Long way to go for a Jug of Milk

September 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m late for everything. I always have been. I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know if one inherits tardiness. I don’t think so. My parents have always been punctual people.

For the most part, it never gets me into trouble, though it’s a quality a handful of employers have found less than endearing. More than anything, it just irritates me.

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I’ve been pretty broke for the last year. I work. But I’m trying to pay off a bunch of stuff. Necessary stuff. But stuff nonetheless. It hampers my lifestyle in some ways. I don’t go out as much. I haven’t been able to go on a trip in a few years. It’s a bummer because I enjoy new experiences. I enjoy doing things I’ve never done before. But I’m always trying to save money to pay off the things. I’m getting close to paying off the largest of the things.

But still. Broke is broke.

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Yesterday, I was bumming around the house trying to work out some new jokes in my head. They were terrible. I ran a few of them by my roommate, Ted. I forgot the punchlines to two of them, and the other one I forgot the set up.

I was getting ready to go to an open mic, and I didn’t have anything new to try out. I was in the midst of talking myself out of going. I talked to Ted for a few more minutes. Mainly about how I needed to go to this open mic even though I didn’t know what I was going to talk about. I hate doing that, but it’s also a skill I should learn. Talking about things when I don’t have anything to talk about. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m trying to lighten up and shit.

Ted talked me into it. I was going to the open mic. I left the house. Drove to the open mic. And got caught in a 9pm traffic jam, which sadly aren’t all that uncommon in Austin these days.

I was late. Again.

Too late to make the open mic sign up. I’d driven for about 25 minutes only to miss it. So I turned around and drove home. I was hungry.

I wanted a bowl of cereal, but I didn’t have any milk. So I stopped off at the store on my way. At the store that’s right across the street from my house. I’d driven roughly 40 minutes to get a jug of milk that was across the street.

Seemed like a big waste.

But when I pulled up to the store, there were a bunch of crickets flying around outside.

Gross.

I went inside, grabbed the damn milk. Waited in line. Paid for the damn milk. The whole time stewing in my head about how I’m late for everything. And how I hate being broke. And how I miss experiencing new things and doing new things.

I walked out of the store toward my car, when out of nowhere something came flying at me.

I flinched pretty hard.

I swung a jug of milk at a cricket.
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Never done that before. A new experience, indeed!

Poor people have to make their own fun.

Chappelle’s Shit Show

I’ve been resisting the urge to write about going to Dave Chappelle’s surprise show in Austin this week. I’ve talked about it with a lot of people, and it’s been covered quite a bit. But I still wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Then I got a message from my younger brother asking about the show. My reply to him turned out to be the closest I’ve gotten to explaining what happened at the show that night.

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Here:

It was pretty bad. It was as much his fault as it was the audience. He set the tone pretty early that he was gonna chat with the audience a bit. A lot of comics do crowd work. But he responded to anything people said, even the dumb shit, and that undid it. It encouraged it a lot. When I left the theater (I went by myself), I walked quietly back to my car and kept thinking to myself, “what was that? did I hate that? am I mad I just wasted $60? or am I glad I got to see that?”

I still don’t know. I think a lot of people, myself included, thought it was gonna be at least the early workings of a new special or something. But it became clear early on that he didn’t have the material. He admitted as much. He yammered, he chain smoked American Spirits, which is no easy thing to do, and he just took it. He never lost control of the audience, he just let them become the show, and unfortunately, that’s not what I paid to see.

It felt oddly masochistic, or like he went too far to prove a point, like he was saying, “this is why I can’t do new stuff, this is why I can’t do what I want to do, this is why I freaked out, because you’re all just obsessed with celebrity, and you don’t care what I have to say, you just want to say you saw me.” And for a large chunk of the audience that was true. And he was right.

But there was another section of the audience that was there to watch him perform. The section who grew up watching him, who’d watched his comedy specials a thousand times, who missed his tv show, but understood why he quit. The section that was secretly hoping they were going to see the makings of a new special, the beginning of some epic reemergence.

