Friday, June 27, 2008

White Monkey Tea

White Monkey Tea

I have no idea why a green tea is called "White Monkey" because it's not white tea, nor do its leaves resemble a white monkey's fingers. It's leaves and buds vaguely appear to have a facsimile to a clenched, white fist, so perhaps that's where they got the name from. Plus, "White Fist" sounds sort of like a racially charged energy drink.


The taste is really unique, because it's common. Imagine the way a steak or any cut of meat might taste, especially its savoriness or the umami component. If well prepared, all meats share this certain flavor. Now, imagine what the steak or cut of meat would taste like if you were able to increase its umami by 1000. You might end up with something akin to eating crisco with bacon bits on it. Too much of this good flavor would ruin the meat, similar to adding too much salt to a dish, rendering it unpalatable.
This analogy is applicable to White Monkey. It has a green tea flavor that is shared by all green teas. But most green teas have varied flavor components that yield different types of teas. Not so with White Monkey. It's like green tea on steroids. It's overwhelmingly green, and if I really concentrate, I can detect a little sweetness, (Or is that chlorophyll?) but this takes a backseat while the spinach and asparagus taste charge forward. To briefly understand what this tastes like, wash an asparagus stalk and just munch on it. After about every third munch, sprinkle a pinch of sugar on the stalk and continue munching. This tea tastes exactly like that.
UPDATE: I've decreased my steeping time from 1 1/2 minutes to just 30 seconds. This has cut down on the overwhelming taste, but it's still present and hasn't improved with the lower temperature and less steeping.


White monkey smells faintly like leafy vegetables and a little bit of oolong. Unlike most of the teas I've tried, its smell doesn't tell you what you're about to taste.


For this tea, I covered the bottom of my cup infuser with a small layer of leaves (probably 3/4 tablespoon) and steeped for 1 1/2 minutes at 180-190 Fahrenheit. I really don't think you'd want to steep at a higher temperature or for much longer, because you'll get a really grassy, strong tasting cup of tea.

Looking at, I'm not alone in my opinion that this is a strong, green tea, despite their description of it being "a very light cup that is noticeably sweet, and infused with a fresh, delicate scent." Fresh, yes. Delicate, not quite. A second infusion for 30 seconds at a lower temperature yielded a milder cup, with very little flavor or tea character except for a spinach/asparagus taste. Perhaps I should throw out the first infusion, and just enjoy the second and third infusions, but that seems a shame, especially when there are much better teas to enjoy.

Bai Mu Dan

Bai Mu Dan, Pai Mu Tan, White Peony

Bai Mu Dan is a Chinese white tea that's supposedly a lower grade of the Silver Needles. What makes me wonder if this is true or not, is that I've seen different grades of Bai Mu Dan.


The taste is fairly similar to Silver Needle tea, but it's darker and actually more vibrant. You do get a little bit of the floweriness at the start, but that's soon replaced with fruity, jam-like notes. The finish is clean and doesn't leave a lingering taste. There is an overall "airy" quality to the taste but it's not as prominent or delicate as Silver Needle.


The scent is a little flowery, but it's not perfume-like or sweet, and it has a slight green tea scent to it.


For this tea, I used a slightly smaller amount than I normally do. Half a tablespoon, instead of a full one, and I steeped it at about 180-190 Fahrenheit for 3 1/2 minutes.

I really enjoy this white tea. It's robust enough that you can read your favorite book without stopping to concentrate "Am I tasting jasmine or hibiscus? Wait, no, it's lemongrass. Wait, no Sevilla oranges. Wait" etc, and it's delicate enough so that when you sit for lunch you can actually taste your meal and not tea.

Nads Hair Removal (Slightly Salty)

Sometimes there are products whose names describe exactly what they are and how they function. Take the jawbreaker for example. I'm sure it was named because the person attempting to eat it busted his teeth out and cracked his mandible. If you see a car hurtling down the street and notice that the driver has a pair of pliers to make the car turn, you will aptly call it a deathtrap when the decrepit vehicle doesn't make a turn completely and explodes into a heap of metal. So while I was briefly watching TV over supper tonight, an ad came on for a women's hair removal product called "Nads." It's almost like the CMO scratched his or her head in thought, and just said, "To hell with it. We'll just call it nads, because 'ingrown hoo-ha hair' won't sell as well."
Oddly, a look at the website yields this information: "Simple and effective, Nads Natural Hair Removal Gel is perfect for legs, bikini line, underarms and arms." They don't have a disclaimer that "Nads works best on nads," yet they name their product after a shortened neologism.
That's deliberately misleading the public.
What's next? A Clear Eyes brand of toothpaste? Just in case you don't believe me, they have a website: And guess what? They don't even bother having having a url of "" or "" It's just simply "nads"
But how would people explain that they use this product or even admit to it? At least I didn't write the commercial's script, because it would've have gone something like this:

Woman#1: Sheena, you have such smooth legs that have a healthy shine. What's your secret?
Woman#2: Glad you asked, Karen! I use nad's!
Woman#1: Nads?
Woman#2: Yep, nad's! You have to send away for it, and it comes in this special tube. All you have to do is squeeze some of the product out, apply and let dry, and the hair just washes away!
Woman#1: That sounds great! But what about unwanted facial hair? Do they make something for that?
Woman#2: Look no further than nad's facial wand! Soft and gentle, it'll get you the results that you want! If you desperately seek those "eye-catching eyebrows," then you simply must use nad's!
Woman#1: But what if nads are too hard on my skin? Are there moisturizing nads out there?
Woman#2: There are, Sheena! There's nad's sangria punch! It leaves your skin soft, smooth, and supple while removing your hair!
Woman#1: That is so fantastic, Karen! I think I'm going to try nads tonight! Can I find nads in my local cosmetic supply store?
Woman#2: Nad's isn't widely available yet, but they're working on it! Soon, nad's will be found in every beauty supply store!
Woman#1: Thanks, Sheena. I'm so glad we had this girl talk on nads!

See what I mean? It'd be hard to actually get actors to go through all of that with a straight face. As a matter of fact, something seems completely odd that "nads" would actually be used for product names, including a special "facial wand," a painful sounding nad's "sangria punch," and a nad's line for men. There's no way someone couldn't actually stop and point out to the company that they just successfully named their product after reproductive organs. But perhaps someone pushed for this name and is living out their little joke, and will still guffaw 40 years later when they hear two women gossip: "Nad's is the best hair removal product ever!"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Quest for Humor

What Is Humor? (A Myth to Discovery)


I think writing can sometimes be a little like trying to fit a puzzle together to get a picture. You start off with a single piece's shape and a portioned image which fit together with other shapes and images until it becomes clear how the remaining pieces fit together and the image they all create. Writing's like that, except you have fragments of ideas and it isn't until you have at least half the story written that you know how each sentence connects and forms coherent paragraphs which will make up the story.
But lately it seems like all the puzzle pieces have been the same shape and I always end up with the same picture of The Village People oiled up wrestling with one another (I appreciate the gift, Aunt April, but I was horrified when I discovered that the jigsaw puzzle was not of a sailboat like on the box).
So how do I get out of this writing cycle? Humor always draws me into writing, whether it's an idea or a real event that happened to me. But what is humor? How does one accomplish it? Perhaps an analysis of what humor is will yield different pieces and images of this puzzle called writing, but if it comes to it, I'll settle for a less disturbing image of The Village People.

I've never really understood humor because it's different for everyone in its ability to make people laugh. Take the average TV show. A common, generic exchange on a common, generic sitcom between a common, generic man and his common, generic wife, "Hey honey, did you take out the trash?" "Yeah, why?" "Because there's a huge pile of it outside the door!" will always yield raucous laughter from an audience that happens to be common and generic (or lobotomized). My inquiries into why this exchange displays "humor" is always answered with a "This show is funny." "Well, what makes this show funny?" "It's just a funny show." "But that exchange happened between me and my girlfriend the other day and we weren't laughing at the end of it." "Gah, it's just a funny show! I can't explain it!" So in addition to being suspiciously unfunny , humor from these types of shows seems to lower the viewer's intelligence enough so that any attempt of communication on explicating the show's humor becomes incredibly frustrating and painful for the viewer. So my search for understanding humor was paused by this response.

But, I prevailed and began to wonder. Perhaps humor is making light of situations and interpreting something awful, embarrassing, and awkward as being funny. This new view on humor reminded me of a time last year when I was sitting at a bus stop while raining. I wasn't raining, but the skies were, and a bus that happened to drive by at an excessive speed picked up water in its tires and flung them upon me and a man sitting beside me. After spitting out a mouthful of the brown sludge, he turned to me and with a Cheshire grin yelled, "This is just like a waterpark!" "Maybe there's something to that, " I mused. I encountered several different situations that met this new definition of humor: "Oh, I got a bad grade on this test...It's just like summer camp!" I'd chortle. "I can't find a job or a place to live...Just like California's Skid Row!" "I have no food and I haven't eaten in weeks...Just like Sudan!" I began to have misgivings and started heavily question this new humor I'd found. I was completely miserable and after experiencing a humorous bout of stomach flu, I threw the new definition of humor in the toilet.

I was in a tunnel-visioned, depressed mood. What if my entire life is funny, but I don't know it? Or what if my entire life is awful, but I keep on thinking that it's funny? There should at least be some sort of legal definition or law on what humor is and isn't. Relief came with a source that actually defined humor. It was a book that I was reading that credited the quote "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when I walk into an open sewer and die," to Mel Brooks. Perhaps that's what the problem was. People like me were confusing tragedy with comedy. For once in my life I was able to walk around and tell people with bravado what humor really is. Until someone pointed out that Mel Brooks had only defined COMEDY and NOT humor! This was a stumble backwards, I admit, but I had a definition of what comedy is which includes humor, so that was a step forward. So with the stumble backwards and the step forward, I sort of had my legs stretched out longer than was comfortable, straddling the notion of humor. And fate as it were happened to smile at me (or maybe kick my backside since I fell over), but I immediately found the situation humorous. And it was humorous because I was in a quest to try and define something that can't easily be defined, plus I looked silly sprawled on the floor of the Student Stores with everyone walking around, avoiding me. It started as a slow, rolling chuckle which morphed into a maniacal laugh that forced all the air out of my lungs and manifested itself as tears coming out of my eyes. It seems that I had discovered humor, or that humor had discovered me.
And! at once! I was able to see what things were and weren't humorous! The unique juxtaposition and embarrassment that occurred after the fundamentalist campus preacher pointed to a woman wearing a dress and yelled, "All you women should wear what she's wearing and be just like her!" which prompted said woman to lift up her dress to reveal that she had forgotten to wear panties that day. That was humor!
Or the light-hearted misunderstanding between an African gentlemen and myself where he repeatedly insisted that he was looking for "Ah-POH" road and my tenacious rebuttal of "Yes, yes! You're looking for Airport! Airport Rd!" which was always refuted by him with a shake of his head and a louder exclamation of "AH-POH!" Sometimes, when I lie awake at night, I wonder if he ever was able to find his "Ah-POH!" road and happiness. Or if he just had to settle for Airport Rd.
I was confident I knew what humor was now. When prompted, I told the masses, "Humor is a certain trait that presents itself in seemingly unlikely and unusual events, or something that is jovially ludicrous. And as I've found, there's a certain amount of unexpectedness and pain involved."
It wasn't until a month later when I was moving my bookshelf that my Merriam-Webster dictionary fell and landed with the pages open on "h." M-W's definition of humor was on the top, left hand side of the page and it was a paraphrase of what I was telling people, which forced me to ask myself, "Why the hell did I spend that much time trying to find an answer when any old fool could have looked it up in a dictionary?" How ironic.


