Thursday, April 5, 2012

Six Things That Were A Pain In The Ass Before The Internet (Part II)

3.  Research 

In the dim, dark days before every scrap of mankind's knowledge was recorded in one convenient spot, a research paper was a tedious affair.  It was the scholarly equivalent of trying to get an entire wagon train of pioneers from Virginia to California in 1842.  The physical, emotional, and mental anguish was crippling.

 Seriously.  I will turn this thing around.

There were only two methods of writing a research paper back then, and neither was particularly appealing.  The first involved doing a little research and writing every day in the weeks leading up to the paper's due date.  You ended up doing some work all of the time, but never a huge amount.  This method, known as "The Way of the Nerd," was a difficult path.  It required self-discipline, an iron will, and your mom dropping you off at the library every goddamn day.

 Thanks, ma!

The second method was always the crowd favorite.  It involved doing nothing at all until the day before the paper was due.  This path, known as "The Doctrine of Slack," was very popular due to the fact that it offered a great deal of freedom up front.  Say your paper was due in two weeks.  The nerds would spend 10-14 days working at a moderate pace, with small snippets of free time each day, to do whatever nerds do.  Role-playing games and math, I guess.  You, on the other hand, would do whatever the fuck you pleased for 12 days straight.  That's 288 hours in a row dedicated to dicking off, followed by a single day of work.  Now, granted; that one day was a real buttfucker.  It was 12-17 hours of grueling library research and hand-cramping note-taking.  It was sweat and misery and eye-rotting torment.  All the pleasures of the previous 12 days were forgotten in the whirlwind of desperation that was clawing at your soul.

 Jesus?  Kill me if you're there.

Both of these methods had one thing in common:  The library.

If you were born before 1985, I don't have to remind you about this cavern of doom, this fortress of silent boredom.  If you were born after 1985, "library" is one of those words like "tape deck" or "Bobcat Goldthwait" that you kind of recognize but have never personally experienced.

 You're welcome.

Before 1996, kids wasted an infinity of hours at the library.  Dragging encyclopedias off of shelves and hunting endlessly through the dusty gloom for weighty volumes of hard-bound shit.  Every book in the Reference section existed for only one reason:  Kids doing research papers.  And, of course, you couldn't check those motherfuckers out, so you were forced to stay in the library for as long as it took.  Most of the time, it took as long to find what you needed as it did to actually get any work done.

Unfortunately, the method for locating the books you required was something that seemed to have been contrived on a goddamn abacus.  Much like an abacus, the Dewey Decimal System was a precision tool.  Also like an abacus, no one besides a very tiny group of people gave a single fuck how it worked.  This group of people was called "librarians" because "batshit daffy, cat-hair coated, spinster bitches" took up too much time in casual conversation.

 May I not help you?

Since no other humans could feasibly operate the Dewey Decimal System, students were forced to enlist the librarian's help at every turn of the research process.  So, not only were you stuck in the library, you had to rely on women whose every day attire was one pointed hat away from being a Halloween witch's costume. 

Research papers today can be finished without ever having to leave the house or pick up a book.  Google does every bit of the heavy lifting and the only thing you have to decide is whether to use The Way of the Nerd or The Doctrine of Slack. 

2.  Stalking An Ex

Pre-internet, it took a lot of effort and gas to stalk someone after they broke up with you.  It usually started with the simple drive-by.  A few times a day, you had to get off the couch, brush the Fun-Yuns off your shirt, and climb into the car.  Unless the reason they dumped you was because you didn't have a car.  In that case, you had to hop on your bike, which is a level of humiliation I'm not even willing to go into here.

Assuming you had grown-up transportation, all you had to do was drive by your ex's house to see if their car was there.  If it was, you could assume they were inside doing whatever it is they did when they were a little sad about something, but not very.  Masturbating, probably.  If their car was gone, however, you were faced with a choice:  Go home and torture yourself imagining all the places they could be and all the people they could be banging; or start driving your lonely ass around town looking for their car. 

The truly committed always took the second option.  It was easy to burn through a full tank of gas cruising by all the places someone MIGHT be.  First, you had to check wherever you used to go together:  The mall; the movies; the bars; the playground where you smoked weed; the dirty bookstore; Planned Parenthood.  If you got no results, then you had to move on to places they went before you were together:  Their ugly friend's place; Denny's; the bowling alley; the gym; the nicer bars; the free clinic.  If THAT didn't work, you had to become Sherlock fucking Holmes, looking for clues and shit.  If there were no clues (or you were a bit of a tard), you just had to drive aimlessly through town, like John Cusack in any number of movies.  Hopefully it wasn't raining, though. 

 Every. Fucking. Movie.

The fun part about this was the hours at which it took place.  Once again, unless you got dumped for being an adult-kid, you had a job.  If it was an 8-5 sort of affair, then your prime stalking time was from happy hour till about midnight.  You had to pace yourself.  You couldn't go all crazy the first week, out stalking till 3am then getting up at 7 to go to work, and then be too exhausted to stalk the next week.  You had to get enough rest so you could keep this up as long as it took to find out what that bitch/asshole was doing.

If you worked nights, then you had a little more leeway.  You could stalk all over the place.  Let's say you're a server or bartender.  Your average shift is going to start between 4 and 6pm and end anywhere from 10pm to 3am.  That's a lot of free time if you managed it right.  For example, the drive-by is always pretty informative at 2am.  If their car is gone, then they are out making the beast with two backs.  No doubt about it.  You probably even have enough time before bed to hang out and wait to see if they come staggering home in a couple hours with a well-fucked look on their face.


Or, if their car is in the driveway at 2am, you can go home, get some sleep, and then get up at 10 and stalk that fool all the live-long day until you have to work at 6pm.  You could also stay there all night long and just follow them as soon as they leave the house, too.

However you handled it, the goal was to find where your ex was, and then just sort of keep tabs on them.  If you ran across their car in a bar parking lot, then you went in and tried to spot them before they spotted you.  You did a quick recon to see who they were with and how much fun they were having.  If they were with someone new then you had to make the decision whether or not to go into full-on insane confrontation mode.  Stalking is always a double-edged sword:  If you don't find them then you worry about what they're doing; but, if you DO find them, you're probably not going to be happy with what (or who) they're doing.

