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Nay-Nay, my wrong number texts girl…I barely knew you.

It was just last week that I was reading some collection of hilariously devious responses to wrong number texts, and I remember while I was reading them, I thought, “I can tell I’m getting old, because there’s no way I would prank someone like that.” Turns out, I’m not nearly as mature as I thought I was. This morning I got two calls in a row from a strange number, and I didn’t answer because I stopped answering mystery calls probably five years ago. A few minutes later, from the same number, I get this text: “Did u tell Clyde we fucked? — ~Nay-Nay~” Man, sending me that kind of ripe text is no way to quell my inner 14-year-old. Despite the fact that there are exactly SEVEN words in that text, there are three separate humor packets in there: The fact that there’s a dude named “Clyde” (I grew up in the 80s so I thought only Hollywood orangutans and shooting guards were named Clyde), a girl calling herself “Nay-Nay” and of course, the fact that apparently Clyde was getting all up in that Nay-Nay. (I wonder what their kids would be named…) So I decided to take a half-measure and not totally prank them, but try to toss a bit of humor in there, too. You can’t get a setup like that and just piss away the ready-made opportunity to make SOMETHING out of it. So I said: “I didn’t, but that’s because you have the wrong number and I don’t know anyone named Clyde. But if I meet him, I still won’t tell him. You get yours, girl!” I thought that would lead to a chuckle […]

Squeezing the Sand in the Hourglass

I don’t enjoy being kicked in the head, and I’ve never met anyone who does. Even really, really tough guys who fight a lot probably don’t enjoy that part of the job. I’ve managed to steer clear of any serious fisticuffs thus far in my life, but I do frequently wake to being repeatedly kicked in the head. It’s my son and daughter who do the kicking. Ezra is 3 and Mia is 5, and they’ve both slept in their own beds for a long time. But they’re clever and stealthy, so occasionally they’ll go on streaks of waking up in the wee hours and climbing into bed with me and Mom. And while I never hear them climb in, I do feel it when they sprawl out in their slumber and start kicking me in the head. I have already mentioned that this is not enjoyable. It’s uncomfortable and robs me of sleep that, as I get older, I find myself really needing to stock up on in order to make it through the next day. The fireman and the house-helper But here’s the confounding difficulty of parenting; I’m supposed to enjoy those particular head-kicking instances. If you have no children it’ll be hard to grasp this, but if you do, you’ll understand. My daughter Mia is 5, and my son Ezra is 3. They still think my wife and I are pretty much the most awesome people in the world. They actualy wake up in the middle of the night and think, “Hey! This is an opportunity to be closer to Mom and Dad! Hell, I could actually be pinned right between them for the next […]

Daddy, How Are Tires Made?

You don’t have to be a parent to know that children of a certain age are fond of asking crazy questions. The most common, of course, is the generic “why?”, but at least there’s always an answer for that one (even if it takes you a little while to think of that answer). Tougher still are the curveballs of all varieties: the absurd ( “Why can’t I be a potato when I grow up?”); the darling (“Can we just all live in this house together, even after I’m a grown-up and an old lady?); and the devastating (“What if we don’t all stay together after we die? What if I die first?”). One thing you don’t really count on, though, are really good questions with cut-and-dried answers — that you just don’t know. There’s nothing like an inquisitive five-year-old to show you what an effeminate pansy you are. Case in point: We’re driving to school this morning, and our route takes us through a town with handful of trailer parks visible from the road. A new arrival is sitting at the entrance to the park, still on a flatbed. Ezra is intrigued. “How’d they put the wheels on those houses, Dad?” Well, I say — they just came with wheels on them. “Can we put wheels on our house?” This is day 2 of this wheeled-house conversation. A house-car hybrid is something he could really get into. We can’t put wheels on our house, I say. Even if we could, I wouldn’t know how to go about such a thing. And then Mia pipes in. “Daddy, how are tires made?” Just like that. “How are tires […]
By |September 23rd, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Soldier Tribute from a Cookie-Eating Fatso

