that old person smell

I bought a used Jeep from an elderly couple. Though 10 years old, it looks brand new, and it only has 40,000 miles on it. They pampered it. Nope, there just aren't many downsides to buying a car from an old couple.

The stereo settings when I took ownership:

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apples and trees

Katrina is constantly complaining about my attire.

"So...is it just the one black t-shirt and sweatpants that used to be black but have now faded into some kind of Corpse Blue? Or do you have multiple?" she asks.

Or simply, "News flash: you are not Steve Jobs."

When we went out to dinner the other night, I made a point of wearing a maroon dress shirt and beige slacks. She didn't notice, of course, so I pointed it out. She took exception to my phrasing.

"That is not a 'costume,' John. Those are what normal people call 'clothes.'"

Tomato, tomahto.

And so we dined, and then we returned to her waiting husband and child. I would visit, but first a couple of uncomfortable things simply had to go.

Welcome back, t-shirt and sweats. Daddy wuvs you.

Everyone was seated on the patio when I returned. The nine year old girl looked up at me and grimaced.

"Why did you change? You looked so nice!"

giving the last word

My sister Nadine unwittingly taught me this nifty trick.

She and I were embroiled in a weeks-long argument about how, by virtue of my not liking her and not wanting her in my life, I was aggrieving her terribly. Her argumentation style is to make a list of grievances on a legal pad that she keeps by the phone. This is not hyperbole. I've seen the pad. When a conversation begins, she is prepared to dominate it, not letting her victim get a word in edgewise. Among other effects, this makes people not want her in their lives.

One day she left me a dozen or so hysterically angry voice messages, and I finally stopped listening to them. I deleted them instead. And then a miracle happened: they stopped coming.

I had blundered into a win-win scenario. Nadine got what she wanted: the last word. She got to define the narrative forever. I'm sure I came off well in that narrative. And me, I got what I most wanted: her absence. To me, that was the crown jewel. Letting her declare victory and spin whatever mythology shut her the fuck up was a small price to pay.

I routinely give people the last word now. Whenever I have a falling out with a friend, girlfriend, neighbor or co-worker, I just delete their emails without reading them and satisfied, they go away. You'd think they would want to extract a pound of flesh, but they don't. Or perhaps they think the email I didn't read extracted it.

So long as I don't care about what people I don't care about have to say, it costs me absolutely nothing. It's miraculous.

My doctor graced our 4pm appointment with his presence at 4:51 pm, pushing me into rush-hour traffic and making it impossible for me to keep my next appointment. I was in a fine mood.

Foregoing the apology, he went through the usual questions. "How much are you exercising?" he asked, bored.

"I do the treadmill five days a week for 45 minutes, and weights the other two days."

"I'd like to see you increase the weights," he grumbled.

"Yeah, well, you can suck it."

Anyone know a good primary care physician?

world cup roundup

Old Germany has defeated New Germany, and now American poseurs can shuffle back to Whole Foods to get their free-range, gluten-free Chardonnay. For the rest of us, the world's most popular, most gambler-fixed, least scoring, and most flopping sport disappears for another four years. It's not long enough.

By far the highlight of this latest event was a headline about the biter from Uruguay (who are nicknamed the "Blues"): Chewy Luis and the Blues

drunk john

Like most inebriates, Drunk John is a moron. He's alternately affectionate and loutish. He thinks people are endlessly interesting, most especially himself. And the f-bomb becomes his every other word instead of every third. When post-mortems hinge on the nuances of urination prepositions ("Did I pee on the parking garage, or in it?"), you are a moronic drunk.

For this reason, I do not often drink.

When still at Microsoft, for reasons that seemed important at the time but that elude me now, I had to take a 350 page document and hand-tag it into HTML. I arrived at 9pm and would work until my 5am handoff. "If I'm spending all night inserting p tags, I'm sure as hell not doing it sober," I said to the woman whose fault it was. She gave me a bottle of rum, and I started drinking and tagging.

I got blind drunk. Yet astoundingly, I didn't make a single mistake. I couldn't do that sober if you gave me 10 tries. What the..?

