The King’s Proclamation

*This story is not a metaphor. You will be doing yourself a favor to just read it as a dumb story.

There once lived a king who ruled a fair land.

It could be said that while he was not the greatest of kings, he quite aptly represented his people.

For he wasn’t particularly strong, and bore the physique of a sedentary ape who’d indulged in a life’s work of honey and cheese. Nor was he quite clever, and more often appeared to be devoid of any common sense. He was perpetually selfish, regularly petty, and rarely kind, thoughtful, or just. But also, like his people, he responded swiftly to unfavorable circumstances, and generally did so with resounding proclamations.

Indeed, when a bulbous, barrel of a man could not be pulled free from a stockade, the king proclaimed:

“Release him with the grease of a goose. I will show the people my mercy while not sparing this miscreant deserved humiliation.” The people thought and nodded.

And when there was a grain famine in the land, the king decreed:

“When there is no food, we must not feast on one another. But bring me the belly of a swine and we will feast together.” Then nothing happened, except a few journeyed off to find swine.

And when a plague struck his people one cold winter, he dictated a message from his warm bed to be distributed throughout the land.

“Courage, courage. I have called on Providence to awaken your fledgling bones that you may skip into glory like a virgin calf. Take heart and eschew the wicked vermin from your abode!” The people listened and coughed and a few fell over.

And so it went, for many years. Problems arose, the king spoke, and the people remained generally satisfactory.

But one day, the kingdom encountered a threat far greater than it had ever seen.

For from the West, a menacing and fearsome clan had traversed through the mountainous terrain and into the kingdom’s outer villages.

Townspeople were tossed aside. Their homes were ransacked and burned. Most of them fled to escape the devilish brood of barbarians.

News traveled quickly to the king, who was presently bathing while imbibing a flagon of fine wine.

“Your Majesty! The kingdom is under attack. Barbarians have come and attacked us from the West.”

The king shot up, spilling his drink upon his beard as bundles of bubbles flew into the air and burst around him.

He lifted his finger and cleared his throat.

“Hear this! A tree has no power without its roots, while a thorn shall not sting with no flower.”

Tell my people. ‘Dig. Dig deep. Dig deeper, as though your very trenches may birth a soul. Find the snake and eat it. When the ogre vomits, harm it with a fiery lance upon a dirty mule!'”

The king’s men slowly nodded and hurried from the room. They ascended their horses and disbursed throughout the kingdom, bringing the king’s message to all the towns.

“Hear ye, hear ye!” cried one of the king’s men in Millerton. “The kingdom is under attack. But be not alarmed, for the king has sent his people a message. He implores you to ‘Dig deep. Nay, dig deeper. As though your very, uh, trenches may birth a soul.'”

At first the people gasped, then they looked at each other in bewilderment.

“And furthermore,” the king’s man bellowed, “‘Find the snake and beat it. I mean, eat it. And…when the ogre vomits, you must harm it with fiery pants upon…uh…30 mules!”

Some people panicked and ran to their homes. Others scrambled to begin gathering supplies. Most stared at one another, rubbing their chins and counting their fingers.

“Go, all of you! Do as your king instructs.”

Likewise, the rest of the king’s men delivered messages in other villages, determined to galvanize the people and accurately dictate the king’s stirring oration. Likewise, the people panicked, scrambled and stared.

Meanwhile, the clan was moving quickly through the western region, primed to pillage whatever town lie ahead.

Townspeople, knowing they were no match for the barbarians, abandoned their villages and retreated toward the country’s epicenter and home of the royals.

Within two days, a massive crowd had assembled within the city square and its outskirts.

The mob was a motley assortment of peasants, plebeians, and soldiers in the king’s service. Strange sights and noises accompanied the group. Some were holding objects that seemed to have no place at such a gathering, while others rode upon odd beasts typically not purposed war.

Suddenly, a clamor rose among the people. Rumblings turned to shouts. Someone was coming.

From the north of the square ran a long, bright green hill that steadily ascended to the castle. Down the one road coming from the castle rode a phalanx of horses and men, carrying the colors and flags of the old and honored Sir Wesley. Behind them rode a stout man in heavy velvet robes with a shimmering golden crown upon his head. There was no doubt. It was the king.

As the riders and their king descended upon the square, all marveled and subsequently genuflected as he passed by. Within moments the liege and his subjects were in the center square, and came to an impressively synchronized halt. The dust cloud slowly lifted to shine the sun upon the men and their king.