These days, you can stalk your ex without all the time-consuming driving around and sneaking up to peer in their bedroom window.  Between Twitter and Facebook, you should have no trouble keeping up with your ex's whereabouts at all times.  People are constantly checking in, posting pictures of themselves doing body shots at the local pub, tweeting "OMG so xcited to b at Hunger Games w/Marty!" and just generally making it as clear as possible where they are 24 hours a day.  A casual scroll through Facebook lets me know the exact location of pretty much everyone I've ever met.  

But, what if they delete you as a friend?  Then you can no longer view their Facebook page or get their tweets.  Yeah, well,  I bet your ex didn't unfriend everyone the two of you know.  Someone near you right this second can whip out their phone and tell you just what you need to know.  If you have good friends, you can just text them whenever you need an update and they'll fill you in.  "Hey.  Where is she rite now?"  "Her status says Heading out for waffles chicken and dick!  Woo hoo!  Sorry dude."

1. Porn

Obviously this was gonna be number one.  Everyone knew it; everyone was waiting for it.  I bet a lot of folks just scrolled down to make sure it was number one before they read anything else.

 Prepare yourself.

Before the internet, all porn had to be transported from somewhere public to whatever dank cave you maintained at your house to do all your dirty business.  You could buy Playboy and Penthouse just about anywhere beer and cigarettes were sold, but if you wanted anything more hardcore you had to venture into some seedy places.  There were no nice, clean, respectable Hustler Hollywood stores out there.  No, you had to creep into places with blacked out windows and talk to employees who were too visually unappealing to work the graveyard shift at a convenience store.

 Finding everything you need, sir?

Even if you weren't abashed to be in one of these establishments purchasing a VHS copy of Bisexual Built For Two, you still had to deal with the other people in there.  They might be doing a little harmless shopping, just like you.  Or they might be heading to the back room to spank it in a tiny booth to some grainy fuck film on a 12 inch screen.  They may be buying handcuffs because they like it a little rough, or they may be buying them to restrain the 16 year old cheerleader lying in a chloroform haze in the back of their molester van.  You never knew.  And, really, you didn't want to know.  You just needed something to take home and slide into the VCR before anyone else got there and interrupted the spanking hour.  And how many times did people get caught simply because they accidentally left the tape in there?  They managed to rub one out in the time allotted, get themselves, the couch, and the walls cleaned up, and were smugly rifling through the latest Sports Illustrated in their room when their mom yelled "What the fuck?" from the living room.  

It was a sad, sneaky set of affairs.  And God forbid you were into some shit that had to kept even more discreet than plain ol', whitebread porn.  It was tough enough finding a secure hiding place for your come-smeared copies of Hairless Beavers.  If you had to stash issues of Monkey Dicks Stuck In Prison Chicks all over the place then you lived in a constant state of low-grade panic.  Nowhere feels like a safe enough spot to put that filth.  You probably ended up renting an off-site storage unit that would've made a great episode of Porn Hoarders.  Y'know.  If that show existed. 

Whatever you were into, you always had to go out into the world in order to get it.  You had to rub elbows with other people who were, at best, fellow porn aficionados trying to be ignored, and, at worst, folks who cheerfully started conversations about Dr. Deep's Vibrating Chrome Butt-Hydrant.

Batteries not included.

In the midst of all this, Larry Flynt was fighting for all of us perverts.  He hoisted two happy middle fingers to anyone who wasn't down with porn being just everywhere.  He went to court, got sued, paid fines wearing the American flag as a diaper, went to jail, and got motherfucking shot and paralyzed to ensure that everyone had easy access to whatever brand of smut they chose.  I certainly don't agree with everything the man stands for but I will gladly go on record as saying that he is one of my fucking heroes.  He never backed down a single millimeter, he implied that Jerry Falwell banged his own mom, then battled him all the way to the Supreme Court and won, and he's proudly ruled a porn empire from the confines of a wheelchair since four years after I was born.

 Suave motherfucker.

The aforementioned Hustler Hollywood stores are a ubiquitous symbol of Flynt's victory over Puritan America.  You can walk into any one of them and demand to know exactly how the Twirling Clit Thumper With G-Spot Hack Action works and the employees will be happy to oblige.  There's no longer any stigma when you're in a store like this.  It's clean, well-lit, staffed by friendly, knowledgeable people, and absolutely stuffed with shit you can stick into yourself or others.

And do I even need to mention the internet?  In 1987, if you wanted to beat off to a Nazi werewolf smacking a pregnant Catholic schoolgirl with a riding crop while shitting into a funnel jammed into an Asian prostitute's mouth, you had to draw it yourself.   Today, even if you you've never looked at internet porn, you're well aware that there are only two steps involved to get to whatever kind of trash gets you going.

One:  Google "best free porn sites" and go to one of them.
Two: Type what you're looking for into that site's Search bar. 

Honestly, it doesn't matter how convoluted your fantasies are, you can find that shit anywhere.  Gone are the days when you had to subscribe to bleary black and white publications that specialized in the type of twisted activities that got you all stiff (or wet).  You are literally two fucking steps away from a Korean girl getting molested on a crowded train by a guy in a Hamburglar outfit at all times. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Six Things That Were A Pain In The Ass Before The Internet

I don't know how many Dumbfounder fans grew up without the Internet but it sucked. We were balked at every turn by a world that was harsh, slow, tedious, and, most of all, analog.

Seriously, it took at least ten times as long to do goddamn anything. Some things took twenty or thirty times as long. Some things, sadly, were impossible. Here are six things that were shockingly difficult before the Internet made them laughably easy.

6. Winning An Argument

There was almost no way to win a face-to-face argument before 1998. Unless you were Nerdy McBookluggins and traveled with a full encyclopedia set, there was no decisive way to prove some dickbag was completely, utterly, unequivocally full of shit. And, as we shall see, even the encyclopedia set won't cover all the bases, you fucking four-eyes.

Shut it!

People are generally pretty stubborn when they're embroiled in an argument. Personally, unless I'm presented with at least three pieces of independent evidence, not only do I refuse to concede defeat, but I will also kick my opponent straight in the junkyard.

