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Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Living Will


I, Larry Getlen, being of sound mind and body, do hereby express the opinion that life is not as sacred as some would purport, and that if anyone can still promote the sanctity of life and existence after watching but one episode of According to Jim, then one’s value system is not in accordance with mine, and that person is therefore not worthy of making essential decisions regarding my well-being.

I have been made aware of various options for artificial resuscitation, and have decided on several options that are and are not acceptable in the event of personal catastrophe, perpetual anomie, or a state of dissatisfaction with the world equivalent to that of the old guy on my corner who wears a ratty seersucker suit caked in gravy, and who’s convinced that the cantaloupe he carries in his plaid pleather bowling bag accidentally invented the formula for New Coke.

The following are various resusitive methods that are acceptable for keeping me alive, should my condition require artificial means, or should I just ever get so bored on a Friday night that I actually watch Spike TV:

Bathed in mango/jalapeno paste
Whipped in the face by a small gray pony
The complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach played in it’s entirety for me on kazoo and spoons
The complete works of the other Sebastian Bach sung karaoke style for me by a 37 year-old transmission mechanic from Trenton
(to be continued…)

Monday, October 27, 2003

Little things remind me I’m getting older. I was hanging out with a friend who’s about 24, and at the end of the night I said, “I’m gonna blast.” And she said, “I’m gonna blast? Whoa, did we just time-travel back to 1983?” And I said, “No. If this was 1983, I’d be 17 years old, clumisily trying to fuck you. Instead, I’m 37, worried about whether you’re doing the right things with your life.”
I wanted to see something really scary this weekend, but I walked into the wrong movie by mistake. I saw the Texas Jigsaw Massacre. It’s about a teenager goes violently insane when he just can’t find that middle piece.
Regarding Queer Eye for the Straight Guy - Anyone else get the feeling that Carson is thisclose to convincing some straight guy that if he’d let Carson fuck him up the ass just once, it would be great for the guy’s relationship with his wife?

Thursday, October 23, 2003

As I wrote in my last blog entry, my mom told me this week that she’s moving in with her boyfriend. I’m happy for her, but still, something about it gnawed at me. After eliminating various superficial and financial reasons, I concluded that it was because my step-father, the man who raised me, and who died four years ago, was being replaced.

But the truth is, if I’m really honest with myself, it wasn’t that. What was upsetting was the thought that occasionally skates through my head that the man replacing him is better.

Ouch. That’s hard to say. That’s probably why I’ll never say it.

But I can write it.

It’s so easy to look back on life and see the shortcomings in people. My step-father, Sherman, was a good man with a lot of shortcomings. I think in the end, though, his greatest shortcoming was not being the kind of father that, looking back, I wish I’d had.

Sherman was a motorman for the MTA. Sherman was old world, blue collar Jewish New York. He talked with strangers on buses. He was remarkably loud. He didn’t talk, actually, he screamed. And not just in anger. Sherman screamed in friendship. He screamed in happiness. It’s just what he did. He was a big man (6’, 250ish), and he bellowed.

Sherman knew nothing about business, or finances, a fact that meant nothing to me until I hit my late 20’s, early 30’s, and realized that I knew nothing about business or finances.

He was not a cultured man. He knew nothing of art, or literature, or theater. He put ketchup on eggs. He put ketchup on steak. He put ketchup on pasta. If we let him, I believe he would have put ketchup on chocolate.

Sherman probably gave truth to the statement, “I have underwear older than you.” I really believe, up until I was in my 30’s, he probably had underwear older than me. And he refused to wear pants in the house.

Or, for that matter, teeth.

Sherman had false teeth, and one of the most common things heard around my house was my mother screaming at the top of her lungs, “PUT YOUR TEETH IN!” And he would respond, “Why?” And he meant it.

Sherman’s favorite pastime was laying in front of the TV watching football. He could do it for hours. Days. Never moving.

I never cared for football.

I have no idea if those two facts are related.

About five years ago, when Sherman was dying, I had a thought. He was in a wheelchair most of the time by then. I thought, if I take him to a Heat or Marlins game (I lived in FL at the time), I’m sure there’s a handicapped entrance we could use. It would make him incredibly happy, at the time in his life when he needs it the most.

