Cory was over at his buddy’s place to watch football. Midway through the first quarter, the family terrier hopped up on Jason’s lap and vigorously licked the inside of his ear.


“Ew! Gross. Why do you let him do that?” complained Cory.


“He likes the taste and it keeps my ears clean. His little tongue is amazing. It really gets in there,” replied Jason.


The expression of horror on Cory’s face reflected the unsatisfactory nature of Jason’s explanation.


“The animal kingdom is filled with relationships like these. Some small birds clean the teeth of alligators. Remoras clean the skins of sharks. Sometimes I’ll even let him clean out my nostrils, especially when I have a cold,” explained Jason.


As Jason spoke, Cory lifted a potato chip to his mouth, gave a dry heave, then set it back down.


“If you think about it, it’s the most natural thing in the world,” added Jason.


“Dude,” groaned Cory, “I’d rather not think about that, thanks.”


Jason shrugged. “Don’t knock it ‘til you tried it.”


“Not only will I not try it,” grumbled Cory, “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to scrub the image from my brain.”


“Your loss,” said Jason. His dog moved to the other ear and dug in.


Cory leaned back in the couch and sighed. “I need some normal friends. Dog people are so weird.”

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Stomach Trouble



Tyler sat back in his chair and let out a profound belch. A head poked over his cubicle wall.


“You alright?” asked Marion.


“My stomach feels off,” admitted Tyler.


All around him, heads popped up like prairie dogs on alert.


“You’re not gonna throw up, are you?”


“Is it flu? You’ve had the flu shot, haven’t you?”


“It might be stress.”


“Maybe it’s an ulcer.”


“My cousin’s husband had indigestion. It turned out to be a ruptured appendix.”


“When my grandpa had his heart attack, his first symptom was an upset stomach.”


“Have you considered FODMAPs? It could be carbohydrate chains that are resistant to digestion.”


“What did you eat? It could be a food allergy you weren’t aware of.”


“I heard that people can develop allergies in adulthood. Some can be fatal and you don’t know it until its too late.”


“Don’t rule out salmonella or e coli. Restaurant kitchens are cesspools of bacteria and disease.”


Tyler listened in horror to everything being said. Marion shook her head in dismay.


“Don’t listen to these hypochondriacs,” she said.


“You know, with all the things that can go wrong,” mused Tyler, “It’s a miracle we’re ever really healthy.”

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Parental Investments


Eric smiled at the next customer to arrive at his StuffMart cash register. He immediately recognized the woman, especially since it was the fifth time he’d seen her this week. She was engulfed by three school aged children.


“I forgot to tell you. I need something for the school bake sale tomorrow,” said one child.


“How come this is Billy’s third new backpack this year when I have the same one from last year?” asked another.


“Carter’s mom lets him have a cell phone. Can I get one, too?” added the third.


Eric watched as the woman closed her eyes and silently mouthed something.


“Is everything okay?” asked Eric.


The woman smirked. “The Serenity Prayer isn’t just for alcoholics.”


“I don’t know anything about that,” replied Eric.


“Then you obviously don’t have kids,” concluded the woman.


“Can I get some gum?” asked one child.


“If Billy gets gum, I want chips,” complained the second.


“My shoes are coming apart. I can see my toes. See?” added the third.


Eric scanned the last of her items. “That’ll be $261.76,” he announced.


The woman sighed as she pulled out her card. She shook her head as she completed the transaction.


When Eric handed her the receipt, she asked, “Do you know how to turn a parent into a millionaire?”


“No, how?” replied Eric.


She smiled. “Start her out with billions. I have no doubt I’ll see you tomorrow.”


Eric waved as the woman dragged her children out of the store.

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Halloween Haunted House


“A bunch of us are going to the Halloween Haunted House down by the park. Wanna come?” asked Jesse.


Brad shot him a skeptical look. “What kind is it?”


Jesse’s eyes lit up. “It’s awesome, it’s so realistic.”


“Not a chance,” dismissed Brad.


“If it’s too scary we’ll protect you,” scoffed Jesse, holding out his hand.


Brad slapped it away. “It’s not about that. It’s a pre-packaged murder site.”




“Think about it. It’s probably dark, there’s screaming all around, there’s fake gore everywhere. Someone could be murdered and the body wouldn’t be discovered for hours,” explained Brad.


Jesse frowned. “That’s a good point.”


