What Are Your Responsibilities When Sitting in an Unoccupied Lifeguard Chair?

IMG_0385

I’m on vacation, walking along the beach at about 7:00 a.m.

Best time to be at the beach.

There isn’t a soul for miles. It’s just you, the salty air, and the beautiful views with no one to share it. It’s like getting extra credit from Mother Nature.

I walk past an unoccupied lifeguard chair. At first glance this seems like the perfect place to sit. Elevated height. No other seats around. It’s a laid back version of the Iron Throne. I can totally see why lifeguards would enjoy sitting in a place like this when not having to save lives.

You get to feel like a king. A king who probably makes $12 an hour, but a king nonetheless.

I climbed up to sit in it, but then I paused.

What are my responsibilities here?

What if someone actually needs help and looks towards the chair? Are they going to expect me to be able to save a life?

Because if you do, I’ve got some bad news: you’re going to be very disappointed in this fake lifeguard.

“Hey, sorry, no. That’s not me. I’m not even wearing the red shorts and carrying the buoy. Just an Under Armour shirt and some orange Tommy Hilfiger trunks. Even if I wanted to save you, I don’t have the uniform to do it. Okay? Hello? Oh shit, he drowned.”

I opted to keep walking. I don’t need that type of pressure. Not that I wouldn’t help someone in need, but I don’t want to be expected to do it.

There’s a world of difference between, “That random guy walking by couldn’t save Uncle Albert. At least he tried!” and “Hey that lifeguard whiffed on the mouth-to-mouth! Let’s sue him!”

The flip side to this scenario: what if sitting in the lifeguard chair is a Green Lantern’s ring type of situation? Where just sitting in the chair imbues me with the power to automatically become a lifeguard?

Gotta be honest: not sure I want that responsibility either.

Assuming this magic lifeguard’s chair gives me superhuman lifeguarding abilities, now I HAVE to save lives. It’s like Spider-Man, man. With great power comes great responsibility. I can’t go back to regular life, knowing somewhere out there at the Outer Banks of North Carolina there’s a kid about to get nabbed by the undertow.

Can you imagine the headlines? “Magic Lifeguard Decides to Let Beachgoers Drown for a 7th Consecutive Week.” “Is He Really Going to Wait Until Next Year’s Vacation To Save People Again?” “Another Shark Attack NOT Thwarted by Lifeguard Man.”

There’s a third possibility here. Let’s say I get the magic lifeguard ability. Let’s say I save some people that day, but then go back to my normal everyday life, not pulling people out of the ocean despite my freakish ability to do so at a heightened level. Then let’s say I come back next year for vacation. I’ll definitely feel a lot of pressure to save people then.

And that means I’ll spend my entire vacation just saving lives.

Worthy cause and all but c’mon…can’t a guy relax for a few days?

I come to the beach to unwind, not get thanked by tearful parents who stopped watching their idiot kids for ten minutes.

I’ll spend the entire week running up and down the beach. Probably some kid and some old lady tucked under either arm. I’m going up to people out of breath: “Are you drowning? No, just playing around? Okay well no horseplay. I don’t have a lot of time to waste here. What’s that over there? Is that a shark or is it riptide? Is anyone going to answer me? Oh, so you’re just going to ignore me until you need savin’. You know what, screw this, I’m going back to the lifeguard’s chair to see if sitting in it again will negate my earlier gain in powers.”

The ultimate lesson here: if you enjoy your vacation as it is, stay away from empty lifeguard chairs.

Advertisements

The Time I Was Non-Sexually Catcalled

I’ve never been catcalled before, at least in the traditional sense. But yesterday I’d say I was non-sexually catcalled.

I’m at an intersection, waiting on a walk signal. It’s a shade under 60 degrees. A little cold, a little windy. I’m wearing an Under Armour t-shirt and khaki shorts. These details will matter later.

A guy approaches me on my left. “Yeah, spring isn’t here yet.” He nods towards my shorts. “It’s just not happening.”

I’m taken aback by this. I look at the guy and after the briefest of mental scans realize I don’t know him.  Then I examine his statement. “Spring isn’t here yet.” I’m confused at first, but realize he’s commenting on my choice of attire. I can’t figure out why anyone would comment on a stranger’s clothes, but whatever. It seemed innocuous enough.

“Yeah,” I chuckle. I then say, “Well, hopefully soon!” in that tone of voice you use to be friendly yet also give the impression that you want this interaction to conclude as quickly as possible.

