Killing You Softly

March 18, 2013 1 comment

As someone who has been in the customer service industry for about 15 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about conflict resolution. Mostly, as someone turns red-faced and spews white-hot acid onto your face and melts it into something akin to a hearty stew, you smile through the agitated spittle and say, “I understand where you’re coming from.” I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject, the same way that Dr. Phil considers himself an expert on hair regrowth. You thought I was going to take the easy way out and say “psychology”, didn’t you? Well, you were wrong. Terribly wrong. Unconscionably wrong. I’ve called the police. You won’t get away with this.

I’ve found that the best way to defuse a situation is to “kill the other person with kindness”. There are a few distinctions between this, and “killing someone with a knife”, “killing someone with murder”, or “killing someone with poison metered out into their food in such low doses that a standard toxicology screening can’t find it until the autopsy”.

When someone gets mad at you and starts yelling, the first response is the aforementioned “I understand where you’re coming from” or the lesser “I hear that you are upset”. Though you may feel the need to say either of these with a tone that says, “I hear that you are an idiot who likes to hear themselves talk”, please resist. That part comes later, and much more subtle.

I have found that a well-formed response comes in the form of an insult. Now, please don’t misunderestimate me. And while I’m making up words, don’t antiunderstandigate me, either. The cleverest of backhanded compliments comes in two varieties:

-Telling a person something that sounds nice, but is actually mean

If I said, as you were regurgitating your despicable vitriol on me, “I am sorry you feel that way”, I am, in actuality, saying, “I am sorry your feelings are misguided and invalid as it pertains to your complaint”. Likewise, “I see your point” translates flawlessly to “Your mother is probably ashamed for the way you have turned out”. This not only diffuses your rage, but also shows I am the better person for having sustained your ridiculous absurdity without kicking you in “the nether regions”. Honestly, the sheer cost of flying you to Holland just to kick you in the groin doesn’t pay for itself, in terms of five-year amortization (just another term I picked up in business school that I obviously don’t know how to use correctly).

-Telling a person something that sounds mean, but is really very nice

This way of insulting someone does require some forethought. I recommend noting these insults ahead of time and keeping them strapped to your forearm like an NFL quarterback keeps a list of plays. Unlike Tim Tebow, however, you may actually want to READ these once in a while. Otherwise, you may have a sweaty fat guy pounce on you 20 times every Sunday (like Tim Tebow).

For your convenience, I have pre-loaded a few insults that are actually quite complimentary. These one-liners catch your opponent off guard so much that he/she (or in the worst-case scenario, a he-she) will be prone to ask, “AND JUST WHAT THE HECK DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?!” You may then disarm this mouth-breathing halfwit by telling him/her (or a him-her) by telling them just what the heck you mean by that.

“You, sir, are a Pennsylvania Dutchman!” = “You are hard-working and provide me with delicious handmade candy.”

“I can see clearly that you are consumed by despair and self-loathing.” = “You are a person who is filled with feeling and emotion.”

“You rabid wolverine crawling with maggots!” = “You are a respectable persistent mammal with a magnetism for others.”

“You are the Lindsay Lohan of rational human beings.” = “I loved the ‘Parent Trap’ remake.”

Now you, too, can go out and serve the public with kindness and respect! These tactics are foolproof! Just to be safe, I carry a can of pepper spray.

Life’s An Obituary. Then You Die.

March 12, 2013 Leave a comment

“An obituary doesn’t happen after you die. An obituary happens while you are alive.” – Kyle Freaking Baxter

In an effort to prepare myself for the afterlife, I have carefully considered today. I was reading the obituary of a man who lived a straightforward American life, worked for 40 years, had 2.3 kids, loved fishing, owned a dog, and had a bad combover. His kids wrote him a polite, albeit mundane, sendoff in the local newspaper.

I don’t want my family to assemble a pile of facts after I’m gone. Before God and the world, I submit this humble time capsule. May my family print this, word for word, in the newspaper (The Mars Times – I plan to live to 238, mind you). Some facts may be greatly exaggerated or outright lies, but I feel it still captures my soul as an exaggerator and outright liar.

