How to Text Your Friends and Enemies

Below, you will find a set of urgent messages I texted to Michiel on a Thursday afternoon. I had no way to mark them as urgent, like you can in Outlook. If I was sending these to her via email, they would all have huge red exclamation marks on them. Maybe I should have sent them in all caps. Better yet, I should get Michiel to send me her work email so I can send the urgent messages marked as such. That seems like the most practical plan.

My Messages to Michiel:

“Hey… What was that joke that girl told us at the bar?”

“There were two of them, like a set.”

“A set of jokes, that is. Not just a set.”

“Maybe something about a paraplegic giraffe was involved?”

“Are you in a meeting?”

“If you are in a meeting, and you think of the joke, can you step out? I really need this joke. I’m already committed to tell it and now I can’t think of it.”

“I’m in big trouble here.”

Michiel’s Response:

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I finally thought of the joke by myself without Michiel’s help. By the way, Michiel… if you are reading… thanks for NOTHING. The joke had absolutely nothing at all to do with a paraplegic giraffe, but rather a quadriplegic deer. The whole thing would have fallen apart with a giraffe.

Because, sadly enough, they don’t.

How To Go To The Mall: A Photo Guide

The most important part of a successful mall-shopping endeavor is to take people with you. Also, you should have lots of drinks beforehand. Therefore, the first thing you do in preparation for a trip to the mall is find a few friends, then go out for sushi and some cold sake.

Who am I kidding? Sushi is optional. Get some drinks.

Being someone that dresses in clothing purchased from Target along with spiral notebooks and cartons of milk, I was a bit unprepared for the mall. To spare my fellowman the same fate, I will now describe what you should expect from the mall experience.

Upon arrival at a department store, you will most likely be accosted with garishly striped dresses.

Does ANYONE wear these? I have NEVER seen anyone wearing these.

Usually, I dress in solid colors to avoid the matching dilemma. The last thing I need is to wake up in the morning with some Rubix cube puzzle task of finding clothes that go together. If that Rubix cube thing was all one color… BAM… problem solved. People say I’m a genius. I’ve never actually heard them, but I am sure they are saying it out of earshot to avoid embarrassing me.

So, being a person that dresses mainly in solid colors, you can imagine how intimidated I was by these bold patterns. You too may feel pattern-anxiety when confronted by stripes at the door. However, if you did as instructed you will have your friends with you. There is safety in numbers. That must be why women go shopping together, to avoid being attacked by stripes. However, if you don’t have safety in numbers, take a Valium. That will work too.

Some of these dresses will be placed on mannequins to demonstrate what the dress would look like if you were wearing one without your head.

Waving stripes as demonstrated by mannequin

I can use a dress that looks good on me without a head actually, as I am often tempted to take off my head for brain storming sessions and other treacherous situations in which people want to misuse my brain.

Next there will be pants in primary colors.

Pants. In primary colors.

As someone who mainly wears earth tones, so as to blend in with the earth, I’m shocked that a store would only be offering pants in primary colors. Attention people who design pants, there is so much more to the color wheel… branch OUT.

Animal prints… you know, for swimming.

Okay, I admit that I didn’t like the primary color pants because they didn’t blend well enough, but the animal print swimwear is going a bit too far in the other direction. I really don’t want to go to the pool looking like a drowning giraffe. Thanks, anyway.

By the way, you know what is better than drowning in giraffe print? Drowning in giraffe print with glitter heels.

Glitter Heels

I usually feel strongly that shoes should not have jewelry; however, these shoes would go nicely with the giraffe swimsuit above. See how they are similar in color? They would totally go great together.

You could wear them to a beauty pageant, as that is the ONLY place I have ever seen anyone wearing swimsuits in heels. You hardly ever see anyone in swimsuits and heels at the beach or the pool. This is because people are aware that the zombies will most likely come out of the water during zombie apocalsype. You don’t want to be running from them in a giraffe suit and glitter heels. You will be the first to go.

Aside from giraffe suits, you know what else people don’t wear enough of? Chartreuse, that is what.

Chartreuse Heels

I know you are thinking that you probably have a chartreuse outfit somewhere that these shoes will go with. If that is indeed what you are thinking, why stop at chartreuse? You know that great leather outfit you have with the ball gag? The mall has the perfect shoes for that.

Sadomasochist Heels

Please note how the spikes on the lower part of the shoe are in the shape of a bow. Just because you are wearing pervert shoes, does not mean they can’t have that feminine touch.

