Introverts and Pokemon

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My daughter asked me the other day why I was fat. I told her, “because I like to eat and I don’t like to exercise.” She seemed to accept this reason as sensible and logical. My doctor does not. He’ll inform me of my weight like it’s some revelation. “Oh, Sherlock! Brilliant deduction my good fellow! Why, I thought I had worms!” Usually when he informs me of my weight I role my eyes, much like Sherlock does to the British police force when they say something asinine like, “Uh… dis dude is dead.”

My doctor insists I should lose some weight. He is not wrong. I am fat. Comparatively I might not be quite so enormous, but my heart tells me differently. Especially after mowing the lawn in the hot sun. Thump-Thump-Thump it says. However, I know what the translation is: Seriously dude – didn’t God specifically forbid bacon? Sometimes I even think about losing some weight. Maybe perhaps laying off the bacon. Maybe even going so far as to not eat pizza regularly.

Then I go to work.

Folks, I don’t think you realize how much energy it takes for an introvert to do an extrovert’s job. The answer, in case you are wondering, a lot. I don’t have exact figures but it’s something around the 1,000,000 lumins range. No, I don’t know what a lumin is. Anyway, I have to talk to people every day. People I would never choose to talk to of my own free will. Often these people force information on me that I never asked for. An average conversation goes like this:

Me: Well, you have a nice day, sir. Thank you for shopping with us.

Customer: Yeah, man. I got that car from my meemaw five years ago. She didn’t never drive it hardly ever. Then she died and I got it. I took that 302 out and put a 350 in there. It runs great. Never had no trouble with it never – ‘cept this battery. But you know it’s been sitting up for awhile, cuz we don’t never drive it. Meemaw only went to the store and church. But now I drive that car to work and it’s great. Got that 350 in there now that I put in. You know how hard it is to change an engine in one of those things? I had a bugger of a time. We spent all weekend one day – me and my brother and my cousin all tryin’ to figure out how to swap the heads on that thing. Man, I tell you what. But it runs good now. I take it to work everyday…

Me: Uh-huh.

And that’s one of the more pleasant monologues. It didn’t include anything about recent diseases, divorces, incarcerations, or any of the other millions of things people think the parts person wants to hear. Other introverts who’ve read the above exchange have already stopped reading this and locked themselves in their bedrooms just to recharge from this inane story from someone I made up. People, I listen to this all day, every day.

So, yeah… I eat. It’s the only time I can get away. I don’t think that will be ending any time soon. What I really need is a something like a “pocket extrovert” or “Pokevert,” if you will. I know that sounds like someone who wants to have sex with Pokemon, but bear with me – we can always change the name before production begins. I imagine it would work something like this:

Me: Thank you, ma’am. Have a great day!

Customer: Yeah, you know I just got divorced recently. My ex-husband used to do everything with the cars but I don’t know —

Me: I choose you, Pikachu! *throws Pokevert ball*

Customer: What…?

Me: This is Pikachu. He will listen to you. I have other shit to do.

Pikachu: Pika! Pika! Divorce?

Customer: Oh… um… yeah, so I got divorced and……

It would solve everyone’s problems. Then I wouldn’t have to run into the break room to sneak a bite of delicious pizza or chocolate. Surely I could lose weight then!

 

Little Kids Dancing and Chickens

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My daughter, Lexi, has been taking ballet for about a year now. This past weekend we were treated to the fruit of her labor as her class performed their final concert for the year. I personally, at great expense to myself, sacrificed many hours driving her to her lesson in another town. You might say, “But Adam, doesn’t all that driving mean you get to listen to whole albums uninterrupted? That’s not much of a sacrifice!” You hush. It’s my turn to talk, not yours.

Anyway, my lovely little squeegiedunk had been practicing her dance week after week for months. With the aggressive focus, dedication, we often ascribe to Olympic athletes. “Do you want to play with your ponies?” I would ask. “No, Papa” she would say in a cultured British accent, “I must practice for my concert.” I have no idea where she picked up the accent. It must be all the Doctor Who.

Ha! Ha! I’m kidding of course. I never ask her that because then I have to play with ponies.

Anyway, with all this practice, I knew that when we sat down we were going to be treated to some bonna-fide triple A class dancing. Naturally that is what Lexi delivered. She was the best dancer in the show. She upstaged all of the older girls that had been dancing for almost half a century. She was the epitome of poise and grace. Her lines were flawless. The fact that I am her father almost assuredly has no bearing on my opinion whatsoever.

