I’m not the type of individual who partakes in pill taking. I prefer to take my medicine in liquid form. From a frothy glass of cheap domestic, to an ice-filled glass of dizzy water, I’m a sorted individual who visits the liquor store on a regular basis to fill my prescription.

BY: Noah Regan

Back in my heyday while attending my alma mater, DMACC, (go Bears…yea, a community college had a sports team, though I discovered that fact at the end of my tenure) back when I was an idealistic commercial art student, I spent less time studying art history and perfecting my craft, and more time playing Grand Theft Auto III, or getting obliterated while watching the hyper-violent, sci-fi/fantasy erotica masterpieces known as Heavy Metal and Heavy Metal 2000. Sure, in hindsight I realize that my priorities may have been misplaced all those years ago, but it sure was a fun ride.

I’ll be the first to admit that her choice of battle attire leaves her somewhat vulnerable.

Yet, those drunken nights weren’t all for naught. Some grand ideas came to my roommates and me when we were addled. Like, for instance, the bra pillow. I know what you’re thinking, the bra pillow sounds kind of pervy, well, I assure you that it was. The bra pillow comprised of a large discarded bra from the laundry room that we fitted around our throw pillow and stuffed with Kleenexes like a tween at a sock-hop. Yea, it was funny, but back then a group of guys manhandling a complete stranger’s (possibly) unwashed unmentionable that was stuffed like a moose head didn’t cross our minds as weird and pathetic. Though, the saving grace of the bra pillow was the fact that it made a great napping pillow. There was something deeply maternal about catching a few winks with your head buried in an artificial bosom.

The bra pillow eventually met its fate by the hands of its maker. One night while drunk I thought it would be funny to start the bra pillow on fire, only to find out the Kleenexes are just slightly less flammable than gasoline-soaked rags.

I think Kay Perry needs to cut me a check for being her artistic inspiration.

So, being that I have such a rich history of abusing my body, you’d assume that I was a pill-head as well. Well, you’d assume wrong. I only had one occasion where I partook, and was so decimated from the incident that I swore to never do them again.

It was in my second year of college (go Buffalo…I mean Bears…I think). I was hanging out in my next door neighbor’s apartment. The tenants in this apartment started out with the truest intentions of furthering their education so that they could become contributing members of society. The apartment eventually devolved into a drug den where you could retreat from your respective straight-laced roommate, and partake in illicit substances. In this apartment lived Zach, the aloof stoner who wasn’t big on hygiene, wore sandals in the dead of winter, and would occasionally draw a line down his face with a marker with a specific color that reflected his mood (I sometimes didn’t like to hang out with him in public). Also living in that apartment was Jeremy whom I don’t remember much about, except for that he appeared very weak and had a very pale complexion. Also, I lost his VHS copy of Basketball and I never bothered to replace it. It still haunts me every day. And lastly, there was Ryan. Ryan was dismissed from the army under suspicious reasons, and had a medicine cabinet of anti-psychotics that could rival Walgreens. Ryan was an intense individual with a bi-polar personality. He always looked like he was on the verge of tearfully hugging you or violently stabbing you with a rusty screwdriver.

One evening I strolled over to their apartment to enjoy their company and found that they were well into an evening of debauchery. Ryan immediately grabbed a 32oz. plastic convenience store cup and proceeded to fill it half-full with Absolute vodka. Personally, I’m not a Vodka drinker, but I thought it would be rude if I didn’t oblige his warm hospitality. While politely sipping the plastic cup of room temperature vodka, Ryan ran off to his bathroom and came back with a handful of pills in assorted shapes and sizes. He said, “Here, take these.” I asked what they were, and he informed me that they were a mixture of tranquilizers, muscle relaxants. And being the responsible individual I am I simply said, “Sure”. I asked him if he had any water to wash them down. He said that I had a cup of Vodka right in front of me. I said, “Of course”, and feeling silly for asking, I proceeded to wash down the handful of various prescriptions with vodka.

It seems like it was only a matter of minutes before my body felt like warm tapioca that was slowly being swallowed by their couch that reeked like stale incense. My eyelids began to droop like stage curtain as I tried with all my might to balance my basketball head on my broomstick neck. After a few more polite drinks of vodka, I clumsily stood from the couch and said, I think I need to go back to my place now. They all laughed in a knowing manner, and I stumbled the fifteen feet back to my door.

I immediately climbed under my sheets and proceeded to have a night of terrifying dreams and coma-like sleep. I awoke at some time in the night still reeling from the pills and decided that a cold shower could sober me up. It was when I stood from my bed that I realized that I had no sensation in my legs. Losing my footing, I grabbed for the nearest object which happened to be my roommate’s 19” television. My fingers desperately seized the edges of the TV, and instead of regaining my balance, I pulled the TV down on top of me on my quick decent to the floor. Lying on the floor with the wind knocked out of me with tranquillizers and muscle relaxants coursing through my veins, I felt like a man trapped beneath a two ton boulder. I mustered what little might I had and managed to push the TV off of my chest and onto the floor next to me. I then managed to find my footing and stumbled into the shower. After a shower that could have been ten minutes or two hours for all I know, I shut off the water and then couldn’t find my way out of the three foot by three foot shower stall. Apparently I got turned around and was trying to exit through the wall. I traced my hands against the wall and then the next wall, and then the next wall (that’s when I began to worry that I was trapped forever in my labyrinth of a shower) and finally I found the elusive curtain. I then went straight back to bed while avoiding the hassle of drying myself off.

I crawled back into bed and proceeded to sleep for 14 hours until my roommate came home and asking a dazed and confused me why his TV was on the floor.

After that traumatic event, I swore off pills and considered myself lucky for not asphyxiating on my own vomit. By the end of my school career, Jeremy got too deep into pills and by the end looked like he was a good sneeze away from the grave. Zach continued on his course of weed smoking, and eventually got a nasty case of head lice. And Ryan ended up getting kicked out of school because he cut his wrists with his shaving razor, and proceeded to go on a “military run” in the dead of night while leaving a blood trail on the walls and carpet of the apartment building.

My last mental image of Ryan is of him being escorted by a couple Ankeny police officers wearing rubber gloves. It was after that incident that I was content in dropping him as my pharmacist.

(Editor’s note: Hey gang, sorry for a repeat, but I thought this entry should see the light of your monitor one last time. Also, there seems to be a growing readership who can now enjoy this essay that is as helpful today as it was…whenever it was written. So, until next week…)

The benefit of being an adult is when you now see back to school commercials, you no longer have a sinking feeling that your summer is over. You no longer think, oh God why? Why must you punish me? Now as an adult you can watch the obnoxious Old Navy commercials and laugh… and then go to your job that you hate the next morning.

Being old and wise in my years I’ve taken the time to impart some wisdom to the future ditch-diggers of America…

Tip #1: You’re never too young to hitchhike


By: Noah Regan (Picture for illustration purposes only)

For all my kindergarten-age readers: get ready to be humiliated. You won’t even realize it until you get older. You don’t understand that it is demeaning to have to wear a sign that states your name and the school bus number neatly scribed on an index card hanging from your neck by a piece of yarn. That piece of paper essentially says that adults have absolutely no faith in you whatsoever. As soon as you are out of your doting mothers sights, ditch the sign. You’ll do just fine without it. You’re going to school now, that’s big-boy stuff. It’s time to buck-up and act like one. Now, if by some foreign chance you find yourself lost while trying to get to the place that you’ve never been to before, simply find the first adult with a thin, wispy mustache, tell ‘em “Hell yea, I love candy!” hop in his primer-gray cargo van and let ‘em drive you to school. There are Good Samaritans everywhere, you just have to look for them… but more than likely they’ll find you.

