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DO NOT CALL

7:21 am.
Awakened by phone.
Son’s friend’s mother calling to ask about afternoon playdate despite being told many times before do not call before 8:30 am unless it’s an emergency, especially on a Saturday because that’s the only day I ever get to sleep in.
Tell her to call back after 8:30 am.
Irritated.
Climb back in bed.

7:37 am.
Still awake.
Reluctantly accept fact that chance to sleep-in ruined.
Even more irritated.

7:43 am.
Think of other ways to get the do not call before 8:30 am unless it’s an emergency point across because, clearly, plain English is not working.
Also think a playdate is not an emergency, and sure as Hell isn’t going to happen today.

7:46 am.
Realize this is harsh/unfairly punishes kids for mother’s behavior.

7:54 am.
Fantasize about retaliation/payback.
Wonder if I could live with myself if I called every night for a week at 12:01 to remind her do not call before 8:30 am unless it’s an emergency.

7:56 am.
Accept fact that I could not.

8:01 am.
Try to think of other alternatives.

8:02 am.
Have one idea.

8:08 am.
Post this.

8:09 am.
Go out for extra-large coffee.
Hear phone ring just as door is closing.
Know instantly who it is.

8:10 am.
Think disconnecting phone line may be only option.

BBQ Tips

  • Beef + flame = BBQ.
  • Beef + flame + lots of beer = 2nd degree burns and a clip for “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
  • A grill is the second best way to cook asparagus. But a blast furnace is the best way because it completely incinerates those terrible little stalks.
  • Don’t wear a “Kiss the cook” apron while you BBQ unless you want a drunken friend or neighbor to try to.
  • If a cup of hot coffee has to carry a warning label, why doesn’t a grill? And since it doesn’t, how long before somebody files a class action lawsuit claiming they were burned because they didn’t realize grills get so hot?
  • Not everything can be grilled — like pasta, for example. And although this may seem obvious, to 4-year-olds and drunken neighbors it’s not.
  • If a dog is man’s best friend, a grill runs a close second.
  • There is a difference between well-done and burnt, but only to people who like their steaks well-done. To everyone else — especially lovers of blood and pink — they are both the same: a waste of a perfectly good cut of meat.
  • If you’re cooking with gas, it’s important to the light the grill immediately after turning on the gas instead of running inside to get another drink first.
  • It’s also important not to use lighter fluid.
  • Anyone who says “everything tastes better when it’s grilled” clearly hasn’t eaten at my neighbors.
  • Men like to BBQ for the same reason they like to see stuff blow up.
  • There should be a mathematical formula for calculating the increase in LDL given a steak’s price per pound so that anyone with high cholesterol can ignore their doctor’s advice in an informed manner.
  • George Stephen, creator of the Weber Grill, should be sainted.
  • If there is ever another Civil War, it will most likely have something to do with Texas, Alabama and Missouri claiming to have the best BBQ in the America, and all the other states either taking sides or taking offense, except for Wisconsin, which will remain neutral because they have fish boils instead of BBQ.

KIDS, TV AND THE S-WORD: TIME TO BRING BACK THE NETWORK CENSOR?

One of the most popular feeds on twitter is “$#*! My Dad Says,” which is a collection of the irreverent, biting, very-funny comments 29-year-old Justin’s 74-year-old dad makes. It has close to 1.4 million followers and is being turned into a sitcom by CBS starring William Shatner.

Maybe.

A national family-advocacy group called the Parents Television Council is threatening an “unrelenting campaign” against the show’s advertisers and CBS’s affiliates if the show airs because they don’t like the idea of a show named “$#*! My Dad Says” being on at 8:30 pm.

(They probably don’t like the idea of the show being on at all, as well — these are the same gate-keepers of morality who don’t recommend the new Shrek movie for kids under seven because it includes “toilet humor, with Shrek’s children belching, farting, pooping their pants and urinating on Shrek,” which, as even the most conservative parents know, is exactly what kids under age seven think is funny1.)

It’s not like CBS is actually going to use the s-word in the title, of course; instead, they plan to substitute the all-purpose curse-word stand-in “$#*!”