The clamor had rapidly dissipated, and a quiet stillness set in. As all stood and stared, with the king peering out upon his people, a dull, thumping murmur seemed to whisper through the air. Slowly, very slowly, it rose to more of a clapping, and the ground seemed to tremor. All bodies and heads turned to the West, and one could fairly descry a thin, dark line of motion upon the horizon. There was no denying it. The barbarians were approaching.

The king raised his head and surveyed the people surrounding him. He observed a diverse mob of civilians, a group that was as odd as it was interesting. Were his people prepared for battle?

This wasn’t unprecedented. In the past, the king had moments where he had attempted to galvanize his people. And sometimes his orations were taken quite literally, and other times quite seriously, and other times they weren’t quite taken at all.

The king stroked his beard and pondered. Had the people received his message? Had it mattered?

“What say you my people?” the king shouted. “Are you prepared to encounter this filthy Western brood?”

“We are ready, your Majesty!” exclaimed a burly commoner, brandishing a very large shovel. “We have been digging deep, deep holes for hours.”

“As have we, your Majesty!” proclaimed a thinner man, caked in dirt. “We dug until my fair lady bore our seventh offspring this morning in the trench. A new soul for the kingdom!”

“Hurrah, hurrah!” the people shouted. The energy seemed to build, and now more people were grinning and speaking than before.

“Yes, your majesty! We are ready!” another proclaimed. “Though it took time, we have found the snake. ‘Twas the most ill of vipers in this land. On the way here, we beat it!” And he lifted the dead snake into the air.

“‘Scuse me goo sir,” remarked another man, who was hard to understand, because he appeared to be chewing on a snake. “Why d’ya beat it? We were to bind it and eat it.”

“What say you, my fair fellows of Galen?” asked another. “Why did you disturb the snake at all? Our instruction was to mind the snake and treat it. So we considered our village snake and blessed it with a plump rat.”

At this many mutterings erupted from the crowd. Some laughed, some cried, some continued to chew on their dead snakes.

Despite the many rumblings, the king remained calm and undeterred. But the barbarians were near. The pounding horse hooves produced a thunder coming down toward the square. The king drew his sword. “Behold, the ogre!”

The people gasped. Battle was upon them. “What shall we do?” many cried. But there was no time to think. Barbarians were now entering the square. All they could do was act on the king’s words.

The king’s soldiers withdrew their red lances and charged. While doing so, men all around the square hastily removed their trousers and set them ablaze. Ascending their dirty mules, they lurched forward.

For they had seen the ogre, and would harm it with fiery pants.

A cacophonous clash of metal now rang throughout the town’s center. Screams and roars echoed all around. The surrounding air thickened with smoke and the stench of burning hemp and wool.

Then above the cacophony ascended a different, melodious sound. Many curious citizens and barbarians alike raised their heads to observe a queer yet harmonious procession. For a group of men eloquently pranced into the fray, playing sweet tunes for all to hear.

For they had seen the ogre, and would charm it with lyre and dance.

From here, nothing very good happened. Grubby villagers, fatigued from hours of digging, couldn’t lift a shovel, much less a hand to attack the enemy. Men everywhere frothed and keeled over with half-eaten snakes in hand. Incinerated trousers were trampled upon while their owners shivered and shook their cold, bony legs. Lyres and dancers alike were indiscriminately and promptly obliterated.

The foreign clan was rapidly overtaking the town. The spirited battle cries had now mostly been replaced by moans and mule brays. There was no mistaking that circumstances looked dire for the kingdom.

But, there was the king. His presence among the multitude was undeniable, and those left standing found it remarkable he was not dead. Unflinching and unrelenting, the king moved around on his weary steed, swinging his sword and bellowing spirited utterances at every barbarian he encountered.

“Behold my brandished blade! May you taste its silver and plunge into a pool of your own crimson!”

“See the door of death! Knock, enter, and be greeted with a guillotine of profound terror!”

“Meet your end, worm! ‘Tis time to writhe in your lonely abyss ad finitum!”

The opponent, though filled with bloodthirsty wrath, would generally pause at whatever remark the king spewed. For these clansmen from the West knew nothing of monarchy and had never witnessed such valor or unabashed boasting from a general of men.

And the pause was enough, a momentary lapse of concentration that allowed the king to meet his mark upon each and every unenviable swing. The enemy fell one by one.

