Short-Distance Relationship Too Much Work

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Vol 40 Issue 02

First-Generation American's Job Taken By His Father

READING, PA—Miguel Martinez, 48, who immigrated to the U.S. 30 years ago, last week lost his leather-cutting job at GST AutoLeather, Inc. to his 66-year-old father Roberto. "I came to this country in 1974 to make a better life for my family," Martinez said Monday. "But in December, they moved the factory where I've been working for 22 years down to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. I love my father, but that goddamn beaner stole my job." Martinez's $18-an-hour duties will now be performed by his father for $7 a day.

McDonald's Introduces McCrazy Burger

OAK BROOK, IL—Responding to an over-abundance of low-cost beef, McDonald's unveiled the new five-patty McCrazy Burger Tuesday. "A pound and a half of all-American beef topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and a dollop of our new peppercorn sauce," said Melanie Haas, marketing director for the fast-food giant's Northwest region. "We promise you'll go crazy from the delicious taste of 100 percent pure beef, and not from bovine spongiform encephalopathy!" Haas refused to comment on the exact geographic origin of the cattle used in the new sandwich.

Feedback Taking Too Long To Be Positive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Aspiring screenwriter Stephen Helfer, 26, expressed concern Monday that feedback from friend Jason Novak regarding his screenplay The Domino Affair was taking too long to be positive. "I know Jason is a busy guy, but I gave it to him three weeks ago," Helfer said. "It didn't even take me this long to write the thing." Helfer added that he had a hunch it was a mistake to include the fourth speedboat chase.

Grandmother Can't Believe They Let People With Tattoos On Price Is Right

GREAT BEND, KS—Grandmother of nine Sadie Grunfelder, 71, expressed surprise Tuesday when a tattooed contestant was allowed to play "Buy Or Sell" on the long-running game show The Price Is Right. "I can't believe that Bob Barker would let someone with a tattoo up on stage," Grunfelder said from her recliner. "I would think they'd at least make him cover up that terrible thing. What if there are children somewhere, home sick from school, watching this show?" Luckily, Grunfelder's two other means of access to the outside world—the AARP newsletter and reruns of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman—remain tattoo-free.

Iran Moves To Ban Events Of Mass Destruction

TEHRAN, IRAN—After years of refusing to provide information about the country's underground activities, Iranian president Mohammad Khatami surprised the world Monday by announcing that the nation has decided to ban events of mass destruction. "Opening the doors to seismic reform is the first step toward ensuring a safer future for the people of Iran," Khatami announced on Al-Jazeera. "We will voluntarily make moves to ban further production of devastating seismic waves like those experienced during the earthquake in Bam." Even Iranian political and religious hardliner Ayatollah Hashemi Janati lauded the decision, stating that it "will eliminate the need to stretch our hands out for the charity of our warmongering American oppressors."

An Entertaining New Year

Well, 2003 is over. Happy 2004! This is one exciting year for Jackie Harvey. It's a leap year and an election year all rolled into one! What better way to start off a big year than with a big 2003 year-end wrap-up?
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Short-Distance Relationship Too Much Work

GASTONIA, NC—After four months together, sales manager Jack Petrakis, 29, and paralegal Justine Froeger, 26, reported Tuesday that dating someone who lives in the same building isn't worth the hassle.

Froeger and Petrakis run into each other yet again.

"Everyone warned me that these short-distance things never work out," said Froeger, who recently spent a night with a friend in nearby Charlotte just to escape the stifling proximity of her short-distance boyfriend. "But I thought I would be different, that my love would be strong enough to handle the less than 1,000 feet separating Jack from me."

Froeger, who lives in a one-bedroom on the fifth floor of Manning Towers, and Petrakis, who occupies a studio on the fourth, met in the building's laundry room last September.

"We were both down there waiting for our clothes to dry, so we started to talk," Petrakis said. "It turned out we had a lot in common—we shopped at the same grocery store and worked out at the same gym. At that point, I wasn't thinking about the future and how hard this sort of relationship can be."

For several weeks, Froeger and Petrakis enjoyed a protracted honeymoon period, during which the short distance dividing them seemed like an advantage. Friends report that Petrakis and Froeger thought it was adorable to share a mailman, bump into each other near the trash bin, and frequent the same coffeehouse.

"At first, Jack would brag about how cool it was to get a midnight 'booty call' from a sexy girl only three doors down and one floor below," Petrakis' friend Doug Maris said. "He was like, 'I don't even need to change out of my pajamas. I just put on slippers, answer the door, and I'm ready for action.'"

"He's not bragging anymore," Maris continued. "Last week, a bunch of the guys were hanging out at his place when someone knocked on the door. Jack made us all stand there, frozen in place and totally silent, for about five minutes until he could be sure that whoever it was had left."

Both Froeger and Petrakis said they began to experience misgivings about the lack of distance dividing them in early December.

"When I met Jack, I'd just broken up with this guy from Toledo, so I was really looking forward to dating someone nearby," Froeger said. "Now, I realize that having him so nearby that I can hear him whistling every time he uses the elevator isn't an advantage. And I do mean every time he uses the elevator. Seriously, every single time—that same OutKast song."

"Justine is sweet," Petrakis said. "But sometimes it's too much. Once, I stayed at my buddy's house after a late night of drinking. When Justine saw that I hadn't picked up my newspaper from the doormat, she called to make sure I was okay. That's when I started feeling crowded."

In addition to infringing on each other's privacy, Froeger and Petrakis said the close proximity removes a level of excitement from the relationship.

"Part of the fun of getting involved with someone is immersing yourself in a new environment and experiencing new things," Froeger said. "But staying overnight at someone's place isn't as great when you live on the same block. Our apartments overlook the same exact tree."

"Now we have no excuse to make it downtown or anyplace else," Froeger continued. "And believe me, Jack doesn't look for one, either. We just order delivery from the menus we both already know by heart."

Petrakis agreed that "things are getting a little stale."

"Justine and I kiss goodbye in the morning, then I see her 30 minutes later in the parking lot," Petrakis said. "Then I get home, and boom! There she is in the elevator. I don't know what to do. I've told her that I need my space, but her space and my space are practically the same space."

Froeger said she has started to think she needs someone who will "be there for me occasionally."

"The next person I date should live in, say, Chicago or Minneapolis," Froeger said. "There are a lot of nice guys from the Midwest profiled on those Internet dating sites. If I was seeing someone farther away, we could spend a passionate weekend together, but I wouldn't have to sit around at Starbucks for an extra two hours after work until I'm certain I won't run into him."

Petrakis said he agrees that a break-up might be the only answer.

"Next time I'm on the market, I'm gonna get out to a lot of out-of-the-way bars in neighborhoods that I wouldn't normally have any reason to be in, like that area behind the expo center," Petrakis said. "From now on, I'm going to stick with the 50-block rule: no dating anyone who doesn't live at least a 10-minute car ride away."

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