A Typical Weekend With The In-Laws

Fellow Zillionaires, I have wanted to write a post for sometime now. This last weekend I had an experience worthy of telling. The story gains some street cred with the following information: When I first met my mother-in-law five years ago I sent a Death Star-size piece of bubblegum into her hair. The gum then had to remain there for three hours while we crossed the Canadian/US border. Since that day I have given my wife’s parents endless reasons to banish me from the family. Well I finally topped that experience. Before my story begins know this, in five months my wife and I will be moving to Washington and living with her folks for a while. Keeping that in mind, this is how it went down…

My wife recently finished her Master’s degree at Cal State San Bernardino University and her parents flew down for the occasion. The traffic was barbeque bad on the way to the airport (so bad that you can get out of the car and BBQ a burger before you need to pull one inch forward). They flew into John Wayne airport in Orange County. If you have spent any minutes of misery watching the terrible show “The OC” you have seen exactly what this place is like. I hate it and everyone in it. Anyway, after the Chinese water torture of a drive, we arrive almost on time.

The trip was scheduled for four days. I expected a certain amount of luggage to come along with them, but damn. They arrive with enough suitcases to shelter a village of Smurfs. I mean, I drive a Subaru wagon and they completely filled the back. I couldn’t even see out the back. Any of you that have ridden with me know that I need zero help in being a bad driver. So with the back loaded down and the added pressure of my in-laws riding along, I proceed to nearly kill us six times. One time included a hard enough skid that a suitcase flew up and hit my mother in-law in the head.

So my wife decided that we would spend the first couple of days at her mountain house. Well, I was so stressed-out driving that I didn’t see the gaslight come on. MR stop nodding your head like you know exactly what is going to happen. Anyway, about two miles from anything we run out of gas. It just so happened that the car stopped on a blind corner on the busiest street in the mountains of So Cal. As we dodged speeding cars like Frogger I sent my wife away to the house with her parents. Of course she saw a chance for me to have a moment’s peace and naturally did her wifely duties and sent her father with me. He spent the entire walk to the gas station telling me how this has never actually happened to anyone he knows. So my mother in-law, who just arrived from traveling since three in the morning has been hit in the head and now has to hike uphill two miles to the house. Gaylord Focker has nothing on me. At this point I’m asking god to strike me dead.

I’m feeling pretty much like I’m living a National Lampoons movie. Lucky me I get to go spend the next two days up at lake Arrowhead in a cabin with them. So picture the house from the Shining but about three bedrooms in size. It had a hot tub out on the deck so I retreated to it for some peace. Soon the whole gang followed me in to the tub. No subject is more taboo with parents than sex. Apparently, my mother-in-law did not get that memo. As soon as they are in the tub, she begins to share with me that the house is perfect for getting it on. I tried to be polite but when she began to tell me that she hoped we would not hear the headboard banging on the wall that was it. I started looking for the hidden cameras. Exit stage left for Krusty, I mean come on.

Also, I managed to get drunk one night and crush her dad at pool while doing the Krusty stumbling-drunk-weave. The last great achievement of the weekend was on the next day. We missed the flight taking them home because I stopped to eat. This meant that her parents had to spend about half a day in the airport waiting for the next flight, (and yes, I just left them).

Over all it was a fantastic weekend. Yes, that is right. This was actually a good one (imagine the really bad). I hope all of you can now further appreciate the relationship you have with your in-laws. I felt this was an experience I had to share with everyone. I hope no one has had a similar experience, but if you have cough it up.

Krusty (Clark Griswold)

Origin of McSex

With Bailes about to join the ranks of our Halo 2 platoon I thought I would offer him some advice on the most difficult decision he’ll ever have to make in life: Selecting a Gamertag. This is not something to gloss over. The Gamertag is your unique identifier to other players, and it cannot be changed or altered once it is submitted. That’s right, you get one chance at this… so don’t blow it.

Of course, it is common knowledge that my Gamertag is “McSex.” Aside from the occasional illiterates that call me “Emcee Sex,” this moniker has been well received in the Xbox Live cyberspace.

So how did I come up with “McSex?” To tell the story properly, we must go back a few years… As an awkward pre-teen, struggling to feel like a man, I tried to identify the main shortcoming preventing me from assuming alpha-male status amongst my peers. Conveniently, I settled on the least obvious one: my name. Surely, I thought, if I had a more masculine name, it would mask the girlish physique, acne and falsetto voice.

