DP Challenge: The Best Medicine

What kind of sadists do they have working at WordPress that they would create this prompt for the weekly writing challenge?

Daily Post at WordPress.com

Time to work out your own funny bone! This week, write about whatever topic you’d like, but go for laughs.

Poke fun at yourself, write a limerick, find the absurdity in a real-life situation, come up with some groan-worthy puns, sketch a comic, put some fictional characters in a farcical situation — all’s fair in comedy.

This challenge is an open invitation for all the unfunny people in the world to inflict their painful lack of humor on the rest of us through their blogs, and they’ll probably all come up with posts that look a lot like Is This Even Funny?

While considering the writing challenge, I started thinking about all the unfunny people I’ve known in my life and I’ve decided that to be an actual unfunny person you can’t know that you’re unfunny.  There’s a definite requirement of obliviousness.  To be unfunny, you have think you are funny, like my Uncle Tony who used to annoy entertain my family by referring to my younger sister and I as the “Brady Bunch.”  See, that’s not funny because there were only two of us, not six like in the show.  We were barely a “pair” let alone a “bunch.” But I am blonde (though my sister is brunette) and our last name begins with the letter “B” so I guess Uncle Tony thought it made some kind of sense, maybe?  And did I mention the show had been cancelled six years before I was even born (but of course had been running in syndication ever since)?  Anyway, I think his television set broke in 1972 and he’d never bothered to get a new one, so he wasn’t aware of any shows produced since then, or else I’m sure he would have called me and my sister the “Olsen Twins,” even though, you know, we weren’t twins.

While I was struggling financially (and academically!) through college, I worked at a Ruby Tuesday with another server named Mike.  Naturally, we all had dreams beyond Ruby Tuesday: I wanted to be a college graduate, and Mike wanted to be a stand up comedian.  The problem was I was flunking Calculus and Mike wasn’t funny.  Mike was gross.  He had been reprimanded by management and instructed not to talk to customers, at all, beyond taking their orders and serving their food.  So he lost his practice audience for his comedy routine. This is where I came in.

Mike: Hey, hey Karen!

Me: Yes?

Mike: You have a good sense of humor, right?

Me: All right, yes.

Mike: Ok, listen to this.  You know when you’re sitting on the toilet taking a shit–

I’ll spare you the rest of his “bit” but, just so you know, I remember it in it’s total, torturous, unfunny entirety, and it is now over ten years since Mike and I were colleagues.  That memory, along with the time I gave a twenty-minute-long presentation to a group of middle aged men with my pants unzipped, I would like to scrub from my mind.

You can read more about my time working at Ruby Tuesday in Would You Like Your Porn With Condoms, or Without?

DPChallenge: Welcome to the Committee

This week’s writing challenge:

Write a short story or piece of descriptive faux-journalism describing your personal idea of a dystopia — a dark future when everything you hold dear is on the chopping block.

Daily Post at WordPress.com

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Things were much different, of course, before the Great Decision.  Kara was sure of it, although her memories of her childhood were growing hazy and it was forbidden to read the books or watch films from that period.  Still it did not keep people from talking about it, and the lunch time conversation  in the cafetaria was often dominated by talk of the Time Before, carried out in hushed tones, so that the Monitors would not overhear.

“Yes, yes, I’m telling you it’s true,” Lalina was saying, trying to convince one of the younger girls of some outrageous fact that could not quite be believed.  “They made pictures of it, with the males and the females together, without any clothing on at all!”

Malika tore off another bit of bread and pushed it into her mouth, eyeing each of them around the table in turn, to see if someone might give away Lalina’s joke.  She was new to the division and had already been the victim of one of their pranks, when she had been sent into the men’s section to give Miglano, the supervisor there, a note that read, “I have a big round bottom.”  Miglano had flushed red, and immediately alerted the Monitors.  Two female officers arrived some forty-five minutes later, the crumbs of their lunch still clinging to the front of their uniforms and their breath stinking of onions.