I never did it.

I’m not completely sure why, but probably because I couldn’t bear the thought of spending the day with him. I am, inherently, a selfish man. Do I feel guilty about that choice? You bet. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it differently. But we don’t get that chance in life, do we?

I have a picture of Sherman on my nightstand. It is a picture of him in a tuxedo, big smile on his face, practically jumping for joy. It was taken at my sister’s wedding. It was one of the happiest days of his life, and it’s how my mother says she prefers to remember him, as opposed to the bitter, dying man slowly losing the function of his limbs and the ability to hold himself upright due to Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

I try to remember him that way as well, but I don’t always. Sometimes I remember the bitter, dying man. Sometimes I remember the slob. And sometimes I remember the man who would talk my friends into a coma.

But the Sherman I really try to remember is the Sherman who worked his ass off, the man who made the subways go, often working the overnight shift, to support a family he married into, a family that he loved dearly, cared about immensely, and, try as he did, sometimes just didn’t fit in to.

Try as I might, though, my memories of Sherman often get stuck in the slob days, or worse, the dying days, the hard days, the days of exasperation and screaming and crying and pain and horrific talk of nursing homes and the awful wish that a loved one would just die already to put everyone involved out of their misery.

But looking back on what I’ve written so far, I worry that my characterization of him isn’t fair. It lacks balance.

So here’s some balance.

When I was about ten or so, I was cast in a sketch performance at my Hebrew school. I had memorized lines, and was excited about it.

That morning, I came down with a high fever. My mom laid down the law – I was not going. Then she went to run errands, and Sherman came in and said, “let’s go.”

The show must go on. And it did.

That was Sherman.

When I joined the local Boy’s Club, Sherman coached baseball. Whenever me or my sister had an event or performance, Sherman was there.

They say that in life, just showing up is often half the battle. This is perhaps never more true than in parenting.

Sherman always showed up.

Still, in the haze of time and fading memory, it’s often hard to weigh that against the darker side – closing yourself in your room waiting for the screaming to stop, the punching of wooden cabinets in frustration, fights so fierce the family car pulls to the shoulder of the road and everyone gets out to let their anger breath and you have the balls to light up a bowl even though the parents are in view and you’re 1,000 miles from anywhere because you just don’t care anymore, and just basic differences in personality that perspective allows you to more clearly see.

I realize, of course, as I add and add and add to this as isolated moments pop into my head, that no essay or blog entry can give the complete measure of a man. What is here just poured out, unplanned, demanding to be expressed. If I were to attempt to give the complete picture of Sherman, from the manic, crying arguments and the increasing thoughtlessness to the dedication to the children he had no responsibility to care for to the way he’d shout for a hug from my mother out of nowhere (which, when combined with that “put your teeth in” thing, made for a pretty funny picture), I’d never stop writing.

When my mother and Sherman discussed marriage when I was about six years old, my mother asked my permission. She had told Sherman that no matter what happened, her kids always came first, and that if it didn’t fly with me then it wasn’t gonna fly at all. But I saw the goodness in him, and granted my mother permission to marry him.

All these years later, despite my love for Sherman – and I did absolutely love him, in my own dysfunctional way - I can’t say I made the right choice. Not because of who Sherman was – he was, ultimately, a good, kind, thoughtful man in his own way. He was not smooth or sophisticated and could be crude, but he genuinely cared. People were important to him. Through the muck of the rest, it’s a trait I wish had rubbed off on me a bit more than it did.

But not every couple is a good match. And looking at Bill – my mom’s new boyfriend, the man she is about to make her future with, the successful businessman who helped found a company and takes my mom on cruises and buys her things on a whim both because he can and because he thinks of it – I can’t help but think that this is the type of man my mom should have been with all along. She would have been happier.

And I feel like the world’s biggest, cruelest scumbag for thinking that.

As I was writing this, I realized that Sherman died four years ago this week. I believe two days ago was the anniversary, but I just left a message with my mom to verify it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I found out today that my mom was moving in with her boyfriend. My first response was, “Cool, I get the house to myself!”

