Archive for the 'True Story' Category

Kitten Leasing

So, on a scale of 1 to disturbing, should I be scared by the fact that the email indicated in this screenshot is not spam, but rather, sent by a close friend?

My life is…different than other people’s.


A few weeks ago, I was in New Haven to take a flight to Philadelphia. Mind you, I didn’t want to be in either New Haven or Philadelphia, but airports tend to be the kind of place you are with no clue why you’re there and a strong desire to leave – like the dentist’s office, or Germany. You don’t like the place you’re going any more than the place you’re leaving, but you’re at the airport, so what the heck. You fly.
This was, without a doubt, the smallest airport I have ever been in. Unfortunately, it wasn’t comically small, or this would be a more entertaining blog post. In any case, in the airport was this sign:

(I know it would seem that I was drunk or not wearing my glasses, but neither is true.) In case you can’t read it, it says “ATTENTION ALL PASSENGERS: TWEED NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT!” Needless to say, this was a bit perplexing. Why would tweed need my support? It seems to be a well-supported fabric, what with the abundance of elderly and/or stuffy British men. And why not promote support of some of the more flamboyant fabrics? Where is the taffeta lobby? The chiffon promoters? (Yes, those are both great band names.) Furthermore, how does one support tweed? Is there a Tweed Workers’ Union or a Tweed Foundation?
This truly is one of man’s great mysteries.

(It turns out that the airport is named Tweed, and apparently needs handouts. But I still think that Tweed Foundation idea has merit.)

Get Up, Get Down

So I said I would tell the story from after I arrived at the airport to go home for Thanksgiving. I get to the airport plenty early, and jump through the various hoops security makes you jump through (“Please remove your jacket, sir. Please remove your shoes, sir…..No, sir – j-just your shoes! Sir, please put your pants back on.” “But they were chafing something fierce!”) and arrive at the gate with nothing to do for an hour and a half. So I take my suit and my carry-on bag and go to see if I can’t get caught up on my email and blog reading.

I take out my laptop and behold! There is free wireless internet access, and lo, it is good. Well, I start going through my reading, and soon my 1.5 hours become 3 hours, due to a delay. I realize that I should keep my laptop battery charged for the plane, and I look around and find an outlet. I close my laptop, put it in my bag, and take my bag and suit and go over to the seat with the outlet. Put down suit, put down bag, open bag, get plug, plug in, get laptop, open laptop. And then I think I hear my name over the loudspeaker. Ok, I unplug the plug, close the laptop, put it and the plug in my bag, pick up my bag, pick up my suit, and go and wait in line to talk to the person at the information desk.

In retrospect, I think I’m so obsessed with my own name that I just assumed it was me they were calling. I’d probably respond to any name with a reasonable number of vowels and consonants. For example, I could see this scene playing out:

LOUDSPEAKER: Marie Antoinette, Marie Antoinette, please come to the front desk. There’s an mob of angry French peasants waiting for you.
ME: Hi, my name’s Ilan, there’s a mob here for me?
AIRLINE PERSON: Um, yes…over there. Are you-
ANGRY PEASANT 1: Hey, I thought she was prettier!
ANGRY PEASANT 2: Hey, I thought she was a woman!
ANGRY PEASANT 3: Hey, I thought love was only true in fairy tales / Meant for someone else but not for me / Love was out to get me, that’s the way it seemed / Disappointment haunted all my dreams. / Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer / Not a trace of doubt in my mind….
[At this juncture, a wonderfully choreographed dance starts, complete with the peasants twirling their pitchforks and juggling their torches. At some point, the real Marie Antoinette shows up, and the control and grace the dancers exhibit when setting up the guillotine and executing her – without missing a beat, mind you – can be described as nothing short of “masterful.”]