“Kyle Baxter was humbly born in a barn. For this reason, he never learned to close the front door. His parents were hard-working, salt-of-the-earth, sweat-of-the-brow, and otherwise good-looking people of child-bearing age. They raised him amongst his siblings, who were older in age and similar in genetic composition.

As a young lad, Kyle enjoyed the outdoors, especially as he saw it from inside the house, taking in the air conditioned goodness that God had bestowed upon Man. Kyle excelled in school, because he figured out how to bully the smarter children into taking tests for him. He graduated as Valedictorian, Class Clown, Captain of the football team, Miss Congeniality, and Prom King of his home school. Throughout his college years, he worked at a local grocery store, providing outstandingly handsome service to the public.

Kyle was married at the ripened age of 22 to an old spinster one year his junior. He and his wife lived a modest life as secret millionaires in a suburb of Kansas City. This was markedly modest because these secret millionaires were actually super-secret billionaires who had made their fortune from the sale of their business, Google. You see, Kyle thought to himself one day, ‘What if, someone wanted to find something on Wikipedia? They should totally Google it! Now if only I could figure out what it means to google something, besides an utterly sophomoric, chortle-inducing act.’

Though he lived beloved by the masses, even having been nominated as Best Supporting Actor (and it is an honor just to be nominated), Kyle lost out on that hallowed Oscar to James Franco (who Oscar-baited the Academy) (I MEAN, WHO TAKES THE ROLE OF A TRANSGENDERED GUY WITH CANCER UNLESS HE WANTS A MEANINGLESS AWARD???) who had a well-deserved win.

***story detailing how I wrestled a boa constrictor to save a school bus full of blind children***

Kyle spent his 230th birthday with family. Just him and his wife. No kids. Not even teenagers. In fact, anyone under 80 was not permitted. Steak was served. With a side of steak.

***insert more text about how great I am here***

Sadly, Kyle met his Maker before his time. After volunteering at a soup kitchen in a rough neighborhood during the holiday of ‘Kyle Baxter Day’, he was attacked by a gaggle (tee-hee! Oh, sorry . . . I thought you said google) of streetwise punks who were trying to burn down an orphanage. Kyle died of a heart attack brought on by exhaustion, having single-handedly beat to death 50 men 1/10th his age.

In short, Kyle was the man every other man wanted to be: good job (super-secret billionaire), hot wife, Oscar nomination (what an honor just to be nominated), and the guy who actually got Bin Laden. Spoiler Alert: I put a banana peel in his shower. He lived life to its fullest, which was 110%, coincidentally what all great professional athletes give.”

I bid you all adieu,
Kyle F. Baxter

Pay Leo If You Want To Live

March 10, 2013 1 comment

In an effort get healthier and possibly lose some unwanted pounds, I have been trying to eat “Paleo”. This term is derived from the expression “Paleolithic Era”, which scientists detail as “the time when man had unibrows and pooped in the woods”. I have been slowly working Paleo meals into my diet. One meal a day, wedged between McGriddles and Taco Bell. Slow and steady wins the race. Unless you want to win, in which case – fast wins the race.

When I mention Paleo, people ask me, “What is Paleo?”, and “Why did you force the topic of Paleo into a discussion about the ever-dwindling Amazon rainforest?” Mostly the latter. In layman’s terms, Paleo is described as “what you can pick or hunt”. I try to incorporate those into as many meals as possible.

Corn and other grains are mostly out because they are not simply gathered – they must be cultivated. So, I stick with what can be picked. For lunch, I had an apple, my nose, friends, and a rental car (but I had to pay extra for insurance). Things that are not Paleo are just as simple to surmise: things which you cannot simply pick. For example: legumes, family, and your seat on a Priceline flight (darn you, William Shatner).

Lunchmeat and other processed meats are off-limits because they cannot be hunted. Well, that’s not entirely true, but the kind man at the grocery store asked me to leave when I put a spear through the Oscar Meyer smoked turkey. So if you want to stick to what can be hunted for, I recommend a balanced dinner of organic chicken thighs, your car keys, and a good deal on laundry detergent.

