A Change of Style

life, observational humor, barbers, life in Maine, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe big excitement at The House on the Hill today, Modern Philosophers, is that I went for a haircut.

I didn’t really have much choice.  I took a bathroom break on Thursday, looked at my reflection as I was washing my hands, and was freaked out by what I saw.

It was as if I’d allowed Albert Einstein to be my stylist, and he had recently watched the film Eraserhead.  Not the look I’m going for if I’m looking to get into a relationship with anyone other than a mad scientist.

I immediately made an appointment to have my shock top tamed again.

Denise, who is in charge of hairscaping, asked me if I’d like to try something different this time.  I’ve never had much sense of style, but I knew I no longer wanted to look like a serial killer with a minor in quantum physics, so I told her to make it short.

After all, with all this running I’ve been doing, a little less up top would make me more aerodynamic in my quest to become The Flash.

Once I’d given those instructions, Denise launched into a half hour monologue about pretty much anything.  Some highlights were today’s Rise Against Concert, the men who pissed on the sidewalk while in line for the recent Nickelback show, her son’s wisdom tooth extraction, the benefits of air conditioning, and where to get a decent lobster in the state that’s known for its lobsters.

Now all that chatter might upset another person, but for me, it was exactly what I needed.  I’d just returned from a 4 mile run, quickly showered, and then did my best to feed Luna and clear her stuffy nose before rushing off to my appointment.

life, observational humor, barbers, life in Maine, humor, Modern PhilosopherI was exhausted, it was a humid morning, and my brain did not have enough available voltage to form more than a few three or four word sentences.

As I sat there and allowed Denise to see how many words she could get in over the course of one haircut (my fingers were crossed that she’d break the World Record!), my thoughts drifted to a memory of Rachel aka The Girl Who Moved Away.

Rachel used to hate going for hair appointments because she wasn’t very good at making small talk with the stylists, to the point that it left her uncomfortable.  Whenever she’d have to get her hair done, I’d sit her down for a little pep talk and pepper her with conversation topics to help her survive the experience.

I also thought back to my previous barber, Fat Dave.  He never gave me an option as to what was going to happen once I’d gotten into the chair.  I guess they’d only taught one style of haircut at whatever barber school he’d attended, and Fat Dave proved that he must have graduated at the top of his class because my hair always looked exactly the same every time I left his barber shop.

Of course, the other major difference in styles was Fat Dave’s love of silence.  I had a theory that he’d actually wanted to be a mime, but had been forced into a career as a barber by parents who refused to let their son “do that crazy French crap with the white face make up and the pretending to be trapped inside a box nonsense”.

Where Denise is a perpetual speaking machine, Fat Dave was all about the sounds of silence.  He’d usually comment on the weather, and by comment, I mean he’d rip off bon mots like “It’s cold”, or “Looks like snow”, or “I see the town hasn’t plowed your street”.

life, observational humor, barbers, life in Maine, humor, Modern PhilosopherYeah, Fat Dave was a man of one haircut and very few words.  But he did have a cool old fashioned barber’s pole outside of his shop, which made up for a lot of it.

I did a lot of mental outlining of whatever screenplay or story I was working on when I sat in his chair.  That sort of thing isn’t possible when I listen to Denise.

And that’s not a bad thing.  I can write any time.  Listening to Denise’s stories gives me ideas for dialogue and inspires blog posts.  Like this one.

The difference in styles is quite obvious, but they both have their benefits.

All that really matters, though, is that I leave the place looking even more handsome than I did when I entered.

I know that was the case today as I’m quite happy with my haircut.  I’m sure you’re dying to see if Denise did a good job, so let me take a quick selfie to share…

life, observational humor, barbers, life in Maine, humor, Austin Powers, Modern PhilosopherYeah, baby!  What you do think of my new ‘do?  I think it goes really well with the sharp new suit I picked up last night.

Now if someone would please just point me in the direction of the single ladies, I’ve got some work to do…

Posted in Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Gargoyle Never Tells

short story, flash fiction, gargoyles, relationships, secret crush, humor, Modern PhilosopherIt was a perfect summer night to sit up on the roof of The House on the Hill, but my faithful Gargoyle was smart enough to know I had ulterior motives.

Gary turned on his perch at the edge of the roof, so that he could look me in the eye and get a better read on the story I was about to tell.  It was 85 degrees, and he graciously spread his mighty stone wings to offer me a shady spot in which to hide from the unrelenting sun.

