Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spam email of the week



Subject: See what Guyer Wildcats Football has to say!

About what? What is this? Okay!

Hi Mike,

Hi … you.

I just wanted to quickly follow up on my last email

You are a *** **** liar. But please, go on.

as I  truly believe that Sport Ngin has the tools

Sport Nggbnnv? Cool name! Vowels are the worst. I hate when people are all like, “Oh I’m going to spell this correctly so it sounds like a professional company and not a license plate … ahem … ‘Sport Engine, LLC’ … derp derp derp I use proper punctuation in text messages derp snerp.” Pfft. Actually, may I make a suggestion? How about: ULTIMATE X-treme Sport Ngin 4 kidz 2 da MAX? That way you can teach people sports AND proper grmr.

that can make life easier for you and your program.

What is my program? I have a program?

I know that hearing about a product from the mouth of the company is never that exciting

It’s true that when companies, which have mouths, talk about their products out of their mouths, my eyes do a rolling thing to sarcastically express my lack of excitement. Then I kick the company in its nutsack for talking trash. But then I pick the company up and pat it on its back and say, “But you deserved that,” which is something the company hears with its ears.

so I thought I would share the success of one of our clients.

Okay. Let’s hear it, professional BMX rider Obi Kaburski.

Recently, we have been working with Carolyn Flemming of Guyer Wildcat Football in creating a new technology solution resulting in their brand new website. You can take a look at their new website by following this link  - www.guyerwildcatfootball.com

/logs onto Guyer Wildcat Football website/

OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS THE GREATEST WEBSITE I HAVE EVER SEEN, THAT’S IT, I AM STARTING A TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM

"Our first year with Sport NGIN had been great! Our team loves the ability to update player profiles and stats while scoring live from the sideline. The ease it which we can quickly format the page to our liking while getting top notch customer support is exactly what we were looking for. As if that weren't enough, the coinciding mobile app is a fan favorite!"
- Carolyn Flemming, Webmaster - Guyer Wildcat Football

Thank you, Carolyn Flemming, webmaster for Guyer Wildcat Football. I think it’s cool and not sad that your team updates its stats from the sideline and that you’re new website has a mobile app for HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL stats on the go, which is something we need, culturally. I look forward to incorporating all this shizz you just said into the website for the team I have just created, called Dreem Teem 2Legit2Kwit Hi-Skool Football Flyng Bird Thangs.

We do not consider ourselves a technology provider, but rather, a technology partner for all programs that use the Sport Ngin platform.

I don’t know what that means, but sign me up. One thing I need is more “partners” who claim they can to do crap to my website that I don’t understand. You know what they say - it takes a vllge to raise a sports ngin.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The cute conundrum: searching for cues



We’re approaching a year since our younger daughter, now 3, arrived to us via foster care. She is pretty much as sweet and kindhearted as they come, and everyone who crosses her path instantly falls in love with her, just as we did 12 months ago.

When we were going through the whole process, we were told she had none of the issues typically associated with foster kids. She didn’t hoard, fight, wasn’t defiant, and was meeting all the developmental markers of typical kids. Everyone, including us, seemed equally pleased and shocked by this.

Okay, maybe skeptical is a better word than shocked, as far as we were concerned. It might be a stretch to say we’re seasoned veterans of the foster care process, but our experience combined with my wife’s therapy background kept us on the lookout.

The food issue was apparent from the beginning. Long story short, our daughter, a victim of neglect as a baby and never sure if or when her next meal would come, obsesses over food. We’re aware of this and trying our best. Slowly but surely, however, we began to discover something else. Our little one, although her vocabulary was great, didn’t seem to be actually processing the information she was repeating. Oftentimes she could not answer a basic question without cues.

Whereas our older daughter’s defensive mechanism is “fight or flight,” for which she usually opts for the latter, her sister’s defensive mechanism is cute. She’s going to kill you with kindness, and you are going to give her the answer, or whatever it is she wants. She had everybody fooled.

