Two weeks ago, another senseless mass shooting occurred in the U.S. The perpetrator, Aaron Alexis, stole twelve American lives (in addition to his own), injured another eight, and decimated most of what remained of the fragile hope I carried in my heart. The hope that this attack would be the one that removes semi-automatic and automatic weapons out of the hands of anyone but the police, security personnel, and the military. The hope that this attack would be the one to convince anyone suffering from a mental illness to seek help – without the threat of societal judgement. The hope that this attack would be the last. For a long time, anyway.
Perhaps I was naive.
The worst part is that when I write about this attack, I don’t mean the shooting committed by Aaron Alexis. No, I’m still reeling from Aurora. James Holmes’ hang dog face was burned into my eyelids the moment I glimpsed his cartoonish red hair and sly, but vacant – maybe too vacant - expression. Most serial killers don’t stand out because they’re too busy blending in. They live lives that don’t draw attention. Or suspicion. (Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of Dexter recently, so I’ve got mad criminal profiling skills.)
Similarly, many who’ve known mass murderers – defined as a person who kills four or more people in a single incident – will confirm that they were shocked to discover that their friend, family member, neighbor or colleague was arrested for the first-degree murder of, not one, or even two people, but a dozen. All at once. When interviewed by the press, they nearly always say: ”He seemed like a nice guy.” “He was always friendly to me.” “He kept to himself, but was really pleasant.” No one ever says, “I saw this coming from a mile away. That dude was a burnt sienna short of a box of Crayolas.”
Mass murderers are almost never biker-types with tat sleeves, shaved heads and a long, deep facial scars. They don’t typically look like Walter White; they more closely resemble your next door neighbor with the expensive landscaping and the Lexus…or his shy, college-educated son. Aaron Alexis could have passed for my friend’s husband. But James Holmes remains an enigma. On the surface, he makes Charles Manson look like your favorite babysitter, albeit one with a swastika carved into his forehead. James Holmes looks utterly cray cray, but he’s almost textbook – and that’s where the problem lies. After all, he was enrolled in a prestigious, neuroscience doctoral program. He had access to thousands of scholarly tomes about mental disorders, and made a classroom presentation entitled,”Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders.” Certainly, we’re all hoping that he is mentally ill, because if he’s not, it’s terrifying to conceive that a sane person could mow down a dozen innocent moviegoers, and injure another 58, with such cold precision.
So when I read that Aaron Alexis had been hearing voices in the weeks prior to the shooting, I felt a sense of relief. The monster who terrorized the employees of the Washington Navy Yard was mentally ill. He wasn’t a bad person; he was a sick person who did a bad, bad thing. One whom believed his insomnia was caused by people “using some kind of microwave machine” that made his body vibrate and prevented him from sleeping – a fact that only cemented my resolve that Alexis was as much of a victim as the innocent people whom he killed. A victim who had notified authorities about his paranoid hallucinations, and, yet, nothing was done to prevent the heinous crime Alexis was to commit mere weeks later.
Last night, I was reading an article about the politicians responsible for the federal government shutdown. When I came across the following statement, my heart lodged in my throat:
And I am concerned. They are shipping all the, I’m concerned about the microchips. That they are in many, many of the things that we own. And some of those are embedded, I believe, with, with detection and, uh, capabilities or tracking capabilities.
That’s no mass murderer; it’s Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri (R), who apparently believes that her Chinese-manufactured blender is listening in as she makes her morning smoothie. What’s her solution to this dilemma? “We need to have a new 007 James Bond movie with China as the bad guys.” Erm, didn’t we do that already in Tomorrow Never Dies? I would think if China actually feared Hollywood, they wouldn’t illegally manufacture and sell bootleg copies of every major motion picture released, without paying a yuan in royalties.
Not surprisingly, she’s also a birther who has publicly said, “I have doubts that it is really his [President Obama's] birth certificate…” Funny, she hasn’t questioned Sen. Ted Cruz’s citizenship – and he admits that he was hatched in Canada. (Yes, Canada, you owe us big time for that one. I don’t care if you gave us Ryan Gosling and William Shatner; you’re also responsible for Justin Bieber, so this is strike deux.)
More alarming is the fact that she also appears to be hearing voices. Just yesterday, she was quoted as saying, “The American people have spoken already on this. They do not want Obamacare.” Really? According to RealClearPolitics.com, five times as many people have already visited the Obamacare website than have ever visited Medicare.gov. In fact, it’s been reported that 4.7 million people dropped by Healthcare.gov within the first twenty-four hours of the site being launched, despite the fact that the federal government had just been shutdown by a handful of Tea Party zealots attempting to hold it hostage. So, who are the faces behind these “American people” Hartzler speaks of? Maybe this one:
Rep. Hartzler credits God with inspiring her decision to become a politician. At the age of nine. Did it occur to her that God may have only been encouraging her to run for Playground Committee Chairwoman, not Congress? What does God’s inspiration sound like, anyway? My vote would go to Morgan Freeman, but I suspect Hartzler’s God sounds more like Charleston Heston: “Run for Congress, Vicky, or I’ll pry this gun out of my cold, dead hands and show you how I parted the Red Sea.” The poster child for the anti-choice movement, she supports charging women who have abortions with first degree murder, and the physicians who perform said abortions with second degree murder. Climate change? She’s not buying it. She’s not even certain it exists…but if it does, she doubts ”that man has a very significant role in that.”
I’d bet that Rep. Hartzler believes unicorns shit rainbows, but considering that she is a rabid, anti-LGBT activist, I doubt she recognizes the existence of rainbows at all. Kinda like gay marriage. Evolution. Gravity. On the upside, Hartzler supports increasing the size of the Navy in her land-locked Missouri. Erm, okay. You never know when North Korea is going to invade Mark Twain Lake.
While I’m relieved that it appears that Rep. Hartzler is suffering from a mental illness – much like Aaron Alexis – I’m concerned that she, along with a small Tea Party minority, seems to possess the power to shut down the federal government. When did we decide to hand the keys to the asylum over to the inmates? Why is John Boehner listening to a vapid, former home economics teacher whose greatest, single accomplishment so far is her contribution to passing a Missouri constitutional amendment banning gay marriage…in a state in which gay marriage was already illegal. Nothing like killing a fly with a jackhammer, huh, Hartzler?
If we continue to allow politicians who hear voices and hold conference calls with God, yet speak in whispers when within sight of a household appliance, to make decisions about the future of the United States, we could end up with much worse than 800,000 federal government staffers being furloughed indefinitely and Panda Cam going dark. In some ways, political terrorism is no different than a mass shooting, and the perpetrators no different than Aaron Alexis. Both wield power through fear. Both directly and indirectly impact the lives of thousands of people through intimidation, through terror. Both control the majority through the acts of the minority. Both hurt people.
