>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson

March 4, 2007

Essential New Word of the Week: shit de resistance (definition hint: poo perfection)

The Oscars have now come and gone, and I sure as hell didn’t watch. This year, thanks to time-delay and vigilant censors, there was virtually no chance of seeing a starlet’s gratuitous nipple slip or limo-crotch-flash. Perhaps more importantly, I wasn’t nominated in a single one of the main categories (as far as I know). How could the Academy overlook me? I was Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

Those are good enough reasons to avoid a telecast that could have included a winner using his speech to plug fucking Norbit. But the best reason to ignore Oscar is this: Lately, movies suck worse than a hooker with an overbite. Hollywood hasn’t produced anything truly great in years. And I think the only reason the public hasn’t noticed is because television has been so awesome lately.

Think about it. There are dozens of kickass programs on the air right now. Some industry analysts even say we’re living in a golden era of TV. That might sound a bit overblown, but just yesterday I saw a show about lingerie models traveling through time to learn erotic underwear lessons. Each season of a quality series is like an epic movie broken up for easy digestion.

“Having another me around would be strangely erotic. I would know all the things I like.”

You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own sofa, perfectly customized to the unique contours of your ass through years of lounging. There are no tickets to buy. No overpriced snacks. No sticky floors (though I can’t necessarily guarantee that in my own apartment).

TV wasn’t always so great though. The viewing public had to endure a long era of hackneyed plots and stilted dialogue to get to the promised land. This era encompassed the 80’s and early 90’s, and the guiltiest parties, by far, were sitcoms. The plots were so formulaic that they could have sprung from the laptop computer of Aesop himself.

I’d see these tired plots and I’d always marvel at how stupid they were. For example, if you are a sitcom character from a bygone era, here’s a typical week of your life:

Monday: You mistakenly think you’ve won the lottery and act like a jackass.
Tuesday: You go on a disastrous camping trip.
Wednesday: You get bonked on the head and contract temporary
Thursday: You wage a practical joke war against your neighbors/coworkers.
Friday: You appear on a game show but don’t win.
Saturday: To earn an inheritance, you spend the night in a haunted house.
Sunday: Clip show.

Anyway, to fill time during my house arrest for punching that koala bear (she totally had it coming, by the way), I’ve been mentally logging some of these sitcom conventions, and how they would play out in real life if I were involved. Pay close attention, because you never know when life will throw you a twist that can be resolved in exactly 22 minutes.

Let’s start at school. Every student at Sitcom High must take a health-ed class, and the old “babysit-an-egg-for-a-week” project is always on the curriculum. You know the one—if your egg is broken or lost at the end of the week, you fail. Apparently, this is something that real high schools used to do to discourage girls from becoming pregnant or even sexually active. Thank you very much, Moral Majority.

This assignment is typically given to boy/girl pairs, in a misguided effort to teach them about parental responsibility. But I already know everything about parental responsibility, having sponsored a family of orphans from El Salvador for just pennies a day. This assignment would be way too ridiculous to take seriously. Simply egging the teacher’s house would be poignant, but I could put my cholesterol-filled offspring to better use.

Women desire men who will make good parents. This occurs on some Darwinian level, or maybe because of latent daddy issues. If I ever had that egg assignment, I’d really impress my partner. With the right moves, I’d get her in bed, where I’d try my hardest to get the naive bitch pregnant. And that goes as far as poking holes into condoms. Why waste time babysitting an egg when I could be fertilizing one?

This would make a profound statement about the futility of this insane assignment. Yes, we got an A+, but my partner is starting to get morning sickness. Lesson learned, I guess. And the best part is, we can split custody. She can keep the baby, and I’d give the egg a good home (on an English muffin with some hollandaise sauce).

A lack of imagination, or perhaps a limited casting budget, means that sitcom characters often have long-lost identical twins. When these characters meet, they usually switch places in an attempt to improve their lifestyles or maybe to reconcile divorced parents. This plot device alone has paid for the ruby-studded mansion where the Olsen twins live in between stints in rehab.

Twins freak me out. I keep expecting their eyes to turn red and send me to hell. Little bastards. And they always have a secret undecipherable language, which usually suggests plans for world domination. But if I ever met my identical twin, I’d try to play it cool. I wouldn’t have any kind of agenda. I don’t need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I don’t even like walking to the bus stop.

I am kind of worried, however, that there would be some kind of sexual attraction between me and my twin. I’m not gay, but I have to think I wouldn’t have a problem getting it on with myself. Well, the amount of tissue paper I go through proves it. But having another me around would be strangely erotic. I would know all the things I like. I realize this is pretty fucked up, but I prefer to think of it as narcissism, rather than incestuous homosexuality.

Ultimately, I’d have to get rid of my twin, though. I value my individuality too much. Plus, I couldn’t put up with all my crap. We’d fight it out and be deadlocked. My friends on the sidelines wouldn’t know which one to shoot. You might think I’d tell them to shoot both of us in a noble attempt to prove I’m the original, but fuck that. I’d tell them to smoke the miserable bastard. I trust my friends to understand how my mind works.

