#986 When you pull up to a red light and the guy in front of you moves up a bit so you can make a right turn

You don\'t have to put on the red light

Don’t you love it when you pull up to a red light in the right lane, and the guy in front of you notices and squeezes out into the intersection a bit, just so you can make your right turn a bit faster? What a great thing that is. Careful though — now it’s your job to give a sincere Thank-You Wave as you drive by, because you know they’re waiting for it and besides, did they just shave twenty seconds off your commute or what?


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#987 Picking a perfect nacho off someone else’s plate

No two nachos are created equally.

When somebody offers you a nacho from their appetizer plate at a restaurant or while on the couch at home in front of a movie, you need to move fast:

  1. First up, quickly scan their entire plate. What stage is this offer being made? Are you in the game when the plate is hot and full, or are we dealing with mostly crumbs and surplus jalapenos at this point? Size up the prize and give a quick yes or no.
  2. Now if you’re going in, don’t wait too long to make your move. If it’s obvious you’re putting too much thought into it, you’ll come across as selfish. Definitely don’t move any toppings around to build yourself a massive All-In Salad Nacho, but there’s no need to pull out that bland, naked chip at the bottom of the Jenga stack either. You weren’t offered crumbs and you don’t deserve crumbs. Remember that.
  3. Next up, locate your prey and dive in. Everyone has their personal preferences, though I’m a big fan of 90 – 100% melted cheese coverage and about 25-50% salsa coverage. Any less cheese coverage, and it’s just taco shell to me. Any more salsa coverage and I feel like I’m drinking the stuff. And hey, if I grab an olive, green onion, or jalapeno, that’s great too, but I don’t push my luck. Lastly, for my money, you can keep that shredded lettuce. That’s just grated water in my books.

Bottom line: know your tastes, size up the game, and dig in quickly. Mastering that perfect pick is a valuable life skill.

Now go grab life by the nachos.


It\'s in there somewhere

Well, here we are years later and The Book of Awesome has been on the bestsellers list for 8 straight years and we’ve sold over 1,000,000 copies!

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#988 The Gas Arrow

The gas arrow

Put your hand up if you’ve ever driven your car up to a gas pump only to notice after you’ve parked that your gas cap is on the other side.

My brother, if your hand is up right now, you are not alone.

See, some cars I’ve driven have the ol’ gas hole on the starboard side and some on port. Due to my unfortunate afflication with gasholenorememberititis, I’m always parking the car the wrong way. Sure, I try desperately to notice a little gas-cap bulge in the side mirror when I pull up, craning my head wildly in both directions, and generally pretty sure I caught quick glimpse of it as I pull in. But then I get out, notice I messed up, pound my fist on the trunk, give a sheepish toothy grin to the attendant, and then have to pull off a quick and awkward seven-point-turn before anyone moves in to steal my spot.

It is a terrible thing.

But guess what? High fives all around the room, because there is hope for People Like Us. Shockingly, I have recently discovered The Gas Arrow! Yes, believe it, driving fans, because it truly exists. The Gas Arrow is a little, tiny arrow right beside the picture of the gas pump, which tells you which side your car’s gas hole is on! I know, it’s crazy. And I guess whoever is responsible for marketing really dropped the ball on this one, because nobody I asked (n=3) has even noticed this before!

Yes, just look at that Gas Arrow, head-nodding casually to the left or the right, a classy pal just trying to tip you off real subtle like. It’s like a flashlight in a storage closet, a lighthouse on a foggy pier, a finger pointing at what you’re supposed to look at.

The great, noble Gas Arrow, telling you which way to park your stupid car.

So thanks Gas Arrow, for the big helper. Until car companies start putting gas holes on both sides of the car or they invent a new wireless gas that lets you fill up through your radio, I think I can speak for all of humanity when I say that we love you and everything you stand for.


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#989 Blowing your nose in the shower

Squeeze that nostril

When you wake up with your ol’ nose holes filled to the brim with thick, slow-moving night-phlegm, there’s only one solution. That’s right. Get up, stumble to the shower, and let’s get down to business.

First, that hot steam needs to get the job started. Those tiny flying water molecules are like miniature chisels, floating right on up your nose and hammering away at the Wall of Salty Nose Gel blocking your air passages.

At the same time those chisels are working their magic, another old friend shows up just in time to lend a hand as well: our old pal gravity. Just standing up lets the night-phlegm know you mean business, and that you’ll employ the use of any weapon necessary to get those air passages cleared up for the long day ahead.

So now you’re in the shower. You’re totally soaked at this point — front and back got a rinse at least, maybe a tummy wash in there — and everything sure is all hot and steamy, nice and thick like a blanket of fog off an English coast.

At this point you should feel a bit of a tickle high inside your nose, as the wall slowly starts to give away. Now is not the time for complacency. “Oh, I’ll just let gravity and steam finish what they started,” is what you should not say. No, now is the time to attack!

There are three steps to pull it off:

  1. Place your thumb right on the outside of one of your nostrils — preferably the one getting better airflow at the moment. By doing this you essentially drop a massive two-by-four across your airway’s emergency exit door. Now there is no way for that air to get out of your lungs, except for your other nostril. And your mouth, of course.
  2. Close your mouth.

