- hello Joel Howe
- Username: JoelHowe
- In response to: "What's the one thing you're never gonna give up?" I have plenty of vices, but if I were told I could never have any of them again for the rest of my days, I'd truly miss only one: chocolate milk. And not the powder. Syrup. Dear God yes, syrup.
- JoelHowe's latest answers
- Surprise! This terrifying mascot is your father by blood! And it's not a costume!
No, I'm not such a big fan of surprises. I like the ones that other people seem to get, like birthday cake and presents. I don't get those kinds of surprises. Mine typically fall into three different categories:
(a) That thing you did, said, or wrote down several years ago is coming back completely out of context to bite you in the ass!
(b) Six of a particular type of animal have decided that I look delicious.
(c) That wasn't a fart.
There are others interspersed throughout my life, and some were even of the positive variety. Still, I think I'd like a little warning before my next big surprise.
- Pane / Pain: A Halloween Homophone
A few years ago, on a night much like this one, except for slightly more on October 31st, there was a shindig of considerable proportions at my then residence. My friends were experts at throwing parties, and somehow managed to have a house full of strangers and familiar faces, which is pretty impressive if you ask a fuddy-duddy like me.
In any event, one of the strangers turned out to be considerably... stranger. She had been working at a Halloween costume store weeks earlier, and was invited by my roommate on a whim. She was not a particularly attractive girl, but my roommate tended to eschew the typical hunter mentality, drop the rifle, and hurl dynamite into the woods and hope the law of averages would eventually lead him to victory. Regardless, she accepted and, more surprisingly, showed up.
I first saw her as she was standing near the french doors of the third floor living room. French doors, for those who do not know, have window panes in them. That's important, write that down. She caught my eye and, knowing I was my roommate's... well, roommate, pushed me up against the wall.
"Where's Jed*?" Lips envelope the lower half of my face. "What?" I sputter, before they came back a second time, even more aggressive than the first. "Where's your roommate, Jed?" This girl... was trying to get to my roommate... by making out with me first. I'm no Napoleon, but I would have drawn up a different strategy.
"I don't know!" I say, before making out for a few more minutes because hey, free make-outs. About three minutes of that, and I start to get a little self-conscious of this, and the fact that this girl is clearly not socially equipped to navigate the waters of proper roommate seduction. "I'll go find him!" I say, and scurry off, intending to do nothing of the sort.
After scurrying aimlessly for about thirty minutes, I decide to go back to the third floor. Why not? I'm not the pick of the litter, I might as well update her on my imaginary quest for Jeb and face suck for a couple minutes. Also, scurrying is tiring.
She's standing in the same spot. In fact, she hadn't even changed angles. It's like she had erected a statue of herself to mark the occasion of tongue bathing a guy to somehow get to his friend. So I walk over, and she repeats, "Where's Jed?" I dunno, I say, and she repeats her face-suckery, as if I'd hidden him in my lower lip and was acting coy.
She pushes me up against the doors and goes all out, flailing like a howler monkey on ecstasy. The sound of lips flapping, costume fabric brushing against walls, smashing glass... oh wait, that's not expected.
Crazy Girl had, in her moment of passion/seduction/request for information, slammed her kneecap through one of the glass panes in the french door. And she. Was. Bleeding.
"I'm okay!" she said, as the skin began to peel off of her knee bone. "I'm FINE." She was, of course, not fine. Ven*, another roommate of mine, and I led her into the bathroom to size up the damage. It was ugly. And bloody. And skin... flappy. So bloody, in fact, that Ven thought it appropriate to make a joke about her having AIDS. He always was the pure essence of etiquette and tact in delicate situations. She did not, of course, have AIDS. You'd like to think that AIDS education had been prevalent enough that the word "AIDS" would not cause a panic throughout a party, but you'd like a lot of things that aren't going to happen. Everyone started worrying, going for the exits, and just generally making me mourn the state of health education in my country.
After a few minutes, we decided to call an ambulance, because Halloween parties really peter out when people actually die at them. You'd think that out of all the year's festivities, Halloween would be the best to have a corpse at. Not so, according to many lawyers and judges. The ambulance showed up, and a fire truck with it, because screw it, this isn't humiliating enough for all parties involved quite yet.
"WHERE'S JEDDDDD!" Are... you... KIDDING ME? On the stretcher, being carted into the ambulance, screaming like a banshee. "WHERE'S JED?!" Finally, Ven yells, "He'll meet you at the hospital." He was, of course, unaware of who she was or really that she was at the party in the first place. But at that point, we were just trying to numb the pain for her. I think the paramedics were probably better at it.
So, then they left, and none of us ever heard from her again. Mostly because none of us knew who she was, to be fair. Jed had no idea she'd even been there, and I managed to cause an event WORTHY OF A FIRETRUCK AND AN AMBULANCE by kissing a girl. So that... yeah. That was memorable.
And we never did fix that window pane. SPOOOOOKYYYYYY.
*names have been changed to protect the identities of the Nowhere-Close-To-Innocent
- On finishing books
Finishing what I start has always been a part of my personality, I guess. I can’t bear to leave a morsel of food on my plate. I will not abide a few glasses left in the sink after cleaning most. The thought of leaving some of the dirty clothes in the hamper during a wash brings me great pain. And just like all of those things, I have to finish a book once I start it. It doesn’t really matter what it’s about- it can be fiction, non-fiction, some third kind… whatever, it has to be read. After all, if I don’t read the END of the book, what was the point of reading the beginning? I don’t claim to be some bibliophile who plows through a hundred books a year, but the books I do read, I go from front to back, and make sure I understand them.
That is, except for one.
