We’ll Always Have Hell

humor, short story, flash fiction, The Devil, Modern Philosopher“What if everyone on Earth finally decided to live a life free of sin?” I broke the Sunday silence at The House on the Hill with a deep, philosophical question.

The Devil turned to me from his end of the couch, gave me a most puzzled look, and then went back to reading the newspaper.

“It’s never going to happen,” he blew me off without even looking me in the eye when he said it.

“I’m serious,” I persisted.  “What would you do if there were no new souls being sent to Hell?”

Lucifer sighed and put down the newspaper.  As always, he wore an impeccably tailored suit that probably cost more than my soul would fetch on the open market.

“There is no way everyone in the world would suddenly give up sin and lead saintly lives,” The Prince of Darkness informed me like a true authority on the manner.  “There’s always going to be that one bad egg, who will see an opportunity in the situation, and break any and all of the sacred commandments in order to capitalize on it.”

“You really have a bleak outlook on the world,” I commented as I reached into the cooler for a Snapple.

“Given my line of work, I’d say that makes perfect sense,” Satan quipped with a chuckle.  “Just look at your Oompa Loompa of a President.  Men like him will always exist and try to exploit the system for their personal gain, while also using their power and money to keep down anyone who is not like them.”

humor, short story, flash fiction, The Devil, Modern Philosopher“But the world is sick of Trump and his kind,” I argued.  “Good people will finally vote them out of power and those dinosaurs will eventually die out.”

“You are so adorably naive,” The Devil mocked me with a smile.  “The Trumposaurs might become extinct, but they will merely be replaced by others hungry for power.”

I took a long sip of my Snapple while I pondered what he had just said.

“So you believe sin is eternal?” I finally queried.

“I sure hope it is,” Lucifer replied with a devilish grin.  “But let’s say for a moment that your scenario does eventually become a reality.  Everyone is good.  No one ever does anything wrong again.  It still wouldn’t put me out of business because Hell is packed with guests whose rooms are booked for eternity.  Even if I never get a new arrival, I’ll be forever occupied tending to those already entrusted to my care.”

humor, short story, flash fiction, The Devil, Modern Philosopher“So we’ll always have Hell,” I mumbled.

“Talk about job security!” The Prince of Darkness beamed.  “Not only I am guaranteed a job until the end of time, but I also get to do something I love.”

His beaming smile disgusted me, so I turned on the television in search of a distraction.

While I never expected the world to go completely sin free, it was depressing to realize that the sins of our past would forever haunt us.  I guess that’s what I get for trying to start a philosophical conversation with Satan…

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How Dating Is Like Trick Or Treating

Halloween, dating tips, relationships, life hacks, humor, Modern PhilosopherHalloween is quickly approaching, Modern Philosophers, so it’s time for a holiday themed Dating Tips post for those of you looking for love.

Like Halloween, dating can be very scary, but a lot of fun.  It’s easy to let down your guard and allow the Halloween Spirit to guide you, but then you could end up on a blind date with Michael Myers (the masked killer from Halloween, not the actor from Wayne’s World).

If you let me guide you, however, your dating experience can be just as safe as going door to door on Halloween to beg for candy from total strangers.

Now that I think about it, dating is a lot like trick or treating.  Let’s explore that now for all the lovebirds out there…

Halloween, dating tips, relationships, life hacks, humor, Modern PhilosopherYou put on a costume.  Just like you do to trick or treat, you put on a costume for a date.  Sure, it might not involve a mask, a cape, or elaborate makeup, but you don’t go out to meet that potential special someone dressed in the same outfit you would wear to bum around the house.

Dating is definitely about making a good first impression, so you had better jazz up the wardrobe for your big night out.

You could venture out in a mask, but that might alert the authorities and freak out your companion for the evening.

Ironically, the early stages of the dating process seem to be about wearing figurative masks and disguising our true selves.  The better the costume, the more likely you are to win a prize, which in this case, would be another date.

So put a little thought into what you wear.  Throwing together a last second hobo costume, like we’ve all done on Halloween, isn’t going to cut it on the dating scene.

And sexy hobo?  Absolutely not!

