Freudian Slips: November 2005

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

November 29, 2005

Rich Man, Pough Man

I am dying of thirst by the side of the fountain.” Charles d’Orleans
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania - On Saturday November 18, 2005 18-year-old Terrell Pough was senselessly murdered. In this jaded world, I wonder whether a reader’s eyes even wince at the murder of one before turning the page. Terrell Pough’s story is distinctive so hear me out for a minute.
A single parent with custody of a toddler, Pough was recently honored this past August by People Magazine as an outstanding teenage father. As the night manager at a fast-food restaurant and student learning how to rebuild abandoned houses, the mere mention of the plurality of his vocations conjures strength, struggle, and identity. Pough was gunned down on his way home from work. Most accidents happen close to home and home is often a state of mind. Pough was shot in the head in front of his home. He might as well have been shot in the heart because I can’t imagine his final thoughts on this world as he lay dying. Pough's Honda Civic was stolen from the scene. In the cruelest of ironies, this car was actually donated by a benefactor who read the People article. The Lord giveth, some murderer takeith away.
Pough is survived by his daughter, Diamond. Somebody tell that Diamond left in the rough that her dad was a hard-nosed shinning example to all of us. A random cruelity for the ages, the very same element that Pough tried to escape from through single parenting, schooling, and employment lurked in the shadows and eventually got the best of him.
In a prophetic excerpt from that People article, Pough said, "If something ever happens to me, no one can ever tell her that her dad didn't take care of her."
Some promises are meant but can't be kept. If by happenstance I come across a ballot for Man of the Year for 2005 my write-in nomination begins with the yellow crime tape on a doorstep and ends with the name of Terrell Pough. His death may go relatively unnoticed but his life should not.
And now you may all resume regular programming in this cutthroat world. And for anyone who can’t turn a cheek, turn the page.


November 27, 2005

The Real Turkey

- Bones to pick at the carving station on Thanksgiving 2005. Among other things, my hand mixer somehow resembling Casper the Friendly Ghost.
I took it as a welcome sign when my youngest daughter asked me about holiday cooking recipes. The question from an inquiring mind may have revealed my culinary skills, my age, and a glaring weakness in my personal recipe book. Now I have general recipes for how to clean and cook a turkey as well as for making homemade stuffing but the written information isn’t organized step-by-step so that it could be deciphered by the bequeathed.
It should come as no surprise to any regular reader of Freudian Slips that about 4:30am on Thanksgiving morning with everyone still asleep and the stuffed turkey cooking, I returned not to bed but the computer to write down the step-by-step directions still as fresh as my kill. I sequenced my thoughts with tiredness put on the back burner. I not only saved the file to hard drive, but printed and laminated a hard copy. I forced myself to add it to the three ring binder of my recipe book before scaling the staircase. Job done. When you run out of things to do as an obsessive compulsive, sleep becomes a welcome mat. My mind and body hit the snooze button around 5:30am. Sweet dreams.
I arose around 7am and my first peek in the oven convinced me that my new enamel pan was doing too good of a first time job. I didn’t want to cry fowl but the bird had already started to brown inside a covered pan during the second hour. This was extraordinary for a 20 minute per pound golden rule of thumb in the poultry annals. I kept a close eye on the bird for the next couple of hours but there was no denying that the turkey was cooking at mach speed.
After a few frantic calls around town, it seemed to be a well known fact that enamel pans cook turkeys a whole lot faster. Everyone had a leg up on me and I was the real turkey. I also learned in my drummed up conversations that turkeys cook moistly at 350 degrees. What kind of chef was I wasting valuable time and sleep preparing birds in pre-dawn hours only to cook them at 325 degrees in an inferior pan year after year? By pumping the oven up a Emeril Lagasse notch can save hours off of cooking a big bird. I did the new math. When it was all said and done, this talk of the town 33 pound bird was cooked in a record 8 hours. Looking ahead to a brighter future, I crunched the numbers. Even another 30 pound monster should take no longer than six hours if I cook it at 350 degrees in my enamel pan.
I guarantee sleeping from dusk till dawn the last Wednesday in November of 2006 even if I choose to cook an entire ostrich for offended vegetarians next Thanksgiving. Heavens to Betsy, I just realized that I got to update my recipe book again to reflect the pertinent changes. If my kids could see me now.


