Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sometimes It is Fun to Change at the YMCA

There is a doctor in town who should be a veterinarian.  I know many people, myself included, who have had terrible experiences with him. More than once, I have fantasized about strangling him with his stethoscope. But, I am happy to report, that will no longer be necessary.  Last week he walked into the locker room at the Y while I was changing. I said nothing, of course, because that's the way I roll. I just turned my back to him. As he was changing, though, I became more brave. It really is true that it is impossible to be intimidated by a naked person. I turned to face him. Tension filled the room- a duel was imminent. Each of us stood there and quickly sized up the other. I fought the urge to giggle. And when our eyes did finally meet, it was over. He looked away, a beaten, lesser (by a lot) man.

Friday, October 29, 2010

This Will Never Get Old

Setting:  Parking garage of Children's Hospital. Mom and dad are unloading baby and stuff, preparing to go in for baby's MRI.

Me:  Are we going to bring in our coffee?
Wife:  I wasn't planning on it.
Me: Okay. Us Mensans don't need attitude. A simple "yes" or "no" works just fine.


just got a lot cooler.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

11 Words

I asked followers of Unconventional Wisdom's Facebook page to write one word in the comment section of a post. The following are the words they submitted:


I intended to use the list for writing practice, to see if I could write a post featuring each word. Here is what I came up with:

October 24, 2010

Some random words:  Dude, loquacious, hola, word, one, conventional, decency, boob, neologism, skrote, tired.

There.  I think I’m really growing as a writer. Don’t you?


Let’s try again:

“Hey, SKROTE, what’s up?”

“DUDE, I could tell you in ONE WORD: TIRED.”

“LOQUACIOUS today, huh?”

“I was out too late last night, went to a movie.”

“What did you see?”

“Something About Mary.”

“Oh, yeah. I’ve heard about that one. I can’t remember what it’s called either.”

“Something About Mary.”

“Yeah, that’s all I can remember too. Hmm. Mary. It’s definitely something about Mary. HOLA, Mary?  No. Oh well, it’s too early to think. It’ll come to us.”


“Were there any BOOBs in the movie?”

“Brett Favre.”

“Oh, that’s right, forgot he was in that. Where’s the DECENCY?”

“He’s not the CONVENTIONAL choice, that’s for sure. Maybe he’s related to the director.”

“Oh, you think a bit of NEOLOGISM was in play?”

“You mean nepotism. NEOLOGISM is when you coin a new word or phrase.”

“Oh.  Well, don’t I have a ballsack on my face! How embarrassing.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Don't Piss Me Off

“I tell ya:  The boys over at DirecTV sometimes make it hard to do business with them.  Every time I call customer service, I want to strangle the person, and then poke him or her in the eyes.”    

“You should write a letter,” Stacy told me.

“Can’t. My days of writing letters of complaint are over. In fact, I’ve only written one.  I was eight years old when the Suits at CBS decided to play hardball with Bo and Luke. They brought in Coy and Vance, who were supposed to be cousins of Bo, Luke, Daisy, and each other. First of all, Coy and Vance were assholes. But I also had trouble buying more Duke cousins. I mean, really. You mean to tell me that Jesse had four nephews and one niece, none of whom were siblings, who didn’t have anywhere else to go?  Sorry. That means that he had at least five siblings who had one child he/she couldn’t take care of. Anyway, I was not happy about it, so my mom finally put me in front of a sheet of paper and told me to write a letter to CBS. I went after them pretty hard, as I recall; I told them they were dumb and so were Coy and Vance.  I don’t remember specifics, but whatever I wrote worked, because Bo and Luke were back before that season was over. I was glad, but it was always in the back of my mind that Coy and Vance were out there somewhere, licking their chops, waiting for a chance to go back to the farm and freeload off of poor Uncle Jesse. Even with Bo and Luke back, the show never really recovered. But I don’t think I could ever hope to top the success I had with that letter, so I retired. Unbeaten. Me 1, stupid suits 0. ”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Which One of These People Doesn't Belong?

“Nationally, 75% of the people who take this test, pass it,” the proctor of the Mensa admission test told the eight of us.   We were gathered in a low-ceilinged, poorly lit room in the basement of a county library to see if we were as smart as we thought we were. “In Minnesota, we are about 10% better than that,” the proctor boasted. 

