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Sometimes I feel like my brain is just not equipped to confront all of the myriad opportunities for cleverness that present themselves each day. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I was leaving a restaurant with some friends and saw a limousine parked out front. And you know what? I completely forgot to approach the limousine and pretend it was my car. I will neglect to do that one out of maybe every 20 or 30 times, but each time I disappointment my friends like that, I regard it as an important lesson and another excuse to keep my wit sharp like a Ginsu, or a pencil or one of those sharpity-sharps-sharps they sell on the TV. Well, I almost blew another opportunity today. Almost.

Like every day, I rolled out of bed this morning around 5am to hunt for night crawlers. Afterwards, I immediately began to mentally compose and fulfill my daily To Do List. After checking off my first two items - performing my morning toilet and searching beneath my bed for zombies, I gathered up my dirty laundry, stuffed it in its giant, specially-made sack, and started hauling the heavy bundle down the block to the laundry service I frequent. I like their store policy, which is hung prominently behind the cash register - OUR CHILDREN WILL NOT WEAR ANY OF YOUR CLOTHING TO SCHOOL PICTURE DAY: GUARANTEED. I think it's a fair policy.

I don't know what I was daydreaming about on my way to the laundromat - mermaids, the ethical questions of recombinant gene theory, mer-men - but whatever it was, I didn't notice the sweet-faced elderly gentleman walking along the sidewalk toward me. I mention this as a disclaimer because I swear to you as I stand here today, that if I'd seen him coming I would have readied my wit that instant. Because when I finally did notice him I realized immediately that he was a force of extraordinary charisma. Imagine Oscar Wilde at 60€with a distended belly€and a CONWAY department store bag€and an ill-fitting t-shirt that read, "RECOVERING PORN STAR." Dashing? Yes. Scared? You bet I was. He'd clearly been sizing me up for a while because as he got close enough to meet my eyes he very deliberately switched his gaze from me to my giant sack of laundry and back to me, as if to create a narrative. And then he let the funny fly:

"What are you carrying there? Your money?"

I had been zinged. I felt myself go slack, which is something a well-trained body like mine never does. Suddenly, my bag of "money" felt like an unwieldy burden. That comment was more than funny. It was as if, of all the possible words in the universe that could have been conjoined at that moment this old man chose exactly the right ones, in their proper order and with inflection so precisely and shockingly hilarious it was like gazing upon the face of God. (which I've heard can have terribly negative, long-term effects on your vision) I think an ordinary person would have just taken a vow of silence from that moment on.

But I am not an ordinary person, as evidenced by my extra row of teeth. I knew I had only a moment to respond. A tiny window. Listen - there was no way I was going to deliver anything approaching the sweet perfection of "is that your money?" I mean, let's be fair - this guy had the advantage of age and experience on me, and he definitely had ample time to prepare his attack. And maybe it was the impetuousness of youth, or maybe it was my smug hatred of the elderly, but I secretly wanted to one-up him - to whip his ass, first intellectually and then with a length of rubber hose. So here's how I responded:

"Ha, yeah€I wish."

Not too shabby. I think mumbling underneath my breath was a nice touch; it was a defiant gesture. But let's be honest - it was certainly no "is that your money?" I could do better, and that chafed me like a pair of tight-fitting slacks.

But by now I was already closing in on the laundromat and he was practically rounding the corner, and out of sight forever, like a will-o-the-wisp with a thyroid condition. And he was going to leave feeling enormous, chewing on the flavorless remains of my "I wish" comment. I looked back over my shoulder at him and thought to myself, I've got to do better. Here he is - old - and I am young and ready to inherit the earth and all its comedic possibilities. He's slowly growing incontinent, while I have complete control of where and when I'm going to shit myself. I should be conjuring up comments like "is that your money?" I am sharp, sharper than sharp. I split every surface I contact with the thunder of my wit. When friends are thinking about getting vanity license plates, who do you think they call for ideas? (and before you respond, please realize that whether they call me first or not is merely a technicality as far as I'm concerned; it is simply important that they call me at all.)

In this fleeting moment I saw all of its importance laid before me, the opportunity to seize the torch of genius that was being passed from his ragged claws to my lustful, well-manicured hands. I needed to complete this ceremony with something irrefutably clever. So, just before he turned that corner, I summoned up every young, wild and rampant creative instinct within me, and shouted:

"Hey old man! Why don't you go eat a big bowl of fuck!!"

Game. Set. Match.


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