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2019 – A Year in Review

December 24, 2019 11:58 p.m. 

Dear friends, family members, strangers, strange family members, Baby Yoda, and Baby Shark doo doo doodoo doo doodoo doo doo doo doo,

Soooooooo that happened… 

What adventures and experiences filled my calendar in 2019, you ask? I take your question, but would much rather you ask the president of Finland a question. Nonetheless, Alexa, please recap the year for us as, like viewers of the most recent Peloton ad, I’m far too traumatized to recount it myself. In a year that took slightly longer to complete than a viewing of The Irishman, it will be remembered as one when the winner lost the Kentucky Derby, New York City lost power, Puerto Rico lost two governors in a week, everyone won the Spelling Bee, Popeye ran out of fried chicken, ASAP Rocky will uncharacteristically no longer be as prompt as his name suggests, Skywalker rose, Winter fell, and ET returned. In the end, however, I did manage to take the Iron Throne. 

I made a concerted effort this year to reconnect with my masculine side… for which I was sentenced to four weeks of court-ordered counseling. For starters, I added to my diet more brofu (processed soy in between two quarter-pound hamberders) wrapped in a leaf of Bromaine lettuce (the kind without the E. Coli) and a side of brogurt (milk fermented by bad decisions). And I began a regular practice of broga (standing pose next to the bench press with twice my body weight loaded on the plate, known as headupmyasana). And I am not ashamed to admit I had a couple of brotox sessions (where they Sharpied my eyebrows to resemble Jason Momoa’s). Next summer, I’m ramping up to climb Mt. Kilimanjarbro (which is actually the bunny slope at the Blue Hills Mountains.)

Financially speaking, I immersed myself into the world of investments with the Dow Jones reaching new levels. To help guide me, I snagged a copy of Antonio Brown’s book How to Turn $30 Million into $10 Million in No Time off the Bargain Shelf (which already saved me money), and began to play the market. Of course, not all my investments were winners as I mainly focused on high-risk, no-reward companies such as Theranos. I also bet a bundle on Thanos to win. So unfortunately, this left me only with enough money to buy a nice thermos. But I’m predicting the new Alliance of American Football league will be very profitable and so I’ve put a bid in on one of the teams. Always the charitable chap, I did manage to make a donation to a charity which gives spacesuits to female astronauts. 

While awaiting my purchase offer on Greenland to be accepted, I made my annual diurnal 

equinox travel plans. This year, my plan was to storm Area 51, but they were unceremoniously halted when someone blew the whistle on us and I had to hastily make other arrangements. I considered visiting all three Mexican countries instead, but ultimately decided for a more low-key sojourn. To that end, I took my horse to the Old Town Road then I rode until I couldn’t no more. When my horse had grown tired, we found ourselves in a small town where a neighborhood boy promised us entertainment. For just $20, he said that he had a baby goat that he painted a non-toxic chemiluminescence that lip-synced to Ariana Grande songs. Sounded good to me, but after I paid him, he denied ever telling me that. In fact, he claimed there was never any Kid Glow Show. 

After its final issue, people have been asking me if, as a comedian, I was ever a big fan of MAD Magazine and its hilarious features such as “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.” Well, the answer to that is… Not at all. I only read MAD for their culinary tips… The stacks of MAD Magazine books I have in my bedroom are only there to hide behind in the event of a zombie apocalypse… MAD? I’ve never heard of it or Don Martin or Al Jaffe or Spy v. Spy or anything they’ve ever done. Seriously, what a stupid question that is. It will be missed.

All in all, this moment of calm reflection has allowed me to review not just the last 365, but an entire decade. Thinking back to those halcyon pre-Malone days when we paid far too much for our cable package to these post-Malone days when we have been able to scrap our expensive cables plans in order to pay far more for a variety of subscription services. I’m sure I’ve aged, but using the Face App to see how I will look at the end of these upcoming 20s, I think I’m gonna be a-okay Boomer. 