“Okay,” I told myself, “So about 82.5%, or roughly 6.5, of us should pass. That means that little guy isn’t going to make it. He has to be the half. Who’s the other one? I crunched those numbers pretty quickly, that’s a good sign. I thought ‘quickly’ instead of ‘quick’, that’s good. Also, I’m pretty proud of the half a person joke I came up with. Gotta remember that.”

The questions on the test Mensa gives are not necessarily hard, but the test is timed, and there isn’t much time.  That is how the test measures intelligence- one must be smart enough, for example, to look at the multiple choice answers of a complex math problem before spending a lot of time on it. Often, one doesn’t need to solve the problem; one simply needs to figure out which of the 4 choices it must be, i.e. a question may ask, “What number is 3 less than 3/5 of 75% of 200.” We could figure it out, but it’ll take some time. Maybe if we look at the answers first, two of them will be over 200, and thus automatically disqualified, and one may be 12- way too low. The answer is the only remaining choice, whatever the number is.

The proctor explained that, in order to qualify to become members of Mensa, we would need to score at least 80% on this test, putting us in the 98th percentile nationally. 

“Now, you may be asking, ‘How can 75% of the people who take this test be in the top 2%’?  Well, because this is a self-selecting crowd. And, I shouldn’t need to tell the people in this room what that means,” he quipped. It was the first of many “We‘re all pretty smart” jokes we heard that day.  “If I have to ask where to put my name, should I just leave?” “My wife sent me here. I’m not sure how to feel about that. Either she wants me to prove to myself that I am smart, or she wants to prove to me that I’m not as smart as I think I am.”  “I can’t bend a spoon simply by thinking about it. Is that okay?”  “My mind is not a steel trap, but it is a dense plastic polymer, so I feel pretty good.” (Those last two were mine. I couldn’t resist.) And so on.

The test was divided into two parts, with a 15-minute break in the middle.  I quit smoking a long time ago, so I never really know what to do with breaks anymore. I figured I would use the bathroom, and amble around the library for whatever time I had left. Luckily, I wasn’t married to that idea. This helped me remain calm when I accidentally dribbled urine on my shorts. Most of my 15-minute break, then, was spent directing the air dryer at my shorts, drying them enough that I could leave the bathroom standing tall. I returned to the test room in time to catch the end of a conversation, which I gathered involved everyone talking about what it was like to be so smart. I was glad I had pissed on myself. I sat in my seat and half listened, half looked around to find the person who was not going to make the grade. I was aware of the poker saying which states that, “If you look around the table, and can’t find the sucker, the sucker is you.”  Soon, the voice of the woman next to me cut through my mounting anxiety.   She began carrying on about how, whereas she knew plenty of people who could be fooled, she was not one of them. And she complained that there was only one person in her life who she could talk to. Everyone else was just too dumb. Later, someone mentioned humor, and my neighbor damn near fell out of her chair. “I know! I have the best sense of humor of anyone I know. About 10 years ago, I was waiting for a bus at a bus stop. There were two other women there, they were sisters, and they were, ahh, um, not white. Anyway, it comes out that they were 11 months apart. So I said, ‘Okay. So you’re Irish twins.’ And they were like, ‘Do we look Irish?’ They totally didn’t get the joke!”

Lady, you didn’t have to stumble over your “not white” comment. As soon as you paused, we knew where you were going. And nobody is too smart to hold a conversation. That doesn’t even make sense. And if you are still bragging about that joke 10 years later, well…

My stress gone, my search over, I settled in for the second half of the test, certain that I would pass.

p.s. I don’t know whether I did or not. I’ll find out in a couple weeks.

Makes Sense

If you love David Sedaris, you will love this book, by David Sedaris.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dear Smitty

Dear Smitty,

I am a woman in my late twenties. I am going to school, doing an internship and working. I am single. I don’t mind that, but I sometimes wonder if I should. Is it getting too late for me to get on with life?


Should I be working on a boyfriend, or my grades?

Dear S.I.B.W.O.A.B.O.M.G.  (note: if the abbreviation of your name is this long, your signature is too damn long.)

