Monday, November 29, 2010

The Shape of Things to Come

This Christmas season I'll be posting some older stuff. Imma polish it all up, but it'll be more or less the same. If you've read this stuff before, consider what I'm doing a retrospective; if you did not, you're clearly one of the people I despise, and I wish each night for ill to befall you.

like this
(it's an octopus eating a man's face)

This arrangement also gives me time to work on new content, as well as some works of short fiction I've been tinkering with. And - let's be honest - it also gives me time to goof around during the holidays.

There will be some completely new posts, but mainly pictures people have sent. Most are from my friend the dentist, who is also Archmagister of the Wizzardry Training School for Wayward Boys and Girls. Think of it as where the kids who couldn't get into Hogwarts go. Their motto is: Twice the wizzard, 1/2 the co$t!

Keep an eye on the Twitter feed to the right, or just subscribe. I'll be doing my best to describe all the sandwiches I eat, and how the line I'm in at the mall is taking, like, forever.

Thanks to everyone who reads Bad Ideas, including the guy or gal who visited from Egypt a week ago. You made my day, random stranger!

Okay. That's it. Back to your regularly scheduled internets. See you tomorrow!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Guessing Game: Answer

Who's ready for the answer to our guessing game? Yesterday I showed this picture and asked everyone to figure out what it is:

Give up yet?

What you're looking at is a big ole'...nasty...juicy...meniscal tear. Which is a thing in your knee.

What did you think it was?

Read more info here! It's more common than you think, so be kind to your joints. Make sure to stretch before any vigorous activity, no matter what part of the body it involves.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Guessing Game: Question

Okay everybody, time to play a guessing game. Name what's in the following picture!

Answer tomorrow!

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Fear #78: Coulromoichephobia

Bored by the safety of their lives, people all across the world are making up new things to be afraid of. I'm proud to be the cartographer of this new landscape of fear.

Coulromoichephobia: The fear that right now, right this very second, a clown is having sex with your wife. We're not talking about gentle lovemaking, either - they're afraid the clown is really giving her the business. 

They imagine his big shoes are flopping around, there's greasepaint all over the sheets, and the clown's polka dotted jumper is undone over a sweaty chest working like a bellows. Periodically, the adulterous wife reaches up and gives the bulbous nose a tweak, eliciting a muted honk. The clown's face is scrunched with the effort, mouth hanging slightly open, but the paint of his big, red smile stretches ear to ear.

Before you dismiss their fear as ridiculous, just imagine walking in on that. Really put yourself in their shoes and see the clown who's cuckolding you.

He's not an old clown, but he's not a young clown either; he's middle aged, somewhere in the morass of his thirties, and when he's done clowning for the day he gets a pain in his right knee that he worries is growing worse. He wishes he could get it checked out, but he doesn't have health insurance - he's officially an independent contractor with Zing-a-ling Party Solutions, which means they don't have to provide benefits or pay minimum wage.

He hasn't called his parents in years because of the argument they had at Christmas. He can still hear his mother hoarsely shouting, "You're ruining our family!", and the way his father said nothing at all, which was somehow louder. Emily had her baby last week, a girl she named after her grandmother. He's glad she found a way to move forward after the divorce, but he still wakes up in the middle of the night wanting to call her, like a kid asking for a glass of water.

But you know what makes the pain of all the years go away? Giving it to your wife when you're not around.


A man with this phobia will call his wife over and over each day to make sure she isn't sleeping with a clown. Here's one side of a conversation taped during the case study:

"Hey honey! Just thought I'd call from the office! How's your day go- what the hell is that squeaking noise!? Oh, the dishwasher. Whew. No, I'm not angry. Sorry I haven't fixed it yet. Call a repairman? Sure, I'm really busy at work this week. There's a number in the phonebook, nevermind, don't, NEVERMIND! You might accidentally call one of those party places and order a clown. Ha ha, that'd be horrible. You don't like clowns, right? What do you mean I've asked you that like three times today? No reason. Look sweetie, I've gotta go. Have a good day, I love you! Don't fuck a clown! ... What? The last thing I said? You mean 'I love you'? What did it sound like? Huh. That's weird. Bye!"
His whole life is based around safeguarding his wife's poontang from clowns, and it is exhausting.

