Saturday, May 28, 2011

America's Next Top Model

A few nights ago my wife was watching an episode of America’s Next Top Model (also known as Tyra Banks overusing the word “fierce” show) and Tyra was having a heartfelt conversation with the four finalists concerning their “realness.” What transpired next could only be described as a contest of emotionally-damaged one-upmanship of the highest caliber.

The first contestant revealed that her performance had suffered because she struggled with feelings of rejection since her birth-mother had given her up for adoption as an infant. Between rib-cracking sobs, she relived the waves of inadequacy that had permeated her childhood and prevented her from nurturing a healthy self-worth. Had her narrative continued escalating I was almost certain she would have recounted placing her head inside a gas oven after her first day of Kindergarten, but alas she was emotionally unable to continue.    

Not to be outdone, the second girl declared that her mother had suffered from extreme acrophobia and was mentally unable to leave the house when she was a child. This drew ridicule from her classmates which in turn caused her to withdraw from her surroundings. To this day it is difficult for her to trust again. The tale was so heart-wrenching it almost sounded like the girl had been brought up by a bridge ogre in a Disney film.

Taking her cue from the other contestants, the third girl dramatically admitted that she had once lived in a *gasp* trailer park! With soul-crushing detail, she reminisced about the horrors of dwelling in a pre-fabricated mobile estate and how the very fact that she was on TV proved that she was able to rise above the “adversity” life had dealt her. I felt the need to remind her that trailer park residents are often featured on television, it just usually occurs after a tornado passes through Arkansas.

I felt terrible for the third contestant because she was unable to produce a sufficiently-horrific circumstance to overcome. Do not misunderstand me, the rapid depreciation on a mobile home’s residual value is traumatic for anyone, but next to “I’ve never felt my mother’s embrace” and “I was raised by Quasimodo” it just rings a little hollow.

For that reason, I have fabricated the following fool-proof back story guaranteed to draw a tear from the audience while making the other contestant’s circumstances sound like a fairy tale:

My mother gave birth to me in a Waffle House men’s room, an area she often frequented to trade sexual favors for car parts. When I was three, my father was released from a mental health facility only to be recommitted a week later after attempting to eat a live parakeet at a Dallas-area pet store. He was later shot and killed while trying to rob an orphanage. I was then sent to live with my aunt and uncle at a religious compound where I was forced to fabricate explosives for the group’s “mission trips.”

After the ATF raid, I was placed with my paternal grandmother who had a debilitating fear of clouds and lived above a Vietnamese brothel. At the age of eight, she placed a handgun in front of me and requested that I “be a good girl” and assist her in “making the voices stop.” At the age of ten, I began sleeping outside of a crematorium, leaning against the exhaust port to stay warm in the harsh Colorado winters. By the age of fifteen, I was confined to a wheelchair (having lost my left leg in a bum-fight) and had developed a rare psychological condition that caused me to spontaneously urinate when I saw the color blue.

At the age of eighteen, I was kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Somalia where I was forced to manually animate propaganda films. By nineteen, I had contracted Bavarian herpes and was unable to digest pastries. By my twenty-first birthday I had saved enough money to purchase a one-way Greyhound bus ticket to New York for the America’s Next Top Model audition. If I am unsuccessful at this, I plan to end my life by consuming no less than 8 D-cell batteries.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Tree Cutter

A few Saturdays ago, I was disturbed by a rapid ringing of my doorbell. After laboriously extricating myself from the couch, I opened the front door to find myself face to face with a gentleman holding a fluorescent green flier. He informs me that he is a certified arborist and his company (Super Bill’s Tree Service or something similarly confidence-inspiring) was in the area and would love to perform some maintenance on the large oak tree beside my home.

He insists that for only a few hundred dollars he can “storm-proof” the tree by strategically removing several limbs in order to “streamline the canopy.” While I was fairly certain that there was no such thing as a “storm-proof” tree, my wife and I had somewhere to go that afternoon so I did not want to be drawn into a pointless argument with a stranger who had already monopolized ten minutes of my life that I would never get back. I continued to politely decline his services and he eventually left.

