I’m Chasing a Unicorn.

•May 14, 2010 • 3 Comments

Before I get into today’s (this year’s?) topic, let me preface it with the following: There is no good reason for me not writing anything for, uh, 9 months. I’m still alive. I’m still employed (whether or not I’m working is clearly a different story). I was not battling any inner turmoil, angst, or terrible experiences (other than trying to forget that Dane Cook exists and that the remake of Pocahontas Avatar was trumpeted by too many people as “amazing”). But man, I sure have a bunch of excuses for my brief absence. You know, like consciously choosing to forget this thing even existed. Can you blame me? Or lacking inspiration for writing yet another decidedly mediocre post. Regardless of my excuses, I’m back for at least one post, which I expect no one to read. So back to the topic at hand:

Unicorns.

Or as they’re known in real life: the single girl with the great mix of intelligence, personality, maturity, and looks that is interested in dating me.

I completely understand my handicaps when searching out said females; I do, after all, live in Wisconsin where the buffalo roam… where people aren’t exactly “thin.” That happens when a state is known for its vast, amazing cuisine, including many fried foods (seriously, we’ll find any excuse to fry cheese here), and beer. The freshman 15 is really the freshman 40 in Wisconsin, a harsh reality I came to grips with during college. And despite the quality higher education institutions in the vicinity (Madison and Chicago), I don’t believe anyone associates Wisconsin with areas where intelligent people tend to congregate.

But if you ignore all of that, the odds are clearly on my side.

A recent scientific study concluded that men should marry women that are 5 years younger and at least 27% smarter than them. To qualify the intellectual difference, the example given is that the woman should have a college degree and the man should not. Also, neither person should have a prior divorce. It has also been proven that men live longer when marrying a younger woman. My immediate response to reading all of this:

I’m fucked.

(Warning: This next section may make me sound like a pretentious ass that thinks way too highly of himself. In reality, I’m just aware of what I’m capable of. So if you don’t like it, you’re more than welcome to go die in a fire.)

I long ago came to grips with the fact that I’m unlikely to encounter a woman that is more intelligent than me, let alone one I’m also attracted to. I’m not one to be intimidated by such a thing, in fact I would welcome the challenge. I just don’t believe I’ll ever meet that particular person. Call it lowering my expectations if you want, I prefer to call it being realistic. That said, I’ve since grown up and also realized that that specific level of intelligence in a partner does not directly correlate to how happy I’d be in a relationship. You don’t have to be a genius to engage is great conversation or challenge ideas. Anyway, I digress.

Now don’t get me wrong, my expectations are hardly unrealistic in any of those areas (intelligence, maturity, personality, looks). I don’t expect the unicorn to excel in any one of those particular areas. But there are certain levels in each that they have to reach… it’s called having standards, which is something all most of you likely have.

In the case of maturity, I’ve never been into the partying/bar hopping/clubbing scene. In fact, I’ve never been drunk. So clearly anyone who still thinks and acts like they’re 21 is out of the question. And is it too much to ask for them to be moved out of their parents’ place and have a job that they can support themselves with? Apparently so. I know there’s the problems with the economy and completely understand the circumstances that sometimes occur that forces people to move back home. I have no problem with that. It’s the people who went to college to get some useless degree (assuming they went at all), and continue to work in retail because they’re unqualified for anything else.  Even worse is when they constantly complain about their job and living arrangements, yet refuse to do anything about it. And since most people lack ambition and love using any excuse they can (the most recent one being the aforementioned economic problems), I feel this is becoming an increasingly common trend. However, I’m willing to admit that perhaps I was just naive to it before, and my 4+ year stint in the dating world has opened my eyes. Regardless, I don’t think I ask for too much.

I was considering diving into the issue of looks, but I think I covered it earlier. I mean, I live in the dairy state, which is full of cows (I’m not referring to the animal). I would be surprised if the muffin top wasn’t invented in Wisconsin. I know too many girls that work out, but then don’t understand why they can’t lose weight while they eat like crap and get drunk multiple times a week. (Side note: Why do people refuse to believe that drinking works against any attempts to lose weight? Science is clearly not on your side, you damn drunks.) And before anyone accuses me, no, I don’t expect a model or any nonsense like that. But I don’t think I’m out of line expecting someone to at least attempt to take care of their body… because if they don’t, that type of behavior typically cascades into other areas of their life.

