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Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Very Special Norma and Patty Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, Norma hears something from Patty that sounds lonely, so she tries to invite her over.
“Patty, I have some nice thin-sliced ham, why don’t you come over for a sandwich or something?”
“Oh, no, I could never do that, I don’t want to impose.”
“Oh, Patty.”
Then Patty’s family stops over, punches her in the stomach and takes her wallet.
By nightfall, Norma has one end of the kennel clean.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tragic Immigrants vs. Ravenous Rodents

China Max, my favorite source for Chinese food, constantly struggles to survive: Just one Chinese family with marginal English in a battle to make ends meet. They close for one hour a day to pick up their kids from school, then come back to continue their 12-hour day of working for less than minimum wage. They’ve tried many strategies to raise profits, including menu changes (at one point buying a $1000 grill to make American burgers and ribs, which no one ordered), being open 7 days a week, lucky Chinese decorations, etc. Their kids stay in a little storage zone in the back doing their homework, playing with the same pile of toys and watching the same 2 or 3 videos on a tiny TV. They’ve hired register girls a few times, but never for long, because they can barely pay them.

They have a garden at home, and the wife (“Maxine,” let’s say) has shared a few vegetables with me, and I have given her some seeds and plants. This year, a groundhog set up shop there, eating well from their garden bounty. They said they bought a little gun and were trying to shoot it, but he’s “too fast and smart.” So I said I would loan them a trap, which I already had. I brought it over the next day.

For a week or two, they had it set up wrong. They said nothing would go in the trap, and I could tell from their description that they didn’t put it together right. “Max” brought it back and, on the back step of the restaurant, I reviewed the instructions and showed him how to set it. I kept thinking, “Great, now everybody who sees us thinks we’re trapping cats or something for the restaurant, as in the local “cashew kitty” joke. That turned out to be the wrong problem to anticipate.

Within a week or so, they caught a possum. At first they didn’t know what to call it, nor did they know what to do with it. I said, “Just pull it out and throw it in the ditch somewhere--it will act dead, so it’s not dangerous.” Then it was back to never catching the groundhog, who just polished off the freshly sprouted snow peas Maxine planted, among other things. “Groundhog is very smart,” they said more than once. My new advice was to cover the trap with some sticks and leaves to camouflage it, which they did.

Finally, after two more weeks, another beast was captured. Max went over to check the trap before taking his kids to school. He kicked the branches aside and received a full-frontal blast of skunk spunk. Staggering back to the car, he opened the door and the kids went running out, yelling, “It stinks, it stinks!” He changed his clothes but still smelled like skunk for a couple of days. I think he ended up letting the skunk starve to death in the cage, because there was no way to get it out without being sprayed again.

My wife said, “God, when is he going to just give up and die?” China Max, when will the tide of woe turn away from that shore where you have been buried up to the neck? Like Leslie Nielson in Creepshow, you will have to hold your breath for a long, long time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Open Letter to Tootsie Roll Industries

above: the author suppresses his "cough nubbin"
re: Junior Mints

In response to the terribly unsatisfying “story” on the back panel of the Junior Mints package:

Over fifty years ago a new “Star” was born. Given Junior Mints’ popularity at the movies it comes as no surprise that the brand was named after a top Broadway play in 1949: “Junior Miss”!

My contempt for this story can scarcely be conveyed—from its capitalization of the word “star” to its utter failure to impress me with anything resembling irony, verbal wit or even mere surprise. For starters, I see negligible connection between Broadway and “the movies” in the contemporary world. Perhaps if I’m seeing “Chicago,” this tale reeks less of utter senselessness.

I have also discovered that your product, if devoured in a time of illness, can stimulate the “cough nubbin” region of the throat during those most sensitive moments of movie-seat tension. Perhaps if you printed a warning on the box, vulnerable consumers would not be caught unawares, thus reducing these disastrously inopportune occurrences of “tickle throat” and subsequent coughing fits. Something like "Junior Mints may aggravate the human body" would cover most situations.

Let there be no confusion: this in no way subtracts from the immense pleasure I derive from the mints themselves. You have engineered a chocolaty capsule fully capable of delivering its flowing minty payload—it’s a rampaging taste sensation, there’s no denying that. However, numerous mints do not survive their journey to my theater seat intact. Many a box has bottomed out in a disappointment of mashed, merged, bleeding, wrecked and otherwise compromised treats, a phenomenon I refer to as “Manure Mints.” It is my wish that, for everyone’s sake, you will rectify this snacking catastrophe with some kind of space-age wisdom or system of recompense.

Mr. "Woody"