Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Moving Experience

A Moving Experience
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

"Can someone please open the door?"

"Thanks, Sweetie. I appreciate it."

"No, I'm sorry, you can't help me move."

"Because this box is heavy."

"They're all heavy."

"You can't climb into the moving van either."

"Because I don't want to trip over you."

"Because we're trying to get all the boxes out of it."

"Yes, and the furniture."

"Because we're moving into a new house."

"Because we like it."

"No, there's nothing wrong with the old house. We just don't want to live there anymore."

"Because we like this one better."

"Because it's -- no, Buddy, put that down."

"No, you can't help."

"Because it's too heavy."

"Yes it is. Look, you can barely carry it."

"Fine, take it downstairs for me."

"I thought so. Just set it over there, and I'll get it in a minute."

"Can you guys let me go? This box is getting heavy."

"I'll be back in a minute, then I'll see if there's anything you can help me with."

"Where's Mommy?"

"In the what room?"

"Never mind. I'll find her."

"There you are."

"No, I can't take my shoes off. I'm not taking my shoes off every time I come in and out of the house."

"Because I'm in and out every 30 seconds. That just wastes time."

"Fine, then you move boxes, and take your shoes off every time. I'll stay in here and unpack."

"All right then. So, where do you want this?"

"Okay. Oh sh-- I mean, jeez, my back."

"I did not swear."

"No, I almost swore. There's a big difference."

"No, I don't do it in front of the kids."

"I do not."

"That's a load of . . . crap."

"See, I didn't even do it then."

"We're about halfway done with the stuff in the truck, and we still have the big furniture to go. I don't know if I'm going to make it."

"I'll see if I can find the ibuprofen. I'm going to get back out there."

"Hey, Honey, what are you doing out here?"

"Okay, you can help. Just be careful going down the truck ramp. I don't want you falling on a box."

"Because you might break something."

"I'm just kidding. I don't want you to get hurt."

"Wait, where's your brother?"

"GAAH! Don't do that!"

"Stop hiding in the empty boxes, Buddy."

"Because you scared me."

"Yeah, yeah, very funny. I'm halfway to a heart attack already, and that doesn't help things."

"Because I'm carrying all this heavy stuff."

"Yes, Buddy, I know Grandpa is helping too."

"No, he's not having a heart attack."

"No, I'm not having a heart attack either."

"I just like complaining more than he does."

"No, Sweetie, I don't know where Herman is."

"Because I'm not in charge of your animals, you are."

"You were supposed to pack him."

"What do you mean, 'I'm only six?' You've built entire cities with Legos, and now you expect me to believe you can't pack a small stuffed frog?"

"That's what I thought. Check in the box in your room."

"What, Honey?"

"No, I can't plug in the TV."

"Because we don't have the cable turned on yet."

"I don't know where the antenna is."

"We don't even have anything to set the TV on."

"The entertainment center is in the very back of the moving van."

"No, I'm not going to get it out."

"Because I have a lot of other stuff to get out first."

"I don't care if Hannah Montana is on, you're not going to be able to watch it."

"One, because we don't have cable. Two, because we can't pick up Disney channel with the antenna. And three, because the TV is still at the old house."

"Did you just say what I thought you said?"

"That's good. And don't let Mommy hear you say that. Where did you learn that anyway?"

"I do not say that!"

"Well, not in front of you anyway."


"Where's your brother?"

"Oh no, I'm not falling for that again."

"Hmm, let's see. Why don't I take this new box, and . . . spin it around!"

"Uh oh, what's that sound? Something sounds broken."

"Oh, sh-- I mean, crap. I broke one of the wine glasses."


"Buddy, quit doing that!"

"I thought you were in that other box."

"Yeah, yeah, very funny."

"Don't do that ag -- hey, I've got an idea. Get back in the box."

"I'm going to get Mommy. We'll see who swears in front of the kids now."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wait, Don't I Know You?

Wait, Don't I Know You?
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

Last year, after one of my staff left the state government agency where we worked, I received an email from Human Resources, telling me this person had been "separated from employment."

Separated from employment, as if the two had been physically attached. Not quit, left, fired, let go, departed, or moved on to greener pastures. No, this was one of those stupid euphemisms that people use to make things sound less bad than they really are. It was probably thought up by the same morons who came up with "right-sizing" to replace the already moronic "downsizing," which replaced "massive layoffs so our executive team could get their bonuses."

I left my own job a few weeks ago, and I'm sure my boss got an email telling him I was separated from employment. It sounds like a divorce, which in a way, I guess it was.

You spend a large part of your day at work, there's a sense of excitement and newness when you first start, and when you leave, it's usually either something bitter and acrimonious, or you leave because you found someone who treats you better.

I remember when Employment and I first got together. We used to spend hours together, talking, laughing, having fun. We would stay up all night, watching old movies, and falling asleep on the couch together.

Employment and I were inseparable. We spent every waking moment together. And she rewarded me in return, depositing a little gift in my bank account every other week. It was magical.

