Dr. Who? Faustus, I think.


“I’m terribly sorry sir, but I can’t help you.”  The overweight Barista told me from behind the safety of her nigh impenetrable counter.  She probably wouldn’t be so impertinent outside of her fortress, down here with the rest of us.

“Yes, but I asked for a cappuccino, and you gave me a latte.”

“I thought I was doing you a favor!”  She said indignantly.  “The latte has more drink in it.  They’re pretty much the same thing, anyway.”   I took a step back in shock, looking both disgusted and horrified at the same time.  Such blasphemy couldn’t be tolerated.

“And you call yourself a barista?” I queried accusingly.  “The same thing?   I can’t believe I’m hearing this.”

“Sir, if you could please go enjoy your beverage somewhere else…”

“I shall do nothing of the sort until I have received a full refund.  I remember a time, maybe 8 years ago when you “baristas” would give a customer a free drink for nearly any mistake.  You’d even do it if you didn’t write their name on the cup…”

“Well, times have changed, old-timer,” she spat, “The economy’s in the shitter, and I’ve got $40,000 in student loans to repay, so if you wouldn’t mind, could you just fuck off?

I was aghast, shocked into utter silence.  Not only had this… this teenagee used colorful language, but she had called me an old timer.  I’m only 23, though my stupendous beard might confuse and/or bewilder the weak of mind into thinking I was far older.  I sputtered in rage for a moment, and then picked up my drink and stormed outside, being none to gentle on the door, let me tell you.

“The Nerve!  The Gaul!  The…” I paused, looking for a word that was fleeting away from me like a golden ticket from the hand of a pudgy and especially clumsy child during a stiff wind.  The child fumbles madly with the ticket, but the golden paper continues to slip through his grasp, despite the disgusting stickiness of his fingers, until it is clear even to him that he will never see it again. We sigh, the child and I, as we slowly realize that we would never get to tour the damn factory.

Impishness?” asked a peculiarly high pitched and impish voice.  I spun around and saw Hillary Clinton, much to my surprise.  Something was wrong, however, and it took me a moment to realize that she had remained completely motionless for the short time I had been staring at her.  And she was in Black and White.  And that I was staring at a newspaper that was completely obscuring someone, presumably the person who had provided me with my word.

“Why yes, that was just the word!  Thank you!  May I join you, good sir?”

“But of course!  And you are?”

“William, and you?”  I politely asked.  He laughed a maniacal, high pitched laughter, and then lowered the newspaper in a dramatic blur,  The first thing I noticed was that he had red skin.  The second thing I noticed was the horns and fangs.  The last thing was the tail.

“The Devil!”  He responded coyly, smirking.  “But my friends call me Mephisto?”

“Why?”

“Oh, they think it has a certain sort of Gothic chic to it…”

“No, I mean why are you hear?”

“To help you, William.  Why else?”

Please imagine the devil talking with the voice of the robot devil.

“Help me?” I asked, confused.  The devil was the first celebrity I had ever met, and I was somewhat uncertain as to what was going on.

“I couldn’t help but overhear you and the rotund barista arguing, and I was appalled by both her rudeness and poor customer service.”

“OK.  So what?”

“So this!  I could help you exact your revenge upon the pudgy brewer.”

“Really?

“Oh yes.  Revenge is one of my specialties!”

“That sounds great!  I can’t wait to… wait… this isn’t going to be on of those “deal with the devil” deals is it?”  I asked suspiciously.  Satan laughed.

“Of course not!”

“So you’re not going to try and steal my soul or something, right?”

“Definitely not.”  He purred as he pulled out parchment and a pen from… somewhere.  “Now, if you just sign  here, our deal will be struck.

“Fantastic!” I exclaimed, grabbing the pen and leaning over to sign.  The devil began a deep chuckle as I leaned forwards.  “I can’t wait to see the look on her face when… wait a second, how do I know you are the actual devil, and not just some alien or ghost or something?”

“Could an alien do…this?”  He pointed his finger at a car, which exploded in a ball of hellfire.  No one around seemed to pay any attention to the inferno raging in the parking lot, which was curious, but I decided it must have just been another facet of his amazing powers.

