Monday, March 30, 2009

In Which I Clear The Room

When I was growing up, I thought the worst and most embarrassing thing that could ever happen to me was throwing up in class. Having got that one out of the way in the sixth grade, I thought I was in the clear. I mean, I had already called my teacher Mommy (first grade), peed my pants (second grade), had my chair pulled out from underneath me just as I was about to sit (fourth grade), and learned the importance of remembering to put on deodorant (fifth grade).  In my pubescent logic, short of getting a boner while giving a presentation or talking with Miss Grenier (the hot Language Arts teacher with a huge rack), what else could happen?

As it turns out, there was something else.

On the day in question, I woke up to some intestinal grumbling. I was late getting up, so I had no choice but to ignore it. I showered and dressed, wolfed down some Cheerio's, and was out the door. I contained a few more peals of gut-thunder before my father dropped me off at school, and all in all, it was much like any other day in seventh grade.

Halfway through first period geography, I excused myself to the bathroom. I was hoping that whatever conflict was going on with my stomach would resolve itself quickly. I waited quietly in the stall in the empty boy's room, sitting on the cold plastic toilet seat. After a few minutes of silence, it seemed like nothing was going to happen. I buttoned up and washed my hands, and hoped it was all over. I had gym next period, and the last thing I wanted to be doing was laps on the track with a stomach on a hair trigger.

By the start of gym, though, the rumbling had returned. I stalled in the locker room for as long as I could, hoping it would go away as it had before. The pressure did subside, but it felt like something dangerous had lingered behind. I joined the rest of my class, holding my stomach gingerly as the Coach talked about the day's activity. He gruffly told us to separate into groups and do some general fitness exercises... sit-ups, push-ups, chin-ups, vertical jumps, sit-and-reach... pretty much everything that an overweight teenager would fail miserably at.  

I painfully went through all of the required exercises, and the Coach kept track of every one's progress on his clipboard. I always hated the way he looked at me when he would jot down my less-than-average score. My stomach gurgled and groaned the entire time, and I was thankful that the gym was loud enough to cover up the sound. I saved the sit-ups for last, and paired off with my best friend to complete them.

We small-talked our way through his mandatory 30 sit-ups, and by the time it was my turn the period was almost over. The Coach, ever mindful to make sure no one escaped his rule without breaking a sweat, yelled at me to make sure that I "hustled" and did my thirty sit-ups. I groaned inwardly as my stomach groaned outwardly, and laid down on the mat.

Just as I had for him, my friend held down my feet while I grunted through the first ten or so. I could feel my face getting red and the sweat beading down my forehead, but I pushed on with determination. My friend was prattling on about something, and soon I was a mere five sit-ups away from being done when my stomach tensed up. 

I had no time to react, no time to warn my friend, no time to even think about stopping what was going to happen next. The event that I had waited impatiently for in the bathroom twice so far that day was coming to pass, and there was nothing I could do about it.

As I leaned forward to complete the sit-up, I farted. 

It was the fart of my life, a champion fart, a gold-medal winner. It was a five-second foghorn, propelled from my ass with the force of a category five hurricane. My ass cheeks slapped together violently and painfully, the expulsion of air bursting through the cloth of my pants with such ferocity that at first I thought I they had ripped. It echoed in the hard-walled gym, loud enough to make everyone stop what they were doing. Even the unshakable Coach turned his head. My friend, caught off guard by the assault, let go of my feet and fell backwards.

At that moment, with complete and utter silence reigning in the room and all the eyes of my peers focused heavily on me, I noticed the smell. 

Simply put, it was horrible. It made my eyes water and my mouth seethe. It was so bad I could almost taste it. My stomach lurched and somersaulted, and I feared the stench was bad enough that it could be seen, clinging to the air in a noxious, green cloud. 

With my friend no longer holding my feet down, I tumbled over onto my side. At that, the silence in the room broke with laughter, and I got to my feet. Their laughter covered the sound of the aftershock farts that came out then, but they were so minute in comparison to what had just transpired. I looked over to my friend to see him kneeling on the floor, coughing and waving his hand in front of his face. I felt so bad for him, having received that cannonball of methane gas right in the face. My face was hot and red, and just when I thought was going to burst into tears from sheer embarrassment, the bell signaling the end of the period rang. 

I expected the rest of the day to be full of ridicule and pointed fingers, but my gym-class mat-slapping flatulence was back page news compared to the kid who had crapped himself in the gym class just before mine. I felt bad for the other kid, but fortunate that the spotlight had shifted away from me. Junior high is rough enough without something like that on your record.

As one could guess, that monster fart was the source of my ailment earlier in the day. Letting loose the demon made me feel so much better, and I was glad for it.

Even if it cost me any chance I had of a girlfriend until high school. 

Friday, March 27, 2009

In Which I Lock My Doors

Last week, The Boss reminded me of a story that I am surprised I haven't written about here yet. It was one of those things that I've never heard of happening to anyone else, and like a lot of things I experience, it seems it could have only happened to me. 

