Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.


Don’t Eat the Lasagna
How do you know when the holiday season officially kicks off? Around here, it's when my little brother rings me up to tell me you can see a relative’s mugshot online.

See, our other brother got a hold of some of the many aliases used by this chick their uncle married (technically these two are my half-brothers, but seeing as we share a singular love for hijinx, not to mention a brain, we just dispense with the formalities). Anyway, she needs those because she's a professional con artist.

In the process of looking her up in the offender databases provided online by the Florida Department of Corrections, he found — well, he found what I found, that she has about 219 convictions for petty theft and bouncy checks, but in addition he found a great photo of the guy I'll call Cousin Barry.

Cousin Barry is a family favorite. By "favorite," of course, I mean everyone hates him. Picture a cross between late-period Paul Lynde at his ass-searingly fruitiest and Gary Busey at his most terrifyingly unpredictable. Dress him in the grisliest, most Jurassic leisure suits not expressly forbidden by international law and drape him in cheap jewelry, and imagine him smelling like gin and standing real, real close and wanting to "tickle" you. That's Cousin Barry.

Sounds bad, right? Really, though, all that alone wouldn't distinguish him overmuch in our family. No, Cousin Barry's obnoxiousness alone isn't what generates ill will. There are other reasons, such as his propensity for holiday nudity. How many Christmases were spoiled by a sauced-up Cousin Barry, displaying his 60-something-year-old ding-dong for all to see during his inevitable skinny-dip in my dad's pool? (The answer: all of them.)

But truth be told, while nobody was a big fan of Cousin Barry's annual "unwrapping of the gifts," it wasn't even his saggy moobs ("man" + "boobs") that earned him his rep as the must-avoid sociopath in an extended family of sociopaths. His cooking, for example, didn't help his case.

Ah, his cooking. I remember cakes so dense, small dishes of candy would get sucked into their gravitational fields. Icing studded with generous dollops of cigarette ash. A lasagna that included a layer of whole cloves. Not garlic cloves, mind you. Cloves. It was totally inedible. The dog wouldn't eat it. I'm not making this up. Just think about it: a "lasagna" that included a layer of whole cloves. Fear this lasagna.

But you know, even potentially dangerous culinary monstrosities don't clinch your persona non grata status at the Hughes house. Croaking a guy, however... Well, it's a bit much, even by our standards. But not Cousin Barry.

I do not know the details. I do not know the specifics. I do not know the method, though I suspect lasagna may have been involved. And I don't care to speculate. Don't ask. (He might hear you.) But Cousin Barry croaked a guy, back in the '50s. And he was sentenced to life. You don't get that shit for a little run-of-the-mill manslaughter or anything. First degree all the way for Cousin Barry.

Anyway, he was paroled when I was a kid and started showing up at Christmas, mincing around and making everyone uneasy and taking off his clothes and stuff. No killing, though. Not as far as we could tell.

I'm not sure when Cousin Barry started skipping the holiday gatherings at Pop's place. Probably when Dad told him to shut his damn mouth and Barry said something like, "Don't you tell me to shut my mouth. I can do things to you. I've done things you can't imagine." Not a smart move. Dad has at his disposal a daunting combination of red-faced Irish temper, an abnormally large dose of the fearsome Dad Strength and a general inclination toward all things whoop-ass. No geriatric Paul Lynde motherfucker can stand up to all that, murder-one rap sheet or not. So Cousin Barry doesn't come around any more.

But, thanks his disdain for reporting to his parole officer, a recent traffic stop and the efforts of my intrepid brethren, we can now visit him online. And let me tell you, the picture is good. It's so, so good. He looks crazy... So crazy. Cuh-raaay-ay-zy.

Nope, I'm not going to show it to you. It might be in the public domain and all that, but somehow I suspect Cousin Barry might not want this info spread around too much. And people I write about here have a weird way of turning up when I least expect it. You think I want Cousin Barry paying me a visit? Uh-uh. Get your own convicted murderer.



Girls Never Leave Messages On My Answering Machine (Except for My Crazy Mom)
"Pat, I'm getting into a yelling match with these... idiots. I can't remember the fuckin' names of the British Bulldogs, both of 'em. Please call me back on my phone and tell me, because it's VERY important. I know you know the names of the British Bulldogs. I can only get one, I can't get the other, and it's pissing me off so fucking bad. So give me a call on my phone, and tell me the names, and I'll rub it in their fuckin' faces... 'Cause they're claiming it's Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and fuckin' Bret Michaels, er, I mean Bret Hart... They're full of shit... Idiots. Okay, bye." — Sean Atwater, Friday, 9:49 P.M.

"U2. Why has no one told me about this band? I love 'em. I need to have 'em. I wonder if you have any CDs I could burn. If you do, that's great. If not, I guess you have no taste in music. I hope everything's going well. Monkey... Book. Man. I will kill you in your stomach." — Jim Marburger, Saturday, 6:21 P.M.

"Pat! Quit holdin' out, man! Do you not want the rest of the world to enjoy those U2 CDs as much as you do? I'll... I'lltrytocallyoubacklater." — Jim Marburger, Sunday, 2:09 P.M.



True Love? It Depends.
I had never really paid any attention to her. She was skinnier than I like 'em, and fucking wore these prepostrous overalls every day. But when I saw her blow a smoke ring out of the gap in her smile that formerly had hosted a tooth, I fell in love with her. A little, anyway.

She was smart, and she knew it. She was witty, and quick, and she didn't put up with any shit. And she told me she planned to get a diamond-studded gold tooth to fill in that gap. Yeah, it was love.

