GUEST BLOG: One Flew into the Cuckoo’s Head

On Monday night I was driving to Fayetteville, N.C. to deliver my boyfriend’s work computer to him. He’d brought it with him for his weekend visit and neglected to take it home when he left at 4:30 a.m. that morning.

Fayetteville is a two-hour drive from Wilmington and on some of the roads the speeds drop to 35. At the moment of impact, however, I was topped out at 65.

There I am, about 6 p.m., an hour into my journey. I’m listening RISK!, a storytelling podcast. Some dude it talking about growing up in the city and how the kids in his neighborhood used to play in medical waste tossed into a dumpster behind the clinic.

The story teller was reminiscing about climbing in the trash to retrieve what they called “needle darts,” when


Something bigger than a pebble, but smaller than a breadbox, hit the partially open window and window frame, then slammed into the left side of my head just above my ear.

“What the fuck!”

Instinctively, I shot forward in my seat. I was practically hugging the steering wheel as I slowed down and pulled the car onto the shoulder.

Tiny feathers were floating around inside the car.

This bird is a more "tradtional" bird death scene. Very different from what I had going on.

This is a more “traditional” bird death scene. Very different from what I had going on.

I sat frozen for a moment and took inventory. There was blood on my shoulder and blood on my upper left chest. There were feathers and blood stuck to the window frame. With every movement I made, little tufts of feathers wafted about. Fortunately, the window was intact.

I hopped out and sheepishly looked into the car. There on the driver’s seat was a dead headless bird. After thudding me good, the bird’s head popped off and its body fell between my back and the seat back, I surmised. Sick!

If I didn’t have a long shirt on it would have fallen into the back of my pants.

I muttered WTF a few dozen more times as I contemplated my options.

How the hell am I going to get this bird out? I sure as hell ain’t touching it. Should I just keep this shirt on and finish the drive? What’s in my overnight bag? I don’t want to put on my work shirt for Tuesday morning because I don’t want bird guts on that.

Oh right! I have pajamas.

Now, whenever I’m not at work or out socializing, I’m in “pajamas.” But my pajamas generally consist of super-sized sweatpants and sweatshirts. That ensemble is easily worn in public in case I need to make a quick trip to the store. Recently, however, I’d decided to treat myself to actual pajamas. So I had a real honest-to-goodness pajama shirt.

Had this been my pajama top I probably would not have been driving because I would not be getting laid any time soon.

Had this been my pajama top I probably wouldn’t have been driving on the night in question because I would have been a spinster with cats.

Fuck it, I’ll just put that on, I thought to myself. I popped the trunk, and after three cars passed and no more were coming, I whipped off my blouse and put on my pajama shirt.

Now to deal with the bird…

Look, I’m not the least bit squeamish EXCEPT when it comes to animals. I’d already glanced at the headless bird carcass so I was not looking forward to examining it up-close-and-personal. But I had to get it out of the car! If the bird had ended up anywhere else, I probably would have left it and finished the drive. Tim would have had to remove the body. But in this case that wasn’t an option. The bird was in my seat. Son of a bitch!

I considered using my tripod to flick it out, but quickly dismissed that idea because it would take too much maneuvering. It would have been like moving a soft ball with a pencil. I would have had to keep readjusting the tripod to effectively get the bird out. That would entail needing to actually look at it to get the job done.

Then I spotted a dust broom I kept in the trunk. Perfect! It was wide enough.

I climbed in the backseat, and with my view hidden by the seat back, I reach around and took some blind swats at the driver’s seat. The bird corpse unceremoniously plopped out of the seat and landed on the motherflipping goddamned door frame.

I recommend everyone keep one of these in their car. I use it for all sorts of things: snow, sand, dusting, dead bird evicting.

I recommend everyone keep one of these in their car. I use it for all sorts of things: snow, sand, dusting, dead bird evicting.

You’ve got be kidding me! The bird had already defied odds by flying into a 4-inch-wide window opening at 65+ miles an hour, now the effing thing lands perfectly on a 2-inch-wide ledge? I’m going to have to actually walk up and look at this thing. And to top it off, even when I finally get the body out, its fucking head will still be somewhere in this car! I had another hour’s drive to my destination, so the thought of a bird head as a passenger was mighty creepy. Ater a half-hearted glance in the back seat, I drew the line at scouring the car to find its fucking head.

I mustered up my courage and skulked up to the casualty. As I groan the international word for GROSS, “Eeeeeeeee,” I give the body another swat. It flies (pun intended) into the road.

Upon landing, the head appears. It was only tucked underneath.

For the remainder of my ride I did not touch the door because I was unsure if it had gore on it. I also didn’t touch the side of my head which I imagined was covered in bird brains (Spoiler alert: It was not). And anytime I had my window cracked I could see in my peripheral vision the bird feathers stuck to the frame flapping in the breeze.

How was your Monday night?


On the road again with a caffeine-scrambled brain

It’s just after midnight, but the conductor on the sleepy train isn’t making any stops in this hotel room anytime soon. I’m wired from too many coffees and too many Red Bulls. Plus, the cramp in my from the death grip I had on my steering wheel as I navigated many German autobahn miles at 100 mph isn’t helping.

And all of this is OK.

I have a stash of beer chilling in the mini-fridge and, for once, I’m staying at a military hotel so there will be coffee brewed in my room to help dust off my sleep deprived eyes in the morning. Normally when I travel, I stay in European hotels where they don’t have coffee available in the room and I have to venture out for coffee.

I now know you have to at least put on pants before you head to the hotel breakfast lounge. Accustomed as I am to drinking coffee in just my boxers at home, this is a no-no at most hotels, European or otherwise.

The next two or three days are bound to be full of adventure, excitement and intrigue that would make absolutely no one envious. It’ll be endless hacking on PowerPoint slide decks and Excel spreadsheets. Someone, at least once, will mention someone else’s slide “methodology” with a sneer. I guarantee it.

I don't have a lot of photo ideas for this blog so go with what you know. Also hey, boobs!

I don’t have a lot of photo ideas for this blog so go with what you know. Also hey, boobs!

But on the bright side, there will be fighting between staff sections and project officers about who didn’t do what, which responsibility belonged to which group,  and, with a bit of luck, an orgy of physical violence culminating in a knife fight between the last two surviving briefers while our commanding general, like a Roman Emperor, decides the loser’s fate.

I personally feel his or her PowerPoint skills should decide that fate, but that’s beside the point.

This will never happen of course — the orgy of violence with the epic last-man standing knife fight, I mean — but hope springs eternal.

Looking over the past few blog entries, scarce as they may be, I see I’m in danger of turning Had A Few Beers into some sort of weird combination of funny-wife stories, bitching about travel stories and drunken rants that somehow survive my hung-over eye the morning after they’re been vomited into a Microsoft Word document.

Which I suppose is as good a direction as I could’ve ever come up with for the blog through. When I started this shit my thought process (if it can be called a “process”) is surmised best as, “I’ll just write a bunch of shit. How hard can this be? If it was hard they wouldn’t call it blogging for fuck’s sake.”

And that’s not entirely incorrect. I don’t know who “they” are, but if they chose the word “blog” to describe whatever the fuck this is, I think we’ve earned the right to question their decision-making processes. Just saying.

So here we, or at least I, am. Four-hundred-and-forty-seven words into this with an intro about an orgy of violence, knife-fighting, frayed nerves, the start of a decent beer buzz and the reluctant departure of caffeine-induced trembles articulated by heart palpitations.

The only thing different I can think to talk about, and talk about I will, is that I’m in an American hotel. Not a American hotel in America, but a hotel run by American’s in Germany for military folks.

I haven’t been in such a hotel since 2012 or so, honestly. It’s sort of refreshing. The door’s made of solid wood and could, I’m sure, withstand a hoard of angry axe-wielding barbarians if it needed too and from a Roman Emperor’s standpoint this is the heart of axe-wielding barbarian territory.

I know it could withstand this because it’s on a spring-closing mechanism and every time I forget that there’s a spring-closing mechanism it slams shut with a boom that jolts every PTSD victim staying here. It already scared the shit of me the first three times it happened.

Also, no old-fashioned metal key here. Nope. Magnetized card entry because ‘Merica. Also, because the reader never reads the card right the first time I swipe it after having a cigarette. Maybe the European old-fashioned key to the room thing isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Because this hotel is American run there are two very delightful things nearby. The first is unheard of in all the European hotel’s I’ve ever stayed in — vending machines! Should I crave a Payday or a Mountain Dew right this very moment friends, I can have that. I just need walk down the hall after panicking a bit because my two-ton door just slammed shut with the force of an early atom bomb detonation.

The other is a warning on the dresser that holds the TV and some box that has a bunch of flashing lights that I swear light up in synch with my heart beats (maybe I do need to try and sleep). The warning says that if I were to overfill the top drawer of this dresser, I’m at risk of tipping the whole thing over.

Actually the sign seems more concerned with the TV then with injury.

Actually the sign seems more concerned with the TV then with injury.

