Friday, October 15, 2010

How are the Ladies Treating You?

How are the ladies treating you? I hear that all the time. Seems like an innocent question. To the average person it simply means, 'Are you going on any dates?' or 'Have you French kissed anyone recently?' For me, however, it means something totally different.

After being raised in a rural Hungarian orphanage, this seemingly innocent question brings back some horrid memories. The atheist nuns who ran the orphanage or "home" as we called it, referred to themselves as The Ladies. So how are the ladies treating me, you ask? Let's just say they're not anymore. Thank Non-Existent God.

Since God had no part in their or our lives, The Ladies raised us with the belief that when a person dies, nothing happens, emptiness. So don't die. That's it. Just don't die. They created the now popular Don't Die System (DDS). DDS, as you all undoubtedly know, relies on a series of precautions that believers must take to prolong their lives as long as possible, with the hopes that someday, DDS followers won't ever die.

To say that we had to be careful in our daily activities is to say that Glenn Beck is just kinda kooky or the Detroit Lions are a mediocre team or that Kathy Bates is sort of interesting looking. Our uniforms consisted of full football pads and pillow-lined Ugg Boots. We went outside exactly two times a year. Once to smell the proverbial and actual flowers and once for "science time," where we licked our fingers, held them up to the wind and determined which way was North. Our forks had soft plastic tips, which made our dinners consist of jello and lemonade. Twelve orphans were executed for sneaking in and subsequently playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Exercise time was high fiving in mittens.

When I was 14, a couple came to visit our facility. I saw them through the cotton ball fence surrounding my bed and made eye contact with the woman. She smiled and came over to me. "How are you doing, little guy?" she asked. "Fine, I guess," I said. "Do you want to come home with me?" she said. "Yes, please," I replied.

My new parents were nothing like The Ladies. We went to church once a week, kept kosher, celebrated Easter and were allowed to use knives to cut our lemonade.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Keep Your Hands Dry. Always.

Last night I was at my comedy class and during our 10 minute break I went to the bathroom. Business was taken care of and I meandered over the the sink for my post-tinkle wash-up. I use only luke warm water when I cleanse my hands/soul.

See, I'm not much of a hot water kind of guy. I prefer ice water to Earl Grey. Frappucino to Macchiato. Anchorage to Guadalajara. Cryogenics to Cremation. I luke warmly washed my money makers and searched for the paper towel dispenser. No paper towel dispenser. I frantically darted my eyes from north to south, east to west and spotted a machine against the wall that was called a "Hot Air Electric Hand Dryer." The only thing I like less than hot water is wet hands.

I went eye to eye with the hand dryer not knowing what to say. Finally I caved and said, "OK, let's get dry, esse." I cracked my neck and my knuckles and carefully slipped my hands underneath the steel air blower hole. I was not prepared for the next sequence of events. The air came shooting out, true gangster style and it hurt me so bad. It was so damn hot. So. Damn. Hot. But seriously, I couldn't leave that bathroom with wet hands and I wasn't about to dampen my new Eddie Bauer polo. I shook my hands vigorously to remove as much excess water as possible and went back for try numero deux.

This time I had a plan. I was going to dry my hands in short bursts. One explosion at a time. I went in and put my hands underneath the dragon monster. The air started and after a second of awful heat, I removed them. My hands were no more dry than they were before my bathroom laboratory experiment. This would take days, if not years, to fully dry my precious finger holders. I was, as the French say, screwed.

I looked at the time and realized I had a minute before my class started up again and if there's one thing that I would place third in my "I the only thing I like less than..." list, it's being late. I began to panic. Here I was in a public bathroom with soaking wet hands, time ticking down and no escape in sight.

A frantic man must make frantic decisions. Keep that in mind, readers. I took a drink of cold water from the sink and started blowing. If I blew hard and fast enough, my hands would be relaxed and more importantly, dry. So I blew and I blew and I blew. I blew again. It worked.

I was late for the second half of class, but I was fine with that. I had conquered the beast. Copernicus once said, "He who overcomes obstacles with great intensity and cold breath in the bathroom is a man to not be reckoned with."