Within a few minutes, there was another knock at my front door and I made my way back to the hallway fully expecting to see Super Bill again. I had already resolved that I would tell him the oak tree had been planted by my grandmother during World War II using a seed she had smuggled out of Poland and it had come to symbolize the new beginning her bravery had provided for all of us.

Instead, I was faced with my elderly neighbor who informed me that she had just spoken to “Super Bill” and he and his team felt that the oak tree in question along with several trees in her backyard were dangerous and in need to immediate maintenance. She asked me if I would come outside and speak with them once more as she was concerned.

Stepping outside I saw “Super Bill” conferencing with his associate as they leaned again their pick-up. They quickly repeated their original sales-pitch and offered to cut us a deal if we went in together if we had the oak-tree between our houses trimmed. Still indecisive, my neighbor told them that being in her mid-80’s she was hesitant to spend too much on a house that was likely to be selling soon.

Hearing this, Super Bill quickly commented on how “young” and “vibrant” she looked while his associate (who had remained silent up until this point) began pointing out how much life she had left in her. They were laying it on so thick that I fully expected one of them to offer to leave his wife right there on the spot so that the two of them could run away together. Perhaps catching my debilitating eye-roll, Super Bill quickly informed my neighbor that she had the legal right to trim the branches extended over her property line with or without my consent.

I concurred that she was free to do what she wished concerning limbs on her property but that I would not be utilizing their services in any capacity. Sensing that she was not quite onboard, Bill changed tactics and pursued what I like to call the “violent death” approach.

Pointing at some of the trees in her backyard, he painted a rather vivid picture:

“Let’s just say it is a pretty spring day and you are walking through your back yard. An unexpected wind comes up and shakes loose one of the damaged or dead branches from a tree that you happen to be standing under. Next thing you know, it falls right on your head. At that point, there is really nothing they could do for you.”

On cue, Bill’s associate echoes, “Nothing they could do at all.”

Bill now adds the clincher:
 “Or, God forbid, one of your grandchildren is playing in the backyard when that wind comes up and that branch was to fall on them…..”

Bill’s associate lets out a long, somber whistle.

Within a few seconds, she had agreed to several hundred dollars’ worth of tree maintenance. As they drove off to get the rest of the crew she asked if I thought they were insured, licensed, and bonded.  My first instinct was something to the effect of “I could think of no reason not to trust the word of two complete strangers in a pickup adorned by an easily interchangeable magnetic decal” but I opted for “I sure hope so.”

As I was readying myself to leave the house, I observed a man climbing one of her trees with a chainsaw and a rope while instructing his partner to “move over a little bit” and I silently contemplated whether or not my homeowner’s policy had a specific rider for “damage caused by airborne lumberjack.”

When we returned home that night, the men had gone and there was a large pile of limbs neatly stacked in my front yard.   As of this writing they have been there for a few weeks and I fully expect that I will hear a knock on the door this Saturday and “Super Bill” will be standing there asking if I would like him to take of those pesky limbs for $200.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nudist Colonies

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article concerning the declining popularity of nudist colonies.  Despite the fact that the nation’s 250 colonies generate over $440 million in revenue every year, their membership numbers are steadily declining due to their inability to attract a younger generation of nudists. Apparently the elderly are more inclined to spend their money on nudity than today’s youth, a phenomenon I witnessed while visiting Hot Springs, AR several years ago.

Desperate to attract new adherents to the lifestyle, several colonies have implemented events geared toward a younger crowd. One example is a naked 5K race. Other than a lower instance of arthritis, I cannot understand why this would specifically attract younger contestants. While I have never run a 5K naked, I can only imagine that it would be both uncomfortable and unflattering to jog with your luggage unsecured.

One young girl in the article complained that while she liked the lifestyle she avoided the retreats because there was no one there her age. She said that she felt like she was being leered at like “eye-candy” around some of the older men. While her discomfort was probably warranted, I am not sure being surrounded by twenty year old men is going to reduce objectification. I just assumed that when one joined a nudist colony, having one’s accessories inspected came with the territory.

I suppose there could be some inherent freedom in an all-nude lifestyle, but there are several activities and professions that I would not want to perform in the buff:

Operating a weed-eater - With their tendency to turn small rocks and acorns into projectiles there is a very real probability that I could sustain an injury serious enough to “sink my battleship.”

