Category Archives: How I Annoy People

Annoying Kristin

Since Kristin and I have been dating for a few months now, I figure it’s only fair to feature her in the “How I Annoy People” section of my web site. In all honesty I don’t remember any significant “moments” that defined our relationship. There was that one time I stood in the driveway holding up a stereo playing romantic Peter Gabriel music in the middle of the night. Had I actually been at the correct address at the time I think Kristin would have been impressed with the gesture. And I’m not just saying that– it’s part of the official police report. I guess things got serious somewhere in between meeting Kristin and her friend for a movie and getting put on the “A list” for her recent moving party.

One of the constant sources of conflict in our relationship revolves around the television series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” To say Kristin is obsessed with this show would be quite an understatement. She likes Buffy in much the same way I enjoy, say, breathing.

I wasn’t at all surprised when I realized Kristin created a “Sim” on her computer that revolved around some of the main Buffy characters. For anyone not familiar with the computer game “The Sims,” it allows the user to create character simulations who interact with each other based on various user input. The entire experience is quite similar to playing God, but with a convenient graphical interface.

In addition to Buffy, Kristin created characters for two male vampires named Spike and Angel. While Kristin was otherwise occupied, I decided to see what would happen when Spike and Angel met face to face. I expected some surreal bloody vampire battle, but it turned out the software did not understand the television-based nature of the simulation. Spike and Angel just stood around talking to each other. To make things more interesting, I had Spike flirt with and tickle Angel. Next I had Angel return the favor. Both characters seemed to enjoy the experience. When Kristin came back into the room I saved the game and closed the program on her computer.

Thanks to my intervention, Spike and Angel became, well, quite close. Kristin was very upset when her plans to build a relationship between Buffy and Spike were thwarted by my meddling. Spike and Angel spend the weekends antiquing while Buffy sits at home wondering why (quite literally) all the men in her world are gay. Even though I think of Kristin as a tolerant and understanding individual, it turns out she categorically draws the line at computer-generated vampire homo-eroticism.

In addition to Buffy, I firmly believe that as long as Kristin and I are both alive (and possibly longer) we are never going to agree on the topic of Rush Limbaugh. Now don’t get me wrong here– I quite admire the accomplishments of this man. Kristin, for some reason, sees him as a future political leader, where I think of Rush as a heavier-set republican version of Dennis Miller.

So while I would like to see Rush Limbaugh use his abilities to provide commentary for high-profile sporting events, Kristin is waiting for the day when she can vote him into political office. Kristin firmly believes we would all be better off if this man was running the country. These “spirited conversations” we have usually end up with Kristin giving me a cold stare when I concede the point that Rush has been married more than enough times to understand the Republican Party’s family values stance.

Kristin’s anal-retentive nature is always a source of entertainment for me. The easiest way I’ve found to annoy Kristin is to take one of her CDs and rotate it in the jewel case so the disc isn’t aligned correctly. I have determined that a clockwise rotation of eighty-seven degrees provides the maximum effectiveness to drive Kristin crazy. Of course after I rotate the disc, I hold it up to make sure Kristin can see what I’ve done. This is followed by about twenty seconds of Kristin pretending not to care. Finally she lunges for the CD and will not rest until the situation is resolved.

While I try to be considerate of Kristin’s needs, I find it almost impossible to resist sneaking into her kitchen and shuffling the packets of Kool-Aid. I started this little hobby after watching Kristin alphabetize them while unpacking the groceries. I’m not sure what difference it makes to have the Lemonade packet sitting in front of the Black Cherry packet, but Kristin doesn’t want to take the chance on the matter. I have no doubt in my mind that this severely annoys Kristin and I suspect it explains her fantasies involving the eight foot tall pitcher-shaped Kool-Aid man breaking through her kitchen wall and beating the crap out of me.

Despite all my deficiencies, Kristin still seems to enjoy my company. Even though I tend to annoy Kristin on a surprisingly regular basis, she still wants to spend time with me. All of this leads up to the $64,000 question: Who repairs all the structural damage when the Kool-Aid man comes over for a visit?

