Category Archives: Observational Humor

Irony Happens: Just Say Know to Bumper Stickers

ironic-bumper-sticker

For some of us, the cars we drive define who we are, but it’s what people slap on their bumpers, hang from their rearview mirrors or mount in their rearview windows that reveal the soul behind the wheel of the exterior shell.

Unlike people who literally give their cars names, as if christening them will guarantee lower gas mileage or help them meet other cars in parking ramps, I refuse to forge emotional attachments to objects that are, one day, guaranteed to break down on me. Besides, objectifying cars is wrong.

If asked whether my car has a name or not, my standard response is “Oh sure, I call it ‘Piece of Crap.’” Not only do I not give my cars a name, but I refuse to buy a used car that has been named by the previous owner – a life-lesson I picked up from Stephen King’s cautionary tale “Christine.”

To be honest, I don’t really care what kind of car someone is driving, just as long as they’re not in front of me, driving 10 miles under the suggested speed limit. However, from a pop psychology standpoint, I am intrigued by the accessories people choose to adorn to their cars, especially when the added fixture is ironic when juxtaposed to the car and/or the car’s captain.

Take for example the other morning when I was one my way to work and the car in front of me was sporting a “Rednecks for Obama” bumper sticker. Not only did I find the sticker’s slogan itself a wee bit ironic, but the fact that it was slapped on a Volvo screamed irony. This is even more ironic, when considering that I live in Iowa City — a university town known for its liberal populace and dubbed “The Peoples’ Republic of Johnson County” by politicos across the Heartland. So the prospect of seeing a bonafide redneck driving around in broad daylight is rare and usually triggers campus security to declare an emergency and put the campus in lockdown mode.

Speaking of liberals, last July I moved into a neighborhood considered one of the most liberal bastions of Iowa City. I knew we would have trouble assimilating when I soon discovered we were the only ones on our side of the street, who are not in a band. Because we didn’t go through a realtor, we managed to fly under the Bohemian radar undetected. To help compensate for my musical ineptitude I started this blog, hoping this alone would be enough to keep the neighbors distracted, so they wouldn’t get suspicious when they didn’t hear me rehearsing for my next gig.

Moreover, our move was in the middle of the presidential campaign and we were thrust into the middle of a sign war. All of our neighbors had either anti-war or pro-peace signs in their yards, and I imagined when they talked about us, their conversation started off something like this:

Neighbor One: Have you met the new neighbors?

Neighbor Two: You mean the ones without an anti-war sign in their yard?

Needless to say, in lieu of having the faulty wiring redone, we had a security system installed – just in case Obama lost the election. In the meantime, I knew we needed to put a sign in our yard, but I was on the fence as to which route to take – pro-peace or anti-war? So I compromised by making own sign, plagiarizing a slogan from “Dr. Strangelove”: “Peace is Our Profession.”

Order your very own yard sign now (armed soldier not included)

Order your very own yard sign now (armed soldier not included)

Just to give you a sampling of the types of bumper stickers you would see in my neighborhood, one neighbor has a “I’d Rather Be Playing Scrabble” sticker on his pickup truck, while the neighbors across the street from us don an “I’m Pro-Accordion & I Vote” sticker on their station wagon.

This is a stark contrast to the blue collar neighborhood I lived in Grants Pass, Oregon ten years ago. My downstairs neighbor, who we hypothesized, based on the rancid, dead carcass burning smell that piped through our heating vents periodically, was making meth in his kitchen, had a truck that was steeped in ironic accessories. He parked his fully-loaded, black Dodge Ram next to my fun-size Volkswagon Golf. On some occasions, after a night of bar hopping and off-roading in the Oregon thicket, he parked in my spot — his truck serving as a makeshift carport for my Golf.

His truck was equipped with the naked lady mudflaps (speaking of which, I’m in the process of unleashing naked men mudflaps, trademark pending, to tap into the female and gay trucker target market), a chain adornment around his license plate, and not one but two “No Fear” stickers. The implicit irony of the “No Fear” campaign has never been lost on me, given those who truly possess no fear would not have to advertise this to the external world. This type of insecurity can be seen in doubting Christians, who sport crosses around their necks or tattoo their temples with crosses to let the world know they’re believers while simultaneously giving God a symbolic shout out – just in case the Almighty may have missed a beat on His watch.