I don’t like to tell people my age, nothing good can come of it. Really the only time it comes up is when I’m trying to score, and I can’t help but wonder how many times I would’ve missed out on fun with a lady who thought I was too young, or too old, if it weren’t my habit to dodge that question- it can only be a deal breaker.  That being said, I will tell you that I am a fifth-year senior, by which I mean that I have now been a senior for five years. Anyway, you have left out some vital information, i.e. your looks. If you are ugly, I’d drop out now and commit myself full-time to finding a man who would have me. Be prepared- it could take a while.  If you’re good looking, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. (Still, I don’t endorse working a lot on grades, either.)  I just read about a couple who “celebrated” 60 years of marriage! That was not a misprint.  60 goddamn years, can you believe that?  They could have waited 30 years, and still been married too fricking long! So, don’t worry. Have some fun.  There is PLENTY (TOO MUCH!!) time to settle down, and begin dying.


p.s.  If you are good looking, write back with your number.  I have a feeling about you…can’t quite put my finger on it (but I’d like to try!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear Smitty

Dear Smitty,

I just re-read a funny blog post and it got me wondering:  Do you have a funny vulva story?

-Softball Tosser

Dear Softball Tosser,

Thank you for thinking about me! As luck would have it, I do have a vulva story. Let's do it:  Before transferring to this school, I went to a community college. Many were the day that I would drive to school only to sit at a table in the student center. The table at which I sat was full of characters, of course, men and women, which is why I spent so much time there. Perhaps the strongest character was Mor-mor. He is one of the funniest sonsofbitches that I have ever known- it is impossible to spend two minutes with him and not laugh. And he is plenty smart, but there were some words he did not know, I learned. Anyway, for reasons that I can no longer explain, we men of the table took to calling women "Vulvas." We were too classy to call them that in front of them, but when no woman was present, "Vulva" was our "code" word. And Mor-mor really thought it was our code word; he didn't know it was an actual word, which is why he stood up one day and asked loudly, in front of the women at our table, and who knows how many more, "Well, boys, should we go look for some Vulvas?" 

You can imagine the chorus of outrage and hoots and hollers that met poor Mor-mor, who stood there stunned, "Who told them our word!?" 

It's No Fun to Change at the YMCA

I joined the local YMCA last week. This is the first time I have been a YMCA member; before this I have always gone to the behemoth clubs of suburbia.  So far, I really like it. But there are drawbacks to going to the same health club as many of the people with whom I regularly do business.  For example, I have no interest in walking into the locker room and being confronted with my grocer’s meat department, the town jeweler’s family jewels, the bait and tackle shop owner’s fishing rod, the coffee shop guy’s swizzle stick, the sporting goods guy’s balls, the auto mechanic’s dipstick, the plumber’s snake, the electrician’s wire, the banker’s roll of quarters, McJunk, the Humane Society manager’s newt, the baker’s rolling pin, a teacher’s ruler, a retirement home resident’s anything, the hardware store owner’s tool, the garden supply store man’s bag of seeds, nor my doctor’s penis and scrotum, if you catch my drift.  And I’m afraid I may someday run into the town schmoozer in the locker room.

“Hey Tom, how’s it hangin’? Never mind, I guess I can see for myself! Ha ha! Hey Bob, how’s things at the bank? Good? Good. Nice penis, by the way. Lookin’ good.  What do you do, wax that thing? Whatever works, huh? Good, good. Jimmy, you sonofabitch! What’s new, buddy?  Whoa, that thing angry today?  Yikes! Might I suggest a towel? Tom, where are you going?” 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dear Birth Parents

Dear Birth Parents*,

I am sorry that, in order for us to experience this joy, you have to feel so much pain. I am ashamed to admit that, until our son was born, I never knew how painful placing him would be for you.  I always assumed that you would want to be as involved in his life as was possible- as we would “allow” you to be.  I can’t imagine how I missed this- my excuse is no excuse at all: I was being selfish. Still, it never occurred to me that you would need to sever all contact with us so that you could begin to heal.  I understand now that seeing him, or hearing from us, rips open your wounds, and undoes whatever healing you have managed.

Maybe someday you will be able to handle more contact. In the meantime, I hope you know that we consider you family. We know that we are not the only people whose help our son will need to be happy and successful in this sometimes cruel world. You will never be kept a secret in our home. You will always be, at the very least, the first two people who loved our son, and the people who endured horrible pain, and showed incredible bravery, in making the decision you made. It certainly takes a village to raise a child, and the two of you are the founders of the village that will raise ours.

With love,

The adoptive parents.

*In our case, both birth parents were involved in the adoption process. They are a beautiful, loving, young couple.   

