My wife dropped her phone into the toilet.
The first question most people ask, after hearing about the accident, is “Was there anything else in the toilet at the time?” She has testified that an empty bowl welcomed the phone’s dive. Who am I to question? To be truthful, I don’t want to know the answer.
She fished the phone from the bowl, dried it with a towel, turned it on, and, seeing no apparent problem, phone operating normally, placed the phone back into her pocket and went about her business.
That’s the story I got. When it comes to cell phones in the commode, we employ a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
In fact, I probably would have never known about the incident had the phone continued to work. But, alas, poor iPhone, I knew you well. The next time she retrieved it from her pocket and turned it on, it blinked back at her a few times, asked a question in Mandarin and then went to sleep.
After she confessed to drowning by toilet, I did what I often do in circumstances of technical failure. I asked my new Dad, Google.
My old Dad was Google before Google. I could call him any time of day or night with a technical question. “Dad, sorry to wake you, but when I the water heater is making a sound.” Dad always had a technical answer and loved to solve my problems.
My mechanical problems.
My emotional problems, my relationship problems, my physical ailments were all property of my Mother, who would have the phone handed to her when any or all of these subjects came up. For nuts and bolts solutions, it was always Dad.
My Dad’s been dead for two decades. For the past twenty years I’ve been on my own, mechanically, and still have all ten fingers. It’s surprising. In the ensuing twenty years, I’ve found that for most technically oriented questions, Google works just about as good as Dad.
And so, I typed in “dropped iPhone in toilet” and was immediately led to dozens of discussion threads posted by people who had done the same thing. Most of them began with a completely unbelievable story, followed by an immediate explanation of how the bowl was clean and clear at the time.
All lies, of course.
The stories were answered by all sorts of solutions. Place it in the oven. Paint the audio input with white out. Stick the phone in a bag of rice for a couple of days.
I tried them all.
None of them worked.
Her phone, when it does come on, gives her emergency instructions in Mandarin, Japanese, Chicken Scratch… I don’t know which language. I am a product of West Virginia’s public school system.
Although the internet solutions I found on Google were mostly useless, I was amazed at the number provided. Everyone, it seems, has dopped their phone into the toilet.
It was the second time I’d asked my new Dad, Google, for an answer this past weekend. The first came when I put my old car into park in a shopping center parking lot. When I came back from the store, got in and started it up, the car would not go into gear.
Stuck in park.
After trying all my usual methods of pulling on the lever really hard, beating on the dashboard and cursing fluently, I got on my phone, the one that had avoided the toilet (so far) and googled.
My new Dad instructed me to insert a ball point pen into a notch on the shifter guide, wiggle it back and forth and – like magic – I was in gear. Or, at least the car was.
Thanks, new Dad.
Once again, hundreds of people had the same problem with the same car (probably in the same parking lot – I didn’t really bother to read their stories).
The point is that the internet is now my source of information for getting out of a jam. Google has become my go to Dad. And just like the real thing before it, I have to trust whatever nonsense Google spits back at me (Rice? Really?)
In the meantime, take some advice from someone who has recently been through the phone in the toilet ordeal. Unless you really know, for a fact, that nothing was in the toilet bowl with the phone, and you place the phone in a bag of rice, it might be a good idea to not eat that rice.
After years of unsuccessful searching, Big John finally found a job that truly fit his unique qualifications.
Big John, who lived upstairs in apartment 3-G, was not lazy. Being unemployed for months at a time does not happen without effort. Repeatedly losing jobs may seem like child’s play to some, and I’m sure that among those with high qualifications and big downside risks, the ax falls sharply. But for people like Big John, who had no education to speak of and whose strongest suit was sitting around in his boxer shorts, it was surprisingly difficult to get fired. The types of jobs John’s qualifications brought - fast food, stock boy, custodial - were the exact positions that could, if one was not careful, develop into lifelong occupations. They were nearly impossible to lose. John learned this lesson the hard way, getting stuck at a Pizza Hut for nearly nine months.
As I said, he was not lazy. His downfall was that he was too smart for dumb work, yet too unfocused to be reliable. At moment’s notice, John would hitchhike to Columbus because it might be fun. Columbus, Ohio. You can do this while at Pizza Hut. Heinz frowns on such behavior. When the time came for Big John and pepperoni to part ways, he found that breaking up was, indeed, hard to do. Thanks, Neil Sedaka.
Big John was fond of only one aspect of a democratic society, and that was the unemployment benefits program. In reality, he was a Socialist at heart. He soon realized, while standing in his red Pizza Hut apron, that in order to meet his goal in life, to be paid to do nothing by the ruling powers, Big John would have to be fired.
And that’s how I got the free pizza.
He loved his fellow man much more than most of them deserved. And they loved him as well. I tell you this about him to emphasize why it was hard for John to get fired. Everybody liked him. All of the plans and schemes we concocted for his firing were rejected because they ended up hurting someone. Punch his boss? He couldn’t do it. Mistreat a customer? He couldn’t do it. Work at Pizza Hut the rest of his life? He couldn’t do it. What he could do, he explained, was collect unemployment, sit in his underwear and listen to his stereo.
