Ode to Summer Barbecue

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The summer was in full swing. Tommy understood this well, not by the warm days with children home from school, but by his wife’s insistence that he barbecue several times a week.

“The house gets too hot with the oven going all the time,” was her usual argument, although he needed no further encouragement. Barbecuing was Tommy’s passion.

Tommy found himself outside, breathing in the aromas of sizzling meat over an open flame. Smoke would imprint the meaty flavours on his clothes the rest of the evening. It was the cologne of a real man.

Years of experience honed Tommy’s skills to near culinary perfection. He didn’t boast about his abilities, for he knew the key to success was life long learning. Pride goes before a fall. Humility fuels personal growth.

Tommy sat in his usual chair, watching the smoke billow from his grill. A silent clock in his head counted down in his head, telling him when to flip the meat. All in good time.

In the meantime Tommy waited. He cherished the sacred moments. The patience needed to do things right, to feed his family. This is what made summer more than a season. It was the fullest expression of himself.

The moment was ripe. He plucked the meat off the grill. Stacked neatly on a plate, he carried it inside and proudly presented his creations to his famished family.

“Barbecue again? I want pizza.”

“I wanted hotdogs!”

“I decided to be a vegetarian.”

“That’s not the cut of meat I like. Why did you get that? I hate that.”

Tommy brought to plate back outside and shared his meat with his dog. Summer may be magical, but his family sucks.

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The Examination

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Gina looked at the others who were sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office and a chill ran down her spine. She approached the only seat available, but decided to stand once she noticed an indiscernible stain all over the seat.

Across the room someone started hacking. People shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Another woman groan in pain.

“Brody Gundarson,” called the woman behind the counter. “Room two.”

Brody got up and Gina quickly filled his vacated chair. She clung to her purse, holding it like a barrier between her and the mysterious diseases lingering in the air.

It seemed like an awful lot to go through for a letter from a doctor. Her employer insisted on a clean bill of health for all it’s employees. Initially, Gina bristled at the demand. Understating that it was a once in a lifetime job, she figured it would be worth the effort.

Surrounded by a room full of sick people, her conviction wavered ever so slightly. Was the whole world sick except her, she wondered. The feeling of fragility was terrifying.

The man beside her threw up all over the floor. The splash narrowly missed her shoes. It caused a chain of vomiting and retching among the other patients.

Her stomach churned. The smells made her head swim. Would she catch what was going around? Fear evolved into panic. Panic became flight. She stood up, tiptoed around the puddles of vomit and fled the room.

Behind the counter, the woman watched as the door closed behind Gina. She pulled a folder and wrote a note. ‘Another candidate failed the exam.’

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The Curse of the Courteous

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When Carson approached the door to the mall, he looked back and saw a woman following behind. He opened the door, passed through, then held it for the woman. It was his habit to show a random act of kindness. To Carson’s shock, the woman shook the door from his grasp.

“How dare you hold the door for me like I’m some feeble female. Chauvinist pig!” she shouted.

Something in Carson snapped. “I hold the door for all kinds of people, all the time. Courtesy does not mean chivalry. Learn the difference!”

The woman stopped and stared at Carson.

“What kind of terrible human being gets mad when someone is kind to them? I mean, really,” shouted Carson.

The woman’s jaw dropped while others stopped to watch the commotion.

“How mean has the world become that holding the door is considered a hostile act!” fumed Carson. He whirled around and turned right into a police officer.

“Excuse me, is this man bothering you?” the officer asked the woman.

She glared at Carson and said, “As a matter of fact, yes. I was minding my own business and he just started raving like a lunatic.”

Carson felt the blood drain from his face.

“Sir, would you please come with me?” asked the officer.

With shoulders dropped, Carson was led by the police officer into the bowels of the mall. They reached an interrogation room where Carson sat down. The officer sat across from him and leaned forward.

“Do you know why you’re here?” he asked.

Carson sighed. “These days, showing courtesy only leads to trouble.”

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The Great Music Debate

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Hal opened the car door and slipped into the passenger seat. Immediately his ears were assaulted by thumping pop music. Mason tapped out the rhythm on the steering wheel.

“Nothing like awesome tunes for a road trip, eh?” asked Mason.

“Absolutely,” replied. Hal. “When are you gonna start playing it?”

Mason stared at his uncle in disbelief. “I can’t believe you just said that. This music is lit.”

“As long as you mean lit on fire. This is awful. Tell me this isn’t popular.,” said Hal.

“Huge.”

“Yet another sign the apocalypse is upon us,” concluded Hal.

Mason rolled his eyes. “Lemme guess. You only like oldies.”

“Depends on what you mean by old.”

“Ancient. Beethoven and junk.”

Hal crossed his arms. “As a matter of fact, I do. Not to mention artists from the seventies and eighties.”

“That’s how old you’d have to be to listen to them,” scoffed Mason.

Hal scowled at his nephew. “At least my music has something to say. Not like today’s music. All they sing about are butts.”

“And you think my music has nothing to say,” laughed Mason.

“Know what’s wrong with today’s generation? They’re a bunch of hedonists,” said Hal.

