All I Ever Need to Know I Never Really Learned*

  Every fall, for many years, I have set myself the task of writing a personal statement of belief. You might call it a “creed” or a “credo.” You might call it a laundry bag. That would, of course, be inaccurate. Anyway, when I was younger, my laundry b…I mean my credo, was very long, running for many pages, covering every base. As I have gotten older, the credo has gotten shorter. Shorter, and more cynical. In fact, it was so short last year I couldn’t even call it a credo. It was more like a “cred,” or even a “cre.”
    Recently I set out to get the credo down to one page. However, I just don’t have the time for that every fall, and so I’ve decided to limit it to just one word. But how to decide just which word it should be? Do you have any idea how many words there are? A lot, I can tell you. I tried counting once, but I got as far as twelve and just said the hell with it.
    Anyway, here is a list of the things you need to know about how to live and what to do. Don’t ask me to explain any of these, or tell you where I came up with them. Just trust me:


    Let me tell you about my next door neighbor, Pauline. Pauline hated everything. “I hate everything,” she used to say, “especially this.” It didn’t really mater what you were talking about -- Pauline hated it. Consequently, Pauline was not very popular. “Popularity sucks,” said Pauline. “I hate it. Unfortunately being friendless sucks too. Oh what to do!” She decided to go to a magician.
    Mark never thought of himself as a magician. More like an accountant who also does magic. “Accounting is my life. Magic just pays the bills.” Anyway, Mark was standing behind the counter of his smallish magic store over on Bleaker Street, minding his own business, looking at the jar of small blue pills which stood next to the jar of small pink pills, playing with a plantain colored Koosh ball he got from his mother before she died. 23 years before she died. Suddenly in came Pauline.
    “Hi. My name is Pauline and before we start I would just like to say that I hate magic, I hate you and I hate that plantain colored Koosh ball.”
    “I see. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
    “Probably not.”
    “Well then perhaps leaving here immediately would be a good idea,” said Mark.
    “That idea sounds particularly distasteful to me,” she responded.
    “What do you want, lady? I have a headache.”
    “I hate everything.”
    “Go on.”
    “I’ve always hated everything. There doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. I hated E.T. I hate ice-cream. I hate guys named ‘Biff.’ I haven’t ever enjoyed a single thing in my life. Every time I have sex I hate it. In fact, I’m not sure why I keep doing it. You’ve got to help me.”
    “Me?” asked Mark. “What do you want me to do about it?”
    “I want you to work some magic on me and make me stop hating stuff all the time, you in-grown toe-nail.”
    “Please don’t call me an in-grown toe-nail.” Mark took a deep breath and spoke with grand gestures. “You see, hate is in the heart. One must learn to love in order to learn not to hate. One must explore the inner recesses of one’s own soul, the stuff of one’s being, the pith of one’s very nature before being able to. . .oh just eat one of these.” He hands her a small blue pill.
    “What does this do?”
    “It cures the heart. It purges the soul of all unwanted spirits and opens you up to beauty and love. It grants wishes. It gives you everything you want, everything your mind longs for and body aches for. It delivers you from the pits of hell and lays you gently at heaven’s gate. It’s a good pill.”
    “What does the pink one do?” asked Pauline.
    “It’s for asthma.”
    “I’ll take that one.”
    “You’ll take that one?” asked Mark, amazed. “What I’m offering you will rid you once and for all of the hatred that has infested your life!”
    “Yes, but I also have really bad asthma.”
    “The blue one will also cure your asthma.”
    “’The blue one will also cure my asthma’?” asked an incredulous Pauline.
    “Yes.”
    Pauline folded her arms and frowned. “You expect me to believe that this one pill, this one little blue pill cures the heart and cleanses the soul and fulfills all your greatest wishes, and it cures asthma?”
    “Lady, do you remember me telling you about my headache?”
    “Why don’t you take this little blue pill?”
    All of a sudden, in bursts Din!
    “Hey!” he exclaimed. “I’m Din! And don’t forget it! You’re all a bunch of scrubs!”

