A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Obi-wan Kenobi patented his “Jedi mind trick,” allowing him and his cohorts to pass through a checkpoint of stormtroopers looking for them. He had to explain to a confused Luke Skywalker that he can use “the force” to influence the “weak-minded” and manipulate their decisions, thus manipulating the entire outcome of events.
It has come to my attention in recent weeks that said mind tricks have made their way from the aforementioned distant galaxy into our own, specifically to Richmond, VA; where I am Jedi-mind tricked on almost a daily basis. In fact, when I sit down at the end of the day and rehash its happenings (OK, lying on couch during a commercial break), part of my routine is to identify the “Jedi” who temporarily brainwashed me so I can be ready for them next time. Thankfully, these local Jedi don’t have lightsabers and can’t use the force to move objects, but they can temporarily hypnotize me into paying twice what I originally allotted for goods and services that are non-essential.
For example, I went to Jiffy Lube today. My oil light had been flickering, and I couldn’t get an appointment at my usual place, so I stopped in for the $41.99 service–just needed an oil change and told the lady I wanted to be in and out in 20 minutes. When I got home, I saw a receipt for $101.74. Then it started to come back to me. I was sitting there, drinking my complimentary coffee, when I saw them take every filter out of my car (and probably someone else’s car, too) and lay them on the counter for me to evaluate (like I know wtf a worn filter looks like). What Rational Dan (the summation of my cognitive abilities) was screaming to Interactive Dan (the mouthpiece for the dominant personality at the time) was “HEY. They just pulled this out of this machine you park outdoors. It’s dirty, its supposed to be dirty. You got your filter replaced like 10k miles ago, don’t worry about it.” Unfortunately, Rational Dan had been paralyzed by the Jedi mind-trick. Interactive Dan, who has no cognitive responsibilities (much like Tequila Dan, Concert Dan, and Sleeping Dan) immediately ordered the replacement of the well-functioning filter with the shitty, aftermarket Jiffy Lube filter. Not able to see Rational Dan beating his head against the wall and screaming for help, Interactive Dan was also shown his windshield wiper blades. When asked what they looked like to him, and with Rational Dan paralyzed by the Jedi-mind trick, Interactive Dan replied with, “it looks like a windshield wiper blade.” The lovely gentleman went on to explain that they looked faded and worn, and that my visibility in inclement weather was similar to Helen Keller’s in normal weather. “Replace them!”, cried Rational Dan. I was adamant when I walked in that I only wanted the $41.99 service and I wanted to be out in a “jiffy.” Even as I was signing my receipt, it hadn’t dawned on me that Anakin Smoothtalker had used the force to get me to spend an additional $60. What was that about the weak minded?
Jedi-mind tricks are also a favorite of co-workers and backoffice support. One particular woman, we’ll call her “Darth Violet,” uses her black magic on me so often that she’s nearly achieved the greatest ruse of all: convincing me that there is no ruse, and that I’m just crazy. “Hi Violet. I need a form faxed to me, can you send it please? I have a client waiting.” Pause. Fake static. Crumpling Doritos bag. Cell phone ring. “No he dihinnnnnn.” “Can you hold, sir.” “I’ve been holding.” “Sir, please continue to hold…” “Maam I just need a…” Automated hold. “Thank you for waiting. Your time is valuable. Thank you for your patience and a professional will be right with you.” I’m so angry at this point, I slam down the phone, loosen my tie, and lament the 5 minutes of my life I’m not getting back. Hell, I even forgot why I called. A professional? I just spoke to some sort of animal– crunching chips on the phone, talking on her cell phone, all the while putting her 6,000 calorie diet and sex-life, I shutter to think, ahead of me and my client, both of whom pay her salary. Then it occurred to me– I hung up. She never left her desk–she knew she wouldn’t have to. The force is strong with that one.
I was at Lowe’s recently, looking for a dimmer switch for a light, when I approached an electrician/Jedi…we’ll call him Obi-Juan. “We don’t carry it.” “Well, you see I saw it on the website and I feel like this is pretty common and something you guys have,” I said. He waved his hand across my face and proclaimed, “I know this store like I know my own wife. We don’t carry it.” So I went home, got the SKU number and called it in. Obi-Juan must spend as much time with his wife as Tiger did with Elin in 2009 because they had 18 in stock. However amazed I was by his ignorance, I was more amazed at the way I acquiesced to it. Despite knowing full well that Obi-Juan had no idea what he was talking about, I took his word for it and walked away. Just like the stormtroopers who saw the droids they were very clearly looking for, they “moved along.”
Like vampires or communists, we often brush shoulders with Jedi and don’t even know…until it’s too late. Our money is gone. Our problems remain unsolved. Yet, someone is taking our money. Someone is passing along our problems. May the force be with you…because it is absolutely with them.
