Friday, May 12, 2017

I Got A Manicure And Now My Hands Are Beautiful

My hands have never been more beautiful than they are at this very moment. Here, let me show you.

Have you ever seen anything so furry and adorable?

For the record, I don't often take pictures of my hands. This might have been the third or fourth time in my 36-plus years. Only on special occasions.

Here's a Shane tidbit for you: I'd never had a manicure before today. Not once. I'd always trimmed my fingernails myself. I'm kind of good at it, too. I'm steady, I'm precise. My hands are in capable hands when I have a nail clipper in my hands.

But there's a nail salon in my neighborhood that was advertising a special on men's manicures this afternoon. I saw the sign outside the entrance, and my nails were in need of a cut, and, well, something came over me. I thought, Do I really want to live life never knowing what it's like to get a manicure?

I went into it with no expectations. I didn't know what the nail salon would do to my hands, or what they would look like afterward. I actually Googled the phrase "What happens during a manicure" to find out what would happen during my manicure. (I tend to use Google a lot.)

I felt much more relaxed once I sat in the chair and the manicurist welcomed me with a warm smile. "Put your hand in mine," she said. A woman eager to hold my hand during our first meeting? That had never, ever happened to me before. We were off to a promising start.

I watched as she expertly clipped and filed my fingernails for 10 minutes or so. I assumed the manicure would end there. I would have been content if it had ended there; my nails were shorter and smoother. I was satisfied. What else could I want?

The answer: More! So much more. She asked if I'd like for her to apply gel to my nails, and a polish, too. And would I be interested in a warm cream massage?

I reacted in the same way Michael Scott reacted when he realized he could have sweet glaze, cinnamon sugar, chocolate, white chocolate, fudge, M&Ms, caramel dip, mint chip, chocolate chip, marshmallows, nuts, toffee nuts, coconut, peanut butter drizzle, Oreos, sprinkles, cotton candy bits, AND powdered sugar on his pretzel on Pretzel Day.

"Is there any way you can do all ... all of them?" I asked.

"The works, you got it!" the manicurist replied. (Or something to that effect.)

Sadly, I cannot supplement this reference to a classic "Office" scene with a video or GIF, because I cannot find one. So instead, please enjoy these GIFs of two more of my favorite pretzel-related sitcom moments.


via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Anyway, the end result was what you see in the photo at the top of this post. What happens during a manicure? Something very beautiful.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Why You Shouldn't Use Your Cellphone In The Waiting Room Of A Hospital

I'm not proud to admit this, but I used my cellphone in the hospital waiting room this week.

A minor infraction? Perhaps. A sign by the reception desk made it very clear that cellphone use was not permitted in the facility. It had a picture of a phone with a red line through it. It left very little room for interpretation.

Yet there were several patients fiddling with their phones in their seats as they waited for their names to be called. I even saw one man tapping away on a laptop, loudly and with intensity. It was not at all discreet. 

As tempting as it was to follow their lead, I was determined to resist the urge to pull out my iPhone. A rule is a rule, and I wanted to respect the wishes of the hospital staff.

After I took my seat, I sat quietly, with my hands folded in my lap. I was such a well-behaved patient.

Five minutes later, my phone was in my hand. Again, I'm not proud of it, but let me assure you (and the hospital) I had a very good reason for breaking the rule and using my phone. It wasn't to check email, text friends or scroll through Facebook posts.

It was to find out how to wear a hospital gown.

This was right after a nurse had called my name, handed me a gown and asked me to put it on. Simple enough, right? I wish. I didn't know what to do. I'd never worn a hospital gown before.

I could wear it with the opening in the front, I thought to myself. It's how I'd worn my dress shirts, my jackets, my bathrobes...basically, every piece of clothing I'd ever worn in my life.

However, I was reasonably sure that that was not the proper way to wear a hospital gown, that it should actually be worn with the opening in the back. That's how I remembered it from a photo in an article I once read, or a scene in a movie I once rented, or something like that. Maybe this was covered in an episode of "ER"? Why didn't I watch that show more often? It was on for 15 seasons. I had no excuse. 

