Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Walgreens Relief


It was Christmas Card Time.  

I entered the Walgreens with my photo CD and strode to the photo counter. I was prepared to sit at the photo machine until the fellow with the white smock gave me the stink-eye for taking up too much time. 

I inserted the CD and discovered that it was blank. 

I nodded knowingly to Mr. White Smock, and went home.   

The next day, I returned with my new photo CD and once again found the machine open and ready for business.  As I sat down, I had a sudden and urgent call to go to the restroom.   

I spotted the restroom sign and took the shortest route down the feminine hygiene isle. Upon reaching the alcove, I found the clearly marked WOMEN's door, and a mysterious door surrounded by toys with no signage.  It had a fancy pushbutton lock on it because I was in a hurry... and, yes, it was locked.

Keep in mind that this is a small town where not even the gas stations lock their restroom doors.  Walgreens must believe that a bathroom related crime wave is coming to Wenatchee, Washington.  Regardless of this ominous premonition, I still had to pee.  

I knocked on the door.  No answer. 

I heard someone coming out of the women’s room and briefly considered catching it before it closed, but the woman scuttled off so quickly, I didn’t have time to ask her how she thwarted the lock, much less grab the door before it slammed shut.   

I skipped to the Pharmacy and informed the lady behind the counter that I need to use the restroom. 

The response from Mrs. Blue Smock was, “I’ll be right there.”   

At first I thought she didn’t understand me correctly, then I wondered if she was planning to instruct me and needed some preparation time.  It looked as though the latter was true, when she walked around the counter and motioned for me to follow her to the restroom alcove.   

I began to formulate all of the reasons why I was not going to share my restroom experience with her, while she walked to the unmarked door.  She knocked on it, and I said to myself, “I already tried that.”  Then she typed in 0000 ENTER, while making no effort to keep me from seeing the code.   

That action brought up many questions, all of which would delay the emptying of my bladder, so I bit my tongue. 

Then, she held the door open for me.  I walked in fully expecting her to follow me in and begin instructing.  

Much to my relief, I was left alone in the unimpressive, but fully functioning restroom.

I managed to make it back to the photo machine just as another Christmas Carder was walking up to the counter.  Mr. White Smock turned out to be very helpful despite the fact that he was visibly disturbed that I refused to un-click the shadow button on the text.  I honestly think he broke out into a sweat when I didn’t remove the shadow on my Christmas greeting.   

While he was collecting himself behind the counter, I finished up.  The machine informed me that my order would be ready in one hour, which was plenty of time to go outside and share the bathroom code to all distressed looking passers-by. 

'Tis the season!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monkey Chocolate

It's mid afternoon, and I'm looking for the monkey chocolate… all alone.

Let me back up a bit. This really started when I took over the grocery shopping duty two years ago. The first 10 times I went to the grocery, I read the labels of hundreds of products.  After I decided what was good, I stopped reading labels… including the actual names of the products.   

For example, I once bought a small white container with a tan wave on the label and green lettering on it.  When I bought it, I read the label and ingredients.  When I ate it, I decided it was fabulous.  I buy it all the time now, but I've forgotten what it's called or what's in it besides tofu. My daughter and I refer to it as "the tofu stuff" and usually eat it within 5 minutes of getting home from the grocery store.   

So, let’s fast forward to the mid afternoon at the cereal isle where the monkey chocolate is supposed to be.   

It’s not there.   

I can’t walk up to the guy with the box cutter and name tag and say, “It seems you are out of the monkey chocolate… it’s not chocolate made of monkeys, it’s chocolate with a monkey on it… well, actually, it’s a chimpanzee and chimpanzees aren’t monkeys… I don’t think… they’re not, right? Something about the tails, or rather, they don’t have tails, and monkeys do, which makes them apes maybe?...  Bushes! There’s another chocolate from the same company with bushes on it… or maybe they’re trees, but it’s definitely greenery of some kind, and you’re out of both of them.”   

That kind of crazy-talk would only worsen my already precarious standing in the community.  So, I suck it up and continue shopping without my monkey chocolate until I get to the end of the isle and my cereal isn’t there.   

I can only take so much. 

I find the nearest guy with the box cutter and name tag and say, “Is there any way to check and see if you have any more of my cereal in the back?  You seem to be out of it.” 

