The Dawson Postulate

Theorem: The odds of you encountering any given person -most notably when walking around a corner, passing through a doorway, etc. – are in direct correlation with the amount of shit you are talking about them.

Dawson postulate

As you can see illustrated in Fig. 1, we can extrapolate that as the amount of shit-talking approaches its upper limit, the probability of encounter approaches one.

In my studies, I have found the Dawson postulate most often exemplified on cross-country track team work out runs.

The principle itself is named for Max Dawson – a snarky brown-noser who was often an object of ridicule for teammates. At 18, he was still a tattle-tail.

My teammates and I used to go on what we called, “Grievance Runs.” They’re about as cathartic as they sound. One person would simply state, “I have a grievance.” Once we were sure no one else was in ear-shot, someone else in the group would reply, “We are prepared to hear your grievance.”

Grievances could be something as vague as people who wear socks with sandals, or as oddly specific as people who wear long skirts but pull them up higher to make them more revealing. They can also be about a specific person. A large chunk of our grievances tended to center on the women’s track team. That was pretty much our only dating pool, since we spent most of our free time at practice.

The course we ran on involved many intersecting trails; we often turned a bend or crested a hill, only to find ourselves face-to-face with the subject of our grievance. And no matter who you were complaining about, rest assured if you ran into Max, he would run and tell. After more than a few laughably embarassing mishaps, we started to get careful.

As obnoxious as Max was, he taught an excellent lesson early on in my life, before it really mattered. When on the road, you never out-drive your headlights; when talking shit, never out-gossip your line of sight. Understanding that can be the key to saving friendships, marriages, and even careers.


Angry Food Shopping

I practically break down the sliding automatic doors with my shopping cart – they’re too slow, and I’m hungry. I fly past the display at the store entrance, and look at some of the items for sale. Cookies, cereal boxes, random crap – probably all marked up to shit. I glance over at a box of knock-off lucky charms on the edge of the shelf. $6.75? For that?

Pulling the cart hard to the right, I head over to the produce section. I grab two bags of buy-one-get-one-free spinach leaves, and head over to the fruit. I rifle through the boxes of neatly stacked strawberries.

What am I working with here? Squished, gross, crushed, moldy. The fuck are they playing at? Do they expect me to just blindly through all this in my basket like a fucking sheep? Fuck this, I’m getting clementines.

Next stop, meat section. Bacon? Boom. In the cart. Chicken? Done. Ground beef? Of course. I make three violent slash marks through the items on my list, almost breaking my pencil.

I drop a half gallon of milk and a bottle of orange juice in the cart too. I cut left into the coffee aisle and push a whole shit ton of k-cups into my basket. Just in case.

On my way back around to the front of the store I stop in the baked good section to test my willpower. I never buy any of the delicious cookies, donuts, or cakes they have on display, no matter how good they smell. I like to walk past all the temptation and prove to myself that I won’t cave.

You are strong, not some weak shopper who just shovels everything they see into their cart. You cannot tempt me, baked goods aisle. There isn’t – wait, French toast muffins? That can’t be a thing. Well, it’s a breakfast food, right? No harm in trying.

Before I have time to rethink, I begrudgingly put them on top of my cart.

Despite my transgression in the pastry aisle, I’m making excellent time. Five minutes to get home, ten to pre-heat the oven, I could have some delicious fucking chicken-bacon quesadillas in my stomach in like, half an hour tops. The only thing that could stop me now is  – FUCK. A slow lady at the checkout line. And there’s only one lane open. Do they think only two people in the whole fucking city could ever possibly want to get groceries at the same time? IDIOTS.

“No,” The woman in front of me tells the cashier, “I need you to ring up these with my credit card. Then pay for the rest in like, a different order, with cash.” Defiantly, the customer snaps one of the conveyor-belt dividers right in the middle of her own assortment of food. She turns to me and glares, daring me to start taking any of my own items out of the cart.

I feel a burst of adrenaline, and wonder how hard I would have to push the cart to knock her out of the way. Realizing I’m still probably very amped up from my run, I think better of it. After what felt like an hour it was finally my turn.

