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.