Monday, December 31, 2007

Clerk at a 7-11, Pumped Gas at a Sunoco, Led a Small Country

I was out the other night with some of the out-of-towners who came home for the holidays.  It's been a while since I've been out, and I think I've forgotten the routine.

At one point, someone mentioned that some of the kids in the place probably hadn't been born yet when we graduated high school.

That's one of those perspective shifts that sneaks up and kicks you in the nuts.  It's like that time I grew some facial hair, got fat, shaved the facial hair, and realized how fat I had gotten.  Which was yesterday.

Anyways, it brought on this whole thought process of what it was like to be 19.  How different our priorities were.  How rosy our perceptions were.  How *passionate* we were about everything.  (I use "passionate", but feel free to substitute "hormonal" or "crazy" if they seem more appropriate.)

I remembered the chipped tooth from the drunken blowfish on the phone booth,  The ticket for doing 30 over in a residential zone.  And that message left on Jen's machine that I wanted desperately to take back.

Then today I hear that Bhutto's 19 year old son is leading his mom's party in Pakistan's next election.  I wonder what kind of phone messages that kid leaves?

But he's sure gonna have a helluva resume when he finishes college.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh River

There are some words I can't spell.  "Wherever" is one of them.  My mind objects to the contraction without the apostrophe.  I use work-arounds.  I say "every place" instead.

Today I discovered that I've been misspelling a word for pretty much all of my life.  Now this is quite dismaying for someone of my stature.  I am a word-snob.  I consider myself to be the interactive edition of Webster's *Unabridged* Dictionary.   I was even gonna have a T-shirt made that said so.  Just to make it official.

The word was "rapport".  I've been  writing it as "repoire" all of this time.  And I mean *all* of this time.  From college papers to curriculum vitae to business documents, "let's build repoire".  Dammit.

So, in my quest to vindicate myself, I did a Google search to prove it was a real word.  That it was one of those gray/grey,  chaise lounge/chaise longue, kinda words which got bastardized from the original when it was Americanized.  "Late-Nite Drive-Thru" pops to mind .

But instead of proof, I find that it's actually a common misspelling, which might have been intentionally Frenchified when created by pseudo-intellectuals.  And then I come across a thread which compares it to the likes of walla and buku.

"Walla" and "buku"?

Oh, I get it.

Oh River.

Did He Make Bagels?

There's a whole new generation of kids out there who have no idea who Albert Einstein is.

And it worries me that people who were such huge contributors to mankind can just drift away like that.  After all, it's *Einstein*.  It's not like I'm talking about PeeWee Herman. 

The truly sad part is that it makes the tried-and-trued witticism of  "Way to go, Einstein" totally irrelevant.  Classic, no frills method to applaud stupidity.   Gone.

All this makes me feel old and dated.  When my put-downs revolve around what have become obscure figures in history, I feel like a dork.

Yesterday, I was arguing with a kid who wouldn't keep his shoes on.  "I've got *one* on," he says.  "What are you?" I asked, "the Michael Jackson of shoes?  Put both your damn shoes on."

He had no idea what I was talking about.

What's to become of society if we throw our greats to the wayside?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Just Blow, Dammit.

I believe children don't understand the concept of discomfort.

As adults we have a wide spectrum of existence: pain exists on one end and pleasure on the other, but the bulk of the middle is occupied by everyday blahness, or perhaps a bit of discomfort.  Our pants are too tight, our skin is dry, the damn canker is back.

But kids live in a different spectrum.  I think they really only have two states.  "Okay" and "Not Okay".  And almost everything is "okay".    You think you're clever and bend down to the five year old who has his shoes on the wrong feet, and ask in a knowing voice, "Doesn't anything feel strange?  Does anything feel wrong?"  And the kid says, "Nope.  It's all OK."

How do you argue with that? 

And wet socks.  And t-shirts in winter.  And knit caps in summer.  And shoes with no laces.  As adults who need warm towels and fleece linings and heated seats, it all makes us cringe.  But to a kid, it's all "Okay".

Want to know what's not "okay"?  Pinching a kid's nose 7 times in an effort to get a booger out. 

I think I should have read the signs after the 6th time, but I was really focused and I almost had it.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I've been on a mission to get the kid to use "y'heard?" as one of his first phrases.  If for no other purpose than to one day hear him eventually belt out, "Mommy, milk! Milk!  Y'heard?"
Now, I'm no expert at child linguistics, so my basic approach has been to punctuate almost everything I say around the baby with "y'heard?". 
"I'm gonna change your diaper.  Now hold still, y'heard?"
"Quit shaking that bottle, y'heard?"
"Are we having fun on the swing, y'heard?"  (This last one doesn't really make sense, but it emphasizes how hard I'm trying with this, and how it's permeated every part of my dialogue with my child.)
Sometimes I feel guilty about doing this.  It's like I'm treating the rearing of my boy like one big practical joke. 

