Category Archives: Humor

Tofurky: Live Life On The Edge

tl;dr: violently unappetizing smell and appearance. Tastes great! (You’ll never see that juxtaposition of words again in your lifetime. Savor them in the same way you savor the door closing when the in-laws depart.)

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ―Orson Welles

Usually, if I say something smells a bit like wet cat food, it wouldn’t be something I’d put in my mouth. In this case, though, the Tofurky Plant-Based Deli Slices 100% smell a bit like wet cat food. Not the elegant kind featured on the tv commercials with well-groomed cats, either. The cats that would eat this type of smell are the ones you’d never stoop down to pet without wondering if you’d need a shot afterward. 

After picking up a packet and looking at it at least a dozen times over the last few months, I bought one today instead of throwing it back in the case. I’m a would-be lazy vegetarian, so this type of product catches my eye. The package claims that the contents are hickory smoked. I don’t see how that is possible, but it must be true; they spent a lot of money on the package’s extra wordage. Take note of the large print on the reverse that proclaims: “Taste Bud High Five!” It could just as easily said, “And Nose/Eye Slap In The Face.” They undoubtedly ran out of money to budget the extra printing.

Note to food manufacturers: brown-orange is not the go-to color I’d recommend for food. Sweet potatoes already have the market cornered on that aesthetic. 

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” ―Erma Bombeck

I’m blaming covid for convincing me to try this. My logic is that if a pandemic can get me at any moment, I don’t have a lot to lose by trying something that might smell like cat food and/or taste like used cat litter. Everyone knows that my taste already leans toward “inhuman.” 

The picture I posted doesn’t do justice to the perplexing texture and color of this alternative deli slice. I can’t help but imagine that a team of scientists worked for years, hoping to develop the opposite of whatever appetizing might be. They succeeded. After a lot of thought, NASA engineers associated with the solid waste portion of space travel might have given them ideas. 

If you try this food, do not smell it before putting it on a sandwich, tortilla, or in the cat’s food bowl.

In my case, I used Olé tortillas, lettuce, and horseradish sauce. And another with Sriracha. They were delicious. 

These fake deli slices tasted amazing on them both. 

You might doubt me. I’m sure you doubt me, especially after my review of the alien autopsy fake bacon. (Which is even more amazing cooked on a cookie sheet in a stupidly hot oven.)

To recap: do NOT smell this before trying it. Just put it in your mouth.

“If you use a food app and it calls 911 for you when you input what you’ve eaten, you are at least taking risks, which the happiness experts claim makes a beautiful life out of the most mundane.” – X

Love, X

Right In The Eye

“Humor is in the eye of the beholder but in the craw of the begrudging.”

Underestimating the distance chasm between intent and receipt is one of my greatest weaknesses. But also one of my strengths. How much love, mirth, and creativity fail to shine because we suffer the illusion that we have any control over the manner in which anything is interpreted.

“That which can be adequately explained by stupidity should not be attributed to malice.” It’s a wise cliché for a reason. My version is better: “That which can be adequately explained by humor, stupidity, or simple oversight should not be attributed to malice unless the other guy is a real asshole; in which case, fire away.”

It’s not that we can’t spout malice with frequency.

The reality is that most of the people we allow in our lives just don’t behave that way, not really. And if they do, it’s our fault, not theirs, that we gave them room in our sumo ring.

For every angry word, a laugh is displaced. For every frown, a smile withers.

“It’s always funny until someone gets hurt. Then it’s just hilarious.” -Bill Hicks
“Keep your sense of humor. As General Joe Stillwell said, ‘The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind’.” -Donald Rumsfeld
“I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.” -Walt Whitman
Here’s an old one: “I, for one, like Roman Numerals.”

The Worst Best Thing In The World

A few days ago, I was at Aldi. That’s problematic enough. I have a love/hate relationship with Aldi. It used to be hate/hate, but I’ve softened a bit. I still leave the cart out in the wilderness of the parking lot, though – quarter be damned.

Immediately upon entering, I encountered a little section tucked up into the produce area. In it were several small vials of interesting liquids. Two of them were little vials of Vitalife Kick It In The Ginger / Turmeric. For whatever reason, it caught my attention. The Ginger shot contains cayenne pepper, lemon juice, ginger, and probably cat tears.

Vitalife is the sort of company that creeps me out. I can’t explain why, mainly due to the lawyers. I’m kidding.

