I Try Unsuccessfully To Solve Everyday Problems After Watching An Entire Marathon Of Law And Order

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Problem: The shower won’t stop running in the morning.

Rational Solution: Use wrench, call plumber, put bucket under drip, etc.

My New Law and Order Solution: Tell showerhead in low but firm tone that SOMEONE here was going to stop leaking and that the toilet was on the other side of the curtain at this very moment spilling its guts about the rusted pipe in the wall, so now’s the time to start playing ball, son…(I’m bluffing, of course).

* * * * * * *

Problem: My girlfriend and I argue over who is taking the car to work that day.

Rational Solution: Calmly discuss a compromise involving rides, a future schedule, or possibly switching off at lunch.

My New Law and Order Solution: Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, a good man who fell through the cracks of The System finally got pushed past his limit; that much is true. But the moment he brought up her cycle, HE…WENT…TOO…FAR. And so your civic duty here today is obvious: he must be made to take the bus, pure and simple.

* * * * * * *

Problem: My boss calls me into his office to discuss both my being late for work again and the matter of some missing supplies.

Rational Solution: Apologize and explain that I’ve been having some transportation issues since my girlfriend wrecked her car. Also, point out that no, in fact, I don’t know anything about a lost case of printer ink, why does he ask?

My New Law and Order Solution: Treat my boss with contempt as I repeatedly point out that he ain’t got nothing on me and that he better get a warrant if he wants to search my bottom right desk drawer. Then refuse to answer any more questions and demand to be taken back to my cubicle.

* * * * * * *

Problem: My girlfriend’s cat has killed a mouse and left it on our couch while we were at work.

Rational Solution: Calm my girlfriend down by explaining that it’s only meant as a gift and then humanely and sanitarily dispose of the remains.

My New Law and Order Solution: Call roughly a dozen friends to come over and sip coffee while we look at the body and make hard-boiled comments like, “That’s one cat not going hungry tonight” or, “I hope that piece of cheese was worth it” or maybe even, “Let me guess: crowded alley on the night before garbage pickup but not a single witness? Yup, that’s Kittytown for ya.”

* * * * * * *

Problem: Despite (or because of) it being “Nookie Wednesday”, my girlfriend and I grapple with the same old intimacy problems we’ve had for several months now.

Rational Solution: Stop going through the motions, turn on the bedroom light, and really talk to each other about where we think this relationship is headed. And if that includes going our separate ways, then so be it.

My New Law and Order Solution: Start referring to her as “The Perp” and threaten to “take [her] downtown and jam [her] up” and then inquire “would [she] like that, [honeypie]?”

* * * * * * *

Problem: My girlfriend gets seriously fed up with my “stupid little CSI routine” and wishes loudly that I would “drop it already and just grow up and behave like a normal adult.”

Rational Solution: Immediately stop acting like a composite of fictional characters from a television crime-drama and apologize for my childish behavior. Also, stop ending every other sentence with “Chung-chung!”

My New Law and Order Solution: Offer her a deal: I’ll act like an adult for three to five if she cops to Being Controlling. Also, remind her that if this trial goes all the way then the jury is sure to hand down a verdict of Being Totally Just Like Her Mother, chung-chung.

* * * * * * *

Problem: While trying to fall asleep on the couch, I hear our shower floor collapse into the downstairs bathroom as the result of a severe, unchecked leak.

Rational Solution: Call the landlord and the plumber and check on the downstairs neighbors before shutting off the main water valve.

My New Law and Order Solution: Hold my breath, cover my ears, and squeeze my eyes shut so tightly that I can literally see white closing credits on a silent black screen. Coming up next, another ripped-from-the-headlines episode of Law and Order: WNHTS (We Need to Have a Talk Squad)!

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Memories Of Ma, The Old Neighborhood, Little Billy Woodnik, Growing Up Too Fast, And The CIA Spying On Me

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* After school, during the milder months, all us kids would play stickball in the street. Each block had its own unofficial team, and we were the best. Heck, we were so good that the other kids sometimes accused us of cheating. We’d just shrug it off, win another game, then go poison their dogs. I say let our record speak for itself, you know?

I remember one time, it was me and little Billy Woodnik and Ugly Derek and some of the other guys — we called ourselves the Yankeepiratedodger Sox – and we were playing against the Thunderwild Bulldogcatbirds from two blocks over, and Billy made me set fire to old man Donahue’s sinful Buick in order to purify my Being. It was classic! The CIA Agents in the brown “delivery” van parked nearby saw it, of course, but back then they weren’t allowed to intervene without joint authorization from President Madison AND Xenothorpolis the Exacter. After the game, we all ate popsicles and laughed together. Well, except for the Agents and old man Donahue that is.

