The Truth About Lying

The Truth About Lying

People lie all the time. Take this couple that recently met through an online dating app. She told him she’s an aspiring actress (she waits tables at Red Lobster). He told her he’s a hedge fund manager (he’s a day trader living in his parents’ basement). And this article recently won a Pulitzer Prize for outstanding investigative journalism.

People lie all the time. Take this couple that recently met through an online dating app. She told him she’s an aspiring actress (she waits tables at Red Lobster). He told her he’s a hedge fund manager (he’s a day trader living in his parents’ basement). And this article recently won a Pulitzer Prize for outstanding investigative journalism.

I have a PhD in psychology and four years of medical school under my belt. I played major league baseball for the Phillies back in the 80s. And I recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The reason I rarely mention any of these incredible achievements is because they’re all lies. None of these happened – except for the bit about playing for the Phillies. But I only lasted one season, so hardly worth mentioning.

You see, I’m a professional liar. I make my living by lying, by which I mean humor writing. Last year alone I grossed $3 million as a humor writer. (It’s possible that the previous sentence was a slight exaggeration.) So, when it comes to deceiving others, trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

Everybody lies – unless you’re a dog. Dogs rarely lie – unless they can blame it on the cat. Actually, dogs lie all the time – on the couch, on the bed… But we humans deceive without even thinking. Case in point: When my wife asked if I liked her blouse, I gushed “Oh yeah!” That was a bold-faced lie. I hate the color mauve. (Or was it a bald-faced lie? Or barefaced? Beats me.) My point is that people lie – all the time. But why?

Lying is as old as mankind. Harvard researchers believe the first documented fabrication took place over 20,000 years ago, as evidenced by a cave painting depicting a man extending his arms wide to indicate the size of the fish that got away. (Okay, I fibbed. It was actually University of Phoenix researchers, but Harvard sounded so much more impressive. My bad.)

Our country was founded on falsehoods, starting with George Washington, who famously uttered, “I cannot tell a lie. I did cut the cherry tree.”  Well, turns out that story was fake news. It never happened!

Scientists believe early man may have looked something like this. They also think he probably lied as a way to gain an advantage over his adversary. But there’s one thing that this caveman would not lie about: You can save 15% on your car insurance with Geico.

Scientists believe early man may have looked something like this. They also think he probably lied as a way to gain an advantage over his adversary. But there’s one thing that this caveman would not lie about: You can save 15% on your car insurance with Geico.

People mislead and falsify to gain advantage over others or collect unjust rewards, such as Bernie Madoff with his Ponzi Scheme, or Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France, or me anytime I  golf with my buddy Kevin. But in my defense, I only cheat when we’re playing for money.

Some people lie to exaggerate their achievements and inflate their image. To explain this increasingly common phenomenon, read any random tweet at: @realdonaldtrump

Sometimes people prevaricate to cover up bad behavior, like during the 2016 Summer Olympics, when American swimmer Ryan Lochte claimed he was robbed at gunpoint at a gas station. In reality, he was drunk and urinated outside a gas station bathroom where he got caught in the act by a security guard. Lochte used extremely poor judgment. He should have bribed the guard to back up his cock and bull story with free passes to his Olympic swimming events. Problem solved.

From my own extensive investigations, I’ve concluded that spreading disinformation is deeply woven into our DNA. In a typical day, Americans lie six times. The average Frenchman lies ten times. And the Russians? 37 times. Or you could just pick a number – like I just did above because I ran out of time to research it.

A Danish study on the human proclivity to deceive found that kids master this skill as early as three years of age, usually to avoid punishment or gain favor. This just shows that Danish kids must be developmentally delayed, because my kids had figured out how to lie to my face by eleven months.

We dupe our co-workers, our friends, and even our kids – but often for very good reasons. Parents perpetuate the Santa Claus myth to fill their children with glee (I still can’t fathom how he gets by our burglar alarm system). Kids tell tall tales to test their independence. And God forbid we should hurt someone’s feelings by saying what we really think. And I lie to my wife about my back acting up again to get out of mowing the lawn. My point is these are all perfectly good reasons.

