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Family History

By Ray Lesser

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40,000 B.C – Dad gets a promotion and family moves to France, where they take up residence in a spotless new cave. However, while Mom is out one day shopping for escargot and grubs, Junior draws all over the walls with permanent marker. Dad promises to paint over Junior’s art “as soon as I’m finished inventing the wheel” “It’s ok,” says Mom. “At least if he’s in here killing imaginary bears and lions and wolves, I don’t have to worry about him getting eaten by real ones.”

5,000 B.C. – Mom, tired of having to go down to the river every time she wants a drink of water, invents pottery. “Now we can carry a whole jug of water back home with us.” Sis is given the chore of carrying water. “How come I have to do all the work around here, while Junior gets to sit around all day and make doodles on clay tablets?” “Your brother is a writer. Someday, after someone invents reading, those doodles will be worth a fortune.” Meanwhile Dad has figured out that if they store their grain in a jug with a stopper, the mice can’t eat it. But one day Sis uses a jug that still has some grain in it to carry water. By the time they realize her mistake, the watery grain has gone bad, but Dad, who has a high tolerance for rancid food, drinks it anyway. Afterwards, he gets sick and passes out next to the campfire. Soon he is making more batches of this rancid grain beverage and sharing it with all the other guys, so they can get sick and pass out next to the campfire, too.

400 B.C. – In Greece, Democracy is invented. Dad goes off with the guys to vote while Mom and the kids stay home to watch the goats. The goats are remarkably boring to watch, so Mom sends the kids to learn about philosophy with Socrates, a guy who hangs out at the market lecturing anyone who’ll listen. Socrates teaches the kids the absolute importance of telling the truth at all times. When Dad and the other politicians find out that Socrates has been corrupting the youth with truth, they vote to sentence him to death by poisoning. It takes several months after Socrates’ dismissal before anyone else is willing to take over his teaching position. This period of time becomes known as “summer vacation.”

100 B.C. – In Britain, Dad goes off to a clash with the neighboring clan of Celts. He is last seen proudly driving his souped-up chariot into battle screaming like a Banshee, completely naked and painted blue from head to toe. While Mom looks for a new husband, Sis practices to become a Druid priestess by gathering what she hopes might be healing herbs, forcing Junior to eat them, and watching to see if he seems any healthier afterwards.

1280 – In Italy, eyeglasses are invented. Mom gets a pair and for the first time in her life she can see exactly how dirty her children are. She immediately makes them take a bath and put on clean clothes. Soon the kids hide her glasses to make sure this never happens again. Meanwhile, Dad brings home the first watch. Mom immediately accuses him of being late for dinner.

1880 – Dad buys Junior a newly invented bicycle and a Yale lock to keep it from being stolen. Junior promptly locks his bike to a fencepost and forgets the combination. Also, the family installs a modern indoor flush toilet. Dad spends the morning sitting on it reading the sports section.

1881 – The British Perforated Paper Company invents toilet paper. Mom tells Junior to hand a roll to Dad so he can finally come out of the bathroom and go to work.

1960 – Mom buys a non-stick frying pan. But, using it the first time, she still manages to burn dinner. After a quick trip to McDonalds for “take-out fast food,” the family gathers around the console TV set to watch their favorite show Have Gun Will Travel. The star of this TV Western, Paladin, is a San Francisco dandy who dresses in semi-formal costumes, eats gourmet food, attends the opera, and kills people with a Derringer that he keeps hidden under his belt. “Isn’t this gay!” says Mom. “When I grow up, I’m going to move to San Francisco and kill people with the gun hidden under my belt, too!” says Junior. “When can I switch it to the ballgame?” asks Dad.

2008 – Mom spends her time tracing the family’s genealogy on the Internet. She is somewhat disappointed to learn that the family has descended from generation after generation of people that nobody knows anything about, except that they all suffered from hemorrhoids. Meanwhile, Dad is busy selling off priceless family heirlooms on eBay to raise cash to install solar panels, super-insulate the house, or perhaps buy an entire week’s worth of groceries in one trip to the market. Junior is safely occupied killing pre-historic animals on his Sea Monsters video game. Sis practices for her career as a media sensation by posting videos of herself on YouTube twirling a spear, while wrapped only in a bearskin rug.

Poor Raymond’s Almanac

By Ray Lesser

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Courteous Reader,

I have a tradition to uphold, a tradition shared by our great forefather, Ben Franklin, who upon signing the Declaration of Independence became one of the first in a long line of American fat bald guys with glasses. Not only did Ben help invent America, he did invent bi-focal glasses. Fat and bald I can’t give him as much credit for, though he was clearly a leader and shining example of both.

Now amazingly, as we progress into 2005, I realize that I am destined to be one of the last fat bald guys with glasses in America. In another generation, we’ll have a pill that can melt away fat, a tonic that can grow hair, and simple laser eye surgery that can be performed at a booth in the mall, the same way kids now have their ears pierced. No one will ever look like me again.

So I follow in the proud tradition of Franklin, a man who vainly wore a coonskin cap in the palace of the King of France in order to cover his baldness, a man who learned French primarily so he could order a la carte. We fat bald guys with glasses will be mocked, but we will not lose our place in the buffet line. We may have difficulty reading signs, but that will not stop us from predicting the future.

For at least a few more years, we will continue to stand among you as perfect models for all that is wrong with nature.

o Diligence is the Mother of good luck. The Father, meanwhile, is in the casino, trying to double his paycheck at the roulette wheel.

o Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Which means that the perfect time to suffocate wealthy wise guys is right after the Letterman show.

o Experience is often the most painful way of learning, but at least you never have to worry about studying for a quiz.

o Both fish and visitors smell after three days. So whose idea was it to let them use the good towels?

o God helps them that help themselves. God loves them that love themselves. God touches them that touch themselves. Say É what kind of pervert is this God?

o Haste makes waste. Unless you’re stuck in rush hour traffic on the Beltway.

o Beware the hobby that requires replacement parts from Italy, and only burns premium fuel.

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to prosper.” -Ben Franklin

o Don’t hide your talent, it was made to use. But if your talent is for suffering, better learn to sing the blues.

o If you want to get somewhere in life, you need to know three things: where you came from, where you’re going, and where your wife left the keys to the car.

o On Judgement Day, we shall be examined by what we did, not what we said. However, agents of the Homeland Security Department are now operating under a different set of rules.

o While talking with friends at a Philadelphia tavern, Ben Franklin was accosted by a drunken man who had overheard him discussing the Declara-tion of Independence. Slandering the document, the fellow shouted: “Them words don’t mean nothing at all. Where’s all the happiness the document says it guarantees us?” Franklin replied, “My friend, the Declaration of Independence only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself!”