Thursday, January 31, 2008

Prince Asks Star to Fix DVD Player

LONDON -- Prince Philip shocked Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett with an odd request.

Cate met the Prince recently at an engagement and she introduced herself as working "in the film industry." The Prince took her for a repairman and asked her to fix his DVD player.

Later, Donald Trump introduced himself as the world's biggest condo salesman, and the Prince asked if he had any that were ribbed.

Prince Asks Star to Fix DVD Player

Christina: I'll Wear Crotchless Chaps at Sixty

NEW YORK -- Christina Aguilera says she'll still wear crotchless chaps when she's 60.

The singer donned the chaps for a music video, and says she has no regrets. "I definitely stirred the pot a bit but I had fun," she told Glamour magazine. "[I might still wear them] when I'm 60, if I can still fit into them."

Dirrty, Lady Marmalade: I'm not talking about her hits here -- I'm talking about what she'll leave on upholstery.

Christina: I'll Wear Crotchless Chaps at Sixty

Germans Fly Naked

FRANKFURT -- German nudists will be able to start their vacations early by stripping off on the plane if they take up a new offer from an eastern German travel firm.

Travel agency said it would start taking bookings for a nudist day trip from the eastern German town of Erfurt to the popular Baltic Sea resort of Usedom, planned for July 5 and costing 499 euros ($735).

The passengers have to remain clothed until they board, and get dressed before disembarking.

I took one of these flights once, and it was really kind of gross. When the flight attendant told everybody to put their trays in an upright position, none of the guys had to use their hands.

Passengers are free to move about the cabin as soon as the captain turns on the "Woo Baby!" light.

A flight attendant came by and asked if I preferred the chicken or the fish, and I thought he meant the in-flight meal.

Germans Fly Naked

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wrap Your Lips Around a Big Mo'

I just got a press release from the R. M. Palmer Company advertising their new Dale Earnhardt Jr. candy bar. I'm not a huge candy fan, but for some reason this one sounds pretty tempting. I haven't found any in my neighborhood, but I'm keeping an eye out.

After months of anticipation by NASCAR and candy fans alike, "Dale Jr.'s Big Mo'" chocolate bar is now available at retailers near you.

The Big Mo' was introduced specifically for NASCAR's mega-star driver by the R. M. Palmer Company. With a name taken from Earnhardt Jr.'s hometown of Mooresville, N.C., the Big Mo' was specifically tailored to please his palate, taste-tested personally by Earnhardt Jr. until he declared himself one-hundred percent satisfied.

What is a Big Mo'? It's delightfully different from what you'd find in an ordinary bar. A super-sized slab of pure sensual pleasure, it hides a thick shaft of milky goodness capped with more than a mouthful of nuts.

Go ahead: give in to your desire. Strip off its wrapper and gently caress the velvety curves with your tongue. Feel it warm inside your mouth. Squeeze in as much of its sweet, creamy goodness as you can handle, and make sure your lips are sealed tight as it shoots its sweet jets of gooey ecstacy deep down into your throat.

You'll find Big Mo's everywhere: at the drug store, at the movies, at Target next to the Choxie. Thanks to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and R. M. Palmer, NASCAR fans can wrap their lips around a Big Mo' any time, day or night.

Richard Palmer Jr., president of R. M. Palmer, says the company has been overwhelmed by the positive response. "We'd never have guessed how frequently NASCAR fans would want to pick up a Big Mo'," he proudly announced. "Heck, I've already had three today."

Next up for the company? A bar named for Brandi Chastain's hometown: Dikeman, Arizona.

Wrap Your Lips Around a Big Mo'

(Via Mr. Sardonic)

Symbolism, Allusion and Allegory in "There Will Be Blood"

The email has been pouring in recently, all with the same request. "Roman," my readers plead, "I just saw There Will Be Blood, and I didn't get any of the symbolism that all the critics are talking about. Could you please explain it to me?'"

As almost a Film Studies major at a major Amish University, I'll do my best to clear this up.

Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, a hard-working prospector who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. After all his co-workers die in tragic accidents, he decides to move into management. Clearly it's the director's intent to make him symbolic of Exxon, if not Capitalism as a whole.

One day a stranger appears, and he tells Plainview about oil on his family's land. Young, naive, and desperate for cash, Paul Sunday has travelled halfway across the country to tempt Plainview, so we can see him as representative of Real Estate Agents. Plainview follows Sunday's directions to the family plot. Sensing oil beneath their feet, he buys up all the land and begins to drill.

When one of his employees dies, Plainview adopts the man's son, either showing that Capitalism has a soft spot for Innocence or plenty of use for the Dumb. After the boy loses his hearing in an accident, it's clear he symbolizes Trust. It's a match made in heaven: Capitalism cannot work without Trust, and without Capitalism Trust would be just a frustrated old librarian with a mole on her lip.

A homespun preacher named Eli turns up at the oil field, offering to bless the wells. In a stroke of casting genius, he's played by the same man as the Real Estate Agent. Either this is due to budgetary constraints or it's Anderson's sly way of saying Real Estate Agents always have day jobs too. Plainview spurns his offer, sending the humiliated preacher away. Clearly Capitalism cannot aid Religion unless churches take credit cards.

Throughout the movie, Plainview shows absolutely no interest in adults of the opposite sex. In one pivotal scene, he tentatively touches a little girl. The director seems to be suggesting that Capitalism is a pedophile, though maybe it's just maladjusted and shy. The girl jumps back in horror. Purity wants nothing to do with Capitalism unless the Disney Studios are involved.

A later scene reaffirms this reading. Someone takes Plainview to a brothel to celebrate, but rather than partake in the upstairs offerings, he resolutely remains downstairs. Why? Now the director's message becomes crystal clear. Either Capitalism is only interested in seducing our children or else it's really, really gay.

After Plainview becomes fabulously wealthy, a character appears claiming to be his long-lost brother. Henry asks for nothing more than honest pay for an honest day's work, obviously portraying the Working Class. Plainview tricks him into admitting he's a fraud, perhaps subtlely showing Capitalism's dependence on old "Facts of Life" reruns. Capitalism then shoots the Working Class in the head and buries him in the wilderness. The parallels here will be obvious to anyone who's ever worked in fast food.

Fast-forward several years in the future. Capitalism is now a crazy old man who lives alone on a hill, spurned by society, cobwebs growing on his fabulous possessions. Evidently it's not enough to be filthy rich: you have to live in a hot neighborhood too. Eli the preacher turns up on the doorstep, similarly crazy. He's lost his faith and is deeply in debt, and turns to Capitalism out of desperation. Capitalism refuses to help, providing an object lesson for anyone who's ever wondered why so many churches now offer Bingo. "Where's your God now?" Capitalism asks. "Nowhere! Money rules the world!" Religion has no choice but to agree. And in a move familiar to anyone who's watched TV on Sunday, Religion gets clubbed to death by Sports.

