Monday, March 29, 2010

This blog starts out with me complaining about dating (no real surprise there) and ends with me lying face down on an operating table

There were times in the past when dating sucked so bad that I thought to myself, “I am just going to marry any old raggedy trainwreck of a woman who is agreeable, just so I don't have to date anymore.” That's right, I was going to settle!

Fortunately, the right woman came along, I realized it and convinced her to marry me. The good news is I don't have to settle after all, the bad news is I have to plan a wedding.

I'm excited for the marriage, just not the wedding, see? Really I'm not too worried because there is really no pressure on me as the groom. Don't get me wrong, I do my part, but if the wedding ends up looking unbeautiful or unglamorous, no one is really looking at me. My friends and family won't show up and say stuff like, “Look at these awful colors and decorations! I don't know what he was thinking.”

It's true, it's true. The bride gets all the credit and/or all the blame. And while the most of the decisions, responsibility and freaking out fall to the bride, the groom has the extremely crucial but oft-overlooked duty of keeping the bride from falling to pieces.

A groom must be steady, sensitive and have a large supply of Kleenex on hand at all times. In these responsibilities he must never falter, and truth be told planning a wedding is a little stressful, even for a groom.

Which brings me to pimples. My acne level always spikes during important events in my life. Stress causes me to break out, and my forehead could serve as a big shiny indicator of my stress level. Thus, the closer we get to the wedding, the more zits show up for the services.

I had always imagined that by the time I was 28 my skin would be really clear, but I had also imagined that by the time I was 28 life would be a lot less complicated. So much for all of that.

I figured I better take care of my growing acne problem before the wedding because at weddings they take approximately 4,000,000 pictures and I didn't want to be extremely pimply in every one of them. I didn't want my grandkids to look at our wedding pictures and say, “Grandpa, what was wrong with your face?” That sounds vain, but, unlike my fiancee, I won't have an army corp of best friends putting makeup on me the day of the wedding.

So I went to the dermatologist and he prescribed me some meds. While I was in there I asked him to look at a mark on my shoulder. He did so and announced that I had a spot of skin cancer and he would gladly cut it out for me.

Before he could start cutting he had to numb the area and pretty soon he was coming at me with a large syringe filled with local anesthetic. Most doctors say some rubbish like, “This might pinch a little,” or “You're going to feel a little 'pressure.'” I love my dermatologist because he told me, “This is going to hurt, and there's just no getting around that.”

And it did hurt. Oh man, did it ever. In comparison, planning a wedding isn't so bad.

Does anyone have any wedding plan tips for me? Groom secrets?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Three things you should never say in the work place (Not about sexual harassment)

In the English language there are a lot of things you have to be careful about saying, like “I love you,” or “I do.” You have to think long and hard before you use these, but they aren’t the scariest things you could say, especially in the workplace. Here are the top three things you should never say at work.

The first is “Anytime,” which turns a grateful person into an entitled person. I recently did a favor for a co-worker. He said he was really behind and could I just take care of this one thing for him. It was such a sad, pitiful story. I cried a little and agreed to do it. Once the task was done he thanked me enthusiastically. I carelessly said, “Anytime,” not thinking of the possible repercussions. There are always repercussions.

After I let “Anytime” slip this co-worker started coming around on a regular basis, asking for more and more favors. “I know it’s a lot,” he said, “but you said ‘anytime’, right?” He really said that!

How could I respond to that? It was true, I had said it, but now I wanted to say, “‘Anytime’ is just an expression, like saying ‘You’re welcome’ but less formally. Like ‘no problem’ or ‘de nada.’ I didn’t really mean that any time you have something you don’t want to do that I will do it. I thought everyone knew that. I’m sorry you had to hear it from me.”

One thing I’ve learned from my foray into adult career-hood is that if you are caught up on your own work you will inevitably be saddled with someone else’s. Around here hard work is punished, not rewarded. I suspect my “Anytime” friend has already figured that out and knows how to work the system. Why work hard when it will only get you more work to do? Better to do just enough to not get fired. Genius!

The second statement you have to be careful about is, “How’s it going?” It is generally used as a polite greeting. The proper response is, “Well,” but not everyone knows that. I have a co-worker who thinks that when I say, “How’s it going?” as I pass her in the hall it means, “Tell me your life story.” I’ve even tried switching up my greeting, using “Hello” or “Good morning” but I always get the life story. Now I just hide in the mail room when I see her coming and wait until she passes.