And we didn’t get it. Maybe we were wrong for wanting that. Just as wrong as the jerks who screamed at him, who just wanted to see him because he was famous.

But if we were wrong for that, then he was wrong for charging $60 for it. For making that theater move heaven and earth to accommodate him on such short notice, so we could watch him chain smoke and argue with drunk people.

I know it sounds like I’m pissed off about it, but I’m not.

I read an article a few weeks ago about Miles Davis and how difficult he could be. It mentioned one show, in particular, that he showed up really late to, walked onstage, played one note, then walked offstage and left, and people applauded. One of the patrons asked a staff member at the venue why people would applaud that.

He replied, “You don’t pay to watch him play, you pay to watch him think.”

That’s the way I feel about the show. I didn’t pay to watch him play, I paid to watch him think. So in that regard I got my money’s worth.

But watching him think revealed that whatever broke him, broke him good, and that hoping this was the beginning of his redemption tour was foolish.

He doesn’t trust anyone. And that’s fine. He doesn’t owe us anything.

Unless he wants to give me my $60 back. That I would gladly accept.

Euripedes Nuts

It’s almost over. And there’s a lot I’m going to miss about living alone. But it’s time.

This time next week, I’ll be (partially) moved into a new place with my old roommate.

We lived together for almost three years until I abruptly decided to get a place by myself. I needed to figure some things out.

In that time, I started this. I started doing stand up. And I learned how not to freak out when I was by myself.

I had a problem with that before.

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I’ve lived in a lot of apartments. Houses. Duplexes. Dorms. I think I’m on my thirteenth move in ten years.

That’s a lot of moving. I hate moving.

My first apartment was with my friend, Toph. We moved to Fort Worth together in the year 2ooo, along with 6 other friends to go to college.

And we were trouble from the get go.

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Our first apartment was at a place called Copper Creek Apartments. We moved in early August. Some of our friends moved into the same complex a week before. They were our upstairs neighbors.

They’d suggested the place to us. And it had been suggested to them by one of their friends. And so on and so on.

Within a few days, we realized that 24 people out of the 80 in our theatre department all lived at Copper Creek.

Or, as we affectionately called it, Club Copper Creek.

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Our apartment was on the second floor and had a wonderful view of the parking lot. And a giant white wall that looked like it was meant for stopping floods. It clearly wasn’t for show.

Just above the parking lot and the white wall, atop a hill, stood the Oakland Hills Branch of the Fort Worth library. A library I never thought we’d have to use.

But we did.

Once.

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Our first big assignment in our first theatre class at Texas Wesleyan was essentially a book report. We had to pick a play from one of the three major Ancient Greek playwrights: Sophocles, Aeschylus or Euripedes.

It seemed simple enough. We’d just go to the Campus Library, check out one of the books of plays, and we’d do the project.

The only problem was that we were the last ones to go to the Library and all of the play anthologies had been checked out by our classmates.

No big deal, we thought, we stare at a library from our balcony everyday. We’ll just check a book out from there.

Easier said than done.

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We went the Library the following day after school. We only had a week to do the assignment and we’d already lost a day. We found the theatre section of the library. I grabbed the Collected Plays of Aeschylus and Toph grabbed Ten Plays by Euripedes.

The woman working the desk looked irritated.

“Do you have a Library card? she said.

“No, we just moved here last week. Can we get one?” Toph asked.

“Yes, I just need ID from from both of you.”

Like it was a damn liquor store.

We showed her our ID’s. She smiled.

“These ID’s aren’t going to work. You have to have a valid Fort Worth address to check out books from the FORT WORTH public library.”

She was enjoying this. I was starting to get frustrated.

“Like my friend said, ma’am, we just moved here last week. We haven’t had time to change our ID’s yet. We do have mail. An electric bill statement that establishes our residence. Will that suffice?”

She rolled her eyes.

“No, it will not suffice.”

“It’s a word. I used it properly. You work in a library. Seems like you guys would encourage the use of….”

Toph cut me off.

