What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I know you’ve been there. In the shower. At a friend’s house. Staring at the shampoo bottle. Wondering whether to risk it.

Because shampoo is, in fact a rather delicate affair. Use some brands, and you could end up itching and scratching your scalp until your pillow is flaked with white dandruff and your quilt looks like Alaska in December. Use other stuff, and you could end up slinking your way through work and school, imagining all the things the unwitting passerby thinks of your hair—greasy, slick, unkept. Or maybe they’ll think the sheen is gel. One can only hope.

Shampoos are sensitive materials. They are mixed and boiled in secret factories, formed from all kinds of exotic chemicals and tested on cute animals. They are scented and textured and empowered to mysteriously dissolve all the gunk in your sweaty, shaggy crop. There are a million gazillion kinds, from the most acidic, reeking liquids to the hippie, healthfood solutions, complete with Jojoba Oil.

There is, for example, baby shampoo. Unlike many other shampoos, it smells good, because babies are supposed to be sweet. (No sarcastic comments allowed here.) There is also nutrient-rich cream shampoo, the kind that restores your damaged hair. Often, its bottle features a picture of a damaged strand of hair, sort of like a fraying rope, and a healthy strand of hair that looks like a glorified shoelace. And then there are the conditioner-shampoo blends, and the dandruff-removing kind that “soothes and moistens a dry scalp,” and the special concoctions specially designed for dyed hair, bleached hair, dry hair, wet hair, and dog hair. (That last one is just an educated guess, of course. I do not pamper my dog.)

Yes, as I’ve said, you’ve been there, in the shower faced with choices beyond your ken. Or if you haven’t, I have. It’s not a rosy situation, but believe me, there are worse, especially for college derelicts. Actually, fastidiousness is not the most common reaction of a college male staring at articles of hygiene. The most common response is complete oblivion. Take, for example, this morning. There were bottles on a ledge. I grabbed one, and lathered my hair. There was a funny citrus scent, but I liked it, so I didn’t pay any attention. Then, in the nick of time, just as I was about to turn the faucet off, I glanced at the bottle. Lo and behold, it was labeled “shower gel.”

But even then, there was a bottle involved. There are also the days of a silenced alarm clock, a jump out of bed twenty minutes late, a hurried, frantic shower in which the water is either too cold or too hot and the soap bar falls so you have to grovel around on the floor after it while it flees from your fingertips, and a despairing yell as you realize that you forgot your towel in the bedroom and there’s no one to go and fetch it. Then, once you’re dressed and shaved and brushed and settling into your car with the news on the radio, you glance into the mirror and a dark wave of suspicion sneaks over you. You start the engine and speed down the road. Your watch says you’ll make it, but gathering courage, you stick your fingers in your hair. It’s true—you forgot to use shampoo (or, in worse case scenario, you forgot to rinse). Now the choice is between driving back to re-shower, and hanging around in the back of the classroom, shrinking from social contact in the halls, and eating lunch alone, mortified at your greasy locks.

Maybe they’ll think the sheen is gel. One can only hope.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Entitlement Diva

The first day of fall semester had seventy-five students crowded into a room with only fifty chairs. Apparently the class was more popular than available and students lined the walls and even stood next to the white board facing the class, as if physical presence would get them a place on the roster. I'd arrived at the room a tad early and managed to secure a resting place for my tush while more students tried to squeeze in through the door like sardines pining after the tin. I was happy with my seat in that it wasn't so close to the front that the professor could see my notes (he might not understand the humor), but it was not so far back that I had swap spitballs with the drug dealers.

I was happy with my seat, until I discovered the place immediately in front of me. Whereas all the other desks in the classroom had hard soviet-issue metallic seats that seemed, like rabbit, to get tougher over time, this chair was nicely upholstered and actually looked plush. It wasn't elegant, but it wasn't my Kremlin model either. I looked around the room and, when the coast appeared clear, I picked up my books and backpack and jumped to the seat ahead.

No sooner had I settled in and allowed my body's weight to rest against the plush seat did I see the Entitlement Diva. She entered the room as if she owned it, elbowing aside a couple of thinner males who were plastered to the wall like a decorative molding. Her target destination was unmistakable: she was headed straight for my seat.

Entitlement Diva's walk managed to be confident, yet totally unattractive. She moved with the plodding determination of a musk ox and dressed stylishly enough, but it was her eyes that made her eerie. The Diva's eyes looked frightened. They glanced furtively around the room as if the other students were a threat. When we made eye contact, she held my gaze for a second before looking at the floor. Then, gaining resolve, she looked at me with a demand on written on her face.

"You are sitting in my chair."

I looked closely at the desk for the first time. It appeared to be a standard construction, college-issue desk. Nowhere was a name or "reserved" sticker stamped to the top and there were no books or personal belongings of the Diva under the seat. Maybe I hadn't heard her right.

"Excuse me?" I used my John Edwards smile.

"Look behind the seat, genius." I appreciated her compliment and turned to look at the back of my plush chair - or her plush chair, the pronouns get dicey. There, in bold block lettering, read: ADA Priority.

I may be a social nincompoop, but I am familiar with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which required a number of access changes to public buildings, offices and schools around the country. Apparently this desk was designed for the invalid, those who would not be able to operate in the Soviet desks. I understood and was willing to give up my desk, if indeed the recipient of my charity was disabled.

"What is your disability?" My question sounded innocent, but I was pulling a little bit of a fast one on Entitlement Diva. You see, the ADA failed to what a "disability" is, leaving interpretation to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, other regulatory agencies and the courts. There were a couple of conditions that were specifically banned as "disabilities" such as transvestitism, kleptomania and pyromania but, for the most part, there was no clear guidance. While she didn't look like a transvestite, I thought she might be overpronouncing her handicap. In my experience, most of the occupants of the ADA chairs were either very obese or very pregnant. Diva was neither of these. My trap laid, I waited for the Diva's answer.

"I don't have to tell you." I hadn't read that far. Maybe, I thought, she was referencing the HIPAA privacy provisions. Oh, she was tough. If only I were better informed on health legal issues!

I nodded my assent, an expression of defeat, and wondered what manner of vile disability had struck this woman to make her look so normal but to leave her her so wanting. Fortunately, the chair behind me was still available and I returned to my previous metallic home.

The Diva was silent as she settled into her pre-warmed seat and dug through her backpack for a pen. Apparently, she had forgotten to bring a notebook, because she turned to me and said authoritatively: "I need some paper."

I had paper, but those precious few sheets were supposed to be used to record timeless notes, like this one. Maybe she figured I owed her a sheaf or two as "rent" for my use of her seat. I didn't ponder for too long, but tore a couple of pages from the back and extended them her way.

