Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Like Things That are Great!

I am part of a 12 Step Recovery Program for compulsive spending and debting. It’s weird because I hate shopping and rarely seem to buy anything. But as I have gone through the 12 Steps (and they never end), one of the many things I have had to discover about myself is that I am often frequently perniciously overly sarcastic. Not sure exactly why, and I usually can get away with all kinds of comments in the name of humor, but I am not always honest.

Many of you nice folks who have started becoming frequent readers may be getting a one-sided view of me: Always cracking wise, pointing out flaws in people and things around me, building up myself by tearing others down. You know, real “Tears of a Clown” stuff.

One of Alec Baldwin’s many masterful appearances on SNL includes his turn as Tony Bennett. The shtick surrounds Bennett’s overly optimistic outlook, so much so that he introduces Kevin Federline as a “great, great divorcee.” (maybe he is a great divorcee. I don’t know what the criteria are).

Baldwin opens and closes the bit swinging in a dead-on groovy Tony Bennett:

“I love things that are great
Good things are fantastic.”
(To see the whole sketch, the video is on {unless you live outside the U.S.} or here on AOL)

So in the spirit of the Parody Tony Bennett (and to further my therapy), here are some random non-child related things I like:

So there you go People: some Bouquets to go with my Beefs. Let me know if there are Things You Like Because They Are Great (assume I know you like your kids and all their cute shenanigans)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vagenis or Mangina

Yesterday I moderated a debate between the 12 Y.O. and the 14 Y.O. the topic of which was: If a person was born with combined reproductive organs, would it be termed a Vagenis or Mangina? It really is no Algonquin Round Table in these parts.

I can't tell you who won, but I think I lost several IQ points preventing the idiocy from escalating to violence. It's amazing how passionate each child can become over an idea that only occurred to them 20 seconds before.

I'm glad all those years of school have really paid off for me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mean Girls Gone Wild

The school year is over and yet the cruel Tactics of Exclusion among the preteen girls continues. The 12 Year Old is now facing the unending stream of information (via text message, Facebook and the old fashioned telephone) about which end-of-year parties she is invited, un-invited or re-invited to. If we could harness the effort this pack of girls expends daily on crushing the hopes of their classmates, we could re-forest the Sahara with enough energy left over to boost the Seattle Mariners to a winning season.

I’m not naive enough to think my daughter is an innocent victim in all of this. Far from it. I suspect she is one of several rival Queen Bees in the hive; she engineers her own problems through gossiping. The 12 Y.O. succumbs to the saccharine allure of gossip so much, she is unable to distinguish school news such as test scores, field trips and assignment due-dates from third and forth-hand sleepover stories about who supposedly let a girl’s older brother tongue kiss them at a sleepover while her bellybutton was being pierced using only an ice cube and a turkey stuffing skewer.

Most of the gossip focuses on which boy Bethany, Brittney or Brianna likes and how Tiffany, Teanna or Tara hates her now because she liked the same boy. The irony is the boys who are the object of the squabble are completely oblivious to any of it. They are focused entirely on food and X-Box. Like cattle who don’t know they are at auction, but contentedly chewing and farting.

I tell the 12 Y.O. to mind her own business, and the other girls will have no ammunition to use against her, but détente is lost on her. Girls practice a ‘scorched earth’ policy to destroy the reputation of another girl if you heard she supposedly said something mean about you during lunch break. There have been more ups and downs on the social rollercoaster this year, it should be a ride at 6 Flags.

My sons I get. I can deal with them. The boys are simple. They are driven by base urges; they act and then it’s over. There is no planning and scheming and plotting. Heck, the 14 Year Old barely plans his next bowel movement.

I’m completely out of my depth. None of my sports aphorisms mean anything to her:

  • “You’ve got to step up to the plate”
  • “There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’”
  • “You’ve got to keep your eye on the ball”
  • “Suck it up and take it one play at a time.”

She just looks at me sadly like I haven’t got a clue.

