Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Apartment Life

Ah, apartment life! Who could ask for anything more? Who would ever want to live in a spacious house when you can have a cramped, overpriced, domicile wedged into a single structure with five or six other cramped, overpriced dwellings and their occupants? Not me, no sir.

“I’m fucking tired cause I’ve been fucking sweating all night and I’ve got a fucking fever and I don’t have any fucking money to buy any fucking medicine to make me fucking feel better!” the neighbor living in the house behind me screams in his shrill voice.

“Shut the fuck up!” Another voice from the unit next door. Such wonderful and enlightened conversations that float in through the bathroom window. Huh, there’s those sirens again. That must be the third time, in the past hour. It’s good to know that the local authorities are out keeping our streets safe. Was that gunfire? I’m sure it was just some local youths having some fun with firecrackers. Time to close the windows!

It sure is nice to live so close to so many amenities. Oh look! Upon returning home from grocery shopping, someone has taken the liberty of parking in my spot. That I pay for. I’ll just leave this friendly note on their windshield to remind them that there are plenty of open spots in the lot and I sure would appreciate it if they would use one of them instead of my designated covered spot.  There we go. Uh oh. It appears there is a spelling error on my note. Let me recheck that. “Move your fucking car or I will tow it. Regards, Me.” Nope. Looks fine to me.
Ah for a stroll in the back yard. Well whadya know? The upstairs neighbors have taken the liberty of keeping their deck clean by pitching their cigarette butts down into my yard. Well, though I do have a respect for cleanliness, I feel like I might have a few suggestions for them regarding proper waste management. A short stair climb and a frank conversation about the state of things and I can tell that I’ve set them on the right path. I can tell by that wide eyed, fear stricken look that they had on their faces that they’ve taken my suggestions, and what can only legally be called “implications,” to heart. 
I love the changing seasons, summer to fall, and fall to winter, where the leaves change and bring a wonderful array of colors and the air becomes crisp. I am so fortunate that I can know exactly when the temperature drops thanks to the single pane windows from 1963 that are used in my building. To wake up and be able to see my breath in the morning, in my bedroom, is a real privilege. It is so nice to be intimately connected with the outdoors.
And speaking of the great outdoors, it appears that the local feral cat community has welcomed a new litter of kittens and they’ve chosen my front stoop to discuss where the new offspring should be reared. Now, I’m no expert at animal communication, but it must be a hotly contended issue. I cannot deduce any other reason why they would snarl and hiss at each other like that. At six in the morning. On a Tuesday.
How bout that? The ceiling is thumping again. It seems that the neighbors are having an early morning. Or a late night. At this point it’s fairly hard to tell. No time to discuss the merits of respect for one’s neighbors. It’s off to work. Hump Day! Time to snug up that jacket, it’s a cold one out today. Oh look! The resident transient is  taking the time to water the local fauna. The water hose is probably hidden. And heated. That’s why that small stream of water is steaming like that. No, no. I don’t have any change. Just like I didn’t have any yesterday morning. Or yesterday afternoon.  Or the day before that.  And don’t think for one second that I’ve noted your physical attributes to be described later to the authorities in case you feel the need to reallocate my belongings to more efficient uses while I’m gone. Not that I saw you looking at my apartment number, painted above the space that I pulled out of. Of course not! Best of luck on your economic endeavors, good sir! 
Ah, apartment life! Who could ask for anything more?


Thursday, April 12, 2012


Few social settings reveal one’s quirks and eccentricities like the workplace. Taking a group of people who would, most likely, never meet in the outside world, and forcing them to work together towards a common goal by providing a monetary incentive has a way of causing people to do and say things that they wouldn’t usually in the real world. Whether it be casually discussing the merits of the underground baby food and food stamp market, or taking it upon oneself to hide under a one-eyed co-worker’s truck while he’s sleeping in it and subsequently scare the hell out of him when he gets out, the professional environment has a way of showing the world just how unprofessional everyone is.

Enter Horton. A co-worker of mine at my current place of employment who says some pretty off-the-wall stuff, often unprompted. After my first week with Horton (not his real name, read the CCA article “Disclaimer”), I was continuously doing the F.A.S.T. test (look it up) to make sure I wasn’t having a stroke when he was speaking. As a coping mechanism, I started writing some of his quotes down. Now, my first draft of this article had a meticulously laid-out laundry list of reasons why this individual is going through life at an extreme intellectual disadvantage. Oh, how I relished detailing out the unbridled idiocy that I am forced to witness daily that has begun to make me question natural selection. However, I realized that to flesh out such details may indeed diminish the value of the list below and it is best be left up to the reader to formulate their own opinions about our simpleton friend Horton. In case you’re wondering what is going on here, why I haven’t festooned said individual in insults, well, more than I already have, it’s called restraint, and I’m getting better at it. Sort of.