Tip #2: Figure out a plan to suck your thumb


If you miraculously make it to school after that HORRIBLE advice, and you’re the kind of kid that still sucks his thumb, you’re in for a world of heartache, friend. Even though all of your other classmates still suck their thumbs they will never admit it. And even though they still enjoy a good thumb-suckle as well at the end of a hard day, it won’t prevent them from pointing out to everyone that you still do. Here’s a tip—non-existent kindergarten age readers—wait until nap time, then pick the a corner spot on the carpet next to the bookshelves and go to town on your stubby digit to your hearts content with your body position facing the wall. No one will ever know. I survived this way well into my teens.

Tip #3: Cleanliness is next to Godliness


If someone says you smell funny, number one: I’ve got news for you, your parents aren’t doing as good of job as you thought. And two: take a bath that night and every night after that for the rest of your school career. You don’t want to be labeled the smelly kid. The stench of that name will haunt you for the rest of your life. Ask any adult, they can still name the smelly kid in their class.

Here’s another tip. Don’t accidentally call the teacher Mom. Your classmates will taunt you relentlessly. And yes, I know, the milk tastes funny, but you’ll eventually get used to it. Don’t resort to eating pastes in lieu of drinking milk—you’ll grow up to be a meth cooker.

Tip #4: Don’t write love letters


This one is for all my male elementary school readers. If you have a crush on a girl, don’t send her a note confessing your affection. She will show it to her friends and they will laugh at you for having feelings for another human being. Always tell the girl in person. That way if she laughs about it to her friends you can always deny it since you didn’t leave a paper trail. If you do make the poor decision of spilling your heart out onto a piece of spiral notebook paper, it is imperative that you do not use the word love. Your eight years old for Christ sakes! Use the word like. It has practically same power as the word love at your age, but has a diminished value when read by someone else. Now you can save face when she’s reading the note out loud to her giggling friends at lunch. If the humiliation is too much to bear, hide a cyanide capsule in your fruit cup. You won’t regret it, and you’ll be saving years of heartache. Because let’s face it, if you fail at love right out of the gate your destined to fail in every romantic endeavor after that.

It’s simple logic.

Tip #5: If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Here’s a tip for all my junior high male readers. If you have any chest hair, I mean any at all, I don’t care if it’s three sprouts just under your collar bone; when your laying out the clothes you’re going to wear for your first day of school (I know what you’re thinking, but everyone does it, even guys) wear the new polo shirt and leave the two top buttons open. Flaunt what you got. You earned it, buddy. It’s probably from all the pork chops you ate this summer. That sip of beer you snuck from your dad probably had something to do with it as well.

Take a good look in the mirror. You think that chest hair makes you look like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance because it does! Girls your age will be captivated by a hairy chest until they go to college—then they’ll think chest hair is gross.

I know, confusing right?

Tip #6: Girls will hit puberty before boys—approach with caution


For all you tween girls; if you um… developed this summer you will find boys your age acting strange around you. They won’t approach you and will hardly give you the time of day, but they will belittle and demean other guys that are in your vicinity (even their best friend) to make them appear superior in your presence.

And you know that male friend you had since First Grade? He’ll suddenly want to play-wrestle with you even though you two stopped wrestling years ago. It will be much the same as it was back then, except now his hands will be cold and clammy and after a couple minutes he’s going to stop abruptly, lie on his stomach, and insist on watching the rest of Glee.

Tip #7: Dress for success


Here’s a tip for seniors. I know, right? Why would you take any advice from an old fuddy-duddy like me; the type of individual that is so lame that he uses terms like “fuddy-duddy”. Well, listen up anyways. Dress for success. I’m going back to clothing again. But, everyone will admit that clothing is important when you’re in school. Personality and a sense of humor finish in a distant second. So don’t even bother working on improving those dead-ends.

Now, think of the school year as a reincarnation of sorts. Each spring you die, and each autumn you have a choice as to what you want to come back as. You can reinvent your entire wardrobe completely at the beginning of the school year and you will only face a good couple days where people give you strange looks. They eventually get past it. So sit back, assess where you are and where you want to be. Ask yourself, “Will this Kurt Cobain t-shirt properly inform my peers that I am now cool?”

The answer is of course it will. Why wouldn’t it? Just make sure that you actually listen to Nirvana before you wear it. And if someone asks you what your favorite Nirvana song is, don’t say Jeremy.

Tip #8: If you drive a cool car, everyone else will hate you


If you drive a cool car everyone else will be so filled with jealousy that they will despise you. You will spot them giving you dagger-like stares behind the steering wheels of station wagons and caravans. Yes, their vehicles are roomier, thus better accommodating for the act of coitus, but the irony is that the vehicle itself will prevent that from happening.

But chin up young buck and pay your dues. Driving a crappy car in high school not only teaches you humility, but it builds character as well. It gives you an advantage as an adult by having that life experience as a teenager. I mean, just look at all the kids that drove cool cars in high school, where are they now? Alright, they’re doing fine, and are just as (if not more) successful than you are.

Bad example.

Alright, there is no solace in driving a humiliating car in high school. But hey, at least you can laugh at the kids that still have to ride the bus. Feel free to mock them by calling them Rosa Parks as you drive past in your rusted minivan.

Happy School Year Kids!

Seinfeld illustrated the breast peek best. “Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun. You don’t stare at it, it’s too risky. You get a sense of it then you look away.” That is important advice. Advice that I should have heeded when I was amidst the clumsy throws of puberty. I wasn’t always the respectable individual you read before you today. I was once the seedy sort who would go to great lengths to peer past a woman’s clavicles. If a female classmate was wearing a loose-hanging v-neck to school, my first reaction would be to slowly rub my hands together and think, “Game on!” I’d endeavor in all sorts of risky gambits just to catch a glimpse. Of course, all this was before I became a famed blog writer with multiple groupies. No, back then women my age weren’t freely displaying their goods to a cat like me, so I had to resort to other means.

I realize I sound like a creep, but keep in mind that ALL teenage boys are creeps. A teenage boy’s mind becomes one-tracked—centered on one thing: women, and the unending plight to see as much of them as possible. Teenage boys morph into selfish, slimy creatures with cold, clammy palms. Essentially, teenage boys turn into Gollum. ‘We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. Mustn’t hurt the precious!’

“So if Masters Derek can’t take you to proms, you’ll go with me?!? You means it!?!”

Though, my worst confrontation with sneaking-a-peek was altruistic in intent, but still pretty perverse…

Back in a high school creative writing class, we had to film a fake commercial. After the assignment was explained to us, our creative writing teacher, Mrs. Hogan, set up the VHS camcorder on a tri-pod at the front of the room and told us to play around with the camera to become acquainted with its features. My fellow classmates proceeded to tinker with the gadget, and soon enough, I was looking through its lens with my buddy Ben by my side.

BY: Noah Regan

I paned the camera across the classroom a couple of times before stopping abruptly and tracking back the camera’s glassy gaze to a gal who was a year younger than me. She was innocently working at her desk across the room with her head lowered and her cleavage exposed. At that moment a light bulb lit up above my head. I thought it’d be funny to focus the view of this camera right on Ashley’s cleavage, and then tap my friend Ben on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, Benny-boy, check out the zoom action on this camera!’

