Sunday, October 31, 2010

Four-way stops

Four way stops have been around for a while, yet they still confuse even the most experienced driver. Since I am an expert four-way stopper, allow me to share with you the laws, rules, and general conventions that should be followed:

1. If you are the first person to arrive at the four-way stop, you get to go first. You are not allowed to arrive a full five seconds before me, then try to wave me through after I have come to a complete stop and waited expectantly for you. In addition, you should not expect a thank you for your "kindness".

2. If we arrive at the four-way stop at the same time, the right-of-way goes automatically to the person who is less confused. If you are trying to figure out that "right hand" rule, you definitely cede the right-of-way.

3. If you are a pedestrian crossing at a four-way stop, you are only allowed a "reasonable" amount of time to cross. Exceptions for people with a cane or a stroller. If you saunter across and are still in the road after I have waited a "reasonable" amount of time, I am then allowed to run you over and not feel bad.

4. I, and only I, will determine how long "reasonable" is.

5. If a traffic light is out, which by law automatically turns the intersection into a four-way parking lot, it is okay for more than one car to go through at a time.

6. It is not okay for more than two cars to go through--everyone else will hate you.

7. If you are a pedestrian crossing in front of me while I am waiting to make a right or left turn, and if you then want to cross the road onto which I would like to turn, you owe me a dozen Krispy Kreme fresh-out-of-the-oven glazed donuts.

8. If you are a pedestrian crossing at a four-way-stop, under no circumstance are you to stop and talk to a friend. I once was stopped waiting for two pedestrians going opposite directions, when they recognized each other, hugged a big hug, did a 360 while embraced, then went their separate ways. This rule applies to them.

9. Sometimes our cars will end up doing the four-way tango. This is when you pretend you are going, then stop because you see I am going. Then I stop because I see you are going, ad infinitum. When this happens, our cars should kiss and ride off into the sunset together.

Friday, October 29, 2010

alarm clocks

The thing I like most about alarm clocks is probably their sound.

There's nothing quite like floating around on a sea of marshmallows as every woman who has ever rejected you comes up to apologize for not recognizing you for the ruggedly-attractive billionaire you were destined to be, cry and beg you to take them and their miserable self back, and be interrupted by what could best be described as the blast of a Soviet-era1 air raid alarm system.

This is tragic, because normally you have to concoct that sort of experience via a fake dream, aka, daydream, while you should be listening during church. Seeing it while asleep makes it appear so much more real. Especially the part where you get to turn them down because of your extremely good fortune in dating a famous singer/model/business executive/all of the above and take that suckas!

However, in reality, you are really just listening to the hellish electronic buzz some sadistic designer once designated was the noise to make people excited about the day, for reasons that are likely only understood whilst being paddled by an inebriated porcupine. I don't know what exactly prohibited the original alarm clock manufacturer from coming up with another sound, say, like, peaceful rubber duckies, or distant fog horns, or even Jennifer Aniston repeatedly proclaiming her undying fealty to you. Instead I'm stuck listening to the incessant bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

If you do have one of those alarm clocks designed by the very denizens of the dark kingdom, let me suggest you place it on the opposite side of the room from the bunk you share with your college roommate. And then you could maybe set it for 5:30 AM. And then you could maybe let it ring.

Every. Morning. For. Ten. Minutes.

And, instead of silencing it and getting up, hit the snooze.

Again.

And again.

Nope, your roommate doesn't hate you to this day and uncontrollably twitch at the memory of that pitiful existence back in the spring of 2003. No he does not.

Of course, my favorite alarm clock belonged to my old roommate Scott.2 It chirped up in an oddly mechanical Spanish voice to give us the time every morning.3 Pretty cool. Less cool when you hear its English equivalent six years later emanating from somewhere within your empty house; your roommate having left it on while out of town.

I think it took me three days of walking around with a baseball bat and permanently-wet pants looking for an autistic female robot intruder obsessed with randomly taunting me with the time before realizing what had happened.

Speaking of menacing people with baseball bats, I would like to here apologize for my participation in a near-lynching when, on the first evening of sharing a room with three other men for two months, one dude pulled out an old school double-bell alarm clock, and began winding it up. I can't really describe in full detail what happened next, as the room suddenly tinted red, but three large missionaries (hypocritically self-proclaimed charitable servants) converged on this poor man and made it plainly evident that his life would be forfeit if that clock made one solitary tick.4 He quickly put it away.

