Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I was pleased to see recent media fuss when it was announced that “OMG” and “LOL” were born last week.
Of course, these obnoxious words have been around for it seems like years or maybe I’m just confusing the words themselves with the people who use them.
I’ve always known people who, “OMG!” were shocked by things like the daily sunrise and would “LOL!” at banal Facebook observations.
But there’s nothing I can do within the crush of laws concerning unlawful imprisonment of people who say those things so we might as well celebrate the birth of two new words, even words that connote dimwits.
And by birth, I mean recognition of the words by the Oxford English Dictionary.
We don’t think words and phrases have birthdays, but the venerable Oxford English Dictionary does. It lists exactly when almost all of the nearly 600,000 words in the English language entered the lexicon.
Some of these singular words say as much about society and our advances as entire essays.
For instance, both “Weight Watchers” and “all-you-can-eat” were born in 1961. So were “doomsayer,” “moonshot,” “rehab” and “advertorial.” Some words that were new then are passe already (“dial-up” and “splashdown”).
I am looking forward to my 50th birthday in 2013 and will be pleased to blow out the candles with the word “boink.” I’m tickled that the OED says both boink and I were born the very same year.
Boink is a splendid word, not to mention pastime, so it pleases me that we’re aging together hand-in-hand.
Of course, you won’t hear me doing a lot of bragging that the OED felt the need to recognize the word “dipshit” the same year I was born.
It pains me to think that the word was in its embryonic stages for years and didn’t need barnyard liberation until the year the docs told my folks, “It’s a boy!”
Who knows? Maybe I did something to push the popularity of the word as soon as I was born. I know my late father said the word so often that I still turn around and say, “Yes?” anytime I hear it spoken in my vicinity.
But I have a busy week and am going to take the easy way out today by presenting you with a list of words that are turning 50 this year.
What interests me is that many of these words seem to stem from a Madison Avenue heyday of when rampant consumerism was really starting its American roar, and how many of the words stem from space exploration.
It must have been an exciting time to be alive and not just some little dipshit awaiting delivery.
• advertorial -- This is advertising masquerading as advertising. I’ve sneered at advertorials, but only when I’m not being paid to write them. I’ve done maybe two or three of these in what for a lack of a better word I call my “career.” Guaranteed, I’d be a lot better off if I’d done a lot less sneering and a lot more selling.
• all-you-can-eat -- I wonder what they called this before they coined this now-common phrase. Probably gluttony.
• A-OK -- The space program gave us so much. In hindsight, it seemed like such an exciting time. I think right now things are about C-OK, which is an improvement over F-OK from just a few years ago.
• back-talk -- How come there’s still not a goody-goody front-talk?
• bionic -- That means the word to describe him is about 25 years older than the man who came to represent it: Astronaut Steve Austin.
• dial-up -- Even the reading the seven-character name makes me tap my fingers in impatience today.
• doomsayer -- It took until 1961 to get to this word? I’d have thought doomsayers would have been around since Pontius Pilot started toweling off his dripping hands.
• fab -- The word would have faded into obscurity had it not been for John, Paul, George and Ringo.
• gillion -- Someday I’m going to get around to doing a story about the biggest number known to man. I’m pitching a piece now about the shortest time measurements. I’m going to call it: “No Time At All.” Just wait. No one will snap it up and I’ll write a half-assed version of it for the blog in a New York minute.
• incapacitate -- A word that was launched just in time for a decade when access to and consumption of mind-bending drugs made the word so necessary.
• intel -- This must have coincided with when the CIA was devoting more time to snappy acronyms and abrevs. than actual intelligence of what was going on in Southeast Asia.
• moon shot -- Baseball fans ought to relate to this. The meaning, of course, is another space program coinage adapted to mean what guys like Mickey Mantle was blasting them out of the old Yankee Stadium.
• no-win -- How did this once come about? You mean before this there were just win-wins? It feels like I’ve been no-win on every March Madness pool I’ve entered since before Mantle was blasting moon shots.
