So I finally graduated. Four and a half years of hard work (well, only about two and a half years of hard work. I kind of slacked off for the other two) and what do I finally have to my name? An empty diploma cover. (-_^)/ The “actual” diploma is forthcoming, pending a review to see if I have completed all of my classes. Then I will be the proud bearer of a bachelor of science degree in Genetics, Biology and International Relations (E.Asia) with a certification in Technical Japanese. Sounds glorious, doesn’t it?! What will I be doing with all my hard-earned credentials? Teaching english in Japan. Ahhh, good to see it wasn’t all for naught…
“Huh? Which way should I look again?”
The ceremony was long. Very very long. And of course, like the idiot that I am, I decided to go out drinking the night before. I drank extensively – have I mentioned before that I am a lush? anyway, so I drank a lot and didn’t get back until around 4am. Of course, my parents show up at 7:30 am, all bright and cheery like those sporty happy perpetually-cheerful and chirpy people who get up at 5 am to go for a jog, then crunch on granola all day while talking about how we have to “put on our sunshine faces”. You all know what I’m talking about. There’s one in every office/family.
“Yes, I have an empty diploma case. And this makes me better than you”
Both my parents are on a new “health kick”. My father is swearing up and down by the so-called Atkins diet wherein for some inexplicable reason, a presumably sane and board-licensed medical professional got it in his head that iit must be healthy to only eat protien and nothing else. Thus we’ll go out to dinner and my father will eat like 4 steaks, but then get visibly distraught when I motion towards some mashed potatoes, saying something along the lines of
“I can’t believe you’re eating that potato michael! don’t you know carbohydrates are the enemy..?”
As if one lowly spud is going to single handedly take me out as opposed to the four pieces of dead cow … I mentioned to him the fact that DR. ATKINS IS DEAD..! (heart attack! ) but he seemed unfazed. He did however, say something about how he survived vietnam, so a little protien isn’t going to kill him, as if fighting the vietcong in the meekong delta and dieting have something in common. (did I spell ‘mee kong delta’ correctly? I’m too lazy to look it up)
Both of these people (and my very very dour brother, I might add) show up on my stoop at 7:30 am. I am hungover. plus I am still in my clothes from last night which reek of tobasco sauce. why? don’t ask. I don’t know why, but somehow a bottle of tobasco got spilled on my shirt at some bar last night. I’m going to have to ask Sam about this later.
Samantha, my compatriot in crime the night before looking remarkably sober.
anyway, so I’m in a tobasco-soaked shirt, smell like liquor, my face all unshaved and scraggly, hair looking like a ferret had a fight with a mongoose in it and hung over as all hell. I am definitely pimping this robinson crusoe-style. (nothing says sexy like looking like a cast-away).
My parents are insistent that I prep myself for some “preliminary graduation shots”, whereas the only thing I am insistent about is that I don’t want to soil myself, yet my head hurts too much when I move, so I can’t make it to the bathroom. (eventually I do and an embaressing relapse to sixth grade is avoided) (errr.. did I say *sixth* grade..? *awkward silence..*)
anyway, so I make it the ceremony and sit down in the sea of black gowns. The chancellor steps up and starts babbling on, using words like “future” and “matriculation” and “a journey not into the workplace, but into the untapped potential inside each and every one of you” (I felt like I was watching a life-reaffirming episode of the carebears, only this time rainbow power didn’t shoot out of anyone’s stomach) (which by the way, whenever the carebears would lean back and stick their tummys out to shoot out rainbow love or whatever it was called, I swear it always looked like they were exposing themselves pedophile-style. it’s a good thing their fuzzy rainbow gentiles were mercifully concealed by poorly animated rainbow-fur.)
“Is my hat on straight…?” – fashion conscious to the last.
anyway, so anyway, the chancellor has just begun to speak, I’ve just begun reminiscing on discomforting carebear-related-memories of my youth, when all of a sudden…
GROWL!!!!! goes my stomach. loud. I mean, LOUD!
