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HONEST RSVPs

When it comes to RSVPs, there are typically two choices:

I/we ___ will attend.
I/we ___ will not attend.

Unfortunately, those don’t account for the true range of likely responses, and could easily be expanded:

I/we ___ will attend.
I/we ___ will attend under protest.
I/we ___ will attend but only for a few minutes before going to the party I/we really want to go to.
I/we ___ will attend but be too exhausted to socialize.
I/we ___ will attend if anyone else I/we like will attend.
I/we ___ will attend, but on the wrong night.
I/we ___ wasn’t invited, but will attend anyway.
I/we ___ will not attend.
I/we ___ will not attend unless the two other parties I/we want to go to that night get cancelled.
I/we ___ will not attend unless I/we run into the host at the store and he/she says “Did you get the invitation? So many people have backed out this year I’m really, really counting on you to attend,” in which case I/we will attend.
I/we ___ will not attend ever, so stop inviting us. I/we mean, seriously, WE NEVER ATTEND. Don’t you get the picture?
I/we ___ will not decide to attend or not attend until just after you’ve firmed up your guest list, nor will I/we be the least bit bothered by how much trouble this causes the host.

CHARLIE SHEEN: ROLE MODEL

KID: Are we gonna watch “Two and a Half Men?
PARENT: No.
KID: Why not?
PARENT: Because we never watch “Two and a Half Men.”
KID: But I want to see Charlie Sheen.
PARENT: Why? Because he supposedly trashed a hotel room with a hooker?
KID: What’s a hooker?
PARENT: Never mind. The point is: bad behavior should have consequences.
KID: It does: higher ratings.*

*If half of parenting is threatening kids when they’re about to act inappropriately and the other half is punishing them when they do anyway, what’s a parent to do when the specter of public shame and humiliation not only stops being a deterrent, but is a legitimate pathway to fame and fortune?

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO WOULD-BE PARENTS?

“So… what’s it like having kids?” the would-be parent asks.

“It’s great,” you say, “Having kids is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. They’re a lot of work, but when you see the way they smile and laugh and take in the world, it’s definitely worth it.”

And then maybe you chuckle and offer to let them stay over and take your kids for a weekend “test drive,” knowing they probably won’t but hoping they will so you and your spouse can get away for that “romantic weekend” you’ve been talking about since pretty much your kids were born (with the term “romantic” being parent-code for “getting some sleep and being able to watch pay-per-view movies all the way through, in one sitting, without being interrupted a dozen times because ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘I had an accident’ or ‘I spilled jam on the carpet,’ etc.”).

You may suggest these would-be parents pick up a movie or two, too. But while many recommend something like “Parenthood”1 for its funny and touching insights into the ups and downs of, well, parenthood, there’s another movie that gives a fuller and more complete picture: 1970s horror classic “The Exorcist.” Here’s why:

Demonic possession is just another name for a weekday morning.

As every parent knows, at random and unpredictable intervals, your little angel will wake up snarling and nasty like a beast from Hell. Foul-mouthed? Before you even get through the door to say “Good morning, I made you breakfast,” you find yourself assaulted with “GET OUT! Can’t you see I’m sleeping? You always wake me up like this. I hate you. I hate you. I HATE YOU.”

And their appearance? Definitely something unholy (though, to be fair, not because they’re suddenly sporting horns, scales and some grotesque demon pig-nose, but because nobody looks good when they don’t shower for three days – why is personal hygiene such a difficult concept for kids to get, anyway?).

As for being able to crawl across the ceiling? Well… maybe not the ceiling, but when you consider the gravity-defying ways kids flip around in their beds while they sleep, it’s not such a stretch to think they might some- how end up on the ceiling.

Green puke? How about orange puke, yellow puke and blue puke, too?

It’s not called “The Technicolor Yawn” for nothing, something parents usually find out fast. Often, these multi-colored hues can be traced back to two types of foods: foods consumed in excess, like artificially-flavored fruit punch, Halloween candy and birthday cake; and foods consumed under protest such as salad, non-breaded fish, and brussels sprouts (with the eventual volume of puke increasing exponentially if you happen to say something like “I don’t care if you don’t like it. Nobody ever threw up eating brussels sprouts, so finish your plate!” first).

You know a child’s head can’t spin completely around… but a 5-year-old doesn’t.

And no matter how quickly the parent dashes into the other room to get the phone or answer the door or shut the oven off before dinner burns, it’s five seconds more than the 5-year-old needs to twist the 2-year-old’s head around to the point where it’s about to snap. “But we were just playing owl,” the child protests.

