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2017 – My Year in Review

December 24, 2017 8:53 p.m.

Dearest friends, family, good people on both sides, Irma, Harvey, Jose, Maria, Reality Winner, Young Sheldon, Jayden K Smith, Lord Buckethead, and all you dotards out there. And to those Russian bots scanning this transmission, С Рождеством!

Before I begin, I must send my thoughts and prayers to those who have lost loved ones in the Bowling Green Massacre, the Sweden Attacks, the Panem Hunger Games, the “La La Land” Best Picture mishap, and the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl collapse. We grieve bigly.

And now on with the only fake news that is really fake. Please take a knee!. . . NO! . . .Wait! Stand! . . . Aw, heck, do as you want, it’s a free country. . . at least for now. . . But leave your pants ON, for God’s sake! 

Where did the year go? (Asking for a friend.) 280 characters flew by like it was only 140. It certainly was a year of stranger things, messed up AF, straight savage, garbage fasho! But I’m done throwing shade on it, so I’ll just take the L. (And that was all before I earned my certificate in Millennial Speech: 101 at an online community college. Sorry, not sorry.) Let us think back upon a year of leaks, leakers, leeks (delicious in soups), wildfires, “You’re fired!”, and the Fyre Festival. But so. . . much. . . winning that it’s made me wanna do the Salt Bae Dance.

Overall, my time out west was eventful as I’m sure you know it was a year of scandal in Hollywood. The town got Fifty Shades Darker when The Star was told to Get Out. Yup, he was unceremoniously booted from the Glass Castle. After all, he was the Boss, Baby! Though it certainly was Beauty and the Beast. It’s a Wonder it took this long to expose The Big Sick sleaze ball. What a Disaster Artist he was! From there, It was one big Justice League on all these culprits. Such is Life. 

Unfortunately, I too did not escape unscathed due to the actions I took during my younger days. Back then, I attended a lot of music concerts and was frequently stuck sitting on the lawn with the rest of the less affluent masses. So I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a fan club or two to have access to better seats. In hindsight, I realize I probably should not have become a “humper,” but I will never regret my love of Englebert Humperdink though I have since let my fan club membership lapse. Even with my most sincere apology, however, I still got fired from my new job after only ten days, two days before my official start date.

On the bright side, that left me with ample time to pursue several entrepreneurial ventures, including: a line of clothes for pet birds, the condiment combination ketchrelstard, and various Uber knockoffs such as Gluber (in classroom adhesive delivery for kids); Suber (instant lawsuits); Muber (dairy products when you need them); and Hans Gruberuber (Alan Rickman comes to your house in 24 hours or less to recite lines from “Die Hard”). I even found time to upload an audiobook version of my nonfiction work “Why People Don’t Listen” on Audible, but . . . at present, it has yet to register its first sale on the platform. 

I also made a concerted effort this year to improve my health by focusing on weight loss, my “skinny repeal” so to speak. I thrived on a steady diet of nothing burgers (medium rare) and covfefe smoothies while drenching everything else in gorgonzola and feta (which kept me from eating it because I hate that stuff). After two weeks, I’m proud to report that I lost almost 20 I.Q. points. I’m now completely vegan, eating only those animals that abstain from meat.  

When it comes to travel, sadly, the year was not an abundant as I had hoped. I planned to visit Puerto Rico, which a lot of people don’t know is an island with a lot of water around it and that makes it very difficult to get to, a very big island… but I have booked another trip for the coming days. I leave to Nambia in mid-January, which I’m excited about. I’ve even begun learning Nambian!

And so as “winter is coming,” and the stockings are stuffed with fidget spinners, dog whistles, and unusable World Cup tickets, I sit by the brilliant glow of my Tiki torches, engaged in a little light reading (an unabridged copy of the Steele Dossier), a refreshing Mueller High Life in hand, and the knowledge that my bank account is bursting with bitcoins keeping me as safe and secure as a passenger on United Airlines. I bid you all a most wonderful evening. 

May the fruits of hope and prosperity be cross bred to bring you a 2018 filled with hoperity!

Bye Felicia!

Hugs, 

Andy Wasif

Happy Anniversary!

The ticking of the miniature grandfather clock centered on the mantel seemed to grow louder, each pass from the pendulum a hatchet to the silence of the living room, which itself spoke loudly as a docent, guiding us through a family’s history.  The clock, a wedding present from Aunt Mabel, purchased in 1940 during a train trip to Chicago and kept on her own mantel before passing it along.  The azure-colored chair with the black trim, a 1960s-era beauty, still in good shape, virtually untouched, seemed out of place set aside from the more modern Macy’s sofa with black cushions you could get lost in that framed the white lacquered coffee table peppered with aging Readers Digest magazines.

