Friday, March 27, 2009

The Barber Joke

A priest goes into a barbershop and gets a haircut. After, he thanks the barber and asks how much he owes him. The barber says, "Father, you're a holy man, a man of the cloth, I couldn't charge you, it's on the house." The priest says, "Thank you very much," and leaves.

The next day, magically appearing on the doorstep of the barbershop are 12 gold coins.

A few days later, a Buddhist monk goes in for a shave and a shine, and when the time comes to pay, the barber says, "No money, please, you're a spiritual leader, a man of the people, it's on the house."

The next day, magically appearing on the doorstep are 12 rubies.

The following week a rabbi comes in, gets a haircut, goes to pay, and the barber says, "No, Rabbi, you are a learned man, a wise man, I can't take any money from you, go in peace."

The next day, magically appearing on the doorstep of the barbershop are 12 rabbis.

It's A Cute Problem

A humor column I wrote in April 1998 for a (now) defunct Queens, NY weekly publication. It never saw print, until this post!

Cute women are a problem. Well, not necessarily all cute women. Most cute women, in fact, are reasons to wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, go to the park, and hide in the tall grass with your binoculars. But I digress.

The cute women who cause problems are the ones you know personally. More specifically, ones know who because they know your wife. Most precisely, the cute women you know because they are your wife's friends.

Before anyone starts running for the phone book to call my cute and lovely wife, I am not confessing to anything that any other married man hasn't ever hought about. At certain times, I have glanced at a woman my wife knows (and girls she knew when we were just dating) and thought,' She looks kind of cute." Naturally, and perhaps I should say, sadly, this has happened less and less the longer we've been married.

Now before anyone starts running for the phone book to call the friends of my cute and lovely wife, I am not going to name any names. Age, bad job choices, lifestyle, and clothing and haircut changes have taken their tool on many of us. I did not write this piece to be cruel and calculated and say, "Sheila has pigged out since she turned 30." It was the furthest thing from my mind. All names in this article have been changed to protect, well, me!

In college, my wife and I both knew Alice, a girl who worked at the school paper. During these halcyon days, Alice regularly attended weekend screenings of the audience-participation favorite, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." She would get dressed down in white bra and panties and dance on stage with the rest of the troupe. While I never went to one of her performances, I have seen a famous photo taken by my friend, Jim, of Alice bending over to adjust her stockings. But I digress.

Alice, who was quite cute, was quite aware of her cuteness and took full advantage. This is the most dangerous type of cute girl -- one who manipulates the system to the fullest. One afternoon, she came into the paper's offices dressed in a man's shirt. I assume Alice had underwear on, but that was the extent of her outfit. Walking past while she was on the phone, I heard her announce happily, "I caused a traffic accident walking to school this morning!"

After graduation, I fell out of touch with Alice. Then Jim called me and said he was driving through Forest Hills, saw her at a bus stop, and gave her a lift down Queens Boulevard. "And?" I asked expectantly. "She's lost it," Jon sighed. Whatever combination of the elements had hit her, Alice was no longer a cute girl.

Most of the time you can avoid cute women. Not that most men want to avoid them. At most offices, it's an unspoken rule to have a 8:1 male-to-cute woman ratio. My company is no different, although we recently relocated. This shifted the most readily-available cute women from my floor to a different floor in another part of our new building. Like hunter/gatherers, the men immediately went on the prowl, breaking out blueprints and floor plans to determine where the "new" hot spots were in the quest to rediscover cute women.

It's truly annoying when your wife asks about cute women. On our anniversary several years ago, I told my wife that when we had first started dating, Jim had asked if I would mind giving him her phone number if "things didn't work out" between the two of us.

"Don't worry," my wife responded, "I wouldn't go out with any of your friends." For no reason, she added, "Too bad I can't say the same thing about you."

"What are you getting at?" I asked.

"Come on, you think that some of my friends are cute!" she said.

"Like who?" I retorted. A direct answer would have been catastrophic.

"Like Denise," she replied.

