Nocturnal Enlistment by Courtney Mehlhaff

I’m going to tell you a very short story about how I may be funnier asleep than awake.

I had a dream that I ran into someone I knew, and that person was wearing camouflage pants.

So I said, “What’s the matter? Feeling fatigued?”

I’ll be here in REM all week, ladies and gentlemen. Remember to tip your waitress.

Binary of the Beast by Courtney Mehlhaff

I have a complicated relationship with AI. On one hand, I really think we need to stop talking to these computer assistants, because all they’re doing is learning.

But on the other hand, there is no other hand, and we also need to stop giving them human characteristics, like faces and names. They don’t need to look or sound like people, and they sure as shit don’t need feelings.

When the story broke last year about certain devices randomly laughing in customers’ homes, I had Question #1: Why do computers need to laugh? All other questions — see Question #1!

I don’t own one of these ever-listening devices, but periodically I am forced to ask for directions from the oft-befuddled bundle of digital good intentions that lives in my phone.

Earlier this week, I needed to know how to find a business while driving, so I asked Siri. Unhelpful as always, she completely missed my clearly enunciated question, and her reply threw me for a loop.

She didn’t say, “I didn’t catch that,” or “I didn’t understand.” She asked, “Did you summon me?”

I was speechless for a moment before I responded, “YOU MEAN LIKE A DEMON?!”

No response. But all my crosses have turned upside down. I don’t think this is a good sign.

The Eagle is Stranded by Courtney Mehlhaff

I was driving through my old neighborhood the other day, and I had a flashback to one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen.

Six or seven years ago, I was sitting at a red light at around midnight, on my way home from seeing some friends. A car approached from the right, drove through the intersection, and then suddenly screeched to a halt.

The back door flew open, and out jumped someone in a full eagle suit. Like a school mascot costume, complete with an enormous feathery head.

The car then took off, and the bird ran wildly after it. What I remember most was that, seemingly in a panic, the person in the suit was flapping their wings. I’m not sure whether this was simply a normal human reaction to get someone’s attention, or if it showcased total commitment to the character.

In any case, the car eventually backed up, and the eagle flung itself inside, and this four-wheeled fever dream drove away into the night.

To this day, I don’t know what that was all about, but I do know it’s the only time I’ve laughed all the way back to my apartment, and then continued to laugh so hard I almost threw up in the parking lot.

Hiss Story by Courtney Mehlhaff

Once a month, I have a bunch of friends over to watch a bad movie together. We eat and drink and mercilessly mock a terrible action adventure film that we randomly draw out of a bowl.

Last month’s movie was 1997’s “Anaconda,” featuring a giant snake, an up-and-coming J. Lo, and an absolutely inexplicable performance by Jon Voight.

One of my friends returned home after this party and, as usual, had to answer her curious 6-year-old daughter’s questions about what she had seen. So they talked about snakes. They searched online to see what an anaconda looked like. My friend even mapped out the average length in their living room.

The little girl was fascinated. And confused, as it turns out. After all this research, she sat with a puzzled look on her face.

“But . . . how did they know her name?”

“What do you mean?” my friend replied.

“How did they know her name was Anna Conda?”

Movie magic, my darling. Movie magic.

Double Trouble by Courtney Mehlhaff

A few weeks ago at work, I was responsible for some unintentional innuendo.

A coworker was describing a misunderstanding about processes and deadlines between two other employees. She was somehow the middle man in this chain of emails, and she was wondering how much she should get involved in sorting it out.

I told her my initial instinct is always to stay out of these messes. But our coworker at the next desk pointed out that the two employees involved were notorious for being very finicky and demanding (read: pains in the ass), and advised her to step in to avoid larger problems down the line.

“In this case, that is true,” I said. “My strategy usually works because my clients aren’t this much trouble.”

Then I added, “I guess I’m just not used to dealing with two dicks at the same time.”

It took me just a moment to fully hear it, while everyone else burst out laughing.

“I mean . . . you know what I mean!” I backpedaled. But it was too late.

My male coworker shot me a mock stern look over the top of his glasses. “I’m calling HR.”

Perhaps he should.

Possible Side Effects by Courtney Mehlhaff

If you let me hang out with your children, I may inadvertently teach them things.

About a month ago, I went to a friend’s house for dinner. Afterward, we decided to watch a holiday movie, and we settled on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Now, her two boys, ages 11 and 9, had never seen it. But the younger one immediately recognized the thesis statement of the entire film by commenting after the first five minutes, “This dad is terrible.”

The humor is relatively mild, and the kids did okay with occasional profanity. It wasn’t until a dream sequence where Chevy Chase imagines a beautiful woman slowly beginning to remove her swimsuit that their reactions amped up.

Hoping to calm this sexy scene, I turned to the young gentlemen and said, “Guys! Relaaaax. It’s just a little side boob.”

And you know what? They quieted right down. Like that was a satisfactory explanation for what they were witnessing, and all they needed was a name for it.

Boys, that is side boob. Friends, I’m sorry I taught your kids about side boob.

GOP-ble Wobble by Courtney Mehlhaff

As we’ve finally reached the end of the holiday season, here’s a little story from Thanksgiving that I completely forgot about until now.

I traveled about four hours by car to visit my sister, who was having a large gathering on Thanksgiving Day. But the night before, the only people in the house were me, my parents, my sister, and her husband. Just as we were getting ready to dig into some pizza, my dad gathered us around him in the kitchen.

Please keep in mind that, years ago, he was quite conservative — he once said the following to me, without a hint of irony: “Cotonee, I hate to break this to you, but you’re what some would consider a liberal.” At the time, this was not meant as a compliment.

However, his very serious and heartfelt pre-pizza speech went like this:

“I just wanted to tell you all that I love you very much, and I pray for your health and happiness every night.”

OK, good start.

“And I want you to know that I’m thankful for each and every one of you.”

Very touching.

“But this year, even more than that, what I’m most thankful for is that the Democrats took back the fucking House.”

Couldn’t have said it better my liberal self.

Bed & Breakup by Courtney Mehlhaff

I logged on to a travel site the other day to leave a review for a hotel I’d stayed at on vacation. Imagine my delight at finding this rating from another reviewer:

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A couple thoughts.

First, I was not aware that it was standard practice for those in the hospitality industry to ask whether their guests happened to be in the process of committing adultery. I think that’s exactly why someone with infidelity on the brain (and elsewhere) would frequent such an establishment. So on that particular point, I feel this place should have rated much higher.

Second, as we wandered foreign streets packed with tourists from across globe, I actually did wonder this aloud to the friend I was traveling with — no kidding — “How many of these couples do you think are cheating right now?”

Little did I know that the very hotel where we were resting our weary sightseeing heads was such a hotbed (pun intended) of scandalous behavior! But now I will definitely return, since I know what kind of clientele they cater to.