Sunday, November 28, 2010

You'll Never Guess (Really).

I'm pretty bad at conversation to begin with, so I really hate when people make it even more difficult for me. There are a few ways to make conversation harder with me. One of them is to put a sock in my mouth and cover it with duct tape. Alternatively, you can have a really exciting piece of news, and say "guess what!" Here's how conversations where someone tells me to "guess what" normally turn out...

Friend: Hey Brendan, guess what!
Me: You were molested as a child. I am the first person you've ever said anything to. Oh my God, it makes so much sense why I've never heard you speak of your step-dad before. Ok, your turn to guess what!
Friend: Um... No. I was going to say I have an extra ticket to a movie and was going to invite you, but now I feel sort of uncomfortable doing that. Also, I was never molested. And I've never mentioned my step dad because my parents are both alive and still married.
Me: Oh. Well, in case you were wondering, you were supposed to guess that I'm all out of clean boxer shorts as of yesterday.

But really, "guess what" is a pretty useless phrase, and only serves to sidetrack conversations. There's almost no way the person who is supposed to "guess what" could possibly add to the conversation. Also, what would happen if the person actually did "guess what?" Conversation would come to a screeching halt. Let's re-imagine that first conversation.

Friend: Hey Brendan, guess what!
Me: You were molested as a child. I am the first person you've ever said anything to. Oh my God, it makes so much sense why I've never heard you speak of your step-dad before. Ok, your turn to guess what!
Friend: Um. Yeah. That made this conversation easier. And judging by the way you're walking gingerly, I guess you're all out of clean boxer shorts. Was I right?
Me: Yup. Good talking, friend! See you!

See? The person who says "guess what" really doesn't want you to guess what. That would spoil the surprise. He just wants to create some tension. In that case, why not just say, "Hey, something exciting came up. Would you like to hear it?" Probably because that would be too easy and straightforwards.

There are other variations on this theme. One of them is "Guess who I just saw!" Sure, I'll try to guess who you just saw. Let me look around for a mutual friend, first. Then, if I see that mutual friend, I'll say his or her name. That way, I know I have a chance of being right, even if that's not who my conversation partner had in mind.

Friend: Hey, guess who I just saw!
Me: Did you see Chester on the sidewalk five seconds ago? Because I just did!
Friend: Oh. Um, yeah. I did just see him. I actually meant that I just saw Elvis, and he winked at me!
Me: Oh. Well, did you ask Chester about the cut on his face? It's a good story.

My personal (least) favorite is when people say "You'll never guess what..." Of course I'll never guess what! You could have done any number of things! But I could probably guess what you didn't do. That sounds like a way more fun game for me. "I'll bet you didn't just get laid, you annoying twerp," I would reply. But no, I could probably guess what if you gave me more hints though. I don't know about you, but life isn't a huge game of 20 questions to me. If you really want me to guess, you need to be more helpful in telling me what I won't guess. Maybe tell me something like, "You'll never guess how much money I found in my jacket pocket from last year!" That would be more fun for all of us.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this. The trick is the same as the fortune-cookie game. Just add "in bed" to whatever your conversation partner asks you to guess.

Friend: Guess who I just saw!
Me: In bed?
Now I'm interested. Was it as good as I would imagine?

Friend: Guess what I just did!
Me: In bed? Ooooooh.
TMI if it's a guy. If it's a girl, I'm really interested.

Friend: You'll never guess where I was.
Me: In bed? Do I want to know?
I do guess that you are a slut, though! Bonus points?

So keep that trick in mind. If we are all obnoxious together, hopefully, everyone will stop using the phrase "guess what." But really, does this bother anyone else as much as it bothers me? Please let me know so I can tell if I'm really neurotic or not. Hope all is well!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Relationship Clarification

For some strange reason, friends often feel that I am an appropriate source of relationship advice. I find this ceaselessly amusing, because I'm no more qualified to give relationship advice than I am to give medical advice. In fact, I may actually be less competent in relationship advice, because every now and then, telling someone to "walk it off" might just be what they need.
"Oh, man. That looked like it hurt. You should walk that off."

I think a major issue I have when people ask me for relationship advice is that I have difficulty understanding the situation at hand. In my defense, this isn't my fault. There are so many terms used in so many different ways to describe relationships that it's not surprising that I don't know what's going on. For that reason, I've compiled a list of these terms and how I understand them. In the future, keep these in mind when you are discussing your relationship with me.