“But, uh, back to the lecture at hand. Listen, we live in those apartments right behind you. If you look out that window, you can see our balcony. If I go back home, stand on my balcony, and wave at you, will that establish residency?”

“I don’t care if you waved at me from the moon, without a valid Ft. Worth address on your ID, you can’t check these books out for free.”

“So we can pay for them? This isn’t a bookstore. It’s a library.” I said.

“You’re right. It is a library,” her tone dripping with sarcasm, “but for non-residents we sell punch cards that allow you to check out 5 books for $15.”

“Fine,” Toph replied. We need the books for class. So we’ll do that.”

We pooled our money and came up with the $15. We handed her the money and our two books.

She handed one of the books back to Toph.

“Also, you can only check out one book on the first visit,” she said.

“And it didn’t occur to you to tell us that first. We’ve been standing here with these two books the entire time.” I replied. I was furious.

“It’s your first visit. Rules are rules.”

Without missing a beat, Toph walked out the front door of the library…and turned right back around and walked back in.

“I’m back. It’s my second visit. Can I get my other book now?”

“It doesn’t work like that,” she said.

It was complete bullshit and we knew it.

“Give us the one book. And we’ll get out of here. This is ridiculous.”

She checked out our book with a big, shit-eatin’ grin on her face.

“Thank you for using the Fort Worth Public Library. See you in two weeks,” she said, as she handed Toph the book.

He laughed.

“You think I’m bringing this back?”

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12 years and counting….

 

It only took 7 years, but…

October 21, 2011 1 comment

Back in 2004, I was working at General Nutrition Center in Highland Park, the rich uppity area of Dallas.

I was selling shit I didn’t know about to people who didn’t give a shit about what I knew.

They bought it. I made money. Everyone won.

Not really.

I had to sit in that awful store for 8 hours at a time by myself. Lots of times I brought a pen and paper. Sometimes a voice recorder. And I would write.

Or talk to myself.

I was trying to write jokes. I wanted to do stand up. So I tried to write jokes. I never did do it. I was too scared.

Most of the jokes were pretty terrible. The note pad’s around here somewhere. Probably in my writing suitcase.

Either way, I sacked it all. Except for one little nugget I remembered.

It was a  joke about a horror movie called Helen Killer.

I started using it when I actually worked up the nerve to do stand up.

It’s not the best joke I’ve written, but one of the fine people at RooftopComedy.com decided they liked it and put it on their website.

Here’s to Publicity. Here’s to sticking with an idea.

Here’s the link, because I’m functionally illiterate on a computer, and have been trying for an hour to get the damn thing to be on here…

Meh.

Helen Killer

Categories: Uncategorized

Peyton Manning thinks I’m an Asshole

Several months ago, I wrote a story about meeting Jerry Jones. In the introduction to that story, I said that one day I was going to write a story about my chance encounter with Peyton Manning.

And I would call it, “Peyton Manning thinks I’m an Asshole.”

Since Peyton’s practically sitting this season out, I figured now was as good a time as any to get his ass back in the News.

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A couple of weeks after I moved to Austin, my friend Joe came home with two cell phones. One was his own, the other was a T-Mobile Sidekick. It had been sitting in the lost and found at his work forever. He had T-Mobile.

So he took it.

Then he found out it wouldn’t turn on. So he left it in the junk drawer at our friend’s house.

I really wanted that phone. I’d had T-Mobile for over 8 years at thay point, and the Sidekick was the best phone they had, in terms of what it could do, not how small it could be. Because it was not small. It was the size of a Graphing Calculator. (Big)

So I hatched a plan to resuscitate it.

I went into the T-Mobile store by my work (taking calls for AT&T) with high hopes and fake story. I told the employee that my phone had died and wouldn’t turn back on, and I was assuming the worst. But I maintained a glimmer of hope that it was merely a faulty charger.

So she let me try one of the chargers they had in the store.

She plugged it in. And it lit up like a Christmas tree.

I purchased the charger for $27.95.

And went home with a brand new toy.

