At The Theater to See Moonrise Kingdom Last Night…

(My wife leaves to use the facilities. I’m one seat in from the end in an already poor viewing position on the far right of the theater. I spy a group of four mature semi-latecomers  coming in, looking for seats. I know they’re heading for me, and I’m prepared to move, once they show they plan to sit beside me.)

Leader of Latecomers: (Points at my wife’s purse in her seat): Who’s sitting there?

Me: My wife, but… (I prepare to shift over a seat)

Leader: Well, is ANYone sitting THERE? (Points to the seat at my right)

Me: Uh, no, so I’ll just…

Leader: (Obviously feeling that I’m not springing from my seat fast enough.) Is THERE a PROBLEM here?

Me: No, there isn’t a PROBLEM here, but maybe you could give me a CHANCE to move OVER!

(I get up and move over. Without a thank you, they file in. As I glare at them, they avoid eye contact.)

There are plenty of asses in this world, yes, and they should be thwarted at every turn. However, there are just as many jerks who (1)  think they’re here to fight the asses of the world; (2) assume everyone who doesn’t make them immediately happy must be another ass throwing obstacles in their path; and (3) anything goes, because sarcasm and bad behavior are the best ways to deal with a fellow human being.

Protector of the City

Nate: Dad, I want to be a Protector of the City.

Me: What’s that, bud?

Nate: A protector. He wears a cowboy hat.

Me: Yeah?

Nate: And sometimes a bathing suit, but not always. And he wears purple sunglasses.

Me: Okay. What else?

Nate: Sometimes he wears green glasses, but not anymore. And then he’s got boots, but they’re really, really, really dusty.

Me: And they protect people?

Nate: Yeah!

Me: Well, that sounds like a great thing to be. Good night, buddy. You dream about being a Protector.

Nate: Okay! Good night!

I Can Haz Cannibalizm Bacon?

Let’s imagine that through some set of circumstances, you end up attending a soda pop bottle collectors’ convention. Perhaps, like me, you collect soda pop bottles, and turning up at such a convention wouldn’t be a surprise to you (I haven’t attended any myself), but in this instance let’s assume you don’t give a damn about soda pop bottles. You don’t hate them, but they fail to set you afire, let’s say.

At first, as you walk around, you might be mildly impressed by the beauty of the bottles on display: some possess eye-catching art, others have pleasing shapes. Perhaps some of the collectors are perfectly lovely people, plainly excited about their hobby and willing to share the joy of soda-pop bottle collecting with you. Some are more exuberant and/or socially awkward than others, but mostly they seem to be a pleasant, harmless lot. You may not be able to follow their conversations about grading or ACLs, but it’s clear they’re enjoying themselves, and no one is buttonholing you to joyfully scream about the 1952 seven ounce Grapette bottle they discovered in a Muskegon landfill.

Still, after a time, you tire of hearing about bottles. That’s understandable. The convention center exits are clearly marked, and you’re not chained to a column, so there’s nothing keeping you there.

Yet, you remain, and you continue to walk about. But now the tone and endless onslaught of soda-pop bottle trivia and trading is growing grating. I must stress, you could leave, but instead you visit each table, hoping someone will start talking about flyfishing, SOPA, Artemisia Gentileschi, or Indian food. You bring up these subjects, and you generate a mild conversation or two about them, but soon you’re back to bottles, bottles, bottles. You exhale a sigh of disgust and walk off to another part of the center.

Eventually, you find a group of your friends—all of whom, for the purposes of analogy, are exchanging empty bottles that once contained Heep Good orange pop, Top Hat seltzer water, Kayo chocolate soda, O•So•Grape elixir, and others. They’re having a grand old time, and when they see you they wave you over.

“Aren’t you guys SICK of talking about bottles?” you ask.

Startled, they look to one another, and your best friend says, “Uh, no. It’s fun! what’s your favorite soda pop bottle?”

“But it’s NOT fun,” you gripe. “It’s just so overdone. I’m sick of hearing about it.”

They look at you sympathetically—these are your friends, after all—but ask, “Well… You do realize you’re at the annual soda pop bottle convention, right? And Bob and Jane over here, well, they’ve just gotten into it.”

“Yeah! It’s superduper fun!” says Bob, happily. You shoot him a withering glare.

“But you’ve been talking about it for days now. Isn’t it time to discuss something else?” you say.

One of your friends shrugs and says, “I… guess… but we’re really enjoying ourselves.”

“But I’m not!” you say. “I want to talk about something else! Like jai alai or French cinema or Anjelica Houston.”

“Hey, you’re in luck!” another friend says, cheerfully. She points to a staircase across the center. “Upstairs they’re holding the convention for aficionados of French movies starring Anjelica Houston as a jai alai player! And it’s free! Actually, I was thinking of going up there after this, so we could…”

You begin to stomp your feet and shake your little fists in the air.


Your friends look at you askance.

“Maybe you could go home for a little while and then come back later? You know, take a break. We’ll be done soon.” says your best friend.

“Yeah, let’s go to the bar next door and have a drink. And we’ll talk about whatever you like!” says your cousin. “Before we go though, check out this hilarious soda pop bottle I found! It has a kitty-cat on it!”

“NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!” You scream. You start overturning tables and breaking bottles like Christ cleansing the Temple.

“Everyone must talk about things according to my schedule! Everyone must cease enjoying a hobby when I declare it! Anyone who hasn’t laughed at a joke by a certain time and date MUST BE FORBIDDEN TO LAUGH AT IT EVER AGAIN!” you bellow. “Arrrgggh! This is why America is in danger! This is why people are stupid! Once things were good, but now they are bad! Argggh! Evil has a face, and it is soda pop bottle collectiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!”

When you finish, you find yourself panting, sweaty, and standing on a mountain of glass, the collectors dazed and breathless and more than a few—your friends included—glaring and wondering why you’re so damned worked up.

Then you look across the center and see someone eating a ham sandwich. Except the ham isn’t stuck between two pieces of bread… IT’S STUCK BETWEEN TWO LARGE SQUARES OF GRAPE JELL-O!

“Ha ha ha! Hey, look guys!” you say, stumbling with bloodied feet across the field of glass. “A Jell-O sandwich! Ha ha! Well, if that isn’t the ever-living, ever-loving end!” You take a picture of it, intending to share it with everyone you meet on the way home. “Say, guys…” you ponder, turning back to your friends, “What other things could you make with Jell-O!?! Ha ha! Bacon Jell-O! Badger Jell-O! Zombie Jell-O! Lutefisk Jell-O! HA HA HA HA! Man, this is KOOKY!”

At once, everyone in the convention center forgives you, and you all begin amassing and sharing thousands upon thousands of Jell-O recipes and photographs.

Something you know you’ll never ever get tired of doing.

And It’s Green Too

Nate (My four-year-old, in the back seat): “Is the junk superstrong?”

Mike: “What, buddy?”

Nate: “The junk. Is the junk superstrong?

Me: “Huh? The junk?”

Nate: “Yeah. He’s an all green guy, but is he superstrong?”

Me: (I develop a suspicion, one which my geekier friends have undoubtedly also developed) “Are you reading a comic back there, little guy?”

Nate: “Yeah.”

Me: “Let me see it.” (I reach back and take it, then look at the page he’s been reading.) “Ah, I believe you mean the Incredible Hulk, buddy.”

Nate: “Yeah! The Incredible Junk!”

Me: (To Mike) “You know, I have no doubt his junk IS incredible.”