Category Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

Reprinting the column that appears in The Source Weekly, a Brazoria County, Texas newspaper every Thursday.

Stories of My Starving Student

Peanut butterCollege. It’s the place where you pay big bucks to learn big things. My youngest son is currently close to finishing up his first semester at college and is learning some really big things. Like how not to starve to death. Last August, we settled him into his new dorm room with clean sheets, a manageable class schedule, and an ample meal plan. By Thanksgiving break, his checking account was dry, his gas tank empty, and he had $1.19 left on his meal plan until the end of the semester.  Desperation is the mother of invention.

He reports that he’s started hanging around with sorority girls and his scrawny friends. Obviously, these are people who are not utilizing their meal plans and are happy to let him mooch a lunch now and then. I’m hoping the parents of those kids are all socialists or at least voted Democrat in the last election.

It seems that since the days when my dad let me starve in college, they’ve upped the age that you can sell plasma. So that option is out for him, at least for another year. But, by then, I’m hoping he’ll have wrestled his budget to the ground.

He “rented” his car so an international student in his dorm could take his test for his US driver’s license. He convinced drunk fraternity boys that he was cheaper than Uber (he wasn’t). He found a $5 bill in the dryer. He’ll be fine.

Discovering a new, hunger-fueled resourcefulness, he used his last nickels to buy a four pound jar of discount peanut butter at the Dollar Store. He can’t afford bread, but, no worries, the plastic spoons at Chick-fil-A are free. Coffee creamer and ketchup packets are yours for the taking just about everywhere. And if he tags along with someone going out for Mexican food, there’s that big bowl of free chips. I hardly worry that he’ll waste away to nothing.

I know, though, that college is making him smarter because he hasn’t asked me for money. Eating crow and swallowing your pride just aren’t that filling. On a positive note, I bet he’ll never run out of money again. Of course, he may also never be able to face another box of no-name mac-n-cheese ever again either. So college really is making him a better, healthier, smarter person!

(The peanut butter is real. The story is real. Because I just can’t make this stuff up.)

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Snail Slime

snail snotI’m all about putting my best face forward, wearing my sunscreen, and avoiding crossing my eyes while sticking out my tongue for the sheer threat that it’ll get stuck like that. I’m even to the age of worrying about finding a good moisturizer. While I don’t need one formulated in space by technology developed on Mars by Hubble Telescope engineers, I still want a moisturizer that hides the fact I’ve been tired since 2009. What I don’t want is snail slime.

Oh yes, snail slime is becoming all the rage in skin care, hadn’t you heard? Seems those wacky Koreans, when not busy trying to nuke each other, have been smearing snail mucin – that’s the technical term for that weird snail trail – onto their faces for years. And now snail cream is as close as your local Target store. No really, go in and ask an associate to help you find that. I double dare you.

I’m not afraid to try new things (remember, I’m the one who signed up to do goat yoga), but I think I’m going to draw a shimmery silver line on this one. There are just way too many questions – like how exactly do you harvest snail slime? How do animal rights activists feel about this? How do the snails feel about this? Is it an option to commune with the snails and just let small herds of the shelled slugs worm their way across your face? … Nah, probably better to buy snail cream with an easy to use applicator.

The biggest question of all has to be “Why?” Although, snail farmers in South America swear their hands are baby butt soft and any wounds heal twice as fast, I’m going to call foul. First of all, you’re a South American snail farmer. You can’t be trusted. Of course your hands are soft, because duh, you’re not exactly a brick layer. Wounds heal twice as fast as what? Faster than wounded lady bug farmers? May I just point out that Lubriderm and Band-Aids give me the same results without the “Ewww” factor.
Natural beauty comes with a high price, I get that. I’m just not sure I’m willing to hand over that last small sliver that’s left of my better judgement and common sense for a jar of snail snot. I think I’d rather be wrinkled.

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Goat Yoga

goat yogaIn a time fraught with heartache, destruction and chaos, I had finally found the source of all goodness and light in the universe: Goat Yoga! What could do more to heal the wounds of the world than relaxing, restorative yoga alongside joyful baby goats? No, I’m serious. Goat yoga! It’s really a thing. Google it if you don’t believe me, I’ll wait.

I didn’t even bother looking to see if there was a Groupon before I typed my credit card number into their website to sign up for the next Sunday morning class and my chance to Down Dog with a fuzzy bundle of bounding happiness. To be honest, I don’t even like yoga. But goat yoga?! I’m all about that. I’d probably consider repeat root canals if I got to hold baby goats at the end!

