Rejected Writing: School’s Out Fo’ Summa

I have an announcement to make: Gerber + Enfamil think I’m havin’ a baby. To the tune of several direct-mail coupons and full-size sample packages arriving at my door.

(Important sub-announcement: THEY ARE INCORRECT. FOR SURE.)

Either somebody is pranking me or the Almighty Advertising Algorithm has gotten some shit comically wrong.

I don’t know how to stop it. To my knowledge, there’s no “Click here if you are officially not pregnant” box I can check. (Though I’m sure our government is working on it. Any day now. Blessed be the fruit.)

Anyway so that’s a zany anecdote about my life and here’s a rejected piece of writing that loosely relates to it! (lol blogging.)

I wrote this last year, late-summer/early-fall Back To School time, and sent it to McSweeney’s. At least this one gave me some variety in the rejection response:

“Much to like here, but the laughs never quite takeoff. Thanks for the look!”

Wow. That’s…helpful? Not sure I, personally, myself, go to McSweeney’s for a takeoff of laughs. It’s more of a “heh. that’s funny.” intellectual humor than “haha I am actually laughing real laughs right now” moment, but also: What the editor says goes. (Weird, right? All of our aspiring comedy writer fates rest on the sensibilities and daily mood whims of one dude? Ain’t that just life.)

*Since I’m negging hard, I feel like I should share a true lol-worthy piece from McSweeney’s that I love the most: Client Feedback On The Creation Of The Earth. (It’s a treat. Trust me.)

And now mine. Don’t expect laughs. You’ve been warned.

Crayons: Back to school shopping for people with no kids

Back-to-School Shopping List for People with No Kids

  1. Kleenex, 1 box – You’re an adult, dammit! Get 3 boxes while you’re at it. One for the bathroom, bedroom, and even the living room if you’re up to it. Allergies are no joke.
  2. Sharpies – For your bullet journal, as if that’s a thing you’ll keep up with this time. That’s cute.
  3. Spanish Language Dictionary – You really should brush up if you’re going to make it to Barcelona in 2019. That bucket list ain’t gonna cross off itself.
  4. Tape – Always good to have on hand next time you have to wrap another g.d. baby shower present.
  5. Calculator – For the annual whimsical tabulation of what your tax savings would be with hypothetical dependents.
  6. Notebook paper – Just kidding. No adult ever needs this again. Ever.
  7. Crayons – This one is also a joke. Clearly. Is there anything more useless than a crayon for the job of putting color on a paper surface?
  8. Well, maybe colored pencils. They’re like if whispering were an art supply. Charlatans.
  9. Get yourself some markers. And some self respect.
  10. Five Star notebook – Because you assume these are even still a thing? Who’s to say, really; you haven’t been in school since the mid 2000s.
  11. Pencil sharpener – Just like your ovaries, this is an item you don’t really need, but it’s nice to have around just in case.
  12. Pencils – I mean, yeah. For Saturday morning crossword puzzles.
  13. Paper towels – What if you spill your coffee? Which you’re enjoying all by yourself for as long as you please, interrupted only by the “are you still watching?” Netflix prompt. Btw, have you SEEN Somebody Feed Phil? Ugh. So great. (And it’s giving you the travel bug again. Thailand, too?! Yes, please!)
  14. Passport – Might as well get it updated if you’re near that 6-month window. Just in case that last-minute European-or-Asian fall trip comes together.
  15. Scissors – Like the sharpest, pointiest, most dangerous ones you can find. Leave ‘em in an easy-to-reach drawer⁠—or hell, right on the counter⁠—just because you can.
  16. Protractor – The pointy end can double as a corkscrew, in a pinch. (Nope jk – That’s a compass. Can you imagine needing to know the difference, at this point in your life?!)
  17. Sticky notes – To remind yourself not to go to Target on a Saturday in August. Because you don’t have to. That place is a ZOO.

Rejected Writing: Cards Against Humanity

When I shared my first rejected writing post a month ago, I completely forgot to list one! **cracks knuckles like a cartoon maestro, breathily exhales on them, rubs them on shirt…all the knuckle gesture clichés…** That’s right: So many people and places (don’t) want to pick up what I’m throwing down, I easily lose COUNT, son!!

Last summer, Cards Against Humanity—aka The Party Game of the 20-10s aka NSFW ‘Apples to Apples’ aka smart internet stunt factory (…I mean, if you don’t know what CAH is, this post really isn’t for you. It’s okay. You’ll be fine.)—put out a call for contributing writers.

More than one person shared the link with me, so I couldn’t not enter. Plus, once I started looking at the world through CAH-colored glasses, card ideas showed up everywhere. (Fun how our brains work that way.)

And I did it! Here’s proof!

Cards Against Humanity rejection

The assignment was simple: Come up with suggestions for 5 Black Cards (the questions) and 15 White Cards (the answers). As predicted in the auto-reply email above, I never heard from them again.