The king’s people noticed this sudden and unexpected success. So inspired by this newfound, naive confidence, they too purposed forward, with pomp and unmitigated braggadocio. Some upon horses, some upon mules, they lunged at their adversary with swords and tongues.

“Rabid ghoul!” one man spewed. “Inspect your soul, make peace, and bid your beating heart adieu!” And he thrust his sword into a bewildered barbarian.

“Inhale the toxic cypress, ripe and ready to plunge you into the world of nether!” said another, as he walloped his foe.

Still another provoked his challenger. “See my sickle, fiend! See it and greet it. Usher it into your abode, fluff its pillow and serve it a lukewarm tea. Then, insist it stay the evening and be ensured that-” and was unfortunately cut short by an emphatic body blow. Indeed, elongated addresses proved inadvisable.

But for the most part, men eloquently recited their threats and subsequently pummeled the enemy, to the shock of the citizen and foreigner alike. Each fallen barbarian inspired confidence in the king’s people, while the confidence of the foreign clan waned. Rebel yells were quieted with pithy declarations. Thundering horse whinnies were replaced by mild mule brays. Even the pluck of the lyre returned.

In minutes, it was over. The distressed, decimated clan hurriedly retreated from the town. The kingdom roared in victory, clanging shovels and throwing snakes into the air. Amidst it all, someone shouted “Long live the king!” Others repeated it, and then looked around. Where was the king?

As the town quieted, what was noticeable was the many remaining clansman retreating up the hill to the West. As they did so, a lone figure chased them upon a horse. Yes, valiant to the end, it was the king purging the enemy from his land. He held his sword high and rode semi-swiftly behind his foe. Though it was hard to tell from the vantage point of the square, he seemed to be barking still, only more vigorously than what was his custom.

Then suddenly, the king and his horse disappeared into the earth. For what he had not foreseen was a vast, gaping trench, freshly dug by undoubtedly a great number of his people. A collective gasp arose from the townspeople, who wasted no time rushing out of the town and up the hill to the scene of the catastrophe.

When they arrived, they looked into the trench, fearing the worst. The hole was deep and dark, so much so that they saw no king, or horse, or bottom.

“Your Majesty, your majesty! Tell us, are you alive?” shouted one of the king’s men.

At first there was no sound, but then a light rustling started. Then there was a deep moan, which could’ve been the horse. And then more silence, enough to deflate the men’s hopes.

“Aye!” came a cry from below. Men crowded around the trench at the sudden, welcome response of their king.

“Aye!” he bellowed again. “Though my bones be a mangled wasteland, though my blood hast breached the dam of my flesh, though all feeling hast retreated my corpus like those filthy savages from this fair land, I say to you, ‘Aye,’ I retain the vitality of a juvenile vulpine! So bring forth the vestiges of yore. Find the elaborate garb and drape it upon the most pristine of willow trees. Gather in gaiety, take your finest fool, and wade together in the sweetest of stews!”

Then some cheered, some scratched their heads, and others shared strong opinions regarding the finest region for willow trees.

But they all lived happily ever after.

 

The Problem with Pizza

Has anyone noticed how ubiquitous and dominating pizza has become? What a culinary bully. It’s the food you can’t get away from.

The obvious reason is that it’s delicious. Buttery dough slathered with sauce and showered with cheese; yes please. Then literally any of your favorite foods on top. Steak, barbecue, chocolate—it doesn’t matter. It’s ok because it’s pizza. It has no bounds, no tact. It’s open-door policy to ingredients has caused a feeding free-for-all.

Pizza is too convenient. If I have a phone I can get one in 20 minutes. If I have a car I can get it in five. I don’t have to do any work to get pizza.

In fact, I just have to show up. If I go to a place, any place, if I just stick around long enough, the pizza will come. Home, work, church, school, party, practice, hospital, cul-de-sac, whatever.

There it is! Pizza is in my lunchbox. An alert for pizza in the conference room is in my inbox. I don’t want pizza with drinks right after work. Too bad son, pizza is cheap at happy hour. I get home after three pizza sessions and there’s nothing to eat in the fridge. Dare I look in the freezer, that gelid jukebox of choices where a pizza will forever magically appear?

