Monday, May 18, 2009

Pirates of the Flea Market

The sun shines on rows and rows of tables spread out in aisles across a large dusty field. Big tractor trailers and Winnebagos lay anchored in random spots on the field, breaking the monotony of the aisles. It is early, and the tables are mostly empty, but quickly filling with all manner of merchandise. The flea market comes to life rapidly, and by mid morning the field is bustling with activity as shoppers look for bargains. We settle on two tables next to each other, one full to the brim with stacks and stacks of old vinyl records. The other table is mostly empty but starting to fill up with woven blankets and other handmade items.

“Hi neighbor,” the man with the records says to the woman next to him who is carefully laying out colorful blankets, scarves and the like. “Name’s Charlie, pleased to meet you.”

“Hello,” the woman says with a smile. “I’m Louise, and I’m pleased to meet you as well!”

“First time here, I can tell,” Charlie says.

“How can you tell?”

“Everyone is set up already, and you are still takin’ your sweet time! There’s valuable money to be had! Gotta be quick!” Charlie says with a chuckle, which Louise returns with a smile.

“Anything worth doing is worth taking your time over,” Louise returns as she continues laying out her goods.

“Beautiful stuff there, Louise, I have to say,” Charlie says as he looks over Louise’s handmade items.

“Thank you Charlie, that is kind of you to say. I hand-stitched everything here myself,” Louise says with a note of pride creeping into her voice.

As Charlie and Louise pass the time, admiring each other’s collections, a high-pitched whine could be heard far in the distance, carried by the wind to their tables. Charlie pauses in mid-sentence and looks down the long aisle they occupy, eyes widening and obviously upset. “No, not already! They’re early today!” he exclaims as he gets back behind his table and busily arranges stacks of records, appearing to hide some.

“Who’s early? What is that noise?” Louise asks as she peers down the long aisle at a cloud of dust towards the far end. The loud buzzing whine is getting louder and sounds like a small engine or a plane of some sort.

“It’s them,” Charlie hisses at her. “Pirates!

As Charlie says this, the cloud of dust appears to part, and from out of the middle comes a parade of four golf carts garishly decorated and driven by what appears to be pirates. The carts each have a flag flying high over their roofs; black with a skull and crossbones symbol painted in the middle. The cart in the lead of the four has a man standing on a platform attached to the front. He stands with one foot up on a railing and a sword held high in the air. He has on a large black pirate hat, and his clothes are consistent with traditional pirate-wear. He brings his sword down and points it at Charlie. As he does this, the carts slow and stop in front of Charlie and Louise’s tables. The man on the platform descends to the ground, as one of the other men in the lead cart bellows, “All Hail Captain DUSTY!” The other pirates all cheer and Captain Dusty turns to them briefly, enjoying the adulation. He lets the cheering continue for a few seconds and then raises his hands to silence his crew. He slowly walks over to Charlie’s table and stands in front of him.

“Do ye be havin’ any Elvis Prrrrrresly Recorrrrrrrds?” captain Dusty says to Charlie as the rest of the pirates in his crew smile knowingly.

“You know I don’t, you took all of them last week,” Charlie says.

“Well, now, I know I didn’t take all of ye stash! Ye’d best be handin’ overrrr what ye got, lest ye be walkin’ the plank!” At this declaration, Captain Dusty’s crew all jeer and yell at Charlie while he cowers under the glare of the Captain.

“I, uh, I may have a few left in the car,” Charlie stammers as Captain Dusty glares at him.

“Aye, well, let’s see ‘em! I don’t have all day to be standin’ here bakin’ underrrr the hot sun! Arrrr!”

As Charlie turns to look through the trunk of his car, Louse stands dumbfounded. She watches this all play out not believing what she is seeing. Charlie returns from his car with two albums, both with Elvis Presley’s picture printed on them. The pirates all cheer when Charlie returns and Captain Dusty raises his hands again to quiet his men.

“See? I knew ye were holdin’ out on me, aye I did,” Captain Dusty says as he grabs the records from Charlie’s grasp. The Captain leans in close to Charlie saying, “I should make ye walk the plank anyway, as punishment fer hidin’ yer treasure from me!”

