What Mario Kart taught me about driving

In most cases you are taught to drive by your parents; in deserted school parking lots, neighborhoods, empty stretches of road, and other places where you are less likely to kill pedestrians.  Sure, my parents taught me to drive too, but it is fair to say that with the childhood hours I logged playing Mario Kart, I learned some others lessons that still affect the way I drive today.  And if you and I are going to share the same road, you might want to pay attention.

Throwing things out of your car can be dangerous

But if I don’t want my new car smelling of ripe banana, I’m tossing the peel out the window.  And if you run over it and spin-off into a ditch, at least Mario Kart has taught me that you’ll recover and should be back to tailgating me in no time.  I guess the key thought here is “CAN be dangerous.”  It all depends on what you are chucking out the passenger side.

Don’t hit things in the road

You may think your dad taught you this one (in hopes of protecting the undercarriage of his 1992 Dodge Monaco),  but no, it was Mario Kart.  Upside down boxes of destruction, the banana peel I just tossed, oil slicks, and shells.  I mean, why do you think so many people save turtles from the road?  Out of compassion for turtles? No, it’s the subconscious fear of hitting shells in the road, developed after avoiding thousands of strategic green shell bank shots.

You may say he looks proud, I say he looks relieved!

If you run off the road someone will help you

Sure it might not be some guy named Lakitu in his floating cloud, it’ll be some guy named Larry in his rumbling truck.  Thankfully I’ve never run off the road, but after years of playing Mario Kart, falling into haunted mansion abysses, mushroom gorges, and castle moats of lava, I’m just not worried about rolling off the side of I-4.  Hey, they don’t need AAA to get by in Mario Kart. I’ve learned that rescue will be immediate and I’ll be just fine.

Basically the same thing

You need to be the first one to go at a green light

I time it perfectly, 3 – 2 – 1, and zoooooom!  While the rest of you are texting or picking your nose at a spotlight, I’ll be watching the countdown on the cross walk, and when the light changes you will see my tail lights through a cloud of dust.  And when you pull alongside me in the next ten seconds at the next red light, at least you’ll have learned some respect.

4, 3, 2, 1, "Here we go!"

The person in the lead will most likely get screwed.

In Mario Kart, I learned that being faster than everyone else makes you awesome and a winner.  In the real world, it makes you attractive to police officers.  Then, it HIT me! You get punished in Mario Kart too.   You break away from the pack, and think you’re going to reach that checkered flag first.  And that’s when you hear it… The REE-REE-REE siren of screw – soon followed by the spikey-blue-shell-leader-killer smashing you out of your momentary feeling of awesomeness!  Blue shells are like the speeding tickets of any Mushroom, Star, or Special Cup race.  Sure they don’t cost you 100+ bucks, but they do cost you your pride, which is even more valuable.

from the feeling of awesomeness to the feeling of pure terror in 4.5 seconds

Very clever layering in those life lessons Mario Kart!  Doesn’t mean I still won’t try to smoke everyone else on the highway… because…

There are many annoying people on the road

Just look at them

There’s always gonna be an obnoxious Princess Peach cutting you off, a super slow left lane driver like Toad, and an obscenely large truck captained by a Bowser.   I’ve grown up learning that anyone else on the road basically deserves to suck my exhaust.  I will gloat in the lead, waiting for my very own balloon release, and a gold trophy spit up by an enormous floating fish.

Sure a trophy from a fish is weird, but it means I'm better than you

Final Lap

Plenty of my other driving habits probably came from my Mario Kart education too. Like the way I drift into other lanes on turns and the fact I need to find unconventional shortcuts all the time.  Whether its reckless or awesome- at least I’m owning up to it… So what has Mario Kart taught you?

“I’m-a Danigi, number one!”  See ya on the street!

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5 reasons why you hate going to the dentist

25% of Americans avoid the dentist because of fear

Ever hear that expression “it’s better than a trip to the dentist?”  I sure have, and there is good reason why people compare unpleasant and uncomfortable situations to their biannual visit to the local DDS.  Come to think of it, I am not sure I have ever met someone who enjoys going to the dentist*

* except maybe this lady

…so sit down, open wide, as I spit up 5 reasons why going to the dentist… well… bites.

1. A party for the senses

Going to the dentist is a sensory experience (in the same way that going over Niagara Falls is a rafting experience).  From the moment you are called back from the lobby your sense of sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste are totally unprepared for what the dentist has in store for them.  Imagine this…

You SEE that guy uncomfortably holding his mouth open.  Ugh, poor guy!  Really… why are his eyes so wide?  How did his jaw do that?  That must hurt – uh doesn’t that look like it hurts!?  You actually feel really bad for that poor guy and then you realize the dentist will soon have his hand wristwatch deep in your mouth too.  Great.