Seriously pizza, leave me the heck alone. Remember the girlfriend who always wanted to hang out? That’s pizza. You liked her and didn’t want to go too long without seeing her, but you were always like “Chill girl, I already met you for breakfast and lunch. I can’t do dinner, I just can’t.” And then you’d have dinner with her and think, “Girl, you are so awesome. I love you love you love you.” And then you got home cursing yourself, ruing the day you met, committed to saying “we need a break.” So you went to the pool the next day and she was already there, hot ‘n ready like Little Caesar. Are you still following this analogy? ‘Cuz I’m not.

The point is, this food (which is my favorite) is no longer special. It’s joined milk and bread along with other essentials, a food we can’t seem to live without. But I’m taking a break. Really I am, no pizza for like at least a week.

Oh just saw pizza in break room gotta g

Luminary

Stumbling through an unlit hall the world gropes for the room.

Lacking wit and wherewithal we cope within the gloom.

Where be that gleam, that spark, that flash, that slightly cracking door?

Just in our dreams, in dark, we crash, not lightly, ‘pon the floor.

Alas ephemeral flicker stirs an upbeat of the heart.

Gasp, no time to dicker, back on our feet we start.

Make way to welcomed glimmer, ’til right within our reach.

Nay stay a fading shimmer, ’tis night within us each.

Flecks of phantom luminescence display and move and look legit.

Checks for the genuine essence, yet they all prove counterfeit.

Can no one true step out from death, to enlighten our dark way?

Past someones all bereft of breath, have heightened our dismay.

Suddenly the hall’s ablaze with blinding lumination.

Surely all are fazed by this resounding revelation.

For who breaks forth, none other than the maker of the light.

The source of luminosity, purveyor of the bright.

The world moves on and gropes around for some new visionaries.

Through darkness all our hopes abound in one true Luminary.

 

This is a reflection on John 1:9. “There was the true Light, which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” Merry Christmas.

Who You Should Actually Brake For

brakeforpeopleDo you brake for people?

Of course you do. This isn’t Grand Theft Auto where you demonically accelerate to turn pedestrians into street pizzas.

This is Earth, and when people are in the road, we stop. It’s nice to let others live and have us not go to jail. Thank you conscience. Thank you laws. 

Which brings me back to the “I brake for people” bumper stickers I see. Some standard had been proposed for whom, or for what, we should brake. And there are some things that we would at least swerve for. And there are some things we would apathetically flatten as if they damn well deserved it for being in the way.

So, I’ve pondered who I would brake for and who I would not, just so I can be prepared when I’m out on the road.

People? Brake.

All people? Hmm…

Old people? Of course, brake.

Teenagers? Yes, brake. But throw in a fist shake and stern talking to.

Football fans leaving a game? Brake.

Carolina fans leaving a game? Uhh, uhh…OK, yes brake.

Bad hombres? Yes brake, they have no chance for redemption if you vehicular manslaughter them.

Homeless? Yes, brake. But many are quite adept at weaving through traffic so even if you don’t see them you might be all right.

Dog? Yes, brake.

Cat? … Ohhhhh, all right brake.

Deer? Brake hard.

Squirrel? Don’t brake. Swerve cautiously.

Turtle? Don’t brake or swerve, you have a meeting with bagels to get to!

Bird? They’ll get out of the way.

Duck? They might not get out of the way. Honk, swerve, and hope for the best.

Duck family? Of course for the love of nature brake unless there is a pitch black chasm where your soul should be!

I guess the bottom line is that you should brake for most living things. (Living things you can see, of course. If you drove everywhere at four miles an hour and braked every three seconds I suppose you could even avoid hitting bugs.)

So the next time you’re driving down the road and see some living, breathing things in it, stop and make the kind choice not to kill them.

Yes, I brake for people. Anyone you don’t brake for?

How to Respond to Dumb Inquiries When Selling Your Car

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I put an ad on Craig’s List for my car, and got this very simple email reply:

“What’s your bottom dollar cash price?”

That’s it? That’s your inquiry? No greeting, no name, no nothing. Well, I just had to write back.

Hi,

Thank you for that insightful, pointed inquiry. You deserve a sufficiently thorough answer in return.

Indeed, I have a price in mind that is the lowest I’m willing to offer. As tempting as it is to give you that price and completely wreck my negotiating power, I’m gonna hold off.

Also, I’m sure to your chagrin, I am not in dire straits. I do not need the money to pay my overdue light bill or satisfy my opiate addiction. I don’t even know what opiates are, if that gives you any further insight into the straight-laced mama’s boy I in fact am. So I’m not enticed by the fact you have cash. I have cash too and could go buy a round of ice creams right the hell now. But I’m not going to because you deserve more of a reply.