So in my quest to discover just what humor is, I was more than a little saddened to discover that humor had already been defined and discovered. I was downright in the dumps when I reminded myself that I'd made this discovery by dropping my dictionary. I mean, imagine if Alexander Graham Bell first tested his telephone weapon prototype, expecting it to shoot sonic waves that could blast through walls, and then all he got was a muffled voice coming out of the horn saying, "HELLO? HELLO? Why this piece of junk doesn't work!" I'm sure Bell was discouraged by not having an awesome weapon that all the babes would admire, but he found his silver lining in the cloud and refashioned it as a humble instrument that made distance communication possible. So for the sake of humor, I've determined myself to define possibly another word that would have some usefulness in breaking my formulaic writing. I think I'm going to understand and define that feeling you get when you feel like you been somewhere before, or done something already. And I shall call it "R-r-r-r-r-repetitive awareness."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Temple of Heaven Gunpowder
Gunpowder tea is pretty nifty. It's a green tea that's been dried and rolled into little pellets that resemble grains of gunpowder, and you get the nice visual display of the pellets "exploding" while steeping. Supposedly because the overall leaf isn't as exposed to air as a twisted tea leaf, they keep for longer.

I'm tasting A Southern Season's version of gunpowder tea. The overall flavor is one-sided, prominently being a generic "green tea" taste that melds together with a little bit of sweetness and grass. It's not a strong tea, but it doesn't have a delicate taste, either. The majority of the flavor is towards the finish.

This smells like green tea, with maybe a *little* bit of a smoky scent. Other than that, it's pretty nondescript.

This is one tea that you really don't want to steep for too long and at too high a temperature. I steep it for two minutes at about 140-160 Fahrenheit. Any longer, and you'll have a cup of nasty, burnt tasting tea that will coat your mouth.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Pu'er, Puer, Pu-erh tea
Pu'er tea is unusual to me. Do you recall the first time you ever smelled cheese that hadn't been processed? Chances are good that you said, "That smells strong," or "that smells awful," or even "that smells like my little sibling." Pu'er is a little bit the same way; according to Wikipedia, it's made from tea trees that have gone feral and the chemical composition of its leaves vary slightly from regular tea strains, resulting in the distinct aroma and taste. I've only had the fully fermented and oxidized version of pu'er, and I can't say whether its the leaves' chemical compositions or the fact that it's actually fermented that makes the tea taste different. But different it is.
Pu'er has a very odd taste to me. It has very little tannin character, probably due to oxidation and fermenting removing most of the bitterness. The kind of pu'er that I had was Organic Wild Tree Pu'er from A Southern Season (it was half off), and it yielded some unusual tastes. The first taste that greets you is an earthiness. No, it doesn't taste like dirt, but it does have an initial taste somewhat similar to raw, leafy vegetables. The second taste that you can detect is its sweetness, which comes after the earthiness. The last taste that lingers on your palate is a funky, musty, indescribable taste (it could possibly taste like some sort of fermented food, I can't really tell) that takes a little getting used to, like developing a taste for ripened cheese.

The scent of pu'er actually isn't all that bad. It smells like a big leaf pile in the fall without the oaky scents, and even more earthy. However, after I'd had my bag open for a while, the scent changed to an earthy-funky musk that was rather off-putting.

Steeping was almost stupid simple with this tea, which makes me worry that I got a lower quality sample. I just poured about a tablespoon full of tea in a mug, and made several infusions out of it. I didn't bother using an actual infuser or even timing it, I just continually sipped it until it was cool enough for me to actually drink it and enjoy it.

While pu'er has its fans, I'm not completely sure I'm for it or against it. I could taste something that I liked in its musty-sweet flavor, but then again it's rather expensive for tea, and there was something altogether off putting for me about it.

Keemun or Keemum

Keemun or Keemum

Keemun is a black Chinese tea that I really enjoy. It's more complex than the other teas that I've written about and depending on how long you steep it and the amount you use, it's character can change so that it resembles a different tea entirely.

Its taste starts off being floral and barely sweet. Once it completely enters the mouth, the taste changes with the floral notes fading and a slightly winy taste comes into play. This too leaves, and a tannin taste (that's almost bitter) lingers on the palate. The neat thing about this is that unlike other teas where the taste stays the same and becomes bitter toward the end of the cup and dregs, keemun changes its tasting notes throughout the cup. The top portion of the cup has a light, warm, flowery taste with very little tannin and a little winy character. The middle of the cup has decreased floral notes, and a more pronounced winy character that increases in strength towards the bottom of the cup, until you have to actually concentrate on picking out the floral notes. The dregs are somewhat bitter but still palatable. The tea that I'm currently reviewing is the Southern Season brand, which I can't be sure if it's a tea with primarily Keemun and a lower grade black tea, or exclusively Keemun. The Grace Rare Tea Co.'s version of Keemun was decidedly stronger and a lot more winy (though it did say "Winy Keemun" on the tin and not "Oh-So-Delicious-Floral-Keemun").

The scent of Keemun is sort of flowery, but nothing like Silver Needle tea. It's more subdued and doesn't have a crisp, sweet scent, but rather a warm, fragrant scent.

Steeping and then some
For me, this tea is hard to pigeonhole into a specific steeping method. I use a full boil and steep for 3-5 minutes, but the character of the tea changes with each infusion! A first infusion yields a robust melange of flavors: floral, winy-sour, and tannin. A second infusion highlights the floral notes throughout the cup, transforms the winy-sour taste into a winy-fruit taste, and leaves very little of the tannin character left except for the finish. A final third infusion removes the winy character of keemun and results in a mildly smooth, sweet, lightly floral cup.
I've heard several different ways of yielding consistently good infusions of black tea instead of pouring, timing, and hoping that it tastes good. One way is to rinse the tea off to get rid of the dust on the leaves. This tea dust has a high surface area and steeping can extract a good portion of the tannins, resulting in a tea that's very bitter and harsh tasting. No tea dust, no harsh, bitter tea!

Another way is to actually pour boiling water into the infuser with tea in it. Swirl it around for about a minute, and then dump it out. Reboil water, pour water into the cup and infuser, and steep normally. The thought behind this is that this will extract enough of the tannins but very little of the flavor compounds in the tea leaves, so that you're left with a good cup of tea that's somewhat similar to the second infusion.

For keemun, I can't say which way is better than the other. I've tried the rinsing method and the half extracting method, and I've said to heck with it. Now I just try not to steep the tea for too long (3-4 minutes at the most), and enjoy the changes in flavor that each infusion yields.

Lapsang Souchong

Lapsang Souchong, Zhengshan Xiaozhong
This has to be a tea that's distinctly different from anything else I've tried. It's a Chinese black tea, but instead of being rolled and oxidized, it's dried over pine fires. This isn't the Rauchbier of teas, though, since the distinct way the tea is dried doesn't make it taste like liquid bacon. Instead, it smells like a campfire, but tastes like black tea with pine notes.

The tea starts off with a little bit of smoke, and then melds into tannins and pine. The finish is a little bitter (because of the tannins) with the pine notes lingering on.

The best words to describe Lapsang Souchong's scent are savory and smoky-fragrant. It has a smoky scent (which lingers in the cup and dregs) and a pine resin smell.

I've tried about half a pound of two different brands, and this type of tea isn't very finicky, although if you use just warm water and not enough steeping time, you'll end up with a tea that only tastes of pine. Steeping it for too long doesn't result in an incredibly bitter black tea that requires tea and milk to be palatable. Use a full boil and steep for about 5 minutes to extract the flavor.

Silver Needle white tea

Silver Needle
When it comes to tea, I don't really care what Chinese province it comes from, so long as it's lead and asbestos free and arrives in a neat package at a store that I can buy that's also lead and asbestos free. If you were to ask me, "How is tea made?" you might hear me mumble something about how families strap baskets to their backs and go out into the mountains and start picking tea leaves before the dawning sun's light strikes the tea leaves and buds, ruining its purity and flavor nuances. But of course, that would be a lie. I don't know how tea is grown, gathered, processed and graded, but I DO know how it tastes. My first experience with green tea was the type that came in a Bigelow teabag and tasted like an ashtray (or burnt rubber if you were lucky). Flavor notwithstanding, I realized that it helped me get over colds quickly and didn't make me feel like someone had hooked my muscles up to an electric current. It wasn't until later that I found out that tea's not supposed to taste that way.
Enter the loose leaf tea.

With a few exceptions, loose leaf will be the better quality tea that you buy, no matter where you buy it from. It has the subtleties of flavor that are trapped or obscured by the paper bag that sits between you and the tea in your favorite mug. And unlike tea bags, you can reinfuse the tea leaves about 3 or 4 times depending on the quality of the leaf.

Silver Needle tea is not green tea, but actually white tea. It has a very fragrant, almost sweet taste that's reminiscent of flowers, with an overall delicate taste.
The first taste that greets your tongue is the scent of flowers, and as the tea enters your mouth, you'll notice the sweetness and a slightly fresh, "green" character to the taste that melds together. The finish is light and again, flowery.
The best way to describe the way silver needle smells is to get some essential oil of jasmine, and water it down. It smells a little similar to that. Unlike other teas, this variety is a joy to drink and sniff.
I've had the best results steeping the first infusion for 5 minutes with a water temperature of about 160 Fahrenheit. The second infusion for about 10 minutes, and the final infusion for about 15 minutes.

Supposedly this is the highest grade of white tea, and I can see why. It's not cloying, coating, or bitter, but delicately sweet and flowery. After a few cups, your mouth will feel clean, like you've just brushed your teeth.

