Everyone always thinks there’s an “O” in Cup Noodles. I don’t know why.
Medically Preserved Hand of Adolf Hitler Bear
Anal Fisting Bear
Ill-fitting Lego Knockoff Bear
It’s Your Fault You Bought The Wrong Food Runny Dogshit Bear
Not As Informed About The Situation In Israel As He Thinks Bear
Never Going To Finish Fucking Gravity’s Rainbow Bear
Domestic Abuse Bear
Absolutely No More God Damn Fucking Giraffes Ever Bear
Dear fellow employee who just sent me this email,
I don’t want to be a jerk, or anything, but let me explain to you why you should not have done what you just did.
1. You sent an email to 3,200 people. Our mail system is stupid, so when you send an email to 3,200 people, it lists every single one of them in the email header, making the email about 1MB before you even start adding your stupid words. Considering our mailboxes are small, sending an email to everyone in the department should be done only when absolutely necessary.
2. You sent an email to 3,200 people inviting them to a retirement BBQ in West Sacramento. This is ludicrously ambitious. We are not organizing some kind of monster rave, although if I live long enough to retire, I might do that. I understand that the retiree is the Chief of Some Department (which I had to ask to find out), but since there are only about 300 people in Some Department, maybe you could have started there? 300 people is still a ridiculously big invite list for a retirement BBQ in a public park. Let’s ignore the fact that we have employees spread all over the state, and even the most avid BBQ enthusiast is unlikely to drive ten hours for tri-tip.
3. You included a flyer. With pictures and maps. As I said, space is at a premium, here, so maybe sending out a huge file full of grainy pictures and multiple maps isn’t the best idea. Maybe if it was an actual department-wide activity, all of this (and more!) could have gone on, I don’t know, our internal web page. That one we keep telling you people that you can use for stuff like this.
4. You included a flyer that you turned into a motherfucking-huge PDF file. See, this made the flyer about four times larger than your original Word document, and that’s kind sad, because all 3,200 people you sent the flyer to have Word. I know they do, because I am the person who makes sure that all 3,200 recipients of your retarded email have Word on their computers.
5. Your flyer uses, of course, Comic Sans. Now, this is just nit-picky, and it’s pretty trendy to mock people who use what’s essentially a harmless font, but it’s this little detail that makes me wonder if you are deliberately fucking with people. If you are, I tip my hat to you, you magnificent bastard. But could you wait on this kind of shit until afternoon? Hangovers don’t like Help Desk calls.
P.S. See you at the BBQ! Is there anything I can bring 3,200 servings of?
I don’t know why, but everything I’ve eaten today has tasted incredibly good. And not in the way things usually taste good, where I take their good flavor as a sign that I should henceforth begin cramming as much food into my mouth as possible until I’m physically ill. No, I find that I’m chewing things very slowly, extracting every little bit of flavor possible from sour to sweet, and swallowing only as an afterthought – as if I would spit it out if there were an appropriate receptacle handy. Which is fucking gross as hell, by the way, and a good enough reason to never go wine tasting. (Also DUIs)
That’s happening right now, and I’m eating carrots. Plain old, boring carrots. Deliciously sweet, amazingly textured carrots. Out of a little bag. A Magic Bag filled with Magical Goodness.
What would happen if I ate something that I usually enjoy? And I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the occasional carrot – because I’ll rock some fucking carrots, believe me – but they don’t usually do it for me like my actual favorite foods. What if I had one of those? Would I die?
Damn, what is the meaning of this unexpected deliciousness? Are these the Most Holy of carrots? Were these meant for the Pope, and I got them by mistake? Are they genetically modified to fuck with my brain? Is there any way I can drink these carrots? Inhale them? When will the bastard, heartless, provincially-minded legislators in this state catch up with the progressive thinking of their constituents and relax puritanical laws so that I can marry this bag of carrots?
