#115 The moment when you walk into the grocery store and see the first shipment of egg nog

My buddy Mike’s a sugar rat.

Whenever I visit his apartment downtown we end up watching movies, playing video games, and ordering pizza. And when we’re done snacking I always turn to him and say, “Hey man, you got any chocolate or anything?” We’re close, me and Mike, and have long passed the point where we’re too polite to only eat when we’re offered food. I’ll hunt around the man’s fridge like it’s my own and I expect him to do the same.

Now the funny thing is that when I ask him, Mike usually just heads to the kitchen and starts hunting through cupboards of really, really old Tupperware, under stale half loaves of bread at the bottom of the freezer, and behind dusty food processors above the fridge. Yes, he hunts until he pulls out a surprise pack of unopened Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or peels the lid off a brand new tub of ice cream.

My buddy Mike’s a sugar rat.

See, he doesn’t trust himself to have the good stuff in view, so he hides it in the cracks and corners of his place and hopes he’ll forget it. This is known as the Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind Diet Plan, and it seems to work wonders for him. After all, he doesn’t gorge himself on candy bars that much, and whenever a sweet-toothed pal is jonesing for a fix, he just goes hunting until he finds the gold.

I think Mike’s whole theory is the same one behind the entire eggnog industry.

Just think! They’re saying “Here, enjoy this deliciously sweet and creamy drink, but — ah, ah, ah! You can only have it in December. Here, grind some cinnamon on top, spike it with rum, break out the crystal punch glasses for sugary surprise in your mouth, but — ah, ah, ah! There’s none available in the new year.”

And thank goodness, thank gracious, thank God for that.

Because if we drank eggnog all the time we’d get pretty fat.


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#116 Getting the chocolate you wanted from the chocolate box

My first girlfriend may have been an alien.

Sure, she looked normal, she dressed normal, she seemed normal, but she actually liked those oozing cherry-syrup-in-the-middle chocolates from the chocolate box. You know, the ones wrapped in gold foil and stuffed with that bizarre, mutant sugar-cherry that looked like it was drenched in toxic waste, causing it to glow a strange neon red.

Those were her favorite ones!

Clearly, whenever we split a box I always scored my first overall pick: the dream team of strawberries and cream. Yes, I loved those goopy pink innards oozing out like a smacked bug on a hot windshield and I had no shame with diving into the second layer to mine out all the artificially-flavored strawberry in the entire box. (You know you’re sharing with a pro when only one specific chocolate is missing on both levels.)

So what about you! Do you like the thick fudgy ones that get stuck in your teeth like brown-sugar fillings? Do you prefer those squares with the dry flaky white stuff in them, like expired icing sugar? Do you hunt ruthlessly for the one chocolate truffle, get your Vitamin C with orange cream, or just pop the lid off and swipe the rectangle hunk of plain milk chocolate sitting in the middle?

Well, whatever your pleasures, whatever your tastes, we both know it’s a beautiful moment when you score the chocolate you want from the box. After all, nothing’s worse than when your kid brother loses the little index page and you’re forced to play Russian Chocolate with your picks.

Except maybe coming across a box completely empty except for the cherry.


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Photos from: here

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#117 Driving down an old road with trees that touch overhead and cover all the sky

Sunshine scatters in speckled shadows on pebble-coated roads as you cruise through the neighborhood on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Tufts of grass punch through asphalt cracks, rusty sewers clink under your wheels, and kids race down crumbly sidewalks on wobbly bikes. Shimmery rays of sunlight flash and gleam off basketball rims, side mirrors, and banana-colored fire hydrants with thick chipped paint. Above it all, tall trees twist their crooked skinny fists to heaven while spreading their leathery leafy arms up and over the world. As you pass through the leafy green tunnel winds whisper through jagged branches, squirrels jump across tree tops, and everything zooms out as your world suddenly … stops.


Photo from: here

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#118 Completely crazy bets

It’s cold, it’s chilly, it’s November.

