Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Not Exactly What I Used to Ask For From Santa

One sign you are getting old: You receive an electric nosehair trimmer for Christmas...and it is what you asked for.

I don't care. I love this thing. I use it everyday. I have the un-hairiest nose in the United States. At parties I'll now show off my nostrils to the other guests. I'll offer to trim their noses. "Good for any orifice!" I'll call out to them as they are leaving the party seven minutes after they arrive.

I just want to share the joy.

Tales of Clothes Dryers, Butt-Cracks, and Unredeemable Rebates

So here I am at my parents’ house doing laundry. I imagine it may seem a little silly for a 34 year-old man to be trekking to his parents’ house for such a chore, but I have a justifiable reason: my clothes dryer is temporarily broken. And by “temporarily” I mean, “oh, for about seven or eight months now”. Surely you are asking: “Joe, why haven’t you addressed this dryer problem that you’ve had for WELL OVER HALF A YEAR?” My reply would of course be: Shut up.

I’m sorry. I’ve been made fun of about my dryer problem for quite a while now, and I’m getting kind of sick of it. The fact of the matter is I have tried to address it. Several months ago I called the manufacturer to have them send a technician to service my broken appliance. You know how in TV commercials nowadays you see more and more technicians such as cable installers and electricians being depicted by beautiful women in cute company baseball caps and uniforms? I, of course, did not expect this. Life is usually not that good to me. So you can imagine my surprise when the doorbell rang and I opened it up to see, quite possibly, the ugliest man I have ever laid eyes on. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh; my mind was a little clouded with thoughts that this guy was going to charge me a ton of money. So he probably wasn’t that ugly, but he definitely was of the “butt-crack showing” variety.

He quickly diagnosed the problem and reported it to me. And by “quickly” I mean about the same time frame as “temporarily”. He pretty much took the entire thing apart, and then said that it’s broken. It was a good thing he did this, though, because it further reinforced how mechanically ignorant I am. To me, it went something like this:

“Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah about $200.”

So I had to make a decision:

  • Pay roughly $200 to repair this dryer
  • Pay only about $50 more and buy a brand new one
I chose the latter. The repairman agreed, saying, “Probably what I’d do, too. That’ll be sixty-five dollars, please.”

Yes. Apparently it was going to cost me money just to do nothing. It’s called a “diagnostic fee” or “service fee”. So I had to make another decision:

  • Pay this guy $65 to leave and still have no dryer.
  • Throw him out the window to save $65, while most likely incurring legal costs well over $65 (in case you don’t know, an attorney charging you for a paper clip is a legal cost that would exceed $65).
I chose the former, mainly because I doubted I could throw him out a window without a forklift or a chiropractic visit. Plus, he said he would give me a discount coupon for my next appliance purchase. Note here, though, that there were two problems with the coupon:

  • It was worth $40, which is $25 less than the $65 I spent.
  • It was technically a rebate certificate, and no one in the history of the Simmons family has ever successfully received a check for such a thing.
I’m pretty sure that nobody ever gets a check when they attempt to redeem rebate certificates. When the companies receive rebate certificates, the employees probably laugh themselves into a stupor while roasting marshmallows by a fire kindled by them. They probably wallpaper their break room with them. They probably put them in the toilet paper dispensers. They probably see who can make the paper airplane that can fly the farthest. Anything but actually processing one and sending out a check.

But that’s okay, because I never get around to sending out rebate certificates anyway. Anytime I buy something that requires rebate redemption, I always bring the new item home, decide that I will definitely mail the certificate right after I play with my new item, then never see or think about the rebate ever again. It’s okay! At least I have a system.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have another load of laundry to do before my dad gets home.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I Had an Air About Me in Boston

Before even starting this blog entry, I have to state this right off the bat:


I have to state this because the humor in this entry is mainly based on flatulence. Here is a fact: Men find this subject hilarious, women do not. If you were to ask a co-educational group of people if flatulence-based humor is funny, the response from the women would be a resounding “no”; the men wouldn’t respond at all because they would be too busy laughing and making farting noises with their armpits.

Anyway, the story:

My friend Greg and I went to Boston this past weekend to see a football game. Of course, afterwards we decided to get a “feel for the city”, by which I mean troll the bars for women. We ended up at a popular nightspot downtown called Clery’s, which was very crowded. It was Greg’s turn to buy a round of beers, so he squeezed against the bar, leaving me standing there behind him alone. Next to him, sitting on barstools, were two attractive college-age girls involved in a deep conversation. Now those that know me know that I do not lack for self confidence. I had decided earlier that I wasn’t leaving this bar without chatting up some women, so why not these two? I have some nice clothes on. My hair is looking stylish. I have charm. I have charisma. I—uh...

I farted.

My mind raced. Could the girls hear it? No way, the music is way too loud. Is it a stinker or a dud? I’m not sure. They were pretty rancid earlier in the day. Oh NO! I can smell it! It IS bad! Real bad!