You don’t need an exorcist, but a child psychologist might be a good idea.

What parent hasn’t thrown up their hands at some point and said “I can’t do this anymore!” before turning to an expert for help?

Whether it’s the therapist, the math tutor, the reading coach, the college placement counselor or even the pitching specialist, all these experts are trying to do is exactly what Father Merrin was trying to do to Linda Blair’s Regan: make the kid “normal” again.

There can always be a sequel because evil – like parenting – goes on forever.

Which means the moment parents think they’re done and their kids are on their own, they move back home. Or go into therapy. Or just stop calling. This can happen at any time, for any reason (though it’s often financial), and it’s generally a lot worse than the original, just like “Exorcist 2 – The Heretic,” “The Exorcist 3,” and both versions of “Exorcist – The Beginning.”

And if that isn’t scary, nothing is.

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

1Is the TV version of this movie a reasonable substitute? Clearly the show has plenty of fans –  here, here, here and here, for example – but what if it gets cancelled? Imagine devoting hour after hour to something, getting attached and becoming emotionally invested in its well-being, only to have it suddenly just grow up and move go away? On second thought… maybe that’s even more like parenthood than the movie “Parenthood.”

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.

LOAD OF CRAP?

Rumors are swirling around that Pampers new, reformulated Swaddlers and Cruisers lines of diapers are causing rashes and chemical burns. But is this true? Has anyone come forward with conclusive proof that this is actually happening? Has anyone come forward with conclusive proof it’s not?

According to P&G, these allegations are “completely false.”

This response makes sense because we live in an age where misinformation gets passed off as gospel, and large, multi-national corporations like P&G have to act decisively.

On the other hand, we also live in an age where large, multi-national corporations spin just about everything, so who’s to say that 25 years from now, after some kind of “Jane Doe v. Pampers” class action lawsuit has been filed, all appeals have been exhausted and 150,000+ boxes of research, focus-group results and internal memos have been subpoenaed, cataloged and read in search of a smoking gun, P&G won’t pay a nominal fine and admit that while they didn’t lie, intentionally ignore some data, or make a critical error in judgement, they are sorry their long-since-reformulated product might have caused a limited number of cases of diaper rash all those years ago.

What strikes me as really silly is that P&G didn’t stop at denying the rumors were true, but went on to claim they were actually part of some giant conspiracy.

“These [diaper rash] rumors are being perpetuated by a small number of parents, some of whom are unhappy that we replaced our older Cruisers and Swaddlers products while others support competitive products and the use of cloth diapers,” said Pampers Vice President Jodi Allen in a statement.

A cabal of disgruntled former customers, Huggies families and the cloth diaper mafia?

Seriously?

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that we are Huggies family and have been for 10 years.1 That said, I don’t personally have anything against Pampers, and can’t honestly remember why we chose Huggies over Pampers in the first place, though I suspect it was because the supply of newborn diapers the hospital gave us ran out at 2:40 am some night, and when I went to the nearest all-night drug store to find more, I grabbed the first box of diapers I could find, which happened to be Huggies.)

While it’s possible that P&G is right, and eventually some hidden camera footage of the secret meeting where the plot was first hatched between the aforementioned groups will emerge, but until then, do they really want to handle the concern parents have for the health and well-being of their offspring this way?

CONCERNED PARENT: Your diapers gave my pride and joy a rash.
FICTIONAL P&G SPOKESPERSON: That’s a lie.
CONCERNED PARENT: Then why was my little angel, whose life I care more about than even my own, crying in pain?
FICTIONAL P&G SPOKESPERSON: We don’t know. But let us ask you a question: Are you now, or have you ever been a member of an anti-Pampers organization?
CONCERNED PARENT: No — but I guarantee that I will be in the future.

However this all shakes out, one thing seems clear clear: just because Pampers is in the diaper business doesn’t mean they can handle a big mess.

1Yes, we should be using green diapers, or at least cloth diapers, but we don’t and to the extent we are ruining the planet, we are sorry.

BABIES IN BARS

Is there anything worse than bringing a baby to a bar?

Judging by all the anger that’s being vented online, this seems to be among the most grievous sins any parent can commit.

But why?

To begin with, it’s more than likely the lonely, bitter, child-hating singles who seem to be so put out by this are in the minority, and that the majority of bar-patrons either don’t care, or accept the fact that there’s really no getting around the situation because babies need to be with their parents and their parents need to relax and have a few drinks before they completely lose their minds.

(Though I might be more than a little biased about that.)

