Category Archives: Silly Stories

Road Trip, Part II: “I’ll Rim YOUR Canyon”

First of all: No, “Part II” is not intended to imply that you must have already read “Part I” to understand what the hell is going on here.  It’s a road trip, not one of the later seasons of Lost.

Second of all:  You should read “Part I,” though, really.

So, here’s where we’re at:

See Flagstaff on this weird map?
See Flagstaff on this weird map?

When I left off, Kaylen and I had just completed a quick set of 20 squats in our hostel room (gotta get the blood flowing) before heading out to scour the town of Flagstaff for two reasonably priced ponchos.  It was all part of the Plan, the infallible, brilliant, and terribly original Plan, as illustrated below.

The Plan:

  • Chill a six-pack of Mexican beer.
  • Buy ponchos (preferably handmade and sold on some kind of sacred ground by amicable Native Americans… but we were willing to grudgingly compromise on that point).
  • Find sombreros or cowboy hats or some alternative variation of headgear that would strike a satisfactory balance between both Mexican and Western styles.
  • Borrow/steal my sister’s yellow mariachi guitar (is that a thing? Well that’s what it looks like).
  • Perch ourselves precariously atop the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, armed with all of the aforementioned props, and take pictures of our ridiculous selves.
  • Tag ourselves in these pictures, share them on our smartphones (presuming there’s 3G service at the Grand Canyon – our plan was highly contingent on there being service) and eagerly await the surging multitude of likes and comments.

Well, let’s just say it didn’t end up playing out quite as we had hoped.  But we’ll get there.

Continue reading Road Trip, Part II: “I’ll Rim YOUR Canyon”

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Intruder Joe’s

You should probably know that as I write this, I bear a striking resemblance to a cancer patient.  (Of course, I mean this in the most politically correct sense possible; please don’t take offense at my trivial, self-deprecating, woefully truthful observations.)  I have a scarf wrapped around my head, concealing all hair and both eyebrows.  And by “eyebrows”, I really mean the general vicinity above the eyes where eyebrow hairs are meant to grow, as I’ve nearly picked them all out.  Nervous habit… I won’t go into it, but suffice it to say that that is the reason the scarf is on in the first place.  To, theoretically, prevent more eyebrow picking.  Adding to my (both perceived and literal) hairlessness, I am sitting outside covered in a blanket and smoking a broken cigarette… which, to compensate, I must hold firmly between my forefinger and thumb.  Like a doobie.

Am I right or am I right?!

But this is all beside the point, I just wanted to paint you a picture.  Provide some context.  Let you IN.  And at the same time, hopefully, make you feel a little better about whatever it is you are doing at this precise moment.  Because I’m sure it’s much less pathetic.  Anyway, we’re moving on.

There was a lunatic at Trader Joe’s today.  

No, this wasn’t the lunatic in question. She’s just the craziest looking person nearest the top of a Google image search for “Grocery Shoppers.” … I try.

Okay, maybe “lunatic” is a little alarming.  He was simply… uninhibited.  Jolly.  Loud.  Drunk?  Determined.  On a mission.  Probably hungry.  Among other things, certainly. Continue reading Intruder Joe’s

Paint It Green

I read once, in one of those pre-teen books that are printed in quirky, curlicued fonts meant to imitate a fifth-grade girl’s actual handwriting, that green toenail polish – preferably of the leprechaun/shamrock green variety – makes your feet look smaller.  I must have been about ten years old when I came upon this little factoid… if you could even call it a “factoid”; I’ll admit that I have yet to thoroughly investigate its credibility.  For all I know, green toenail polish makes your feet appear disproportionately monstrous, far more Shrek than Tinker Bell.   But for whatever reason, my ten-year-old brain attached some kind of vital significance to this information, flagged it as both “Important” and “Useful,” and stored it safely in the back of my brain, somewhere between my multiplication tables and the State Song.