Which means the problem is… what exactly?

Because CBS broadcasts its programing over the public airwaves, the FCC insists (more or less, depending on who’s in charge) that it and other broadcasters adhere to a higher standard of decency than, say, every other media outlet in the known universe, because there’s a reasonable (though infinitely small) chance some unsuspecting innocent will accidentally turn on the TV and be offended:

CHILD: I just saw something on TV I don’t understand.
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: What was it?
CHILD: It was a promo for a new show called “$#*! My Dad Says.”
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: You saw that on TV!?!?
CHILD: Why? Is that bad?
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: Of course it’s bad: “$#*!” is a swear word.
CHILD: Really? I’ve never heard of that one before.
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: Well… technically “$#*” isn’t a swear word, it’s a substitute for a swear word, but it’s still offensive.
CHILD: Which swear word is it a substitute for?
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT:That’s just it: it could be any one of ‘em — though usually if you think about it you can figure it out.
CHILD: Oh.. now I know.
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT:Exactly. Now you go wash your mouth out with soap while I write a letter to FCC to complain about the way the liberal media is corrupting our youth.

There’s nothing wrong with parents protecting their kids from what they feel are bad influences, but isn’t it kind of silly to make such a big deal out of something like this? If for no other reason than the fact that there probably isn’t a kid left in this country who doesn’t already know the s-word, the a-word and probably the f-word, too.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I know my kids know them because (a) they are sometimes in the car with me when I drive and (b) I think it’s important they have a full and complete grasp of the English language, including words that are inappropriate, which is why I sat them down one night and taught them.2)

Besides, when you think about it, television doesn’t need to be censored because televisions come with a remote control and a power button.

Click.

Click.

Click.

Isn’t that easier than a national boycott?

(That said, remotes can be so confusing and complicated it is possible somebody somewhere can’t turn their TV off, change the channel, lower the volume or remove the annoying on-screen overlay because they haven’t managed to crack the secret combination of input/source buttons even this most basic level of functionality can sometimes require. But that’s the fault of the manufacturer, not the media.)

Rather than being bad, in fact, a situation like “$#*! My Dad Says” is actually good because it’s a potential springboard for a family discussion about the the way personal beliefs shape behavior, and how these truths help us decide appropriate from inappropriate, right from wrong and good from bad.

(Though, admittedly, given the time and effort that kind of thing would involve, a national boycott would probably be easier and less time-consuming.)

So what do concerned parents do about “$#*! My Dad Says”?

Just explain in clear and graphic terms exactly “$#*!” is:  punctuation — because if the fear is that exposed kids will suddenly start slinging obscenities willy nilly, nothing will kill that impulse more quickly than a long, drawn-out lesson in grammar:

PARENT: Have you ever wondered why they use “$,: “#,” “*,” “@” and “!” to denote obscenities instead of, say, a semi-colon?
WOULD-BE FOUL-MOUTHED CHILD: No more, please!
PARENT: Sorry, we can’t stop now: we haven’t discussed your reading assignments from The Elements of Style,  Eats, Shoots and Leaves, and The Mother Tongue yet.
WOULD-BE FOUL-MOUTHED CHILD: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

And as for the show itself, the only reason to ban, condemn or make it the focus on an “unrelenting campaign” is if it isn’t funny.3

Stay tuned.

__________________________________________

1 If anyone should be offended by this it’s parents, because they know from first-hand experience there’s nothing funny about pee, poop or puke, especially when it’s just been splattered all over you.

2 Given the current political climate, I’d venture that liberal households aren’t the only ones where kids are getting an education in vulgarities, either:

CHILD: Where are you going?
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: There’s a Tea Party Rally at the park.
CHILD: What’s a Tea Party?
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: The Tea Party movement is a grass-roots effort whereby patriotic Americans join together to save our country from Obama, Pelosi and the rest of those f-ing liberals.
CHILD: GASP! You said “f-ing.”
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: I know, but it’s not my fault — liberals make me so mad I just can’t control myself.
CHILD: You still have to wash your mouth out with soap though, right?
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: I’ll be glad to, too, ’cause everything that’s happening to our country right now leaves such a bad taste in my mouth, soap would be an improvement.