He'd like to get therapy, knows he needs therapy, but he's too ashamed. At his most lucid moments he realizes his wife loves him and would never do anything to hurt him. How would she feel if she found out what he thought?

Also, the therapist could be in league with the clown. As soon as he'd lay down on the couch for the hour, the clown would go on the clock too. In fact, he figures there's no end to all the people who are working with the clown.

The guy in front of him in traffic, doing five under the speed limit?
Giving the clown more time to get his rocks off.

The checker in the grocery store who says her machine just went down, and will everyone move to lane thirteen?
Paid off by the clown.

That new guy at work who dumped the J & L account on him, making him work late?
He thinks it's the clown's brother. Didn't new guy say his brother was in entertainment?

And has he actually seen his sister-in-law's new baby? All his wife has shown him are the pictures, and she stayed with her for over a week. Her sister lives three states away, and there's a million pictures of babies on the internet. He thinks the clown took her to the beach...maybe he'd better check all her shoes for sand.

He'd give up on the marriage altogether, but damn it he loves her. The fact that he spent last Tuesday night at the strip club, calling the girl working the pole "Bozo" is just his dues for putting up with his wife's constant, circus related infidelity.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Grocery Trip

"Ma'am, can you tell me where the Asswored plastic cups are?"

"A swirled cups?"

"No, ASS-wored cups. ASSWORED."

"I'm getting my manager."

"Good, maybe your manager knows where the cups are. Nevermind, I found them!"

Jesus wept.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Even My Fantasies Don't Work Out

"Oh no," Allison Mack said, "someone's blocked the door to my house with all these bottles of chocolate milk!"

"Don't worry," I called out, "I'm here to save you!"

"Who are you, mysterious stranger?" she asked, already starting to love me with her eyes.

"I am none other than Future Boyfriend Man, sent here from The Future to take care of you."

"Like in The Terminator?"

"Exactly like that! Our child is destined to be the savior of all mankind."

"Before we make sweet, passionate love that's not afraid to get energetic, tell me - what threat will we face?"

"Umm. It's squid. Giant squid. Land squid!"

"That sounds horrible." She paused, her nose wrinkling. "Wait, how do squid live on land?"

"They're...they're also vampires."

"Oh," she said. She squinted. "That doesn't answer my question."

"Well, uh, vampires don't breathe. So the squid can be on land and not drown. Drown? Is that the right word? 'cause they breathe water, so they can't drown drown, but you know what I mean."


"Yes! That's it. Suffocate."

We stared at each other for a moment.

"That doesn't make any sense," she said. "How do they move around on land? They don't have a skeletal system to support that kind of locomotion. And if they're so big, and they're vampires, how do they hide during the day?"

I rolled my eyes. "You're asking so many little questions that you're missing the big issue. My world is a burning wasteland! Mankind has been reduced to slavery, forced to fight in the arena for our squid overlord's amusement."

"Why did the squid burn everything?"

"Arg! Can you not get past this one thing!? Squid bad. Future ruined. Us baby. What more do you need from me?"

Suddenly, a van drove up and three large orderlies emerged from it.

"We're sorry Ms. Mack," the driver said as he stepped out, "this one got loose again. He's real troubled, but not violent. Says he's a time traveller from the future and he has to have your baby."

"He has to have my baby? You mean he's going to carry it to term?"

"No," the driver said, "he wants to impregnate you, and then you'll have his baby."

"Wouldn't it be our baby?" Allison asked.

The driver's mouth hung open while the orderlies grabbed me. "Is that really important, ma'am?" he finally asked.

I turned to him. "I know, right? You should have heard her earlier. It's 20 questions with this one."

"Look!" she shouted. "Strange men keep showing up in my front yard, and I'm entitled to some answers. Like how the hell did all this chocolate milk get here?"

A milk truck pulled to the curb and hastily parked behind the van. A bespectacled man jumped out, the buttons on his overalls jingling.

"Oh, I knew I had the wrong address," he said when he saw all the milk. He wrung his hands. "I hope it's not all gone bad."