“P-p-please, not that,” Charlie stammers as Captain Dusty’s crew all begin chanting “Walk The Plank! Walk The Plank!”

“Ye can have one more chance to redeem yerself,” the Captain said as his crew quiets down. He looks over the stacks of vinyl records, perusing the choices. “Hand over all of yer Aerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrosmith recorrrrrrrds right quick, or I’ll take out yer eye and feed it to Polly!” Captain Dusty’s crew erupts with loud cheers and catcalls as Charlie flinches. “And while yer at it, throw in all of yer Doooooooobie Brotherrrrrrrrrrrrs recorrrrrrrds as well, and I may ferget yer insubordination!” Charlie dutifully gathers all the albums as per Captain Dusty’s request. Meanwhile his crew all celebrates as the Captain opens a pale brown jug and begins drinking sloppily from it.

Just then, a shot rings out and all sounds of revelry immediately stop. Captain Dusty drops his jug which shatters on the ground, leaking out its contents into the dirt. All eyes turn to the table next to Charlie where they gaze upon Louise, holding a revolver over her head which still has smoke pouring from the muzzle where the fired shot has just exited.

“That’s quite enough, ‘Captain Dusty’,” Louise says with a sneer. The silence hangs in the air mixed with the dust that rises from the fields. No one moves. Louise walks out from behind her table and surveys the pirates and their leader. “Take off those ridiculous outfits, and leave this man alone!” Louise shouts at Captain Dusty.

“That’s a fancy firearrrrm ye’ve got there, missy, but I be warnin’ ye – “ Captain Dusty starts but is cut off by Louise’s hand striking out and slapping his large black pirate had off of his head. The crowd, including the Captain’s crew, gasps at the sheer bravery of such an act. “Roger, that is quite enough of that stupid accent,” Louise says as ‘Captain Dusty’ grows visibly uncomfortable.

“Yes, I know it’s you Roger. And you Phillip,” Louise points at the driver of the first golf cart. “And you Timothy,” Louise points at members of the crew, calling each by their real names. “I taught you all in High School! I bet you never thought you would see me again! You should all be ashamed of yourselves, picking on this nice man. Half of you aren’t even dressed as pirates! Tim, you are just wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball jersey!” Tim hugs himself in an attempt to cover the pirate logo of his favorite baseball team.

“Um, uh, I’m sorry, ma’am,” Roger says, his pirate accent disappearing faster than his large black hat. “We were just, um, acting out a, well, a part of a movie and,” Roger stammers for a few more minutes and Louise waves him off.

“Enough of this. Get back on your carts and go back wherever you came from. And return every record you stole from Charlie by the end of the day today. If you don’t, I’ll come and find you!”

Roger gets back on his golf cart, and all of the carts do awkward K-turns and slowly buzz back up the aisle, disappearing in another cloud of dust. Louise hides her gun under a beautifully woven blanket on her table and then turns to a thankful Charlie.

“What is wrong with you? Did you really think they were pirates? At a flea market? What would pirates be doing at a flea market? One of them was wearing a white T-shirt that had ‘Pirate’ written on it in crayon!” Louise begins scolding Charlie who tries to shrink behind his table of records.

“I really thought they were pirates, and that I had to give them what they wanted, or I would walk the plank,” Charlie half-heartedly tries to explain while Louise looks on unsympathetically.

“Obviously, this flea market is populated by halfwits,” Louise says to herself as she begins clearing her table. Just then, a cry arises from the next aisle over, “All Hail Queen Louise!” The cry is met by a man from three tables over and it catches like wildfire. “Captain Dusty has been vanquished! All Hail the Queen!” Louise watches in fascination as people in all aisles begin dancing with exaggerated motions and hand gestures, while someone nearby blows into an enormous conch shell, producing a prolonged sound that is answered by someone unseen in the distance.

Louise finishes packing up her things while the celebration rages on around her. Down an aisle three away from hers, a large group of people run up and down beating large drums and blowing conch shells while someone in a hang glider flies overhead dropping flower petals on everyone. Firecrackers snap and pop from some distance away and small children dance in circles holding hands and chanting the name of their savior. A jaunty parade appears in the aisle next to hers, with a full band and a bandleader high-stepping and waving a silver baton while the band he leads plays a lively march. “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” can be heard echoing throughout the flea market as Louise gets into her car.

