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Less Thrilling Subplots to “The Purge”

“Alright, 102-Crew out there in Listener Land, we’re coming up on another non-stop rock block at the top of the hour. We’ve got Floyd and the Boss hittin’ ya hard to wrap up the workweek. Plus, we’re giving away tickets to the Air Supply RE-U-NION TOUR—live this July 4th at the Coliseum! We’re looking for that twelfth caller. That’s right, call in and let us know what kinds of ca-RAZY-ness you’re getting into tonight for the annual Puuuuurrr-ge!

 

*Witch cackle sound effect*

 

“Caller, you’re on the air with DJ Hammond Eggs.”

 

“Hu-hullo? Yeah, no, anyone going out tonight is nuts. I’m’a just bunker down with some tacos, do my nails, maybe take a bath—”

 

“Mmmhmmm, a bath—”

 

*Spanking noise immediately followed by the “Are You Trying to Seduce Me?” clip from The Graduate*

 

“I’d ask if you’d want some, uh, bad company, but I’ll be boarded up at the station all night with the Off-FISH-shal 102-Crew Machete, brought to you by Budweiser: Grab Some Buds. Sorry, no dice, First Caller. Next Caller, you’re on the air.”

 

“102.1, this is my year. Cold feet got me the last two, but tonight I’m finally taking down my district manager, that arrogant mouth-breather. Sayonara, you gelled-up freak. Won’t be at the funeral.”

 

*Clip of Lumberg from Office Space plays for the fifth time in the last four hours*

 

“Huh-ho! Who cares about performance re-viewwws? That’s some, ah, ca-REEE-PIN’ it real, but, uh—my station manager wants me to remind you out there that 102.1-FM-and-its-affiliates-do-not-condone-the-totally-boss-crime-of-pre-meditated-boss-murder.”

 

*Sad foghorn*

 

“Sorry for being a Debbie a-DOWN-ner back then, Party People. And sorry to you. You are not our twelfth caller. Next Caller, you’re on the air.”

 

“Hi, Hammond, long-time-first-time. I tell you, tonight is about getting sa-tis-FIED; I am just itchin’ right now. Not even gonna care what the neighbors say tomorrow. Heh heh. No apologies, right? It’s The Purge, bay-beee!”

 

“Hey, Caller, much-like-boss-murder, 102.1 FM-and-its-affiliates-cannot-and-will-not-advocate-the-committal-of-sexual-assault. This friendly reminder brought to you by Bayer Aspirin—Bayer: The Pain Reliever Who’s MOST Opposed to Sex Crimes.”

 

“—Hammond, Hammond, god-no, it’s nothing like that! No, tonight I’m just slapping a back deck on the house, even though the city never approved any plans! How could they; I only drew them up today at lunch! Thing will be, no doubt, ca-rawlin’ with code violations, but, hey, sometimes you just gotta live wild and free.”

 

“So, let-me-get-this-straight, if it all goes to plan, no one’ll get hurt?

 

“My neighbor. Reggie. That jerk’ll be hurt. My new backyard party paradise will block, like, ALL the natural light from his sunken family room. Dude’ll prolly come give me another lecture about protecting property values.”

 

“O-kay. Cool?”

 

“Got that right, pal. My cul-de-sac is wetland adjacent and that reserve’ll have more than enough wood and endangered species habitat to build a sick lattice around it all. Should give it a nice rustic feel. Perfect for brews, burgers, and beer pong the rest of summer, amiright?

 

“Okay, sir, as a fellow human being my conscience is making me interject. I don’t know if you’re familiar with The Purge or if you’re new to this, but it is going to be a bloodbath out there tonight. I’m urging you to reconsider. If you go through with this, more than likely you’ll be killed and be giving your life for a project most people only spend a few hundred dollars on.”

 

“Look, I got a can-do attitude, twenty illegal refugee carpenter-bodyguards with power tools, and no curfew for loud noise. And, by the way, Hammond, I called in for Air Supply tickets not a bunch of nagging. I can’t wait to finish that deck tonight, celebrate, and cap it all off by throwing all my dead batteries and old motor oil away in the NORMAL trash can for once.”

 

“Ahhh—okay, pal. Sorry, though, you aren’t our twelfth caller.

 

*Toilet flush sound effect*

 

“Next Caller, you’re on the air.”

 

 

 

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Dovescape

2014 had been brutal. A career change and divorce had extinguished all positivity and motivation. Alone again, I’d spent midnight on New Year’s Eve making out with a block of fudge.

 

Fed up with life and backed up beyond belief, the next morning I resolved to reform. Twelve months later my systems and psyche were in perfect rhythm. Books were now read, not just amassed and later returned to the library. Invitations to singles’ events were heeded. Refined sugars were eliminated completely.

 

I now dominated Book Club. Sobriety and genuine comprehension had paved my way. Abstaining from wine and prodding others for specifics had made me a target. Their pursed lips and restless energy relayed it all—I was the paragon begging to be knocked down a peg.