"Why did you deliver the milk to my house?" Allison asked, turning to him

The driver and I rolled our eyes at the same time.

"Me oh my," the milkman said, "I thought it was a six instead of a nine. The Johnsons'll sure be sore when they don't have their morning milk!"

We all chuckled at his folksy speech. Allison stopped laughing and turned to the man.

"How do you confuse a six and a nine without messing up the rest of the numbers? And who needs this much milk for one morning? And what company in this century still delivers milk?"

The milkman's eyes darted left and right before he pulled out a pair of scissors and quickly clipped a lock of Allison's hair. "He ha ho hoooo!" he hollered as he ran to his truck, hair in hand.

One of the orderlies looked at the driver, who nodded. "I'm on it," he said, running after the milkman.

"What do I do with all this milk?" she asked.

The driver sighed. "Lady, I don't care. I'm in the business of apprehending nutjobs, not listening to every damn thought that passes through your pretty blond head."

The other orderly had already subdued the milkman.

"Why is it so hard to find good help these days?" she wondered. The driver stared at her, spit in the yard, and we all turned to go.

I watched her throwing the milk away from a grate in the back of the van.

"I'm just like Sarah Connor!" I shouted as we drove away. "Sarah Connoooooooorrrr..."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Things No One Cares About

Everyday conversation is a burden.

It's not small talk that's the problem, it's when we pierce the veil of custom and attempt to exchange thoughts with another human. It's a frightening prospect, but there are certain traps we fall into that turn it into an unadulterated nightmare. Thankfully, I'm here to help. Together we can make the world of tomorrow a better, less annoying place!

One - Dreams
When you're in a dream it's the coolest thing, like, ever. You're an omnipotent action hero fighting a monster that's part the kid that picked on you in fourth grade and part Sephiroth from Final Fantasy 7, all while that girl in legal that won't give you the time of day hangs off your arm, worshiping you with her eyes. Then you wake up and can barely remember it.

We all dream. As weird as your dream is, something equally strange happened to someone else last night, or the night before. Part of the weirdness of dreams is how emotions and feelings manifest fully formed - it can take years to fall in love with someone, but you instantly fell for that guy or girl riding the inflatable hoverboard last night; movie after movie tries to fill you with horror, but none of it can match the bedwetting (possibly literally) terror of the closet door from your childhood room slowly swinging open.

However, since you can't relate those emotions to anyone else, your dreams sound like drug fueled hallucinations directed by a three year old with ADD.

"then dinosaurs attacked and mom said I had to go to school anyway but I didn't have pants so the ninja said it was okay because I could take the dragon bus."

Dreams are likely the only virtual reality many of us will ever experience, our own personal Matrix. We're self centered creatures, and dreams take this to the nth level - it's a whole universe that finds its purpose in us.

In fact, have you ever been bored by someone's dream, only to perk up when they mentioned you were in it? Case in point. So keep the dreams to yourself. If you absolutely have to get the details down, start a dream journal that you never, ever share with anyone else. Here's some Lisa Frank stickers to get you started.

Two - Geneaologies
"Now, he wasn't married to Sheila, because he had the marriage annulled on account of her being barren. And that's what she's only my great uncle's cousin, instead of his second wife."

History is important. Interesting, even. That's why we entrust its care to scholars and anyone with a beard on the Discovery Channel. These people make the great events and personalities of the past come alive.

"Haley's comet was alien sperm. Historically."

You can't.

You're a guy who spends more on than a month than Sumatran families spend on food in a year. You have no formal training in historical criticism or the socio-cultural milieu of the time you're researching.

Most people have no interest in geneaology. They're not particularly concerned with where their parents went to high school, so knowing your great-great-grandpa Josiah touched Abraham Lincoln's shoe or how many candles Grandma Baloney sold at her Ye Olde Ne'erywacks Store does nothing for them.

Here's what I know about my family: they spent seven generations farming the same patch of dirt in a redneck county for 160 years. They were dirt farmers. Is that interesting to you? No. It doesn't matter what you find out about your ancestors, even if they were Aztec astronauts that invented the escalator. No one but you will care.