You're welcome. Next week: the hidden subtext behind the Bratz dolls.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Drew Peterson is Back on the Dating Market

He's looking for a girl who likes country music, square dancing, and long drives in the trunk of a car.

Drew Peterson is Back on the Dating Market

Glowing pig gives birth to fluorescent piglets

BEIJING - A cloned pig whose genes were altered to make it glow fluorescent green has passed on the trait to its young, a development that scientists said could lead to glowing pig flashlights.

Glowing pig gives birth to fluorescent piglets

Answer: A Quantum of Solace

Question: What's holding up Donald Trump's hair?

A Quantum of Solace

To Tell the Truth

I couldn't believe my ears. I turned on the TV the other day and this man was being relentlessly grilled. "Do you pad your pants?" he was asked. "Do you wear a hairpiece?" "Do you look at other guys in the shower?"

Please, Hillary -- leave Obama alone!

To Tell the Truth

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Paws to Remember

The world is divided into two types of people: the washer/dryer owners and the doomed.

I’m a member of the latter group, suffering from my lower status in a thousand different ways. I’m not just doomed to drag my laundry bag nine blocks to the nearest laundromat, either slung over my shoulder like an itinerant Russian sailor or in a wheelie cart like somebody’s grandma, while my neighbors shoot me pitiful looks from the warmth of their fully-equipped homes. I’m not just stuck spending six hours a week in a fluorescent-lit room surrounded by eight television sets, all tuned to different channels and blaring at top volume, as clueless cleaning people jostle me with the pointy ends of their mops.

I’m doomed to stinking, because the fabric softener dispensers on public washing machines work about as often as Lindsay Lohan, and they seem to enjoy dousing my clothes with the scent of Apple-Cinnamon Whore. And I’m doomed to a lifetime of cheap clothing, because these machines are frequently used by impoverished housewives to dye their tired old frocks to bold new colors, so when I fetch my three-hundred-dollar jeans from the washer I’ll discover they’re the exact same shade as strawberry pie.

I know the second I push through the glass doors that I’m going to regret coming in. The excited screams of children echo like this is a bouncy castle rather than a cold, beige room lined with linoleum and acoustical tile. In poor neighborhoods like this, laundromats aren’t just for washing dirty clothing: they’re also the primary source of affordable child care. Load up those washers, give the kids a few bucks for the vending machines, and hit the road. The place is open twenty-four hours, so there’s no need to hurry back. Visit the relatives upstate, watch the seasons change in Pennsylvania, check out the snow pack in Vermont. Rest assured the clothes and the kids will be waiting when you return.

Even before I corral a laundry cart I have eighteen kids banging into me. Evidently they’ve organized some kind of foot race around the perimeter, but a few decide if they cut down the aisles they’ll have a better shot at first place. They zip around the corner at break-neck speed, moving too fast to change course when they spot me. They hit at full force and shriek even louder, causing as much damage to my ears as to my long, spindly legs.

I point them outwards, give them a shove, then load my clothes into washers. When they’re done, I move them to dryers. They spin lazily, drying just slightly faster than if they’d been hanging on a clothesline in a Peruvian rainforest. After eight episodes of Dora the Explorer I dump everything onto a countertop and start to fold.

I’m minutes away from making my escape when a disheveled pair wander down my aisle. The girl is about six or so, with grubby fingernails and Pocahontas hair. The boy, a few years younger, has a Beatles mop and tennis shoes with so many lights that Antarctica must heat up another degree every time he takes a step. I recognize these kids: twenty years from now, she’ll be piercing ears at the Jewelry Barn, and he’ll be wrestled to the ground in front of a Vegas liquor store during an episode of “Cops.”

They’re guiding a laundry cart down the aisle like it’s a bumper car and laughing at its happy, yappy passenger.

A puppy. A filthy, slobbering, caked-with-dirt puppy.

This is it, I decided. The last straw. Prior to this, I’d labored under the delusion that the laundromat’s benefits made up for the horrors I endured. Sure, it was as close to hell as you could get without paying a cover charge, but I only had to endure it for a few hours, while my clean clothes would last up to a week. After I made the bed I’d climb in with a tumbler full of Jack Daniels, and snuggling up to an April-fresh pillow I’d forget I’d even left the house.

Adios to that delusion. Because how clean are those pillowcases going to be after they’ve been sitting in a cart that’s been the playpen for somebody’s pooch? It was time to stop dodging the sociopathic rugrats that ran this joint and give them a piece of my mind.

Rather than just hollering random obscenities at them, though, I decide to give them a lesson they can use. I halt the cart dead in its tracks, and if this were a cartoon I’d morph into a whistling teakettle here. “Maybe you don’t know this,” I snarl, “having pea-sized brains, but we’re trying to keep it relatively sterile around here, and your pet is pretty much a cesspool of germs.”

They stare at me open-mouthed. Oh, right. Tell them a sponge lives inside a pineapple and they’re all “Oh, okay!” but use the words “sterile” and “cesspool” and all of a sudden it’s no comprende pas. I decide to break it down for their age group. “Do you know Oscar the Grouch, from Sesame Street? Oscar is very dirty, because where does he live?”

It looks like the kids are trying to think, but I don’t have all day. “That’s right; he lives in a trash can. Would you want Oscar touching your clothes?” I shake my head as a hint, and pause long enough for them to follow suit. “No, you wouldn’t. Well, your dog is dirtier than Oscar the Grouch.”

They gaze at me blankly, which is my invitation to press farther. I’ve always thought that kids don’t really learn until they burst into tears. “Think about it,” I say, obviously rhetorically. “When Oscar walks around Sesame Street, does he ever step in a pile of Kermit’s crap? No. Does he step in a pile of Big Bird’s crap? No. Because there isn’t any. Sesame Street is clean. Here in New York, though, the streets are covered in crap, so your dog steps in it all the time. So what does that mean? Repeat after me: there are little pieces of shit all over your dog.”

The girl frowns, then says in a barely audible voice: “Little pieces of shit.”

I wait for the second half, but it doesn’t come. No attention span. She’s obviously watched “Hannah Montana” one too many times.

“And after your dog goes to the bathroom, what does he do? He licks himself. He licks that furry little butt, and then he licks his paws, and his tummy, and his legs. He takes those little pieces of shit that were on his butt, and he spreads them all over his body. Got that? Little pieces of shit, all over his body.”

