Today is 3 days until Christmas. Today, like many other days, I passed by a UPS man delivering packages. But unlike other days, this UPS man was an older gentleman with white hair, a long white beard, and what appeared to be a bowl full of jelly. I did not meet this man, but here is the conversation we had while standing next to his big brown truck.
ME: Ho ho ho there.
ME: That’s a nice “outfit” you’re wearing.
UPS: It’s my uniform. You know – what can brown do for you?
ME: Well we both know that brown isn’t really your color. You’d probably be more comfortable in something red.
UPS: I’m pretty sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.
ME: Sure you don’t…Santa.
UPS: It’s Sam actually. Says so right on the name tag.
ME: Riiiight. Sam. Samta. Santa. I get it. You can’t fool me. You’ve got the beard, the glasses, and the iconic stomach region. So what gives? Are you trying to find out who’s naughty and nice? Are you checking your list a second time perhaps?
UPS: Look buddy – you may think I look like Santa Clause, but I assure you that I am not. I’m Jewish actually.
ME: Oh I know what you’re doing. You’re getting a little head start. You’re delivering some packages before Christmas Eve so that you don’t have to hit every house in one night. I bet the steadily increasing world population is really making things difficult for you up there.
UPS: You got me. I’ve put too many miles on old Comet and Blitzen. I had to take them out behind the candy cane shed and put them out of their misery. Then I traded the sled in for this truck.
ME: Dear god.
UPS: I’m joking you idiot. My name is Sam. I celebrate Hanukkah. I’m not Kris Kringle or Saint Nick or any other name you want to call me. I am a UPS deliveryman.
ME: Well then what’s with the beard? I can’t be the first person who’s made the Santa Claus connection.
UPS: Well you are the only one over the age of 5 who actually believed it. Most adults just make the joke and move on. But now, I’m thinking I may just shave this thing off next December.
ME: No don’t do that. It’s a glorious beard. I’m rather jealous actually. I’ve been growing my beard for a few months now and …
UPS: Good god man, that’s a beard?! It’s like a 5 o’clock shadow on a pre-pubescent 14 year old. And a patchy one at that.
ME: I’m not going to lie. That hurt. Although you were always kind of dick to Rudolph, so I’m not really surprised.
UPS: Sorry. That wasn’t exactly in the holiday spirit.
ME: It’s ok Sam. So you think you could maybe put some Rogaine in my stocking this year to help the beard along a little?
UPS: I don’t see why not. I’ll have the elves whip up a batch tonight when I get back.
ME: I knew it!
UPS: Oh fiddlesticks! You got me. Merry Christmas Craig.
ME: Merry Everything Santa.
I went to The Future a few nights ago (unfortunately I am not talking about time travel). The Future is an excellent movie written, directed by, and starring Miranda July. At one point during the movie after a particularly funny moment, I glanced out at the rest of the audience, only to find the man next to me dozing off. I did not meet this man, but here is the conversation we had while whispering in the movie theater after I nudged him awake.
ME: You’re sleeping.
SLEEPER: Not anymore I’m not. Was I snoring?
SLEEPER: Then why did you wake me up?
ME: You’re missing the movie. And it’s really good. So I figured I’d help you out. Why do I get the feeling I’m not helping you out?
SLEEPER: Because I want to be sleeping. I’m exhausted. I come to the theater specifically to sleep. I can’t sleep anywhere else.
ME: Is this a “my wife and kids will be the death of me” kind of thing?
SLEEPER: No I’m single. I just have this thing where I can’t sleep at home in a bed. I can only fall asleep in public places surrounded by lots of people. Movie theaters seem to be the best. Probably has something to do with the darkness and the smell of popcorn.
ME: But it’s so loud and extremely flashy and bright.
SLEEPER: That’s why I usually stick to the indie movies. Summers are tough with all the blockbusters. Too many explosions. It’s hard to sleep through something like Green Lantern. Especially with all the people walking out and constantly stepping on your toes.
ME: Plus the indie flicks usually have soothing pleasant music.
ME: Where else do you like to sleep?
SLEEPER: Besides the movies? Concerts are ok. Especially for stoner jam bands in larger venues. I’ll sit on the bench in the mall and sleep. But the security guards like to assert their ridiculous power. I’ve also been known to catch a few winks on the subway.
