I tracked my facebook statuses from Last Thanksgiving until tonight and I basically saw 2013 unfold in forgotten hilarity. Also, I learned that my wife is funnier than I am. Here are some highlights:
How hungry was I today? Well, I found a bone in my turkey and removed it to my plate. After covering the plate with more food, I found the bone had disappeared. I ate a bone and did not realize it. Do your duty, stomach acid. We’re all counting on you.
I was walking through a nearly pitch black pre-school room when my passing apparently triggered an Elmo doll somewhere in the darkness to say, “I see you!” and laugh uncontrollably. In other news, every item on my Christmas list is now “new underwear”.
Need made me get out early to clean and scrape my car. Love made me spend an extra fifteen gloveless minutes doing hers.
Today Jaclyn referred to Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve as “Dick Clark’s Ball Dropping Celebration”.
You never EXPECT to hear the word “whorehouse” spoken that many times in the hall of an elementary school. But maybe you should. Maybe you should.
"You’re ‘waiting for thunder’ face is the same as your ‘going to fart’ face." -Jaclyn
A child hit me in the nuts with his lunch box (on accident), realized what he had done, hugged me, yelled, “Wugga wugga wugga!” And ran away, trailing a crowd of comrades who also were yelling, “Wugga wugga wugga!”
Is there a name for someone who instinctively knows when people are going to pull a jerk move, as I do? I considered “The Asshole Whisperer”, but that moniker belies a whole other realm of talents I am not prepared to admit to.
If I take enough medicine and listen to enough Ziggy Stardust, do you think I can ride this floor scrubber to the moon and back?
People who say, “I seent that” make me angry to a degree I’m uncomfortable admitting to.
The new coworker just answered her phone with, “Whatchoo want, slutbag?!” And with those three(ish) words, my work environment just became interesting. Real Housewives of someplace interesting. Does anyone know what going “ziggity boom” means? Because that’s what the, I gather, new mother she is talking to just did to land herself back in the hospital.
I just went out to the garage to look for something, and I’m not going to go into everything… but it wasn’t even a minute later that I came running back to the porch, one shoe gone, hollering, “I was attacked by squirrels!” I didn’t find my book. Daring deeds are for daylight.
I never would have believed a first grader could bend such a large butt biscuit onto the floor of the bathroom. There’s a war brewing within me as to whether I’m repulsed or impressed. In the end, when I had to pick it up with a thin garbage bag because I had no gloves, repulsion won.
Hobbits. All I want are Hobbits. All day long.
They called me strange when I taped a rag to my forearm in order to clean the tops of the lockers. They can laugh all they want, but that stuff worked like gangbusters. I’ve cracked the code… Doesn’t make it hurt any less when the first graders move to the other side of the hall and call me “Scary Sleeve Man” when I pass by, though.
Apparently my job description will soon include herding a family of ducks and their ducklings out of the courtyard. This is a yearly tradition here at the school, I have learned. My only fear is that, my herding abilities as they are, I am going to trip and fall and destroy them all. It will be the 9/11 of adorable waterfowl, and it will play out in front of the impressionable and soon to be traumatized youngsters. I didn’t expect to worry about infant duck crushing when I awoke this morning, but such is my life.
"What a dolt," the teacher’s aid thought to herself as she watched the overweight bearded janitor sing the chorus to "Africa" by Toto through his lunchtime perspiration.
So the obnoxious secretary is limiting the amount of paper teachers can use because it is running out, despite the fact that she is hoarding a cache herself. This is the most trivial problem ever, but apparently it’s a big deal around here. A teacher was complaining to me about it and I said, “Yeah, she sits on a throne of lies.”. The teacher did not understand the humor and seemed to think I was truly up in arms. Good thing I didn’t go with my “this is the Auschwitz of office supplies” joke… Yikes.
Today I participated in a school lockdown drill for the first time. My role in a hypothetical crisis is to lock the outer doors and run around making sure lights are off. By the time that is over, I have been locked out of every possible hiding place in the building and can’t see where I’m going. Anything can happen in an attack on this school, and nobody can predict the outcome of such an event, but rest assured, the janitor will die.
I am certain a child heard me singing (after I saw the buffet being prepared in the school library), “Nah nah nahnah, nah nah nahnah, hey-hey-hey, food food!” I was rightly judged by said child.