If any of the cards below show up in a future expansion pack, the next time you find yourself at a party where “oh, I guess this is happening again…okay sure,” I want you to marvel at the formidable power of coincidence and the undeniable phenomenon of parallel thinking.

There are no new ideas. Mark Twain said that I think. (“Some Dumb English Major Quoting Mark Twain” would make a just-okay white card. The kind that you keep in your pile until you absolutely have to use it. Like, your other choices are a little too ironically racist.)

Cards Against Humanity

White Cards

  • The Lisa Frank Panda living his truth.
  • The exquisite pain of 1,000 McSweeney’s rejections.
  • A Magnum™ condom filled with Goldfish® crackers.
  • Speaking in tongues.
  • Young Joe Biden.
  • Pooh Bear’s chubby yellow dick stuck in a beehive.
  • Really fine people on both sides.
  • The one white card you never want to use.
  • Oprah’s insatiable love of bread.
  • School picture day.
  • Stefan Urquelle.
  • Front butt.
  • That beautiful bean footage.
  • The healing power of John Krasinski’s beard.
  • Youth Pastor side hug.

Black Cards

  • You is kind. You is smart. You is _______.
  • My mom’s secret Pinterest board is full of _____.
  • Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see _______.
  • Take me to ______ or lose me forever.
  • When the youths stopped eating Tide PODS®, they moved on to ______.

Rejected Writing: You Never Forget Your First Time

Helluva news day here in Missouri. I have 1,000 things to say and also want to say nothing at all. Somewhere in between those two extremes, I feel like sharing this list I wrote in my Second City satire class two years ago.

It’s the very first thing I submitted to McSweeney’s, which means, of course, it was also my very first NOPE: “Appreciate your considering us for this one, but I’m afraid I’m going to pass.” **Italian Chef Kiss Gesture** Pure uncut rejection. Soak it up. Put it in a jar, then open it and have a nice long whiff the next time you want to feel extra bad about yourself. Hurts. So. Good.

Anyway. I wrote this piece to poke a little fun at abstinence-only sex education and the True Love Waits culture I grew up in as a conservative Christian kid in SWMO. (Which, oh boy did I ever. I could say 1,000 things.) 

We could all use a laugh today. Why not laugh at this.

True Love Waits Dates

True Love Waits Dates: Abstain From Sex, Not Fun!

Mini Golf!

This activity was made for date night—low on temptation but high on fun! Be cautious: Bending over that many times might cause him to think impure thoughts. Politely ask your date to pick up the ball for you. But don’t say “ball” and whatever you do, don’t pick a blue one.

Ice Skating!

This one’s a no-boner no-brainer: A few laps around the rink can literally cool your urges, plus all that awkward flailing is an Olympic-size turnoff. Hot tip: make sure your outfit isn’t too short, too tight or too sparkly—anything that might remind your date of ice dancing, the sexiest of all sports.


Nothing blows off the steam of sexual tension like physical exertion with no actual person-to-person contact, and also wearing rented shoes. Other people’s feet: Gross. Careful: Avoid making jokes about fingers in holes. Dirty jokes are the devil’s playground.

Worship Sesh Group Hang!

Oh-M-Gosh, you guys. It’s so fun to sit in a circle in Corey’s parents’ basement and praise the Lord on a Friday night! Just don’t stare too closely at Corey while he plays acoustic guitar. Sinewy forearms are also the devil’s playground.

Theme Park!

There’s no cuter date than a theme park: cotton candy, carnival games and, my favorite, the RIDES. It’s easy to take your mind off sex while you’re sweating and screaming til you almost can’t catch your breath. And when it’s over, you can’t wait to do it again!

School Dance!

JK. The only thing more arousing than ice dancing is actual dancing. Like our youth pastor always says: You can’t “save room for Jesus” if you’re burning in hell.


Probably the only safe way to sit on a blanket together, a picnic is a super chill time to bond with your boyfriend. It’s important to practice safe snacks, so avoid sexy foods like hot dogs, bananas, strawberries, chocolate, whipped cream, goldfish crackers…know what? Maybe food is a bad idea. Sit on a blanket and talk about how fun it’ll be to picnic once you’re married.

Movie Night!

Why not invite your small group over for movie night? This way you can keep the lights on and fast-forward through any brief nudity or sexual situations. Hollywood wants to get you pregnant, so you have to be on your guard. Even Disney movies aren’t safe. We tried watching Frozen and I couldn’t stop thinking about Meryl Davis and Charlie White looking deep into each other’s eyes during a difficult step sequence. I felt guilty for days.

Under-the-shirt, over-the-bra stuff in his parents’ van!

After you’ve been dating for a few weeks and establishing healthy boundaries, it’s cool to let yourselves grow your relationship through a little one-on-one time in Roger and Sheryl’s Aerostar. Turns out, the Bible doesn’t say anything about dry humping! Crazy, right?