Ask Phil

Dear Phil The Security Guard: Why do you have so many misspelled words on your web site? I would have thought a guy who can spell 'discombobulated' could spell anything. Although I love your web site!
Mary "smarty-pants" Alice

Dear Pants: I looked up the word 'discombobulated' in the discomdictionary, that is why that word is spelled right. But I make a firm policy to only look up one word per writing project to reduce the chances of the ever dreaded paper cut. I've heard of gangs of nerds brandishing note pads in reckless disregard for other people's epidermal! And I shan't not, I repeat, shan't not, I repeat, shan't not, I repeat, shan't not discombobulate an innocent bystander's epidermal! If the bystander is not so innocent, look out! I'm coming through with a piece of paper!

Beware of the revenge of the trees,

Dear Phil The Security Guard: I was wondering if you would speak to my college math class I'm teaching at Purdue this fall. I would love to have a real security guard talk to my class about math safety. Of course, we couldn't pay you anything.
Yours in Math,
Tim Delworth.

Dear Of Course We Couldn't Pay You Anything! That hurts. But not nearly as much as getting my nose slammed in a car door. After the seventy-forth time that happened I quit sniffing carpet altogether. Even though math is less my strong-suit and more my leisure suit, I know deep down inside there is safety in numbers. (Something you probably never thought of.) However, I am proud to say I excel at cutting banana cream pie into quaters, or 1/4th parts, or one for you and three for me.

Be Safe x 2,
Phil (I'm a four letter word.)

Dear Phil the Security Guard: I have a baking problem and could think of no one to turn to but you. When I take my bread out of the oven, it won't cool down fast enough. What do you advise?

Dear What Do You Advise: The problem you pose has a simple solution that always works for me. Just take whatever recipe you use and add three tablespoons of Freon. You'll find not only does your bread cool faster, but you'll also deplete the ozone layer, eventually enabling you to bake without the added inconvenience of an oven.

Bon Appetit,

Dear Phil the Security Guard: My mom always finds out when I do bad things. She says the little birdy told her. Can little birdies tell?

Dear Can Little Birdies Tell: Absolutely not. That's absurd. Goldfish can though. Wise up kid, your mom's just throwing you off the truck. Pumpkin and I had a roommate once, I called him Fishy. Fishy grew up in a pond near Three-Mile Island. A two pound gold fish. Fishy could do anything humans could do, except make bread. It was hard for him to knead. Many a night we used to sit around together, smoke fine Cuban cigars and discuss the illustrious career of Orson Welles. (Fishy blew great smoke rings.) Then one day I came home from work early. As I was coming through the door I heard some flopping and running around and then a little "plunk"-like splash. I came in and noticed Pumpkin sitting on the sofa all flushed and sweaty, "casually" reading a magazine. There was Fishy in his bowl, all tired looking, acting like he was looking for some algae to nibble at. (I happen to know he hated the stuff.) Water stains were on the carpet and one of the sofa cushions was on backwards. Something smelled fishy. Pumpkin said, "Honey, I didn't expect you so early. I was just sitting here reading a magazine." "Yeah," I said, "Is that why you're holding the magazine upside down?" That night we had sushi.

Never Trust The Gilled,

Dear Phil the Security Guard: My son is lazy. I love him but he is always sponging off my husband and me. What can we do?

Dear What Can We Do: One thing you can do is, every night, right when he's deep in rapid eye movement, burst into his room, throw him to the wall and while cuffing him, yell, "Freeze, this is the police! Nobody move!" Then go, "Oh, it's only you son, sorry." Or you could pretend you're a Pakistani couple, thereby insisting he's not your son and he should go away and find his real parents (unless you are Pakistani, then this could backfire). Or you can sing at the top of your lungs endlessly, "Rollin', rollin', rollin', rawhide!" until he just can't take it anymore and leaves. Or you can clean around him a lot, inadvertently splashing solvents on him and poking him in the eye with a broom handle. People hate that and after a while have a tendency to leave. Or, when he is gone one day, you and your husband should shave off all the hair on your bodies, heads, eyebrows, arms, everything. When your kid comes back and asks what happened, casually mention something about "some Government people came by and they were so nice we let them store some nuclear waste in your room." Or, one day when he comes home, have a two-hundred gallon iron tub in the living room filled with solidified carbon dioxide, more commonly known as dry ice. Then stare at him with a blank expression and say over and over, "We love you so much, we want you to be preserved."

