Time Travel

I'm thinking about time travel again. It's pretty much my go-to in terms of daydreaming. Sometimes I consider being the President of the United States but don't get very far - I just don't have the people skills required to sustain such fantasies.

If I could time travel I would definitely go back and pay my Netflix bill. This is something I would absolutely take care of. On the other hand if I paid my Netflix bill I wouldn't be sitting here thinking about time travel. I think this might create a scenario in which I can't tell if I paid my Netflix bill and am watching Bad News Bears again or if I didn't pay it but am traveling through time. I think this is called divergence, and it will eventually drive me insane. I'm not totally sure, I don't know how the entire thing works.

Time Travelling isn't about getting lost in the details, though. It's all about going back to the 1930's and investing $11 and then showing back up in 2012 to claim your billions and party on boats. Pure class. I don't always think about making myself a billionaire though, but that's mostly what I think about.

Sometimes I think about being kidnapped by scientists who tell me they have a secret assignment that only I am capable of. I ask them what it is. They act demure about the whole thing but tell me it's a matter of tremendous importance. I tell them I need a few more details before signing up for any shenanigans because the last time I signed a contract without understanding all the details was for a gym called Urban Active in Westlake, Ohio and they royally screwed me out of a substantial amount of money. They tell me it's nothing like that and I say good, because Urban Active in Westlake, Ohio totally sucks, and I wouldn't want to get involved with any organization run like Urban Active in Westlake, Ohio and wish the Plague upon those who do.

They say "Funny you mention the Plague.." and tell me they need me to travel back in time and prevent a few major calamities and save the human race. Why me? I'm still unclear on why I'm the man for the job, but when I day dream I don't mind skipping over a few details. I suppose if I were forced to tell you why it would be because of my striking good looks, an almost Buddhist approach to confrontation coupled with my intricate knowledge of kung fu and ability to kick ass without warning.

I tell them to sit and twist, I'm not the man for the job, but then I think about my ex-girlfriend. The dead one. She was the only woman I ever loved and I realize if they send me back in time I can prevent her from falling off that llama. I ask them if I can invest my $11. They tell me no. I accept the job regardless.

They stick me in the time machine and it looks exactly like you would imagine, only not as aerodynamic as you might think. I go back, kill Hitler, prevent the plague, and save my girl. All is well.

Or so I think.

When I get back to the "present" I find the world is overpopulated, the ozone completely depleted, and the human race spiraling into extinction. The scientists say "Oh boy, we really didn't think this through!" and I say yeah, no shit. They tell me they need me for one last assignment, I need to go back and undo what I've done. Now way buddy, I respond, and head underground to live with the rest of the mole people and prepare to meet death bravely.

Then I find out my ex girlfriend, who I saved from the llama accident, is dating the owner of Urban Active in Westlake, Ohio and going to have his children. Well, that won't stand one bit, so I go back to the scientists and tell them sure, I'll go back again. On two conditions; I get to invest my $11 and kill my ex girlfriend. They say no problem, in fact, in order to save the planet we need you to go back and figure out a way to kill a good portion of the human population. Like a billion, so the planet may survive.

Then I start day dreaming about how I would go back in time and inspire mass atrocities for the good of man kind. Damn, that escalated quickly.


Michele with one L

There are no agnostics among crazy people. It's either Jesus or Robots, one or the other promises to rain fire down from the sky.

I was thinking about this while a woman poked her finger aggressively at my chest as though we were in some imaginary sword fight I was ill prepared for. We were 10 minutes into the conversation and the only words I spoke were "Cleveland", "Chad", and "Hello."

I was audience to this display of rambling insanity because I made the mistake of smiling at an oldish woman power walking through the park. Smiling is something I don't often do, and when I do smile it seems to be at the most inappropriate times. Kind of like while standing at a public urinal and I think of something randomly funny that happened 5 years ago - a friend falling out of a chair or something - and I get this huge grin on my face and turn to look at the guy standing next to me as though I'm going to fill him in on some hilarious joke, except all he is doing is glaring at me and I suddenly realize we're both holding dicks in our hands and this isn't the right time to be smiling.

"And I'll tell you something else..." She was working up a good spittle now and I knew at any moment spit grenades would be lobbing down on me. "Everyone from Cleveland was upset about LeBron James leaving and don't get me wrong, I understand. I understand." She raised her hands and eyebrows in the way that informs you that while she understands how you feel, she wants you to understand why how you feel is wrong. "But you know what? If I were 25 years old like him I would do whatever I wanted to make me happy. It's his right to be happy. And you know who gives him the right to be happy?"

If she actually gave me any time to speak I would put forth Jesus as the answer she was looking for. She didn't pause for my opinion, though.

"GOD! God gives us all that is good and he should get down on his knees and thank God!" She got on her knees in raised her hands to the heavens.

I wasn't too far off with my Jesus guess. Vindication was mine.

She didn't make the appropriate level of eye contact required of sane people. She would take a step back, bend at the knees as though doing some form of karate, and start swinging her arms as punctuation to her words.

