Monday, November 29, 2010

Pack Man or Mispack Man?

Packing a bag for a vacation is the worst part of the vacation. It almost ruins the whole vacation. You put it off as long as you can. You’ll eat, you’ll exercise, you’ll call relatives, or you’ll do whatever. You may even find yourself cleaning your entire apartment the night before you leave, before you have even packed, because, apparently you would just hate to come back to a mess. You haven’t even left yet, and already you’re thinking about what will happen when you come back. Can’t you even relax for a second? Fuck! Why is it that the current present ‘you’ can live in this pig sty, but the future post vacation ‘you’ can’t put up with it for a second? What a condescending prick, all relaxed and vacationed and shit. Future Kevin thinks he is so much better than me. Why should I clean? He’s the one that just took a vacation.

Anyways, all of this procrastination stems partly from the fact that packing makes you feel stupid. You wind up losing the ability to perform even the simplest mathematical equations and arithmetic. Even worse, you start talking to yourself. You could be a mathmetologist for NASA and still need an old school abacus to pack for a three day retreat to some fucking log cabin. Out loud you say unto yourself:

“Ok, let’s see, I’m leaving tomorrow and coming back the following Tuesday. SooOOOooo, tomorrow is Friday and that means I need… eight pairs of underwear? Wait do I need to count tomorrow? Hmmm… I’ll already be wearing some tomorrow. Gee this is tough…”

Using the Harry Potter calendar on your wall and a solar powered calculator from high school, you come up with a number that seems right, but, regardless of your day count, the packing experience ends up becoming a frantic free for all, where you’re pretty much just trying to fit as much stuff into your bag as possible. Bringing a tube-top to a wedding in the Yukon? Why not?! Then the zipper on the bag won’t close, and you wind up having to cut some articles from the vacation team. The first few articles are always easy to cut.

“Yellow turtle neck? You’re cut, sorry, try again next vacation.”
“I guess I don’t need every pair of jeans that I own.”
“I suppose one bathrobe is enough.”
“I’m not exactly sure when I would even make use of this DICKEY.”

After that it’s more difficult and you wind up trying to figure out which sweat-stained half-ripped band t-shirt you absolutely need, or don’t need. You may like to tell yourself that you would do well in a desert island situation, but I think that inability to make decisions would probably do you in.

“Oh gosh, which plantain skins would make for a more durable beach hat? … hmmmm…”, thought the castaway, and then, out of nowhere, a monkey tried to eat his two eyeballs.

Imagine building a raft to try and sail back to the mainland and having to pack a desert island bag for that trip? You’d wind up cleaning up your base camp five times before choosing which coconut halves would make for better goggles, or earmuffs, or miniature helmets for your monkey. No, not the eyeball eater, it’s a different monkey. It’s a helper monkey.

“You never know, I just might wash up onto shore again, and I’d hate to come back to a mess.”

Moving right along.

So after carefully discriminating against the swimming trunks (you know you won’t end up in that god damn hotel pool anyways) and the extra pair of running shoes (you know you won’t end up at that god damn hotel gym anyways) the zipper still won’t close, and you take out more and more, almost at random now. You stand on top of the bag to zip it up, unknowingly causing your deodorant/lube/sunscreen/lotion/shampoo bottle to explode. Don’t worry. It will be a nice surprise when you arrive. Unfortunately, as you started discriminating, you completely lost track of the amount of each type of clothing that you actually will need, and you’ll end up with a dizzying array of assorted and mismatched items. Not enough underwears, too many socks. Not enough t-shirts, overload of pants. You get the idea.

I once went on a three day trip and managed to pack six pairs of underwear, three shirts, a single pair of socks and no pants, except for the pair of jogging pants that I travelled there in. By the third day, my pants stank like sweaty farty plane cushions and lightly fermented guacamole. I had a pair of underwear on each foot, due to the sock shortage and the only clean shirt that I had left was soaked in shampoo because the exploded two-in-one shampoo stored in the side pocket leaked into the main compartment. On the bright side, the fruity smell covered up the eerie stench of the jogging pants. Also, my shirt was so healthy looking it shined, and my chest hair never felt so soft! Anyways, needless to say, I did not get the job. Apparently, they went with a more experienced candidate. Personally, I think they smelled the Pert Plus and were looking for more of a Head and Shoulders or Dove kind of a guy. I guess what they say is true. Two-in-one shampoos just don’t work. Anyways, all of this got me thinking.

