Handling the Truth

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- You are not reading this sentence.

Nothing could be further from the truth than what I just wrote. I point this out because it is likely the only time you will ever encounter the phrase "nothing could be further from the truth" and have it actually be truthful. The phrase exists more than 2 million times online, and it is ...Read more

They Veg to Differ

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- When I read the news that an online petition is urging the West Coast fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger to offer a vegetarian burger option, I realized I had a vital question to ask on behalf of you, the public. I got a company spokeswoman on the phone.

Me: So your chain is really named In-N-Out Burger?

Company ...Read more

An Evil Spell

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am lurking on a blog called Lost at E Minor, which describes itself as "a global culture site" for creative people. Specifically, I am reading an essay making fun of all those dopey baristas at Starbucks who misspell your name when they write it on the cup. Here's Allison spelled as "Allerson" and Mark as "Mog." Also, Penelope ...Read more

Not a Pretty Picture

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am not a handsome man. The caricature of me that generally accompanies my online chat for The Washington Post, drawn by Eric Shansby, depicts a comically disheveled, mop-headed, pasty-faced, pudgy, bulb-nosed schnook, and it is actually quite flattering. In short, I am under no illusions about my appearance. Stretching mightily ...Read more

A Man of Distinctions

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Behold: A new installment of Small But Important Distinctions in Life.

[The n-word] vs. "the n-word"

The word suggested by the bracketed phrase is a racial slur, whereas the phrase in quotes is what people say when they want to reference the racial slur without causing offense. It doesn't work.

"The n-word" tries to ...Read more

Yucks for Bucks: Gene Revolutionizes Panhandling

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I'm sitting at my dining room table, counting out a tidy pile of cash generated under a bold new business model of my invention; I am feeling the way Henry Ford must have felt when he saw that first assembly line rumble into action.

I just made $71 in a little more than three hours of easy, skill-free work, which extrapolates to ...Read more


Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am afraid to look at my mail. Literally. Just moments ago, I went to the mailbox, started to open it, stopped and then went back inside to write this column. I'm pretty sure there is something bad in that box, and I'd rather not confront it just yet.

I blame my daughter. Last Christmas she bought me a membership in Costco, the ...Read more

Sex, Drugs and Cock and Bull

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I no longer answer my phone if I don't recognize the number of the caller. It's the only way I can try to avert Pharmageddon.

Pharmageddon is my term for the hemorrhage of spam calls I have been getting from an online drug store. It has been phoning me six to eight times a day, and has been doing it for months. The caller is ...Read more

True Grit: Gene Plays Dirty in His Attempt to One-Up Dave Barry

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- It's been nearly 30 years since I first met Dave Barry, hired him and became his editor. I then watched with pride and pleasure as my good friend went on to become a nationally acclaimed columnist, best-selling author, sitcom character, rapacious plutocrat, etc. Eventually, I was so filled with pride and pleasure that I considered ...Read more

Gene's True Calling

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- This week, more of my Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the plight of the beleaguered customer-service representative.

Kellogg's Raisin Bran

Me: You can buy boxes of your product in lots of different sizes. Some are the size of a bar of soap, others the size of an attache case. Yet both say they have "two scoops" of ...Read more

Oaf of Office

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Jan. 20, 2017, the inaugural address of Donald John Trump Sr.:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Comrade Putin and my fellow white Americans:

We have many challenges ahead of us, beginning with the stock market, which as you know cratered the day after the election because, finally, the country woke up to...Read more

Getting to the Bottom of Things

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am going to use my journalistic skills to clear up some questions based on puzzling facts I have recently encountered:

Is it true that millennials are incredibly lazy people who should be horsewhipped to within an inch of their lives?

This question was based on a report that millennials are not buying breakfast cereal ...Read more

Stray Thoughts

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I'm going to tell this exactly as it happened.

My neighbor Tom is an amiable man who is often out on his front porch when the weather is nice, and that is where he was the other day as I was walking by. He said something to me, but I didn't hear it over the screaming.

A half-dozen mockingbirds were standing just out of arm's ...Read more

Funny? Of corpse it is!

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- A few weeks ago, I wrote about getting a solicitation from the AARP, a fine organization that makes you feel ancient and decrepit every time you hear from them. As always, it took me a few days to recover, but eventually I deluded myself back into thinking I am a rare specimen of middle-aged health, vitality and vigor, which is ...Read more

Do You Want Flies With That?

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I was at the market, shopping for lamb chops. All of them had crew cuts -- they were trimmed super close. Also, there was no marbling. These were round and plump and uniformly red, like Julia Roberts' lips.

"Wow, they're really lean," I said to the butcher.

"Yeah, I know!" he said, smiling.

"But fat is what makes meat ...Read more

Paws in the Game

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- One of the more difficult-to-answer questions is said to be: "What is your most embarrassing moment?" That's because the brain tries to forget particularly humiliating things and, over time, it often succeeds. Unfortunately I have no problem answering the question, because my most humiliating thing happened just a few days ago.

My...Read more


Humor / Below the Beltway /

Editor's note: A version of this column originally ran in 2001. Note the nature of quoted language in 12th and 13th grafs.

WASHINGTON -- I once attended a 10-hour personal empowerment extravaganza by famed self-help guru Anthony Robbins. It changed my life.

I have learned the value of perseverance -- namely, that no matter how bored one...Read more


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