While people have been mendacious ever since Eve told Adam, “Try the apple. It’s perfectly safe,” it appears that our vulnerability to dissembling has never been greater than it is right now, thanks in part to social media, Chinese hackers, and my dentist, who said repairing my crown wouldn’t hurt a bit.

Our ability as a society to separate fact from fiction is under unprecedented attack. For example, I just read a 500-page book that says that 75% of Facebook posts containing a political message have factual inaccuracies – which, of course, is a lie – I’m way too lazy to read a 500-page book. But it’s true that much of what you see on the internet is an exaggeration or an outright falsity. I just read a post on Twitter by some dude claiming – wait for it – that he’s directly related to Jesus. Ludicrous! Who concocts this kind of nonsense? Um, wait a minute. Now that I think about it, that might have been me.

Researchers have discovered that many people are highly prone to believe even the most outrageous lies, even when they are unambiguously contradicted by clear evidence. These people are easy to spot. Just look for the red MAGA hat.

Researchers have discovered that many people are highly prone to believe even the most outrageous lies, even when they are unambiguously contradicted by clear evidence. These people are easy to spot. Just look for the red MAGA hat.

Some people’s jobs require them to lie. These people are known as Members of Congress. Others who deceive as part of their work include spies, lawyers, and anyone in the claims department of a health insurance provider. On the other hand, some people delude others (and themselves) because they simply can’t tell the difference between a lie and the truth. These people are called President Trump.

Every day, most of us are on the receiving end of a barrage of dishonest, disingenuous comments – sometimes from people we trust deeply. What can be done to stop this epidemic? To find out, simply buy my best-selling, award-winning advice book, The Lies About Truth.

But there is one thing you can bank on with 100% assurance. And that is that I care about you, dear reader, very deeply. I consider you my best friend. If you could just email me your bank information and social security number, I would like to make a large deposit into your checking account to show you how much your friendship means to me. And that’s the truth.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Having Fun with Unwanted Solicitors

Having Fun with Unwanted Solicitors

When you’re on a beach vacation and approached for the umpteenth time by one of these guys, don’t despair. Have fun instead. Feign interest, smile and then, in faux German, start talking gibberish, gesticulating wildly. He’ll soon depart.

When you’re on a beach vacation and approached for the umpteenth time by one of these guys, don’t despair. Have fun instead. Feign interest, smile and then, in faux German, start talking gibberish, gesticulating wildly. He’ll soon depart.

One of my many slightly odd character flaws is that I seem to be a perpetual target for pushy solicitors who don’t know me from Adam and want to sell me some ridiculous product. Some of these guys are so aggressive. Another personal flaw is that I cannot resist messing with them. Something just goes off in my brain that says, “It’s time to have a little fun with this pest.”

I know what you’re thinking: Why don’t you just politely hang up, delete the email or walk away from the guy on the street trying to shove a flyer into your hand? Of course, that’s what a normal, mature person would do. And then there’s me.

While on vacation in Rome, my wife and I were strolling towards the Vatican, when out of nowhere, dozens of street vendors bombarded us, pitching identical guided tours of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Each assured us that his was the absolute best tour and the only one that would bypass the long lines.

My initial strategy was to avoid eye contact, a tactic I realized was futile after the 25th assault. So, I put on my best foreign accent of indeterminate origin and started excitedly pitching to the next vendor MY own incredible guided tour. Every time he described some unique aspect of HIS tour, I exclaimed, “That’s amazing! MY tour offers the exact same feature!” Then I proposed to purchase his tour if he’d buy mine. A tour swap. I wore him down with my friendly but unwavering badgering until he finally shuffled away in utter confusion.

The key is to always feign enthusiasm. You need to appear über excited about whatever annoying offer they’re pushing on you. For example, a while back, a telemarketer told me I was selected to win a fabulous five-night – two-day stay at an exotic tropical resort destination. Sure, most people would have cut them off with a curt, “I’m not interested.” But what is the fun in that? Though I could tell it was a time share pitch disguised as a free vacation, I started shouting to my wife, “Hey, honey, we won two whole days and five whole nights at an incredible resort!”