Here's how my thought process works for the most basic of statements.

What you say: "I'm single."
How I initially interpret this: "You do not have multiple personalities."
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I am not romantically involved with anyone."
How I normally use this: "I'm single, mostly because I have trouble talking to girls."

Alternatively, you might say...

What you say: "I'm not seeing anyone right now."
How I initially interpret this: "I have gone blind right now!"
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I'm single right now."
How I normally use this: "Who are you pointing at?"

It gets more complicated once you start bringing other people into it.

What you say: "I'm seeing this really great girl right now."
How I initially interpret this: "I spy, with my little eye..."
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I'm sleeping with someone very temporarily."
How I normally use this: "I spy, with my little eye..."

Ok, now we're getting someplace...

What you say: "I'm sleeping with X"
How I initially interpret this: "I enjoy spooning."
What I eventually assume you mean: "I am spending a lot of time awake with X in places one would normally sleep."
How I use this: "I'm sleeping with my favorite stuffed animal."

More complexities!

What you say: "I'm hooking up with a cool girl right now"
How I initially interpret this: You are a fisherman.
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I occasionally kiss a girl I would not not hold hands with in public."
How I normally use this: "While playing football, the quarterback hooked up with the receiver for a 30 yard completion"

Even simple statements can make me get lost in thought for a second.

What you say: "I'm dating X"
How I initially interpret this: You are bragging about something, but I can't figure out what yet.
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "I do things in public with a girl I frequently kiss."
How I normally use this: "I guess I'm just dating myself, now..."

But what if things go wrong?

What you say: "We're taking a little break."
How I initially interpret this: "I have a kit-kat bar. Would you like me to break you off a piece, too?"
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "We feel like sleeping with other people for a bit."
How I normally use this: "I and my multiple personalities are not going to do any work for a while."

What you say: "I broke up with X"
How I initially interpret this: Heck, even I can understand this one.
What I eventually assume you mean to say: "That girl I used to kiss is now kissing other guys. Or girls."
How I normally use this: Well, I guess I have to be dating someone and then actually end up deciding that I don't want to date that person, then have the balls to end it. I don't think I've ever used this one, actually.
If you have similar difficulties understanding what people mean when they try to tell you something, please let me know. We should all work together to standardize the vocabulary here.

In other news, I have been featured on another blog! Jeremy and his friend have been alarmed by my actions, but I can inform you, I have only the best intentions in my dealings with the Syndicate Blatt. For complete coverage (and a picture of me shirtless), see here.

Anyway, hope all is well!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Proper Scarf Protocol

Fall is upon us once again, which means that cold weather is (supposedly) on its way. I haven't experienced a real cold snap, yet, but there have been hints that it might get chilly soon. In these recent weeks, I've noticed something really concerning for my male brethren, made perhaps even more sinister by the lack of actually cold temperatures. Namely, I've seen a lot of guys in scarves.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about fashion or anything vaguely related to it. Until relatively recently in my life, I thought the company Chanel was pronounced "channel"*, as in, "my fashion choices channel my inner hobo."
*True story

I do, however, know something about being a man, and I know that scarves have no role in manliness. God gave man the ability to grow beards for a reason: to keep our necks warm. If you have difficult growing a good, warm, man-beard, alternatively, God gave man the ability to wear warm, lined collars for a reason: to wear them in such a way as to keep our necks warm. Again, if you don't like wearing large collars, God gave man things like Turtle Fur neck gaiters to keep our necks warm. Basically, there are a lot of things you can do to avoid wearing a scarf. And you should want to avoid that, because scarves are made for women. If you're a woman, skip the rest of this paragraph. If you are a man, keep reading for the justification. God gave women scarves so that they can wear low-cut tops (for your pleasure) in cold weather, and still go outside without getting their necks cold, which would make them grumpy. This logic unfortunately also applies to hipsters and their V-neck shirts, but if you're a hipster wearing a scarf, God help you.

I don't want to say that there are never reasons to wear a scarf. I've provided a quick list of times when it is acceptable to sport a scarf.

-You are hiding a hickey a girl gave you from your friend. More specifically, you are hiding a hickey a girl who is not your girlfriend gave you from your girlfriend. Totally acceptable until the hickey disappears.

-You nicked yourself shaving, and don't want to stick toilet paper on your face. You wear a scarf to hide the bloody mess that is your neck and help stop the bleeding. Marginally acceptable for up to one hour.

