What I Didn’t Accomplish in 2012 and Other Random Thoughts. . . .

Leaves

Raking leaves is a chore. Raking wet leaves really sucks!

In keeping with the counter-culture, Zen-me theme that has roughly characterized my existence in 2012, I thought it fitting to list all the things I had parked in some remote corner of mind with an eye toward actually making progress toward completing same this past year.

What an awful run-on sentence to begin this meandering diatribe, but it’s suitable to the overall theme, so work with me if you’re still reading at this point.

You see, I find it difficult to create a fanciful utopian list of resolutions on New Year’s Eve, because it simply becomes a very organized, detailed game plan to chronicle how quickly I can fall off the Best Intentions Wagon in the coming months.

As we all know, that Wagon is on a one-way trip to Hell Hades a Place Where the Angels Pinch Your Butt instead of high-fiving you. 

I’m not a defeatist.  Just a realist.  So, let’s take a look at what I didn’t accomplish in 2012:

1)  Learn to surf – Evidently, requires a board.  I do have a wetsuit, however.

2)  Complete a triathlon – I hear you have to practice quite a bit for this one. 

3)  Paint the house – Partial success here.  I did manage to repaint exactly three slats on the fence by the side yard.

4)  Attend Christmas Eve church service – See my explanation here.  It’s sad. 

5)  Wax Mom’s van – Have you seen how much sheet metal these things have?

6)  Re-Learn to play the guitar and/or trumpet – Both instruments are still patiently ensconced in their storage cases.

7)  Clean the garage – My God.  The horror.  The horror.   

8)  Start yoga – Daughter promised me we would attend together.  Never happened.  Instead, I ate a lot of yogurt.  It sounds close. 

9)  Placeholder – Something will come to me later.

10)  See Number 9 above.

My accomplishments?

1)  Gave up Sudoku – About time.  It was giving me headaches.

2)  Mowed the grass, semi-regularly.

3)  Paid most bills on time. 

4)  Visited DisneyWorld – Being around terminally happy people is very challenging.  Lesson learned.

5)  Bought one new pair of athletic shoes – Adidas.  Red. 

6)  I found lots of change on the ground – Probably a life lesson here, but I’m not really sure what it is.  

7)  Mindlessly agreed to share blog writing chores with Daughter – “Sure, I can help out.  What?  How often?” 

I think that covers 2012.  Not much there, but I frequently thought about doing much more, if that makes a difference.

And 2013?  I honestly do have two goals, and they are pretty easy ones:

1)  Refinance the house – Been there, done that about five times already in the last ten years.  If we’re headed off a fiscal cliff, I am running there full-speed, baby!  But in terms of a real fiscal cliff, all you have to do is look in my (shared) bedroom clothes closet at the crap there.  I have a tiny corner for my stuff, of course, but I’m okay with it because I wear essentially the same three shirts over and over again.    

2)  Drive with Daughter back to college in January – Can you say “Road trip?”  iPod arguments!  For reference, I present, “Dad, I figured (insert “trustworthy” friend name here) and I could drive my car back to Philadelphia together.  I have AAA.”

Yeah, right.   

Well, that’s about all I can think of for now that’s even remotely germane.  

I should probably close with the following thought:  Instead of a box of chocolates, Life is kind of like the moldering carpet of leaves I have to rake up every year about this time.  On the one hand, we love the shade that old, diseased tree provides during the hot summer months here, but I know that, come Winter, I’ll spend the better part of a good eight weeks picking up the decaying remnants of that umbrella. 

“OMG, have you seen the amount of leaves on the ground?  I think I’m going to clean out the garage first!” 

In the end, you have to take the good with the bad, appreciate whatever it is that you have, and be absolutely sure that Daughter Number Two attends a Public University on the West Coast. 

Yes.  This I believe. 

Happy New Year, Daughter!

- Dad 

 

About these ads

Haters

This is going to look great on someone's car!

“This is going to look great on someone’s car!”

It’s official: I’m famous… enough to be hated! I don’t know if it’s because I have talked sh about some people on this blog, because I drink fancy water, or because I’m just not cool, but somewhere on this big blue marble we call Earth, I have enemies. Enemies who have made their presence known.

As usual, I was running late to work this morning. I had had pancakes and sausage for breakfast but little did I know, the second course would be served all over my windshield in the form of raw eggs. Not only were they splattered all over the glass, the yolks had congealed into a gelatinous mass. No wonder there was a bird sitting on my car when I got outside, he was at a fine dining establishment with air-chilled yolks served on my main mode of transportation, very pricey and rare in this economy. Before I did anything else, I tried to see if there were some sort of divine image to be found in this amalgamation of baby-chicken-jello; maybe this was my sign from God, Buddha, Mohammed etc. that work was to take a backseat today and that I should, instead, reflect inward and examine my life as a new year dawns. But not even a swaddled Baby Jesus was to be found.

One positive aspect of this incident is that these eggers had the human decency to concentrate on the glass parts of my car. There are rips in the canvas top definitely big enough to fit eggs through, but like I said, these were good, decent people who chose not to egg the inside of my car. (You da best!)

Now, this could have been a completely random event that had no bearing on my identity or associations but it makes me feel special to think otherwise. I like to imagine that somebody took the time out of his or her busy day and carefully chose to arrange egg yolks on my windshield as a post-modern art installation evoking Jackson Pollock. These egg-throwers were obviously very well-read and knew I appreciate art, especially as a protest medium against offensive things (such as this blog). If I had to grade the piece, I would give it a 7.54/10.00, mostly for Creative Use of Medium and Materials.

Full Fathom Five by Jackson Pollock aka, He Who Splatters.

In fact, I don’t know if it’s haters any more at all, the more I think about it. Maybe these eggers just didn’t know how to express themselves and chose egg yolks on my windshield to proclaim their love and loyalty. Thank you, haters, I love you too.

Oh, and thanks, Dad, for cleaning it off. You also da best!

Do you think in the olden days they used to egg horses? I should ask my father.

Do you think in the olden days they used to egg horses? I should ask my father.

- Daughter

So Much for the Holiday Spirit. . . . Parking Lot Morons

NorthFace

That color looks great on you! Translation: I hate your old jacket!

Well, it was bound to happen.  The angelic euphoria of the pre-Christmas psyche finally gave way to the post-Santa/bummed out/I feel entirely let down/back to normal crapola existence. 

Actually, it hasn’t been that bad, but when your own entitled Daughter essentially accuses you of “mailing it in” for the holidays, where do you go from that? 

I’ll tell you where — back to the mall!  I’m strangely smug on December 27th because I still have money in my pocket due to the fact I’ve not previously blown two month’s salary on gifts with a shelf-life of about two hours.  That’s not to say, of course, that someone else in the house has done exactly that without my knowledge, but I gave up looking at the checkbook years ago simply because I could do without the stress. 

It’s sad, but I’m generally okay if I go to the ATM and I’m able to withdraw money.  My threshold for financial knowledge and happiness is, admittedly, very, very low. 

So, the sequence for the extended holiday season goes something like this:

1)  Cook Thanksgiving dinner – Spend the next week recovering from the physical exhaustion involved and wondering, yet again, exactly how long gravy lasts in the fridge.

2)  Get my light-hanging/decoration mojo on – Usually happens about a week after Turkey Day, but (famously) didn’t happen this year.  A new trend, perhaps?  Time will tell.

3)  Christmas shopping – For me, I have radically streamlined this bit.  My Significant Other now handles this part 99.9%.  I am able to spend roughly two hours a couple of days before Christmas doing what I need to do in this department, and that includes buying stocking treats for the Dandy Dog!  Awesome.

4)  Attend Christmas Eve Church Service – I mean to do this every year, but can’t remember the last time I did because (of Number 5 below) . . . .

5)  Bag and Sand Luminarias – In a feverish bout of middle-class thrift (some [I know who you are] may even term it cheapness), I spend at least an hour rooting around in the garage on Christmas Eve trying to locate last year’s luminaria bags (Is Baby Jesus screwing around with me?), with the goal of never having to buy another one ever again.  The only issue:  “That one’s looking a little burnt, Dad,” or, “They don’t seem to be all white anymore,” or, “What’s that stain on that one?” 

I can put up with those kinds of comments.  It’s a small price to pay. 

But in the end, what should take all of fifteen minutes late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve typically morphs into two or more hours, which then causes me to be completely unmotivated to complete Item Number 4 above.

6)  Christmas morning unwrap presents, cook massive Christmas Day breakfast (pancakes and such), and then spend the rest of the day cooking massive Christmas Dinner – We did the presents (√), microwaved breakfast (X – m’wave doesn’t count), and went to our lovely neighbor’s house for a lovely meal this year (√).  Yay!

7)  Store Christmas presents (until some later time when they may appear more useful or attractive – frequently never happens) –  March 2014:  “Yep, I’m thinking now might be the time I break out that foot bath massager from ’06!  My dogs are barking.” 

8)  Return Christmas presents – This one’s very touchy, for two reasons — weathering the ire of the “Gifter” (“Oh, that color looks great on you.  The sleeves will ride up with wear.  Everyone wears The North Face – why can’t you?”); and weathering the suspicion of the Muggle Clerk (“This looks like someone’s worn it.  Has someone worn it?  What’s that smell?”). 

Fortunately, I’m a master at dealing with the issues in Number 8 above.  In fact, the older I get, the less grief I seem to encounter — on all fronts.  I suppose most people intuitively feel sorry for a guy with gray hair, wearing shorts in December, and who utters “What?” and “Hunh?” as every third word.  As I’ve discovered, it’s an effective cover for what can essentially be pretty messy business.

But all that leads me to Number 9.

9)  Deal with parking lot morons – Though many of those who know me well will disagree with the following assertion, I have grown much more mellow over the years (no doubt this statement will result in some future blog post from Daughter, claiming an indeterminate amount of emotional scarring from Yours Truly over her lifetime).  Yes, I used to get worked up fairly easily over really inconsequential things — I won’t embarrass myself any further with a laundry list), but for the most part I’m a “turn the other cheek, live and let live, don’t hassle me, man” kind of guy now. 

Except in parking lots. 