“What took you so long?”  Miglano whined.  “I’ve had to wait here with her all this time, and hold this note.”  He spat out the word like it was an epithet.

In the end, the Monitors convinced Malika not to pursue a complaint against the pranksters.  There should have been repercussions, of course, but the Monitors insisted she could not possibly identify which of her co workers had given her the note and the instructions to deliver it, since she was so new there. And, since she was so new there, she didn’t want to stir up any trouble, did she?  Still, Malika was on guard and suspicious of her co workers, lest she be made a fool of again.

“I don’t believe a word of what you’re saying,” Malika said to Lalina.

“It’s true,” Kara said.  She rarely spoke, but when she did, the others listened.  Kara was a Committee member, after all.  “My father had a stack of magazines like that, hidden in his office.”

“Oh, so they had to hide them, even then?” Lalina asked.  This was a new bit of information which she planned on adding to her story.

“Yes, I think so, but they weren’t forbidden then.  I’m not sure why he hid them.”

“A magazine full of pictures of men and women without any clothes?  I don’t know whether to believe you or not,” Malika said, but it was clear her doubt was fading.  “Who would want something like that?  It doesn’t sound the least bit useful.”

No one at the table offered an answer, so the conversation drifted to the new standards for producing the XL-487, which the women had just been informed of that day.  Kara didn’t bother to listen.  She was a member of the Committee that Develops New Standards, and she was tired of hearing about them.

It was on the Committee that she had met Darlo, and last week he had confided to her that he had stopped drinking his daily ration of the Most Powerful Energy Drink.

“I can’t blame you.  It tastes like piss.”

He was stunned by her admission.  “You’ve drunk it?”

Kara nodded.  “Just a sip.  They sent several cases of it in the rations for the women’s quarters last year.  I was put in charge of repackaging it and shipping it back out, which I did, but not until after I tried a bottle.”

“But it’s forbidden for women to drink the Most Powerful Energy Drink.”

“It’s also forbidden for men not  to drink it, so unless you want me to inform the Monitors on you, I suggest you don’t inform the Monitors on me.”

He reached out and took her hand. “I would never inform the Monitors on you.”

Kara let him hold her hand for a bit before she pulled away.  “The Monitors might see us,” she whispered, but she wasn’t really worried about the Monitors.  The truth of it was Darlo had become a bit of a pain, always expecting her to spend the fifteen minute Committee breaks with him, and even sending her secret notes delivered to her housing unit that said silly things like

Thinking about you

and

Can’t wait to see you again

While it had always been exciting to Kara to garner the attention of another Committee member, Darlo, with his beady eyes and his sausage fingers, had become tedious.

“The funny thing is,” Darlo explained as they walked back inside to resume their work, “I really feel like I have a lot more energy since I haven’t been drinking it.”

“Is that so?” Kara took her seat at the table and began unnecessarily studying the pile of papers in front of her.

“Kara .  . .” Darlo began, but Kara cut him off.

“Shhh,” she said, her finger to her lips.  “I have to read.”

That night, Darlo sent her another note.

I can’t stop thinking about you.

Kara, for her part, had stopped thinking about Darlo immediately after the committee business had concluded for the day. She sighed after reading the note, just as Lalina passed by her in the hallway.

“What’s got you sighing?”

“Just another Committee note,” Kara lied and wasn’t sure if Lalina believed her.

“You and your Committee business,” Lalina lingered in the hallway.  “Still it must be nice getting to work on the different projects.  I swear if I have to assemble another XL-487 . . .” Her voice trailed off.

“I don’t know if my job is any better.  I still have to assemble XL-487s.”

“Only three days a week, though.  The other two days you get to do something else, get to talk to different people.”

“It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  Anyway, keep your chin up,” Kara gave her friend a half-smile.  “The XL-488 is due to be released soon!”

Lalina laughed.  “Now that’s something to look forward to.”  She hesistated, and then spoke again.  “Say, what’s really in that note, Kara?”

