Tag Archives: maps

Mom Loves Netflix

30 Jan

January 30, 2018

I was spending a nice evening at home with my mother, I wrote, knowing that she may read this. It was a Saturday night but hey- do I have anything better to do? No I do not.

We were watching TV. More accurately, we were not watching TV. It was on but I was at the computer where I may have been one of the last humans on the planet to finally see an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. It stars some Jerry Seinfeld fella you may have heard of. Mom was reading the newspaper.

Reading the daily newspaper is a lost art, one that frankly deserves to be lost. Think about it. The paper gets printed in the morning, full of stories written about news the night before. It gets bought in the late morning then sits around until afternoon or evening. By the time you read about a bank robbery, the crooks have already been caught and are planning their escape. Many is the time, and this is true, I’ve said to Mom “wow that was some horrible tragedy yesterday” and she’d say “yeah, the Mets lost again.” Meanwhile I was talking about the latest natural disaster in which 287 Sumatrans died when their village was flattened by a hurricane.

But the plight of the poor Sumatrans is not what we’re talking about here. (Honestly, I say if you can’t stand the heat, get out of Sumatra.) It is the sorry state of television. There was nothing worth watching on TV that night, unless you want to see the 697th rerun of The Big Bang Theory where Walowitz gets shot into space, or an episode of Redneck House Flippers Live!

I asked Mom if maybe there was something she wanted to see on Netflix. She said that Netflix has all those good TV shows she’s been dying to see. How long has she been dying to see them? For about eight years, which is also about how long she has had Netflix. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet, she has no idea how to access Netflix. “What time is the Netflix on? Does it come on after Judge Judy?”)

Well this was her big chance because I actually know which button to press to get Netflix. HINT: It is the same button you press to get everything else. So, Mom, what should we sit down and watch?

“I want to see Orange is the New Black.”

 I was thinking more in the line of the new Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Me to Mom: “You want us to watch a show about women getting beat up and sexually assaulted in prison?”
Mom: “I heard it was good.”

So I did what any good son would do. I watched another episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (guest: Joel Hodgeson) while Mom watched Walowitz getting shot into space.



Now It Can be Told! The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

11 Nov

from February 2, 2007

The following is a true story. It really happened and I had a major hand in it. No names have been changed to protect the innocent. However, some names have been changed to protect me. I may be in line for some payback if the wrong party reads this.

The Setting:

Valentine’s Day, 1988 or 89. I was working in a kids clothing store with the rest of the participants and hatched an elaborate plot to prank a “friend” of mine.

The Participants:

1-Marvin Ming- the victim. (Not his real name, but the real one is just as silly.)

Marvin was (and may still be) Chinese.  He also hated being Chinese because he had many very weird and bizarre family issues, mostly dealing with his mother. He also had a strange sense of honor and likened himself to a Klingon. This is true. Worf from Star Trek was his role model. He occasionally slept on a workout bench instead of his bed to remove himself from “temptation.” Being very leery of the answer I never asked him to explain further. Once, to pay off a debt, he brought his brother in to work for him in the clothing store. He just ordered his brother to do his work and for some reason the bosses let him get away with it for a while, until they realized that, insurance-wise, they were in a position of extreme liability. Marvin  would also go to Atlantic City with his family. I once accompanied them. On the way back we made a detour to Philadelphia to surprise his older brother. His brother was not happy. Not happy about that at all. I found myself eating dinner in a Chinese restaurant located in the basement of what I’m sure was a better Chinese restaurant while a big family argument swirled around me, all in Chinese. Never was I happier to own a walkman.

Marvin also got himself mixed up in a public library porno scheme. I’ll make this brief. Marvin claimed to have found, inside the dust cover of a normal library book, a home-made catalog for amateur porno stories. The idea was you’d put your request back in the book and come back later to get your story from another specified book. Marvin, Marc, and myself, being more interested in the detective angle than Marvin’s gonzo porn, staked out the library and spied on the patrons to see what was going on there. We thought that we spotted the perv running the thing checking the books for the requests, but we were never really sure. Marc and I both suspected then, and I’m sure of it now, that Marvin set up the whole thing himself. BTW- Marvin has a foot fetish.

Marvin also had strange speech patterns and strange voices that he would put on. Imagine Ted Baxter as a short Chinese guy who is worried about appearing honorable and is in love with Star Trek and you’ll only be sort of wrong. He also speaks in a higher register.

Because of Marvin I once went to a total stranger’s birthday party where Marvin was the only guest invited. Marc and myself had never met the guy before but were the only other people there. This is a story in itself, but I’ll just say that that night we were lied to by the guy’s father, who claimed to have written most of the Twilight Zones and some 1950’s Motown hits. We also saw a lump of misshapen metal that was allegedly an actual lightsaber prop.

Marvin was also in love with a lesbian named Rosalyn, and we were always pressuring him to tell her how he felt, and that’s the crux of this prank.

2- Rosalyn.

Rosalyn (not her real name) was not an accomplice. In a way she was an unintended victim of this plot. She was a lesbian and therefore had no interest in Dave. Dave was probably the only man on the planet who didn’t know she was a lesbian and had dreams of them running off together (in some oddly honorable way) and having honorable non-Chinese children.