I don’t know how widespread the following phenomenon is, but I don’t think I’m imagining that the spaces themselves have gotten smaller over the last decade while the vehicles many drive have exploded in girth.  In our general locality, it’s not uncommon for Uber-SUVs to routinely squeeze into two spaces, rather than the one us lesser mortals in beater Miatas have to use.  I suppose given the overall decline in the driving ability of the Average American woman female Driver, I shouldn’t be too surprised, and I usually just smile to myself and whip into a space farther from the store, appreciative of the extra exercise.  I imagine myself to be very Zen-like in this way.

Of course, I’m not. 

So, last Thursday evening, I have to return a gift jacket for a smaller size (“Hey, you can put, like, six layers of clothes under that thing.  It’s an XL.”)  Useful, perhaps, but I don’t live in Minnesota. 

Because of the aforementioned SUV zoo, I park fairly distant from the Big Box I’m headed for, and as I’m walking toward the entrance, I see a pick-up truck zooming along the access road in front of the store.  It wasn’t an SUV, and it was driven by a guy.  Point taken.

He saw me walking up, and I saw him.  And he wasn’t going to slow down. 

The older, Zen-Me would have acknowledged the situation, nodded internally to Buddha, and high-fived a thousand angels, while I paused and blithely watched him roll by. 

I don’t know where that Zen-Me guy went, however, as I just kept walking, simply knowing the pick-up would slow down and let me pass.  After all, in the United States of America, pedestrians have the right of way, dammit.     

Well, he did very grudgingly reduce his speed and let me pass, but I could tell he wasn’t happy about it.  Perhaps, he hadn’t received that 30-round clip for his M-16 he asked from Santa.  I don’t know.   But as I walked into Sports Authority, he rolled down his window and yelled something to me. 

Wrong night, dude.  Zen-me was nowhere to be found. 

Something tripped inside me, and I simply turned around and launched into a stream of consciousness tongue-lashing regarding pedestrian rights and his general attitude.  Once I said my peace, I continued with my business and went in open front doors of the store.  I had uttered no profanities.

In fact, to be honest, I hadn’t understood a single word the guy in the truck said to me.  I know he was upset, but because my hearing is so awful, I didn’t really have any idea of his actual words.  I do suspect, however, they weren’t “Merry Christmas, Friend!”

I guess not hearing well is, ultimately, very Zen-like.  Or at least it has the appearance of being so.  Or one might imagine that hearing impairment is guiding one along the pathway to Zen-like wisdom.

Or maybe not. 

Anyway, when I crossed the threshold of the store’s doors, the Muggle Clerks were just staring at me, jaws agape.  They had heard the commotion outside and didn’t know what to make of it.

I told them I wanted to swap my XL for an L, and they didn’t have one in stock.  But the guy at the front desk was incredibly helpful, sourced one at another location, and had them put it on hold for me.  It took all of five minutes. 

I don’t know whether he was scared of me, or was just trying to help an older guy wearing shorts in December. 

Time will tell.

- Dad

I Only Drink Fancy Water or, I Drink Therefore I Am

It’s true. I’m too good for tap water, even filtered water has that lower-class aftertaste I so despise. “Fancy water” is a catch-all I use to classify any bottled water that has more than three ingredients on the label other than “water”. Why fancy water? It just makes me feel better and encourages me to make fancier choices throughout the day.

Fancy.

A beverage infused with the sweat of the gods of Mount Olympus!

I should paint my nails… with a gold-leaf overlay and a miniature replica of the Sistine Chapel ceiling on each nail.

I’m ready for a snack… of pickled shark fat cubes with truffle oil. Mm, shark fat. (Rich people totally eat that. (?))

I really need to work out… how I’m going to fit all of these golden rings on my fingers. 

I should make a collage from all of these recycled magazines… so my menservants will have Christmas presents. (Side note: I had to actually look up the plural of “manservant”… #pretendrichpeopleproblems) 

But let’s get real for a second: I know I’m a poor college student. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; nay, there is dignity in the way I refuse social outings in exchange for re-counting the change jingling around in the bottom of my purse (I call it the national anthem of poor people). However, that doesn’t stop me from pretending I was born into great wealth from time to time. Hence, the buying of fancy water.

I will never go back to Poor People Ale aka “water”. Where are the bubbles? Where are the herbal infusions? Where is the label that says, “collected spittle of the Queen of England”? Nowhere to be found and therefore, impotable.

Mmmmm.

Three angels died from dehydration to make this. They donated too many tears.

Also, just so you know, the founder of this particular company (“Dr. Ayala”) has four job descriptions: Pediatrician, Artist, Innovative Cook, and Founder. I kind of want to meet this guy because I imagine he is some sort of Mary Poppins of Beverages. Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.

My marketing campaign pitch for fancy water beverages: “ORGANIC WATER. It’s expensive, yes, but those student loans don’t need to be repaid quite yet.”

- Daughter

Things I Say in Bars: Part Deux

Dont tread on me

I made the mistake of going to a bar again. My experience there made me realize I have not provided enough bar survival tips for emergency-type situations like yesterday night.

My friends and I were enjoying ourselves and catching up at a bar, occasionally pausing to clean up errant wine spittle – the usual.  Of course, you cannot have a nice night without grumpy, arrogant persons bursting your happy bubble. That night, he came in the form of a tall brunette wearing a typical black-button up shirt that as some guys wear. He was with his friend who was wearing an arcade shirt… ace. Anyway, ArrogancePersonified* (A.I.) made a big show of offering his bar seat to my friends who were standing – a nice gesture on the surface, but really a practiced “Nice Guy” move that belied his true intentions: an opportunity to talk to insult us while his very nice, polite friend cringed in horror (rightly so, good man).  A.I. systematically offended each of us on every level: politically, personally, professionally, anything that started with a ‘p’ basically. Philosophically, patrilineally, patriotically, phonetically, paleogeographically, and pantheistically… I could go but I choose to spare you.

He started his tirade by insulting one of the girls for being Mormon. I’m all for equal-opportunity humor: no race, creed, sexual orientation or religion should be safe from humorous jabs, but it seemed a little over the top – and that’s ME saying something was over the top. I would have appreciated it more if he inserted some Hamlet in there but even Shakespeare wouldn’t want to be associated with his witless remarks.

Then, he attacked another friend because she is getting credentialed to be an elementary teacher, her lifelong goal. He went on to disparage her career like she was in charge of murdering the hopes and dreams of all Americans. (That’s probably his job, actually.) Seriously? Lawyers? Okay. Investment bankers? Okay. Teachers? Come on. Do you hate puppies too? Do you purposely step on sidewalk cracks? Do you like grape-flavored anything?

He generally passed over my friend who wore a sweatshirt to the bar. Not because she was in a sweatshirt (well… maybe) but because she didn’t say anything  worthy of his scorn. (BRO HIGH-FIVE!)

Then, when he got to me, he tried to tear down my major. It was the same unsolicited comments I’ve heard before: “liberal arts degrees are useless yadda, yadda, yadda”. He could have come up with something more original. I’ve found things in my bellybutton that were more interesting than what he had to say. My hackles had been raised. I engaged Phase III (which is really serious because it completely skips over Phase I and Phase II – and they don’t even exist). I interrupted him, ripped him down, called him out on his behavior, and then cursed him with black magic (he doesn’t know that part, unless he’s reading this, and in that case, “GO AWAY”.)

Moral of the story: don’t go to bars be ready for anything.

How to Deal with a Bar Patron as Mean as You Are

Occasionally, you will meet your nemesis at a bar like I did. When this happens, I want you to be prepared. Expect the worst, prepare for the worstest.

1) Defensive Maneuvering: Even if the person is of an attractive sort of creature, it doesn’t matter. Shut. Him. Down. If he is attractive, he probably knows it. Let him know that his pretty will not trick you; no, you will not be swayed. You are a bastion of strength and self-control. DO NOT GO TOWARD THE SHINY, PRETTY THING. IT’S A TRAP!

2) Out-Mean Him: A conversation with this person is a ticking time bomb – one of you will be reduced to a mess of tears, you must strike first to avoid this possibility. And when you strike, you must use snake-like proficiency. Only when blood is drawn do you know it’s over. Even then, there is a possibility this person is a Hydra and once beheaded (metaphorically), four heads will sprout in its place. But remember, you are the Hercules of insults, you will defeat the Hydra.

3) Interrupt Him: He doesn’t deserve to be talking to you, make sure he knows your time is money. If possible, interrupt him while talking and yell, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!” And then make a Tom Cruise face. (?)

4) Make Him Question Everything: If he asks for your name, just don’t answer. Stare quizzically at him. He will probably be weirded out. This is good. You are winning.

5) Mine Information: While he is blabbering, mine the information he freely provides. Look for a weakness in his armor. Once you find his vulnerability, leave him with a zinger: “You’re just like your father.” (Not that that’s a bad thing, Dad.)

* Names have been changed to reflect the truth.

- Daughter

Wow! It’s a Little Nativity Scene. . . .

Stockings

Yes. Those are cat stockings. We have lost our minds, but we don’t want to disappoint the cats, after all.

Contrary to Daughter’s Christmas Day post, no one gave up on the holiday this year.  Just look at the stinking photo at the top of this blog. 

Could anyone seriously label us as active non-participants when we hang up tiny little stockings for the cats, for crying out loud?

True, we didn’t get the tree up until three days before the event, and Yours Truly simply could not get motivated to drape the lights outside this one time.  I know that Baby Jesus will surely exact his revenge on me at some later point (known only to him) for this transgression.  It will happen when I least expect it, probably in August, while I’m digging around for yet another misplaced tool in the Clutter Zone known officially as our Garage (which has never, ever had a car parked inside of it). 

I’m okay with that, as many of our neighbors have more than made up for our darkened yard.

What does that mean, you ask?

For context, this year our traditional post-Christmas-meal walk around the ‘hood with the dandy dog revealed that multiple other families in our semi-tidy suburban enclave (like me) completely blew off outside decorations.  In their defense (and mine), this past month has been somewhat wetter than normal — “I see a few clouds over there this afternoon.  Probably not a good idea to hang up the lights today.” 

Yep.  That kind of thing qualifies for an 80% chance of rain in SoCal.

But I also noticed that the hardy few who did manage to get things done — really, really got things done.  This year’s contest revolved around not the amount of wattage you plastered all over the house and grounds, it was how much crap you could cram into the front yard, side yard, roof, entrance way, driveway, etc. 