If he could only get fired.
It is amazing how much energy and work can go into not working. The plan was this: I would come into Pizza Hut to pick up my take out pizza. John would wait on me, at some point offend me, and we would pretend to have a screaming match. It would end with me demanding for John’s dismissal.
Later, we would go home to his place and eat pizza.
It worked like a charm.
I ranted and raved. He threw a pitcher of beer at me. He was fired, immediately. I got lots of coupons for free pizza, which the two of us used over the course of the next month while he applied for unemployment. With his first unemployment check, he bought me a shirt to replace the one he had doused in Budweiser.
It was while munching on free grub that Big John heard his career calling. It came, as most moments of clarity, during The Price is Right. As Bob Barker was describing the fabulous Showcase Number One, as Janice Pennington, one of Barker’s Beauties, was rubbing a bottle of $2.68 Wesson Oil, I walked into the kitchen for a beer. From the living room, I heard Big John let out a squeal.
There was a man on the TV screen, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt with a drink in his hand. He was asking Big John and everyone else in the viewing audience a simple question. “Are you tired of your dead end job?” Big John shook his head yes. “Would you like to get rich quick?” Big John shook his head yes. “Would you like to work from home, in your living room, in your underwear?” That’s when John squealed. “He’s talking to me!” I heard him say.
The good news was that, because he was so nice to total strangers on the phone, Big John made many, many people give him their home addresses so that his company, Florida Adventures, could send them an informational brochure about their retirement estate in the Tampa Bay area. The bad news was that, according to the nice woman at the Unemployment office, John could only work fourteen hours a week before he would be disqualified from receiving a check from the government.
It was a quandary.
He had finally found his calling.
And now, because of government red tape, he was limited.
“What kind of country is this?” He asked. “When a man can’t sit in his living room, in his underwear, and ply his trade for fear of losing the free money he has cheated that government into giving him?”
We pondered that while munching another slice.
I’m not a doctor, but I’ve played Doctor (and Spin the Bottle), so that gives me some authority to speak about the human body – the mind, specifically. My brain, like a computer hard drive, records facts, conversations and moments in time and later recalls them.
Mark Belanger was the shortstop for the ’69 Orioles.
My old friend George now lives in Sacramento.
You have to use flux when soldering copper.
These are factoids I never think about. When they’re needed, they’re there, right on the hard drive I keep between my ears. Old phone numbers, combinations to long gone locks, people who are now dead - they’re stored on my hard drive brain, somewhere.
Unfortunately, I am not in control of retrieving these facts. Unlike my hard drive, my search engine works independently. I’ll be eating an ice cream cone and suddenly recall that my sister broke her arm when she fell off a horse. I’ll smell after shave and remember that I left the water running in my college dormitory bathroom in 1977. Moments from sleep, I’ll remember the words to the song “Pictures of Matchstick Men”.
Yesterday I was driving with the windows down. It was about 3:15. For no reason whatsoever, my personal search engine engaged the database located on my hard drive and alerted me of the fact that I did not have to go to school the next day.
It was an unmistakable feeling, as if I was driving home from class, seventeen and at the wheel of a ’65 Malibu. It was 3:15 with the windows down in May.
And I was very, very happy.
All other highs the rest of my life can be judged in comparison to walking out my high school’s front door, heading to the parking lot and throwing my books into the back seat of my car. Start the engine, roll the windows down, put it in gear, and get the hell out of there.
Nothing like it.
I had that feeling nearly every day of the school year, but May, with its blooming trees, baseball games and girls, everywhere, hinted at would could be in that coming summer. It turned my nervous energy into a rolling boil. The bell rang. The lid came off the pot.
Yesterday, without warning, I was reminded of that feeling. The windows were down and something in the air, a chemical reaction, I guess, sent me back to a simple, pleasant thought.
I don’t have to go to school tomorrow.
I don’t have to go to school for the rest of the summer.
Thank you, personal search engine. Thank you. I did not ask to be taken back to May of my seventeenth year, but you thought I needed it. And I did.
I’m a middle-aged man. I don’t have to go to school ever again if I choose. Of course, being the age I am, I now have to go to the proctologist. Honestly, on days like yesterday, with the windows down, it’s a pretty good trade.
Most of us would like to be able to control fate, to change the borders of eternity and return loved ones long deceased to this world. Wouldn’t that be great? It is, after all, one of the building blocks of most religions - the promise that, in the afterlife, we will be reunited with all those who have lived before. That conjures up an incredible scene that harks back to the Righteous Brothers’ “Rock and Roll Heaven”, to say nothing of all the Frankenstein and Mummy movies.
With that in mind, I’d like you to come with one person from history that you’d like to see return from the dead, at their peak, with all senses intact, ready to rock and roll, for one day. This person can be someone from ancient history, like Cleopatra, from recent history, like John Lennon, or a prehistoric figure such as Jesus, Moses or Og the Caveman.