3 If anything should be banned, condemned, or made the focus of an “unrelenting campaign,” it should be ads for erectile dysfunction that air during shows kids probably shouldn’t be watching with their parents but do, because trying to explain that is really, really uncomfortable.

YOU CAN'T SPELL SHIH TZU WITHOUT S- H- I- AND T

HOUSEGUEST: Mind if I bring my dog?
HOMEOWNER: To our house?
HOUSEGUEST: He’s not any trouble. You won’t even know he’s there.
HOMEOWNER: Is he housebroken?
HOUSEGUEST: Of course.

When it comes to pets, there seem to be two kinds of people: those who believe being housebroken is an either/or proposition — either a dog goes outside when he needs to do his business, or he’s not housebroken — and those who favor a more Zen-like interpretation, where “housebroken” is more journey than destination, a path to potty enlightenment that every dog must travel at its own speed, peeing and pooping along the way as the need arises.

As you would expect, the latter position is most often adopted by those who think of their dogs as their children, and they are usually as unapologetic when their “baby” has “an accident” as a real parent is when the same thing happens to their child.

The problem is that when a child poops or pees, it’s in his pants; when a dog poops or pees, it’s on the bedspread in the bedroom.

HOUSEGUEST: Sorry.
HOMEOWNER: I thought you said he was housebroken?
HOUSEGUEST: He is.
HOMEOWNER: Then why didn’t he go outside?
HOUSEGUEST: Everybody has accidents. He probably just got excited.

How do you react to this kind of situation?

There seem to be two kinds of people in this case, too: those who understand that “shit happens,” and when it does the only thing you can do is grab some paper towels and clean it up, and those who want to know who’s gonna pay for the new mattress.

(And, unfortunately, you won’t know which camp you fall into until it happens to you.)

WHEN YOU'RE EXHAUSTED

…the answer is “NO!,” regardless of whether the question was “Are you up- set?” or “Can I go to the potty?”

…you call your kids by the wrong names. Or worse – by the dog’s.

…simple things become infinitely complicated, to the point where microwaving chicken nuggets takes an hour.

…you can’t remember if it’s your day to do the pick-up, and if you think it is, it isn’t, and if you think it isn’t, it is.

…you try to play hide ‘n’ seek but fall asleep in the upstairs hall closet.

…your spouse is “in the mood” and doesn’t understand why you’re not.

…somebody throws up, bleeds on something, or has “an accident.”

…non-parents suggest you just put the kids to bed early and get some sleep, but you’re too tired to tell them what a massively stupid and unrealistic idea that is.

…telemarketers call every few minutes asking you to donate.

…helping your kids with their homework proves so stressful and challenging, it makes you cry, even though it’s just addition.

…you don’t realize you’re yelling at your kids until everybody else in the supermarket aisle starts to stare.

…you push on, because you’re a parent and that’s what parents do.

