Tag Archives: parenting

Sleeping In

Sound asleep.  That was me until my alarm started beeping and bonking.  My first emotion of the day was disappointment.  Here’s why.

It was Saturday.  A day to actually sleep in.  Nothing to do.  Sleep until your body says done.  These days, my Saturday-sleep-in is usually cancelled because I’m a professional chauffeur.  My teenage boys need to be at the school for something or on the fields for something else.  And I am the driver.

I guess I’m not really a professional.  That would imply that I’m getting paid for my services.  How many professional chauffeurs drop their clients off and then have to fork over five bucks so that their clients can buy a drink and a hot dog?  I’m guessing “none” is the answer.  But how awesome would that be?  A stupid chauffeur that pays you.

“Sir, we have reached your destination.  Let me get the door for you.  And sir, here is your tip.”  The driver hands you a five-spot.

“Shouldn’t I be tipping you?”

“Oh, is that how it should work?”

“No, your way is good.  But now I can’t believe that you actually got us here safely.”

“Are you calling me stupid?”

“Sort of.”

“Oh.  Alright, here is five more dollars.”

Back on track.  This Saturday I had nothing planned.  No morning events at all.  Boys sleeping in like the good little teenage slugs that they should be.  But there was my alarm—yelling at me like the angry little chunk of electronics that it is.  Rude really.  I rolled over to shut it off, cursing it the whole time.  Bad electronics.  Stupid electronics.  If I had any water left in my nightstand glass you would become smoking electronics.  Who makes the mistake of setting the alarm on a Saturday?  People with evil electronics, that’s who.

With the disappointed emotion in full swing, I turned off the alarm.  Silence again.  Relax.  I can get over this situation.  I can find sleep once again.  And just as I was returning to the dream world, it occurred to me.  It hit me like a ton of bricks—which is a really odd figure of speech.  How unfortunate do you have to be to get hit with a ton of bricks?  Where do you need to be standing to have this happen?  They probably don’t come flying in from the left or right.  They most likely would have to fall from above your head.  My recommendation is to avoid placing yourself just below any apparatus that is holding a ton of bricks—regardless of how stable it looks.  Do not stand below any congregation of a ton of bricks—ever.

So yeah, it hit me.  Today isn’t Saturday, its Friday.  A ton of bricks, landing on my face!  I have to get up for work!  Crap, this is far worse than I originally imagined.  Oh electronics, you are way smarter than I give you credit for.

Hey wait a minute!  Did I really just shut off the alarm?  I should have pushed snooze!  Oh electronics, please magically reset your alarm.  I didn’t mean to shut you off.  I’m sorry I called you names.  You’re awesome electronics, really.  I’m way too groggy to fiddle with your buttons right now.

Now I have to get out of bed without taking my first-thing-in-the-morning-nine-minute-nap.  Now I have to pretend that I have the ability to snooze and wake up after nine minutes automatically—all by myself.  But I don’t have the skills!  This is horrible.

And then I found myself standing on my feet.  I have only the electronics to blame.  Idiot electronics.

Buy my silent book.  It’ll let you sleep in.

Diapers and Wipers

I think its time to give you another sample from my book.  A fellow blogger recently passed through this section.  She then repeated it to her mother and they both had a good laugh.  So in summary, my book has the ability to bring you and your mother to a new level in bonding–a real relationship builder.  No need to thank me, just buy the book.

As a father raising infants and then toddlers, I was always looking forward to the day I no longer had to change diapers. I can recall other parents mocking and laughing because their kid was just one stage ahead of mine. They were done with diapers. I was still doing the changing thing. And then when the day finally arrived and my boys were done with diapers, I realized that I was not done cleaning up turds after all. It’s a little secret that nobody wants to tell you in advance. After you’re done with diapers you still have a good year or two of a little voice yelling from behind the bathroom door, “daddy, wipe my butt!” My mother (the Grandma in the next status update) told me this story and I had to share it. Mainly because misery loves company—especially when wiping dirty little butts.

September 16, 2009 at 8:00 am

Marcus Matherne: My niece yells from the bathroom, “Grandma, wipe my butt!” Grandma says, “You’re old enough to do that yourself.” She yells back, “But if you do it, I don’t have to wash my hands.”

Absolutely brilliant.

Buy my book–and no I won’t wipe your butt.