In the 1991 classic film (and book) “The Silence of the Lambs,” the East Coast is terrorized by the serial killer, Buffalo Bill. Ultimately, the FBI turns to another serial killer, Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) to help track him down. Buffalo Bill captures his victims by luring their good nature, then holding a chloroform rag over their face. In the movie, he captures a girl by pretending to need help loading furniture into a car. Eventually he kills them and uses their skins/hair to be a creepy tranny.
Anyway, the story isn’t important. I feel like everyone has something in their lives that is trying to kill them. Everyone has some problem, be it work, alcohol, drugs, bad relationships, all of the above, whatever. Everyone has a Buffalo Bill.
My Buffalo Bill happens to be a lot like the actual Buffalo Bill. She works in my building. She has propositioned me on several occasions, and I am in fear for my life. “So let me get this straight, there’s someone at work that wants to take you into the supply closet and you’re complaining?” Don’t worry, I’m not that lucky. She is in her 40s and looks a lot like Redskins Hall of Fame lineman, Russ Grimm. She is 6’3”, probably two bills and a fifty, and lives in a place that makes an apartment complex in downtown Baghdad feel like the penthouse in the Dakota. I’d walk the streets of downtown Richmond at 3 am with $100 bills taped to my forehead wearing a shirt with the Confederate flag, whistling “Dixie” before I went to her house without an M-16, a few RPGs, and a cyanide pill incase the mission failed. I would walk into a Wal-Mart burning a Dale Earnhardt effigy before I even got off at that exit. Shakespeare called it the “Undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” I call it the place where this lady lives and wants to take me.
Unfortunately (and shockingly to some of you), I am typically willing to help someone in need and will almost always do so if I can. So I’m leaving the parking deck late the other night, and she’s out there with the hood raised on her windowless conversion van looking like she needs help. So I started walking over and was about to make my presence known, when I started hearing the voice in my head: “It puts the lotion on the skin, or it gets the hose again.” I saw myself trying to lure her dog, “Precious,” into the well so I could ransom my way out of captivity. I saw Agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) walking around the creepy ass basement with night-vision goggles calling my name. In that moment, I ran like Usain Bolt to my car and peeled out of that parking deck like I was in the pole position at Daytona.
Maybe she needed a jump. Maybe she needed a spark plug. Maybe she needed help. Maybe she would have shot me with a blow dart and I would have woken up in bondage and with gag ball in my mouth. You just can’t be too careful these days…
For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I’m usually pretty passive, but have sporadic bouts of intense competitiveness. I like to compare them to a midwest show-down, back to back, 10 paces, turn and shoot. They begin and end very quickly, much like my desire to learn how to iron or do volunteer work. Being the sorest of losers, I typically enter into a contest only where victory is an almost certainty. Unfortunately, my breadth of talent is comparable to Christopher Reeve’s range of motion, so the only activities where I’m assured victory may include the license plate game, GoldenEye multi-player, tequila shots, staring contests, and other contests of insignificant skill.
Another surefire way to win a competition is to be not entirely sure that the other person knows they’re competing. I call it passive-aggressive competition. Rather than stand toe-to-toe and duke it out, you simply channel all of your focus into defeating an unsuspecting and unprepared opponent. It’s a lot like playing dodgeball with elementary school kids, or dunking on a fisher price hoop: you’re good at it, but by default.
After a little exercise, this woman and I arrived at our vehicles at the same time, parked facing each other. I, like most people, hate to back out of parking spaces. You have to put the car in reverse, turn your head both ways, etc etc. I think everyone will agree with me that its much better to pull through than back out, am I wrong? (“No.”) So, I was going to wait for her to back out. As we made eye contact, her desire for me to throw it in reverse was evident. In that moment, a tumbleweed bounced through the parking lot, as if it were drawing battle lines. The Stony Pointe shopping center ceased to exist, there was only dirt and dust and an old saloon. The jack rabbits paused, the buffalo stared, and the wind blew with a decisive howl.
We reached for our modern day six-shooters: my BlackBerry was fully charged and full of unread email. Just then, a burst of reflected sunlight flashed in to my eyes. Her iPhone, a portal to endless distraction, full of apps, video, music, superior web-browsing, and other fun things we BlackBerry users can only dream of, stared down on me like the barrel of a .50 cal. I knew I was out-gunned. I only have like 2 apps, and one of them is navigation. I knew I would have to win this with skill, and skill alone…and maybe BBM…or Brick Breaker…or Word Mole.