“I don’t know.  Probably.”  I answered.  The devil scowled at me, somewhat annoyed.

“What about this?”  He waved his hands at a pedestrian across the street from us.  Nothing happened at first, but then the concrete beneath him began to crack and smoke.  A flaming hole appeared, through which a demonic red light and some skeletal demon hands emerged, accompanied with the howling screams of the damned.  The pedestrian, who had been enjoying what appearing to be some sort of sub, noticed far too late that something was amiss, and was pulled underground, kicking and screaming as the hole closed.  Nothing was left but some scratch marks and a slightly burning shoe.

“Neat!  If that doesn’t prove it, I don’t know what does!”  I declared, grabbing the parchment and signing it.  “So, what next?”

“Simple.” The devil said, rolling up the parchment and secreting it… somewhere on his person.  He pulled out a small date book and began flipping through the pages.

“Whats that?” I asked.

“Oh this?  It’s just a little thing in which I keep all the hopes and desires of mankind.”

“And you keep it in a book?  What is this, 1831?”

“Very funny,” he said dryly.  ” So I suppose you have some sort of device that holds all of the hopes and desires of mankind, hmm?”

“Yeah, It’s called an iPhone 4 and the internet.”  The devil looked up from his reading and glared at me.  The ground began to shake and a small hole appeared under my chair.  A demonic arm snaked out of the hole and snatched my phone away, and then disappeared into the ground with a slight hiss.

“Hey!  That was expensive!”

The devil ignored me and continued flipping through his book.  It seemed rather small to hold all of the hopes and desires of mankind, but I suppose that the Prince of Darkness knows what he’s doing.

“Here it is!  Lauren Wicker, 18, Barista.  Let’s see… small dog, lives with her parents, just graduated highschool, excessively poor marks.  No, none of this will do.  Maybe… aha!  Says here that she is in love with Robbert Pattinson and Justin Bieber, and hopes that they will one day fight to the death over her.”

“Really?” I asked, leaning forward and trying to catch a glimpse at the page.

“Stop that!” Satan scolded, pulling the book away.  “That’s private!  And yes it does say that.  Now, William, watch.”  Satan gestured towards the inside of the Starbucks, and I watched through one of the giant glass windows that covered the half of the store and masqueraded as walls.

Lauren was reading a newspaper behind her counter, when she heard a bell ring.  she looked up to see none other than Robert Pattinson, Justin Biebeer, and the entire band One Direction standing in front of her, arms crossed and scowling.  Laurens scream lasted for a good 10 minutes, and managed to clear the Starbucks of the remainder of its patrons.  The celebrities waited, patient but annoyed, until the shrieks at last ended.

“We hate you, Lauren,” Robert hissed, uncovering his ears, “and we never want to see you again.”

“What?  Why?” Lauren rasped, putting a hand to her chest.

“Because you’re stupid.”  Justin answered coldly.  He glanced around and then knocked over the rack of CD’s in front of the cash register.  “What are you gonna do about it, four eyes?”

“But I don’t wear glasses!”

“Shut up.”

“Why is this happening?”  Lauren screamed, falling to her knees and beating her shoulders and chest as if she were in a Greek tragedy of old.

“Because you’re rude to your customers, Lauren.  Especially that guy.” Robert chided, pointing at me.  I waved back.

“I’ll never do it again!  I promise!  Please, no!” Lauren pleaded, but it was too late.

“It’s too late, Lauren.”  Said one of the guys from One Direction.  “In fact, you’ve so turned us all off of women that we think we’re gonna be gay for a while.  Come on guys, let’s get outta here!”  Justin made a threatening gesture as the rest of the crew left, and then he too went, but only after stealing a cake pop.

“Wow!  That was Stupendous!” I shouted over the sound of Lauren bawling.  “Thanks, Lucifer!”

“No problem, William.  Now, if I could just have your soul…”

“Hey!  You said this wouldn’t be a deal with the devil.”

“Yeah.  And then you went ahead and made a deal.  With the devil.”

“Oh.”

Yes.”

“But I don’t think it’s my soul you’ll be wanting.”

“Why not?”  The devil asked slyly.

