Category Archives: Humor

A Gargle of Lemon Juice, A Poof of Tang

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My cousin Jimmy had everything good to eat. No matter what he wanted to eat, his mom bought it for him. His cereal cabinet might as well have been made of gold. At home, I was lucky to avoid eating a can of hominy instead of cereal. He had Pop-Tarts, Fruity Pebbles, Count Chocula, Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, and anything else he requested. While I loved corn flakes, I’ll admit the exotic flavors of Jimmy’s cereal cabinet were a sight to behold. He also had really good milk, the kind I’ve despised most of my life since. I’d rather drink the urine of an infected goat than finish a glass of milk – especially whole milk. When I worked in a dairy in high school, my distaste intensified.

Jimmy was three years younger than me. He loved challenging me to exotic dares. I had two things working in my favor: I didn’t expect to live long and I was an idiot. Jimmy maximized his arguments to appeal to those attributes. He seldom had to fear any repercussions for his antics, even if arson or dismemberment were involved. For my Aunt and Uncle, they were mainly only interested if it was their son’s arm or leg which had been detached; beyond that, they growled and barked but otherwise gave him carte blanche to do as he wished.

As was the case with cereal, Jimmy also had the awesome drinks of childhood: clean water devoid of sewage residue, unlimited whole milk, orange juice, chocolate milk, hot cocoa with real marshmallows, and the entire range of available sodas. He also had Tang.

Because of my aberrant taste in food, I loved stealing or a spoonful of Tang powder and eating it. It was luxurious and overwhelming. At times, I’d up-end the jar and pour it into my mouth directly. I had been unknowingly training for years to ingest a large amount of Tang on a dare.

One Sunday morning, Jimmy ate two different kinds of sugary cereal. Afterward, he jokingly challenged me to drink a big spoon of lemon juice. My Aunt Ardith always had a large jar of it in her cabinet near the stove. I don’t remember what we bet. Jimmy went first. He poured the spoonful in his mouth. Immediately, he spewed it back out. It splattered across the counter and in the direction of the sink. “Yuk!” His eyes turned red. I took a spoonful of lemon juice and poured it into my mouth. Just to rub it in, I gargled it and then swallowed it. It was beyond sour, of course, but tasted good to me. Lemon juice was an exotic food in my house. Mom would no more buy lemon juice than cut off an ear lobe with a steak knife. I took another spoonful and swallowed it. “Yum!” I said, just to irritate Jimmy.

“You bastard! How’d you do that,” he demanded. I laughed at him as he got a glass of water and swished his mouth out.

I said, “How about a REAL challenge, Jimmy?” I turned and took out the bottle of Tang powder.

“Yeah, okay, but you’re going to go first. NO tricks.” Jimmy watched me carefully as I got out the biggest spoon that would fit into the jar.

I dumped it into my mouth and held it, letting it dissolve and mix in my mouth. As I mentioned, it was sublime and delicious. After a moment, I showed Jimmy the inside of my mouth.

Keep in mind, this was in the 70s, long before the cinnamon challenge. We were just two idiots trying to outdo each other.

Jimmy took another spoon out and took a smaller lump of powder from the jar. Luckily, he put the jar back on the counter next to the stove.

He put the spoon into his mouth between his teeth and spilled it into his mouth.

While I’m not sure, I think he must have inhaled a good portion of the Tang dust as it dispersed into his mouth – and throat.

He gagged. A big plume of orange dust billowed out of his mouth as he turned to gag and retch into the sink. He used one hand to cup water into his mouth, even as he tried to get the powder out of his mouth and lungs. This continued for at least a minute.

“What in the hell are you two doing in here?” Aunt Ardith had walked up to the counter between the table and the kitchen, one hand holding her Tareyton cigarette and the other pointing at us. She looked at us like we’d been setting her curtains on fire with a cigarette lighter.

Jimmy and I froze like statues momentarily.