Also, hello. That’s how I meant to start this reply, because generally that’s how people communicate. We wave and offer a very brief greeting. You did not greet me in your email. You just asked me a question, with no greeting or salutation, as though I’m some automaton destined to reply back: “MY BOTTOM LINE CASH OFFER IS THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT DOLLARS AND TWENTY SEVEN CENTS. REPLY YES TO BUY.”

And there’s another thing normal people like to do. They ask to drive the car before they consider purchasing it. I’m sure you were absolutely enthralled by the immaculate photos taken from my iPhone 5s. But I’m just telling you, this baby might be a complete lemon. For all you know I use the engine to store moonshine.

So basically, what I’m saying is, I want to look at the car with you. And want to drive around and say things like: “Yes, that thing works!”and “yeah, just jiggle it a little,” and “my mechanic said he had never heard that noise come from a car before so there’s no need for concern.”

But just because you’re the kind of guy looking for a good deal, I’ll give you one.

My bottom line cash offer is I will give you two dollars if you find a coconut and attempt to smash it over your head.

I am willing to entertain a reasonable counteroffer.

Thanks,

Dude Selling Car Online

The Freedom of Fairweather Fandom

cam-poutYou know how to have a great fall weekend? Don’t spend time watching your crappy football team.

This past weekend, my two football teams, the Wolfpack and the Panthers, lost heartbreakers. But I really don’t feel bad for them. They deserved to lose, with the Pack choking in typical State fashion and the Panthers once again displaying a defense that Pee Wee Herman could skip through.

What’s great is I only watched about twenty minutes combined of those games. I anticipated the misery, determined I wouldn’t make myself suffer for three hours, and was rewarded with actually getting stuff done.

The truth is, I used to poke at people who left in the middle of games or didn’t show up when their team was losing. I should’ve commended them. They knew what I now know.

It makes no sense to spend all of your time getting bent out of shape over a game that doesn’t matter. 

state-missState missed a chip shot field goal that would’ve won them the game over #3 ranked Clemson. It stung for the moment, but no one is going to remember that game a year from now. Even this week the State players themselves are back to focusing on other matters, like passing their mid-term Bees and Beekeeping exams and where to take their girl for a dinner better than Gumby’s. Why am I freaking out over a ball that sailed right?

The Panthers have been a wreck this year, and look like the team they had the year before they drafted Cam Newton. Last year was a blast because the team was crushing it. How could I miss a game? This year I’m starting to wonder why I shouldn’t miss the game. I could spend the afternoon saying bad words and telling my kids I’ll be there “in just an hour,” or I could be productive, enjoy life, and take two minutes to read the postgame summary of why we suck so bad. And that’s exactly what I did.

So here’s the thing: I don’t have to watch the Panthers the rest of this year. They’re out of contention. I have my Sundays back. What will I do with my time? I can read, write, watch a movie or nap. Granted, I won’t do any of those things because I have kids, but the idea is really fantastic.

See, there is such freedom in only paying attention when your team is good. Sports can become an enjoyable part of your life instead of a regret.

And if your teams are never good, then find a hobby. Browns, Bills, Raiders and Lions fans: Think of the hours you’ve spent over your life watching horrible teams. 16 Sundays over 30 years is more than 1,500 hours wasted. And you could’ve been mastering the sitar in that time.

So sports (quasi)fans, free yourselves of the tyranny of watching your horrible team. Join the bandwagon of fairweather fandom and tune in when your team has earned it!

An Open Letter to Parents About Your Kids’ Names

Dear Parent,

I am writing to inform you that I don’t remember your kids’ names. Do you have multiple kids? I don’t remember that either. All I know is you have a kid and I’m darn sure they have a name, but my name bank is completely full. I’m sorry.

I do feel bad about it. I will try to at least act like I know your kid’s name. I’ll say things like, “So tell me how’s family life?” and “Man, he is big. How old is he now?” And you’ll say things like “Good! The kids are good. Jamie just started pre-school.” And then I’ll say something like “Oh that Jamie, getting his pre-school on” which is really my way of saying “See! Look! I know your son, I know he’s Jamie!” And the next time we see each other, in a month, when I don’t say his name, you’ll think “Ahh, he knows Jamie. He’s said his name before.” Quite honestly this is the scenario I’m hoping will transpire in your mind.

