Somebody Must Have Stepped On A Butterfly.

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This essay is about Time Travel. We must first, however, start at the beginning.

I didn’t have many talents as a child, but I did learn to read at an extremely young age. Thanks to the tireless urging of my parents, I remember going into Kindergarten already knowing how to read just about anything. To this day, relatives at family reunions will inevitably remark about how I was reading the local newspaper at age two, or reciting Pro Wrestling magazine articles verbatim before preschool. It’s something I never thought too much about, but I do suppose it’s a nice little achievement. I don’t recall a time where I didn’t know how to read; it was always just one of those things that brought a rotating cavalcade of counselors and ‘gifted class’ invitations to my doorstep back in the 80’s.

One of the first book collections that I ever obsessed over was the Berenstein Bears. Since 1962, over 260 Berenstein Bears books have been published, along with numerous television shows and video games. The Berenstein’s, an anthropomorphic bear family of four, taught me about not talking to strangers, minding my manners, budgeting my allowance and not throwing tantrums in supermarkets. The Berenstein Bears were good people, just trying to raise a family in a hollowed-out tree, just like everyone else.

Now, when I say I obsessed over the Berenstein Bears, I absolutely mean it. I got every book on the day it came out and read every one of them cover-to-cover, sometimes dozens in one night. When insomnia got the best of me, I would stay up all night counting the words in each book, literally disseminating every scrap of literature I could from within the page. The Berenstein Bears became a part of me in a way that not even the authors could have possibly predicted. They were my sanctuary, my confidant, my escape and my anxiety medication. The Berenstein Bears were my second family.

So imagine my brain-melting surprise when I turned on my television last week to see the Berenstain Bears looking back at me.

Berenstain, not Berenstein.

A quick dash to the Internet left me baffled. Apparently, the Berenstain Bears were always the Berenstain Bears; always written that way and always pronounced that way (‘stain,’ not ‘steen’). For the last 25 years, I had been incorrectly attributing a name to what I thought was a family I knew absolutely everything about. After all the books, all the memorization and all the obsessing, how on Earth could I have overlooked the fact that I’ve been reading and saying their name wrong for my entire life?

Surely, this had to be incorrect. I went to the Children’s section of the bookstore. All Berenstain. I traced the lineage of the book series back to 1962. All Berenstain. I even looked at old photographs of me reading the books. All Berenstain. It was like a cognitive blockade. I was wrong, and I had always been wrong, about the true identity of the Berenstain Bears.

I initially felt bad for myself, but only because of my egotism. I was never wrong about these sorts of things. I am always the guy that knows the correct name, pronunciation and spelling of everything. It’s something I take pride in, and a huge pet peeve of mine when I see others lacking it. More than anything, I was left really, really confused. This all seemed…wrong. Like my childhood had changed on me when I briefly had my back turned. Some sort of divine episode of Candid Camera.

Then, something interesting (to only me, perhaps) happened. I started talking to people my age about the Berenstain Bears. I made a point to A) Talk to people that read the books as a kid, but hadn’t really thought about them since, and B) Initially pronounced it ‘Berenstein’ as a way to see if they caught my error right off the bat. I didn’t think it was fair to talk to parents that now saw the books as part of their daily routine and could answer the question with the clear, present logic of an adult. I specifically wanted to see if the collective childhood experience of everyone from my generation was bizarrely shifted for one reason or another.

And you know what? Every single person I talked to was as baffled as I was. They were all certain, so damn certain, that it had always been the Berenstein Bears, even to the point of becoming sort of confused and frightened afterward (they almost always asked for proof). Weirdly, I was not the only one this had happened to.

How does something like this happen? How does a seemingly vivid childhood detail get incorrectly remembered by nearly everyone in the exact same way? Statistically, the odds were astronomical. There had to be some sort of explanation; some way this cosmic hiccup could be explained away.

Time Travel. Hang on tight.