“I finally saw her tonight,” I said excitedly as I sat down in the one section of the roof not exposed to the sun.

“Since it’s Friday night, I’m going to assume that you’re talking about your screenplay crush,” the Gargoyle surmised correctly.

“Obvious,” I replied impatiently because I was eager to tell my tale.  “I hadn’t seen her in over a month, so I was beginning to worry that she had quit.”

A smile slowly crossed Gary’s stone face.

“Would that have really mattered?” he challenged.  “It’s not like you’re ever going to act on your feelings.”

Her flapped his wings for emphasis, which forced me to squint when my eyes were momentarily exposed to the blazing sun.

“You know I could never do that,” I immediately went into excuse mode.  “She is a fantasy crush.  A complete stranger, who is way out of my league, and probably has customers flirting with her all the time.  Plus, there is no way someone that beautiful and sweet does not have a boyfriend.”

“That hasn’t stopped you in the past,” the Gargoyle went for the jugular, clearly not about to just stand there and let me fast talk my way out of that one.

short story, flash fiction, gargoyles, relationships, secret crush, humor, Modern Philosopher“Come on, Gary,” I implored the mighty stone creature who glared at me from the edge of the roof.  “You know I made a vow to never again get mixed up with someone who was taken.”

“Says the man who didn’t learn after he married his best friend’s girlfriend.”

Wow.  The Gargoyle wasn’t pulling his punches tonight, and those stone fists really left a mark.

Gary stared and just let his words hang in the air between us.  If you’ve ever been involved in a stare down with a Gargoyle, you have some idea of how uncomfortable I felt during those few, tense moments.

“So you saw her?” he finally asked, apparently having decided not to dwell on my past mistakes because we both knew I’d probably never learn.

“Yeah, and my heart almost jumped out of my chest,” I gushed.  “I guess I’d forgotten the effect she has on me after not having seen her for so long.”

“Did you just watch her from afar like a creeper, or did you talk to her?” Gary demanded.

“Believe it or not, I not only spoke to her, but she initiated it,” I boasted.

short story, flash fiction, gargoyles, relationships, secret crush, humor, Modern PhilosopherIt had taken me months to get up the courage to speak to my screenplay crush, as Gary liked to call her, but it should not have been that difficult.  By the nature of how we were acquainted, it was basically her job to speak to me should I have a question.

But I was so intimidated by her All-American girl beauty, that I could never find the words whenever I stood face to face with her for about five minutes every week.  Plus, my self-confidence is extremely low when it comes to gorgeous members of the opposite sex who make my heart beat faster than I could ever hope to run.

Then one day, she noticed I was buying cat food, and asked me how many cats I had.  She  told me about her cat, and we chatted away until it was time for me to no longer be naturally in her presence.

“She came up to you and said hi?” Gary asked with a reserved excitement that one would come to expect from a Gargoyle.

“Not quite,” I started to explain.  “She backed into me and apologized with that killer smile.  I asked if she was okay and then joked that she should feign injury and never have to work again.  She laughed, pretended to mull it over, smiled more, which almost made my knees give out, and then quipped that my idea had potential.”

“So then you finally introduced yourself because she is an intelligent young lady and has to remember that you make small talk every week, right?” he asked hopefully.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked as my eyes almost exploded out of my skull.  “I couldn’t believe I had managed to get out that many words the first time I’d seen her in a month.  I got the hell out of there before I did something stupid.”

short story, flash fiction, gargoyles, relationships, secret crush, humor, Modern Philosopher“Stupider than walking away from the perfect chance to have a meaningful conversation with your secret crush?” Gary admonished as he shook his head in disbelief.  “This is why you’re alone, pining over someone you barely know, and happy to get a glimpse of her once a week if her work schedule is willing to accommodate.  Talk to her and get to know her.”

“She’s out of my league, probably too young for me…”

Gary flapped his wings in anger to stop me from finishing my endless list of excuses.

“When’s the last time you dated a woman out of her twenties?” he demanded coldly.  “Hell, the first time you ever thought you were in love, you were sixteen and she was twenty.  I think that forever locked you into this Miss Havisham kind of time warp where you cannot date someone who’s walked this Earth for more than two decades.”

Did he really just made a reference to Great Expectations?  Major points for old stone face.

“You’re being ridiculous!” I shouted at my Gargoyle.

Notice, however, that I did not dispute his claim.

“You should have told her about the screenplay,” he advised.