For her sake, I hope Rep. Vicky Hartzler is mentally ill. Because if she’s not, that would make her a monster.
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Note: This post was not written, in any way, to trivialize or capitalize upon the victims of both the Aurora movie theater or Washington Navy Yard shootings. Please know that I offer my deepest condolences to both the victims and their families. Nor is this post intended to poke fun at those who bravely suffer from mental illness. Except for Vicky Hartzler. I was totally making fun of her.
Update: As per The Huffington Post, a Government Accountability Office analysis of Drug Enforcement Administration data has named Missouri the “methiest” state with 1,825 meth lab busts and seizures in 2012. One of only three states with over 1,000 incidents, Missouri beat out West Virginia, which ranks second with 1,585 arrests and seizures. Mother Jones reports that the most common victim of meth burn, often caused by the “shake and bake” manufacturing method, is under 4 years of age. Way to go, Rep. Hartzler! Maybe you should focus less on your anti-LGBT, anti-choice, anti-Chinese appliances, and anti-Affordable Healthcare Act platform, and focus on something that’s a genuine problem in your state.
It’s true. I’ve denied it for years, not because I was ashamed of being a hypochondriac, but because I didn’t think the word applied to me. Why? Miss Snarky Pants, with all of her books, her degrees, her 4-year reign as FCS’s Spelling Bee Champion – don’t be a hater! – never bothered to look up the friggin’ word in a dictionary. Nope, I determined its meaning from overhearing its usage in every day speech. My parents, for example, used the word a lot, and, come to think of it, slewed their eyes towards me whenever they uttered it. For all these years, I’d been operating under the delusion that a hypochondriac was a person who believed they had many illnesses, when, in fact, they did not.
Color me red when I discovered the error of my ways. The cornerstone upon which the entire foundation of who I am and what I believe was crushed when I Googled hypochondriac, only to discover that Dictionary.com defines it as “an excessive preoccupation with one’s health, usually focusing on some particular symptom, [sic] as cardiac or gastric problems.” For a moment, I thought, That’s not me. I usually think I have cancer. I’m not worried about my heart…except for when I can feel its beat pulsing in my temples, and then I’m certain I’m suffering an aneurysm. Hey, it could happen. And my gastric problems are real. You can’t fake diarrhea.
I scrolled down to the second definition: a person who worries or talks excessively about his or her health. Crap! I couldn’t deny it. My health sneaks its way into every conversation I have these days. I get asked, “How are you feeling?” more often than Taylor Swift gets asked, “Who are you
going to write a nasty song about next week dating?” For example, today while I was warning my outdoorsy neighbor about the recent mosquito-borne pathogen outbreak in Florida, she blurted out, ”What the hell is dengue fever?” However, her next question was “How’s your stomach feeling?” This woman has never even used my bathroom, but she’s knows that my bowel has been distressed lately.
And yes, I’m terrified that I’m going to contract dengue fever. Why?
(1) Eight cases have been reported in Florida in the last few weeks, in two counties: Martin and Miami-Dade. Granted, I don’t live in either of those counties, but mosquitoes can fly. Fly! They aren’t constrained by the nightmarish gridlock on I-4 as families squeeze in a pre-Labor Day Disney visit. No, mosquitoes view that arterial roadway as, well, an actual artery. Moreover, the Aedes aegypti, the species of mosquito that typically carries the virus, prefers human blood to that of other mammalians. Did I mention that only the breeding females transmit the disease? Mothersuckers!
(2) I know someone who contracted dengue fever while in Central America. Obviously, the disease isn’t all that rare. His case was so severe, he prayed to God for death. And he’s an atheist.
(3) When it comes to mosquitoes, my blood is a bottle of 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jeroboam. No, make that a FREE bottle of 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jeroboam. Yeah, I had to Google that, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Their lust for my blood culminates almost daily in a feeding frenzy that’s convinced me that no vampire could ever resist me. Take that, Bella Swan.
(4) I’m an unlucky person. Sort of. In my mind, most of the good things that have happened to me in life resulted from hard work and perky breasts, not good fortune.
The problem is that I’m a recovering attorney, and my mind operates in a very specific way. When I assess that there is a threat within a 500 mile or so radius, I scour the Internet for evidence to support or dismiss that threat. After reading dozens of articles, blogs, Wikipedia entries, and a couple of double-blind, random, placebo-controlled studies, and determining that the threat is valid, I then begin comparing the disease’s list of symptoms with my current ailments. Dengue fever sufferers, for example, may expect fevers as high as 106 F, severe headaches, body rash, joint and muscle pain so draconian it can cause contortions, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, and minor bleeding from the gums and nose.
My gums bled this morning when I brushed my teeth. My lower back is killing me and I’ve had recurrent abdominal distress for over two weeks. Someone’s tap dancing on a nerve directly behind my left eye, as I write. I could be dying. But the only doctor I’ve seen in months is my chiropractor.
Why? Because I don’t really believe I have, or am going to catch, dengue fever, but the chance exists. In law, you might call it reasonable doubt or preponderance of the evidence. If there is any reasonable doubt that I could be bitten by an infected mosquito, then I have to take the necessary precautions to make sure that neither I, nor Hubby, my family, all my FB friends, all my Twitter friends, all the friends whom I’ve actually met, the lady in front of me in the checkout line who looks like she has a weak immune system, and each and every one of my adoring blog readers, contract dengue fever. Does that make me a hypochondriac or just a concerned citizen who believes that Benjamin Franklin was correct when he wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? C’mon, he nailed the whole electricity thing. The dude had mad smart skills.
Call me a hypochondriac, but it won’t stop me from hiding indoors after dusk for the next couple of months. After all, I live in one of the warmest, wettest places in the country, and that doesn’t take into account Tampa’s strip clubs, which are a hot mess all on their own. My yard breeds mosquitoes the way those Duggars spawn children. Our 1920′s bungalow rests on bricks stacked a foot high – and, based on the bites that pepper my calves and ankles - the dark, sweltering space below it is probably the largest Aedes aegypti neonatal unit in Florida.
Today, I’ll be calling our local mosquito control center and requesting that they do a drive by drenching. Likewise, thrice-daily DEET baths, and mesh body armor after dark are probably in order. I’ve considered sending Hubby outside 5 to 10 minutes ahead of me as a decoy of sorts, but that would involve stepping over a serious moral line. One I’d readily cross (hey, his immune system has my lymph nodes mounted on wooden plaque hanging on its wall), but those pesky, little bloodsuckers won’t touch him. It’s like his mother bottle-fed him a diet of Off! mixed with Skin So Soft. I thought spouses were supposed to have each other’s backs, but mine won’t even donate a pint of blood.
Prevention is the key to beating hypochondria. If I’m not bitten by a mosquito, I won’t worry that my headache is indicative of blistering fevers and aching muscles to come. Or, if I don’t leave the house until Thanksgiving. Or if I temporarily move to Antarctica.