I really don't want a smartass kid. I'm just worried about when he's 12, and saying "y'heard?", and it's no longer cute, maybe, just maybe, I'll have to admit I had a bad idea.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Makes Me Wanna Buy Noseplugs...

When I was little, I was under the impression that smells of things were actual little particles of the things floating through the air, and then  getting caught up in your nose and triggering the sense.

For some smells, this seems reasonable. Especially stuff like smoke or a perfume spritz, where you can actually see the  thing you're smelling.  The idea is acceptable enough when smelling coffee, but can be particularly disconcerting when smelling someone else's fart.

Fortunately I have an engiineer friend who straightened me out.  Smells are actually certain chemical elements which emanate from the object.  I dunno.  Still doesn't make me feel that much better.

But this all reminds me of a story which I will blatantly steal. 

A couple Carol knows were at a party.  They are generally a very fun couple, but this particular night wasn't a good one, and they knew few people, so they decided to sit in the corner alone and just get hammered.

The plan was going swimmingly, and the couple was having a grand old time in the corner.  But the party was beginning to pick up, and occasionally, others would come and intrude/interrupt the couple in the corner.  After all, it *was* a party.  In one lull between intrusions, the lady farted.  A good one.  Sulfur like an old egg sandwich mixed with a touch of hell. 

Did I mention this was a work party?  I didn't?  Well, maybe I'm making that part up for dramatic effect.  So anyways, the boss chooses this particular moment to head over to make a visit.

"Hurry up and inhale," demands the wife.

"What?" the husband asks.

"I just farted and I need you to help me inhale all the fart up."

So the two sat in the corner, drunk as skunks and breathing as deeply as possible in order to inhale all the possible fart particles out of the air before the boss got there.

See?  I'm not the only one who believes in fart particles.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sometimes Your Words Just Hypnotize Me...

Carol believes that when you hate someone, often it's because there's something about them that reminds you of yourself.

I find this an intriguing concept.  I remember there had once been this psychological study done on the attractions of humans to other species.  And it turned out that there *was* a relationship between how similar an animal was to us, and how cuddly we believed it to be.  For example, we generally tend to find mammals cuter.  Think about it, tuna vs.dolphin.  Same basic shape, color and size.  Which would you rather have as a pet?

Anyways, so I thought back on some people who I've had an unnatural/unsubstantiated peevage for over the years. ( Unsubstantiated is key.  If you hate the guy who closed down your favorite summer camp so that he could make a race track *cough* Paul Newman! *cough*  that's totally justified. )

I remembered this guy that I used to run into at the bars when I went to bars.  I never talked to him, didn't know his name, but I hated him.  Analyzing the situation, I realize there might be some truth to Carol's theory.  He truly was a mirror.  A reminder of what I was one bad haircut, a little paunch, and a "Member's Only" jacket away from being.  He was my doppelganger, and I just wished he was cooler.

So in hating others, you are actually hating a little bit of yourself.

Carol hates Biggie Smalls.  Read into it what you will.

East Syyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyde!  

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm Going Off The Rails...

Now to call me a *particular* driver might be accurate.  I have a series of rules and protocols which make sense to me, but maybe not to everyone.  And little things bother me.  If it sounds like neurosis, I guess it's pretty damn close.  I'm a bit like Rain Man.  2+2 is 4, and I'm a very good driver.

But when I'm a passenger in a car, I find myself muttering things under my breath.  Little subconscious editorials of how the other person's driving.  Almost Tourettish in a way.

When I think the person is going too slow, or has the opportunity to pass, I'll say "zoom, zoom".  Or I'll sing, "pass the dutchie on the left hand side", which in this particular area would actually be correct about about 25% of the time.  If, in addition to the people from Holland, you counted Germans as being from Deutschland, this particular part of the song could be eerily correct about half of the time.  Though some might considerate it derogatory to call people "dutchies".. 

I don't even realize I'm doing this most of the time.  But once the driver breaks the code, they usually tend to get a bit irritated.
And the thing about irritating bad drivers is, they tend to get worse when irritated.  Which brings on a whole vicious circle of more mutterings and more irritation.

My ultimate muttering?  "Ack".  If heard, this would count as my worst criticism, since it means I believe my life is in danger at your hands.