Being the constant perfectionist I am, the view I had captured wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I had zoomed in too far, and had buried the view of the camera deep into young Ashley’s bosom to the extent that I couldn’t even tell what I was looking at. The image didn’t register on screen, as the professionals would say. So, like an aspiring Spielberg, I zoomed in and out until I captured the perfect framing of her exposed cleavage. With great pride I looked to my left to get Ben’s attention only to find that in the time I had spent perfecting my cinematography skills, he had strolled to the back of the room to log onto one of the lab computers. I considered walking to the back of the room to get him to take a peek through the viewfinder, but then decided that the joke only works if he’s not expecting something great. Also, if I abandoned my post at the camera someone else may step behind the lens and witness my dirty work. So, admitting defeat, I zoomed the camera back out and walked back to my desk.

If only this story ended there…

A couple of days later, after one group had filmed part of their commercial, Mrs. Hogan said that she would fast-forward the tape a ways past the first groups incomplete commercial to ensure the first group won’t accidentally film over the beginning of the second group’s commercial (since I went to public school and apparently we could only afford ONE F@#&ING TAPE!) As Mrs. Hogan fast-forwarded the tape I casually looked upon the television screen to see a familiar shot of the very classroom I was seated in, and my classmate’s accelerated images walking, talking, sitting…studying with exposed cleavage. Unbeknownst to me, while each of us was playing with the camera IT WAS RECORDING THE WHOLE TIME!

My blood ran cold. My stomach climbed into my throat. I stood from my desk—and without asking for permission—I bee-lined it to the exit and went straight into the single-person bathroom located directly across the hall. I then proceeded to pull at my hair while saying, ‘Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Oh, shit! This is bad! Oh, shit!’ I paced back and forth while chastising myself. I couldn’t tell you how long I stood in that bathroom. Time is relative—three minutes spent on a roller-coaster is far shorter than three minutes waiting in line to ride a roller-coaster. Well, however long it was I spent pacing the bathroom, it felt like an eternity. After a couple chest pounds and long stares in the mirror swearing at my own reflection, I decided that it was time to face the music. And by “face the music”, I mean walk back into class while avoiding eye-contact while pretending that nothing happened by laboring under some delusion that if I deny that it ever happened, who’s to say that it ever happened at all.

With a couple long breaths, I exited the bathroom, and walked across the hallway back into the classroom. When I entered everyone turned their head toward me like cattle in a barn. I immediately took my seat that was couched in silence. No one said a word to me, and I wondered if perhaps no one noticed my perverse camera work. I mean, how long did the camera really stay on her breasts? Plus, the tape was fast-forwarding, so you could take that amount of time and divide it by like four.

After class I asked my friend Ben if people noticed anything strange about the tape. “Ohhh, yea.” he assured me. He went onto explain that Mrs. Hogan noticed that the camera view on the television screen was suddenly spending an inordinate amount of time on Ashley’s breasts. She immediately pushed play to cease the fast-forwarding, and then with utter disgust asked the men in the classroom “Who did this?” All the guys looked around at each other and vehemently denied doing such a thing. Every guy in that classroom suddenly became Gloria Steinem–coming down on the very notion of objectifying a woman–let alone molesting a woman with a camera lens. And then like timing out of a sitcom, the next shot on the television screen that everyone saw was yours truly stepping out from behind the camera and returning to my desk.

"Do you want to see the most beautiful thing I've ever filmed?"

It wasn’t long after that that I returned from the restroom. I never got into any trouble. It’s sort of like when a mother accidentally leaves her toddler buckled in a car seat in mid July, and the cops don’t charge her with the crime because they figure that the fact that woman has to live with the knowledge that she roasted her child alive is punishment enough… it’s pretty much like that.

My friend Ben came to my rescue by stealing the tape at the end of the day and recording over the cleavage footage with static and returned it to the VCR the next morning to ensure that this irreversible error at least wouldn’t happen a second time… that is, after he made a copy for himself.

Ultimately, I was semi lucky because when the footage was shown to the class, Ashley wasn’t present. But, her older sister Allison was. Now a dozen years later, I’ve never brought it up to either of them the few times I’ve run into them since graduation, and I’m positive I never will. In their presence I pretend like it never happened while awkwardly crossing my arms over my scarlet letter “P”.

Sure, many men get caught peeking, but few can say that they have had documented proof presented before a room full of peers.

With the London Olympics in full swing and seeing world-class athletes competing for the gold, I’m reminded of the Presidential Fitness Awards of my past. I always hated when this mandatory competition would arrive at the end of the school year. Apparently in the public school fitness curriculum, the goal of receiving a National—or the ever more coveted Presidential—patch was the culmination of nine months of parachute playing and square dance lessons.

That’s me...second from the left.

BY: Noah Regan

I’m the first to admit that I lack a certain athletic prowess. I don’t have much for upper-body strength and I spent my entire grade-school career not being able to perform a single pull-up. When it would come to my turn at the pull-up bar, I’d ham it up by making overt groans and kicking my skinny legs like a frog in an attempt to mask my physical short-comings. I’d get a few laughs and then would be instructed to get in the bent-arm-hang line across the gym where I had to stand in line with the girls. To make matters worse, I couldn’t successfully do the bent-arm-hang either—and this time it was in front of my female peers.

Sit-ups weren’t too bad, but I recall one year I held the feet of one of my classmates as he managed to fart with each upward exertion. With my hands pinning his feet and my head trapped at ground zero, I lifted my nose as far from his cannon of a colon that had the rhythmic timing of a methane powered metronome. After a handful of blasts to the face, I released his feet to cover my nose, and he went rolling backwards while expelling the last of his fumes. Now, twenty-some-odd years later I wish I would have uttered, “Hey David, their called sit-ups, not shit-ups!” That would’ve been classic. If I had time-traveling capabilities, I would correct my past by going back to that day and delivering that line in lieu of killing Hitler—yes, it’s that important to me.

You will receive one slice from the giant brick of Velveeta for every sit-up.

The real embarrassment would come from the fitness award ceremony. I would dread the day. My entire class would congregate in the gym as our P.E. teacher read off the names of the National Fitness recipients (red patch). I would sit there amongst my friends and attempt to diminish the significance of the achievement by saying, “This is so stupid, don’t you think? This is such a waste of time.” My friends would agree and then eventually abandon me to receive their patch when their name was called. The audience at the ceremony would eventually dwindle down to a handful of kids because everyone that was once a part of the audience was now standing at the front of the gym looking at the few that didn’t achieve this (in my opinion) insurmountable feat. I would be briefly comforted when I’d glance around at the few (but not proud) ill-accomplished classmates that were sparsely seated Indian-style on the parquet floor and see a cool kid that was still relegated amongst us losers. I’d think, “Hey, Justin didn’t earn a patch either.” My solace wouldn’t last long because Justin’s name would inevitably be called last for not only receiving the more prestigious Presidential Fitness award, but achieving this distinction several years in a row.

By the end of the ceremony there would only be me and a handful of students left e.g. the hyper-obese girl, the marginally skinnier but still pretty fat girl, me, and the wheelchair girl with severe retardation.