Safety fucking first. I like that. I don’t know what previous travelers have put in these drawers, but rest assured, I will only fill them with cotton, angel wings and warm thoughts. Actually, I feel like I should run some load tests on them. I’ll ask the local gym if I can borrow a set of weights tomorrow night and really find out how much this dresser can handle. You know, in the interest of science and progress.

That’s all I have. That’s all the energy I have for this tonight. It’s sort of fun to write when your brain’s been set to “scramble” sometimes. This might be the worst ending in the world or not, I don’t pretend to know. And at this very moment, I don’t care.

♫ Call five-eight-eight-two-three hundred advertising! ♫ Driving adventures in America!

Last Wednesday night my wife was overdosing on home improvement shows and I was at the tail end of a 12 pack of good old American beer.

Which means sadly, I was really sober.

This is on "The Learning Channel."

“Buying Naked” is on The Learning Channel. Let that sink in

Yes, we were back in America and we were celebrating — sort of.

It was a clandestine, quick, ninja-like trip home that only a few trusted agents knew about because the mission here in the good old U.S. of A. afforded no time for shenanigans, no time for visits, no time for drunken romps with old friends, and only time for one strip club visit.

There was no time for anything, but business.

I literally had to tie a leash on my wife’s belt loops during a trip to Target. If I hadn’t she’d have wandered for hours among the clothes, kitchen accessories and bed linen.

There was no time for that.

The trip was all about business.

“Bedding be damned! Your desires to rework the kitchen’s towel color scheme are unimportant, woman, and too hell with the guest bathroom decor,” I exclaimed as she perused bed spreads.

By this point we’d already finished the mission, she reminded me, and technically she was right. Damn her. But it’s hard to come down off the adrenaline of our whirlwind tour of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

I was still on a mission, even after the mission was over.

The mission seemed simple: Get a valid American driver’s license. A certain state in Germany, looking at you Baden-Württemberg, got a wild hair up their collective asses and decided to revoke the driving privileges of anyone caught operating a motor vehicle while in possession of U.S. Army Europe driver’s license without a valid U.S. driver’s license.

That means me. I’m a member of that club. So is Dagmar. So are a fuck ton of my friends and coworkers. My Arizona driver’s license expired in 2008 and her Texas license expired in 2013. This wouldn’t normally be a big issue and we could’ve waited until the powers that be made a decision about the validity of a U.S. Army driver’s license without a valid stateside license until we went back for vacation, but … I travel a lot for work. I travel for work using official government orders, like a grown up and shit.

When my boss learned that my license was expired (thankfully his was too) he told me that there would be no more official travel until the situation was fixed. Cue the “rapid quick trip back to the states” music and our visit to the Maryland MVA.

As a member of “the no valid U.S. driver’s license club” I think I may have been the first to travel back to the U.S. just to get a license. Mind you, I wasn’t renewing a license, I had to actually get a license. I think that fact actually makes me the king of the no valid driver’s license club.

As king of the expired driver’s license club in Europe, I’d like to tell my fellow expired license subjects that they are in fact screwed. I know, I know. Normally a King reassures his subjects, but the mark of real leadership is the ability to tell people when shit’s real.

Shit is real.

There is some good news. If you’re an active-duty service member living in Germany and have an expired license, you can likely renew online. If not though, prepare to receive sausage, because you’re basically fucked.

Dagmar and I had four states from which to choose pick when it came to asking for a valid driver’s license. Three of them basically told us to fuck off, but Maryland was indeed sympathetic. Sympathetic to the point that I think the manager there is really, really sick of me. Sick of me as in, “would avoid me at parties” sick of me.

I, however, can say she’s on my Christmas card list for life.

If only I’d gotten her address.

Here’s the thing: You don’t want to board an international flight (booked in duress no less) to acquire a driver’s license without knowing exactly what kind of paperwork will be required on the other end of that flight. If Cathy from the MVA had said she needed an original signed photograph of my wiener, I’d have been asking my wife how the light looked and if the photo was in focus.

I was going to have everything they wanted, in triplicate if possible.

We had to board our plane Saturday afternoon and Saturday morning I received news, via email, that we would both have to take the written and driving tests before we would be issued licenses. We couldn’t simply exchange driver’s licenses. Not ideal, but not an insurmountable obstacle either.  Or so we thought. Cue ominous music.

I printed out two copies of the attached driver’s license study guide and tucked them into our carry-on baggage to review driving laws during the flight back home.

We arrived Sunday and were at the Maryland MVA early Monday morning. The manager met us at the door. This was likely due to the fact that I had bugged the living hell out of her during the previous few weeks.

Photos of our beautiful mugs were taken, paperwork was exchanged, weather was discussed and we both passed the written driver’s test. No bonus points for who missed less questions, the automated test cuts off once you’ve answered the correct number of questions.

Like this, nailed it.

Like this. Nailed it!

Then we both promptly failed the driving portion of test.

I failed because it seems I cannot parallel park to save my life (or to save the cost of two round-trip tickets to the U.S.), and Dagmar failed because she thought she was smarter than the lady administering the test.

In my haste to book our flight and rental car I noticed that a large luxury sedan was only a dollar more per day than the smallest economy car offered by the rental agency. Being an idiot I took the luxury sedan thinking bigger is always better, like boobs.

Bigger is not always better when it comes to parallel parking, at least in my world, and I straight up flunked it. I couldn’t moor the Titanic within a foot of the curb in the allotted three minutes.

Dagmar’s story is a bit funnier. After having successfully parallel parked the Hindenburg, her tester told her to make a left hand turn. Dagmar observed that she would be crossing a double yellow line and decided that it would be unsafe to do such. She informed her tester that she was going to go straight and then turn around just up the road. You know, to better facilitate the test, or something.

Both of our tests ended the same way. “Please put the vehicle in park, you have failed the exam. ”

I cannot read these strange symbols. They seem to mean, something.

I cannot read these strange symbols. They seem to mean … something.

We piloted the good ship lollypop back to the airport car rental* counter (yes the MVA let us drive away, they had mercy on our souls) and exchanged it for the smallest rental car they had.

Fresh behind the wheel of a Chevy Cruz we drove it and parallel parked it for the rest of the goddamn day. We parallel parked that car until we could’ve centered it on a grain of rice. We parked, parked, parked and parked some more.

Because going home sans a valid driver’s license wasn’t an option.

Test number two obviously went a little better for both of us. And by little I mean a 1,000 percent better. The young lady who administered my test the second time was calm, cool, professional and must still be wondering about the guy in his mid-40s with buckets of sweat pouring off his forehead. (I still have a cramp in both hands from the death grip I had on the steering wheel the entire time.) But we passed.

Keep the hands and 10 and 2 o’clock (clearly neither Todd, nor his driving tester, have not read this ~Fran), always check your mirrors, break smoothly when coming to a stop! Be sure you see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you at the light! And for god’s sake son, use your turn signal! Always signal!

I’m so left thinking, politically, I considered just keeping my left-turn signal on constantly.

My father, like a lot us, taught me to drive. He did it on a 1960 Dodge pickup truck with a column shift and a clutch that required Paul Bunyan leg strength. He, did I mention this though, was also a driving instructor for many years and later a professional truck driver with all those million mile accident-free awards to prove it.

To confess to him that I had flown all the way in from Germany to take a driver’s test and failed, was almost worse than telling my boss.

Almost worse because Dad’s weekly allowance has long since dried up.

As I already gave away the ending, we both received brand new, won’t expire for eight years, Maryland driver’s licenses. I mean if we hadn’t and I’ve have returned to Germany without one, today’s blog entry would read something like this — “Oh god, Oh god, Oh god, Oh god, Oh god, SOB, <nose blow>! Oh god, Oh god, Oh god, Oh god” — which isn’t very funny, but I suspect some of you might have been highly amused regardless.

When I got back in the office this week, there were congratulations, some snickering and some kind-hearted teasing, but the best came from a lady I’ll call “Sue.”

Sue is retired military police officer and is the glue that holds our office together. Think Radar O’Reilly from “M.A.S.H.” hardened by years of police work, zero tolerance for bullshit and with an awesomely foul mouth. You love or you hate Sue.  I happen to love Sue. Her sharp tongue has cut me more then once, but I’m smart enough to know I had it coming.

Sue came into my office on my first day back and closed the door.

“Did you really fail the parallel parking part of your driver’s test the first time,” she asked.

I assured her I did.

“You dumb motherfucker, you live in Germany, you parallel park every goddamn day,” she said, howling with laughter.

She was right, I do. I parallel park at least once a day, sometimes multiple times a day.

Maybe I had it all wrong, the worst wouldn’t have been my dad, my boss or even my own sense of self worth. The worst was Sue. Jesus, the worst would’ve been Sue.


*Shout-out time: NextCar is a new rental car company that just opened in BWI. I can tell you I’m officially a loyal customer. Pam at the counter even high-fived us when, with drivers licenses in hand, we turned the car in on our way back to Germany.

Awesome company, seriously. If you’re in the Baltimore area they should be your go to rental car agency. NextCar is an awesome deal with affordable, new cars and an absolutely awesome staff. (Feel free to send me free schwag, NextCar!)

