Archive for the ‘The Stories’ Category

What Distinguishes Man from Beast? – It’s Laughter.

~ Sharing laughter with someone can be a very intimate experience, but with benefits. The benefit being you don’t have to call them the next day. It’s only laughter. You shared a joke, not a membrane. ~

~Robin Williams~

 

Who needs words? I’ve got laughter.

I had gone to the pool simply to enjoy the gravity-defying magic of our buoyant friend water. I anticipated my usual routine: swim for a bit then imagine the pool drained of water while I floated in space, insensible to the gravity of my situation. I hoped to make this body of water not so much a sensory deprivation tank as a sensory augmentation tank. In other words I was crafting an out-of-body experience on the cheap. You see, it’s still fun to play make-believe – even at 56.

 

An Unbidden Epiphany

While I pursued this ersatz meditative experience, little did I expect the epiphany that would soon visit me. No one expects an epiphany. You can’t. That’s why they’re epiphanies. They’re designed to materialize without warning – kind of like my Uncle Leo. Epiphanies are unscheduled wormholes to understanding that don’t telegraph their presence – they shower it on you like a coach’s Gatorade bath. And it is this aforementioned unexpected insight which prompts this essay.

 

The Epiphany

I began my watery meditation ritual by laying out my towel on the chaise and trying to put my iPhone down so I could read my book which, in 3 weeks of lugging it to the pool, I managed to get past the Table of Contents and deep into the Introduction. As I finished my 4th game of online solitaire, a young couple with a baby entered the pool area and took up residence at the far end amidst a menagerie of water wings, beach towels and mini-coolers. They settled in, set up shop and the daddy lovingly introduced his baby girl to the wonders of liquid water. As the attentive father began dipping the legs of daddy’s little chicken pot pie (his words not mine) into the water, the tiny girl squealed in sheer delight. Each dip was a little deeper and more revelatory than the previous. And each squeal was now followed-up by cloud bursts of thunderous little baby giggles. She was experiencing indescribable joy.

 

I would’ve gladly traded places with her if only society didn’t frown on a 56-year old man squealing in delight while being dipped in the water by a guy half his age sporting an Eminem tattoo. As I bore witness to the little chicken pot pie’s celebratory peals of laughter, I experienced an epiphany: that this humorous faculty the baby girl so uninhibitedly demonstrated is what separates us from the animals. We’re the only specie that laughs. Read the rest of this entry »

Hardiman Blows the Lid Off Toilet Seat Manufacturers’ Mendacity

Oh sure this lid  looks good down, but try getting it to stay up on its own now that this extra thick seat-fro has been added.

The Jeopardy Lead-in

Contestant 1: I’ll take Unscrupulous Things Toilet Seat Manufacturers Do for $2000 Alex.

Alex: Because they refuse to manufacture toilet seat lids so they can accept a carpet-like lid cover without tipping back toward the bowl and crashing loudly onto the seat, toilet seat manufacturers are known by this term.

Contestant 1: What are Bad Samaritans?

Alex: No.

Contestant 2: What are Russian Oligarchs?

Alex: That too is incorrect.

Contestant 3: What is Eligible for a David Hardiman essay highlighting a detail so minute it can only be seen through an electron microscope or by his very small mind?

Alex: That’s right. That was a tough one. Almost had you there. Read the rest of this entry »

My Secret Shame: The DQ

Better than Disneyland, and with much shorter lines.

While others write graphically about their soft-serve escapades in steamy lick and tell exposés, my soft-serve affair involves more telling and less licking. Ice cream holds no special place for me. And what little ice cream I do consume is of the rock hard, scoopable variety. Although my preferred ice cream might be a high-cost, high-butterfat product, I’m not a snobby connoisseur of craft ice creams served at micro-creameries. In my world lactose is not something you enjoy. Lactose is something you tolerate – like that thick and sour Greek-style yogurt which has become all the rage with hipster Milklennials. They “partake” of the grassy, Grecian yogurt to inject a little culture into their colon – 6 billion lactobacillus acidophilus cultures.

I’ve always thought cow’s milk should be for baby cows. That’s what nature seems to have intended for mother’s milk. It’s for baby whatever’s; and not meant for race car drivers who’ve just won the Indianapolis 500. But what if the nipple was on the other teat. Suppose there were entrepreneurial cows who froze human breast milk, ground Oreos into it and then served it to their calves? Read the rest of this entry »

You think I’m “Nuts!” I think I’m “Differently Advantaged.”