My mom lives in Florida. I’m in New York. I’ve been living on my own for 15 years.

Some impulses just never die.

***

It’s weird when your mom says she’s moving in with some guy you barely know. You really do feel parental. When my mom told me, I’m like, OK. I don’t really know this guy. Oh, sure, I’ve met him a few times, but I don’t really KNOW him. Let me talk to his parents. Oh...they’re deceased? Well, did they leave a note of some kind?

When your parents are over 60 and move in with a boyfriend or girlfriend, (and yes, we do need to discuss the terminology), there are so many questions – just, as I imagine, our parents had when we moved out.

“How well do you know this guy? You’ve been sleeping over every night for the past year. OK. Fine. But are you sure the two of you can afford this? Oh – he’s retired from the company he founded and made out like a bandit. Well, that’s good. What about the neighborhood you’ve moving in to? Is it safe? Retirees. OK. If they try to mug you, I guess you can always throw them down on their hip. Well, what about your house, the one you worked so hard to redecorate? After all that work, you’re just gonna rent it out to strangers? How will you know if you can trust the tenants to keep it nice? Didn’t you see that Michael Keaton movie, where he played the psycho tenant from hell who shot the guy in his own house and got away with it because he persuaded a judge to legally bar the man from his own home, then said the man was trespassing in his own house, so he shot him? Oh, I’ve been watching too many movies, and should really get back on my medication? OK.”

***

Maybe I should meet his kids. I wonder if they’re being as neurotic about this as my sister and I. (My 34-year-old sister, by the way, cried when she heard, because my mother is going to be 15 minutes further away from her than she is now. I think she used the excuse that her kids wouldn’t be as close to grandma, but when my 8-year-old niece Emma heard the news, she was fine. That’s because my mom’s boyfriend has designated a playroom for her in his house, and then Emma quickly discovered where his secret cookie stash was. Frankly, if we all kept a secret cookie stash around, I think we could solve a lot of problems.)

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Surprising Things I Learned While on Jury Duty

A judge who attaches a piece of fishing wire to the back of his toupee, loops the wire through an intricate rig on the ceiling, and then yanks on it repeatedly during jury selection to make it look like the toupee is waving at you, is probably a bad judge.

“Intent” is a very important word in legal circles. Other important words in legal circles include “soup,” “cataclysm,” and “wedgie.”

When addressing the court, quoting Ernest Hemingway from The Sun Also Rises creates the impression that you are an intelligent, well-reasoned individual. Quoting Mariel Hemingway from Star 80, however, leaves exactly the opposite impression.

It is now possible to be charged with “aggravated bamboozlement.”

If you took a satellite photo of a New York City jury room, projected the image into space, and then reflected it back toward earth where you watched it on the highest quality photo equipment, the guy sitting directly behind me munching Doritos in my ear and mumbling, “he’s guilty, he’s so fuckin’ guilty, dude,” would still look like a complete dick.

Murder does not become OK just because the victim was “a raging pussy.”

Due to a recent Supreme Court decision, a judge is now allowed to approach a defendant and smack him on the head with a rubber mallet simply because he “doesn’t like the cut of his jib.”

An unemployed Colombian housekeeper who speaks no English is now officially one of my peers.

Dressing as a 18th century Revolutionary War veteran complete with buckled shoes and a powdered wig is fine for an attorney, as long as he refers to himself as “barrister.” Dressing like a six-foot–tall blueberry muffin complete with a crumb-top cap that straps around your chin, however, is still frowned upon by the court.


###

Friday, October 17, 2003

WELCOME TO WINTER
It's a very exciting time here in New York, as we are now solidly into the season that requires the use of coats and/or jackets.

As such, in case you’ve forgotten how to use them,
here is a quick guide to the particulars of coat and
jacket usage, as prepared from my own personal
experience.

