chuckles: August 2004 Archives

It's funny how the mind really only needs a couple of small details to turn it into a pattern.

So I'm in the RiteAid 'round the corner from my apartment, looking to caffeinate myself. I walk over to the cooler, and all of a sudden, someone grabs my ass. I spin around, and it's some skanky looking guy, hasn't shaved in a while, shirt completely unbuttoned, cheap sunglasses, gold chain--never seen him before. As is apparently becoming a habit with me, I really have nothing to say. He mumbles some sort of half-apology about how I look just like his son, and I just stare.

Finally, he starts to back away, and I spring into action. In this case, action means grabbing a coke, and speedwalking to the cashier. On the one hand, I felt like I should have had something clever to say. On the other, though, I suppose I can just be thankful that I didn't do or say anything stupid. For future reference, though, if I feel someone's hand on my ass, the only way that's appropriate is if I know who it is before I turn around. In fact, that may qualify as one of my fundamental rules of the universe, somewhere in the neighborhood of Kant's categorical imperative.


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I like my name for it better, but this is a seriously cool idea. Over at McSweeney's, they're accepting pre-orders for The Future Dictionary of America, which is

an imagining of what a dictionary might look like about thirty years hence, when all or most of the world's problems are solved and our current president is a distant memory. The book is by turns funny, outraged, utopian, and dyspeptic.

The list of writers who contributed is a serious who's who, and they've been running some of the entries on their main page, alongside a contest for the rest of us wee folk. From today's offerings:

Icelandic system [iys-lan'-dik sis'- tum] n. (also teen circulation plan) a practice, supposedly based on child-rearing methods in medieval Iceland, of sending teenagers to live with other families, in order to learn adult skills and behavior from grownups they have not yet learned to manipulate and despise. A version of the Icelandic system, the foreign-student exchange, had long been employed by frustrated parents, but the practice went native and exploded in popularity with the publication, in 2023, of Britney-Penelope Leach's bestselling advice manual, A Fresh Start: Why Other Parents Can Raise Your Impossible Teen—and Why You Should Let Them. Leach noted that, away from their parents, adolescents were typically friendly, polite, curious, and altruistic; it was only at home that they became resentful and histrionic "typical teenagers." She proposed placing teens with new families to give them a less-cathected but still affectionate and protective adult-child relationship focused on the gradual assumption of adulthood. The federally funded Domestic Youth Exchange now enrolls approximately 50 percent of high-school juniors and seniors and is credited with significantly lowering juvenile crime, drug use, pregnancy, depression, rudeness, and TV-watching. —KATHA POLLITT

As you might gather, I'm a huge fan of the original Devil's Dictionary and its many knockoffs, and so this sounds like a great deal of fun to me. I'm not supposed to be reading anything extra-manuscriptal right now, but I'm allowed to pre-order, right?



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This page is a archive of entries in the chuckles category from August 2004.

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