Is the Grass Really Greener on The Other Side?

The grass is greener on the other side. People say it all the time. They also say ‘the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.’ It depends on who is saying it, really, and what kind of spot they are in. Which I get, but it’s all got me a little confused. What side is greener? I want clarity. I need clarity. So I’ve set up a little interview. Well, an interview of sorts. The party of interest only agreed to do it on the terms of me not being physically present, and me also recording myself jumping up and down on one foot while eating an entire pineapple. Strange, I know, but I’ve been wanting to get this guy’s thoughts for some time now, so it was an easy decision. Let’s get weird. Now, thanks to my compliance of the terms and a certain shameless act, I’ve got an audio recording of  The Other Side talking about what the grass is like over there. So here it is, raw, and unedited.

I can’t believe he did it. I can’t believe he actually sent me that video. When I told Devon I’d only agree to do this if he’d send me a video of himself jumping up and down on one leg eating a pineapple, I thought there’s no way. No self respecting human would do such a thing. Especially at the request of something like me (I can say that about myself). I mean, I would have done it anyway. It’s not like my schedule is super busy. In fact, Devon is the first human person to try to talk to meeverso I kind of feel bad for making him do it. But then again, I don’t feel that bad. It’s just too funny. My friends are gonna love it. Anyway, enough about that, let’s go ahead and jump right in to the meat of the matter, shall we?

So, what’s the grass like? Well, to be honest, it’s green. Like super green. Like if a Colorado pine tree got together with um, I don’t know, like another really green thing and had little grass babies and those babies went on to grow up and have babies with a thing that was greener than that first thing I described, then that’s about the green you would see. So yeah, quite green.

Now, before anybody accuses me of trying to say their life would be better if they’d do this other thing or that thing, or would have chosen another career twenty years ago, or something like that, let me say this: that’s just the physical description of the grass over here. It’s not any kind of metaphor for life, it’s merely a fact. The grass is super green. Especially with all the rain we’ve been getting lately. I mean no offense by what I say, and I’m not trying to get super deep about life or tell you how to live the best one. I’m just relaying information. Pure and simple. Cool?

Okay then. Well, that’s basically that. I know, kind of short. Kind of… kind of, to the point, I guess you’d say. But it’s the answer I have. Plus, I’m not a personor really a thing that exists, for that matterso what more do you want from me?

The Seriousness of Co-ed Softball

To some, co-ed softball is fun. An opportunity to spend time with friends, maybe co-workers, and share a few laughs and cheer each other on. Which is funny. Some people obviously don’t know how serious co-ed softball is.

If you’re looking to play co-ed softball for the “fun of it,” or to “have a good time,” you’re doing it for the wrong reasons (might I suggest co-ed kitten petting? Or everybody gets a medal for smiling?). Co-ed softball isn’t fun. It’s about winning. It’s about being better than the people you are playing against, who are probably out there because they want to have fun. You’re supposed to want to crush dreams out there. Make somebody’s day a little bit worse because you’re beating them seventeen to zero and it’s only the third inning. If anybody tells you otherwise, they’re not somebody you want on your team. It’s as simple as that.

Still, I see it all the time. Teams not being as serious as they should. Laughing. Not watching the game. Conversing about things other than how they’re going to approach Tina, the stud third-baseman from the other team who has been killing them at the plate with two doubles and a triple, in her next plate appearance (can you believe that?). It’s all rather cringe-worthy. But, at the same time, I see them and know that’s an easy W later in the season. I’ll take it.

It’s not always black and white, though. Sometimes teams look like they are there to play. Have a couple of guys and gals who look relatively athletic, even. It makes me feel a little weird inside, almost unsure about myself, but then I look harder and see some clear signs to their lack of seriousness and feel better once again. What am I seeing, exactly? A few things.

For starters, the team doesn’t have a single softball specific bag. A couple of gym bags, but those don’t even have a compartment for spare batting gloves or a can of chewing tobacco. Which is embarrassing enough, but that’s not all. They also only have one bat. ONE BAT. For the entire team. They pass it around and share it like Deb shared her birthday cake at last week’s office party, insisting everybody got a piece before I had my fourth. At this point, it goes without saying they don’t have batting gloves. I mean, how can anybody on that team expect to hit a ball over the fence, let alone out of the infield, when they have to do it with their bare hands, like they live in 1872 or something. It’s sad, to be honest. But I guess the world needs a few gazelles for tigers like me.