1. Rummage through closet. Wonder where coats and
jackets are.
2. Throw short sleeve shirts around room in
frustration.
3. After one hour, many curse words and a few ripped
garments, remember that you placed them in a box under
the bed.
4. Retreive box.
5. Cough for 15 minutes after breathing dust on box.
6. Remove jacket from box, and wonder if Members Only
is still in style.
7. Try jacket on. Wonder when you gained 50 pounds.
8. Take jacket, which is now torn down the back, and
toss in trash.
9. Repeat 6-9 until box is empty but for an old moldy
donut.
10. Stare at donut drooling like Homer Simpson. Be
sure to remember to make the “uuuuummm, dooonut”
noise.
11. Eat donut. (This step is optional.)
12. Strip off clothes, curl into fetal position and
cry at the mockery your life has become.

(Note – do step 12 only if you’ve done step 11)

And then, once you’ve done all that, you’re ready to
enjoy the glorious autumn chill.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

MY KISS IS ON YOUR LIPS...AND YOUR FACE...AND....

My radar sucks. It just doesn’t work. Try as I might, I have now lost patience with trying to distinguish when to go for the “hello” kiss on the cheek, or when it’s supposed to be a hug, or some people are apparently now just doing the cheek-to-cheek air-kiss thing. It’s too confusing. I saw a friend the other day and went in for the hug, but she surprised me with the cheek. In the ensuing confusion, I kissed her cheek hello, and it wound up – how shall I saw this politely – wetter than intended.

The incident haunted me. Social faux pas are certainly not new to me - the person who once absent-mindedly gave a book of artwork from Absolute Vodka ads to a recovering alcoholic as a Christmas present - but I consider soiling one’s cheek on a simple hello to be one of the more egregious. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

So the next day, I wrote her an E-Mail.


Kate

When I saw you yesterday, I might have accidentally left something on your face. It’s probably gone by now, but if not, I’d be happy to come remove it.

Your pal, Larry.


Because that’s what pals do.

After writing the note, I immediately felt better.


(Note - I know no one named Kate. The name has been changed to protect the awkward.)
A public message to people who whistle in public. Read carefully, this is important.

If you’re one of those people who whistles in public, allow me to say on behalf of anyone in earshot:

YOU’RE NOT IN TUNE!

No. You’re not. That’s right. Not. When you try for C#, it comes out Bb. And as would be expected, any attempt at recreating a minor chord comes out sounding like you bit your cheek. Considering that over $100,000 worth of high-tech studio technology went into creating that highly processed sound for the recording, thinking you could recreate it simply using two lips and a tongue was foolishly, delusionally egomaniacal. And even if, by some miracle, you ARE in tune - we still don’t want to hear it. Because being a great whistler is pretty much like being great at the pan flute. No one cares. Just stop. Take up the kazoo – that would be less annoying.

(Notable exception - Darryl Hannah in Kill Bill Volume 1.)

Sunday, October 12, 2003

I grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood called Gravesend. Gravesend. The end of the grave. The end of death. I spent my childhood at the end of death. Really nowhere to go from there, is there? Plus, it’s a pretty shitty place for a kid’s birthday party. Especially when you had to give directions.

"Here’s what you wanna do. Drive south on the Belt Parkway till you see the burning corpses of the damned. That’ll be Exit 6. Get off there and ride three miles until you come to the anguished souls crying out for redemption. Now, if you see a zombie with maggots shooting out of his eyes, you’ve gone too far – you’re gonna wanna turn back and look for the hellbeast with the scalp of flame. Then turn left, and Chuck-E-Cheese is just two blocks on your right. Park in the back near the howling wolf-beast with three heads and the cloven hoof, and if a man with a black cloak and a scepter says he’s the valet, explain in a gentle voice that you’d prefer to park it yourself."
How To Get Elected

It’s morning in America, folks, and a golden morning it is for our democracy. The public has spoken, and our elected officials have been put on notice that if they slip up, they will be removed – just like that. And not just replaced by anyone, but by slick, wealthy Hollywood stars who can get away with things the average politician can only dream of.

But what if you’re not a Hollywood star? What if you’re not even a failed child actor, porn star, porn mogul, pudgy lieutenant governor or watermelon-smashing “comedian” with a healthy but mystifying following throughout the mid-west? Can YOU be governor?

Why, yes you can, citizen! Because this is America, where all it takes is $3,500, sixty-five signatures and a dream.