"The edges are frayed," the Entitlement Diva said pointing to where the spiral binding had torn away the paper. I creased the pages over the factory-serrated separation line and tore off a quarter inch of defaced paper. Maybe, I figured, her disability rendered this simple motor task impossible. I felt sympathy for her condition.

"Good," the Diva said by way of thanks, taking the pages from my hand and turning around to face the professor who had just entered the room. After a roster check, which took over a half hour and left me sprawled distractedly in my seat thinking about girls, the professor asked us to open our books to the first lesson. Diva didn't have her book, a fact she announced to the entire class. The professor ignored her news bulletin, but the Diva's neighbor generously offered to share her copy of the text.

Apparently the two feet of space between Entitlement Diva and her neighbor was too far to crane over. Without warning or a glance for possible obstruction, she lifted her chair several inches off the ground and helicoptered to the left, smashing the ADA priority leg into the nail of my big toe. I inhaled sharply and tried unsuccessfully to stifle a yelp. I could feel the nail slide off the top of my toe and felt warm moisture collect on my sock. The pain was intense and hard to ignore.

"I'm sorry," the Diva apologized! "You shouldn't have your leg in my space," she added by way of pedagogy. As much as I appreciated her advice, I was in no mood for a lesson in spheres of sovereignty.

"I'm fine," I lied to the gentleman sitting behind me, a lie I knew I would have to repeat for several days.

During a break in lecture, I set up a study group with an old friend and a platinum blond from the back row. As soon as we had agreed on a meeting time, Diva, who had snuck up behind me during the calendar negotiations, announced that she was available during that time block and that she would be part of our study group. As if to will her away, we ignored her. Diva took our silence as assent and marched away. When I thought she was out of earshot, I set about changing the meeting time.

We were all consulting our electronic day planners, trying to find another day that would work when I felt the Diva behind me. I'd been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. Diva place her hands on her hips and raised her eyebrows. Her accusatory posture stood in contrast to her scared, rapidly darting eyes. She said nothing.

That's when I apologized. The words started slowly and hesitantly at first, but then became a steady stream of self-depreciation. Soon a torrent of humble begging flowed from my mouth as I did everything but cry for mercy. Then I did start crying. Tears filled by eyes and overflowed down my cheeks, making a beeline for the floor. I buckled, falling to my knees and grasping the Diva by the legs. Would she ever find it in herself to forgive me? Please?

With the entire class' attention secured, Diva looked smug. She nodded to me - the first sign of approval she had ever extended my way - and said "that's better." Then she turned around and walked out the door.

It's going to be a long semester. And I'm already dreading tomorrow's study group.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A shopping trip

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise,” said Franklin, Benjamin (In honor of the Olympics, names have been organized the Chinese way. This is, however, not an endorsement of the situations in Tibet or Taiwan or an approval of China's human rights record). Having performed a detailed cost/benefit analysis on the proposition, I can state with authority that health, wealth, and wisdom are not worth it. There are hours of the day when no one ought to be awake. Or, I should say, hours of the night; the day does not start until the sun is fully risen and is so high in the sky that no one can doubt its position.

Who are we to question the habits of the sun?

Alas, this very questioning - a capital offense in the Inca cultures - is what I was cruelly obliged to do one very early morning a few days ago. Sunflower Market had its grand opening. Sunflower Market! Fruits and vegetables! Fish and sushi! Healthfood! What self-respecting starving student could resist (insert snigger mark here)? So I rolled groggily out of bed, stared curiously for a minute at the power plug beneath my window, splashed water in my face (at least I think it was water), and stumbled down the stairs to the car. Yesterday's paper said there was to be a free bag of groceries for each of the first two hundred people at the doors, and I, according to my mom and grandparents, would be one of those people ("You will be one of those people, Chip!"). There was no time, a stern announcement warned, for coffee, breakfast, or even email before we took off down the road ("There is no time, Chip!"). This was a race. The morning air was dark and cool—like batman, but different—and the construction workers were barely starting work. Even the the streetlights seemed sleepy as they cast rays that were barely brighter than the sun. I yawned ("Chip, why are you yawning?"). The grand opening was not until seven. There was no way anyone else could be up this early.

Then we pulled up to the store's parking lot. Apparently, I had no idea how valuable groceries really are. The nearest empty parking space was about a mile from the store's doors. A crowd of hippies, yuppies, druggies, SDFs, urban outdoorsmen, vagrants and college professors extended from the doors to the nearest parking spot. And near the doors a troupe of cheerleaders chanted “Sunflower Market! Sunflower Market!” Mais oui, mais oui!Perhaps this trip wasn't a complete waste after all.

We parked our car and began elbowing our way through. I yawned again. Finally, we reached the entrance. “Is there a line to get in?” A yuppie gazed back at us mournfully. “No. The first two hundred people got here a long time ago.”

Obviously it was time to leave. We'd been beaten. Agincourt was over and we were the French. But the mom and grandparents begged to differ ("Chin up, Chip!"). They milled around happily with the other shoppers, drinking from little paper cups of free coffee, eating the free oranges piled outside and comparing Volvo stories.

Despite the fact that I was already outside, I needed air. I decided to go on a jog. Even exercise is better than certain situations. And it so happened that, after a quarter mile or so, I found something even better than exercise: McDonald’s. McDonald’s sells huge, greasy hunks of Southern-fried chicken in breakfast sandwiches, guaranteed to start your day the heavy, nauseated way. I used a cup of McDonald’s coffee to make the provisions palatable. There was nothing to make the coffee palatable.

There’s something about having chicken for breakfast—an uncouth, startling feeling that can only be compared to choking on a fishbone. Even if you’ve never choked on a fishbone, you can imagine what it feels like. (If you can't imagine, a demonstration can be arranged.) First, you notice that something has gone wrong in your throat. Something has jarred the comfortable, salivated muscles that you just used to savor a bite of food. Then, you realize that something has gone wrong in your stomach. It is in communication with the throat exactly the way married couples aren't, and evidently feels some empathy (same analogy). Finally, you jump in alarm as your stomach and throat combine forces to begin a revolt.

Like most revolutions, this one is motivated more by impulse than reason. If you’ve piled your plate high with fried strips of pork fat or bitten into the mound of melting, oozing sausage, eggs, and cheese that is called the McMuffin, you have done something very disgusting for the morning hour. It is only conventionally disgusting, however. It takes extra nerve and extra tastelessness to eat something that disturbingly disgusting. Or it takes a free coupon, which is what I had. Free chicken sandwiches are of course superior to free groceries.

After quelling the revolt, I returned to the store. Much to my chagrin, the cheerleaders were gone, but so were the crowds of people, and my family was ready to leave with several bags of fresh (though not free) produce. A shopping trip is a shopping trip, after all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fine. The Funny is Back.