It sure SMELLS like a dentist office, but what is that smell exactly?  Well it’s the smell of Acrylic monomer, Formo-creasol, Metacresylacetate, and Eugenol… but to you it’s just the odor of everything that is about the happen inside your mouth.

You HEAR the drill drilling some cavity ridden tooth, the suctioning liquid.  With your heightened senses it sounds like a scene from 1996 horror film “The Dentist”

– except this is the 2012 horror film “The Dentist,”

and its starring you,

and it is not a film.

By the time you sit down in the chair you do NOT want to be TOUCHED.  You subconsciously want to protect your sacred mouth with closed smiles and a locked up jaw, until your grownup reasoning tells you to suck it up… but not literally. You open wide and what do you feel?  Metal instruments poking around your mouth, saliva starting to gather and then gritty tooth polish generously spread across all your soon-to-be pearly whites.

It TASTES like fakey bubblegum, or not-so-minty mint, which is kinda a mild reprieve – much better than the taste of a rubber gloved hand.  Finally, you finish off with delightfully steely taste of your own blood because you haven’t flossed in 3 months.

Well, at least he's happy...

2. One-sided conversations

Did you know you can probably open your mouth about 50°?  It’s not pleasant holding your mouth open that wide for too long (unless you are a python and you are eating a goat) but hey- that’s what we have to do at the dentist.  And as you sit there as a living portrait of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream!” the dental hygienist will gladly talk to your gaping mouth about anything From the weather, to whether you heard who the new celebrities on Dancing With the Stars will be this season – in you they have a captive audience.  You feel obligated to hold up one end of this conversation, while also attempting not to drown in your own saliva.  Most likely your responses are comprised of grunts, and if you are anything like me you are trying to use inflection in your responsive grunts to pretend you really care (after all, right now they have the upper hand and you gotta be polite).  I don’t know if dental hygienists are just really talkative people, or if they have been trained in the art form of “calming” patients, but it just makes the experience even more awkward as they continually violate the personal space of your personal space.

3. Drooly McDroolerson

Our bodies have defense mechanisms against drowning.  Whether in the pool, or in a pool of your own spit.  At the dentist there is that intense moment where you desperately close the back of your throat waiting for the suction thingy.   It’s stressful – you might actually slip up and swallow your own dental work tasting saliva, which seems unimaginably disgusting.  So you gotta focus.  Relax and focus… but of course, you overcompensate and now drool is leaking from the corner of your mouth.  Oh, and here comes helpful hygienist dab dab-ing your chin with your big-boy dentist bib. She’ll probably even make an embarrassing comment (that you will have to grunt to).  You know, this never would’ve happened if she had focused less on that one-sided conversation she was rocking out and focused more on giving you the suction thingy so you didn’t have to worry about drowning in the first place!

4. Metal scraping tooth

Just think that thought in your head and imagine that feeling.

I know, right?

5. “Do you floss?”

So towards the end of every visit, when freedom is so close you can taste it, and when you are finally feeling good about your clean dental bill of health… you get that question: “do you floss?”  Nearly all Americans brush their teeth. However, studies have found that only 25% of Americans report flossing on a daily basis.  And of those, 99% are lying.  Even if you have been flossing your feeble efforts pale in comparison to the ninja flossing techniques of the hygienist.  No matter how you respond the flossing lecture and lesson will now commence leaving you completely dominated by a mere strand of waxy string aggressively tugged around each and every tooth.

and always follow-up with brushing

 In closing… (your mouth)

Just remember you probably aren’t the only person who has cringed at this post.  You are not the only sensory-overloaded-grunting-drooler-who-doesn’t-floss-as-much-as-you-should.  Chew over that thought next time you get your dental reminder postcard in the mail – that there are others that feel your pain.*

again... *except maybe this lady

Now go brush your teeth, you know you want to.

6 reasons I do not understand marathon culture

Ahhhhh, that time of year again.  Time to pull out the porta-potties, and block traffic.  Time for everyone on Disney property to use one route to get to work.  Time for sweating, and chaffing, and alpha units.  That’s right folks, it’s marathon time.  Now don’t get me wrong, plenty of people I know and love train for marathons,  run marathons, love marathons… but perhaps the other 75% of people in my life may not understand this marathon culture that others seem to live by.

1. MARATHONS ARE EXPENSIVE

I would’ve loved to be the person who decided to charge people to do one of the most basic things a human can do… run (or sometimes walk).  Throw in a t-shirt, and maybe an interesting setting like Disney World and you have a full blown event where people will pay you money, they start running when you tell them to, and don’t stop for 26.2 miles.  And to top it all off where does that money go?  Sometimes charitable things, but not always, and do people still pay to run… or walk.  YES!   Because if I run in this highly publicized marathon with a paper number pinned to my chest it means more than if I run 26 miles on my own.