My airborne happy space. Why must it be off limits to me?

That I possess an avid interest in congregating near the forward lavatory of commercial jetliners cannot be denied. And because one person does not constitute a congregation, my peculiarity becomes all the more cultish. This quirk, this foible, this idiosyncrasy of deriving immense gratification in Proximal Flight Deck Loitering has been discouraged by flight attendants and Air Marshalls alike. But like my life coach always says, “There’s nothing I can do for you David. Not now. Not ever. Oh yeah, and stop with that airplane loitering sh*t.”  

Like most people with a socially unwelcomed interest, it came to me uninvited – I was born this way. So I like to loiter at the front of planes. So big deal. I know I’m harmless. Why should I have to convince you? Can’t you look into my soul and see that I’m not nuts. I’m just differently advantaged? Besides, my supposed trespass doesn’t pose a danger to anyone. And anyway aren’t Christians supposed to Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Well forgive away, and start with me. “I accept your forgiveness.” Read the rest of this entry »

“Heal Me, Video Solitaire. Heal Us All.”

Truth right there in Black & Red. Breathe easy. It’s all going to work out.

I’d heard the uncharitable whispers: “His brain is an unkempt mess” and “His thoughts are badly disheveled.” This pained me greatly as I prided myself on appearing both kempt and sheveled. Many of these sotto voce critiques of my wordiness were true: I was a walking trove of excessive verbosity. And when I was prose-doping (taking literary performance enhancing drugs), I became a towering trove of staggering prolixity. It was all mental masturbation giving me the illusion of control and masking a feeling of helplessness. Then again maybe I was being too hard on myself? Maybe I just liked to have fun with worms. See what I did there? You thought I’d say fun with words, instead I said fun with worms. What can’t I do? A lot. Because most of my grandiose ruminations don’t amount to a hill of beans. Or (as the prose-doping kicks in) don’t amount to a towering mound of staggering legumosity.   Read the rest of this entry »

Amnesia: A Story of Bewildering Reclamation

Quite a ghoulish cross to bear.

I was car shopping in New Jersey when I accidentally visited a Hyundai dealership instead of a Honda dealership – thank you very much GPS w/voice recognition. It was there, near the entrance to Hackensack Hyundai where I suffered an unexpected bout of amnesia. Amnesia in New Jersey is different. Instead of suffering from clinical memory loss you simply fuggedaboutit. And this is the story of my struggle (or mein kamp  for my German friends) in reclaiming my memories – at least what I think are my memories. See what amnesia can do? It can scramble your brains when you’d prefer them to be over-easy. And whether scrambled or over-easy, a nice side of bacon with your brains is very healing – whether it’s cured or uncured (the bacon that is and not the brain). 

Back on the Rails

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Unimportant – Aaron Unimportant. I come from a long line of Unimportant people. We were known as VUPs (Very Unimportant Persons). I don’t know why I’m even telling you this part of the story. It’s really unimportant. So let us begin my journey from forgetfulness to mindfulness where I travel from a blank slate devoid of any impressions to a full slate populated with numerous Post-it Notes. As you come to understand my calamity, it may all become quite confusing in a “Why-am-I-still-reading-this, kind of way.” Read the rest of this entry »

 It is what it is. Except when it’s not.

This is what it is? I don’t think so. My advice: Don’t settle. Go beyond so-called questioning authority. Be the answer and rest comfortably in knowing it’s never what you think it is.

We often rely on the bedrock cliché “It is what it is” to armor ourselves against IEDs – Idiotic Earthly Dilemmas. We need its unerring guidance to help us navigate through the mental minefield of wondering just what in tarnation is going on around here (italicized phrase should be read with a thick southern accent). To maintain some semblance of an equilibrium we humans need to be very accepting of our predicament and resorting to that age old explainer-awayer “It is what it is,” goes a long way to maintaining our stability in an uncertain world.  In times of stress a quick visit to the mental medicine cabinet for a handy dose of “It is what it is” often provides immediate temporary relief for minor existential pain. So what if it’s just a placebo masking the anxiety-producing effects of gnawing, insoluble challenges. This brings to mind the unlaunched man-child who finally realizes: “Jesus, I’ve got to move out of this basement for so many reasons. The first one is because the people living upstairs don’t even know I’m down here. Oh well, it is what it is.”