The third and trickiest set of words is “I’ll get back to you” and “I’ll look into that.” If you do not actually get back to someone, or you do not actually look into something, these words will brand you as a flake, unless you are a supervisor. If anyone asks a question or voices a concern, a supervisor can say, “I'll look into that,” which is essentially saying, “Trouble me not with these trifling matters, subordinate.”

Along with books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Good to Great, I suspect a lot of managers also read a management book called Shutting Your Employees Up By Telling Them What They Want To Hear With No Intention Of Ever Following Through.

I don’t know for sure, though, so I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Are there other things you shouldn't say at work that I have failed to mention?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saint Patrick kills snakes OR Green is the color of your energy

Saint Patrick's Day is this week and I don't even know what Saint Patrick's Day is supposed to be celebrating. The color green? Cabbage? Ireland? Guinness?

Other holidays are pretty straightforward. Valentine's Day celebrates love, Easter celebrates eggs, Halloween celebrates candy and Christmas celebrates buying stuff.

So what does Saint Patrick's Day celebrate? I looked up some Patrician info and was shocked and scandalized by what I found.

First of all, Saint Patrick wasn't even Irish, nor was his name Patrick. His real name is “Maewyn Succat” and he lived in Britain and spoke Welsh. How confusing is that? When he was 16 he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. Maewyn eventually escaped, returned to Britain and became a priest. Once he had waxed clergical he changed his name to Patrick, kind of like when Malcolm Little became Malcolm X or when Cat Stevens became Yusuf Islam.

The newly re-christened Patrick returned to Ireland and spent the rest of his life trying to teach Irish pagans about Christianity. For this Saint Patrick got his own day, even though he wasn't a martyr like fellow holiday saint Valentine.

I had also heard that Saint Patrick had rid Ireland of snakes. Supposedly he stood on a hill and used a staff to herd all of Ireland's snakes into the sea like some kind of corned-beef-and-cabbage-eating pied piper. This makes Saint Patrick a very controversial figure indeed because he single-handedly perpetrated a country-wide reptilicide. I'm sure that any day now PETA will start protesting Saint Patrick's Day with a gimmicky campaign of attractive women draped in snakes holding signs that say “Saint Patrick is unlucky for snakes” or “Saint Patrick is a flake spake the snake.”

The most scandalous thing I learned is that Saint Patrick was originally associated with blue and not green. Say it ain't so! There's even a shade of blue called “Saint Patrick's Blue.” What happened was Saint Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaf clover, to explain the Christian concept of the Trinity to the Irish people. I suppose the greenness of the clover and the greenness of Ireland itself eventually ousted the traditional blue. So it goes. Being a holiday color is a cutthroat business.

I wonder if saint Patrick would be annoyed if he knew that his day has devolved into wearing green and drinking copious amounts of beer in hokey places named “O'Hara's.” He's rolling over in his grave thinking, “I preached my little heart out and all they can think about is beer. That's just great.”

All I'm saying is that we really need to give Saint Patrick more credit. Teaching polytheistic Irish pagans of old was probably a tough job. I imagine it went like this:

Saint Patrick: Hey Frank. You should join my church and become a Christian.

Pagan: Are you Mormon or something? Just give me your book and leave me alone. Can't you see I'm happily Pagan?

Saint Patrick: But our God is like this clover, see?

Pagan: Yeah, but we have a bunch of gods. And Stonehenge. What have you got?

Saint Patrick: Um, the Pope?

Pagan: Ha! Sacrifice some virgins and then we'll talk. Meanwhile, take your snakes and get out of here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Now you sea me, now you don't OR Monster sea, monster do

I was trying to think of a blog topic for this week but over the weekend a topic found me. I was driving along, minding my own business, when I drove right smack into a sea monster.

Sea monsters are not indigenous to the greater Albuquerque metropolitan area but I saw one just the same. It was late at night and my fiancee and I were driving in a part of town we don't usually frequent. It was very dark and I saw the spiny coils of the monster rising in the distance. As we drove closer I determined that it was actually a statue of a sea monster, a very accurate representation. It really captured the essence of what a sea monster is all about, which is menacing ships, eating sailors, etc. It was an awesome sight to behold.

However, as I was beholding, I drove right into the curb. It felt like I had just run over a medium-sized rhinoceros, but I kept driving and my tire ran out of air shortly thereafter.