Louise slowly pulls out the exit of the flea market, pausing to look in her rearview mirror at the chaos that had erupted behind her. “I swear, that is the last time I ever go to a flea market in Woodstock,” she says to herself as she pulls onto the highway. She passes four golf carts that had driven into a ditch by the side of the road, watching as the ‘pirates’ she had vanquished stand arguing amongst themselves as she slowly drives by. She throws an apple core out the window at them, and Roger (formerly ‘Captain Dusty’) shakes his fist as she drives off into the distance.

The hippies at the Woodstock Flea Market talked of Queen Louise for years to come. They erected a statue in her image that consisted of sticks and marijuana leaves, which didn’t really end up resembling a person, just a hastily constructed pile of weed and sticks. The day Queen Louise vanquished Captain Dusty’s pirate band would be celebrated each year as “Dusty Day”, which ended up just being another excuse to get high and sing songs all night (much like “Rain Day”, “Loaded Potato Skin Day”, “Air Day” and “Awesome Week”).

As the “Dusty Day Hang Gliders” crisscross in the air, dropping rose petals on the revelers, everyone knows they are safe until the next ridiculously costumed threat rears its ugly head. Maybe then, Queen Louise would once again return to save them. Until then, flea market life would go on as usual with marching bands, rose petals, conch shells, piles of sticks, massive quantities of marijuana, copious LSD tabs and hang gliders, just as it should be.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I hate how purposely vague the status updates on Facebook can be.

“Well, I’m going to hell now!” (posted 2 hours ago).

Someone will always have to respond “O No! What happened?” I just picture someone walking into a crowded room of friends and saying “Well, I think I’ll probably die within the hour.” And then surreptitiously glancing around and waiting for someone to ask what is going on. Why don’t you just continue the story instead of sitting there, fingers poised, waiting for someone to respond?

“Eric suddenly finds himself with only 2 fingers.” (posted an hour ago)

Worried Buddy Commented: “O No! What happened? Is it hard to type?????????????” (posted 5 minutes ago)

Eric commented: “I’m fine. Eating chicken fingers for dinner and only have two left. LOL! ROEFLAOEAL!” (posted 5 minutes ago)

I could have just said “Eric only has 2 chicken fingers left for dinner” an hour ago when I first posted my status, but then my ego wouldn’t have been gratified by concerned comments and response. See how that works? The more cryptic the comment, the more likely you get a response, and isn’t that what we all want: For someone to care?

“Eric is worried.” (posted an hour ago).

How open ended is this?

Concerned Friend commented: “O No! What’s happening???!??!?!?!??! Are U all right!??!?!” (posted 2 minutes ago)

Eric commented: “Nothing, I just hope the Mets don’t blow another game tonight.” (posted 2 minutes ago)

Now I made my concerned friend go through the hassle of typing out a response with way too many punctuation marks just to find out that I’m worried about the Mets blowing another save. I could have added three more words: ‘about the Mets.’ No one would have been concerned, but more importantly, no one would have responded.

“Eric is dead.” (posted 3 hours ago)

Concerned Friend commented: “WHAT?!?!?” (posted 1 minute ago)

Wiseass Friend commented: “Well how did you type then? LOL!” (posted 1 minute ago)

Eric commented: “Oh, I’m just dead tired from work. LOL?” (posted 1 minute ago)

I’m really a jerk making everyone think I’m dead. I could have easily said “Eric is dead tired after working all day.” But no, I had to be ‘Face-vague’. It’s an acquired skill. You can’t be unrealistically vague like ‘Eric is a balloon’ or ‘Eric rode a unicorn today.’ That way you will get no concerned responses.