This is the sort of thing I would never purchase habitually. But I am a connoisseur of foul-tasting substances; this seemed to be a prime candidate. That it contained lemon juice was the deciding factor. “Lemon anything” is my new go-to formula for happiness. I can’t get enough Lemon in my mouth no matter how I try.

I wanted to drink it then, but unfortunately, store personnel frown upon eating the merchandise before paying. Which, if you think about it, is both completely logical and also highly objectionable.

On the way home, I opened the vial and drank a bit of it. Yes, it tasted rank. Did I like it a lot? Also, yes.

I won’t say what it LOOKS like because everyone who knows me also knows that I am a perfect gentleman in every respect. It’s okay if you’re snarking already at this point.

I know people love spouting the benefits of drinking ginger. I don’t care what the benefits are. For me, the foul taste that I love is enough.

I won’t pay that much for a little vial of horrible taste. I can get that by eating a cricket or tasting anything at Wendy’s or Hardee’s.

If you need to try something that will make you reject your humanity, I highly recommend the Vitalife Kick It In The Ginger Shots.

Just don’t look at it!

Love, X

P.S. I really like it.

A Keg Of Buttholes

Marilyn asked me to memorialize one of her beloved Dad’s favorite sayings.

I told her I was making supper and she said she was about to go shower.

“I smell like a keg of buttholes,” she wrote, citing her dad, who was a poet in the truest sense of the word.

It is impossible to imagine what a keg of buttholes might smell like without immediately arriving at a conclusion.

Though he’s now departed, let’s remember his contribution to the English language by incorporating, “Smells like a keg of buttholes” into our vocabulary.

Man Parked In A Pond

I routinely go through my colossal draft lists and discard troves of ideas and actual stories. I’d discard the computer, but they get expensive. When I was writing several of my Elm Springs stories, I kept skipping over the “Man Parked In Pond” account due to the incongruous absurdity of the title.

What might amuse you more is that I’ve seen several cars in ponds in my lifetime. Both stupidity and drinking were involved in all cases. I think there’s a universal truth to that last sentence. I can proudly say that I was in the car on separate occasions while BOTH my Mom and Dad drove into ponds, ditches, or swamps. It’s one thing to go into a small pond, but if you’ve ever seen how deep and snake-filled some irrigation ditches and swamps can be, you’re not enthusiastic about getting into one. At night. Snakes do not like to cuddle.

I am not afraid of snakes until they get into my underwear. Call it a phobia if you have to.

When I first worked at a nursing home in Springdale after high school, I often ran home before I got my second car. My first car, a great one given to me by my brother Mike as he shockingly went into the Army, was stolen by my Dad and sold on my cousin’s car lot. The irony is that I worked on the side at my cousin’s garage to earn credit toward the next car.

It was only 7-8 miles home from work. Those runs were interesting as hell at times, just as they were when I started from home and ran elsewhere. It was different back in the day. People drove drunk a LOT. Country roads were littered with cars at night. Saturday morning and Sunday morning was a great time to see the places on the road where people were probably driving too fast. Or drunk. One of the neighbors near where I lived often stopped and “borrowed” things from the cars he found on the side of the road at night. Thinking back on it, it was impossible for him to get caught. This is in part due to the visibility of approaching lights and the failure of most drunks to inventory their possessions, much less know for certain that they are driving their own car home at night.

Note to civil engineers: if you want to reduce unsafe and drunk driving, put a buttload of stupidly sharp curves in the road. Or a five-mile stretch of road that is 100% roundabouts. The Arkansas educational system didn’t adequately prepare most people for sensible traffic devices.

If you’ve driven the side roads from Springdale to Elm Springs, you’re aware of the sharp turns everywhere. Many of those turns sit next to barbed wire fencing. Or worse, ponds. While I didn’t see the accident when it happened, I was running home when I heard brakes and skidding, followed by sounds that didn’t make sense to me. It was after midnight, so I couldn’t imagine who or what had crashed. As I ran along a sloping S-curve, I saw taillights. As I neared, I could see that the barbed wire fencing had been torn open. The truck that went through the fence went a few feet into the pond. While I was sure I was going to try to help, I didn’t know how exactly. I heard someone drunkenly mumbling. In today’s terms, it sounded a lot like Kenny Chesney singing any of his Top 40 hits.

