The key to a happy life

People often ask me why I’m so happy all the time, so I’ll tell you. The key to a happy life is negative thinking. If you are able to expect worse than the worst, then anything is a postive surprise. It works like this:

  • Taking a shower: Expect boiling acid to squirt out of the showerhead when you turn it on. That way, when you turn the whatever it’s called and freezing water comes out, or scalding water, or rusty water or just a trickle, or a gecko you’re all, Yay! No boiling acid! Geckos are so pretty!

  • Driving to work in the first snow of the year that takes everyone by surprise so they’re risking it with their summer tires and having wrecks right and left: Expect to get in a pileup yourself, then sit for hours waiting for a tow truck until you pee your pants because you’re trapped inside your crushed car and can’t get out to take a leak. That way, when you’re stuck in a traffic jam for half an hour until some car gets towed away, you’re all, Yay! It wasn’t me! I mean, poor crunched SUV!
  • Job interview: not sure about this one yet. Job interviews seem to be as bad as it gets.
  • PTA meeting: same with this one. Although I have exercised my negative imagination for decades now, I still can’t come up with anything more mortifying than meeting with the anserine parents of the little savages who attend school with my wonderful little girl, especially combined with meeting with her blockheaded teacher and the patronizing school principal. One could go in there expecting raving space monkeys wearing red-hot battle suits to come swarming out of the blinking fluorescent lights in the ceiling atop rabid foaming flying fanged robot ponies with angle grinders for phalli fucking everyone there in the head and after five minutes, only five minutes of “well of course I don’t know what I’m talking about with the poking pencils in the eyes, if they really poked them actually in the eye then there’d be blood wouldn’t there? but I have two boys of my own and boys will be boys and if they get out of hand maybe someone needs to I heard of a principal in one school who locked a naughty kid in a broom closet and spanked him maybe kids need to know who’s boss I think the teacher is doing a marvelous job” and “now, now, now of course the kids can’t go anywhere on recess they’re still landscaping the playground that problem will solve itself they’ll just have to sit motionless in their seats for a few more weeks that will take care of itself let me illustrate the situation with this children’s book about a school where all the animals learn things, see here’s a picture of what’s this a picture of can you see it it’s a picture it’s a horse trying to climb a tree now what’s that tell you and here’s the owl…” and “well maybe your kid needs perfect silence to learn something, my kids are robust” and after only five minutes of this, although of course you’re subjected to over an hour of it, you’re thinking, “What’s taking the goddamn space monkeys?”

How to be eaten by a tiger

First, you go into the woods with your small child. You have to go at just the right time of day, late afternoon, and you must make no sound; you might have to remind the child to be quiet, no talking.

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Convergent evolution

There has been some discussion of late about the convergence of technological doodads such as um e-mail, instant messaging and blogging. Or, as I mentioned to Beta in the car this morning, telephones and television. “Who would ever want that? Why would anyone want to do that?” she said. “Like, call-in shows, you know. Used to be you wanted to make a call, you used the phone screwed onto the wall in the kitchen or went to a phone booth. Now they have that personality test show where people call in with their cell phones.” “What people?” “You have a point, don’t they have an internet connection?” “Right. Like, I’m an armadillo.” “No fooling?” “Yep. And some African love-goddess.” “Alright.”

But what I’m really wondering about as regards this trend towards technological convergence is when all the blue gels I use every morning will become a single product. Toothpaste, hair gel, shampoo, shower soap, shaving cream and non-dairy creamer in a single environmentally-friendly pump can. Technology is my friend.

Live from a glass box over the Thames

Exit polls at the cottage cheese vote indicate a strong likelihood that I’ll be eating the cottage cheese tomorrow. In order to prepare my stomach for possible food poisoning, Beta and I listened to a cassette we found in the clown car while driving into Vienna this morning. Said cassette has a picture of the band on the front, four or five grown men in Lederhosen, and is filled with music to match. Mucho accordeon, yodeling and a clarinet doing klezmer-style scales.

My throat is still sore from going “yee-haw” very loudly, and repeatedly, in traffic, to Beta’s apparent shock and amusement. That is what you do when you hear that sort of music, you see.

Bring on the cheese.


[Setting: small office lined with files, some so old that they have housed generations of insects. A man sits at a desk, eating a tangerine.]

Man: Gosh, I like tangerines. [Takes a sip of some fancy new water-like beverage with herbal essences that swear they'll perk him up]
Slow woman: [Passing in hallway, stops and parks herself in doorway] Not taking a lunch break today?
M: Oh, no, no, I’m taking a break. I walked down to the store and bought some stuff. [Thinks: In fact, I left the office after you, made it to the store, completed my shopping and got back here before you even arrived at the store...]
SW: Ah. I’m not eating anything today.
M: Ah.
SW: Yep. Just water and tea.
M: Water and tea.
SW: Yep, I have a doctor’s exam this evening after work.
M: Ah, exam.
SW: Yep. Having a gastroenterological endoscopy done.
M: [Desperately trying to rein in his visual imagination, which discovers to his dismay is far more vivid than he'd thought] sigh [stops peeling next tangerine]
SW: Yep. [Pats stomach] Been having a little trouble.
M: …
M: Ah. I see. [Phone rings. Man thanks Alexander Graham Bell] Hang on a sec.
M: Hello? [dial tone. Man wonders if desperate thoughts can trigger electrical devices, briefly considers faking a conversation, hangs up]
SW: [Who had been getting ready to leave] Gastritis, maybe.
M: Gastritis, of course. Hope everything is okay, anyway.
SW: We’ll see. Sure am hungry, boy.
M: Well.
SW: Better get back to work.
M: Have fun!

Standing on my head

Leaving Nordstrom

Posted in Pain Suit