My theory is this. At some point between the years 1986 and 2011, someone traveled back in time and inadvertently altered the timeline of human history so that the Berenstein Bears somehow became the Berenstain Bears. This is why everyone remembers the name incorrectly; it was Berenstein when we were kids, but at some point when we weren’t paying attention, someone went back in time and rippled our life experience ever so slightly. Perhaps other things have changed as well, but this is the only detail we’ve discovered so far.

We all know how the Butterfly Effect works. Someone travels back in time, being mindful to not break anything and alter the future as it’s supposed to play out. However, this person accidentally leaves a toolbox behind in the year 1410. Because of this, 1400’s technology rapidly evolves and advances faster than our known history dictates, so when our time traveler returns to 2011, he finds that the planet is significantly more futuristic than he remembers. Or perhaps when he was in 1410, he sneezed on someone, giving them a virus that no human was immune to in the 15th Century. He then returns to 2011 to find that he’s the last man on Earth, having wiped out the entire species 600 years ago with what we now think of as the common cold.

This is the only explanation I can surmise. At some point in the last 24 years, someone went back in time, spilled some ink on a piece of parchment, and permanently changed the last names of Stan and Jan Berenstain forever. Poof! The books changed, the photographs changed, the very text on every last page changed. The only thing that couldn’t be changed was our memory of how it was before the Incident occurred.

This is the only logical solution. Me being incorrect is unpossible.

Example #1 and Example #2. (NOTE: Links have gone dead over the years.) – I like these threads, because in each one, my theory that the titles changed at some point fits in with the claims of people swearing they had copies of the book where the name was spelled Berenstein (with no visual proof). I felt the same way; my brain had never been so photographically incorrect before. Something is afoot; there is only truth and credibility on Yahoo! Answers and websites about the dreadlocked lifestyle.

Example #3. (NOTE: Links have gone dead over the years.) – This is my favorite example. This dude proceeds to write a (not so) humorous blog post about the ‘Jewish’ nature of the bears’ namesake, seemingly unaware that he’s got the name totally wrong. Funnier still, the essay is woven around a half-dozen photos of the books, making him look like a complete dumbass in the process. My theory is that he wrote the essay before the Incident, only to return to his website to find that all of the images had changed on him to reflect our newly-altered Universe. I also surmise that this realization caused him to go insane and kill himself.

The only naysayer to this theory, so far, is the Missus. Every time it comes up (more often when I’m drunk), she gets extremely annoyed, proclaims my memory to be faulty and begs me to just shut up already so we can play Scrabble. She can’t stop the conversation fast enough, and even claims that she ‘always remembered it as Berenstain.’

This leads me to yet another airtight conclusion: My wife was the time traveler in question, futilely covering her tracks as to not be discovered. I have found you out, woman. You may have had a good run working as an intergalactic spy, but you weren’t going to fool me forever, Miss Reptile In Human Skin That Married Me So She Could Suckle My Marrow While I Slept. She thought she could shuttle back and forth through time without anyone noticing, and she did for awhile, but eventually slipped up and depended on the collective apathy of Generation X to doubt their childhood memories and overlook the ole’ Berenstein/Berenstain switcheroo. What she didn’t expect was that her husband, the man closest to her, happened to be a historian of the very book series she forever altered.

The jig is up, Skinwalker. I’m solving this mystery, and I want a divorce.

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CDP Wayback Machine – New World Lunatic Edition.

The Conspiracy Starts Here.
(‘The Conspiracy Starts Now.’ – Originally published July 24, 2006.)

It was almost 100 degrees that day. I blame the government.

I had heard about Dundee’s annual ‘UFO Days’ convention a few weeks prior, while scouring the internet for interesting places in Wisconsin to visit. Me and the Missus try to do this once every few weeks; get out of the house, visit some unincorporated shell of a town, eat grilled cheese and buy antiques.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that the ‘UFO Capitol of the World’ was less than 80 miles from my doorstep! To be fair, there were at least two other Wisconsin towns that proclaimed themselves ‘UFO Capitol of the World;’ I think someone needs to regulate that title a little more closely. Nonetheless, we packed the car and hit the road before 10am on Saturday.

