Monday, January 2, 2017

Gas Gauge Roulette

It's little secret that I have hardly lived my life as a daredevil. My name will never rank in the annals of human endeavor alongside names like Knievel, Wallenda, or Maury Plotkin, which is a name I just made up for the sole purpose of comedically undercutting the other two.

There is one area of life's experience, however, in which I have given vent to my wild side, or at least to whatever side I actually have that occasionally gets off its side.

Call it Gas Gauge Roulette. Perhaps you've played it yourself.

I clamber into my car in the morning, cursing the fact that it's the morning and that my car is a 2007 Camry instead of a 2017 Lexus and also that it's the morning.  As I settle uneasily behind the wheel, I recall two specific facts I had somehow forgotten:
  • I am practically out of gas, the warning light having flashed for a good  5 or 6 miles before I got home last night, and
  • I am a lazy and shiftless bum who doesn't feel like pumping gas and (optional) it's really cold outside.
 Game On!

Will I strive to make it safely to work or other destination without stopping to fill up for gas?  Or will I act prudently, fill up the tank, and drive to my destination confident and secure that I will arrive in style and in one piece?

The former, of course.  After all, this is Gas Gauge Roulette!

I’ve now gone a mile. The warning light is back on, and likely there’s less gas in the tank than water on the surface of the moon.  I pass the first of several gas stations en route.   Should I stop?

Nah. I am Wallenda, I am Knievel, I am Maury Plotkin, which is a name I just made up for the sole purpose of comedically undercutting the other two.  

Was that a sputter? Did the car make a choking sound? Hopefully that was me sputtering and choking instead of the car. The light on the dashboard is now glowing like the Bat Signal on a night the Joker is carting off Gotham City. 

I ignore it.

What's that?  The gas gauge itself is now actually speaking to me:

"Perry, you moron, you're riding on fumes!  For god's sake, stop and get gas!" 


There is indeed one last gas station ahead before my final destination.  There it is - one last possible reprieve from the ignominy and humiliation of running out of gas less than half a mile from work.

I motor on past.

The car is now shrieking at me in the same tonality and cadence as if it were Meryl Streep in the movie Florence Foster Jenkins.  There's the parking lot up ahead at last, and yes, I've made it!

I’ve won! 

I’ve won America’s stupidest and most pointless game.

Why do I play Gas Gauge Roulette?  It seems to me the game
represents the ultimate point at which lazy crosses indomitable.  Maybe sometimes the only difference between being a hero and not being one is how much you are willing to risk to preserve your lassitude.

Well, comes the end of the day and I return to my vehicle. As I clamber into the car and settle uneasily behind the wheel, I recall two specific facts I had somehow forgotten:
  • I am practically out of gas, the warning light having flashed frantically for a good 5 or 6 miles before I got to work this morning, and
  • I am a lazy and shiftless bum who doesn't feel like pumping gas and (optional) it's really cold outside. 
Game On!


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Life's Little Pleasures II

There’s no question it’s been a terrible year.

Many beloved celebrities passing away (not that this doesn’t happen every year), the election of a dangerous demagogue as President, and our own personal mishigas have all made year 2016 about as enjoyable and memorable as the first year of the Bubonic Plague.

One of the methods I sometimes employ to improve my mood in circumstances such as these is to focus on what I call “Life’s Little Pleasures,” those often relatively small things in life that tend to make one feel a little bit better.

So tell me, Maria, what are some of your favorite things? (Warning: Some of these are for real and contain no jokes.  And beware formatting issues!)

    1) A very personable and attentive waiter or waitress, especially if it's a waitress with big boobs.

2) Having someone say “gee, you’re a quick study!” especially since you are actually about as quick a study as Ben Carson when confronted with anything apparently other than neurosurgery. 

3) Throwing bread to ducks in a creek, especially if you are with a small child, right up until the ducks surround you menacingly and start making anti-Semitic quacks.

4) Being caught up and fully up to date in a project, assignment, or major task you’re doing.

5) Yeah, like that's really going to happen …

6) Learning a new word and shortly afterwards reading it several times elsewhere or hearing it used more than once and finding it amazing that you don’t think you had ever heard that word before in your entire life and now it seems to be everywhere!

7) Anybody's smile.   

8) Being told you look like a certain star or performer unless you hate the star or performer, think he or she is goofy looking, or it's Nicholas Cage.

   9) Anticipating Trump's impeachment.

10) Feeling yourself genuinely affected with emotion at hearing bad news or a sad story on television and thinking “gee, maybe I’m not such a self-absorbed, vacuous waste of a human being as I thought I was after all.” 