I thought I'd have the self-control to leave FCN for good. I have principles you know!

Okay let me try that again.

I thought I'd have the self-control to leave FCN for good.

There. That's a much better start.

The fact is, the last three months were utter [lasagna]. I managed to keep the days full but there was just something missing. I often layed awake at night wondering things. Most of them had nothing to do with FCN. You know - zebras, the Egyptians - that sort of thing. But every now and then, I had a spasm. It went something like:

spasm"I have an FCN post!"/spasm

Said spasms just kept getting worse. Last night it was really bad. It was more like:

spasm"[Cranberries]! I need to write a post right now or I'll [flake] my [potato]!!"/spasm

Well, you've all flaked your potatoes at one time another, so you know how painful that can be. I knew drastic measures were in order. I had three options:

1. Join rFCN.
2. Start the FCN Zombies blog.
3. Go back to FCN and beg for forgiveness.

Option one involved tracking down the rFCN email address. Option two involved some level of technical competence. Number three was clearly my ticket.

We had a conference last night. I'll give you the short summary: there were spatulas. Owie. But we're good now. I even made up with Chip, who's a lazy rotten small-creature-infested scumbag, so that's really saying something. The team agreed to let me go back to the usual posting schedule, whatever that means. And I got my old position and pay back, whatever THAT means. I mean what the [petunias].


I'm back. I know, it's pretty small news next to Chip getting official last week. But it's true. I'm back. I'm only slightly more bitter and cynical than I was when I left. And I'll get started right away supplying the ... content you've come to expect from this blog. [Hurray]! Effective immediately, F is back!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Let's take a long ride

Her name was Cherise. Chester had seen her at school and picked up her name from the campus directory, a behavior a friend of his said sounded a lot like stalking. Equipped with her name, Chester located her Facebook page and viewed every one of the 538 pictures that she'd been tagged in. She was attractive, with a trim figure and boyish cut brunette hair. Chester sometimes wondered at Cherise's fashion - the rolled up jeans look really didn't work for her - but he was intrigued by this young "Bronx Babe," as her profile billed her.

Chester looked up his "mutual friends" list and noticed that Harold, a chemistry student with the social life of an invalid, was on her friends list. Cherise only had 124 friends, so Chester figured Harold probably knew Cherise pretty well. Chester gave Harold a call.

"Harold, it's me, Chess." Chester tried to remember how he knew Harold.


"Chess...Chester, you know, from the thing at the place with the guy with the, you know, nail gun?"

"Oh that Chester...dude are you okay?" Harold remembered.

Chester artfully found out Harold was going to an issue advocacy meeting on campus later that week and that Cherise would probably be there. Chester invited himself and then started reading up on animal rights. Chester didn't know how he got roped into these things.

At the PETA meeting, between disturbingly graphic portrayals of slaughter houses and animal innards, Chester made Cherise's acquaintance. Harold played his part well ("Hey, Cherise, there's someone I'd like you to meet") and Chester made a mental note to bring his friend a cafeteria bagel in thanks. Chester and Cherise hit it off well and, by the time Chester had agreed to attend a protest rally at Foster Farms, the two had a date.

For all the planning that Chester put into his meeting with Cherise, he had forgotten to think about where he would ask her out. He didn't want to do dinner, since he was an avid meat lover and couldn't imagine a dinner out without a bloody slab. On the fly, he settled on a dance he'd read about in the newspaper. It wasn't anything formal; just a themed dance somewhere in the boondocks. Cherise intoned that she was from New York and didn't know the area very well. Chester bluffed, telling Cherise that he knew the surrounding hills almost as well as he knew the Backstreet Boys, which was "saying something." Chester spent the rest of the evening living down his admission and denying he actually listened to boy bands.

The next day Chester called Harold.

"Har, what does she like?" Chester had to pump his friend for information about his date in two days.

"Who?" It sounded like Harold just woke up.


"No, who is this?"

"Harold, it's me, Chess." Chester was irritated; surely Harold could remember his old friend.


"Chess...Chester, you know, from the thing at the place with the guy with the, you know, nail gun?"

"Oh that Chester...dude are you okay?" Harold remembered.

"Why wouldn't I be okay? So what does Cherise like?" Chester wanted to keep the conversation focused.

"She doesn't like the Backstreet Boys, you dork." Harold was now very much awake.

Chester learned from Harold that Cherise was a quiet soul who cared for the helpless and would want to see a quiet but fun evening. Chester knew he could arrange that.

The night of the date came and Chester picked up Cherise outside her townhouse. Chester had been to this particular dance hall once before, but had been asleep in the backseat during the drive. He thought he remembered the way. He turned out onto the main highway and started driving. The road looked familiar, but Cherise's crinkled brow lead him to question his memory. It had been pretty deep sleep...

"You okay, Cherise?" Chester thought that maybe Cherise's discomfort was unrelated to his disorientation.

"Are you sure you know the way?" Cherise had a confidence in her voice that let Chester know she knew the answer.

"Uh, yeah. It's further up ahead, on the left. As I said, I've been here before and..." Chester let his voice trail off when he noticed a sheet of paper that Cherise pulled from her purse. It was mapquest. His date had mapquested the directions after Chester had explicitly said he knew the way! Where was the respect in that?

Following Cherise's directions, Chester turned his car around and arrived at the dance twenty minutes late. As they were getting out of the car, Chester asked to see the Mapquest paper. Cherise handed it over.

"Do you trust me?" Chester had an idea.

"Sure, I guess. C'mon this is a first date, remember?" Cherise didn't know what to think and gasped as Chester tore up the paper and lit a match beneath the torn pieces. The flames licked up and turned to ashes any way the two of them had of returning home. Chester explained that he remembered the road clearly and would not need directions to go home. His theory would be tested in a few short hours.

After the dance, Chester and Cherise piled into the car. Chester noted with some concern that the fuel light was on as he put his ride into gear and started back down the main road. For the first half hour, while Chester tried various side roads to "jog" his memory, the pair chatted amicably about the evening. Cherise was very adept at the Charleston and had taught Chester a couple of new dance moves. Chester laughed at Cherise's story of her first dance lesson in New York, but their conversation trailed off as the time ticked by. Soon they were accompanied only by the hum of the engine and the friction of the wheels against the road. Cherise's brow crinkled again.

"Highway 49 -- I think that was the road," she said. Chester turned in his seat to look at her and his face carried a clear message: I know.

"How long has your fuel light been on?" Cherise was both helpful and curious. Chester didn't answer but continued driving. There had to be a gas station around here somewhere!