Pardon Me Please

Let’s just jump right in.  Shall we?  Everyone passes gas.  It’s natural.  I get that.  What I don’t understand is why certain children need to be taught the do’s and don’ts of letting-one-fly.  The children that I am referring to may or may not be related to me.  I clarify that in order to protect their identity and perhaps their embarrassment.

The other day the four members of my family were driving in my car.  Or maybe it was two other children—I can’t say for sure.  While we were crossing town, someone in the back seat floated-an-air-muffin.  A really big and bad one.  You know, the eye watering variety.  I had to pull the car over for two reasons.  First, I did not want to have to explain to the police officer what happened just before I hit the telephone pole.  Although after hearing of my recent torture, he probably would have let me off without the ticket.  The second reason is that I had to lay down the law on when you can rip-one and when you need to pinch the source.

The lesson started with, “Never, never in the car with other passengers.”  It’s just plain dangerous for the driver.  One day, when you find yourself driving all by yourself, toot-your-horn for the entire trip—continuously if you must.  However, if you’re alone in your car approaching someone who you will be picking up, the butt-sneezing must stop at least five minutes before their arrival.  Moreover, the windows should be lowered all the way down, even in the dead of winter.  Creating the “gas chamber on wheels” and then inviting your passengers in will reduce your total number of friends drastically.

I decided that the lesson should not stop with just the rules of the car.  “Never ever bottom-burp while standing next to your mother!”  I understand that you think it’s funny to do that standing next to the Dad.  I’m not sure why I accept that, but I do.  It’s probably some sort of genetic cross up that began a zillion years ago.  But as for dropping-the-bomb next to the Mom, not so much.  She didn’t carry you for nine long months so that one day you could fumigate her.

If you are in a small room hanging out with people, do not under any circumstance think that you can pull off the silent-but-deadly attack.  Walk to another room for your bum-blast, wait for a minimum of four minutes, and then return to your company.  Return too early and you risk carrying the exhaust fumes with you.

You can safely deliver your fanny-bubble while standing in line at an amusement park.  While waiting for your favorite roller coaster ride, the outdoor breeze should conceal your dirty-little-secret.  However, if you are standing in line at the grocery store, keep your talking-pants in check.  “Honey, I think you might have picked up a bad cabbage.”

I’m sure there are countless other rules.  The scenarios in which these children will encounter over their lifetime are probably immeasurable.  Although being a good father, I believe I laid out a good foundation for understanding when it is appropriate to cut-the-cheese and when you should mute the trouser-trumpet.  My work here is done.

Buy my rose smelling book.

Swearing

I’m going to crank up the parental guidance just a bit for this blog entry.  Just a bit anyway.  Maybe this one will earn a strong PG-13.  You’ve been warned, you big bastard.

Swearing is on the rise.  You’ll find a cuss here and curse there.  There is swearing on television, in books, and in movies.  You’ll find it in the schools.  You’ll find it on the streets.  You might just find it in your own kitchen…

When my children were still too young to be introduced to foul language, they learned a few of the whoppers on the bus.  On the kindergarten bus.  So our lesson to them was the same lesson that we give them today.  It’s ok to swear and cuss.  You might be frowned upon if you deliver it in the wrong setting.  You may be judged as unintelligent.  But what is never ok is to use words to harm another person.  Calling someone “stupid” is far worse than talking about a bitchin’ car or talking about your shitty day.

Back to the swearing in the kitchen.  My wife had this talk with my two boys.  I was upstairs and they were sitting at the kitchen table.  After she had them on the right page and understanding the difference between needless swearing and hurting someone’s feelings, she wanted to help them get it out of their systems.  They started chanting “shit, shit, shit, shit.”  And it wasn’t a quiet chant either.  I walked down the stairs to be greeted by the “shit shit” chant.  My two boys, four and five years old, were chanting “shit, shit, shit” with the biggest grin on their sweet little faces.  Precious.

Who’s up for a little analysis?  When someone disagrees strongly with a situation, you might get to hear “that’s bull shit!”  How does that make any sense?  Its bull shit?  Like an actual pile of bull shit?  I don’t see the correlation.  If I was walking down the street and saw a real live pile of bull shit, I wouldn’t think “hey, that pile of dung is just so incredibly out of line with reality.”  No, rather, I would think, “hey, gross.”  And then I would no doubt watch where I was stepping.

“Someone just stole my wallet!  Man, that is some serious fecal matter produced by a full grown steer!”

The term “bull shit” is completely arbitrary.  You have a scenario that you are disappointed with and you claim it to be bull shit.  Why?  Why not something else equally as arbitrary?