Although I ordered it with high expectations and a real sense of pride (I was reading an OLD book! Like some kind of fancy colonial guy with high socks and frilly things!), from the moment I began the preface of "Democracy in America," I knew deep in my heart that I had flown too close to the sun, and was about to come plummeting down, wax a-drippin’, into Can’t Finish This Frickin' Book Junction. To provide some background, it’s a book written by a Frenchman regarding democracy and its effect on the United States during the first years of the Constitutional government. How it formed, what it’s done for the peoples’ demeanor, all of that fun stuff. I thought I’d enlighten myself by reading this thing, but just getting to chapter two was like trying to tread and stay afloat in pea soup. The sentence structure gave me seizures. The descriptions, tangents, and explanations to the reader gave me mumps. I’m pretty sure I caught crabs from the prose but if you listen to idiot doctors, they’ll always tell you it was from grinding against that homeless person.
The worst part is that "Democracy in America" has been around for two-hundred years, and has been read by citizens, politicians, and a host of others. People look to it as an excellent piece of work. Not the same type of people who want to split Green Eggs and Ham into chapters, mind you- intelligent people! So I refuse to disagree with them. I just concede that however my brain was put together, the part that allows a person to read this book was left out. If I had to venture a guess, I think it was replaced with a chunk that gives me an unnatural lust for blueberry muffins.
But every once in a while, the Hunger will grip me. I’ll get up from my seat and walk into my study. I’ll reach to the top shelf and pull the thick text down and try to read it. I’ll absorb every syllable, re-read every line I need to in order to conceive the meaning of the author’s word. And every time, about fifty pages in, I will slam the book down and shriek at the heavens, “I CAN TOO READ, DAMMIT!” and go find a Dr. Seuss book to prove it.
- On Awkward Moments
Awkward moments are my most vivid memories, so this prompt is perfect for me. I've seen a lot of Facebook pages in my day, and more than a few state that they "love awkward moments". Really? You're sure about that? You love them? We'll have to agree to disagree on that one, because regrettably, every awkward moment I've ever encountered is etched into my memory with a knife crafted from Stainless Steel Embarrassment. I'll use only my very first for this answer. There are countless more.
When I was in pre-school, I once stole a Fisher-Price peg-shaped doll from the bucket of... well, the bucket of Fisher-Price peg-shaped dolls. I still remember that the little guy's body was green, and had the head of an old man. I needed him for my home collection, as I guess all of my figures were young and in need of an older member of the community to dispense wisdom, yell at them for no reason, and vote based entirely on socially conservative issues.
There were two moments of pure awkward in this event. The first was getting caught. My mom, unbeknownst to me, had memorized the faces of all of my Fisher Price dolls, and realized I had stolen it as soon as she saw it in my hand. She outed me immediately, in front of my friend Brendan and his mom. I had never been in trouble for anything Commandment-Breaking worthy before, so it was most likely the first time I'd ever felt the sensation of pure awkward- that heat on the back of your neck you get when caught red-handed in full view of everyone. I had no defense, either. The stares of Brendan and his mom skewered me like swords, and I was without armor.
The second awkward moment was my attempt to casually return the doll to it's rightful bucket the next day at pre-school. See, my mom had told me to return the doll, but she never told me to tell the teacher what I'd done. At that age, I'd already learned about contractual loopholes, and as soon as my mom was out of sight, I pocketed the doll and awaited my chance to make right what was once made wrong. At play time, I made my way to the bucket and pulled Ol' Greeny from my pocket, dumping him back into the bucket. Unfortunately, while I'd masted loopholes, I still had some learning to do on "looking around before doing something incriminating," because when I looked up, one of the girls from class was intently watching me.
In a burst of intuitive dishonesty, I told her that the bucket was getting low on guys and I was adding to it. I don't think four-year-olds are able to articulate "Bullshit!", but I'm pretty sure that was the sentiment on her face. So I slinked away, knowing she knew. That burning on my neck gnawing at me the whole time.
So that's the story of the Great Toy Heist and my first experience with awkward situations. There are hundreds more, but this is not a site dedicated to the writing of novels, so I'll leave it at that. So what makes an awkward moment so awkward? Those stares, that burning on your neck, and for me, the knowledge that this moment in time will actually haunt your dreams for all of your life.
- STOP, AND I'LL SHOOT!
As a young and terribly unoriginal child, I first wanted to be a police officer. I guess kids just have a thing for guns and arresting people. Although I think America is better off not having me as a police officer, because my understanding of how the "arrest" process worked was always a little hazy.
I'm the eldest of four siblings, so my first four or five years' worth of playing games was pretty much exclusively with my parents The neighborhood we first lived in was mostly older people and leftovers from the hippie era who grew weed in their homes. In retrospect, I should have been arresting them I suppose, but seeing as how I wasn't allowed to cross the street, I had to settle for taking down my own father on some trumped up charges I'm still a little unclear on.
The game went as follows: I would tell my dad that I wanted to play cops and robbers, and my dad would comply. So I would chase him around the house and after a brief pursuit, I'd yell "FREEZE!" My dad would put his hands in the air and stop running, and I would run up to him and point my finger at his head and shoot him in the face.
Now this went on for some time. I remember at one point my dad tried to explain to me that if the robber puts his hands up and surrenders, a cop will not typically gun him down execution-style in the middle of the street for the crime of "running around like a bad guy." Apparently, I was playing a game more in line with the Gestapo, because it didn't stop me from shooting him halfway through his explanation. It was probably for the best, because he eventually would have gotten to the booking and processing part of the arrest, and I didn't want to hear about the paperwork involved.
Nowadays, I'm 26 and still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, but I think I'm woefully under-prepared for a life in fighting crime. My childhood training never really got me ready for domestic violence or public intoxication. My dad really should have encouraged my dreams more by violently resisting arrest and drinking heavily before playing, but I guess no parent gets it right 100% of the time, right?