Annoying Janet

This week Brian’s girlfriend Janet got added to the “People I Annoy” list. Having known each other for a couple of years now, Janet and I get along reasonably well. She has yet to invite me over to a slumber party where everyone stays up all night to eat microwave popcorn, drink diet Pepsi, and watch Brad Pitt movies, but we are also not to the stage where I would find it necessary to hold her hostage in my garage in a convoluted scheme to help Brian discover his long lost true love like in the movie “Saving Silverman.” Mostly because that would make me the character who realizes he is gay and goes on to marry his ex-con militaristic homosexual football coach on stage at a Neil Diamond concert. Like I need to go through that again.

The whole situation started at the train station in France named “Paris Nord”. No, it’s not a typo, it’s French. Translated into English it means “the last stop before Eurodisney.” OK, maybe my French skills aren’t as finely honed as, say, anyone in Europe who hasn’t lost their tongue, but I’m not making up the Eurodisney part. I planned to “rendezvous” (once again, that’s French) with Brian and Janet at the station after their plane landed in Paris earlier that day. As much as they love French train stations, Brian’s parents trusted our navigational skills enough to remain back at the hotel.

By the time I got into town and settled into my hotel room, it was really too late to go out and do anything. I sat down on the bed and did little more than contemplate paying 400 units of the local currency for an 8 ounce water bottle from the “courtesy” bar. (Another French term meaning “we know you are too lazy, scared, or stupid to walk to the store.”)

The next day we toured the city and learned quite a bit about the history of Paris. In the morning we saw the factory where they make French people snooty. Later on in the afternoon we saw the building where all the tacky models of the Eiffel Tower are put together. This assembly process takes place in the very same factory that manufactured the metal beams for the original tower. That was until the 1980’s when the plant ran out of space and had to be relocated in the nice pristine rolling hills of Southern Asia. We finished off the day with a classy dinner. By then it was about nine o’clock at night. Everyone in our “entourage” except Brian and I decided to call it a night. We left the hotel after casually telling Janet “We’re going to hang out for a while.”

Before I go any further with the story, I should point out that Brian and I had not seen each other for the better part of five months. We talked on the phone and exchanged emails, but that doesn’t compare to hanging out in person. Up to that point in our friendship I don’t think we had ever been apart for longer than two or three weeks at a time. We had quite a bit of catching up to do. And to be honest, I really like to gossip about everything– as evidenced by the fact I spent large quantities of time writing about every minute aspect of my life, posting it on the Internet, and then begging the world to read it all.

After leaving the hotel we aimlessly walked around the city. We eventually found our way to the “Louvre” (yet another French word—this means “huge art museum with strange pyramid in the courtyard.) We sat down and talked about random aspects of our lives for “a while.” (I know that’s not French. The quotes are employed as a foreshadowing device. When I tell the story in person I make the “finger quotation mark” gesture.) Eventually the conversation started to focus around our observation that it was no longer dark. This quickly led to a “have we really been out here for seven and a half hours?” discussion.

Anyone who eats a traditional French dinner and then sits outside all night will eventually feel the need to evacuate his or her bladder. Now I’m not saying we peed “on” one of the most famous museums in the world, but I’m not going to say we didn’t pee “in the general vicinity” of said structure. After our immediate biological needs were addressed we headed back to the hotel. I commented to Brian that he wouldn’t even have to wake up Janet in the middle of the night when he got back.

This was completely true, but made largely irrelevant by the fact Janet fell asleep when we left and woke up a few hours (less than, say, seven and a half) later to notice a lack of her significant other in the room. Deciding that we had been out longer than “a while” she became very concerned about our well being. She called Brian’s parent’s hotel room. Brian’s mom was not at all concerned with our being out all night in a foreign country with no explanation of our agenda. She did what she could to put Janet at ease by explaining this is completely consistent with our past behavior.