Plus, I have bigger concerns. Did you know that spices can carry salmonella? The FDA will be releasing a study that shows that 15% of coriander, 12% of both basil and oregano, and 4% of regular ol’ peppercorns imported to the United States are contaminated with the potentially-deadly virus. Americans are particularly at risk because we tend to add pepper to our food after it is cooked – and the heating process is what destroys the salmonella virus.
Now ask yourself, Have I sprinkled a little fresh, ground pepper to my food recently? When did the chef add that coriander to my curry? What about the basil I use in my homemade Italian vinaigrette?
Now who’s the hypochondriac?
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oh, Sheldon, stabs the meek heart
in this engineer
- Howard Wolowitz
Einstein bled physics,
Newton unlocked gravity,
Sheldon still can’t drive
- Leonard Hofstadter
Grasshopper of strength,
may your mint milk inspire words,
ones spoken aloud
- Raj Koothrappali
Howard went to space,
whining like a transmission
needing a tune-up
- Sheldon Cooper
Fuck haiku, Priya.
Come near Leonard again, bitch,
I’ll cut you like grass
Oh, Sheldon Cooper,
your chastity belt chafes raw
my unshaven loins
- Amy Farrah Fowler
Your MeMa may live,
my bearded Wesley Crusher.
Still, I scream, “Wheaton!”
- Sheldon Cooper
make space toilets work, but not
- Mrs. Gunderson (downstairs neighbor)
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The definition of wit arose in a discussion I had the other night over beer and hamburgers. As a general rule, I’m against wit when meat, cheese and hops are involved as the effort is rarely remembered the following day since the recipients of the wit are either still stewing in their cholesterol-induced brain swell or just hungover. I, personally, have yet to ponder someone’s witticism from the night before while my head is dangling over the porcelain throne, so I’m assuming no one else does either.
Truth be told, I’m rarely witty whether or not beef and Budweiser is being consumed. Why, you ask? Clearly, I’m a mammoth of intellectual funny-isms or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. The problem is that I’m slow to wit. I come up with clever epigrams approximately fifty-one minutes after the witty comment would have been appropriate. Granted, my observations are often much more adroit than the retorts made by my compatriots at the time, but they’re late. Way late. Running-out-to-the-24-hour-pharmacy-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-buy-a-pregnancy-test late. This is fine if you’re writing a column or posting on Facebook, but I suspect that my friends may wonder if I’ve hired a ghost writer exclusively for those purposes because in person, my comments often tend to invoke the nervous laughter that is only uttered when others are uncomfortable or feel obligated to do something other than stare. You know what I’m talking about. Pity laughter – the awkward chuckle often heard in funeral parlors as friends and loved ones discuss zany things the deceased used to do when they weren’t so…well, dead.
Until recently, however, I’d always thought I was witty. Like everyone, I would have, on occasion, a particularly good evening. During these rare events, droll observations would drip off my lips like drool off a St. Bernard’s muzzle. Strangers would contemplate inviting me to dinner parties in the future. I basked in the glow of my sheer cleverness. My friends, on the other hand, would shrug and finally credit the alcohol. When I was having an off night (which in reality was a typical night), I consoled myself with the knowledge that I would write something incredibly astute and hilarious at a later date. Something that would be published. Something that would one day appear in quote books or, alternatively, quote websites or quote clouds as physical books will probably be extinct by the time I’m dead – and everyone knows the most surefire way to be included in a collection of quotes is to be dead first.
But back to the other night. A typical night, I might add, made even more typical by the fact that I was dining with a woman who has more degrees than a thermometer and was educated in Britain, the Birthplace of Wit; a gay man (Oh, step off your PC soapbox – if a gay man could carry a child in the uterus he doesn’t have, he would also be the Birthplace of Wit!) and my husband, perhaps one of the funniest people on the planet. I didn’t have a chance in hell. And they were talking about France and things that are French. If I was Sarah Palin, I’d tell you that I’ve been to France. But the truth is that I had a two hour layover in the Charles de Gaulle airport on the way to London. I did buy a baguette with brie on it and some Loreal hair conditioner, but I don’t think that truly constitutes having experienced the City of Lights. Unless, as I pointed out, you’re Sarah Palin – and then you wouldn’t have to buy a sandwich or hair products. You’d just claim you could see the Eiffel Tower from your First Class seat and go back to reading your magazine, the name of which would escape you.
My gay friend lived in Paris for several years, and my uber-educated friend is one of those artsy-types with an obsession for obscure European facts. My sole comment during this portion of the conversation consisted of something like, “What do you expect? They’re French.” This is my go-to statement when chatter turns to things francais because it applies universally. Doesn’t matter if you’re discussing the French’s attitude towards their politicians’ mistresses, their penchant for smoking from the time they can sit upright in a pram, or their insistence upon putting mushrooms in absolutely everything they cook. The easiest response for one who can’t come up with something witty is to simply chime in, “What do you expect? They’re French.” Following said statement with a knowing chortle is completely optional.
Grateful as I was when the discussion turned away from French cinema, I was disturbed when it turned to the topic of wit, generating a lively debate surrounding the word’s definition. Now, I’ve always ascribed to what is generally considered to be the most common definition of the word – at least according to those silly books that collect such information, a.k.a. dictionaries – and they define wit as “the natural ability to perceive and understand; intelligence.” As I have been perceiving and understanding things since I was knee-high to Tom Cruise, I was confident that I fit the bill. Hell, I possess a very expensive advanced degree and I’ve never failed a test in my life. Okay, that’s not completely true. I actually failed my first driver’s test, but I was set-up and, anyway, I totally aced the written portion. As I was saying, arbitrary tests that don’t involve operating something with a carburetor concede that I qualify as an intelligent human being. Then again, poop-throwing in chimps is considered a sign of intelligence, so the bar can’t be all that high.
Our dinner companions – my husband excluded as he does have to live with me – insisted that wit involves a timing component, and argued that if brilliance doesn’t strike as swiftly as lightning, it might as well not bother to strike at all. Granted, some dictionaries list “quickness of perception” or an ability for repartee or banter in their definitions of wit. But it’s never the first definition. It’s not the primary definition. Heck, on one website, it was subsection (d) of the third definition. Regardless, it was the meaning of choice for my friends. (And may I point out here and now that my gay friend is the same friend who once erroneously claimed that The Osmonds outsold Sonny and Cher in their heyday, so his perception is clearly warped). But, as former employer of mine used to say ad nauseum, “Perception is everything.” You can’t be witty in a vacuum. Wit requires an audience. In my case, I thought an audience of people with nothing better to do than read my meanderings was sufficient, but that evening I was informed that it was not the same. Apparently, in the Aesop fable, wit is the rabbit and the old adage of “slow and steady wins the race” doesn’t apply. My humor is the turtle and muddling along at a consistent pace just doesn’t cut it. Wit isn’t a marathon; it’s a sprint. If I can’t swiftly enunciate a zinger or amuse dinner guests with banter worthy of a Nora Ephron film, I might as well don a dunce cap and resign myself to eating Taco Bell in dark room by myself – maybe with with Carrot Top if I’m lucky. Actually, I think I’d rather eat alone. At least I’m funny on paper.
