Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Girl Who Tried To Kill Me

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Those pagans sure know how to party. It’s a time where women can show off their creative fashion sense, and where men can stare at them without any negative consequence. Women don’t just dress as teachers, nurses, and cops…they dress as slutty teachers, nurses and cops. It’s a great event that should be applauded and expanded in the future.

Now that Halloween is here, I want to share my scariest dating story of all time. But proceed with caution. This story is spooky. It’s creepy. It’s ghastly. And it’s all real.

The Girl Who Tried to Kill Me

October 31st, 2001
Los Angeles, CA

It was a chilly Halloween night in Hollywood. My friends and I ended up at a house party somewhere in the hills. We didn’t know a soul, but it didn’t matter. We consumed the candy corn and the alcohol, and stared at the scantily clad women. I struck out with Trinity from The Matrix, but it didn’t stop me from approaching other women dressed in leather. Maybe it was the sugar rush, the alcohol surge, or the sexy costumes, but I felt a rush of adrenalin and confidence. That’s when one young woman caught my eye and gave me a wry smile. She was dressed as a cat…always a hot costume for a woman. I normally don’t like cats, but dress a women like one, and wow!

I approached Cat Woman by the punch bowl. We both filled up our drinks and made small talk. She was definitely attractive, and seemed interested. The biggest con was that her English was, how-do-you-say, not so good. She had recently moved from Amsterdam, and was now living with her grandparents in the boondocks somewhere just outside of L.A. We didn’t have much in common either. But she was dressed as a cat and was really cute. So I got her number, and we set up a date.

A Few Nights Later

Cat Woman and I dined at The Cheesecake factory. At this point in my life, The Cheesecake Factory was one of my favorite date restaurants. The food was delicious and plentiful (that dark bread is amazing!), and they carried an array of fun drinks. Even if the date went bad, at least I was full, and the bill wasn’t too damaging.

On this night, I enjoyed the chicken picatta while I tried to engage in conversation with Cat Woman. The conversation was stilted, and she didn’t get my jokes, but she still looked pretty good and was pleasant enough. Despite the language challenge, there were still a good amount of flirtations—touching of the arm, eye contact, smiling—we spoke the language of love or at least the language of lust.

We drove to her house which was hidden somewhere in the valley. The neighborhood was dark and the houses seemed to be miles apart. We trekked down a dark, windy road and finally made it to her home. I expected to see a creepy old mansion, but instead it was a regular two story house. Everything appeared normal. There were no signs of red rum, or bleeding walls, but something felt a little strange. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was off.

We entered the house and there was grandma and grandpa watching TV. They were really old; probably in their 80’s. They followed Matlock which blasted from the television. They were so focused on the old fashioned TV set that they barely acknowledged my existence.

Cat Woman and I gave them a quick wave, b-lined to her bedroom, and began making out. It was hard to concentrate knowing her ancient grandparents were in the room next to us. I could hear them dissect the case with Matlock, and his voice echoed through the walls. I was distracted, and everything just felt wrong. I had to end our kissing session.

I apologized, but she understood. She had a better idea.

Cat Woman: My grandparents will be out of town next weekend. Do you want to come over? I’ll make you dinner and it will be just the two of us.


That Saturday Night

As I drove back to the outskirts of LA, I spoke to my buddy on my cell phone. He wanted more details, but I didn’t have much. I didn’t know Cat Woman’s last name. I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know what I was getting into. My friend joked that she could kill me off, and no one would ever know. I chuckled, and tried to respond, but my phone died. I no longer had reception.

As my car crawled up her long driveway, my friend’s warning crept into my head. But I dismissed it quickly. This wasn’t a scary story. There were no black cats. It wasn’t Friday the 13th. This wasn’t Basic Instinct. I was gonna be fine.

I approached the house, and knocked on the thick wooden door, but there was no response. I knocked again, and after a moment, Cat Woman answered the door.

She wore matching gray sweatpants and sweatshirt, and was covered in filth. Her hands were hidden behind yellow rubber gloves, and she wore no make up. It looked like I had interrupted her cleaning the entire house. She did not look good.

Me: I’m sorry. I must be early.

Cat Woman: No, you’re right on time.

I was confused, but I entered and had a seat in the dining room. I glanced around and observed all the basic elements needed for a haunted house…a grandfather clock, a stairwell leading to a dark basement, and the eerie sound of silence.