It happened a couple of summer's ago, while driving home from visiting The Boss at her parents house. I was cruising along the same tired roads I'd covered many times before, with the windows down and the music up. I was on auto-pilot, driving mindlessly and enjoying the warmth, but snapped back to reality when I saw there was a construction zone ahead.

As I eased on the brakes to slow down, I noticed two girls standing on the side of the road. They were probably close to my age, if not a little older, dressed very skimpily, sporting too-small bikini tops and short cut-off denim shorts. As I approached them, they smiled and stuck out their thumbs. They were hitchhiking. 

While this might seem to some like a guy's wet dream, I didn't even consider picking them up. You never know what could happen these days, and I wasn't going to take that risk. I drove past them, not giving it a second thought. Just down the road from them I came to a stop, waiting my turn to drive through the construction zone. 

Suddenly, the door to the backseat opened up, and the two hitch-hooker's climbed in. 

"Thanks, Mister!" one of them said as she buckled herself in. 

"Yeah, thanks! You were the only one to stop all afternoon," the other one chimed in. 

I sat there in shock, not believing what was happening. They continued settling in, and the first one spoke again.

"We're trying to get to Windham. Are you headed in that direction?"

I stumbled over my words for a minute before I managed, "No, I'm headed towards Auburn, but-"

"Oh, that's fine. Just drop us off at the 202/302 rotary," the second one said. "We'll walk the rest of the way from there."

"No, you don't understand," I said at last, turning to face them. "I wasn't stopping to pick you guys up."

They looked back at me, confused. 

"I was stopping because of the construction ahead." I gestured through the windshield. The flagger holding the Stop/Slow sign not far from where I had stopped was looking back at us, eyes wide. 

"Oh," they said in unison. 

A pause.

"So... you're not going to give us a ride?" the first one asked. "You're going to be driving right through the rotary."

"No, I really can't. I'm sorry for the confusion," I said. I didn't truly feel sorry.

"Fine." They sighed in annoyance as they gathered their purses and got out of my car. Just before they slammed the door closed, I heard one of them mutter Bastard under their breath.

With the hitch-hooker's out of the car, I looked up at the construction flagger. He spun the sign around to Slow, and before I put my car in gear to pull away, I locked my doors. The flagger shrugged at me as I drove by, and I shook my head in response. 

I couldn't believe it, and still can't believe it actually happened. I keep my doors locked now when I drive. 

Just in case.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Which I Hurt Myself Sitting Down

As with most people, I am not fond of public bathrooms. I try to use them as infrequently as possible, but sometimes you just can't avoid it. Whether it was the 87 oz. Big Gulp from the gas station or 14 cups of coffee, you never know when the limits of your bladder will be reached. 

In a stroke of genetic luck, men were given the advantage over women when it comes to urinating in public bathrooms. We were given genital features that can be aimed with semi-accurate precision, instead of having to crouch over the toilet and hover. When it comes to the Other Matter, though, the playing field is equal. I try to limit my public bathroom usage to Urine Only, but when you let Nature's Call go to voicemail enough times, you won't know that there truly is an emergency until right before it happens. 

Which is what happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

While out to dinner with The Boss, I felt a roll of thunder pass through my intestines. I had been ignoring the protests from my gut all day, but this colon complaint finally was angry enough to be heard. The message was clear: I needed to get my ass to the bathroom, or I'd risk ruining my favorite pair of jeans, the chair I was sitting on, and the dining experience for everyone in my corner of the restaurant. 

I excused myself and walked tight-cheeked to the bathroom as fast as I could.

Now, by nature, men are disgusting creatures. The horror stories you hear about men's public bathrooms are generally true, but we were at a decently upscale restaurant, and the bathroom wasn't the fecal-fest it would have been elsewhere. The bathroom was empty, so I scanned and selected a stall by making sure it met the all of the important public bathroom criteria:
  1. No unidentifiable (or identifiable) substances on the floor or on any part of the toilet/toilet seat, or in the toilet bowl,
  2. Adequate stock of toilet paper,
  3. Test flush of the toilet verifies there is no clog,
  4. Functioning door lock mechanism.
I entered the stall and locked it behind me. Since I had Business To Do that required a sitting position and the bathroom lacked seat covers, I layered the seat with toilet paper before sitting down. I won't go into any details as to what happened immediately next, but suffice it to say that the Bowel Storm passed through quickly and without any incident. I reached to my left for the toilet paper dispenser, and pulled off about 370 feet of tissue. I leaned to my right, and as I shifted my center of gravity, I slipped. 

