Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And not a drop to drink.

Way back in the old days, before the world realized that water is actually good for you, children were not allowed to have very much of it. At nighttime, I’d have to beg for a sip of water. During the school day, there were three fountains for 326 students, and we could only use them for a brief moment to get a sip of lukewarm, slobbery wetness before a bell would ring and you’d wipe your chin and run. If you wanted a drink during class time, they answer was a definite NO. Probably because then you’d want to go to the bathroom, which was also not allowed during school hours, which was likely the same reason that I couldn’t have any water at night. In the 1970s and 80s, grownups were apparently very concerned that children were going to pee too much and interrupt other things (sleeping or sentence-diagramming) by said peeing. There was no such thing as water bottles unless you were on the basketball team, and then there were six to share amongst everyone.

Those days are gone. Now we’re all supposed to drink, at minimum, 43 gallons of water a day - peeing be damned. In fact, doctors recommend sitting on the toilet and ingesting water with a beer funnel if you have the time. My children get sent home with desparate pleas from their teachers to “PLEASE SEND WATER BOTTLE!” I don’t get this need for all children to have a potential spilly, leaky, wet thing on their little desks, but it’s probably just the era I was raised in. Keep in mind that gum, shorts and ball caps were a huge threat to proper education back then as well.

Anyway, in order to keep child protective services out of it, I send water bottles. And, even before the big BPA scare of ’08, I figured that mushy plastic capable of absorbing sharpie ink was probably not super good for their cute little livers, so I sprung for obnoxiously expensive stainless steel. Besides looking like nifty shiny thermoses, they’re great for making all kinds of noise. Perfect for school. And, they worked just fine until the linebacker started middle school. He came home the first day and said he could no longer use the sweet silver bullet-shaped bottle.

The ensuing discussion confirmed that I am probably not really all that qualified to be a parent.

Kid: Mom, they said I can’t use this water bottle at school.

Me: Why not? It was completely expensive and BPA-free! Also, did I tell you that it was completely expensive? Oh, I get it. This is like that stupid peanut butter shit, isn’t it? Some weenie in your class is allergic to stainless steel.

Kid: No, it’s because it’s not see-through. It has to be clear. I guess they don’t want us to bring beer to school or something.

Me (ruffling his hair): Oh you, Silly. That’s not it at all. You can’t bring beer to school because it is carbonated. You should only take hard liquor to school, and then something clear, like vodka. You have so very much to learn, sweetie.

Kid: Um, I want Daddy to drive me to school from now on.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Because every syllable counts.

Introducing the newest and most exciting theme day on the Internet that I just made up: Haiku Thursdays. Please leave me comments - but only in the form of the ancient poem known only by the most astute Japanese scholars, and all American second graders: Haiku.

You may choose the 5-7-5 method, or the 7-9-7. But I will like you more if you choose 5-7-5.

If you don’t comment, then I’ll know you’re JUST PLAIN SCARED.

Today’s topic: Puppies.
Forbidden words: Cute, Love.

Here's mine.

Puppy Chow breath wafts
Fuzzy balls have not yet dropped
Still you hump our guests.

Happy Haiku Thursday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Death of Poon the Gecko.

Sorry, Googlers. It’s neither a Spanish painting nor a sexual reference. I’m reporting today the sad news that the Little Dudes’ leopard gecko has gone on to the great aquarium with wood chips and plastic plants in the sky.

It’s not my fault, so stop looking at me that way. Sure, I groused about taking care of a tiny snake-with-legs, but I cared about Poon, dammit. Sorta. I gave him water. I purchased live crickets and dumped them in every Saturday. Poon was a terrible cricket hunter, that’s all. I mean, at first, he was all sneaky and pouncey, but for the past few months, he lost his will, and possibly his eyesight. Crickets would sit right in front him, wagging their teeny cricket tongues, but Poon couldn’t seal the deal.