Hmm...this doesn't look like the UFO capitol of the world.

Okay, this would normally be the point in the essay where I would get into how this convention wasn’t even close to what I expected, but I’ll let my notes speak for themselves. These are the blurbs I scribbled to myself on the way home, as to not forget what I had just witnessed. Take a look:

a) Expected something lighthearted and fun, did not deliver.

b) Heat index of +100 with no air-conditioning; people blamed the weather on a worldwide conspiracy to shut the convention down, seriously.

c) Main speaker guy looked just like Dale Gribble; initially thought he was kidding, was not.

d) Ranting old man was carrying around a Weekly World News; also not kidding.

e) Casual conversations about chips in your head abound.

f) Government-controlled weather. government-controlled weather.

g) New world order, concentration camps, aliens, George W. Bush, Jesus and the NWO.

h) Speaker mentioned in passing that someone was in telepathic contact with an alien.

i) Stuck around for a couple hours; got the hell outta there and didn’t look back.

j) Had to leave rad alien mask in the car, didn’t want to scare locals who were actually quite scared of aliens.

k) People had poor attitude; didn’t like aliens and didn’t welcome them. Sad, really.

It was so hot...

Yeah, that’s right. It was so hot in there that I went temporarily insane and drank a Budweiser. I hadn’t been that oily since high school.

What I thought was going to be a fun and lighthearted romp concerning the UFO phenomenon more closely resembled a room full of folks suspicious and afraid of absolutely everything. As the speakers’ allegations got more and more outlandish, the people around me just nodded more and more. Every few seconds, me and Missus exchanged glances as if to say, “Glad we brought the camera, nobody’s going to freaking believe this.”

I must say that for a few seconds, I was actually agreeing with what they had to say. For example:

Speaker: “All of these bad things are because of the Bush administration.”
Me: “Yup, can’t argue with that.”

Speaker: “They want to make your lives miserable.”
Me: “True ‘dat. Preach on!”

Speaker: “They have a machine that controls the weather.”
Me: “Where are my keys?”

Still don’t believe me? I have some video I’d like you to take a peek at. I must warn you, however, you’re going to forget what life was like before you watched this. I shot it myself:

So, what have we learned? To be honest, I don’t really know. I still believe in the idea of UFO’s, but I also believe in truckloads of medication to treat paranoid delusions.

Sound off in the comments section before I’m located and burned at the stake.

The Most Realistic Video Game Ever Made.

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A few months ago, we finally bought a PS3. This allowed me to play UFC Undisputed 2010, a game that (as a huge MMA fan) I had been itching to get my hands on for quite some time.

True story. I remember being a 12-year old kid, watching UFC IV and thinking to myself, “They should make a UFC video game!” I remember drawing out a ‘blueprint’ on computer paper for what the game would look like; I didn’t get much further than the title screen and character select, but from what I remember, it looked pretty fantastic. Each fighter would have a button-mashing finishing move or submission, there would be a tournament bracket (in those days, you had to fight up to three times in a night), announcers, introductions, the whole nine yards. It would be released on the Sega Genesis to critical acclaim, catapulting the Ultimate Fighting Championship into the mainstream and changing the way video games would be created from that point forward.

As it turned out, I mostly just ripped off Mortal Kombat, but I think I was still way ahead of my time. 15 years later, and UFC Undisputed 2010 looks exactly the way I had envisioned it back in 1994. I am also about to argue that it’s the most realistic video gaming experience I have ever had.

One of the cool things about Undisputed (and most games in general nowadays), is that they turn the reigns over to you when it comes to creating a character from scratch. From skin tone to hair follicles to specific tattoos, you’re now able to literally put yourself into the game. As a kid playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!, I fantasized about a game where I was the main character (admittedly, Little Mac looked a lot like me already). These days, it’s the norm.