The other girls in her class… well…

I am not sure they were aware that there was any choreography to begin with. They kind of moved their limbs around haphazardly as though they were told about the dance a mere ten minutes before the show. Let it be known that I do not place any blame with their teacher. I can’t imagine what it’s like to try and get twelve four-year-olds to do anything. Actually, I can imagine what that’s like. I imagine it’s like going into a chicken coop and gathering twelve chickens, getting them into a studio, and teaching them how to dance. “Okay, chickens, first positions!” says the teacher.

Then one of the chickens poops on the floor. Another chicken begins pecking at another chicken for no reason. Then yet another chicken flaps its wings aimlessly in the corner of the studio oblivious to both the other chickens and the teacher. I would imagine that after an hour or so the teacher would just gather up the chickens and head to the nearest Chik-Fil-A. “Here,” she says dumping a bag of chickens on the doorstep. “I hope they’re delicious because they’re terrible dancers.”

In other words, I’m amazed that the kids did anything at all! I’m more amazed that their instructor can still speak in complete sentences and walk around like all that chicken-wrangling is no big deal. Oh great… now I’m hungry for chicken.

 

Writer’s Block

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It sure is hard to write sometimes.

Well, hard to think of things to write at any rate. I certainly don’t mean that sitting here on my couch and typing words with no pants on is hard work. Not that I’m sitting here with no pants on, no sir. Now I am somewhat acquainted with actual hard work. I once worked construction for a few months while living in Florida. I spent a few days lugging around cement bricks for no good reason. I’ve climbed up on precarious scaffolding to put up paint shields. I watched my friend and coworker almost hack his hand off with a grinder. I’ve also dug an actual ditch so when I say I’ve “spent time in the trenches” I am not, as my grandparents might say, “whistling Dixie.”

But sit here and think of something funny to write? Honestly, sometimes I’d rather dig the ditch[1].

I don’t know how it is for actual writers but for me all the stuff comes from my “energy bucket.” If I have a lot of energy it’s easy to come up with funny stuff. If I have no energy, writing something is like trying to get the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. Or trying to coax the last drop of ketchup out of a bottle. In other words, way more of a struggle than you would think. This is weird because I think of funny stuff all day.

For instance, while at work the other day a male co-worker was about to swat me in the head with a sales paper. “You had a bee on your head,” he said. I then suggested that if he were to “help” me in this manner I might “help” him with the bee that had just landed on his groin area… with my fist. I had a very clear image in my mind of punching this young man square in the crotch and then saying, “You had a bee on your junk. But I got it for ya.” I thought this was hysterical.

But man, I’m sitting here with no wife or child in the house and I cannot think of a single funny thing to write. I think it’s because my bucket is always empty. When I’m not at work helping a woman get wiper blades for a car that she doesn’t know the year, make, or model of, I’m at home. At home I’m doing puzzles, playing with ponies, or trying to make our house not look like an episode of Hoarders. All that activity empties the bucket and I feel like a pumpkin with the insides scooped out.

Sometimes I don’t even have the energy to play video games. I know, right? Ridiculous! Ah, the life of the husband and father. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.[2]

 

[1] That is, dig a ditch in either Florida or Georgia. Where there are no actual rocks in the ground.

[2] No sarcasm. I really wouldn’t trade it for the world. My family is awesome.

The ERIN WILSON Challenge

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A little history here…. I used to write for a little newspaper thing called Connect Statesboro. I was writing an article for the local theater at the time my friend was in Mame. I wrote this in response to a conversation we had. I still laugh every time I read it. 

The other day I was at my friend Lucas’ house, and who was there much to our delight? Why it was ERIN WILSON. Lucas is the brother of ERIN WILSON. I mentioned to her that I was doing an article on Averitt Stars and ERIN WILSON, being the kidder that ERIN WILSON is, said, “I’ll pay you five dollars for every time you mention my name.” We laughed, ERIN WILSON and I, but thought, “Wow, Five dollars! I think I can fit the name ERIN WILSON in an article maybe, what, twenty times!” and that is exactly what I told ERIN WILSON.

ERIN WILSON was of course, the break out star of Mame. I’ve known ERIN WILSON for quite a while and I can tell you that the term “break-out star” is vastly understating the awesomeness of talent the encapsulates the woman known to many as ERIN WILSON. I’ve been best friends with ERIN WILSON’s husband Jason for years and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing all three of ERIN WILSON’s angelic children who were no doubt plucked from the bosom of heaven itself to round out the picturesque family of ERIN WILSON.

Here’s a fun fact about ERIN WILSON that you might not know. ERIN WILSON has, somewhere in ERIN WILSON’s house, a CD of herself, ERIN WILSON, singing Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway.” I’m told that it is just as good if not better than the original which ERIN WILSON covered. You might be wondering why I am taking the time to type ERIN WILSON in all caps. That is a calculated move by me as a writer. I am drawing attention to each mention of that majestic name of ERIN WILSON by placing it higher that all the other words so it stands tall and proud. ERIN WILSON’s name will be the fiery beacons that light this article, so that you will never forget the day you read this article that I’m writing about ERIN WILSON.