And she’s right.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bathing the Crow

Today I gave the crow a bath. No, it's not a new euphemism for masturbating. I literally gave the crow a bath. He does not clean himself yet, and I wasn't about to assume the activities of the mother crow, what with my lack of a beak and appreciation of hygiene and all. So I filled the laundry sink with two inches of warm water and cleaned poop off the little, squawky guy.

I have found I've been doing a lot of unexpected things lately. I had to ask the 12 Year Old to remind me to get crow food when we go to the store. There's a sentence I never thought I'd say.

I bet tomorrow I'll have to tell the 14 Year Old to get the crow out of his pants. Then someone from Social Services will overhear me, think the worst, and take my kids away.

Maybe I'll just stay in bed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

“Where the Hell is the Phone?”

This was a phrase I never heard my father yell when I was a kid. My parents did not scramble frantically looking for the receiver under couch cushions or out on the patio. It was never a race to pick up the call before the answer machine kicked in.

My kids talk anywhere and everywhere: in front of the TV, outside, on the toilet. Of course they leave the cordless phone anywhere and everywhere too. Left under my daughter’s bed, it soon runs out of batteries, so you can’t even call it from the base with the locator button.

My parent’s phone also had a Receiver Location Device; it was an 8 foot knotted cord.

That was a simpler time. The phone (and there was only one) was always firmed secured in the same location. It even had it’s own desk in the kitchen with a phone book, calendar and a place to file bills; a spot of honour and respect for the business instrument it was.

Now the phone roams around, free of wires and cords but lacking any security and accountability. They are like communications drifters, like Matthew McConaughey between movie roles. They can send text messages, browse the Internet, take pictures and play music. Cell phones have become self-contained home entertainment centers, but they are not much good if you can’t find them.

There is no advantage to watching music videos on a phone forgotten in a jacket pocket at the back of the closet. I never misplace the television.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Crow Learns to Fly at The Lindsey Lohan Flight Academy

The foster Baby Crow, who is still nameless, is beginning to fly (Hmm, maybe I should call him Foster). He began by jumping up and down from the deck in the back yard with the aid of a couple of flaps. That led to a well timed jump up onto the Retriever's head. She was less than pleased.

The kids seized on the crow's attempts at flight, and decided they would provide further motivation. Nothing encourages learning like being thrown into something, literally. In the same way my grandfather taught me to swim by tossing my in the lake when I was 3, the kids hold the bird and toss it in the air 10 feet.

At it's apex, baby crow unfolds his wings and with all the grace of Lindsey Lohan on her way into rehab, flaps frantically down to the lawn. Rapidly he improved and now aims his tumbling decent to land on railings, chair backs and any Lab foolish enough to be within a 20 foot radius. His first solo is only a matter of days

By the way, I've never had a swim lesson in my life, and I haven't drowned. Yet.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What's with all the Nudity?

The kids continue to puzzle me with their hypocrisy. Both are rigid about what they will wear to bed; the hotter the better. The Girl insists on wearing underpants under her PJ bottoms. She finds it "too weird" to sleep with her privates completely exposed, in flannel.

This is the child who prefers to jump on the trampoline in the raw, especially if the lawn sprinkler can be turned on it. The 14 year old is the same way. Unsupervised trampolining for those two often results in an All-Nude-Sibling-Jumpoff.

As parents, we never had any hangups about modest nudity around the kids, but I can't figure out how ensuring they were not ashamed of their bodies resulted in their need to do front flips in their birthday suits. And they sleep dressed up like Cosmonauts.

The dogs are so much more sensible. They just lick themselves ,indoors or out, day or night.

Friday, June 13, 2008

How Much Life Expectancy is Too Much?

Yesterday the Washington Post announced that Life Expectancy has now passed 78 years on average, an all time high. And they promote this as good news? You mean I have to keep this “living” business up even longer? I just can’t catch a break.

Sleeping, eating, working, paying bills… Jesus, there are times when it just seems like a struggle to keep going for another day. And I don’t get the point. In the pre-civilization days, I’d be dead. I’ve already reproduced. My kids are soon going to be at a reproductive age. Biologically speaking, I’m no longer of any use. Certainly that’s what my Ex feels.