Despite these reassurances, Janet stayed up the rest of the night envisioning our lifeless corpses floating down the river in the heart of Paris possibly to be violated in some unnatural way by a medieval sewer dwelling monster. In reality I was busy explaining to Brian all the things I saw in Amsterdam floating around in the canal water. And to this day, I can’t quite put into words exactly how that smells.

I don’t know exactly what happened when Brian got back to his room. I, on the other hand, went back to my hotel room occupied only by the bottle of outrageously expensive water I was flirting with the night before. The next morning (45 minutes later) we all met for breakfast. Janet made a point of saying she wasn’t mad at us. While I’m admittedly not an expert on this matter, I’m pretty sure that when a woman specifically says she isn’t mad that implies on some level she isn’t exactly happy either.

After all was said and done, I’m not sure Brian and I really did anything wrong. But we both feel bad Janet stayed up all night worrying about our welfare. Fortunately it didn’t ruin the whole trip. I think I did a decent job of patching things up with her a few days later when I assisted Janet in the fine art of getting drunk on plum wine at a Japanese restaurant in Amsterdam. But that’s another story.

Annoying Sleeping Habits

I’m just not the type of person who gets sick very often. While I can only provide anecdotal evidence on this matter, I firmly believe my good health is due to the fact I religiously adhere to the “doughnut pyramid” philosophy of nutrition. (NOTE TO SELF: eat two more chocolate eclairs before bed to fulfill the recommended daily allowance of vanilla goo). Despite my impeccable eating habits, some sort of evil invaders made their way into my body. And, no, I’m not talking about the Spanish Inquisition. My symptoms included coughing, sneezing, fever, chills, cold sweats, runny nose, headache, abnormally high levels of drool (while awake), irritability, disorientation, high cholesterol, itchy facial hair, consecutive bad hair days, and an unexplained tolerance of “Gilligan’s Island” reruns.

Being a single male, I have exactly two approaches to getting better. The first is to just ignore the situation. Which most of the time is really the best thing to do. After a few days of specifically doing nothing, it became quite obvious my situation was not improving. Which meant I had to switch to my alternate form of treatment– I called my mom.

I explained the situation to my mom and she drove up to Boulder one night to see what kind of medical attention the situation warranted. Even when I am perfectly healthy I don’t always know what day it is, but having a high fever did nothing to help the situation. But I do remember watching professional football, which meant it was a Sunday. Unless it was Monday. Or possibly Thursday or Saturday. I was honestly more concerned with the idea of my head exploding after doing something silly like trying to sit up.

My mom arrived and had me swallow various pills and liquids to improve my condition. Exhausted from this sudden flurry of activity, I could do little more than lay back on the couch and fall asleep. I can only imagine my mom’s concern as she watched me sleep restlessly as my fevered body tried to recover from this illness. And that was BEFORE I started rambling incoherently.

While I’m sure I had my reasons for babbling on in my sleep to my mom that we needed to go to the local grocery store to buy birthday cakes that other people ordered, I seem unable to recall them now. I think that was when my mom started entertaining the idea of taking me to a hospital. Fortunately, witnessing my wildly erratic sleeping habits is nothing new for my mom.

My bad sleeping habits can be traced back to my early teens. One of the most common dreams, besides being stuck sitting between Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh on a crowded bus heading to Istanbul, is to have an uncontrolled falling sensation. The normal reaction is to wake up, realize it was a dream, and then go back to sleep. My routine, on the other hand, contained the additional step of waking up in the morning to realize that I had pulled the curtains near my bed out of the wall.

In addition to my nocturnal redecorating efforts, I have also been known to walk and talk in my sleep. My parents didn’t really know what to do when I was wandering in the hallway at three in the morning explaining how random objects were flying out of my television set. One time I walked into my parents bedroom and sat on the corner of their bed in the middle of the night. I didn’t say or do anything—I just sat there. I don’t think this scenario is covered in any of those “how to raise your teenager” books.