It was then that I learned, with great alarm, that moronic Drunk John is a better performer at work than, well, me. I'm crushed by a guy who pees in parking garages.

And I didn't think I could hate him more.

This phenomenon last manifested when I was working for Flo. I was in Redmond resolving some crisis, and my work was done, and I wanted to see my friends. "Are you absolutely certain that I'm done?" I asked. "Because I'm going to go drinking." She told me to go. 90 minutes and maybe eight bourbons later, my phone rang.

"GETBACKHEREOHMYFUCKTHEBUILDISONFIRE!" she shrieked, or words to that effect.

I wobbled back to Microsoft, and I fixed that problem. Then I fixed several more, quickly and creatively, smiling and agreeable. I effervesced with great ideas.

"I want Drunk John to work for me forever," a bewildered Flo said afterward. "You, not so much."

victim of the week: andrew rector

This Yankees fan fell asleep during a game.

ESPN's cameras showed him, and the announcers made gentle fun of him. Naturally, he's suing the announcers, ESPN, and, tellingly, Major League Baseball for defamation. How much is one's pride worth?

It turns out it's a life-changing $10,000,000.

I don't think Andrew Rector is a fatty cow, which apparently only he heard the announcers say. From his seat. Nay, I say he is the Greatest Living American. Nod off in public, embarrass yourself, and then demand payment? That takes guts. Lots and lots of guts. Prodigious guts. He's a hero.

save me

Unlike anywhere else, in Seattle I am identified with football. Almost exclusively. I'm "the football guy" by virtue of the fact that I'd followed the sport before January, 2014.

When I dropped in on my neighbors' party Saturday night, it took all of three seconds for a familiar question to be asked. "So do you root for the Seahawks now?" Mind you, they're not asking it ironically or accusingly. Not at all. They truly think this is how it works. Why wouldn't I have started rooting for the Seahawks this year? They did.

Not wanting to be impolite, I didn't offer $1000 to any self-described Seahawks fan who could name 10 players. But I sure wanted to. That money was practically FDIC insured. I contended myself with sighing a comparatively polite "Nope."

They sputtered confusion. "I...I don't know how you couldn't...I mean...that was so FUN!" said one woman, mysteriously upset, not even looking me in the eye. The others nodded and echoed sincere mystification as to why I did not hop aboard the wagon that had brought them so much pretend happiness.

Fanship is like every other social interaction else in Seattle: a thin veneer wrapped around stale air. The trip to Pittsburgh cannot happen soon enough.

the dumb one

My dog Fredo ran full speed into a bench the other day. It was my fault. I'd waited too long to get the dogs groomed, and his bangs were completely obscuring his eyes.

That said, I seldom run full speed when can't see. I'm just sayin.'

I got the dogs groomed, and now four creepy, unblinking, clearly discernible doll eyes stare at me when I work. Later that day, Fredo ran full speed into the same park bench.

multitasking

I'm one of the few people, I think, who bought one of those Roomba things and actually uses it. My dogs stay downstairs, and the entire ground floor is hardwood, so this little robot vacuum fits my needs nicely.

Is it a noisy nuisance? Sure, I suppose. You'd have to ask the dogs. Me, I press the On button and retreat upstairs to use the treadmill, serenaded by the screams of terror emanating from below.

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you're just bitter

You're just bitter.

I hear this once in a while when I make fun of Microsoft, invariably from people still employed there. It's a curious charge. Why on Earth would I be bitter toward the company that shoveled piles and piles of cash my way? I'm actually pretty grateful. And I have overwhelmingly fond memories of my time there, particularly of the '90s.

I bailed not out of bitterness but because the company changed out from under me. When I started, I'd hear colleagues talk about making the stock go up. Every single day. By the time I left, that ethic was a distant memory. Quaint, even. I saw control shifting to dullards who think that meetings and slidedecks are deliverables and who, gallingly, never think in terms of returning the company's financial investment in them. Of being more benefit than cost. I had no respect for the new guard, so it was hard to imagine that they would continue to respect me.

It was someone else's time. So I left for a better fit.