Forty-five minutes after they left the dance, Cherise thought to check her cell phone. As soon as she flipped open the screen, the display said "battery dead" and went black. Chester had left his phone charging by his bed and had intended to rely on Cherise's mobile. His car charger didn't match her feminine model and the two were incommunicado.

"Boy, these country evenings are sure pretty, aren't they?" Asked Chester, trying to lighten the mood.

"Maybe we should stop and ask someone or flag down a car; why don't you have GPS? Why did you tear up the mapquest? Why didn't you fill up the tank or bring your cell phone?" Cherise was losing it. Chester was good at these things. He could tell when someone was losing it. Chester wanted to ask Cherise why she hadn't charged her phone and why she chose to go to a dance with a no-good like him, but he feared the answer to the second question and kept silent.

An hour after leaving the dance, Chester saw his first glimpse of wildlife. A deer was crossing the road and Chester slowed down to get a better look.

"Hey, it's Bambi." Chester didn't know why he said that or why Cherise said "aw" but he figured the moment had been a success.

"Maybe we should turn around," Chester announced after an hour and fifteen minutes. He could feel his car losing power and wanted to get closer to civilization in case his vehicle died.

"No, this actually looks familiar," said Cherise taking control. "Your turn is another mile on the left. If you'd driven straight instead of turning onto side roads all the time, we would have been there by now. This whole drive has been miserable. I wish I'd gone to see Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 instead of agreeing to this rigmarole. Just take me home."

Cherise's words cut, but Chester didn't let on. He just drove. He, too, considered the merits of SOTTP2 and wondered if that would have been a better choice. Chester made a mental note to not mention the movie or the "rigmarole" comment to his guy friends. When he got back to the townhouse, Chester tried to say goodbye to Cherise as she stepped out of the car. Cherise turned to Chester and hesitated. Her face showed a conflict of emotion. She was the sweet, quiet type, but Cherise was also mad. After a beat, when both of them said nothing, Cherise spoke:

"You asked me earlier if I trust you." Another beat. Chester didn't like where this was going. "I was wrong. I'm sorry." The image of Cherise turning around to sprint to her townhouse is seared in Chester's mind.

That was three days ago. Chester has not spoken to Cherise or Harold since.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chip, FCN Few; FCN Few, Chip

Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, androgynies and undecideds:

FCN has officially expanded and, for once, we aren't talking about our waistlines. After much hee-hawing, negotiating and threats, we managed to get a brand new writer to agree to join our team. It was our Bannister moment, our scaling of Everest and life accomplishment. Yes, faithful few, with this accolade to pin to our collective vest and dust nightly, we have nothing further to accomplish. We have climbed the ladder, sailed the sea and pumped the gas. This is, without a doubt, the third proudest moment in FCN history (behind, of course, the naissance of rFCN and our 366th post). But enough hype. Today we welcome into our fold our fourth contributor, Chip, as an official member of the FCN team.

Rather than pontificate on the credential and caliber of our new member - an activity we will leave for y'all in the comment section - we devote the remainder of this self-aggrandizing post to a first person account from the one and only Chip:

Hello all. I am Chip. No need to get up, I'll just make myself comfortable. Thank you. Tea with lemon, please. And a scone, if you have one. I am proud of my name. You could say I am one off the old block, except that the old block is just a pack of derelicts anyway, which is not much to speak of, and I am in fact a delinquent, which is even less to speak of and not something I would want to make the old block responsible for. That's a silly pun anyway. Besides, I share my name with my favorite food, a happy coincidence that has contributed both to my delinquency and my belt size. You could say I'm a potato Chip, not a micro Chip. Only, don't.

Having been honored with permanent FCN status, the least I can do is offer a few suggestions regarding how to solve the havoc I've caused. You are aware of course that FCN is an acronym, not only for the original contributors’ names, but for the title of their website. Funny Class Notes. That is a clever, descriptive appellation that fits nicely into a url. Unfortunately, my arrival upsets the equilibrium. What should the new name be? Funny Class Note Chips (FCNC)? Chipped Funny Class Notes (CFCN)? Funny Chip Class Notes (FCCN)? Funny Class Chip Notes (FCCN)? Class Chip Notes Funny (CCNF)? Class Funny Notes Fun Chip Ssalc Seton Pich Class Ynnuf Ynuff Ynuff! (CFNFCSSPCYYY!)?

I don’t know about you, but all of these seem to miss the sweet spot - like Jessica Simpson's "music." So my proposal is this: Keep the name as it is, but in your heart, in that bosom place that we just don't talk about at parties, think of my visage as the figurehead of FCN. They have the name, but I've got the face. That will uphold both the site’s prestigious name and the dignity of yours truly. Not that I am blessed with any great reserve of dignity—but I would appreciate the gesture, all the same.

Plus, my mom always told me I was a handsome man. Maybe I can improve on the current looks of the FCN team.

As homage to me and as a way to make up for not including my name in the blog's title, I ask that my fellow contributors use the word "Chip" at least four times in every post, as well as in the exact middle of every post. Doing so would increase post size by exactly 0.5% on average, or if they so choose, reduce the effort of writing a post of normal length by the same percentage. You see, I usually write posts about 800 words long. Adding four instances of “Chip” would make it possible to increase my word count by four, which is 0.5% of 800. Thank you, I actually used a calculator, so it wasn't that impressive. Still, it's pretty cool that I know that. And now you know that. Of course, the advantage would not be so pronounced for prolific (and insanely verbose, if you ask me) writers like C, who always spits out more than a thousand words unless he’s scrimping for his Pacifican posts, or for the writer of the Desperate Student serial novel which is reportedly projected at current rates to end up thicker than Queen Latifah.

Besides, if the middle word of every post were “Chip,” you as readers would know when you were half done with the post, and you could conveniently skip the rest or keep going, depending on the wittiness of the content. You'd risk missing the epic conclusion, but you would probably also miss all the after-inspiration rambling that goes on when the main impetus of a sickly post has been expended. And you could get through more CFNFCSSPCYYY posts at one sitting.

And so with this simple recommendation, I happily accept my new position. I would like to thank the great folks at FCN for making this all possible. Also my second grade writing teacher, who always ripped up my doodles and corrected the spelling of my name. And my little sister, who gave me my cynical, sarcastic streak of humor. Of course, I could not close this post without mentioning In-N-Out Burger, the ultimate fast food chain. I don't know why I'm mentioning them, but I feel like I'm giving an Oscar acceptance speech and that justifies a lot of nonsense. Nor should I fail to express my gratitude to my pet poodle who died two years ago but who still inspires me today, and to my wonderful fellow citizens throughout the state. In fact, if it weren’t for humanity itself, I wouldn’t be here. Thank you all! I love you! I hope you enjoy FCN as much as I do!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


My mouth was reeling that fateful Saturday afternoon, as if it had just been hit by a Jim Shields fastball. Taste Buds fled like terrified Orcs from avenging Ents. Nerves split and frayed like the rigging on Old Ironsides during battle. And smoke, I fancied, ascended from my ears the same way it does when Jerry finds himself in an uncomfortable situation and reacts according to the laws of cartoon physics.