As the rep continued to read from their script, I gave off obvious buying signals: “Wow! How do I sign up for your unbelievable offer?” When they went for the close, I paused, and said, “I’m not sure those dates will work. Let me see when my parole hearing is scheduled. Hmm, nope. Looks like I won’t be out of the joint for another three years. Sorry.” That wrapped up the call rather abruptly, I must say.

Another intrusion I experience with disturbing frequency is the phone survey. “Good evening, sir. I was hoping you could take just a few minutes to answer a brief survey on how you feel Donald Trump is doing to Make American Great Again.” Oh my, I think to myself. How can I possibly resist such an opening? “Sure, happy to help. Let me start by saying I think President Trump is the greatest leader since Adolf Hitler. He is doing an incredible job of protecting our nation by rounding up those dangerous five-year-old Mexican kids and locking them in cages, where they can’t hurt us. And thank God he’s sending all those nasty Muslims back to Syria.” That’s about the time the caller figures out I’m being sarcastic and interrupts, “Um, thank you. I appreciate your time. Bye.”

I have a special place in my heart for brazen scammers. My column is called View from the Bleachers. So, when a few years ago, a fraudster emailed me in fractured English, inquiring whether he could purchase some bleachers, of course I felt compelled to oblige this potential customer. After all, this could result in a highly unexpected financial windfall. The fact that I don’t actually sell bleachers at this humor website in no way deterred me from my mission. I immediately wrote back – in my own heavily fractured English, “This week we do big special of pink bleachers. I throw in cup-holders free for you, boss. We have deal, yes?” That began a delightful series of emails back and forth until he gave up in frustration. You can read the genuine exchange in my piece titled My Fleeting Friendship with an Internet Scammer.

The next time you get what sounds like a call from the IRS demanding you give them your credit card number or the police will arrest you, relax. It’s a scam. Tell them you will cooperate, then ask if it’s okay if you record this call for police officer Reyes, who is in your living room. >CLICK

The next time you get what sounds like a call from the IRS demanding you give them your credit card number or the police will arrest you, relax. It’s a scam. Tell them you will cooperate, then ask if it’s okay if you record this call for police officer Reyes, who is in your living room. >CLICK<

Then there is the classic email scam in which a highly placed Nigerian Prince has died and your name miraculously surfaced, apparently in the Nigerian – American Yellow Pages, as a reputable person to turn to, to help them get the money out of the country by depositing it into your bank account for safekeeping. When I recently received this urgent plea, I waffled, then remonstrated myself: What kind of Good Samaritan would I be if I refused my assistance in their hour of need?

So, naturally, I graciously replied that I would be delighted to help any way I could. I gave them my (fabricated) name, social security and bank account numbers, and just for good measure, I provided a detailed, heartwarming back story about myself, which bore an eerie resemblance to the plot line from Forrest Gump.

When two days later they emailed again to inform me that the social security and bank account numbers I had provided did not work, I apologized profusely, explaining that I had not been wearing my reading glasses at that time. I then furnished new account numbers, which I conjured up using a Ouija board. I never heard from them again. Not even a Christmas card.

So, the next time a phone call from a suspicious number interrupts your family’s dinner to inform you that you’ve won a too-good-to-be true vacation in Cabo, just know that it is. But don’t hang up. Be polite. Hear them out. Then, in a warm, friendly voice, explain, “Before I accept your incredible offer, one question: Do you know anything about CPR? My grandfather just collapsed on the floor and he’s not breathing. What do you recommend I do?” You’ll be back to your dinner in no time. Trust me.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

My Wife’s Silly Concern That I Waste Too Much Time Watching Football

My Wife’s Silly Concern That I Waste Too Much Time Watching Football

[Author’s note: I meant to publish this article earlier, but I simply could not find the time. There were eleven college football bowl games I had to watch, plus four NFL playoff games. A man has to prioritize. – TEJ]

Like millions of other American males, I love to watch football. My wife thinks it’s a total waste of time. She’d rather watch a nature program or a documentary about Marco Polo. Who would want to learn something when you can spend quality time yelling at your TV over the officiating?

