44. Become terrified by a mouse.

You’re on your way into the kitchen, drooling in anticipation over the bowl of Cap’n Crunch you will soon be devouring. “Crunchitize me, Cap’n!” you yell at no one in particular. Your cat cocks its head and gives you an odd look. You don’t care. You’re too focused on obtaining part of a complete breakfast.

You round the corner, and right away you feel that something is off. You’re not quite sure what it is. Did someone move the table? Was that pan on the counter yesterday? Did the paper towel rack slip down an inch? Is that disgusting mouse scurrying across the floor wearing a tiny hat?

Upon closer inspection, no, but the very fact that an insidious vermin exists there in the first place is enough to send you into hysterics. You spastically dance around the kitchen, completely clueless as to how to rectify this situation. You think that maybe things will improve if you hop up onto the counter and yell instructions at the inch-long monster from up there. The mouse does not listen, uninspired by your supervision skills.

You frantically glance around for something with which to catch the harmless creature. You grab a pot, inch down off the counter, and sidle up to the animal with as much savanna-inspired furtiveness as you can manage. But at the last minute it darts between your legs and continues to scurry around the linoleum and into a hole, while your high-pitched screams of terror echo into its tiny ears.

Blame for all of this shifts to the cat. “YOU!” you scream at the amused feline. “This is all YOUR fault! You’re FAILING at your JOB!” The cat listens attentively to your rant, sits down in the center of the floor, and licks its crotch in rebuttal. You sigh in anguish and carefully investigate the hole in the wall into which the minuscule furball has absconded. You approach it carefully, as if the mouse may have grown to thirty times its size and will tackle you to the floor as documented in that Super Bowl Doritos commercial. Luckily, all you get is silence, a distinct sense of mockery, and, as always, a heaping pile of shame.

So if you want to suck at life, become terrified by a mouse. Its 1.2-ounce frame of pure destruction is enough to give you nightmares for weeks, and that’s a certain brand of indignity that can’t be eradicated by a piece of cheese on the end of a spring.


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43. Run into a plate glass window.

You’re in the kitchen, frying up some bacon – as you are wont to do at 3pm on any given day of the week – when a bloodcurdling scream is heard emanating from the bowels of your backyard. You stiltedly lunge for the window, spraying yourself with copious amounts of grease in the process, and glance outside. You see nothing. Reaching for some ointment to soothe the third-degree burns you’ve just sustained, you hear another shout of panic. You throw open the curtains to reveal your buddy in the backyard, holding a large bone and shouting “I found a femur!”

Screw the bacon! There’s a femur in your backyard! You throw on some shoes, tear off your “I *heart* Rachel Ray” apron, and bolt for the door, grabbing your video camera on the way out. Nothing can get in the way of this perfect moment. Nothing.

Except for a giant sheet of glass. You slam into it with the force of a thousand elephants, which is appropriate, as the sound you are now making is equivalent to that of a wounded pachyderm. You writhe around on the floor, blindly groping for some sort of explanation as to why you are not in the backyard yet. What is this mysterious force field? Why is it surrounding your house? And why does it now feature a smudgy imprint of your sweaty body, complete with limbs akimbo?

As you slowly regain both your consciousness and your ability to reason, you eye a suspicious-looking bottle of Windex perched ever so precariously on a nearby table. “Damn you, incredibly effective cleaning product!” you scream, choking its plastic neck. Your buddy, meanwhile, is now surrounded by a camera crew and talking to Larry King via satellite, already having secured a number of book and movie deals.

So if you want to suck at life, run into a plate glass window. You now possess both a broken nose and a broken spirit, but don’t worry – you won’t feel the pane.


***Thanks to paperdreamer for the suggestion, and to my family for finding a femur in the backyard.

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42. Land on Boardwalk.

The perfect plan is in place. You’ve been working on it for hours. You own the railroads, the utilities, the yellows, AND the greens. Both Get Out of Jail Free cards are sitting in front of you, gleaming like a newly acquired insurance policy. Sure, you’ve recently fallen upon hard times, but now your thimble is positioned ever-so-critically upon the Short Line Railroad. All you need to do is pass Go, and you’ll be in the clear.

You cradle the dice in your sweaty, shaking hands, eying the shiny red hotel atop that infernal blue box. Anything but a four. Anything but a four. What are the odds of rolling a four anyway? you shout at your opponent. Like a billion to one?? You blow into your fists, declare that papa needs a new pair of shoes, and let the little cubes of fate dance onto the table.

