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Wednesday, 26 April
Citizen! Time For Merriment!

Tomorrow is our monthly "Employee Birthday Jamboree!" at work where we fete the various drones in our department for managing to be born in this particular month. Way to go, Aprilites! Your fathers sure . . . uh . . . fucked your mothers probably in August! Woo!

It's really depressing in a lot of ways. For one thing, office "parties." This is really shorthand for "people standing around awkwardly in a hallway." We used to have a conference room for this sort of shit, but since we moved floors some time back, we don't really have anything to use any more. Not that the conference room was cheery in any respect: it was a windowless chamber with, well, a big table. Everyone sat up against the walls and stared at the wan donut assortment as if they were boxes of severed horse penises. Now, we don't have to stand in a Sartrean conference room any more--we actually have an outside balcony. However, since nine months out of the year, the balcony is whipped with icy rain or bone-slicing wind, or both, we usually end up standing in the hallway staring out at the Gehenna balcony where Judas is buried up to his neck in ice and screams mutely at us through double-paned windows. We still eat donuts. I'm pretty sure Judas wants our donuts, but hey. Fuck you, Judas.

These birthday extravaganzas ("Now with more sullenly signed cards!") are the responsibility of the department leads, of which I am one. We routinely put these off until the last possible minute, of course, because it's always just so dismal. These things are like a preview of your own funeral. "Yeah, happy birthday, Tim." "My name is Todd." "That's awesome. Hey, is this a Bavarian cream?" Just people standing around, pretending to interact meaningfully, when really, all your brain is on whether or not you'll look like a dick for taking the last gherkin.

Happy birthday, April nobodies! Are you going to eat that?

Monday, 24 April
Week In Review

So, Utah happened. They named a raptor after this fucking state? I'd go extinct too. On the other hand, I doubt any dinosaurs are climbing out of their desert beds clamoring to have me find their remains either. "Skotraptor? No thanks." Me, if I were a dead dinosar, I think I'd like to be found by, say, a porn star. Waddraptor! Gingersaurus! And the dreaded Tiffanytops.

I can't really slag a lot on Salt Lake City too much, mainly because as predicted, I hardly left the hotel. I can report that, from an airplane, it looks a lot like a bunch of discarded children's toys dumped onto a vast dirt expanse. Drab, said my mind. This city looks like that ugly babysitter you used to have. The one that read Sidney Sheldon? She had glasses and sucked on popsicles in a way that managed to be totally unintriguing. I had arrived.

I couldn't complain, however, about the free shuttle service to the hotel. Or, frankly, the hotel itself, which has five diamonds, or four stars, or ninety blue horseshoes, or whatever fucking rating they were touting at the time. It was a swank place, no doubt, the Grand American. You got greeted by no less than six people before you even hit the front door, and of course I undertipped all of them, as I wasn't prepared for the pomp. Some duffer got unlucky enough to wrestle my luggage away from me--the staff would sooner shit out their hearts than let you lift anything--and I think I gave him my spare coat buttons. While I was waiting in line, I was assailed by more of these poor minions. One approached and said, "How are you, sir? Water?" He held out a gleaming bottle of water. I eyed it as if evaluating its salinity. A beautiful woman advanced moments later. "Cookie?" she inquired, holding a basket of baked goods. They gave you cookies and water while you waited. Either that, or the waterguy was a random Mormon poisoner and the woman was simply the world's most cryptic prostitute.

The room, when I finally got there, was stunning. As usual, I went straight to the bathroom. THE BATHROOM IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE OF A HOTEL ROOM, I say, because there's something exotic about taking a dump in any strange place. There is a frisson about taking a dump in, say, a public rest room in the park. A nervous one, to be sure, but it's there. In a hotel? It should be downright awesome to take a dump, because it's costing someone good money. This bathroom did not disappoint. For one thing, marble floors. (Let's ignore that I nearly broke my back a few times slipping on that fucking crap coming out of the shower and missing the bath mat--I'm blind as a goddam bat.) For another thing, it had a tub and a separate glass-encased stand-alone shower stall. For another another thing, it had a husband-and-wife sink arrangement, with two separate hookups. And FINALLY--the dumper itself was its own room besides all of the rest, and of course had its own phone--"Simmons! I'm taking a shit on company time! Go into your toilet and take a shit with me! This is rad!"--and one of those ridiculous gilt toilet paper roll-covers that help you out with the tearing motion. I love this sort of vaguely infantilizing hand-holding: "You notice how people rip the hell out of toilet paper rolls, all jaggedy? Let's give them some sort of clean-rip technology. Poor bastards are wiping their asses with substandard wads."

