Booze Your Own Adventure: Chapter 1

A few months ago, I decided to write a Choose Your Own Adventure novel for adults, called Booze Your Own Adventure. I’ve mapped out a -lot- of choices, and written several chapters. Why wait for it (if it ever does) get published though? Read the chapter. Vote for the choice you want. Next Sunday, I’ll post the chapter that won!

Now that we have the game, let’s play.

Booze Your Own Adventure

You’re sitting at your kitchen table, neat stacks of paper are lined up, and you’re practicing the presentation you’ll be giving tomorrow morning. This is a big opportunity for you, and you haven’t been taking it lightly. You have all your handouts ready, great slides, and you have your speech down.

You get up to pour yourself another cup of coffee. “I really shouldn’t,” you think to yourself, “I don’t want to be up all night.”

Boo-de-dee! You get a text from one of your best friends. “10 cent drinks @ Pinchester Tavern get your ass down here!!!!!”

You pause and think about your response. On one hand, your presentation is the beginning of a major opportunity at the small company you work for. Your success could bring on multiple clients, and really make the business take off. On the other, you’ve been spending so much time at work lately, your social life has begun to suffer. You miss your friends and really want to blow off some steam.

“Would one drink really be so bad?” you think to yourself.

 

 

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ROFLOMGLOL

The first time I remember making people laugh was in kindergarten. We were playing Duck, Duck, Goose (if you say it’s duck, duck, gray duck, you’re from Minnesota, and wrong. Here’s the research). I digress. So, we were playing DDG, and I thought, “you know what, I’m not gonna say goose. I’m gonna say duck, duck, moose. That’ll be funny, right?”

I started my run. Duck, I tap the first kid on the head. I keep going, letting a few kids pass. The suspense was building. Duck, I tap the second kid. Electricity cracks in the air with the tension. Eyes flick back and forth as each kid estimates my distance from them and calculates the odds that they’ll be the goose. The time is right. I make my move.

MOOSE!

It. Killed. The class was in an uproar. I could’ve run around that circle four times before the laughter even began to subside. I looked over at the teacher, knowing that I had just flipped the system on its head with my laser-line satire. A hint of a smile and I knew she got it, she was down with what we were about.

And that’s why I take issue with, “lol.” I’m not trying to start a series on words (or maybe I will, I’m not on trial here) but I’ve got a problem with the way people are abusing it.

If you write, “lol,” and you didn’t laugh out-loud, what does that say about you? Maybe, you want to convey a lightheartedness of meaning. Or maybe, you write, “lol,” the way some people laugh after they say something that others may find uncomfortable/distracting/upsetting/unpleasant, with the, “lol,” as a manifestation of the dissonance between what you said and your image of yourself. Or maybe you’re just and idiot, who am I to say?

Whatever the cause may be, I’d like to submit a formal request to the world; if you didn’t, “lol,” please don’t say that you did. As someone who spends a great deal of time an energy smart-mouthing, wise-cracking, and pun-punching, I’m genuinely interested in making you laugh. If you actually laughed out loud, wonderful! Maybe you rolled on the floor whilst laughing. Even better!

So, here’s what I propose. If your comment isn’t a joke, in response to a joke, or isn’t even funny on accident, don’t say, “lol.” You have no real reason to. Simply take four more seconds and figure out a better why to say what you’re thinking or feeling.

More likely though, you “lol,” because you thought something was witty, but didn’t actually laugh out loud. In this case, let’s use, “qcts,” Quietly Chuckled To Self or, “limh,” Laughed In My Head. Seems more accurate, don’t you think?

So You Speak German, Then?

Why is it okay to be a nazi when grammar is involved?

“I really don’t care what the affect is, here.”
“Actually, it’s effect in this situation.”
“What?”
“You meant to say effect instead of affect. Sorry, I’m kind of a grammar nazi.”

I know I slept in history class, but I don’t recall the nazi’s walking up to folks and saying, “Um, I think you meant to say christian. Sorry, I’m kind of a nazi.” That didn’t happen. You’re not a grammar nazi; you’re a stickler for grammar at best, an ass at worst.