I remember being glad it wasn’t my Dad. He’d traversed many a fenceline while driving drunk. More than once, with me in the vehicle. Good times! After one particularly bad accident through a cow field, he kept repeating the same joke: “I was looking for a good steak.” His sense of humor was legendary when he wasn’t trying to kill someone.

The man in the truck managed to get the door open. He was cursing in drunk language at that point. Though I couldn’t see much, I realized he was trying to get into the truck’s bed from the cab so he wouldn’t step into the shallow water. I waited. Sure enough, a huge splash followed as he fell off trying to get over the side of the truck. He set the world record for putting the lord’s name in vain for the next couple of minutes. He staggered out of the pond.

“Who the f### are you?” he asked me.

“The ghost of drunks future,” I quipped. I wasn’t scared at all to mock any drunk I didn’t know.

This tendency got me into some precarious predicaments through the years, including one incident when a drunk tried to throw a mostly-empty pitcher of beer on me, and I yelled, “Ball 4!.” My shout made him angry when it dawned on him that people in the bar laughed. I had reluctantly accompanied my roommate Ray to go shoot pool at a bar that now no longer exists in the Midway area. When the drunk acted as if he would chase me, I dashed to the back door, opened it, and then slammed it. I stepped out of sight into the filthy supply closet near the back door. The drunk ran outside, thinking I went out first. We laughed our asses off about that for a long time. The best part of this story is that he didn’t remember getting mad or running out the back to chase me upon his return.

We didn’t have cell phones back then. There was a payphone at a small store a couple of bends of the road away from the pond. But I wasn’t going to accompany a drunk for that kind of walk. “Go knock on that door,” I told him and pointed to a brown house a couple of hundred feet away. “They’ll help you.” I waited, and eventually, he stumbled his way in that direction. I left out here that the owners of the pond and the house were the same people. I ran the rest of the way home, amused at my cleverness. I found out that the owners made the driver completely fix their fence and make restitution. Had I not run by that night, I don’t think he would have. And I wouldn’t be able to brag I watched a grown man drunkenly try to climb over the edge of his truck and then fall into a pond.

And so, I leave you with “Man Parked In a Pond.” It’s not Faulkner or Conroy, but it amuses me.

Are You Happy? (There’s a Joke In Here Just For you!)

P.J. O’Rourke said, “Don’t send funny greeting cards on birthdays or at Christmas. Save them for funerals, when their cheery effect is needed.”

Instead of “Hello,” or “How are you?” why not ask this question instead: “Are you happy?” If someone calls you out for it, tell them you recently adjusted your medications. Only brave souls and people who would be awesome at parties will linger after that justification.

The obvious “is happiness the goal of life” nonsense aside, anything that catches a person’s ear beats the usual boring salutation. (Even yodeling, if you like that sort of thing. Just don’t take lessons if the instructor accepts coupons for his tutelage.)

Those who know me hear me say “Terrible!” frequently when someone asks, “How are you?” I often get a genuine laugh from it, especially if I ham it up in tone or volume. Hell, to be honest, I usually laugh first. It’s a spoiler alert at that point. Indeed, many people don’t notice the content of my response. That’s okay. It’s unreasonable to expect most people to notice anything unusual in the scope of an otherwise fill-in-the-blank moment. There’s probably a generalized indictment of society in there somewhere – but you won’t see me making it. (And not just because I detest the word “indictment.” Put the ‘dite’ in there, already.) We’re busy people, on the way to do essential things and argue on the internet about things that don’t affect us in any meaningful way.

By way of experiment, you should try it for yourself. “Terrible!” should be your response. Make it exaggerated. Enough people will laugh for you to be able to say, “I made you laugh.”

Only a real asshole resents a laugh.
Lucky for us, most of them work retail.

(I wrote the above quote as a marketing ploy. It seems to be accurate, much in the same way that no matter how many times you nibble on someone’s ear, it is always one time too few.)

Also, if my day, year, or life is temporarily or permanently terrible, it’s unwise to unload that fact onto others needlessly. You’re supposed to save those moments to inflict on your close personal friends and family. That’s what they get for staying inside your orbit. If you read that without realizing it was peckishly funny, you need to switch to decaffeinated coffee.

If you’re feeling adventurous, use “Not hello” in place of “Goodbye” and “Not goodbye” for “Hello.” Other languages have words that mean both “goodbye” and “hello.” If you’re a fan of the phrase, “Good day” can mean both in modern English, even if no one will immediately understand it in both contexts.