Eh, where was I? Oh, right. So, as you see, my tendency to assume everyone’s talking to me can dangerous. Beheading-level dangerous, or worse – spontaneous-public-musicals-level dangerous. But nothing so dramatic happened. After waiting for fifteen minutes on line, holding my carry-on and my suit, I get to the front of the line, where I am promptly informed that I wasn’t called at all. Shoot, I could’ve spent that time I wasted in line watching a cat attacking an air conditioner on YouTube! (My money’s on the air conditioner.) So I go to sit down again and discover my outlet’s been taken. Oh, well. Suit down, bag down, laptop out, laptop open. And then I hear the announcement again. It sure does sound like my name, but they’re saying to go to the desk by the gate instead. Well, at least there’s no line there. I ask the woman sitting next to me if she heard what name they just called. She says no. (I will note at this juncture that I have no qualms speaking to total strangers. The reverse is not always true.) Close laptop, put in bag, pick up bag, pick up suit, go over to desk. As I’m walking there, I hear an announcement for a woman named Linda with the same last name as me. I pause and check my ID. No, I’m not Linda. It must’ve been her they’ve been calling. I go back to my seat, smiling sheepishly at the woman. “It wasn’t me,” I say, not wanting to seem like a crazy person. She just smiles in my general direction and goes back to her computer. Then (wouldn’t you know it) comes another announcement, and they most definitely just called me to the gate desk. Close laptop, put in bag, pick up bag, pick up suit, and march over to the desk.

“Did you call _________, party of one?”
“Yes are you [checking the list] Ilan?”
“Oh, well, there’s a problem with your assigned seat.”
“There is?”
“Yes, it doesn’t exist.”
“It doesn’t…?”
“Yeah, there isn’t a row 23 on the plane.”
At this point, I consider going mad, perhaps gibberingly so. I decline.
“So….now what?”
“Oh, we’re assigning you to a different seat.”

And I get a new boarding pass, and go back to sit down. I was worried for a moment there that I would be forced to sit on someone’s lap for the whole flight. I mean, that could be ok, depending on the comfortableness of the lap in question, but non-lap seats are certainly preferable. Anyhow, I put down my suit, put down my bag, sit down, open my bag, take out my laptop, and soon, a plug becomes available, so I plug it in. Then, after a while, the boarding call finally comes. Plug. Laptop. Bag. Go! I stop, turn around and go back. I pick up my suit and go back towards the gate.

Sighing, I enter the line for boarding. This is going to be a long flight.

Keeping Me On My Toes

So…I’m in the airport right now, ready to fly to visit my family and friends back east. My flight should’ve left 20 minutes ago, but we have yet to board, due to a delay. So I figured I’d blog. It seems I’ve broken out of my 1.5-year-long posting slump lately. Let’s hope it lasts.

To get to the airport, I took a cab. I call up the taxi company, order a cab, and try to figure out why the receptionist keeps calling me “honey.” (It may have been a reference to how some of my friends in college called me Hunny, but that would be odd, since none of those friends work at the All-State Taxicab company.) So after a half day at work, I go home, gather and pack the last few things, and catch the cab waiting outside. The cabbie is nice and jovial and figures out without me telling him that I’m going to the airport. Nice.
We set off at a nice clip, and almost hit another car, but that’s ok, since my motto in driving is “a near miss is still a miss.” (This being my second driving motto, my first being “The brake is on the left, stupid.”) And then as we’re going along, the car hiccups, like we ran over something, or the engine is coming down with the black lung. I raise my eyebrows.
“What was that?” I ask.
“Oh, the air conditioning isn’t working.” He rolls down the windows. Hmmm. Kind of confused here.
“What was that?” I ask again.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t…?”
“Yeah, I don’t know. I am surprised too.” This would’ve been an ok thing to say if he had said it in an adult-being-concerned voice. But no, he said it with a kind of wonderment, as if the car had just started dispensing free candy out of the broken air conditioning vents, and we were just reaping the benefits.

Note to self: Design candy-dispensing air conditioning system for cars. Make millions and get a tummy ache.

“Oh,” I say, unable to properly respond to this. Then he offers some new information.
“The check engine light is on….like always.”

Great. I am going to die.

UPDATE: I did not die after all.

I’ll tell you my in-the-airport story soon, but I think we may be boarding now.

Wheelin’ and Dealin’

I don’t have too much particularly interesting material from recent weeks due to being somewhat distracted and/or communicating with a superintelligent piece of lint and/or being locked in the trunk of a 1978 Chevy somewhere outside of Poughkeepsie (long story. Don’t ask.) But not to worry, as things are calming down / I’m sober / I got out and hitched a ride with this nice (though somewhat…aromatic) trucker. His name is Francis, and we are now fast friends.