Hanging on the walls and displayed next to the clock, this exhibition’s depth was captured by discount store frames highlighting the family through the decades — that trip to Paris where he proposed; the formal bride and groom pose at the Spring Valley Country Club; a portrait of her holding a rosy-faced newborn; their eldest in his Little League baseball uniform; a portrait of the entire nuclear family, now totaling four, from Sears with a backdrop of green, brown, and yellow, defined by polyester pants and pointed collars; and finally, one similar, this in high definition, showing an aged couple with their expanded family — three generations of Mitchells, the couple from the start flashing a smile in direct opposition to the pair that now sits across the room at the dining room table.

The present versions of themselves, Hy and Sylvia, now in their 70s, stare at each other with passion.  That is, a passionate distaste.  Hy’s forehead creases angrily driving his eyes downward, his breath escaping through his deviated septum steadily with a slight wheeze between every third tock of the clock as he sits hunched over his dinner plate.

Equally, Sylvia’s mouth clenched, her back molars locked in a struggle for supremacy.  Her head angled away, she glares through the corners of her wrinkled eyes, suspicious and skeptical of his very existence.

Finally, after an inordinate amount of time when even the cooling meal in front of them felt uncomfortable, Hy speaks.

“Hag,” he says, with purpose, as if he’d prepared just the right word for the occasion.

“Bastard,” Sylvia counters as a tennis pro would effortlessly volley from inside the service boxes.

And again, they fall prey to the clock’s syncopated rhythm, the tea vapor visibly dissipating into the atmosphere.

And then. . .

“I know what you’re doing to me,” Hy says in a “J’accuse!” moment.

Unswayed, “Sylvia replies, “What am I doing to you?  I made you a nice meal with potatoes, brisket, green beans…”  Each food a pointed indictment of his tone.

Hy interrupts, “Nuts!”

She rolls her eyes at his paranoia — those gray-blue eyes with specs of brown that he used to write poetry about, albeit bad poetry.  “There are no nuts!”

Gaining confidence, Hy says, “There are nuts!  Pine nuts, walnuts…”

Sylvia nods.  Ah, so this is how we’re gonna play it, she thinks.  “So what if there are?”

“You know it wreaks havoc with my colitis.”

“You don’t. . . have. . . colitis,” she says for the umpteenth time.  If she didn’t know any better, she’d swear smoke was coming from her molars.

“I don’t need a doctor to tell me what I have,” Hy claims for the umpteenth-plus-one time, clenching his fist. He’s sure her constant argumentative state is the cause of his arthritis.  “My father had it, my brother had it, I have it.”

Sylvia doesn’t dare continue.  What’s the point?  She reaffixes her gaze at him, as if they’d invented a surgery that replaced her retina with disintegration lasers.  And Hy focuses all his energy on her, boring a hole in her with his mind.

Sylvia breaks the silence this time.  “Sonuvabitch.”

“Shrew.”

Sylvia leans in, launching her offensive.  “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing either.”

Hy’s eyes grow wide and innocent.  Oh, really?  My hands are nowhere near the cookie jar, he thinks.  Her claims are but baseless speculation.  “I’m doing nothing.”

“Flirting with your tai chi instructor is nothing?” Sylvia’s eyes narrow.

“What flirting?  She helps me to touch my toes.”

“Does she have to stand so close?”

“It’s the nature of the beast.”

Sylvia throws her hands up in the air.  “50 years, I’ve never known what that means.”

“It means just what it says,” Hy says, a favorite response of his and distant relation to his trite parenting phrase “Because I said so.”

“Well, that doesn’t help.”

Hy’s stomach begins to churn, like large vats of cream at a Dreyer’s factory.  “You’re giving me indigestion.”

A little giddy at the thought, Sylvia snaps, “You deserve indigestion.”

Hy sits up sharply and says, “And you deserve–” His mind races to come upon any witty and pointed rejoinder for several beats before losing interest with a disinterested wave of his hand.  “Meh!”

They reposition themselves in silence, shorter in duration this time as Sylvia senses her husband wearing down.

“Gasbag!”

“Hygenially-challenged fussbucket!” Hy says, surprising even himself with such a gem.  He sits back proudly and crosses his arms.