November 24, 2005


Here is something to chew on for Thanksgiving. Not far along into a new year, I received a telephone call from an inspector.
After some chit-chat, she announced, “I went into one of the foster homes under your supervision.”
I took a deep breath. “Oh, you did? Which home are we going to be talking about?”
Inspectors take their jobs seriously. I knew this phone call could be about any one of a half dozen homes and any number of deficiencies from misuse of an extension cord, clogged lint in the dryer trap, a medication error, or alleged misappropriation of funds.
“I was out at the Lengerxines home in mid-January, Joe. Interesting lady. I looked into her oven and guess what I found?”
Humm, I thought to myself. This sounds like the makings of a trick question. I was kind of boxed in with nowhere to run. “I don’t know." I guessed, "Food?”
“A cooked turkey.”
“Poultry isn’t a code violation these days, is it?”
“No. No. You don’t understand.” the inspector stopped me in my wisecracking tracks. “I mean a cooked turkey that was cobwebbed and rotting still sitting in its roasting pan.”
“Jesus!” I muttered like a poser trying to gain some composure over the state of decomposer. I offered a reasonable explanation. “I guess Mrs. Lengerxines cooked on Christmas Day and forgot about it.”
“Joe, that is exactly what I said to her but she jumped up and down in protest.”
I had a feeling this story was going to go from bad to rotten. “And…” I replied cringing on the other end of the phone.
“She apparently only uses the oven a couple times a year and insisted she ate over a relative’s house on Christmas. So her oven still had...Thanksgiving dinner in it! I asked her what did her family eat for Thanksgiving. She insisted turkey. It looked like a whole bird to me but Mrs. Lengerxines swears she put the turkey back in the oven for leftovers.”
“Oh my God!” I tried to fight my way out of a compromising situation with levity. “Somebody needed to flip Mrs. Lengerxines the bird. She puts the leftover in Thanksgiving leftovers!”


November 22, 2005

New Jersey... A State of Mine

In 2005, New Jersey taxpayers shelled out a $260,000 contract to a marketing firm for duties which included coming up with an iconic State slogan. Their dubious brainchild turned out to be New Jersey…We Will Win You Over which miserably coincides with local and national headlines exposing the corruptness of State government’s pay-to-play politics. Excuse me but marketing geniuses and global image consultants couldn’t do better than We Will Win You Over? What was their runner-up choice, New Jersey…The Greasy Palm State? To eloquently borrow a Donald Trump business motto for closure “You’re fired!” Thank goodness the Freudian Slip of a slogan wasn’t embraced by Acting Governor Codey. So the hunt continues for a slogan for New Jersey.
Why is it so hard to come up with a State slogan for New Jersey? Let me count the ways. The State has an inherent image problem. The general public largely associates New Jersey with corruptness and negativity. Not too mention that we are still picking up the coattails of a governor who resigned and ran from public office because, in short, he was finally honest with himself and comfortable in his own shoes? New Jersey is nicknamed ‘The Garden State’ but we are the most densely populated state in the nation overrun by crowded interstates. The high cost of living is stained by car insurance premiums that never got its reform and skyrocketing property taxes that may never get relief. Heck, we even lost the Miss America pageant to Las Vegas, The Sin City. All of the above isn’t a blemish on a pretty face but rather a major facelift on a needy land.
There is no question that New Jersey needs to reinvent itself and the sooner the better. People need a message to rally around. So we must sidestep major barriers to even unearth a positive image. Freudian Slips tries to look for the silver lining in a black hole but I had my work cut out for me here. Now there is no Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore in New Jersey but we do own a beautiful coastal shoreline. After I thunk and I thunk, here are my suggestions for a better tomorrow:
New Jersey...Work, Play, Stay
New Jersey…More Than A Shore Thing
New Jersey…Where People Make a Difference
New Jersey...Dreams Got To Start Somewhere
New Jersey…Scores of Shores and So Much More
New Jersey…Your Experience in a State of Mine
A commitee of one, I plan on submitting my slogans to Governor-Elect Jon Corzine after he takes office. Maybe one of my slogans will win Corzine over.


