Thursday, April 28, 2011

Entry 140: It's All Fun And Games Until A Meerkat Steals Your Mojo

There comes a time in a man's life where he stands atop his kingdom, surveys the victories he has wrought, and smiles in smug self-satisfaction.  Confident in his role as Chief Shenanigator, he sleeps each night in comfort knowing that he, and only he, is master of all domains.  No one tells jokes as funny as he does, no one gets the girls like he does, no one drinks like he does- he's the King Winner in every sense.  Believing himself to be the sole haver of Adonis DNA, he inevitably lets his guard down and misses the new up-and-comer gunning for his spot as top dog.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happened to me recently.  Let this tale serve as a warning to ye of the Tiger's blood.

It was a Friday night and I was going to see LJ perform in a stage production of Happy Days.  I left work early in order to pre-game at a local bar, since the only way my ADD will agree to two hours of singing and dancing is if I bribe it with alcohol.  I struck that bargain for a few hours and then headed to the show where I was meeting LJ's brothers/sisters/wives/girlfriends/guy-friends-who-are-totally-not-boyfriends.  Apparently her brother, Lampy, was bringing his girlfriend and a new friend of his, Oswalt The Meerkat.  Oswalt was visiting from England and had been staying with Lampy at school in Minnesota.  Supposedly he was quite the party-meerkat, but whatevs.  I'm me. 

I showed up, four Guinness deep, to the theater ready to enjoy the bucket of Bud Lights I had waiting for me at our table.  But wait- what the hell?  Someone drank them already?  What. The. Fuck.

I had to wait minutes (minutes!) for our waitress to bring me out a fresh bucket.  But again, whatevs.  He'll learn to recognize.  Besides, I think someone must have told them I'm in the audience because they're about to announce me to everybody.  God I hate it when they do this!  Sigh... being famous can have its drawbacks...

Stage Manager: "Thank you all for coming tonight!  We have a few special birthdays to announce tonight... and congratulations to Ethyl and Gene who are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary!  Way to go, way to go.  And finally, we would like to recognize someone very special in the audience tonight..."

I start to rise from my seat.  Gosh this is embarrassing sometimes!

Stage Manager: "...all the way from England..."

What?  I'm not from England?

Stage Manager: "Oswalt Meerkat!  Where are you, Oswalt?"

I sat down sheepishly as hundreds of heads turned to look towards our table.  Oswalt jumped up, spilling his beer on me, and shouted:

Oswalt: "'Ello!  'Ere I am!  Right here!  'Ello everbody!"

What?  Yeah, they see you. You're special.  Now sit down.


Slightly sullen but undeterred, I guzzled beers and told jokes with Lampy during the show.  Everyone decided afterwards to have a mass celebration at a local bar, and I perked up at the chance to show everyone that I was hilarious and Oswalt was a cheap one-hit wonder.  Little did I know that things were about to go from bad to worse.

We rolled into the bar and I ordered a beer.  Which was promptly stolen.

Dick move, Meerkat.  You know, Caleb, you do that to people all the time!  And you always think it's pretty funny.  Shut up.  That's different.  I'm *me*.  Can't you see?  Eee-ee-eee!! *starts singing "you are so beautiful," stops, refocuses*  Anyway.  The point is, wait- is he telling my joke?  That's MY fucking joke!

"So right, there's these 3 Polish guys sittin around.  One of em says 'ey, I got an idea, let's play 20 questions.  I write something down on a slip a paper and you twos 'ave to guess it.  'Okay,' they says.  So the bloke writes down 'Donkey Dick' on some paper and slips it in 'is pocket.  The first guy says "Right-o, is it something you can eat?" And the guy thinks about it and says, "well, I guess... technically... you *could* eat it, I suppose," and the other Polish guy yells out "It's Donkey Dick, idn't it!"

Oh yeah.  He's fucking hilarious.  Telling MY goddamn jokes.  You know what?  I'm not even going to let this bother me.  Maybe I'll go find that brunette gal at the bar and impress her with my comedic wit.

You're kidding me.

Whatever.   I'll just step out for a smoke, get away from this chump for a minute, and collect myself.  Just because he's telling my jokes and stealing my beer does NOT mean that he's somehow the new Mr. Cool.  I just need to get my confidence back, regroup, and, --- you've got to be kidding me.  Her?


