Sunday, May 22, 2011

paris


Are you finding your life is too efficient? Are you frustrated by being able to get to places you want to go in a timely manner? Are you tired of people not walking into you and not attempting to scam you?

Then you need to head to Paris.

When you do make it to Paris, I highly recommend a trip out to see the sights of Versailles, because I hear they are lovely, and maybe you've heard about them since fifth grade history, and have wanted to see the gardens for the past twenty years of your life.

Traveling to Versailles is easy.

First, walk around Gare du Nord looking for a ticket machine that accepts cash, because they all hate cards, and heaven forbid they equip all of their ticket machines to accept cash because that would be so unimaginably difficult and out-of-line with common practice in the rest of the civilized world.

Next, travel to St. Michel and change to the C line, where, just like any normal mob hit, you'll be taken to an abandoned train station on the outskirts of town and left to rot.

Your train will stop and the conductor will do his best Charlie Brown teacher impression, except this time he doesn't want you to pound the erasers, he apparently wants you off the train, because he then shuts off the lights. This makes sense, since most trains stop far short of their destination at eight in the morning.

Next, spend an hour pacing a lonely train platform with a smattering of other shady characters eying your long legs and supple skin, not seeing a single train, but noting on the information boards a steady succession of trains with the arrival time of "supprimé". Now, many of you might wonder what supprimé means, but I can tell you since I read it so, so many times yesterday, and no, it doesn't refer to the credit quality of the entire French state. No, roughly translated it means, "screw you, you'll never make it to Versailles if we have anything to do with it, si vous plait sucka".

Don't worry though, because every two minutes for that lovely hour spent pacing pigeon poop an announcer will get on and mumble through a novel in French. He will always end with the phrase, "merci pour votre attention". Oh, if only I knew what to welcome you for, sir. If only I knew.1

Luckily, the only time he decides to announce in English will be the time you are at the far end of the platform, just out of earshot.

After giving up, and spending a few hours hiking back into the center of town with nothing but a five dollar bottle of Fanta the size of a Parisian metro card to sate your voracious thirst, you'll happily discover it is your lucky day, as multiple gold rings will be found in your general vicinity2 by upstanding members of the Parisian community, and offered to you.3 I feel sorry for that dude who keeps losing the same ring in the same place. Poor guy.

All in all, this is a great way to fall in love with Paris, because who doesn't like hiking fifteen miles in ninety degree weather in the land of ridiculously-overpriced liquids?

I know I do.4

1. Unfortunately, my only French is this great alliterative phrase that tells women they are more beautiful than the trash can, taught to by my good friend Dave long ago. More unfortunately, the stunningly beautiful woman I once attempted to woo using that phrase was not impressed. In the slightest.
2. Okay, it only happened twice, but, amazingly, the second time the ring was found almost immediately next to my foot. Pretty crazy that I didn't see that ring there the whole fifteen minutes I was sitting there, huh?
3. On the levels of scams out there, this is a lame one. They offer you the ring, then try to extort money from you, because they let you have the ring. Seriously people, if you're going to the trouble of trying your hand at being a con man or woman, get a decent con first.
4. I am hereby renouncing travel and tourism. I always screw it up, and I always, always do it wrong. Who goes to Paris and ends up sweaty, panting, and lost in the red light district on their way to a graveyard? Seriously people. There are so, so many things wrong with that situation I don't even know where to begin.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

walk-a-thons


I was first introduced to the concept of the walk-a-thon as a child back at Howard R. Driggs Elementary School.1 The idea, as explained to me, goes as follows:

A) You go around your neighborhood like a weenie and get the neighbors to sign up to donate an amount of money for every lap you walk around the school.
B) Your neighbors tell you you're a weenie because all of their kids are doing the same thing.
C) You come home to find your mom telling the neighbor kids the same thing.
D) Your dad pays for the whole thing, and you spend the night before the walk-a-thon making up fictitious donor names.

