I have regrets. But they’re not the kind you might expect. I mean, I married the right person, I finished college, and I have gone 30 years without once attempting to climb Mount Everest (I intend to continue that streak until I die peacefully in my sleep—not horrifically in a YouTube video called “Amateur Climber Accident – WARNING: DEATH”). The regrets I’m talking about don’t happen over the course of a lifetime, they happen instantaneously. It’s a little phenomenon I like to call InstaRegret. Like, say, when you’re window shopping with Wife, and something catches her eye – e.g. the diamond quilt – and you walk into the boutique and realize the only other person in the store is the owner who seems way, way too happy to see you, and you suddenly feel like a Hobbit in a tunnel who is just beginning to notice that the tunnel has lots of spider webs. Like, more spider webs than a Hobbit-friendly tunnel should typically have. That’s InstaRegret. Or, when you ask the hostess if there’s a table with a view of the water, and, since she’s a hostess working the lunch-rush in a pizza restaurant and you’re a guy asking for a nicer table during the lunch-rush in a pizza restaurant, she hates you and seats you in a shared booth next to a couple of giant man-eating spiders. Big time InstaRegret. The only thing worse than InstaRegret is pre-InstaRegret. Like when you’re standing in line at Subway and you lock eyes with the Sandwich Artist and you both know that what is about to happen will be embarrassing for both of you. Embarrassing for you because no Plimoth Plantation Cornucopia of Spinach, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Green Peppers, and Tomatoes is going to make your steak & cheese sub a responsible decision. And embarrassing for the Sandwich Artist because he only had three more credits to go until graduation, but fell into a bad group of wolf spiders, started dealing and smoking web, and failed out of school. Textbook pre-InstaRegret. So what’s the moral of the story? Stay indoors, avoid all human contact, and you probably won’t be eaten by mutant spiders. Probably.
Where are they now? I’m not talking about The Human League, or Men at Work, or The Village People (apparently 80’s bands wanted everyone to know they were members of the human race, and not cross-dressing robots like we all suspected), although I would love to hear The Human League perform someplace other than supermarkets and elevators. Actually, I was referring to the second grade classmate Wife and I both remember as The Girl Who Always Read Hard Books. For anonymity’s sake, let’s call her GWARHB. Not only was Gwarhb taller and better mannered than the rest of us chocolate-milk guzzling neophytes, but she carried a dog-eared paperback edition of A Wrinkle In Time with her onto the playground, into the cafeteria, gymnasium, auditorium, and even to the Principal’s Office, where, I have to assume, she volunteered her time balancing the elementary school budget for that fiscal quarter. Of course, I didn’t notice any of this until my first Scholastic book order arrived: Clifford the Big Red Dog and a picture-book about frogs. Suddenly, Gwarhb was making me painfully aware of My First Inferiority Complex® (all-rights reserved by Mattel), and I knew what I had to do to make things right: read the book with the flying horse and scary blue guy on the cover. I can’t tell you what the book was about, but I can tell you that I felt like a Big Kid holding it in my hands. And that, my friends, is why I never started smoking cigarettes. Thanks, Gwarhb.
I’m ready for my close-up. No, I’m not the new international eyebrow model for Tweenzers, the tweezers made for tweens, by tweens, with no inbetweeners. Although I bet I could pull it off. I’ve been told I have the eyebrows of a twelve-year-old, with the nose of a twenty-eight-year-old, and the signature of a business-casual sloth. But enough about me, let’s get back to me. I’m coming at you, live, from the futon in my basement, giving you an exclusive outside look at one of my most favorite events of the year, The Oscars. Sure, they don’t start for another five hours, and I’m in my bathrobe (the alternate-my ace had to see a window about a curtain), but that’s not going to stop me from providing running commentary for The LXXXVIth Academy Awards! Of course, I prefer to call them The Awshugs, because that’s the face every nominee makes in glorious HD (High Disappointment) when the actual winner is announced. It doesn’t matter if you are a beautiful, bright-eyed actor or a beautiful, bright-eyed, slightly older actor–every loser is a winner at The Awshugs, and, in a way, doesn’t that make us all losers? In fact, why don’t we take that High Disappointment display and use it to spice up everyday situations? “And the last pound of deveined jumbo shrimp goes to…Barb Whatley! [various shoppers grumble as Barb approaches seafood counter] This is Barb’s five-hundredth shrimp casserole.”
Clear my schedule. Hold all my calls. Hold all these giant palm fronds too–I have to go to the bathroom and don’t want to get my fronds dirty. Plus, they make you look ridiculous all stacked up in your arms like that, which amuses me. The point is, I have just discovered The Best Thing Ever, and I don’t think I’ll be getting much of anything done for the foreseeable future. No, I’m not talking about drawing mustaches on expensive oil paintings. That’s called Art Crime and it’s a felony. What do you think happened to all those cartoon characters who drew mustaches on expensive oil paintings? They went to federal prison. No, The Best Thing Ever is, in my arrogant opinion, reading reviews of horrible hotels on TripAdvisor. If you haven’t experienced The Best Thing Ever first-hand, allow me to give you a dramatic writing: AVOID THIS HOTEL LIKE THE PLAGUE. Because it is infected with the plague, and if you stay here you will get the plague and no longer be able to use the phrase, “Avoid this ____ like the plague” without a depressing sense of irony. We checked into this glorified rat salon at 1 am, and immediately contracted the plague. After switching rooms three times, because they all contained wild animals with a variety of highly evolved defenses, we were led into an alleyway, and robbed. Granted, we probably should have notified the police at that point, but we were hungry and wanted room service. The manager, whom I believe was also a wild animal, informed us that room service did not service alleyways and besides did not exist. Starving, and a teensy bit tired from the plague, we decided to cut our losses and check into the Hilton across the street. Two-and-a-half stars.
Red-ee? If you are watching Olympic Speed Skating, this is the last thing you will hear before a loud beep prompts tiny men and women, wearing skin-suits that would make Luey Lemmings (that’s the name of the yoga pants lady, right?) herself blush and electric-Kool-Aid-colored goggles, to dig their heels into shoes attached to what look like dull butter knives and accelerate on a sheet of ice in a circle, until they either crash into padding or glide across the finish line or both. Oh, and one more thing: the results of each race are not final until the times are cross-referenced with a frame-by-frame photo finish, which means that it’s not altogether uncommon to announce a winner and then a few moments later say, “Oops, we take it back. The other skater won.” So, wuddya think, parents of future Olympians? There are literally hundreds of events that your child could specialize in. Which one will you force them into under threat of No TV And Candy? What’s that? The one that looks like a bad 1970’s science fiction movie starring Michael York and has a seemingly arbitrary scoring system? Oh. You meant Speed skating. For a minute there I thought you were talking about the one where you ski and shoot – it’s actually more like a bad 1970’s spy movie starring Roger Moore – which would be the less bizarre of the two events in question. To each their own, I guess. First things first: start perfecting your creepy robotic “Red-ee?” in the mirror. You’re going to be saying that to your kid, like, every day.