I won't bore you with any of the business stuff--if you're not instantly numbed by words like "practicum" and "forum" and "plenary" then you are not of my species--but I will tell you that even before I boarded the plane, I felt a low-grade cold coming on. Just what you want when getting ready to get on a plane! A compromised immune system! In SLC, my cold built up a little steam, but nothing too unbearable. I had some mild sniffles, but nothing that would keep me out of the game.

Then the stomach virus hit on Wednesday afternoon. Like a switch. Crippling nausea, frequent romping trips to the bathroom, the whole bit. I sat miserably on the toilet, during commercial breaks from The Amazing Race, perversely willing the phone to ring. "Hey, Skot, how's it hanging?" I imagined my telephonic pal would say. "Right above a bowl full of abject horror. I think I'm dying." I would reply. But nobody called. I spent the night shivering and hopelessly smoking cigarettes on my second-floor balcony, staring out at the pool and listening to the sound system blasting out Sheryl Crow songs. The diarrhea was a relief from this sonic assault. Eventually, I fell into a fitful sleep, plagued by horrid dreams involving me giving practicum talks while seated pantsless on a toilet.

Happily, the virus proved to be of the really punctual 24-hour sort, and again, switchlike, I felt magically better the next day at five. I was still a bit whey-faced from the lingering illnesses (not to mention from my utter inability to eat dinner the previous night), but I heroically managed to attend the "hospitality" party for the survivors of the meeting, where I cautiously sipped oaky, croaky red Cab while my unpukey compatriots shamelessly dumped horrible Riesling into their maws.

(On the night of my arrival, I had already learned the folly of ordering liquor in this bizarre Pollyanna state. Upon ordering a martini, I was given an absurdly anemic little glass of cloudy gin, which I figured was due to a criminally scanty pour, but later learned was thanks to Utah's mind-wrecking state laws that mandate some system involving odd metal nipples on liquor bottles which marry to laughable booze-measuring doodads that mete out truly depressing amounts of premeasured shots. The whole thing is Byzantine and insulting and childish. I have convinced myself that, contrary to the historical record, Kafka was trying to get a decent pour in a Utah bar when he decided he wanted all of his papers burned after he died.)

Oh, lord, it's all gone on long enough. Leave it to say that I'm back, and feeling better, and I've had a few days to recover. I'm back to work tomorrow, in my proper office. The wife even got me all set when I arrived back home with a movie night. We watched the Eli Roth masterpiece Hostel, a movie so soulless and unblinkingly mean that it dares to ask the question, "Who wants to see a guy get his Achilles' tendons slashed?"

We cringed our way through this grindcore nightmare of pointlessness, this objet of dumbosity where nothing is really scary but everything is disgusting. In the hands of Scorcese, blood red can be shocking. In the hands of others, it's just another crayon color. What a dreary, idiotic movie.

I missed the excitement of diarrhea. I didn't miss Utah. So Hostel has that going for it. Sort of worse than diarrhea. Better than Utah. I'll leave the rest to you.

Monday, 17 April
These Are All The Shapes Utah Could Have Been

Ah, friends, my tens of readers, it is with a heavy heart that I write tonight, for tomorrow . . . tomorrow, I am off. Off to sail the crummy, cramped, smell-other-people's-farts skies with a few hundred of my closest strangers, off to fly to Utah. I will be gone for the week, and so you're just going to have to content yourselves with a deficit of snotty complaining about, uh, everything, for a little while. Sorry about that. This is going to have to hold you.

And I don't even know if my heart is in it tonight. Do we really need yet another bunch of rambling crap about how awful airports are? Is anyone really interested in another jeremiad against airline gouging, or their horrible, alleged food? Does anyone really want to read another unfair, unkind, and ill-informed screed against some innocent city that I happen to spend four days in?

