You need only to have read two or more installments of Shorebilly’s Swill to appreciate, understand, and firmly establish that my mind doesn’t necessarily work like most people’s do. I possess an innate knack for not only noticing that which would be dismissed by normal, rationally thinking folks as minutiae amidst the mundane, everyday human existence, but also for finding humor in said things. It’s not at all uncommon for me to be standing alone laughing at something that no one else even notices. I’m not sure if it’s a gift or a curse, but I never cease to find ways to entertain myself. When I write these pieces, I find my inspiration at the strangest of times in the most unusual places. That philosophy is what you will soon learn brought this piece to fruition. I never claimed to be a real writer. I’m simply an overgrown child with an inflated vocabulary who is easily entertained. My methods are bizarre, my technique is primitive, and my skills are lacking. My inner personal quandaries and conundrums have me rapidly circling the drain in the bathtub of sanity. But as long as there are a handful of people who get me and continue to read my incessant ramblings, I’ll continue to regale you with weekly stories as told to me by the voices in my head.

This week’s subject matter came to me as I was perusing the peanut butter and jelly section of my local grocery store the other day. What started as one simple inner thought parlayed into a short list of questions that I’m going to ask you in this column. These are some of the things that I routinely ponder about. Some have plagued me to my very core since childhood. Some are just fleeting questions that will soon exit my subconscious as quickly as they arrived there. And some may even be age-old questions that we’ve all thought about but never asked. They are in no particular order except for the first one which inspired this piece. I hope you enjoy. And keep in mind while reading that I have sired five offspring who are exactly like me.

  1. While shopping for my domestic supplies last week, I noticed a product on the shelf that I wasn’t aware still existed. I don’t recall the brand name, but it’s the jar that has both peanut butter and jelly in it. There are perfectly symmetrical, alternating lines of the two sandwich fixings in the same jar. I’m 46 years old and this product has been around for as far back as my cognitive memory will take me. Part of me actually thinks that this is a genius concept. I’ve consumed my fair share of sticky lunches and late night snacks, but I have never, ever had call to purchase this product. Nor am I aware of anyone else who has. So my question is this; have any of you ever used this jar of lazy man’s sandwich fixing, or are you aware of anyone who has? Because as I see it, either these are the same jars that have been on the shelves since the 70’s, or somewhere there is a secret subculture of people who are buying this stuff under the radar. Presumably stocking their bunker in preparation for Armageddon.
  2. Even though this case is now distant in our rear view mirror, I assume that if you are reading this that you recall the murder trial of Scott and Laci Peterson. It was the predominant, all encompassing news story for about an entire year. I guess that’s what you get when you kill your wife during a non-election year. There’s no one else stupid enough to eat up all the airtime on mainstream news media outlets. My question is this; did anyone else besides me call bullshit the exact second that Scott said he told his pregnant wife on Christmas Eve that he was going fishing alone a few hours away? Granted, I wasn’t sitting on the jury, but that is the exact moment that I proclaimed GUILTY! I’ve spent a large portion of my adult life sharing a dwelling with a pregnant woman. So I know better than anyone that if I announced that I was going fishing alone on Christmas Eve, it would go over like a loud, wet fart in church. And if anyone wasn’t going to live to see Christmas morning it would be me. I didn’t even need the girlfriend on the side recording phone conversations, or the bleached hair at the Mexican border to send this jackass away.
  3. Why isn’t phonetic spelled the way it sounds? It stands to reason that if ever a word should be spelled ‘phonetically’ it would be the one that means, “spelled the way it sounds”. That one has haunted me since childhood.
  4. Why is it that when you blow in a dog’s face they go berserk? But put them in a car and the first thing they do is stick their head out the window and face forward.
  5. Why is it called “common” sense if it is so incredibly rare? It may be the most valuable resource on Earth, but it is anything but common. There are times when I think that the odds of finding someone with common sense are the same as the odds that I will one day have a purple unicorn as a pet.
  6. Why is it that when a chimp or monkey picks up his own poop and flings it at us, it’s perfectly acceptable as part of nature? But if I do it just one time, I’m spending the rest of my life getting coloring books for Christmas while living in a tiny square room with pistachio green walls.
  7. Did we really need to remake the movie Point Break? Was the first one such a cinematic gem that we just needed it again? I’ll confess that I am like the majority of other men between the ages of 25 and 65 who will stop scrolling through channels on a Sunday afternoon (between sports seasons), and watch this theatrical turd for reasons we’ll collectively never understand. I’ve spent the better part of this past week attempting to unravel the mystery of why a certain demographic (which tragically includes me) are inexplicably compelled to watch the original version of this Hollywood bowel movement repeatedly. I’ll reticently admit that it is mildly entertaining. But then so is a really fat woman scratching her back on a support column in a subway station. It’s not our secret yearning for extreme sports combined with armed robbery. It’s not the deeply compelling story line. It’s not our yearning for yet another Oscar worthy performance by master thespian Keanu Reeves. It’s not because Patrick Swayze continued to better his craft since his role in the Outsiders. It’s not because the only actress they could get to play the female lead has roughly the same femininity of a 14-year-old Midwestern farm boy. After much careful and thorough research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only reason to watch the original version is to witness first hand the larval stages of Gary Busey’s transformation into a completely insane person. But that’s still no reason to do a remake of the movie.
  8. And now for my final pondering this week. It’s my understanding that we have roughly 300 million people in the United States. That’s a pretty substantial human pool from which to pick. So how the hell is it that these are the best possible candidates to choose from to hold down the fort for the next 4 years?! If my domestic situation were different, this would be the ideal time to do a tour in the Peace Corps.

Thanks for playing along. Until next time, Syd Nichols