“Ha!”  I laughed so hard that I almost fell backwards.  “How creepy would that be?  We barely know each other, but my crush on you and the paralyzing effect it’s had on me, inspired me to write a screenplay.  Oh, did I happen to mention it’s a dark thriller and the character that’s loosely based on you has a shady, secret past?”

“She would be blown away by that!” the Gargoyle insisted as he shot up into the air and did a quick lap around the roof before landing again.  “This is Maine, she would think it was awesome that a handsome, older guy, who’s had two screenplays produced and writes for a popular late night talk show, chose her to be his muse.”

“She’d think it was weird and have me banned from the store,” I disagreed.  “Then where would I shop?”

short story, flash fiction, gargoyles, relationships, secret crush, humor, Modern Philosopher“You need to stop seeing yourself as a weirdo outsider, and accept that you’re cool and unique,” my loyal Gargoyle pleaded.  “I bet you’re the only customer she talks to who writes movies, has met Dr. Dre, and could turn your weekly exchanges into a Hollywood thriller.  Be bold, Austin.  Talk to her about more than cat food and I bet she will surprise you.”

I so badly wanted to buy into his pep talk.  But that little voice in my head that has kept me single for far too long, constantly whispered that she would never see me as more than just another customer with a crush on someone far too beautiful for him.

Why can’t the voice inside my head be a mighty Gargoyle, rather than a nerdy teenager who never learned how to speak to the opposite sex?

At least it was a gorgeous night to be up on the roof, and I knew I didn’t have to worry about my Gargoyle ever telling anyone about the secret of my screenplay crush…

Posted in Dating, Humor, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lost In My Thoughts On A Walk

Thoughts on a Walk, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherHow’s it going, Modern Philosophers?

This is one of those nights when I absolutely need to write, but I’m mentally exhausted and physically drained, so I’m not in the most creative mood.  Plus, I think I sweated out all my creative juices when my body ran out perspiration about an hour ago.

Since my desire to write is so overwhelming, I was happy to remember the Thoughts On A Walk feature that the blog’s business managers twisted my arm to create a few weeks ago.  It’s exactly what I need tonight, but let’s not let the bean counters think I liked their idea.

As always, I’m just going to let you go all Being John Malkovich on me, as I grant you access to the inner workings of my mind while I’m out on a walk…

Thoughts on a Walk, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe first thought to pop into my head on tonight’s walk was “Why the hell is Pandora picking now of all moments to go on the fritz?

I conjured up this Deep Thought because the station had just started to allow The Boss to serenade me with my all time favorite of his songs, but it kept cutting out during the opening verse of Thunder Road.

Not to get all nerdy on you with Greek Mythologyl, but I do wear a toga, so this is going to happen.  According to the myth of Pandora’s Box, once that box is opened, you can’t stop what gets out.

Pandora opened up Thunder Road, and I wanted to hear Bruce belt it out on it entirety.  Ancient mythology requires that this request be granted.

Lucky for the chuckleheads behind the station, they corrected the problem before I had to pull some strings and get my close personal friend Zeus to hurl some lightning bolts at them for failing me.

Zeus and I are tight, and if you don’t remember why, run a search on his name over in he right column and read some of the posts you find in the results.

Thoughts on a Walk, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherIt’s been a very draining week.  I can handle to work stress, the fatigue from all the running, and the general vibe of loneliness that pulsates through The House on the Hill, but when one of the cats gets sick, it hobbles me.

Luna’s sniffles have never gone away, but this week they’ve gotten worse and she can’t smell her food, so she’s not eating.

This has me stressed beyond belief.  The kitties are my life and they mean everything to me.  To see one of them in distress makes me break down and weep.  Never in front of them, but when I’m alone in bed or driving to work.

The vet could never figure out what was causing her nose to be stuffed, and the situation had improved to a point where she was sniffling all the time, but still eating normally.

As things got worse this week, I turned to the internet for ideas.

Several websites mentioned holding her over a cup of hot water to allow the steam to clear  her nose.  Luna and I take regular steams now, and I think she actually likes it.

Another site suggested closing her in the bathroom with me while I took a shower so that the steam could work its magic that way.  We tried that this morning, and she sat there like a good girl next to the shower probably wondering what in the world was happening.

I’ve been grateful that she is actually allowing me the clean her nose.  She had been putting up quite a fight, but maybe she’s took weak now to fight back.  I’m choosing to believe it’s because she knows it’s good for her.