I’m in a European hotel and European hotel’s suck, here’s why

As a rule, European hotel rooms suck. Sure there’s some swanky hotels in Berlin, Paris, London and for all I know Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but the ones I stay at for work tend to suck.

These days most of the European hotels I stay in are in Germany, but that wasn’t always the case. I used to travel far and wide on this continent and I can assure you all the hotels generally, as a rule it can be assumed, suck here.

My experience with European hotels can be summed up as follows: Room service is non-existent and when it comes to TV your English-language channels are limited to BBC, CNN international or some British sports channel that features an obscure international ostrich feather testicle tickling championship. There’s also the famed European late night TV programming. 

Which, since the advent of the internet is about as sexy as a one-piece bathing suit circa the 1880s.

They're actually kind of cute.

They’re actually kind of cute.

That’s not to say the rooms aren’t comfortable. Oh wait, I wrote that last sentence wrong, I meant to say they’re also not comfortable. Everything in my current room technically works, but it’s as if it were designed by idiots, madmen or sadists. Maybe it was designed by idiotic sadistic madmen?

I don’t know.

There’s a lamp at the desk where I’m writing this that is mounted to the wall and has a flexible base that you might bend over to shine directly on your keyboard while you type or on a book while you read. Useful stuff right? It would be, except the only thing holding the shade to the lamp itself is gravity. So if you bend the flexible base the lamp shade flops over, held on only by the bulb. It’s not a broken lamp technically, it was just designed by someone who doesn’t know what a flexible base is meant to do.

Look here’s a photo

Actually I'm an idiot the bedside lamps worked fine.

Actually, I’m an idiot, the bedside lamps worked fine.

OK, I hear you saying (because I have super, super good hearing), “It’s just one fucked up lamp, quit your bitching.” Well, I would quit my bitching and go to bed to read, except the two lamps on the night stands function the exact same way.

Still though, I’m alone in a hotel room and instead of critiquing the accommodations, I could spend my time leisurely reading in my spacious double bed. My room does have a spacious bed, but like many double beds in Germany, it’s actually two single beds shoved together because fuck hotel guests.

Actually, I think is might be a European thing and not a Germany-only thing. For reasons I can’t fathom, it seems that shoving two single mattresses together, in the European mindset, equals a double bed.

cheap bastards ...

cheap bastards …

Let me assure you it does not equal a double bed. If you want to snuggle with your wife, your pillow, your significant other or the person whose name you hope to remember before tomorrow morning, you can’t. Someone is going to be uncomfortable because of the gaping canyon in the middle that exists when you shove two mattress together.

Why do I see this in hotel after hotel after hotel? What’s the point? Who does this? If any European reading this can give me an education on why this is a thing I’d greatly appreciate it.

Thankfully European hotel bathrooms totally rock. They’re warm, they’re functional, they come with hot and cold running strippers and yeah they don’t really rock at all.

I’ve talked about my wife’s strange aversion to buying new towels or throwing old ones away. When we have house guests, I have them sign a liability waiver before using our bathroom towels. I think I’ve said that if I ever used one of our towels to dry off a homeless dog I would apologize to the dog afterward. We have bad towels, thought no fault of my own, but compared to European hotel towels, they’re fluffy clouds of moisture-wicking love woven by angels.

This is because I think European hotel towels are woven from the tears of abused children and cacti. They don’t so much remove the moisture from your body as they frighten it away while simultaneously sandpapering off much of your skin. They are as good at absorbing moisture as cardboard and they have a similar feel and rigidity.

What the fuck? Are soft fluffy towels a closely guarded secret only shared among staff in American hotels? Are the these German hotels washing their guestroom towels in gasoline, lye and starch?

Then there are the showers. When I was traveling for work to the states frequently I noticed a lot of hotels had installed these rainfall shower heads. I don’t know why. I blame hipsters and Martha Stewart. I’m not sure why I think Martha was a part of this decision, but it’s the kind of thing I suspect she would approve of. I’m not sure the rainfall shower heads are any more effective than a traditional shower head, but at least they weren’t less effective and obviously people like them.

European hotels long ago took the opposite approach and never looked back. All European hotel shower heads (yes I’ve seen them all, it took me a while, but hey it’s an hobby) are connected to a hose that is connected to the wall. The shower heads can all be removed so that you can spray water directly onto whatever part of your body is the filthiest. For me, that’s the brain, my brain is the most filthy.

So with the knowledge that European shower nozzles are detachable, I always stand outside and reach into the shower timidly to turn it on. Here’s why. I don’t know what the fuck the shower head is going to do. The water pressure combined with the amount of hard-water deposits and a not-so-snug seat in the wall mount often result in the nozzle either rocketing off the holder or spinning in an unpredictable direction, shooting water out of the wall mount. The damned things turn left, they turn right they raise up or the blast down. There’s a greater than 70 percent chance that they will come alive and unsuspectingly blast me in the face.

Yes, I could reach up and remove the shower head, point the nozzle away from me and then turn the water on but, fuck you, it’s six in the morning and I haven’t had coffee yet. I prefer to play European roulette with my morning showers thank you very much.

While we’re on the subject of the bathrooms, the toilet in my room right now has a siren attached to it. Now I know if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you probably agree that I need a toilet siren, but that’s not what I mean. When I flush this toilet, some combination of water into the toilet and yuck out of the toilet creates this high pitched screech that resembles a siren/rape whistle. This is the only hotel I’ve ever experienced this in, but the hotel is in Europe and I feel it needs to be included in this piece.

I mentioned earlier that I used to travel to the U.S. a lot for work. For about six months I was crossing the Atlantic literally twice a month. It was a bit grueling. I was traveling with basically the same group of people and we all because fast friends. We generally stayed at the same Marriott every trip into D.C.

For reasons I don’t understand not every room in this hotel had a mini fridge. So one time during a very late night check in, we asked the receptionist if our rooms had mini fridges. She checked her computer, tapping buttons vigorously, and then seconds later explained that they did not.

Someone in our group asked if we could get rooms that did have them. She tilted her head like we had just asked a stupid question and informed us that they could deliver a mini refrigerator to each of our rooms at no cost if that was our wish.

I was shocked.

They could do this? This was an option? Had I died and gone to heaven? Yes, yes, please deliver to each of us a mini refrigerator. We have beer that must be chilled, you understand. Heady discussions about why airline travel sucked and morning hangovers are not made from warm beer.

A half an hour later a midget showed up at my room, where we all gathered, with three mini refrigerators on a dolly. I was later informed that he was not in fact a midget, but in my inebriated state and for the purpose of this story let me assure he was a midget and at that moment he was also a god.

Fluffy towels, functioning lights, a rainfall shower head, a mini fridge delivered by midgets in white coats and a toilet that doesn’t call the police? Oh friends, I was in heaven.


Three New Year’s Resolutions that were made to be broken

I can tell it’s a new year because I’m being very careful about writing the correct year.  I know in just a few short weeks I’m going to screw up and my brain will slip in a 2014 before I’m able to catch myself, but for the time being I am carefully writing the numbers 2 0 1 5 at the end of a date and then staring at it for 2,015 seconds to make sure it’s right .

Damn it!

Damn it!

So new year, new stuff. Shiny new beginnings, a fresh start, a chance to begin anew and what have you. Blah. I’ve never bought that shit. I’m sorry, maybe I’m an asshole. (Maybe? ~Fran) The fact that someone at some point decided that on a certain day we’d all agree the old year would be over and the next year would began excites me not much at all.

It’s kind of like Christmas in my mind, (and no I’m not going to just dump on New Year’s for a full blog like I did on Christmas) it’s just that we could have put this holiday anywhere on the calendar, but some ancient asshat decided the dead of winter was the best time.

New Year’s would just rock more at the end of July or the start of August. It’s still hot out, chicks would be in like shorts and tank-tops and, holy fuck, we still have more summer to go before the winter doldrums set in!

Think about it. Which would you rather do — party with scantily clad members of the opposite sex or  party with members of the opposite sex wearing parkas, gloves, hats , long johns and frozen private parts? If you picked the second one you have a mind I cannot comprehend, my friend.

And for fuck’s sake, we just had Christmas. We just had a major celebration last week, do we really need another so quickly? NO. Move that shit to August. That’s when we need one. When the weather is really nice out and everyone is locked inside climate-controlled production pods.

I could get behind a July New Year’s eve. Really I could.

But fuck this December/January shit. It sucks. I don’t want to celebrate any fucking new beginnings right now because there are none. Nothing is starting right now because the weather outside froze the car, the roads and my heart.

New Year's resolutions suck

I don’t have a clue who made this list but I want to find them, thank them and become their best friend. P.S. Suck it current best friend.


This is also why I hate fucking New Year’s resolutions. Fuck them all. Not one single New Year’s resolution has ever survived contact with the month of April. Sure there are exceptions, but they only prove the rule. New Year’s resolutions that actually work are like the lotteries that we have in the U.S. Sure someone wins, but it won’t be you.

Actually, didn’t I resolve a few paragraphs back that I wasn’t going to write another piece where I dumped on New Year’s like I did on Christmas? Well fuck, there goes that resolution already and we’re only a few hundred words into it.

Here we go. My resolutions for 2015.