In summary, God bless the man who invented the cell phone alarm and its cacophony of soothing sounds.

1. Now, might I suggest, the next time you're about to refer to something as 'Soviet-era' in order to denigrate it, you contemplate who, exactly, you are speaking to. For example: if you are speaking to your Russian co-worker, you might consider the use of another pejorative descriptor, lest she find that deeply insulting, and then start making references to dumb fat Americans with their baseball caps and chewing gum. Just a tip.
2. Easily one of the best roommates of all time. Realizing I loved Adam Smith and Laisseiz-faire Economics, he posted a picture of Karl Marx on our wall for the entire two years we spent together, refusing to take it down. Hilarious to this day.
3. He foolishly gave it away to a woman as she departed on a church mission. I correctly predicted that, just like my favorite hat I believe I once bequeathed a former lover, it would never be returned.
4. I can plainly recall the look of fear we instilled in him. It is the same look my co-worker Sam had on her face when she came into the office around midnight during our work up to the elections of 2006. I excitedly began to tell her how I had recently just hallucinated hearing her and our other co-workers emerging from the fire escape. She made me go home.

Friday, October 22, 2010

buying a car

There are many considerations one must keep in mind when trying to determine which car to purchase. Cars are complicated pieces of machinery, and can easily determine many facets of your life: your expenses, your mobility, and your marital status.1

With that in mind, let me impart to you some wisdom as you attempt to purchase your next vehicle.

First, decide if you will purchase a new or used car. Buying a new car will cause every practical woman you meet to instantly judge you as being bad with money. Buying a used car will prevent you from getting dates with shallow, if not super attractive, women. Choose wisely.

Next, decide what type of car to go for. Many men, having aged poorly over the past twenty-eight years, are tempted to buy an automobile that women think is "cute". Something like a Mini Cooper. Or a Red VW New Beetle.

Furthermore, some men, and I would like to stress that I am speaking purely from intelligence I have gathered from other people, go to the trouble of acquiring a Red VW New Beetle, then driving around with the plastic flower placed in the faux vase on the dashboard, thinking that this sort of behavior will not peg them as homosexual by every single individual they meet at college, but, contrary to what reason and experience would suggest, will somehow convince the women to date them because they are "comfortable with their masculinity".

Might I say, with the strongest sentiment that I am capable of, which sentiment I would once again like to stress was gathered via external data collection, and not by any empirical evidence of my own, nor any humiliations suffered by the young Chris Perry in his less-than-intelligent days, that men who are comfortable with their masculinity do not drive New Beetles. They drive trucks.

Which is why I would like to recommend you purchase a truck, to help compensate for any hypothetical damage done to the perception of which team you batted for during your college days.2

Purchasing a truck is a great idea because then you are able to do manly things. Like tow things. What things, I cannot say, but you could still tow them. You can also haul things. Note the use of the extra-manly verb haul, instead of the feminine verb move, which verb might be used by the type of person who drove a New Beetle, whereas the verb haul is only used by the most masculine of men.

There are a number of things you could haul. Like coal, lumber, blocks of sharp ice, military-grade explosives, and any number of things that commercials show trucks hauling. Though, most of my experience lies in hauling other people's ratty couches and Ikea furniture, mainly because that way other people don't need to rent a U-haul; they can just use the free truck.

The other great thing about trucks is that you get to look like a heel much more frequently. You can look like a weenie when you ask for gas remuneration. You can look like a jerk for hating the environment. And you can look at the floor when your cousin's roommate comes home one afternoon, and bemoans the fact that she knows nobody who drives a truck, and complains and complains to you, wishing she somehow knew somebody who drove a truck, so they could help her move her bed. Your cousin may be laughing, and your keys may be burning a hole in your pocket, but you can keep your eyes glued on the floor as you slink into the couch like a dusty amoeba.3

Trucks are also good for emasculating you when you drive up to San Francisco and your date has to help you parallel park because you have absolutely no concept of spatial awareness, which is normally manifested by the number of times you hit your head on things, and the number (3) of concussions sustained in your lifetime, but is also shown when you are approximately thirty (30) feet from any known car, and you are sweating about your ability to "cram" your truck into the space.

