Thursday, March 24, 2011


“How I Remember the Order of Operations” By Stuart Slouch

Three weeks ago I was at the Post Office shipping off a flash drive loaded up with scans of the Rainbow Six Vegas Official Strategy Guide to a sucker from eBay. By the time I got to the front of the line to suffer the salted-soup stench of the geriatric clerk, I had played fourteen games of Cat Photo Memory on my iPhone. I said to the aged clerk, “I want this Parcel Post, okay? (And please remember to ship it to the correct address this time, grandpa).” The clerk heard what I had muttered and punched me in the mouth.

The clerk, Timbo, was much stronger than his frail arms made him seem. He waved to the back and all of these other antique guys started pouring out, first two, then four, then eight, and so on, increasing exponentially until I was surrounded by thirty-nine elderly men wearing pleated slacks and expressions of utter hatred for youth. These powdery ghosts were obsolete relics of a miserable pre-digital era that their atrophied brains had the pleasure of forgetting. They had the translucent skin of shrimp and I could see their liver and onion lunches passing through their intestines.

Each of the thirty-nine elderly men whistled in unison and thirty-nine mighty elephants, looking like they'd been out of commission since India was the Crown Jewel, galloped through the Post Office’s front windows, multiplying by two the number of creatures who were displeased with me. There were now seventy-eight seniors wanting to teach me a lesson about mocking the old geezers.

The frail army divided into six units of thirteen and each formed a human-pachyderm pyramid. Timbo stood atop his and shouted, “What dare you think about your youth? Be you superior? Be you superior because your mind has a better capacity to store useless knowledge? Be you superior because your mind can hold all of the passwords to your accounts on Japanese pornography websites? Recall, child, that my frail mind still holds within it the memories of storming the beach at Normandy and then bedding a higher quantity of women than the attendance of the Seneca Falls Convention.”

I added, “That’s such a dated reference only someone with a dusty dick like yourself would understand. Get with it, grandpa. Buy a PSP; get on Skype. Back up your rusted bones to an external hard drive before they collapse under the weight of your dead dreams.”

Timbo and his elderly army descended upon me, beating me with penny loafers and newsboy caps. From the commotion arose a cloud of chalky old-man dust that smelled like an embalmed corpse. The elephants slapped my cheeks with their leathery trunks and my body bruised with each whap of a shoe or cane or flat-rate Priority Mail envelope. I shouted, “At least I can see, you blind old creeps!” Just then, one of them put his fingers into my eye sockets and subtracted two eyeballs from my face.

Now every time I smell a movie theater at 11am on a Tuesday or listen to someone play Rainbow Six Vegas, I remember the order of operations and wonder if those senile brawlers have kicked the bucket yet. Thanks to my 16GB iPhone I will always remember the order of operations. The memory is stored right next to my knowledge of the box office grosses of the Spider-Man trilogy.

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