“Here’s my rewards card, my credit card. Plastic bags are fine. Not debit, no I don’t need my receipt.” I power my way through the last human interaction between me, and dinner.

On my walk back to the parking lot, the endorphin rush starts to fade. When I look down into my car to load up the trunk, I notice I may have purchased a bit more than I intended.

I didn’t remember getting two extra packages of bacon, instant chicken tenders, a two pound bag of sour patch kids, a carton of yogurt covered raisins, brownie mix, and a few crunch bars for good measure. Huh. So much for impulse control.

Never shop hungry.



“It’s just me,” Bobby whispers, “nobody else but me.” He looks down at the street forty stories below. The Husks – those who had been overcome by the mind-melting radiation from last summer’s solar flare – stared dumbly up at him. Their expressionless, dead eyes were wide as always.


They were harmless, not like the cliché brain-hungry TV/movie monstrosities. These things just shuffled around aimlessly, bumping into one another.

Bobby almost wished they were dangerous. The challenge of survival would have at least taken his mind off the soul crushing loneliness. Ever since he climbed out of the MRI tube last summer, which he’d guessed shielded him from the jolt, he hadn’t spoken to anyone.

He spent the last eight months roaming the country, looking for anyone who still had their wits. Bobby couldn’t live alone. He had almost forgotten the sound of his friends’ voices.

The Husks were always silent. They didn’t moan or growl; the only sound they made what when they bumped into one another, or knocked something over.

“I can’t do this anymore,” Bobby says to an empty world. He simply steps out the open window.

He’s only in free-fall for a split second, plummeting toward the pavement below, before he hears something: a phone ringing. By the sound of it, it’s coming from one of the lower floors in the building.

Bobby crashes onto the hood of a rusted Volkswagen, parked curbside. The impact shatters every bone in his body, but doesn’t kill him right away. Even over the sound of the car alarm, he can pick out the distant ringing. In the lonely reaches of his mind, Bobby gets the feeling that this isn’t a robo-call. Someone real is on the other end of that line.

Somewhere in the world, there was a person as desperate as he was, maybe reaching out one last time in a desperate attempt to make contact with family or a friend – perhaps at an old phone number. As a warm darkness sweeps over him, he has a final thought.

I’m not the last person, Bobby thinks. They are.


The Tree that Decided

They came to the forest, checked another man’s snares,

And then took what they found though it clear was not theirs,

Burned bark from a tree, and their fire it flared,

They’d woken the tree – and its cold judging stare.

The tree that decided the fate of the lot,

It watched and it judged them from its lonely spot,

It looked from the eye in its gnarled old knot,

And it watched and decided ‘til that tree did rot.

So they cooked up the meat that they‘d gone off and stole,

Then got out their tents, and they pitched them with poles.

Their fire was dying: only left was spent coal;

So they doused it with water, and went to bed cold.

The tree that decided the fate of the lot,

It watched and it judged them from its lonely spot,

It looked from the eye in its gnarled old knot,

And it watched and decided ‘til that tree did rot.

The wild wind woke them in a late night storm gale,

The ashes were flying, and the tree branches flailed,

In horror and anger the trespassers wailed.

The tree that decided, break them and prevail!

The tree that decided the fate of the lot,

It watched and it judged them from its lonely spot,

It looked from the eye in its gnarled old knot,

And it watched and decided ‘til that tree did rot.

Into the forest, came a man with an axe,

And toppled the thing in a single swift act.

Broke straight through bark – left the eye un-intact;

The tree that decided, dragged away to a stack.

Now the tree that decided the fate of the lot,

Was ripped from the earth of its lonely old spot.

Punished justly for doing what it knew it should not;

It had watched and decided until it did rot.

Deceivers not punished by what’s brought to a mill,

In life they can steal, and pilfer their fill,

The trees can’t affect them, stuck bound in the till,

But they would if they could, as the most of us will.

The tree that decided the fate of the lot,

It watched and it judged them from its lonely spot,

It looked from the eye in its gnarled old knot,

T’was punished far more severely than those who did not.