“Check the signature, my friend.”  The devil eyed me suspiciously and then snapped his fingers.  The parchment appeared floating in the air, and he grabbed it and unrolled it, never once taking his eyes off of me.  After quite some time he finally looked down.

“BARACK OBAMA?” He screamed, glaring at the paper, which began to singe along the edges.

“Yup.”

“But that’s… that’s just dastardly!”

“Yup.”  The devil glared at the parchment a few seconds longer, and then crumpled it up and threw it away.

“Well fine, I guess I’ll take him.  Somebodies got to burn, after all.”

“It’s ok.  We don’t want him anymore.  You can have the economy too.”

“Ha!” The devil said as he opened up a hole.  “I got that years ago!  Till we meet again!  Muwahahaha!”

“Ok, see you later Satan!” I called after him as he leapt into the hole and it closed up after him.  The rest of my day was pretty good, too.  I went back into Starbucks, made myself a coffee, cleaned out all of the pastries (Lauren was too preoccupied weeping to care), and then went home and watched Stargate SG-1 until i fell asleep.

The Breakfast of Champions


We have a “spirit day” every wednesday for the eight weeks of camp.  The children are carefully divided into two teams, blue and yellow, and vie with one another for victory in various activities, the most serious of which is gaga.  Now, for the uneducated, gaga, literally meaning “touch-touch,” is a dodgeball variant invented by the Israelis, presumably for people who did not quite have the motor skills to play regular dodgeball.  The game is played in some sort of closed off arena, where a ball is dropped in the middle.  Once it has bounced three times, the frantic play can commence.  Players strike the ball with their hands and attempt to hit their opponent’s feet.  If your feet are hit, you are out.  The ball cannot be touched more than once, unless an opponent has struck it or the ball has rebounded of one of the walls that surround the arena.  There are no teams.  It is a battle royale.

ga-ga

This is kind of what it looks like, except with millions of more kids.

Children love gaga, mostly because it is really, really easy, and there is a certain uncertainty and randomness to it that makes it possible for even the most retarded of children to occasionally win.  Alliances are made and broken faster than one can blink, and almost every game ends with an argument.  The main difference between spirit day gaga and regular gaga is that there are actually teams in spirit day gaga, a fact that the children often have a hard time understanding.

The counselors decide which campers go on which teams by using an ancient satanic ritual that I won’t elaborate on, simply because it is far too horrific to describe.

It ends up looking something like this.

It normally works well, but something must have gone wrong this most recent time, for yellow had 6 second graders and 5 first graders, but my blue team ended up with only 4 second grades and 6 first graders.  The value of two extra second graders cannot be overlooked, especially when compared to the first graders we have at camp this year.  They seem to be particularly slow, both mentally and physically, much like a one legged tortoise, or perhaps an especially lazy snail.  They are certainly nice kids, but they think that the height of sports ability is to stand around and try to not get out.  In essence, they are all but useless.

Pictured: the first graders

Needless to say my team was grossly outmatched.  I fully expected us to be defeated within seconds, but as luck would have it, yellow team didn’t seem to have gotten the memo that they were not meant to get each other out, and therefore sustained heavy casualties due to friendly fire in the first match, allowing my second graders to pull off a stunning win for blue team.  Mike G., a particularly intelligent camper on my team, had developed a strategy of using the first graders as cannon fodder, hiding behind them until they were taken out, whereupon he would swoop in and rain a terrible vengeance upon the yellows.  When the first round was over, I was delirious, drunk on a sweet victory that was made all the sweeter because of it’s unexpectedness.

“Is it possible?” I asked Schultz, my co-counselor and a yellow team member, who was crying quietly to himself.  “Could we really win?”

No.  No we couldn’t.  The next two matches were blistering defeats, partly due to the yellows learning their lesson and not getting each other out, and partly to the blues who, when they realized the yellow team weren’t getting each other anymore, thought that they had to pick up the torch, and proceeded to get themselves out.  Furthermore, the cannon fodder strategy had proven to be ineffective, because the first graders just got out two damn fast.  Plus, they were learning to jump, which caused Mike to get out.  It was a slaughter and hope was waning.

