My neighbors are moving.

I’m very disappointed to announce that my neighbors are moving. Not just one set of neighbors, mind you, but both neighbors. The folks on the left, and the folks on the right.

Now, contrary to what you might think, this really has nothing to do with my quality as a neighbor. In fact, I’ve been told that I’m a damn fine neighbor. I’m always fast to accept cookies promptly as they exit the oven, on a number of occasions I’ve been kind enough to return most of the magazines that were accidentally delivered to my box, and it’s been my pleasure for several years to make my front patio available to anyone that wants to nurture flowers, trees, bushes, or anything else that’s green that I might neglect to death. And just the other day I graciously accepted a donation of a spanking used piece of exercise equipment, that would otherwise be sitting in my neighbor’s home, the source of guilt and anxiety simply by virtue of its disuse and a symbol of a poor investment.

I was doing her a favor.

And I needed another place to hang dirty clothes. The stationary bike, the Nordic track and the weight bench are all full.

My neighbor turned this stair stepper over to me the other day before she even knew for sure she was moving. She claimed she didn’t have room for it, and never used it. I’m convinced it has nothing to do with her concern over the growing spare tire I’ve been sporting, after this, our winter of inactivity.

I know this, because my wardrobe has been carefully selected to hide this new addition to the family. Sweatpants and shirts that don’t tuck. A closet full of ’em.

Anyway, I get my exercise kicking out the footrest on my recliner, and hollering at the television. I’m angry at the crappy quality of American game shows, and the crappy quality of British game show hosts. Have you seen this Weakest Link? “Scariest Woman on Television” my ass.

“Whose intelligence has no beginning? Where is the village that is missing its idiot? Who’s one eggroll short of a poo-poo platter?”

Ooh, I’m so scared. Give me a break. You want a scary host, give that show to Denis Leary. Give it to Dennis Miller. Hell, give it to Dennis Franz. But please, this broad is about as scary as a cranky small time bureaucrat who just got passed over for an annual COLA. Dumb as dirt, but still holding you by the short-hairs ‘cuz she’s the only one who can sign off your Jury Duty.

Since I’m on the subject, by the way, I have to say that this new show, Fear Factor, is really bringing me down. This is like Jackass with lovely prizes. [can I say ‘jackass’ on the air? ‘jackass’ is the name of the show. if I’m not allowed to say ‘jackass’, let me know.] American game shows have always been about skill and knowledge. You got your Jeopardy, your $64,000 Question (scandal notwithstanding), your Millionaire and your Win Ben Stein’s Money. You win prizes here in America by knowing which philosopher studied with Pliny, the name of the guy who discovered the source of the Nile, or the price of a beautiful dining room set and a lifetime of free rentals from RugDoctor. Now, all of a sudden, not only do I have to watch some idiot on MTV volunteer to get kicked in the naughty bits by a mule in the name of cutting edge entertainment, but I got a whole new show where I watch people win money being the one who can handle getting kicked the most times.

I might as well move to Japan, where skinny guys win money trying to knock fat guys off a greased balance beam into a wading pool full of scorpions with the bumper from an Isuzu in an effort to win a can of chocolate flavored cheezwhiz.

I might as well move, because I’m losing my damn neighbors and I’ve hardly got any reason to stay here any more. Hell, I work for a dot-com, so my career’s wildly stable, and my kids are old enough to fend for themselves.

I was born and raised in this lovely little bedroom community of the Silicon Valley. So was my Father. My children’s family, on their Mother’s side, goes back to the original Mexican land grants. And I’m renting my home, because I’ve never been able to afford to purchase a home here. And I’ve watched my rent go up 47 percent in the past 5 years. 47 freaking percent. And now, I watch my neighbors priced right out of being able to justify paying $1400 bucks for a 30 year old apartment that has an ocean view if you climb out the bedroom window and stand on the dumpster.

I’ve grown up listening to Johnny-come-lately residents, folks commuting the forty minutes from the fog to the smog, complain about traffic and crowding and tourists and prices. People who claim “I’ve lived here ten years, and I’ve watched this place go to hell with all these new people moving here. I’ve got mine, close the damn floodgates!”

If anybody ought to be able to say “close the damn floodgates” it’s me.

So I’m losing my neighbors. That’s the important point in all this. They’ll move away to Oregon, or Idaho, or Utah, or wherever a person can still afford to make a home for two, three or four spouses and a passel of kissing cousins. I hate to see them go, because they’ve been fast and loose with the cookies and casseroles, and because God knows what kind of freak show is going to end up moving in after them. It’s a slim chance I’ll get another neighbor that will quietly put up with me screaming and yelling while watching America’s Funniest Home Rescues or Nordic Strong Man Alligator Wrestling. I’ll probably have to start watering my own plants, and I may have to learn how to make something besides frozen potstickers.

So I’m going to abuse this on-air privelage to say so long to David, Stephanie, Terri and Richard, Tessie, Hannah, Paisley and Lincoln. I’ll miss you, and I’ll never forgive you all for leaving me.