On the other hand, if the baby-haters are in the majority, then… well… at least they’re in a bar where they can just order another round to numb their senses, right?

But forget that for the moment.

It seems like the primary objection to babies in bars is that they do a lot of things that ruin it for everyone else.

Maybe that’s true, but is a suckling newborn any more off-putting or “obscene” than two semi-intoxicated singles groping each other in a back corner of the bar that’s not nearly as dim as they think it is?

If spit-up is the problem, it’s important to keep in mind that when babies do that — whether in the car, or in a bar, or in a country called Myanmar  (sorry, too much Dr. Seuss) — they usually do it on themselves, their mom or their mom’s childless, single friend who suggested they meet for a drink in the first place.

The same can’t be said for the just-turned-21 winner of the “Let’s see how many shots of Jack Daniels I can do” contest.

(Though he, too, may spit up on mom’s single, childless friend:

JUST-TURNED-21-YEAR-OLD: You ever watch “Cougar Town?”
MOM’S CHILDLESS, SINGLE FRIEND: I do, actually.
JUST-TURNED-21-YEAR-OLD: Me, too. I… I…
MOM’S CHILDLESS, SINGLE FRIEND: You want to come over and watch it with me some time?
JUST-TURNED-21-YEAR-OLD: No, I think I’m gonna be sick. BLA-AAAAA-A-A-TCH.

Think baby spit-up smells bad? It’s nothing compared to the stench of half-digested bar nuts and bourbon.)

So what about drool?

Any two geezers who’ve spent the entire day knocking back $2 PBRs produce a lot more than an infant.

Ditto for diapers, and the whole Huggies vs. Depends thing, too.

Which leaves what? Crying?

Sure, that can be loud, grating and unstoppable, but even a 5-month-old with a bad case of colic can’t compete with the sobs and wails that ring out when those same two semi-intoxicated singles run into each other a few nights later and one claims to have absolutely no memory of the other, let alone the passionate night they spent together where they pledged their mutual love and promised to be soul mates forever.

Conclusion: Baby-haters 0, Babies 1

In fact, maybe more than “1″ when you consider that to singles, a baby in a bar might not just be a reminder that they should enjoy themselves while they can still get out of the house without hiring a sitter, but that they should be careful, too, lest some intoxicated encounter take an intimate turn and they find themselves having to do that way too soon.

Now… if there’s anywhere babies should be banned, it’s coffee houses, because nothing makes every coo, burp, squeal, shriek or sob more irritating than a whole lot of caffeine.

(Note: to be fair, of course, if we ban babies from coffee houses, we should also ban loud talkers, people who yell into their cell phones like they’re stuck in a hurricane, anyone with an iPod who sings along to whatever’s playing through their earbuds, people who push three or four tables together to have a staff meeting, teenagers who spread their textbooks out across all the tables but then sit there and text their friends instead of studying, anyone trying to sell anything, promote anything, or affect any kind of social change, anyone coming from, or going to yoga, because who needs that kind of guilt, politicians, dog walkers who leave their dogs outside, nannies who leave their strollers outside, and, of course, anyone trying to write anything on a laptop — especially if it’s a post like this.)

Links to the many online articles and rants:

“Babies in Bars”/New York Times Blog

“Babies in Bars”/CNN

“Babies in Bars”/Luke Constantino

“Babies in Bars”/Brownstoner

“Babies in Bars”/New York Blips

“Babies in Bars”/The Nervous Breakdown

“Babies in Bars”/Parent Dish

“Babies in Bars”/Gothamist

“Babies in Bars”/New York Times

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.

HOW TO EXPLAIN THE ECONOMIC CRISIS TO YOUR KIDS

KID: Are you sick?
PARENT: No.
KID: Then why do you look like you’re gonna throw-up?
PARENT: The President is talking about the economic crisis again.
KID: What’s an economic crisis?
PARENT: Well… Basically, it’s when everybody in the country suddenly realizes they’re fucked.
KID: GASP! You said a bad word.
PARENT: I’m sorry.
KID: You’re not supposed to say bad words.
PARENT: You’re right. Even with a situation as bad as this, I shouldn’t swear.
KID: Why is the situation so bad, anyway?
PARENT: The cost of living is going up. Real wages are going down. People’s houses are worth less than they owe on them. Nobody can get credit any more. We can’t seem to find a way to use less energy. And now the experts are saying the very foundation upon which our entire economy is based is cracked at best, and may actually be broken beyond repair.
KID: Wow. We are fucked.
PARENT: Now you said a bad word.
KID: Sorry. Do I have to wash my mouth out with soap now?
PARENT: No, but only because we can’t afford any.

