How to Kill Your Customers

Living in a town of 10,000 people, I’m lucky that we have anything even resembling a shopping mall. The Mayberry Mall (yes, that’s really what it’s called) is tiny by modern day mall standards and has a somewhat retro ‘70s vibe to it, but it has all the basics – a couple of mini-sized department stores, a Hallmark store, a Radio Shack and a number of local businesses. 

All things considered, it’s a pleasant enough place to shop, except for one little stretch of stores in the middle. As I approach this section, I hold my breath and pick up my speed. Why? Well, first there’s a Chinese fast food restaurant, its greasy soy sauce odor wafting into the center of the mall. Next door is the acrylic nail salon, where the nail technicians wear face masks, while the customers calmly breath in the noxious fumes. It sits beside a hair salon, where any hint of freshly shampooed scented hair is overwhelmed by the chemical stench of the hair coloring and perm chemicals. Finally, to round out the row, there’s a little restaurant that serves mostly hot dogs and limp French fries, adding that au de baseball stadium fragrance into the mix. 

This is a case where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts and I have no doubt that the gaseous cocktail is toxic and perhaps even deadly. It seems shortsighted to have located these establishments one right next to the other. Dead customers rarely contribute to the profitability of a business unless, of course, you run a funeral home. 

I wish the mall management would see the light and do a little store shuffling, but since the mall décor hasn’t been updated since about 1979, I’m not holding my breath (except, that is, when I’m actually in the mall).

Great Moments, Twitterfied*

* My apologies to those of you who have not yet been sucked into the Twitter vortex. 

 

TheAlmighty @noah #Flood coming. Build #ark. Make it big. Do it now.

Noah @thealmighty How big?

TheAlmighty @noah Big enough for 2 of every creature on earth. No time to waste.

Noah @thealmighty Got it. Do we have to invite the yaks? They smell soo bad.

TheAlmighty @noah ALL the animals.

 

HonestAbe @thesouth Can’t we all get along?

thesouth @honestabe only if we get to keep our #slaves.

HonestAbe @thesouth No can do.

thesouth @honestabe #civilwar bring it on.

HonestAbe @thesouth That’s enough. Emancipating #slaves right now.

UndergroundRR RT @thesouth That’s enough. Emancipating #slaves right now.

 

Geraldo #alcapone Tunneling thru underground vault. confidential sources tell us capone hid vast treasure here.

Geraldo #alcapone Still tunneling. Found broken bottle. Sure sign of bootlegging.

Geraldo #alcapone nothing yet, treasure sure to be around next corner.

Geraldo #alcapone still looking…

TVExec @Geraldo stupidest idea ever.

 

RNixon Watergate?

RNixon I’m not a crook #watergate. Pls. RT

RNixon  Resigning.

 

 

RandyJackson #americanidol He’s in it to win it!

StevenTyler #americanidol That was beautiful, man.

JLo #americanidol I’m way too pretty to be sitting between you 2 buffoons.

RSeacrest #americanidol Can’t believe how much money they pay me.

 

With this Ring…

I try hard to maintain a live and let live attitude. As long as you’re not hurting anyone else, how you live is entirely up to you and it’s none of my business. That doesn’t mean I’m not secretly judging you, but at least I acknowledge that I have no business judging you and I’ll keep my opinion to myself. 

Every now and then, I just can’t help myself. Every now and then, something strikes me as so outrageous that I must judge, right out here in public. Such is the case with the 20 carat $2 million engagement ring that some overpaid professional basketball player I’ve never heard of has bestowed upon Kim Kardashian’s manicured finger. I can’t help but wonder – wouldn’t a $100k diamond suffice? 

It’s a display of excess that I can only categorize as obscene. Think of how many charities, how many homeless people, how many tornado devastated communities could be helped with $2 million. I know, I know, it’s none of my business how anyone spends his or her hard earned (?) dollars, but OMG this is such an enormous waste of money, isn’t it? 

Putting aside the diamond boulder for a moment, I sincerely wish Kim and her betrothed a happy life together, though I suspect that the probability of a successful marriage is in inverse proportion to the size of the ring on her finger.

The Man Cave Classifieds

If you’re looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift for the man in your life, Man Caves continue to be all the rage. Here’s a sampling of some of the finest Man Cave listings available (act now for best selection): 

For the adventurous man, this Man Cave extends deep into the belly of the Earth and was made famous by Jules Verne. Fraught with danger and ideal for spelunking, the manly man will surely love this Cave. 

This Man Burrow is perfect for the budget-conscious man. Cozy and dark, with just enough room for the man who prefers complete solitude. 

All the bells and whistles in this luxury Man Cave – dank and dark, original dirt floors, decorative bat droppings, with just the tiniest glimpse of natural light. 

For the man who appreciates majestic natural beauty, this Man Cave features the finest in stalactites and stalagmites, along with super cool boulder formations. 