I had just finished my first bite of a spicy chicken sandwich. Yes, I can handle spicy stuff, thank you very much. It's not like I'm a wimp. Contrary to popular and familial belief, I can take a challenge. In fact, I would readily devour the world's hottest pepper if I wanted to. But I just don't want to. You see, some things are simply outside my comfort zone. I don't feel like eating spicy food. It burns my tongue. It makes my ears smoke. Yeah, I'm a wimp.

Last Saturday I put my foot down. I decided I didn't have to put up with all that capsasin or let my tongue be fried like a potato sliver. I would buy an ice cream sundae to assuage the fires in my mouth and dispel the rainclouds lurking behind my eyelids. With fresh determination, I sauntered over to the restaurant counter and waited. Then I waited a while longer, and a while longer yet. There was something amiss. I looked around for an employee.

The woman in the kitchen was alive—even I could deduce that much by the steady rise and fall of her chest. But she certainly wasn't kicking. In fact, she was hardly breathing. One of her feet slowly rose from the ground, made a leisurely arc through mid-air, and settled a little way ahead. Then the other foot rose placidly to take its place. I plunked down my elbows and watched the spectacle, forgetting for a moment that my tongue was melting behind my lips.

There was no one else in line. Back at the grill, a frantic Mexifornian shot around like Speedy Gonzalez, making and bagging orders for the drive-thru. At the pay window sat a third employee, more dilatory than the first, who moved with a lethargy reminiscent of cold molasses. She was folding the Mexifornian's bags shut, gradually extending them toward impatient and outstretched hands, and counting out change with the enthusiasm of an aquarium snail. The Slow Poke I had observed first obviously noticed the action at the pay window, because she modified the path of her arduous trail to lend a hand to Molasses. Despite all the wisdom that had been instilled in me over the decades, I stared. It was mesmerizing.

Then my tongue reminded me what I was supposed to be doing, and I shook myself awake. Was there balm in Gilead? I needed relief on the double. Speedy had his hands full. Molasses was stuck to an earphone and speaker. Slow Poke was my only hope. "Um, excuse me" I muttered. She didn't move. Or did she? It was hard to tell. "Excuse me," I spoke up louder. Her head began to turn, followed by her shoulders, her torso, and finally her legs. She ambled over to the register.

I sighed in relief and was just opening my afflicted mouth to order when, in a twist of fate as excruciating as it was unexpected, she began to smile. I tried to stop her. I used English, Latin, Esperanto, and three dialects of sign language to get across to her that I didn't need the smile, that all I needed was a cup of ice cream, that I would pay extra, that I would slip her a few bills under the table. It was no use. The lips moved inexorably onward, upward, seeming as they climbed to shout "excelsior" in their enthusiasm. And yes, there was enthusiasm in that smile. It was a deep, full, cordial smile that evinced every bit of the meticulous effort and precious time employed in its creation.

I winced and summoned patience. As the smile progressed, more customers began to line up behind me. When the lips had waxed into a crescent, the cheeks began to glow. Then the eyelids complacently began to join in. I was desperate. Turning to the crowd behind me, I offered a silent plea. Couldn't someone do something? But I was met by a sea of hypnotically glazed eyes and slack jaws. My mouth was feeling quite OK now, and in answer to a low rumbling in my stomach, I glanced longingly toward my chicken sandwich. Horrors! Speedy was wiping off tables and I realized in a flash that the sandwich was in his path. My chicken sandwich. My spicy delicacy. I broke from the line and ran for it. I leaped over several chairs and shouted a warning, but arrived just as Speedy swept my lunch into a trash can. I staggered up, and a tear brimmed over my eyes unto my cheek. Then I looked at the line. Even had it been moving, there were too many people to wait out.

I would be eating somewhere else today, I concluded as I trudged out to my car. Somewhere where slow motion was merely a cinematic effect.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Life Tip #79

Get a decent job.

If you can't get a decent job, find something better to sell than old bullet casings.

If you can't get a decent job or find something better to sell than old bullet casings, get the bullets out of the casings by shooting them (not by sticking them in a vice and hammering the ends).

If you can't get a decent job, find something better to sell than old bullet casings, or empty the casings the normal way, don't shoot yourself in the stomach.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I love my electric shaver. I say this in full awareness of and with no intention to offend men who prefer manual razors, and especially with no intention to offend those who would be awakened every morning by my annoying buzz, if only I woke up early enough to cause annoyance. No intention, but a sad expectation.

There was a time when using an electric shaver was an unmitigated joy. That was back in the day when my voice could hit the same notes as Carrie Underwood and my stubble was just beginning to deserve that name (as opposed to “down”). I listened with grown up elation to the motorized hum of the shaver combining pleasantly with the crisp snipping sound of decapitated hair. Sure, I had spent prior years playing it tough when my pre-teen friends told me how they longed to shave. “Won’t that be cool?” they would ask. “No,” I would answer with a knowing shrug. “Just another chore.” But deep down, I was straining to make my whiskers grow and urging my follicles into productivity with every ounce of inner effort. And I felt pretty manly when my growth justified the whacker.

A few years later though, when time had done its work, using my electric shaver was anything but an unmitigated joy. There was a particular morning when the moment of truth arrived. I sprang out of bed at half past five, hoping to beat everyone else in the hotel room to the bathroom and complete my morning routine. That's when I realized that the noise of my buzzing contraption was going to fall on welcome ears. I looked at my shaver, and then at the slumbering males a few feet away. Even when they were awake, what would they think of my device? I furtively stuck it in my bag, showered, and waited, hoping beyond hope that another member of the group would turn on an electric shaver.

But no—one by one they entered the bathroom, and one by one they came out with fresh, unwhiskered faces, not having emitted a tone of automated noise. I rubbed my cheek in despair, and left the room with everyone else, wondering whether I looked sloppy or sexy. Maybe my stubble, like the holes and paint stains on my jeans or the knots normally in my hair, would be taken for a planned designer look rather than mere carelessness.

Maybe, but given my general preferences, probably not. In that raging debate over the rugged, whiskered look versus the cleaner and trimmer styles, I generally take the saner and smoother side. I use more than the beard-trimmer on my electric razor. I am not one of those men—the ones who think girls can be wooed with bristly, unkept cheekbones. In fact, I do not even observe with my colleagues the sacrosanct tradition referred to as “No-Shave November.”