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Princess Story

A few thoughts on Disney Princesses:

--If Cinderella was a new movie, would reviewers say, “This story will remind you of a small college’s basketball team winning a couple games in the March Madness tournament”?

--It saddens me that, even as recently as Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, the “Princess” dreams of little more than finding a good husband.

--That being said, it is true that, when my daughter, wife, and I had breakfast with the Princesses at Disney World last November, Princess Jasmine took a pretty uncomfortable liking to yours truly.  My daughter was three, and pretty shy, but she certainly knew the Princesses, and we decided not to let her miss the opportunity to meet them.  The breakfast involves massively over-paying for below average food in a huge, ornately decorated dining room in Cinderella’s castle.  Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Mulan, and Jasmine weave their way through the room, each stopping at every table for photos. Our daughter loved watching them from afar, but got nervous when one would come to our table. She wanted to sit on my knee for the pictures. The Princesses were pros; they would stand next to her, maybe place a hand on her shoulder, and flash their perfect smiles.  Now, I’m not going to lie to you. I saw pretty early on that Jasmine was beautiful, and, as in the movie, wearing a top that didn’t cover much. My daughter may have been nervously anticipating Jasmine’s arrival at our table, but I was sort of looking forward to it. When the big moment came, Jasmine smiled and said hello and whatnot to my daughter but, when photo time came, she walked around our backs, stood by my side and put her arm around Daddy!  For whatever reason, that is the only photo in which I am blushing. Must have been warm.  Later, when asked who her favorite Princess was, my daughter responded, “Cinderella. But, Jasmine loved on Daddy.” Indeed, and by the end of the trip our exchange and become so much more in my mind, “Did you see her?” I would ask my wife, “Jasmine couldn’t keep her hands off me!  I get it, of course. Who can, ya know? But they are supposed to be professionals. And that’s a family place! Hitting on me while I have my daughter on my knee and my wife snaps a photo? That’s a bit much.”    

A month after returning home from that trip, we attended a Disney on Ice performance, which included most of the Princesses, including Jasmine.  We had front row seats; I knew it was just a matter of time before Jasmine saw me, “I hope this doesn’t get awkward,” I had said to Stacy while we dressed for the show.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

The show was nearly over when Jasmine skated right towards me. She swooped along the boards, waving at everyone. She looked right at me…and acted as though she had never seen me before in her life! I was still looking for words on the drive home, “Can you believe it?  That is a fine how-do-you-do.  One day she can’t keep her hands off me, the next she doesn’t even know me! Jasmine is a hussy, plain and simple.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanks, Chris

Remember kids:  In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue so that, in 2010, it would be sofas and loveseats with zero percent financing until 2012 (for qualified buyers) for you!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

No Bread For You

Who doesn't love making up his/her own words to songs?  I've been doing it most of my life, but I have never topped Rinji, and I never will. This was his take on "Piano Man" by Billy Joel, 17 or so years ago:

They sit at the bar,
and put bread in my jar...
But I wish they'd use money instead.

What's your personal best?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Story of Us

I would love to tell you about all the sex my wife and I have. Unfortunately, I can’t get into specifics-- my mother-in-law is a reader of my blog. If you really need to know, I’m sure you could ask our neighbors. Anyway, all that you really need to know is that we have two kids. Wait…they’re adopted. Never mind that. We have sex, okay? But it hasn’t always been like that between us. We were nothing more than friends for the first 5 years of our relationship. We were engaged to be married before we had ever even kissed.

I met Stacy early in my first year at Hamline University. It was her first year there, too- each of us did our time at community college before making the University leap. I lived in an apartment (a precursor to the Bullpen) in Champlin, and she lived with her parents in Hastings.  We had similar schedules that first semester; we both smoked, and really had nowhere to go during breaks. The upshot is this:  we saw a lot of each other for a couple of weeks. Eventually, we began chatting and became friends. We were both psychology majors. We took classes together, worked on projects together. By the end of our junior year, she had convinced me to join her in the psychology department’s Senior Honors Seminar.  We were together a lot senior year, nearly inseparable.  But, as I said, we were simply friends. I was engaged to the woman I would later marry, and Stacy had a serious boyfriend, who lived with her and her parents, and whom she would later marry.  I am not blind now, and I wasn’t then- I knew she was hot. But I am as faithful a person as you’re likely to meet and so is she. We never even came close to flirting. Anyway, we graduated and, that summer, I got married. Stacy and her boyfriend were not only guests; he was our photographer (did a great job, too).  The following summer, Stacy and he got married, and I was the videographer (did a so-so job, to be honest).

