fiction

My dog is an a-hole.

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My dog has gone Hollywood.

And contrary to what he might think as he stares at himself in the mirror for 45 minutes each morning, it’s not pretty.

I’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old, but in the last few months, I feel like I don’t even know him at all.

It all started a little bit after Christmas. My brother had gotten him a little doggie-sized Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses (that’s him in the picture above.)

Anyway, it actually sat in the box until late January when a friend of mine saw it and said, “Hey, is this for Sparky?”

I hadn’t even thought about it since Christmas, so I pulled it out and put it on him, to see how it looked.

It was pretty cute and I took a few pictures, but thinking that was that, I went to take it off and that son of a bitch bit me!

“Fine! Leave it on! See if I care!”

Well, he did. In fact, the only time he took off that stupid shirt and those asinine sunglasses was when he took a shower. He said he felt naked without it! I tried to remind him that he was just a dog and all dogs are usually naked, but he said those are the gay ones.

“So you were gay until last Christmas?” I asked him. He said he didn’t make the rules, he just stamped them on the ass of every bitch he tapped.

You might think this was all doggie-bluster, but he had the skills to back it up. One night, I caught him in a six-way with a bunch of dogs from the neighborhood. They must have liked his style, because they’re out there right now, as I type this, barking their doggie-whore asses off.

Things got really bad when he ordered that doggie-sized Segway. He’d roll around the neighborhood, smoking a cigar, casting aspersions on all the other naked, male dogs who didn’t have their own scooter to ride around on and had to walk like every other fucking dog in the world besides my goddam dog.

Sorry, I just get a little worked up, thinking about that stupid Segway.

The other day, I was working on my screenplay, “Decadent Cadence”, when I noticed my hard drive wasn’t getting backed up! I looked and saw that shithead had unplugged my goddamn external so he could juice up his ridiculous and unnecessary Segway! He’s a dog! He doesn’t need a Segway!

If something had happened and my computer crashed, I would have lost like six pages of re-writes! Oh boy, I would have given it to him good! I don’t care how many times he bit me, I’d take that goddamn Segway, the ugly Hawaiian shirt, the 1980’s-style Aviators, the fake doggie-cigar! The whole kit and caboodle!

Luckily, it didn’t have to come to that. That seems to be his way: he rides me just about to the limit, but never quite over. Oh man, he sure knows how to push my buttons!

I just want my old, regular dog back. The one who doesn’t wear clothes or rides a Segway or pretends to smoke a cigar. He got along fine without those things before, why would now be any different?

I’ll tell you why: he’s spoiled!

I feel like Charlie Brown in that Peanuts when Snoopy runs away or something. Only my dog hasn’t run away, he’s still here. He just acts like a dick and treats me like shit because he thinks he’s better than everyone now.

You know what, that picture might be confusing. I know it sounds like I said that’s my brother in the picture, but it’s not. That’s actually Sparky, my dog, wearing the outfit that my brother had given him for Christmas. Sorry, Al, for implying that you were my stupid dog!

Come to think of it, my brother wears Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses all the time and he does have a Segway too, so I take back that apology. That’s still not him, but if you look exactly like somebody and have all the same characteristics as them and wear the same stupid shirts, then you probably deserve to be confused with them in somebody’s blog at some point in your life.

I guess your vacation from the real world is over, Alex. Time to grow up and take your lumps.

Anyway, my dog sucks and my brother is pretty bad too. I should give my stupid dog to my brother, they’d probably get along great! They could ride Segways together and smoke cigars and lift up their Aviator sunglasses (that look like the kind people would win on Double Dare) in a seductive manner to check out “the babes” as they go by on their roller blades in their spandex bike shorts.

Come to think of it, who the hell gets somebody’s dog a Christmas present that basically turns their dog into their own little tiny dog-doppelganger? I mean, it’s possible that was his plan all along, right?

He’s always admired Sparky and on several occasions has expressed his desire to have a dog “just like that one day”.

Well, I guess I’ve been played for a fool. I see now, all too late, that I walked right into this little trap.

I have to ask you, though, Spark, were you just an unknowing pawn in all of this, like me, or were you playing along the whole time?

UPDATE: Well, since I wrote this, a lot has happened. I was able to piece the real story together from fragments of email conversations I hacked into between my brother and my former dog. Even when I thought I “knew” what was up, I was still in the dark. It had been Sparky, not my brother, who had masterminded the whole thing.

Well, I hope you two jerks are happy together. I’m gonna leave this up as a warning (albeit a humiliating and soul-crushing one) to all the people out there who might get a seemingly innocent gift from a trusted family member for your dog. Smile and say thank you so much for the lovely sweater or whatever it is, but the second you’re out of their sight, throw that thing out. Because while it might seem adorable at the time, I’d rather have an ugly, naked dog that all the other dogs take for a gay, rather than a fake, two-timing dickweed who thinks he’s better than me.

SECOND UPDATE: I just realized that’s not my dog or my brother in that picture. It’s that guy from the show “Dog the Bounty Hunter” who bears a passing resemblance to them both. If you saw my brother or Sparky, you’d understand my confusion. I’d replace it but now I don’t have any pictures of my brother or my dog–excuse me, my EX-dog around anymore because I threw them all out in anger.