Including the school system. My wife, concerned about her academic future, had her tested recently with the hopes of eventually establishing an IEP (individualized education plan). She gently informed the school district’s evaluators about her concerns, and then watched as our daughter put on a show.

Evaluator: Okay, what is this a picture of, honey?

Daughter: (gives evaluator a hug)

Evaluator: Awww, how sweet is she? Did you all see that? Oh my goodness, what a sweetheart. Okay, so what is this?

Daughter: Ummm … (standing knock-kneed, smiling cutely) It’s a … I have to go potty, please.

Evaluator: She’s potty trained? Wonderful! And so polite. Of course, my dear.

Wife: (rolls eyes, knowing the stall tactic) (no pun intended)

Daughter: (reemerges from bathroom, runs to evaluator and hugs her)

Evaluator: Oh my, I can’t take the cuteness! Okay, back to this picture. What is this, sweetheart?

Daughter: Uhhh …

Evaluator: It goes “Moo.” It’s black and white. It’s a c- c-

Daughter: COW! It’s a cow! (goes in for high-five)

Evaluator: Very good, ha, ha! (high-five) What a sweetie!

Wife: (slow claps)

The day after this "assessment," during which, of course, she was denied an IEP and my wife was assured she’s on track if not advanced—it’s early, but here’s to hoping for a lucrative career in the field of cow identification—we went through the girls’ school bags to see what they had learned that day. Out of our younger daughter’s bag my wife pulled the letter “t,” made of construction paper and featuring animals that begin with “t.”

Wife: Ooh, honey—this looks like the letter you’ve been working on all week. What letter is this?

Daughter: Ummm … uhhh … ummm … (waiting for cues) … uhhh …

Wife: (staring, smiling)

Daughter: I have to go potty.

Wife: No, you don’t. You just got off the potty. What letter is this?

Daughter: Ummm … uhhh … Saturday.

Wife: That’s a day of the week, honey, not a letter. What letter is this?

Daughter: Huggie (arms outstretched).

Wife: Not now, honey. What letter is this?

Daughter: Umm … uhh … pancakes.

Wife: (staring, not smiling)

Daughter: Bear. Mommy, it’s a bear. Right, Mommy? Huggie!

Wife: (to me) THANKS A LOT, PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.

A day later, her class had continued their letter “t” lesson by reading a story called Tiggy the Tiger and by creating his face on paper plates. We took our daughter’s paper plate out of her bag and asked her what animal it was, even spotting her the cue of “Tiggy the …” The end result of this battle of wills was the emergence of an animal called “Tiggy the Pooh.” Honestly, she must have answered “Tiggy the Pooh” 25 times, despite being told it was incorrect and also not even a thing after the first time. My wife has taken to leaving the “Tiggy the Pooh” paper plate in various spots throughout the house for me to find, like under my pillow, so I can be randomly reminded of the magnificence of this fictional creature.

So that’s where we’re at. Not a problem, just a challenge. Albeit a challenge that would be easier to face were everyone else not so swayed by her cuteness. We’re pretty sure that’s why God placed her with us, not because we don’t think she’s cute—she’s adorable—but because we won’t let it blind us.

Our daughter is pretty sure God placed her with us for the pancakes.

Either way.


Photo by the incomparable Otillia Ceh

Note: This column appears in the 3/27 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/28 issue of the Peoria Times.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Facebook meme of the day




THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP GARFIELD

YO GARFIELD HERE IS SOME LASAGNA. MAD RESPECT, SON

/Garfield rocks my world/

WOW WHAT JUST HAPPENED

SO THIS IS BLISS


YO GARFIELD I WAS THINKING MAYBE WE SHOULD SEE OTHER PEOPLE

IT’S NOT YOU IT’S ME

I’M NOT A CAT

I JUST NEED SOME SPACE

/Garfield posts selfie to Instagram of him sitting on Harry Styles’ lap/

YO GARFIELD WHAT THE HECK

TWO CAN PLAY THIS GAME, SON

/knocks on ex’s door, Garfield answers/

DANG YOU, GARFIELD!