With that said, I’ll take this time to address a question I get all the time: if you’re so serious, why don’t you play in the “competitive” division? Which is, in my opinion, a pretty silly question. But I’ll go ahead and answer it anyway. Simply put, I want the wins. I need the wins. I don’t care how that comes across, it’s a winners mentality. You’re not going to get anywhere in co-ed softball—or life, for that matter, because the two are pretty interchangeable—if you don’t have it. Sure, I could play in the “competitive” division and challenge myself, probably play in a few close games and maybe even come across some people who are better than me. Scratch that, nobody is better than me. But somebody might get lucky and beat me, and I can’t chance that. I want to win and no, I’m definitely not insecure or anything.

Simply put, co-ed softball isn’t a game—it’s war. Are some people going to say I’m being too intense, or I need to chill out and take a good hard look in the mirror about what’s going on inside? Probably. But then again, those people haven’t won the co-ed championship four years in a row and been threatened to be kicked out of the league for throwing dirt in the umpires face, have they? Didn’t think so. And being anybody other than that isn’t somebody I want to be.

A Conversation Between Forgotten Clothes

Wash clothes.

Forget about clothes.

Remember clothes next day.

Rewash clothes.

Forget about clothes.

It’s a vicious cycle. Maybe you put the clothes in the wash late at night and fell asleep before the cycle was complete. Maybe you got to doing something else, or nothing at all, and simply forgot about them. Or maybe you got invited to dinner with Cher. Whatever the reason may be (but mostly because you just forget), it seems to happen more than it should. But have you ever thought about what the clothes are saying while you’re away? Especially after so easily forgetting about them? As if they mean nothing to you? Like they’re a worthless bag of paper shavings? Neither have I. At least, I hadn’t, until my most recent mishap. That’s when I got to thinking. And, well, the result is the conversation that probably happens between articles of clothing when you forget them in the wash. Be warned, though, it might not be entirely clean.

[1 minute A.C.C. (After Cycle Completion)]

Sock: I’ll never get tired of how refreshing that is.

Underwear: That spin cycle was a bit of a doozy though.

Shirt: Yep.

Pants: Yep.

[5 minutes A.C.C.]

Sock: Hmm, it’s been a few minutes. I wonder what’s keeping the human? Oh well, we can wait a little longer!

Underwear: I’m pretty sure this is how humans feel when they step out of the shower before grabbing a towel. It’s terrible.

Shirt: Speaking of Towel, where is he today?

Pants: I heard from Scarf that the human forgot him in the bathroom. Left out to dry, as they say.

Shirt: Pity.

Pants: Indeed.

[20 minutes A.C.C.]

Underwear: I don’t get it. It’s not that hard. Put us in the wash. Set a timer. Or just don’t forget—there’s a concept for you, you two armed, two legged, old rake! And then transfer us to the dryer. It’s so easy my mother could do it—and she’s a thong!

Shirt: Oh get your panties out of a wad.

Pants: Nice.

Sock: Easy now, guys! We’re all friends here!

[1 hour A.C.C.]

Underwear: Are those footsteps?

Sock: Keep it together, man! You’re losing it!

Underwear: No, I’m serious. I think I hear footsteps. WE’RE IN HERE YOU TREACHEROUS SWINE!

Shirt: He’s lost it.

Pants: To be fair, he does spend a bunch of his time face to face with human private parts.

Shirt: Good point. I bet he’s seen some stuff.

[2 hours A.C.C.]


Sock: Come on, Underwear! We need you to hold it together! Everything’s going to be fine! We’re all going to be fine! [cries a little. Or maybe just has something in its eye]

Shirt: Where does he get his insults?

Pants: I don’t know. They’re pretty… shitty.

Shirt: [laughs] Nice.

Pants: Too much?

Shirt: No, I don’t think so. Well played.

[5 hours A.C.C.]

Sock: You know what, maybe Underwear’s on to something. Maybe the human’s not who we thought he was. Maybe the world isn’t such a pleasant place where everything works out the way it’s supposed to because you try your best and play by the rules.

Shirt: We’re losing Sock.

Pants: I know. Soon he’ll be… in-toe-lerable.

Shirt: [laughs] touche.


[24 hours A.C.C.]



Shirt: Hey, Pants, what do you think Sock’s favorite sandwich is?

Pants: I don’t know. Probably something without cheese. He seems like a guy that would try to save some calories by not getting cheese.

Shirt: I could see that. Either way, I bet he always gets a footlong.

Pants: [laughs] Nice.

[26 hours A.C.C.] — [Door opens]

Sock: We’re saved! There is a God!


Shirt: Wait a second. Is that what I think it is?

Pants: It is. Hang on, everybody.