If I can’t win at the name game, I’ll give it my best try with the gender. So I’ll say things like “Now you have…” and trail off while it appears I’m counting your kids on my fingers but I’m really just flipping myself off—because I should know this. But I know you’ll be real nice and say something like, “Yeah, two boys and a girl. 11,  7, and 4.” But at this point I’ll tell you that for me, the names are out. You have had too many children and I will not entertain it. So I will call them “your oldest boy” and the “middle one” and “your little girl.” And if you have a baby girl or baby boy, I will simply call it “the baby.” Sadly, I don’t remember if you had a boy or girl. I really don’t even remember if you had a baby, but I’m pretty sure you did. If I ask about the baby, and you say they are now like, 6, then I will grab the nearest shovel and bury my dumb head. I’m so sorry.

I hope you know I appreciate your friendship. Even if I don’t quite remember your name either. If you hadn’t noticed, I addressed this letter to “Parent.” I am so ashamed. What is your name? Is it Laura? That’s a wonderful name, but I know about 20 of you Lauras. And another 17 Laurens. And approximately five Loris…..Hmm……How about Lorax? Can I just call you that? I would not forget that. The Lorax. 

Thank you for understanding. I’m looking forward to spending more time with you, your spouse, your old boy, your little girl, the baby and that crazy old dog of yours. Truly, the <ENTER LAST NAME HERE WHEN YOU FIND OUT> family is one of my favorites.

Sincerely,

The Blogger Who Shall Remain Nameless

The World Series of Family Dinners

936fe6f485Dinner with little kids is frustrating and hilarious. I laugh at the lengths we take as parents to get our kids to actually eat food, and if at all possible, food that’s healthy. Getting kids to eat healthily is kind of like playing poker…

Good evening everyone from the World Series of Family Dinners. He’s Norman Chad and I’m Lon McEachern. Tonight we’re looking in on the Speight family dinner. Danielle and Carson are attempting to get their kids, Hudson and Ella Jane, to eat healthy food. 

Chad: Should be a great one, Lon. I remember getting me to eat vegetables was like stuffing an elephant into a goose. Not easy.

Lon: Haha, I bet not. OK, it looks like Danielle has prepared a delicious, healthy meal and she’s bringing it to the table.

Ella Jane: I don’t want dat!

Lon: Ooh, Ella Jane came for a fight tonight. She wastes no time in playing her first hand aggressively.

Hudson: What’s dat? Are doze vegetables in dere? I don’t want vegetables. 

Lon: Looks like Hudson is in no mood to get pushed around, either.

Chad: I can’t blame the kid. The vegetables aren’t completely hidden. I’d suggest Danielle buries those things like a culinary undertaker.

Lon: Well it’s called around to Carson, what will his move be?

Carson: Oh my gosh honey, this casserole is delicious! You guys have to try this. So good.

Chad: Not a bad bluff, but did he just say the “C” word? You just can’t mention casserole next to a food item. Immediately ruins the chance of them trying that food.

Danielle: Oh, it’s not casserole Daddy. But it is so good. This is all the stuff you like, guys. Beans, cheese, and rice. 

Chad: Wow! Dani is subtly goading them to go after what’s in the pot. But as my ex-wife always said when I would try to feed my pet snakes, “You cant make ’em bite!”

Lon: And what’s this? Ella Jane is making a move toward the casserole. Looks like she’s betting on lots of cheesy rice being under that mysterious layer of goo.

Chad: Watch out Ella Jane! You might regret that risk. Just like I regret not signing a pre-nup for my first two marriages.

Hudson: Mommy, what’s dis?

Lon: Oh no! Hudson has opened the casserole and exposed Danielle’s hand. Good golly those green beans are everywhere!

Chad: Now that is getting beat on the turn.

Hudson and Ella Jane: We don’t want green beans. We want a treat. 

Chad: Danielle’s stack has dwindled and I really don’t know what she can do right now to regain control of the table.

Danielle: Ok, well if you don’t eat your food there will be no treat.

Lon: Wow, just like that Danielle has gone all in with a pair of cookies!

Chad: And the children are gobbling down their food. They look like Uncle Bubba at the buffet of my third wedding!

Lon: Well folks, that’s it. We’ve witnessed a fascinating final table where in the end a couple of rookies were no match for a seasoned pro. We’ll see you next time on the World Series of Family Dinners.