The girls began making nasty expressions on their faces. They started to turn around. Now I knew…it was CODE RED. I was at DEFCON-3. It was time to go to an Emergency Flatulence Blame Shifting Plan. I just had to decide which one I should utilize:

Pretend That Nothing has Happened at All: Bad idea. The girls would assume that the offending party would act exactly this way in a feeble effort to maintain a shred of dignity.

Hold My Nose and Point Directly at Greg: Again, bad idea. Explicit blame-shifting is always an immediate sign of guilt, not to mention immaturity.

The method I chose was Sniffing Around With a Confused Look on my Face. This pretty much consisted of having a facial expression that seemed to say, “What is this I smell? And where is it coming from?” It may have worked. At least it did until Greg and I got the heck out of there and I could pretend in my mind that it never ever happened.

When we were a safe distance away, I told Greg what had happened and my solution. He was sympathetic. “That was YOU?” he said. “Jeez! I thought a rat died under the bar! I was wondering why one of those chicks seemed to be jamming her elbow in my ribcage! You piece of (very dirty word)!”

Well, at least I retained my dignity.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Never Put it Off...Begin Procrastinating Immediately

My motto definitely could be, “Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?” However, I think even that may not make clear my procrastination problem. One example comes to mind, and this happened a few months ago (I have procrastinated writing about it until now). I came home from work one day to find that the brand-new telephone book had been left on my driveway. I grabbed it and, not knowing where to put it, decided to open my front door, throw it on my foyer floor and decide what to do with it later. So I did.

It landed on top of last year’s phone book.

That’s right. Last year's phone book sat on my foyer floor for an entire year. I had no idea it was there that long. I guess I would look at it and think to myself that I “would have to address that later”. And, somehow, “later” became twelve months. At least I finally had a place for it: the recycling bin.

So I guess my motto should be, “Why do today what you could further procrastinate and not even do tomorrow, or really ever, unless you are forced to?”

One Random Saturday Morning

It was a beautiful Saturday morning, which for me meant I was in as great a mood as I can possibly be. Well, as great a mood as one can be when his head is pounding and his mouth tastes like fermented cat urine. As you may have guessed, I had spent the previous night imbibing in cold, refreshing beverages of the kind that do not get sold at Baptist picnics. I’m what most people call a “lightweight”, which means I do not drink very much, and it does not take very much to, uh, put me in “high spirits”. So I know my limits and I rarely cross them. So last night when I was already tipsy and my friends were asking me if I wanted another beer, I knew what to do and I defiantly stood my ground.

“Sure,” I said defiantly.

Okay, so last night perhaps I wasn’t so smart. This is why I felt so miserable this morning. However, I knew there were certain things I wanted to get done today. On a lot of weekend mornings I usually offer to help my parents on a project they have that I call “Putting Away Their Leftover Breakfast Pancakes”. This is a job I take very seriously, and no hangover was going to stop me from helping my folks out. So I called my mom and she said to come over in about 20 minutes or so. Apparently, they had finished all the pancakes, so it would be a few minutes before she could make some new leftover pancakes that I could help them with. I’m just glad I can be there when they need me.

On the way to their house, I noticed that my fuel light was on and my gauge read completely empty. I’ve often wondered why, when I fill my gas tank after it reads empty, I find that there were usually about two or so gallons of fuel actually still in the tank. I imagine it’s to prevent people from running out of gas, but it also has the effect on a certain group of people like me—namely, morons—to push the limits to see how far they can go.

Apparently, not far. I ran out of gas. You would think with all the modern technology in new cars, especially mine which has a digital dashboard, there could be some way the vehicle could tell you that you really, truly, for sure, are about to run out of gas. I mean, it’s got a digital readout! Can’t there be warnings that say, in succession:


No, the car companies refuse to install this simple device, so there I stood. It’s times like this that I’m so glad I live in the same city as my parents. There is just a feeling of, well, security, knowing that when the chips are down, when things are all going wrong, I can turn to my beloved mom and dad for that truly understanding “helping hand”.

“You dumb ass,” my dad said helpfully.

I guess I forgot about the required lecture. My father’s motto seems to be “always be there when my kids need me, and make sure to make them feel a little dumber for having asked”. It’s a small price to pay, though, because he did help me get a gas can and some fuel for my car and my hands. By that, I mean that there’s apparently some law that says that new gas cans are not allowed to be water-tight. This results in gas being leaked on my hands, so that even after several washings I still smell like the street grate at an Exxon station.

In the end, my dad helping me out enabled me to return the favor by eating their fresh, hot-off-the-griddle leftovers. Before I end this column, I want to let you all know that as a bachelor, I have a lot of time to help people with this problem of having extra food. So if you ever need this type of service, let me know and I’ll pull up to your driveway right away. I’ll be the one that smells like Premium Unleaded.