In any case, I do have an as-yet-unpublished tale of my first traffic ticket. Yes, I have a car. She is called Charlene, and she has served me well. But this is not her story, as she was not the steed upon which I rode. Nay, I rode a lesser beast, known in most circles as a “bicycle.” That’s right. I got a ticket while riding my bike. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Bicycles and I have a love-destroy relationship. I brought a bicycle up to hilly Ithaca in the beginning of my Freshman year. It was a 13-year-old artifact, but it was in good condition and fairly functional. By the end of the year, having ridden it about a mile a day, straight through the frigid, snow-laden winter, it was, shall we say, in less than perfect repair. Had I been asked to testify before a court of law on the nature of the construction materials of the bike, I’d have to answer “Rust and duct tape. And maybe a tire.” More specifically, the seat was mostly covered in/made of duct tape, one pedal had come off, leaving only a metal rod, and the back brakes were no longer functional, making my preferred method of stopping some combination of using my front brakes, slamming my feet into the ground, and driving into snowbanks. But the bell I’d installed still worked, so thank God for small favors. (This way, I could warn people before I ran them over – note the aforementioned lack of back brakes.) Yes, I realized that it was somewhat dangerous. I’d been warned; I believe the phrase that the guy at the bike shop used was “death trap.”

In sum, though I try to ride safely, and I wear a helmet, I don’t always treat my bicycles with the respect necessary to keep them out of the “death trap” category. Which is why, when I was pulled over by a cop on a Spring evening last year, my bike’s front-mounted light was broken. Though this bicycle was a new one, it also had broken back brakes, a fact which the cop (let’s call him “Officer Fancy Pants”) failed to notice. But he did not fail to notice the fact that I had no working light, or that I (courteously, I thought) pulled into the left lane to allow his car to pass, or that it (presumably) had been a slow crime day.

He interrogated me as if I were a gun-wielding, baby-orphan-killing, jaywalking cocaine seller, accusing me of, among other things, a lack of respect for the law. Well, yeah; I don’t respect it. Not if it’s going to cause me to get a ticket for bike-riding, which it turns out it did. I mean, doesn’t he have frat parties to shut down, and parking tickets to issue or something?

I gave my information to Officer F. Pants in a daze, as he wrote up the ticket, not pausing to think that he had no way to verify any information I was giving him. After all, you don’t need to have any form of ID on your person while practicing the seedy crime-filled art of bikery. So I took the ticket bewilderedly, ready to go to court, when Officer Pants offered me one glimmer of hope, in a world bereft of justice and free ice cream for all. With the type of felony I had committed, if the owner gets the bike fixed, and then gets to a cop to sign a form verifying this, before sundown on the next day, he is exonerated. (I was a bit confused about that time limit. It sounded a bit too, um, magic-spellish: “If thou doth get the Signature of Power by the setting of the sun in one day’s time, you can lift the Curse of the Ridiculous Ticket….” You know, something like that.) I decided, what the heck, replaced the light, and brought the improved bicycle (still sans back brakes, mind you) to the police station on campus. And – guess what? – I got the signature I needed. (“And lo, it came to pass that the Curse of the Oppressive Fancy Pants was lifted and the younglings pranced and frolicked once again, except for little Johnny, ’cause he’s not really into the whole prancing/frolicking scene, not that there doth be anything wrong with that….”) Later, I would go on to deliver the form to the judge who was handling the ticket, wrapping up this case nicely.

As I left the police station that day, the world looked just a little brighter. Riding my bike away, I broke at least two traffic laws.

It felt good.

They’ve Got a Way With B-O-L-O-G-N-A

True story.
A few months ago, I was in Scranton, PA (Motto: “We’re not stupid enough to be coal miners…anymore.”), visiting family friends with my family. I woke up Saturday morning, and I was laying in bed, and I asked my brother the following question:

“If your bologna really did have a first name, and, like, you knew it, then would you really be willing to eat it?”