So that's why I used my phone, to Google instructions on how to wear a hospital gown. I needed answers, and fast.

The first results page told me everything I needed to know about the popularity of the hospital gown. One of the top links: a news article on the "hated hospital gown." Further down the page: another story on the "dreaded hospital gown."

Oh, good. I wasn't the only one who hated and dreaded it.

I clicked on a message board for a pregnancy website that answered my question. As I suspected, a hospital gown is worn with the opening in the back (according to those who responded to a post on the subject, anyway). So that's how I put it on. I was grateful for the site's input, as well as for its great tips on how to decorate my next baby shower.

Feeling much better about the whole situation, I left the waiting room, changed into the gown and began to walk down the hallway to meet with the doctor. I had on my gown, the opening was in the back, I hadn't messed things up, and I was pulling off the look, to boot.

And then I saw another patient in the hallway wearing his hospital gown with the opening in the front.

Hmm. Maybe I did mess things up? I started to second-guess myself. What do I do, I wondered. Do I ignore what I just saw? Do I reverse the gown? Who do I trust? The strangers on an online message board, or a stranger in the hallway?

I chose to trust the stranger in the hallway, and adjusted my gown in private so that the opening was in the front.

I have no idea if I made the right decision. I didn't get any feedback one way or the other from the nurse or doctor. I guess it wasn't such a big deal. It was just a hospital gown. Who cares how you wear it? Seems insignificant. As long as you're comfortable, that's what ought to matter. In retrospect, I shouldn't have let a handful of people on the internet influence how I wore my hospital gown.

Lesson learned. This is why you shouldn't use your cellphone in the waiting room of a hospital.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tiny Bits of Nonsense: February/March 2017

Here is the February/March 2017 edition of "Tiny Bits of Nonsense," featuring 10 of my tweets for those months:
Other bits of nonsense:  January 2017 | November/December 2016 | October 2016 | September 2016 | August 2016 | Olympics Edition | June/July 2016 | May 2016 | April 2016 | March 2016 | February 2016 | January 2016 | December 2015 | New Year's Edition | November 2015 | October 2015 | Halloween Edition | September 2015 | August 2015 | July 2015 | June 2015 | May 2015 | "Back to the Future" Edition | April 2015 | March 2015 | February 2015 | Valentine's Day Edition | January 2015 | December 2014 | Holiday Season Edition | November 2014 | Thanksgiving Edition | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014 | May 2014 | April 2014 | March 2014

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Most Awkward Award Show Moment I've Seen

Much like the other viewers of the Oscars telecast on Sunday night, I was in complete shock when the wrong winner was announced for best picture and the producers of La La Land accepted an award that, as it turned out, didn't belong to them. It was incredibly uncomfortable to watch. I cringed. I'm cringing as I replay the scene in my head while writing this post, four days later.

It was not, however, the most awkward award show moment I've seen. There was a more embarrassing mix-up back in 1993, during a ceremony at a middle school in New York. I remember it like it was yesterday, because I was the one who made the mistake.

It was a Thursday night in May, and my schoolmates and I assembled in the auditorium to honor the top academic performances. I couldn't name you one nominee from that year. I couldn't even tell you if I was a nominee. There were no ballots, to the best of my knowledge. 

We were all told to show up, so we did. It was as simple as that. If Woody Allen had been my classmate, he would have been forced to participate or else face suspension.

Here are some other ways in which this award ceremony in no way resembled the Oscars:

* The attendees were dressed in their finest flannel tees.
* Every single attendee brought at least one parent as his or her date.
* It opened with a monologue by a principal, not a comedian.
* Winners were presented not with statues, but rather with certificates. Or maybe with #2 pencils. Or vouchers for one complimentary serving of tater tots in the cafeteria. Something along those lines. 
* There were no after-parties. Though, to be fair, my family did take me to a nearby Carvel for a Flying Saucer.