A slight tangent: remember the person in your class with a severe mental disability? I’m not talking about the kid with Down’s syndrome or run-of-the-mill retardation. No, I’m referring to the person who is severely retarded and is confined to a wheelchair. Every class has one (and suspiciously only one). The one my age didn’t go to class full time, and, now that I think of it, I’m not even positive if this girl was even in my class. She’d just appear random times throughout the day.

This story is about yours truly at my most deplorable moment in my life. God willing, I’ll eventually sink even deeper. But for now, this occasion ranks as my lowest and still makes me cringe when I think about it.

I was probably in fifth grade or so, and was eating my lunch in the cafeteria. Back then, you didn’t choose a specific seat at a table. You had to walk in single formation and sit at the next available seat. Essentially, whoever you stood next to in the lunch line sat next to you at the lunch table. By luck of the draw, the first two long tables filled up and I had to sit at the end of the next table. I didn’t think anything of it until a girl with a severe mental disorder was wheeled up to the end of the table I was seated at. Her hot lunch was delivered to her and her handler (or whatever) who then walked away and left her be. So there I was sitting at the end of the table, crowded by this girl who didn’t so much eat her food as she much more aptly drooled on it and smashed it between her fingers. I was aggravated by her table manners and found it difficult to eat (I know I sound like an asshole, but it gets worse).

The girl in question wasn’t what you would call lucid. As far as I knew, she could hardly pronounce a single word, let alone string together an entire sentence. I stared with disdain at her mashed food that sat on her tray as well as on the table surrounding her. It was then I noticed that amongst her culinary carnage was a pristine, chocolate-frosted brownie that sat unscathed in the corner pocket of her tray. She’d hardly eaten anything and I figured that the delectable brownie (which was my favorite school lunch dessert) would go to waste. I even justified stealing this poor girl’s brownie as payment for me having to sit next to her (I know, I know. I’m not a good person inside). Eventually, enough people around me left to return their lunch trays, and I saw this as a window of opportunity to steal this retarded girl’s brownie.

Say you wouldn't do the same, and I'll say you're a liar!

While her head bobbed and pulled erratically, and her glazed eyes pointed in opposite directions—rolling back in her head—I regrettably reached over and stole a brownie from this severely retarded girl. Like a conniving Copperfield, I snatched it up in one sleight-of-hand motion, placed it on my tray, and returned my instruments of crime back onto my lap.

Success! I peered at her out of the corner of my eyes and saw that she was none the wiser. Feeling good about myself, I reached back onto my tray for the recently acquired brownie so I could enjoy the fruits of my ill-gotten gain.  Just then I noticed the young girls head drift back down to her tray. Then her wobbly, accusatory gaze drifted over to me, who was currently holding her brownie while simultaneously staring back at her with wide, pleading eyes. Suddenly, this girl who ostensibly couldn’t speak a word over two syllables screamed with all her might, “My brownie! He took my brownie!” I froze with the brownie mere millimeters from my open mouth. I knew it was over. I had to think fast. I considered getting rid of the damning evidence by shoving it quickly into my mouth. “Brownie! Brownie! He took my brownie!” She warbled once more while pointing her gnarled fingers at me. Instead of sinking even lower by shoving the brownie into my mouth, I placed it back onto her tray just as quickly as I had swiped it. I then tried to pacify her with a frantic, high-pitched whisper, “There it is! Shhh! Your brownie’s right there. Look!” She promptly relented and I stared red-faced at my empty tray while the classmates that were sitting next to me returned to their seats. No one said anything, either because they didn’t see what happened, or (more likely) they didn’t want to dignify what happened by confronting despicable me. I don’t even know if she ate her precious brownie since my shameful eyes stayed glued to the floor.

What was I talking about? Oh yea, physical fitness…or something. I got a little side-tracked. Oh well. Until next week, keep your eye on the prize and your hand on the proverbial brownie.

A couple of days ago I made an urgent trip to my local Sam’s Club to pick up coffee, and my roommate asked me to pick up a bottle of Sunny Brook whiskey while I was visiting the only exclusive club that I’m a member of. By the way, if you’re a whiskey drinker, be sure to pick up your poison at Sam’s Club because it costs just slightly more than bottled water. Back to the story; I was rushing through the huge warehouse aisles hurriedly grabbing a bottle of Sunny B (not for me, I’m still adhering to my promise I made in my last entry) and a large bag of coffee grounds, making me appear to be a guy that enjoys a good cup of Irish Joe in the morning. I quickly made my way to the only two check-out counters that were open. I was in a mad rush because I had to be at work in less than 45 minutes and I was all the way over in Waterloo. Down one check-out lane I could see a couple awkwardly standing before a clerk who was looking past them waiting for managerial assistance. I wisely avoided that time-wasting trap and swooped behind a grandmother wearing a Tweety Bird tee with a chub pack of adult diapers resting on the check-out belt. I did my damnedest to preserve this woman’s dignity by glancing in every direction but the straw-bale-sized package diapers.

BY: Noah Regan

The check-out gal was making polite conversation with the woman and her two grandsons who sat lackadaisically in an over-sized shopping cart. I impatiently rocked back and forth—continually glancing at my non-existent watch on my blank wrist, and then, regretfully, to the elderly woman’s posterior to see if I could delineate a diaper beneath her stretch jeans to satisfy my morbid curiosity. A minute or two passed as the clerk and customer (who was scrawling in her antiquated checkbook) exchanged small-talk, all while avoiding the super-absorbent elephant in the room. It was then that I glanced over to the neighboring aisle to see customers flowing through it like trout in a tumescent stream. I audibly exhaled and cursed my poor judgment.

Finally, the incontinent elder and her oblivious grandkids were on their way. I stepped up to bat cocked and ready. I immediately handed the young woman my member’s card that features a postage stamp-sized photo of yours truly that is so pixilated and indecipherable that it could be used by Forest Whitaker. The woman scanned my two items and asked (with mild apprehension) if she could see my I.D. This is something I don’t get asked very often as of late. Between my receding hairline and my crow’s feet that are becoming ever more defined from my constant scowling, people assume that I’m either well-over twenty-one, or if by chance I’m not, I’ve lived such a hard twenty years that they aren’t going to be the one to stand between me and a bottle of sweet relief.

Because I was in such a rush, I drew my license out of its windowed slip and had it extended before me within a fraction of a second, like a hasty Doc Holliday. The trailer park teen took one quick glance at my license before looking at me incredulously. “What’s with ALL the January birthdays?” she asked. “I dunno,” I muttered with my head lowered while punching in my 4-digit debit number. “That’s all I’ve seen today!” she said with great amazement, while severely misinterpreting my body language. “That’s a heck of a coincidence,” I mumbled while selecting ‘no cash back’ and thinking that a one-out-of-twelve chance really isn’t that uncanny.

“Are you a Capricorn?” she said while holding my license hostage. “No…” I began, while furrowing my brow in confusion, and anxiously scratching the back of my head, “I’m a…Aquarius. I think.” For the record, I know that I’m an Aquarius. I was being intentionally obtuse because I feared that if I said with great assurance that I’m an Aquarius, it would make it appear that I actually care what arbitrary constellation I fall under. Just as she began to boastfully inform me that she was a Capricorn – January 8th–I said with palpable exasperation, “I really don’t lend any credence to that sort of thing.” This statement was met with a brief perplexed expression which quickly gave way to noticeable ire.

