Raking: A Deadly and Strenuous Chore

A rotting leafYou’ve heard the old saying: if you, a fisherman, give a man a fish, you’ll feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you’ll go out of business.  But I bet you haven’t heard the equally profound: give a teen a rake, and then run away (fast); teach a teen to rake, and he’ll run away and become a fisherman.

It’s no secret that teens hate chores, or that teens will use violence to get out of chores (although rake scrapes can look like cat scratches, if you get my drift).  And when it comes to chores, raking is one of the worst.

If you’ve ever done any raking, you know just how bad it can be.  The backbreaking effort, the disgusting rotting leaves, the paper bags, and of course, the slugs, politicians, accountants, and other slimy things that cling to the leaves themselves.

The Rake

The rake itself, your main tool, is not, NOT, a murder weapon.  I have this on good authority from the creators of the game Clue, who insist that a rope or candlestick is more deadly.

That means your rake really only has one use, and that is: to mess with your mind.  I mean, looking at the rake’s end, you can see it has more holes than prongs; how could this possibly work?  Apparently, according to the scientific law of chores, which states that any tool associated with a chore will never break when you need it to, it does.

The Leaves

Even before you start raking, you can see that this won’t be an easy task. There are dead leaves that cover the entire lawn, assuming you used the theory of “wait ’till they all fall down and then just rake once.”

Your lawn is practically an official graveyard for leaves.  It looks like the leaves had a civil war, or that there was a small nuclear explosion. This is quite depressing, especially considering that your favorite show is on in forty minutes (“Blues Clues,” for those curious).

Furthermore, each leaf has been on your lawn for many days, slowly rotting away.  Each leaf is at a different stage of its decomposition cycle, but all the leaves have dangerous looking mold on them that almost resembles Newt Gingrich’s hair.  In fact, some of the mold growths are so big that they look like they are turning into Newt Gingrich himself.

The Raking

So you finally start to rake.  One of the first things you notice is that some leaves get stuck on the rake prongs themselves.  Eventually, this gets so bad that you need to get another rake to get those leaves off (you wouldn’t want to touch those white, fuzzy leaves, even if you had a hazmat suit on OVER a scuba diving suit that was on OVER an iron-man costume).

This means, believe it or not, that you are now raking the rake. And if your first rake was big enough, you might even have to rake the leaves that get stuck on the second rake off, meaning you will be raking the rake used for raking the rake.

The Piles

The general theory of raking is to rake leaves into piles and then put those leaves into bags, unless you are into modern art, in which case you can put a little sign in front of each pile of rotting leaves with a title and suggested price.

You will begin to realize, though, that raking leaves into piles, especially large amounts of leaves, is quite difficult.  You either have to reach over the piles, thus straining your back (and I’m sure this leads to cancer) or rake behind/next to yourself, thus straining your back (I checked Web MD, and the symptoms of a back strain also correspond to heart attack, cancer of the broken nail, and sprained ankle that is rotting).

So, for those who innovate, you will end up with a circle of leaves with you in the center.  For those adults with rational minds, you could just step out, but look at it from the teen perspective: you’ve just spent ten backbreaking minutes raking disgusting leaves, you’re sweaty, and you’ve seen countless ENORMOUS bugs scurry away from your rake (not to mention you spent too much of your childhood watching horror movies); you’ve now got a 6-inch high pile of raked leaves surrounding you.  If you dare step over it, who knows what kind of poisonous centipede will jump between your sock and pant’s hem.

The solution is to turn the rake upside down and pole vault out of your circle of doom.

The Bags

Once all the leaves are in piles (which, if you look closely, appear to be breathing slightly), you need to put the leaves into bags.  But how shall you do this without touching the leaves?

There are two ways, both time-tested and perfected.

One way is to try and scoop the leaves up and put them in the bag using any tools you have on hand.  You can use the rake, a shovel, or even a sledgehammer, so long as you DON’T TOUCH THE LEAVES.  Personally, I’d go with the Caterpillar (you know, the giant metal tractor with a scoop).

The other way to get leaves into the bag uses explosions.  You need to lay some bags around your lawn, wide open, and then toss some dynamite onto the leaf piles. Theoretically, if you detonate an explosion under the leaves, they will shoot up and then fall back down into the bags you have set out.  (In practice, of course, you end up setting your lawn on fire, the leaves mutate into some sort of blob-monster, the fire department, police department, and national guard show up, and you get to be on your local news).

While the horrors of raking are enough to cause a nervous breakdown even in the FBI director himself, it is important to keep it in perspective.  Assuming you don’t come into contact with the leaves, raking will only impact your life for one day every year (although psychological scars don’t fade with time as easily as physical wounds).  However, if you touch the leaves, then see a doctor and ask them if quarantine/amputation is right for you.

