Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dress code is key to being taken seriously. It’s critical at job interviews, on dates, and with any first impression. It can make or break they way people perceive you. You don’t show up to an interview at a respected law firm in jean shorts and a cut-off t-shirt. You can’t go to the gym in wool pants and a winter coat. No one would think you’re actually the lifeguard if you sit atop your perch in a tuxedo. So imagine my confusion last Friday when I saw a performance by a rap group that featured lyrics about serious issues like government control, authority, murder, and death, rapped by one member who was wearing a pair of Crocs.

The group, Deaf Judges, were good. They performed before a midnight showing of The Shining and started their set by chopping through a fifteen-feet tall door (scrawled with REDRUM) with a cartoonishly big axe. The three rappers and DJ were animated and having fun, bounding around the stage while switching off carrying that huge axe. But those Crocs were magnets for my eyes. It was like noticing a disgusting mole with a full head of hair and a braided ponytail on someone’s upper lip: Once you realize it’s there you can’t see anything else. I shouldn’t judge this guy based solely on his footwear, but it made it a little difficult to take him seriously with his lyrics about death. The most lethal thing you can do in Crocs is piss in the pool.

If this guy were to commit a crime in his Crocs, it wouldn’t be difficult to trace him, since the police would just have to track down the six individuals in the state who own a pair of Crocs larger than a deck of cards. Maybe the suspect pool isn’t even that big. The detectives may not even need to know the size. “Crocs, huh? Well, it’s either a toddler or the guy from Deaf Judges.”

I’m not an expert on street cred, but I would suggest this guy look to the rappers who have come before him for advice. We never saw Eazy-E in footie pajamas. Biggie Smalls didn’t cruise around in a VW Bug. 50 Cent didn’t get shot nine times with a Nerf gun. Perhaps a pair of sneakers is in order.

If I have a kid and he ever wants Crocs, I’ll know I have failed as a parent. I’ll strap two egg cartons to his feet with a pair of rubber bands and send him off to live with bears or wolves. Any lifestyle but the one that lead him to desire Crocs would be an improvement. Since Crocs are so popular, why don’t we modify the Crocs factories to manufacture a whole wardrobe of injection-molded foam pants, shirts, hats, and jackets? Each will be available in a variety of solid colors and everyone who wears them will be stiff-limbed characters come to life from a five year-old’s drawing of his family. But they’ll be happy, since the outfit cost nine dollars and can be washed with the garden hose once a week.

I really shouldn’t knock this guy and his Crocs, considering I wore New Balance sneakers with my suit to prom. I was extremely comfortable, agile, and prepared to sprint (had a relay racer desperately searching for the next baton-holder come dashing through the dance floor) the whole time. But at least they looked like normal shoes. With Crocs, the exchange of comfort for social acceptance is like if the world’s most comfortable and cozy jacket had a huge, graphic photograph of Fidel Castro decapitating a koala bear printed on it. It might look great at the Cannibal Corpse concert, but don’t wear it to the library.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some things happened at Kroger last week.

Daniel and I were browsing the cereal aisle when a masculine, gray-haired man walked up and put a box of Fiber One back on the shelf. He looked at Daniel and me and offered this unsolicited information: “Even with the coupon, it’s too much. One box is just two meals for me. I like big portions.” When he said “big portions” he gestured with his hands a plate about the size of a raccoon. I nodded in agreement, because the Fiber One is expensive, although this guy could probably cut down on his weekly food bill by consuming human-sized amounts. I think the serving size of Fiber One for a bear is half a box. If he’s concerned about his finances, then he especially needs to watch his intake, since toilet paper spending is directly related to Fiber One spending and that’s going to add up fast. He could also welcome some side dishes into his life. One bowl of cereal, no matter if you’re eating it out of a bathtub like that guy, can’t be a meal. Maybe he could pair his half-boxes with a dozen apples or a pillowcase full of grapes to round out the meal.

