Miss(ed) Manners

September 30, 2005

Miss(ed) Manners: Small Life Experiences

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 4:56 pm

It’s a shitty thing when you run out of material to write about. Sure, you can’t ever really run out of material when your topics are as vacuous and varied as the ones I frequent. But sometimes it’s just not there. By “it” I of course mean the superhaha juice.

Very recently, my friend Max, a man of unerring genius came up with a term to describe the things that I do when I’ve run out of material. He called them, “Dave’s Small Life Experiences.”

Small life experiences can be anything. They’re designed to expose myself to parts of life that I’d normally never get to see. They range from the super small, i.e. going to a movie drunk just to watch it, to the somewhat medium, i.e. going on on a road trip all by myself.

More often than not these things work out just the way they’re supposed to. I get to do something stupid and write about it and then everyone laughs, usually at me. Which is cool, I guess.

Then, every now and again, something goes horribly, dreadfully wrong. What follows is an account of just two such experiences.

Small Life Experience Misfire #1: Drunk Movie Review #2

So I’m sure some of you remember this installment:
http://www.rhythmism.com/features/?id=50

I like to think that it was among my best. It was a hilarious evening filled with hilarity and hee haw-ness. The notes were awesome drunktastic gems of funny and I promised myself that I’d do it again.

Well last night I did. I got tickets for the 9:40 showing of “Dirty Love,” a film written by and starring Jenny McCarthy. It seemed suitably horrible enough that only alcohol could make it worth watching. I drank an entire bottle of Skyy vodka and headed out. Here are the notes:

As you can see, there aren’t many of them. There are two reasons for this. By the time I got to the theater the alcohol had my balls in a vice grip so tight that I couldn’t see straight. I was throwing popcorn around to try to keep my mind off of the contents of my stomach that were staging an active protest and trying to force their way out by way of my nasal cavity.

In addition, the movie was so bad that I actually left thirty minutes into it. Here’s a rundown: Her boyfriend cheats on her, she catches him, she gets over it and fucks Shitbreak from American Pie. Carmen Electra acts like she’s black in a really stereotypical way. The kind of way where your friends laugh at it just to make you feel better and then talk about how you’re a racist behind your back.

Here are some of the notes translated from drunkwriting:

“Ryan Reynolds is not Mike (Noiseboy), but he looks like him.”
Five stars, asshat, that joke’s NEVER been told before!

“Cinema Village is a good village to raise a kid!”
This doesn’t even make sense. I make myself ill.

“Holy Shizzle, I know the girl in the dance commercial.”
No I don’t. No one involved in cinema would ever associate with me.

The lesson here? Some movies can actually be too bad to watch. Even drunk. Also, it doesn’t help if you’ve seen your “too drunk to talk line” and sprinted over it like a fat kid rushing to get to the hot cinnamon buns when a bakery opens.

Small Life Experience Misfire #2: Shaving

About two weeks ago I got kind of tired of my hair. It might be a little insensitive to those who lack it, but I’ve got a fucking surplus over here. Apparently I inherited the gene that makes hair grow like kudzu. I’ve got to get my head clipped every three weeks or I start looking like a goddamned koosh ball and that look isn’t even popular in Williamsburg.

So there I was, sitting at home with the girlfriend on a Friday night and I said, “Hey, want to shave my head?” Sounds almost sexy right? Well as sexy as huddling over the edge of a man’s shower while running an industrial strength clipper through your head can get I guess.

It ended up working out great, that’s not the misfire. The misfire happened after we ended up going out for the night. It was fun, a few people commented on my newly shorn cranium, the reaction was for the majority, favorable. Then we went to the afterparty.

Where a bunch of girls, my girlfriend included, decided it might be funny to shave my armpits. This, I thought would be hilarious, what a great story to tell!

Well fifteen minutes later I had a gaggle of women surrounding me with Venus leg razors in hand going to town. In my weakened state I failed to notice them start to shave my chest. The once light hearted mood of the evening turned feral as their depilatory urges consumed them in feverish hair-lust. I pulled my shirt back on and broke out.

A little too early it would seem, as they were only half way through.

I ended up having to shave everything else just to match. I looked like a twelve year old for the next couple days. My pubescent chest is pale and unshaped. I realized that the hair actually makes me look a little bad ass, in a Tom Selleck, riding in a helicopter, possibly gay, sort of way.

Lessons? Are there any lessons here? Not really. Bad luck and bad decisions happen to anyone. For the most part, these little experiences have been good for me. Sure, every now and then one of them goes horribly wrong and I’m left as hairless as a pinky rat swimming in Nair. But life isn’t going to come around and experience you. Sometimes you’ve got to take the initiative and get out there and try to shave its chest.