For the first two hours after turning on Undisputed ’10, I meticulously stressed over every angstrom, nuance and subtle characteristic of my virtual doppelganger. He looked exactly like me in every way. 5’10”. 155 pounds. The palest possible skin setting. The slightest hint of abdominal muscles. Sideburns that compensate for the fact that one of my ears is lower than the other. SimRyan was a work of art.

I was so excited and proud of the creation I had concocted. Not being a hardcore gamer, this was a rare opportunity to see myself immersed in a virtual world, and while I felt like an old man by being blown away by this, I wasn’t about to forget why I bought the game in the first place. SimRyan needed to fight someone, and now. I immediately placed him in a match against 155lb. powerhouse (and one of my favorite fighters) Clay ‘The Carpenter’ Guida, in what I could only assume would be a fight for the ages.

Here’s what I forgot to do.

I was so intensely focused on creating SimRyan as a perfect replicant of myself, that I neglected to go to the screen marked ‘Attributes’ and assign him with, you know, any sort of fighting skills whatsoever. Punching power? Submission defense? Awareness and Speed? Nothing. Zero points. A newborn lamb had more evolutionary mechanics than the clone of myself I just placed in a Mixed Martial Arts throwdown.

I wasn’t aware of this until the bell rang and the fight started, which by then was already too late for poor, defenseless SimRyan. I shambled towards the center of the Octagon like a drunk in a taffy vat, my arms drooped to either side and my feet shuffling like I had just gotten dumped. SimRyan made brief eye contact with his opponent, but because he wasn’t assigned any sort of fighting instincts by yours truly, he simply stood there and greeted his fellow gladiator, woefully oblivious as to what was about to transpire.

Fortunately, it was over quickly. SimRyan threw two of the saddest, limpest-wristed punches in the history of MMA towards Guida’s chest, and was promptly uppercut so hard that he was nearly blasted through the cage of the Octagon. His mouthpiece flew into the audience, blood was everywhere, and the announcers acted like they had just seen the first documented murder in the history of the sport. My guy was apparently so injured that the physicians had to airlift him to the hospital before the official decision was announced. He was nowhere to be seen at the post fight announcement, which I later found out is very atypical unless your CPU happens to be dead.

SimRyan retired from the UFC with a record of 0-1 that night. His whereabouts are currently unknown, but my guess is that he’s in a rehab facility somewhere, feverishly hammering a square peg into a round hole, while nurses shake their heads and silently weep for his future.

It is for these reasons that UFC Undisputed is the most realistic game I have ever played. Not because of the HD graphics, not because of the 5.1 surround sound, and not because of the physics and statistics.

Nope, Undisputed is the most realistic game I’ve ever played because this is exactly what would have happened had it been me in there.

Happy 7th Anniversary; Sorry I Ruined Your Life.

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INTRO.

I don’t believe in doomed fate, negative karma or bad luck. But if I did, I would believe that I suffer from it on a level slightly above annoyance and just below real danger.

Unfortunately for the Missus, this was the contract she unknowingly signed into when she married me. It matters not if she were a lucky person before we met; any positive vibes she had sent out into the world in the hopes of some sort of future karmic retribution became null and void when she began sleeping with me. She knows this (and has, to the best of my knowledge, accepted it the best she can), but it doesn’t make me any less empathetic for her plight when it comes around to ruin her weekend.

Our 7th wedding anniversary was last week, and to celebrate, we bought each other tattoos. Now, the Missus and I aren’t made of money by any means (my shoes have been crudely fashioned out of soda cans), but the last couple months have been surprisingly good to us. We received a perfect storm of bonus paychecks, overtime hours (more on that another time), royalties, ad money, generous gifts and various other revenue that put us in a position to pay some stuff off and still spend a little on ourselves in the process. Considering that I just had to put over $1000 into my car a couple months ago, the money came at a very good time, and we made the plan to buy the tattoos without any sort of buyer’s remorse. So rarely does an opportunity like this present itself, and for good reason.