I believe he was speechless.

(And for those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, look here. Cretins.)

Arrrr….You Kidding Me?

Ok. The natives are restless, and I’m out of excuses. The largest complaint (as measured in square feet) I get about this site is lack of regular updates. So I’m going to try this: In addition to any extra posts I want to add, every Sunday or Monday, I intend to provide you, Dear Readers, with an update the likes of which the world has never seen. I intend to make one more drastic change in the future, namely moving to another site, but I have to add stuff and fiddle with the HTML before I can do that. For now, it’s just the weekly update. So, here it goes:

My roommate thinks he’s a pirate. No, not a software or music pirate, but the kind that plunder on the high seas, sing about rum and dead men’s chests, and wear far too much eye makeup. I’m not quite sure whether it’s a delusion or an aspiration, but either way, there’s reason to show concern. I’m not making this stuff up. He goes around singin pirate sings, and enjoys everything pirate-related, except (hopefully) the whole keelhauling bit. (What is keelhauling, anyway? It’s doubtless unpleasant, much like drawing and quartering, thrawing, or garroting, but how does one keelhaul, exactly?) Despite our best efforts to convince him otherwise, he has maintained this position.

College students. Can’t with ’em, and….
….that’s all I’ve got.

So it was his birthday two days ago, and a mutual friend and I went to Walmart to find him a gift or two. We asked the guy at the front of the store where the pirate section was. Honestly. I kept a straight face, while he struggled to understand what we asking for. Walking away, towards the toy section, I laughed about this. Then I realized that we were making the life of a hardworking, honest American more difficult with our childish joke.
Then I laughed again. (I’m going to hell, aren’t I?) To make a long story short, we got him a pirate balloon, a plastic pirate sword, a copy of “Muppet Treasure Island,” an ice cream cake, a flask, a cup with the words “Drink. Pee. Repeat.” on it (that one wasn’t my idea, and due to a misreading, we discovered the concept is worsened when you take out the first period from that line), a Nerf-like missile launcher, and an axe, with a sharpener, and we wrapped them in My Little Pony wrapping paper. Let me clarify. The first two weapons are meant as toys, and are relatively harmless, but this was a real camping axe, about a foot and a half long. In case you were wondering, we got him the pirate stuff because of the whole pirate thing, the flask and cup because he’s into bartending, and the axe because he like camping. Looking at his presents, you’d think that he was a drunk outdoorsman-pirate who likes ice cream, balloons, and My Little Pony. Man, is he messed up.

In any case, I’m not sure what I was thinking. I actually bought my roommate who thinks he’s a pirate a real axe, with real and present lodging-in-my-head potential. If this is my last post, please let it be known that I leave my life savings to the Time Cube guy, my stereo to the Flat Earth Society (I hear they throw wicked parties!), and my toenail collection to science. Let it be known, or I’ll keelhaul ya. Just as soon as I figure out how.

Comment Cards Rock

Hello all. I haven’t posted lately because I’ve been busy/ignoring you/trying to take over the world, or at least my roommate’s half of the room. So there.

But I have been doing some other literary work.

You guessed it – I’ve been filling out comment cards at the local kosher dining hall (it’s called 104 West!1) in order to make this a better and more amusing world, for me at least. I now present to you a few of my more beloved comments:

Can you please use Duncan Hines’ brownie mix for making your brownies? I may renounce Judaism if you do not.

Please stop putting nuts in your cookies! I have a severe fear of nuts and toddlers.

I’m lonely. Can 104 West! (formerly Kosher Dining Hall) provide me with a friend? Can I have a (preferrably magical) pony?

Can you please provide decaf tea OR give me control of an underappreciated third-world country? (Not one of the landlocked ones, please.)

Ok, that’s it. I’m out like the soap.