So, without further ado, I present to you: Horton.

On wine: “It’s all the same. It’s all wine.”

On space: “How do you know where outer space even is? You haven’t been there!”

On Russians: “I don’t know what a Cosmonaut is.”

On physics: “Time travel is faster than the speed of light.”

On the physics: “When I was a kid I thought of the Theory of Relativity before knowing who Einstein was.”

On guitars: “What are we talking about? Geese?”

On work advice: “It’s just….pshh…….fuckin’..….yeah.”

On waterfowl: “Do you know how to get a duck drunk?”

On crackers: “I wouldn’t want to live in a world without Cheese-Its. I don’t know how the Indians did it.”

On beer & wine: “I mixed them together one time and it didn’t taste good.”

On wasting time: “I never waste time in my life. Ever.”

On pet peeves: “No, I don’t know what the definition of a pet peeve is.”

On home cooking: “I would rather have bad home cooking, than no home cooking. I would just eat it faster.”

On being the hero of his own movie: “I don’t watch movies.”

On parenting: “My parents left me in the desert one time.”

On finance: “If you gave me a million dollars right now, I would turn it into a hundred million before I die. I could lose it all too. “

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Poverty Survival Guide

Hello again everyone, and welcome to another installment of CCA. While this usually serves as a forum for me to point out all the things humanity has gotten wrong over the years (failure to domesticate bears, Tuesdays, New Jersey), this time I’m going to do something nice, for a change.

I know.

Weird right?

Well, given the economic downturn that is currently afflicting the world, I thought it fitting to provide a helpful guide for surviving times when rising to the financial occasion is difficult.

What makes me qualified to rant about such a matter you ask?

Piss off. I don't need to validate myself to you.

Sorry, sorry. It's not so easy to do this whole “nice” thing. I'm sure that in reading this article, you'll find the principles that I convey are indicative of one who is familiar and proficient at living on a diminished means. If, dear readers, questions regarding my credibility remain, piss off, I don't need to validate myself to you.

Alright, you've found yourself at the bottom of the economic ladder. The bills keep piling up, your bank account is constantly overdrawn and your credit cards are getting declined left and right. Fear not, all hope is not lost. There are steps that you can take to make life bearable in your present state.

In order to successfully navigate, nigh escape, poverty, you must hone in your organizational and budgeting skills to a level that may have not been previously reached before. You must begin to view the world differently. You must begin to view every activity, every action, as a series of costs. Much as if one who was starving would view the world as a series of edibles, so you must view things in a monetarily conscious manner.

For example, a friend calls and suggests that you, along with several others, go out for a night on a town. Instead of viewing the night as a series of drinks, laughs, and most likely, a daisy-chain of bad decisions, the fiscally starved must see this as:

$15 for pre-game dinner with friends.

$40 (or more) in drinks.

$10 for late night food.

$10 cab ride.

$7 morning-after breakfast.

Now, for a simple night out, you have spent somewhere in the vicinity of ninety dollars. Please note, this not necessarily the case. I can hear you now: “But Kip, I don’t spend that much when I go out!”

Yes, you do.

Lying to yourself doesn’t really benefit anyone here.

I’m speaking in generalities in order to illustrate a point here, simpleton.

You know what? Just stop reading now. If you’re going to be one of those plebes who constantly says “Well golly, I don’t do that,” then you don’t deserve any form of help because you’re already three-shades-of-fucked. Reading this article will do you no good and leave knowing that you are one of the lowest forms of human life.

Now then.

Where was I?

Ah yes! Your hypothetical night out.

Comparably, that is roughly fifteen frozen pizzas (at $5.99 each). Or, four-hundred-and-fifty Top Ramens (at $.20 each). Theoretically, you could have just fed yourself for fifteen days or more for the cost of that night out.

You’ll notice I immediately jumped to the cost of food. Take note of that for we will return to it in a moment.