Fuck!  I've seen that girl slay would-be-dudes like a level 87 half-barbarian warrior cutting through dungeon rats with a +7 broadsword!  And he gets her in under a minute?  Caleb, your D&D nerd reference isn't helping your case. Fuck off!  That's not the point.  *I'm* the only one who can woo girls that fast! Damnit! Caleb, you're already here with the prettiest girl.  Who cares if Oswalt can charm girls as fast as you?  You've already won this fight! Seriously, inside-my-head voice, you just don't get it, do you?

By this time Oswalt had realized that he was getting to me, and -smelling weakness- tried to move in for the kill.  LJ, who hadn't fallen for his shit, tried to council reason.  She knew the consequences of a full-blown Caleb tantrum.

Caleb, aren't you *always* the one who thinks it's funny to torture other people and make them snap for your amusement? Voice!  Shut! Up! GOD!  Your "reason" is un-appreciated!


You know what?  I'm just going to march in there, grab that stupid meerkat by his dumb meerkat throat, and-  No.  Fucking NO.

It's kind of hard to score points in this game...

Do you know how long it takes to set a record on these games?  And he just strolls in from London, yells a few "cheerios" -whatever the fuck that is- and beats my record?  Bullshit!  No.  NO.  You know what? You know what??


I'm gonna rip his


His head... off... what?  Ella?  Is that you?

Yes, indeed it was.  My cat was apparently sending me psychic messages.  As my anger gave way to amazement, I saw a vision of my cat, Ella, swimming in my head.

Ella?  Are you really talking to me?  Or are you a manifestation of the reasonable voice I hear in my head?

What do you think, dipshit?  

Okay then, it's you.  Fine.  But why appear as my cat in a wig?  You know what, never mind.  What do you want?  I have some meerkat to kill!

Before you do, remember what the bible said: "When you stab me with your sword, you're really stabbing yourself and shit."

That's what she said!!  *goes for a high five*  Nothing? No? *awkwardly puts hand down*

Okay, so you're saying that maybe... I'm Oswalt and Oswalt is me?

::Smiles knowingly::

You're gay, reasonable voice.  That's totes lame.

Really?  Going there?  I hope you haven't forgotten *this*:

Oh my God- are you serious?  That was a Halloween costume!  And besides, that was years ago. Lots of people wore pink shirts with kittens, moons, and stars.  Whatever.  You're crazy.

Crazy, am I?  *I'm* crazy?  

That's what I said, isn't it?  Me equals sane, you equals crazy.  That simple enough for you?

Oh, I get it.  You're saying *every* sane person acts for hours like they're an old, blind, blues guitar player named Blind Melon?

I had a woman, you know she don't treat me good.  You know, I had a woman, and she don't treat me good.  You know that don't bother me no more, ever since I can't get wood... ba dom dom dom dooba doh dom... 

Blind Melon?  He's awesome!  Soulful yet edgy- like Justin Bieber if he had a mohawk.  Or like Neil Diamond on drugs, except they're fake drugs, but he doesn't know that.  And he's riding a camel.

Right.  Back to you not being crazy...

Fine.  I see your point, I guess.  Are you trying to say that Oswalt is some sort of younger me, prone to the same mishaps and learning experiences that I went through?

Exactly.  While it seems like he's stealing your moves, he's really just flattering you by trying to emulate the master. 

Interesting.  My ego likes that.  So if that's true, he's going to experience the inevitable consequences of his actions like I did?

Please.  Like you ever-

Okay then! Voice over.  Lalala! *plugs ears* I'm just going with my theory and assuming that Oswalt will crash and burn any minute.  Now where is that meerkat...

Yeah, I guess he is a bit like a younger me.  Always out trying to drink more than he can really handle.  Uh oh... switching to mixed drinks.  Better be careful, buddy!

Where's your hat, douche?

This is about where Oswalt started to get too cocky.  It's one thing to flirt with girls, and another to flirt with girls whose boyfriends are way bigger than you and right nearby.  But oh no- you go ahead, Mr. Cocky.

Yeah, keep going buddy.  Cause her boyfriend isn't right OVER THERE!