Our prospects hadn’t improved for the fourth match.  Blue players were eliminated in a short succession, so that after only maybe a minute of play it had come down to five battle hardened, blood thirst yellows, and Timmy.  Timmy was probably the worst person to have in this situation, because he was Timmy.  Allow me to explain.

Now, when asked to describe Timmy, I like to tell people that Timmy is special.  Not special in the gifted sense, nor in the mentally retarded sense, for he is quite smart in certain things, like speaking english and spanish almost fluently.  Timmy is special because there is a certain Timmy way of doing things that most other children have either never thought of, or, and this is way more likely, decided that it was a bad idea to do in the first place.  Timmy is unique, for I have never met anyone quite like him.  He has a peculiar way of walking, where he throws his shoulders back farther than can be comfortable, and leans slightly backwards, so that his body is at a greater than 180 degree angle, if viewed from the side.  He also lowers his chin to his chest, so that he is always looking slightly up when he wants to look straight.  This is done presumably so that all of the saliva which had been collecting in his mouth while he was not standing can freely drool down his front, slobbering across the floor like the slime trail of some gigantic slug.  He also enjoys picking at or grabbing his various orifices whenever he is bored.  One should never shake Timmy’s hand.  Or touch him, for that matter.

Timmy is also always off balance and horrifically uncoordinated.  I once saw him, standing on a platform in the gaga dome while he waited for a new game to start, suddenly keel over backwards and fall several feet to the floor and knock himself unconscious.  There was no one around him, nor any outside force that made him fall.  Presumably, his body just decided “hey, let’s fall now, k?”

Timmy would not have been my top choice to go up against 5 yellow gaga players on that day, but as it turned out, something magical happened.  I have read the bible before, and heard of the fantastic miracles that Jesus and his friends had preformed, and I assumed that I would never live to see something as fantastic as summoning a bunch of fish or healing blind people, but what I saw on that day was probably the closest thing to a miracle I will ever see.

Timmy seemed dimly aware that the odds were not stacked in his favor, because he adopted a rudimentary and somewhat pathetic defensive stance,and was able to deflect the first few volleys that were launched at him, and even to return one himself, that rebounded off the wall at an impossible angle and struck one of the yellow players in their heel.  The blue players on the sideline clapped and cheered his name, and Timmy began jumping up and down in joy, completely forgetting that there was still a veritable firing squad arrayed against him.  His celebration was cut short, however, when he slipped on a wayward saliva pool and fell, causing a ball that Opie the yellow player had struck to sail over his head and go out of bounds, causing Opie to be out.

“Go on, you glorious bastard!” I whispered under my breath, clenching my fist.  Schultz had even stopped crying, so mesmerized were we by the action on the gaga court.

Pictured: me

The three remaining yellows were frightened, in part by the roar from the blue team, but mostly due to Timmy’s impossible luck.  Was there some strange magic protecting him?  Was a voodoo witch-doctor interfering in what was an otherwise regulation gaga match?  Was Harry Potter real, and was he Timmy?  They didn’t know, and this lack of knowledge shook them to their core.  They trembled in their boots as Timmy approached the ball, and dove away, screaming in terror as he hit it.  The ball of course went absolutely nowhere near where they were, and where Timmy was aiming, but as chance would have it went to the exact spot that one of them had dove to, hitting him in the shoes and rebounding backwards to hit one of his allies as well, and getting them both out.

We were speechless, flabbergasted, flummoxed..  Timmy had blown through some of yellows most hardened players like a mighty mongolian horde drooling it’s way across the Russian steppe.  Timmy’s only remaining opponent was young Cooper, a first grader, who stared in terror for about half a second, and then began to run circles around Timmy as fast as he could .  It proved to be an effective Stratagy.  Timmy couldn’t process the distance he needed to hit the ball in front of Cooper to get him out, and so their epic game of cat and mouse lasted for nearly a full minute.  I was nervous the whole time, terrified that Timmy might accidentally hit his own foot, which he had done three times that day so far, or hit the ball out of bounds and lose the match for us, which would have been doubly painful due to his unexpected clutchness.

