Cereal Around The World

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As men, and sometimes even women, know, cereal is an integral part of life on this mild and temperate planet we call Earth. Cereal governs the most basic of all human interactions, and, well, even if it doesn’t, it should is my point. Basically, what I’m saying here is that cereal is really, really good. It’s really good to eat cereal and milk from a bowl. Much better than eating a bowl full of just milk, certainly, and almost infinitely better than eating a bowl unfull of cereal. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Does everyone really love cereal as much as us? Well, of course they do. Here look, I even did a little slapdash research on the Internet to see how people eat cereal everywhere else in the world and look what I found:

Chile


In Chile, cereal is always eaten in a room with at least one dozen piñatas hanging from the ceiling. A mariachi band is most always present, but if all area mariachi bands are already booked, then listening to a Gloria Estefan record will suffice. Never ever listen to the Green Jelly album Cereal Killer. Also, instead of a spoon, use a maraca.

Transylvania


While biting the neck of a young, attractive woman, pour the desired crunchy cereal bits over her neck, mixing the flowing blood with the cereal to create a tangy, crispy treat. Note: Be mindful of the HIV.

Southern California


Instead of a bowl, place cereal inside of a pita. Substitute sprouts and avocado for milk. Surf while eating as necessary. Also, between bites, elect a crappy governor.

Arabia


Rub your breakfast lamp to summon the cereal genie. For your first wish, ask for a bowl of cereal. For your second wish, ask for a quart of milk. For your third wish, ask for a thousand and one spoons, one for each member of your harem. Sit back as they feed you, anoint you with oils, and fan you with peacock feathers — all while belly-dancing.

Greenland


I can’t think of a racial-stereotype joke for this country.

Egypt


Q. Why don’t Egyptians pour milk on their cereal?

A. They don’t need to — their mummies do it for them.

Chechnya


This is just like America, except instead of pouring the cereal into the bowl and then adding the milk, you do not eat at all, for this country is ravaged by war and is very poor.

The Fifth Dimension


As you float, simply use the giant glowing polygon to magnetically attach the cereal to the gaping mouth now located on your right shoulder. Remember to do this to the beat of the propulsive dance music streaming from all directions.

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A Sensible Proposal

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So.

Let’s kill the homeless.

And please — don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean to throw around a line like “we should kill the homeless” loosely. No, I wouldn’t suggest for a second that we should “kill the homeless” as some kind of trite, tongue-in-cheek Swiftian homage. You, the reader, are above that. I’m above that. Even if you’re not above that — well, I am.

So, no — I don’t say “we should kill the homeless” satirically, but rather as a means to say that we should quite seriously eradicate them off the face of the earth, leaving nothing but silence and a thin, cartoonish wisp of smoke.

Not kill them to eat them. Not kill them as part of some grand, despotic, sociological design. Not kill them for entertainment purposes, even though it would be funny. No. Kill them simply so they’d be dead and never come back.

Now, before you jump all over me for this, please allow me the opportunity to explain. I think you’ll find my rationale sound, my reasoning as unblemished as buffed porcelain. First and foremost among my reasons, I should state clearly, is that I like my change. I enjoy change. I find it useful — for buying things and whatnot. Owning no washer/dryer combo, I find I’m constantly in need of it to wash my shirts and pants.

Following this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, we should kill the homeless. When faced with the embarrassment and aggravation I would most certainly suffer in denying the homeless my laundry change when they ask for it, I propose that just getting rid of them altogether would make a lot more sense. Were they utterly dead, I could walk down a street without having to listen to them shriek like crazy people when I try to soberly explain that I can’t give them money to eat because I need to wash pants.

Bringing us to the second point: all that shrieking. Man. They shriek a lot, loudly, often about Jesus, and make no sense at all. One might begin to suspect, in fact, that they’re crazy — to which I put forward that this might very well be the case.

After all, they do live on streets. Chew on that for a minute, because it’s pretty odd when you think about it. Streets are for walking and driving, not for sitting and shrieking. If you and I were walking down the street, for instance, going to, let’s say, a bookstore, though really we could be doing pretty much anything — I’m fairly easygoing, and if you had some errands or something to maybe run and you just wanted some company, I’d be up for that — but in any case, we’re walking, and suddenly I say “Excuse me” or something, sit down on the street, and start shrieking about Jesus.

“Whoa,” you might think. “This guy’s crazy.” Maybe you’re even rethinking the whole day, piecing together an excuse in your head to do your errands alone. And the whole time I’m breaking your concentration by yelling at the high threshold of human hearing that Jesus is the Savior of all mankind, and what do you mean you have to do laundry, give me money.