November 20, 2005

10,000 Maniacs

Maybe the tag line for my blog 'Loose Lips Link Freudian Slips' is catching on. On the same day that my blog posted its 10,000 visitor, my downloaded stats revealed a lot of first time visitors to the website. I learned later on through a subsequent email that Postal.mag has picked up my most recent blog story called Going Postal. Cool recognition. You can find my story as a link on their web page under news for November 17, 2005. Freudian Slips is the headliner. Now that is not only first class treatment but it puts the post in postal.


November 17, 2005

Going Postal

The female clerk at my local United States Post Office runs the tightest ship in the mailing business. She is a pint-size emotionless fact seeking missile with no traces of maternal instincts. I wouldn't be surprised if she never raised children because my explanation is that she would have killed them at an early age. The clerk is the kind of worker who memorizes Wanted posters on her lunch break. Under different circumstances, I could easily see her as a high ranking Nazi soldier. The clerk is, however, terribly efficient at her job but her customer relations feel like intolerable cruelty. It took me awhile to not personalize the caustic way she conducts business but I realized that she treats everyone alike. I could do my mailing elsewhere but since my epiphany I now find her both amusing and a source of entertainment. She is like the most annoying character on your favorite TV sitcom. By merely tuning in, you never once doubt that there are characters like this living in the world.
Her eyes meet mine. There is never any time for hellos. She starts the conversation with a typical question.
"Would you please slide your package forward on the counter? Not everyone is five feet tall."
Her shortcomings became mine. "Sorry about that." I replied. "I forgot."
She grabbed the package sure handedly and propped it on each of its four sides before checking the top and bottom for God knows what. I am still waiting for her to learn how to sniff incoming packages for explosives. I patiently wait for the first red flag. It is always something. She could turn the request of a first class postage stamp into the McCarthy hearings. This time I aim to give her a run for her money.
"I want to inform you that this box has a puncture mark. It is substandard packaging."
I defended, "It was a used box that I found laying around my garage without a real purpose in life."
"We sell new cardboard boxes, sir. They are located on shelf two 180 degrees behind you."
I didn't bother to turn around. "I don't know about the US Postal Service but I have my own recycling program."
She replied, "Our boxes are also made from recycled materials."
"But your new boxes don't get rid of the old ones in my garage." I replied. "I think this one will do. It's only going across a couple of county lines."
I knew there would be hell to pay once she inspected the tape. "Weren't you in here last week?" she piped. "Didn't we have a discussion about inferior packaging tape?"
"Yes, you scolded me as recently as last week but I'm still finishing up that inept roll of masking tape."
Her eyebrows raised. "Looks like we might have damaged goods here. I warned you."
"Yes, you did warn me. Twice. It's a sticky situation but I used lots of masking tape."
"I can see that." Her posture stiffened. "You only made it heavier, more costly."
"Considering all of its shortcomings, I still wish to send it media mail."
She asked, "What exactly is in the box?"
"It's my autobiography. When I was writing it, I never imagined my life would fit into such a small box but it does."
The clerk didn't bat an eyelash. She continued her relentless pursuit. "Is it a book, publication or what?"
"A book."
"Is anything else in the package? The law says that you have to divulge the entire contents."
Since I mail out the occasional copy of Stop and Smell the Silk Roses, I have crossed this bridge before with the clerk. I once lacked clarity and admitted to stowing away a handwritten letter on the inside flap of my book. On that fateful day, the clerk explained in no uncertain terms that media mail was a stand alone item that could not be combined with other offers. She disqualified it from media mail discounting which left me a deeper reach into my pockets to cover the cost of first class shipping. I wasn't going to make the same honest mistake again but I felt a prevailing sense of passive aggressiveness come over me.
"Peanuts." I shouted.
"Peanuts? Peanuts, the snack?"
"No. Non-edible packaging peanuts."
"Very good, sir. Media mail it is. Would you like return receipt, confirmed receipt, or neither?"
"Do you care to insure the item?"
" confident are you that it will get it to its intended destination?"
My question was entirely unfair. It was like baiting Cheers' Cliff Claven.
"Sir, need I remind you that the US Postal Service is the safest most reliable postal institution in the world?"
"All I needed was a little reassurance. Thank you. No insurance."
She placed the package on the precision scale then grimaced. "Your handwriting on the package is almost illegible. Could you make a mental note to write bigger and clearer next time?"
"It has got to be a mental note. If it were written, I may not be able to read the reminder note."
I laughed. "I'm joking."
She didn't. "Sir, I'm totally serious."
"I wouldn't expect anything less." I wiped the smile from my face. "I will try and improve my penmanship."
I had no inkling what was next. "And next time could you please use a magic marker or a fine point permanent marker and not an ordinary pen?"
"Yes, we have talked about that nuance before but my kid misplaced my blue Sharpie. I got to find it."
"Blue?" she squawked with everything but a call to the police.
She caught me by surprise. "What is wrong with the color blue?"
"Black is the color of choice for postal writing mediums."
"Postal writing mediums? That sounds like a psychic sending a postcard."
She responded, "$1.42 is your total."
I turned behind me and eyeballed the line that had formed. About two people back, I spotted an elderly woman comforting a small perfectly square package. It boasted clear packaging tape and beautiful markings in eyelash thick black ink. I felt like sticking my tongue out at her. Instead, I turned back around and handed the clerk a $50.00 bill to consummate the transaction.
"Do you have anything smaller?"
"Not until I get change."
Begrudgingly, she made change and actually thanked me for my business. I moved out of the line before being told to do so. I thought I had finally silenced a critic. On my way out the door, I reached into the candy dish atop the counter for a Dum-Dum taffy. That is when I heard the crack of frauline's voice.
"Please don't take any more candy than the suggested allotment. The sign clearly limits one piece of candy per person per visit."
"Holy Adolph Hitler!" I muttered under my breath.
The day may be fast approaching when I drag a live baby alligator by the tail into that post office, cram lollipops in its eager jaws, flip it on the counter, ask for free gift wrapping, and insist Wally Gator needs to be mailed return receipt to a PO box in a bogus town in the Florida Keys.