“Someone just stole my wallet!  Man, that is some serious squirrel piss!”  Maybe that’s not gross enough.  Not likely to draw flies.  How about this?

“Someone just stole my wallet!  Man, that is some serious pig intestines!”  No, I guess bull shit just works better.

Ok, one more.  Douche bag.  In my life, I have not had the opportunity to find myself in contact with many douches.  What I am saying is, I am no expert in the field of douchology.  But I think that it’s been a long time, if not never, since there was a bag involved in this process.  I think the right term would be bottle or canister.  I think what I would like to see is a change.  I like the term bag.  I can work with that.  But let’s use something that actually has a bag involved.  How about an enema?  Would that would use a bag?

“I can’t stand that guy.  He is a real enema bag.”

But remember, it would be wrong to call someone a name.

Haven’t bought my books yet?  That’s bull shit!

Do you smell that?

My boys are both running cross-country for their school team.  Since they are only fourteen months apart in age, they landed on the same team this year—the seventh and eighth grade team.  Our school district is insanely large.  Each of their classes has over one thousand children.  It’s a wild amount of organized chaos.  The cross-country team this year has about sixty boys on it.  More organized chaos.

Since the team practices immediately after the school day, it works out conveniently for me to pick up them up on my way home from work.  A problem arises when the weather is hot.  No, it’s not a problem with how well they did in the heat during practice.  No, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest as I pull up to greet them in my perfectly air-conditioned vehicle.  What really troubles me is when two really stinky children get into your car and it’s too hot outside to roll down the windows.  I cling to the possibility that I can somehow fix the situation.  I roll down all the windows except for my own window hoping that my magical pocket of cold air will hold its position surrounding me with all of its goodness.  It doesn’t work that way.  The evil boy stench infiltrates my area and I am forced to open the last window and let the heat bake me.  I drive the rest of the way home with my nose hanging out the window like a dog.

My boy’s summary of today’s cross country practice is the epic story of the dead fish.  Apparently during their run most of the boys got to lay their eyes upon a big dead fish lying next to the path that they were traveling.  The description coming from my boys was vivid and extremely descriptive.  “It was half eaten and had a ton of maggots crawling in and out of it.”  I’m really glad to be on the receiving end of this news worthy story (so much so that I thought you too should enjoy it too).  They continued with the same excitement that I wished they would have for math and science.  “There was bird crap all around it.  And its head was barely attached.  I saw it first and told everyone to come see it.”

Then my other son objected.  “No, I was there first.”

“No, you were behind me.”

“No I wasn’t.  I saw you coming after I was already looking at the dead fish!”

Hey, hold everything.  Stop, stop, stop.  Are my boys really participating in the I-saw-the-dead-fish-first argument?  Who wins at this debate like this?   What positive outcome results in proving your point?  I put a stop to the argument by pointing out how crazy dumb it sounded.  There is no value in being the one who saw a dead fish first.  None.  But the voices in my head could hear what could have been the next couple of lines.

“There is no way you saw the dead fish first.  I have always been best at spotting dead animals from a distance.  I’ve been doing it for almost seven years now.”

“No way!  I spotted my first dead animal at the age of four years old.  Also, Deer Hunter magazine voted me ‘best dead animal spotter of the year’ for the last four consecutive years!  In a row!”

“But I want to be the first dead fish spotter this time!  You were the dead fish spotter last time!”

You have to pick your battles in life.  There are no winners with this one.  I think it was a lose-lose situation.  Actually, it was a lose-lose-lose situation if you include the dead fish too.

Buy my not stinky book.

How to Use a Spoon

I was enjoying a burrito with my wife this evening.  We were at one of those burrito assembly line restaurants and I ordered a burrito that was bigger than my head.  Good stuff.

There was this mother and daughter at the table next to us.  The mother was feeding her little daughter with a fork from across the table.  It was a messy process.  There was a bit of bean and other sauces hanging off of her chin.  It was at that point that the flood gates of memories opened up and came rushing into my brain.  I have to admit to having a real problem when the day came to introduce the spoon to my children.  You know that very young age where you give your kid a spoon and their little not yet developed brains attempt to mimic the actions of the older spoon experienced users.  It usually turns out that at the conclusion of the meal, the spoon is the cleanest part of the area surrounding—because no food actually hits the spoon.