She handed me a CD which thankfully broke the silence. I slid it into my pocket looking forward to hearing the mix on the ride back home.

It was a nice gesture, but the silence returned. We sat for dinner, and I swallowed extra chewy chicken and undercooked vegetables. We tried to force conversation, but there was not much to say. I tried to rely on our bread and butter, flirting, but it was difficult. She didn’t look so good after her cleaning session, and our chemistry was off.

Finally, she suggested we play a drinking game.

She busted out a bottle of vodka, and a deck of playing cards.

Cat Woman: Whoever has the lower card, does a shot.

Me: You mean like war?

Cat Woman: What’s war?

For the next 35 minutes, we engaged in the most heated game of war that I’ve ever played. I was dubious of this drinking game from the start. In the first 10 minutes, I had consumed 4 shots. This was not a drinking game; it was a drinking clinic. And I was getting killed.

I must’ve been feeling some effects of the alcohol because we actually started talking.

Me: So where are your grandparents this weekend?

Cat Woman: They went to a rock concert in Vegas.

Wait a second. I was supremely skeptical. They were like 90 years-old. Last week, these people could barely move, and now they were in Vegas. Something seemed off.

Her jack beat my 7, and I painfully consumed another shot.

Cat Woman: So…you wanna go swimming?

She nudged her head towards the dark, mysterious backyard. It was 40 degrees out; it was the last thing anyone would want to do.

Me: No. I’m good.

I threw back another shot.

Cat Woman: So…you wanna go see the banana tree? It’s in the backyard too.

What the hell is a banana tree? What is this girl talking about? She seemed really intent in getting me to go to that damn backyard. And now I was feeling a little woozy. Who did this girl think I was?

Cat Woman: So…you wanna go upstairs to my bedroom?


The steps creaked as I wobbled up the stairs. Once we entered the room, we got straight down to business. I was buzzed at this point. I didn’t care about the swimming pool, banana tree, or missing grandparents. I was too busy making out.

We settled down for a moment and had a little pillow talk.

Cat Woman: So…what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I ran through the short list in my head. My rebellious side included stealing a CD from a friend, running with scissors, and swimming directly after I ate. I settled with:

Me: I snuck into a movie once. That was pretty crazy. What about you?

Cat Woman: Well, it’s really stupid, but me and my friends… (giggling)

Me: What?

Cat Woman: Well, me and my friends… (pause) …WE USED TO SMOKE CRACK ALL THE TIME.

I tried to stay calm, but I broke out into a cold sweat. My response made no sense…kind’ve like George Costanza when he met the Bubble Boy and blurted out: “My cousin’s in a bubble.”

Me: I heard that can be really fun.

Cat Woman: It got so bad…we ended up in…what’s it called?


Cat Woman: Yeah, that’s it.

That’s when I noticed it. To the right of the bed, resting peacefully on the floor was a large, shiny hammer. There were no nails; there was nothing to be hung up; just the hammer!

Just at that moment, the grandfather clock rang its mighty gong, and that’s when everything suddenly made sense.

DING…she killed her grandparents for drug money.

DING…they are buried under the banana tree.

DING…I was next.

Cat Woman disappeared into the bathroom, and I figured this would be my chance to make a break for it. I put my shirt back on and started lacing my shoes.

She emerged from the bathroom with a smile.

Cat Woman: Where are you going all of a sudden?

I blurted out several incoherent excuses. My heart pounded against my chest.

Cat Woman: What’s wrong? You look like I’m gonna kill you or something.

I laughed nervously and dressed faster. I couldn’t fix the knot in my damn shoelace. Come on!

Cat Woman: If you’re gonna go now, let me…

That’s when she lunged towards the hammer.

I squeezed my eyes shut in fear. My life was gonna end and shamefully so; a victim of lust. I was gonna be murdered and buried under a banana tree never to be heard from again.

As she stretched her arms towards the side of the bed, my body wouldn’t move. I was frozen. I gritted my teeth, and held my breath.

She popped up from the side of her bed. And in her right hand was:

Her fluffy bunny slippers!

The hammer went untouched, and I exhaled.

The next few moments were a blur. She probably asked me why I had turned pale, and why my eyes were tearing up, but everything went silent for me. The hammer was still beside the bed, but I wasn’t waiting to see what happened next. I finally laced my shoes, and was ready to get the hell out of there.