November 15, 2005

Eyes on the Prize

In the recent collection of paperwork stuffed in my mailbox at work, I separated a flyer from the rest of the pile. The flyer informed me that I am entitled to collect my 20 year Service Award in this my 21st year of uninterrupted employment. Better late than never. Ironically, the award has nothing to do with actual service or performance. It is a benchmark measure of attrition. As I held the flyer to the light, I thought of the warped sense of accomplishment to have survived enough battles to still be in the war after two decades. The actual awards, however, left a lot to be desired:
  • Behind door #1 we have a lovely picture frame clock so I can watch the rest of my life pass by next to a photo of the family I miss. I have seen similar models in upscale Dollar Stores.
  • Function and practicality burst out of door #2. A sturdy leather portfolio so I can carry around even more work. Honestly, I got enough baggage in my life.
  • Nothing but class and eloquence awaits the prize behind door #3. A bankers style desk lamp. Comes already assembled and complete with its own lightbulb. Too bad my desk has been broken for the last 13 years. One of the legs detaches itself from the frame. Without warning, my desk collapses on my lap and everything slides off. I don't want to add another tabletop prop to the disaster waiting to happen.
  • I selected the crown jewel for my servitude - A Palm pilot with inadequate memory since replaced by two later models. Batteries not included.

All awards contain an official seal of your employee making resale value on Ebay virtually non-existent. Not unlike previous awards, one day in the future I will find the Palm pilot next to my desk. There will be no ceremony, acknowledgement, or handshake from anyone of importance just business as usual. Even a lousy parking ticket gets handed to you. I love my vocation so I do not want to come off sounding jaded but 20 dedicated years of one's life deserves more formalized recognition. My employer could revamp the Service Awards.

I don't want to get ahead of myself but I just got to toil another quarter of a century for the 45 year service award: a golf bag. Working nearly 50 years of my life for a golf bag with a $29.99 suggested retail value is not par for the course. A bitter man might call that catty(caddy) every time the alarm clock sounds in the morning.


November 13, 2005

Foiled Foliage

-view from my brother's backyard in Connecticut
I just returned from visiting my younger brother in Connecticut for a long weekend, where I found the true meaning of brown out. Ah, there is nothing like hiking 180 miles northeast and missing the New England fall foliage by less than a week. When I caught my brother scrounging around for snow shovels in preparation for a long winter, I realized autumn sightseeing was passe.
The weather and company, however, proved quite amicable. Even though the chlorophyll had been extracted from the leaves, we had ample time to enjoy the great outdoors by playing flag football and whiffle ball until our hearts content.
Although I missed my wife, it felt relaxing to get away for awhile. I returned to a broken vacuum cleaner, broken wall clock, a computer infected by a Trojan virus, 106 emails to answer, 3 Ebay sales to ship, and my own leaves to rake. Foiled again!


November 10, 2005

Tong Lashing

Passing through Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal casino floor last week, I stopped at the Money Wheel. It has long been rumored to be a sucker’s game but there is something about the flipping of that leather tong around the horn that I find both an irresistible lure and an insatiable fix. The clicking noise alone hooks me.
The big spender that I am, I laid a $5.00 bill on the table and the dealer let me play for exactly five spins. A scruffy man in his thirties immediately took my place front and center. I gave way. He threw his hooded winter jacket to the casino floor and laid down a one dollar bill on the table in exchange for a single chip. I stood immediately behind the newcomer to see if he would have any better luck. He paced and fidgeted. By chance, the wheel stopped on a number contrary to his desired outcome. He muttered a curse word, stepped over his jacket, then gave me a strange look. I couldn’t imagine what he wanted from me.
“Buddy, do a hurting guy a favor and pick my jacket off of the floor?”
I remarked. “You can’t pick up your own jacket?”
He nervously made jerky and exaggerated bodily movements before turning his back on me. He thrusted his shirt up to reveal bandages wrapped tightly around his skinny torso. He pointed to the middle of his back where I couldn’t help but notice a dried blood stain covered in gauze and mummy wrap. It looked like a red bull’s eye on sheepskin.
“Christ, can’t ya see I got stabbed this morning? I just got out of the emergency room.” he complained. “So are ya gonna help me or not?”
Talk about a tong lashing. His request did not fall on death ears but I wasn’t going to let him prey on my emotions either. I showed him that neither charity nor a wounded back was needed for the simple task. Using my foot, I picked up the jacket by the grab of the hood. He reclaimed his jacket and walked away fleet afoot.
I wondered if only addicted gamblers who escape death rush from the treating hospital to a casino floor to lay down their last dollar. Present company included, money wheels must really be for suckers.