Now, as I sink back on my orthopedic lounge chair, bathed in CBD oil, the residue from my vape pen now but a flavored memory, I realize it is most certainly a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. And with that, I say…

May peace and joy trigger you to a meltdown of health and prosperity throughout 2020. 

Yours Truly,

Andy Wasif 

My Year in Review for 2018

December 24, 2018 6:14 p.m. 

Ready Player One? Let’s get to this year’s recap!: 

Dear Evan Hansen, friends, family, unindicted co-conspirators, David Dennison, Individual-1, Bart O’Kavanagh, Scott Free, the Marvelous Ms. Maisel, and old acquaintances Murphy, Will, Grace, Miss Poppins, and most of the Connor family, 

First of all, let me give a very gracious thank you to those of you who sent friend requests to my inbox this holiday season. I will respond to you as soon as I’ve managed to quarantine the viruses and restore all functionality to my computer.

Dilly Dilly! What a crazy year it has been, the craziest we’ve ever seen from a standpoint of craziness. This particular revolution around the sun flew by faster than a Davidson/Grande union. While everyone was hearing Laurel or Yanny, I spent a fortnite flossing and tidying, hyping and orange justicing. Tide Pod Challenge? Defeated it!. . . Bowling Ball Test? Scored 100%!. . . Ballistic inbound missile? Marked myself safe!. . . Playing the market? Yeah, okay, that’s one I wish I had back. But overall, I was winning like a Bichon Frise at Westminster where every other pet was flying United. In short, 2018 was legit bougie on the daily.

This was an especially exceptional year for my self-improvement, which began with an overhaul of my typical diet which wasn’t easy. No longer could I subsist on sweets from Dunkin’ Donuts, I now had to find my nourishment elsewhere such as at establishments like Dunkin’. I also adopted a flexible vegan diet where I ate all the meat I wanted, but my definition of “vegan” was not as rigid. But the magic elixir was ultimately found in eating nothing but Romaine lettuce and raw cookie dough for two weeks. You wouldn’t know to look at me, but my tapeworm has gained ten pounds. 

I also decided to make strides in my fitness and so signed up for my first Toyotathon. I trained for it by going to a President’s Day mattress sale, battling it out for an afternoon at Build a Bear, and for my final warm up, spent two hours with Kanye. I was ready! Sadly, it did not go well as I ended up pulling my clutch early on then spent the rest of the -thon favoring my gear box. Never the Discouraged Dickey, though next year, I plan on signing up for a Macy’s Labor Day Spectacular.

Of which I may be most proud this year is finally becoming “woke” and realizing that Benecio and Guillermo Del Toro are two separate people. . . and neither is a bullfighter. Who knew?

But DO NOT CONGRATULATE! I also had my share of tribunals and tabulations, such as the time I mispronounced trials and tribulations a moment ago. However, I plead the fifth, invoke attorney/client privilege, refer you to my NDA (unsigned, of course), and revoke your security clearance as you’re on a need to know basis, but the kerfuffle stemmed from my job making robocalls for an infinity stones company which, to my surprise turned out to be a money laundering scheme. When the ****hole country hit the fan, I denied it, but Lordy, there are tapes!

What I can tell you is that it was the night of the blood moon when what happened was [redacted] videos of Bigfoot [redacted] which quickly became [redacted] leading to the end of Moviepass that, in turn, caused [redacted] a $130,000 payout that required me to [redacted] all but ruining my chance of hosting the Oscars. It was unquestionably a fiasco, though [redacted] an “Alf” reboot. 

I know you’re screaming, “We call BS!” But truth isn’t truth! It you want the full story, you’ll have to talk to my lawyer’s lawyer.

Through it all, I managed to sneak some traveling into my schedule, spending two weeks in Paradise, mostly raking the forest, but the real adventure began on my trip home when a problem with passenger nudity (not mine) caused a delay on the runway. The airline said they could put me on another flight right away, but with a layover in Devil’s Triangle which, understandably, I turned down. The alternative was a caravan which slowly made its way back toward home and included a detour through Marwen where everyone was an absolute doll.