She’s a bit more prepared for the audience-participation part this time, but I’m not holding my breath. “Little pieces of shit,” she declares.

“Dogs touch shit, they lick shit, they play with shit. And then you go and take one to the laundromat, and you stick him in a laundry cart. And what’s he spreading all over the laundry cart?

“Little pieces of shit?”

“Exactly! Aren’t you a smart little girl!” Yeah, maybe I’m a liar, but maybe I’m grading on a really low curve. “So when my clothes touch the cart, I get little pieces of shit on my clothes, and then I get little pieces of shit on me. When my sheets touch the cart, I get little pieces of shit on my sheets, and then I get the little pieces of shit on me.” Pause for effect, though I’m thinking these kids probably don’t appreciate dramatic tension. “But I don’t want little pieces of shit on me,” I declare. “So GET THE GODDAMNED SHIT-COVERED DOG OUT OF THE GODDAMNED LAUNDRY CART.”

Her face contorts like the Nazi’s in “Indiana Jones” right before it bursts into flame. She grabs the puppy and hightails it down the aisle while her brother follows, his disco shoes lighting the way. I sigh contentedly and go back to folding. Even if you can’t find kids at that impressionable age, you can still make an impression on them.

I’m piling all my clean clothes in the laundry bag when the front door opens, and a husky blue-collar dude with a shaved head walks in. He’s covered almost equally in muscles and tattoos, wearing a white tanktop that shows off both. He spots my two students, yells “Hey, kids!” and I freeze solid where I stand.

They scurry over to him and hug his legs as I laugh nervously. Eventually he’ll find out about my little lesson. Eventually. At some point in time. But by then I’ll be safe at home.

The little girl gazes up at him pitifully. “Little pieces of shit,” she squawks.

Or maybe not, I think.

“Who called you that?” her father asks, and she points her grubby little finger straight at me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

BBC Anchor Rips Underwear

America has Britney, Lindsay and Paris, but leave it to the U. K. to have all the truly great scandals. The whole British isle is in a tizzy today after BBC news anchor Jeremy Paxman publicly declared that Marks & Spencer’s underwear doesn’t “provide adequate support.” In fact, in talking with male friends he’s discovered “widespread gusset anxiety.”

Here’s a gusset, for everyone who doesn't know:

Reading his complaint, we find ourselves totally lost. Is underwear supposed to be supportive? Our genitals do a pretty good job of staying up all by themselves. We thought underwear was meant to be confining, so the world would be spared the sight of your occasional, um, excitement. Plus, it’s there to keep your pants clean.

Also, we wonder why the Brit newsman went public with his problem. I mean, you'll never hear Katie Couric complain that all these newfangled Maidenforms just can't keep her hooters up. Is he really that concerned, or is it just his way of bragging to the world that he’s big downstairs? Because from the way it’s phrased, he just sounds excessively hangy.

Naturally a British tabloid jumped on the story, testing the knickers with bowling balls, sausages and assorted fruit. Their conclusion? Well, there isn’t one, really. They just have fun putting weird stuff into underwear. For instance, did you know you can fit a couple tangerines comfortably into a pair of Calvin Klein briefs?

Make that a rhetorical question. And pass me the brussel sprouts.

BBC Anchor Rips Underwear

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oversized Reptile Chases Desperate Young People

So, an oversized reptile chases desperate young people around the city, and it attracts a record audience?

Please. I have better things to do than watch Dr. Phil.

Oversized Reptile Chases Desperate Young People

Monday, January 21, 2008

My First Crush

Tall men and large-busted women have something in common. They attract sex-crazed men like navels attract lint.

When a straight man meets someone Pamela Andersonesque, he goes totally nuts. He gawks, he gapes, his eyes shoot out of his head like a cartoon wolf. He spouts some ridiculous line like “If I told you I liked your rack, would you hold it against me?” Pamela can’t scurry away fast enough.

The smarter straight guys know what the problem is. Nobody likes being treated like a piece of meat, even if their personality comes in second to a T-bone steak. Pretend to ignore those bodacious boobs, they realize, and you’ve got a good chance of getting in. Act like the woman has other sterling attributes and clothes will eventually be shed. “Hooray!” you shriek, wedging your head between the mammoth mammaries that were your one true goal. “That’s what it’s all about!”

Tall men attract suitors interested in all different kinds of sex. Out of every ten guys I sleep with, two will be what you call “versatile.” Two will bend over my kitchen counter and refuse to move until sunup. Two will concern themselves singlemindedly with my genital region, and two will confine their attentions to my ankles and below. The last two will cower in a corner of the bedroom while squealing, “I’ll bet you could squash me like a worm!”

The technical term for this latter fetish is macrophilia, which means the love of giant things. The macrophiliac likes to pretend he’s really small, and he’s turned on imagining that he’s the helpless victim of something big. I’m typecast in that latter part, obviously, since I bump my head on hot air balloons. I’m hardly a rampaging giant, though, being a naturally happy person. I don’t think a photo of me exists that doesn’t also include a costumed cartoon character, a field of flowers, or a kitchen decorated in a goose motif.

Doug was a fiftyish movie producer with a quick wit, a gregarious manner, and a garage full of vintage automobiles, making him prime husband material. Unfortunately, when one got intimate with him, he liked to pretend he was a dung beetle. I discovered this on our fourth date, after he’d wined and dined me at the finest restaurants in Manhattan. I’d gotten away with a quick kiss on the previous evenings, but now it was time to put up or shut up.

He ushered me into his split-level apartment, with glass-wall views of Park Avenue. We sat on the brown leather sofa and kissed for a while, then he stood and grabbed my hand. “Why don’t we go somewhere more comfortable?” he asked with twinkling eyes. I reluctantly agreed, trying to bolster myself for the upcoming appearance of pasty flesh, and while I assumed I’d be led to some tasteful, restful bed chamber, we went to a den that looked like the Land Designers Forgot. It was empty except for a mishmash of miniature buildings scattered randomly around the floor, ranging from cheap plastic Barbie crap to Thomas Kinkade style, with lots of twisty steps, climbing vines, and tiny illuminated streetlights outside. All they had in common was that they belonged in homes with either small children or tasteless grandmas, and they were all very, very small.

Before I could get a word out, Doug yanked my shirt off, and when I was entirely naked he dropped to the ground and writhed. All the blood drained from my head and burbled around my feet as I expected him to declare he’d fallen and he couldn’t get up. Instead he said, “I’ll bet you could stomp me like a grape!”

That’s when it hit me. These weren’t Christmas decorations. This wasn’t a model railroad. It was his sex room, his dungeon. A stage set for a giant’s rampage.