[Human tosses in detergent, starts cycle again]

Sock: [voice quivering] I don’t know if I can go through that again…

Pants: It’s like we’re in some weird shampoo twilight zone.

Shirt: What?

Pants: Rinse, wash, repeat.

Shirt: [laughs] Nice.

Underwear: F@$K.

9 Little Victories

Big victories are cool, too. This isn’t me trying to diminish those achievements, and if you just got a new position as NASA, congrats. Very cool stuff. Can you talk to someone for me? I’d just like a tour. You know, see a rocket or two. Talk to some people. And who knows, if all goes well, maybe it could lead to a position in the human relations department because the chemistry between the staff and I would almost surely be out of this world. But I digress.

Back to the point. Little victories are all around us. In fact, if you look hard enough, they happen every single day. Some days you need to look harder than others, but I assure you, they are still there. So this is me acknowledging a few of the little things that have an ability to make a day, turn a day around, or simply make a day a little better. String enough of ‘em together and, well, life will start to look pretty sweet.

1. Putting together a lawn mower. Sure, it was an easy assembly, just unfold it and screw in a few nuts and bolts type of thing, but still. You put it together. It doesn’t matter if it started or not.

2. Finding a roll of toilet paper when you thought there wasn’t any left at a time you needed it the most.

3. Getting green lights all the way home from work. OK, that last green light had been red for a fraction of a second and you might have held up traffic a little while also giving one domesticated badger the scare of his life, but in the end nobody was hurt.

4. Getting a hug from somebody you care about. If it was from your significant other who you told not to touch you because they had just showered and were soaking wet and you were wearing your nice work clothes, even better.

5. Finding a pair of matching socks in the dryer.

6. Installing a doggie door on the proper end of the door. You know, the one closest to the floor. It may not sound like a big deal, but a couple of days ago you installed one on the wrong end of the door. You know, the one closest to the ceiling.

7. Buying a candy bar at the store for $2.57, which you find to be a bit steep, but you go for it anyway because you want it and it’s going to be tasty and, quite frankly, you deserve it. When you pull out your wallet to pay, you see a few dollar bills hanging out in the weird—typically vacant—space that they fit so perfectly in. Wait a second, you see you have change too. Two quarters, a nickel, and two pennies, to be exact. Oh my gosh! That means you can pay with your three bills and handful of coins and actually get one bill in return. So not only do you not have to swipe a card, but you get rid of the heavy metal rattling around in your wallet and get one new, crisp dollar bill back. (If that doesn’t do it for you, you did get a candy bar.)

8. Hearing a song you like on the radio. You don’t usually listen to the radio, but lately you have been because you took your iPod or whatever it is you listen to music on out of the car because you wanted to start running. You ran once. Now it seems you have misplaced the music playing device. So really you have no choice but to listen to the radio. Which, on this occasion, works out well, because you hear a song you actually like.

9. Making someone smile.

(Authors note: One of my favorite books is Little Victories by Jason Gay, a sports columnist for The Wall Street Journal. This isn’t me trying to rip Jason off, or pay homage to, or anything like that. The article stands on its own. Or at least slouches. However, I didn’t want it to look like I was trying to pull a fast one, so I figured I’d make a note of it. This is that. Also, if you’re looking for your next book, you could do a lot worse than Little Victories.]

I’m Man, I Go Hunting

A couple of years ago, my soon to be brother-in-law (who, for the sake of this story, I’ll now refer to as Jerome) took me turkey hunting. He’d been asking if I wanted to go and, not having much of an excuse and hoping for an experience, I said sure.

Now, here’s a thing about me: I’m not much of a hunter. For perspective, when I was little—say, nine or ten—my brother and I begged our Mom if we could attempt to bag some squirrels with a BB gun. They were rampant in our yard, and her thinking we wouldn’t get anywhere near one, she gave us the go ahead. I won’t go in to detail about what happened next, but know things didn’t end well for one unfortunate squirrel. Or my brother, who I had shamelessly abandoned as our stern next door neighbor approached us to see what we were doing (we tracked the squirrel to his yard). It all still bothers me to this day. It was also my only prior hunting experience. Nevertheless, I thought I’d give it another shot.

We met at his house early in the morning one weekend (which also happened to be the last day of turkey season). I slapped on some extra camouflaged clothes he had, all of it a size too big, and we jumped in the car and took off.

The sun rose.

Fast forward a few hours and we found ourselves driving down a forgotten road, wondering where all the turkeys had been. We’d spent a full morning roaming fields and we hadn’t even pulled the trigger once. In fact, our biggest rush had been seeing a turkey in the distance, only to realize it wasn’t a turkey at all but really just a mound of dirt. Was this all our hunting experience was going to be?