I slipped off the toilet seat on the protective layer of toilet paper, and slammed my shoulder into the wall. With my left hand bent behind me and my right hand pinned to my side by the wall, I was stuck. I remained still for a moment, obviously uncomfortable and with the toilet seat giving me a wedgie. I freed my left hand, and tried pulling myself back up. When that didn't work, I tried bouncing myself off the wall. I got a good momentum going, and finally managed to get myself semi-upright... until the toilet seat snapped. 

When the toilet seat gave way, I came crashing down to the floor on my right side. I lay there for a minute, stunned, before getting up from the floor. Keep in mind that this all happened while my ass was hanging out, pants piled around my ankles. I did my best cleaning myself up before flushing and leaving the stall. I took a look back before closing the door, and it was a mess. Not with anything that would require gloves and a strong gag reflex to clean up, but still.

As I was washing my hands, an employee of the restaurant came in. He looked at me, and then peeked into the other stalls. Finding them all empty, he appeared puzzled.

"Was that you making all that noise?" he asked.

"No, some guy was in that second stall there when I came in. I don't know what he was doing, but he left in an awful hurry," I said, now drying my hands and keeping my head down. 

"Huh," he remarked, and scratched his head. "He must have been having a hard time in there. He broke the toilet seat."

"No shit," I said, turning to leave. "Well, I guess that might have been his problem."

The employee chuckled, and closed the stall door. "Maybe so."

I exited the bathroom, and rubbed my shoulder on my way back to the table. When I got back and sat down, The Boss looked at me quizzically.

"Everything okay?" she asked.

"Yes, everything is fine. Just remind me to tell you something funny when we leave."

Monday, March 23, 2009

In Which I Am Grossed Out, Again

The town I live in is pretty small, so it's not surprising that you tend to see the same people at different places throughout town. This generally isn't a big deal as most of the people are friendly enough to smile and nod as you pass, leaving you to continue on in your errands or what have you. I've had no complaints about this thus far, that is until something that happened this past weekend.

Does anyone remember this story?

If not, please click on the link and read it. I'll wait.

.... Are we all caught up? Good.

I've since moved to a neighboring town since the aforementioned incident happened, but I still live close enough to use the same grocery stores and pharmacies. Again, this has caused no major problem for many months, but it seems that all good things come to an end.

This past weekend, I saw Her again.

It was impossible not recognize her. When something that traumatizing happens, its hard for the images to not be permanently etched into ones retina's. It also helped that she was wearing pretty much the same outfit that she had on the first time we met, except she switched out the ratty Tweety Bird t-shirt for a low-cut blouse. This was an unfortunate change of attire, as I now have the image of the acne-constellations that covered her ample chest burned into my mind. 

I happened to run into Her at the grocery store. I saw her as she was coming up the cereal and oatmeal aisle. I tried to duck out of the aisle when I saw who she was, but I wasn't fast enough. Her face lit up in recognition and she lifted her arms out to her sides. The rolls of flabby skin that hung down looked like pillowcases filled with cake mix.

"Hey, you!" she called out. Her wet, raspy voice made my skin crawl.

I turned around, pretending like I hadn't heard her. I tried to will myself invisible as I rounded the corner with my cart. I heard her (and felt, actually) start running behind me with her cart. A squeaky wheel punctuated each quickening step.

"Hey, wait up!" she sang out again. 

I turned around this time, feigning ignorance. I tried to not look her in the eye.

"How're yoo?" she asked, sidling up next to me. She smiled widely, revealing a surprisingly clean pair of teeth... no, wait... a clean quartet of teeth. I guess it must be easier to brush what little teeth you have without all the other teeth getting in the way.

I hesitated, and said, "Do I know you?"

"O'course you know me, silly mayn!  We met at that there lawndreemat 'couple months back. Y'know the place, that Squeeky Cleen?" 

I paused. Of course I remembered her. I was just playing dumb.

"No, I think you've got the wrong person. I've never been to the laundromat in town," I lied, pulling off a better performance than Clinton gave when he denied having relations with Ms Lewinsky. 

"Pshaw! I don'swear it'were you! You look jus' like the guy."

"Oh! You must have seen my twin brother. He often does his laundry there." I bit my tongue to keep from laughing.

"Yeah! It mustave been hiym! Is he your identical twin?" she said as her eyes lit up.

"No, we're fraternal twins."

She blinked a couple of times, and a confused look crept over her face.

"Oh. Welp, you shure do look an awful lot alike," she said, turning back to her cart.

"I know, we hear that a lot." I started pushing my cart away from her, forcing the conversation to an end.

"Well, nex'time you talk with 'im, tell him that Jackie sayes hey," she called back over her shoulder, and she walked away with her cart.

"Will do," I replied, and headed in the opposite direction from her. I hadn't walked two steps before I decided that I'd get the rest of my groceries at a different store.

It was the closest call in the history of close calls, folks. If only you had been there. 