Tangent: Participants in No-Shave November let the razors lie for all of that month, hoping in the interval to “grow more bestial, brutish, and manly.” The first two of those adjectives are quite appropriate, but the last one applies only occasionally. Some organizations have tried to civilize No-Shave November by funneling all the effort into a non-profit cause, but so far they have been largely unsuccessful. Primitive (i.e. college-age) man does not take easily to civilization.

Another Tangent: No-Shave November is most common among white, nerdy males. I do not participate in it because I am only a nerdy male, not the other thing. While I am entitled to check the “White/Caucasian” box on forms and surveys, my Mediterranean blood makes shave-fasting an impracticality. Like my Mediterranean compatriots, I had a bushy uno-brow by the time I was eleven, and grew whiskers before many of my peers. I also apprehend the day when I shall grow hair on my back. I spare you further details, gentle reader, but see this link for the general idea.

Another Other Tangent: Yes, the link is worth clicking. I know that some people get carried away with hyperlinks, falling prey to a reprehensible link fanaticism. Far be it from me to do so! All my links are relevant, informative, and hard to find.

As I was saying, I think that the smoother the cut, the better. Manual-razorites often concur with this opinion, in a vague, uninformed sort of way, and try to compensate for their bad razors by adding blades. Consequently, a comical one-upmanship pervades the market of inferior (non-electric) razors. You see, in the beginning there was The Razor. It was a simple, elegant blade fashioned in such a general and unspecialized manner that it was as useful for cutting throats as it was for hair (I’m not violent; I get my ideas from Faulkner’s novels). Then, probably to make amends, there was the Safety Razor, designed to prevent cuts. Then some genius created the double-bladed razor. Not to be outdone, another genius created a triple-bladed razor. Now, razors generally have a minimum of three blades, and sometimes five, or even, rumor has it, seven. Some moron of a CEO has even decided to produce a nine-bladed one, apparently hoping to make people look like this. Probably the next hot item will be the Armadillo Razor, a clump of moving, biting blades with no handle at all.

“Why would anyone use so many blades,” practical, electrically-savvy people like me are inclined to ask. The answer is probably quite simple: to shave faster. Yes, there are some who think shaving is a “therapeutic process,” a time to enjoy “the smell of the shaving cream, warm water on your skin and a good 15-20 minutes of personal reflection.” Maybe you know such people—the kind that shave so close they could remove a real shadow, not to mention a metaphorical one. Evidently, these are the kind of people who work at The Art of Shaving, a chain of stores with a location near you. But the majority of razor users think that a nine-bladed razor will let them approach the five minute shave that is, according to one site, possible with an electric shaver.

Of course, I belong to neither category. With my trusty electric apparatus, I can have myself buzzed clean in a single minute. And have you awake, as a part of the bargain.

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Bottled Devil

I am sleeping deeply in all the blessed oblivion I have earned by long, late hours of watching movies. My dreams are as captivating as they are surreal; they even have butterflies in them. My blankets are warm, my mattress is soft, and my pillow is just cushy enough. In a word, I am in paradise.

Suddenly, every ounce of serenity is gone. In a magnificent jolt, my toes go taut, my hair raises, and my eyes spring wide open. On the table, not a foot from my bed, is a shrieking ghoul that I am powerless to stop. Shriek! Brinnnnngggg! It’s the kind of high-pitched cross between a wildcat’s scream and the cranking of broken machinery that every diabolical two-year-old longs for. It sounds exactly like (forgive me, gentle readers) a bottled devil.

Perhaps you have heard such phones. Sometimes, on more peaceful occasions, I like to daydream about maniac geniuses who sit around in antiseptic, sound-proof labs and concoct rings. I am sure there are some humane, intelligent, sensitive creatures among them. They are the ones who make sissy rings like “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” (Try saying that three times fast. Heck, try saying it one time slow!) or “Für Elise.” But there are other brawny giants who grin evil smiles through broken teeth, pull their ear-muffs tighter, and apply themselves gustily to creating instruments of torture.

“Well Todd, what do you think of this one?”

“I don’t know Bill. The little white rat in the box can still walk. Why don’t you add a few more jolts of that really dissonant tone?”

“Great idea. The fella can’t even open its eyes anymore!” Todd's evil laugh sits dead in the air like an insensitive remark.

You would think, in a day when cell phones are ubiquitous and new ring tones rarely cost more than seventy dollars or so apiece, that there would be no need to endure such aural agonies. After all, there's always a sissy tone available. But that, dear reader, would be an underestimation of human innovation. There are raving lunatics in the world who find every misery they deserve and heap it upon not only themselves, but their friends as well. They connive in back rooms and plot methods to torture the human ear. Yes, these misanthropes are a wretched lot, and you should do your best to avoid us. Yes, us.

Take, for example, me and a recent conference: I attend a conference with my parents and friends. The friends decide to do uncool things. The parents leave to watch boring workshops. I go to look at exciting vendor displays. The friends wouldn’t notice if I got eaten by a vendor monster, but the parents like to keep in touch. They call to check on me. I, having carefully set the phone’s mode to “normal,” ought to hear the ringer, but I don’t. They call again, I miss the call, and they conclude that I have been eaten by a vendor monster. Pretty soon I hear my name on the loudspeakers, on the list of casualties. Apparently, I am dead to the public address announcer.

So I do what any moron would do. I scroll through my ringtones and choose the loudest, most obnoxious ring I can find, one of those metallic nightmares that sound like a phone from the thirties. (People in the thirties must have been rather deaf, both as a cause and an effect of such ringtones.) Now when my phone rings, I feel like the frazzled executive in Spiderman 3 whose wife had a secretary vibrate his desk with a buzzer every time he got excited. A call comes in and—Brinnggg!—there is a bottled devil in my own pocket. I smile nonchalantly and check the caller ID. My friends gape wide-eyed and smooth their hair back down from its newly acquired upright posture. At this point, my friends would notice if I got eaten by a vendor monster. In fact, they would probably hold a party of celebration—provided the phone got eaten as well.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Life Tip #78

Do not argue with your friend.

If you must argue with your friend, do not do it over ten measly dollars.

If you must argue with your friend over ten measly dollars, do not try to shoot him.

If you must argue with your friend over ten measly dollars and try to shoot him, at least try not to shoot yourself as you pocket your gun.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Long Drive

There are drives and there are drives. More specifically, there are short drives and long drives. Webster defines them thus:

Short Drive n. short•drive [ple⸍ zhər] An interesting, profitable trip, usually made in an awesome motor vehicle, for the purposes of leisure, necessity, or vanity.

Examples: “I really need to take a short drive to a burger place.” “I just might make the short drive to class today.” “I was only on a short drive—it must be Mom who used up all the gas.”