NEVER SHOULD HAVE DISRESPECTED YOU LIKE THAT

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Essay published in 'Dads' book


Hi, everyone. I wrote an essay about our daughter that has been published in the book Dads of Disability: Stories for, by, and about fathers of children who experience disability (and the women who love them!).

The essay itself is a reworked, more cohesive, and edited version of the three-part essay that appeared on this blog a while back. It’s called “The Girl with the Trauma Tattoo,” and comprises chapter five.

The book as a whole is an amazing collection of essays and poems by and about dads, most of whom experience much more dramatic daily challenges than me, and who are just incredible people.

Dads of Disability is available on Kindle and Nook now, and will be released in paperback April 15. You can follow the book's progress via its Facebook page here.

I couldn’t more highly recommend this book—regardless of my essay’s inclusion in it—for people facing similar struggles, or for those interested in the everyday hardships and triumphs of raising a child with a disability. There is much literature on the topic, but virtually nothing from the dad’s perspective. Gary Dietz did an absolutely wonderful job of collecting and editing these pieces while maintaining the honesty that makes them special, relatable, and transformative. I am immensely proud to be a small part of this outstanding project.

So anyway, buy it! Now or in paperback come April; for yourself or as a Father's Day gift for that special dad or family in your life.

(While this marks the second time I've been published in an actual book, this is the first time the book in question is not a collection of nonsense. So that is something.)

(More book-related news in the coming weeks.)

Spam email of the week



From: Grand Prix Europe 2014

Cool! I am good at cars. Especially European cars.

Subject: Last places available for Barcelona Dance Award! There are still some places at your disposal to participate in the Ultimate International Dance Competition 2014 Easter SpringSeason in Spain! All Division,  Any Level Welcome!

Oh, the Grand Prix Europe is a dance thing? I am even better at dance than I am at cars. But not nearly as good as this email is at subject headers.

Me: Babe, hey—gonna head over to Spain to enter the Ultimate International Dance Competition 2014 Easter Spring Season, so I won’t be home for Easter. And also spring. And also ever if I win.

Wife: What are you even talking about?

Me: STOP TRYING TO STIFLE MY LOVE OF DANCE, dag! This thing is Ultimate, babe. Besides, any level is welcome! I am going to enter this dance: (tries to do Kid n’ Play leg dance with wife; move is not reciprocated) You’re just jealous you didn’t get invited.

April 17 (Thursday)
Expected arrival in Barcelona, settlement in hotel (after 1.00 pm).
Theatrical Activities or free day - according with the group's program.

April 19 (Saturday)
8:00 am Breakfast in hotel.
Theatrical Activities or free day - according with the group's program.
The program will be definitive after the registration.

Spain is closed on Fridays, FYI. So basically, I go to Spain, establish settlement in a hotel, have some breakfast, and just kind of farts around for the weekend? Sweet.

April 20 (Sunday)
8:00 am Breakfast in hotel.
Theatrical Activities for the dance groups.
Awarding Ceremony.

Sunday I will have breakfast and then win my award.

April 21 (Monday)
8:00 am Breakfast in hotel.
DEPARTURE

Monday I will also have breakfast. This itinerary is airtight and does not mince words when it comes to the availability of breakfast.

 The participation includes:
1- Artistic Participation in BARCELONA DANCE AWARD 2014.

This participation includes: participation

2- Four nights accommodation in three stars Hotel.

Or, as they say in Barcelona, tres starses. Three stars in only a half star less than the EconoLodge in Albuquerque – lap of luxury here I come!

3- Full board in Restaurants near the theatres.

Oops guess I am living in a restaurant?

4- Assistance of festival managers in the theatres.

Me: (dancing like jackass)

Festival manager: You look like a jackass. Do it like this: (performs The Nutcracker in full)

Me: Oh okay. (farts)
5- Reserved seats on the theatres during the Shows.

Wait won’t I be in the sh-

6- Transport organisation during the festival, following theatrical commitments.

