SAN DIEGO, CA –– Having not heard from him in nearly two days, Alice Tomlinson called her 32-year-old son, Ryan, to check in. But when the call went to voicemail, she began spewing out literally anything and everything that popped into her head.
Despite having so much to catch up on, Alice’s voicemail clocked in at 2 minutes and 51 seconds –– a personal record for brevity.
“I asked if he could make it to dinner on Saturday, which made me think about how my husband and I had dinner with our neighbors Tony and Patricia a few nights ago, and they cooked this incredible prime rib,” she remembers. “That made me think of an article I just read about how red meat isn’t as bad for you as everyone says, so I talked about that for a bit.
“Then I felt myself starting to ramble, so I had to quickly tell him about his father’s new P90X regimen and that I was thinking of taking a water color class."
The one blemish in Alice’s record-breaking voicemail was when she asked her son to “hold on for a sec,” even though she was in the middle of leaving a voicemail.
“In hindsight, that's the only part where I think I could've shaved off a few more seconds," she explained. "But I had to get the casserole out of the oven, so what choice did I have?"
But her unprecedented brevity came at a price. After having a moment to reflect, Alice realizes she forget a few essential points.
"If I could do it all over again, I'd remember to tell him how handsome he looked in his last Instagram post, and that his girlfriend is a very lucky girl. I hope he knows that.”
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY — Although she was very excited to tag along at first, 27-year-old Jenny Wilson found her trip with Instagram travel-blogging legend Brittany Sentel (aka @livefreely246) to be a “complete snooze-fest.”
Jenny couldn’t wait to get out on the streets and fully experience Hungarian culture, but Brittany seemed to have other ideas.
“She had her head buried in her iPhone for hours on end, refreshing to see how many ‘likes' she had,” Jenny vented. “Occasionally she’d look up and ask me if she chose the right Instagram filter.”
Jenny won a contest to secure her spot on the trip. And as one of 143,000 followers of @livefreely246, she considered herself pretty lucky.
For two years, Jenny had followed Brittany’s world travels, ‘liking’ her Instagram photos as she camped out on the toilet at her corporate desk job.
“I mean technically I’m getting paid to poop, but she’s getting paid to be on vacation,” she said. “I’d been so jealous of her for so long, but for a social media star, she's pretty damn anti-social.”
Though the trip was scheduled for three days, Jenny cut it short when Brittany forced her to take one of those jumping, mid-air photos in front of the Hungarian Parliament Building. It took 27 attempts before they had a version Brittany was happy with.
“I mean if you're a big-time travel blogger, learn how to time your jumps, you know?"
There are a few reasons to go from a full beard to a clean shave. Maybe you have a big job interview, or maybe your significant other finds it repulsive and you’re more interested in eventually having sex again than you're interesting in winning this battle of facial hair.
But hey, it took a long time to grow that puppy out! It would be a crime to just shave it all off in one swoop. In fact, it goes in several phases.
1. Full beard
I thought it looked good. Like a rugged lumberjack! This beard made me feel like I could build things out of wood and change my own oil! Oh well, here it goes…
2. Mutton chops
I wonder what I’d look like as a Civil War General for the South… oops, it actually makes me look pretty racist. Let’s move along…
Let’s try a little Guy Fieri… oh, that’s outta bounds! Better take a shaving time out and scarf down a couple dozen Buffalo wings!
Hi, I’m not allowed within 100 yards of a school or park… and yes, that’s my windowless van parked out front.
5. Hitler mustache
You can try to pretend you were going for a Charlie Chaplin look, but we all know what you were up to… it’s okay to be curious! Give your upper lip a little wiggle… it’s pretty entertaining.
6. Finally, Clean shave
Good god, I look five years old. Mustache Me would probably be really into the new me…
You probably don’t remember me, but we ran into each other at the Whole Foods salad bar recently. Well, we didn’t exactly run into each other – I saw your perfectly coordinated orange outfit, turned to my fiancé and said, “Holy shit I’ll be right back, I have to take a picture of that fuckin’ guy over there.”
I’m not a huge fan of sneaking pictures of people in public (yes I am), but I think I took your picture because I knew I needed time to process it all – more time than the situation would have allowed me to do.
We ran into each other around dinner time. I had just finished work for the day, and you had probably just gotten out of your job as a trapeze artist. Please have no doubts, you were the center of attention in that place. A complete head-turner. I hope you don’t find that surprising, because you’re insanely buff, you’re dressed like a human highlighter, and you were having a loud, boisterous conversation with the butcher in the seafood department as he handed you your fresh cut of ahi tuna. A conversation which ended with, you guessed it, a big ol’ high five!