November 08, 2005

Resuming the Resume

Last Thursday, I found myself in an awkward conversation with a frantic co-worker who needed to update her resume for a fast approaching promotional opportunity. I could feel the tension on her fingertips. Job hunting would never happen to me and I felt relieved. Why? No presiding need. I haven’t updated my resume in over a decade and I haven’t applied for a single job in over fourteen years.
I recognize that I am a rare breed at my worksite. Most people are not like me. Working among more than a fair share of malcontents, I have job satisfaction. I would call it a 9 on a satisfaction scale of 1-10 with a point withheld for minor garden variety complaining. Some might call my stewardship as nothing but static servitude while I prefer to label it as contentment.
Yesterday, I stumbled across a part time job advertisement in journalism. The embedded irony in Freudian Slips would have it no other way. The Courier Post newspaper is seeking a columnist for a small weekly feature about people and places in my county. My blog is a testament of stories about people and places in my community anyway. So no different than my colleague and little different than my blog, I sat down tonight and scrambled to update my dusty outdated resume. The resume building proved to be the easy part. The requirement of supplying three writing samples gave me excruciating pain in the temples. It took me an hour to update my resume and an additional two hours to languish over the writing samples. If humor and snap decision making is in any way counted against applicants, I may not have the write stuff.


November 06, 2005

To The Letter of the Danielle's Law

On September 20th 2005 I posted a controversial story entitled Danielle’s Law and Rescue 911. It was about the New Jersey law which resulted following the tragic death of a developmentally disabled person in a group home. Evidently, the Google search engine is alive and well. Jenna Martin, the senior editor of, sent me an email shortly after my posting and requested an interview. I granted a brief phone interview and contributed to her news article called N.J. State Law Causes Concern in Epilepsy Community. It is rewarding for Freudian Slips to get referenced as a source. Not only do I have a voice, I have found listeners. Thanks Jenna for your concerned voice in the disabled community!


November 03, 2005

Pretty in Pink

While working my way through college, I masqueraded as a night custodian in an elementary school. There were three custodians that worked staggered shifts in the grade school. I closed the school and worked the witching hours from 3:30-11:30pm. The custodians were a tight clique although we had our philosophical differences. Bob wallowed in the evening shade of his life. Even when he wasn't tipping the bottle, Bob had a habit of denigrating whatever didn't fit into his 'old school' ways. In the throes of a mid-life crisis and afraid to leave his dust mop behind for the computer field, Bill languished as the underachiever. I was the youngest and most idealistic of the three of us. I had social work in my blood and they smelled my bleeding heart a classroom away. Our differences made it a working relationship for all of us but schooling for me.
Bob was a macho man who never met a woman he did not like. He was a meat and potatoes kind of guy who distanced himself from anything with doily and lace. A man's man with chauvinistic undertones, he had an indefatigable sense of humor as the gatekeeper of 10,000 puns. Bob and Bill used to ride me and never let up about my good will to man. Because I voiced a compassion for human life, Bob was the ringleader in using me as a whipping post. I kept what was best of me and took what was best of Bob, a photograhic memory of every pun he ever told. Bob and Bill nicknamed me "The Dog" because I was kind, obedient, and loyal to everyone. As a janitor, I never perceived their nickname for me as complimentary but I embrace it a lot better as a lifelong social worker.