I consider myself to have fairly average verbal debating skills when I am awake and coherent. When I am sleeping, however, I have yet to lose an argument. I suspect this is because A) I use facts that are only available to me, such as “there are dragons coming in the windows” or “time is moving backwards, and I have to fix it” and B) I refuse to accept the claims of other people that I am incoherent and speaking gibberish. Coincidentally, this is the same strategy employed by the Republican party.

Given my history with odd sleeping patterns, my recent experience on my couch was really no cause for alarm. I don’t really know why I sleepwalk, but I can remember everything I say and do when I wake up. Maybe my life would be easier if I actually stopped dreaming before I start moving around and talking, but I have been unable to locate my brain’s instruction manual. Until I find it, I’m stuck like this.

How Qwest Annoys Me

I like to consider myself a reasonable and tolerant individual. I know the world is not a perfect place. My newspaper does not always arrive on time and occasionally my French fries are not quite as “hot out of the deep fryer” as I might like them. These small problems in life are things that I can fairly easily overlook. When something is fundamentally messed up I have to stand up (a.k.a. turn on my computer) and let my voice be heard (a.k.a. write about it). Having said that, I call the following piece “How Qwest Annoys Me.”

The first thing to know about Qwest is they give out customer’s personal information to other companies for the sole purpose of calling me when I’m very busy trying to be asleep. When I signed up for phone service with Qwest, I gave them my personal information so they would know things like which phone line to turn on and where to send the monthly bill. As far as I can remember, they never asked me “can we distribute your name and phone number for our own profit?” Because if they did, I’m sure I would have politely turned down the offer.

Well, it turns out that Qwest has an “opt out” policy on this subject. Which means you have to go and specifically ask them to stop selling your information to other companies. I can’t imagine many people really wanting to be on this list in the first place. If Qwest adopted an “opt in” policy the list they sell would be quite a bit shorter and probably less profitable. Quite annoying, if you ask me.

Call me a bit old fashioned, but I believe that the phone company has better things to do than to keep calling me and asking me to upgrade my phone service. I am not really the type of person who pushes the envelope in this area. I’m happy with the basic functions of being able to send and receive phone calls. My attitude on this subject, however, does not seem to make Qwest very happy. Convinced I just can’t live without their latest new feature they keep calling and wanting me to upgrade. My favorite sales call occurred a few days ago when someone from Qwest wanted to sell me a service to block unidentified calls. I have to look into this feature in more detail to find out if it would really block Qwest from getting through. Maybe I’m being an idealist here, but when the phone company is trying to sell a service that keeps THEMSELVES from getting through thing have just gone a bit too far.

Maybe this whole situation is aggravated by the fact I lived in Holland for six months. My apartment, located just outside of Amsterdam, contained a telephone that to the best of my knowledge worked for the entire duration of my visit. Whenever I picked up the phone I could hear a dial tone and I was able to make a call. Whenever someone I knew called my number, the phone would ring and I would pick it up if I happened to be around. Whenever Dutch telemarketers called up trying to sell me wooden shoes or windmill time share investment opportunities…. wait a minute—that never happened. In the entire six months I didn’t receive a single phone call from someone I didn’t know. Sure, the Dutch speak their funny little elf language that nobody else in the world seems to care about, but they really have a wonderful policy on telephone solicitation.

The whole logic of long distance prefixes was pretty much thrown out the window with the introduction of “overlay” numbers. Having to dial a ten digit code to call your next door neighbor (who may very well have a different area code) defeats the whole concept. I suspect in the future we will be required to include the three digit international country code, “1”, the area code, the actual phone number followed by the caller’s height and weight, the social security number of the person trying to be reached, and the first 10 digits of Pi– “just to be safe.”

One solution I’ve come up with involves new area codes. I propose new area codes be set up making it flat out illegal for companies to make unsolicited phone calls. If a telemarketer did call one of these numbers, a special “*86” option would notify the proper authorities. This would result in the telemarketer being charged a special two dollar “user fee” that would be credited to the victim’s telephone account to compensate for the inconvenience.