I was a good father to my young children and I continue to be one still.  Ouch!  My shoulder hurts badly when I pat myself on the back like that.  But I must admit to stepping aside and letting the Mom deal with the spoon introduction.  Way too messy for this guy to deal with.  Let me know when they figure out how to actually get food off of their plates and into their mouth without turning the table into a bad finger painting.  Let me know when they can raise food with their spoon without squeezing the food with the other hand.  Let me know when they have the ability to get the food to enter their mouth without hitting their chin or their nose first.

By the way, all finger paintings are bad.  Its paint pushed around by an infant.  Compare the final design to what the “artist” produced in their diaper on that same day.  Not a lot different really.  It’s just harder to hang on the refrigerator.

Back to my point—why doesn’t food spread all over your face bother children?  How can you sit there comfortably with a pound and half of food hanging off of your face?  How can you tolerate the fact that you have apple sauce in-between each of your fingers as well as behind your ears?

So I’m sitting there in the restaurant really being affected with the mess that this little girl is making when I turn and look in the other direction and witness this other set of parents with their two children.  Their children were older—perhaps teenagers.  And there it was, food hanging off their faces.  Disgusting.  Only it wasn’t the children, it was the parents!  I couldn’t look away at this point.  The father looked like he just dipped his chin into a vat of goo.  I’ll bet as an infant, he really enjoyed apple sauce.  Sir, have you seen the napkin dispenser?  It could be your new best friend.

And then the mother—Wow.  Apparently there was no one in her world that ever explained to her that chewing with your mouth closed is an option that you can choose to embrace.  Food was literally falling from her mouth on to the table.  Absolute Neanderthal.

These two people were made for each other.  I felt bad for the children.  They both had their back to me, but only one of two things could have been occurring.  One, they were mortified by their parents impression of infant eating their first year’s birthday cake.  Or two, they also had food on their faces and/or falling out of their mouths.  I’d bet on option number two.

I turned to my wife and said “I love you.”

“Really?  Why are you telling me that?”

“I love you because you know how to put food in your mouth without hitting your forehead and I don’t have to observe each of the phases that food goes through during the chewing process.”

Buy my book (I said that with my mouth full).

Closed The Cover: Interview

The following has been re-blogged by me.  It came from an awesome site found at:

www.closedthecover.com

Thank you AshLilee The Bookworm!

