This week I refrained from crushing a surly cashier, even though the Dr. Pepper cases stacked behind him into an Olympic torch were the perfect weapon. I showed immense restraint, and I would like a cookie as a reward. I didn’t even speak harshly to him, although I silently called him a marrow-sucking cluster of rat filth scraped from beneath a refrigerator. I could have come up with something better, but my ice cream was melting. And what thing did this blemish on the butt of Tom Thumb do? Not a single damn thing except for being a bit snotty about my rewards card, which might have been a little bent if you want to get technical, so in the eyes of some pedantic people it could have, maybe, been kind of my fault.

So, I was nice to him, even though I wanted to pull out his entrails, wrap them around my shoulders, and have someone drive me up and down the street while I stood on the hood and screamed, “I’m the King of the World!” I even thanked him after I bagged my own groceries, so yes, god damn it, I deserve a cookie.

I don’t often have this anger problem, but this week my brain has decided I need to be enraged at each individual molecule in the 46 billion light years-wide observable universe. I have a separate grudge against each one of them. My brain decides to do this once in a while. I think this irrational anger phenomenon is well known to many of us who have brains. It may happen a little more to some than to others, but I’m not sure that makes much difference. One thing I am sure about is that I’ve been on alert for anyone who screws up in some tiny way, so I can leap on him like a tiger with a chainsaw tied to each leg. When no one is around who might provoke me, I spend time imagining situations in which I’d be justified in being so mean to someone that they would just cry for the rest of their life.

But I haven’t been acting on those things either.

I have been vicariously enjoying expressions of inappropriate rage. Last night a woman on live TV said something that got bleeped. Even though her gaffe was just a couple of seconds long, I told my wife I thought the woman said, “Jesus g*d d**n f*****g Christ on a m***********g crutch!” My wife patted my leg but didn’t say anything. She’s seen my brain like this in the past, and she doesn’t even look up anymore unless I swear using at least five curse words, two bodily functions, and a barnyard animal.

I try to be nice to people when I’m like this. Just because my brain is mean as a Gila monster, being randomly cruel to people is unfair. It’s not that I really care about what’s fair, or about most people either, but I have learned that acting angry doesn’t help me much in most cases. I say stupid stuff I don’t mean, and I have unhappy, resentful people to deal with afterwards. It’s like building a chemical volcano in the living room. It’s fun for a minute or so, but a whole lot of mess to clean up for the next few days.

So far this week, I’ve refrained from excoriating, assaulting, and murdering about 150 people, so what do I do with all that anger I’m not expressing? Exercise? Scream when I’m looking at Facebook? Grow an extra organ from the stress? Those sound pretty good, except for the organ one, but I believe that anger and creativity make a fantastic combination. When I’m deranged with fury, that is the time to do something creative. For example, I’m rewriting a story now. In this past week the villain has gone from being cruel to being nasty, vengeful, and horrific. Even better, the hero was a nice, creative guy who was reckless. Now he’s a nice, creative guy who’s reckless and happy to plot the murder of someone just because that person might kill him first. It’s a family story.

Soon I expect my brain to stop vibrating with anger and sending out waves of fury to bounce around inside my skull. That’s less fun than it sounds, and it doesn’t exactly sound like Jim Beam and a hayride. Until then, I’ll see if I can incorporate some more vindictive rage into my story. Also, when I’m around real people, I’ll catalogue the ways in which I could make them regret existing in the same universe as me, all while smiling at them and maybe saying nice things about their shoes.

This sure is a lot of fun. To hell with the cookie. I want a trip to Vegas. And a pony.

Ponies fighting over the privilege of belonging to me. Or maybe they saw a bug. Hard to say.



I’ve decided that pessimism has been given a bad name by Big Fucking Whiners. Now, I’m sure that pessimists like me indeed die younger than our optimist friends. We’re not as happy either, as I think objective evidence like frowning and the compulsion to create unnecessary spreadsheets demonstrates. But the joy of pessimism has been ruined by all those people who cry about every little thing like they were piglets with their foot caught in a fence.

The traditional pessimist/optimist analogy involves the half full glass. As you know, the optimist sees the glass half full, and the pessimist sees it half empty. Big Fucking Whiners jump up and down and moan on Facebook because there probably won’t be any enchanted fairy nectar in the glass. Then they want a hug and somebody to waste part of their precious life playing Farmville with them, just to keep them from whining any more. Yet they get lumped in with pessimists.