Like millions of other American males, I love to watch football. My wife thinks it’s a total waste of time. She’d rather watch a nature program or a documentary about Marco Polo. Who would want to learn something when you can spend quality time yelling at your TV over the officiating?

In recent years, there has been a national crisis brewing. No, I’m not talking about climate change or the latest measles outbreak. It’s the bane of millions of wives that their husbands are watching far too much football and totally ignoring the little lady (I’m not being chauvinistic. My wife is truly a little lady at 5’0″).

Recently, this topic became a source of strain in my own marriage. After many heated discussions, we decided to visit a marriage counselor to help my wife work through her silly problem. Below is a play-by-play transcript of how our first session went. 

Dr. Robert Taylor: Good afternoon. I’m Dr. Taylor. I understand that there are some concerns you have about your marriage. Who’d like to begin?

Michele: I will. I’m convinced that Tim cares more about football than he does about me.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, care to respond to your wife’s assertion?… Tim? … Tim, did you listen to what your wife just said?

Tim: Sorry, doc. I was just watching highlights from last weekend’s Saints – Vikings game on my phone. Could you believe that non-call in the end zone in overtime? Um, what was the question again?

Dr. Taylor: Your wife feels that you care more about football than you care about her. Care to comment?

Tim: About what?

Michele: ME! And put down your stupid phone. See, Dr. Taylor. This is what I’m talking about. Tim sits back in his recliner every Saturday and Sunday to watch his dumb football games. Tim, in a marriage, we’re supposed to be a team. Do you understand the problem our team is having?

Tim: I sure do. The Seahawks have absolutely no pass defense. They rank 25th in the league. That’s not gonna get them far in the playoffs.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, I don’t think that’s the problem your wife is talking about.

Tim: She could be right. Their pass blocking is equally suspect.

Michele: Tim, for God’s sake, can you hear yourself?!!? The problem is not the Seabirds’ pass blocking.

Tim: You make a salient point. I agree, their play calling is so predictable. But it’s not the Seabirds. It’s the Seahawks.

Michele: I don’t care if it’s the SeaWEEDS! You’re not listening to me. Every weekend, it’s like I’ve lost my husband to that stupid game. What exactly is so important about that ridiculous sport anyway?

Tim: You think football is a ridiculous sport? Might I point out that your parents love to watch curling? Now THAT’S a stupid sport. 

Michele: Don’t change the subject. I’m talking about how on weekends you spend more time watching football than you spend with me!

Dr. Taylor: Tim, is that true? Do you even talk to her during these contests?

Tim: I talk with her all the time as I’m watching. I’ll say things to her like, “Did you see that incredible catch?” and “What a horrible call by the official. Can you believe that call?” And “Can you make me a grilled cheese, honey? More cheese than last time, okay?”

Michele: You just don’t get it! All you talk about during these games is football, football, football.

Tim: That’s because I’m watching football. Would you prefer me to provide a commentary on the finer points of Badminton instead? Why would I do that during a football game?

Michele: ARGH!! How about talking to me about something – ANYTHING – other than sports? Like the last book you read.

Tim:  I could do that.

Michele: Really? That would mean a lot to me.

Dr. Taylor: And what book was that, Tim?

Tim: I just finished the pro football classic, “America’s Game”.

Michele: Unbelievable! What is so important about watching a bunch of over-sized men pound each other in pursuit of a little ball? I don’t get men’s obsession with this sport!

Tim: It’s football. Men like football.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, what I’m hearing from Michele is that, come weekends, you don’t seem to care about her interests. Am I understanding you, Michele?

Michele: Yes. Exactly. I mean, would it be so difficult for him to take a break from the flat-screen TV and go on a hike with me?