The woman he had for many years sweetly called “Syl” flicks a snap over her head.  “You’ve got nothing to complain about in the wife department,” she says.

This plays right into Hy’s hands.  He reaches past his faded argyle vest and into  the breast pocket of his one-size too large department store shirt.  “I’ll show you nothing to complain about… I’ve got a list.”  And with that, he pulls out a piece of paper, folded into credit card size, fraying around the edges.  Clearly, it’s been his companion for a while.

The reveal doesn’t seem to surprise Sylvia who waits in anticipation of Hy’s grand production as he retrieves his bifocals from his vest pocket and tries to flick them open with the flick of a wrist.  They don’t budge.  After four attempts, he grabs one earpiece and opens them manually.  Sylvia lets out a heavy, impatient sigh.  “Yeah, put your cheaters on.”  Hy ignores her comment, instead focusing on the matter at hand.

“Number One,” he says, pausing for suspense, “– the first fifteen years. . .   Number Two – Paris.”

Sylvia shakes her head, almost feeling sorry for him.  “Still with the Paris!”

“I should have left you at the Eiffel Tower.”

“I should have jumped.”  Sylvia one-ups him again.

Hy puts his list aside and leans against the table, his sleeve catching a bit of mashed potatoes, “You think you got it so bad?

“You bet your trick knee, I do.  I got a list!”  And with that she reaches down her housecoat to pull out a note card from deep in her bosom.

Hy throws his head back and lets out a guffaw, the sudden movement causing a sharp crick, a sensation radiates through his neck.  He grabs it, hoping Sylvia doesn’t see.  “This should be rich,” he says.

She takes the bifocals from around her neck and puts them on.  From the front of the card, she reads,” Number One – You never listen to me!”

Hy’s taken aback by this.  “Never listen to you?!  I hear you in my sleep!!”

Undeterred, Sylvia flips the card over, “Number Two – Paris.”

“You stole “Paris” from me!”

Sylvia says, “I should have never gotten in your car.”

“I should have kept on driving.”  He feels his sweater start to irritate his skin as his temperature rises.  He and his wife of fifty years settle back into their default positions, nostrils flaring, until the intermission ends quickly, Sylvia now just toying with the timing to catch Hy off-guard.

“Loser.”

“Witch.”

“Faggot!”

Hy gasps.  “That was one time!” he says, hurt that she would dredge up the drunken collegiate costume party when he asked out a fair-skinned football player in a cheerleader’s outfit, a mistake he has regretted twice — the night of the party, and the time he told her about it.

Having him on the ropes, Sylvia indicts him.  “You promised me a house…”

He looks around at their comfortable surroundings.  “What, are we living in a box?”

Sylvia continues, “…on a hill, a house on a hill.”

Hy squares up his body to the table.  “Oh, I see.  You want a hill?  I’ll give you a hill.”  He picks up his fork and slices the tines through the pile of mashed potatoes, now cold among the green beans and brisket in front of him.  He scoops some of the potato onto the fork.  He always loved that Sylvia makes it with lumps, but never more than he does at this moment as the starchy side dish doesn’t run through the fork.  He turns the fork back to him like it’s a miniature Jai Alai basket and without any pretense, spikes the food right into her water glass.

Sylvia cowers for a moment, but her fear quickly returns to anger, with double the intensity, twice the fury.  “How dare you?!  She picks up the glass of mashed potato water, her fingers gripping it so tightly her age spots seem to whiten, and she flicks the glass so the water sails out toward him, though wide left of his head.

He whips his head around to see it land harmlessly on the carpet behind him, sinking into the microfibers.  Now seething as well, he turns back to her.

“I’m glad you did that!”  Hy pushes his chair back, its legs sputtering along the Persian rug beneath the dining room set.  He stands, steadies himself, and then lifts a leg toward 30 degrees as if to take a step before placing it back down in front of him.  Then he makes a controlled swipe forward with his left arm, and bringing that back, he swipes forward identically with his right arm, as if swimming in molasses in a Tai Chi movement called, “Working the Pulley.”  Then both arms over head before releasing them to his sides.  Hy finally begins to feel comfortable after six weeks of practice.

“I’ve wanted to do this for fifty years.”

“If you want a fight, you’ve got it, buster.”  Sylvia tries to extricate herself from the table, but has trouble, her knee banging into the table leg as her chair catches on the rug she now regrets purchasing.  She continues to struggle as Hy repeats his taolu across the table.