Ditto if you hear me singing "Crazy Train".   Aye, aye, aye.

Friday, November 16, 2007

If You Use A Paper Towel As A Plate, This Recipe Only Messes Up 2 Spoons.

I'm not a great cook.  My goal in cooking is ultimately to minimize dishes.  Everything gets cooked in one pot/pan, which generally also serves as the final serving/eating dish.
My bachelor years were comprised primarily of turkey sandwiches and fried eggs.  Lots of protein.  One dish.

But that's not to say I haven't come up with some fantastic recipes of my own.  Case in point:
Ghetto Pie A La Mode
Toast one slice of white bread.  Not multi-grain, whole wheat, organic or any other crap like that.  The cheapest, mushiest white bread you can find.
Spread 3 tablespoons of applesauce per piece of toast.
Top with vanilla ice cream to make it a la mode.

Now, some may say this sounds awful, or not even like a real recipe, or nothing like pie.  To them I say, the name starts with *ghetto*.  It's not like you weren't warned.  And I beg of you to try it before you put it down.  It can surprisingly hit the spot, and miraculously make 5 year old nieces and nephews shut the hell up when the only other item in your fridge is sliced process cheese.  (don't try to call it cheddar and melt it on your ghetto pie.  That's just taking it too far.)
But now, I guess the scariest part is that I'm the culinary expert of the house.  Discussion from yesterday:

Carol:  Hold on baby, mommy's cooking up something for you.

Me: Whatcha cooking?

Carol:  Oh, I'm heating up a bottle for formula.

Me:  Um.  You're warming up water in the microwave and calling it "cooking"?

Carol:  Shut up.

On the Island of Misfit Toys, even a one-armed, cross-dressing Mr. Potato Head can be king.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"And *This* Is What I Think of You and Your 26.2 Miles..."

Back in 2000, I ran the NYC Marathon.

Let me rephrase that.

Back in 2000, I *jogged* the NYC Marathon, using a unique stride I call the "old man shuffle".  What distinguishes walking from running is that with walking at least one foot is always on the ground.  What distinguishes the old man shuffle, is that at any point in time, both feet are always on the ground.  They just drag alternately in front of the other.

I can proudly say, however, that aside from a urination break on a tennis court in Brooklyn, I never broke that stride.  And it was a helluvan experience.  It's made me love everything about the trip.  I love New York.  I love marathons.   I love little kids standing on the side of the street handing out orange wedges and bits of Snickers and cheering you on. 

I didn't love putting used toilet paper in the garbage can in SoHo.  What's up with that?

Anyways, so it was with some interest that I saw that Paula Radcliffe won the NYC Marathon for 2007.  It was with even more interest that I read she'd just had a baby in January.  And finally, it topped the cake to see the picture.

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The kid's double saluting with both hands.

Marathoners have the coolest kids.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


My mum had to jet off this week for a funeral.  Apparently she was in such a rush, she wasn't able to tie up her loose ends.   I get a call from her at the airport, requesting that I pick up fabric samples from her house and go to a small quilting store in town.  Say her name.  They would know what to do.

Very mysterious, no?

As instructed, I find the little baggie of quilting material on her front bench.  I take it to the store and wait patiently in line as the woman in front of me pulls a discount code from a jar and nearly pees her pants for 20%.  She's saved 8.94 on her gingham alone.  You go, girl.

My turn:

Me:  I'm not sure if I'm in the right place, but...

Lady at the Counter:  Oh, you are.

Me:  Okay, my mum told me to show this to you (baggie of material)  and pick up a new baggie.

Lady:  (looks from side to side then grabs a new baggie from a box and hands it to me)   Just take it.  She's actually not allowed to do it this way.  She has to come in herself.

Me:  But she's across the country at a funeral.

Lady:  That's fine.  Just take it.  It's supposed to be $7, but just take it.

Me: Um. Okay.  ...   ...  So what's this all about?  Is it like a Quilt Fight Club?

No response.

Me:  You know.  Like the first rule of Quilt Fight Club is don't talk about Quilt Fight Club?

At this point, I can hear them whistling over her head, as she gives me the same condescending smile she probably reserves for kids who fart at dinner and giggle.

Me:  Well, thanks then.  She won't be back by next Saturday, so I guess I'll see you again to pick up her next fix.

Very mysterious.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Baby Stomach Flu In Three Acts

Act One: (The family is sleeping on the living room floor.  After four rounds of vomiting, the baby is sleeping on a pile of towels.  It's some time around 3 am.)