Clearly there’s also the whole sense of humor, ability to take a joke, self awareness, blah blah blah… You know, the typical things people randomly list off that they want in a partner. I figured that stuff doesn’t need to be completely spelled out.

So back to my original point: I’m chasing a unicorn. I’ve had friends try to set me up (and fail), my mom try to set me up (and tragically fail), and even tried my hand at online dating websites (ranging from tragic fails to just regular “this won’t work”). I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to find a unicorn, I’m going to have to just get really lucky. And to be honest, the fact that luck plays a large factor in any major area of my life frustrates the hell out of me.

Of course, there’s one option left: settling. But to anyone who knows me, they know that I absolutely refuse to settle when it comes to anything. The day I settle will be the day you find me working a low level desk job with no opportunity for advancement simply because it “pays the bills.”

Or even worse: Driving a Mustang.

Dear Me,

•August 9, 2009 • 1 Comment

Why do you keep doing this to yourself? You started this blog knowing full well it would fall by the wayside like every other previous attempt at writing for enjoyment uh… whatever reason it is you decided to this. But since you’ve never been one to not finish what you started, you should probably write something. Maybe. If you feel like it. Don’t want to inconvenience you or anything…

Okay, I’m lying already. I don’t follow through with things like this all the time, as evidenced by the massive drop off in frequency of blog posts shortly after beginning it. Don’t get me wrong, I follow through on things that matter. When it comes to things that are just kind of there though, it doesn’t work so well. I lose motivation. Hell, while writing this blog (and pretty much every previous one) I lost the desire to finish it a few times.

So why do I write? I’m not sure. Because of this, and the fact that both of my readers have probably left me for good, the posts will likely trend towards being more serious from here on out. At the very least, it allows me to write on a level that comes more natural to me. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a cynic… I just don’t often find anything to be cynical about for more than a few comments.)

My Poor, Neglected Blog…

•May 20, 2009 • 10 Comments

Hey, at least it hasn’t even been two full weeks since my last post, so get off my back. I’ve been busy. Actually, that’s a lie, but I have been busier. I’m counting that as a valid excuse. Busier at work (as in I’m actually doing some), and busier when not at work (no, still no girlfriend, so stop asking). Some people have gone from being a part of my every day life to virtually nonexistent and vice versa over the past few weeks. This is not entirely surprising, since it’s a cycle my life follows every few months.

I guess this is just a roundabout way of saying I need to write another blog, or certain people will become um… disgruntled. (Hey, you should appreciate the tact involved in using that word as opposed to the first few things I was going to put there.) And since I don’t have a great topic, you just get to read a few stories. Actually, make that suffer through a few stories, since I’m a terrible story teller. Deal. With. It.

So I recently discovered that there is an actual attractive girl in my corporation… within my division, even, who is around my age. Of course she works like 70 miles away from me, because no one works at my plant aside from me and dinosaurs. (They’re still frightened by computers and “technology”. One even tried to show me their iPhone to try and prove that she was “hip” (her words, not mine). Needless to say, I was not impressed.) Anyway, I met her because she was doing basic Six Sigma training, and my facility hosted an event for the class that divided them into small groups and teamed them with a Black Belt (which is what I pretend to be when I’m actually working. And no, it has nothing to do with karate). Naturally, my boss picked the teams, and since he thinks I’m awesome (or at least pretends to think so, I am the reason they all came here instead of to another plant), she was in my group.

Well, she was pretty quiet the whole time. She asked some questions, since we were on the manufacturing floor and she was just in HR, so she knew pretty much nothing about what she was looking at. Whatever, the point is she showed some promise. And then she was discussing what kind of project she was going to do, and dropped this line:

I want to do a project in HR, because if I did a project anywhere else, it would require me learning about it. And I’m really really slow at learning things.

She might as well have been wearing a dunce cap. Anyway, it virtually killed my attraction to her. I say “virtually” because attractive girls are still attractive, but I’m not one to waste my time on pretty girls that are lacking in substance (…anymore). The more she talked, the more obvious it became that she was the kind of cute girl you loathe in the corporate world: the one surrounded by a ton of guys (usually way older) and more than willing to have “friendly” discussions with all of them because she knows it gets her ahead. Damn her. It almost makes me wish these businesses were run by women, but then I realize I’d have to deal with hormonal rage on top of incompetency (before you feminists get on me, I’m implying that the current men controlling the business world are incompetent as well, so it’s not some exclusive thing to a gender), and it just wouldn’t be worth the switch. Plus most of the women would be old, and we all know it’s a proven scientific fact that old people are gross.