My first reaction was irritation. Sure, I was a foot taller than Doug, but he had me beat on weight. If he got a little momentum going, he could easily flatten me. My second was anger. He knew he couldn’t mention his little predilection right off the bat or I’d have run away screaming. Instead he waited until I had my clothes off, when hopefully I’d be too horny to put up a fight.

I glanced around the room, weighing the options. Twentieth-floor view. Plasma TV. Fireplace. What is sex but compromise? I thought as I planted my fists on my hips like the Jolly Green Giant. You’ve got something I like, I’ve got something you like. Who says it has to be confined to just vaginas and dicks? Why can’t it be intimidating personas, or wallets that are eight inches thick?

The grape line wasn’t the best he could have used, since ideally bedroom dialog doesn’t make one think of Lucy Ricardo. But who was I to argue? “Yeah,” I bellowed, “I bet I could.”

“I’m helpless! I’m at your mercy! You’re so big and frightening and I’m totally helpless. You could trample me beneath your heel like an ant.”

Now, this was pushing it. Frightening? Hell, I thank the folks at Barnes & Noble when they refuse to let me return stuff. And I’m totally nonviolent. I don’t trample anything, especially when it has a nicer apartment than I do. Still, I wasn’t going to be the Claire Danes in this drama. I lumbered toward him with arms out, stomping every step, when I felt something crunch beneath my foot.

I looked down and saw my foot planted in the middle of a tiny manger. “I accidentally smashed the baby Jesus,” I exclaimed.

“It doesn’t matter,” he snapped, suffused with irritation. “You’re unstoppable! You’re on a rampage! Don’t apologize!”

I resumed the angry glare while pounding my chest. “Grrr!” I growled, grinding a bare foot into his face. “Grr!” I was trying to come up with additional dialog when it became obvious I’d done more than enough. A minute later the butler was tucking me into a very large bed.

I consoled myself by sleeping like a baby between the thousand-dollar sheets and having the maid bring me a full-fat cappuccino the next morning. And when I got home and the messenger dropped off the Rolex Presidential, I decided love could be in bloom.

We were a couple for almost six months, to the point of meeting each other’s families. We settled into a routine that suited both of us. We’d dine at some fashionable restaurant, then the check would come and it’d be showtime. “Pay it,” I’d growl, “or I’ll flatten you like a pancake!” We’d race home and adjourn to the den for stomping. “No!” he’d scream. “I’ll be wedged like cheese between your toes!”

It was a fetish one could almost admire, with its unapologetic reliance on simile. In fact, I nearly started to enjoy it. I made that Pavlovian connection in my mind: yell at somebody, and get something cool. I yelled my way into an Armani suit, an iPhone, a trip to Paris. I yelled at Doug everywhere. Even ordinary domestic scenes were touched by his fetish. At the supermarket I’d stand by the cart and bark, “Get cauliflower, you slimy little toad!” “Honey Bunches of Oats, you filthy cockroach!” “Frosted Pop Tarts, you smelly little fart!”

When he left me for a taller, angrier guy, though, I discovered I couldn’t lose my new attitude as easily. Where people used to greet me with a cheery “Hello!,” now they were handing over their wallets just to save me the effort of having to ask. I invited a new man over for dinner, and he dawdled over the jambalaya. I shot him an angry glare. “I’m not a big fan of shrimp,” he said sheepishly, pushing the food around with his fork.

I set both fists on the table. “You’ll eat it and you’ll like it!” I barked.

He should have said he was allergic, I thought, as the ambulance drove him away. In bed alone that night, I realized I’d been crazy to think all that perversion wouldn’t eventually pervert me. It always does. All those kinky things you do in the bedroom eventually show up in the rest of the house.

I holed up in my apartment, horrified at what I’d become. I cancelled all my appointments, had food delivered, and just sat there in the dark. In the wee hours of the morning, when the bars were closed and the streets were deserted, I’d take Snowflake for his long-awaited walk. And eventually I realized I’d forgotten. I’d built myself back up from the bottom, resumed my ordinary, non-intimidating self, and was safe to face daylight again.

I grabbed Snowflake’s leash and opened for the door. Seeing daylight for the first time in months, he shot through the crack. Horns honked and he was gone.


The mailman, the UPS guy, and a passing cab driver had a race to get to my feet. “Yes, sir!” one of them whimpered. “But first, could you tell us about your shoes?”

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ink Marks End of George Michael’s Dicker

And he also signed a contract to write a book.

Ink Marks End of George Michael’s Dicker

Chris Matthews: We Only Like Hillary Because Bill Cheated

NEW YORK -- After Hillary Clinton's surprise victory in the New Hampshire primary, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," seemed eager to write her off. ''Let's not forget," he declared, "and I'll be brutal, the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner, is that her husband messed around.''

Which explains why Rudy Giuliani is currently trailing both his ex-wives and Reese Witherspoon.

Chris Matthews: We Only Like Hillary Because Bill Cheated

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chronic Inflection

Raoul is driving me nuts. In probably a thousand different ways. One in particular, though, is bound to be the first to shove me over the edge.

During one of our first few dates, he casually mentioned that he hated making phone calls, because those voice-activated answering things never seemed to work. It had to be his British accent, I told him. It's so thick I have to watch his head to see if he's saying yes or no. His lips barely move when he's screaming, so I thought a machine wouldn't stand a chance.

A few weeks later he used the phone at my place, and I realized the accent wasn't the problem. He called his bank to get his balance, and dictated his account number. "One four zed eight naught two," he said. Then he shook his head disgustedly. "What the fuck is wrong with these things?" he asked the air, and then into the phone he repeated, "ONE FOUR ZED EIGHT NAUGHT TWO."

Zed? I thought. Naught? Why not just say "Farf flam bingo bango"? Because to Americans those are as close to being meaningful as zed and naught. Yes, there's a country where those words make sense, but it's across a very wide ocean. Here they make people -- and answering systems -- go "Huh?"

After he hung up I explained the problem to him, and thought he understood. Just a few days later, though, I caught him in another argument with a telephone. "Quite," he was painfully enunciating. "SMASHING. Certainly! RIGHT-O! TA! You bloody stupid answering machine!" he snapped before slamming down the phone. "You can't blame it on me this time! I didn't say 'zed' or 'naught.'"

I stared at him like a dog would if you asked it to mix you a martini. "'Smashing'?" I repeated. "'Ta'? That's not how you talk to an answering system: that's how you audition for My Fair Lady. Did you actually think you could say 'ROIT-O!' instead of "Yes' and the machine would know what you meant? You're talking to a computer program, not a newspaper-hawking urchin in a jaunty tweed cap."

"The voice was so friendly I forgot it was a machine. Besides, it's not like I said anything too obscure. Everything I said meant either yes or no."