08/03/2012

Do you remember back in May of 2012 when I read and reviewed a little book called “My Status Update Journey” by Marcus Matherne?  It has been one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time and I highly recommend that you buy and read it immediately if you have not yet bought it and read it.  No excuses about not knowing where to buy it either, you can buy it here for about $14.95 and it’s worth every penny.
Now, that being said, a few days ago I e-mailed Marcus and asked him if he would be willing to provide me with a quick interview since I still have his book on my shelf to provide a few laughs during my times of need.  He kindly obliged and his responses were nearly as funny as his book.  If you laugh, chuckle, or even smile during the below interview you should buy his book.
Get to Know the Author 1.
What inspired you to write My Status Update Journey?  I’ve really enjoyed using Facebook over the years.  Writing funny stuff to make people smile is a fun outlet for me.  When I found Facebook’s “download all of your statuses” button and started reading years of my silly entries, I found myself inspired by a handful of my “friends” stroking my ego with some their responses that said things like, “you’re my funniest Facebook friend”, “I laugh out loud at almost everything you write”, and “your statuses don’t suck”.   As I was reading all this downloaded good stuff, my brain was filling in the stories between the statuses.  “Hey, I remember when that happened.  I wrote that status because…”  From there I just started writing and filling in the gaps on what I was thinking then and now.  Somewhere along the way, I changed my writing hobby into a challenge for myself:  Can I get this published?
2. You describe you, your wife and your sons as a very close-knit family. Were they all supportive of your book idea? What was their initial reaction when you told them you were going to turn your Facebook posts into a book?  My entire family has fully supported me pushing this effort all the way to publication.  My wife is so incredibly awesome because she would stand behind any idea that she sees making me happy.  Except for maybe walking sideways along the edge of a bridge.  Because, you know, she would fall off.  My older son will listen to my Facebook statuses and either say “Good one!” or “Dad, you’re so dumb.”  My younger son was very excited about the whole book thing.  He served as my biggest proofreader so any mistakes that you see in the book are clearly his fault—and I have found a handful since publishing it.  Apparently he makes a crappy eleven-year-old editor.  He also was completely convinced that this book would sell a million copies and bring fame and fortune to our family (but mainly to him).  The fame and fortune hasn’t happened yet and he is only recently beginning to understand the enormity of the marketing problem.  I wish he would come up with a brilliant eleven-year-old marketing strategy.
4. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? The best compliment?  I once had a complete stranger walk up to me and say “I wish I was as tall as you.”  I took it as a compliment because he was less than average height but not exactly vertically challenged.  A good looking guy.  He was the type of guy that could have easily have become one of my friends.  He was with this lady who added that she really liked the shirt I was wearing.  Oh wait, you mean a complement about my book!  Sorry, people tell me that they like it.  Toughest criticism (about my book)?  Hasn’t happened yet.  Everyone that reads my works will muster up a smile somewhere along the way.  Or maybe my book hasn’t reached enough of the public to have “the bitter reviewer” crawl out of the woodwork.  I’m almost looking forward to the first “You suck” review.  At least then I’ll know that there is someone out there who doesn’t know how to properly review a book.
5. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?  After you write a manuscript and send it off to a publisher, you quickly learn that any two-bit hack can publish a book.  The real challenge lies in the marketing of that book.  I have not yet figured out how to make the book “go”.  Friends and acquaintances have told me to simply host my own book signing in my own home. I can’t seem to do it. It feels awkward. How do you invite your friends and family to come over for the purpose of selling them your book?  “Say, I’m having a get-together next weekend. Swing by! Oh, and don’t forget your wallet.” Or how about this? “You are cordially invited to attend a book signing in my home. During this event, not only can you feed my ego, but you can give me cash too.”
6. I am aware that your Facebook account is still active, considering that you liked my page, can readers expect a sequel?  I was thinking about killing off the characters in the next book.  And then I remembered that the stories were all about my family.  I discuss the concept with them.  We, as a family, decided that it would not be in our best interests.  I was thinking about compiling my blog stories into more of a story line rather than the random topic jumper that my book turned out to be.  That a good thing though, right?  I’m still kicking the idea around.  For now I’ll just keep writing more and more entries to my blog.  Check back in a year or so.
7. Which came first? That Funny Blog which is hosted on WordPress or My Status Update Journey?  The book was definitely first.  “ThatFunnyBlog” was started as an additional attempt at marketing my book—still searching for that fame and fortune.  At the end of each blog entry, I have a link to where my book is being sold.  I tried to be cute about the link each time by changing the wording to reflect something about the blog entry.  For instance, if the story was about dropping a weight on my head, the link might say “Buy my book because it will not hurt if it hits you in the head!”
8. Your book, your blog, and your Facebook posts are all very funny.  Is your humor hereditary? Is your family funny?  No, I don’t think it’s hereditary, but you can warp your children into having an odd sense of humor.  My son always tells me immediately after I say something funny that he was going to say that too.  I guess that when I’m an old man and he is my age, I’ll be a grumpy and pissed that he is able to reach the punch line before me.  Growing up and even now, my older sister would laugh at anything I would say.  She was an easy audience.  I would say, “I just put food on my head!” and she would laugh and pee herself.  I’m not saying that made me a funny guy, but it helped build my confidence.
9. I am making an assumption here by assuming that you enjoy good comedy. Do you have any favorite comedians who have shaped your humor?  I do!  I wonder how people don’t.  I like the clean comedians out there like Brian Reagan, Demetri Martin, and Jim Gaffigan.  I like a good dirty joke too, and sometimes my writing goes there as well.  But for the most part, I observe so much in my world that makes the voices in my head laugh.  And since I don’t frequent brothels, most of the funny scenarios I find have a good clean source.  I find so much funny stuff in places like the grocery store.  Our local store has an aisle sign stating that you will find “Healthy Living” and “Candy” in the same aisle.  I bet I can write a whole page about the insanity of that! Oh, and do me a favor and make sure Jim Gaffigan reads this.  He is noted in my book and I am patiently waiting on his phone call.
Get to Know the Man
1. What do you do when you are not writing?  My boys are at that age where their sports rule my world.  We are involved with baseball, cross country, wrestling, and lacrosse.  So when the season is in full swing, we are in full taxi mode.  Oh, and I have a day job.  I have an Electrical Engineering degree and there aren’t too many projects that allow me to spout comedy.  Actually there are exactly zero.  Zero point zero, in fact.
2. What was your childhood ambition?  This question makes an assumption that I actually had a childhood ambition.  To be honest, I have such an incredibly poor memory that I can’t actually answer this question.  My mother wasted a lot of effort providing me childhood memories that should have lasted a lifetime.  She could have just put me in a closet and check on me every now and then.  Hey, maybe she did!  I can’t remember.
3. What is your life motto?  Make people smile.  They seem happier that way.
4. Do you prefer a printed book or e-edition?  I still like the paper kind.  You know that scent the fresh paper when you first open a new book?  You can flip through the pages with your thumb and let that smell rush over your face while inhaling deeply.  Your nose just far enough away from the pages to avoid paper cuts.   Try that with a Kindle.  Not so much.  It just smells like whatever your hands smell like.
5. What is your connection to Snoop Dogg? When I wrote about you on my WordPress blog Snoop Dogg came up as a suggested tag, I expect that they know something that I, and your other readers, do not.  Do you care to explain?  Yeah, we go way back.  Recently Snoop came up with this crazy idea of changing his name.  He kept calling me night and day, desperately looking for my approval.  I finally got so fed up with all the voice mails and the constant barrage of text messages, that I said, “Fine!  Change your name.  But ‘Snoop Cat’ sounds dumb.  Go with ‘Snoop Lion’ instead.”

