The Gross In The Machine

Last weekend, on the way to my wife’s folks’ house in northern New Jersey, we decided to roll the dice on a certain segment of humanity.

Side salad: That would be the same wife someone has been trying to dig up dirt on via search engines, at least according to my blog’s Top Searches feature–an entertaining little deliverer of information most of the time, that on occasion only serves to further grow my paranoia exponentially with its revelations. “Peter Rosch DUI,” “Peter Rosch’s Wife,” “Peter Rosch Kill Kill Kill,” “Peter Rosch Sucks,” and so forth. Is it the private detective that’s been reaching out to me regarding a former business venture? Maybe. Am I the one who entered “Peter Rosch Sucks” into the google search box? Probably. (Many thanks to my old pal Warren for introducing me to the term ‘Side Salad.’ It’s a nice way to deviate from the main story, and I’d not want him to stumble upon this blog one day, see that I’d adopted it, tried to pass it off as my own–even as I’m sure some people don’t care for it–and then also start entering bizzarre combinations of search terms as he plots his version of my demise).

So, as I was saying, me and the Mrs. took a detour on the way out to the in-laws. We decided to pop-off to a small town along the way to test-drive of a new vehicle at a dealership. I won’t name the vehicle, mostly because I don’t want any of my readers judging me by that particular book cover, and also because I don’t want the dealers of that particular brand to stumble on this blog, realize what vehicle we want, and use that information to get the upper-hand in any potential future negotiations. (It’s safe to say, it’s a real level 9 day up in the skull today). All I’ll say is, it’s a car we’ve deemed to be worth considering the notion of actually buying a new car–something I don’t think either of us ever considered doing prior to having to deal with potentially wicked snow-storms up in our future northern stomping grounds.

We didn’t buy the car, we might not ever buy that car or any car, unless…

It only occurred to my several hours after what I had repeatedly deemed as a very successful interaction with not just one, but three different salespeople at the dealership, that maybe, just maybe, having let one of them take our current vehicle for a spin without us–in order to assess the trade-in value–might have given him ample opportunity to capital F with the car. A long shot to be certain, if for no other reason that even if he had put the voo-doo on the vehicle, he’d have almost no reason to believe that we’d come back to exchange our old ride with his dealership specifically. But, I then began to speculate that the rigging of potential buyers’ old automobiles in order to induce a new sale might be a globally fraternal sort of understanding amongst the hockers of shiny new whips. And so, anything he might have done to encourage us to part with our reliable Brooklyn beater, would ultimately serve the greater good of the brotherhood of auto-pushing-sleazesters.

And that realization–made only days after hearing a story about two creatives who loathed a co-worker so intensely, that every Friday they’d urinate on his desk chair, giving it enough time to dry before Monday, but still ultimately stink–had me putting that prank and others into circulation in my head. Did they tweak a bolt or a screw? Did they leave human feces under the driver-side seat? Did they attach a tracking device underneath the fender in order to come and steal it later? (I believe that a timely check on my vehicle to prevent a ticket in Jersey City made just yesterday, might have thwarted that very plan, as I met a suspicious stranger peering into my vehicle who upon meeting me eye-to-eye awkwardly dismissed his activities). Have they planted a small speaker and camera in the car in order to occasionally attempt to frighten me with ghostly Henry Kane coos of “Whooooooooooo, whooooooooooo. You’re gonna die in there, all of you, you are going to die?

Maybe. Probably not. But maybe. Let’s call it a Premium Plus package of Paranoia. Heck, If I was selling something that lost a great deal of its value the minute my customer had it off the lot, in order to put food on the table–I might try at least two of those four options before throwing in the towel. Definitely the last one, as that footage of scared drivers reacting to my Henry Kane impression, while careening into oncoming traffic, might just supplement my legitimate income while making me micro-famous on YouTube.

Karma Punk’d

Two days ago we moved into a furnished sublet in Brooklyn for a temporary stay. The apartment’s owner is a seemingly lovely woman. Had I met her more than twice, each time for less than ten minutes, I might feel inclined to not even use the word seemingly. Her place is aces; a full-floor unit with a great vibe, comfortable furniture, solid AC units, and a bed that for two straight mornings has left me as recharged as any I can remember. There is one rule during our stay here however, one that I’d agreed to happily after spending six months surrounded by the jungle – we were asked kindly to not kill any bugs during our stay – specifically, we were asked to abstain from killing the one or two tiny cockroaches we might see when operating the kitchen sink. I assured our host that this was a task we’d honor, as we’d spent six months living with all manner of insects, and had always done our best to accept them or remove them without killing them, cupping them in various glasses and placing them back into the wild. That said, I’ve come to believe we are on some sort of Buddhist reality TV show. The first two nights here, I’ve encountered far more than the ‘one or two tiny’ cockroaches I’d expected – any trip to the bathroom at night means conducting basic hygiene routines amongst at least a half-dozen small to medium-small roaches – there aren’t hundreds, not even dozens, but there is always just enough to make me think there are an infinite number more lurking all around me. I’ve killed not a one, nor do I intend to. To be honest, aside from the one that crawled onto the couch with me last night, they don’t really phase me the way they might have prior to our residency in Costa Rica. But, I have come to believe there may be hidden cameras recording our resolve – and that in some small television station production room somewhere, a producer, possibly our landlord of two-weeks, has a release-more-roaches button she or he can press while shouting, “I’m going to break these two yet!” I don’t blame her, filming us going back on our word, while commiting violence against anything – even cockroaches – probably makes for better TV and higher ratings. But it isn’t going to happen, I refuse to be Karma Punk’d for the idle thrills of the lazier Buddhists of the world.