Simpler days in a smaller world.

* In the summertime, since no one on the block had air conditioning, we used to leave our windows and doors open at all hours. Naturally, this caused my mother (who was raised back in An Old Country) to howl violently whenever I played off key on the piano. And when my father inevitably started complaining about the draft, I misunderstood and joined the Army. Plus, little Billy Woodnik lost a bet and ate some dog doo and we all laughed and then we lost our innocence at that fateful Fourth of July picnic (which I think is why hot dogs have never tasted Righteous since that day).

That was the last time I saw the world through those eyes. After I went away for Basic, and Johnny married his best gal, and Ivy went off to college, and Greasy went to work at his old man’s garage, and Ugly Derek turned out to be a gorgeous woman, and little Billy Woodnik ended up being a delusion of mine controllable only by massive round-the-clock doses of glycocyclene diathylitrylenol and ritualistic arson…

Well, sir, I suppose the world just keeps on going whether you want the ride or not.

* Marla. Soft, soft Marla. She was so warm and permissive after I’d had so many weeks of being broken down in boot camp, and it was just what a scared young boy needed during what was both his first weekend pass and his last two days before shipping out to Hell. Her touch, her throaty words, her unconditional embrace for even a few blurred hours brought whatever bits of child were left in this untested soldier’s heart to a boiling manhood. I knew then that straddling both God and Country was Marla, and for just that night I could’ve won the whole war for her.

And that’s when I knew that I had a real thing for hookers. The good ones, of course; not the ones who cavort with Slickstopholes the Dark Pimptroyer and steal your carnal aura for their coven’s use. Brother, those girls are just dirty.

* There is nothing on God’s green earth as scary as the first time you’re shot at in battle. The hissing breath of a passing bullet, the burnt air it leaves behind, the distinct silence of it against the fiery bedlam, the bit of your soul it steals as it misses you and kills the next kid in line instead.

No, my friend, there is nothing so painful to a man’s peace.

Except maybe when the government plants a thought-camera in your frontal lobe in order to spy on your Essence by pumping super advanced nanobots into the air you breathe. That there is one scary bitch, huh? Just think about it.

Or actually, no — DON’T!!!

* It’s true; you really can’t go home again.

And I know it’s true, walking down the old street as a Man now, wearing three bloody medals pinned to a starched uniform and a kit bag full of horror slung over one shoulder. The trees lining the avenue had grown taller, but they’d never seemed smaller. The old candy shoppe on the corner had turned into Sid’s Liquor Storre, but then it got back into candy for a while, and then it was briefly the Albanian Embassy, then a Starbucks, until it finally just had enough and moved to the suburbs to sell pot to school teachers. Sure, I saw some kids playing stickball in traffic like we used to, but these little punks had no hustle — no Heart. Part of me wanted to jump into the game, show ’em how we used to do it way back when, but their stringent draft requirements and ridiculous salary caps made it impossible.

When I walked through the front door, my own mother didn’t recognize me. Ma, I said to her with a tear on my cheek, it’s me, your Danny Boy, home from the wars! She said that still wasn’t ringing any bells and an argument ensued. It went to blows and I won and we ate Lays potato chips and laughed and I realized I was in the wrong house. Damned MapQuest! Too embarrassed to admit it, I snuck out in the middle of the night (though we were forced to live a lie for several months until the nights finally got warmer).

Of course I went looking for my real birth house, but then Garzo the Destructovator broke into my dreams again and told me that Ma died during the New Crusades which were propagated by the CIA’s shadow government. I eventually had to move into the Men’s Shelter instead, since that really is the last place the Agents would check. Duh.

Nope. You can never go home again. Because they’re watching you.

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My Written Responses To A Typical Thursday’s Postal Mail

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To Jeremy F. Steinberg, Senior VP Marketing, Citicorp Trust Bank

Dear Jer,

First off, let me apologize for not writing back sooner. I assure you, the fact that you sent the same exact letter twice in as many weeks (even down to the nuances of your signature, you fiend for details, you!) is a hint not wasted on the likes of me. That being said, I feel I must mention that most people — those not so in tune with our unique brand of instant camaraderie and fraternal ribbing — might find such an act to be a bit pushy and impersonal. Not that you have to worry about me, my good new friend. No, sir! I naturally got the gist and chortled until I could find a pen!