11) Getting at least one of the scrambled words in the “Daily Jumble” figured out quickly, even if it’s only a four letter word.

12) Fantasizing about what it would be like if you had incredible powers like Superman such as flying, bending steel in your bare hands, and making any of the recent Superman movies less awful. 

13) Sharing a box of popcorn with somebody with whom you feel close enough to eat out of the same box of popcorn with.
14) Watching a movie on television on a channel that shows the full closing credits without speeding them up, shrinking them and putting them in the upper left hand corner of the screen to promote some other dopey show on the main part of the screen, or having them abruptly and unceremoniously end for a Geico commercial. 

     15) Being asked by a friend to read something they’ve written and after you                do read it, being able to say you liked it a lot without having to lie.

     16) Finding an interesting-looking coin from another country in the change                     you just got.

17)  Finding the shampoo that’s absolutely right for you and feeling like your hair looks better than ever before, even though it still looks lousy.

 18)   Completing all of the items on your “To Do” List.

19) Yeah, like that's really going to happen …

   20) The first day you finally feel you are pretty much over your cold.

21) Being in a room full of hundreds of people at a conference and even though you feel apprehensive about speaking in a group that large, raising your hand and asking a question and the speaker says “that’s a great question!”

22) Fantasizing about living in another period of time, like the Middle Ages, but still possessing your current knowledge, sophistication, and liberal views, so you are considered “ahead of your time.”  And not getting burned at the stake for it.

23) Reconciling your checkbook and getting it to come out perfectly the first time.

24) Yeah, like that's really going to happen …

25) Having an opportunity to get a celebrity’s autograph and despite feeling reticent about doing it, going up to the celebrity, finding him or her to be friendly, and getting the autograph.

26) Needing gas on a day that’s very cold and being in New Jersey where by law there’s an attendant to pump it for you.

27) Successfully parallel parking in a narrow space without scraping your tires or running over anybody.

28) A great cup of coffee that you didn’t expect in a shitty restaurant.

   29) Having a friend of the opposite sex with whom you feel as close as a friend of your own sex.

   30) Any items on this list about which we have written ”yeah, like that's really going to happen” actually happening.

Happy Holidays!


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sometimes in Winter (FF)

FF- Friday Fictioneers
Copyright - Rochelle Wisoff Shields  

I own a very small piece of property somewhere in a place you've probably never heard of. Despite its size, it is large enough for me to keep and care for several horses.

There's Ramrod, the former race horse who’s won fewer races than Hillary Clinton, Thunder Clap who loves mayonnaise on his hay, and Jokester, the one who manages to fart whenever you get behind him. 

Despite all this, I love riding each one of them, especially in the frequently falling snow.

But we can't go very far.  You see, I live in a snow globe which rests on the shelf of a little boy in Cleveland.

That's what I get for making fun of Harry Potter's scar.


Y'know, a snow globe is not a bad place to live after all.  To visit your nearest neighbor you have to travel to infinity, the schools aren't great or even existent, and you can't get a good corned beef sandwich anywhere. But at least there's a half dozen Starbucks.

Sure, I  wish some of the other Friday Fictioneers would come visit but they're busy writing posts based on the picture prompt above, which you can access by clicking here.

Hey, don't shake me!  Ramrod and I get nauseous.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Fatty Did It, After All

In a daring pre-dawn raid, an elite force of Donald Trump transition team members has stormed the one room New Jersey apartment of Ralph Plumpkin and seized the 400 pound Mr. Plumpkin, the man responsible for the recent massive hacking of  the Democratic National Committee.

"We got 'em!" bragged commando leader and soon-to-be National Security Advisor General Michael "Dr. Strangelove" Flynn, "and now we can Lock Him Up! You know, fear of fatties is RATIONAL."

President-Elect Trump stated that he knew Plumpkin was a danger to America as far back as the days when he was vigorously opposing the Iraqi War. “That’s because I know more than all the intelligence agencies put together,” noted Mr. Trump, “I have a good brain, and I know all the best words, like amazinghuge, and so important!” (which is two words.)

General Flynn exclaimed that it was ridiculous to think Russia had anything to do with the hacking because Plumpkin is a master of cyber espionage far more capable and advanced than anyone in the Russian secret services. Democrats doubt that Mr. Plumpkin is a master of cyber espionage far more capable and advanced than anyone in the Russian secret services as it has been learned that he still uses AOL dial-up. 

“As soon as I am sworn in I will have Plumpkin promptly water boarded,” added Mr. Trump. “That is, if we can find a large enough board and anywhere near enough water.”