When breaking down your world into a host of financial drains, you must separate these into fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are those expenditures that are not going to change anytime soon and are recurring. For example, your phone bill, the power bill, student loans, rent, hot water, gas, are all costs that you must incur in order to function in modern society. Variable costs are those that can be reduced or eliminated all together i.e. alcohol, going out to eat, whatever shiny new tech toy that flashes a lot that has just hit the market, expensive clothing ( I’ve heard of $200 jeans before, however, as one who still owns a pair of corduroy pants, now shorts, that I procured in the sixth grade, I can safely say these will never be an expenditure for me), etc. In economic terms, these are referred to as necessity and luxury goods.

Well now, we’ve established our fixed and variable costs and realized that fixed costs are inevitable. Let’s focus on the variable ones. We’ve already touched on a couple, social-related costs and food.

Social expenditures can be very expensive. If you’re that guy or gal that buys multiple friends drinks or gets the tab at dinner with a relaxed wave of the hand and the phrase “Don’t worry about it,” you have got to knock that shit off. Your friends, while gracious in the immediate moment, aren’t going to keep the hot water on, nor do they really care that you won’t have it because you sprung for CPK last Thursday. In order to survive poverty, you must become incredibly fiscally selfish. Pay your share and leave it at that. If your friends are offended that you aren’t especially giving, then they’re not worth your time or effort.

I am not saying that you should abstain from entering into social situations where costs are going to be incurred, it is indeed difficult to do so. Rather, one needs to be mindful of said endeavors and their pull on your purse strings. A simple strategy I have found helpful is to take with you only the amount you wish to spend that night/day in cash. And when you run out, that’s it. You’re done.

Game over.

Call it a night.

Now, let’s turn to another of our variable costs, food. Vittles can be a large drain on finances if not properly managed. Eating out is a major culprit of decimating the wallet, the average dish at a restaurant costing in the neighborhood of $15. Groceries can be expensive if you purchase the high end goods. Below, I’ve listed a few tips to grocery shopping and eating while in poverty.

1. Stop shopping at places like Vons, Ralphs, Safeway, Raley’s etc. They are generally expensive despite their “club deals.”

2. Learn to love discount grocery stores such as Food’s 4 Less and Food Maxx. Goods are usually significantly cheaper than the competitors and the people watching experience is fantastic.

3. Costco will save your fucking life.

4. Learn to downgrade your diet to more rational fare e.g. black beans, rice, Ramen, ground beef, canned chili. It’s not gourmet, but it will keep your ass alive and in the black.

5. Stop eating out. If you are sick of eating beans and tortillas and must go out, dine off of the cheap menu at fast food restaurants. You can usually get a decently filling meal for under $5.

6. When cooking, make everything spicy. When something is spicy, you forget that it doesn’t really taste all that great, simply because you can’t taste anything else. When your nose is running and your eyes are watering, even the worst tasting dish will result in the claim, “Whoo, that’s got a kick to it.”

7. Forget about eating healthy. Eating right, while good for you, is expensive. You have bigger things to worry about than whether or not your off-brand peanut butter has partially hydrogenated soy bean oil in it.

8. If you are like myself, you enjoy the occasional adult beverage. Alcohol is expensive (I happen to make booze for a living and thus get mine for damn near free, ha!). Learn to love cheap beer. Simpler Times by Trader Joe’s is a great one ($2.99 a six pack) as is Keystone Light. Sure they taste like shit, but they won’t break the bank.

It would seem that I have put a central emphasis on eating on a poverty enriched diet. However, living in the financial dumps is more than eating spare fare. And while I’m on a roll at listing things, I’ve taken the time to list some helpful, general, financial management tips.

1. If you have a credit card, do not use it. It is spending money you don’t have. That “Well, I use it for emergencies,” mentality is a slippery slope and it will lead to a bigger emergency once you can’t pay it off.

2. For God’s sake don’t have kids. As my father repeatedly told me after my various trips to the ER in my youth, “Kip, I love you, but you are a terrible investment.” Children are hideously expensive and provide only emotional return on investment. Try paying the heat bill with love for your kids. Won’t work. If you have kids, try selling one of them. China does it, you should too.

3. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If you can get anything for free, take it and don’t ask questions. This is survival time and not one to be picky.

4. Don’t take on a relationship. If you are chivalrous like me (yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true, and my only virtue), you wind up paying for dinner, drinks, gifts and whathaveyou. They’re expensive and pointless in the long run. (Refer to the earlier CCA article “Marriage,” for a longer rant on the subject). If you have to, keep it casual until you can achieve a little more financial wiggle room.