In other words, a walk-a-thon is great a way to raise funds if your goal is humiliation and awkwardness.

For some reason we, as a society, have decided that people won't donate money for the sake of the cause alone: someone has to incur some pain in order for us to do it, so start walking sissy boy.

So I walked around that school a few dozen times. Boy oh boy was that enjoyable. I could have been washing cars for money, or "doing my chores" by running the vacuum within earshot of my mother and lying next to it reading, or otherwise contributing to society, but I was walking around a school like a sucker so my fictitious donors would feel better about their donation.

The best thing about walk-a-thons, of course, is seeing my friends get suckered into participating in the adult equivalents. They go by many names, but they all involve not lounging on your couch making fun of charitable causes, which for me is unacceptable.

So enjoy your little races for the cures people. Tonight I'll be hosting the first ever couch-a-thon. You're free to sponsor me by donating money to your local cheetos fund and participating in whichever way you feel comfortable.

1. Known for being built in the seventies and painted by a drunk hippy. Also known for its curious phonetic similarity to the phrase, "how are our drugs?", to which, we as seven year olds, always responded positively.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was specifically invented so I would have one more annual event of significance to my wife that I could forget until the day before, much like our wedding anniversary, her birthday, etc. Lucky for me, this year I was asked to speak in church on Mother's Day which meant I could also forget to write my talk until the day before.

On a side note, the last time I spoke in church was Father's Day. And I can only wonder if it is a coincidence or if there is some connection.

True to form, Saturday found me scrambling to find references to mothers in the scriptures. It also found me in the Target parking lot with the family in tow. Since I now have a three year old, I decided the most appropriate thing to do would be bring her with me while we shop for mom and let her "help". And by "help" I mean "pick" the present. And by "pick", I mean put it in the basket when I hand it to her.

Everything went just dandy, and as we walked back to the car, I explained that it was a surprise for mom and we would go home, wrap it, and give it to her the next day. My daughter loves surprises, so I thought she might grasp the concept.

And grasp it she did. The second we saw mom, she blurted, "We got you a DVD! And a funny card! It's a surprise!" Since she was being so helpful, I was hoping she would start saying insightful things about mothers that I could then put in my talk. Nope. However, I was amused, mostly at my naiveté, but also because she also told the cashier at Trader Joe's what we got for mom.

When we got home, there was a mini tantrum because, apparently, she thought the DVD was for her. We are still working on the "presents for other people" concept. So we skipped the wrapping and just put it in a bag right then, and gave it to mom right then, and we all sat down and watched it right then.

Watching the movie didn't help me write my talk either.

emotions


When I was a kid, every once in awhile I'd run across some test that checked to see if you could interpret emotions on people's faces. They'd give you some cartoon smiley faces and ask you to match up the emotion.1

I always failed. Miserably.

Of course, I'm pretty sure the blame lies with the cartoonists. So I've gone ahead and, for the greater good of humanity, have documented a wide range of emotions.

And without further ado, I present to you the most common emotions felt and displayed by the honorable Mister Chris Perry:


Happy


Sad


The love of my life just married another dude


I want to smooch you right now


Maybe you would like to come back to my place later on...


That sure was a nice date. We should definitely do it again sometime.


Shoot me in the face


Cheeeeeese, Gromit!


My roommate just used the bathroom and I need to go in there. Curse the day.


Oh yes, I will definitely call up the girl you're trying to set me up with


A game of basketball? Oh yeah, count me in!


Three hours of meetings, that's a great idea!


GAAHHHHH! SAVE ME! AWKWARD WOMAN APPROACHING FROM THE LEFT!


RUN YOU FOOL!


Lonely


You're pretty creeped out by these pictures aren't you?

1. In my later years, I wondered if I was given those test because, as I was told by a date, I am autistic.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Role reversal!

Wouldn't it be great if we could run into our kids bedrooms at three o'clock in the morning and yell something like, "Hey! I'm poopy! I need a diaper change! Can you change it right now? And I need some water! And not that water, that's old water! I want new water!"