So what are you afraid of, really?

So what are you afraid of, really?

What pushed my neighbor’s truck over the ironic edge is that he had a once-sacred Indian Dream Catcher hanging from his rearview mirror, thus warding off any evil spirits that might invade his dreams while sleeping. Why people are sleeping while driving is beyond me, unless the intent is to protect daydreams from evil spirits. But aren’t you supposed to be in control of your daydreams? Maybe the Dream Catchers serve as nocturnal car alarms that keep the cab safe while its master slumbers in the house.

Now don’t get me wrong, Iowa City, despite its insulated liberalism, is far from being immune to the fringe element of society that makes people watching a more interesting hobby and legitimate pastime. One of the most bizarre bumper stickers I’ve seen in town was one that read “Necrophilia: Never Too Late to Pop a Cold One.” I’ll admit that I did burst out laughing when I first saw this sticker, namely that somebody would actually buy it, let alone put it on their car, which in this case was a mini-van. I sped up to pass the vehicle, just so I could get a look at the twisted man commandeering the van.

Much to my shock and subsequent horror, a stereotypical soccer mom was driving and there were empty kids seats strapped in the back, as if she had just dropped the kids off at day care on the way to sleep with dead corpses. As a parent of three, I was dumfounded and hoped that she was borrowing the van from a relative who was serving a stretch in prison for public indecency and fornicating with the deceased.

Either way, it was this particular moment that I felt I truly did “Know Fear.”

Thank Darwin for Prednisone

“So I have this rash…” has been a great icebreaker for the past few weeks when talking to friends, colleagues, and strangers at the bus stop. I’ve grown tired of talking and hearing about the weather, especially when the subject is broached while outside:

Stranger: It sure is cold out here. (hands tucked up in arm pits, shivers while waiting for me to agree with statement of obvious).

Me: (wearing puffy snow suit, scarf, and ear muffs) Really, I hadn’t notice.

Stranger: It’s supposed to get even colder the next few days.

Me: So I have this rash…

Stranger: (suddenly uncomfortable and at a loss of words, relieved by emergence of bus) Well here’s our chariot.

Me: Do you mind if we sit together? I would love to tell you all about my rash…

Despite the past couple thousand years of evolving, assuming you buy into Darwin’s theory, our species has yet to find a solution to deal with uncomfortable encounters with strangers in small, compact spaces. We tried silence, but that merely created a new problem that needed to be dealt with: repressed tension.

To deal with this, some sadistic bastard created Muzak – faux music which strips the soul out of its original recording to keep compliant with current copyright laws. As is the case with most innocuous inventions and discoveries (e.g. splitting of atom), Muzak was used for evil purposes. Muzak, for example, when not used to extract vital information from detainees at Guantanamo Bay, is pumped into elevators to sedate unsuspecting guinea pigs as a means of keeping us from turning on each other in a raging fit of uncomfortable silence.

For the most part it worked. How often do you see random acts of Elevator Rage splashed across newspaper headlines?

“Breaking: 13 Killed in Elevator Rage Incident, While Going Up”

jerry_elevator

Site of deadly episode of Elevator Rage allegedly spawned by Muzak version of “Rage Against the Machine” song

But I digress, dear Reader.

So I have this rash…and what better way to celebrate a full-body rash and the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin than a trip to the dermatologist, eh?

That’s where I was headed when I met up with the reluctant Stranger at the bus stop. My conversation-starter didn’t quite seduce the gentleman at the bus stop, who upon boarding, bolted to the only open seat in the back of the bus. I sat up front, feeling what the lepers must have felt when the Christians relegated them to the lazar section of the bus — named after Lazarus, patron saint of lepers and public transportation.

“Viva la Lazarus!”

Now, I’m willing to bet a pound of dead skin that nobody starts off in the medical profession by openly admitting: “I’ve always dreamt that of one day I will become a dermatologist.”

I’m guessing that dermatology is one of those fallback occupations in the medical field – should you not make the final cut for one of your top choices – brain or plastic surgeon (depending on what you’re more attracted to).