That’s why was strange when my friend Jenn was dropping her daughter off at school last week and noticed a student wearing shorts. “Wait, it’s freezing out,” she said to her daughter while zipping up her jacket and pulling her hat over her head. “Does that kid have Hot Leg Syndrome or something?”

“Nah,” her daughter replied, pulling her backpack on and climbing out the door. “He just has a bet going with another kid about who can keep wearing shorts the longest.”

I laughed when she told me this story because it reminded me of my college days when crazy bets were standard. I bet my roommate Dee a dollar he wouldn’t eat a nacho chip covered in Crisco (I lost), I entered a Sideburn-Off on who could grow the scraggliest muttonchops in a month (I lost), and I bet my friend Gillian she wouldn’t race around our cafeteria at full throttle and slide headfirst into our punnily-named drink station “Thirst Base.” (I lost, and thankfully the chocolate milk on tap wasn’t harmed.)

None of these bets made sense but they somehow made sense at the time.

The best crazy bets are like that.

Because we aren’t here forever and crazy bets add laughs to our days and our weeks. So what are you waiting for, betting geeks? It’s time to shake hands and enter a Beard-Off, it’s time to drop five on who’ll catch the kickoff, it’s time to steel your gaze for the Staring Contest Standoff. Yes, it’s time spin in circles fifty times the fastest, it’s time to see who’s after-dinner burp can be the nastiest, yes it’s time to tell the naysayers that crazy bets aren’t dumb, because it’s time for us all to recognize they’re part of the World Of


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#119 Watching butter melt on hot toast

When I drop a hard chunk of butter onto a slice of hot toast I like to pretend I’m an adventure guide helping a pack of rich tourists through some rough jungle terrain when we suddenly stumble upon some dangerous quicksand in our path. “Stay back,” I caution, squinting my eyebrow and holding my arm firmly to my side, causing the portly Hawaiian-shirt-and-binocular covered tourists to stop and stumble into each other.

“Shhhhh … watch this,” I whisper to them, my eyes popping wide as I fumble frantically in my backpack. They stare breathlessly in their brand new Tilley hats and hiking boots as I peel out a giant hunk of butter and toss it straight ahead of us. Toucans squawk overhead and snakes rattle in the bushes as we hold our breaths and watch the butter slowly melt into the unforgiving sea of brown. “Just what I thought,” I say to them.

“We’re toast.”

Seriously, that’s what watching butter melt on hot toast feels like to me. It’s mesmerizing seeing that white fatty block that came from a cow dissolve into invisible liquid and soak deeply into the crispy crust of hot bread. Next it’s time to scratch the butter in further with a knife … smear sticky sweet jam all over it … and then chomp right in.


Photos from: here

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#120 Anything served to you sizzling or just plain on fire at a restaurant

It all started with Murg Mirch Tikka.

About ten years ago when I was crashing full-time at my parent’s place my friend Stephen and I would drive downtown for the weekend jams. Of course, by weekend jams I mean chicken finger dinners at local pubs, birthday dinners at busy restaurants, and occasional nights full of sweaty dancing and street meat.

Back then a few of our friends loved Indian food so every few weeks we’d end up at a samosa-filled joint filled with pillowy soft naans and steaming curries that absorbed into all of our clothes. Whenever we ate there Stephen would get something called Murg Mirch Tikka, which ended up just being three massive hunks of red sizzling chicken. He would go crazy for the stuff, taking another order to go and stashing it in his trunk for the drive home. Sure, it was delicious, but I can’t explain his torrid love affair except to say that it sure is great when anything is served to you sizzling or on fire at a restaurant:

1. Chicken fajitas. I was always a sucker for the fajitas (pronounced “fa-jai-tas”) while my friend Stephen insisted they were just a way the kitchen to outsource labor costs. “I came here to eat,” he’d say, shoveling a greasy nacho into a pool of watery salsa. “Not spend half my time building my dinner.” Sure, the man had a point, but Stephen’s fat burrito wasn’t saying much while I enjoyed my sexy sizzling platter.