My Son’s New Toothbrush

On my way home from work the other day, I was tasked by my wife to stop and pickup a new toothbrush for my son.  Apparently, he was goofing around with his brother while they were brushing their teeth.  “Something” happened (neither wanted to explain exactly what the something was) and my wife had to extract the toothbrush from the toilet bowl.  Of course, she moved it from the bowl directly to the garbage can.  No stops in-between.

I pulled into some convenient store and began my endless quest in search of a new toothbrush.  I can’t find where they stock them anywhere!  I’m pretty sure that I covered the entire store—not sure how I missed them.  As I am about to start my second pass up and down each aisle, I notice this lady creeping around and seemingly following and watching me.  Whenever I turn around to double check the aisle for the mysteriously missing toothbrushes, she quickly looks away or pretends to have interest in the items near her.  This stalking-like crazy behavior continues the whole while I’m looking for the toothbrushes.

I finally find the toothbrushes and select an appropriate one (hey, maybe this one will float).  I make my way to the checkout at the front of the store.  As I approach the end of the aisle, I notice that my “stalker friend” is making her way down the next aisle.  I can see through some of the displays and she is clearly racing me toward the check out.  As I reach the end of the aisle, I discover about six people in line.  The creepy lady jumps directly in front of me as I was approaching the end of the line.  She was carrying one of those two handled baskets and it was jammed full of all sorts of stuff.  She had hair coloring, cookies, a bottle of pop, several candy bars, a magazine, shampoo and conditioner, and bunch of other things that were out so sight as well.  Great, I’m going to be here forever in line behind the crazy lady.  I give her space.  A lot of space—wacko.  Even while we are standing in line waiting for the incredibly slow kid working the only open register, she is peeking over her shoulder, looking at me, and then quickly looking away.

I can’t take it anymore, “Hey lady, what’s your problem?”  Perhaps that was a bit harsh, but she was really freaking me out.  She apologizes for staring at me, but doesn’t really stop doing so.  “Really?  Why are following and looking at me?”  And then I get her answer.

“I’m sorry.  It’s just that you look so much like my son.  He was tall too.  And your face… Your face has all the same features.  My son was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident about two years ago.  I never got to say goodbye.  I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.  It’s just… never mind, I’m sorry.”

Well don’t I feel like a loser now.  Here is this lady having a rough time with some memories that I managed to stir up and I’m the one barking at her.  With a heavy heart I say to her, “Wow.  I’m really sorry for snapping at you.”

She replies, “It’s ok.  I should not have followed you around like that.”  At this point she is almost teary eyed.  And then she hits me with this request.  “Can you do me a favor?  When I leave the store, can you wave to me and say ‘bye mom’?”

Oh no!  No way!  What and incredible awkward moment.  How weird is that?  She wants to use me to say goodbye to her dead son!  Somehow I uttered “umm… yeah.  Sure.”  A couple of minutes pass by and I’m feeling more awkward than any other time I can think of in my life.  I feel like I’ve been standing in line for hours—even days.  She finally reaches the register for her turn and rings up all her stuff.  My mind is whirling.  She grabs her bags and heads to the door.  She looks back at me.  I raise a hand in a half hearted wave and say, “Bye mom.”  She smiles and disappears around the corner.  Well I’m certainly thankful for that to be over.