Against her better judgment, Kara showed Lalina the note.  Lalina read it, and then read it again, before clasping her hand over her mouth to conceal a grin.  “I’ve heard about these mixed gender relationships!  I never thought you would be involved in one!”

Kara grabbed Lalina’s arm and dragged the woman down the hall and into her room. She locked the door before she said,  “I’m thinking I ought to be offended by that remark.  Why shouldn’t I be involved in a mixed gender relationship?”

Lalina shrugged.  “You’re always so much about business, and your Committee.  I didn’t think you even noticed the men.  And this Darlo.  He’s the chubby one that wears the belt cinched too tight about his waist?”

Kara put her head into her hands.  “Yes, he is.”

“Oh, I know him.”  Lalina looked off into the distance, her eyes dreamy.  “I like his smile.”

“I don’t like his smile, and I wish he’d stop sending me these notes.”  Kara tore the note into tiny bits before throwing it into the fire.

“Stop answering them, then.  That should put an end to it.”

“I don’t answer them.”

“How I wish I had someone sending me secret notes,” Lalina said, her voice tinged with sorrow and envy.  “It seems so exciting!”

Kara had an idea.  “Why don’t you answer his notes?”

“Me?  It’s you he’s keen on.”

“I’m not sure it’s me.  I think it has something to do with the Most Powerful Energy Drink.”  Kara explained her theory to Lalina, and before long she had convinced her friend to respond to Darlo’s note.

Hello.  You don’t know me, but I’d like to get to know you.  My name is Lalina, and I’m a friend of Kara’s and she’s told me all about you.

Together, they marked the outside of the envelope DARLO and sent it off to the men’s quarters.

Within the hour, there was a response.

Hello, Lalina.  I think I do know you.  You’re the one with the melodious laugh I see sitting next to Kara in the cafetaria, aren’t you?  Thank you for this note.

“Look at that,” Lalina showed Kara the note.  “I’ve got a melodious laugh.”

“Are you going to write him back?”

Lalina held the note up to her nose and inhaled deeply.  “It smells like sausage.” She held it out for Kara to smell, but Kara waved her off.  “Of course I’m going to write him back.”  She turned and went back to her room.

At the next Committee meeting, Darlo nodded at Kara, but he didn’t pass his share of the mid-morning snack to her, and he completely ignored her during break, when he did not bother to even go outside for the fresh air.  Kara wandered out to where each of the various cliques congregated: the Smokers huddled together at one end, far from the rest, the Candy Chompers with their lollipops and breath mints that they offered to Kara as she walked by, and those who didn’t smoke or eat candy, but instead had pencils stuck in their mouths.  It was amid the Pencil Gnawers that Kara saw him, the new member of the Committee, tall with curly brown hair and very white teeth that he was using to chew a pencil.

“Hello,” Kara said.  “Welcome to the Committee.  My name is Kara.”

He took the pencil out of his mouth and held out his hand.  “Hello.  I’m Tyro.”  He smiled at her with those gorgeous white teeth.

She took his hand and held it longer than was necessary for the handshake.  They stood alongside one another for a moment before Kara turned to him and asked, “So, Tyro.  Have you ever thought about not drinking the Most Powerful Energy Drink?”

Tyro hunched down close to her and said in a voice just loud enough for her to hear,  “Well, now, Miss Kara, between you and I, I don’t drink it.  I think it tastes like piss.”

Kara looked straight ahead and smiled, rocking slightly back and forth on her heels, content to be a member of the Committee.

DPchallenge: Give Me Some Old School Clay Tablets!

Daily Post at WordPress.comThis week’s writing challenge wants to know how I prefer to read, with an eReader or with an “old school” paperback in hand.  Paperbacks are “old school”?  Hardly.  Let’s get really “old school” and talk about the virtues of clay tablets.