Mountain Climbing – a grown man spread eagle on the side of a large rock straining to reach a hand-hold cannot be a pleasant view for those left at base camp. Plus, the likelihood of dangerous loose boulders increases greatly.

Restaurant Waiter – you may get lemons in your water whether you requested them or not.

Bull Rider – that amount of violent bucking and jarring cannot end well, plus not wearing  pants makes a belt-buckle just seem superfluous.

Traffic Cop – because let’s be honest, when the officer approaches the driver’s side window of your Honda Civic to write you a ticket you really do not want to be staring at his “deputy.”

Most who are attracted to the natural lifestyle claim that publicly displaying one’s birthday suit is a liberating experience and that we shouldn’t allow society to pressure us into being ashamed of our bodies. Clearly these people have never worked in I.T. or been to a southern flea market.

I am just not convinced that shame is the whole issue preventing a younger generation from embracing the nudist lifestyle. After all, I doubt many would argue that today’s youth conceal their bodies beneath loose-fitting prudish clothing to begin with. Perhaps the real issue is economic. Who wants to pay someone for the privilege of being naked when they can do so at home (or on the Internet) for free? Also, where are all these hip kids going to keep their iPhones? Where do you keep your keys at a nudist colony?

With all the downfalls of a nude lifestyle, there are some advantages. You could certainly breeze right though airport security and people would not keep asking you if that was your natural hair color. I assume it would also reduce wars between nations since it would be difficult to identify the enemy without a uniform.

I believe that while nudity has its place (the bathtub, Judd Apatow films) I am not sure that it is exactly holding society back. Einstein managed to develop his theory of relativity and advance physics all while wearing clothing. I also think nudity would be detrimental to the president because when a man goes on national television to assure me that everything is under control, I am more likely to believe him if he is wearing pants.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Love At First Night

As I consider myself a connoisseur of useless statistics derived from baseless studies, I was overjoyed when newly-created site decided to conduct a survey. The website, a dating service that matches you with other single people who share your taste in music, asked 400 of its users how far they were willing to go on a first date. The idea was apparently to correlate sexual promiscuity with listening preferences and the findings were nothing short of mythically-asinine.

Not since attempted to associate a user’s number of sexual partners with their brand of cell phone has a less impressive set of data been compiled. discovered the following:
·         Generally, fans of hard rock and hip-hop tended to be more liberal with their personal space boundaries during initial encounters.
  • Fans of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Kings of Leon tended to fall on the conservative side.
  • Fans of Metallica, Linkin Park, and Kanye West tended to be more liberal with their inhibitions.
  • Fans of Coldplay were the least likely to consummate a relationship on the first date.
  • Fans of Nirvana were the most likely to sleep with someone on the first date.
The jokes began almost immediately with one online commentator confirming the study’s findings by observing that several female Coldplay fans had given him the “cold-shoulder.”  Another retorted that Coldplay’s music was “introspective and emotional” and that tended to reflect the mindset of their fans. A third user, seemingly unaware of the article he was commenting on, espoused the benefits of snorting cocaine and did not mention music at all.

At the risk of basing broad assumptions on a study that involves 400 users of an experimental music-themed dating service who are comfortable answering personal questions about their sex life, I was taken aback that Nirvana and Metallica fans were so prominently represented. What is at the root of their willingness to copulate with a complete stranger? Does the lyrical content of these songs serve as an aphrodisiac? Are eligible singles being lured back to apartments with a promise of red wine, candlelight, and a copy of Kill ‘Em All?

Let’s look at a few of Metallica’s better known songs to see if we can uncover their hidden carnal undertones:

now that the war is through with me
I'm waking up, I cannot see
that there's not much left of me
nothing is real but pain now

hold my breath as I wish for death
oh please God, wake me

While not my particular cup of tea, it does have a sweeping macabre romanticism about it. Perhaps something from the early years will further clarify. Let’s take a look at the band’s ode to capital punishment:

Ride the Lightening

Death in the air
Strapped in the electric chair
This can't be happening to me

Who made you God to say?,
I'll take your life from you

Flash before my eyes
Now it's time to die

Although not inundated with the obvious sensuality of Barry White or Sade, there could be a percentage of the population that finds felony murder and its consequences a precursor to lovemaking. I will say that if you are truly in the market for a “hopeless” romantic I can think of no better subject matter than debilitating war injuries and state-sponsored executions. Using this template I have penned a short love poem along these lines:

Your beautiful eyes sparkle and inspire
Like a live wire igniting my funeral pyre
Fingers touch, linger, and pull away
Soon they too will succumb to decay
Soul crushing darkness marinated by despair
Depression and pain is ours to share
My will to exist lost, our demise intertwined
Loathsome attraction sought and imprisoned by shame
Won’t you be my friend on Facebook again?