Here's one way in which this award ceremony did resemble the Oscars:

* It went on for way too long.

By 9:30, I was nodding off. I couldn't help it. I was tired. I was bored. I'd lost interest. It just didn't seem very likely that I'd win anything. 

And then...."Shane!" Followed by a round of applause. Did I hear right? Had my name been announced? It sure sounded like it, but I was half-asleep. I sought confirmation.

"Did they just call my name?" I asked my friends sitting next to me. "Yes!" they answered with enthusiasm. A little too much enthusiasm. A suspicious amount of enthusiasm. My gut told me that they weren't telling the truth, that they were hoping I'd make a fool of myself by walking onto the stage.

Unfortunately, my brain told me, "You idiot, there's a chance you may have won something for once in your life! Get up there and find out!"

I listened to my brain, like the idiot that I am. I stood up, marched down the aisle, got on that stage, approached the presenter and asked him, "Did you call my name?"

"No."

"Oh."

I turned around, got off that stage, marched up the aisle, and sat down in my seat. My friends laughed. Other audience members laughed. A lot more laughter than there was for the monologue, that's for sure.

I can sympathize with what the La La Land producers went through last Sunday. But at least they heard their name called before they took the stage. I never had my name called, and I still took the stage.

That was the most awkward award show moment I've seen.

You know what was really weird about it? The category I thought I'd won? The actual winner was Moonlight.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Strange New World Of Apples

"Can you stop by the farmers' market and pick up some apples, please?" my wife asked me this morning.

"Of course. Not a problem," I replied. Not a problem at all. I've bought hundreds and hundreds of apples over the years. I know how to pick a good apple. This was a very simple request.

Or so I thought. Turns out, it was not simple. It was quite challenging, in fact.

The problem: I typically don't buy my apples at the farmers' market. I buy them at the supermarket. And I never select loose apples from a bin. Rather, I select pre-packaged apples. I still inspect them for brown spots and whatnot, but otherwise I feel comfortable with bagged fruit. It's more convenient, and I trust that what the supermarket is selling me is fresh.

The supermarkets I frequent only carry a small variety of apples: Gala, Honeycrisp, McIntosh...the kinds of apples we're all familiar with and consume regularly.

Well, a whole other world of apples exists at the farmers' market. A world I didn't know existed. This was a personal discovery akin to astronomers recently uncovering seven planets orbiting the TRAPPIST-1 star. For me, it was the same stunned reaction: Wait, more apples are out there?

Much like the planets, little is known about these new apples. Or, to be more accurate, I knew little about these new apples. Yes, there were signs explaining each variety, but I couldn't get past the names.

Jonagold? Idared? Idaknow what those are.

Confused.

I see there's a Winesap apple...AND a Stayman's Winesap apple?


More confused.

Newtown Pippin? Really? Is it an apple or a Broadway musical?

Officially confused.

(Apologies for the off-center photos. As I've written before, photographing food sold by local vendors makes me nervous.)

Having never heard of, let alone sampled, most of these apples before, I had two options: 1) Frantically Google each variety of apple and see what others had to say about it, or 2) stick with the varieties I know, which is what I ended up doing.

Even that was a struggle. There were no pre-packaged apples at this farmers' market. It was a brave new world, indeed. Life is different over there. I inspected some Galas and bagged them myself, then forked over the cash and left without learning the difference between a Winesap and a Stayman's Winesap.