The girl next to me turns around and raises her eyebrow in alarm while glancing towards my stomach. I try and play it off like it was the dude next to me.
now she knows it’s me. I shift uncomfortably in my seat. you see I appear to have forgotten to EAT BREAKFAST. now normally my not eating breakfast wouldn’t warrant all-caps, except that this time, 1) I am hungover 2) I am stuck in the middle of a commencement ceremony 3)This stupid ceremony is going to last 2.5 hours.
It’s like one of those snickers commercials where they’re like “Not going anywhere for a while…!?”. only now my stomach won’t shut the hell up. it’s seriously insistent on making its presence known and I just keep praying that the various speakers dont pause and just the exact right moment when my stomach decides to let out a big ass sound. well, of course they do, and even the marshalls (read: ushers with big red moomoo-like robes) start giving me dirty looks as if this is something I’m doing on purpose, because I like hot girls looking at me with pity because they think I have some sort of gastrointestinal disorder.
Here I am with my brother, resembling more a belligerant drunk than a refined graduate.
AND NOW FOR A STORY ABOUT A PENIS…
I got my hair cut yesterday. I went to this place by my house called “Cinema Hair Studios”. well, I should have known straight off by the fact that they refer to themselves as a “hair studio” as opposed to “cost cutters”. It’s all in the name, you see. That, and the fact that the receptionist offered me a choice of “herbal tea infusion” or “sparkling parisian mineral water” when I entered. *shudder*
My appointment was with a fellow named Jake (not his real name – changed to avoid a lawsuit lol). Jake was very tall. Jake was obviously very well endowed. Neither of these things would deserve special mention if Jake was not wearing the tightest pair of package-contouring jeans I have ever seen on a man. (ever!) these jeans, had to be seen to be believed. Jake walked towards me, extending his hand to shake mine, and all I could do was stare, mesmerized by the undulating shrink-wrapped package bobbing its way towards me in all its denim-covered glory. you could clearly, clearly see both the meat and the two-veg, my dear readers.
“Hi! You must be michael!” he says, extending his hand to shake mine. I am uncomfortably aware of the fact that his package is protruding a full two inches in front of his body. I stand somewhat off to the side, to avoid accidental package-to-package contact, forbidden between two men in public, straight, gay or other.
“Ummm, hi johnson…err, I mean Jake” I say.
we sit down. after talking about my “vision for my hair” (I swear to you he used that exact phrase), he walks over to his counter and starts rummaging for various hair cutting implements. I start to relax. Jake walks back behind my seat and starts drizzling what looks like pink oil on my head. I sniff, and detect the distinct odor of lilacs.
Hmm, Jake, what exactly is that that you’re pouring on my head?” I inquired hesitantly.
Vat? Dees fragrant parfume…?” I blink, because for some inexplicable reason, Jake has started speaking to me in a french accent. He seemed mighty american a moment ago. This is getting surreal.
Uhh, yeah. Tha-” – and a moment before I can finish my inquiry, jake starts massaging my head. Seriously.
Zees is zohm, how you say, massage oil for ze scalp.” Now dont get me wrong. I consider myself a pretty high class fellow, with my button up polo shirts and non-pleated-front khakis and what not (rolling eyes). But I’m proud to say, I’ve got a little ghetto in me too (you know what they say – “you can take the boy out of the hood, but you can’t take da’ hood out of the boy. And that down-fo’ whateva-street-thugz part of me was at that very moment reeling at the fact that I was in an upscale salon (nay, scratch that; hair STUDIO”, sipping herbal-infusion tea getting my scalp massaged with some lilac oil goo.
Having been brought into disquieting contact with a veritable plentitude of unsettling contraditions within myself as a human being, I shifted uncomfortably under the light of existentialist gaze. By the way, if you actually took the time to read that last sentence, you now know how I managed to fill 20 pages in my final poli sci essay. Blow lots of hot air. Blow lots of hot air.