Timmy did eventually win when he struck the ball poorly and it careened wildly to the right.  He struck a muscleman pose as the blue team poured over him like a mighty wave, cheering his name.  Timmy had undoubtably never experience a triumphal moment of a similar like, and thrust his hand up in the air as the blue team lifted him on their shoulders.  When the crowd settled, he turned and looked at me, and I just gave him a slight nod, like one of those bad ass coaches from one of those sports movies.

“At’ll do, pig.  At’ll do.”  I said, patting him on the head roughly, like he were some sort of farm animal.

“How’d I do, coach?”  He asked, smiling up at me.

“I aint yer coach.”  I growled.  He looked sad and turned around and started walking away.”But you did damn good, kid.  Damn good.”  He turned around and smiled from ear to ear

“Fuck yeah, coach.”  He said, coming up and giving me a hug.

“Timmy,” I growled, patting him on the back, “We don’t use words like that at camp.”

Ordinary


The first day of summer camp has come and gone, and as I lay sprawled across my couch, my corpuscular body wheezing pitifully for air, my mind races, recalling the events of the day.  It analyzes and categorizes all of the children i had met that day, organizing them into groups based off of likability and obedience, and yet through all my searching, and despite all of my categorical machinations, I had yet to find the one perfect camper.  I searched high and low, of course I did, but he or she remained as elusive as help at a best buy.

“Is it you?” I would interrogate each and every one of my campers as they came through the door, grabbing them by their shoulders and gently/violently shaking them as a surveyed they terror stricken face.

“Wha-?” they would start to say, right before I suddenly released them.

“Are you the perfect camper?”

“Yes!” They’d always lie, enthusiastically.

“Nah…” I’d say, shaking my head and frowning.  “You talk big, but you’re just ordinary.”

And they were all just that: ordinary.  Well, that’s not entirely fair, many of them were extraordinary in certain aspects: intelligence, drooling, crying, screaming, legos, but they were all ordinary kids.  You take the good with the bad and just roll with the punches.  I’ve found that being able to laugh at annoying things that kids do makes life infinitely easier than if I allowed myself to be annoyed.  For instance, the difference between “Timmy why the hell did you vomit in Rotund’s lunch pail” and “Timmy, you rascal, you vomited in Rotund’s lunch pail!  Ha ha!” can save your brain from a catastrophic implosion.

I’ve seen it happen.  We had a counselor last year named Paige, and she always got upset at all of the impish tricks her kids played.  One day I had by chance walked by her room’s window and saw her yelling at her children.  Her face was beet red, the muscles in her neck clearly outlined as she screamed at the kids.  I must have gasped, for she turned and looked at me, and I was afraid that her eyes were going to pop out of their sockets as her rage increased by a factor of 12.  I could tell that she was going to start screaming at me through the thin glass that separated us when a sudden quizzical calmness came across a face, and for a moment, at least, she was at peace.  And then, suddenly, her head consumed itself.

Paige’s face, moments before the event occurred.

It was over in a flash, almost to fast for the brain to comprehend.  I caught a glance of what appeared to be her head, but it was now shaped like a watermelon, and had a massive black hole in the middle.

“Paige, yah damn fool!” I cried out, banging a fist on the window as the rest of her body was consumed by the mighty gravity well that had once been her brains resting place, “You can’t lose your cool like that!”  She could have saved herself.  She could have just laughed it off, but she instead paid the horrible price of getting mad at a group of first graders: head implosion.  Turns out she was just ordinary too, though her passing was anything but.  Those kids still remember it, too.  Most of them aren’t even allowed to go to art anymore, the pictures they draw are just too… disturbing.

Alas, perhaps any quest for perfection is doomed from the start, for no such thing exists.  Maybe it’s a bad idea to look for perfection anyway, because what happens when you find it?  “Fuck!” you say, licking your fingers clean,”there goes the only perfect french fry in the world!”

“It’s ok, i’ve gone some ordinary ones I can share,” your friend consoles you.  You take a bite, and it tastes like concrete by comparison.

“This tastes like concrete.” You say angrily.  And it would, trust me.  It’s why I kind of wish I would have never had any craft beer or gourmet coffee, because then I could be happy with keystone and maxwell house, but I can’t.  My taste buds hate me when I try, and I don’t blame them.  Once you’ve had the best, everything else is just… ordinary.

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