Worst date ever.

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When I first moved to Los Angeles, I didn’t know many people, so in a misguided attempt to help me out, this older woman I had worked with at Connecticut Public Television set me up on a date with her daughter.

Things went off the tracks almost immediately when she resisted meeting me at the restaurant, instead suggesting I actually pick her up. And this was even though she lived on the west side and I lived in Hollywood. For the non-Angelenos, that’s about 15 miles and it takes almost sixty minutes in rush hour traffic.

So after driving all that way, waiting in her living room for almost ten minutes with her stupid dog while she “finished getting ready”, we finally left around 8 o’clock.

When we get to Carl’s Jr., she doesn’t even try to pretend she’s not shallow and totally disappointed. “I suppose you expect me to take you to some fancy restaurant, huh? Yeah, sure. I drop thirty bucks on dinner, for what? A peck on the cheek? No thanks.” I didn’t actually say that to her, but believe me, I was thinking it.

I spared her my “letter of intent” speech, because she seemed like the kind who wouldn’t sign it anyway, so I walked up to the front and ordered my meal. I turned around and told her she should order now if she was expecting me to pay.

So she orders a combo meal and I immediately put the brakes on that, explaining that I already ordered chili fries and don’t really want the fries, so she should just order the burger by itself. Then I will scrape the chili off of the fries, take the fries into the bathroom and rinse them off.

Voila! I’ve just saved almost two dollars!

Well, she gets this look on her face like I just punched her grandmother in the crotch, but I ignore her and repeat the order back to the girl at the counter, this time, without the unnecessary extra fries.

I hand her one of the water cups and she tells me that she actually wanted a Diet Coke. So I say, “Hey Princess Diana, you’re getting Sprite!” Again, I didn’t actually say that, but everybody knows that if you put Sprite in a see-thru water cup, nobody can tell that it’s not actually water. Try that with Diet Coke and see what happens.

We sit down with our food and I start scraping all the chili off when she has the nerve to ask me if I’m serious. Here I am, going to all this work so that she can have fries and she’s going to be rude to me?

Well, I showed her. I told her I wanted to eat my chili first before I went and washed off her fries, which I kept just out of her reach. Then, when I was done, I took the fries into the bathroom and ate them all by myself on the toilet.

I didn’t really feel like making small talk anymore, so I snuck out the bathroom window, walked the long way around so I wouldn’t pass any windows and took off in my car.

That was easily the worst date I had ever gone on.

The Winning Spirit.

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“If I had to pick just one value that my father instilled in me, above all else, it would be the winning spirit that this country was built upon and continues to make it the greatest nation in the whole world, to this very day.

In a variation on the great philosopher, Yoda’s idea of ‘do or do not, there is no try’, my father believes that life is about winning. You win or you lose. There is no tie.

On a different note, one of my most vivid childhood memories is of my dog, Kaya.

Kaya was a samoyed, which is, for those who are unfamiliar, a big fluffy, white dog; akin to a husky.  Samoyeds are sled dogs. Shepherding kinds of dogs. They’re not bred to fight. Consequently, Kaya was not much of a fighter.

One night, he was tied up outside and a strange dog wandered into the yard and he got in a fight with Kaya and my poor sled dog was mauled pretty badly. He didn’t die or anything, but from that point on, he was terrified of sleeping outside at night.

My warmest memories are mostly a series of moments involving my dog and my other great boyhood love: baseball.

My father followed my baseball career with great interest. He would help me prepare for big games, spending hours outside with me, throwing the ball, hitting pop ups, giving me tips on my stance.

In addition to this, he gave me a different kind of motivation.

In the bottom of the final inning, I went to bat. We were behind by 3 runs and there were two batters on base. I hit a home run to tie the game. I was so excited.

That is, until I got home and my father informed me that my punishment for losing (there was no tie, remember) was that Kaya had to sleep outside that night.

No matter how much I pleaded and cried my 9 year old boy tears, he was unmoved. He made it clear that Kaya’s fate rested squarely in my hands, not his. Any discomfort he would suffer that night was a direct result of my own failure and had nothing to do with him.

Moreover, since Kaya had shown himself to be so cowardly in his dust-up with the other dog, he thought it odd that anybody would feel sympathy towards a loser like that.

The worst part was, Kaya slept directly outside my bedroom window, so I had to listen to him whimpering and whining, scratching at the house in an attempt to get in. Basically, terrified out of his mind.

Now, if you think my alcoholic mother would have– Hey, stop it, let go of me!”

My father had had enough and stormed up to the dais to physically remove me from where I had been speaking at the banquet held in honor of his retirement from the Ritz Cracker factory that he had worked at for over 45 years.

Security broke up our little scuffle as I shouted out all sorts of damaging but untrue child molestation accusations.

The car ride home was not a pleasant one. My father just ignored my complaints while my mom just sobbed there, right next to him.

Was I proud of myself for ruining my father’s big day? Not really. But I had warned them that this was what would happen if they kept forcing me to sit in the back seat. I’m a 33 year old man, not a little kid.

It’s not fair. My mom is like 5’7″! I’m 6’5″! I need the extra legroom!

How NOT to buy a laptop computer!

Well, you may have been wondering where I’ve been the past few weeks and boy, do I have a story to tell!