Seattle power-house Nirvana did seem more straightforward in their amorous references. Let’s look at the slow burn of “In Bloom.”

Sell kids for food, weather changes moods
Spring is here again, reproductive glands
We can have some more, Nature is a whore
Bruises on the fruit, tender age in bloom

Certainly the references to human sensuality are more vivid in Nirvana’s lyrics, but one could also make the argument that Mr. Cobain was referencing human trafficking and seasonal affective disorder. Also, someone may or may not have sustained genital injury by having their “fruit bruised.”

Another obvious choice for seduction is the Nirvana track “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.”

Broken heart and broken bones
Think of how a castrated horse feels
Most people don't realize
That two large pieces of coral,
Painted brown, and attached to his skull
With common wood screws can make a child look like a deer

All the key elements of eroticism are there; compound fractures, animal castration and even craft projects for the kids. In hindsight, naming their third studio release “In Utero” seems almost prophetic given the carnal undertones of their lyrics.

Some have speculated that the blatant sexuality displayed in songs by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry placates the listener’s desire for actual risky behavior whereas hard rock fans are lacking such a potent outlet. Of course, the other option is that the study is unscientific, deeply flawed, and useless; but to be fair I have never tried Cannibal Corpse and candlelight so maybe I am missing the boat.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Let’s face it, traditional funeral home visitations are inconvenient, awkward, and criminally under-catered. The only thing longer than the lines are the uncomfortable gaps in forced conversation but we endure them because we wish to pay our respects to those who have passed on while letting their families know that we are there for them.

One California funeral home has implemented a unique solution that allows mourners to pay their respects without the social pitfalls and long waits of traditional visitation ceremonies. Since 1974, Adam’s Funeral Home in Compton has offered “drive-thru” funerals by placing the casket behind a large display window under a covered drive-thru. This set-up allows family and friends to view the body and sign the guestbook without ever leaving their vehicles.
Adam's Funeral Home
When asked about the unusual service, owner Peggy Scott Adams insists that a drive-thru funeral is “a convenience thing” allowing those with hectic schedules (or even mobility problems) to participate in the grieving process. While many still view the idea as a gimmick, the process became widely popular in the 1980’s when gang violence was so prevalent that graveside services were often the scenes of drive-by shootings.

Ever the clever marketers, Mr. and Mrs. Adams installed bullet-proof glass in their display windows so that the family members could stand beside the casket and “receive” guests without having to worry about the Rolling 60’s Crips sneaking in a couple of “ratchets” to try  and catch somebody “slippin’. While the level of gang-funeral assassinations has declined, Adam’s funeral home continues to find its unusual services in high demand.

This got me wondering, if something as seemingly absurd as drive-thru funerals could sustain Mrs. Adams for over three decades, what other enhancements is the industry overlooking?

The visitation fast pass – not just for theme parks anymore, the fast pass ensures that you don’t miss Letterman because Aunt Gertie keeps rambling on about how “peaceful” Mildred looks. You simply display your fast pass to any parlor employee and you can go from the door to the deceased before your creepy uncle even knows you’re there.

Surrogate Pall-bearing – while being selected to carry your step-dad’s aunt’s body is quite an honor, you also realize that the pig iron and solid mahogany casket she selected is going to be quite a burden on you since the other seven designees have been drawing social security checks since Reagan’s 1st term.  

First Class-Seating – sometimes those antique folding chairs just cannot provide the lumbar support necessary to endure all thirty-seven stanzas of Amazing Grace. For a small fee, VIP mourners will be provided with a recliner thereby ensuring that the corpse isn’t the only body that gets to stretch out.

