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


Douchebaggery Through the Ages — A Life in Stupid Pictures

such promise
You'd never guess it, but I actually showed a lot of promise the first few years after I was hatched. For example, you can see from my pudgy Aryan glory here that up until the devil got into me I was mysteriously blonde, healthy and happy. I got me a zippy Speed Racer sort of sweater on, and while I don't really recommend pairing long sleeves with short pants my get-up at least seems free from grime, stains and tears. And that football? Man! Sports! Talk about your wholly misguided parental optimism.

It wasn't long before the real me emerged, though, in all my creepy and possibly homosexual glory. It was right around this time I decided I would devote myself to emulating Paul Lynde. I'll let you know how it works out.

This isn't too bad. The whole vampire cowboy thing could have been pulled off a little better without the Down Syndrome haircut, but you gotta work with what you got.

Here's Dad, contemplating the possibility someone switched out his blonde sporty football kid with an evil gay Paul Lynde homonculous somewhere along the way. I imagine he finds the thought comforting, probably to this day.

"This is the kind of bed the astronaut's sleep in," they'd say. I'd slip into dreamland seconds after hearing the click of the padlock.

melting man
When I was a kid, there was a company called Imagineering that did a pretty good job of creating products that more or less mapped out the inside of my head. Here I'm sporting their Melting Man kit, a tie-in with a popular movie from the era that featured a protagonist who goes around eating people and, uh, melting, something I thought was just grand. "Perhaps if the Paul Lynde thing doesn't work out I can be the Melting Man when I grow up," I'd say to myself. Mom made me take off the makeup after a couple of months, though.

googly eyes
I'd carry around the leftover googly eyes and fangs everywhere I went. My idea of a perfect day would be to just ride around in the passenger seat of a car with that shit on and stare at people at stoplights, something I did well into my twenties. Oh, that lady on the left? She hated black people.

I'm still not sure how I didn't end up a serial killer.

Or gay. Look at that robe! I mean, it was for a school play and all, but, frankly, I would've happily just walked around in that thing year-round, oblivious to the heckles and catcalls of society and casting little gay spells in my head all the live-long day.

"Why hello there, sailor. Fancy a game of footsy?"

death 2
Because it's how I felt on the inside, damn it.

mister bill
I lied to Mom about the date for school pictures so I could get 'em taken with my favorite shirt, not hers. Look closely and you can see where the print is damaged, at the top of that first O. I was a little excited that morning and wanted to iron it, so I'd look my best.

Oh, I should point out that I hadn't actually seen Mister Bill at that point, despite wearing his shirt at least four times a week. I knew from reading Rolling Stone that he was a character on Saturday Night Live, a show the magazine assured me had a rebellious, counter-culture rock 'n' roll edge. Plus his clips always ended up with him all mashed and on fire and stuff. That was all pretty much good enough for me.

Oh! And also check out my pinkie. Weird!

gay shirt
So I was going through all these photos at my crazy Mom's house a week or two ago, and at one point I was like, "Mom, holy shit, look at me. I'm gay. Totally gay, all these years, and I never knew it."

"What?! Are you really?! Are you gay?! Please don't tell me you're gay," she said, edging toward hysteria.

"Ma, you can't get upset by that," I said. "You're a lesbian. It's not logical."

"Well, are you or aren't you?" she said. "Because my friends ask me all the time."

Ha ha, we got to pretend she has friends.

A glimpse at the New Wave Years. You can see here how the family continued the tradition of torturing children with terrible outfits. They've got poor Neil tricked out like a fucking Batman villain.

bow tie
I, uhhh... I... I... Sorry, Dad.



Hey Look, I Sat in Some Gum!
I have this friend, OK, and I’m going to call him Anatol. Because that’s his name.

Anatol doesn’t drink, or didn’t use to, and for a while lived with all those sober fried-poo guys in Dick House. Anatol’s also, like, a genius. A bona-fide smart guy with a Ph.D. in physics to prove it. For all his fancy book-learnin’, though, Anatol hasn’t always made such wise choices when deciding how to use his penis.

Taken as detail, the Ph.D.-penis dichotomy is a mystery, to be sure, but then Anatol himself is a bit of an enigma. For example, the man is a shambles. He has remarkably shapely calves, but aside from that is just sort of doughy and nondescript in a poorly groomed kind of way. Personal style? He looks like he fell asleep in a pile of someone else’s clothes and left the house that morning just wearing whatever stuck to him. Hair-doo? That same low-maintenance cut they give to small children, people fresh off the boat from China and folks with Down Syndrome. Yet Anatol always dated extremely attractive young women, smart and fit and well dressed to the last, and eventually even married one. Her name’s Jill. I’m still a little pissed off about it. She’s even Asian! Or, uh, half Asian! Or something!