I have been in the market for a laptop computer for a very long time and everyone told me not to waste my money on cheap junk; that I should save up and get the best. Overwhelmingly, I was told that “the best” was an Apple Macintosh Laptop Computer.

If you’ve shopped around, you know how expensive these devices can be.

I hadn’t bought a computer in a while but rather than send away through the mail or line the pockets of some large corporate entity, I would instead patronize a local establishment. I had good luck at a small shop on Victory called Mr. Pickles Computer Sales & Repairs. I should note that this is not associated with the Mr. Pickles chain of sandwich shops, nor the actual vinegar-soaked vegetables. You will see why I wish to make that distinction in a minute.

I had good luck purchasing 1.44 mb floppy disks for my current machine, so I I thought that this was a vendor I could trust.

They told me that the machine I was purchasing was a brand new, top-of-the-line Apple Mac Book Pro 14 inch, so I didn’t mind paying the premium price of over three thousand dollars. I know, I know, that sounds exorbitant, but it’s not entirely unreasonable for the type of hardware I was interested in.

Well, when I got my “brand new” computer home, I unpacked it and this is what I found:

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Pretty unbelievable, huh? It was fairly obvious to me that after using this computer for a good 20-30 minutes, the level of performance I had been promised was definitely lacking. Also, I believe they had not sold me the brand new computer I had been promised, this one seemed to be used.

You can probably understand that I was steamed, so I drove right back and demanded to speak to this Mr. Pickles right away. The employees gave me the runaround for a while, but when they saw I wouldn’t be easily intimidated, the manager came out to talk to me.

He told me that since I had opened the box, any returns would be subject to a 30% restocking fee. This seemed fair to me and really, I just wanted to wash my hands of the whole thing, at that point.

When I brought out the laptop computer, the manager became very agitated and actually accused ME of causing some damage to it! I was incredulous! I tried to keep my cool, but it was very hard as he began to push me and accused me of running some sort of flim-flam operation in some sort of vaguely “ethnic” accent.

I assured him that I was on the level and that, in fact, I felt as if I was the one being flim-flammed, but he would not listen to reason.

At this point, he told me to leave the store and not to come back for at least six weeks while he collected his temper. He then threatened me with bodily harm if he were to see me in his store before the alloted time.

Though I was nervous about it, I stood my ground and told him that I would not be leaving until I had received full renumeration for my defective purchase, minus the 30% restocking fee. His response was to de-pants me, in full view of several customers and employees.

I was shocked to realize that I was without my slacks in mixed company and indeed, some licentious women began to openly disparage the appearance of my penis and testicles. Well, I had just about had enough, so I began to pick up my trousers and leave when the manager assaulted me with some sort of ping pong ball projectile pistol.

He began to pelt me about the breast and face and as luck would have it, one of the ping pong balls struck me in the eye socket, leaving me blind in one eye. After six hours of surgery, doctors were able to restore some of my sight. I can now see dark and light and the loose outline of some shapes.

I still have yet to receive any sort of refund or apology from the management of the Mr. Pickles Computer Store. I don’t really know where to turn. Perhaps there is some sort of consumer reporter on Channel 4 who could do a story on me and all I’ve gone through? My medical bills are pretty high, not to mention the fact that I still don’t have a working laptop computer.

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Ol’ Stanky

Before I moved to Hollywood to be a bigshot record producer, I sold stocks on the Houston Stock Market in Texas. Since oil is the big thing in Texas, my strategy was to try and corner the market on things that were less heavily traded, like oats. It didn’t really work out that well.

Anyway, when I was there, I got a chocolate lab puppy that I named “Ol’ Stanky”, because he bore a strong resemblance to Joan Collins. Back then, it was a timely and hilarious reference, but it hasn’t aged well.

So Ol’ Stanky was my best pal and he moved with me to Los Angeles and was even the ring bearer at my wedding to Linda.

He was a great dog, very mellow and everybody loved him.

When he was about 14 years old, it became hard for him to get around. We took him to the vet, who called us with the grim news that Ol’ Stanky had cancer. It was a pretty aggressive type and had advanced pretty far along, in numerous places in his body. It’s a testament to Ol’ Stanky’s fortitude that he had only recently shown us any signs that he was in pain.

The vet wanted us to bring him back so he could put him out of his misery. At that point, there were only surgical options and to put an old dog through something so complex and involved was cruel, as he probably wouldn’t survive anyway. He told us we could take the day to think it over and spend some time with Ol’ Stanky. I thanked him for his kindness and steeled myself to break the news to Linda.

She was really upset but knew that it was the right thing to do. As we spent the day giving Ol’ Stanky treats and rubbing his ears, just the way he liked us to, I started to think about what lay ahead.

It didn’t seem right that we would just drop him off for the vet to do his business in a cold, sterile backroom of his office. Ol’ Stanky should die here, in his home, with the people he loved.

I left Linda and Ol’ Stanky to run some errands and returned a half hour later with a handgun I purchased from some youths downtown.

As I showed the piece to Linda, she screamed in horror. I tried to calm her down and explain my motives. She began to see that Ol’ Stanky’s life really began with me, so if someone was going to end it, it should be me as well.