If there are Teens…then there are No Thanksgiving Leftovers

An Empty FridgeAccording the national society of statistics that I just made up on the spot (NSSTIJMUOTS), 90% of American households with teens in them have 0 Thanksgiving leftovers.

I know what you’re thinking: “              .” You’re not thinking anything, because you are a teen (that’s why I am about to tell you what you should be thinking).  You should be thinking (brains ready?): “How is it that most American houses have no leftovers? Most Turkeys are 9+ lbs!”

Well, the answer is simple: you forgot the part about “teens” being in those households.  For those of you who don’t know, TEEN stands for Tirelessly and Effortlessly Eats until Nothing remains (or TAEEUNR in the long form, pronounced “teen-ager.” The ‘N’ is silent).

But even so, only teen boys truly have a stomach large enough for the entire Turkey.  What about teen girls?

To answer that, I’ve illustrated a few possible thanksgiving scenes:

The Small Family Gathering Teen Example:

Chef (probably the mother, or grandmother, or aunt, or, if it is New Hampshire, a presidential candidate): Come to the table! The dinner is served!

Chef’s husband/wife/spouse/chandelier (from herein referred to as Parent 2): That looks delicious.  Thanks for making such a nice dinner.  What do you say, teen son/daughter/animal/robot?

Teen: Oarshgt outowetu! [Stuffing face]

Parent 2: Be polite! Where are your manners?

Cousin of Teen (also a teen): Probably left them inadadslhf aswwerfshshsresg! [Started stuffing face]

Father of Cousin: Johnny! Don’t be so rude. I apologize for my son’s rudeness.

Mother of Cousin: Yes, I apologize. He usually finishes his insults before he starts stuffing his face-I taught him too. [Proud smile]

Chandelier: I apologize too.

Parent 2: Did our chandelier just talk?

Teen: Woeroiush agoierwshb.  Shwme thwyerme thhbnv vmlk.  Qwyplnb? [Still stuffing face]

Chef: My work of art! [Turkey is half gone]

Cousin: Swrury.  Ytwasdfwas gooeh, thowghe. [Still stuffing face]

[5 minutes later: meal is gone.  Result: no leftovers.]

The High-Income (Read: Filthy Rich) Example:

Professional Chef: The Thanksgiving feast is served! Bon Appétit!

Chef’s employer/teen’s parent/CEO of some company: Wonderful.  It looks good.

CEO’s wife: It’s exquisite! I can almost envision such a tasty turkey alive…with all those seasonings, stuffed with the gourmet garlic-rosemary stuffing…[Chef rolls eyes]

Teen son of CEO: [Hey! Writer! That’s my job! *smack*! Punches writer] [Rolls eyes also]

Teen: I’m gonna start eating.

CEO’s wife: Anything you want, son.

CEO: Sure, son. I am going to pause and be thankful that I get $5,000,000 a year for having nice hair and a deep commanding voice. [Short pause] Let’s eat. [Minor start as he sees that the turkey is half gone, already eaten by son]

CEO’s wife: It’s fine, honey, we can always afford to buy our neighbor’s dinner if we run out.

CEO: You’re right about that. [Laughs

[Teen finishes entire turkey.  CEO orders another from his chef.  Teen eats that one also.  CEO walks across to his neighbor’s kitchen and buys his turkey for $10,000.  Teen eats that one too.  There are no leftovers.  Teen eats professional chef.]

The Large Family Gathering Teen Example:

Chefs (Grandmas, aunts, moms, etc.)  [in unison]: Dinner’s ready!

[Small stampede of dads, grandpas, kids, and most importantly, teens.  One dad falls through the floorboards in his rush]

Male host: Let’s just pause a moment and go around to each of the 86 members of the Grabowski family we have here and ask for what everyone is thankful for.  I’ll start: I am thankful that flight Delta-344, the one coming from New York carrying another 97 members of our family that were planning on coming tonight, was only delayed for three decades in O’Hare, and not for a whole century.

Female host: And I’m thankful that O’Hare has a Starbucks.  [Nods to person on left]

Aunt, or cousin, or somehow related: I am thankful for this enormous meal, and that Marge managed to drive all 34 18-lb turkeys from the store to the kitchen in only two trips, before the snow started. [Nods to her left]

Teen nephew: Iamthankfulforfood.  [Dives into nearest turkey and swallows it whole.]

Teen cousin, across the table: Hey, no fair starting yet! [Grabs two turkeys and swallows them whole.]

Female host: Now hold on, we can work this ou-

Teen sibling, at southeast end of table: Leave some for me! [Grabs turkey and gnaws away].