When I was plugging away on my undergraduate degree in Open Major at the University of Iowa, the fall back major was Communication Studies. Nobody started off on this track, but after partying leap-frogged academics on the priority list, this is where a lot of people were derailed, including my roommate, who later dropped out altogether. He was quick to rationalize his fall from academic grace, citing Tom Brokaw as his poster-boy for success:

“Brokaw flunked out of Communications at Iowa, and look at him now.”

True, Brokaw did drop out of UI, where he says he majored in “beer and co-eds,” but I was quick to remind my roommate that he also finished his degree at the University of South Dakota, not to mention his nabbed 17 honorary degrees without having dropped a single dime for tuition.

Instead of minoring in Beer & Co-eds, maybe I should have double-majored, so I would have had something to fall back on in case my Open Major didn’t pan out.

So you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with my rash, huh?

Which leads to why I found myself sitting in the dermatologist’s office with a rash that had consumed most of my body, thinking about Darwin and evolution theory. The walls in the waiting room and the examination rooms were covered with photographs of underwater sea creatures. I tried to figure out a possible motif linking these creatures to dermatology when it dawned on me that they breathe through their skin. Skin is their essence.

Sure looks fishy to me

Sure looks fishy to me

I suspected my rash was an allergic reaction to laundry detergent. Thanks to the recent downturn in the economy, I’ve had to alter my normal shopping habits. Normally, when the economy is on the upswing and I’m poor but not dirt poor, I tend to buy the second-to-cheapest product on the brand chain. Not only does this help feed the illusion that I’m not a bottom feeder, but I found the thought of playing Consumer Russian Roulette exhilarating as well.

That said, I purchased the cheapest laundry detergent on the shelf.

Bang! I lost.

My dermatologist, who I suspected dreamt of a life in plastic surgery before his Darwinian fall from grace, confirmed my suspicions. His diagnosis: an allergic reaction to cheap shit.

The cure: a steady dosage of Prednisone and a 12-step program to break my addiction to cheap shit.
Speaking of Darwin, I realize there are still skeptics out there who don’t buy into his theories on evolution, but clearly none of these naysayers saw how my rash evolved on my body. It started off as a small colony on my forearms before spawning sub-colonies that spread up my arms that eventually descended down to my ankles, where they set up temporary shop.

Sure, the Creationists will argue that my spreading rash is all part of the Creator’s master plan to keep me from buying cheap crap, but I turned to a more reputable source for guidance: The Flying Spaghetti Monster of the Church of FSM.

the new Creationism of Choice

Join The Church of FSM: the new Creationism of Choice

For whatever reason, I find the Almighty FSM’s beliefs easier to swallow.

Thank Darwin for that.

(Update: T.M. Lindsey is currently rash-free and would like to thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s creations for creating non-generic Prednisone. Let it be noted that T.M. is also enjoying the uptick side-effects of Prednisone and has gone five days without purchasing cheap, toxin-filled products; although thanks to the former he has yet to enjoy taking the latter.)

Facebook Status Update: Big Brother is Watching You!

Five years ago, the thought of having to wear a GPS ankle bracelet so authorities could track your whereabouts may have been humiliating, but a suitable alternative to prison.

Now, thanks to online social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, these tracking devices are on the path to extinction as millions of American choose to be voluntarily tracked, preferring a virtual imprisonment over a life of privacy.

Okay, so I’m guilty of falling prey to these temptations — namely for networking reasons, finding long-lost friends, and helping the FBI shave off man-hours as they keep tabs on my subversive humor and satirical attacks on government institutions. I realize that humorists/satirists are somewhere between Jehovah Witnesses and Salvation Army Bell Ringers on the FBI’s watch list, but every minute I give back to the bureau can be better spent tracking down the real criminals: offshore bankers and video pirates.

By the way, did I mention I’m a Conspiracy Theorist? Yeah, you heard me right Mr. FBI Guy; stuff that in your secret computer file and smoke it. Ever since I read George Orwell’s “1984” in eighth grade, I’m convinced that Big Brother is watching my every move. For example, I refuse to use automatic toilets in public restrooms, sensing they are elaborate tracking devices that record your whereabouts and activities via the red lights.

"It always feels like, somebody's watching me..."

"It always feels like, somebody's watching me..."

Therapist Bob said this is absurd, but I’m not about to take any chances and flush my rights away.