5. Balance your own books. Keep a ledger of your expenditures. If you rely on online banking, you’ll find that those things don’t always keep up with the pace at which you spend. At the end of each day, bust out your receipts for all that Starbucks everyone buys at $2 a cup, or grande, or whatever the hell they call it now, (STOP BUYING THINGS LIKE THAT!) and enter it in to paint an accurate picture of your current finances.

When firmly planted in the muck of financial despair, the most important thing is not buying cheap food, spending less on going out, etc, but adopting and maintaining mental attitude that is fiscally conscious. Simply repeating the saying “I cannot afford that,” will help condition you toward being more financially aware. I won’t be the pretentious asshole who says “Try to maintain a positive attitude,” because poverty is not a positive situation.

If it were fun, everyone would be doing it.

Pinching every penny until it screams is nothing short of a soul crushing grind that can break you if you let it. The best attitude to take is one that will help you weather the storm and climb out of the doldrums which you are mired in. Sitting around and saying “poor me” is going to accomplish nothing to help your situation, nay, it will only make it worse. Now is the time to pull yourself up by your proverbial bootstraps and realize that no one is going to come flying in and alleviate your troubles. It’s on you champ.

Okay, enough of this being nice deal. Didn’t think I could do it, could you? Well, I can from time to time, it’s just not my default emotional state. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going back to being terrible.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Saddest Place on Earth

The words change from white to yellow on the screen. One letter at a time in straight-line syncopation with the music that barely precipitates within the white noise of the room, the words mean nothing to all but one who fixates on the screen. He holds the microphone in his hand and sets the words to the melody he already knows. He says the words he already knows. He sings the song he already knows.

His hair is primped and feathered to perceived perfection. His shirtsleeves, rolled up just below the shoulder, revealing arms once toned and defined but now serve only to belie his age and a past that he refuses to allow to fade. His nasal voice pushes the speakers to their limit as he forces the words on the screen into their pre-determined melody.

Meanwhile, a man in the leather jacket leans against a nearby table watching the other, awaiting his turn. He runs a hand over the top of his thickly gelled hair, an unnatural shade of dark brown only proven so by the stark white patches at the temples. His head tics, every few seconds. His jaw is in constant motion, perpetually sucking on hard candy that isn’t there. His turn arrives and he takes up the microphone, grasping tightly with two hands, then raising it to his lips. He croons in a smooth baritone voice, gently swaying to the song he already knows.

No one notices him.

No one sees him.

A heavyset woman in sweatpants emerges from the restroom. She takes two steps and wraps her arms around a young man from behind who stands nearby. She smiles, revealing a scattering of teeth as she gropes the young man. His friends laugh and hoot at his discomfort. A man in jeans and sheepskin casual boots staggers up to another within the group. He steadies himself.

“You wanna fight?” he asks.

“Sure,” the other replies.

He narrows his eyes. He straightens and steps forward. The man in the boots raises his eyebrows and takes a steadying step back.

“Ah I was only foolin,” he laughs sloppily, raising a hand and dropping it in dismissal.

“I wasn’t,” says the young man. The man in the boots does not hear him. He hollers a drunken greeting to someone across the room and staggers away.

A local celebrity walks through the door and is greeted by no one. He holds a coffee cup in his hand and sips from it sparingly. He moves toward the center of the room and stands alone. He looks from left to right, scanning the room.

He waits.

No one sees him.

No one notices him.

Trivial conversations at inexorable volumes are shared between the barstools, between those who will not remember them nor who they were had with. Moments of profound truth and revelation are held in a wispy grasp between those who have met for the first time not minutes before. Friends whose names they have already forgotten, lost in the cigarette smoke and the din of the karaoke light.

Fools, fiends, thieves, liars, adulterers, low-lifes, idiots, morons, rednecks, drunkards, lovers, fighters, heroes, villains; all are welcome here. Down here in the Village, where relief is doled out one glass at a time at the Saddest Place on Earth.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Wholesale Chronicles: Management

It goes without saying that in any realm of employment, in one way or another, your boss sucks. I’m sure the select few who read this fine piece of literature have some story about their respective employers performing some action that is not to their liking. I am no different. And in this installment of the Wholesale Chronicles, I shed some light on the mental defectives that are in charge of running the business where I was once employed.