When I found him recently, belly-up, spiky little toes curled in a final farewell, I couldn’t help but feel slightly relieved. No longer will I have to visit the geek department of PetSmart to buy live bugs for a reptile. True, I’ve met some really interesting and hairy people there. You have no idea how many Star Trek fans own lizards. But mostly, I was relieved that I no longer have to tell visitors to my home that the speckled thing behind the glass is named “Poon.” Go back with me in time, won't you, to the arrival of said Poon, two years ago…

It was December 21st, A fierce blizzard ravaged Colorado, stopping all activity, including sleighs and FedEx trucks. All scheduled deliveries to the state sat idling in on closed highways, hundreds of miles away. Mommies and Daddies frantically called UPS and Amazon.com. Where were the presents? Would they make it? Sadly, the answer was no. There would be no holidays for the children of Denver. December 22nd, another blizzard hits the Front Range, pretty much insuring that only prudent thinker-in-advance-types (whatever, brown-nosers) or super creative parents able to craft Nintendo games from toaster parts would have gifts for their children. December 24th, the clock is ticking. Loudly. My charming husband, being a loving and brave man, digs out a vehicle. Determined, I set off in search of any open retail outlet, fully planning on creating gifts from the pharmacy and liquor store.

Through the drifts there was a glowing red light. I crept towards it, thankful for four wheel drive and new wiper blades. A few brave souls had dug out the front of the PetSmart so that doggies and kitties across the Denver metro might get their kibble. Inside, I slipped on wet lineoleum floors around the "careful slippery floors" sign and slid into the reptile department. After years of saying NO FRICKIN WAY to owning a snake-with-legs, this would be the ultimate surprise for my darling babies! I left with lizard, ugly lamp thing, glass box, initial supply of nasty little crickets, and an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. Yes, Virginia, there is a gecko.

The next morning, after the hot chocolate and mimosas had been polished off, and all the wrapping paper cleared away, I had the following conversation.

Happy Six Year Old: Oh, Mom! I cannot believe we got a lizard! We will call him Poon!
Mimosa’ed Mommy: What? Huh? No. No, you can’t call him that.
Happy Six Year Old: Why not? Poon is a good name!
Mimosa’ed Mommy: No. Dude, it’s not nice.
Happy Six Year Old: Why is it not nice? What does it mean?
Mimosa’ed Mommy: Well, ummm. Uh, forget it. Poon is a great name. Does it say in there how long they live? And, where’s my glass?

Some things are better left unexplained.
So long, Poon.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Proceed with caution.

Last night I drove by a construction site downtown where they’re putting up a huge hotel. Traffic was squished down to one lane because a crane twenty stories up had just scooped up an enormous dumpster, like the size of a truck really, and was raising it to the top of the building. This massive hunk of a dumpster was hanging from cables and swinging around high over the street. As I crept along, a guy in hard hat and an orange vest scowled and frowned at me. He pushed his hand to the ground in that universal sign language for “slow the hell down” and then yelled in a yodelesque voice not unlike Tony Randall, “SLOOOW DOWN!” His eyes met mine and I dare say, his were filled with fear and hatred.

Really, Hard Hat Guy? You think? You guys are dangling tons of steel over the street, but if there’s an accident it will be because I’m going 7 miles an hour? Oh, and tell me again why should I slow down? So that the crane operator guy has a better chance of lining up right on top me before he releases it? Wouldn’t it make more sense for us all to go really damned fast and get the hell outta here?

What sort of training do you get, Hard Hat Guy? Any statistics or logics involved? How about some engineering studies to show how well a little plastic helmet protects under the stress of a falling dumpster? Any of that type of stuff? Or do they just tell you about dangerous vehicles hitting skinny guys in orange vests? Say, here’s a plan: You may be able to conquer your fear of oncoming traffic by NOT standing in it. Just sayin.

I wonder if your wife thinks you look hot in your "uniform." I wonder if she rubs your back at night, and is turned on by your life of danger. I wonder if you would instruct her to linger under the dumpster. Maybe you would because secretly you know she mocks you and your dayglo vest to her friends and mother. Come to think of it, you're just plain sick of her shit. She's probably home blogging while you're out in all kinds of weather and speeding cars just trying to support her lazy ass and that of her ungrateful no-good kid who's probably on drugs. And maybe I look just like her…and maybe you’re on your two-way beepy thing telling the crane operator to LET IT RIP! End it. End it today. You’ve had enough of the bitch and this time, no one’s getting out alive, not while you’re in charge of traffic flow anyway. This orange vest isn't just for the ladies, you know. Yeah. Maybe that’s it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mother's Little Helper.