Now for us, when I’m on a roll, I usually set up the standard Nativity Scene, a couple of (slightly rusty) lighted deer, some rope lights, and if I’m feeling really ambitious, a lighted spiral tree.  I generally am able to assemble and place everything during the course of an entire Saturday, and then I spend the balance of the next 45 days re-anchoring various bits and pieces about a thousand times since even the vibrations from the dog walking in the yard tend to knock most of the stuff  down. 

And you read that right.  Once everything is semi-firmly planted, it stays there through most of Februrary January.  I figure if I’m going to devote eight hours to rig it, the expected return on investment is about six weeks. 

Comments from passers-by turn from, “My, they certainly keep the Christmas spirit alive,” to, “Do these freaks have no shame?  Why hasn’t the HOA sent them a letter?  For God’s sakes, it’s February.  But I do like the Baby Jesus algae halo.” 

But back to the reality of this season and our afore-mentioned neighborly displays.  I’m generally fine with a few Costco/Target/Wal-Mart inspired inflatables/animals/trees/Santa’s/Anime Nativity scenes/candy canes/snowmen/etc., but not all piled together, desperately vying for attention as they sway to and fro, blinking on and off, with the faint danger you might lapse into a synaptic fit if you stare too long.  

It can be nauseous. 

These yards are the artistic equivalent of those empty gas station lot sales filled with Velvet Elvis portraits/carpets/shawls/flags/etc.  Actually, that gives me an idea . . . . 

So, I suppose in some respects we did celebrate the holiday in an understated way this time around.  But we didn’t mail it in, as Daughter suggests.  It was just different this year, because of circumstances beyond our control.  Though I have missed one or two Christmases over the years because I was overseas somewhere, this was the first year one of the kids was not able to make it home.  That was the real change this time around. 

Everyone is also growing up — which means that almost everyone in the family can legitimately drink alcohol at dinner, instead of Martinelli’s Cider! (I had both.)  

And we did have lights. 

Early one evening last week as darkness fell, Mom crept outside in her bathrobe (it was a pajama day for her — I never have pajama days, BTW) and carefully wove a small string of solar-powered lights into the branches of our half-dead dwarf apple tree in the front yard.  It was quite appropriate, because this pathetic little string of bulbs was about as half-dead as the tree they adorned. 

Most nights they light up for about twenty minutes, if we’re lucky.

I was ashamed for us initially, but only momentarily.  The more I thought about it, I became convinced these lights were somehow fitting for the tenor of our celebration this season.  And it was kind of funny, too, but not in a Home Alone sort of way.  Home Alone was a lot funnier.

I also dutifully placed the luminarias on the sidewalk on Christmas Eve, and most of them dutifully extinguished themselves within an hour of lighting (while many, many others up and down the street lasted all night).  Note to self:  buy longer candles or go electric. 

But I still counted the whole luminaria thing as a success for us, since none of our bags caught fire this time around as they had in years past.   

And that Little Nativity Scene I mentioned in the title?  It’s from an old episode of M*A*S*H, where Radar is performing an examination of Colonel Blake’s ear during a physical.  As he peers into the murky depths of the Colonel’s ear, he exclaims, “Wow.  It’s a little Nativity Scene.”  It’s the second funniest line of the entire series.

The first?  Colonel Flagg (the CIA agent) sits down next to Klinger, looks at him, and says, “Hey, up close you’re a guy.”

Klinger responds, “Far away, too.”

So, Daughter, take a break from your post-apocalyptic Bauhausian sculptured perspective of Christmas at home.  It’s all around you; it’s just not the same. 

And don’t forget to clean your ears before New Year’s. 

- Dad

My Family Gave Up This Christmas

Regarding yesterday’s post: my mom, aka the Arbiter of Justice, told me I was being “mean”. Because there is nothing worse than a parent shaking her head slowly in utter disappointment at your actions, I feel it is necessary to say this regarding SheepPeople (officially BlackSheep/BlueSheep): the music video is great, the song is great, and the people in it are [put synonym for 'great' here]. I’m actually friends with one or two of the band members, depending on your definition of “friend” (my definition is exchanging cat photos and we aren’t on that level yet sadly). I’m a Judgey McJudgerson when it comes to things that smell of hipster pretension, but this isn’t that said the Cat in the Hat. The only thing that really gets my goat (or sheep?) is that the band isn’t part of a secret viral marketing campaign for a mattress company… but I digress. If you haven’t watched it yet, watch BlackSheep/BlueSheep’s holiday music video now.

————————————————————————————–

Every year, right around Christmas Eve, my mom threatens to not “do” Christmas next year. It usually happens when we are expecting guests and the house is still in a state of disarray. Not Hoarders-level disarray but cluttery and un-Martha-Stewarty. In spite of her threats, Christmas spirit finds a way to permeate our household; the garlands come out, the lights go up, the creepy Santa sculptures are placed hither and thither, and the stockings that play eerily high-pitched Christmas music are hung on the mantle. The animals in our house usually acquire a holiday-themed bow or two. It’s a precarious process but a few scratches and yowls later, they emerge as furry Christmas angels… intent on destroying me and their fashionable accessories. They care nothing for the sanctity of Christmas and only seek to annihilate anything that has string-like parts, appears to be furry and squeaky-toy like, or smells vaguely of cat-nip – aka every Christmas decoration in our house.  This year though, there wasn’t much for our pets to destroy because my mom followed through with her threat and didn’t “do Christmas”. Our home is an empty cave, devoid of Christmas spirit save for my sister hoarding miniature candy canes in her room.

We actually did put up our Christmas tree… a day before Christmas Eve… but still, it’s up! And my mom didn’t have that Christmas-induced crazed look in her eyes when I asked if she was stressed out so maybe not doing Christmas should be our new Christmas tradition.

My dad also threw in the towel this year. He is the one in charge of writing the family Christmas letter and it usually gets a few chuckles out of me and our nearest and dearest. He didn’t “get around to” sending out the letter last year so this year, he recycled last year’s and then put bullet points at the end with small, one-sentence updates that allegedly encompass an entire year. I feel sad because my accomplishments during this year could encompass an entire book but I got a one-sentence blip instead. I’m kind of a big deal, Dad. Get with it.

My brother couldn’t even come home for Christmas because he’s on-call for work. I guess since he didn’t really give up he is exempt from being a Christmas failure. I’m sad he won’t be home to collect my gift to him: two entire cases of beer. 48 beers, each one individually wrapped. Hah, not. They’re still in their cardboard homes. I plan on throwing a bow on top of the cardboard boxes to make it more festive. It is Christmas after all.

Beer

Merry Christmas. I got you booze.

Little kids can’t really “give up” on Christmas because it is not in their nature. But my sister pretty much did. And she’s not even old and jaded like the rest of us. Well, maybe she is now. When I asked her what she wanted for Christmas she said, “money,” without even looking up from her tv show. Another Grinch moment happened when I opened a little present on Christmas Eve that turned out to be money. The first thing out of my sister’s mouth: “I NEVER GET MONEY.” I viewed this as a “teachable moment” and tried to tell her about the meaning of Christmas and holiday spirit and she gave me the equivalent of a pre-teen middle finger: rolled eyes.

And then there’s me. I love me a good, strong holiday season. But work has been both a time-suck and a little bit of a joy-suck. It’s hard to feel festive when customers don’t understand how lines work. Or when they insult the displays of food you put up. Or when they are grumpy because they have candy canes stuck up their butts. (I guess I would be grumpy too, if that were the case.)

I finally, finally felt holiday joy yesterday morning  when I tried on new boots. Thinking back on it, it could have just been the boots. I like to think it was holiday spirit taking hold of me and not the thrill of participating in capitalism. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t smell or hear anything because I was so congested, I HAD BOOTS. And also Christmas! Of course. Christmas.

After I got my boots, Christmas spirit/capitalism was running through my veins. Or maybe it was the aspirin kicking in so my headache was less distracting. Whatever. Regardless, I harnessed my newfound holiday joy/freedom from my headache and used it to wrap presents. I imagined each present as an art piece – simple yet elegant – but the execution went terribly wrong and resulted in some truly heinous paper travesties. I cut the paper too short in many instances and had to use a patch of scrap paper to cover up the holes. I’m sure a blind orangutan could wrap better.  But it’s the inside that counts. Or so I’ve been told.

"Yeah... nevermind, I don't want that present."

“Yeah… nevermind, I don’t want that present.”

I got my Dad two presents this year: 1) some random car book he wanted and 2) animal hand-puppet temporary tattoos. I’m way more excited about the second one and I think he is too. Seriously, I never have to draw a face on my hand again to make a hand puppet!! I can just temporary-tattoo that sucker right on and use it to talk to customers at my job: “GO AWAY.”

I wasn't joking.

I wasn’t joking.

- Daughter

Have a Very Hipster Christmas (Please Don’t)

hipster dog

Some acquaintances, well, rather, some dropouts people I vaguely know from high school, are in a sort of band-like organization called BlackSheep/BlueSheep, or as I like to call them, BS/BS. (Or as Dr. Seuss Enterprises likes to call them: “A Copyright Violation”.) It pains me to type out the name of the band because it is unnecessarily complex and pretentious. How long did it take for them to come up with that name? Probably forever. And you just KNOW they agonized over what punctuation mark to use between the different sheep types. Good call on the backslash guys, really brings out the colors of the sheep(s). And speaking of colors, I don’t understand the arbitrary hues they chose… I would prefer a more “on trend” color choice like jade green or oxblood (it’s a dark burgundy color, Dad, just so you’re in the loop – you’re welcome). Seriously, just re-name the band, “Oxblood”. It’s infinitely cooler than this bullsh sheep crap.

I’m sure I’ll be hearing from one of the band members soon who will tell me the metaphorical meaning behind the band name: “It captures the childlike wonder of youth as well as the existential crisis one faces during each holiday season.” And then I’ll just tell him to pipe down and keep making my Soy Latte. (Sidenote: these guys are totally the Starving Artists on my Ten Types of Co-Workers list.)

Anywho, a member of the “band” begged me to post a link to their Christmas music video on my blog. Here you are, BS/BS, MERRY CHRISTMAS. Watch the sheep dudes sing by clicking here. I’m sorry to all of my followers who choose to watch the video and hope you have a great holiday season despite becoming both deaf and blind after watching the Five Horsemen of the Hipster Apocalypse (also a better band name than BlackSheep/BlueSheep).