Monday, June 23, 2008


When I was on campus the other day, Lara and I saw a bunch of signs pointing out which buildings were what and a lot of young looking kids wearing the same t-shirts and walking through the quads in groups. Orientation time is here!
Now, if you personally remember your orientation, you probably remember thinking, "Wow! My college is so clean and nice, and my orientation leader is the awesomest ever! I can't wait to start college!"
Well, first impressions for college aren't accurate at all. I remember the first time I went to a basketball game at Carolina. When I got back home I told my dad, "Dad, I think if you want to be a college student at Carolina, you have to look hung over and not shave." Padre's eyes bugged out a little bit and he said, "Hmm, let's look at some more colleges, son." I already had a good idea of what the student body looked like, and it sure was different from my orientation.
So as opposed to living a lie, why don't the colleges just hire someone who represents the entire student body to lead an orientation session?

A group of incoming freshmen are standing around in the Pit, looking worried and muttering, "Where's our orientation leader?"
As soon as that's said, a man covered in newspapers who had been sleeping on the steps, wakes up and gets to his feet. His hair is matted down, he reeks of stale beer, and his eyes are red and hazy. "Did I hear someone say orientation? Why, I'M your orientation leader, kids! Uh, excuse me while I freshen up...[finishes off a bottle in a brown bag] Ok! Well, you're at UNC obviously, home of the tarheels and the number one basketball team! WHOOOO! But first, if you want to start college, you need supplies. And what better place to get supplies than student stores!"
He jogs into the student stores, leaving the group staring at one another and then finally they shuffle to the doors.
Guy: "Oh, glad you made it. I thought I'd lost you for a second. Now, here are the magazines. They have Playboy and Playgirl for all you lonely types here...and some, uh, more intellectual stuff, like National Geographer and, um, Newstimes. [The parents start looking at each other, fretting] But enough of that shit, whoops, did I say that out loud? Alright, you need books and stuff so let's go find some books!"
The orientation leader leads the kids through the stacks of books, and herds them around out of sight from the parents and salespeople. "Alright, kids, I hate paying this much for books and gum as the rest of you, so I'm going to tell you a little secret. You have to wait until someone's entering the store, then you grab a piece of gum and fling it outside, but you have to throw it above the sensors or else you'll have to run really fast. I mean, I've never done this, but I know of people who had. If you're serious about getting a good deal on textbooks then you should buy from Amazon or Tarheel Bookstore, or Rams Books and not from this place, cause this place is a ripoff, and I mean price gouging to the extreme and I c-"
Dean: [to orientation leader]"Ah, Whitfield is it? I though you graduated last semester?"
Guy: "Oh, no I liked it so much here that I had to comeback and become an orientation leader."
Dean: "Hm, [to group] so guys, has he been telling you all what a great store this is and how every dollar you spend here is given to scholarships for people who aren't qualified to go here?"
Guy makes a fist and glares at the group.
Group: "yeessss"
Dean: "Well, good! *sniff, sniff* Whitfield, you smell like booze. You haven't been drinking have you?"
Guy: "What, me, sir? Never! It's just my exotic aftershave."
Dean: "That's what you told us the last time we caught you swimming naked in the fountain."
The group starts laughing.
Guy: "Shut up, kids! [glances at watch] Alright, let's move on. You guys need your laptops."
The guy waits outside the IBM ITS NRA NIH CDC section of the student union, waiting for his kids to get back. A girl comes up to him with her iPod and a USB cable, and has help plugging them in.
Girl: "Hey, I can't get these to go into the computer and it's really aggravating, do you think you could-"
Guy: "Oh, say no more, kid. [Takes laptop, holds it in his hands for a minute, peering at it from all sides, and then drops it from eye level onto the brick floor]"
Girl: "HEY!"
Guy: "Now, let's see if it works...[turns laptop on, and gets a critical error message screen] Perfect! Now go get back in line and they'll give you an advanced model since they''ll have run out of the current ones! No need to thank me kid, I've done this plenty of times."
After getting their laptops, the orientation leader walks the group through the quad, and points out the different buildings and departments. The parents' minds are finally at ease since it seems he knows what he's talking about.
Guy: "And the quad up on the other side of South building is mostly art, religion, music, and human studies, or something like that. What are all of you guys?"
Group: "Biology"
Guy: "HAH! Good luck with that. Now are there any questions from the kids? No? What about the parents?"
Parent: "Yes, what can students expect from the first semester?"
Guy: [very slowly] "A...FUN time...all the time."
The parent bursts into tears.
Guy: "Oh, I forgot to mention, allergy season here is the worst. Well, what time is it, what do we have next? OHMYGOD! It's almost lunch time! Run back to your rooms guys and grab all the bags you can! This is the most important thing you'll ever learn at college! RUN!"
The group trots off and returns to a pacing orientation leader.
Guy: "Ok, now the rules are this: Lenoir is an all you can eat, buffet style dining hall."
The orientation leader takes them into the dining hall, explaining all the food there is with an almost carnal longing in his eyes. He stops at the cashier, and greets her.
Guy: "Hi Beatrice. I've got a group today."
Beatrice: "That's what you said the last time and it was a bunch of pregnant women from off the street and not a Lamaze group from the UNC hospitals!"
Guy: "Hey, they said they needed chocolate! I was just trying to be nice!"
Beatrice grabs him by the collar and he wriggles out of her grip, yelling, "Help! Help! Get off of me, lady, I've never seen you before! Geez, kids, this town's getting too rough for me. They need to stop hiring crazy people here."
The orientation leader lectures the kids on the importance of eating, while gulping down black coffee: "Remember, kids, you need to eat a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And possibly have two of each meals if necessary. You'll need the energy to stay up all night long...for studying of course! Heh heh heh. Ok, so have you guys got all your food? [yessss] Alright, now, get some paper napkins and wrap them up and place them like so into your bags. This is very important, now walk around, and take as much fruit and cookies as you can, and then when you come back here you can go get a tray and eat your lunch."
A Lenoir worker spots all the kids grabbing as much food as they can, and then notices the guy trying to stuff an entire pizza pie down his shirt: "HEY! What do you think you're doing, Whitfield?!"
Guy: "SHIT! Run kids, RUN!"
When they're all outside, the guy runs around and does a headcount. "Ok, good, we've got everyone. Well, I'm afraid that's all I can teach you, I look forward to seeing you all in the fall [pulls out newspapers from the trash and starts lying down on the bricks, covering himself up with the papers], but remember kids, if I don't speak to you, it's nothing personal. I just have a reputation to keep up!"


So in light of my monetary positional absence (flat broke), I applied for Tarheel Temps, the ARC, and a ton of other jobs in clinical research in the RDU area. Now all I have to do is try to find a stupid place to live.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Commencement Speaker


Graduation day out on the football field at UNC-Chapel Hill. The speaker walks out wearing a black cap and gown, shakes hands with the University officials and then waits for everyone to take their seats.

Speaker: Well, good morning boys and girls. I trust all of you slept well last night. I myself slept astoundingly well despite the fact that I had a speech to give today and I hadn't even written anything by the time 10PM arrived. So my gift to you is not a speech that all of you will write off years to come from now and say at reunions, "I can't understand why we paid that guy to flap his jaws for an hour and a half under the burning hot sun," but instead a speech that will make you say, "that guy's as clear as Carolina Blue"
Students begin cheering and clapping.
Speaker: Shut up, I'm not done yet. Anyway, the big question is, what to do after you graduate. That's a pretty tough question. I asked myself that many, many, many times when I was up all night studying for Biology tests and idiotic classes that would have no impact on my life and future career. "Well," I said to myself, "If I could figure out a way to extort people for money, and go live in Argentina after that was over, then I'd be set." But alas, I was surrounded by goody two shoes who had no leverage for me to use to extort them. I first started off overseeing a chemical plant, but that fell through. And by fell through, I mean I literally fell through the ceiling and into the processing section where chemicals were being manufactured. I was let go soon after that, but I had a fiery determination. I was going to succeed in life no matter what. After the chemical debacle, I bounced around for a bit going from job to job. I worked as a Chippendale's dancer when the times got tough, because as that old saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough start to take off their clothes. Soon after, I got a job working for the New York Times. They never explicitly told me what my job was but for the longest time I could remember, I got to cover explosions. A typical day would read something like this: "They say there's a fire consuming the Brill Building and that it could collapse any minute!...Send Newell out to cover it!"
And so I would cover it. I covered them all, explosions, fires, homicidal maniacs on the loose, the dangers of lead paint in bagels. And at the end of it all, my leading editor would read what I'd written and say to me with a fatherly smile, "I'm kind of surprised you survived that coverage, Newell!" I admit myself that work took a toll on me.
I soon developed the habit of carrying a fireman's ax and extinguisher around with me, and I constantly wore kevlar. People called me paranoid, and a fool. But I was completely vindicated once the New York Times building went up in flames. I went around breaking down doors, carrying people outside, and was deemed a hero by the media. Even my old boss had to accede my heroism. He actually gave me a type writer and an office that wasn't doubling as a broom closet.
But the limelight was not for me. I soon quit my job to work on a musical for Broadway which would debut there and at the West End. My musical opened, and I was suddenly offered more jobs than I could shake a five-limbed branch at. I took some time off; I deserved it.
I sailed to the tropics, somewhere in the vicinity of the Leeward Islands. There I discovered the fountain of youth. I drank from it. Not because I wanted eternal youth, but because I could only imagine the amount of money I could win by betting people how much hot sauce I could drink at the next dinner party I went to. The water revitalized my stomach and entire body, and the amount of money I won was staggering.
By this time, I was 25 and I'd done more in my life than I care to repeat. I had enough money to retire and become a philanthropist. My main work was at my alma mater, though I'm not sure why Human Rights organizations sent me there. I was handed a massive sign and walked around the entire campus with the thing, shouting out to people. In all honesty, I thought the Human rights campaign was a little bit biased. What about the human lefts? So I decided to start a new slogan. A typical day went by with the following exchange between me and the masses: "You there! Do you support Human rights? Picture this: if the human rights were to meet the human lefts, what would we have? Peace, prosperity, and ambidexterity!"
I was removed rather abruptly and was told to get serious about this sort of thing. So I did. I dressed all in black and attempted to look the most miserable I've ever looked in my entire life. If this was serious, I said to myself, then it bites.
So I began to become rather light hearted in nature. As a matter of fact, I was so light hearted, that I started floating up one day and had to shout out to people who were rapidly becoming specks on terra firma, "You there! Tell me something depressing!" Life was beginning to get interesting for me.
I walked the straight and narrow, when I got tired of that, I walked the crooked and wide. When I got tired of the crooked and wide, I walked the up and over. The up and over wasn't really for me though. You look ridiculous attempting to walk the up and over down the street and it's impossible to do if you're in a suit.
I'd literally been through all walks of life, people, and it was something else. However, at the end I felt jaded. My life was in black and white, so to speak, and it needed music to bring the color back. I started a band; we toured the universe and elsewhere. It was the cat's pajamas as those crazy kids say today with their leet speak.
And at the end of the tour, the band stopped at the University of North Carolina for its last show. I went and looked around, admired at how everything had changed and the place that started it all for me. It was a catalyst. By enduring the crucible and being baptized in the fits of rage surrounding its incompetency and waste while neglecting the student body and increasing tuition hikes for everyone-
The microphone is cut off and the speaker starts to argue with the University officials. Some agreement is reached, and the speaker steps back up to the podium and continues his speech. "And now a word of advice, kids: when a man offers you a few thousand dollars to retract your statement, take the money and run. But now for the end of my speech. Do not go gentle into that goodnight. Punch the lights out of the goodnight if you have to, and if it's a bad night, go get a baseball bat and defend the wife and kids. Do what you gotta do and say what you gotta say. Oorah! Semper Fi, do or die, hold 'em high at eight and I! [the officials start to pry the speaker away from the podium] Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! I have yet begun to fight! ARGH! [Get off me!] Go forth, be fruitful, and multiply!