2. MARATHONS ARE LONG

There will never be a day I get up in the morning and say, hey: I want to run for 5 hours today.  I mean, really?  I understand some people say you get into a zone and from there it is awesome!  I have never run long enough to get into any zone where I wasn’t bothered with the fact I was running.  I’d sooner spend 5 hours watching a Golden Girls marathon on Lifetime.  I’d sure feel better when it was over.

3 out of 4 Golden Girls can’t run marathons, but I wouldn’t put it past Betty White

 3. MARATHON RUNNERS DRESS STRANGE

Nothing says running until your body runs out of glycogen like a stupid outfit.  Not only does your body feel like crap,  you look foolish too.  Costumes to “cleverly” captioned T-shirts make any marathon spectators day a little more… interesting.

Speaking of those T-shirts, you know, the ones that say:

  • “If you can read this, you were just passed by a fat guy.”  Nice, that’s the spirit of a race you don’t really WIN.
  • “In my dreams I am a Kenyan” – granted you aren’t the significant portion of the population that regularly starves and is heavily dependent on food aid you’d be a GREAT runner.
  • “I’m 80 years old, and I’m in front of you.”  Not after you trip over my foot and break your hip.
  • If found on the ground, drag across finish line” … I get it, this is a challenge and it’s miserable, and you joke that you might not make it.  But dude, you signed up for it… and your entry fee does not cover body removal.  Also, the fat guy who passed you a couple t-shirts ago would sooner Nike imprint on your face.

But worse than that are the fact supporters of runners have to be exposed to exposing spandex body suits, super short running shorts, tutus, speedos with capes, and other strange themed running costumes that threaten to out do your local comic con attendees.  And does it get worse from there… sure does!  Because towards the end not only are runners wearing something that makes you feel uncomfortable, they have sweat through it… and then, the icing on the cake, they wrap themselves in aluminum foil so their bodies don’t shut down as you have to uncomfortably watch with pride.

The only person more uncomfortable than me… is you

 4. MARATHON ROUTES WILL SHUT DOWN YOUR TOWN

Cue the orange cones, the mile markers, and the traffic signs directing you to the ONE free road in your neighborhood.  Drivers beware, you will now be inconvenienced because a herd of people enjoy a good run.  So maybe you are trying to get to work to make money for real things like putting food on the table, or buying a new pair of non-running shoes-  but hey, these runners have spent their money to go for a run through your town.  You shouldn’t be annoyed that now you have to leave early- to get to work on time – to take an alternate route – because you can’t travel down a street that wasn’t even made for runners to run down in the first place.  That’s totally fair.  And what do you get for your inconvenience?  Maybe a glimpse of the action; runners running faster than you can drive because you are stuck in traffic… and then of course your boss telling you “you should’ve left earlier.”  Nice.  He probably has one of those lame 26.2 stickers on his car.

I get it you like to run -- why even have a car?

 5. BLOOD, SWEAT AND what the hell is THAT?

Ick.  Just ick.  First of all, it is acceptable to use a porta-potty in the following places: a fair, a concert, or a construction site.  Who would want to try to un-stick a stupid sweaty running outfit (see #3) to sit on a toilet that other runners just sat on, or crouched over, apparently trying to control their bodily functions that are all out of whack because they have been running longer than a Lord of the Rings movie.  EW!  I’ve even heard the really serious runners either don’t have to go, or don’t worry about pissing themselves with marathon excitement (or is it excrement).  And do not even get me started on the chaffing that occurs on a cold day.  Ick.

I have to go to the bathroom, where!?

6. IT’S A “RACE”, BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU WIN

There are sensible reasons in life to go for a run.  Maybe you want some cardio activity- RUN.  Perhaps you are a Wide Receiver and you catch the football- RUN. You are being chased by an alligator – RUN (and be sure to zig-zag).  In a marathon you are running just to… finish?  That’s as sensible as the time Forrest Gump ran just because he FELT like RUN-Ning.

“They just couldn't believe that somebody would do all that running for no particular reason.”

Now perhaps I have too much of a competitive spirit that racing “myself” and improving my time would not do it for me.  I would look at runner number 37952 in the tutu and say, I’m gonna beat that guy!  But no, marathon culture is not about winning, it’s about accomplishing.

Hey, at least they finished!

You know that saying “it’s not about the destination, its about the journey.”  In a marathon IT IS about the destination.  You want to get to the end.  And basically the journey sucks.  The journey is what you put yourself (and your poor body through) to accomplish that finish.

You tell them Kate Gosselin! Wonder how much she paid for a babysitter while she ran a marathon…

Then you have a t-shirt and sometimes a medal to show for it.  Oh, and maybe a picture of you looking like hell because you’ve been running for 6 freakin’ hours.  And once your hands aren’t numb anymore, your shins stop splint-ting, and your knees don’t feel like those of an 85 yr old- you may feel an incredible sense of pride… once you change out of that stupid outfit.

No really, you look ridiculous.