Archive for the ‘sarcasm’ Category

On the eighth day, God made a politician.


Political-Podium

by Keith Yancy

I couldn’t resist.

Watching the recent Ram Truck ad (click this link to see it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE) and hearing the unmistakable, melodic voice of Paul Harvey inspired me to create my own version of his speech.  I wish Harvey could read it with that wonderful voice and style of his.  Not really sure why, just felt like writing this and having some fun with it.

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, I need a source of frustration — so God made a politician.

God said I need somebody willing to take both sides of an issue, argue passionately for and against the same principles, have lunch, take both sides of an issue again, pause for a photo-op, eat dinner then go to a political rally and stay past midnight reminding people of how you enjoy spending evenings with your family — so God made a politician.

I need somebody who won’t shy away from promoting family values yet brave enough to sleep with his own staff members; somebody to protest loudly, cave meekly, talk endlessly while saying nothing, proclaim your individuality while never breaking ranks with his or her political party, then tell news reporters you’re too busy to grant an interview or answer tough questions — so God made a politician.

God said I need somebody willing to fight day and night for the middle class, and watch it wither because of unemployment and higher taxes, then dry her eyes and vote for tax breaks for the rich.  I need someone who can ignore a multi-trillion-dollar growing deficit, let bankers cheat people out of their homes and savings, kiss strangers babies and hug their children while voting to cut spending for their education, refuse to take a position on difficult issues while introducing symbolic and unnecessary legislation to appear patriotic — so God made a politician.

God had to have someone public enough to accept donations from taxpayers, charities and companies, yet private enough to spend those donations to pay for his mistresses, vacations and hobbies — so God made a politician.

God said I need somebody shameless enough to call political opponents names, yet outraged and indignant when those same opponents respond in kind.  Who will smile and nod with those who agree with him the same way he does with those who do not.  It had to be somebody who would dodge and demure and not give direct answers; somebody to talk, balk, gawk, and walk in parades and shake hands and give high-fives and pat backs and nod wisely and make bold proclamations and sincere apologies and self-righteous denials all in a 30-minute span of time, and do it day after day until their 8-week recess starts.  Somebody who can rally the base and generate voter turnout with the soft, strong bonds of empty promises and finger-pointing; who would laugh and then sigh, and reply with smiling eyes when her daughter says she wants to spend her life doing what Mom does… so God made a politician.

Whatever you do, this was intended to be a joke — it’s not meant to be partisan, nor does it reflect my true opinion of politicians (though it’s not that far off).  Perhaps it leans a bit left, but I’m well aware that Democrats and Republicans are far more alike than they are different.

Until next time… :)

Donuts With Dad… How I Threw Up at my Daughter’s Grade School


by Keith Yancy

I thought my days of throwing up in a grade school restroom were 35 years in the past.  I thought wrong.

It all started with an event at my kid’s grade school: “Donuts with Dad.”  The flyer came home with my 10-year-old daughter, a purple slip of paper with a 1950’s style neon sign typeface, and lay in plain sight on the kitchen counter.  The flyer described a morning “Dad/kid” extravaganza, complete with donuts, coffee, and a short “discussion” afterwards about how to be a better Christian father.  And my 10-year-old daughter was pretty excited about it.  Only one conversation with her made it clear: she was really, REALLY looking forward to going to Donuts with Dad WITH her dad, and not going wasn’t going to be tolerated.

So, after a moment of reflection on how “good dads” do this sort of thing, I agreed to take a day off work and go.  Not that this would take all day; but something inside me warned me that this degree of social awkwardness might take some post-donut recovery time.  I’m not outgoing at these types of events, and sitting around with a bunch of other fathers isn’t something I typically like to do.  But I also know that doing stuff you don’t normally like doing is part of life, so with a sigh and a smile, I told my daughter we’d be there.

The day arrived, and I felt fine.  No issues.  I decided that, since I had the day off anyway, I’d go casual and try to look like one of the “cool dads.”  That meant, for me, jeans, a button down shirt (not tucked in, which, to me, says “I’m young and trying to be cool”), and a black leather jacket.  In retrospect, the entire ensemble was completely negated by the uncomfortable look on my face, but at the time, I thought I’d look okay.  My daughter was grinning ear-t0-ear, wearing her backpack and school clothes, excited about both dad going to school and the chance to eat a donut (probably not in that order).

We walked in, were greeted by some very, very friendly school employees, and walked into the Donuts with Dad area, which consisted of several long tables with coffee, donuts, bagels and spreads, all arranged carefully and garnished with harvest themed gourds and leaves.  It was obvious that women were arranging and running the event, which was good; guys would have just stacked a bunch of donut boxes on top of each other and let the chips fall where they may. 

The room was loud.  There were young kids darting everywhere, grabbing donuts and juice, with many of them sporting powdered sugar on their lips and cheeks.  Half-empty paper cups of juice were on virtually every horizontal surface.  Most of the dads in attendance were either sitting with their kids, making some forced small talk with the nearest “other” dad, or simply sitting silent while drinking coffee.  There were few open seats. 

At this point, I have two confessions to make: First, I don’t do well at these sorts of parties.  Even when I tried to dress cool, I knew I wasn’t, and would have probably paid cash money for the gift of invisibility.  As a result, I did the next best thing: I immediately tried to “blend in” by getting a cup of coffee and grabbing a donut.  This leads me to my other confession: when under such “social duress,” I sometimes make inexplicable choices.  And this time was one of them.

I decided, in one baffling moment, that I would eat healthy (!) and choose a bagel rather than a donut.  Looking back, this was the beginning of my downfall.  I chose what I THOUGHT was a plain bagel, and because putting cream cheese on it would seem awkward, decided to eat my plain bagel bone-dry.  My daughter, who doesn’t suffer from such social confusion, grabbed a donut and juice, and we retreated to a bench near the back corner of the room. 

My daughter was genuinely excited.  She talked and grinned the entire time (which made this entire story/experience worthwhile, I might add) and discussed what she would be doing in school that day.  She pointed out friends in the room, but either out of excitement or loyalty, refused to leave my side.  I began to eat my bone-dry plain bagel, only to realize that what I thought was a plain bagel wasn’t.  It was a pumpkin bagel.  I sighed.  I don’t like pumpkin-flavored anything, and here I was, holding a pumpkin bagel and a cup of luke-warm coffee, and feeling awkward and uncool. 

And then, another bad decision: I decided to eat my pumpkin bagel.  I thought it would look ungrateful and rude to not eat it, so I ate it, despite the fact that a) I hate pumpkin bagels, b) nobody cared, and c) no one would have noticed anyhow.  There we were, my daughter drinking her juice and talking non-stop while I looked vaguely bewildered in the corner of the room, force-feeding myself a dry pumpkin bagel.  I ate the entire thing.  No way was I going to look rude.