P.S. It takes one special kind of idiot to fall for the lie that I threw at her. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

In Which I Try Something New

Way back when I first started writing here, I mentioned a recurring dream that I had been having. I was having the same dream at least once a week for a couple of months, where I started smoking cigars. Since last May when I wrote about it, the frequency of the dream has dropped down to at least once a month. The fact that I have a recurring dream doesn't bother me, but something about it just sticks with me.

I have never smoked anything in my life. The closest I ever came to smoking was the time I got a cigarette from a kid at school in the seventh grade. I swiped a pack of matches from the cupboard where my parents hid them in the kitchen, and hid out in the woods behind my house. I put the cigarette in my mouth and I had a match in my hand, ready to strike it against the side of the matchbox. I could already smell the sulfur, already see the flare of fire and smoke as it caught. With the cigarette hanging from my mouth and the match just in front of it, I paused. I paused just long enough to realize how much trouble I would be in if I got caught. I dropped the unlit match and the matchbox on the hard packed dirt where I stood, and broke the cigarette in half. And with that, the moment where I had been the closest I have ever been to smoking ended.

Looking back on that moment now, I was smart to not follow through with it. Besides the obvious health risks, my mother had a keen sense of smell and would certainly have picked up on the distinct odor of cigarette smoke on my clothes. I can only imagine the hell that would have brought me had I not chickened out. Right around the same time as that, I snuck into my parents liquor cabinet with intent to try some of their booze. Same as with the cigarette, I stopped just short of actually doing anything for fear of getting caught. Back then, there was nothing scarier than getting in trouble by my parents. All of my nightmares paled in comparison, even the one I had after I saw E.T. for the first time. 

In my mind, sneaking cigarettes and booze is one of things that most kids do in their teen years to rebel from their parents. My parents had their hand on everything I did, especially when they started homeschooling me and my sisters, so I never got a chance to try anything like that again until I was out from under my parents roof and their sometimes smothering grasp, in college. I've had my share of alcohol since then, but I have yet to try smoking. I've had the chance to many times, but every time I would come close, I'd remember that moment in the woods behind my house, with that unfiltered cigarette dangling from my lips like I had seen people do on TV, and stop. I've never had one cigarette or cigar, nor any other smokable substance, in all of my teen or adult years. I feel as if I've missed out on one of those rites of passage of growing up, but it is of my own doing. 

Every time I have that dream where I start smoking cigars, I promise myself that one day soon I will buy a cigar and give it a go. A couple of times I've actually come close to asking the clerk behind the counter at the convenience store for one. As you can probably guess, I've yet to actually follow through. 

I won't follow through because I'll think of my grandfather, my father's dad, and how his habit of smoking cigarettes led to his death more than ten years ago. I'll think of all those posters and commercials I've seen of how many people die from smoking each year. And even as an adult who is responsible for his life decisions, I'll think about how my parents would react. I know that one cigar doesn't mean I'll be addicted for life, but with all those thoughts reeling through my mind like a video cassette on fast forward, I'll change my mind before it's finally my turn to check out at the convenience store counter.

I have missed a lot of opportunities to experience things in my life because I have been too scared to step up and just do them. In high school, I could have gone to France. After high school, I could have gone to an out-of-state college. I could have done countless things that I now regret not doing because I have been too afraid to try something new.

Not any more, though.

I had the dream again last night, the one where I smoke a cigar. When I woke up this morning, I could almost smell the smoke from it in the air. I sat up and swung my feet out of bed, and even in my groggy state of consciousness, before my feet even hit the floor, it was settled in my mind. 

It is one thing that I have always wondered about, always wanted to try, and always been too scared to do. Even though that dream was the same as it ever was, something about it finally struck a chord within me. If I want to smoke a cigar, I'm going to smoke a damn cigar. Simple as that.

To some people, the act of picking up a cigar and smoking it wouldn't be a big deal at all. To me, though, it is. I'm taking charge of my life, even if in this one small way, and doing something I've wanted to do for many years. It is strangely liberating.

Maybe I'll enjoy the cigar, but maybe I won't. Maybe I'll try a different type to see if I like that one better, but maybe I won't. Maybe doing this will open the door to other things I've wanted to do, but maybe it won't. 

We'll see what happens.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

In Which I Give You More

Last week when I posted another segment for the Short Story Thursday series, I promised another update since I forgot February's post. I already had the next part written, and I can't wait to post it any longer. Enjoy!

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five)

---

“Bennett!” Adam growled. “What have you done?” He threw the covers off and sat up.

“It’s not what I have done, Mr. Marshall, it’s what you have done,” Bennett spoke calmly into the phone. Ellen’s screams had been muted, but the sounds of struggle could be heard in the background.

“I haven’t done anything! You’re the criminal!"

“As I’m sure you have seen on the news, that remains to be seen, Mr. Marshall, but that is not the urgent issue at hand.”

Adam swallowed thickly, and set his jaw together. “Go on.”

“It seems that you were witness to something…” Bennett paused, searching for the word, “… unfortunate, a few nights ago. I assume you remember the event of which I speak?”