 

No one could compete. Each week those other gals would begrudgingly devour my insights nearly as fast as my homemade basil-tofu lettuce wraps or eggplant caviar. I’d relish as their plates of raisin-dotted fruit salsa or deviled-egg tabouli would go untouched. And, of course, I was sure to hound any opinion that utilized a vague generality like “fully realized,” “rollicking,” or “what it means to be human.”

 

Passive aggression was taken in stride. Remarks over my marital status or know-it-all-ism were brushed off. Book Club didn’t have points, but I was winning.

 

Hosting, now, always evoked a wave of anxiety, and tonight had been no exception. Every seventh Thursday, those six women would be over to silently critique my home’s décor and cleanliness. This week, though, I’d been flawless. The house had been immaculate and my plate of homespun Vietnamese summer rolls with cashew sauce had been plundered clean in ten minutes. Discussion was short; the ladies seemed defeated. It was good to be the king.

 

Straightening up after, I uncovered an unopened bag of Dove chocolates. Living sans refined sugar, these had to have been left behind. Chocolate had formerly been my kryptonite. A single M&M could spark a sequence of gorging, self-loathing, and sobbing—the whole meltdown typically transpiring before I’d even left the dinner party.

 

I’d left the bag on the coffee table as I finished clearing dishes. Temptation was nonexistent—I knew the destruction a single bag could wield. The forgotten treats could be returned next Thursday.

 

I’d finished cleaning, but right there in front of me the chocolates sat, loitering. Be it from a spot of weakness or strength, I suddenly felt compelled to test my fortitude.

 

I’d resolved to only eat one. Stopping after one would confirm a mastery over myself.

 

I could do this.

 

I could demonstrate restraint. Any reservations were gone. Self-improvement needed tests, measuring sticks, objective evidence of success.

 

I drew the shades and quietly opened the bag. I plucked one at random, gripping each loose end of foil between my fingers and slowly unwrapping the morsel, careful to keep the packaging unbroken. I bit in. My teeth ground through the chocolate, the whole thing grittier and more tasteless than remembered. Choking it back, I surveyed the cocoa shrapnel and printed sentiment on the inside of the splayed foil.

 

– Compromise is a sign of strength, not weakness.

 

It was certainly accurate, even highly applicable. Without compromise I’d fixated and completely stressed over a situation involving a measly three dollars of left-behind chocolate. Abstaining entirely had left my life imbalanced.

 

Obsessing wasn’t healthy. Contently concluded, I wasted no time snapping up a handful and tearing into them, always keeping my chewing at an absolute minimum.

 

Stunned, I looked at the bag, half-empty after being hermetically sealed only three minutes ago. I couldn’t return it like this and publicize my mini gorge. Obtaining a fresh one was the only option. Shame set in as I grasped the grocery-store-visit necessity. I vowed to throw the remaining chocolates away, ending this episode here and now, but staring back at me from the table was a vacant Dove wrapper.

 

– Do not look back and ask why; look forward and ask, why not?

 

Exactly, Dove. I jammed the bag’s remnants into my coat pocket and headed out. My right hand blindly fumbled, trying to unwrap my next bite. Vibrant, the candy aisle triggered a nostalgic flood. Reese’s, Clark, Mr. Goodbar—the old gang was all here.

 

Honestly, why not? I thought. Why couldn’t I just initiate a once-a-year, personal food fiesta?

 

I checked my pocket. Their course mildness had yielded to smooth ecstasy, but I was fresh out. All I salvaged was empty foil.

 

– Think without limits.

 

I exchanged my empty shopping basket for a cart. All instinct and no thought—Dove had all the answers I wanted. A full day of cake, fries, and assorted sweets and I’d vanquish my cravings for another year.

 

Thirty minutes after I’d returned home I called in to work for the next day. Everything tasted too good.

 

Friday I awoke during The Price is Right, still in my overcoat and sprawled atop a bed of wrappers. Burger King and Pizza Hut both beckoned and limits were not on today’s menu.

 

At some point the sun was no longer up. My eyes opened. I’d never felt so comfortable. This was what I had sought and, with the lone day now over, I could return to a regiment of fitness, reading, and appetizer sculpting. I sat up and reached into my pocket for one last Dove—a sendoff to savor my hedonism. This one—this one tasted better than any I’d had before, bombarding my taste buds and leaving me lightheaded.

 

– You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

 

My eyes shut and I sank back into my garbage-laden couch. Only snippets—still frames, really—exist in my mind from the next stretch. The next near-lucid thought I remember was on Sunday, I suppose. I surveyed the wreckage from three days of high living and was even feeling a little tipsy. Empty bags, mostly of Dove chocolates, littered the room; a few were even complete with sticky notes stating “Do Not Eat: Replacement Candy” or “Seriously This Time, Do Not Eat.”

 

Four workdays remain before Book Club and I’m in need of an envy-inducing appetizer, a facial scrub, a few hours of cardio, and some incisive opinions. I need a complete life re-raveling. Two days at least. I still have some personal days. Though I could always bail on everything.

 

Some sort of plan has to surface. Where’s that slab of fudge? Fudge is usually great for brainstorming.

 

 

– Join below with just an email address today for free, exclusive ramblings guaranteed never to flood your inbox.  Follow Justin on Twitter for cringe-worthy puns and topical jokes about balms and creams.

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