• off-air -- Imagine a simpler time when every TV set could receive just three stations and they were on the air for just about 14 hours or so a day. What did people do with the spare time? Read? Drink? Boink? Ah, the good ol’ days.
• omigod -- It took us 50 years to condense this one? All I can say is, OM--, er, amazing!
• randy -- Austin Powers rules, baby!
• rat fink -- It’s just the perfect pairing. Go ahead and try substituting any other loathsome animal and watch it fail. Things like skunk fink or roach fink just don’t cut it. Didn’t James Cagney corner the market on this one with “Dirty Rat Fink?”
• rehab -- You mean rehab predated Betty Ford?
• retro -- As mentioned, this word is still cool. I don’t watch much “Mad Men,” but I sense its retro appeal.
• skyjacker -- Oceanic pirates have been around for centuries. How did we get skyjacker instead of sky pirate? I like sky pirate better.
• wazoo -- I’d say I’d have to look more into this one, but I’m fearful of what the ol’ research would require.
• Weight Watcher -- Fascinating. Both Weight Watcher and all-you-can-eat were born the same year. To me, it’s the chicken and the egg argument all over.
• woody -- This, I guess, refers to the old station wagons bands like the Beach Boys sang about. I like the newer meaning, but it would be fun to time travel back to 1961 and tell mom I was going to run my big old woody down to the beach to meet the bikini babes.
Friday, March 25, 2011
When I heard the FDA was banning the importation of suspect Japanese milk, my first thought was sympathy for that milkman has to hump milk from Tokyo to L.A.
Then I felt silly for thinking milkmen still existed. There haven’t been milkmen for 40 years.
Those were simpler times. Now we all get our own milk that comes to our neighborhood grocery stores.
If the act wasn’t so redundant, it’d be enough to make me have a cow.
Is America in the midst of a cow shortage? I guess it wouldn’t surprise me to learn American cows were being outperformed by Japanese cows.
We’ve for years heard stories about how our moronic children are falling behind the Japanese in things like math and science and, more depressingly, how to slap a stand-up double to the right field gap.
Now, if I understand correctly, even our cows are inferior.
I’m an utter -- and that’s utter, not udder -- innocent when it comes to international agricultural trade, but wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to just import the whole cow?
Maybe there are obscure cultural issues. Perhaps the Japanese cows have trouble fitting in. It’s possible American cows share some of their unappealing bigotries stereotypical of some teet-tickling farmers. But I’ve never seen any urban street cows so fair comparison’s impossible.
If that’s true, it offends me to my very core. Asian, American, Latina -- underneath, we’re all the same. Excepting, of course, cows have five stomachs.
And imagine for a second if the reverse were true. I wager it would be impossible for a single all-you-can-eat restaurant to survive if the average American had five stomachs. Any evolution in that direction would surely doom the bovine population.
But until that happens, the thought of America needing to import even a single glass of milk boggles my mind.
Only water is more pedestrian. If we ever run out of aqua, we’ll all be washing our cars with milk.
It is one of the few substances that’s yet to be infected with any hoity-toity pretensions. There are designer olive oils, salts, and vinegars that get treated like fine wines.
But no one’s ever going to goad consumers into participating in a televised taste test between Japanese milk and American milk.
No one 100 years from now is going to be trading a boutique gallon of milk at Sotheby's. If milk goes even a few days past its expiration date, we dump it down the drain and just run and get another gallon that, I guess, for some consumers comes all the way from Japan.
Like many enviro-conscious consumers we try and buy local. We get organic eggs from free-range chickens raised on a farm I can see from my house (if I ever erect and scale a pole about 3,500-feet high).
One of these days, I swear, I’m going to drive 20 minutes to that farm and personally thank all those chickens.
That cow-rich America is importing milk from Japan, a nation which I guess is about the size of greater Cleveland, says something is seriously out of whack.
It’s enough to drive a man to drink.
I wonder where I can find a good stiff belt of locally distilled Scotch.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I dreamed last night of a world where all mankind was free of time’s tyranny, an age when leisure reigned and all were at liberty to engage in endless recreation and cerebral improvement.