“I do,” Adam said through his teeth. “You killed Danny Joiner. I saw you.”

“So I did,” Bennett said, his inflection casual as if he had just admitted his guilt of littering. “Your presence at that event puts us in a very awkward position. There are many possible outcomes, many different ways that I can go about resolving this situation. Some of them benefit the both of us, but some of them benefit only me and would very unpleasant for both you and your friend Ellen here.”

“You leave her out of this, Bennett, you hear me? This is between you and I,” Adam said, lowering his voice. “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it. Just let her go.”

“I’ll be the one giving the orders around here,” Bennett said, raising his voice for the first time. “You should consider yourself fortunate that I haven’t made the trip down to your dingy hotel, let myself into to your room, and kill while you slept. Despite what you might have thought, Room 17 at Sleepy Time Suites in outer Portsmouth was not all that hard to find.”

Adam leaned against the headboard of the bed, suddenly out of breath. The efforts he had gone through to keep himself and those he knew safe from Samuel Bennett were quickly unraveling.

Bennett laughed. It was a horrible sound, the very sound of evil enjoying its spoils. “Don’t you worry, Mr. Marshall, my friend,” Bennett said. “My colleagues have detained Ellen as an insurance policy of sorts, to ensure that you cooperate.”

“What do you want?” Adam said, weary.

“We need to meet. Tomorrow night, at the back lot of the shipping facility where we first met. I think it goes without saying that if you go to the police or if we suspect you are armed, Ellen will be killed.”

Adam’s thoughts went to the black case that he had packed before leaving home. He reached for the case now, and opened it. Light from the window glinted off the handle of his .9mm handgun. He picked it up, the weight comfortable in his hand.

“Are we clear, Mr. Marshall?” Bennett spoke firmly.

“Yes.”

“Good. Both your life and Ellen’s life depend on it.”

The phone line went dead.

---

The next installment will be out next month. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In Which iFart

Everyone has heard of the iPhone by now, but have you heard of the popular iPhone application called iFart? It is a small program that lets you dial up various fart sounds of different length and relative wetness. It is a widely popular app, being the number one downloaded application through Apple's AppStore for over three weeks. 

Because of it's popularity, the company that designed iFart is hosting a contest to see who can come up with the best YouTube commercial for it. The grand prize is $5k, with the second and third place being a MacBook and an iPod Touch respectively. 

I've never made a video before, but I thought I'd try my hand at it. With nothing to lose, The Boss and I went down to Boston this past weekend, and got some footage from a couple of different places around town. I spliced everything together, added some sound effects and some music that I wrote, and came up with this:


Part of the contest is judged upon how many views the video gets, what its rating is, and how many comments it gets. If you can, please click here to go to it's YouTube page to rate and comment.

Feel free to pass this along to your family and friends and ask them to do the same! I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

In Which I Am Guilty As Charged

May I have your attention, please? 

In the past couple of weeks I have become aware of some issues presented by members of this household. The complaints are many, but if time permits, I intend to address a majority of them in this meeting today. Shall we get started?

The first complaint is from The Boss. Her complaint is about how I steal the covers on the bed while sleeping. She has brought this issue up quite frequently, as records will show, citing that her efforts to wake me up or to pull the blankets back prove unsuccessful. I assure her that the hoarding of blankets is not intentional, as I am a human furnace that does not require any more clothing than boxer shorts while sleeping. Previous negotiations on this subject have not yielded any results, despite suggestions from mediators. This complaint is acknowledged, but tabled for further discussion at a later time.

The second complaint to be addressed is also from The Boss. She states that my loud snoring is keeping her awake at night. I deny any occurrence of snoring, and any evidence proving this event has yet to be produced. This complaint is dismissed.

The third complaint was filed by The Boss, as well. She states that I leave clippings from trimming my beard in the sink. I fully admit to this, and counter with a reminder of how many times she has left clumps of hair in the drain of the tub, some large enough to fashion a toupee out of. The complaint is dismissed after promises of better cleanliness from both parties involved.

The fourth complaint... oh, hell. Screw this. 

I'm a guy. I shouldn't be held accountable for most of the things I do worth complaining about because I just can't help it. 

Yes, I steal the covers. I snore like I've got a deviated septum. I leave a mess in the sink when shaving to get subconsciously back at you for the furry drain monster that floats around in the tub when I shower. I'll stink up the bathroom and not spray air freshener because I forget to. I'll poke you with my morning wood and grope your boobs while I sleep. I'll do any multitude of annoying things simply because I don't know any better, or because I just haven't learned yet. At least I don't leave the toilet seat up anymore.

I do enough things to make up for my shortcomings, though. Like always making you a card with construction paper, colored pencils, and glue sticks for important occasions. And kissing you on the forehead when I'm leaving for work early in the morning because I don't want to wake you. And for remembering that today is the 51st monthly anniversary (that's four years and three months) of the day we started dating. 