“Prepare to get the beating of your life.”

“I’m gonna tear you apart,” she says, still struggling.  After a moment of trying to figure out why her chair won’t move, she looks up at him.  “Help me up.”

Hy puts his tai chi behind him and shuffles over to her.  He lifts the corner of the table, just enough for the rug to give way and for Sylvia’s leg to gain its freedom.  He leans over her.  She puts her arms around his neck and he grabs around her back.  “On three, we’re gonna stand.  One, two. . .” and on “three,” he shifts his weight back as Sylvia springs up, her foot catching on the table leg which sends her stumbling into his arms.  When she regains her balance, she looks up to see Hy’s eyes a nose away from hers.  They stare at each other, their hot breath crashing against each other’s mouths like waves at the base of a stately lighthouse, stirring the memories of a thousand caring moments forged over five decades of love.

Sylvia smiles.  “You know what this reminds me of?” a warm tone of pumpkin spice awash in autumn colors that has always had the ability to melt Hy’s heart.

Hy nods and whispers, “Paris,” as he tilts his head to kiss her ever so gently on her lips.

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“Will Beg for Dignity” — Available Now

The new humor book from bestselling author Andy Wasif detailing his most personal and hilarious essays is now available on Amazon. Enjoy!

2016 – My Year In Review

This annual end of the year note is gonna be YUGE! Believe me! It’s gonna tell you tremendous things, things that are really great. Those who say it won’t are wrong. They’re liars and disgusting people. Sad. . . Now I know there are a lot of these notes out there that are spreading real anecdotes, but you can trust that my anecdotes are really and truly 100% real fake.

It goes out to all those dearest friends, family members, bad hombres, nasty women, Berners, Twitter trolls, killer clowns, elves on shelves, Pokemon Goers, and David S. Pumpkins who populated my timeline during the past 12 months. (And to those comrades hacking this transmission, a very heartfelt ?????????? ?????????? to you.)

So take a knee and we’ll get right to it!

I know a lot of you were not thrilled with 2016, but I’m a glass half-filled guy even if this year’s glass was filled with an Arnold Palmer-like concoction of water from Flint, Michigan and Guaranama Bay in Rio de Janeiro. In a year when we endured the loss of Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, logic, Mohammed Ali, civil discourse, Gene Wilder, intelligent foresight, the Billy Goat curse, hope, Ryan Lochte’s integrity, real news, and Harambe, hey . . .  at least we found Richard Simmons!!!

So far, the holiday season is off to a great start as I wound up with a gift basket of deplorables at the Office Christmas Party (in theaters now) elephant swap.

From there, the year started off bigly. I’m putting you all on blast that I was like a fleekalaur on fleek mode going fleek trappin’ during Fleek Week, and overall representing the Urban Dictionary I received last holiday season.

Though I hit a funk as spring uncoiled and I felt a feeling I hadn’t felt in a long time, a longing I hadn’t longed for in a felt time. I sat in solitude and took stock of my life. At that point, I came to the conclusion that I had to sell off my life stock before my portfolio went bankrupt. I was frustrated and wanted escape, to travel back to a time when life was simpler. I looked for a way to time travel, but couldn’t find a time machine, so I opted for a time staycation instead and remained right in March of 2016.

It was then I decided to do something really challenging, to venture out of my comfort zone. Should I be climbing mountains, running marathons, Standing Rock? Just the consideration seemed impossible so I ultimately opted for a staycation in my comfort zone instead. With my Phelps face on, I bottle flipped a mannequin while someone dumped an ice bucket on me as I performed 22 push ups with a mouth full of cinnamon, all to create an awareness for viral videos. We mustn’t let them die out.

With my soul replenished, I resolved to expand my horizons. Why, I learned so many life hacks this year, I started hacking life like a pro — I learned how to boycott a Broadway musical I couldn’t afford anyway, leak Wikis to the world, sell drug medicine to those who need it for prices they can’t afford while simultaneously giving myself a pay raise, all while reaching my Fitbit goal of “70% AWESOME”. (I didn’t want to overexert myself by doing too much too soon.)

Then this summer, I took up competitive eating. It was more on a whim, as I saw a bowl of oreos and Swedish fish and just started chowing down. They are addictive. Well, one thing led to another and against all odds, I won one contest, then another. Eaters with more of a pedigree of swallowing crap than I were swiftly eliminated. My rise was unpresidented. I reached the semis and then the Finals. I had to get serious.