Cat Woman wore her bunny slippers and opened the front door for me. I gave her an insincere hug, and busted out of the house. I sprinted in the darkness towards my car; towards safety. I locked my doors, and ripped on the ignition, and zipped out of there.

I didn’t breathe until I made it to the freeway 15 minutes down the road. I was back in a familiar place. I was safe and sound. Everything was going to be OK.

That’s when I shook my head, and let out a laugh. What was I thinking? This girl wasn’t going to kill me. She was harmless. Everything was just a coincidence; her decrepit grandparents going to a rock concert; her answering the door wearing sweats and dirty yellow gloves; her trying to get me drunk; her insistence that I see the banana tree again and again; her hammer with no nails and nothing to be hung up. I had flipped out and let my vivid imagination get the best of me. She was a good girl, and I had behaved like a jerk. I really owed Cat Woman an apology, and at least a phone call.

The radio went to commercial, and knocked me out of my trance. I reached for my CD case when I remembered the CD Cat Woman gave me. I lifted it from my pocket and placed it in the player. I was curious to hear the mix she had thoughtfully made for me.

The first 20 seconds was pure static. I skipped a few tracks. Still static. Something seemed off.

That’s when Cat Woman’s voice poured from the speakers.

Cat Woman: I was never going to kill you with the hammer. Your food was poisoned. Good-bye.

My body froze. I no longer had control of my limbs. My throat closed up. I couldn't breathe. The last thing I remember is my car veering against the rail and popping into the air. Then everything went to black.

The Real Ending

OK. Here’s the real ending. My food wasn’t poisoned, and the CD was actually an amazing mix of Tupac and Biggie. I made it home safely and called Cat Woman a few days later. I left a message apologizing for my strange behavior and told her I wasn’t ready to date anyone at the moment.

We never spoke again. She probably remembers me as the crazy, paranoid jerk that didn’t want to see the banana tree, and then left abruptly in the middle of a date.

But I’ll always remember her as the girl who tried to kill me.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tufts University: How to Not Get Lucky Your Freshman Year

All through high school, I heard how easy it was to meet girls in college. And then I enrolled at Tufts University in Medford, MA. My freshman year was in 1996. I was inexperienced, had little confidence, and looked like I was 12 years-old. It was challenging to meet girls as most of the student body spent their time studying at Tisch Library. When I did meet girls, they saw me as their little brother, and constantly pinched my cheeks, and ruffled my hair.

Sometimes, I wished I had attended Florida State or the University of Arizona where pretty girls had loose morals and made bad choices. Tufts did offer some fun; I attended fraternity parties in dark basements, swallowed Jell-O shots, and competed at Beer Pong. But I didn’t stand a chance in the women department as freshman girls were plucked away by upperclassmen night after night. While they enjoyed a romp in the bedroom, I stumbled late night to the local pizza place Espresso, ate a buffalo chicken calzone, and complained to my new best friends how women sucked.

Just once, I wanted to bring a girl back to my dorm room my freshman year. I could’ve shown her my Simpsons tapes, Red Sox signed baseballs, and Dali posters. I could’ve knotted a tie on the door so my roommate knew he’d been sexiled for the evening. Or my girl and I could’ve enjoyed the kinkiness of being extra quiet because my roommate was asleep in his bed just a few feet away. I yearned to do the walk of shame just once to see what it was like. But my freshman year never turned out that way.

As I look back, I realize that the college environment was not the best place for me in terms of meeting women. I found it easiest to meet girls in middle school. There were no games. You simply approached a girl in the school hallway, and said: “Will you go out with me?” If she said yes, you smiled, stood awkwardly in silence, and then went back to your friends to tell them the good news; that you now had a girlfriend.

I even found meeting girls easier after college. In the real world, there was structure, and that was exactly what I craved. Whether I had dinner or drinks with a girl, my intentions were very clear. I wasn’t trying to make a new friend. I was trying to find someone to hook up with and possibly someone to date. And she was doing the same.

But in college, everything was broad and unclear. There were no rules. No structure. It was a free for all, and I was always the last one in line. One moment a girl was your friend, and the next week you guys were hooking up. And the week after that, she didn’t even know you existed. Then she was your friend again. It was unpredictable, confusing, and never really worked for me.

I tried to break the rules, and asked a girl on a date once. She was confused by my question. Not only did she reject me, but she also explained the reason why: “freshman don’t date in college, they just have fun.” Based on that assessment, my freshman year was not very fun at least in the women department.