And if you do discover something - the blood curse of the beast which swells at midsummer - at least they'll have some investment in that info. Me? I'll shoot silver straight in your heart.

Three - Health Problems
"Well, my crippl'ins is acting up, and that medicine they got me on for it causes my downstairs to itch up something fierce. 'course, I cain't even do that cause my joints trouble me if I move so much as a fly's mustache. But you don't want to hear about that, do you dear?"

I'm looking at you, old people.

Back in the 50's, "How are you?" might have well meant, "Tell me in detail what you're feeling right now."

let's get ripped at noon and play Adultery Quest!

In this era it's a standardized American greeting. Acceptable responses include "Doing well", "I'm okay", and the ever popular "Fine." Unacceptable responses are anything that make us visualize you sitting on a doctor's cold table, paper gown swaying in the AC, frowning your jowls as you prepare to be invaded by a camera or a spelunking finger.

Co-workers, I didn't forget about you all. What part of sharing an office with someone communicates that it's okay to share the results of your colonscopy? I'm not talking about overhearing it while you tell your spouse, which is annoying; I'm talking about direct, "Hey, want to know how my intestines are doing?" I once had a coworker tell me, "Well, now I know what the inside of my anus looks like."

There is no universe where it's okay for anyone to tell me that. Ever. In another dimension we're silicon based beings that eat with our noses and shit out our ears, and it's still not okay for that to happen.

"Dude, TMI."

This doesn't mean we don't care about your health, or want you to die; we only want you to extend to us the same bland, polite apathy we do to you. I keep that mole with the weird borders quiet, you don't tell me when and how often your bowels bleed. Deal?

Four - Babies and kids
"Jenny's nursing now, and I'm so exhausted! She keeps me up all night, just chewing at my nipples till they're all stretched out. And little Tim wants to hold his sister, but - did I tell you he's doing t-ball now? The coach says that..."

You reproduced. Congrats. So did the people down the street from you, the ones you don't talk to because the husband lost his job and you're afraid they'll ask for a handout. What would actually be impressive is if, like a horse, your baby was running as soon as he fell out of you.

or if your baby is half horse

To the contrary, most of your stories deal with your kid's inability to do anything well; they're shitting and pissing left and right while babbling like the Insane Clown Posse at a spelling bee. Since we were all children at one point, and most of us had siblings, we've heard these stories before. The fact that your baby is named "Brad" instead of "Stephen" does nothing to keep us interested.

Listen - I like kids, I really do, but secondhand stories of macaroni art make me want to force feed you the teapot/hot air balloon/leprechaun head your kid glued to the page in between surreptitiously eating the paste. Yes, your little princess/slugger eats paste. They call it "art candy."

I'm considerate. I don't tell you about my friends when they're drunk, despite the disturbing similarities to your baby tales. And no matter how hard they chew on my nipples, that's between them, me, and the hypnotherapist I hired to make me forget it all.

pete what are you doing noooo

Five - Commercials
"I laid awake at nights and fantasized about killing my husband with a knife I called Spousereaver. But thanks to the patented lazy spring suspension system, I've buried all those thoughts deep, deep down! Thanks Slumberco!"

Prior to the 70's, when people told one another about commercials, there was an obvious, easily relatable gag. Absurd humor hadn't entered the mainstream yet, so it didn't take much to get people buzzing at the water cooler.

"Then the cat - Harry, listen to this - the cat started talking! Asking for the cat food like he was sitting down at a goddamn table in a restaurant. Maude and me nearly shit ourselves laughing!"

The listener would think, "Wow, that's funny. Talking cats. I gotta check that stuff out."

Commercials are a visual medium, and an ephemeral one at that. They've grown more sophisticated over the years, such that they seem like short films; unfortunately, this only exacerbates the problem. When someone tells me about a commercial, I stare at them blankly. Then they look vaguely ashamed, like they should, and finish "I guess you had to be there." Yeah, I "guess" I did, to see the thing you're trying to tell me about with words.

Infomercials are a different case; they embrace the narrative for all it's worth, telling us a story about how the woman who couldn't peel a carrot without burning her house down is now a happy, vegetable peeling maniac. We believe in the power of the ShamWow guy, and Billy Mays was damn near an uncle to all of us.

