Saturday, July 9, 2011

From the Vault: Christmas Cash

Please allow me to share a moment from my childhood.

This particular Christmas Eve begins like the others. As I tear into that square box that so obviously means clothes, I imagine one of the countless things on this year’s Christmas list (it was a good one). Pajamas again? Santa must have forgotten that he gave me some the last 4 years. Maybe next year. In the wake of disappointment, my sweet mother allows us to open the cards we had received from our beloved Grandparents in Washington. Cards are boring. I want a real present. One that requires batteries. Begrudgingly, I open the card. What’s that? There’s money in here. NO WAY! Fifty bones. I have never seen this much money in my life! I am rich and I know exactly what I am going to buy: Micro Machines van that folds out into an entire city ready for the exploring with my miniature cars.

I spend the following months developing a routine for my tiny cars and bragging to my friends: my grandparents gave me $50 for Christmas. What did yours give you? Each time, my story changes. My grandparents no longer surprised us with $50 each, but they give us $50 dollars every Christmas. That is how it has been this year and that is how it will be until one of us dies. I begin to plan for next year’s winnings. I have my eye on the Turtle Copter to go with my Ninja Turtle van. Maybe the underground lair. Either way, my turtles are about to see a lot more play time.

The decorations are up and my stomach is constantly full of cookies. It’s almost here. I begin to wonder if my mom will let us open our $50 on Christmas Eve again or if we’ll have to wait. I’m in luck. My Canadian cousins are here and we’ll probably open our money together. I sit in a circle with my cousins. We destroy the wrapping paper so fast that within seconds we are all showing off our new pajamas. Normally, I would start to wonder if this is a pattern, but I am lost in excitement over my money. The moment has arrived. I can’t wait to feel that crisp bill in my hands; to smell the sweet aroma of instant undeserving wealth. This time there is a present with my card. You shouldn’t have Grandma! I tear open the envelope but something is wrong. There is only $5. Where’s the rest of my money? It must be hidden in the present. The wrapping paper dissolves under my skilled hands to reveal a disgusting sweater completely absent of any currency. As tears begin to form in my eyes, I look straight into the camera that is immortalizing this moment and yell “WHERE’S MY FIFTY DOLLARS?”

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Somebody call a doctor

Lately, there’s been something wrong. Though I’ve been incredibly happy, I have been feeling off in some way. It is difficult to explain; please allow me to paint you a picture using a few examples from this weekend.

  • Friday, I went on a grueling 5 hour hike. Living up to the standard set for myself, I spent 4.5 of those hours deciding what I would eat when I got home. Exercise merits a culinary reward. 5 hours of exercise merits a complete gluttonous meltdown. Fudruckers soon became the obvious option for just such an occasion. On the way to Fudruckers, I was seriously considering the pound challenge (a $20 feast including a pound hamburger, large chili cheese fry, fountain drink, and ice cream sundae) which would leave me satisfied with a free T-shirt. These thoughts soon dwindled to only the pound hamburger which quickly became 2/3 of a pound. By the time I ordered, I found myself muttering the words “half pound” and I didn’t even eat all my fries. What’s happening to me?
  • Saturday, I got a to-go box at the world famous Red Iguana in Salt Lake. Let me repeat that: a TO-GO box. That indicates there were leftovers... enough leftovers to take home. What the what?
  • Monday. Independence day. A day of celebration and patriotism. A day of eating. A day of shock and disappointment. I was generously invited to a delicious barbecue with some close friends. Of course, I loaded my plate with both a hamburger and a hot dog to save myself the trouble of going back for seconds, which was inevitable. I don’t need to appear healthier by eating small portions multiple times. I am who I am and that is a one plate man… a one large plate man. I couldn’t finish my hot dog. I’m sorry uncle Sam.
  • Yesterday, I went to the grocery store hungry. When I go to the grocery store full, I spend around $50. Hungry? Call the bank, I need a loan. As I perused every last aisle of that safe haven from the storms of life, I noticed my cart inexplicably empty. I left the store with a bill of $12. Twelve. Dollars. Granted, I was pounding an ice cream cone as I shopped, but still.

Leftover food. Empty shopping carts. These have to be symptoms of some sort of disease.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Deep Thoughts

...these muffins sure are good I’m glad I brought them to work do you think anyone will notice me take a third muffin ahh, who cares they are my muffins and I’m going to eat however many I wa- What’s that noise?

(stand up and examine the media center like a cautious deer; head quickly twitching in the direction of any sound)

...seriously where is that noise coming from is it too early to eat my sandwich don't touch the sandwich dummy you won't have anything to eat for lunch there's that noise again it sounds like somebo- Are you kidding me?

(chubby janitor has the entire upper half of his body pressed against the metal guard on one of our large fans whispering lines from Star Wars into the spinning blades)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

All I Can Eat

The words “all you can eat” have always presented themselves as a personal challenge. I used to take offense at the implication that a single restaurant, or food service facility, could possibly expect to offer all that I can eat. As I sit 3 feet away from my computer with my stomach still touching the edge of my desk, I am beginning to understand the real implications of those 4 sinister words.