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.

LITTLE IRRITATIONS: THE PAPER CUTS OF EVERYDAY LIFE

  • Door dings.
  • Trash bins that are supposed to be animal-proof but aren’t.
  • Dropped calls.
  • FEDEX drivers who double-park.
  • Stores that post the wrong hours online.
  • Meter maids.
  • Parents who bring their kids to daycare when they’re sick.
  • Traffic.
  • Drivers who make phone calls instead of turning.
  • Construction delays.
  • Drivers who don’t wait their turn at 4-way stops.
  • Tele-marketers who claim they don’t have to heed the “Do Not Call” registry because you’re a customer of their subsidiaries’ off-shore cousin’s shell company.
  • SUVs parked in compact spaces.
  • Chatty baristas who don’t seem to care/realize there are now 37 people in line.
  • The drive-thru (especially McDonald’s).
  • Golf.
  • People who don’t pick up after their pets.
  • News promos that use the words “deadly,” “outbreak,” and “protect yourself” when all they’re actually talking about is the flu.
  • Parents who call before 8:30 am.
  • Activities that are canceled or postponed by e-mail a few hours before they’re supposed to start.
  • Radio stations that have 25 minutes of commercials every hour.
  • Things at the supermarket that are still on the shelves days, weeks or months after their expiration date.
  • Cable-company DVRs.
  • Apple Airport Extreme Wi-Fi.
  • Universal remotes.
  • Spellcheck.
  • When your kids hide your keys.
  • Saran Wrap.

If Eskimos have a thousand words for snow, shouldn’t we have a thousand words for life’s little irritations?

For most of us, a day doesn’t go by that God, the universe, fate, karma, quantum physics or all-of-the-above don’t needle our emotional well-being, usually when we’re running late, just had an argument with our spouse or suddenly realized we forgot to get a babysitter for tomorrow night so we could go to dinner and a movie and finally get a break from all this crap.

It doesn’t help that these cosmic paper cuts never seem to be isolated one- offs, either, but instead come in sets, like celebrity deaths and unsolicited parenting suggestions from opinionated strangers – it’s not just the long line at Starbucks, it’s having them mess up your order twice and then spilling your extra-hot, half-caf hazelnut mocha down the front of your shirt as you pull out of the parking lot.

The impact of these little irritations – and they are little, even if we can’t figure out how not to sweat them – increases exponentially as the day progresses, to the point where we find ourselves cursing some 82-year-old women with a walker because she’s not crossing the street fast enough, or threatening to ground our kids for the rest of their natural lives if they EVER give the dog another peanut butter and jelly sandwich again, or contemplating divorce because our spouse forgot (again) to fill up the car when it got close to empty, leaving us in the position of having to coast down the hill to the Shell.

Psychologists say the only reason any of this stuff annoys us the way it does is because it reminds us that we’re not really in control (no matter how thoroughly we’ve managed to convince ourselves otherwise) and that ultimately mastering the moment isn’t nearly as important as just being in it, regardless of whether that moment is good, bad, satisfying, awful, rewarding, stressful, happy, sad, amusing, aggravating, etc.

But as nice as that sounds (in a zen-like, higher-consciousness kind of way), who has the time to learn how to do that? Or the energy? Or the patience?

If learning to live in the moment can’t be accomplished in one 30-minute session two times a week, in the car on the drive home from work, or during one of those rare moments when every kid in the house is quietly pre-occupied, then it just becomes one more thing we don’t have time to squeeze in but try to do anyway – or would try to do if we didn’t have to wait for the knucklehead in the car ahead of us to get off the phone and go.

Note: It’s easy to complain about life’s little irritations, but it’s also important to point out that we could probably eliminate entire categories of irritation if we really, really wanted to – just moving to a remote cabin in Montana and living off the land, for example, would instantly rid us of driving-, shopping-, neighbor-, school- and work-related annoyances (though it would probably more than make up for that by adding starvation-, bear attack-, hypothermia-, and isolation-related irritations, so maybe that’s not such a good trade-off. Plus, let’s not forget that Unabomber Ted Kaczynski moved to a remote cabin in Montana so he could get away from it all and look what happened to him).

CAMERA SHY AT THE DMV

Everybody makes fun of Driver’s License photographs, but how good could anyone look after spending three hours and 19 minutes at a place like the DMV?

