Recently I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the places in my life that make me happy. As much time as the average American spends being miserable, we should really treasure the places that provide true happiness. There are some important criteria to be considered when I start to make a list of my happy places.

What generally makes me happy? I am a simple guy and I need only the basics: Food, comfort, companionship, warmth, quality service and a good opportunity to be lazy are necessary for a top-notch happy place. My bed is obviously a large front-runner when it comes to happy places. Anywhere that is literally designed for me to be as inactive as possible is obviously going to be great. I have often secretly hoped for some temporary debilitating injury that would require me to spend a good month in bed. I mean think about rolling up the TV and the fridge right next to bed. In addition, if you had to be bedridden there is some level of being waited-on that comes with it. Being bedridden is like immediately becoming so wealthy that you have a butler to do all of your non-bed-related activities. You know that would rock.

Also, my mom’s house provides all the makings of a quality happy place. For starters, there is a large fridge ripe for the plundering. There are also big couches for napping on and a mother to cook for me. I can’t think of any hotels that have better first class service for such a cheap price. There is nothing like being spoiled to make me happy. Plus it has to amp you up to be able to make a mess and then just leave it for mom. After all she misses being a “hands on mom.”

Quality happy places often need to overload my senses. Can you really think of a time that you were not happy in the presence of a huge big screen TV? Turn on some sports and you have a quality happy place anywhere. This may be the most versatile quality of a happy place. Think of all the miserable places that could be improved with a huge TV playing sports. Think of the wonderful ability to tune out your wife at the shopping mall because right in the middle of the GAP there is a huge TV with a recliner. MMMMM yeah.

And when it comes to happy places, there are few places in life that put me in a better mood than the drunken fun of whirlyball. I mean the camaraderie of crushing the other team. This blends perfectly with the greasy pizza and high quality beer to provide an intoxicating environment like few others. Anywhere I can drink and drive bumper cars is close to the happiest place on earth.

All of these previously mentioned places are good but not the best. In further analysis of places that can make me happy, I turned to the place I get all my answers to life’s questions: TV. The television constantly shows us many happy places. After researching many hours of rerun television, I have concluded the happiest place in the world is a good tavern. Think about it: there is Cheers, Moe’s, the Drunken Clam (Family Guy) and the place that Drew Carey always drinks in. In my life, I have many happy times with my fellow zillionaires at the TAV, the Shoe, The Brick, the Palace, The Owl and Thistle and so many more… I mean can anyone really remember not being happy in a good tavern?

A good tavern encompasses the best parts of all the other happy places in my life. There is quality food served up at my whim. The various bar games provide an opportunity to crush my friends and enemies. A good tavern will provide me with solid stools and couches for inactivity and a cheap place to sleep. Don’t even get me started on the sensory overload at a good sports bar. TVs in every direction and other people who care about the butt whooping my team is dishing out. I am starting to think that the tavern is the true high point of modern culture. First, there was the invention of fire, then the wheel came along, the TV and phone were big too, but all along we have gone to the tavern. It is the ultimate sanctuary combining all of the aspects of my happiness.

Finally, why would I ever leave a place that makes me happy? The happiness I find from my bed ends when the evil alarm clock goes off. Not only does it end, but the day is almost certainly going downhill from there with no chance of getting it back for a whole day. Eventually my mom inevitably gets sick of my lazy mooching and kicks me out the door to the harsh reality of my own adult life. Only the mighty tavern welcomes me without judgment or bias. As long as I can stay reasonably upright, they are happy to have me. When I leave my bed or my mom’s house the fun ends but when I leave the bar the drunkenness lasts for at least a few more hours. When it comes down to it happiness may be all about getting the best bang for my buck. HERE, HERE to the places that provides me with all I need and ask for so little in return.

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)