Shouldn't that be enough to keep me around?

I hope so.

Friday, March 13, 2009

In Which I Need Thicker Walls

The apartment that The Boss and I live in shares common walls with our landlords. Our portion of the house is technically the in-law apartment of the house, divided by a wall of less-than-standard thickness. It took us less than one week to learn that even a normal-volume conversation could be overheard, be it our conversation or theirs. 

Having only a few inches between our sides of the house has made for interesting moments in the past couple months. Like the time where they had sex (yes, that one time). Or when they fought while having dinner:
Him: I'M YELLING AT YOU ABOUT SOMETHING INCONSEQUENTIAL.
Her: I'M YELLING EVEN LOUDER THAN YOU TO PROVE MY POINT.
Him: Can you pass the salt?
Her: Sure, darling.
Him: I STILL THINK YOU ARE WRONG, THUS MY CONTINUED RAISED VOICE.
Her: WHATEVER YOU SAY, DEAR. YOU'RE STILL SLEEPING ON THE COUCH.
Or my personal favorite, when they run their diesel-engine powered dishwasher at 10pm at night. Nothing like the roar of high-pressure water and a 16-horsepower drain pump that needs new bearings to lull you to a peaceful night's sleep. 

There have been a variety of things I have overheard, but lately something new has come up that just takes the cake.

A couple of times a week, one of my landlords (I can never tell if it is the He or the She) will draw up a bath. Their upstairs bathroom is partly above our living room, and with the thin walls and flooring we can clearly hear the tub filling up. Once the water shuts off, you can hear them testing the temperature of the water and then setting into the tub. There is a period of loud, watery sloshing sounds, but then all is still. 

And then, whoever is in the tub will fart.

It is unlike anything I have ever heard. These particular farts aren't the petite little one-cheek-sneak farts. These are marathon farts, the I-just-ate-chili farts, the I-didn't-know-I-had-a-tuba-up-my-butt kind of farts. It's a bare-ass, cheek-slapping fart against a hard surface. There is a squeak or a squeal almost, and of course, the bubbles. And oh, the bubbles! The escaping ass-air has to go somewhere, right? The sound of the bubbles is like someone switched on a jacuzzi for about 3.7 seconds. 

This always happens in the evening, most often when both The Boss and I are sitting in the living room. After the butt-trumpet goes off over our heads, we have to stifle our rapturous laughter to keep from being overheard next door. I know that if we can hear them, they can hear us when we burp and fart, but I don't want to make it any more embarrassing than it needs to be. 

I think I'm going to leave a bottle of Bean-O with our rent check next month. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In Which I Forget

I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I totally forgot to write the next segment of the Short Story Thursday series last month. Here is the fifth installment.

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four)
---

The ringing of the bedside phone brought Adam Marshall out of a fitful sleep. Sleep came only in bits and pieces now, three days after his narrow escape from Samuel Bennett. Whatever sleep he managed to get was plagued by nightmares, punctuated by moments of panicked awareness that reminded him that it wasn’t just a dream. The nightmare of the situation was all too real.

Adam had kept quiet during the past three days. Once he had gotten out of Maine, he traded the Mustang for a Honda Civic. The seedy car salesman fit every stereotype that exists for his profession, right down to the beady eyes and breath that smelled like bad coffee. The Civic enabled him to blend in with traffic more than the Mustang would have. Adam staked out a hotel next, choosing a dingy, rattrap of a place called “Sleepy Time Suites” on the outskirts of Portsmouth. He registered with cash under a fake name, reserving a room with a clear view of the parking lot.

Before moving his luggage into the room, Adam picked up some groceries. Knowing that Bennett could track his cell phone, he switched it off while he was still on the Maine interstate. He removed the battery from it and hid it in the glove compartment of the Civic. He remained in his room standing watch by the window overlooking the lot, only leaving his post to sleep and to use the bathroom.

The incident at the shipping lot seemed like a lifetime ago. He had checked the newspapers for any reports of it but nothing could be found. The sounds of the gunshots that night were loud and had echoed harshly off the surrounding buildings. In that relatively quiet part of town, surely someone had heard it. The influence of Samuel Bennett seemed to be widespread, giving him a blanket of power that Adam hoped he could stay ahead of.

Bleary-eyed but awake, Adam picked up the cradle and answered it. “Hello?”

“Adam? Is that you?” It was Ellen.

How could that be? No one should know I am here.

“Yes, it’s me,” Adam said quietly. “How did you get this numb-“

“Adam, are you in some kind of trouble?” Ellen broke in. Her voice wavered and broke. Her fear and panic came through clear on the line. She stifled a sob, and sniffed lightly.

“Ellen, are you okay?” There was a heavy pause on the line. “Ellen?” he asked louder.

“Adam?” Ellen asked again. He could almost feel her trembling. “There’s someone here who wants to speak to you.”