In the summertime, the three of us worked day shift. One day not unlike the others, the three of us sat down on break to work on a crossword puzzle. How many janitors does it take to do a single crossword puzzle? I told you. Three. Bob got way out of line with his unruly jabs. I am never defenseless with my quick wit but Bob crossed the line. He deserved to be taught a finer lesson that cross words couldn't do justice to. While Bob and Bill tried to think of a nine letter word for poseur, I acted absentminded and schemed for a comeback that would etch permanency. Where do you hit a masculine guy that would get his goad? The answer laid in a four letter word that is a synonym for feminine.
Next to the boiler room, Bob had an office with a padded comfy chair, a desk with personal possessions, and a coat rack. Bob's office was a place for him to hang his hat on and he did just that symbolically and literally. As the head custodian, Bob had dibs on the only custodial office and he relegated Bill and I to closets in separate wings of the building. Bob's office was not only a source of pride but his sanctuary for escape.
With a formulated plan for revenge sketched out, I made a pit stop at Home Depot on my way to work and prepared to work overtime. After my eight hour shift, I walked down to Bob's office and laid out my tools of the trade. Over the next five and a half hours, I painted his office a magnificent hot flamingo pink! Feminizing his office sure felt like strokes of genius.
Bob confessed to smelling fresh paint before he even turned on the lights the following morning. Wanting nothing more than the smell of a fresh pot of coffee, Bob's hairy nostrils feared the worst in the pitch black darkness of the school. He wasn't puzzled at all by the paint only the color.
"Pink!" Bob cried in an empty building by his lonesome.
He hit the four letter word for feminine in stride on the first try. So let it be written that Bob became the only custodian in the school district with a hot pink office. Teachers often brought up the color of Bob's office as a source of ridicule. The children laughed at him. To make matters worse, Bob had to explain to every deliveryman, contractor, and substitute custodian that walked through his office why it looked like Candyland. Bob often asked me how I had the fortitude to do something like that.
I alsways returned volley with one of his puns. "Every dog has their day."
The truth of the matter is that a practical joke is as long as you want it to be and as impractical as you like it. Bob, Bill, and I eventually went on our separate ways. Bill and I left for the real world. A few years later, I got word that Bob transferred to another elementary school down the road. For the longest time, I had devilish ideas of greasing the palms of their night custodian and repeating the pretty in pink performance. I never got around to carrying out the joke.
In 1997, I learned Bob had died a lonely man before he even had a chance to retire. Right after Bob's passing, Bill had the opportunity to go through his apartment but he had little to his name. Bob died of a heart attack in that apartment next to the last prank the three of us carried out together - a framed 8x10 color picture of us drunker than skunks standing in knee-deep snow during a blizzard wearing only our underwear. By our smiles alone, we looked like dimwitted stooges in great white death. Like I said, a practical joke is as long as you want it to be. Some you can even take to your grave.