But how, you might be asking? Well, glad you asked. It’s so much easier than you think to be governor, senator, or even president. And the great thing is, anyone can do it! Limited intelligence? No sweat! Not the world’s most articulate individual? Please! Not a problem!

So for all of you civic-minded citizens out there who aspire to great power, here is your guide to getting elected in America. Break a leg, as we say in politics, and see you on the campaign trail!

1. Self-assessment

Do you have what it takes to be a holder of high office? Not just anyone will do, after all – the American people only want candidates with “character.” Take this simple quiz and find out if you’ve got what it takes.

a. Have you ever been arrested for manufacturing large quantities of methamphetamine using a nothing but three beakers ripped off from a local high school, bicycle tubing, baking soda, tonic water and Red Bull?
b. Have you ever played an impromptu session of the Milton Bradley board game Operation, using an unwilling stranger in an elevator as the playing board?
c. Did you admire the Rwandan Hutu warlords for their innovative methods of resource conservation?
d. Special bonus question: Are you so ingenious that you figured out a way to turn the Kennedy’s Republican?

Here’s what it means if you answered “yes” to each of these questions. If you answered yes to:
a. You are an innovative thinker who can develop unique solutions to complex problems. Congratulations! You’re one step closer to office!
b. You are a personable individual who knows how to get close to strangers in an almost intimate way, and can truly be a governor of the people. Congratulations! You’re one step closer to office!
c. You have the ability to see the bright side of even the most horrible situation, and therefore can keep your head clear, allowing you to make the important decisions. Congratulations! You’re one step closer to office!
d. Governor-elect Schwarzenegger – Don’t you have more important things to do right now?

And if by some chance you answered “no” to all the above, don’t fret. You must have some positive qualities – right?

Let’s proceed.


2. The way in.

In order for you to be able to run for office, there needs to be an election. If one is upcoming, you can easily call your local election board, secure the proper paperwork, fill it out and pay the fee. But what if there are no elections coming up? Can you still run?

You bet your incumbent-hating ass!

Some states have mechanisms for a “recall,” which will allow you to run even if a candidate is already in office, and no election is scheduled. Isn’t that great! We’re so democratic, we will hold elections at any time, for any reason! And it only takes one person to make it happen!

What a country!

If your state has provisions for a recall, the most important part of this process will be collecting a certain number of signatures. This is very easy if you have a few million dollars. If not, it may take some work.

But if you do have a few million to spare, here’s what you do.

a. Hire people in every country to collect signatures. For maximum impact, have them stand in places where people are least likely to be actively engaged in thought. We recommend any mall or Wal-Mart, Celine Dion’s Las Vegas show, a Dennis Kucinich rally, or any movie theater from April-September.
b. Have your signature collectors tell these people that this is their chance to “take back government for the people.” Now, you may be asking, what if you actually have very close ties to the most powerful establishment politicians in the world? Doesn’t matter. It’s all in the wording – “take back government for the people.” The more you repeat this phrase, the better your chances.
c. Blame the incumbent for everything, whether or not it’s really in his or her control. Encephalitis epidemic? Terror threats from suburban third-graders? The worst crop of new network sitcoms ever? It’s the incumbent’s fault, and no matter what he says, YOU won’t let the people forget it.
d. Avoid issues. They just confuse people. Limit all talk of actual politics to three-word sentences, max. The only phrases you need to know are “balance the budget” and “lower taxes.” Whether or not these will actually help the economy is irrelevant. Just keep repeating them, and don’t stop.
e. If there’s any way to make yourself one of the most recognizable movie stars in the world with a twenty-year history of blockbuster releases and global name recognition, go ahead and do that. But this may be harder than it sounds, so don’t sweat it.

If there is a recall mechanism in your state, these easy steps will usher you right into office!

If there is NO recall mechanism in your state, don’t fret.. Simply search the legislation in your state for the following phrases: “impeachment,” “resignation,” “disembowelment,” “eviscerated by leeches,” or “wiccan.” Within these phrases, there will be other mechanisms for getting the current office holder to step down.