And now we’re seeing the trickle down effects of Big Brother as local authorities are getting into the social spying networking game. Just recently a female college student was reported missing in Iowa City after a night of drinking with her real friends. Hmmmm….I’m sure this never happens in a college town, thus raising red flags down at the police department.

Local peace officers eventually tracked her down, claiming they used Facebook to discover her whereabouts. They did not say how they did this, but I imagine they sent her a Friend Request. Nothing like getting one of these in you notification box: “The Iowa City Police Department wants to be your friend: Confirm?”

By the way, if anyone receives the following status update from me, you know something is amiss and should text message the authorities immediately:

T.M. Lindsey is enjoying shopping for women’s underwear at Wal-Mart.”

Anyone who really knows me would know that I would not be caught dead shopping at Wal-Mart. And if I was caught dead, the county coroner, thankfully, would be the only witness as to why I was shopping there in the first place. I’ll plea the fifth on this one.

Then along comes Twitter, for those folks who just can’t leave home without their personal trackers.

I will admit that I have yet to take the full plunge into Twitter, namely because I’ve developed a false Messiah complex and worry that a bunch of my followers will start their own narcissistic pilgrimages into the blogsphere and start publishing their own musings from the basement while wearing pajamas and women’s underwear.

I am not wired to handle this much responsibility.

And in Twitterville, if you are not being followed, you are following somebody else, thus completing the full circle of consensual stalking. Iowa City’s neighbor, Coralville, has gone Twitter, including its police department. Not sure who would intentionally want the police department following them, but I imagine it’s the same folks who actually talk to pollsters when they Break & Enter their phone lines.

But what does the Facebook phenomenon reveal about our need-for-attention culture? On a basic level, isn’t Facebook the mere equivalent of standing at the end of the diving board at the virtual pool and shouting to all of your friends: “Look at me! Look at me!”?

"Are you ready to take the Facebook plunge? Jump! Jump! Jump! ... Jump!"

"Jump! Jump! Jump! ... Jump!"

Are you ready to take the Facebook plunge?

Moreover, Facebook serves as a virtual playground for adults, who can tag and poke each other without fear of having their recess stripped from them. These behaviors, however, serve as naughty gateway behaviors leading to bigger and more dangerous behaviors such as writing on friends’ walls. “Friends don’t let friends write on friend’s walls.”

It won’t be long before Facebook goes below the neck and launches an adult version that begs the status update question: “What are you wearing right now?”

T.M. Lindsey is not wearing women’s underwear at the moment.”

This Commercial Won’t Be Televised During Super Bowl XLIII

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “I only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials,” I could, well, buy my own $3 million 30-second spot during this year’s Super Bowl in Tampa Bay.

My usual response to these unsolicited declarations is: “I can totally relate. I only go to museums for the popcorn.” This emits a look of confusion on the receiving end as if they’re wondering if they had dialed the wrong number when calling someone who cares. Better yet, they are trying to remember the last time they went to the museum, and if they sold popcorn to the audience at the time.

But ultimately, my non-sequitur response serves as an effective conversation-stopper, damning up the deluge of past Super Bowl commercial memories waiting to drown me out by the water cooler at work.

What I really want to ask these commercial aficionados is “Is there really such thing as a good commercial? Or is ‘good commercial’ an oxymoron?” Then I would have to explain oxymoron, something they used to know the meaning of before they picked up an addiction to commercials on the airwaves.

A lot of these people aren’t aware they have C.A. (Commercial Addiction) because they are living in denial or have subconsciously masked their feelings by purchasing Tivo.

That’s why if I could turn my aforementioned hypothesis into reality, I would purchase a 30-second slot during tonight’s Super Bowl and run the following Public Service Announcement:

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN:

wet_brain1

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON COMMERCIALS:

sean-of-dead

This is your brain on SAY SOMETHING FUNNY:

einstein12_375

ANY QUESTIONS?

This Public Sevice Announcement was sponsored by Say Something Funny and was produced with no overhead costs. No brain cells were damaged, zombified or killed in the making of this post.

SPAM Prevention 101: If you can read or eat this, you are obviously drunk

Whether it’s consciously eating a can o’ SPAM or trying to decipher the hieroglyphics posing as electronic-spam prevention codes, you have to be drunk to successfully complete either task.

