Singin' and Bling-Blingin'

Monday, September 13, 2004

That's Good. No, I Mean Great! That's Fucking Great!

It was a Friday night in mid-May of my junior year of high school. My dad and step-mom had just returned from their honeymoon and my friend, Heather, and I were on our way to a party. My dad and I had been living in an apartment but had moved into my step-mom’s house a week before. The apartment was mostly vacant, with just a couple boxes left.

Heather and I, thinking we were incredibly sneaky, hatched a plan in order to stay out all night. We did what every girl has done dozens of times. I told my parents I was spending the night at her house, and she told her parents she was spending the night at mine. The real plan was to go to the party then see where the night took us. When we were tired, we would retire to the safety of a vacant apartment to sleep.

At the party, we ran into a guy I had an incredible crush on, Mike. Heather and I invited Mike to spend the rest of the evening with us and, much to my shock, he agreed. My little heart was in serious palpitations at the thought of sleeping next to this hunk.

The three of us had something in common. We all wore contacts. Seemingly random fact, you might think. Heather and I were lazy and had grown accustomed to sleeping with our contacts in. Mike, however, had not. After we left the party, Mike made the request that we stop somewhere so he could buy some contact solution. I volunteered that since we were close to my house, we could just stop there and I would grab mine. It was nearly midnight and my dad and step-mom nearly always went to bed before ten o’clock. I thought I’d just slip in, grab some solution and a spare case, and be rewarded with lots of sweet passionate kisses from Mike.

Heather pulled up to my house and I hopped out of the car. I told my two accomplices in crime that I’d be right back. I quietly unlocked the front door and eased it open. To the immediate right was a hallway that led to my parents’ bedroom, my bedroom, a spare bedroom and finally, at the very end of the hallway, my bathroom.

First thing I noticed was that my parents’ bedroom door was open, which was odd because they always sleep with it shut. I immediately dismissed this thought as simply that they knew I was going to be gone all night and didn’t bother to shut the door. I didn’t think an open door would be a problem since they were probably already asleep.

I took a step towards the hallway and all of a sudden heard a low, deep moan emanating from the darkened, cavernous bedroom. I froze like a deer in headlights. The next second seemed to last a year as my brain slowly began to process what I had heard. Then, a statement I shall never shake from my memory confirmed my worst fears.

My step-mom’s voice, an octave lower than what it usually is, groaning, “That’s gooooood.”

I stood there for a split-second, not knowing what to do. Then, just like what a true prey animal does when confronted with something frightening, I followed my instinct. I spun on my heel, took the two steps back towards the front door, and fled. At this point I didn’t care if they heard me; I just wanted to be out of that house, free from this horrible nightmare. I slammed the door, not caring if I was quiet or not, not bothering to stop and lock it. I ran full-speed to the waiting car, jumped in and instructed Heather to drive. It was only the next day that I dared to relive the experience to her, only to finish to hysterical laughter.

My parents have never, ever mentioned that to me. Nor have I mentioned it to them. It’s impossible that they didn’t hear the door slam. But there’s an unspoken agreement to never discuss it. But from that moment on, I could never hear or speak the simple words, “That’s good,” without having that memory flash across my mind like a burning, searing lightning bolt.

In hindsight, I was a complete moron to not realize what my newlywed parents would be doing in an empty house. And now I will always be reminded of my momentary stupidity by that awful phrase, “That’s good.”

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

You're Not Cool Because You Bought A Shirt From NYU

Let me tell you about one of my pet peeves. I absolutely hate it when people wear t-shirts, sweatshirts or any other type of clothing from a school that they never attended, specifically when they wear that shirt to the school they are currently attending.

First I should probably begin by telling you about my school. I go to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Overall, UNLV is a pretty sucky school. Their athletics leave much to be desired and a monkey who can print his own name could get accepted. The average age of an undergrad is 27 and most of the students have children, families and full-time jobs. I think the total population of Greek life and athletes combined is somewhere around 1,000. The only program that is semi-redeeming about UNLV is the Hotel Management School. What can I say, we know how to throw parties. But I highly doubt UNLV Law is ever really going to be on the map.