The Scrubs

    Back in the 90s, the scrubs were everywhere. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a scrub. “Yeah,” they would say, “I’m a scrub. You got some problem with that? And watch where you’re swinging that dead cat.”
    Din was a scrub. Not a bad guy overall, if you don’t mind phlegm, but a scrub nonetheless. Din had a question. This question had been bothering Din for most of his life, and one day he decided to do something about it. So he climbed up to the top of the highest hill he could find and started shouting.
    “Hey, God! Hey, God! Yoo hoo, God! Hey! God! Yo, God! Down here! Hey! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God!”
    He started jumping up and down.
    “God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God!”
    “What already!” cried an exasperated God.
    “I got a question!” yelled Din.
    “No kidding. You don’t think I know that? I’m only God, you know.”
    “So what’s the answer?”
    “Oh, like I’m going to tell you the answer. What are you, some kind of freak? Go away.”
    “Go away?” demanded Din. “Go away?” No answer. “Hello?” Still no answer. “Hey! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God! God!”
    “Oh alright!” yelled God. And then, God told Din the answer.
    “What do you mean we’re all a bunch of scrubs?” asked Mark. “I’m no scrub.”
    “You heard me. You’re all a bunch of scrubs. The two of you.”
    “Yes, but what does that mean?” asked Pauline.
    “What do you mean, ‘what does that mean?’ What could it possibly mean? You’re both scrubs, that’s all.” Replied Din.
    “And you burst in here just to tell us that?”
    “Listen. I’ve got a story for both of you,” said Din. “It’s not very interesting. Also, I’m going to tell it in play form. Here we go”

Jane: God, I hate my job.
Veronica: What?
Jane: You heard me, you drunken slob-o-matic.
Veronica: What?
Jane: Look, you petulant, diseased being, get out of my breath!
Veronica: Ffwat?
Jane: For the last time, die!
Veronica: Pfwatt?
Jane: Arggg!!!
Veronica: Tptptlwadd?
Dave: Yo, home-boy!
Home-boy: Yeah?
Dave: Where have you been all day?
Home-boy: Home.
Dave: Boy, that’s weird.
Home-Boy: Why?
Jane: Yeah, why?
Veronica: Ptltlteahh, ffpltelgwaeeeey?
Dave: Why not?
Home-boy: Because the Cartesian plane theory requires that it is so, that’s why!
Veronica: It does not.
Home-boy: Does so!
Veronica: Does not!
Home-boy: Does so!
Veronica: Look, if you don’t believe me, ask your dad.
Home-boy: Okay! Dad?
Home-man: Yes, son?
Home-boy: Answer the question that is-a-plagin’ me.
Home-man: Go ask your mother.
Home-boy: Okay. Mom?
Patrick Ewing: I’m not your mother.
Home-boy: I wasn’t talking to you. Mom?
Mom: What?
Home-boy: Give-a-me the answer, you little pipe wielder!
Story Guy: I got a story to say…

The Big Thing

by The Big Guy

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave-a-roony” said Fritz, president of the National Rifle Association. “I never knew it could be so cold.”
    “What, the ice?” said Punchy.
    “No, not the ice, you idiot. There’s a . . there’s a . . .”
    “A what, sir?”
    “A whatchamahoozy. What’s it called? A whatchamahoozy.”
    “Oh I see, sir . . . A whatchamahoozy?”
    “You know, a . . a . . whatchamahoozy.”
    “Ah. Yes, sir.”
    “We all have it, you know,” remarked Fritz.
    “Of course we do. We all do.”
    “Except the women.”
    “Excuse me?”
    “Not the women. The women don’t have a whatchamhoozy.”
    “Sir, perhaps we should discuss tomorrow’s convention.”
    “Oh, what a tangled web we weave-a-mahoozy.”
    “Now, Mr. Furgenson will be giving the opening speech in the banquet hallway. He thinks it’s important that there is assigned seating.”
    “Well, of course. We can’t have Congressman Perkins and Congresswomen Morgan sitting too close. You know, I really prefer more bubbles.”
    “Sorry, sir,” said Punchy. “Should I add more soap?”
    “Yes. Do you think Parkenson will have the report on the new AK-47 by Thursday? Stop kicking me!”
    “Sorry, sir, I can’t help it.”
    “What do you mean you can’t help it? Keep your grubs off me.”
    “But sir . . .”
    “Look, Punchy, I am Fritz Erlichson, President of the National Rifle Association, the single most dangerous lobby group in America. So watch it!” He splashes him.
    “Really, sir, I . .” Punchy pauses. “I . . . I . . .”
    “Yeah?”
    “Weren’t you going to interrupt me?”
    “I don’t think so.”
    “Oh. Anyway, I prefer the blue stuff.”
    “The what?” asked Fritz-o-matic.
    “The blue stuff.”
    “You’re not making any sense, Punchy. Have you been doing drugs?”
    “No sir,” admitted Punch-o.
    “You idiot! I told you to shoot up! Take ‘Ex’! Smoke crack! Pot! Anything! I’ll bet you haven’t even had any tobacco, have you, Punch?”
    “No. I have had a lot of gum,” noted Punch-ville.
    “Gum? Saccharin or Zorbital?”
    “Nutra-Sweet.”
    “Nutra-Sweet?” poked The Fritzter. “Big deal. Nutra-sweet doesn’t do anything at all.”
    “Well, I have heard that it may cause brain damage.”
    “Has it?”
    “Not yet, no.”
    “Well, keep trying.”
    Suddenly, Punchnik jumped to his feed and cried, “Good Lord, I’ve suddenly jumped to my feet!”
    “Excellent, old chap,” said Fritzley, “you may go.”
    “Thank you, sir,” said Fruit-Punch, stepping out of the tub.
    “Oh, put on a robe.”
    And as Him Whom Is Called Punch walked away, his glorious silhouette pirouetting in the refulgence of the setting sun, he stopped off at the meat market for some sweet bread.

