Out of Kilter

Ken Carpenter's Out of Kilter has hit the web. The same original blend of history and humor. None of the editorial restrictions.

Month: March, 2014

A few words on butt cracks

My story for today is from 2004 but fits in quite well today. Butt cleavage does not disappear, it just grows deeper.
Being a semi-normal male, I do not find female cleavage of any kind totally distasteful. Do I think that women, or for that matter girls, should go around with the top half of their rump poking out like Kilroy though? No, I do not.
Human clothing was designed to cover up vulnerable parts of the body. I often wonder about the hysterical situation that would develop if a wandering herd of bees suddenly decided to nest within the ready made hive developed by too much butt crack hanging out.
I hope it happens on Main Street (also know as Butt Crack Alley) and that I am there with a camera. Sadly, with my luck, it will be a plump male plumber it happens to.
It makes my eyes ache just to think about it.

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Plumbers of the world unite….and make everybody

Plumbers all over the world have had to live with a stigma of their occupation for decades. This condition is caused when a fellow, or a female for that matter, most likely but not necessarily of a portly persuasion, bends over to look under the sink or pick up a tool.
This act often causes their overworked t-shirt to pull up and reveal a sight that, were it to be condensed and transferred to another part of the body, might be mistaken for what is commonly called cleavage.
Unlike the garden-variety cleavage that is flashed in an effort to sell every product under the sun, plumber cleavage should be an unlikely candidate to advertise anything except caulking. In a world with a shred of decency that would be the case, but of course the world we live in keeps its shreds a safe distance away from those who might be tempted by them.
On a typical day of work, play and an average amount of TV watching it becomes very clear that flashing a few inches of ‘ P.C.’ has become a very fashionable thing to do. You can’t go to the store without being subjected to numerous sets of brazenly low-slung pairs of jeans that are just dying for a funnel and a bottle of seltzer water.
They rarely belong to a plumber.
It has clearly been an unfair assumption by the masses that plumbers have a monopoly on unsightly crevasses. It is too bad they didn’t copyright it, but who in their right mind could foresee such a loathsome sight becoming trendy.
Hmmmmm, maybe I should copyright belly button lint, you never know. Nah, Roseanne Barr probably already has that covered.
The advertising and fashion worlds will leave no stones unturned in their thirst for a few more sales, and common decency does not enter into the equation. As morals grow ever more lax we are liable to see anything become acceptable, and I dread to think what sights await us five years from now.
Bodypaint instead of clothes anybody? I have two words in response to that thought; Roseanne Barr.
I am no prude by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some things that should be left to the individual mind to consider. The fleshy valley at the top of a rear end is one of them, no matter what the size, age or condition of the attached caboose may be.
So no, you can rest assured that you will not see me wearing my pants halfway down my bottom, no matter how popular that habit becomes.
Unless I have some work to do under the sink, of course.
A guy just feels obligated to put on an unsightly display when he has to play plumber.

More than you might want to know about chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most positive things in an increasingly negative world. It can inspire a small sigh of pleasure from an individual with a permanently dour outlook. It can yank a clueless husband from the depths of the doghouse. If administered in strong enough doses, perhaps coating the end of a baseball bat, it might even be able to bring cohesion to America’s political parties.
While I may go days without it, I can’t imagine life without its small pleasures.
Today’s story is from 2012, and it has history, trivia and maybe a smile or two. Have some chocolate handy.

Eat more chocolate, it puts smiles everywhere!