Halloween, dating tips, relationships, life hacks, humor, Modern PhilosopherSurviving Scary stories.  I’m not sure how trick or treating went in your neighborhood, Modern Philosophers, but when we hit the streets, we liked to keep each other entertained with scary stories.  Of course, we weren’t the best storytellers at that age, but it was a lot easier to freak out a preteen, especially on Halloween when creepy levels are already heightened.

The key was to not let your friends know you were scared, though.  If they could sense it, they would tease you relentlessly for weeks, and make your life hell.

Dating is also about surviving scary stories.  You sit there and listen to your date talk about her exes, other dates that went horribly wrong, and why her friends warned her not to go out with you.

You can’t let her see that her tales frighten you, though, because you’ll never hear the end of it.  You’ll be accused of being a bad listener.  She’ll tell you that you don’t care about what’s going on in her life.  You will spend forever trying to dig out of that abyss.

And she will make your life hell.

So just smile and keep listening.  Even when she moves on to stories about her family, work, and the annoying neighbors.  Be strong.  You can fake it.

Halloween, dating tips, relationships, life hacks, humor, Modern PhilosopherGiddy with anticipation.  Thinking about an upcoming date will fill you with excited anticipation.  You’ll probably lose sleep trying to plot out every detail to make it a perfect night, while also wondering if she is going to like you and want to see you again.

It’s just like the weeks leading up to Halloween.  You’re giddy at the thought of all the free candy you will soon have at your disposal.

You also lose sleep trying to plot out the perfect route to collect the most candy in the time your parents allow you to roam the streets.  Plus, you’re wondering if the candy givers are going to like your costume enough to toss a little extra candy into your bag.

I don’t know how anyone sleeps in the days leading up to a date or Halloween.

No wonder we look like Zombies, but instead of brains, we’re craving chocolate and love.

Halloween, dating tips, relationships, life hacks, humor, Modern PhilosopherHave to put up with (bad) apples.  It would be great if everyone just gave out candy on Halloween, but there’s always  someone who puts an apple in your sack.

And you can’t say anything bad about that apple because it’s still free, it’s good for you, and Johnny Appleseed might rat you out to your parents if you act like an ungrateful little snot.

So you say “Thank you” and pray that the next house has Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Dating is just like that.  You hope every date is a King Size Snickers Bar, but sometimes, you find yourself sitting across from an apple.

And it’s usually not a Macintosh, which would be somewhat okay since it’s your favorite apple.  Not that there’s anything wrong with apples, but when you’re on a date, you’re most likely looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth.

But you can’t just walk out on the apple, so you just get through the date, and hope the next one is that candy bar you’ve been craving…

Halloween, dating tips, relationships, life hacks, humor, Modern PhilosopherYou see some frightening things.  On a perfect Halloween, you’re going to have the wits scared out of you while you are out trick or treating.

I always appreciated the neighbors who took the time to decorate their homes as haunted houses, or had scary surprises waiting.

Halloween is supposed to creepy and frightening.  The candy is there to make us feel better and to reward us for surviving the scariest night of the year.

I’m sure we have all seen some very frightening things on a date.  I still have nightmares from some of my experiences, and the shrink says I have to keep going out there to face my fears head on if I ever want to conquer them.

So every date is like Halloween for me.

As a result, I always make sure to order dessert at the end because I need something sweet to reward me for surviving another night of horrors.

Halloween, dating tips, relationships, life hacks, humor, Modern PhilosopherExperience a sugar high, and then ride out the stomachache. Every Halloween goes the same way.  You stockpile mass amounts of candy via trick or treating, you quickly devour that stockpile because there is no possible way you can sleep with all that candy calling out to you from across the room, and then you wake up with a horrible stomachache.

While you were on that sugar high, all was right with the world.  You couldn’t get enough, so you just kept shoveling candy into your face hole.

The day after, you regretted your actions.

But when Halloween rolled around again the next year, you repeated the same process.

It’s exactly the same with dating.  You go out, you stockpile all the warm, fuzzy feelings and gobble them up.  Because you want to be happy.  Because you want to be in love.  Because you want to believe you won’t die alone.

Then the next morning, you usually end up regretting it and dealing with the aftermath.  Why didn’t she want to go on a second date?  How come we didn’t click?  Why hasn’t she called?  Why won’t she stop texting me?  Do I need a restraining order?