Headstone Sponsorships – With the skyrocketing cost of a traditional burial, why not let a corporation bear some of the financial burden? Ads will be discretely affixed to the back of the headstone allowing unobstructed viewing of your epitaph by loved ones. Examples include:
“This interment has been brought to you by your local Suzuki dealer if our new line of fuel-efficient sedans doesn’t get your heart racing it’s because your name is already on the other side of this tombstone!”

Third-Wheel Plots – While traditional funeral homes only provide burial plans for couples, we are pleased to announce that our exciting new cemetery configurations allow you to be buried with your wife and your secret Brazilian mistress. Secret second family? Sister wife? No job is too small and no deception is too big for our expert staff.   

Custom Cremation Scents – Why settle for the clich├ęd smell of incinerated cadaver when your remains could be infused with our custom “odor enhancement packages.” Favorites include “fresh cookies,” ”lavender solstice” and “Georgia pine.” We can also add hickory chips to the processing chamber for the grilling enthusiast.

In-house photography – Allow our expert staff to document every second of the mourning process. We offer a variety of affordable packages and every order includes a complimentary 8X10 of the deceased. Also, don’t forget to ask our staff about the “It’s never too late for one last family portrait” special during the month of September.

Banned Books

Every year the American Library Association, or ALA, releases their list of the most banned or challenged books for that particular year. A book is considered challenged if someone at a school or public library completes the necessary forms to file an official complaint due to objections over subject matter, theme, or content. Just because a book receives a large volume of written complaints, it does not necessarily mean that the book would be removed since that decision ultimately rests with the local authorities that govern the library.

The ALA reports that the majority of complaints they receive every year are due to a work being “sexually explicit” or containing “inappropriate sexual innuendos.” Such phrases have been used to challenge everything from The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill A Mockingbird to the Twilight series and Judy Bloom novels. I must admit that I find most of the complaints ridiculous as I have read a great number of the books filed under this banner and most of them wouldn’t be salacious enough to make an episode of Basketball Wives. In other words, these books provide the exact same information offered by the goateed 5th grader on the school bus except the books have the added benefit of serviceable grammar.

Apparently the most challenged book of 2010 was And Tango Makes Three; a children’s book about two male penguins at a zoo that raise a baby penguin named Tango. The book was published in 2005 and is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap penguins residing at New York’s Central Park Zoo. The two “paired” and were given another couple’s egg which they successfully raised together. The book’s parallels to same-sex adoptions in human couples caused a firestorm about whether the book was “indoctrinating” children with a devious “political agenda.”

Conservative powerhouse Focus on the Family even released a statement indicating that Silo the penguin was not actually gay in real life since he later matted with a female named “Scrappy.” Despite Focus’s investigative journalism, officials have been unable to determine whether Silo actually “changed teams” or was simply experimenting while away from his home enclosure. Regardless of Silo’s orientation, the book brings up a larger issue concerning censorship. At what point does a book become so detrimental to society that it must be banned from public or school libraries?

For some perspective, we can look back at the single most challenged book series of the 21st century: Harry Potter. J.K Rowling’s series about a young wizard was the single most protested work of literature in any genre according to the ALA because of its perceived association with “witchcraft and Satanism.” The books faced legal challenges in Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Michigan, Ontario, and even the author’s native England. In 2002, the United Arab Emirates banned Harry Potter books from all private schools.

This controversy is all relative of course since John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men once suffered the same fate and is now required reading by many school systems. Other classics that have topped the list include Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Great Gatsby. Several literary giants have found themselves on the receiving end of ALA complaints over the years:
  • George Orwell made the list several times because he was feared to be a communist.
  • Ernest Hemingway was accused of writing “sex novels.”
  • William Faulkner made the list because he “used the Lord’s name in vain” and seemed to question the existence of God.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s books were burned at a Protestant church in New Mexico in 2001 for being “satanic.”
While there is something to be said for making sure a copy of Letters to Penthouse 5 doesn’t find itself nestled between Dr. Seuss books in the kids section, I am not convinced that the Harry Potter series is the single greatest literary threat to our children’s moral fabric. Are there really that many middle school kids renouncing their Judeo-Christian heritage after finishing The Sorcerer’s Stone? Are these parents discovering that little Timmy suddenly develops an unhealthy interest in pentagrams and ritualistic sacrifice after visiting the J.K Rowling display at the local library?

