This happy fellow dancing badly is my high school classmate Doug Stone. He partied all the time, was a total slacker and arrived late & drunk to graduation. He now manages a global hedge fund & earns $15 million/yr.
Every three months, like clockwork, I suddenly experience an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. It happens when my high school alumni newsletter arrives. I went to a private all-boys’ military high school, the Albany Academy, founded in 1813. The school sends out a quarterly newsletter for three reasons:
- to update alumni on programs they’ve initiated, like the incredible new state-of-the-art athletic complex
- to not so subtly solicit generous donations to fund the incredible new state-of-the-art athletic complex
- and most importantly, to invite alumni to send in updates about their booming careers (and invite them to share their riches to offset the cost of that incredible new state-of-the-art athletic complex)
I don’t normally suffer from poor self-esteem. I feel fairly good about most of my vocational moves – even my current ten-year gig as a humorist, despite the fact that it is a source of constant embarrassment to my wife and kids.
I generally avoid contact with most of my high school classmates because it invariably degrades into a rencounter among alpha males for top honors in career achievements. I’ll bump into someone from my graduating class who had been a stoner and slacker and barely eked by with a C- average. In the first minute of our encounter, he informs me that he’s now Chief of Neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic. Or perhaps he invented GPS technology or won the Nobel Prize in Mathematics. Then comes that awkward moment when he asks what I’ve been up to and I am thrust into the awkward moral dilemma of whether to tell him I’m the CEO of a multinational technology firm or Ambassador to France. I usually just dodge the entire issue by vaguely alluding that he does not have the proper security clearance for me to divulge the details of my amazing story. Continue reading “Classmate Updates I’d Like to See” »
Read my cautionary tale about my visit to a particular retailer (whose name I won’t reveal) in an attempt to redeem a gift card. It was a snap, if by “a snap” you mean as simple as deciphering the Da Vinci Code.
[The following is a 100% 98.7% true story.]
Recently, I had a rather unpleasant shopping experience involving a well-known retail establishment. I’d rather not mention the store by name, as I would hate for others to TARGET this chain with well-deserved, snarky tweets.
It started with a gift card from a friend for Christmas. A delightful surprise. But the process I endured to redeem it was, well, let’s just say I’ve had root canal surgeries that were more pleasurable – and took a lot less time.
Here’s what happened. My friend – whom I’d like to assume had positive intentions – gave me an online gift card to use at the afore-not-mentioned giant red & white-colored discount retailer. I printed it out and proceeded to the nearest store. I wandered through the aisles, stocking my cart with exotic splurge items like paper towels, light bulbs, and a plastic waste basket. Okay, so I lead a dull life.
I reached the checkout counter and presented my printout, showing the amount, bar code, and a couple long numbers, identified as the “gift Identification number” and “PIN code.” The cashier greeted me cheerfully. I figured I’d be in and out of this store in under 30 minutes. But the universe had other plans for me that day. Continue reading “My Shopping Experience That Went Off TARGET” »
Look at this happy couple. They were smart. They planned far ahead for their golden years with a sound investment strategy. Her great grandfather was John D. Rockefeller.
A wise man once said, If a man’s wealth be measured in grains of rice, he could hold all the riches of the world in his hands. Okay, so that man was an idiot. He was also my Uncle Larry, and he died penniless – unless you count the 850 boxes of Minute Rice found in his basement after his funeral.
Thankfully, I did not follow Uncle Larry’s investment approach, though I am enjoying the Minute Rice he left us. In fact, I have accumulated a large amount of wealth over my lifetime – almost as much as I have lost. If you’re concerned you may not have saved enough to comfortably retire before the age of 75, you’re not alone. You’re still probably screwed, but at least you’ll have company.
Let me share a few pearls of wisdom. First, whatever you do, and you might want to get a pen to write this down: NEVER HAVE KIDS! They are insanely expensive. The ROI on progeny is like a buying a bond – it takes decades to see a profit – if you’re lucky. According to recent studies I just made up, the cost of raising a child through college is $4.9 million – even more if you indulge in orthodontia for their crooked teeth. Okay, maybe I’m overshooting my cost projections slightly. My point is, kids will drain your retirement savings.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids – almost 70% of the time. I’m just saying, think of all you could do with the mega-bucks you’d save by being a little more conscientious about birth control. You could buy a small island off the coast of Greece (other than Mykonos or Santorini – I checked – they are way out of your price range). However, if you glibly choose to ignore my advice and decide to start a family anyway, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Continue reading “How to Retire Filthy Rich” »
Putin vs. Poutine. One is an evil, deadly killer that over time has ruthlessly attempted to slowly eat away at and destroy the safety of an unsuspecting country. The other is Vladimir Putin.