"You seem like a good boy. A bright boy. I have a nephew who is about your age who is just as bright...maybe even brighter." The change in the topic was jarring. She was moving closer to me know, invading my personal space, and I was afraid she was going to try licking me. "You may not be half as bright as my nephew but I'll bet you're twice as delicious!" **slurp!**

I smiled and nodded with what must have been a stupid, confused look on my face as my brain tried to process the compliment while simulataneously computing the likelihood of her nephew from Columbus being more intelligent than me.

There was a voice in my head similar to that of a frantic jet pilot whose plane just went into a spin. "Eject! Eject! Get out of this conversation! Politely excuse yourself! This is going nowhere!" But my legs and feet were rooted to the ground. I could not move for the life of me. I had to see where and when she would exhaust herself and let me go. She might be insane, but I was patient, and I wanted to know if she would wear herself down and pass out from a lack of oxygen due to not taking a breath during her diatribes or if she would whip herself into a frenzy and go running into the street making Daffy Duck noises. She was probably not accustomed to people listening to her for more than 5 minutes at a time and I wanted to see how much stamina for crazy she possessed. In hind sight, I can tell you, it was a lot.

"I'm single. And that's okay." She shot off in a new direction. But being single when you're a little older is a lot different than when you're young."

Oh shit, I hope she wasn't going to start hitting on me now. Mainly because of the obvious reasons involved with her being mentally unstable, but partly because I'm alone in a new city and I would be tempted by the entertainment. I could just imagine the sight of us through a coffee shop window, me sitting silently while she flailed her arms around and sent spit rockets into my mocha. Or us side by side at a movie theater, again me sitting quietly and her sending spit rockets into the popcorn. The longer I talked with her (or stood there while she talked at me) the more she started to resemble Daffy Duck and I had to stop envisioning the arc of our relationship before I got to our wedding night.

"I've only met one man lately who I have been interested in dating." Again with the 10 mile stare. "A man who was...up to my standards." And what exactly are those standards? "Must be capable of withstanding Acme Mallet to the head. Preferably unnaffected by falling piano's and anvils. MUST NOT DRESS AS GIRL BUNNY." 

"Not that he wanted to date me. No no no. He had a girlfriend. I certainly didn't want to be involved with that." My Michele with one L, she may be Daffy, but she's no home-wrecker. "You want to know what he told me?..."

She launched into an explanation of how Wall Street was driven by greed, punctuated with  more jumping, and leaping, and flailing of arms. Just when I thought she exhausted herself she threw herself into a new, completely unrelated explanation of attachment theory.

"I've been studying attachment theory since 2003." Studying anything for 8 years that doesn't result in writing a book or getting a PHD seemed fairly retarded. "And I thank God every day that my mother was there to cradle me as a baby." She showed me how her mother cradled her (and I was surprised to learn it wasn't by holding her upside down by her feet). "Because that's what develops your brain. And if my mother hadn't done that for me, if she would have just dropped me off on the doorstep...well my brain just wouldn't have developed the way it did." The irony of this statement left me dumbfounded with glee.

I raised my eyebrows and wanted to respond but I could only feel myself start to babble, which caused me to start laughing hysterically, which caused her to look at me like I was a deranged lunatic. This only caused me to start laughing harder.

"Well it was nice talking to you Chad but I really better be going." I had my hands on my knees and I thought I peed a little.

A confused look came across her face and I realized I knew I couldn't adequately explain why this was funny. She inched away from me, "You have enjoy the rest of your Holiday..." She eyed me suspiciously, all I could do was wave her off and continue laughing, I fell onto a nearby bench. Michele took a few steps back to get out of lunging distance.

The first human in 30 minutes other than Michele and I walked past, gripping the leash to her Golden Retriver tighter in her hand and moving to the opposite end of the sidewalk. I like to imagine Michele shrugged and gave the woman a look that said "Poor guy. Completely lost his mind just now."

And with that I realized I now seemed like the insane person. I looked at Michele with one L and said "Sufferin Succatash!" and starting laughing again, as I staggered across the street, into oncoming traffic.


Bed Time Stories

For a number of years I have had a love affair with books. While I sit in my favorite chair with a lamp illuminating the page and a cup of green tea poised ready a few inches in front of my face while my eyes scramble across the page, trying to take it all in as though if I don't read them fast enough they would disappear. The author has been dead longer than I have been alive, yet he may as well be seated right there, a glint in his eye, wondering which story is my favorite.

I can't remember how I came to truly love reading, but I do have fond memories of my third grade teacher, Miss. Hice, reading to the class every afternoon. After finishing each book she would write the name of the book on a boxcar cut from construction paper and put it on the wall. The boxcars linked up and by the end of the year a train stretched more than half the length of the room.