Interaction with the other gender of Homo Sapien

During brunch KK made a comment about traveling a lot, to which Lara replied that she'd like to marry someone rich so that she could do the same. KK then responded "Well, there are a lot of rich computer scientists who are lonely," with a grin. This is the scene I can only imagine between Lara and two grad students:

The setting is Sitterson Hall. There are two grad students sporting long hair. One of them is incredibly fat with rather obvious acne. The other is scrawny beyond belief. Lara walks in.
Lara: Hi, I was wondering if you men could help me with my laptop's wireless internet...
Johnson (the fat one): [with lisp] Omigod! Schnyder! It's a female!
Schnyder: [Garth voice from Wayne's World] Oh puh-LEASE Johnson. How can you be sure it's a female?
Johnson: She has long hair!
Schnyder: Johnson, we have long hair.
Johnson: She has protrusions coming from her chest! I've read about those!
Schnyder: Johnson, you've got the same protrusions coming from your chest!
Johnson: Well, what about her voice?
Schnyder: It sounds like yours-
Lara: Uh, well, I just needed someone to-
Schnyder: I'll take this one Johnson. Why hello young lady, perhaps I can be of assistance in your networking needs? I'm fully capable in Windows XP and Linux, but you should really use Linux because-
Johnson: Back off, Schnyder! You got to talk to the last female undergrad!
Schnyder: I hardly consider that talking, Johnson! All she wanted to talk about was the news and not the latest upgrade of Mozilla.
Lara: [to Johnson] Can you help me with my internet?
Johnson: Why of course you cute, young lady. Has anyone told you how your eyes appear to fall in the most glorious array of 450 nm wavelength of electromagnetic radiation?
Lara: Excuse ME?!
Schnyder: No, no, man! You're doing it all wrong! Let me show you! [to Lara] Hey, baby, you got the hots for me! Wanna go to my LAN gaming party that I'm hosting tonight?
Lara slaps Schnyder.
Schnyder: Aaagh! She demonstrated her negative answer through violence and it HURTS!
Johnson: That's because she didn't want to go to your World of Warcraft gaming party because she must know that you're only a level 38 wizard!
Schnyder: So what? I'm really good! I'm certianly better than you with your stupid Night-elf!
Johnson: *gasp* Take that, Schnyder!
Johnson slaps Schnyder
Schnyder: Ow!
Schnyder and Johnson proceed to slap each other.
Schnyder: Bill Gates lover!
Johnson: HTML hacker!
As Johnson and Schnyder continue slapping each other, Lara walks off, disgusted, and mutters "Men!"

The Piano Lounge


Setting: a piano lounge and bar with cool blue lighting. Thin streams of smoke float around the lights around the bar with couples in the dark. The piano is lit up on stage and a performer wearing an obnoxious suit is sipping a martini.
Performer: Yes, thank you, thank you. That was "My Heart is Only for You" sung by me and made famous by Frank Sinatra, of course. You know, I could've got that big break...[smiles]but then I wouldn't be here performing for you [ends sentence wit flourish on the piano]. And now ladies and gentlemen, I believe I'm ready to start taking requests...or any questions if you have them about my illustrious career in fine piano music and smooth crooning...
Audience Member: Uh, yeah. Where'd you get your haircut?
Audience laughs softly
Performer: [bitter smile] Ah, yes, I see we have a comedian here, a...funnyman [pounds discordant chord] Well, my friend, you like making fun of me because of the way I look. May I ask you a question?
Audience Member: [cocky] Sure.
Performer: When you get out of bed and are out of the door, on your way to work, do you ever look at your car, uh, what's your car?
Audience member: It's a champagne Mercedez-Benz
Performer: Yes, well, when you...look at your Mercedes, do you say to yourself, 'Gee, I wonder if my car would look swell with a new license plate number, one that really states who I am?' Uh, what's your plate number?
Audience Member: Oh, it's, uh, J5T-1980.
Performer: Yes, well, do you ever say, 'You know, I think I'm going to make a statement. I think I'm going to get into my beautiful car, and I'm going to drive it and enjoy it, but I need a new license plate number, one that really makes a statement as to who I am. One that people will say that I'm actually living my life to the fullest. One that says whenever I go into a piano bar and park at their lot, uh, what lot did you park in?
Audience Member: Lot D
Performer: Ok, one that says whenever I go to a piano bar and park at Lot D and walk into the bar and sit down, people are going to say, "Hey, you're important! You should be sitting up here, right at the front of the bar so that you can pick on the performer who loves to entertain for people when he could have been just as rich and famous as you but chose not to!"
Audience Member: [uncomfortable] Well, I, no, I mean...I, I'm sorry.
Performer: As you should be, you know [starts intro to 'Strangers in the Night'] it's not easy doing this. Excuse me while I go refresh myself.
Performer walks over to the bartender with his empty martini glass.
Performer: Hi Bob.
Bob: Hi Sean. Another Hendrick's martini?
Performer: Yeah, thanks. I need to have a champagne Mercedes-Benz, license plate J5T-1980, parked in lot D towed.
Bob: Why?
Performer: $20 for you is why. Excuse me, the audience is waiting.
Performer walks back up to the piano with his martini.
Performer: Well, the jazz hour is upon us, how about "Pennies from Heaven?"
Audience murmurs approval
Performer: [singing] A long time ago, a million years B.C. the best things in life were absolutely free, but-
Bob: To the person with a champagne Mercedes in lot D, you're being towed for being double parked.
Audience Member: WHAT?! [Runs to window, sees car being towed] Nonononono! That's my CAR! [Runs out]
Performer: Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think I'll sing for you a different song, one of my own...[sings] I like cake, I love toffee, but revenge is the sweetest dessert to me! AHAHAHAHAHA!


The Vision

My Vision

Last night I had a dream. It was one of those dreams that's so realistic and probable that you can't think of it as a dream anymore; you think of it more as a vision of some sort, either of a past life you've had, what the future will be, or just of something you've done but perhaps you couldn't remember it until you dreamt it. I had one of those, except it was of some ancestor in Wales trying to fend off the English. My point of view was from my ancestor; in a sense, I was him. I have no idea when it supposedly took place, but for some reason everyone spoke perfect modern English. Anywhoo, enough of me talking. Here's my dream.

I was sitting in a clearing with a bunch of smelly, dirty heathens who were all wearing brown furs. Our king, or whatever, was telling us about how we were going to attack the English tomorrow. I remember at this point being a scout, and what weapons I'd seen the English have at their disposal, and so I felt compelled to speak up at this point: "Sir, I hate to be a downer, but all we've got are these oaken staffs with a sharpened end. I saw what the English had. They had longswords and spears and horses and bows." "Why, is our youngest warrior having doubts that the Earthmother and Treefather who provided these mighty spears of oak will not help us against the English?" the king boomed. My voice weakly spoke, "Erm, well, no, not exactly, but I was just trying to be realistic in face of the odds of us getting massa..." and then I was interrupted by the king saying "Then young Newell shall lead us into battle! All hail the mighty warrior Newell!"
Me: "!@#@!"
I didn't sleep well that night, for obvious reasons. I couldn't help but remember the last time the Earthmother an Treefather tried to "help" us. They sent lightning bolts through the woods and set the entire forest ablaze when we prayed to them to make it stop raining so that we could have a fire. I could only imagine how they would help us on the battlefield; hail the size of two fists put together that would indiscriminately strike both sides seemed to be the most probable.
I tried leaving the encampment, but a guard had been placed on watch, and every time they saw me try to leave, they would say, "Have patience, young Newell! It is not yet time to go do battle with the filthy English! We must wait until dawn!"
I racked my brain as I struggled to stay awake. Becoming a shish kebob for the English didn't appeal to me much, and I think even the Earthmother and Treefather would think twice about messing with the English's swords and spears.
I eventually fell asleep and was woken up by the king's grimy face staring at me. I then fully opened my eyes and saw that I was surrounded by all the warriors of the village and they were all completely excited to see that I was awake. "He lives!" cried the king, "Now we can go show those dirty English dogs a thing or two! In one thousand years, we'll have the English under our control and Wales will rule all of the country!" "Um, yes, yes indeed," I muttered. "Perhaps I may run into battle bearing the colors of our village, sir?" I requested. "But of course, Newell. You will go first into battle, bearing our standard!" He handed me a sapling that had green leaves all over it. "Yeswellgoodbyeandgoodluckifyoudontseemy
bodyonthebattlefieldthendontworryaboutme!" I shouted as I ran off and towards the English and away from my village. I soon reached farmland where the English were encamped and ran into their midst shouting "HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME!" A foot soldier grabbed me and said, "What on earth are you doing here? Go back to tending your sheep." "I'm not a shepherd, I'm a warrior from Wales, from the village you're about to destroy." All the soldiers that had gathered around looked at each other, and then back at me, threw their heads back and started roaring with laughter. "And," he cried, spying my sapling, "I bet this is your standard! Hahahaha!" I spluttered, "Erm, well, yes, it is actually" "AHAHAHAHAHAHA!" "And this is" "AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" At this point I had the whole front rolling on the ground with laughter. I had no idea what to do; my plan to surrender first to the English wasn't going nearly as well as I hoped. Mainly because they didn't believe me. I eventually staggered back to the edge of the woods, not knowing where I was going, but hopefully to avoid the battle. "NEWELL! Praise the Earthmother and Treefather, he lives! And look, he is causing the English much pain!" my king cried, pointing to the English who were still laughing their heads off at me. "Hear how he makes them writhe with pain! The battle is ours! ATTACK!"
I was at a complete loss for words as I watched my dirty brethren go running out of the woods with sticks to attack the small English army, who upon seeing a bunch of hairy men carrying sticks, saplings, and logs as shields, began to laugh even harder. "NEWELL! Excellent spell! The English are in further pain! VICTORY IS OURS!" I could hear my king cry. As the warriors from my village began attacking the English, they noticed that their spears began to have no effect whatsoever on the English armor. And the spears broke completely, leaving the warriors to bang the English over the noggin with the staffs. The English were completely flabbergasted, and then decided that they'd had enough. They conked the king over the crown and carried him off. I was hiding in the bushes, until the last of the warriors was captured. "Well, thank goodness that's over. Time to go back to hunting in the fall and winter, and planting in the spring and summer," I told myself. But then I had an idea. I went over to the commander's tent and said, "I'm glad you received my tribute of workers. I'm afraid that they're quite mad, though, and had no idea what to do." The commander briefly looked up after discussing something military with his officers. "So, I take it you're the king who thought it would be amusing to attack my soldiers with branches?" "In short, yes, though I would prefer it if you left my lands. You can go ahead and take the warriors, er, my peasants with you as payment." "And what else would you give us? Wales has tried to drive us English from these lands that are rightfully ours. What else can you do?" "Well," I said, feeling that it would be best if my fellow countrymen didn't find out about this meeting, "I'm a very good scout because of all the hunting I do and how much time I spend in the woods. If you like I can lead your men through the woods to all the villages. I'd like a duchy with a tribute every year for helping you. Oh, and I'll need a stronger god than the Earthmother and Treefather."
"Done!" cried the commander. We then butted heads as a sign of agreement and finality.
About then I woke up. Personally, I can't wait to go to bed tonight to hopefully find out what happened to my ancestors with their duchy and tribute.