We pulled into a dirt parking lot. Within an hour the turkey season would close. Which meant we had two choices. One, keep going. Stay positive. Give it our all until there wasn’t any time left on the clock, like a couple of five-year-olds playing basketball until the final buzzer even though they were losing seventy-eight to zero. Or two, pack it in. Tired and defeated, we chose option two. One more hour wouldn’t do us any good. Not at this rate any way. Not in our current mental state. We’d just chalk it up to what it was—rotten luck and some really convincing dirt—and try to do better next time. But then, just as we were about to take off, a car pulled up next to us.

He began talking to Jerome. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but the manner in which they were speaking suggested something of a rapport. I even began to question whether they knew each other prior to this. Maybe they shot pool together on weekends or got into some trouble back in Mrs. Clancy’s class in third grade. Maybe they met at a Green Day concert. Or maybe—and this was a stretch—they didn’t know each other at all.

As it turns out they didn’t know each other at all. The man was just enjoying the last day of turkey season with his son, who was in the passenger seat, and thought he’d tell us about some turkeys they saw earlier in the day (I guess it looked like we could use the help). Said he could show us where they were if we liked? “Hell yeah!” we said. Or at least Jerome did. I was still having a hard time believing those two didn’t at least play in a bowling league together.

The four of us got out of our cars. The man with a shotgun. Jerome with a shotgun. The man’s 12-year-old son with a shotgun. Me with binoculars.

Now, I’m pretty comfortable not being the manliest of men in a group. But there’s something about being the only guy hunting in a group without a gun, especially when one of those guys isn’t old enough to ride a go-cart by himself and your holding binoculars, that really makes you question what kind of man you are. To be fair though, there was a reason I was without a gun. I didn’t have a license. And if you got caught carrying a gun without such a credential, well, it was punishable by death. Most likely. However, if we got close enough to shoot a turkey, Jerome said he’d pass me his gun and I’d take the shot anyway.

With our man-hierarchy clearly established—random guy, Jerome, 12-year-old, flower on the side of the road, me—we took off into the woods. We walked a good half mile before coming to a stop. From here we would go our separate ways. The man told us about two options, both of which had turkeys, one being as close to a sure thing as possible. Being the class act that he was—or seeing us as a couple of guys who could use a win—the man let us choose. He and his son would take the option we didn’t want. Needless to say, we took the sure thing. We very much could use the win.

He said there were a couple of turkeys just minutes away. However, after walking just minutes we were no better off than we had been before. If anything, things were getting worse. Not only had we not seen a turkey, but we hadn’t even seen a convincing mound of dirt. Nevertheless, we pushed on. Surely the man knew what he was talking about and wasn’t just messing with us for giggles, seeing us as a couple of saps who probably got mustard on their shirt when they ate a hot dog. Or at least we hoped.

Rain began to fall. Not hard, but enough to drive a man insane under the right circumstances. With morale fading, and quick, we began discussing the very real possibility that there weren’t going to be any turkeys. Maybe the man and his son had duped us (what did we know about them after all?). Maybe the turkeys were there earlier but had since moved on. Maybe the turkeys and the man had been in on it together from the beginning, monitoring our every movement, watching us on a big screen somewhere, laughing, eating buttery popcorn. But then, as our last shreds of hope were fading, we saw something in the distance. It looked like a turkey.

But it was too far away to be certain. It could have just as easily been another convincing mound of dirt. Fortunately, I had a high-powered, all-action, man device that could help us determine the truth. My binoculars.

Peering through the lenses I saw two turkeys (they did exist! The guy wasn’t duping us! No we weren’t weeping in each other’s arms!). Probably three hundred yards or so across a field, hugging a tree line. Definitely too far away to take any kind of shot, but close enough to give us hope and a plan. We’d sneak around the backside of the trees and see if we could come up behind them. If not, we’d improvise.

We had to improvise. The plan hadn’t gone to, well, plan. The turkeys were savvy; almost certainly watching on a big screen somewhere with the man and his son. As such, I found myself army crawling through the mud and high grass, doing my best to quietly get out of the mini forest so I could start running like a maniac on the other side. That way, if the turkeys tried to flee in that direction, they’d be spooked into going back the other way, where Jerome would be waiting to take the shot. It was the best we could come up with.

With the rain falling like little cannon balls, I took off sprinting, binoculars in hand, having absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was hunting in its purest form. I ran the length of the tree line, waiting to hear a shot. But the shot never came. Jerome arrived to our meeting point and told me the turkeys had alluded us once again; scampered away as if they had been given inside information, recording us on little turkey cell phones and sending snap chats to their buddies all the while. It was deflating.