2. Saganaki at a Greek restaurant. Okay, have you had this before? It’s a hot pan of extremely salty cheese that’s lit on fire just before it’s served to you. The staff circles around and yells “Opa!” before dropping this appetizer in front of you and your friends. Perfect for anyone hoping to destroy their appetite by eating a pound of cheese.

3. Rice Krispies at a motel buffet. You’ve hit rock bottom if you count talking cereal, though I suppose it does beat the watered down orange drink, shiny rock-hard muffins, and imitation brand Froot Loops at the rest of the buffet.

4. Korean grilling. Okay, admittedly the thin strips of beef at a Korean Grill restaurant are served to you raw, but they sure do get sizzling when you toss them in that grill in the middle of your table. Cook ’em up, eat ’em up, go home happy.

5. Dessert on fire. Now I’ve never had this but I’ve heard epic tales of banana flambe and some rum-soaked cake lit on fire and brought to the table. Best enjoyed after a dinner of saganaki, chicken fajitas, and flaming Sambuca shots.

Yes, facts are facts, everybody: when something’s served sizzling or on fire at a restaurant it’s a beautiful moment. Conversation stops, jaws drop, and our entire body starts amping up for the first bite.


Photos from: here and here

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#121 When you’re fast forwarding your PVR and you stop exactly when your show starts

Does your station have a tell?

Sometimes it’s that little commercial before the break ends where the network just advertises itself for fifteen seconds. “Tune in afterwards for the news,” they say, as your eagle eyes and trigger thumb pound the “Play” button before the show begins.

Stop too early and you’ll be forced to sit through a painful seven or eight seconds of commercials. Stop too late and you’ll see your show whiz by while simultaneously trying to rewind and not pay attention at the same time.

Stop just right and you’re laughing.

Stop just right and you’re


Photo from: here

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#122 Using nature as a fridge or freezer

There were once no fridges.

Rooting beyond the purple stuff for Sunny D, popping open last night’s salty leftovers, and fishing out oily salad dressing that expired two years ago were dreams, dreams, they were all just dreams. Back then We The People stored food with uncold techniques like canning, drying, salting, and pickling. As you can imagine, dinner most nights was beef jerky, pickled onions, and canned peaches. And maybe a glass of pond water if you were lucky.

Of course, nowadays most of us have big humming boxes keeping our cola cold, milk fresh, and veggies crisp. It’s easy to take them for granted and get used to the ever-present convenience, but when your fridge is jammed, broken, or without power, you notice all right. Clumpy milk and hot yogurt get noticed all right.

That’s why it’s great using nature as a fridge or freezer.

If you’re from the snowy side of the planet you love tossing a few cans of Coke in a fishnet in a chilly lake, leaving frozen burgers outside by the barbecue, or planting a bottle of white wine on the back porch before the guests come over. Sure, sometimes the drinks get a little too cold or a bit covered in snow, but more often than not Ma Nature does the job jussssssssssssst fine.


Photos from: here and here

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#123 When someone in the movies gets hit in the crotch

Did you grow up with funny home video clips on TV?

I remember lying on my stomach in front of the TV with my face in my hands laughing out loud at Bob Saget’s fuzzy scenes and high-pitched voiceovers. My cousins and I would start rolling till tears streamed down our cheeks as cats fell off TVs, kiddie pools exploded, and old people’s pants fell down on the dance floor. Of course, when you took away those clips it was pretty much just a giant compilation of people getting nailed in the face by basketballs and smacked in the crotch by their hockey-stick-wielding toddlers.

And for some reason there’s just something universally funny about seeing someone on TV or in a movie get hit in the crotch. The absurdity of the situation gives us the nervous laughs, the surprise laughs, or maybe just a I’m-glad-that-didn’t-happen-to-me.