  1. Yes, clay tablets are heavy, but have you ever tried propping open a door with your Kindle?
  2. Do you know how many paperback novels I’ve lost?  I still don’t know what Molly Bloom answered, or who killed Roger Ackroyd.   Try losing a clay tablet.  People will absolutely run after you screaming, “Hey!  Get back here!  You can’t leave that clay tablet here!”
  3. If you take a clay tablet with you on your trip to the beach, when you’re done reading, you can bake loaves of bread on it.  Try doing that with a Nook.
  4. Clay tablets mean jobs for all the out-of-work cuneiform scriveners.
  5. Enjoy reading in the bathtub?   Oops, better not drop your paperback or eReader!  Water will ruin both.  Go ahead and dunk that clay tablet.  Go right ahead.
  6. Reading clay tablets turns a sedentary activity into a muscle building work out, so you’ll live longer and look ripped.  How much does your paperback weigh?
  7. Clay tablets are 100% organic.  ‘Cause they’re made out of clay.
  8. Due to their size and weight, clay tablets encourage only serious readers to join your book club.
  9. You’ll never forget to return your clay tablet to the library, so you’ll avoid fines and the dirty looks from the librarian.
  10. I figure what was good enough for God and Moses is good enough for me.

 So read on clay tablets.  It’s what God intended.

DPchallenge: 1,000 Words, Take Two: The Bergenstadton Transit Authority Is Not In Service

Your challenge this week is to write a post based on this picture:

Couple Embracing

Photo courtesy of Cheri Lucas.

images

“Can you all please stay out of the street?” Guillermo waved his arms, trying to herd his passengers back on the sidewalk and behind the disabled tram.  As soon as he turned away to make another attempt at contacting his boss by cellphone, they wandered right back into the street, like so many pigeons.

“I knew we wouldn’t make it up this hill,” Randall said as he wiped the cracker crumbs off the front of his green striped shirt and watched them fall onto the cobblestones.  The crackers were a specialty of the Nordine region, and he had bought a whole box there.  He wished he had brought more crackers with him today, but his wife had portioned them out into eight little plastic baggies, and he was only allowed one.

“They can’t expect us to climb the rest of the way to the next stop, can they?”  Brenda searched the faces of her fellow passengers for an answer.  She had worn her favorite skirt and tied her hair back in the scarf she bought in Pieñera, and she was wearing the shoes that pinched her toes and made her legs look fantastic. Still, Guillermo greeted her that morning with the same smile and nod of his head that he gave to all the passengers.

“I’m just glad to be off those hard benches they have us sitting on.”  Milo reached his hands to the sky, the way he had learned in the yoga class he took last summer.  He liked to think he had taught the instructor a thing or two on the single date they had before his trial membership ended and he had to quit the class.  “I could feel the discs in my spine compressing with every jolt of the tram car.” He frowned at Guillermo, as though the tram conductor was at fault for the poor condition of the rails.

“Please, please!  Stay out of the street!”  Guillermo shooed everyone back up on the sidewalk again.  All he needed was for one of these bozos to get run over and he could kiss his career with the Bergenstadton Transit Authority goodbye.  Maybe if he climbed to the top of the hill he would get better reception on his phone, but he didn’t dare risk leaving the group alone.  Already, that young couple had wandered across the street, oblivious to his instructions to the group to stay together.

“Is there a restaurant anywhere near here?”  Randall asked.  “Maybe we could pop in for a quick bite while we’re waiting?”

“Please just stay right where you are,”  Guillermo pleaded.

“Oh, that sounds good!” Sandy Potter, nee Caparelli, five months pregnant with her first child and just beginning to show, rubbed her tummy and looked over at her husband, Ken.  “This region is famous for a local dish called poppenchitti.  It’s made with bacon and cream and noodles–oh, doesn’t that sound yummy?  I’m starving.”

Without even being aware of it, Ken Potter let out an audible groan. “Honey, you had lukensporlicht for breakfast.  Didn’t that have bacon and cream in it, too?  Aren’t any of these towns famous for their salads?”  With the entire group now staring at him, Ken realized how he sounded.  “I mean, that kid is never going to eat his vegetables if you keep eating lukensporlicht and poppenchitti!”  He let out an unconvincing laugh.  On their first date, Sandy Caparelli had told Ken Potter that she did not want to have children.  On their second date, she had worn a string bikini.  Some nights still Ken could not sleep remembering how she looked on the beach at Montauk Point.  Now here he was in some godforsaken country where the trams don’t even work right.