Generally, Big Dude Little Glasses and I discourage the boys spending quality time with electronics. We’re kinda “go play outside” people, so the Little Dudes don’t watch much TV, they don’t play on the computer, they own a completely outdated and somewhat embarrassing PS2 rather than a cool Wii…and, this next part is bordering on cruelty, so if you’re a social services officer, please hop over to one of those scrapbooking blogs now…THEY HAVE NEITHER GUITAR HERO OR ROCK BAND. I know. How will they get by in college? We’re sorta counting on their skills playing real instruments to carry them through, but I admit we are indeed taking a risk with their social success.

The only reason we even own the PS2 is so we can have “alone time” while they’re awake. Getting lucky during daylight hours involves first saying “Hey guys…wanna play video games?” (when they were little it was the only reason we purchased Blues’ Clues videos.) In our house offering permission for video gaming is akin to grabbing your spouse in the small of the back, pulling them towards you and whispering breathily in their ear, “Dang baby. You hot.”

However, I just walked through a perfectly silent room with children in it. They both had little white earbuds in their heads, and lovely, cult-induced trance-like stares. They didn’t even know I was there. I could have had a grownup conversation right next to them with zero interruption. They didn’t need me to get them anything to eat. They weren’t begging for an air soft gun. They weren’t whining for a sleepover. They had absolutely nothing to say to me and they didn’t need a thing from me. Which begs the question: Where the hell were these things when they were babies? I was supposed to be thankful for the advanced technology of a stupid diaper genie and somewhere in Steve Jobs head there was the iPod? I have seriously bad timing.

I suppose I should make them take them off and interact with their family, but why? It’s so damned….peaceful. I guess that’s why my parents always encouraged me going to my room and listening to my music. They even got me a super cool stereo with tape to tape recording capabilities AND a record player. I was lucky, because while my friends moms were saying “turn it down,” MY mom was surprising us with bigger speakers and new Rick Springfield records. It was really…EEWWWWW! Oh holy crap, I just realized they were doing it WHILE I WAS IN THE HOUSE. And enticing me with electronics to get me out of the way. How sick. It’s just wrong. And brilliant.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Open Letter.

Hello Lady Driving in the Lane Beside Me.

It’s cute how you go the same speed as me whether I speed up or slow down. You’re somehow drawn to me. It’s very flattering. The thing is, I kind of need to get in your lane so I can take The Giant One to middle school. So, if you could just maybe choose your own speed so you’re either passable or get-behind-able, that’d be super.

You’re probably a teensy distracted by the large mass of mail you’re storing on your dashboard, so I understand you not really being able to notice traffic around you. Wow! That’s neat how all the mail reflects in your windshield! It’s like those cool laser displays in Air Force jets. You must feel like a total badass. I bet you can’t even see in front of you through it all, so I don’t know why I’d expect you be able to see off to the side. That’s just asking too much. I’m sorry.

Here, I’ll fix it. I’ll come to an almost complete stop over here on your right while you’re reading the Crate & Barrel sale flyer sliding in front of you as we round this corner. Then, a sharp left, and I can pull in behind you.

OK! Got it. You’re in front of me, whew. Oh, ummm. Pssst. This is kind of awkward. You still kind of have a John Kerry sticker on the back of your car. I, uh, don’t really know how to break this to you other than to just say it…well, it’s in great condition and all, but I am pretty sure that swift boat has kinda sailed, if you know what I’m sayin. Good news, though. I think you can get Obama ones, now. They’re shiny. And free! You just have to find the website or something I think.

Well, this is my left turn. There’s no pedestrians, so I’ll be going. You enjoy that passing lane now. Don't you worry about a thing. B’bye.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ted Williams' head is spinning in its freezer.

The only reason baseball was invented was to give people an excuse to drink beer and eat hot dogs in the sun on weekday afternoons, so I generally don’t watch it on television in October, since every one of those elements is missing. However, I’ve been seeing replays on SportsCenter and am troubled by one particularly odd thing. When celebrating in the locker room after a win, before dumping champagne all over each other, the winners of the playoff games stop and take the time to put on swim goggles.