I laughed. "Denise must have gained at least 20 pounds since I've known you," I said. "Proportionally, I can only imagine what she's going to look like in 10 years!"

"Well, what about Caroline?"

Caroline worked in a beauty salon. It was the best possible world for her, since without hair and nails, her conversation skills were nil. "Caroline's brain is bottle-bleached and shrunken from too much time under a hair dryer," I said.

She gave it one more try. "I know you like Marti."

I shook my head. "Marti dates more losers than Drew Barrymore," I said. "I'd hate to think what kind of microbes are sliming their way through her internal systems."

For some reason, these answers did not please my wife. Here it was, our anniversary, and she was mad at me -- and for what?

"I can't believe you're mad at me because I'm not attracted to your friends!" I gasped.

It took a moment for this to sink in. She looked at me and asked, "You're not just saying that, right?"

She looked so cute. And you know what I say about cute women....

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

You've Always Got Your Health

humor column I wrote, circa 1998:

I couldn't find my left glove. I must have looked under every car down Bell Boulevard in Bayside, but it stayed hidden. I racked my brain trying to remember if I might have left the glove on the train. Perhaps when I had thrust both into one pocket, the left one accidentally fell out. In any case, the glove was gone.
I recounted this bitter experience to Vin and Hank, while Hank was puttering around under the hood of his car (again). Vin gave me a sideways glance and shrugged. "Oh well," he sighed, tugging at the collar of his Evan Picone shirt. "At least you've got your health."
For as long as I can recall, adults had been imparting this particular piece of advice. This was an august occasion -- the first time a peer in my age group had chosen to use these sage words.
"Vin, do you realize you now have something in common with my mother?" I gasped.
He paused, shoke his head, and replied, "Let me tell you something -- she's right. For you, it was a glove. For me, it was a shoe."
Voice choked with emotion, Vin told me and Hank how, last winter, he had fallen in love. Not with any mere woman, but with a darling pair of Rockport BusiPlex Shoes. Knowing the weather wouldn't be right for such a purchase for at least another few months, Vin ignored the tempresses. They stared out at him from the shoe store window, but he stayed firm in his resolve.
Then one morning on the 7 train, the playing field changed. The store was running a 30 percent off sale. Vin's beloved shoes were suddenly at a bargain price. Faced with man's eternal dilemma, he caved.
That evening, Vin unwrapped the Rockport BusiPlex Shoes and walked them around his apartment. "I was airing them out," he explained. "You need to break these puppies in slowly."
He repeated the procedure for the next week or so. Vin managed to keep the purchase secret from the rest of us the entire time, a new record! On the eighth day, Vin dressed and wore the shoes when he went to meet us for dinner. Although it had rained that morning, the afternoon heat had evaporated all puddles. Vin was satisfied that nothing could destroy the pristine nature of these Rockport BusiPlex Shoes.
Stepping off the curb, Vin looked both ways. Auto traffic was far in the distance. The road ahead was gravelly and dry. He took the first step, right into dog droppings.
Vin could go no further when he reached this point in his tale. Hank took off his hat and we both bowed out heads in respect. "So you can see, gentlemen, that your health has to remain most important, to keep everything else in perspective."
Hank nodded solemnly. "A couple of years back, my aunt got real sick," he said. "I mean, my folks were talking in hushed tones and I caught my mom crying."
"What was wrong with her?" asked Vin.
Hank thought this over, scratching his back with a socket wrench. "We never did find out," he answered. "All I know is that she drove a 1972 Corvette, with the six-cylinder engine, and that she was going to leave it to me in her will."
For Hank, this would have been a better legacy than any amount of cash. Cars were his passion, and he practically had oil in his veins.
"Anyway, she finally passed on, and after a spectacular funeral, we were all summoned to the reading of the will," Hank said.
Every member of his family was there -- wizened Grandpa Milburn, heart-broken Uncle Al, self-centered cousins Deacon and LeRoy, and Hank's immediate clan.
The lawyer went down the list, checking off items left and right, but Hank's name never came up. He kept track, and the 1972 Corvette was never bequeathed to anyone.
After the session, Hank approached the lawyer. "Oh, yes, the car..." the legal expert said. Hank almost belted him, out of respect for the Corvette. "Your aunt had specified certain conditions for her funeral. In order to pay for them, your uncle sold the car."
Hank said the next thing he remembered was waking up in his bed, fully-clothed, pages torn from car magazines strewn around his bedroom. "Your health.... be thankful for your health," he gulped.
I went through my pockets to try to find them both tissues to wipe their teary eyes. Hidden in the lining, I discovered something -- my left glove!
"I found it! I found the glove!" I shouted, pulling the glove from my pocket with such force that my arm rammed the wall. "Ouch! I think I broke a finger!"
Vin walked over and took a look. "Yep, I think you have to go the emergency room and have it set," he affirmed.
I clutched my damaged digit and started for the driveway.
Hank shouted after me, "At least you found your glove!"
I privately wished him a bad case of smallpox.