As I got older, I learned the ropes, grew more confidence, and found meeting women much easier. And although I’m complaining, my overall college experience was great. But when it came to women, my freshman year was tough at Tufts.

As if getting laid at Tufts as a freshman wasn’t hard enough, this national news story broke in the beginning of October:

Tufts University: No sex in room while roommate is present

(CNN) -- A new policy at Tufts University prohibits students in dorms from having sex while their roommate is in the room, according to the university's 2009-2010 student handbook.
The Massachusetts university's formal rule also bars so-called "sexiling" -- exiling a roommate from the room so the other roommate can engage in sexual activity.

The new policy "is really about consideration and respect for others and the need for students to be mindful of their roommates' need for privacy, study and sleep," university spokeswoman Kim Thurler told CNN.

She said while she did not have an exact number of complaints from students about their roommates' behavior, "over the last few years, the Office of Residential Life and Learning received approximately a dozen expressions of concern about this issue."
Callie Morton, a freshman at Tufts, told CNN affiliate WHDH-TV, "If someone is going to go and have sex while their roommate is in the room, I mean I think that's kind of gross. I think it's kind of funny that they would have to make a rule about it."

The new guidelines for students hosting overnight guests say, "You may not engage in sexual activity while your roommate is present in the room. And sexual activity within your assigned room should not ever deprive your roommate(s) of privacy, study, or sleep time."

Other students agree that the new rule is going to be difficult to implement.
"I don't think it's something that can really be enforced per se," an unidentified
Tufts University student told WHDH. "I don't understand how that's going to work."

Thurler explained that if a problem is identified and brought to the attention of residence officials, the university will help the affected student have a conversation with his/her roommate to address the situation.

"In some cases, we might intervene on behalf of the student," Thurler said, "and speak with their roommate directly and explain what is expected of them while they live in the residence halls."

Thurler wouldn't comment on possible disciplinary action by the university if a student breaks the rules.

My Reaction

When I read this the first time, I was furious. How could they do this to the freshman? Don’t they know how hard it is to meet girls already? But then I took a moment, and thought about it some more.

This rule might not be so bad. And here are 5 reasons why:

#5 Reverse Psychology

It may actually be easier for freshman guys to hook up with this rule in place. Everyone knows that young people hate the establishment and will do anything to rebel against it. So if “the man” says not to hook up, more people will. Girls will be excited and more inclined to come to your room because it’s “against the rules.”

This was the trend at Jewish summer camps across America. My camp attempted to enforce a stern “no fraternization” rule. It didn’t work out too well. More people hooked up at my camp then any place in the free world.

#4 Tufts Will No Longer Be Known as: “The Safety School For the Ivy League.”

Tufts will now be known as: “The school where freshman can’t get laid…and if they do, they will be punished by their RA.”

#3 More Adventurous and Kinky Hook Up Stories

Since dorm rooms are off limits, freshman will have to be more creative. Students will finally put good use to the library, gym, dining hall, and quad. Games of “I never” will never be so much fun. “I’ve never hooked up underneath Jumbo the elephant.” Everybody drink.

#2 Tufts May Be a Top 25 School Again

Tufts has recently dropped out of the top 25 according to the U.S News World and Report. And the reason: those damn freshman kids are having too much sex. With the ban of hooking up in dorms, Tufts students will finally have a chance to study, focus on their classes, and get us back in the Top 25.

#1 I Will No Longer Be the Only Freshman at Tufts Who Didn’t Get Lucky

Welcome to the club, boys. It makes you bitter, unhappy, and resentful towards women. But besides that, you’ll be fine. I mean, I ended up OK. Right?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My All-Time Favorite 30 Minute TV Shows

Through good and bad, thick and thin, there’s always been one constant in my life. Something that is stable and reliable. Something that showers me with unconditional love. I’ve laughed with it. I’ve cried with it. I’ve cheered with it. I’ve screamed at it. But through all my experiences, it’s always been there for me.

And that one thing is: TV.

I have so many important people in my life, but the one thing that’s always been there for me is TV. When I had mono, I didn’t hang out with friends and family. I watched TV. When a date flaked on me, I could always go home and watch TV. When I needed to procrastinate from writing a paper, I just clicked the button on my remote control, and there was the warm, glowing love of the TV.

