Friday, July 29, 2005

You're Nothing Special

You are replaceable. It's a fact. It holds true for everyone. You can and will be replaced. You're not so special and unique that we can't find someone else to fill your place. There' s always someone smarter than you. There's always someone better than you. The best you can hope for is that your replacement doesn't come along before you are ready to leave, or that your superior doesn't realize that you can be replaced for a younger, smarter, cheaper model.

However, when you are replaced you then get to be someone else's replacement. Fortunately, there's always someone older, dumber and more expensive than you. So don't worry too much, because you'll find a place. If you don't, then there is a very good chance that you are the dumbest or the worst in your field.

If you don't believe me, just look around. What if you didn't show up for work for two weeks? What would happen? The economy certainly wouldn't fall apart. The world wouldn't stop spinning. Everyone would keep on living (or dying) and no one would be any the wiser. Sure, your boss might be a little annoyed, and your company would probably fire you but there would be no major catastrophe. In fact, your company would just hire someone else to do what you were doing and everything would chug right along like it had before. Except that you're probably a little more tan from your unannounced two week vacation.

This idea is the whole reason we have unions. The workers realized that there's always someone ready and willing to step in and replace them - often for less pay - so they got organized to keep this from happening. They're still replaceable but it's a lot harder to replace them.

You say, "But I'm me and there's no one else like me, so I can't be replaced entirely." Sure you can. It happens all the time. People die. What happens? They get replaced. Sure, people are sad for a while but they eventually get over it and move on. You wife will find a new husband. Your friends will find a new friend. Your co-workers will find a new co-worker. Or they won't - which is the saddest of all. Maybe they won't even try to replace you. You may think that is an indication that you are not replaceable, but I say it's just and indication that you were never needed in the first place.

Sorry, folks, you're just not that important.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Keeping It Old School

When the subject turns to music, one sure way to afford youself some immediate "cred" is by "keeping it old school." For example, people talk about hip-hop or rap and you mention that you own early Run DMC or De La Soul albums. Instant cred. You knew the good shit when it was happening. Before it became classic. It always works. After the conversation, people walk away thinking, "Yeah, that guy's cool. He knows what's up."

Does it always work that way?

If there is a group of teenage girls standing around talking about 'NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys and an older woman walks up, flashes a few of her Jordan Knight buttons and says, "Yeah, they're okay but it's nothing like back in the New Kids days." Do the teenage girls look up and say, "Damn, that lady knows her shit. She's totally old school"? My guess is no. The response is probably more like, "Uh, grandma? Stick to what you know, okay? We're going to go text message."

Why is this the case?

Well, the music sucked. The New Kids On the Block were terrible. They couldn't really sing, and the songs themselves were just them trying to sing over a bass drum beat. I just heard "Hangin' Tough" on the radio in my company's cafeteria and it was horrible. I can't believe that people were actually fooled into thinking this was good. Of course, I'm not sure that anyone thought it was actually good, they just thought the boys were cute. I say that because I don't know one guy who honestly liked them. Even if we did say we liked their songs, it was because a girl we had a crush on liked them. Otherwise, we hated their guts. Why? Because the girls we had crushes on all had crushes on one or all of the NKOTB. I digress.

The point here is that "keeping it old school" only gains you "cred" if the music actually holds up over time. I think we can all agree that this didn't happen with NKOTB. Deep down, every guy who grew up during the NKOTB era feels vindicated by that.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Forces of Evil and Me

I dated her for almost four years.  She was a wonderful girl.  She treated me very well and we had a good relationship.  We kept each other on our toes and made each other laugh.  I loved her.  I also wanted her dead.

Despite the fact that everything seemed so wonderful and nice in our relationship, it wasn’t working.  We were going through the motions.  We both knew it, but neither wanted to admit it.  I knew that I would have to take action if this was to end.  I didn’t want to be the bad guy.  I didn’t want to hurt her.  I didn’t want all of her friends to hate me for hurting her.   Hell, I didn’t want my friends (who loved her) to hate me for hurting her.  Instead of taking action — doing the right thing — and ending the relationship, I hoped she would die.  It would make everything easier.  I wouldn’t have to be the bad guy.  We could blame God for taking her away.  I could mourn the loss of my girlfriend, take some time to get over her and then start dating again.  Meanwhile, I’d get to keep all my friends and maintain “nice guy” status.  I might even gain a little status thanks to the sympathy vote.  Not to mention the fact that I could play the “love of my life passed away prematurely” card to garner sympathy from other women.  If she dies, I’m the big winner. Sure, people might be sad for a while, but they’ll get over it.  Everyone does.