At only 41, I can feel the ravages of time. My knees hurt, by back gets sore, I need more sleep than I can ever get. And it’s not going to get any better over the next 30 plus years.

Instead of researching how to get us to live longer, how about making me feel like I was 22 a little longer. Before kids, before work, before significant debt. I was fast, lean, strong and could drink all night and do it all over again the next day.

I’d give up the years above 60, if the one’s between 40 and 60 were more like 20 to 30.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Dating Gift of the Magi

The 14 year old had his very first girlfriend this year. Like a religious convert, he became consumed in the relationship. Hand holding, illicit school ground kissing and afternoon TV watching couch fondling in the close proximity of his 12 year old sister. Considering I wasn't doing any kissing or fondling of my own since the separation, I was almost jealous.

Unfortunately, his preoccupation with the girlfriend (and all the giggling discussions with The Gang at school) significantly affected his mid-term report card. As you'd expect, the marks went waaay down. We and her parents grounded both kids from seeing each other until their marks came back up.

Of course they were still able to see each other at school, but what "trouble" could they get into there? Turns out plenty of trouble. The school has very little control over the students' extracurricular activities. It's no fun getting a call at work to say your kid was caught in the cloak room making out. What happened to study hall and homework and box socials?

News Flash. After a month of grounding, she broke up with him. Hit him like a Mac truck. Never saw it coming. POW!!!

The next day, we received his report card showing he had pulled his marks back up and was free to see her again.

Oh Sweet Irony...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Does Colin Farrell Keep His Shirt On?

While I do want to be able to make my living writing, it would be prudent to consider some other careers which allow a fellow to wear jeans and don’t frown on bringing dogs to the job site. Since Jimmy Buffet already has Being Jimmy Buffet wrapped up, I’ll have to consider some others:

  • Drifter (although the money’s lousy and the kids don’t seem to respect it)
  • Forest Ranger back in the 1950’s

If anyone has any other good ideas for me while I wait for the money to roll in, feel free to drop an email. And don't bother suggesting Colin Farrell - with all the swearing, I'm sure I'd lose any visitation with the kids.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Lost Hypochondria Weekend

Sometimes the term "parent" is just another expression for "nurse". It's has all the thrill of taking care of an unappreciative sick person, with even less public respect and no pay. Oh yeah, the pleasure of going to the pharmacy to pay for remedies the kid will complain about and you know won't do anything because THE KID ISN'T REALLY SICK!

When I went to school, if you felt unwell, you weren't allowed to go home. Instead you paid a visit to the School Nurse. The nurse was the last person on the parochial totem pole. Even the guidance counselor avoided the nurse. Some of you may say the janitor was at the bottom of the food chain, but the consider nurse was not even wanted by her own kind at the hospital. That's why she was in a school!

Besides, the janitor
held the school community on a weird sort of fear/respect. He had the trash can of sawdust to throw on puke and everyone knew it. He was like a demi-god who controlled an unusual weather element - like sleet or Gary Busey.

No, the school nurse was the last person you wanted to spend any time with. She was either so grateful to have another warm body to spend time with, even the end-of-day bell might not save you from her battery of unnecessary tests. Or she was so bitter at life, her bedside manner was only slightly more humane than a Dachau "research scientist". Bottom line - the existence of the school nurse was a great deterrent for kids claiming to be sick to avoid work.

These days, the school nurse has long ago been replaced with The Call Home. Any time Jordan or Jesse (both non-gender specific) feel any slight tickle or an errant shove in the hall, the Office makes a call home. Combine that with our overly litigious society, and no school is willing to keep your kid if they are less than fit to serve on a NASA space mission.

So on Friday, I got a call from the 12 Y.O.'s school saying she had a slight throat swelling after getting bumped in gym and could I come get her.

What do you do? You can't refuse, because now you are the Dad who left his ill child at school, and we all know that goes on Your Permanent Record. (Mine must need it's own mini-storage unit now). Gone was an afternoon at work, which I still need to make up.