Whatever the issue, you bellyache over it all day.

But guess what?  You go on another date.  And you keep going because you want to keep shoveling all the feelings of being wanted and loved into that giant hole in your heart.

Halloween, dating tips, relationships, life hacks, humor, Modern PhilosopherYou only do it once a year.  Sadly, Halloween and trick or treating only happen once a year.

I’m not sure why we’re not encouraged to solicit candy from strangers more often, but it probably has something to do with society wanting to limit how much we enjoy life.

The same one time a year rule seems to be true with dating.

At least for me.

And that’s assuming I can even get that one date a year.  Maybe if I wear a mask and go door to door asking for a date, I’d have more luck.

At the very least, I might get some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups…

Happy Halloween and good luck dating.  Hopefully, there are more treats than tricks in your future!

Posted in Dating, Holidays, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Shrieking Smoke Detector Dumpster Massacre

humor, bad neighbors, smoke detectors, mental health, real life, Modern PhilosopherLast weekend will go down in the history books, Modern Philosophers, as one of those many times that I very nearly lost my mind.

After an exhausting week, all I wanted to do was relax.

But my stomach wanted no part of that plan.  As I’ve already detailed in Saturday’s post, something evil took up residence in my belly and made the weekend very gassy and uncomfortable.

To make matters even worse, we had a neighborhood incident that really fanned the fire of Austin’s discontent.

I shall refer to it now, and forever more, as The Shrieking Smoke Detector Dumpster Massacre.

And whenever I refer to it, I shall cringe and mumble horrible curses under my breath in my thickest Brooklyn accent.

I went to bed Saturday night feeling miserable.

As I settled in under the covers, after sprinkling my belly with Holy Water, and promising my first born to any being that would slay the Demon hosting a rave inside my abdomen, I heard a steady, incessant beeping.

Since the noises in my stomach were almost deafening, this new annoyance had to be extremely loud for me to hear it so clearly.

humor, bad neighbors, smoke detectors, mental health, real life, Modern PhilosopherAt first, I tried to block it out.

I was too damn tired to select another item off the weekend’s menu of misery.

Ignoring it was impossible.  It sounded like an alarm, so I was compelled to make sure it wasn’t coming from inside the house.

Once I’d established that the steady pulse of my looming mental breakdown was originating from someplace other than The House on the Hill, I went back to bed.

It haunted me until I drifted off, but with the windows closed and my stomach gurgling, it was more of an inconvenient white noise machine than a deterrent to sleep.

However, every time the Beast In My Belly awakened me in the middle of the night, that damn beeping was there.

Taunting me.

Disorienting me.

Bothering the $%^& out of me.

When I woke up Sunday morning, the cacophony of chaos continued.  I couldn’t believe that almost ten hours later, no one had banished the beeping.

I mean, it had to be coming from someone’s house or car, and there was no way I was the only one who heard it.  Why hadn’t anyone dealt with the invader?

humor, bad neighbors, smoke detectors, mental health, real life, Modern PhilosopherI was ready to turn green and go door to door through the neighborhood on a search and destroy mission that was light on searching and heavy on smashing.

What kind of alarm went off for hours?  Why hadn’t the police responded by now?

Even though my tummy was in turmoil and I hadn’t slept well, I decided to go for a run.  To be honest, I just had to get the hell out of the house.

And away from that beep…beep…beep.

But I had a plan.  Before I hit the raod, I was going to do some recon and find the source of the noise.  Once I’d pinpointed its position, I would come up with the next step.

I opened the kitchen and bathroom windows.  The sound that was constantly punching my brain was definitely coming from somewhere behind The House on the Hill.

So I went out in a light ran to hunt my target.  I circled the block, but couldn’t really narrow down an exact location.

I decided to recruit some help.  I grabbed my neighbor Mark and asked him if he could hear my new archenemy.

To my chagrin, Mark couldn’t hear anything.  He claimed to be hard of hearing.

I began to wonder if I was losing it.

humor, bad neighbors, smoke detectors, mental health, real life, Modern PhilosopherHad my lack of sleep, combined with the Alien crawling around inside my stomach, driven me to madness?

Was I hearing things?

It would explain why an alarm would sound for ten hours without a response.

I dragged Mark into his driveway.  Perhaps if he got a little closer…

He still heard nothing.

