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Archives: Aug 2009

You should quit the high school football team

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

It’s time for the high school football season, wherein unexceptional athletes across the nation will be cheered on by classmates, parents, and creepy middle-aged men who never got laid in high school and sit in the bleachers by themselves gawking at 16-year-old girls.

It’s been 12 years since I was in high school, yet every year around this time I still celebrate the fact that I no longer have to report to football practice. I recline in a comfortable chair, crack open a beer, and make a toast to not spending most of August stuck in a locker room with half-naked dudes who smell like a thousand farts unleashed at the same time.

My memories of football practice are plentiful. The fresh-cut grass, the warm sun shining on my face, the camaraderie amongst teammates, the butterflies in my stomach before the first day, the sharp tension before a big play, the exercise, the discipline, the teamwork: These are all things I deeply oppose and despise, even today.

I’d be better if I were black and had a mustache

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

We all have changes we’d like to make in our lives. Some of us wish we were taller, or thinner, or that we had checked how many feet we were from the nearest elementary school before we sold narcotics to that plain clothes police officer. Some of us wish for money, or fame, or a few bottles of classy booze that doesn’t give us the trots. Often our whole lives seem molded around our desires, with any hope of happiness shackled to the pursuit of things we can’t have.

I live a good life. I’m not rich, but I’m healthy. I have a college degree, I have a family that loves me, and I have no noticeable birth defects or mental disabilities from my parents’ many decades of cocaine abuse. To many of the world’s less fortunate, my life is pure perfection. Yet I can’t stop thinking how much greater my life would be if I were black and had a mustache.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘You have a college degree, a good family, and now you also want to be a cool black guy with a mustache? That’s just greedy.” It is, reader, but I won’t apologize for it. I’ve spent 30 years of my life working hard and playing by the rules, and I think I’ve earned the right to be a poised, aplomb black guy whose mustache inspires trust. Like a mustachioed Sidney Poitier.

Jerks can’t find me

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

Did you know I once got drunk at a party, threw up all over their upstairs hallway, and then left? Did you know I once paid $30 for a pill of ecstasy, only to find out later that it was herbal and contained no actual drug effects? Did you know that during college, my roommates and I used to go to a grocery store where our friend worked and get $100 worth of groceries for $6 because she wouldn’t scan half the items and would enter in a bunch of generic coupons for the items she did scan?

No, you wouldn’t know this stuff, because unlike the rest of you dopes, I have a generic first and last name that can’t be searched on the internet. Want to find me on Facebook? There are over 500 results, 16 of those people in Los Angeles. Want to find me on Twitter? I went through about 50 results before I stopped looking. Want to find me on MySpace? You won’t, because I’m not in a band and I’m not a child molester.

If you search for Paul Ryan on Google, you’ll find the Wisconsin Congressman, the Marvel Comics artist, the fictional character on “As the World Turns”, the headmaster at Princethorpe College, the captain and mine warfare expert in the Navy, the gay theater director/actor/author/comedy coach/corporate speaker, and the internet search coding expert who works for Microsoft. You won’t find me, because depressingly enough, I’m less talented than all these people.

Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

It’s 6am and Gladys Neumann is sleeping comfortably in her bed. She pulls her soft sheets and comforter up to her shoulders and sighs happily. Outside, a bird sings below her window before poking the dirt with its beak. Squirrels playfully chase each other up the trunks of trees. The wind pushes the scent of lilacs softly into her room.

After a moment of silence, a floorboard creaks and the door to Neumann’s room softly clicks shut. She sits up, startled. A man in a dark suit and sunglasses sits in a chair in the corner. His smile is warm and kind.

“Good morning, Mrs. Neumann,” says the man. “I’m from the government. I’m here to wish you a happy 60th birthday.”

“Oh, it is my birthday today!” says Mrs. Neumann. “That’s just lovely. I didn’t know you folks did that.”

“It’s government policy, maam. We visit everyone on their 60th birthday. I also brought you a present.”

The man pulls a .45 Magnum from his pocket and shoots Neumann three times in the head.

“That’ll teach that healthy old bitch to keep living,” says the man. “Add another $7,900 per year back in the government’s pocket! Mission accomplished.”

Let me borrow your children for a month

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

Summer is almost over, and you’re not sure how much more you can take. These damn kids of yours are driving you insane, and you need some relief. If they roll their eyes at you one more time, you might just knock them unconscious with a shovel and bury them alive in the backyard.

Well it’s not too late, folks. Just because it’s August doesn’t mean your precious, horrible child can’t still get a rewarding, fully unpaid summer internship with me, famous newspaper columnist Paul Ryan. It’s like getting an internship with Maya Angelou, if Maya Angelou were untalented and living off extended unemployment benefits.

I know what you’re thinking. You think the Reader Weekly is the laughing stock of the community. You think I’m an unpaid volunteer who can’t get published legitimately anywhere else. You suspect that I don’t have a real office and couldn’t possibly offer any benefit to your child’s education. Well, you’re certainly not wrong. But as long as your child is fetching me coffee and spending most of their day staring out a window and sighing, it’s as valid as any other internship, and pretty much identical to their future real world job.