But we grew apart. The relationship lost its sparkle, and I started spending my free time with my good buddy, Freelance. Employment became more demanding, and less giving. She became resentful and suspicious, and then the questions began: Where was I going? Who was I seeing? Was there another job?

We finally separated last month, and I began seeing another Employment almost immediately. Sure it was fast. Maybe too fast. But I have needs. And bills. We're happy together, and I think this relationship will last a good, long time. We're still enjoying the newness of it all, and I think we'll be able to keep the magic alive.

I'll never forget my last Employment, and all the good times we shared. And sometimes, I'll smile faintly at the memories, and wonder "what if. . . ?" But then I'll remember how much more rewarding my new relationship is.

See, now that's how you get separated. First there's a clean break, and then you start somewhere else. It's not like my old job tricked me into thinking it was a new job.

Not like the Bosnian couple who are getting a divorce after they found they had each been having an online affair.

With each other.

Sana Klaric, and her husband, Adnan, had been unhappily married for several years. One day, while Adnan was at work and Sana was in an Internet café, the two anonymously met in an online chat room under the names "Sweetie" and "Prince of Joy."

The anonymous pair told each other about their marriage troubles, and talked to each other about their lives and how unhappy they were in their own marriages. A real love began to bloom, as each talked about their miserable marriages and shared their true feelings.

Sana, 27, told the Associated Press, "I thought I had found the love of my life. The way this Prince of Joy spoke to me, the things he wrote, the tenderness in every expression was something I had never had in my marriage."

Adnan, 32, was equally shocked. "I still find it hard to believe that Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a nice word to me for years."

The star-crossed pair arranged to meet outside a shop, and each would carry a single rose so they would know the other. That's where it all went horribly, horribly wrong.

"When I saw my husband there with the rose and it dawned on me what had happened I was shattered," said Sana. "I felt so betrayed. I was so angry."

Adnan said, "I was so happy to have found a woman who finally understood me. Then it turned out that I hadn't found anyone new at all."

Now, if this had been the 1979 Rupert Holmes song, "Escape" ("if you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain"), the couple would have laughed and realized that they truly WERE in love.

But, instead Sana and Adnan are angry and hurt, and have filed for a divorce, accusing each other of being unfaithful. Had they been a little more understanding, and looked beyond the hurt, they would have realized the person they fell in love with online was the same person they've been living with. I think they should try to discover the new person inside the one they already know.

Or better yet, have the sense to ask their new love's name before they decide to run out on their spouse.

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

Is there someone special in your life you want to spend every waking moment with? Someone you think about constantly? Someone who gives you butterflies in your stomach? Someone you’re afraid your spouse will find out about?

There’s no need to fear, Ibila is here! Now, if you need to sneak around on your spouse, there’s a company who can help you. The French web-based company provides alibis for cheating spouses to help avoid those nasty questions of “where were you last night?” and “what’s that thing on your neck?”

Ibila, which is “alibi” spelled backward, was started six months ago by Regine Mourizard, a former private investigator and mother of two. She helps people run around on their spouses by creating fake documents and phone calls, and anything else needed to pull the wool over their unsuspecting spouse’s eyes.

You may remember a few months ago, when I wrote about a breakup service created in Germany for the express purpose of breaking up with a spouse or significant other. Bernd Dressler’s Separation Agency would handle the whole messy split with typical Teutonic efficiency.

"We have had dating agencies for 30 years," Dressler told the BBC. "If you want to have a new partnership, then you have to quit your previous one."

I guess it only makes sense that a French private investigator would create the final step before people needed Dressler’s service. Talk about your European cooperation.

“For 20 years, I worked to keep people from doing what they wanted to do,” Mourizard told the Associated Press. “And I then thought, ‘what if I help them do it, in a safe way?’

“If the alibi is well done and the spouse doesn’t suspect anything, this can sometimes save marriages,” she added. “And by save, I mean wreck. And by sometimes, I mean nearly always.”

Mourizard and her computer specialist colleague can create fake restaurant bills, hotel receipts, postcards, seminar brochures, and even wedding invitations. Plans range from 19 Euros ($27) for a simple phone call to 150 Euros ($207) for the works.

One of Ibila’s first clients was a man who wanted to meet his mistress on a tropical island. But he couldn’t hide his infidelity by claiming to go on a fishing trip with the boys. So Ibila whipped up a fake wedding invitation from a distant cousin.

Husband: Honey, I’m going to my cousin’s wedding.

Wife: Can I go?

Husband: Er, no, he doesn’t like you.

Wife: Well, where is it?

Husband: Uh, I don’t know. But it’s not on a tropical island.

But don’t judge Mourizard too harshly. She doesn’t just help adulterers and cheaters. She also helps people who put their own happiness before their children’s.

One client is Michelle, whose two jealous children would throw a fit whenever she wanted to meet her new boyfriend. So for 19 Euros, Mourizard phoned the woman at home and pretended to be someone from work. She asked Michelle to return to the office to help finish a project. The children, unaware they were being lied to, were happy to let Michelle go.

Now that’s parenting. Forget trying to get your children to understand. Forget actually, oh I don’t know, parenting them. Just pay someone to lie for you, and everything will be okay.