… So, how was it? Did it do the job? If not, you probably still feel clogged up. You’re out of breath, tired, and frustrated. But I hope that didn’t happen to you. I hope you broke the translucent nosespit dam wall right on down. I hope you blew that clear, slick membrane of headglue away. If you did the job right, your hand should now look like you just squeezed the life out of a baby jellyfish. And if does, I want to give you my sincere congratulations. Because you, my friend, are incredibly


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#990 Picking up a q and u at the same time when playing Scrabble

The devil

I’m the world’s worst Scrabble player.

Every time it’s my turn I see other players lose interest as they get ready for a long wait. I feel bad, so I stare intensely at my pieces trying desperately to conjure up a word longer than three letters or else suffer their complaints that I’m “really clogging up the board.” A couple minutes of silence will pass before somebody says “Hey, you know what this game should have? A time limit, ha ha ha ha ha!!!” And everybody laughs and smiles at me and I look up to grin and then stare back down at my letters quickly. I stare at those letters and stare hard. A few more minutes of silence will pass and then I look up, grimace slowly, and offer up one of my two classic lines:

  1. “Sorry guys, I’ve got like all vowels over here,” or
  2. “I’m really sorry. It’s like Consonant Central over here, guys. I’ll be just another minute unless Jgrfkll is a word.”

A couple people nod and smile at my lame joke, someone idly turns on the TV and starts flipping channels, and another will generally grab a section of the newspaper and head to the can. I frantically rearrange my letters over and over again, silently praying rebuke, jinxed, or fibula will appear on my little wooden tray by accident.

Consonant CentralMy nerves fraying, my heart drum-thumping, I’ll eventually put down a lame four-letter word like bill or lamp in an act of desperation. “Eight points,” I’ll whisper to the scorekeeper, while turning the board and nodding to the other players to move along.

… See, part of my problem is that I draw letters like j, z, or q at the beginning of the game and they end up haunting me all the way through. That big q is the worst of all. It holds its powerful 10 points over my head, just daring me to draw one of the four u‘s in the game so I can lay it down. I spell my letters out in arrangements like q_ick, q_ote, and q_iet, ready and waiting for a u at any time, but generally no dice, or at least no dice for a while. I got qat or I got nothing.

And so you see that’s why, in my books, there is no better Thing To Happen To You In A Boardgame than picking a q and a u at the same time in Scrabble. I say it beats building two hotels on Boardwalk in Monopoly or drawing a perfect brontosaurus in Pictionary during an All Play.

If I get that q and u together in Scrabble, then it’s all me all the time, baby. Doors open, and I quite quietly and quickly quash all quack queries from my competitors. And baby, you know how that makes me feel.


The goal

Illustration from: here

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#991 Really, really old Tupperware containers

Watch your retinasFound in dusty kitchen cupboards and dishwasher top-shelves across this wide, great land, really, really old Tupperware is as handy today as it was twenty, thirty, forty years ago. That famous Tupperware “burping seal” still holds strong, and you can bet your boombox that banana bread will stay moist, those chopped celery sticks crisp, that leftover lasagna slice fresh. Yes, all is well in this tight vacuum-sealed Chamber of Taste-Preservation.

Really, really old Tupperware is mostly found in three colors: Stovetop Green, Pylon Orange, or The Core Of The Sun Yellow (pictured). Optional features include novelty 1950s floral patterns or deep tomato stains, from that time someone put leftover chili in there and shoved it in the back of the freezer for two years.

One thing I enjoy doing is thinking about all the different kinds of food a particular piece of Tupperware has tupperwared shut over the years. Apparently Tupperware has been around since 1946, so we’re talking about the full tastebud timeline — from lard burgers, creamed corn casseroles, and Jello salads to hemp brownies, parsley soup, and tofu cookies to pizza pockets, Hungry Man leftovers, and astronaut ice-cream pellets.

Really, really old Tupperware has been there, sealed that, and lived to tell the tale. It’s a throwback to the simpler life, when things like airtight seals meant something. Something real. Something honest.

Something worth believing in.


Tupper Rainbow

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#992 Being the first table to get called up to the dinner buffet at a wedding

Your throneWeddings can go one of two ways.

Either you’re tight like twins with the bride or groom — a sibling maybe, college roommate, or grandmother. You’re on The Inside, recommending photographers, hosting showers, renting tuxes, giving toasts. For you, the wedding is a great day, a proud moment, a chance to recognize and celebrate someone you love dearly.

Or…you’re on The Outside. You’re the groom’s doctor, the bride’s new boss, or worst of all, the cousin-date. You’re only there because it would have been rude not to invite you, so you RSVP past the deadline, squeeze into dress clothes from prom, and drink before the reception. You sit at the back table with a lot of people you don’t know and introduce yourself to at least one half of the newly married couple late at night on the dance floor during Mambo #5. “You look really great,” you scream over Lou Bega’s thumping beats, a nearly full Corona swinging wildly in your hand. “I’m Cory, by the way. I work with Linda.”