I’ve never even had big feet, nor am I particularly foot-conscious. I mean, let’s get real: if I could paint any given part of my body green in order to make it appear, either by black magic or optical illusion, significantly smaller, you can be sure I would have an empty gallon or two of paint before I got anywhere near my toenails.

Okay, yes, all twenty of my nails are currently painted green.  But that’s just a silly coincidence.  I swear I don’t have some deep-seated insecurity about the perceived size of my extremities.  I just like to buy overpriced designer nail polish in daring, off-beat colors with clever, edgy names that almost invariably include puns.  For example: “Do You Lilac It?” or, another favorite, “Ski Teal We Drop.”  But I’m afraid I’ve gone a shade off topic.  Continue reading Paint It Green

Sad Vegetables

“You must make decisions,” Major Danby disagreed. “A person can’t live like a vegetable.”

“Why not?”

A distant warm look entered Major Danby’s eyes.  “It must be nice to live like a vegetable,” he conceded wistfully.

“It’s lousy,” answered Yossarian.

“No, it must be very pleasant to be free from all this doubt and pressure,” insisted Major Danby.  “I think I’d like to live like a vegetable and make no important decisions.”

“What kind of vegetable, Danby?”

“A cucumber or carrot.”

“What kind of cucumber? A good one or a bad one?”

“Oh, a good one, of course.”

“They’d cut you off in your prime and slice you up for a salad.”

Major Danby’s face fell.  “A poor one, then.”

“They’d let you rot and use you for fertilizer to help the good ones grow.”

“I guess I don’t want to live like a vegetable, then,” said Major Danby with a smile of sad resignation.

pp. 446-447 from Catch-22

I’ll get to the vegetables in a second.  I always do.

First, I just have to get the word out: Catch-22 is an excruciatingly maddening novel.  It goes nowhere… intentionally, and repeatedly.  It is cleverly and deliberately crafted to make the reader want to ram his or her head into a wall.  It took me over a year to read.  I read Atlas Shrugged faster.  Admittedly, I did take intermittent, well-deserved breaks from Catch-22 over the course of the year to indulge in such undeniable classics as the Hunger Games series and Steven King’s It – I am an American, after all –  but it really should not have taken so long to get through.  Nor should it have been nearly as painful.

The thing was, I couldn’t not finish it. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself.  A book on a bookshelf with a long-forgotten scrap of paper marking a long-forgotten page makes me exceedingly uneasy and anxious… probably similarly to how most mothers feel when they watch someone put a cool, sweating glass of water on a wooden table without a coaster.  So, I guess you could say that for the past year, I have been living out a kind of catch-22 scenario of my own.  Damned if I do read it, damned if I give it up.  Catch-22.

… Wow. That right there is nothing other than profundity.  My old Contemporary Fiction professor – shout out to BENJ! – is surely squirming with eager intellectual anxiety back in his stone-walled basement office.  Well, either that or he’s pedaling around campus on his bike, drinking tepid Brita-filtered water out of his biodegradable Sigg and chomping heartily on a locally grown organic apple.  I hope, for his sake, that it is the latter, as it is October and the leaves are probably turning.  Fall effectively transforms Princeton into a wonderland – forgive the sentimentality.  But really.  Think Harry Potter meets A Walk to Remember.  (There were some enchanting outdoor fall scenes in that depressing Mandy Moore flick, right?  I seem to remember some wistfully warm-colored scenery behind her increasingly pale and sickly face.)  Continue reading Sad Vegetables

The Produce Section

Do you ever go to the grocery store, stroll through the aisles of all the fresh produce and think… wow, if only I could cook!  Then,  despite the fact that you decidedly cannot, and with no plan or forethought whatsoever, proceed to bag up a whole bunch of it, throw it in your cart and strut around the rest of the store, smugly thinking – yeah, those people see this eggplant, and that butternut squash, and those asparagus, and all this cauliflower, and that cilantro, and think enviously: “Gee, I wonder what kind of appropriately seasonal feast that girl is fixin’ to whip up for her undoubtedly handsome, self-assured and inoffensively toned boyfriend!”