“Know what’s wrong with everyone else? They think there’s something to live for other than fun,” countered Mason.

“There is. What about the future?” asked Hal.

Mason merged onto the highway and wove recklessly through traffic. “All that exists is the present. I live for now.”

Hal gripped the dashboard with white knuckles. “If you keep driving like this, that’s how long we’ll have left to live.”

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Holy Grounds

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Kyle took a sip of coffee, then admired the cup before setting it down. The spectacle made Nate roll his eyes.

“Have you ever considered the immeasurable wonders of coffee?” asked Kyle.

“Nope,” answered Nate.

“It’s genuinely spiritual,” said Kyle.

Nate looked around the greasy spoon just in time to see a man sitting at the counter, picking his nose with a fork. He cleaned the tines with his fingers, then continued to eat his pie. “Yeah, right,” said Nate.

“Coffee is a supernatural gift. A blessing bestowed to us that reveals the nature of God himself, both complex and mysterious. And it’s one of the few joys in life given freely to the entire world without partiality,” gushed Kyle.

“Awesome,” said Nate. He was still enthralled by the man eating his pie.

“And yet, out of this glorious nectar grows a dark rebellion from the heart of depravity. Frappuccinos, lattés and other frankensteinian abominations that mangle and distort the divine blessing. What God intended for good we have heinously turned into evil,” ranted Kyle.

“Wow,” said Nate. He watched as the man at the counter took another stab at his nose with his fork.

Kyle noticed the distraction. “What?” he snapped.

“Nothing,” shrugged Nate.

“Tell me.”

“It’s just that you talk like drinking coffee is some sort of religious experience,” said Nate.

“It is.”

“Which means this place is like a temple or something.”

“Now you’re getting it,” exclaimed Kyle.

Nate pointed to the counter with a nod of his head. “That dude over there is digging for gold with his fork.”

“So?”

Nate smiled. “Just goes to show. One man’s holy ground is another man’s booger mine.”

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Celebration of Life

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“I went to a celebration of life the other day,” announced Cecily.

“I’m sorry. Was is someone close?” asked Easton.

“A coworker’s partner. I think we met once at a party or something,” said Cecily.

“Those can be awkward,” noted Easton.

“It wasn’t bad actually. The only thing that got me was the term ‘celebration of life’. It wasn’t much of a celebration.”

“It’s just a nice way of saying funeral,” said Easton.

“Then call it that. Don’t try to sugar coat it. Don’t make it sound like something fun,” said Cecily.

“Death makes people uncomfortable. They try to soften it. You know, put a positive spin on it.”

Cecily thought about it for a moment. “Know what? When I die, I don’t want people thinking it’s positive. I want ‘em in deep sorrow, wondering how they’re gonna live without me.”

“When you’re dead, I don’t think you’re going to care either way. People will do whatever they want to do,” replied Easton.

Cecily frowned. “I never thought about it before, but I think funerals are all about the living.

Easton nodded. “Isn’t everything?”

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The Job Interview

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Derwin waited nervously in the boardroom when a man dressed in a suit entered. He carried files and a notepad. The two shook hands and sat across from each other.

“Thank you for coming in. My name is Claude Roger and I’m stepping in for Human Resources,” said Claude.

“I appreciate the opportunity,” replied Derwin.

“Excellent. Let’s get started, shall we?” asked Claude. He opened a file and set his notepad down.

“Sounds good,” said Derwin.

The smile on Claude’s face melted into thoughtful consideration. “Was the worst thing you’ve ever done also the funniest thing you’ve ever done?”

Beads of sweat formed on Derwin’s forehead. “I hope you’re not asking me to confess to any crimes,” he joked.

“Was the worst thing you’ve ever done a crime?” came the unflinching response.

Derwin’s voice raised and octave. “No,” he said.

Claude’s expression softened. “Okay, what was it?”

“I was young and stupid, just keep that in mind,” said Derwin.

“Go on.”

“I duct taped a cat’s paws. It was funny at the time, but after we got in trouble we realized how mean it was. It was a stupid thing to do,” explained Derwin.

“Interesting,” said Claude. He wrote stoically on his notepad. “Okay, besides a house or a car, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever purchased?”

Derwin breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s easy. My education.”

“You purchased your degree?” asked Claude.

“It certainly wasn’t free, and I have the student loans to prove it,” said Derwin.

Claude wrote down another note. “If you were a vegetable dip, what flavour would you be and why?”

“Wow, that’s tough.”

“Take your time,” said Claude.

“I only know a few different kinds,” said Derwin.

“That should make things easier,” replied Claude.

At that moment the door opened and another man entered. He looked around the room in shock.

“Claude, what’re you doing?”

Claude smiled. “Just helping the team.”

“You’re the janitor,” said the other man.

“The what?” asked Derwin.

The real Human Resources person grabbed a sheet from Claude. “Where did you get my questions?”

“Those are real?” asked Derwin.

“Of course,” said Claude. “We take your employee decisions seriously.”

Derwin gathered himself and moved toward the door.

“Where are you going?” asked the real HR person.

“I’ve just decided, I don’t want to work for CrazyCorp,” replied Derwin, then he closed the door behind him.

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