???

 ..in order to BE the protagonist of a GREAT DANCE TOURNÉE in EUROPE!

Uh, is there a second part to this quote? No matter, I AM INSPIRED.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wrongfully accused, and taking down the whole neighborhood with me


I’ve heard that people tend to mellow as they grow older. I feel like I am doing the opposite of that. I am bellowing.

I’ve always been perceived, I think, as a relatively calm person. My in-laws, for example, who are Italian, have always thought of me as laid back, and seem to be in a perpetual state of apology that I am forced to endure the tempestuous nature of their family in general, their daughter specifically.

Whether or not I was ever truly laid back, I do not feel that way now. There is a high-tide of emotion within me that does not seem to be subsiding, and that gets released thanks to the most minor of things. The circumstances that have caused this—again, assuming I wasn’t always like this—could likely be traced to two young girls who, when they are not destroying everything in their path, affectionately call me Dad. Or, who knows—maybe it’s the result of a slow, imperceptible Italianization of the soul that has happened over time. 

I can’t blame other people for everything, according to several Facebook memes. Still, my current personality is Steven Segal-esque, out for justice for minor slights, real or perceived. I’m on edge, defensive, indignant about everything. What makes matters more interesting is that I often choose to go into battle the best way I know how—by writing—so all of my blown-out-of-proportion complaints have been well-documented. For reference, please see my two-week, work-related, documented fight with the United States Postal Service over $20. Or, better yet, don’t.

Then there was last week. I received a letter from our development, a “courtesy notice” more specifically, kindly informing me in bold lettering, please weed your property. Included in this letter was a photo of our wrongdoing, taken by the development “inspector,” although the evidence was actually a picture of our neighbor’s garbage can.

Obviously, the letter was received in error. For one thing, we had no weeds, something I was absolutely certain of considering I had spent the past several weekends doing very manly property maintenance that included pulling tiny weeds out of the ground and putting together a little playhouse for girls. The letter should have gone to our neighbor informing him to bring his garbage can in from the curb.

One could have assumed, judging from the voracity of my reaction to this clear mistake, that the letter was accusing me of murder. “WHAT? They have got to be kidding me! LIKE I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW!” My wife, of course, shared my righteous anger, and we decided it would be appropriate to react in a way not at all relative to what we had been accused of not doing.

That reaction was a diatribe of an email sent to our development office wherein I not only vehemently denied the non-weeding, but also indicted the entire neighborhood by expressing my indignation that we, of all the houses here, would get such a letter. I was like a crazy person who complains at a town hall meeting about things not even on the agenda. “Why don’t you send a ‘courtesy letter’ to what’s-his-face on the corner, telling him to clean up his ACT?”

I tried to preempt any counter-argument with even more aggressive commentary, inviting the inspector back to my house right now and every day for eternity. It was no doubt the most hyper-aggressive email involving weeds that has ever existed.

It probably took me two hours to write this email—it had to be perfect—and each snarky remark seemed to satisfy my insatiable desire for selfish justice. Hitting “send” sent an ecstatic rush of adrenaline through my body that I imagine people like Susan B. Anthony felt when promoting actual justice.

Ten minutes later I received a response: “Oops! Our bad. We’re training a new inspector and dealing with some hiccups. Everything has been fixed. Have a great day!”

Getting exactly the resolution I was hoping for left me with one remaining, burning question: What the heck is wrong with me?

 
If the tagline were "but somebody's got to take IN the garbage," I would have fainted.

Note: This column appears in the 3/20 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/21 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spam email of the week



Subject: Good new: Re: Here comes

Here comes WHAT? What is the good new?

Hey friend,

Hey Internet robot!

I find a website the stuffs are fairly good and lead a a prevailing
market price.

This sounds amazing, yes, but also familiar …

(turns on TV, accesses DVR, scrolls down to recent Charlie Rose episode, hits play)

Charlie Rose: We’re here today with professional businessperson and Internet stalwart, Robbie Finderson. Robbie, thanks for dropping by today.