We spent some more time with Ol’ Stanky, but he stopped responding to our affection, lost in his own world. It was almost as if he knew it was time.

I picked him up in a blanket and took him down to the basement. I laid him down on his ratty old dog bed that he loved so much and we offered him some final, tearful goodbyes. I petted his muzzle and he licked my hand. Now, I knew it was time too.

I told Linda she didn’t have to stick around for this, but she wanted to be there, for both of us.

I checked the weapon to make sure everything was in order (I had lived in Texas for almost six years, so I was proficient in firearm safety and maintenance) and pulled back the hammer.

I leveled the gun at Ol’ Stanky’s head and gripped the trigger. I pulled tightly and a loud bang went off. Ol’ Stanky let out a yelp of surprise.

Linda opened her eyes and looked at me glaringly, after she surveyed the scene of Ol’ Stanky licking at the tiny wound on his shoulder.

“I guess I flinched at the last second,” I told her, sheepishly.

“Don’t you think this poor animal has suffered enough?” She asked me.

I did, but still… I guess the finality of it all hadn’t really sunken in, like I thought it had. Maybe the surgery wasn’t such a bad option? His bullet wound didn’t seem to be life-threatening.

No. I was being selfish. I had to do what was right. For him.

I pointed the gun at my dog, making sure that where I was aiming would deal a deadly blow. It would be quick, it would be final. He would be at peace.

Another loud bang. Again, Linda’s frustrated and angry voice yelling at me over Ol’ Stanky’s pained cries.

That time, I knew I had flinched. I had nicked the side of his tail and there were little bits of fur still floating through the air.

Well, this went on for another half hour or so. None of my shots seemed to connect with anything important, as Ol’ Stanky kept on ticking. He seemed to match my wife’s exasperation with my ineptitude. I’m pretty sure that if he could talk, he would have joined her in admonishing me.

As it dawned on me that I had only one bullet left, the ridiculousness of my situation started to hit me. I realized this whole “I’m gonna put my own dog to sleep” bullshit had started not out of respect for my beloved pet, but rather as an attempt to show my father that I was, contrary to his opinion, a real man. One who was capable of making important decisions on his own. One who could, so to speak, “pull the trigger”.

Well, looks like Dad was right again!

When I told Linda that I had only one bullet left, she tried to grab the gun from me, because she felt that I was never going to be able to do it. I was determined not to let go, because now I had to show her too. I’d show everyone! Especially my stupid dad!

That’s about the time the gun went off. The bullet ricocheted off the aluminum ladder and bounced back, hitting my wife in the leg. I ran upstairs, grabbed the phone and called 911. I returned to find her putting pressure on the wound.

“What the hell is that for?” she asked, referring to the steak knife in my hand.

“Oh, well, I figured I should finish the job before the ambulance gets here, no?”

“Forget about the fucking dog for a second, I’m bleeding, you asshole!”

It seemed cruel to leave poor Ol’ Stanky sitting there in his bed, totally annoyed with me, as he tried to lick at each of his 16 or 17 minor wounds, but she did seem to be losing a lot of blood.

When the paramedics arrived, they took my wife to the hospital while a police officer questioned me about the events leading up to my wife being shot.

“You shot your own dog?” he asked, increduously.

“Yeah, but he’s fine, he’s downstairs,” I told him.

“Wait a minute, he’s still alive?”

“Yeah, well, I couldn’t quite… um, finish the job?” Boy, this was starting to sound bad.

The cop seemed to think so too, as he handcuffed me to the sink while he went down to the basement to retrieve Ol’ Stanky. When he was done carrying him out to the car, he returned just long enough to pistol whip me into unconsciousness, before taking him to the vet.

The first thing I remember upon waking up in the hospital was seeing Ol’ Stanky, happily wagging his tail on television. A reporter was doing a story about the miracle dog who had come back from the edge of death after an insane monster had accidentally shot out every single one of his cancerous tumors in an aborted attempt to put the dog down.

Look, I know I made some huge mistakes, but I think the fact that my actions are ultimately what saved the dog should be weighed when evaluating my sentence, don’t you?

Apparently, a jury of my peers did not think that, as I am now serving a seven year sentence in a maximum security prison. My ex-wife has sued me for everything I am worth, so when I get out of jail, I will come home to nothing. In fact, I won’t even have a home to come home to.

As for Ol’ Stanky, he’s doing fine. He lives on a farm with the police officer who pistol-whipped me now. He’s had a full recovery and will probably live another 14 years. I wish him well, even though it was his testimony against me that really sealed my fate.

All of this has further cemented the idea that I am not a real man, in my father’s eyes. But he’s wrong and when I get out of here, me and my new friends from the Aryan Brotherhood are going to show him just how wrong he is!

Rosebugs

Our daughter, Xyclops 4, had been missing for over six weeks when the doorbell rang.

It was Christmas morning and we were doing our best to put the past behind us and have a happy holiday.

We always spent the two weeks leading up to New Year’s at our family cabin in upstate New York. My grandfather had hand-crafted it with such meticulous care, that my father said it still looked as good as it did the day he laid the final log, nearly sixty years prior.

My eldest, Lucy, even joked that if it had been the cabin that had gone missing, instead of Xyclops 4, I’d still be out there searching!