At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to remember my dear friend Geoffrey, one of youthful spirit, gentle hospitality, and the best for less so you could really flip your lid. I’ll always remember him from our time together at Toys Were Us. 

Now, as I put the winter classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside, but You Can’t Stay Here Because People Will Get the Wrong Idea” on the hi-fi and snuggle up in my living room in front of a smocking fire wearing my Yeezys and Lululemon pants, drinking a Ketogenic prime rib smoothie through the last of the plastic straws, I’m reminded of the fact that, well, I don’t have a fireplace. It was my understanding that my neighbor would pay for it, but apparently I boofed. Womp womp! Please forgive me as I cut this letter short to look for an extinguisher.

May your health and success in the new year be genetically cloned to produce superfortune impervious to sickness and failure!

Scooby doo pa-pa! 

Yours truly,

Andy Wasif   

“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!

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

You CAN Win for Losing

Back in the eighth grade, I won my junior high school’s spelling bee and got to represent my town at the regional spelling bee, sponsored by the Patriot Ledger newspaper.  To me, I may not have been the best representative because I had actually lost the spelling bee first, before winning it.

Sitting closest to the door (for ease of escape in the event of one of those spelling bee riots you hear about all the time), to the teacher’s left, I was given the word first.  “Doctrine,” she said.  This was ironic because I had recently spent four months that year obsessing on this very same word.

Six months prior, I was Bar Mitzvahed, a day when a Jewish boy becomes a man in every way except for body hair, hormones, bank account, sexual exploits, first and so on.  (I’m not sure exactly how the manhood myth actually started, but it probably had to do with the fact that everyone only lived til they turned twenty.)

On that day, I had to recite one particular passage from the prayer book.  It read (and haunts me to this day) — “Behold, a good doctrine has been given you, my Torah.”  I spent waaaaaaay too long discussing the proper intonation needed for the excerpt. Was I addressing the Torah as in “Hey, Torah, how’s it goin’? Oh, before I forget. . . I’m giving you a good doctrine”?  Or is it the Torah, in fact, that is the doctrine of which I am referring?

The guy with whom I was Bar Mitzvahed and I went over this again and again and could not come up with a consensus.  The rabbi contributed his two cents by explaining he didn’t understand the question and couldn’t give me an accurate answer. (Thanks for the wisdom, your Holiness.)

I found it hard to believe no one had posed the question to him before. You’re saying I’m the only one literate enough to notice the ambiguity of that sentence?  Or perhaps I was the only one crazy enough to care. It’s like the 2% of nutbags who choose cumquat as a vegetable beginning with “c” instead of carrot.

Yes, I saw the word “doctrine” in my sleep. That word was right there in front of me for months!  And yet. . .

When the moderator read the word to me, I was all at once dancing gleefully inside at my good fortune, and weeping because I couldn’t remember exactly how it was spelled.  It was either one way (the correct way) or the other. My heart beat faster. Time was ticking. So I took my shot and spelled it as “doctor” and then “-ine,” i.e. the wrong way.

“No,” she said succinctly, and I exhaled. My heart returned to its normal pace and I sat back to watch the other participants as a spectator. (Have you ever watched a spelling bee as a spectator? It’s as boring as watching. . . no, wait, I’m mistaken. Nothing is as boring as watching a spelling bee as a spectator. Add the humiliation of defeat to that and you’ve got my situation.)

Now, I knew there were only two ways this word could be spelled and there were five more people in line to attempt to spell it.  To. . . this. . . day, I have absolutely zero idea how every single one of those people failed to spell the word correctly.  No fewer than two of them spelled it the exact same way I did, like it was some sort of trick the teacher was pulling on them and they said, “We’re not falling for it.  We know Andy spelled it right, but not with the conviction I’m going to spell it.”  And three of them spelled completely different words, I think.

“Sheesh, wasn’t anyone listening to me?” I thought.