I accidentally ruined my mustache today. Thus, for the foreseeable future, I am rocking the Abe Lincoln. Also, all rides have been cancelled for the month of June.
"My wife always says she likes my sweat smell, but lately it has been so strong that she demands I take a shower when I get home." - this old dude I work with
So Jackie and I got an apartment! Moving in two days after the wedding. Pretty dern stoked. Also, donations to the “We Now Have To Live Like Responsible Adults” fund can be made to my paypal. Or you can throw change at my bedroom window and I will fight the crows over them each morning.
Today has been the worst. I hate when people think you have nothing to contribute and talk down to you because you clean stuff for a living. I may be a janitor but I’ve read books by Stephen Hawking and I know why penal substitutionary atonement is a bunch of bologna, so back off with the tone and let me clean your messes, ladies.
"Okay, I know I referred to our relationship in terms of Kermit the Frog, and called you my Miss Piggy. I realize now that was in poor taste." - Jaclyn, to me last night.
Today some insectoid thing big enough to flap loudly, dove directly into my ear, which is a red alert nightmare scenario. It turned out to just be a small butterfly, but my nipples went all fear-hard just the same.
There’s an orchard near my apartment that apparently brews its own hard cider. I’ll take a bushel or a peck or whatever it is you do, just give it to me.
I don’t think the children get my sense of humor yet. A few of them helped me take out the recycling, and when one little girl asked me what we do if the trash bin fell into the dumpster while we were dumping paper, I turned to her and said, “Well, I will just have to throw one of you in after it, I guess.” She did not laugh. I need to work on my “only kidding” face before some child goes to a teacher and tells them that Mr. Dave wants them dead.
I’m holding out for a gyro ‘til the end of the night.
I was being attacked by bees, swatting them and cursing under my breath outside, and literally said to myself, “They need to have someone come out here and kill these things.” No joking, exactly 5 seconds later a truck bedecked with “Bug-Bee-Gone” decals pulled up and asked where the bees were. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to bend spoons and spin objects in the air with my mind before someone told me they’d ordered an exterminator for the school playground’s hornet problem.
Me: What would you call, like, civil rights for fat people?
Jackie: I dunno… McRights?
"My God, if farts were string this whole apartment would be filled with yarn!" - Jaclyn, in opposition to my stank.
When I’m not around people, sometimes I say and do absurd things that I don’t realize I’m saying or doing until afterwards, and upon reflection cannot even attempt to come up with an explanation as to why I would make such utterances. Case in point: I came home tonight after a long day of running around, immediately took off my jeans because comfort, and then shouted to the empty apartment as I kicked them into a corner, “Screw you, pants! You’re not my real dad!” I had not planned on saying this. I did not realize I had said it until afterward. I am absurd.
If my life at work were a Hallmark Channel movie, it would be titled “Hiding In Stairwells To Fart: An ER Security Guard’s Story”.
One of my hobbies is writing off-putting things in the delivery special instructions for Hungry Howies. Tonight I told them about my chicken wings, “Make ‘em saucy as you can, boys. Davey likes ‘em spicy.”
Everyone be honest with me: did I ruin Christmas if I clogged the toilet at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland ten minutes before they closed due to massive indigestion resulting from a misheard pizza order? I have a lot of guilt about this event because no matter how many sizes my heart grows when I hear those Whos singing “Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze!” in the Whoville town square it’s not like I can just undo this betrayal of trust by sledding it back down Mount Crumpit.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.”—
Of all the strange men and women I have worked with at the various jobs I have held, perhaps no relationship is stranger than the bizarre acquaintanceship I formed with an IMAX film projectionist named Harold.
First, let me set the scene.
In 2007, the theater I worked at as an usher constructed an IMAX screen on one end of the building. It was a pretty big deal at the time, although if you’ve gone to a legitimately impressive IMAX screen in some larger city than Grand Blanc, Michigan, you will understand why most true cineasts refer to such smaller than average “bigscreens” as a “LieMAXes”. But I digress.
The new wing brought with it new customers, new responsibilities, drastically higher prices, and a brand spanking new group of projectionists. Most of them were older white men of varying degrees of dementia that loved long conversations and not brushing their teeth daily. Of these oddities, the reigning champion would probably be Harold skinner.