I’m going to realize I’m fucking stupid

I am. I’m a fucking moron and I need to just look at it in the mirror and admit it. I’ve got a few accomplishments under my belt. I’ve done things of which I’m proud. I’ve done some really awesome things from time to time, but I’ve got to face facts — I’m a fucking idiot. At least half the reason I’m where I am today is because I’m a white-male American. Another 25 percent is just fucking dumb luck. The 25 percent of the reason I’m not homeless and living behind a convenience store right now is that I’ve somehow, magically, managed to not drive this crazy torpedo of a life into a ditch at the last second. Actually, I have no idea where I’m going with this resolution, I guess I’m so fucking dumb I forgot.

I’m going to stop giving a fuck about politics

Fuck politics. Really. I’m done. I’m out. I’m finished. It’s a fool’s errand and I’m out. Did you know I gave $25 a month to Hillary’s campaign before Obama was the nominee in 2008? I fucking did. See my previous resolution if you want to know why.

I thought she had better name recognition and that was all that mattered to me. The moment the Democrats picked Obama I was fully on board, although I never received a thank you from him for the $25 a month I gave him up until the election, but I was fully on board. The point is: I never, not once sat down and compared what their positions were on issues. Never. Not one time. All that was important to me was which one could beat the other side and that is politically stupid.

I used to laugh at people who voted for really obscure political candidates. You threw your vote away, I’d chuckle to myself knowingly.

“Ralph Nader,” I’d say with an eyeroll, “We’ll if you don’t value your ballot I guess you should vote for him.” Then I’d get punched in the face for being a dick, but that’s beside the point.

A vote cast toward a politician who can’t possibly win isn’t a vote thrown away, it’s vote that’s cast with belief and conviction which is a hell of a lot more valuable than my vote. I’m like a junkie at a horse track carefully studying the stats of each horse in hopes of finding some path though the fog. A vote for the obscure guy is someone standing up and stating they believe in something, damn the fucking odds.

Fuck politics. (Caveat: This resolution is null and void the moment I decide something political is interesting again).

I’m going to wean myself off Facebook

This resolution is pretty fucking funny mainly because most of you who are reading it are reading it because of Facebook. And look, who the fuck am I kidding, I’m not getting off Facebook. I’d like to, but I’m not. You’re all there and I like a crowd to play with. If you all decide tomorrow that you’re all headed back to some AOL chat room, I’m right there with you.

That said, I hate you Facebook with the passion of a wife in a relationship with an abusive man she loves. Facebook, you’re dicks. I’m smart enough to realize you have to be dicks to stay in business, but you’re still dicks.


Zuck, it sucks.


I’m not even embarrassed or even regretful about my drunken Facebook posts. Some of those are my favorite moments on Facebook. Some of the shit we end up talking about when I’m waist deep in a drunken beer fog are endlessly entertaining to me. I might momentarily cringe in the morning, but then I laugh when I read what everyone has said. I mean sure, I regret a few private messages here and there. (Fran — I again apologize, not so much for the photo, but for the detailed description that followed.)  (Todd — I had the photo made into a T-shirt — in Dagmar’s size. ~Fran)

It’s all the other stupid shit I see there. Which state are you? Find out what percentage of dork you are. Which flower best represents your soul? These are all Facebook trends I just made up. Fuck that shit. Look at all this technology, it’s literally brought the world together and what are we doing with it, discovering the beauty of our inner child with a quiz or whatever the current waste of time there? I’d bet our ancestors are pissed. I would be.

They’re like, “Hey fucktards instead of playing fuck-fuck games or sharing that 1,534th kitten photo, how about everyone umm, communicating a bit and try to work through some issues that face the world today, like how to resurrect long-dead ancestors.”

Anyway, fuck it. Welcome to 2015. Maybe I should’ve resolved to be less negative.

Do they know it’s Christmas? How the hell could they miss it?

Here are some things about Christmas that just flat out piss me off.

The first thing that pisses me off is the fact that’s I’m writing this. Basically, nothing says “privileged, white, middle-aged douche bag” like a privileged, white, middle-aged douche bag complaining about the holiday season. You know, it’s that time of year where giving, caring and forgiveness are in vogue, and here I am bitching up a storm about pointless holiday things that piss me off.

“Oh, lets all read what Mr. No Reason To Be Unhappy has to say about why he’s unhappy,” I can hear you all saying over the din of a million eye rolls.

And your largely right, except that having no reason to bitch about something absolutely gives me all the more inspiration to bitch about it. I’m all about the challenge with these kinds of topics. None of what I’m about to complain about is even vaguely valid or important in anyway, but I’m going to bitch about it anyway. I even like watching video’s of kids opening presents they’re really excited about. Watching a 7-year-old rip the wrapping off of a G.I. Joe with a Kung Fu grip (or whatever — I’m out of touch with the toy markets for 7 -year -olds) is always a great thing.

But there’s some other things (oh boy, are there some other things!) that really piss me off.

Let’s review:

Look at these presents under our tree. Ninety percent of them are gifts I’m giving to my wife or she’s giving to me.

Spoiler: These are all socks.

Spoiler: These are all socks.

What the fuck sense does that make? We’re two financially well-off adults. The other 364 days of the year, if either of us wants something, you know what we do? We buy it for ourselves. But this one day of the year we each toss $500 at Amazon for the other because “something” told us to?

It’s the same head-scratching situation every year. What do I want for Christmas? I don’t know the answer to that question even though it’s a valid question. It’s a fucking stretch to come up with ideas because for throughout the year we’ve just bought whatever the fuck we wanted. Kind of leaves the old “gosh it’d be cool if I had this item,” list a bit lacking you know?

So, you know what you end up with under the tree? Shit you didn’t want badly enough to purchase yourself. I don’t mean things I couldn’t justify buying for myself, and I don’t mean things that I couldn’t afford to buy for myself. No, I mean things that I just couldn’t be bothered to buy for myself. For instance, the complete series of Battlestar Galactica is under the tree waiting for me on Christmas morning. I watched part of season one once while traveling for work and thought, “Meh, that show’s OK.” But I couldn’t actually bother to log on to Amazon to, you know, buy the fucking thing myself.

So here I am in my mid-40s waiting to open gifts I was too lazy to buy for myself.

Next year I’m going to suggest she take her $500 and blow it on whatever she wants like massages, pedicures, cute hats for cats, whatever. I’m taking mine and investing heavily in strippers and beer because that at least would be good blog

It's Joseph would've wanted.

Santa and baby Jesus can come too but they have to bring their own money.

Another thing that bugs the fuck out of me about Christmas is the “Why” of it all.

Stay with me here.

Neither my wife nor I have a religious bone in our bodies. I’m an atheist and I can’t think of her ever having a single religious thought. It’s not like either of us are excited about Christmas because it’s the day Jesus was born. As a lot of people know, the idea of a midwinter holiday actually predates Christianity. Because why not throw down and party in the gloomy middle of winter?

But the midwinter theory kind of pisses me off even worse. Now I’m following some ancient-random custom because those fuckers didn’t know if they’d live ’til March? What the fuck?

I once read that it was kind of a last -ditch celebration before the starvation of January and February set in. Which is fine, I get that. But how the fuck is that valid today? The vast majority of us aren’t starving anymore in winter, we have fully functional heating systems and I can make it as bright as the sun in our house through the use of that wonderful invention the light-bulb.

The thought that people used to celebrate this time of year because it was the midway point between fall and spring makes no fucking sense to me in this day and age.

At least you Christian types believe there is a valid reason to celebrate and I envy that. I’m stuck trying to figure out what a busybody fat man in a red suit living with elves and reindeer north of the Arctic circle have to do with the birth of some kid in the middle east.

Be honest with me here, this has baffled you too. What the fuck does chopping down a tree, putting lights everywhere, exchanging gifts and singing obnoxious songs that contain the phrase “fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la” have to do the birth of a baby?

None of that shit passes the commonsense test, not even for a moment.

Some fat old man sneaks into your house after spying on you for a whole fucking year and leaves you presents? No, fuck that. That sounds fucking creepy actually. I’m pretty sure grown up Jesus would punch that dude right in the dick for pulling that kind of stunt.

Like this, only with Light Sabers.

Like this, only with light sabers.

Here’s another thing that pisses me off about the holidays. This I think pisses a lot of people off actually. Why the fuck do stores have to start putting up holiday shit immediately after Halloween or even earlier?

The answer is sales right? Gotta get those precious holiday shopper dollars into the till because the holiday season is the only time that a lot of stores make any profit. That’s the answer, right?

Look, I didn’t major in business or anything, but I’d hazard a guess that if your business model succeeds or fails because of sales during eight specific weeks out of a year, then your business model sucks.

I could be wrong, hell I probably am wrong, but that just seems like a stupid way to do business. What if I approached you and asked you to invest in my new business, but we were going to lose money 10 months out of the year and then, only if the economy was good, make money during a narrow eight-week period?

You’d think I was a fucking idiot.

It’s even happening here in Germany, at least on the military bases. Once Halloween is over, out go the princess and vampire costumes at the Post Exchange and it’s all ho, ho, ho from that moment onward. I made the mistake of going into the “Power Zone” (a military store that specializes in electronics) on Black Friday because I needed a small adapter for a computer on Black Friday. I never made it past the front door because there was apparently a riot going on.