The history buff will love this Man Cave, with original tracks and mining cars and the perfectly preserved skeletal remains of the Cave’s very first gold miner.  Sold “as is.” 

Can’t get enough? Watch for the soon-to-launch Cave TV network. Check your local listings.

Apply Now! Federal Jobs for Fifth Graders

Believe it or not, the federal government has passed a law requiring federal agencies to communicate with the public using plain language. No doubt the text of the new law says something like this: 

Whereas the United States government has heretofore upheld the highest ideals of incomprehensibility and inscrutability; and whereas the citizenry of these United States of America, having reaped the benefits of the free public education guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States of America, reads at a level normally achieved by the average student who has marginally passed the 5th grade; and whereas nobody knows what the hell we’re talking about; we hereby promulgate this law whereby agencies of the federal government shall, in all instances, cease and desist from communicating with the citizens of the United States of America using obfuscating, tautological, prolix constructions of language and shall immediately begin drafting communications using plain old English.  

Truly, this is a revolutionary idea. Imagine reading information put out by the feds and understanding what it says, without having to reread each sentence 20 times. While thousands of lawyers employed by the federal government are understandably concerned for their future employment security, this is great news for the rest of us. The unemployment rate among 5th graders will plummet as teams of 9 and 10 year olds are hired to rewrite federal pamphlets and notices. The government’s consumption of paper will fall to record lows as most information will now fit on a postcard instead of a bloated 30 page booklet. And we, the people, might just begin to understand what, if anything, our government is trying to tell us. 

As for those soon-to-be unemployed federal lawyers, I’m sure they’ll find good jobs writing enigmatic discombobulating instructions for how to operate your new cell phone, assemble a set of bookshelves, or install a ceiling fan.

The Ronald McDonald Controversy: A Closer Look

Have you heard? Ronald McDonald is under attack for his alleged evil plot to turn little kids into lifelong fast food junkies. Whatever your opinion of fast food, it seems to me that Ronald’s opponents are operating under the mistaken assumption that little kids find the big guy appealing. Personal experience tells me that for every kid who finds clowns funny and friendly, there are three others who are scared out of their pull-ups by clowns. 

Let’s take a closer look at the various features that might make Ronald terrifying to small children, shall we?

  • Ghostly white complexion, reminiscent of death
  • Exaggerated bright red mouth, as one might find on a crazed cannibal or flesh eating zombie
  • Wild reddish orange hair, indicative of one who has had a bad hair salon experience and may be out for reckless revenge
  • Super-sized yellow jumpsuit that may be concealing weapons, monsters, or a whole lot of french fry induced cellulite
  • Gigantic red shoes, capable of crushing small children with one stomp 

I think before we send Ron packing, we owe it to him to conduct a study and find out how many kids are being deterred from a life of fast food out of fear. Could be he’s responsible for millions of children begging their parents to stop at Whole Foods to pick up some lunch. Just a little food for thought…

An Iconic Blog Post

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that the media has adopted “iconic” as its new favorite word?  William and Kate wed in the iconic Westminster Abbey, the iconic Elizabeth Taylor died recently, the iconic space shuttle launched for the very last time, celebrities walk the iconic red carpet, and on and on. I can’t think of a single newscast I’ve watched recently that hasn’t slipped the word in at least once. 

Frankly, I find it annoying. You’d think those news writers would have access to a thesaurus, wouldn’t you? You’d think they’d understand that if everything is iconic, then really nothing is, right? 

I see no signs this will abate anytime soon, so I’ve decided not to fight it. Instead, I will play along and begin to use the word “iconic” every chance I get. Ok, here goes. This morning I got dressed, slipping into that iconic suburban uniform consisting of  a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. I strolled to the kitchen, where I poured myself a bowl of iconic Cheerios to go along with my iconic cup of coffee. I look forward to making plans for my kids’ school graduations, those iconic rites of passage, after which we will all revel in an iconic summer vacation. 

Okay, that’s just not working for me. Maybe I’ll try using iconic as my go-to reply to basic questions instead. For instance:

“How was your day?” 

“Iconic.” 

Waitress: “How is everything?”

“Iconic.” 

“Don’t you just love this beautiful spring weather?”

“Iconic.” 

“Wow, you sure seem to like the word ‘iconic’ a lot. What’s up with that?”

“Well, yeah, it’s epic.”

The Hunt

It’s open season and I was ready for the hunt, but my prey proved to be elusive. I prowled all the likely gathering places, scanned through herds that numbered in the thousands, but still the prize game eluded me. 

Exhausted but determined, I continued the hunt. Through Zappos and Shoes.com, Macy’s and OnlineShoes.com, then finally, a promising glimpse. Though my hand ached from scrolling, I  didn’t hesitate. I pulled the trigger and with one confident click, the sandals fell cleanly into my online shopping cart. Soon they will be mine. 