I met Harold on Christmas morning that year, and it would prove to be a memorable encounter. I was sitting in the lobby and shirking my duties because in those days I could get away with it, reading the latest Stephen King and relishing the holiday pay I was raking in. It was at this point that an excitable, nasally, and creepily gleeful voice broke my concentration with a question posed with such intensity that it completely threw me for a loop.
“Red or white?!” There in front of me, smiling with those big yellow teeth was Harold Skinner. All four feet nine inches of him. Gray whisps of wild hair framed his mostly bald dome, and huge eyes bulged from their sockets behind thick-rimmed glasses. His dark t-shirt was tucked into jeans pulled so high that it made it seem like his waist began at his nipples. In the years since, the truest comparison I can come up with for my first impression of Harold was that little dude from that old Nickelodeon cartoon Aaahh!!! Real Monsters! that held his eyeballs aloft in his hands all the time:
“Um…” I replied bewildered, putting my book down. “Red, I guess?” I had no idea what I was supposed to answer, but that seemed to satisfy him and he ducked out of sight for a moment.
He returned with a massive bucket, in which some liquid could be heard sloshing. I sat up, because this was a turn of events I did not expect. And with such a character as Harold, I was at least a little apprehensive. He slammed the bucket down in front of me in what I can only describe as triumph and said, “There you are! Take a red one!” And he began to laugh.
Before I tell you what was in that bucket, what always ended up being in Harold’s buckets on the major national holidays, I have to tell you about that laugh. Harold laughed a lot. And he laughed at everything and he laughed at nothing. Giggling, it seemed, was how Harold coped with awkward pauses and silence in conversation. He did it with gusto too, holding his gut and cocking his body this way and that, bending low so he had to look up at you sideways while he carried on. His laugh was clown-like, bordering on unnervingly maniacal. I can do a pretty good impression of him, and it’s ruined a lot of good conversations in my time. Anyway.
In the bucket were about three dozen carnations, red and white, standing in water. I plucked a red one gently out, and tried to control my shocked expression as I muttered, “Uh… Thanks Harold.”
“Merry Christmas!” he bellowed, laughing and rubbing his belly. He would go on to give a carnation to every employee, male or female, on every holiday.
Harold gave lots of things to the employees. Say what you will about his eccentric ways, he was king of small generosities. Most days he brought in boxes of cookies from Subway for everyone. Sometimes it was candy, especially around Halloween.
And Harold seemed to genuinely love talking to everyone. He was nothing if not extremely outgoing. He’d had a second job for twelve years as a clerk at a toy store in the local mall, and from all he’d told me it had given him immense joy to hold that position. Apparently he even denied himself offered promotions to manager because, in his words, he would rather just stock shelves and ring up toys. To each their own, I suppose.
If you asked Harold how he was doing when you greeted him, like clockwork he would always answer, “Livin’ and breathin’!” All while groaning a weirdly satisfied groan and rubbing his jean-clad belly.
Another favorite saying of his was, “Well what do I know? I just work here!” This was due to the fact that almost every conversation he had was a very one-sided bitter rant about some aspect of the job or another that would end with that line and a head-bob before he wandered off groaning and rubbing on his belly as usual.
My own relationship with Harold developed over a series of interactions while I stood post in the lonely IMAX lobby. These began with Harold’s “runs”.
Between his duties of cleaning filmstrips and starting up projectors, Harold would often tear ass down from the second story projection room. I would hear a rapid clompling down the two flights of stairs and then the heavy door to the stairwell would fly open and there was Harold. Ever groaning, ever sweating.
Always he was headed for the men’s restroom where he proceeded to (forgive me) take the loudest, wettest, most disturbing poops I have ever heard. They echoed off of the bare walls and high ceiling and I just stood there listening because there was nothing else I could do.
Harold affectionately called these panicked trips to the toilet his “runs”. Invariably, he would emerge from the bathroom looking satisfied and patting his belly. He would stride up to me and say with pride, “Well Dave, that Subway just ran right through me. I’m probably going to be shitting my brains out all night long! Didn’t think I would make it down those stairs. Hope I can make it next time!” And then the laughing.
“Oh boy, Harold. That sounds rough,” I usually said because what else do you say to that?
Over the months and years that followed, I learned that Harold’s best friend was his sister. One night he proudly told me that he was going to make her a candle-light dinner when he got home to their apartment. “That’s… very nice of you, Harold…” I would say to him. Every time he mentioned his relationship with his sister, I got a slight Flowers in the Attic vibe that made me shiver a bit, but I didn’t want to judge the man too harshly. He was probably lonely, and the only thing sadder than a candlelight dinner made for your sister is one made for yourself.