The teacher (no doubt, silently dying inside) shrugged and looked back to me, “Well, I guess you’re back in.”

Seriously?  “Well, okay.  It’s d-o-c-t-r-i-n-e,” I rattled off quickly.  And from there, I was a house afire nailing word after word and watching as my competitors crumbled at the feet of my reborn brilliance.  I even walked out of the room throwing random words back at the teacher, thus earning me the world’s first spelling bee taunting penalty.

It was then that I realized that the most tragic issue in America during the mid-80s was not drugs, the Cold War, nor New Coke, but it was the failure of the school system to properly teach the spelling of the word “doctrine.”  Remember, this was before spellcheck when we actually had to know how to spell words.

Anyway, this was years before New England Patriots hero Tom Brady became famous by leading a game-winning drive against the Raiders in the playoffs after fumbling the ball away.  Due to a technicality, he got a second chance.  There’s nothing wrong with that, come to think of it.  Legends are made on second chances!

Of course, there are second chances that never develop into anything memorable as well. And so for the next few weeks, I studied the booklet of potential words and arrived at the Regionals with my mother and best friend William there to support me.

This bee was far less eventful – Round One: “anklet.” I thought, are you serious? “A-n-k-l-e-t,” I said, and returned to my chair to pray all the other entrants had a massive collective panic attack and withdrew. (I always thought a spelling bee contestant should treat a correctly spelled word like a touchdown and act accordingly, with a dance, a little shimmy, or spiking the inhaler of the kid next to you.)

Round Two comes around: “veinless.” Now, before you scoff and say how easy it is, when I heard the word, I immediately considered that the word “vein” is a homophone. Was it referring to the veins in the human body? A weather vane? I could eliminate that it was vain, as in conceited. But I still had to narrow down the two options.

Can you use it in a sentence? I asked.

Something without veins is veinless.”

Can you give me the definition?

The definition of veinless is ‘without veins,’ or ‘lacking veins’.” (Gee, thanks.)

Can you give me the origin of the word?

The word comes from the Latin.”  (Of course it did. Why wouldn’t it?)

Can you spell the first couple of letters for me?

“No.”

How about a different sentence?

“No.”

Can you — ?

Just spell the damn word, kid!”

I took my shot. I mean, we didn’t have a weather vane on our roof at home and my mother never once referred to our house as vaneless.

V-e-i-n-l-e-s-s.

“Correct.”

Again, dancing inside my head, spiking inhaler.

Then a couple of people got eliminated (ha! idiots!) and it came around to me again. Round Three!

Now, I don’t know if I’ve blocked it out, but I cannot, for the life of me, remember what my third word was. I do remember asking all the previous questions in the hopes they would admire my thoroughness and just give me a pass to the next round, but when they didn’t, I did not even approach its correct spelling.

A big relief as order had been restored to the universe. And with that, spell check came along and further destroyed my ability to spell.

 

So it just goes to show that you can win for losing. But in the end, it was my ultimate failure which paved the way for Tom Brady to be remembered as the greatest second chance artist in history.

Customs Ordered

My recent trip to Toronto (or “Tronno” as the locals say) reminded me of the time I was almost deported. . . from America. . . despite my American citizenship and residency.

Okay, a little backstory here — when I was younger, I decided to come out of my mother’s womb while she was living in Canada, a decision I never felt would cause a problem. Then, we moved to my mother’s hometown of Boston, I grew taller, my voice changed, and I went off to college where I wanted to spend a semester traveling abroad during my senior year. I was off to Spain!

As it was my first time out of the country as an adult, I sought the advice of my father who had spent about six months out of the year traversing the friendly skies during my youth (with better-than-even odds it wasn’t because of me).

On the surface, listening to him seemed reasonable, but here was a man who always puts forth some odd theories — he believes the healthiest food for you is fried food because it kills off the bacteria; he feels sugar cane is the best for your teeth; and whenever he needs to diet, he eats nothing but a head of lettuce for one day.  So. . . this is whom I was listening to.