The aforementioned encyclopedia could settle it if the dispute was concerned with the major exports of Brazil or some boring shit like that. However, if you're in a fierce debate with someone over the major exports of Brazil then you've both got much bigger issues to deal with. Finding out who's right in this case isn't going to actually prove anything, except maybe who's the bigger retard.

The arguments I'm more concerned with here relate more to pop culture than to what fucking spiders are native to what fucking locale. Before the Internet, pop culture arguments were basically masturbation. There was essentially no way to prove who was right and who was wrong because there wasn't a massive, readily-available stockpile of ALL THE GODDAMN RIGHT ANSWERS IN THE HISTORY OF THE FUCKING WORLD.

Imagine it's 1992 and you're at a house party. You're engaged in a heated conversation with some random drunken slut about when Nine Inch Nails' debut album was released. She is certain it was 1990 because that's the first time she caught the clap and she remembers hearing "Head Like A Hole" on the way to the free clinic. You, on the other hand, are positive (and correct) in remembering that it dropped in 1989 because you finally started to hear less about the faggots in The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Seriously. This existed.

Despite that fact that the technical score at this point is you: 1, drunken slut: 0 there would be no easy way to prove it. Best case scenario is that you, the slut, or a beer swilling onlooker has the album in their car. That means that someone has to head to the parking lot and rifle through the shoebox of tapes (TAPES for fuck's sake) until they come up with the case for Pretty Hate Machine which will have the release date on it. At this point, the entire flow of your drinking has been interrupted. Winning the argument is a moot point because now you have to go back inside and try to balance your buzz with all the people who are still having fun and were unconcerned with what year Trent Reznor began changing music forever. Also, they're playing "Down In It" and doing kegstands, but you've missed most of that.

Now imagine that same argument in 2002. Someone slips into a bedroom and fires up Google and, holy fuckshit, it's all over with. Now you can focus your energy on more important things, like catching the clap from that humiliated chick.

5. Televised Sporting Events

In the 70s and 80s when you watched a sporting event on TV, that event was the only motherfucking one in the universe. Sundays in the fall and winter had almost every team in the National Football League competing but there was a maximum of two games being shown on your TV that day. Usually, the game you received was the local team. They had a much looser grasp of "local" back then, though. A lot of the time you were getting the Pittsburgh Steelers game even though your were living in Twisted Penis, Oklahoma.

These days, not only do they have the concept of "region" nailed down a bit better, but every football game you watch is chock-full of necessary information. The score is constantly displayed on the screen. Also, what quarter it is, how much time is remaining, what down it is and how far the team needs for a first down. And somewhere on the screen, usually the bottom or the top right corner, is a graphic that shows the ever-changing scores of all the other games that you're not watching.

Every major televised sport is like this now. No matter what sport on what channel, you've got all the relevant info right in front of you.

You know what was on the screen when you watched sports in the 70s and 80s? The players and the ball. That's fuckin IT, jerky. They would occasionally flash the score at you but it happened with such lightning speed it was like they were subliminally advertising it.

That one game was your whole world. And a thrilling, intense world it was, too. What was the fucking score? How much goddamn time was left? And, Jesus H. Christ, where's that fucking yellow line for the first down, you assholes? It was easier to keep track of everything yourself with a stopwatch and some scrap paper.

What does all this have to do with the Internet, you ask? Not much. I just wanted to point out how much televised sports used to suck. ESPN debuted in 1979, which gave us SportsCenter. Other than that, everything was terrible.

Actually, SportsCenter kind of sucked then, too.

But with the advent of the Net, all this is now effortless. You can keep up with whatever you want, all day long, online. No matter what event you're looking to follow, it is online somewhere. You could take a dump on your cable box, leave it on the hood of your neighbor's car, and still never miss a thing. If you have a Roku and an Internet connection, the world of sports is always one lazy click away. You may have to bend the occasional statute, or dig the occasional electronic STD out of your computer, but it's all there. Sure, the Sunday Ticket from DirecTV is great. If you can afford the ridiculous price tag. What's it cost now? An orphan's heart? Your wife's earlobe? could just sit at home with your computer. Watch whatever games come across the TV and watch everything else online. If doesn't even matter if you've been forced out of the house to attend little Mindy's soccer game. Instead of watching her and 21 other retarded young 'uns chase everything but the ball, pull out your smart phone. Done deal.

Fuck. This.

4. Movies

That's a bit misleading, actually. Movies did not suck before the Internet. Finding out when and where movies were playing was what caused the ass pain. There were really only two methods. Hang on while I elucidate.

1. The newspaper.
2. Calling each goddamn theater and listening to a painfully monotone recording made by whichever employee was late that day informing you what movies were showing when.

That's it. I mean, short of actually driving to a theater and crawling your vehicle by the marquees on the side of the building at 2mph while other drivers in the lot honk and swerve to avoid your dipshittery. Which old people still do this day. Because they can't see the print on the paper, hear the near-death employee on the recording or figure out what the fuck the Internet is.

Man, I haven't even seen a newspaper in four years. I suppose they must still be out there somewhere. Primarily in small towns and the third world, I expect. They used to be the easiest method of checking for movies and times. On the weekends, anyway. Friday, Saturday and Sunday the movie listings were always big and bold. Very easy to find. Assuming you had a newspaper, of course. During the week, the movie section was always minuscule and buried in some obscure corner of the paper. Getting to it was harder than getting a blowjob from Mother Theresa.

If you didn't get the newspaper delivered, were at someone's house who didn't get it, or were in any public place except the motherfucking library, then it was time to start calling theaters. And to do that, you would need one indispensable piece of equipment that people born after 1992 have never even seen: a phone book.

Remember phone books? Jesus, that takes me back. And also, fuck phone books. As soon as I got my first cell phone I programmed it with the number to every theater in town. Then I beat a hobo to death with my phone book and disposed of them in two different dumpsters.

But back in the day you had no other choice. You dug through that bastard till you found the "Theater" section of the yellow pages. Then you had to sift through all the poncy places that actually did "theater shit" to find the ones that "just showed fucking movies." Then you started calling till you found what you wanted.