Ninety minutes, 20 baby goats, and you can even rent a mat from them if you don’t want to do your next class covered in goat berries. Short of having a free wine bar as part of the class, just tell me how it could possibly ever get better?! All I had to do was contain my excitement for three days before it would be class time!

Then it happened. I should have seen it coming. My children grow up and go away to college. Harvey floods my house. My dog dies. And goat yoga gets cancelled. Even now I can’t type those words without wanting to cry out in despair. Cancelled. Why?! I just can’t fathom a why.

Yes, the email said I’d receive a full refund to my credit card. But did it offer any kind of recourse? Any consolation for the disappointment? I hold the yoga instructor completely responsible. The baby goats were surely still on board, ready to prance and frolic regardless of whether or not I showed up in stretchy pants and carrying a bottle of lime infused water. It had to have been a failure of the instructor. And that is exactly why I don’t like yoga, even if I do still like baby goats.

I wonder, though, while I’m waiting to sign up for another class time — yes, I’ll sign up for another class time because I can’t get to the end of my life and not have done goat yoga — I could find something better, more in line with things I like. Do you think they have goat beach vacations? No? Well isn’t that just too baaaaaaad.

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No Go Taco

spam tacoFood trucks are all the rage these days. Amsterdam has The Kitchen of The Unwanted Animal, a food truck cooking up pigeon, parakeet and “my little pony burgers,” and here in America, we have the Spamobile… Spam®? Yup. Google it because I can’t make that stuff up. While I’m more likely to eat deep fried dung beetles than stand in line at the Spamerican Tour truck for “Sunny’s Coconut Spam Spears with Spicy Pineapple Chutney” or even a spicy Spam breakfast burrito, I’m hipster enough to go for waffles or cupcakes or even investigate an authentic taco truck. Or so I thought.

I’m probably not a reputable authority on this matter (or really on any matter, if we’re going to be honest about things) because I have a deep, burning hatred for all things cilantro, which is all too often found in tacos, but I thought the taco spectrum started with chicken and ended with beef. That was before I found myself at Chico Chuck’s Taco Truck. I think Chico Chuck’s super power is the ability to take anything that even closely resembles a meat source and put it on a tortilla.

At some point during the discovery process, I made the mistake of asking what exactly is barbacoa. Let’s just establish right now that one should never ask a question unless you’re prepared for the answer. I shouldn’t have asked. I wasn’t prepared. According to Chico Chuck, barbacoa is the cooked head of a cow. Think Heloise the Heifer meets Marie Antoinette. Everything from the cowbell on up gets tossed into what I’m guessing is a cow head shaped crock pot — brains, eyeballs, tongue, teeth. In my overworked imagination, you can hear one last, tragic, disembodied “mooooo” as the lid is slammed onto the pot. If there was ever a more convincing argument to “Eat More Chikn,” I’m not sure it would beat out barbacoa.

The take-away from all this is to seriously consider consuming anything from a place that is, by its very nature, a flight risk or one that can be impounded for health code violations. Remember, too, that antacids can overcome a lot of things, but not your long- or short-term memories. And really, peanut butter sandwiches are not a bad thing!

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Scouting Out Controversy

scoutsMen in dresses who aren’t even Scottish. Women in the men’s bathroom and not because the line is too long next door in the girl’s room. Boys want to be girls who want to be boys, and it all just gets so confusing. Now Boy Scouts are girl scouts but not Girl Scouts. Just girls being scouts ala Boys, although boys can’t be Girl Scouts so how is that fair? Because it has to be fair. And everyone needs a trophy.

Starting next year, Boy Scouts of America are allowing girls to join their ranks. Because how else can you earn your merit badge for Utter Absurdity? What exactly is wrong with girls being Girl Scouts and boys being Boy Scouts? Wouldn’t it just be easier to let the boys in on the cookie sales thing and let the girls do… I don’t even know what it is that Girl Scouts can’t do that the boys do, except pee against the trees when they go camping.

Honestly, I don’t think everyone has thought through this whole thing or considered the doors that will be blown open that can’t be closed again. How long will it be before a Siamese cat wins the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show because Fluffy the Persian identifies as a German shepherd. Will Lassie and Toto get cast as the leads in the Broadway musical “Cats”? And will crazy cat ladies be obligated to have dogs, too, on the basis of canine equality?

