Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Joker

Place: Taco John's
Lunch: Three hard shells, small Super Ole (no tomato, no guac), Pepsi

It's April Fools Day.  Apparently, the April Fools joke at this particular Taco John's is to do everything reeeeeealy slooooowly.

I've been seeing the usual April Foolery in the form of fake news stories and social media shenanigans.  Then there was the big CBS show swap, where Craig Ferguson and Drew Carey swapped shows.  But I don't count that because it was heavily promoted and acknowledged.  If Carey had just shown up on the Late Late Show and Ferguson had just shown up on TPIR with no explanation...maybe even using each other's names...it would have counted.  Having said that, Carey did a phenomenal show last night.  As far as I'm concerned, Carey just became the beginning and end of the list of people who should eventually replace Letterman.  Carey and Ferguson would be a knock-out late night punch.

My April Fools joke?  I left my office calendar on March.  In related news, I'm not much of a practical joker.  In fact, I can't even think of any good practical jokes I've ever planned.  Except for that one time where the payoff came completely by accident.

We lived on a remote island of 13,000 in my teenage years.  There was no road access to the place, so reliance on boats and aircraft was big.  My family fell somewhere between 'poor' and 'middle income' and generally we either didn't have a washer and dryer, or we had a broken washer and dryer.  When I got my drivers license, I ended up alternating laundry duty with my mother.  Every two weeks, one of us would haul about a half dozen ginormous garbage bags of laundry down to the laundromat and take up an entire row of machines.

The laundromat was in a strip mall next to the biggest harbor in town.  Big boats, small boats, yachts, fishing boats, house boats, hundreds of every sort of privately owned boat you could imagine were docked here.  As a result, this laundromat got a lot of 'boat people' business, be it from people who lived on their boats to transient traffic passing through.  Like all laundromats, this one had a community bulletin board on the wall where people posted "for sale" or "wanted to buy" items.  This board was always packed with 3x5 cards.  As you would expect, the majority of items were boat related.

So I'm sitting there with the washing machines running, bored out of my mind, reading the bulletin board, thinking about how weird all this stuff would look like on the bulletin board of any other laundromat in the civilized world.  And I decided to write up a card myself as a joke.  Something that people would question, but just be plausible enough to let it pass.

WANTED TO BUY: Shower head for 50hp Mercury outboard motor.  Must be rust free.

I put the phone number of a public radio station 150 miles away as the contact with no name.  I figured nobody'd actually call because they'd have to pay long distance, and even if they did, their receptionist at best would just put a note on THEIR bulletin board in an effort to get the message to whoever of their fifty volunteers might have posted such a thing.

People would just look at it, maybe question it, then let it go.

And that was the end of that.

Or so I thought.



"Yes, Mother?"

"Did you put something on the bulletin board at the laundromat?"

She was standing in the dining room of our palatial double-wide, mixing bowl with spoon in hand, making dinner.

After a pause, I asked "Why?"

And then she told this story...

"Well, your brother and I were doing the laundry, and he was reading the bulletin board, and he said  "Mom, doesn't that look like Sam's handwriting?"

"Yes it does."

"Mom, why would somebody want a shower head for an outboard motor?"

"Well, fisherman want some pretty strange things sometimes."

I FELL ON THE FLOOR laughing.  Probably into a fetal position.  Tears streaming down my face.  Hysterical laughter.

I could not have envisioned this payoff in a MILLION years.

At some point, I looked up at her.  She was standing over me with this completely dumbfounded look on her face.  She had NO idea why this was funny, and I was making NO effort to explain it.  Eventually, she just shrugged her shoulders and went back to the kitchen.

It's probably ironic that the best joke I've ever pulled off was something only I laughed at or even understood, and that it happened completely by accident.

But even today, it still makes me laugh.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Place: Captain D's
Lunch: Deluxe Seafood Platter (w/fries and mac & cheese), Pibb XTRA

This particular Captain D's has a unique atmosphere Sunday mornings.  The place fills with well-dressed church-going folk, Southern-style gospel music plays on the sound system, and everyone from the staff to the customers are very pleasant.  It's a nice warm feeling.  Unlike the very weird feeling I experienced overnight.

I haven't been sleeping well lately, and was dozing in and out at best when it felt like somebody shook me to wake me up.  And I definitely should not have been feeling that since I was the only person who should have been in my hotel room.

I jumped and looked around.  Nobody.  Checked the door.  Locked.  Checked the windows, all of which I had open, but the screens were in place and I'm on the fourth floor anyway.


Ultimately, I decided the only logical cause was that God had found something really cool on TV and decided I needed to see it, so he did it.  So I turned on the TV.

Whatever it was, I couldn't find it.  Most channels were showing infomercials.  I settled on a "Diners, Drive-In's & Dives" marathon.

About an hour later, when Guy Fieri was declaring whatever goofy thing he was eating "one of the top five things I've ever eaten" in whatever category said item falls in for like the third time tonight, IT HAPPENED AGAIN.  The bed shook.  Actually, everything shook.  The ceiling even creaked.

Then the light bulb in my head went on.  I'd just felt an earthquake tremor.  For the first time in my life.

(Well...second behind the one that woke me up.)

I checked the news this morning, and sure enough, a 4.3 earthquake happened near Crescent, Oklahoma.  The USGS confirmed it could be felt through much of eastern Kansas as far away as Kansas City.  There were several aftershocks.

No damage.  No big deal.  Just a new experience, I guess.

I've lived in earthquake-prone areas before, especially when I was younger, but I'd never actually felt one.

I managed to go back to sleep after understanding what was going on.

Peace of mind, I guess.