I let it charge for about an hour, and then spent the next two trying to figure out how the hell it worked.

It had all kinds of neat features. Internet. Full Keyboard. Weird Flippy Screen. And a surprisingly terrible camera, considering its bulk.

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In the spring of 2008, mid-NCAA tournament, I sent my buddy Toph a message, razzing him about the ouster of his favorite team, The Tar Heels of North Carolina.

Toph was one of my oldest friends, and one of the few that followed sports with the same fervor as I.

These types of messages were not uncommon.

It started as a series of messages and ended with an idea. One that had been marinating in my brain for awhile.

Here:

For several months, I’d been recording a podcast with my old college roommates called, A Semi-Modest Proposal. We talked about all kinds of shit. Movies. Politics. Weird News.

It was a lot of fun, and a great way to keep up with my old buddies now that I didn’t live in Fort Worth.

But it was their show. I was a guest. A panelist.

I wanted to start my own podcast. And I wanted it to be about sports.

I spoke to a number of my Austin friends about doing the show with me. They humored me, but didn’t seem altogether excited about it.

The text to Toph was an unwitting catalyst.

Of course, why hadn’t I thought of him in the first place?

Within days, Toph was all over it. He’d contacted his best friend, Ray, a web designer and all-around computer badass, who offered to design a website for free.

All we needed was a name.

We came up with The Sports Bizzo.

Bizzo was the name we’d given to the brown, gunky shit that builds up on video game controllers. A combination of dirt and sweat.

Gross.

Within a week, we were live.

The idea had morphed into more of a Sports Blog, with a podcast on the side. We’d write articles during the week and record the podcast on the weekend.

We were in Bizness.

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The NCAA Tournament was quickly followed by the NBA Playoffs. We’d picked a fantastic time to start a Sports Blog. Especially for two die-hard Dallas sports fans. The Mavs were making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. They were falling apart. Josh Howard, especially.

The problem was that all of our entries were about Dallas teams, and we wanted to diversify.

One night, after work, I went with some friends to a bar, The Cedar Door, to catch one of the Mavs’ games. It was a nice April evening that was about to get awesome.

And kind of embarrassing.

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We’d been there for maybe 45 minutes when a hush feel over the Cedar Door patio. A large party walked in and it felt like everyone noticed him at the same time.

Peyton Manning.

He was walking with a few other sharply dressed gentleman. Peyton sat down. The other men followed suit. They formed a chair armada around him. They ordered some beers and chatted, avoiding the stares of us slack-jawed yokels gawking at him.

It was hard not to stare. This was 2008. The height of Peyton’s popularity. He was in every commercial on Sundays.

I sent a message to Toph.

Ever the editor, he snapped into action.

Talk to him, he said. Ask him questions for the blog.

Easier said than done, I replied. His friends were guarding him well.

And I was a little scared.

Peyton stood up and walked over to a friend who had just arrived. They chatted for awhile. He was now unguarded.

My buddy, Joe, stepped up. He took a couple of the questions we’d come up with, walked right up to Peyton, and asked for permission to ask him a couple of questions for the blog.

He very politely obliged. Joe asked him a couple of questions. Then returned to our table.

He said Peyton was super cool. I sent Toph a message again.

Joe got the interview.

And that’s when Toph caught me off-guard.

You have to get a picture, he said. It looks like a bunch of made up bullshit if we don’t get a picture.

So we started looking for opportunities to take his picture. We spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to get his picture. We’d already hassled him once, and we didn’t want to push our luck. So we tried to be sneaky.

Joe meandered around the patio, trying to get a good angle for a picture. Peyton spotted him, and very kindly, but sternly looked at Joe and shook his head, indicating he didn’t want his picture taken.

Joe obliged. He’d already been kind enough to talk to him.

We were going to have to find another way.

We went back to watching the game. A few minutes later, I got up to go the bathroom.

I went about my business, then went to watch my hands. The other toilet flushed, and I felt someone standing behind me as I finish up at the sink.

I turn around to get a paper towel. And there stood Peyton.