"Somewhere in the universe, but not here," I said. "You think sailors should be able to call in and say 'Aye aye!'? You pretty much have to stick to something an American landlubber would say."

I went to bed that night questioning his intelligence, and swearing to keep him away from the phone. The next night we wanted to go to a movie, though, so somebody had to give Fandango a call. I snapped up the phone before he could get it. "It starts in half an hour," I said to an angry glare. "We don't have time for you to tell the machine that the first screening after tea time would be a spot of all right."

"I'm not stupid," he declared frostily. "I can do it." I handed over the phone, still doubtful, and he dialed. "Yes," he said into the receiver, a smug look on his face. "No. New York City. 'There Will Be Blood.' Oh, something around sixish would be fine."

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" I yelled, grabbing the receiver out of his hand. I yelled into it at the top of my lungs: "NOT BLOODY LIKELY! ABSO-BLOOMIN'-LUTELY! ARE YOU DAFT? BOB'S YOUR UNCLE! PIP-PIP!" I slammed down the phone. "Bloody hell! It didn't understand a single word I said!"

"Right," he snarled, his eyes burning red. "Like you'd do any better in England. 'What show time would you like?' 'Twee toidy.' 'Would you like to speak to a representative?' 'Naw, dude -- fuhgedaboudit!'" See how far that gets you!"

I reeled back like he'd slapped me. "I do not have a New York accent."

"No, you don't. I jes' made dat up while I was sittin' on da terlet."

Needless to say, we didn't get to the movies.

A couple months later, though, we actually went to England, and it was exactly like he predicted. I was as lost with their phones as he was with ours. My lips got sore from enunciating and all the machines still hung up on me. I couldn't buy theater tickets. I couldn't make restaurant reservations. I couldn't check the train schedule. All the blood ran out of my head and started to gurgle around my feet. Raoul stood there smugly, arms crossed, as the room started to spin around my head. Would I actually have to apologize? Months of aggravation and yelling, and it turned out I was wrong?

I stumbled for the couch as he dialed another number. "It's the National Health Service," he announced, handing the receiver to me. "Press 2, since your knickers are in a twist."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

That's a lot of balls

Artist dumps balls down steps

Ferret Story Plagiarized for Steamy Romance

A wildlife journalist published a story about ferrets: their history, their habitats, their mating habits. Then one day he got an anonymous email telling him his work had been plagiarized.

Parts of it were cut and pasted, word for word, into a romance novel.

"Shadow Bear" is your standard gothic bodice-ripper set among the American Indians and the settlers in the 1850s. Shirtless tribal chiefs and feckless pioneer chicks share smoldering glances, heave bosoms, and then pause to talk about the prairie dog-sized critters. "'They are so named because of their dark legs,' Shadow Bear says, to which Shiona responds: 'They are so small, surely weighing only about two pounds and measuring two feet from tip to tail.'"

Aside from being weird and being theft, was this the world's smartest idea? I mean, ferrets are hairy little things. They're sex-crazed creatures that love hot, rough encounters in the forest.

If anything was destined for gay porn, this is it.

Ferret Story Plagiarized for Steamy Romance

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mary J. Blige Accused of Using Steroids

The Yankees offer Geffen Records fifty million to trade her for Bobby Abreu.

Mary J. Blige Accused of Using Steroids

Future Man

I'm pretty pessimistic about the future. What with global warming, it'll be ridiculously hot. We'll all have to wear some kind of loincloth, or even diaper. The ground will be superheated because the ozone layer is gone, and since all the glaciers have melted we'll have to wear big, heavy boots. Civilization will have collapsed so we'll need guns, and we'll have to carry around plenty of ammunition. We'll be so busy fighting, in fact, that basic grooming habits like cutting our hair and shaving will be a thing of the past.

In the spirit of Al Gore, I wrote a computer simulation that took all these predictions and generated an image of what the average man will look like in just fifty short years, provided we don't make drastic changes:


Well, that's it for today. I don't know about you, but I'm going to head to the nearest dealership and buy myself a larger car.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Click Here to Unsubscribe

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Our Bottomless Pit of Fire is temporarily down for repairs.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Disco? Duck.

At some point in the course of every short/tall relationship, the short person will drag the tall person into an establishment where scantily-clad people gyrate lewdly.

The tall man is more than qualified for an orgy. Unfortunately, this is a dance club.

The short person, laboring under some odd delusion, thinks he's doing a good deed, like buying Girl Scout cookies or giving a blind skier a push. He's trying to get the tall guy to break out of his shell. He doesn't realize that this shell has been carefully constructed over the decades to guard against emotional upsets caused by pastimes like this. Maybe to short folks dancing is harmless entertainment, but to tall people it's the start of a story that ends "and then everybody gouged out their eyes."

See, much of the tall adolescent's life is spent making lists. There's the list of things we can do and what we can't. Play basketball, can. Reach stuff on high shelves, can. Blend in with a crowd, can't. Hide in a box, can't. There's the list of places to avoid: pedestrian tunnels, elementary schools, Japan. There's the list of things we look like: string beans, toothpicks, street lights. We commit these to memory, and they help us avoid unpleasantness.

The short person, though, is oblivious to this mountain of accumulated data. He appears out of nowhere and demands that we dance, thinking we've somehow underestimated our talents. He wasn't there the last time I tried: feet were stomped, noses were poked, legs were tangled together. It's just lucky I was alone at the time. Asking a tall person to dance is like asking Matthew McConaughey to smoke a joint with you, or asking Ron Jeremy to kiss your sister. You might assume the rules of polite society will be strained a little, but more likely police will be called.

Short people who want attention have to go to ridiculous lengths. They have to wear loud clothes, or buy Hummers, or throw things at hotel desk clerks. Tall people just need to stand up, and every eye in a hundred miles will swivel our way. A major objective of ours, then, is to get people NOT to stare. We'll buy black clothes, beg our barbers not to do anything fancy, and hunch over like the St. Louis Arch just to get people to look elsewhere for a change.

If a short person truly wants to be helpful, he'll help the tall guy in this pursuit. He'll find a log to hide under, or a hole to sit in, or suggest spending the afternoon in a crouch. The tall man will appreciate these efforts, especially if the short man has packed snacks.

In a perfect world, the tall man wouldn't stand at all. He knows he has to, though, because if his ass gets any flatter he won't be able to keep underwear on. Walking is even more problematic, because now he's got to move his overstretched form in some kind of rhythm. Dancing, though, is the ultimate challenge. Moving those ridiculously-long appendages in some semblance of rhythm? It's like a normal-sized person trying to ice skate with a shishkebab in each hand.