A little over a week ago I stopped at my parents’ for dinner and to visit. You know, because they obviously miss their favorite and best son. Unfortunately this amounted to watching the American Idol where the Milwaukee guy got kicked off the show. My dad used to play the “your mother makes me watch it” card, but recently he has switched to defending watching it because they’re all “amazing” singers. And apparently they even voted multiple times for this elimination show. Ugh. I’d like to blame it on the fact that the house is completely 2/3 of the year due to my two brothers in college and me out on my own, but I’m fairly certain my parents would’ve done this kind of thing anyway, since they wanted anyone but “the gay one” to win. From the one episode I half paid attention to, I couldn’t blame them for that judgment, since he did appear to be the most annoying of the bunch. (Don’t get me wrong, anyone who makes it this far on American Idol is bound to be annoying on some level… he just exceeded what the others typically reach. The last thing we need is another Clay Aiken in the news.)

Somehow this all evolved into a conversation about intelligence with my dad (my mom was out of the room when it started). He was insistent he was smarter than I was, because he has a lot of common sense and a great business sense (this part is true, but in true intelligence, he stopped being able to help me with my math homework by the time I was 12). But at the same time, he’ll never be the kind of guy that would blow you away with some deep philosophical or psychological statement or discussion. This led to the following exchange:

Me: So you think you’re more intelligent than me? Do you think you’d beat me on an IQ test?

Dad: Of course I could.

Me: Dad, it’s based on pattern recognition and spatial reasoning… how in the hell are you going to top me at that?

Dad: No it’s not, it’s based on common sense. And I have way more of that than you.

At this point my mom came back into the room, and I told her “Dad claims he can beat me on an IQ test because he believes it’s based on common sense.” She just looked at him like he was crazy and shook her head. Then my dad, being who he is, refused to let this go:

Dad: I wouldn’t score a 180 or anything like that, but probably a 140 or so.

Me: Dad, you do realize that would still put you at near-genius level, right?

Dad: I have more common sense than anyone you’ve ever known, so that makes sense.

Me: For the last time, what does that have to do with IQ? Do you even know what is on an IQ test?

Dad: No, but I could use common sense to figure it out. In fact, we should both go take one just so I can prove myself right.

I agreed to do so if he was going to set it up, but I think my mom talked him out of it after I left. Either that or he conveniently forgot. And before you ask: Yes, my father is always this bullheaded about something he believes is true. It leads to quite a few “interesting” conversations.

I almost miss living at home. Almost…

You Suck at Conversation

•May 7, 2009 • 13 Comments

Look, I’m not going to lie to any of you and throw up some facade like I’m amazing at everything. That’s right, even I have things I don’t particularly excel at. One of those things happens to be small talk.

Now, I could launch into rant a few thousand words long about how utterly useless and worthless small talk really is in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t help you get to know someone all that well beyond superficial bullshit. It certainly doesn’t fulfill any void you have in your life. If anything, it’s merely nothing more than a time filler when spending time with people you truly don’t care much about. Like I said, I could detail this out for you, but I’m going to assume that my highly intelligent and socially retarded readers (both of you that are still left) know this already. So with that out of the way, let’s move on.

My inability to create small talk with virtually anyone is somewhat relevant to what I’m actually going to write about: the worst things to ask when attempting to have a conversation with someone. These particularly apply to someone you talk to on a consistent basis, since not only do they make you look desperate for some level of communication, but it also gives the semblance of inability to think of anything of actual substance to discuss. Also, they really annoy the fuck out of me. A lot.

I’ll quit with the jibber-jabber and get right to the list of Things You Should Never Ask Someone Unless You’re Intentionally Trying to Irritate Them.

Question #1: What are you doing? – I think this one almost speaks for itself, but let me elaborate anyway. Typically if you’re asking this question, odds are the conversation is either taking place online or over the phone, since no one would ask “What are you doing?” to someone standing right in front of them, unless it was natural curiosity due to being unfamiliar with whatever is going on (which is one of the very few instances that makes asking this question socially acceptable). As for the other two situations, well, no. Asking it over the phone is utterly pointless unless you’re being ignored for some particular reason, because the obvious answer is “talking to you”. Anything else you can usually deduce from background noise (TV, typing on the computer, eating, etc.). And if you can’t deduce it, then too bad, because it really doesn’t matter. And if you ask it while talking to someone online… well, what kind of answer do you truly expect? They’re stuck in their computer chair, sitting at their computer, and they’re having a conversation with you. What more could they possibly be doing? And even if they are doing something else at the time, how interesting could it possibly be? Paying bills, looking at websites, watching TV, talking to other people… none of this invokes further discussion or legitimate interest from the person asking the question. Unless they’re crazy and obsessed with your every action. And if this is the case, then you have even more reason to avoid the person asking. (Take note of this girls, especially you crazy jealous types, because guys will avoid prolonged conversations with you if you’re going to keep tabs on them even while they’re actually talking to you. Just. Stop.)