And as much as I belittle “It is what it is” I wouldn’t want to exclude it from our coping repertoire. It’s important to make some kind of informed decision and then act upon it. I mean we don’t want a lot of quibbling philosopher-Kings running around spouting-off, “Yes, but why does my toast burn when the universe knows I’d prefer it otherwise.” We don’t need that level of self-absorption. We need people to keep their noses to the grindstone so the rest of us can enjoy the freedom of going to a 7-11 at 3 a.m. for a Slurpee fix. Let us all stay engaged and directed. We know life is at its best when it’s uncomplicated, and saying “It is what it is” helps to keep it that way. Read the rest of this entry »

Bear-tipping Craze Strikes Appalachia

Ursine-toppling Mania Grips Region as Hillbillies Invoke Unknown Constitutional Amendment: “The right to bear tips.”

Groggy bear emerging from den just begging to be tipped.

Fifteen miles east of Dollywood Theme Park, in the backwater hamlet of Intelligence Gap, Tennessee, Purvis Cooter is excited about Hickam County’s upcoming bear-tipping festival. Early on the rural community was in a quandary over whether to fund the festival or spend the money on electrifying the town. They chose the festival and now the annual jamboree is the town’s major source of revenue – especially since the Fotomat closed. As the sister city of Pamplona, Spain, Intelligence Gap has reformulated Pamplona’s annual Running of the Bulls and calls its version The Tipping of the Bears. In 2012 Chuck Norris kindly refused their request to be Grand Marshall. Chuck Norris doesn’t tip bears. He just points, and they go down. Read the rest of this entry »

Bonkers in the Bunker: Hitler’s Final Days

Young Adolf, seen here in happier times. Note absence of malice.

With the recent discovery of Adolf Hitler’s Berlin bunker diary, scholars and skinheads alike have been combing the pages for insights into why the charismatic German Chancellor and spawn of Satan unleashed such evil. His diary was unearthed quite inadvertently when Disney broke ground for a new theme park in Berlin called “Maus Haus”. The handwritten journal catalogues how Hitler’s formerly unshakable belief in Aryan supremacy, miraculously transforms itself into a muddle of anxiety, so that ironically, by the end of the diary he sounds less like the ruler of the Master Race and more like a kvetching Jew. The same accounting firm that supervised the Oscar voting process (PricewaterhouseCooper) authenticated the diary, so we know it’s legit. Of course verification was made easier because of Hitler’s telltale handwriting – he dotted all his i’s with little swastikas.

Historians wonder what motivated Hitler. They speculate on Hitler this, and Hitler that. What I wonder is why Hitler is always referred to simply as “Hitler” and never as “Mr. Hitler”, as in, “Mr. Hitler then decided to invade his neighbor Poland.” Wait! Oh I see why. Mr. Hitler humanizes Hitler. Historians want to eliminate the possibility of a buoyant and fatherly “Mr. Hitler” rallying his nation to find their greatness after the humiliation of WWI. But one can easily imagine a title-less “Hitler” fanatically leading Germany down an inglorious path of self-destruction. Maybe that’s why there’s no Mr. Genghis Khan or Mr. Vlad the Impaler. Read the rest of this entry »

John Jacob Astor: America’s First Tycoon

John Jacob Astor was one of the 5 richest Americans ever.

John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) was America’s first multimillionaire. He made his fortune in the fur business, which at that time, was an honorable and necessary profession. In those mean, frigid times before the invention of Gore-Tex and Holofill, fur didn’t mean murder; it meant survival. Astor was a renowned furrier and his witty wife Sarah would often quip, “Oh you’re a furrier alright. In fact you’re furrier than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Astor was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States after the Revolutionary War. He settled in New-York City, which at the time was just Manhattan and not yet the 5 boroughs we’re so familiar with today. Astor’s monopolistic fur trading empire stretched from the Great Lakes into Canada and all the way to the West Coast, which at that time was not yet part of the United States. That concludes the book report aspect of his life, which at this point has not yet become interesting. Read the rest of this entry »