Also, isn’t it a massive slap in the face to all the people who really fought/were under captivity by actual nazi’s to just tag that word on to stuff? I know, Seinfeld had the Soup nazi episode, but you know what? You’re not Jerry f-ing Seinfeld. Make one of the best sitcoms of all-time, then you can throw around nazi.

Now, I’m not saying that people should just run around, saying words with little regard to their meaning. I’m saying the opposite of that. Nazi has a meaning, and you’re using it wrong.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Do In A Store

10 – Say, “I guess its free today,” when a item isn’t ringing up – I get it. I’ve heard it 20 times. Today. Checkout equipment is expensive and companies use them for as long as they can. Also, bar codes can get scuffed. Remember, a laser is trying to read a series of black lines. Can you explain how that works? Then don’t make fun of it when it doesn’t.

We get that you’re trying to be friendly, but please, retire this joke.

9 – Pick up an item, look at it, and set it down in any orientation other than the way you found it – The last two hours (if not more) of any retail employee’s shift are cleaning up after customers. “Isn’t that what they’re paid to do?” you may ask. Okay, but by that logic, you should break into your neighbor’s place, murder them, then start their home on fire so that police and firefighters have something to do. They do these things because society requires it, not the business.

And really, what kind of justification is that? If you’re being honest, you just don’t care. You have kids? What do you think they’re learning from that?
Consider what would an employee do if they didn’t need to clean up after you. They could get more product out so the shelves aren’t empty of the things you’re looking for. They could spend more time helping people. They could be getting additional training so that they can better answer questions. Ultimately, they’ll have a better working environment (since putting away the same toy multiple times a day is intensely demoralizing) and be in a better mood to help you.

 8 – Open a package to look at an item, then put the item down without re-packaging it– Similar to number 9, but this one has the added bonus of damaged packaging. Products are packaged in one of two ways: to encourage customer interaction, or to discourage it. Toy packages are designed so that a child can play with the toy while it is still packaged and then pester the parent to buy it for him/her. Food packages have multiple layers to ensure product freshness and prevent tampering and contamination.

Between these two extremes are a range of other types which are designed to protect the product from damage during shipping, while still displaying the contents. Please don’t open these unless you really, really need to. Have you ever found the item you were looking for, pushed aside the damaged box sitting up front, and grabbed one of the undamaged boxes behind it? Guess how that box got that way.

Boxes damaged during shipping are seldom put out on the salesfloor. When customers return damaged or used products, these are returned to the vendors as per contracts between the vendor and the store. On the rare occasion that these two instances lead to a product being displayed, it will be marked down or discounted in some way, not just put back on the shelf. What does this mean?

This means that you don’t need to open packages to see if the contents are alright for fear of other customers tampering with the product. When you see other damaged boxes, its because of other people, like you, checking the contents. Essentially, you’re inspecting the box to make sure you haven’t damaged it.  

7. Set frozen/refrigerated goods in the soda cases by the checkout lines – I know you’re an important person, but before you grab that chicken, think to yourself, “do I want to buy this?” If the answer is no, don’t pick up the item.

Frozen and refrigerated goods are kept to strict standards for how long they can be outside of controlled temperatures for safety and liability reasons. The amount of time it takes you to purchase the product and take it home is unlikely to allow the product to thaw. However, if you hide the product, it may have enough time. You’re now putting the health of other people at risk. Consider the following scenario:

You think, “I may feel like chicken, tonight,” and grab a package of frozen chicken. You continue shopping, adding things to the cart, walking around. As you’re checking out, you realize you forgot the coupon for the chicken and stick it next to some Pepsi. What you don’t realize, however is that a small rip has opened in the packaging of the chicken due to a bump against a larger box. The chicken is not noticed until the next day, when it is discarded.

During the night, the chicken thawed, and dripped onto the surrounding soda. A customer, mistaking the chicken-juice for condensation, simply ignores the wetness of the bottle and touches the bottle to her head for relief from the warm summer sun. -Fade to black

Gross right? I know things happen. If you realize you don’t want a product, for whatever reason, please give it to the cashier instead of hiding it somewhere.
 