There was a shuffle of noise as the phone was handed over.

“Mr. Adam Marshall. I trust you are doing well.”

Bennett!

Adam found he couldn’t speak, his breath caught thick in his throat. He moved his mouth wordlessly, and heard the slow, smooth glide of metal against metal and the telltale heavy click of a bullet being chambered. In the background, Ellen screamed.

“I think we need to talk.”

---

Stay tuned for the next installment later this month!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In Which I Am Wistful

I know I just wrote about this the other day, but I really hope Spring gets here soon.

Mostly so I can look out my window, and see this:



I'll try to be patient.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Which I Head Off To Vermont... Kind Of

Not in a physical way... I'm off to Vermont in a metaphorical way. 

I'm guest posting over at Moonspun's place.

Go check it out! 

Feel free to leave your comments over there or back here, whichever you please. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, March 9, 2009

In Which I Am Ready

TO: mothernature{at}planetearth{dot}org
FROM: badassgeek{at}gmail{dot}com

Dear Mother Nature,

Do you know what month it is? March, that's right. You see all this white stuff on the ground? Do you know what that is? Yes, it's snow! 

Do you know how much of a pain in the ass this stuff is? It makes the roads miserable, it sucks to have to shovel it or plow it away, and when it finally gets around to melting, it covers everything in a glaze of ice when the temps drop at night. I don't think my tailbone can take any more slips on the ice this year, and I'm a slobbering mess on painkillers. 

My question is this: Can we get a head start on Spring this year? I haven't really complained too much about the weather this winter, and compared to last year this one has been a breeze! That doesn't change the fact that we are in our fifth month of winter-weather, and I'm sick of it. 

I'm tired of having to wear layers and keep gloves handy. I'm tired of that crinkly-prickling thing that happens when I go outside and my nose hairs freeze. I'm tired of having to wear slippers around the house and building a fire in the wood stove each night. I'm tired of the shrinkage that happens to my Tripod and having to coax it out of my pelvic cavity just to take a leak. Most of all, I'm tired of the meteorologists on TV who can't seem to figure out what the heck you're doing and always get it wrong.

Making the switch over to Spring  wouldn't be all that hard. Just make sure the temperature doesn't drop below freezing until April or so, and everything else will progress naturally. Oh, and if you could keep any weather patterns containing snow from entering New England at least until next year, that'd be great, too.

Doing this wouldn't only help me and the rest of New England, but it'd probably also have some benefit for you. You'd probably see a significant drop of claims coming in to your complaints department, which I'm sure is getting swamped right now. I'm also willing to bet that you'll see an increase of people getting outside and singing your praises. Wouldn't that be a nice change of pace, from all the constant complaints?

Just think about it. That's all I ask.

Sincerely,

Michael

Friday, March 6, 2009

In Which I Get Pinched

I don't remember when this happened, but it wasn't too long ago. I was in line at the grocery store after picking up a few things for dinner, and had just placed my items on the conveyor belt. A woman got in line behind me, and after unloading her items, stood really close to me. I stepped forward politely, turned with my back to the line behind me, and waited for the cashier to ring up the customer in front of me. 

I barely had time to make sure I had enough items to be in the express lane when I felt the woman behind me move in close again. I shuffled forward, and looked over my shoulder. The woman, who I judged to be in her sixties, was reading the cover of a celebrity gossip magazine near by. I turned back around, and being one who is picky about his personal space, moved forward even further. 

The moment I turned back around, she moved in closer again. I ignored her this time, and mentally urged the cashier to bag the items faster. Who cares if bread goes on the bottom and the soup cans get thrown on top? Are those eggs? Chuck 'em in there! I've got a cougar in my personal bubble! She was so close to me that I could feel the warmth from her body. She smelled like mothballs and denture paste, and was breathing hard enough that I could smell the mint or lozenge that she was rattling against her teeth.

I was all but crawling with irritability when the customer in front of me pulled out a large stack of coupons. I groaned quietly. Come on! Who gives a shit about 15 cents off your toilet bowl cleaner? Fuck it. I'll give you a whole dollar if you just hurr-

I felt a pinch. 

On my butt. 

My eyes opened up wide, and my breath caught in my throat. I think my heart skipped a beat, and before it had a chance to recover, I felt another pinch. Harder this time.

I turned around to face the woman behind me. She looked at me with a blank expression that seemed to say, "What? I didn't do anything." I faced forward again, uncomfortable enough where I contemplated abandoning my items on the belt and just walking away. The customer in front of me was just about done, and would soon leave the space in front of the cashier wide open. I could feel my face burning red. I tapped my foot impatiently, watching with great displeasure at how slow the cashier was. I heard the slide of fabric behind me, but ignored it. This was a mistake.

I felt a cold hand cup my right butt cheek. It rested there for a moment before giving it a firm squeeze. For what seemed like an eternity, I couldn't move. At last, the woman released her grip. 