Ripping Good Time!


Yes, well now dear boy, you say you want to host a dinner party? Well, then let me sit you down and tell you how it's done, old boy!
Now, the first thing you want to do is to invite the right people. I once hosted an old fogeys party and all the seats in my house were occuppied by gently dozing octogenarians by the time 7 o'clock rolled around. And I say, it was a frightful mess sorting out whose cane was whose.
People like yourself, or people you'd like to get to know better are the right kinds to invite, chappie. Now, for the meal, I have no idea what you'd like to prepare. Whatever you do, make sure it's simple and if you burn it, it can still be considered a meal a la blackened chicken or fish. Now, for drinks, my advice is to not buy the kind of wine that comes in boxes. I've been hearing a lot of odd rumours about it, old boy, and it involves horses. Enough said, hush hush, say no more. Nothing beats anything from the Isle of Jura or my name isn't Lt. Col. J. Algernon Hawthorne! What's that you say? Oh, splendid! You've already got the guest list and the drinks in order! Now what about the meal? Oh, well that should be frightfully good, I say. Just whatever you do, don't mix up the kaopectate with the spice that the recipe requires. They both look alike, you know. I once made that mistake. At least the toilet wasn't used. Oh, leaving soon? The party's tonight? Oh, splendid, splendid! I'll just be dropping by! Hm? Well of course, old boy. I don't attend parties, I crash them! If my name isn't Lieutenant Colonel J. Algernon Hawthorne!

Have a Ripping Good Time Sonnyjim!


Oh! Hello there, old boy! Ripping good to see you again! How's life been for you, chappie? Eh? Last night? Really? Well, m'lad, come and take a seat here and let me inform you on how to have a ripping good dinner party or my name is Lieutenant Colonel J. Algernon Hawthorne!

BEING A GUEST: Now, you said you had a dreadfully dull time, old man, because you were the guest. This is expected. At these sorts of parties, you have to be a good guest in order to have a ripping good time. Let me tell you how to be a guest:
Don't arrive on time, because chances are the host and hostess will still be cooking and panicking. Instead, arrive about 15 minutes late. If they offer you a drink, accept it, but only have one. Make small talk with the other guests or hosts. Try not to belch or flatulate. When the dinner is ready, you should wait until all the ladies are seated. After dinner, you should make a toast to the host and hostess. Afterwards, thank the host and hostess personally and say good night to the guests and leave. Oh? You did that, old boy? Didn't have a good time, eh? Yes, I suppose that is a bit quiet party, hm? Well, there is another way to have fun, here let me explain to you: Arrive 15 minutes early and offer to help in the kitchen. Don't take no for an answer, but storm in there and start trying to help cook. Ask for a drink, then another, and another. Try to drink all of the liquids they have in their house. Turn up the gas on the stove, and try to set the food on fire. When it ignites, calmly step back and tell the host "I start fires, but I don't put them out. Sorry." Step back and watch them frantically work to put out the conflagration. When it's almost out, be overcome with a fit of helpfulness and pour spirits on the food to try and put it out. Watch their faces of dismay as the food is rekindled. After this, the host will probably take you to a chair and somewhat push you into it. He'll probably place an entire decanter in your hands. Thank him tremendously, shouting loudly and with a lisp so that you spray everywhere. He'll run off back to the kitchen. As of this time, the other guests will probably be arriving. Invite them in, and take them directly to the kitchen. Everyone will admire the host and hostess's sooty faces and burned clothing. Explain to the other guests that the host's gas is incredibly flammable. You will most likely be ushered into the living room at this time. Wait until the hosts have left. Then, offer up cheap cigars to all the males and don't bother asking the hosts if smoking is allowed. Cover your face with a damp napkin, YOU don't want to be sick from the stench. When dinner is served, arrive at the dinner table with the decanter in your hand and place it at your seat. Jump into the chair as hard as you can. If it survives, try again. If it breaks, attempt to put it back together, and then just stand for the rest of the dinner. When the food is placed on the table, "trip" and knock all the food off of the table. I did this, old boy, at the last dinner party I went to. Hm, that was about 8 years ago. Anyway, at this point, all the guests and hosts will be at their breaking point. Offer to take them to a restaurant and pay for their dinners. They will accept. At the end of the dinner, make a toast to yourself and force all the other guests and hosts to grudgingly toast you.
I must admit, old boy, that's a bit of tough fun, there, but jolly enjoyable if you're in the mood. What's that? You want to hold a party of your own? Well, I'll motion for the garcon. This requires another G&T and more time.

Herman the Monster


It's been two days since I've shaved. It's been at least two weeks since I've bathed proper. I sigh and put on more cover scent and douse my dad in it. It's 0530 and we've both gotten 5 hours of sleep. We put grease paint on our faces and put pine needles and the like in our covers. I crack open canned food and we eat in silence. We don't need to speak to each other; we do all our communication through our eyes.
After cold breakfast, I check my ammunition for my Remington 700 and make sure the action's clear and smooth. The scope's tight and nothing's loose. My dad does the same for his Remington 870 pump. We both look at each other. We're both golden and ready to kill. I pull out the topo map and engineer's compass and shoot an LOP from the top of a tree and call down the magnetic bearings to my dad. So far we're right on track to find Herman. As soon as I shimmy down the tree, my old wound starts to burn, and I know that Herman's close. I grit my teeth and wait for the pain to pass, and flashback to the memory of when I got the hideous scar on my leg...
I was a young lad of no more than 17 years when I first when deer hunting. I called in a deer with my grunt tube, and knew that it had to be big by the sound it was making. I'd been stalking this deer for at least a week. Its tracks were as long as the length of two hands and as wide as my balled fists put together. I knew that I had something big on my hands. I remember that morning. Saying goodbye to my mom and patting the dogs on their heads, and heading off out into the field. It was a hard hump that day, at least 12 miles uphill, but at the end of it, I could see from practically all directions, and I knew that the deer was in the area. I sprayed doe estrus on a leaf near my head, as I waited for the buck to smell it and come running in. The buck started to circle around to make sure it was a doe in heat. I hardened my heart and waited for the buck to come into sight. I knew something was wrong, when it started to knock down trees. I slipped off the safety, and used my binoculars to try and spot it. But when I saw it, it was too late. It plowed through my thicket where I'd been stationed and upon discovering that I was not a bodacious doe, it proceeded to gore me in my leg with its razor sharp antlers. My weapon's strap was torn by the antlers and knocked out of my hand ten feet away, useless. I then reached around for my gear and yanked my Benchmade Bowie out of its sheath and tried to take the buck down to do the critter in. That's when I was able to realize the size of it. Standing two meters tall and weighing at least 200 kilograms, it lowered its head and tried to give me a final stab with its antlers. I let out my battle cry, sidestepped, and cleaved off one of its antlers, then tried to circle back around to get a good stab at its jugular or femoral. Upon feeling its missing antler, the buck started backing away slowly, step by step, hoof by hoof. I dove for my weapon and took aim. The buck plowed through me for a final time and ran off down the hill screaming its victory cry that sounded something like this: "HUUURK! HUUURK! HUUUUURMMMM!" After a damage assessment to my gear, I humped back down the hill and went back home. The buck had broken every single bone in my body, including my stapes, malleus, and incus. But I became determined that I would be back to get the other antler and to put down the evil buck that had destroyed my leg.