For days now, I’ve wallowed in this pit of dullard despair until someone recognized by millions as being remarkably witty – in fact, he’s paid quite a lot of money to be witty – appeared to take up my case. In a recent HBO special, comedian Ricky Gervais suggested that Oscar Wilde, the Godfather of Wit, also suffered from Dilatory Epigram Syndrome. When asked by a customs official if he had anything to declare, Wilde famously stated, “Only my intelligence.” Gervais suggested that the retort had probably occurred to Wilde sometime after an earlier encounter with a customs official. You know, one of those, “Damn! I should have said this!” moments. I know those moments well. Really well. Not on a first name basis well, but on a secret-birthmarks-that-no-one-else-knows-about well. According to Gervais, once Wilde had that moment, he stored it up and waited, crouched like a spider ready to attack. Please ask me if I’ve something to declare, he would think to himself. And finally, someone did. Wilde declared his genius. Then he died. Now he’s got entire books of quotes devoted entirely to things he allegedly said or wrote.
This may shatter many people’s perception of Wilde as the erudite dinner guest who spit out impromptu witticisms the way Americans spit out haggis into their napkins in a Scottish pub. If his initiation of a clever comment was machine gun rapid, I’ve always fantasized Wilde’s voice as luxuriously slow and languid. When he opened his mouth to speak, I imagine the guests’ forks would hover inches below their mouths because whatever choice bite was to emerge from Wilde’s lips was certainly tastier than anything on their plates. However, Gervais’ view suggests that the playwright and poet may have practiced his quips religiously in his state room, pacing the short length of the carpet reciting the verbal gems he would deliver should the appropriate question be offered. Perhaps he scribbled down all the things he wished he’d said at the previous evening’s dinner party into a little notebook, then rattled them off as soon as the opportunity arose again later in the week.
During the Victorian era, the issues of politics, English society, literature and the arts, and religion were popular topics in dining and drawing rooms all over Britain. It would have been easy for Wilde to anticipate future conversations and arm himself accordingly, loading his quips like bullets into a pistol and pulling the trigger whenever appropriate. When the subject of the Americas or politics was broached, he could rattle off, “Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people,” a statement which would have signaled uproarious laughter and tittering at any Victorian table. If the topic turned to fellow playwright, critic and frequent dinner guest, George Bernard Shaw, Wilde may have been well-prepped when he slung this backhanded compliment: “Bernard Shaw is an excellent man; he has not an enemy in the world, and none of his friends like him.” In a closed society, self-described by Wilde as one in which one only “has either to feed people, amuse people, or shock people…” in order to be admitted, amusing the cream of London society would have been a priority in order to ensure his continued success, both socially and financially.
So to those friends of mine whose synapses fire away quickly over appetizers, leaving the rest of us behind in a haze of smoke and clever diatribes, I say,” Erm…hold on second. It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Just give me a second. No, really. This is going to be hilarious.” Forget it, I’ll get back to you in about fifty-one minutes and when I do, prepare to die. Or maybe you’ll just blush or giggle or get a little embarrassed because I did it in print. Online. And everyone who knows me also knows who you are, so it kinda sucks for you, really. But I will do it. I’ll be witty and you’ll rue the day you ever said I wasn’t. The slow and steady spirit of Oscar Wilde inhabits me. Can I say that it’s a little uncomfortable because he was a large man? An awfully large man.
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What Is Fictionary?
It’s a clever word coined by my blogging buddy, Kylie, over at The Life of Kylie, that refers to new words, phrases, or new definitions for existing words or phrases – often punny in nature – created by people like me who have way too much time on their hands. What’s more, she’s turned it into a game. More accurately, a contest for which the prize is muffins or cupcakes. How could I not participate? Due to recent weight loss, my muffin top is shrinking at an alarming rate. A win, on my part, could help me regain my title as the Muffin Top Queen of the Blogosphere.
Will You Help?
Sure, images of starving children in Africa or pitiful pups in cages shown on television accompanied by any Sarah McLachlan tune are probably the triggers for the heart strings attached to your wallet. However, I
totally want don’t need your money; I need your likes. Just one like and a comment celebrating my Fictionary genius from each of my loyal readers is all that is standing between this:
Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Once my muffin top has gone the way of the Dodo Bird or the Saber-tooth Tiger, there’s no bringing it back. As I’m sure you are aware, the future of Miss Snarky Pants’ muffin top has been threatened recently by the destruction of its natural habitat (i.e. encroachment of high-waisted, stretch jeans), climate change (i.e. Bikram yoga), and, most critically, an interruption in the food chain (i.e. I’m out of vodka and lard!). Will you allow your children to grow up in a world devoid of Miss Snarky Pants’ spare tire? I didn’t think so.
Miss Snarky Pants’ Fictionary Entries
Adorababy: (adj.) The point at which an infant stops looking like a potato and begins to resemble a cute homo sapien.
Ex: A few days ago, the sight of little Katie’s squinched-up eyes and crimson cheeks made me recoil in terror, but now she’s adorababy.
Opression: (noun) The mark left on one upon whom Oprah Winfrey has fallen.
Ex: Though my broken arm has finally healed, the opression that the talk show host left on my wrist will never disappear.
Litterate: (noun) The score given to various forms of litter.
Ex: On a litterate scale of one to ten, a cigarette butt rates only a three, whereas one of Lindsay Lohan’s used fire crotch tampons is a ten.
Shampoo: (noun) 1. Faux fecal matter; 2. Non-Disney approved Winnie the Pooh merchandise
Ex: The old lady nearly shat herself when she discovered she’d been sitting on the shampoo that I placed on her seat.
Middlebrow: (noun) The third brow which typically connects the left and right eyebrows.
Ex: Though many people think Michael Stipe was the driving force behind R.E.M., insiders claim that it was drummer Bill Berry’s middlebrow that inspired most of their hits.
Nexus: (proper noun) Blood supply store popular with vampires.
Ex: Forget that True Blood crap; I’m heading over to Nexus to stock up on some O negative.
Microwave: (noun) 1. A small salutation made with the hand when one is unsure as to whether or not the recipient is someone he or she knows.
Ex: He looked familiar, but after last week’s tequila binge, I wasn’t sure so I just gave him a microwave.
Nativity: (noun) The percentage of Native American ancestry that a Caucasian claims to possess.
Ex: I’m at least 1.25% nativity since my great great uncle’s sister’s friend once shook hands with a Cherokee.