Seriously though, the cabin was great and was proving to be just the thing to get us over the earlier difficulties dealing with our loss.

We were about 20 miles from the nearest town, so you can imagine our surprise upon hearing the doorbell ring, that Christmas morning. Who could it be? The cabin didn’t even have a doorbell!

As I opened the door, I saw no one. There were no fresh tracks in the snow, just a large box.

“It must be from Santa!” I jested.

Lucy’s husband, Tommy, bent over the box and read the attached card. “No, it’s from Eric Filipkowski.”

“Oh,” I said, trying to hide my disappointment that it wasn’t from Santa.

Everyone else seemed pretty excited, because Eric was Xyclops 4’s boyfriend. He had been named by the police as the lone suspect in our daughter’s disappearance, but they had to drop the charges due to a lack of evidence. She had vanished without a trace under mysterious circumstances.

“What does it say, Tommy?” asked my no-good brother-in-law, Pete.

Tommy read the card aloud to the family which had gathered around him:

“Dear Anderson Family,

I confess that it was I, Eric Filipkowski, who murdered your beloved daughter, Xyclops 4. When I was done, I took her bones and made this sled for you. I know it doesn’t make up for the loss of a loved one, but I hope it comes close. Please forgive me.

xoxo

Eric.”

We stood there, in shock, as Pete’s son, Elroy, tore into the box.

“Holy shit!” exclaimed Elroy.

“Elroy, language!” scolded his mother, before laying eyes on the sled herself. “Holy shit! That’s a hell of a sled!”

And she was right. It was magnificent. It was probably the best sled any of us had seen. It practically begged to be taken up a big snowy hill.

“Oh, but… we can’t… I mean… it’s our daughter… right?” sputtered my wife.

She raised an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, the sled was made from the bones of our murdered daughter. On the other hand, we had just gotten 2 feet of fresh powder overnight.

Everybody chimed in with their suggestions of what we should do. As the patriarch of the family, I felt it was my duty to hear them out and then weigh in with my decision.

Some people wanted to get to sledding right away, a few thought we should bring the sled into the cops as evidence, along with the note. I guess they harbored some ill will towards Eric and wanted to see him rot in jail.

“Look,” I said, “nobody likes Eric and we’re certainly not glad he murdered Xyclops 4, but the last thing we’re doing is taking this sled to the cops. They’ll destroy it when they run tests on it. We won’t get to go sledding at all. I think we should hold on to the sled. It’s what Xyclops 4 would want.”

Most of the family was satisfied with this answer, but over the protests of the dissenting minority, I continued: “Now look, we all hate that stupid son of a bitch, Eric Filipkowski, we’d all love to see him get raped in some jail cell, but we have to stop being so selfish,” even as I said this, I was imagining speeding down the big hill out back on my new sled, “We need to think about what’s best for Xyclops 4. Being examined and taken apart in some dark police crime lab? Or spending the holidays with a family that loves and appreciates her fine craftmanship?”

They hung their heads.

“I thought so.”

I had silenced my detractors. They knew my decision was not only final, it was just.

“Ted is right,” my wife spoke up, “Christmas is about family. It’s what Xyclops 4 would want. And she would also want her mother to get the first ride! Yoink!”

My wife made a grab for the sled, but I was too quick for her. “Oh no you don’t!” I said, pulling it just out of her reach, I ran for the door, followed eagerly by the rest of my family.

We stayed up on that hill the rest of the morning. The sled rode even better than it looked. It was the best Christmas ever!

Dude, Where’s My Underpants?

When we were kids, my brother and I had this really cute tradition that started when we realized that though every kid in America got a report card detailing how he was doing in school, no adults were being graded on their performance as parents!

We didn’t think that was fair, so we started giving my mom a montly report card, to let her know how she was doing as a mother. We didn’t give one to our father, because, as the household’s chief breadwinner, we felt that would be disrespectful.

Though she may have protested the practice in public, I think that my mom really did appreciate the tips on how she could better herself and indeed did start wearing more makeup around the home, which we felt made her a more professional representative of our family.

Well, as cute as that was back then, I’m almost 33 years old now and what isn’t cute is the FAILING GRADES my mother has been receiving on my monthly reports.

Look, this isn’t brain science. My mom lives 3000 miles away. I’m 33. Her duties aren’t that extensive.

1. Call me every night before (my) bedtime and sing me lullaby’s until I fall asleep. She complains that when I go to bed at 2 or 3, it’s right before the sun rises on the east coast, so she has been slacking off on this one. I guess I can sorta understand that, so I’ll give her a C. No, C-.

2. Buy me vitamins and shampoo and stuff like that. I’ve got plenty of shampoo, though not the kind I like and tell her to buy, because she has to get what’s on sale or use her stupid coupons; it’s the “stuff like that” part where she’s earning her failing grade.

That’s all she has to do!

She doesn’t have to clean my room (though she does have to pay for the maid I have do it for me now), she doesn’t have to make my lunch, I use her Citi card to buy that.

Am I wrong or should this not be super easy?

If you’re reading this, Mom, let me spell it out for you as plainly as possible:

I NEED MORE UNDERWEAR.

People need to wear underpants. I can’t be expected to buy my own. You haven’t sent me any in years.

It’s pathetic.