“Nah,” he replied, “It’s just not happening yet.” Then he followed me, pace for pace, through the intersection. I had to invent a reason in my head to justify ducking into a Duane Reade to lose him.

What’s going on here? I like to think the best of people, but I can’t come up with a logical reasoning for him saying this to me then being emphatic about it. The best I could come up with is that he is in fact a pants salesmen out looking for shivering marks in shorts. “Mike I can tell by the item covering your legs you thought it was going to be warm today, but guess again! You’re in luck though, as I’m offering a special on these custom made pants that go ALL THE WAY DOWN to your leg! It’s a bogo deal! The brand name is ‘Weird Guy Who Talks to Strangers’ Jeans!”

Also I didn’t get why he had such a condescending tone. Almost accusatory. He seems like the type of prick to go up to people without umbrellas in a thunderstorm. “Hey bro? So this ‘not having rain’ weather? NOT HAPPENING. You are stupid for not being prepared and deserve to be made to feel stupid. Luckily for you, along with the pants I sell, ‘Weird Guy Who Talks to Strangers’ Jeans has expanded its brand to include umbrellas as well. I’m offering a deal: buy one pair of jeans, get an umbrella half off.”

Then he hands the guy a hard with his company’s tagline:

“Weird Guy Who Talks to Strangers Jeans: We Figure Out What Item of Clothing You Need and Don’t Have, Ridicule You For Not Having It, Then Try to Sell it to You!”

Oh and to close the loop on the whole “inventing a reason to duck into Duane Read: I ended up trying the new white chocolate M&M’s, which were a revelation. So I guess I owe the weird weather-shorts-comment guy a debt of gratitude. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t know how the 20th-released off-brand M&M flavor would taste.

Why Do You Have To Be 25 To Rent a Car?

Seems like a rather arbitrary age, doesn’t it?

I get that 18 is also an arbitrary age to buy cigarettes. There’s nothing inherently more adult about a 21 year old that makes them fit to drink alcohol. But at least those ages guard against dangerous activities.

What is it about renting a car that only the 25-plus crowd is uniquely qualified to do?

My theory: the guy who came up with the rule was trying to stop his 24 year old ex-girlfriend from renting a car.

That’s the only possible explanation that makes sense. Can’t you see him now, a jilted lover behind the reception desk at Enterprise? Wearing a rumpled, short sleeve white button down and a look of disgust as the woman who used to love him avoids eye contact. “I can just go to Avis Jared, really…”

“No, no, no. It’s fine. It’s just you have to be 25 years old. I’m sorry, but the rental agreement is clear. It says you need to be 25 years old, you need a valid driver’s license, and you specifically can’t take the car to Brad’s house, Denise. That’s literally the wording from the contract we give everyone.”

“Also, if you look under ‘Terms and Conditions,’ you’ll see it clearly states that the driver is required to buy insurance if driver does not currently own an insured vehicle. It also states that I still love you, D. I still love you, and we can make this thing work. How about we rip up this paperwork and I’ll just give you my car and we can forget Brad ever existed?”

Next time you rent a car, read your agreement. It’s all in there.

Why You Can’t Trust a Stray Cat

There are multiple stray cats in my neighborhood.

One day walking by I saw one stuck in one of those metal cat traps. Now I’m hoping this was just to get the cat spayed or neutered. But I also like to think it’s just someone who figured out the easiest way to get a pet who hates you.

“Well, we were hoping for a tiger, but that’s outside our budget.”

That, or it was set up by the mouse version of the guy from Saw.

The fact that the neighborhood has a dozen stray cats just shows how much more likable dogs are. You know what would happen if a neighborhood had 12 stray dogs? Someone would immediately just get 12 new dogs. Hell I’d turn my own apartment into a no-kill shelter to avoid having every walk to the bodega become having to watch the Tramp from Lady and the Tramp forage for food.

Everyone in the neighborhood loves these cats. “They eat all the pests!” they say. That may be true. But they also hate us. I went within a foot of the one stuck in the trap and it hissed at me like I started reading Mike Huckabee’s tweets off to it.

So yes, they eat mice and rats. But I still don’t think you can trust them. Why? Because it feels like one day they’re going to expect protection money like the Mafia. I’ll end up standing outside my house waiting around like a jackass, holding a manilla envelope stuffed with a dead bird.

The lesson here? Be careful giving food to neighborhood stray cats. Soon they’ll expect payoffs. Then you’ll be pressured to join their cat gang, help them pull off the Lufthansa heist, and end up frozen solid in a meat locker because you brought your wife around their cat hangout wearing a new fur coat.