However, I am at UNLV because I have basically a full-ride scholarship, as does every other Nevada high school graduate who can maintain a 2.0 GPA. That's right, Nevada won some kind of tobacco law suit and was given millions of dollars. To their credit, they put that money towards education. In any other state, this would be fucking fabulous, but in my state there's about 4 options of state-run schools divided among 2 cities. UNLV and Community College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, or UNR and the Community College up in Reno. The possibilities are endless.

So, now that you have the setting of my school, imagine how utter ridiculous it is to see a geeky-looking guy walking across campus in a Harvard t-shirt. I highly, highly doubt he ever attended Harvard. And if he did, and then downgraded to UNLV, then what the fuck is wrong with him?

Okay, so maybe his brother, or uncle, or dog's cousin's aunt went to Harvard. Guess what, Star Wars boy. That doesn't make you intelligent and successful by association.

Or perhaps this young man took a Spring Break trip with his high school National Honor Society up to Boston. The tour group made a special day-trip to the Harvard campus where he proceeded to sit on a bench and jack-off to his surroundings. They should not have allowed you to enter the bookstore where you bought a special t-shirt with the name "Harvard" emblazoned across the chest in 110-point font.

Of course this does not just happen with Harvard. Any semi-elite school has UNLV students sporting its name in hopes that it elevates them above the rest of the student body. Because maybe, for a split second in time, you think that they actually went to Princeton, or Yale, or UCLA, or any other school than where they're at right now.

I think perhaps my favorite kind of student are the Mormon kids who proudly display the BYU school colors. Guess what kid. You're not in Provo, you're not surrounding by your own kind, you're not taking a class in the Joseph Smith Building. You are in the fucking desert, surrounded by strippers working their way through college, and about 2 miles from your campus is one of the most sinful streets in the world. But perhaps your BYU t-shirt protects you from these evils.

If Harvard t-shirts make you smart and BYU t-shirts make you holy, then hook me up with a United States Postal Service t-shirt right now. God knows I'd love to go on a shooting spree and kill all of you. GO TEAM!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Cleavage and Biceps

I have recently stumbled upon a phenomenon. It’s not a new one, but I just happened to pin-point it a couple of days ago. I’ve dubbed it the Fat Girls Cleavage Phenomenon, and it has a male counter-part, titled Fat Guys Bicep Phenomenon.

**Disclaimer: This rant is NOT about fat people. It is about a certain type of fat people. You know who you are.

On Tuesday, for reasons I won’t go into here, I had to attend a basic Anthropology 101 class. I am in my upper-level classes and should graduate in a couple semesters. Now, I don’t know why there would be a distinction in the physical appearance of lower level and upper level students, but I was amazed at what the cat dragged into that classroom.

Out of maybe 40 students, there were at least 7 girls who were more than a little overweight. I’d say the average they needed to lose was somewhere between 30 – 40 pounds. However, of those 7, 100 percent of them were wearing some type of low cut halter or tank top. All during class, I stared at them and compared them, wondering why on God’s green earth they would wear things that looked so unattractive on them.

All of a sudden, the reason for the 10 pound sausages in the 5 pound casings hit me. These girls are convinced that if they show off their cleavage, it will cause guys to focus on the crease running from their shirts half-way up their neck, instead of everything else about their body. Their breasts are usually not even anything to be proud of, as they are generally too long or too wide or too saggy. But these girls are absolutely convinced that guys will notice their cleavage and nothing else. Sorry girls, that doesn’t happen.

Alternately, I’ve noticed that a lot of fat guys have a similar philosophy. However, they obviously don’t target their cleavage; they target their biceps. Why is it that guys who have little to no muscle mass and instead tip the scales because of their fat, wear sleeveless shirts? It’s because they think that they are allowed to show off their biceps simply because they are large. What they fail to realize is that their massive, flabby grandma arms that are always a strange shade of red accompanied by multiple small bumps along the back and underside are gross. Just because you have to buy a double XL t-shirt, it does not mean that you are buff.