I looked forward to story time, yet something always felt a little off about the literature. It was like being in the middle of a conversation and trying to remember a word escaping you, and the harder you tried to make your friend understand and the more you flailed your arms, the crazier you seem to the people sitting around you. You can never win in these situations. You're always reduced to saying "You know what I mean! Come on. It's the thing! The one thing! You know, right!? Right!?" Your friend agrees with you, assures you she understands, and asks you to please be quiet, because a lot of people show up to Easter Mass and they're all staring, and Easter mass is the long one so any social discomfort you cause will only be exacerbated by the crawling minutes. No incense can help you here.Then, six weeks later, you wake up at quarter past four in the morning and call your friend, shouting "Hockey Puck! Hockey Puck!" until they hang up on you, never to answer your phone calls again.

Such was the state I have been in for the past 17 years, trying to understand what it is that bothered me so much about the stories read to us on those lazy afternoons after lunch, our bellies full of chocolate milk and jello cups. James and the Giant Peach. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Where the Wild Things Are. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Answers are sneaky little things. You can look and look and look, but the answer will elude you. Then, just after you've settled into bed and had a cup of chamomile, when your eyelids grow heavy and the brain can look forward to a little REM, the answer comes crashing into your head like an unpracticed High School Marching Band and sends you 4 feet into the air. These are always the times when it seems the pen you keep on your night stand, for these very moments, has been knocked under your bed forcing you to crawl around on your hands and your knees, lest you forget by morning.

The answer came to me much in the same way.

Nearly all children's stories are dark, twisted pieces of literature disguised by colorful drawings in order to infiltrate the minds of children and spawn evil. Pardon me if I seem a little melodramatic, it's just that the revelation was a long time coming and, if you've read this far, I wanted to make sure the juice was worth the squeeze.

It's not that I didn't enjoy James and the Giant Peach, it's just there is something to be said about a book where a boy is psychologically tortured by his two spinster Aunts after seeing his parents mauled and eaten by a rhinoceros that had escaped form the zoo. It doesn't sound as nice without the pictures, does it? James finally snaps and has a mental breakdown, resulting in the belief of floating around the world in a giant peach carried by seagulls. As a child I really like nothing more than to be reminded my parents could die a violent death at any moment.

Fortunately the author of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day could keep from writing about any murderous rampages. In fact, all the author set out to do was remind children that sometimes, no matter, what you do, nothing will go right in your life, you'll be blamed for things you didn't do, and go to bed hungry every night. In fact, the one thing the author, Judith Viorst, hates most about children it's the look of pure joy and happiness they have plastered on their stupid, innocent faces and Judith set out to wipe that smug look right off their beaks. This book is offensive on two levels. First, most regular kids don't even realize they have any major problems in life. It was all riding bikes and playing Nintendo for me, until I read this book and realized how awful a lot of life actually was. More importantly, what about the kid with real problems? What about the kid who comes from a broken home, where maybe Dad drinks too much and likes to smack him around? The one place this kid can find solace is in the safety of school and all of a sudden he has to listen to Alexander whine about going to the Dentist? How angry would you be if your parents neglected you and then part of Alexander's "Terrible" day was dropping his ice cream.

I won't stand for any of this. When I have children I am going to raise them right. I won't be reading them any terrifying bed time stories. Each night they will be lulled to sleep by the soft glow of Jersey Shore washing over their beautiful, innocent faces.


We Need More Chad's in the World

Hi there!

I'm Chad. You might remember me from every 80's romantic teen comedy movie you've ever seen. I didn't play a big role, but I was always present to some capacity.  The lead character of the movie, the guy you always rooted for, was a bit of an awkward dork who didn't stand out any way in particular and definitely didn't know his way around women. I was his anti-thesis. I was the tall, athletic, handsome guy who was popular and dated the most attractive girl in school. In short, I was awesome. Yet somehow, always the enemy.

Without fail I was depicted as the kind of guy you didn't want to be. It was so common, in fact, that the name Chad has become a bit of a joke and is typically used as a way to denegrate an individual. Isn't that nice? Being condescending like that? I'll bet it makes you feel very clever. It's also the basest form of humor and I hope you enjoy the laughs you get from putting other people down. Does that make you feel better about yourself?

Let's examine the circumstances for a moment.

I was the captain of the football, basketball, and soccer team. Sometimes, if the writer wanted  to mix things up, I would be the best at skiing.

He couldn't run because he had asthma.

I was nominated for Prom King.

He was overlord of dungeons and dragons.

He had to perform science experiments in order to magically create a woman to like him.

I dated real live girls that weren't born from test tubes.

I had six pack abs.

He had a botched circumciscion.

I know it seemed cute and sweet that he would sit silently in the back of class and write poetry in the back of his Hello Kitty notebooks but in real life it doesn't register that way. It goes from creepy to somewhat dangerous. 

In short, for all the jokes and laughs had at my expense, my life has been awesome. What do you think happened after I lost the big competition to the loser at the climatic scene in the film? Do you think I went home and washed down a bottle of valium with a quart of whiskey? No, I pulled my shit together and moved on because I'm a winner. Not some whining emo band geek desperate for people's love and affection.

Take a good, long hard look in the mirror, America. Who would you root for?