She was fine, by the way, but now her 'sickness' has the support of a cornerstone of our social infrastructure: the Public School System. She spent the weekend moaning and spitting like she was in worse shape that Jeff Goldblume at the end of The Fly.

Next school, I'm giving them a fake number.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Animal Husbandry isn't as Sexy as it Sounds

We are raising a crow baby in a box. It has been nearly two weeks now, and I didn't think CB would make it through the first night. It came to us a naked, ugly, squawking, pooping little lizard and now it is a partially feathered, smelly, squawking, pooping modest sized neo-bird.

The dogs don't quite know what to make of it. They do know it is not food though. The Lab shows a healthy curiosity, but I can tell he is one muscle twitch away from the Rat Killing Incident (see previous blogs). The Retriever can't wait for it to be stronger so she can carry it around like a pup.

CB sits on the lawn and screams at the dogs every time they race by. He doesn't know that his half-a-pound frame would not stand up to those thundering paws well.

Flight is only a week away. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Making Out Is Hard To Do

From time to time over the course of the separation, The Ex and I have slept together. Sometimes it's just sleeping. Less frequently it's more. But it's never Making Out. I used to really like Making Out. Certainly in high school and beyond, Making Out was a rush not just of hormones, but of circumstances.

"I can't believe Wendy is kissing me!" or "I can't believe Stacey is letting me put my hand up her shirt!" is what I'd be screaming inside my head while we crushed each other on a crummy old sofa at some Friday Night basement party.

I didn't need the plaintive melody of Styx "Babe" to remind me that this was all it was going to be, because just Making Out was enough. I'd be on a two day high, until I saw Karen or Stacey again on Monday and it would be all awkward because they were now Going Out with Doug or Neil or Salvadore (I hated losing girls to Salvadore. Stupid Exchange Program!).

But in adulthood, Making Out became Foreplay, which is supposed to be a prelude to Sex. Yes, it is a pleasant prelude, if you do it right, but the kissing and fondling are now just an appetizer for the main course. Now don't get me wrong; I love the main course. But sometimes, I like to go to a restaurant and just have several appetizers and nothing else.

The romance (and heat) of a passionate embrace can be even more intimate than naked intercourse. I know this to be true, because the Ex and I can have sex, but Making Out would make things weird.

How weird it that?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Coloring for Adults

Normally watching sports on TV is impossible with the kids. The Girl wants to watch The Hills or The OC or any show where beautiful teenagers complain about how misunderstood they are. “I’m so unhappy despite having plenty of money, low body fat and clear skin.” The Boy wants to watch anything she doesn’t. And both of them demand to be taken to Mom’s if I want to watch baseball, football, hockey, tennis or MMA.

It’s essential to find a distraction for them and, since they are significantly under 19, we can’t go to the sports bar. And the Ex would frown on the presence of pole dancers.

Boston Pizza becomes the sports-and-family-friendly venue of choice for the single dad. We went this weekend so I could watch the Celtics play the Pistons. The kids knew why we were there, but as long as they can have mozzarella sticks and milkshakes, they could be at a lecture about database security and not care. Weird thing is if I made mozza sticks and milkshakes at home, I’d still get grief if I had a game on TV.

When we sat down, the kids were given coloring placemats and crayons. Now they are waaaay too old to color at home, but at Boston Pizza, they dove right in, arguing over who used up the blue or red Crayola. Around the restaurant were other families with kids diligently coloring between the lines, and a few Free-Thinkers coloring wherever they pleased.

It made me think about what point I stopped coloring; I remember loving it as a kid. I will still do other kids things if the opportunity presents itself: airplane models, jigsaw puzzles, running through the sprinklers in my underpants. But I would never consider sitting down with a black and white outline of a scene and a box of crayons.

You can go online to, select a new picture every day use the palette tool to fill in the shapes and post it. However, just like anything on-line (such as cooking or porn), you miss the smell and feel of the materials.

I must start coloring again, and let you know if it comes back like riding a bicycle. Or eating paste.