Bottom Line: If someone is talking to you on the phone or computer, odds are really good that they’re not doing anything interesting at all, so stop fucking asking already.

Question #2: What did you eat? – I ate my arm. Seriously. This is one of the questions that tends to irritate me the most since it not only doesn’t even feed into the crazy obsessive person’s mindset (because really what you ate doesn’t affect them in any way, unless your answer was “eating at the Y over at (insert girl’s name here)“). It’s just a mundane, terrible question, that screams “I have nothing interesting to say, so I’m going to inquire regarding the most uninteresting thing you could’ve possibly done in the past couple of hours.” The only exception here is if you were out at some important banquet or new restaurant and they were naturally curious as to what was served or how the food was. But even then, the question is still quite terrible.

Bottom Line: If you’re about to ask someone this question, just don’t.

Question #3: What are you thinking about?/What’s on your mind? – I’ll just get the exception(s) out of the way on this one right away: If you just wrapped up a serious conversation and are wondering how the other person feels about what was just said, or someone is obviously distressed over something and isn’t coming right out and saying what it is. That’s. It.

Any other time this question is asked, it’s again to point out “I have nothing of interest to say or any real topics of conversation”, but also adds a “I’m going to attempt to be deep and inquisitory by attempting to probe your thoughts”. It’s the go-to question for some pseudo-intellectual failure when they’re trying to show that their mind is capable of much higher level of thinking, feeling, and understanding that it truly is. Also remember that bit about crazy obsessive girls from before? Yeah, they love this question too. It’s almost like a set up, because they need you to be thinking about them and only them, otherwise they could be losing you and fall out of love with them and then go cheat on them with some other girl or dream about some other girl while having sex with this girl or whatever other ridiculous shit goes on in the head of a crazy girl. (I was going to have a woman fill this portion out for me with exactly how the female mind processes this, but that would’ve required way too much effort and I feel that not only am I close enough with what I already wrote, but the actual truth straight from the horse’s mouth might induce unrepairable damage to people unaware that crazy girls actually think this way.)

Instead of asking this, why not just tell me what’s on your mind and perhaps the natural flow of conversation will move to what’s on my mind? Unless you’re completely devoid of thought (and many people are), this would be a much easier (and much less irritating) method to go about it if you really want to delve into another person’s psyche. Also, you can understand much more about a person based on their reactions to the things you say and the context in which they respond than flat out asking blunt questions like that and getting some terrible response. And if you must know if they’re thinking about you, odds are very good they are in some capacity since they are having a conversation with you, but to gauge the amount that they’re thinking about you is borderline insanity. Which is fitting, since girls are insane.

Bottom Line: Asking me what’s on my mind makes you look desperate for “deep” conversation, and that you’re incapable of generating real conversation any other way.

Question #4: What did you do at work today? – This is one of those questions that simply should never be asked, unless you work with the person and you need the details of what was accomplished for when you go to do your work. But since this is rarely the case, the person asking the question likely has no clue as to your job activities, duties, and other responsibilities, absolutely nothing of substance could be said in response. I could tell someone what I did today, but since most of it ends up with business jargon thrown in (plus the additional fun of most people not even knowing what the hell my position does, let alone it’s mere existence in the first place), they’re not going to get anything out of it except more questions to ask and ultimately giving up.

So let’s say I do actually detail what I did at work that day (yes, I do actual work at times… my entire day is not spent only talking to people on AIM, going online, and posting blogs). What do they get out of it? Nothing. None of what I said means a damn thing to them, it’s just more filler conversation due to the absence of actual conversation. I don’t bring up the details of my job in typical conversation on purpose; I don’t expect most people to really understand what I do or my particular job function beyond “I try to save the company money”. In fact, it takes quite a while just to describe my job in the first place, before even bothering to describe anything I’m working on (which also includes a bunch of explanation as to what the project truly entails before getting into the details). So unless you’re intimately familiar with what I do for some odd reason (which is highly unlikely for me since so few people hold a position like mine), stop asking what I did at work.