Much as I watched with alarm as Microsoft took three years to release their iPhone clone, I now watch from afar as they impotently glom on to the pop culture flavor of the month. Their struggles make me feel not bitter, but embarrassed. And more than a little sad. It's the same feeling I got when I visited my childhood home and saw that the trees I'd once climbed were cut down. Both places are less, now.

And I reserve the right to mock the people who wrecked my childhood home. Watching Jesse Pinkman turn on X-Boxes worldwide? That crap is just funny.

isn't it romantic?

Last night I watched The Bodyguard for the first time in 21 (!) years. It holds up reasonably well, but oh, that final kiss.

Check out the sawing action. Costner looks like he's trying to root out a stem of broccoli that Houston has wedged between her front teeth. Kiss is at 1:55.

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Thanks, Obama.

Source

character test

I recently crossed paths online with a woman whose work I greatly admire. I did her a favor, and in thanks, she apparently wants to send me a garment.

"What size shirt do you wear?" she asked.

At this point, I should mention that I consider this person to be one of the most staggeringly attractive women in the world.

This is a test of one's character, I thought. Will you be honest and tell her Extra Extra Blimpy, or—

"Medium."

• • •

Edit
Offers Allie: "You should have added Extra large in the biceps."

suspension of disbelief

In Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise plays a soldier who kills an alien, gets covered in its blood, and from then on repeats the same day, a la Groundhog Day. He relives the same invasion over and over, getting killed each time. At first he plays against type; he's not much of a soldier. But fear not. Soon the universe rights itself, and Tom Cruise is the very, very best at something again.

He meets a woman in battle who, seeing how he anticipates everything that's about to happen, recognizes what's going on. How? Because time-looping happened to her, too, but she "lost the ability."

How does she know she lost the ability? Wouldn't determining that require, like, dying? I thought for the next 90 minutes.

"It's called suspension of disbelief," my friend sneered later, eyes rolling.

I hear that dismissal a lot, and I've never understood its invocation. It's not like I want to find fault with a movie I paid to see. Sometimes, though, a flashing neon "FAULT" sign distracts me.

I have no problem with aliens, or time looping, or alien blood causing time looping, or Tom Cruise macking on women 20 years his junior. Are those not sufficient disbelief-suspending credentials? Can I hold a movie to the standard of its own internal logic without it being my own character defect?

"I guess I just like liking things," my friend sniffs.

goooooooooooooo far away

It's World Cup time and I'm in Seattle, which means it's time for the quadrennial infestation of gluten-free poseurs who suddenly and conspicuously want to talk about soccer.

It's 8:30 in the morning, and I've been subjected to this three times. It's gonna be a long day.

reader mail

Thanks for all the additional restaurant suggestions.

I hereby promise to double my body's gravitational field.

pittsburgh, ho

I pulled the trigger. I'm spending this football season in Pittsburgh. I feel slightly better about the Steelers' prospects this year than I did last year. The offense is loaded, but the defense is thin and young, so this could still go south for me.

I've started a "Stuff to do in Pittsburgh" collection of bookmarks. It's 12 restaurants and 1 museum that I added because I felt sheepish about the 12 restaurants.

My first thought: "Wow! Whoever Ed is, he's seriously got my respect!"

I might not be terribly smart.

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red light, green light

My good neighbors, Madam and Eve, have a rotten old white neighbor too. Theirs is named Howard. The day they moved in, he introduced himself to them by wandering over in his wife-beater and underwear. He scoldingly showed them where the property line is and told them they should not under any circumstance touch one of the trees.

But that wasn't what Madam remembers most. "His...his...his wrinkled old man junk was flopping everywhere," she told me through her splayed fingers.

He's since complained a couple times more, which is amazing considering what great neighbors they are—by which I mean they're absent 330 days a year. I happened to be there when he recently flopped his junk over to complain that the light by their front door, which is on perhaps 20 hours per year, keeps him up at night.

"So put a fucking plant on your windowsill," I told him. "Problem solved."

Howie hates me. Which rather works out, symmetry-wise.

The girls are absent during the week, which is when he wanders onto their property to make changes to things he does not like. Today I took a picture of him cutting branches off their trees. I sent it to Madam.