THINGS NOT WORTH SWEARING AT

  • Rain.
  • Zippers.
  • Things that won’t fit in suitcases.
  • Politicians
  • Scotch tape.
  • The person in front of you at Starbucks who can’t decide between a mocha frappuccino and a cinnamon dolce latte.
  • A computer – because even though it seems like it knows when you’re having a bad day and chooses that exact moment to crash, it’s just a glorified toaster. (Why doesn’t somebody develop some kind of curse-recognition software to replace online help? – i.e. the way you say “Damn it!” determines what kind of help you get.)
  • Traffic.
  • Stop lights.
  • Delivery vehicles that double-park.
  • Tire jacks.
  • Bus drivers – aside from the fact that they’re encased in a sound-proof – and seemingly sight-proof – cocoon, they don’t care.
  • Maps.
  • Speed bumps.
  • Street signs.
  • Stairs (both the invisible one at the top of the landing and the non-existent one at the bottom).
  • Pants that won’t button.
  • Toys that get left in the driveway.
  • Rakes.
  • Pets (especially hamsters, who are too stupid to understand, dogs, who get their feelings hurt and cats, who get revenge).
  • TV remotes.
  • Automated telephone helplines – the only thing that happens is you get stuck in a loop where you say “Screw you!” and the computer says “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Could you repeat that please?” and no matter how angry you are you can’t outlast the computer, so you’re the only one who suffers.
  • God (even if you sometimes feel justified).
  • People on TV.
  • Coaches, refs and players on Monday Night Football.
  • Little League Umpires.
  • The cable guy.
  • Anyone who messes up your order at the drive-thru.
  • Anyone in customer service.
  • Anyone with a name tag that says “Asst. Manager.”
  • Tour guides.
  • A fetus that won’t stop kicking in the middle of the night.
  • A spouse that won’t stop kicking in the middle of the night.
  • The Post Office.
  • The DMV.
  • Pre-schoolers – because if they don’t cry, they gasp and say “You said a bad word!” and then repeat it the next day at school.
  • Teachers – imagine having to tell your kid he or she has to repeat 3rd grade because the parent-teacher conference you had last week got really, really ugly?
  • The other cable guy who comes to fix the problem the first cable guy couldn’t fix
  • Anything you stub your toe on.
  • Congress – because unless you’re making a major campaign contribution or have a radio show that reaches 20 million people they can’t hear you.
  • Your boss.
  • Your spouse’s boss – because if you yell at your boss and get fired, you have only yourself to blame, but if you yell at your spouse’s boss and he or she gets fired, you not only have yourself to blame but your spouse has you to blame, too, and if you think it took a long time to be forgiven for, say, denting the car, imagine how long you’ll suffer for this!
  • Your parents.
  • Your irons, putter and sand wedge. (But not, oddly enough, your woods because swearing at them does actually seem to help.)
  • Bills.
  • Yourself.
  • Fate/providence/karma.
  • Life.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good when you do.

RULES FOR FUTURE HOUSEGUESTS

  1. Don’t make yourself at home.
  2. If you stay longer than invited, you will not be asked to come back.
  3. Ever.
  4. There is no maid.
  5. Seriously — NO MAID, which means whichever host you are related to, or knew first, will end up cleaning up after you (though probably not until after a long, ugly argument).
  6. If you bring a pet, make sure your pet is housebroken.
  7. On second thought, no pets.
  8. When we say “if you need anything, just ask,” we don’t expect you to take us up on it.
  9. But if you really do need something, we’d prefer if you would let us find it for you rather than snooping looking for it in our drawers, closets, cabinets, etc. yourself.
  10. Pottery Barn rules apply: you break it, you buy it.
  11. This rule applies to kids, too.
  12. If you forget your toothbrush, razor, underwear or prescription anti-depressants, please don’t borrow ours.
  13. Just because you walk around naked at home doesn’t mean you should do that here, if for no other reason than seeing you naked will forever change our impression of you, and probably not for the better.
  14. Please refrain from discussing politics, religion or anything else unless you are certain your views are in line with ours, or that we like to argue.
  15. You know that ugly piece of art we have on the wall in the living room? We don’t think it’s ugly.
  16. On a related note, you know the voice you use when you don’t want anyone to hear you? We can still hear you.
  17. Please keep in mind that we invited you, not members of your extended family.
  18. Flush.
  19. And knock.
  20. If you don’t think you can abide by these rules, stay home.
  21. Unless you are family.
  22. And then only come during the holidays, when we are more likely to be forgiving.
  23. And which only come once a year.

HOW TO NOT OVEREAT ON THANKSGIVING

With a single Thanksgiving meal packing a full day-and-half’s worth of calories, it’s easy to see why so many of us find ourselves slumped on the sofa in front of the TV after everyone has gone home, groaning, bloated, unable to move and wondering why we feel so bad.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to prevent this kind of excess on Thanksgiving: go vegan.

While many can’t imagine Thanksgiving without turkey, gravy and sausage-based stuffing, that’s the whole point: if you fill your table with stuff you don’t like and normally wouldn’t ever eat, you can’t possibly eat too much.

