The Exception That Proves the Rule

I like my coffee weak, my toast cold, and my milk sour. I like finding pieces of shell in my scrambled eggs. I like splitting headaches. I like going to the periodontist. I like sleet. But that's me. I'm different. I'm the exception that proves the rule.

Cruising along in a converted electric car (I had the batteries replaced with a conventional eight-cylinder engine), listening to a tape of the Emergency Broadcast System's hauntingly beautiful warning tone, honking (a-ooga!) at the occasional blind person—it occurred to me: you could make a pretty good living selling oranges on street corners. Actually, I could; you couldn't. I'm the exception that proves the rule.

All my life I've found success where others have found failure. Oh, with a few exceptions (that prove the you know what). Like the time I dropped fifteen thousand dollars in a Salt Lake City casino. Or that dumb pyramid scheme (selling pyramids to Egypt!). But I'll get it all back, in spades, when my Whitewater investment finally pays off.

I have zero tolerance for people who say they have zero tolerance for something. "Our company has zero tolerance for discrimination." As opposed to what?—five percent tolerance for discrimination? I asked my boss a couple of weeks ago. He gave me two weeks notice. Best thing that ever happened to me. To celebrate, I bought a one-way ticket to Bosnia.

If it's customary to board an airplane in single file and wait patiently for the person in front of you to get in their seat, then I do the exact opposite—I blast my way through, grab all the pillows, blankets and magazines, lift the armrest, and hog the overhead luggage compartment. When the "No Smoking" light comes on, I light up—and I don't even smoke. Most people are put in jail for that kind of behavior, but not me. However, charges are pending.

He just doesn't "get it," women complain, but I'm the exception that proves the rule, I tell them. No you're not, you're typical, they'll say, and I'll say that if it's typical to not "get it" then I'm not typical and I do "get it" and they'll say get "what?" and I'll say "it," and then they'll say something that has nothing to do with whether or not I "get it."

"I bet you like anchovies," says the man behind the counter at the pizza place near my new one-room flat. "You'd lose your bet," I tell him. "I hate anchovies. I'm the exception that proves the rule." "Most people do hate them," he tells me, at which point I say, "If most people hate them, then I love them. Pour them on." Just to be different.

After selling the car and paying off some old debts, I was left with a grand total of three hundred and forty-five dollars. Now, for most people, this would mean it's time to start shopping around for a sturdy refrigerator box, but not me, I'm the exception that proves the rule. When I saw on the TV (at the pizza place) this anti-gambling expert say that people who bought lottery tickets might as well burn their money, that the odds of winning one of those multi-million dollar grand prizes were astronomically long, that you were more likely to be struck by lightning—well, that got me to thinking.

Most people buy a lottery ticket, they don't win, that's it. Not me. I buy a lottery ticket and—pow!—I win. Three million. Seven million. Thirty million. One hundred million. I've won them all. But that's me. I'm the exception that proves the rule. "Change for a hundred million dollar bill?" I ask the pizza guy. "No," he replies.

As a rule, you can't make it on unemployment checks alone. You need a secondary income, like lottery jackpots. But I'm different. For whatever reason (and some have been lulus) I've been able to get by on kindness, understanding, and creative accounting, like a lease-to-buy arrangement on my next slice of pizza. "You want anchovies?" the pizza guy asks. I don't even answer.

Most people think carrying a concealed weapon is dangerous and fraught with ominous and unintended consequences, but I've been toting a small pistol in a shoulder holster for a couple of weeks now, and nothing's happened. In fact, I'd just about forgotten about it—until yesterday—when some goon stepped on my toe in the elevator of a very tall building (I was getting paid a buck to deliver a package) and I snapped. But that was the exception that proves the rule.

Now, most people would probably peek inside the package—pornographic pictures?—but I'm different. I didn't look. I would have liked to have looked. Being the exception that proves the rule is not easy, let me tell you.

If you asked them, most people would probably describe me as somewhat delusional, with paranoid schizophrenic tendencies—but not me. When asked (by the U.S. Postal Service employee administering the qualifying exam), I described myself as a former office manager looking to expand my horizons. Most applicants failed the test, but then, I'm that "exception" guy, remember?

I must be the exception that proves the rule because I simply love working in the post office. Love it. I get there early, I stay late, I sort mail for others, I do everybody else's job for them, I organize parties for practically every occasion, I give everyone gifts—I love love love love love love love love love love it!!! On the other hand, everyone else seems to hate working there. But not me. I love it.

As a rule, Fridays are the gloomiest days in the post office. I'm always cheerful on Fridays, wearing a large bowtie that lights up whenever I press a switch in my pocket. Everyone else is moping around, skulking and sulking and staring murderous stares at each other—saving their most murderous stares for me. I don't take exception, though—hey, I am the exception. It's who I am. I've come to expect it.

In fact, if I weren't the exception that proves the rule I wouldn't be writing this. You see, on my last day at the post office (a Friday), some of my fellow employees approached me carrying a square pink box that was large enough to hold either: a) a small pipe bomb; or, b) a cake. I guessed pipe bomb, pulled out the pistol and sprayed the place with bullets. Most people who fire guns wildly in post offices kill lots of people—but I'm not most people. No one was hurt. Turns out, it was a cake—and it wasn't even for me! Anyway, that was my last day at the post office, and the exception that proves the rule.

You probably wouldn't get up at four in the morning, hop on a flatbed truck for the forty-five minute ride to a downtown produce market, pick up your daily allotment of plastic bags filled with oranges, then go out and sell them on street corners at a dollar a bag, keeping a quarter for yourself—but I would. And, most people who sell bags of oranges on street corners usually don't get offered a publishing deal for their memoirs—but I did.

Most people who write their memoirs usually end them with a brief assessment or summary judgment of it all. But not me. I'm the—you know the rest.

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