Continuing on with my charitable energies, I also decided I would provide a helpful critique of the band’s music video. The band will be awarded points in the categories of Aesthetics, Musical Stylings, Cats, and Miscellaneous.

Official Critique of RedFISH GreenFISH Wintertime by ThoseSheepGuys:

Aesthetics:

The ugly Christmas sweaters were a nice touch, if a bit overdone. I mean, everybody has an ugly Christmas sweater these days. I don’t know what’s an ugly Christmas sweater and what’s a normal Christmas sweater any more. Was that the statement they were trying to make? Is the whole song actually about how the ugly-Christmas-sweater industry is exploiting sheep? The world may never know.

Lots of interesting facial hair styling going on. If anything, they should all be sporting full beards to bring up images of sheep-like pelts to remind people of their name, “WhiteSheep;OrangeSheep” or “How{Now}[Brown]Cow” or … whatever it is.

7.5/10; Points deducted for lack of beards.

Musical Stylings: Needs more Justin Bieber. I think a cameo of Justin Bieber coming out in a sheep costume would be a positive addition.

8/10; Points deducted for lack of Bieber.

Cats: 0/10; Absence of feline cameos resulted in a score of zero.

Miscellaneous: 10/10; Points awarded for winter-themed dog.

- Daughter

P.S. You’re welcome.

*For the record, it’s a great song and you should seriously listen and give the video a looky-loo.

Christmas Shopping with an Eleven-Year-Old and Other Lessons in New Age Economics

fiveanddime

Yep. I think we have enough for a shiny new pencil.

When I was just a tike many years ago, my Mom would take me to Woolworth’s so I could do my Christmas shopping.  For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Woolworth’s is now situated nicely in that big Heavenly Mall in the sky, kept company by Montgomery Ward, Mervyn’s, and many other large American retailers that have shuttered over the past few decades.  But in its heyday, it filled a special niche for the adolescent shopping crowd with $1.67 burning in their pockets with which to buy gifts.

As an aside, Mom used to take me for lunch at the S&W Cafeteria in the same shopping center as Woolworth’s, where my entire meal consisted of a dinner roll and a pat of butter.  On really special occasions, we would stop at a proto-fast food joint called the Golden Point.  I don’t remember a single thing about the fare.  I do recollect, however, that the neatest thing about the whole experience was riding in our old Studebaker because the glove compartment door had two indentations molded in where you could place a soda! 

How cool were these ur-cup holders?  Not very.  They were only useful when stationary.  Developing real cup holders would take many years of effort by the dog scientists to perfect.  Thank God we beat the Russians to it. 

Well, back to our story.  Woolworth’s was also known as the “Five and Dime,” and it was quite possible for the “young me” to purchase Christmas presents for the entire family on my limited budget of meager allowance savings. 

Of course, back then I had to boil it down to the basics.  I could easily convince myself that one of my siblings would truly appreciate a new Bic pen, or some bobby pins, or some such.  My focus areas in the store were solely in the (cheap) stationery and beauty aids sections.  I even tried to leave myself at least a nickel left over so that I could buy a pack of baseball or, I guess, football cards at that time of year.  We then went home, where I completed the process with my crappy adolescent gift wrapping efforts. 

Ah, God Bless Us, Every One.

Today, I spent a couple of hours (otherwise known as “Quality Time”) shopping with Daughter’s Little Sister.  She possessed a grand total of ten dollars to spend on Christmas presents, and she waved the wad of rolled up cash in her hand like a magic scepter, until I made her give it to me for safe keeping. 

I figure, with inflation, her ten bucks was roughly equivalent to my $1.67 back in the day, so I was curious about how far it would go, secure in knowing that I was the financial back-up should our mathematics go wildly awry.

After making an initial sweep through the store, we roughly calculated where we needed to spend our time looking — in the Clearance Section.  That meant almost 97.6% of the store was too rich for her budget.  But even the Close-Out aisle wasn’t exactly affordable, so we made another round to look for specials. 

It’s an interesting way to buy presents — it’s completely driven by price and not necessarily by what someone wants.  In fact, the attendant reasoning goes something like this:  “Wow.  That’s only $1.99.  I think (fill in the sibling name here) might like it.”

The goal is to buy something first, and then mentally convince yourself it will work somehow with the intended family member. 

My typical response:  “I haven’t seen your Mom wear a nose ring for quite some time now, but it’s probably worth a shot.”

And so it went.  With a little imagination and a couple of BOGO’s, Daughter’s Little Sister managed to secure gifts for everyone and had about two dollars left over for good measure.  She tried to spend it later on a toy for the dog’s stocking, but the “squeekies” were too expensive at the pet supply store.  However, Dad came to the rescue later with the purchase of a bag of dried lamb lungs. 

I don’t know about you, but I start salivating when I’m looking at Christmas stockings over the fireplace filled with slaughterhouse extras. 

Somehow in the midst of the shopping drama, Daughter’s Little Sister managed to pick something out for Dad, as well.  She hid it in her purse until we reached the check-out register, and I thought I’d save the talk about potential shoplifting charges for another day.  In terms of total time spent, we tallied approximately 13 minutes of shopping, and almost 25 minutes standing in line to pay.

Never make someone wait to give you money, but that’s another blog. 

So, after our big outing, we stopped for a Frosty at Wendy’s, where we congratulated ourselves on a successful expedition. 

It doesn’t seem so long ago to me now, but I suppose it was, when Daughter and I made a similar trip when she was at a slightly younger age.  The destination was Wal-Mart, and even as a little girl Daughter was always fairly good about not asking for toys or candy.  (Nowadays it’s a different story, of course.) 

On the way out of the store, Younger Daughter and I took a short-cut through the Toy Section.  Prominently featured was a large Batman display, surrounded by shelves and shelves of accessories.  I didn’t think much of it as we passed by, but I did ask Daughter what she thought of it later while we sat outside in the car. 

Her reply was a classic that will remain a Christmas memory in our family forever:  “I don’t like Mean Things.  I only like Pretty Things.” 

Well said, Daughter.  Well said. 

Have another pat of butter with that gluten-free roll. 

- Dad

Lyrics and Other Things I Can’t Really Hear

HearingAids

Dad, do you have your ears on? Dad? Dad?

Outside of some bad school pics posted elsewhere, I’ve got terrible hearing. 

When I relay this malady to people, I try to make the very particular distinction that I can actually hear just fine — I simply cannot understand much of what’s said to me.  It’s an important difference — and one that I cherish.

My family is under the misconception that my poor auditory abilities are directly related to a lackadaisal approach to (hearing — let’s make sure I’m clear here) protection from my younger years.  You see, I spent a substantial amount of time working in the vicinity of jet aircraft, and my audiology charts from that era detail a steep decline over multiple frequencies.  Well, maybe there’s some truth to that version (okay, a lot of truth), but there’s more to the story.

What wasn’t so apparent, especially to me, was that I really hadn’t clearly heard many elements of meaningful communication details over much of my life.  I found this out quite by accident when I was fitted with my first hearing aids.  It was like watching the Wizard of Oz — you know, one minute the world is in black and white and the next, well, it’s in Technicolor.  Except the analogy applies to ears. 

When I was outfitted with aids, I suddenly could hear birds singing, children laughing (or screaming in our house), and musical lyrics (wow, ColdPlay is pretty clever, Daughter, but I don’t find Chris Martin all that cute — what’s with his teeth?).   

In fact, I could hear sounds I never knew existed previously. 

What’s that annoying clicking sound, I wondered?  My damn ankles, it turned out.  The chirping and honking?  Our zebra finches (geez, those stinkin’ birds are loud).  That roar?  How long has the exhaust on this car been broken?  Believe me, the list goes on. . . . 

You see, my earliest hearing aids were simply amplifiers, and they made everything louder (and not necessarily more distinct).  As you might imagine, I quickly grew tired of my new, disturbingly noisy world, and my tiny ear devices were soon relegated to the nether regions off the bathroom soap drawer. 

Well, that was many years ago now, and I am now currently in possession of the latest Phonak noise cancelling devices on the planet.  But my hearing is decidedly worse these days, so it’s about even, I suppose.

Though many sounds are within my range, plenty are not.  A short list would include:  most alarm clocks (especially wristwatches), cat meows, and, most importantly, the clearly enunciated words eminating from most of my family. 

Oh, I can hear what they say just fine, I just don’t understand most of it. 

This situation has led to multiple incarnations of the following conversation:

“Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble, goobley-goo.”

“What?”

“Goobley, boobley, mumble, mumble, poo.”

“What?”

“Dad, do you have your ears on?  Mumble, MUMBLE.”

“Okay, I’ll take the trash out.”

“That’s fine, but I wanted to borrow twenty dollars.”

Things like that multiplied many, many times a day. 

On the one hand, I have no shame in turning on Closed Captioning for many television shows these days.  On the other, I’ve become a constant source of annoyance within my immediate household.  While I don’t mind annoying my closest family members (I really don’t actively try to, anyway), I generally try not to embarrass them in social situations (outside of my attire, that is). 

In order to appear socially engaged means I have to nod mindlessly while pretending to listen to Daughter’s friends recount their latest clubbing episode.  (“Gee, your Dad really gets it.  I could never tell my Dad that!  How does he know so much about shoes?”)

Or, I stare blankly.  “Dad, are you going to answer?”

I didn’t know there was a question. 

Out of sheer necessity, I have become a good lip reader, but that ability actually requires me to focus on the speaker.  I am still working on that part. 

But in one of those (not necessarily cruel) twists of family fate, when Daughter was slightly older than a mere babbling baby, and certainly before she could talk, we taught her basic sign language for communication purposes.  She knew how to sign for “please” and “thank you” and “more,” but her favorite was “milk.” 

The sign for milk in our house was to mimic the motions of milking a cow.  Daughter’s siblings mastered this sign easily, if I remember correctly.  But somehow, Daughter reinterpreted the motion as climbing a ladder, or scaling a mountain.  She concocted such an exaggerated gesticulation it would have made Marcel Marceau blush. 

Rather than correct her, we just “went with the flow.”  Not a big deal. 

It was hilarious, and is an often forgotten memory during these hearing-challenged days of mine. 

And regarding my hearing deficiencies, we all need to remember what goes around comes around. 

I remember those years of changing my kids’ diapers, for instance.  Daughter, payback is coming and it is hell not pretty. 