And today I’m going to help launch that age by embarking on a mirror-smashing crusade.
Any ensuing bad luck will be offset by usefully harvesting all the time now wasted judgmentally staring into mirrors.
We as a society are obsessed with appearance and mirrors are to blame. They are everywhere.
Even utilitarian mirrors installed for safety purposes become detriments to it. How many fender-benders are caused by distracted motorists using review mirrors to ensure their lips still have that pouty appeal?
I’ve become intensely more aware of mirrors, the time I spend gazing into them and how they ruin my day because I recently purchased a protective mirror skin for my smart phone.
I vainly thought it might come in handy if I was ever about to enter an important meeting with an authority figure and needed to ensure nothing repulsive was dangling from my oversized right nostril.
This was foolish on multiple levels. First of all, few of us are ever more than 10 feet from a handy mirror. Many rooms have vanity mirrors installed in places where great art ought to hang.
Second, I haven’t had an important meeting with an authority figure since I was summoned from detention to the high school principal for interrogation over who yanked the fire alarm the morning of spring finals (no, I didn’t crack).
But I thought, yeah, maybe a little mirror would be useful.
Instead of being useful, it is an ever-offensive reminder that my appearance has become ever offensive. It’s like having a pocket-sized judgmental twin always staring at me and mocking all my facial flaws as he sits on my desk.
First of all, the human face, especially an aging one, is inherently repugnant and should not be studied in places with adequate lighting from any vantage point inside of 10 feet.
At arm’s length, my face is a mottled moonscape of gaping pores, festering moles, old hockey scars, and a blooming nasal field of wine-colored surface capillaries. The teeth are a jagged horror show uniformly screened in shades of yellow, pale and gray.
It is utterly repellent. And hold on a sec while I check . . .
Yep, I still consider my face damned handsome.
Still, I spend a lot of time throughout each and every day looking in mirrors for reasons I cannot explain, knowing each time it will only depress me. It’s not like my face is going to look better when I check it 10 minutes from now.
No, time and gravity will continue to ravage me with its claws. There’s no chance my face is going to look better in five years than it does today, which is a hell of a lot worse than it looked five, 10, 20 years ago.
I think in time we’ll come to a consensus that authentic mirrors are harmful to our mental well-being. Perhaps, some genius is right now working on a mirror that will individually show us -- not as we are -- but as what we once were.
We can program the mirror to mimic our movements while projecting images of us from how we looked back when we were all young and fresh.
Until that day, I argue we should replace each and every mirror with things like still-life paintings of bowls of fruits and cheeses.
That way if we wanted to achieve our goals of looking at something beautiful, we’d see works of art instead of, ugh, close-ups of all our miserable faces.
And I apologize for this exercise in harsh self-indulgence.
The thoughts expressed here, I’m sure, do not reflect well on me.
Just like so many mirrors.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I spent Saturday deciding on my preferred Sunday sin. What would it be? Theft? Adultery? Murder?
Worse. I thought I’d get up on the sabbath and pound out a blog post.
The act, according to the Bible, will doom me to hell.
Go ahead and heap scorn upon the content here, but wouldn’t sending me to hell for blogging be like sending Al Capone to the pen for tax evasion?
Yet, it’s right there in the Revised Standard Version of my King James Bible; Exodus 20, verse 8: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work.”
Not only that, it goes on to say it is our sacred obligation to see to it that our sons, our daughters, our cattle, our slaves and any traveler who comes near us is prevented from doing any toil.
Frankly, that last bit sounds like a lot of work.
I’ve been troubled by the Fourth Commandment ever since reading A.J. Jacobs’s 2007 book, “The Year of Living Biblically.” In it Jacobs follows all the arcane and obscure laws in the Bible. It’s uproarious fun mingled amidst a gentle message about how our lives could be better if we really did try to follow the basic tenets of the Bible.
I remember being struck by his devotion to not working on the sabbath. It gave him great serenity, he said, and has subsequently written he still does no work on Sundays.
