Monday, June 29, 2009

Brennan vs. my sandwich OR Sandwiches aren't just for eating anymore

We were having sandwiches for lunch the other day. I had taken a few bites and was as happy as a man can be. Until my brother Brennan started trying to punch my sandwich.

That’s right. He starts punching my sandwich like he is Rocky Balboa and my cold cut combo is Apollo Creed.

My initial response to this was: “What the heck is wrong with you?”

“No, man,” he said calmly. “It’s The Sandwich Punch Game.”

“OH! ‘The Sandwich Punching Game.’ I must have forgotten. You’re adopted. Or I am. One way or another I refuse to admit that we share genes.”

“It’s ‘The Sandwich Punch Game,’ and seriously, there are rules. And a website. You should know about this type of stuff.”

“You’re right. Lunch violence is what’s hot right now, isn’t it? I really ought to keep up.”

Brennan is unemployed and is trying to make the best of our nation’s current economic crisis by using his free time to conduct research on how many ridiculous things can be found on the internet. His recent “discoveries” include a headbanging cockatiel, Taylor Swift rapping and, of course, a game about punching sandwiches.

But it’s all true. He showed me the sandwich punching site and, sure enough, there is a ridiculously detailed and complete set of rules, official Sandwich Punch Game seal and a Sandwich Punching Hall of Fame. There’s even a Power Point presentation on how sandwich punching should be done, a "Sandwich Punching for Dummies", if you will.

It boils down to this: once you bite into a sandwich it becomes “punchable,” and as soon as you set it down you have to cover it with something (napkin, bottle cap) or else people can punch it. There are a bunch of other stipulations and clauses (they even have a provision for “Acts of God”) but that is basically the gist of it.

When Brennan introduced “The Sandwich Punch Game” into our family it was freaking havoc. It started riots instantly and sandwiches weren’t the only things getting punched. Suddenly, my brother Quinn (age 9) was yelling, “Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom! Trevor punched my sandwich!”

And my other brother, Trevor (age 12), was yelling back, “He took a bite and left it uncovered. What was I supposed to do? I had to punch it. You would have done the same thing if you were in my position.”

While Trevor was complaining my mom punched his sandwich.

I think it would be awesome to let Brennan loose at a huge picnic or a Subway restaurant just to watch him lay waste to everyone’s sandwiches. That is the funniest thing I can imagine.

I picture him running through some park like a sandwich punching warrior, leaving a trail of eviscerated sandwiches in his wake and yelling, “Ha ha! SPG, sucka! You better cover that sandwich next time! SPG, baby!”

But he tells me that you can’t punch a person’s sandwich who is not aware of The Sandwich Punch Game rules. Apparently there is also a Sandwich Punching Code of Ethics, too.

That's good, because there is nothing worse than an unethical sandwich puncher.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shopping for meat? OR Shopping cart sanitation is no laughing matter

I went grocery shopping earlier and had some serious problems with my shopping cart. In my mind I started relating my crappy cart to crappy relationships, which I’m sure a lot of shoppers do.

Relationships and grocery carts. It makes total sense.

I got a cart (or “buggy,” for those of you from the south) and started loading it up with groceries. For whatever reason, after I had loaded it with a bunch of groceries it started making a horrible thumping noise that got progressively louder. Upon closer inspection I realized that one of the wheels was all mangled and that it would never roll properly again. I would either have to take it back and get a different cart or limp noisily along with the one I had.

The trouble was I had already loaded a bunch of groceries into my current cart, and if I wanted another cart I’d have to go all the way back to the front of the store and find a better one. And then I would have to unload all of my stuff from the old cart and put it into the new one.

So I clattered loudly down the grocery aisles. People gave me annoyed and amused looks as I banged and rattled past. I just didn’t have the mental energy to search for a better cart, unload all my groceries and load them back into a new cart.

Before all of this happened, I had read a scientific shopping cart study (because I have nothing better to do) and apparently two-thirds of shopping carts are contaminated with fecal bacteria (that’s poop) and have more bacteria than the average public restroom. Fantastic.

Basically a good shopping cart is hard to find, and the obvious relationship comparison is a good girlfriend or boyfriend is also very hard to find.