Now I am going to tell you the secret to a long and happy marriage. What I am about to tell you is so simple many people don’t even think of it. But it is the only thing you need to know. Here it is:  If you want to have a long and happy marriage, do NOT marry the wrong person. There you go, you may thank me later.  How do I know this? Because I married the wrong person first, and so did Stacy, and we met with predictable results.  By the time I shot that so-so video of Stacy’s wedding, my marriage was in trouble. You can read about that here, if you want. I moved back to my mother’s basement about a month after Stacy’s wedding. I was mostly drunk for a year or so, but in my sober moments I did some clear thinking about what had gone wrong. That is when I realized that simple truth I told you about earlier. I had married the wrong person; I knew it when I married her, simply didn’t have the guts to acknowledge it, nor to do anything about it- to walk away. And it occurred to me that I knew the right person.

While I was oscillating between drinking myself silly and sober realizations, Stacy was slogging through law school. She knew, before long, that she was married to a clown. But she was too busy with school to deal with it.  We didn’t talk much in those years. For one, she was busy, and I was, too- working, sleeping or drinking. But also, I was more and more certain that she and I should be married, and I didn’t want to talk to her, lest I would blurt that out, while she was still married to the clown.  We talked only when one of us moved and changed phone numbers. One day she called me at work.

“Blah, blah, blah…I’m leaving the clown. If you need to call me, call my mom’s house. I’ll be there a while.”

“Whoa. What? Really! I mean, really? That’s too bad.”  Wink. “Well, I’ve been there. If you ever need to talk about it.”  Please, please need to talk about it.

Well she did need to talk about it. We drove to the North Shore of Lake Superior, my favorite peaceful place. I was as content as I had ever been.  To get to my favorite boulder, we had to step across some smaller rocks. As Stacy prepared to hop from one rock to another, I offered my hand. I am not kidding when I tell you that the second she took it, I felt like I was home. God that felt good! But we weren’t even really on a date, and I was careful not to say anything that would scare her away. After a couple weeks of that- seeing each other 3 or 4 nights a week, but not really dating, certainly not touching, we decided to go to the state fair. I hatched a plan.

“We’re going to want to get there early,” I explained, “and we live so far apart. Maybe you should stay at the Bullpen the night before. Then we can all ride together.” (We were going with Sug and his girlfriend, Local H).

She walked right into the trap. “Okay.”

 My plan was as simple has my mind:  I would go to my room while she brushed her teeth. And when she came out of the bathroom, she would either go to the couch, as a friend would, or come in my room. That way I wouldn’t have to ask what the hell it was we were doing, and risk saying I wanted more than friendship if she didn’t; she'd have to make the first move! Bedtime came. She showed me her bravery- she used the Bullpen bathroom. I climbed into bed. She finished in the bathroom, walked out, stood in the bedroom doorway…and came in. (I was recently bragging about the genius of my plan while Stacy and I were relating this story to friends. She jumped in and said, “I thought you were going to be a gentleman and offer me the bed while you slept on the couch." Oops. Never thought of that.) I had a king size bed, and I stayed far to one side. We chatted a bit.

And then I finally said, “I have to tell you something. I love you. I have loved you for a long time. And, what’s more, I would marry you tomorrow, if you would say ‘yes’”.

“I love you, too. I think we could have a good marriage.”

And so we were engaged, and had never so much as hugged.  

Poets and writers superior to me have put into words how I felt in the months following that night. I won’t even try. But there was something not quite right- we lived 50 miles apart, and I worked long, odd hours. I wanted to see her every second of every day, but had to settle for a night a week. I was able to spend every other weekend with her, at her mom’s. That was nice, but far too short. One night, a cold, Minnesota winter night, we talked about warm places. I said that I loved San Antonio, that it was a reasonable drive.  One thing led to another, I got out of work for a couple days (she still hadn’t found a job), and we set off south. It was a whirlwind 5 days, the better part of 4 of which we spent in the car. But it was fantastic to spend that time together. We arrived back at Stacy’s mom’s house late in the evening. I stayed a while, hating the thought of leaving. Eventually, though, I had to. I said goodbye, and headed towards the Bullpen. We had talked about me moving in with Stacy and her mom in two months, when the Bullpen lease was up. Each block I drove that night I got more miserable.  I’ve been miserable long enough. I don’t want to be anymore.”  I was on the edge of Hastings, a few miles from Stacy, when I turned around.