I met Jacobs when he was assigning stories for Esquire and he was kind to me. In my book (unpublished, of course), that makes him a sort of holy man.
But when he decided to cease sabbath work, he was accepting manna from some prestigious publisher so that taints the whole endeavor. He was, in essence, getting paid to not work on Sundays, a heavenly loophole if ever there was one.
The idea, however, never left me and now it troubles me every weekend.
What is work?
I know real men who do real work in factories and if the boss says so they do it on Sundays for time and a half. These men sneer at me when they talk about work. They no more think writing is work than, say, butterfly collecting.
Who am I to argue? I’ve never collected butterflies, but it can’t pay much worse than writing. Plus, I can’t imagine a butterfly ever calling me up to scream I’ve misquoted him.
Still, I try not to write on Sundays.
You know what that leaves? The honey-do list.
I have gutters to clean, creaky screen doors to fix, bathroom floors that need re-tiling and all the seasonal chores that go hand-in-hand with homeownership, marriage and fatherhood.
Each of those chores fits my definition of real work because I detest doing them and can’t do any of it while sitting zombie-like on the couch and watching March Madness.
But I’d catch holy hell if I said, “Sorry, babe, I cannot prepare the flower boxes for spring planting. It’s Sunday and the labor might anger the Almighty.”
Talk about damned if you don’t, damned if you do.
And what about the holy part? Does that mean we’re supposed to spend the whole day in church? Heck, I fidget when the service runs longer than 57 minutes.
Is flying kites with my daughters holy enough? I can’t think of a more soulful exercise on a Sunday.
It’s all very troubling and very vague. And why is that commandment before murder, adultery, theft, lying, coveting and being sweet to mom and dad?
I think the only safe and wise choice for a guy like me is to spend the day on the golf course.
I have to figure 18 holies is the perfect solution to avoiding the sins of the sabbath.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I opened the newspaper this morning and it dawned on me: these could be the best two days of the year.
Yet, I’m pessimistic it’s going to work out that way.
On the plus side, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, a great reason for boozy merriment.
I like any holiday that prioritizes drinking over exchanging gifts and greeting cards. There has to be some mathematical formula that proves the more greeting cards that are involved -- Christmas, birthdays -- the worse the holiday.
On the flip side, three of my favorite holidays are St. Patrick’s Day, the Fourth of July and April Fool’s Day.
Nobody gives out “Happy Fourth of July!” cards, thank God.
Then there’s the drinking. The psychoanalysts won’t advise this to their morose patients, but every activity is better when it involves at least some alcoholic consumption.
But today’s shrinks don’t make any money off prescribing things like Jameson or Jim Beam over things like Xanax so that’s not likely to change.
It’s a real pity that all life’s most aggravating endeavors with which adults must wrestle -- commuting, working and wise parenting -- require at least some degree of sobriety.
So we have St. Patrick’s Day, a day when heirloom drunks like me can usually indulge. But I can’t afford to vaporize a day to hangover so cutting lose isn’t an option.
It’s like someone told me I need to send a dozen “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” greeting cards to people who could just drop dead, for all I care.
Then there’s the start of the NCAA basketball tournament. I always plan on spending the day in the bar with good friends all day watching college basketball from around the country.
But two days ago I got a call from an old buddy who used to run a bar I’d frequent.
Note: Nearly all my old friends have at one time or another either run a bar, tended bar. Today, they’re either fundamentalist Christians who wouldn’t dream of touching Demon Rum or are serving prison sentences and looking forward to their release and their first beer in 5-10 years, pending time off for good behavior.
There’s no middle ground.
But my old friend is trying to revive his sagging bar business by opening at 3 p.m. He called to personally invite me to be there to watch the afternoon Pitt game.
This I will gladly do.
Yet, it’s taking me away from my core bar and my core friends on one of the best bar days of the entire year.
Now when my primary bar owner finds out I’m returning to my former bar owner, he’ll be furious at the betrayal. He’ll think the former bar owner will charm me in ways that will lure my affections back to my ex-bar.