Melodrama: (proper noun) Any situation involving alcohol, profanity, verbal rants, racial slurs and actor Mel Gibson.
Ex: Due to the number of recent complaints of Melodrama, the LAPD have assigned a police scanner code specifically for incidents involving Mel Gibson.
Mangrove: (noun) A nightclub or bar regularly frequented by single men.
Ex: Now that Bruce dropped that tranny he was dating, he’s been prowling every mangrove on the strip in search of a sugar daddy.
Collide: (past tense verb) The act of two people lying about the same thing simultaneously.
Ex: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan collide about the details of Ryan’s tax plan during yesterday’s press conference.
Vulcanic Eruption: ( proper noun) The physiological response that occurs when Spock engages in sexual intercourse.
Ex: Oh, Spock! You’re hot and all, but if you have a Vulcanic eruption in my mouth, I’m going to bite your dick off.
1) Take a moment. 2) Like this post. 3) Comment on my sheer wit and your favorite Fictionary entry. 4) Visit Kylie’s blog and tell her that you want to ensure that Miss Snarky Pants’ muffin top lives to see another day! 5) Pat yourself on the back for being such a
Start baking those Recrimination Muffins, Kylie…
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I am so disappointed in you. After thousands of people worked tirelessly to ensure that your husband, President Barack Obama, was again elected to the highest office in this country, you go and blow his inauguration for all of us. A week later, I’m still appalled. For a woman with such class, intelligence and beauty, how could you steal your husband’s thunder as you did? It was his big day; the last time he’ll ever place his hand on a Bible and be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts in front of millions of chilled constituents and television viewers. But thanks to you, most Americans will only remember January 21, 2013 as the day the First Lady debuted bangs.
Before you begin with the excuses, I realize you technically took your bangs out for a trial run a few days earlier to celebrate your 49th birthday and the launch of your Twitter account, but the world didn’t officially check out your new fringe until Inauguration Day. As First Lady, someone must have educated you on the significant buzz generated by something as drastic as thick, flirty bangs. For crying out loud, one of the world’s most renowned experts on First Lady Dos and Don’ts, literally and figuratively, has been working for your husband for the last four years as Secretary of State.
Did you not think to consult with Hillary Clinton before embarking upon such a controversial voyage toward sassy bobdom? Did four years of the planet’s pop culture obsession with your J. Crew cardigans, your finely-honed triceps and your dazzling smile not clue you in to the fact that everything you do is so amazeballs, it makes your husband’s accomplishments appear minuscule by comparison? How can a measly president keep up?
Don’t believe me? Here are just a few conversations that I
totally made up to illustrate my point have overheard in the past couple of years:
American 1: “Hey, did you hear that Osama Bin Laden is dead?”
American 2: “About damn time. Anyway, did you see that incredible dress that Michelle Obama wore on Oprah today? Her arms are totally ripped!”
American 1: “I’m so psyched. Thanks to President Obama and Obamacare, my health insurance is going to cover my pre-existing conditions and my birth control pills.”
American 2: “Huh? Did you hear that Michelle Obama is nominated for a Grammy? I loved her book. I’ve heard that the vegetables she grows in the White House garden have ten times as many vitamins as your standard organic fare – and you can develop super hero powers after eating them. Sasha, for example, once gave Chuck Norris a painful wedgie that left him so disabled he had to change the name of his show to Walker With A Limp, Texas Ranger. After eating a single serving of White House garden broccoli, Malia memorized the entire Oxford English Dictionary…in Finnish.
American 1: “Thanks to President Obama’s support, my state legalized gay marriage, and now my partner and I can finally get hitched after twenty-five years together.”
American 2: “I’m pretty sure that was Michelle Obama’s idea; after all, her designer of choice, Jason Wu, is gay. Plus, nothing screams equality like her sassy ass bangs.”
Is this sinking in, Michelle? Do you realize that, at this very moment, if you were to Google “Michelle Obama Hair,” you’d find an astounding 106 million results? Your hair alone culls more than three times the hits as does Adolf Hitler’s entire murderous career – one which was nearly outshone by the black caterpillar named Otto who lived above his upper lip. Hillary Clinton, whose tresses were famously criticized throughout her two term tenure as First Lady, garners a paltry 31 million results – and she’s been in the public eye for over twenty years. In a world in which bad news always seems to trump good news, it’s confounding to discover that the positive reviews about your gleaming mane easily outnumber the negative appraisals of Hillary’s helmet head.
Perhaps it’s difficult for someone like you, someone who’s never had a bad hair day in her life, to understand the power of bangs. They’re a decisive, aggressive move, much like invading Russia in winter or refusing to use Gatling guns at Little Bighorn – and we all know how those choices impacted Hitler and Custer, respectively. Poor little Taylor Swift was transformed from gawky, teen queen into a sleek, man-eater with one long snip across her forehead and a few passes with a flat iron. Suddenly, she metamorphosized from a mother-in-law’s wet dream into the bane of every eligible bachelor’s existence. When Michael J. Fox doesn’t want his son to date you, that’s a pretty clear indication that you’ve succumbed to fringe-induced flooziness.
The thing that really chaps my ass, Michelle, is that you allowed a mere flight of fancy to outshine your hubby on his big day. Let’s face it; bangs are almost always snipped on a whim. And just like that last martini, bold, blunt bangs are almost always a mistake…unless your name is Zooey Deschanel, who doesn’t count because her eyeballs are so large, they have their own satellites. No one can carry bangs off for long and growing them out is worse than being informed that your sober living partner is Charlie Sheen.
Of course, the greater concern is – now that you’ve demonstrated a desire to one-up the president – what you are planning to debut at the State of the Union address? Knee cap liposuction? Eyelash extensions? A neon pink merkin?
May I suggest something that makes an impact, yet is temporary? Something that President Obama and you can do together. A statement that will eliminate the image of your bangs from our collective memory and bring your lovely forehead out of hiding. A look that will demonstrate your solidarity as America’s most famous, most beloved – and most romantic – couple.
With Great Respect and Admiration,
Miss Snarky Pants
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Photo Credits:Michelle Obama With Bangs: HuffingtonPost.com Hillary Clinton Hair Don’t: CBS.com Michelle Obama With Guns: Allure.com Chuck Norris: FishingJones.com Adolph Hitler: Wikipedia.com Zooey Deschanel: Allure.com
The other night, a small, erm, blemish appeared on my chin. Miss Snarky Pants does not get (shiver) pimples, but sometimes she talks about herself in third person, which is equally creepy. Fortunately, all superhero bloggers have their gear – and so do I. Just as Wonder Woman used her golden lasso to extract the truth from the lying liars of the world, I have my tube of Lumene Deep-Cleansing Peat Mask to extract impurities from the bastard blemishes that dare mar my facial perfection.