“As far as I know, you’re inviting me along just to murder me. People would just think I’m part of the display. No thank you. I’m not walking into a death trap.”


Jesse’s shoulders dropped. “I’ve never thought about it that way before. That’s so true. You know what? You’re a real jerk. Thanks for ruining haunted houses for me.”


“You should be thanking me,” replied Brad. “Besides, truth is always scarier than fiction.”

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Frank Hates Malls

As much as Frank hated shopping, there were times he couldn’t avoid a trip to the mall. On this particular adventure, he was on the hunt for khaki pants. To minimize his shopping exposure, he intended to perform a surgical strike. Get in, buy the pants, then get out.

“Frank? It’s that you?”

The voice caught him completely off guard.

“Frank, it’s Sam. Remember, from high school?”

Frank turned around to discover the forty year old version of his former classmate. He plastered on his best fake smile and replied, “How are you?”

Sam laughed. “Can’t complain. I own my own business. I have three locations now. It keeps me busy enough. How about you?”

Frank hesitated before answering. “I’m the Director of the National Association of Adhesive Notes,” he said.

The smile fell from Sam’s face. It was replaced with abject confusion. “Like Post-its?”

“There’s a lot more to it than that,” defended Frank.

Just over Sam’s shoulder Frank saw the khaki pants he was huntng for.

“Like what?” asked Sam.

Frank refocused on Sam and sighed. “We advocate for new uses for adhesive notes, regulate standards for paper and adhesive quality across the industry. Things like that.”

“I’ve never heard of such a thing. How’d you wind up doing that?” asked Sam.

“It’s a long story,” said Frank, going it would end the conversation.

“I bet,” encouraged Sam.

“Well, I had to be a jerk, but I’m in a bit of a hurry,” lied Frank.

“Lemme guess, you’re also the chief of the Post-it police?” laughed Sam.

Memories of high school came flooding back and Frank remembered why he didn’t keep up with Sam.

“Something like that,” grumbled Frank.

“Don’t let me keep you. I’d hate to be arrested for interfering with a Post-it police investigation,” Sam teased. He walked away chuckling to himself.

Frank rolled his eyes. “Don’t tempt me.”

As the two parted ways, Frank made a dash for the khakis. The moment he arrived at the rack, another voice called out.


Frank groaned. “You gotta be kidding me.”

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The Midlife Change

As they left Caffeination, their usual coffee spot, Louie took a sip if his coffee. Carly laughed at the ghastly expression on he made.

“Life’s too short to drink lousy coffee,” complained Louie. He took another taste and cringed.

“Why’d you try it again?” asked Carly.

“I wanted to make sure.”

“You’re sadistic.”

“I can’t explain it, but all coffee tastes terrible lately,” said Louie.

The two walked in silence for a few seconds. Louie took one more sip, then threw his coffee away.

“It’s so weird,” mused Louie.

“They say people’s tastes change through their lives,” said Carly.

“That can’t be it, can it? Huh. You might be right, I guess, but why’d it have to be coffee? I need coffee.”

Carly stared off into space. “Life is full of mysteries. Who can truly know it?”

Louie sighed. “Especially when I haven’t had my morning coffee.”

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Good Advertising


On Saturday my daughter and I were watching the Notre Dame football game, when an ad came on screen. Most television ads for universities show picturesque panoramic views of their campuses, smiling, diverse faces of professors, students and alums, with a complementary statistic and an inspiring slogan at the end. Not Notre Dame.


It started with a close-up of the face of a young woman, telling us of a rare condition she suffered with, causing her to lose the ability to walk. Several images flashed of her in the hospital, broken and defeated. The next image was of her weeping mother, confirming the severity of her situation.


We returned to the young woman, with steely-eyed resolve, proclaiming she would walk again. She explained that the proper walking supports didn’t exist to help her, so she created her own. The next person on screen was a professor from Notre Dame University (the first reference to the school), who spoke of how they helped her along her journey. What followed were a series of images of the young woman learning to walk again. She said it became her purpose to start a company designing supports so that others may overcome debilitating illnesses. Contrasting images, some of her helping others, others of her running in a marathon, should us how she succeeded in her goal.


At the end of the ad she proclaimed, “We are the Fighting Irish. What are you fighting for?”


My daughter sat on the couch, riveted to a television commercial. “That’s the best university ad I’ve ever seen,” she announced.


Maybe it was, maybe in wasn’t. After looking into my daughter’s face, all I knew was, it worked.


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