I say: We do.

It's with real anticipation that I await getting to the airport tomorrow, since my flight is on the not-at-all trouble airline Delta. I imagine their employees are going to be so happy! It is indeed fortunate that--assuming I get on my flight all right--I am essentially incapable of staying awake on flights, an attribute which has earned me my wife's enduring resentment. I can't help it--I fall asleep basically right away. It might be a defensive reaction against those particularly insectile male flight attendants, who all seem to resemble David Spade. They creep me out, and I have uneasy dreams about them extruding silk from their vest-concealed spinnerets to encase me before they extract my blood from my wiggling frame. Yes, in my mental world, David Spade is basically a big gay Shelob.

It doesn't help that I'm going to fucking Utah, the boxy state that fails even in its geometric imperative towards Platonic boxiness. This is a state that got out-rhomboided by Wyoming, for Christ's sake. WYOMING! Here's a gerund of a state, which is just pathetic, and yet it eats Utah's Platonic lunch.

And plus, I'm going to Salt Lake City, a Borglike grid of a city dumped down into the desert, and named in honor of a lake that is totally fucked up in the first place. Great Salt Lake? Who asked for that? They couldn't get a lake right? "What a gorgeous lake!" "Yeah, fuck that. It's full of salt." Hanh? Swell. I also can't wait to see the Mustard Mountains and the legendary Paprika Forest.

Look, I'm sorry. Like I said before, this is all very unfair. I was in SLC once, a long time ago. I'm just not very enthused about going, since it's a business trip, and I'm away from my wife, and blah blah blah. I'll be putting in some long hours, and I'll have to wear a tie all the fucking time, which, honestly? I'd rather cinch up my nuts with a spiked belt. (Oh, shit! Did I remember to pack my spiked belt?) WHICH REMINDS ME! What essential thing did I forget to pack? I'm sure it's something, and something big! Or maybe they'll just send my luggage to Oslo! And don't forget about that travel anxiety, like compulsively checking my back pocket to make sure my wallet is still there, and which looks to the rest of the world that I appear to have some ass-clutching twitch! Oh, it all adds up, and it makes me miserable. I hope this week goes by quickly, which I am certain it will not.

Oh, I'll see you next Monday or so. Fresh off the trip. At which time, this post will probably seem kind in retrospect. In the meantime . . . seriously, they couldn't get a lake right? Good Lord. Maybe someday I can go to a conference at the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

Thursday, 13 April
There's No Here Here, Or, This Post Is All Over The Place

A couple days ago at work I was in a meeting. Things hadn't really gotten started yet, and we were all just kind of shooting the shit, and then, for reasons that are TOTALLY UNCLEAR to me, a coworker turned to me and said, "Hey, Skot, how does 'Here I Go Again' go? C. here doesn't know that song." What? I looked at C., who is young and did not grow up in this blighted country, and she looked back at me expectantly. I turned back to the other coworker. "You mean the Whitesnake song?" This wasn't really happening, I was sure. "Yeah! C. doesn't know if she knows it. Sing it for her!"

And that is how--if not why--I found myself singing "Here I Go Again" at work to a table full of colleagues, in my best lounge baritone. I gave it a nice swing, I thought. I was feeling nothing like a drifter born to walk alone. I had made up my mind. I wasn't wasting no more time! Here I go again! My tablemates erupted as my voice cracked at one point, and someone said, "All we need now is Tawny Kitaen!" And C. said, "Oh, I know that song! Okay. But who is Tawny Kitaen?"

How depressing.

This was starting to get sort of out of hand, but I couldn't just leave it be, no. Who is Tawny Kitaen? Give me a fucking break. How can you live in this country and not know who Tawny Kitaen is? I had to fix things quick, so when I got back to my office, I quickly found the Whitesnake video on the horribly, awfully named Youtube. I sent the link to C., explaining that Tawny Kitaen was in their videos because at the time she was going out with Dave Coverdale. Then I vomited for a few minutes into my office garbage can, because I was spending time searching for Whitesnake videos and explaining things like Dave Coverdale.