He replies promptly, “Sure thing.  Which one is it?”   

The words that come from my mouth start out on the right track, then get derailed by my idiocy, “It’s pumpkin nuts and flax or something or other.  No… well… the flax word is big and pumpkins are in there somewhere but maybe not pumpkin nuts, because pumpkins don’t have nuts, they’re… well, you know, never mind.” 

I had dodged the monkey chocolate bullet only to shoot myself in the foot with pumpkin nuts.   

Much to my relief, Mr. Nametag isn’t even mildly ruffled.  He walks to the end of the cereal isle mumbling something about a green box, and scoots a beige box of Nature Lumps out of the way to reveal my green-boxed cereal! 

I beam and thank him.  He responds by saying, “Anything else I can help you find?”   

The words, “monkey chocolate” are forming in my mouth until my medulla oblongata finally rescues me.

“No thanks, I’ll quit while I’m ahead.” 

Author’s note:  The monkey chocolate did, indeed, return to the shelves (as depicted in the photo) and all is well.  I have decided that the bush chocolate is better though.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I am no fool.  I had planned to be digging out the drainage ditch outside for a few hours, so I made a list for each of the children to work on while I was outside.   

This is good parenting.   

I also told them that they were not to interact with each other while doing their chores. 

I was being proactive. Yes, I am one smart cookie. I am dad-tastic. I am Superdad. 

I heard the screaming before I reached the ditch.   

They had attempted to devour the remaining half of my daughter’s birthday cake after confirming that I left the house.  The fundamental flaw in their plan was that they do not share well.  They managed to get the cake unevenly divided and partially eaten before I made it back through the door.   

I’m not amazed by much anymore, but I was amazed that they had managed to eat so much while screaming at each other. I checked that they each had all ten fingers, admonished them appropriately, reminded my daughter not to let her brother do the dividing next time, reminded them of their lists, and departed again.   

Hey, it was a minor setback in a foolproof dad-plan.  I’m still numero uno in dad-land.  I had confidence in my dad-ness.   

In fact, I am such a good dad that I came back to check on them after 30 minutes.

Before I walked up to the house, my cell phone started ringing.  When I answered, the screaming through the phone was slightly delayed from the real-time screaming, which I heard through my other ear as it wafted through the windows.  It was all sort of Pink Floydish, but in a bad way. 

Once inside, I checked for structural damage to the house before being entertained with the stories of woe and abuse each sibling endured from the other.  I gathered from my son that he broke his glasses in half because his sister had only bent them after she threatened to break them, and therefore, the glasses rightly should have been broken so that his sister could get into proper trouble.  From my daughter, I gathered that the breaking of the glasses led to fisticuffs, which led to screaming (because brother hit back).  

I led the children to the counter in the kitchen where the lists were lying unmolested in the sunshine.  I pointed out that the lists did not have “Fight”, “Destroy valuable items”, “Scream at sibling”, “Threaten loved ones”, or “Concoct evil plans” on them.   

The children only blinked at me.   

My son wanted to see a hanging, and was apparently waiting for me to stop jabbering and get on with it.  My daughter expected me to grant her “Unlimited Fingernail Clawing” for being framed, and was also waiting for permission to attack.  

I looked at both of my agitated children and realized what was at the core of the whole mess...
No one told them I was Superdad.  

I spent the rest of the afternoon working with them to finish their lists.    
I figure I can get back to the drainage ditch when they’re in college.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Safeway Shenanigans

Safeway is the gateway to the 80’s.   

I wasn’t aware of this myself until today.   

The first indication of something odd was when I approached the door and my great aunt Bertha was blocking the entire entrance (yes, she had the… presence to block an entire grocery store entrance).  My great aunt Bertha passed away many years ago, so I was quite surprised to see her as you can imagine.  But there she was with her flowered dress on, talking to another lady in a flowered dress about Bob Barker or something along those lines.   

I decided not to interrupt her, and besides, you had to be careful around great aunt Bertha because she talked with her arms when she got excited, and that could be dangerous.  

 Inside the Safeway, I grabbed a cart and started on the weekly shopping.  Within a minute, I was asked by a clean-cut box boy if I was finding everything okay.  He had no tattoos, no metal bits sticking out of his eyebrows, lips or nose, and (get this) his underwear was not visible.  That’s right, I’m telling you that his pants fit.   