I took the experience as a strong signal that I should continue to buy pre-packaged apples — less-mysterious apples — at the supermarket. There's no chance of finding a bag of Newtown Pippins at the supermarket. That's the kind of world I want to live in.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tiny Bits of Nonsense: January 2017

Here is the January 2017 edition of "Tiny Bits of Nonsense," featuring 10 of my tweets for the month:
Other bits of nonsense:  November/December 2016 | October 2016 | September 2016 | August 2016 | Olympics Edition | June/July 2016 | May 2016 | April 2016 | March 2016 | February 2016 | January 2016 | December 2015 | New Year's Edition | November 2015 | October 2015 | Halloween Edition | September 2015 | August 2015 | July 2015 | June 2015 | May 2015 | "Back to the Future" Edition | April 2015 | March 2015 | February 2015 | Valentine's Day Edition | January 2015 | December 2014 | Holiday Season Edition | November 2014 | Thanksgiving Edition | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014 | May 2014 | April 2014 | March 2014

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No Thank You For Your Donation

Weeks later, I remain grateful that a charity accepted my donation of generic-brand toilet paper. It really was the worst toilet paper I've ever used. I can't stress that enough. My quality of life improved dramatically once it was out of my life.

I've made other donations to other organizations since then, none as urgent as that one was, but donations that were also necessary. I recently moved, and to make the transition as easy on myself as I could I decided to part with some stuff I'd owned for a long time and had outlived its usefulness to me.

A couple of the items weren't popular with the local charities. How any non-profit could turn down my used VHS copy of Jerry Maguire is beyond me. Cuba Gooding, Jr. won an Oscar for that movie. You're telling me that not one person in New York City would want to relive his performance as it was intended to be watched, on a VCR? Highly doubtful.

This tape can cost up to $2.99 on eBay, and I was giving it away for free.
How can anyone reject such an amazing offer?

Or how about my copy of Street Fighter II for the PC? Arguably the greatest fighting game of all time. And anyone can play it. All you need is a CD-ROM, six megabytes of hard drive space and DOS 3.3 or higher.

I had an especially difficult time finding an organization willing to take my TV. It was one of those tube sets that are wide and heavy. Having carried that TV around my old apartment, I can say I know exactly how the athletes in the World's Strongest Man events must feel when they're competing. You should've seen my facial expression. It was not unlike the expression I made when I was using the generic-brand toilet paper.

I should've hired him to take away my TV.

I eventually found a thrift shop that accepted these items. I was relieved, partly because it was one less thing to worry about before the move, and partly because I still feel a little dejected from this one time when I offered to make a generous donation to charity and was turned down.

Years ago, I published a book titled Shaneanigans. It's no longer available in print, so, fortunately for you, you won't find any cheap plugs for it here. (Though if you are interested, you can read this post about Scantron tests and doctor visits, which is loosely adapted from a chapter in the book.)

My intention was to donate the proceeds from the sales of Shaneanigans to charity. I'd poured years of effort into the book, and I wanted to see something positive come of it, beyond the personal satisfaction I'd feel as a newly published author. Why couldn't it entertain readers and raise money for a worthy cause? That was my goal. That is what I wanted to happen.

There was one small problem I did not foresee: the non-profit I contacted wanted nothing to do with me. I reached out to a charity that I've long supported to gauge its interest in my idea. All I asked was that I be able to openly advertise to readers that all profits from the sales of Shaneanigans would go directly to the organization.

I followed its instructions to submit a formal marketing plan and eagerly awaited a response. Days later, I received an answer: No.

Let me say that the representative who emailed me was very nice about it, explaining that my book did not fit the organization's strategy. Which made perfect sense: I was just a blogger sharing my weird life experiences. What about that says "charity"?

Still, I was caught off-guard. Here I was, offering to raise money and seeking no assistance in return, aside from the use of the non-profit's name and perhaps its logo. And that was strictly forbidden, under threat of legal action. Legal action! If being charitable with my book meant the possibility of being sued, I wanted no part of it.

I heard the organization's message loud and clear: Yes, we could really use money to help those in need and make the world a better place...but we're not that desperate.

Still, the experience obviously hasn't deterred me from being a giving person. While I haven't made a financial donation to charity since then, I am more than happy to hand over the rest of my VHS collection to any thrift shop.

(I'm just kidding. I've made plenty of financial donations to charity since then. But I really do have VHS tapes that are available.)

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.