Even though Jimmy was stuttering and coughing, he managed to say, “Having breakfast, what does it look like?”
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*P.S. The picture is of my cousin Jimmy. I loved this picture because I used it to tease him that he was too dumb to use his grill outdoors. In reality, he had just bought a house and was assembling the grill. Whether he actually used it in the living room depends on whether he overcame our genetic predisposition to outright stupidity that day.

 

From Quinine To Asinine

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Unrelated to anything current, I recently did a double-take when I looked closely at my 1-liter bottle of Canada Dry diet Tonic Water. Recently, I began to crave this stuff again. I’ve periodically binged on it through the years.

Before you come away with the mistaken idea I mix this with anything, I don’t. I drink it unmixed and straight. If you’ve ever accidentally bitten into a AA battery, you’re on track to getting a good idea of how pungent this is.

Really poor quality tonic water tastes very similar to sewage. If you’ve been an avid reader of my anecdotes, you know that “Yes,” I do in fact know what sewage water might taste like. (And not just because I’ve eaten at Buffalo Wild Wings, either.) A couple of weeks ago, I bought another brand of said tonic water at Harps Foods. When I tried it, I told my wife it was one of the worst things I’d ever tasted. Naturally, I loved it and drank the entire bottle, even as my contorted looked like someone shoved an ice pick into my kidneys by way of my urethra.

This week, I happened to note that my bottle of Canada Dry diet tonic water had real quinine in it. I noted it after I drank the whole liter. Quinine gives a good tonic water its bitter taste. It’s also a significantly powerful medicine. Even though modern tonic waters don’t usually contain a great deal of quinine, it’s inadvisable to drink much of it at a time, unless you’re bored with Russian Roulette or skydiving.

Did I mention I’d been drinking a liter of this stuff at a time?

It reminds of the time I’d eaten 60+ pieces of exotic real black licorice. I turned the package over to find the following health warning: due to cardiac issues, please enjoy no more than 6 pieces of our delicious and authentic black licorice at a time.

Obviously, I didn’t suffer serious effects from my ignorance.

But I did pick a bad week to stop sniffing glue.

On The Tip Of Your Tongue, You Said?

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Although modern vehicles still retain the round 12-v holes in which to plug in adapters for power, people of a certain age all recall the magic of the spring-loaded cigarette lighters of yesteryear. Back in the day, everyone smoked, even people using oxygen, priests, the doctor who delivered you (while delivering you, no less), and the irritated waitress bringing you overcooked hash browns at the Waffle Hut. (There were no food returns, only “Get the hell out!” requests if you complained about your food, or ashes in your grits.)

Adults, however, could not be without a cigarette lighter for over ten minutes. Before we removed the clause from the Declaration of Independence, all adults were required to smoke at least a pack of cigarettes a day. My mom, for example, showed her patriotism by sometimes smoking a literal carton a day. It seems impossible. She often rose from the bed with a lit cigarette, bathed with a cigarette, and smoked all day as she sat in the operator’s chair for Southwestern Bell. There were times when our house on wheels looked like the polluted skies over an industrial factory. If we were in the car, the windshield seemed opaque from all the smoke. Having the windows down was a bit of a relief, but we all remember the clotted gasp of discovering that a butt thrown out the window had reentered to find itself in our mouths and throats. My mom didn’t believe that throwing a lit cigarette out of the car was a problem. If Smokey The Bear had been standing beside the road, she would have flicked it directly into the pocket of his shirt in an attempt to catch him on fire.

Adults who smoked treated the car cigarette lighter as if it were a religious relic, one to be admired, worshipped, and never touched by the undeserving hands of a child. (Unless we were told to light the cigarette for the adult, who undoubtedly was struggling already to pop the beer can open, the one cradled in the cheap koozie used to hold it.)

Unrelated to the story: the word ‘koozie’ is one of the ugliest words in the English language.