Every day I read another news story citing Russia’s ongoing attempts to de-stabilize America. And then there’s the increasing specter from China, with its treacherous plans to steal all our technology and hack all our phones.
We’re also told to be wary of the menace from our southern border, where thousands of terrorist Hispanic children with their Hello Kitty backpacks are preparing to invade us.
As serious as these threats are from our east, west and south, our government, in its futile efforts to protect the American people, is looking in all the wrong directions. The real peril – and it is a formidable one – is coming at us from the north!
I’m talking about the People’s Socialist Republic of Canada. I have always distrusted Canadians – especially this one particularly beautiful redhead “comrade” I have long suspected of being a spy – my wife. And seriously, how can any country be that nice?
It’s not the Russian Bear we should be worried about. It’s the great white Polar Bear lurching towards our 5,525 mile-long unprotected northern border. Canada may not have the military clout to conquer us (their entire military could fit into a Walmart Super Store). No, their tactic is far more devious and subtle. You’ve heard the adage, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”? Well, through the stomach is also the way to our demise – and it is how they plan to kill us.
How do I know this? Because I recently visited a Canadian family in Vancouver, BC. We took walks together, chatting about the challenges of living in a northerly country with only four hours of sunlight on a good day. We pondered whether Canadians will ever learn how to spell words like “color” and “theater” properly. We laughed. We bonded. I thought they were my friends. They even forgave me for living in a country that elected a president who thinks Canada’s capitol is the North Pole. (Every American knows Canada’s capitol is Toronto.)
The entire time I was in this perplexing alien land, folks were extremely polite and hospitable. My guard was down, and so they lulled me into a false sense of acceptance – and trust. Too late, I learned that secretly, they all despise Americans. Why? Perhaps they envy our ingenuity in creating Disneyland and the diaper alarm. Or maybe their shame over our women’s hockey team beating theirs for the 2018 Olympic Gold medal was too much. The truth is, I now believe my hosts were trying to kill me the entire time, and I have definitive proof.
On my final day there, my Canadian “friends” took me out to a popular local eatery for a last meal before I headed back home to the states. The specialty was a popular traditional Canadian meal called poutine (“poo-teen”) and they insisted I try it. I had no idea they intended this to literally be my LAST MEAL.
I know, you’re saying, “Tim, you sound paranoid!” But let me explain. This meal was created by the most dangerous specie of Canadian: the French Canadians – and is composed of greasy French fried potatoes mixed with large chunks of cheese curds, smothered in a thick blanket of beef gravy – or as it’s better known, the Three Pillars of Death. The portions are huge. The “Child Size” is so named, I believe, because it’s roughly the size of a toddler. My theory is that poutine was originally used as a substitute for mortar to adhere the ice blocks together on igloos.
Flashback to the cozy scene at the restaurant. Within minutes of gorging on this lard-based sludge with the consistency of wet cement, I could barely stand up. My dinner-mates were ever so solicitous as they ushered me into my car and bid me a fond farewell. I could hardly stay awake on the three-hour drive home. I could have died in a car crash – which in retrospect, clearly was their plan all along.
Poutine – a French Canadian dinner staple consisting of French fries, cheese curds and beef gravy that has become Canada’s signature meal – or as I call it, The Artery Assassin.
In doing research for this article (why are you laughing at the thought I might do research?), I learned that poutine is insanely high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and refined carbs, and causes instantaneous thickening of artery walls. In fact, a single serving (typically 5,000 ounces) can kill you (although in full disclosure, that’s more likely due to the waiter deliberately dropping the ponderous plate onto your head at the sound of your American accent.)
Fortunately, for me, I only ate a small portion of my 64-ounce “Infant” serving, or else, I’m fairly certain I would have suffered a heart attack – or at least a really bad case of indigestion.
What the mainstream media won’t tell you is that it’s all part of a nefarious plot to invite Americans to come to Canada, to help prop up their faltering economy, and then, when we least suspect it, serve us a truck-bed serving of poutine, so we’ll all keel over from cardiac arrest. Then they’ll take our cars, break into our homes –and steal our flat screen TVs and jewelry – while leaving a very thoughtful apology note on the kitchen counter.
I now believe Canadians are hellbent on destroying America. They have long been jealous of us, mainly because they are sick and tired of the NFL drafting all the best football talent before the CFL gets a pick. Their plan is to take us out, one unsuspecting football fan at a time, by offering to make us home-cooked meals of their artery-clogging poison.