Nothing Says “Wedding” Like an Alligator

Recently attended the wedding of a buddy of mine. The whole thing took place on a golf resort in South Carolina. Everything about the venue and resort was lovely.  The room, the fitness, center, the natural conservatory. All of it was breathtaking.

None of that was my favorite part though.

My favorite part? The alligators.

That’s right, alligators. I don’t know if this is a common thing at many golf courses, but this place had warning signs for alligators everywhere. The folio in the room even had a “how-to” guide on dealing with alligators. The fact that it said anything other than, “Just ran away as fast a you can” floored me.

To me, this was awesome. I’ve never been to a wedding that at any point felt like a challenge from the Hunger Games.

I certainly didn’t mind it, but I have to ask the course designers: if you’re building a resort so close to an animal that could eat multiple attendees…don’t you perhaps need to consider another location? “Hey Tom, we’re going to have to move the park. Yeah, pretty much anywhere there aren’t dinosaur-lookalikes who crave human flesh will be fine.”

The whole thing felt like it was symbolic for how rich people don’t feel like regular life is challenging enough. “Well, we’ve got enough money to send our great grandkids to college and have never worried about a medical bill. Plus we’ve been golfing so much even THAT isn’t hard anymore. Hey…what if we put ALLIGATORS on the golf course?” I wouldn’t be surprised if soon the gators were conquered and they just started hunting other human.

It’s the Most Dangerous Game, indeed. Especially after you’ve already proven you can hunt down an alligator.

As much of a safety risk as the alligators present, how great would it be for the PGA Tour? I can’t think of any sports innovation more exciting than that. “Rory McIlroy WAS having a great first round…that is, until he was almost eaten on the 14th hole. While the the tour prays for his recovery, players and fans alike aagreed they’re glad something finally happened.”

One last thought: let’s say these gators remain on the course for generations and generations. They evolve. They learn. They become almost one with the resort’s inhabitants.

What if they just started giving golf tips?

Can you picture it? Some accountant from New Jersey sends one into a sand trap, only to have a gator wearing a Titleist hat come over and tell him to keep his left arm straight when he chips.

I don’t even like golf, and I’d pay for that experience.

 

It’s Time To Admit That Chewbacca is Most Likely a Deadbeat Dad

chewbacca.jpeg

Like most human beings, I love Star Wars. But growing up, my favorite character wasn’t Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, or even the hot- shot risk taking pilot, Han Solo.

It was Chewbacca.

That’s right, Chewie. An 8 foot tall dog person? Intensely loyal to his friends, yet ready to rip an arm out of a socket if crossed by someone? As Jerry Seinfeld’s Mom used to say, “How could anyone not like him?”

I liked Chewie so much that my biggest fear going into The Force Awakens was having to watch him die. By the film’s end, while everyone wiped away their tears over Han I was wiping sweat off my brow in relief. “At least he’ll make it to Episode 8. What’s everyone crying about?”

But now with a new Han Solo-focused movie about to hit theaters, the moviegoing public is about to get even more Chewbacca. And after viewing one of the film’s trailers and doing some research, I regret to inform you, my Dear Reader, that I think I’ve realized something awful about our hero.

Chewbacca is a deadbeat Dad.

First, let’s look at the facts:

Fact #1: Chewie Has Been on the Road with Han for a LONG Time
The Star Wars Wiki site Wookieepedia tells us Chewbacca was enslaved by the Empire sometime after the Clone Wars and before A New Hope. We may see this depicted on screen in Solo: A Star Wars Story, which I’m guessing takes place roughly 10 years prior to Episode 4. Chewie then begins paying a life debt to Han after Han frees him. They then proceed to spend the next four decades smuggling and kicking the shit out of the Empire until we see them, still a pair, in The Force Awakens. Since this takes place roughly 30 years after Return of the Jedi, it’s safe to assume Chewbacca has been at Han’s side for roughly 40 years.

Fact #2: Chewie Has a Family
We first meet Chewie’s family in the ill-conceived 1978 TV movie The Star Wars Holiday Special. I’ll let Wikipedia take it from here:

“In the storyline that ties the special together, Chewbacca and Han Solo visit Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s home world, to celebrate Life Day. They are pursued by agents of the Galactic Empire, who are searching for members of the Rebel Alliance on the planet. The special introduces three members of Chewbacca’s family: his father Itchy, his wife Malla, and his son Lumpy, though these names were later explained to have been nicknames, their full names being Attichitcuk, Mallatobuck, and Lumpawarrump, respectively.”