It was about this time that I noticed that I was humming a Thompson Twins song.  It was in my head because it was playing over the speakers.   

How awesome is that!  Thompson Twins in Safeway!   

For the next 15 minutes, I sat on a Little Debbie display and sang along with English Beat, Blondie, Howard Jones, and UB 40.  I bumped into another guy in the dairy aisle who was also singing, and we managed some shaky harmony on the Go Go’s classic, "Vacation".   

By the time I made it around to produce, I was feeling pretty happy with my shopping trip.  It was in amongst the potatoes that I decided to do what I wanted to do in 1982 at the local Kroger.  I wanted to make a face on the cabbage… like Mr. Potato Head.   

My mother would not allow one of her sons to handle the produce in the store, so my Mr. Cabbage Head never came to life.  Today, though, was 1982 all over again, so I thought to myself, “Self, you go and make your Mr. Cabbage Head.”   

I found some pearl onions, string beans and snow peas, and went to the cabbages and started rearranging them to suit my needs.  The young man working in produce asked me if I needed any help, and I replied, “No thank you, I’d like to make this cabbage face by myself.” 

It should be noted that his nose only had two proper holes, and his underwear was not visible at all.
Man, I miss the 80’s.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mosquitoes and Oatmeal

At the last minute, my buddy and his 6-year-old son invited us to go camping.

Cool ... except that it was 97 degrees.

After both soccer games, I raced home with the sweaty kids, pulled the soccer bags out of the car, and threw all the camping gear in the car. 

Nothing was packed, so it looked like a Boy Scout had exploded in the way-back of the Subaru.

We met up with the two other dads and their boys, and caravanned to the Minotaur Lake trailhead. The trail was steep... not steep like my insurance rate, but steep like a dusty, rocky, tree rooty, crawl-up trail. 

Within a half-mile, both of my children pulled off their shoes and socks. Neither of my children have skin on their feet.  Whatever it is, it’s tougher than duct tape and has the aesthetic quality of cantaloupe rinds. 

Within the next mile, we passed a couple sliding down the trail. The woman (who must have been a mom) saw my barefooted children with their backpacks on, scrambling up the trail, and gave me a stare that made me feel like I had pancreatic cancer.

After the stare-down, I recovered well enough to convince my kids to finish the trudge by using a box of Mike and Ike’s and a quart of Kool-Aid.

At the campsite, the mosquitoes were doing Rock, Paper, Scissors for first blood. They ate the Deet off of us to kill time. We built a little fire and kept throwing green limbs on for the smoke. While convulsing from smoke inhalation, my daughter managed to spit out, “Why do the mosquitoes not bite us when we’re standing in the smoke?” To which I replied, while gasping for air, “They have to breathe too,”

We abandoned the smoke for a swim in the lake, and in a moment, we were standing on chunks of granite a few feet above a crystal clear alpine lake.

  • There was no one else swimming – clue #1. 
  • There was a snowfield dripping into the lake – clue #2. 
  • There was apparently nothing alive in the lake – clue #3. 

I jumped in anyway.

There is a sensation that occurs when your internal organs freeze. Walt Disney probably can relate. I came to the surface and, without a choice, scrambled for the bank. I apparently played it off well enough, because both of my children jumped in afterward. It was so cold, they couldn’t scream… believe me when I say that they would have screamed if it had been possible.

Back at camp we ate a lovely meal, which tasted like campfire smoke, and sat around telling stories and coughing until about 10pm. Oddly enough, it was so cold at bedtime that the mosquitoes were finally gone.

The next morning we looked like survivors of a Chicken Pox epidemic, and with the rising of the sun, came the rising of the mosquitoes. It was a zombie movie except with mosquitoes and daylight. I got out my iPhone and started calculating how many drops of blood I could loose before needing to lie down with a cookie and a juice box.

I packed up the instant oatmeal and rounded up the children who were standing in the renewed campfire. We made it back to the car in one hour, and headed home. My daughter is excited because it looks like she has a bad case of acne, which, according to her, makes her look like she’s a teen-ager.

I suppose every cloud of mosquitoes has a silver lining.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bird Rebounds

I’m never washing my windows again.