In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I asked her out years before, but no one knew back then that she was gay. I just chalked it up to another in my long line of “successes” with women, so finding out that she was gay was a relief to my ego. And yes, at the time of this prank, I was fully aware that she was gay.

3- Audrey.

The security guard/garbage man of the store. Imagine a 300 pound black woman in her 30’s who cheerfully did all the heavy lifting, trash hauling, shit-cleaning, and smelled like a rhino and you are getting warm. She was extremely nice though, and most people liked her. She also had a crush on a guy there. One day the guy was showing off his new electronic organizer (this was back in those pre-Blackberry days where if you had a two-line display and could input a phone number and a name you were cutting edge.) She wanted him to put her number in. This was her slick plan to get him to call her. He said he couldn’t, that he ran out of space for women’s names and could only fit men’s. She said “put in Aubrey, that’s French.” He replied that the organizer would know that she isn’t French and it wouldn’t work. This seemed to fool Audrey. She was our accomplice.

4- Marc.

(Marc, there is no way I’m changing your name. You’re in this up to your neck.) My co-conspirator and closest friend back then. Check out his profile and listen to his music. As he would undoubtedly want me to say “Buy his CD.” All I’ll say about him is that in many ways we were of one mind. Usually not in any productive or practical way, but we were in synch.

5- Me.

The less said about me the better. As you all know, I am a humble man.

There were a few others involved in small ways that I’ll mention in due course.

The Set-Up.

The original plan was simple. Rosalyn was working on Valentine’s Day and we’d have flowers sent to her from Marvin. Then we’d just sit back and watch. OK, it wasn’t the most thorough plan in the world. We were just going to throw a spanner in the works and see what happened. We didn’t think about things like what Marvin would do when he heard about the flowers- and who he’d blame. We knew we we’d be the main- hell, only- suspects but that didn’t matter. 

(Quick aside- Marc and I worked with a really slow-witted jerk who worked in the maintenance department. One day he was mopping the floor and walked away a few feet, leaving the mop and bucket in the middle of the hallway. We grabbed the mop while the guy’s back was turned and hid it behind a door not three feet away.  Again, nothing subtle or well-planned here. But it worked. The guy couldn’t find the mop, despite it being quite clearly in view in the crack between the door and the frame. He looked everywhere. He leaned against the door. He scratched his head. After asking around he went to the boss and told her that he lost the mop. The very mop that he had been using just a few seconds before. In a nearly empty area. The boss walked to the back and, using the clever skills that got her to the lofty position of children’s store manager, spotted the mop in under a minute. She bereted the guy, who was completely confused about how the mop could possibly have gotten there. The boss pulled us aside and asked if we knew what happened. Displaying the worst poker face on the planet, I told her that I had no idea. I said it between guffaws. So to say that I was pretty immature and liked to do stupid stuff like that is to say, in effect, that I haven’t changed much.)

The Prank.

It was Valentine’s Day and Rosalyn was working the night shift. None of us were working that night. I picked up a bunch of flowers and we drove to the store. We were going to wait in the car while Marc’s brother, pretending to be a delivery guy, brought in the flowers and we’d watch through the front store windows safely unseen in the car. I made up a very official looking shipping list and invoice, complete with fake signatures and confirmations and gave it to Marc’s brother, along with a clipboard and blue vest. He totally looked the part. And one other thing: Along with the flowers I included a love letter and a map.

The love letter was typed, so the writing couldn’t be traced. It was unlike any love letter you may have read. It included strange references to Chinese mythology and Star Trek, and strongly implied that he stalked her and peeped through her windows at night. It had the same bizarre phrasings that Marvin often used and also made the statements that Marvin knew that Rosalyn loved him back and they were now ready to get married and have children. It was perfect. It was totally believable.

The map was kind of like a child’s version of a treasure map and illustrated with stick figures. It showed the bizarrely circuitous routes Marvin would take to meet Rosalyn. He’d climb trees, cross rivers, scale fences, take a nap, buy a coke, fight dogs, and eventually, after overcoming a multitude of obstacles, would meet Rosalyn, who actually only lived a few blocks away. To any one who knew Marvin, there would be no doubt, no doubt at all, that the map and letter were the real deal.

We were ready. We were prepared.

We parked and sent Marc’s brother out. Audrey was standing by the front door and was waiting. She was in on the whole thing. As soon as the “delivery man” got near the store Audrey started waving her arms like she was trying to call off a carrier landing. She ran outside and hustled Marc’s brother back to us. She squeezed herself in the car with us and told us there was a serious problem: Marvin was there. After all of our stupid pressure he finally decided to give Rosalyn a real Valentine’s gift.

This was a big problem, but the plan was too far gone, and too damn funny, to stop now. Audrey said that she’d go back and wait for Marvin to go to the break room. Then she’d signal us and we could set the plan in motion. That is what we did.

You may be wondering why we would still send in flowers and claim they were from Marvin when Marvin was right there and would immediately dispute them and ruin everything. All I can say in our defense is that we found the joke even more hysterical now, and Marvin was such an idiot we were sure this would still work out. We had no idea, no inkling at all, of how great this would end up.