I’ve discussed this briefly in the past, but each time we find ourselves with extra money in the bank, one of our cars will break down. I’m serious. It has happened literally every single time over the span of the last decade, and it’s always (always) directly proportionate to how much money we had to begin with. I am not fiscally allowed to get ahead, but if it’s any consolation, the cars only seem to break down when we have the money with which to afford repairs. I’m Even Steven, and it’s a tremendous pain in the ass.

The pattern is as follows:

Step One: Acknowledgement Of Extra Revenue.
“Hey, I noticed that we’re going to be getting an extra grand this month, so let’s put it towards one of the many random bills we’ve been trying to take care of.”

Step Two: Fiscal Responsibility.
“Done. My laser eye surgery is officially paid for. Take that, shoddy genetics!”

Step Three: The Wrinkled Hand Of Fate.
“My car crashed into an Indian restaurant and exploded. Cancel paying that bill.”

Step Four: Surplus Negated.
“The car repair was $1000, the Indian restaurant is suing and the people at the laser eye place are threatening to reverse the surgery somehow.”

I know this sounds like some nonsensical literary device, but it has happened at least ten times to me in this exact (mechanical, not literal) fashion, without fail. Don’t believe me? Ask my wife.

ACT I.

As we drove downtown in Celia’s Mini, I took note of how humid it was outside, and began calculating just how close we could park to the tattoo parlor to avoid the tropical conditions. I also took note that the cost of our tattoos combined would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1200, and silently hoped that fate would pass us by this once. I honestly felt that if we could spend the money as fast as possible, the transaction could slip through the Universe without being detected and punished by an ironic God I don’t even believe in. This is what it has come to, and I blame my Catholic upbringing.

As we idled at a stop sign, I looked at the Mini’s dashboard.

“Honey, is your temperature gauge always like that?”

I was asking the question passively because I already knew the answer. Her gauge was buried in the red and the warning light was on; the Mini was beginning to overheat.

“Umm, I don’t know,” she said, not really paying attention.

“I’ll check the manual,” I said. Again, I already knew this was a problem.

Celia has probably never owned a car that overheated, but I have owned approximately three that all but burst into flames on a monthly basis (an ’86 Somerset, a ’93 Tempo and a ’98 Escort, to be specific). I don’t know a lot about cars, but I know that when they begin to overheat, your journey is over. That car needs to be turned off immediately to avoid permanent (and potentially fiery) damage. I again attempted to subtly explain to her the severity of the situation. After all, this was her dream car, and I knew she didn’t want anything irreversible to happen to it.

“Turn the air conditioner off,” I bargained. “If that doesn’t work, we’re going to have to pull over.”

The Missus was concerned, yet agitated with my increasingly demanding requests. “Well, what am I supposed to do? Worry about it? Let’s just get it downtown first.”

“Well, yeah. You are supposed to worry about it, honey.” Nonetheless, we turned off the air and the temperature gauge subsided for the time being.

As we pulled up to the downtown parking garage, my eyes were still fixated on the gauge. Never in my life have I seen an overheated car go back to normal (and stay back to normal) by simply turning off the air conditioning. It’s a temporary fix at best, and I knew that the idling, stop-and-start nature of the parking garage was going to tell me what I needed to know about how our afternoon was going to unfold. Sure enough, the gauge was back to the red in seconds, and so was my anxiety.

“Honey? We need to park this car.”

“I KNOW. Gawd, shut up!”

As we circled upward into the garage, level after level was filled to capacity. It was also at this time that the Mini started smoking. At this point, the Missus finally realized the magnitude of the situation.

“No!” she yelled, smacking her palms into the steering wheel. “I need to park!”