If none of those methods suit you, I propose that all your salutations use ONLY consonants. (Sorry, Finland.) If you think that would be hard to do, imagine the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea, which has 820 living languages.

If you don’t believe words can work magic and light your mind with fire, consider this: “The problem with sex in the movies is that the popcorn usually spills.”

Since I always work this joke into these conversations, you can also adopt one I stole from a comedian. He says, “DiGiorno,” like the pizza brand, to say both “hello” and “goodbye.” Though the joke is old now, I still laugh most of the time when I use it. I said “DiGiorno” to a doctor this morning, much to my amusement. I’m not sure what he thought I said, but he replied, “Same to you!” with a grin. I’m hoping that it worked itself into his subconscious, and he later opted for pizza for lunch.

One of the things on my bucket list is to be on a ship that’s sinking. I’m going to run up to the Captain and ask him which lifeboat is the non-smoking one.

Back to the “Are you happy?” premise.

I think if you make eye contact and use it enough, you’ll eventually get an answer that is so honest that it surprises you. You might learn something about another person. For example, you might also learn that the person is nuts. But that’s something.

So, I ask you: Are you happy?

I’ll stop and listen either way. I’m hoping you are, and that ridiculous things like the one you’re reading can trigger a smile in your heart. That’s where you spend most of your day, anyway, listening to the narrative of your internal voice. Say “Not hello” to that voice and say something creative and ridiculous to those around you.

It’s 2020. Normal was evicted and displaced by whatever we choose to put there.

P.S. “The last thing I want to do is insult you. But it IS on the list.” – Anonymous

For The New Year

“Time seldom approaches with a wild machete. It creeps from behind with a small, concealed knife.” – X

But Mel Brooks said, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

Someone more creative than me pointed out that the sand in an hourglass imprisons itself, as glass is made from sand. Don’t you wonder if we aren’t the same, becoming our own prisoners? There’s no emotion or problem that we can’t complicate, escalate, or initiate.

Noted philosopher Coco Chanel said, “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” She obviously never worked a real job or dealt with people who have few laughs in their hearts.

My scars insist that time is real, but in the quiet moments, I wonder. I used to assume that most people had these thoughts. It was disappointing to discover that many people can’t imagine that Aslan or tesseracts are real – or walk in an imagined world where they might be the figments of a greater creature’s imagination.

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” – Bill Watterson. I was equally surprised in later life to find people who deny that sitting in a quiet room can sometimes be better than a vacation. All good lives start with a quiet room. Add your preferred levels of crazy for a great life. Subtract what takes you further from the quiet room. It might be that simple for many of us.

“Why is that I never heard these words: ‘Let’s gather by the river, drink moonshine, and tell jokes and the stories of our lives.’ But I always hear stories of obligation and things that don’t linger in the minds of others.” – X

If you’ve never read “The Time Traveller’s Wife,” you missed this quote by Audrey Niffenegger: “It’s dark now and I am very tired. I love you, always. Time is nothing.”

Haruki Murakami said, either comically or seriously, “For a while” is a phrase whose length can’t be measured. At least by the person who’s waiting.”

Hippocrates (assuming it was the father of medicine and not the hockey player of the same name), said: “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

We all wonder about 2020, which ends in about a month. We look forward. Where were we a month ago? The difference between comparing now to then is a question of knowing what lies in the interim. It requires no faith. With what lies ahead, our imaginations seize us. Whether that imagination is fueled by the dread of what will come or the expectation that we will find a way to be who we need to be is our choice.

This is my New Year’s post, written a month early.

If you can’t feel time slipping up behind you with that knife, that is okay. There is no defense against it except to live a good life. You only win by yielding.

One last wise quote: “Time is a great healer, but a poor beautician.” -Lucille S. Harper

Prank Cards, Even For Xmas

For many, the tradition of holiday cards is a dying custom. I don’t envy people for their interests or habits. It’s not a good recipe for living to feel obligated to follow the old ways. For me, though, there are times when the opportunity to send cards brings out the part of me that lives in a vast world full of billions of souls, each wanting a little bit of spectacle and magic. Oddly, even those who’ve scorned social media are as likely to have given up writing letters or sending a holiday card to friends and family. It’s a dying custom.

It’s hard for me to send a simple card. I have to make it complicated and personal! 