Bottom Line: You don’t want to hear what I did at work, and I don’t want to explain it. It’s just as boring for me to talk about as it would be for you to listen to.

These are merely the most common questions I’ve been asked over the years that irritate the hell out of me. I’m sure there are more. In fact, I know there are more. But none are as obvious as these. I could get into mundane stuff such as “how was your day?” and “how was work?”, but really, those serve the purpose of showing that you remotely care about how someone’s life is going.

I’m not sure if this is ironic or simply just someone trying to torture me, but as I was about to Publish this post, I got asked “So how is your project at work going?” by someone on AIM. I think Jesus hates me. Bastard.

It’s Officially an Epidemic.

•April 28, 2009 • 15 Comments

Ugh.

I think that pretty much sums it up. I went and put way too much faith in people, believed they could keep a level head, not cause the situation to get out of hand and truly be worried about nothing. Apparently I expected too much of them. Apparently my corporation is full of gullible fools who buy into media scare tactics nearly immediately. If only they had bought into things such as “technology” as quickly, then I wouldn’t have started working here 3 years ago on a Windows 95 computer at a place with only dial up internet access. And this was in 2006! (Don’t worry, I quickly convinced my GM that Engineering all needed new computers, custom built my own with the biggest monitor in the place, and help set up a T1 line so I could properly slack off. After my transfer to another division, I have now secured myself an even bigger monitor, new desktop, and a new laptop which sees more use at home for personal reasons than any actual work.)

Anyway, back on topic. Here is the conversation I had this morning with our commercial leader, completely unedited (except for privacy reasons):

Commercial Leader (CL): anyone coming here from Mexico for our Kaizans? (Note: Kaizens are part of my job, events I run and participate in for rapid improvement that either cut cost or streamline flow to improve processes.)
Me: Not that I’m aware of.
Should they be?
CL: nope – just concerned w/virus
on call now wit (Corporate name redacted) on it
Me: … seriously?
CL: yep
Me: Sigh.

The virus he is referring to is of course the pig flu. Well, swine flu, if you want to get technical on me. At first I was slightly offended that he felt like I would even bother bringing anyone from Mexico to do work for me (it’s not like I’m being charged for their labor, or else I would strongly consider the option), especially with so many other more relevant plants with far more qualified people for me to swipe nearby. Then I realized that this was merely the soccer moms at the corporate office (or wives of VPs/CEO) panicking over the media scare machine working its magic. (Don’t worry, I’m well aware many men were involved in this decision too.) Now, why they were focused solely on Mexicans was not readily apparent to me, until I looked at the pig flu map:

Reported cases of pig flu. Canada was cut off because no one really cares about that country anyway.

Reported cases of pig flu. Canada was cut off because, well, no one really gives a shit about Canada.

See all of those markers in Mexico!? That means Mexicans are hosts for the disease! We can’t risk having their kind coming around here and taking our jobs! infecting us all. Let’s ignore the concentration of markers in southern California (they’re probably Mexican anyway) and on the east coast. There’s no way any of the infected people would be one of the people coming here to visit. But from Mexico? Let’s be reasonable here: we simply cannot take that chance.

I can only hope they treated Canadians the same way during the SARS “epidemic”.

I fully expect an email from Corporate or HR regarding this epidemic sometime today. It’s not a full blown disaster until this happens.

UPDATE: Naturally, I received the email at 10:44 am from our local HR person. Big surprise. On the upside, they gave a “DO NOT COME TO WORK” for anyone exhibiting any flu-like symptoms. That sounds way too easy to take advantage of.

It’s Official: Work Has Cock Blocked Me

•April 20, 2009 • 16 Comments

My company has finally given me the finger. (Well not really finally… they’ve done this before.) How did they do this to me? By blocking both AIM Express and my proxy to access GMail. Bastards.

Apparently they were unaware that I, their star overachieving worker, do my best work while completely distracted by multiple IMs and emails. And instead of letting me just have this, they instead have forced me to spend the last couple hours (and the next few days) searching for a new way around their network filters. I have so far failed, making my time completely unproductive… that is, unless you count this post as “productivity”. I have been neglecting this blog for quite a while, so I’m going to let it count.