I am not holding my breath for Qwest to change their annoying ways. I think my best bet its to cancel my service outright, buy a cell phone from another company, and hope the telemarketers will keep away from my new number for at least a month or two. That, or I’ll just pack up and move back to Holland.

How Do I Annoy Thee?

Perhaps it is just human nature to point out the shortcomings of other people. While I’m not a licensed psychiatrist, I do suspect I feel better about myself when I can quietly point out everyone else’s faults in life. I also have this feeling I employ sarcastic witty banter to mask my true emotions, but in all honesty I can say that is about as likely as Richard Simmons not being a robot. With all these random thoughts running through my head, I decided to embark on an exploration of self discovery and document a few of the ways in which I am annoying to my friends and family. While this list does not come close to being complete, I hope it will help shed some light on some of my more interesting character traits.

Kathleen:

Since my schedule as a writer is quite flexible, I often submit to my nocturnal tendencies and end up doing things at somewhat odd hours. It is not all that unusual for me to take a shower at two or three in the morning. I don’t know how the rest of the world works, but I just can’t take a shower without singing Steve Miller songs at inappropriately high volumes. I’m not sure how well sounds carries to other apartment units, but I can’t imagine my upstairs neighbor Kathleen is really happy to be woken up in the middle of the night when I’m going on about that big ole jet airliner that is going to carry me to my home.

Brian:

In previous stories I’ve mentioned my interest in the game of laser tag. The other night I drove down to Denver to go play. I’m not sure why (wildly erratic sleeping habits), but when I got to Brian’s place I became incredibly tired all the sudden. So instead of going to play laser tag I slept on his couch for the better part of two hours while he watched “Dude, Where’s My Car?” Afterwards I drank two cans of Mountain Dew and drove back to Boulder.

My Mom:

I keep telling my mom I do not plan my life around driving her crazy– it just seems to happen that way. I do not think I caused any extraordinary amount of stress in her life recently until I quit my job as a computer programmer to pursue my writing career. Whenever we talk about my goals in life I can actually see conflict stirring about in her head. In general she tries to remain positive and encourage my creative writing pursuits. On the other hand, she has an overwhelming urge to reach across the table, grab me by collar, and shake me silly while explaining the benefits of gainful employment.

As far as my writing goes, my mom tends to enjoy my stories that are more political in nature. She hates, and I am not using that word lightly, the stories that portray me a less than favorable light. When she read about how I got drunk and made an ass of myself at Angie’s Christmas party I immediately received a phone call. While the actual words used aren’t really important, the tone of the conversation was quite negative. I know that my mom would do anything if it would keep me from writing about my personal life on my web site. Unfortunately, the sciences of hypnosis and mind controlling drugs are unable to achieve such specific objectives at this point in time.

Newfunny viewers:

Anyone who has above average spelling and grammar skills knows I am not a perfectionist when it comes to things like where to place punctuation marks and what exact letters should go in a particular word (and the order of the letters too). One alert newfunny reader (who also happens to be my sister) pointed out that I spelled Dave Barry’s name incorrectly. Which in itself wouldn’t be such a big deal—I have an exceptional talent for creatively spelling names. The beauty of the situation was that I had put a picture of Mr. Barry—with his name spelled correctly—right next to the story where I had misspelled it roughly 2300 times (in my defense I spelled it wrong with remarkable consistency throughout the entire story). My sister sent me an email pointing out my error in a tone that I would consider to be less than positive. Since then, however, I have been able to spell his name correctly a remarkably high percentage of the time.

Footnote:

While I generally don’t plug other web sites, I came up with the concept for this story after reading a web site titled
“Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About.” Despite a horrible color scheme that gives me blinding headaches behind my eye sockets, this page is a wonderful collection of stories involving a British writer and his German girlfriend.