Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

Missing Stereotypes

Posted on December 3, 2010

I think we all admit that stereotypes are useful shortcuts. How could we make it through our complicated, modern lives without relying upon constant, knee-jerk assumptions? But, I've noticed quite some glaring gaps in ethnic, religious, and political stereotypes. I can't understand how important decision-making tools have been allowed to lapse.

For instance, I have no idea how French people drive. Are they slow, conscientious drivers or listless speed demons? What should I blindly infer about the driving skills of a Frenchman? If anyone knows the stereotype for French drivers, please rate them on a scale between female Asian drivers to male German drivers.

Are Norwegians good at fly fishing? Bad at polo? How are they at playing the harp?

Are Argentinians naturally skilled at calculus?

Are Jews better or worse than Catholics at jigsaw puzzles?

Do people from Laos enjoy onion rings?

These are important questions, people. If I don't get some answers, I'm afraid I'll be paralyzed next time I'm in a social situation with someone different than me. What if I meet an Egyptian? Should I go in for a fist bump, or are Egyptians hand shakers? I NEED TO KNOW!

Sorry. I get nervous without my prejudices. It's as though I'm wrapped in a security blanket of illogical half-thought, and I just discovered it's laden with holes.

Without stereotypes, what would you suggest I do--judge a man on the measure of his character? Do you how much time and small talk that would take? No thank you.

I'll just go back to watching television commercials, thank you very much. Ooh, look, there's a McDonalds commercial with a young black man enjoying jazz. That's nice.


Face Monsters

Posted on December 2, 2010

Face Monster

Earlier this week, I seeded the zeitgeist. I created the term "face monster.” I tweeted it and Facebooked it, and now it has a life of its own. Godspeed, face monster. Be fruitful and multiply.

The definition is simple; Face monster means any oblivious, rich woman whose money and sense of entitlement has transformed her face into that of a monster. That could mean plastic surgery, even the best of which eventually turns lizard-y and monster-like. Or, on a younger face monster, it can simply be a constant expression of annoyance that somebody has heated her 110 degree latte to 115 degrees.

You see face monsters every day. Especially if you work on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Or, if you serve on the board of an impressive, yet elitist arts organization. Or, if you sell coats for tiny dogs.

[Note: I've focused on women here, but of course there are male face monsters. Think any man wearing Ralph Lauren. Or, men with a tan after November. Also, any Southern politician.]

I don’t want to brag, but I think I think “face monster” amazingly poetic. Succinct and true, it highlights an overlooked detail of experience and shows it to be universal. Words have the power to do that. They can say, “Hey, you may feel isolated and adrift, but at least we can all agree that this lady in the fur coat and yoga pants is a horrible face monster.” You see? You’re not alone.

According to responses to my Facebook status, the term “face monster” is spreading like wildfire. It’s already reached the West Coast. It makes sense. That is the epicenter of face monsterism. But, interestingly, it just as quickly penetrated the heartland. One responder has already begun describing suburban Wisconsinites as face monsters. Interesting, right?

I expect it to reach across the entire globe soon. Especially now that I’ve posted it to this blog. I’ve read The Tipping Point. I know how this shit works.

Soon--maybe as early as tomorrow--some young child in the Luxembourg will look up at his grandmother. He’ll see her Hermes scarf and the tiny lip scab from the morning’s collagen injection. And, at that moment, he will finally have a word for her. “Face monster.”

You’re welcome, little boy … You’re welcome.


Insider Jokes

Posted on December 1, 2010

As winter sets in, I worry about spending too many nights inside with my wife, Colleen. I’m afraid without outside contact, my sense of humor is getting too insider-y, too niche.

I'll give you an example: Yesterday at work, my boss found out I write comedy. So, of course, he asked me to tell him a joke. I said, "Alright, well, I haven't performed stand-up in awhile, but this joke that gets a big reaction from my wife." And, I pulled up his shirt and put my cold hands on his belly.

He didn’t laugh at all. It’s as though he totally didn’t understand the premise. Doesn’t he have a sense of humor? I put my cold hands on his warm belly. How is that not hilarious?

So, I went in for the follow-up joke, which is a tickle fight. It’s a classic “tag,” as they say in the comedy biz. A one-two punch. Again, he must not have gotten the joke, because no laugh.