My solution is disposable one-piece jumpsuits. Not for all of the time, just for when you are travelling. It would make packing real easy. Five days, five jump suits. Even better, all hotels could start selling them, so you wouldn’t even need to pack. Just show up in a pair of boots and then buy as many as you need. Now, they should be loose enough to not show too much of one’s bits and pieces, but not so loose that they would blow up like a big ol’ balloon every time there is a big gust of wind. After all, we’d hate for people to take off like kites. Anyways, they’d kind of look like those HASMAT suits that the people wore in E.T. when they came to operate on him, except without the helmets and melodrama. Kids, never follow a trail of Reese’s Pieces into a stranger’s house. It will only lead to trouble.

But I digress.

Sure, jumpsuits would make tourists would stick out like sore thumbs, but at least it would make shit simple. And you can still make yourself stand-out by wearing snazzy dress shoes. So, no, not everyone would look the same. They’d have different shoes, and perhaps different hats. Different faces too, I guess. Until the jump suits become widely available (I’m working on a prototype), I would suggest that, after you’ve finished packing, throw in some extra underwears just in case. Even if you don’t end up using them like they are intended to be used, they can come in handy and fill a variety of other uses like handkerchief, bowtie, hat, sock, bathing suit, kite or flag (you know, in case you need to surrender to someone, you can just place white underwear at end of a branch and wave it around).

Even with my eventual jumpsuit solution, you’d still have to pack all of that other stuff that you take on vacation, like bathroom crap. But that’s the stuff you always throw in at the end, and usually forget anyways. Have you ever forgotten your toothbrush and had to ask at the front desk of a hotel for one of those disposable ones? Why the hell are they made so thin, and yet so fucking long? It’s like the toothbrush that a really delicate miniature pony might use to brush his teeth. Some of the toy toothbrushes come with powdered soap already on them. The assumption of course is that if you forgot your toothbrush, you obviously forgot your toothpaste. I’ve always found they look and taste a little suspicious. It’s like they sprinkled some Comet on the end of it. Maybe they are actually meant to be used by the cleaning staff for scrubbing stains off of the sheets and/or toilet seats.  Either way, try and remember your toothbrush.

“I’m sorry, I forgot my toothbrush, do have one of those little ones?”
“Sure, here. Careful, don’t hold it too hard, it might break in half. Also, here is some toilet cleaner, your breath really smells.”
“Thank you. Wow, what a quality toothbrush, I can actually count on my hands the number of bristles. There are four bristles, oh shit, it broke.”
“Here take a few more, we got buckets of them.”
“Do you have any glue? Maybe if I glue seven of them together, it will be a better brush.”

Is the toothbrush the only item that they have little toy store replacements for behind the desk? I bet they probably have some of those little combs too. I wonder if anyone has ever gone up to them and said that they forgot their enema. Surely it happens. Lord knows that we all tend to get backed up when we travel. To me, the need for a replacement enema would come up more often that the need for the shoe shine glove thing, or the sewing kit. Who fixes buttons on vacation?

“Honey, are you coming for dinner?”
“Hold on, I’ve got two more shirts to mend and then I need to shine my shoes.”

Anyways, I’d like to see what kind of MacGyver enema that they would come up with (e.g.: Funnel with a Gatorade filled water balloon). Actually, now that I think about it, most rooms already come with a laxative in the form of shitty hotel coffee and powdered dairy creamer. If that fails, hopefully you’re staying somewhere with the free continental breakfast, where anything is guaranteed to make you make the poop (like when you’re climbing up a ladder, and you feel something splatter).

Good thing you packed all of that extra underwear.

And is it just me, or are the shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, facial soap, moisturizer, etc. all just the same goopy mucus shit with a different label and bottle? In the end, sometimes it’s best to just stay home. Packing for that is easy. You’ve probably already done it. You can’t forget anything, because you’re already there. Not to mention, if you don’t leave, you won’t worry about coming home to a messy apartment and can continue to live in your current filthy nasty household. These are the kinds of things that I think about when I should be packing.

That’s it. I have a jump suit to try out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Be Our Guest.