"I request permission to tell him off," I said, certain that I would be sanctioned to scare the crap out of an entitled Metamuville old fart.

"Denied."

Sigh.

Someday, someone will green-light me to go full-bore asshole. She will be The One.

bonzai

I took the dogs to the park at 6am this morning, as I often do when I want to avoid seeing other people there, which is always. A man stood in the middle of the park, flying a remote-controlled airplane that droned noisily even from 500 yards away.

I hadn't even fully crafted my insult about his parentage when the crazily looping plane smacked him in the back of the head, knocking him flat.

I don't know how his day started, but mine started delightfully.

charmed

"Why don't you date?" texted unbefuckinglievably needy Anna.

"What makes you think I don't date?"

"Because you won't go out with me."

•      •      •

Anna's texts continued to pour in. "What does it mean that he still has pictures with his ex-wife in them on his Facebook???? I don't like that at all. Bad sign!!!!"

I stared at the stupidity on my phone and tried hard to remember that my phone is innocent.

"Nothing. It means nothing. You haven't even filed for divorce yet," I replied. "What exactly do you think he owes you?"

She conceded the point and asked if I thought she was needy, which elicited a snort. "Yes," I replied. "Quite." And then she stopped texting. For an hour.

"We need to get drinks and talk."

hi, mum! we're home!

I'm presently watching the BBC's brilliant 1973 WWII documentary The World at War. It's 20 hours and counting of my wondering "How on earth did they get that footage, and why haven't I seen anything like it before?"

That it's a sober viewing is obvious, but one moment did provide me with a great belly laugh. The tone is grave indeed as they show the devastation of the German bombings on England. We watch a full hour of London burning, ending with 1942.

Concluding the episode on an upbeat note, the narrator solemnly intones "But England would no longer have to fight...alone."

An American war plane taxis to the camera. The name of the plane, painted on its side, pulls into view.

"Stinky."

test of character

After a recent conversation about the Battle of Stalingrad, gay buddy Mike sent me a link to Abba's song Waterloo.

If you clicked it, you're braver than me. Excising a brain tumor is easier than getting Abba out of your head. When I didn't rise to the bait, Mike wrote:

"Huh. I guess it's now official. You will never use the word faggoty."

finally, an honest self-evaluation

I get occasional complaints about the content of this site. Dorkass is no exception. Her chief complaint: there are not nearly enough Dorkass posts.

Back when she was reporting to me, a purely accounting detail that had no bearing whatsoever on my reality, she submitted her self-evaluation. I remember little from this review, save one sentence:

"I am a broad-based writer."

Convulsing and flicking tears from my cheek, I slaved over a response. I believe I settled on "Yeah. Freebasing doughnuts will do that."

Sequel to this post

  • "Sent from my iPhone" Guy—Seriously, you can't figure out how to delete the ad from every single email you've sent me in the last five years? Ask a Millennial for help.
  • Millennials—Oh, sure, a lot of 'em are my friends. And they all expend 10,000 calories a day talking about their triggers and complaining about income inequality instead of, you know, working. Don't you dare correct them in a meeting. That's bullying. They are the experts on this topic; they are the Bullied Generation. I just hope I'm dead before these pussies surrender the country to China, just to prove how racist they aren't.
  • "DROOOOOID" guy—This is the guy who uses the grating "DROOOOOID!" sound as his incoming mail sound. My server in a Chinese restaurant was guilty of this last week, and the brother gets a lot of mail. Each occurrence had me gripping my fork tighter than the last. The Chinese waiter torture.
  • Gives out my email to marketers guy—This is usually a family member, so it's a bit of a cheat, as I'd already pay up to $7500 to avoid speaking to them. I'll get an email from Spams Plus saying "Nadine thought you would be interested in polka-dotted whale lamps!" And then I'll get 30,000 more until the end of time. 100,000 if I click the "Unsubscribe" link.
  • "Richard Sherman isn't stupid, stupid. He went to Stanford!" guy—Two attempts at the SAT. Neither achieved half the Stanford average. Stupidity is officially on the table.