It's not that I'm lazy, I'm just looking out for the birds.
I’m here in the house and there are birds bouncing off the windows like two guys in foam rubber Sumo wrestler suits. The noise makes me cringe every time I hear it.


That was the sound of a little bird who should have had a helmet on. There is no way that doesn’t cause brain damage. I wonder if they fly back to their nests and the other birds have to chirp slower to them.

Today, after a seriously loud thunk, my son picked up a female grosbeak that was wandering around on the lawn. He decided it must be divine province that brought the bird to him, so he put it back down on the grass to go find a suitable prison.

Meanwhile, our little huntress Cockapoo went outside and saw a yellow-feathered Scooby Snack standing on lawn.

When Jay returned with a proper (totally improper) cage, he found Twig (yes, he had already named her) dangling from the mouth of a very cocky Cockapoo. The retrieved bird was not only sporting a fresh slobber glaze, it was also solidly dead, so Jay did what any pet owner would do. He got out a shovel and dug a hole in my septic field to give Twig a proper burial.

I was unaware of all of this until Jay came to me with a request for lumber. After a round of questions and semi-answers, I discovered the purpose of the lumber. A headstone... well, head-plank.

I informed Jay that the septic drainfield was one of the few places that I mow, so he couldn’t put up a head-plank there. He took it in stride and did some grave robbing.

With a new location found, and Twig lying on top of the fence like a dirt covered bird-zombie, I taught my son how to use a router and clamp down the wood properly.

An hour later, the head-plank was ready and the new grave dug. Twig was put to rest and Jay went into the house to play video games. The router, extra wood, paint, and clamps are still scattered outside, but at least he brought in all the wood chips and sawdust that had stuck to his clothing.

By now, I’m sure Tebby, the Cockapoo has dug up the grave and had lunch. I’ll go out in a little while and tamp the dirt back down, and remove the yellow feathers from the corners of her mouth so that no one will be the wiser.

Now it’s time to…. Dern, another thunk. That one sounded like a sparrow.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day

I made a terrible mistake. I thought that Father’s Day meant Father’s Day Off.

My wife got up this morning at 7:00AM to fly to Chicago. My nine year old daughter was up early and decided to make me a Father’s Day breakfast while I slept late. Her heart was in the right place, however the sound of dishes crashing was not restful.

During the kitchen destruction episode I continued to feign sleep, and before long, my twelve year old son woke me up to tell me they were going to let me sleep in. His heart was in the right place….

After I rolled over and pretended to be dead, he decided to wrestle the dog next to me on the bed. I got the hint and stumbled out of the room. My daughter wisely seated me at the table so that I couldn’t see the kitchen. The eggs and biscuit type thingy turned out pretty good. The kitchen did not turn out pretty good.

The rest of the day turned out much like the kitchen. Amidst the arguing, complaining, daily chores, kitchen triage, demands, and temper tantrums, we biked to the bakery, where my son went mentally insane.

I took a gamble that the insanity was caused by low blood sugar. The police were not called, but I have a hunch that Child Protective Services received a call that a poorly dressed man was trying to force feed a $10 piece of quiche to a screaming child.

On the ride back home, we were attacked by plants that hate bicycle tubes. After pulling the spikes out of the tires and exhausting my patch kit, we sprinted for the car while 3 of the 6 total tires slowly went flat.

At some point in the day I noticed all the charcoal in the oven from the cleaning cycle, so I found myself cleaning out the oven while the children stood behind me thinking up, and saying things that would make me mad.

I held it together for a few seconds before I pulled my head out of the oven and snapped.

“Listen up kids! This is Father’s Day! I’m the father, which makes it MY day. I’m not driving you to Evan’s house. I’m not driving you to Mariah’s house. I’m not cleaning up anything else. I’m not going to strip search your brother to find your missing Ring Pop. I’m not going to build a custom weather proof barn owl habitat. I’m not going to help you find your shorts. I’m not going to smell your flip-flops. I’m not going to look up the name of Selena Gomez’s new boy friend. And I’ll be damned if I am going to watch you shoot 347 Dark Creatures with Lego Warriors on your video game!"

"I AM going to change into my Sesame Street t-shirt, put on my Journey Escape CD, sit on the couch and read last month’s issue of Men’s Journal! Please go away into the woods… and take a box of crackers with you."