When you called movie theaters it was impossible to talk to an actual person. That option was wholly unavailable. No, what you had to do was sit through the recording, and the recording was egregious. The employee forced to make the recording either had to go through a crippling session of opium smoking beforehand, or was so massively hungover that he couldn't leave the phone room. The voice was always so sonorous, so devoid of any inflection, that you almost had to put your head down on the table and prop the phone on it. It was nearly impossible to pay attention to what he was saying, even if you did manage to stay awake. And you had to stay awake, doucheface, because the only movie you wanted to see was dead last on the recording. Every. Single. Time. It's immutable cosmic law. Ask anyone over 30 if you don't believe me.

Naturally, if you want to see a movie now, there are 1.2 million sites on the Internet that can provide you with the info you need. You can see all the theaters, all the times, the cast of every flick and all the endless reviews. All at the same time, in the same place.

Unless you're my grandma, who still calls me to set her VCR so she can watch Touched By An Angel.

Not this one.

Stay tuned to the Dumbfounder! The top three entries are on the way!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The World's Deadliest Scorpion!

Let me tell you about this fucked up dream I had.

I didn't really know where I was but it seemed vaguely familiar. Doesn't it always?

It was some kind of high-rise building. I know that much. Not a hotel, so probably a nice apartment kind of situation. Someplace the rent was high. What I was doing in the middle of nice property is anyone's guess. I didn't seem to be vandalizing it, or choking its toilets with Viking-level shits so I can't imagine what I was doing there.

My friend Suzanne was with me. Or maybe I ran into her on accident. Or maybe she was more successful than I remembered and I was visiting her. That particular plot element never became very clear. My wife wasn't there but I felt like I had talked to her on the phone recently. No idea where she was, of course. She could've been at the monkey track betting on the monkey races. Maybe.

Suzanne was excited. It seems she'd just gotten back from vacation. I don't know where it was, but, in light of what happened next, it must have been somewhere hot and arid. Someplace desert-y, perhaps. Would Suzanne vacation in a desert? Fuck, man. Considering she had brought back the world's deadliest scorpion as a present for me, it seems like maybe Suzanne was a little fucked in the head. That crazy bitch may indeed have been stumbling around Arizona picking up random arachnids to give as gifts. I'm not sure.

However it happened, Suzanne was excited to give me my present. Which was the world's deadliest scorpion. She mentioned that. I was not, um...enthused. My wife doesn't like spiders, and what's a scorpion but a jacked-up supervillian spider with lobster claws and a barbed tail. Suzanne didn't seem to be intimating that she'd brought me this scorpion so I could gleefully kill it. Maybe set up some scenario where I "save" my wife from its murderous sting by stomping it into dust. Y'know, get myself some pussy out of it.

Nope. She seemed to think that I was going to keep this heinous creature as a pet. As I've mentioned, Suzanne may have been playing without the threes and nines in her deck. I realize, of course, that a lot of people keep venomous creatures as pets. These people are morons. Eventually, they are bitten or stung to death by their cold, devilish companions. Which is what they deserve.

So there I was, following this recently sun-stroked broad around some mysterious building. I was uncomfortable. And not just because I was obviously much too bearded and tattooed to be on the premises. Sooner or later I was going to have to tell Suzanne I couldn't take a goddamn scorpion home as a pet. And you never know how crazy people are going to take bad news. What if she flipped out? Hell, what if she took a deep breath and then blew a clicking, snapping, stinging cloud of scorpions right into my face?

While I was pondering all this, Suzanne suddenly turned around and held out her hand.

"Here it is."

Wait, what...fuck. Really? I thought. I was too taken aback to be afraid right then. Fear seems like the normal reaction, though, doesn't it? I mean, when someone has been blathering on about giving me the world's deadliest scorpion and then they spin around with their hand extended saying "Here it is", I mean...FUCK, right?

But, alas. I was too dumbfounded to be scared. I had been expecting the creature to be presented to me in some sort of terrarium. A glass or plastic enclosure with the bug's implements of homicide sealed safely away from my delicate nervous system.

Turns out, Suzanne didn't have a scorpion actually sitting on her palm. Instead, there was what looked like a small leather packet. It was almost like a small front pocket wallet that a man would carry. It had a clear plastic window like the kind you'd slide your ID into.

There was no ID in it, however. There didn't seem to be anything in it. I certainly wasn't going to get any closer for a more thorough examination, though.

"It's in here," Suzanne said. "Did I mention it's really tiny?"

She squeezed the two long sides of the little wallet and the ID slit gaped open like the vagina of a dead Korean prostitute. Something the size of a rice grain buzzed out much, much faster than an insect should. It zigged and zagged through the air so quickly it seemed to be teleporting. My eyes couldn't even begin to follow it but terror demanded they try. I looked like a Parkinson's patient watching a fireworks display.

"Also, it can fly," Suzanne mentioned, somewhat unnecessarily, I thought.

The aerial demon-bastard disappeared in about two seconds.

I flattened myself against the nearest wall and began squeaking like a Twitard being sodomized with an Edward Cullen action figure. My head snapped from side to side, searching fruitlessly for a creature only slightly larger than my masculinity.

"Huh," Suzanne muttered, looking around like someone who's misplaced a postage stamp.

For some reason, this relaxed me. Suzanne didn't seem concerned in the least. That must not have really been the world's deadliest, tiniest, fucking flying scorpion.

I unglued my sweaty ass from the wall and tried to remember how to stand there like a man. "So what was that, really?" I asked. "Some kind of gnat or fly or something?"

"No," Suzanne answered. "No, no. That was the world's deadliest scorpion. I told you that. It was your present. One tiny little sting that you'd never even feel. Ten minutes later you're blowing bubbles and then you're dead."

"Really? Blowing bubbles? What in Satan's pajamas does that mean?"

Suzanne looked at me like I'd just confessed I didn't know what the Internet was. "You blow bubbles. From your mouth. Then you die."

"Oh," I said. "Perfect. Bubbly arachnid death. I can name my first band that."

"Whatever." Suzanne dropped the wee leather packet on the floor. "It's gone now. Let's go."

We left. The area, I mean. Not the building. For some reason we kept wandering around. I still didn't know why we were there. Also, I still didn't know where my wife was. Monkey races, maybe?

Several minutes later I turned to Suzanne to say something. Probably something either very sexy or terribly witty. But, when I opened my mouth, bubbles streamed out. Darkness crushed the edges of my vision and my body felt suddenly distant. It was like my soul had rolled up, passed out, turned gay and was now flowing out of my yapper in a torrent of delicate spheres.