I snap out of the memory. I need to stay alert and keep my eyes focused and relaxed for any type of movement I see. A daydreaming hunter soon becomes a dead hunter. I motion for my dad to walk point. He snaps the safety off of the shotgun, crouches, and slinks forward. I don't hear anything, so I keep the electrical tape on my barrel and the telescope sight covers on. We'd know if Herman was nearby. My dad raises his hand. I freeze. I sidle up to him and crouch. He's found Herman's scat, a pile that's three feet high and as wide as a tire. It's still steaming. I take off the telescope lenses covers and slip the safety off. I pull the bowie out of my gear and clip it to the pack's shoulder straps, allowing me to reach over with my right hand and grab it out of the sheath if the ammo runs low or my weapon fails me. My dad gets back on point, this time dousing himself in cover scent. I pause and slide back the bolt and make sure my ammo's dirt free. The bullets are snug in their casings. It took me a while, but I made the bullets out of the antler I'd hacked off of Herman. He was going to know what it felt like to be pierced with his own antler. He'd get a taste of his own medicine. I start back again, trailing behind my dad. My dad pauses and drops to the deck. I immediately shadow his movements. He points to his ear. I hear it too. It's a trap-trap-pause-trap-trap-pause sound. I shake my head. It's not Herman, it might be a squirrel, or even another deer, but it's not the mighty Herman. I decide now's a good time to take bearings. I check the map, and compass. I can't get a good idea of where we are, and end up with an estimate of the area we're in. I shrug. That's just the way it is in the woods. Distance has little meaning.
I fold the map up and put it away with the compass. We're approximately 3 clicks from the saddle where I saw Herman about a month ago. I motion for my dad to make sure his action's clear. He silently cycles through a few rounds, smooth as glass. I do the same. Mine's clear too. We both reload. I bang the weapon against my head. I don't hear any rounds rattling inside the weapon. Good. No spring fatigue in the internal magazine.
I motion for my dad to get behind me. I'm on point now. I walk along, still hearing the squirrels make their distinctive sound. I see them all along our path. Scurrying around the oak trees, eating the acorns, and acting nuts. I see a dark shape up ahead. I dive for the deck and click the telescope all the way out to its magnification. I pray that my .270 bullets will find their mark. I still can't make out the shape, and I'm not sure if it's a spy or a scout of Herman's. I pull out my grunt tube and put it to my lips. "UHHHHH! UHHHH! UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" The shape doesn't move. I motion to my dad. We both circle around silently until it's on our starboard. I motion dad forward and cover him. I slip the safety on, and point the weapon towards the deck when I see my dad enter my rifle scope. He gives me a thumbs up and waves me on. I double time over to his positon. The shape becomes clearer. It's a dead hunter.
My dad and I both glance at each other, and slip our fingers over our triggers. The dead hunter's skeleton is not a pretty sight. Holes pock its head like a wiffle ball, and its sixth and seventh ribs are splayed out. I glance down at its femur. The femur's been cracked open by something, and the marrows gone. I glance at the eye orbits wondering what they could tell me. I notice the skeleton pointing with his left index finger towards something. I nudge my dad. He understands The finger's pointing to some small trail, trodded and trampled down by something big. It would have to be about 200 Kg and about eight feet tall to make those deep tracks and stride marks. I look back at the skeleton. He was obviously a non hacker who didn't know how to track Herman. His gear is strewn all about him, like he was trying to grab his knife or ammo for his weapon. I have no pity for him anymore. This isn't some typical deer hunt; this is war and this man completely lost. I go through his pack, a flimsy day pack, and realize this person didn't bring enough water or food to be this deep in the woods. I glance at his ammo. .300 Winchester Ultra Magnum. I look at his weapon. It weights all of 3 kilograms and is quite content to rust, having spoken its last lead filled breath a while back. I shake my head. I can't understand why this person would have carried this powerful weapon out here: it's too light to be accurate with that caliber. The muzzle climb and recoil alone would have thrown his bullets every which way past 50 meters. It's no good.
A massive roar breaks my concentration, and I double time it down the trail that Herman made. I won't be wounded again.
My dad follows. The trees are collage of green, red, orange, brown, and the gray bark. I stop and drop to the deck when I get outside of Herman's lair. My dad pads up to me, and does the same. My leg is burning, like the wound is fresh. I lick my lips and take my grunt tube up to my mouth. "UHHHHH! UHHH! UH! UH! UH!" I make the mighty sound of the territorial buck challenging the dominant buck. Will Herman take the bait?
He does. Herman steps out of his bed, the ground shaking with each hoof touching the packed earth. "HUURK! HUURK! HUUURRMMMMM!" Herman doesn't like young bucks challenging his territory. But it's too bad, because I don't like Herman. He's out of my range, even though there's no wind. You can't miss a shot on a buck like Herman. If you do, you'll end up like that poor sap who didn't know his rear from his elbow when he was hunting this deer. He must've made every mistake that a hardened hunter could point out. Hell, he probably even used his loaded gun as a crutch. My dad cycles out the 000 buckshot and puts the rifled choketube in his barrel. He screws it on tight, and slips the rifled 12 gauge slugs, 3 1/2 inches into his pump. We both look at each other. This won't be a close fight and we know it. Simultaneously, we slip off our safeties, and put our fingers on the trigger. Herman comes within range. A breeze springs up. I turn the windage three clicks to compensate. He steps closer. I tell my pounding heart to shut up; it's going to get me killed. I squeeze the trigger, and let out my breath. POW! My bullet is too high and doesn't hit any vital organs. It's T&T. Through and through. Herman's on the move trying to find the hunter, while I'm on the move chambering another round. I put more brush in my dad's cover and send him out for a left flank. I lay down a base of fire. POW! POW! POW! All of them striking Herman's manubrium and corpus sterni. Herman's rather angry at this point and is intent on double timing up the hill and towards my position. I've only got 16 more rounds left. Enough to spill blood. Enough to kill. My dad then pours out a volley on his pump. BANG!BANG!BANG!BANG!BANG! Herman has the wind knocked out of him and slumps down. Herman looks at me. I look at Herman. We both charge at the same time. I grab my weapon and put the final round in the mag into Herman's heart. I know it's hit vitals this time. Herman pauses, looks down at the new wound I've given him, and chuckles. Fear slashes at my face. I reach for my extra ammo down in my webbing, but Herman gets to me before I can put in the rounds. He hooks me with his remaining antler and places me in a tree, rubbing it in my face by scoring a fresh cut on my old wound. My weapon's still in my hands but useless without my webbing and ammo, torn from me and put four meters away. I grab my bowie and try to get out of the tree Herman's put me in. Herman sees this, and rounds off to face me. Herman gives his evil "HURK! HURK! HURRMM!" and I give my battlecry of "AAAAAAAAAAA!" and we proceed to dance. I slide for his legs, thick as saplings, and cut the tendons so that he crumples down like a sack of grain. Herman chuckles again. The Romans may have used sponges to wipe their butts, but Herman uses hunters like me. He flips over and tries to spear me with his antler. I use my boots to try and position his head away from me and twist around to his vitals. Herman flicks me away with his antler, but not before slashing my femoral. As I go flying, I slash my bowie at his quarters. The spray tells me I've gotten his femoral too. We both lay there, bleeding, looking at each other, agreeing that we're both hardcore and there's no one else we would have wanted to have killed us. My dad double times it down to where I am, and chambers a new shell into his pump. BANG! Herman is no more. I grab the webbing and strip the pouches, making a jury-rigged tourniquet out of it on my thigh. I look at my dad and smile. He smiles back. I hobble over to the carcass of a proud and mighty beast and take my final trophy. His last antler. My dad offers to carry me. I accept, even though he and I know that I'd hump over hill and dale my two hands if I'd have to. It's my last reward for getting my revenge. As my dad carries me back over the saddle, and through the trail. I can't help but start laughing and smile. I'm finally going to be able to shave and shower now.

The Art Critic Attends the Debut

This is the second part to the piece about the Art Critic who turned out to be an alcoholic pervert. Here he attends the art debut for the wine and cheese.


I nervously straighten my bowtie and coattails. I can't help but feel a sense of accomplishment that we were able to buy Stein's piece "Sticks and Stones May Break my Bones, but Chains and Whips Excite Me," and the abstract from the other fellow. I smile and greet our patrons as they enter the gallery and observe the pieces that we have displayed. Keinter chose most of the other ones where we didn't feel a need to consult that genius of a man, Professor Van Der Haagen. I must say that I am rather disappointed with Keinter's choice. They're all pieces that are from the Dutch Renaissance style of art. I have heard the professor say it many times before, and I still agree with him: "Those damn Dutch painters should've just invented the camera! It would have made their paintings that much better! Talent? No! They didn't have any talent! Causing a complete revision in the way subjects were painted? Who the hell cares? Not me!" After all, the paintings are too realistic looking to be taken seriously. Who on earth wants to look at realistic portraits of people?
I notice that the cheese is out of place. I straighten the gouda, roquefort, gorgonzola, and brie on the glass plates that we have at the reception. I then decide that it's best for us to bring out the plates of garlic and meat in order to compliment the appetizing aroma of all the cheeses. All of the patrons look very nice in black tie. The sight of the black clad women with wine in hand and the men with their tuxedos and whisky warms my heart and reminds me of a murder of crows feasting on carrion.
And then! He is here! The Art Critic! Oh, look at him! And me, a poor pencil pusher who cannot possibly comprehend the demons this man must grapple with to attain the meanings behind the paintings!
"Evening, Dimwit!" He barks at me. I cannot help but swoon at his mighty voice. Several women help me up to my feet and I accept their offer of a whisky to help my poor reeling senses. "Well, Professor Van Der Haagen," a woman asks, "this is quite the interesting showing that's been put together. Dutch Renaissance paintings, a 50's bondage piece, and a dirty dropcloth covering up some type of work. What does this all mean?" "It means," Prof. Van Der Haagen replied, "I need a drink, and I need it now! Dingleberry!" "Dinglebee, sir," I gently remind him. One must not upset a genius when he is working. I pour the gin for him and hand it to him. "That's better!"
Look at him. Amazing is the only word that can come to my mind. I can't help but notice that the Prof. has failed to shave in several days and is missing his cummerbund. And his bowtie. And his tuxedo. As a matter of fact, I am puzzled at what he is wearing, until I realize that it is a long sleeved t-shirt that is made out to look like a tuxedo. Haha! I laugh! The wit of the professor was simply lost on me and my poor unintelligent mind. I sigh; I always underestimate his genius.
The professor goes and grabs some cheese from the table and proceeds to eat it. He's such a trailblazer and a champion for all of us! Especially since there hasn't been an announcement that the reception was ready.
"Watch this, you old broad!" he yells to a handsome woman in her 60's. He proceeds to tilt his head back, close his eyes, and throw the cheese up in the air and into his expecting mouth! "TA DAAAA!" He exclaims! "Now watch this one with two!" I can't help but notice several of the patrons moving uncomfortably away from the professor. I must admit, sometimes I too move uncomfortably away from him, because of how intimidating his intelligence can be. "Who the hell are you, you disgusting old man?" a rather attractive woman asks him. "I'm the one you come home to every night! I'm surprised you don't recognize me honey!" He retorts. She slaps him and it obviously reminds the professor of some long lost thought because he lies on the ground for some time until I help him to his feet. As I touch him, I feel an electrical tingle upon my fingers, a warmth in my chest, and stinging odor in my nostrils. "Dammit, you made me spill my gin all over your chest!" "I am so sorry, sir!" I sputter, "I could get you another one if you wish? Or a whisky? It's quite good, if you care for it." "No, that's alright. I think I'll have some more cheese. Nothing but the best here, eh?" The professor then proceeds to pick up the entire glass platter and sample all of the cheeses. "Mmmarammmmrammmm MMMM! GOOD!" I cannot help but laugh at his approval. And of course at how majestic he looks in his faux tuxedo holding an enormous plate of cheese with his face down in it. All of the board members see it and approve of it too, applauding the professor. He looks changed, as of now. Perhaps he is having a brainstorm as to what the chiaroscuro in one of the paintings of the gallery means. How wonderful, I realize. He is able to change the color of his face at will! See! He is changing from his usual pink to red to purple and for the wonderful finish, blue! I start applauding loudly with a large smile on my face. I knew that we had a genius on our hands, but the fact that we have a color changing genius makes it more majestic to me. He decides to add to the visual spectacle by adding sound to it, and proceeds to drop the glass plate containing all the cheese onto the floor. The wonderful noise it makes! The tinkling of the glass! The slicing hiss of the shards! The gurgling sounds protruding from his mouth! He then decides to mime, in the wonderful Parisian style as can be found on the Rue de Rivoli, by grasping his throat firmly with both hands, one on top of the other and gurgling. The Board and I are esctatic and clapping! "How wonderful" I exclaim, "the professor has decided to add to the gallery by miming in the style of the French for all of us to enjoy!" "I'M NOT MIMING! I'M CHOKING GODDAMMIT! HELP MEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeuuuurrrrrggghhh." And then the professor decides that it is fit for him to end his physical performance in the utmost silence and with the purest color adorning his cheeks: white. We all clap and call for an encore, and then I realize that only myself and the board are still at the gallery, except for Keinter who has run off 5 minutes ago to call for an ambulance because he thought Prof. Van Der Haagen was choking. What utter nonsense. The board and I can distinctly tell the difference between a plebian choking and a physical performance artist, such as the professor, doing his best piece on the sheer joy that can be found by eating a piece of cheese.
Keinter returns and announces, "The ambulance is here. I suggest we tell the police how it happened." I swoon with the realization that the professor has slaved away so much at his art that he has perished so that we may have enjoyed his physical performance.