-You suspect someone is trying to garrote you. You have a steel collar around your neck, but don't want your would be assassin to know. Largely acceptable until you have foiled the plot.
"Wait for it... Wait for it..." *
*In case this story is not immediately clear, my stunt double is wearing a protective collar. His would-be assassin is trying to garrote him in the middle of the road. Unfortunately, it is taking longer than the w-b-a planned, thanks to the hidden collar. The w-b-a is about to get hit by a car.
-Because of an elaborate prank, the only article of clothing you have is your scarf. Wear it proudly. Acceptable until your clothes are returned to you.

-You have cut your head off accidentally, but would like to go out. You use a scarf to hide this fact. Praiseworthy as long as you can hold it together.
Really, honey, it's fine. It just itches a tiny bit, that's all. I can go to dinner.
Feel free to submit any more suggestions for when it is acceptable for a man to wear a scarf, but in my mind, I've covered most of the major topics.

On a reflective note, I realize that my past two posts have probably alienated me from many friends. I realize this isn't a good thing. I don't like being a hater, but sometimes, I think hateful things, and I feel as if I have to speak my mind. If it's any consolation, this is about as hateful as I get. I will work on a more positive, happy post in the future. Hope all is well!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two Wonderful Things Combined!

You know what's great? When you take two things that are great individually, combine them, and you get something that's better than the sum of its parts. Think about Ice Cream Cake. Ice cream? Great. Cake? Great. But ice cream cake? Mind-blowingly, potentially pants-ruiningly dangerous.

You know who's a great musician? Andrew Bird. He's brilliantly musical and creative (you know, one of those people I'm jealous of).

Let me mention another talented person? Shel Silverstein. Thinking about The Giving Tree still brings me close to tears. He also wrote the collection of poems, "Where the Sidewalk Ends." I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything bad about that book. It would sort of be like saying "I can't stand puppies, kittens, or anything beautiful in life."

Recently, while listening to the radio, I found out that it's possible to combine Andrew Bird and Shel Silverstein, and it's as wonderful as you might imagine. Give it a listen:

Sorry for a lack of personal creativity. I've been too busy to come up with much, but worry not! Ideas are stewing.

On a side note: I've been circulating some dollar bills that advertise for this blog. Out of curiosity, has anyone who received one of those dollars bothered to see my blog? If yes, please let me know, and let me know where you got that dollar bill! Otherwise, I may just be wasting ink. And committing a crime (defacing money is illegal). Not that that would stop me.

So I hope all is well! I'll check back in soon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rant Against Earphones

This post may cost me a few friends, which, when you have as few as I do, is a serious issue, but it's something I believe in strongly. I hate it when people walk around listening to earphones. Bear with me.

Don't confuse my dislike of earphones with a dislike of music. I like music more than I like candy, even though it's more difficult to lure children into vans with music. I listen to and play music regularly. Music is not the issue. The issue is when people walk around using earphones, thus making me appear even more awkward than usual.
If you're asking "Brendan, how is that possible?" I'd probably reply "How is it it possible that I can appear more awkward than usual, or how do earphones make me appear more awkward than usual?" If you're asking the first question, just know that it's possible. But if you're asking the second question, then get ready for my rant (please imagine that I have accosted a stranger in earphones and proceed to scream the following at him, because this is how it goes in my head...).

So how far are you walking that you need to have music lest you get bored? Is this a casual-walking marathon that has just been poorly publicized? And do the rules specifically stipulate that you are not allowed to talk to fellow competitors or take any interest in your surroundings? Also, how many songs can you even listen to on what I imagine is your six minute walk? Are you just going to pause whatever song you're listening to midway when you arrive at your destination, or are you going to try to find a song that is exactly as long as your hike will take? Maybe you should just listen to something like Hey Jude by the Beatles and just stop when they're all singing "na na na na."

I could go on and on, but I suppose I should explain the roots of this antipathy against earphones. You see, a good portion of my social life relies on chance encounters* with friends. The idea is that either I see my friend, or my friend sees me, one of us somehow attracts the other's attention, and then we hang out. This works great when both of us are paying attention to our surroundings, as opposed to something like, say, Blink-182**.
*borderline ambushes
**In fairness, if you're listening to Blink-182, I probably don't want to talk to you anyway.