In summary, buying a truck is the right choice. Even if it turns out you paid fifteen thousand dollars to drive your vehicle for a grand total of six months, and are moving back to London, the land of the tube and public transit.

Let us pray they store well, and your mother doesn't mind an extra garage space going to another one of her son's sleeping automobiles.

1. I do not know a single man, who, within a year of purchasing an exotic automobile, remains unmarried.
2. Technically, it was my stepmother's car, and I remain grateful to this day that she let me drive it, especially given the Unfortunate Incident. My experience seizing up the engine in Provo canyon after having cracked the oil pan shall remain unelaborated upon today.
3. In my defense, I was busy and on my way somewhere.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

To the new neighbors upstairs

Welcome to our apartment building! It is nice to have you here.

Allow me to point out the very thin layer of wood that separates your clogs from our ears. We can hear every single step you take, allowing us to follow your precise location at any given time. Another excellent feature is the apartment layout. There are two bedrooms, so you can sleep in one and use the other as an office. That way, when one of you wants to stay up until midnight, and the other wants to get up early at 6:00 AM, you can both make plenty of noise for us. It is, after all, annoying for us to have to wait for the alarm clock to sound. And drop large heavy objects at non-random times, such as when I am just about to nod off for the night.

Please take a moment to view the lovely staircase that passes right next to our front door. That door has been sound proofed with a super thick half inch layer of balsa wood, so please come home at 1:00 AM after you have been drinking and pay no attention to how much noise you make in the hallway. We couldn't possibly hear it.

You are allowed to leave as much furniture, boxes, etc. in the front foyer as you can possibly fit, including your large dining room table and bowling bag with wheels. This will not bother us. You are also allowed to rearrange your furniture as often as you would like. Drag the bookshelves and other items along the floor as much as possible. When you buy new furniture, put it together after 10:00 PM so we can get the full effect of hammers hitting the hardwood. Then rearrange once again.

Note that on Sunday, I do not watch football, but I LOVE to hear it. So turn up your TV and cheer loudly! And invite your family and friends! Whenever there is a touch down, all of you run around the room, stomping and hooting!

One last thing: I adore animals! I am glad you brought your dog along. Let it run around outside and poop on that little area between the sidewalk and the street so I can step in it with my Sunday shoes on my way to church.

That's it! Our lease doesn't end for another nine months, so we have lots of time to spend together. Looking forward to it!

Your neighbor downstairs

Friday, October 15, 2010

An Interview


[Famous People Magazine] Tell us about yourself.

[Jeremiah] Well, I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. One thing lead to another, and now I have a wife and child.

[FPM] You are famous for your Theory of Dish Cloths. Could you describe it to us in layman terms?

[J] Sure. There are three types of cloths used in the kitchen. The first is a standard hand towel. This is used only for drying clean but wet hands. The second is a flour sack towel. This is used for drying clean but wet dishes. The third is a wash cloth. This is used for everything else. This arrangement reduces the amount of laundering needed, minimizes the unsettling feeling you get when you uses a hand towel that moments before was used to wipe up butter, and maximizes marital discord in the kitchen.

[FPM] Interesting. Tell me about butter on your hands.

[J] In our lab experiments, we found buttery layers on your hands have a half life of about five minutes under hot water, which means no matter how long you scrub, you can never remove it completely. As a rule, butter on your hands should be avoided at all costs.

[FPM] Cookies have butter, and it can get on your hands when eating. How do you reconcile this with your rule above?

[J] Cookies, and all other delicious baked goods, are official exceptions.

[FPM] How many cookies can you eat in one sitting?

[J] At least one more than are available. I can prove this by induction. Suppose I have one cookie. I can trivially eat more than one cookie, so the statement is true for n=1. Now suppose the statement is true for n cookies. That means I can eat at least n+1 cookies. Since there is always room for one more, I must be able to eat n+2 cookies. This shows the statement is true for n+1 cookies. Proof complete.

[FPM] We hear you enjoy numbers. What is your favorite number?

[J] I currently have several. One of them is 11, because it is prime and symmetric. Another is 1111, because it factors as 11 * 101, which are both prime and all symmetric. An added bonus is 11 * 101 = 1111 happens to be true in binary as well.

[FPM] Do you get out much?

[J] No.

[FPM] We also hear that you once had a Family Home Evening on the Pythagorean Theorem. Is this true?

