A Matter of Perspective

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As soon as Neil walked through the door, Jenni knew something was off.

“You look like you sucked on a lemon. What’s with you?” she asked.

“I think I’m becoming a crotchety old man,” grumbled Neil.

Jenni shrugged. “You’re not that old.”

“Nice. Thanks a lot.”

“Gee, aren’t you touchy. What happened?”

“I was at the checkout at the dollar store. The old man ahead of me looked like he was buying all his groceries. It took forever. And when he was done, he didn’t leave. He kept talking to the cashier,” said Neil.

“So? Be more patient,” said Jenni.

Neil’s eyes bulged. “It wasn’t just me. The cashier started checking me through and the old guy didn’t move. He was right in front of the debit machine. I reached in front of him. Did he step aside? No. It was so awkward.”

“Did you say anything to him?”

“No.”

“Well then, what did you expect?” asked Jenni.

“Did I mention he smelled? It was like a mix of rotting teeth, four kinds of poo and fermenting bacteria on his skin. It was toxic,” ranted Neil.

“Just to make sure I understand this,” started Jenni. “A poverty stricken, lonely old man scraped together his loose change to buy what little food he could afford, enjoying the only meaningful human interaction he ever gets, to the horror and disgust of someone who is too myopic to understand the world around him. Am I close?”

Neil’s face flushed. “What?” he choked.

“Don’t take it too hard. At least you’re partially right,” smiled Jenni. “You are crotchety.”

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The Subtle Art of Self-Definition

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“So I saw this ad on TV over the holidays and now I’ve adopted a little girl from Botswana,” announced Vivienne. Her face flushed with pride.

Arabella squealed. “That’s amazing. You are so full of ruth.”

“Ruth who?” asked Beckett.

“It’s the opposite of ruthless,” explained Arabella.

“So it’s not a real word,” replied Beckett.

Arabella frowned. “It’s real because I made it real.”

“I think I’m gonna use it. What’s it mean?” asked Vivienne.

“I define it as ‘warm hearted and compassionate’,” proclaimed Arabella.

“No it isn’t,” protested Beckett.

Arabella thrust her nose in the air and turned her back on Beckett. “Don’t listen to him, Viv. Trust me, I’m a wordophile.”

“The term is logophile, and the fact that you used the term ‘wordophile’ proves you aren’t,” said Beckett.

“Stop it!” shouted Vivienne. “This fighting is making me feel, oh, I don’t know…”

“Whelmed?” suggested Arabella.

“Oh, come on!” erupted Beckett.

“What does that mean?” asked Vivienne.

“It means whatever you like. For me, it’s when you’re not overwhelmed but not underwhelmed.”

“That’s not even original,” complained Beckett.

“How dare you undermine my right to self-define,” snarled Arabella. Her eyes flared and her expression grew fierce. “If I say I’m a wordophile, then that’s what I do.”

Beckett held up his hands in self-defence. “Fine. You’re a wordophile, but I’m going to call you a fartknocking plutoscribe from now on.”

Vivienne gasped. “What does that mean?”

Beckett smiled. “Whatever you want it to mean.”

“What does it mean to you?” accused Arabella.

With a glint in his eye, Beckett said, “I think I’ll keep that definition to myself.”

Arabella stomped her foot. “You can’t do that!”

Beckett shook his head. “Arabella, how dare you undermine my right to self-define.”

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When Maternal Instincts Are Stretched

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“It would be a lot easier to behave if there wasn’t so many other exciting options,” announced Clayton. He was standing ankle deep in a home made jello pool in the in middle of the living room.

His mother, red faced, couldn’t speak. Beverly could feel her hair turning grey.

“In my defence, I was left unsupervised,” added Clayton.

“I was just in the other room,” muttered Beverly.

Clayton proudly displayed his creation. “Still, pretty cool, am I right? Eh?”

“Maternal instincts may not be strong enough,” mumbled Beverly.

“To do what?”

“Keep me from hurting you. Very badly.”

“Look on the bright side. Well behaved people rarely make history,” said Clayton.

“So do parents who murder their children,” said Beverly with a calmness that made Clayton nervous.