One night, I even got to meet her. I was sitting in a chair by the ticket post, and they sort of snuck up on me. Rarely do Harold and his kin get to stand above anyone, but this time they managed and boy, did they take advantage of the opportunity. She was the splitting image of Harold. Same face, same glasses, same boxy frame. Only her unkept blonde head of hair and mostly smooth face distinguished her from her brother. Bending low over me they cracked jokes, and then in a dance so surreal that it creeps me out to this day, they simultaneously rubbed their respective bellies and laughed identical unnerving laughs. It was a bizarro mirror image of insanity and it was happening directing in my personal space bubble.
But despite his familial affections, Harold did have tastes for females outside of the family tree. I remember once he told a coworker of mine that a really hot girl was wiping off the trash cans around the corner and that he should go check her out. Curious as to what got ol’ Harold’s motor turning, he of course went to investigate. What he found was a member of the special needs group that volunteered at the theater on weekday mornings.
Now before you go all civil rights on me, don’t think I’m saying that finding a special needs person attractive is de facto something to cringe at.
Of course not.
Checking out the “hot” obviously mentally handicapped girl forty-five years younger than you, however… Well the Harold wants what it wants, as they say.
Harold was also a film fan, and it was what we bonded over on those long lonely IMAX shifts of mine. That all came to an awkward and majorly creepy halt one day because of Ted Turner.
We were discussing aspect ratio, as you do when you are a desperate film nerd like myself, and the invigorating qualities that widescreen movies have over fullscreen movies. Harold then related to me that he would never be able to see his favorite movie, Gone With the Wind, in widescreen format because when media mogul and eccentric billionaire Ted Turner had bought the original prints to air them on television, he had physically cut them down. This effectively and tragically had forever kept film fans in the modern era from seeing the movie as it was meant to be seen.
Harold had every right to be upset by this. But his dissatisfaction seemed to be born in a wholly darker place.
Gripping the lid of a metal trash can in fury, sweating and groaning, Harold growled with such intensity that I actually took a step back from the little man.
“He cut it. That dirty motherfucker Ted Turner cut Gone with the Wind and if I had the chance I’d kill him here and now!”
As you begin to gather, Harold had his share of issues.
On my last night of work at the theater, Harold gave me the strangest parting words I think I will ever receive.
He called me over the radio. “Hey Dave I need some help lifting something up here in the booth,” he said. This was a rare request, but it can happen so I consented without questioning.
The lifting, it turns out, was a ruse.
When I got up to the dusty cavern that is the IMAX projection booth I found him grinning wider than ever, chuckling to himself.
“You need a hand, Harold?” I asked. He just cackled and shook his head.
“Whatever it took to get you up here!” he cried, and rushed towards me still giggling. I backed up until my shoulders hit the spinning platter that held the film, unsure if he intended to freak me or fight me.
He reached into a black sack he’d been holding and brought out a magazine, which he proceeded to shove into my hands.
It was the 2010 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Brooklyn Decker gazed up at me, mostly naked, from the glossy cover.
“Open her up and just tell me which one is prettiest, Dave!” Harold’s voice was near hysterically high pitched. This was a moment he had planned for awhile. He was preternaturally gleeful about the whole affair.
“Gee, Harold,” I said, flipping through the pages and never taking my eyes off of the little projectionist. “They all seem pretty good to me.”
I got out of there quick, and my interactions with Harold were few and far between after that. A couple of years later I related the story to one of the company managers, and he seemed dismayed.
“If you had told me this back then I could have fired that creep on the spot!” he said. And he could have. And would have. He had no love for Harold J. Skinner. Few people did.
But I’m glad I didn’t. Knowing that weirdos like Harold exist to liven up a workplace, so long as they don’t hurt anyone (or, like, steal a kid), makes me smile. Working the drag jobs in society, those that never become careers and often get left behind and forgotten in youth, is like being on safari. Some days you drive around on the Serengeti and never see anything but sparrows and grass. Those are the boring days.
Then some days you encounter beasts, those hideous and interesting creatures that pass the time. They must be hired by bored supervisors to do just that.
I’m thankful for the days with the beasts because I’d rather be just a little scared than a lot bored. Keep that in mind the next time the creepy little fat guy at your job gives you flowers.