Ynez keeps asking me if I want her to throw out the ones with holes in them.

HOLES.

This is tantamount to child abuse!

Some days, I’m forced to wear my Simpsons novelty Christmas boxers I got for my 19th birthday! My 19th birthday! That was like 6 years ago!

Half of what I wear on a daily basis was purchased before 9/11. You want to talk about “the day that everything changed?” How about “the day I changed into a new pair of underpants?” That’s what I want to talk about. And I don’t want “that day” to have been in 2003.

Maybe this is coming off as a little harsh, but when it comes to reverse-parenting, just like with regular parenting: you spare the rod, you spoil the child/parent.

And Mom, you are definitely coming off as somewhat of a spoiled brat. So get your act together or I will ship you off to a home.

Top 5 Things Surprising Things About Life…

…That I learned from watching porno as a kid.

When I was a kid, I loved porno. My parents were always away gambling and they’d leave me home alone with “the babysitter”, which was our 19″ Zenith. So, as soon as they were gone, I’d run upstairs and break into my dad’s porno stash.

My therapist says this might be why I’ve never had a successful relationship with a human woman, but I’m pretty sure she was just hitting on me when she said that.

Anyway, here are the 5 most important life lessons that I have figured out about our time spent on this crazy blue ball we call earth.

5. Sometimes, gay guys like to have sex with girls.

It’s true. I know you think, “Oh, gay guys like to have sex with gay guys, that’s what makes them gay!” But watch any porno. Inevitably, you’ll see some dude who is totally gay banging the hell out of some super hot chick. Maybe it’s that gay guys only like to bang super hot porno chicks? Like, they prefer other dudes to regular girls, but if some wicked skinny broad with giant juggs comes along, they’ll make an exception? That must be it.

4. As an addendum to 5, apparently no straight guys like to be in porno (unless they used to be “famous”).

This always seemed weird to me. Why the fuck wouldn’t you want to be in a porno? You get to bang super hot chicks with monster cans! I wanted to be in a porno, I still do. Does this make me gay? Maybe all the straight guys are in gay porno? My dad didn’t have any of those tapes, so I don’t know. These are just the mysteries that contribute to life’s rich tapestry of colours.

3. Contrary to what you see in Hollywood movies, for regular people, the sex act actually consists of 6 seconds of foreplay, followed by 30 minutes of vigorous vag pounding with a semi-flaccid penis before the guy spontaneously pulls his wiener out and shoots white stuff all over the chick’s boobs.

It’s kinda disgusting how the mainstream media can’t be honest about this stuff. You know those sex scenes in “Pretty Woman” are all fake, right? I know! Can you believe it? Even in a movie about hookers! And where was all the violence? Man, that movie sucked! Big time!

2. Sometimes super hot chicks will want to bang you if you are a big, fat, hairy guy with a giant penis.

Like in number 5, I think this is a case of people who normally wouldn’t bang a certain kind of person making an exception for a specific reason. Just like how gay guys will bang a chick if she’s super hot and has huge titties, some super hot chicks with huge titties will bang some big fat guy if he has a monster wang.

1. Don’t ever let someone bury you up to your neck in sand, because if you do, like 20 guys will come over and wack off all over your face and there’s nothing you can do to stop them.

This especially applies if you are a hot Japanese woman. (Or you’re in a terrible band from the 90’s, apparently.)

So that’s pretty much all I know for sure about life. I’ve lived by those rules since I was about 4 years old and they have served me well. My manager at Burger King says I am up for a promotion soon and I might be able to get a computer of my own so I don’t have to watch porn at the library anymore. I hope you found these lessons as enlightening as I have.

Shenanigans!

My family was never into lavish or extravagant celebrations. Though we were well-off, our holidays were, for the most part, modest affairs.

The lone exception was the birthday parties my parents would throw for my brother and I. At least until I was age 9.

I say, “my parents”, but my father’s contribution was mostly just of the monetary variety. My mother was the one who planned and orchestrated the events.

When my brother turned six, he had a party for his whole class at Chuck E. Cheese that I think ended up costing them about three thousand dollars.

When my dad got the bill, he flipped out. He decided he was going to put an end to this glorious tradition, once and for all.

The problem was, I still had my own birthday coming up and I felt it unfair that things weren’t even. I was a crier back then and my girlish tantrums were legendary.

I also figured out that if I recorded these outbursts onto a tape, I could just stick that tape in my boombox, hit the loop button, sneak out the window and sleep soundly in my treehouse while my father raged at an absent me through my barricaded door all night.

So, I got my way. I would have one final, grand birthday party to end all birthday parties. Then everything would be even and the lunacy would end.

As a compromise, my mother decided on a location: Shenanigans!

Shenanigans! was a restaurant in downtown Hartford that her friend’s daughter ran. I liked it because it had curly fries and a trolley car inside the building that you could eat in. I guess my mom’s thinking was that this lady was gonna cut us some sort of deal. So everyone was happy.

She didn’t plan on my bitter resourcefulness, though.

I was allowed to bring ten friends and we could all order whatever we wanted. In order to screw my parents over, I had instructed them all to select only the most expensive items on the menu. I could tell my dad was onto my plan by the sight of the blue vein on his forehead that appeared when ten lobster dinners were served to a bunch of 8 year olds.