Well, where to begin? This is usually the part where I tell you all about myself, but that seems pointless in our case; between your mystery sources and your instincts, you seem to have me well pegged already! For example, I do have bills that I need to pay every month, I do like having cash on hand, and I certainly do despise variable interest rates! But at the same time, I’d like at least 24-72 months to pay, the ability to consolidate my bills, and, hell, what person in their right mind WOULDN’T jump at a fixed 16.99% APR? It’s like you read my mind!

At the moment, however, I’m in no need of financial aid. Considering how well you know me and appreciate my friendship (16.99%?! Is it Christmas or something?), I’m sure you know this already and are simply too proud to ask for help. Already I feel I can read between the lines with you, and though we’ve only just begun our pen-pal relationship, I’m comfortable extending a helping hand.

How about $40 at 14.99% APR? Fixed, of course, and I wouldn’t even expect a payment before January of next year. Don’t be too proud to write back, okay?

Your Brother for Life,

“Dan The Pre-Approved Man” Shea

To My Local Community College Continuing Education Program

Dear South Bluff College,

Look, I’m gonna be honest with you: I got drunk one night last fall, I was a little lonely, one thing led to another, and before I knew it I was enrolled in a creative writing class. I showed up the first week, but I could tell it was a mistake and never returned.

I thought you took the hint, but today I find this course catalog from you in the mail. I don’t want to lead you on, so know that I won’t be there this spring either. Just please accept that it’s not you — it’s me. Corny, I know, but this relationship has failed twice already, and we both know that I’m simply not alumnus material.

Just Your Friend Forever,

Dan

P.S. I know you have my Social Security number, so I’m begging you not to be vengeful. Let’s just stay friends, okay? Maybe we can do an online thing next semester? I’ll call you around July-ish, I promise!

To The City Police, Parking Enforcement Department

Dear S.O.B.s,

For the fourth time, I KNOW MY VEHICLE IS ILLEGALLY PARKED DOWNTOWN — you’ve sent me the same letter about it every day this week! As I stated in my first response to you back on Monday, THAT’S WHERE IT BROKE DOWN! I was hoping our little dialog this week would be a foundation for open discussion on the subject, but today you’ve forced my hand with your cryptic “Final Notice.”

Since you don’t seem to understand the concept of a car that won’t move, I’m going to considerable lengths to illustrate it for you: when you arrive tomorrow with your tow truck, you’ll find a broken-down late-model Corolla filled to the roof with beach sand and chained through the axles and frame to every single parking meter and bike rack on the west side of 10th Ave. I’m sorry it came to this.

All Out of Patience,

The Thirteen-Ton Toyota on Tenth

To My Local Cable TV Company

Dear WavyCast Collections Dept.,

I truly appreciate your diverse and entertaining array of stations, but I’m afraid you continue to overvalue your service. Instead of me paying the $300 that you’ve vehemently requested, perhaps we can find some middle ground? I mean, I really enjoy Cartoon Network and Comedy Central, but these days VH1 and MSNBC are simply too juvenile for me, and when you consider that the Home Shopping Network no longer accepts my calls and SNL is in a long-term slump…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s time for us to meet face-to-face and finally hammer out a realistic channel lineup for a price we can both live with. Call me; I’m free every single day of the week.

Optimistically,

Account #44786003-50

To The New “Cirque du Soleil” Flyer

Dear Cirque,

While I continue to be flattered by your personal attention, I’m afraid I must insist that you stop sending me all these flyers every time you come to town. I’ve been to two of your performances already, and even though you claim to be an “unconventional” circus, I find that you employ the most frightening clowns of all: European mimes.

Beyond their overall creepiness, I am haunted by the increasing possibility that they might randomly choose me from the audience to be the butt of your many elaborate performance antics. I warn you that you’ve been extremely lucky in your selections here so far, as many Americans tend not to be such good sports and VERY rarely walk around wearing their own high-wire harnesses.

Respectfully,

Dan Shea

To My Mom

Mater,

I skimmed through your letter regarding your first trip through Europe and Asia and Africa and it bored me. Please limit correspondence like that to emergency-only situations in the future. My mailbox space is precious and I am a very very busy man.

Signed,

Daniel Laurence Shea

P.S. I don’t suppose you brought several tons of that really fine South African beach sand home with you as a souvenir? Also I may need $300 for cable plus some parking ticket and impound fees this weekend. Oh, and my new buddy Jeremy needs to borrow forty bucks.