In an overseas enclave of Americans who rely largely on the mail for most of their purchases there was a Black Friday shopping frenzy going on.

Next year I’m suggesting to Dagmar that I buy her a pack of playing cards and that she buys me a Playboy.

Actually, never mind.  Fuck the Playboy.

Actually, never mind. Fuck the Playboy.

Finally, and thanks to a good friend Adrian for this suggestion, the war on Christmas really pisses me off. It pisses me off because there is no fucking war on Christmas. There’s not.

I consume my cable news before going to work in the morning and it’s a choice between Fox News and Tavis Smiley (who names their kid that by the way). I choose Fox because even they don’t suck as much of Tavis does. Sorry, it’s the truth. Those of you who know me know I can be a rabid liberal and even I would rather have right wing talking points hurled at me over my morning coffee than listen to Tavis’ pointless banter with which ever guest is shilling a new product on that particular day.

So I do hear that shit all the time. There’s a war on Christmas! The progressives, liberals, communists, and for all I know sweet baby Jesus are waging a war on Christmas.

Listen up, I don’t want you to take this personally, I don’t want to offend you and I don’t want you to stop reading, I just want to clear this up: There is no war on Christmas. None. Zero. No shots fired, no casualties, no territory lost or gained, because there is no war.

Some people even alluded to this on Facebook. “I have to say Happy Holiday’s now I can’t say Merry Christmas it’s a war on Christmas!”

Is it a war on Christmas if you stop and consider that the person to whom you want to wish good tidings might not celebrate Christmas? If that’s offensive to you, then save your tidings because you don’t give a shit about the person anyway.

Nativity scene removed from a public building?

This is American where there’s a separation of church and state. Once upon a time, not so long ago, that was enforced. Then Glenn Beck came along and turned a lot of loud-mouthed people into holy rollers-ala-Beck. Now if someone says, “Ya know, that Nativity in the middle of the courthouse lobby seems to fly in the face of separation of church and state,” those people are persecuted.

Someone at Walmart wished you a Happy Holiday, not a war on Christmas.  Your boss said Season’s greetings to you, not a war on Christmas. Did you’re crazy Uncle Ed send you something about that Muslim bastard from Kenya proposing a new law that would ban Christmas in the United States?

OK, that one’s probably legit.

There is no fucking war on Christmas. Go outside, look around you. Christmas is everywhere. Christmas is the world’s most powerful military. A million times more powerful than today’s most powerful military and if there was a war it would consist of four guys drinking in a bar at four in the morning and talking shit about how they could totally destroy Christmas.

Maybe I suck at metaphors, but there isn’t a war on Christmas. Never has been.

Next year when Dagmar donates $500 to Greyhound Rescue charities, I’m using my $500 to start a war on Christmas. My arsenal will be a bat and I will scurry about in the dark of night bashing in inflatable-Santa faces and eating Frosty noses. Except, that sounds like more of a war on yard ornaments. I’ll have to give it more thought.

Seasons greetings!

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A tale of three (practical) jokes …

The best practical jokes were the simplest.

Do you have a three-hole punch in your office? Does it have a bottom on it that collects the punched holes and, after a lot of usage, needs to be emptied?

If you answered yes, then you my friend have a great, ready to go, practical joke.

What you do is this. Take the hole punches and empty them on to your desk. Then push them all into a neat little pile.

Next you take an important-looking memo, document or folder and, on the back of that item, you tape a smaller piece of paper, or light cardstock, with only one piece of tape so that it makes a trap door. Then you load hole punches between the document and the trap door and carefully place the whole thing on the targets keyboard or desk so that when they pick it up, hole punches rain down like confetti.

We called this trick confetti bombing.

I learned this little trick working with a group of guys who perfected, then redefined and further perfected the office practical joke.

I’m not kidding. During the years 2000 to 2002 I worked with a group who took office practical jokes to a level I never considered possible.

These are some of those stories.

A lot of you know Mike from my Facebook feed. He’s a good friend, the best of friends actually. What you might not know about Mike is that he’s a retired Marine. A retired gunnery sergeant, in fact. If you know anything about Marines you know this — befriend one and you have a friend for life.

While Mike was taking his son to school one day, his truck had a flat tire. Fixing a flat, as you know, takes time. This made his son late for school, but hey, that’s what flat tires do, they make you late. Mike assumed this explanation was good enough. A flat tire is a reasonable reason to be late. Unfortunately, for Mike his son already had some tardiness issues and his son’s proclamations that Dad’s truck had a flat fell on deaf ears. The school threatened to suspend the boy unless Mike stopped by the office that day.

Mike, being a bit hot under the collar, did not understand why the school would not take his son’s word for it. At the conclusion of the school day, he pulled into the parking lot and proceeded to drag the flat tire straight into the principal’s office. I know he did this because I was in his truck with him when he did it. Mike and I taught photojournalism to military students at the time and as such always had a camera of some sort with us. I took photos of Mike leaving the school’s administrative offices carrying a flat tire with a slightly apologetic smile on his face.

Flat but with more anger.

Flat but with more anger.

End of story right?

Yeah no.

We were devious bastards. When it became known that Mike had gotten hot under the collar and taken his flat tire into the office of a local high-school principle the others in my officer were giddy. This situation was ripe joke fodder and ideas began to gel.

We ran with it. Someone, I don’t recall who, drafted up an official-looking memo, purportedly from Mike’s Marine Corps leadership, instructing Mike that he would have to repay the school community for this gross transgression. First, the letter directed, Mike was going to have to give a class to the entire student body about anger management, second he was going to have personally apologize to the principal and staff for dragging a tire into their office, and finally, he’d have to write a personal letter of apology to the principal, Mr. Seymour Dicks.

Both Marine officers in our department, who were all too happy to help with the joke, called Mike into the senior guys “office” which was nothing more than a glorified cubicle with little, if any, privacy.

So about the letter. You see what we did there right? The three things Mike was directed to do filled him with so much rage, he never noticed the “see more dicks” part of the joke. It took one of the officers actually verbalizing to a red-faced Mike that he’d have to write a letter of apology to “Mr. See More Dicks,” for Mike to finally get it. The officer has to literally break it down for Mike because he was so furious.

“No Gunny, you’re not getting it. You have to write a letter to a Mr. See. More. Dicks. Get it? See more dicks Gunny.”

When Mike’s lightbulb went on, all eight or nine of us gathered outside the cubicle erupted in a wave a laughter that seriously caused several of us to have to sit down. I don’t recall if it was relief that the whole thing was a joke, or that he the realized he’d just been a butt of a pretty elaborate practical joke (or a combination of both most likely) that caused Mike to, between his own fits of laughter, swear revenge.

It was that kind of office. Were you in hurry to leave early on a Friday? Did everyone know it? Expect to find your car keys in a frozen bowl of ice in the office freezer. Did you not lock your computer before leaving to teach a class? Then you could expect to send an embarrassing email to the rest of the staff in your absence. Your car would even be routinely moved and your keys placed exactly where you left them so that after work you started to think you were losing your mind.

We had a Coast Guard warrant officer who was an insanely talented photographer, a great instructor, a huge, with a capital H, fan of baseball and a devious-practical joker.

He was about to depart for a few weeks of leave and I started thinking about how I was going to get him back for the jokes he’d played on me. I had seen a photograph on the internet of someone having their cubicle filled with packing peanuts. I knew from experience that our supply people routinely had vast, and I mean vast (they couldn’t be carried by one man), bags of packing peanuts.

Like this but with less foil and more peanuts.

Like this but with less foil and more peanuts.

Chief went on leave and I mentioned my idea to a co-worker. The details were worked out and yeah the Chief’s cube was duly filled with packing peanuts. I can even recall thinking we set up the joke too quickly. The Chief wasn’t due back for a few weeks and every visitor to the office wanted to know what the hell was up with that office cubicle.

In fact, the joke was almost anti-funny by the time he finally returned. Anyone on vacation for two weeks in that office knew they were walking back into a joke scenario of some sort. He came back, cursed and laughed, tore open the saran wrap barrier we had erected to hold in the packing peanuts, packing peanuts went everywhere, we eventually cleaned it up for him (hey it’s only fair) and everything was rainbows and puppies going forward, right?

No, that devious motherfucker’s head got to thinking. I mention before that this guy was a huge baseball fan and had all the memorabilia to prove it. All of it was in his cubicle. A hat signed by some famous baseball player, an autographed glove and above all a shit-ton of baseball cards. Many of them prominently on display.

He was really into baseball cards.

He waited about three days to enact his revenge, and then came to talk to me in my cube.

It was a great joke he said, he wished he’d have pulled it off himself, he said. He thought it was great, but there was one problem: One of his more expensive baseball cards was missing. He asked me when we had filled up his cube, and he said he needed to know because if it was right before he returned it could mean someone stole it from his cube. I told him we filled it up the day that he went on leave.

He sighed.

