Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Comics today suck

I'm thinking of boycotting the funny pages. I just can't take it. Maybe this isn't an overall, nationwide thing; maybe it's only a Midwestern thing. But seriously, are we really that boring that the only way to tickle our funnybones these days, the only way to access shared experiences and philosophies, is to comment on the pieces of suburban existence?

Humor should reflect the person, right? So what do today's comics reflect about me?

Let's talk about the weather.

Teens text a lot.

My kids are so cute!

Getting old sucks. Let's talk about the weather.

Admittedly, there are comics that go beyond the pedestrian. Doonesbury. Mallard Fillmore. On a good day, Get Fuzzy. It's just that the Chicago Tribune nixed most of these over a year ago. The readers have spoken: when we need to be entertained, we don't want to think. Which is why I read so much about cute, texting kids out playing in the weather.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Pathetic Moment of Triumph for my Pathetic Scrapbook (for my Pathetic Old Age)

Had to hear some complaints about the testing director from some of my classes today. "Oh man, she's so mean." "God, do you know, like, if you don't have the test number for the quiz you're supposed to take, she, like, yells at you? She can't just turn around and look it up?" "Yeah, she's a total Nazi."

If I were Jon Stewart, I could do a whole bit on bad Nazi analogies. But I did have one card to play.

"Remember that one time we were reading the Declaration of Independence?" I asked them. "And we got to the word 'inalienable'?" And you didn't know what it meant?"

Nods. General agreement. Some of the sharper ones are already starting to look abashed.

"And I told you to reach under your desks and grab that thing called a dictionary, and look it up?" Pause for drama. "And you said it was too much work?"

Pause. Beat.

"So I'll see you one Nazi testing director," I said carefully, "and raise you twenty-five honors seniors."

Nobody took the bet. But when we got to "interposition" in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, they did take their dictionaries.

Friday, March 11, 2011

When I Get Passionate (I Also Get Stupid)--Published: 2001, Park Lake, Inc.

George Edison walked into his swank Upper West Side apartment just after six p.m. He slung his jacket in a corner and turned on the television real loud. He made himself a bourbon and water, slamming ice cubes into the glass with maximum force and noise, and made sure to belch loudly several times before shouting, "Jessica! Where's my dinner?"

He heard nothing. Glancing about the apartment, he saw his wife's coat and floral-print purse lying on the sofa, next to a suit coat, pair of pants and silk underwear he didn't remember leaving there. Shrugging, he finished his drink and walked towards the bedroom.

The door was slightly ajar. He went to push it open, then paused.

"Is your husband home?" he heard a male voice asking. "I don't want him to catch us together, making love."

"No, lover," his wife's voice, unusually husky and labored, responded. "Don't worry. I locked the door hours ago, and he'll be at work until six."

"Then there's plenty of time for us to finish making love."

"Yes, lover. Plenty of time. For lovemaking."

George frowned again. Something seemed suspicious. He burst into the room and found his wife of six months in bed, the covers up to her shoulders. Next to her sat a balding, near-naked man with a thin mustache, in the midst of kicking his shoes and socks off.

“Jessica?” George intoned quizzically. “Didn’t you hear me come in?”

“Oh, hi honey!” she chirped, making shooing motions to the man next to her. “I was in the shower. Doing my hair. And making a plate of brownies. How was your day?”

“Jessica, I think…I think we need to talk.”

“All right, darling,” she said, making a warning gesture to the mustached man, who promptly dove into a closet two steps away from where George stood, shaking and scratching his head slowly. “But can we make this quick? The plumber is coming over to take a look at my pipes.” Jessica giggled obnoxiously at her witty double entendre, and then, remembering she was supposed to be playing it cool, tapered down to a series of annoying horselaughs.

“Jessica, I don’t know why, but I think…I think you’ve got something going on behind my back.”

“Goodness!” She looked as though he’d accused her of stealing the rags off a homeless orphan’s back, and George felt immediately guilty for making such a beautiful, faithful woman look so upset. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I mean, I work all day, and when I call you’re never here. I come home and you’re always in the shower, or in bed, or in bed with another man. I just don’t know what to believe any more.”

“It’s all in your head, darling.” Jessica, waiting for George to turn and look out the window, made seductive noises towards the man in the closet, who was hanging out the door, grinning widely and giving her the thumbs up. “You’ve been working too hard. You’re imagining things.”

“Am I?”

“Yes, dear, you are. Where did you get the idea I would ever be unfaithful to you?”

“I don’t know…” George shook his head moodily. “I wish I could believe you.”

“You can believe her, pal,” said the man in the closet. “She’s as faithful as I am to my wife.”

“Maybe…” George shook his head some more. “Maybe…”

“Maybe nothing. Oh pooh!” Jessica kicked her negligee under the bed and wrapped a robe around her as she got out of bed. “This is all so incredibly silly. Just look at the facts. I say I’m faithful to you. Benny says I’m faithful to you.”

“Benny? Who’s Benny?”

“Exactly!” she shrieked, hooking an arm around Bennie’s neck briefly to give him a long, lingering soul kiss. “Who is this Benny person you’re always going on about? You’re pulling it all out of thin air, dear! You need to relax.”

“Maybe you’re right,” George said, accepting a handkerchief from Benny so he could wipe his eyes, which were tearing up at the thought of the shame he’d just brought on the most wonderful woman in the world. He was beginning to feel ridiculous. “I’m sorry, darling. How could I be so insensitive?”

“It’s all right, darling,” Jessica cooed, patting him on the shoulder and leering seductively at Benny. “Why don’t you take a walk to clear your head? It might make you feel better.”

“Good idea, darling.” George went to go get his coat. “Will you start dinner while I’m out?”

“Um, probably not. Maybe you should eat out.”

“Another good idea. It’ll clear my head.”

“And dear? Make sure you’re not back until after nine? And knock first, so you don’t surprise me. Or Benny.”

“I will, dear.” George’s eyes were moist again, but this time with unbounded love for his radiant, slightly-perspiring bride. “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, you know.”

“That’s nice, dear,” said Jessica, batting her lashes at Benny and shuttling him back into bed. “Now don’t make me put the chain on the door—nine p.m. Not a minute earlier. Larry the carpenter is coming over later to…”

“To check our your drawers?” Benny suggested?

George laughed out loud. That Benny. What a card…