Long Drive n. long•drive [payn⸍] An excruciatingly tedious trip down a boring interstate in the middle of a barren American desert, in vain pursuit of some elusive goal such as a vacation or conference. People who take long drives often die of heat, bladder expansion, or an overload of junk food and portable movies, although the leader of a long drive, called the driver, frequently survives.

Examples: “When is our long drive going to be finished?” “Why did we even decide to go on this long drive?” “Wow, you really meant a long drive.” You think you took a long drive?” “This is nothing like the long drives we took in my day, son.” “You should hear about the lovely long drive we took last summer.” (The last example demonstrates a curious fact about long drives: they are very enjoyable when the driving is more memory than reality.)
The latter definition appears almost calculated to arouse curiosity. Why do drivers survive more frequently than passengers? The answer is in a third entry, which I generously plagiarize here for your benefit:
Driver 4 n. driv•er [ov⸍ərlord] A skilled but overindulged participant in a long drive (see entry). He/she bears responsibility for the safe navigation of the vehicle, but in return has command of the air conditioner, volume and subject matter of the radio, and the size of the interval between rest stops. Passengers (see entry) generally display a deep respect for the driver, in order to conceal their jealousy and boredom.

Examples: “Don’t ask me when we’re going to be there; ask the driver.”
Of course, such definitions cannot really communicate the full meaning of the words. To actually know a thing, you have to experience it in its unveiled, unstinted reality. Or, you have to hear about it from a person who has experienced that reality. With that in mind, I offer for your information a concise, four-part exposition of the average long drive.

1. The Beginning
A long drive is a real drive, the sort of drive that makes all other drives seem cheap and trifling, and so it must begin early in the morning, when the sun is just rising, the birds are beginning to come out, and the highway is empty of traffic. That is the ideal, anyway. A real long drive usually begins when the sun is up enough to wake would-be pilgrims from their sleep and send them frantically scurrying to the car with a neck ache, ruffled hair, and no coffee, to push for hours through early rush-hour traffic. The lucky passengers wearily try to find a tolerable position for their pillows so they can snatch another hour of sleep and the driver slaps himself to stay awake, counting down minutes until the end of his shift.

2. The Middle
The long drive continues when someone finds that there is no ice in the ice chest, and the travelers descend upon a gas station to buy some. There is generally no ice at the station, but they stretch their legs and use the restroom before driving to another. After a few more stops, the ice is found, and it is time for lunch. Lunch is then eaten in the car to save time. Crumbs litter the seats, and every time a passenger sits down, they roll around beneath him. If there are small children on the long drive, they get hungry between meals and eat snacks, populating the seats with yet another batch of crumbs.

Near the front of the car, meanwhile, there is a debate over the radio. The small children want to listen to their favorite CD for the twenty-ninth time. The driver wants to listen to something energetic and fascinating to alleviate his tedious task. And the other passengers want some peace and quiet for a few minutes. The small children always win battles of this kind.

3. The Interlude
With meal, snacks, and music all tended to, the long drive enters its most peaceful stage. The passengers doze in their seats, the small children gaze listlessly out of the window at the passing prairie (or city), and the driver relaxes at eighty or so miles per hour. The sun shines down on the asphalt, spotting the road with an occasional mirage. The driver relaxes a bit too much, and jolts up as his tires hit the grating on the side of the highway, which was been placed there to vibrate him back to his senses. He shoves his shoulders back and peels his eyes, but soon they glaze over again. Another jolt. One of the passengers gets worried and has all of them, especially the small children, chip in to help the driver stay awake. They succeed. The peaceful stage is over.

4. The End
It is followed by the stressful stage. Night is approaching, a destination must be reached, and everyone is for some mysterious reason crossing their legs. The sun sets fast, and little orange lights appear all over the city, forming words: No Vacancy. The driver and the head passenger (see entry) wrangle over a map, trying to figure out how far the next city is and which way they should go anyway, all without raising their voices so the passenger calling ahead for reservations and prices can hear the receptionist’s voice. The small children are restless and would like to cry, so they are kept busy crunching on snacks that raise the crumb population on the seats as if there were an illegal immigrant problem. Semi-trucks whiz by, making the car sway, the passengers gasp, and the driver stops arguing to look at the road ahead for a few minutes. When he does, an open hotel is finally found at an exorbitant price, and everyone prays it has free wi-fi, clean sheets, and a free breakfast to help start the next day of the long drive.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The sweating of a groom

A good friend of mine just got married. When I received an invitation to the wedding a month or so before the "big day," I looked at the elaborately laced note and charming photograph of the couple a few seconds before discarding the invite. I don't recall the exact nature of my thoughts on the issue, but they were pleasant and I know I wished the two lovers amazing success. I didn't give the issue another think until my mother asked about it at dinner.

"Do you know where your wedding invitation is?" Apparently my mother had misplaced hers and wanted to see mine to check the "registry," whatever that is. She didn't mention the names of the participants or even reference the date of the get together (I always thought "get together" would be a better name for a start of marriage celebration. "I was the best man in his get together" or "The bride's family paid a lot of money for the get together dress but the groom really shelled out for that get together ring."). She just knew that I would know who she was talking about.

"Bill and Patty's wedding?" I asked facetiously, making up two names.

"No, silly, the other one. Bill and Patty are getting married?" My mother was disappointed I'd tossed the invite. I learned that those are things you keep, stow in a box with souvenirs and trinkets, lose in a big cross-state move and cry about. So I dug through the garbage and removed the offending invitation.

No sooner had I removed the document from it's semi-retirement in the trashbin when my phone buzzed. It was the groom. He wanted groomsmen. He wanted me, a designation I later learned was a high honor. I asked him if I would have to wear a tuxedo. He said I would. I hesitated. He told me he was desperate. I understood and agreed.

After I hung up, I consulted a dictionary to find out what in David Stern's name I'd just committed to:

Groomsman: n. A male the approximate age of the groom who stands beside the groom and best man while the groom is performing the wedding vows. The male should do as little as possible to distract from the ceremony, but should look clean, well pressed and generally square. Fidgeting and snide comments should be kept to a minimum. Infractions in this area are punished by the bride and her entourage.
I'd been duped. Now my attendance was mandatory. I thought I'd be able to get away with an FB wall message or maybe an e-card. But to go to the actual event? To watch two people embraced in amorous affection in a scene that would surely remind me of my own love life's failures? To get dressed in something other than jeans and a hoodie? Ugh! Why do friends have to get married?

The rehearsal dinner was an exercise in patience. One time through the vows was not enough! No, we had to march back and forth, reenacting the get together. When I tried to walk more quickly to get the affair completed in a more "efficient" manner, I invariably received a stern look from a clipboard-toting authority figure with fashionably short hair and harsh eye liner. Groomsmen, she argued, are to act like gentlemen. I had a different interpretation, but kept it to myself.

