State of the Union

Here’s a letter I sent to the President with a last-minute suggestion for tonight’s State of the Union address.

Mr. President:

I know this address is meant to inspire the nation. I’m sure you’re going to talk about plans like putting a man on Mars in ten years or improving literacy over the next decade. Great. Fantastic. I’m almost inspired enough to not change the channel.

Here’s another idea: I’m 28 years old. In ten years, as part of a middle-aged man’s routine health care, there’s a good chance I’ll be going to the doctor for my first proctological exam. I beg of you, let’s put our national resources towards fixing this situation.

I figure I’ve got ten years, maybe fifteen tops. Truthfully, I’m not exactly circling the date on my calendar. But I know it’s coming. And this issue concerns me more than deficits or terrorists.

Keep in mind, I’m not asking you to actually cure prostate cancer. Just remove the use of proctology to detect it. You should have America’s best scientists inventing some kind of prostate cancer Breathalyzer test.

I understand how fortunate I am. With the invention of Viagra a few years back, my second biggest potential health crisis has already been averted. That one was hanging over me in about 40 years. I’m glad it was taken care of early though, there’s no sense putting it off.

So now, it’s just a proctological exam I’m worried about. Simply put, we need this issue to come to the forefront of American politics. Imagine if a candidate ran solely on the election platform of removing the threat of a proctological exam from a generation of young men. It would be a landslide election.

I need your help. The nation needs your help. We need some true leadership. I know the proctology lobby is powerful in Washington. If you walk to the podium tonight and pledge the nation’s resources to eradicating anal examinations, history will judge your presidency kindly. Think about it.

P.S. One final tip, when you begin the address, maybe apologize to viewers that the usual sitcoms normally on at this time are being pre-empted for your speech. I always hated that growing up.

Thank you for your consideration,
The Centaur

The Placenta

As you know, my wife is going to deliver a baby in a few months, and we’ll soon have a slightly used placenta on our hands. What do we do with this thing? Any takers out there?

They say that the afterbirth is chock full of nutrients, and most pragmatic people hate to see something like that go to waste. For that reason, some people bury their placenta in the garden, thereby perpetuating the circle of life by growing super-produce laced with human bodily fluids. That’s one option, but it just seems like we could do more with the afterbirth than just use if for fertilizer.

In some cultures, it’s common to actually eat the placenta. This seems kind of cannibalistic to me. Even if I could get over that aspect of it, there are a bevy of other issues to address…

For starters, how do you even get the placenta home from the hospital? Are there doggie bags for this purpose?

Me (rubbing stomach eagerly): “Excuse me, nurse, can you box this up for me? I definitely want to polish this off when I get home!”

And if you were to actually eat it, how would you prepare it? Let’s face it, I doubt Betty Crocker has any recipes for the afterbirth. I think it’s just something you have to experiment with… try different spices, different side dishes, that sorta thing. Then you can start to tackle tougher issues, like determining whether to serve white or red wine. At this point, I’m sure you’re all thinking what I’m thinking: All of this could make for a fantastic episode of “Iron Chef.”

If my wife does go to the trouble to make a placenta casserole, I guess I would try it, just so I wouldn’t hurt her feelings. Of course, all of this is a moot point, since I basically eat whatever my wife cooks for dinner without question anyway. For all I know, I could have had placenta last night… And if that were the case, I would have to say that placenta tastes (and looks) a lot like spaghetti. This is somewhat surprising, as I always assumed the afterbirth would taste like chicken.

Of course, supposing she did make placenta casserole one night, I can’t imagine it being very good. I mean, seeing as how I hate green bean casserole, it’s not like placenta would be any tastier, right? My biggest fear is that she’ll double the recipe, and make a whole bunch of it, and then we’re stuck with lots of leftovers. It’s not like I have a dog or stepchild to feed it to. I suppose I could always take the leftovers to a homeless shelter or something. Who knows, maybe they can make soup out of it. I could probably even write it off as a charitable donation too.

On the other hand, what happens if she serves placenta casserole and it really hits the spot? And as I mentioned above, the placenta is full of nutrients… seriously, it’s like the equivalent of three bowls of Kellogg’s Total. What if I actually develop a taste for it? It’s not like you can order afterbirth as a pizza topping. It could be tough having to go nine months between servings of placenta.

Because of that, it’s probably best if we skip eating the placenta altogether. We’ll just get it bronzed like everyone else.

How To Beat the Seahawks

I’ve been a Seahawks fan for 20 years. I’ve been unabashedly on their bandwagon all season. They’re playing the most important game in franchise history at home this weekend. All of this means one thing: I have a strong sense of impending doom right now.

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but allow me to share a very old joke that is part of Seahawks lore:

The police respond to a case of child abuse. Clearly, the boy needed to be removed from the home, as he had been badly beaten. The policeman asked the child where he wanted to live, and the boy said, “I want to live with the Seahawks, ’cause they don’t beat anybody!”

I admit it’s not very funny. It’s hard to find humor in child abuse. But, it’s a true story. You see; I was that abused boy, sent to live with the Seahawks 20 years ago.

And I know how the Seahawks operate. In the interest of fairness, I thought I would offer the Panthers some tips on how to avoid a beating:

Don’t Keep the Score Close: This was the Redskins’ first mistake. If you want to beat the Seahawks, you need to let them have a lead of about eight touchdowns with three minutes to play. Once it becomes clear that it will take the greatest comeback in NFL history to win the game, that’s when the wheels will invariably come off for the Seahawks.

Avoid Key Injuries: I’m not referring to your roster. I’m talking about the Seahawks roster. If you injure a Seahawks starter, be prepared for one of our backups to come in that is unaccustomed to choking in a big game.