At home, this stuff gets huge laughs. Mostly from me. Colleen never laughs at my hilarious jokes. Even the extra funny, super hilarious jokes. Like, sometimes, when she’s doing the dishes, I’ll stand behind her making farting noises with my mouth. Or, if she’s trying to read, I’ll climb in her lap and make farting noises.

Okay, so those jokes are amazing, right? Never a single laugh from Colleen. (Only huge laughing jags from me.) But, at least she properly acknowledges the jokes—she’ll push me away, she’ll roll her eyes, she’ll pinch me. An eye roll tells me, “Yes, I admit that your joke is very droll. You are indeed a rare wit, and I am humbled to be your audience. But, I can’t laugh right now, because I’m busy doing our taxes.”

Did my boss roll his eyes? Did he cross his arms and purse his lips? No, he just calmly walked into his office, closed his door, and emailed Human Resources to set up a meeting with me tomorrow. That is not someone who appreciates a good cold-hand-on-a-warm-belly gag.

I’m just glad I didn’t waste my spot-on impression of my apartment building’s super on him.


The Ultimate?

Posted on November 30, 2010

A quick note to email spammers:

How can every college fuck fest be the ultimate college fuck fest? The ultimate? Are you sure that’s the word you’re looking for? C'mon, spam email, they can't all be the ultimate college fuck fest.

Sure, one of them is indeed the ultimate college fuck fest. I admit it's out there somewhere. But, technically, the next one down the line would be the penultimate college fuck fest. You see? Penultimate means the thing just below ultimate. There’s only one ultimate college fuck fest. That’s why it’s called the ultimate one.

There’s an order to the world. You can’t just go around jumbling every fuck fest together into one single level of fuck fest.

It goes the ultimate college fuck fest, the penultimate college fuck fest, and so on and so on. Until, finally, you reach the least ultimate college fuck fest. That’s the one with the least collegiate, least festive fucking--a fuck fest that reaches just a bare minimum requirements to still be considered a college fuck fest. Let’s say, just for argument’s sake, it’s an absent-minded hand job at the Kansas City ITT Technical Institute.

Under your rubric, even this half-hearted HJ would count as the ultimate college fuck fest. Do you see how that demeans the quality and vigor of the actual ultimate college fuck fest? Those kids are working hard for that title. They deserve your respect. Don’t belittle their accomplishment.

I know, spammers, that you’ve got a job to do. I understand that it involves a certain amount of hyperbole. But, some sort of standard has to be kept.

If every college fuck fest becomes the ultimate college fuck fest, then no college fuck fest is the ultimate college fuck fest. Think about it.



Posted on November 29, 2010

It's official that on this day, November 29th, my jack-o'-lantern has reached its peak scariness.

I’d hoped it would have attained its peak scariness at Halloween. I mean that's what we all hope for right? But, I've often found that jack-o'-lanterns never become truly, frightfully scary until mid-to-late November. Sometimes even into early December. Definitely past the first frost.

Look at it there, sitting on the front stoop, looming over passers-by. Its eyes, once wide with terror, now drooped into a condescending scowl. Its teeth, so carefully carved to seem haphazardly crooked, now actually haphazardly crooked. Its cheeks, once plump and undefined, now sunken and gaunt. Only now is this jack-o'-lantern truly horrifying.

And, the color. When I first carved it, it was a bright orange. Now, it’s a kind of hazy gray/tangerine. Your eyes can never fully adjust to just what color they’re seeing. Is it matte? Is shiny? Parts of it seems translucent. Whatever it is, it feels unnatural. Or, is it too natural? Is this an unnerving glimpse into the viscera of nature, itself?

What do we see when we look into an early-winter jack-o’-lantern? Behind its unsymmetrical face, with its hints of Bell’s palsy. Behind the shadows of limp, stringy flesh dangling from its cavities. Behind the mold spread across its once-pristine surface. Do we see our own slow death? Is it simply the fear of decay?

Or, is it the fear of being forgotten—left past one’s usefulness on a porch or a concrete windowsill? Is it the dread of existing beyond our utility? What is there for us beyond our allotted time? Slow nothingness?

Whatever it is, it’s fucking scary. That is the scariest fucking jack-o’-lantern I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine it getting anymore goddamn scary. Seriously, I can’t.

I think this is its peak scariness. Thank God.