My mind is still swirling as I hand the kid at the register my son’s new toothbrush.  The kid scans it, pushes a few buttons, and says, “That will be $77.12.”

I say, “For a toothbrush?!”

“Yeah, your mom told me on the way into the store that her son would be paying for her stuff.”

Click!  The light in my head goes on!  Now it makes sense.  “You guys just got robbed!  Hang on I’ll be right back!”

I leave the register (and my toothbrush) and I dash out the door.  I spot the woman opening the door to her car.  I run over to her yelling, “Stop!”  I don’t even know what I’m doing.  I didn’t do anything wrong and yet I’m thinking about confronting and stopping her.  Just as I reach her car, she slams the door shut.  I reach down and open it again.  She didn’t have time to lock it.  She starts yelling, “Go away!  Leave me alone!”  I reached in and grabbed her shirt up by her shoulder.  She instinctively pulled away and fell over toward the passenger seat.  At this point she was sort of laying down on the driver’s seat and started kicking at me.  While trying to avoid her attempts at kicking me, I grabbed her ankle.  I wanted to pull her out of the car so that she couldn’t leave.  So I’m pulling her leg.  She is yelling.  I’m pulling her leg.  Just like I’m pulling your leg.

I’m pulling your leg!  Get it?  I love telling this story and I so wish I could see your face.  I told this story to my mother years ago.  She actually cried real tears in the middle of the story.  I felt bad.  But just a little bit.

Buy my book, it’ll be less stressful than this story!

Kill the Wabbit

In order to truly enjoy this particular story, you must have experience with Elmer Fudd and his rabbit (wabbit) hunting escapades.  In particular, the “What’s Opera, Doc?” episode.

My wife plants a very modest garden every year.  It produces just enough vegetables to get sick of having those vegetables by the end of the season.  In the past her garden has kicked out squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and carrots.

To paint the picture with a bit more detail, we live in Suburb, USA at the end of a cul-de-sac.  The garden measures approximately one foot by ten feet and is located along one side of our driveway.  One faulty move of the steering wheel while exiting the garage and we can lose half of the year’s crop to tire tracks.  It’s hard to keep tire tracks out of your garden all season long—pesky little critters.  The garden may be small, but it brings my wife joy.  So when asked, I’ll continue to walk around the house to turn on the hose so that she can water her precious plot of land.

One year, she attempted to grow carrots.  The soil conditions in our neighborhood are quite poor.  If you dig down any further than five inches, you’ll hit a mixture of clay and contracted home builder’s yard waste.  You know, random pieces of wood, screws, caulk tubes, and pop cans.  It’s amazing that she can get anything to grow at all.  The carrots that year were hysterical.  They grew downward, as a good little carrot should, and then hit the clay.  Since they couldn’t push through the clay, the only thing they could do was to grow outward and plump up.  She grew “carrot balls” that year.  I didn’t even know that there was a distinction between male and female carrots.

So, the carrots were a no-go.  Scratch the carrot balls.  After all, they probably itch.  (Alright, enough ball references.)  How about beans?  One year my dear wife and her green thumb planted beans.  The beans were looking good until the rabbits moved to town.  Not only did they eat the green beans themselves, but the leaves and the stems too—all the way down to the ground!  They probably wanted the roots too, but they had no little bunny tools to excavate them.  Even if they had the tools, their lack of thumbs would have hindered the effort.  My wife declared war on the rabbits when she stated to boys that she “would pay five dollars for every dead rabbit”.  I think she meant it too.  One of our neighbors heard that the hunt was on and pleaded for us to chase the rabbits across the street to her house rather than kill them.  Perhaps she watched a little too much Bugs Bunny as a kid.

My boys don’t really have the proper equipment to terminate bunnies, but they were on the hunt with their air-soft guns and plastic bb ammunition.   The worst they would be able to do is blind the rabbit with a direct shot to the eyeball.  Even then, the one-eyed critter would still eat all the beans on the left side of the garden while thinking to itself, “Odd, I remember there being twice as many beans here.”  Truth be told, my boys haven’t even come close to killing, wounding, or even bothering the rabbits.  “Ouch, stop that you pesky little boys!”