After a while, the kids were called to class, and for the first time in my life, I felt role reversal with my kid: I didn’t want her to go and leave ME there by myself, facing the uncertain-but-likely-oogly “Dad’s discussion session.”  I steeled myself for what was to come, gave her a hug, and watched her go, slowly shuffling toward the church entrance with the other shuffling, uncomfortable dads to start our “discussion.”  I started feeling queasy, but chalked it up to nerves.  I went in, and like all the other dads, sat apart from everyone else.  Every dad had at least four feet of personal space from every other dad.  A few of us made slight small talk, with hastily whispered introductions and a benign remark about how Donuts with Dad was a nice idea.

A pastor came in and led the discussion, which was really a lecture.  No dad spoke.  The lecture was pleasant enough, though it became clear that the sub-text to the lecture was the importance of financial support for the school.  This was not unexpected.  What WAS unexpected, unfortunately, was the growing realization that I was feeling more and more ill as time went on.

My physical state went through several phases of decline during the 30-minute discussion:

  1. I don’t think that pumpkin bagel agreed with me.”
  2. “I could actually throw up.”
  3. “I could really, really, truly throw up.”
  4. “I wonder how embarrassing it would be if I threw up here?”
  5. “I might just throw up here.”
  6. “If I leave now, could I make it home before I throw up?”
  7. “I’m NOT going to throw up.  Be strong.”
  8. “To hell with strong, be discreet.  I should go to the bathroom to throw up.”
  9. “Will I make it to the bathroom before I throw up?”
  10. “If I throw up in church, will other dads be offended?”
  11. “I’m going to look disrespectful if I leave before the prayer.”
  12. “I’m outta here.”

In the end, I fled just before the prayer, taking great pains to walk rather than run.  By this point, I no longer cared HOW I looked, just that I didn’t throw up pumpkin bagel all over the church in front of 60 other dads (and a pastor).  I made it to the restroom in time, which — thankfully — was empty, and promptly did what I should have done 30 minutes earlier: disposed of my pumpkin bagel.  The entire time, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I threw up for the first time in 35 years in a grade school bathroom.

I cleaned myself up, and decided to leave.  I gave a polite smile and greeting to the women cleaning up the donuts and bagels, and walked carefully out to my car, taking care to leave before the other dads made their own personal mad-dash to their cars.  As I left the parking lot, I felt a mixture of satisfaction for going to Donuts with Dad with my daughter (who didn’t know my sad story at this point), embarrassment, lingering queasiness of my ill-fated pumpkin bagel, and relief that I had the rest of the day to recover.  

Donuts with Dad.  Next year, I’m sticking with donuts.

Until next time… :)

A Letter to England: Thanks for the jokes… :)


Note: This letter is written to Peter, a friend in England.  He is a pub owner in the town of Huddersfield, and I hope to visit there someday.  Peter has followed my battles with the bees for a long time, and while I was performing the semi-disgusting task of cleaning out the remains of the beehive from my living room ceiling, Peter decided to send me a steady stream of jokes and puns.  As I suspect this was as much for his amusement as for my own, I decided to share with Peter exactly what my experience was like, if for no other reason than to explain my somewhat limited sense of humor at the time.

_____________________________________

Dear Peter:

By now you know that, after three long years, I’m finally rid of the bees in my house.  You’ve heard about my ridiculous adventures: bees chasing me around the yard, stinging my face, and getting vacuumed up in my work vacuum, and you’ve been a good sport and interested friend through it all. 

You can certainly appreciate how excited I was to finally remove these damned bees from my living room ceiling, after all my battles and failures.  As I suspect, you were also interested to hear about how I finally removed all the bees — and the beehive — after such a long process.  That may explain why you took so much pleasure in sending me such corny jokes as:

  • How do you hunt for bees? With a bee bee gun.
  • How does a bee brush its hair? With a honey comb.
  • What flies but tastes good on toast?  A BUTTERfly!

And, my personal favorite:

  • Why did the queen bee kick out all of the other bees? Because they kept droning on and on.

Peter, since it’s obvious you’re in a joking mood and looking for a few laughs, allow me to relate how my day went today.  I think you’ll soon understand why I’m no longer fond of bees, or honey, or anything to do with the subject.  I also suspect you will laugh at my experience.  Let’s get started.

Consider, for a moment, what you think of when you think about a beehive: thousands and thousands of bees, working day after day after day making two things: more bees, and more honey.  Then consider what happens when you kill all those bees, in a closed in, small space hanging in the ceiling of your home, right above your living room sofa.  Yes, that’s right — you’ve got a suitcase-sized blob of honey, honeycomb and dead bees with nowhere to go but DOWN — through your ceiling, or, if you cut a large hole already (we did), down into where you and your family live every day.

In other words, it’s a huge mess, and it has to go.  Fast. 

With this knowledge in mind, I proceeded to start trying to clean this mess up to avoid it becoming even MORE of a mess.  This was the first of my many mistaken notions.  Within 10 minutes and despite strategically placed garbage bags, plastic sheets on the floors, rubber gloves, etc, I had somehow spread honey and bee guts everywhere.  It was impossible not to do so.  Honey was dripping from the ceiling, down the walls, and all over the plastic, and no matter what I did or how I tried to manage the mess, I found that this honey — gooey, sticky honey — had spread like a virus to virtually every surface inside (and even outside) my house.  Honey, bee wings, bee heads, bee legs, and various other bee parts quickly coated the floors, my shoes, my clothes, the front porch, our sink faucet handles, and later on, my tools, my hair (and eyebrows, and eyes), my ladder, my flashlight, my eyeglasses, and even my wife’s bathroom mirror, which I used to see just how much of a mess was still in the walls. 

But this was just the beginning.  The honey was sticky, but I discovered, with some irony, that the closer I actually came to the beehive, the harder and harder the honey became.  This was because the temperature outside was cool, and the colder the honey is, the more and more it becomes like a combination of glue… and iron.  Once this became apparent, I described this discovery using some colorful language that I won’t repeat here.  I also realized why the exterminator left this part of the job for me to do.

After chipping and scraping at this honey/glue/iron mixture for a few minutes (punctuated with a yet more genuinely heartfelt swear words), I came up with a brilliant idea: heat.  Warm honey is much easier to work with and clean up, I thought, and this would make the job much easier.  So, I went and got a heat gun, and being that the hive was in the ceiling, I had to stand underneath the hole to heat it up.  I’ve had lots of bad ideas in the past but this one was one of the worst as I learned that heated honey does two things: 1) becomes liquid and drippy very, very fast, and 2) burns morons who stand below it with a scraper and a heat gun.