Let us dissect the meaning of the hellish phrase that has so recently caused me an abnormal amount of physical pain. The trouble with this phrase lays in the word “all.” What is this “all” that is being referenced? Does it refer to an infinite variety? The latest culprit of my extremely upset stomach calls itself the “Golden Corral.” This endless feeding trough did indeed have “all” the variety I could have desired. As I grazed along this golden showcase among a herd of angry cattle, I found myself placing tacos next to pizza, ribs on top of my orange chicken, and sprinkling my plate with a layer of popcorn shrimp. Surely this was “all” the variety that I could eat. Even though each of my four stomach compartments was full with a different type of food, I have come to the conclusion that variety is not the “all” that is so blatantly promised.

Perhaps “all” simply implies that of whatever food may be in the restaurant, one has permission to eat. Among the many items being offered, of all of them you may partake. Do they change the sign on Tuesdays to say “Only chicken you can eat?” Or perhaps by Sunday afternoon “Leftovers you can eat?” Though I admit the possibility of Wednesday being the only unrestricted “all” day of the week, I saw no signs of limited eating in the days to come.

Yes, “all” must be directly correlated to quantity. This raises the question: how much can I eat? I have learned over the years: too much. Every time in my life that I have been dared to pay a fee in order to eat all that I can, I have left the challenge less of a man. Today was no exception. The first 4 plates were a simple exploration of options to see what this corral of precious gold had to offer. Plates 5-6 were dedicated solely to those options found most enjoyable. I refer to these plates as the “All-star round.” As I entered the all-star round at the Golden Corral, I noticed something: what little self respect I had left seemed to be moving its way into my stomach to force the removal of plates 1 through 4 by whatever means necessary.

As I strain to breathe by wheezing loudly due to the intense pressure forced on my lungs by an enlarged stomach, I finally understand that the world has already seen all that I can eat. I will no longer be lured in by those cunning b*****s (buffets). I will let others determine how much I can and should eat through Texas Sized Combos of ribs and steak, or extra large value meals. When left to my own devices at a buffet, I will overindulge in a masochistic desire to prove how much I can eat. From now on, I will let the professionals like Ronald McDonald, Wendy, and the King of Burgers tell me how much to eat, and I will be a better man for it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baby Face

So often, the youth of today go to great lengths to appear older than they are. With age come certain benefits: alcohol, STD’s, unwanted pregnancies... the list goes on. To control and restrain this desire to mature more quickly than is natural, society has placed limits to one’s activities based on the age of the participant. Though necessary in many circumstances, I have found these restrictions to be a nuisance in my life, and often times humiliating.

My entire life has been plagued with people voluntarily sharing with me how old they thought I was. Why anyone in their right mind would guess another’s age, I do not know, but they loved to guess mine. I can only be grateful they never tried to guess my weight.

At 18, I was asked to leave the Emergency Exit Row on an airplane because you have to be 15 or older to sit there. Up until I turned 14, I was repeatedly given the kids menu at restaurants that said brightly on the top “9 and under.” I kept the crayons.

After a few years without embarrassment, I slowly began to forget these traumatic experiences and move on with my adult life. This last week, I was on board a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. In an attempt at exploration, we ventured into the 18+ dance club. A grumpy looking Indonesian security guard stood at the door. Colton walked right by him into the abandoned club. As I was halfway through the door, he stopped me. In broken English he explained that I had to be 18 to enter. In loud and exaggerated English, I explained that I was 24. He laughed and told me I could not get in without an ID. As I walked away through 4 bars and a Casino without being checked, I felt like I was 16 again back at Red Robin coloring in my menu before ordering Chick-Chick-Chicken fingers and a freckled lemonade.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Day I Became a Man

This weekend, I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Shelley Idaho. Shelley is a rural community just outside of the slightly larger, self proclaimed city of Idaho Falls. My Idaho born tour guide Colton promised some authentic eastern Idaho fun in the form of 4-wheeling, a wiener dog named King Richard, and some cattle castration. I put this last activity out of my mind deciding to cross that bridge when I got there.

After being graciously welcomed by our hosts, I was informed that the castrations would begin promptly at 1pm the following afternoon. I thought about what that would entail and decided to push it out of my mind yet again. 4-wheeling came and went; little Richard took a nap on my lap; lunch was eaten, and the time finally came to face the reality of what lay so closely ahead. As we neared the small farm that played host to a large heard of infertile cattle, the idea of what I was supposed to accomplish began to set in. To put it lightly: I was a little nervous.

You want me to do what?

When the procedure was explained to me, I listened wide eyed and nauseous. I quickly found myself lost in the task at hand and even happening upon moments of enjoyment. The cattle were rounded into a small corral and the calves were separated from the adults. This is where the fun began. We herded the young animals into a corner. A rope was thrown around a back leg of one of the males and we wrestled it to the ground. With someone holding the legs and someone holding the front half of the soon to be emasculated animal, our demonstration began. After a whirlwind of "I'm supposed to do what?" and "You want me to grab it where?", I looked down into my outstretched hand to find myself holding a severed testicle. 3 minutes later that same hand was holding a knife: my turn.

Less than twenty minutes after I entered the corral, I was washing blood off my hands feeling like I could take on the world. Covered in dirt and manure, I became a man. That little calf became a premature steak, but I became a man.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

but seriously...

Problem #1: I’m working in a very quiet computer lab and miss whitey over here is flirting with a Japanese guy. There’s nothing wrong with a little yellow fever, but she’s loud and she’s talking about how sushi makes her vomit.

Problem #2: I’m hungry again.

Problem #3: I’m trying to raise money for the American Cancer Society. It’s for my cousin who died of Pancreatic Cancer. The problem is that I’m poor and so are all of my friends.

Got any extra pennies?