I’d bet safe money you’d think I was at the very least odd. Moreover, you’d be right. Well then, let me lay this on you — homeless people do that kind of thing all the time. They don’t even have errands. Or if they do, then all that yelling and begging probably is the errand.

This callous and wanton disregard for the mores of society would, I can safely assure you, stop very very suddenly if we were to really roll up our sleeves and kill all of them. Dead men tell no tales, after all. More to the point, they don’t shriek when you prop them up on street corners and put change cups in their stiff fingers. They’re actually soothingly quiet and unobtrusive. Like a waft of summer air off the ocean. Except dead, and with a tin cup.

Thirdly: homeless people are probably evil. One only has to use a modicum of common sense to figure out that anyone sitting and shrieking on streets when they should be mowing their lawns and watching real-life castaway shows is no doubt a shifty and suspicious villain of mystery. While everyone else sleeps honestly in their store-bought beds, foul-smelling men are stalking our good streets and maliciously sitting on them.

Sitting for good? No. Sitting for change. Sitting the decency out of America. I once saw a homeless guy crap in a mailbox, you know. Tell me that’s not evil.

“Well,” you’re probably thinking, “why doesn’t someone just kill the homeless.” And that’s fantastic, because I was thinking the exact same thing.

Fourthly: perhaps I didn’t actually see a homeless guy crap in a mailbox. But that’s beside the point, because you know anyone willing to rob an innocent victim (me) of clean laundry (mine) is capable of absolutely anything. Murdering the President, even. I mean, they don’t have guns, true, but I don’t think this an adequate yardstick for measuring character. Homeless people can’t afford guns. Think for a moment, though — what if you could buy guns with change? Then every homeless person would have a gun. No laundry would ever get done. Society would topple, not from the anarchy, but from the stench. It would just sort of keel over. Now, call me wrong, but I find that kind of idea pretty depraved.

The solution? You guessed it, friend. Kill them all.

Finally: as if all of that shrieking and sitting and government official slaughter weren’t enough grounds for a prompt and expedient countrywide eradication of the homeless, they’re also all very ugly. The homeless have passed far from what society would deem conventionally unattractive and landed miles further into a dark carnival of Streisandesque deformity. Yes, your bleeding hearts will moan about their human rights, but I think they’re missing an important point, which is that the homeless are profoundly unsexy.

Coming at the situation from a purely sex-based perspective, the homeless are so useless it’s obscene. Besides, even if you wanted to make love to the homeless — and might I add that I can’t for the life of me imagine a scenario in which this would sound enticing — you’d have to do it in the middle of the street while they pounded on your back and yelled about the Savior of the universe. I propose that this scenario would entice only the most daring enthusiasts. For every other John and Jane Doe out there, though, the homeless are about as useless as sand.

In summation: we have everything to gain by killing the homeless. And even if this ends up not being true, and in fact we gain nothing from it, at least we don’t lose much. It’s not like they were saving our seats in the theater or anything. If they were doing that, there might be a few stragglers to my proposal. As it stands, however, we seem to be in the clear. The only problem I can see is the irrational outrage of a small faction of whiny crybabies.

Bringing me to my addendum: we should probably kill said crybabies before we kill the homeless, so they won’t give us all headaches when we shoot every homeless person in the back. After that, we should probably also kill all the people the homeless people used to hang out with, so they won’t be bringing us down at otherwise-fun parties. And after that, we should probably stop killing people altogether, leaving merely the threat of killing more people if any sass about the homeless killing was forthcoming. But probably no more killing, because at this point we’d have an awful lot of bodies lying around everywhere, so everything would stink pretty bad for a while. I’d guess we’d have to institute at least a six-month grace period before we killed any more people, at which point further suggestions could be submitted for my approval.

Clearly my reasoning is flawless, my methods precise. Grab your weapon of choice, my brothers and sisters, and let’s go kill the homeless! But wait — the crybabies first! Then the homeless! Then the people who hung out with them! Then rounding it all off with follow-up reprimands of death to anyone giving us sass! Then a six-month no-kill grace period! Then a write-in suggestion campaign for further killings!

To the streets!

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Duck, Duck, Greatness

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An eager gaggle of schoolchildren sit cross-legged on the gravelly ground, holding their breath, half-praying, half-dreading that they will be called to compete. Around the perimeter stalks Justin Maloney, chanting a steady mantra: “Duck. Duck.” He pats each child’s head with methodical precision, never faltering. “Duck,” he says again and again, as the children squirm impatiently. Finally there is a barely perceptible break in Justin’s even rhythm, and as his hand comes down on a neatly braided head, his lips speak the fateful word: “Goose.”