Making His Own Way,

Dear Phil the Security Guard: How did you meet your girl, Pumpkin?

Dear How Did You Meet Your Girl, Pumpkin: I was on duty at the mall, standing out in front of The Gap, making sure everything was under control, when I was approached by Pumpkin and two of her girlfriends. It was the first time I'd ever seen her. She was like an angel. I'll never forget those first words, "Excuse me Sir, could you please tell me how to get to Pretty 'N Plump?" I went to clear my throat before I spoke, as some men do, a little hacking kind of throat clear, when to my surprise a large phlegm globule shot from my mouth. It flew out in an arching trajectory, looping end over end, heading right for Pumpkin! It was all in slow motion to me. I could see the horror in her eyes as she watched that mucus membrane twirl end over end as it started its decent. Pumpkin tried to step back, and yelled, "No!" But it was too late. The thing landed right on her lapel like some kind of a space broach. She looked down and started screaming, "Get it off me! Get it off me!" Her whole left side seemed paralyzed as she spun around and around looking at it like a mad dog chasing its tail. Her friends started pointing and screaming, "He looged on her! He looged on her!" Well, I nonchalantly walked up and pulled it off of her, then wiped it on some little kid's head. It was at that moment we knew we had to have each other.


Dear Phil the Security Guard: I'm a small businessman, just a regular guy running a filling station trying to make a little money to retire on. These young kids today come by when the shop is closed and paint on the walls and mess the place up. Don't they have any respect for anything?

Dear Don't They Have Any Respect for Anything: I'm working security at a pool hall and all the sudden these bikers come strutting in. I smell trouble. They got all the biker gear on; the tight stretch shorts, the little colorful styrofoam helmets. But we don't allow bicycles in the pool hall, I don't care if they are made of ultra-lightweight titanium and cost fifteen-hundred dollars each. I mean, for fifteen-hundred bucks you can save yourself a lot of peddling your butt off and buy a five year Greyhound bus pass to anywhere. But they made one big mistake before laying down their money; they didn't consult Phil the Security Guard. Now every time they see a bus drive by I'm sure they realize what they've done and cry like little babies. Hey, live and learn. But at this moment I had a problem to solve and it was time to confront the leader. I could tell who the leader was, he was the guy with the biggest water bottle.
"Pardon me, my sweaty, skinny, peddling friend that is not a smart shopper," I said. "Bicycles are not allowed in the facilities."
"Well, my plump, uniform-wearing, flashlight-toting security guard friend without a life," he responded. "I am an inventor of a new sport, and I would like to try it here for the first time ever. It's called bicycle pool."
The idea was to peddle around the pool table with a cue stick in hand, never touching their feet to the ground or touching the table, just balancing on the bike like they do at stoplights, and make shots. I played them three games and they didn't sink a ball.
The biker gang peddled out at sunset with their heads hung low. I think they learned a valuable lesson that day; if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Smell Your Fingers,

Dear Phil the Security Guard: I love your column. But you never reveal much about yourself. I am so curious to know, what is the real Phil the Security Guard like?

Dear What Is the Real Phil the Security Guard Like: I was raised by a pack of wild cows. There I was, twenty-two years old, lost in a field next to the freeway when Elsie and her clan took me in and treated me as one of their own. I never starved for love, warmth, or dairy. They taught me the way of the cow, how to graze, sleep, have a bowel movement while standing. It's tougher than the white man thinks. They gave me a name. They called me "Moo."
After some time I became a trusted member of the pack. They let me into the Inner Sanctum. The Inner Cow Sanctum. It was there I learned that cows control the world. But they do it in such an unassuming way that there is absolutely no proof that they are doing it. That's the beauty of it. No doubt that's where the popular phrase came from, "You're as sneaky as a cow."


Dear Phil the Security Guard: This may seem to be a silly question, but can you clear up this controversy once and for all? Is seven cans of cat food considered seven different items in the express checkout lane?