My friend’s foot in a Mardi Gras shoe

These shoes especially seemed over the top. Bright colors AND glitter. I almost wish I had a place to wear them. Where do people wear glittery shoes? The sales person said people wear them on cruise ships, but I really can’t afford to buy a cruise ship just so I can wear glittery shoes. I’m way too practical.

This is me in fancy shoes, trying not to fall down.

This is NOT the camera angle… the floor really was this slanty. I don’t know how I was able to walk and not fall down. This is also probably how I would actually be wearing these shoes, with shorts and a tank top. It is a good look for me, I think.

Me in garish yellow shoes (I got tired of asking people how to spell chartreuse).

These are the perfect shoes for your stripper career. Some of you may remember the requirement of glass heels in How to Choose a Career. If you are job hunting, these are the stripper shoes for you. When I told the salesman I needed some shoes for stripping, he assured me that these shoes are an INVESTMENT. “You will make back the $80 you spend on these shoes within an hour,” he told me.

Next time you need some stripper shoes, or a dress to wear when you are headless, call me. I’ll show you around the mall. You are paying for drinks, however. I can’t spend all the cash I am making with my new stripper shoes just anywhere.

Just in case I happen to be unavailable for mall shopping on the day you are going, I am leaving a few t-shirts to help you out.

Hopefully this shirt will work better than the one that said let’s go sober to the department of motor vehicles. NOBODY went for that one. I had to go all by myself.

Sometimes the sales staff responds better when you can tell them exactly what you want.

See… I’m altruistic. People say that all the time. I’m assuming they are just saying it in places where I can’t hear them.

For Further Research:

Browsing for something a little less garish? Try The Bellbottom Blog: The Mall. You may learn that before malls, they had the stores located OUTSIDE.*

*I know… I don’t believe it either.

How to Survive a Wildlife Refuge

When we first arrived at the Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch, my first impression was the significant lack of sharks. My second impression was, that despite our best intentions to arrive ahead of the summer heat, it was hot, and crowded, and dusty.

Barrels attached to a tractor.
Innovation like you’ve never seen.

Little did we know it at the time, but this barrel ride was the highlight of the wildlife ranch. The little barrels attached to the tractor took off in a trail of dust as whatever stereo system rigged to this contraption blared music… “I like to move it, move it. I like to move it, move it.”

Then, we went on to stand in line for the tram that would take us around the park. More prepared parents stood with their children, feeing them goldfish and drinking sodas. Michiel and I waited as our boys informed us helpfully about the intense heat and the state of their starvation. It was looking pretty dire. I was worried that the boys would not survive, but it was more important that we get on the damn tram to look at the animals. I looked at Michiel hopelessly and asked her, “Why are everyone else’s kids so quiet??” She assessed the situation carefully, then answered, “Because they are EATING.” Lesson one in going to a terrible wildlife ranch, bring some freaking snack crackers.

This is a Zeedonk. I’m fairly certain this is NOT the scientifical term.

Next, we were shuffled onto this tram and shut in with wires and bars to prevent escape. Let the wild ride begin! Music blared over the makeshift intercom… the theme from Bonzana actually. Imagine hearing the theme from Bonanza as these wild horses run alongside the vehicle. It was exhilarating for about three seconds until we realized the horses weren’t wild, but rather sad, unfed creatures anxious to reach the food buckets attached to the tram.

The enthusiastic announcer seemed rather proud of the ranches crossbreeding efforts as he pointed out a “Zeedonk.” A mix between a donkey and a zebra. I know what you are thinking… what kind of sick perverts would do this?

Just as I getting over my donkey porn repulsion, the announcer says, “Say good-bye to your horse or Zeedonk! We are going on SAFARI!!” In the meantime, my kid is complaining that he is hot, the air is dusty, the animals smell, and that also, he is near death from starving. I assure him that everything will be fine once we go on safari, get infected with mosquito bites, and die from malaria. That is what happens on safari, right? I’m too busy looking up donkey on zebra porn right now to research it properly.

This is safari. Impressive, right?

Watch out little innocent zebra… you have NO IDEA what sordid events lie in wait for you. Run away! Run away!

The highlight of this entire tram ride was when daughter of the carefully prepared, snack laden family in the bench in front of us spilled her drink. The drink promptly run across the bench, wetting the clothing of an entire row of pre-teen girls. I should have felt bad for those parents, but FINALLY, someone else’s kid was complaining more than mine.