He wandered over to my driveway, where I could hear the beeping so clearly that I was certain my ears would start to bleed.

Mark just talked about his bad hearing.

Damn it!

I convinced myself that a run would clear my head.  If that didn’t work, an hour away from The House on the Hill was bound to be long enough to drain whatever power source gave that beep the ability to crack away at my sanity.

But when I turned down my block, after almost five miles away from THAT NOISE, I could immediately hear it loud and clear.

It was going to be a very long Sunday if I couldn’t silence that @#$%^& beep!

So I did what any sane person would do.  I grabbed the rake out of my garage and charged up the driveway of the house behind me.  My gut told me it was there somewhere.

Mind you, I was soaked in sweat and pale from my sickness.

I probably looked like a madman to anyone looking out the window.

humor, bad neighbors, smoke detectors, mental health, real life, Modern PhilosopherBut I felt like Thor, ready to wield my hammer to crush the @#$%^&* life out of whatever the @#$% was driving me batty.

As I strode down the blacktop, the beep got louder.  I was definitely getting warmer.

I was close enough to taste it.

That was when I realized the beep, beep, beep, @#$%^&* beep was emanating from the dumpster at the very end of the driveway.

Why in the world would a dumpster have an alarm?

I peered inside, dripping sweat onto the trash, and that’s when I saw it.

A box of smoke detectors.

What @$$%^&* throws out smoke detectors without making sure they were silent?

I used the rake to smash the smoke detectors, but they would not shut up.  There were two of them.  They were in the very bottom of the dumpster, so I couldn’t reach them to pull them out and stomp on them with my giant monkey boy feet.

I was sick, but not sick enough to go dumpster diving.

I was lightheaded and the stench of the trash made me want to vomit.

humor, bad neighbors, smoke detectors, mental health, real life, Modern PhilosopherI decided to go home, take a shower, and tackle this once I had settled down a little.

These smoke detectors might very well be indestructible, and I needed my wits about me to figure out how to dispatch them into the great permanent silence.

Shortly thereafter, I found a comment on Facebook from my friend Joy, who had recently moved in across the street.

The smoke alarms had kept her up all night.  And her roommate had added a comment about how they were driving him insane.

I excitedly posted that I’d found the bastards and was forming a posse to make sure they troubled this neighborhood no longer.

I rushed out of the house and headed to Joy’s.  Along the way, however, I saw a resident of the house behind me, armed with a snow shovel, going postal on the dumpster.

Moments later, there was silence.

A delightful, calming quiet.

The kid had killed the monsters in the dumpster.

I thanked him and went home to tell Joy we were free.

And the crowd rejoiced.

humor, bad neighbors, smoke detectors, mental health, real life, Modern PhilosopherAll was right in the world.

I could finally enjoy my day of rest.

My stomach still hurt, but at least my ears weren’t ringing.  Things were looking up at The House on the Hill.

About an hour later, I went to the kitchen for some Snapple.

Still smiling.



No.  It can’t be.

I had to be imagining it.



Was I feverish?

I had seen the dude with the snow shovel avenge us all.

Mother#$%^&* BEEEEEEEEEEP!

I grabbed my phone, texted Joy, and told her to meet me outside.

It was pouring rain, but I did not care.

humor, bad neighbors, smoke detectors, mental health, real life, Modern PhilosopherI needed my peace and quiet.

My moment of Zen.

I found the ice chipper in the garage.

I trudged through the rain to meet Joy in front of the house.  We climbed up the hill to the neighbors’ parking lot.

We went right to the dumpster and we smashed.

Then we fished out the remains and removed the batteries.

Finally, there would be silence.

I let the rain wash away the insanity, smiled at Joy, and then went home a hero.

The Shrieking Smoke Detector Dumpster Massacre was over, and the good guys had won…

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Tis The (Halloween) Season

Halloween, The Devil, short story, flash fiction, humor, Modern Philosopher“You do realize it is October, correct?” The Devil asked with obvious disappointment in his voice.

I knew what disappointment sounded like, having been addressed with it by my stepmother for far too long.

My guest stood in the entrance way and studied the living room like he hadn’t spent every Sunday in it for the past few years.