Well, the joke’s on them, because there is no boyfriend, and 60-85% of the produce will go bad before it has had the chance to see the light of the oven. HA!

My bafflingly well-stocked produce drawer.

I took this picture with a tint that is meant to suggest, rather than a drawer full of farm fresh vegetables, a cooler full of recently harvested human organs.  (Foreshadowing, get it?)

Floss

I don’t know what kind of minty, mystical fusion of plant-based fibers or fishing wires or unicorn hairs goes into the synthesis and manufacturing of dental floss, but what I do know is that I will never take that miraculous gum-diving, water-defying string for granted again.

Last night was a blood bath.

Though we may choose to ignore it, we all know that those standard microwavable popcorn bags are not meant for just one.  But really, who can pay attention to recommended serving sizes when a beach-ball-inspired bowl of popcorn, into which you’ve dumped a few extra cups of salt, is perched warmly on your lap, Breaking Bad is on TV, and, consequently, two invisible but industrial-strength strings link your pupils to the screen?  Admittedly, that wasn’t the actual scenario last night, but I just wanted to justify my similarly gluttonous behavior, while also conveniently proving a point: Serving sizes are obviously dumb and shamelessly unfounded when it comes to popcorn (and cereal, though I’m sure I’ll get to that later.)

Anyway, in response to my sudden and irrepressible salt craving last night around 2am, I calmly put away (“put away” as in “proudly devoured”) an entire bag of popcorn while lying in bed and listening to the Deathly Hallows on audiobook.  A salty lullaby, if you will.  After I licked the bottom of the bowl clean, then allowed myself about thirty seconds to entertain serious doubts as to the wisdom of my decisions, I rolled over to fall asleep.  Which was when I felt the first subtle twinge of pain caused by the nagging sliver of a stubborn kernel stuck between my back top two teeth.

While I tried fruitlessly to pinch it out with my nails, my hand shoved almost entirely into my mouth, I tried to remember where I had last seen the floss.  And, almost too obligingly, the image of a small aquamarine Oral-B floss dispenser (container? box? packet?) materialized quickly before my eyes in the darkness of my butter-scented room.  It was undeniably buried beneath unpaid parking tickets, old receipts and unopened mail in the center console of my car… which was even more undeniably parked above (yes, vertically on top of) my roommate’s car on the car lift.  (Don’t get me started on these car lifts.  But you are encouraged to read my bitter Yelp review for more information. Park Plaza Apartments.)  Continue reading Floss

Meet Gertrude Muchnick

Yes, that is her name, and she’s married to Herman. It’s culture, people.

Here is my Grandma Trudy celebrating her birthday… in Mexico!!!!

Just kidding, both my grandparents hate Mexicans.  Though Trudy does love a stiff margarita, I’ll tell you that much.  I don’t actually know where this picture was taken.  My money’s on Sizzler… that is, if the photo was taken before the Utensil Incident.  I’m not sure whether she’s welcome back to that fine establishment after she was stopped on her way out the door and kindly asked to remove the knives, forks and salt shakers from her purse.

I’ve only recently come to realize something that I wish I had picked up on much, much earlier in my life: My mom’s mom is a nonstop riot.  I mean, I’ve always liked her, in part because she would always sneak me drinks when my parents weren’t looking, but I never truly understood the deeper dimensions of her hilarity.  Until now.  Until the bidet.

My parents have a bidet.  Well, actually, two bidets.  The original bidet in the master bathroom got moved into the other bathroom when my father got his heart set on a newer, spiffier model.  You really should never underestimate the value of luxury toilet hygiene.  But this a whole different story.  Anyway, these bidets not only spray water onto your nether regions, but they also have blow dryers. Toilet paper? Obsolete within the next decade. Count on it.  So, a few months ago, my grandma Trudy walks back into the family room from the restroom and promptly announces, to whoever is within earshot, “I just got a free wash and blow dry!!!”  Continue reading Meet Gertrude Muchnick