Several years ago I was dog-sitting for this guy who — well, let’s just say the guy was a douche, and the way he conducted himself lent a lot of weight to my friend Kyle’s credo Don’t Trust Anyone Who Uses an Initial in Place of a Proper First Name. (And the first initial followed by full use of the middle name doesn’t exempt anybody. Hell, Kyle’s first name is Buddy, but he just goes by Kyle, not B. Kyle or something equally douchey.)

This guy with the dog and the initial was always getting fucked up on cocaine and testing me, acting all tough and trying to start a fight, even though he was reedy and sallow-chested and any normal well-fed American man could’ve broken him in two with half an ass cheek. I wanted nothing more than to use this fellow to test my theory that punching someone really, really hard on the balls can potentially flip their breaker switch, ideally resetting their personality to something more manageable. Despite this urge, I had to be nice to him, because he was a powerful wizard who kept my soul in an enchanted jar he was an editor at a magazine where I worked and I needed the dough. I liked that dog of his pretty well, too.

One morning D. Ouchebag was out of town, and I was staying at his apartment, passive-aggressively blasting the air conditioning and leaving all the lights on while taking care of that dog. That dog needed a lot of attention, because Editor Boy was in the process of switching his personality from coked-up unconvincing wangsta dude to hippied-up unconvincing deeply spiritual dude without the assistance of a ball-punch, and he insisted on taking the poor beast to this holistic fuckin’ shaman instead of a real veterinarian. This medicine man was all like, “Ooh, look at me, I’m mystical, I think western culture is bad,” and he wouldn’t give the dog antibiotics, even after he performed some kind of ball surgery on him, so of course the dog developed an infection in his ball-sack and would mope around dripping blood and pus out of his balls and dick and I’d have to wipe that shit up and feed the dog, like, a special root. I saved a small vial of that disgusting infected ball juice and if I ever run across that magical quack I’m going to put him in a headlock and make him drink it.

Anyway, it was early in the morning and I fed the dog his phony-ass holistic ball root and took him for his morning walk. I left my glasses behind in the apartment, because I was half asleep and didn’t think about it, and also because I didn’t like seeing all that dog doo in crystalline detail, but while walking along I nevertheless managed to spot an attractive female a few streets away. I could only make out her general shape, but even with poor eyesight I knew she was fine. A minute or two of squinting and I also noticed she was holding hands with some terrible looking blob. “Jesus, look at that fat bastard,” I thought. “How does a heap like him score a girl like that?! What’s his secret? He doesn’t even have a good haircut.”

I walked another block or so toward them, the whole time thinking, “I’m a shambles, but I’m only half the shambles that guy is, and my weiner’s been as dry as the Sahara for months! I should kick his ass, just for having the temerity to date so far above his station, not to mention going all public with it and rubbing it in my face.”

A half block closer and the couple waved and called out my name. It was Anatol and Jill, of course. “Hey guys,” I said, all cheerful. “What’s up!” In my brain, though, I was like, “I should kill him. Or at least get shapely calf implants. Maybe both?”

God, you know, I lived with Anatol for a while, and it was amazing. I swear his room was decorated by a hobo, socks and garbage everywhere. And he didn’t have a cover or sheet or anything on his dirty futon, which subsequently was so covered in skeet marks it looked like someone hid behind it during a doughnut fight. No pillowcase, either, and his one pillow was all threadbare and ratty and dark with head-grease in the indention where your head goes and it smelled like rancid hair from several feet away, ugh. Disgusting! No shortage of slender, bright-eyed young ladies lured in by Anatol’s calves to wallow in all that filth, of course, humping around and making noise while in the next room it was just a 200-pound, wood-paneled VCR from 1978 that runs on steam and a fourth-generation tape of Young Lady Chatterly keeping me and my dusty ol’ dry-ass penis company.

It was during this era that I first witnessed Anatol — remember, a guy with a Ph.D. in physics — do something really fuckin’ stupid with his man-bits.

Many moons ago on this site I mentioned a maneuver called the Minnesota wristwatch in passing, and a lot of people were confused. They had never heard of the Minnesota wristwatch, and were curious about its configuration and purpose. Well, the Minnesota wristwatch is, at its core, simply one of the many things you can do with your penis to make other people deeply unhappy.