She had her share of negative qualities, too, of course. She was a graduate of Florida's New College, and shared the same unfounded elitism and sense of entitlement I've observed in everyone else who's ever set foot on that campus. Even more significant, though, was the fact she didn't love me back.

Oh, she liked me, I suppose. A stong like. Enough like to call me every day, but not enough to fuck me. I spent plenty of time with her, happy with what I could get. Which meant lots of great conversation, the occasional late-night adventure and a neverending stream of tiny, poignant heartbreaks, the kind that make your Joy Division and George Jones records sound that much sweeter. In this way it was pretty much exactly like the other 412,987 times I've found myself with a similar unrequited crush, and no doubt like all the others would've continued in the same vein until she moved out of town. Or I instigated a total emotional meltdown by trying to yank forth some kind of emotional commitment, or acknowledgement, or something, out of our cozy little limbo.

But it didn't play out like all the others, not this time.

We were at a party, standing in front of her apartment building. I was drunk. I was drunk a lot around this time — this all happened during Gin And Tonic Summer, a particularly successful binge undertaken by myself, Scott Adams and Todd. Gin And Tonic Summer featured plenty of good-natured mayhem involving firecrackers, 4 a.m. games of four-square and, of course, gallons of its namesake. In fact, Gin And Tonic Summer was such a success that it stretched well into winter. Hell, it might still be going on for all I know — go ask Todd.

Anyway, she had been out of town for a week or two. I was acting a bit aloof, little depth charges of sadness going off in my stomach every time the corner of my eye caught her laughing at some idiot dude's jokes. I think maybe I had just finished throwing a handful of bottle rockets into the mellow backyard bonfire, an immensely satisfying pastime I recommend to everyone.

I was fixin' to leave, and she sidled up to me and gave me a hug. "I missed you," she said. She was unusually subdued.

"I missed you too," I said.

She pulled my head down and whispered in my ear. "You don't understand," she said. "I really missed you. I thought about you every day. I needed to see you." And she kissed me, softly.

This is the only time in my life this has happened, where someone I loved but that didn't love me back changed their mind, even a little.

"Hey cocksucker! We're leaving! Are you getting in the car?" It was Todd, or maybe Scott.

She looked up at me, and, arms around my waist, held my gaze. Not saying a word.

"I, uh... I think I'm staying," I said. And I did.

Later we went up to her room. I kissed her for the first time there, while lying on her bed. She took off her shoes, and took off those damn overalls. She was wearing some kind of weird plastic diaper with a thick elastic waistband. Maybe a Depends? Were there some kind of... Circus animals on it? What the fuck?

She kept kissing me. I was distracted. Was that really her underwear? Was it some sort of cover that went over her regular underwear? Do those overalls chafe or something? Is it a joke? An affectation? Evidence of some sort of disease? What... The... FUCK?!

"Don't you want to take your shoes off?" she said.

"I... I... I think I have to go," I said.

She looked surprised. I split.

The next day Todd called and asked me what had happened. I told him I had left.

He was surprised too. "I thought you really liked her, dude," Todd said.

"I did, or do," I said. "Todd... You fucked her once. Was she wearing some kind of diaper?"


"Some kind of diaper. She took her pants off and had on some kind of weird Depends thing. I freaked out and split."

"She didn't have a diaper on when I fucked her! Are you sure you weren't just drunk?"

"Well... Yeah. Dude, I'm telling you she had on some kind of diaper." I remembered their slick, plastic texture, and being worried I'd take 'em off and find... Poop.

"You're fuckin' nuts. She didn't have on a diaper. You should've fucked her."

We finished our conversation, and I thought about what Todd said. Had I just thrown away a chance at being with someone I loved? For nothing? For some imaginary diaper? It had seemed so real. Maybe it was a manifestation of my fear of intimacy? And maybe if I really loved her the diaper shouldn't be a big deal. Sincere feelings should overcome a little petty incontinency, shouldn't they? Fuck. I screwed up.

I needed to find her. I needed to find her, and fix things. Tell her that, whatever was up with that diaper business, we could work it out. She meant too much to me.

I hopped on my bike and went to the Utility House, a well known punk-rock hangout. She was on the porch, drinking a quart of beer. I sat down next to her and cracked one open myself. The previous night was not acknowledged. People came and went, drinking and smoking and telling stories and laughing.

Eventually, there was a moment where we were alone. I leaned in and started to whisper an apology in her ear...

"Ew! Dude! Get off of me!" she shouted. "What's wrong with you?! Why are you being so gross and romantic?! Have you lost your mind?!"

Then she sneered, shook her head and took a swig from her beer.



This Is What It's Like Being Me
"Hey Pat, do you remember what happened when we made out that time?"
"Uhhh... Kinda."
"I had a big crush on you, and I was too young to drink, but I was nervous that we were hanging out so I drank a lot, and we were kissing in the front yard..."
"Oh yeah, yeah..."
"And right in the middle of us making out I had to stop."
"Uh oh."
"We were kissing, and I said, 'Stop, stop.' And I got sick, and I turned my head and threw up."
"Oh god... I totally remember that now."
"I was so embarassed. And then the next day I go into your record shop, and all your friends are there, and they see me walk in and they start laughing."
"Oh... Shit. I'm sorry."
"And I felt terrible, and they're laughing at me, and you just shrugged and said, 'This is what I do. I kiss girls, and they get sick and throw up.'"



Seriously. I'm in tears here. I don't know what the fuck is wrong with me.


"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule—and both commonly succeed, and are right." — H. L. Mencken

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