As always, he was sharply dressed in an impeccably tailored suit.  This week, he wore an orange and black striped tie, which explained his question.

“Of course I know it’s October,” I replied nonchalantly.  “The Yankees are in the playoffs.”

I knew that would push his buttons, and for some reason, I was in the mood to do so.

Lucifer slowly made his way across the room, still checking for the Halloween decorations he was never going to find.

“October 1 marks the start of Halloween Season in Maine, Austin, a fact which I know you are aware because you used to dedicate the entire month to writing Halloween posts for your blog.  We’re now a week into October, and there’s been no Halloween posts, nor any sign of the holiday at The House on the Hill.  What the Hell is going on here?”

I almost spit out my Snapple at the last remark.

Halloween, The Devil, short story, flash fiction, humor, Modern Philosopher“I just haven’t been in the Halloween spirit yet,” I confessed.  “Work has been so hectic and I’ve been under the weather.”

“And you prefer to blog about running and buying jars of pickles for attractive women,” The Prince of Darkness quipped as he sat down on his end of the couch.

“In my defense, you are always getting on me to find a date,” I shot back at him.

“Not at the expense of Halloween,” Satan grumbled.  “This is the happiest time of year in Maine.  Otherworldly Beings are flocking to the state, thrilled to finally be able to live out in the open, and that’s a big deal at a time when this nation is getting a little too White Supremacist-y for my taste.  There’s something beautiful and ironic about a state that’s whiter than a Republican Congress welcoming Otherworldly Beings with open arms.”

“When President Trumpenstein was promising to make America great again, he wasn’t talking about Maine,” I pointed out.  “We were already totally awesome and open minded.”

“You need to get into the Halloween spirit,” The Devil insisted.  “It will make you more appealing to the fairer sex.  Chicks dig a guy who displays his Jack O’ Lantern proudly.”

“I will see what I can do,” I promised.  “I do love Halloween, but I’m just so distracted this year.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to find the time like I normally do.”

Halloween, The Devil, short story, flash fiction, humor, Modern Philosopher“Find the time,” Lucifer advised.  “With that clown in the White House making such a mockery of things, people need to be reassured that there is a much scarier clown wandering the streets of Maine with a pretty red balloon.  Remind America that Halloween is here to save them from their extremely frightening reality.”

I took a long sip of my Snapple and studied The Prince of Darkness, who seemed so content as visions of candy corn danced in his head.

“I’m not sure I understand your logic,” I had to confess, “but I will do what I can to release my inner Pumpkin King and give myself over to the season.”

“You will thank me later,” Satan promised.  “Plus, I want a cut of all the Halloween candy you collect.”

He’s always got an angle, but I guess I didn’t really mind since I don’t need all that sugar anyway.  Plus, there’s no way he’s getting my red balloon…

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Why Won’t Sweat Kill Germs?

science, germs, fitness, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’ve never been an ace at Science, Modern Philosophers.  That’s why you’ll see me in a toga, but never in a lab coat.

Because of this shortcoming, I am forced to keep a team of scientists on retainer to help me whenever a scientific issue arises.  It cuts into the blog’s profits, but my inner Boy Scout insists that I always be prepared.

This was one of those days when Science was giving me a brain cramp, so I had to venture down into the cellar of The House on the Hill to visit my nerdy lab coat posse.

I did mention the scientists live in my basement, right?

What I needed to know today was why sweat couldn’t kill germs.

Let me give you the backstory on how this issue bubbled to the top of my forever simmering pot of Deep Thought stew.

I woke up in the middle of the night convinced that a monster was loose in the house.

The sounds that had roused me from a wonderful dream about a successful date (it had to be a dream if I was on a date that was going well!) were horrifying.  I reached for the bat and holy water that I keep next to the bed, and prepared to battle whatever evil had risen from the underworld to steal my soul.

I didn’t get more than ten feet before my sleepy brain snapped to life and came to the realization that the noises were coming from inside the bedroom.

More specifically, they were coming from my stomach.

science, germs, fitness, humor, Modern PhilosopherIn a moment of panic, which I am very embarrassed of now that I’ve had time to look back at it, I feared that I had either swallowed a Demon in my sleep, or an Alien was about to explode out of my stomach.