And for the love of Christ, fat girls: Stop getting tattoos on your lower back and hips. Fat guys: Stop getting tattoos on your biceps. The fatter you get, the more distorted your tribal designs and daisies are.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Old People Are Funny, Part Deux

If you read the first edition of “Old People Are Funny,” you’ll know that my grandparents just moved to Las Vegas from Santa Rosa, California. This is the first time I’ve lived in the same city as them, so my family and I are experiencing more of the day-to-day life with them, as opposed to just vacations. Here are a couple more anecdotes of my wonderful Nonnie and Pops.

Pops’ hearing has been drastically fading the last couple years. Like most people in their nineties, Pops has hearing aids. However, my dad convinced him to go see a specialist so he could get better ones, as he still misses 90% of conversations.

Two weeks ago, Pops went to the specialist and was fitted for newer, more advanced hearing aids. Pops received them for a trial run a couple days later, which instructions from the doctor. He was to notice which sounds were still hard to hear, if they were comfortable, etc. Now, keep in mind, Pops has been wearing hearing aids for 20+ years.

My dad made a follow-up appointment for two days ago, however he noticed that Pops was wearing his older ones most of the time. My dad asked him, “Why are you wearing your old hearing aids?” Pops responded with, “The new ones hurt my ears after a while. I’m not sure they were fitted correctly.” So when they went to the appointment, my dad made sure Pops wore his new ones so the doctor could check them out.

After hearing the predicament, the doctor bent down to inspect the hearing aids. He looked in the right ear, looked in the left ear, then straightened. “Mr. Phillips, I figured out the problem. You have your hearing aids in the wrong ears.” Naturally, after Pops switched them, they fit wonderfully.

There’s a phenomenal restaurant in my neighborhood called Rosemary’s (really, if you’re ever in Las Vegas, you must make a visit). The whole family, Nonnie and Pops included, went for dinner a couple weeks ago.

Pops orders the house wine to go with his entrée and the waitress brings over a bottle. She announces to Pops that the house wine is Testarossa. Immediately, Pops’ face lights up. I happened to be sitting next to Pops and was a witness to this situation. The rest of the night went something like this:

Pops: “Santa Rosa wine?! How did you guys know we’re from Santa Rosa? Imagine that, we just moved here and we get a wine from back home.”

Waitress: “No, sir, it’s Testarossa wine.”

Pops: “I know, that’s what you just said, Santa Rosa wine.”

I see the problem developing here and make a quick decision that it doesn’t matter if he thinks he’s drinking Santa Rosa wine. I turn to the waitress and mutter to her, “Just play along.” I then say a loud thanks and she quickly flees the table.

Pops turns to me and once again proclaims his astonishment and being served a Santa Rosa wine in this fancy restaurant all the way in Las Vegas. I try to explain to him that she said “Testarossa,” not “Santa Rosa” but it’s just not getting through. Finally, after a minute of this, I give up.

All throughout dinner he talks about this amazing coincidence. Finally, the check comes and Pops asks my dad if he can see it to review it. He locates the price for the two glasses of wine, which were each $15.

Pops: “This is preposterous! No wine from Santa Rosa would ever cost $15 a glass!”

My dad quickly takes the check from him and ushers him away from the table, before he can freak out any more. To this day he still believes he drank Santa Rosa wine that night.

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Future of Sports. Or Sports Fans, At Least.

I work in a random sports store in a mall. No matter what city you live in or what kind of socio-economic class shops at a particular mall, I can just about guarantee that every mall has a store like mine. However, for those of you who never venture into those stores, let me describe.

There are two different types of sports stores. There are stores that cater mostly to true fans and sell your standard hats, t-shirts, jerseys and autographed memorabilia. Then there are the trendy sports stores who usually sell mostly shoes, but are also responsible for the obnoxious flat-brimmed baseball hats, the jeans with pieces of jerseys stitched on and doo rags with sports logos.

