The One With the Sterility Test

My bride-to-be isn't always on top of the latest trends or cultural phenomenon. Just last week I explained Twitter to her (I just figured it out the week before). We live in the tax bracket most likely to get screwed by Octomoms, corporate bailout queens, House Financial Services Committees, and guys who pretend to be a former Foreigner drummer, so we aren't able to afford the latest fashion trends. But I no sooner had moved all of my stuff into her third story, vaulted ceiling haven than she put on the latest Flu season fashion.

If I didn't know better, I would believe it to be a calculated move to ensure I was committed to the "sickness" part of "sickness and health". While excited for the opportunity to take care of her, I was also not-so-silently proud of my immune system because I seemed to be avoiding the sickness as she slowly degraded into a pitifully cute, deep coughing, loogie spitting, high-fevered contagion. I walked through the fire and was not burned!

Then, while we slept, the virus moved in a style reminiscent of the Venom symbiote from her to me, bonding with me on a cellular basis. Even as I type, the fight for dominance continues in my body:

Today also marks 10 years, 11 months since I was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma (Sept is 11 years in remission). In celebration, I finally went for a sterility test (Science Fact: chemo can cause sterility). What I had been lead to believe by movies and television shows is that I would be provided a cup, a room, access to some sort of stimulant, and perhaps a hot nurse.

The reality of the situation ended up being very much in keeping with a sitcom episode. The lab company only has one accommodating office for this test despite many, much more convenient branches. The truth is this one office is just really close to the mother-lab as to ensure freshness.

After arriving and waiting about half-an-hour I was given the expected cup and escorted to a room. I use the term loosely, as it was more of a closet. There was a lonely four-legged chair to the left when you walked through the door. This was next to a sink with hand sanitizer and a small stack of paper towels. On the opposite wall was a small blood taking stool, the kind with the black leather cushion seat and arms. Next to the stool was a small bookshelf with toilet paper rolls. A picture of Mickey Mouse hung on the left of the door frame.

I was told to lock the door behind the nurse and bring out the filled cup in a nice bio-hazard bag when finished. That’s it. The first thought to pass through my mind was that every other guy who had to get this test done had sat in the chair and made his deposit. That was enough to pretty much kill my chances of success.

The sound of children screaming and multiple conversations and alarms going off in the other two rooms and at the front desk destroyed whatever illusion I was trying to create that I was alone. It was a lost cause.

After admitting to the lady at the desk that I could not perform such an act in such surroundings, she recommended I bring back my fiancée later in the day to try again. Nobody offered the other alternative (2:20).


The Covenience Store Files: Taquitos

Strictly for our own bemusement my good friend, Mr. O'Flacker and I took it upon ourselves to go round to local gas station’s convenience stores and do a comparison of all things taquito. The rules were as follows: 1) Go to as many different Quik-E-Marts type places as possible in the given area 2) Buy one of every available flavor taquito 3) Consume 4) Critique the bejeezus out of the entire experience - from concept to the tasting, whilst keeping it short and at least mildly interesting to the idle reader.

I myself do not frequent the innards of Quik-E-Marts too often. I go to get gas, pay at the pump, and depart. Only on road trips has it ever become imperative that I enter into such establishments – (pretzels & Gatorade are my fuel – diff entry). The "diminutive taco" worked its way into my zeitgeist via Mr. O'Flacker and his late night, drunken escapades. (Drunk running out of the bar, stumbling towards the 7-Eleven, angrily shouting slurred statements of taquito munchies). So in need of something bloggable, I was compelled to try out the little fried fiends who, like Sirens of old, lured drunken men to their doom.

Living in the middle of suburban sprawl we didn’t have to venture far to find the goods. In the end, we acquired samples from 7-Eleven, Circle K, and RaceTrac (Marathon, Hess Express, and Mobil – for shame) The findings were placed on the middle rack of the oven and broiled for about 30 seconds to heat them back up (no microwave – we wanted to ensure crispy)

We hunted and gathered the following:

7-Eleven Buffalo Chicken, Taco, Monterey Jack & Chicken, Supreme Omelet

RaceTrac Beef, Chicken; Pepperoni Pizza; & Cheesy Pepperjack

Circle K Ranchero Steak & Cheese; Chicken & Pepperjack; French Toast & Sausage (FTS); Sausage, Egg, & Cheese (SEG)

We had to travel to two Circle Ks to find the crispy goodness and then had to overcome the first marketing hurdle – Circle K has “Tornadoes” not taquitos. With the pumped up name we hoped for pumped up flavor or better ingredients, but all we got was the same exact taquitos available at RaceTrac with better PR. The Ranchero Steak & Cheese of Circle K was simply the Beef of RaceTrac. Same with the Chicken & Pepperjack vs. Chicken. RaceTrac is known here for their cheap gas, which must result from not getting fancy when it comes to their taquitos.