And if she lets me clean her little nose, she can breathe easier.  Good kitty.

I’ve caught her eating several time now, which makes me feel a little better.  I’ve been leaving out tuna for her during the day in addition to her usual wet food, and I plan to look for stinkier canned fish at the supermarket tomorrow night.

I’ve also taken to feeding her chicken broth and water through an eyedropper.  It’s a messy process, which she doesn’t like much, but it’s what I need to do to make sure she is getting enough food into her tummy.

If anyone has any further tips and suggestions, please share them in the comments.  And if you don’t mind, please keep Miss Luna in your thoughts until she feels better.

Thoughts on a Walk, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherI planned to work up the courage to ask my crush if she wanted to go with me to the free screening of Jaws in the park tomorrow night, but I just haven’t been able to do it.

For one thing, I’m a mess right now because I’m worried about Luna.  The main thing, though, is I still can’t get a read on this mystery woman.  I’ve been much better at approaching her to start a conversation.  She almost always laughs at my jokes and engages, but she never does anything to initiate contact.

Of course, this got the Deep Thoughts flowing.  Looking back at the major relationships in my life, my significant other always made a bold move to make it clear she was interested in taking things beyond “just friends”.

I guess my ability to read a situation sucks, because in every one of those cases, the women fell in love with me.  However, had they not made the first move, I never would have done anything and I would have missed out on a great relationship.

Give me some advice, Modern Philosophers.  How do I get that sign from her that she’s interested?  Or do you just never know until you ask and take the chance?

I will add here that the woman in question is very shy, so what I’m taking as a lack of interest could merely be her shyness.

Someone give me the pep talk I need to stop pining over her, and just find out once and for all how she feels!

Thoughts on a Walk, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’m not sleeping well.  No matter what time I go to bed, it takes me forever to fall asleep.  Now I’ve got the Fitbit wrapped around my wrist calculating exactly how much sleep I’m not getting every night, and it disturbs me.

I tried to rectify the situation about a month ago by buying a mattress topper and a new pillow.  I think the first one worked, but the second made things worse.

I’ve had the world’s flattest pillow forever.  Melissa would keep buying me puffy, fluffy pillows and insisting they were better for me, but they always hurt my neck.

But I went out a few weeks ago and bought some ergonomic, memory foam, comfy as all @#$%, super expensive pillow that was supposed to change the way I experienced sleep.

Well it did.

I just experience much less sleep than I did with the flat pillow.

So I switched back to my old pillow two nights ago.  It feels better on my neck and back, but now it’s been hot as Hell, so I can’t fall asleep anyway.

Of course, tossing and turning in bed all night worrying about Luna doesn’t help the situation, either.

I need a lovely young lady to volunteer to sleep next to me and rub my tummy and sing me a lullaby until I drift off toe Dreamland.  Any volunteers?

Thoughts on a Walk, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherFinally, I was very happy with the reception for Saturday’s post on introverts.  If you haven’t read it yet, here’s the link: How To Party Like An Introvert

I have received a lot of feedback on the post, which makes me as giddy as a schoolgirl at a One Direction concert, and it’s all been very positive.

Except, of course, for that one guy who had to ask why I couldn’t just leave the introverts alone and stop trying to force them to be social.


It’s not like this is a government run blog, and all readers must comply with every word written.  Lighten up, buddy, it’s a comedy blog.  I just want to make you laugh and think.  I’m not trying to force anyone to be the life of the (Communist) party.

Well, the sound of thunder in the distance tells me it’s time to wrap this up so I can enjoy the storm.  Plus, I need to head inside soon to give Luna another steam.

Thanks for joining me on my walk, and I hope you didn’t stray off the trail and wander into parts of my mind that no one should ever visit…


Posted in Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mirror, Mirror…WTF?

ghosts, magic, talking mirror, humor, life, Modern PhilosopherI very rarely go up into the attic of The House on the Hill, Modern Philosophers, because that’s where the ghosts are.

The Woodburys were the original owners of my home.  The clan was wiped out when a mysterious illness swept through Maine over a century ago, and they chose to spend eternity together haunting the house they love so much.

I worked out a deal with my ghosts when I bought The House on the Hill.  They could have the attic, and I would disturb them as little as possible.

This week, however, the Woodburys are off at a house haunting, so I have the place all to myself.  The timing of their vacation couldn’t have been better because I really have to get up into the attic.

