Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shaggy Dog

Sometimes when I talk to people on the phone or online they tell me, “Hey, you should blog more.” Aside from my aversion to using the word “blog” as a verb, I have a little bit of a hard time with this because I never really know what it is that I’m supposed to “blog” about. The other day my friend called me to tell me that there were apparently a couple of rabid men running around his town and his paranoid boss told him he couldn’t leave his house. I told him to spread goat’s blood over his door and he (and his unborn, first-born son) will be fine. The next day a description of these events and their lunacy appeared in his blog and I thought, “If something like that happened to me, I would actually have something to write about.” I wasn’t wishing for rabid men to be stalking my town, but something equally crazy and quintessentially Guatemalan.

Usually I just start to write things and never finish them. Not long ago I wrote a post about how as volunteers here we need to find the silver linings of Peace Corps Guatemala. For instance, my former sitemate and beer pong nemesis, Zane, finished his service and moved on to the Promised Land. I was thinking about how even though it was sad that Santa Maria Chiquimula lost its favorite son, the silver linings of this was that I now unequivocally hold the titles for “Tallest Person in All of Santa Maria Chiquimula” and “Best Basketball Player in All of Santa Maria Chiquimula.” I was thinking about making one of those championship belts that wrestlers wear to show off my new status and wear it around town. I never finished writing the post though, because I started writing about what possible silver linings I could find for being out of the country for the best season in the history of the Oregon Ducks football team. I found none and the post just ended up being really depressing so I never did anything with it.

I also wrote one about my Midservice Conference, or a fancy Peace Corps term for “Half Way Done!” I wrote another about all of the weird stuff I do in the many hours that I am alone in my room every evening, like spending entire nights doing a bad Mike Tyson impersonation solely for my own amusement, or seeing how many times I can hit the same spot on my wall with my cheap toy gun, hoping the plastic BBs don’t come back and hit me, or screaming out my favorite lines from “There Will Be Blood” in my best Daniel Plainview voice while cooking dinner. (“I AM THE THIRD REVALATION!!! I AM THE THIRD REVALATION!!! I TOLD YOU I WOULD EAT YOU!!!) I re-read that post after I wrote it and immediately decided it was much too revealing about my current state of insanity to post online for the masses. It became a journal entry instead.

In the last season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” there is a scene where Larry David chastises a couple for telling their “how we met” story. “Let me guess how it ends,” he says, “…you met!” This is sort of how I feel about most of the stuff I start out writing on here. For instance, I could have written about my Thanksgiving here, but unless there was some sort of crazy event (like rabid men running around) everyone would think to themselves, “Let me guess how it ends: you ate, drank, and were merry? Yeah, thought so.” And, well, they’d be right; in a nutshell that’s exactly what happened.

So where does that leave me? I have no rabid men, no consolation prize for missing a historic football season, nothing much to say about the Half Way Done! Conference, nothing that I should say about my copious amounts of alone time, and nothing but “how we met” stories. Now you understand my problem.

However, aside from “how we met” stories there is also something called a “shaggy dog” story. These were perfected by one of the funniest people to ever live, Norm McDonald. A shaggy dog story is when someone tells a really long and funny story full of amusing tangents and descriptive details only to get to the end or to the punch line and it is intentionally a huge let down. Everyone usually ends up being really disappointed with the whole thing because of the ending. The point isn’t the punch line, it’s the story. I’ve thought about writing some really long, made up shaggy dog stories about fantastic things like candy trees and unicorns on here only to end them with, “…anyways, then I found five dollars in my pocket,” but I figured that would just piss everyone off.

Anyways, this blog post is a shaggy dog story.