Turning on the TV, I saw a constant barrage of studly men with names like “Thomas Magnum” and “Indiana Jones.” At the time, the only difference I saw between a lady’s man private investigator and myself was the blandness of my name. It suddenly dawned on me; none of my GI Joe’s or Transformers had pedestrian names either. Why couldn’t I have been named “Stormshadow” or “Snake Eyes” or “Optimus Prime?” The name “Matt Ring” just lacked certain panache. In naming me, clearly my parents weren’t the least bit concerned with wanting their son to sound like a badass.

So, I began brainstorming names I would one day assume in the event I grew up to be a secret agent, assassin or plays-by-his-own-rules police detective. Naturally, I needed a name so over-the-top that it would leave no doubt as to whom was running the show. Thomas Manchild came to mind. Jack Stallion had a nice ring to it. Ultimately, I settled on Jack McSex.

I’ve always liked the first name “Jack.” It is a classic, simple, masculine name with a hint of rugged toughness. The name “Jack” represented a can-do attitude… the kind of guy that would climb a beanstalk or go up a hill with Jill to fetch a pail of water. The McSex part came later. I wanted a last name that completely lacked subtlety and somewhat spoofed the action-hero genre. Ultimately, I think I crafted a name that commands both respect and a chuckle. To this day, I can’t help but smile with pride when I say the name, Jack McSex.

Of course, it became more than just a name… Jack McSex is my charming and daring alter ego. And naturally, Jack McSex even talks differently than Matt Ring…

When answering the phone:
Matt Ring: “Hello?”
Jack McSex: “McSex here.”

When introducing himself:
Matt Ring: “Hi, I’m Matt Ring.”
Jack McSex: “The name’s Jack McSex, and the pleasure is all mine.”

And so forth. In short, Jack McSex makes James Bond look like Screech Powers. And when it came time to choose a worthy Gamertag for my Xbox Live persona, there was no hesitation on my part.

Now that I’ve revealed the origin of my Gamertag, here are some simple pointers in selecting yours:

1. Avoid a name that rhymes with anything derogatory or sexual in nature. For obvious reasons. Believe me, your opponents will seize upon this instantly. The only time this naming convention works is when you select a name like “Mulva” or “Bovary” as it has a humorous double entendre to it…

2. Avoid this formula: Stringing together a sexual innuendo and the number “420” to form a Gamertag. This does not make you a badass. Sadly, there are at least ten million dudes on Xbox Live that think they are being cool by combining their fantasies of kinky sex and habitual pot smoking into a name like “Filthy Sanchez 420.” Also, unfailingly, each of these dudes is 14 years old.

3. Avoid a name that reads like a vanity license plate. This is my pet peeve. I hate having to solve a magic-eye puzzle in order to alert “GR8est 1Der of N8ure” to cover me during the middle of a firefight. Yeah, this guy is a sweet teammate. Of course, after my inevitable death I’ll have the requisite time to translate and appreciate the cleverness “Greatest Wonder of Nature” used in selecting his Gamertag. Standard.

On a side note, can you imagine being friends with this person, and having him call you to key in his Gamertag into your friends list? “Alright dude, it’s capital ‘G-R,’ then the number 8, then lowercase ‘e-s-t’…” I would seriously hang-up on him halfway through this conversation.

4. Give yourself an esoteric name from an 80’s franchise that only the coolest people on earth would understand the reference to. For instance, I thought about using the name “Kreese,” (after the evil sensei of the Cobra Kai dojo from the Karate Kid movies.) After every kill I could taunt my opponents with a line like “Fear does not exist in this dojo.” Along those same lines, I always thought “Lord Helmet” (Spaceballs) would be a fantastic name. You could use quotes like “Evil will always triumph because good is dumb” or, “I see your Schwartz is as big as mine” during any confrontation. If these examples don’t appeal to you, try “Niedick” (Saved by the Bell) or “Cooter P. Davenport” (Dukes of Hazzard) or “H.M. Murdock” (The A-Team.)

5. Integrating hip-hop lingo into your name will not change the fact you are a suburban white kid. Don’t bother putting extraneous z’s and x’s into the spelling of ordinary words… that won’t help either.

6. Names that have real-life tie-ins with death are popular. For instance, I toyed with being The Coroner for a while. You get the idea, after each kill I could declare the cause of death to be my battle rifle or my superior skills. Along those same lines, you could be The Embalmer, The Mortician, The Chalk Outline Guy, The Pallbearer, or The Guy that Pokes the Dead Body with a Stick… lots of possibilities here.

7. Whatever you do, don’t use your actual name. Seriously, don’t do it. This isn’t an email account. You will actually be ridiculed more by your fellow teammates than your opponents if you can’t concoct a clever name.

So there it is. And fellow Zillionaires, please share the origin of your Gamertags and/or potential names for future members of our platoon.

