To Tile or Not to Tile – Letter 12

Mack,

I questioned even writing this letter because I’ll be up there so soon, but I can’t help being so excited. In three short weeks my masterpiece,“Two Businessmen High-Five While Bruce Lee Flying Kicks Out of the Explosion,” will be revealed to the world and will hopefully overshadow your most-likely-painfully-boring Shakespeare wedding. I’ll be honest, that video you sent me brought tears to my eyes when I thought about how much I’ll be sleeping through it. By my calculations, it should be about 95%. Don’t take it too personally though, I can sleep through anything since Dr. Frank cured my insomnia.

Frank’s miracle cure for me was threatening to shoot himself in the head if I didn’t get to sleep and fast. It only took a couple weeks of him telling me that I’d be the reason he was dead before I could shut my eyes and dream for a couple hours. The man is a genius, bottom line. I owe that man an unending amount of gratitude.

As for Steve Jr., I’ve already taken the liberty of calling “Oregon Adventures” and scheduling a “ManQuest” for a week before your wedding. The pamphlet says its a guided tour of the Ochoco National Forest, until the guides hand out pocket knives to your group and toss you out of a canoe and leave you to fend for yourself for the next 4 days. This seems like the perfect way to “man-up” Steve Jr. I’d also be killing two birds with one stone, as I’ve decided to officially make this your bachelor party. What an awesome time, right!? You, me, Steve Jr. and Pop, fighting for our lives, breaking the necks of rabbits with our bare-hands, developing our own culture and social hierarchy through knife fights! The only way we could make it more manly is if Han Solo came along on the ManQuest!

So get your testosterone ready, Mack. WE’RE GOING ON A MANQUEST!

Manfully yours,
Steve

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To Tile or Not to Tile – Letter 10

Mack,

I literally thought Mom died when I told her you were alive! How would that have been for depressing irony? She only passed out thankfully, and is more than excited to attend your wedding. Dad reacted by punching me in the stomach but was pretty excited after that.

Sucks about your legs. Maybe Joanne would be more interested in marrying you if you got some sweet looking crutches. Are there any orangutans in any of Shakespeare’s plays? I can’t say I’m very familiar with his stuff. Maybe you could play it off as an art school interpretation of Hamlet. Or maybe one of his plays with less people dying. Just an idea. I’ll talk to a couple of my connections in the tile scene about finding a good surgeon that can maybe help you. As you would have probably guessed, I know quite a few powerful people. Maybe they can even do something about your manliness being overly boyish. I’m sure that once we take care of that problem Joanne will stop jonesing for a Coke-fix and start jonesing for a Mack-fix.

Steve Jr. has been doing well. He of course is taking interest in the family business, but some of the stuff he does makes me second-guess wanting to hand the business of to him when I retire. Just the other day he painted a tile with daisies or some shit on it. I tell you, he’s like the Fredo Corleone of our family. Hopefully things won’t come to me having to shoot him in a boat, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him ruin the empire I’ve built with my bare hands.

So, as mentioned before, I’ll be sending some doctors your way within the next couple of days. Let me know what they tell you. Stay strong, brother. Your fiance will be over-aggressively groping you in no time.

-Steve

To Tile or Not to Tile – Letter 9

Steve,

Thank you so, so, so much for carrying my wriggling body out of Gaston’s office. You saved my life. Also, thank you for your concern about my partial paralysis due to taking those paralysis darts to the leg. To answer your question, no, I am not out of the wheelchair yet. The doctor said that the poison inside of the darts was curare, which happens to be common for arrow poisons originating in South America. I guess Gaston learned something from his time spent in the rain forest besides “when those bugs bite you, it’s gonna cause some serious shit.” Remember when he told us he was vomiting and coughing up blood for weeks after we sent him down there on a bogus tiling offer? HA! Oh, how we laughed at that.

Unfortunately, now the joke’s on me. Curare contains tubocurarine chloride, which is now only used in the United States as part of the lethal injection procedure. The doctor’s say I may never walk again.

Joanne is at a crossroads regarding our wedding. As I mentioned before, being a big player in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she wants it to be Shakespeare themed. However, my current inability to walk is limiting my character choice very heavily. She said that Richard III was portrayed as disabled, but that she “would not want to marry that brash and unlikeable man.”