Barring the availability of any of these mechanisms, however, remember that governors are made of mere flesh and blood. Worst case scenario, you can cut right through that stuff!*

So there you have it, folks. Your guide to becoming governor. Best of luck in your endeavors, and remember – when you do get elected, you’ll have lots of cushy patronage jobs to give out. When that time comes, remember the people that got you there. ;-)


Yours in democracy,



Larry Getlen


*(In the event that any FBI, CIA, or Secret Service officials should read this E-Mail, please note that the statement above is officially “satirical.” This E-Mail and the authors thereof in no way condone the slicing, dicing, pureeing, or cutting-into-Santa-Claus-shaped-blobs-for-the-purpose-of-baking-into-festive-holiday-cookies of any elected official. Plus, it is not even true that all governors are made of flesh and blood. New York governor George Pataki was actually carved from a Grade A Virginia ham, and Iowa governor Tom Vilsack is nothing more than plywood and mulch held in place by industrial glue and hemp.)



Monday, October 06, 2003

A BATTLE OF WITS WITH A TON-ARMED MAN

I flew to Florida to see my family for Rosh Hashanah. A friend asked me what Rosh Hashanah was. I said, you know, the festival of lights. That’s the kind of Jew I am. On Rosh Hashanah even Catholics were like, “Happy New Year,” and I’m like, “it’s September you dipshit, what are you talking about?” Took me three minutes to work it out - oh, right , OK. And Yom Kipper’s the day Jews put the food down.

So I flew down to Florida to see my family on Song Airlines. Song, for those who don’t know, is the bastard child of Delta. Delta needs to compete with all the budget airlines, particularly Jet Blue, which offers high class cuisine and colorfully designed interiors and DVD players and shiatsu massages and a ride on an Oriental spin fuck chair with a flight attendant upon return. (Oh, wait – that’s Hooters Air – never mind.)

I guess Delta chose the name “Song” for the airline because “Song” has a happy association, because people love music. Which is fine, but, what if it's, like, three hours of Debby Boone singing “You Light Up My Life.” Or worse, Pat Boone singing Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” Or even worse, Kelly Osbourne singing anything. They’d have to call it Suicide Airlines, because no one on the plane would make it the full three hours without grabbing a packet of peanuts and jamming the entire thing into their windpipe.

So I board the plane. Now, two things to know about me when I fly. First - aisle seats, always. I book them in advance, because I’m a big man, and I need the leg room, Otherwise I wind up sitting in hyperventilation position for two hours, knees to the sky, head up my ass. Not fun. The other thing is that I book the exit row, because you get twice the leg room. And if you didn’t know that, you’re welcome.

When I get to my seat, there is a man already sitting in it. And when I say a man, I mean a mountain - a hunky, bulbous, 350-pound mass of jello and down. Not sure how to calculate this scientifically, but I believe his center of gravity was a donut.

As I look down at him, it takes my eyes a while to adjust because there’s so much to see. It’s like looking at god, or the Grand Canyon, or Britney Spears with clothes on. You’ve heard it exists, but you never thought you’d actually see it.

“Excuse me, this is my seat. 16D,” I say. He looks up at me – slowly, because his neck muscles can only move at a certain pace, kinda like a retractable stadium roof – and he grunts, “D’s the window.”

Doesn’t it sometimes seem you can tell how stupid a person is by how stupid they assume everyone else is? I mean, does he spend his days around the kind of people who would fall for that?

“No, this is D.”

So the man gets up and moves to his real seat, which was the MIDDLE seat.

He sits down. Only about half of him is actually in the middle seat. The other half is overflowing in ...many directions, really. There’s flesh oozing next to him, in front of him. I think a little bit eked out the crack of his seat into the row behind him and frightened a small child. But the worst part was the fold that made itself at home over my armrest.

Now, I’m not a small man by any means. I’m not so large I can’t fit into an airline seat, but it’s fair to say that what little room I do have will be used. Now, however, about 1/3 of my seat is taken up by Jabba the Hut’s fleshy sidecar (a way too obvious, but also way too appropriate, reference - thanks for your indulgence).