Five minutes had passed, and we both stood still, like the watchmen on either side of the 38th Parallel, waiting for the other to make a move. I flew through my gmail. I answered my BBMs with diamond-like precision. She looked at me, wondering if I would yield and perhaps be a gentleman; if she only knew. I went to weather.com and checked the radar: it was raining, but I already knew that. I read about Joran Van Der Sloot stalling the Peruvian legal system and wondered if I would ever have closure. At that moment, I glanced up only to see my oppponent raise her hands in frustration.
In that moment, I knew she was beaten. Being a warrior with a code, I wasn’t just going to mame her and let her squirm away, wondering if I possessed mercy or not. I wanted her to know I meant business. With gusto, I looked at her and I unleashed the nuke of parking space wars: I pulled out the car manual. Hundreds of pages of worthless information. Do I give a shit about how to change an air filter or replace spark plug? Hell, no. Was I willing to sit there all night and become a certified mechanic before I backed out of that parking space? You better believe it. It was in that moment, I saw it in her eyes. Like a lighthouse, the defeat in her face illuminated my path to victory.
Her headlights powered on, I heard the transmission shift, and then she did it: she turned her head to the right; she turned her head to the left. She turned the wheel counterclockwise, and drove away in defeat. I sat there with my head held high, my chest protruding, my body uncomfortably close to the steering wheel.
In my head, I heard the national anthem play. I lowered my head to accept that medal with pride on behalf of an adoring nation. Then another car flashed his lights at me. It was an officer of the law. Apparently the parking lot closes at dusk and there is a “loitering policy.”
Currently the banner story on CNN, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the photo and it’s subsequent caption. I admit, I’ve done some celebrating in my day. Sometimes the extent of my celebrations have caused me pain, both physical and mental. Sometimes because I ate too much. Sometimes because I drank too much. Sometimes because I drank too much then decided to start talking or render an opinion; however, never have I participated in any celebrations such as these, nor have I ever seen the term “celebration” used so loosely. Here’s some of the winners from CNN’s photoblog with my subsequent interpretation.
KUA-KI-SUR-PI NI KU?
When I first saw this, I felt like Chris Farley in that skit where he’s on the Japanese game show and the contestants (Alec Baldwin and Jeanine Garafalo) cut off a finger each time they answer a question incorrectly…MOTHER OF MERCY, I DON’T SPEAK JAPANESE. Can you imagine being Joe and Jane Q. Tourist visiting Manilla and stopping by to see an “Easter Parade” and end up seeing some nut flagellate himself? We have a big parade for Easter where I live. People bring their kids and their dogs. Vendors sell corndogs and funnel cakes. People smile and wear pastels…they don’t WHIP THEMSELVES. I mean 2010 years of progress and people are still whipping themselves to please their God.
PS. – Thanks, CNN for the picture of this man’s bloody, hairy back. Real appetizing.
We Love Jesus, But We Hate…
The Brotherhood of Jesus dresses a lot like another brotherhood. When I first saw this, I thought it was some folks in Arkansas getting together to discuss the new healthcare bill. Turns out it was the Brotherhood of Jesus Yacente staging a silent parade in Zamora, Spain. I point out again: our parades are cheeky and fun. Theirs are cruel and tragic. They’re not even parades at all….”eeeevil parades.” Anyways, ok so you’re not trying to intimidate the black folks in Spain, so why are you not speaking and dressed up like David Duke? “Well, actually, Dan…the Klan stole that get-up from an old Spanish tradition.” I KNOW, SMART READER. But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Is America the only place that has fun parades? Jesus. When I was a little kid, I was chasing the shriners in their go-karts trying to get them to throw me another tootsie roll (because I needed another one). If I live in Manilla, I’m watching my neighbor audition for the Passion of the Christ and if I live in Spain, I think that the souls of Purgatory are marching down my street, coincidentally located between Hell and Heaven. Great. All I wanted was a tootsie roll and to see some balloons. Thanks, religion. And God forbid I’m Malia Obama, because then I’m remembering why Daddy didn’t campaign in West Virginia.
Under the Table and Dreaming…
The first thing that went through my mind was that this was a really elaborate Monica Lewinsky impersonation. Then, I imagined myself being a curator of the Church and what I would say if I saw this. “Ma’am, what the hell are you doing?” You’re like 100 years old. You crack your hip on that table and it’s over. The next thing I wondered is if there were any other “obstacles” in this church. What if it was an obstacle-themed mass? What if you had to complete the obstacle course to get communion? What if you had to complete the course to get to Heaven? What if you had to complete the course just to leave? Anyway, this is ridiculous. “Ma’am…MA’AM, please get out from under the table, this is a church, not Discovery Zone.” Then her family comes over… “Damnit, Grandma….we can’t take you anywhere.” Then her son starts apologizing, meanwhile, Grandma has found another table. I mean, why? The obvious metaphor is that we are “beneath the Bible”, but then how are you supposed to read the thing? So, was this an isolated incident or does everyone walk under the table? Very confusing.