I collapsed to my knees, the darkness rushing in faster and deeper. "Tell my wife I completely adore her," I said, bubbles skidding along my breath. "Nothing else has ever mattered."

Then I collapsed the rest of the way and died. Immediately, some part of me that felt almost as substantial as the old, alive part of me stood up. I looked down at the dead me on the floor and felt lost. I wasn't zooming toward heaven or hell or rebirth, but, whatever was next, that meat on the floor was no longer me.

The next little bit is a blur. Maybe I was confused because all of this contradicted my basic understanding of life. Mind and body are not separate. To some extent, mind is rooted in every cell. And, despite my earlier, cavalier reference to my soul, there's obviously no such thing. So I couldn't be walking around as some sort of spirit if my body was dead.

Nonetheless, walk around I did. I don't remember what Suzanne did. Hopefully, she lost her shit and learned a really valuable lesson about giving people deadly creatures as fucking presents.

The very next thing I remember is hearing my wife's voice come wailing out of a cell phone. I wasn't using the phone. No one was actually using it. It was just sitting there with my wife's anguished screams coming from it. Clearly, she had just been told what had happened to me. I couldn't pick up the phone to reassure her. I couldn't speak to her at all. All I could do was stand there like some phantom tard hearing her voice a sorrow I hope I never feel.

Next, I was in the same room with her. I have no idea how much time had passed. She was just sitting there, sobbing. All I wanted to do was let her know I was there, to put my hands on her and bury my face in her hair, telling her it was OK. The need to offer her comfort was overwhelming but I wasn't solid. I couldn't touch her, couldn't make her hear me. I was forced to stay put and listen to all of the grief and pain pour out of her. There is no way any pain could be worse. No torture could ever come close to this. It was ineffable agony.

I don't know how long I followed her around. It seemed as if I couldn't leave. She drifted around her life with no happiness or peace and I was right there with her, watching her suffer. She didn't seem to be getting over it. It didn't feel like she could move on and I certainly couldn't. Every minute was the worst minute of my existence. She cried all the time. Sometimes she screamed and raged and beat her hands bloody on the walls.

Then I woke up. In my bed. In our bed, because she was right next to me and we were both safe. She was moving around, about ready to get up and get ready for work. I rolled over and touched her on the shoulder. She glanced at me and muttered some sleepy morning-talk. I couldn't stop myself. I still felt so horrified from what I had just been through I poured the whole story out to her. It was still so real that I felt like crying.

She lay there and listened to every word. Then she stood up and looked at me. There were no tears brimming in her eyes, no look of compassion on her face for what I had just not gone through. She didn't give me a reassuring touch to let me know all was well.

"You dumbass," she said. "That was the movie Ghost."

Oh, yeah.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Four Alcoholic Beverages I Drank In College That I Have No Business Drinking Now (Part 4)

Any Drink That Skips the Secondary Container

College Me: "Whoooooo! Keg stands, dude! Upside down margaritas! Whoooooo!"

Man, the best party we ever had in college was a BITCH to pull off. It was totally worth it, though. We ended up setting a record for most spots/things/people vomited on. I mean, the people from Guinness didn't come or anything, but, seriously, it was a record.

We held this party on our floor of the dorm. Each person's room was set up for a different drink and people wandered from room to room sampling what was in each one. We had rattlesnake shots in one room, hooch in another, wine in another, kamikazes, sex on the beach, etc. The two most popular rooms were the keg stand room and the upside down margarita room.

If you don't know what these are you are either under the age of 18, or over the age of 30 and a fucking nerd. A keg stand is a test of endurance, balance and pure chugging capability. Also, it tests the strength of your friends, since they have to hold your drunk ass upside down for awhile. It works like this: the drinker steps up to the keg. Someone gives it a few good pumps to make sure it's primed and ready to go. The drinker puts his hands on the edge and his friends grab his ankles, knees and thighs. They lift his lower body towards the sky, striving to get his feet above his head, which is still poised next to the keg's nozzle. When the drinker's legs are as high as they'll go, someone sticks the nozzle in his yapper and pulls the trigger. It's pretty self explanatory from here. Drink, fucker. Drink until you are forced to stop by either physical or mental weakness. It's usually physical. It's usually a horrific, coughing gag that sprays mouth-warmed beer all over those unwise enough to stand close enough to cheer the drinker on. This generally provokes such an uproar of drunken hilarity that the friends holding him up drop him like he was made of snakes. Impact with the ground generally goes unregistered by the brain, however. It's still dealing with the fact that he just drank a kiddie pool worth of beer in 30 seconds while suspended upside down in the air. Matter of fact, between his legs being raised above his head, dumping a fuck-liter of foamy Busch Light into his belly, and then being dropped prone on the ground, the drinker can pretty much count his brain out for awhile. Also, he may need to vomit. Pussy.

An upside down margarita requires less balance, but a better gag reflex and greater tolerance for being a sticky goddamn mess. It's a pretty simple setup: the drinker sits down in a chair while the bartender stands behind him. The drinker tilts his head back as far as possible and concerned bystanders drape his neck and chest with a towel. A filthy, crusty towel crawling with gnats and herpes meant to protect you from getting stains on your clothes. After this courtesy, the bartender upends a bottle of bottom shelf tequila over the drinker's mouth. He pours a generous amount of cheap, stinging liquor directly into the drink-hole. Next, he dumps in a bit a triple sec, and, finally, a healthy measure of sweet and sour mix. The drinker returns his head to a normal position and shakes it violently from side to side. The margarita, thus mixed, is then swallowed. Or spewed directly onto the carpet in front of the chair. One of the two. This procedure is impossible to do without some serious leaking, spilling, dribbling and snorting. By the final swallow, the drinker's face usually looks like a badly glazed doughnut and the area around them looks like Slimer blasted ectoplasm through his phantom green asshole.

Keg stands and upside down margaritas are more for the bystanders than the drinker. Sure, you get drunk pretty quickly with either of these methods, but, let's face it: You're just entertainment for the crowd. Nothing is funnier than watching four drunk people lift another drunk person into the air so they can drink beer upside down. As the party progresses, these procedures become increasingly more haphazard and dangerous. Eventually, someone will have to go to the emergency room, which means finding the guy who likes comic books so you'll have a sober driver.