I don’t send out cards in expectation of reciprocity. That, too, is a poor way to live one’s life. There are times when I put in a little bit of effort and then am surprised when I hear nothing in response, though. That’s part of the bittersweetness of sending unsolicited bits of fun and zaniness out in the world. People don’t have the time – or always make it – to let you know they liked it or hated it. Static sometimes fills the air. It’s a gift to be able to tune it out when you put out some creativity in the world. A good response is to keep sending them cards regardless of their interaction. 

A couple of years ago, I created a complex and custom birthday card online and sent it to an acquaintance. I made the card from social media pictures. It was a work of art, if I do say so myself. I used another return address to conceal my identity further. Since the company which printed and mailed my creation sent it, there was no postal marking to identify its origin. My acquaintance was genuinely perplexed and spent DAYS vainly trying to discern who might have created the artwork cards. So great was her interest that she finally posted on her social media page to beg for help figuring out ‘who.’ I was surprised that no one immediately connected the dots to me, given the work’s detail.

In a tradition I don’t always follow or do in the same manner, I send several personalized Christmas cards to people and families that I’ll never meet. In a few cases, I found pictures of LinkedIn, yearbooks from long ago, or social media. I downloaded them, and in some instances, photoshopped them before creating the custom cards that went to each of them. I chose a person at random from a yearbook for one of the lucky recipients I’d never seen before and researched them sufficiently to discover their new life. I also used ancestry to find a distant cousin and pieced together clues to figure out their real identity from the anonymous one used on the ancestry website. Using an inmate website, I found a person’s name and I.D. number and then sent him a glorious card and words of encouragement.

Though it might paint me as a bit of a weirdo, I find it challenging to explain to others how much fun I derive from sending total strangers a holiday card, especially when I personalize each with their pictures.

In each of these cases, I enjoyed each recipient’s imagined scenarios in my head, as they puzzled the personalized card from someone they didn’t know. In some cases, I used fake identities and addresses. In others, I used my real name, which might not necessarily allay concerns. “X” seems more like an accusation in some cases.

Of course, I also sent a few cards to people I do know, without using my real name and address, hoping to give them a bit of yuletide joy as they vainly attempted to figure out who had sent them a card. All those cards were customized and were a pleasure to create. I also sent a few to people using other friends and family members as the sender. I love living in a world wherein it is possible to convince people that someone else sent them a card, no matter how they might deny it.

Likely, I’ll never hear any of the stories that resulted from most of these custom cards. That’s how it works, though. Not knowing is often more rewarding than discovering the mundane answers.

Many people received Xmas cards over the years without knowing the person they thought sent it had nothing to do with it. Also? People don’t always look closely at the pictures. You wouldn’t believe the people and things I’ve edited into images without anyone noticing. 

I can imagine several of the recipients scratching their heads in bewilderment, wondering who, what, when, and where – all without an answer. They may half-expect a repeat this year. Because I used an online address book for most of them, I could go back and send them another card this year. That would get them thinking.

Because much of our modern lives are now redirected by technology, the old ways provide another road to have a bit of fun.

P.S. If you are not familiar with Postable, it’s a great way to have some of the fun without needing to do the actual creation by hand. Postable – Create and Send Custom Cards  You can upload pictures and design custom cards. They’ll also put it in an envelope and mail it for you – using any return address you might dream up. If you want to do Christmas or holiday cards, I highly recommend that you give Postable a try.

The Cocoon Conundrum

No matter how comfortable you are, if you wake up needing to go to the bathroom, you should go immediately. (Get out of bed first, though!) Additionally, as you age, the likelihood that you will misjudge your capacity to navigate the delicate balance of comfort versus biology increases exponentially. Young people read this and think it’s stupid. Older people read this and say, “Genius!” The difference between those two perspectives is experience.

The Joke

This is “the” joke I read in Spanish at a restaurant in Tulsa many years ago. Upon reading it, I realized that whatever controls language had clicked full-on for me in Spanish. The subtlety of the dumb joke caught me off guard and I’ve not forgotten that moment.


A Sergeant and his Lieutenant are on the edge of a wide prairie. Both are laying behind a slight rise on the perimeter of the prairie. The Lieutenant looks through his spyglass.

“Sarge, take this and look at the group of Indians riding toward us and tell me if you think they are friends or enemies!” The Lieutenant hands Sarge the telescope.

The Sargeant hits the Lieutenant on the shoulder. “Duh! I don’t need to use the telescope. They must be friends if they are riding so close together like that!”