The story dwindles out from there. At that point we knew the day was over. There would be no turkeys had. Heck, we weren’t even going to fire a single shot. The turkeys had simply gotten the better of us on the day. So we trudged back to the car, however far away it was, clothes soaked, pride in shambles, binoculars in my hand.

It’s Me, Your Good Friend, Alarm Clock

It’s me, your good friend, alarm clock. It’s time to wake up. No, seriously, you have to get up now. You told me so. Wake up, please. If you don’t wake up soon I’m going to have to get nasty. Wake up. Wake up. WAKE UP YOU FILTHY PIECE OF GARBAGE!

Oh, seven more minutes? Why didn’t you just say so? Of course you can have more time! But no more than you tell me. I don’t want to have to get nasty again, but I will. And we both know I’ve said much worse than filthy piece of garbage. Remember the day after your twenty-first?

I know; I take my job seriously. And to somebody on the outside looking in I probably come across as being a bit… well, overbearing. But it’s only because I care. Do you think your mother would let you skip that day of work or important interview or early morning workout? No. She wouldn’t. And neither will I! Even if that means you despise me or throw me into a wall or smother me in your pillow like you did last week. (We have fun, don’t we?)

I think it stems from my upbringing. Me being punctual. You see, when I was a little alarm clock, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… HA! I only kid. But seriously. When I was a little alarm clock, back before smart phones even, my parents gave me a few responsibilities—chores, if you will. And one of those chores was to make breakfast for all my siblings. So every morning, come rain or shine, full battery or low battery, I’d get up at 5:30. On the dot. Because people were relying on me and I said I would. It’s no different now. When somebody tells me to get them up at a certain time, I do, because, in a way, they’re my family too. 

I don’t know, maybe I’m getting too sentimental. Maybe I’m just a control freak. Maybe I have a little OCD and you not doing what you’re supposed to when you’re supposed to do it, like I am, really rubs me the wrong way. Whatever it may be, one thing is for sure: come the time you tell me to be there, I’ll be there. Even if you don’t want me to be. Even if you accidentally hit snooze instead of turning off the alarm out of habit because you’ve worked twenty days in a row and now you have a day off and can sleep more than five hours (whoops!). I’ll always be there, whispering in your ear. Shouting if necessary.

There’s this line in a movie I really like, and I think it describes me to a tee. I’ve made a few revisions, but here it is. You might recognize it: he’s not our hero. He’s a loud guardian, a watchful protector. A dark alarm clock.

Fitting, right? Oh, would you look at the time? Almost seven minutes already! That came around fast. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun.

It’s me, your good friend, alarm clock. It’s time to wake up…

The Power of Anticipation

Imagine being in a box just big enough to sit in. Now imagine sitting in that box for an extended period of time. That, in a nutshell, is what road trips are like. And yet, it’s something that a lot of us are compelled to do.

Yes, road trips are often just a means to an end. A way—often the easiest, most economical—to get from point A to point B. And yes, for much of the time, road trips are kind of like banging your head into a locker, with your only relief being an old burrito from a gas station in the middle of nowhere. But when you look back on a road trip, there’s often a longing feeling that makes you want to do it again.

Why is that? A few reasons, I think. But perhaps none are more influential to the allure of a road trip than the feeling of anticipation it brings. When you’re in a car for hours on end, one thing you always have, no matter how far away or how close you are, is the idea of the end destination and what awaits you there. It’s what gets you through the long, monotonous hours on the interstate. It’s what makes driving through crazy, crowded downtowns a little more tolerable. It’s what gives you energy even though you haven’t been able to sleep more than a few hours over the last day and a half. And it’s what makes that old gas station burrito more delicious than filet mignon.

This certain power of anticipation isn’t limited to road trips, either. Take school, for instance. Whatever level it is—high school, college, graduate school, etc.—there’s always an underlying feeling of anticipation. Anticipation to complete a test, or a class, or a program, so you can move on to something better, whether that’s more school or finding yourself in a position to get paid. And it doesn’t stop there. This feeling of anticipation, this source of motivation and excitement, is in everything we do. School. Work. Social life. Road trips. Whatever. It’s what makes us work harder, study more, check the clock 86 times during the last hour of work, prepare a checklist for that trip to Europe seven months in advance and maybe learn French too, and more.

And that’s because we’re perpetually excited about better days. Better job. Better salary. Better relationships. Better conversations. Better car. Better life. It’s human nature. But it’s not just the end destination we’re excited about. We’re excited about the idea of the end destination, and the belief that whatever it is is going to be better than what we’re doing right now.