By the way, optimists have the same problem on the other end. Optimism has been almost ruined by an infestation of Human Cocker Spaniels. Going back to the glass analogy, Human Cocker Spaniels bounce around and send a barrage of tweets about how they’ll never be thirsty again and how the glass might hold magic water that would let them turn into a well-endowed vampire mermaid with wings. But that’s the optimists’ problem, so to hell with them.

I’d like to see Big Fucking Whiners split off from pessimists into their own category, much like the Emmy Awards have grouped reality shows into separate categories so they won’t pollute the other TV programs. I don’t mind being seen as cynical, doubtful, and suspicious, because that comes along with almost always being right—or at least more right than the optimists. I do mind being labeled as a self-centered, hectoring cry baby. That just sucks. Come on, who’s going to get laid more: cynical, suspicious Han Solo, or self-centered, whiny C3PO? If your answer is C3PO, this may not be the right blog for you.

In the end, I realize that only pessimists care about this distinction, and as a pessimist, I acknowledge that not even pessimists care enough to do a damn thing about it. Changing the way people think about this would take a lot of effort, and not that many people would buy into it anyway, and then they’d get distracted by a video of frolicking goats that’s not as cute as the video of frolicking giraffes, and heck, all that effort would be better spent on something like promoting home gardening anyway, right? So, to hell with it. I’ll eat another cookie and update my retirement planning spreadsheet.

Sometimes being a pessimist is so easy. No matter what the Big Fucking Whiners say.

Okay, this glass is half full. Half full of excruciating death as your face fries off like hash browns.

Photo by Nik Frey.


While we were lying in bed last night, I asked my wife what she thought I should write about, and she said, “Why ice cream comes out the bottom of the cone and how that’s a metaphor for life.” I said sure and wondered what the heck brought that on. I know she thinks things like that but rarely says them, preferring to say things like, “I don’t care what kind of car I drive as long as it has four doors and a trunk,” and “Why don’t we just kill everybody we don’t like?”

If ice cream cones had Kryptonite, it would be heat. The sun, an open flame, and your crotch all produce heat. If you think it’s absurd for your crotch to destroy an ice cream cone, you’ve never had to signal while merging onto the highway and needed someplace to put your ice cream cone while doing it.

To demonstrate the danger of heat, one afternoon when it was a hundred degrees in Texas, which is like a thousand degrees anywhere else, my wife and I were walking across a parking lot. I swear we hadn’t lost our minds. In fact, we’d found an ice cream shop. I won’t name the shop, except to say it was like the Marble Slab, in that it had the words “Marble Slab” over the door. It was the kind of shop where they sell you an ice cream cone for two dollars more than it should cost because they crush a quarter’s worth of M&Ms into it. You don’t have to get M&Ms. You can also get Butterfingers, or chocolate chips, or marshmallows, which don’t crush all that well to be honest.

We bought chocolate ice cream cones with stuff smashed into them, because we like chocolate and stuff, and the nice high school girl behind the counter handed us cones with ice cream the consistency of instant pudding. The store was having air conditioning problems. The kind of air conditioning problems that destroy ice cream. Our ice cream! Frantic to protect our ice cream, we charged outside, which was slightly cooler than the face of the sun, and we tried to eat our ice cream within 17 seconds. That’s the time it takes $5.00 worth of ice cream to melt all over your shoes. Seriously, it was like trying to lick the sides of a volcano oozing Swiss chocolate and spewing Reese’s chunks instead of half-molten boulders.

A glob of chocolate ice cream as big as a cockroach hurled itself down the front of my wife’s shirt, and she flailed around like an octopus having a seizure. Well, that part didn’t really happen. The seizure part. Actually she went back inside and threw a bowl of those little balsa wood sampling spoons at the high school girl, and she told her that she was pretty god damned lucky because her husband disapproved of just killing anybody she didn’t like. Well, that didn’t really happen either. I’m not even positive that any cockroach-sized ice cream flew into her shirt, but I am sure we were sweating like some kind of jungle animals. Which may not sweat, now that I think about it, but you get the idea.

So, how is this a metaphor for life? It was all my wife’s fault. It was her fault because she drove the car that day. She bought the ice cream, too. And she didn’t threaten to kill a blonde 11th grader with a pair of ice cream scoops and a napkin dispenser, which might have redeemed the day somewhat. Therefore, I declare the entire wretched event to be her fault, and I am innocent of all wrongdoing. Because I’m writing the story of what happened that day, and I get to assign the blame.