C. wrote back. "Wow, she's really . . . flexible." Yes, and skanky! Let's not forget that. C. continued, "So did you guys all wear your hair like that?" Hopefully referring here to the band members and not Kitaen, but on the other hand, was there a difference?

My first reaction was, "Of course not!" And my second reaction was, "Oh, fuck, of course we did." Well, we tried, anyway, those of us who were sufficiently Idaho-ified to know nothing of Goth and sufficiently repelled by Idahoitude to feel that country was anathema. So of course we did awful things to our hair. And to our bodies.

So tomorrow I am taking a bullet in the spirit of raising office morale. I am bringing in a photo of me from 1987, when I was a freshman in college. (I would totally post an image of it here, had I but only a scanner, knowledge of what to do with a scanner, and then the competence to figure out how to host an image and then link it over here, none of which I actually possess.)

In this photo, I am standing outside of my dorm. My blonde hair--and my, didn't I have a lot of it 19 years ago!--is resplendent and cascading off of my skull like spun, hairy gold! It is carelessly yet artfully feathered on the sides, and above my shoulders the viewer may glimpse--can it be?--yes, it is a mullet perm. How it sparkles in the sunlight, much like the two bottles of beer I hold in my hands! In this photo, I am also wearing a Quiksilver t-shirt as well as some unfortunately tight grey shorts emblazoned with tiny yellow sharks. SURF'S UP, IDAHOANS! I am also seen to be wearing cherry-red Ray-Bans. This whole horrible tableau should be adopted as photodocumentation for the Wikipedia entry on "cultural illegitemacy." The ridiculous surf garb, in fact, was bought for me by my grandmother--you can read that again--whom I would visit in L.A. during summers. This shit came from the same shopping trip where I improbably managed to convince her to buy me a "Mr. Zog's Sex Wax" t-shirt.

My grandmother. I'm pretty sure that this is why she died. Her last words were almost certainly, "I can't live any more knowing that I bought my grandson that t-shirt." This was the same grandmother who took me to movies (at my insistence) such as Aliens--which she slept through, which I thought was fucking hilarious--and, I swear to God--48 Hours, a movie she found thoroughly debased and insulting and profane. Minutes later in the car, when we arrived back at her house in Chatsworth, we discovered that there was a power outage. "Well, isn't this just a bunch of bullshit!" screamed my very proper Lutheran grandmother. "Fuck!" I sat there quietly enjoying all of this, feeling extra-great in my ridiculous new Ocean Pacific clothes, and sensed I was learning something crucial about what adults say versus what they do.

But you only think you learn things. You remember events after you've already fucked up, and think, "I should have known." But you did know! It doesn't matter. I'm an adult now, and I only think I've learned. But two days ago, I was singing Whitesnake songs at the office. That doesn't sound like someone who has learned anything. And tomorrow, because I haven't learned anything at all, I'm going to take that photo from 1987 into the office to show to my coworkers. Why not? Perhaps the horror of the photo will move one of my coworkers to holler, "Well, isn't this just a bunch of bullshit!" in a sort of unwitting homage to my deceased grandmother, and then I can inwardly smile and think:

Here I go again.

Monday, 10 April
Games Without Frontiers

Late last week, I found myself in a conversation with friends about the games we used to play when at school, whether in class--like, say, Seven Up, the game designed to make kids rest their heads on their desk--or out on the playground, such as another chestnut like Kick the Can, the game that welds together the innocent joys of Hide and Seek with the Depression Era angst of angrily booting the hell out of empty pork 'n beans containers.

There was a lot of intersecting areas in our gameplaying Venn diagrams, I found. Despite a varied age group in the discussion, we found a lot of commonality. Most of us had played the various "Let's Hurt People" games, such as Crack the Whip, a game which now appears to me to be the physical representation of trickle-down economics: if you were at the head of the line, you were not only safe, you were basically engineering the ruination of those at the end. And then there was the even more ruthlessly atavistic Smear the Queer, where the Queer (and I appreciate that Wikipedia tries to tell me that NO, NO, WE DIDN'T REALLY MEAN IT, but please) desperately tried to avoid being slaughtered by fellow players, usually to no avail.