He told me that he thought we might have thrown the card away during our cleanup efforts. There was really no other explanation and it kind of made sense. There were fucking packing peanuts everywhere for the love of god. I knew, I’d cleaned them up. Had we inadvertently thrown away a valuable baseball card? It was possible.

Now, if we’d have pulled the prank the day before he came home, then there were all sorts of other explanations about what might have happened to the card, but considering that the cubicle was covered in packing peanuts, there was only one real explanation.

I debated with him for a moment or two, but it became pretty obvious to me that yeah, I’d probably somehow swept it into a bag with all the packing peanuts. I admitted that I was likely the cause of the loss and asked him how much it would cost to replace. He told me. I don’t recall how much it was, but it was enough that I was going to have to tell Dagmar about my fuck up.

I told him I’d bring him a check the next morning and he thanked me, apologized again for the situation and let me stew until the next morning when I showed up with the checkbook (which Dagmar rarely let me use) before falling on the floor in a gut-busting fit of laughter and let me off the hook.

Yeah, maybe revenge IS the funniest joke after all, dickhead.

And so it went.

There used to be (and for all I know still is) a feature in Microsoft Word that allows you to automatically change a word into another word when its typed in a document. Did you just type the word “awesome?” Well, there was a way to make word “awesome” automatically change that word to “fuckface.” It was a handy feature for the jokesters. Endless fun was had by those in the know when some new person came along. A favorite in my office when I was teaching photojournalism was to change the word photograph to pretty picture. Oh, the howls you’d hear from the uninitiated.

The third and final epic joke involved one of those “executive” cubicles with the walls that almost, but not quite, reached the office ceiling. It belonged to one of the instructors who taught the advanced courses and it had a door that locked. The key to the door had long ago been lost so if the door was closed you were forced to climb over the wall and jump down to open the door.

It was a rarely used gag employed to get a quick laugh if the instructor was in a hurry.

Someone, I don’t recall who, suggested we fill the fucker with balloons. At first the idea seemed folly. How the hell are we all going to fill enough balloons to cover such a huge area? Then someone mentioned they had an electric air compressor that could easily fill balloons and the idea went from “if” to “when” territory.

When the target of the joke took a Friday off,  poor guy took time off, it was game on. We became some sort of assembly line of mischief, filling, tying off and placing balloon after balloon into the locked cubicle. Some evil bastard even placed a few water balloons on the floor so the poor guy couldn’t just pop them willy-nilly. We honestly worked late into the night making it happen. Eventually, the cubicle filled up.

Monday morning, all of us gathered around the community meeting area with cups of coffee and watched as the target once again climbed the outside wall of his cube, only to discover his office filled with balloons. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This normally mild-mannered, soft spoken, polite and well dressed man turn his head toward us from atop his cubicle wall and said, “You motherfuckers.” It’s a speech I will never forget. Someone told him about the water balloons (I think we had rethought the wisdom of that decision over the weekend) and one of us volunteered to jump in and open the door. As always we cleaned it up. It’s not funny if someone suffers, the only fun is the reaction.

It all ended of course. Nothing that awesome can go on forever.  A new member to the team came, and a few people knew her and warned me about her. I was the guy in charge by this point and I’d been taught to let people stand on their own legs. Don’t prejudge. Which is what we all agreed to do, let her stand on her own two legs and we’d form our own decisions.

She honestly fit right in. You couldn’t leave an unlocked email account around her, she had an excellent ability to bullshit and she honestly brought a fresh viewpoint the jokes.

Case in point. We had one massive classroom that, in the back had several cages the held the student’s camera equipment. Each instructor had the key to his own cage. She waited until all the students were out of the room and had her students move my camera equipment cage so that the doors were reversed and against the wall. She had her kids drag this huge metal cage out. Turn it 180 degrees and put in back so that it looks completely normal until my kids tried to put their camera’s away.

Well done, well fucking done. She was upping the game.

It ended with a piece of cake. That’s it a piece of cake.

Someone on my team took a photo of the new girl eating a piece of cake. Then, in what in that office would’ve been considered a rather boring joke, photoshopped the cake to make it look like her plate held a massive amount of cake. Get it? In the photo she’s eating a lot of cake, like an amount of cake no person could ever possibly eat.

On a funny scale of one to ten it’s barely a two. No one considered it even anything more. It was a sort of lame, vaguely funny but not really joke.

Except she didn’t think so. Turns out she had a bulimic, anorectic or what the fuck ever eating disorder as a kid and didn’t find it funny at all*. She went straight to the grownups. The school’s leadership got wind of it and before you knew it I was sitting before the man assuring them that the games were in fact over, that we would stop the shenanigans and yes, I understood that this time they really meant it.

But all the while I couldn’t help but think, really? This is what pushed us over the edge? This cake photo? You’re kidding me? Did anyone ever tell you about the time we signed that Air Force guy up for all the gay newsletters?

Really, this ends with a cake photo?

* In hindsight, getting older and heck I don’t know, just trying to be a better human I know completely understand that this could’ve been traumatic for her. She didn’t ask to be assigned to our little joke-filled office and did her damn best to keep up until a seemingly innocent joke from our point of view stirred up some crappy emotions for her. I’m sorry Air Force lady, no one ever meant for a second to upset you.

An insane person cleans my house

After this many years of marriage you would think I’d have a clue. But here’s a clue: I don’t. I don’t have one clue about when the deep clean is about to happen in our house until I walk into the middle of it. This usually means I walk into a room on a Saturday morning to discover my wife has morphed into a Tasmanian devil and is vigorously scrubbing each cat with Pine-Sol while yelling something about cleansing our home of germs with fire.

I think my wife, when she’s in the cleaning mood, could be declared legally insane. I’ve often considered recording her actions and showing them to mental health professionals for future legal use when she eventually decides my innards are germ-encrusted disease factories (If you’ve ever smelled my post beer-binge farts you might agree.), and she fixes that problem by knocking me out and administering an ammonia enema or something.

Like this, only with hatred for germs.
Like this, only with hatred for germs.

You think I’m kidding?

Let me explain a few of her maniacal cleaning antics.

Our house is strewn with rugs. Not carpet — rugs — the kind that can be flipped upside down. During these psychotic cleaning sessions not only does she vacuum the tops of the rugs, she turns the rugs over and vacuums the underside. Now, I can hear you say, “That’s a good idea, there’s dirt there and vacuuming both sides of the rug is a great way to ensure it’s clean.”

To which I say, you’re a fucking mess and are probably just as dangerous as she is.

There’s one thing I want to be clear about here. I’m not just some husband who is bitching about cleaning the house.

We clean our house basically every weekend. It’s not the kind of cleaning where we rip apart our entire house and ruin our weekend in search of dirt.

It’s a pretty normal kind of cleaning. Vacuum, mop, dust, laundry, wipe down the kitchen and “sanitize” the old internet history (if you know what I mean), kind of clean the house.

I do that with her every weekend. I’ve learned a lot by doing it. I know I can’t run a vacuum for shit, but I can fucking mop like a pro. I know not to clean the countertop with Windex if the wife is looking. I’ve learned I’m better and faster at changing the sheets on the bed. I’ve learned I suck at the washing of the laundry but rock at folding it, and I’ve learned I’ve gone on too long now about my household cleaning abilities.

I’m not talking about a husband who hates cleaning the house. I don’t like it, but hell, I helped dirty it, so I don’t mind helping to clean it up. What I’m talking about is when she has the desire to strip a room of everything and absolutely create a cleaningpalooza atmosphere that will take exactly the entire weekend to finish. That’s today’s topic: Those odd moods when she gets to just go all Rambo on the house and fires off disinfectant like a commando.

I get that cleaning the house to within an inch of its life is a needed and valuable thing on occasion. We humans are filthy beasts. We’re constantly shedding skin flakes, we urinate and defecate, we prepare food that can be thriving with germs and viruses and I fart a lot.

What I don’t get is why the decision to clean the hell out of the house has to commence with the secrecy of a military operation. She has never given me any warning that she’s decided she’s going to do it some particular weekend.

Never once has she said, “This weekend we are going to napalm the fuck out of all the germs in the house.”

Not once has she ever turned to me on any weekday and said, “Hey this weekend — I’m going to work you like a rented mule cleaning every nook and cranny come Saturday.”

That’s the part that drives me nuts. Why? Why would that be so hard to do? Just fucking say, “Hey honey, here’s the plan for the weekend.”

Why the secrecy? Are the germs on guard, tucked down in bunkers waiting for an invasion? Dagmar launches these attacks seemingly out of the blue. After all these years I have nary a clue when the weekend is about to be consumed in pursuit of germocide. One minute it’s Friday night and I’m swilling beer, and the next it’s Saturday morning and I’m hungover holding a mop. It’s like I went on a bender and was drafted into some weird cleaning crew army while blacked out.

It could even be OK if she made an announcement that very morning over coffee.

“Enjoy this rare moment of calm, honey, because I’m about to go ape shit on some full-fucking house cleaning, so strap the fuck in,” she could say as I flicked the sleep boogers from my eyes.

But nope, it just happens.