6 – Leave your empty cup on a shelf – When I find cups with liquid still in it, I think, “Oh bummer, I bet they forgot this.” When I find an empty cup, I think, “Asshole.” You’re in a building. There are garbage cans. Use them. You’re not so damn important that you can’t throw away your own trash.

5 – Stick Gum to Things – This is similar to the cup, but gum dries and sticks to things. Also, it was in your mouth, being ground up with your saliva and whatever you ate earlier that day.

If you put gum on something, you’re a piece of garbage and I hope you’re hit by a bus. Does that seem too harsh? Let me run you through my thinking. No one, even the gum-stickers themselves, would say that sticking gum on tables, chairs, etc. is a nice thing to do. I would wager that, universally, this is seen as dickish. Now, since we agree this is rude, why do people do it?

Again, you’re in a store. Again, there are trash cans. Again, you’re not so special that you get to say, “I’ve finished mashing this with my teeth. I’ll leave it here, on the underside of this table. People will wonder about what king or queen so thoughtfully left this here for me to clean up.”

4 – Leave dirty diapers in the shopping cartFirst off, a dirty diaper should never find its way into a shopping cart, let alone, need to find its way out. Second, this.

I have a kid. I change diapers. Throw that shit (literally) in the trash can in the bathroom.

3 – Leave your cart somewhere other than a cart corral – I know, you’ve just finished the arduous task of walking through a well-lit building, selecting the various things you’d like to purchase.  I know, you had to push that cart around the store, and across the parking lot. What a chore! I’m with you. Let me throw something at you though:

First, if you put carts back, employees can retrieve them in a more timely fashion. Remember what I said about putting things away earlier? Go ahead and CTRL C CTRL V that here. 

Second, not putting your cart back in the corral puts people’s cars at risk of getting hit by them. Have you ever noticed that above cart corrals it says, “We are not liable for damage from shopping carts,” or something similar? That’s because people don’t put their carts away, a gust of wind comes along, sweeping the cart along with it, right into the side of a car. It really happens. I’ve seen it happen. A lot. Your laziness may result in hundreds of dollars of damage to someone’s car.

Third, putting your cart on the grass or on something similar is not an acceptable alternative. The amount of work it takes you to manhandle a shopping cart up onto a curb is greater than simply putting it where it is supposed to go.

Fourth, this includes the cart area inside the store. Sure, you used the cart in the store but you only got a few things. You don’t need the cart now that your stuff is bagged, so you give it a push toward all the other carts. Then 15 more people do the same thing. Now the area is full of carts, people can’t walk through, and a cashier needs to stop cashiering and go clean up the mess.

2 – Forget How to Use Bathrooms – I’m not sure what happens in the human brain when a person walks into a public/business bathroom, but I’ve seen the results. It’s as if people are walking into a bathroom for the first time, with a brand new set of personal equipment.

Wash your hands. Go ahead and reread the link to fecal coliform. Now think about all the products you handle while shopping. Gross. Hand washing is a thing for a reason. You know what people didn’t do during the spread of the black plague? Wash their hands (among other things).

Next, I understand that you sometimes need to use a bathroom during an emergency. Please, make sure you’re on the toilet before you begin to go. I have cleaned poop off of floors, doors, seats, and walls. Also during an emergency, you may need to use a greater than normal amount of TP. That’s fine. Please give the toilet a fighting chance, though, and use multiple flushes instead of jamming half a roll of paper into the toilet so it overflows and shit-water floods the bathroom.

1 – Be Rude to the Employees – Now, I’m not saying you should ignore when you’ve been spoken to rudely, or not speak to a manager when something has happened. I’m talking about customer initiated rudeness.

Please, don’t walk up to an employee and ask for help by saying the item that you’re looking for. If an employee doesn’t see you, they aren’t being rude, and coming up next to someone and saying, “Vacuums,” is. Maybe that’s how you say, “hello,” where you’re from, I don’t know. What I do know is saying, “Hello, where are the vacuums?” is only four more words.