I don’t even like lobster. I’m actually allergic to it, but I would do anything to outdo my brother. And I did. By nearly $18,000.

If you’re an astute reader, you’re right now doing the math in your head and thinking, “There’s no way that ten lobster dinners at 1980’s prices can equal 23 grand!” And you’re right!

But ten lobster dinners at 50 dollars each plus $22,500 worth of damage to an antique New York City trolley car can.

It was my birthday and I felt it wasn’t fair that I couldn’t even eat my own dinner. Plus, no matter how I worked the numbers, my parents were still getting off cheap. I kindly excused myself and went to the pay phone, where I pretended to place a call.

I waited til a group of drunken businessmen were within earshot and then I loudly said into the handset that my dad was always saying he was glad the glorious Republic of the Soviet Union had shot down that plane because America sucks and is a piece of shit and plus Ronald Reagan is gay.

Well, this was just a few weeks after the Korean Airlines disaster and I think Reagan had an 85 percent approval rating and their was a general consensus at this time that the country was great and commies were the devil, so these guys got pretty fired up.

“Hey young man, this is America and you shouldn’t think awful thoughts like that.”

“Piss off, dickweed,” I said, “if you’ve got a problem with Russia, take it up with my dad, he loves that place!”

I pointed them in the general direction of my father and grabbed a front row view of the carnage.

So anyways, they kicked my dad’s ass, the place got trashed, eventually the truth came out and I was grounded for a couple weeks.

Inevitably, my brother presented his case that he was the one who had now gotten screwed, so by his calculations, he was owed at least a fifteen thousand dollar birthday party.

Next April, my mother, the great peacemaker, hosted my brother’s compromise $10,000 party at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Him and 3 of his friends got to circle the track in actual NASCAR automobiles.

Obviously, these cars aren’t designed to be driven by 7 year olds, so it was no surprise to me when they all had a massive pileup, 2 kids died and my brother ended up in the hospital bed he would live in the rest of his life.

At this point, my parent’s marriage would be termed ‘strained’ at best. I don’t see what the hubbub was all about, as my brother’s misfortune and our lawsuit against the owners of the track had actually resulted in a tremendous economic windfall for my family.

My father had moved out of the house and was staying with some friends, a few towns over. Towards the end of the summer, he showed up and took me for a drive; just me and him.

He wasn’t the man I was used to seeing. His eyes were wild and his hair unkempt. He didn’t speak at all, until we reached our destination: a turnoff on a scenic byway that went through the woods and past a lake.

It was very remote and secluded. The thought occured to me that he might have brought me there to murder me. He sure as shit would have had the motive.

We sat in silence for a few moments. I tried to scan the car for a gun or some rope, maybe a few cinder blocks, anything to clue me in as to what this was all about.

“Eric, I’m sorry.”

I wasn’t prepared for his remorse.

“I’ve let you down. I’ve let your brother down. I’ve let your mother down. I’ve let everyone down.”

He slouched over til his head hit the steering wheel and he started to sob.

I felt like I should comfort him, tell him that he was being too hard on himself, but I didn’t want to lie.

I was about to suggest some things he had left out of his apology, when he reached into his pocket. Instinctively, I dove for the door, but instead of the revolver I was expecting, he pulled out a card.

It was long and boring, but the gist of it was that I needed to be a man now and stop being so selfish. Our family had gotten carried away in our pursuit of material things and we needed to come together and focus on what really mattered. Which was apparently, “each other.”

I wasn’t really sure what to do after I read it. I looked up at my dad and he looked back at me with a knowing look, as if he thought I was on board for this new attitude or whatever. I figured the truth could only delay my return home, so I nodded back at him.

When we got back, my mother was waiting at the door. She seemed relieved that we both had returned.

“Well, I guess you’ll be going,” I told my dad, hopefully.

“Your father is joining us for dinner tonight, Eric,” my mom informed me.

“As a family,” he said, ever the master of the obvious.

We sat down to the most awkward meal in history. My parents looking at each other over the green beans and mashed potatoes with doey eyes. The only sound, the steady beeping of my comatose brother’s respirator.

Finally, my father spoke.

“Well, Eric and I talked it over and he’s agreed that we’re all going to have to change around here.”

The hell I had!

“Oh honey, that’s great news!” My mom was my greatest ally and protector, so I didn’t want to alienate her. I just smiled back and chewed my overly dry turkey.

“Say, I think someone’s got a birthday coming up! How’s about this year we skip the big parties and just have a nice meal out, anywhere you want!” Ugh. His faux-cheery demeanor was nauseating.

Going out to eat, just me and the family. This was the world’s biggest screw job!

“Anywhere I want?” I asked.

“Yep, just name it.”

My parents went back to their food, leaving me to think it over.

OK, shithead, this is how you want to play it? I’ll be damned if I was gonna let them bilk me out of what was mine. Especially now that we were flying high on my sack-of-potatoes brother’s settlement money.

“How about Pecos Bill Cafe?” I suggested, hopefully.

“Pecos Bill Cafe, it is!” said my dad, triumphant.

My parents smiled at each other.

“What is that, honey? Tex-mex? That sounds like fun,” I could practically see their hearts overflowing with joy. I savored the moment.