I, and probably 99% of the rest of the world, have always been a chocolate fan. Usually I choose vanilla when it comes down between the two but, after my research on chocolate, I may change my ways at least part of the time.
It turns out that there is method to the madness of trying to fatten up your wife on special days by buying her a big box of chocolates. Chocolate contains the chemical phenyl ethylamine, which is the chemical that the brain produces when you are in love.
That makes chocolate a confirmed, scientific aphrodisiac! Who knew! And guys, if your wife starts buying you a lot of chocolate, take a hint and start taking care of business.
She’s trying to tell you something, dude.
Chocolate is also a natural form of anti-depressant, producing serotonin, a chemical that improves the mood. I’m not referring back to the lust mood either, just the “happy chemical” mood, which is what serotonin is known as.
It is said that 90% of Americans have some type of chocolate every day. You’d think we would see more contented faces running around, instead of so many frowns and 1000-yard stares.
Come on chocolate companies, pick it up a bit! There are only 600,000 tons of chocolate consumed around the world each year, at a cost of about $20 billion, and people are still frustrated and murderous?! We need more!
Chocolate has been a food and drink product for humans since at least 2000 BC, when it was first harvested in the rainforests of the Amazon. It gradually spread north, and was a valued currency for both the Mayans and the Aztecs, though only the rich and powerful could afford to use it in their drinks.
It is not called the Food of the Gods for nothing.
At that time and for centuries after, cocoa beans produced a mild narcotic effect, further enhancing their appeal. A good buzz has always been popular.
When Christopher Columbus made his fourth and final trek over the ocean, in 1502, he missed the boat by discounting cocoa beans that were offered to him. He thought they were trying to trick him into making a drink of sheep droppings, which the beans do resemble, and he burned an entire cargo for this reason.
I guess manure tea does not sound very appetizing. Columbus wasn’t the only boob though, for in 1579 a pirate ship burned a Spanish ship they captured for the same reason; it seemed to be stuffed to the gumps with sheep poop.
Hernando Cortez is primarily given the credit for turning on Spain to the precious beans, for he developed a cocoa bean plantation in the Americas in 1519. The Spanish tried to hoard them from their European neighbors for 100 years, but of course the rest of Europe got their hands on them and kept up the grand tradition of letting the rich hog them while the poor, who couldn’t afford them anyway, did without.
From the Mayans and Aztecs forward, chocolate became a very valuable commodity for their armies. Troops given regular doses of cocoa in any form could march farther on less food than an army without it.
Remember, it was centuries later that the mild intoxicant was processed out of it, so there was probably little grumbling by the soldiers either. Of course, even with the buzz taken out, there were still many properties to chocolate that helped troops press on.
In World War One the U.S. Government recognized the advantage of cocoa, and every box of rations had four 4-ounce chocolate bars in them to provide a boost for the soldiers in the field. World War Two continued the tradition, and when astronauts went to space they were given the same consideration of chocolate for energy.
Just one chocolate chip can give the average adult the energy needed to walk 150 feet. I’ll have a 50-pound bag, please.
The average American eats 10-12 pounds of chocolate per year. No wonder I’ve been feeling puny, I’m at least a quart low.
The Swiss eat about 21 pounds a year, and they have one of the lowest heart failure rates and obesity problems in the world. If I ate that much they would call me the Pillsbury Doughboy. Heck, they almost do anyway. I hate the Swiss.
In 1513 a member of a Spanish expedition to the Americas reported that he bought a slave for 100 cocoa beans, the services of a prostitute for 10 cocoa beans and for 4 beans he got a whole rabbit for dinner. Sounds a little like Saigon in 1972, but that is all I’m saying about that.
In 1900 Milton Snavely Hershey, a Mennonite from Pennsylvania, started producing milk chocolate bars and “kisses” with profound success. He saw them as a profitable alternative to alcohol, of which he was a staunch opponent.
You can’t go anywhere without seeing his name, it is synonymous with American chocolate. Unlike European countries, which like theirs dark, 71% of Americans prefer milk chocolate.
Every day there are 33 million Hershey Kisses created in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It takes 52,000 cows to produce enough milk for just one day’s production of Hershey’s chocolate products at their Pennsylvania plant.
Many chocolate abominations exist around the world. Chocolate-coated bugs are commonplace, and in Japan they now sell chocolate Ramen. You name it, and somebody somewhere might have put chocolate on it.
I heartily recommend chocolate coated bacon, though my wife Joy disagrees. They now have pickles covered with chocolate too, though I don’t know where you can find them.
The funny thing is I adore pickles and love chocolate, so it sounds delicious and disgusting at the same time. I’ll try one someday, if I run into one, for disgusting never stopped me before.
Well, not too many times anyway. Chocolate-coated black licorice will never pass these lips!
I’d take the bugs first.