They tumble and roll, bouncing across the board like a couple of drunken pigeons. Deftly avoiding the houses you’ve built on Marvin Gardens and prancing delicately past the top hat, they finally come to a rest directly atop the stern face of Uncle Pennybags. Both you and your opponent lean over in anticipation. Staring back at you, with a distinct air of mockery: a one and a three.

Your opponent launches directly into a celebratory song and victory dance, while you continue to sit there, gaping in shock. What did you ever do to deserve this? You paid your school taxes! You took care of those street repairs! You were even elected chairman of the friggin’ board, for Pete’s sake! What the HELL?!

Shock is slowly but surely replaced by rage. You hurl your thimble across the room. You tear up paper money into shards, throwing them into the air, where they rain down upon you like happy confetti. This opposite effect only further infuriates you. You pelt your opponent with houses. You demolish the Bank. You drop-kick the board out the window. Nothing remains but a few scattered Chance cards and a lonely dog.

So if you want to suck at life, land on Boardwalk. You can destroy the game, but only the game can destroy your pride.

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41. Forget how to operate your tongue.

That Colonel Sanders is one convincing dude. What with the pointy goatee and the jaunty bowtie and the strains of “Sweet Home Alabama” wafting through the air, how are you to resist the tasty temptation of a bucket of chicken? Sure, “family-style” is meant to be shared by an entire family, but who’s to say you don’t need a whole week’s worth of calories in one sitting?

Ignoring the disapproving looks from the drive-thru employees and the copious amounts of grease dripping from the paper bag, you speed away, cackling and salivating. You pull up next to your favorite lake, claim your favorite picnic table, and lay out your favorite sauces and dips in a pattern that spells out your name, as is your way. You tuck a napkin into your shirt, grab a hunk of fowl carcass, and prepare to savor each and every one of those eleven secret herbs and spices.

Biting into the soft, fleshy meat, you squeal in delight as heaven fills your mouth. How did it come to be that we mere mortals were permitted to experience such bliss? Offering songs of praise to God, honey mustard, and the state of Kentucky, you revel in the culinary orgasm taking place in your food hole. What could possibly ruin this beautiful moment?

Well, so wrapped up you are in this Carnival of Scrumptiousness, you’re about to lose control over your bodily functions. This will spell deeper, smellier trouble down the road, but for now it means only one thing: that tongue of yours has wandered into the wrong place at the wrong time. You chomp down on what you think is a luscious strip of delectable white meat. But, according to your pain receptors, it is clearly not.

You howl in agony, dropping the devil drumstick to the ground. Accursed foodstuff! You dance around the picnic area, frightening small children with your sobs and frenzied thrashing. There’s nothing you can do about it, of course, but that doesn’t stop you from screaming at inanimate objects and waving at your mouth as if it were on fire and a gentle breeze is just the thing to put it out. Spitting out blood, you slump back down onto your bench and begrudgingly resign yourself to a week of pain and lisping.

So if you want to suck at life, forget how to operate your tongue. Sure, you’ve possessed this key piece of anatomy since birth, but as it turns out – practice does not make perfect.

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40. Fail to maintain consciousness.

Of course you didn’t mean to stay up until five in the morning watching the I Love the 80’s Marathon. Of course you knew that you had to get up at seven o’clock in order to get to work in time to give your big presentation. And of course, you certainly shouldn’t have been drinking. But, as always, you were powerless against the charming witticisms of Michael Ian Black. You were weak.

So here you are, in bed, wafting gently through a dream featuring Members Only jackets, The Breakfast Club, and Steve Guttenberg. A strident, evil blaring suddenly cuts through a vision of the Gremlins. Your alarm clock dances and sings around your nightstand, thrilled to death that the sun has risen again. Groggily, you blindly grope in its general direction, eventually slapping it across the face and somehow managing to silence its cheerful rings. You look at the clock and yawn, then give strict orders to your body to drag itself out of bed and begin the day.

Which it promptly ignores. Against your will, you drift back down to the mattress and snuggle under the covers, while the lying hemisphere of your brain tries to persuade the other, gullible hemisphere that you’re only resting your eyes for a few more minutes. Of course, this only leads to a prompt loss of consciousness that no amount of thunderstorms, foghorns, or heavy artillery fire can stop.