I scooted by and dried my hands like my life depended on it. I kept thinking of what to say.

I settled on nothing. We were in the men’s room. Not the best place for chit-chat.

He finished washing his hands as I waited for one more paper towel to come out of the dispenser. It was one of those obnoxious ones that you have to wave your hand in front of a thousand times. The paper towel came out, but before I could reach for it, Peyton reached for it.

He only managed to tear off a small triangle-sized piece of towel. And rather than turn around and face a terribly awkward encounter with me…

He dried his giant football chuckin’ mitts with that piece.

I, on the other hand, was on my fourth paper towel.

I turned and walked out. I felt like a weirdo.

Little did I know, it was only going to get worse.

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Fifteen minutes later, I made a return trip to the bathroom. I’d broken the seal, and that’s a slippery slope for me. Once I break the seal, it’s over. I have to pee constantly.

I came out of the bathroom and looked out the patio door. Peyton was standing just outside of it, leaning on rail, talking to his friend.

Now was my chance to get the picture. I’d simply flip out the screen on my Sidekick, pretend to text as I walked by, and snap a picture.

No harm, no foul.

I had to time it just right. Like I said, the camera was kind of shitty. And it didn’t have a flash on it.

At least, I didn’t think it did.

I walked by, screen up, hit the button, and…

FLASH!

A Flash like a goddamned lightning bolt erupted from my phone.

I never stopped moving. In fact, I sped up. I heard one of Peyton’s buddies say, “Ah, Jeez.”

I was mortified.

Adding insult to injury, it was a terrible photo. Like Top Ten Terrible.  If I gave you ten guesses as to who it was, Peyton’s name wouldn’t’ve been the hundredth guess. The flash washed everything out.

I sent Toph the picture anyway.

What the Fuck am I looking at? he asked.

Peyton Manning, I said.

This might be the worst picture ever taken. Let’s use it anyway, he replied.

So we did. We posted the god awful picture on our damn website.

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We won the battle, but Peyton won the war.

We shut the Bizzo down after a two year run, and the photo disappeared with it. Also, Peyton has hundreds of Millions of Dollars and a Super Bowl Ring.

And we made about $6 a year running the website.

Oh well, at least it makes for a good story.

 

 

This Side of the Curse by F. Scott Fitzgerald Kennedy

I had a really good teacher in Community College. I only had her for one semester. It was a first year English class.

She’d written her Master’s Thesis on some of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works.

So, of course, she had us read The Great Gatsby. I’d read it two years before in high school.

I take that back. We watched the movie. And I can say with absolutely certainty that I slept through it.

I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like it this time around, either. But I was totally wrong.

My high school teacher didn’t give a shit. She showed us the movie.

My college teacher loved Fitzgerald. She made it really interesting.

She knew all sorts of obscure facts about the author, and his process, and his crazy wife.

It made a huge difference. I learned a lot.

She’d go off on a lot of tangents. She once spent fifteen minutes explaining to us that eighty pages of Fitzgerald’s first book, This Side of Paradise, were taken directly from an unpublished novella he’d written called, The Romantic Egotist. This Side of Paradise ended up as a 305 page novel.

Seemed like unnecessary information at the time.

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I’ve been trying to write a bunch of new jokes lately.  I was trying to think of funny things that happened to me. Something that would make for a good story. And I remembered something that happened to me at the Austin City Wide Garage Sale last year. It didn’t make for a good joke, but I like it as a story.

Here it is:

i love going to the city wide garage sale. i just go to haggle. i love the thrill of haggling because im a huge pushover, so if im gonna do it, i like the stakes to be low. about a year ago, i’d just moved into my first apartment by myself and i was looking for shit to hang on the walls. i saw this famous portrait of Robert and John F Kennedy for $15. it was just a print. the frame was nice. but there was something stuck on the inside of the frame…along the gold border to the print. so i asked the lady what it was…she said. its just a piece of paper. i asked her if she would remove the piece of paper. so she popped the back of the frame off…went to remove the “piece of paper” and she discovered what i already knew… it was tape….and that she’d just ripped the gold border.