My wife says I never talk to her when I’m watching a football game on TV. That’s not true. Why, just last weekend, we discussed the possibility of her making me another plate of nachos and getting me a beverage. Her reply: Over my dead body.

My wife says I never talk to her when I’m watching a football game on TV. That’s not true. Why, just last weekend, we discussed the possibility of her making me another plate of nachos and getting me a beverage. Her reply: Over my dead body.

Tim: I hear you. The center really needs to work on his hikes on punts. Last week, he sent the ball over the punter’s head.

Michele: Dr. Taylor, see what I’m up against? He thinks any game on TV is more important than spending time with me.

Tim: Not if it’s the Dolphins – Bengals game. You can hardly call that football.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, I think you may be missing the point.

Tim: What point? Did someone score? Let me check my phone.

Dr. Taylor: No, Tim, you’re missing Michele’s concern, that you’re so engrossed in football that you forget to focus on her needs. What would happen if, just for once, you turned off the TV and missed a game?

Tim: I believe the answer is obvious. As you said, I’d miss the game.

Dr. Taylor: And so what if you did? Is that so bad? What if you went out for a walk with your wife instead?

Tim: Could I still listen to it on the radio with just one ear bud? She could listen on the other.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, are you willing to make any sort of compromise in your viewing habits in the interest of helping your marriage?

Tim: Okay, okay. I get it. How about I only watch football every other Sunday. And the other weekends, we do a fun outdoor activity together that Michele likes, say kayaking?

Michele: Well that’s a start, I guess. And I do like kayaking. Thank you, honey.

Tim: In fact, how about we start this new plan on February 3rd?

Michele: Let me guess. The Super Bowl is on the 2nd, right? 

Tim: Wow! You know when the Super Bowl is?! I think you secretly like football.

(Michele leaps from her chair but Dr. Taylor intervenes.)

Tim: Nice block, doc. You’re a natural.

Dr. Taylor: Well, I did play left guard in high school. (Whispering to Tim) Say, who do you think will win the Super Bowl? I’ve got $100 on the Ravens. Their quarterback is unstoppable –

Michele: Not you too, doctor. Unbelievable!

Dr. Taylor: Uh, um, well. I think we made some progress. Unfortunately, I have to wrap up early. I’m catching the playoff game with a few friends of mine. Oh, and one last thing. Rest assured that everything we’ve discussed today will be held in the strictest of confidence. – that is, unless your husband decides to publish the details of this session in an upcoming blog post.

Tim: I would never do that. Why would you even think such a thing, doc?

Michele: Oh no…..

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Introducing the Amazing, Incredible MIRACLE BOX!

Introducing the Amazing, Incredible MIRACLE BOX!

Welcome to the future. Behold MIRACLE BOX – an incredible breakthrough technology that will change your world forever. Imagine having a tidy, organized home, where everything is neatly stored away. Now that dream can finally be yours – unless you have young children.

Welcome to the future. Behold MIRACLE BOX – an incredible breakthrough technology that will change your world forever. Imagine having a tidy, organized home, where everything is neatly stored away. Now that dream can finally be yours – unless you have young children.

Once every generation, an entirely new product comes along that is so powerful, so game-changing, that it redefines how we live. In the 1920s, it was radio. The 1940s launched television. The 1960s introduced the microwave oven. In the 1980s, we discovered the power of personal computing. And the millennium catapulted humanity into the future with the Internet and smart phone.

As life-altering as all those innovations have been – to how we spend leisure time, share information and eat frosted cinnamon pop tarts – perhaps none has revolutionized how we live as much as the latest technological breakthrough. Introducing the amazing, incredible MIRACLE BOX.

Brought to you by VFTB Enterprises, the makers of Placebolax and Dyzastra, MIRACLE BOX can be used for hundreds of applications. So, what exactly is this latest disruptive technology? MIRACLE BOX is an ingeniously designed quadra-sided containment vessel that features a perfectly flat foundation and symmetrically aligned vertical walls. Think of a giant Rubik’s Cube whose internal void can be accessed manually, and you have a vague concept of what MIRACLE BOX looks like. Its unique patented rectangular design allows people for the first time in history to put things away!