That is how a drippy ice cream cone is a metaphor for life.

And life is not like a drippy ice cream cone. That would be a damn simile, not a metaphor.

I realize I didn’t say anything about why ice cream drips out of the cone. There’s a hole in the bottom of the cone. I shouldn’t even have to say that, except maybe my wife was really asking why there’s a hole in the bottom of the cone. The answer is “cheap cones.” Ice cream shops have to make back that quarter they spend on M&Ms, so they sell us structurally unsound cones. We just keep buying them like pigeons trained to peck the red light. But I can say for a fact that if you make a joke about there being gravel in the Rocky Road, the people at the Baskin Robbins down the street from me will poke a hole in your cone as soon as you walk in the door, so try not to do that.

If you think my explanation is lousy, just consider that instead I could have written about stuff coming out of your bottom, so hush and be thankful.

“As goes the ice cream cone, so goes the promise of our youth.” Or something like that. Hell, that doesn’t make any sense, does it? Forget it–I’m going to the movies.

Photo by Ziko van Dijk.

My wife and I disagree on the fundamental nature of our bed. I think of it as a comfortable place to sleep, or have sex, or maybe read a book when more than two cats have evicted me from the couch. She thinks of it as a glorious retreat for nourishing the spirit in a harsh and callous world. If we each described our bed as a kitchen appliance, she would say it’s a variable-speed immersion blender trimmed in ermine, while I’d say it’s a spatula. I don’t mean a colorful, heat-resistant plastic spatula. I mean a steel spatula with a black handle that your granny might use to cook potato pancakes that taste like paste.

Our house has a big linen closet. If I lived alone, that closet would contain one set of white sheets and 72 cubic feet of unused computer components dating back to 1996. The other set of white sheets would be on the bed, along with a mattress pad and a green woolen blanket that some Marine slept under during the Korean War.

Instead, I live with my wife, which is a good thing for me. But it means that my linen closet contains 27 fitted sheets and 36 flat sheets in colors ranging from periwinkle to russet. They come in solid, striped, and flower patterns, plus flannel sheets with jumping sheep on them. Not one of those sheets is white. We also have over 40 pillow cases, some of which aren’t the same color as any of the sheets, so we can have contrast. The linen closet population is rounded out by three mattress pads, nine blankets, four spare pillows, and a duvet that makes a wonderful nest for cats.

This staggering mass of linen is arranged so that you can locate any item within five seconds. That’s because the linen closet was organized by my wife.

When we change the sheets, after the mattress-flipping ritual, my wife generally spends a minute or two picking out the two different colored sheets (top and bottom) that will form the foundation of our bed environment for the next week or two. A bright, cheery color combination will make her happy to be in bed, so I’m glad she takes her time. Sometimes she asks me to pick out sheets, which can be a problem. By reflex I look in the linen closet for white sheets. When I don’t find them, I peer into the closet as if considering which video card to buy for my computer, while I wonder whether brown and purple go together. I’ve never admitted it to her, but I often just pick the colors of a professional football team. The Cleveland Browns’ team colors—brown and orange—might not be the most popular combination at my house, but they work.

My wife likes to sleep, and maybe that’s what this boils down to. She wants to adorn the bed so she’ll be happy spending time there. Eight hours of sleep makes her optimistic and productive. Seven hours of sleep makes her stoic and determined. Six hours of sleep makes her grumpy, and five hours of sleep makes her act like me. I hate sleep. I resent having to give up so much of my life to sleep, and if I could get away with 30 seconds of sleep a night I would. Sleeping is like being sent to the corner of your mom’s kitchen and then waiting to be released back to your life. When you’re sitting in the kitchen corner, between the refrigerator and a dusty sack of potatoes, you don’t care if the place is dressed up like Disneyland.

In the end, I understand why our bed is decorated like a sultan’s bathrobe. I don’t grasp it on an emotional level, but I understand that it makes my wife happy. That’s worth a lot, especially when I’m searching for a place to stash two dozen worthless motherboards and audio cards, and the pantry is looking pretty good.

Orange, yellow, blue, white with brown pinstripes, five cats, and a teddy bear. A bed that will make my wife extra happy.