I waited.  She didn’t die.  I took her white-water rafting.  She didn’t die.  I took her skydiving.  She didn’t die.  I undercooked her chicken.  She didn’t die.

I had to break up with her.   Now everyone thinks I’m the bad guy.

If they only knew.

****

Out of the Loop

In March, my friend JM celebrated his 30th birthday. We went to college together and both moved to Chicago upon graduation (he graduated a year before me). He had continued to live in Chicago until last year when he moved to Columbus to attend law school.

JM decided that he wanted to spend his 30th birthday with his friends who were still in Chicago, so he made the trip to the Windy City with his wife (who actually made all the arrangements) and all of his college friends were to attend. All of my former roommates were on the list (I lived with five other guys for most of my time there). However, because of my busy schedule and the busy schedules of my former roommates, we hadn't done the best job keeping in touch. I was busy with improv, BW was busy finishing his doctorate and spending time with his wife NW who is a medical intern at one of the U of C hospitals. BS was busy finishing law school and getting ready for his move to Milwaukee to work for a judge up there. PM and his wife were busy doing husband and wife things. Therefore, this little party was going to be a chance for us all to catch up on what has been happening.

I arrived a little late to the gathering, though I wasn't the last one in attendance. I looked around the room and saw BW, BS, RF and his wife, JM and his wife and a few other of JM's friends. Then I noticed NW standing near one of the tables and tought that something looked different about her. She turned sideways and I was able to put my finger on it. She was pregnant. My guess was about eight months pregnant. I was obviously surprised, but said nothing and greeted my friends as nothing was different. I stood talking to BW, BS, and RF for a while and when there was a lull in the conversation, I turned to BW and said:

"So, your wife's pregnant."
Jaws dropped around the circle and the look on BW's face was one of confusion and guilt, "You didn't know?"
"Nope."
"Oh, God. I'm sorry. I thought we told you. You know, you just get to a point where you feel like you've told everyone and then you just assume everyone knows," he said.
"Yeah, I know. That's how it was with my first kid."
This generated some chuckles and BW asked, "Just to be safe, you're kidding, right?"

I confirmed that I was, in fact, kidding and the conversation moved on.

We talked for a while about various shit - mostly music - and began to wonder when dinner would start. Just as people were beginning to move toward their seats, PM and his wife walked in. I noticed immediately that PM's wife was also very, very pregnant. I turned and looked at BS and he asked, "Didn't know about this one, either?"
"Nope."
Laughter erupted. I looked over my other friends standing there and said, "Anyone else have any announcements they should make?"

We then sat down to dinner and had a good laugh about how I had been left out of the baby loop. I ordered a beer and began feeling very out of place sitting at the grown-ups table.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Invasion

For the past two weeks, my apartment has been invaded by guests. Last week it was my roommate's friend from college who came to Chicago for a week to hang out in his old stomping grounds. Normally, he's working on a cruise ship playing saxophone for the guests on board. This week my roommate's sister is occupying the couch.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy both people who have invaded my home for a week, but I would have appreciated some sort of notice before it happened. With my roommate's friend, L, I found out he was coming when my roommate, J, took a phone call and then announced that L's plane would be landing in about two hours. With his sister, M, I found out she was staying with us when she showed up with him at a rehearsal on Sunday night. Thanks for the advance warning.

The discovery went somthing like this:

J and M walk in.
T says, "Oh, your sister was here this weekend?"
J, "Nope. She's staying with us for the week."
Me and T in tandem, "She is?"
J, "Yep."
Me and T in tandem, "Oh."
T then turns to me and says, "Did you know about this?"
I responded, "Nope. Good times."

I understand that the apartment is as much his as it is mine, but I certainly don't think it unreasonable to ask for a little warning before we have a house guest crashing on our couch for the week. If I were to take the same policy, we could have very easily had two unannounced guests show up for the same week and only one couch. That would be a real tragedy - especially because we have hardwood floors.

I've decided to combat this by staying at my apartment as little as possible. I've been spending almost every night at my girlfriend's place. Mostly because she has couches that can be used for sitting on and reading, or watching TV, or making out. My couch is being lived on. Doesn't leave a whole lot of space for sitting, reading, watching TV or making out. Luckily, the week is ending which means that the occupation will be over soon.

Unless he's got someone else lined up for next week.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

An Audience of None

I'm writing this for an audience of none. Maybe someone will stumble upon this while trying to avoid doing the work they are being paid for and start reading. Maybe not. Is generating an audience my goal? Not really. The idea is for me to get into the habit of writing, and if I happen to amuse or interest a few people at the same time, that's great. However, as of this very moment, it's an audience of none. A fresh slate. An untainted world.

Get ready for my taint.