Anyway, he had this silly idea that it would be safer to travel abroad on a Canadian passport than on an American one.  This was to Europe, more specifically Spain and France, mind you.  He was afraid that if a terrorist would target my airplane, they would scream, “We are taking over this plane and going to crash it into a mountain killing all of you in the name of Allah!!!! . . . Now, if all the Canadians can please show us your passports, we would be happy to equip with parachutes so you can float to safety before we destroy the infidel Americans.” Seemed reasonable.

So far, so good. Four months of gorging myself on paella and tortilla and not one inquisition on my nationality. . . until I returned.

After four months in Spain, a layover at Heathrow Airport in London, and about 20 hours of total traveling, I stood in Boston’s Logan Airport, its international terminal, and watched my entire plane clear customs, a passenger roster that included our state’s governor, as I was asked to remain.

I saw my parents come to the glass window, wondering why their son was not with the rest of the plane. They waved to me and I waved back.  But that was the extent of our contact as Customs Guy #1 was busy grilling me.

“Where were you born?”

“Canada.”

“Where do you live now?”

“Sharon. Twenty-five miles from here.”

“Where are your parents from?”

(Uh oh, I gulped. I saw where this was going.) “Well, my mom’s from Boston. . .”

“And your dad?”

Yeah, about that. . . He was uh, kinda born in. . . “uh, Egypt.”

(This was post-2500 B.C. so any mention of the Middle East raised red flags.)

Customs Guy #1 bore down on me. “Okay, lemme get this straight. You were born in Canada, raised in America, and your father’s from Egypt?”

(Gee, since you put it that way, I don’t see how that makes any sense either.) I was too tired for sarcasm and didn’t think that would help my cause so I just replied, “Yes.”

Was this case so unique? I couldn’t believe I was the only Canadian-born Bostonian he’d ever seen?  He’s a customs officer, for crissakes. But he just scratched his head and said, “Stay right there. I’m going to get my supervisor.”

A few minutes went by and Customs Guy #1 returns with a taller gentleman, Customs Guy #2. (I think they ranked them according to height.)

He didn’t really add much to the conversation but did proceed with, “Why did you travel outside the country on a Canadian passport?” (Oooo, now I could see why this guy was promoted.)

“I don’t have an American passport,” I said.

I had stumped the panel. (Don Pardo, tell him what he’s won!) Customs Guy #2 told me to wait as well.  Then he walked away.

More passage of time. I turned to my parents and shrugged.  (I didn’t do any of that overly dramatic stuff like putting my hand on the glass for them to touch the other side.

And now he returned with Customs Guy #3. I checked to see how many customs officers remained at their stations to screen other travelers. It was beginning to look like I was a codex and they needed all available men in solving the riddle inside me.

“So you’re from Canada, but live in America?” 

“Yes, sir.” (We were gonna rehearse from Act One again, apparently.)

“We’ve never run across anything like this before.”

I did say “Canada,” right?  Not Mars!  You’ve never come across a, dare I say, foreign-born citizen living in America before? “Give us your free, your poor, your huddled Canuck masses. . .” That doesn’t ring a bell? In all your time in customs officer training and then your subsequent internship and residency program — I have no idea what it takes to become a customs officer — this has never come up?  Boston is literally a one hour flight from Canada.  You have more of a chance seeing one of us than someone from that far off land of Philadelphia.”  Oh, in my head, I was having some fun with this.

He finally offered up a resolution. . . as they had run out of customs supervisors to bring over. “We’re going to have to order you back to Canada.

Really? I shrugged. What’s another two hours of flying? I thought. I could visit my cousins, and live with them.

Or . . .

There’s an “or?” Where does the “or” come from and why not mention it first assuming it’s better than the first option. (I was betting against, “Or we could throw you on a spit and serve you to the natives.”) Otherwise, why bring it up?

“Or you could pay $100.”