Of course, you could always go the other way with way too much information in your status update:

“Eric opened a checking account with ‘WaMu’ today. I arrived at the bank at 9:07 this morning, stepping out of my car under a clear blue sky with my credentials in hand. I opened the bank door and was greeted by a friendly guard who asked me how my day was going. I told him ‘Can’t complain!’ and then we both giggled like schoolgirls as he awkwardly tried to brush my hair back with the side of his hand. I was all like, ‘What kind of bank is this? WaMove out of my way!’ as I sidestepped him and made my way to the main desk…’

Who would still be reading after all that? We live in an age of instant information in tiny bite-size chunks. ‘Eric was fondled by a bank security guard today’ would be a much more interesting status and would generate tons of comments and concerned onlookers. Kind of like a car crash or a murder scene. I love Facebook.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Urgent Questions Volume 5: The Wrath of Kahn

When you see a rainbow gracefully bending over a sun-covered mountain range, do you ever wish you could bend gracefully over the toilet next time you vomit from drinking too many strawberry daiquiris, instead of sticking your head out the window of your new car and splattering neon red puke all over your driver’s side door?

When I asked you to take out the garbage for the seventeenth time today, was I speaking German, or do you just not understand “Getoffyourassian” (pronounced, “Take out that garbage, or I’ll ram your face in it”)?

Do you get your hopes up every time you open a Hershey bar that this time, maybe this time, you will actually get a Golden Ticket and get to tour the magical Hershey chocolate factory and finally get a chance to rescue a gluttonous fat boy as he tries to drink an entire chocolate river?

Have you ever startled a homeless man while he was in the middle of urinating into a large Dunkin Donuts coffee cup, only to realize that the “homeless man” is your brother, and that “coffee cup” is actually your hair?

Have you ever woken up next to a fat raccoon thinking that his cute little bandit mask is not nearly as cute in the morning?

Will Harry ever learn about the Birds and the Bees, and about how Birds and Bees actually hate each other due to a longstanding feud, despite all the filthy sex they are associated with?

How many times have you dropped your pants in public, only to find that you were wearing skin-tight leather pants with orange and yellow flames embroidered on them, so it was probably better that you dropped those things anyway, despite what the prosecutor says?

When a turkey flies out of the woods brandishing a firearm and gobbling at you in angry tones, are you all like “Whaaaaat? OMG! WTF? LOL! ROFLMAO! BFF! CUL8R!”

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Office

Have you ever seen the movie ‘Office Space’? It is such a great movie, and so accurate that you could probably get away with classifying it as a documentary. My office is very much like the office in that movie. What follows is an actual conversation I heard this morning when I went to get my coffee:

Man 1: Almost the weekend.
Man 2: Yep, what a week.
Man 1: See the game last night?
Man 2: Nope.
Man 1: Yeah, at least it didn’t rain yesterday.
Man 2: Yep.
Man 1: Tough week huh? Workin’ hard or hardly workin’?
Man 2: *laughs harder than he should*
Man 1: Hey, I know you! *pointing to Man 3 walking over*
Man 3: Ghostbusters! *all three men laugh and walk away together*

This was an actual conversation by three grown human men. Ghostbusters? I don’t even understand the reference. What is it about an office that makes people talk so strangely? This isn’t just limited to the workers. Here is an actual excerpt from our company’s holiday memo from management:

Join us from 2:00-2:30 PM on December 22nd for cookies and punch in the company cafeteria. Santa has been seen and may be making an appearance!

Employees are reminded that they are not allowed to consume any type of food or drink at their desks at any time.

Merry Christmas!

Wow, way to shut down the celebration before it even gets here. They can’t just let everyone have a good time for a half hour out of one day; they have to hit you over the head with policy even in the holiday memo. I think management is one step away from having monitors follow us around the cafeteria whispering in our ears while we innocently try to buy our lunches:

“Employees are reminded that trans fats are the number one cause of heart disease and obesity.”
“Employees are reminded that high cholesterol is the nation’s number one killer.”
“Employees are reminded that foods high in sugar cause enormous weight gain and depression.”
“Employees are reminded that 75 years is the average lifespan of a human male and aren’t you turning 50 soon? Maybe get a salad?”