Of course, then our kids would say something like, "Shut up and go to bed! Do you have any idea what time it is? And what do I look like to you, a Diaper Genie? Change your own diaper! And why can't you just drink the water you have on your dresser? Are you too good for your water?"

But then we'd just start to cry and we wouldn't stop until our kids were forced to let us sleep in their bed, and then we'd spend the rest of the night kicking them and rolling into them and otherwise making it impossible for them to get any sleep.

Ah yes, that would be great. Too bad it's the other way around.

glasses


The other day I decided to revisit some extraordinarily painful experiences from my childhood.

No, I did not try biking by my crush's house, and then inviting myself over if people were out in the backyard.1

Instead, I put on glasses.2

Wearing glasses is like getting stabbed in the face, except less enjoyable. If you've ever put on glasses to "accessorize" or look smart for an evening, I want you to know that I hate you. You mock my, and every other glasses wearer's pain.

I hate you because you're trying to look trendy cool without having spent grades 2 through 5 as a social outcast.3 You're not worthy of the mark of geekism without spending time at the back of a dark locker, or on the bottom of a smear-the-queer pile, or having your tricycle stolen and trashed by the big kid down the street.4

Of course, had you been forced in your youth to wear glasses, which things automatically transformed you from low-grade forgettableness into full-out leader and bastion of the nerd world, you would have wizened up like me, and spent the next several years begging your parents to let you get contacts. You might have even been so excited about shedding your brown-plastic-clad coke bottles that you refused to admit any pain to the doctor who fit you with contacts, and, with your eyes blazing in pain, forced a smile, claimed everything was great, and skipped your way to the door (which was actually the wall, with which you collided with great force).5

So if you're wearing fake glasses right now, take them off. If you're wearing glasses for a prescription anywhere short of legally blind, take them off you pansy. And if you're wearing the most miserable glasses in the world which weigh about sixteen pounds and have a deathgrip on your face and are cutting into your nose with their wiry frame o' fury, keep them on. One week down, only seven more to go until LASIK.6

1. Seriously, could someone have told me how creepy I was as a child? Like, hey Chris, you might want to stop stalking the neighborhood girls because that's like the weirdest thing ever? Having written that, I'm suddenly becoming very self conscious about my current randomly-ambush-girls-online dating strategy.
2. Which are, annoyingly, constantly referred to as spectacles here in England. Seriously, spectacles? Did my grandma just crawl out of her grave to comment on my eyewear? Maybe I'll protect my spectacles by wrapping them in some stockings. And afterwards we can go see a talkie or something.
3. In fairness, this occurred in grades 1, and 6-12 as well, but I am unfortunately unable to blame glasses for those periods.
4. Having written that, I am now praying that occurred before the age at which I was chained with glasses.
5. True story.
6. Is it bad that the most sincere prayers of my adult life revolve around reducing the number of weeks necessary to wear glasses for LASIK preparation? Don't answer that.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Man's New Search for Meaning


Undoubtedly, many a relationship therapist has pontificated that the ideal male/female relationship is a partnership based on trust and compatibility. You ought to know that these claims are false, and that these therapists are imbeciles. The best partnerships are, and always have been, based not on compatibility, but on mutual need. Abbott & Costello hated each other. Lennon & McCartney hated each other. Simon & Garfunkel still hate each other, and, still, need each other. Not only is “whether two people get along” not a pre-requisite for a great partnership—it’s completely irrelevant.

This is why successful long-term male/female relationships have never been about rapport, and have always been about mutual need. The truthfulness of this principle has been validated by, ostensibly, the whole of human history.

Since the beginning of time, man’s primary concern in life has been to ensure the propagation of his own bloodline1. This outcome is dependent upon a binary function where the value “contains uterus” = 1. Woman, on the other hand, has always been principally concerned with the obtaining of food. No, really, she is. Not convinced? Find the woman nearest you and ask her how much she likes the taste of food. Better yet, attempt to deny food from her for any quantifiable period of time, and record the results2.