So, if you’re following along closely, the scene is this: one not-so-smart middle-aged man, standing in a sea of plastic tarps in the ruins of his living room, swearing at a dripping shower of honey from his living room ceiling directly over his head, holding a scorching hot heat gun (covered in honey) in one hand and a hot metal scraper (covered in honey) in his other hand.  Middle-aged moron is also covered in honey, which is now boiling (yes, boiling) on the heat gun and scraper, running down his gloves and onto his bare arms, down his forehead, through his hair, inside his t-shirt, down the outside of his pants, and all over his shoes. 

I should point out that, while the initial destruction of the ceiling and removal of the honeycombs by the exterminator gathered the audience of my daughters, this clean-up process quickly became a lonely, one-moron job.  Whereas everyone wanted to see the bee hive and dead bees, no one — NO ONE — wanted to be around to hear me invent new colorful terms and adjectives as I narrated the cleanup experience.  Even my youngest daughter, who is pretty good about bringing me tools when needed, quickly vanished, and my wife only appeared periodically (and briefly) to make sure I didn’t seriously hurt myself.

But I digress.  The honey didn’t stay cold, or hot, but varied in temperature and behavior.  The honey on my tools and heat gun first became liquid, then began boiling (I still find the scene of looking at the honey boiling on my gloves to be endlessly fascinating) then fused into some type of substance that is brown and absolutely impossible to remove.  Honey on the walls hardened as it dripped down, so near the ceiling, it was like water… near the floor, however, it returned to a near-molasses-like state.  Honey on my arms, forehead, chest, etc. started as scalding hot, then cooled to become both glue-like and incredibly itchy.

It was at this point that I learned something new about myself: I have some sort of minor skin allergy to — you guessed it — honey.  I broke out in hives in all sorts of strange places, including my chest and back, where the honey had dripped down either under or through my shirt.  This whole discovery was made more disgusting by the fact that, when I say “honey,” I’m again talking about honey mixed with bee heads, legs, guts, etc… which all immediately fused to my skin and clothes.

When a not-so-smart person is covered in such a disgusting mess, the process really comes down to a simple choice: to proceed, or to quit.  I decided to keep going, and this entire scene continued for another hour or two as I pulled large amounts of honeycomb, dead bees and honey out of my ceiling and walls.  Another lesson I learned during this phase was to be careful about how much to talk/curse and how important breathing through one’s nose is in a situation of this sort.  Having a large, hot blob of honey/guts drip into your mouth was embarrassing, unpleasant, and brought my wife to the room to wonder why I kept spitting down my own living room wall.  She left quickly, trying (unsuccessfully) not to laugh.

It was about this time that I saw your jokes, and while I’m always grateful for humor and friendship, I was admittedly in a poor position to fully appreciate them.  I spent a lot of time cleaning, first the ceiling and walls, then the floors, then my shoes, then the ladder and tools, etc, etc. etc.  My clothes were in a terrible condition… in fact, the shirt was a total loss, and was thrown out with the plastic and other beehive-related waste.  Cleaning the baked-on honey from my eyeglasses took a long, long time, and my tools and ladder may never fully be rid of it.   

In the end, I was tired, scalded, disgusted, itchy, crabby and generally in no condition to converse with anyone, however sympathetic they may have been to my situation.  Most importantly, I had shed any semblance of dignity, decency and modesty, and decided — without guilt — to leave my honey/guts-covered pants in the downstairs laundry.  This necessitated my walking through the house in only my underwear and socks, which isn’t something I do very often, especially at 4:00PM in the afternoon. 

My wife, who knows me better than anyone, elected to not comment on my lack of clothing nor the bee guts stuck to my hair, forehead, body, etc.  Not so my daughter, who, with considerable amusement, asked aloud, “Why is Dad walking around in his UNDERWEAR?!?!?!?”   I chose to ignore the question and proceeded to pour myself a cup of coffee, too tired and bitter to care.  Eventually, I moved off in my underwear-socks ensemble to take what would be a long, hot shower.  Even with the shower, my arms continued to stick to my shirt sleeves for the next couple of days.  In one of the final lessons of this cleanup odyssey, I’ve learned that honey is almost as tough to get off of one’s skin as it is to get off of walls, tools, etc.

So… after all that, I wanted you to know that I appreciate your sense of humor and the jokes you sent.  And, per our agreement, since your jokes were so corny, when my wife and I eventually visit Huddersfield, I get a free order of bangers and mash with a pint of Black Sheep ale.  In return, I’ll bring you and Rebecca a nice jug of American honey.

And I promise, I won’t open that honey before we visit.  Trust me.

Always,

Keith

A Guide For Parking-Challenged Drivers


by Keith Yancy

Today, I got a front-row seat for 10 minutes as I sat trapped in my car by another driver desperately trying (and trying, and trying) to park next to me.

I had just pulled in to my parking space, and was getting ready to get out and take my daughter to an appointment.  Both of us were on the verge of opening our driver’s side doors (mine in front, hers in back) when a middle-aged woman pulled behind me and began to attempt to back into the empty parking spot next to my car.

So, we waited. 

Despite the fact that there were at least six other parking spots in this small lot, and only two other cars were there, and there was little to no other traffic around, this driver simply HAD to back into the spot next to me, presumably to make it either easier to pull out later or because she needed to make a fast getaway.

And, we waited.

In her defense, she didn’t seem to realize there were people waiting for her (us) to get out of the car.  So, reverse lights ablaze, she began her excruciatingly slow process of backing in.  She looked around (a good thing), and on she creeped, slowly, agonizingly, toward the empty parking space.   Watching this small car back in to this empty space was like watching a spaceship trying to dock at the International Space Station, only with more risk of failure.

And, we waited.

The first attempt (yes, there was more than one) began okay, but she then proceeded to “panic brake” every 6-12 inches for several feet before she stopped, considered her options, then pulled forward to try again.  Her second attempt was the same, marked by the same staccato-like rhythm as she navigated her sedan about half-way into the spot.  Not content with this second effort, she again pulled forward about 3 feet and repeated her trajectory (punctuated again by about 4 bone-jarring stops) before she decided that, after yet another pause, this was going as good as it was going to go, and kept backing in.

And… well, you get it.

Slowly, relentlessly, she inched her way into the parking space, until — at last — she pulled even with my driver-side window, where I sat watching her mind-numbingly slow parking maneuvers in pained fascination.

Based on her shocked and surprised reaction as she looked at me, I can only assume the following:

  1. She didn’t expect to see anyone in the car,
  2. I’m visually unpleasant,
  3. My expression was a mixture of impatience, amusement and curiosity, or
  4. A pretty even mixture of 1-3 above (my choice for a correct answer).