Most importantly, how the fuck did you get those tiny, orange corduroy shorts over those bulging thighs of yours? Did you wrap a piece of orange corduroy around those hammys and then sew it together? I like to think you got them on before you became so buff, and you’ve been stuck in those bad boys ever since your quads eclipsed the leg-hole diameter of that dish towel you call a pair of shorts.
Anyway, if you could take a break from lifting old-timey, giant, triangular weights to write back I’d really appreciate it. Either way, best of luck!
I’m a little nervous writing this letter, as I’m pretty sure you are my hero.
Other people that saw you on the beach that day might have made fun of you. They might have said, “check it out, that guy’s shirt got stuck on his man-tits!” Or, “He looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger from Junior!” Even, “I bet his old man nutbag is gonna pop out of those tiny Euro shorts any second!”
But not me. I was jealous.
See, you get life. You don’t wonder for a single second what other people are going to think – your outfit more than proves that. Peer pressure isn’t in your vocabulary. The amount of fucks you give is absolutely zero. Is that not the most freeing feeling there is? The kind of freedom that this country was founded on?
I exist in a constant state of peer pressure. Are these jeans cool enough? Tight enough? But not too tight, right? I can’t even wear an outfit (she’s even got me calling it an outfit) that my fiancé isn’t 100% happy with, because I don’t like the disapproving look I’ll be getting all night unless I change into a shirt that goes better with the pants I have on (which she also picked out).
Do you know how happy it would make me to throw on a backwards hat (and not give a shit about what logo it had on it), a pair of tiny, weird shorts because they were the first thing I pulled out of my drawer, and top it off by rolling up my red t-shirt over my big, jolly gut simply because it was warm out and it felt better that way? I’d punch a stranger right in the mouth – without apologizing – to feel that kind of pure, sweet freedom and peace of mind.
And your beer belly. That glorious, glorious beer belly. 99% of the world is self-conscious, and would think of that bad boy as something they should try to hide. Not you, sir. Not you. You’ve pulled your shirt up to let it out, ready to give that gut a tan. Is there anything that screams pure confidence more than a tan beer belly?
That baby just oozes life experience. Inside that ball of fat is a story – decades of stories. What were the 1950s like, gut? Tell me, I know the answer is in there.
Thanks for Everything,
What a day you three have ahead, just gnarlin’ out, soakin’ in some rays. Sad I wasn’t invited!
I’m gonna take a stab in the dark here and say that you gents aren’t locals. Travelers, perhaps? Well if you were looking to blend in, let me tell ya… you didn’t.
This is how I picture the hour or so before we crossed paths:
“Whoa dudes, we can’t show up to the beach without some water supplies! We’ll look like total kooks!” you must’ve said. With that, you could have gone to one of the many, many surf shops within 2 blocks of where this photo was taken – but that’s too easy.
“Vons!” your friend suggested. “Bingo,” you replied.
After pushing fun noodles and beach balls aside (the rookie stuff), you stumbled onto the jackpot… an inflatable, smiling, light blue shark.
Representing thousands of years of ocean dominance and striking fear into anything and everything it comes across, what could be better to ring you three in as local beachgoers? Ring that baby up at the check-out counter and hit the waves!
Carrying Sammy the Shark under your arm the same way surfers carry their boards, you three dudeskis walking up and down the beach, finding the best section of surf to get Sammy wet.
I can’t help my curiosity, but what was your plan with Sammy in the water? Watching you try to paddle out while balancing on him would be a treat. Also, were you planning on all taking turns, or trying your luck all at once? Poor Sammy’s back might give out!
Jokes aside, I admire your go-get-em attitude. Another guy out there who gives zero fucks what some A-hole local surfer might say, and just wants to hop on an inflatable, smiling, light blue shark just to feel the power of the ocean pick you up and push you all the way to shore.
Surf’s up dudes!
Have you ever felt absolute sensory overload? As in, so many thoughts, feelings and emotions hitting you all at the same time that you just want to scream, “holy shit look at that guy! He’s got nothin’ but dress shoes and a speedo on! Why is he so TAN?” … but you were so overwhelmed that all you could do was gasp and snap a quick photo?
Yeah, me too.
So many questions… I’m just gonna dive right in here:
Did you come to the bank straight from tanning? That would (partially) explain the outfit, minus the fact that it would mean you wear business shoes and socks to the beach. You’ve got the clothing version of a mullet – half party, half business. Ready for anything!