Here’s another example. It’s the last hour of work. You’re in a meeting. It’s kind of pointless (that’s not to say all work meetings are pointless, just most of them). And to make things worse, it’s dull. But, after the meeting you do get off work. And after work you do have the co-ed slow pitch softball championship that you’ve been looking forward to ever since you beat the Chiseled Koala’s in last week’s semi-final. Needless to say, the anticipation is all but killing you at this point. As such, you spend an entire hour daydreaming/visualizing possible scenarios the evening could take. All of them ending with you as the hero, of course. Maybe it’s a walk off grand slam—yeah, probably a walk off grand slam. Or maybe it’s a heroic catch in center field that nobody else could have made, definitely not David, who claims to be the best player on the team. Or maybe you do both at the same time. You’re not sure how that’d work, but you could probably pull it off. And then, just like that, you look at the clock and see an hour has passed and the meeting is over. It flew by. You even had a good time, too!

The anticipation of getting to where you’re going brings excitement—hope, even. It makes everything better. Both tough times and good times alike. Now, will the softball game live up to its lofty expectations? In this case, almost certainly not  (David’s just too good not to be the hero; the guy goes to the batting cages on his lunch break, for goodness sake!). In others, hopefully. No matter how the end destination plays out though, one thing is for sure: anticipation always adds to the life experience. Without it, days would be a little duller, people would work a little less hard, and life, in general, wouldn’t be as exciting. And that, in my book, is a win.

Sound the Alarm

I walked to the backside of my car and unlocked the trunk with the key, successfully triggering the alarm. Great. I’m that guy.

Still, an accidental car alarm is nothing more than a slight inconvenience. Kind of like sitting down to eat an omelette you spent twenty minutes on only to be told by your significant other that he or she forgot their drink in the living room and wouldn’t you be a doll and get it for them? After all, all I would need to do is hit unlock on the key fob and the alarm would turn off, and I’d be free of dirty looks from strangers in the parking lot.

I hit unlock. Nothing. I tried it again. Nothing. I tried it once more, punching it with the force of a guy who’s starting to lose his cool. Nothing. Heads were starting to turn. Or at least I thought they were. Even worse, they weren’t the heads of random strangers. They were the heads of kids’ parents I coach, most of whom I’d never formally met. Seeing my inability to turn off a simple car alarm, I’m sure they were beginning to question my ability to shape their kids’ young soccer minds. “I bet he has a tough time reciting the alphabet, too,” they probably said to one another.

But then a strange thing happened and my car alarm turned off. For no apparent reason. It was as if the car had decided that the minute it sounded was more than enough time to alert the good guys that the bad guys were attempting to steal it. Good in this situation, bad in almost any other situation. Oh well. I wasn’t going to over think it. I could use the break and the car was old enough to make its own decisions.

I unlocked the driver door with the key, successfully triggering the alarm once again. Perfect.

I ripped my keys out of the door and went through the same sequence as earlier, pressing the unlock key, getting no response. I was growing increasingly agitated with each passing second. I circled the car, trying different doors, holding my hands up in self defense to all who could see (doing my best to suggest it was the car, not me, and that I’m competent enough to know how to turn off an alarm and also make a good bowl of ramen noodles), all the while pressing the unlock button like a guy who’s flipping through the TV channels as fast as possible.

Then the alarm turned off. As it had before, for no apparent reason. At that point I put two plus two together and determined my car simply would not sound the alarm for more than a minute. If any bad guy was willing to stick it out longer than that, fair enough. Take the car. You earned it. I enjoyed this thought for a moment and then realized something: the driver side door was now unlocked. This could be my big break!

I approached the door cautiously—as if sneaking up on a sleeping gorilla (but only because we were friends, and he was running late for his afternoon shift at Target). I gently placed my hand on the handle and pulled.

The alarm went off for a third time. My heart sank. I desperately tried the same bag of tricks, hoping—wishing—that this time things would be different. They weren’t. After about a minute, the alarm turned off once more, and I was in exactly the same spot. Not wanting to go through that again, at least, not while some of the parents were still in attendance, I left my car and went into the nearest building. I’ll just wait hear for a while, I thought.

Some time passed. I’m not sure how much time, but I feel reasonably confident in saying I could have juiced a few oranges in the time that did pass, which I assumed was enough time to let the parents finish up their conversations and get out of there. I walked back to my car, seeing that my suspicions were correct. The parents were gone. That solves one problem, at least.