Current Me: "(cough! cough!) (gag! retch!) Oh, fuck!"

Of all the things on this list, this entry is the most asinine one for adults to perform. There's never really a time when a person over the age of 30 will be at a gathering where a kegstand or upside down margarita will occur. If an adult does, in fact, find himself in this position, he's most likely hanging out with much younger people in an attempt to maintain the level of cool he enjoyed earlier in life.

Or, his friends are just a bunch of drunk assholes who grew up, and, occasionally, pay tribute to their glory days by attempting to imbibe beer while inverted.

Let me recount such a story.

I'm 37 years old. Most of my close friends are in the same general age group. This summer I went to a party to celebrate...something. A new baby, a new job, maybe a divorce or some shit. It started out civilized, the way these things always do for folks over 30. We had some hamburgers off the grill and swilled some cheapish beer from the keg. Ah, yes. The keg. I hadn't been at a party that came with a keg for some time. Most of the "gatherings" I attend now require you to bring your own six pack of snotty imported beer. Exactly one of those beers goes in your drink-hole. The other five are stashed in the fridge never to be seen again. The time it takes you to down one bottle of your expensive sixer is more than enough time for the other party-goers to disappear the remainder. You head jauntily to the kitchen to retrieve beer number two, only to find the fridge stocked to the brim with dick. What's more, you'll never find a single motherfucker at the party drinking your beer. You can prowl and skulk and slip in and out of the shadows like a sumbitching ninja and you will never, EVER see somebody with your beer in their hand. That shit is just gone. You can check with the people playing cornhole if you want, but ain't no one gonna know what happened to your Five Alarm Extra Oatmeal British Pudding Stout.

Not so at this gathering. The keg was neverending, as it always is when a bunch of 30-somethings get together to drink until they have to take the kids home. My wife drove, which means she had to get up early the next day while my only responsibility was not vomiting in the DVD player at 2 am.

The shenanigans happened in full daylight, before the darkness could even begin to cover the shame of our stunted party abilities. The host of the party, let's call him Tim, decided a keg stand was just what this gathering needed to really get it going. Tim is a big guy. He's a solid cracker well over six feet tall and he already had about 20 pounds of beer in him. He was sunburnt and loopy and had been standing in front of the hot grill for about five hours. No one could dissuade him from attempting this feat. Granted, we didn't try very hard because watching someone over 30 doing a keg stand seemed like it would be a great goddamn time. I, personally, wanted to see it more than I wanted to see Lindsay Lohan get gang-raped in prison by cyborg chicks with dildos for arms.

It took four of us to hoist Tim high enough into the air to try a keg stand. The result was to partying what Harold Camping is to prophecy. It was short, dumb and left a lot of people disappointed yet still on this earth. Tim spluttered, gagged and signaled violently to be repositioned in his proper vertical stance. Once there, he dropped immediately to horizontal so he could gently expel what beer was left in his lungs onto his patio. If Tim's keg stand was public masturbation, it would be the time Pee Wee Herman got caught in a movie theater. It was so weak, the keg refused to dispense beer for another hour.

I ended that night smoking weed in a plastic lawn chair while we all lamented the fact that we make more money waiting tables than we do in our "professional" careers. I can't believe we didn't have any tequila.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Four Alcoholic Beverages I Drank In College That I Have No Business Drinking Now (Part 3)


College Me: "Milwaukee's Best is $9 a case! We can fill the goddamn bathtub with it!"

Holy shit and praise Jesus. Every party we've ever thrown would have sucked if there weren't such a wide variety of cheap beer out there. PBR, Milwaukee's Best (THE BEAST!), Natty Ice or Light, Busch Light, anything from Canada. When we walk into a liquor store behind the one guy with an ID, we are looking for sheer volume. Nothing impresses sorority girls more than stepping into a party and seeing 55 gallon industrial trash cans filled with ice; both of the frozen water variety as well as the Natural kind in a can. The goal is drunk, not flavor, and these brands deliver. I am 19 years old and I don't give a flying shit what my beer tastes like. Neither do the bitches I'm trying to nail. It's all about capacity. How much I can hold and how much I have to get into the girl so she'll be susceptible to my slobbery drunk charm. If urbane was measured in cases of beer I'd be a goddamn British magician.

College parties are not judged by quality but quantity. If a guy walked into a frat house that had splurged on 3 cases of good beer instead of 20 cases of shit, he'd dick-slap someone in the face and head over to our house. It's easy to find, too. Just follow the smell of rancid jaguar piss.

The quantity, as I've mentioned above, is for two purposes. The obvious is getting drunk. Most of us drank so hard our fist year of college that we can now butt-rape Keith Richards with our tolerance. If my tolerance was a penis, it would belong to John Holmes. And it would be having a threesome.

The second purpose is romance. Sober college chicks are way too hard to bang. They want to talk about mascara and literature and their blogs and shit. Drunk college chicks want to talk about their high school boyfriend back home who couldn't afford to go to school and is working the late shift at the Piggly-Wiggly. REAL drunk college chicks forget about that guy and start making out with me.

When that happens, shit gets technical. A sorority girl who's smashed enough to make out with me is not a done deal. Things must be handled delicately from this point on. Which is fucking awesome, because the more beer I drink, the more of a logistical motherfucker I become. First off, she's gonna need just a bit more alcohol. In her current state of inebriation, she'd probably be content to just suck my face for the rest of the night and then pass out. That leaves me all alone in Bonerville. Nope, she's gonna need one last push. You've gotta be sneaky, though. Drunk college chicks forget shit easy. Many is the time I was maneuvering a girl in the right direction and fell victim to the oldest one in the book. I go to get her a beer and when I get back she's a) making out with someone else or b) gone. You can't let em out of your sight or they wander off and get into trouble.

The best thing to do is to finish your own beer, then grab her hand and drag her towards the kitchen, or wherever the rest of the booze is. Pop a fresh one and hold it out to her while asking "Ready for another one?" Drunk college girls only have one response to this: they chug whatever's left in their can and grab the new one. It's instinct.

Get one for yourself, too. You deserve it.