The fifteen second spot for Tide with the talking bubbles? Not so much.

And companies, this word of mouth advertising is doing nothing for sales. When a friend gives me his lame ass rehash of what might have been a cool commercial, I judge you for it. No, it's not fair, but maybe you should start working on a way to make people stop. Maybe you can run PSA's, like Wonder Woman used to.

"Now remember, don't drink refrigerator coolant."

I hope this advice has been helpful for you. Keep eating your vegetables, don't tell people about stupid shit, and life will go immeasurably better for you!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Ark and a Tent for God

I'm teaching children's church for the first time since the Noah's Ark incident. I've had a hiatus of what feels like years, and in the intervening time period no tiny faces have peered at me like I have a dog's head. I danced like a madman at my friend's wedding, and if I can handle that self-imposed public humiliation, being told I can't sing Sunday school songs should be kid's stuff, no pun intended. (Okay, it is. It always is.)

The little girl who drew a Shoggoth is something I'm convinced I made up. Little girls are made of sugar and spice, and are surely not robotic shells housing worms locked in Sisyphean labor.

pictured: not a little girl

I was exhausted by the wedding and another instructor was going on vacation, so we swapped weeks. I ended up with "The Ark and a Tent for God" instead of "The Ten Best Ways to Live", which is what the teacher's guide calls the Ten Commandments. Seems even the Old Testament is getting a PR spin these days.

For those of you wondering why I'm doing the Ark again, this is a more different Ark. The Bible has two Arks, and as far as I know they're never connected with one another. A key difference is that one holds an implausible amount of animals and the other melts Nazi faces.

internet law requires I put this here

Having looked at the lesson plan, I think the other instructor was leaving town to get out of teaching this one. "The Ark and a Tent for God" is a Byzantine walk through the ritual implements of nomadic Jewish religion, meant to demonstrate the prefiguring of Christ in the majesty of the mobile Tabernacle, as well as call attention to the disparities between a human and divine intercessor.

That's all wonderful, but how am I supposed to look these kids in the eyes and talk about the Table of Shewbread? What is a Shewbread? Is it pronounced "showbread" or "shoebread"? How many jokes about eating footwear will I endure if I get this wrong? Shewbread is also called "bread of the presence", which sounds like an item from World of Warcraft.

kid_icarus1988: need BotP?!? 10g in arim's deep

Furthermore, I'm pretty sure the lesson plan is a logic puzzle I'm not smart enough to figure out. It's like this:

The Ark goes in the west end of the desert box facing east. The Altar of Incense goes in front of the Ark, but not too close, because the Veil goes between them. The aforementioned Table of Shewbread goes on the north side. The Menorah goes opposite the Table of Shewbread on the south. Place the Tabernacle so that it encloses the Ark, the veil, and that it faces east. The Altar of Burnt Offerings goes outside the door, leaving room for the Laver. The Laver goes in front of the door. The tent goes around all that. The fence goes around the tent. Put everything back in the box in reverse order. Now, what color house does Mr. Green live in?

I don't know what any of those things look like, and I have to memorize that order exactly or the children will think Jesus is the sun again. I foresee myself holding tiny pieces of wood, silently cursing my now defunct year of Hebrew language training, little eyes boring into me.

Why can't we do it with Legos? When the lesson was over, I'd turn the Ark into the Ark and carry all the animals to safety.

this picture is all wrong

UPDATE: One attentive little girl was later able to draw the entire Tabernacle from memory. I'm choosing to credit her intellect rather than my teaching abilities, and I hope she solves the cold fusion problem before we reach oil depletion.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

This is a Public Service Announcement. Stay tuned for important information about how I want you to live your life.

America is a representative democracy, which is a system of government in which an ill-informed populace employs specious reasoning in choosing a smiling, besuited sociopath to make high level policy decisions about how to ruin everything. Today is the day when voters select just who we'd like to inconvenience and levy us for the next few years, but not the President.
Or the Vice President. Or possibly some other people.