Somehow, in my life, and God knows how, really, I’ve become acquainted with a number of these disagreeable exercises. For years, at least in my social circles, it was common on festive occasions for someone at some point in the evening to simply pull their scrotum through their fly and start bellowing, “I SAT IN SOME GUM! I SAT IN SOME GUM!” And lo, the hilarity would never fail to doth commence, I swear.

In my occasional sober moments, though, I wondered about the arrangement of I SAT IN SOME GUM. While certainly funny, it didn’t seem conceptually sound. I mean, I understood that the pink, wrinkly skin of the scrotum symbolized a wad of used chewing gum, of course, but how did it get to the lap area? Was the gum supposed to have been placed on the underside of a desk or table? Was the initiator of I SAT IN SOME GUM using the gum chair in some novel lap-oriented way? Did they encounter a wad so mighty that it smooshed up through the taint area and into the frontal crotch region? I’d mull over this shit for hours.

Years later, I witnessed a more methodical prankster bust out with the move in a way that made it all come together. See, you’re supposed to take out the scrotum while sitting, then — this is key — pin it to the seat of your chair with your thumb. Taking advantage of natural ball-sack elasticity, you then rise to a half crouch and exclaim, “I think I sat in some gum!” Voila! Everyone will look at your awful stretchy balls and be bummed, filling your heart with pure whirling smiles of delight. When I finally saw this feat performed by a qualified professional it resolved years of questioning for me. How this trick degenerated among my friends to simply pulling out your balls and hollering is a mystery, but I’m sure there’s a sad commentary on the state of society in there somewhere.

But the Minnesota wristwatch operates on the same basic premise. First of all, though, Minnesota doesn’t have anything to do with it. It’s just an arbitrary kind of appellation, something to divert the attention of your potential victim. I like the rhythms of “Minnesota” and feel a regional prefix adds zest and hearkens back to a time before the homogenization of American culture, when different areas of the country still had their own distinctive cultural flavors. Some, however, prefer a textile approach, and favor the title “snakeskin wristwatch.” The important thing here is just to distract the section of the brain in the hapless recipient that’s always on the lookout for intrusive penises or balls.

The first step in physically performing the Minnesota wristwatch is to extract the penis through the fly hole with the right hand. Next, firmly grasp the mushroom head between thumb and forefinger while moving the left arm toward the crotch, keeping it low. The left wrist should be held against the body, palm down, as close to the fly as possible. Using the dickhead for guidance, you next wrap the penis, moving from right to left across the back of the left wrist. Performed correctly, the veiny and unpleasant shaft will stretch across the outside of the wrist, presenting a smooth expanse of weiner tissue to any unfortunate onlookers.

To complete the trick, you carefully — very carefully, you’re not going to be too mobile here — sidle up to someone you want to freak out and say, “Hey, have you seen my new Minnesota wristwatch?”

The great thing about this gag is that children enjoy it so it’s difficult to discern the exact nature of the strange, fleshy mass on first glance. Inevitably, the recipient of the Minnesota wristwatch will spend seconds, minutes or even hours staring at it, trying to figure it all out: If it was really a wristwatch it would have a dial, a digital readout… It’s bizarre looking, yet somehow familiar… Perhaps a little too organic… Is that suede? Leather? Say, why is he holding his arms in such a weird way, so low and close to his crotch and aaaaAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH NOOOOOO

The victim, having necessarily stared at the ghastly thing for longer than anyone would want to while working through the clever wristwatch disguise, will have had a good dose of weiner molecules fly right into their eye by the time they figure it out, significantly intensifying their shame and disgust. Self-immolation or seppuku are frequent reactions, and if you love pranks and lively hijinx that’s really about the highest praise you can get.

So one time Anatol and the other roommates were clustered on a couch, watching TV, and I crab-walked in and pulled the Minnesota wristwatch. Everyone was grossed out for about four seconds before getting re-hypnotized by the TV (they were also generally blasé about things most respectable members of society find repellant), except for Anatol. It was his first encounter with the trick.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “How do you do it?”

“Just wrap it, dude,” I said.

“But… How? I don’t think I could do it. You must be very well endowed.”

“Yes, my whole family’s very proud.”

“I have to try this,” Anatol said, and went into the hall. For the next few minutes we could hear him out there, making strange grunting noises.

“I can’t do it!” Anatol yelled.