Consider that growing stack of Golfer’s Digest and People magazines that you just haven’t gotten around to reading. Insert them inside MIRACLE BOX and rediscover your missing cat that’s been hidden underneath all these years. (I’m sure he’ll be okay.) Don’t know what to do with all your daughter’s childhood art projects? The clay hand print, the Popsicle stick reindeer, the sock puppet? Put them in MIRACLE BOX, and you’ll never have to look at them again!

Still shoving those Playboy magazines under the bed and praying your wife never dusts under there? Improve your odds and save your marriage by making that mess disappear, thanks to the wonder of MIRACLE BOX.

No need to further alienate your teen by hounding him to put away his laundry. He can just stuff it – the laundry, that is, into MIRACLE BOX! [Our top researchers are currently working on a laundry containment version of MIRACLE BOX.]

MIRACLE BOX comes in countless sizes and colors – so there’s sure to be one to suit your eclectic style. Need to conceal a corpse? No problem. Just order our Ultra Grande size (S&H fees apply).

MIRACLE BOX comes in a variety of sizes, colors and textures. Perfect for storing everything from party supplies to towels. CAUTION: Not recommended for storing boys or girls – unless they have been behaving extremely badly.

MIRACLE BOX comes in a variety of sizes, colors and textures. Perfect for storing everything from party supplies to towels. CAUTION: Not recommended for storing boys or girls – unless they have been behaving extremely badly.

For too long, people have endured the hassle and frustration of clutter. What to do with those 5,000 must keep baseball cards that represent every good (and fading) memory of your youth. How to protect your Hot Wheels collection from the sacrilege of being sold at a garage sale!  Your well-meaning wife might protest, “Just throw them out! You’re 52 years old, for God’s sake.” Now you don’t have to. Just cram them (and your emotions) in a box – a MIRACLE BOX.

A basic MIRACLE BOX comes in your choice of cardboard or corrugated fiberboard. Choose from an array of texture upgrades, including plastic, plywood and metal. For the real storage connoisseur, why not impress your friends by choosing our Limited Edition premium model, constructed with 100% Malaysian teak or Amazonian mahogany? They’ll all wonder how rich you must be.

MIRACLE BOX offers a variety of useful options, including a handy feature we call a “lid” – perfect for when you want to effortlessly cover and uncover its contents. Need to quickly relocate some contraband because you suspect the cops are on to you? Why not order our MIRACLE BOX with convenient “handles” upgrade?

And check out our special ventilated MIRACLE BOX – perfect for storing recalcitrant rabbits, when you prefer not to suffocate them (Note: contents may expand without warning – especially if contents contain both sexes).

The response from people who have tried MIRACLE BOX has been overwhelming. Check out these actual testimonials from satisfied MIRACLE BOX customers:

“Before I discovered MIRACLE BOX, I never knew what to do with my extensive bottle cap collection. But thanks to MIRACLE BOX, now I can put them all away. I even saw a YouTube video that showed me how to stack my MIRACLE BOX on top of other MIRACLE BOXES. That blew my mind!” – Justin Idyott, Biloxi, MS

“As the poppa of seven kids, ages 3 through 6, I used to wonder where in our trailer park home to put all their toys. Not anymore. Now I just put them all in 15 MIRACLE BOXES, with convenient labels such as “Lego’s” and “fireworks” and “ammo.” Thanks, MIRACLE BOX!” – Bubba Moronski, Tulsa, OK

Introducing the latest innovation from MIRACLE BOX – The MIRACLE FORT! This easy-to-assemble citadel is the perfect way to entertain young children for hours. (Sharpie, tape and box cutter sold separately.)

Introducing the latest innovation from MIRACLE BOX – The MIRACLE FORT! This easy-to-assemble citadel is the perfect way to entertain young children for hours. (Sharpie, tape and box cutter sold separately.)