The incident I choose to illustrate this point occurred on a Monday morning in the midst of spring. The preceding weekend’s activities had left me with two blown knees, resulting in a considerable limp, and a black eye. The cause of these injuries is inconsequential and I won’t bore you with the details of how I received them. Naturally, my co-workers inquired about the eye. I shrugged off the stock comments that I received:

“Jesus, I’d hate to see the other guy.”

“Who punched you?”

“Good God, what happened to your fucking eye?”

I related the exact story to a select few of the cretins I work with, then, after a while, repeating the same story over, and over, and over, and over, again became quite tiresome. So, I stopped responding truthfully and started creating elaborate lies just to keep myself entertained.

“I was attacked by a mountain lion. Seriously. No, I thought it was weird that there was one in the produce aisle at Vons too.”

“Apparently those damn Jehovah’s Witnesses really don’t like it when you invite them in to talk while your roommate goes around the back of the house and slashes their tires. Who knew?”

“Do you have any idea how hard it is to tackle a seeing eye dog? Difficult as hell.”

As the morning wore on, I grew weary of crafting such whimsical tales and just resigned myself to a series of shrugs and grunts. And I still had yet to confront the worst two in the bunch; upper management. When I recanted the tale of how my physical injuries came about to the second in command,(who will be affectionately referred to as Fuckface), he stared at me blankly as though I had just urinated in his cereal and he was struggling to reason through why I had done such a thing.

“You’re a fucking idiot,” he said flatly, then turned his back and walked away.

One down. One to go.

An hour passed and I still had not seen manager number two, Itty Bitty, a moniker bestowed upon him fittingly as he stands a mere five-foot-five-inches tall and appears to be evolutionarily equipped to handle cold weather well. And by that I mean he’s a short, hairy sonofabitch who’s not what you would call a “mental giant” by any stretch of the imagination.

I entered the office to pick something off of the printer inside and there he was, head snapped directly at me as he heard the door opening. He shifted his stance and stared directly at me, brows furrowed in confusion as his gaze was fixated on the black, blue, green, and yellow mess that was my left eye.

“Hey, Lorenzetti. What’d you do to your eye?” his voice as though it was working it’s way past a wad of gravel in his throat.

“I fell down some stairs,” I replied.

“No you didn’t.”

“Your right Itty Bitty, the truth of the matter is, I walked into a door.”

“Why did you do that?”

“Clumsy I guess.”

“Why don’t you tell me the real story?”

“Because you wouldn’t understand. You would just say ‘That was stupid, why the hell did you do that?’”

“That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t understand.”

“Actually, that’s exactly what that means.”

“You could’ve just told me that you went to a concert on Friday night and got into a fight and got punched in the eye.”

“Well, that’s what happened.” Itty Bitty pauses.

“That was stupid, why the hell did you do that?”

Like I said, not what you would consider a mental giant.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Well folks, it’s been a while since I posted anything here at CCA. And to kick things off again, I’d like to broach a subject that is becoming more and more prominent as I get older.


Now, this may seem like a topic that bears with it a certain emotional gravity that I have not been known to possess. But then again, I have been listening to a lot of Toto recently. However, this particular essay will not be embarking on exploring the joys of institutionalized monogamy. Such a folly would be unbecoming of my cynical nature. No, dear readers, rather this tryst will exploit the absurdity of such unions and the consequences they invoke; from the courtship, to the hideously expensive ceremony, to the fights, and to the statistically predicted divorce. So sit down with a good cup of coffee, tea, or something a bit stronger, buckle up and enjoy a misanthrope’s view of marriage.

“Kip, I will never forgive you for what you did to my wedding,” the angry voice crackles out of the small cellular phone speaker. A former co-worker holds the phone in his hand with a wry smile on his face as his new bride chides me on the other end of the line.

“Thanks. I do what I can.” Months earlier, the co-worker had indicated to me that his then-fiancĂ© wanted each of them to write their own vows and he was incurring some difficulty writing his. I came to him later that day with an idea for his vows.

“Okay, I’ve got it,” I exclaimed excitedly. “So, it’s the middle of the ceremony and now its time for you to read your vows. Your respective families and friends are in attendance and all eyes are on you. I want you to act all nervous, like this is a huge moment.”

“It is a huge moment.”