Second, yelling is not how to get what you want. Sometimes things don’t work out how you expect them to, and you’re dissatisfied as a customer. Understandable, it’s happened to me as well. The correct course of action is far easier than yelling, and yields much better results.

When you and an employee have reached an impasse, you feel that you’ve been mistreated, or there is a problem, the person working the cash register is unlikely to be equipped to help you. More often than not, you’re dealing with a young person with little training (remember what I said about putting things away?) and little authority to override company protocol. The person you want is the manager.

Calmly say to the employee, “I’d like to speak with a manager.” Not, “I wanna talk to your manager!” Not, “I’m never coming here again!”

When the manager arrives, speak to him or her calmly as well. When you’re turned up to 11, staff will want you to leave the store before you make a scene, not keep your business. When you’re calm, they’ll respect your attitude and will go out of their way to make sure that you leave feeling that you were heard and that your problem was addressed. 

I’ve heard people say that they can’t find good customer service anymore. It seems odd that those are often the rudest people to deal with. Children still have these rules of politeness presented to them daily, and it shows. If you want good customer service, be a good customer.

On a serious note…

I don’t watch the relatively recent string of comedy/dramas about young parents. Not that I think they’re bad, (truth be told, I haven’t seen more than the commercials) it’s just that I don’t want them. 

I feel that a show like that has no purpose. Parents know how tough being a new parent is and people who aren’t parents don’t care. I think the only reason someone would watch a show like that is for validation (a normal desire); seeking affirmation for the hardships they’re undergoing and a soothing voice to express their frustrations with humorous scenarios and slightly outlandish premises. 
I know how tough it is being a new parent. I know, and I have a damn good baby. I have been fortunate enough to have a perfectly healthy baby girl who smiles and waves when I come home, and giggles when I tickle her. But still, I know. 
I also know how having a child changed your life in ways you wouldn’t expect. Your life gains a seriousness and purpose you’d previously been uninterested in. Actions have consequences and your life is now guiding that of another. 
Beginning a new project in a time as tumoltous as this is difficult, and maybe a little foolish. I do not, however regret it. 
I began writing last year largely as a reaction to growing unsatisfaction with my job at that time. A quarter life crisis (maybe too strong a term) caused me to look for a way to live off of something I enjoyed, not just was decent at. I dove in, sending a few query letters to magazines and reading up about different ways to be a successful writer. I soon received a positive response from a regional magazine, and am happy to say that it has led to an article soon to be published (I’ll link to it when it is).
Then my writing needed to take a pause. There simply wasn’t room for it in the life of this young father. Perhaps, if I had started writing sooner I would’ve been able to support my small family with it, or at least had better habits in place. But as it was, I was forced to set it aside. 
It made me feel fickle, and a bit weak to stop. It was embarrassing to start something so public only to seemingly end so soon afterward. A few folks asked when I would post again, or why I stopped. I didn’t have a clear answer. 
I’m writing again, though. I’m still working a full time job, but a change of job positions now lets me write my own schedule, allowing my wife and I to get routine in our lives. Things are smoothing out. 
I don’t regret starting writing when I did because it was the only time I would, or could, start something like this. I don’t regret taking a break because people made me feel that my writing was something worth missing (some of it, anyway). I do not doubt that I will take missteps as I try to use my creativity for work. I have more projects rolling around in my head and many, most even, will be fruitless. That’s learning, I suppose. 
I thank you for taking the time to read this. Thanks to those of you who read my old posts, and thanks to those of you who asked when there would be more. And thank you for supporting me as I try to find my voice. 
I’d like to end with the parable of the twins. Twins are separated at birth. One is taken to Mexico and he’s named Juan, the other is taken to Iraq and he’s named Amal. The biological parents decide they want to arrange a meeting for these two twins some years later, so they invite both of the twins to meet them in France. The plane with Juan arrives and there is much hugging. However, when the plan with Amal lands, he isn’t on it. 
Distressed, everyon begins speculating on what happened to Amal. The father quietly ponders this for a moment, then says, “Now, now. If you’ve sen Juan, you’ve seen Amal.”