The Man Behind The Mirror

I put an abnormal amount of energy into my daily effort to not go looking into mirrors, public and my own. I don’t fear Candyman, and Western folklore legend Bloody Mary has never paid a visit. To be honest, I just don’t like looking at my face any more than is necessary. There are times however where a quick glance into a mirror is helpful, if not essential, to moving forward with my own life. So I condone public mirror peek-a-boos for the following: New clothing purchases, the observation of a haircut’s progress, post sloppy meal tooth clean-ups, and self-delivered spit polishes before meeting clients, friends, or present and future guy or gal pals. Since even just these four things make a personal ban on public mirrors impossible, I do recommend that like me you occasionally act as if you know there is someone watching. A person either directly behind that mirror, or checking out your activities via the camera they’ve placed on the other side of it. I’m not a total loon – I don’t think every mirror provides sick jollies to deviants, nor do I believe I am on The Truman Show. But, just in case, to keep the powers that be as they relate to public mirror invasions of privacy on their toes, from time to time I’ll flag the bird or give a hardy salute or hello straight into the looking-glasses of the world. Maybe you’ve even seen me do it, by which I mean to suggest you are one of the many men or women behind the world’s mirrors.

Death by Cement Truck

My mother is undoubtedly behind many of my most rational and irrational fears. She knows this, and so I’m not worried about calling her out on it publicly. She might remember the date perfectly or at the very least what age I was when she told me, “I want you to be careful today, and stay away from cement trucks. I had a very bad dream about you involving one last night.”

I’m placing her delivery of this particular request to me at somewhere between age twelve and age fifteen. Nonetheless, for the last twenty-three to twenty-six years, anytime I stumble upon a cement truck, the mixing variety, I make every reasonable effort to keep it a good distance from me: cross the street, take another block, slow the car down, protest their use entirely with other frightened rubes warned by their own premonitions outside of city hall. As I said, any reasonable effort.

Cement trucks are not a daily nor even weekly observance in New York City, so as dire warnings go – hers or others – you wouldn’t find it high on my list of things for which I keep an eye out. And to be honest, there have been times when I’ve tempted the fates, and walked within ten feet of one just to prove my mother wrong. Other times, I’ll seat myself across from these mechanical beasts and just study them, cataloging all of the obvious and hidden ways a cement truck my be able to take me out using what I’ve garnered from the Final Destination series of films to develop the goriest possible scenarios.

Of course now that I’ve copped to this paranoid gem, I can’t help but wonder if that one evil person with no TV, out to get me, will incorporate a cement mixing truck into his or her plans for my destruction. Maybe serving up my paranoid thoughts in blog form isn’t a good idea at all. Only me could talk me out of writing more about me on the grounds that it might be disadvantageous to me by outlining for me-haters how to get the edge on me.

Three Minutes for Number One

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause behind my public bathroom/sinister abduction correlation. I surmise it is probably a combination of the following: A true tale or two about people disappearing from rest stops. My mother’s own branding of public facilities as the most foul of places and her insistence that my brother and I hold it until we got home no matter how distant home may have been. The hidden and often nearly invisible backside location of many anybody-can-use toilets at gas stations and the like.

Bottom line? When my wife has to use the can she’s got about three minutes before I count out a fourth. If she doesn’t make it back by then, terror grips my being and I start to consider all my options: Asking another woman to check on her, going in myself, whistling our special whistle from outside in the hopes that I’ll hear her do the same, or simply giving in to the notion that she has done been took.

It is at this point, when a fifth or sixth minute comes to pass, that my mind begins fabricating how telling her parents, friends, and possibly the police about her public bathroom abduction will play out later that day. Even as I am aware that typically female facilities move much slower, I am helpless to stop the crazy.

You might be asking, “What if she has to go number two?” My wife doesn’t go number two, at least not in the same mind that created the public bathroom anti-abduction three minute rule. Duh.