Currently my work day feels so… empty. No AIM. Facebook. GMail. Hotmail. AOL Mail. GTalk. 3rd party messengers (i.e. Meebo). Pidgin. All I have left is this blog, most of the websites I visit daily (which will now become hourly), and my corporate email with inter-company IM. I feel like a middle school girl since I have to rely on texting people to communicate with them during the day. So yeah, my options are slim. For now.

Luckily there is a light at the end of the tunnel: I’m (finally) getting a smartphone within the next month or two. The downside, of course, is how obvious it is I’m slacking off when I’m spending more time on my phone than on my computer at work. At least I work with a bunch of dinosaurs who barely know how computers work, let alone new mobile devices. (I had the joy of setting up a couple of the staff level peoples’ corporate Blackberrys. And teaching staff level managers Basic Excel. This included high level topics such as “Opening a file” and “Erasing Data”. I’m not even joking. One woman couldn’t even keep the left and right mouse buttons straight.)

But until then, I will fight the good fight… I will find a way around these damn filters. I think that will be my main task for the week. (Well, aside from from the review with the VP that is directly above my position tomorrow, and the training I have to give to 30 people, which includes some of my former bosses and other high ranking people in the corporation on Friday.) To me, this will be time well spent. I can’t let The Man hold me down!

On a side note: I think this marks my almost triumphant return to blogging. If anything could force me to actually write something once again, it would be being at work (and not traveling) and having to survive without email or AIM. I know you missed me. I would say I missed you too… but I’m not one to lie.

Oh, and for all of you out there who even considered telling me “You’re supposed to work at work”, I have two words for you: Blow me.

The Love Palace Gets Some Flair

•March 23, 2009 • 36 Comments

My apartment was deemed the “Love Palace” by Brit years ago. She was probably being ironic, now that I think about it. Damn her. Now you have the history of the name.

Saturday night, my mom and brother (I have two brothers, both younger, this is the oldest of the two) came out to where I live to go out to dinner with me. They live 40 minutes away, so this isn’t exactly a common thing, but whatever. Anyway, at dinner I made a comment inquiring if they noticed how neat my apartment was. (I’m notoriously neat, especially for a guy, and usually get comments about it out of surprise the first time anyone stops by.)

Mom: “Yeah, but you don’t have anything in there. There’s still nothing on your walls.”

Brother: “And you barely have any furniture!”

(Side note: There is nothing on my walls for a reason. If I have a… uh… guest, the focus is usually on each other or the 50″ TV that everything in the room positions you to look at. If it’s just me, I’m looking at either my computer monitor or the TV. Therefore, nothing needs to be on the walls unless someone else moves in or spends a significant amount of time there and would be more inclined to spend more time there, assuming that’s what I want, and they desire stuff on my walls. I will argue this until the day I die. But as I remain single, my walls shall remain empty.)

Me: “Barely any furniture? What in the hell could I possibly add that I don’t already have for furniture?”

Brother: “Well, you could get a coffee table!”

Mom: “There’s no place for him to put a coffee table, he has that giant ottoman for his couch. But he could get like a table top thing for that!”

Me: “Uh… first of all, why in the hell would I buy a table top thing for my ottoman? It’s for my feet. Second, I have an end table and TV trays, so I have no shortage of places to set things. Any other bright ideas?”

Mom: “Well your end table just looks so empty. You’ve only that that lamp and that remote charger on it.”

Me: “That’s because I put the other 6 remotes away that I don’t need because of the universal remote. I could get those back out for show, if that will make my apartment look more homey.”

Mom: “Well you could put some books on your end table, you know, for looks.”

Brother: “Yeah, he could use both of his books…”

(Another note: I actually have Five books now, thank you very much. Someone bought me three of them for Christmas. Number I’ve read from cover to cover: Zero. And I’ve had one of them for about 4 years. I’m working on it, okay? Back off.)

We get back to my apartment, and while we’re talking, I decide to see what I can do to “decorate” my place to their liking while they’re still there. So what do I do? I grab a few Maxims that were sitting on my desk and fan them out on my end table.

End TableMe: “There! Now my apartment has decoration. It’s more homely, just like you wanted.”

Mom: “What are those? But it does look better now, smart ass.”

Me: “It’s just a few Maxims that I recently got for free in the mail.”

She goes over to look and see what I put on the table as my brother tries not to crack up. I’d like to think the expression on my mom’s face showed how proud she was of me. Well, or Seriously, Brandon? You really are your dad’s son. It really could go either way. I’m going with the former.