Back when food could run, and/or had horns, teeth, and claws, the obtaining of it required a certain amount of muscles and sinews; items of which man was in greater supply. And thus a woman’s need for man, and her willingness to enter into a partnership with him where A) she would ensure the progress of his bloodline, in exchange for B) the regular procurement of food that would otherwise maul, trample, or claw its procurer to death. Interestingly, a woman’s need for man (and, consequently, the strength of the partnership) would increase over time. In accordance with provision A, she would spend spend copious amounts of time in an altered physical state called “pregnancy.” In this altered state, she would need her man much, much more. After all, it’s hard to slay a wild buffalo with nothing but a sharpened stick. But it’s harder to do while you’re pregnant3.

This harmonious needs-based partnership between man and woman would endure for anywhere from a few-thousand to many-tens-of-thousands of years4. Even after wedding bells were first hung between Mr. and Mrs. Tigris and Euphrates, the partnership would go forth undeterred5.

Until the industrial revolution and the advent of machines, when it became clear that woman could perform an awful lot of important work at least as competently as man. While man is typically oblivious to the most apparent details immediately before his eyes6, he was able to foresee that as soon as woman became able to feed herself satisfactorily, the plight of man would fall into dire circumstances. His role would pass very quickly from “absolutely essential” to “space to fill.” In a desperate act to maintain his standing as at least “necessary,” man would engage in an unseemly practice now known as “gender discrimination in the workplace7.”

As you know, this subversion of equal rights would, for the most part, be overcome—allowing woman to provide for herself the one thing she has truly ever desired. Though also coming with many positive by-products, woman’s ability to obtain food for herself has resulted in the dissolution of the partnership that supported male/female relationships for the entirety of human existence. Now, man has no definable role in the relationship. Woman knows this, man knows this, man knows that woman knows this, and woman knows that man knows that woman knows this—knowledge which yields an unconscionable amount of relationship leverage in woman’s favor. And man, all too aware of his under-leveraged position, is choosing evermore to not take his seat at the negotiating table (or “seat at the dinner table on a traditional first date,” as it were).

And thus we see the true cause of man’s modern refusal to engage in traditional dating practices. ‘Tisn’t that he doesn’t understand them. ‘Tisn’t that he refuses to grow up. ‘Tisn’t that social media has compromised his ability to interact directly with other humans. ‘Tis a matter of leverage, and he has none. Forced to give up on the dream of preserving his bloodline, he’s been reduced to a new search for relevance and self-respect. He seems to have found it in XBOX Live, where he straight pwns those n00bs.


1. This is, really, the height of male hubris: he thinks so highly of himself, he actually believes the world should be populated with more of him.

2. Please observe proper safety measures before attempting this.

3. Pause for a moment to reflect on how these circumstances would swallow up any potential “relationship issues” between man and woman. For instance, the unsatisfying thoughts a woman might have along the lines of “oh, he just doesn’t understand me anymore,” would most certainly disappear the moment Captain Sinews arrived home with a wild buffalo carcass on his back.

4. Depending on where lies the intersection between your scientific and religious beliefs on the subjects "the origin of man" and "carbon dating."

5. Substitute the concept of "slay the wild beast" with "operate a back hoe from dawn until dusk," and you get the idea.

6. As woman nods, vigorously.

7. Man’s mea culpa being, of course, that he wasn’t using wage discrimination for societal dominance, but rather to maintain relevance within his own home. Somehow he feels this is more noble8.

8. I know, I know: "more noble" is improper English. The correct usage is "nobler." But really, try "nobler" at the end of a sentence. It sounds awful. Sure, William Shakespeare may have used "nobler" in the single most famous paragraph in the history of writing (Hamlet, people); but you see, Billy Shakes used it in the middle of a sentence, not at the end. It's at the end of a sentence that "nobler" becomes a phonetic nightmare. Go ahead, use "nobler" at the end of a sentence some time today. I bet you sound pretentious.

