Hypothetically Speaking . . .

. . . . . . . . Because Humor Matters

State Of The Michael Address

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Feb• 24•12

The New Me

A few weeks ago I went to the doctor for my annual oil change and engine tune-up. I’m never thrilled about those visits, but once you reach my age—32—your primary care physician becomes such a regular and important part of your life that it is totally possible that you may see him, her, or it more than you see your spouse or your kids. I’ve seen my doctor so many times this year that I’m thinking about listing her as the beneficiary on my life insurance policies instead of my fish. My mother used to be listed, but she got bumped a few years ago after we had a heated disagreement about whether or not oatmeal tasted better than cream of wheat. I mean, anyone who doesn’t know that cream of wheat is better certainly doesn’t deserve to receive the $50 payout when my final day comes.

Anyway, so I sat there on the bed, kicking my feet like a two year old, confident that everything would turn out ok. After all, I worked out twice in January. That certainly had to help lower my blood pressure and whatever else exercising allegedly helps with. There was nothing to worry about. Basically, I was there to have the doctor hand me a lollipop and draw a smiley face on a Popsicle stick—one of the many benefits of still going to a pediatrician even when you’re middle-aged. I bet your doctor doesn’t offer that service! Well, imagine my surprise when the doctor looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Your cholesterol sucks.” That wasn’t such a huge shock. They’ve been saying that since I was four. However, what she said next made my head spin as if I were that girl in “The Exorcist”: “If you don’t make some changes now, I’d say you have about ten to fifteen years before you have a stroke or something.”

A stroke or something!!!

Honestly, as I sit here buttering my bagel while frying chicken and drinking whole milk, I can’t even begin to explain how this may have happened. I mean, could it have been the bacon double cheeseburgers with the extra mayo? Was it the weekly Meat Lovers pizza with extra meat and extra cheese? Or was it the scrambled eggs that I eat every morning with the extra side of eggs? Please don’t tell me that it was the deep fried lettuce or my daily assortment of cakes and pies. Of course not! I refuse to believe it. My favorite foods would never betray me. I asked my doctor for her credentials because I was sure there had to have been some form of mistake. She’d obviously gotten it wrong. I wanted to speak to a manager. After finding out that she was the manager, I asked to speak to her mom. Someone was going to pay!!!

After the guilty-of-high-cholesterol verdict set in, my mind began to race. I mean, I’m only 32 in human years. Why has my body forsaken me? I always thought high cholesterol wouldn’t be something I’d have to worry about until I was old and decrepit—you know, like when I turn 33. Although my doctor’s mother explained that my doctor is still a few credits shy of her bachelor’s degree from a partially accredited medical school called Super Walmart, I decided to take her warning seriously. I mean, if something happened to me, who would pay off my student loans? Who would feed my fish? Who would finally vacuum my floors? And, most importantly, who would write my blog? Now that Stephenie Meyer and J. K. Rowling are done with their little “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” projects, I’m sure they’re just waiting in the wings for my demise so that they can take over my blog. Never!

And then I shared the news with my mother.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone was happier to hear about my pending demise than she was. Because she dropped the phone when I told her about my crisis, I assumed that she had become overwhelmed with the idea of losing the only child she had fully paid for with her credit card. Instead, I heard her and my father in the background giving each other high fives. Before I fully realized what was going on, there was the sound of a champagne cork being popped. Apparently my mother had been expecting this news for a while now and she’d finally won the bet over my father who had believed my eating habits weren’t really that bad. When she eventually made it back to the phone, she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, Mikey” before yelling to my father that he had two weeks to come up with the money, or else.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I made the mistake of sharing the news with some of my coworkers. Why on earth did I do that? Now, whenever I try to eat anything, at least twelve people remind me of how whatever I’m eating isn’t good for me. You should hear them. “Michael, is that a raisin? You know that’s bad for your cholesterol,” or “Are you drinking water again? You know that’s just going to raise your cholesterol,” they say. Have you ever had a whole department shake their heads in disapproval and wag their fingers at you because you ate two strawberries for lunch knowing that you already had bad cholesterol? So far, the only things they’ve allowed me to eat without giving me a lecture are used Post-it Notes and an occasional staple. Everything else is absolutely off limits.

In order to try to live for at least another few years or so until my book comes out, I’ve began looking at the nutrition label on everything—even my clothes. What this has taught me is that there is basically nothing you can eat other than grass that isn’t bad for you in some way, shape or form. If it’s low in cholesterol, then it is high in sodium. If it’s low in sodium, then it is high in sugar. If it’s low in sugar, then it’s high in trans fats. If it is low in cholesterol, sugar, sodium, and trans fats, then it tastes so bad that you’ll want to fling yourself off the nearest tall building in effort to put yourself out of your misery.

So, here’s the plan, instead of sentencing myself to a life of eating nothing but cardboard and tree bark, I’m going to try to replace some of my bad eating habits for better ones. For example, at lunch, instead of eating a cheesesteak, I’ve been eating a bowl of cream of wheat or soup. Sometimes, instead of having something fried for dinner, I’ll have a bowl of cereal. And when I do decide to splurge and eat a donut or piece of cake, I’m trying to only eat half, or a portion smaller than I would normally eat. Another tactic that works for me is taking two bites of something and then throwing the rest in the trash really quickly before I throw it down my throat instead. So far, I’ve only gone in the trash one time to retrieve a piece of cake that was so good that I was ok with the puddle of soda it had landed in and the few pieces of gum that had gotten stuck to it. I don’t know who those pieces of gum originally belonged to, but I can confirm that those individuals and I are now forever connected. I mean, when you think about it, how cool is that? Do you chew gum? Have you ever had a red piece that you discarded after it removed the smell of garlic and onions from your breath? Really? Then maybe we’re connected!!!

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
Add me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.rochelle1

Let’s Get Physical…Kind Of

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Jan• 30•12

Ok, so we’re five weeks into the new year and I’ve already betrayed all of my resolutions. For one, I’m eating like I’m 51 months pregnant. Just yesterday I went to both Popeye’s and Panda Express for dinner. Oh, and did I mention that I also went to Mrs. Fields for cookies afterward? And no, I didn’t just get one cookie. I got six!!! Definitely not my finest hour in terms of calorie content. On top of that, I didn’t work out at all last week or the week before. Then again, maybe I can count that one afternoon when I found that stale piece of gum that had been hiding in my glove compartment for a year or two. It gave my jaws a real work out. Hmmm. In that case, I guess I haven’t gotten too far off track.

Despite the temporary setback, I can honestly report that I worked out twice during the first week of the year—I think. You should have seen me. I even broke a sweat while trying to figure out how to use the treadmill. After I finished, I thought I had really done something. I walked around the office ripping off my shirt as if I were Arnold Schwarzenegger every chance I could. Most of my coworkers just laughed and strongly encouraged me to put my shirt back on. However, my human resources manager wasn’t so fond of me standing on top of her desk and beating my chest as if I were Tarzan. She promptly wrote me up—AGAIN. I think she’s just jealous because she doesn’t have abs of steel like the ones I will one day have when my order comes in off eBay.