A chicken’s eye view

My story today was written back in 2003. It relates a few chicken tales that are not totally favorable to humans, or human, mainly me. I wrote a new story last week that touched on my relationship with the feathered biddies who own my land, but this piece was done before any cluckers had moved in.
I actually like our chickens, it is comforting to watch them mill around contentedly. Even the sweetest of them has a mean streak though. I should write a book about chicken psychology, for I know as little as anybody and I think that is a requirement for any and all yarns pretending to know about the psychological troubles of any creature.
Humans included, of course.

Fowl tales leave a foul taste in my mouth

There is a pecking order in the food chain that supposedly has humans at the top because they will either eat or brutalize every other living thing. The fact that human beings can be taken out by the lowest organism in existence, mindless bacteria, does not count. Nor does the fact that almost every life form has at one time or another either damaged a person or found them to be a tasty addition to their diet.
We make the lists so we get to be considered the king of beasts, and if the lions don’t like it they can take us to court. I have it on good authority that even the smartest lion cannot understand a legal brief. I can’t either, but that is unimportant.
The pecking order participant I am currently concerned with is the chicken, who invented the pecking order. While they could be known as the chief peckers of the world, they are so far down on the list that only bugs are below them. Bugs and me, but more on that later.
Chickens are food, period. They live to eat and be eaten. It was their bad luck that evolution made them delicious no matter how you cook them. Any way except rare that is, or smothered in black licorice sauce. Gag!
Somewhere along the line people decided that it wasn’t enough to eat chickens, they had to humiliate them as well. Anyone showing cowardly tendencies became known as a chicken, for reasons unknown. Chickens don’t seem especially cowardly to me, but weasels don’t seem especially sneaky either so maybe I am a poor judge.
When I was a kid my family would raise 100 chickens every year. I was not overly fond of the breed, for they were horrible bullies to the less fortunate of their tribe. Few things in the world are more sinister than the look in the eye of a chicken as he pecks on his retarded little brother.
They got their just desserts on head chopping day, which was primarily an exercise in misery for all of us as well. It was especially bad for my little sister, who seemed to have been born with a built-in headless chicken magnet installed in her ass. I still can’t help chuckling at the memory of her fearsome shrieks as she raced around the yard with a beheaded pullet dodging her every step. How they did it I have no idea, but it happened more than once.
Now is the moment I have been dreading, for it is time to establish my own rating on the pecking order list.
My job entails roaming around the county visiting places where I am rarely welcome or invited. By neither man nor beast, I might add.
A few years ago I was attacked by a psychotic duck, which did little for my self-esteem but a great deal for the amusement of my co-workers. Quack quacks became common around the office, but I refused to lend dignity to their fowl taste by responding to it.
Recently I had another fowl encounter as I roamed around a strange barnyard. The first clue I had that something could be amiss was when the most sickening cock-a-doodle-doo in history erupted from the corner of the barn. It sounded like a goat puking, and if you haven’t heard that I pray you never do.
I eyeballed the melodiously challenged perpetrator of the awful crow, afraid it may be some duck-rooster mutant. It wasn’t, so I tried to ignore it as it followed me at a distance and continued to assault my ears with that awful caterwauling.
I crossed a dirt road to measure the last building and was writing down a note when the feathered fiend with the deformed vocal cords decided he could no longer tolerate my presence. With an uncharacteristic silent rush he launched himself into the back of my legs, pecking and flapping his wings like he was possessed by a demon.
I cut loose a less than manly hoot of dismay, and it took a monumental display of restraint to avoid soiling myself on the spot. Using my clipboard as a defensive barrier I retreated from the barnyard, stalked by the victorious bully all the way to the gate.
So at least for a while you can find me somewhere on the pecking order between chickens and bugs.
One positive thing emerged from the fiasco though. I solved the age-old question of “Why did the chicken cross the road?”.
He crossed it to kick my butt.