Friday, May 6, 2011

and then there were three!

Good news folks! Your pleas have been heard,1 and we will soon be privileged to read posts from yet another author, my good friend Mike.2

I can assure you his wisdom is second to none.

And, um, yes, I'm completely stalled on the book project, because I am lame. I've also written and discarded two (2!) posts this week. Which is sad, because one of them featured a picture of me fat in a beard. If seeing a picture of me fat in a beard isn't funny, I don't know what is.

Writer's block, my friends. Writer's block.

Which is why Mike is here to save us.

1. There have been no pleas.
2. Who looks exactly like Matthew McConaughey. Seriously. Unless you're looking at Matthew McConaughey's wikipedia picture (which you had to look up to write this post because spelling McConaughey is well beyond your abilities after watching your first two TV shows of the year), because he looks like a creepy serial killer. Otherwise, exactly.

Monday, May 2, 2011

the lake district




In my age-induced desperation, lately I've been coming up with new wife-finding strategies. I'm being encouraged by my sister who recently threatened to create a profile of me on a dating site in retaliation for my (mostl...er, somewhat satirical) post on reasons why I have not pursued certain women in the past.1

One of these finding strategies is to read Jane Austin and see if she gives me any clues as to what women are looking for, as I clearly have no idea what that might be, though I have learned that women are mostly disinterested in men whose ideal Friday evening is spent reading the latest issue of The Economist, and even more disinterested in men who would take the trouble to italicize every mention of their favorite magazine, The Economist.

So far I've made it through Pride and Prejudice2 and Emma; the only overriding themes I can find among the ideal men portrayed being old age, social awkwardness, and money.

Which leads me to my new dating tagline: two out of three ain't bad.

Regardless, I've felt it necessary to conduct a field study of the locations discussed in her works. This is what prompted my recent excursion to the Lake District in the company of my sister. I took my sister along because during my last Austinian excursion, I found myself alone in Brighton, England, which, as I found out after a series of eyebrows were raised at me, is the gay capital of England.

The Lake District is nice. There are lakes. There are sheep. There are cows. There are old ladies that laugh at you when you ask them if the inclement weather should deter you from summitting a nearby peak, and who, when you explain that you heard there may be gusts of wind up to 50 MPH respond, "well, put some rocks in your rucksack and carry on!"3

But I had a good time. My sister sort of had a good time. We got to walk 72 miles through a combination of mud and sheep poo, which is always a plus.

And at the end of the trail we got to celebrate by renting a car4 and driving back to London, which consisted of five hours of me hitting my right hand on the door every time I went to shift, and my sister periodically falling asleep and waking up frantically yelling "LEFT LEFT, LEFT SIDE!" at me, whereupon I would veer abruptly to the correct lane, deftly maneuvering around honking traffic.5

And now, back to The Economist.

1. I only stonewalled her by promising to do so myself when I hit 31. My only hope at not being the next match.com victim is, of course, that she will forget said promise when I turn 31.
2. Once upon a time I decided I bore most resemblance to Mr. Darcy, as we both hate dancing and other people. Whereupon my sister informed me I could not possibly be Mr. Darcy, mainly, I believe, because she considered herself to be Elizabeth. This was my greatest Austinian slight, until later in my life I was referred to as Mr. Collins. At that point I decided I bear no resemblance to anybody in any of the book, and you suggest otherwise at your own supreme physical peril.
3. I cannot express how emasculating it is to have a white-haired granny tell you to man up and stop being a sissy. But she was awesome, and is my hero.
4. Sorry: hiring a car.
5. Which reminds me: I've been meaning to complain about gas stations, and their relative non-proximity to the rental car return. Like, are you serious? Are you so stupid that you can't locate your gas station in the BEST LOCATION EVER? Everyone driving by would fill up. Everyone. Instead, it seems to be standard issue, if you're a gas station, to be sure you're at least sixteen miles from any rental car return. We ended up driving around for a few hours and topping up in rural Ireland thanks to their antics. Gas station owners: this is the moral equivalent of not building an ice cream parlor next to a weight loss clinic. It's practically criminal to ignore such an opportunity.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Dentist

I recently went to the dentist. You may or may not have noticed, but a few months ago I noted it had been five years since I went to the dentist in a post on this blog. Which post my wife read.