ME: Everyone sleeps on the subway
SLEEPER: Not standing up they don’t
ME: You can sleep standing up on a train.
SLEEPER: And I don’t even have to hold on to anything.
ME: No way in hell. I have got to see this.
SLEEPER: Well shut up and let me finish sleeping here. Then when the movies over you can follow me home on the subway. I need someone to wake me up at my stop anyway.
ME: Deal. Can I get you a blanket or something?
SLEEPER: If you’re not using your sweatshirt, that would be lovely.
As I entered the restroom at work on one of my frequent trips throughout the day, I heard an unfamiliar noise coming from one of the stalls. Someone was clearly playing a video game on their phone as they conducted their business. The unusual part was that he had the volume turned up to an abnormally high level for a public setting such as this. I did not meet this man, but here is the conversation we had while never laying eyes on one another.
ME: Sooo uh what are you playing in there? Sounds kinda like Super Mario Bros.
GAMER: Good ear. Yea I’ve got this great emulator on my phone.
ME: Don’t you feel like the volume is a little loud? I know this isn’t the library but there is usually some sense of keeping it on the quiet side in the restroom.
GAMER: Why is that? Like you said, this isn’t the library. It’s certainly not church. Why does everyone always speak in hushed tones?
ME: I think it’s because of the tile. The acoustics in hear amplify everything. Sound bounces everywhere. That and the fact that many unspeakable things happen behind these doors. Also, no eye contact should ever be made in here.
GAMER: We are a squeamish culture when it comes to matters of the intestines.
ME: Let me ask you this – would you take a phone call while sitting on the toilet?
GAMER: My toilet at home? Yes for certain people. A public toilet? Never.
ME: Thank goodness you said that.
GAMER: What am I a barbarian? Playing Super Mario Bros. with the sound up while on the bowl is one thing. The music and sound effects are critical to playing the game properly. Taking a phone call is just disrespectful to the other person on the phone and the other people in the bathroom.
ME: You know what’s strange – I just got a little angry that you called it a bathroom. When there is clearly no bathing that takes place here. But then again, there is no rest that takes place in this restroom either. Sure you can sit, but that is hardly resting.
GAMER: Would you prefer the term water closet?
ME: If I were European I would.
GAMER: Well you’re-a-peein’ in here aren’t you.
ME: (hearty laughter) Ahhh classic joke. Can I ask you one more question? I realized that you were in the handicap stall. Clearly the handicap stall is the superior stall - there’s more room and there are those nifty handles for balancing. But don’t you ever feel guilty taking the handicap stall if the regular stall is open? Like what if a handicapable person comes in and you’re occupying his stall? I never take the handicap stall if the other is open even though I always want to.
GAMER: I never thought about that.
ME: I have an abnormally guilty conscience.
GAMER: That’s no good for the intestines. Too much stress.
ME: I’m trying to get past it. By the way, I’m circulating a petition that will require all public restrooms, by law, to have OCCUPIED and VACANT signs on the outside of the door and/or stall. It’s time we put an end to accidental walk-ins. Would you be willing to sign it?
GAMER: Just slide it under the door.
Several days ago, I saw a woman on the street who I immediately recognized. On second glance, she appeared to be approximately 20 years older then the person I thought she was initially. However, I still believe that this woman was indeed my friend Erin Foye – ONLY SHE WAS FROM THE FUTURE. I did not meet this woman that day, but here is the conversation we had on the sidewalk in the year 2011.
ME: When are you from?
ERIN: Did you say “when”?
ME: I know who you are. I know you’re Erin Foye. And I know that you’ve come from the future. My guess is probably 2025.
ERIN: How did you know? It’s good to see you Craig. And actually I’m back from 2037.
ME: Really!? My goodness you’ve aged extremely well.
ERIN: Thanks. I’d like to say it’s all natural but there have been some wondrous medical advancements in anti-aging technology. Not plastic surgery or anything. More like sleeping in hyperbaric chambers and things like that.
ME: So I have to ask… phone booth or Delorean?
ERIN: I’m really not at liberty to discuss the method by which I’ve returned. But I’m 88% sure you already know the answer.
ME: That’s heavy. So is the future really, you know…futuristic?