This is probably a handsome look for a camel.

Next, came the camels. Michiel’s son informed us that camels spit, so we were eyeing them suspiciously. Turns out, their main defense lies not in spit, but their foul stench. The smell rates not as high as a skunk, but is certainly comparable to unwashed dog or sweaty armpit hair. Imagine, as you look as the picture, the smell of dust, animal feces, and rotten eggs.

 

As a personal favor to anyone taking your child to a wildlife refuge in the near future, I have created this handy t-shirt of complaints. This way, your child will have the complaints pre-posted and will not have to alert you to them every ten to fifteen minutes. You’re welcome.

 

How to Survive Team-building

I was never sure what the point of team-building was until the other day, when one of my co-workers explained logically and succinctly: “The point of team-building is make you feel as ridiculous as possible in order to form a common bond.” Sort of like hostage situations, or torture. Or, perhaps, exactly like torture. At any rate, I will now go over five simple steps to help you survive any team-building situations you may be likely to encounter. I’m like Mother Theresa over here. Somebody get me some good karma. Now.

STEP ONE: Take Pictures for Facebook

If there is one thing I know, it is that people LOVE to see pictures on Facebook. I have included some examples of pictures I posted so you can get a feel for what people would like to see.

Usually on Facebook, people enjoy seeing scenery from your environment. These environmental images usually include vacation photos of exotic places, or a picture of some fish you caught. However, when you are at work doing work stuff, that isn’t very practical. In my situation, I was taking a chartered bus to a team-building, so naturally I took at picture of the bus-seat upholstery.

Okay, I know that doesn’t seem astounding in and of itself, and I have to admit that it wasn’t until later that I realized they upholstered the CEILING with the very same fabric. Now THAT is impressive.

My next photo in the series of bus-upholstery photography.

Then I realized that photo really didn’t do justice to the whole scope of the bus upholstery ceiling, so I took another one.

This was a much better shot.

If there is anything the people of Facebook adore more than pictures from your environment, it is information regarding what you are currently eating or drinking. As fate would have it, we were served lunch almost immediately upon arrival to the teambuilding exercise. Therefore, this was my next brilliant Facebook post.

My Lunch

These people LOVE me.

STEP TWO: Find a Sarcasm Buddy

To find a sarcasm buddy, look for people rolling their eyes or looking generally miserable. Do NOT look for people who dance over enthusiastically when it is suggested that people go around the room and dance. Those people will NEVER be sarcastic with you. Also, please stay as far away from the dancing people as possible for your own safety. Trust me on this one.

Once you find your sarcasm buddy, you can never separate. Even if the ‘coaches’ (feel free to substitute the term sadist) at the team-building say that you can’t partner up with the same person, you have to totally ignore this. You never know when they are going to divide you into teams. For example, at one point, the ‘coaches’ yelled out for everyone to divide into groups of seven people by putting their fingers on the back of someone’s knee.*

It was incredibly awkward…mostly because I am extremely monogamous about letting people put their fingers on the back of my knee.

You never think you will need a shirt like this one until it is too late.

THEN… THAT, the scene with all the knee-touching, THAT was our team. If I hadn’t stood resolutely by my sarcasm buddy throughout this whole thing, I would be stuck on a team with this guy who was way too over-eager to put his damn finger on my knee. No one needs that.

But, don’t take my word on the importance of hyper-vigilance regarding team divisions. pictou ‏@pictou totally agrees with me, advising, “Watch out when they sort you into teams–it’s the divide and conquer theory.”

And believe me… you do NOT want to be conquered. Unless it means you can go home. But, alas, it doesn’t. Nothing can get you home short of purposefully wetting your pants. My sarcasm buddy and I actually spent some time discussing the merits of pants wetting, but unfortunately, I took the damn bus and therefore still needed a ride back. No one wants to sit next to the pants wetter. Probably not even if you explain it was on purpose.

STEP THREE: Make Twitter Comments

General comments fare a little better than overly specific ones. My statement of “I’m in hell” got several nice reactions.

Pooka’s Crayon ‏@LargoHaikuNook discussed the financial merits of being in hell, stating, “Get autographs, if you can. They’ll go for a fortune on Ebay.”

Cara ‏@zippy219 was evidently in hell too on that day: ” I don’t see you! Are you sure you’re here? Wave or something so I can see you.”