See, most men with the balls (see what I did there?) to wear a speedo anywhere but the beach might also consider sandals, even no shoes at all, to top off this ensemble. But you aren’t most men. You said, “I’m headed to the bank to get a cashier’s check for my own personal tanning bed, and I’ll be damned if I go into a place of business wearing anything less than business shoes!”
Did the outfit start off with more to it? Perhaps this is the result of a pair of breakaway pants and jacket once they’ve been broken away? Maybe you walked into the bank in a suit, and yelled “I’ve got a fat check to cash!” and tore away your entire outfit just before I came in… then casually began filling out a deposit card in your red speedo. That’d be fun.
Also, the amount of skin your jewelry covers up is nearly equal to the amount the rest of your outfit covers up… that has to be some kind of record. I like to think you were leaving the house in your speedo and dress shoes and stopped just as your hand touched your car door handle… “Wait, I’ve forgotten something,” you thought, before sprinting back inside and putting on 10 lbs of bracelets that look like they came out of a pirate’s chest. “That’s better,” you then said, confidently.
I guess Bank of America’s policy is “No shirt, business shoes, reluctant service.”
Holy hell, I don't even know where to start.
Look, I get it. We're both at Ralph's, not Whole Foods. There is no pretension, you can let your guard down and you aren't judged here, but I feel like you were abusing it a little yesterday. So it's time to judge.
You're barefoot. You sure you wanna be rockin' naked feet in the same Ralph's where I was once stopped outside and warned that a homeless man cut himself in there and there was blood on the floor? At least slap some of those almost-expired hamburger patties on the floor and stand on those. Also, hairbrush? No? Oh, okay.
I'm beating around the bush here, and I apologize for that. The glaring reason I snapped this picture is because you took one of the best things and ruined it for me. That's right, you ruined cleavage.
Thanks a lot. I thought cleavage was un-ruinable, but you proved me wrong. It took everything I had not to flick nickels into that loose change holder you've got back there. Couldn't you feel the breeze from that refrigerator thats keeping the meat cool shooting down that exposed crack? Maybe it feels nice and I'm missing out.
If others find it appealing, I'm sorry. But I would advise them against sticking their arm in there unless they want to get their arm stuck in that crevice in a 127 hours-type situation. Lord knows what else you might find down there, besides other weary traveler's severed arms. And the nickels I flicked.
Ask anyone what they’d do with a time machine and you’ll get one of two answers:
1. Play the lottery or invest in things they know will pay off big.
2. Kill Hitler.
If they answer #1, they’re selfish. If they answer #2, they’re dumb. Here’s an example:
Ben is a Coffee Bean barista and if he had a time machine, he thinks he could kill Adolf Hitler. In fact, he constantly asks others what they would do if they had a time machine, but he really only does it so he can tell them what he would do if he had a time machine.
I really enjoy Ben’s confidence.
It doesn’t cross Ben’s mind that perhaps people alive during World War II might have had the same idea. They might have been having dinner with a friend and said, “you know what? Hitler kinda sucks. Maybe we should kill that dude.”
Ben is able to put all of that aside, and even though his 2016 life is pretty bland, he’s sure that if he was alive in the 1930s he would make history. Time has been his only obstacle this whole time!
Ben thinks that if he were to go to Germany in 1935 he could walk up to thefirst guy he saw (ignoring the fact that he can’t speak an ounce of German and that his hipster mustache and skinny jeans would raise more than a few eyebrows) and simply say, “hey man, where’s Hitler at?” He’s sure he’ll get the right answer from Franz, and will probably try to Uber over to Hitler’s residence from there.
Also, don’t ask Ben questions about this plan that might poke holes in it. This upsets him very much.
But Ben, what would you kill him with? What about his bodyguards and all of that?
“I dunno man, I would just do it. Someone has to do it.”
Out of all the options available, why is sex is the action that creates a baby? Bringing a new human being into the world is probably the biggest decision you’ll make in a lifetime, and let me ask you…
How many good decisions have you made when you’re horny?
It’s not exactly an emotion that produces rational thought. We’ve all spent money we didn’t have, woken up places we wished we didn’t… not our proudest mental state, is it?
There are so many other options that would be more logical. How about a nice, thoughtful wish upon a star? A wish that sends a giant stork flapping its wings towards your home, a swaddled baby dangling from its beak. That fake story makes more sense than reality! Hell, it’d make more sense if you had to submit paperwork to The Babymakers, a company that would then approve your application and send you one. Amazon Prime could take baby delivery from nine months to two days!