Speaking of Paleo meats – most meat found at your local grocery store is not, in the sincerest sense of the word, Paleo. Most beef and other meat-producing animals (sheep, chickens, goats, humans, etc.) are force-fed a strict diet of corn, diet cola, and cheeseburgers. Experts (cavemen in lab coats who drag their women by the hair back to their caves) recommend eating only grass-fed feed beef.

I stray from the pack of experts, who are busy trying to overcome a wooly mammoth, by saying there is a better meat! I’m not often at the forefront of science, as I currently have 150 leeches draining the evil spirits from my body, but I believe there is a better form of beef. I figure: if eating grass-fed cows is very Paleo, then eating cows that only eat grass-fed beef is ├╝ber Paleo!

Before you know it, I will be selling (for $1,000 a pound, mind you) beef from cows that eat only beef that eats only beef that eats only beef that eats only beef that eats only grass that somehow eats beef that eats grass. It sounds really time-consuming, hence the markup. If you want a side for your beef-fed-beef-fed-beef-fed-grass-fed beef, I will also offer beef-fed grass. But don’t worry: the grass is fed a strict diet of grass-fed beef. So it’s still Paleo.

I know this sounds very daunting, given how grocery stores carry mostly processed foods. I personally get to the Paleo items more quickly by walking up to every teen-aged employee and shouting, “EXCUSE ME. I AM ON A PALEO DIET. PLEASE POINT ME TO THE PALEO FOODS.” At this point, he or she will point in a direction best described as “away from me, you freak”. Nine times out of ten, they will point you to the exit, but that one time out of ten, they will accidentally point you to the nitrate-free bacon. Goldmine.

Some would argue that, if eating Paleo were best for you, then Paleolithic man would still be around today! To you nay-sayers, I say, “Paleolithic man is among us! Just look at your average Linkin Park fan. His knuckles drag the ground like the noble ape.”

I hope this crash course on Paleo helped you on your way to good health. If it did, I can only assume it was an act of God (which is NOT covered under your Homeowner’s Policy). If it did not help, we can probably credit that to the copious amount of misinformation I have dished out here.

In the immortal words of the poet Gerald Springer, “Be good to yourself . . . and each other.”

How Un-Christian of you!

January 13, 2013 1 comment

“What exactly is a Pentecostal?”

A Catholic friend asked me that age-old question, and it caught me off-guard. To truly explain what a “Pentecostal” is, you have to start with the earlier offshoots of “Protestants” (from the Latin for “those who can’t get along with others”) and work outward.

I personally grew up as a Pentecostal/Charismatic, non-denominational, Bible-thumping, adjective-loving Christian. As such, I fostered a personal relationship with Jesus, was so thankful I had everything 100% right, and my heart broke for the 2,000 years of so-called “Christians” who died and are burning in Hell because they didn’t believe exactly what my church believed. It wasn’t until years later I realized that, if self-righteous judgementalism was going to change the world, we would already find ourselves in the middle of nearly 7 billion Pentecostal Charismatics. And we would all live in Branson.

I went into a bit greater detail, including wild arm gestures and flow charts. I explained that most Christian offshoots happen because of some perceived injustice relating to oppression, corruption, or large hat-wearing. Most of these denominations have agreed to disagree, and now the only thing separating them is doctrine and salvation. Kidding! (I totally had you there.) 95% of arguments between people of different denominations come down to drinking and dancing. A standard conversation between co-workers goes something like:

Fred: “What church do you go to?”
Hank: “First Church.”
Fred: “What do you believe?”
Hank: “Drinking, no. Dancing, yes.”
Fred: “I believe in drinking, but not dancing.”
Hank: “Well, then I suppose I should argue my position every day until we stop talking to each other altogether.”
Fred: “Great idea!”

Several examples of Christians that can be found in the United States, classified by their stance on drinking and dancing:

Catholic/Lutherans – Drinking, Dancing OK. At first glance, much of their style of worship is similar in structure, including their benedictions and creeds. The Lutherans finally wised up, and they never let a drunk guy with a staple gun and a notebook full of grievances out of their sight any more. So, for the most part, they get along well now.