With a now frosty demeanor, she handed me back my membership card and the very license that caused this frivolous fracture. After I ruined her day and dampened her good nature, I humbly picked up my items without another word spoken and retreated to my Mazda feeling like an unnecessary asshole.

My question is, was I an asshole? Alright, don’t answer that. But why should I have to pander to that gal and her pseudoscience? Why should I have to perpetuate the horoscope hokum that she chooses to subscribe to? Why do people believe this nonsense? You know why astrology is nonsense? (Besides the obvious reasons) According to Wikipedia, a person born under Aquarius is characteristically positive, outwardly expressive, and an extrovert. I am the complete opposite of that!

Do people still read their daily horoscope in the newspaper or online? I hate to point the finger at specifically the ladies, but your gender seems to be the ones who actually give any credence to such tripe. Why do it? It seems fatalistic. Why have your day (vaguely) determined by a complete stranger? Unless my horoscope says, “You will belittle a young cashier, and then write a tediously long blog entry about the trivial experience. Also, that headache is definitely a brain tumor.” Then, and only then, will I give the concept of horoscopes a second thought.

How can people believe such nonsense in the 21st century?  Why do so many humans have this natural tendency to believe in nonexistent things like Astrology, energy auras, psychics, homeopathic medicine, magnetic energy bracelets, the female orgasm… it’s all imaginary, it’s all nonexistent.

We live in an incredible age where the majority of people walk around in public with hand-held computers in their pockets. We live in a time where if you lose your face, you can have the face of a kid who ate-it on a motorcycle surgically grafted onto your skull! Mind you, after the surgery you’ll look less like Travolta/Cage, and more like Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but given the circumstances you’ll look much better than you did before you thought it’d be funny to give a wet willie to a caged Orangutan. For Christ’s sake we have the ability to clone dinosaurs from the DNA extracted from a prehistoric mosquito that was preserved in amber! (At least I think we can. It seems incredibly plausible, doesn’t it?) My point is: how can we as a society be so advanced, while simultaneously so stupid?

So in closing, be sure to manifest your own destiny—don’t read it in print. And, if you do choose to subscribe to such nonsense, keep it to yourself or prepare for my dismissive “wrath”.

“The desire to be connected with the cosmos reflects a profound reality. We are connected, not in the trivial ways that the pseudo science of Astrology promises, but in the deepest ways. Our little planet is in the influence of a star. The sun warms us, it drives the weather, it sustains all living things. 4 billion years ago, it brought forth life on Earth”

–Carl Sagan

I, Noah Regan, am a lot of things: writer, poet, artist, unregistered sex offender, and whiskey connoisseur. It’s that last thing I’d like to broach. I hereby proclaim that I’m keeping the whiskey bottle in the cupboard for the time being. I’ve come to the conclusion that my ritualistic imbibing is not only unnecessary and detrimental to my health, but it makes me incredibly unproductive as well.

BY: Noah Regan

Though, keep in mind that I won’t be a true-blue teetotaler by any means. I still plan to enjoy the occasional beer, but I won’t be following it up with a glass of sweet, sweet whiskey. I know that this doesn’t sound like a serious life change to you, reader. But, it really is. Beer is fine. It’s great. But it’s no whiskey. Whiskey takes a person to places (mentally) that beer can’t. Regardless, I’m turning over a new leaf for the time being, so I can become more focused and live a more salubrious lifestyle. It’s not that I get drunk each night, or even often for that matter. It’s the fact that I don’t need to methodically drink a couple whiskeys each evening after my tuna sandwich and Pringles. Though, to be honest there are countless (mathematically infinite) nights where I completely discarded moderation.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that whiskey isn’t very conducive to great writing. Though I did get some short-story ideas and blog entry ideas from being blotto, the “creative process” eventually became a matter of diminished returns. The majority of concepts I would come up with while drunk were wisely discarded in my critically damned entries entitled Whiskey Affinity.

So, for the foreseeable future you won’t be able to enjoy such drunken gems like:

  • It isn’t always best to root for the underdog or else you’d be supporting the Taliban.
  • I don’t like to pause my TiVo when I’m watching live television. It makes me feel like I’m messing with the space-time continuum.
  • It looks like elephants are covered with scrotum skin. I wonder if elephants get really itchy after jogging.

I wish I could tell you that I wrote more than inane tidbits while drinking whiskey, but that wouldn’t be the truth. The majority of my time was spent watching random Youtube videos. Inevitably I’d wake the next morning and look with a grimace to find a video like “Song from ‘The NeverEnding Story’ – By: Limahl” at the top of my recently viewed list. I’ll think, “Why the hell did I feel the need to watch the music video for The NeverEnding Story last night?” Here’s why: This is an example of my train of thought when I’m drunk on whiskey…

(Preface: A commercial for the movie Think like a Man is on television.)

My internal monologue: Man, Steve Harvey is painfully unfunny. How did he write a successful relationship book? And didn’t Greg Behrendt already do that with “He’s Just Not That into You?” Are people really seeking comedians for legitimate insights on relationships? Does Steve Harvey still host Family Feud? (Me searching on Wikipedia) Yep. It appears so. Louie Anderson used to host Family Feud. Wasn’t Louie Anderson blackmailed by a dude that he sexually propositioned in a men’s room? Ray Combs is the host that I best remember though. He committed suicide didn’t he? (Me searching on Wikipedia, again) Wow! Ray Combs fashioned a noose from hospital sheets and hanged himself in a closet in a psych ward? Johnny Carson donated $25,000 to pay for his funeral.

“Survey says: Crippling Depression”

I need another drink (refill another small glass with two exactly two cubes of ice) Man, you have to be insanely committed to successfully hang yourself in a closet! I mean, you could simply stand up when the lack of oxygen became intolerable. Though, Ray was a short man, I think. Perhaps the closet ceiling was really high. How tall was Ray Combs? (Me Googleing ‘Ray Combs Height’) Let’s see… 5’ 8”.  That’s about average—holy crap! Brad Garrett is 6’ 8”! It would be impossible for Brad to hang himself in a closet with bed sheets. Nope, Brad would need something substantial—like a log chain and the Gateway Arch. Ha! That was pretty funny, me. I should write that down in my ‘notes app”… I left my iPod in my car. I could write it down on a Post-It, but I won’t be able to read my writing in the morning. I guess it wasn’t that funny. (Me urinating on the right side of the toilet bowl and admiring how I can cause the toilet water to churn in a clockwise fashion–then switching my stream to the opposite side of the bowl to realize that it’s much more difficult to direct the toilet water in a counter-clockwise direction. Me adding ‘Must urinate in Australia’ to my mental bucket list.)  How come more people don’t know about Ray Combs committing suicide? He’s like that ‘Sea Quest’ kid, Jonathan Brandis. He hanged himself too. He was in Ladybugs and The NeverEnding Story 2. That movie wasn’t nearly as good as the first one. Man, that boy that played Atreyu was a really attractive kid. I mean, I’m not gay, but—wait, am I gay? (Me looking into the middle distance while taking a sip of whiskey) Nope. Pretty sure not. That kid was really attractive. Atreyu must have been some serious eye-candy for pedophiles back in the eighties. I wonder what he looks like today. (Me Googleing ‘Atreyu today’, and misspelling it so horribly that Google is bringing up websites in a foreign language. Me retyping ‘indian kid from never ending story today’). Found him…

Oh God why?

