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Monday, February 17, 2003
"I approach life with wild imagination, adjusting myself to each situation accordingly, until 'reality' has a chance to catch up." - from pp. 3, 'The Wisdom of Pete'


Here's another installment of "Random Bits", a veritable cornucopia of humorous and insightful true short tales for your personal edification. Bet you can't say that last sentence five times fast! In these, Pete is the real-life character who interacts in the "performance called life."

= The Things We Do For Love =

A while ago, I was dating this woman with many wonderful qualities. So many, in fact, that I could overlook certain negatives, such as her being a bit of a spoiled brat.

Sometimes we'd laugh about how we met, and she'd say, "That'll be a good story for the grandkids, one day."

We met after a car accident. She plowed into me. Neither of us was seriously injured. That would occur *after* we became romantically involved.

In hindsight, I realize the way we met should've been taken as a sign of how things would work out. So, if you learn nothing else today, know this: Never date people you meet at the scene of a car accident.

But this got me thinking about other past relationships, and how they all went horribly wrong.

There was Kristin, who was a struggling artist at the time. We fought a lot. After one harrowing evening involving much screaming, fueled on by the consumption of large quantities of alcohol, I had had enough. I went into the kitchen, and got out the biggest butcher knife I could find.

I stormed over to Kristin, handed her the knife, and dropped to my knees.

Ripping the shirt off my chest, I puffed myself up and announced, "If you're really that mad, just kill me already. You'll feel a lot better afterwards, I assure you."

Obviously, she didn't kill me.

I guess she wasn't that mad after all.

Kristin cheated on me more than once. Her sign was Aries. Do I really need to say more than that, in the way of explaining her behavior?

Years later, I found out that she had become a teacher at a fancy-shmancy art institute in San Francisco. I was visiting an art gallery in Phoenix, and overheard this twentysomething girl telling her friend how this older woman - whom she described as a "vampire" - had stolen her boyfriend right out from under her. Enough was said that I soon realized it was Kristin she was talking about.

I started a conversation with the young girl, and then we seduced each other as a sort of belated, if oblique, payback.

The next morning, she told me that Kristin had called her a few months after the fact, begging her to take the ex-boyfriend back. Evidently he was getting on Kristin's nerves.

Ahh... good times, good times.

Then there was Kelli. She was a sweet girl. We lived together, in sin, for three years. I think what ultimately ended that relationship was the time she came home unexpectedly, and found me in bed with another woman. As you might imagine, things pretty much went downhill from there. There was much embarrassment and gnashing of teeth. I felt the former. She gnashed.

Eventually, she did forgive me. We stayed together, and I learned an important lesson that day. I never, ever invited another woman into *our* bed.

But the bloom was definitely off the rose, from that point on, and we later went our own ways.

Next up was Krista the Virgin. Let me just state for the record that I didn't know she was a virgin at the time, or I wouldn't have broken things off shortly after having sex that first night. I would've waited at least a month. But shit happens, you know? The deflowered Krista was heartbroken.

From what I've been told, Krista is now a semi-famous photographer who lives in Paris. Maybe her experience with me made her more "cosmopolitan", or else it made her better at dealing with assholes. A definite plus if you're a foreigner who lives in France, I hear.

All these thoughts about my past relationships made me realize something that applies to all of us, no matter who we are.

Often, we will put ourselves through a lot of nonsense just so, when the day ends, we can find some comfort in the arms of another human being.

= Phrases I Hate =

There are two currently popular phrases that I absolutely hate. Actually, there are more than two but, for the purpose of this article, let's say there's two.

The first phrase is, "It's all good."

As in, "My cat died, my mom got run over by a bus, my car was repossessed, my wife left me for my best friend, my kids hate me, I lost my job, I'm getting old, and I'm gonna die, but..." they then add, "It's all good."

This attitude implies only one thing: Way too much 'pot'.

But I wouldn't worry about that habitual marijuana smoker because - and I know you see this one coming - it's all good.

The second one is the guy who ends every other sentence by asking, "'Ya know what I'm saying?", as if he's speaking some foreign language or else thinks the person he's talking to is a complete moron.

I really, really hate when people ask that. But I don't need to tell you, because you know what I'm saying.

= My Dinner With Jake =

Last night, I went out to dinner with my friend, The Artist Known as Jake Martinez. We went to 'Tacos Mariscos Sinaloa', which is a Hispanic family-owned Mexican food restaurant.

Or, as The Artist Known as Jake Martinez put it, "ghetto Mexican". He's Chicano himself, so - unlike me - he can say things like that.

Since the waitress spoke only Spanish, I had to tell The Artist Known as Jake Martinez what to order for me, so he could translate it.

I started by asking for a glass of water to drink. The Artist Known as Jake Martinez replied, "Are you... do you mean mineral water?"

"No, just a regular glass of water."

"Are you sure that's what you want to drink?"

"Yes," I replied, "I mean, it's not like we're actually *in* Mexico. Just in a Mexican food restaurant. It should be fine."

While we were eating, this Amazon-like woman walked by. Except, there was a 50/50 chance it wasn't really a woman, but a very well groomed transvestite. Now, usually I can tell. I've got that Jerry Springeresque Mojo working. But man or woman, she was really built.

While we were both wondering if she was born a woman, or became one more recently, The Artist Known as Jake Martinez commented, "Well, either way, she *does* have nice breasts."

Sometimes, I thought to myself, if it seems too good to be true, well...

Later, the conversation turned to dating. The Artist Known as Jake Martinez said, as he gets older, it has become increasingly difficult to find the right woman.

He said he was 29, and I commented, "Yeah, as soon as you start approaching 30, it becomes harder. Many of the more suitable women are already married with four kids."