her face sunk. i said, there’s no way im paying $15 for a damaged portrait. i turned to walk away. she said, but…

i turned around and said…$5…she begrudgingly sold it to me.

i won. i’d haggled and won.

i took the portrait home and opened it up to see if i could cover up the part she tore. i went to pull the back off it…and the piece of glass for the frame sliced my finger open. the top and bottom had been rounded off…but the sides were razor sharp.

as i sat there, nursing my wounds, my first thought was, “this is what you get for trying to rip someone off.” like it was a karma thing. but  then i thought…she was gonna hose me if i didnt hose her…so it couldnt be karma…

i looked down at the portrait and it dawned on me.

it’s that goddamn Kennedy curse.

it knows no bounds.

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Little known fact:

I actually took 25 words from that story directly from a Facebook Status I posted a few minutes after I cut my finger.

I think it got 22 Likes. And some comments.

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What’s that?

Yeah, you’re right. I guess great minds do think alike.

 

The Scrambler, Part 2: The Cafeteria

August 2, 2011 3 comments

As a rule, cafeteria food is terrible. It just is. You suffer through it for years in school. I’ve never understood the draw of places like Furr’s or Luby’s.

It’s terrible food.

But the cafeteria at my college, Dora’s (named after Dora somebody, maybe the Explorer) was the worst. Worse than all the other schools I’d ever been to.

Spoiled Milk.

Questionable Meat.

Spoiled Meat.

Questionable Milk.

It took down the best of us, and at an alarming rate. It really was like Russian Roulette.

We ate there because we’d already paid for it. We didn’t have a choice. It came as a package deal with the dorm room.

And we were too broke to eat elsewhere.

At the start of the Winter 2002 semester, the University announced that Dora’s, or Dirty Dora’s, as we affectionately called it, would be unveiling a new menu.

This is what I wrote in The Scrambler, about the proposed changes, under the pseudonym Harmon Kardon.

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Dora’s unveils new, possibly improved menu

“Hopefully the food won’t suck anymore,” Employees say.

After receiving countless complaints about food quality and temperature, Dora’s Cafeteria has come up with a new and/or improved menu. The new menu items will be unveiled beginning Monday morning. The staff is encouraging students to try some of its delightful new delicacies. Students and teacher alike were rejoicing after the announcement late Friday afternoon.

“It’s about damn time. I’ve been living off of crackers and Ramen noodles for the last two weeks,” Junior Robert Paulsen said.

When asked why he hadn’t eaten in the cafeteria for the last two weeks, he gave this reply, “…because it made me sick, dude. I felt like I was constipated and had diarrhea at the same time. Have you ever dry heaved out of your butt, man? It’s no fun, I can tell you that much.”

In an attempt to boost its image on campus, the Dora’s staff decided to invite the socially elite Scrambler staff to a preview dinner. The menu for the eight course meal read as follows:

1st course- Pickled Dog Collars

2nd course- Roasted Beaver

3rd course-Regurgitated Squirrel Droppings

4th course- Lion Fur Burgers

5th course– Grilled Horse (my personal favorite)

6th course- Deviled Ass (Donkey)

7th course- Urine Stew (it’s not just a clever name)

8th course- Pepto Bismol

After I got out of the hospital, I managed to interview a fellow staff member, Alan Crabdoodle, who was unaffected by the meal. Let it be known, however, that he did live in Turkey for five years, so his stomach was used to such torture.

“I loved the Deviled Ass. I just couldn’t get enough of that Ass. Oh and the fur burgers, they were exquisite. Who’d’ve thought lion fur could be so darned tasty?” he said.

His advice to the rest of the student body, “Get there early, before they run out of Pepto. You’ll need it.”

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The following year, they hired a new company to do the “catering”.  They lured us in with an everyday omelette bar. Then they moved it to once a week. Then I graduated and didn’t give a shit about omelette bars.

I’m not saying The Scrambler had anything to do with affecting the change, but kinda I am.

You’re welcome.

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