So you grab what you can. Sometimes you just plod along with somebody, but you’re not really feeling it and you half wish they would give you an excuse to break up with them, like cheat on you or call your mom an awful name or something. Maybe he/she will break up with me, you think. What a relief that would be.

But you stick it out because you’ve already put a bunch of effort into it and you don’t feel like starting all over again and putting a bunch more effort into something else. So you squeak and grind along. Or maybe I’m the only one that has done that.

Love and grocery stores often go together. In his younger days, my brother Brennan was at the grocery store in the meat department when he saw quite possibly the hottest girl he had ever laid eyes on at that point in his life. Since he’s not one to let an opportunity pass, Brennan quickly tried to strike up a conversation with her, but all he could come up with was, “Are you shopping for meat?” which is pretty smooth.

Sometimes dating feels exactly like shopping for meat. You’ve got to look at something and decide if it’s worth investing in and ask yourself a bunch of questions. Is it expired? How fatty is it? Can I afford it? Will I get diseases from it if I don’t handle it properly? And when people are looking at you they are asking themselves the very same questions.

Incidentally, Brennan became a vegetarian a few years after the “shopping for meat” incident, and I can’t say I blame him.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Summer of '09 OR My new office is quite possibly a grave for my younger self and all of his accompanying good times

I just started my first “real job” outside of college. On my first day I was cool and collected. I was keeping it all together until the secretary showed me to my office.

I have an office!

I looked around the office at my desk, my computer, my stapler, and promptly began to freak out because of what it all symbolized.

This is it, I thought. This office is the mausoleum where my young self has come to die. The good times are officially over.

I hope all that is not true, but I fear it is. I’m gonna spend the Summer of 2009 working like a dog.

I thought back to the Summer of 2007, arguably one of the best summers I have ever had. That summer I lived in Idaho with my two friends Shane and Kyle and we didn’t have a care in the world, or at least I didn’t.

We watched all five seasons of Alias. Jennifer Garner in a bunch of weird costumes = AWESOME SUMMER.

We also went hiking and to tons of shows. We played a grip of Mario Kart and ate approximately one metric ton of Oreos. We did everything.

The crowning event happened at the end of the summer. We were all sitting in our living room at one in the morning. Somebody decided that we should go camping, I don’t remember who anymore. I was hesitant at first, but I knew that Kyle was getting married in a week and I knew our time to do fun things was limited so I agreed.

We knew it was too late to go to a real campsite, so we loaded our “camping gear” into somebody’s car and drove all over town looking for a park to sleep in. Unfortunately, the sprinklers were on in every single park we went to, making them soggy, unsuitable camping grounds. Somebody spotted a little church with a perfectly dry, usable lawn and we settled down there for the night.

About one minute before 6 a.m., while we were all sleeping peacefully, the sprinklers came on. There was much shouting and much swearing and the three of us were up and trying to escape. Kyle and Shane were in blankets and easily jumped up and found refuge on the sidewalk.

I, on the other hand, was zipped up in a sleeping bag. I was so frantic and half asleep that I pretty much exploded out of the sleeping bag like some alien parasite bursting out of its human host, ripping out the zipper and losing the basketball shorts I had been sleeping in in the process. I quickly picked up what was left of my sleeping bag and shorts and tried to run off the lawn in my underwear, only the grass was super wet and I slipped and fell flat on my face and got covered in grass.

Kyle and Shane were doubled over and laughing hysterically, and once I was safely off the grass I started laughing too. We laughed the whole way home.

There are a million stories like that, but now all of my friends are married and live in different states and I've just started out on a burn-your-life-out career path. I'm still clinging for dear life to the hope that I still have a few more good times coming, though.

Anyone feel like camping? I have better basketball shorts now and I know a couple of real campsites.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Vegan in the free world OR What's so funny 'bout peas, love and understanding?

Does anybody know what is really is healthy for human beings to eat? Scientists and dietitians are always doing studies that contradict each other. Nobody can decide exactly how they feel about anything.

Take eggs. Try and figure out if eggs are good or bad for you. I dare you! For every pro-egg “Eggs Are Nutritious” article there is an “Eggs Contain Fatal Amounts Of Cholesterol” diatribe. “Eat eggs, eggs are the worst food ever, platypus eggs are ok.” I don’t know what to believe. I let these eggs into my refrigerator by the dozen and they can’t even be straight with me.