“Right, sure it is. Anyway, act nervous, like you can’t remember the vows and pull a piece of paper from your pocket with them written on it. Make sure you turn to the priest and the rest of the guests and say ‘ I’m sorry. I’m so nervous, I couldn’t memorize them,’ and fiddle with the paper like you can’t get it unfolded. Finally, you unfold the paper, you take a deep breath as you quickly scan the note you prepared prior. Then, you look your new blushing bride in the eye and say: ‘Make me a sandwich. P.S. No kids.’”

At which point I burst into laughter, as does the co-worker. That night, said associate returned home to his mate and relayed my thoughts on their wedding vows. The next day he returned.

“I suppose I should thank you,” he said.

“Why’s that?” I replied

“I told the wife about your wedding vows idea and now we’re not doing them for the wedding.”



“So, you’re saying I altered your wedding ceremony, before it happened, and without even being there?”

“It would appear so.”

“Huh. How bout that? Well, you’re welcome.”

In order to begin to diagram this absurd notion commonly known as matrimony, one must first establish a clear definition of said concept. For this argument, marriage, excluding cultural variations, is the pair bond between two individuals that is recognized both socially and institutionally and is commenced by a matrimonial ceremony. This definition is simplistic in nature and excludes the implied notion of offspring eventually being produced in this union as this is not, though indeed common, a guaranteed outcome and to expand further on the definition is another philosophical argument altogether that I have no interest in indulging.

Having established what marriage is, we can move forward. Well, let’s actually go backwards per se. The notion of an established pair bond between two humans links to evolutionary principles. Humans, being slow to develop and having no natural defenses e.g. claws, speed, sharp teeth, other things that would make us, just, awesome, other than our higher brain functioning, are fairly vulnerable to predation when in infancy, and just about every other time for that matter. Females have an evolutionary incentive to pair bond with males as to ensure protection from predators while raising their young. Males have a similar incentive in that they have to ensure the survival of their genes and thus ward off other predators and other males from their mate and progeny, thus establishing monogamy within the herd. More simply phrased, it’s tough to feed the damn kids when lions keep running out of the bushes and eating them.

This symbiosis has evolved as the species has and become a biosocial norm that has large cultural, social and legal connotations attached to it. As technology has progressed and we, as a species, no longer have to worry about the threat of being eaten (much to this author’s dismay) this pattern of pair bonding has persisted and become the modern practice of marriage.

Let us skip ahead to modern day, brushing past years of marital evolution, the concept of the dowry, how women were essentially purchased for marriage in order to mutually benefit the participating families and the not-so-subtle implications of slavery. These things, absurdly humorous though they may be, are not worth going into. I have already tried to educate my married or engaged friends on the subject by cracking jokes akin to “How many pigs are you going to have to give up for her?” or “Jeez, I hope you only gave her folks the shitty wheat fields, otherwise you’re getting ripped off,” only to have them give me blank, unknowing, stares and leave me frustrated as usual.

Before we can even examine marriage, we must first explore the engagement. More importantly, the ring. Ah yes, that moment that every woman looks forward to: When her knight in shining armor bends down to one knee and produces a large lustrous diamond affixed a twenty four karat gold ring and utters those words: “Will you marry me?” Cutting through the fog of such a fantasy, we see that the diamond is, indeed, a fake, because the knight couldn’t afford to drop several thousand dollars on a literal rock that only has value because it has been culturally assigned to it and only partly realizes the ridiculousness in assigning such a small trinket to embody a commitment that, in theory, lasts a lifetime. Conversely, if the diamond is real, the odds are that it originated in Africa (sixty-six percent to precise). And although there are several safeguards to insure that said stone is not a “conflict” or “blood” diamond, (diamonds that are mined in a war zone and sold to finance insurgency or civil war), one can never truly be sure that it wasn’t smuggled in from a conflict area and passed off as legitimate. No, it’s fine. I’m sure that African child is happy to have its arm lopped off so you could wear that rock on your finger. I’m sure you’re very happy.

Fast forward, it’s the day of the ceremony. You’ve just committed a small fortune to make this day happen. Or rather, the bride’s family has, a modern manifestation of the dowry or brideprice. Everyone is teary eyed and blissful. The bride and groom (or brides, or grooms) say “I do,” and walk down the aisle as newlyweds. Congratulations are passed around, libations are shared and a feast is had and all return home that night to their beds impregnated with a sense of idealism that says the world is truly pure and good.

