A Tax Break—Up

Well, it’s officially tax season again, and we all know what that means: a rise in accountant-assisted suicides. That’s right, Dr. Kevorkian has transferred over to the money management field to help all those facing the impending doom of the IRS (“The William Wallace of government agencies”). As is ninety-nine percent of America, chances are you will have to pay the government instead of receiving a refund. We know things have turned sour when a near poverty-level friend of mine did his taxes last night and learned that he owed the government more money. And he’s in the easiest tax bracket!

That’s right folks, each year it’s getting harder and harder to get money back from Uncle Sam, unless, of course you are his off-spring or your name is Donald Trump. Why does he get a tax break? He should be having people over to the Taj Mahal for dinner saying things like, “Everybody, this round of tax penalties are on me!” But of course, he doesn’t have to pay extra taxes because he has this special word he uses anytime the IRS come near – I can only say it once, for fear that a spying government official might hear it and shrink back under their desks in horror. The forbidden word is “deductions”. Deductions, deductions, deductions. That’s right. Donald Trump has more deductions than Wilt Chamberlin had sleepovers. And you, my friends, have none.

You might be saying to yourself, “I may not have any deductions right now, but I sure will once I get married!” To a single individual looking for the easiest way to scheme money back from the IRS, marriage is the quickest answer. And the plan seemed to actually work for a while. A couple would get married, have scores of children and receive a golden egg’s worth of deductions (I apologize if any undercover IRS agents have stuck gigantic pencils in their ears to block out my repeated use of the word “deduction”). Yet that is not the way it works anymore. Congress, always working for you, has found ways for the IRS to get around the child deduction and still force you to pay an arm and a leg each year. It’s incredibly comforting to know that the legislative branch of the government is working so hard for my benefit, yet I wish they would spend less time finding creative ways for me to give my money to them and start figuring out how to legislate romance.

Thanks to another astute friend of mine, it has come to my attention that Congress (“We cost the most, but we do the least!”) has been spending a lot of time pondering the question of homosexual marriage. Is it legal for two individuals of the same gender to get married? Let me explain the two arguments. One side of Congress wants to allow gay marriages because by the joining of two people together into a legal oneness, it pushes them up into the next tax bracket allowing for more money, and henceforth more cocktail parties of the likes where Ted Kennedy continually manages to always lose his trousers. Ted’s version of the moon-walk has become the stuff of legend around many-a-gossip rings in the Cambridge area. The other side of the argument has to do with the fear that if Congress allows it, many right-wing conservatives will bash their heads in with very heavy books.

Personally, I choose not to hold an opinion on this subject. And this is not just because I could care less. It is because I think the alternative lifestyle community is crazy to push for legal registration for their marriages. Before you go labeling me a bigot, give me a chance to say why. I think it’s in their best interest to keep things the way they are. The gay and lesbian community currently holds a reputation of being chic (“cool” for those that have never picked up a magazine). They congregate in the urban centers of America, where hot coffee shops and late-night dance clubs rule. Why change that? Why trade that in for a suburban home with a back-yard (not that I don’t love mowing the yard in sweltering heat) and a mini-van that is secretly rusting from the inside out? You people are cool, don’t go hanging out with the bath-robe wearing, newspaper reading, early-to-bed crowd!

Before you NRA-trained ready to attack conservatives come running at me, weapons cocked and ready to pummel, hear me out. You all are our nation’s “moral” conscience; the group that is willing to do the dirty work. We all know that the liberals won’t be ready when the time comes to throw out the dead rat they found in the basement—they’ll be screaming at the top of their lungs for you to come and rescue them, the whole time standing on their chairs in panic. And when you catch the rat, they’ll beg you not to kill it, because they decided that its name is Rusty.

I say the non-gay community should let homosexual marriage pass—let our alternative friends take over the mini-vans and the extra tax penalties. The straight community can then go live it up in the recently vacated downtown apartments, making off with their tax returns and laughing all the way to the bank. That’s what everyone wants, isn’t it? The gay and lesbian community can join the real world (“There is NO reality in this reality show”), while the straight people like myself can skip out on all the responsibility and party it up (except that’s what I do now, anyway).

And here’s one last point to give up the fight against homosexual marriage. Over half of all marriages end up in divorce, costing the individuals even more money and tax penalties. I say, if that’s what they want, let’em have it. As for me, I’ll be taking my spare change and putting it in some off-shore account. Or maybe I’ll invest it and open up an all night wedding chapel/accountant’s office/IRS defense headquarters. That way I’ll make sure to have plenty of DEDUCTIONS!