One reason I haven’t worked out is because I haven’t really been feeling like myself lately. Well, I haven’t exactly felt like Brad Pitt or Meryl Streep either, but I definitely haven’t been feeling like the Michael Rochelle you’ve all come to know and love. Last week I had a cold, so there was no need to run on the treadmill because I’d already burned plenty of calories running back and forth to the restroom. But even before that, for some reason, all I’ve wanted to do is go to work and then go back home and sleep. I’ve logged so much time on my couch recently that I think I’m up for some kind of world record. But before you start calling the authorities to report me as being depressed or off my medications again, that’s not it. I think I’m just a little burned out.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying, “Michael, you haven’t done a blog post in four weeks, you haven’t had any homework since Christmas, and your reality show, “For the Love of Michael,” is on hiatus. Why are you so tired?” Well, for your information, I’ve had to put in a lot of extra time at the office recently. And because I’m a salaried employee, all those extra hours fall under a category of volunteerism that doesn’t count toward the community service hours I was sentenced to due to that one unfortunate incident I got into with someone’s grandmother over the last red scarf at that K-mart blue-light sale. I’m still embarrassed that I let that granny get the best of me. If only I had used my walker as a weapon like she did.

Anyway, another reason I may be feeling a little out of it is because school started back up last Wednesday, and I’m dreading this semester. A full 15 weeks of nothing but economics and statistics. How does one say “yuck” in English? I know I should have a more positive attitude like Oprah suggested when I spoke to her last night, but as I explained to Big Mama O, she’s not the one taking the classes. There are like a million other things that I would enjoy more than 15 weeks of studying those two subjects. For example, I would rather wash the feet of 100 strangers with nothing but my navel and a toothbrush. Or, I would rather run a marathon with nothing on but a handful of strategically placed gift bows to hide all twelve of my private parts. I thought about including a diagram here, but then thought it would be unnecessary. I mean, we all have the same 12 or 13 private parts, unless you’re from Germany where you’re born with an extra three.

Speaking of being from Germany, I think I’m going to come up with a new and exotic place for me to be from instead of Baltimore. I have a few coworkers from Vietnam, a few from Africa, a few from India, etc., and those places all seem far and foreign. Nobody gets excited when I say I’m from Baltimore. For some reason, they always ask if I can show them my bullet wounds and whether or not I know how to read. When I tell them that I placed 2nd in a dramatic reading contest of “Jack and Jill” during my senior year of high school, they then ask if I was on “The Wire.” No, I wasn’t. But my mother was. I don’t remember the exact role she played, but it was either that really mean character, or she played that guy that walked up and down the street with a shot gun because it wasn’t too far of a stretch from what she does in real life. I always get confused, but I’m afraid to confirm because it’s not advisable to ask a person with a shotgun a silly question—even if that person is your mother.

If I could be from anywhere, I think I would be from Family Dollar or PetSmart. Why? Because no one else ever says they’re from there. When was the last time you’ve heard someone tell a story about their hometown which is on aisle 5 of the men’s department? Never. But I’m just being silly. I know that Family Dollar is not a country. I’m pretty sure Walmart is though. It’s bigger. And the cost of living there isn’t too expensive. They have everyday low prices. But if for some reason that doesn’t work out, I think I’ll be from Asia. I mean, people already compliment me on my Asian features anyway. They’re actually quite surprised when I explain that the lady who adopted and raised me in the basement of her home says that my birth mother told her I was either African American or European right before she signed over the documents to rent-to-own me. Who knew?

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
Add me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.rochelle1

Goodbye 2011, Hello Chicken Wings

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Jan• 02•12

So, it’s 2012. A new beginning. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was sharing my resolutions for 2011 with you. Apparently, the older you get, the faster time flies. At my age, if you blink twice, you’re likely to miss the whole month of March. But I digress. A quick review of my 2011 resolutions makes me feel kind of like a failure. The fried chicken wings I had for breakfast this morning certainly prove that I’m not eating healthier. Making matters worse, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to the gym over the past 12 months—and most of those visits were only due to my need to use the restroom. Despite that, there is at least one good thing that I did accomplish during 2011: I was nominated “Sexiest Man Alive.” Although I didn’t top People Magazine’s list, my four fish unanimously voted me “The Sexiest Man Alive That Lives In My Apartment.” I couldn’t have been more proud.

Now that I think about it, it’s probably a good time for me to decide who and what I want to be in 2012. Obviously, the roles of Ryan Gosling, Adele, and Bradley Cooper are taken, but what’s left for me? What do I want my legacy to be this year? When people see me out and about, what descriptions should come to their mind? writer? student? Kohl’s shopper? Of course, I’m a major celebrity that receives worldwide recognition comparable to that of Justin Bieber. No one would ever argue that fact. But at the end of the day—or in other words, at night—who is this grand enigma that is Michael Rochelle? What plans does he have for 2012? And can he convince the cashier at Popeye’s to do home deliveries? I could really use a biscuit right about now.

First, I definitely HAVE to write more and search for new opportunities to do so. My articles haven’t appeared in a magazine or newspaper in quite some time, and I really miss the excitement of seeing my work in a print form outside of my blog. I may have mentioned this before, but I want to be a writer who happens to work in accounting to keep the lights on and the fish fed as opposed to being a worker in accounting that happens to write. Like myself, I’m sure there are many others spending more hours to ensure that the bills are paid than they are pursuing their true passion. Who knows? Maybe Beyoncé is putting out music solely because it was the only job she could get, but secretly she just wants to be a stocker at Walmart. Should we deny her the one thing that would truly make her happy? Of course not!

Second, I’d like to read more. When I was doing my undergrad, it was easy to rattle off the last book I’d read because reading was a part of the curriculum. Now that I’m in grad school and focused on business, besides textbooks and newspapers, I couldn’t begin to tell you the last book I’ve read from cover to cover. Of course, I sneak into Barnes and Noble every now and then to read a chapter or two of Ellen DeGeneres’ “Seriously I’m Kidding,” or Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” so I can pull chapters from them to post on my weekly blog as if I’d written them myself, but that’s not reading for pleasure. That’s just me searching for new content. And if there is anyone who knows the importance of putting out new and original material, it’s me, Ellen DeGeneres.