I took no pleasure in the hunt. It was grueling and disheartening. Through 8,227 pairs of shoes that called themselves sandals, I scrolled and I scrolled. I rejected the gladiator sandals, the granny sandals and the boots with the cut-out toe area that were masquerading as sandals. I turned away from the sandals that called out to me, “hey, over here, we’re comfy and we’re cute, and really we’re a bargain at $147.99.” 

Through it all, I must honor my mother, the great huntress, who spent my entire childhood searching through actual brick-and-mortar stores for the perfect black pumps. Sadly, those pumps exist only out there in the realm of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Chupacabra. The great huntress ultimately abandoned her quest and resigned herself to a pair of cushy Saucony sneakers.  

Was my hunt successful?  Only time will tell, when the UPS man arrives with my catch.

Oh Grow Up Already!

I read with complete disinterest about the latest nonsense between Google and Facebook, in which FB hired a PR firm to try to make Google look bad. Based on this, I conclude that Google and Facebook have no plans to friend each other. In fact, their ongoing rivalry may spark the creation of the I-Hate-Your-Guts button. 

But, I did want to point out the underlying reason for the tensions between these two corporate behemoths. Both of these companies were started by CHILDREN, who, not surprisingly, continue to act like CHILDREN. Sure, they’re technologically brilliant, are now arguably adults, and have made more money than I can comprehend. Their emotional development, though, seems to have stalled in late adolescence. 

The gist of their conflict can be reduced to something like this:

“Your company does bad things and I’m gonna tell.”

“Uh-uh, YOUR company does bad things.”

“Does not!”

“Does too!”

“Jerk.”

“Idiot.”

 If someone doesn’t step in soon, this thing is going to escalate to spitting, shoving and wedgies, and really, nobody wants to see that. Then again, maybe I’m being too hard on these little guys. After all, we live in a world that glorifies competition so much that we have taken something as delightful as the innocent cupcake and somehow conjured up Cupcake Wars. Sigh.

It’s Research, I Swear

To the untrained eye, it may have seemed like I was wasting my time watching crap on TV, but really I was conducting a sociological study (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). Recently, the researcher* focused her attention on studying human behavior and interaction via an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. In the interest of science, she is pleased to share her observations. 

Subject “Real Housewives” share the following physical attributes: long bleached blonde hair, comprised of both naturally grown hair and not-so-naturally-grown extensions; orange-tinged tanned skin of a color not found in nature; surgically enhanced breasts the size and shape of which suggest that the surgeon, in fact, implanted bowling balls; thin build, with the exception of the aforementioned bowling balls. 

Subjects’ dress differs markedly from the Control Group comprised of random carpool moms. At all times, Subjects were observed wearing tiny tight dresses that strained to contain various parts of Subjects’ anatomy. Additionally, Subjects continually teetered atop stiletto-heeled shoes in an apparent attempt to gain the best vantage point from which to look down upon one another. They were adorned with mascara heavily applied using a secret process that turns ordinary eyelashes into rows of dangerous talon-like appendages, with lips covered in gloss at all times. In contrast, Control Group was most often observed in tee shirts, sweatpants or jeans, flip flops, and an occasional smudge of chapstick. 

Subjects socialized and interacted with one another frequently, but their interactions lacked the characteristic signs of friendship and can more accurately be described as frenemy relationships, characterized by nasty personal attacks, backstabbing, teasing, and a perpetual competition to see who can be the most ridiculous while maintaining perfectly glossed lips. Interactions are markedly dramatic to a degree never observed within the Control Group. 

The dinner party depicted on the episode observed by the researcher illustrates these unusual interactions. (Researcher regrets that she is unable to individually name the Subjects, but she was unable to distinguish one from another.)  Real Housewife (RHW) No. 1 and her husband threw a lovely catered dinner party inviting about a dozen people. RHW No. 1 had gone to a lot of trouble and she damn well wanted everyone to have a good time. 

RHW No. 2 arrived without her husband, claiming that a business obligation prevented him from attending, while confiding (wink, wink) to the TV viewing audience that he refused to come because he can’t stand these people. RHW No. 1 was insulted that No. 2’s husband didn’t show. RHW No. 2 soon became despondent and emotional from the strain of being apart from her loving-husband-who-refused-to-come for a whole two hours and dashed off to the bathroom to weep, sob, and endlessly text said husband for an extended period of time. 

RHW No. 1, in a show of deep concern, issued an ultimatum to RHW No. 2, demanding that she either pull herself together and join the party or get the hell out. 

By contrast, RHW No. 3 is finding No. 2’s distress endlessly amusing. She confides (wink, wink) to the viewing audience, “She can’t be away from her husband to go to dinner?! What is she, f-ing 5 years old?!” 

Clearly, further research is required to begin to interpret the norms of behavior amongthe Subject group. The researcher hopes to collaborate with renowned anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall, who by this time must surely be sick and tired of watching chimpanzees and would be fascinated to turn her attention to this new hybrid group of primates.

*Talking about myself in the 3rd person makes me sound more official, right?