- Dad

A Picture of My Dad in Grade School

Pops

I love digging around in my parents stuff because I imagine myself as a stalker; a stalker of the past, if you will. I’m also just nosy and enjoy knowing personal tidbits I can bring up when wine is flowing at a family function. Also, I like finding out their flaws so I can one day usurp them. Once I read my dad’s end-of-the-year yearbook entries from high school and quite a few of them were from the lady variety. Take note, Father.

I decided to post another classic photo of my dad because it makes me feel like an archaeologist when I find this sort of beauty just gathering dust (the tooth gap, the side eye = brilliance). My dad is a quiet, more introverted dude so you really have to annoy him to get him to talk about his childhood. Even then, he will usually pretend to ignore you or say “WHAAA..? GET OFF MY LAWN!!” in his old man voice. His hearing issues can fill an entire blog post – but, I’ll save that one for later.

Anyway, this picture reminds me of when I was in 7th grade, otherwise known as the peak of my awkward transitional stage, when I had lost a canine tooth. It was quite late into 7th grade when this happened and I’m certain everybody else had lost their baby teeth by this point. Not me though, the universe had special plans.

Just imagine, a little mousey 7th-grader with a gap-toothed smile, freckles, and enough social anxiety and meekness to be passed over by bullies because she was too easy of a target, mere child’s play.

Now, there’s a narrow period in a person’s life where he or she can look cute missing teeth but I had passed that point. Cuteness gone, I was the human equivalent of a jug of expired milk disgusting the public with my hockey-player smile. I resembled a pre-teen drug dealer. Not that I was cool enough to be one. (Old news.) I don’t know how I didn’t implode from awkwardness. God knows I gave public speeches that put my holey grin on display but people politely declined to comment. Thanks people of the 7th grade!

Gap teeth on little kids = “AW!”

Gap teeth on 7th grader = “That poor thing, already on drugs at such a young age.”

- Daughter

A Picture of My Dad in College

 I thought my dad’s post the other day was very quaint and nice and all, but it was lacking one thing: a photograph of him in his college days. To remedy this, I got my paws on my father’s college ID card. He gave it to me a few years ago, probably under the pretense of it becoming a family heirloom. But it’s much more than that, it’s a bona fide national treasure. Seriously. Just look at it.

Bearded Father

#hipster #noshaveforever

I present to you a blurry bearded man who looks somewhat like my father. Oh, Dad. Ohhhhhh, Dad.

My favorite part of this picture is the pencil behind his ear. He was an English major and in all likelihood, a hipster, so it’s fitting that he put together this very clichéd image of a writer to present to the world. It says, “I’m going  to write the next American classic… right after I get these cracker crumbs out of my beard.” He’s basically wearing a hair halo around his face, punctuated by that little pencil, sticking out declaring his trade as writer – nay, as artist of words.

I still love you, Dad. Even with that pretentious pencil.

- Daughter

 

Things I Said in Bars — Are You Kidding Me?

Fat Tire

That looks expensive. Don’t you have anything in paper cups?

Senior Editor’s Note: This post and its contents have not been verified for their veracity. Furthermore, I am very conversational, just not with losers, Dad! I don’t waste my wit on the weak and ineffectual. I make fun of the people who are asking for it. And at the very least, my goal is to make people laugh in bars and steer them away from the usual, “So, come here often?” Because in what boring world is that ever a good way to start a great conversation? (Never, Dad. Never. Maybe you would have dated more if you complimented girls on their doll-like hair. Don’t be a hater, Dad.) – Daughter

It was with a slight sense of bemusement that I reviewed Daughter’s post recounting her random bar-hopping, anti-social, non-conversational interaction activities during a recent evening out with “the crowd.”

Trust me, I frequently witness the endless prepatory steps that eventually lead to her departure into the dark Southern California night for places not frequented by me and, quite frankly, I’ve never seen so much effort exerted by someone who seems to increasingly resemble Bettie Page, no matter what she wears.

In contrast, whenever I head out for a “special evening,” the usual critique thrown in my direction is, “You’re really going to wear that, Dad?”  Well, I figure I can get away with almost any outfit if I’m covered with my Trusty Turkish Friend.

What interested me most about Daughter’s post-modernistic tale is how dramatically different it is than my own experience at the same age many years ago.

Though not destitute, I think it would be fair to characterize my financial situation in college as dramatically challenged.  No, I didn’t walk four miles through snow in my bare feet to go to school, but I was known to make surreptitious after-hours sweeps through some of the academic halls to grab empty soda bottles so that I could return them for the deposit money.  I did have a car (the actively rusting shell of a Chevy Vega), but I never remember having a full tank of gas.  I do remember, however, asking my soccer teammates to pitch in for fuel on Saturday mornings before heading out to the field to play.  Between the four of us, we usually managed to scrape together something in the neighborhood of $1.37, which bought enough gas to transport us out and back with about ten cents to spare.

Many times I skipped the team lunch at McDonald’s because buying a meal there was a huge deal for me financially.  It was tight.

So, work with me here.  Given that sort of draconian revenue situation, Daughter’s “modern clubbing” was never a real option back then.  It would have required both self-confidence and shekals — I possessed neither. 

Instead, a big Friday night consisted of getting together with a couple of my friends (no girlfriends yet for us losers), walking over to the Student Union, and bowling a couple of games, maybe augmented with some foosball (look it up in Wiki, children).  I seem to remember the cost per student in the bowling alley was all of 25 cents per game.  I could swing that.

There were a couple of key elements, however, that made the night more enjoyable and less costly.  First, we always designated a “beer frame” in each game, the loser of which was on the hook for a round later.  So it was especially important that one of the friends in the group was more pathetic than the rest of us at bowling — usually not too hard to orchestrate.

Second, we walked everywhere.  Remember walking, kids?  No car, no ga$, no DUI, no problem.  It made things infinitely easier.

Third, our favorite pub sat just off campus, and was usually fairly empty since it was primarily frequented by graduate students and other assorted freaks of nature.  I would never describe it as popular.  Homely, yes.  Typically no girls, bummer.  But it was a jewel.

Why?  The main attraction was 32oz draft beer served in wax-lined paper cups.  These drinking vessels apparently went the way of disco in the early 80s, but they were common back then.  No, it wasn’t actually the cup itself that was attractive.  But every successive refill cost ten cents less than the previous drink.  What an absolutely marvelous marketing idea, and we took full advantage of it.  Plus, this place had a small grill behind the bar, and they could cook up some good eats cheaply.  To order anything, small pads of paper were strategically scattered on the bar, and you wrote out what you wanted on a slip (using a real pen or pencil) and then handed it to the barkeeper.

No iPhones, no texts, no Twitter, no Stinkin’ Facebook, no menus (a blackboard above the grill listed the available fare), no iPads — just a lot of “no’s.”  Real basic.

So, for about three bucks and change (I usually split the cost of food with a friend), it was a full night out, and I would wander home in the wee hours with a full (and slightly queasy tummy) and a warm buzz. 

Today, I spend about the same amount during a typical visit to Starbucks, even without buying one of Daughter’s favorite “foo-foo” drinks (that I have no idea how to order). 

True, these nights of yore featured little of the bar-scene give and take that, apparently, makes up the bulk of Daughter’s forays into the night.  But I also avoided the resulting contretemps such ventures seem to generate for her. 

In comparison, my experience was somewhat boring and never, ever featured Lesbian Christmas Bingo Dancing (LCBD), but it suited me just fine and reinforced that all-encompassing maxim of my life:  Never be ashamed of what you can afford. 

Believe me, I’ve got plenty of other things to be ashamed about, but I’ll keep those secrets between me and Bettie Page. 

- Dad

The Legend of the 1000-Point Turn

As my dad mentioned in his last post, I learned to drive on a truck (in between bouts of crying because Dad felt I would better understand how to drive if he yelled me into proper driving form). After I obtained my license to kill, I was gifted with Oscar, my VW Cabrio. I love that car and will be truly sad to see the day when Oscar goes to that big garage in the sky. It’s a fun car to drive and fits into any parking space with relative ease. The only real problem is that people LOVE to almost-merge into me on freeways because it’s a tiny little thing and light-colored. This would be a great characteristic if I wanted to die in a fiery car crash (free cremation!!!!) but, alas, I do not want this fate.

Despite being a perpetual death machine, I still love Osky. He is able to whip into a parking space with the bravado of a Kardashian. Unfortunately, his has given me parking hubris. I found out the hard way that all cars are not created equal with respect to their ease of parkingness.

My first mistake was driving my dad’s truck to work because it was raining again and I was worried about another hydroplaning incident. I should have just changed my middle name to “Dangerous”, driven my car, and hyrdoplaned all the way to work for all the trouble I went through.

The truck is considerably bigger than Oscar but I figured that since I learned to drive on a truck, I could handle this thing fine. And I did. Except when it came down to parking.

manatee30

I wish I had a Calming Manatee to help me park.

Downtown, there isn’t a whole lot of room to get into a parking space if your car is a fat behemoth. It’s like a manatee trying to maneuver through a mud puddle – very difficult and nigh impossible – but probably hilarious to watch. I finally got into a parking space and only had to re-park three times to fit within the lines. I was so relieved after I got the truck into that space because I wouldn’t have to get it out for another 8 hours. At that point, there would be fewer cars in the lot and it would be more like a manatee navigating a small creek instead of a mud puddle.

I walked to the office for my internship and happy forest animals greeted me with song. As I went about my work, I felt an ominous presence. It was a lady from the art department – Uh oh, this won’t be good, I thought. She asked me if I could do her a favor. Of course, I immediately agreed because I’m eager and annoying. My task is to pick up some flowers five blocks away, meaning I have to move the stupid truck. Of course I do.

I walked to the truck, crying about my lot in life. Within about ten minutes’ time of rage-inducing parking maneuvers, I was able to get out without so much as a bumper kiss. I may have won this battle but the real war had just begun.

After finding the flower place, I pulled into an unassuming parking lot. This is when things got difficult. A tiny little parking space was left in the parking lot, surrounded by fire-breathing dragons on each side: a huge SUV and two other big cars I can’t name because I’m not my dad. Instead of backing out and trying to get into a space that involved less skill and experience, I decided that I was capable of parking in this particular spot. Hey, you can DO this, remember that time you got a participation medal for that cross country race in 6th grade? If you can do that, you can surely do this. Because you’re amazing. 