For today’s purposes, I’d like to stay away from family members, if you please. Each of us would like to see Grandma again. That’s a given. Unfortunately, in my humble broadcaster’s opinion, it makes for a sad and maudlin radio show, sadder, at least, than asking to see Groucho Marx return from the grave.
Or Karl Marx, for that matter.
You get one day with a famous figure from history to do with what you’d like. Take Napoleon bowling. Jam with Hendrix. Tell Ben Franklin to go fly a kite. It’s your choice.
I’ve tossed and turned since coming up with this concept, to be truthful. There are so many historical figures I’d like to see return for so many different reasons. Some, I’d just like to meet and shake hands. “Good job, Mr. Washington. Way to go, Roberto Clemente! Nice to meet you, Genghis Kahn. Please wipe your feet.”
For others, I would have questions. “Hey, Mary. How’d you break the news to Joseph that you were pregnant? Mr. Columbus? You ever think of stopping to ask for directions? Hey, Amelia Earhart! Where the hell were you?”
In today’s ultra-violent, seemingly lack-of-center world we need all the help we can get. It would be great to summon history’s thinkers to the scene for one day. Let’s ask Lincoln how he would solve the problem in Iraq. Someone should pose the great environmental issues of the day to Galileo. How about bringing Thomas Edison back from the grave to reset the radio buttons in my car?
It’s taken a few days to come up with the one person I’d like to have resurrected for a day. I purposely avoided Jesus for fear that he’d say to me, “Been there. Done that.” As much as I would have liked to have taken Buddha to a modern all-you-can-eat buffet or gone to the wave pool with John the Baptist, I declined to choose a religious figure.
With all the problems facing our world and the explosion of technology, a legendary scientific mind from the past beckoned. But who to choose? Copernicus? Einstein? Thomas Crapper?
The entertainment world was certainly an attraction. How much fun would it be to hang out with Jackie Gleason, Harry Houdini or the late, great King of Rock and Roll, Elvis for just one day?
Too many choices.
I finally shrugged my shoulders and concluded that it’s just a radio show, a strange and hopefully fun way to pass a couple of hours on a Thursday afternoon. It isn’t rocket science. We’re not going to solve world issues here. The best we can hope for is to carry a conversation.
Once again I was over-thinking the problem.
And that’s why, just before I became anal enough to make a list and start checking off dead people, I decided to go simple.
I want to bring Steady Ed Headrick back to life for one day. Steady Ed, for those of you not in the Wham-O loop, invented the Frisbee. Sure, he’s not in the same league as Winston Churchill. He’s never going to mentioned in the same sentence as Henry VIII. No one will ever confuse Steady Ed with Alexander the Great.
On the other hand, what did any of those guys ever do for me, really?
Steady Ed gave me countless hours of joy. If it weren’t for Mr. Headrick, I would have had nothing to do on all those days I skipped school and drove out to Raccoon Creek State Park. It was Ed that provided me with fun, not Kennedy or Ramses or Gandhi.
And so, if given the power to reanimate a dead person for one day, I choose Ed Headrick, inventor of the Frisbee. Even if I’m able to bring him to life for a mere afternoon, I know what we’ll do. We’ll go to the park. We’ll smoke a fatty. We’ll put on some tunes. And we’ll play some Friz.
And just before Ed has to go back to the next life?
We’ll toss it up onto the roof.
Just for old times sake.
A Chinese movie actress named Fan Bingbing was added to the Chinese release of the movie Iron Man III. Some of Iron Man III was filmed in China. The Chinese are now the second biggest movie going nation. They’ll get over that and by this time next decade will be on to downloading to their movies to TV, like, you know, people in the United States do.
Bingbing was added, giving the Chinese version of Iron Man III extra exclusive Bingbing, leaving the rest of us wondering what the character was and how her appearance changed the plot and can Fan Bingbing really act and is she hot, in that Chinese actress kind of way, and what’s in the refrigerator that can I eat next?
That’s what I was wondering.
I read about this on Saturday. All day Sunday, I had “That Chinese chick in Iron Man III, Fan Bingbing is her name-o”, stuck in my head. The only way to get rid of something like that, I’ve found, is to pass it on to somebody else and that some somebody, today, is you.
“That Chinese chick in Iron Man III, Fan Bingbing is her name-o.”
I may be saying her name wrong. It could be Fan Bing-BING. I don’t know.
The people who made Iron Man III, Marvel, the same people that ruined Howard the Duck, filmed some scenes in Beijing in an attempt to have the Chinese government declare the movie to be at least “partly made in China”, which would all but assure it of being released in China. Not all movies made in the US have been released in China. Some have, but have been censored. Others have been banned completely. Apparently, the Chinese censors don’t like too much sex or violence or substance abuse.
Sex, violence and substance abuse pretty much describes most of Hollywood and Washington. To me, it doesn’t matter if Marvel makes more money. Make money, make more movies.
But I’d like to see Fan Bingbing. I looked her up on the web. She’s attractive. I want to see Fan Bingbing. I want to see the Chinese cut! What’s in the refrigerator that I can eat?
“That Chinese chick is Iron Man III, Fan Bingbing is her name-o.”