Some may think my fondness for television is a bit much; that I probably don’t have much of a life. I’m a couch potato. I’m lazy. I have no motivation. But that’s not true. I don’t see TV as my life, but instead as a safety net. Something I can always turn to.

Television gets a bum rap because it has only been around for about 50 years. When one compares TV to film or books, it doesn’t stand a chance. Film is almost 100 years old, and books have been around forever. It’s like television is in preschool while film is in high school, and books just finished up there medical school degree.

My point is that TV needs more time to prove that it is an important source of entertainment in our society. I’m tired of people calling it the “idiot box.” I’m tired of people focusing on all the garbage it produces. Because when you think about it, both film and books have plenty of bombs as well.

My Tufts Experience

My sophomore year at Tufts, I took a creative writing class. Our first assignment was to bring in a great piece of writing. We went around the class sharing our works. The first student brought in something by Mark Twain. Then it was a piece by Tolstoy. Then, Shakespeare.

Finally, it was my turn. I presented a script from an episode of Seinfeld. The professor looked at me with shock. My classmates stared at me with confusion. “That doesn’t count. You can’t do that,” the professor announced. Why not? She couldn’t articulate an appropriate answer.

I’ll never forget that. That’s when it occurred to me that some people just don’t understand television like I do.

Here are my 10 favorite 30 minute TV shows. My definition of a classic is when…

I have a personal connection to the show and its characters.

I can reference or quote the show.

I can watch the show over and over again.

The show (new or syndicated) has been around for a long period of time, and is not outdated.

To narrow down the top 10, I’ve also created a few rules:

The show must have aired on network television i.e. no cable programming. (Sorry Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Larry Sanders Show, Entourage, South Park, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, etc.)

The show must have been on air for at least 4 seasons (sorry 30 Rock, Arrested Development.)

The show must only be 30 minutes in length (sorry Quantum Leap, Lost, 24, Law & Order, Beverly Hills 90210, SNL, etc.)

Honorable Mentions (just missed my cut):

Family Guy, Family Ties, Night Court, Newhart, Perfect Strangers, Doogie Howser M.D., The Office, Married with Children, Different Strokes, Silver Spoons, Boy Meets World

Without Further Ado, Here is My Top 10:

#10 “GROWING PAINS” (1985-92)

The Seaver family: Maggie, Jason, Ben, Carol, and Mike brought the laughs week after week. The episodes were cheesy, but they were goofy and funny. The show was on a roll until Kirk Cameron became a born again Christian and basically ruined the fun. But Growing Pains had a number of good episodes. The show also must be recognized for one of the best theme songs of all time (“As long as we got each other”:, It's also where Leonardo Dicaprio got his start as Luke, and features two of the best sidekicks ever: Boner and Stinky Sulivan.

Favorite Episode: “Do you believe in magic?”

Mike gets conned into buying a magic rock.

Which Character I’d Like To Meet: Boner.

Because his name is Boner.

#9 “HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER” (2005-?)

This is the only new show that makes an appearance in my top 10. I wrote about it last month so I’ll include a brief summary and the link if you’d like to read more.

How I Met Your Mother finally got an Emmy nomination for best comedy series. It’s about time! Does that mean it’s still underrated? I think so.

I first started watching HIMYM 3 years ago. My roommate J-M turned me on to it. I expected nonsense like most modern day sitcoms, but the show was funny, original, clever, and poignant. Although it appears to be a Friends-like show, it actually reminds me more of an R-rated Wonder Years. HIMYM is told in flashbacks and this time Bob Saget is the narrator instead of Daniel Stern. When I watch Wonder Years, it reminds me of my childhood; when I watch How I Met Your Mother, it reminds me of my life today. HIMYM discusses topics such as dating, relationships, sex, drugs/alcohol, food, work, getting older, living in NYC, sports, and pop culture (one of the best compliments I ever received was that my blog was reminiscent of How I Met Your Mother.)

To read more, click on:

Favorite Episode: “The Third Wheel” (narrowly defeating “The Naked Man”)

Ted is on the verge of having a threesome. Did I mention one of the girls is played by Danica McKellar? (Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years!)

Which Character I’d Like To Meet: Barney Stinson.

He could teach me the bro-code, and how to suit up.

#8 “CHEERS” (1982-93)

Cheers used to be in my top 5, but it hasn’t really stood the test of time, and has since dropped a few spots. But Cheers is still a classic: it’s where everyone knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. It’s also one of the first shows where the setting (the bar) is a main character. The fact that it takes place in my hometown of Boston definitely scores it a few points as well.