Just one more drink. Man, I had such a crush on the princess from that movie when I was young. I should look her up. (Me reading the IMDB trivia page for actress Tami Stronach at one-in-the-morning) Wow, she’s a decade older than me. She was a singer? (Me watching a Youtube video of obscure child actress, Tami Stronach, singing her even more obscure song “Fairy Queen”, accompanied by an off-putting homemade video that features fantasy paintings of semi-nude children.

Whoa, that’s pretty weird. It looks like that video was created by John Mark Karr. I should write that down. That’s right; my iPod is in my car. Where would I use that joke anyways? What am I doing with my life? I’m wasting my existence on this earth. All of the Beatles were younger than me after they became the greatest, most influential act on earth before disbanding! What have I accomplished?!? I should be writing… fiction…blog post… anything… (Me noticing the song “The Never Ending Story” – By: Limahl in the suggested video section on Youtube and then regretfully clicking on it.)

...and that’s the rest of the story.

The way I figure, I have the rest of my life to be a reclusive, alcoholic writer. But, I should be enjoying the here and now before it passes me by. So, for the time being I’ll be staying on the (somewhat) straight-and-narrow, and wisely snuff-out one end of my burning candle.  How long will I abstain from the eternal nectar of the gods? Who knows? It could be a year, a month, or just after I post this entry.

Cheers!

P.S.

Hello again, reader! I bet you didn’t know that I wrote and illustrated my own children’s book. Well here it is…

Don't look for a funny caption. I'm not about to bash my own work.

The book is about an anxious little boy named Wendell who must visit the dentist. There’s no great concern until his older brother, Trent, scares little Wendell with untrue stories about the dentist. In order to succeed, Wendell must gather his courage and face his fears. In doing so, Wendell comes to realize that the dentist’s office isn’t such a scary place after all.

It looks and feels like a real book and it’s conveniently offered on Amazon for a mere $17. What? You say that sounds expensive? Well, that’s because it is. It’s freaking expensive to have a book professionally printed. $17 (after Amazon’s cut) is below the cost to produce it. I’m a really irresponsible business manager.

You can check it out at this link. Or simply type my name or the name of this book into the Amazon search bar. It makes a great gift for children, as well as fans of amateur children’s books. If you choose to order a book, I’ll be happy to personalize your copy to whomever you wish, but be warned that it may devalue the book.

Talk to you next week reader. In the mean time, here’s are some preview pages from Strange Tales of Wendell Worth: The Dentist.

I know. I can’t stand that song either. But the title is apropos since I’ll be discussing dancing, and this title is a way to attract my non-existent teen readership to my modest website.

I’m a horrible dancer. I’ll be the first to admit it. It’s not that there’s something overtly offensive about the sight of me on the dance floor. Rather, I’d compare my dancing to seeing a black person with a British accent. There’s just something off-putting and seemingly wrong about it.

BY: Noah Regan

For starters, I’m a guy who is far too self-aware to dance. While I dance, I actually step outside of my body and envision how foolish I look. It reminds me of a story. Many moons ago when I was a bright-eyed twenty-year-old. My brother Abe and I went out drinking in a bar called Whiskey Grove. We were out with his girlfriend at the time and her friend. Naturally—as girls will inevitably do while drinking at a bar—they wanted to dance. Well, Abe escorted his lady out to the dingy tiled floor, and I paired up with the girlfriend’s friend since she drew the short straw. Abe and I had just enough cheap domestic beer in us that we were both strutting around the floor like a couple alabaster Chris Browns (sans the face punching). It was at one point while we were simultaneously tripping the light fantastic like a couple of polished pros; our eyes met and we both pointed at each other and busted out laughing. I was laughing at what a tool he appeared to be, not immediately realizing that he was laughing at me for the same reason since we both looked equally ridiculous executing the exact same lame moves from our paltry arsenals. It’s like laughing at your own reflection and then realizing that the jokes on you. I didn’t much feel like dancing after that.

It takes quite a few cans of courage for me to trod the boards. And, I won’t enter the dance floor unless there are multiple people out there. I know people aren’t looking at me, but I feel that there needs to be other people out there to pull the focus off of me. In the past while dancing, I’ve prayed for a pyrotechnics disaster like at a Great White concert just so people won’t be concerned about my terrible dancing and I could freely bust-a-move without any inhibitions. I would be completely liberated! While everyone around me has caught fire and are desperately rolling on the floor, I’ll ironically be doing The Sprinkler without a care in the world.

We didn’t start the fire. But it’s really burning. One exit!?! That’s concerning.

As for slow dances, they’re fine. It’s hard to screw-up a slow dance. The only problem I have with slow dancing is that I feel like I’m showering my dance partner in a cascade of stale whiskey breath. Women are too polite to point it out to me, but I’m sure in the back of their minds they feel like they’re dancing with the corpse of John Jameson. Slow dancing can be an intimate thing. At times you are mere millimeters from your dance partner’s face, and there’s me, a Big Gulp of whiskey into the evening, smelling like the uncle that gave you birthday spankings well into your teens.

I know what you’re thinking: But Noah, why don’t you just stay sober? If I was sober I wouldn’t be dancing! The last time I danced sober I was at a grade school sock hop. And believe me if a classmate had passed a nine-year-old me a Bud heavy before I approached my crush to ask her if she wanted to dance to the song “Be With You” by Mr. Big, you can be sure that I would’ve downed all twelve ounces to drown the butterflies fluttering in my young tummy. But sadly there was no alcohol of any sorts offered in my middle school gym beneath those entrancing strobe lights. So—with all my faculties in check—I approached the girl whom I thought would have my babies, as she casually glanced around for a better suitor. She danced with me for half the song. At the time I thought that was pretty good.

People say that dancing gives you a glimpse at a potential partner’s sexual prowess. Apparently the rationale goes: If he/she has great moves on the dance floor, then they must have great moves in the bedroom. I personally think its specious logic created by dudes that can Dougie with the best of ‘em. Think about it. If you had some killer dance moves and wanted to get laid, why wouldn’t you perpetuate this myth? By that logic, if a guy imposes himself upon a reluctant woman who doesn’t want to dance, but he drags her out onto the floor anyway, does that mean that the guy is a rapist in the bedroom?

"You come here often? Would you like to?"

Though, if this myth does turn out to be true, here are some things that my potential partners in the future should know about my dancing/lovemaking.

  • I’ll be a bit clumsy/awkward/drunk.
  • I’ll feel compelled to make superficial small talk the entire time. “How about this recent drought? …No I wasn’t referring to you! Please come back!”
  • There’s a fair to midland chance that I will inadvertently cause some bodily harm to you.
  • I’ve been known to cry before, during and after. But no more than the average man.
  • I’ll be picturing your hot friend the entire time.
  • I’ll be forced to suppress my nervous flatulence.
  • I won’t last through an entire song.

So, until we meet again, weekly reader, save the last dance for me.

BY: NOAH REGAN

Editor’s Note: Hello weekly readers. I apologize for not writing a new essay, but my hectic schedule of swinging a hammer in triple digit heat for twelve hours a day has prevented me from looking internally for something to write about. Instead I look externally through sweat-glazed eyes as I scream toward the heavens–cursing the oppressive heat that seems to have no end.

So, until next week, here’s a particular posting that rings as true today as when I wrote it a few short months ago. Enjoy (again).

First off, I’d just like to say, thank you for being a friend. Traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant…that aside, these are all the things you do on Facebook that annoys me.