Robbie Finderson: Thanks for having me, Charlie.

Rose: Robbie, you’re on the Internet all the time. Tell us – what did you find?

Finderson: I find a website

Rose: And what was on the website? Was it good?

Finderson: the stuffs are fairly good

Rose: Outstanding. Talk about market price.

Finderson: and lead a a (takes drink of water) prevailing market price

Rose: (falls off chair, dies)

I’M ON TO YOU, ROBBIE! Nevertheless, go on.

With best service and in time delivery.

Where can I find whatever the eff you are selling?

You can buy the
brand new and muti-function digital products on   elemood.com

(logs on to elemood.com to order “muti-function digital product,” computer explodes)

Just
order online and they can deliver to your house.

Wait. Hold up. Stop. Are you telling me I can order something on the Internet and it will be delivered to my house? Do other people know about this? I feel like I may have stumbled upon some good stuffs here.

Hope this maybe helpful to you.

AND HOW! (said while dressed like 1920s paperboy) (aims recently ordered muti-function device at moon, initiates apocalypse)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ashes to ashes, dust to … dusk?



Ash Wednesday was last week, and it left me with a dilemma.

I must first backtrack a bit. When I was young and immature—the post-college early 20s, when you’re supposed to be an adult but are nowhere near such a thing—I also had an Ash Wednesday dilemma. There was a church near my job at the time, and I attended a service during lunch. However, I spent the entire service not reflecting on the Lenten season or my faith, but wondering whether or not I would keep the ashes on my forehead when I returned to work. 

Again, the struggle then was sheer vanity and immaturity, although I’m proud to say I did keep the ashes on my forehead, a decision that became a milestone on my treacherous path to a moderately mature adulthood.

As the years have gone by, I have managed to remain steadfast in keeping the ashes on my forehead for the remainder of the day. I mean, Christ died for our sins, so it’s the least I can do, right? I still attend a lunchtime service and come back to work as I left church, even if the priest has pressed his thumb on my head as hard as humanly possible and has failed to mark anything resembling a cross, with the excess ashes cascading down to my nose and mouth.

For the uninitiated, this is how the process goes:

Priest: Don’t forget you are going to die someday. (presses huge anonymous blob on your forehead)

You: Amen?

But back to my dilemma. Our daughters’ school was having a big parents meeting last Wednesday night, and I was going to be the parent attending on behalf of our family. So … do I still keep the ashes?

My struggle had layers. For starters, not everyone around here is Catholic, and many people simply don’t know about Ash Wednesday. For example, a couple of years ago when I returned to work here ashed up, my coworker legitimately did not know what had happened to my forehead and felt bad asking, something I discovered thanks to a conversation during which she made eye contact with only my forehead and the floor.

Back east? Everyone is either Catholic or Jewish—literally—and there is a mutual understanding and respect for ashes and, on a more consistent basis, yarmulkes. In these parts everyone attends churches called something like, Church of the Divinity of Our Lord and Savior of the West Valley, instead of, you know, St. Anne’s, and Ash Wednesday services, if they even exist, provide just another occasion to sing a lot, or whatever it is non-Catholics do.

Furthermore, even if some parents did understand why there was a giant blotch in the middle of my forehead, isn’t there a point where it’s like, okay, we get it. You went to an Ash Wednesday service. Congrats. No get over yourself and wash your face. In other words, would it be, if not actually obnoxious, perceived as obnoxious?

On the other hand, what kind of person would I be to wash them off? I’m already the dad of “the girl who hits” and “the girl who eats food that fell on the floor,” so I might as well be the dad with the dirty forehead. I WILL HONOR THE MARTYRS.

Making matters more complicated was that my suspicions about people’s unfamiliarity with Ash Wednesday around here were confirmed throughout the day. That afternoon, someone who frequents our office came by, poked his head into my office and said, “Howdy there—whoa, what happened to your head?” When I gently informed him it was Ash Wednesday, he expressed relief, saying, “Oh good. I thought you got in a bike accident or something,” and as he said this he dramatically reenacted this nonexistent bike accident, pretending to bang his head head on the door casing. (I know I joke and exaggerate a lot, but this wonderful leap into bike crash assumptionswith reenactmentswas something that really happened.)