I need the advice of the one person who knows me better than anyone else in the world, and the only way to speak to him is by going up to where only ghosts dare tread.

That person, of course, would be me.

A few years ago, my favorite witches, who were worried that I would die single and alone, decided to conjure up a little company for me.  They presented me with a magic mirror, so I could talk to my reflection whenever I needed human contact, but didn’t want to leave the safety of The House on the Hill.

Quite frankly, the mirror freaked me out.  But I couldn’t tell that to Waltzing Matilda, Volcanica Ivy, and Ti-Diana, so I just hid it up in the attic, where I knew I’d rarely have an opportunity to interact with it.

Until recently, I wasn’t a real fan of how I looked, so I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to chat up my reflection on a regular basis.

Plus, something must have gone haywire when the witches whipped up the spell to make the mirror, because my reflection speaks to me in the heavy Brooklyn accent that I have spent decades trying to conceal.

ghosts, magic, talking mirror, humor, life, Modern PhilosopherTonight, though, I needed the keen insights of my magic mirror, so I climbed the stairs to the attic, whipped off the sheet that protects the Woodburys from my peculiar gift, and finally addressed my long, lost reflection.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, what the @#$%, dude?” I demanded angrily.  “Why the hell am I still so miserable after I’ve worked so hard to get back into shape and be more positive.  Seriously, what the @#$%?”

“Dude,” replied the very handsome reflection in a grating Brooklyn accent, “you’re pushing yourself way too hard, expecting too much too quickly, and not just enjoying life.”

Easy for him to say.  He gets to hang out in a mirror all day and doesn’t have to deal with the stressors that haunt me on a daily basis.

“You look awesome,” my reflection informed me.  “Do a little spin so I can see it all.”

I complied because I knew the accent would only get worse if I didn’t keep the man in the mirror amused.

“I know I look better, but I’m still single,” I grumbled.

“And when’s the last time you asked someone out, genius?” my reflection shot back like the know it all it totally was.  “Besides, you ain’t gonna find love overnight, you know?  You gotta take your time, let it find you, give the ladies a chance to get used to the new and improved Austin.  You should wear shorts more, for sure, to show of those runner’s legs.”

I conceded that my reflection was probably right.  I did need to slow it down a little.  My desire to be in a relationship was putting way too much pressure on me.  Dating should be fun, not like I’m desperately trying to hire someone to fill a lifetime partner position.

“You look exhausted,” my identical twin said rather bluntly.  “No more walking tonight…”

I giggled and that stopped him mid-sentence.

“Did I say something funny?” he demanded.

“Everything you say is funny with that ridiculous accent, but words like ‘walking’ are just damn hilarious,” I made him aware.

“Go @#$% yourself, @$$%^&*.  You came to me for advice, so just shut up and listen, and then you can throw that sheet over me again and vanish for another coupla years.”

The truth can be harsh, but there is no harsher truth than the one you tell yourself.

ghosts, magic, talking mirror, humor, life, Modern Philosopher“No more walking tonight,” the guy from Brooklyn ordered.  “You’re gonna get that diet ice cream out of the fridge, plop that runner’s ass down on the couch, and watch the Yankee game.  Don’t stay up too late, but watch enough to remember why New York is so @#$%^& awesome!  Don’t set the clock to get up early to run.  You’re gonna sleep in, give your skinnier body some much needed and deserved rest, and take it easy tomorrow.  Your body and your brain need to chill.  Don’t even think about running or trying to get 20,000 steps.  You hearing me?  You think you can follow these simple instructions?”

I had to smile.  This was exactly what I needed to hear, and since it came from someone I trusted so much, I was gonna…I mean…going to listen.

“You know me so well,” I admitted.

“Get the hell outta here,” my reflection barked.  “I need my beauty sleep.”

ghosts, magic, talking mirror, humor, life, Modern PhilosopherI nodded and grabbed the sheet to throw it back over the magic mirror.  Before I could do so, however, that annoying accent filled the attic one last time.

“Don’t be such a goddamn stranger, alright?”

I nodded my agreement, put the sheet back in place, and headed for the stairs intent on following my instructions to the letter.

I’m so damn smart.  I really ought to take my own advice more often…


Posted in Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Total Eclipse of the Gun Show

humor, fitness, running, sunburn, life, Modern PhilosopherBig ideas and grand schemes take up most of the space in my head, Modern Philosophers, but it’s the little things that constantly keep my brain preoccupied.

These tiny distractions then derail my progress towards total happiness, and I have no one but myself to blame.