[J] Absolutely. Megan, however, gave it mixed reviews. And by "mixed" I mean she calmly requested we never do that again. And by "requested" I mean she stated emphatically we would never do that again.

[FPM] Final question. We have always wished to be asked to contribute to The Complete Guide to Everything. How does that "happen"?

[J] You can either be blood related to the owner, or write a poem comparing Megan to numbers, or both.

helping people

As we approach the season of helpfulness, I think it's important to review some of the basics on how and when to help other people. That is, of course, not at all, and never.

Unfortunately for the Scrooges among us, it is considered "rude" to be so up front when declaring your unintention of helping. Societal norms place ridiculous demands on us as people to be "kind" to our "fellow" humans in helping them in their needs, and even more strenuous injunctions to help when our fellowman is actually doing things for our own benefit, like cooking us food.

However, in the interests of helping the invisible (helping) hand stay that way, let me provide you with the following advice:

Offer to help when it is no longer needed

This is the first and foremost way to appear to be good natured. Let's say your old roommate has invited you over to brunch. Also, let's say his pregnant wife is in the kitchen cooking so you can enfatten yourself on the fruits of her labor.1 Why don't you make jolly conversation while she slaves away, until, at the last moment, as brunch magically appears through her sweat and tears to the table, you can offer, "is there anything I can do to help you?"

The pregnant woman is placated, your old roommate thinks you have abandoned your selfish ways, and you get to eat delicious omelettes without nary an effort on your part.

In a related move, when you invite yourself over to said old roommate's house to watch a football game, the correct way to get out of paying for the pizza you made him order is to offer to pay as he is walking up to the door, credit card in hand.

Offer to help as you are walking out the door

Let us assume a hypothetical situation: suppose, for a moment, that your co-worker, who we shall call Delilah for the purposes of this example, is working non-stop, and is being slowly beaten to death by various clients wielding the functional equivalent of stick bats made from stiffened skunks. Let us assume that you are leading a jolly good old life, in which you have enough time to stay after work and write about how you shirk all adult responsibilities generally, whilst she is ten feet away fretting over delivering data to clients.

Now, fair reader, watch me as I stand up, pack up all of my worldly possessions, and walk to her desk, with my jacket on, and computer packed, and ask her if she needs any help. There is obviously no polite way on earth in which she can prevent me from going home to my wife and children,2 so she, in keeping with her generous nature, declares that she has it covered, and spends the rest of the evening in a caffeine-induced state of hypercoding.

Now, many people have a hard time mastering the first two of the shirker's rules, so let me grant you my last piece of advice:

Pretend to help

When you visit your home town, and invite yourself over to your sister's house, and she spends the better part of three hours fighting her five children in order to cook food for you: arrive late, of course, and when you do arrive, spend your time in a constant round of washing your hands, opening and shutting cupboards, moving Seth's drawings from one end of the counter to the other, washing your hands, offering to chop the tomatoes, and then making it clear you are incapable of chopping tomatoes, and thereby force her to chop them while you wash your hands, etc.3

This will, of course, cement in your sister's mind the fact that you lack even the most elementary of motor skills, which, to be honest, is not that far from the truth, but it will also absolve you of all helping responsibilities forever and ever.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm coming into town in November, and would, of course, love to get a delicious meal, Bekah. Have pity on your motor-skill-and-wife-less younger brother.

1. That is, the cooking type of labor, not the labor that produces a child you incessantly beg them to name after you.
2. As this is purely hypothetical, let us attempt to imagine a reality in which I am married, and not a bitter old man.
3. I want to be clear that the preponderance of washing one's hands is not, in this case, evidence of any psychological disorders. Constantly checking the door at night to make sure it is locked might be, but not repeatedly washing one's hands. I swear.

Monday, October 11, 2010

the complete guide gains an author

Over the past few millennia I've been brainstorming how to improve the quality of the complete guide to everything, as well as how to increase the readership. Why? I couldn't really tell you, but that's not the point of today's post.

I finally begged my brother Jeremiah to join in, and since he felt so bad for me and my self-deprecating ways, he was kind enough to say yes. So, going forward, you'll see posts from him as well.

Though more successful, intelligent, and married than me, he also has the gumption to be funnier than me as well, which bodes well for you, dear reader, and ill for my ego. The best news is that he plans on continuing the wonderful tradition of unnecessary footnotes.