Hell is a large and crowded place… probably because of all the damned.

Andreas Heinakroon@heinakroon, always the gentleman, offered his condolences, “I’m sorry to hear that. Say hi to Satan from me.”

Debbie ‏@debihen said, “My regards to Beelzebub and his minions.” She also advised me to run if they suddenly started handing out Kool-Aid.

Just be aware that if you make your comments too specific as to the actual activities at hand, it could be a little confusing.

For example, when my sarcasm buddy said, “I’m all for teamwork, but I’m not laying on the ground putting on a weird suit.” I had to Tweet that IMMEDIATELY. You never know if you are going to remember comments later, and this one was GOLD. Unfortunately, while I was right in the middle of typing my tweet, it was suddenly MY turn to drive the damn bike. This is where having a sarcasm buddy really comes in handy. My sarcasm buddy took me by the arm and guided me over to the bicycle/cult-suit-changing area WHILE I typed Twitter statements into my phone. Now THAT is teamwork!

Anyway, my point is that not many people got what I was talking about with the suit.

Gigi ‏@gigirambles inquired, “What the hell kind of team training are you at?!”

Rod Jordan ‏@AIRIGOAGAIN, who never lets the fact he has no idea what I am saying get in the way of offering sage advice, posted, “Just say “There’s no I in team, so I’M not laying on the the ground!”

Granted, I agree my statement was a little confusing. Allow me to explain myself in this next section. It won’t help alleviate any confusion, but at least I can say I tried.

STEP FOUR: Never wear the suit

As part of our team-building efforts, we had to race these bikes we put together, which was already a bad idea because our bike was trailing nuts and bolts and my sarcasm buddy and I were secretly hoping for the wheels and stuff to start flying off. But, the worst part is that the ‘coaches’ made you wear this ridiculous suit when you rode the bike.

Here is my sarcasm buddy holding up the suit.

Most of you probably already know what it is like to feel normal, but I spend most of my life glancing around at people thinking, ‘Are we really going to go for this?’ and then, sure enough, everyone is Zumba-ing the Macarena, or crossing minefields in blindfolds (see next section), or doing some dance where a guy keeps singing at you to go “to the right. To the right.”

When people brought up the idea we would all be changing in and out of this suit, my sarcasm buddy promptly stated, “I have OCD and I am NOT wearing that suit.” OCD is nice to have in a sarcasm buddy, because they are going to freak out at the stuff you are being asked to do way before you even think about objecting. In comparison, you get to seem like you are normal and willing to go along with crap. It is a nice feeling to have another person recognize the insanity well ahead of you.

STEP FIVE: Cheat

After the dancing and the knee touching, the ‘coaches’ made us wear blindfolds** and go through this ‘minefield’ of Frisbees and squeaky toys to get the bike parts. My sarcasm buddy and I decided that we would totally peek through the blindfold while yelling convincing directions like, “to the right. To the right”***, and “at an angle.”

Bear giving directions on how to cross the minefield.

Here is “Bear” (not entirely sure that is his given name) explaining that we are wearing the blindfolds because we are drunk (I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I was to be told we would be getting drunk and then being handed a blindfold) and that if you commit a crime when you are drunk it doesn’t count. Seriously, this is something they said. Apparently, being drunk makes you completely unaccountable for your actions. Don’t even get me started on the ramifications of applying this logic in real life.

Note that the minefield consists of Frisbees, mangled pool noodles, and squeaky toys. This is probably how we lost Vietnam.

This is the tire I brought back across the minefield while drunk on blindfolds.

At the end of this exercise, we still had the steering wheel and the brake left across the minefield. Our team was fairly confident we could carry on through the race without these two items, but then Bear just freaking GAVE them to us. Which both pissed me off  and leads us to the most important lesson of teambuilding: “Never let people make you cross minefields in a blindfold for car parts they are going to hand you anyway.”

I know you think you don’t need this shirt, but you do. You should buy three of them.

Remember that. It will serve you well.

Oh… I did forget one last picture.

This was my favorite part of the entire experience.

Side notes:

* You are probably thinking this is kinky shit I am making up, but I am DEAD serious when I tell you that this happened… in real life. I should make a documentary.

**again, I know you think is some kinky shit I am making up, but I cannot reiterate enough how all of this REALLY HAPPENED.

***see… NOW I know what that damn song was all about.

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