DOES SOMEONE VOLUNTEER FOR THIS? Oh wait, someone already did. His name was JESUS. He died so that WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO. So what does Indonesia go and do? CRUCIFY PEOPLE DRESSED LIKE JESUS. Not fake crucify them. Not tie them up and throw some red jello mix on them. This isnt a really elaborate tanning exercise, this guy is being CRUCIFIED. ON A CRUCIFIX. WITH NAILS. My only question has to be “was this voluntary?” Did he draw the short straw? Did he go out for a run and a roving crucifixion gang snagged him on the fourth mile? Or, did he wake up one morning and decide that he’d been a bad Catholic and wanted to make it up to the Big Guy? I guess the real question here is, at what point did this man realize he’d just made a terrible mistake? Even Jesus had a WTF moment. He shed tears of blood and asked if “this cup” could be taken from Him. So if the corporeal version of God thinks that it’s really going to be terrible and wants to be spared, what the hell does Tom from Indonesia think? You have nail holes in you, sir. A percocet and a long nap is not going to help. I needed therapy after just watching the Mel Gibson movie. This guy is going to need a lot of inpatient and outpatient work. Having said that, if he went along with being crucified, chances are that need existed before his own personal passion.
In summary, I guess the moral of the story is only America has fun parades and thank God you don’t live in Indonesia. Also, my feet are really warm and lightning just appeared out of nowhere in my backyard…strange.
Since the theme of this weekend is resurrection, it’s only apt that my blog rise with our Lord and Savior. Not a lot of similarities, really. One died to redeem mankind. One was uninspired and forgot his password. One saved us all from eternal damnation. One really makes no significant contributions to society. One died such a terrible death that Mel Gibson made a whole movie about it. One woke up with a hangover this morning and felt sorry for himself. I’m not sure where I’m going with this one…actually, I know exactly where I’m going…warm year ’round.
As the eyes of America focus on Bachelor Jake and his “heart wrenching” decision, I have now watched my first full episode of The Bachelor and I want a refund. Jake’s final decision was between a horse and a mouse, a difficult choice for any man. You can get more miles out of the horse, but be careful, Jake–Christopher Reeve thought riding horses was a good decision, too.
If I were Jake, I’d show up at her house with Mr. Ed and demand Mrs. Vienna take a paternity test. Every time she said something, this is all I saw. The good news, Jake, is that while most men’s wives’ shoes only take up space in the closet, you get to use them to play a fun backyard game with friends and beer! Just don’t tell her she’s the glue that holds the relationship together…glue is a sensitive subject. OK I’m beating the horse thing to death.
I mean, I get it, Jake. Yes, she has huge tits. Yes, her ass practically has handlebars. But let’s face it, if I’m you, and those bug eyes are staring me down from the other pillow, I’m getting up like there’s an angry mink in my bed. Would I buy Vienna (and her sister, Prague) a drink? Yes. Would I put a BMW on her finger? No.
Granted, Vienna and I don’t have much in common. She likes nature and the outdoors. I like controlled climates and television. She loves sleeping under the stars. The only stars I want to see on my vacation are the ones on my hotel. She’s from Florida. I’m from a civilized place.
The Billy Joel reference is apt, but the only thing I’d realize when I saw Vienna waiting for me was that doing more Acid than all the members of Pink Floyd before the day I had to pick my fake fiancé was a terrible decision.
Tinsley wasn’t doing it for me either, though. She isn’t a brown bagger, but I’d feel like a felon every time because she has the body of 15 year old. She looks like a walking ironing board that escaped from Forever 21. Also, every time she spoke, all I could hear were those mice singing the “Cinderelly” song. Her voice made me want to lay out cheese and spring traps. I have to admit, when Jake told her she was out with the bathwater, I was kind of hoping she’d flip and pull him off that cliff with her…but that’s why I usually keep my thoughts to myself (wait, no I don’t).
What happened to the blonde who had to leave to keep her job? The one that told you, hey, I can contribute to this relationship financially. Or hey, I’ve got responsibilities and I don’t have all month to bullshit around with you while you test drive the whole lot. I would have packed my stuff, said thanks ladies, and followed her wherever she was going. But I guess I have other priorities…like finding a sugar mama (this working thing sucks).
Ironically, the biggest similarity Jake and Vienna have is that they’ve both been steamrolled by a sweaty, oily-skinned Floridian. For Vienna, this was her first marriage. For Jake, this was that spring break that made him realize that his front row Michael Buble tickets and Golden Girls box set were more than a coincidence.
More about “The Bachelor” to follow…