Why hello Reality, I didn’t know you’d be stopping by so soon. Well I guess you had better come on in and get comfortable. The romanticism of this union that the newlyweds expected would endure has now faded and all those little eccentricities that each partner possesses that each found endearing, now are simply irritating.

Roughly fifty percent of marriages in America end in divorce (This is not an exact figure, but roughly accurate. The distribution is different for certain age demographics), many of these unions not lasting the first year. Congratulations, you’ve now got a one-in-two chance that this isn’t going to pan out well for either of you. Suppose now that a child is conceived. According to the statistics, there is a twenty-six percent chance that the father is raising someone else’s child and unaware of the infidelity that produced said child. Conversely and returning to the biological nature mentioned earlier, males have an evolutionary incentive to mate with as many partners as possible in order to spread their genes. Hence, it is in a man’s nature not to be engaged in an exclusively monogamous relationship and as governed by his own biology, is more likely to be unfaithful to his mate.


Now, there is a roughly seventy-six percent chance that something disastrous will occur in any marriage (the math on this may be what the Brits call “dodgy”, but then again, I am not a qualified statistician). For all of my acquaintances who are married or engaged: do not distress. I’ve already got money on your respective unions falling apart and I stand to profit handsomely from it. This does not even include the immeasurable statistics such as dwindling attraction, boredom, resentment, lies, reduced sexual chemistry, and other things that occur in a long term monogamous relationship that can lead to said relationship failing.

What draws the haze of the absurd down upon the notion of marriage is the pervasiveness of the ritual and corresponding behavior, in both scope and scale, that is derived from simply not wanting to become food for something larger. One would think that in the absence of cause, an effect would cease to be. For if it does not rain, one does not need a raincoat. However, thousands of years of cultural conditioning are a tough thing to break. Predators or not, those “Save the Date,” notes keep showing up in the damn mail.

Regardless of this author’s cynicism and facing staggering odds, some marriages do prevail. I have been fortunate enough to be a mere spectator of marital disasters rather than having been directly involved with them on my own accord or my parents’. Additionally, I have many friends who are in seemingly happy unions. I have no doubts that fights have occurred along with doubt, resentment, and perhaps even fidelity issues. Nevertheless, these people, despite biological precedents and statistical trends, have made it work.

For now.

“So Kip, I have a question for you: when do you think you’re going to get married?” It is well into the early morning hours on a dark residential street and I am walking back to a friend’s house, accompanied by a few acquaintances, from a night on the town. Walking may be something of an overstatement; a casual observer would deem it more of a well coordinated stumble. But that is beside the point. My female friend, who is walking by my side, has just posed the aforementioned question to me. It is also poignant to point out that my current gait seems to be a shared condition amongst the group. I let out a cackle.

“Barring a severe head injury my dear, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”


Popenoe, David. The Evolution of Marriage and The Problem of Stepfamiles: A Biosocial Perspective. Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates. 1994. Hillsdale, New Jersey.

Divorce Rate in America. DivorceRate, 12, Dec. 2010 Web.

Bellis MA, Hughes K, Hughes S, Ashton JR (September 2005). "Measuring paternal discrepancy and its public health consequences". J Epidemiol Community Health 59 (9): 749–54

"Global Summary 2008 ", Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Wholesale Chronicles: A Day in the Life

Daily Minutes for 9/8/09

The following is an account of a typical day at work. The only thing extraordinary about today is that the office fantasy football draft is being held after work. I began taking notes of the events that occurred on my side of the office at roughly 8 am, ending at roughly 5 pm. All events are accurate, nothing is fabricated. The names of my co-workers have been changed. Any substantial gap in time can be attributed to me helping the counter and otherwise missing the opportunity to take notes.

The Players

Fuckface: Operations Manger/One of my bosses

FA (Functioning Alcoholic): Purchasing Manager

P.O.S (Piece o’ Shit) : Head waterworks salesman

Will: morbidly obese commercial estimator

Saul: Credit Manager

Shelly (male): Head plumbing salesman

Bill (female): Plumbing sales

Z (female): Middle aged receptionist

HeHe: Warehouse manger

Hetero Life Mate & J-Bone: Counter associates

Blinky: One-eyed receiving clerk

Itty Bitty: Branch Manger/Top boss

Pickles: Outside plumbing sales

8:01 – P.O.S. tells yet another story that is in no way, shape or form funny.

8:03 – story ends.

8:08 – Saul discusses fantasy draft with FA.

8:10 – conversation ends.

