Thursday, September 22, 2005

Violent Swiss Almond

There it was sitting in the deli freezer, ready to tear my throat out.

I had just come in to get some orange juice, when I looked down and caught the label on a carton of ice cream: Violent Swiss Almond.

Say what? I'm just reaching for my wallet and I'm being threatened by a psychotic drupaceous fruit in lederhosen?

Then I looked again. My eyesight is going, along with everything else in my system, and I had read the label too quickly, reading "Violent" when it actually said "Vanilla Swiss Almond." Maybe I should contact Ben and Jerry.

Yeah, I need glasses, or contacts or one of those laser zap jobs that'll give me X-ray vision and the power to read men's minds. Of course everybody will probably be thinking hey, stop reading my mind, you stupid bastard, and get some glasses.

Yesterday I had a number of these little eyeball malfunctions. First, I was reading an item about a man who had a "stinking resemblance to Robert Reford."

Come again? I've never met Robert Robert but he always looked clean. Then I read the line again and saw this fellow had a striking resemblance to Mr. Sundance.

Then I saw an online ad about a "Spook Market Pioneer." I immediately pictured a ghost with a coonskin cap and a shopping cart. There had to be something wrong with that, and indeed there was. The ad was referring to a Stock Market Pioneer. Sorry, Casper.

But it's more than just my eyes going south on me. My mind is moving ahead of my vision and inserting a word it thinks is appropriate. And look at the choices: violent, stinking, spook. No positive images at all. (A violent, stinking spook?) A shrink would see a pattern here. And then charge you a finder's fee.

My favorite incident occurred after leaving the office on Friday. I walked by a building and saw a sign reading "Craven Management." I stopped dead in my tracks, squinted, read the sign again and did say Craven Management.

Hell, sounds to redundant to me. All management is craven. That's how they got to be management. (Except my present employers, who are fine, upstanding, dedicated professionals.)

I've always had trouble with misspellings, typos, and dropped words in my writing. This is particularly serious for a reporter and I've had a number of stories ruined because of bonehead errors. (There are probably a few in this post. Gotta get those laser eyes.)

I used to bitch about the copyediting at the various newspapers I worked at, but the truth is that it's got your name on it, so it's your story. Printing out the story and reading it aloud, even softly, has proven to be the best method for me. I just look like a lunatic mumbling to myself, but that's a small price to pay.

During my interview with Stars & Stripes, I confessed my lack of proofreading prowess to the two editors interviewing me long distance from Japan.

They had asked me to name some of my flaws (I'm so great I'll make everybody else jealous!) and rather than admitting to being a short-tempered, paranoid, manic depressive, goof-off who will come in late, leave early and surf porn sites in between, I figured I'd tell them my spelling sucked. There's plenty of time for them to find out the other stuff after they hire me.

Well, I never got the job and now I'm wondering if my candor is the reason I'm writing to you from Brooklyn instead of Iraq. Not that I'm complaining. I never thought the buggers would call me and when they did I felt compelled to pretend I wanted the gig. Hell, I was out of work and desperate at the time. Even the Army looked good.

I also have a feeling that if I had gotten that job I would been immediately voted Al qaeda's Infidel of the Month, with my picture on the Osama Network's web site and directions to my crib in Bagdad. Pop that bald guy, oh, my brothers, and take the HOV lane to paradise.

I know some day I'll have to get glasses. I'm long overdue. I hope I will adjust to them and not be vain and try to hide them at every chance. I just want a little more time to look at life without glasses of any color.

And if Al qaeda sends any violent Swiss Almonds after me, I'll just give them a yodel and run like hell.


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