Three sorrow filled days pass without any meaning in my life. The one true beacon of my life has passed on, merely by his dedication to the arts. I gather with the other board members for the funeral and we discuss his last wonderful performance of the 'cheese loving mime.' We all agree that it was the finest thing we had ever seen in our entire lives, and that if we lived to be 90, we'd never see another thing quite like it. "Perhaps that's best. Van Der Haagen was certainly an idiot. The biggest one I've ever seen. I can't speak for the rest of you, but if I live to be 90, I'll never see an old, perverted alcoholic nincompoop like Van Der Haagen," Keinter comments. I merely sigh and shake my head. Keinter never understands art, nor will he ever be able to. As I leave in my neo-deconstructionist altered car, I can't help but look up into the sky and envision all of the glory of the professor entering the gates of Heaven and speaking to St. Peter: "Well, I'm here, dammit, it certainly took me long enough. Where the hell's the alcohol? That was a long trip and I've still got some cheese in my throat. What do you mean my name's not on the list? I specifically made a reservation with someone here! Let me talk to your manager, you obviously don't know who I am! I'm Professor Van Der Haagen!"


The Art Critic

This piece is just meant to be plain sarcastic and doesn't actually reflect my views on women. I just feel that there are these sort of people floating around keeping awful art around in museums.


God, there he is. Look at him. His bald pate. His glasses. His suit. Everything about him exudes confidence. Even his monocle that he wore and his beard that smelled like an old goat convinces everyone that he is THE art critic for this board. I'll never be as good as him. I can't manage to toss back the endless amounts of gin, cheese, and crackers like he can at gallery debuts. He does it with such a...*sigh* je ne sais pas. He's looking at me, what do I say? Me, a mere pawn on the board, and he. He, a sheer master of his art, a professorship to his name along with several dissertations on many works.
"Good afternoon, sir. It's pleasant this evening, is it not?"
"Hell no it's not! Damn parking police pulled one over on me and gave me a ticket! Don't they know who I am? I'm Prof. Van Der Haagen! I'm not the kind who gets parking tickets at the damn art museum! All I can say is that I better get at least 3 free gins before I drive home!"
As I was saying, he has such a flair for words. He expresses the shy vulnerability of a passionate artist exposing his soul to the world to judge him, saying "Here I am! This is what I am! Look upon it and be not afraid!"
He walks into the room and belts out to the board "Here I am, dammit! Where the hell's the booze!" We all immediately fawn over him. I rush to get the glass and ice for the 50 year aged Strathisla, while Perkins rushes to pull out his chair for him. Somehow we both met in the middle, causing the chair, scotch, and ice to fall to the floor. "What the hell are you idiots doing?" Perkins and I both weep tears of blood and I pour the scotch for him to try and appease the mighty art critic. "Give me more, dammit! I've got to drive home with a parking ticket looming over my head!" I fill the entire glass and watch him drain it in a second. Critiquing art is obviously thirsty work. Especially at 10 in the morning. "Give me another you whelp! I'm Prof. Van Der Haagen!" I oblige, muttering "Of course, sir, of course."
The board convenes and reads their minutes from the last meeting.
The art critic falls asleep, no doubt as a result of taxing his brain upon the meaning of the latest masterpiece we are trying to acquire.
I gently prod him: "Huh? Wha? Oh, it's you, Dingleberry, are they finally about to ask me something?" "Er, it's Dinglebee, sir, and they are about to ask you for your opinion on the latest piece." "Very well. Pour me another full glass of the miraculous liquid and I shall be ready." I give it to him, and he drains it again in a half second. The chair asks the wonderful art critic of his opinon on the latest piece: "Our dear esteemed colleague, Prof. Van Der Haagen, we are questioning this latest piece by the artist Peter Stein. It's called 'Sticks and Stones May Break my Bones, but Chains and Whips Excite Me.' I hear that you are something of an authority on this piece? If so, we, the humble board of this lowly art museum wish to hear your views on this piece, your grace."
"Well, to be quite frank, it deals with the struggles of women and how they enjoy being subjected to humiliation and domination. Obviously the chains are holding down the women in this piece because they are tempermental creatures who do not know how to control their lust and thus must be disciplined by the oiled, muscular slave men brandishing the whips. It's the pure primal instinct that Stein captures in this piece, as much as it captures the twinkle in my eye! Without a doubt, gentlemen, this is the finest piece of art I have ever seen with my own eye!"
"Oh, Bravo! Bravo!" We all cry. This is truly the master in his prime interpreting the complex meanings and subtleties of such a seemingly garish and trashy piece. However, the killjoy, Keinter speaks up, usually out of turn and out of place: "I must protest, chairman Ghent. This piece is pure filth and degrades women to pure sex toys who enjoy being humiliated. I won't have this piece of trash be bought by our patrons' money! It should remain in the adult magazines where it first was!"
We all sigh. I cannot help but weep mercilessly. Keinter is too young and hot blooded and unrefined to understand the difference between unconcievably high art and low art.
Chairman Ghent pauses uncomfortably, clears his throat, and continues, "Prof, we were wondering about your humble opinions on the next piece by Artur Sterling entitled "Nothing" which encompasses the circles upon white canvas?"
The marvelous professor, and we are too lucky to have him, clears his throat and begins: "Yes, gentlemen, I have several opinions on it. It is the most wonderful piece of art that I have ever seen! It's circles show that life begins and then ends and is a continuous circle! We eat, sleep, and drink. And speaking of drink, I need a refill, dammit Dinglebee (pauses as I fill his glass) there *hiccup* that's better. I feel that this masterpiece might show perhaps the very existence of our fabric!" We all are moved to tears upon these last sentences and cannot help but exclaim jubilations of "Hallelujah! JOY!" Keinter does not look too thrilled, and mutters "It looks like some moron put a wet paint can on top of a drop cloth repeatedly." Keinter may know about money, but I am afraid he has no concept of fine art, as our dear professor who is helping himself to his 4th scotch whisky. "And now," Chairman Ghent continues "I am afraid I must have to interrupt, but our patrons want something along the classical lines as well as contemporary. We were able to secure 'The Nightwatch' from the Rijksmuseum for about three months in exchange for a considerable fee and several of our classic pieces. I want to know how you feel about the piece, Prof." "It's nothing but trash! The artist who painted it was obviously going blind since he made the figures in the foreground lit up like a Christmas party and the figures in the back appear to fade away in the darkness! And the costumes that they're in are so silly! They look like they're from the 16th century or something! And for chrissake, there aren't any voluptuous sirens in there flashing their breasts for the observer!" I cannot help but feel that the professor is correct on this matter. I always felt that something was missing from this disappointing piece, and that thing was obviously a vixen showing her chest to the observer's eye. I can tell that all the fellow chairmen feel the same way about it, agreeing that they liked breasts in their classical works. Keinter, foolish as he is, can only put his face into his hands and mutter angrily. "I have never met anyone so misogynistic as you, Van Der Haagen! I am resigning from this board immediately! I am tired of this swindler coming in here and drinking all of the spirits that we have for the debuts and charging an outrageous fee for us to buy disgusting pornography and idyllic babblings of canvas from nobody's, and then refusing to recognize and secure a well-known art piece that would have drawn thousands of visitors to our museum!"
The professor reaches for the bottle of Strathisla this time, and I help lift it up for him in order to aid him downing it. My pinky accidently brushes against first finger and I believe that I felt some of his genius entering into me!
"Well, that'sh your opiniyon!" Prof. Van Der Haagen gently puts it, adding a swaggering slur to give emphasis to his words. "And if you don't like it, then sod off! Now, my fee ish normally $50,000 but I am feeling rather good today. So only $49,000 I charge for you. And you. And you. And you." Obviously the professor felt that the paintings surrounding the office owed him money as he accosted them and demanded fees. Chairman Ghent writes the check and gives it to him, and we all start clapping and hugging tears of joy. I have never felt so happy in my life, except for last week when he advised us to sell all of our Picasso's to him for a pittance. "They're no good, just look at that horrible perspective," he told us. Naturally, he was right and so we obeyed.
I watch him stagger to his car, obviously his mind being affected by studying the pieces so hard, and get in it and drive off. He smashes into my car, taking off the door and the side mirror! I am esctatic by this and swear to myself that I shall never get my car fixed, and that the dent will remind me of the day that Prof. Van Der Haagen saw fit to try kinetic neo-destructionist art with cars with mine being the first!
I merely sigh and can only imagine the sheer genius that he will show at the pieces' debut!

Gentlemen's Club 3

Alright, so I drive over to the place where the fight between Kevin and me is supposed to happen. I have no idea if the equipment was supposed to be provided or not, so I bought actual boxing shorts and borrowed gloves from a friend of mine. As I walk into the place, I think to myself that Rich’s Gym looks more like a run down saloon than an actual place to work out. As soon as I open the door, a hush goes across the room, and the bartender’s hand slips. A bookie wearing a banker’s visor is continuing to take up bets and his cigar drops out of his mouth when he sees me. I walk over and get a better view of the crowd. I realize that I can’t see a single one who’s under the age of 65.