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#124 Your first job

I used to run a sandwich shop.

Yes, I was a rootin’, tootin’, mayo-squirting king in the dirty mustard-smeared sandwich underbelly. I helped manage about a dozen high school kids and together we fired sandwiches down an assembly line, into paper bags, and right on out the door. I tell you, we served up Deliciousness with a capital D, and I miss those long days full of dirty aprons, melted cheese, and unlimited refills.

Part of my job at the sandwich shop was conducting interviews. I ended up sitting down with a lot of teenagers who were applying for their first ever job. They came in toting dog-eared resumes that looked like the Microsoft Word template complete with skills like “Very punctual” and hobbies like “Insert hobbies here.”

I kept a notepad along the way and here are some actual excerpts from interviews I conducted back then.

Hold onto your mesh hats because we’re going in:

Me: So what did you end up doing when it got really busy at the sandwich place you used to work at?
Her: Oh, it wasn’t really a problem. We usually just locked the doors until we got through the lineup.
Me: You locked the doors?
Her: (confused) Yeah, but just until the line died down. We opened it up right after.
Me: Oh. That’s good.

Her: Also, another reason you should hire me is because I’ve always got along really well with people. …Well, except for a few people.
Me: What did you do in those situations? How did you guys figure things out?
Her: Well, I was her manager, so I just forced her to wash dishes in the back so no one would see her. Then she quit.
Me: Oh. Okay.
Her: And the other woman I didn’t like was really old.
Me: She was really old?
Her: Yeah. Way too old. Really old.
Me: Okay.

Me: Do you have a way to get to work?
Her: Well, I don’t have a car. But I might be able to take my sister’s car.
Me: Okay, cool. That’s not a problem?
Her: No. My sister’s boyfriend just… well, I don’t want to talk about it. My sister’s boyfriend just did something … and now she’s going to the East Coast… so I can probably get her car.
Me: Neat.

Me: What’s something you liked and didn’t like about your last job?
Her: I liked it because everyone was nice.
Me: What did they do?
Her: They were really nice.
Me: Okay. Was there anything you didn’t like about it?
Her: Some of the people weren’t that nice.
Me: So they weren’t all nice?
Her: No. I guess some were nice. Some weren’t nice.

Her: So yeah, I REALLY need a job right now.
Me: How long have you been looking?
Her: About a week. My insurance ran out last week.
Me: Oh, so you just started looking when it ran out then?
Her: Yeah. But I totally scored. I squeezed nine months out of them.
Me: … Congratulations.

Me: So do you have any questions about the restaurant?
Him: Yeah. Do you have an assorted sub?
Me: An assorted sub? Yeah. There are two different types of assorted subs.
Him: Cool. What’s on the first one?
Me: Well, it’s an Italian so it’s got salami, pepperoni, and ham.
Him: What about cheese?
Me: Yeah, there’s mozzarella.
Him: Sauce?
Me: Sauce? Oh, yeah, there’s vinaigrette on there. And it has tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and black olives, too.
Him: Hmm. …What’s on your steak sub?
(ten more minutes of him quizzing me on subs for no apparent reason)

Me: So you like to read?
Him: Yeah. I love reading. I really like fiction.
Me: That’s great. Are you reading anything right now?
Him: Yeah. Have you heard of a basketball player named Dennis Rodman?
Me: Yeah … are you reading Bad As I Want To Be? His autobiography?
Him: Yeah! (pause) It’s really good!
Me: Neat.