Sitcom characters are always getting locked in rooms, stranded on rooftops, or stuck in elevators. Usually, it’s at an inopportune time; they’re missing something important after promising they wouldn’t. If and when I ever get roped into marriage, I might just ride a lot of elevators that day, in case fate is trying to tell me something.

They’re invariably stuck with others who will increase the dramatic tension; a hated co-worker, a love interest, etc. In a best-case scenario, they’ll have spontaneous, passionate sex. Otherwise, there might be a lot of fucking charades to pass the time. Eventually, these retards remember how to smash a window, climb through a vent, or use a cell phone, and they emerge with a deeper understanding for one another.

I think if I found myself in this situation, I’d have a more pragmatic outlook. The first thing on my mind would be whom I could sue, and for how much. Some fucking locksmith owes me big time for making me miss my kid’s softball game, especially since I forgot his last birthday.

The next thing I’d be thinking about is survival. Is there enough air for us, especially at the rate I plan on smoking? It might be days or weeks until rescue arrives, so I’d have to figure out who’s the best candidate to be killed and eaten. That’s easy enough; it’s always the fattest one. And if it’s me, I’d make sure to periodically mention that I have AIDS, leprosy, and full-body herpes. Sure it would be embarrassing, but suddenly I wouldn’t seem so appetizing.

Denizens of the Sitcomverse are very trusting. They always go on vacation, leaving their beloved pets in the care of neighbors and friends. But those pets have a way of dying and/or running away. You can’t blame them; being a pet must be hard enough without having to deal with the sound of disembodied laughter every 45 seconds. The irresponsible caretakers inevitably buy a replacement, and try to pass it off as the original.

This strikes me as pretty nervy, by which I mean stupid. Most animals are unique enough for their owners to recognize a stand-in. If not from the new pet’s appearance, then surely from its pooping habits. When I steal food from the fridge at work, I always try to replace it, and I get caught over half the time. If someone can identify a replacement sandwich, then an Irish Setter’s got no chance.

Nevertheless, if I’m looking over a friend’s dead dog (Rover?), I’d give this scheme a try. Except I’d make it interesting. Instead of using a dog that’s similar in appearance, I’d buy one that looks nothing like the original. Maybe a different breed entirely. Maybe even a different species. Then, when I give the dog back, I’d maintain innocence right to the end. I’d insist that my friend’s dog was in fact a ferret when he gave him to me. I’ll have others corroborate it. The poor idiot will think he’s in the Twilight Zone.

In the real world, blind dates are a never-ending stream of frustration and disappointment. Trust me, I know. But in sitcoms, blind dating is awesome. Everyone is either super-hot, or else a nerd. And even the nerds are only one makeover montage away from being super-hot themselves. With these odds, it’s easy to see why so many sitcom guys manage to schedule two dates on the same night, often in the same place.

After realizing the schedule mishap, the poor schlep will try to keep both dates, running back and forth between the two without letting either know what’s going on. Hilarity, as it so often does, ensues. Occasionally, the two-timer will have to present different personas to each date; one girl likes tough cowboys but the other likes sensitive poets (of course these days, there’s no reason why a guy can’t be both).

I can only pray that this will someday happen to me. The solution is as appealing as it is obvious: introduce the dates to each other. Girls like a bit of competition, and I like the possibility of ménage a trois. Sure, the whole thing could blow up in my face, but if it does, who cares? There’ll be plenty of me and/or Rohypnol to go around.

And speaking of drugs, the last plot I’ll discuss can be summarized in three words. Very. Special. Episode. The protagonist learns that one of his friends is taking drugs, and takes steps to help him or her. This obnoxious do-gooder’s efforts are rewarded when the friend agrees to confront the Very Special Problem. This guest character is usually never heard from again, so the TV audience doesn’t get to witness the vomit-soaked pain and fallout of withdrawal.

This is one situation that we’ve all encountered many times, probably. I’m proud to say I never once acted like a TV character. I didn’t tell a trusted adult, I didn’t threaten to withhold my friendship, and I certainly didn’t steal or hide my friends’ drugs. No, when faced with a dilemma that only intervention from guest star Nancy Reagan can solve, I did the only responsible thing: I mooched as much as I could, and stayed up all night. Watching 80’s sitcoms, ironically.

Essential New Word of the Week:

shit de resistance [‘šIt day ri’zIstans] n

At a recent dinner party, the conversation turned… no… degenerated into a discussion of some of our more memorable bowel movements. Truly, those were some great room-clearing tales. It struck me how guys can remember these stories in such vivid detail, even years later. Sadly, I didn’t have much to add to the conversation. However, there was one biological process I suspected I wasn’t alone in experiencing.

Have you ever taken the perfect dump? I mean, one that’s over quickly, feels great, and doesn’t even smell? Those are satisfying but what sets them apart is that magical moment when you wipe, and the toilet paper comes back clean! This flies in the face of all logic and reason. It’s like being reborn. You suspect you have a magic rectum. This, my friends, is a shit de resistance.