Oh, she is also at a crossroads thanks to Gaston Clutterbuck giving her cocaine. She has been jonesing for a fix, just like back in the old days before she kicked the habit. I must say that while I enjoy her taking her shirt off, I usually like to limit that and the crotch grabbing to both the bedroom and only my crotch, respectively. When she smacks up some blow, this simple goal of mine becomes harder to achieve.

But, enough about me. I’m so happy to hear that I’ve earned your respect! While my legs may be on the fritz, at least for the time being, your respect has become my wings. I can not WAIT to see your amazing latest masterpiece of tile-work, “Two Businessmen High-Five While Bruce Lee Flying Kicks Out of the Explosion.” My wedding just got a whole lot better!

Joanne still wants to marry me, but I am a bit worried that she’ll change her mind any day now. You’ve always been good with the ladies; got any advice? When she’s off the drugs and when I could walk, we were perfect together. But now, when she delves into her recently-acquired secret stash of cocaine, she mocks me, and calls me “Professor Limp Dick of the Asshole Squad.” I hate to sound like your teenage son instead of your brother (by the way, how is Steve Jr. doing?), but I could really use some help on how to get her clean and win her heart once again.

I’ve also sent Mom and Dad’s invitation in this letter. As you mentioned, please hand-deliver it to them. I hope they are still not disgusted at my lack of success and years of debauchery, and that they will attend the wedding (as well as be happy to hear that I am alive).

I’ll be talking to you soon, brother. I’m so happy I once again have your respect.

– Mack

P.S. Thank you for your comment about Joanne’s hotness. I certainly agree she looked great in that Leia costume. I also hope your new-found respect for me includes not seducing my fiance.

To Tile or Not To Tile – Letter 6

Mack,

I could be wrong here, but this just may be the one somewhat decent idea you’ve ever had. To be honest, every idea that you’ve had that I can remember has been complete dog shit. It seemed like every time you opened your mouth, a cacophony of garbled ass would come spewing forth, poisoning every living being within a 15 foot radius. Sometimes I wondered if the only thing happening in your brain was an army of orangutans running at full-force headfirst into a brick wall.

But I digress. This time you may be on to something.

I think the best way for your fiance to immediately get Clutterbuck’s attention would be to have her appear at his office in a Princess Leia outfit; you know, the one from when she was a slave in Jabba the Hutt’s palace? If Gaston is anything like me (considering he’s pretty much copied my life, I can guess he is a little bit), he’ll be like Play-Dough in her hands. I’ll provide the costume, I’ve had it lying around in a closet since the wife and I used to to role-play. That won’t weird Joanne out, will it?

All you have to do is make her memorize this line: “I’m from out of town and on my way to the local Science Fiction convention. Being a single, half-witted woman, I’ve seemed to have lost my way. Teehee, silly me. I’m a huge fan of tile art so I figured I could experience an under-appreciated art and get directions at the same time. You know, killing two birds with one stone, or whatever.” Just make sure she doesn’t throw in any of that Shakespeare “ye” or “tis” shit, then he’ll know its a trap.

He’ll undoubtedly ask her out to dinner that night, so that will be our chance to strike. Wear all black with a mask and make sure to stretch, we don’t want to pull a muscle or anything. It shouldn’t be too tough, we’ll smash in his window, rummage through his shit, find the paper and bolt. To the regular person it’ll seem like some everyday robbery, the authorities will be none-the-wiser. Come to my house the day you receive this letter and we’ll begin preparations.

By the way, I’m kicking myself for not mentioning this in the previous letters, but Mom and Dad think you’re dead. I convinced them to hold off on the funeral till the authorities found the body, but as far as they’re concerned they have only one son, now (although I’m not sure its too much different from when they thought you were alive, HAHA!). I’ll let them know you’re not dead.

I anxiously await your arrival, brother.

Sincerely,
Steve

To Tile or Not to Tile – Letter 5

Steve,

When I read your letter about 1 hour, 33 minutes, 42 seconds ago, a wave of rage crashed over my entire body like a tsunami…an ANGRY tsunami! I can not believe that Gaston Clutterbuck is still trying to out-do you. That son of a bitch! I had hoped that when you had not mentioned him in your previous letter, that he simply just finally died and you pissed on his grave like we used to discuss back in the ol’ days.