Anyhow, her notice of my watching her resulted in yet ANOTHER panic brake stop while she gathered herself, then she took another 30 seconds to back up 6 more inches before she decided to bring The Great Parking Saga to a close.  In retrospect, this final maneuver must have been more difficult with the unmistakable heavy air of self-consciousness hanging between us, but since we both knew that her pulling out again would be even more awkward, she kept going.

Honestly, I did my best not to show anger, annoyance, frustration; in fact, I tried to not show any emotion whatsoever, because I didn’t want to offend this woman.  Getting at last out of my car, I walked my daughter into the building for her appointment.  As I walked back to my car, however, I realized that, after all the false starts and jolting stops that marked her parking experience, she had parked her car at a severe angle within the parking space.  Because there was virtually no other cars within 30 feet of our two vehicles, and I had arrived first and pulled in “front-forward,” I had parked pretty much straight between the lines.  Her car, on the other hand, was about 3 feet away from the front of my car, and about 1 foot away from the rear of my car — which made it even more embarrassing as I had to “squeeze” between the cars to get back to my driver’s side door.  

She still sat there, looking straight ahead at nothing in particular, both of us grateful for the lack of eye contact.  What she was waiting for was anyone’s guess (perhaps she was resting), but she worked pretty damn hard to get where she was, and it was clear she wasn’t going anywhere.

I was, though.  I pulled out (it took maybe 4 seconds), and as I left, she still sat there looking straight ahead, not moving.  She may still be sitting there — after all, when you work that hard to get your vehicle parked, you don’t want to leave and waste all that effort.

Which leads me to this question: is backing out of a parking spot in an empty lot THAT hard?

I think the following guide should be used by those drivers who desperately want to back in to a parking spot, yet seem to lack the skills and/or courage to do so.

KEITH’S UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO PARKING

  1. If the parking lot is not busy, pull in — you won’t hit anything backing out later.
  2. If you aren’t very good at reverse parking, pull in — it’s easier to back out than back in for people like you.
  3. If you aren’t in a hurry, or driving the getaway car in a robbery, pull in — you aren’t saving much time anyway.
  4. If other drivers make you nervous, or you don’t like people watching you drive, pull in — because nothing attracts attention like someone who makes multiple, nausea-inducing attempts to back a small car into a large parking space.  In a nearly empty parking lot.  In broad daylight.
  5. If backing in to a parking spot requires more than two attempts or takes longer than 4 minutes, pull in – life is too short to add this kind of stress to your day.

___________________________________

There’s a line from an old Clint Eastwood movie — I can’t remember which one — in which Clint says, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  That goes for men and women, young and old… if you aren’t good at backing into a parking space, please, please, PLEASE: stop.  Admit you can’t do it, and re-discover how easy it is to pull into a parking spot and back out when you leave.  We’ll all be a lot happier.

Until next time… :)

Man vs. Beehive — An April 1 Showdown


by Keith Yancy

April 1, 2012

I have a beehive. 

In fact, I have a very, very large beehive, somewhere within the wall of my living room inside my house.  I’ve been trying to get rid of these uninvited pests for almost three years.  The fact that they’re honeybees compounds the problem, because people generally feel sorry for them (they’re dying due to pesticides) and when I bring up the topic to friends and relatives, I suspect they not-so-secretly think I’m cruel for trying to get rid of them.

I think it’s important to point out that I have nothing against honeybees.  They have never been aggressive, and I appreciate all the bee-related jobs they do.  I just don’t want them in my house, where — in the few quiet moments that occur in a house with three kids — I can hear them through the living room wall.   That, and the fact that they occasionally swarm outside the hive, creating an impressive but massive cloud of bees that even neighbors have stopped to marvel at.

Today, I decided to make a new attempt to get rid of them.  In the past, I’ve tried hiring a beekeeper (none would come to Plymouth due to distance) or poisoning them (both myself and with an exterminator), but nothing worked.  Bees by the thousands, coming and going via a hole in my exterior trim work.  But today, I decided on an entirely new strategy — getting them out by going through the wall in my living room.

It started well.

I began by drilling a 1-1/2-inch hole in the drywall where the hive is located, and immediately stuck a shop-vac nozzle into the hole.  Rather than vacuum them, however, I felt it would be a better idea to start by blowing air into the hive to get them sufficiently active.  This, by my thinking, would help me both blow out some of the bees from the hive, and potentially drive the queen out of hiding — something I’d been trying to do (unsuccessfully) for three years.

So, I blasted this massive beehive with air for a few minutes.  Nothing happened, at least as far as I could make out.  No huge massive cloud of bees left the hive, at any rate.  Eventually, I grew tired of this, so I quickly changed the shop-vac direction to vacuum them out.  This resulted in immediate progress.  I soon found myself with a 16-gallon shop-vac absolutely FULL of angry, swarming bees. 

Once I decided that I’d vacuumed up all the bees, I blocked off the hole, turned off the vacuum, and decided that, for the safety of everyone involved, I’d take the vacuum outside so that there wouldn’t be any stray bees flying around inside my house.  This was nerve-wracking… the vacuum was literally shaking with thousands of angry, vacuumed bees trying to get out to attack.  Anyway, I took the shop-vac outside onto the front lawn.

That’s where my plan began to fall apart.

Because the shop-vac was bulky, heavy and shaking, I somehow put it down on the lawn a bit too roughly, and the top promptly came off.  Not just a little — the top, almost in slow motion — first popped loose, and then inexorably slid off, just as I was trying to let go of each of the side handles.  I suddenly found my face, in fact my entire head, about 4 inches away from several thousand swarming, confused, angry bees.

Any hope that the bees would somehow leave me alone was immediately abandoned.  They came straight for me as I dropped the vacuum and started running.  I can still recall the shrieks of my wife and kids (safely in the house) when they saw what was happening.  Rather than risk getting them stung by trying to immediately run into the front door, however, I sadly thought that I could outrun them.

There’s something quite pathetic about seeing a man running around his own home, waving his arms wildly in the air and shouting, while a large swarming cloud of bees remains somehow perpetually buzzing and swarming all around him.  I was about 20 feet into my failing escape when the bees decided that the yellow gym shorts I was wearing was a good stinging target, and proceeded to take turns stinging me in my behind.  They were not patient nor polite about this, and immediately commenced with stinging my backside multiple times at once. 

I yelled some more as I rounded the garage and headed for the backyard, but they were having no trouble both keeping up with me and stinging me at the same time.  The very air around me was vibrating with their anger.  I remember making it to the backyard deck and going up the stairs, shouting and getting stung every step of the way… and then discovering that the first glass doorwall I tried to open was, tragically, locked. 