Surreal Moments In Pro Wrestling

Pitched as an article for STUFF magazine in 2003. There's been a ton of new stuff since then:

* The debut of the Shockmaster
Booker Dusty Rhodes decides to rip off the Vader character (big fat guy in a menacing mask) and taps pal Fred Ottman (later WWF's Tugboat/Typhoon). Sting and Davey Boy Smith announce they're bringing in their big pal for a six-man match - the Shockmaster. On live TV, Ottman, blinded by the mask and flashpots, trips and stumbles - and the mask falls off.

* Ivory Wrestles in a Long Skirt
The WWF gives Ivory the gimmick of an old-style school marm (in an attempt to parody the right wingers who disapproved of Vince's T&A stuff) and she attempts to wrestle in a long skirt. During a PPV match against Lita, Ivory slips doing a highspot and lands a real kick to the side of Lita's head, drawing "hardway" blood. The audience is stunned to see a female wrestler bleeding during a match.

* The Gobbledy Gooker
Vince decided the way to draw in kids was to create a mascot who would come to the ring at each house card and dance with young children. Hey, if they ran a split crew, they could send two guys out in the suit. For a month, a giant egg was rolled to ringside before cards. On live PPV, it hatched - and Mean Gene Okerlund went in to dance with the creature, as Vince and Roddy Piper shilled that this was loads of fun. It laid such a giant egg that it hasn't been seen since.

* New Jack Punks Eric Kulas
At an ECW show on Staten Island, New Jack carves up the forehead of novice wrestler Eric Kulas, who wears a bus driver uniform for his gimmick as "Mass Transit." Ringside fans are sickened by the buckets of blood pouring from Kulas' head as he is taken to the hospital, and he later sues ECW. Apparently Kulas, then 17, who came to the show with his father, lied about his age and level of wrestling experience. The promotion felt confident about winning the suit until a videotape of the incident - and New Jack's brutal slashing - hits the Internet. The civil suit is eventually dismissed due to inconsistencies in Kulas' story, but the scar on his forehead remains.

* Drew Carey in Royal Rumble
Promoting his improv PPV the week after the Rumble, Carey appears on the Rumble PPV and is thrown into the match at #4. He stands around while Jeff and Matt Hardy wrestle. Kane enters and he attempts to buy him off. This kills enough time for Raven to come in and attack Kane, so Carey can jump out of the ring and eliminate himself.

Some other examples to consider:

* The Cat Crosses Nudity Line
(Stacy Carter, Jerry Lawler's girlfriend at the time, flashes her chest on live PPV)

* Hulk Hogan Burns Copy of Wrestling Observer Newsletter on PPV
(Pissed about his heel turn leaking out, Hogan trashes the "sheets" and throws copy into a fire

* Kerry Von Erich Announces Divorce in the ring, Asks girls for Phone Numbers
(Kerry's wife moves out, he tells female fans that he's available and looking for action)

* HHH Humps Katie Vick in the Casket
(From last year - HHH accuses Kane of killing his ex-girlfriend. They run a tasteless video of HHH in a Kane mask visiting a funeral home, climbing into a coffin, and simulating sex with a corpse)