At the moment, I’m totally distracted by my quest to even out the suntan on my arms.

Believe it or not, brain cells have been assigned to figure out how to bring the sun’s warm kiss to the albino wasteland that is my upper arms and shoulders.

Yes, it’s totally ridiculous, but then again, so am I.

I’ve been running for sixteen week now, which means the parts of my body that are uncovered when I’m sweating up a storm five days a week, are deeply tanned.

Those parts that I cover because no one wants to see them, even after I’ve lost forty pounds, are as pale as a ghost who saw a ghost and has also been locked away in a windowless attic for two hundred years.

Why can’t a ghost escape from a windowless attic?  That’s a great question, but not at all the topic of this post, so try to stay focused.

As you can see from the following photo, which I must warn readers is graphic and horrifying in nature, there has been a definite line drawn in the skin on my arms…

humor, fitness, running, sunburn, life, Modern PhilosopherWhile it looks like the arm of a healthy, living man has been grafted onto the upper arm stump of a corpse, I assure you that this is a photo of my actual right arm, taken mere moments ago.

My sleeve is rolled up because I was, once again, out walking in the harsh summer sun, desperately trying to bring some color to the palest arms in Maine.

It’s gotten so bad, that I’ve taken to battling with the sleeves of my running shirts while I’m out on a run.

I’ll roll up the sleeve so that my shoulders are exposed, but as I sprint at nearly the speed of light down my route, gravity pulls down the sleeves again.

So I’m constantly rolling them up as I run.

Knowing how clumsy I am, you must realize that this is a recipe for disaster.  I’m bound to either get tangled up in my shirt, which will cause me to fall and fracture both the tan and pale parts of my arm, or I will wander out into traffic, and a passing vehicle will launch me into the next town.

humor, fitness, running, sunburn, life, Modern PhilosopherThat’s a selfie taken after Sunday’s run.  The sleeve remained up, but my upper arms also remained pale.

As you can see, all the sun went directly to my nose.

And still I will not quit.  Every time I go out for a walk, I roll up my sleeves a little, hoping that my alabaster arms will roast ever so slightly.

I know my upper arms, which are whiter than the average Mainer, are sixteen weeks behind my lower arms in the suntan department, but it’s time for that part of my body to step it up a little.

If I can drag my ass out for a run five days a week and sweat away forty pounds, then the least my upper arms can do is bronze it up a smidge.

I’m tired of all the farmer’s tan and redneck jokes.  I’m just a city boy, who isn’t cool enough to rip the sleeves off his running shirts.  I shouldn’t have to suffer this pale, pasty indignity just because I have a little respect for my wardrobe.

humor, fitness, running, sunburn, life, Stars Wars, Yoda, Modern PhilosopherOf course, the Star Wars Geek in me is was reminded of that famous scene from The Empire Strikes Back.  Yoda is putting Luke through his Jedi training in the swamps of Dagobah, and the ancient Jedi uses the moment to teach his student about the Force.

You all know Yoda’s famous quote…

A clear line there is, between the Dark Side and the Light.  If cross that line you do, no turning back will there be.

Obviously, Yoda was talking about the two sides of the Force that every Jedi must learn to balance, but he very well could have been speaking about the clear division between the light and dark sides of my arms.

This makes me at least Jedi adjacent since this very event in my life was predicted a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way, right?

humor, fitness, running, sunburn, life, Star Wars, Rey, Modern PhilosopherWas Yoda really speaking to me?  Perhaps warning me about the perils of skin cancer?  Should I give up this obsession with the dark side of my arms, and just be happy with my weird, yet distinct look?

More importantly, what does Rey prefer?

I’m a pale, pasty dude, like my father was before me…

Posted in Fitness, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Shake On It

short story, The Devil, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, flash fiction, humor, Modern Philosopher“I’m so sorry I’m tardy,” The Devil apologized as he strode into the living room.

As always, he was wearing an impeccably tailored suit, but today, it was covered in lint and dust, which was clearly driving my guest insane.

“What happened to your suit?” I asked as I did my best to fight off the smile that so badly wanted to form on my face.

“This always happens whenever I spend time in Human Resources,” Lucifer growled as he snapped his fingers and a lint roller magically appeared in his hand.

As he groomed himself in the middle of the room, I mentally debated as to which of my many questions I should ask first.

I decided to go with: “Hell has an HR Department?”