I had to make a ten point turn to get IN to the space. Slowly but surely, inch by inch, I eased the truck into that Hobbit-sized space. Then I retrieved those dastardly flowers and headed back to the truck. I jumped in the car, backed out, and then, disaster. FU, SH, THAT SUV, I’M TOTALLY GUNNA HIT IT. I jumped OUT of the car, put it in park, and examined the space I had between the back of the truck and the SUV. I stared at it for a solid minute, trying to figure out how to magic the space bigger. Eventually, I gave up my hopes of witchcraft and inched back and forth at least 15 times. I even stopped midway through the backing-out process and thought about what would happen if I just stayed there forever. My body would probably be eaten by rabid dogs and later, after being digested, I would fertilize the earth and maybe a flower would grow. Probably a weed though. At least I am biodegradable. And for about each half inch I moved, I got OUT of the car to make sure I wasn’t going to hit anyone or anything. It took probably 20  minutes for me to back out of there. And when I finally cleared all the obstacles, I waved an American flag and gave myself a pat on the back. It’s the small victories that count.

manatee29

- Daughter

Things I Say in Bars or, This is Why I Can’t Go to Nice Places

image

I went to a bar on Saturday night, like 20-somethings do (they do that, right?), and said some questionable things to random strangers. By ‘questionable things’ I mean I essentially spent the night terrorizing and trolling various bar-goers.

People go to bars to have drinks, meet new people, and have fun. But not me. Oh, I want to have a good time and all, just at your expense.

—————————————

Unsuspecting Bar Patron #1: “Hello. How are y-”

Me: “Has anybody ever told you that you have Ken doll hair? Because you do. What’s your name?”

UBP1: “My name’s Tim.”*

Me: “Well, I’m going to call you Ken.”

UBP1: “… um okay.”

Me: “So what do you do?”

UBP1: “I do construction management.”

Me: “Does that mean you can’t read?”

UBP1: “…”

—————————————

Unsuspecting Bar Patron #2: “So, do you want to dance?”

Me: “I’m actually really tired, I’d rather sit here at the bar and chat. “

UBP2: “…okay. Can I buy you a drink?”

Me: “No.”

UBP2: “Are you having fun?”

Me: “Yeah! I’m just tired. Can’t wait to go back to my house and sleep.”

UBP2: “…”

—————————————

Me: “What’s your name?”

Unsuspecting Bar Patron #3: “Harry.”*

Me: “HARRY POTTER. Is it okay if I call you that?”

UBP3: “… sure.”

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—————————————

This gem was said as I was leaving the bar:

Unsuspecting Bar Patron #4: “Where are you going????????!!!!!!”

Me: “AWAY FROM YOU.”

—————————————

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

- Daughter

I Have Met My Match, and He is 15 Years Old

gtv

I am a money pig. Feed me!

I dabble in project cars.

Much like “gardening” (in our yard it’s pulling weeds, actually), this hobby provides great therapy for me, as it takes my mind off the stress of work and paying bills — and it’s usually cheaper than what I imagine a shrink psychiatrist probably costs.  Of the thirty or forty some odd vehicles that have passed through my hands over the years, I generally break even or even make a bit (usually a pittance) after the final tally.

And I’m still sane, sort of.

I prefer using the term “investment” when I speak of this automotive pursuit — that lends it an air of legitimacy within the household and generally prevents closer financial scrutiny.  Actually, we have something of a compromise going in our home — I won’t scrutinize the Target bill or squawk about whatever “Real Housewives of  . . . .” episode is airing, if you don’t mind me parking a derelict in the driveway now and again.

It seems to work for the most part.

However, the latest installment of my own “Monster Garage” concerns itself with the relatively recent purchase of an older Alfa Romeo GTV.  Understand that I have owned a succession of Alfa convertibles, but I have always desired a coupe.  In the parlance of cardom, its condition is known as a “driver” — runs okay and looks okay, but needs about $10K to get to the next level.  Probably more, to be honest.  This point becomes important later.

Even better for me, no one currently living at home is capable of driving a manual transmission, and the Alfa has an old school five-speed.

Sidebar driving story:  Daughter, like Son, learned to drive in my old Ford Ranger pick-up, with an automatic transmission.  She then graduated at some point in high school to the consummate SoCal young girl ride of choice — a VW Cabrio.  Of Daughter’s two or three non-childhood meltdown crying episodes I can remember, one was specifically associated with a learner’s permit driving incident during which she almost killed both of us (not really, but it was nearly a wreck).  Of course, I made her stay behind the wheel and get us back to the house afterwards.  After all, developing the ability to see through tears when on the road is an important skill to develop.  Yes, Dad can wield the cruelest cut.

Anyway, before my last business trip, I answered an electronic bulletin board ad for someone looking for exactly the type of Alfa I have sitting in front of the house.  You see, since Daughter has been readmitted back into her Lesbian Cult College, I have been trying to figure out how I can have my cake (cars) and eat it, too (take care of children, shelter family, buy food, fund college tuition, etc.).  My Plan B is to sell the Alfa, and buy another piece of less expensive cake in the future, once Daughter has degree firmly in hand.

Plan A is to have my cake and eat it, too.

So, almost immediately after sending an email to the potentially interested party, I was bombarded with electronic inquiries about the condition of the car, where it was located, how much I wanted, etc.  I was a bit unprepared for the sheer volume of responses, but did my best to accommodate.

All the emails I received were sent from an iPhone.  The prospective buyer seemed somewhat sophisticated.

Since I was dealing with this while on the road, I finally just told the guy where the car was parked so that he could go by himself and check it out.  I didn’t think much more about it until a couple of days later when my wife called and said some kid knocked at the front door and said he was there to look at the Alfa.  The whole time I never mentioned anything to her about any of this, because many of these car folks are Kooks and rarely show up, much less with actual legal tender in hand.

But when my wife said “kid,” she really meant it.  She said the tyke she talked to looked like he was about ten years old.  I just figured he was there with his father and, again, kind of dismissed it.  Further emails followed, asking about a test drive, when I would return from my travels, if I could leave the key with someone — that kind of thing.  I just told him to swing by on Sunday, when I would be back in town.

As luck would have it, I was able to return a day early.

While I was on the phone in the front yard early Saturday afternoon, a little kid walked up the sidewalk and approached me.  He was there to see the Alfa, he said.  He’d been emailing me, he said.  He was very interested, he said.

“How old are you?” I said.

“Fifteen.  My Mom’s parked up the street a ways.”

Really?  Shouldn’t you be riding around on a Razor or something, I thought.

This was, indeed, weird.  But I figured, what the he heck, I’ll roll with it.

His mother was standing by the car, and I wasn’t quite sure if I should be talking to her or to Junior.  On the one hand, I didn’t want to discourage a young man (term used very loosely here) who clearly was somewhat knowledgeable about classic cars.  On the other we were talking about laying out about $7K for this particular example.

I asked him how old he was.

Fifteen.  Yep.  That made me feel better.

Whatever.  I explained to Mom that the Alfa wasn’t really a suitable teen car, that it would be finicky and difficult, and in the end would definitely not be trustworthy or reliable.

Turns out, it was just what they were looking for.

I told them I hadn’t actually decided to sell, and they said they would tally everything up and get back to me in a few days.  But they were definitely looking for a project car, and they definitely wanted an Alfa.

You see, “back in the day” when I was fifteen, I could afford any type of “work in progress” car, as long as it was around $100.  That was the reality of my financial world back then.  Heck, if you factor in inflation over thirty years, it’s probably not all that much different now.  So, I contextually I was kind of incredulous I was even having this conversation with a ninth grader.

That was yesterday.

Today, I received an offer.

From the kid.

He wrote he was prepared to give me $6700 cash today, and could come by this afternoon to pick up the car.  Then came the kicker:  “You yourself said you didn’t have the time, energy, or funds to bring it back to its former glory.”

Snap!  And he does.

I replied back that I would let him know something by Tuesday, as I hadn’t yet made up my mind to sell.

Not too long ago this entire affair would have made me somewhat melancholy.  Now, I am merely bemused — at my own circumstances, at the kid’s, and at the reality that, in the end, he’s probably right.

I’m thinking I’ll probably just hold onto the GTV for awhile, since Plan C for Daughter’s tuition is to write a best-selling book on Lesbian Christmas Bingo Dancing.  The world needs something like that, I feel, just like it needs old cars which will never regain their youth.

Like the GTV, I’m a “driver.”  And I’m okay with that.

- Dad

Jane Goodall and the Rabbit on my Shoulder

jacket

That’s leather, right? BTW, Disco is dead. Has been for a long time — like that jacket.

My second favorite coat is a leather jacket that took four hours to buy, over Coca-Cola and tea, at a shop in the Grand Bazaar in Izmir, Turkey.  The purchase was an adventure, as was getting in and out of the shop itself.  I seem to remember spending most of the time hopelessly saying I didn’t want to buy anything, obviously to no avail.  I’m pretty sure the year was 1987, but it may have been 1988.  As it turned out, it was one of the best $75 I ever spent on anything, clothing or otherwise.  It’s simply a tough, great jacket, if there is such a thing. 

Well, the Numero Uno coat in my very limited wardrobe is a brown, cheap fleece job I picked up at a local tourist attraction White Sale maybe six or seven years ago for $30.  It’s soft and comfy (to use a “Daughter Term”), and is quite utilitarian, as well.  It’s my outer garment of choice when the temperatures turn nippy, but it has one glaring drawback:  it is a dog hair magnet.  It is typically covered fairly heavily with white fibers from our dandified pooch, and I have to either simply ignore the layer or spend every waking moment picking off the strands in truly Sisyphean fashion (go look up that reference – I think I used it correctly).  It is a well-known fact (at least now it is) that strands from our dog litter various exhibits in most major art museums on the east coast (from a trip years ago), and can be found to this day on many commercial airliners still in service.   

The bottom line is I love (not in a “man-love” sort of way — not that there’s anything wrong with that) both these jackets, but for different reasons. 

I recently returned from an east coast business trip that required I utilize the more formal “Izmir Non-Dog Hair Look” for my outer wear.  One of my co-workers accompanying me the past few days is just a couple of years older than Daughter.  Two nights ago, she rather haltingly asked about the age of my jacket.  I then regaled her with an embellished bazaar adventure story, to which she replied something along the lines of, “Yep.  I thought it was from the 80’s.  It just has that look.”