Not knowing what else to do, and wanting to get out of the cold drizzle (Did I mention it was raining a little? No? Well it was. I was wearing mesh shoes. It wasn’t ideal.), I opened the driver door and took a seat. As expected, the alarm went off. But at least it was going off with me sitting inside it this time. And, after about a minute, the alarm quit. If nothing else the alarm was punctual. I could respect that.

Running out of ideas, I called my brother—the tech savvy/car savvy one of the two of us. If I have a car problem, he’s who I call. If I have a computer problem, say, I can’t convert a Word document to Pages or I want to know if it’s possible to be scammed by a guy on the phone who’s probably in another country but you gave him access to your desktop because you thought he was a nice guy, he’s who I call. I explained the problem to him, making sure to give plenty of detail. He seemed stumped.

A few moments passed and then he asked if I’d tried to start the car now that I was inside. I chuckled. Such a naive thing to say. Of course I’d tried to start the car. Or, I mean, at least I did when the car alarm was going off. But the little red flashing security light was still pulsating, so surely that was the same thing. But still, I’ll humor him, I thought. Get this out of the way so we can move on to solving the actual problem. However, there would be no further problem solving because a funny thing happened and the car started. I simply put the key into the ignition and turned.

Who would have thought.

Quiz: How Bro Are You?

Chances are, you’ve been affected by a bro in some way, shape, or form. And if you haven’t personally been affected by a bro, almost surely somebody you know or care about has. They’re everywhere—the gym, your class, the gym, a street corner, the gym. And their numbers are only growing. You may think they’re annoying and obnoxious, or you may admire their spirit. But, did you know, almost everybody has a little bro in them? (Yes, even you ladies!) Some more than others, of course, like the handful of guys you saw in the back of the grocery store having a push-up competition and slamming gallons of milk, only to slam cheap beer after that. But almost all of us are at least a little bro. To see just how bro you are, take the yes or no quiz below! At the end, tally up the yeses and see where you fall on the bro spectrum. Good luck!

1. Do you lift weights? Yes or No

2. Do you wear a T-shirt that has the sleeves cut off to lift weights? Yes or No

3. Do you spend time at work outlining your workout, perhaps in an excel spreadsheet? Yes or No

4. Do you pound a protein shake after you lift weights? Yes or No. If yes, do you use two scoops or more? Yes or No.

5. Have you ever skipped leg day at the gym for another round of chest and tri’s? Yes or No

6. Do you prioritize protein over pizza? Yes or No

7. Have you ever said, “Can you shave my back, bro?” Yes or No

8. Have you ever yelled in frustration after not successfully bench pressing a certain weight? Yes or No

9. Do you consider a chin strap sweet? Yes or No

10. Do you call girls bro? Yes or No

11. Have you ever called your mom bro? Yes or No (two points for answering yes)

12. Do you shave your chest more than twice a week? Yes or No

13. When starting a meaningful conversation, is the first word you say “bro”? Yes or No

14. Do you know what GTL means? Yes or No

15. Have you ever consumed more than five Natural Light’s (Natty’s) in one sitting? Yes or No

16. Do you prefer a red solo cup over a coffee mug? Yes or No

17. Have you had your tips frosted in the last year? Yes or No

18. Have you ever asked someone whether or not you should frost your tips? Yes or No

19. Do you know what frosted tips are? Yes or No

20. Have you ever eaten two or more McDoubles in the parking lot of your gym because you needed the extra protein before a lift? Yes or No

21. Is your favorite color salmon? Yes or No

Yeses: 1-7 — Level of bro: low

What this says about you: you’re the most understated of bros. When people see you on the street they see artist, doctor, teacher, bar tender, waiter/waitress, runner, gardener, nice guy/gal—not bro. And that’s probably how you see yourself, too. But deep down you’re a little bro. Not bro enough to put a protein scoop in your Saturday morning beer, but bro enough to probably go to the gym a couple of times a week or know what frosted tips are.

Yeses: 8-14 — Level of bro: medium

What this says about you: you’re a middle-of-the-road bro. You’re aware of your bro-like tendencies, but it doesn’t make up your whole identity. Sometimes you may look and act a lot like a bro, and other times you may not look and act like a bro at all. In your mind, a pleasant day could just as easily be a hike in the woods as it could be fist pumping to something by Cascade in a dark room with seven other guys/gals. You probably also find salmon as an attractive color.

Yeses: 15-23 — Level of bro: high

What this says about you: you’re the ultimate bro. When people think of “bro”, you’re what they see—say, a guy or gal sitting on the bench press longer than they need to, or somebody hanging out on a street corner lawn that has a sign reading, “You honk, we drink.” At this point, being a bro is more than just Saturday football tailgates or sharing another bro’s Sperry’s or asking another bro if they need help shaving their back—it’s who you are.