Yeah, like that stops girls!  Pshaw!  I shook my head as Oswalt moved in for the kill, thinking he was in the clear.  Unfortunately her boyfriend had a friend watching the whole thing.  Fine, reasonable voice, you may be right.  This is definitely reminiscent of my youth.

As her boyfriend rushed over, I thought I was going to see a meerkat-beatdown.  But in the final moment his friends jumped in and saved Oswalt's ass.

He pointed in case there was some confusion as to *which* meerkat it had been. 

See there, reasonable voice?  *I* would have gotten pounded, but Oswalt somehow manages to escape!

What? Wha- why are you wearing my Xbox headset this time?  I swear, if you chew through my cable-


What.. oh.  Uh oh!

And then it was on.  Cue music!

[Ahem.  Please play the video before watching the following fight scenes.  Warning: some of these images might be too graphic for younger readers.] [[Also, if this video gums up yer interweb, click this link to open the background music in a different window!]]

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting....

 And Oswalt leads off with a sweeping roundhouse to the face!

Those cats were fast as lightning...

Counter-punch, right to the kisser!  Anyone caught in the melee was fair game.  Bottles were being smashed, chairs thrown- it was kung fu chaos!

It was a little bit frightening...

Aww snap!  Arm twist by Oswalt!  Who even uses that move anymore?  Apparently Oswalt wasn't above fighting dirty...

They fought with expert timing...

Meerkat bite to the tongue!  *That's* gotta hurt!  As the fight reached its climax, Oswalt finally stepped over the line.

Apparently that was the last straw, as Andrew delivered the knockout blow moments later. 

Um... wait.  I got it.  It was... Andrew the angry boyfriend, in the bar, with a beer pitcher?  Ding ding ding! Whadda we have for her, Johnny?

While I certainly enjoyed watching Oswalt getting his ass beat, part of me felt bad for him.  True, he was full of the P&V like I was in my younger days, but I never really got my ass whooped.  Oswalt finally came to, but by then he was in even worse trouble...

That's right.  Rock Island's finest had heard about all the funky chinamen in funky chinatown and had arrived to cart everyone off.  Everyone.  We pleaded our case that it was all Oswalt's fault, but since everyone had gotten involved they couldn't sort everything out at the bar.  They wanted to take everyone to jail- even Funky Billy Chin and Little Sammy Chung!  I realized that my wish for Oswalt to receive his comeuppance had backfired and now everyone would pay the price.  Wasn't there something I could do to set this straight?

News team, assemble...

What's that?  Worms?

News team, ASSEMBLE!

Why are you quoting Anchorman?  Do we have to go back to the you're crazy refere-


Wait... wait...  I remember!  My mom always told me that in case of a severe emergency I should use my Egyptian mummy super powers to call in reinforcements... Okay... breath... remember your training... who can I get to help...

Jason Fechner...

The Channel 8 news guy?  

He reads the news... His voice could make a kitten purr... his suits make Sinatra look like a Hobo... call him, Caleb... Call him!  The arsonist has oddly shaped feet!!

I chanted the words, over and over, waiting for Jason to appear.   I began to doubt if it was going to work at all, and wondered if I should have called the super-hottie Cassie Heiter instead.  Sure she does weather, but come on: check her out!   Before I could reconsider, Jason appeared in a flash of light.  He waved his microphone at everyone in the room and yelled "No-jailious Petronus!"

It worked!  The cops started dancing, Jason read some breaking news, and Oswalt apologized to everyone involved.  More importantly- I was the hero for saving the day!  Well, Jason got most of the credit, but still.

Look!  I made him a nametag!  Suck that, 3rd grade teacher who said I lacked creativity!

Oswalt was pretty cool after all that, and even offered to buy me a beer.  Unfortunately he couldn't remember his PIN for the machine and promised to hit me back next time if I spotted him a few bucks that night.  I'm sure he's good for it,  I mean he-

Really Caleb?  You're going to ignore the fact that he pulled a classic Caleb "get a free beer while still seeming like the good guy" on you?  You know what?  Maybe you *have* lost your-

Annnnnnd... stop.  Sorry, reasonable-voice.  I've reached my daily capacity for listening to your nonsense.  You may save me from a scrap now and again, but for the most part you're anti-winning.  And we can't have that.