I could see Stacy sitting on the couch, watching T.V. with her mom when I pulled into the driveway. She saw the lights, and jerked her head to look outside. She was already smiling when she saw it was me. Her smile broadened and she ran for the door.

“What’s going on?” She asked nervously. She knew.

“I can’t leave. I’ll figure out something with work. Maybe work fewer days, longer hours. But the Bullpen isn’t home anymore. Wherever you are is. I don’t want to spend another night away from you.”

 And I haven’t.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thought of the Day

One thing that babies and dogs have in common, a thing I really like about them, is that you can say whatever you want to them, as long as you say it nicely.

"Little baby, you're so sweet. Yes you are. But if you don't stop crying soon, I'm going to throw you in the fucking snowbank. Coochie, coochie, coo."

"Come here puppy. There's a bad doggie. Yes, thank you for shitting on the rug. Bad girl! Aren't you ugly.  Please don't shit in the house again, you skanky slut."

What kind of doctor are you?

There is nothing funny about taking your baby to a pediatric neurologist. Nothing funny, that is, except the part when the doctor, a little, old, Chinese woman, acts out her diagnosis that your son, due to his big head, will always be “loosy goosy.”

Our son is adopted, so we don’t know if big heads run in his family. If he was our biological child, I guess we could have said, “Oh yeah, Uncle Kev has a huge head. I’ve never seen the hat that fit him. And there are some great-uncles, too.” But, since we cannot explain why his head is in the 99th percentile, his doctor thought he should see a specialist, to rule out possibly serious problems like hydrocephalus (water on the brain). 

The neurologist gave him a thorough examination, which included crawling around on the floor with him, alternately cooing like a grandmother and clicking and clacking like a Kalahari Bushman.  She told us his head was asymmetric, with one cheek bigger than the other, and his right ear longer than his left. She also diagnosed him with torticollis, a condition in which the muscle on one side of his neck is shorter than the one on the other side, as a result of his position in the womb. The cooing, clicking, clacking, grandma doctor told us not to worry- she was confident, based on her rolling around on the floor with him, that his range-of-motion was good, and that his neck would loosen up over time. 

But his ample bean is another matter. Is it a harmless personal trait, or something more serious? An upcoming MRI should answer that.  The crawling, cooing, clicking, clacking, grandma doctor is pretty confident that our son simply has a big head, “He has a big head. The question is: why?  I am happy with his development. Sometimes babies with big heads have limited motor skills. But this one is just loosy goosy.”

“Loosy goosy?”

“Right.” She stands up to demonstrate. Her hips gyrate, her arms flail. You’ve seen this move, even though you were not in that room. Can you guess where? She stood in the middle of the room, gyrating and flailing exactly like those windsock humanoids you see at car dealerships and the like. “Loosy goosy. And he probably always will be a little loosy goosy as a consequence of his big head.”

“Thanks, doc.  One last question: Will you be reading the results of the MRI, or will Dr. Seuss?”

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Think of the Children

I gave my wife a break this morning. The baby was sleeping, so I took our daughter to Target, where we bought a few books and, in keeping with my routine, covered all the facings of douche bag authors with copies of “Poker Face:  The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga.” My daughter didn’t want to tag along at first, but I bribed her by promising that we would listen to mommy music in the car. A month ago, her favorite singers were Ariel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and the rest of the Disney Princess stable. These days she prefers Katy Perry, Pink, and the Black Eyed Peas. There are times when I wonder if this isn’t good- maybe my four year-old girl shouldn’t sing some of these songs. It is important to note that when Katy Perry sings of melting popsicles, my daughter takes her literally, and when she hears that Katy Perry is drinking Gin and Juice, it is the juice that piques her interest.  So I decide its okay. My job as a parent is to hold back the flood, like a great dam, letting the world trickle towards my kids at a rate they can handle.  It is not my job to pretend that there is not a boiling ocean of water on the other side of the dam. For some time, at least, my wife and I will be our kids’ greatest influences. Hopefully, in addition to everything else they hear, from us they will learn to:

Be kind - Don’t be soft, but be gentle. Don’t crawl over anyone on your way up, but don’t stop crawling up either.