The chase is on, but Justin’s pursuer doesn’t stand a chance, and she knows it. Still, she grins as Justin takes her spot in the circle: to be “goosed” by Justin Maloney is a distinct honor, one she will boast of at the dinner table tonight. Only six years old, Justin is already a playground legend, with a record that tops even the most aggressive third-grader’s. He is a duck-duck-goose prodigy.

A popular schoolyard legend claims that Justin Maloney is the only child in the history of P.S. 217 never to have done time in the Pickle Jar. “Most kids hit their D.D.G. peak at eight or nine,” says phys-ed teacher Otis Reynolds. “But Justin is special. He’s invented a whole new goosing technique. There’s no telling where he could go from here.”

Such a remarkable gift with all its attendant fame is a considerable burden for a kindergartner. Justin’s parents are struggling to meet the challenge of raising a son whose greatness is so widely admired. “We try to keep him grounded,” says mother Krista Maloney.

“Not, like, stay-in-your-room-all-weekend grounded,” her husband, Larry, clarifies. “Just down-to-earth grounded.”

Both are pleased to see their son sharing his gifts with his less-advanced schoolmates. “He always volunteers to start off any game of duck-duck-goose by being ‘it,'” Krista observes.

“He has to,” adds Larry, “or he would never get to play at all. That’s the funny thing about being a duck-duck-goose prodigy. You mostly just sit there.”

Because of his advanced skills, Justin runs the risk of aging out of the playground circuit before his seventh birthday, but Krista says she is not concerned that her son will grow up too fast. “A few weeks ago some eight-year-olds tried to turn him on to freeze tag, but Justin decided he wasn’t ready,” she says proudly. “He knows how to set limits.” Still, the Maloneys are actively seeking other outlets for their son’s energy. “We are planning to set up a few duck-duck-goose clinics in underprivileged neighborhoods, where Justin can tutor kids who haven’t had his opportunities,” Krista explains. “We want to use our power to really make a difference.”

Funding for outreach programs like the one Krista describes would come from Justin’s commercial sponsorship deals, which the Maloneys are currently negotiating. “We’re not at liberty to discuss his sneaker deal with Keds,” says Larry, “but we are looking to offer his services to other, water-fowl-themed corporate entities. I think footage of Justin playing duck-duck-goose could make a wonderful ad for AFLAC. Or Canadian tourism.”

What does Justin think of all this attention? “Duck-duck-goose is fun,” he shrugs, squinting up at me. “Your nose is full of boogers.” Then he is off and running, gathering his friends into another circle. “Boogerface!” he shouts, when he sees that I am still watching. The other children look on in adoration. They know they are in the presence of greatness.

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The OCD Repeater:
A Journal Of Understanding

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The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Repeater (“Bet you can’t read it just once!”) is published monthly, or sometimes more often if we can’t stop ourselves, for victims of OCD. As always, we welcome your letters. Of course, we pledge to reveal only your problem, not your identity. All symptoms discussed here will be considered completely confidential, unless some strange overwhelming urge compels us to scream your name to the world at 10-second intervals.

*****

Dear OCD Repeater:

I am normal in every respect, except for a slight tendency to touch the doorknob with my forehead 500 times each morning before leaving for work. Don’t advise me to change my habits. I’ve already tried making drastic variations in my routine. One morning, for example, I touched my forehead to the doorknob 512 times, but instead of producing the inner peace I have come to depend on, this pointless overindulgence left me feeling jaded and world-weary, as if I were only going through the motions.

The next morning, in a mad mood of defiance, I touched my head to the doorknob only 497 times. At first this gave me a false sense of bravado. As the day progressed, however, the premonition grew on me that I would soon pay for my recklessness — and I did.

When I made my daily stop at the Pig & Swig for a cup of cappuccino at precisely 6:15 a.m., I was told they were out of low-cal nondairy creamer. How they snickered when they saw the panic bubbling behind my eyes! I strived to calm myself by rubbing the secret patch of flannel I carry in my pocket for just such emergencies. I even tried stepping over every third crack in the sidewalk on the way to work, but it was no use. My morning, and quite likely my life, was ruined.

I am getting a bit off the point, though. What I want to say is, Why can’t people just leave me alone? I harm no one. I do my job. I pay taxes. Aside from forming a hollow in my forehead so pronounced that my skull is occasionally mistaken for a ceramic planter, my “little hobby” (as I call it) has brought me the only real happiness I’ve ever known. What’s wrong with that?

