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Punch Drunk

Jack's Treatise on Randomness


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“People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control.” — Woody Allen in "Match Point"

You wake up every day and things just sort of happen randomly. You do the best you can to control the events around you, but rarely do your actions have a direct effect. You learn more and more that the Earth doesn’t give a flying crap about you. Things happen. Things that upset you happen. You get cheated on. You get stepped on. You get laid off. Healthy young people get cancer for absolutely no reason.

Then there’s the alternative. Some days everything goes your way and success finds you. You fall ass-backward into money. A woman who has no business doing so falls in love with you. You wake up and don’t get sick, even though you treat your body like an amusement park.

There’s no method to the madness that is life.

In a perfect world, every day would be Friday and every day would feel like autumn. You’d forever be in the honeymoon period. Friends and family would outlive you. While these things are damn near impossible to control, there are some smaller things that you can chip away at to try to mold a life that’s bearable, if not a bit of fun. Allow me:

Ideally, no one would ever attempt to make small talk (or even eye contact) in the gym. Just stop it. I don’t give two shits if I met you in bar. I meet thousands of people in bars. Wait, do you have boobs? No? OK, then go away.

Ideally no one would ever say, “I’m making moves” ever again. You do work, you’re polite, you charm, you cajole, you do even harder work and you do it even better than the next guy. You get lucky. Are you an NBA point guard? Did you just execute a crossover dribble? Chances are you didn’t. Also — and this is important — if you have to tell people you’re making moves, you definitely are not “making moves.”

Ideally, small children — in public — would be confined to outdoor ball pits until they become of age and learn how to act in a civilized manner. Obviously we’re going to need a lot more ball pits, but how expensive can that be? If we all chipped in it’s probably like five bucks a head. You bring your kid to Starbucks? Toss ’em in the ball pit. Barnes & Noble? Ball pit. Movies? Ball pit. Doctor’s office? Ball pit. McDonald’s knew this all along. Another great idea: Dumpsters could double as ball pits! That’s called “going green.”

Ideally, more drugs would be controlled, not outlawed.

Ideally, people would learn how to F-ing drive! All you have to do is pay attention. Drive in the right lane if you prefer to go a bit slower. If there’s a biker on the shoulder, don’t just putter behind and hold up traffic — go around. If there isn’t a sign that says “no turn on red,” then look left to make sure it’s clear and then Turn on F-ing Red! Why are you waiting?! Read the sign!

Ideally, all drivers older than 60 would have to take a monthly test to keep their license.

Ideally, the word gastropub would be stricken from the vernacular. I’m also on the fence about calling a restaurant a lounge.

Ideally, we’d have just bars that serve no food in Virginia.

Ideally, Virginia would privatize its Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Just do away with it. If there’s one thing I like about Gov. Robert “Bobby Rolexes” McDonnell is that he tried. It will happen. Just wait.

Ideally, a bar would be well-versed in classic cocktails, but not overly insistent on shoving newfangled creations or craft everything down your gullet, although — aside from $11 prices, a few unique, well-made craft cocktails can be nice.

Ideally, a bar’s music is somewhat loud, yet not overpowering. The only thing worse than ear-splitting bar music is gently played elevator background noise that enables everyone to hear every conversation. I need a Rolling Stones song or something of the rock or soul variety played at a decibel level that will allow me to say dirty, inappropriate jokes to my friend or my woman, but not be overheard by the family sitting 6 feet away. Of course if it’s the type of bar that plays the Stones gently or where a family is sitting 6 feet from me, I probably wouldn’t be there long anyway.

Ideally, a bartender will err on the side of being a wallflower. Obtrusive barkeeps are creepy.

Ideally, there are free peanuts to snack on. But unless it’s Morton’s or Lemaire or someplace fancy, rarely will you see that practice anymore.

Ideally, I’d shut up and stop forcing my opinions on you time and time again. But again, the world is a flawed, horrible place.

Once you accept that everything is random, that there’s no fate, no destiny. That we’re on a giant, spinning ball hurtling through space. That we came from tiny organisms in the dirt and that sooner rather than later we’ll be rejoining those organisms. That there is no higher power looking after you — well, actually, maybe it’s better to live in ignorance.

Drinking heavily is my secret.

And damn it, why are there never any peanuts to snack on? There used to be! That really pisses me off.


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