True, nut roll, tempeh and all-the-vegetables-you-can-eat might not sound very appealing to some, but keep in mind that you can still booze it up.

(And while that, too, may leave you slumped on the sofa in front of the TV after everyone has gone home, you won’t be groaning, bloated, unable to move and wondering why you feel so bad, you’ll just be passed out).

Gobble. Gobble. Gobble.

Editor’s note: What if you’re already vegan? Do just the opposite: go un-vegan. Not only will the shock of all that animal flesh make you instantly sick — and therefore unable to overeat — throwing up at the table will also help your friends and family because the sight, sound and smell of your vomit will likely cause them to vomit, too, and then nobody will be able to eat, let alone overeat.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE DMV

  • Even if you are the first person in line, first thing in the morning, you will end up waiting an hour and a half.
  • Anything that can be screwed up will be screwed up.
  • Just because you are half-blind, senile, psychotic or drunk doesn’t mean you can’t renew your license — though if you’re half-blind you’ll have to take the vision test.
  • The fact that you’re supposed to take a number when you walk in only confuses the people in front of you who never learned to count.
  • Instructions are in Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Cambodian, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somalian, Spanish, Turkish, Thai and Vietnamese, but stupidity seems to be the same in any language.
  • If your car gets stolen, it is likely the person who stole it is waiting in line in front of you.
  • Saying you “work at the DMV” is kind of misleading – a more accurate description would be to say you “do as little work as you possibly can so you don’t get fired from the DMV.”
  • No matter how fat you are, there will be a woman ahead of you who weighs at least 100 pounds more than you do. (This may be the one positive thing about the DMV.)
  • One couple waiting in line will get into a huge, screaming argument.
  • One couple waiting in line will dry hump each other until a DMV employee asks them to stop.
  • Somebody will video this couple and post it on Youtube.
  • If you think a set of instructions are so simple even a moron could follow them, the moron in line in front of you will prove you wrong, and require up to 25 minutes of redundant, repetitive picture-based explanation before he or she realizes you can’t just take the driver’s test and get a license, you must actually pass it first.
  • If you accidentally marked “A” even though you know the answer is “None of the above,” you still have to re-take the test.
  • If the fee is $25 and you only have $23, you are $2 short no matter how many times you say “Please” or “Couldn’t you just cut me a little slack?”
  • Even if there are 50 open seats, somebody will sit down right next to you.
  • The person who sits down next to you will make you consider leaving and coming back tomorrow, even if you have already waited two hours and are next in line.

DIRTY SECRETS

If it’s the cleaning lady’s job to clean the house, why do we always pick up before she comes?

(Usually just before she comes, too, with one of the kids stalling her in the foyer as we scramble to de-clutter the upstairs.)

It would be one thing if we were motivated by conscience, believing it unfair to have her clean everything, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Are we worried she’ll realize we’re really just a family of slobs?

She can probably tell that already, thanks to dishes that occasionally end up under the bed and the collection of crumbs, coins and God-knows-what-it-is she regularly unearths from beneath the sofa cushions.

Do we think she’ll tell the H.O.A. how much more disgusting our house is than, say, the neighbor’s down the street?

(It is, but only because they have no kids.)

Or do we just not want anyone — even the cleaning lady — to find out how much of our lifestyle is an illusion, and that the only parts we have the energy to maintain week in, week out, are the ones that other people see?

(And if this is the case, is it a valid reason to switch to a cleaning service that relies on a small, anonymous army that moves too quickly for any one that’s a part of it to form any kind of impression of what a stye the house usually is?)