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

12 Hours in Munster, Indiana

My favorite part of the New York Times is getting great travel advice from their "36 Hours in..." series. For a reference, check out their article on Vancouver, BC. I decided to take a hint from their wildly popular series and create my own "12 Hours in..." series. Naturally, to get my feet wet, I decided to start with a city I'm familiar with - my hometown. Munster, Indiana is located a mere 31 miles from downtown Chicago and it's truly a booming, progressive town. It's no surprise that Munster is considered one of the most livable places north of Indianapolis and south of Chicago. I visited Munster on a Wednesday. So here goes nothing.

12 Hours in Munster, Indiana

Munster is known for many things, among them a great gyros restaurant, a tiny gloriously rundown donut place and of course, Community Hospital (in case you fall down or something.) Munster features one public high school, one public middle school and three public elementary schools. For the religious, Munster offers some private, God-inspired educational institutions as well. There's an art center for those who like to take a ride down culture lane and then there's the parking lot behind Taco Bell - a popular destination for teenagers on weekend evenings.

2:30 pm
I enter Munster at Exit 1 off of I-94E and drive down Calumet Ave, passing the Hammond Clinic and Canton House Restaurant, among other gems. On the corner of Ridge and Columbia, I come across Bieker Woods. Bieker Woods is known for a scary Halloween event annually. This area of town is considered the historic district, as there's an old school house and also another building. Rumor has it that an old lady lives there and yells at kids who pass through the woods to get from Wilbur Wright Middle School to Long John Silver's on a half day of school.

I decide to grab a bite at The Commander (745 Ridge Rd). The Commander has been a Munster landmark for decades. My grandfather would drive his Oldsmobile there daily for his "cigarettes and coffee." The Commander is known for it's lemon rice soup and club sandwiches. Get your shmooze on in front of the pie display while locals read "The Times" and discuss politics, Purdue football, and the newest prices at Munster Car Wash, conveniently located a few blocks down on Ridge Rd. Beware of the after school rush of 14-17 year olds wanting to get their fill of that oh-so-good soup.

5:00 pm
After a filling meal, I decide to head over to my mom's house to play with Scooby the dog and do some laundry. On my way to my childhood home, as I'm heading south on Columbia Ave, I pass Munster High School, or as the students call it, "school." I see the tennis team practicing on my right and the football team practicing on my left. The Munster Mustangs athletic department has a rich history of both success and failure. The swimming and tennis teams are usually pretty good, while the football and basketball teams are mediocre at best. But I honestly have no idea how any teams have done in the past 8 or 9 years.

7:30 pm
After sitting around the house with my mom and Scooby for a couple hours, we decide to grab some dinner. There are many choices. Do we pick Giovanni's (603 Ridge Rd) for fine Italian dining or head southwest to Three Floyd's Brew Pub (750 Indiana Parkway) for unique beers and pub food? My mom also suggests going to Charlie's Ale House, but Mom, we always go to Charlie's. OK, she says. We settle on Munster Gyros, which locals will tell you is the absolute best gyro spot on the planet. I couldn't disagree. We each order a Gyro Platter with one extra pita (one just isn't enough - my ONLY complaint about this place).

8:15 pm
We were tired after dinner, but we decided to hit the town in the spirit of this article. We head to Johnny's Tap (8050 Calumet Ave), where a neon sign outside reads, "Mr. Fun is Here." This dive bar has frosted mugs for your ridiculously cheap domestics. We found locals playing bar games like darts and Golden Tee. The jukebox blasts everything from Metallica to Brad Paisley to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. We decided not to talk to the other 6 patrons at Johnny's because, well, they'd been there all day.

9:30 pm
Our next stop was Munster Donut (
8314 Calumet Ave), made famous by the Facebook Group - 'People Who Love Munster Donut.' We each order the donut-on-a-stick which features a happy face frosting smile. We sit at the counter with 2 of Munster's police force. I recognize one of them from the D.A.R.E. program in 5th grade.

10 pm
We head home - it's late.

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