I did not stop to reflect on this disappointment.  Instead, I moved to the second doorwall and found it open.  I rushed in, closed the door, and killed off the few bees who chose to follow me inside, as my kids shouted and ran for safer parts of the house.  As I began to take stock of the number of stings I’d collected on my backside, I watched with a new respect as a massive cloud of bees swarmed with fury outside my glass doors, desperately wanting to continue their attack.  It might have been my imagination, but I think some wasps and hornets joined in just for spite.

That was three hours ago.  The current situation is as follows:

  1. The bees have now returned to their hive, inside my wall, angry but otherwise unfazed.
  2. I have a hole in my wall, an empty shop-vac laying on my front lawn, and a pretty large collection of dead bees smashed in various areas of my kitchen.
  3. My family refuses to enter the living room, because of the hole in the wall (which is still temporarily blocked).
  4. My behind has too many bee stings to count.  No, I’m not allergic to bee stings.

In other words, the bees are just fine, while me, my house and my vacuum look like we just lost a battle.  Because we did.

Just in the past 15 minutes, I’ve been contacted by the Distinguished Union of Hivemasters — Wasps, Hornets and Yellow Jackets division (DUH-WHY) regarding opportunities to star in their “How Not-To” series.  As I contemplate this new business opportunity while remove stingers with a mirror and tweezers, I’m thinking about leaving the house to the bees… and maybe the vacuum, too.

Happy April Fools Day.

Until next time… :)

STOP asking me if I want my milk in a bag or not!


by Keith Yancy

Before you read this, be warned: this is the type of mundane, silly post I usually try not to write.

I make a lot of decisions.  Decisions at work.  Decisions at home.  Darn it, I make decisions all the time, about everything from where I stand on abortion to whether or not I should wear the blue or the red tie to work.  Sometimes my decisions are right, sometimes not, but I have learned that being indecisive is a bad habit, and I work hard to avoid it.

In other words, I can make decisions.

But there’s one decision I struggle with all the time, and it’s just flat-out stupid.  Whenever I go to the grocery store and proceed to the check out lane, some grocery store bagger kid will always ask me the same question:

“Do you want your milk in a bag?” 

And, like a politician whose asked a simple-yet-revealing question, I bobble my answer every single time.  In fact, I almost always wind up staring at the kid for a full second or so before I can summon an answer — even though I know — KNOW — that this same silly question is going to be asked of me whenever I’m there.

WHY?  I have pretty good command of the “paper or plastic” question that, 99 percent of the time, is asked about two seconds prior to this one.  I’m proud to say I even once answered this ridiculous question in a job interview: “How many manholes do you believe there are in the United States?” (my answer: a number equal to or greater than the number of manholes.  The interviewer, unlike myself, did NOT like that answer, and no, I didn’t get the job.)

And yet, this mindless “milk in a bag” question seems to find me perpetually mystified.  Not because I care, but precisely because I absolutely, without question, COULD NOT CARE LESS.  It has no impact on the environment (see the “paper or plastic” question above), and it doesn’t make carrying it more or less convenient.  WHO CARES if I get my milk in a bag?  It has a HANDLE right on the jug.  Why can’t you assume that, like every single other item I’m purchasing, I WANT IT IN A BAG?

Or, on the other side of things, why not just assume that I DON’T want my milk in a bag?  After all, one-gallon milk jugs (I buy a lot of them, trust me) always have a handle.  Almost NOTHING else I buy at the grocery store does.  Can’t anyone make a “command decision” and just NOT put my milk in a stupid bag? 

You see, I don’t care.  I just don’t want another decision to make in my day, and that one seems to be the only one I just can’t make.  Not just can’t, don’t WANT to make.  Is it that hard to just make a choice for me?  Or make a policy that says, “Please inform grocery clerk if you desire your milk to be placed in a bag.”  Put up a sign.  Make baggers wear buttons.  Do anything you want, but STOP ASKING me to choose between bagged milk and bag-less milk. 

These sorts of mindless decisions are tipping my mental scales from sanity to insanity, and as you can see, that ain’t takin’ much effort these days.  So STOP.  STOP IT.  Just give me my milk — better yet, SURPRISE ME by taking the initiative to put my milk in a bag.  Or not.  I DON’T CARE!

My secret goal is to get through the checkout using only four words:

1.  “Hello” (I have to be polite, at least)

2.  “Paper” (but I admit sometimes I choose plastic)

3.  “Visa” (because I never have enough cash)

4.  “Thanks” (serves as both gratitude and the implied “goodbye”)

I like grocery store employees.  I really do.  They are usually nice and smile a lot, and I appreciate that.  Most are just kids working through school or for spending money, and I respect that too.  Nothing personal.  In fact, it’s BECAUSE I respect them that I want them to make this call for me — I trust you.  ALL OF YOU!  YOU make the call, and decide whether my milk be bagged or unbagged!  Life is about making decisions, so go ahead and practice by making this decision for me!  PLEASE!

I’m not trying to appear anti-social, grumpy, or hyper anal-retentive, though this post probably proves that I am all three.  I just want to not have to make such a mindless, quotidian decision… and be tormented into writing a mindless, quotidian blog post about it.

Until next time… :)

A Satirical Response from the Pornography Industry about Waterland


by Keith Yancy

I have to admit… I have a good (or, depending upon whether you like me personally or not, bad) habit of poking fun at serious issues.  I do this not because I take issues lightly (I submit my last four blog posts as evidence of this), but because I know from experience that laughter can do so much good for people — reducing anger, restoring perspective, and, in many cases, finding some common ground between strangers.  This blog was originally intended for humor, and while I sometimes talk about serious topics, I still try to keep the blog content upbeat whenever I can.

It was in this spirit that I wrote the following satirical letter below.  Not to make fun of any one person in particular, but simply to show how silly some accusations — particularly narrow-minded ones — can be.  The letter, including the organization from which it is from, is entirely fictional.  (For those who prefer smaller words, the letter below “isn’t real.”)

____________________

TO: PCCS School Board and Superintendent

FROM: Society for the Legitimacy of Approving Pornography (SLAP)

Dear Board Members:

Our organization, the Society for the Legitimacy of Approving Pornography (we like to call ourselves “SLAP” for short), is always on the lookout for new porn to endorse and promote.  As you know, the porn industry is booming, with our material in magazines, as well as on the internet, television, and even radio.  In other words, our “canon” is virtually everywhere.

We at SLAP were very excited to read in the news that there was new material for consideration as pornography in your locality.  After having reviewed Waterland, however, we’re afraid that, after a comprehensive review, we simply cannot endorse this as pornographic material.  This was very disappointing to us, but we felt it necessary to explain why this book was rejected in the event you wish to label more such books as “porn.”