FACEBOOK ANXIETY SUPPORT GROUP

  • What do you do if you just don’t get it?
  • Does that mean you’re hopelessly out of touch?
  • Or that you have better things to do?
  • If you do sign up now, doesn’t that mean the whole thing is that much closer to being uncool? And that everybody under 25 is already moving on to something else?
  • What if you sign up and nobody wants to be your friend?
  • What if you sign up and nobody wants to be your friend except people you don’t want to be friends with?
  • If somebody invites you to be their friend but you have no idea who they are, should you still accept?
  • And if you don’t accept, should you explain why?
  • Will they hate you?
  • If somebody doesn’t accept your friend request, should you take it personally?
  • If you do take it personally even though you haven’t talked to the person in 10 or 15 years, is that strange?
  • What if your boss wants to be your friend?
  • Or your creepy neighbor?
  • Or the person who got drunk at the last neighborhood block party and tried to hit on you?
  • If you sign your parents up because you think they will get a kick out of it but then they start posting updates you find embarrassing, stupid or just a huge waste of time, will they cut you out of their will if you unfriend them?
  • If you run into somebody you’ve unfriended at the supermarket, do you have to ignore them?
  • Will they ignore you?
  • When you create your profile, should you make it public or private?
  • If it’s public, how much personal information should you share?
  • If it’s private, how much personal information is too much personal information?
  • Can you exaggerate?
  • Is everybody else exaggerating?
  • If you look at the photos of your friends from high school to see if they are fatter than you are before including your own photo, does that make you a shallow person?
  • If you look at the photos of your friends from high school to see if they are fatter than you are before photoshopping your own photo, does that make you a bad person?
  • If you don’t post very often, will your friends think you’re just too boring?
  • If you post all the time, will your friends think you’re just too bored?
  • What if your updates are stupid?
  • What if your updates are pointless?
  • What if your updates are way too long and personal?
  • What if nobody ever responds to your posts? Ever? Does that mean you’re a loser?
  • Or just offline?
  • What if you just don’t want to tell everyone what you’re doing?
  • If you are pissed off about something and/or drunk and you respond to a friend’s post with an update that’s mean-spirited or cruel, can you just send them an e-mail to say you’re sorry?
  • Or do you have to make the apology public, too?
  • Where does it all end?
  • If you reluctantly sign up for Facebook, how long before you then have to sign up for Twitter?
  • And if have no time for Facebook updates, how are you going to find time to tweet?
  • What is a tweet, anyway?
  • At what point does all this social networking become too much for anyone to keep up with?
  • Have we reached that point already?
  • And if we have, could somebody please go to Facebook or Twitter and say so?

THHE ABC(DC)'S OF H1N1

  • More people are worried about H1N1 than will ever contract H1N1.
  • No matter how often you wash your hands, avoid public places and keep six feet from anyone who looks sick, somebody you know won’t, and that’s who you’ll catch it from.
  • The same health experts who remind us that H1N1 isn’t really that much worse than the regular seasonal flu remind us that the regular seasonal flu kills 36,000 every year, so we should still get vaccinated.
  • None of which matters since there’s no vaccine right now anyway.
  • That said, if you’re one of those people who won’t get the vaccine when it’s available because you think it will give you the flu, you won’t get the shot and you won’t get the flu.
  • If you’re one of those people who thinks that people who won’t get the shot because they think it will give them the flu are stupid, you’ll get the shot and you’ll get the flu, confirming their suspicions. (Though you won’t have contracted H1N1 from the vaccine, you’ll have gotten it from the person in front of you at the flu shot line.)
  • This is an actual recommendation for preventing the spread of H1N1: “If you do have swine flu, do your best to stay out of the emergency room, doctor’s office or urgent-care center.” So where are sick people supposed to go? (Besides — depending on their politics — their Congressperson’s office or the lobby of their health insurance provider.)
  • There is one benefit to H1N1: employers are actually encouraging employees to stay home if they’re not feeling well, which is particularly good to know given the fact that the symptoms of H1N1 are exactly the same as a bad hangover, and the holidays are coming up.
  • Given how freaked out people are about H1N1, you’d think you could get infected just by reading about it.
  • On the other hand, nobody has said you can’t.

The end.