I want to remind my fellow citizens that voting is very much like blowing out the candles on a birthday cake - if you tell anybody who you voted for, or even talk about voting, they don't get elected. 

As soon as the words pass your lips, the election fairy will swoop out of the sky in a flurry of dimpled chads and bone shavings. She will force a recount not in your candidate's favor, and then she will force some other things.

So keep quiet, or the fairy will come! No one wants that.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lunchables: A Review

This post will be heavier on pictures than my usual. If you've been transported back to 1997 and you're on dial-up, I'm sorry - this will take forever.

In 21st century America, we lack a guiding cultural mythos; the Transformers, Power Rangers, Teddy Ruxpin - these are the foundational truths upon which our ad hoc society runs. In fact, shared nostalgia is the only glue holding things together. If the memory of Family Matters was wiped from our cultural consciousness tomorrow, the great cities of man would burn.

Did I do thaaaaaat?

Lunchables - boxed lunches for kids distributed by the Oscar Meyer corporation - are a keystone tenet for the sad civilization we inhabit. They're everything about America that we love and loathe, conveniently packaged in a brightly colored box.

I've not had a Lunchable since elementary school, but I remember the feeling. Walking into the cafeteria with one was like walking into a pawn shop with a handful of blood diamonds - you were a king among men, lording your yellow scepter over the legions with bag lunches, leftovers, school food, and that one kid whose parents packed magazines instead of food.

I wanted to know how well modern Lunchables would stack up to my lofty, almost reverent memories of them. One day I was running late to work and didn't have time to make lunch. I stopped at Kroger, and they beckoned me from their gilded seat in the refrigerated case.

join us come with us we will teach you

With a grin and a wink, I decided it was time; I should have known I was once more getting on the Ferris wheel of failure, the one named "Expectations".

Here's the packaging you know and love, branded yellow and red because Oscar Meyer knows these are nature's danger colors.

If you show this picture to a deer, it will run until its heart explodes.

The back of this particular box advertises a contest that allows kids to make a video game, and it inexplicably features a cel shaded Evan Matthew Cohen, best known as one of the Krelboynes from Malcolm in the Middle.

It's a neat contest until you realize kids are unaware that their ideas, and any revenue generated therefrom, become the sole property of Oscar Meyer upon submission. This information is tucked away inside the box, and looks like this:

which every child sees as this:

and then this:

They should have called it the Lunchables: Life is Suffering contest.

I opened the Lunchable from the wrong side because I possess adult man strength, and also as a warning - when the police find the box with the "easy open zip strip" still intact next to the body of another dead hooker, they'll know who they're dealing with.

"We found another one, Chief. I think he's mocking us."

Here's the basic setup that hasn't change in two decades: crackers, cheese, meat, dessert, and juice.

Oscar Meyer didn't add a toy, they didn't create a mascot; they know you're a parent buying MRE's for children, or an adult eating them between reruns of Night Court. You need them.

I already knew the Capri Sun would be the most fulfilling part of the experience.

In the household I grew up in, my younger brother was the unilateral arbiter of Capri Sun flavors. His constant decree was "Bring me Wild Cherry! More and more Wild Cherry! Now kneel!" I'd suggest we liven things up with a Citrus, or a Pacific Cooler, and maybe not do the kneeling thing, but he'd always bring his iron fist down. To this day I'm excited when I get a Capri Sun that doesn't taste of acetophenone, which is what science thinks cherries taste like.

Capri Sun, you don't need to tell us how much sugar the other leading juice brands have.

You sound like the kid in the back of the room who tattled to the teacher about the other boys having spit ball shooters; focus on you being good, and let us worry about the other leading juice drinks.

Did anyone else know Capri Suns expired?

I thought if you put something in a shiny silver package it lasted forever, which is why I've been wrapping my hopes up like baked potatoes since high school.

Don't tell me what to do, Capri Sun.

You're not my dad!

Once I'd jammed my straw into the pouch like an individual, I was left with a problem I've struggled with since childhood - the Capri Sun tail.

This vestigial sleeve of plastic will doggedly scrape your chin while you try to enjoy your all natural, no artificial flavors 10% juice beverage.

how does that work, exactly?