“What’s with all this smoke, people?” I shout. “Haven’t you heard of the smoking ordinance that makes bars in this area smoke free?”

The bartender looks up and says with a scowl, “Young man, this bar will remain smoke-friendly as long as I stand for it! [collapses on floor] MY KNEE! OW!”

Me: “Has anyone seen Kevin? Or Bob or Dan?”

Three shadowy figures in the corner slowly rise to their feet. Kevin is in the center and calls out to me, “Ah, so the young lily-livered snake in the grass comes to see me! Bulked up your courage have you? Well, you better watch yourself out on that ring sonny, or it’s my fist you’ll be meeting!”

He, Bob, and Dan join in for a chorus of raspy laughs.

Me: “Listen, old man, you better @#@$!#%* or I’ll kick the ##%%#!”
Kevin: [clutching his heart] “Oh my Lord! I haven’t heard words like that since I’ve been in the Navy!”

Me: “I thought you were trying to trash talk me.”

Kevin: “I was young man! But that was uncalled for. Why in my day, when we wanted to give each other a trash talking, we’d wait turns like gentlemen and remind each other when we’d already used an insult!”

Me: “Kevin, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Kevin, Bob, Dan: “Hmph! Kids!”

Me: “Anyway, are you fellas ready to get this thing started? Where are the locker rooms?”

Kevin: “They’re just in the back, to the left and you’re at the end.”

I walk off and enter the locker room. It reminds me somewhat of a pamphlet I received with my apartment that showed pictures of dangerous mold growing in various places…as matter of fact, even the mirror was chipped the exact same way in the pamphlet as it was in this locker room. Oh well. I change into my clothes, do crunches, pushups, and flexed arm hangs with the pull up bar towards the front. I feel tight, relaxed, and ready, even though I know I’m going to throw the fight. A knock on the door snaps my attention and I amble over and open it. A 4’ old lady walks in with glasses magnifying her eyes and runs into my stomach. “Oh my,” she cries with a crinkly voice, “a giant!”

Me: “Heh, not quite, what can I do you for?

Her: “Well, young man, I’m Kevin’s wife, Martha. And I just wanted to remind you…”

Me: “Yes, I remember, ma’am. The third round I go down.”

Martha: “Yes, well that’s not all I came here for. I brought you some homemade cookies!”

Me: “Oh, gee, thanks [I eat one] Oh wow, it’s got those peanut butter things inside them!”

Martha: “Yes, that’s how my Kevin likes them. Ooooh, he didn’t mention how handsome or muscular you were!”

And at that moment I realized that my shirt was off, that my shorts were hiking up, and that this lady was looking at me with a slight smile on her face and a twinkle in those milky, rheumy eyes. I could feel my face flush as I jabbered, “Oh, heh heh, yes, well, thank you” and smile with peanut butter chips all over my teeth.

Martha: “Oooh! That smile! You remind me of a young Teddy Roosevelt charging up the San Juan Hill!”

Me: “Excuse me?!”

Martha: “Now, I won’t accept payment of any kind for those cookies…except for perhaps a kiss!”

Me: “Oh, ummm, gee, I…”

Martha: “Well, if you’re going to be shy, then I sure won’t!” and with that she charged over and proceeded to plant a wet one on my two lips. Kevin, Bob, and Dan barged into my room with Kevin crying, “Alright, whippersnapper, it’s time to give you a…MARTHA!” and with that shout I realized that Kevin had seen Martha giving me a wet kiss.

Martha, with a red face turned to Kevin and said, “Kevin, now listen, I can explain…”

Kevin’s face was a brilliant display of colors: first it went from a cream color, then to puce, then to a sickly saffron shade.

Kevin: “No, no. You don’t have to explain. I understand everything that just happened right now. This young hooligan was cavorting with my precious little buttercup!”

Me: “Woah, woah, hold on. There’s no way I’d cavort with your little butterc-WIFE, I mean wife!”

Martha begins to cry.

Kevin: “And now you’ve made her cry! This time, boy, I’m fighting for my honor and hers! When we get to the ring, you can fully expect me to put your bread in the basket and put jam on your buns!”

And with that he slammed the door shut and went out with all the others. I had no idea what just happened in the last minute; it was really all too much. Apart from me being compared to a dead president and then to various foodstuffs, I gave up and shrugged my shoulders. I’d still throw the fight and get the money, and Kevin and Martha would still be together. Everything would be fine, and after the fight, Kevin and I would still be friends. I was sure of it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly plan on Bob and Dan factoring into the picture:

When Kevin got back in the locker room with Bob and Dan, Kevin lit up a stogie and started puffing away. His face was still slightly off color and he had a furnace for eyes.

Bob and Dan started whispering in the corner with each other:

Dan: “Bob, how much money did you put on Kevin for winning the fight?”

Bob: “A fortune! I put down 10 whole dollars!”

Dan: “Yeah, I put down $20. Now that’s a lot of money!”

Bob: “You’re darn tootin’!”

Dan: “And I frankly don’t want to lose that money. I thought Kevin still had it, but boy! Did you see that kid! His shoulders were massive, he had a huge chest, and his arms? Built like pipes!”

Bob: “He kind of looked like Teddy Roosevelt without the glasses, goofy grin, and mustache!”

Dan: “My thoughts exactly, now, whatever happened to those tire weights you had in the trunk of your sedan?”

Bob: “You mean we…?”

Dan: “The odds for this match are 1:150 for Kevin. Do you realize how much money we could make if we gave Kevin a little help?”

Bob: “Alright, I’ll go get the weights.”

Kevin notices that Bob’s leaving and says to Dan, “Where’s he going?”

Bob: “He’s just going to get a pick-me-up for you. Now Kevin, how’s your right hook?”

Kevin: “Strong as ever!”

Dan: “Alright, good, good…[smiles] Say, don’t you think you should quit smoking?”

Kevin: “I’ll quit when I’m good and ready! Smoking never did me any harm at all! Why I have half a m-“

Dan: “I mean the match is about to start! Now here’s Bob, let’s get your gloves on.”

Kevin: “Oh, alright, ok. [puts on gloves] Jiminy Hopscotch! These things are heavier than I remember!”

Dan and Bob: “Oh, um, uhhh”

Kevin: “The better to pummel that rapscallion with, I guess, eh boys? Alright, let’s go and put the gravy on the giblets!”

I mosey on over to the ring wearing a robe and get weighed in by some old timers. “175!” hawks one of them. “Alright, time to get Kevin up here!”

Kevin approaches the scales, casts off his robes and reveals all his droopy glory: “88 pounds!” “88 pounds of teaching from the school of hard knocks!”

I have to laugh into my glove.

As we get into the ring, I take in the seats. All of them are filled with old men holding betting receipts and sporting bifocals.

The referee gets up into the ring and runs into me and then Kevin. I quickly realize that he can’t see once he grabs us by the ears, leads us to the middle of the ring and tries to get me and Kevin to shake hands by lifting my foot up on Kevin’s chest.

Kevin: “Hm, things sure have changed. In my day we used to shake hands like gentlemen before we attempted to pummel the life out of one another.”

Me: “I don’t think this guy can see.”

Kevin: “Well, I can see that you leatherneck!”

Referee: [beckons us closer and mumbles] Ahum awhoo flubba hah, hmm? [turns to the crowd, shouts] HIGHT!”

Me: “Excuse me, sir, I couldn’t understand what you were saying. Don’t we get rules for boxing or something? I’m new at this and-“

And at that moment, I felt something explode into my jaw as Kevin connected with his right leather glove. I get up, more than a little dazed, and stare at Kevin with wide eyes.

Kevin does nothing but grin like an imp and yell, “Hah! You done messed around with my woman and now I’m going to mess around with your face!”

I mutter to myself while putting up my gloves: “I think that’s the gayest thing I’ve ever heard.”

The rest of the round is spent with me running circles around Kevin while the crowd yells advice to me: “The ol’ one-two! Give ‘em the ol’ one-two!” “Those shorts are too long! You’re going to trip!” “Someone untangle the referee from the ropes!”

As I dodge Kevin’s fists, the bell rings and I go over to my corner. I drink my water and watch Kevin drink a pint of dark beer. I sigh as I watch the referee bounce from rope to rope and corner to corner with all the expediency of a Seeing Eye dog that happens to be blind until he manages to find the bell. The bell rings.

I rise from my stool, and feel my jaw for the first time as it slowly swells. I move to the center and wait for the bell to ring again. Kevin’s a half second late after the bell, and I point this out to him by swiping him with my glove.

Kevin: “Hey! You’re fighting dirty!”

Me: “No I’m not! The bell just rang!”

Kevin: “No it didn’t! I didn’t hear it! Let’s just stand and wait until it rings again, then I’ll know for certain that it’s time to fight.”

Me: “Alright, sure, whatever.”

Kevin and I stand there, shuffling our feet, and looking around.

Kevin: “I’ve got to hand it to you, son. You’re a pretty good boxer. I know we didn’t have the opportunity earlier but I want to shake your hand.”

Me: “Oh, well, I’m kind of touched, Kevin [I take off my glove and go over to Kevin] I’ve got to say-“

Kevin gives me a right hook and sends me to the mat.

Kevin: “Hah! You think I’d let you off that easy? You were trying to find a new baby with my wife! If you can’t pay the time, then don’t do the crime! Heeheehee!”

Me: “Ugggghhhh”

Kevin goes over and grabs the referee, directing him to the bell and ringing it while I lay there on the mat and watch the ceiling go whizzing by.

Referee: [into mike] “A HOOAH!”

I’m helped off into my locker room and sit down. My brain feels a little fuzzy and someone hands me a bag of ice to put on my swollen jaw. Martha walks into the room and gives me the money in a paper bag.

Me: “Gee, $20. Thanks. That’s about an hour’s worth of work for me that’s free of octogenarians attempting to kill me and swollen jaws.”

Martha: “Now, now young man, it’ll pass.”

Kevin barges in and yells, “Alright, young man! Now do you believe me? MARTHA! What’s he doing this time to you?”

Martha: “Oh, Kevin, he’s not doing anything. He’s too sweet. I was kissing him first that time when you saw us since he complimented me on my dress!”

Kevin: “Oh. Well, you should’ve said something about it. No hard feelings, son.”

And with that, Kevin and Martha strode out the door, but not after something dropped from the gloves Kevin was carrying. I got up and peered at the grayish bar.

Me: “Tire weights? What was he doing with tire weights in his gloves?”

I then realize why his punches packed some much prodigious power.

Me: “Awww! I got gypped!”

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