And, yes, I’m aware of all the Freudian undercurrents here. But it’s not like that, I swear.
A lot of lonely adolescent boys dream of a day when they’ll have two girlfriends and all the illicit fun that implies.
Trust me, son, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
And I guess the thing that’s bothering me most is Paul. I’ve for two years looked forward to Paul’s arrival. I dreamed about Paul. I couldn’t wait to see Paul.
Well, tomorrow, Paul will be here.
“Paul” is the new Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movie about two sci-fi geeks who find an smart ass alien.
Pegg and Frost made two of my all-time favorite movies, “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead.”
They couldn’t be any funnier. So I’ve been eager to see their new movie. But as details emerged, I began to feel a sort of dread.
First, there’s Paul himself, a little alien voiced by Seth Rogan, who’s never made me laugh.
I sensed what was happening was Hollywood producers wanted to take these two comic geniuses, Brits, and make them more palatable to dimwitted American audiences who’ve made Rogan and movies like “Super Bad” and “Knocked Up” big hits.
Early reviews on the reliably accurate www.rottentomatoes.com are, “eh.”
Well, I don’t want, “eh,” I want, “Ah!” I want, “Oh!” I want, "Ha!"
So I feel bad about feeling bad that my perfect little world won’t be all I’d hoped it would be.
I wonder if anyone near the Fukushima Daiichi plant is bumming because their St. Patrick’s Day isn’t working out how they’d hoped.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
It hasn’t even been a week and I’m already nostalgic for days when sobering meltdowns had less to do with damaged core reactors and more to do with Charlie Sheen.
In fact, few words in history have changed their meanings as dramatically as meltdown, a term that has its actual roots in ice cream consumption.
This from the March 1937 edition of Ice Cream Trade Journal: “The (featured) ice cream melts down cleanly in the mouth. Due to the clean meltdown, a cooler sensation results in the mouth than with gelatin ice cream.”
Yes, I’m one of those nutty ice cream trade journal collectors.
Actually, that’s the first citation of the term’s usage from the Oxford English Dictionary.
Until this week, it hadn’t dawned on me just how popular the term meltdown had become. Meltdowns have been reliably splendid entertainment -- as long as it’s not happening to us.
Our celebrities meltdown. So do our 4 year olds. And, gadzooks, so do the nuclear power plants we construct on earthquake-prone tectonic plate shelves.
I don’t doubt every precaution was taken, but can’t help but think in 50 years history-savvy comics will refer to the incident and punchline it with some variation of “What the hell were they thinking?” That is assuming earth lasts another 50 years.
The energies we can’t live without are all killing us.
I see pictures of devastated Japanese clutching smart phones and wonder where they get the energy. Certainly, the charge has by now died right along with tens of thousands of their godforsaken countrymen and women.
Maybe holding the phone gives them some Teddy Bear kind of comfort.
I wonder if you could go back 25 years and say, “Okay, you can have all the cheap power you want, but at some point that power source will fail and contaminate you and your land for the next century. Your choice: cheap, deadly energy or reduced energy availability that’s going to cost you a fortune.”
Guaranteed, we all take the pig-out option.
It’s happening here throughout Pennsylvania where Marcellus Shale drilling is making instant millionaires out of struggling farmers and, it seems, everyone else (except, of course, land-poor bloggers like me).
But extracting techniques couldn’t be more loathsome. Roads sufficient to bear heavy machinery are constructed deep into the woods like the ones in which I live. The big diggers are hauled in and loud, unmanned drilling operations begin to raise their ruckus.
The drills go thousands of feet beneath the surface to release tiny bubbles of natural gas through a repulsive practice known as “fracking,” firing a toxic brew of chemicals, water and sand into the wells to crack the shale and release the gas.
Of course, we’ve all been assured it’s perfectly safe by the executives who stand to lose millions the instant any of it’s revealed to be anything other than perfectly safe.