I wasn’t exactly crushed or anything, but I guess the coolness factor I always assumed was there really wasn’t.  Sh  Da  Darn. 

“No.  It’s still a neat looking jacket, but I was just wondering where it came from.”  Hers was a pretty crappy recovery attempt, but I was okay with it.  Not a big deal.

However, over dinner that followed, I began to think of those things and objects in my life I’ve held onto all these years, and the reality that’s changed over time.  For context, during our meal we started talking about best concerts attended.  Hers was ColdPlay; mine was Emmylou Harris.  Our other co-worker couldn’t remember even going to one.  We kind of stopped talking about concerts after that (though I’m big fan of ColdPlay and, yes, I do own an iPod). 

I then mentioned that one of the great regrets in my life was foregoing the opportunity to hear Jane Goodall speak in person in 1986 because of a school commitment I had the same evening.  Dr. Goodall is someone I have always admired, and I was almost immediately sorry I didn’t attend. 

My co-workers didn’t have any regrets yet, apparently.  Just give it time, I thought.  

Almost inevitably after this nostalgic discourse, I began to think of things I haven’t done that I wished I had, and how things have changed since my Izmir jacket still smelled of fresh leather. 

Basically, I quickly came to the conclusion that, although I still function well in most important areas (you choose what those are), it’s a basic fact that it’s annoying getting old.  Annoying and perplexing because shi stuff just starts happening that you have no way to get in front of, and you wonder where the heck it’s coming from, as well. 

For instance, I was in a business meeting last year with a guy just a couple of years older than me.  I don’t remember a single thing we talked about.  All I could focus on was this dude had a living forest of hair growing all over his nose.  I thought to myself, “Come on, dude.  Are you blind?  You seem to be married.  Is your wife blind, as well, or have you both just given up?” 

You know, crap like that. 

Of course, that experience made me look closer in the mirror.  The first problem I encountered was that I couldn’t focus well enough to see if I had the same issue.  Mom solved that for me, as she has hundreds of pairs of CVS Pharmacy reading glasses littering the house.  So, newly focused, I peered, and, alas, a smaller, less obvious forest had begun to take root, but it was a forest nonetheless.

The second problem then became locating appropriately precise tweezers.  The story continues to go downhill from there, and it extends to the ears, and other body parts.  In the end it’s pretty sickening, but, ultimately, I found I could handle everything with the appropriate vigor and attention to detail. 

Most of it anyway. 

For what came next, I was not prepared.  Again, for reasons completely outside my ken of knowledge in this area, I am plagued by the appearance of what can only be described as rabbit fur on my right shoulder. 

Not both shoulders, mind you.  Just one. 

Short of a full-body peel, that pelt isn’t going anywhere any time soon, I figure.  It has become a phenomenon of some fairly low-brow humor in the house, but I have become accustomed to that sort of treatment around here, so it’s not a big deal to me. 

There is no moral to this story, except that we all need to be prepared for the unexpected — like Cool Things becoming UnCool (or worse, a historical artifact), and maybe realizing that the Universal Oneness of Creation has a master plan for excess body hair. 

I hope so, because it sure as hell shi isn’t obvious to me, at this point, what it is. 

Good luck with that. 

- Dad

Sith Lord Drag Queen

Sith Lord

Every morning is the same: I wake up, put on my robe, and stumble around in a post-sleep haze looking like a Sith Lord. I really, really dislike mornings. This morning, in fact, I laid in bed awake for an entire hour cursing the sun and circadian rhythms. When I did finally peel myself from my bed, I walked to the kitchen – as I do every morning – in a teal, fuzzy robe with the hood up. The hood is a critical part of waking-up procedure because my head gets cold. It also creates a helpful barrier to human interaction and partly shades my face from the hateful light of day.

After a cup of coffee, I turn into a slightly more energized Sith Lord. Two cups in and I’m on my way to being a hyper Sith Lord – ideal for days I go into work. Then I put make up on so people won’t run away from me. Despite my valiant efforts, I usually end up looking like a Sith Lord drag queen.

Sidenote: I was searching the interwebs for a Sith Lord meme and I was not expecting to find one. And of course, the internet proved me wrong with its all-encompassing ways and provided soooo many Sith Lord memes I found it hard to choose. Thanks, internet.

- Daughter

 

Warp Speed Wipers

While I was learning the real-life definition of “hydroplaning” on my way to work this morning, I started to feel self-conscious (in addition to feeling like I was going to die). I just knew people were judging my windshield wiper speed. I should really focus on the road, it’s raining and people are dumb… Was that guy who just passed me staring at my wipers and laughing? What the heck? Let me speed up to him and see how fast his wipers are going. Oh, they’re going slow. Stupid, self-righteous slow-wiper-speed people. Ugh, they’re the worst. I’m going to speed up and cut him off now. 

Careful, those horses might hydroplane.

Careful, those horses might hydroplane.

The problem is that my wipers have three settings: off, Warp Speed, and waiting-for-something-you-really-want-to-arrive-in-the-mail (slow). I settled on the slow speed for a little bit but was immediately blinded by incoming rain. Not being in the mood to be in a fatal car crash, I activated Warp Speed. Some sort of force field was created as a result. The rain drops didn’t even have a chance to hit my windshield, they were jiu jitsued off by my wipers.

It was raining a moderate amount and water was being kicked up by cars in front of me so the fast wiper speed was definitely justified (I’M NOT DEFENSIVE) but I still felt self-conscious. I started to feel like maybe I wasn’t good enough – and maybe I wouldn’t ever be good enough – for slow wiper speeds. I looked around at all the smug slow-wiper drivers and then I had an epiphany. The “eeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” of the wipers took on the quality of a Buddhist chant and I was able to center myself. I realized that I would always be that person who uses the Warp Speed setting when there is merely mist from a fog. I will always be that person. And that’s okay. That’s okay. That’s okay. 

- Daughter

 

 

Ten Types of Co-workers

The people you work with either make or break your overall work experience. I’ve dealt with my fair share of “characters” over the years and there are some archetypes I’ve seen time and time again. *

The Incompetent One

He’s above you payscale- and position-wise but you have to look down to find him because he’s always on the floor babbling incoherently. You don’t even bother asking him questions because it’s a fool’s errand. Why am I being paid minimum wage while he is taking liquid gold baths? He is a rich idiot and I am a poor genius. 

incompetent

The Competent One

She intuitively knows what you need and just rocks out work like it’s her job… well, it is, but you get my point. She just knows. Sometimes, her omniscience is scary but most of the time, you’re thankful for it.

competent

The Slacker

She is different from the incompetent co-worker because she knows how to do everything but just chooses to do things wrong to cut corners. She loves to take breaks and constantly hands off customers to you. There’s a 105% chance she’s high.

The Starving Artist

He is too good for his current job and waxes poetic about his hypothetical future life full of glory and critical acclaim. He is a legend in his own eyes but everyone sort of hates him because his daydreams distract him into an unreachable oblivion. Yes, yes, Shakespeare, now please go show the customer where the old people diapers are. 

artist llama

The Rule-Follower

She follows rules to an extreme. A minute late? 20-minute lecture on responsibility. Didn’t greet a customer nicely enough? Written up for poor representation of the store. Made a mistake? Fired.

The One with Flexible Morals

He is super fun but you watch your purse and other personal belongings very carefully around him. He tends to lie to customers, shirks from responsibility, and has kleptomaniac tendencies.

The Socially Awkward One

She grew up in America and possibly went to the same school with you, but you might as well be talking to a Furby. Actually, no, that’s not even true because a Furby is programmed to interact with humans. Okay, you might as well be talking to a Furby but one without batteries in it. She’s possibly not all the way human (but may be part-Furby).

furby

The Selfish One

He must take his break RIGHT NOW. LOLBYESUCKERSHAVEFUNWITHTHATLINEOUTTHEDOOR!

The Enemy 

Imagine the Montague v. Capulet blood feud but more bloody.

The Micro-Manager

Oh no, she is doing everything right… she even just went above her job description and helped save a little old lady from a house fire. How can I re-exert my control over her to let her know she’s still unworthy to work here? I’ve got it! I will correct something she’s not even doing wrong. Crisis averted! 

* Female and male pronouns are randomly used because I got really tired of writing ‘he or she’… gender is such a drag. **

** Hahahahahaha. Get it? Like… drag? Drag queens? God, I’m hilarious.

- Daughter

Who Needs an Invisibility Cloak When You Can Be an Intern?

office cat

This was supposed to be my last week of my internship but I am nothing if not masochistic so I begged my supervisor to let me keep working (for free) until I leave for school. I’m sure that was a hard decision for her to make, “Hmmm… more free work? IdunnohowaboutYES.”

To be honest, it has been a perfectly wonderful experience that makes me feel like I’m dancing on a rainbow made from crystallized unicorn tears so I’m quite pleased with this turn of events.

My indentured servitude internship is pretty laid-back except when deadlines roll around and everybody does the opposite of those “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters: “Panic and Freak Out”. This generally laissez-faire attitude extends to the office dress code; people wear whatever they want. I wish I had known this before my interview because I came in waaaay overdressed. In fact, I always overdress for interviews. This has absolutely nothing to do with any residual paranoia from that one time I went to a job interview in glorified jeans and a questionable top when the other interviewees were dressed in formal corporate-wear. Yeah, I ended up not getting that job. Whatever, their loss. Just because I was in scruffy, hillbilly clothes and rode a donkey to the interview and carried in a pitch fork as my resume and don’t have any teeth and use run-on sentences doesn’t mean I can’t do bidness. I can bidness like nobody’s bidness. Anyway, now that I’m more familiar with the office and its natives, I know who to go to for questions, who enjoys Muppet movies, and who refills the coffee – aka, the most important things.

Something that is definitely unimportant in the office, however, is my name. I’m pretty sure only two people in the entire office know  my name. Not that I expect them to lower themselves and address me by my real name, like some sort of equal. Nay, I would respond to “Lowly Intern #2″ just fine.

On a positive note, I’m not actively hated by anyone unlike at my other job (speaking of which, I saw a burning effigy of myself in the break room the other day – this is concerning) rather, I’m simply invisible. In fact, about two weeks ago, I was in an elevator with a girl I am friendly with in the office (I won’t say “friends with” because you aren’t friends with someone until you start exchanging funny cat photos with them, which we have yet to do) and with a guy who I’ve literally seen everyday but never formally met. He asked me if this was my “first day of interning”. The other girl helpfully said, “Actually, she’s been here for a few months.” I think the last of my dignity shriveled up and died like so many blossoms in the winter frost right then and there.