“Keep trying!” We didn’t want to discourage him.

“It hurts!”

“Stretch it!”

Anatol yelled, obviously in legitimate pain. “It’s not working!”

“I gotta go see what he’s doing,” I thought, and joined Anatol in the hall. Turns out Mr. Ph.D. had overlooked the obvious and was trying to wrap his scrotum and balls around his wrist instead of his penis. Jesus. I wince just thinking about it.

Even that remarkable lapse of good judgment was but a warm-up to Anatol’s grandest achievement. Now, this is something I didn’t personally witness — I’ve just heard second-hand accounts, and am fairly certain that what I’m about to write is not strictly 100% accurate. Frankly, though, I don’t care about the truth, and figure if my take gets repeated often enough it’ll supplant reality and enter public record as the definitive version.

It takes place at an informal wedding reception for my friends Sean and Caryn, something held at an unbelievably dirty and sleazy punk-rock club called the Hardback. The Hardback was much beloved by Gainesville dirtbags and hipsters for years and years, as it hosted many good bands and pretty much let you get away with damn near anything. In return, you occasionally had to pay a small cover charge and brave the club's awful restrooms.

Now, despite sobriety, Anatol encouraged other people’s drinking habits (like they needed it), and around this time was known for his Flaming Dr. Peppers. He carried around a backpack with all the various elixirs and potions you need to make this refreshing drink and would gladly fix you one up upon request, carefully measuring the amounts and calibrating the ratios before delivering the coup de grace — fire! Yes, the last step to making this cocktail was to float some kind of combustible substance on top and set it aflame. Yay!

So Anatol is at the party, making his Flaming Dr. Peppers and giving best wishes to the happy couple, when inspiration strikes. They have those disposable cameras everywhere, like they do at weddings and such, so guests can snap photos. Anatol figures it’d be fun to go into the bathroom with a camera and some of that Flaming Dr. Pepper mix and secretly snap a pic of his penis on fire. Imagine the wonder on Sean’s and Caryn’s faces when they develop their reception photographs and come across this!

Jill, still totally bewitched by the calves, agrees to assist Anatol, and they head to the restroom. Like I said, the Hardback was filthy, but the bathrooms were positively toxic. Really, people would jog a quarter mile to Subway to take a poop rather than get their butt cheeks anywhere near a Hardback toilet. Hell, even when peeing you’d stand as far back as you could from that gaping, demonic maw, lest a germ fly up from the seat and lit upon your ding-dong.

Inside, Jill gets the camera positioned while Anatol drops his pants and douses his penis in Pepper mix. Once alight, Anatol figures the alcohol will burn for a few seconds, giving them plenty of time to take a picture before his weiner becomes seriously endangered. I guess in physics class they don’t teach you about the nature of pubic hair, though, because after everything’s set up and Anatol flicks the lighter his man-bush immediately bursts into a giant fireball, shooting hot flame up into his face.

Anatol screams. Jill screams, and, sensibly, runs out of the restroom. Frantic, Anatol pats out his pubic flames as best as he can without mashing up his balls. A minute or two later, Jill reenters, and finds Anatol standing there, terrified, with his hands covering his crotch.

Anatol turns accusatory. “You left me!” he says.

“I’m sorry,” Jill says. “I was scared.”

“I’m scared too,” he says.

“Are you hurt?”

“I don’t know. I’m afraid to look.”

“We have to, baby,” Jill whispers. “If you’re burned, we’re going to have to get you to a hospital.”

Anatol is absolutely mortified. The last thing he wants to consider is serious penis burns. But he has to look. Slowly, ever so slowly, he moves his hands away from his crotch...

Nothing! No burns, no blistering… It seems Anatol has somehow escaped injury. They both breathe a sigh of relief.

Problem is, Anatol’s crotch is still doused in flammable liquid. A second or two after removing his hands, the inrush of oxygen reignites a hidden pube ember, surprising Anatol and Jill with another gigantic fireball.

Anatol screams. This time, though, Jill just laughs, and snaps a picture.

Anatol rushes over to the toilet, splashing the water there onto his crotch to douse the flames. Me, I would’ve opted for the fire, given the choice. Those bathrooms were seriously gross.

Later, Sean and Caryn develop the pictures. Something about the flash on those cameras rendered the flames invisible, so all you see is Anatol’s tiny penis, shriveled in pain from an attack by an unseen enemy.

I wonder how that works, those flames turning invisible in the photo. You reckon a physicist could explain it?


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