Seems kind of arbitrary to pull a penalty out on a situation they’d never heard of before. . .  Meh. Whatever. Works for me. “See that man over there, the Middle Eastern Gene Wilder?” I said, pointing at my father.  “Go see him.  He’ll pay.  He’s the reason I’m standing here in the first place.”

So at the end of that entire adventure, I learned that US Customs is like all other American businesses — an office filled with lots of redundancies all making it up as they go along in the effort to earn an extra buck or two. I’m sure those three officers each got $33 out of it (with the tallest guy getting $34) toward a nice dinner at Legal Seafood, a local tradition, once they got off their shifts.

It was a win-win.  Except for my father who was out $100.  But he paid for a good lesson. . . a lesson you think he might have learned while accruing hundreds of thousands of frequent flier miles each year. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that a head of lettuce is much less expensive than a nice dinner at Legal Seafood.

Because You Just Never Know

I grew up playing those video games — Intellivision, Nintendo, Colecovision, and the Ataris 26-, 52-, and (gasp!) 7800 — many that required the steering wheel accessory, like “Pole Position” or “Spy Hunter.” So I was pretty good at avoiding real obstacles on an imaginary road. My mother would tell me how it was a complete waste of my time, detrimental to my overall development. She was right, until. . .

I moved to Los Angeles out of college. My time there did not begin well.  I bought a used Audi GT before making the journey and it had a horrible habit of shutting off at the most inopportune moments, such as while driving.

Every mechanic I brought it to in Boston said, “We don’t know why it’s doing this, but a new fuel pump relay should fix it.” And I got a new fuel pump relay. . . and another. . . and a third.

Other than that, the car was fine, until. . .

During my third week in Los Angeles, the brakes began to squeak. It’s that warning mechanism brakes have that tell you if you don’t replace the brake pads soon, your car will most likely send you hurtling off a cliff at the most inopportune moments, such as while driving. And no one, especially me, wanted that.

Well, I was new in town and unfamiliar with any place to bring it (and there was no Yelp! back then), though I had been to the mall once and remembered passing a Midas Brake Specialists shop next to it. These people not only knew brakes, they were specialists! It said so in the sign. So I had my answer.

Even as a young adult, I’d already had the oil changed several times before, so I knew what to expect — you bring your car in, they take care of the oil, you bring it home. Easy peasy. I figured brakes were the same. That was a big leap of faith.

At that time, I had no job, so I could block off an entire day, though I didn’t expect it to take quite so long. I got there at 8 a.m. and I waited. . .  and waited. . . and waited.

Just after 4 o’clock, the “technician,” a Native American guy with a long, braided pony-tail who stood about five-feet zero, informed me the work was completed and offered to test drive my vehicle with me to see what a great job he’d done.

I thought, “Wow! that’s super service.  Usually, they just fix it and give it to you,” as he took his position in the passenger seat. (I realize he was probably as curious as I was to see if he had done the job right.)

We pulled out of the carport and continued down the side street. Three rights around the block, that’s all. I applied the brakes at the first stop sign. (Have you ever pushed the pedal down to the floorboard? No, of course, you haven’t. The pedal is not supposed to go that far.)

“Uh, it’s a little loose.”

“Oh, that is because they are new brakes,” he says sheepishly in an effort to hide his idiocy.  And what did I know? I’d only been driving a couple of years and never had the privilege of owning “new brakes.”

I took the right, another right, and a third right to bring me back to the front.  The same situation as I pushed down all the way, but the car stopped, so I paid the fee and hopped in to head home.

It was now 4:30 and the shop was closing for the day. I was very tired from my day watching bad daytime talk shows and telenovelas on tv in the waiting room anyway and wanted to do some writing, so I wasn’t thinking, “Take it back and fix it. I’ll wait.”

Onto the main drag, I turned just as rush hour was getting thicker.  A red light stopped me up ahead.  I pushed my pedal down to the floorboard to activate the “new brakes” and the car stopped as it had previously.