I remember watching every Thursday night with my family. I didn’t get all of the jokes as a kid, but I learned quickly. I still recognize Cheers occasionally by making a reference to the Screaming Viking, or calling a fictional girlfriend a Vera. If you know what I’m talking about, you’re definitely a big watcher as well. I was more of a fan of the later episodes so I’d take Woody over Coach, and Rebecca over Diane, but to each his own. Add in another amazing theme song (, and you got yourself a classic.

Favorite Episode: “The Bar Wars.”

A classic prankster episode pitting the Cheers bar versus Gary’s Old Town Tavern. Check out the great cameo by Mr. Wade Boggs before he defected to the hated Yankees.

Which Character I’d Like To Meet: Norm.

Sitting around all day drinking beer sounds like fun to me.

#7 “THE COSBY SHOW” (1984-92)

Bill Cosby is unbelievably talented. Not only did he speak at my Tufts graduation, but he also created one of the best 30 minute shows of all-time (not Fat Albert, but that was pretty good too.) The Cosby Show was great because it was so simple. The episodes were as basic as Rudy gets sick, Theo fails a test, or Cliff tries to fix the dishwasher. But they all worked because of Bill Cosby’s charm, humor, silliness, and crazy sweaters.

I watched The Cosby Show with my family every Thursday night. I loved being with the Huxtables and all of their friends: Cliff, Claire, Denise, Vanessa, Sondra, Elvin, Rudy, Kenny/Bud, Theo, Cockroach, and even Smitty (played by Adam Sandler in a few episodes.)

The show faded once Rudy got older, and she was basically replaced by the “That’s so Raven” girl. But I’ll never forget the great memories I had from the first 6 seasons.

Favorite Episode: “I’m In With the In Crowd.”

Vanessa gets bombed, and the Huxtables play drinking games.

Which Character I’d Like to Meet: Cockroach.

I’d love to hang with him and write a rap song about Shakespeare.

#6 “FRASIER” (1993-04)

Some might not know, but the character of Frasier Crane spanned the airwaves for nearly 20 years. He was a side character on Cheers, and then started his own spin-off show, Frasier. Not many characters have succesfully pulled off the spin-off show. Joey (Friends) was a bomb, Just the 10 of Us (Growing Pains) never really took off, and neither did Joanie Loves Chachi (Happy Days.)

There were a lot of skeptics when Frasier first came out. I still remember my brother Jon being repulsed by the plot: “Fraiser moves back to Seattle to live with his father. What’s funny about that?”

Frasier defied odds with brilliant writing, great acting, and clever humor. I didn’t appreciate Frasier until 2006 when I dvr’d every episode. I could not stop watching and although my roommates were annoyed, they eventually got hooked as well.

Favorite Episode: “Frasier’s Imaginary Friend”

Frasier meets a supermodel, but has to keep it a secret.

Which Character I’d Like To Meet: Bulldog, the sports radio personality.

He loves sports, women, and being a wise ass. I think we would get along.

#5 “FRIENDS” (1994-04)

Chandler, Ross, Joey, Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe changed the face of the modern day sitcom. If the 1980’s were about family, the 1990’s were about singles, friendship, and dating. The first 5 seasons of Friends are up with any show ever created. The dialogue was fresh and witty. The episodes were provocative and fun. The characters played off of each other like they were real Friends.

Chandler and Joey brought us one of the first television bro-mances while the tension between Ross and Rachel was reminiscent to Sam and Diane. The characters complimented one another and every viewer had someone to connect with.

Unfortunately, Friends eventually jumped the shark. Chandler got fat, and he wasn’t funny anymore. Monica went from neurotically funny to just neurotic. Phoebe went from strangely funny to just strange. And Ross went from annoying to well, even more annoying. The actors stared at the camera way too long after a stale joke, and waited for the applause. But it only came from the laugh track.

It was frustrating because the first five seasons were near perfection. Despite the lazy finish, Friends is still in my top 10. There are several laugh-out-loud episodes that can be re-watched daily, it’s got a fun theme song, and the characters are unforgettable.

If you’re bored, try playing fu*k, marry, kill with the cast.

Favorite Episode: “The One with the Embryos.”