I accidentally purchased the less-fat Lunchable, an option I didn't even know existed. This revelation came on black wings, feasting upon hope, for I was not only eating a quasi-novelty food stuff, I was eating a low-fat quasi-novelty food stuff. This did not bode well.

The first thing I noticed was that the ham sported lumps of some sort.

On closer inspection, I realized they were tiny clumps of shredded ham. Was the advertised "40% water added" in fact added to cardboard shavings to make the discs? I dubbed these blobs "ham fluff" and studiously ignored both them and whatever blasphemy of a meat rendering process was responsible.

Despite the dubious quality, I was able to create the tableau from the box front with a high degree of success. It's a point in the Lunchable's favor that they actually look like their picture, unlike all food everywhere else.

Meanwhile, I pondered - have Lunchables always called themselves "Lunch Combinations"? How many possible combinations can there be? Let's find out!

the classic

the sandwich replacement

the vegetarian

the double down

the Wisconsin

the OCD

the dagwood

the "my package was tampered with"

the "I don't know how food works"

When I finally ate my playthings, I was struck by the horror of it all.

Rather than ham, crackers, and cheese, they tasted like the idea of ham, the possibility of crackers, and the suggestion of cheese; I wouldn't be surprised to learn there's only one Lunchable - a proto-Lunchable, if you will - and the others are only imperfect copies of that template, assembled by the mom-robots at Oscar Meyer. 

What I am trying to say is that you will be motherfucking hungry when you are done with your shadow meal, and you will be angry in direct proportion to how much you loved them as a child.

At first glance the pudding wasn't appetizing.

It looked like a muddy pot hole, or the cross section of a hobo's lung. Nevertheless, Jell-o was proud of their creation.

It's fat free! Free fat free! Free fat in the pudding! Wait, no! Fat free free fat free fat  EAT THE PUDDING OR THEY'LL KILL MY WIFE!

Calm down, Jell-o. Don't go all "Capri-Sun" on us. We get that you made pudding with no fat. We're all excited about it too, but I think the Nobel committee might overlook your achievement for another year.

I gave it a stir it and it looked measurably better, glistening in all the right ways. I even tried to smooth the pudding into a tiny, perfect mirror so I could scry on Snow White, but I had mixed success - I ended up watching one of the dwarves put on all of her clothes for awhile. It made me feel dirty...but excited.

I initially grabbed a white office spoon to eat the pudding with, not trusting in Oscar Meyer to provide me with one. When I found red spoon enclosed, it was like pudding cup's old boyfriend was meeting up with new boyfriend.

While red spoon luxuriated in pudding cup's embrace, self satisfied smirk on his ruddy face, white spoon gazed on, envious, wishing he had arms to cross.

Meanwhile, I looked at them both and hoped no one at work with visited the back corner of the library to see me drawing faces on spoons. That's the kind of thing that shows up on an annual review, then on a psych eval. 

The Lunchable stared down at himself with an expression usually reserved for the gut shot.

The pudding was smeared around his irregular face hole, the scraps laid at his box bottom; he'd been greedy and he'd gone too far this time. He'd gone too far.

Would you eat me? I'd eat me. Hard.

He could hear the sirens in the background, growing closer. The lunch police were on their way. He knew he couldn't do hard time in the 'fridge - he was too soft, too full of post-consumer waste. Before he could talk himself out of it, he grabbed the scissors and recycled himself between the eyes.

Are Lunchables worth eating? I don't doubt that the whole fat versions are exactly how you remember them, only less filling and delicious because you're not seven anymore. The Capri Sun is a quenching draught, and Jell-o's much touted fat free pudding closely approximates real pudding. Furthermore, the product line has noticeably expanded, and you can find Lunchables in pizza, chicken nugget, even sub sandwich varieties. Steer clear of the low-fat option, however, unless you want to eat like an Oregon Trail family on grueling rations.

But if you're an adult, there's no way to eat a Lunchable that doesn't leave you feeling hollow inside, like you're watching from the platform while all the good things in life leave on a train, forever.

I did the review like you told me, Oscar Meyer. Where's my coupon?