🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Playoff Disappointment ⚾
Oh, Britney 📲
Friendship Failure 😔
In the span of just more than 24 hours, I went from the excited expectation of being in Busch Stadium to watch the hometown St. Louis Cardinals eliminate the Philadelphia Phillies and advance to the next round of the playoffs to watching those Phillies celebrate their 2-0 sweep of the Redbirds in a blob of billion-dollar humanity between the pitcher’s mound and third base.
When Tommy Edman popped out in foul territory off third base to end the game on a chilly early fall night, it seemed like such an unfitting end to the local baseball season. We’d watched in this part of Missourah with growing excitement as the Cardinals overcame early-season malaise to overtake the Brewers for the Central Division lead, been captivated by Albert Pujols finding the fountain of youth and marching through the 700 home run barrier and expected a deeper run in Major League Baseball’s newly reformatted playoffs than we ultimately were given.
In one off-balance swing that sent the ball skyward toward the third-base stands and a Phillies defender sprinting toward it, the season was over, as were the careers of three St. Louis stalwarts — Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. There is some consolation in the fact that the first two singled in their last Cardinal at-bats, but not much to be found in an ending so not made for Hollywood.
In that ending, Edman pops a three-run home run and the Cardinals walk it off in Game 2, then win the deciding Game 3 today, perhaps on a Pujols homer or surprise Waino relief appearance. Sure, not many Cardinals fans expected a World Series title out of this team — there’s too little hitting and the young players have been far too disappointing — but to go from up by two runs with one out in the ninth of Game 1 to eliminated just more than 24 hours later isn’t how the Baseball Gods are supposed to orchestrate things.
Yet here we are … the morning after, tired after a long day, a long night, a long walk back to the car among grumbly fans, a long drive home dissecting exactly what went wrong and a short night of sleep.
My first playoff baseball game in my too-long life was a lot of fun. It was the ending that was wrong.
Well, at least my Yankees are there to keep baseball going for me. Game 1 is tomorrow for them against the IndiansErrGuardians.
So there I was, typing the words of this fabulous missive that hardly anyone reads and that fewer people care about, when all of a sudden a huge majority of my monitor goes dark. Not black, mind you. Dark. Dim. Like your average sorority girl. What remains bright is this one area in the middle, such that it appeared my monitor was trying to spotlight a particularly great sentence I wrote.
Except, as we’ve established, none of my sentences are truly great, as not many people — family, friend or stranger — read the crap that flows out of my fingers.
Fast-forward through all the resetting and unplugging and re-plugging to the part where I talk with customer service about this monitor that I bought four months ago and has done nothing except normal monitor-y duty since then. After being shuttled from one person (Kishon) to a new person and repeating the same story, Britney (because of course) told me that the best she could do is a 20% discount on a new monitor. But not just any new monitor. A new version of the same monitor.
When I told her that 20% was 80% short of acceptable and that I most definitely would not be using my 100% refund on the same monitor, she told me the highest she could go was 25%.
I’m not sure where Britney is located. I’m imagining it’s el mercado in Mexico. When in Mexico, I love haggling over prices. It’s fun. When sitting at my computer desk in Missourah, Muricah, I’m not inclined to debate my refund — especially with someone named Britney.
“Wait. I thought the highest you could go was 20%. If you could go to 25%, why would you try to manipulate me into accepting lower instead of, ya know, doing the right thing?”
Please know this: I am normally very calm and accepting of customer service people and what they are faced with daily. Today, apparently, isn’t normal.
Eventually, Britney realized that the highest she could go was not 25%, that the highest she could actually go was 100% and that I could use that refund to get whatever damn monitor I wanted.
I’m glad Britney and I could come to that understanding.
I’m pretty sure there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. Of course, this isn’t necessarily how I see myself. I see myself as a nice guy with a big heart who has gone way above and beyond for the friends he’s had during his lifetime. I see myself as smart, creative, funny, loyal and capable. Kind. Compassionate. Empathetic. Thoughtful. And that’s all really wonderful. There was a time not all that long ago when I wouldn’t have had even one kind word for myself.
That said, the wider world seems to see me as fundamentally flawed. I say that because there isn’t one person outside the walls of my Humble Country Home who would call me their friend. Well, maybe they would say, “Yeah, I’m John’s friend,” but when it comes to actually making time to be a friend? To doing life together? That’s a different matter altogether. When it comes to doing that, well, there’s work and life and kids and sporting events and blah blah blah, which, the last time I checked, I have, too, but am certainly able to make time for the people I care about. Trust me. I’ve done it in the past.
So after my latest string of disappointments in “putting yourself out there” and “keeping your head up and making yourself available,” I’m really wondering what exactly is wrong with me. What’s the vibe I’m sending that says, “Yeah, I’d rather not take a few hours of PTO and go watch a baseball game at a sports bar and drink beer that the nice guy is offering to buy the first round of”? What’s the problem with me that the best anyone can give is, “Yeah, we should definitely do something together” or “I really want to come out and visit”?
Is it just me or do other “good people” deal with this kind of bullshit? And if you, when would you just give up, say “Fuck you” to everyone around you and go off into the wilderness to live out the rest of whatever days God forces your heart to continue to beat?
At least there will be a record of my search for friendships and the oh-so-exciting days of my life on the interwebs for no one to read.
I remember well the late night and early morning hours following my senior prom. I was with my classmates on a yacht/ferry/boat slowly circling New York City. I and my girlfriend of roughly a year had stepped out of the madness inside for some fresh air and quiet. Even then, I could only do “loud”…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Got nothin’.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨👦👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕Shinedown 🎸Sleepy 😴 The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…Keep reading