Let it be written, with the holy chisel, on the tablets of stone, that I shall not remind my wife how long it has been since I went to the dentist. That is all.

The first thing to do when I arrived was fill out a new patient form. And an insurance form. And three or four other forms, because apparently dental record keeping has completely missed out on the digital revolution. I think the forms were printed with a hand operated press. And I had to fill them out in triplicate with a quill tipped pen.

The new patient form asked how long it had been since I went to the dentist. I decided to answer honestly, and put "2+ years". Another form had one of those medical history sections with a series of questions like "Are your teeth sensitive?" Upon reflection, I decided they are not sensitive, unless they hear a real tear jerker.

After the forms, I was taken to the X-ray room. This is where they pull out the first of many medieval instruments of torture, the mouth-stretcher-upper. This does have a purpose, they place it in your mouth before the x-rays to make sure the experience is as uncomfortable as possible. But after the hygienist painstakingly adjusts the x-ray camera to point at the exact location desired and leaves the room, I like to turn and look straight at the camera and make weird faces.

My attempts at humor were rewarded with a trip to "the chamber". The hygienist pulled out several other devices that literally were used in the tower of London and began working. Soon, smoke was coming out of my mouth with occasional sparks and several high-pitched shrieks.

And now we come to the real puzzle, the great dentistry paradox. Can anyone explain to me why dentists and their assistants try to ask you questions while you are under the light? Like, I've got two picks, a scraper, and a gallon of fluoride in my mouth. Can I get a pass on answering questions?

Near the end, the hygienist said, "Well, things are a bit rougher when it's been two years since your last cleaning." And I, with my gums bleeding and teeth throbbing, chuckled to myself and thought, "Ha ha, I fooled you! It's been FIVE years!"

Birthday parties

Hannah is turning three soon, so we did what loving parents do and threw her a birthday party. Only loving parents do things like this because, well, no one else is dumb enough to do it.

First of all, we had to decide who to invite. We followed a simple system. We wrote down all of Hannah's friends. Then we thought about who she would like at the party. Then we threw that list out and just invited the kids who have parents we like.

Next, we had to decide what kind of birthday part to have, or in other words, the theme. A theme these days is mandatory. The invitations, decorations, party favors, food, etc. etc., must all bear some relation to the theme. If you do not have a theme, everyone will know you are not a loving parent.

When the blessed day arrived, we spent several hours cleaning the house. Yes, cleaning. Because I am sure that six three year olds will a) notice that it is clean, and b) leave the place just as clean as they found it. And only non-loving parents don't clean before the party.

After the kids arrived, I realized that a birthday party for three year olds is sort of like babysitting, except you do it for free. To pass the time, we had several games planned. We started with musical chairs.

Note that three year olds do not know how to play musical chairs.

So then we went on to the next game, which was do as I'm doing.

Note that three year olds do not know how to play do as I'm doing.

So we moved on to cake and ice cream about an hour early.

Note to next time skip the games and go right for the sweets because three year olds love cake and ice cream.

The "party", which is "fun", sadly must end at some point. Our final act as host was to send home party favors. Nota bene, these were party favors of our choosing. We sent them home with kazoos, tambourines, and really obnoxiously high-pitched whistles. That's sort of like throwing sand in their parents' eyes and laughing.

And what can the parents do about it? Nothing! After all, loving parents let their kids play with their party favors.