I replaced my entire prep team and gave it my best shot. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I ate MORE Swedish fish oreos than my opponent. . . good enough for second place. (They have an arcane scoring system in these contests.) And here I am, back to private life. 

Though I recovered emotionally, my loss drove a wedge between me and my girlfriend Alexa. She left me, choosing to do it by writing a note on my 3rd Century replica manuscript book. The worst thing is that she took my collection of classic guitar players’ memorabilia, though I’ll also miss her cooking as she had a real flair for chile con carne and fajitas. Yep, I experienced a true Alexit-codexit-Jeff Beckzit-TexMexit. (Mom used to warn me it happens to all of us at one time or another.)

But now as 2016 mercifully becomes a dim ember in the rear view mirror, let us raise our glasses and scream, “YAHOO!” er, I mean, “VERIZON!” to toast to new adventures.

May you all grab 2017 by the click bait!

Yours Truly,

Andy Wasif

An Open Letter to England

Hey, England, ‘sup? It’s us, America. We were just listening to Breakfast with the Beatles while eating an English muffin with all those nooks and crannies in them — man, those are good! — and you popped into our head. Heard you’re single again. How’s that going? . . .  Us? Oh, we’re good. Yeah, definitely. Just doing our thang, you know. . . Oh, who are we kidding?!. . . We want to come back!

I know on the outside, we look like we’ve got it all together, driving around in our gas-guzzling SUV chanting “U-S-A!” — with a vanity plate that reads “Un1ted” — but. . . what’s that?. . . oh, it doesn’t look like that at all?. . . It’s pretty obvious we’re a wreck, huh?. . . “United.” Ha! We can’t even get half the country to admit that science really exists. . . this includes the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee! We’ve got issues.

Don’t get us wrong, it was pretty fun for a while — the brash, bold upstart with a new take on government. We built a pretty good country, but who knew it would be so tough to maintain? We’re 240 years old now and finally mature enough to realize we need help.

Our government’s a mess — we have one branch where members pout and ignore their actual job if they don’t get their way 100% of the time, and another branch that has been short-staffed for months because of those aforementioned spoiled children; we’re shooting each other in the streets almost daily, but can’t take steps toward a consensus solution even though the majority of our population wants it; and we love our soldiers, but can’t bother to take care of them once they come home. Some democracy, huh?

Our Constitution, that piece of sacred parchment, was supposed to take care of this, but everyone just misquotes it and whines, “The Founders would have wanted it this way.” Ask any of them to name these founders and he’s more likely to mention the cast of the first season of “Survivor” than to mention actual colonials. (Thanks for that show, by the way; it’s been a great success for us.)

I guess you’ve also heard by now that we’ve been seeing an orange-colored, bigoted narcissist who doesn’t know his arse from a Russian-occupied peninsula. It’s nothing serious. . . Okay, at first, it wasn’t serious, but now things are way out of control . He’s become increasingly unhinged and abusive. But we keep thinking, “How bad could it really get?”

It could get really, really bad. That’s why we’ve come to this realization — we need you. We need each other.

Look, I know we’ve had some rough patches — we threw your tea into the harbor, you burned down our White House. . . which we admit we totally deserved! — but we were young and cocky, only a few decades old, the New World equivalent of a breast-feeding infant. Whatever, that’s old news, water under the London Bridge. C’mon, who between us is perfect?

Let’s focus on those good times we had like The French and Indian War. Hm? And World War II, right? We were pretty darn formidable then. And how about the Iraq Invas— er, well, no sense in bringing up the past. Anyway… we’ve grown. We’re young adults as countries go. And what do young adults do in this day and age? They move home to live with their parents!

Together, think of how many medals Briterica (©2016) will win in the Olympic Games. Plus, we have some great islands to offer — islands such as American Samoa. Nice, huh? We also have a rockin’ collection of music and tv shows. (Actually, a lot of it is yours, we just repackaged it.) And we know your actors will be so excited they won’t have to fake our accent when playing American characters in movies anymore.

Think about it — when you visit, you won’t have to go through customs, where the line is long; this will give you more time to spend at Disneyland. . . where the lines are long. Oh, and we’ve got Las Vegas now! That’s something that wasn’t here under King George’s rule.

We’ll even start putting a “u” in words like “favour,” “honour,” and “flour”… What?… “Flour” already has a “u?” See, this why we’d make a great team! And while we’re talking here, could you also explain the difference between Northern Ireland and Ireland to us? We always figured they’re both the same, except that one is, y’know . . . north.