At this point it's best to start heading in the direction of the bedroom. This last beer she's having should remove her very last reservation about sleeping with you, namely that she might catch crotch-eating super syphilis crabs. It's wise to stop every few feet and make out with her, though. If you don't, she's liable to forget what's going on and topple over into a houseplant.

It is absolutely crucial that you have a couple beers rattling around your bedroom, preferably in one of those little dorm fridges and not just sitting on top of the radiator. This is your insurance policy because one of two things is about to happen. The first scenario involves her getting into the bedroom and leaping on you like Casey Anthony on a bartender. This will send both of your PBRs flying, which is no longer a concern. Let them fly. The boning is afoot.

The second scenario is sub-optimal. It can involve everything but the old in/out, in/out. Dry humping, crying, sloppy making out, a clumsy, over-the-pants handy, whatever. If this is how it goes down, the few Natty Ices in your fridge can make all the difference. One more beer may be your key to VaginaTown, but BE CAREFUL. With drunk college chicks there's a fine line between "willing to have crazy sex with near-stranger" and "puking up Spaghetti-O's and falling asleep on the futon for 8 hours."

None of this would be possible without cheap, shitty beer. What else are we gonna do, impress chicks?

Current Me: "Oh, Jesus, I smell Natty Light. My tongue just retracted down my throat."

Most of us ate so many goddamn Ramen Noodles in college that just the idea of them is now revolting. If you did college right, shit beer should do the same thing to you, too. The sight, smell or, God-fucking-forbid, taste ought to conjure up bleary recollections of nights spent cuddled up to sticky things, be they girls, toilets, linoleum or trash cans. Every time I dispose of something in one of those huge, gray industrial trashcans, my vision convinces me for just a second that's it's full of ice and Keystone Light. Every time my shoe sticks to the floor in a movie theater I can fucking SMELL sweaty teenagers dancing in pools of beer while a strobe light weeds out the epileptic bitches.

I'm going to be honest here: I have actually bathed in Milwaukee's Best. In college, I went to a party where every single person had to step through the door one at a time. When they did, they were assaulted by everyone who was already inside. And by "assaulted," I mean "beersaulted." Every party goer was clutching a freshly-shaken can of the Beast in each hand, which were sprayed like pterodactyl urine upon the newcomer, who then armed himself with two cans and wetly awaited the next person to walk in.

Once everyone was in, the place became slicker than Johnny Cochran. There was at least an inch of beer sitting on the cheap linoleum and we splashed through it like Charlie Sheen through hookers. We would take running starts and fling ourselves down on our bellies to see how far we could skid. I have no idea how much floor-beer I inadvertently drank, but it was more than enough to get messed up. The combination of taking on alcohol internally as well as externally proved to be a colossal buzz. Eventually, the beer I swallowed met up with the beer that was penetrating my skin, and made me WAY incapable of operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery. Or a door. I can't believe I didn't drown.

You'd think that one experience alone would have been enough to turn me off of cheap beer but, as in most things, you'd be fucking wrong, jerky. It took however many more years I attended college, plus several after, before my body began to reject shit beer. When it did, though, it did it in a big way. I went from pouring Natty Ice down my throat like it came from Carmen Electra's pussy, to doubling over from stomach cramps and anal seizures every time I walked by a can. This happened in, like, 24 hours. My system simply couldn't take anymore and it shut down all metabolic events as they related to beer that cost less than $7 a six-pack.

The worst part about all of this is hipsters, because the worst part about everything is hipsters. I don't know how, where or why this trend began, but I'm seeing a lot of hip douchebags drinking tall boys of PBR these days. And these are not people who are hidden in their dorm room trying to get an 18 year old psych major to cough up her virginity, either. I'm talking about douchebags out at bars drinking PBR in motherfucking public. They sit around in their skinny jeans, Kurt Cobain sweaters and goddamn fedoras sipping a beer that was never anywhere near good enough to come back for nostalgia's sake. In between snide comments about ever-more-obscure bands and "Dude-where'd-you-get-those-glasses" conversations, they drink can after can. I actually saw one guy who had BROUGHT HIS OWN BEER COZY FROM HOME. It cradled his can of PBR so lovingly, keeping it chilly while he talked about moving to Williamsburg and starting a thrift store so retro it wouldn't have any fucking clothes at all.

My body has rejected cheap, shitty beer. Now that hipsters have adopted it, I can see for certain that I'm heading in the right direction. My stomach lining is smarter than hipsters.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Four Alcoholic Beverages I Drank In College That I Have No Business Drinking Now (Part 2)


College Me: "Damn! This tastes just like a milkshake!"

My GOD, Irish car bombs are tasty! And there's something about the ritual of making them that just says "Boy, are you gonna be fucked up." It's a bit pricey to go out and buy a six-pack of Guinness as well as a bottle of Bailey's and another of Jameson's. Generally I need a few people to pitch in, but, hey, once that's done, instant motherfuckin party.

Usually we just sit around the coffee table with all the equipment handy for making these dreamy concoctions. Pint glasses, shot glasses and about fifteen fucking rolls of paper towels, 'cause after awhile, this shit gets messy. I can mix the Jameson's and Bailey's about half and half in the shot glass for the first five or so car bombs. I also have no trouble dropping said shot glass directly into eight ounces of Guinness. After those first five, though, I start to have a bit of trouble. I'm not the only one, though. I look around the table and see people carefully constructing what was so easy just an hour ago. Folks have their faces almost touching the table as they goggle at the junction of shot glass and liquor bottle. They slowly start raising the bottom end of the bottle, gently tipping it up hoping for a trickle of sweet, alcoholic bliss to slide into their glass. The higher the end of the bottle goes, the slower the actions become. It looks like they're handling nitroglycerin. Eventually, the liquor comes slopping out at a totally unexpected speed, drenching the carefully concentrating face of whoever was making the drink. We roar with laughter. Eventually the poor wet bastard gets his shot glass in the vicinity of his beer, then drops it straight on the table and pounds the Guinness down as Bailey's and Jameson's go splashing all over the place.

It's so worth it, though. Being drunk on Irish car bombs is like being inebriated with God's love. The only real problem is that, when you wake up the next afternoon, God's love has pretty much coated everything in the apartment. All objects are stuck to other objects with a now-heinous and foul-smelling mixture of Guinness beer, Bailey's Irish Cream, Jameson's Irish whiskey and, if you've done it right, vomit. I have to imagine this is how actual Irish people wake up every day.