If you don’t want your child reading Lord of the Rings because it involves wizards, hobbits, and nefarious jewelry that is your decision to make as a parent, but this is still America and it is unreasonable for you to control my child’s access to a book that you do not want your child to read; especially when that book was purchased with taxpayer funds. However, I am impressed that these parents visit the library enough to bother filling out an ALA complaint. I have long suspected the majority of the American public views the library only as a place for homeless men to pee.

Ironically, it appears that making the ALA complaint list increases sales by generating notoriety. It is for that reason I have decided to pen my first novel. It is a children’s book about a foul-mouthed atheistic lesbian that illegally enters America from Mexico in order to make contact with her long-lost son. The plot takes a real turn when she discovers that he is a small-time arms dealer working as an orderly in a Palestinian-funded abortion clinic in rural Mississippi. It will be titled “If Jesus Ain’t In Stock, I’ll Just Take a Snickers.”

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Creeper

A few weekends ago, my wife and I attended a Pete Yorn concert at the New Daisy Theater on Beale Street. While we were waiting for the opening band’s gear to be cleared off the stage, I noticed a young girl (I guessed her to be late teens) in a black cocktail dress followed closely by a man who looked to be in his late 50’s. As the two traversed the room, he warily eyed the other attendees while maintaining a rather defensive posture around his female companion.

I gestured toward the man and commented to my wife how refreshing it was to see a parent concerned enough about his daughter’s safety to accompany her to a concert. Perhaps a friend had planned to attend with her and had to back out at the last minute so her father had graciously stepped in to ensure that his daughter could safely enjoy the show. I even hypothesized that I would have been uncomfortable allowing our “future” teenage daughter to attend a late-night concert on Beale Street un-chaperoned.
The Original "Creeper"

Content in the knowledge that parental responsibility and sound judgment were not relics of a bygone era, I turned my attention to my cell phone until the house lights indicated Pete was about to take the stage. Glancing around I located the daddy / daughter duo to my left, who had moved closer to the stage in anticipation of the headlining act. Then I noticed something troubling: papa’s hand was slowly descending down the back of the young woman’s dress and before I knew what was happening he was “squeezing her Charmin.”   

I began to suspect that either my initial assessment of the couple’s relationship was inaccurate or my instincts had been dead on and this show was just the closest Pete Yorn was going to Mississippi on this particular tour. As the concert progressed, so did the geographical area covered by the gentleman’s hands. Had his physical examination been any more thorough, I believe state law would have required her to sign a HIPAA form.

As the silver fox settled in at second base, the young woman had begun conversing with a nearby concertgoer while her left hand vigilantly prevented the creeper from stealing third. Undeterred, he left her side momentarily to retrieve a beverage and that was when I noticed that the black button-up shirt he was wearing featured the outline of a dragon on the back. The design was subtle enough that the outfit could pass for business casual from a distance but distinct enough to let interested females know that he would not rule out attending an after-party.

Their delicate dance of his increasingly-emboldened hand placement and her gently-enforced physical boundaries continued throughout the show and became such a distraction to my wife and myself that we began speculating on how they met. I was of the opinion that he was a recently divorced real-estate mogul and they had met after she acquired an internship at his firm. My wife’s explanation was somewhat more straight-forward: “He’s a creeper.”

Having heard the word used in a similar context by other young women, I did a little research to clarify exactly what behavior qualifies someone as a “creeper.” contained multiple user-submitted definitions, so I took a sampling of the top five:

Creeper  -   an offensively unimaginative word devised by tacky, braindead college students to describe people they deem sinister, indecorous, uncouth, or otherwise unpleasant.
In context: "omg, i was gettin wasteyface at bennigan's, and some creeper was totally creepin on my bestiessss!!!1!!

This particular definition was submitted by some guy named Sherman but I was somewhat weary as the bitter tone wreaked of a recently-spurned advance. I decided that Sherman might be a bit of a creeper himself so I continued down the list:

Creeper - Typically a nice guy, but is called a creep because girl's can be ruthless jerks.
In Context  -"Hi Sandy"
                                    -"Get away from me you creeper!"