Did they change the name of my company to “Wet Blanket Ltd.” without telling me? Anyway, be glad you don’t work here. The paranoia is overwhelming. What was that?!? Oh, they are just installing the mini-webcam over my monitor so they can take a picture of my facial expression every 15 seconds. It’s part of the “Be Happy or Else” campaign to make sure the workplace is a happy one. Then, on Friday, it’s Hawaiian shirt day! Employees are reminded that Hawaiian shirts are only to be worn for a total of 10 minutes time and then changed to a three piece suit.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cinco De Mayo

Yesterday was “Cinco De Mayo” which means “Sink full of Mayo” in Russian. I find it strange that we as a country celebrate a holiday that revolves around a large amount of a popular condiment contained in a kitchen appliance, but I suppose there are stranger things to celebrate. I am currently lobbying for my work to shut down on “Dishwasher De Ketchup”. So far my emails on the subject have been unopened. I also think someone is following me to and from work in a limo. Why would that be?

Anyway, happy Sink Full of Mayo, everyone? And a Merry “Garbage Disposal full of Salsa” to my friends from Mexico. Ole!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

I would like to tell you a story. This story is about a boy and a girl, as many stories are. The boy’s name was Nothing and the girl’s name was Something. Nothing loved Something with all of his heart. They were inseparable. Nothing’s friends were a little dubious, however. Conversations between the boy and his friends were always very similar:

“I love Something,” the boy would say.
“What?” the friend would answer.
“I love Something.”
“I love Something!”
“I heard you, what do you love?”
“Are you messing with me?”
“No, you said you love Something, and I want to know what!”
“You aren’t going to tell me? Why is it such a huge secret?”
“I just did tell you!”
“Fuck you and your secret love,” the friend would usually say and then storm off.

For Something, her conversations were equally frustrating:

“I love Nothing,” the girl would say.
“Why?” her friend would answer.
“It’s hard to say…”
“Are you sad?”
“No, quite the opposite!”
“Well, why do you love Nothing?”
“I just do!”
“That seems very sad. Everybody loves Something.”
“Thank you!”
“Thank you for what? I don’t understand you.”
“Well, Nothing does.”
“Again, that seems very isolationist.”
“As long as I have Nothing, I’ll be happy.”
Something’s friend shakes her head in bewilderment. “Cheer up, OK?”

One day, Nothing gave Something a red rose. Something’s heart filled with even more love for Nothing and she vowed to one day marry Nothing. Eventually Nothing did marry Something. They had two children: Everything and Mystery. And a dog named Supposedly. They lived for many years as a huge, strangely-named, happy family until one day Something’s father showed up demanding to know why he wasn’t invited to the wedding. His name was…Steve. Yes, Steve.

“Why wasn’t I invited to the wedding?” asked Steve.
“Nothing wanted you there,” Something began.
“You mean ‘No one’ wanted me there?”
“No, Nothing wanted you there. Something did not.”
“You did not?”
“If Nothing and Something had Something and Nothing then would Everything become Nothing?”
“Of course.”
“Why Not?”

Then, Grandmother Probably came a-knocking on their front door with some kind of story to yap about:

“Is someone at the door?” said Nothing.
“Probably,” said Something.
“Well, did you check the door?”
“Is someone there?”
“Yes, Probably.”
“Didn’t you check for sure?”
“Are you going to answer it?”
“Probably will come in eventually.”
“What? Why don’t you just open the door yourself?”
“Oh, Probably let herself in.”
“There is a woman at the door?”
“Fuck you and your secret love,” Nothing said and stormed off.

This family had many ridiculous conversations in the years to follow, most of them unprintable. No one could understand these conversations and eventually everyone they knew disowned them or alienated them until they considered changing their names like Steve had. They all met in a secluded cabin and started to think about what their new names should be. That was, until Great-Grandfather Always came along with his whuppin’ stick and 100 miles of bad attitude. He was a raging alcoholic and beat them all within an inch of their lives. Probably.

The End

You have just read The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. When you stop crying (if you stop crying) please do your part and pass this story on to everyone you know. Like the Beatles said, “All You Need Is Love.” They also said “I’d like to be under the sea in an Octopus’s Garden in the shade,” so maybe their advice isn’t the most sound advice you could follow. Anyway, it is your duty as a citizen of Planet Earth to send this story to everyone who needs some hope in their life. If they get no comfort from this story, then they have dark twisted souls that no one can heal. I do what I can but I can’t go around trying to heal everyone’s burnt shell of a soul. Get a real soul, losers.

This story is the closest thing to Heaven that you will ever see on Earth. Remember it always as it shall remember you. I Love You.

Signed: Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior

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