The Prince of Darkness stopped lint rolling to look at me like I had three heads.  “Of course it does.  There’s an entire ring of Hell that is just one huge maze of various bureaucratic offices.  What is considered Hell on Earth is even more Hellish in Hell!”

“Just knowing that is enough to keep me on the path of the straight and narrow,”  I chuckled as I grabbed a Snapple out of the cooler.  “Why is the place so dusty?”

That one earned me a roll of the eyes.

short story, The Devil, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, flash fiction, humor, Modern Philosopher“Why would I send a cleaning crew to that ring of Hell?” Satan asked with some sass.  “I want the Damned to be as miserable as possible.  Unfortunately, that means having to occasionally sacrifice a suit to the cause.  Just one of the many reasons I avoid HR as much as possible.”

“So what dragged you to that corner of Hell today?” I pressed with a smirk.

“I had to give a deposition in a case brought about by one of the Damned, who claims I cheated him out of his eternal soul,” The Devil grumbled as he finally made the lint roller vanish and then walked over to sit on the couch.

The statement caught me so much by surprise that I almost dropped my precious bottle of iced tea.  Luckily, my hands are as quick as my mind.

“The people in Hell can sue you?” I asked with so much confusion in my voice that it almost drowned out the actual words.

Lucifer shook his head sadly and sighed.  He grabbed a Snapple out of the cooler and chugged half the bottle before he replied.

short story, The Devil, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, flash fiction, humor, Modern Philosopher“Lawyers make up the highest percentage of my population,” he informed me with a weariness in his tone.  “There are just too many of them, and they kept demanding cases to help kill the time.  The Damned started going to them and filing suits against me without my knowledge.  In the end, it was easier to just let them have their weird little legal system.  It’s not like they are going to get released, so it’s fun to watch them work so hard for nothing in return.”

“What was this case about?”  I was riveted to my very first episode of Law & Order: Hell.

“Some new arrival claims that I cheated him when I made the deal for his soul,” The Prince of Darkness shared with a hint of mischief in his black eyes.

“Well, did you?” I cross examined.

“It’s a deal with me.  Not exactly the fairest of all business deals,” Satan chuckled. “However, I did give him exactly what he asked.  It’s not my fault that he worded his request the way he did.”

Now a devilish grin danced across his handsome face.

“Tell me…”  I sipped my Snapple and awaited the details.

“He was recently divorced and pledged his eternal soul in return for his ex-wife never finding love for the rest of his life,” The Devil spoke in a clipped manner, as if he were on the witness stand.  “He went on to add that she could find a hundred lovers as soon as he was gone, but as long as he was alive, she had to be all alone.  Then he said he was joining a gym the next day so that he could get into the best shape of his life and live forever.”

short story, The Devil, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, flash fiction, humor, Modern PhilosopherI shook my head in disbelief.

“Let me guess.  The second he shook on the deal and signed away his soul, he unexpectedly keeled over and died.”

“Unexpected only to him,” Lucifer quipped.

“You can be a real prick,” I told him because it was the truth.

“No,” he corrected me.  “I can be The Prince of Darkness whenever I damn well please.  If they can’t handle the consequences, they shouldn’t shake on the deal.”

Keep that in mind before you make a deal with The Devil!

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How To Party Like An Introvert

introverts, socially awkward, life hacks, advice, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’ve made no secret of the fact, Modern Philosophers, that I am a socially awkward introvert, who would much rather hide out in The House on the Hill’s basement bunker than try to make small talk with total strangers at a party.

But I am on a quest to improve my life, and one of my goals is to be more social.

So when my friend Joy invited me to her housewarming party, I made a vow to not only attend the event, but to also blossom into something more than a wallflower.

Why not turn this bold decision into a teachable moment?

So here are some tips to help you party like an introvert…

Remain within a safe distance of home.  The perfect way to get your feet wet as a social butterfly is by picking an event that’s close enough to your safe place to keep your Inner Introvert from totally freaking out and losing his $%^&.

In this case, Joy’s house is about three hundred steps from The House on the Hill.  So I could see my safe haven, which definitely put me at ease.  Knowing that I could sprint home at any moment helped keep stress levels under control.

In addition, by being able to walk to the party, I eliminated any addition stress that might have been caused by driving, trying to find a place to park, and getting home if I decided to have an adult beverage.

introverts, socially awkward, life hacks, advice, humor, Modern PhilosopherBring your favorite drink (and lots of it). The worst thing that can happen to an introvert in a roomful of strangers is to be left sitting all alone.  Anxiety levels will rise exponentially until your head is about to explode as you imagine that everyone is looking at you and mocking you for being the weirdo wallflower.