Earlier today, for the world’s most meager breakfast (okay, maybe the most meager breakfast for anyone of my income level who bothered to eat anything at all), I ate a piece of bread. A piece of bread. And it was awesome. I was in awe. I chewed with purpose. I experimented with the bread, taking little bits of it at a time: I chewed some of them in their natural fluffy state, and others I would squish into different shapes, to better enjoy biting through them. It took a while. It actually made me late for work. But hell, something was going to.
This carrot, I swear to god, actually tastes a little bit like a Jalapeno. Just a little bit. Like I wouldn’t recognize it on any other day, but today I can detect its subtle Jalapeno-ness through a mystical conjunction of the planets or a random and unreproducible set of quantum circumstances.These things are rocking my little world. I don’t even want to enter into the realm of sexually-charged metaphor lest it cheapen this experience.
There is no spellcheck in paint. Fuck off.
Almost done with the carrots now – I actually ate a healthy snack. No shameful Dorito shall pass through these lips today. No half-assed attempt at moderation in the form of the Accursed Sun Chips (30% less fat! Yeah, 30% less fat than a FUCKING BAG OF FAT) or something appended with “jerky” (low fat, 70,000 milligrams of sodium).
Goodbye, baddest motherfucking carrots on the planet. I hope you enjoyed our time together. I know I did.
Yesterday at work, I couldn’t shake this pervasive feeling of shivery, stupid cold. It was 104 degrees outside, but for some reason the meager breeze of my building’s air conditioning felt like it was blowing right through me, bursting frozen muscle cells and probably fucking with my bone marrow. Like somehow I had forgotten how to be a mammal.
I was in the bathroom later, washing my hands, and the warm water felt so good that I just kept them under there for a long time. That made my arms feel much colder by comparison, so I tried sticking as much of them in the water as possible, getting my shirt wet as I tried to force my shoulders under.Parts of them were fighting for the warmth like they had become lots of little non-mammals themselves, and exposure to the climate-controlled bathroom air would kill them. And I guess I thought of that simile without considering it too much, because… gah.
Finally I just stuck my head under there, and it was warm and beautiful and quiet, like falling asleep drunk in a world with no alarm clocks. My head was warm, my arms were warm, my legs were somehow warm; everything was warm and safe, like what I imagine it’s like to be bear, like pretty much all the time.
The next thing I remember was the surly network administrator from upstairs giving me CPR. His ragged breaths tasted like bourbon as they forced their way down into the depths of my lungs, making me cough out all the water and start breathing again. We both sat there for a second, gasping. He gave me an appraising look and let me go back to my desk.
So I learned something today. Next time I feel like this, that guy’s probably got booze in his desk.
As an adult with little in the way of close family, I only have two Thanksgiving traditions left. Every year, I buy a bottle of Wild Turkey and consume a good portion of it. I have been doing this since I was too young to legally drink, and my initial reasoning was something on the order of “fuck this stupid holiday, fuck family togetherness, and fuck everything else.” As such, I would consume this “turkey” ironically and just basically be a moody bastard.
I grew out of hating Thanksgiving over time and the imbibing of the Turkey became more jubilant. Except in 2007 when I was alone on Thanksgiving, in New York City, and I drank most of the bottle alone before I stumbled to a bar in Brooklyn, at 3 a.m., and got a free pity pizza from the hipster bartender. It was one of those moments that people who never become writers experience and think: “This is one of those experiences that proves I’m supposed to be a writer.”
Generally though, the Wild Turkey tradition is more fun if it’s done with others, so it dovetails nicely with the newer - but more socially acceptable: Our annual, gigantic, potluck, alcoholothon “friend” Thanksgiving dinner. A few dozen twenty- and thirty-somethings all bring a stupid amount of food and we eat and drink and be merry as fuck. We do it outside, under a huge tent once owned by the US Military. This year we had outdoor fireplaces. It was primeval and fantastic.
After dinner, there is the traditional clearing of dishes, which in this case involves collecting everything at your place setting, walking out to the dumpster in the alley, and smashing that shit into as many pieces as possible. The event’s host, you see, spends months gathering bizarre dishes at area thrift stores with the sole intention of them being used and then dramatically discarded on Thanksgiving night. Is this wasteful? Probably, but it’s Thanksgiving, fool, and most of us are ordinarily pretty left-leaning, ecologically-minded folk. So suck it.