With my foot still on the brake, my car started to roll forward a little. Then the light turned green and the car in front of me took off. I accelerated briefly, then it dawned on me, “Did I take my foot off the brake causing it to roll forward or. . . did the car just start to roll by itself?”

Letting the pace car in front of me get some distance, I decided to test the brakes.  Yep, I was right.  I hate when I’m right.  Especially when it’s about MY DRIVING WITHOUT BRAKES!!!

Okay, stay calm.  How bad could it be?  It’s an Audi. Worst case scenario, I cause a huge pile-up at an intersection; at least my car will hold up well. (Actually, the worst case scenario has me running over several bystanders, a lady with a baby carriage, and slamming into a fire hydrant spraying water everywhere causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.)

Remarkably, I am less scared than angry.  A few thoughts go through my head, including one that has me intentionally causing as much damage as possible so I could sue Midas for every nickel and then forcing the entire staff to work on my estate. But that seemed like a lot of work. I didn’t want to go through all that, as I needed to find a day job.

And then it entered my head — I’d been here before. . . virtually. The hours I spent playing “Pole Position” was a practical application that prepared me for this.  Ha! Mom, I was right! Of course, then my mother’s favorite phrase came into my head — “You could be right, dead right.” Damn you, Mom! Get out of my head. Now is not the time!

Nevertheless, this would be my greatest challenge, my real life Pole Position. If I made it home, I’d have a story to tell. If not, and. . . well, there was always that lawsuit. No one could tell the exact moment I realized the brakes failed, right?

Oh, sure, I could have turned around and gone back to Midas, but where’s the fun in that? (Plus, turning around was not going to be easy.)

Okay, I had to think. Remember my training! I quickly went over the landscape in my head.  It was one right turn (which I could do because this was Los Angeles whose “right on red” law is its greatest cultural contribution), then five lights, across two main roads, and one left turn, which would be the trickiest part.

It was Mission: Impossible. Should I fail, any knowledge would be disavowed. But seriously, in the event I had to abort, I could always gently guide the car into some place that wouldn’t get me nor anyone else injured. . . theoretically.

Back to the road in front of me — I figured since I couldn’t stop, I would have to drive real slow and speed up just enough to keep my momentum.  That way, I would never have to slam on the brakes.  I just had to pray for green lights.

Amazingly, I made them all, including the busiest street at the top of the hill. (The hill was great because it stopped all my momentum.)

Now my mind wandered ahead to the left turn.  What if on-coming traffic was too steady and I couldn’t make it?  I figured out plans B and C just in case.  (Plan B was that I would try the next left hand turn onto another side street, and Plan C was I would soil my pants.) I worried that I had run out of luck.

But huzzah, like the Red Sea underneath the hand of Moses, the southbound traffic parted just enough allowing me the perfect opportunity to make the turn!

Giving it a little gas to crawl onto the driveway, which leveled downward slightly, I yanked up on the emergency brake as I lightly tapped the back of the carport.  Luckily my roommate wasn’t home, otherwise his car would’ve been my wall.  And there it was.  I made it home alive! A real life video game, with potential real life consequences.

Oh, and the next day, I had the car towed back to Midas at their expense, rented a car at their expense, and had them put WORKING brakes in the car at their expense. A lawsuit might have eliminated the need for a job, however, but I let them off the hook as no harm, no foul.

So when you see your kids spending hours in front of the television playing video games – yes, they may be on the freeway to obesity, but they are inevitably setting themselves up with survival skills.

Oh, and never go to Midas.

“Introduction to Adult Puberty”

You know those videos they used to show us in high school about adolescent boys going through puberty? Well, this is the adult version of those about full-grown males entering middle age. No one ever told you about adult puberty in school so you had to look elsewhere for guidance — like this video, for example.