Later I went to pick up my tax paperwork. When the woman came out to greet me, on the heels of the recently endured bike accident scenario, I preempted any confusion by saying, “Please excuse the ashes on my forehead, but it’s Ash Wednesday.” She laughed, initially thinking I was making a joke of some sort, and after a brief reflection, said, “Wait … what’s that?” (Again, really happened.)

As you can see, it was quite the struggle for me to decide whether to keep the ashes for the school meeting. But I think I made the right call. I skipped the school meeting, went to a burrito place drive-thru while wearing a hat pulled low, and ate in my car.

I am kidding. I washed the ashes off before the meeting. 

Remember—I said moderately mature adulthood.

Note: This column appears in the 3/13 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/14 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Facebook meme of the day


SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE DEBBIES OUT THERE

ALSO WTF

THE PROTOTYPICAL DEBBIE IS BETTY BOOP’S HEAD WEARING A NATIVE AMERICAN HEADBAND PHOTOSHOPPED ONTO LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER’S BODY

ALL Y'ALL DEBBIES OUT THERE BE LOOKING JUST LIKE THAT, IT’S TRUE

Emotional spectrum: You wouldn’t want to be on the bad side of Debbie.

FEELS LIKE MAYBE A DEBBIE WROTE THIS

Personality: Fresh as a drop of rain.

CAN A DEBBIE TRANSLATE WHAT THIS MEANS FOR ME

Travel & Leisure: Travel is best enjoyed with her friends.

THAT’S WEIRD CAUSE PEOPLE WITH OTHER NAMES BE LIKIN’ TO TRAVEL BY THEMSELVES OR WITH A HERD OF CATTLE

Career & Money: Investments made early keep Debbie comfortable in the golden years.

THIS CHARACTERISTIC IS EXCLUSIVE TO DEBBIES. BARBARAS BE ALL LIKE, IMMA BLOW THIS CASH ON OAK DESKS AND MALE STRIPPERS

Life’s Opportunities: Tried and true, but welcomes new innovations.

I REGRET NOT NAMING BOTH OF MY DAUGHTERS DEBBIE. THEY WOULD HAVE WELCOMED NEW INNOVATIONS.

SERIOUSLY WTF

Spam email of the week


Subject: Is it safe to transact business with you on this email?

I feel like I am on an episode of 24. Is it safe? WHO KNOWS. Mad peeps been trying to take me down for years, so there’s no telling who’s watching me. I am a very important man who was trained by the C.I.A. to do cool stuff, but then they turned on me and left me for dead. At first I couldn’t remember anything, but it’s slowly coming back to me, and my karate skills are second nature, so I’ve been beating up lots of dudes for no apparent reason. Anyway, hold up – let me reconfigure my email settings to make sure this is safe …

(sets junk email filter to “high”)

(tries to download firewall)

PETE’S FIREWALL IS $29.99 PER MONTH, PLEASE CLICK ‘I AGREE’ TO TERMS OF USE

What? Pfft. Screw that. ‘Bout to go offline on this bee-otch ...

(clicks “go offline”)

WEB ERROR: PLEASE CHECK YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION

Freakin’ Big Brother. Hold up.

(logs out of Facebook)

Aiiight, we should be safe now. What’s poppin’?

{Chi Wang Chan} y4593-chiwangchan8@yahoo.com

I have a project of $48.8 M I wish to introduce to you.

Oh word? I am very good with $48.8 million projects. It is obvious I can be trusted with a project of this nature. Also, why is this a secret? Do I have to kill someone? I’d rather not do that but okay I’ll do it. Please give me the details of this project and who needs to be killed with my karate.