Challenge Every Call: No matter how obvious the ruling on the field, there is always an official willing to invent a reason why the play should be overturned to go against the Seahawks. Sure, the referees will make the “challenge” appear to look authentic. The official will go in the little video booth for a minute or two, and emerge to say, “After reviewing the play, the Seahawk player clearly double-dribbled. The touchdown is overruled, and the Panthers will shoot two free-throws.” Seriously, if I were the Panthers, I’d even challenge the coin flip.

So this is it. If the Seahawks win on Sunday it will easily be my greatest thrill as a sports fan. I hope this post appeases the Football Gods to reverse-jinxing the inevitable Seahawk debacle. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go paint a Seahawks logo on my chest. Gotta support the team!

The Reluctant Do-Gooder

Reluctantly, I take the cramped seat in between the old man and the rail. I wouldn’t normally do this as I actually prefer to stand.

You see, my newest fascination is the childish game of “look ma, no hands” while riding the subway. You let go of any handrails, get your balance under your feet, relax your knees and then you ride that train like it is a wild animal, relying completely on balance and strength to keep you from being thrown to the ground as it stops and starts along the route. When it lurches forward, I lean in to brace myself for the buck. When the train crashes and grinds to a halt, I lower my honches and pull back on the invisible reins. Whoa nelly.

Of course, in my head I envision myself as a cross between Teenwolf (Speaking of Teenwolf, rent it sometime with a friend who has a lot of body hair and you will be forced to see that movie in a totally new light!) and Kevin Bacon’s character from Tremors. I get my smooth, surf-inspired style from Teenwolf of course. The Kevin Bacon thing is thrown in there because he rode on the back of a giant worm in that movie if I remember it right.

But today I’m not standing. I’m sitting. And I’m sitting next to an old man.

Oh great. Now he’s asking me a question. I don’t know anything. I’m still new here.

“Does this train go to Canal?” he asks.

My first silent thoughts aren’t exactly polite. Aren’t you like 100 years old or something? Don’t you know your way around here yet?

“I don’t know,” I say to get out of the exchange and go back to minding my own beeswax. (My regular beeswax minder was off for the day.)

“Oh, I just wasn’t sure if this train went there or not, you know…”

Just then I remembered that I read the book Tuesdays With Morrie and I began to feel guilty because if there was a point to that book it was that all old people have an incredible amount of wisdom in them and it is up to each and every one of us to draw that out and honor it. And if we happen to later profit on that wisdom with a million dollar book deal than so be it.

Bingo, I think to myself. If I play this right, this old guy could be my million dollar book deal.

And with that completely self-serving thought, I finally convinced myself to take the five seconds to turn around and look at the large subway map to find out for this old man if our train went to Canal Street. Which it did.

Now just to flesh this story out to 200 pages…

The Ideal Arby’s Upsize

Cashier: “Welcome to Arby’s, may I take your order?”
Me: “Yeah… I’ll have the number three combo meal.”
Cashier: “What kind of fries?”
Me: “Homestyle.”
Cashier: “And what kind of soft drink?”
Me: “Pepsi.”
Cashier: “And would you like to upsize your order for only 49 cents more?”

Me (pausing for dramatic effect): “…Upsize? You want me to upsize? Let me get this straight: For 49 cents, Arby’s will moderately increase the size of my fries and drink, but leave the actual sandwich at its original size. And you call that an “upsize.”

Me (continuing): “Look, why would I want 10% more fries, 80% more cola, and no change whatsoever to the size of my original sandwich? Who finds this ridiculously disproportionate meal satisfying? Instead of calling it an “upsize”, you should ask if I want to “disproportionize” my meal… because really, that’s the end result.”

(Customers in adjacent lines began to turn their heads and exchange nods of agreement.)

Me (further emboldened by their reaction): And of all the items in my combo meal, the sandwich is the one thing I’d be most interested in having upsized to begin with. And yet it’s completely neglected in the upsizing process! Let’s be real here. The sandwich is the focal point of the meal. How can you offer to upsize my meal, and not include the most integral part?

(The cashier cocks his head to one side, as the logic of my rant is undeniable.)

Me: “And what’s the point of upsizing my soft drink at all? It comes with free refills anyway! All you’re really doing is increasing the size of my cup. If free refills are available, the only thing I’m interested in having upsized is the size of my bladder.”

Me (glancing at cashier’s nametag): “Brian, please know that this tirade is not directed at you. I’m just here to help. Don’t get me wrong; the upsize is a beautiful idea. But it has to be a true upsize. The sandwich, the fries, and the drink must all be increased in size proportionately. At burger places, I could understand the logistical difficulty in doing this. But this is Arby’s! All of your sandwiches are just meat and bun anyway. Are you telling me you can’t stock two or three sizes of buns for varying degrees of upsizing?”

Me: “Look, Brian, I know you’re not running this outfit. I need you to pass this up the chain of command: Arby’s can lead us to a better tomorrow… but it’ll take more than a talking oven mitt to get there. Arby’s has the opportunity to be the one fast food establishment with a legitimate upsize option. And let’s face it, that’s all any of us want in life… a true upsize of our combo meal.”

Me (clearing throat): “Ahem… So, to answer your question: No thanks. I am not interested in your so-called upsize.”

The restaurant was silent for a moment. Then, starting in the back, a customer began a slow clap that resonated throughout the establishment. One by one, the rest of the patrons joined in the applause. Even Brian and his fellow cashiers extended an ovation. I smiled in satisfaction and offered them a modest nod. As I turned around, the crowd parted in reverence so that I could make my way to the condiment station to load up on Arby’s and Horsey sauce unabated.

Author’s note: Most of this account took place in my imagination.