(Side note: can you believe Lumpy has his own Wikipedia entry?)

“But that’s the Holiday Special!” you say. “Chewie’s family isn’t canon!” The special may not be, the family sure as hell is. For one, there’s a split second clip in the latest Solo trailer that shows Chewie affectionately butting heads with what has to be another Wookiee.

chewie

Go for it, Chewie. 

Unless Chewie’s got a little Wookiee sidepiece, that’s his wife. Also, check this from Malla’s Wookieepedia: “The 2015 young readers novel A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy, a retelling of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope written by Alexandra Bracken, recanonized the existence of Chewbacca’s wife Malla.” 

The Chewbacca clan is canon.

Fact #3: Chewie Was Presumably Not at Home For Most of the Time Spent Fulfilling His Life Debt
The Star Wars universe is vast and expansive. With Han and Chewie out smuggling all the time, there’s no way they were making it back home on a regular basis. I’m guessing the Kessel Run doesn’t have an easy path to Kashyyyk. “Okay Chewie, Waze is telling us to take the left ramp, exit 16A. That’ll put us right onto RRRRRRRRARRRR Boulevard.”

Fact #4: After Han Dies, Chewie Keeps Hanging Out with Rey 
I’ll play devil’s advocate here for a second. Let’s say Chewie staying away from home for the better part of half a century is just him adhering to a code. After all, Han DID save his life. Per Wookiee culture, you owe him a life debt. Fine.

But what does Chewie after Han dies?

Immediately follows Rey to help find Luke.

For anyone keeping score at home, after being released from his honor-bound agreement to loyally serve Han Solo, Chewie opts out of going to see his family in favor of following some woman he met roughly an hour before that.

Verdict: Chewie is DEFINTELY a Bad Father and Husband
It pains me to say it, but there is literally no other logical conclusion. It doesn’t take a math major to figure out ol’ Fuzzball missed a LOT of birthdays.

At some point, Han had to give him the option to go home, right? For all his hotshot bluster, Han Solo was one of the goodest of good guys. No way he makes Chewie fix the engine on the Falcon every day for FORTY YEARS.

“Hey Chewie, man. You know I can just take this thing into Jiffy Lube? You don’t have to keep tinkering with it.”

“Nah, it’s cool. I hate my family.”

The worst part about this is how many thrilling, life-threatening adventures these two got involved in. They’re literally fighing Space Nazis with endless resources and weapons. And Chewbacca STILL found that preferable to spending another Life Day with his wife and kids. “What’s it called? The DEATH Star? Man, you know what? Beats having to watch another game of Wookiee t-ball.”

The true piece de resistance of this theory is what Chewie does after Han’s death. Does he retreat home to mourn?

Nope.

He just starts hanging out with Rey, someone he has absolutely zero life debts owed to. In fact, HE saved Rey’s life by showing up with the Falcon to save her, so SHE owes HIM a life debt!

Instead of leaving, Chewie decides, “Where we going now? To find Luke Skywalker, the Jedi who alienated his nephew, leading to the eventual slaughter of my best friend? In what is sure to be a much more dangerous situation than any I’ve faced before?” Chewie takes a moment, sips his beer, then rubs his hairy chin deep in thought. “Sounds like a good time. Hopefully my last child support check doesn’t bounce!”

Again, it gives me no joy to say all this as Chewie has always been one of my favorite characters. But after doing the research and examing the facts from every angle, I can’t get this thought out of my head: Chewie, in a tanktop, sitting back in his recliner, piss drunk off Coors Light while poor Malla struggles to feed their Wookiee kids dinner.

All I’m saying is that if Episode IX doesn’t have a scene of a graying Chewbacca trying to awkwardly reconnect with a middle-aged Lumpy, I’ll consider my hero unredeemed.

Avengers: Infinity War is the Worst Movie of 2018

800px-Avengers_Infinity_War_logo_001

Avengers: Infinity War is the most anticipated film of this year. It’s goes beyond just being a movie. It’s a cinematic event that has most moviegoers on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will happen.

That’s why I’m so sorry to say it is an incomprehensible mess and a letdown of historic proportions.

(Beware: there are spoilers ahead. Though I feel everyone should read it so they don’t make the same mistake I did in seeing this piece of garbabge.) 

Continue reading