Blue Plaid Shirts

Posted on November 26, 2010


Oops, I think I got caught up in the spastic rush of Black Friday shopping today. I worry I may have bought a blue, plaid shirt that I already own. So, I decided to keep this handy list on my phone of all the blue, plaid shirts in my possession. Just so that I don't make the same mistake again.

- Blue. Plaid. Bits of brown. Short sleeves. The Gap.

- Blue. Plaid. Accents of red and light blue. Long sleeves. Banana Republic Outlet.

- Blue. Plaid. Alternating light blue and white. Long sleeves. Chili stain on right chest pocket. H&M.

- Blue. Plaid. Green lines. Cowboy cut. Collar sits a little high. Accents my man boobs and love handles. Rides up in the back. (Remember to donate this one to Goodwill.) The Gap.

- Blue. Plaid. Mother of pearl buttons. Witnessed a murder while wearing this shirt. Dry clean only. The Gap.

- Blue. Plaid. Flannel. Bits of green and yellow. Actually a plaid picnic blanket that I wrap around my torso and tuck into my pants on laundry day. Land's End.

- Blue. Plaid. Linen. Accents of dark blue. Lent to girl I had a crush on in high school. Never washed since. Still smells slightly of her, though mostly masked by mildew at this point. Unknown store.

- Blue. Plaid. Oversized from when I weighed 300 lbs. Shot that before-and-after weight loss commercial with it. Got paid in weight loss supplement that gave me arrhythmia. Sued. Won settlement of more weight loss supplement. Found out my class action lawyer was bribed by the defense. Chased him to Cancun after he fled the country. Wrote a mystery novel detailing it all. Still waiting on the galley copy. Land's End.

- Blue. Plaid. Breast pocket always seems to have a movie stub in it. Macy's.

- Blue. Plaid. Flecks of purple. Short sleeve. Has the words "R.I.P. Tupac" embroidered in script across the back.

- Blue. Plaid. Accents of red and light blue. Long sleeves. Banana Republic Outlet. (Now own two of these.)


Thanksgiving Story

Posted on November 25, 2010

Tonight, after a long Thanksgiving with my relatives, I'm full of turkey and passive-aggressive tension. Both are tiring. So, instead of my usual bit of wordy, pedantic nonsense, I thought I'd share a true story. It's about my parents' first Thanksgiving:

My father and mother started dating while she was in grad school and he was working at the phone company to save up for law school.

The first time my grandparents met him, it was at his black-satin-sheeted bachelor pad. (He had picked up some European flair while serving in Italy in the navy.) I guess it wasn't the best first impression. Especially because my grandfather was an imposing figure--the head of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.

So, my dad was trying very hard to make a better second impression when my mom dragged him to Thanksgiving in Cleveland that year.

He bought a couple of roasted chickens in preparation for the trip, and he practiced carving them until he had it down to a science. When the big day arrived, he graciously offered to carve the turkey.

Swip, swip, swip. He honed the knife against the sharpening steel, and with a grand flourish, he sliced into the turkey. White meat, dark meat--it was as effortless and beautiful as a magician fanning a deck of cards. The turkey simply unfolded before the family at the table.

With a cocky grin, my dad looked up at his future father-in-law and said, "Well, Doctor, how's that for a handsome bit of surgery?"

"Nice job, hot shot," replied my grandfather. "Now let's see you put it back together."

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.


Things I’m Thankful For

Posted on November 24, 2010

The following is a list of things I'm thankful for on this thanks-based holiday:

- My health, which is moderate to high moderate.

- My hammock. I would have listed this first, but I didn't want to jinx my health.

- My day job. Much better than my old day job of being unemployed and catching the second half of Miss Congeniality 2 on USA every couple of weeks.

- Mife, which is short for "my wife." (I'm also thankful for my amazing abbreviation skills. Myzingabbills, if you will.)

- New batteries for my beard trimmer. I now look up to 20% less werewolfy.

- The non-racist branch of my family.

- The five dollar bill I just found in this turkey costume I haven't worn since last year.

- The Internet and it's amazing spellcheck capabilities.

- All my expensive birthday gifts. The inexpensive, yet thoughtful gifts are okay, too, I guess.

- Dogs.

- My eyeballs. They needed reading glasses just in time to make me look even more pensively handsome.

- That part in Van Morrison's Sweet Thing where the violins go "doo do do do do doo dooo."

- My ability to laugh at myself. Or, more specifically, my ability to laugh at the thing I just wrote and then ask mife (my wife) if she's read it yet.