What was it, really, about these awful games? I remembered as well the famous Camel Fights, which were--what? Weird, back-humping exercises where you kicked and clawed at other backhumpers? O--kay. And then of course the recently resurgent (thanks again for fucking nothing, Ben Stiller, you tool) Dodge Ball. This I really love, especially in the context of middle schoolers or whatnot. Here you spend your entire existence basically being scolded by adults: "Don't hit other kids! It's NOT COOL!" Then, during gym class or a rainy recess, what do you get? Adults handing you big red balls, saying, "All right, see those kids? Your job is to hit them really hard." Larkin didn't have the whole picture. It wasn't your just your mum and dad fucking you up.

Okay, not all the games were of the weird, disassociatively violent sort. There were things like Four Square, which is--let's face it--possibly the dumbest game ever invented. Four Square is basically Intro to Parliamentary Procedure. "Hey, no Bus Stops!" "That wasn't a Bus Stop! That was a Hang Glider!" "My eye. You bounced up and over." "It went out anyway, you guys." "It did not!" "Did too!" "TEACHER!" If we ever got through fifteen minutes of this game without some sort of deathless debate, it's a miracle. Four Square basically just prepares young minds for the relentless tedium of things like Model UN, or, worse, Actual UN.

Or Kickball, which was baseball with those fucking red rubber balls again. And, of course, once again also with the "HIT THAT KID!" aspect, where you were encouraged to peg baserunners. Nothing like nailing a kid running top speed in the kneecaps on asphalt. I wondered on occasion if the janitor's duties included walking out nightly to the playground to hose off the kidflesh. I also wondered why they would pave the playground. After a few years of this mayhem, I started to imagine schoolkids picking up lost teeth from the playground and fashioning them into necklaces. The next step was clearly Death Cards, which, though I grew up before its ascendance to popularity, I assume is how Magic: The Gathering started. "Dude! You totally smoked Tommy!" "I know. Check it out. I tucked an Icy Manipulator into his pocket."

Wait, didn't I start out by citing this game as NON-violent? Uh . . . well, moving on.

When I was in middle school, I did all of these things, of course. But there was also some very weird other stuff going on. At the time, there was a large-ish kind of LARP-ey thing happening amongst the cool kids, where they would sort of run around pretending to be characters from Battlestar: Galactica. And it wasn't just this half-assed thing; Starbuck was always Starbuck, and Cylons were Cylons, etc., and it was this sort of huge baffling thing, but rather regimented, so everyone always had to listen to Lorne Greene, or whatever. I couldn't ever quite figure it out, and anyway, I was far too uncool to get to participate anyway. The Battlestar kids ran around with great joy, firing "lasers" at each other and more or less having the time of their rarefied lives.

I eventually found my way into the outcast version of this peculiar phenomenon, anyway, and fell in with a few other complete dweebs, who had started their own sort of TV-inspired roleplay. My group instead pretended to be characters from . . . The Dukes of Hazzard. Needless to say, I was one of the last people to join up with this wanky bunch of chittering freaks, and so I did not get one of the "plum" roles like, say, Bo or Uncle Jesse or even Boss Hogg. (Can you believe this shit?) No, I was recruited to be Cooter, with the unconvincing argument that Cooter was the "only guy who can touch the General Lee!" It would be years, I hardly need to clarify, that I would actually touch a girl, much less a car.

And so I was Cooter. I wondered on occasion if things could be worse, and I realized that, I guess they could have been. They could have demanded I play Daisy, for example. Certainly no girls were clamoring to join our joyless little enclave--the Galactica kids had a few girl Cylons, the fuckers!--but nobody was wondering if I could steal my mom's L'Eggs, anyway. And I was a part of something, anyway, even if that something was anemic and dumb and just a little sad.