Creating a new human should be like writing a business plan. It should involve a calm, rational discussion with every single item of your clothes on. Perhaps over tea.
It shouldn’t involve two horny people with insane levels of adrenaline, estrogen and testosterone. You’re basically high. You shouldn’t be allowed to operate heavy machinery, let alone create a person.
If I could go back to the birds and the bees conversation, I’d ask a lot more questions. You mean I just touch my naughty parts with a girl’s, and a baby arrives in less than a year? There aren’t any forms to fill out or anything?
Honestly, what other important life decisions do you make with a boner? I assure you I didn’t have one when I picked my major in college, forged my career path, or chose a house to live in. They were all rational, flaccid decisions.
Because I’m responsible.
Unpeel a banana, look at bruises, yell “who did this to you?”
Then point to each customer and say, “was it him? Tell me!”
To supplement my meager stand-up comedy income back in the day, I used to audition for commercials. The process was ridiculous, and often hilariously demoralizing. Here’s a true story of one of my favorites:
I walked into a room with three other guys who would be described exactly the same way as myself on paper. It was clear what the director was looking for: longhaired white guy. There were four of us in the final callback, but only one could win the grand prize: playing a ‘surfer dude’ in an upcoming Burger King commercial.
We each took a turn looking at the camera, saying our name, and answering a question the director gave out at random. After saying my name (nailed it), and telling him what my hobbies are (went with soccer, then lied about how often I surf), the director said, “and would you be willing to shave if you got this?”
I didn’t even have a full beard, more like a week or so of stubble. Willing to shave? Really? Being in a national ad campaign would pay thousands and thousands of dollars… not to mention residual checks every time it played on TV after that. I was a broke stand-up comedian. For that amount of money, I would’ve shaved my entire body right there in that room right in front of everyone.
Instead of admitting that, I decided to go with a much more subtle, “yes.”
That’s what auditioning for commercials was like — sipping a can of coke and pretending it was so delicious that you were about to have an orgasm. Taking a bite of a Carl’s Jr. Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger that had been sitting out there forever, pretending it wasn’t cold and disgusting, and spitting it up into the trashcan next to you as soon as the director yelled, “Cut!”
As we struggled to have enough space for the four of us to stand side-by-side in the tiny auditioning room, the director asked us to take our shirts off. I suppose that’s normal — guys are usually shirtless at the beach, but it still felt a little dirty. I thought this might happen, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t crank out a hundred push ups right before I left the house.
We recited a few lines the director fed us, and everything was a breeze. But then things got weird.
He asked us to get in our surfing stances, right there in the room. Four grown men pretending to surf in a tiny room with the director’s camera rolling as he played “Surfin’ USA” by the Beach Boys through a laptop. How do you compete here? Can you really out-surf anyone on solid ground?
“Paddle!” the director shouted. The other three guys didn’t hesitate, dropping to their stomachs, still shirtless, and pretending to paddle on the carpeted floor
I so desperately wanted to say, “screw this” and walk out with the moral high ground. But I thought about the money again, and how low my bank account was at the time, and I was soon on my stomach, dragging my hands across the carpet along with the rest of them.
I never got a call back, and I never actually saw that commercial on TV… just a fond memory of me and three other dudes pretending to surf in a tiny room for several men and a video camera. Nothing weird about that!
I took my wife out recently (Applebee’s), and there was a three-year-old boy in the booth next to us, standing on his seat and staring at me through the glass partition. He didn’t blink for minutes on end. I think he saw my soul.
You’ve been caught staring before, right? I’ve been caught hundreds of timesover the years… an attractive woman, a dude with a mullet on purpose, a homeless guy pretending a banana is a gun, etc.
When that person turns and catches you, what do you do? I’m guessing you look away and pretend you weren’t staring like a creep. Not this kid…
He didn’t flinch when I looked back at him. There wasn’t an ounce of “I better look somewhere else” in his bones. Dude was on a mission to figure me out, and couldn’t be stopped.
Can you imagine doing that as an adult?
Imagine seeing an attractive person in a booth next to you at Applebee’s (pretty easy, as it only exists in your imagination). Now imagine they look over at the same time and you unintentionally lock eyes for a second.
But this time, instead of looking away, you did what this three-year-old did and JUST. KEPT. STARING.
Do they dig your confidence, or call the authorities? I dunno, I’m way too married (and too much of a wimp) to try.
That’s the difference between that kid and us adults. We’re self-conscious, and society hasn’t beaten that into him yet. He hasn’t worn a pink t-shirt to school and had someone call him gay, or had a group of kids point and laugh at how big his belly button is during swim class (these aren’t personal references, okay?). Right now, he’s pure.