Carol:  Hey...  get up... 
Me:  Wha?  Huh?  Is he throwing up again?
Carol:  No.  But you should get up and go to bed.
Me:  Wha?  Why?
Carol:  You might as well.  Go sleep on the comfortable mattress.  Get a good night's sleep.
Me:  Wha?  Um.  But I *was* getting a good night's sleep until you woke me up.
Carol:  Oh.  Right.  Um.  Can I go to bed then?  Cuz you're snoring and I could really use the rest.

End of Act One.

Act Two:  (song sung to the baby during bathtime after a violent blowout.  The baby's been having diarrhea about every two hours for two days now.  It's about 7 pm.  Oh, it's sung to the tune of "I Think I Love You" by the Partridge Family.)

       I think I love you,
       But stop splashing your shit-water on me,
       Because I don't want to get hepatitis B,
       Or pinkeye, like we saw in that movie.

End of Act Two.

Act Three: (Some time about 4 weeks from now.  In the living room.  It'll probably be about 7:30.)

Carol:  What's that smell?
Me: I dunno.  I got a whiff of it earlier, but couldn't place it.
Carol:  It's worse close to the couch...   Oh dear god...  What the hell is that?  How the hell did we forget that in there?  Get a bag! Get a bag! Quick!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Boeuf Bourguignon Please. The Floor's Fine.

My mum thinks we should pay her for babysitting.

I countered with the fact that she should pay us for housekeeping, since the kid eats every single thing on her goddamn floor and leaves that house spotless.

I don't get it. It'll literally be minutes after he's eaten, and he'll find something on the floor and shove it in his mouth. He'll spit out the meal I've cooked for him, or throw it off the tray, but god forbid there be a bit of old cookie on the floor. Or paper. Or a dust bunny.

He's taken to doing something new, which is eating *phantom* items off the floor. He'll crawl. Stop. Sit up. Look like he's picking at something. And put it in his mouth. And there's nothing there. But as a parent it still totally freaks you out.


I don't know how to stop it. I thought maybe if I crammed him full of food, he wouldn't be as interested. But that only ended up getting me a kid that makes other people say, "He's only *how* old?"

I remember that to train a dog from chasing cars you're supposed to make it an unpleasant experience. Drive by slow and when the dog starts chasing the car, hose him down with water guns and blast air horns at him.

How can I make eating crap off the floor unpleasant? Scatter the floor with little bits of Roquefort and capers? I know that would make me quit in a hurry.

But it'd be awful if he ended up liking those too. Great. A kid who'll only eat French cuisine off the floor.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why Doesn't He Just Turn Them Inside Out?

Men are often given flack for those four or five disintegrating pairs of underwear they keep in the back of the drawer. The reason for their existence is sometimes chalked up to sentimental issues, but I think it's more of a learned survival behavior.

When you've reached the lean end of a laundry cycle, a pair of raggedy underwear is better than no underwear at all. A pair of raggedy underwear is better than underwear which has seen any sort of action.

I have a friend who takes this one step further and believes that wearing no underwear is better than underwear which has seen any sort of action. So, if he were to stay over somewhere unprepared, in the morning he would get up, take a shower, fold up his underwear, stick it in his pocket and go commando. The first reaction is to consider him a weirdo, but there's a small part of me that totally understands what he's doing.

Anyways, raggedy underwear serve as the safety buffer of the underwear drawer.

In our kitchen we have one of those big Henckel's knife blocks with the five million knives sticking out of it. When I got up this morning, the knife block was absolutely vacated. Even the fillet knife had made its way out and was in the sink. I don't remember catching a fish. Closer inspection shows margarine and toast crumbs.

Apparently, the fillet knife is the raggedy underwear of the knife block.

Apparently, it's time to do the dishes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Take My Advice...

I always wanted to be some type of consumer reviewer. I thought I'd be good at it. Buy things and then complain about them. I do that all the time and I don't even get paid for it.

I tried the "secret shopper" gig for a little while, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. There wasn't enough space for creative, freeform complaining. It was all very regimented. How long did it take for the burger? Did they ask if you wanted fries?

Plus the fee was so low, it's essentially a job which pays you in burgers and Cinnabons. It brings up images of me standing on a corner holding a sign that says, "Will Werk For Fud". And I swore I'd left those days behind.

I wonder if wanting to be a reviewer has something to do with wanting your opinion to matter. Or thinking you know what's best for other people.

Maybe career reviewers are like that one uncle everyone has who gives unsolicited advice. On everything. All the time.

I don't want to be that guy. So I'll reserve all my judgements and keep my opinions to myself.

Except this one.

Vista sucks donkey balls.