Frozen: A Young Woman’s Battle With Agoraphobia

So I watched Frozen, and well… let me start off by saying I liked it overall. I liked the animation, I liked the setting, I liked the snowman. However, there was something that I didn’t like, and that one thing was pretty f-ing important: the main premise of the movie.

The movie opens with the younger sister, Anna, sneaking into Elsa’s room to play. They’re maybe 6 and 8 years old now. The two girls creep downstairs to a large ballroom where you see that Elsa has ice powers. And I don’t mean she makes it snow a little; she looks like she just graduated from X-Men academy. She shoots ice beams that create pillars of snow and ice sculptures and other wonders, showing to the audience that she is not only gifted, but talented with her power. Things turn bad when Elsa slips on the ice, her sister falls, and Elsa shoots her in the brain with ice magic.

Fear leads to Anger…

This is fine; I have no problem with magic in movies. I do have a problem with the next two scenes. The family rushes into the woods to meet with a family of trolls (still fine) and the shaman troll explains the problem. He removes the memory of magic from Anna’s brain (kinda dumb, but whatever, it’s magic) which cures her. He then (here we go) explains that Elsa needs to learn how to
control her powers, or fear will take over and she will become evil. The troll uses troll magic to show Elsa this in horrifying Brother’s Grimm storytelling fashion.

Before I go on, I’d like to point out that, in the ice-magic scene, Elsa’s accidentally hurting Anna has far more to do with Anna’s recklessness and Elsa simply slipping on ice than it does on Elsa’s ability to control her powers or her fear of them.
Anyway, Elsa’s parents decide that they don’t want her to become evil and come up with a plan.
Action Plan to Save Elsa:
Step 1: Fire all the castle staff except those essential for day-to-day functions.
Step 2: Close and lock all windows and doors.
Step 3: Quarantine the daughters to the castle and isolate them from each other.
Step 4: Teach Elsa that her magic is bad, brainwash her to deny that she has this within herself, and make her wear gloves since she is dirty.
Step 5: Keep Anna in the dark about all of this so that she thinks her sister and best friend has abandoned her, and refuses to even speak to her for unknown reasons.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that these parents aren’t portrayed as cartoon villains. This isn’t Daddy Jaffar and Mommy Cruella. No, they are presented to us as sane, loving parents.
Luckily, these parents die.
Elsa and Anna are 15 and 13 ish at this point. I’m estimating this based off of the fact that Elsa’s coronation happened when she, “came of age,” (I hope that just means she turned 18) and the movie tells us that three years pass between these two events.
Now, in these three years, one would expect the sisters say, “F- this, lets do something!” They do not. And we know that they don’t because Anna’s song exclaims her excitement about opening the windows and doors for the first time in forever. Have these teenagers not spoken to people in three years? Who knows?! Someone had to have been keeping the place running, so I’m sure they’ve seen someone, but that someone sure doesn’t seem to be important in their lives.
Anna’s song about the upcoming coronation signals the beginning of Act Two, where by all rights, we should be watching a horror movie. The outline of Carrie reads suspiciously similar to Frozen. (Btw, check out my new comedy podcast pilot,Redux Redo, where we talk about Carrie.)
A child in isolation has powers that she doesn’t understand. Her parent(s) are abusive (yes, in different ways) and afraid of her. These powers are revealed in a public and humiliating way, causing
her to unleash her powers on a large population.
Which movie did I just describe? Both of them. The only difference is that Carrie’s story stops there, While Elsa and Anna’s continues.
Any conflict that occurs through the rest of the movie exists purely because of Elsa and Anna’s shitty, dead parents. This fact made me so angry that I kept getting pulled out of the movie, which is a shame because the rest of it is pretty good.
Maybe I’m a jerk. This movie has made more money than some countries and has received acclaim from every critic ever. The songs are decent and the voice acting is great. That first act though, sucks.