I’m now squashed toward the aisle, and my arm has made a permanent impression in his side. If police could capture people by forearm prints and needed to find me, they could just take an impression from this guy’s side roll and they’d have me in no time.

As we wait for takeoff, nestling into this man gets increasingly unnerving. I don’t like strangers pressed against me – particularly big fat guys - but the more my arm and then my shoulder and my side jell with his mounds of fat, the more comfortable it feels. First it seems like a big fluffy pillow, and then kind of womb-like, like he’s this big amniotic cushion and I’m still a few months from being born, and it gets comfortable on a really primal level, which was uniquely disturbing, and yet somewhat dreamlike.

But of course, I realize that I might not feel this way about two hours into the flight.

As the doors of the plane close, I see, and I’m sure he sees, that the window seat remains empty. This gets me psyched, because I figure he’ll move over. But as they make the announcements about the plane getting ready to take off, he buckles in. He’s not moving.

So now I get into this whole psychological thing. Is he doing this on purpose? Is this his revenge for my making him give up the aisle seat? Or is it strategy? Is he waiting for me to ask him to move, so that he can do so ONLY if I give him the aisle, forcing me toward the window?

I decided that this was, in fact, strategy. The fucker was negotiating, and using his massive flab as a bargaining chip.

Well, I’m no one’s bitch. I would not be manipulated in such a heinous and obvious manner. Years in business teach you that the key to successful negotiation is waiting, not wanting, and the willingness to fail. Anxiousness concedes the battle. Last one to speak loses.

So I hunkered in. Worst case scenario, I had three hours of flight with the best pillow on the plane. Let another passenger console himself with the germ-infested, wafer-thin excuse for comfort the airlines jokingly refer to as “a pillow,” that transparent cushion that still holds the lice of a woman who flew from Uganda to Paris for a turban weaving conference during the Spring Equinox of 2000. I’ve got 350 pounds of authentic man blubber to comfort me - nature’s beanbag chair.

Finally we taxi, and accelerate, and take off. Up, up into the sky we go, his side appendage merging with my arm like the molten paws from Videodrome. At one point, he even reaches over and lifts his left roll - WITH BOTH HANDS! – and places it closer to the center of his Buddha belly. I’d never seen anyone do that before. I wish I had it on video.

So up, up, and away we go. 10,000 feet. 20,000 feet. 30,000 feet. Seat belt signs are turned off, electronic devices are turned on. People recline, sleep, breath in recycled air to lull themselves into toxic sleep.

My right side has now become part of an entirely new being, a merger of the right side of my own torso, my right elbow and forearm, and the entire left side of fat man’s body. We have effectively become one, and I begin to suspect that were a terrorist to attempt to hijack us at any point from here on, this new creature would rise up - my right arm propelled by the sheer power of his girth - spring into the terrorist's mouth and envelope him in milliseconds, saving the day and setting the stage for us to write a NY Times best-seller called “From Homunculus to Hero – The Fight is in the Fat.”

Throughout this, however, I am possessed by a nagging sense that maybe I should swallow my manly pride, ask the guy to move, and accept the fate of the window seat. After all, which is worse, the slight loss of leg room the window seat offers (which itself would be offset by the empty middle seat), or being the junior partner the hostile takeover of my right arm?

Of course, I also suppress the thought I dare not admit – that comfort has overtaken repulsion, and I’m starting to like this.

But whichever the case, any thoughts of capitulation or weakness are quickly quashed.

The key to winning negotiation – the willingness to lose.

Don’t break.

And then, suddenly, victory becomes swiftly mine. The man unbuckles – quickly and silently – and moves to the window seat.

I have won.

The rest of the flight is a testament to comfort. I stretch out, listen to tunes, read, enjoy Song’s “gourmet” delicacies (which means deli sandwiches that aren’t five days old), and basically enjoy a flight in the relaxing manner I deserve.

But I gained more than just a comfortable flight that day. I gained the knowledge, pure and unencumbered, that I am a man of principle, a man of strength, a man of resolve. I’ve got pride and principles, dammit, and 350 pounds of slobbering fat can’t change that.

So thank you, Song Airlines, for proving for me that in the end, it really isn’t the destination – it’s the journey.

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