At last count I believe that ERIN WILSON has appeared in this article at least 23 times. Excuse me…

ERIN WILSON

25 times. That last one counts as two because it’s bigger. (Note: It’s supposed to be bigger but I can’t figure out how to make it bigger on this blog.) I believe I have not only fulfilled the contract that ERIN WILSON and I had, but exceeded. Much like ERIN WILSON exceeds our expectations every time she appears on stage. In summation, no clumsy collection of words could ever really give an apt description of the woman ERIN WILSON. So I will end with the only thing that can: ERIN WILSON.

 

Walmart Gear Solid: Groceries of the Patriots

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When I was single, grocery shopping was so much easier. Without having to think about a budget or two other human beings, I could basically buy whatever I wanted (like Chocolate Covered Chocolate Bites). The only downside of this was… well… I could buy whatever I wanted (New and Improved Chocolate Covered Chocolate Bites… now with more chocolate!). Also, since I wasn’t really what one might call a “skilled cook” I had to get stuff that was easy to make. Stuff that required no more than some water (or milk) and, if I was feeling particularly driven and motivated that day, some heat. Usually my shopping lists looked something like this:

1. Cereal

2. Frozen pizza

3. Frozen tv dinner

4. Cheese puffs

5. Chocolate

6. New Megadeth CD

I took my time back then. I’d swing around to the video game and DVD section, perhaps stop at the magazines and pick up a new issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. Grocery shopping was not a “task” it was just something fun to do. It’s different now. Grocery shipping is a MISSION. You know, like in Metal Gear Solid. Get in, extract groceries, get out. Extra points for not killing anyone.

These days my grocery shopping trips are coordinated with laser precision. I have already scoped the kitchen out for the items we need. I have the list made up ahead of time. Not only that but I have shopped in my head and made the list to match the layout of the store. With a little luck I can get in and acquire the data groceries, without alerting the guards my wife to any sales.

That’s why all this preparation is necessary. My wife still thinks grocery shopping is some fun adventure where a prize is given out for the most lollygagging. My daughter is no better. Without my planning I will have a cart full of clothes, dolls, books, crayons, pajamas, but nothing to eat. If I take my beautiful ladies grocery shopping they will, without fail, come to me with some extraneous doodad they want to buy. Sometimes this is a point of friction in our marriage. She just doesn’t understand how not following the list kills your end game ranking budget. Sometimes my wife will suggest that treating grocery shopping like a military operation is maybe not the best idea. Sometimes I even listen to her.

She might be on to something. I find myself having to resist the temptation to strangle and/or CQC (close quarters combat) throw someone to the ground because they are in front of the cereal and refuse to move. Don’t they know how important Honey Nut Cheerios are to the mission?! Sometimes it’s not one, but two people roadblocking the isle while they chat about their intestinal polyps or whatever people chat about at the grocery store. And I just stand there, patiently waiting for Meemaw and Aunt Elma to finish their dissertations on diarrhea, because I am far too polite to tranquilize them with my trusty M9 and move on.

I suppose if I treated grocery shopping more like happy adventure time I wouldn’t get so annoyed. Then again, I’m afraid if I don’t we’ll spend a thousand dollars a week. So perhaps I’ll try to back off a bit. But I’ll still keep my M9 handy just in case.

An Evening With Eva and The Fuhrer

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I don’t often go to midnight game releases, but when I do I meet some strange people.

It was late March. The game: Bioshock Infinite. I hadn’t originally planned to go to the midnight release because two words: midnight release. I am an old man and waiting until midnight for anything is asking a bit much. However, my mother was in town and agreed to watch the little one so my wife and I could go. We don’t get to go out much these days, so when I offered to take my wife on the whirling maelstrom of happy adventure that was Bioshock Infinite Midnight Release, she couldn’t help but say yes.

Most of it was fairly standard. Wait in line. Get your number. But that “wait in line” part can be packed with some entertaining stuff.

For instance, while we were all camped outside an old black woman drove up in a minivan. She was inquiring as to what game we were waiting for. “Luigi’s Mansion?” she asked. “Nope,” we all said in unison. She still pestered us all about Luigi’s Mansion for a good ten to fifteen minutes. Keep in mind, this was around ten or eleven o’clock at night. I got to thinking… what’s the deal with this woman and her obsession with Luigi? Furthermore, what strangled path of her life led her to this moment? She’d probably been waiting for this moment for months. I can imagine her out on the hunt. She’d probably stopped in every store. “You got ‘Luigi’s Mansion?’” she would ask. “No ma’am, this is McDonald’s.”