    And then there was none. Or, one, really, if you consider Fritz, but who does? I mean, really. Anyway, then there was none (except Fritz), and when there is none, that is, none other than Fritz, it can only mean one thing. But what? We asked our man in the street, but he was hit by a car before he could tell us. The moral of the story? Look both ways before doing an interview. So we asked our man in the hospital, but he was hit by a nurse. So we asked the nurse.
    “Pardon me?” said the nurse.
    “What could it mean?” we repeated.
    “What could what mean? You can tell me, I’m a nurse, you know.”
    “Well certainly you’ve heard.”
    “Heard what?” said the nurse.
    “Why, that there was none left, of course.”
    “None?”
    “Not a one.”
    “Not even…Fritz?”
    “Oh, well, yeah, Fritz. But no one else, though.”
    “But I thought..”
    “I know..”
    “Really?”
    “Yes.”
    “But…”
    “Quite.”
    “And..”
    “Also.”
    “In.”
    “From.”
    “Tall”
    “Septic.”
    “Bermuda.”
    “I see. Well it’s been nice talking to you.”
    “Oh, no!”
    “What? What is it?”
    “I’ve forgotten who’s speaking! Am I the nurse of the interviewer? It’s been so long since that idiot writer mentioned anyone’s name that I’ve lost track!”
    “Me too. We’ll have to count back. Hmm.. The last thing the nurse got credited for saying was ‘Heard what?’ and you said that. So that means I must be the nurse!”
    “Really?”
    “Yes.”
    “Wow. You sure know a lot about medicine.”
    “That’s why I get the big money.”
    “Okay, you be the nurse and I’ll be the other guy.”
    “But I wanna be the nurse!”
    “Okay, but then I get to be the unctuous inspector Rip.”
    “But then who will be Paul, the idealistic pawn broker?”
    “Why, I should think that would be obvious, but I don’t.”
    “Well, so long as I’m not Dave, the card carrying member of the ACLU.”
    “How about Mary, the happy-yet-miserable housewife?”
     Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

Yet Another Thing

by Paul, the great big mechanic

    I once knew this guy named Frank. Frank drove his pick-up truck like a bat out of hell. That’s right, a bat straight out of hell. Imagine a bat coming out of hell. Now you’ve got an idea of the way Frank drove his truck. One day Frank decided to pick up a hitch-hiker. Her name was Gracie, and she climbed into Frank’s rig, sat down and fastened her seat-belt like a bat out of hell.
    “Hi,” said Frank.
    “Hi,” said Gracie. “Do you always drive like this?”
    “Like what?” asked Frank.
    “Oh, you know, all out-of-hell-bat like.”
    “My name’s Frank.”
    “Hey! I didn’t ask for your life story, fella!” snapped Gracie.
    Frank was saddened by Gracie’s attack. What had he done to deserve being treated this way? Wasn’t he being kind, offering her a lift, telling her his name?