November 01, 2005

The Frito Bandito of Lip Synching

I received the pleasure of being introduced to a new staff member at a sheltered workshop that employs handicapped clients. Early into the conversation, the energetic woman let me know that she is hearing impaired. I told her I understood but she established three ground rules to communication: always face her, enunciate words, and remember to speak in a loud conversational tone. These sounded like public speaking fundamentals so what human service worker would give her lip over such reasonable professional courtesy?
My stories usually begin with me minding my own business and this one is no different. While pecking out a letter on my laptop at work, I began to inhale a chemical smell. It was a nasty smell that only got worse. The culprit turned out to be a plastic sippy cup that had runneth over a dishwasher rack to melt on the heat coil. I couldn't shake the smell. So I pulled my polo shirt up over my nose to act as a bandana mask. My raised shirt helped buffer the toxic smell. I returned to a rather peculiar looking typing style at my desk.
About fifteen minutes later, the same hearing impaired staff member walked from her neighboring building over to my office cubicle. As irony would have it, it had been only a week since our inaugural meeting. Our eyes met as she rounded the corner but she did not acknowledge my smile. My hand pointed to an empty seat for her to sit down. She scooted into a chair closest to my desk. We began to talk about a mutual client when I sensed her becoming perturb. I assumed that the awful smell of plastic meltdown had overcome her. Alas, she asked me a question that required a lengthy explanation regarding resources in the community. About a sentence into my discourse, she interrupted me.
"Joe, you're being quite rude. You know that I can't read your lips with your shirt pulled over your face. Could you please stop it? Stop it right now."
There was no masking her feelings. People wear their emotions on their sleeve but this was about none other than the shirt on my back. Embarrassed over my wardrobe malfunction, I yanked down my bandana and breathlessly apologized. But by now, the toxic smell had dissipated. It had disappeared without a crime scene investigation trace. I stuttered trying to explain away the bizarre circumstance but she wasn't buying the wardrobe malfuntion or my newfound speech impediment. I had become an politically incorrect Frito Bandito bastardizing the art of lip synching.


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