And if we get that independence itch again, we won’t pull that same stunt we did way back when. We’ll go straight to counseling. Austria can be our mediator. (She’s good with that head-shrinking stuff.) Scouts honor. Hand to the queen. (Or whatever saying you use to make a promise.)

So that’s our pitch. Take all the time you want to decide, though we’d love it if you could reply before November 8th, just to save what’s left of our sanity. (And if you could let your lawmakers do it and not leave it up to a referendum vote.) Our self-esteem is pretty low right now and sinking every day. Thanks, babe!

Love Always,

The United States of. . . Britain (??)

A Motivational Message

And now, a motivational message. . . composed entirely of TV theme song lyrics. Please click here to be throughly and irrevocably motivated:  http://bit.ly/36cUFvN

2015 – My Year in Review

To all my dearest friends from Jon to Trevor, Stephen to Larry, Dave to Stephen, and Bruce to Caitlyn…oh, and, of course, Mr. Nutz (Deez, you know I can’t forget youz),

Hello! How are you? It’s so typical of me to talk about myself, I’m sorry. . . But Adele lyrics aside, according to my FitBit, I’m “Kill’nit!” even in the face of this tumultuous, turbulent, truculent transitioning of the times which glided by like a hoverboard along the crumbling infrastructure of society. That said, whereas the rest of the world saw a black dress, I saw a gold one!

It was a year of self-realizing who I was. . . and then self-identifying with someone else. This allowed me to park in handicapped spaces, accept a Tony Award, and step on the GOP debate stage to spout random stuff off the top of my head. But in the end, I showed up everyday and worked hard, sometimes 22, 23 hours a day. Such is the price to pay when you’re a part-time employee for Amazon. Hey, I do my job, even if I don’t believe in it. I mean, who am I, Kim Davis? BOOM!

[Mic Drop]

I spent much of the early part. . .

[Mic Retrieval]

My bad! I realize you can’t hear me without the mic. As I was saying. . . I spent much of the early part of the year preparing my place for a special visitor as my friend B-Dub told me he was “tight with Pope Frankie” and could get me a personal meeting. So after dumping the Chipotle in the toilet, erasing the hashtags from all my Starbucks cups, and hiding the Subway sandwiches in a box way back in the closet, His Holiness never showed! Turns out Brian didn’t know him at all; he didn’t even follow him on Periscope! (Way to get my hopes up, Williams!)

As a consolation, I did get to sit down for tea with another representative from the religious community. You know what they say, the only thing that rectifies our problems is a good chai with a nun.

Lest not ye think it was a year devoid of hardship, an incident thrust me into controversy. Well, the kerfuffle began when I purchased a piñata for my nephew’s birthday, stored it at his house, and upon hoisting it over the ol’ oak branch for him and his friends to whack open, we found far less candy inside than piñata regulations stipulate.

Don’t you know, this earned me a suspension from my nephew’s next four birthdays, which I thought was exorbitant considering it was the same penalty given his cousin for licking all the pretzels and putting them back in the bowl. After some investigation, it became clear his brother was the culprit as it is common for one sibling to steal candy from the other — The Natural Law of Relation — in what will forever be known heretofore throughout my family as Relategate.

But that ordeal was nothing compared to the water my proverbial ship (H.M.S. Measles Outbreak) took on when I penned that seemingly harmless magazine piece suggesting the work of three guitars in a band wasn’t necessary. I commented that a lead and rhythm guitarist were plenty. Oh, the heat I took! It was completely unfounded, I believe. I mean, you all know me! I certainly am no bassist. In fact, I can’t be a bassist. I have a friend who plays the bass. But alas, I was ordered to attend sensitivity training, mandatory listening to Sly & the Family Stone, and a meeting with the likes of Sting and Flea.

File Under: It Wasn’t All Bad. I did manage to do quite a fair bit of traveling, mostly to fan festival destinations as they have become very popular recently. To all you cosplayers, no, I couldn’t make Comic-Con, but in the span of a summer fortnight, I attended everything from Connick-Con, a celebration of jazz musician/actors from New Orleans, to the wonderful weekend of events centered around the character of “Frenchy” from the original “Grease” movie that was Didi Conn-Con, to the Rockettes own fan convention, Cancan-Con, to a week of eating all sorts of delicious pork products at Bacon-Con (which is not to be confused with the Kevin Bacon festival named after his role in “Hollow Man,” Sebastian Caine-con), to getting my sweet tooth on at Bonbon-Con. I even found time this year to participate in a useful four-hour workshop on decision-making — Pro/Con.