This definition also seemed to have been submitted by a man with an apparent axe to grind. I began to wonder how these one-sided definitions had been voted into the top five out of hundreds of submissions. Perhaps the easiest way to spot a creeper was to gauge how much time they spent on…..

Worried that tarrying much longer on the site would label me as a creeper, I quickly located a submission from “Bridget” that described the qualifications thusly:

Creeper -  Older men who hang out in college clubs and bars and stare at girls half their age and occasionally make obscene gestures and comments.

In Context - Look at that creeper over in the corner staring at you. He is wearing gold chains and his shirt is unbuttoned to show off his chest hair, gross.

These characteristics seemed to fit our fellow concert-goer like a Hot Topic gift card so it appears that my wife’s assessment was accurate. I have also been told that creeper sightings are a frequent occurrence at local gyms and health clubs, a place that some believe is the creeper’s natural habitat. As I have never witnessed this firsthand, I understand that one minute a young woman will be enjoying a few reps on the leg-press machine when she notices an older gym-member has finished his set and is leering disconcertingly at said young woman.

I thought about submitting this as a definition to Urban Dictionary but was concerned that after a few more page visits I would be labeled as a creeper.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Osama Block-Party

Like most of you, I was first made aware of the military operation that brought down Bin Laden through traditional news dissemination models. Namely, my wife was on Facebook and saw a status update from someone she went to high school with declaring the Al Qaeda leader was dead so we turned on the actual news to confirm.

Low and behold, CNN was declaring that the world’s most wanted terrorist had been killed during an American military operation in Pakistan and that the president would make the official announcement in a few minutes. In an attempt to fill time until the president addressed the nation, the onsite camera crew had turned their attention to a gathering crowd outside the Whitehouse. Through the fence, I could see that hundreds had congregated in jubilation and were performing an a cappella version of the 1969 Steam hit “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” 

I found this ironic for several reasons, not the least of which was that the song had been removed from many radio station playlists after 9/11 because it was feared to be insensitive by Clear Channel. Other titles deemed inappropriate for post 9/11 airplay by Clear Channel included “Bad Day” by Fuel, “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty, “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by The Gap Band, and any song that Rage Against The Machine had ever recorded…..ever.

Musical selections aside, the reaction of the crowd caught me off-guard. Frat guys were cracking open beers and young girls were shoulder surfing and high-fiving each other with such unbridled enthusiasm that for a moment I suspected that CNN was showing archive footage from a late 90’s Limp Bizkit concert. Rock-fingers and cabbage-patching became ubiquitous as the crowd continued to grow and I could not help but wonder if this was the correct reaction to the president’s announcement.

Do not misunderstand me; I truly believe that the world is a better place without Osama in it and I applaud the tireless effort and sacrifice it took to bring such a moment to fruition, but I became concerned that a few of the revelers might have been one set of plastic beads away from removing their tops.

Personally, I found the moment to be rather somber and poignant. This one man had set into motion a chain of events that would culminate in the worst act of terrorism in the history of our nation. This attack would then directly lead to a massive manhunt and our occupation of two separate foreign countries only to discover that the object of our search resided in neither. We have now added 1.2 Trillion to our nation’s debt, and infinitely more important, we have sacrificed 6,000 soldiers brave enough to bet their very lives on the causes we believe to be just.

Ideally, the news of Bin Laden’s death would immediately usher in an era of complete stability in the security infrastructure of Iraq and Afghanistan. Our troops would all come home and the pain felt by all of those affected by Osama’s actions would abate. Organized terrorism would collapse and our way of life would revert back to the relative blissful ignorance we enjoyed before the twin towers fell. But we all knew that was not going to happen because history has taught us that the reverberations of a human life (whether righteous or unrighteous) cannot be neutralized by their death.

All of this put into motion because a tall, bearded Saudi Arabian was able to convince a sizable number of people that God required unspeakable violence be done on His behalf. When the name of God is no longer invoked to spill the blood of the innocent, proliferate hatred, or justify personal vendettas. When all of our troops have returned safely home to witness their child’s first steps and embrace their loved ones, then I will be the first one celebrating in the streets of our capital; but until that day you will just have to forgive me for keeping my top on.