I spun around, forgoing politeness, and glared at the woman. She smiled coyly, and waggled her drawn-on eyebrows at me. I reached behind me and dusted off the seat of my pants, as if she had gotten them dirty by molesting me in the checkout line. I scowled at her, and her smile faded.

"Paper or plastic?" the cashier asked, just now beginning to ring up my items. 

"I don't care," I responded gruffly. "Just bag 'em."

I moved forward down the line into the space in front of the debit card reader. The woman remained where she was, her arms folded across her chest. Save for the beeping of the cash register, we stood there in silence, the cashier, the cougar, and I.

Finished with ringing up my items, the cashier waited for my debit card to process. He soon handed me my receipt, and I glanced at the woman again. She flashed a smile and blew a kiss at me. I grabbed my groceries, spun on my heel, and walked away as fast as I could. 

When I got home, The Boss greeted me with a kiss. I brought the groceries into the kitchen to put away, she snuck up behind me and pinched my butt. I jumped.

"What? What's wrong?" she asked, concerned.

"You don't want to know," I said. "You just don't want to know."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In Which I Am Fed Up

I am halfway into my work week, and this week is turning out to be crap. I'm getting hit with it from all angles, and I am starting to get fed up. No, that's wrong. I am fed up. Right about to here (gestures to eyeballs). I need to rant a little bit today, so bear with me.

I am fed up with...

... being treated like an idiot at work. Just because I work an entry-level job doesn't mean I am stupid. I am more educated that most of the people I work with, yet I get lumped in with the stereotype. Oh, and for the record, yelling at people on the phone isn't going to get you what you want any faster. It's going to get you hung up on.

... The Boss' dumb fucking cat. Remember that cute bastard she adopted in October? Yeah. Not so cute anymore. Even after getting him fixed, he's a little devil with claws and razor sharp teeth who's favorite thing to do is rip into me with them, leaving horrible scars on my arms and legs. I've had enough, and he'll be finding himself a new home by the end of the month.

... still being wrong when it is painfully obvious that I am right. This isn't about my ego or about being stubborn. It's about the often-complained-about double standard of relationships, and I am so fucking sick of it. If I am capable of conceding, why can't she? 

... the pressure from The Boss to have a baby. My older sister is pregnant, and due in May. My younger sister just found out that she is pregnant, and is due in October. The Boss? Not pregnant, and bitter about it. I understand the desire for it, I honestly do. I understand that would only get worse seeing two family members being pregnant. But making me feel like I'm the bad guy for not feeling ready to be a father? Totally not fair. 

... hearing about the economy on the news. Yes, we're all fucked. We get it. Hearing all the news people talking about it over and over and over and over and over again is like being kicked when I'm already down, and it makes me even more depressed about my tumbling credit score. I'm turning my TV off now. Call me when it's getting better.

... that fucking McDonald's Fillet-O-Fish commercial. I hear it once, and it will be stuck in my head all day. Damn you, McDonald's. Damn you.

What's been pissing you off lately, Internet? Let it out.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In Which I Am Confused

While getting a few groceries the other day, I saw this: 


I understand there are some pretty dense people out there, but do we really need to stoop this low? I mean, I think it's pretty evident even to an infant what juice is without having to label it as a "beverage". 

What stupid things have you seen lately?

Monday, March 2, 2009

In Which I'm Not Sure What I'm Doing

I am writing to you from the past. 

Before you get alarmed, no, I am not dead. 

As I write this, it is Saturday, February 28th, at about 4:52pm EST. I realized that I'm not going to be at my desk to write my Monday morning post this coming week, so I'm writing it now. I'm not positive, but I think that by you reading this on Monday, with me having written it on Saturday, we may have broken the space/time continuum. I guess you don't need a tricked out Delorean to do that after all.

I wish I knew what I was going to be doing on Monday, but sadly, I don't. The only thing I know is that I won't have access to the Internet. Maybe I'll transport illegal aliens into the country in the back of my truck. Maybe I'll run around the house in my underwear while listening to classic rock music. Maybe I'll be try to give myself a haircut with my beard trimmer. Maybe I'll take a couple Tramadol and watch some movies while my brain is on autopilot. 

From my vantage point, the future is wide open.

More realistically, I'll probably be bringing trash to the dump, or doing laundry, or working on a design project for The Boss. I like to imagine my life will be more interesting in a couple of days, but time, I guess, will tell for sure. My life is a whole lot less predictable when I'm not at my desk. If I was to be at my desk today (Monday, not Saturday like it is now), I'd probably be writing a blog post that would be more interesting than this one, or reading and commenting on all the new blog posts you've written, or checking my e-mail in my possibly-obsessive-compulsive way of 37 times per hour. Probably all three of those things, actually. 

At any rate, I'll be back (in the present time) on Wednesday. Maybe I'll tell you what I did today. Monday.

P.S. Need something to think about today? Try this.