You may be asking yourself, “Hey, if poutine is so deadly, why do Canadians keep eating it, and why aren’t they dying from it?” – to which I say: you ask really annoying questions. You’re forgetting that they’ve had a century to build up an immunity to this deadly concoction. They also drink maple syrup straight from the jar and consume Canadian bacon by the shovel-full, and yet somehow survive. Those bastards have arteries of steel.
America, it’s time to stop falling for all the Fake News stories about Russia, China and Mexico trying to undermine our great country. Our real enemy will be invading from the north. And they know the fastest way to bring us to our knees is through our pie holes.
Tonight, when you tuck your kids in bed, tell them you love them, promise never to make them write everything in two languages, and be sure never to let them visit Canada. Because if they do, they may never return, thanks to a poutine overdose – or perhaps because they will be duped by Canadians’ devious displays of hospitality, generosity and the country’s incredible natural beauty. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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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 2019
This is my high school senior yearbook photo. I know what you’re thinking: Tim, you look so cool – not the least bit nerdy.
I am often asked, “Tim, were you always so popular and beloved by all who know you?” Admittedly this question is usually posed during a recurring dream in which Scarlett Johansson presents me with the Pulitzer Prize for Bad Humor Writing. You may find this hard to imagine, but in my younger days, I was not nearly so popular with the girls or envied by the guys; nor was I as comfortable making verifiably false claims as I am today.
The truth is, before college, where I assumed a totally new identity and back story, I was rather shy and nervous – especially around the fairer sex. I blame this on attending the Albany Academy, an all-boys’ school, for twelve years and being a late bloomer (I expect to start blooming any day now).
In addition to these impediments, I was one of the lucky teens who wore braces, was afflicted by acne, and was slightly overweight. I also lived nowhere near any of the other kids in my school, so getting together with them was a no go. Then sprinkle in a large dollop of parental disapproval from an extremely strict father who perpetually described me as “a disappointment,” and you have the perfect recipe for an awkward young man not exactly brimming with self-confidence.
At the Academy, a private military school, there were the usual cliques – the cool kids, jocks, theater guys, and stoners. I belonged to a very small and eclectic group consisting of one member: me. I was the pleasant enough but somewhat serious “straight arrow” who was considered too much of a bookworm to invite to parties. On most Saturday nights, while the majority of my class was getting drunk at Woody’s house or Hayward’s or Robb’s, I was typically at home, falling asleep watching Mannix at 10:00 on CBS.
Truth be told, I didn’t really care that I missed all the parties, in part because I did not drink (still don’t), and also, I just was not into that scene. I found meaning in studying – all the time. There’s a word for someone like me who routinely got good grades and devoutly completed all homework before allowing himself to play: A Nerd.
I guess, if I’m being honest with myself (something I try to avoid as much as possible), I was a little behind the curve in a few areas – like what to say on a date… or what to wear on a date… or how to get a date. Continue reading “Mr. Popularity – The Early Years” »
Meet Ryan, Amanda, Justin, Kayla and Tyler – five millennials with an important message to share – which they will get around to just as soon as they respond to the latest text from Ryan, Amanda, Justin, Kayla or Tyler.
[Note: This week I turn over the editorial reins – and hope I don’t regret this decision – to five outspoken millennials – Ryan, Amanda, Justin, Kayla and Tyler (at right) – who have demanded the opportunity to share what they believe the rest of us need to accept, based on the collective wisdom of young people. Looks like our future is in good hands. – TEJ]
Hey, you Gen X’rs and Baby Boomers. You geezers have called the shots 4 way 2 long. It’s time we millennials explain the new rules. This is our BILL OF RIGHTS, or as we prefer to call it, our BLLORTS. Just so you won’t whine about having no idea how to “translate” our writing, we’ll use complete sentences (what a hassle), with punctuation and vowels – thgh, srsly, who bthrs wth vwls ths dys?
As a Millennial, I proclaim that…
Climate change is real. It’s going to destroy the planet if we don’t do something about it NOW. I plan to get actively involved, of course, but for the moment I’m busy checking out my options on Tinder and Bumble. But right after Monica swipes me back, I’m all over saving the planet. Text me when Florida starts to submerge.
We need to help people in need. There are millions of people all over the world who don’t have nearly enough to get by. It’s time we look out for those unfortunates. Speaking of people in need, I need you to pay for my airfare home for Christmas. I had to buy a new iPhone X, so my Venmo account is low. Continue reading “A Millennial’s Bill of Rights” »