Also, I've decided to start posting on Friday mornings, since Mondays are pretty much the worst day to post content ever. I'm not sure which precise part of my brain shut down when I made that original decision, but it must have been a large one. Jeremiah will be posting whenever he feels like it, and there will be occasional non-Friday posts from me as well (as long as I can keep drudging up these amazing dating stories, of course).

Feel free to suggest ways to turn this into a machine whereby Jeremiah and I can retire and do nothing but write and play Nintendo. And by "play Nintendo", I mean watch Jeremiah play Nintendo, because he actually has what people refer to as "hand-eye coordination". And by "hand-eye coordination", I mean his hand is good at coordinating to punch my eye, and thus keep me away from the controller.

Just kidding! He was too engrossed beating Bowser to do those sorts of things.

Read on, fair reader. Read on.

journals

For the majority of my life, people have instructed me to keep a journal. This is because, for the majority of my life, people have been misinformed as to the newsworthiness of my life. Judging by past entries, it appears that every time I set to write about myself, I devolve into:

a) Whining about women, or
b) Whining about my life, or
c) Drawing ducks

Which is pretty much how I envision all journals, with the exception of the ducks.1

Though probably entertaining for a page or two, one can only assume that reading sixty years of this sort of drivel would get on one's nerves. Especially since the quality of the duck drawings has yet to improve.

Of course, I distinctly remember my childhood journal being entertaining. If I actually read it, I could tell you for sure, but, seeing as how I have no idea where it is, in fact, located, I can't.

I can, however, tell you that my mom has read it at least once. During this episode of "how can Chris infuriate his parents even more?", she claimed to have "forgotten" to write down things from her journal, and asked me if she could read mine to remember. This was immediately suspect to my eight-year-old spider sense, because:

a) My mom never forgets anything, in general, and, in specific
b) My mom never forgets to write in her journal.

I can't even imagine the dirt she has accumulated on me over the years. I shutter at the thought. At some point after her death we are going to have to deal with the sixty-odd volumes of journals littering her house, of which 59 could easily be complaints about having to deal with me, because I didn't practice like Jeremiah, or study like John, or...

Unlikely excuses aside, the time she asked to read my journal just happened to fall less than a week after the tirade I spewed out against my mother, accusing her of all manner of wickedness and abominations. As I was not the most intelligent child, this was all written down. In my journal. That she now asked to read.

And so we see how I, as a child, learned how to cover my tracks elegantly. I calmly, unsuspectingly, told her yes, she could read it, I just needed a few minutes to "go and get it". Fifteen minutes later, I delivered my journal to her, with a very unsuspicious half page of writing partially blacked out by a child's scribbling.

No, these were not my best days.

I spent the next few years writing very flattering things about my mother in my journal, and feeling guilty about not writing enough. This lasted until I came to a profound realization:

a) I have never read my journal
b) I have no desire to read my journal
c) I have never read anybody else's journal
d) I have no desire to read anybody else's journal

Why am I writing a journal?

Being lazy is its own excuse.

By granting you this justification, I free you from all journal-writing obligations.2

1. I wrote this a month ago, and it's just now hitting me that the description also applies to the complete guide to everything, minus the duck drawings, of course.
2. Before my mother gets mad at me for this, I'll just re-state that this is a joke. Of course. Joke. You see my eye? It's winking.

Friday, October 8, 2010

calling women

Though it can be especially nerve-racking to attempt to speak to an individual sixteen times more attractive than you in every way, when attempting to call a woman, it is important to remember that they are more afraid of you than you are of them.

If you actually found that consoling, then you are ready (read: dumb enough) to make your first attempt.

The first time you call a woman, there's really nothing to worry about. Since she doesn't have your number in her phone, she's not going to pick up. In fact, in my experience, even if she does have your number, she still won't, but that's an entirely different, and far more embarrassing story.

Therefore, your game plan on the first call is to be able to leave a message that does not:

  1. Include the sound of your voice cracking
  2. Make use of the phrases "desperate", or "out of my league", or "please, I beg of you, I'm so utterly lonely"
  3. Directly ask her out on a date

Many inexperienced men in the past have blundered into making mistake #3; this is the worst possible thing you could do. The woman knows you are calling to ask her out on a date. She can smell this. When she does not return your phone call, and had you referenced a date, you will be left in the unenviable position of meeting her outside of the Institute building the next evening for an unrelated activity, and have her approach you, while in a group, and say, "Hi Chris, I got your message!"