You heard me. They’re completely exuberant from advancing in a playoff game. It’s the best day of their lives. They’ve worked all season for this very moment. It’s what they dreamt about as children in Little League. And then, just as their whole life culminates into an apex of glory…they pause. “Oh, just wait a sec here guys while I slip on my swim goggles. OK. THAT’S BETTER. Hit me with your bubbly! Wheeee! We won! We are the champions, my friend!”

This is very likely the weeniest thing I’ve ever witnessed.

I asked my pal in Boston about it, figuring as a loyal Red Sox fan he’d have some insight. Maybe the team was sponsored by Speedo or something, and they had to do it for product placement. His response? “Aww, c’mon! Champagne is carbonated alcohol! That would burn!” What a homer. Then why don’t they take the time to put on nose plugs and elbow pads, in case they slip on the wet locker room floor? Wouldn’t want to take a nasty hit to the funny bone when there’s baseball to be played!

Sure, I was raised an an era of no helmets, no seatbelts, no sunscreen. But when I was a kid, our Olympic Champion (who won seven medals, btw, one less than that other guy) was a fella named Mark Spitz. He had no form fitting space-age suit, and he had NO GOGGLES. Hell, he even had chest hair and a moustache. Did it slow him down? No sir. Did he worry about a silly little thing like chemicals from third-world pools getting in his eyes? No. No, he did not. He was going too damned fast. But overweight, Copenhagen-slurping baseball players are concerned with sparkling wine? I’m no sommelier, but is flying champagne really so effin’ toxic? If it’s that painful, here’s an idea - DON’T SPRAY IT ALL OVER THE DAMNED PLACE. I’m sure the janitorial staff will thank you, and you won't have to endanger your vision and shit.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How to tell if you live next door to us.

1. You find golf practice balls in your shrubbery and on your roof.
2. You know all the riffs to Sweet Home Alabama as heard through a Stratocaster Jr.
3. You have woken to see naked children jumping on a trampoline over the fence.
4. You have been attacked by water balloons while relaxing on your patio.
5. You have heard polka music wafting over the sounds of a family reunion.
6. You have helped carry a keg up the steps for a family reunion.
7. You have seen a bulldog sleeping on the back of a sofa like a 50 pound cat.
8. You know that Labor Day weekend there will be a CSU Rams flag flying proudly even when the CSU Rams suck, because there’s just no reason to like the Buffs even if they're better.
9a. You can tell what hunting season it is by what type of camouflage is drying outside.
9b. You can tell it’s early bow hunting season if the lawn is being mowed by a girl.
10. You’ve had children offer to exterminate pesky pigeons /squirrels/ mice / racoons for you with a Red Ryder BB gun.
11. You have at least one window with a pockmark from a Red Ryder BB gun.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A rose by any other name...might really stink up the joint.

Conventional wisdom says that mothers yell out their children’s full names when the kid is in trouble. I’ve never done it to my children and I likely never will. Wanna know why? Well, do you? Okay. It’s because I have a darned good theory that if you go screaming your children’s full names down the street, your kids turn into notorious bad guys. And if you call them by their initials rather than their name…they’re going to be jackasses. Whereas if you simply call them by their names, they’ll either be saints or rockstars. Here, let me offer you proof.

Murderers and assassins have first, middle and last names. Lee Harvey Oswald! Get off that grassy knoll right this minute! John Wilkes Booth, did you sneak out to the movies again? (The only anomaly in this example is if the child is named Theodore, nicknamed Ted, which guarantees they’ll be a psycho and/or a murderer even without a middle name, see: Bundy, Kaczynski.)

Jackasses go by their initials. “No, O.J., you may not use T.O. as your one phone call.” Sidebar examples to this point include Dubya and Eminem. And, depending on the appeals proceedings, we may have to start using Orenthal James soon.

Presidents and presidential candidates only have last names. Even though usually reserved as a method for high school boys to address each other, it’s perfectly acceptable for media, constituents, or anyone really, to call the leader of the free world by their last name only. Yo, Bush, what up? Where Obama at? Didja hear Clinton is taking a freshman to prom? Word.

Religious figures and rock stars only have one-word names that can be either be their first or last names, or even a cool noun. Hey, Ghandi, you seen Edge? Yeah, he’s at lunch with Bono, Buddha and Diddy.

