I was wearing light tan pants. You can guess what happened next, but you should probably keep reading.
I was in a fast food joint getting iced tea. I moved a bottle of soy sauce out of my way. It slipped and fell to the ground. Soy sauce shot out of it, spraying me in the crotch. I grabbed some wet napkins, sat down and started rubbing my lap to avoid a stain.
Hey kids, don’t rub your privates in public, even to remove a stain.
I don’t think anyone at Noodles and Company in downtown Pittsburgh knew I was trying to protect my pants. With the help of stain remover the size of a pencil, I was able to rub it out. I still smelled like soy sauce. I was marinated the rest of the day. I kept craving Benihana.
I’ve stained a lot of clothes. Not always my own. When I was a teenager back in the Late Paleozoic, I worked at a grocery store. I remember this one time I was setting up a display of Seven Seas salad dressing and I dropped a bottle of Italian on the ground. The bottle was plastic and it bounced. The lid popped open and squirted a distance of 10 feet, hitting a customer in the eye. I couldn’t get over how far the blob of Italian dressing traveled to hit him square in the face.
I remember that guy was really angry, but he still looked like he was winking at me. He couldn’t keep his right eye open without burning pain. My manager had to take the guy into the employee washroom (not that gross one customers had to use). As punishment, I was placed on buggy control for the rest of the week. It was my job to corral all the shopping carts in the parking lot and bring them inside. It was humiliating. Usually the baggers had to rustle up the carts, but I was a stock boy, which was one step up. The grocery store caste system made sense at the time.
I recall going to McDonald’s with a group of friends back in those awkward teenage years. I had some difficulty trying to open one of those plastic packets of ketchup. I was squeezing really hard when it popped open, and once again, the ketchup flew two tables away and splattered all over a businessman, who was, up until then, minding his own business. When he looked down and saw his shirt and skinny tie (it was the mid to late ’80s), his face was as red as the Heinz 57 he was wearing. I apologized profusely, but my friends exacerbated the problem by laughing uncontrollably. I believe one of them slipped under the table, seized with a fiery fit of giggles. I’m convinced that’s when the expression ROTFL was invented. I blame those slippery yellow plastic booths.
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Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.