If you’re on The Inside, the entire wedding is great for you. You tear up during speeches, take two hundred pictures, and dance until the lights come up, your hair sweat-glued to your forehead, big toes popping through fresh holes in your nylons at two in the morning.

If you’re on The Outside, you’re scoping out bridesmaids, eating other people’s wedding favor chocolates, and ordering off the menu at the bar.

When you’re on The Outside there is no greater wedding high than being the first table to get called up to the dinner buffet. Suddenly you’re on The Inside, honorary winner of the prestigious Gets To Eat Before Everyone Else award, dipping your ladle into Alfredo sauce before it films over, toothpicking meatballs before they congeal into sugary meat pyramids, surgically removing the perfect first triangle of cheesecake before the serving dish gets all gummed up with clumpy graham cracker paste and marischino cherry glue.

Yes, you walk back to your table a newly crowned king, sitting down at your chair-facing-the-bathroom-at-Table-#31 throne, lord and ruler of your much-too-loaded plate buried in rolled up salami cold cuts, potato salad, and gherkins.


Waiting for you

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#993 Big fat baseball players

Let me tell you how many eggs I put in my omelette.If you ever find yourself playing professional sports and someone from the stands yells out “Come on, Big Bopper!,” you’re probably a fat baseball player. Fat baseball player, thank you for giving us that simplest thing of all.


See, because usually when we see those tricep flabs shaking in the wind and those bathroom scales exploding into a mess of springs going in all directions, we figure that our professional sports careers are pretty much over. Ain’t too much room on the hockey bench or the soccer pitch for us husky folks, and so, with our dreams sidelined, we sign up for night school VCR repair courses and start staining furniture in the garage, channeling our energies away from the games we love into our Plan Bs and Cs.

But that’s where you come in. To the Cecil Fielders, John Kruks, and C.C. Sabathias of the world: Thank you for keeping our dreams alive to one day be a platoon Designated Hitter. Thank you for being


The dream

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#994 Waiters and waitresses who bring you free refills without asking

Ice coldOn the whole, we’re pretty nasty to waiters and waitresses. We complain they’re wasting our time if the food takes too long to come, we complain they’re trying to rush us out if the food comes too early. We warn about allergies, make special requests, ask for more bread, and talk openly about their tip while they’re busing the table next to us. We’re kings barking orders from the booth and they’re sweating peasants in aprons and pieces of flair with dirty J-cloths hanging out their back pocket.

Waiters and waitresses have to put up with us and paste wide, toothy grins across their faces, besides. They split bills, sop up spills, and slip and slide across slick kitchen floors for us.

Despite this all-odds-against-them setup, there are a few gems out there, a few rare, bright gems, who deliver perfect waiter or waitressessness. Perfection here is defined solely as bringing free refills to the table without us even asking. Because nothing beats ice-filled towers of cola arriving unannounced at our table, just as we’re finishing up our spinach and artichoke dip for a perfectly timed palate cleanse before the big entrée. The only things that come close are ice-filled towers of cola arriving unannounced right after the entrée and ice-filled towers of cola arriving unannounced with the check and handful of mints.

…Three hours later, when you lay bloated on the coach, your entire meal swimming in the carbonated sea that is your digestive system, I know your eyelids will droop heavily and your posture will slide, but I also know you’ll give a thin, subtle smile, and a slow, sure thumbs-up sign when anyone asks “How was dinner?”


Free refill is on its way

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#995 Finding money in your old coat pocket

An old roommate of mine was sifting through and tossing out some old birthday cards once when a crisply entombed twenty dollar bill slid out of a faded card from Grandma. Her eyebrows perked up, her mouth formed a perfect O, and she raised her hand up top for a high five, which I promptly delivered.

Finding a bill zipped up in last year’s ski jacket, laying wet and crumpled in the washing machine, or folded in the pocket of your booze-smelling blazer is such a great high. There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but this sure comes close.

Such a great highFinding your own money is a lot like discovering an entirely new currency, one that cannot be used to pay down debts or obligations, but only has value when purchasing stuff you probably don’t need and wouldn’t have bought otherwise, like an old-school beanie cap, novelty ten-pound Toblerone bar, or high-octane gasoline. It is disposable income in the truest sense of the phrase.

For the pessimists out there, you may be saying “Barumph! That money has been all chewed up by time and inflation, slowly losing value and unaccumulating interest while prices ramp right on up, making my life less and less affordable. That found money could have purchased more before I lost it than it can today, so why should I celebrate my own stupidity?”

But Pessy, come on, we’re talking about found money here — money that hasn’t been budgeted for, accounted for, remembered for, promised for, or owed for, anything at all, since you lost it! Surely the few sacrificed cents of interest in the bank are a small price to pay for holding that folded up bill, right up to the sky, in your tightly clenched fist, with no claims to satisfy. Sure, it may smell a bit like mothballs, Tide, or Grandma’s skin cream, but that money still works. And it works well.

So let’s call found money what it really is then.


New form of currency

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