Starring:
Barry Bostwick as Bob
Bennie Arthur as Mike

Click here to watch

2014 – My Year in Review

December 24, 2014

Festive holiday greetings to you, my dearest friends, future McConaghey, Adell Dazeem, the sons of both Mumford and Anarchy, past McConaghey, and all my bros, brahs, boos, and baes,

I found myself rushing to finish ye annual note as I’ve been otherwise preoccupied with cleaning all the Jell-O pudding pops from my freezer.  In fact, I almost pulled it altogether due to the biting references I included to Kim Jung Un, but as we’re past them now, I decided it would be acceptable to send.

For ‘tis the season to Keep Calm and Open Carry On as we vape the residue of 2014 precipitating upon us.  Where did the time go? December has shown up unannounced not unlike a U2 album in our iPods.  In fact, the whole year stings of surreality.  Did the Ferguson Police dump an ice bucket on top of Joan Rivers and then launch her into Gaza or was that just a vivid dream I had that night I went heavy on the sriracha sauce? It’s safe to say, my 32nd year on this planet (of course, my time spent aboard the space station is another note for another time) was a time to remember.

It was a year of discovery as I found out which “Gilligan’s Island” character I am (“Ginger”), which spice I most resembled (also ginger), what’s the best city for me (Atlantis), and what my birthstone says about my personality (“supreme jackass”);

a year of conclusion as my lawsuit against the Golden Panda Chinese restaurant finally reached a settlement — I received no money up front, but they did promise in writing that a short stranger will soon enter my life bringing joy;

and a year of accomplishment as I completed my latest script, a remake of the comedy classic “9 to 5,” entitled “8 to 7-ish and Every Other Saturday.”  [smiley face]

But mostly, my experiences were as scattered as the choreography in One Direction’s act.  Early in February, as the Polar Vortex smacked me around like Solange Knowles in an elevator, I ventured to Sochi for the XXII Olympic Winter Games where I lucked out by securing a room with a working roof, but the thrill of victory soon dissipated as I could not help but notice all the stray dogs walking around. The only event that interested me was the tug-of-war on my heart strings, and I gave in to magnanimity.

I rescued one pooch whom I named Vlad and took him home with me. And the new living arrangement appealed to him. . . for about 24 hours at which point he invaded my neighbor’s apartment, and peed in the crock pot filled with her famous Chicken Kiev.  Needless to say, it has made our regular Cards Against Humanity game nights in my building quite awkward.

With spring now sprung, my concerns turned from chicken stock to my portfolio of stocks as the NYSE, that fickle foe, shifted along with public favor and suddenly, it was all about the bass, ‘bout the bass, when here I was, betting the farm on treble.  I foolishly ignored the first rule of shrewd investment and did not diversify, thus causing a conscious uncoupling with my savings. [frowny face]

But as Taylor Swift reminds me every day, I chose to “Shake It Off” by turning my bankruptcy into a bankruptunity!  And I took time for some domestic travel, hopping in my classic 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and heading east where I got to see my friends in New York City . . . from the George Washington Bridge on which I was stuck in a governor-sized traffic jam.  (Cars for days, son!) Fortunately, traffic was alleviated when all the GM cars were recalled and I, a hundred feet from the off-ramp, was forced to walk the final stretch of road.

The adversity awakened the force inside me and I resolved to run my first marathon.  It was quite the undertaking; I had to hire the volunteers, solicit sponsors, find a 26.2-mile course that was both challenging and appealing — why, just filling out the license forms from the city was a Herculean task in itself — and it would have gone off without a hitch too had I remembered to market it to the runners.  But has it not been said many times that failure is merely the Secret Service of success?  [winky face]

And now, looking ahead to next year, I’m primed to take my career to new heights by optimizing my search engine, reshaping my sustainable organizational structure, branding my synergistic solutions, and, most importantly, downloading emojis so I won’t have to type out words in brackets any more.  Baby steps, baby steps.

To all of you and all of yours (whoever and whatever they may be and however they may have found their ways into your possession), may your Internet be hacked and infected with the cyber virus of prosperity and happiness for 2015.

Yours patiently awaiting Saint Nicholas,

Andy Wasif (a.k.a. Adlee Waifish to Mr. Travolta)