For those of you who don’t live next to a bog somewhere in Ireland, peat is a basically decomposing vegetation that, when dry, can be burned as a fossil fuel. It’s also a natural preservative…if you’re a corpse. In fact, over sixty years ago, two Scandinavian men were harvesting peat near their home in Denmark and discovered a male cadaver, buried in the muck, that was so perfectly intact, the men initially believed that it was the body of someone who had recently been murdered. Scientists later determined that the Tolland Man, as the poor stiff was eventually named, was nearly two thousand years old. And damn, if he didn’t look good for his age.
The use of moor mud to beautify the skin has been well-documented over the centuries – by whom, I’ve no idea. This is a blog, people, not a Wikipedia entry. Legendary beauties like Cleopatra and…erm, I’m sure a lot of other reasonably attractive people have happily coated their cheeks with mire muck because of its mild antibiotic properties which help evict the free radicals that have staged a coup deep within in their pores. I’m not sure what free radicals are or who emancipated them, but I’m pretty certain that I don’t want them having an oozy, goozy shindig on my chin – particularly since they didn’t even bother to bring their hostess a bottle of wine. Who shows up to a pore party empty-handed?
So, naturally, I smear this mire mud all over my face because:
1) Tolland Man looks amazeballs – like he’s just taking a little nap after having spent the afternoon mudding with Honey Boo Boo and her kin folk. Since I’m losing weight, I can’t rely on fat molecules to continue to plump up my wrinkles – and I suspect swimming in formaldehyde could be dangerous;
2) I clearly don’t want to get laid for the next few hours (I’d have to don a bikini, hire a similarly-attired call girl, fill a child’s inflatable pool with gallons of bog poo, then wrestle said call girl in my pop-up swamp in order to merely distract Hubby from killing zombies on his PS3);
3) Lumene’s advertising claims that their peat mask contains aromatic rosemary that both opens the pores and provides “a refreshing fragrance.” Erm, if by refreshing fragrance you mean the putrid odor of rosemary rotting in The Bog of Eternal Stench, then, sure, I guess that’s the case. However, when you’re a blogger who spends most of her day in her pajamas and only bathes on the morning of her annual gynecological exam, you tend not to be bothered by a stench that would normally cause flocks of empty-bellied buzzards to nest on the roof of your home;
4) It seems like a girlie thing to do – and any act I can engage in that causes Hubby to remember that I am a female and not just some stanky person pattering around his apartment wearing sweatpants and gimongous concert t-shirts whilst concocting vegan-lite fare and tapping away at a keyboard is a good thing; and
5) Who doesn’t want to douse their face in something that’s more flammable than Richard Pryor? Those of you who got that joke, please slap two pair of Depends together so that I know you’re out there.
After applying my peat mask, I entered the bedroom to find Hubby tucked beneath the sheets with the remote control in hand, waiting for me to join him so that we could watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter on the telly. Reeking of marsh poo, I pulled back the quilt and hopped into bed.
As Hubby caught sight of my peat-caked skin, he snickered and asked, “Are you seriously going to watch a movie about Abe Lincoln while wearing black face?”
Oops. Erm. “Yes?”
Note: I did not get laid that night and I still have a fucking ZIT on my chin. However, the vultures have moved on to a spa down the street.
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***Photo credits: Big Ass Zit: Acnetreatmentreport.com Tolland Man: Mesh5.com Mud Wrestling: Cineplex.com Buzzards: Uglyhedgehog.com Miss Snarky Pants in Black Face: Miss Snarky Pants
If being a vegan is akin to belonging to a particular religion, then I must be
Catholic-Lite Episcopalian. What? you say. Vegans are nothing like Episcopalians; they’re militant, strict, judgmental – and they’re anxious to convert carnivores. Rather, vegans are the epitome of dogmatic zealots, much like the speaking-in-tongues, snake-handling, Born Again, fire and brimstone Charismatics that pepper the deep hollers of Appalachia and star in the Super Congregations we see on Sunday morning television. And you, Miss Snarky Pants, are nothing like that.
And you would be right about one thing; I am nothing like that. Although I grew up neck deep in a Pentecostal Christian guilt so mucky I was sucked beneath its surface every time I so much as played a Hall & Oates album, I am no longer that person. To be clear, though I once believed that only the metaphorical blood and body of Jesus – aptly played during Holy Communion by Welch’s grape juice and a stale water cracker, respectively – could save my soul, deep down a part of me was always asking pesky questions:
But there’s, like, hundreds or thousands of religions. How do we know that we’re right? What if the Jews nailed it from the beginning – they’re awfully good with money and just look what they’ve accomplished in the film industry?
What kind of God would send innocent people to Hell just because they live in a third world country and have never heard of The Bible? Is it because they have rickets?
Why would God want elderly people living on Social Security to tithe 10% of their income when they can’t afford their diabetes medication? Is God punishing them for Supersizing one time too many?
Why does God only heal people who attend church on television? And why don’t they have diseases or injuries that we can see? You know, like leprosy or missing limbs?
Despite my early indoctrination into the Assemblies of God faith, I’ve never been much of a follower in other areas of my life. I mean, once you’ve committed yourself to serving an invisible, holey (pun most definitely intended) half-man half-diety, his oft angry dad with a penchant for dishing out natural disasters, and some sort of third-wheel ghostie, becoming a member of the drill team is a bit anticlimatic.
As it turns out, my prospects as a leader were nil. I didn’t like leaders; they were typically mean girls who were good at kickball and quick with insulting and alliterative nicknames for their victims. Though I’m sure I could have become skilled at the latter, my legs were created to bang into stationary furniture with sharp edges. Kicking a rolling ball in a particular direction was beyond my capabilities, prompting me to ask more of my pesky questions:
Why does God want me to be picked last for kickball every single day of my life? Why did He make me so smart that the other kids hate me for setting the bell curve? Why can’t I grow breasts? Does God hate me, too?
As I aged, my disinterest in either leading or following left me in a precarious social position. Though I was no longer unpopular, I refused to fully commit to any particular clique. One day I’d eat lunch with my Smiths and Psychedelic Furs-loving friends and the next, I’d hunker down with my buddies-of-color so that we could argue about which one of us was going to be Michael Jackson’s first ex-wife. Then there were my Journey-loving compatriots; I’ll spare you the painful images of these mullet-sporting, muscle shirt-wearing, air guitar-playing fans, all of whom wore gold eighth notes around their necks in honor of their leader, Steve Perry. Athletics were out of the question. I declined my invitation to join The National Honor Society. Drama only held my interest if I had a lead role which was, erm, never.
After law school, I experimented with multiple careers, but none – including legal practice – satisfied me in the way writing does, though all paid considerably more. I know…poor, little lawyer girl. I’d hate myself, too, but then, I’ve seen my law school debt – and you haven’t.