Trouble begins once earphones get involved. It normally goes down something like this: I see a friend. I shout the friend's name. My friend keeps walking, because my friend is listening to loud music only he or she can hear. I call my friend's name again. This continues until I realize that the person is listening to music, and I just didn't know about it. Now that I've shouted really loudly a couple of times, people start looking at me, wondering where the noise is coming from and why the source is outside of an asylum without at least a straight jacket.

At this point, I have a few options, none of which is too attractive.
a) I can continue to shout louder and louder, hoping each time my friend will hear. But seeing as my friend is walking away by now, this isn't likely.
b) I can chase down my friend, full speed, and tap him on the shoulder. That's great, because people didn't think I was desperate enough already.
c) Explain to anyone who looks at me funny that the Borg has taken over my friend, and that resistance is futile. That must be why he isn't replying to me.
d) Have a nervous breakdown, and hope that someone will comfort me.

Compare this to what the casual observer would think if everything had gone according to plan, and after hailing my friend once, he or she came over to talk to me. See what a difference that would make to me? This is exactly why I can't stand earphones.

There is, however, one time when wearing earphones is acceptable. There have been countless times when my dignity has been saved thanks to them. These often occur on public transportation. The situation is this: I'm busy working up the courage to try to go talk to a pretty girl on the same train. This is difficult, because not only do I need to work up the courage, but I also need to dismiss all of the logical arguments against it (e.g. You will probably make a fool of yourself. What if she's a man? She'll probably bite your head off, etc.). It's at the pivotal moment right before I'm about to try to make conversation when I notice that she is wearing earphones. "Oh well," I tell myself. "Can't go talk to her. She's wearing earphones. Next time."

But seriously. Don't wear earphones for those five minute walks you go on. You're ruining my social life and my reputation as potentially sane.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Compatibility Test

Have you ever wondered if your thought process is anything like mine? I've come up with a quick test for you to take that will let you know just how alike we think!

Here's how it works: I've compiled a list of things I think to myself multiple times a day. If that thought is something you never think, you score 0 points. If it is something you think maybe once in a while, give yourself 1 point. If you find yourself thinking it once a day, go ahead, take 2 points. And lastly, if you think it several times a day, you get 3 (!) points. Sum your points, then see to which category you belong!

1) I sure hope this doesn't set off the fire alarm.

2) I wonder where (important document I urgently need in the near future) is; I know I had it a minute ago!

3) I wonder what that was. More importantly, I wonder why I ate it.

4) What a reckless and irresponsible idea. I could get seriously hurt. I wish I didn't feel compelled to do it because I thought of it/it could be cool.

5) That was remarkably clumsy, even for me.

6) Man, (person) is going to kill me when he/she finds out that I forgot to do X/bring Y. How can I blame this on someone else?

7) I tried to explain myself like, five times, and you still have no idea what I'm talking about. You probably think I have some learning disability right now. Well, shit. I'm just going to say "Never mind," and hope you forget about this.

8) Oh my God, it's that person. I hope he/she doesn't notice me. Act naturally, avoid eye contact, and whistle nonchalantly. I can't believe I did that. Maybe by now, he/she doesn't recognize me any more? Probably not, given how stupid that thing I did was.

9) Again? Shit, I can't believe I passed third grade and I can't keep my shoelaces tied for longer than 10 minutes. Why don't they make Velcro shoes for people my age?*
*See #7.

10) Screw this. I think I'm just going to go hang out outside.

So what was your point total? Here's how we relate to each other based on that number.

0-3: You will never understand me, and I will never understand you. I wish you well.

4-6: I rely on people like you to feed, clothe and support me. Please don't ever leave me. Also, can I ask you to do something for me?

7-9: You're pretty normal. What's it like?

10-12: You are the cool kid in grade school I always wanted to be. Interesting, funny, with a slightly dangerous and rebellious edge.

13-15: I feel comfortable enough around you that I will complain about anything wrong in my life to you. I'm so sorry that you ended up in this category.

16-18: I really want to be your friend, but don't know how. Want to go get beers? You should drink way more than I do, then retake this test. Maybe your score will go up and I'll know how to relate to you better.

19-21: You are one of those few people who laugh at my jokes.

21-23: We should hang out more often. Please. I need company badly.

24-26: You could easily be my best friend. You should seriously consider applying.

27-30: Please contact me immediately so we can date and be an incredibly dysfunctional couple.