How was your weekend? Good, good. Hey, do me a favor and shut up for a second. Listen about my weekend.

In a house with no paper towels, no laundry detergent, and no gloves, I descended the stairs Saturday morning to find that the smart dog had explosive diarrhea. The smart designation is important, because the dumb dog was free to roam and frolic in this paradise for hours. It was on walls. It was on furniture and pillows and wiring. It was ground into the woodwork and into every canine orifice. Some was even somehow, miraculously, in the toilet bowl. Apparently Fredo worked up a powerful thirst.

Do you take the rancid dogs with you to the store, or do you go alone and let them party on? It's a no-win scenario, my personal Kobayashit Maru.

reporting to the nearest counter

In honor of Dirt's departure and my seeing Dorkass this week (I'm low on material), here's one of my favorite stories about each of them.

Dorkass coined the expression when I was agonizing just-a-little-too-much about the intentions of the girl I was dating. Dorkass had seen enough. She was disgusted.

"Report to the nearest counter and turn in your penis," she sneered.

We were both immediately delighted with the expression. We use it all of the time now, whenever we see some guy being weak, needy, simpering. "Report to the nearest counter, pal," we'll chide.

"Huh?" he'll reply.

• • •

I am less than a man.

This realization hit me one night when I sat on Dirt's back deck and listened to Dirt and his cousin trade stories. Both are former star college athletes and former pro players, one in football and the other in hockey. So right. What can I possibly offer this conversation? The Hunkering story? No, I decided to just shut up and drink Dirt's '77 tawny and listen.

I listened to tales of their grisly injuries, both those they inflicted and those inflicted upon them. About the insane, testosterone-crazed characters they met. About the many, many teammates' little sisters they banged. About border runs after bed-check. About what it's like to play against the best athletes in the world.

I spent college studying literature, going home every night to my girlfriend, setting picks on morbidly obese guys, and having intermittent sex with one woman, I thought. Hmm. Perhaps it's best not to share.

The story that sent me over the edge follows. Dirt's cousin took a 100 mph slapshot in the eye, shattering his eye socket and leaving hamburger-like tendrils of meat where his face used to be. The state of New York determined that the injury entitled him to $10,000 in workman's comp funds, to be put toward plastic surgery. What did he do with the money? He smeared Vitamin E oil into the hamburger and bought his girlfriend an engagement ring.

"Report to the nearest counter," Dorkass said in my imagination as I drove home. "That is a man."

humbled

Dirt and Kiki have a severely—indeed, excruciatingly—autistic daughter. It is no overstatement to call her feral. Think Helen Keller. She cannot converse, nor understand, nor conceive of danger. She does not acknowledge other people. At nine, she is not toilet trained and she often has hysterical meltdowns in public, causing well-meaning strangers to call the police on my friends on several occasions—out of fear that the child was being abused when, in fact, she was simply not being allowed to sprint into traffic.

We were discussing their lives, and Dirt talked about how much he hates his job. "But having the kid changed my perspective forever. She centered me," he said, puffing on a cigar thoughtfully. "I am humbled."

Wow, I thought. That's easily the most sensitive thing this guy has ever sa—

"I am totally humbled. I surrender. That kid fuckin' eviscerated my pride. It's shredded and mangled. I have no dignity left. None. She humiliates me on a daily basis. Going to work is my vacation."

It's healthy in its way.

hurricane friendship

My friends left this morning, a profoundly sad occasion for me. Kiki confirmed what I'd already suspected when she said she let Dirt drink too much last night because, well, "it's the last time." At this writing, they're emptying their storage locker into a truck they'll drive back east, to their new home. I take some solace that as Dirt loads mildewy furniture this morning, his forehead feels like it was jackhammered. You're welcome, traitor.

On the upside, I now begin the process of restoring order to my home, which looks like a tornado blew through a gypsy trailer park. I think I'll hire a forensics expert to explain the coconut on my ceiling.

Coffee drinkers, answer me this: what's wrong with reusing mugs? How can two coffee drinkers use 11 mugs in 3 days?

You all do this. Every last one of you. Don't lie to me.

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