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"So, what do you think?" That's my dad's standard phrase. The phrase he speaks when he doesn't have anything else to say. When silence pulls the room into its vacuum, "So, what do you think?" Half the time he asks that question I'm not thinking of anything worth talking about. When he asks, "So, what do you think?" I can't say, "Mustard!"

The other half of the time when he asks that question I'm thinking about sleazy sex stuff that I'm not going to talk to him about. "So, what do you think?"

Oh, man. You sure as hell don't want to know.

My stock phrase for popping uncomfortable silence is, "What's up?" Another answerless inquiry. If my dad and I stand out in the driveway and lean against the bed of his pickup and drink beer until the sun goes down there are about three instances of "So, what do you think?" and, "What's up?"

At first we start out badmouthing our bosses. "Damn Randy. He was in the shop yelling at everyone today. Oh, he was on a tear. He's so dumb. He painted himself into a corner a couple times. He's ranting and raving and don't know what to say next so he just contradicts himself. Oh, it was all I could do to not laugh."

Light a cigarette and blow the smoke out across the pickup bed and watch it disperse into the oven air of a California summer evening.

So, what do you think?

After we've lambasted our employers we move on to what we would do if we were rich. "Man. If my numbers come up tonight I'm going to build a two-story garage that holds 20 cars and a fleet of motorcycles. Then I'm going to collect all the cars I used to own that your mother wrecked."

Swig thin pale beer from a blue and chrome can.

What's up?

When the orange sun is down and the sky moves from pink to gray and the mosquitoes start their attack, we kick our boots against the concrete and ease our sore backs and legs and shoulders inside the house. And we sit in recliners and let the TV scare away the silence.

What I will and won't watch this week

Thursday, August 11 The X-Files TNT 2:00 a.m. Last Thursday. In the morning, I woke up and my hands were webbed. Like a duck's feet, only the skin was thick and marbled with veins. When I clasped my hands together and wrung my fists, my fingers poked through and the webbing came loose. The thin veins, arteries, and capillaries opened and spilled droplets of purple and blue blood. The webbing wadded up in my hands. The blood made the flesh sticky and I balled my new extraneous skin up like masking tape. When I threw it in the trash it stuck to the inside of the can and slowly walked down into the container to sit at the bottom.

The O'Reilly Factor Fox News Channel 8:00 p.m. In French, the word for "shower" is "douche." If this were France you could translate what I scream at the television to mean, "bag of shower" when this show comes on.

Friday, August 12 Dr. Dolittle (1998) FAMILY (abc) 8:00 p.m. Has-been, thy name is Eddie Murphy. Gone are the red leather pants. Mr. Murphy, please get fitted for your unitard of failure.

Saturday, August 13 Gravity Games OLN 2:00 p.m. I've come up with a name for my bike. Since she's red and she moves like a salmon swimming upriver I call her Sofia. Sofia's a good name for a salmon bike.

Good Eats FOOD 5:00 p.m. In the sunlight of your kitchen countertop set some tomatoes. When they pass from orange to deep red, crack them from the vine and smell the small white spot where the tomato released. Cut your tomatoes in half and lay them on a sheet. Fry a little garlic and grate some cheese. Spread the mixture on top of your tomatoes. Oh, put the oven on about 375 and bake your tomatoes for however long it takes to sip a glass of iced tea and stare out a window, thinking of a love lost.

Sunday, August 14 Stargate SG-1 KUSI 7:00 p.m. Comic-Con was the World Series of witty T-shirt slogans. I passed a different jerk in an "Everyone is entitled to my opinion" top every 14 minutes. There was one "Beam me up, Scottie. There appears to be no intelligent life on this planet" and a couple "Endor is for Lovers" slogans emblazoned across people's chests. Some of them I thought were cute, but mostly I just wanted to kick the wearer in his Jango Fett.

Monday, August 15 Math Vantage ITVS 8:00 p.m. There's a rule in geometry that states, "All squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares." I try to find other rules to fit that template and with the help of some friends I now have two. Tony and I figured out that all hippies have long hair, but not all longhairs are hippies. From observing their neighbors in Normal Heights, Ed and Brianna have deduced that not all ten-speed-riders are tweakers, but all tweakers ride ten-speeds. Thanks, guys. Keep an eye out for new ones.

Tuesday, August 16 Jerry Springer WB 10:00 a.m. One of my goals is to see the Jerry Springer Show before it's cancelled. It's been on for 14 seasons. My opportunity to catch this wholly American cultural production is slipping away.

Wednesday, August 17 Mind of Mencia COMEDY 9:00 p.m. I tried to give Mind of Mencia the benefit of the doubt. When I tuned in, his monologue was about Hooked on Phonics. Do they even make Hooked on Phonics anymore? Someone tell his writers that we heard the "How-are-they-going-to-call-1-800-ABCDEFG-if-they-don't-know-how-to-read?" joke ten years ago and it sucked then.

Thursday, August 18 Bar Girls (1994) SHOW 12:45 a.m. Bingo! Woof!

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