The only thing worse than having guests, is being one. Yeah I said it. Staying at someone else’s place sucks. Oh gee, am I even allowed to poo? And not just because I don’t have home field advantage in the bathroom, although, that is a big issue. It’s tough to win one when you’re the visiting team. But just in general, is it considered impolite? Can I hold it in forever? What will that do to my insides? Maybe I can sneak one out when everyone has gone to bed. Is it normal or even considered alright to bring a matchbook to someone else’s house? Damn, I don’t know how sensitive their smoke alarms are. Imagine setting that off, and waking everyone up, just so that they can run out of their rooms to find that first, there is no fire, and that second, it smells like barbecued poops (a.k.a. barbepoo)? Is there a big potpourri store that I don’t know about that gives this crap away? Why does everyone else’s bathroom appear to be tidier than mine? Maybe they all go out to shit. Sometimes peoples’ kitchens look immaculate because they always have take-out. Maybe some people always have shit-out (take-shit-out would also be an acceptable term).

Then there’s the ‘what to wear to bed’ dilemma. Do I go with the ‘stretched to the limit’ boxer briefs and risk showing half my nutsack to an innocent passerby during a middle of the night trip to the foreign toilet? Do I bring my Pyjama Jeans? If I wear the full coverage flannel or fleece bottoms and shirt I’ll sweat more, guaranteed. How worried should I be about getting all my moist stinky sweat all over their good guest pillows? Do I leave my toothbrush in the bathroom, or bring it back to my suitcase? Is it bad form to clip my toenails here? Well, shit, they’re going to bed, so I guess I have to also. Oh well, they said good night, I for sure can’t just keep watching their TV. I wish they’d stop asking me if I needed more blankets or pillows. How many fucking pillows do their guests usually need? Maybe the last people made a fort.

And how does the showering work here? Should I bring my own bar, or will soap and shampoo be provided, as it is in most hotels? There is definitely a free drawer in this stinky old dresser. Does that mean I can unpack my underwear into it? What if I don’t want to? Is it rude if I don’t? Is it rude if I do? Where do my dirty clothes go? If I put them back in my bag the rest of my clothes will stink. If I shove them in the corner, it will look weird. If I ask them for a garbage bag, that might look weirder. Can I tell them that it’s too fucking hot in here? This is the fan they have for this room? Is that a normal noise? Where is that light coming from?

While all of these questions and concerns are both normal and annoying, they are not the worst part of the stay-over. The worst part is always the SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS. No matter what your hosts have prepared for you, they will always open with a promise of how comfortable the arrangements are.

“This thing is so comfortable, it’s awesometacular. Aw man, so comfy, it’s the best.”

Did I say promise? I meant lie. If it’s really that great, then why isn’t it in their bedroom?

1) The Spare Bed

Every guest room spare bed has a story behind it. Unfortunately, none of these stories are ones that will psychologically assist you in getting a good night’s sleep.

First off the bed’s back story can indicate that it’s as old as fuck. And honestly, fuck is pretty old and probably has a lot of bed bugs and shit.

That bed, yeah my parents got that bed at a yard sale back in nineteen sixty seven from people that had gotten it from their grandparents guest room.  I think it's made of steel.”

Sometimes instead of declaring it to be old as fuck, they’ll casually mention that it was used to fuck.

“That’s the bed we had when we were first married. Jeffrey was conceived on it. Do you have enough blankets?”

If that concept doesn’t spook you, try this haunted tale.

“It was Aunt Cecilia’s death bed. She died right on that side, right there. Oh that’s the side you sleep on? Well, don’t worry, we Febrezed it several times. Do you need some more pillows?”

Sometimes the beds come with instructions or warnings.

“Just try and keep to the top left, there’s this weird brown stain from here to… well... euh… It’s probably nothing, and, I mean, we put a sheet over it so, you know what, forget I said anything. Is that blanket thick enough?”

The brown stain is probably from the last guest who blew his brains out, or maybe a guest who shit the bed, too timid to get up and go to the bathroom. Maybe it just turned brown from being so old, like an old brown banana. And who doesn’t love an old brown banana? In short, be psyched.

That brings me to the physical obstacles, like stains. If you manage to get past whatever emotional baggage the bed comes with, then you will have to deal with the physical obstacles that generally come with the guest bed. You must remember, this is the bed that your hosts cast aside when they couldn’t take it anymore, and went on to buy a new bed for themselves, and put this old dung heap in the guest room. It may have springs coming out of it, dents in certain areas, or even its own signature smells

The bed will likely be shaped like a ‘U’, sunken in the middle like a thick hammock. Don’t bother trying to sleep anywhere but the middle, as you will be sucked into the springy vortex. If sleeping alone, this can sometimes be comfortable. It’s like your own little bouncy canoe. If sharing the sunken-in bed, however, be prepared for severe amounts of night time touchage and a healthy dose of sweat, oozing from the other person's brains, and getting all over your face. If the bed is sunken in enough, you will need a grappling hook to exit. The bed is almost always very low to the ground, so be careful to not slam your knees on the ground when exiting. The lowness would be a plus if you regularly fall out of the bed, but this will never happen due to the patented ‘U’ shape design of the guest bed.