“Actually, we’ve already been there,” I informed my mother, wiping my face and placing my napkin carefully on the table beside me.

“Oh really, we have?” my father asked. I could see them both racking their brains.

“Yes, a few years ago, I actually have a menu from there, if you’d like to look it over.”

They thought this was a great idea and I went up to my room to fetch it. I opened the box that I kept my most sacred treasures in and pulled out the guidebook, flipping through the restaurant pages until I had found the right one. I smiled and prepared myself for the great triumph ahead.

I returned to the dining room but had barely rounded the corner when my father saw what I was holding. He stood up and shouted, “NO! Forget it!”

“What?” I said, innocently, “You said anywhere I wanted!”

My mom was confused, she looked around and then she too saw the Fromer’s guide with the giant geodesic spehere on the front.

“Oh Eric, honey, that’s not part of the deal,” she pleaded with me.

“This asshole said anywhere I want. I said Pecos Bill Cafe. You both agreed!”

“No way! Fuck this! I knew that little shithead was lying! He’s never gonna change!” My dad had run over and tried to grab my 1983 Walt Disney World Guidebook, but I held on with all the strength in my little boy heart. He gave up and began tearing at his own hair as my mom rushed to my defense.

“Don’t yell at him like that!”

“You always take these brats’ side! In everything! Goddamit, I hate this fucking family!” My dad had taken the table and overturned it with all the strength of a madman, consumed by rage.

In all the ruckus, nobody had noticed that the beeping of my brother’s machines had ceased. It was only later, when it was too late, that we saw the smashed breathing apparatus underneath the carnage of our turkey dinner.

Well, when he saw what he had done, my dad ran for it. He booked it the hell out of there and we never saw him again.

My mom sorta fell to pieces. My brother had died, my father had left her. I was all she had left.

I moved out a few weeks later. Now that my father’s immense wealth had been bestowed upon me, I didn’t need her anymore.

I didn’t need anyone and I still don’t. I’ve got money. Enough to buy anything I want. I don’t visit Disney World, anymore, I fucking live there. All my dreams have come true and there’s nothing anybody can do to hurt me, ever again.

You hear me, dad? I don’t need you anymore. I can throw my own fucking birthday party now.

The wonderful fruit

You know how when a sex offender moves to a new neighborhood, he has to go around with a cop and tell all the neighbors that he banged some kids? Well, I’m no sex offender, but my shame is on par with theirs.

You see, every time I apply for a job, I have to inform my prospective employer that if they receive any tax exemptions as a charity, I am ineligible to work there.

This is because I was involved in what some would call a scam (U.S. GOV’T V. FILIPKOWSKI, 2004 ), but what I would term a simple misunderstanding or (at worst) a blurring of the lines between fraud and really just wanting to make your dreams come true.

All my life, it has been my deepest desire to visit the Heinz Baked Beans factory in Fremont, Ohio.

I know, it’s weird. You don’t understand it and frankly, you wouldn’t want to understand it, judging by most peoples’ past reactions to my story. So I will save myself a little bit of humiliation.

It’s not some sick thing, I just like baked beans.

MOVING ON!

So before I realized how jaded everyone is, I was operating under the assumption that everybody would like to see a baked bean factory. Maybe they weren’t filled with as much passion as me, but if you asked them, they would say, “Wow, I bet that would be really neat!”

This was probably naive of me.

I started the “Make A Wishh Foundation” in early 2002. I was sitting around my house, on paid leave from my old job because I was so affected by watching 9/11 on TV and I thought that I needed a change. I needed to go out and actively make the world a better place.

I thought if I started something where sick kids could “make a wish” and then I could grant that wish, then that would be spreading hope and love and all that good stuff out into the world, even if just on a small scale.

Obviously, I wasn’t the only person to have this idea, hence the extra ‘h’ on the end of my foundation’s name. Again, I’m naive.

Looking back, the big mistake was thinking that I should be the one to decide what these kids would really wish for and telling them that even though they wanted a pony or a ride on the space shuttle, I had something better for them: a trip to a baked beans factory!

I won’t deny my reasons weren’t entirely unselfish, but like I said, I really thought they would enjoy it too.

So they get to see how baked beans are made, take their mind off of their cancer or whatever, have a nice trip and if I come along and get to live out my own fantasy, what’s the harm?

Well, apparently cancer makes you hate baked beans because none of these kids had a good time and their parents were pretty pissed off. Not as pissed off as me when the whining of these little brats almost ruined the whole tour, but pretty pissed off, nonetheless.

I don’t know how you can look at getting a free trip to a baked beans factory and think that somehow you got “ripped off”. I didn’t tell anyone to cancel their trip to Disney World over it. They made that decision on their own.

Personally, I get the feeling these kids’ cheapass parents were thinking they could save some dough by getting themselves a free vacation instead. WHICH THEY GOT.

You can probably tell I’m still bitter about this, but I have to move forward. If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that you should never help anyone. You should help yourself, first and foremost, because everyone is a bunch of assholes and even sick kids are gonna act like dicks some of the time.

If you can’t be happy and have a good time at a baked beans factory, what’s the point in living, anyway?

While I do believe that, if I had known the legal troubles saying it out loud would have caused me, I probably would have just kept it to myself.