Remote Controls, Part III

Continuing on with remote controls, for previous parts, click here: (Part I, Part II)…

Part Three! This is officially a trilogy! Lots of franchises don’t make it to this point. Think about it… The onset of rigor mortis prevented Bernie from doing his trademark floppy-armed wave, thus derailing any hopes for a Weekend at Bernie’s 3. After saving New York from a malevolent underground river of slime, there was really no way for the Ghostbusters to top a feat like that in a sequel. Also, we never got to see Boof have a litter of werewolf pups in Teen Wolf 3: Doggystyle. Even Guns ‘n Roses couldn’t muster another 18-minute monster ballad to justify a potential “Use Your Illusion III.”

So we’re in rarified air here. And this is nowhere near the final installment. My plan is to be like Tupac, and continue releasing new posts about remote controls long after I’m dead. People don’t seem to question this, so why not? I can just imagine some of the zany mishaps with remote controls I’ll encounter in the afterlife…

Anyway, in the previous segment, I implored my wife to exercise responsible use of the remote control with this simple request:

“If you’re going to watch TV, and insist on using the remote, can you please make an effort to leave the remote in a logical place?”

Seems like a reasonable request. Considering my sanity hung in the balance, you would think my wife might make an effort to honor my wishes. Instead, she devised a method that would seemingly address my concerns; yet at the same time make me painfully regret making the original request in the first place. How does she accomplish this feat? Well, after each use, she now places the remote control on top of the TV.

It took me a while to catch onto this. Nobody thinks of looking for the remote on top of the TV. Ironically, it’s almost the last place you’d look. I’d find myself spending a solid hour scavenging between couch cushions, filing police reports, and lighting prayer candles in hopes the remote would soon be safely returned before even glancing at the top of the TV. By the time I would actually locate the remote, whatever show I was hoping to watch was over and Spring Break Shark Attack II had begun.

Seriously, who puts the remote on top of the TV anyway? The whole point of having a remote is to avoid having to get off the couch and walk over to the TV in the first place. My personal definition of hell is pretty much having to rise from a seated, comfortable position when I shouldn’t have to. But what other option do I have? It’s not like I can watch TV without the remote control (another personal definition of hell). Lying on the couch, when I gaze across the room and see the remote taunting me atop the TV, I simply hang my head in defeat. At this point, you may as well prod me with a pitchfork for good measure…

Of course, I brought this on myself. I asked my wife to leave the remote control in a logical place. I didn’t clarify this any further. The word “logical” is somewhat ambiguous, and it left my wife plenty of loopholes to hang me with. It’s like one of those episodes of the Twilight Zone, where the guy is granted three wishes that all backfire horribly on him. You get the idea, where a simple wish to be “rich and famous” is granted by turning the dude into Rosie O’Donnell or a wish for “happiness” is granted with total spiritual consciousness instead of with an Xbox. And of course, these cruel and ironic twists eventually force him to use his final wish just to turn everything back to normal.

Sadly, I’m almost at that point. I think I would rather spend hours searching adjacent rooms, kitchen cupboards, linen closets, and all the other unorthodox places my wife likes to leave the remote rather than enduring the humiliating walk of shame from the couch to the TV to retrieve the remote… But the question remains, how did my wife come up with a plan so ironic? I think she may have borrowed the idea from Alanis Morrisette:

It’s like rain on your wedding day,
It’s the remote sitting on top of the TV,
It’s searching for an hour for something that is in plain sight,
And who would have thought? It’s standard…

Stay tuned for Part IV…

Forgotten Top Five

I was going to post this yesterday but I forgot. Without further ado, the top five things I forget the most:

5. Immediate family members’ birthdays.

Sad but true. I can, however, confirm that Ben Affleck’s birthday is August 15. Unexplainable.

4. How to count backwards from five.

This is not normal but apparently is true because I just typed a 3 over on the left and then had to hit delete and type a 4. Weird.

3. My problems.

While I technically don’t forget them, I do bath and wash them in alcohol nightly to try to forget them!

2. I don’t like to spread butter on most things.

While I don’t forget this, my mom does. She always forgets that I don’t like butter on my pancakes, french toast, bread, etc. She is so surprised every time I say “no thanks” to the butter. Then I always get really upset and start crying about how my mother doesn’t know who I am or love me. It’s awkward, but I really don’t like butter Mom! Accept me for who I am!

1. Things happening in your life that you think are important and that you have shared with me in confidence at some point.

I’m sorry, but I kinda spaced it. But I’m not a bad guy darnit. I’ll pretend I remember exactly what’s going on and even ask some vague but inquisitive type of questions. Bear with me, alright!