---

Chi

Oh that’s the end of the email? Your initial concerns about the safety of this correspondence led me to believe your email would have more details. But okay, guess I can figure things out from here, Chi Wang Chan. Think I’ll just … build that energy-efficient library? Yes? No? Say nothing if I am on the right track. 

(goes to Home Depot, brings millions of dollars of building materials to register)

Yeah, uh, you can put this on Chi Wang Chan’s account. That’s C … H ...

Home Depot worker: Please leave.

GUESS I’LL GO TELL ALL THE LITTLE KIDS THIS AIN’T HAPPENING!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The imperfect gift: when no one wants your voucher



Three years ago my sister and brother-in-law gave my wife and I a $25 voucher to a restaurant website as a gift. Let’s say the website was called something jazzy like, oh I don’t know … restaurant.com (that is the name). 

When I received this gift I thought, cool, we will use this toward a restaurant and then we will eat at that restaurant and I will be happy and satisfied.

I logged on to restaurant.com. “Find a restaurant near you!” Okay, restaurant.com! I will do that. Please find the closest restaurant to zip code 85381.

Restaurant.com said, “Sorry, zero results.”

I expanded my search. How about 10 miles outside of 85381? Can you do that, restaurant.com?

“Nope!”

How about 25 miles? FIFTY  miles?

“You can dine at a hotel café in Scottsdale or a Chinese buffet on the border of Glendale and Phoenix.”

I chose the Chinese buffet. If you know nothing about my wife and me, you know how much we love to drive 45 minutes to eat at a Chinese buffet. My wife is Italian, so the idea of sharing pre-cooked food that is kept warm under a hot lamp with total strangers is very appealing. Are you done with that spoon, hairy man wearing a tank top? Because I’d also like a scoop of that anonymous substance.

I proudly handed the hostess my printed-out voucher, alerting her that we’d be eating on the dime of restaurant.com this lovely, romantic evening. She handed it back to me and said, rather sternly, as if restaurant.com voucher-holders were the lowest form of life, that the buffet price was $8.99 per, and thus we wouldn’t meet our $20 minimum to be eligible to even use our voucher.

My wife was thrilled. Slouched in her slippery booth seat, she refused almost everything the buffet had to offer: sushi, pudding, hot dogs, pockets of some kind. Luckily, since we still had our voucher, we’d be able to do this all over again when the buffet price increased or when our daughter was eligible for adult buffet pricing.

The Chinese buffet voucher rested on a desk in our home for years thereafter, and every time I saw it I shook my fist at my sister and brother-in-law. Last week I received an email from restaurant.com alerting me that my Chinese buffet voucher was no longer valid—oh no!—and would I like to transfer it?—oh yes!

Surely restaurant.com, in the three years since I had last logged on, had incorporated new restaurants of a closer proximity and better reputation into its fold. Only: nope, they had not done that. But they did tighten their restrictions. For example, if I found a place to my liking, I would also need to ensure vouchers to that establishment were available in multiples that equaled $25. This was a gift, by the way.

I settled on a place only 35 minutes away, even though they only offered their vouchers in multiples of $10. Letting $5 hang for all of eternity on restaurant.com was a price I was willing to pay in order to finally see this gift to its sad conclusion.

Coincidentally, it was another Chinese restaurant, although at least of the sit-down variety. At the end of our okay-ish meal, I handed the waitress two $10 restaurant.com vouchers. She immediately handed one back to me and said, rather sternly, as if restaurant.com voucher-holders were the lowest form of life, “ONE PER PARTY.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I have one $10 voucher for a somewhat local Chinese restaurant that I am selling for $100. The extra money is for pain and suffering and also so I can buy my sister and brother-in-law a big pile of sand for their upcoming anniversary. Please email or call me if interested. Thank you.

UPDATE: As a result of this column, Restaurant.com reached out to me personally in an effort to resolve these issues, something for which they should be commended. They've been sincere and helpful, and although I still wish they'd loosen their restrictions and open the field to a wider variety of better restaurants, we are now friends.

Note: This column appears in the 3/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/7 issue of the Peoria Times.