"How old are you?" he asked.

"I'm 35."

"Does it get any easier at 35?"

"Not that I've noticed," I said, "but I'm hoping at 36 I'll reach a new plateau, so to speak, when it comes to dating."

After all, what with divorcees, widows, and women whose husbands are going through a mid-life crisis and thus emotionally unavailable, things could pick up.

One just never knows. And hope springs eternal, in my book.

In any case, I'm not going to worry about it because, as they say in the U.K., "What is for you, won't go past you." Which is just a high-falutin' way of saying, "Que sera sera" or "Whatever will be, will be."

Those damn high-falutin' Englisters, with their fancy sayings and stiff upper lip ways, leading their lives of quiet desperation.

(The work of The Artist Known as Jake Martinez can be seen at http://www.jakemartinez.com/ )

= That Five Dollar Loan =

Last month, a friend of a friend was nearly hysterical. He was having some kind of emergency, and needed to borrow five dollars from somebody.

I only learned later that he often has such emergencies.

But anyway, after this long, drawn out explanation about his troubles, during which the needing of money was only mentioned briefly, I finally interrupted him and said, "Is this what you're trying to say? 'Pete, I need five dollars'?"

He sheepishly admitted it was. When I loaned him the money, he rambled on about how he *always* paid back his loans, that I could trust him, etcetera.

Point of fact: If somebody states, "You can trust me", chances are you can't. But I digress...

Some two weeks later, when I finally ran into this guy again, I asked if he had the five dollars to pay me back.

"Dude," he said, "I don't carry any money on me, because when I do I end up spending it."

"Yeah," I replied, "I'm kind of the same way. If I have money on me, I either end up spending it or I loan it to somebody who then never pays me back."

That got absolutely no response whatsoever. But my point was made.

So, from that time on, I didn't worry about it. I figure the money is gone, and if I ever do see the five dollars again then I'll think of it as a 'gift'.

= A Brush with Greatness =

During my impressionable youth, I knew this guy who was a couple of years older than me. His name was James Taranto. He preferred to be called "JT".

Now, he's the author of "Best of the Web Today" on the 'Wall Street Journal' website.

During his teenaged years, he enjoyed fast cars, cigars and making prank phone calls.

One time, he called Pizza Hut and ordered a large pie with ham and pineapple.

When the employee asked JT for his phone number, he answered, "555-432" (or some such.)

"I'm sorry, sir, I need one more number," the young lady politely informed JT.

"What do you mean? Another phone number?" he replied.

"No, sir, you only gave me six digits. Phone numbers have seven. I need one more number."

"O.k.," JT said, pausing briefly for effect, before intoning, "fourteen."

Well, it's A LOT funnier when you're a teenager. Believe you me.

I understand JT still likes fast cars and cigars. No word on whether he actually likes pizza.

When I knew him, his viewpoint was skewed toward Libertarianism. I think, nowadays, he's a little embarrassed by that fact.

Today, he is a political Conservative. Evidently, as any reader of "Best of the Web Today" can tell, he's not embarrassed by that fact.

I'm sure the Libertarian Party is waiting with open arms to welcome him back, just as soon as he "comes to his senses."

In any case, that's my so-called "Brush with Greatness" as the saying goes.

= Eat Me =

While I was waiting to order at McDonald's the other day, an older lady brought her 'Big & Tasty'(tm) back up to the counter.

"This has ketchup on it. I ordered it without ketchup."

The counter person apologized and said they'd remake her order. After all, at McDonald's they "want to see you smile."

The older lady did not smile upon hearing the news.

As the employee started to throw the uneaten ketchup-covered sandwich in the "unwanted food" box, under the counter, a homeless guy standing close by said, "I'll take that, if you're just going to throw it away."

"I can't do that," the McAutomaton said matter of factly, "it's already been served."

Their exchange reminded me of my youth, and the eccentric elderly priest at my church that would insist there was a third, lost tablet that Moses had brought down from the mountain. It contained five more commandments.

#14: "Thou Shalt Not Re-serve incorrectly prepared, but otherwise perfectly good, untouched food to the needy."

So, when I got up to the counter, I ordered an extra 'Big & Tasty'(tm) to give to the homeless guy.

"No ketchup on that," I said.

The two of us sat down, and began to eat. "This has ketchup on it," he complained, "I'm bringing it back to get one without ketchup."

"You better not do that," I replied, "because they'll just throw this one away. Then you'll be right back where you started."

= "Who's Watching Whom?" Now? =

The Feb. 14 entry, "Who's Watching Whom?" got a few readers in a tizzy. Suffice to say, when a column begins by stating it "is NOT satire, a put-on, or joke", chances are it is, in part, all three.

There's nothing like a little fear and paranoia to get the populace worked up. Just a little something I learned from my hero, George W. Bush.

Yes, all the domain names, and accompanying stats, listed therein were fact. The rest was conjecture.

Oh, but what sweet conjecture it was.

As lovable TV cartoon character, Homer Simpson, would say, "It's funny cuz it's true."

Some people have told me that my satirical style is sometimes too subtle. Hey, this ain't "The Onion", folks! I work hard to elicit a chuckle out of you, but fully expect you to meet me halfway. On a related note, I've been accused of being too self-referential. (Case in point, the quotes used in the Feb. 14 piece - referring to my X-Mas Day article - also refer to the piece itself.) So maybe, in certain cases, I can tend toward the self-referential. Heck, I've told *myself* that many times.

[Other "Random Bits" previously appeared on Jan. 20, 2003. A Valentine's Day version was published on Feb. 10, 2003. Click on relevant 'Monthly Archives' for these past episodes.]

posted by Pete 6:51 AM
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