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My Literary License Should Be Revoked

I write humor columns.  I feel I should clarify this, as there have been numerous responses to some of my previous columns, stating a moderate level of worry about some of my “anecdotal one-liners”.  Apparently, some people feel that I am trying to push a hidden agenda behind the humor.  Let me say this: they are absolutely correct.  Since my code has been cracked (Dan Brown would be proud of you), I will honestly and straightforwardly let you all in on my secret agenda.  My goal is world domination.  And my plan is to take over the planet by placing subliminal, subversive messages in my humor columns, and gradually, over say forty or fifty years, the world will know me as their all-knowing ruler (I suggest President Bush raise the security level to chartreuse).

Actually, I’m kidding.  It will probably take more like sixty-five years for the subliminal messages to take effect.  Okay, I’m not planning to take over the world (but I may go after France, I hear they’re not big on fighting).  In truth, my first paragraph was a joke, except of course for the first sentence.  Then again, a few of you may have thought that was a joke as well.  Since I care so much about my adoring fan base, I wanted to help make sure that each perfectly-timed (I have yet to time a joke right), witty (rarely are my jokes witty) statement does not go unnoticed.   In order to help everyone know when I am making a joke, I am going to discuss two recent news items, one of which is very serious and should not be made light of, while the other would be well-suited for a punch-line at an orthodontist convention.  Hopefully the juxtaposition of these two stories will make it possible to understand the idiom of my own personal humor.  The first story is about proposed Nebraska legislation to segregate public schools.  Since this is a very serious topic, I will make no jokes and report it as an actual journalist (which means that there will be no “potty” jokes; though I can’t guarantee I won’t use the word “snozberries”).

Lately, the Omaha Public School District has been engaged in a debate over district re-alignment.  Their goal is to annex the Millard and Elkhorn school districts, thus making Omaha “One City, One School District”.  To me, that sounds very similar to Adolf Hitler “One World, One Style of Moustache”.  I can’t believe this is being fought in our state’s mini-congress (“Trying to be as useless as the real Congress”), but it gets worse.  In a reactionary measure, one of the city districts gave an opposing proposition for Omaha to split the current public school district into three separate districts, based upon locality.  There would be a west Omaha district, as well as a south and a north, and what school your child went to was dependant upon your location in the city.  Basically, this would divide Omaha into three different races.  And this week it was passed and signed by the Governor!  Personally, I think this is a wonderful idea.  I mean, segregation worked before (just ask Rosa Parks), and maybe it could work again!   But I don’t think it should be divided by race.  I think it should be divided by extra-curricular activities.  I grew up in Omaha, and although this is not a geographical or racial distinction, I think the best way to keep similar people together is to separate students by their favorite activity.  Here are a few suggestions for activity separation: athletes (“2+2=my jock strap”), nerds (“Pocket Protectors and Their Validity in Today’s World Market”), rebels, and budding pornographers.  That probably wouldn’t work (everyone would want to be in the budding pornographers district), but I doubt anything will change soon anyway, because Nebraska’s legislature is very good at imitating their national counter-part.

This brings me to my next important story.  A few years ago, Dan Brown wrote a novel entitled The DaVinci Code.    Since I know that most of my readers prefer truth to lies, I doubt many of you have read his fiction, but none-the-less it has stirred up controversy.  This is mainly due to the fact that he scented the pages in his book to smell like marijuana to entice more readers.  Actually, it’s because this summer his book will be presented by Hollywood on the silver screen.  The reason people are upset about this is because many citizens in this country feel that Dan Brown overstepped his literary license by adding things to The Bible in order to fit his story (prepare the tar and feathers).  His plot has something to do with the protagonist using secret codes found in The Bible to solve a murder mystery.  How dare an author make up something to use in a fictional story!  This absolutely appalls me.  Not once in my writings have I ever made up something just to sell copies, and as an author, I feel he should be banned from writing for the rest of his life.  He should become a journalist.

I think it is a horrible crime on humanity when authors twist real events in order to make the story work.  The sad truth is that nearly everyone does it.  In fact, this treachery even goes back to John Wayne.  His military performances had no basis in reality; if they did, not one country would have dared to oppose “The Duke”.  And everyone knows that when King Kong made his real life appearance in the thirties, the stage was set up outside on the river, not in a theater on Broadway!  I definitely believe that Dan Brown’s literary license should be revoked.  And while they’re at it, they should probably take mine away as well.  I admit to you that I did tell a lie (only one) in this column.  The pages in The DaVinci Code were not scented like marijuana; that would be ludicrous.  They were flavored with snozberries.  Really, taste it.  I’m not making it up.

