching a bartender and having this exchange:

Bartender: “What can I get you?”

You: “Budweiser Select.”

is beyond hilarious, the fact that it was free means that I had to try one just to see if it lived up to its billing as a premium alternative to the traditional Budweiser beer. The conclusion? It tastes exactly like original Budweiser – a heavy, bitter start with a bready finish. Goes down hard, makes you bloated. Budweiser Select.

After trading in our Budweiser Select for Bud Light, we began dismantling the buffet table, where we overcame their stinginess by filling up a plate, bringing it to our table and immediately going back and starting on line from the other end with a new plate. We then sat down and relaxed with approximately eight plates of food and 16 Bud Lights and watched as groups of people filtered by, of which there were two kinds: 1) the group of four guys with one girl, always with the girl leading the way and the guys looking for someone cooler to talk to, or 2) the group of three girls, mildly attractive, wearing new outfits from H&M, with their heads on a swivel surveying the crowd with a keen eye that gave off an air of “If there is a straight man here, I will find him.”

For our part, I have no idea what people must have thought of us. One moment a gay guy would be ready to approach our table after overhearing my friend Scott say, “I don’t know what kind of jeans they are, I just got them. Here, check out the label on the back,” and stand up with his ass in my friend Matt’s face, then immediately do a u-turn when overhearing, “OK, let’s all put in $20 for the first guy to make out with a woman over 60.” We were a group unto ourselves, men who made the decision early on in the night to accept the facts of our circumstances:

1. that we would appear gay

2. that there was little to no chance of meeting a likeable girl

3. that we were at a party for an industry with which we had zero affiliation outside of being invited to parties like this

We decided to embrace it and view it as a liberating experience the same way that traveling to a foreign country imbibes you with the feeling that, for lack of understanding the laws native to the land, you can do whatever you want. When in Rome, eat carbohydrates and drink wine. When at a Tony Awards party sponsored by Budweiser . . . dance.

I will say this as unequivocally as I possibly can: It is a damn shame that somewhere down the line it became embarrassing for guys to dance. And I’m not talking about dancing like “grinding up on a girl for five minutes before making out with her.” I mean dancing like unrestrained movements of both arms and legs, like the way you danced at weddings when you were a child and all you wanted was attention and more sugar. Yeah, I agree – most of the time it’s not a pretty sight. But if we could all just have a collective “GET OVER IT” and realize how fun it is, the world would be a better, less horny place.

Even I had my reservations when the music switched over from hip-hop to 80’s, the traditional dance music of gay men and New Jersey women for over two decades. But as I sat there on the stage (did I mention we were on a stage?) listening to Madonna and thinking, “How can you possibly dance to this?” I watched everyone flail around me and, with the final swig of my sixth Bud Light, all semblance of masculinity seeped from my body and by the time Elton John came on I was in the middle of a dance circle pulling out and old Kid N’ Play move. For a man who trades in sarcasm on a daily basis, it was some of the most unsarcastic moves my body had ever made.

And you know what? It turns out the truth is attractive. Because with about 15 minutes left in the night, my friend Scott and I were unabashedly dancing around each other in small circles when an attractive girl approached us coyly from the side, dancing by herself with modest, unobtrusive movements. When my friend Scott noticed her he called her over to us and motioned for her to dance with us. Wordlessly, she gladly obliged and jumped in, fists pumping and legs kicking. When the song was over, we were all smiles and adulation. Then after introducing ourselves, we had this conversation:

Me: “So where are you from?”

Her: “Edmonton, Canada.”

Me: “Oh, wow. You must be pretty excited right now [for the Stanley Cup finals, of which Edmonton is a part].”

Scott: “Well, not that excited [as Edmonton was down 2-0 in the best of seven series].”

Insert fake laughter and guy banter.

Her: (clearly confused at our non-gayness) “Uh, yeah. Totally.”

And with that we took off, reveling in our dance moves, ambiguous sexual orientation and free Budweiser haze. The best part? This was only the first event. There were two more to come, each with a much different tenor, i.e. more dignified, less “Dancing Queen.” But for those few short hours, we were in the moment, enjoying this industry with which we have no affiliation, yet collectively we knew that we belonged on Broadway. Or at least the part of Broadway where the hookers hang out offering hand jobs for $5. Yeah, at least that part.

* Apparently, back in 1999 Budweiser ran a series of gay-friendly print ads in a limited number of publications. The ads, which showed two men holding hands with the slogan "Be yourself and make it a Bud Light,” prompted such outrage amongst conservative beer drinkers that a grassroots campaign was established in opposition to the ads. One chain email circulated to drum up support wrote: “We can let Anheuser Busch understand that pro-family Americans are terribly concerned about homosexual images coming into our homes through advertising campaigns.” And you know what? They’re absolutely right. I remember back when I was younger and my Dad would sit me on his lap and we would read through the beer ads in all the current weeklies, and I always felt “This is what family is all about.” But here we are six years later, and Budweiser is back to their family-destructing ways, transforming five otherwise heterosexual men into Bud Light waving dancing queens doing the YMCA dance ON A STAGE.)

Monday, June 12

If They Gave Out A Tony Award For Best Drunk, I Would Have A Tony Award Right Now

Still drunk from the 60th Annual Tony Awards Official After-party last night, I just now rolled in to my office with my sunglasses on, ran into my boss and immediately patted him on the shoulder and asked him how his weekend was. I think that marks the second time I’ve touched him since I shook his hand six years ago at my job interview. It was a little more than awkward, a little less than funny – that perfect combination that stops you in your tracks and reminds you that alcoholics have a lot to lose.

Pictures and stories to come, including my life-altering conversation with S. Epatha Merkerson, aka Lieutenant Anita “Why don’t you check out the boyfriend’s alibi” Van Buren on “Law & Order,” aka the coolest woman with the first name “S” I’ve ever met.

In the meantime, since I’m drunk and there’s no one here at work to hook up with, I’ll use my bad judgment for other reasons and post the much hyped family photo!

We’re not that blurry in real life. OR ARE WE?

Thankfully the tight pants were obscured by other family members. That’s not the kind of thing a family needs in their posterity. (There’s an anal joke in there somewhere I’m sure of it.)

The photographer’s mantra was “lean in.” She repeated it like Tourettes even though if I leaned in anymore I would have had The Girlfriend’s head in my mouth.

And now I’m going to go take a nap with the phone propped up against my ear and try to figure out how to get my arm to stop smelling like vodka. Ah, celebrity!