While this particular night ended well, I certainly learned a lesson about keeping my edge.  Sure, I defended my top spot against a dapper meerkat with Egyptian newscaster-summoning powers this time, but maybe next time I won't be so lucky.

Maybe next time it'll be a wasp.

And I'll be hungover...

Caleb "Yay I did some MO without injuring myself!" Shreves

PS Find "The Blog Experiment" on Facebook!  I added a page because, well, that's just what the kids are doing these days.

PPS And, if you want further Oswalt stories, he's on Facebook now!  Look for Oswalt Mkat [apparently a person with the last name "Meerkat" is sufficiently strange enough for them to need to approve it...I guess Facebook doesn't follow Name Of The Year!]


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Entry 138: The Key Is To Establish Your Dominance From The Beginning

As I make my final decisions about law school and prepare for a new collegiate adventure this fall, I've been reflecting on how my initial experience at UNI went, all those years ago.  What precedents did I establish?  What was exciting and beneficial, and what would I do differently now?

In my mind, the key is in setting a low bar.  You have to establish that your actions will be unpredictable, illogical, often contradictory and sometimes even borderline dangerous.  While keeping up this type of behavior over the long run will likely leave you dead and/or friendless, it certainly allows for a certain type of freedom over the course of your studies.  No one will question the occasional craziness of a person if that person has already established themselves as "that guy."

Accepting my premise as true (a habit you should be in by now), how best could one establish this sort of behavioral precedent?  As I reflected on my auspicious entrance to the University of Northern Iowa, I realized that I was going to hard-pressed to outdo myself at a new college.  But still, what lessons did I learn?  Other than "gravity."

I enrolled at UNI as a trumpet major, wanting to play high notes, jazz music, and maybe some polka music for side money.  For reasons as obscure as they are preposterous, the school required that *all* music majors enroll in the Panther Marching Band (hereafter PMB) for 2 years.  I had some fun times in marching band, and met a lot of great people, but I didn't like having my arm twisted to join something involuntarily.  Kind of like school lunch when it was sloppy joe day.  Rather than complain at the time, I made a list of the possible pros/cons of being in marching band:

So I didn't whine and I tried to make the best of things.  I worked hard at making sure I was involved and making friends.  To this end I happily participated in events outside of practice.

And I made sure to try my best to make new friends.

Before school even started, PMB required 6 hour-a-day rehearsals for an entire week.  While this sucked donkey dick, the cool part was that each night was usual capped by giant house parties hosted by the tuba players. If you didn't know this, tuba players are renowned for their massive drinking abilities, inexhaustible party energy, and inability to hold "actual jobs."  It was during one of these parties during the first week that I made my "that guy" move. 

I can't launch the story without first telling you some background information. I had arranged for my dorm roommate to be a friend of mine from my hometown, the awesome Grandma Beasley.  Ahh, Beasley.  It's hard to not go ADD and just tell you some awesome Beasley stories, but I'll hold off for now.  Our room was unique in that it was on the top floor of Noehren hall, which was interesting because the ceilings were approximately 47 feet high.  Since no standard loft would fit in these rooms, and I'm lazy, Beasley took it on himself one day to buy some lumber and "build" our loft over lunch.  Sure, it didn't have "support" and it wasn't "safe," but at least it was there.  And, before you get ahead of me, in the entire year of creaking and bowing in the middle, the loft never actually broke.  I recently found a copy of the building plan Beasley used:

One night there was going to be an awesome party at a tuba player's house.  I decided I was going to walk there with my friend, Bronco, because she was bringing her best high school friend along with her, a young lass named Mo.  This was one of the first instances of me falsely being labeled as an "instigator" and "bad influence."

Bronco: "Shreves, I swear to God, if you sneak Mo alcohol or get her in any trouble, I'll fucking cut your balls off.  She's young and innocent and I don't want you corrupting her.  You hear me?"

Me: "Relax!  First, I've never been a corrupter or forced someone to have fun against their will.  Second, most likely I'll be too hammered to carry out a complex plan of secret manipulation.  Tell you what- I won't even talk to her."