“Don’t worry. I’ll clean it up. I promise.”

Beverly’s eyes were vacant and hollow. “Yes you will. But I make no promises about your future.”

“Fair enough,” replied Clayton.

Without another word, Beverly left the room. All things considered, Clayton saw it was a win.

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Salamander Redux

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Early on the morning of January first, Scott Fraser received a call. His wife Desirae listened in.

“Yes, this is he… My son is named Brett.”

“Who is it?” asked Desirae.

“It’s the police,” replied Scott.

“Is Brett okay?” asked Desirae, suddenly concerned for the welfare of their twenty-four year old son.

“He’s been arrested,” announced Scott.

“What’s he done this time?”

“I’m trying to figure that out,” said Scott, returning his attention to the call.

“You want us to come to the station,” Scott said to the person on the line.

Desirae stopped what she was doing and sat next to her husband in the living room.

“To bring pants,” Scott continued. “What happened to the pair he was wearing?”

Scott looked at his wife in disbelief. “He burned them? Why did he burn them? He did it as a bet?”

Desirae shrugged. Scott held up his hand. “What was the bet? Five hundred dollars. I see. Was this when he was arrested? No. Okay. What happened next?”

Scott covered up the phone and spoke to his wife. “Hold, on, there’s more.”

“Double or nothing to french kiss a goat. Where’s he supposed to find a goat in the middle of a city? You’re right officer. It doesn’t make sense to me, either. Is that when he was arrested? No?”

Desirae repositioned herself on the couch.

“I agree. I’ve never heard of triple or nothing,” said Scott. “Did you say the world’s largest bowl of porridge? What do you mean he did it?”

By this point Desirae was beside herself.

“Where did he find that much oatmeal?” asked Scott. Listening to the answer, he nodded his head. “Highjack a cereal truck, of course.”

“Is he going to jail?” asked Desirae in desperation.

“Are you kidding?” asked Scott. His face lit up. “How did he find the Guinness Book of World Records people?”

Scott covered the receiver. “Brett actually made the worlds largest bowl of oatmeal,” he told his wife.

Scott listened on the phone for a prolonged period. The mystery of not knowing made Desirae nervous.

Finally Scott said, “Okay, we’ll be right down.”

Desirae grabbed Scott’s hand. “What? Tell me.”

Her husband sighed. “It’s the salamander incident all over again.”

Desirae reached for a tissue. “At least this time he’ll be famous.”

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New Years for the Millenial Age

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When Emily arrived at the New Year’s Eve party, the first person she looked for was Nathan. Even before she could scan the room, Nathan found her.

“You made it. Great,” said Nathan.

His enthusiasm made Emily blush. “Thanks.”

It was at that moment she noticed Nathan was wearing a GoPro on his chest.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“It’s a project I’ve been working on. I’m gonna wear a camera 24/7 for a full year and stream it online,” explained Nathan.

Emily took a step back. “Are you streaming now?”

Nathan laughed. “No. It starts at midnight.”

“And you’re gonna wear it non-stop for a year? Like, for everything you do? I mean, everything?” she asked.

“Yep. It’s hyper-reality. Some of it’ll be boring, I guess. That just makes the exciting parts so much better.”

The wheels in Emily’s head were spinning. “That’s a lot of intimate stuff to share with the world. What about work? Are they okay with this?”

“That’s the best part. I spent the last six months getting sponsorships so I don’t have to work. Beer companies, restaurants, clothing, even a car company bought in. This spring I’m going on a cruise, all expenses paid. I’m even going to amusement parks and other cool places. It turned out to be very lucrative,” said Nathan.

This got the attention of a woman who was eavesdropping behind him. Emily’s eyes flared.

“Excuse me, we’re having a private conversation here,” said Emily. She pulled Nathan away from the interloper. “A cruise, huh? Any room for a guest?”

Nathan raised and eyebrow. “That depends. Do you want to go because it’s with me or because you wanna be famous?”

Emily put her hand on Nathan’s chest. “Baby, love is fleeting, but fame is forever.”

“That’s what I call a partnership,” said Nathan. “I’ll have the contract written up next week.”