Teen (turned 13 two days ago): Wait up! [Grabs a smaller turkey, but chokes.  Starts coughing].

Teen sitting next to choking teen: Hey, he’s choking!

Teen 3 seats down: More turkey for us! [Starts eating]

Teen who brought up the choking issue: [Silence, already eating].

[All other teens start eating.  Choking kid slips under table, where he is saved from choking by the family dog, who sits on his back amiably. Parents try to control havoc and receive potatoes in the face in return.  They run from room.  6 minutes later: no Thanksgiving leftovers.]

So, in recap: scene 1=no leftovers, scene 2=no leftovers, and scene 3=no leftovers.  Also, there were no talking light fixtures in scenes two or three (for those filling out the advanced stat sheet).

Note to readers: I am going to remove the Google Followers gadget, as it appears to no longer be working and Google is discontinuing the service.  If you want to receive updates from this blog, you can subscribe in a reader or by e-mail (top right box).

Also, I just thought I’d mention that in honor of black Friday, our free ebook is extra free (in fact, it’s a whole 40% off), meaning that you can now get it free of charge here (not that you couldn’t anyways, but it just isn’t black Friday without black Friday sales).

Our Thanksgiving Traditions Come From Teens

A teenage pilgrimThanksgiving will soon be upon us. You know what that means-it’s time to run around like a chicken with its head cut off.  Or rather, chase a turkey while trying to cut off its head.

But do you know why we celebrate Thanksgiving? What’s the reason we gobble down turkey, stuff ourselves with stuffing, bury (‘berry’) ourselves in cranberry sauce, and potato-a ourselves with mashed potatoes*?

*I’ll admit the last phrase was a bit forced, but I had to be consistent.  What, you’ve never potato-a-ed before? You’re missing out. (It means to throw a potato at someone’s head with the sole intent of giving them a black eye.  And yes, I just made that up-I needed a word to explain to my parents why I got detention at lunch today).

Well, I don’t know either.  However, I can tell you that teens played a vital role in establishing our current traditions.

The Turkey

Apparently, the pilgrims decided to have a meal one day.  So, like all pilgrim meal-preparations, the dirty work was passed down as a ‘chore’ to the teens at the time (but don’t feel too sorry for them.  You need to remember that these were bowl-cut wearing, goody-two-buckle-shoes teens.  Also, they had not yet devolved to the point where they had no brains, as the internet would not be invented until 1832, so the task was not too difficult).

Because the teens had to get dinner, they naturally chose the easiest catch: a fat bird that couldn’t fly.  Of course, there were those exceptionally stupid who thought that going after something impressive, like a dinosaur (I’m pretty sure dinosaurs were still around at the time of the first thanksgiving, but if they weren’t, then just insert “woolly mammoth” instead-I know for sure that they were still around), but after the first few violent encounters the teens realized that turkeys were definitely the best bet.

The Stuffing

After catching the Turkey, the teenagers of the pilgrims realized that the turkey looked a lot smaller with it’s head and feathers off. Thus, they shoved various grasses, wheat, small fruits, flour, and an iPhone 1 (yes, it was that long ago, back when the iPhone 1 was the newest model) inside to make the turkey look more substantial. It is this kind of work ethic that lead to the ‘shove-it-under-the-bed’ method of cleaning.

The pilgrim parents were quite impressed with the meal that the teens had returned with, so they praised the teens by saying “Squanto!” (Which was pilgrim-slang for “right on!”). This got confusing when it turned out that one of the Native Americans nearby was also named Squanto, and I forget what part he played in this, other than the fact that my brain wants to associate him with corn.

When the parents asked for the delicious turkey recipe, the teens replied, “Oh, you know, we just put some, uh…stuff-yeah, stuff-inside,” which is why we call it stuffing.

The Cranberries

Teens, being pranksters, thought it would be funny to make it appear as if the turkey was still bleeding when it was served, so a few of them crushed some cranberries (as there was no ketchup) and made fake blood.  This backfired when everyone realized that this actually tasted good, and the prank was no longer funny.

The Mashed Potatoes

As you probably know, it is impossible to have a peaceful meal if both teens and adults are eating at the same table. This was the case at the first thanksgiving.

Halfway through the meal, one parent suggested that one of the gorging teens, “cometh up for air every now and then-eth,” and another teen snickered.  This caused the first teen to threateningly wield a potato.  Next the parent said, “Thou shalt not-eth throw-eth thy potato-eth or thou shalt be fed-eth to the bobcats-eth as a peace-eth offering.” So the teen, being a good listener, nailed the parent with a potato, leading to a massive food fight in which the potatoes became mashed.