I did like that he gave us a detail about his life for just a nod in return. I’d like to do that when I’m old. I’ll look at kids and say, “The apples here are good, but I can’t eat them anymore because they make me turn into a lizard.”

There are stands of impulse-buys flanking the self-checkout registers loaded with gum, magazines, and Betty and Veronicas no one has ever considered purchasing. They’re items that are cheap, small, and easy to toss into your cart at the last second. But Kroger decided to try something crazy in the impulse-buy game that blew me away. Perched on top of two registers, demanding attention and begging to be bought, were two prickly pineapples. Full-sized, still-spiky, five-dollar pineapples.

Who sees those and thinks, “Man, you know, I really could go for some pineapple today. On the drive home I’ll get out my sharp knife, cut off the rind, slice it, towel off the juice before it ruins the upholstery, and put it into my mouth just as I’m about to drive into oncoming traffic because I was distracted by preparing that pineapple.”

I bet someone did buy one of those pineapples on impulse and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’m happy for them. But for now I will continue to speculate.

There was a cereal box titled (are cereal box titles italicized?) Low Fat Granola: Crispy Whole Grain Cereal Without Raisins.

“Without Raisins” was part of the title. Chill out, box, no one assumed you were packing raisins. I never knew marketing was so easy. Just point out what your product doesn’t contain. Here are a few items that could try this strategy.

Cheese Pizza: Without Pepperoni
New Dell Inspiron Laptops: Without Mushrooms Growing Inside
Super Soaker 6000X: Without any Hamsters
Shutter Island: Not Directed by Sigourney Weaver

That was my wild and crazy time at Kroger last week. Nothing so far this week has been so insane.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I saw an old man’s nude rear end today. I know you’re thinking, “Well of course you did, Matt, if your Internet history is any indication you see a dozen of those every five minutes.” But the one I saw today, a round, hairy, leathery mass, was right in front of me, very much in the flesh. There was nothing I could do to avoid it. It was like when you get ambushed in a magazine by that ad with the kids with the deformed lips. Except instead of a still image, this guerrilla attack (gorilla attack, based on the amount of hair) was alive and in front of me. And it was peeing at the same time.

Let me rephrase. The rear end wasn’t peeing. That would have been fascinating to watch, and if this old man’s digestive system had mutated itself its very own cloaca, where all of his body’s waste processing was done out of one reptilian hole, then bravo to him and he should be free to show that thing off whenever he pleases. But that wasn’t the case. This man was using the urinal in the gym bathroom and for whatever reason his pants and underpants were lounging at his ankles, seeming to be on a much-needed vacation from the day-to-day stress of his waist. There are a few potential innocent reasons he did this. Maybe he was extremely hot or had a fever only in his ass. Maybe he was smuggling a few non-members into the gym and they were ready to climb out. Maybe he was recently in a grizzly car accident and had his windpipe re-routed to merge with his rectum and it’s difficult to breathe with the pants up.

Those explanations seem fishy. I suspect this was a deliberate move. There are multiple ways to prepare the penis for peeing that do not require the pants to completely evacuate the scene. You can go over the undies and through the hole (to grandmother’s house we go) in the pants, through the undies hole and the pants hole, out the side of the undies and through the hole, or all of those undie method and over the pants. It might even be more socially acceptable to wet your pants than it is to expose your fuzzy glutes to an unwilling audience.

If this man had been six years old or younger, his behavior would be okay. When boys are in that range, they’re still curiously exploring the uncharted world of public bathrooms, discovering what new treasures and monuments await, and consulting the experienced users on what to do. They’re conquistadors on the hunt for fresh porcelain. I remember a kid in my first grade class dropping his pants to the floor and sitting in the urinal to take a dump in it. Obviously he didn’t think it through. There’s no toilet paper around, and if you flush, the back of your shirt’s gonna get a nice even soaking of toilet water. But he just saw a big white thing with water in it and identified it as a perfect receptacle for his poop. He gets a free pass because he was six. This sixty-five year old guy is a different story.