I like my tuxedo shirts untucked. That's the way I wear all of my shirts and I don't see why tuxedos should be any different. When they're tucked in, my tops make me look too much like what I am: a poorly adjusted, out of shape nincompoop. The soft folds of my underbelly, invisible beneath the loose cloth of an untucked shirt, are painfully obvious above a constricting belt. Clipboard had a solution. She handed me a black shield which I placed over the junction of my shirt and pants which effectively blocked the view of my gut. I still don't know what the thing is called, but I owe it my dignity.

The attitude of the groom changed as the get together approached. During the rehearsal, his whole attention was occupied by his bride-to-be. He looked at her, talked with her, held her and generally spent every moment trying to be closer to her. When she left, he acted like a little baby who just lost his comfort blanket. Although he didn't throw a tantrum or react in an unseemly manner, he obviously felt her absence.

On the afternoon of the get together, the bride was kept out of the groom's site which really got to the groom. To the male contingent of the wedding party, congregated as we were in some kind of green room, the joyous occasion we were about to take part in demanded a light mood and spirits were high. The groom did not share our delectation. As the minutes wore on, beads of sweat, some tainted red, formed on his brow and began sliding down his cheeks, like tears from the wrong duct. His breathing was ragged and his hands unstable. He asked for a glass of water and ate something. And then he brushed his teeth for the umpteenth time to be "ready for the kiss."

As if to show off the groom's nerves to the world, Clipboard had him confiscated and placed in the front of the attending masses next to a too-calm pastor. Then we repeated the rehearsal, except this time it was the real thing.

When the bride appeared, all of us groomsmen, the best man and the groom let out a sort of involuntary gasp. You know the sound a carload of people make when they round a vista and see the Grand Canyon for the first time or catch their first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean? It was something like that. She was stunningly beautiful. As she walked toward the arbor, I wondered at the groom's amazing good fortune. He'd graduated from dereliction several years ago, but still had a very masculine streak in him. Sure he was more clean cut and generally better mannered, but at heart he was the sort of wild heathen who was more dedicated to fun than relationships. And he was a college student, which pretty much repels all the decent members of the opposite gender. How had he managed to get her to consent to marriage?

I wondered, as she took slow steps with her father over freshly dropped flower petals, if I might be so lucky. I looked over at the groom and noticed that his shaking had ceased. His nerves were calmed by her presence and, if I didn't know better, I might have guessed him a dead ringer for a handsome guy. I think he was relieved she didn't bolt, a possibility the other groomsmen and I had placed wagers on (I didn't lose too much money). There ceremony was as short as it was permanent and the happy couple marched down the aisle as husband and wife for the first time.

What am I forgetting? Ah, yes, the kiss. Clipboard gave us groomsmen a terrible angle on the get together smooch. All we saw was the groom's back as he leaned in. I felt as if I were sitting behind the fat guy at a baseball game. "Hey, man, I'm trying to see!" The audience appreciated act because it broke out into an applause that, while only latently enthusiastic, was not altogether limp. And then the happy couple marched down the aisle as husband and wife for the first time.

There were other things too. They pushed food into each other's mouths, walked around in a square to music while everyone watched and demanded they kiss, and threw articles of clothing toward single guests. It was all very romantic. If there is enough interest, I might dig through my memory and post some of the more scandalous anecdotes. Otherwise, that's the sweating of a groom.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dearest One,

Thanks to a faithful reader for forwarding this touching and inspiring message to us at Funny Class Notes. We were not the recipients of this email and therefore did not feel empowered to respond. We do, however, want to abuse our status as the slowest growing humor blog in cyberspace to raise awareness about the plight of Janet Fernandez (Mrs.). We are currently negotiating with a local park to organize a walk for her benefit. Funny Class Notes is also taking donations in her name. The funds will not be spent on Fernandez (Mrs.), but are being collected in her name nonetheless. In fact, if we get enough donation money, I may rent my next movie in her name. Without more ado, here's the email punctuated occasionally with our thoughts.

Dearest One,

I bring you greetings in the name of our creator, it is in my search for a reliable and God fearing person and having gotten your contact through prayers and pains taking efforts via searching i made on the internet on my bed side.

That must be some bedside. Remind me to get my number listed on the bedside "do not call list." In fact, there are really only a handful of people you should call from your bedside and, unless you are different "Janet," I don't think I'm one of them.
Presently, I'm in a hospital here in Abidjan-Cote D'Ivoire where I have been undergoing therapy treatment for Oesophagi Cancer.
No! Not Oesophagi Cancer! That's awful. Where is the Oesophagi, anyway? Wait, Did you mean: Oesophageal cancer Thanks Google!
Though its a sad and long story but I will cut it short for your quick and easy understanding. I am Janet Fernandez (Mrs), widow to Late Mr. Edward A. Fernandez, former Defence attachee to Benin Embassy in Germany. My husband was murdered in 2005 by those who are envious of his position in the same office leaving me with our only son Desmond.
Wouldn't that be "Edward A. Fernandez (Mr)?" Just a thought.
Before his death we were both born again christains and because of our new fond Love in Christ Jesus we both made a convenant with God to use his wealth for the down trodden,orphanages and the less privileged in the society. Having known my condition I decided to donate part of this money to an individual or better still a God fearing person who will utilize this wealth the way I am going to instruct herein. I want an individual that will adopt my only son, use part this wealth and provide succor to poor and indigent persons, orphanages, and widows and for the propagating peace.

I took this decision because I do not my child to suffere or continue to leave in this part of the world, moreover my late husband's relatives are not inclined to helping poor persons and I do not want my husband's hard earned wealth to be misused or spent in the manner in which my late husband did not specify. I do not want a situation where this wealth will be used in an ungodly manner which will be contrary to the convenant we made with God Almighty.
You know, whenever you have a major philanthropic endeavor or are going to be bequeath your life's wealth to someone to carry out your dieing wish and ensure that your progeny are well cared for, you can count on a handful of wet-behind-the-ears derelicts. You know you can. We will ensure that your son will never "leave" that part of the world and will devote the entire sum to helping indigent persons. Specifically, we will use it to help four indigent persons.
What is required of you is your honesty, trust and sincerity. Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for another individual for this same purpose.
So you need our honesty, trust, sincerity and our speed. Don't forget that last one. Come to think of it, the last person who asked for my speed didn't seem very nice...
Please reply in case you are interested on this alternative email: janetfernandez39@gmail.com so that i will go into details and furnish you with all further informations.

May God Almighty bless you.
Janet Fernandez (Mrs)