Thursday, March 19, 2009

life and how to live it

Sometimes, life throws us a curve-ball. Sometimes, it might even toss up a wrong'un (depends if you like baseball or cricket). How we deal with these particular balls is not always clear-cut. Thankfully, we've got sitcoms to show us the way. Sitcoms, for the uninitiated, are television shows that use "writers" instead of "hosts" and have "actors" rather than "contestants." For examples of a sitcom, stay up late; they usually throw an old episode of Seinfeld or Everybody Loves Raymond around the Letterman slot.

Just in case you ever find yourself in Sitcomville (it's a lovely place to visit), here is a simple guide. Pay careful attention; who knows when you'll be presented with a life-changing problem that needs solving within 22 minutes?

Mister Evil Breakfast's Guide To Life In A Sitcom If You Ever Find Yourself Stuck In One Even Though It's Highly Unlikely (MEBGTLIASIYEFYSIOETIHU)

Let's say that Chuck has a new pair of awesome new S'Com Sneakers that cost him $200. You also want a pair of these wicked shoes. Your first step is to ask your parents for a raise in your allowance (leading to some hilarious gags by your dad as he pulls out the calculator to work out how long it will take you to raise that much if all you do is take out the rubbish once a week; this will give you an opening to mention that you'll do it twice a week, thus halving the time it will take to save up). Forget about saving money, or even getting a job; for this is Sitcomville – it’s time you entered a talent show!

No matter how much money you need for something; a pair of shoes or a new car, for instance, this will be the exact amount up for grabs for the person who wins the school talent show. If you win, you won’t actually use the prize money for that pair of sneakers or car; you’ll donate it to the guy you met fourteen seconds ago who needs a lung transplant so he can buy a new lung, or to the local orphanage so they can buy some new orphans. But don’t worry – the sitcom laws mean that your generosity will be rewarded by someone else giving you the shoes or the car – just when you thought that the life-lesson you received this episode was reward enough.

Of course, not everyone can win a talent show, so occasionally some kinds of employment prospects are required. It is not uncommon for people in Sitcomville aged twenty-three and under to apply, be interviewed, obtain, begin and be fired from a job in a single day. After that age, I’m afraid you’re pretty much stuck doing the same thing in the same place until your sitcom is cancelled. Many people will hate their job – the boss is a bastard, there’s a twat at work who keeps getting promoted despite someone else doing all the work; you’re unappreciated in your role. If there’s a promotion on the line, you should invite your grumpy boss around to your house for dinner. He will accept, even though he thinks you’re a dribbling retard. During the meal, he’ll come to realise what an honest, loyal, caring, loving person you are, and forget the fact that you lied your arse off all night about how successful your family is (including your whacky next-door neighbor who insists on fucking up your life), despite the fact that your children are either failing school or can’t get a date to ‘the big dance.’ Welcome to being promoted! After this episode though, your life won’t change one iota. More importantly, you’ve learned a life lesson.

One of the best things about Sitcomville is that the whole place is full of hot, single people. You will meet people literally anywhere – school, work, the supermarket, a cafĂ©, a rock concert, walking down the street, at the ice-cream place. A great way to meet that ‘special’ person is to get into an elevator; there’s a 50% chance that you and hot-single-of-the-opposite-sex will find yourself together in said lift. Once that happens, there’s a 100% chance that the elevator will break down. After that, my friend, you won’t be able to listen to muzak without cracking a boner. So you’ll probably never be able to go into Myer ever again.

If there aren’t any elevators around, your friends will be more than happy to set you up with someone. Blind dates are an essential part of finding a partner and potential partners come in two forms; the supermodel, and the nerd who is a simple makeover montage away from being a supermodel. At least once in your dating life, you will accept two blind dates on the one night, and instead of canceling one, you’ll attend both dates and rush back and forth between them. Because you apparently hate yourself, you’ll tell one of them that you’re a cowboy and the other that you’re a ninja, when you are in fact neither. This will backfire on you (surprise surprise) when you forget which one you said what to. You’ll finish the evening with at least one milkshake being poured over your head… and a valuable life lesson learned.

The climate in Sitcomville rarely changes – it snows at Christmas, there’ll be a great storm at Halloween and will otherwise be mild. The only time that the weather will change is when you have something important going on – if you’ve planned a fishing trip with your buddies instead of going antiquing with your missus, it will piss down rain. If you want to get away during winter, you’ll get snowed in somewhere. A big date on Saturday night and a trip to the beach on Saturday afternoon will result in the worst burn since Lance Armstrong landed on the sun. The important thing is that you learned a valuable life lesson.

School is important, even though you only actually have two classes; one of which is PE and is taught either by an angry, fat lesbian or a 50-year old ex-drill sergeant who puts steroids into his morning coffee. The other class is ‘Valuable Life Lessons,’ and you will cover everything from Shakespeare to trigonometry, but the lessons are really about life. The VLL teacher is usually someone who sprinkles rainbows into their coffee and spreads fortune-cookie philosophy onto their toast. This teacher has a way of explaining poetry, algebra and American history to you in a way that will make you realise that just because your parents won’t let you get your ear pierced, it’s probably not a good enough reason to start smoking crack and sleeping around. Each student at Sitcom High will also be involved in some kind of ‘parenting simulation’ where they will have to look after the world’s most sophisticated robot baby… or an egg. I’d prefer an egg, personally. It won’t keep me up at night with its electronic crying, and I can dunk my toast soldiers into it the next morning and buy 12 new ‘babies’ on the way to school and still get an A. Sitcom High may not look flash, but it really is where most of life’s valuable lessons are learnt.

Even though people live in the Eden that is Sitcomville, occasionally they will go away for a break. If you and your family go on ‘vacation,’ expect your holiday to be spent enforcing stereotypes and at least one person to have a water-skiing accident. Any teenagers within the family will also have a holiday romance, and of course, learn a life lesson. However, it’s not always in the budget to ship the cast and crew of your sitcom family to Italy, and is much easier if your occasionally-seen neighbours decide to piss off instead. One snag though – you have to look after their prize dog/ cat/ bird/ fish/ penguin/ goat/ gladiolas/ etc… and you just know that as soon as someone gives something precious to someone else, something is about to die.

It’s not anyone’s fault really – it’s just not that easy being a pet in Sitcomville; there’s disembodied laughter every 45 seconds which would fucking kill me too. The worst thing is that as soon as you find the bloodied corpse of the animal, the phone will ring and it’ll be nice-next-door-neighbour Ted asking how you’re going with his cuddly canine/ kitten/ wombat/ raptor/ last white rhino in existence. It’s about now that you say, “He’s fine,” instead of “your dog was fine and all, but his head wasn’t really attached as firmly as it could have been, right?” The rest of the episode is spent trying to work out how to either get an imposter dog involved, or how to make it seem like the dog went crazy and ran away. For those playing the Sitcom Drinking Game, take a shot if any plan involves someone dressing up like the pet in question. In the end though, you’ll realise that honesty really IS the best policy, and you’ll come clean to your neighbour, and tell them that you left the dog unsupervised with a running chainsaw, rusty lawn mower, Freddy, Jason and Reese Witherspoon and that it’s your fault they died. You should leave this tear-jerking confession until there’s two minutes to go in the episode though – that way the neighbour can’t get too angry and you’ll avoid almost all punishment. Sweet. The most important thing though, is that you learnt a valuable lesson.

So now you know the rules for the next time you drive your car through your parent’s house – talk things over, admit your mistake, have a family hug, win a talent show and learn yourself a valuable fucking life lesson.

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