8:19 – help old guy from compass health

8:22 – finish with compass health

8:32 - return to desk

8:33- P.O.S. talks to HeHe about fantasy draft

8:34: P.O.S. takes sales call.

8:45 – Make fun of J-Bone to his face, speaking in his deaf ear.

8:53 – discuss management’s lack of intelligence with Hetero Life Mate

9:25 – Inform Fuckface of the new BCS standings

9:25 (30 seconds later) – Fuckface informs FA of the new BCS standings, without looking at them online yet.

9:44 – Fuckface and FA discuss fantasy draft. Order Saul to procure libations for draft tonight.

9:49 – Will arrives

9:51 – Will takes customer call. Likens current President to Adolph Hitler.

10:15 – Will purchases a bag of cheetos from the vending machine.

10:28 – Fuckface discusses fantasy draft with FA. “I’m nervous, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

10:29 - Will shows signs of weariness

10:29 – Fuckface discusses fantasy draft with P.O.S..

10:31 – FA joins discussion

10: 34 – P.O.S.’s voice elevates to inappropriate volume.

10:36 – FA shows other participants his excel spreadsheets ranking his potential fantasy draft picks.

10:40 - Conversation ends.

10:40 – Will continues to eat his cheetos.

10:46 – Fuckface and HeHe discuss fantasy draft.

10:48 – conversation ends

10:49 – Fuckface discusses fantasy draft with Shelly.

10:54 – P.O.S. claims that every customer that he deals with is a “fucking retard.” Continues to use expletives to describe recent call he just took.

10:56 – Draft discussion between Fuckface & Shelly ends.

10:57 – Shelly bashes current online ordering system that we have made $57,000 through in the first 7 days of September.

11:35 – Fuckface says I look like an idiot.

12:29 – Will buys another bag of cheetos

12:47 – Lunch

1:14 – Return from lunch

2:10 – Request from Itty Bitty for safety presentation/catalog

2:11 – Itty Bitty demands item for safety catalog that we do not stock nor even have code for.

2:43 – Itty Bitty indirectly states that my facial hair looks shitty and needs to be removed.

I state that after a while, he won’t even see the facial hair. He doesn’t get it.

2:44 – Itty Bitty requests more products for safety catalog. Brushes off my inquiries as to whether or not we are operating under supply side economics. Fairly certain he does not know what that means.

2:46 – Receive email from Saul requesting info on an issue that was solved two weeks ago regarding a Bakersfield customer

2:50 – Find out that one of the products requested is actually in the catalog, Itty Bitty does not know this, due to the fact that as the branch manager, he does not know the product.

2:55 – Indicate to Saul that neither he nor I possess special education teaching credentials, which might explain we are having difficulty illustrating to the customer that he may, in fact, be retarded and that the issue in question has been solved.

3:01 – Conversation ends.

3:05 – College football discussion involving everyone.

3:12 – discussion ends

3:15 – Fuckface puts on fantasy champion belt and wears it around the office.

3:19 – Pickles calls. Wants info on a previous order that he fucked up.

3:21 – Pickles calls again. Wants customers phone number I do not have.

3:26 – Attempt to sneak up on Blinky. Unsuccessful.

3:27 – Hetero Life Mate and I discuss the shortcomings of Tecate beer.

3:33- Itty Bitty bugs me about the safety catalog again.

3:38 – Check to see if Will has fallen asleep.

3:41 – Will falls asleep.

3:42 – Call Bakersfield to see if they can bring a transfer over, then give to Fuckface to bring to here from Paso. Fuckface yells “You didn’t ask me motherfucker!”

3:43 – Will falls asleep again.

3:52 – Instant message FA to tell him Will passed out.

3:53 – Bill comes in and starts to tell FA a story, but starts the story at the end, saying “And the moral of the story is….”

3:53 – FA has a look of confusion on his face.

3:55 – conversation ends. It is deduced that Bill has nobody at work she can relate to and is forced to find an outlet for her stories wherever she can.

3:57 – Discuss with FA and Fuckface if there is a way we can simulate an earthquake to scare the piss out of Will while he’s sleeping.

3:58 – Hetero Life Mate leaves. Head to the counter to help J-Bone for the rest of the day.

4:35 – I encourage J-Bone to engage in a three or foursome with his ex-girlfriend, another girl friend, and his fiancĂ©. Unbeknownst to me, Z is standing right behind me.