Monday, June 23, 2014

Under Pressure

The stress ball had a smiley face painted on it. While I worked it stared down at me from a shelf. I didn’t even remember it was there until I would reach up for a pen or lean back in my chair to stretch and catch a glimpse of the wide, grinning mouth. It was a benign presence in my life until the morning it started talking to me:

I cut off a guy’s foot once with the wheels of a rickshaw when I lived in Hong Kong.

Have you ever eaten Ritz crackers with dried squid on top? It’s not good but can come in handy when you need quick appetizers for a party.

I’ve never been kayaking. Always wanted to.

Dollar to donuts is a strange expression. All things being equal I’d rather have a bagel and buffalo head nickel.

This world will bleed from its eyes when the acid rain of the gods falls from the sky to burn away the unrighteous and the feral and if you don’t want to be one of the unholy undead then bow down before me in unrepentant supplication

Uh . . . what? I’ll admit when the ball first spoke to me it was a little weird, but since it wasn’t saying anything important, I learned to live with it. One day it recited a great recipe for chicken and sautéed mushrooms in a white wine reduction. Another day it did a complete play-by-play of the previous night’s Phillies game. I tuned it in when I wanted to and out when I needed to. And then it said this one afternoon:

You will be judged not by gods or demons, myths or facts, illusions or reality, but by the lightning strikes that scar the earth

Yeaaaahhh. When I looked at the ball it stared back at me with the same expression it always had. I picked it up, threw it against the wall and the smile stayed. As an experiment I put it away in a drawer but I could still hear it.

Falafel is a funny word. Falafel falafel falafel falafel falafel falafel falafel

I was parasailing once in Cabo and the rope broke. I floated away, smashed into a building and broke like six bones. I spent a year in the hospital, and then sued Jungle Jim’s Ocean o’ Thrills for a nice settlement. Blew the money on Turtlewax, leather shoes and a hooker named Patti. True story.

Is there anything better than reruns of T.J. Hooker? I think not.

The reign of man endeth when the alpha and omega become one to rule this planet with a bloodbath of the unsound, a symphony of wails for the children of dirt and a self-righteous uncoupling of the serpent and the priestess

I was baffled at this point. There were less and less knock-knock jokes and more apocalyptic warnings. But when I looked out my window the Sun was still shining, the Earth was still turning and the rabbits were still eating my portulaca from the garden. I decided to talk back to the ball . . . which turned out to be a mistake as well.

Me: Soooo . . . what’s with all the threats lately?
Stress Ball: Oh, now you want to talk? I’ve only been trying to hold a conversation with you for almost a year.
Me: Well . . .
Stress Ball: I knew you could hear me. You think I didn’t see the looks or hear the laughs when I told a Bruce Jenner joke?
Me: Look . . .
Stress Ball: I know my mile-wide smile is creepy. Yeah, my purpose is for you to squeeze me as hard as you can to relieve your stress, but what about mine? Compressing my foam like that is dangerous. The doctors tell me I may have internal damage but I can’t do anything about it because I don’t have insurance. Obamacare doesn’t cover rubber balls. The inanimate object lobby in Washington isn’t a strong one, it’s hard to get a senator on your side when you try and talk with him but he thinks he’s hearing voices from all the cocaine he’s been smoking and the girl who’s with him doesn’t want to get involved because she’s married to a foreign diplomat and could be deported. The other girl, the one hiding in the bathroom, she’s so paranoid she thinks the voice she hears is coming from her own belly button and she sticks her finger in there to shut it up. She screams in pain which makes the first girl scream and now the senator is naked with pillows over his ears yelling “turn it off, turn it off” right before he leaps into the door and knocks himself out cold. The married girl grabs the rest of the coke and tries to leave only to find her husband at the door berating her in Portuguese and it’s now that the other girl runs from the bathroom with a bloody finger, crying about the millipedes crawling from her navel. Cut to the senator’s body guard who’s been getting oral sex from the front desk clerk and just now realizes things have gone very wrong . . .

I threw the ball out into the street and watched a dog come by and take it. I feel a lot less stress already.

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