Workin' for the Man

Pandalike, I remain uninterested in much except rolling on my large furry back, grappling with my own feet, and gnawing on things. There existed a time when I modeled productivity by the American standard. Worked a brutal labor job that battered my feet into clubs, came home to the ol' lady and the kid, watched some Simpsons, created dark wet rings on the thigh of my work jeans with a can of Miller Lite, woke up the next day and did it all over.

During the day I worked like a one-legged gypsy.

My knees ached and popped, my elbows and forearms eternally brandished red scratches, and my sight and hearing declined a little more daily, while the measurement of my waist soared. I would soon have been a blind, deaf, lump of rashy, bruised tissue, that appeared each morning at a warehouse and left each night to drive home by sense of smell; working the steering wheel and pedals with pinkish nubs.

"Well, you've got forty years left," my dad said. "Get used to it." My cringe was so drastic it was audible.

According to the small town work ethic, I was to show up every day, lift with my knees bent, burn my ears in the sun, show loyalty to an owner who would not share his wealth with me even as I made it for him, until such time as I retired or died. At retirement age I was to be too old to dive from cliffs into sparkling Hawaiian waters, bicycle across the European countryside, or climb the temple steps in Luang Prabang Laos.

"That's just the way it is, son," my dad told me, with a light beer in his hand, and The Simpsons bleating on the TV behind him.

When I told him I was saving my money so I could quit my job and travel, his eyes and tone of voice registered panic. "What will you do? You have to have a job, son. You have to. That's just the way it is."

He retires in a month. When asked about what he'll do when he doesn't have to get up to go to work he replies, "You know, do some stuff around the house until the afternoon. Then I'll have a beer and watch some TV."

Thursday October 25 Super Why! PBS 9:00 a.m. What makes sugar stick together until it's a cube? Any liquid sticking agent would dissolve the sugar. You could use a rubbery adhesive perhaps, like the little lines of glue on the back of a TV Guide address label. But sugar doesn't come with those little lines of glue on them, that'd be weird, and besides, those gluey things taste funny. They look like clear gummi worms, but sister, they ain't.

Sesame Street PBS 10:00 a.m. I'd love to get my hands on the Barney costume. I'll bet it smells like an old man's crotch on an August Sunday in Albuquerque. I could use it to trap the screaming kids in my neighborhood. All I'd need are some nachos for bait, then I could tie them up and hang them on a street lamp. Ha ha! Kick and scream now, you little SOBs! I'll bet your noses are right in the butt of that thing.

Friday October 26 Fooled by Nature Animal Planet 7:00 p.m. I've covered everything in my house with a layer of Scotch tape. Everything. All the countertops, the coffee maker, the jackalope, all the furniture, GI Joes, Tonka trucks, dinosaurs, mirrors, floors, everything. I'm going to leave it like that until spring, when I cut everything out, and scatter the husks around my neighborhood so it looks like my possessions molted and crept off, having pupated all winter and grown too large for their old skins.

Saturday October 27 Bermuda Triangle: Lost at Sea Travel Channel 8:00 p.m. Next time I go to the beach I'm going to bring a wheelbarrow full of fake legs. Not mannequin legs, but the prosthetic kind that are the approximate color of no one's skin. I'm going to dump them in the surf and tell people that a pirate ship must've sunk and these are the only remains. When they ask why the legs aren't wooden pegs I'll say, "C'mon, you think pirates really have peg legs? Damn, you're gullible."

Don't Look Under the Bed Disney 9:00 p.m. My girlfriend's dog is epileptic, nearsighted, and smells like week-old sheep cheese. I try to put the moves on the girl and the dog bumps into things around the house and the smell of it gets worse when it comes into the room and then it sees fit to have a seizure and the mood is wholly blown, because you can't make out when a stinky mutt is shaking and peeing itself right there in front of the TV. But even that's better than this show.

Sunday October 28 The Salt 'N Pepa Show VH1 10:30 p.m. Week Old Sheep Cheese is the name of my new theoretical band, by the way. We haven't had time to write any music, or for that matter, learn to play instruments. And really there's only one member, me. But I have the name of our first hit single, it's called "Momjean Waltz" from our album, Doberman Pinschers and Heart Strings . We're so Emo.

Monday October 29 Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Travel Channel 10:00 p.m. I don't understand soup. It's a perfectly good meal, only wet. I don't know why someone would look at a counter full of meat, pasta, and salad and say, "You know what'd really set this off? If it were cut up into little bits and submerged." Soup is stupid. Stupid soup.

Tuesday October 30 Good Morning America ABC 7:00 a.m. Vacuums make me sleepy. Even if I am the one operating the device. Cleaning my apartment is an exercise in controlling narcolepsy. I chewed through the power cord, so before I nod off I lick the exposed wiring and I get a little HI, HOW'S IT GOING! HOW ABOUT A SOCK IN THE LIPS? so I can finish the job.

Wednesday October 31 CSI: Miami A&E 7:00 p.m. The show I'm waiting for is CSI: Smurf Village. Although because they are, I assume, bloodless and semenless creatures, I'm not sure how the offending criminals could be tracked down. Perhaps there is some other substance, let's call it "smurf," which could leave us clues. "Did you smurf the smurf spatter on that hallway mirror? You know what that means. This is a repeat smurfer. This one goes to Smurficide Division."

Thursday October 32 (Yes, I know it's November 1st. I think this is funnier.) Good Eats Food 8:00 p.m. There are a great many things in life I will never be able to do. Dunk a basketball is one. Just off the top of my head, which hovers around five feet and six inches. Number two is host a cooking show. My sixth grade sense of humor wouldn't allow me to make it through a show that required the repeating of the words, bone, meat, and pork. Heh. Pork.

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