Anyway, so I’m sort of trying to figure out if I am comfortable with my scalp getting the lilac oil rubdown treatment, when I sort of conclude what the hell’ for it *does* feel good as hell. So I am expanding my comfort boundaries, settling back in the chair, getting my dome massaged when I become aware of a very very distinct, very very *prominent* feeling on my left shoulder. I hesitantly crack open my eyes and peer in the mirror.
It is Jake’s package.
For those of you who have ever felt a package (or own one yourselves) before, feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph. for the rest of you package-un-initiated,…It is a particular sort of feeling, a contradictory mix of mobility and fixation, of squishiness and substance, of wholeness and separate parts. .. a fleshy protrusion that is made all the more threatening by its characteristic sorting into pendulous and poke-y bits, the quintessential “meat and two veg” And it’s jabbing me in the shoulder.
Jake is speaking to me. But it’s like a scene out of a movie where you can see people’s mouths moving, hear some muffled sounds, like a tape in slo-mo, but you can’t make heads or tails of anything because there is a gigantic penis outlined in denim periodically slapping up against your shoulder. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else ・dear god, believe me I tried. But as those of you who have ever had a shrink wrapped package resting on your shoulder before, you know it’s next to impossible to think of anything else. Jake is asking me how I about how long I would like my hair on the sides and all I can muster is a perfunctory grunt as I stare with abject shock and horror at the reflected image of the package, bobbing in the background just behind my shoulder like some sort of championship boxer zeroing in for the knockout punch, ducking, bobbing and weaving, threatening to perpetually throw a right cross at my poor defenseless shoulder. I start trying to subtly shift my shoulder when I see it incoming in the mirror, so as to avoid accidental package contact.
ZZZOZOOOOOMMM…!!! A near miss!
ZZWWOOOSSHHH..!!! The package zings by to the left!!
FOOOSSSHH!! I manage to dodge it again!
Of course, it’s hard to be subtle when you’re desperately trying to dodge a prize-fighting penis in a barber’s seat. Jake has noticed that I’m shifting around like I’m sitting on a hot potato.
Ieverything okay monsiuer?” he asks. I turn my head upwards to answer him, when it happens – distracted, I don’t notice the incoming package until it’s too late.
As some of you know, English was not my first language. I used to speak Spanish well until I was in first grade, with an occasional smattering of chinese thrown in here and again. In addition to the chinese and spanish I used to speak, I also took 4 years of Japanese in college. Despite this wide linguistic base, I’d have to say that English probably still remains my favorite language, if for nothing else, because of the immense flexibility which it posses when it comes to describing things.
The reason why I bring this up is because while English is a veritable treasure trove of descriptive adjectives and adverbial compounds, I could not (and still cannot) come up with a phrase that appropriately describes what it feels like as a guy to have a gigantic package shoved into your armpit.
There is a tense pause as we both realize what has just transpired. So dramatic, so definitive, so *unmistakable* was this last package-to-armpit contact that it could no longer be denied. A slow look of realization creeps across Jake’s face as he begins to understand what he has unintentionally been doing for the past 15 minutes. We both shift uncomfortably in the ensuing silence.
“So umm…” He begins, for reasons inexplicable having reverted to an american accent, “How long did you say you wanted the sides again?”; he moves his package back to safe distance, outside of my personal comfort space which they taught me about in self-defense class .
Umm, a couple inches is fine”, I reply.
Uh, okay. Comes the simple reply. And he proceeds to cut my hair in silence, as I amuse myself by examining in detail the various Aveda hair product posters on the wall.
Final cost of haircut + being poked in the armpit by a package?: $45
ANYWAY – so there you have it folks. The trials and tribulations of Michael Panda, blogged here for your enjoyment.
And just because it’s my duty as a big brother to embaress him, here’s a picture of my younger brother. Please try and ignore the fact that part of his hair is green.
Those are MY GLASSES by the way, dear brother. I want them back…! (>_<)P
Now listening to: “Sasha – Xpander (mixed by ATB)” (I wanna have a cool acronym for a name when I become a world famous DJ!)