As I finished off my shrimp scampi linguine, I got a little jealous of his fearlessness. Is this kid more secure than I am? Regardless, I kind of liked the fact he chose me as his muse. I was flattered that he thought I was so interesting.
Then my wife, facing the other way, pointed out a cute little four-year-old girl on the side of the booth she was facing. The three-year-old boy had been looking at this little girl the whole time — he didn’t give a shit about me.
And that’s when my self-consciousness kicked in.
Two weeks ago I wrote a post called You Can’t Kill Hitler, poking fun at people who think they could easily kill him if they had a time machine. It sparked some insanely passionate, detailed theories as to how someone could pull it off… I mean these people really did their homework — one guy even outlined an entire screenplay about it!
The most common theory was to kill Hitler before he gained any political power and had any bodyguards. “Baby Hitler,” as he was often referred to in responses I received. Let’s think that one through as well…
So Ben the Coffee Bean barista has a new plan… he’s going to go back to 1890, when Adolf Hitler was just a year old. He still doesn’t speak any German, and his skinny jeans and hipster mustache raise even MORE eyebrows.
Ben walks around yelling, in English mind you, “have you seen a baby named Adolf?!” Yeah, that should get him somewhere. No one would call the cops and have them arrest this crazy person…
But let’s take that out of the equation, and say that Ben did some research before his time travels, and was able to hunt down Baby Hitler’s childhood address and navigate his way over there.
Now Ben has to wait until Mr. and Mrs. Hitler are gone, and straight-up murder a baby. Does that sound easy to you? Granted, this guy grows up to be one of the most evil people humanity has ever seen, but right now he’s a giggling, pants-pooping, drooling little baby. No tiny mustache, no discernable evil just yet. How is Ben gonna do it?
But we’ll even take THAT out of the equation and say that Ben was able to compartmentalize himself, and simply focus on the fact that this one baby murder can save millions and millions of lives down the road. He does it, and though it was incredibly difficult, he feels proud.
Well, as it turns out, 1890s Germans aren’t big fans of baby murder. Ben is locked up in an old German prison for life. “But you don’t understand… that wasn’t any old baby, that was Adolf Hitler!” This means nothing to anyone. He isn’t a hero to anyone past or present, as Hitler would have no notoriety at any point in history anymore. Ben the baby murderer is a hero, but no one will ever know it.
Creative writing is easy and anyone can do it. All you have to do is follow these simple steps:
Form a Brilliant Idea
Perform menial tasks… shampoo your hair, sit in traffic, etc. That’s when the magic happens. The most unique, incredible idea you’ve ever had will hit you like a ton of bricks. How has no one else ever thought of this before?
Feel The Adrenaline Surge
Your heart will beat through your chest as you dash to your laptop. Your fingers won’t be able to keep up with the flurry of ideas pouring out. This has to get out of your brain, onto paper, and out to the people as fast as possible. The world needs this!
Get So, So Close
When you get about two-thirds of the way through, your wrists will start to cramp up and your brain will come down from its original high. You’ll try everything: coffee, tea, writing outdoors, then back indoors. None of it will help. Twist your wrists around to loosen them up as you feel the well of ideas start to dry up.
Come to A Screeching Halt
You’ll search desperately for the perfect conclusion — a conclusion as strong as this brilliant idea deserves. It won’t come. You’ve hit the wall — face first.How the hell is this thing going to end?
Re-read what you’ve written somewhere between 147 and 2 million times.Focus on one sentence in particular for hours on end. Contemplate giving up entirely. This part is important: doubt your ability as a writer in general, and consider other job options. Think about how great it would be to work as a Subway sandwich artist instead. Think about how they get to just clock out and leave their work behind at the end of the day. That must be nice.
Now stare at your computer, not blinking for minutes on end, while adding nothing to the page. Is this idea even any good? Why would anyone give a shit about this?
Get Really, Really Proud of Yourself
Somehow, someway, you finish it. Stare at it proudly. Send it to a couple of trusted friends for their input. They’ll love it. You are now armed with the confidence to offer your brilliant, creative gift to the world. Send it out and crack a beer in a huge sigh of relief. Hell yeah.
Flip the Fuck Out
Now that you’ve had a little break from it, why not give your piece another read? It seems like people are enjoying it. Money back guarantee: You’ll find a glaring spelling error — on a sentence you had read 235,943 times. Flip your desk over in a fit of rage and start throwing anything you can get your hands on.
Await Next Brilliant Idea
Rinse. Lather. Repeat.