The walls are painted a government-approved shade of beige that seems to have been chosen for its ability to induce nausea. God only knows what kind of deadly germs and pathogens are breeding freely on the furniture (which looks like it was bought on the cheap at a Nixon Administration yard sale and then left in a basement storage room for three decades). And if you think tinnitus is irritating, it’s a lullaby compared to the hum given off by row after row of cheap fluorescent lights.

Still, that would all be tolerable if you could just take a number and wait by yourself.

But you can’t.

If you’ve ever wondered what the people on “Cops” do when they’re not getting arrested, or what somebody who considers personal hygiene to be optional looks like, all you have to do is turn to either side of you and say “hello.”

Clearly, somebody has been peeing in the gene pool.

How else can you explain the toothless, tattooed biker chick/meth addict taking the motorcycle test who doesn’t see the problem with asking the proctor if he can give her a hint? Or the old lady renewing her license who insists she doesn’t need a vision test, but then can’t even find the line she’s supposed to stand behind to take it? Or the guy at the center of a booze-cloud you can smell from 20 feet away who gets upset because they won’t let him re-take his driver’s test right now?

As bad as it is to be near people like this, however, it’s a whole lot worse when you realize you’re no different than people like this – because when you get up to the window and the clerk says you need two additional pieces of ID, not one like you thought, you protest…

And say nobody told you…

And say you’ve been waiting all morning already…

And say that they should make an exception…

And say the rules are stupid…

And say they are stupid for enforcing them…

And say just about every idiotic thing you can think of, until you finally realize you are saying every idiotic thing you can think of.

At which point you go home, get another ID, and wait in line all over again.

And then they take your picture.

Click.

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.

POLL: FACEBOOK ANXIETY

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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?

ANTI-SOCIAL NETWORKING

Spending too much time online? Wondering if it’s time to connect with friends the old-fashioned way?

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Click on the image and then use the “Send to a friend” button at the bottom of the post to send via SHARETHIS.COM Or click here for the complete ecard gallery.

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.

10 SIGNS YOU'RE STRESSED-OUT

  1. The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is look for somebody to blame.
  2. No matter what anyone says, you completely disagree.
  3. There are no accidents or innocent mistakes: everything everybody does to you is “on purpose.”
  4. You yell at your spouse for breathing too loudly.
  5. You yell at the dog for laying around the house all day doing nothing.
  6. You yell at your kids for almost anything, and then you feel so bad about you break down and cry.
  7. Even though you’re not hungry, you stand at the fridge eating (usually whatever you can reach, instead of something you might enjoy).
  8. You stop going to Starbucks because you can’t take the pressure.
  9. Everything you say ends with a threat.
  10. You find yourself staring at a stranger whose face is locked in a permanent scowl for two or three minutes before you realize you’re standing in front of a mirror.

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.

AN EYE FOR AN EYE?

DICK CHENEY: Jesus Christ!
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Hey! I know you’re angry, but don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.
DICK CHENEY: I’m not — look!
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Jesus Christ!
JESUS: In the flesh. Ha. Ha. Ha.
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: What’s so funny?
JESUS: Inside joke.
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Does this mean the Rapture is upon us?
JESUS: No.
DICK CHENEY: Oh… then why are you here?
JESUS: It’s this torture business.
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Terrible, isn’t it? I can’t believe everyone is making such a big deal out of our overwhelming support for it.
JESUS: I know, I find it really disturbing.
DICK CHENEY: What do you expect from the liberal media!?!?!?!
JESUS: I’m not here because of them.
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Huh?
JESUS: You realize that I was tortured, don’t you? And that cross you wear around your neck symbolizes the suffering I endured so that you and everyone else could be saved?
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Yeah, but that’s different.
JESUS: Is it?
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: You’re the Son of God.
DICK CHENEY: Not some terrorist.
JESUS: Tell me if any of these sound familiar: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Uh… that’s Luke 6:27.
JESUS: How about this one: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing.”
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: That’s Peter 3:9.
JESUS: And what about this: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.”
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: That’s Romans 12:20 — but then it says “In doing this, you will heap burning coals on your enemy’s head.”
JESUS: That’s correct.
DICK CHENEY: “Burning coals” — that’s clearly torture.
JESUS: No, that’s clearly a metaphor – when I say “heap burning coals on his head” I mean your actions will ultimately soften his resolve and turn your enemy into a friend.
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Seriously?
JESUS: As God is my witness — Get it?
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: So you want us to treat our enemies with respect and kindness, not torture?
JESUS: You’ll have to decide for yourself.
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Oh.
JESUS: But when I come back I’ll let you know if you were right or if you’ll be left behind.
DICK CHENEY: GULP!

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.