The signs are clear once they appear. Every room is systematically stripped of anything she’s strong enough to move, which is most of it. The last time it happened I came up from the basement (where the man cave is located) and discovered a heap of living room rugs on the stair landing. I knew it was game on. I’ve played this game before, I’d seen this movie a thousand time and I was just as terrified as the first time I experienced it.

The best move I can make on “kill all germs in the house” day is too listen to orders and when possible, escape. I valiantly volunteer for missions I would normally balk at.

Need me to run to the store to return 25 items you bought but lost the receipts for honey? Not a problem. Need me to pick up feminine hygiene products that won’t scan correctly at the check out? I’m your man. Need me to stab myself in the eyes while driving away from this crazy, crazy scene? Hell honey, let me start a list, because I am going to do all these things for you if it gets me out of insane clean the house day.

Here’s some things about “kill all the germs in the house” day that I’ll never understand:

1: Vacuuming both sides of the rugs. But we’ve already covered that.

2: The lifting of TVs, DVD players and assorted electronic devices so the area under them can be dusted.

3: Removing the ceiling fastened lighting domes from every room and washing them in the sink.

4: Using toothbrushes that are dedicated to getting to the bottom of who knows what. I’m too terrified to look. I think it involves plumping though.

5: Routinely moving major appliances to clean under them.

She used to scrub all the floors on her hands and knees, because, I don’t know. One of the greatest accomplishments of my marriage was the introduction of the mop. It was like showing an undiscovered primitive tribe in the Amazon a Bic lighter.

She once instructed me to move a stack of firewood in the garage to the other side of the garage so she could sweep where the pile of firewood once was. I’m not joking at all. That was literally the request. This is the same woman who will sweep the dirt up from a patio into a trashcan and not into the grass.

This is the level of weird cleaning I’m dealing with.

There were warning signs in the beginning that this would happen to me, sure. But I ignored them all because who the fuck as a newlywed notices shit like that?

“Sure honey, I’ll scrub the tile with a toothbrush with you because hell, we’re naked together,” was my reaction back then, but now it’s just like, “Why the fuck are we scrubbing anything with a toothbrush? This is just fucking weird and we’re wearing clothes for fuck’s sake.”

Facebook weighs in ...
Facebook weighs in …

Post script:

As I was writing this, I learned a lot by talking to you all on Facebook.

I learned that most of you reading this are either lazy as fuck or filthy animals. In some cases probably both. How many of you fucks are billionaires or some shit.

“Well, Todd, I don’t do a deep-clean or clean at all. I have a person who does that for me, it’s called the cleaning lady.”

What the fuck? You have people come clean your house? Seriously and shit? That thread is like 80 responses deep and I went way off the chain in it, but seriously, a lot of you either just don’t clean or have a house cleaner? That’s amazing.

OK, I wanted a house cleaning person too and joked with Dagmar for years in the military that when I was promoted to master sergeant we were hiring a cleaning person. Then, when I found out I made master sergeant and I called and told her about my promotion, she said something like, “Great, but we’re not getting a fucking cleaning lady.”

And here’s the weird shit to toss around in your brain. While she fucking cleans like a maniac, other shit in the house that you think would bug a clean freak doesn’t seem too. Our bath towels aren’t fit to dry a homeless dog. Most of them are threadbare, frayed fucking antiques that predate our marriage. They don’t so much as dry you off post shower as sandpaper the water off of your skin. I wouldn’t use one to apply pressure if either of us were ever bleeding from a knife wound. They’re that sketchy. Yet I’m expected to dry my balls with them. A shitty fucking towel tucked into a spotless cabinet. What the fuck sense does that make? I’ve suggested more than once we just replace all of them and I always get a look from her that makes me think I’m the weirdo.


WTF is going on with law enforcement

When I was about 15 the cops gave me a “ride” home after I confessed to having a joint.

My friend and I were in the bushes along a canal in Phoenix when a patrol car rolled by and my friend started to run away. I continued to sit there as if sitting in the bushes on the banks of a canal was a completely normal thing to do. (Technically, it was normal for us. We did it a lot. There we’d sit every day hunched in the bushes smoking a joint.)

When the cop came by, we had vastly different reactions. My friend’s reaction was to run, where he hoped to run to I have no idea, but my reaction was to basically wave hello.

“Great, the police are keeping our canals safe from canal pirates,” I thought. Or something. Who knows what I thought, I was a stupid teenager.

Now, I don’t remember what I was wearing because, and I’d swear to this, it was non-descript. I was likely in jeans and a polo. My friends, on the other hand, had some rougher edges from a fucked up family life and that fact was advertised by a mohawk, leather jacket and a straight up fear of the police.

My friends sudden interest in improving his cardiovascular fitness alerted law enforcement to our marihuana-flavored activities. Moments later they were out of the car questioning and searching us.

For reasons I don’t understand or have forgotten, the police felt a cigarette pack through my friend’s leather jacket and, without pulling out the cigarette pack,  asked him what was in there. He confessed there was a joint in the packet.

Submitted as evidence, a joint.

Submitted into evidence, a joint.

When the cigarette pack was searched and no joint was found all eyes turned to me.

I cheerfully volunteered that I had the joint. I think my logic went along this line: They will search you, they will find it and they will be angry. Offer up the fucking joint and that defuses the situation a bit.

The point of this is that I’m white, I’m male and I guess I’m sort of privileged. I came from a middle-class family and was raised to trust the police. In the house I grew up in, in a suburban middle-class neighborhood, I was taught to trust the police.

The police caught me doing something wrong. That meant it was now cooperation time, not make the policeman madder time.

Friendly police officer. Only with 100% less tactical vest.

Friendly police officer. Only with 100 percent less tactical vest.

This mindset didn’t change going forward. I moved to Europe in 2003. So between that little joint incident and my coming here something like 20 years have gone by. My police interactions after that have been confined to a few traffic stops where I was likely in the wrong and once when my stepdaughter complained about the treatment of a neighbor’s dog. Her assessment of that dog’s treatment was completely correct and I was happy to help the officer take a statement.

As I said a moment ago, I live in Europe. I’ve lived here far too long, I freely admit. But in this day and age it’s not hard to immerse yourself in U.S. news via the internet even if you live abroad. Following the U.S. news it just seems like the police there will just ruin, if not end, your life without asking any questions. The police in America have tanks now, they storm your bathroom while your pooping and do other crazy thing.  From here, across the pond, it looks like they’ve been going and are continuing to go, fucking crazy.

What I’m getting at is, I get the rage in Ferguson, even if I’m a stupid privileged white guy whose only serious interaction with the police was as a dumb teenager with a joint.

Since moving to Europe, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of U.S. law enforcement officers while traveling to the U.S. Mostly the big wigs I traveled with would head into some meeting and I’d be stuck outside with the people who were charged with protecting them, ordinary cops who drew the protection detail that day. We always hung out and just shot the shit. They were salt of the earth people it seemed. Everyone of them. OK, the LA cops were a bit fucking insane, but the guys working in New York City and Chicago were reasonable enough. Sure, they’d spout off about some kid walking by with sagging pants and a backward baseball cap, but it was more of a, “How’s that kid going to get a job looking like that?” I’d comment that said kid would hopefully change before participating in any serious interviews and they’d bust my balls, not literally of course because my balls remain unbusted.

They weren’t scary, they had some hilarious stories and where the kind of police I remembered as a kid. I’d happily walk my, white and privileged, 3-year-old nephew up to any one of them to have a quick discussion about how police catch bad guys and about how you can always ask a policeman for help.

But again, living over here and relying only on news coverage, that seems less and less like a sane idea. I know there are more than 780,000 police officers in the U.S. (I thought that would be a higher number actually) and that if you count it as number of police officers per citizen we rank way down on the list with one cop per 248 civilians and I learned that if you keep screwing around with that spreadsheet you’ll learn just how little you know about the different countries of the world. Where the hell is Saint Kitts and Nevis anyway? What the fuck country is that?

There are a hell of a lot of cops and the ones who make national headlines aren’t making them for helping little old ladies cross the street or rescuing kittens from terrorists. I understand that, that isn’t the stuff of news. But take it from a law-abiding (generally), white dude with a pretty positive view of American law enforcement, you mother fuckers need a public image makeover.

To close out the story I started this blog with, the police took us both home and handed us over to our parents. No police report, no judge, no nothing other than the ire of an Irish Catholic mother with rage in her eyes. That was the extent. I think my mom and I had to meet with my friend and his dad at a coffee shop some days later to discuss the severity of the situation and I was grounded as fuck, but that was it. No legal trail, no criminal background and no “The Cure” concert that I really, really fucking wanted to go to and already had tickets to.

If I’d have been an inner city black kid back then caught doing the same shit, who knows what the outcome would have been. Night in jail, the start of a criminal background I couldn’t have escaped and I sure as fuck wouldn’t have gone to a “The Cure” concert, but that was unlikely even without the joint incident.

Not a The Cure concert.  (image credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

Not a The Cure concert. (image credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

I asked my high school friend to read the part about the joint incident to see if I was basically on track. Between the two of us I figured we could reasonably piece that story back together. He approved my retelling and reminded me of another gem from my past.

This was an incident involving the Phoenix Police Department, that, thankfully, didn’t involve drugs.