A New Thing

by a new guy

    Janet was a very very very very very very very very jumpy child. “AAAHH!” she used to say. “AAAAHHH!” whenever anybody approached her, whenever anybody said hello. Finally one day she was shot by Fruppy LaRoom, a young man with a gun.
    “Hi. I’m Fruppy LaRoom, but everybody just calls me Gregory. This is my gun.”
    “Gee!” said Gip. “By the way, my name is Gip, but you can call me Mr. R. K. Whitehead. You seem to have shot what’s-her-name.”
    “Janet” said Fruppy.
    “AAAaaah..” said the now understandably jumpy Janet.
    “Actually I feel kind of bad about it now.” Said Fruppy.
    “Gee,” said Gip, “that’s positively lugubrious.”
    “No it isn’t. Lugubrious is any of various herbivorous marsupials of the family of
Macropodidae, of Australia and adjacent areas, with short forelimbs, large hind limbs adapted for leaping, and a long, tapered tail.”
    “No, you’re thinking of a kangaroo. Lugubrious means Mournful, esp. to an exaggerated or ludicrous degree. [Lat lugubris < lugere, to mourn.] lu-gu’bri-ous-ly adv.”
    “You suck.”
    Suddenly, David Letterman showed up. “Hey!” he said. “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!”
    “Gee,” said Gip, “it’s Hair Club for Men member David Letterman!”
    “Hey!” said Dave to Fruppy. “Gimme that damn gun!” Suddenly Dave lunged for the gun that Fruppy was holding. “Where is that bitch!!?!”
    “Who?” said Gip.
    “I’m gunna mess her up - but good!”
    “Whom?” said Fruppy.
    “There she is!!”
    “Oh for Christ’s sake. Who?”
    “Aaaaeeeiiii!!!” cried Dave as he ran off into the distance.
    “Whom!” said Fruppy.
    “I’m telling you it’s who.” Said Gip.
    “Don’t be ridiculous. He said ‘I’m gunna mess her up’. ‘Mess up’ is a verb, and like all verbs, it takes the accusative. In this case the object of the action is the inquisitive pronoun. And, as you know, ‘whom’ is the objective form of ‘who’, ‘I’m gunna mess up whom’ not ‘I’m gunna mess up who’.”
    “Nobody says ‘whom’ anymore. Grow up.”


     One Christmas I didn’t receive many Christmas cards. I think it might have had something to do with my Thanksgiving Day Spitting Contest. Or perhaps it was the fire, although that really wasn’t my fault -- Ms. Lipscumb shouldn’t have mouthed off like that. Anyway, I came to this fetid realization - you know, the one about the Christmas cards - one fetid March afternoon.
    “Mother of Pearl!” I exclaimed. “I didn’t get my usual assortment of Christmas cards this year!” Immediately I began planning my revenge. True, revenge isn’t really in the Christmas spirit, but it was, after all, March, and anyway I do whatever the hell I want. The question was, who to start with? Ms. Barowitz was an easy target, 96 years old and no limbs. I thought for a while about strangling her hamsters. True, it wasn’t her hamsters’ fault that Ms. Barowitz failed to send me a Christmas card, but on the other hand, what do the hamsters ever send me?
    “There are a variety of ways to kill a hamster,” the man from Radio Shack once told me. “Bazookas are good, but make sure you have them pointed in the right direction. Are you going to buy anything?”
    I decided to forget about Ms. Barowitz and her hamsters, and instead turned my thoughts to Alicia Silverstone. True, I have never met Alicia Silverstone and there is no reason why she should send me a Christmas card, but I really like thinking about her. Especially when I am upset. Another thing I like to think about whenever I get down, whenever I feel really depressed, is that thing my father used to tell me. “There are 250 million people in this country, and yet only one of them is Rush Limbaugh.” What are the odds of that? Well obviously it’s one in 250 million. Simple math tells you that. That’s the good thing about simple math. It’s so much easier than that “complicated” math that I was never good at. How could I be? I mean, all those numbers.


    “Women! Can’t live with them, or at least they won’t let me,” said Bernard as he got kicked out of his house for the third and final time. Bernard didn’t mind admitting that he was slightly surprised by it this time around. True, he had not gotten along very well with his wife, Mrs. X, for a few years now, but she usually managed to hide her resentment for him under a veil of fervent hostility and violence.
    “Bernard is okay,” she used to say. “What he lacks in intelligence he makes up for in intense stupidity.”
    Bernard didn’t want the marriage to end, but there didn’t seem to be much he could do about it. Even dragging his wife to a marriage counselor didn’t help. “Bernard,” the counselor said, “after talking to you and your wife for these past few months, my suggestion to you is to try to be more helpful, try to be more understanding and sensitive to your wife’s desires, and make that extra effort to go that one last mile to make things work between the two of you. For you, Mrs. X, I suggest immediate divorce.”


Oh No

    Greg Tormo was 25 years old. His new job at the firm of “Mckenzie Mckenzie & Mckenzie & Mckenzie” started tomorrow. Law School was over, the bar exam was over, the job hunt was over, everything was over. “Life is like watching 50 gallons of molasses roll down a hill,” he liked to say. He sat on his bed and stared at the television. It was not on.
    “Nothing ever happens,” said Greg. He took a deep breath. Then he sighed. Then he said, “Hmmm…” The clock on the VCR under the television was blinking the number “12:00.” Greg looked at his closet. “Aaa..” he said. Then the phone rang, disrupting him forever.
    “Hello?” said Greg after picking up the receiver. “Yeah…what?…what? .. nnn... wha?….why...…what?……..Oh, all right.”