The Pumpkin Pies

This one ties back to teen laziness.  You see, the teens had also been asked to prepare dessert.  Nearby, there were some leftover rotting pumpkins from Halloween (a holiday established in 1326, I believe).  Naturally, then, the teens scooped out the remaining pumpkin guts and wrapped it in bread.  They passed the fuzzy white mold/fungus off as ‘whipped-eth cream.’

Until you read this, I’ll bet you had no idea teens played such a vital part in the making of the first Thanksgiving.  They had a vital part in religious holidays, too, but I’m not going there.  So, I’ll leave you with this: if you share this post, then “Squanto!” for you.

3 Humor Blogger Interviews About High School That You Need to Read

A picture of a mic(If you are here from the Bloggess, welcome! When you finish the interview, you might check out our Post Hall of Fame for other great reads.)

I (Phil) have brought you a surprise (unless you can read my mind, in which case please tell me what color I am currently thinking of): a set of three concise interviews with other humor bloggers about humor and high school.  (But not humor in high school, as we all know high school is very serious, almost as serious as who wins the Superbowl).

The interviewees are Jenny Lawson from the TheBloggess.com, Amy Vansant from KidFreeLiving.com, and Bryan Allain from BryanAllain.com.  All three are hilarious writers, although sometimes some of their posts are rated higher than PG-13 (in fact, rumor has it that Jenny has published a post rated as high as PG-17½).

1). Can you describe yourself in exactly 27 letters? (If not, why not?)

Jenny: Irreverent misfit.  Bad at math.

Amy: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUÜVWXYZ (some assembly required)*

Bryan: I love laughing, mostly at myself.

2). What were you like in high school?

Jenny: Quiet.  Sort of gothy.  I hid in the art room and read most of the time.

Amy: Insecure and yet sure I was right about absolutely everything.

Bryan: I was puny and really quiet. Not popular or but not unpopular either. Just a quiet little kid who got decent grades, hated homework, and got detention every week in Senior Physics for harassing the teacher.

3). How many humor bloggers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Jenny: Is this a word problem?  Because I already told you I was bad at math.

Amy: Considering one won’t do it unless there is at least HOPE that a few people will praise them for it afterwards, I’d say minimum 5.

Bryan: I’m gonna say 4,815,162,342. And really, there’s nothing funny about how much I miss LOST.

4). If you see a teen driver, you…

Jenny: Feel very old.

Amy: When you’re 14, 25 year-old people look 40. When you’re 40, teens look like they are 10. So, I’m usually wondering how that 10 year old got behind the wheel of a car.

Bryan: Cry because I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since I was a teenager.

5). What was your favorite day of high school?

Jenny: I had an art teacher who understood the importance of being different. One day she made us all go outside and fly paper airplanes for an hour because she felt like it was necessary.  It was.  The principal disagreed. She didn’t back down.  It was awesome.

Amy: Probably when a cute Junior asked me (freshman) out on a date. His mother took us to his soccer game, he immediately broke his wrist and we spent the next two hours in the hospital. Next day, his Senior girlfriend took him back and I never talked to him again. Good times! Then I wrote a book where the evil queen character’s name was an anagram of that Senior girl’s name. Just calling her “Whore Queen” seemed too obvious.

Bryan: The last day of school of course. My second favorite day was the first day of school because everyone wore their best outfit. I’ll never forget some kid named Steven walking into school on the first day of Junior year with a Cal Ripken T-shirt that had Ripken spelled “Ripkin”. It bothered me so much that he would choose that shirt for the first day of school that I still haven’t forgotten about it 15 years later.

6). Do you have any advice for teens in high school today?

Jenny: Enjoy it if you can, but if you hate it just remember that you don’t have to stay anywhere forever.  I can’t even remember the names of the people I
was so terrified of in High School.  Eventually you’ll find your tribe. They’re out there.  Promise.

Amy: The people you think are cooler than you are really just the same as you. Only better looking, richer, smarter and/or more talented. Nothing you can do about it. Genetics are a b****. Get over it and be you.

Bryan: Life is a gift. Enjoy it, but be responsible with it. Don’t play the “I’m young so i can act stupid” card. Own your life and make tough choices if you need to, but be responsible and have fun. Before you know it you’ll be a 35-year old humor blogger writing advice for high schoolers.

If you’d like to see more humor bloggers interviewed, comment or e-mail me.  If you absolutely hate the idea of more humor bloggers being interviewed, comment or e-mail me. And, if you have a random political view you think is worth sharing, comment or e-mail me.  (By the way, the color I was thinking of was yellow-green).

*According to Amy, letters in parentheses don’t count.