Rarely do I enter the correct anti-spam code on the first time. Whether the letters or letter-number combos are blurred, Siamese letters that share the same backbone, or have random tails or kerchiefs scripted on them, I’m convinced you have to be under the influence of alcohol to actually read them.

When cracked under the influence of whiskey, this code actually says "SATAN'S REVENGE"

When cracked under the influence of whiskey, this code actually says "SATAN'S REVENGE"

Consequently, I keep a full supply of whiskey nearby in case I cannot crack the code.

(Note: This entire post was composed under the influence of alcohol and a moderate serving of SPAM.)

Just say "NO" to SPAM and booze! (official slogan of M.A.D.S. -- Mothers Against Drunk SPAMmers)

Just say "NO" to SPAM and booze! (official slogan of M.A.D.S. -- Mothers Against Drunk SPAMmers)

Speaking of which, had I read the Surgeon General’s Warning printed in .2 font on the bottom of the can, I would have known better than mixing booze and SPAM together.

Surgeon General’s Warning: SPAM contains a number of unidentifiable chemicals and is a gateway artificial meat that leads to the consumption of bigger, more dangerous artificial meats. Pregnant women caving to SPAM cravings during the third trimester may give birth to a seven-pound Golden Honey Grail SPAM. Overconsumption or habitual abuse of SPAM may result in abuser to indulge in writing SPAM Haikus.

Fortunately, I’m not pregnant and only ate seven cans of SPAM.

The writing of this post was interrupted by an impulse to write SPAM Haikus:

Inbred pork and ham.
Fluids copulate, ferment
Together, forever.

The forbidden meat.
Who opened Spamdora’s Box?
Hope drowned in SPAM juice.

Now where was I…?

Post Epilogue: SPAM and electronic-spamming share more than the recipient’s dependency on alcohol. The term “spamming” derived its name from a Monty Python Flying Circus comedy sketch on SPAM, which targeted the Brit’s World War II cuisine. For whatever reason SPAM flew under the RAF’s radar for rationed meats, probably because it’s not meat.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus: “SPAM”

In the marketing spirit of “there is no such advertising as bad advertising,” Hormel, the fine makers of SPAM not only refused to have their marriage to lower-caps spam annulled but have actually embraced it as well with the Spamalot Musical and SPAMALOT game.

Keep your hands off my drugs, Big Brother

This year, despite the fact I’m not even remotely religious, I’ve decided to give up Responsibility for Lent.

Why not? When in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, might as well do as what Jesus would do, eh?

Why responsibility, you ask?

For starters, responsible people, ever since the beginning of time, have always been getting the short end of the snake. Just ask Eve. (Ba-dum-bum—Ching! I couldn’t resist, which is not a good sign that I’m going to successfully resist responsibility for 40 days.)

If you need more anecdotal evidence that the Responsible are always getting screwed, read “The Book of Ecclesiastes” in the Old Testament. And if you’re still not satisfied and need a more reputable source, I suggest you look up “Responsible People Are Eternally Doomed” on Wikipedia to feed any empirical doubts you may have been harboring. Trust me, it’s there. I should know because I added the entry late last night while the Wiki-Police were off chasing my soon-to-be irresponsible brethren. God I can’t wait for Lent to begin. Oh the Sinful Places I will Go.

Now I’ve been responsible my entire life, maybe too responsible for that matter, but I stared responsibility down the other day for the last time (an epic battle indeed) at a nearby pharmacy while trying to purchase a box of Suphedrine, or what I call Suphadrain, from the certified Pusher behind the counter.

"C'mon and pick a drug. Any drug."

My Local Pusher: "C'mon and pick a drug. Any drug."

This showdown was brought about by the fact that I live in Iowa which has, among several other states, been vying for the celebrated title of “Meth Capital of the World” on the reality show “America’s Top Meth State.” While California has taken an early lead, drawing on its eternal life-line to Mexico for the new and improved Methamphetamines, Iowa is pushing its per capita argument on the judges as homegrown Iowa fans fill the studio audience and initiate a challenge cheer:

We got meth, yes we do;
We got meth, how about you?

The California contingency fires back:

We got the most.
We got the most.