Now that you've pushed him into it, the tall man stumbles onto the dance floor and goes for it. He nods his head, slides a foot, swivels his shoulders . . . all very slowly, one at a time. Thrusts out his hips, taps a foot, bends a knee. One after the other. He'd be following the beat if, say, a Gregorian choir were singing, but this is "It's Raining Men" and now even passing dogs are starting to stare.

The tall man is humiliated, and you, his date, get what you deserve. You wanted to show him off, didn't you? Well, people are looking. You're probably having flashbacks of happier times in your relationship, back when neither of you were sweating like Dr. Phil after a 5K run and praying for the earth to open up. But no -- you had to push things. You had to buy another beer for Billy Joel.

The inability to dance stems directly from the ridiculous height. See, the central nervous system is something like a highway. Signals from the brain travel down it to different parts of your body, telling your hands and feet and arms and legs what to do.

With short people, the brain waves don't have far to go. The brain is maybe two feet from the fingers, and three feet from the toes. For electrical impulses, this is the equivalent of walking from the kitchen to the living room. They reach the extremities in a millionth of a second, enabling the average-sized dancer to move fluidly to music, resulting in a pleasant spectacle and an enjoyable pastime.

With tall people, the situation is slightly different. Now the trip is so long the brain waves need to prepare for the ride. They have to pack clothes, stop newspaper delivery, take the dog to a kennel and get the car tuned up. It takes hours of preparation just to get on the road, and even then they'll want to stop on the way to go to the bathroom, or pick up another Snapple.

The tall person, then, will hear a beat and try to move to it. He'll head home, drink a glass of milk, take off his clothes and go to bed, and right around the time Kelly Ripa chirps her good mornings, his foot will finally kick.

If you're still determined to dance with a tall guy, do yourself a favor: make it a slow number. He'll end up a hunchback and you'll spend five minutes staring at nipple, but compared to the alternative that's like winning the lottery. At the very worst, a tree-trimming crane will appear, and a guy in an orange vest will try to replace the lightbulb in his head.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Corpse Wheeled to Check-Cashing Store

NEW YORK -- Two men were arrested on Tuesday after pushing a corpse, seated in an office chair, along the sidewalk to a check-cashing store to cash the dead man’s Social Security check, the police said.

When Virgilio Cintron, 66, died at his apartment at 436 West 52nd Street recently, his roommate and a friend decided to play "Weekend at Bernie's." The roommate, James P. O’Hare, and his friend, David J. Dalaia, both 65 and unemployed, wheeled the limp, semi-clothed body down Ninth Avenue to the Pay-O-Matic where they tried to cash the $355 check.

The scheme unraveled when the clerk asked for two forms of ID, and Mr. O'Hare said, "Can his death certificate count for one?"

Corpse Wheeled to Check-Cashing Store, via The Daily Blague

Letterman Loses His Beard

David Letterman lost his beard on TV Monday night.

And on a totally unrelated note, Tom Cruise's ex is pregnant.

Nicole Kidman is expecting.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Meet the Focker

I guess I'm behind the curve here, but I didn't realize Mike Huckabee was a serious candidate for president. I mean, the dude took his name from a Dustin Hoffman movie. How was I supposed to know he wasn't kidding? Now that I've seen him spouting idiocy on both Letterman and Leno, it's clear he chose the wrong movie. He's clearly a Focker at heart.

[P]eople get totally wrapped up in left [and] right. . . .
[P]eople are ready for leadership to come vertically.
[People] want to talk about . . . ideas that lift America up.
It's not so much where you are horizontally, but are you going to take this country up or down.

-- Mike Huckabee

Uh, whaaa? That's not a political position: that's the Frug. And this isn't a debate: it's Dancing With the Stars. Familiar dance, too: those are the moves Bush used to convince us he'd be a populist leader and not some wacko who'd attack Iraq to spread God and steal us some oil.

Clearly, left and right matter. Left means we should leave other countries alone and spend our money to help ourselves. Right means we should send more troops -- and, in fact, attack Pakistan and Iran, because there are oil-rich heathens there too. Left means you think every American deserves equal rights. Right means you want to stuff God into government, with the end result being a Congress that's like Santa, deciding who's naughty and who's nice.

Putting gays somewhere between unemployed and quarantined.

It's a perfectly clear, consistent Republican strategy. The candidates with the truly extremist views don't want to frighten anybody, so they declare themselves uniters, not dividers. Which is true, to some extent. After they win the election, they say, okay, everybody slide down to the far right.

No more vertical. Back to horizontal.

Up, down, sideways, around. Huckabee's not a man: he's a Weeble. And he needs to wobble right back to Crazyville where he belongs.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Don't Fuck With Me, Fellas, Or I'll Call it a Rodeo

Cowboys are a peevish lot. I used the word "rodeo" at Madison Square Garden yesterday and you'd think I'd mentioned Kathy Ireland separates to Anna Wintour. Eyebrows rose. Lips tightened. I expected the word "Girlfriend" to be wielded like a baseball bat. This was professional bull riding, a sun-dried dude in a battered Stetson told me. Not a rodeo.

The difference? Rodeos are entertaining.

I threw on all the plaid in my closet before heading to the Versus Invitational Professional Bull Riding Championship. It started with a bang: loud music, fireworks, dancing green strobe lights. Exciting to you, maybe, but "Iron Chef" starts the same way and they eat their animals afterward. A mammoth American flag unfurled from the ceiling, along with a truckload of glitter, because even though it stands for freedom it still needs sparkle. It's like making Nelson Mandela hold a disco ball.

The announcer recited a prayer asking for God to protect the riders. Didn't make a lot of sense to me. It was like the guys on "Jackass" praying to God to protect them as they jumped into a refrigerator box with a hairdryer and a raccoon.

I went for the same reason I do anything: because I wanted to bring a cowboy home. Leave it to me to get seated next to the one other gay guy in the entire 50,000-seat arena, over-tweezed in designer clothes. "Game over!" he announced whenever a rider went airborne. "Thank you for playing!" Yeah, that's what bull riding needs: snappy comebacks. I refused to even look at him. Carrie Underwood's never going to sing about a dude who wears Prada scuffs.

I've always been suspicious of "sports" like wrestling and auto racing and bull riding. I assumed half the crowd showed up just to see blood. Here I realized I was mistaken: the entire crowd showed up to see blood. I had my fingers crossed too: I mean, the human brain can take just so much boredom before it starts hoping for the worst. Twenty minutes into a Nickelback concert, I'm pretty sure everybody's praying for the stage to collapse.