People that write in ALL CAPS. Just a heads up, if you write in all caps, I block your updates. The irony is that the people that write in all caps have updates that are even more mundane than the average person’s mundane update. I don’t need to read “MAKIN SPAGETTI WITH MY HON…YUMMMM”. What is that about? When you type in caps it looks like you’re angrily screaming whatever you write.

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Forwarded messages as status updates. These messages usually have to do with faith or family–both are fine things–but I don’t need to read some schmaltzy drivel extolling their virtues. Or sometimes the message will be about some cancer kid that lives across the country, and how you’re supposed to share the forward to give him support (which always makes me feel like a world class a-hole when I choose not to). Luckily I’ve gotten quite good at spotting these messages so I won’t even begin to read them. I’m able to distinguish them because of their tendency to be long in length, and most importantly, there is actual semblance of sentence structure, grammar and proper spelling.

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Women who take pictures of friends drinking at a bar. As soon as the first beer is cracked, every woman turns into Annie Leibovitz and feels the need to document every portion of the evening. I know their hearts are in the right place, but what you end up with is a bunch of photos of people red-eyed and alcohol bloated. Speaking as a professional drunkard, I can say that this isn’t a person’s finest hour and they don’t appreciate waking up the next morning to see them tagged in a bunch of photos where they look like Dudley Moore in Arthur.

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Girls that write vague, self-indulgent updates. Girls and only girls do this. They’ll write things like “ugh…so frustrated”, “some people can be so mean…”, “Hmmm…” or this gem, “feeling invisible…” These updates are always thinly-veiled cries for attention, which they always receive, from their female friends who quickly comment with “what’s up?” “What’s wrong?” “Hugs and kisses from me:)”.

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Mothers that send a friend request, but don’t include their maiden name. Young mother’s almost always have a picture of their child as their profile image. How am I supposed to know who you are if your picture is of a toothless toddler and your last name has changed? I’m forced to play Hercule Poirot and investigate their profile to search for any sign that would tell me who the hell they are. I probably haven’t seen this person in over a decade and now I’m creepily searching through photos of Brennan’s First Birthday so I can see if I recognize any of the adults in the background.

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Women who are obsessed with their boyfriend. I’m referring to one person in particular. I feel I can write about her because I’m 99% sure she doesn’t read my writing. I see constant updates from this woman proclaiming how perfect her boyfriend is, and how she can’t wait to see him again, and the countdown of days until she will see him again, and the great expectations for their upcoming date night. All I know is that the pendulum swings both ways. That guy had better never cheat on her because her limitless adoration for him can quickly morph into PSYCHOTIC, VINDICTIVE RAGE! If he’s ever caught with another woman, I’m convinced she’ll castrate him in his sleep with a pair of salad tongs.

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People that write about how they are having the best time while doing whatever or hanging out with so-and-so. My question is, if you’re having such a great time, why are you taking a break from it to inform all of us in Facebookland exactly what a great time you’re having?

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People that quote biblical verses on their updates. I don’t need to be told “This is the day the Lord has made, let of rejoice and be glad.” Your sunny optimism is parting my usual cloudy overcast and blinding my sensitive hung-over eyes.

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Parents posting “funny” things their kids say. Perhaps I’m simply jealous because a banal utterance of a child garners more responses than my polished prose, which inevitably makes me feel like I’m being upstaged by a four-year-old’s inadvertent, comic pearl…BUT COME ON!

…You’re right, you’re right…I’m being needlessly petty and insecure.

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Seeing advertisements for software that can tell you who visits your profile, and how often they do so. Every creepy guy (I include myself in this sordid lot) cringes when they see this advertisement. But, fret not, the software is supposedly bogus, and Facebook makes it a point not to release people’s search history.  Though it’s speculated that the list of ten friends that are located on the left-hand side of your profile are not only people that you interact with on a regular basis, but also people that click on your profile often. You know that girl you perv over on a semi-regular basis? There’s a good chance your image appears at the top of her profile, right along with nine of her close girl friends. I bet a few of you are curious as to who’s on your list. Go ahead, check it out, I’ll wait…

…pretty interesting, huh? Now if you saw my photo on your friends list, don’t get any ideas, I’m not stalking you. My photo is featured because you probably clicked through my post on Facebook to visit my website. If you didn’t click through Facebook, I’ve got bad news; you’re more than likely being stalked by me. Sorry, I’ll try to knock it off…by the way, nice blazer Erik.

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Accidentally hitting “like” on a person’s photo. Continuing with the creeps, this one pertains to just the guys as well. Who hasn’t been cyber-stalking—I mean browsing!—through a friend’s photo album, and just as your beer buzz begins to take shape, you decide to check out your prey’s Cancun Vacation photos. After fulfilling your need to ogle the individual photos, you click the lower left hand portion of your mobile device to go back to the person’s profile. It’s while attempting this delicate maneuver that you terrifyingly hit “like” on a photo that isn’t appropriate for you to like. I believe Facebook placed the “like” button in that convenient spot to weed-out the pervs. That way that person can see that you appreciated a photo of them playing beach volleyball at 3:26 in the morning.

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People who have WAY too many friends. Women seem to be the majority of the ones guilty of this. Are they really friends with twelve-hundred people? I doubt it. Also, the term “friends” seems to be misused in Facebook. 97% of my “friends” would be better classified as acquaintances. And a solid two percent of my friends are honest-to-god strangers.

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See ‘Ya Next Week, Various Acquaintances!

By: Noah Regan

When I lived in my apartment in Waterloo, I tended not to return my cans and bottles to receive the redemption money. Instead, I would give them to a fellow that used to dig through the dumpsters at my apartment complex, as well as the apartment complex on the other side of the cul-de-sac. Whenever I saw him I would quickly gather my cans and bottles into plastic sacks and then deliver them to him while he stood inside the dumpster where he rummaged for cans and bottles. I’d always say the same line, “Excuse me, I thought you’d want these.” The gentleman (who looked remarkably like Skank from The Crow) would reach his hand across the top of the dumpster and—very unlike Oscar the Grouch—he would emphatically shake my hand and thank me. I’d politely reciprocate the warm gesture by shaking his hand, all the while in my mind thinking “Right hand, right hand, once I get back inside my apartment I need to thoroughly wash my right hand”.

We still keep in touch. I send him facebook messages, he scrawls on toilet paper and leaves it on my doorstep.

I felt good donating my cans, and he benefited because he could cash them in to buy a sandwich, or a can of copper Krylon to huff. Like I cared. My altruism ended there. After he doffed his filthy stocking cap in appreciation, we’d go our separate ways for the next couple weeks. He was happy and high, and I felt good for contributing to those more deserving, and most importantly, I didn’t have to visit the Can Redemption Center.

I hate visiting the redemption center. It’s a personal purgatory of sorts for me. It’s a penance I pay for drinking too much. The name is strange isn’t it? The Redemption Center. It sounds like a place found on Skid Row that features a flickering neon cross. It’s a place where people at their lowest can find salvation—redeeming their soul from the tortures of the damned.

Yet, that is far from the case. Rather, the redemption center is a place where I find myself standing amongst the wretches of society as I take a sober evaluation of my addiction and life’s choices.

Sure, I sound pompous and elitist calling these folks “wretches”, but when you’re surrounded by tribal tattoos on pimply arms, greasy ponytails on a forty-something dude, piercings placed where one would think impossible, and Crocs (for Christsakes yellow Crocs with sweatpants!)—I willingly separate myself from that collected waste of humanity.