1.  Our first impression was, unfortunately, that this book was pretty dismal as pornographic material.  To put it bluntly, most of our products don’t take 358 pages to, ahem, “tell the story.”  Our target audience typically is looking for content that’s a lot fewer pages than this, usually punctuated with a variety of color photographs.  Though we looked carefully, there were no pictures, diagrams, audio tracks, etc., of any kind in this book.  In fact, the picture on the cover was this:

In a word, HUH?  A kid poking a stick into a river?  Not sure if you’ve seen examples of our materials, but this not only doesn’t compete with the head-turning visuals found in today’s pornography, it’s a “sleeper” by almost any measure.  (NOTE: We apologize for the large, irritating “Booker Prize” stamp obscuring part of the image.  While we admit there could be something titillating or graphic behind the stamp, we can only conclude — based on what’s visible — that this isn’t very pornographic.)

2.  Once we got over Waterland‘s total lack of visual pornographic appeal, we immediately got to work to find all the “good parts,” at least from our perspective.  This was, again, a disappointing experience.   It takes almost 40 pages to even get a remark about anything relating to sex, and only at page 50 or so does it even approach our minimum standards for consideration as porn.  And yet, even then, there’s just not much to work with here.  Even during the book’s most sexually charged parts, any “titillating” effect (trust me, we know what we’re talking about here) is essentially negated by long, detailed explanations of complex relationships, and discussions of people’s ancestors, local history and topography, blah, blah, blah.  To be helpful, consider the following “rule of thumb” about pornography: any story or plot should simply be “filler” for the sexual parts, and preferably as terse as possible.  This book seems to have that entirely reversed — the sexual parts are just part of a much larger, longer, more complicated story.  And that’s just not very good porn.  All this, unfortunately, leads us to our third reason…

3.  Too much of the content has absolutely nothing sexual about it.  Honestly… whether it’s the 20-page beginning that describes (in considerable detail) the ongoing land reclamation in eastern England, to the nine-page description of the migration habits and genetic differences between the American eel and the European eel, to the persistent description of local history — this stuff just doesn’t cut it as pornography.  Eels?  The French Revolution?  Endless references to rivers, boats, sluices, and locks?  Are you kidding?  Not to be disrespectful, but in our esteemed opinion, you don’t know much about pornography.  Anyone who would have to plow through this much material to find the “sexual parts” of the story must be as fixated on the topic as we are, and quite honestly, there’s much richer material elsewhere.

4.  Trying to be diligent, we heard that there was incest in Waterland, so we tried to focus on that.  And we got to it — after we read 220 pages into a 358-page book.  But again, as we feared, there was just not much to work with here.  Yes, there’s a story of incest.  Yes, that subject can appeal to our market.  But again… the delivery is all wrong.  Instead of the graphic depictions being about sex, they seem to be more about bad outcomes of sex — abortion, suicide, etc.  In our profession, these “heavy” topics are utter mood-killers, if you get our meaning.  What’s more, the characters are much more complex and the story is much too involved for our typical readers.  In fact, it doesn’t seem like anyone involved is really having any fun, which is usually the case in our line of work. 

5.  The words themselves, and the style of writing, is just not appropriate for porn.  Let us be blunt: There’s barely any of what we call “foul language” in this book.  A word, here or there, but none of the usual “buzz words” we like to see in our materials.  Good porn uses a lot of sexual phrases and adjectives, and uses them repeatedly.  You, my good people, apparently don’t understand this.  Consider the following:

When you work with water, you have to know and respect it.  When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing.  For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?  

Lest you think we’ve made the mistake of just picking out one passage and glossing over the entire book, we respectfully ask that you review it yourselves… you’ll find that the entire book is positively riddled with similar richness of language and eloquence.   And that, as they say, ain’t porn.

5.  Before we gave up, we looked over the entire book one last time to see if there was anything we could work with, so to speak.  But alas, no.  In addition to detailed descriptions of a history teacher’s final classes, and beer brewing, and the physical properties of water (!), and seemingly endless details about the histories of several families, we eventually gave up.  Way too many themes, stories, symbols, meanings, etc. — and, to top it off, the story has a number of depressing elements, including suicide, a mentally challenged child, heartbreak, floods, wars, mental breakdowns, etc.  We’re not sure what constitutes “titillating” in the Plymouth-Canton area, but for the overwhelming majority of our target market, those themes aren’t much of a turn-on.  Talk about the ultimate “cold shower” — this is the kind of stuff you find in some college-level literature class, not pornography!  In fact, once we read the book, it was clear that any of the parts we could use — and there wasn’t nearly enough of them — were part of a much larger narrative with much deeper meaning than our target audience typically cares to experience.  Porn is all about instant gratification, not hard work; plowing through 358 pages of literature with a highlighter looking for sexual references is, in our opinion, tough stuff — reserved only for censors and those who choose to ignore the literally hundreds of pages of all those “literary” elements.

In closing, while we at SLAP appreciate the fact that good citizens are always looking for new examples of pornography on our behalf, we’re unable to accept the book Waterland as containing significant pornographic material.  In our review, we were obligated to read the entire book and consider it completely, and once done, could not in good conscience admit it to our extensive and accessible canon of materials.  We recommend, as a guideline for any future book reviews you may have, that you look for pornography in places other than college-level literature books.  History, case law, and common sense all indicate that such books rarely satisfy the definition of pornography — “the depiction of sexual behavior that is intended to arouse sexual excitement in its audience.”  As such, we at SLAP regret to inform you that Waterland utterly fails as pornography.

We wish you the best in your future book review processes.

Sincerely,

The Society for the Legitimacy of Approving Pornography (SLAP)

_____________________

Until next time… :)

My kid bet me I couldn’t post about this. So I did.


by Keith Yancy

Yesterday evening, my oldest daughter made a bet with me. 

We were out to dinner, my kids and I, and after one of my kids unwrapped a straw from its wrapper, I rolled it up and put the paper ball on the table.  We were casually talking about my blog when my oldest kid gestured at the now balled-up straw wrapper and said, “you couldn’t blog about that.  There’s nothing interesting about it.”  We proceeded to have a discussion (not a very serious one, admittedly) about whether or not I would write a blog about such a stupid thing.

So, not to let a good challenge go by, this one’s for you, Meredith.  A blog about a rolled up straw wrapper.  For those of you about to give up on this post, however, I say this: I’m going to try to make this interesting by suggesting several short stories — all with the rolled up paper ball as the main subject.  You can decide if my works of fiction (and, in one case, political satire) are interesting or not.  So… here goes.  Feel free to let me know if you’d like me to write more on any of the topics below.