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September 16, 2005

Miss(ed) Manners: Fair is Fair

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 4:31 pm

For me, animal testicles are a constant source of wonderment, bordering on eerie fascination. I grew up across a dirt road from a herd of show cattle and every now and again the bull would traipse past my field of view literally dragging his massive sack behind him. Mix that in with my love of gangster movies and their characters’ proclivity for commenting on each other’s balls, i.e., “paisan, you’ve got a real set of balls on you!” and you can perhaps see where it all began.

So, it was initially the chance of viewing some spectacular nuttage that spurred me to revisit my hometown for the annual Columbia County Fair over Labor Day weekend. Sure, there were some other reasons, the rides, the bad food, the portly, mulleted wraiths of my childhood walking under the neon lights and bathed in the second hand meth sweat of carnie folk. I came for the memories but ultimately stayed for the sheep balls.

All balls aside you can learn a lot at a small town country fair. It’s just one of the smaller slices of life that get left in the pie tin by us big city folk. Before I go much further though:

A Brief Testicular Interlude

Have you ever seen anything so amazing? We arrived at the fair in the late afternoon. By we I mean: myself, my girlfriend, my friends Sunny and Brendan and my older brother, Jon. For Jon and I it was a return to a yearly ritual that we’d left behind in High School. While I’d been joking about going to see animal balls, I think my companions were still a little surprised when I mentioned that we were making a bee-line to the livestock area.

Country fairs aren’t just death trap centrifuge rides and cotton candy. They’re an annual meeting of the local agricultural heavyweights in an all out husbandry brawl to secure studding contracts, blue ribbon accolades and industry contacts. Think “network cocktail hour” only with more hay and feces.

I had hoped that we’d get to see a wide array of livestock nuts, but as it turns out, it’s not a really great idea to have a bunch of testosterone laden beasts around children and female animals. So we had to settle for sheep, because, well, they’re sheep. We ogled for a while and I just want to point something out: Some of them are shaved and some aren’t. That means that somewhere out there someone gets to shave sheep scrot.

How awesome is that?

“Hey, what do you do?”

“I shave sheep testicles.”

“I play lead guitar for a rock band, but you win, dude.”

See?

My fixation sated for the moment, we left the stables behind and moved on to get the full frontal effect of the carnival. This was my first time back in almost ten years. When we were young the Columbia County Fair was the end of the summer ritual. It was that wrap up weekend where you’d meet your friends after months of absence and tell all the stories you couldn’t tell your parents. Girls were there to be stared at, rides were there to be ridden, if you were lucky you’d leave with motion sickness and a hickey.

Back now, as an adult (by some standards), everything was different. Not just in that “everything seems so small” sort of visiting your elementary school way, but like everything was in sepia tone, faded and dingy. We headed for the nearest fried food stand.

Fair food is a two a day football practice for your arteries. Funnel cake, candy apples, popcorn, grinders, subs, cardboard pizza and bloomin’ onions. Everything smells good, looks bad and goes down worse. We chowed down and looked at the silliness unfolding around us. There were roving bands of thirteen year old thugs with cell phones, tarted up seventh grade girls out looking for boys. Screaming children, mullets galore and a white-trash-a-palooza sea raging everywhere.

Our stomachs already rumbling, we made our way to the rides.

I find carnival rides to be more frightening than Tara Reid’s host of communicable diseases. They have to be transported from town to town on the back of a flatbed. That means they’re constantly being driven and bounced around, subjected to rust and decay and operated by some of society’s choicest individuals.

When I was a kid I’d go on thirty or forty of them, my bowells of steel wouldn’t settle for anything less. My friends and I would sit in the Gravitron upside-down for three or four goes at a time. In some ways, carnival rides are a great metaphor for small town life, you don’t go anywhere but round and round and we loved it.

Not now, nuh uh. We did three rides, all circular in concept and called it a night. I could feel the meatballs in my gullet pushing out like a hernia with a grudge. I felt a little upset at myself for being unable to enjoy them as much as I did as a kid.

This note made me remember how we used to communicate. You’d sychronize Swatches with your parents and hope to meet up later on. There was no electronic tether, you could really get lost.

We played a some carnival games, dropped a few quarters on Splash down and took in a tractor pull. As is usually the case for me with experiences like this, I went in with no expectations. It was great to see the people I’d grown up with. Though friends of my childhood were conspicuously absent, they were replaced by new faces of the same type of small town people.

They were more than happy with the fair, and I found myself even more upset for not enjoying it as much as I used to. My joy with the simple yearly pleasure seemed to have vanished with my residence there, having been replaced with amusement at the spectacle of it all. At least, I thought to myself, there’d always be sheep balls.