Though, to the casual observer, that might not appear to be the most awkward response ever ever ever, let me remind said casual observer that she intentionally avoided a response to the question of the date, brought up the subject in a moment when it was socially impossible to pursue the topic, and therefore, conveniently made known her non-desire of attending said never-held date.

Never underestimate the brilliance of women.

No, removing said reference gives you a cushion against their malevolence, and furthermore, plausible deniability. There are any number of things you could be calling to talk about. Pick anything else, like ducks. Or lawn fertilizer. I beg of you.

Should one of your phone calls ever reach the woman, and, unlike myself, you are able to have a conversation with her without writing out beforehand what you're going to say because the mere thought of having conversation scares the ever-loving monkeys out of you, let me pass down a few interpretations of common phrases I've had to learn the hard way in my life:

I'm really busy this week

If I had unlimited time, I would spend it running away from you.

Oh, I'm sorry, I'm no longer available on Saturday night, like we agreed on days ago. Maybe we could do Saturday afternoon?

I got a better offer for the evening, but there's always room on the back burner!

I just got through dating someone, and I need some time to recover

I'm giving you the classiest flat-out rejection you've ever had in your life. Also: I'll be dating someone else seriously in about thirty seconds. Maybe you should go work out more.

No

No. (Abort, get off the phone, and never speak of this again)

Ummmm, I think I have plans

Let us leave this uninterpreted to assist your ego in its recovery.

No, I didn't get any of your messages or texts while you waited outside for me for an hour! It's not that cold out there you sissy! Stop shivering.

Either a technological vortex just opened up and swallowed the city of San Francisco whole, or I'm just not that into you. Also, you smell bad.

Aside from those few tidbits, though, I can't really guide you very far, given a lack of empirical evidence precipitated by a lack of answered calls. Should I be so blessed as to collect more material, I'll post the interpretations thereof.1

For now, however, call on, and know that, in a pinch, I can recommend a few places in the city that will shelter you from the cold.2

1. I remember a week after returning from my church mission, calling woman upon woman, trying to get a date. It was impossible. Having, then and now, what some refer to as an inflated view of my own appeal, I distinctly recall thinking to myself: "Someday I'm going to look back at this experience and think how ironic it was that I (I!) could not get a date". Well, it's someday, and it's not as ironic as I would have hoped.
2. There isn't a whole lot of fiction in today's post, my friends. Tonight is a sit-on-the-futon-and-down-root-beer-and-pray-my-little-brothers-don't-marry-their-serious-girlfriends-soon night.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

gardening

For approximately eight times the cost of the equivalent items, and about thirty hours more time invested, you too can enjoy the fruits (or vegetables, as it were) of your own labor by gardening.

Gardening is big in the UK because the UK is the land of the landed gentry. That is, people who are so wealthy they have nothing better to do but to plow their money into plants. Gardening is big in my own household because this is the home of the unlanded unmarried. And since I don't have any spare mouths to feed, I can spend my money on smart phones, gas, and plants that will die at my hands.

Having a little bit of experience failing at gardening in the past,1 I decided to try my hand again this year.

It stands to reason that if one gardens, one can produce fruits and vegetables cheaply. This is because you are cutting out the middle man: the farmer. And since cutting out the middle man always leads to cost savings in infomercials, you know it will work for you as well, never mind that the middle man in this case has access to dirt cheap water and land that is not swarming in plant-eating snails.

In order to start my garden, I dropped about a hundred bucks on a variety of green-ish items that claimed to be future food. As of today (three months and about thirty hours of labor in), the sum total of my produce consists of:

  • Two yellow-ish squashes which look nothing like the picture on the seed packet, and are thus likely some form of cancerous growth
  • Fifteen fat little snails, having eaten (and enjoyed) my bean plants
  • Three cucumbers, covered in paint by the contractors who cleaned their brushes outside
  • One green pepper
  • Three dead pepper plants
  • Eleven (nice) flowers on my pumpkin plants that immediately died and withered away
  • One tomato forest covered in sawdust from the aforementioned contractors

All in all, I'd say that's a pretty successful venture. I'm no mathematician, but I'd estimate I spent about a dollar for every calorie grown. As for the alternative: for approximately three dollars and sixteen cents, I could have walked to the grocery store a block away and purchased all of those items, plus a chocolate shake.