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27 Consecutive Items from the Outlook Task List of Peter Fallman, Mayor of Addleton

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Jan 21: Must place thank-you call to Sheriff Brown for kind intro at inauguration.

Jan 23: Secretary’s name is Ahn-DRAY-ah, not AN-dree-ah!

Jan 30: Must have word with Andrea re: telephone etiquette. Also, apologize to Sheriff Brown re: rudeness of Andrea.

Feb 7: New secretary’s name is Paul.

Feb 21: Call City Attorney Ramirez re: Andrea’s frivolous civil suit. Does she have grounds to claim Clerical Squatters’ Rights? Do those even exist?!

Feb 28: Must call emergency Town Council caucus to update archaic Town Charter. Clerical Squatters’ Rights?! Come on!! Shouldn’t that mean just for the Church anyway?

Mar 3: Must train Paul to screen calls from Andrea’s lawyers.

Mar 10: New secretary’s name is Inga.

Mar 14: Must train Inga to screen calls from Paul’s lawyers. (NO VIOLENCE THIS TIME, PETE!)

Mar 15: Still have to call Sheriff Brown to thank for intro and apologize for Andrea.

Mar 16: Train Inga to use American telephones. And work on her English. And her attitude.

Mar 20: Fire Inga at end of workweek. STICK TO YOUR GUNS, PETE!

Mar 23: Pick Inga up at her place at 8 Saturday night. Buy new bottle of Old Spice.

Mar 24: SHERIFF BROWN! THANK-YOU CALL! APOLOGIES! TODAY! RIGHT AFTER LUNCH! SERIOUSLY!

Apr 2: Update Town Charter to include Council position for Inga. Buy a back-up bottle of Old Spice. Call temp agency again.

Apr 4: New secretary’s name is Robert. Call temp agency again. [frowny-face icon]

Apr 6: New secretary’s name is Pamela. Not a 10, but good enough. [smiley-face icon]

Apr 12: Have Pam cancel tonight’s Annual Police Benefit Dinner. Can’t sit next to Sheriff Brown when I still haven’t thanked him for his intro! Ask Treasurer Richards to reroute banquet funds to Account X.

Apr 16: New Interim City Treasurer’s name is Ed Williams. Think he’ll play ball. [smiley-face icon]

Apr 20: Must send Cayman Islands offshore acct #s to Ed Williams by Tues.

Apr 29: Numbers to be blocked from this phone line: Andrea’s lawyer, Paul’s lawyer, Inga’s cell, ex-Treasurer Richards’s office, The Addleton Gazette city room, City Attorney Ramirez’s office, Sheriff Brown’s office (if we can figure out what it is, dammit Pam!), wherever grand juries call from, my wife’s cell…

May 3: If he calls office, have Pam thank Sheriff Brown for the lame intro last month and apologize for Andrea etc. and deny any implications of embezzlement. Then block number.

May 10: Call Air Jamaica from the pay phone on Center St. TODAY!

May 12: Pack shorts and sandals and a bottle of Old Spice, cash in 401K, feed Ed to lions, drive self to airport (give driver afternoon off?). Maybe leave note for Pam.

May 14: Fast-track the Airport Express Lane Bill as last act before impeachment. Send email from Jamaica: congratulate Acting Mayor Brown on appointment, thank him for warm intro, beg for a pardon (can mayors even give those?).

May 15: If stopped on way to airport, hire a lawyer or two or five for multiple paternity and civil suits…and probably messy divorce…and countless criminal charges. Apologize to arresting officers for plundering their pensions.

May 15: Booking officer’s name is Marilyn.

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Random Clippings From The Addleton Gazette

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From the Personals section (page D11), dated 2/14/05:

Professional SWF, 36, seeks TDHM, 30-40, interested in LTR w/ passion + excitement. Must have good SOH, love good food, enjoy dancing, and want kids. Pls. no smokers, social drinking OK.

From the Classified section (For Sale: Misc., page D3), dated 4/19/05:

Lot for sale. Includes king-size waterbed, 2 mostly full beanbag chairs, 3 framed Lamborghini posters, a black light, 100+ vintage Penthouse magazines and 5 bongs. Moving in with girlfriend — MUST SELL! $8 OBO! Contact Dave M. at (505)-555-1977

From the Lifestyles section (Wedding Announcements, page C5), dated 6/20/05:

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wilton have the honor of announcing the marriage of their daughter, local attorney Jennifer Elizabeth Wilton, to David Richard Millis, a freelance investor, on June the 30th, 2005. The ceremony will include family and friends from as far away as London, where the couple plans to spend their honeymoon.