Soft in the Noggin in New York City

Dear Soft:

Clearly your need to touch your forehead to the doorknob accomplishes nothing of practical value, except perhaps polishing the brass. To be sure, there are many actions we must constantly repeat that do not in themselves constitute obsessive-compulsive disorder. For instance, I find it impossible to get through the day unless I fill my briefs with a mixture of oat bran and cough syrup while humming “Lara’s Theme” from Doctor Zhivago. Surely my reasons are obvious. But does anyone have the slightest idea why you carry on like such a jackass? I don’t.

*****

Dear OCD Repeater:

Who discovered obsessive-compulsive disorder? And is there a cure? I have a friend who needs to know.

Just wondering in Wheeling, West Virginia

Dear Wondering:

OCD was first diagnosed in 1963 by Dr. Neil Bogusian, who realized that his wife’s insatiable need to serve “snapping turtle surprise” and lima beans every night of the year was more a cry for help than a cold-blooded attempt to drive him insane. After having her euthanized by the family vet (Mrs. Bogusian was a dead ringer for a dachshund, and had missed her last two distemper shots anyway), the good doctor devised the original five-step program for alleviating the pain of OCD sufferers:

1. Admit that you have a problem.

2. Admit that you are helplessly in the thrall of some malignant, unseen power that is making you admit you have a problem.

3. Admit that you just added up the number of letters in the above two sentences and subtracted the total from the last four digits of your Social Security number.

4. Sing “There was a boy who had a dog, and Bingo was his name-o” under your breath whenever you see a red object.

5. Repeat steps one through four until the feeling of nameless dread passes.

*****

Last issue’s Case of the Month brought a host of helpful ideas. You’ll recall that our correspondent, a Mr. M.L. of Wheaton, Illinois, complained he was unable to cross the street without reciting the Gettysburg Address four score and seven times, and that the strenuous demands of this absolute necessity were consuming more and more of his time, until he started falling asleep on the curb after midnight and being sideswiped by street-sweeping machines.

Some were sympathetic. “I know just how he feels,” wrote M.W. of Peoria. “Personally, I can’t make it through an intersection without reenacting the Sand Creek Massacre. You wouldn’t believe the number of accidents this has caused — or the number of friends I have made.” Others were less patient. C.K. of Buffalo wrote, “He ought to thank his lucky stars it’s the Gettysburg Address and not a pep talk from the Nuremburg rallies.” The best thought came from K.Z. of Des Moines, who suggested a switch from presidential speeches to Scripture passages, preferably John 11:35 (“Jesus wept”).

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The Magnificent Eight In “Unwelcome Guest”

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The Magnificent Eight sat at the Table of Destiny in the Mountain of Power, drinking Terrific Tea and playing Colossal Solitaire, when the Door of Arrivals opened.

“Oh no,” muttered the Golden Octopus. “Everybody!” he whispered, “Don’t look up! He’s here!”

“I knew it!” cried the Historic Waffle as he raised a syrup-covered limb to conceal the side of his face closest to the Door of Arrivals.

Just then a figure emerged from the Door of Arrivals. “Hey hey! It took me a while to get in because I think you guys accidentally gave me the wrong key.” It was Holocaust Boy, dressed in his trademark skintight black body suit with the words “THE HOLOCAUST IS HERE TO HELP!” ironed onto the back in yellow letters. His lack of a cape made him look like a ninja scuba diver, and the Ultimate Dictionary once called Holocaust Boy’s appearance “the definition of stupid.”

Holocaust Boy walked jovially over to the Table of Destiny, moved Secret Woman’s purse off of a chair and sat down. “What’s up?”

“Oh…uh…not much…you know…just…um…doin’ stuff,” mumbled Clarinet Jr. as he cleaned his reed bullets.

Suddenly, as everyone started awkwardly making excuses for leaving, the Crime Phone rang. The Answer answered. After listening to the shouting voice on the other end of the phone with wide, frightened eyes, he addressed all of the superheroes assembled. “Oh geez! The old synagogue is burning down! Someone has to go save the worshippers!”

“I’ll handle this!” exclaimed Holocaust Boy as he rushed towards the door. But the Velcro Building grabbed him by the shoulder. “Uh… I think you better not do this one.”

“Uh…why not?” Holocaust Boy looked around the room, waiting for an answer.

“Because…” started the Golden Octopus, chewing on a tentacle, trying to conjure the strength to tell Holocaust Boy, once and for all, what the problem was. “Because you are…uh…”

Just then, Holocaust Boy was shot from behind by a small Mexican man with a handlebar mustache. The man casually leaned on the Vending Machine of Convenience and admired his own accuracy.

Clarinet Jr. spoke first, letting out a sigh of relief. “Whew! Thanks Awkward Man!”

“I’m sure his death won’t be remembered as the Tragedy of the Century!” quipped the Historic Waffle as they all laughed the hearty laugh of justice.

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