I don’t know how old I was for certain. My cousin Jimmy and I were in one of my dad’s and his cousin Tom’s jalopies for sale. Jimmy was spoiled, but sometimes lit up with mischief and humor. We sat in the front seat of some aged old car, honking the horn and ducking below the dash to avoid being seen. I’d get a beating if caught. Jimmy would have received a smile. Jimmy kept pressing the cigarette lighter in, waiting for it to startle him as it popped out, its insides glowing red. He acted like he was going to touch it with the tip of one of his fingers. “Don’t!” I yelled, despite my extensive Shakespearean training in the vocal arts. Jimmy laughed.

“Oh, it won’t hurt so bad.” He seemed sure. I was 100% certain he was wrong, having been stupid enough to do it myself. More than once and probably fifty times up to that point. I noted that my burned fingertips didn’t smell like pepperoni, either.

“I’ll give you 5 bucks if you touch it to the tip of your tongue,” he told me, smiling. 5 bucks was the equivalent of a fortune for me.

I considered it. I pulled the lighter from the sheath and watched it as it glowed red and hot. When I got it closer to my mouth, I could of course feel the heat radiating off it it.

“Get it hot again,” Jimmy insisted, so I popped it back in the ashtray that contained the plug in.

In a few moments, it popped back out. Jimmy grabbed it and handed it to me.

I unwisely brought it up to my face and stuck out the tip of my tongue. The heat was too much. At that precise moment, Jimmy slapped my left hand unexpectedly and the hot coil hit the tip of my tongue. Luckily, it came away immediately as I reacted and pulled it away. A bit of my skin came away with it. I could smell it burn and hear a slight hiss and sizzle as it cooked my disconnected skin.

I didn’t scream, but I did whimper as I coiled my tongue into my cheek. I could feel it burning. I think it was saying “Idiot” to me in the only way it knew how. Jimmy was doubled over and laughing. His eyes were teary as he peeked to look at the horrified expression on my face.

Because I was poor and my mom refused to let us use the excellent insurance she had through her work, my concern was the possibility of needing medical care. Dad would have opted to slice off the tip of my tongue with one of his hunting knives, or push me into an open septic tank.

Sidenote: the house I lived in, one off of Powell and near Hatfield Street, and opposite the old City View trailer park, had a secret. There was a round garage on the property that Dad used for his mechanic business. The property had a well and a septic tank instead of city water and sewer. We had been bathing in – and drinking – water contaminated with sewer waste from a faulty septic tank for over a year. We kept complaining that everything tasted like sh*t. We weren’t wrong.

This is a true story.

Without going into the details, it’s why to this day I have to concentrate to take the first bite of ramen noodles.

Jimmy finally stopped laughing. My eyes cleared up enough for me to tell Jimmy I was going to sneak up on him while he was sleeping in his waterbed and put a snake under the covers with him. The idea of snakes on him while sleeping terrified him. He begged and pleaded for forgiveness.

My tongue hurt for several days. I had to play the French Horn. Each time my tongue punctuated a note against my lips or the mouthpiece, I’d cringe a little. I felt like a little poodle on the verge of wetting myself.

I never put a snake in the bed with Jimmy. But I thought about it. A million times.

From Horse Soup To Subway

Work today was like horse anus soup, a large, steaming bowl of it. I went to get the oil changed in Dawn’s car and then went to a Subway. (The food kind, not the subterranean kind.) There were several people in line waiting when I arrived. One of them was a spindly Latino man somewhere around 30 or 60 years of age. Although he had a case of akimbo teeth, his smile was wide. He awkwardly gestured for me to go ahead. “No, it’s okay,” I told him. “No English,” he told me, insisting that I move ahead. When I replied in Spanish, “None of these ______ speaks Spanish? Well, we can do better,” he looked like he found a spider in his underwear. I told him we’d make a go of it and learn in the process if he could tolerate my accent and sense of humor. I helped him with his order as I continued with mine. I hit him with a lot of jokes, such as the one when I told him the chicken plank was made from reprocessed cardboard. In my defense, it looks and tastes like it does. He didn’t know what to say when I asked him, “You want the WHOLE chicken on there? That’s crazy!” He laughed and pointed at the bland, lifeless plank of chicken breast. He now knows that the rotisserie chicken is a smarter choice, regardless, if you’re interested in eating shredded animal flesh under a pile of vegetables.