Iowa’s chances of bringing home the Meth Capital title were seriously hindered a few years ago when Gov. Tom Vilsack signed one of the toughest anti-meth laws in the country, which bans over-the-counter sales of anything and everything containing pseudoephedrine, including pseudoephedrine.

As fate would have it my beloved Suphadrain falls into this category, because it contains a key ingredient for meth that had sent Mom and Pop Meth Makers all over town inconspicuously buying large quantities of Suphadrain.

Cashier: Do you know how many boxes of that stuff you have in your cart?

Meth Head: Oh, you mean these? There are only 200 boxes. My sinuses do overwhelm me during these troubled times.

Cashier: I hear you. Trust me, you’re not alone. I’ve had several people in here just today buying 200 to 300 boxes of Suphedrine.

Meth Head: ‘Tis the season.

Cashier: We can’t seem to keep the stuff on the shelves. Have I nice day.

Meth Head: Oh, I will now. Thanks.

Once again, thanks to the irresponsible folks who discovered a cheap way to get high and cut sleeping out of their busy schedules to make time to make more meth, I have to jump through several bureaucratic loopholes to get some sinus relief.

Now I have to go through The Man, Big Brother, to get my Suphadrain fix. After showing one of his Pushers my driver’s license, who enters the information on a computer to make sure I don’t have too many meth-purchasing priors on my record. Worse, I feel like the Pusher is undressing my intentions with his eyes, wondering why I bought the 96-count box, when I could just as easily have bought the 24-count.

Meanwhile the sinus pressure continues to build exponentially in my head as my skull slowly expands to epic Elephantitus portions. It was only then that I truly understood what the Elephant Man must have felt like every day of his life.

This is me perusing impulse buys at the drugstore while waiting for my Suphadrain fix to get filled by the neighborhood Pusher

This is me perusing impulse buys at the drugstore while waiting for my Suphadrain fix to get filled by the neighborhood Pusher: "I am not a Meth Head, I am a human being with a sinus problem."

What our nanny government fails to realize that if there is a will, there is a way. People who have hit rock bottom and need a cheap escape, albeit temporary, will try anything to get high. It won’t be long before we’ll have to go through the same inquisition to buy Suphadrain to buy glue, whipped cream, paint thinner, Depends diapers (don’t ask), perfumes/man juice, and the list of other potential mind-altering drugs goes on.

In the meantime to avoid the hassle and humility of buying Suphadrain from one of The Man’s dealers, I’ve decided to take the cheaper and easier route by cutting out the middle man and going straight to the source. Now I just buy meth from unlicensed dealers and cut out the pseudoephedrine to help ease my overwhelming sinus pressure.

This is me after a quick Suphadrain fix

This is me after a small dose of Suphadrain

I can see myself quickly getting addicted to sticking it to The Man.

Prologue: ‘Say Something Funny’ or Die

In the global world of comedy, “Say something funny” is the ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD), claiming more lives and quick-witted tongues than the WMDs stored on temporary U.S. military bases scattered across the sands of Iraq.

On the list of top Say Somethings, “Say something funny” holds the second spot, wedged between the frontrunner “Say something romantic” and “Say something to help cheer me up.” “Say something clever” and “Say something (uncomfortable pause here) anything!” round out the top five.

Anyone who has been involved in a romantic relationship knows the underlying power of “Say something romantic,” especially when ensnared in the midst of a heated moment of unbridled passion. Nothing kills this moment, besides the sound of symphonic snoring, faster than being put on the spot by the volatile “Say something romantic” game changer.

FADE IN: You’re looking into your lover’s eyes whose pupils have metamorphosed into green flashing lights, indicating the love train is right on schedule, and before you can blink, the green lights flash red and you get the pull-back, followed by “Say something romantic” as she probes your slumbering soul through your now dilated pupils.

Granted, most experienced lovers bred out of the Boy Scout always-be-prepared ilk have catalogued a number of responses in their mental rolodex, under “E” for Emergency, for such occasions. But execution is not always a guarantee in these on-the-spot moments, especially when your hormones are doing everything in their power to execute a coup d’etat on your brain.

First, you can say nothing and officially kill the moment, quite possibly forever.

Or you can try and say something that doesn’t sound disingenuous or ripped off from Dylan Thomas or Arthur Fonzarelli — who successfully mastered these situations by not saying anything at all and tilting his head and/or snapping his fingers. (Not bad for a guy who never moved out of his apartment above his best friend’s garage, eh?)