Just One Second

What Can Happen in a Second –

John fumbles for his car keys to lock the door. His arms are over-burdened with grocery bags; he’s wrapped the plastic loops around his wrists, so he can bring everything inside the apartment in a single trip.

As he digs deeper into his pocket, trying to grab his beeper, one bag slides down his arm and the plastic breaks. Of course it’s the one packed with two cartons of eggs. The weak styrofoam crumbles, and the shells shatter.

John leaps backward to avoid getting the splattering goop on the hem of his work pants. As he jumps, he stumbles backward and slams into the bumper of his sedan. It’s not in park.

As it rolls away from him and into the front fender of the next car over, John considers how much time he would have saved, had he just made the second trip.


Reading the Signs

I’m shit at dating, but sometimes I can convince someone to get dinner with me. Then what? Let me set the scene for you:


HER, an attractive twenty-something, who loves country music, rides the BUS beside CLUELESS IDIOT, nervous.


This is my stop. Thanks for taking me out tonight.


I can walk you back if you like.


Are you kidding? It’s all the way up all those stairs; it’d be silly to make you walk up and down like that.


All right, well I had a lot of fun. Want to do this again sometime?


Oh absolutely we will. I promise.


There is probably some obvious sign there, which I’m just too thick to see. Still hoping for a follow up date though, assuming it even was a date. As I write this I realize that it probably was one, but that the semantics shouldn’t matter. All the same, I get to thinking: are there any dead giveaways that you are on a date, not just out as friends?

I’m sure in some corner of the Internet, someone has the answer, and I’m determined to find it. Turns out there are plenty of people blogging about the subject – mostly women writing for other women, like the confusion is somehow my fault. The general consensus is if you offer to pay for dinner, and you smell nice, you’re on a date. It’s all very scientific.

I decide that this is important enough to bother my friends with. Their responses vary. Some say one-on-one time with Her is automatically a date. Others say it’s only a date if I kiss Her.

Instead of clearing things up, I find I may have committed a major breach of protocol by not going for the goodnight kiss. Never the less, one friend actually has detailed instructions for people like me:

  1. Establish eye contact
  2. Move closer
  3. Tilt head and close eyes
  4. Stop and await response

I’m told the last step is the most important: you can’t have a good kiss without reciprocity.

“If you’re gonna make a move, you go 90% and make her go the other 10 if you’re gonna kiss her,” my helpful friend explains, “then you know she’s into you.” This is the best advice I’ve been given on the subject.

Another buddy tells me to track down the lobster from the little mermaid – the one that sings Lalalala, go on and kiss the girl – maybe it can give me the encouragement I needed. We’re in BJ’s when he tells me this, so naturally we stop by the live seafood tank to see if they sell crustaceans that could pose as my wingman. It seemed like a more plausible idea while I was drunk.

It isn’t until I remember that lobsters don’t really talk that it hits me: here I am, thinking about whether I should’ve kissed Her, while I’m not even entirely sure if it was a date. But instead of shrugging it off like a normal human being, I’m sobering up in a chain retailer trying to pick out an anthropomorphic sea creature who can do the legwork for me. Not only am I definitely overthinking it, but also I’m probably the reason that women write these, “Am I on a date?” articles. My God, I am the problem.


A Good Epitaph

One of my high school friends always said she wanted her headstone to read, “Here lies Kelly – a good weirdo.” Mine could just say, “That’s all he wrote.”

I know it’s a play on the original expression, but I like how final it is. And it’s one semi-colon away from being the perfect description of my life. “That’s all; he wrote.” That pretty much sums up how I’ve spent my days here.

My full time job centers around fast paced, fact-centered writing. When I come home, I keep writing. For me it’s how I make my living, hone my creativity, but above all vent my frustration.

When I tell my story, I find it refreshingly human to be direct. This isn’t the picturesque profile you may be accustomed to scrolling through on social media, edited to create the illusion of perfection.

This is where I tell my story in naked honesty, one anecdote at a time.

But don’t think for a moment, reader, that this place will be filled with self pitying ramblings – I’m here to entertain, and have fun.