No bulls were injured, no riders were hurt. Boring, boring, boring. I expected uncontrollable mayhem and animal passion, and you see more at Bed Bath and Beyond. These bulls had obviously been irritated before, and they weren't falling for it. They'd trot maybe three feet out of the gate, then buck and spin in place. The rider would either fall off or climb off, and the bull would trot back to the gate like Puffin to his cat door, then patiently wait to be let back in. I've had scarier creatures lick me awake.

Anybody sensitive to red state hypocrisy would have exploded here. They hired a clown to entertain the crowd during the dull bits . . . and the announcer made fun of him for looking gay. Yeah, that makes sense. The cowboys are wearing motorcycle helmets and fringed, powder-blue chaps, but they're attacking the guy with makeup on. It's like hiring Liberace to play at your wedding then calling him a queer when the candlebra comes out.

"Where'd you learn to do that?" the announcer asked after the clown did a silly little dance.

"Watching cheerleaders," the clown replied.

The announcer snorted derisively. "I've watched a lot of cheerleaders and I can't do nothing like that."

Though the crowd was the rabidly patriotic type, they seemed clueless about one thing. As cowboy after cowboy was introduced with another unpronounceable name, they didn't seem to notice that bull-riding had been outsourced like every other American job. The winner gave his acceptance speech in Spanish, and everybody cheered. If the guy had run through their backyard, they'd be going for their guns right now.

For the finale, some cowboys drove around the ring tossing out Dickies "Dura-Bull" t-shirts. They looked mighty butch, but still couldn't fling them past the third row. I learned why they buy those big ole' trucks: when they hit a pole, they don't spill their beer.

The lights came up and I was desperate. Designer-Clothes Dude must have had something going for him to afford fifty-dollar tickets and eight-dollar beer. I smiled, and screwed up my courage. "That was sooo cool," I said.

He looked at my plaid shirt, plaid pants, plaid jacket. "Game over!" he announced.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

"Hannah Montana" and Big Lie Country

Essay contests should be illegal. They pretend to reward good writers, but in reality they don't care anything about the words you use. It's the subject matter that counts.

Unless you're really pitiful, you don't stand a chance.

A six-year-old girl proved this when she entered a contest to win Miley Cyrus concert tickets. Being an ordinary kid, she knew just scrawling down details about her life wouldn't do. The winning essay wouldn't be about how hard it was to style Barbie's plastic hair. No story about the difficulties of making a presentable cake in an Easy-Bake Oven.

She knew the winner would pull out the big guns, so she pulled out the big guns too. She started her essay with the line,"My daddy died in Iraq."

There was just a minor detail: he didn't. But the judges didn't check, and they declared her the winner. Later, though, some busybody investigated, and the next thing you know they took the tickets back.

Sure, she lied. But she claims nobody said the entries had to be true. Plus, I say the contest organizers lied as well. They didn't want an essay: they wanted sad facts. No matter how you phrase it, you're not going to win if the worst thing that happened to you was your Pomeranian puppy puked on the carpet. You know the winning entry isn't going to start like this:

To Whom It May Concern:

My Belching Belinda doll lost an eye this year.

Like big words and picturesque similes will help you beat that girl who rowed twenty-eight hours to get here from Taiwan.

Oddly, nobody's saying a word about the part of the prize the girl received: a makeover. Yes, a six-year-old girl got a makeover. That'll teach you values, when somebody grabs you out of first grade and says, girlfriend, we need to fix this shit up.

Personally, then, I'm all for lying in essay contests, because the whole thing stinks. Subjective judging actually means, "Match the values and win a prize!" We gays know we don't stand a chance. The winning entries are always a variation on, "We went on to get married, and sixty years later we've got eighty-three great-grandkids and I'm still the happiest man on earth!" We know we wouldn't get an Honorable Mention with "I went home with that dude, and forty years later we've got eight cats and a florist shop."

In the end the tickets were awarded to the second most pitiful entry. Still, there's a bright side to everything. The story made the headlines, and America's kids learned an important lesson. Now they know they'll have to prepare far in advance if they want to see their idols in person. They're going to run to dad with innocent looks on their faces. "Daddy," they'll squeal as they climb onto his lap, "is it true that only lily-livered cowards aren't enlisting and helping fight the terrorists in Iraq?"

Or they'll tug on dad's pant leg while they're wandering the mall. "Married life makes dudes look like pussies," they'll offer. "Don't you need a Harley if people are supposed to think you're a man?"

Or just relaxing at home, maybe they'll sense an opportunity. "I drank a whole glass of milk, all by myself. I'll bet you can't finish a quart of Smirnoff all at once."

And so the next time somebody offers Hannah Montana tickets, there will be even sadder stories. And, if the girls who write them are really, really lucky, they're all going to be true.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Atheists and Foxholes

There's a saying that I absolutely detest: "There are no atheists in foxholes."

It's totally offensive, and obviously so. It says that people of a certain religious belief will completely reverse themselves under pressure. Rather than being true, though, it's the way Christians reassure themselves that they're not wasting their time. "Everybody else is going to see the light," they claim, "when the chips are down."

Me, I've been through some tough times, and while they've caused me to cry, throw things, and wear disguises to buy stuff at Rite Aid, they've never prompted me to reexamine the existence of God. In fact, I can confidently say that this is never going to change. I'm also not suddenly going to decide that Tom Cruise is the best actor of our generation, and that Slim Jims are the greatest food known to man.

Still, this adage keeps rearing its stupid head, and I keep getting pissed off. It's not like I can disprove it. I'd actually have to enlist, fly to Iraq, throw myself into the middle of a battle and wait for shooting to start. Then I'd have to find a phone, call these folks and scream, "Hey, look, ya freakin' idiots! I still don't believe in God!"

Which is a little too much effort for me. Instead, I'll fight fire with fire.

There are no Christians at orgies. Trust me. After seeing a hot blonde taking on anybody who'll have her, even the staunchest believer heads for the end of the line. "Well, some scholars say the Bible is a kind of metaphor," they declare before they unzip their pants.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Lousy Trick

I ran into an old boyfriend at the grocery store. I cluelessly got behind Gary in the checkout line, and by the time I recognized him it was too late to scurry away. It wasn't easy pretending I was happy to see him again: we slept together exactly once, and we spent most of that time trying to decide who would do what to whom.

Luckily he had something else to talk about. "I'm opening a bar," he announced. "How'd you like to be a bartender?" No questions, no resum├ęs, no interviews. Which got me wondering: was he looking for employees with no experience, or just Abraham Lincoln lookalikes?

One question he should have asked was how old I was, because the answer was "Not old enough." I was six foot six with a thick black beard, so I guess it didn't occur to him. In fact, I'd never even been in a bar before, and everything I knew about them I learned from "Cheers." I pictured a place overrun with alcoholic, sex-addict jocks.