While some might complain that Mourizard is enabling betrayal and deceit, you have to admit that she hatched a brilliant plan. After all, how many people could get paid $27 to fake a two minute phone call? Sure you could ask a friend to do it for free, but it’s so much better to spend $13.50 per minute to have a professional do it.

That’s much better than doing what some people have done during a particularly boring meeting. They will grab their Blackberry PDA as if it had buzzed, pretend to read an email, and say, “I’ve got to go. We’ve got a small emergency,” and leave the meeting.

Mourizard does have scruples though. She won’t break the law by providing false identity papers or documents. And she won’t help defraud businesses either. But she will handle the planning and details for her clients’ trysts, including making hotel and travel reservations and buying gifts.

That’s nice. At least she’s not breaking the law.

“We only provide our clients with those elements necessary to help them organize their private lies,” Mourizard told the (London) Guardian.

Unfortunately for you English-speaking cheaters, the Ibila Web site is only available in French ( This may cause problems for some of their non-French customers.

Wife: Where were you last night?

Husband: Uh, I had a dinner meeting with a client. See, here’s the receipt.

Wife: You went to Paris for dinner? What the #^&! are you doing, going all the way to Paris for #*&@ dinner?!

Husband: That’s crazy. I didn’t go to Paris for dinner. I also didn’t go to a tropical island with your sister last week either.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Put Your Left Leg In, Put Your Left Leg Out

Put Your Left Leg In, Put Your Left Leg Out
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

Erik is out of the office today, so we are reprinting a column from 2001.

I've been married for over 14 years now, and we have learned to compromise on hundreds of issues. But there's one area where we seem to have a few difficulties. My wife thinks dancing is fun and enjoyable, and I think it makes me look like a big dork.

I'm not talking about just any old kind of dancing where you shake various body parts to the music, hoping you don't look like a bigger idiot than the other idiots in the room. I'm talking about ballroom dancing, like you see on your local PBS stations when there's nothing else on TV.

For the most part, we've been able to avoid the issue, although we've had occasional conversations about why we don't learn how to dance. Usually when Championship Ballroom Dancing comes on.

My wife: Look how graceful they are. Why don't we ever do that?

Me: I'm more of the big lumbering type. I can't swish my hips like that.

My wife: I mean it. Why don't we ever dance that way?

Me: Because I would look stupid!

My wife: No, you'd pretty good at it.

Me: By "pretty good," you mean "really stupid," right?

My wife: I'm going to call around and see if we can take lessons.

Me: (whimpers slightly)

Happily, nothing ever materialized from these conversations. And with the exception of hiding in the basement anytime Championship Ballroom Dancing came on, I was able to avoid the whole issue entirely.

That is, until Valentine's Day 2001 when I was told that I, the big lumbering doofus, was going to have to dance in public. Not high school dancing that just meant wrapping your arms around your date and moving slowly around in circles.

No, this was dancing with a capital D. The kind with steps, moves, and names that don't include the words "funky" or "chicken."

I was so screwed.

This was a formal ball, which meant I had to wear a tuxedo, My wife was presenting an award, and since I was her husband, I was also expected to attend. And dance. Where people could see me.

My wife assured me that we would do well, and gave me my first dance lesson the night before the ball.

"It's easy, you'll love it" she assured me, pulling out a diagram of a basic swing step.

"Why do I have to learn to swing dance?" I asked.

"Because the theme is swing dancing."

"Why can't the theme be wrapping my arms around my wife and moving slowly around in circles?"

My wife ran through the basic swing step, counting the rhythm and showing me where to put my feet. Then she had me try it.

But my wife has the patience of a saint, and she worked with me, counting and helping me put my feet in the right place (i.e. not on top of her feet).

After 15 minutes, I finally started to get it. After another 10, I could do the dance without counting out loud. And soon thereafter, I could dance without counting in my head either.

"You realize we won't be able to dance that much," I said.

"Why is that?"

"Because if we dance too much, it will look like I only know how to do one dance."

"That's because you only know how to do one dance."

We practiced a few times before the big night finally arrived. As we started to dance to the first swing number, I realized, "Hey, I'm doing it! I'm dancing!" It was a proud moment. I was dancing in a room filled with people who all knew the fine art of ballroom dancing.

Then I looked again. These people weren't dancing at all!

Those cheaters were just shaking their various body parts to the rhythm of the music!

There were only two other couples who actually looked like they knew how to dance. I started to feel a little smug, like I knew something special, and here was my big chance to show it.

You can imagine my big disappointment when the song was over, and the band launched into Kool and the Gang's "Celebrate."

"I can't dance to this," I told my wife. "You never taught me how."

She urged me to stay out there and try, but it was no use. After being stepped on and bumped into by people who looked dorkier than I did, I gave up. My wife just smiled and turned to dance with her sister, who had been similarly ditched by her husband.

It was finally over. Even though I died a thousand deaths before I really did it, I was glad I was actually able to dance in public without any humiliation.

Best of all, I never had to dance the Funky Chicken.