That was how disturbing the noises were.  The cat was cowering under the bed.  I was freaked out beyond words.  I had awakened into a nightmare.

Some sort of malicious malady has been recklessly rampaging through the office all week, picking off helpless, unsuspecting coworkers like horny teenagers in the opening acts of a slasher flick.

I had vowed to not become its next victim.  I’m a big baby when I’m sick, and I’m really not in the mood to change diapers and deal with late night bottle feedings.

But the silent marauder had managed to sneak up on me in my sleep.  Why it was too frightened to deal with me face to face is beyond me, but most likely a testament to how bad ass and imposing I am.

Regardless, there was something going on in my stomach that sounded like a bunch of drunks with no musical background trying to play a concerto while a colony of cats in heat sang along.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep last night, and when morning finally revealed itself, I couldn’t find the energy to crawl out of bed.

science, germs, fitness, humor, Modern PhilosopherI suddenly found that energy, though, when my stomach determined it was time to lock myself in the bathroom and never again leave the toilet.

I considered contacting Pope Francis via Skype to ask for Last Rites, but I was afraid that smells could somehow be transmitted over the internet.

Like I said earlier, Science isn’t really my thing, so in my moment of severe stomach distress, it made sense that a Scratch-n-Sniff Skype was a possibility.

Once I managed to escape the bathroom, I was delirious, overtired, and looking for a miracle to set me free from whatever colony of germs had taken up residence inside my body.  A body, mind you, that is now in the best shape it’s been in ages.

I couldn’t just surrender it to this hostile takeover on a molecular level.

So I did the only thing that makes sense when your brain is not functioning properly, and your bowels are functioning way more than they ever should…

I went for a run.

I know it sounds ridiculous now, but in the moment it seemed like the kind of brilliant idea that lands a guy on the cover of Time or wins him a Nobel Prize.

science, germs, fitness, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe way I saw it, the germs were trying to take control of a body that I had worked relentlessly to get back into shape over the last six months.

There was no way I was going surrender the bridge and allow the enemy to win.  Not on my watch.  Not over my weekend!

In the Weird Science that exists only in my mind, sweat would drown germs.

I mean, since I can’t swim, shouldn’t that mean germs in my body couldn’t, either?

Even though I usually run at least six miles on Saturday, I knew that would not be possible today.  Not with the Discordant Symphony jamming in my belly.

Going four miles seemed like a reasonable plan, however.  And if I cut down all the little side streets on my route, I could manage to stay within a mile of The House on the Hill, should the need for an immediate gastro evacuation or Alien birth arise.

Four miles would generate more than enough sweat to drown even the most stubborn germs.  Math has always been my thing, so I ran the numbers twice and was confident in my brilliant plan.

I somehow managed to run five miles.  Because, as one Facebook friend commented, I am a machine.  Once I’m out on the road, I’m too focused on the run to hear even the most violent protests of my stomach.

science, germs, fitness, humor, Modern PhilosopherWhen I returned to The House on the Hill, I showered, scrambled some eggs, and then  trudged down to the basement to visit the Nerd Herd.

As always, the scientists were thrilled to see me.  They crave any human contact.

They were excited to solve whatever scientific query I hurled at them.  Not that they would be able to catch it…these eggheads are not at all athletic.  But they are really adept at picking up things and transferring them to their massive chalkboards for review.

Gotta tell you, Modern Philosophers, I was not at all happy when the Head Scientist informed me that sweat could not kill germs.

When I demanded to know why, Dr. What’s His Face just smiled and replied, “To put it as basically as possible, the sweat is on the outside of your body, and the germs are inside it.  There’s no way for them to interact.”

All that money paid to have the answers at my fingertips, and they can’t even give me the answers that I want.

This is why Science sucks, Modern Philosophers.  Now please excuse me, while I try to build something to muffle the earsplitting sounds emanating from my belly.

Posted in Fitness, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Stages of Birthday Present Acceptance

humor, life hacks, real life, birthday presents, Modern PhilosopherOne of the fun things about leaving the sanity and security of The House on the Hill, Modern Philosophers, is getting to study the other people inhabiting this planet.

As Original Goat Girl often likes to ask, usually with her face beet red from hysterical laughter after observing the actions of those around her, “Is this real life?“.

What an interesting and appropriate question.

