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Dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with my parents

Dad: How long have we been waiting for a table? Thirty minutes? Jesus Christ!

Paul: What is this thing they gave me? A vibrating disc? I’m supposed to lug this thing around? For crying out loud!

Mom: Look at this restaurant! It’s lovely.

The vibrating disc comes alive, vibrating and flashing its lights.

Hostess: It’s flashing? Okay, great! Just stand over here and we’ll find a table for you.

Dad: What is this, another line? Jesus Christ!

Paul: We were waiting in line just to wait in a second line? Is this a restaurant or a doctor’s office? For crying out loud!

How to write a column

People often ask me questions about this column. I’ve written it for eight years – over 400 columns in all, with an additional 600 from when I used to write daily columns on my website – and the question people ask most is how I think up new ideas each week. Well, the short answer is that I don’t. I’ve actually been rotating the same two years worth of columns since 2002. No one has noticed.

I’m kidding, of course. I’ve never run the same column twice. The real answer to how I think up so many ideas is that I drink a lot. A lot. Every Sunday morning I wake up, drink three quarts of gin, and then blackout for the rest of the day. When I wake up Monday morning an hour late for work, I’ll usually find a finished column scribbled on the back of a Denny’s placemat, or carved into the leg of a dead hooker.

I’ll spend my first hour at work typing the column and e-mailing it to my editor, and my second hour at work discreetly transporting the dead hooker from my car to a dumpster behind my workplace, where she will eventually be eaten by hobos. I’ll then spend the remaining five hours at work e-mailing obscene sexual comments to Chelsea Clinton, as I have done for five hours every weekday since 1996.

I want to be a horse

In first grade, all the kids in my class were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. Some said they wanted to be president or a movie star. Others had more reasonable goals of being firemen, police officers, or doctors. One girl said she wanted to be a horse.

I never really had an answer for the question. When the teacher asked me, I seem to remember replying with something witty like, “I’m six, I don’t fucking know,” though the brashness of that answer seems to suggest I’ve forgotten my actual answer and employed some creative license in its place. Anyway, the point is that I didn’t know what to say.

In my heart, I knew I wanted to wake up at noon every day, eat cold pizza out of a box on the floor, play video games for 12 hours until the soreness in my hands caused them to freeze into a hideous claw, and then fall asleep watching late night Cinemax movies wherein ladies with unreasonably large bosoms have problems that only uncomfortable-looking sex on patio furniture can solve.

I almost wrote a book again

I have exciting news to announce, reader. I’m writing a book of humorous essays. This book will be available in stores June 4, 2043.

Why such a long wait? Well, first of all, I’m lazy. I can barely be bothered to shower daily. Asking me to author an entire book any sooner than 33 years from now is just wishful thinking. Second, I have the attention span of a small dog. These columns are 850 words because that’s all I can write before seeing the mailman out the window and getting distracted. Third, by waiting 33 years, I figure I may be able to increase my readership from three people to upwards of 12 total readers, quadrupling my potential profits.

Of course, in 33 years my parents will either be senile or deceased, which wipes out two of my three current readers, but I can counteract this by getting married and having 7-12 children whom I will force at gunpoint to read my work.

You should buy my book, reader. Obviously I can’t force you at gunpoint, like I will with my kin, but I assure you it will be well worth your hard-earned dollars. You can read all about the time I drunkenly stumbled nearly seven miles from The Anchor Bar in Superior to my college house at the top of the hill in Duluth. You can also read great stories from my Los Angeles years, like the one day I spent as a production assistant on the Playboy TV show “Jenna Jameson’s Who Wants to be a Porn Star.”

Everyone loves groupies

When I was young and this column was first starting to build a readership, I had delusions of grandeur. It wasn’t anything too crazy. I didn’t think I was going to become rich or famous, but I had one dream in particular that I felt would come true. I thought to myself, “Someday I’ll be walking down the street, and a hot lady I’ve never met who reads this column will express her desire to have sex with me.”

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I still hold this horribly flawed belief. The fact that I’ve been writing this column for eight years and only one person has ever recognized me in public – some dude working the front desk of a Best Western motel, who neither confirmed nor denied that he liked my column, only that he had read it – has no bearing on my beliefs. I truly, honestly believe that sooner or later, I’ll be sitting at an Arby’s or something and a bosomy newspaper groupie will sprint up to me and sexily whisper in my ear, “I laughed really hard at that joke you wrote about farting. Would you like to come back to my place?”

Ladies reading this column may think I’m insane, but if you ask around, you’ll find that this is not a delusion that is exclusive to guys who write for mediocre alt-weekly newspapers, host boring college radio programs at three in the morning, or play in shitty local bands. Even guys who just work regular jobs and do nothing in the public eye often think to themselves, “Someday, I’ll be walking to the convenience store in my stained sweatpants, and a hot lady will appear, notice how awesome I am, have sex with me for no reason whatsoever, and then disappear into the evening.”