I refuse to be Smartphowned! For now

Today’s tale is not as long-winded as some of my other ones. It is from 2007 and tells about how I sold my soul to the devil and started packing a cell phone. It was quite the life-changing event, and I suppose it was inevitable.
I still pack a common flip phone, lacking the nerve to go Smartphone. I’m sure that in no time I would be Smartphowned like so many others, setting records for butt-dialing and walking into doorjambs with regularity.
Yes, my thirst for trivia and the ridiculous would have me cackling maniacally at funerals and trying to drive with one eye and read with the other. No thanks, I get in enough trouble as it is.
Happy celling.

Kicking and screaming into the future

I am really upset with myself. I have spent years making fun of people who go through their life with a cell phone glued to their ear. I have cursed them for yacking when they should be paying attention to their driving. I have muttered threats about sticking a cell phone with an obnoxious ring somewhere that the sun does not shine. I have also badmouthed those selfish souls who let their phones ring in a theater or some other place where silence should be golden.
Now, to my everlasting disgust, I am one of the cell-ers. I blame my wife, she did it, and it’s all her fault. She just can’t pass up a bargain.
I tried to say no, but I could not stick to my guns. In truth, I stuck to them long enough to cheat her out of a rebate check. Oh yeah, it cheated me out of it, too. Dagnabbit!
The Verizon family plan offered three phones for a mere pittance over the basic plan for one, with a rebate offered for each one.
“I’m pretty sure I don’t need no cell phone,” I said with sarcastic conviction when Joy asked me, and I almost dislocated an elbow patting myself on my phone-less wanderer back.
“Are you sure?” Joy asked, more aware than I that a woman’s prerogative is just as much a man’s.
Once again I pooh-poohed my need for a cell phone, so only two were ordered, and neither was mine.
The next day we were talking and planning a trip to the city to go the malls, not my favorite thing in the world due to my penchant for getting lost in them. Show me a shopping mall and I’ll show you a handful of wild-eyed yokels with no idea where they are. One will be me.
Joy jumped at the opportunity to point out how easy it would be to stay in touch if we each had a cell phone. When, not if, I got lost or separated from her (one and the same), I could push a couple buttons and be saved in minutes.
I have to admit, that got my attention. After a couple more common sense points were made, none by me, about how handy a cell phone could be, I was hooked. I asked if she could still get the same deal on a third phone if she called now, so she tried. It was the same except no rebate, and the third phone would be a different brand. I sheepishly agreed that I would take it, gnawing crow by the pound.
So now I am the proud owner of a fancy dancy Nokia camera flip phone. I can even, after a lengthy training session, make and answer a phone call. I have also managed to take a couple of dandy pictures of the inside of my pants pocket.
I also, get this, sent and received some text messages with my stepdaughter Sarah. For those of you as ignorant as I was about such things, a text message is typed out with the keypad on the phone.
The first one I sent to her took about 11 minutes to type and said, “Saara, hox arf yoo.”
About 30 seconds later a perfectly worded 50 word text came back to me from the stupefied Sarah, who didn’t think me capable of texting even a garbled message. Of course, her Mom had coached me, proving the “old dog” adage once again.
“I ammm here,” I replied proudly after another five or six minutes, brow furrowed with effort.
I figure by the time our two-year contract is up I will have progressed to taking pictures of my shoes, texting short messages with minimal mistakes, and maybe even viewing missed calls.
For now, I’m just happy to be able to find my wife in the mall.

What happened to Carrot Top? Who cares?

My story today was written in early 2002. The odious Carrot Top was actually famous enough to be paid for doing TV commercials back then. I don’t think he could coax anyone into buying cheap, thick toilet paper now. We would all go caveman and start using weeds.
I was a bachelor back then, which my story makes perfectly clear. As far as Carrot Top goes, my feelings have not changed. He could still torment me into convulsions if I was exposed to him for very long.
Just for general information, very disgusting information, Carrot Top is now performing in Las Vegas. He calls himself “Best Male Stand-Up Comedian!” That alone is a crime if ever I heard one. To top it off the tickets start at $49.95!
I fear for the future of the human race.

It’s funny what sticks in your memory

In 2005 my wife Joy and I took a trip around the Olympic Peninsula. I recommend that everyone do the same, it is really an amazing place. The odd thing is, some of the most memorable moments of the trip had more to do with us than where we were. When you have borderline depraved imaginations you never know what will pop up to get your juices flowing. So to speak.