Much Ado About Omaha

I live in Omaha, Nebraska (by the way, Katie Couric, Nebraska is in the United States, not Uzbekistan), and I’m supposed to tell you how great a place it is to visit. But before you rush over to your local banker and withdrawal all your money just to run out on the road and throw it in the face of some random driver who is swerving to hit you, hear me out. Omaha is not a big deal. Omaha is, in fact, the littlest deal I can think of. You are all honest, hard-working type individuals, relentlessly skimming away the profits of your bureaucratic and uselessly large corporations, and I want to level with all of you who dream of visiting the bustling tourist trap that is Omaha. It’s nothing special. Sure, we have the eighth largest concert venue in the world and are home to one of the best underground music scenes in the country, but that’s nothing! The people in this town all speak in one large, audible voice and with all their hearts want to tell you “meh”.

Despite the urges of countless Omaha denizens, many of you may have already cashed in your frequent flyer miles and ditched out on extended family vacations in order to enjoy the lush humidity and over-sized nests of mosquitoes in this fair town, but stop now and heed my crucial advice: don’t come to Omaha! Anyone who’s lived here longer than a nano second will tell you exactly the same thing: “There’s nothing to do in this town.” You may try to squash their apathy with a well-timed comment about the College World Series, or retort with the fact that Omaha’s theater community is where many of Hollywood’s best and brightest call home. Listen to the locals; they’re right and they care (despite their complete lack of interest). Allow me to suggest a top-notch summer activity that will accomplish the same goal as a real vacation: it will deplete every penny you have and leave you feeling completely exhausted, frustrated and stressed-out.

Instead of visiting the historic Old Market, or relaxing at one of the numerous high-class country clubs that Omaha provides, stay at home and try out a new awesome summer idea: plan a fake wedding! What better way is there to take away any chance of peace and comfort that an unplanned summer might provide, and use of every cent in your checking account at the same time? You are probably thinking to yourself that planning a wedding may be splendid fun, but you’re concerned because then you’d actually have to spend the rest of your life with the other person. Well folks, this is no longer a problem!

Thanks to a reader of mine named Dorothy Harris who sent me a wonderful article from the Dennison Sun Times (“Always a Dull Moment”) in Dennison, Iowa, I learned of a woman who, every July for the past fifteen years, planned and hosted a spectacular wedding ceremony and reception in her back-yard. Never was one detail missed. The cake was the richest and most delicate chocolate, covered in a frosting that looked as if it were pulled from a cloud. Flowers guided you along a path of exquisite beauty, and everyone danced until the sun rose the following morning. Here’s the key to her success: she’s not married, nor has she ever been. At her weddings, there is no actual marriage! The “service” part of the wedding encompasses a lovely reading of the dinner menu, to be held later. And your guests won’t care if there’s no actual nuptials; most likely they are just there for the free drinks.

Thus, I have a lovely suggestion for you. Get engaged! Who cares if you never actually make it down the aisle, you’ll gain more enjoyment planning the wedding than actually attending it. Trust me, I’ve done it twice and it’s way more fun than chasing your inebriated uncle through the park while trying to get him to put his pants back on. So this summer, instead of wasting your time by miserably pacing through the exhibits at the Joslyn Art Museum, or sulking through a dramatic performance of Romeo and Juilet at Shakespeare on the Green, go find yourself that all-important boyfriend or girlfriend and propose. Shop for the perfect dress, interview every caterer in town, scream your way through seventeen different florists, and then break up with your significant other just before you say “I do”. Your guests will be singing your praises all the way through the eighty-fifth box of supermarket champagne. There is no better or more deeply enriching way to pass the dog days of summer; that is unless you can get hired as Dan Rather’s replacement on the CBS Evening News (“Knowledge of current events is optional”).

So what should you do with your summer this year? The truth is I don’t really care. Actually, that’s not true. Despite there being absolutely no reason to visit my home town, I hope you come. I hope everyone comes. I hope that so many people visit Omaha that our streets turn into clogged arteries making my blood pressure rise high enough to make an aneurism seem like a day at the beach. And I hope you see me, which you will, as I will be the guy stuck in traffic next to you on the interstate screaming at the top of his lungs while our friends on the road construction crew (“your tax dollars at play”) take their mandatory fifteen minute break (which oddly enough occurs every ten minutes). I look forward to seeing you, and who knows, maybe we’ll get along and decide to kick off this summer of fun by planning a wedding together. Don’t worry, we’ll break up before any papers are signed, and you’ll be back home by the end of the summer; tired, angry and missing your twelve inch by twelve inch cubicle. And just like with every broken engagement, your passionate hatred of me will keep you warm through those long winter months. It will be absolutely wonderful.

After a second thought, maybe I’ll just go to France. I think that’s somewhere off the coast of Australia.