September 5, 2005

Miss(ed) Manners: The Merry-Go-Round

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 4:30 pm

It’s cyclical, this life thing. As people pass on from this world, smaller people pass into it. I’ve always thought it was funny that babies are often just as wrinkly as old people. Like God saying, “just in case you had any doubt about Buddhism, here’s a reminder: you’re pruny at both ends.”

Recently, people I know have been cranking out babies like delicious hot-cakes. It’s all life-affirming warm happy times when a baby is delivered healthily and happily. Festivals are thrown, people dance in the streets and champagne is toasted as the parents come to grips with the impending assault on their sleep schedule.

Then there are funerals. Not nearly as happy a time. No one likes saying goodbye, especially when that goodbye is forever. I recently attended a funeral and it’s been about a year since we buried my grandfather. Inevitably the somber conversations of rememberance set your mind to the task of contemplating your own mortality, something I’ve been doing for the past few weeks.

Undoubtedly the biggest drawback to having lost religion is the contemplation of death. Sure the human race is cyclical, people come, people go, life goes on. But me? I’m about as cyclical as a scratched CD. In a few score years (hopefully) I’m going to hit a pot-hole in the road of life and I’ll start skipping until someone presses the eject button and then it’s glove compartment time. It’s the constant re-realization of this fact that always make me get a little cold-sweat trickle down the back of my spine.

I’ve got an inkling that this feeling is behind the sadness of funerals. If any of us weren’t really afraid of death there’d never be a tear shed in sadness over the passing of another. So maybe having lost my religion didn’t play into it as much as I thought, but who knows?

With thoughts of mortality jumbling around in my brain, I attended this most recent funeral and observed. First off, apparently I was raised in the mountains because I had no clue that the rest of America already has death figured out. There are certain times for certain things, certain types of flowers to get, certain prayers that are said, etc. It made a certain amount of sense to me that in a time of sadness you wouldn’t want to have to worry about coming up with something new. As usual, whenever I peer into the world of the other 95% I was intrigued.

Over the course of the events for the weekend with thoughts of ritual now added to the already volatile mix of babies and death, I started to plan out how I want my funeral to happen. Honestly, it started off as a joke. Now that I’ve got it written down I’m going to have it formed into a legally binding contract so that my next of kin must carry it out.

Dave’s Funeral Shower

It’s going to be called a shower because babies have showers and they’re fun. I think it’s illegal to wear black to a shower of any kind, even in New York. There are wedding showers, baby showers, engagement showers, even rain showers are pretty fun. You can’t have a sad time at a shower.

Okay, the details:

Cremation seems like the obvious choice. Hell, I’ve been slowly cremating myself since puberty, why not just go all the way once I’ve shuffled off the coil? It’s actually integral to the later more intricate rituals involved in what would be a yearly event.

Yes, yearly. Since the Funeral Shower is going to be both fun and legally binding, it’s going to happen every year on the day of my birth (or an observed weekend, third sunday of May perhaps).

The Vessels

At some point after I pass on, the executor of my estate (the shower planner) will have seven vessels made in my likeness. These hermetically sealed containers will hold my ashes forever. As you can see from the artist’s rendition above, they will be glorious. (They’ll all be the same size, for reasons explained in the scavenger hunt portion of the shower).

Ideally I’d like each of the vessels to hold the ashes from different parts of my body, but I’m guessing I won’t be in much of a state to dictate by then.

The Scavenger Hunt

This is where it gets awesome. The day before the shower the Shower Planner will have hidden my ashes in various places. Around these hiding places She or He will plan a scavenger hunt wherein seven teams of my friends and progeny will progress through clues and terrain to be the first to return to the altar (see below) with the Vessel. The scavenger hunt would take place between the hours of 10 – 1 and from 3 until midnight, depending on the ingenuity of that year’s Shower Planner.

Lunch and The Episodes

During the scavenger hunt lunch break, the seven teams will reconvene for a delicious lunch and the Episodes which are roughly sketches of important periods or events in my life that will be acted out by the different teams. The team with the best Episode will be awarded care of the Altar for the next year. (The altar is going to be built by me, out of wood, at some point)

The Winner

The winner/s of the scavenger hunt would get to display the Vessels in their house for the following year. Or put it in a closet, depending on how much of a conversation piece they become.

Tell me you’ve ever heard of a better idea and I’ll call you a liar. I mean, it’s pretty obvious where all of this came from. We all want to be remembered. Most people do it through children, whose children will hopefully remember them when their merry-go-round’s music stops playing. It’s the cheapest form of immortality and it’s built-in.

Not to discount the creation of life at all, mind you. Most of my plan involves having a healthy progeny around to fill out the Shower. But honestly, it’s such a bizarre and complex plan for a reason. What better motivation to be good to your friends and family than wanting them to participate in a yearly celebration of your death long enough for it to become dogma?

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