To be honest, I am quite the wallflower at the office, mostly because I’m trying hard to ooze professionalism and capability. I keep loud noises to a minimum, try not to spit on other people, and only talk about cats when they come up naturally in a conpurrsation.

Part of the problem is that my desk is set up in an anti-social position that essentially demands people to walk past me without registering my existence. It’s facing a wall and my back is turned to the entrance of the office. In the beginning, I used to try to greet people as they came in and turned around constantly to make awkward friendly eye contact. Then I started getting whiplash so I stopped that friendly nonsense. Now, I just sit like the Hunchback of Notre Dame at my desk and occasionally flail around ringing church bells and chasing gypsies.

- Daughter

My Sister Drank Out of a Bird Bath and Bit Me

That last photo I posted of myself when I was younger and when my little sister was but a squirmy bean reminded me of a story I look back on with fondness.

To say my little sister was a weird little kid is a huge understatement. Her favorite food was anything inedible or unappetizing. Especially sand. She could do some serious damage at the beach, crunching handfuls of it at a time. If there was sand in the vicinity, she would – and did – eat it. We didn’t always catch her in the act but the evidence of the crime was always there: the telltale sand mustache and beard. She also loved to lick the sliding glass door and the walls, but who doesn’t?

This particular day, my little sister was outside at the bird bath with her back turned to the house. It looked very suspicious so I went out  to check on her to make sure she wasn’t up to her usual shenanigans. I wasn’t surprised to see that the goings-on were nefarious. She wasn’t just standing at the bird bath innocently, admiring her own reflection. She wasn’t lost in a moment of existential pondering as she watched the rings of water spreading out in response to her touch on the surface. She wasn’t examining how the weathered cracks on the bird bath created a map of sorts; one that detailed the time past and history of the various feathered animals that have come and gone hither and thither. She was not reciting a monologue from Hamlet or pontificating in the natural landscape. Nope. She was drinking the water from the bird bath like she was dying of thirst. I don’t know if you are familiar with bird bath water quality, but it is usually filled with bird poop and dead bugs. I wasn’t worried about the bugs so much but the feces concerned me.

I was horrified that my baby sister was drinking this murky, poopy water so I immediately yanked her away.

This was a mistake.

She started screaming like I had just murdered her beloved Teletubbies. The bird bath had been her Eden where she was free to partake in the forbidden fruit (poopy, bird bath water). I had shattered and corrupted this dreamlike place with my presence; I was the villain forcibly evicting her from this paradise of inedible delicacies.

And she would suffer the injustice of this sibling intervention no longer; she turned to me and yelled, “FOR SPARTAAA!!!”* And with that, she summoned all of her toddler strength and wrestled with me until she was in a position where she could inflict maximum damage with her fangs. She sank her tiny incisors into my hand until she drew blood. I immediately dropped her (sister: 1, me: 0) and she ran back to the bird bath to continue consuming E. Coli.

I knew what had to be done:

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SHE JUST BIT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

- Daughter

* Dramatization

Has It Really Come To This? Really? Please. . . .

Yes.  We all all morons.

Yes. We are all morons.

I lost spent the better part of the day recently on a coast to coast airline flight.  I don’t like traveling via airplane that much anymore.  The novelty wore off about the same time the airlines reduced seat sizes and knee room.  And to add to my growing displeasure with air travel, most of my trips are work-related, which means either Destination Hell when I get there or Did I Just Escape From Destination Hell on my return.

Not having a whole lotta fun right now in the ole Salt Mine.

The last trip I tried Sudoku again to pass the time, but couldn’t even make it beyond the warm-up puzzle, much less Levels One, Two, or Three — just like not being allowed out of the kiddie pool when I was younger, but that’s another story and much more shameful.

Anyway, Daughter’s recent post about store customers got me athinkin’ about the typical airline passengers I see these days.  I don’t know if there are ten categories; more like ten thousand.  I thought I would jot down a few for future reference.  Note:  the following list applies to a major airline that does not utilize specific seat assignments (I luv it!):

Annoyed Space Displacer

Piles various amounts of crap in the middle seat and accompanies said sprawl with a generally sour/pained demeanor.  I will typically try to sit in the same row with this person simply to prove a point and to further annoy them.

Overburdened “Personal Item” Carrier

This passenger’s understanding of one carry-on and one small personal item must date to their years as a refugee in some foreign land when they were forced to haul everything on their backs.  However, those household goods and belongings have now been replaced by Sbarro pizza boxes, 32 oz soft drinks, and purses the size of grocery bags.  Did I say purses?  I am never able to sit anywhere close to these folks, because of the corresponding lack of overhead bin space in their general vicinity.  I usually end up somewhere behind them, which I know will delay my deplaning by at least twenty minutes.

Super Hot Soccer Moms

Traveling alone.  Never sit anywhere close to me.

Super Hot Soccer Mom’s Nine Year Old Son and Friend

Always, always, end up in my row.  Spend the entire flight playing video games and eating candy and some peanuts.

Friendly Traveler Who Looks Like He is Headed to Home Depot

I usually end up choosing a seat in that row because the environment looks benign.  Inevitably this individual attempts to strike up a conversation with me, which I can neither follow nor hear properly, so I frequently turn away and feign real disinterest (I’m actually only mildly disinterested).

Confused Elderly Traveller

Of course, I mean elderly compared to myself.  I guess that means anything north of fiftyish.

These folks are so disoriented that I feel a moral obligation to step in and try to help them manuever around the plane, just hoping they don’t try to strike up a conversation with me in the process.  God knows how that would go.  Get the sense now I like to keep to myself on these joyrides?

Case in point.  On my recent flight I snagged the very first seat in the cabin, which translates into a front row view of the goings on surrounding the forward lavatory.

Be prepared, because I’m not making the following stuff up.

For some reason, whether it was a hallucinogenic in the recirculated air, or peanuts, or gamma radiation leaking through the fuselage, pretty much every passenger over the age of fifty mightily struggled with the actual location of the front restroom and the associated door lock.  If it hadn’t been so scary, it would have been comical.

I’m not talking about one or two elderly gents or ladies.  I bet you at least ten displayed this same sense of disorientation.  I mean they would wander around trying to open the cockpit door.  For others, it was obvious they had extreme difficulty even identifying a door, in general or specifically.  One older lady tried her hand at unlatching the hatch on the side of the cabin — we all fortunately avoided instant decompression because she got distracted by a bag of pretzels on the opposite shelf.

But the weirdest thing was a succession of visitors who, when they miraculously located the right door to the right space, would never lock it.  I’d never seen something like this happen before.  I know the lock worked, because I tried it.  But how could all of these people miss it?

Was I the only one concerned?  We had several near misses — unplanned restroom sightings, where I felt obligated to step in and warn off the impending perpetrator.

“Hey.  Someone’s in there.  They didn’t lock the door.  Be careful!”

Funny thing is, I may as well have been speaking Japanese.  I would typically receive a condenscending smile, and they would continue on their merry way.  Fortunately, they were all just as flummoxed with operating the lavatory opening latch as they were understanding English.

Conclusion

After pondering the situation for a while and reaching Level 16 playing WordMole, I visited said lavatory myself.  It was only upon closer inspection of the interior that I figured out what was going on.

I have determined that any population requiring specific instructions regarding depositing trash into a bin, per the photo attached to the blog, deserve to have the sanctity of their airborne restrooms violated by the vast multitudes who cannot identify same, locate same, and lock same.

Perhaps World Peace is not possible after all.  Or maybe it is, if we all just don’t lock our doors.

Think about it.

Okay.  That’s enough.

- Dad

Do Not Drop That Baby

Me, 10 years old, with my newly-hatched sister.

I think there are a lot of unanswered questions about this photo that I need to consider carefully:

1) Why would my mom take a photo when obviously she should have taken the baby away as soon as I made that soul-stealing scary grin?

2) Why am I holding my sister like a bag of potatoes and not using proper baby-holding technique?

3) What am I supposed to be? A medieval noble? A princess? A Teen Mom star?

4) Why isn’t my sister in a real costume? Halloween-themed clothes do not count, even if she wears matching booties. Nope, try again, Mom.

5) Seriously, what is wrong with my face?

This photo was taken three days before I was arrested for being a shady, shady ten-year-old.

- Daughter

 

The Ten Types of Customers at Your Retail Store

The Talker

This customer is very friendly and wants to get to know you. No, not “you” but you. The true you. He or she wants to fist-bump your soul. This person is fun but  usually unaware of the angry mob of people behind him or her who are two seconds away from picking up decorative antlers and goring the Talker with them.

Grumpy Olds

Most old people are awesome examples of humanity. However, there are a few who purposely want to make you miserable for daring to cross their wrinkles. They complain about the newfangled gadgets they have to use to swipe their credit cards, they complain about the prices as if you control the cost, and they meet your greeting with a sneer.

The Clueless Chumps

They have no idea how to use a credit card, count, read, or speak English. You wonder how they haven’t died yet if Darwin’s survival of the fittest is to be believed.

The Let’s-Buy-1000000-of-This-Product-Because-It’s-on-Sale

“… hmm, this cart isn’t big enough… do you have a moving truck I can use to shop with?”

Tourists

Aka Out-of-Towners. They are the store’s biggest fans. You can see the sparkle in their eyes as they take in the store’s novelty merchandise. They stare with childlike wonder and you laugh your little cynical laugh, knowing the dark truth.

The Humorless, No-Nonsense People

They answer your questions with a curt “yes” and “ no” and don’t look you in the eye. Human interaction is but a necessary evil to get to their prized goods.

The Frazzled Mother

She is the one who covertly passes you items her children have picked up after they have pillaged various parts of the store that she doesn’t actually want to buy.

The Frazzled Father

He doesn’t know what he’s doing so he buys beer.

Entitled Whiny Butts

They expect you to perform magic tricks and bend store policies to suit their needs. (To train them out of this behavior, a firm tug on the leash will give a clear signal that this is bad behavior.)

The Alcoholic

“Hi, I just bought a bottle of this wine but I already went through it so I decided to drive back here and get another one!!!!”

- Daughter

 

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