So if you ask me – and quite frankly, no one does – girls in Girl Scouts and boys in Boy Scouts or simply stop all the silliness already, lump them all together and call them “Scouts.” Whoever shows up, pays their dues, and builds a soapbox derby car is in.

Because, guess what!? Both sides are already charged to “Be Prepared” and “Do a Good Turn Daily.” Who knew, but both sides of the Scout debate have the same motto and slogan. We should probably now realize that what they’ve both been saying since the 1940’s is “Be prepared to do a good turn daily, because the world is going to get crazy and people will be weird, but someone still has to step up and sell cookies, salute the flag, deliver mulch, and help old ladies across the street. Scouts, it’s on you.

(thanks BuzzFeed for the photo)

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Really? Halloween Trees?!

halloweenOkay, I’m done. Just shoot me. I just found out that Halloween Trees are a real thing. All my hope for the future of humanity is gone and I’m devoid of a desire to go forward. There are actually people out there with way too much time and way, way too much disposable cash, all coupled with a twisted drive to prove they own a glue gun. What the heck has happened to just carving a pumpkin, stapling some cobwebs around the front door and calling it good?

Oh but wait! It gets better (and more expensive)! You can order your own 9-foot PRE-LIT Halloween tree for about $975 plus tax and shipping. It comes with purple and orange lights, all ready to be adorned with spooky… I don’t even know. Ornaments? This means, I’m going to guess here, that we should start seeing Halloween trees and the necessary accompanying decorations in stores some time right after Easter.

I can’t help but wonder: where is this coming from? Is Halloween having some kind of bizarre crisis of holiday gender identity? Is this a holiday that doesn’t want to be constricted by societal expectations of spooky fun and happy, costumed kids wanting candy but wants to explore its more Christmassy side? This is just weird.

And where does it stop? Will we have Fourth of July trees? Labor Day trees? We can’t have Columbus Day trees because there are folks that will think they should be Indigenous People trees. Will we need to decorate our Arbor Day trees with just more trees? You do see how this just opens up a virtual Pandora’s Box of wrongness, right?
This is, of course, a conspiracy. Big business craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s are obviously in cahoots with Pinterest and such to drive those poor souls afflicted with crafting skills into a buying frenzy. They’re planting this sick belief that you must over decorate for every occasion. How long before you have to put up your “I have a dentist appointment” tree?

Because I’m open-minded and tolerant of all things (HA!), I’ll point out the one benefit I see: I don’t have to ever put my Christmas tree back in the attic. I can decorate it for every possible holiday and just leave it in the living room until it rots.

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When I’m the Commish

mlb-logoI love baseball, from t-ball to Little League to college ball to the pros. Of course, with the Houston Astros in the World Series (insert squeal of excitement here), lots of people are loving baseball. But I even love baseball when the Astros can’t buy a win against the Iowa School for the Blind’s practice team. It is only as a result of this deep abiding love that I point out that there are some glaring, fundamental problems going on in the sport, problems I will straighten out when I become the next Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Okay, blah blah that there’s not an opening right now, but I fully expect to get the call to the bullpen to take over when word of my sweeping reforms and improvements gets out.

First order of business will be making the pitchers in the American League bat. No more of this silly designated hitter ho-haw. There is no reason why the pitcher can’t step up to the plate and hack away like the rest of the team. If you don’t want to be embarrassed that you can’t hit, take lessons or look for another job. This is, after all, BASEball where the objective is to run the bases. It’s not PITCHball. I’m sorry, Carlos Beltran, it’s not that we don’t love you, Sweetie. Remember, you’ve got a fine career ahead of you in coaching.

Next up to bat will be a dress code. I’m not going to nit-pick the small things like whether the pants are worn down to the cleats or pulled up to the knees, but I think it’s important the players look professional on the field at all times. That means no more of that long hair everywhere. Cameron Maybin, this means you. You’re a great addition to the team, and we’d like to keep you. But there’s only a spot there for you because we got rid of Colby Rasmus this year, most likely because he wouldn’t get a good clarifying shampoo and a haircut. As commissioner, I say get a cut or get cut! If they aren’t going to let girls play, then the boys who do play can’t look like girls.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be here with my peanuts and cold beer waiting for the next first pitch and my call up to the top of the big leagues! Let’s play ball! AND GO ‘STROS!

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