This is the classic episode where Joey and Chandler battle Monica and Rachel in a trivia game. The winner gets the unrealistically huge NYC apartment. “What was Monica’s nickname when she was a field-hockey goalie?” If you know this, you’re definitely a fan of the show.

Which character I’d Like to Meet: Joey.

Because I love eating sandwiches too.

Jumping the shark is a colloquialism coined by Jon Hein and used by TV critics and fans to denote the point in a television program's history where the plot veers off into absurd story lines or out-of-the-ordinary characterizations. This usually corresponds to the point where a show with falling ratings apparently becomes more desperate to draw in viewers. In the process of undergoing these changes, the TV or movie series loses its original appeal. Shows that have "jumped the shark" are typically deemed to have passed their peak.

The phrase refers to a scene in a three-part episode of the American TV series
Happy Days, first broadcast on September 20, 1977. In the third of the three parts of the "Hollywood" episode, Fonzie (Henry Winkler), wearing swim trunks and his trademark leather jacket, jumps over a confined shark while water skiing.

#4 “SAVED BY THE BELL” (1989-93)

Saved by the Bell is easily the cheesiest show of all-time. It breaks every single rule in TV. It’s outdated, the plots are predictable, the characters are one-dimensional and break the 4th wall by speaking to the camera, the one-liners are painful. But somehow this show is still amazing. It’s about as explainable as Stonehenge or the success of Dane Cook or David Hasselhoff. Nobody knows how it happened or why it happened, but it just happened.

The weirdest part is that Saved by the Bell appeals to every demographic despite the fact that the characters are all wealthy yuppies. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, if you’re old or young, grew up rich or poor, support democrats or republicans, almost everyone agrees on one thing: Saved by the Bell is awesome.

I watched Saved by the Bell on Saturday mornings and after school on TBS. I memorized every episode and can compete with just about anyone in trivia. (A.C. stands for Albert Clifford. Violet Anne Bickerstaff was played by Tori Spelling. Mr. Belding’s younger brother is named Rod.)

Saved by the Bell was brilliant because of its characters. The smartest thing they did was cast some of the hottest chicks in TV with Kelly the Cheerleader, Lisa the Gossip Girl and Jessie the brainiac. Then they balanced it with A.C. the jock, Zack the preppy, and Screech, the nerd. It was almost what Friends did years later. Every viewer had someone to connect with or dream about.

Some people will never understand Saved by the Bell. But those who do will support it forever. To be honest, I still don’t understand why I love the show. But I just do.

On a fun note, I met Mr. Belding at a “Jurassic 5” concert years ago. Yes, I met him at a rap concert. And I once saw AC Slater at a club in Vegas. I still haven’t met Kelly Kapowski yet, but hopefully one day.

Favorite Episode: “Jessie’s Song.”

Jessie gets hooked on caffeine pills and delivers one of the best lines of all time: “I’m so excited. I’m so excited. I’m so…scared!” It scores very high on the unintentional comedy scale. Click here for the video:

Which Character I’d Like to Meet: Kelly Kapowski.

Because she is the hottest girl that's ever appeared on TV!

By the way, have you ever noticed the amount of hot TV characters named Kelly: Kelly Bundy (Married with Children), Kelly Boyd (Cheers), Kelli Taylor (Beverly Hills 90210.)

#2B THE SIMPSONS (1989-?)

Here’s something that I wrote last December:

In 1990, when the Simpsons first aired my buddy Greece suggested that I check it out. I was 12 at the time. I remember sitting in the basement, glued to the TV. The episode was titled “The Call of the Simpsons.” Homer and Bart were starving and lost in the woods.

HOMER: This is a trap. It's gonna catch us our dinner. Come on, boy. Shh. Just watch.

They patiently wait for their prey. A cute bunny steps into the trap and is catapulted high into the sky until there is a “thud” off screen. My buddy and I burst into laughter. After that, I was hooked.

When my parents asked me how many hours of TV I watched a day, I mimicked Bart Simpson: “6! 7 if there’s anything good on.” I watched hours of the Simpsons; the new episodes and the re-runs. In 7th grade history class, someone taught me how to draw each character; a tool which still comes in handy today when I’m bored. My parents continued to nag me asking how I could spend so much time watching a cartoon.

To further my obsession, I recorded all of the classic Simpsons episodes on one tape. When my Mom accidentally taped it over with Murder, She Wrote, I flipped out. I finally calmed down, forgave my Mom and Angela Lansbury, and convinced myself to start again. After 5 years, I compiled Volumes 1-8, and close to 200 episodes. It gained me mass amounts of popularity as people from college and high school would come over just to watch.