And of course we viewed the Battlestar kids with more than a little envy. Here we were, imaginary renegade rednecks, but these guys were starfighters! Fuck those, uh, popular kids! So occasionally we would stage incursions. "Let's go run us over some Cylons," someone would say. And, thrillingly, someone else--Chris, I think--would say, "Cooter! Fire up the General Lee!" Then I'd do some awful under-the-hood-type miming and give Bo and Luke the thumbs-up and watch my compatriots zoom over into the midst of battlin' Cylons. I'd pretend to wipe my not-oily hands on a garage rag that wasn't there as my friends broke up some space battle with purely idiotic "Southern" rebel yells, nothing else for me to do but watch. The Cylons screeched with indignation as the General Lee ran them all over ignominiously, swearing all the while that their lasers had utterly destroyed the insurgents, and besides, "Cars don't work in space!" Terrible arguments ensued, at least until the inevitable bell.

I wasn't long for the Dukes of Hazzard crew. I told myself that it was stupid and that I was being basically shortchanged. Which might have been true. What was truer was, I just missed Four Square.

Thursday, 06 April
Pray'd

Some big news this week came out of a largeish clinical trial that determined that prayer had little or no effect on patients recovering from cardiac bypass surgery. Pfft. I could have told folks this. Yeah, this trial--which ate up a couple million bucks or so--had to do with "intercessory prayer," where other people prayed on the subjects' behalf, and my bitter experiences all relate to personal prayers going totally ignored, sure, but I think we can all confidently now assert that prayer is a waste of time. Or, possibly, that God hates me. Here's just a few of my prayers that have gone TOTALLY IGNORED over the years.

AGE app. 6 months

I clearly remember praying for formula. Was this too much to ask? Here I was, suckling on my mother's teat--like that's not enough to damage a kid . . . she was my MOM, for Christ's sake! Gross!--while all around me the cool kids were getting shiny cans of delicious formula. "Please, God," I cried, "don't make me face that creepy nipple again. Can't I have some of that sweet, sweet Similac?" But no. I tried to resist, but dammit . . . I'd get hungry! All the time! And then I'd find myself back gnawing on that awful boob.

In the end, I extracted some revenge on God. We lived on a ranch in the country with feral barn cats, and occasionally, we would feed the cats expired Similac. Or so my parents suspected. What they didn't know was, late at night, I would skitter out to the barn and kick the shit out of those cats and hungrily drink down the out-of-date warm formula like a dairy vampire. Eat it, God! Thanks for nothing.

AGE app. 4 years old

On Saturdays, I would religiously wake up around 7 AM so as to thoroughly rinse out my brains with weekend cartoons. And, being a deranged little kid, I would also want to feed myelf after building an awesome fort with kitchen chairs and blankets, so I would then raid the kitchen for my favorites: cold hot dogs, raw potatoes and plain old butter. These things I would eat with wild abandon, despite my parents' horror. "Jesus Christ!" they would wail. "Where's the butter?" And "Did you . . . did you eat a whole potato? Did you wash it?"

My beef here with God is, for one thing, there was never enough butter. Thanks for nothing, God! I would have eaten like three sticks of the stuff, but You did not provide me with divine bounty! Also, I really should have washed that potato, since I'm pretty sure it gave me worms, which was fairly disgusting. I asked You, and You gave me worms. What a tool.

AGE app. 15 years old

God, I pleaded with you to strike Mike H. dead. (I really wanted to print his real name, but I held back. Let's call him Mike Hollaback. Close enough.) You failed to strike him dead. This despite my frantic entreaties for intercessions when he administered countless Purple Nurples, "whistle or you lose its," and various attacks on my groin with a tennis racket. The best you could do was give him a great big zit on his shoulder, which unexpectedly and audibly popped in gym class one day when his friend Kendall slapped Mike on the back in a companiable fashion, and the incredible whitehead blasted a stunning amount of terrible goo onto Kendall's hand.

Then Kendall wiped that shit on my gym shorts. I've gotta say, God, you're kind of a dick. Although I can kind of see why You made sure Porky's was a huge success.

Oh, I could go on, I guess, but what's the point? I suppose God thinks He's made it all up to me by coughing up a wonderful wife, a good job, and a reasonably satisfying side hobby as a lazy-ass stage actor. All in all, life isn't bad.

On the other hand, was it too much to ask for just a little more butter?