It’s the evening of July 4th, and I just stepped out onto my back porch and watched a fireworks display at the baseball stadium a few blocks away. The lights and booms don’t do much for me anymore, but as I get older, I am doing my best to be a good citizen and try to put my brain on what exactly this all means. Especially when we’re at war. Dad and Josh, 1974 I am a fat, lazy American (those snickerdoodles I was stuffing down my hole while watching the fireworks weren’t helping any). I am 1,000 miles away from my children, voluntarily, on a mini-vacation with my wife, setting up a second home where we hope to spend vacations over the next few years. I’ve bought more consumer-crap creature comforts over the last three days than most people buy in a year. And to top it all off, I work in advertising, where I spend my professional life convincing people to buy stuff they don’t really need, and half the time probably don’t even really want. At the same time, I recognize that there are over 100,000 men and women in uniform serving in war zones overseas who would give just about anything to be serving up a hot dog to their kids and tossing a ball around, watching those fireworks that I’m too lazy to attend, even though they’re about a 3-minute drive away. Josh, Mom & Dad – 1979 So if there’s anyone in this country who better goddamn well stand up and show respect for the people who make America […]

Your Old Man, the Crybaby

Dear Mia & Ezra, I’ve got a little problem. Every time I sit down to write about you guys in anything approaching a sincere and serious tone, I tend to well up with tears really, really fast. I’m not always sure whether they’re sad tears, happy tears or proud tears — but they’re definitely the face-wetting kind. This is not a good trait for a writer to have — especially one who likes writing about his kids. Not to mention, at some point in the future, I’ll be called upon to stand up in public and say emotional things about you — your graduations, weddings, etc. And if I can’t get through a simple written piece without blubbering like Tammy Faye Bakker, then you’re really going to embarrassed the first time someone hands me a live microphone, that’s for sure. I’m usually not one for the waterworks; I’ve weathered a lot of stress and strain during my life and I’ve taken most of it pretty stonefaced. I also like being the boss, and I never want to break down in front of the people I’m trying to lead. I crack, then they crack, and then it’s chaos. So I end up swallowing a lot of my emotions, which is good practice for the ulcer pills I’ll have to swallow later on because of it. But you guys are certainly the exception to the Dad-never-cries rule. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me, really, but I can’t seem to have a meaningful thought about you guys without getting all swollen about the eyes and snotty about the […]

Weekend without the family: Home Alone vs. Shawshank Redemption

I am a father of two small children, and next to winning the lottery and winning a date with Jessica Alba, the greatest thing that can happen to a father of two small children is to be alone for a weekend. My wife and kids were away in California this weekend visiting the grandparents, and I stayed behind. (I’ll pause here while all toddler moms and dads reading this take 60 seconds to fantasize about how incredibly phenomenal and awesome it would be to have three, almost four, entire days to yourself. OK, wake up, back to reality.) Everyone I told about my big upcoming solo weekend got that McAuley Culkin look on their faces when they heard I’d be “Home Alone.” Usually they said things like, “Uh-oh!” or “Look out!” or other things that people say leading up to impending and unavoidable disasters. They were having that same vision of single, freewheeling, 20-something wildness that most guys have when 99% of their responsibilities jump on a plane and fly 1,500 miles away. The possibilities were endless. Stay out all night? Party? Gamble? Cause trouble? Go to jail? Break out of jail? Break some guys I don’t even know out of jail? Nothing’s off the table this weekend, baby. As it turns out, my life is a lot more like “The Shawshank Redemption” than “Home Alone.” If you haven’t seen these movies, a) Jesus, where were you during the 1990s?; b) let me break down the themes of these movies for you: HOME ALONE: “Woo-hoo! Being alone is awesome, liberating and jubilant! An explosion of spontaneous and chaotic fun awaits you the moment your family leaves the house!” SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION: “Life is prison. You cannot leave the prison. Those rare […]

Shit, my goddamned toddler is cursing!

I got a text message from our babysitter, Sheena, while I was eating my microwave pizza for lunch at work Thursday. It said: “Mia said the ‘s’ word …ha ha.” Mia is 3, and she won’t be four for another few months. In most families, this would be a cause for concern. In my family, we call her a “late bloomer.” This is where I suppose I’m obligated to bring up the story of my own dirty mouth, and how I myself burst into the world of adult language. It was back in North Dakota in 1976, and to hear my dad tell it, I’d quietly snuck up on him while he was hammering a nail into something. Probably something wooden. Anyway, as I drew nearer, he missed the hammer and hit his thumb, and that’s when he yelled out “you BASTARD!” as many of us do when crush our own digits with blunt metal objects. I’m not sure if Dad was talking to himself or the tool, really, but on that day, one of them was a bastard, and the two-year-old version of me thought that was hilarious. “Bass Turd!” I sung out, triumphant, as if cars ran on bastard fuel and I’d just struck bastard in the backyard under the swingset. “Bass Turd! Bass Turd! Bass Turd!” And on that day, the torch was passed. My dad was able to quiet any sort of profanity volcano that may have been bubbling up under the surface of my polyester boy-suit on that particular day, but this was a stopgap measure, and he knew it. Pandora’s Box was open, and it was only a matter of time. My folks valiantly tried to keep my mouth clean and succeeded up […]