“I run insurance scams for a living. I started running out of office space for all the fake claims and bogus receipts. That’s when I discovered MIRACLE BOX. I went for the optional ‘lid’ upgrade. I’ll never go back to using my pool table to store this stuff – thanks to MIRACLE BOX.” – Frankie ‘Fingers” Barbato, Bayonne, NJ

So, what are you waiting for? Why not join the thousands of people who have discovered the amazing MIRACLE BOX? Order your MIRACLE BOX by midnight tonight and we’ll throw in a free set of MIRACLE LABELS. Wonder what’s inside that large box in your storage room? Thanks to the incredible MIRACLE LABEL, you need no longer wonder where you stored your first aid kit – or your medical cocaine.

LIFE IS A MIRACLE – THANKS TO THE MIRACLE OF MIRACLE BOX! 

Disclaimer: MIRACLE BOX should not be used to store children or pets (unless you order the Deluxe ventilated edition). Do not use MIRACLE BOX as a guest room for your in-laws, as they may have difficulty finding the exit. MIRACLE BOX is not recommended as a place to keep expensive jewelry or rare coins, unless you clearly label your MIRACLE BOX with a misleading label, like “Nothing important inside” to deter theft. While indeed miraculous, MIRACLE BOX will not save a failed marriage nor restore hair growth. In rare instances, MIRACLE BOX can be fatal, as when in a drunken stupor, you ingest MIRACLE BOX, take off all your clothes and challenge a gang leader to a duel. If you paint a large black tunnel on the side of MIRACLE BOX, do not attempt to drive a truck through it.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Surviving Christmas Dinner with Relatives

Surviving Christmas Dinner with Relatives

It’s Christmas dinner, a time of giving thanks and sharing good food and stories with your family, and occasionally with some quirky relatives who make things, well, let’s just say, interesting.

It’s Christmas dinner, a time of giving thanks and sharing good food and stories with your family, and occasionally with some quirky relatives who make things, well, let’s just say, interesting.

The weather is getting colder. The hours of daylight are rapidly waning. And Costco has inflatable eight-foot Snow Globes on sale (although in full disclosure, these went on sale in early September). The holiday season is officially upon us.

An important tradition is the family Christmas dinner with loved ones, and, sometimes with not-so-loved ones, by which I mean your cranky, Fox News-watching, conspiracy-theory-loving Uncle Howard, who announces three days before Christmas that he’ll be joining you for the feast, even though you didn’t actually invite him.

Unfortunately, all too often the sumptuous Christmas repast can be accompanied by heightened tensions as we struggle to avoid getting sucked into a heated argument with relatives who are oblivious of their behavior. If you’re anxious about the impending arrival of Uncle Howard, who will most likely be carrying a half-consumed case of Budweiser, don’t despair. It’s going to be okay. You’ll get through this in one piece, I promise.

When Uncle Howard makes his grand entrance two hours late with Carlotta, his latest practically-prepubescent fling, on his arm, be sure to greet them with a polite hug. Try to ignore their matching red MAGA hats – and the large tabby cat draped around Carlotta’s neck. You might want to lock Otto, your schnauzer, in the basement, lest his very strong prey instinct kicks in and he chases the kitty around everyone’s feet.

Remember, above all else, DO NOT BRING UP POLITICS! When Howard snipes, “So, who are you voting for in 2020,?” just smile, say, “There’s an election in 2020? Whatta ya’ know!?,” and quickly change the subject.

When all are seated around the festive table, take this opportunity to fan the flames of familial bonding by sharing how your wife has helped you to become a better husband. Well done. You could not possibly have guessed that Howard would use words of harmonious wedded bliss to torch his ex: “Speaking of wives, my ex totally cleaned me out in the divorce. And now she wants my house. Over my dead body…” Okay, maybe you should have foreseen that one. Time to change the subject – again.