A Children’s Cautionary Tale

Once there was a pine tree.  It was a decent pine tree, as far as pine trees go, growing straight and tall in the forest.  The problem was, however, he grew in the wrong place.  Rather than growing in the middle of the forest, fate had determined that this particular pine tree grew at the very edge of the forest, right where a narrow road passed. 

This tree’s worst nightmare was to be cut down and sent to the paper mill.  One day, just as the sun came up, the sound of chain saws and axes rang through the forest.  The tree was terrified as the lumbermen approached a variety of his neighbors, cutting them down with ruthless efficiency.  The tree trembled in fear as a lumberjack, chainsaw in hand, looked him up and down.

His worst fears were soon realized.  He was cut down, sent to the sawmill, and made into paper products.  Not long after, he found himself wrapped around a straw at a hamburger joint.  He was selected behind the counter, given to a young girl, and soon afterward, peeled off of the wrapper and left on the table.  An older, tired-looking guy rolled what little was left of him into a ball, and later threw him in the garbage.  He found this to be a depressing end of his existence, and realized as he rolled among the garbage that he should have found a better place to put down roots.  THE END.

A Story of Science Fiction

Zorg was fulfilling his intergalactic mission.  He had morphed from an alien into something mundane and nondescript — a paper straw wrapper — and had been stored behind the counter of an earth-based food distribution center of some type.  He blended in perfectly with other wrapped straws; no one suspected anything, and no one discovered him.

Soon, his plan would be carried out — to take over the world.  All that would be necessary would be for someone to add water to his paper-like skin, and he would grow into the fierce, death-spewing alien his home planet knew and respected.  He patiently waited for that magic moment — the moment where he could morph into his true essence and commence conquering this puny, tedious planet and it’s inhabitants.

One evening, he was taken from the box of straws and given to a family.  There were three girls and their father.  All that was needed was water… and he would quickly dispatch these earthlings and get on with wreaking havoc across the planet.  But… there was a complication.  Even after enduring the bitter pain of being torn open and having the straw removed, the family never spilled any water… never got him wet… nothing.  What kind of miracle was this?  Young kids, not spilling water??? Not throwing him, or blowing him across the table with the straw?  This couldn’t be happening!

Zorg’s frustration reached a fever pitch when the older male earthling rolled him into a ball and wrapped him up with some garbage on the table.  Oh, no!  He might not ever get the necessary wetness needed to change into the fearsome alien that would fulfill his destiny!  And then they threw him into the garbage!  He’d never conquer earth now!  Oh, the shame — the embarrassment of failure!  To meet your end — not only on a distant planet, but in a garbage can!  This can’t be happening!  Nooooo!

The Politics of a Straw Wrapper

Democratic view: This straw wrapper should be distributed around the table so that everyone has a piece.  In fact, we may need to borrow a bunch more straw wrappers — even if we have to pay for the extra straws!  It’s just money — we’ll find some later!  Above all else, don’t do what the Republicans want to do — stand your ground!  Government is about helping people — we should try to make sure EVERYONE has access to straw wrappers!  Think about what FDR did for us!

Republican view: This straw wrapper should be kept by the person who earned it!  That person is likely to distribute out parts of his/her straw wrapper to help others create their OWN straw wrappers — using their own initiative and ingenuity!   And see above — don’t “flip-flop” and give in to the Democrats!  They’re the ones that got us into this whole “what do we do with ‘straw wrappers’ mess”!  Don’t you miss the good old days, when you could rightfully keep straw wrappers out of the governments’ greedy clutches?!?!  Channel your inner Reagan!

The Undead Straw Wrapper of Death

The straw wrapper lay on the table, biding it’s time.  That’s because it was actually a transmogrified vampire.  Or maybe a zombie.  Whatever.  It’s dead and it wants to re-animate and attack living creatures, because that’s what vampires and zombies can’t get enough of.  And once that whole re-animation process starts, people will pay $10 per person to watch it at the movies!  After this happens, nobody will ever go near a straw wrapper again!  Or a straw, for that matter!  Who knew a straw wrapper would be the sign of the end of days? 

_________________

Okay, that whole thing was silly, and for anyone still reading, my apologies.  I just wanted to show my daughter that you really can write about anything.  And though that doesn’t guarantee that anyone will read it, it’s a good creative exercise nonetheless.

Until next time… : p

Okay, I got the toaster for Christmas. And now… the rest of the story.


by Keith Yancy

Well, after spending an entire blog post griping about my lousy toasters, my mother went out and gave me (among other items) a brand-new toaster for Christmas.  Thanks, Mom (and Dad, though I suspect he didn’t play a big role in the selection or purchase process).

Anyhow, since I spent so much energy complaining about the old toaster, here’s what happened when I decided to throw out the old Toastmaster “Toaster’s Choice” (!) toaster and replace it with the new version.

9:04AM — The first thing I decided to do, prior to throwing the Toastmaster in the garbage can, was to shake out all the crumbs from the innards of this horrible device.  I’m not sure why, really.  I guess I just wanted to avoid having crumbs go everywhere in the process, so I shook the Toastmaster over the kitchen sink, venting one last defiant rage against an appliance that has created so much frustration for so long.  Of course, a ton of crumbs came out, which I thought was mildly interesting.  What I thought was REALLY interesting, however, was this:

It’s hard to tell from the lousy picture what this is, and at first, I thought it was a bug.  Before I could even think about how I’d been eating non-toast from a bug-infested Toastmaster, however, I realized it wasn’t a bug at all.  In fact, the small object was made of plastic and said “SONY” on it.  Turns out, there was part of an ear bud (from an iPod, I think) that had fallen into our Toastmaster.  I hope baked plastic isn’t too harmful to ingest, because it may have been in there for a long time.

9:05AM — After I stared at the melted ear bud for a few moments, I decided to get on with the process, and threw the ear bud AND the Toastmaster directly into the garbage can.  This felt very, very good and proper.  I stood there gloating over the Toastmaster for a while, letting the feeling of vindication course through my mind, then remembered that there was a benefit to pitching the Toastmaster — the new toaster.  I got it out and put it on the counter.

9:07AM — The first thing I noticed about the new toaster wasn’t the “wide slot” design.  No, the first thing that struck me was the fact that this toaster had neither a name, nor a sappy subtitle like “Toaster’s Choice.”  I looked all over the box, and no name was given.  This was satisfying, though I started to wonder why a toaster that was so good didn’t have a name.  I thought about that for a moment, then decided to check out the advertised features on the box:

9:09AM — Interesting features, I guess.  After all, toasters — whether they have a name or not — are pretty straightforward appliances: they toast.  I thought it was a little presumptuous that they believed they knew exactly how I like my toast (“every time,” no less).  I was intrigued by whatever “Advanced Toast Technology” might be, and after casting a glance at the Toastmaster in the garbage can, concluded that this marked the first time such “Advanced Toast Technology” had graced my kitchen.  Regardless, I was and continue to be ready for whatever “Advanced Toast Technology” has to offer.