Well, the paint would have cost extra.

Of course, had I done that, I wouldn't have had the enjoyment of sitting outside at night, trying to water my garden with a flashlight while getting eaten by mosquitoes. I would have missed out on the fun of hacking down a weed larger than myself with a shovel. And I wouldn't have been able to use the garden as the last, desperate attempt to win over women.2 3

1. Those who received my first sham Christmas Card (from the Perry Family, of course) will recollect the cucumber in my hands; the one lone item that my investment of an estimated $200 produced that year. Some people buy televisions, and others buy aphid bait (read: plants).
2. But I have a garden! Doesn't that indicate stability to you? You're evolutionarily programmed to seek stable men! Garden! Stable! Please, for the love of my unborn pumpkins!
3. I feel obliged to confess that I wrote this some time ago, and kept it, trying to think of ways to liven it up. It's now almost completely false, as I was inundated with tomatoes, but I'm not going to let all of this writing go to waste, even if that's exactly what I did with the tomatoes. So the cost per calorie eaten is probably about the same.

Monday, October 4, 2010

shopping for groceries

Shopping for groceries is likely one of the most miserable things you are required to do in order to live, aside from clipping your toenails,1 going to the dentist, or not challenging drivers who speed past you, then slow down to glacial speeds the minute you are stuck behind them and two of their best friends to duels with flaming scimitars.

Seeing as how, as my last date put it, I have "a mild case of Asperger's",2 I thought it appropriate to document some of the numbers related to shopping for groceries:

Time spent to drive to the grocery store: 5 minutes
Time spent to find a parking spot in the most remote corner of the parking lot, and thereby avoid all human contact: 30 seconds
Time sent pacing up and down the aisles in a futile pursuit for a basket to use while shopping: 36 minutes

Number of shopping baskets present in the store when I need a basket: 0
Number of shopping baskets present when I use a cart instead: 6,321,551

Average number of items on my shopping list: 2
Average number of items purchased: 55

Approximate number of people in line when I enter the grocery store: -1.2
Approximate number of people in line when I go to check out: 30,000

There's really nothing I can do about it; I've tried making lists, mentally preparing myself beforehand, but no matter how hard I try, I can never walk out of a grocery store having purchased the two items I went in for. Invariably, I end up outside shaking in shock at a bill somewhere north of two hundred dollars, clutching a block of brie the size of a mechanical bull, wondering how exactly it is I was only going to buy dental floss.

Of course, of all of those numbers, the one that really bothers me is the people in line. I don't know how they do it, but the entire township of Redwood City decides to head over to Safeway about thirty seconds before I get in the store. You'd think at some point Safeway would staff the store with more than one disgruntled checker, who spends the majority of each sixteen minute transaction trying desperately to individually wrap items in plastic bags, but no, that would be asking too much.

Also, since I'm prohibited by my religion from making purchases on a Sunday, I happen to frequent stores on Saturday evening, which just happens to be "Annoying People Buying Alcohol and Laughing at the Sissy Mormon Getting His Brownie Bites for the Dinner Tomorrow" time at the supermarket. Not only do I absolutely despise taking food to anything anywhere ever for any reason,3 I get to spend my dateless night waiting to buy it behind smelly loud people.

That being said, shopping would be somewhat bearable if I were capable of calculating any sort of efficient route through the grocery store. As it is, I'm forced to meander the aisles aimlessly, wondering how in the world anybody finds anything in that haystack, and occasionally collapsing in a corner, moaning and breathing into Wilson, my paper bag.

The one consoling aspect of grocery stores, is, of course, their music. I used to work in a bank inside a grocery store, and I memorized (and could sing to) all of the songs. I always wanted to orchestrate a dance routine to Earth Wind and Fire's September; you know, have all of the tellers immediately spin back in their chairs, and funk out for the four minutes of the song, only to return to their windows without nary an explanation.

Sadly, it never materialized. But the memory keeps me entertained during my wayward wandering.

1. I would like to lodge a complaint with the world about the man who clipped his fingernails while sitting next to me. In church.
2. For the record, I did not make this up, though the exact quote might have referenced how I fall somewhere on some sort of Asperger's spectrum. And for when she reads this tomorrow: you're probably right.
3. This is because I secretly fear being exposed for my complete incompetence in the realm of cooking.