In addition to reading more books, I need to read more blogs. I know this will probably be just as much of a shock to you as it was to me, but, allegedly, there are a whole slew of other blogs out there besides mine. Who knew? Hopefully, I’ll be able to use my findings to help me become a better writer and make your experience as a reader even greater. I know it’s hard to imagine enjoying my blog any more than you already do now, but apparently it’s possible for me to refine my craft as a slightly best-selling author and blogger. Believe it or not, some bloggers post every single day. Could you imagine having a dose of Michael with your coffee and bagel every morning? Well, kind reader, if you dream it, I, Tina Fey, can achieve it.

Another goal of mine this year is to trust my instincts a little more. For example, the other day I was at Starbucks, looking over the menu for something that would excite me when my eyes landed on a Caramel Apple Cider. Immediately, I frowned at the thought of an apple cider and coffee mixture, but I decided to take a chance and try something new. I mean, without taking risks, I would have never discovered the magical wonder of the McDonald’s French fry last week. As it turns out the drink doesn’t have coffee in it, but the barista (look at me using big, new words) encouraged me to try it mixed with the Cinnamon Dolce latte. I took his advice. He’s the barista after all. If I can trust him with my financial planning and future dog grooming needs, the least I can do is let him recommend a drink.

As soon as the warm liquid hit my tongue, I pondered suing Starbucks for assault with a deadly drink. I’d never been so wrong about a choice since that one time I lost my Toyota to Taylor Swift and Lil’ Wayne over a game of Spades—they both cheated if you ask me. I expected as much from Taylor, but Lil’ Wayne being anything less than a gentleman completely shocked me. I’m thinking about calling his mother. Anyway, my less-than-great Starbucks experience taught me that when I take risks, the outcome may not go exactly as I expected, but I’ll still gain helpful experience that will be awesome for me to pass on to my great grandchildren one day—or to my future Pomeranian, whichever comes first.

Lastly, before the year ends, I’d like to get rid of some of the random stuff I’m holding onto but will never use. Honestly, I’m probably just one napkin away from being placed on the national hoarder registry. I have books, gadgets, shoes, and clothes that I haven’t worn or used in years; why am I still holding on to all that stuff? There has to be better use for all that space—I could get new stuff!!! But really, how many microwaves and irons does one person need? I could probably make due with having just three of each and get rid of the rest of them, right? With that in mind, does anyone need a “How to Read Harry Potter in Arabic Braille” book? I’ve got twelve of them!!!

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
Add me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.rochelle1

A Christmas Michael–I Mean Miracle

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Dec• 25•11

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. You know it’s the holiday season when random people hold doors open for you, let you merge on the interstate, or allow you to go in front of them when you’re standing in the check-out line shaking frantically with your legs crossed and a bottle of extra strength Pepto Bismol in your hand—I love it when that happens. This time of year, people who don’t usually speak actually part their lips to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “What are you looking at?” or “Take a hike, jerk.”

For me, the best part of the season, topping the gift giving, decorations, and all the store clerks in Santa hats, is the extra time off from work. Although I LOVE my job and ADORE my coworkers (umm, some of them may be reading), I also love the three or four-day weekends that sometimes come along with Christmas and New Year’s. And because of all the niceness in the air, I typically get written up or fired less during this time of year, which is an awesome benefit. “Sure, I’m five hours late and I didn’t bother to call, but you wouldn’t terminate me during Christmas, would you? Oh, and by the way, I need to leave early.” Yes, it’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year. So wonderful, that I finally found the energy to take the blog out of hiatus.

As some of you know, my goal for the past few months has been to do a weekly blog post. Of course, that has kind of gone out the window. However, I can honestly say that I wasn’t missing in action because I was camped outside of a mall waiting for the new Air Jordan sneakers to be released. Instead, school happened. And then work happened. And “30 Rock” happened. Yes, while I was off the radar, I was either at work, doing schoolwork, or sprawled out on the couch watching Netflix—or what was left of my Netflix subscription after they hiked up the prices and forced me to take on a part time job in order to pay for the new separate DVD rental and streaming services. I’m just happy I didn’t throw away my stripper outfit. I had a feeling I was going to have to use it again.

In my defense, I didn’t stop writing altogether. I started writing several blog entries, but then something shiny would come on the TV, or a teacher would call nagging and whining that one of my assignments was 4 weeks late or something, so I’d have to put off blogging to pretend to be slightly responsible and “prioritize” as people in the business world like to say. Thus, I have several articles about my Thanksgiving and Black Friday experiences, but I think it may be just a tad bit too late to post them. Maybe I’ll save them for February when everyone is distracted and starry eyed because of Valentine’s Day, so no one will notice how late and inappropriate a Thanksgiving post is at that time. We’ll see.

Over the past few weeks, because some people know that I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, many questions arise about whether I’ll celebrate Christmas or not and what I’ll do with myself that day if I choose not to. Although I’m not currently a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, my parents still are, so holidays are just like a regular day for me. December 25th may as well be June 25th—wait, that’s not a holiday too, is it? The funny thing is, whenever I tell someone that I’ll be just lying low, watching TV, and sleeping through the holiday, they act as though I’m depressed and need to be placed on a suicide watch. And let me tell you, it is very hard for me to write this blog in the middle of a psych ward with two big burly wardens watching my every move and tranquilizing me every time I get upset because they don’t serve Starbucks here. I mean, wouldn’t you go crazy if someone cut off your coffee supply? I’m just saying. By the way, they’re telling me that I can’t use words like “cut,” but I’ll see if I can somehow slide that by them.

But anyway, in terms of my holiday being relatively uneventful, don’t cry for me, Christmas celebrators. Like Lady Gaga said, I was pretty much born this way. My mother became a Jehovah’s Witness when I was about 5, so I have years and years and YEARS of experience in not being with family, having a tree, or getting gifts for Christmas. Matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that the savings due to her not having to buy gifts was one of the big selling points of the Jehovah’s Witness lifestyle that made my mother say “Sign me up!!!” Hmmm. I wonder if it’s too late to sue for all the lost presents and earnings over the years? Maybe I need to call Judge Judy. Mom, I’ll see you in court!!! And bring your checkbook!!!

Since I’m actually writing this on Christmas, instead of spending my day opening gifts and planning my travel route to return the majority of those unwanted items tomorrow, I’m spending it doing exactly what I want to do. Looking at the November 5th date on my last blog entry is very disturbing, so I’m excited to be adding new content. Next, I plan to add at least one chapter to the alleged novel that I’ve been working on for the last few years. Also, because I’ll be spending the day with my parents tomorrow, I went for a drive earlier and raided all the outdoor Redbox machines until I found the movie “The Help” for us to watch during our family time. Thus, I may not exactly be celebrating Christmas per se, but I’m still enjoying myself. Did I mention that I also rented “Just Dance 3”? Yes, I’ll be spending the evening dancing and sweating until the paramedics come knocking. I can’t wait!!!

In closing, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season and I look forward to connecting with my readers more in 2012. Enjoy yourself and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do—which pretty much means you can do anything you want.

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
Add me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.rochelle1

Halloween, Birthdays, And A Run For President

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Nov• 05•11

So, I was sitting there on Halloween, politely waiting for trick or treaters to show up at my door. I’d been waiting for over an hour. Now that I think about it, the fact that no kids showed up was probably my fault. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited until after work on Halloween to stop at Target to pick up candy. While I was there, I did kind of get a tad bit distracted by a few of life’s little necessities. I mean, you can never have enough of that stuff that makes your toilet water blue so that it matches your towels and wallpaper. In any case, I didn’t make it home until after 9 PM, which means I probably missed all the kids. That kind of sucks because now I’ll be forced to eat all that candy by myself over the next few days, which would totally ruin my diet if I were on one.

Well, I can’t exactly call that night a complete loss. Not too long after I arrived home, I heard a knock and I practically sprinted over to the door and whipped it open expecting to see a bunch of cute kids in their scary little costumes. Except those kids weren’t exactly kids. Those kids were like fifteen . . . or twenty-eight or something. They didn’t even bother to pretend to wear costumes. One was taller than I am. Trust me, I’ve never seen a kid holding a beer bottle in one hand and a cigarette behind one ear as part of his or her outfit. My smile faded as the trick or treaters shoved a black trash bag in my direction and said, “Fill ‘er up.” I couldn’t believe I was handing over a handful of snack-size Snickers to two guys and a girl who had to be at least as old as I am. Maybe I was imagining things, but I could have sworn I noticed a few gray hairs in one of the guy’s moustache.

I wonder how many actual children I missed while I was at Target deciding whether I really needed another iron and matching microwave set or not. I mean, you just never know when the three irons you already have are going to give out, and one can never have too many microwaves in my opinion. How else can you pop your popcorn and warm up your coffee at the exact same time without using that stove contraption thingy that takes up half your kitchen but you make up for it by using it as a storage unit? Thanks to my three microwaves, I can prepare an entire meal for one person in less than five hours. And if I decide to go simple and make something like Cheerios or Fruit Loops, I can cut that down to about sixty minutes. What can I say? I’m a professional.

Last Halloween, so many children showed up at my door that I ran out of candy and had to improvise. After some quick thinking on my part, I began handing out 12-ounce cans of spinach and peas instead of Kit Kats and Almond Joys. Needless to say, the kids weren’t so thrilled with that quick fix and the next morning I found all of the cans neatly stacked outside my front door. Ingrates! As disappointed as I was that I missed all the kids this year, I have to admit that a part of me is kind of glad the evening was so quiet. I mean, you might think that little ghost or goblin is somebody’s two year old, but before you know it, you’ve opened the door and that two year old is taking your bowl of candy and your wallet. You just never know these days. Better safe than sorry.

Moving on, a lot of people have asked what I did for my birthday two weeks ago—OK, one person asked. Well, if I’m honest, I did exactly what I thought I would do—homework. Yes, on my actual birthday, I didn’t even leave the house. I was glued to my couch reading something about marketing for my marketing class and something about accounting for my accounting class. Actually, I’m lying. I did leave the house for about an hour so that I could go to Carvel and order myself a birthday cake with my name on it and everything.

Ok, I know what you’re saying, “Michael, you bought your own cake! How sad!” Well, don’t cry for me, Argentina. I’ll have you know that when you buy your own cake, you get exactly what you want and the whole thing is yours unless you choose to share it!!! And when I lit my 32 candles, no one was there to witness the small kitchen fire it caused and I was totally able to play it off by saying I had some faulty cords when the Montgomery County Fire Department showed up. See, so I didn’t exactly spend my birthday alone. Furthermore, I’d like to dispute the rumors that aired on “Entertainment Tonight” and “TMZ” that I caused the fire so that people would show up for my birthday. Yes, I did ask the firemen to sing “Happy Birthday” while they hosed down my microwave, but it was not pre-planned—just like Kim Kardashian’s divorce.

As bad as it may sound, it was completely my fault that I didn’t do anything big on my birthday. I waited until the last minute to do my homework for the week, so I had to cancel plans I’d made with friends that day in order to get it done. Why be a show off and turn your work in early when you can wait until the last minute and make it appear that you put some effort into it and took your time to make sure you did the work accurately? I’m just saying. Anyway, despite how low-key my actual birthday was, I had dinner at Buca di Beppo, an Italian restaurant, and went bowling with another set of friends the night before. I had an awesome time in spite of the fact that I came in third or fourth each game. Apparently, no one told my friends that they were supposed to let me win in honor of my birthday—even if that meant that they somehow needed to score less than 20 points the whole game. Next time I’m requesting that we use the bumpers or gutter-blockers that the kids use.

Now that I’m officially 32, I feel like I should be evaluating my life, where I’ve been, what I want to do, and who I want to be when I grow up. Well, first, I want to start rewarding myself for my achievements, which is exactly why I rewarded myself for burning 100 calories at the gym the other day by going to Checkers and having a Bacon Cheese Champ compo right afterwards. It was so worth it. Second, I want to finally learn how to do the Crank Dat Souldja Boy dance from 2007 that I never quite mastered. Because I’m not a quitter, I’m going to put in more practice and possibly debut it for my birthday next year. Third, I wonder if it’s too late for me to put in my bid for president. My momma always said that I could be whatever I want to be. Hmmm. There you have it. You heard it here first. Michael Rochelle for president in 2012. Do you want to know the first bill for me to get through congress? I’ll work on making Starbucks, Netflix, and iPhones free for everyone!!!

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
Add me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.rochelle1

Damn, Damn, Damn Near 40

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Oct• 22•11

Tomorrow I’ll officially be 32, which one of my aunts so lovingly describes as “being damn near 40.” Well, yes, I may have graduated from high school the same year that Betty White did, but I bet nobody would look her in the eye and tell her that she’s damn near 40. I don’t know what it is about getting older that allows people to make such a giant age association. I mean, I won’t be 40 for 8 more years. That’s two whole presidential terms. I could plant and grow a school-aged child between now and then. In my opinion, I’m still closer to 30, but in everyone else’s opinion I’m almost 60. Apparently, those age leaps only work once you’ve reach a certain age because I never remember anyone telling me that I was “damn near 20” when I was just 12. Now that I think about it, it would have been awesome to have been able to say, “Mom, you can’t send a 12 year old to his room. I’m damn near 20. Now get me a beer.”

I haven’t really thought much about the big day. Honestly, it was just a few days ago that I realized my birthday was at the end of the week instead of two weeks away like I’d been telling people. I hope that won’t throw everyone off in terms of getting my gifts on time and ordering a big cake that Beyoncé will jump out of while singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” The funny thing is, when I mention my age—the official one that the government won’t allow me to change despite many attempts—people typically look me over as if I’m some form of alien or something before saying things like, “You look good to be 32. What’s your secret?” Well, first, I’m not yet 32. I assume my appropriately aged face will be delivered by FedEx on October 23rd. Second, I guess my secret to looking young is a healthy avoidance of water, exercise, and vegetables. It’s either that or my face is simply confused as to whether it should age based on the passing of time or my stagnant maturity level. I’ll say it loud, I’m 12 and I’m proud—which is really damn near 20.

For the past few weeks, people have been asking me what I’d like to do to celebrate the aging process. Actually, since my birthday is on a Sunday, I will probably spend the entire day sitting on my couch doing homework because that’s what a responsible adult would do—allegedly. I mean, I could reach out to my professors and ask if they would give me some form of special birthday homework pardon, but if they weren’t willing to offer me a Columbus or Labor Day pardon when I asked, I doubt they’ll be open to giving me a free pass this time around either. But like they say, nothing beats a failure but a half-hearted try. That noted, I’ll reach out to them and see what they have to say. At the least, maybe my mentioning the big day will convince them to get me a nice gift from Kohl’s. Hey, I’m not picky as long as people get me exactly what I want. I probably should have established a birthday registry. Hmmm. I wonder if it’s too late.

The good thing about getting older is that you can blame everything on old age and entitlement. If I fall asleep at my desk, it’s because of old age. If I happen to put a ton of items in my shopping cart and accidentally leave without paying, I can blame that on old age. If your name is Sharon and I walk around calling you names like Rehoboth or Missouri and then swear that those were the names you gave me when we met and then refer you to your own birth certificate for verification, chalk that up to old age as well. Although I know that I’m nowhere near the age where I can just say whatever I want and get away it, I’ve certainly been getting in some good practice over the past few years. So far, I’ve only gotten two black eyes, a busted lip, and a three-week suspension from work. Hey, you live and you learn. But when I’m 65, a lot of people are going to get a real piece of my mind! Who knows? Maybe I’ll be the next Andy Rooney.

Speaking of birthdays, I recently took my annual trip to Gatlinburg, TN to help one of my buddies celebrate his big day, which is also in October. Each year he rents a log cabin in the mountains and invites a handful of friends out to drink, play cards, drink, sightsee, drink, have intelligent conversation, drink, watch movies, and occasionally have a drink to break up all the monotonous drinking. As usual, I had a great time and the scenery is absolutely beautiful this time of year because the leaves are changing colors, and there is nothing but trees as far as the eye can see, which means none of the basic necessities for human survival are nearby like Starbucks, Macy’s or J.C. Penny. Yes, I had withdrawals, and I know that if I had stayed just one more day, I probably wouldn’t have lived to write this story—I mean blog.

Unfortunately, during the trip I was viciously attacked by a huge insect that was impersonating a twig. I mean, this creature looked as if it could have been a fill-in for one of the dinosaurs on Jurassic Park. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little bit, but I’m pretty sure the thing would have launched an attack on me if one of my buddies hadn’t risked his life to save mine. Actually, the incident is kind of foggy now because after I spotted the insect, I did a very manly scream, and then promptly passed out. When I recovered, I was lying face down on the wooden floor and my buddy—also known as my hero—was escorting the bug out the door with a pool stick. I’d never been more grateful in my entire life—except for maybe that one time when Britney Spears hired me to be a backup dancer to her backup backup dancers. All I need is like 30 of them to get sick or injured at the same time and I’ll finally get my big break!!!

Each year the group goes into town and takes old-timey photos where we’re dressed up as gangster mob bosses. For some, it’s their favorite part of the trip. For me, it’s the most dreaded. First, because we’re acting as if we’re mobsters, the photographers always tell us not to smile. Apparently, people with names like Bugsy, Hachette, or Bullet Tooth aren’t supposed to show any signs of happiness. Unfortunately, I fail at this every year. Even when I believe I’ve positioned my face in a manner to look the most ferocious and hardcore I’ve ever been in my entire life, I always end up appearing as though I’m smiling for a Colgate commercial. Second, because I’m one of the shortest people in the group, I’m always put in the front, which emphasizes the fact that I’m the only grinning gangster and that I don’t know how to hold a tommy gun properly. I’m typically the only one who needs a tutorial. For everyone else, it comes naturally. When the pictures are finally printed, the fellas just shake their heads. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and tell them that I’ll try to do better next year after I practice making mean faces and watch a few more episodes of “The Wire.”

In closing, I’m very excited about the opportunity to use my birthday as a fresh start. 32 is my year. This will be the year that I get this so-called life together. This will be the year that I start being more productive. This year will be the year that I finish the alleged novel. This will be the year that I stop waiting until the last minute to start my homework assignments. And this will be the year that I finally pay off that library fine I was charged 12 years ago. Who knows? Maybe this will be the year that I save up enough money to settle down and purchase a spouse. Yes, this will be the year that Michael Rochelle single handedly takes over the world!!! And if not this year, then certainly next year or the one after that!!!

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
Add me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.rochelle1

40 Acres And A Michael

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Sep• 27•11

As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t done a blog posting in a few weeks—ok, a month. During this period, I know that most of you probably cried and rolled across your living room floors wondering how on earth you’d survive without your Michael fix. Wait. Before you lash out at me, let me explain. I had several valid reasons for my blog posts being missing in action. Just hear me out. First, I’ve been in hiding, and for a very good reason. Although I have no problem buying six lattes or twenty-five shirts in one afternoon, I absolutely refuse to spend $18 on a haircut. There’s no way. I just won’t do it. I have morals. To sit in a barbershop for hours while waiting for some drunken guy to come at my head with a razor is just not my idea of a good time.

That noted, two weeks ago, I was just a tad bit overzealous while trying to cut my own hair. Although I thought it looked great while I was trimming away at my hairline, when I was done I realized that the right side of my head looked like I’d been robbed. There was about 40 acres of wide-open space where my hairline should have been, giving my round head a more asymmetrical look, kind of like Gumby. Of course, I panicked. I tried to glue some of my hair back on, but it just wouldn’t work. I prayed about it, but I just kept being forwarded to voicemail. I even called the hair restoration people, but the folks at Hair Club for Men said that they don’t specialize in miracles and there is only so much even they can do.

Thinking that I’d found a quick fix, I went into work the next morning with my head held high. Unfortunately, the management team wasn’t too happy to see my new wig or the wind machine I had installed at my desk to make it appear my hair was always blowing in the wind. In all fairness, the fan was kind of making a lot of noise. And it did take up a lot of space when we had that meeting about cost cutting in one of the conference rooms later that afternoon. You should have seen the fiasco it caused. Papers were flying everywhere. Now that I think about it, it was probably the moment that one of my note cards flew out of my hand and landed on the CEO’s forehead during his speech that really sent everyone over the edge.

Since the wig and wind machine were perhaps a bit over the top, I came up with the brilliant idea to just wear a big pair of sunglasses on top of my head as a distraction. Ironically, although no one questioned my wearing the wig, everyone wanted to know why I needed sunglasses since it was raining outside. When I admitted that I’d had an unfortunate incident with a pair of renegade clippers, everyone immediately began trying to figure out what was wrong. “Oh, I see it. One eyebrow is way up and the other one is way down,” said one coworker as he laughed and pointed. “But I didn’t do anything to my eyebrows,” I said as I quickly ran to the restroom to see what I could do to cover them up too. If I’d still had the wig, I probably would have given myself some nice bangs to do the trick.

Honestly, I admit that contacting the FBI to see if they could put me in some form of hairless protection program may have been a bit extreme. I mean, there are more important things going on in the world, like Chaz Bono’s debut on Dancing With The Stars, or maybe even the upcoming presidential election. So, when that same coworker playfully snatched my sunglasses off my head and ran away with them, I fought the instinct to dart under my desk. Instead, I put a Target bag on my head and went on with my day. Unfortunately, all the red circles and dots drew a lot of extra attention, making me an easy target—get it, Target? I crack myself up. I really should be paid for this sort of thing.

Anyway, it was around about the time that the bag made my head started sweating profusely that I decided to embrace the mistake and just go with it. I didn’t need a bag over my head or a wig to hide beneath. I’m a human being and I made a mistake. It happens to the best of us, right? The hair would eventually grow back—I hoped. And even though I knew my hair had more bald spots and patches than a quilt, again I held my head high right up until my supervisor looked me over, frowned, and said, “I don’t see anything wrong with it. Your hair always looks like that.” Umm, maybe I should reevaluate this whole avoiding the barber thing after all.

In addition to my hiding out, another reason I neglected to post anything was because I typically post on Mondays and one of those Mondays was a holiday. I’m sure that no one really wanted to sit at home on Labor Day and read my blog on their own time when it’s so much more fun to read it at work when you’re on company time. On your own personal time, my blog is just another blog. But on company time, my blog becomes an experience as it practically leaps right off the page and does a little dance on your desk, giving you a break from pretending to analyze spreadsheets or review reports. See, I didn’t do it for me. I took time off for you.

The final reason my postings have been late is because school started for me the last week of August. I’ve been alternating between studying and crying ever since. Yes, my summer—and my life, for that matter—is officially over. Gone are the days of me simply going home and going to sleep right after work and not waking up until the following morning like the grandpa I am. Gone are the hours of me throwing things at the TV during episodes of “The Bachelorette” or “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” Instead, now I have to pretend to be a responsible adult because I have numerous chapters to read, multiple questions to answer, and many quizzes to take. I miss the days when the first few weeks of school were laid back. Nowadays, you’re lucky if your teacher doesn’t give a final exam on the first day. Now that we’ve addressed my absence and I’ve provided you with the logic behind it, will you forgive me? In order to make it up to you, I’m offering free haircuts to my readers for the next two weeks. I know that I messed up my own hair, but if you allow me to practice on you, I’m sure I’ll get better. Now, who wants to go first?

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
Add me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.rochelle1

I Feel The Earth Quake Under My Feet

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Aug• 29•11

This past Tuesday, I was sitting at my desk at work, minding my own business, when the floor suddenly began to shake. It was so subtle at first that I thought someone was walking really hard down the hallway. You know those people who weigh like ten pounds so they have to stomp everywhere they go so that their presence can be felt? I had a manager who used to do that. The good thing about her was that she never caught us doing anything we weren’t supposed to be doing. We always knew when she was coming, which gave us ample time to run to our desks, minimize Facebook, pull up a random spreadsheet, and begin staring at it as if we were analyzing something important. We’d hear the stomping, and ten minutes later, she’d arrive. I often wondered why her feet hadn’t revolted against her in protest. I certainly would have. But I digress.

Ironically, when I turned to see who was walking hard enough to shake my chair, there actually was a manager of another department heading toward me. Just as I was about to ask her why she was walking so hard, I noticed that she’d stopped moving, but the floor hadn’t. Logically, at first I thought that maybe she’d just had a big lunch, and the floor was simply adjusting to the fact that she’d chosen to eat several burritos in one sitting. My next thought was that she’d probably been promoted again and her first big challenge was to shake things up a bit—starting with me. However, when the cube walls, the potted plants, and my stapler began to shake a little more intensely, we both realized that this could mean only one thing: We were having an earthquake.

In hindsight, if there are cameras at my job, I’m glad the management team didn’t leak the footage of our earthquake reactions to the press. If they had, I would have been one of those people on the nightly news that make viewers throw pork chops at the screen while yelling, “You’re in the middle of an earthquake! Why aren’t you running? Why are you still sitting in front of that computer while pieces of the ceiling and light fixtures are launching themselves at your head? Sure, you may get hit with a few cinder blocks in order to get the work done, but you’re still going to be ranked average on your next performance review. Dummy!”

Honestly, running or hiding under my desk were the last thoughts that came to mind. Instead, I was overtaken by a sense of wonder: This is what an earthquake feels like. Very rumbly, if you ask me. Not really frightening, though. That noted, when the manager asked “Is this an earthquake?” as calmly as she would have asked a cashier at Wal-Mart if batteries were on sale this week, it seemed rather appropriate. Oh, and another reason I didn’t freak out is because I’m a big, strong man. There was no way I was embarrassing myself by screaming and running through the office while everyone else was all calm—at least not again. Don’t judge me. That was a very big cricket that one time. All in all, I think I handled the earthquake pretty well, but I’m certainly not looking forward to the next one. Let’s just say I won’t be placing any orders for one off Amazon or eBay any time soon.

Because of the earthquake, I now think everything that moves is due to the earthquake. If a book falls on the floor, I blame it on an earthquake. If my stomach starts to rumble, I think it’s an earthquake. If my car runs out of gas, it’s probably because of an earthquake. Completely reasonable, right? Since the quake, I randomly find myself thinking that I feel the ground moving. Of course, this gets me all excited and I ask the nearest stranger if they feel it too. They never do. Then, when I start shaking them hysterically because I think they’re lying, they often call the police and put out restraining orders against me. It’s not my fault though. I mean, I’ve been through something very traumatic, and it’s normal to be a tad bit distraught. Anyway, my team of shrinks say that I shouldn’t worry too much about it. My newly increased dosage of medication will ensure that I feel nothing else for a really long time. What a relief.

And just when I was getting used to my new status as an earthquake victim, the weatherman began reporting that Hurricane Irene was due to hit us before the week was out. Great, I thought. I had survived the earthquake just to have my house blown around as if I were from Kansas and my name was Toto or something. Because my mother had advised me to get an emergency kit together so that I could survive a few days if I didn’t have access to electricity, I bought a pack of Oreo cookies and some Doritos to snack on during the downtime. Neither required the use of a microwave or a stove so I knew they were good choices. I didn’t bother wasting money on water because I figured I’d be able to just set a couple glasses outside while it was raining and then I’d have my few days’ worth of water after I removed the leaves and other debris that may have fallen in. See how smart I am?

When the hurricane arrived Saturday night, I had the usual fears that any normal person would have during such an event. I wondered if my cable would go out. I wondered if trees in the area would fall on my apartment or my car, or worse, on Kohl’s. Because of this, I prayed that all the shirts in stock would be safe. I tried to sleep through it, but the winds were too heavy and often sounded like a train approaching—or like that manager who started the earthquake. As much as we’d been warned to stay away from the windows, I couldn’t help but look out into the darkness, which was very unnerving. The trees were bent unnaturally and I wondered how much more pressure from the wind they could take. I then imagined something random—like a book or a French fry—coming through the window and hitting me in the head. The thought made me quickly run to my bed and duck my head under the covers to wait for things to blow over—no pun intended.

Surprisingly, I woke up the next morning to the sound of my TV still playing in the background. Naturally, I thought I had died. My power and cable have gone out for everything from birds flying by, to me not paying my bills; there was no way we’d endured hurricane-force winds and neither service had been disrupted. Had we? Was I in heaven? If so, it looked a lot like my apartment. I slowly walked over to the same window that I’d darted from the night before. Besides leaves being everywhere, you would have never known that we’d just been through yet another natural disaster. My car was still there and so was Kohl’s. I rejoiced. In one week, I’d survived an earthquake and a hurricane. As the sun peaked out from behind the clouds, I knew it was going to be a good day. Wait, what’s this I hear about a tornado!!!

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
Add me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.rochelle1

Lights, Camera, Kidney

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Aug• 22•11

You’ll never guess where I am right now—no, I’m not at Kohl’s. How dare you assume such a thing! I told you that I’m through with shopping! I haven’t been to Kohl’s in over two hours! But I digress. Obviously, based on when you’re reading this, I may no longer be sitting here—hopefully. Nevertheless, I’m at the last place I’d expect to be so soon after just being here a few weeks ago. Nope, I’m not at the dentist. But if you happened to guess that I’m back at the Merchant Tire and Auto shop where I recently paid $1,800 in repairs on my car that has not yet reached 68,000 miles, you’d be absolutely right. If I had the resources, I’d give you a prize for guessing accurately. Matter of fact, do you take food stamps? Oh well, I tried.

The other night, as I made my way home from a birthday party in DC, my tire pressure warning light came on. That always freaks me out as I immediately expect all four of my tires to burst simultaneously and send me careening off the side of a cliff, even though there really aren’t many cliffs in the area. Just as I began to grip the steering wheel tightly in preparation for what I was sure to come, the maintenance required indicator came on as well. I hadn’t seen that many flashing lights since the Fourth of July. If my life hadn’t been at stake, I may have even enjoyed the little show my car’s dashboard was putting on.

The following morning, after having only three hours of sleep, I got up super early to head over to the repair shop. After I arrived, I explained the issue to the same service guy who had checked my car in less than a month ago. He then asked, “Despite the maintenance required and tire pressure lights being on, is everything else good with the car?” I just stared at him. That was like asking someone if they’re in good health despite having a broken arm, a broken leg, and then losing their right kidney on aisle three at Giant.

Maybe it was my fault for not making the story more creative. I probably should have told him how the incident helped me find my religion due to all the praying I’d done that the car would not leave me stranded in the middle of DC somewhere. Trust me, at three in the morning, nothing and no one look safe—not even the police. Everything and everybody are suspicious at that hour. Even the 7-Elevens looked menacing as I pondered whether to pull into one of their parking lots to take a look under the hood. It was then that I remembered that I knew nothing about cars, so I opted against it. I mean, if I did somehow manage to eventually distinguish the windshield wiper from the engine, what would I do then? My point exactly.

Anyway, after I took a seat in the customer waiting area of the repair shop to await the verdict, the service guy asked if the warning lights were on when I picked up the car after my first service appointment. OK, I have a few problems with that question. First, after performing almost two thousand dollars in repairs on my car, why would the mechanics return the car to me if there were service lights still on? I mean, what else could the car have possibly wanted or needed after having so much work done? A new air freshener?

Second, after having to sacrifice my first-born puppy to pay for the cost of repairs, did the service guy really think that I would have just driven off without mentioning all the warning messages flashing if they had been on when I picked up the car after the first appointment? Now I may not be the most vocal person in the world, but if I actually threatened the manager that I’d call Barbara Walters to investigate whether the repairs were really necessary or not during my first visit, chances are, I would have probably mentioned the service lights—especially since they weren’t on when I dropped the car off. In any case, here I am, trying to remain calm, sitting directly beneath a sign guaranteeing me nothing less than excellent repair service. How ironic!

In other news, I recently received an email from my school, the University of Baltimore, stating that they’d launched a completely new website. As some of you may remember from my November 2010 blog entry, “Hey, You Can Always Just Drop Out,” the faculty had chosen me to represent the class of 2010 graduates on their original website. Though I absolutely hated the picture they’d chosen to use—I guess it’s not their fault that the picture they took of me actually looked like me instead of Denzel Washington or Brad Pitt as I’d requested—I frantically searched the website hoping that it was still there. It wasn’t. My reign was over. I’d been replaced by photos of scenic views of the city and smiling students that they did manage to somehow make look like Brad and Denzel—even if they were girls.

Although I originally sued the school for misrepresentation due to their publishing an accurate photo of what I looked at the time without bothering to Photoshop or at least airbrushing it a little, I have to admit that my image no longer being there feels like I’ve been voted off the island and obviously won’t be invited back for the next season. Hey, maybe I’m the new Charlie Sheen. I tear up a little when I think of having to walk the halls of the school and not have anyone recognize me from having my picture on the website anymore. Worst of all, I’ll no longer be able to use the photo as proof that I actually went to college to take classes and didn’t just stop by one day to use the restroom. Well, because I saved a copy of the photo, I’ll always have the option of using it to market myself on Match.com or eHarmony. If I use that picture, at least I’ll know that my suitors will want me for my brain and not my overwhelmingly good looks or my six-pack abs and biceps that I purchased from eBay.

Before closing this entry out, I have to admit that there have been numerous inquiries in regard to the photo I posted for last week’s entry. People have asked what I was singing, who I was singing too, and who had to endure the cruel and inhumane punishment of having to be in the same room with me to take the pictures of the performance. While I won’t completely kill the mystery by sharing all of my secrets regarding the alleged performance, I will officially say that no one was hurt during the photo shoot in any way. There was no crying, no bleeding ears, and no broken glasses or windows due to the screeching of my voice during the concert. That noted, you can all stop calling in various tips to the crime stoppers hotline. If the police search my apartment one more time this week, I think I’ll go crazy—OK, crazier.

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
Add me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.rochelle1

Michael Rochelle Is Not Chris Brown, But He Is A Firework!!!

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Aug• 15•11

People say that I look like Chris Brown. Then again, since I’m considerably older than he is, I guess it’s safe to say that he looks like me. Contrary to popular belief, not all of the individuals who made this observation were drunk. In fact, a few of those individuals were my coworkers, and they’ve said it while we were at work—well, that doesn’t really prove that they weren’t drunk, does it? In any case, I’m pretty sure that the little six or seven-year-old-boy wasn’t drunk that day he ran yelling, “Chris Brown is here” through a shoe store after spotting me in one of the aisles. It was barely one o’clock in the afternoon, so it was way too early for him to have already had a few nips by then. Besides, I would hope that his parents would have encouraged him to wait until a more appropriate age before consuming alcohol—like ten. Actually, nine and a half is probably a more realistic age. After all, that’s when I started.

Because of the little boy’s announcement that I—I mean Chris Brown was in the store, people came running over to where I was as if someone had said there was a blue-light special in that aisle. Instead, they found me, the discount version of a celebrity. I still remember the look of disappointment on the faces of the crowd as they realized I was a fraud. I’m surprised I wasn’t stoned right there in the men’s shoe department. Instead, the little boy’s mother hit me as if it was somehow my fault that her son had gotten confused. I mean, it wasn’t as if I were moonwalking through the store in a pair of new orthopedic shoes or anything. I was just minding my own business, trying to innocently buy shoes that I neither needed nor could afford. The woman yelled, “Boy, that ain’t no damn Chris Brown,” as she yanked her son toward her. As they left the aisle, I yelled, “But I have a blog.” However, it was too late. The damage had already been done. There was nothing I could do to fix it.

Honestly, I can understand why there would be a tad bit of confusion between Chris Brown and me. I mean, we’re both strapping young lads. We both have mothers. We both have been potty trained. And even though it may be for completely different reasons, whenever either one of us goes to the mall, there’s a chance that security may need to be involved. Of course, because of his music and because of my blog, we will both one day sit down with Oprah and humbly explain how we never really wanted all the fame, and that all we really want is to be treated like normal people. Although I didn’t really see the similarities at first, I must admit that if you turn off all the lights, squint a little bit, and then covers yours eyes, we’re practically twins. Pretty cool, huh? Despite all of that, I promise to remain modest and not allow myself to get a big head. Well, maybe just a little bit. After all, I do look like Chris Brown. Six year olds agree.

Speaking of music, I find it amazing how a simple song can become the soundtrack of our lives. After not jumping on the bandwagon last year when the song was popular, the other day I finally took a listen to “Firework” by Katy Perry and now I’m hooked. Whenever I’m feeling down and out, I can hear Katy singing, “Baby, you’re a firework / Come on, show ’em what you’re worth / Make ’em go, oh, oh, oh / As you shoot across the sky, ah, ah.” Well, I haven’t exactly managed to shoot across the sky just yet, but I have learned to move swiftly across my living room. Oh, and you should see me wearing one of those shirts that shoots sparks like Katy wore in the video. The shirt probably should have come with some form of warning or something so that I wouldn’t have accidentally set my couch on fire or singed all the hair off my right arm. It’s OK though. If I just keep practicing, soon I’ll be quite the flamer.

Moving right along, have you ever received what you though was a compliment but then had to later reevaluate the statement to see if the remark was really a good thing. Well, the other day a new buddy said, “You look good for 31.” My being the polite Michael that I am, I thanked him and moved on to the next topic. However, moments later my 31-year-old brain caught on and translated the message to mean that my buddy thought I looked good considering that I’m an antique. He might as well have said, “You look decent for someone who only has a few good years left. I wouldn’t make any long-term plans if I were you unless they involve funeral plots.” In addition to that wonderful comment, recently I’ve also been told that I look like a cheesesteak, my face is “fluffy,” and I’d be considered fat in some cultures. Moments like those make me happy that I have a team of shrinks on call at all times. If I didn’t have Dr. Dre and Dr. Spock, I don’t know what I would do with myself. I wonder if this sort of thing ever happens to Chris Brown. Hmmm.

Lastly, although I don’t typically do movie reviews or plugs on my blog, as a writer, sometimes I’m exposed to something that evokes so much emotion that I’d be remiss to not at least mention it. This past weekend I went to see “The Help” with a few of my friends. It was the first movie that ever made me laugh and cry in one sitting. For the record, because I’m so macho and manly, I didn’t allow any of my buddies to see the tears falling, but there definitely were tears. Actually, this isn’t going to be so much of a review of “The Help” as it is a huge nod of respect and appreciation for those that came before me who risked so much so that I, as an African American, can have a better quality of life. Sometimes it’s good to have a reminder that life wasn’t always as easy—relatively—as it is for us now.

Since the movie was about a writer struggling to tell a story from the perspective of Black maids who worked in Mississippi during the 60s, I was able to relate to the subject matter on several different levels. Of course, I’ve never experienced life as a maid, but the idea that about 50 short years ago, simply because of the color of my skin, I would have had to find a back entrance marked “colored” just to shop or to eat at a restaurant is unthinkable. To know that the freedoms I have today—to read, to write these words, to be educated, to enter through the front door of an establishment, to not sit in the back of the bus—weren’t given simply because I’m a human being and worthy of equality, but instead only given because people risked their lives fighting for that freedom, is a concept that is completely unfathomable to me. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that there had to be a civil rights movement to end legal and blatant racial discrimination.

I also identified with the movie’s theme of having something to say or needing to get something out but being too afraid to share it—kind of how I feel about writing these very words, a huge departure from the humorous messages that have gotten me the readers I have. For the record, I am not bitter. I’m not an angry Black man. It’s just that certain parts of my ancestry make me sad and uncomfortable, but that is not the point of these words. This message is to pay homage to all of the individuals who played a part in me being able to sit here at this table in Barnes and Noble. This message is to show respect for those who took steps to ensure that I’d be able to go to the school of my choosing and pursue the opportunities of my desire. This message is a nod to those who fought for me to have the ability to unintentionally arrive to work two minutes late when at one time I could have been fired, beaten, or worse for simply eating from the wrong dish, using the wrong toilet, or having an opinion. This is my way of showing appreciation for the people who made it possible for me not to have ever seen the words “coloreds” or “white’s only” at a public establishment in my lifetime thus far. This is for who I consider to be the original human resources team. We take so many things for granted. Better yet, I take so many things for granted. To the named and unnamed, this is me sending many thanks and many tears for the plight of all those individuals throughout history that felt that we mattered—that I matter. Thank you.


Michael Rochelle
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