ERIN: Well it is the future.
ME: I mean with all the gadgets, flying cars, hoverboards, and microchips implanted in our brains. Or is it more of dystopian post-apocalyptic nuclear fallout vibe?
ERIN: Neither actually. Sci-fi movies of the past presented a very narrow all-or-nothing outlook for our society. When in fact, the reality lands somewhere in the middle. We continued to destroy certain regions and aspects of our world but we’ve been able to advance others and maintain a reasonably safe and sustainable future.
ME: That sounds like an incredibly boring movie.
ERIN: Although I suppose it was rather unexpected when we were invaded and conquered by our then friendly neighbors to the north.
ME: We were conquered by Canada? But they’re so nice.
ERIN: You could say they killed us with kindness. But more accurately with nuclear weapons.
ME: So what are you doing here? Are you warning Erin about something? Are you here to kill someone? Can I help?
ERIN: Are you asking if you can help me kill someone?
ME: I’m not saying I would, but if you had a good reason I might be willing to get my hands dirty. Honestly, who hasn’t fantasized about trying to get away with murder? Wait – are you here to tell me something about my future? Do I get caught trying to murder someone?
ERIN: You’re kinda freaking me out.
ME: Sorry. Sorry. The whole time travel thing is messing with my head.
ERIN: Put your mind at ease. You have nothing to worry about. This is actually more of a vacation for me then it is a mission to save all of humanity.
ME: I suppose that should be a relief. But I have to admit it’s kind of disappointing.
ERIN: Sorry the future isn’t as exciting as you had hoped. But hey - we’re still friends. We’re actually grabbing dinner together next week…in 2037 I mean. There’s this new great maple syrup restaurant that just opened up.
ME: Oh Canada.
Starbucks was giving away free samples of their new pastry confections today. I got uncharacteristically excited about this proposition, as I often restrain myself from ordering their goodies. The man in front of me in line did not share in my anticipatory hunger. When asked if he would like a free sample, he simply refused without a second of thought. I did not meet this man, but here is the conversation we had while waiting for our drinks at Starbucks.
ME: Did you just say no to a free sample of a lemon bar?
SB PATRON: Yes. Yes I did.
ME: Can I have your free sample?
(Starbucks employee glares at me)
SB PATRON: I don’t think it works that way.
ME: Do you have some kind of dietary restriction? Allergies? Diabetes? Veganism?
SB PATRON: No. I just don’t believe that anything is life is free. If I take a free sample then the universe will make me pay it back at some other time and in some other way. Owing the universe is not a position I particularly care to be in.
ME: Well what if the universe currently owes you and is attempting to pay you back with a lemon bar sample? Yet you are refusing to accept payment for the debt owed you. What do you think of that?
SB PATRON: It’s possible but not probable. If that is indeed the case then I am simply choosing not to accept the lemon bar sample as payment. I consider the lemon bar the way most establishments consider the Discover card.
ME: When I worked at Sam’s Club we did accept the Discover card. We surprisingly and controversially did not accept Visa. Do you know what else I accepted that summer?
SB PATRON: What’s that?
ME: Lots and lots of free food samples. But you couldn’t eat while you were on the clock. So at lunchtime we would take off our vests and feast on various Swedish meatballs and pizza bagel bites.
SB PATRON: You must have owed the universe quite a bit after that summer.
ME: I was working at Sam’s Club selling 20gallon tubs of mayo. The universe owed me.
SB PATRON: Well I better get back to work. Can’t be late.
ME: Wait – one more Sam’s Club anecdote related to what you just said. A friend of mine who was working with me that summer once showed up late to his 2pm shift because he overslept. He was so lazy he couldn’t wake up in time for an afternoon shift!
SB PATRON: What happened to him?
ME: They put him on cart duty the rest of the day. Everyone hated cart duty. It was like 100 degrees out there. Although I think he ended up taking a nap in his car.
SB PATRON: Sounds like he was overdrawn on his universe account.ME: Is there a website where I can look up my balance
I recently moved into a new apartment. It’s the corner unit, which means the view from most of the windows is great. The guest room however looks directly into the neighboring building which is approximately 25 feet away. Whenever I enter the guest room I am very conscious of the potential of someone being on the other side of the window looking at me. I did not meet my neighbor, but here is the conversation we had through our open windows.