It is simply absurd that he struck you with Formica and stole your latest masterpiece. “Two Businessmen High-Five While Bruce Lee Flying Kicks Out of the Explosion” sounds like an amazing work of art. We CAN NOT let him get away with this!

I understand your position on not allowing me to get married until this is cleared up. I told Joanne that our marriage would have to be put on hold until Gaston Clutterbuck has been thwarted and peace has been restored to the tile industry. She was confused and thought I was kidding. I told her that I was NOT kidding, and then explained the situation to her in detail.

I spoke of how Gaston went to high school with you. I told Joanne that he learned of the popularity and chicks you were gaining with your tile work, and quickly became quite jealous. Being the star football player, he was expecting all the fame and chicks; but your obvious prodigal talents in the field of tile-work had raised you to a god-like level in that school. Once you were elected Prom King, Gaston swore his revenge.

I told Joanne that for years, Gaston was simply a nuisance with a sub-par tiling business that could never hold a candle to yours. I mean, remember that one time he tried to sneak into your office without knowing you booby trap it? We must have watched that security tape at least 82 times: that nail-gun shooting him in the chest, him running out screaming. CLASSIC!

Joanne doesn’t sound like she understands. She seems to be an emotional cocktail made with 1 part confusion and two parts anger. And let me tell you that I’ve been sipping this cocktail since I told her the news, and it does NOT go down smooth. There is a lot of yelling with intermittent sobs. She also quoted The Merchant of Venice at me by saying “If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.” Honestly though, it just make me think of bears.

Joanne’s not a bad person though, Steve. In time, I know she’ll understand, and maybe even help! If I can get her to seduce Gaston, you and I can ransack his home and business until we find your sketch. Then, I will send Joanne a text message telling her to cease her seductive acts, and maybe she can knock him unconscious by slamming a lead pipe into his skull!

Yes, I do believe this is a great plan. And, like you said in your letter, once we right these wrongs I can go on and marry Joanne, the love of my life, and you can be my best man!

Don’t worry, Steve. We’ll get this guy and restore your rightful place on top of the throne of the tile industry!

Also, next time you see Mom and Dad, please let them know that I have cleaned up my act and will be getting married. You don’t need to tell them the marriage is currently on hold until we get our revenge on Gaston. That would just worry them.

I’ll be hearing from you soon, bro. Love ya,

– Mack

To Tile or Not to Tile – Letter 3

Steve,

I’m so glad you wrote back! I’m also pretty happy that your letter has an even mix of normal human conversation and hateful slander. Are you getting soft in your old age? HA! I kid.

In the years that passed I learned that it was wrong of me to suggest adding regular tile-work to your business. The Glorious High-Five has brought you success, and, as you’ve said since we were young, “every time you have a thought, remember that your thought is shit compared to mine.” Sometimes I slip into this selfish mode where I think I have an idea, without even thinking first that your idea is better.

I am sorry that I broke your heart all those years ago, and I am truly apologizing now. I’m happy that, as you mentioned, you accept my apology! And don’t worry about hating me, it actually brings me back to childhood: being in the den with my toy train, and you coming in, picking it up, and throwing it into the fireplace, saying all the while “I hate you.” Over the years, as you threw more and more of my possessions into that fireplace, I grew to love it. The fireplace itself was the one thing you couldn’t throw in the fire.

But, enough of this reminiscing about the good ol’ days, bro; let me tell you all about my fiance Joanne!

During those self-proclaimed “bad years” I mentioned in my last letter, I would often get blackout drunk, wake up some place not knowing where I was or how I got there, and then repeat the process. At one point, I woke up covered in my own vomit at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I had apparently bought the highest priced weekend tickets. I had learned to just go with the flow of my blackouts and follow through with the next thing my drunken self had wanted me to do. So, I went to the following performance: Henry VI Part 2.