Thankfully, my store is the former. However, that makes for some interesting stories, since the black guy dressed from head to toe in baby pink can’t understand why we don’t carry the hat he saw last night on that new Nelly video while watching BET and eating fried chicken.

My absolute favorite kind of customer is the kind that don’t care what team they buy, as long as it matches the shoes they just bought. I can’t tell you how many times in a day I get a guy come strolling into the store with a pronounced gansta limp. He’s usually wearing a solid colored t-shirt so big it would fit Al Roker – pre-surgery. To off-set the plainness of his t-shirt, he will have a thick, 20” chain (either silver or gold) with a pendant the size of a silver dollar that shows his opinion of himself, a crown or a Superman “S” does just fine.

Next, he will glance around the store and decide on the employee most likely to be able to match colors. Avoiding my manager who looks like the stunt double for Harry Potter, he will “bounce” over to either myself or the ex-convict who has tattoos up and down his fore arms. Unfortunately, his fellow thug might be busy, so he’ll settle on the opinion of a girl, who he can also conveniently hit on while he makes his decision.

I’ll reluctantly ask if he’s looking for anything in particular and he’ll put down his Foot Locker bag and pull out a new shoebox. Out come the brand new pair of Jordans that he just paid over $200 for but probably cost $5 to make and he’ll only wear until the next pair comes out – in three weeks.

Merely as an example, let’s say that this particular pair of shoes are white and kelly green. A sample conversation might go like this:

Homie G: “Yo, I need a hat to match these shoes.”

Me: “Okay, um, do you have a certain team you’re looking for?”

Homie G: “Naw, I don’t care what team. But it’s gotta be dis color green, ya know?”

Me: “Well, there aren’t very many green hats.” [I turn around to face the “hat wall” which literally covers one entire wall of our store.] “It looks like the Celtics hats might match though.” [I lead him to the Boston Celtics hats and show him which ones may work.]

Homie G: “Aw, man, these are kinda tight. Yo, let me try this one on.”

Me: “Sure, do you know what size you are?”

Homie G: “Naw, I just need the biggest size you got.” [I look at his head. There’s absolutely no possibility that he wears a size 8 hat. But I dutifully go in the back and get a size 8. I come back out and hand it to him and he walks over to a mirror. He places the hat on his head, off center and examines himself. To the average person, the hat clearly doesn’t fit, is about 3 sizes too big and looks ridiculous riding on his read, clinging to his white doo rag for dear life.]

Homie G: [talking to himself in the mirror] “Ya, ya, this looks good. This hat tight.” [to me] “Yo, I’ll take this one.”

[I lead him to the register and as we walk I notice that he is focusing all his energy on bending the brim of the hat… so it’s straight. He bends the brim upwards, then looks at the hat dead on, decides it isn’t straight enough and repeats. We finally get to the register and I begin ringing him up.]

Me: “Did you want me to spray this with our water and stain repellant spray? It keeps it looking new and only costs an extra dollar.”

Homie G: “Ya, ya, go ahead.”

[I take the can of hat spray and begin to remove the size sticker from the top of the brim. Homie G stops me.]

Homie G: “Nah, leave that sticker on, ya know?”

[I don’t know what he’s talking about and think he’s a moron, but I leave it on. After he’s paid, he refuses the bag and places his brand new Boston Celtics hat on, crooked and off-center, with the size sticker proudly displayed.]

This is the same guy who will come in the next week and buy a New York Yankees hat. When informed that all our hats are buy one, get one half-off, he will select a nice, new red Boston Red Sox hat to go with his Yankees one. If that’s what a sports fan is nowadays, then God help us.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Phone Company Shines Light On Cookie Cutters

I was listening to Howard Stern this morning while I was driving to work. Work is about a half an hour away from my house and I had only been listening for about 7 minutes when Howard Stern broke for commercial. Now, for anyone out there who is not a fellow devoted Howard fan, let me explain the format of his show (or at least what we get in Vegas). There’s usually a solid 30 minutes of pure, unadulterated Howard between commercial breaks. However, when he does take a break, it’s a good 20 minutes of commercials.