Forty minutes later, you literally fly out of bed, jumping so high you practically destroy the ceiling fan. How could this possibly have happened? You were UP! You were awake! The alarm clock did its job, and you did yours! How could you have thrown it all away by foolishly submitting to the needs of your desperately sleep-deprived body?? Now you’re ludicrously late, the meeting has already started, and here you are, brushing your teeth and getting dressed all at the same messy time, your delicately crafted powerpoints now useless, mocking and berating you in the form of a colorful pie chart.

So if you want to suck at life, fail to maintain consciousness. Oversleeping is easy; doing it with finesse takes skill.

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39. Attempt a journey up the down escalator.

So you’re at the mall, gabbing away to your friend Sal. And you’re talking about miniature porcelain figurines of children doing adorable things, which is one of your favorite topics. “Did you see ‘Jimmy Breaks The Cookie Jar’?” you exclaim in joy. “I simply can’t wait to get my hot little hands on that priceless treasure!”

You drag Sal over to the mall directory, squealing in delight as you realize that the third floor contains a Hallmark Store. “Precious Moments music box!” you shriek, not feeling the need to put a verb in that sentence. You make a beeline for the escalator, giving nary a thought to people in your way, Sal’s wrist as you practically rip it off, or whatever direction you may be headed.

Which turns out to be quite the mistake, as you and Sal are now barreling towards none other than the down escalator from the floor above. You want to go up, but this particular device does nothing but bring an endless string of pedestrians down to your level, where a sale on discontinued Christmas-scented Yankee Candles is luring hordes of people who sadly possess no olfactory receptors.

But you notice none of this. Sal is screaming for you to stop, but you don’t listen, mostly because you’re still not quite sure whether Sal is a guy or a girl. You drop its wrist and continue prancing towards the mass of steel and rubber handrails, fully prepared to glide on up to your heavenly destination. But that’s not what happens. The moment you set your foot upon the grooved step, you know something is wrong. It’s not whisking you forward in a flurry of momentum and anticipatory-music-box-arm-flailing. It’s stopping you dead in your tracks, refusing to accept you, as if employing some sort of bouncer-like mechanism.

By now you’ve realized your mistake, but your equilibrium doesn’t catch on as quickly. You tilt and wobble and fall over yourself several times, attempting to catch your balance but failing each and every time you take a step – useless steps that only whisk your foot closer to the razor-sharp escalator teeth that your mother always scared you shitless about. They wait there, glowing green, chomping at the bit to devour your helpless feet in a bloody mess of carnage and shoe destruction. You finally dance away to safety, gasping for breath and trying desperately to ignore the shoppers laughing at you as they exit the escalators that only they know how to properly use. Sal’s laughing too. That bitch/dickwad.

So if you want to suck at life, attempt a journey up the down escalator. You may be participating in the mall equivalent of running head first into traffic, but at least the only thing you’ll end up with is a bruised ego. And a plethora of rubber burns.

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38. Explode a pen.

Finally, your first paycheck has arrived. You drool in anticipation as you rip open the envelope, thrilled beyond belief to be earning $6.50 an hour working as Chief Ball Pit Manager in the PlayPlace over at McDonald’s. It doesn’t provide a life of luxury, but the confused sobs you hear as you rescue children from a suffocating, muffled death really makes it all worth it.

You prance into the bank and grab one of those pens that are attached to the counter with a chain. Resisting the urge to swing it around your head like a lasso and take out everyone standing in line behind you, you calmly bring it to the back of your check and begin to sign your name. Unsurprisingly, however, this pen has been dried up since the Reagan administration. You’ll have to use your own.

You reach into your pocket and procure a writing utensil, gleaming with delight, almost as excited to be participating in fiscal responsibility as you are. You eagerly start to John Hancock that sucker, then stop for a second. Should you use cursive? Or calligraphy? Perhaps a dash of hieroglyphics? While pondering this conundrum, you reflexively put the ticking time bomb into your mouth, and it’s all over from there.

Ink everywhere. Your hand. Your clothes. Your face. Your mouth. Some of it has drifted up into your hair. Frenzied handprints begin to dot the bank counter, illustrating for posterity the journey of a person desperately searching for some form of paper towel or other wiping device. Your face and mouth now resemble that of a swamp monster, grunting and shrieking incomprehensibly, perhaps partaking in some sort of mating call. And your clothes are ruined forever, unless of course you choose to wear them for the purposes of impromptu Rorshach tests.

So if you want to suck at life, explode a pen. You may swallow more ink than recommended, but Poison Control assures you that there will be minimal permanent damage. Unless you value your brain cells, which, let’s face it, there weren’t too many of to begin with.

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