It’s all so confusing. Like with fat, there is the saturated and unsaturated kind, and within those categories are polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. There’s even a third type of fat, which is called “trans” fat. This type of fat started out as man fat but then had an operation and took hormones and became woman fat, and that’s bad for you.

I think the main problem is there is too much money to be made on diet products and trendy health foods for anyone to reveal what is actually good for people. If the scientists ever did come to an agreement, food and diet companies would never let the word get out because it would ruin all their profits.

This brings us to organic food. Is it good or bad? I have the definitive answer: no one knows. Some say it is a scam, some say that eating organic food can prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s and birth defects.

Sometimes I wonder if organic food was invented by rich people who had run out of things to spend their money on. Now they have their own class of food that is triply expensive. Poor people can’t afford it, and the people who can are able to look down on other people who don’t eat it, like, “Enjoying those pesticides, are you?”

Which brings me to other food snobs, namely vegetarians and vegans. I’m not saying that being vegan is super trendy, but I will say that you are more likely to be vegan if you are in your 20s, white, middle-class, in college and listen to indie or punk music.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of little cows and chickens getting killed to make my food, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t crave a Number 7 every now and again. All that fat just hits the fat receptors in my brain and I just don’t worry about it anymore.

Don’t act so smug, though. I doubt soy beans get anesthetized before they get ground up to make your meatless burger! Vegetables are living things, too, you know! Like when you eat a pea pod it is like eating a little family. A whole sibling group wiped out just so that you can feel holier-than-thou.

If scientists could make chicken nuggets out of something other than chicken, I’d be all over it. If they could make tofu taste like hamburger or bacon, I’d buy a lifetime supply. The fact of the matter is they cannot. I’d rather find a slice of boiled, buttered, battered human intestine in my hot dog bun than one of those tofu dogs.

And tofu is made of soy, another food that people can’t decide whether to love or to hate. Somebody told me that it acts like estrogen when it enters your bloodstream. That is the last thing I need.

As for me, I only eat things that have died of natural causes.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Envision my mom OR Mother and child reunion

I’ve been home for a few weeks and I found out that some of my family and friends have been reading my blog. Mostly they like it, but my mom is horrified.

“This is terrible!” she fretted. “They’re gonna read it and think that I raised you wrong.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“‘Binge drinking is awesome?’ Morbidly obese zebras?” she replied. “I didn’t teach you that stuff, but they’re going to think I did. Really you just went wrong on your own and I didn’t have a thing to do with it.”

Hmmmm. I didn’t think any of that stuff was that offensive. I know my mom reads my blog, so I keep that in mind when I write it. I really try to make it mom-friendly. Imagine what my blog would be like without my mom! It would be full of profanities and sexual promiscuities and racial epithets. Ok, not really, but I think it’s good that she reads them because it kind of keeps me in check. It doesn’t let me get too out of control.

But I guess I haven’t been doing a good enough job and I need to get a better mom filter.

So, for the record, when I am getting degrees and being polite, my parents taught me that. When I am writing blogs about ovaries and zebras, that’s all me. So don’t blame my parents.

This kind of reminds me of when I was young and I would do something annoying, silly or destructive and my mom would say, “You’re definitely your father’s son.”

And I would think, “Who else’s son would I be? Unless there’s something you’ve neglected to tell me! Was this fact in question until now?”

But then whenever I would do something smart or clever she’d say, “That’s my boy! You get that from me.”

On the other hand, my dad never really cared who taught me what. He was just happy when I did something right. He’d say, “Wow, that was pretty smart! I’m surprised. I had assumed from your track record that you would be doing something stupid. I guess every once in a while you’ve got to mix things up and do something intelligent, is that it?”

My dad used to get frustrated when I would do stupid things, but I did stupid things so much he just started to laugh about it. Like, one time I wrecked the car (“wrecked” is not quite the right word, more like “a small crash into a small ditch”) and I called him on the phone to tell him and he just laughed and laughed.

But like I’ve said, parenting is a rough job, and after eight kids my parents are just hollow shells. Laughing is all they can really do.

Anyway, if you see my mom on the street, please tell her what a nice young man I am.

Lie if you have to.

PS – After all the stuff I write my mom said she wonders what the people who read my blog think she’s like, so feel free to leave a comment describing how you envision her.