Dear Express Checkout Lane: Yes and no. If you have different flavors of cat food, say three cans of chicken livers and four cans of tuna, that would be considered two items in the checkout lane. However, if all seven cans are chicken livers, then they would be considered one item. Unless the chicken livers in one can vary greatly from the chicken livers in the other. Let's say chickens in one coop had drinking problems, chugging beer and Jim Beam, smoking cigars, gambling, and engaging in unsafe sex. Then, let's say, in the next coop you had more civilized chickens, courteous, into good clean fun, hobbies like Scrabble, building ships in bottles, watching public television, starting a grass roots movement to heighten awareness about the depletion of the ozone layer, and so forth. Even though it's the same size can and label, their livers would be so much different than the switchblade-packing hooligan chicken livers, that it would be considered a different item.

Security Is What Made This Country Great,

Dear Phil the Security Guard: My hamster is my best friend because I don't have many friends. Is that weird to have a small animal as a friend?

Dear Is It Weird: For a long time my best friend was Jocko the Circus Ape. Jocko ran away (or loped away) from the circus and I picked him up hitchhiking. He left the circus because he felt they treated him like an ape. When I pointed out he was, in fact, an ape, I hurt his feelings. So from then on I treated him like a human who is big, hairy, stupid and potentially very dangerous. (Not unlike a few security guards I've worked with.)
I picked Jocko up that day because no one else would give him a ride. Well, he really didn't have good hitchhiking skills. Instead of sticking out his thumb, he would beat his chest, then charge the cars, trying to protect his territory. That put people off.
He enjoyed living peacefully in the back of my van, not having people gawk at him like at the circus. He came in handy a few times, too, like when a big mean guy cut me off then flipped me the birdy. He then stopped in front of me and got out of his car to beat me up. I just opened my van door, pointed at the man and said, "Jocko, bananas in his pockets! Go get the bananas!"
Jocko stripped the big guy naked looking for bananas, even gave him a thorough cavity search. He didn't find any bananas but he did notice a small lump on the man's prostate as well as a couple of polyps in his colon. Well, thanks to Jocko, the man went in immediately for medical attention, catching the problems early and saving his life.
Jocko then came out of his ennui, realizing his purpose here on earth. He flew to the Caribbean Islands and got a medical degree. (It took him a few years longer than usual.) He now works at an HMO in California.

Bend Over And Say "Ahhhh!"

Dear Phil the Security Guard: I am a chairperson for the National Water Sports Association. I am concerned about safety. The speed and complexity of the water-ski and motorboat competitions have me worried.

Dear Have Me Worried: I remember when I was doing underwater security at the bottom of the ocean. Okay, it was a wading pool, three feet by three feet and about six inches deep. But to an ant it's an ocean, and I always make an effort to see things through the eyes of ants.
So, I'm in full uniform, standing in the middle of this wading pool like the Jolly Green Giant. I was assuming lifeguard duties. The only thing was that none of the little kids wanted to go swimming, because I think they were afraid. As one of the mothers said, "You're scaring them, standing there like that! Don't you have to go eat a donut or something?"
Well, little did she know I had several donuts on me at that moment, ready for personal consumption whenever the mood struck. Before wading pool duty, I cleverly slipped six donuts into my socks, three donuts into each sock or two into each sock if you have three legs.
Now, I had a situation on my hands: a hostile lady, frightened children, and sock donuts that where quickly becoming soggy. Without hesitation, I hesitated. Then I said, "Of course, Ms. If it is better for the good citizens of this great land that I not stand in the wading pool, then I shan't not." At that I stepped out. She saw the bulging at my ankles and said, "Oh, my! I'm so sorry, sir. You where obviously standing there to cool off your swollen ankles. My gosh, I'm sorry. Do you have a circulation problem?"
"Well, ma'am," I replied, "It shan't be nothing that a couple of donuts shan't cure."
And with great dignity I strided away into the sunset, except the sunset wasn't for six hours yet, but still.

Got Any Clothespins?

Dear Phil the Security Guard: I'm looking for something I can be good at. I think that'll make me feel better about myself. Do you excel at anything?