Still later, many other people (who still haven’t learned how to escape their familiar obligations) show up and there is more merriment. This lasts until pretty late in the evening. There are other fun things, too, like improm,ptu dance parties in various apartments, lots of wicked desserts, the singing of campfire songs, etc. All of this is fantastic, grandiose, and terrifically hedonistic, and I look forward to it all year. Here’s the thing, though: I never have all that good of a time.
I’ve never really understood why or even realized that I was so consistently not enjoying myself. When a yearly tradition is something you so obviously would enjoy, it’s counterintuitive to chalk up even repeated bad experiences to anything but coincidence and isolated circumstance. Weird stuff must have happened every time, because otherwise the night would have been awesome for me, right? Well, wrong. It turns out that I screw up it every year with my brain.
Putting this event together already takes a lot of work. We have to invite everyone, get head counts, alert all potential cooks about everyone else’s dietary restrictions, set up the tent to wash the playa off of it, then put the tent back in storage, then set it up again for the actual dinner, set up tables, coordinate all kinds of crap, etc. I don’t do the most of anyone involved, but I do more than most people. This amount of effort is, in my mind, completely justified by how many people will enjoy it, and how much.
For some reason, though, my brain starts to associate the level of complexity and my personal responsibility directly with how much fun the event will be. Surely if I do more, people will have more fun, right? And surely my remembrances of last year, rose-colored by everyone else’s recounting and photographs, justify whatever extra effort I put forth, and any more effort I put forth this year. That is what lead me to make six fucking dishes this year.
Six. Counting all the variations of stuff I made so even the Vegans could eat my food, I made six dishes. Last year I made three, and because I’d made them all before and had planned pretty well, it was probably the most relaxed Thanksgiving I’d ever experienced. I also did some charity run thing in the morning, which is a great way to rationalize gluttony later in the day. So because I had a pretty good time last year, I should do more, right? There weren’t even any Vegans this year.
So because I am prone to anxiety like Superbad was prone to making dick jokes, making myself as busy as possible is probably not the best plan. I spend most of the day cycling rapidly between irritability, confidence, hopelessness, and overly loud proclamations that I am awesome and fucking unstoppable. The fact that my girlfriend has seen me like this a couple of times and not broken up with means she either likes me a lot, or hates herself.
I usually manage to get everything done in situations like this – a fact I can never seem to remember when I’m in situations like this – and eventually I’m finished and food is on the table and I can relax. Except that I don’t. Anxiety doesn’t seem to work that way, and I just sit there and get weirder and weirder, wondering why I can’t relax and why everyone always has more fun than me. And this kind of thinking tends to reinforce itself. Damn it! I made six dishes and that guy only made one! My superiority in culinary production should make me six times more at ease than him! No, thanks, I wouldn’t like any turkey, because my stomach is a little weird from being miserable and stressed-out all day.
And then, with no other apparent recourse left to me, I start drinking alcohol. It’s right there, anyway – these Thanksgiving dinners usually have three to four bottles of wine per person, and there’s still the Wild Turkey, so there’s never really a shortage of booze. So I drink a glass of wine and pick nervously at my food. This does nothing for me, so I drink another glass of wine and swear off the food altogether. It’s just making me nauseous and making it hard for me to drink another glass of wine, which I would really like, yes, thanks for asking. There are four kinds of mashed potatoes, and I haven’t tried any of them. I don’t even know if the food I made is any good. Shit. What if it’s bad? What if those compliments are the annual obligatory lies of friends who know I need them? What happens when they tire of my special needs? Where is that wine?
Eventually, of course, the booze starts to calm me down a little, simplifying my thought processes so I can’t actually worry about thirteen things at once. Once I dumb myself down to one train of thought a time, it occasionally gets used up by pleasant conversation and the pervading sense of togetherness that everyone else is probably experiencing. I start to actually have a good time. And it was booze that made this possible. Hooray for booze! Let’s drink more booze!