OVERHEARD AT THE WHITE HOUSE

POLLSTER: I’m sorry to be the one to say this, Mr. President, but we have a problem.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: What is it now?
POLLSTER: It’s your wife.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Michelle?
POLLSTER: Yes.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No way! Michelle is great. Michelle is awesome. I love Michelle. Michelle is the best thing that ever happened to me.
POLLSTER: Yes, of course she is.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Then what’s the problem?
POLLSTER: You’re making other husbands look bad.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Because I take my wife on dates? Or say nice things about her in public? Or treat her with the respect and admiration she deserves?
POLLSTER: Yes.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: What’s wrong with that?
POLLSTER: Nobody else does it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Then maybe they should? In fact, maybe we should add that to our list of priorities?
POLLSTER: Yes, Mr. President, but before we do I should point out that polls suggest we might want to focus on the economy, education, national healthcare, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan, first.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Because people think they’re more important?
POLLSTER: Because people think they’re easier.

Y RU IR8?

It’s easy to get mad at bad drivers, but sometimes there’s a simple explanation for why somebody stops at a green light, or makes a left hand turn from the far right lane, or just blatantly cuts you off.

(Besides being too tired to see straight because they have kids who still won’t sleep through the night.)

Where the ’70s had custom paint jobs, the ’90s had vanity plates. And even though they’ve become something of a cliche, they’re still an accurate way of understanding what a driver is thinking.

Why is the guy in the vintage car you’re stuck behind going 20 mph under the speed limit? Because he’s “N2PL8Z” not “N2 DRVNG.”

Why did that teenager just sideswiped your neighbor’s mailbox? “I♥TXTNG.”

And why is the Nascar wannabe in the 2007 Dodge Challenger next to you at the stop light revving his engine? Because he’s “2FAST4U” (though, unfortunately for him, not 2FAST4 the highway patrol car waiting behind the overpass up ahead.)

But as good as vanity plates are, they’re not nearly as insightful as bumper stickers.

If it’s “EARTH FIRST!” that means it’s good driving second, which easily explains why that bio-diesel conversion that smells like a giant french fry is driving the wrong way down a one way street.

Not to be too political, but if you’ve ever been driven off the road by a convoy of protesters racing to their next rally, you know that just because somebody’s “PRO LIFE” or “PRO CHOICE” doesn’t mean they’re pro-stop sign, pro-”Do Not Pass” or pro-speed limit.”

And while “MEAT IS MURDER,” running somebody over is just vehicular manslaughter, which is why that emaciated 20-something in the vintage Volvo seems more concerned with finding the only Vegan restaurant in town than looking out for pedestrians.

Not that anyone is perfect, of course, but why call attention to yourself?

It’s great to “PRACTICE RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS,” but not for every single driver who wants to cut in.

WHAT WOULD SCOOBY DO?” He’d let Fred drive because he’s too stoned.

And if we’re supposed to “CALL 1 800 EAT-SHIT” to lodge a complaint, how can we do it from the car if we’re not allowed to use cellphones anymore?

Still, as irritating as other drivers can be, it’s not like we can just walk away.

FORECLOSURE ETIQUETTE

  1. No gloating.
  2. If you must ridicule your neighbors for being stupid enough to get an adjustable rate mortgage, do so in private.
  3. And before you do ridicule your neighbors in private for being stupid enough to get an adjustable rate mortgage, check your own mortgage to make sure you didn’t do the exact same thing.
  4. Keep in mind that while neighbors should try to help each other out in times of trouble, this does not mean you should offer to buy their almost-new home theater set-up for 10 cents on the dollar. (Unless they are moving out of the area, in which case, go for it.)
  5. To get back any tools, toys or lawn furniture you’ve loaned them, take the indirect approach. Start by saying, “Oh, say, did we ever return that lawn aerator we borrowed? We should both probably check our garages, just to make sure nothing gets left behind.”
  6. Don’t drop off a tuna casserole. They are not infirmed.
  7. Do bring liquor.
  8. If you’re so inclined, pray (for them, not that the same thing won’t happen to you).
  9. If your kids ask you why the neighbors are losing their house, just say “They’re not losing their house – it’s right there where it’s always been.” And then tell them to get ready for bed before they ask a lot of questions that even the world’s foremost economists couldn’t fully explain.
  10. If anyone from outside the neighborhood asks what happened, lie and tell them the neighbors are trading up, relocating for business, downsizing and moving to a small town in Ohio, getting divorced, etc. – anything but the fact they’re being foreclosed on, as that information could have a negative effect on property values.
  11. Always remember that it could just as easily have been you.
  12. And still might be.

