Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fellas, just put up with it

The sound.

It echoed through the once-quiet air of our dining room and hit me like I owed money to the wrong people. The sound came into my house every morning, sometimes during the day, and mostly every night. A noise like a chain smoker training for the Emphysemalympics.

I looked across the breakfast table at my wife. The same pretty, petite lady I married sat across from me, holding a fork full of pancakes dripping with syrup. She smiled a straight, white, cover-of-a-magazine smile.

"Sorry," she said. "I had a little phlegm."

She doesn't smoke, she doesn't have health problems, but she daily hacks up a disaster movie amount of nasal fluids I don't need to know about. And she usually does it while I'm eating eggs.

Back off, guys. She's taken.

Dining wasn't always like this. Oh, no, but things have changed.

I was honest with my wife from the moment we started dating.

"Hi beautiful," I said. "I'm a beer-swilling pig."

I told her I would be a caring, supportive partner, attending festivals, art shows and whatever thing I didn't care about but interested her until football season. Then I'd sit in front of the TV, stick my hand down the front of my pants and only respond in grunts to statements that had something to do with offense, defense, beer, special teams, food, instant replay, "Gilligan's Island," cheerleaders and beer.

I've stuck by my word.

Guys, women don't work like that. Not at all.

Let's see if this sounds familiar.

You meet a nice girl. She smells great. She looks like she just stepped out of a TV commercial. When she walks by it feels like a summer breeze and when you look at her, her eyes are wide, soft and have pupils big enough to hide pirate treasure a sure sign she likes you, or is whacked out of her head on Bennies.

And she doesn't eat enough to sustain a coma victim. Again, it might be the Bennies.

You've dated this girl.

The problem? This way of wooing men is something women steal from romantic comedies that always end in a madcap way with the male and female leads kissing atop a really tall building/on a baseball diamond during a game/surrounded by flesh-eating zombies.

1) People aren't like this in real life.

2) The movies never show the couple six months later.

Ladies, I beg of you, fart. Belch. Pick your nose and wipe it on your shirt. Eat three quarters of a pizza and a pint of ice cream in one sitting. Clog the toilet. Watch MTV instead of PBS. Just be normal.

And, guys, love them when they do.

I know breakfast tomorrow will be loud and phlegmy, but eventually it will be endearing. I'm certain.

Copyright 2006 by Jason Offutt

Monday, October 16, 2006

If it ain't broke, by all means fix it

There's a point when our everyday lives don't need to evolve anymore.

Sure, technological advances and societal attitudes make change necessary and usually welcome, but I don't mean changes for the greater good.

I mean the simple things. For example, how we buy a hamburger.

At one point, buying a hamburger was easy. Things at our faceless hamburger franchise were just fine. The bathrooms were clean, and all the cooks wore hairnets.

The hamburger industry was running so smoothly corporate management had plenty of time to sit back and try to think of ways to make franchises run even more smoothly.

So they changed things.

Management put in debit-card swipers so cashiers wouldn't have to cashier. They moved all the soda machines from behind the counter so the French fry cooks wouldn't have to pour drinks. And they installed ketchup dispensers in the customer area so no one would have to hand customers extra ketchup packets ever.

Corporate management tinkered with their burger joints* until things became so needlessly complicated walking through the doors is now like entering some strange, alternate reality where the robots have taken over.

At a fast-food joint, if I want a hamburger, French fries and a Coke do I say I want a hamburger, French fries and a Coke? No, I order a No. 2. I don't want to order a No. 2. No. 2 means a lot of things, some of which I don't want associated with lunch.

But, Jason, isn't saying, "I'd like a No. 2," less complicated than saying, "I'd like a hamburger, French fries and a Coke?"

In theory, yes, but there's no industry standard. What makes up a No. 2 at one place isn't a No. 2 somewhere else. I might want a hamburger, French fries and a Coke and I'll end up with a fish sandwich, apple slices and bottled water. Pfft. Like any real American would order that.

So, no, No. 2 makes ordering food more complicated.

Such is life in America. Everything has been tampered with to the point you have to think to order a cup of coffee.

Don't you mean a triple mocha-cappa-latte?

No, darn it. I mean coffee. Black, hot and in a cup. The kind truckers drink.

It's human nature to try to improve everything around us. Why? Because we're troublemakers. But there's a time we can't improve the simple things without making them complicated. The time was a decade ago.

Bill Gates, Microsoft Word was a pain in the butt four versions ago. Just stop messing with it, OK?

*Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know McDonald's, Burger King, Hardee's, whatever, are technically restaurants, but to me a restaurant doesn't give the option of eating in your car.