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When you wake up in the morning, the alarm is worse than a nightmare. The sound of it sends waves of nausea through your body. That's how it works, on the principle that you're sickened into waking up. In the shower, your skin reddens under the searing water, and your arm props you up against the slick cold tile of the wall. A couple coughs to get the lungs working again and you're out.

It isn't until you're sitting on the bed with your grubby jeans on and you look down to put your socks on your feet that you really feel dread. Dread for a day spent making someone else rich while your body gets slowly bashed and battered into a rounded, bruised stump of a thing. Your feet are halfway there. Dread feels like pinched shoulders and a sore back and the red lines that your boots cut into you.

When the boots go on, you know the next time you take them off is going to be 13 and something hours later. They're going to be filled with little pebbles and your socks are going to be crusted with dust and hard with the pasty sweat, and when you get them off it's going to feel like God himself removed them.

But, that's 13 hours from now. The next 12 hours are going to be spent pulling strands of wire or helping the guys unload those sacks of concrete. If you want that money, if you want to drink beer with your friends all weekend and take a girl to dinner Saturday night, then you better hump that load of pipe up those stairs.

When you're on 12-hour days, you better have a good girlfriend. One that'll come over and cook you something and maybe even start a load of laundry for you. Because when you're on twelves, the only thing you want to do when you get home is eat some lasagna and crack the top of a couple cans and sit and watch TV until you're tired enough, until you're neck is loose enough to let your head slip down and doze off with the news on the tube.

And the next morning you'll get back in the truck and drive down the alley past the Chinese ladies in the donut shop and the tranny hooker in front of the Laundromat, and you'll get a greasy egg sandwich and coffee from the fast-food drive thru, and you'll get to the jobsite and do it until you go back home to watch TV and get up in the morning to shower.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, May 11

Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island

CBS 8:00 p.m. If I were on this season of Survivor, I'd try to get put out on the Exile Island every once in a while just so I could poop in private.

Twister Chasers

NGC 8:00 p.m. This is probably just idiots and storms, but it sounds dirty, doesn't it? Twisters and chasers sounds like there are leopard print undies, scented oils, and highball glasses involved. Rawr!

Friday, May 12

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)

FOX 8:00 p.m. I once ate a donut that I'd found on the side of the road. That night I had a fever, headache, and a terrible case of the scoots. I think I'd rather relive my roadside donut experience than watch Legally Blonde 2.

Saturday, May 13

Far and Away (1992)

USA 11:00 a.m. Mass production of the toothbrush didn't start until 1855, and the act of brushing one's teeth everyday wasn't common until World War II. Now that you know this, you'll never be able to watch a kissing scene in a period movie again.

What's UP Thailand

AZNTV 8:00 p.m. One night in Bangkok, I was accosted by a deaf hooker. She followed me around the bar, writing dirty messages and drawing dirty pictures on a tablet of paper. I mouthed the words, "N O. I ' M S U R E Y O U ' R E A V E R Y N I C E G I R L A N D A L L, B U T..." I finally gave up and walked out because I'm sure she couldn't understand me. While I was trying to explain to her that I wasn't going to pay for her services that night, she stood there making lewd hand gestures, pointing to me, and winking.

Sunday, May 14

PRIDE Fighting Championships

FOX Sports 9:00 p.m.

VS.

Tan Towels

HSN 9:00 p.m. Hmmm...Pride Fighting on FOX Sports or Tan Towels on the Home Shopping Network. PRIDE Fighting or Tan Towels. I can't decide. I'll have to tape one and watch it later.

Monday, May 15

Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball

ABC 8:00 p.m. Too...many...jokes. Can't...think...clearly.

Tuesday, May 16

Wild Things

PBS 9:00 p.m. Just so you know, this is not Neve Campbell and Denise Richards make-out wet and naked in a pool Wild Things . This is kitties and hawks and ground squirrels Wild Things . I don't want you to experience the same disappointment that I did.

Wednesday, May 17

Lost

ABC 9:00 p.m. So there are people stuck on this island. There was a paramilitary presence because they built a bachelor pad under the ground with an alarm system thing. There are "other" people on the island. There are balloons crash-landing, and polar bears have been introduced into the environment as a scientific experiment. This island is busier than Oahu. There are more comings and goings and people and things all over this crappy little rock, but somehow a rescue operation hasn't been attempted. Some nights I stand in front of my TV with the blood of rage hot in my neck and my fingers curled up and the only thing I can do is yell, "GAH! GAH! GYAH!" at this stupid show.

Thursday, May 18

Conjoined Twins: Erin and Jade

DHC 9:00 p.m. All right, whoever made those creepy-ass billboards with the girl who has no eyes and two ears in the front of her face, you get your ass up on that ladder and take those down. You owe us all an apology for having to look at those damn things, and whatever it is you're selling you can just keep it because blech! Blech!

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