You totally have to respect the Catholics for referring to their meetings as “obligations”. At least they tell it like it is, right? So many of the people I grew up around, through gritted teeth and off-the-chart blood pressure, referred (I assume jokingly) to service in their local congregation as “heavenly”. Right after that, they clutched their left arm and fell over. By comparison, “obligation” is a breath of fresh air.

Baptists – Drinking, Dancing Not OK. Please forgive me, I am completely over-generalizing the Baptists. By “Baptists”, I mean “the neighbors who lived behind us when I was a kid”. That is my only point of reference. The main tenants of the Baptist denomination is baptism by immersion in water, board games, and country music. They also use “substitute words”. For instance, when a Baptist hits their thumb with a hammer, it would not be uncommon to hear, “Shuckey-darn! That hurt like the dickens!”

Though generally nice people, I would not want one of them manning a shotgun at the other window during a zombie invasion. They seem a little queasy. “Shuckey-darn, one of those flesh-eating sons-of-guns got through the door!”

Texans – Drinking, Dancing Not Just OK, But Strongly Encouraged. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are in Texas; you have beer on hand. I’m pretty sure even Mormons in Texas have can holders on their bicycles. If you live in Texas, you MUST successfully perform a kegstand as proof of citizenship when you get pulled over.

To be honest, I was a little hesitant to include Texans on my list of “American Christians”, being that Texas is practically a separate country (except for Austin, where all the tree huggers and unshaven women live).

Pentecostal/Charasmatic – Drinking, Dancing Not OK, So The Members Just Do It In Private And Then Preach Against It. The belief system of Pentecostals and Charismatics centers on the still-active works of the Holy Spirit, instilling their children with a healthy fear of those different than them, and homeschooling.

A great number of these churches are “non-denominational”, which means they are a further removed bunch of people who can’t get along with those who already couldn’t get along with the people before them. You can imagine the turnover rate! Each non-denominational church has the distinction of carrying a unique message direct from God that you can’t hear anywhere else (except the non-denominational church next door).

If I left out your denomination, I am truly sorry. My sincerest apologies to those friends of mine who are Methodist, Episcopalian, Mormon, Anglican, Orthodox, Presbyterian, NASCAR fans, or one of the thousands of other denominations too numerous to name. Perhaps you can still see how your own experience may fit into this general construct.

What I did realize, after a few hours of conversation with my Catholic friend, is that we are not so far apart in our beliefs. (Except for our stances on drinking and dancing–those are deal-breakers, and I will never speak with that heretic again.)

Just a Thought . . . Part 3

March 14, 2012 Leave a comment

As you know, I enjoy a clever one-liner. That is why I enjoy Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, Winston Churchill, and Alf. In my enduring endeavor to emulate emu-related alliteration, Emilio Estevez espouses ornithology. Yes, I am fully aware that makes as much sense as comparing one idea to something that is perhaps more culturally relevant (Flying V). I could continue waste your precious time, but I am consoled by the fact that you are that much closer to death. (That may or may not be an symptom of severe psychosis.)

-A co-worker of mine was selling candy bars to raise money for juvenile diabetes. That’s like selling land mines to raise money for children in Cambodia.

-You could say the tendon behind my ankle is my metaphorical Achilles’ Heel.

-Probably one thing Twitter can do that most people can’t is put billions of statements on the Internet that I don’t care about.

-I am compiling a bucket list. Think of all the things I could do with a 5-gallon bucket!

-Listening to Indian music made me hungry for Indian food. Listening to white people music made me hungry for Hamburger Helper.

-Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings. Every time a car honks, a buffalo farts.

-I wrote a song you can sing along to, even if you forget the words. It’s called “Something, Something, Something”.

-Forget about real estate; I’m getting into fake estate. How would you like to see a property on Mars? Quiet neighborhood, great schools.

-Heart attack symptoms are a lot like watching politicians debate: you may want to pay attention to it, but most of the time, it’s just gas.

-Two kinds of people can’t help but be exposed: liars and flashers.

-A baby is very similar to broccoli. No one really wants it, but if you don’t want your mom to be mad at you, you’ll act like you enjoy having it.

Celebrating Our Similarities!