Because we were having a bit of fun with it, people in line and working there were all interested and listening. It sounds impossible, but we had a good time for those few minutes we interacted. Most of the time, standing in line at Subway at lunch is similar to the process of lining up for a firing squad staffed by cross-eyed gunners. We chose the other fork of the road, the one lined with shoeless singers and banjos, the road Robert Frost would have never taken unless he had a hit of LSD with him.

When he got his receipt, I pulled out the marker I invariably have with me and wrote, “+tomato+mayo” on it and told him to keep the receipt for his next order. He was beaming. I think I just gave Subway a lifetime customer and another human being a little bit of optimism about the rest of us.

Sketchy ________

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NSFW warning: this story is true. It contains references that will make curse words materialize in your head. (Not that watching the news doesn’t cause the same reaction, regardless of which camp you root for.) If you know the song, there’s no use pretending you’re offended. This story, however, reminds people of the fact that I’m not one to be offended at profanity per se; the sentiment underlying the language is the only offending force at work when profanity makes its appearance.

For real, though? You’re still reading? Stop reading. You will get offended or be put in the position that obligates you to pretend you’re offended. (A common affliction we all seem to suffer from more and more.)
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Most of us have our profane “in-jokes,” ones which defy meticulous explanation.

One of mine is “Sketchy _____________.”

If someone passes by who looks like he just jumped out of bed after a long night in a beer-filled ditch, I laugh and sing a line from a Prince song. Its radio title was “Sexy M.F.” You can google it if you need to.

Likewise, if someone looks like a rejected extra from “Silence of The Lambs,” the dicey parts, I’ll croon the line in an even creepier falsetto. If they look like a failed professional bowler wearing stuff from his mom’s closet, he gets the “Sexy M.F.” Prince song. The only requirement is that I change “sexy” to “sketchy.”

Shortly after the new road bypassing Old Wire in North Springdale was finished, we were waiting at the light at 264. One of the weirdest people I’ve ever seen in my life was waiting on the opposite side of the intersection. He looked like Axe Body Spray had mated with Domino’s Pizza and produced a child. I suspect that even his birth certificate had been stamped “Suspicious.”

I sang the lyric wrong without thinking. Comedy gold was born.

If you’re ever around me and we see someone really wickedly strange, just nod and I’ll do the thing. There are few joys greater than hearing me sing in a falsetto, especially in regard to an obscure Prince song.

In closing, don’t be a “Sketchy ____________.”

Or I’ll sing at you as you pass by.

A List For The Ages

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I was at the in-laws’ house, chopping wood for the fireplace.

The next-door neighbor came out and said, “Need firewood, do you?”

“No, I just hate trees,” I told him.

Bill Engvall could not be reached for comment.

In an oblivious nod to wordplay, my health insurance said they don’t cover baldness.

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It bears repeating: if you are in it, you ARE traffic.

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Monday, I woke up with random splotches of hair on my head.

I went to the doctor.

He diagnosed me with non-pattern baldness.

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Unusual sign you’re an artist: if your cat vomits on the floor and your first thought is whether decorative beads would enhance the design – or detract from it.

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Two-part anecdote: the lock on my community mailbox was inoperable. Instead of waiting on the postal tech to replace the lock, I forced the key in to get the treasures I knew I would find. Among them was a custom deck of playing cards I had made for someone unlucky enough to be related to me. (Note: I had to break the key off to keep people from getting inside the box pending alleged scheduled repair.)

Also, and much to my surprise, a fellow Aficionado of Shenanigans had honored me with a pleasant surprise. The envelope was addressed to: “President of the Avian Minstrel Society, NWA Chapter.” I assume I’m the president. My wife never mentioned an interest in anything either minstrel nor avian, unless cooked in the oven and coated in gravy. Inside the envelope was a page from the best/worst book ever published. Its pages are regarded as both awesome and awful, depending on the dosage of whatever medication you’ve been overprescribed.