9:12AM — Not content with “Advanced Toast Technology,” my new nameless toaster got an added plug on the package: “Sleek, sophisticated and designed for excellent toast.”  Hmm.  I’ve never considered a toaster sophisticated before, but compared to the Toastmaster, virtually anything is sophisticated, so I decided to check my skepticism and go with it.

9:13AM — I opened the cover of my nameless toaster to discover that Oster apparently prepares for their nameless toasters to be dropped from high altitudes.  Given the size and multi-language instructions found in the owner’s manual, they aren’t quite sure where their toasters will land — or how smart the people who they drop their nameless toasters on might be.  Anyhow, being a guy, I did not bother with the owner’s manual.  It’s a toaster!  How hard could this be?

9:15AM — I proceeded to put the now-unwrapped toaster on the counter, plugged it in, and put a piece of bread in one of the new “wide slots.”  After adjusting the toast setting to a “5” (on a 1-7 rating button), I pushed the lever and watched the nameless toaster commence its first toasting mission.  Having not bothered with the instructions, I was surprised that a blue light lit up on the front, indicating that my toaster was, in fact, toasting.  I decided that this must be the “Advanced Toast Technology” I’d read about.

9:16AM — My new nameless toaster is now emitting a strong, pungent chemical smell.  The inner filaments are all alight, and my piece of bread remains inside the toaster (unlike the Toastmaster, as you may recall).  I now avail myself of the instructions to find a warning that says, “Be sure to remove all stickers from your toaster before operation.”  I search the toaster for burning stickers, find none, and let the process continue.

9:17AM — My toast pops up, just as my youngest daughter wanders into the kitchen.  As she looks on, my wife, who is a room away, notices the smell and cheerily says, “Nice chemicals!”  I fish out my chemical-laced toast and put it on a plate.

9:18AM — My daughter looks at the toast, looks at me, and says, “You burnt it, Dad!  You LIKE burnt toast!”  I defended my toast.  I felt a bit indignant, and told her, “It is NOT burnt.  It is BROWN.  That’s how toast is SUPPOSED to be.”  Obviously, when the only toaster she’s ever known is the Toastmaster, it’s understandable that any bread that actually shows signs of being toasted would be a new experience for her.  To prove my point, I eat my chemical toast while she watches, remembering to tell her how good my toast is.

_______________________

In retrospect, it’s nice to have a toaster that TOASTS.  It now occupies the space that the Toastmaster used to occupy in my kitchen, and I’m looking forward to more toast with less involvement in the coming years.  I’ll even forgive the fact that my new toaster is a nameless appliance, in return for keeping ear buds out of the bread slots.  I’m also hoping that my new, sophisticated toaster (with “Advanced Toasting Technology”) makes me a more sophisticated person.  I don’t even care if I eat chemicals from time to time.

Because anything is better than the Toastmaster.

Until next time… :)

A Thank You Letter


by Keith Yancy

NOTE: This thank you letter goes out to my sister and brother-in-law, who I will refer to as “R” and “F” to protect their privacy.  After all, if you were related to me, you know you’d want anonymity too.

R, F,

This thank you note may seem a little strange, in large part because I’m thanking you for something you did for someone else.

But I thought you would like to know that I am grateful for the gift card you gave to my daughter (your niece, obviously) as a birthday present.  She should — and will — thank you personally, but I thought I should send you a note myself.

You see, I’m the type of person who has no problem with gift cards as gifts, especially in today’s times, when busy schedules, distance, and the sheer magnitude of personal choices make choosing a “perfect gift” next to impossible.  But I have often felt that it was the obligation of the person who received the gift to let you know the result of your thoughtfulness.

So… why are you hearing from me, instead of the kid?

This is why:

You may have assumed that your niece would choose a gift that a typical 12-year-old girl might choose.  But… rather than nail polish, or jewelry, or a book, or music, or any number of other things that a pre-teen girl would normally select as her birthday present, your niece chose that.  A Nerf Gun.  And not any sort of pedestrian, single shot, run-of-the-mill Nerf Gun… no, this is a six-shot Nerf Gun revolver.  Complete with six Nerf bullets, fully equipped with suction cups.

Honestly, this gift has been fabulous. 

This is our first Nerf Gun here at home, and has already created family fun and raised the excitement levels (and noise levels) throughout our house.  The girls were having fun with it outside just this morning.  But the real fun began when they showed me the new Nerf Gun.

And that is why I’m writing to you now.  Thank you for giving us (albeit by extension) this new Nerf Gun.  In the course of only 10 minutes, I have done the following:

  1. Shot all three of my children (multiple times)
  2. Shot the dog (ONCE, by accident)
  3. Shot my wife twice (on purpose; the first time was to show that it didn’t hurt the dog, the second to confirm her feelings of not wishing to be shot at in the future)
  4. Trapped one of my children on the landing of our stairwell under a withering crossfire (until I ran out of bullets)
  5. Shot the ceiling of my living room (numerous times)
  6. Shot the walls
  7. Shot the furniture
  8. Shot the piano (and almost got a bullet stuck inside it)
  9. Somehow convinced my kids to continuously fetch the Nerf bullets and return them to me, because I’m too lazy to actually get them myself
  10. Do 1-9 above, all while never actually standing up or exerting myself whatsoever

In other words, this is fantastic.  Or, at least it was fantastic, until the rest of the household decided to relieve me of the Nerf Gun.  I have not seen the Nerf Gun since, though I haven’t yet generated enough motivation to get up and start looking.

I am optimistic about the future of the Nerf Gun, and it’s all because of your gift card.  I think that, with little effort, I could use this exciting product to get people’s attention, encourage them to leave the room, and give them a gentle reminder to do their homework, chores, etc.  I can also use it when the dog barks or otherwise gets on my nerves.  This gun will allow me to get more done with less effort than any tool I’ve received in a long time.

I am also happy to report that, despite relatively little experience with this new Nerf Gun, my aim is rapidly improving.  I envision being able to hit virtually everything I aim at very soon, if only because of what seems to be my endless fascination with this Nerf Gun and it’s uses.

So, again, thank you.  This is another great example of why gift cards are so convenient… you just never know how much benefit such a gift can bring to others.  I secretly feel like it was a gift given to ME… and it’s not even my birthday.

Sincerely,

Your loving brother

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