And finally, professionally, I achieved some good fortune. You may have heard that Daniel Craig’s days as James Bond are coming to a close and for his successor, the production company sought an actor outside the suave, dapper archetype we’ve grown used to. Well, after several rounds of auditioning and tense callbacks. . . I was chosen to be the next James Bond!  . . . and then I was told I wasn’t. At first, I was upset with Steve Harvey Casting but realize it was an honest mistake which they attempted to make up for by promising me a shot at another role, that of “008,” a spy with a license to sell jewelry at a mall kiosk, for the upcoming “Moonraker” big screen remake to air on television as a live musical. Fingers crossed!

May the force awaken inside you leaving you refreshed and inspired for a great 2016!

Yours Truly,

Andy Wasif

P.S. If anyone on my list is still having difficulty keeping their e-mail server from getting wiped clean, I’m happy to send a hard copy of this to you.

That Time I Sold 200 Books in a Day

Selling books is not an easy task, especially when no one knows who you are. People will gab with you, find out all about you, learn what your book is about, and even laugh at the funny parts in your sales pitch. They’ll tell you how great your book sounds even going so far as to say, “I’m gonna buy it!” just before walking away without a book. Uh, it’s right here. . . in this stack of even more copies of the book I’m sitting next to. . . Sir? Sir??

Yes, at various times in my life, I have hawked books. The first was an idea I came up with and co-wrote, a humor book observing the rabid nature of baseball fans called “How to Talk to a Yankee Fan.” It was mainly for fans of the Boston Red Sox, but also worked as a gag gift for Yankees fans with a sense of humor. And so I sat for hours in bookstores, bars, charity events, baseball card shows, even on street corners in Boston’s Kenmore Square. If there was a crowd, I was there trying to eke out a sale or two.

It was encouraging to learn from the Barnes & Noble Community relations manager at the Manchester, New Hampshire store that the turnout for one of my signings was not as sparse as that of another writer. Dan Brown of “The Da Vinci Code” fame only had sold three. . . his first time there. There with my writing partner, Rick, we sold nine books that one evening — six if you exclude the ones our friends bought. (Of course, once Oprah got a hold of Dan’s little book, there was a line around the building. But still! What a chump he must have felt like. . . upon looking back on his meager sales years later aboard his private jet sitting atop stacks of hundred dollar bills.)

So the question looming over things — How to sell more than nine copies, and make more than the standard bookstore profit of seventy-seven cents per book, which I had to split equally with Rick? I saw the spring training baseball crowd of vacationers and snowbirds in Florida as the ideal market for our demographic and I got on the phone with ballparks where the Red Sox would be playing throughout March. Rick scheduled some stand-up comedy shows while I planned book signings at sports bars, Barnes & Nobles, and two days at Edison Field, the spring facility of the Red Sox, during the first week of our tour. (Solid sales there would mean we wouldn’t have to lug over 300 books around with us for the final three weeks of the trip.)

The park was more than agreeable to us coming down and selling books. Doreen, the events manager, signed me up for a game day plus a non-game day where we could remain in the concourse for those guests who came for a tour of the place.

It was all set. . . and then, my grandmother passed away. So I had to postpone the dates and attend her funeral. Flash forward three weeks. The trip had been a great struggle, with lots of mileage put on the car, sluggish book sales, deceitful comedy club owners, and a publisher we could not rely on.

Monday of the last week arrived. This was the off-day aimed at selling to fans on a tour or meandering through the gift shop. Books that could be had at a bookstore for $15 were raised to $20 where we would get a commission of $9 per. (Isn’t that sweet of them?)  Nine books and two hours later, we closed up shop.

So far, the trickle of sales continued. My plan of bringing the book directly to the fans was not looking as wise as I had hoped. It built to a Tuesday morning at Edison Field, where the Red Sox faced the Pittsburgh Pirates and we faced the thought of driving back home with more than unsold 200 books. But on this game day, would be allowed to sell in the concourse of the 8600-seat stadium only until first pitch.