An Ode to Road Trips

I recently drove from Springfield, Missouri to Key West, Florida with my Mom, Fiance, and brother. It took approximately 24 hours. Regrettable things were said. Poor choices were made. Too much greasy food was eaten. And time, more often than not, passed as though the minute hand had a bum ankle (he wasn’t exactly Usain Bolt to begin with). And yet, I had a blast.

I’ve always liked road trips. Even when I hated them. There’s just something compelling about it. Sure, a large part of it is the anticipation of where you’re going and what you’re going to do there—the snowy mountains you’re going to ski, the beaches you’re going to sit at and do nothing at all, the friends and family you’re going to see, the alcoholic beverages with little umbrellas you’re going to down by the fistful because it’s all inclusive and cousin Marty paid for the trip anyway. But it’s more than that. It’s the actual driving part, too. Or at least how you fill your time while driving.

What’s one of the biggest complaints or excuses people have today? Being too busy. Too busy to read that book that’s been sitting on the coffee table since two Christmases ago. Too busy to write. Too busy to work on that one project you’ve been wanting to do forever but haven’t been able to find the time (knitting a sweater, making space boots for little cousin Jimmy’s Halloween costume but it’s not really for little cousin Jimmy it’s for you because space boots are cool and Halloween is too and you know what back off me!, etc.). Too busy to do this. Too busy to do that. Well, guess what? On a road trip, you have nothing but time. (If you’re on a solo road trip or find yourself in the driver’s seat, you still have all the time in the world, but the space boots should probably wait. Seek other ways to pass the time. Like listening to the radio or enjoying the scenery or talking to another human or just thinking.)

It’s one of my favorite things about a road trip. Slowing down. Embracing the monotonous hours. In a world that’s moving ever faster, it feels like a privilege to sit in a car for hours on end without having to worry about an appointment or an email or an assignment you’re not into. You know how much stuff you can accomplish when you don’t have other stuff to do? A lot (and at the same time nothing at all! It’s great). For example, I came up with these jokes while driving north though the southern part of Florida on our return leg from Key West.

Q: What do you get when you mix an orange and steroids?
A: Orange juice.

Q: Why can’t you trust the sky to make a good decision?
A: Its judgement is clouded.

Q: What do you call it when a bunch of people get together to make jokes about beef?
A: Roast beef.

Q: What do you call a room with an uncomfortable amount of people in it?
A: Chick-fil-A at noon.

Q: Where do you go if you want to see NASCAR but don’t want to pay the money?
A: Florida’s North Turnpike.

What a productive way to spend one’s time! But perhaps even more fruitful than having the time to come up with genius jokes is being able to spend time with people you care about. Like a lot of things in life, a road trip is better when shared. That’s not to say a solo road trip isn’t good, either. It’s just different (and sometimes exactly what you need). But it’s nice to have people to talk to and share moments with, even if it’s just hours of silence, stupid laughs, or the gas bill.

Take our trip to and from Key West. On both legs of our journey we went long stretches saying nothing at all, with the only exceptions being some remark about a nice building or someone asking what we were going to eat next. Other times we’d play dumb games mispronouncing common restaurant names we passed, like “rubby” Tuesday instead of Ruby Tuesday, or saying anything in our best Rick Grimes voice, which often ended up sounding like Christian Bale in Batman while trying to wolf down a chicken wing. And other times we talked about funny, forgotten stories from our youth or discussed future aspirations and hopes. Which, I think, is pretty neat. There aren’t a lot of places where the range of conversation is so widespread.

There’s also the novelty and adventure of a road trip. Passing through foreign landscapes for the first time. Seeing unique towns, both big and small. Stopping to eat at unique restaurants along the way. Seeing how other people live, if only for a moment. Watching how much of a difference a few miles makes, or how little a difference a couple of hundred miles makes. It’s like we’re pioneers all over again. Plus a few minor conveniences, of course. Like cars and stuff.

When you’re on a road trip it’s more than just getting from point A to point B. It’s the experience of the journey (wow, this sounds a lot like a motivational speech about life, and how it’s not about the end destination but about digging in deep and enjoying the road there, which almost certainly consists of piecing on the same leftover takeout for a week). A unique one at that. There’s monotony, idle chatter, meaningful conversation, excitement, boredom, and more.  And what an adventure and privilege it is.

[Author’s note: I wrote a good majority of this while on the return leg of our road trip to Key West. And what better time to write about road trips than when on an actual road trip?]