Guest beds are often at least as firm than the floor, so consider both the bed and floor as viable options for sleep. If there’s carpet on the floor, it’s a no-brainer.

B) The Couch

If there is no guest bed, then chances are there isn’t even a guest room and you will be facing the sofa bed or futon. You will be placed out in some heavy foot traffic main living area, probably near a bathroom where people take night time dumps and loud pees. There will be light shining in through the windows from what feels like a UFO of some kind, but is actually some streetlight shining directly in your face. Also, at some point, you may end up being mauled by a cat, or humped by a dog.

In any case, either sofa bed or futon, just sleep directly on the sofa or futon without unfolding them (sometimes all you have been offered is a regular couch that is hopefully long enough that you won’t have to sleep with your legs up like you are riding on a rocket to the moon). It is also acceptable to remove the mattress from the frame and put it directly on the floor. Now you can easily avoid the dreaded ‘middle of the back bar’ on the sofa-bed, or the fact that futons are seemingly made only for people less than five feet tall. Being on the floor can increase cat maulings or dog humpings, so please take that into consideration.

There is no shutting out the streetlight because your hosts don’t have blinds or curtains over those windows. Better luck next time, asshole. In any case, you’ll be forced to wake up whenever the first person in the household wakes up, since you are out in the open. Just pray that your wiener or nipple or vagina or ass-crack or taint or pubes aren’t showing.

IV) The Air Mattress

They always seem like a good idea, but they also always leak air. If you know that you are sleeping on an air mattress, blow it up as soon as you get there, even if it is morning. You need to know how bad it is leaking, stat. Once you confirm that it is leaking, you have to hunt for the holes. Hole-hunting basically means that you have to hover over it with your hands, like it’s some kind of mystical ouija board, and then shush everyone.

“Shhhhh quiet, I’m listening for the air. I’m trying to feel where the leak is – WITH MY MIND.”

Once you find holes, you have to patch them with the million patches that come with the air mattress. That really should have been the first sign that these things aren’t very reliable. That’s like giving out morning after pills with packs of condoms, you know, just in case.  The patches kind of look like the patches your mom used to use to cover the holes in your finest pair of husky jeans, and also, they never actually stop the air from leaking out. You fall asleep in the air, and wake up on the floor. The sides of the air mattress are hugging your sides like some kind of hot dog bun. But, in this scenario, you are the big ol’ sausage!  You may be thinking, "it's kind of more like a taco, and I am the ground beef", but you are wrong.  The answer is hot dog.

Sharing an air mattress sucks even harder, because every move the other person makes shakes you around like you’re trying to sleep through an earthquake. I suggest yelling out “EARTHQUAKE” every time the other person moves. It’s great for their self-esteem. The morning after sharing an air mattress with my wife was the only time that I have ever woken up, looked over at her, and wished that she was way the hell fatter than me. Because there she was, gingerly perched on a cushiony cloud of airy comfort, while I lay on the ground, with my feet slightly elevated. I did what any good husband would do, and rolled off, sending her on a quick descent towards an abrupt hardwood wakeup call. This is an excellent way to share a laugh with your partner, eventually, when they begin speaking to you again, sometime during the following month.

Also, if the mattress is a bit saggy and your partner is laying on it, don’t jump too hard onto it, or you will risk sending them flying out the window, into the ceiling fan or head first into a light bulb. If this is your plan, then be sure to get the angle just right. Practice makes perfect, so maybe do a few trial runs with the local dog, cat or children.

But, honestly, I suggest you just fill the air mattress with water. That way, if it doesn’t leak, you get a water bed experience. If it does leak, then you’ll get water everywhere, but you can blame it on your host for giving you a shitty air mattress. Win – win.

There are definitely other sleeping arrangements that can be thrown at you, like a tree house in the back yard, foam placed on a concrete floor (they look like mushy egg cartons and feel like crap!), sleeping bag in the bathtub, or even a Murphy bed. So bring lots of Aleve, you’ll need it. That or horse tranquilizers. Personally I just ask the host for more pillows and blankets, pile them under the sheets so it looks like I’m sleeping in there, and then I check into a nearby hotel.

That’s it. I gotta go blow up the air mattress for my mom. It’s really comfortable.