February 27, 2012 1 comment

As a middle-class white male of average height and build aged 21 to 49, I spend a great deal of time appreciating diversity. While I may be a part of the main demographic that advertisers, business owners, car dealerships, WWE, talk radio, apothecaries, and Men’s Warehouse are vying for, I do respect the differences we all share.

For instance, you might be uglier than me, but I celebrate this fact! Or, you may be fatter then me… good for you! You might even have way more back hair than me; I’ll bet you brave the harsh Alaskan winter better than I do! I salute you, different person!

Today, however, I want to celebrate similarities. My wife and I were watching my nephew this evening, and I realized that babies are not so different from cats. In fact, they bear so many resemblances to one another that I dare suppose babies are nothing more than hairless cats who don’t know how to use a litter box (until you teach them)!

I would challenge any one of you to show me how babies are NOT like cats! Let the comparison begin!


1. Sleeps during waking hours, and bugs you to death while you’re trying to sleep
2. Will eat cat food
3. Instinctually does not like to wear a hat, socks, glasses, or a jockstrap
4. Convinced you are its personal attendant
5. Loves goldfish (a delicious pun!)
6. Climbs trees when chased by a dog
7. Will meow when you put it in a cage
8. Can be left at home alone up to 24 hours with a bowl of food and water
9. When cars drive by, will run into a storm drain
10. When left in a room with a box, will poop in it

I need to take a moment to assure my sister-in-law that I did not attempt all of these on her son. They came back at #7.

Non-Traditional Enemies

February 12, 2012 2 comments

When I was a fresh-faced college kid, the world was surely my oyster (it smelled like seafood and had a small, meaty center). I was new in town, and had no enemies or natural predators. That is, until I started classes. I could hear the sound of my dismay in the distance.

“Clicka-clicka-clicka-clicka-clicka-clicka-clicka” the sound would go, and it grew louder as it came nearer. Students familiar with the sound emptied the hallways, scuttling into classrooms at an alarming rate. I stood speechless it turned the corner, leaving in its wake a trail of Scantrons and complaints.

The Non-Traditional Student

Anyone who has had any college classes knows exactly what I’m talking about. If you have recently attended classes, you probably guessed it already. The “clicka-clicka” sound, of course, refers to a backpack on wheels. Your average non-traditional student always looks like she is on the way to the airport.

Characteristics of the Non-Traditional Student:
1) Backpack on Wheels
2) Water Bottle the Size of an Above-Ground Pool in Hand
3) More Life Experience Than Everyone Else, Paired With the Inability to Keep It to Oneself

God love non-traditional students. They wheel around every book from everyclass every day, no matter what classes they have. By definition, a backpack should not have wheels. A backpack on wheels is LUGGAGE.

Webster defines “non-traditional student” as: n. One who goes back to college after many years in order to earn a degree, wheel around a backpack, and ask a bunch of stupid questions. Not Webster the dictionary guy; Webster Baxter, my alter-alter-ego.

With any luck, you will not be seated near a non-traditional student (NTS). The seat most likely to be occupied by an NTS is in the front row, very middle. These are known as the “obnoxious question seats”. Teachers tend to avoid standing directly in front of these seats, sometimes opting to lecture from an adjoining room.

99.5 times out of 78, an NTS is recently divorced and eager to share the experience in all its gory details. After hearing time and time again how piggish these ex-husbands are, I have decided to become a feminist lesbian libertarian. Also, I disagree with Miley Cyrus’ outfit choices, but I choose to let my teenage daughter listen to her anyway.

The NTS always seems to graduate with a ridiculous GPA of 6.5 or greater. Though not mathematically possible, many teachers will give a grade of “A++++” to avoid ever seeing an NTS again.

By the end of my freshman year, I could hear “clicka-clicka” from 500 feet and duck into a supply closet in plenty of time. I learned how to pick up the scent of hand sanitizer from across the library and blend in with a shelf of Young Adult Fiction with ease.

An NTS has a distinction from the rest of society: despite always having 10 quart-size Ziploc bags of granola and dried fruit, she weighs 350 pounds. The NTS’s body is designed to store up extra fat so that, when the time has come to ask insufferable questions and argue with the teacher, she will be able to do so without sleeping or considering anyone else’s college experience.