"Duddy, you're a new intern here at Cracked, right?" said my mentor, Cracked editor Alex Schmidt (also my best friend at Cracked, my friendtor). He took a seat next to my desk.
"Well, yeah, I've been working here for months now," I said. "We talk every day, and from our conversations I internalize life lessons that make me become not only a better intern but a better man."
"Right, I've been meaning to talk to you about that. I don't know where you get this 'internalizing life lessons' stuff. Like, there aren't profound life lessons to be had here. This isn't a hospital or a war zone. It's just a comedy website. Do you understand?"
"Loud and clear, best bud."
"And please, please stop saying that I'm your best bud," Alex wisely reminded me. He was right. We were more than best buds. We were professionals. Profriendssionals, even.
"Look," he continued, "my annual Cracked Halloween costume party is tonight, and I need help setting up."
"Yes, I'd love to go!"
"No, not go. Help out. Hold the door. Check coats. I need you to get the ice and the candelabras. A good Halloween party has plenty of candelabras."
"Do I get a plus-one?"
"Will you be my plus-one?"
As he walked away silently (the ultimate sign of being into an idea), I felt total glee, for I knew I was set to spend the night at Cracked's spookiest party ever. My only problem was that I had nothing to wear. Luckily, I still had shirts from the Cracked Dispensary to put together a last-minute Halloween costume. It was just a matter of picking the perfect one.
"Is this the right look for the party, do you think?" I asked.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Dan Duddy. The intern. I write the T-shirt promo posts. You know, the guy who sits across from you."
It's funny how when you're so close with a person, all you need is a gesture to understand them. Tom told me, "Duddy, I know you'll do great things here. You are a son to me," and he said it all with just one shrug while turning away to continue his work.
"Thanks, Tom, but what do you think of me wearing this to Alex's party?"
He turned back. "I don't know, guy. If you want to wear a T-shirt to a costume party, then ... Jesus Christ, what is that?"
Tom had spotted the Care Bear I'd gutted and filled with prop blood. I'd stolen the prop blood from our zombie series that, unfortunately, had to be canceled due to us running out of prop blood. I clutched it proudly to my chest.
"Momma, I was so scared, momma."
"It's close, but I think you can do better, my son," Tom said, by slapping the bear out of my hands and running away with his things.
This time, I went over to Bridgett Greenberg's desk. She works in the video department and started at Cracked around the same time as I did. Basically, if Tom is like the Dr. Cox to my John Dorian, then she would have to also be the Dr. Cox to my John Dorian.
"Are you going to Alex's Halloween party?" I asked her.
"Wait, Alex told you about that?"
"Yeah, of course, he's MY MAIN MANager. Why wouldn't he?
"Well, Alex told me specifically not to tell yo-"
"So, what do you think of my costume?" I said, giving a little spin.
"That's a T-shirt."
"A spooky T-shirt. Do you get it? Mario and friends are having a seance. And they've summoned Boo."
"Duddy, why don't you just get a costume."
"This is my costume." I gave Bridgett my spot-on Boo impression.
She backed away and almost tripped over herself out of delight from our conversation.
"Sorry, I have to go do intern stuff. Bye."
"Wait," I called out after her, "they still haven't told me what any of that intern stuff is. What do I do here?!"
But just like Boo chasing Mario, she knew better than to turn and face me.
With Bridgett busy, I approached Randall Maynard, the lead designer at Cracked and the guy whose desk is right next to mine. Some would say he's my desk buddy, but really, he's the Dr. Cox to my John Dorian.
"Slick design, right? Heeeeeeere's Duddy!"
"OK, Duddy, I'm going to stop you right there."
I put down my hand ax. Randall pulled my chair out and motioned for me to take a seat. I knew this was about to be an important life lesson, because suddenly I could hear The Shins playing in the background (i.e., John Shin from accounting brought his infant son to work and was playing with him behind us). Luckily, I was able to play it cool.
"RANDALL, IS THIS ABOUT TO BE AN IMPORTANT LIFE LESSON?"
"Duddy, first of all, wearing a T-shirt to a Halloween party isn't the same as a costume. Yes, placing a Muppet in The Shining is a swell joke for a T-shirt, and yes, it's probably a perfect choice for casual wear. But not for a Halloween party, because, again, that's what costumes are for."
"I'm glad you addressed this. This was a teachable moment."
"No, it wasn't. And we work in an open office space. We all see you walking around asking people about your shirt and then taking your shirt off and changing into a new one. Go to the bathroom to change, or better yet, stop asking us what T-shirt to wear to a costume party and do your work or something."
"Hey, I needed that. Thanks desk buddy. Woogidy wooogidy woogidy woogidy," I said, doing our secret handshake inspired by the hit show Rocket Power, our special twist being that, while I do the finger-twirling, Randall holds his head in his hands and silently weeps.
I decided where I went wrong was not asking the opinion of my best friend and sensei (my friendsei), Alex Schmidt.
"Hey Alex," I said, jumping out from behind Alex's desk, brandishing a bloody knife. "It's a Shy Guy mashed with Jason Voorhees T-shirt! I'm thinking this will really kill at your Halloween party."
Alex didn't laugh, probably because he couldn't hear me on account of being knocked into semi-consciousness from falling over backwards due to knife-terror. I leaned in to tell him my joke again. Tom, Randall, and Bridgett hurried over.
"Goddammit Duddy," Tom said, in a good way. "Go get help."
"OK, OK, but first -- good shirt, right?"
Tom grabbed me with both hands by the collar and lifted me with enormous strength.
"You know what, pal?"
"What?" I trembled.
Tom ran his thumbs between the folded bunches of shirt.
"Wow, this is pretty soft." Tom set me down. "The thread quality on this is sensational."
"Yeah," everyone agreed, touching the fabric. "Solid shirt."
Alex moaned in agreement before passing out, presumably out of excitement that I had finally found the perfect costume for the best Halloween party ever, and thank you, this has been my inner monologue.
Our bodies are changing.
Many of today's celebrities have some real surprises in their family trees.
Everybody loves a good old-fashioned meltdown.
Fictional love triangles are always a rigged game.