TTWA:  Yelp Review

 TTWA Assignment: Imagine you are on Yelp.  Write a review of the restaurant everyone is talking about.  In the fourth paragraph, admit you’ve never eaten at the restaurant, but argue why your misinformed opinion is still more important than the other reviews on the site.  

I based this story on a girl I once worked with at the National Institutes of Health.  Most of the story is true to a point.  She was my first real ‘love’ I guess you could say.  As is the way with these things, you tend to romanticize the past a bit, an error I’ve tried to remedy by mixing in a little farce.

Panera Bread, E. Jefferson St., Rockville, MD Continue reading

Diamond is Forever

“So which one is Neil?”  Rodney asked me between spoonfuls of what looked like rice pilaf.  “Is he behind the zombie in the sequined shirt? Or is this still the cover-band?”

I laughed and inspected my friend’s face for some sign of irony.  Surprisingly, I saw none. Rodney repeated the question, straight-faced, serious.

“Dude, you do know who Neil Diamond is, right?” I asked, somewhat dumbfounded.  ” ‘Sweet Caroline?’  ‘I’m a Believer?’  ‘America?’  Any of this make any sense?”

“These are . . . songs?” he guessed, looking down at his plate.  “That ‘Believer’ song was from Shrek, right?”

“Dude, if you didn’t know Neil Diamond, why did you agree . . .”

“Hold that thought,” he cried suddenly, shocked at the sight of his empty plate.   “I need another quesadilla.” Continue reading

Love’s Labors Lost

The latest edition of ABC’s Bachelor will choose his bride/soul mate/future tabloid scandal next week.   Mom and Katie are all a twitter, forcing me to hurl this question out into the void:

Assuming of course that the young man’s intentions is that of ‘true love’ and the hopes of the young ladies likewise lies in martial bliss and not just winning a TV game show,  which for all intensive purposes the show operates as; and assuming that all the buzz words concerning ‘chemistry’ and ‘connection’ and ‘marriage’ and ‘life-long partner’ contain a fraction of what these words represent . . .

If twenty or so girls (or men, The Bachelorette is equally guilty) profess their love/attraction to one guy (girl), how — when all the unsuitable contestants or prudes are removed from contention — can you honestly believe the affections of one or two?   In short, if all these girls fall for one guy with little to no knowledge of his hopes, dreams, fears, religion, favorite bands, or least favorite vegetable apart from his looks and his wallet, how can you trust any of them?  How can the affections of one be more trustworthy, authentic if the affections of many are so freely given?  Moreover, how can watching said program edify your faith in Love itself?

Admittedly the show sells itself as a train wreck, but with so much carnage, it makes one rather apprehensive to travel at all.  The single life keeps getting better and better.

Luddites in Love

Lately I’ve been immersing myself in the works of O. Henry so much so that I decided to write my own for geeks like me.  Imitating another author’s writing style is not as easy as it first sounds — mostly because the gauge for success is rather ambiguous — but anything that helps me become a better writer . . . well, I’m not going to ignore.  

Regrettably, the sibling response was decidedly mixed.   Katie really enjoyed it, while my dearest brother after some consideration responded with a ‘meh.’   Needless to say, I’m anticipating proofreading his next law brief. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story — more than Sean, at least.

Luddites in Love

With the exception of honeybees, ants, and reality TV starlets, the modern American citizen communicates more than any other species on earth.  Since the dawn of the iPod, it is said that the human species has stumbled upon the evolutionary fast-track to cyborg-ification.   Cell phones strapped to our ears; fingers typing out ten texts per picosecond; cat videos by the billions streaming on YouTube.  From dawn to dark, we expose our life’s tapestry of photos, quotes, and gossip before an expectant public like specimens in a digital zoo, to be ogled, examined, and meme-ed at the first opportunity.    The sum total of pheromones exuded by the world’s ant population palls to a day’s worth of status updates from an average college sorority. Continue reading

Guy Talk: Part 1

On the way down the road, I take out my laptop and begin writing:

Ryan and I are driving down south this weekend to visit Ryan’s girlfriend at the eastern shore, where she currently resides until classes end in a few weeks. I know very little about her college; although I hear that the scenery overlooking a small inlet to the bay simply takes your breath away. Ryan’s girl studies environmental scien . . .

“Dude, she’s not my girlfriend,” Ryan interrupts from behind the steering wheel.

I look up. “Huh? What?”

“This girl, I’m seein.’ She’s not my girlfriend.”

“Well, you’ve been calling her for hours each night all semester long. In some countries, these long-distance phone bills are considered a legally binding marriage contract. Hold on . . . how are you even reading this?”

“I glance over now and then when no other cars are around,” he says, weaving the car slightly between the yellow and white lines.Oh and that’s what she told me yesterday on the phone. She thinks it’s too early to consider us girlfriend and boyfriend, that’s all.

“Oh . . .” I say.  Ryan remains uncharacteristically quiet for some time after that.  I assume that he is trying to translate the feminine “too early to consider us girlfriend and boyfriend” into guy-speak, which reduces the situation into two possibilities:  Is this good?  Or is this bad?

“Also,” he finally says, “she’s studying biology, not environmental science.  You might want to fix that in your story.”

“I did not even finish writing that yet! If you cannot keep your eyes on the road, let me drive! Reading and driving do not mix very well.” I of course spoke from personal experience on this one. One August two or three years ago, I attempted to dodge traffic while glancing through Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  This experiment nearly launched me off the interstate. Thank goodness for stop signs and red traffic lights.