  1. Yes, the exclamation mark is part of the name, and presumably, one mentioning the name of this institution must properly inflect the words to show excitement or exclamation. It can cause confusion when depression and hunger coincide. For example:
    PERSON 1: Hey Bob! How’s it going?
    BOB: Hello, Person 1. It’s going poorly. My cat just got run over my the tow truck that was towing away my uninsured car that sponatneously crashed into a tree while I was in bed, having cried myself to sleep upon being dumped by my girlfriend.
    PERSON 1: Oh, bummer.
    BOB: Yeah. I’m going to kill myself now. First, maybe I’ll grab a bite to eat at 104 West!
    PERSON 1: That’s the spirit!^

Yet Another Chicken Post

Today, boys and girls, we’re going to learn about Jews and their wacky Oral Tradition. In a disussion of Hilchot Shabbat (the Laws of the Sabbath), the gemara (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 75a) brings up an interesting case.

Let’s say you own a chicken. You know, the tasty fowl with an IQ lower than its shoe size1,2. Well, your son wants to play with the chicken. Or more accurately, he wants to play with the chicken’s head. Why? I don’t know. Maybe Toys ‘R’ Us was out of Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls. Maybe he drank some of Daddy’s “special juice.” In any case, he’s crying for the chicken’s head, and as luck would have it, the chicken’s head is (get this!) attached to the chicken, and the chicken is quite fond of its head and unlikely to enjoy your son playing with it. (“Come here little chicken, I just want to- OUCH! My eye!”) So you intend to remove the head to better facilitate its use as a plaything, but it’s the Sabbath, and it’s forbidden on the Sabbath to kill an animal.

“Well, that’s ok,” you say to yourself, “I don’t want to kill it. I just want to neatly remove the bird’s head so I can shut up my kid. Though he’ll probably lose interest in a matter of hours, like he did with the dog3 and the nuclear reactor4 I got for his birthday. The ungrateful little brat.”

Enter the Rabbis.

They say, “hold on, big fella. First of all, stop talking to yourself. People are staring. And also, can’t you tell that this is the classic case of pesik raisha?”


Pesik raisha. Can’t you understand ancient Aramaic? Sheesh. The full phrase is ‘pesik raisha v’lo yamut,’ meaning ‘can you cut off the head and it won’t die,’ a rhetorical question. You see, were you to cut off the chicken’s head, it would become what is technically known as a Decapitated Chicken. As you may know, Decapitated Chickens5and in fact, decapitated fowl of all varieties, are wont to die, a condition which greatly impedes being alive. Thus, although your action wasn’t meant to kill the chicken, and you may even want the chicken to survive, it will definitely end up dead anyway, so killing it is forbidden. So go tell your brat to shut up because you can’t give him the chicken’s head until after the Sabbath. Though if you ask us, after the Sabbath you should take him to a therapist, because, frankly, this whole ‘playing with a chicken’s head’ thing is pretty darn messed up right here.”

“Oh boy! Thank you, Rabbis!” you exult. “Now can you please explain this whole ‘kosher’ thing to me? Why do we need to wait for hours between eating meat and milk? Why do we have to use separate dishes for milk and meat?”

“Beats us. You modern Jews are just plain crazy. Back in our day, we could eat Chicken Parmesan.”


“Golly indeed. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some threshing and winnowing to do.”

And like that (poof), they’re gone.6

  1. Yeah, I know. Chickens don’t wear shoes. Not yet, anyhow.
  2. Chickens are royally stupid. I’m not making this one up. Sometimes, when it rains, chickens will tip back their heads and try to drink, and in the process, they will drown themselves. Did you catch that? They are the only animal on God’s green earth that I know of that drown themselves while on solid ground. Even my cousin Melvin who will likely have “That boy just ain’t right” carved on his headstone, and who has eaten enough Play-Doh to support Slovakia for a year, generally keeps water out of his trachea.
  3. “Come here, little doggy, I just want to light you on fi- OUCH! My leg!”
  4. “Come here, little atom, I just want to pet- OUCH! I’m glowing!”
  5. Another great band name.
  6. Bonus points if you can correctly name the movie that that last line was referencing.

Waiting for Godot

Another page from the “Conversations with Roommate” file:

ME: Did you ever read “Waiting for Godot?”

ELIE: Yeah.

ME: What did you think of it?

ELIE: “Waiting for Godot”…hmmmm…makes me want to shoot myself.

ME: So you didn’t like it, then.

ELIE: (Completely seriously) No, it was great.

I’m speechless.