If you have a drink in your hand, you have something to do.  It looks like you’re busy.  If the drink is alcohol, the booze will quiet the voices in your head that are screaming at you to jump out of the window, do a crazy stunt man roll across the front lawn, and then run home like you’re trying to sprint to an Olympic gold.

I brought a six pack of Snapple to today’s party.  The added bonus of Snapple is that the fact written inside the cap not only gives me a distraction, but it also might serve as an icebreaker should I choose to share that fact with someone else at the party.

Sit near a chatty group.  Parking yourself within earshot of a talkative group increases your chances of being pulled into the conversation, or overhearing something that might entice you to open your mouth and comment.

Chatty people don’t like to see people sitting all alone, so the odds are high that they will take it upon themselves to rescue you from mind numbing silence.

introverts, socially awkward, life hacks, advice, humor, Modern PhilosopherEat.  There’s always food at a party, so at least do yourself a service and put some of it in your belly.

Eating gives you something to do, so you’re not just sitting there in awkward silence like a mime on break.

Food also sparks conversation.  You can comment on how good something is or recommend it to anyone within earshot.  You can also seek out the person who brought the dish that’s making your mouth water, and pass along how much you like it, ask for the recipe, or inquire as to where it was purchased.

In addition, people like to brag about their cooking skills, so someone might see you eating their contribution to the spread and come over and tell you all about it.  Listen, smile, and try to get a few words in when the opportunity presents itself.

Finally, since it’s rude to talk with your mouthful, you at least have an excuse for your silence while you enjoy your food.

Befriend the dogs and babies.  Any infant and pet in attendance is probably just as freaked out as you are.  Suddenly, they are surrounded by strangers and are confused as to what the hell is going on.

Babies and dogs can’t speak, either, so you’re in the same boat.  Be silent together.  Pet the dog.  Smile at the baby.  Give that little nod that you get what they are going through.

Also, pet owners and parents like to tell you all about their pet or child.  If they see you showing interest, they will come over and talk to you.  If you are feeling bold, pets and babies come in with built in conversation starters, so why not try one?  These questions work in both cases: “What’s his name?” and “How old is she?”

introverts, socially awkward, life hacks, advice, humor, Modern PhilosopherKeep a friend as a lifeline. You always know at least one person at a party because someone had to invite you.

Keep track of this friend, and seek her out whenever your Inner Introvert tries to escape and make your life more awkward.

Break the cycle of deafening silence by asking her a question, offering her a compliment, or having her tell you where the bathroom is.

This friend should know that you are not the most social person around strangers, so hopefully, she will introduce you to people or just take a few minutes to talk to you when she sees smoke coming out of your ears.

Obviously, that smoke is a warning sign that your head is about to explode.

Take a lap.  Get up and walk around.  This will rescue you from “Who’s that creepy guy sitting over there all alone and not talking to anyone?” status.  Changing your location could change your luck.  Maybe you’ll wander into a magical part of the party where you suddenly feel confident and talkative.  At the very least, you’ll collect some more steps for your fitness tracker.

introverts, socially awkward, life hacks, advice, humor, Modern PhilosopherGet all wild and crazy by actually starting a conversation.  You already took a major step by leaving your comfort zone and going to the party, so why not take one more step?

What’s the worst that can happen?  Is someone really going to be a total douche and ignore you if you start a conversation?

This isn’t high school.  The cool kids aren’t going to freeze you out and then shove you into a locker because you dared to speak to them.  Just say something and then let regular social norms take over.  Odds are you will be pleasantly surprised.

Quit while you’re ahead.  You want to end the great “Let Me Try To Be Social For Once In My Life” experiment on a positive note, so don’t be afraid to slip out of the party once you’ve tried all the things on this list and sense that it’s time to go.

If you stay too long and something goes wrong, it might take years before you work up the courage to face your social anxieties again.  So get out while the going is good.

Running away from social situations is second nature for you, so you’ll know when it’s time to thank your guest for her hospitality and hit the road.

Remember, you’re not going to become The World’s Most Outgoing Person overnight.  Any kind of progress is positive.

You can do it.  And the person you chat up at the party might be a fellow introvert, so you could be helping a stranger in need as well.

Have fun and let me know how it goes!

Posted in Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments