Hypothetically Speaking . . .

. . . . . . . . Because Humor Matters

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
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 Severe Case Of Dental Distress

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Aug• 08•11

OK, it’s official. I’m never going to the dentist again—ever! No matter how much brushing and flossing I do, I consistently leave feeling like a complete failure. Somehow, the verdict is always that I need to floss more. However, the only way I could possibly do that is if I flossed in public while at church or while in the checkout line at Target. During every visit, the dental hygienist makes it seem as though I’m intentionally neglecting my teeth, and I should be taken out back and flogged repeatedly. If you let her tell it, you would think that my teeth were about to leap right out of my mouth at any given moment and make a run for the border where they’ll find someone who’ll take better care of them. I haven’t felt that much shame since my parents last pulled out that check list of their hopes and dreams for me and compared it to who I turned out to be. Not a single check mark. Not even one.

What I don’t think the dental office staff understands is that I’m a human being with real feelings and emotions. If you cut me, will I not bleed? If you poke me, will I not laugh? If you flip the switch in the center of my back, will I not turn off? That noted, I will never be able to floss my own teeth with the same force and determination as the hygienist does it. There is just no way. I mean, sometimes they are wiggling that string back and forth with enough intensity to make me think the floss will actually slice right through my gum and split my head in two before they realize they’re doing it just a tad bit too hard.

In my opinion, they should really have some form of safe word or something so that we could let them know when the pain is just too much to bear because all the blood, tears, and screams don’t seem to be working. Actually, you would think that my ripping the arm off the dentist chair that one time would have given them some form of hint, but nope. They just pried it from my hand and kept right on sawing away at my poor defenseless gums. So, in order to keep the peace and to not be charged for destruction of property for damaging another dental chair, I’ve decided that either they’re going to have to put me to sleep during my next cleaning, or I’m just not going to show up. I mean, who needs teeth anyway? They are so overrated. If we need our food cut up, that’s what we have knives for.

To add insult to injury, after having to be revived due to all of the blood lost during my last cleaning, the hygienist had the nerve to tell me that I’d need to cut down on my soda consumption. Apparently, having five or six Cokes a day is too much. She might as well have just lopped off my right arm and let it fall to the floor so it could flop around the room for a while. If you ask me, that would have certainly been more reasonable. And just when I was getting use to the idea of having to drink water—yuck—she attacked my sacred place: she told me to cut back on coffee due to the sugar content. Out of reflex, my left hand reached out to strike her in self-defense. Fortunately for her—and for my lawyer who is busy working on all my other pending cases—I missed. So, it’s not so much that I don’t want to go to the dentist, it’s really that I’ve been banned nationwide until further notice, and I have to remain at least 50 feet away from all dental offices and their employees for the time being. Fine with me.

And before I forget, the other day I was minding my own business at the pool when I struck up a conversation with two of my female neighbors. There I stood in just my trunks, legs still peeling from the sunburn fiasco of two weeks ago, when one of the ladies asked if I was single. I panicked because I knew where the conversation was going. I was about to be set up on a blind date. According to them, I have a nice temperament and my bird chest didn’t make them want to barf or anything. Of course, I declined, but I couldn’t have been prouder of myself for still being marketable. That’s right, I’ve still got it. For the rest of the day, I sucked in my stomach and poked out my chest just that much more. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any other offers. Actually, I’m lying because there was a dog that kind of took to me as I strolled back to my apartment. However, I told him that it just wasn’t going to work out no matter how much he humped my leg or sniffed my butt. I’m just not that type of guy.

And on a serious note . . .

On Tuesday, August 2nd, the 1997 graduating class of Northumberland High School, of which I am a part, lost our second classmate, Calvin Rudolph Redmond, who drowned while trying to help a friend who had fallen into rapidly moving water while crabbing in our home town. Honestly, I hadn’t seen or spoken to Calvin in the 14 years since we graduated—wow, 14 years. In any case, Calvin was the epitome of everything that I wasn’t in high school. He was cool. He was a jock. He played football and basketball. He was voted best looking, etc., etc., etc. Me, on the other hand, I wasn’t voted best anything. I was quiet. I didn’t play any sports. And if people knew who I was, it wasn’t for a good reason. In fact, until my senior year, I was that weird guy who ate lunch by himself and wore his father’s jacket in 90-degree weather because it made him feel secure. Yes, I was that guy.

During my senior year, I had a photography/ceramics class with Calvin. For some reason, our teacher had assigned seats, and I was seated at the same table with Calvin and another jock, named Kenny, who was just as popular as Calvin was. Had I been given the choice, due to my insecurity at the time, I probably would have chosen any other table but theirs. In fact, the supply closet would have been preferable to my sitting there with them two. Before even knowing them, I’d already prejudged and decided that it was going to be a bad experience. I just knew it.

Despite our differences and my preconceived ideas, both Calvin and Kenny turned out to be some of the coolest guys I’d met throughout high school. We talked. We laughed. They called me Roach. For once, I was one of the guys and not just some outsider. At no point did I feel different or lesser because I wasn’t athletically inclined or good with the females. Never. That year I made two true friends, and although I do keep in touch with Kenny every now and then, I lost touch with Calvin and I regret it terribly. What those guys did for me by accepting me for who I was at the time helped me to continue breaking out of my shell and to eventually become the person I believe I was meant to be all along. Although I’m a writer, I can’t even put into words the impact they had on my life by simply just being awesome individuals.

I will miss Calvin dearly, and I will always regret my not trying to keep the lines of communication open. Calvin was so loved that his funeral was held at the high school on Saturday, August 6th, in order to accommodate the number of people who attended. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one Calvin touched throughout his 32 years of life. I mention all of this in hopes that you, my readers, will use my experience as a motivating factor for you to take advantage of today because tomorrow isn’t promised. Tell people how you feel—as long as it’s positive and constructive. Let people know that you love and appreciate them while they are here. And if someone touches you in a special way and helps you to grow as a person, have the courage to do what I didn’t do with Calvin and let them know.

Rest in peace, Calvin Redmond. No one truly knows what happens in death, but I’d like to think that you know how much you meant to me as a person. It gives me a little bit of closure to think that maybe you were the reason there were so many rainbows in the sky yesterday.

Your friend,

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
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You Give An Inch, They Take Your Car

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Jul• 29•11

Back in the early 1800s, when I was about 19, my grandmother gave me a five-gallon water bottle for me to use to save change in. Like a good little grandson, after she gave it to me, I completely stopped spending coins and put every single cent I received in the bottle. Even if I had a pocket full of pennies and my bill came to $3.01, I would still give the clerk $4 just to get change back so that I could save it. Matter of fact, I’ve had a few knock out, drag out fights with various store clerks who have offered to give me a penny or two so they wouldn’t have to count out ninety-some cents. I always declined. “I need the change because it’s laundry day,” I’d always say, even though it was a complete lie. Hey, don’t judge me! Yes, I lied, but only because I had a goal to follow my poor, old granny’s wishes. Doesn’t that count for something? Oh, and don’t tell Granny I called her old. Let’s just keep that between you and me.

Well, fast forward 12 years and the water bottle was almost full. In fact, when I moved a year ago, the movers, who had no problems lifting the sofa or the dressers, complained about the weight of the bottle. One of them even threatened to sue me for undue stress. Fortunately, because it was so hot that day, I was able to bribe him with some cold water, and he dropped the charges that he’d filed with his iPhone. I didn’t even know there was an app for that. Anyway, thinking that I could pay off a few of my credit cards, and maybe splurge on a new shirt or two, I began to ferociously roll the coins so that I could take them to the bank. It was like having a part time job. I’d get home from work, throw on a bad Netflix movie or two, and start rolling.

After a week or so, I’d rolled over half the coins in the bottle. My living room looked as if a piggy bank had exploded right there next to the coffee table. Poor Porky. Although I can confirm that no piggy banks were actually harmed during the writing of this blog, maybe we should have a moment of silence out of respect for all the other piggy banks that weren’t so lucky this year. Now would be a good time for someone to break out into song and sing “Gone Too Soon,” or “End of the Road.” Do I have any volunteers? Seriously, I think Porky would want it this way.

At that point I had rolled $910 in quarters, $90 in dimes, $36 in nickels, and $21 in pennies. It was as if I’d won the lottery. Immediately, I called my travel agent to make plans to go to Disney World. However, when I was told that I didn’t even have enough money to cover the flight, I snapped back into reality and decided to go with the original plan and pay off some bills. Feeling pleased with myself, I took the quarters and dimes, which were all that I was willing to carry with my 31-year-old arms that were no longer under warranty, and I practically skipped all the way to the bank. After making my $1,000 deposit, I came up with the brilliant idea to head to Merchant Tire and Auto to get my 65,000 mile maintenance done for my car. I mean, if I could treat myself to a few new shirts, the least I could do was treat my car to some new oil or something.

After getting my car checked in, I asked the WONDRFUL guy at the front counter how long the service would take. “A long time,” he replied, without even a hint of a smile. I should have known then that I was in trouble. Because I hate to ask people for help, I opted to call a cab to take me home while I waited for my car instead of calling one of my friends. Ten minutes into the cab ride I learned the value of a true friend when the meter hit $25. Do you know how many caramel lattes I could have gotten for $25? About five. Yes, I counted. I may have teared up just a little bit when I handed over the money, but because I’m a man and being a man requires a healthy display of manliness every now and then, I slammed the cab door in protest when I got out. How dare that driver cut into my coffee fund!

About an hour after I’d gotten home, the phone rang. It was Merchant Tire. When the guy asked if I was ready, I knew the verdict wasn’t good. Reluctantly, I asked, “What’s wrong with the car?” After he repeated my question back to me—another bad sign—the guy went into a speech longer than The Gettysburg Address. No lie, at one point I could have sworn he said “four score and seven years ago.” Five minutes later, after learning that I needed everything from new tires to new locks and door handles—basically a new car—the total came to over $1,800. I could have crapped on myself right there in the middle of my kitchen while wearing my Sponge Bob boxers.

After having a bit of a conniption fit that involved me pulling out my hair, sliding down the kitchen wall, throwing a dish or two, and rolling around the floor, I did what any rational person would do: I planned a bank heist. Fortunately, when I couldn’t find a ski mask to match my boxers, I canceled the plan. I mean, what would happen if I got caught? Can you imagine me in an orange jump suit? And although I’ve done a couple push-ups over the past year or so, I don’t know how well I’d fit in with all the other inmates. I mean, what if they don’t like my blog? And what if they don’t like my Scooby Doo pajamas with the matching slippers? Obviously, that would be my biggest concern. The rest would be a piece of cake—I think.

In any case, the moral of this story is, don’t save. Every single time I save a little money, some random expense comes along to offset everything I’ve set aside. Notice that my car didn’t need repairs until AFTER I’d deposited the money into the bank. See what I mean? And if it isn’t car repairs, then it’s a cable bill, or your hamster dies and suddenly you have to pay the funeral costs, which aren’t cheap by any means. Some have said that I should be grateful that I had the money to fix my car. Instead, I’m grateful for having friends and readers like you that I can simply ask for the money when the next “emergency” pops up. Matter of fact, I see that Kohl’s is having a sale this weekend. Oh, I feel an emergency coming on!!! You wouldn’t let me down, would you?

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
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See, What Had Happened Was…

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Jul• 20•11

There are only a few things in this life that I thought I’d always be able to depend on: my parents, American Idol, taxes, and Starbucks. This past weekend I learned differently. On Sunday, a travesty of monumental proportions took place. I mean, it’s one of those things that happens and makes you reevaluate everything you thought you knew, believed, and stood for. Matter of fact, I get a little choked up just writing about it. But alas, my readers demand complete honesty and full disclosure from me. Besides the 98% of my life that I keep private and the 2% that I embellish, sincerity is exactly what I give. And if you can’t rely on me, who can you rely on? That noted, from now on, let 7/17/11 go down in history as the day I, Michael Rochelle, was asked to leave Starbucks. Barbara Walters, I am available for interviews, and I’m ready for my close-up.

See, what had happened was, a buddy of mine and I were minding our own businesses at a table in the Starbucks section of the local Barnes & Noble when the incident occurred. I’d gotten my usual Venti Mocha Coconut Frappuccino and he’d gotten some type of smoothie. After being there for about an hour or so, I was right in the middle of telling a story about myself—which I rarely ever do—when one of the Starbucks employees walked up to us and said, “Hey guys, I really need a favor. One of our other customers just bought some food and really needs a place to sit. Could you guys give up this table? You’ve been here for a while.” Of course, I was shocked and appalled.

Anyone who knows me knows that I faithfully give no less than 10% of my annual income to Starbucks. And like every weekend, I’d planned to stay and work on my blog after my buddy left. But instead, like a used diaper, I found myself tossed out into the mean streets of suburban America. Feeling lost and ashamed, I replied, “Sure, I’ll give up the table just as long as you provide that same level of service in the future when I need a place to sit. Deal?” The employee agreed. Even though it was above 90 degrees outside, I’d wished I’d worn a scarf so that I could have slung it over my shoulder, turned on my heel, and stormed out like they do in the movies. Unfortunately, I had to settle for stomping my way to the front door. I never looked back though. That’s the one thing that my mother taught me: You never look back.

Moving right along, since my last blog post, I’ve gotten a ton of feedback regarding the photo of me sitting by the pool wearing my goggles and nose piece. Apparently the verdict is that you’re not supposed to wear those types of things when you’re outside the pool. I wish someone would have bothered to have told me that sooner—especially since I wore them to the mall later that evening. I just thought all those people staring and pointing meant that they were taking note of the trend I was setting, not that they thought I was a mental case or something. Honestly, I’m just glad that when I took the picture, I didn’t zoom out far enough for everyone to see the Superman water wings and Popeye swim ring I was also wearing that day. Oh, and I won’t even mention that I was really just sitting beside my Sesame Street kiddie pool out in the parking lot of my apartment complex. I won’t even bring that up.

Speaking of things that shouldn’t be brought up, I recently learned a very valuable lesson in regard to naming and saving documents in Word. In the process of writing this blog entry, I lost the whole 2-page document due to a system glitch while I was at work. Frantic, I tried all the usual recovery methods to no avail. Before starting all over again, I decided to contact our IT department as a last resort in hopes that they had some magical powers that would bring my document back pronto. After doing a little troubleshooting, the IT person asked me for the name of the document. I panicked. How could I tell this IT professional that the document I was searching for was called “Three Monkeys And A Tatter Tot Take A Trip To The Mall,” or “Geez, My Teeth Sure Feel Furry.” Granted, I’d done the writing while I was off the clock, but I still felt guilty and went into this whole explanation about how the document really was work related and how obvious it was that I was using “monkeys” and “tatter tot” as secret code to keep the message confidential. I hope she believed me. So, if the next blog entry is titled “Accounting Invoice” or “Business Meeting,” you’ll know why.

In other news, I’ve decided to get out and be more social. Apparently, there is a lot to be seen outside the walls of my apartment. Because of this, I’ve been introduced to some really interesting characters. For instance, one Friday night, at 3 in the morning, I was sitting with a friend at a table outside a restaurant in DC. Just as we’d finished eating, an alleged homeless guy stopped by and asked us for some change. As we fumbled around to see if we had anything to spare, out of nowhere, he burst out singing Patti Labelle’s “You Are My Friend.” When he noticed that I had a to-go box sitting on the table, he asked if he could have it. Two seconds after I handed it to him, he yelled at the top of his lungs, “What the (insert expletive here) is this (insert expletive here)?” It was as if time stopped as everyone looked in my direction to see what all the fuss was about. Again, I was shocked and appalled. I mean, I didn’t place my order with him in mind. I’ll know next time to be a little more creative when ordering my food. Who would have known that a homeless guy would be offended by being given a few chicken wings?

In closing news, when I took myself on a date with myself the other evening to see “Bad Teacher,” I ran into an artist doing sketches at the movie theater. It took all of two seconds for me to decide that I wanted to be drawn, and I would call it the Michael Lisa. People would travel the world over to see the drawing of me hanging in some art gallery or at the Smithsonian. Maybe they would even have a computer underneath my drawing so that people could access my blog while marveling at the Michael Lisa. Perhaps I’d have a few books out by then and people could look at my drawing, access my blog, and buy one of my books all in one sitting. I can just see it now. But until that day comes, I’ve posted it for my faithful readers to adore and drool over. Take advantage of it being posted now because once it’s in an art museum, I’m pretty sure there will be an admissions cost. And if not at the door, there will certainly be one to get into the Michael Lisa section of the gallery.

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
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Fish Who Wear Bikinis And Boxer Briefs To Work

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Jul• 12•11

Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t wear shorts. There are several good reasons for this. One, because my legs are so much lighter than my face and arms, each time I’ve worn shorts I’ve been arrested and questioned for possibly stealing someone else’s legs and literally walking off with them. As you know, possession is nine-tenths of the law, and there really is no way to prove that your legs are your own when you’re backed into a corner at a police station. Think about it. What would you say? Exactly. The last time Sergeant Bilco took me in for questioning, I didn’t have a leg to stand on—except for the two I’d stolen, of course.

Another reason I don’t wear shorts is that my legs often become topics for discussion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to grit my teeth and force a laugh when someone mentioned that my legs were so light they were almost transparent. In fact, the other day, I was minding my own business at the pool when a complete stranger walked up to me and said, “Here, you need this more than I do,” as he handed me a bottle of Banana Boat dark tanning oil. I admit that my legs were a little pastey that day, but I certainly didn’t think they were that bad that a random person would offer me a whole bottle of tanning oil—especially since I’d already been to the pool several times that week to darken up to that particular shade of white. The nerve of that guy!

Feeling slightly offended, I took the bottle and began spraying myself down like it was nobody’s business. If he wanted to see dark, I was going to give him dark. Four hours later, as I peeled myself off the beach chair, I realized that I might have overdone it just a tad. Apparently I’d passed the point of tanning and had entered the stage of burning. I’d wondered why I stared to hear something sizzle and begun to smell bacon. I had no idea I was the source of the sizzle and the smell. By that point I was so red and in so much pain that even the slightest breeze made me want to run home crying to my mommy. Because my legs were burnt worse than any other part of my body, I realized that it would be a few days before I’d be able to wear pants or allow anything to touch my legs again. I wonder what my job will think when I show up tomorrow in my boxer briefs. I mean, I’ll at least match them up with a nice button-down shirt. Shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll see.

As some of you may have noticed, I didn’t post anything on Monday, July 4th. Well, that weekend I’d accidentally gone on a trip to Virginia Beach with a few buddies. Because I know what my readers expect of me, although I was on a mini vacation, I did try to get the blog done during the five-hour drive to and from DC. However, it’s hard to be humorous with gangster rap blaring in the background. On the flip side, I did get to learn some very colorful words in case I ever decided to be a thug. “Ay yo, ma, what you mean I gotta clean my room, son? Yo dats wack, son.” Yeah, you have to end everything with “son.” It makes you sound more official. Obviously I’m going to need some practice, but I believe I’ll be able to pull it off eventually. And once I get really good at it, maybe I’ll be able to join 50 Cent or Lil Wayne on tour. You never know.

Another thing I was exposed to during that weekend was a fad known as planking. For those of you who don’t know what planking is, it involves a person lying face down at some random place and having their picture taken as proof that the mission had been accomplished. Granted, at my age, I can typically be found lying face down in some odd places, but I usually just call it napping. My friends, however, planked on a ledge at the gas station, on top of narrow tables at the hotel, and then wanted to plank on top of the car. When they asked me to join in, I declined. I’m just too old to grasp the point of it all. That said, if you see pictures circulating of me lying face down on the conveyor belt at Walmart or on the median strip of some highway, just know that’s the place where I probably passed out after a long day, and that I was not planking.

Speaking of being old, I think I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to have senior moments. Recently, I was trying to explain a simple concept to someone when my brain just shut down and went completely numb. It was as if I was being questioned on the laws of physics when really I was just trying to show someone how to get to the restroom. I probably set myself up for failure when I used the diagram and referred them to a flow chart when I should have just said that it was at the end of the hall. Even worse, one day last week I was trying to explain to my boss’s boss’s boss who to return a document too and I completely forgot my coworker’s name. I just stood there, like a helpless deer, saying, “Give it to…uh…you know…umm…that other guy…umm…the tall one.” I couldn’t have felt more like a heel. Fortunately, two minutes later, while I was still standing there, it came to me. “Michael. His name is Michael. Yeah, give it to Michael.” You would have thought that by us having the same name it’d be easy to remember. Apparently not.

In closing news, I now realize and fully admit that it was a bad idea for me to take my fish to the pool. I mean, it just seemed like a natural thing to do. They swim all day for gosh sakes. I just wanted to give them a slight change of scenery. Being cooped up in an aquarium all day, what type of life is that? Certainly not one that I’d want. Regardless, I did learn a few valuable lessons from the experience, though. First, it’s best if you use an SPF 15 sunscreen before taking your fish for a walk and dumping them into the pool. Second, just because they’re fish, doesn’t mean that they don’t want their own goggles and nose pieces to use when swimming too. Third, some fish like their bikini bottoms to match their tops. Who knew? And lastly, it’s a good idea to get a fish trainer to teach your fish to do as you command. It’s been three days and I’m still trying to get them out of the pool and back into their aquarium. What a bad idea!

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
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Well Slap Me And Call Me A Cardigan

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Jun• 27•11

I can’t be 100% sure, but I think I may be going through the change. Not just any change, but the change of life. Yes, that change. I know what you’re saying, “Michael, you’re just 31. You’re too young to go through the change. You haven’t even gotten your first gray hair yet. You’ve got years before you’ll go through the change.” Well that’s what I thought too. However, lately I’ve been sweating like it’s nobody’s business and I have no other reasonable explanation for it. I mean, what else could it be? I wish I could just blame it on the heat, or on the alcohol like Jamie Foxx said, but sometimes I’ll just break out into a sweat just for the sake of it, even when it’s not hot temperature-wise. So, as painful as it is for me to admit, I guess it’s best for me to be honest and upfront with you before you hear it from some other source. Hello, my name is Michael and I’m a sweater.

When I mentioned my going through the change to my doctor, he just laughed, which I thought was highly unprofessional. I would fire him, but he’s the only doctor that my medical insurance will cover within the state of Maryland. Besides, not too many doctors run their practices out of the restroom of a Texaco gas station. It’s cool that he offers a $.10 per gallon discount on gas if you fill up during your office visit. Every penny saved goes a long way in this economy. It does kind of get awkward when his other patients arrive at the same time as I do. Just last week he was checking out my sweat issues while pulling some guy’s teeth and doing some woman’s gynecological exam. I just wish he had some form of divider so that the patients couldn’t actually see each other. That woman looked super uncomfortable the whole time. Oh, and I didn’t appreciate being asked to hold one of her legs up in the air.

Anyway, like my doctor, no one else seems to be taking my being menopausal seriously either. Most of the time people just stare at me when I spring the news on them. Perhaps I should be more discreet and not bring it up during dinner or talk to random people at the bus stop about it. They just don’t understand how dire my situation is. I mean, I could be sitting there, minding my own business, and my supervisor will simply call my name and that will be the cause of a torrential downpour from my forehead, down my nose, and into my morning coffee. Then, just when I think I’m the only one aware of the situation, someone will hand me a napkin and yell, “Yuck,” which makes me sweat even more due to my embarrassment. Maybe I should be studied or something. Although menopause probably isn’t normal for a guy my age, maybe there is some form of pill or procedure I can have done. Botox? I’ll look into it.

Moving on, I’ve often wondered about my readers, who they are, how they stumbled upon the blog, and what they’re doing just before they begin reading one of my articles. I assume they aren’t driving while reading. That would be dangerous. But are my readers usually at work when they read—while on their breaks, of course? Are they making dinner and reading while waiting for the rice to boil? Maybe they read my blog as they’re having their first cup of coffee in the morning. Or, are they reading my blog as they tuck the kids in at night? Maybe my blog helps put the children to sleep. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but as long as they’re reading, I guess I’m happy.

Ironically, I got my answer the other day when a new reader informed me that he was planning to read my blog the next time he was on the toilet. Wow. Prior to him mentioning it, the idea of someone reading my blog while embarking on something so personal had never even crossed my mind. Kind of gives new meaning to the term “a crappy read.” I mean, he literally reaches for my blog and then reaches for the Charmin. Honestly, I can’t tell you how excited this revelation made me. I, Michael Rochelle, have now made it into the bathrooms of the American public. What an honor!!! So, that noted, I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to all my restroom readers. If you happen to be taking care of your business right now, I hope everything is flowing smoothly. And don’t forget to wash your hands.

In other news, after the U.S. Open golf event left the area, I was asked to go play miniature golf. Actually, let’s call it Putt-Putt. I like that name better. And saying that you lost a game of Putt-Putt to a three year old sounds a lot less embarrassing than saying you lost a game of miniature golf to a toddler. I went in there all cocky, thinking my little bachelor’s degree in fine arts would finally serve some form of purpose, but I was not able to make a touchdown like I had planned. In fact, I wasn’t able to get a strike either. I did chase a few people around with my golf club—which was kind of fun, but you get absolutely no points for that whatsoever. I could definitely use a little more practice. Give me about another week or two and I’ll be ready for the big leagues. Hey, maybe I could get so good that I could play for the NHL. I’ve always wanted to be a New York Laker like Kobe. See, I know my sports. My dad would be so proud.

Speaking of sports, one of my buddies recently asked me to play soccer with him and his friends. Soccer!!! Me!!! Of all people!!! I mean, yes I could have some hidden talent that could make me a natural when I “Bend It Like Beckham,” but I think it’s highly unlikely—especially after my failed attempt to get into the NFL last week. Who knew that there was a draft process and you couldn’t just ask one of the officials if you could throw the ball around a bit? I certainly didn’t. But anyway, I keep going over the various scenarios of my playing soccer in my head and none of them end well—or with me being alive afterwards. I picture someone thinking I’m a pro and kicking the ball my way. I’d then run for it, kick hard, miss the ball like Charlie Brown used to do, fly up in the air, and land on my head or something. It would then probably end up on YouTube, making me an overnight internet sensation like that Justin Bieber kid, and Diane Sawyer and Connie Chung would interview me in the hospital where I’d lie there all bandaged up and promote my blog. Hmmm. Maybe this soccer thing doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after all. I mean, if Tom Brady and Michael Jordan can be good at soccer, why can’t I?

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
Access my website: http://www.mikeyllo.com
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Deodorant May Not Be A Necessity, But Starbucks Is

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Jun• 20•11

If it hasn’t been said before, let me be the first to say that I’m starting to believe that Starbucks is a cult. Not one of those bad cults where people meet in the middle of the woods and call themselves weird names while chanting, but the kind of cult that you can participate in during daylight hours where no one judges you or thinks you’re likely to drink arsenic Kool-Aid at your leader’s request. Starbucks doesn’t even sell Kool-Aid. Well, now that I think about it, Starbucks has recently started selling smoothies, but I don’t think they’re Kool-Aid based, so we’re probably safe even if they are a cult. I’ve never heard of anyone being poisoned by a fruit smoothie. But just in case, I’m going to stick with the coffee because you just never know. I mean, why risk it? Better safe than sorry.

Cult or not, it is possible that Starbucks will eventually be the death of me. Although I’ve cut back to one drink a week—ok five—I often base my entire schedule around Starbucks being open or not. Even worse, I usually spend my whole day thinking about whether my boss will miss me if, on my way to the restroom, I accidentally go and get a Frappuccino instead. Of course, I’d probably never resort to such desperate measures, but when I worked a part time job for a few weeks last summer, I always stopped at Starbucks on the way in, regardless of whether my stopping would make me late or not. I just figured that my supervisor would understand and would probably be more upset that I didn’t bring him something than be mad that I was 40 minutes late for work over a mocha latte. I mean, hasn’t it been proven that coffee increases productivity? Well, that’s my story, and that’s what I’m sticking to.

I’ve spoken on this before, but due to my love of coffee in general, some have called me an addict. Because of this, and to prove everyone wrong—because they are—I’ve decided to do a little more research on some of the signs of having an addiction. Some experts say that addicts can have extreme mood changes and have random displays of happiness, sadness, anxiety, and/or become easily excited. Hmmm. Well, I do get happy about having Starbucks, sad when I can’t have it, anxious about getting it, and excited about the opportunity to indulge myself. Based on that, it would appear that I’m strung out. However, I cry a lot when it’s time to go to work, get happy and excited when it’s time to leave work, and get anxious for my shift to be over. Yet, I highly doubt that anyone would ever call me a work addict. Well, there goes that theory.

Whether I’m addicted or not, I’m not alone in the coffee struggle. Matter of fact, the Starbucks in my local Barnes and Nobles stays so busy that I typically have to fight for a seat. Just last week a guy asked to sit at my table and threatened me because I told him the seat was taken. Eventually my dad showed up and the guy saw that I wasn’t lying, but for a moment, I thought that he and I were going to reenact the fight scene from Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video. Instead of using a switchblade like the dancers did, I would have had to threaten him with a brownie instead. It may have worked. I admit that my Michael Jackson moves are a little bit rusty, but that old man and I probably could have pulled the routine off splendidly. MJ would have been proud.

Moving on, I don’t know about anybody else, but the weather predictions have been driving me nuts lately. I’ve cancelled my plans for the past two Sundays because the weatherman had called for scattered thunderstorms throughout the day. Despite the predictions, neither day produced so much as a minor sprinkle. I mean, where is all this alleged rain taking place? Egypt? Ironically, although the weatherman can be completely wrong repeatedly, they probably still get a good yearly performance review and merit increase. I wish I was so lucky. Actually, I think there should be some form of law that would allow me to sue the weather channel to get my weekends back when there is an error in weather predictions. Matter of fact, this will be the first thing I talk to Barack about when he stops by for our weekly game of spades tomorrow night.

Speaking of things that I’m annoyed about, the U.S. Open is taking place in this area and it is absolutely running my life due to the traffic. They’ve decided that the field across the street from my apartment complex would be a good place for people to park and then be shuttled to the event, which is being held 20 minutes away. Because of this, instead of my being able to leave for work at the last minute, at 8:23, I now have to leave at 8:15 instead, which means I’ve had to stop brushing my teeth and shaving if I want to make it to work on time. Some mornings I don’t even have time to put on deodorant. Thank goodness my co-workers have been very understanding thus far. I’m just praying that the air condition continues to function normally. One minor malfunction and there could be serious problems.

Honestly, when I first started seeing the advertisements about the U.S. Open, I got so excited because I thought that Venus and Serena Williams were going to be in the area. I had even planned to offer them my couch so they wouldn’t have to pay for hotel accommodations, which can be pretty expensive when major events come to town. Also, I wanted to give them some tips regarding their serve that I learned from that one time I played a tennis game on my Wii. They probably would have thought so highly of my help that they would have asked me to be their manager. Unfortunately, this U.S. Open was for some form of sport called golf or something. I mean, I don’t know a lot about it, but from what I hear, they let a tiger in the woods swing clubs at balls. This year the tiger wasn’t able to make it. Maybe it was hibernating. Hopefully they were able to still get some lions, bears and giraffes to participate in the tiger’s place. Either way, I’ll be glad when it’s all over so I can once again know what it feel like to have fresh breath and dry underarms.

Michael Rochelle
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