My parents finally accepted my obsession when Time Magazine voted The Simpsons “The best Show of the 20th century.” I knew it since I was 12 years-old.

Something also has to be said for the longevity of the series. It’s been on for 20 years and counting. The show has clearly become weaker, but every time it seems to have jumped the shark, the Simpsons come back with another good episode.

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Favorite Episode: “Homer the Heretic”

Homer creates his own religion.

Which Character I’d Like to Meet: Homer Simpson.

Because we could drink a case of Duff, and then let the hijinks ensue.

#2A SEINFELD (1990-98)

Here’s something that I wrote last December:

Seinfeld was one of the shows that brought my father and me closer. Our relationship revolved around sports, but we also had another thing in common; we loved to laugh. The discovery of Seinfeld strengthened our bond. We split our sides over the expressions Soup Nazi, Mulva, Sparing a Square, the Bubble Boy, and These Pretzels are Making Me Thirsty. At social functions, my Dad and I could integrate a Seinfeld reference into almost any conversation. When my Dad met my friends, he immediately earned their respect by slipping in a line about Man Hands or Vandelay Industries.

It’s still the same routine when I return home. We finish dinner, head to the living room, and watch a re-run of Seinfeld. We know what’s coming, but we still laugh.

Seinfeld insists that it's a show about nothing, but it's a lot more than that. The show gracefully pulls off 3 or 4 sub-plots at the same time, and then smoothly blends them together as one. Seinfeld can focus on the stupid and inane, but it does so with brilliance and originality. Every single day something happens to me that reminds me of Seinfeld. After a while, the show slowly becomes a part of your everyday life. The show is pure genius, and will always be one of the best ever created.

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Favorite Episode: “The Contest”

Masturbation has never been discussed with so much fun.

Which Character I’d Like to Meet: Kramer

That’s assuming he doesn’t take on Michael Richards’ persona and starts dropping “N” bombs.

#1 “THE WONDER YEARS” (1988-93)

I connected with The Wonder Years like no other show. It’s the only show on this list that’s not a sitcom. Instead, The Wonder Years is a coming of age story. And for me, the story feels like my life. When I watched it growing up, I felt like Kevin Arnold. When I watch it now, I feel like I’m looking back on my childhood.

The Wonder Years tackles everyday life in the early 70’s discussing such issues as school, dating, puberty, family, and on a bigger spectrum: politics and the war. Within a 30 minute clip, I found myself laughing, crying, and finally reflecting.

The characters were perfect. Wayne was a classic big brother/bully. Karen was the hippie big sister. Jack was the stern, grumpy Dad with a heart. And Norma was the sweet house maker that held the family together. Paul Pfeiffer was the quintessential dorky best friend. And of course, Winnie was the brown eyed dream girl.

The Wonder Years taught us lessons, but it was never preachy or too on the nose. There were never ads promoting a "very special episode" like Blossom or The Facts of Life. Instead, The Wonder Years was subtle with its storytelling. Many times the characters would make the wrong decision, and the endings were not happy. As a result, it seemed like real life. This was cutting edge because very few 30 minute shows had ever done that with so much success.

I personally connected with Kevin and his relationship with his father; sometimes Kevin would just snap at him for no reason and vice versa. But the underlying factor was love, but they just didn’t know how to show it sometimes.

The Wonder Years also has the best soundtrack of all-time. The show features hits from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan amongst many others. The music captures the magic of the show. Unfortunately, because of the music, The Wonder Years cannot be released on DVD; it’s just too expensive to pay for all of the music rights again. But that doesn’t stop people from buying bootleg copies online.

I’ll leave you with the last monologue from my favorite 30 minute show of all time:

” Growing up happens in a heartbeat--One day you're in diapers... Next day you're gone--but the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place, a town, a house like a lot of other houses, a yard like a lot of other yards on a street like a lot of other streets, and the thing is--after all these years--I still look back with wonder.”

Favorite Episode: “Hero”

Kevin fights with his father, and turns to the captain of the basketball team as his new role model. At the end of the episode, Kevin learns the true meaning of a hero. It makes me cry every single time.

Which Character I’d Like to Meet: Winnie Cooper, all grown up.

Her brown eyes would melt my heart.