From the Local section (page C3), dated 7/01/05:

‘BRIDE-ZILLA’ GOES ON RAMPAGE, 3 INJURED

Violence erupted yesterday at a wedding ceremony being held at the downtown Episcopal Church when the bride-to-be suddenly became agitated and began lashing out at guests and others in the middle of the service. Eyewitness accounts vary and no motive for the outbreak is clear.

“The (bride) just went crazy,” claimed a friend of the groom’s. “(Stuff) was all cool, they were up there saying all that ‘I do I do’ (stuff), then all of a sudden the (bride) just flips the (fudge) out!”

“I don’t know why she did it, but I’m sure she had her reasons,” suggested Emily Branch, an acquaintance of the bride. Ms. Branch went on to cluck and nod knowingly at this reporter without further elaboration.

The groom (whose name is being withheld but was described as looking unkempt and blurry-eyed, smelling of perfume and covered in glitter) managed to escape the wrathful bride (name also withheld) due to an over-elaborate wedding dress design. He and the best man leapt into a car parked out front, which some witnesses claim had been left running.

The bride was eventually sedated by authorities and released into the custody of her family.

From the Metro section (page B3), dated 7/03/05:

LAWYER FILES UNPRECEDENTED SUIT ON BEHALF OF SELF

Local attorney Jennifer Wilton yesterday filed a $60 million lawsuit on behalf of herself against one David R. Millis of North Addleton. The suit is unique in the sense that it alleges simply that “the defendant is a dick who ruined the plaintiff’s life.” Many legal experts have said that it will most likely never see a courtroom, but many more legal experts just laughed and hung up on us.

“Um, no, I don’t think she can do that,” said Michael Sanchez, a partner in the firm of Schlessinger, Goldman, and Token. “Well, I sure hope not anyway.”

“David Millis is a dangerous man,” according to a statement released by Wilton. “This landmark case is not only about justice for one woman, my client, me, but also about setting a powerful precedent that can stop behavior like this from other grown men in the future. As far as what that behavior is, I’ll just say that Mr. Millis knows what he did, and if he doesn’t then I’m not going to spell it out for him on a legal document.”

Millis could not be reached for comment.

From the Letters-to-the-Editor section (page A6), dated 8/09/05:

To Whom It May Concern,

For two weeks now I’ve had to look at that stupid billboard along Route 22. I’m sure you’ve all seen it too. It’s the one between the Denny’s and the yellow office building before the Center St. exit. The one that used to warn us about feline leukemia? Need another hint?

It’s the BRIGHT NEON PINK one that says “Jenny, I’m sorry! Please forgive me! Love, Dave” and it makes everyone in town puke!!! Know that one?? I thought so.

I don’t know who Dave and Jenny are, and I don’t care. I don’t need their little fight blinding me with pink rays of wussiness while I’m driving home every day. It’s not only stupid and annoying, but it makes every guy in town look bad. Except for Dave, according to my wife, but it sounds like that dude ain’t getting any anyway.

So Dave, wherever you are, you can have my wife if you take that billboard down. And Jenny, either forgive the creep or tell him to buy you some flowers and a steak.

Signed,

Annoyed in Addleton

From the Blurbs section (page A2), dated 8/12/05:

‘DICK’ SUIT DROPPED

A $60 million lawsuit against local investor David Millis, which alleged that he was “a dick,” was dropped yesterday. The plaintiff, Jennifer Wilton, cited an “amicable and passionate settlement” as grounds for the dismissal, adding that nuptials and “perfect, perfect little babies” were included in the agreement. Millis had no comment.

From the Front Page Headline (A1), dated 11/22/05:

BIZARRE SLAYING ROCKS COMMUNITY

Neighbors awoke to a grisly scene in North Addleton yesterday morning when police were called to the home of David R. Millis, whose body was discovered by a Jehovah’s Witness at 5:45 am. An autopsy will be performed, but police reports claim that he had over two dozen stripper-style thongs forcibly inserted into multiple body orifices in addition to at least one issue of Penthouse magazine, rolled into a sharp cone, fatally lodged in his crotch. To make the tragedy even worse, he was due to be married later that morning.

His fiancee’s whereabouts are still unknown.

“It’s so scary,” said one resident… (continued on A3)

From the Personals section of a small paper several states away from Addleton (page D11), dated 2/14/06:

Mysterious SWF, 37, seeks mild mannered SM any age for LTR w/ stability. Must hate the past, asking questions, and porn. No cops.

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