Issue #141 – “The Specialists” – December 1st, 2008

-I’m regularly amazed when fans email me to say they want to try stand-up comedy, but don’t want any of their friends to come watch them.  To me, the very definition of a friend is someone who will cheer you on while you’re attempting something terrifying for the first time.  Of course, different friends serve different purposes.  Some you call for advice, and others you call because they know hot chicks.  In a way, your buddies are like specialists, each serving important but unique roles in your life.  So whether you’re being booed off stage or booted from a bar, it’s good to know you have friends that will be there, never passing judgment, and always laughing both with you and at you.

-Some of my friends have dual personalities – one that is displayed in person and one that comes out via text message.  For instance, my buddy Shermdog is a fairly wild party animal.  But he has a completely different texting personality.  He sends me such thoughtful, nuanced messages that it’s sometimes hard to believe he’s the same guy who was shoving tequila down my throat only hours earlier.

-It’s possible to be really tight with a co-worker, to the point where you actually look forward to seeing him or her every day, but still have no desire to ever hang out with them outside of the office.  It’s weird because you share all the intimate details of your life with them while shooting the shit in your cubicle, but as soon as they ask you what you’re doing that weekend, you automatically start spewing a string of lies about why you can’t get together.

-I was out to dinner with three of my friends recently and realized that one was big and fat, one was tall and skinny, and one was medium-sized.  They looked like a team from the original Nintendo ice hockey game.

-I often notice that some of my friends have certain catchphrases that they always use.  One buddy always says “super” instead of “very.”  Another calls anything bad “brutal” and anything good “outstanding.”  Never one to keep my mouth shut, I call them out on this, which immediately makes the offender self-conscious.  I’ll say, “You know you just referred to three different situations as ‘bananas’ in this conversation?”  And they’ll reply, “Huh, I never realized that.  I really don’t think I say it that much, though.  That’d be banan – fuck!”

-It’s weird when your parents give your friends advice that is usually intended for you.  When I was a little kid playing defense in soccer, my dad would always urge, “Stay on your feet and stay between the man and the ball.”  This sort of evolved into an all-purpose pep talk throughout my life, long after I stopped playing soccer.  When my dad found out that my sister Caryn’s college housemate was an athlete, he was proud to dust off his once-again relevant words of wisdom and tell her, “Stay on your feet and stay between the man the ball.”  No one had the heart to tell him that she played water polo – goalie, no less – thus making this the worst advice possible.

-I hate to admit it, but sporting events that go down to the wire are sometimes better to watch alone at home than at the actual game with friends.  Much of the fun of going to the big game is the anticipation, the tailgating, the inebriation, and the camaraderie.  But this was all a lot better when games weren’t six hours long.  Now I find myself at tight games with my buddies wondering what’s worse: the fact that we’re all freezing, hungover, have to piss, or about to hit the worst traffic in American history.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-Whenever the music dies down while I’m on hold with tech support, I always anticipate that the customer service rep will pick up, not realizing that it’s merely the end of the song.

-The other night I was slogging through my nightly routine for getting ready for bed in such a trance that I accidentally put Clearasil on my toothbrush.  Luckily, it was vanishing, not tinted.

-Sometimes when I’m typing on my laptop I’ll hit the spacebar twice and be confused as to why that doesn’t create a period like on my BlackBerry.

-Enough with the mock outrage when a brawl breaks out on the field or court during a sporting event.  Yes, we all know such behavior is untoward and has no place in the game.  But it’s still fucking awesome to watch.

-I hate long walks on the beach.

-When I was home visiting my parents last week and finished driving my dad’s car, I made sure to move his seat back, re-adjust the rearview mirror, and, most importantly, change the satellite radio from gangster rap back to smooth ’70s hits.

-I still keep a ping pong ball in my apartment.  Just in case.

-When I lift at the gym, I put CNN on mute and listen to “The Ricky Gervais Show,” a podcast from the creator of “The Office.”  I think it’s the most brilliant piece of comedy out there today.  The downside is that it makes me laugh out loud – usually when CNN is reporting about some atrocity being committed in a Third World nation.

-And, finally, this holiday season marks the twelfth anniversary of the introduction of Tickle Me Elmo.  This was a watershed moment for me because, as I mentioned in Ruminations #73, my dad was an executive at the company that made this must-have toy and, for a little while at least, we were the most popular family in town.  I liked to joke that while some people had oil money, we had Elmo money.  My dad even got the voice of Elmo to call my mom on her birthday and leave her a hilariously dirty voicemail.  Life was good.  When I was back at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, sleeping in the guest room that used to be my bedroom, and looking at the original edition Elmos collecting dust in our basement, I was reminded how much simpler life used to be.  Before satellite radio, before iPods, before BlackBerrys, these silly, red-furred little monsters used to captivate us.  All these years later, everything has changed.  Well, except for the fact that I still use Clearasil.  Fuck me!