Monday, 03 April
Through The Looking Glasses

A week ago, I went to my optometrist and got a new set of glasses. It'd been about three years or so. As usual, I went to his office, tricked out in daunting ads featuring models lounging around in impossibly chic spectacles. Some of these pneumatic ad-gals seemed to be fingering their glasses provacatively, others were wrapping their glossy lips around the temples in erotic contemplation, and one ad seemed to rather unimaginatively show a woman staring at the viewer in her shiny glasses while she fingered her snatch with a frank expression. The message seemed to be: "These glasses will make attractive women masturbate for you." At least that's what I got from it.

I bitched about this three years ago, but it bears repeating: eye doctors are not real doctors. They are incredibly expensive designer frame delivery mechanisms. For a hundred and twenty-five bucks, my "exam" bought me a perfunctory bit of nonsense with the alleged doctor, who idly fumbled with electronic lens displays that blurrified the letter chart for me. "Which one is clearer, A or B?" he asked, spinning knobs at random. "They both look like letters made of hair," I replied. "Hmmm. Your vision really is horrible. How about now?" He clicked a couple buttons. "Now I see a dancing cow," I said flatly. "Oh, my," he said, not bothering to conceal his indifference. "That means you have, uh, oculopathy. With attendant . . . retinnitus. But don't worry. We have designer frames for that."

After more of that shit, and some other nonsense where he gave me some nameless burning eyedrops "just to fuck with ya!" I was sent out to the purgatory that is the optometrist's front office to be "helped" by his service lackeys. Eyeball lackeys primarily "help" by steering you to the shiny, osmium- beryllium alloy frames that were designed by obnoxious Frenchmen and modeled by the aforementioned vagina-diddlers. Or there are the "budget" options described in low tones by the lackeys as "shoddy," or more simply, "hideous." "You could get these," said Willard, distastefully holding a pair of plastic frames in his fingers, as if it were a petrified turd, "but nobody would talk to you. Me, I wouldn't piss on these." Then he dropped the frames to the floor, unzipped his pants, and brought forth his dismayingly grayish penis. He stood there for a moment, staring intently at the befallen frames as if in grave concentration, while I found myself becoming tachycardic. He finally looked at me. "See? I can't piss on these frames." He crushed the awful frames under his heel as he tucked his granite-colored member back into his pants. "Plus, they're made by blind children in Byelorussia. Or Tahinistan. One of those dead-ass countries. You wear those, you might as well tattoo I HATE PUSSY on your head. Come on, let's stop fucking around and go look at some real frames."

Naturally, I ended up spending, all told, over six hundred dollars for the whole experience, including these smart new frames, made of gunmetal-colored titanium. I picked "gunmetal" because I naturally assumed that once I put them on, I'd be able to shoot people just by looking at them, BUT NO, FUCKED AGAIN. Willard also managed to tack on a number of things that I'm sure I did not need--some sort of coating, for example, that I'm sure is the "undercarriage rustcoat" of eyeglasses, that supposedly reduces glare, but really just reduces my bank account as well as my ability to function in capitalistic society. Willard also told me with apparent jollity that there was no way on God's earth that my insurance plan would cover this crap, as my insurance plan was, in his words, "really the shits." (On this, I am not kidding.)

Well, at any rate . . . after all that, I have a new set of glasses. And they're really spiffy! They're smaller and lighter than my last pair, and certainly more stylish, since they have an actual color. "Gunmetal"! Which is way cooler than my last drab pair, which were the color of . . . regular metal. I am assured by everyone--well, everyone at my optometrist's--that their slimmer profile highlights my Nordic cheekbones and downplays my otherwise utterly simian facial features. "Plus they cover up that huge-ass zit you have right in between your eyebrows," crowed Willard.

I love my new glasses, if I have to tell the truth. They were fucking expensive as hell, but I really like them a lot. Wearing them has given me a new swagger and, yes, I feel a little more stylish as well. It's a good feeling. And, pretty soon, I'm sure, someone else will notice too, and will speak up. Which will also be a good feeling. I can't wait.

But I guess I'll have to wait a little longer. Because in a little over a week of wearing them, not one single person has noticed that I have new glasses. But as soon as someone does? Man . . . it's going to make it all worth it.










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