“No I’m fine. And it’s not that she doesn’t like me. She says that she likes me. She invited me down so that her girlfriends could meet me.”

“Yeah, but meet who?” I interject.

“What do you mean? They’re meeting me, right? I suppose they could meet you too, if you’d like, as long as you don’t do anything weird . . .”

“Wait, weird stuff? What weird stuff?” I scoff. “At all times, I am a paragon of normalcy.”

“You bow, dude. Or you say stuff like ‘Good evening, m’lady.’ Medieval crap like that. It’s embarrassing.”

“It’s chivalrous,” I remind him. “Besides I don’t make a show of it, just a slight bow of the head upon meeting. ‘M’lady’is just a saying of mine. It simply sounds better than ‘ma’am’ or ‘miss.’ More poetic, don’t you think?”

“Whatever, but if you embarrass me, I’ll punt you into the bay.”

“Slow down, man. Speed trap up ahead.” Ryan is still quite new at this game. His attention span fluctuates at times particularly in the midst of conversation or a “truly awesome” song. Led Zepplin’s “Fool in the Rain” mere moments prior sent us careening into a small embankment, bordering a pottery farm. I was nearly skewered by a lawn gnome. We pass the cop, nestled behind a grove of small trees. Ryan drops ten mph in practically seconds.

“Gradual deceleration, man!”

“Okay! Okay!” We resume normal speeds (i.e. match the speed of other drivers), and I breathe a little easier. No lights. No cop.

“What were you saying before?” Ryan asks. His attention to my meaningless commentary belies his interest in this girl.

“What does she call you? How are you introduced? Are you, ‘This is my best buddy, Ryan’ or “My pen pal, Ryan?’ ‘Just this guy I know?’ If you’re not her boyfriend, then what are you? If you are not her boyfriend, why are we wasting eighty dollars in gas to visit her?!”

“I don’t know . . . I just want to see her, I guess. I want to be her boyfriend. I suppose that this is just one of the hurdles in the dating gauntlet, right?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” What other answer is there? “Well, here let me change this paragraph then . . .”

Ryan and I are driving south this weekend to visit his . . . uh, platonic female friend and her equally platonic girlfriends for dating evaluations. If he manages to pass, he gains the title of boyfriend and man. If not, we eat eighty dollars in gas money, snacks, and tissues. Either way, it should be an amazing trip. Sun or storm, no place on land captures the savage beauty quite like the seashore. Waves crashing and breaking against rocks, liquid thunder, the pulsating heartbeat of a vast monster, an ageless world without remorse or light . . .

Clouds the light of the love that I found . . .

Biblio-fool

Short post today. After the past few weeks of – for lack of a better word – ineffective writing, I wanted to return to some old content and style. In other words, include the same nonsense; leave out the confusing rambles.

My journeys carried me to Borders today in search of a birthday book for my young cousin. A dangerous enterprise on the best of days (a perfect example of which welcomed us today with warm breezy weather, cloud-less skies, and no classes), bookstores always threaten to consume my wallet, the sacrificial lamb for my bibliophilia. For instance, no sooner did I find the perfect gift, Olivia by Ian Falconer, than my eyes wandered to the other picture books on the shelves. I considered additional gifts for my cousin such as Where the Wild Things Are or a book of poems maybe something by Shel Silverstein, the seeds of a childhood library and fantastic books for young readers (and adults alike). My hands tickled like a thief fingering his hoard, until my conscience – the prude – checked my actions. Originally, I set my price limit to fifteen bucks, and so conceding to the anxious groans emanating from my wallet, I returned the additional books to the shelves and sighed. On my way out of the stacks, a (cute) female employee stacking books nearby must have seen me and asked if I required any help. Anxiety must have stamped its mark on my face, and I wonder now if she saw me as a potential pervert, this twenty-something guy hovering and mumbling to myself in the children’s section.

Politely I declined and shuffled off with my – *sigh* sole – book, only occasionally glancing back at her slender figure (I am human after all.). Now at this point, I should have adjusted my blinders and made a beeline to the check-out counter; however, my inner voice of reason, momentarily distracted with its minor victory, allowed me to browse. I wandered through the young adult section for the latest Crispin novel by Avi. Irritated at not finding it, my frustration coerced me through the maze of Self-help and Gardening sections to the manga, where I picked up two new volumes (Spiral and School Rumble, in case your interested). This satiated my urge some, but now I required absolution from my geek guilt (Definition geek guilt: noun. That worried feeling of approaching the check-out counter with an armful of clearly odd, unusual (i.e. geeky) merchandise in public). Subsequently, I picked out two books on short-story writing for buffering, paid, and left . . . . after stopping at the nearby coffee stand for a refill on refreshments.

In summary, I ended up leaving having paid for five books and only – thankfully – two iced teas (Seattle’s Best Coffee constructs the best coffee milkshakes on the planet with real ice cream, no less; the ecstasy is almost too good to withstand.). Such is the nature of my bibliophilia. In my defense, the stories simply call out to me. Louder and with more brilliance than even the smoothest coffee milkshake or story-time Siren could ever sing . . . although in truth it is a lonely addiction. Maybe next time, I might invite the beautiful bookseller out for coffee. I might just amass the courage, unless of course I spy that Crispin novel first. Courage may embody the foundation of romance, but man cannot purchase coffee with an empty wallet. Perhaps we can muster a rousing conversation over cream and sugar packets . . .

“Courage, determination, and hard work are all very nice, but not so nice as an oil well in the back yard.”
— Cooley Mason