Emily pulled Nathan into a deep kiss. “Happy New Year, baby.”

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At The National Broadcasting System Christmas Party

Black Friday Holiday Shopping

“Our ratings took a massive hit this December. We can’t have that happen again. I want ideas. Go,” barked Matt Lacao, CEO for the National Broadcasting System.

The others in the room were stunned.

“What?!?” shouted Matt.

“Isn’t this supposed to be the staff Christmas party?” asked Randi, one of the interns.

“Not when we’re barely pulling 5% market share. So, ideas. Now. Go,” bellowed Matt.

The silence that followed was painful. Eventually, Cesar cleared his throat.

“Don’t hold back. Speak up,” ordered Matt.

Cesar looked around the room. No one would make eye contact. “I’m just throwin’ this out there, but what about a reality show set in a major department store. We have shoppers fight for the toy of the year. We call it UFC Shopping.”

There was a gasp in the room. Matt Lacao thought for a few seconds, then a smile slowly grew across his face.

“I like it. It has promise. What else do you got?”

“What about hide-and-seek parking? Two drivers have to hunt through a full parking lot for the one open space. We can throw in obstacles and challenges along the way,” suggested Irene from marketing.

“Yes!” announced Matt. “Give me more.”

“I have an idea,” said Britney from human resources. “You’ve heard of Punkin’ Chunkin’, where they build cannons to launch pumpkins across a field? Why don’t we create an event where we launch Christmas trees? We can even set up Christmas decorated homes for them to destroy.”

Matt laughed, long and loud. “These are ratings gold? It’s fantastic!”

Caught up in the excitement of it all, Miriam from purchasing stepped forward. “What about slow TV?”

Matt silenced the room. “What’s slow TV?”

“They do it in Norway. They film long train or boat trips. They’re like, eighteen hours long. It’s very popular. We could film people setting up a Christmas tree, build a snowman or maybe cook Christmas dinner,” explained Miriam.

“Why?” asked Cesar.

Miriam blushed when she realized all eyes were on her. “It’s comforting. I imagine lonely people would find it warm and familiar.”

All eyes shifted to the intense gaze of their CEO. “That’s a stupid idea. You’re fired,” announced Matt.

The air was sucked out of the room.

“On Christmas?” asked Randi.

“Yes, but I have an idea,” said Matt. “Christmas battle royale for Miriam’s job plus a 20% raise. Go!”

Thus was the last Christmas party ever held at the National Broadcasting System.

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The Bureau of Statistical Curiosities

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It was the annual neighbourhood Christmas party hosted by the Crewdons. They lived in the colonial style house on the corner.

Being new to the street, Olivia in number 67 and Ross in 74 hung around the punch table. After sharing several awkward glances, Olivia broke the ice.

“Aren’t you from the house with the Japanese Maple out front?” she asked.

“Yeah, You’re from the house with the amazing day lily garden,” replied Ross.

“Thanks,” gushed Olivia. She hesitated a second, then asked, “Do you work from home? I see you around a lot.”

The idea that someone knew his activities made Ross blush. “I do. My main office is in London.”

“England?”

“Yes.”

“Wow.” Olivia flipped her hair. “What do you do, if I’m allowed to ask?”

Ross cleared his throat. “I’m with the Bureau of Statistical Curiosities.”

“That sounds fascinating,” replied Olivia, not knowing what else to say.

The two nervously avoided each other’s gaze as they scanned the party around them. Eventually, Olivia broke the tension.

“What does the Bureau of Statistical Curiosities do?”

The question perked Ross up. “We learn things people what to know, like what percent of the population brush their teeth with their right or left hands. Just the other day we figured out how many button their shirts from the top down or the bottom up.”

“Why would anyone want to know that? Who would want to know that?”

“You’d be surprised. Governments, Companies, NGOs. Information is a hot commodity,” explained Ross.

“And they ask you to learn it for them?” asked Olivia.

“Exactly. Usually for a hefty fee,” said Ross. Emboldened, Ross screwed up his courage. “Do you want to have dinner with me sometime this week?”

Olivia rolled her eyes. “No thanks. I don’t like know-it-alls.”

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