I recommend football. What balding senior citizen with a hot young girlfriend doesn’t like to brag about his knowledge of sports. So, you open with, “Hey, looks like another rebuilding year for the Dolphins, eh?” Who knew Howard’s comeback would be, “Nah, pro football has been ruined for me – ever since all those Negroes showed their hatred for America by refusing to stand for our National Anthem.” I know what you’re thinking – did he just say “Negroes?” Bite your tongue.

Okay, so talking sports was a bad idea. You need to find an innocuous topic that no one can argue about. Ahh…the weather. Conversation doesn’t get blander than that. You causally mention, “I hear we may get six inches of snow today. Looks like we might have a white Christmas after all.” But to your dismay, Uncle H storms back, “Gonna snow? See, I told you snowflakes that global warming is a hoax. All this hysteria about climate change is just liberal propaganda. I know because Sean Hannity says so.”

Okay, I’ll admit, I didn’t see that one coming either. Still, it’ll be fine. Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. Just then, the doorbell rings. Who could that be? Why of course, it’s your cousin Claire with her wife, Monica. “Hey, Couz! We happened to be in the neighborhood and thought we’d stop by. Are we too late for chow?” What could possibly go wrong now?

As the gracious host you are, you welcome your unexpected guests to join in the gaiety. Out of left field – or rather, far right field – Howard walks up to Monica, smiles and remarks, “Howdy, girls. You know, 90% of lesbians are witches. You’re both gonna burn in Hell. But in the meantime, Merry Christmas.” Looking back at you, he smirks, adding, “Or am I required to say, ‘Happy Holidays’ to not offend our liberal friends’ feelings in their politically correct War on Christmas?”

One thing that can create some anxiety at Christmas is the arrival of the unexpected relative who’s far more delighted to see you than you are to see them. No worries. What could possibly go wrong?

One thing that can create some anxiety at Christmas is the arrival of the unexpected relative who’s far more delighted to see you than you are to see them. No worries. What could possibly go wrong?

Somehow you are able to corral everybody back to the dinner table, making last-minute strategic seating alterations. Calm seems to have returned. You gather everyone in your gaze and suggest each person share what they’re grateful for at this special time of year. You set an excellent example by observing, “I am thankful for my family, our good health, and our lovely home. We are so blessed.” Nice try. Then Uncle Howard chimes in, “I’m thankful Carlotta is way hotter than my nasty ex-wife. And I’m thankful to God for choosing Donald Trump to be our greatest president ever. And once he’s re-elected in a landslide victory, he’ll lock up Hillary and Obama.”

Things quickly unravel. Go figure. Everybody starts shouting. Claire angrily hurls a dinner roll that hits Howard smack in the eye. Monica accidentally steps on Carlotta’s cat, who lets out a blood-curdling MEEOOOOWW!!!!. This sets off a barking frenzy by Otto, which startles Grandma, who jumps up from her wheelchair, accidentally knocking over the candelabra, which sets the tablecloth on fire. That activates the sprinkler system, dowsing your wife’s new dress and expensive coiffure. Baby Sally starts wailing, which further terrifies the cat, who hurls itself through the kitchen window, followed by Otto, who you did not know could leap that high. All of which amuses your kids to no end, who are laughing hysterically.

Claire screams something about Howard being a disgusting racist pig, to which Howard yells back, “At least I won’t burn in hell for being a lesbian!” Christmas with the relatives has descended into total pandemonium. When the smoke alarm starts trilling, you merely shake your head as you realize your apple pie in the oven is now toast.

Despite your best efforts, let’s face it, your family Christmas dinner has been a Chernobyl-level meltdown. And that’s not even counting the 150 stitches the cat and dog needed for their acrobatics smashing through the kitchen window. (No worries. The window can be replaced.) To avoid another disaster next holiday, I suggest you seriously consider entering the Witness Protection Program so none of your relatives can find you. Sure, that may sound drastic. But it’s either that or listening to Uncle Howard’s tirade about how the Ukrainians tried to steal the 2020 election from Trump.

Good luck. I hear Montana is a nice place to start a new life.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019

[Photos are stills from the 1989 film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.]