Usher Joe (our liason at the park) told us to get there an hour before the gates opened and he’d take us on a tour of the press box. In the press box, we met Carl, the public address announcer.  Carl was about 5’2″ (both ways) with white hair and a white beard, but when he spoke, you knew exactly what he did for a living.  We gave him a book and he surprised us by saying he’d give us a plug during the game.  (We told him we’d be signing all game, though I knew our marching orders were to close up shop when the first pitch was thrown. Usher Sal, tasked with taking the money for us, would be reassigned to a section in the park at that point).

Two and a half hours later, twenty-eight more books had left our hands.  And that was that, our last scheduled book signing for the trip. (Sigh.)

We got our cash, stored the rest of our books and were allowed to watch the game from SRO (standing room only) seats.  There was only one main aisle stretching from left field to right field with three rows of seats between the aisle and the field and many more in the “upper deck” area.  The park was not big and it was easy to find people.  (I mention that now because it’ll come back in a moment.)

Rick went off to find a spot along the left field side while I made my way toward right field and stood alone next to two gentlemen — one in a Cubs hat, the other a Brewers hat — and i started to watch. I overheard these guys ask who was pitching so I answered that it was knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Three innings later, we’re on our third beers having a great time, we three new best friends, laughing, and watching some pretty good baseball.  I barely even noticed the announcement over the loud speaker for our book which coincidentally came around the time Mike and Bob (my new drinking buddies) asked me what I did for a living.

A few minutes later, Joe comes over with three of my books in his hand.  (He found me simply by walking the aisle until he saw me.) He said, “Three people just came by and bought books, but want you to sign them.”  I said that I’d be down in a few minutes and continued drinking and having fun.  Mike and Bob were now intrigued at this guy who has an usher coming up to him. Then, another announcement over the loud speaker and Mike asks, “Wait, is that you?”

NOW, Rick comes over to me and says, “You gotta get downstairs. there’s a line of people that want books.” He explained that Joe was now taking the money so that would be okay. I had to leave. Mike and Bob playfully ribbed me, “Oh, now that it’s your round to buy drinks, you gotta go,” but they waved me on and said they’d stop by later.

I returned to the concourse to find we’re in code red with all the people around the table with books.  (It’s like the final scene in “Field of Dreams” when all of a sudden, hundreds of cars are driving up the road to Ray’s farm to see the baseball field.  Now we didn’t have hundreds, but…)

With regular announcements over the loud speaker, we sold another 52 that day for a total of 80. Doreen wasn’t happy with the fact we were selling during the game . . . until she saw the final tally. The souvenir stand was happy.  And we were happy.  A good time was had by all.

And that was that. A good haul, but still, there was work to be done. We had a comedy show the next night in Winter Haven and then on Thursday in Alabama before beginning the drive back to the left coast, books in tow. So we enjoyed our dinner with proceeds from books sold and planned to sleep in for it was only a two hour drive to Winter Haven.

HOWEVER, that next morning, Rick was awakened by the club booker in Winter Haven screaming at him for missing the show.  Turns out, the show was the previous night, while we were at dinner.

Going back through the e-mails, I found one several months earlier where my partner had inadvertently shifted the Tuesday and Wednesday shows to Wednesday and Thursday. And from there, it went into our calendars. Ooops. Not only was he no longer welcome in Winter Haven, but that meant the Alabama show was in nine hours. . . and it was an eight hour drive.

Dealt a whole bushel of lemons, I had to get the sugar and a citrus press in order to churn out a ton of lemonade. A Wednesday show meant we could now make it back to the ballpark for the team’s season finale on Thursday. (Given the nearly $900 we brought in for them, they were only all too helpful to set up an encore.)

The only obstacle remained driving to ‘bama, performing in an hour and a half comedy show, then getting right back into my car and driving back in time for the gates to open at 10:30 a.m. With Rick taking the graveyard shift in my car, while I slept, we actually made it.

Arriving back to our friends at the ballpark, we were told there was an article in the paper just above the previous day’s box score advertising our book. PLUS Carl kept pitching it over the loud speaker.  (I think people just wanted to buy it to shut him up, God bless him.) By the seventh inning, we had sold another 125, the last of our supply, basically paying for my trip. (Underestimating sales are better than overestimating them, which, I’ve learned far too many times, happens more often than not.)

Technically, we didn’t sell 200-plus books in a day. It was more like 30 hours. But the moral of the story is that unless your name is Dan Brown, it’s a battle, one where you should take what comes to you and enjoy the experience. Though it is good to know that Dan Brown may have done better than us in Barnes & Noble bookstores, we still outpaced him in ballparks. . . probably.