Luckily the tire waited to deflate until we were in the sketchiest possible part of town. We limped to a stop at the seediest hotel I have ever seen. I was scared but I had to put on a brave face for my fiancee and got out and started changing the flat. I soon found out that the place that had put my tires on had cross-threaded two of the lugnuts, which promptly snapped off as I strained to get them loose. Since my fiancee was with me I had to try and do all this with minimal profanity, which slowed down the process immensely.

A pimp and a crack dealer sauntered over and offered to help but by that time I had the surviving two bolts on the spare. We drove off into the night, hoping the tire didn't fall off.

The next morning I had to take my car to the tire store and explain to the tire salesman why I needed a new tire.

Tire salesman: So you were looking at a sea monster and you-

Me: Statue. Sea monster statue.

Tire salesman: Right. So you were looking at a sea monster statue and hit a curb?

Me: Correct.

Tire salesman: I think you're crazy but I'd like to take your money.

The challenge with buying anything these days is not getting sold tons of extra stuff. The tire salesman wanted to sell me four new aluminum rims, so I had to remind him that I actually just needed one tire and zero rims, thank you very much.

There was also a happy alcoholic next to me and he was asking his tire salesman how long it would be until his car was finished because he had a 15 pack of beer he wanted to get home to.

“I love the 15 pack. They just invented it,” he said. “It has three more beers than a 12 pack. It's AWESOME.”

Then the happy alcoholic seemed to realize he had been a mite too enthusiastic.

“It usually takes me a week or so to get through one of those,” he said. “It depends on the week, though. Some weeks require more beer than others.”

His tire salesman looked like he could use a beer himself. He cheered up quickly because apparently the happy alcoholic had already broken into the 15 pack and was only too willing to buy 4 brand new aluminum rims

Which goes to show that every cloud has a silver lining. And every sea monster.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hands free is the way to be OR Wave 'em like you just don't care

I know I say this about every other week but the good times are officially over! Wanna know how I know? Because I just bought a “hands free” device for my cell phone. Good times = SO OVER.

Everyone knows that only annoying, self-important adults use hands free devices, but I didn't know what else to do! It's illegal to talk on your cell phone while driving where I live and I spend a ridiculous amount of my time commuting. And then once I get to work I usually jump in a company car and drive around for a good portion of the day. Sometimes I have to talk on the phone while I'm driving. I really feel like I didn't have much of a choice in the matter.

Sherman Alexie said white people invented commuting, and if that's true then I am ashamed. I guess white people also invented atomic weapons, “American Idol” and disco, so I shouldn't be surprised. I think white people invented suburbs, so it follows logically that they invented commuting.

Believe me when I say that if I ever figure out exactly which white person invented commuting, they are getting punched in the face, no questions asked. I don't know who it is, but they probably live in Portland, work at Starbucks and drive a Subaru with lots of bumper stickers, so they’ll be easy to find. Perhaps I will run into them at an ugly sweater party or a Vampire Weekend concert.

But don't worry, I didn't get a Bluetooth or anything. I have a long history of talking trash on Bluetooth users dating back to the first time I saw a man having a really animated conversation with himself and decided he was having a psychotic break. I couldn’t very well go out and buy a Bluetooth, now could I? It would severely tarnish my reputation and smudge my self respect.

While looking at other hands free options I saw a little device called a “Jawbone.” Who is naming these things anyway? They sound like World of Warcraft avatars or fantasy novel characters, like “Jawbone the Warrior” or “Bluetooth the Mage.”

I am not an authority of hands free devices, nor am I an authority on being cool. However, I do not believe that hands free devices are cool, and if you think you look cool you need to stop and take a good hard look at yourself. I do believe that hands free devices are permissible inside of a car and maybe an office but nowhere else. Ever. Here are some examples:

Bluetooth at a restaurant = hands free faux pas
Bluetooth in the store = hands free faux pas
Bluetooth in church = hands free faux pas
Bluetooth while using a urinal in a public restroom = hands free faux pas

Basically, a hands free faux pas is any situation where other people who are not part of your conversation are forced to hear your conversation.

Having said all of that, I still bought one. It was only $9, it plugs into my phone and I never use it outside of the car. I promise! What frightens me is: if I'm buying a hands free telephone device, what's to stop me from getting other adult items like a child, an unhappy marriage or a car payment I can't afford? The frail threads to my disappearing youth are steadily being severed one by one and I don't know how I-

Gotta go, I have to take this call.