Me: So grab whatever you want. Lunch is on me. Then we’ll sit down and talk for a few minutes.
Him: I’ll have a turkey sub.
Girl behind counter: What size would you like?
Him: The biggest one.
Girl behind counter: Sure, anything else?
Him: Large coke.
Girl behind counter: Sure, anything else?
Him: Can I get a big cookie?
Girl behind counter: Sure, anything else?
Him: (looking at menu) Umm….
Me: (laughing) Do you eat at home?
Him: Yes.
Me: (laughing)
Him: (deadpan)
Me: (deadpan)
Him: (deadpan)

Me: So tell me about some of your hobbies.
Her: (ten second pause) Um… (giggles)
Me: Something you do after school?
Her: (lightbulb going off) Instant messenger?!
Me: Oh, yeah, Instant Messenger?
Her: Yeah! I like chatting with my friends.
Me: That’s cool. Is there anything else you do for fun? On any school teams or clubs?
Her: (ten second pause) Um… hanging out?
Me: Hanging out?
Her: (trying to explain it to me) Hanging out with friends?
Me: Right. Hanging out with friends.
Her: (happy I understand) Yeah!

Me: I’m going to give you a situation and I’d like to see how you think about it when you tell me what you would do, okay?
Her: Okay.
Me: Okay. You’re working the cash register. Suddenly a woman comes up to you holding a piece of plastic and complains that she found the plastic in her sandwich. She says to you that you broke her tooth and owe her a thousand dollars. What would you do?
Her: (scared face)
Me: It’s okay. There’s no right or wrong answer. Take your time.
(thirty seconds elapse)
Her: (holding scared face)
Me: It’s okay. Don’t worry. Take your time to think about it.
(thirty seconds elapse)
Her: Um. (giggles) Okay. I’m ready.
Me: Okay. What would you do?
Her: I’d give her the money.
Me: You’d give her a thousand dollars from the till?
Her: (realizing it probably sounds bad) Oh…uh, no! (long pause) I mean I’d give her my PERSONAL money.
Me: You’d give her a thousand dollars from your wallet?
Her: Yes.
(ten seconds of us staring at each other and blinking)

Me: Can you tell me about a problem you had while working with a group and how you resolved that problem?
Her: Um… (giggle)
Me: It’s okay. Take your time.
Her: Okay. (30 seconds pass) Okay, one time in marketing class I didn’t like my group so I did something else.
Me: You mean you left the group?
Her: Yeah. I asked the teacher if I could leave the group and she said yes. So I did some report or something.
Me: Oh, okay. And how did the rest of the group feel about it?
Her: I don’t know. They all stopped talking to me.
Me: Oh… okay. Well what didn’t you like about working with them?
Her: They were just ignorant.
Me: Can you tell me more about the project?
Her: Well, we had to make up a product and then advertise it. And we got cereal. But they wanted to make a cereal that was made out of rocks.
Me: Rocks?
Her: Yeah, I know. That’s why I left the group.
Me: They wanted to make a cereal out of rocks?
Her: Yeah.

Me: So you said you took marketing. What’s something you think we could do to help advertise the store?
Her: (thirty second pause, then a worried look)
Me: It’s okay. There’s no right or wrong answer. I’m just interested to see what you’d do to advertise.
Her: (nods, then another thirty second pause) Okay. I’m ready.
Me: Okay.
Her: I think you should do a whole bunch of TV ads?
Me: In this city?
Her: Yeah.
Me: Okay, okay, cool idea. What do you think that would cost?
Her: I don’t know. Probably a million dollars?

Me: How do you like your high school?
Her: It’s okay, but the teachers don’t like the kids. They think they know everything but they don’t. And all the kids are ignorant.
Me: Really? What are they ignorant about?
Her: Everything.
Me: (laughing) You mean because they think that a good breakfast cereal would be one with rocks in it?
Her: (confused look)

Well, honest and eager, we all once walked into our first job interview sweating buckets, too. But we learned a lot, we grew a lot, and eventually one day we got busy working.

So let’s stop for a moment today and remember that everything we know about work started way back on that very first gig. Whether it was flipping burgers, babysitting kids, or washing cars, all those of experiences added up to getting right where we are. Growing on the job, making office pals, and making a difference are all things worth respecting.

Today we say thanks to the job that started it all.


Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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