To me it sounds like the recipe for an ecological catastrophe that that will one day have our mutant descendants asking “What the hell were they thinking?”
It would be less galling if there was some sense of responsible oversight and if I could see some public good in the way of revenues flowing within all those streams of poisoned water in places where my grandfather used to fish and my children frolic.
But newly elected governor Tom Corbett has vowed he wouldn’t tax the companies being enriched by the drilling. Pennsylvania, the state with the most abundant drilling opportunities, is alone in not taxing the drillers. Corbett’s new budget includes massive layoffs and the end to services many of our neediest residents rely on to function.
And what again makes me most furious is my long-ago vow that I’d keep this blog relatively profanity free.
Geez, I’d love to carpet f-bomb the crap out of Corbett, who seems like an otherwise decent gent, but is either a dunce or a crook on this pivotal issue.
So I look out my back porch and instead of serenity I feel impending doom. I tune into CNN and see a more urgent manifestation of a doom we all dread.
It makes me long for bygone days when I could enjoy a nice Mint Chocolate Chip meltdown in my mouth while watching the latest celebrity meltdown being played out like it was something really significant.
Simpler, less complicated times.
Like last Friday.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
I’ve spent the past two days praying for Japanese earthquake victims and looking forward to Pat Robertson’s explanation as to why the poor bastards really had it coming.
For more than 50 years, he’s been a sort of a sin meteorologist. He foretells where the sin storms are most severe and the consequences of living a life that doesn’t involve contributing far right Christian for-profit enterprises like his.
He’s not like the rest of us who react to catastrophe with instinctual humanity. We pray, send money and we feel compassionate pity for the victims of indiscriminate and so-called “acts of God.”
Less than two weeks after Hurricane Katrina killed 1,836, Robertson took to the airwaves to pronounce the storm as God’s response to America’s abortion policies.
He said the 2010 Haiti earthquake was the result of an historic “pact with the Devil” Haitian founders made that left the island cursed.
Speaking of cursed, I’d like to hear what Robertson says about the Pittsburgh Pirates, now embarking on 19 seasons without a winning record.
Then there are what should be called “acts of Pat.” These are things God specifically tells him are bound to happen that haven’t.
You sinners may have been too hungover to have heard it, but Robertson on January 1, 2009, said, “If I’m hearing God right then gold will go to about $1,900 an ounce oil to $300 a barrel. But economically things are going to start turning around.”
Wow. Talk about covering all your bases. He was off on the price of gold by $500 an ounce and overshot oil by $170, but things did start slowly turning around.
And on January 2, 2007 -- and I really have to start tuning into the 700 Club right after Dick Clark signs off -- he said America was going to suffer “mass killings” in the next 12 months.
“The Lord didn’t say nuclear, but I do believe it will be something like that,” he said.
When observant reporters were doing year-end wrap up stories and saw no front page mushroom clouds, they called him on it.
“All I can think is that somehow the people of God prayed and God in his mercy spared us.”
Cue Maxwell Smart: “Missed it by THAT much.”
Sometimes Robertson, 80, seems to have more in common with Hollywood’s Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of “Armageddon” and other disaster films, than with the humble Baptist preacher he claims to be.
He said God told him in January 2006, “If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms. There may well be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest.” He repeated the tsunami claim four times throughout the year.
The tides that year were more in tune with what you’d find in the Old Farmer’s Almanac than the Old Testament.
My favorite was he in 1976 predicted to much hoopla that the world would end in 1982 (the Pirates last won the World Series in 1979, so Pittsburgh appreciated the grace period).
He really hammered the doomsday prediction home, too, saying in a May 1980 “700 Club” broadcast, “I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be judgement on the world.”
Missed it by THAT much.
(Reminder: Christian broadcaster Harold Camping, the 89-year-old leader of the Oakland, California, based Family Radio Network, has issued his own scholarly update: world ending May 21. I haven’t paid cash for anything since the announcement three months ago).
I haven’t heard what Robertson’s had to say with the competing doomsday prediction.