- Netflix Streaming's you-might-like suggestions. Quirky foreign sex comedies? Don't mind if I do!

- Jack Handey.

- My annual stop at Wendy's during my Thanksgiving road trip to Cleveland. Oh, number seven with frosty, absence has made my heart grow so fond.

- My blog readers. The both of you.


The Way to a Man’s Heart

Posted on November 23, 2010

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. The way to his stomach is through his mouth. And, the way to his mouth is through his lips, teeth and gums. Is this getting too complicated? Here, I’ll give you the directions to a man’s heart on step at a time.

Alright, from where you are, you’re going to want to face the man whose heart you want to reach. Approach said man and politely ask him to open his mouth. After he does so, crawl inside.

Keep your hands out in front of you to push the tongue out of the way. Get a good foothold on the teeth. You’re going to need a strong kickoff to make it down past the epiglottis--his gag reflex will be fighting you the whole way.

At the fork, make sure to take the esophagus. Do not take the larynx! If you take the larynx, you’re going to get all turned around in the lungs. The bronchioli are just a series of dead ends. And, all of them look the same. You’ll swear you’re going around in circles.

Slide down the esophagus to the gastroesophageal junction. (The sign might say GE junction. Don’t worry; it’s the same thing.) Pass on through. Congratulations! You’ve just entered the stomach, or as the brochures call it, “The Gateway to the Heart.”

Somewhere around the duodenum is where the trip gets uncomfortable—a lot of pancreatic enzymes and bile and such. If you can, skip all that and enter the bloodstream through an ulcer.

Then, it’s just a matter of finding a vein and following it to the end of the line. All veins eventually lead to the heart. I mean, I guess I could give you the step-by-step of travelling though the venous system, but you’ve made it this far. I have faith you can find the heart from here.

So, that’s it. Follow these simple step-by-step instructions, and you’ll make it to your man’s heart.

It’s only once you’re inside his heart, though, that things get complicated. What with his love of audiovisual gadgets and his feelings for his long-suffering mother making it pretty crowded in there. Good luck with all that.


Fortune Cookies

Posted on November 22, 2010

Fortune Cookie

The most accurate fortune cookie fortune I ever had said simply, “Look about you before you leap.” Just moments later, a delivery truck jumped the curb and came crashing through the Chinese restaurant’s window. If I hadn’t read that fortune, I would have been a dead duck. Much like those near the window. (Don’t worry; they were dead before the truck hit them. Also, they were literal ducks.)

It was scary, but I think I could have brushed it off if not for the next time I got Chinese food. I opened up my cookie, and my fortune said, “You are almost there.” Here’s the thing: I was eating my fortune on the walk home from the restaurant. Guess where I read that fortune? On my front steps! What the what?!

Ever since then, I’ve avoided fortune cookies at all costs. Too strong mojo for this guy. Sure, “You are going to have some new clothes” sounds benign. But, isn’t it creepy that you are, indeed, going to get new clothes at some point? I mean, you have to buy new clothes eventually, right? And, is that because your old clothes wore out, or is some rigid, unchangeable fate emanating forward through time from that fortune cookie?

My wife once got the fortune “Tonight you will be blinded by passion.” She just laughed it off. At worst, she thought it was a hopeful metaphor. If I had gotten that fortune, I would have gotten a thumb in my eye during the big show. I just know it.

My friends say I’m being superstitious and that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like I’m the one causing it. What about when I got “You will be successful at work” as a fortune? The next day, we had a last-minute pitch meeting scheduled, and I work diligently throughout the night to get ready. The pitch was a rousing success. Does that sound like me? I don’t think so. It’s these accursed fortune cookies.

I can’t be happy knowing that much power lies crumpled up inside crunchy, sweet dough. It’s unsettling. Let’s say I get the fortune, “You life will be quiet and peaceful.” Will I go deaf? Will I go into a coma? Will I get a lobotomy? Whatever it is, it’s unnatural. Clearly the man before you now is not meant to have a peaceful life.

It’s gotten to the point where when I see an Asian man carrying a plastic bag, I run away. Which is awkwardly racist, I know. But, what am I supposed to do? Just sit there and let my sinister destiny be sealed by a slip of paper?

The worst part of it is that I love lo mein. I miss it so much. But, it’s not worth a brush against the Dark Arts.

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