We live in very bizarre times, and I am forever checking around me for hidden camera because I get the strong sense that I’m on a reality TV show.

The basic premise of the show being to see exactly what it takes to make me lose my mind.

But not everyone around me sends me running for my straitjacket.  Some people actually make me better appreciate life.

Today was my friend CB’s birthday (her identity is being protected because the intern with the Mohawk was too busy tending to his hair to get her to sign the release form), and I wanted to get her a cool present for her special day.

Sure, CB rattled my cage the other day by refusing to believe that I’d met Dr. Dre and almost made a movie with him.  However, she has since made up for that by accepting the truth, reading the blog post I’d written about my first meeting with the man, and starting to read the screenplay Dre was going to buy.

Perhaps it was her actions of redemption that made me want to do something nice for her.

humor, life hacks, real life, birthday presents, Modern PhilosopherOr maybe it’s because CB is extremely easy on the eyes and pretty awesome.

Regardless of the reason, I bought CB the perfect gift and presented it to her this morning.  This was when I got to experience firsthand the mystery of The Stages of Birthday Present Acceptance…

Stage 1: Surprise When I appeared at CB’s desk with my beautifully wrapped offering, there was true surprise on her pretty face.  She clearly was not expecting a gift, and she was obviously stunned by the professional wrapping job I’d done.

Okay, so maybe “professional” isn’t the best word.  I’d wrapped her gift in newspaper, and I’m even using the word “wrapped” quite loosely.  Basically, there was a lot of newspaper, even more tape, and the result was an oddly shaped package that probably raised serious doubts about the mental capacity of the gift giver.

However, I could tell she was pleased, excited, and curious.  CB kept repeating that I didn’t need to get her a gift, but that didn’t prevent her from tearing into that newspaper like a little kid on Christmas morning.

Seeing her smile and dig into the paper with such vigor made me all happy inside, a feeling I very rarely get at work these days unless it’s 5:00 and I’m sprinting for freedom.

humor, life hacks, real life, birthday presents, Modern PhilosopherStage 2: Gratitude  Once the paper was gone, and the gift revealed, CB told me that I’d gotten her the perfect gift.

It was something she asked for every year, but never got.  It was just what she wanted and she thanked me many times.

In fact, CB could not seem to wrap her brain around the fact that I’d known exactly what to get her.  She was very happy with her gift, but also dumbfounded by my inside knowledge of her deepest birthday wish.

I was very happy.  I’d wanted to do something nice for her and I’d succeeded.  She was asking a lot of questions, but I didn’t care because I’d done good.

But she kept asking how I knew what to get her, which leads us to…

humor, life hacks, real life, birthday presents, Modern PhilosopherStage 3: Suspicion I know what you’re thinking, Modern Philosophers: How could anyone possibly be suspicious of a handsome, charming man bearing gifts?

To my surprise, CB went from gorgeous girl with a happy birthday smile to suspicious bad cop in mere seconds.

She peppered me with questions, which I was smart enough not to answer because I did not have a lawyer present.

Seriously, though, what’s so suspicious about knowing to buy the birthday girl a giant jar of Kosher dill pickles?

I mean, isn’t that what every woman wants on her special day?

While CB kept trying to get me to give up my source, I played it cool and explained that it was the creepy clown who stole the pretty red balloon I’d bought as her original present.

She thanked me again for the gift, but vowed she would find out who told me what to buy.  Then she repeated that threat to me on Facebook.

I replied with a witty comment and a red balloon emoji.

I was happy because I’d set out to make an impression.  Mission accomplished.

humor, life hacks, real life, birthday presents, Modern PhilosopherStage #4 Acceptance  After a playful email exchange, CB finally figured out who had played Cyrano de Birthday Present for me.  She confirmed that I had done a great job and promised to do the same on my birthday.  More importantly, she agreed that she would take me to that movie she owes me soon.  I’m putting that in writing here so she can’t back out on her promise.

So a long week at the place where so many weird, stressful things happen, ended on a high note because CB finally got that jar of pickles she’s always wanted for her birthday.  And I got to be the one to give her that odd, but much desired present.

I wonder if she ever blew out her birthday candles and actually wished for pickles…

Happy Birthday, CB!  Do you think we can sneak some pickles into the movies with us?