My friend had gone with his dad to Mexico on a fishing trip and brought back some M-80 firecrackers, which were rumored to actually be a quarter stick of dynamite and would explode underwater. So, because we had the mental capacity of 15-year-olds, we immediately headed to the canal to test this theory. They didn’t explode underwater, but they made great explosion, after explosion, after explosion. We’d never had such fun. We were having so much fun that we didn’t notice the cops had arrived until it was far, far too late. As this story could be a blog about police conduct when you’re a stupid white kid in a middle-class neighborhood, I’ll save it for later maybe. The consequences of our lighting off the firecrackers? They were confiscated and we were told us to stop fucking off at the canal. I think the phrase was, “We’re going to let you criminals off with a warning.”

This is a shitty story

A few years ago I was traveling a lot for work. It was always hectic and I was constantly running here and there, staying overnight in a new hotel in a new city three weeks out of the month.

This proves to be a slight problem for a homebody like me, most especially when it comes to pooping. Yes, you read that correctly. Don’t act like your shit don’t stink. We all poop. It’s a life necessity. You know the old saying, “You only have to do three things in life, pay taxes, shit and die.” (OK, so I made up that last part. Whatever.)

Anyhow, I am very particular when it comes to pooping. I choose to only drop a deuce in the sanctity of my own home, or in the glistening private toilet of my hotel room when traveling.

Another monkey wrench when it comes to traveling is that my normally Dagmar-dictated healthy diet is interrupted by my inability to turn down garbage food.

Hot dog ...

So, so delicious. I’m salivating right now.

When traveling I tend to eat the most unhealthy food you can imagine. I don’t want to join my coworkers at some vegan, breast milk-sauteed, kind-harvested, free-range lettuce bar.

I’m more of an overcooked convenience store hot dog kind of dude on the road. My diet sinks to the lowest of the low and then sinks even lower.

Pork rinds and beer for dinner? Sure. Spaghettios eaten cold from the can and washed down with beer? Why not.

When I’m away it’s just “garbage in.”

So let’s review

I’m a very-private pooper and when I’m home my wife does her best to make sure I’m eating healthy, but when traveling I shovel processed bullshit down my pie hole.

On a business trip a few years ago these two quirks collided.

After a full day of traveling, I’d arrived at the hotel before my room was ready. Normally that would be a bitch, but on this trip it was no big deal because there was no time to dawdle before getting down to business. My only option was to leave my luggage at the front desk and collect it after work.

Moments later, my traveling partner and I headed to the office where our duties would commence. Because we were in Europe and dealing with people on the East Coast of the U.S., we worked through the night to compensate for the time difference. We didn’t wrap up until about 2 a.m. the following day.

In the midst of working I just ate whatever was at hand.

Because my body was accustomed to eating well, I could feel the familiar bad travel food bubbling in my stomach. Since I was nowhere near either aforementioned proper pooping place, I decided to suffer through the pain and hold it.


Need I say more?

A normal person would listen to their body, ignore their idiosyncrasies and head to the nearest bathroom. A normal person would be like, “It’s just shit. Get rid of it, brutha.”

But not my stupid brain. Nope.

My idiot brain says, “You can hold that until later. We’ll go back to our hotel room and do it there.”

Because my brain hates me.

When my coworker and I arrived back at the hotel lobby he decided we should chat about what the following day’s schedule would be.

At this point, literally, all I can think about is going to my room to use the bathroom.

As he drones on and on, I start daydreaming about using the hotel lobby restroom. But I’ve held off shitting for so long now that, even though I’m fantasizing about breaking my stupid rule, I continue to hold it because I’m a complete moron.

Seriously think about that fact for a moment.  In the hotel lobby at two in the morning when my coworker and I are the only ones there I refused to go use that bathroom.

I have no idea what my coworker was saying. My head was swimming. When he finally says goodnight, I’m panting and sweating. I rush past a bathroom and make a beeline for the elevator.

Here’s where it all goes to shit.

In the elevator it’s private, quiet and two in the morning.

My body, wracked with pain from holding back what I can only imagine is a monumental turd of epic proportions, tells my brain, “Hey, this place is perfect. Take a load off,”

My brain tells my body to shut the fuck up because we’re in a goddamned elevator.

My body is tired of being told to shut up.

I don’t know exactly what happened and I can’t recall any specific trigger point, but it began with a shudder and then a roar. There was no way to stop it. My body was in full revolt and, obviously, full of shit.

There’s just no delicate way to say this: If my bowels could talk they would have bellowed, “Freedom!” like Mel Gibson in Braveheart.

I just simply began to shit my pants. I don’t mean I farted and a little bit of poop came out. I mean, I started to shit my pants. I was like some weird overfilled Playdoh spaghetti maker. I had to literally – in the proper use of the word – hold my ass cheeks together with my hands in an effort to maintain some kind of control. But the reality was, there was no way to control this torrent.  My colon, or whatever I have down there, had enough and the shitgates opened. This wasn’t a solid shit either. Solid never follows belly bubbles. This was liquid and it was not going to be easily contained. As an uncontrollable waterfall of scat spilled down the back of my legs, the elevator doors opened and I waddled in some spastic duck walk to my room. After fumbling with the key card to get in, I did a combination duck-walk bunny hop into the bathroom.

If the bathroom could talk it would recount the moment by quoting Revelations 6:8 “and hell followed with him.” (Shit, is that blasphemous?)

Dirty bathroom

This bathroom is relatively clean in comparison.

Before I could lift the lid to the toilet my body just said, “Fuck you, we’re alone now in the bathroom, I’m letting loose.”

And let loose it did.

As I desperately tried to pull off my pants, my ass was just spraying shit. First it was spaying shit in my pants. Then, as I lowered my pants and aimed my ass at the toilet, it sprayed shit on the wall. As I tried to raise the toilet seat, it sprayed shit on the toilet seat.

By the time I managed to actually sit on the pot, the fire hose was a trickle.

I took inventory of the situation before me.

There was shit in my pants and on my pants. It was in my shoes and on my shoes. It was on the walls. It covered the toilet. It was all over the floor. I sat in dismay and disgust just surveying the damage and thinking about what the fuck happened.

I mean, there was shit on the toilet paper roll mounted next to the toilet for fuck’s sake and I hadn’t even wiped yet.

At some point you just have to start “recovery operations” in a story like this.

Every great “there was shit everywhere” story has a moment where you start to clean up. I stripped off my pants, shorts, socks and shoes and dumped them into the bathtub and began running hot water. Next up, I grabbed all the washcloths and hand towels and began to wipe up my filth, little swath by little filthy swath. Each wipe was followed by hot water and soap. Wipe, wipe, rinse, rinse. Before long the bathroom was reasonably clean looking (the smell was disgusting sure) and every towel in the joint was stained.

I looked at the muddied bathwater and realized the pants and socks were a total loss, but I was still wearing my shirt, and tie …

Holy fuck, I realized, the pants were not only a total loss, but they were now soaking wet. Soaking wet shit-covered dress slacks.

And I had no luggage.

In my hurry say goodnight to my coworker and rush to my bathroom, I hadn’t picked up my luggage. I had no clothes in the room.

I was trapped.

While I won’t name the hotel I will say this about it: It is a hotel that caters to military people. It isn’t a major chain and I knew the staff on hand numbered no more than five at this hour and wasn’t going to be very responsive.

But, I was naked from the waist down and everything I could wear to cover my naughty bits was covered in shit and soaking wet.  I pondered putting on my dress shirt, wrapping a towel around my waist and going to lobby to get my luggage.

That particular course of action seemed to fall into the “last resort” category for reasons that are obvious.

It was hopeless. I was going to have to call the front desk for help.

As the phone rang, I converted to Christianity.

“Please Jesus,” I prayed, “make sure a dude picks up.”

You see, I was going to have to ask someone to bring up my bags, and when they balk, and they will balk at the idea, I’m basically forced to be honest about why I can’t go down to the lobby to pick up my bags.

Ring ….

“Please Jesus, let it be a dude. I’ll sacrifice a goat or something.” I don’t know a lot about religion, but whatever Jesus likes I’m willing to do at this point.

Ring …

“Jesus, please, cut me some slack. I know my pooping proclivity is ridiculous. I’ve seen the error of my ways. Please, Jesus, let a man answer the phone.”

Ring …

A man’s voice said hello.

I tried to play it coy and asked if my bags can be delivered, but he said no can do, I’d have to come down.

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I full-up told the guy at the front desk what happened.

“Dude, I can’t.  To say I just pooped my pants would be a gross understatement.  It was basically a shit apocalypse.  I can never wear those pants again,  I’m trapped,” I explained. I decided the best way to play it was to be funny while also conveying my desperation. I laid it all on the line. When I finished telling the story there was silence for a split second before he just busted up laughing.

Ten minutes later he delivered the bags. I tipped that fucker $100 dollars and assured him the money was reasonably clean.

The next morning he saw me in the lobby. We made eye contact, shook our heads and enjoyed another private laugh.  I then discretely slipped out the door to deliver my bag of crap-encrusted pants and socks to a dumpster behind the hotel.