Bronco: "Why doesn't that make me feel better?  I'll be watching you, Shreves."

Little did Bronco know, Mo was already on her way to being a queen partier.  To this day, she's badass awesome and tons of fun.  So of course she got hammered (puking) drunk that night, and despite my innocence I'm pretty sure I still got blamed.  

While the parties each night up to this had been pretty epic, it was at this particular party that I enacted what I call the "Caleb emergency drunk contingency."  Since, in an effort to peacock, I accepted any and all drinking challenges (always a danger with band kids), I was pretty drunk late in the night.  What I call "up to the line." 

As I dipped my toe over the drunk line, I received some sort of drinking challenge.  I don't remember what exactly, but I think it was a "who can drink this bottle of jager?" challenge.  Knowing I had to accept, and knowing the consequences, I asked Bronco to help with Drunk Caleb.

Me: "Bronco.  I'm a half-beer away from incoherent, incapable drunk.  And I'm about to drink most or all of this bottle of booze.  Afterwards, I won't remember my name.  Could you help me find my way back to the dorm?"

Bronco: "Sigh.  Do you really think this is a good idea?"

Me: "Agreed then."

And I did.  And I was.  At this point I have to fast forward to an undetermined time later because I was too hammered to remember anything.  My mind came back about halfway through the walk back, and I decided to start establishing further dominance.  So, I marked my territory by peeing on the buildings on campus.

This was nearly 10 years ago, and I still argue with Bronco on which building it was I peed on.  She claims it was the music building, while I (rightly) say it was the business building.  Her agrument that I was drunk and obviously don't know what I'm talking about is strong.  However, I have a memory like a hawk (and a keen sense of metaphor) and I specifically remember peeing on the business building.  Plus, it was on the way and the music building was not. 

Also, I'm sure in my inebriated state I would have found it hilarious to do my "business" on the business building.  Probably the strongest argument of all. 

Regardless, when I got back to my dorm I realized that I had a problem.  If you'll refer back to my loft drawing, you'll see that something is missing.  Besides girls.  There was no ladder or way to get up onto the thing.  I saw that Beasley had shoved his desk near the window so he could triple-jump his way up, and I thought the same idea would work for me.  Picture me, drunk, leaping off a desk to grab the edge of my 12 foot loft, with Bronco pushing from the bottom of my feet.  Yeah, "that guy." Somehow I made it up, fell asleep, and everything was fine. 


I awoke to the feeling of being shot by artillery fire in the hip.  Confused and hungover (read: still drunk), I looked around and found myself on the floor.  Moments went by as I realized that I had tumbled out of my loft, hit the corner of my desk with my hip, and lay possibly paralyzed on the floor.  Hearing the commotion, Beasley looked down groggily and asked "are you all right?"  I didn't answer.  He assumed this meant I was fine and went back to sleep. 


First of all, I was late for rehearsal already.  Second, I was pretty sure my hip was broke.  Third, the penalty for missing a rehearsal was a date with Hugh Grant so I knew that I couldn't just skip and be hungover/dead all day.  I had to go and at least explain that I was going to the doctor instead.

So I trudged my drunken, disheveled, alcohol-reeking ass the half mile to the stadium where rehearsal had already started.  I had to tell the director that I was going to the doctor for an X-ray, but dreaded the thought of all 200 PMB members watching me limp down the stairs with my hair all fucked up to tell the director that I had an "accident."  To be frank, it was so traumatizing that I blocked the memory from my mind, and only remember going to the student health center an hour later. 

Yes, this was embarrassing and I still haven't lived it down.  But let's look at the positives:  I showed my drinking prowess, willingness to party, pain tolerance, get-out-of-shit abilities, and had funny stories to tell right out of the gate.  My name was now famous in the PMB, and my loft-falling has become a thing of legend.  And this was all before school even started! 

So know I'm left to consider how I can accomplish these same objectives at a new school.  I'm older now, and wiser, so maybe there's a way I can do it that doesn't cause massive pain.  Maybe.  Either way, establishing early dominance is the #1 thing on my school to-do list.  Hopefully I can do it without having to shamefully limp down a flight of stadium stairs to the knowing looks of 200 college kids.  

Caleb "No, my hip wasn't broke" Shreves