I concurred, but silently. Smoke continued to pour out from under the hood, as we waved away cars and pedestrians. Then the grinding began; the awful sound of metal-on-metal that signifies beyond a shadow of a doubt that your car is about to die and stay dead. The Missus had tears in her eyes as we finally rolled into a parking space near the roof of the ramp, antifreeze-flavored smoke billowing out of every nook and vent.

I didn’t really know what to do, so I instinctively instructed her to pop the hood. The emerging steam nearly stripped every follicle from my face and hands, and I could see that the coolant reservoir was not only still full, but boiling from the intense heat. Something was seriously wrong.

“Honey? Your car definitely overheated, but I think it was because something else happened. Like, I think you might have blown something.”

Head gasket? Cooling fan? These were not going to be cheap fixes. What worried the Missus, however, was the theory that she had blown her engine. This would be unfixable, and her car would be done forever. We closed the hood, collected ourselves and made our way onto the street, where we decided to stop thinking about the car for a few hours while we went to the tattoo place and grabbed dinner.

I allowed myself the last word. “I don’t know what’s wrong with that car, but we’re certainly not driving it home.”

ACT II.

The consultation at the tattoo place went great; Celia was on the verge of getting one of the craziest ink jobs I had ever seen. However, as we sat at Tutto Pasta and watched State Street passerby enjoy their afternoon, our focus returned to the (in all likelihood) stalled Mini still trapped in the parking garage. We had never been in a situation like this before.

“Can a tow truck even fit in a ramp like that?”

“They must; they tow cars without permits and stuff, right?”

We finally got a hold of a local towing company, who suggested we put the car in neutral and coast/push it out of the garage with the engine off. This seemed to me like a recipe for disaster, so we both agreed that we should just turn the car on and wing it down the ramp as quickly as we could. Admittedly, this was a far more dangerous plan of action. The car seemed briefly okay when we turned it on, and as we made our way down the ramp, we knew we were on borrowed time, but it looked like things would be okay. Just get it out of the garage and onto the back of the waiting tow truck on the street.

I’ve never diffused a bomb before, but I’ve seen how it’s played out in action movies, and it looks pretty tense. Idling at the Pay Station was as nerve-wracking as anything that’s happened to me this year, as we slowly watched the temperature gauge needle creep back up to the red while we waited for our receipt (and for the robotic gate to open). Without a second to spare, we bounced the (again smoking) Mini onto the street, where Jerry at Road Ranger Towing was waiting to save the day.

There was road construction all over the downtown area, so we created a bit of a traffic fiasco as the Mini was locked and loaded. As we stood in the blistering heat and watched Jerry do his job, I looked over to the (understandably miserable) Missus and asked a question I had only then thought of.

“How are we getting home?”

I have never “rode bitch” in a tow truck before, but here I was, on the eve of my 7th wedding anniversary, doing just that, flanked by my livid wife and extremely boisterous tow truck operator. Jerry was giving us a lift to the nearest Mini dealership, where I figured he would hit us with a massive bill and leave whatever was left of our emaciated husks for the guys at the Repair Shop to scavenge. As Jerry gave us the scenic tour of downtown Madison, we got a crash-course in the towing business, including such gems as:

1. The physical locations of his primary rivals within the city of Madison.
2. Why mom & pop car dealerships can’t survive anymore (“They’re too nice for their own good”).
3. His friend, a semi-retired plumber, who now works part-time at Farm & Fleet, and sometimes calls in on his days off just to talk to people because he’s lonely.
4. How, even after 20 years, he still loves the business. He had this revelation at the Texas Roadhouse with his wife.

Jerry was a red-blooded American and a genuinely good guy, but we were less than talkative considering how heavily our current predicament was weighing on our minds. When he dropped us (and the car) off at the Mini dealership, he charged us a reasonable $80 and disappeared as quickly as he arrived. We found the Repair Shop closed, so we filled out a service request and slipped it into their dropbox. Just then, I was hit with a question I had asked myself just an hour earlier.