WHAT HGTV TEACHES YOU ABOUT HOME

  • The most popular styles in America aren’t “Modern,” “Georgian,” “Mediterranean” or “Neoclassical,” they’re “It may not go with anything else but it’s really comfortable” and “We can’t throw it away because it was Grandma’s.”
  • More often than not, people who are certain their friends and family love their unique sense of style find out the exact opposite is true when cameras are rolling, and that their style makes others want to vomit.
  • Women are to closets what men are to garages.
  • Everybody has at least one thing in their house that they can’t get rid of, even though it’s ugly and doesn’t fit in, because it was a gift.
  • Everybody has at least one thing in their house that they can’t get rid of, even though it’s ugly and doesn’t fit in, because they like it.
  • Everybody has at least one thing in their house that they can’t get rid of, even though it’s ugly and doesn’t fit in, because their spouse likes it, in which case they just pretend it doesn’t exist.
  • Or they get divorced.
  • Everybody has at least one thing in their house they just don’t fix (even though it probably wouldn’t take that much time or money). And the longer it goes unfixed, the more they get used to it. To the point where they don’t think it’s at all strange, for example, that the only way to get to the backyard is by climbing out through the kitchen window because the key broke off in the lock years ago and jammed the backdoor.
  • Anyone who knows exactly what’s in their hall closet is more organized than 99% of the country.
  • Or they’re moving and it’s empty.
  • Most people are shocked to learn their HVAC unit has a filter that needs to be cleaned and/or replaced every year or so, and that this filter is really the only thing keeping the air clean.
  • Even anal, persnickety neat-freaks have a junk drawer.
  • Nobody thinks their home remodeling project will take twice as long and costs 50% more than the original estimate, even though every remodeling project that’s ever been done has taken twice as long and cost 50% more than the original estimate.
  • Nobody thinks it’s their fault, either.
  • Everybody has unrealistic expectations about how much house they’ll get for their money — this was true before the housing bust, and it’s still true now, mostly because as much as prices have dropped, they still haven’t dropped to the point where a $2.5 million mansion costs under $179,000.*
  • Even somebody moving from a yurt to a 3500 sq. ft. 5 bedroom house would find one of the bedrooms “too small.”
  • When it comes to complaining about doing laundry, distance doesn’t matter: it’s just as inconvenient to go “all the way to the laundromat” as it is to go “all the way downstairs.”
  • It’s not just easier to move than to clean out the garage/basement/attic, it’s less stressful.
  • Just because somebody has a gourmet kitchen they never use doesn’t mean they don’t need a gourmet outdoor kitchen they won’t use, too.
  • On any given home improvement project, there will be a tense moment between spouses, partners or various members of the interior design staff, but the ones on TV never result in divorce or a lawsuit, and by the time the project is completed everyone involved is the best of friends.
  • This doesn’t happen in real life.
  • Anybody can make a room look bad, but only a professional interior designer will charge you $125 an hour to do it.
  • If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, why isn’t everything at the flea market more expensive?
  • If you have two ugly ceramic plates or bowls or figurines that you don’t know what to do with (and for some reason can’t get rid of), and you stick them on a shelf somewhere you think nobody will see them, everybody will see them, and worse, they will assume you collect them and start giving you more of them as gifts.
  • The secret to a happy marriage is to have the exact same sense of style as your spouse. Otherwise, the furniture you’re fighting over in the store is the very same furniture you’ll be fighting over in divorce court a few years later.
  • If the Health Department had jurisdiction over homes, every kitchen in the country would be shut down and the owners would be fined thousands of dollars for unsafe food handling, improper storage, improper preparation and varying degrees of infestation — and yet, when we drop something on the floor of the restaurant, we leave it; when we drop something on the floor at home, if it’s been there less than three-seconds we dust it off and eat it.

*Not yet, anyway.