Friday, January 15 2021

anti-jokes, snacking, and the generational heartbreak machine

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Dear Journal,

An old lady visits a busy shopping mall to buy her grandson a birthday present. After circling the parking lot for an hour, she finally finds a spot and walks inside. She buys her grandson a new pair of shoes, then stays to eat dinner in the food court. After finishing her meal, she wanders out into the parking lot to find her car. She walks up and down the still crowded lot to no avail.

The woman flags down a mall security guard. "I can't find my car," she says to him.

"No problem, mam," replies the security guard. "I'd be happy to drive you around the parking lot until we find it." So she jumps into the security squad car, and together they begin to wind through the long rows of cars.

An hour passes, and the woman still hasn't identified her car. "I tell you what, mam," says the security guard. "The mall will be closing soon. People will leave and it should be easier to find your car."

"That's a long time to wait," says the woman. "Do you think we could get some icecream?"

The security guard agrees. He buys her an icecream cone from the food court, and together they wait another half hour. The street lights come on. Slowly, people trickle out of the mall, get into their cars, and leave. The security guard takes one more pass with her around the entire parking lot, but still no luck.

"I'm a little thirsty," says the woman. "Do you think you could buy me a coke?" The security guard buys her a coke at the food court and they continue to wait.

"OK," he sighs. "The mall closes in a half hour. Everyone will have to leave, so your car should be even easier to identify."

They wait. With five minutes before the mall closes, only two cars remain. There's a lime green minivan with a canoe strapped to the roof, and on the other side of the parking lot there is a beige sedan. Sitting in the squad car, the two watch the final mall visitor make their way across the parking lot, climb into the beige sedan, and leave.

"Oh right!" says the woman. "My car had a canoe on top. Must have forgot."

That was the first "anti-joke" I heard. You know, jokes where the punchline is so stupid that you can't help but laugh. We're only, what, week number two into joke Fridays and I'm already resorting to anti-jokes? I realized that when you exclude dirty jokes we used to tell each other in little league baseball and political jokes that are so old that they don't make sense anymore, I don't have a lot of material to draw from. Maybe it's high time to pick up a joke book, or at the very least buy a bag of Laffy Taffy's.

Sip. Happy Friday, readers. Thanks for joining me on this chilly, drizzly day. The weather can do whatever it would like today, for all the sunshine I need is radiating out of my heart knowing that the weekend is nigh. Nothing left to do but a team restrospective, a risky software rollout to our staging environment, and maybe some loose ends in slack here or there. A long weekend, at that. We have good 'ol MLK to thank for that.

So how are the New Year's resolutions coming along? I guess by now you've learned whether or not you really want to stick with them. I'm still on track with mine - not to say I haven't shaved some of them down to be simpler.

I'm still dieting, but I can't count calories anymore. It's just too tedious. Entering every meal and snack into my phone was a lot more feasible when I ate things with barcodes. Bachelor Alex had no problem scanning a breakfast bar in the morning, a package of ramen for lunch, and a frozen pizza for dinner. But how are you supposed to add pork with mushroom and cream sauce? Pan-fried honey garlic shrimp? A sfincione? At a certain point, tracking all these calories started to take longer than it did to actually eat them. In that way, counting calories feels anti-cooking.

So I stopped logging breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I stopped logging workouts to. All that was left was the snacks. It became clear to me that with my body it really just comes down to the snacks. The things I take to the couch at night. The things I munch on while I'm cleaning out the fridge. The things I shovel in my mouth on the way to bed. And so my new radical weight loss program was born - the stop snacking so much method. No more taking handfuls of goldfish crackers on the way up the stairs. No more oatmeal cookies out of the freezer when I make trips to the kitchen. No more breaking into tomorrow's leftovers while I wait for the dogs to come back in the house.

It's a difficult habit to break. Between my constant need to chew on things, my strong compulsion to eat food before it gets thrown away, and my love of pairing exciting with evening drinks, I feel like I was hard wired to snack. I'll always be a snacker, but I can learn to keep it under control. Friday and Saturday are for snacking. During the week, I'm as straight as an arrow.

Speaking of food, last night was crunchwrap supreme night. Ground beef, refried beans, shredded sharp cheddar, tomatoes, sour cream, and cabbage all packed around a crunchy tostada and wrapped soft white tortilla to form a little polygon of goodness. We've had so many "warm plate" meals this week, it was a nice change of pace to just toss a couple of tinfoil disks on the table and go to town. While I made extras for lunch, Marissa hung out in the kitchen with me to enjoy a podcast about the Bears. The hosts were really fired up about the disastrous press conference held by the team's leadership. Their message could be boiled down to "this season wasn't good enough, but we're not changing anything."

"Just wait," I said. "They're going to play the voicemails next."

Hoge and Jahns encourage fans to leave voicemails with them during or after games and big announcements. Fans are also encouraged to use the thickest Chicago accent they have at their disposal."

"It's kind of therapeutic," laughed Marissa. "Like - I'm mad, but it feels good that other people are mad too."

Of my favorite zingers was "The Chicago Bears are a generational heartbreak machine." As always it was followed up with a quick "bear down" before the phone hung up.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Send me your jokes! If you'd like your joke featured on the next Friday journal, please send an email to with the word "joke" in the subject line.