Unfortunately I forget to eat anything, I switch from wine to 101-proof bourbon without slowing down, and the release of stress of the magnitude I’d created for myself causes a reaction not unlike helping someone move out of an apartment. I get tired and pretty hammered. Bits of the evening get fuzzy and I feel a little spinny and gross. So the pleasant parts of the evening that I can be sure actually happened take place during a magic window of about an hour and a half:
This just about guarantees that the next day will suck pretty badly, that my opinion of Thanksgiving will be unfairly colored by the experience, and, sickest of all, I will begin planning to outdo myself next year. Maybe if I make more things, it will be better! So anyway, now that I know this, I have decided to only do one thing next year. One. No varieties of this thing. No alternative diet, glutard, “use different utensils so I don’t cross contaminate” bullshit: just one dish, that I’ve made before, that I will plan well in advance.
I was just watching Twin Peaks again, because There Is No TV But What I Have On My Computer and Twin Peaks Is Its Prophet. I have completely forgotten about the no-doubt ridiculous ways people used to acquire television. I see things, now and then, that stir long-dormant memories of commercial breaks and something that I think was called “local news,” but then the memories pleasantly recede and I watch the Slurm Factory Futurama episode for the 612th time. This is how TV exists now at my house (my house is the house-shaped object):
So I’m watching Twin Peaks, grooving ever so slightly to Badalementi, and the same thought occurs to me that always occurs to me after I haven’t seen Twin Peaks for a while: “Why hasn’t everyone seen this show? Because despite it’s flaws, it’s still brilliant and influenced so many shows and there’s satire on so many levels and did you see that part where rar rar rar rar rar David Lynch gar gar gar gar.”
The longer you try to defend David Lynch, the crazier you sound.
So usually when this thought occurs to me, I then start to think it’d be a good idea to organize some sort of Twin Peaks Watching Event, wherein people come over regularly so Twin Peaks’ veterans can belligerently insist on its brilliance until the newcomers are coerced into David Lynch Fandom conversion. The worse the show gets, the more brilliant it becomes in its self-aware cheesiness.
Case in point, this awfulness:
We actually ended up getting through the whole series as a group once, in a series of progressively drunker Thursday nights a couple of Winters ago. It was the most reliable social interaction I’d had in years, and as “you’ve got to see this show” and “wine” gradually became “we party on Thursdays and also this show” and “bourbon,” I actually started taking off every single Friday just to contend with the hangovers. I didn’t actually consider drinking less, but my dad was dying of brain cancer at the time, so I considered as little as possible.
When we finally watched the last two episodes, the lackluster end of the series echoed the emptiness of having a three month-long tradition of predictable merriment come to a screeching halt just as things were starting to get interesting. Not surprisingly, I was alone in taking this so hard, and my attempts to immediately organize the next weekly marathon of some TV show were met with some fatigued derision.
I tried several times to recreate the same atmosphere at my new house, but it never really took. My mood and my confidence in my ability to entertain people dwindled into paranoid delusion.
Everything ends. Twin Peaks. Friendships. Dads. Boo hoo.
(Also I spelled “awesome” incorrectly. Great.)
So anyway I was sad.
Months later I managed to convince my girlfriend and another friend to meet weekly to watch the entirety of the good bits of the X-Files (seasons 1-6), in a tradition that quickly and tellingly came to be called “Family Night.” It had many of the same elements of awesomeness that Twin Peaks night did; though it never became a party night and hardly anyone else ever came, inside jokes were developed and I felt at ease.
BTW: Scully was the worst FBI agent ever:
So my point is this: If you’re having trouble adjusting to life back in your old hometown, and a close family member is dying, and you work as an IT contractor and can afford to only work four days a week: consider organizing a weekly viewing of the series Twin Peaks.
BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING BRILLIANT AND WITHOUT IT YOUR BULLSHIT LOST WOULDN’T EVEN EXIST.