The flowers went in. All the girls oohed and ahhed over them. Rosalyn was paged to the service desk. She signed for the flowers (somewhere I still have the form she signed.) and opened the envelope and saw the map. All I could see was a look of shock and horror come over her face, then she went out of our view.

Marc’s brother got in the car and we went home.

The Aftermath.

So I come into work the next day, Mr. Innocent, Mr. Know-Nothing-At-All. As far as everyone was concerned, I had no clue anything happened. Did I get a story! Everything I will now report to you is true and was confirmed by multiple sources, including both Marvin and Rosalyn themselves.

Marvin had unexpectedly shown up that night wearing what he called his Bruce Lee outfit. It was an all-white suit that was supposed to be a duplicate of what Bruce Lee wore in Game of Death. Unfortunately, Marvin had just thrown it together out of his old wardrobe, so the jacket was a different shade of white than his pants, which was a different shade of white than his shirt, which didn’t match the shade of his shoes. The entire effect was hard on the eyes but perfectly good for our sakes.

He had also brought a present- one of those “flowers” that uses two batteries and “dances”  when there’s noise. He also gave her a card, which he signed “from your eccentric friend.” It was almost like he was helping us! Bear this in mind- he knew he gave Rosalyn a card and a flower.

Rosalyn accepted all that as a friend and thanked Marvin. And that was it. Marvin went to the back and hung out and Rosalyn kept working. No big deal.

Then the prank flowers arrived. She read the letter, saw the map, and freaked out. She panicked. Everyone there read the card and freaked out. Marvin was now seen as a stalker- and he was in the back waiting for her! They even thought about calling the police, that’s how afraid they became.

She left the flowers in the front and never went to the back again to see Marvin. Some of her friends went to have a serious talk with him. They said that the flowers went way too far. He assumed they meant the “flower” he gave her. They told him that the letter was over the line and she didn’t like him that way. He thought they meant the friendship card he gave her and argued that he only wrote it as a friend. Everyone walked away from this conversation unsatisfied- Rosalyn and her friends were convinced that Marvin was a lunatic (and that wasn’t much of a stretch. Everyone already thought he was very weird.) and Marvin became very confused and upset. He couldn’t understand why Rosalyn would reject him so violently when all he did was a friendly little gesture. And why did her friends say that she wouldn’t ever marry him? That seemed to go too far and was just insulting. But true to his honorable nature, he just smiled and determined to be a nice guy that night.

The store was in an uproar. The girls were scared of Marvin and were not going to let Rosalyn walk home alone. Marvin was confused and was just going to play it by ear.

Audrey watched the whole thing unfold and somehow managed to keep from exploding with laughter.

The store closed, everyone got ready to go. Marvin came up front and just stood around like a goofy mannequin since no one would go near him and Rosalyn was steadfastly ignoring him. Marvin was determined to walk her home despite the fact that she was very pointedly not going within 30 feet of him.

Marvin left first. He then ducked behind a parked car.

As he tells it- “I dropped my library card and the light was better under the car.” Do you need me to pick this one apart? It may be the worst excuse for anything in the history of excuses.

As Rosalyn tells it “He hid behind a car to follow me. After we walked by he stood up and followed us, about 20 feet back.”

Decide for yourself.

Marvin didn’t try to talk to her. He just followed. His explanation- “we live in the same direction.” No, they didn’t.

So I come in the next day and everyone has to tell me the story. I had to pretend that I was shocked by everything. Well, other than the flowers, I was shocked by everything.

Marvin was spoken to by the manager to ensure that he wasn’t a threat to anyone. Everybody who heard the story had to talk to Marvin. The letter and the map were on everyone’s lips. And somehow Marvin didn’t hear about any of it. As far as he is concerned, to this very day, all that Rosalyn received was a toy flower and a friendship card.

No one ever suspected that it was all a joke. Rosalyn stayed very terrified of Marvin, and Marvin stayed in the dark as to why she was ignoring him. The store didn’t stop buzzing for months. Marvin’s reputation, already questionable, was ruined. Everyone was either scared of Marvin or found it insanely funny.

Only three of us knew what really happened.

Marvin never found out about the prank flowers, the letter, or the map, though he sometimes wondered why some people said he gave Rosalyn a bouquet of flowers when all he gave her was one toy dancing flower.

We had a joke on the entire store. One that still got talked about years later. No one ever forgot it. It was never revealed. It dovetailed so perfectly into actual events that it blurred the line between prank and reality. I’ll never know how I kept a straight face while talking with Marvin.

There are a lot of good parts to a prank. The anticipation to this prank was great. I worked so hard on the letters and map that I couldn’t wait for the day, like a kid before Christmas. The better part of a prank is the payoff. That’s the whole reason you do a prank. When we planned this we had no payoff. We had no idea what would happen. We were just goofing around and didn’t care. Well, the payoff was amazing. There is no way we could possibly have planned it that way.

So the truth is out. If one day you receive some very odd letters and maps from an “eccentric friend,” I will state here and now that I swear that I have absolutely nothing to do with it. It must be one of those serial copy-cat pranksters out there.

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