Now, if anybody knows of any hot young co-ed lesbians looking for a place to live, have I got a place for you.

One on the left, and one on the right.

That’s it. That’s all I got.

FOOTNOTE: Original publication date – sometime in 2002. Who moved in? The woman who became my lovely wife (she’s the one in the green). Things worked out pretty good, eh?

Too Much Truthiness

I figured out what I want in life. I’ve struggled a long time with this, and more than once I’ve thought I had it all figured out. Today, I’m proud to announce that I finally got it. And it’s not that complicated.

I want too much of a good thing.

That seems easy, right? I’m not asking so much. But I’ve discovered that it’s way more complicated than I ever imagined.

The trick, you see, is in knowing which good thing you want too much of, ‘cuz you’re not gonna get too much of all the good stuff. It just doesn’t work that way. In this life, you’re gonna get too much of one, maybe two good things. Tops. So you gotta choose carefully, and wait for the right moment. You use your one chance for excess on “too much pecan pie”, and you’ve blown your chance at the “too much sweet lovin'” option. Then you’d be pissed.

Now excess isn’t hard to come by … We get plenty too much of the crap we don’t want… excess crap is easy to come by. You never hear anybody saying that they’re not getting enough of the crap.

“Hey, Doc, listen, about that prostate exam. You know, once every two years just ain’t enough for me. Whaddya say we lube up, and we check that bad boy again? Mmm, Hmm.”

No, we got plenty of excess in the crap department. We have way too much Geraldo Rivera, don’t we?

We’ve got plenty of boy bands… really. There’s plenty. Or there’s just the one big one… I can’t tell. I like that one boy band… you know, the one with the cute boy with perfectly sculpted beard thing.

He’s dreamy.

We have too many people who think they can explain to one another what’s happening up on the screen. I don’t go to the movies to listen to the lady behind me translate the film for her ESL movie buddy.

We have way too many stand-up comics who think they can carry a sit-com.

Traffic? Too much.

Missed opportunities? Too many.

Too much of that ‘You Go Girl’ stuff. Really. That was never a good idea.

Inequity? Yup. For some of us anyway.

Irresponsibility and selfishness? Too much.

Entitlement? More than we deserve.

So we set aside all the crap, all the stuff we’re likely to get too much of without even trying, and we say “we have plenty of that stuff. Don’t need any more.” Then make a big old steaming pile of whatever’s left over. That’d be the good stuff, right? Anything that’s not crap, that’s good. We can’t have too much of that.

Too much clean air? Hard to imagine.

Too many options? I don’t think so.

Too much good conversation? Impossible.

Too much time just sitting and watching the ocean with someone you love? Not likely.

Too much ice cream? Not a problem.

Unless it has a stupid name. Ice cream should be named what it is. “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.” Simple, to the point, self-defining. I know what I’m getting.
“Chunky Fatso Garcia Mondo Surprise.” I don’t get this. I don’t know what that is. Don’t do that to me. I don’t need my ice cream named after drug addicts and animal parts. We have too many cute ice creams.

Which brings us to the point that not all the crap in the ‘good’ pile is the kind of thing you want too much of. There’s the things we put in the “good” pile, the “not crap” pile, that seemed like a good idea, that seem like it would be good to have too much of. But we’re wrong there too.

Too much Spice Girls. Especially Sporty Spice. She did nothing for me.

Too much Jim Carrey. Seemed funny at first. Now he’s just a prick.

Bicycle pants and leg warmers, or any other nostalgia for the Eighties. I don’t have to explain that.

Too much political correctness. Everybody can’t be right.

Too much reality television. First it was a voyeuristic turn-on. Now it’s just embarrassing and disturbing.

Too much Porn. At this point I’m just bored, and I can hardly hold a pen.

Too much truth?

That’s the tricky one. Generally, it appears we really aren’t interested in the truth at all.

To paraphrase the immortal Jack Nicholson, “we can’t handle the truth.”

“Does this make me look fat?” “Do I look like an idiot?” “Are you working late again tonight?”

We don’t want honest answers to these questions … there’s a silent, unspoken understanding that these kinds of questions are blatant requests for a lie. The truth just pisses you off, when you hear it.

“You have a fat butt, you moron, and I’ll be home late ‘cuz I’m at the office boinking the cleaning lady.”

Some think that’s too much truth.

I’m not so sure. One thing I do know, what I want in life is too much of a good thing.

Which good thing? It’s a toss-up… pecan pie, sweet lovin’, or truth. They’re all right next to each other on the scale of good… but if I have to hold out for one, I’m just not sure which item on the ‘good’ pile I’ll hold out for.

If I’m lucky, I can work this like the Quick Check at the grocery store… I’ll find me a babe who’ll give me too much good lovin’, and whisper me the truth while feeding me pecan pie. If it comes in a package like that, then it’s just one thing, right?

Until then, I guess I’ll settle for an evening of “America’s Funniest Home Rescues” and a quart of “Sticky Mickey Hunka Chunka Burnin’ Love Handle Surprise”. I’ll be on the couch.

Leave my excess on the porch.

That’s it. That’s all I got.