“Seriously, how are we getting home?”

Every single person I knew in the Madison area that I felt comfortable bumming a ride off of seemed to be out of town for the day. At this point, we were sweaty, exhausted and finished with this fiasco of a day, so the Missus called a cab and we sat on the concrete steps of the dealership until she rolled up. It wasn’t until I told her where we were headed that I realized just how far from home I really was.

The cab driver actually shut her meter off at $40 because she “felt bad for us.” It would have been closer to $50, but after hearing about what happened to the Mini (and what it might cost us), she didn’t want to make our day any worse. We thanked her and again sat in silence, the Missus surely contemplating the potentially terminal condition of her beloved Mini. I attempted to lighten up the situation.

“Hey, things could be worse, right? We could be in the back of an ambulance. Or we could have been in an accident. It’s just a little money; we’ll be okay.”

No response.

ACT III.

The next day, we received a phone call from Mini of Madison. You know it’s going to be a bad transaction when the mechanic opens the conversation with the line “This is not going to be a cheap repair.” As it turned out, the Mini’s cooling fan died, which caused everything to get smoky and steamy. And considering that we just put $1000 into my ’02 Sable, I couldn’t even imagine what the Mini folks thought of as an un-cheap repair.

“It’s going to be $700.”

Shit, you would have thought we won the lottery. “Yes! Fantastic! Fix it!” the Missus practically shouted into the phone. I bet the mechanic was extremely confused at this reaction, but considering the current threshold of our tolerance for bad news, a $700 might as well have been a Carnival Cruise.

Later that night, the Missus and I were lying in bed, recalling the events of the weekend.

“You know,” she said, “I knew that cooling fan was beginning to die on me.”
“Really?” I said. “How so?”
“Well, for the last couple of months, it’s been doing this thing where it kept running after I shut the car off. It started draining the battery and stuff, so I knew that it would eventually give out on me.”

My lips became the thinnest of lines.

“Is that right?” I said through gritted teeth. “So, how had you been shutting the cooling fan off when it would keep running all those times?”

“You know that rubber mallet I keep in the trunk? I’d just bang on the fan with the mallet until it shut off. In a way, I’m glad it just up and broke, because I was sick of doing that all the time.”

I could have said a lot of things at that moment. Most of them containing vivid expletives and wild gesturing with my hands. I could have explained to her that the entire weekend could have been prevented had we handled the situation immediately. I could have explained to her how dangerous driving the car that way was. I could have explained to her that banging a fan with a mallet was no way to handle a $28,000 car (or anything).

Then I thought about the month as a whole; how nothing I could have said or done would have prevented her car from breaking down, merely because we had the extra money with which to pay it. It wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t my fault. It was Fate’s fault, and I was accepting that. I’ll probably never get ahead, but it seems that I never have to fall behind, either. At least not for too long. Furthermore, as long as Celia was by my side, there was nothing I couldn’t handle.

“Happy Anniversary,” I said. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

It Must Be Summer.

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As I was driving out of my neighborhood yesterday, I caught something out of the corner of my eye that absolutely made my day.

There was an Indian couple in their front yard, dressed entirely in traditional Indian clothing. The woman was wearing a long dress with the purple, silk shawl thingie and her hair pulled back. The man had the white suit, buttoned to the neck with crisp slacks, jet black hair and a healthy Indian mustache. They looked strikingly proper and beautiful; probably in their late 30’s.

The woman was bent over near the side of their house, filling up a giant squirtgun with a hose. The man was standing about 10 feet behind her, pumping his already full squirtgun with vigor. Before she had a chance to turn off the hose and stand back up, the man completely unloaded on her. He was aiming directly for her ass, and scored a bullseye for the better part of three full seconds, soaking the back of her dress with a completely straight and stoic face the entire time.

There were no children anywhere in the vicinity. It was just them.

God bless America.