10 Ridiculously Niche Roadside Sales Signs

signIf you’ve read me long enough, you know I’m highly amused by signs. They leave little space to communicate important messages, so often you have to live without a decent explanation of what the thing means.

You might’ve seen those little signs by the road that someone has just staked in the ground, perhaps at the corner of an intersection. They’re often business signs, with a simple statement of what the business or person does, along with their phone number. They’ll say “WE BUY HOUSES” or “WE BUY OLD CARS.” Pretty typical, right?

Well I was recently driving along and saw a sign reading “WE BUY DIABETIC TEST STRIPS.” I bet there’s someone out there who gets really excited about unloading their cache of diabetic test strips. They probably see that sign and exclaim “Finally!”, then weep with joy and get out of the car to hug sidewalk folk.

It is such a niche sign. I get the other ones that appeal to everyone. Like “We buy shoes.” OK, do any of you drivers got any of those? Of course you do. Obviously the maker of the sign doesn’t lack sales sense (though he may lack a pair of shoes, which would call into question his business savvy and ability to make a decent living).

But “WE BUY DIABETIC TEST STRIPS”? I have zero clue what those are. I’m almost 35 and if you showed me one I’d ask you what the hell it was. The target market for this advertisement is so narrow, I would think any phone call the advertiser receives would incite a wild party with the boss saying things like, “I told you that sign was genius” and “Drinks are on me. These diabetic test strips will take us right to the top.”

It did make me wonder what other highly niche signs could be placed roadside to grab the attention of the masses (and the response of an embarrassingly scant few).

So here are nine more Ridiculously Niche Roadside Sales Signs:

  1. We buy surplus hot pink bathroom tile grout.
  2. We buy used assault rifles from Swiss warfare.
  3. We buy disintered remains of mustachioed vampires.
  4. We buy boats. From the game Battleship.
  5. We buy Gary Busey VHS tapes.
  6. We buy most kinds of rubble.
  7. We buy boiled shrimp shells and leftover cocktail sauce.
  8. We buy size 51-48 jorts.
  9. We buy difficult-to-catch birds.

Do you have a ridiculously niche roadside sales sign? Leave one in the comments!

Why Your Timepiece Is Excessive

76027-004-9DBB0BB9Today I’m pondering time. Don’t worry, this won’t get real deep. Like, I’m not pondering the theory of relativity and electromagnetism and the implications of a real world warp speed that could get us to Taco Bell and back in .4 seconds.

No, today I’m simply pondering the necessity of timepieces. Really, there has never been a time in our world where it’s been easier to keep time. Yet, we still obsess over the types of watches we buy or the clocks we put in our house.

But why? Keeping time is no longer a chore. We don’t have to hop on our mule and schlep down to the village center to observe the sundial. The time is shown everywhere. It’s in my car, on my coffee maker, even my refrigerator. Well, not my refrigerator, but I’ve seen it on those fancy new ones owned by well-to-do folk.

Seriously, 90% of the world carries a phone on their person. And if you don’t, then just ask someone for the time and there’s a nine in ten chance they’ll be able to help you, o poor soul still using mules and sundials.

I mean, time tellers are so ubiquitous now that it’s almost embarrassing to ask for the time. Oh, you want me to tell you the time? You couldn’t like, I dunno, walk 10 feet in any direction and find it?

c04ce737We own multiple watches. I say we as in people of the world and not myself, who hasn’t owned a watch in 15 years. We have a watch for going out, a watch for work, and a watch for weedwhacking…spell check didn’t have a problem with weedwhacking, that was a little shocking…oh, but yeah, a watch for everything. I got a watch for everything too. It’s called an iPhone. And it’s accurate to like the astronomical millisecond. And I have no wrist bulge. #winning

Some people are still acquiring grandfather clocks. People are carefully hauling 200-pound timepieces on trucks and dropping them into their living rooms. They’re winding them up so they can be awaken from naps by bellowing chimes. Good golly why? You can get a two pound Echo and ask it to tell you the time, weather, or the prime minister of Bangladesh without twitching a damn muscle.

Now we have sophisticated, smart watches from brands like Apple, who figured that if people are going to strap something to their wrist, it better do more than just tell the time. And guess what. It doesn’t even show you the time when you look at it. You have to wake it with a button push. Apple rejects telling time as a primary function of their own watch.

That’s telling. Not time. Just telling.