Usually I don’t even bother to stick around, as I’ve usually reached my destination by this point. However, today I was thinking about errands I had to run, and therefore absentmindedly sat through the commercial break. This is where I heard possibly the best, and funniest, radio commercial I’ve ever heard.

It’s a Verizon Wireless commercial about some buy one, get one half-off deal. This is basically how it went (granted, the phone lingo was more prolific and technical):

(Imagine a male voice that sounds like a condescending Type-A personality)

“You and your best friend are clones. You have the same tongue studs, imposter bags and blonde streaks in your hair. You share everything. That’s why you need to visit your local Verizon Wireless to get the buy one, get one half-off deal. You can get two phones for cheaper and share all your minutes. That way, whenever you want to talk to your twin, you save money. And with the money you save, you can both go get butterfly tattoos on your back. The same butterfly.”

The Verizon Wireless advertising people are geniuses.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Valentine's Day Observations

I just found some observations I had written on Valentine's Day 2003. They made me laugh. So maybe you'll enjoy them too.

There are four different kinds of people on Valentine’s Day: the people who have someone and are happy, the people who have someone and get into huge fights with that special someone because of this day, the people who don’t have someone and so (for various reasons) they decide to go out and party, and the people who claim they’re going to either drink themselves into oblivion or get some major ass but in all reality end up sitting at home watching the Valentine’s Day marathons on FX. Sadly enough, I fully admit that I am in the last category.

How many of you who don’t have any concrete plans for Valentine’s Day woke up this morning and actually didn’t realize what day it was? I did that. Then, while I was watching my morning episode of Buffy, I saw an ad for the above-mentioned marathon and it hit me. Everyone today is going to be either God-awfully happy or suicidally-depressed. Then the suicidally-depressed people will spiral downward into a pit of depression so deep, only their neighborhood psychiatrist and his little colored pills will make them feel like living again. That should make the Zoloft companies happy.

When you’re in elementary school, you give out those little paper-fold-half Valentines. That's acceptable and even expected. In middle school, the thought of handing these out is appalling. I can understand; you’re trying to seem older than you are. In high school and college, you think it’s adorable, not to mention original, and also add a candy of your choice to the Blues Clues Valentines you chose over the Scooby-Doo Valentines because Magenta is oh so cute and hand them out to everyone you know. Okay, I can even deal with that. But explain to me exactly why I came into work today and found a Harley-Davidson Valentine in my chair from the 40-year-old president of my company. If she gave me a bonus, then I’d really know she loved me.

The funniest people on Valentine's Day are the ones who use the same recycled joke over and over again:
Random Person: "So, what are you doing tonight?"
Dateless Blob: "Oh, I'm spending it with Jack (and/or Jose, Jim, Captain Morgan, Ben & Jerry)."
These people laugh hilariously at their little joke because it’s so original and no one else has ever said it. It would be even better if they passed out little cards with a picture of SpongeBob and their creative one-liner on it instead.

I don’t care who the single person is, but everyone at some point in the day while feel a pang of loneliness when they realize they don’t have someone. I am one of those people. I walk around acting like it doesn’t bother me when I all want is to have some poor schmuck send me over-priced roses with an under-sized teddy bear attached and a love note that any other day I would find sappy and unnecessary. But hey, at least I admit that I want someone; not like all the other people who swear up and down that they are better off.

I purposely went through my wardrobe today looking for an all-black shirt to wear with my jeans and flip-flops. No festive colors today. Well it seems that I have already worn every single all-black shirt since the last time I did laundry. So I settled on my good old UNLV shirt. Since UNLV’s colors are red and black and silver, it’s a black shirt with simple red letters that spell out my wonderful university. Well naturally, I walk into work and the first thing Darren says to me is, “I forgot to wear red, but you wore some.” Thanks for noticing the other 2 yards of black fabric that make up my black shirt.

Apparently I was very bitter in 2003. I'm glad things have changed.