"I'd love to," I said, pulling him into a hug.

At the grand opening I decided I'd died and gone to heaven. Being a math major at UCLA I wasn't exactly surrounded by attractive gay guys. I figured even if I got extraordinarily lucky -- that is, if I eventually encountered another male homosexual -- he'd still have a slide rule and a clip-on tie. At the bar, all I had to do was pour alcohol into glasses and an endless line of hot men waited to talk to me. They'd buy us both drinks, and we'd chat and flirt until another hot man called me away.

If there was any problem, it was Gary's boyfriend Bob. From the moment he set eyes on me it was obvious he wanted to get into my pants. He spent the whole evening clamped onto the bar, staring at me, and when I got within reach he grabbed with both hands. "You're so hot," he drunkenly growled. "I'd love to rip those clothes off you and fuck you until the cows come home."

As Gary fumed quietly in the corner, a couple of questions formed in my mind. First, what's with all those cows staying out so late? And second, when Gary finally exploded, would he go after Bob or me?

Subsequent nights proved more relaxing, because the bar was an immediate bomb. The decor could have been the problem: a gay bar with wood paneling, brass details, and hanging ferns is like a Christian Science Reading Room with black lights and a leather swing. Still, it was fine with me. I did my homework, watched TV, or just sat and drank. That's what I'd have done if I hadn't been working, so minimum wage was icing on the cake.

Stuart was an old friend of Gary's, and he quickly became a regular, turning up to keep me company. I wasn't exactly attracted to him, preferring Burt Reynolds to Joel Grey, but an offhand comment from Gary convinced me to reconsider. "Stuart had the perfect boyfriend," Gary announced. "He made a fortune creating one of the most popular shows on TV. Then he died and left all his money to Stuart."

Suddenly I realized how much I liked Stuart, and the more we talked, the more we forged a common bond. Unfortunately, every time he opened his mouth, words like "church" came out. To teenagers, there are several thousand more interesting words, including "Jaegermeister," "hopscotch" and "dirndl." "I've got to leave early tonight," he declared. "Church tomorrow!" "That guy looks familiar," he said. "I'm pretty sure he goes to my church."

It wasn't enough to discourage me. In fact, if there was a Higher Power, he was clearly on our side, because Stuart confused my refusal to sleep with him with some kind of morality. Apparently he didn't know bartenders and morality go together like hot tubs and hairdryers.

Our chaste relationship was almost a month old when I noticed a change in Stuart. He went from confident and self-assured to timid, nervous, apprehensive. He started talking about "we" and "us," planning events in the years to come, and all of a sudden it hit me: he was going to propose. I spent hours blissfully daydreaming -- not about love or romance, but writing up menus for the cook, checking the maid's dusting with a white glove, ordering the chauffeur around. How wonderful my new life would be.

Unfortunately, the business was sinking fast, and Gary had to resort to desperate measures. "We're going to have a contest," he announced one night while I read the Journal of Applied Mathematics in an empty bar. "We're going to put up pictures of all the employees' dicks, and whoever recognizes the most wins a hundred-dollar tab."

Now, this didn't sound like such a bad idea. I'd made two hundred bucks in tips on opening night, and hadn't made twenty dollars since. In fact, being the naturally gregarious sort, I stood a good chance of winning that prize. But with a rich boyfriend seconds away from asking for my hand, exposing myself to a roomful of drunks wasn't the first thing on my mind. "Count me out," I told Gary. "I prefer to entertain men two or three at a time."

Bob threw himself between us like he was shielding us from a grenade. "I can take the photo!" he offered. "Heck, I could even be the fluffer, too!"

If angry glares were blowtorches, that bar would be burning like Tara now. I repeated my denial while reassuring Gary that Bob would never get close to my genitalia, then they left to fight it out. The stunt proved spectacular: almost from the minute Gary tacked up the photos, there were thirsty crowds debating who was who.

Me, I stayed behind the bar, amassing jars full of singles and daydreaming about my future hubby. Slowly, though, I noticed another odd phenomenon. Half the eyes in the bar were pointed at me, chattering mouths hidden behind hands. Whispering. Laughing. Nodding towards the photo wall. One by one they wandered over. "A little bird tells me you're the one on the right," Guy #1 said with the expression that usually accompanies food poisoning. "I'd never have believed it," Guy #2 offered. "I mean, you've got enormous hands." "A big penis isn't everything," claimed Guy #3. "At least, that's what people tell me."

I stomped over to the board, my heart pounding in my chest. At the end of a long line of knackworst there was one tiny Vienna sausage, nearly lost in a tangle of hair. The reels in my brain clicked and whirred, and when they halted it was perfectly clear.

Gary didn't just get mad: he got even.

"NOW HEAR THIS!" I bellowed, as all eyes spun my way. "I am NOT the dude on the right. My penis is not shriveled, small and splotchy. In fact, should any of you get lucky enough to see my equipment, you'll discover that I am enormous downstairs. I could choke a buffalo. I need a rope and a burro just to drag it out of my pants."

Jaws dropped and eyes grew wide. "GOT THAT?" I barked, and a hundred heads nodded in twitchy agreement. "Now, I don't want to hear another word."

Not two minutes later Stuart wandered in and worked his way through the crowd to the bar. He placed a tiny velvet box in front of me and it seemed like time stood still. "Roman," he declared as the bar went quiet, "since we met here, it's only fitting that I do this here as well. I love you, and I want us to be together for the rest of our lives. I'd like to take you to Massachusetts this weekend, where we'll have a civil ceremony to affirm our love for one another. If you agree to be my husband, you'll make me the happiest man on earth."

Guy #1 wiped away a faceful of happy tears. "He sure will," he sobbed apologetically. "Roman's enormous downstairs."

Guy #2 enveloped the prospective groom in a bearhug. "He could choke a buffalo," he agreed.

A sappy grin spanned #3's face. "He needs a rope and a burro just to drag it out of his pants," he said.

As Stuart stormed out of the bar clutching my ring, I watched my future disappear too. No maid to direct. No chef to insult. No chauffeur to push around. Bob vaulted over the bar, grabbed ahold of my belt, and started to unbuckle. "Now that your boyfriend is out of the picture, why don't you show us what you got?"

I grabbed Bob just slightly lower and squeezed like I was making orange juice. If you're near Studio City and you listen closely, you can still probably hear his scream.

I walked out with my head held high, and I never saw any of those people again. I couldn't complain, even though I was once again single and unemployed. Even if I didn't believe in a Higher Power, it seemed like somebody had tried to give me what I wanted.

They just had me abusing the wrong kind of staff.