Here are some romantic gems I’ve stockpiled for such occasions:

1. Who needs romantic words when your beauty gave me wings to transcend such mortal trappings?
2. I knew we were destined to be together forever the moment Cupid shot his fated arrow at us, skewering our hearts together on a soul-mate shish kabob.
3. My love for you is like my love for you, only way stronger.
4. You were the first shooting star in my parallel universe and now that we’ve crossed, nothing can tear us apart – not even our feuding parents or the restraining order your father had the courts put on me.
5. Can we just look into each other’s eyes and let them speak the words that cannot be found to accurately describe our love?

For the record, none of these proved worthy of successfully wooing my would-be lovers; although I’m still batting .800 on the pity scale, not to mention I’ve had a few unsolicited offers from Hallmark greeting card headhunters.

CUT TO:

Like its distant cousin “Say something romantic,” “Say something funny” also comes equipped with a lot of baggage and unrealistic expectations on the part of the person calling you out, who usually does so to impress other people at your expense. Such was the case during my formative years while growing up with six children in the family.

The competition for attention in my family was fierce, not to mention I was the fifth born of the second three-pronged tier of kids, so I had to somehow find my own niche. My sister, number four in the clan and four years my senior, was the beauty queen of the family and was often introduced by my parents with “Is she drop-dead gorgeous or what?”

My brother inherited the same genes as my sister and was content playing right field, but occasionally fielded the heralded “He’s so cute” compliments from my parents and sister’s friends.

Meanwhile, I inherited bad eyes and was cursed with a pair of glasses in second grade that had lenses resembling the bottoms of 1970s Coca-Cola bottles. I had my work cut out for me, so I turned to my four-eyed muse Woody Allen for inspiration. After all, his comedic script-writing talents helped him write himself into script splaying alongside a gorgeous leading lady who invariably had to kiss him before the final credits scrolled down the screen.

Knowing my penchant for saying something unpredictable and off-the-wall, my mother would strike preemptively in mixed company, especially among a group of adults I had not met, by introducing me: “Oh, this is Tommy,” she would say, as if she was either saving me for last, hoping her company’s attention span would turn to something other than roll call, or she nearly forgot she had a fifth kid between numbers four and six.

“He’s so creative,” she would say. Fearing her new acquaintances didn’t believe her, she would follow up with “Say something funny, Tommy.”

Great, I thought. My mom pimped me out, yet again, to score bonus points with her newfound trial-basis friends. Her very own court jester to break the ice, which I imagined they sunk in their martinis after I had finished performing my stand-up bit.

Unfortunately I was not a human Pez dispenser of candied witticisms, on-the-spot anecdotes for any occasion, or canned jokes, so I was usually stricken with mental paralysis. Having learned that the say-something-funny button on my back did not always work, my mom would break the uncomfortable moment by telling one of her own rolodex anecdotes catalogued under “F” for “Funny” and spin one of her top “One time Tommy said this or said that” yarns to help illustrate that I was indeed creative and that she was not losing her mind — despite the myth at the time that women who give birth to six or more children were bound to go crazy and were lost forever in the yellow wallpaper.

Over time I did manage to come up with my own defense mechanisms for these uncomfortable moments, whether it was my mother or one of my friends trying to impress a new friend by putting me on the spot and telling me to “Say something funny.”

The quick out was to simply reply “Something funny,” which not only bought me time to think of something that was actually funny, but helped my gauge my audience. If they laughed at this sophomoric retort, I knew I had an easy mark. If they looked at me quizzically and wondered if that was the best I could do, I knew I had my work cut out for me — thus increasing spite for whomever put me in this predicament in the first place.

Having “Say something funny” hang over my head all my life, waiting to fall on me like a cartoon anvil, has left a new strand of mental scars in my mind’s DNA, or at least that is what my shrink Therapist Bob tells me.

And it was Therapist Bob who suggested that I take my mother’s lead and strike preemptively and take control of “Say something funny,” before it finally does me in and sends me packing to the funny farm. He suggested I start a humor blog and name it “Say Something Funny,” which will be the first step in battling the very three words that have haunted me since childhood.

That said, I present to you, dear Reader: “Say Something Funny.”