A Modest Online-Revenue Proposal For Newspapers

Back in the VHS vs. Beta video-format wars of the 1980’s, my family put all its ill-fated chips on Beta. More recently, I went all in with an HD-DVD player instead of Blu-Ray, and about four seconds after I did, Toshiba threw in the towel and stopped supporting HD-DVDs. I also thought Ryan Leaf would make a better NFL quarterback than Peyton Manning, and argued with my childhood friends that Dominique Wilkins would accomplish more in the NBA than that Michael Jordan guy ever would. In short, I have a long history of taking the road less traveled — the one that ends up dead-ending off a cliff. But one of the rare times when I came to a crossroads and actually made the right call was when I ditched my first love, newspapering, in favor of an Internet career. It was 1999 when I left the University of Missouri’s graduate program, master’s in hand, with a variety of prospects. Could’ve gone to a newspaper, magazine, TV station, even a radio station — but I chose the Web. For once in my life, it seems, I heard the train coming before it ran over me. These choices and the evaluation of their prescience are complicated, of course, but let’s stick to some basics: newspapers aren’t dying, but they’re a withered, palsied shell of what they once were. And the Internet — especially search-engine advertising, my agency’s exclusive area of focus — is booming. Making matters worse, newspapers by and large have done a very poor job of extending their businesses on the Web. Even today, watching newspapers’ Web efforts reminds me of a Saturday Night Live sketch back in the early 90s called “Carsenio.” Dana Carvey […]

Don’t forget to tip your airline pilot!

So I’m out on the deck Sunday afternoon reading the paper while the dogs and kids frolic in the yard, and I notice that this week’s Parade magazine is the “What People Earn” issue. You know the one — the one with about 100 mugshots of regular folks and their jobs and salaries, with the occasional celebrity and her 8-figure salary tossed in every now and then, just to keep us awake. (Gisele the supermodel made $33 million this year. I wonder if she and Tom Brady split the electric bill right down the middle, or if she pays a heftier share because she makes more.) This is the only time of year I read Parade, because I don’t really care what Hilary Swank’s favorite cheat-food is. I don’t want to know why Aretha Franklin chose “maple scone” for her bedroom paint color, and I already know that Marilyn vos Savant is so smart that she could stick an 8-ball under her armpit and squeeze out a unicorn’s paw (You know what? Screw you, Marilyn.). But the “How Schlubs Like You Are Scraping Together Your Meager Existence” issue is one of my guilty pleasures, and if you’re reading this, it’s probably one of yours, too. You comb through the thing like crazy, looking to validate yourself against other chumps out there doing a similar job and making less than you. Or, even better, doing a really crappy job that pays squat. “Hey,” you say to your reassured self. “At least I’m not that guy,” with “that guy” being: Herman Beckwith Dog shit picker-upper $6.75/hour I’ll be honest: I was cruising right along, shaking my head at sucker after sucker and […]

When I battle Satan, we will play Ms. Pac-Man

I was in a Phoenix bar one time, and after several gallons of beer, I started wondering about what I would do if I ever had to battle the devil to win back my soul (That’s the thing about alcohol…if nothing else, it really gets you thinking outside the box). I’m a business owner, a husband, a father of two, a friend to many — simply put, I take care of a lot of people. So I try not to let anything catch me by surprise, and I admit, I cast a pretty wide net. Anyway, I’m not sure how the real battles with the devil proceed, because all the ones I’ve ever seen have been on TV, and they’ve usually involved a rotund blues guitar virtuoso, string ties, top hats and at least one dusty crossroads in Mississippi. But I’m not very good at music, and Mississippi terrifies me. On that particular night, I decided that (and I concur today), to preserve the high drama involved in these sorts of showdowns, the devil would probably let you choose the actitivity in which you’d like to compete with him to salvage your soul. I mean, he’s probably really good at everything, and if you let him choose and he chooses something like short-program ice skating, then that’s just not even going to be a contest. Honestly, it’s just unrealistic and unworthy of even holding a competition. So, I chose typing. I’m past my typing prime, mind you, but I can still bang out 85-90 wpm when I’m on fire. Plus, see, the devil has hooves, not fingers, so — yeah? You see where I’m going, and all of a sudden I’m looking solid versus Old Scratch […]