Be patient - you know what you need to do. Do it and good things will happen.

Be quiet - if you’re great, people will know it; if you’re not, keep it to yourself.

Be happy - this is not easy. It takes some courage, oddly, simply to be happy.

Be the Serenity Prayer.

Be honest - just in case there is a God who is watching.

Love yourself.

Love someone else.

Be silly - and if you have kids someday, let them listen to music that makes them happy. There are many, many ills that can be cured by a kid giggling and dancing in the backseat.

 Oh…and don’t be preachy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How Lucky is my Wife?

We discovered today, on our basement end table, a substance that is almost certainly mouse shit. Now Stacy is seeing it everywhere. She's on the floor with the baby and spots a small, black speck, "OOOOO! Is that mouse poop?"

"Oh c'mon," I implore, "not every small, black speck you see is mouse shit. That is exactly what the bat shit on our porch looked like. It's important to remember that all small rodents' shit looks the same.That there could be anything."

Dear Smitty: Reader Appreciation Edition

Dear Smitty: I've got issues. Issue 1: I've got a husband. Issue 2: I've got 3 kids. Issue 3: I stay home with 3 kids. Issue 4: I've got lumps and bumps I never had before...see Issue 2. Issue 5: Everyone constantly needs something from me, be it food, beverage, an ass wiping, a tummy deflation, cleanish clothes, a roll in the hay (see issue 1). Issue 6: I’m kind of sick of all of it and when I see my single friends, I’m almost overcome with jealousy. Any advice?


Every tired mom, everywhere

Dear Every tired mom, everywhere,

This is a tough one for Smitty. On the one hand, I don’t like to waste my time on married women, for obvious reasons. Oh sure, I could help you alright, but society, and most husbands, have trouble with the help I have to offer, and I’m getting too old to be jumping out of bedroom windows. On the other hand, I do get a ton of letters from desperate mothers (and fathers) and so I have thought some about this. What I’ve come up with is admittedly imperfect, but it goes something like this: No one is as happy as they seem. No one (not even Smitty). No doubt some of your single friends have looked fondly at your life once or twice. Now, don’t get me wrong: I am NOT saying that marriage is for me. But, if I’m being honest, there are times when I see families having a nice moment and think, FLEETINGLY, “That looks nice.” That’s all I got. I will leave you with another letter I just received. It was about you.

p.s. If none of that helps, there is one more thing you can do: Quit seeing your single friends.

Dear Smitty,

I am a dad who stays at home with two kids. I am tired all the time. I write some, but I have energy for little else. I have a friend who is a stay-at-home mom- she has kids almost exactly the same age as mine (her son was, in fact, born the same day as mine), AND another one in the middle. I am a writer largely because of her. Reading her blog made me realize I should start one, too. And she always has a business or something going. She has a good marriage, it seems, and I know for certain that she has good, active kids. And that is not all- she has been training for months to run a marathon, which she will run, and almost certainly finish, tomorrow! In my healthiest days, days when my time was mostly my own, I couldn’t run 26 feet without stopping for air. How she has done all this is beyond me. Here’s my problem: How do I tell her how much I admire her without pissing off her husband, who, I should add, is a war veteran?


Secret admirer.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Where is the Line?

My friend, Shannon, and I recently discussed  "The Line." You know, the line you do not cross if you are married, or the person on the other side of the line is married. As you may have guessed, Shannon is a woman. But she thinks a lot like me, her sense of humor is almost exactly like mine (for this reason I have made her an honorary "Bull"- she is the first "Cow".  Yes, I have the authority to add "Bulls.")  Here's the deal:  I amuse myself by acting like I would do things that I never would. When relating a story to my wife, I always try to add a "tough guy" comment. For example, I will say, "So the checkout lady asked if I had forgotten about the pop on the bottom of my cart, and I said, 'Yes, but I have not forgotten my fists! Pow!'" And that is how I feel when I talk about sex with women friends. I will only do it when I know that they know I'm full of shit, that I would never do anything to jeopardize my marriage. As I told Shannon:  "Words, by and large, cannot offend me. As I think back on it, the only thing my first wife said to another person that bothered me was 'I love you.' And then, too, she let him put his penis in her vagina, and who knows where else, and that is where I draw the line."