And why Luigi? Why not Mario? I can only imagine the talk at her hair salon. Yapping to her friends:

“You know that Mario – he a chump. He be all getting’ that girl from Bowser and she be goin’ right back. E’erbody know she humpin’ Bowser. How you gon’ go, ‘Ooh, Mario save me! I got captured again!’ See, now Luigi don’t get played like that. He a real man. And he got two jobs! Two! He a plumber and a ghostbuster! What Mario do? Get played like a little punk, that’s what he do.”

We also got to chat with, among others, a Pokemon fangirl and an inordinate number of cross-eyed gentlemen. I am not making that up. One in particular I had nicknamed “The Fuhrer.” He was a short guy dressed all in black. He had chains and silver military paraphernalia pinned to his shirt. Epulets, iron crosses, and whatever that bird is people plaster on something when they want it to look vaguely Nazi-ish. The works. He blathered on about Rammstein and getting bombed at Oktoberfest. And Germany. Oh, how he loved Germany.

His little girlfriend was dressed in black as well, but she had more of a goth/steampunk sort of vibe and was actually kind of sweet. She seemed a lot more normal. I couldn’t tell if she was actually into all the dressing up or just humoring her boyfriend. I’m pretty sure she’s different when she’s not with her SS soldier of a man. She’s probably just wearing a t-shirt and jeans… and comparing insurance rates and checking on how her stocks are doing. It was a very interesting evening and they did seem like nice people. However, it was a little hard not to be scared. I did not want to end up in some creepy couple’s sex dungeon without even getting Bioshock Infinite.

The evening came to an end. We all trudged home, Bioshocks in hand and immersed ourselves in a world of intrigue and adventure. Ha ha! I’m just kidding. We went home and installed discs, installed updates, and redeemed codes. Then we went to bed with the desperate hope that everything would be installed and downloaded by morning so we could actually play the game.

 

 

 

 

The American Girl Experience

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When my daughter, Lexi, turned four my wife and I decided to do something big for her birthday. We had a couple reasons for doing this. The first being that we hadn’t done anything “big” in about four years (the last “big” thing being have a child). The other was because we had managed to keep another human being alive for four years. No easy feat in today’s world of war, hardship, and famine. I mean, good grief, our car doesn’t even have wi-fi! It was an event worthy of celebration. My wife, Lindy, thought it would be a great idea to take Lexi to the American Girl doll store in Atlanta.

For the uninitiated, American Girl dolls are a brand of impossibly expensive dolls. Each doll has its own name, personality, time period, and hobby. For example, the popular one this year was named Isabelle. She lived in modern times and liked to dance. There was also Kit, who lived during Great Depression and whose favorite hobby was not starving to death. Then there’s Caroline, who lived during the war in 1812. She went on a mission to rescue her father from the British. Her favorite hobbies included sneaking around military facilities and snapping the necks of British soldiers. My favorite was Amelia, the Cyborg Demon Vampire Hunter who lived in 2065. One can only imagine what her favorite hobbies were!

Anyway, off to Atlanta we went. Before the American Girl store, my wife had to stop at Target. She loves Target. We do not have a Target where we live – a fact that greaves my wife to no end. I don’t have the heart to tell her it’s the same stuff as Walmart only five to ten dollars more expensive. While shopping for odds and ends we bought Lexi a musical magic wand. It was from the movie Frozen and when activated played about five notes of “Let it Go.” We also got her a slinky for a dollar. Remember these facts because they will become relevant later.

Eventually, we showed up at the store which contained an estimated seventy-five thousand little girls and their mothers. That’s not to say there weren’t some fathers there, because there were. And all five of us just nodded to one another in solidarity. As the day wore on our nods became more haggard and desperate. We briefly threw around the idea (through silent nods) of starting a fight club. With the dolls. The benefit being that they would never be able to talk about fight club.

After having been shown several dolls, Lexi decided on Isabelle, the dancer. Also, some outfits and a pet cat because we weren’t spending near enough money. When it was time to pay, the cashier led me to the back and showed me the barrel I was about to be bent over. To their credit it was a nice barrel. It was pink (of course) and lined with soft fur. It also had molded rubber handholds which I thought was a nice touch. The cashier cheerfully explained that I was not required to squeal like a pig. No sir, I was free to squeal like whichever animal I deemed appropriate. I chose octopus.

At the end of the day, both Lindy and Lexi had a great time. Now, pop quiz – remember how I said we’d bought some toys at Target? Out of all the toys we bought that day which do you think she played with the most? If you said, “Why the American Girl doll, of course.” You’re an idiot. I swear I have never in my combined thirty-five years seen a slinky played with for so long.