If I was a devotee of anything at all, it was cow teets. I loved dairy. Cheese was something that I could commit to – after all, it could be sweet, sour, stinky, melty, salty, chewy, stringy, sharp, mild, nutty and creamy. It was as diverse as my interests and never expected me to tithe. Until I was introduced to the chocolate martini in my mid-thirties, milk held the title as my favorite beverage. Sexy, huh? Nothing says “fuck me” like your date ordering a glass of moo juice with her filet mignon.
So when I suddenly decided to abandon the
greatest love of my entire life second greatest love of my entire life (because, of course, Hubby is the first) to join the Church of Vegan, I can assure you that more than a few of my friends and family members were perplexed. After all, these are people who had, over the years, become accustomed to asking me, “What is it you do, again?” Hell, if I couldn’t dedicate myself to one career path, why should they believe that I would deliberately eschew meat and all animal products for the rest of my life just because it’s supposed to be healthier? That never stopped me from mainlining vodka.
However, as the weeks turned into months, it appeared that I had finally made a true commitment. I started cooking, posting photos of one vegan meal after another on Facebook
like those people who have absolutely nothing better to do with their time. Hubby and I joined a gym. I gave up hard liquor. I became the poster child for the kind of person who had embraced a plant-based diet; a kinder, gentler Miss Snarky Pants. Through the Internet, I met other local vegans and soon I was inundated with invitations to attend one non-carnivore event after another. Vegans adore newbies. And like Pentecostals, they love to recruit. Why else would they have some kind of vegan/animal rights festival every bloody weekend?
Being vegan made me feel accepted by a closely-knit group of people who looked at the world with the same pair of eyes. Despite the fact that Hubby and I had only moved to Tampa a few months before my big conversion, new friends were practically crawling out of the woodwork, ready to hang out just because I’d abandoned many of my beloved food choices. At restaurants, I no longer had to worry that the waiter would think I was cheap if I ordered a vegetarian entrée. Nope, all I had to do was explain, “I’m vegan” and every bit of judgment on the server’s face would vanish – only to be replaced with fear. At Whole Foods, it was as if I was wearing a flashing, neon sign around my neck. As the cashier rang up my items, she would invariably ask, “Are you vegan?” Before I could do more than nod, she’d burst out into a huge smile, then whisper loudly, “Me, too! Isn’t Daiya soy-free, vegan cheese the best?”
If by best, you mean barely edible and tastes nothing at all like cheese, then yes, it’s the best!
Gradually, I discovered that worshiping at the Church of Vegan was complicated. Initially, I thought I was giving up dairy, meat and eggs, but there’s a whole lot of small print in the Vegan Bible. Did you know that gelatin is made of horses’ hooves and other disgusting stuff? Adios, Jell-O. Sayonara, marshmallows. See ya later, candy corn and jelly beans. Don’t even think about taking that Nyquil Gel Cap. And what about animal bone char? It’s utilized to refine sugar and turn crude oil into petroleum jelly. Oh, and it’s also used in making many kinds of BEER. Did I type that loudly enough? BEER. At least six thousand newbie vegans just said, “What the fuck?”
However, as a non-beer drinker, my first what-the-fuck? moment occurred when I was informed that I could no longer eat honey. “Why?” I asked a vegan friend. “The bees are just doing their thing. Making honey is kinda like their job…and the last thing we need in this country is a higher unemployment rate.”
“The bees are enslaved,” she responded, without a hint of irony. “They’re exploited by humans.”
Suddenly, my brain was flooded with images of bees humming “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and picking cotton. I imagined them cringing in front of a white-hooded beekeeper, buzzing, “Don’t blow that smoke at me, Massa! I’ll eat mo’ nectar and vomit up mo’ honey!” It occurred to me that some vegans were more concerned about honey bees’ rights than they were about the rights of immigrant field workers – the people usually responsible for raising and harvesting the plant-based diet that sustains the vegan lifestyle.
Shortly after the bee incident, being vegan really hit me where it hurts the most: my liver. At a cooking party I was hosting, a guest advised me that the wine I was drinking may have been clarified with isinglass, a substance derived from fish bladders. Having given up the hard stuff, wine had become my slower, but still lovely, intoxicant. “You’ll want to go online and research the brands of wine that you enjoy. You might have to switch,” she suggested.
Seriously, God – you really hate me, right? You don’t just plant the “Become a Vegan” idea in my head, then casually – at a much later date – drop the wine bomb on me. Oh, and God, in case you’re wondering, I’m officially agnostic.
I realized that these people were serious. Veganism wasn’t a diet; it was an admirable commitment to living life in a way that doesn’t exploit animals in any manner whatsoever. Yet, as much as I respected my new friends for making this difficult, moral choice, I also recognized that I had to be true to myself…and my embossed leather Coach bags. If I didn’t opt for a more compassionate non-leather sofa, I’d soon be a hypocrite – not to mention, I’d spend every spare moment removing fur from
a friggin’ cat hair magnet a cruelty-free fabric recliner. It became clear that I was not an ethical vegan, as most of my friends called themselves. I was doing this for my health – and unless the occasional teaspoon of honey was going to give me cancer or cause Bob Barker’s head to explode, I wasn’t really worried about it. Where did that leave me? Was I an unethical vegan? And, more importantly, why was I letting the word vegan define who I was and what I ate? Vegans aren’t like virgins – you can be just a little bit vegan.
Thus, in the interest of not being a vegan fraud, a hypocrite, a sober person or just plain grumpy, I’ve decided to start my own church: The Church of Vegan-Lite. With all of the health benefits, but only half the guilt and no rosary, a Vegan-Litist, as I like to think of myself, is mostly vegan, but makes exceptions here and there. For example, though I will inform food servers that I’m a vegan, I am quick to reassure them that I’m not militant about it and won’t douse them with a bucket of red paint if they suggest the steak tartare special to Hubby. Likewise, I’ve chosen to integrate certain foods back into my diet, but those foods can’t be too decadent or I’ll be required to self-flagellate like an albino monk. Thus, I’ve reintroduced egg whites to our refrigerator; after all, they’re fucking egg whites. Is there a less-offensive and healthier non-vegan food out there? Doctors practically prescribe them. Dr. Carrie Rubin, back me up here, will ya?
I’ve also discovered that if I drink a sufficient amount of vino, I completely forget all about fish bladders and bone char. Problem solved.
The only remaining issue is my hesitancy to lead – or follow, for that matter – which is why the Church of Vegan-Lite currently has only one member. So if any of you vegans out there are just jonesin’ to spoon some honey into your mug of cruelty-free, organic green tea, go for it. I grant you permission to become the bishop of your own Vegan-Lite parish. Just promise me one thing: switch the Welch’s out for a nice cabernet sauvignon, would ya?
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If you’re an ethical vegan, please know that I respect your views (and the fact that you aren’t, apparently, tempted by cheese every moment of the day) even though I don’t necessarily agree with them fully. So don’t be a hater. I really do love you guys!