This is probably why Hillary would’ve found more success on a world tour with Madonna or Prince than by campaigning for the presidential nomination. I could’ve told you that would never work. No one takes a first namer seriously in politics, only the music industry.

So I’ll just go on calling my boys Pete and Mike, thank you. Even though that’s not their names. It’ll keep them out of trouble.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Not cut out for this.

Helping my offspring with their homework makes me realize that home schooling at my house would probably end with a lot of expulsions and government investigations.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Heavy man. Real heavy.

The day I turned forty-one I gained ten pounds. I suppose it’s possible that I’d gained it progressively since the last time I’d weighed myself, but I’d prefer to think I simply woke up 10 pounds heavier on that day. “Whoa? What the? I’ve not seen a number that big since I had a linebacker in utero! This scale is a piece of shit.”

I described this sudden and irreversible weight gain to my sister in law. She’s in pharmaceuticals, which means not only does she know a whole bunch about medicine and diseases and all kinds of creepy things that can kill you, she also gets a free minivan every couple of years. She suggested an immediate trip to the doctor to get bloodwork done. Then she said “and you better pray it’s diabetes or thyroid disease so you don’t have to start exercising.” Amen, sister, amen.

Rather than spending the $25 co-pay, though, I’m thinking I could find out what’s happening by getting a hold of someone from the GAP. The same strange expansion of body size has also occurred in their corporate offices, I think, because I still wear the same size jeans I’ve worn since my weight was correct on my driver’s license. Which would be about 15 pounds ago. I think it’s called “vanity sizing," when they make clothes bigger than they should be so that forty year olds can walk around thinking they've got a size four ass when it's so very clear to everyone that they've got a size eight ass... it's either that, or I am simply becoming more dense with age. Like a fruitcake.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bipartisan Punctuation.

Just wondering if I have to be registered as a democrat to use commas liberally.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A tender tale of childhood.

This could surprise you, but I was raised by smart asses. Loving, kind, generous people to be sure, but they are also tremendous smart asses. My father’s standard answer to most questions from “Can we go to Disneyland” to “Can I have a slumber party?” was LET’S NOT AND SAY WE DID. He found great amusement in this.

One of my greatest days was when I heard a bible verse that said “Fathers, do not be irritating your children.” It became my standard answer for Let’s Not and Say We Did. (And most things my parents said and did from 1974 to 1988.) But in the end he got his way, because I was not only irritated but I also didn’t go to Disneyland or have the slumber party. And so the win goes to Daddy.

But surely the thing I heard most growing up was, (make sure you say this slowly, and pause a great deal at each comma) “Why is it that, whenever you have nothing to say, you open your mouth, and say it anyway?” This has the potential to be terribly disheartening and esteem-crushing to a regular kid. But to a child raised by smart asses, it is simply a challenge. So - I’d like to announce I no longer just open my mouth and say nothing. Now, when I have nothing to say, I type it up and post it on the Internet. So there. One point for me, Daddy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

One from the archives.

I wrote the following in 1985 when I should have been writing a critical analysis paper on the "Peloponnesian War" by Thucydides. Note to readers - do not be hungover and late on the morning of your university registration, or you'll end up taking "History of the Ancient Greeks" because nothing else is left. Hard to believe, but knowing the intricate details of a civil war fought in 430BC has not really come in handy in my life. Thus far, anyway.

Behold! The genius of my youth:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Don't ask me why he did, perhaps the lazy dog was on fire, and the quick brown fox was running to get some help or water or something. Or maybe the dog was really smelly, and the fox wanted to get away from it as fast as he could, and even though the fox was really quick, the fastest way was still to jump right on over him. It's really hard to say, I mean, we don't know the circumstances or anything, we are just assuming he jumped over him for fun or something and that is not fair to the dog or the fox. And who decided that the dog was lazy, anyway? Maybe he was just tired from putting up with that damned fox all day. Maybe he was just being polite, and pretending to be lazy, when actually he could have gotten up and kicked that stupid fox's ass. Maybe the fox was jumping because he knew the dog was going to get him sooner or later, and he might as well get a head start. It's really hard to say, and I wish people would think before they type.

There you have it. That right there is why I'm not a highly paid, tenured professor of Ancient Greek History today.

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