We haven't yet found a cleaning agent that will cut through this substance. We figured out an easy way around it, though. We only have Irish car bomb parties right before someone moves out of their apartment. That way it's the landlord's fucking problem.

Current Me: "Damn! This tastes just like a milkshake! Where the fuck am I?"

The last time I had Irish car bombs as an adult, I was in public. This turned out to be a mistake. A friend and I were going to go Christmas shopping and we decided we needed at least a moderate buzz before we braved the throngs of rabid assholes at the mall. As we quickly learned, "moderate buzz" and "Irish car bombs" go together about as well as cotton candy and dick. It didn't work out. But it didn't work out spectacularly, kind of like the space shuttle Challenger didn't work out.

We started this disaster at 4 in the afternoon at one of our favorite bars. All the bartenders knew us and liked us. Which made it all the more uncomfortable when they had to cut us off at 7 o clock. I mean, I suppose it was uncomfortable. I certainly don't remember. My friend (let's call him Randy) has no recollection either. We were told later that, as soon as we were cut off, we began calling other friends to come pick us up and take us to another bar. Eventually, some stupid fucker did. I wish I could remember who it was because I'd kick his ass. I have no idea why he took us to the next bar instead of handcuffing us to each other and taking us home.

Alas, we ended up at another of our favorite haunts. It almost became a literal haunt because we damn near Irish car bombed ourselves to death. I have to imagine that, had we died there, our spirits would still be struggling on the sticky floor even now.

We remember exactly nothing about our activities at the second bar. We became so disgustingly intoxicated there that, to this day, Irish car bombs are banned from the premises. They won't serve them to anyone because of us. They cut us off, forced us to leave and called us a cab. The bouncer had to actually carry Randy's drunk ass out to the curb. When the cab pulled up, we were so visibly fucked up that the driver took one look at us and drove off. A cab. Refused to take us. I just kept telling the bouncer to put Randy in my truck and I'd get us home. I didn't own a truck. And, honestly, maybe I shouldn't have been driving.

The bouncer eventually found someone we knew inside who was willing to take us home. I apologize to whoever that was. I'm sure it was like having ten highly retarded guys in the car who all thought they were Spider-Man.

When we woke up the next day we began our hungover scavenger hunt mystery tour. We slowly followed clues towards our missing possessions and memories until we'd pieced together most of the night. We found our vehicles at the first bar. Our jackets were at the second bar. Also, our unpaid tab, a pile of puke and a fair amount of irritation. The memory part was easier. People kept calling us to see if we were alive. Each one provided another piece of the alcoholic puzzle. Though this entire story happened to me, all of the above details were provided by other people.

Which is why I don't drink Irish car bombs.

Four Alcoholic Beverages I Drank In College That I Have No Business Drinking Now (Part 1)


College Me: “Holy shit! Alcohol and caffeine! I can stay awake FOREVER and get drunker than ANYONE!”

Tonight, we are at the Scurvy Curmudgeon, the only place in town that will serve us, because we are obnoxiously underage. It’s also the only bar that serves pitchers, fucking PITCHERS of Jager Bombs. Jager Bombs are a fantastic way to start the evening because they really get you going. You get all amped up on the caffeine, which makes you want to go out and DO stuff, but you also start to get all drunk from the, y’know, alcohol, so doing stuff will be fun. It’s the perfect combination. After about two hours, we’re like a pack of hyperactive hoboes sprinting down the street and crashing into two out of every five objects. We are now completely incapable of not being assholes in public, or making a single rational decision for the next six hours. Which, as everyone knows, is the best condition in which to go to a college party.

At the party, our behavior goes completely unnoticed because everyone else is drinking fucking Jager Bombs! One of the best things about this beverage is the fact that you don’t have to wander around all night with one in your hands. Which is freakin’ clutch, because I tend to do a lot of wild gesticulating while my nervous system races and crashes. Instead, every ten or fifteen minutes, you can hear someone in the kitchen yell “JAGER BOMBS!” and everyone who’s still ambulatory goes lurching off in that direction. We all stand in a big circle (damn, it really seems like all the best moments in college take place in a circle) with our glasses raised, hooting and shouting so loudly that no one can possibly understand what anyone is saying. But that doesn’t matter. It’s the social aspect that matters. We all pound our drinks at the exact same time, slam down our glasses, howl like axe murderers, and scatter across the party. This process will be repeated, literally ad nauseam, all night. Because of the mixture of alcohol and caffeine, the only way we can tell we’ve had enough is when one of us wakes up four counties over with his scrotum stapled to a dead cow.

Current Me: “This tastes like it was brewed inside a depleted uranium vagina. Also, I feel funny.”

Jager Bombs are a drink that only college kids could possibly enjoy, because they have no idea what the real world is like or what they're going to do once they get there. Now that I’m an adult in the real world, when I have a beverage, I know what I want from it. If I need to wake up, or stay awake during the mid-afternoon grind of slaving out words for an Internet comedy site, I may have a Red Bull by itself. That is, if I were retarded and enjoyed the flavor of undiluted snake piss in my mouth. Which I’m not (much). And I don’t. So I’ll have coffee, or redneck water (Mountain Dew).

If I need to relax, I’ll by-God have some grown up drinks. Maybe a few beers or a vodka tonic. A martini if some random motherfucker leaves his unattended for too long. I want to unwind after a day working for the Man that I talked so much shit about in college. Fuck, I may not even be in a bar that HAS Red Bull.

And, if I feel the need to get trashed, I’ll switch to some heavy-duty liquor. A few whiskeys on the rocks or shots of tequila ought to do it. If things get serious, I’ll break out the blackout fuel, also known as rum. There's no reason to bring stimulants into this, thank you very much; I’m going the other direction. It would even be permissible for me to drink a shot of Jagermeister. By itself. When I have a cold. But never for fun. And never, motherfucking NEVER with Red Bull.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve cultivated a deep and abiding respect for my body’s limitations. One of my age-related boundaries requires me to NOT puke up black nuclear waste after an evening of drinking. And I do mean an EVENING of drinking. Now that Red Bull is out of the picture, I can tie one on and still be in bed by 10:30.