And then the other day, the chase was on!  While my son was chasing a rabbit around the house, he dove for cover into a gutter downspout (the rabbit, not my son).  My son got a fishing net to cover the opening and we tried to bang on the pipe to scare it into the net.  No deal, the rabbit was moving and we were getting bored, so we left the net in place and went about our business.  Soon thereafter I noticed our fishing net crawling slowly across the yard.  My son walked up to it, bent over, and picked up the net.  Victory was his!  He caught the rabbit and I broke out into a chorus of (using the Elmer Fudd voice) “I killed the wabbit!  I killed the wabbit!  Killed the wabbit!”

I’m hunting wabbit.

Now what do we do with it?  It was this cute little adorable bunny.  We ended up carrying the poor little thing across the street to our neighbor’s yard.  “Remember when you said you wanted our rabbits?  Well here you go.”  We, as a group, let the bunny loose and watched it frantically scurry into our neighbor’s landscaping at which point my son asked, “Do I still get my five dollars?”

My wife paid the bounty.  And that particular rabbit is not allowed to cross the street anymore!

Buy my book, or the next bunny gets it!

Chuck’s Cheese

I read an article recently that explained how the face of Chuck E. Cheese is changing.  If you have children, you know the place.  It’s that building where they serve lousy pizza, take your money for game tokens in exchange for paper tickets, and repay you by rewarding your child with toy trinkets that you will find under your car seats long after your child has started college.  Apparently the old mouse is being replaced with a new mouse.  A more hip, more cool, and more trendy mouse.

I can speculate that Chuck’s business model is struggling to survive and this change is the result of some recently promoted hot-shot who thinks he can build a better mouse trap.  Ok, maybe that’s not the right analogy.  Accurate perhaps, but not appropriate.  Well see now I have this vivid picture in my head of the old Chuck E. Cheese character bleeding from the eye balls trapped in a humongous mouse trap clamping down on his neck while the new mascot stands in the background shaking his head slowly.  And it would have to be a humongous mouse trap—have you seen the size of that rodent’s head?

It’s been years since I was subjected to Chuck’s mad house since my children are a bit older now.  But, when I saw the “mascot changing” news story, the memories flooded in.  We would always happen pick the day where every single parent in the entire state would show up.  The place would be jammed.  There would even be a line at the entrance where the incoming children and parents would have to wait for the same number of crying children to exit the building.  No one ever leaves Chuck’s house without crying a river.

The wait to get in was no doubt due to fire code and building occupancy rules, but I’m also sure the teenager at the door failed to keep the correct count.  While waiting for our turn to enter, I would be observing absolutely no space to walk from one side of the room to the other.  This will be fun.  Pictures of abducted children running through my head.

Once we passed the entrance queue, my little young boys would love to crawl around in that very complex maze of plastic sewer pipes.  That is exactly what they were—raw sewage pipes.  Children see this structure as the greatest indoor jungle gym ever assembled.  As a parent I was appalled–watching the not-quite-sick-enough-to-stay-home children with their faces just oozing out snot crawl around through the same tubes that I was about to send my children into.  It simply looked like a raw sewage system.  You know why those slides are so fast and fun?  They are greased down with several different bodily fluids from multiple children.

Regardless, I would follow my children on my hands and knees through the endless miles of muck filled tunnels and slides.  I think good old Chuck could have made an extra fortune by renting knee and elbow pads to the adults.  My knees and elbows would be raw and bleeding as I desperately try to keep up with my children who were short enough to simply walk through the tunnels.  “Oh crap!  My boys just went in two different directions!”  Maybe one day I’ll be reunited with them again, I think to myself.  Maybe one day.

There was this over-sized ball pit filled with colored plastic balls that my boys loved so much.  It was this large area where kids would romp and play and giggle and laugh.  They would also take turns throwing the balls as hard as they could at each other’s heads.  A wonderful playtime experience.

Once, my son yelled out a very happy noise as he stood in the middle of the ball pit, jumping up and down,waving a ten-dollar bill high above his head that he just fished out of the bottom of the ball pit.  How awesome is that?  Without hesitation, I dove in head first to join him with dreams of recouping some of the college funds that I wasted on Chuck E. Cheese’s institution.  Picture this crazy man sitting in the ball pit among several small children frantically scouring the bottom of the pit with both hands.  And then I hit the jackpot!  I felt a papery object, raised it high in the air, and exclaimed, “I got one!”  Only I was holding a used tissue.

The following noise I made was not a happy noise.  I grabbed my children and flung them and myself out of the ball pit, never to return again.  I think the “E” in Chuck E. Cheese stands for “Effing”.  If it wasn’t a place for children, the business would have been Chuck F. Cheese.

buy my effing book!