Dear Do You Excel at Anything: I excelled at wood-shop. I took wood-shop in high-school, and in just seven short years I made a block of wood. The wood-shop teacher, Mr. Wilson, was a bald, serious guy. Year after year he would ask me how my block of wood was coming, and year after year I would reply, just like Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel replied to Pope Sixtus IV, "It will be done when it is done! Now can I have a hall pass to go to the bathroom?"
And Mr. Wilson would always respond, "No, you may not have a hall pass. There are bathrooms in the back of the wood-shop. No need to go down the hall."
To which I would respond, "Are you absolutely certain?"
And he would say, "Yes, I'm sure. You have been using them for over six years now. Don't you remember?"
And I would say, "Ah, yes, of course, my fine man. It's just that I've been so consumed with the making of my block of wood, you see."
To which he would say, "But of course, the block of wood."
"Yes, Yes," I would say, "A wooden square made out of wood. Or, if you wish, a wood block."
"I see, "he would respond. "Yes. Marvelous! Carry on." And he would walk away.

Be Safe,

Dear Phil the Security Guard: My mom gets mad at me because I'm always clowning around with my friends. What should I do?

Dear Always Clowning Around: Me and my security guard chums always clown around. I remember one time I was making the rounds with Clovis in a dark parking structure and suddenly I pulled out my flashlight and said, "My Gosh! What's that?" And Clovis said, "What's what?" And I said, "I'm only clowning around." And we laughed, and we laughed, and we laughed, until Clovis clutched his chest and fell over dead of a heart attack. I knelt down next to him, crying, devastated. He owed me five bucks. Plus he was my best friend. I cradled his head in my arms, weeping, and he opened his eyes and said, "I'm only clowning!" And we laughed, and we laughed, and we laughed. But then I felt so angry at Clovis for that stunt that I pulled a .38-caliber revolver from my ankle holster and shot him five times at close range in his soft belly. Clovis fell down screaming, then he realized it was only a toy cap gun. And we laughed, and we laughed, and we laughed! Then he realized how angry he was at me for pretending to shoot him five times in his soft belly, so he started choking me and I in turn started choking him. We are about the same size and have equivalent lung capacity, so we both passed out at the same time from lack of oxygen. Then we came to at the same time and continued choking each other. Then we passed out again at the same time. We did this over and over again for about four hours and we were starting to get hungry, so we quit doing it and went and got some donuts and we laughed, and we laughed, and we laughed.

The Merry Prankster,

Dear Phil the Security Guard: I just hate school and I don't feel I fit in. What about you?

Dear What About You: Well, I took the G.E.D. test. The high school equivalency test. Forty-five minutes in a room with a number two pencil and, bingo! a General Education Degree. I'm certified as generally educated, having been able to demonstrate a superficial knowledge in several subjects. In fact, my twenty year G.E.D.reunion is coming up. It'll be great to hang out with my graduating class, talk about the good old day, spending those forty-five long minutes together in a room quietly checking boxes. You can really get close to people in those situations. I am intimately familiar with the back of someone's head. Oh, I remember the old day, like about twenty minutes into our test some guy's pencil lead broke. It just kind of gave a little "snap." Barely perceptible. I looked over at him across the room, and he happened to glance up at me, and we kind of gave each other a little shrug, then we went back to our tests. It's those experiences that really shape a person. Now, whenever I hear a pencil lead snap, I shrug.
Yeah, I can't wait to attend our twenty year reunion. I got to be punctual because it only lasts ninety seconds. I'll be looking forward to seeing the back of that person's head, talking about the old shrug-a-roo. Yeah, those were the good old day.

Keep Your Nose To The Grindstone
(At least until your face is flat),

Dear Phil the Security Guard: I'd like to be a part of a cause, maybe even go to the White House and demonstrate against something. Do you think it is wrong to actively look for something to demonstrate against, or should it just come out of a spontaneous realization that something simply needs to be demonstrated against?

Dear I'd Like To Be a part Of A Cause: When demonstrating at the White House, please be courteous. Secret Service agents are everywhere. I remember one time I was assigned undercover security at the White House. I was disguised as a gardener. All the others on duty were disguised as gardeners, too. During the morning briefing no one wanted to break cover, so we just sat around and acted like gardeners on a lunch break. We would smile and nod to each other and say things like, "sure is a hot day to be pulling weeds." Soon a certain code developed. Phrases were batted back and forth like, "I think there is a worm in the tomato." And, "be careful not to step on the snails." At one point one of the so called "gardeners" leaned forward and said, "The hawk flies low under the midnight moon." It just sends shivers up your spine. I hope this has cleared a few things up for you. Good luck.

Green Thumb Phil