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Attention from a pretty girl is all any of us wants -- men, that is. There are volumes of slick magazines devoted to a monthly review of "What he really wants," when it's just that simple. Sloshing around in our skulls is a bath of chemicals that reacts with the sponge in the middle and a telephone wire that connects to our marbles. The constant message on the phone line is the baritone voice of Johnny Cash saying, "Make a pretty girl laugh today." Like the arch-villains in comic books, if we don't get what we want, we go on a rampage. We whip the whining engines of motorcycles up and then rip them down the street. We fabricate gigantic cranes that we then use to construct skyscrapers that block out the sky. Suspension bridges, rifles, canals that carve the country up to connect two oceans are all the products of men who loved a curly-haired girl who didn't love them back. Rodeo clowns presented a rose to their sweetie in the fifth grade and had it thrown to the ground and smashed beneath the heel of a buckled shoe and white stocking. Yes, all of them.

If we don't get what we want, we'll crack our jaws and have them realigned, get hairplugs put in our scalps in the fashion of a Ken doll, and we'll have the skin on our face peeled off and replaced. We'll stand in front of a TV camera on a sound set and think of the girls who broke our hearts and cry. The men who asked a girl to dance and were snubbed then project that image of us crying into the airwaves and 12 million black boxes light up and show it.

The North and South Poles were conquered by little boys who didn't get a Valentine in their cubbyholes when they were in the second grade. Every war was started because a neighbor girl laughed at us.

If we only could all get what we want. If tomorrow all of our phones lit up and rang. If on the other end was the lady of our dreams, tow trucks would stand still on the side of the road with a car hanging from the hook and their yellow lights whirling around; couches and chairs, living rooms and kitchens would stand bare, refrigerators open, and television sets would bleat into the void; the great courts would go on recess and only a vacuum would be left behind, until all the park benches in all the sunny gardens filled with grubby men staring into the eyes of pretty girls.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, March 23

Knight School

ESPN2 9:00 p.m. Sure my dad hopes I'll make it to Knight School, but let's be realistic, I'm destined for Court Jester School. Let's drop the pretense and be happy I'm not bound for Dancing Lady of the Evening School, okay?

Casino Diaries II

DTIMES 7:00 p.m. If I stand facing the right direction, and it's quiet, after the shops are closed and the cars are parked, I can hear the ice tinkle tinkling in a bourbon and soda and the call of a stickman at a craps table. I cry a single tear when I think of how I miss her, Vegas, my city, and the heat of dice.

Friday, March 24

Images of Mary

EWTN 8:30 p.m. As an atheist, I've been inspecting my pancakes and shower curtain for visions of Darwin or Einstein, but so far nothing has appeared.

Saturday, March 25

Ask This Old House

AETV 9:30 a.m. I've always wanted a name for my dwelling. I've been thinking of Shangri La or The Compound, but they seem a bit cliché. Graceland is already taken. I'm fond of Halls and Chambers, that Metropolis and Gotham stuff. If my apartment were underground this would be easier. I've got it. From now on my apartment shall be referred to as The Embassy of Cool and I'll be your Ambassador of Gettin' It On.

Sports Car Revolution

SPEED 7:00 a.m. If you remember a couple months back I told you the door alarm in my truck wouldn't stop ringing even if both doors were shut and secured. To my disappointment, the problem hasn't fixed itself, but instead my vehicle has developed another problem. My truck now delights in ringing its bell the whole time I drive AND shocking me whenever I touch something in the interior made of metal. If you see a blue Ford pickup truck on the 805 and there's a big tattooed guy inside buzzing around with his hair standing on end and yelling, "Yeeggyeeyeeaah!" be sure to wave hello.

Sunday, March 26

Liberty's Kids

WB 10:00 a.m. A month ago I purchased a mask and a ladder. At night I walk through the alleys until I find a suitable house, and I climb to its roof. I stand on the peak of the gable, disguised, and I wait for the call to enforce justice.

Monday, March 27

Everwood

WB 8:00 p.m. Each morning, I wake up, take my magic marker, and draw a smiley face on "he who rises before me." I've adopted him as my son, and I've named him Thomas.

Tuesday, March 28

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

USA 8:00 p.m. If you add "and Smells Like Sour Milk" to the title, you've got the story of my life.

Wednesday, March 29

Rebuilt: The Human Body Shop

DHC 8:00 p.m. There's been a breakthrough in technology. Scientists have synthesized a bionic human muscle, 100 times stronger than natural muscle. This means that people who are bound to a wheelchair may someday walk. But the exciting news is that I'm one step closer to getting a bionic monkey tail I can use to open bottles of beer. With a robotic tail I could rule this world in a sweaty iron grip.

Thursday, March 30

MTV's The Shop

MTV 8:00 p.m. I've recently gone through my CD collection from when I was a teenager. One group in particular stands out: Def Leppard. I like their music, especially the power ballads, but on the later albums their drumming seems a bit weak.

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