#983 That pile of assorted beers left in your fridge after a party


My friend Mike has rules for hosting parties. They go like this:

Under 25 years old: Party is BYOB. You can tell people if you want, but they should know. Bring your own beer. Bring your own mix. Bring your own bulk pack Cheetos.

25 – 30 years old: Host should have wine and beer stocked and there should be snacks available. You’re an old fart now so there’s a bit more party responsibility. Try and squeeze a trip in to pick up some booze between renewing your mortgage and seeing the doctor about your kidney stones.

30 – 40 years old: All of the above plus an open bar. If you follow Mike’s rules, this decade is going to hit the pocketbook a little bit.

Over 40 years old: Open bar plus catering plus staff. Prime time, baby.

So those are his rules.

My rules are: If you’re coming over bring a chair. See, because we rarely provide people with anything. No drinks, no seating, no toilet paper in the bathroom, and definitely no old butler walking around wearing tails and a pencil moustache asking if you’d like a seashell covered in truffle oil and swan liver.

Instead we stick a piece of paper on the front door telling you to meet us in the back, and then help you get started on the two six-packs you brought over. If you’re lucky, we might have a leftover bag of stale Doritos kicking around or maybe some puddings in the cupboard. If not, we’ll need your credit card to order a pizza.

I am an extremely cheap person. So I get a kick out of the random assortment of beers leftover in the fridge the morning after a party. You can basically play detective to figure out who was over the night before: Rock Star energy drink with vodka (night-shift worker trying to stay up), cans of Budweiser (grad student on a budget), Heineken in a bottle (yuppie couple with cubicle jobs), and bottles of Smirnoff Ice (girls).

Man, I love that random mish-mash of assorted beers and drinks in the fridge. Especially because it makes me feel like a better host the next time people come over.


Cheers to leftover beer

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#984 Eating the last piece of dessert somebody left at your house

Goodbye, old friend

Very occasionally, a kind soul will come over toting a homemade dessert made from some combination of apples, brown sugar, brownie batter, Skor bits, marshmallows, cherries, and oatmeal. They set their heavy glass dish down on our kitchen counter, and peel back the plastic bag to reveal an earth-toned rainbow of deliciosity. We gaze at its sweet beauty for a moment, but then look at the pile of cold weenies and bulk-pack of yellow macaroni salad laying on the counter, and walk away, knowing that we’ll get to that dessert later, just as soon as we fill our stomachs with all the cheap stuff everyone else picked up from the clearance rack.

And eventually it does happen — the end of the meal arrives and the hero dessert is paraded to the table with pomp, fanfare, forks, and a stack of plates. By now everyone is stuffed, and so while people dip into this rectangle of tastiness, they just don’t have room to send it back empty. It inevitably gets Saran-wrapped up and put in the fridge for leftovers, hasty promises made to return the dish another time.

And that’s when it gets interesting. I’m a pretty big fan of dessert. I like its style. I think it’s cool. And so I eat it as soon as possible. I have a piece here, I have a piece there. It replaces bread the next morning at breakfast, starch the next evening at dinner. I really get on that dessert. I chip away at it until eventually there is only one piece left. And it is the consumption of that last piece, that final, beautiful square of leftover homemade dessert that is always the sweetest.

See, by this point it’s an old friend. I know it’s taste well, having succumbed to its vice-like grip over me for a few days since the party. I may actually be sick of it, but I would never admit it. All I know is that there’s a few mere minutes of enjoying its company left forever. It is a very happy yet very sad time.

There are some ways that eating the last remaining piece of dessert can be made sweeter, though:

  1. First up, eating it cold. When that dessert is only a couple feet away from your mouth, there really is no time allowed for heating. (+1 point)
  2. Next, eating it straight from the big serving dish. This is tricky, because if you’re watching TV you need to awkwardly lift a three-pound glass dish with one hand so you can shovel it into your mouth with the other. Be careful for wobbling. (+2 points)
  3. Methodically scraping every last crumb, ring of dried icing, and molecule of congealed syrup out of the dish, even getting up and getting a spatula if you have to. Licking is optional here, but may be necessary. (+3 points)
  4. The big one: thinking about the dessert just before you’re about to fall asleep or when you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Thinking about it and not being able to get it out of your head until you walk to the kitchen, your feet freezing on the cold linoleum, touch-grabbing your way through the black maze of your apartment, until you pop open that refrigerator door, its bright light beaming out at you like the gates of heaven opening, and you just grab that saran-wrapped slice of greatness and eat it right on up. (+10 points)


This is the end, beautiful friend

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#985 Eating things past the expiry date

Date Coke becomes clear and salty

I used to follow expiry dates like gospel, figuring the sour cream would sweeten, the ice cream would melt, and the rice would crumble into dust the morning after after the the block-stamped date on the bottom of the package had passed. If the expiry date was closing in, I’d just cut my losses and chuck it. “Better safe than sorry,” I’d say, tossing a half-full carton of orange juice off the wall and into the garbage.

Then for the two years while I lived with Joey in Boston, I witnessed him first-hand casually disregard expiry dates with a wave of the hand and a slight laugh. “What’s going to happen?,” he’d ask sarcastically, putting together a salad with brown Romaine, rock-hard croutons, and Caesar dressing that poured out a film of oil before the dressing came out. “Am I going to die?”

And he had a point. While the nutritional content of last month’s blueberries may have slipped a notch, as long as they weren’t growing spores or starting to smell like a diaper, how bad could they be? I watched Joey carefully from a distance for a while, looking for signs that he was putting himself at risk. But no, nothing. He kept right on standing. No retching from his bedroom late at night, no disappearing rolls of toilet paper and clogged pipes, no sudden hospital visits after eating doggie-bag chicken wings from someone’s birthday party a month before. He was all right.

And so with newfound courage I slowly started testing the waters. Cans of soda seemed like easy first targets. I don’t even remember them having expiry dates when I was a kid, and so the terse finger-wagging printed on the bottom of the aluminum can seemed like a bit of a joke. Who throws away an unopened can of Diet Pepsi? I suppose Pepsi would love it if we just bought their stuff, stashed it for a while, and then threw it out. But I would no longer stand for that. So I conquered soda, then branched out into potato chips. They go stale when you don’t seal them, they stay fresh when you do, right? So the date probably applied if you left them sitting in a bowl on your coffee table, I eventually figured. I bought them, I’ll eat them, even if it takes me till Christmas.

It was tougher to be brave with bread and milk, but I convinced myself that worst-case scenario I was just eating penicillin and cheese. I pictured a cracker with a square of brie and a pink capsule squished right into it and I thought “That’s not that bad.”

And so it went. Buying groceries just for myself got easier, knowing that I had the newfound strength to down yellow orange juice or slice up onions that had grown roots and were searching desperately for soil under my kitchen sink. Plus, I saved a lot of money, and I like to think I helped give my immune system some tough new cases to crack, like sending it to the gym for some strength training and mental focusing so it’s ready for prime time. This way I’m ready in case I ever get shot with a poison dart or mistake a glass of paint thinner for water.

Now, I’m not advocating being stupid. The fuzzy lampchops should probably still be left alone. But come on, let’s hear it for pushing a little bit harder. Let’s here it for testing the waters. Let’s hear it for eating things past the expiry date.



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#986 When you pull up to a red light and the guy in front of you nudges 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 the 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

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#988 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.


The gas arrow

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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 flying 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.

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 which is getting the 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


A key ingredient

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

The devilI’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

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 for 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.

Waiting for youWhen 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.


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