***Photo credits: Communion: therubicon.org Madonna: articles.dailynews.com Holy Trinity: catholicbible101.com Kickball: keanradio.com Cheese: igourmet.com Daiya Cheese: mfablog.org Slaves: bbc.co.uk Dog Hair: blog.sfgate.com Albino monk: aveleyman.com
You know your workout isn’t off to a great start when your husband challenges you to do a chin up and you immediately wonder, “Which chin?”
Hey, it’s a serious question. Do I need to pull all of my body weight up towards a metal rod of random height and merely touch the tip of my chin to the bar – or do I have to haul my waddle up there too and dangle it over the other side? I bet you George Lucas wonders the same thing all the time. Do I stuff all of my waddle under my shirt collar or do I allow it to drape over like Miss Snarky Pants’ muffin top?
Oh yeah? Well, the dialogue in Star Wars sucks. Hear that, fat man!
In my case, the issue was moot because I can’t do a single chin up. Nor could my hubby. In my defense, after six weeks of working out, Hubby is only up to four. Not four reps of ten, but four chin ups. Of course, he’s only 140 pounds soaking wet, so he doesn’t have the same, erm, challenges that I have. I’m not just pulling myself up; I’ve got a monkey on my back. Make that a full-grown gorilla. With hypothyroidism and a penchant for eating anvils.
In practical terms, imagine that you’re a person of average weight for your height, unless you already are – in which case, imagine me glaring at you because you insist upon mocking me with your perfectly fit body. However, despite the fact that you are constantly rubbing your toned abs in my face like I’m a puppy that’s pooed on the carpet, I’m still a thoughtful friend. I’ve bought you a lovely, sturdy belt for your birthday – and then, because making a point is ultimately much more important to me than your friendship, I’ve looped that belt through the handles of six, one gallon cans of paint. Though you wish I’d given you a book or maybe some earrings, you still fasten the 60+ pound belt around your waist. And when I ask you to go ahead and do a chin up, you tell me to fuck off.
“Do you realize that I’m wearing enough Sherman Williams to paint the White House?” you ask. “Inside and out?” Of course I do; welcome to my life.
While researching the elusive chin up, I came across an article on stronglifts.com which insists that “[y]our body-weight is not the problem. Strength is. If you want to get stronger at Pull-ups & Chin-ups, do them more.” Let’s see now…if I do 5 times the chin ups I’m doing now, I’ll have done, erm, zero. Great advice, douchebag.
I was surprised to discover that even my slimmer and testosterone-infused friends are similarly challenged. My friend, Evan, recently lamented to me that he can’t complete a single chin up – or pull up, depending upon your definition – unaided. The worst part is that he has to rely on the “assisted pull up machine” in the gym to train so that he can eventually accomplish this tremendous feat of strength. “As soon as you climb onto the assisted pull up machine, you’ve just announced to everyone in the gym that
you are a pussy you can’t do a chin up on your own,” he complained. “Having the muscleheads know this is worse than not being able to do a damn chin up in the first place.”
This reminded me of when I used to work for a pharmaceutical company that formulated a little, blue pill which lifted the, erm, heads of many a man. While I was practically assaulted in the waiting rooms of each and every doctor’s office I visited by decrepit, old codgers just dying to shoot their wad, not one of them accepted my offer of a pen or notepad with the pill’s name on it. No, they wanted samples – a request that only their doctor could fulfill – and lots of ’em. Prescriptions were useless as they announced to everyone working in the pharmacy that Flopsy was not the name of a member of your four-legged family, but the pet name for your, erm, member.
Still, I’m perplexed by why this seemingly simple exercise is so damned difficult. By the age of six, I could complete hundreds of one-armed chin ups in a row, hang upside down from the monkey bars until all of my blood pooled in my brain, and contort myself in such a way that I once crammed my entire body into a pillowcase. Why can’t adults do something that kids can do so effortlessly?
I suspect the answer lies in knowledge. As children, we don’t know that we can’t do things, so we just do them. Second graders don’t know the first thing about their Latissimus Dorsi…and, frankly, neither did I until I Googled it. Apparently, it’s not the name of the roguishly handsome, but tragic hero in an Italian romance novel as I’d initially believed – and instead are big ol’ muscles in your back that make a pronated (overhand) grip pull up/chin up possible. My problem lies in the fact that I’m aware that muscles are involved in exercise, thereby making chin ups an impossibility for me. Moreover, my back muscles and I aren’t on speaking terms and haven’t been since I allowed numerous cars to plow into mine over the years.
Were I to try a supinated (underhand) grip instead, I could rely more heavily on my biceps – which is kinda like Tony Stark relying on the phrase, “Stop! I’m a rich dude” to halt criminals instead of donning his Iron Man suit and crushing them beneath his metallic red foot. However, my biceps cooperate only when alcohol is involved – and it’s simply too difficult to attempt a chin up with the stem of a wineglass clamped between your teeth.
So for now, I will celebrate the fact that I’ve lost 9 pounds (and have been placed in the Witness Protection Program so that they can’t find me again and re-staple themselves to my ass cheeks) and, thanks to the miracle of technology, I can watch Bravo on every single cardio machine in the gym. As Hubby conquers one more chin up after another, I will have to revel in the knowledge that if he brags about it and pisses me off, I can easily crush the ego out of him by merely sitting on his lap.
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***Photo credits: Chin Up: Menshealth.com George Lucas: Georgelucasneck.tumblr.com White House: WhiteHouse.gov Sixteen Candles Chin Up: Tumblr.com Latissimus Dorsi: Wikipedia.com
Every once in awhile, Karma smiles down upon you and grants you the opportunity of a lifetime. In my case, her gift was two tickets for a taping of The Daily Show in Tampa, Florida during the Republican National Convention. Now, some of you may be snickering or rolling your eyes because
you’re complete and utter morons I think watching Jon Stewart doing his gig in person can only be surpassed by an event that involves me sipping Moët from the Holy Grail while David Sedaris reads aloud to me and Johnny Depp massages my feet. Sure, I realize his show shoots five days a week for most of the year up in Hell’s Kitchen, so you’re probably thinking that filming The Daily Show isn’t exactly rare like, say, a sober Amanda Bynes or a pale Donatella Versace.
But you would be wrong.
Shooting Comedy Central’s top–rated show in Tampa is extraordinarily unusual. And after Stewart and his team openly lambasted the city in which I reside with embarrassingly accurate observations about the heat and humidity (describing Tampa as the ideal environment for “a struggling strand of streptococcus”), the casual attire of the indigenous population (“the city where flip flops are considered evening wear”), and our fondness of clothing-optional gentlemen’s clubs (“Jon, I’m here in Tampa’s famous strip club district or as they call it here – Tampa.”), it’s unlikely that the program will ever be filmed in the Peninsula of Death again – unless a palmetto bug decides to run for President in 2016.