“See?  The pregnant lady is hungry.” Not for the first time, Randall was glad there was a pregnant woman with this tour.

Guillermo swore under his breath in his native tongue.  “All right.  But we must meet back here in one hour!  One hour!  Please, don’t be late!”  The group went in several directions, and Guillermo began hiking up the hill in hopes of improving his cell reception.

“Guillermo!”  Brenda called after him.  He paused to allow her to catch up.

“Yes, Ms. Teschler?”

“You must know all the best restaurants! Where are you off to?”

Guillermo shook his head and held up his cell phone.  “Just trying to get a call back to the main office.  I think the reception might be better if I get to higher ground.”

“Oh.  Well, maybe we can get some lunch after you make that call.”

“No, I’m sorry, I’ll have to wait with the tram for the technicians.”  Like a captain unable to leave his sinking ship, Guillermo thought.

Brenda nodded, the disappointment revealed on her face. “Perhaps another time,”  she said, turning to head back down the hill. She stopped to remove her shoes when she was sure he was not watching.

Milo stood waiting by the tram as she walked back down the hill barefoot.  “What was that all about?”

Brenda shrugged.  “He’s calling for help.”  She dropped her shoes on the tram step and then sat down beside them. There didn’t seem much point in keeping her outfit perfect any longer.  “Heckava trip this has turned out to be.”

“They seem to be having fun,” Milo motioned to the couple across the street.  Brenda turned to see the young woman backed up against the graffiti covered wall, the young man pressed against her, his thigh between her spread legs.

Brenda sighed.

“What do you say we get a drink?” Milo held out his hand to her.  “I think we should be able to get a flaming ouslaki somewhere around here.”

Brenda ignored his hand, but picked up her shoes and followed him anyway.

One hour and twenty minutes later, Guillermo sat on the curb of the street beside his tram as the mechanic finished packing away the last of his tools.

“Good as new, Guillermo.”

The two men shook hands, and the mechanic drove away on his BTA scooter.

Guillermo looked up and down the street but his tour group was no where in sight.  The sun was setting, leaving orange streaks in the sky, and casting long shadows on the ground.  He was already nearly two hours late for his next destination.  After one long last look down the street, Guillermo took off his cap, unknotted his tie, and tossed them both inside the tram before crossing the cobblestone street.

DPchallenge: Starting Over

Over at the Daily Post, this week’s Writing Challenge has the theme of Starting Over, which got me thinking about all the do-overs I would like to have if life had a practice run.

What follows is a very incomplete list of experiences I would like to go back and start over.

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Do cats scratch leather?

Red sofas are cruel and inhumane.

If I had to do it over again, I would not agree with the volunteer at the animal shelter that declawing cats is cruel and inhumane.

If I had to do it over again, I would not buy a red sofa, which looks even worse now that the cat has scratched it to shreds.

If I had to do it over again, I would not eat the bowl of clam chowder left out overnight on the kitchen counter.

If I had to do it over again, I would not smile politely at the creepy guy behind me at the Dunkin Donuts when he asked if I had a boyfriend.

"I know you dumped me for Kelly Anderson because she has bigger boobs!"

” . . .and I’ll never, ever, ever love anyone else ever again, Danny!”

If I had to do it over again, I would knee him in the groin when he followed me out to my car.

If I had to do it over again, I would listen to my mother when she told me not to date Danny Okulski, who was a senior when I was a freshman.

If I had to do it over again, I would not send that sappy Hallmark card to Danny Okulski after he dumped me.

And finally, if I had to do it over again, I would not run into the cheapie hair salon for a “trim,” a word that the butcher stylist interpreted to mean “keep on cutting until I jump out of the chair and scream at you to stop” because after that hair cut, I was just a flannel shirt away from dating Jodie Foster.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at Stock.XCHNG.