It is advisable NOT to attempt to make sense of the contents of the page.

P.S. I bet Zuckerberg never imagined that Facebook would ever have a post as weird as this one.

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Note: don’t try to suck the cork out of a bottle of wine, no matter how much Walmart drives you to it during winter weather. P.S. I did drop a bottle, though – and felt terrible, especially since I successfully passed it 15 yards. (Does anyone else see a bird in the accidental mess?)

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I rarely post other people’s pictures. This one, however, bears such an uncanny resemblance to my mother-in-law that it made me look twice. No word on what my sister-in-law might have prepared for lunch that day.

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“…As for you, if you’re 60 or older, you were born closer to the 1800s than today…”

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Regarding the almost-road conditions: 99 Problems But The Ditch Ain’t One…

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I walked in with a couple of scratches on my face.

“Attacked by a pack of coyotes?” a coworker asked.

“No, a pack of cigarettes.”

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“Monday is ranch dip with a hidden cockroach in it,” the man said, fairly loudly.

I laughed. It’s a good line.

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Possible tourism slogan for small towns in Arkansas: “It was more real than I imagined it would be.”

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“I’ve been working like a dog,” my boss said.

“Yeah, you get distracted every time someone passes by.”

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I can see for miles and miles, if I choose. I’ll stay here, though, and grimace at the walls in front of me – and recoil with each mundane complaint from those around me. It’s out there, though, the wide expanse of world. I could see for miles and miles. If I chose.

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At 4 a.m., the rain violently washed away all the accumulated sins. Unlike with yesterday’s social media rants, people drove with caution as their cars skidded on the impromptu rivers eddying across the roads. To avoid a fully-clothed shower, I detoured through the cavernous hallways as I walked. A woman absently exited through a side door ahead of me. She muttered to herself as my steps fell only two feet behind her. Halfway down the hallway, she jumped in surprise at my unexpected presence behind her. “You startled me,” she said, laughing. “Yes, just like the day will,” I cryptically answered. We both laughed and went our separate ways.

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Though it’s early February, I’m out under a gazebo, jacketless, enjoying the breeze pass over me. I can’t gather impetus or enthusiasm to immerse myself once again in the literal confines inside the place in which I trade my finite minutes for small, rectangular green pieces of paper. Inside I must go, leaving the breeze and approaching daylight. I take a tiny portion of the darkness with me as consolation.

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I’ve abandoned my plan to publish a yearly Non-Farmer’s Almanac.

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“Can you drive a stick?” the snarky senior citizen asked me.

“Yes. Where do you want me to take it?”

I bowed.

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Things might have been different if Ted Kaczynski’s neighbor had been prone to sudden staccato bursts of trumpet playing at random intervals.

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For 5 consecutive days, I’ve successfully printed a form and reduced it 5% each day without anyone noticing. I’m proud of this achievement and hope fervently to reach 1/2 size on the form before someone has a panic attack.

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An epitaph I wrote for someone who died last year…

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Regarding the almost-road conditions: 99 Problems But The Ditch Ain’t One…

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A Dumb Joke For You

As I passed the old art supply shop, I noticed an open trash can at the edge of the curb. I drove a little further and made a U-turn. There was no traffic at all when I did so. I drove very close to the curb, hung my arm out the window and slammed the small bag of trash I had into the top of the trash can.

Immediately, I saw blue lights come on ahead of me. I pulled over and waited for the policeman to come up to the window.

“What’s the problem,” I asked him.

“I’m going to have to give you a ticket for Dunk Driving.”

Isaac’s Raindrama Observation

 

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Noted sociologist Isaac (who needs only one name), coined the term ‘raindrama’ two years ago. He noted that the actual or impending presence of rain immediately connotes an intense dramatic feel to all human activity exposed to it. Conversely, his observation also ridicules anyone who hasn’t noticed this tendency in their own personal lives, citing it as evidence of willful obstinance.