Now, I had no idea what to expect, but boy howdy was that a riveting performance! Suddenly, when Gloucester went to talk to his wife, I was spellbound: playing the Duchess (Wife of Gloucester), was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I had promised myself I would speak with her, but I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to do. I kept telling myself that I had to get over my anxiety because this was my one chance at happiness! I was sweating profusely, but after the performance I stood near the backstage area and waited to see if she would come out. Then I would risk it all and say hello to her. It couldn’t be that bad, I kept telling myself.

Luckily, when she came out she informed me that we had been sleeping together the past week and a half, but that I’d just been blacking out so often I couldn’t remember. My nervousness was replaced by a bit of shame and awkwardness, especially since she kept grabbing at my crotch stating that she “needs a fix.” It was then I knew that the bashful, quiet, and never-forgetful sober Mack was not the same as this debauchery-inducing drunken Mack.

I promised to clean up my act, and I did. I got off alcohol altogether. She told me she had been using performance-enhancing drugs in order to up the drama in her life…specifically cocaine. She got off the blow, and we’ve never been happier. We live a life of subtlety, quietude, and above all, love and serenity. We love to laugh at the little things in life, and let the beautiful music of the crickets lull us to sleep each night. We are two people who have seen the darkness, and within each other, found light.

Hopefully you think she’s as cool as I think she is, Steve! In fact, I know you will. She’s great. Plus, she loves burritos.

I want you to know that I am mailing this return letter out 52 minutes after receiving your reply. You mentioned that you needed me to respond quickly. I hope this will suffice.

Love you bro! Keep on kicking ass in the tile business. And let me know your decision on the best man thing as soon as you can. We’d love to have you involved in the wedding.

– Mack

P.S. I’d love to see your new sketches! Send ’em along.

To Tile or Not to Tile – Letter 1

Steve,

What’s up, man? It’s been a while. Well, a bit longer than a while: 6 years, 4 months, and 27 days…but who’s counting?

I’m not sure if you still have the same feelings about me as you did all those years ago when you kicked me out of your tile business: the feeling that I am “a horrendous human being whose only contribution to the world will be my larger-than-life suck-factor.” I am hoping that by now it is all water under the bridge.

I am hoping this, but I am also worried that you will burn this letter prior to reading it, since you know just as well as I do that you were always a hard-ass. Some people said I had to be crazy to work for you, but damned if I don’t admit that you’re a GENIUS when it comes to designing and installing porcelain tile.

That’s right, Steve, I still respect you. After all, you are my brother. I would never let something as silly as a difference in opinion get in the way of our kinship.

We used to be so close. Growing up, we were inseparable. I’ll admit that you were always the talented one out of us two. I will definitely admit that. Tile became your passion, and you were a prodigy. When you were in High School and created that porcelain tile portrait of Mom and Dad high-fiving for their bathroom, I knew you were going straight to the top of that business.

I hope you know that I always appreciated you teaching me the ins and outs of the tile business. For the past 12 years, 3 months, and 18 days I’ve made installing tile my source of income, and it’s all thanks to you. You have a knack for it. Mom used to praise me for my expertise with the flute and for my Rainman-like ability to remember dates, but no matter what composition I created in her honor, or dental appointment I helped her not forget, your porcelain tile masterpieces secured your position as the child most loved.

I did not mean to make you so upset all those years ago, when last we spoke. I simply was making a suggestion that maybe your business should branch off from simply doing porcelain tile portraits of couples high-fiving. Yes, I know that there are differences: sometimes there’s an explosion behind the high-five, or due to it; and yes, sometimes there’s a shark giving a thumbs up, or a bear with a shocked-into-awe expression on its face nearby…but I just thought maybe we could do more conventional tiling for a change.

But, I don’t want to bring up old news. In fact, I’d like to bury the hatchet because…well…I’m getting married!

That’s right. Her name is Joanne, and I must say that we go perfectly together: like bread and water. I met her at a rather low point about 4 years, 2 months, and 12 days ago, and after a while we fell in love.

Despite our distance as of late, I would still like for you to be my best man. As you can tell from the return address on this envelope, I am now living in Ashland, Oregon: home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Joanne is a very well-respected player in the Shakespeare festival, so it goes without saying that our wedding will be Shakespeare oriented.

I hope to hear from you soon. Hopefully we can put the past behind us and look forward to a future filled with love and respect.

I love you, Bro.

– Mack