    Meanwhile, the Earth sped around the sun at two thousand miles an hour and Claire Drake held on like an inchworm on the side of a speeding Ferrari. “All the time I feel like a salad bar with the sneeze guard missing,” she once told her therapist. To which, if Claire’s memory served her correctly, he replied, “Your hour is up, get off my couch.” And then he added, “That’ll be three hundred and eighty five thousand dollars.”
    Claire was pacing back and forth in her bedroom when she heard the sound of a pebble hitting her window. She opened it.
    “Greg? Is that you?”
    “Yeah,” replied Greg. “Come down.”
    “Why?”
    “We have to go to Nicky’s”
    “What? Why?” she asked.
    “Look, I don’t have time to explain this, but you and I have to go down to Nicky’s Pizzeria to meet Adam.”
    “It’s 11:30!” she argued.
    “I’m aware of the time at this present moment. Can we go?”
    “No, we can’t go. I don’t have time for this. I have to go to sleep immediately.”
    “He said it was an emergency,” said Greg.
    “Is he ok?” asked Claire.
    “He wouldn’t tell me. All I know is you and I have to go down to Nicky’s right now, or there will be some sort of trouble.”
    “Aaaaarg!” yelled Claire. “That guy is always fucking things up!” And with that, Claire slammed shut her window. 12.04 seconds later she was out her front door. “Lets go.”
    As they walked down to Nicky’s, Claire and Greg had an argument. “Give that to me,” said Claire as she grabbed the Rubik’s Cube away from Greg.
    “Hey, I was getting close!” complained Greg.
    “Just walk. I’m getting tired of watching you stare at this thing. All you do is this, this, and this.” And with that, the Rubik’s Cube was solved. “Here,” she said, handing it back to him.
    “I can’t believe you just did that!” yelled Greg, more than a little angry. “I’ve been working on that for weeks!”
    “Well you should be happy then,” said Claire. “I solved it for you.”
    “But what good is that?” he said. “I wanted to do it myself!” And suddenly, Greg had established that he doesn’t like other people solving his problems for him.
    “Yeah, well I’m a very ambitious feminist,” Claire replied, to nothing, really.
    The two of them continued to walk down the road, Claire’s tiny legs moving much faster than Greg’s larger ones but getting just as far.

    Nicky’s Pizzeria was a happening place about ten years ago. All the kids used to go there to get their pizza, or, if the mood struck them, a calzone. Then one day someone found a bloody rat in the bottom of a cup of soda. Word spread pretty quickly, and everything changed. Now, instead of being called “Nicky’s Pizzeria,” the restaurant was called “Nicky’s Pizzeria, the place where someone found a bloody rat in his soda.” Business suffered. “That rat, it is the bane of my existence!” says Nicky, but in a funny Italian accent.
    When Greg and Claire walked in, Adam was waiting for them in a booth with a goofy smile on his face. He was happy to see them and ushered them in.
    “Hey guys. How you doin’? Have a bite of this pizza. It has three kinds of cheeses.”
    But Greg and Claire were not in the mood for three kinds of cheeses. Furthermore, they had just spent the last fifteen minutes walking in the cold, arguing, and establishing each other’s character. They were in no mood for pleasantries.
    “What’s wrong?” he asked them.
    Claire took this opportunity to do a little venting. “What’s wrong?” she mimicked. “You call us down here at midnight, give us no explanation of why, and expect us to snap right to it. We had to walk down here, are you aware of that? I was about to go to sleep. But you don’t care. You’re only concerned with your own petty problems. You do this constantly. You get yourself into some kind of trouble, you decide you need something from someone, and you expect everybody to drop whatever their doing to attend to you. You’re insensitive, egotistical and unbelievably vain. It’s like you think you’re the only thing that matters in the world! I, for one, have had enough. I’m very tired.”
    “Well then I’ll get right to the point and tell you what I wanted to tell you” said Adam.
    “And what’s that?” asked Claire.
    “I’m God.”

    Greg sat there motionless as Claire struggled over the proper way to look as annoyed as possible. But before she could speak, Adam continued.
    “Look, I’m God, and I really don’t have time to fuck around. So let’s dispense with the usual silliness that typically occurs in these types of situations and get right to it. What can I do to prove to you that I am God?”


* Apparently

Back to Mick Neuman's Stuff

(c) 2002