Ostensibly, the redemption center isn’t a bad place. It’s well organized and the staff is unusually sunny given their careers. As I entered this particular redemption center three days ago, No Doubt’s “Simple Kind of Life” was playing on the speakers overhead. Not a bad start, right?

My main beef with the redemption center is that I’m forced to parade my addiction in front of the whole world. I don’t like people judging me for my drinking proclivities. In case you didn’t know, I like to judge, and I always note what people drink and how much at the redemption center. I notice the elderly man who drink cans of V8 like it’s the fountain of youth. I see the affluent woman who wears a silk shawl and sports haircut like Anna Wintour (I hope my female/gay readers appreciate that reference because it took me twenty minutes of searching to find that chick with the bob haircut I was thinking of), and assume that she is bringing in bottles of pinot grigio, or shiraz, but only to find that she has a modest sack of Bush Light cans and Diet Coke, and I realize that she is no better than me. I see the gentleman who ardently drinks one brand of beer. He’s a man that wholly believes in brand loyalty. I see him spill out his two garbage sacks of Miller Lite, creating a blue and gold aluminum mountain.

Like Sherlock Holmes, I deduce that this gentleman (of questionable character) is not only single and lives alone, but also doesn’t receive much company. No, there aren’t any sixer’s of Summer Shandy or Blue Moon left by friends that drop by to visit. There is no a bottle of Cinnamon Vodka brought by a certain gal whom he’s courting. No, this guy had nothing but a tsunami of Miller Lite cans.

I found myself observing this guy as the tattooed woman waded through his sea of solitude with her rubber gardening gloves. I looked at him and felt bad. I wondered if he might want a little conversation—say a beer after our respective can collections are counted. A Miller Lite perhaps?

As I pondered this hermit’s habitat, it was time for me to collect my money and leave. The Roller-Derby lesbian that counted my collected shame politely handed me my much earned twenty-eight dollars (and some-odd cents) and I was on my way. But, before I left, I was sure to show my generosity by depositing a tip through the slat of the wooden box by the register. Upon exiting, I found myself breaking down that meager gratuity into the amount of cans I had to drink to “earn” it, and suddenly found my tip to be obscenely generous. Twenty cans of empty beer! Take the Dammage Patch Kids out for a brewski on yours truly.

I can often be described as introverted. One shouldn’t misinterpret what introversion is. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that I’m shy or awkward around people. Being an introvert simply means that I often find people tiring, and would much prefer to be left alone. I’ve often said, “There is no greater company than me with myself”. But, being that I don’t live in a the dilapidated cabin of my dreams situated in the barren landscape of Montana where I can write my weekly manifestos in peace, I, like everyone else, must occasionally interact with the public that I find so grating.

BY: Noah Regan

Recently I surprised even myself when it came to avoiding someone I knew. It was late in the afternoon and being that I was sunburned and fatigued from swinging a hammer all day, I decided to pick up a twelve pack of Milwaukee’s Best. All I wanted to do was crack a few cold ones and zone out in my chair. By the way, Milwaukee’s Best? It’s six bucks for a twelve pack. I think Milwaukee has their superlatives backwards. Back to my point; I was stuffing my change back into my wallet while clinching my blue, bubbly beloved under my arm when I spotted a guy from my hometown briskly walking to the convenience store entrance. While my stomach climbed my throat, I quickly searched for an alternate way to leave the store. The mere thought of having to stand in the entryway of a convenience store answering questions like, “So you live down here?” “What have you been up to?” “How’s your sister?”, made my blood run cold.

This is the reason why I don’t carry a handgun. I’m afraid I’d conveniently use it on myself. It’s not that I’m suicidal in the least, I’m deathly afraid of death. But, the option of reaching for a loaded nine that’s kept snugly down the front of my pants like John McClane, that I can quickly reach for it when I’ve been spotted by an acquaintance–immediately shove the barrel into my mouth and yank the trigger to feel sweet relief–sounds enticing in those scenarios. Not to mention, it would give my casual acquaintance something to talk about when he goes home to his wife.

“Say honey, you’ll never guess who I ran into at the Music Station.”

“Who?”

“Noah Regan.”

“Oh, yea? How’s he been?”

“Not good.”

“Yea, it was great running into you too. We should get together sometime.”

Back to the story: with nary a gun in reach and no back door to sneak out of, I stood petrified looking through the large glass doors. I knew that he couldn’t see me because the sun was setting to the west turning the glass doors into blinding mirrors. Sensing a threat, my mind began working in overdrive to figure a way out of this quagmire. Then it came to me. I stood there, slowly slipping the bills into my wallet—stalling—as my acquaintance traversed the parking lot. Then, just as he pushed the glass door to enter the store, I pushed the other glass door to exit—walking out at the same speed he was walking in—keeping the steel separator that’s located between the doors in perfect perspective so that my head would be perfectly blocked even though I was mere inches away. And then like a blue-collar Keyser Soze, I hoped in my car and tore the hell out of that parking lot.

And like that, I’m gone.

Why do I go to such great lengths to avoid people? It’s because it’s been in my empirical experience that people (strangers and casual acquaintances alike) can only annoy you. I rarely have a chance run-in with someone and have been a better man for it.

Take for example a trip to Wal-Mart a few years ago. I was standing in the pharmacy aisle, looking to pick up some multivitamins, and this very large woman on a courtesy scooter came rolling up to me. She said (without any preface or salutation) “Where’s the anti-diarrheal medication.”

I was flabbergasted. It felt as if I intruded in some way—like I shouldn’t be privy to this woman’s digestive problems—this woman who looks like Large Marge, but without the friendly disposition. But then I reminded myself that she is the one who willingly rolled up to a complete stranger and essentially admitted that she had the squirts.

"And be sure to tell 'em Large Marge has the mahogany trots."

Befuddled, I stammered “Sure” and then began to feverishly search the shelf for her medication. I picked up a box of Imodium A-D and said, “Is this it?” Then in a chastising voice she informed me, “No, No! The cheap brand.” As if I help select her anti-diarrheal medication on a regular basis.

After I made that silly rookie mistake, the woman said with much exasperation, “Hold on, I’m gonna turn this thing around.” I took some offense to her tone. I wondered how the hell was I wasting her time? Where the hell does she have to be in such a hurry? It was then that I reminded myself that she does have diarrhea, so perhaps she’s in a bit of a rush (which then made me picture this woman actually experiencing diarrhea which I’ll never forgive her for).

I watched her drive to the end of the aisle and then proceed to execute a three-point-turn. I considered bailing on her. No one would blame me. But, I convinced myself that I’m a better person than that, and instead frantically scanned the boxes and located the one she was looking for. By the time the woman rolled back up, I was standing with my head high, victoriously presenting her stool hardener. She said, “How many pill are in that box?” I looked at the package and informed her that there were twenty pills. She scolded me, saying that that is far too many pills, and that her daughter gets her the box with fewer pills. I reached up and grabbed the smaller box containing ten pill located next to the one that I had just placed back on the shelf. I politely handed the box to her and she sped off without a second glance or even a thank you.

Do you see why I willingly separate myself from others? Why I prefer not to endure that mental mortification again. Sure you do. Alright, that’s it for this week. I’ll see you later (but hopefully not).