Taste wise, the FTS was the clear champion in the breakfast category. A simple maple breakfast sausage wrapped in fried tortilla – eloquent in simplicity. The clear as an ummuddied lake loser in the same category was the SEG. Dissection proved there was the thinnest strip of sausage, as well as some "egg", but the rancid rollup had spent to much time in the warmer and almost caused my good friend and colleague to hurl taquitoness. He was so desperate to get the taste out of his mouth he had to grab the bottle of Jack from the freezer and take a swig (or two) to cleanse his pallet.

In the non-breakfast category the best of the best of the night was a dark horse from RaceTrac: Cheesy Pepperjack. Unwrapping it we found chicken, corn, black beans, celery, dried red pepper, and a southwest type sauce! The RaceTrac website had no mention of this particular taquito, so I'm chalking it up to the local management making a good pick from the food truck list. Kudos.

Overall though, 7-Eleven has the dominant taquito experience. Reason #1: they are the most expensive ($1.29/each as compared to .99 elsewheres), and therefore, following the rules of Capitalism, are the best. I surmise that the price is driven up by the cardboard containers used to keep your little, fried fajitas happy and warm until you destroy them in your gullet. The others had readily available, cheap paper sleeves in which to chuck the fried baby tacos.

Even the act of acquiring the taquito is more elaborate at 7-Eleven. In order for you to hold one for yourself it is necessary for the trained service technician behind the counter to get them for you, giving the impression that what is being sold is far too valuable to leave unattended - like diamond rings or donuts. Truly it is a place worthy of celestial praise serving the manna of the mass production gods.

Additional Notes:
  • Pimento cheese was used in the Chicken & Pepperjack.
  • The Buffalo Chicken and Taco from 7-Eleven had a nice spicy kick to them
  • Gas issues started about half way through the taste test.
  • I made it through the whole night before my bowels woke me about half an hour earlier than normal
  • Sam's Club sells two different brands' 30 packs for under $12


Evil Genie Doritos & Other Super Bowl Ads

It's over and the Steeler's strung up a couple of historic Super Bowl first: 1st 100 yard touch down, youngest coach to win, and first team to win 6x. Here in the Tampa burbs, the volunteer fire station's sirens wail out towards the first drunken crashes of the night. Perhaps those involved ran out of magical Dorito's and the universe righted itself from the desire-granting by having them hit by a bus - that will teach them to not stock up on Doritos.

Overall the SB ads weren't very memorable. As a secondary demographic that recognizes most all things 80's, it's interesting to me to see the various references popping up in the commercials, or not. Audi's "Great Chase Scenes Through the Decades featuring Jason Stratham" did a nice job of covering the last 40 years. Was it "Tommy Boy" that I saw on the movie marquee for the 90's segment?

The Dylan/Will.i.am mashup seemed to stick to the boomers and to Gen KeyDemo, by showing the many similarities between them. Boomers are as fun-loving and misguided in their soft drinks selection as any college student on Spring Break today. No Rod Stewart "Forever Young" references for GenX? Does anyone in the Gen KeyDemo even know Dylan? And where was T-Pain?

Speaking of change, there's apparently been a lot in the Fast & The Furious universe between the 1st installment and the latest coming out soon. When asked pre-show what exactly has changed - Vin sputtered and didn't say much. They're older now?

More sirens. Please, once the Evil Doritos Genie is out of the bag, you can't put it back! Keep buying more Doritos. Don't get me started on Chester the passive-aggression devil Cheetah. Also: creepy, 3D, Sobee lizards. Can the Era of Hope with all it's first and change stand up against such things?!

Lastly, my fiance teaches HS Reading & Comprehension. In one of the exercises the students had to write questions about what they just read. One first generation US citizen wrote - "Who is G.I. Joe?"

My future-wife mentioned this to me because she knew I would find this lack of pop culture history blasphemous. Understandable? Yes. But G.I. Joe spans various decades. No sooner did I begin to weep for the future of this country, than a commercial for the live-action G.I. Joe movie came on the screen!

Thank God, Hollywood is raping my child-hood memories to make movies and educate the youth of today on the toy trends of yesterday. (He-Man was recently green lit too!)

Other short notes: Cash4Gold.com is real! Conan is awesome. Leno has nice cars, but needs to step aside for Conan. And the 3D hoopla wasn't that great.

Some more sirens. Be safe out there. If you live in Pittsburg, remember that schools will be on a two hour delay, if it's not an official day off by now.
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