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Hello McDonald’s, goodbye dignity

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

I’ve tried everything to find employment, but nothing has worked. Not even the shaving cream trick.

I learned the theory of this trick from my dad. When I was a kid, he used to do “The cigarette trick” in restaurants, where if our food was taking a while to arrive, he’d light up a new cigarette and Murphy’s Law would cause the server to bring the food 10 seconds later. He’d have to stub out a perfectly good cig, but it was worth it if he was hungry.

I’m currently unemployed and waiting for job offers, and since there’s no worse time for the phone to ring than when your face is covered in shaving cream, I’ve made sure to shave every single day, and take an extra long time doing it. If Murphy’s Law holds true, the shaving cream trick should make my phone ring.

But it hasn’t. I would happily bury my cellphone in a swimming pool full of shaving cream if it meant getting a steady paycheck, but tricks based on depilatory cream are no match for our current dismal economy. So here I stand, a moron staring longingly at his phone as shaving cream melts off his face. I need to find a trick that makes me look like less of an idiot.

A nation of poop sandwiches

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

It was a warm night, heat still rising off the cracked pavement of the old road. A pair of eyes shone out of the darkness, fixated on my car as I crept through slow traffic. I moved and the eyes followed, tracking me like a fratboy ogling an underage girl: Never approaching, just staring.

A car turned, shining light on the predator. It was a police officer crouched near the side of the street, radio in hand. He was trying to appear inconspicuous, but stuck out like an elderly man jerking off at the movies. I passed and he stared eerily at the next driver, shooting her the same icy glare.

“What the hell was that?” I wondered. Why was he staring at me? Had I forgotten to wear clothes while driving again? Had I drank seven beers before leaving the house? Had I murdered someone and left the trunk open, exposing the corpse? All were very likely possibilities. I mulled it over some more before it finally hit me: Today was July 1, the day California’s cellphone-free driving law went into effect. The officer was looking for cellphone users and radioing ahead to another officer in a patrol car.

The Elsens were right

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

It was a beautiful afternoon when I stepped up to the plate for what would be one of three strikeouts that day. The catcher crouched into position, the pitcher set himself, and my eyes focused on the mound with a deep concentration that few people could break.

“Hey, Nintendo!” shouted a boy from the dugout, mocking my hilariously narrow stance at the plate. “You forgot your balls in the dugout! You brought your pussy to the plate instead!”

I grumbled and focused again, determined to regain my composure. There was silence now, and my confidence returned. From the chain-link fence behind the plate came another voice, nearly identical to the one in the dugout. “Swing and a miss, comin’ up! Swing and a miss!”

It was the boy in the dugout’s father, and they were mocking me together. They were the Elsens, and their sole form of entertainment in life seemed to be my inability to excel at high school sports. I had become a source of father-son bonding for them. My suckiness was killing the team, but it was strengthening the Elsen family.

Dear Penthouse Forum

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

Dear Penthouse Forum,

I never thought this would happen to me, but I got laid off last week.

No, not laid. I didn’t have sex. I got laid off. From my job. Sure, maybe this letter isn’t in the same spirit as most of the letters you print, but I’ve written to Penthouse Forum so many times that you’ve become like a best friend. A best friend who has an unending string of erotic encounters with sexy co-workers and his mother’s naughty friends, and who charges me $4.99 to hear them.

Remember when I wrote you that letter about the older woman I met in Kmart whose “leathery skin was like a saddle, worn from overuse but begging to be ridden again”? That was fake, but it was probably the sexiest letter you’ve ever refused to print. Remember when I wrote you about how I seduced my 48-year-old neighbor, whose “body was like a rusty old Dodge Caravan, large and full of odd noises”? You didn’t print that one either. Fortunately it was also merely a fantasy. But remember when I told you the tale of that hooker I slept with who looked like Nancy Reagan? That one was true, and you still didn’t print it.

If you can shower in two minutes, you have failed

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

How long did you spend in the shower this morning, reader? 10 minutes? 15 minutes? You greedy sack of shit. How dare you! Mother Earth is screaming in pain as you overwash your genitals! Mother Earth also screams every time you shave, do laundry, or flush a toilet that only has urine in it.

I recently read an article about eco-friendly college houses where a whiteboard is placed outside the bathroom. The residents record how long it took them to shower that morning, and the winner gets the satisfaction of knowing they did the poorest job of washing themselves.

The day the reporter visited the house, the winning shower was two minutes and 18 seconds. I suppose that’s not hard when you skip the unnecessary parts of showering, like getting wet or washing your body with soap. Why not just line everyone up in the backyard each morning and spray them with the hose?

Two minutes is way too short. It takes me at least five minutes in my daily shower to mutter angrily about all the things I hate in my life. Then I spend a few minutes washing my hair and soaping myself, and then I fall asleep standing up. My shower ends when the hot water in my apartment runs out and I wake up.