When I wrecked my car when I was sixteen I had to take an eight-hour defensive driving class. The guy who mooned me should have to take a two-hour How to Piss class. We’d just go over a few basic steps. One: Aim. Two: Pee. Special Note: Don’t show anyone your butt cheeks. It’s not like this guy didn’t know what he was doing. He was definitely a seasoned veteran and his confident stance proved it. He held his hands on his hips, looking like either a proud ruler surveying his newly conquered lands (and peeing on them), or a bored tourist waiting on the people in the cruise’s buffet line to move forward (and peeing on them). That’s not the stance a rookie takes. I imagine someone post-gender switch, standing in the hospital bathroom operating his gear for the first time (after reading the user manual and analyzing countless sixth-grade health book schematics) hangs on with the death grip used by the handlers of venomous snakes, trying his hardest to tame the wily creature and make sure it doesn’t spill anything.

This guy, though, was in control and free as a bird. When he finished he pulled up his sweatpants and walked right out as if nothing had happened. As if no one had seen anyone’s ass in there. Maybe he wanted me to see his rear. Maybe he wanted someone else to see his rear, as a signal that he did his part in a drug deal (“If my ass is bare, the cash is there”). I didn’t identify the guy beyond the two hairy hams that constituted his behind (being mooned is like looking at a flashbulb when it goes off—the rest of the scene is at best a haze) and I don’t think I’ll ever find out why he dropped his pants to the ground. But on the bright side I can be thankful that he was peeing in that urinal and not trying to poop in it, so I didn’t have to see either of his elderly balls.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Tricking Taylor Swift into Falling in Love with You and then Dumping Her is a Public Service

It’s pretty simple. Taylor Swift is going to run out of songwriting steam real soon. She’s not in high school anymore and she isn’t a sweet and innocent small-town girl. She’s a Grammy-winning multi-platinum millionaire. Regular guys like Stephen (from “Hey Stephen”) or the one from “Teardrops on My Guitar” don’t have much a chance of breaking her heart anymore. Now she dates celebrities. Any love song she writes from now on will sound like bullshit. If she tries to sound relatable, you’ll just go, “Fuck you, Taylor Swift. Don’t try to make me empathize with you because Taylor Lautner banged Jennifer Love Hewitt behind your back. Get back in your private jet and see if Saks Fifth Avenue has any genuine problems in stock.”

But I don’t want that to happen. Ms. Swift has proven herself to be incredibly good at pumping out quality jams, as long as a real guy has recently crushed her soul, and those jams provide happiness to millions of listeners around the world. So here’s my plan. Someone needs to move to California and get a job at her mansion or estate or multi-island compound or whatever. Mow her lawn or something. Just make sure it’s a real “regular guy” job. Get to know her, working on the relationship very slowly. Just say hi to her when you pass for a few months. Then one day, tell her she looks good or whatever. I don’t know, just pull something out of your ass that sounds nice. Based on her two albums, she fell in love with about fifteen different dudes throughout high school, so it can’t be that hard to impress her.

Then one day leave a rose on her doorstep and a special letter about how she makes you feel. At this point she will fall in love with you, mainly because she’s in her fame-rebellion phase and is done with dating celebs, and you’re this sort of forbidden fruit as well as a grounded tie to her pre-fame days. Romance her for a year. Lots of fancy dates, romantic gestures, missionary-position intercourse. Make her really fall for you.

Then, the day before Valentine’s Day (after weeks of promising her she’s in for an amazing surprise (make her think you’re going to propose to her)), fuck Jennifer Love Hewitt. Take a cell phone picture of the act and send it to everyone on your contacts list.

That’s all there is to it. You move back home to continue your life, and in approximately seven to nine months, Taylor will bless us with a fresh album of quality songs straight from her destroyed heart. The world will appreciate your effort.