You’d have to think, him being in the doomsday prediction business, Robertson secretly hopes something horrific will happen to people he judges as so morally inferior just so he could enjoy one of the world’s best “I told you so’s.”
Sure, it would mean the deaths of thousands of innocents, but it would prove he’s right -- as if anyone familiar with Robertson’s Christian Coalition needed further proof he’s really right.
It's only natural. We all want to be our predictions to come true. We all want to say “I told you so.”
I mean, we’re all only human, right?
Hmmm . . .
I may have discovered the root of the problem with Pat.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I just determined the proper name for my pseudo-occupation; I turn words into stories and sell them to anyone who says they’ll pay me.
I am a prosetitute.
Understand, prosetitution involves actual paying gigs and not this pointless blog, which involves giving my stuff away for free and I haven’t thought of a nifty word for that yet.
But consider this the part where we’ve already concluded our illicit transaction. You’ve maybe read something of mine and want to find out more about me, what I’m really like, if I like what I do and if I ever dreamed of being something other than a prosetitute.
Me, I’m getting dressed on the side of the bed. I’m putting my bra and panties back on -- and that part’s true. I like to write wearing frilly women’s undergarments.
Heck, I like to garden in women’s undergarments, but I’ll save that story for later.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve only had three real jobs my entire adult life and one of them was at the Pizza Hut.
Pizza Hut cook might have been the job at which I most excelled. Truly, I just kicked ass. I was a very good worker, fun to be around, good with the customers. I could handle the chaotic Friday dinner rush all by myself.
The managers wanted me to make a career out of Pizza Hut and said it would be stable and fun. I was in college back then and confident I’d find those things in a writing career.
It was my first step in becoming a prosetitute.
True story: I was a skilled general assignment reporter at the Nashville Banner relied upon for stylish front page features when I decided to quit the paper because I was making too little money. My idea of a splurge back then was getting a pizza with pepperoni and sausage.
So I decided to quit. Surprised everyone. In fact, I told the top editor of my decision the very moment she’d summoned me into her office to offer me a promotion.
But I’d already made up my mind. The money wasn’t much better and while I loved it in Nashville I wanted to return to Pittsburgh. I could live at home and have Dad pay for all the pizzas.
I eventually got a job at the local paper. That didn’t work out as well. When I went in to quit there, they didn’t offer me any promotions. They threw a party.
By then my wild ways had set in and it was becoming clear I was destined toward a life of prosetitution.
Still, well meaning people held occupational interventions to stave off what was looking more and more inevitable.
A bunch of us used to have lively lunches presided over by a late, beloved local attorney. He was one of the best men I’ve ever known.
I helped an employed newspaper friend write the front page obit when he died. I contributed the recollection that he was the only man I’d ever met who could quote both William Shakespeare and Fred Sanford in the same conversation and have them both make marvelous sense.
One day he took me aside to ask if I wanted to become an attorney and work for him. He said he’d pay for the education.
Looking back, it was coming from this monumental gent the most flattering offer anyone’s ever made to me.
But I had no interest in practicing law. As Arnold Palmer once said, “Some people wanted me to become an attorney, but I didn’t like office work and I’m too nice a guy.”
The National Enquirer offered me a full-time job. But that would have been a career decision. I didn’t want to move to Florida and spend my advancing years writing about things like Lady Gaga’s carnal preferences.
I was becoming a prosetitute.
One of the strangest offers ever extended to me was from a top editor at Glamour. We’d never met. He called me out of the blue and said a colleague recommended me to become a Glamour senior editor.
I thought about it and said I couldn’t imagine a time when any of those three words -- “Glamour . . . senior . . . editor” -- would ever apply to me individually or strung together.
That was it. I’d turned my back on what literally was a glamour job in New York City.
I knew then I was a prosetitute and a prosetitute was all I’d ever be.
Yeah, you might wonder what’ll happen as I grow older and my charms begin to fade.
Well, don’t worry about me.
Prosetitution is something you can always do in the dark.
The screen illuminates even when the prosetitute no longer does.