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Six Months Later

short story, The Devil, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, The Flash, running, dating, humor, Modern Philosopher“Happy Anniversary, Barry Allen,” The Devil announced with a smile upon entering the living room.  “It was six months ago that you began your grand transformation from lazy, overweight man on the couch to The Flash.  Congratulations.”

My Sunday guest was dressed, as always, in an impeccably tailored suit.  This week, though, he had added a pin of The Flash’s iconic lightning bolt logo to his lapel.

I was touched.  So I blushed a shade of shade of crimson quite similar to the color of outfit most associated with the Fastest Man Alive.

“I’m nowhere near The Flash’s speed yet, but I’ve taken major strides over the past six months,” I replied with an embarrassed smile.  “Thank you for remembering my anniversary of Slacker Sobriety.”

“Slacker Sobriety,” Lucifer repeated with a chuckle.  “I like that.  Six months of being fit and kicking ass is no small feat.  I did make you a little something, which I know goes against the healthy life you’re trying to lead, but I think you totally deserve it.”

The Prince of Darkness snapped his fingers and a whoopie pie appeared in his palm.

“Is that a whoopie pie?” I asked as I nearly drooled all over the floor at the sight of the delicious treat.

“Yes, but it’s not just any whoopie pie,” he explained as he passed the dessert to me.  “It’s devil’s food cake with peanut butter cream.  I thought it was a creation that summed up our relationship perfectly.”

This time, I really did drool.

short story, The Devil, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, The Flash, running, dating, humor, Modern Philosopher“This is very evil of you, but greatly appreciated,” I cooed as I wiped the floor and made a mental note to work harder on keeping the saliva inside my mouth.

“So how does it feel to be six months thinner and more physically fit?” Satan questioned as he took a seat on his end of the couch.

“I feel great, I love that I’m wearing smaller clothes, and my self-confidence is definitely on the rise,” I remarked as I handed him a Snapple from the cooler.

“I’m sensing there’s a ‘but’ coming,” The Devil quipped.

I nodded and took a long sip of my Snapple before I replied.

“I’m bummed that I’m still single,” I finally admitted.  “I thought when I crawled out of my fat boy suit to reveal that there was actually a somewhat good looking guy underneath, the ladies would finally be interested again.”

“First of all, just because you’re single doesn’t mean the ladies aren’t interested,” Lucifer pointed out as he glanced at the bit of trivia inside his bottle cap.  “Secondly, you cannot define your life by your relationship status.”

“That all makes sense, I guess,” I sort of agreed with a shrug.  “Something about being single really screws with my confidence, though.  I feel like the entire female gender is conspiring to reject me.  I know that’s nuts, but that doesn’t change the fact that I believe it’s completely true.”

The Prince of Darkness gave me that look that usually means he’s trying to decide if he should reason with me, or just run me through with his pitchfork.  Luckily for me, he chose the first option.

“You haven’t even asked out your crush yet, have you?” he demanded.

short story, The Devil, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, The Flash, running, dating, humor, Modern Philosopher“No,” I mumbled in shame.  “I’m starting to think she dislikes me, so I’m hoping that she will warm up to me over time.  Plus, I figure the skinnier I get, the more appealing I will be to her when I finally do ask.”

“That’s an odd and unique strategy,” Satan put it as politely as possible.  “My point, though, is that you cannot expect to enter into a relationship if you do not ask a woman on a date, thereby beginning the process that leads to you crazy kids going steady and macking under the bleachers during homecoming.  So don’t beat yourself up for being single.  Think of it as being six months closer to having the confidence to ask her out.”

“That makes sense,” I agreed.  “Plus, I know I need to look at my life as a whole.  I’ve lost a ton of weight, I’m much healthier, and I’m learning that I can do pretty much anything I set my mind to…other than ask out my crush.”

“I bet it wasn’t pretty the first time you ran six miles, but you didn’t give up on that, right?” The Devil asked.  “Keep running, and when you feel like you’re finally ready to ask her out, follow the advice of the goddess Nike, and just do it.  In the meantime, revel in the fact that you have made some big changes over the past six months.”

“Can I revel while I devour this whoopie pie?” I asked coyly.

Lucifer nodded and smiled.  What was it about this guy and temptation?

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