ME: Ahoy there neighborino.
ME: Ahoy there neighborino.
NEIGHBOR: Oh hello. You just moved in right?
ME: Yes. About 3 weeks ago. You noticed? Very observant.
NEIGHBOR: Well there was no movement over there for a few months. So once we saw your peering eyes staring at us every morning, we kind of figured it out.
ME: Peering eyes? No. I may have accidentally glanced in the general direction of your windows once or twice, but never ever did I stare and try to see anything.
NEIGHBOR: What did I have for dinner last night?
ME: I believe it was meatloaf with broccolini in a light beurre blanc
NEIGHBOR: Exactly. Hey look – it comes with the territory. Don’t think I haven’t sneaked a peak or two at you in the morning. So your wife got the closet in the master bedroom huh?
ME: Yes. Yes she did. So you’ve seen me…in the morning…getting ready...at my closet…in my towel…and not in my towel.
NEIGHBOR: I have. Even broke out the binoculars once or twice.
ME: Excuse me. Binoculars? What are you implying?
NEIGHBOR: No disrespect. I’m just checking out the goods.
ME: So you like what you see – wait -that’s not the point. No more peeking, especially with enhanced seeing devices. I promise not to look at your dinner and you promise not to look at my (gulp) goods.
NEIGHBOR: No can do. Neighbors have certainly inalienable rights. Peeping is one of them. I won’t make it obvious if that makes you feel better. Or you could always close the curtains.
ME: But the sun is so nice in the morning. It would really be a shame to shut out all that natural light. It feels lovely and warm on my body when I get out of the shower.
NEIGHBOR: Your choice.
ME: You just better hope I don’t break my leg at the same time you commit some kind of horrific murder. Because I will be camped out right here watching everything and anything you do. It’s actually kind of all I can think about since we’ve moved in here.
NEIGHBOR: I’ll be sure to remember that. Or I’ll just close my curtains.
ME: If you close yours then I’m closing mine.
NEIGHBOR: Let’s not be hasty now.
ME: OK. I’ll leave them open a crack.
When you are a member of a fitness center and use the locker room, you are bound to encounter a few naked bodies. It comes with the territory and is something you must fully accept. I myself have been naked in my fair share of locker rooms over the years. But every so often you come across someone who is too naked for too long. Today was one of those days. I did not meet this man, but here is the conversation we had in the locker room at the gym (For the record - I was wearing a towel).
ME: You’re still naked?!
ME: Sorry. I didn’t mean to say that out loud. It’s just that you were naked when I entered the locker room. I took a shower. Came back. And you’re still standing there naked with no signs of clothing anywhere.
NAKED: Well I don’t like to put my clothes on if I’m still even a little bit wet. It weirds me out and makes me uncomfortable for the entire day.
ME: I totally get that. But I saw you earlier do the whole towel behind the butt shimmy shake thing. Not that I was watching intentionally. It was just incredibly difficult not to look. There are really too many mirrors in this place now that I think about it.
NAKED: I can get about 90% dry with the towels here. But they’re not exceptionally absorbent. I don’t even think the cotton is Egyptian. So the last 10% has to come via air-dry. And that does take a while.
ME: Is Egyptian cotton really from Egypt? Do they grow it there or is that just some sort of marketing tool?
NAKED: I’m not sure if it is grown there. But I do believe Egypt manufactures it. It’s very hot in Egypt, so people sweat more. As a result, they have been at the forefront of absorbent textile innovations.
ME: Back to the naked thing. I say this being 98% comfortable with my sexuality and I mean no disrespect. You are not a terribly attractive man. Are you really comfortable hanging out completely nude for an extended period of time in a relatively public environment?
NAKED: In general, I am completely comfortable. My confidence wavers slightly when the locker room drops below a certain temperature. Let me ask you a question. Would you have said anything if I were an attractive man who was perhaps more well endowed?
ME: Interesting. Probably not. I might even sneak a few extra peeks.
NAKED: So you’re just a perv with standards.
ME: Whoa. Whoa. Let’s not start calling each other names “guy with the mole shaped like JFK”.
NAKED: I think I will go ahead and put my pants on now.
ME: I will do the same. Although I am still a little damp.