It was not my best moment.

The children steered clear for about three and a half minutes, before returning to add insult to injury. My daughter came into the room and turned off my Journey CD so that she could call her friend and arrange a play date.

I was so bamboozled by this brazen action so soon after my tirade, that I had no other choice but to give up.

I reached into my brain, removed all of my expectations of having a lovely special day, and flushed them down the toilet - that needed cleaning. I then walked downstairs, picked up a controller and shot Dark Creatures with my son until it was time to smell my daughter’s flip flops.

I fully intend to remind them of this day when they become parents. I will have my revenge. Oh, yes, I will.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Open a Window

I am not only a SAHD (stay at home dad), I am also a bit of a DIY (do it yourself) guy when it comes to the house.

Today I decided to install the counter-top for the sink in the utility room. The process required that I do something that I have never done before – glue laminate to the top of the counter. This procedure requires glue. The glue in question is very specific to laminate… and probably drug users.

I started reading the glue can, while sitting in the tiny, unventilated room. On the can, there was a warning about tiny unventilated rooms, right next to a paragraph about long term exposure, brain damage, and operating heavy machinery.

Eventually I got around to the instructions for application, popped the lid, and started applying the toxic goop with a brush. Within seconds, the room was filled with an unusually strong odor, and I was unclear what my initial mission was.

I began gluing the lid to the floor, and the can to the drill, and my shoe to the shelf. It was terribly funny to me at the time.

At one point, I came around enough to get back to the task at hand and decided to review the instructions for wait-time to stick the laminate to the wood top. I read something about vomiting, so I double checked to see that I had the can right side up, then reread the step to see where I was supposed to vomit and for how long.

Upon realizing I had been reading the hazard section again, I turned the can to the application instructions and found the drying time – 30 minutes. Oooo, math. I like math.

I looked at the pretty little numbers on my watch, but the numbers didn’t provide much help.

I went back to the can, and it said to wait until the glue was tacky. I imagined the glue wearing socks with sandals – very tacky. I thought it was terribly funny at the time.

The glue was wet still, so I went out to the shed to put away some tools. While in the shed, I went completely blind. Everything was black. I couldn’t help but think that it was odd that I would go blind so quickly.

My eyes started adjusting to the dark, and to my great relief, I discovered that the door had blown shut and the lights were off. I groped to the door and with my newly restored sight, I went back into the house as loopy as ever.

I stopped in my son’s room, which is next to the utility room to see if the vapors had killed his gecko. I looked through the glass at the nocturnal creature, which was now wide awake and licking its eyeballs. It was terribly funny at the time. I wondered if gecko saliva made his eyeballs tacky…ooooh, tacky…TACKY… I’ve got to check the glue!

Back into the utility room, I found the glue to be perfectly tacky and ready for installation. I got the laminate in place and rolled it on and installed the sink…. I think. I don’t remember all of that, but it’s done and I’m the only one who would have done it, so it must have been me. The gecko is not that industrious.

Now, I’ve got an incredible desire to eat Doritos and Little Debbie snack cakes. You know those ones that have the creamy swirl wrapped inside the chocolaty goodness? Man, I need to go get a box of those. I wonder where the kids are?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Adult Slushies

If you give my children caffeine, you’ll be sorry.

Not because I will get mad at you, but because I will politely force you to be responsible for them until their brains return to normal.

It’s safe to say my son has destructive tendencies. With caffeine in his system, he is destructive… faster. My daughter is very social. With caffeine in her system, she is like a cheerleader on speed.

I was in the grocery store today. I told the children they could pick out a drink. They know the rules – no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial-chemical-Frankenstein-sugar, and no caffeine. They perused the juices, vitamin waters, and flavored sparking beverages, before turning to me and asking politely for a slushy.

I flash-backed to my childhood, standing in the 7-11 with a crumpled dollar bill in my pocket trying to decide which slushy would cause maximum tongue discoloration. I proclaimed, “What the heck, kids, knock yourselves out! Get a slushy!”

I went about my business knowing that my children were safely cocooned in my nostalgia and undergoing a right of passage – unsupervised slushy mixing. I looked forward to seeing the familiar foul gray color that occurred when one mixes all the slushy flavors together in an attempt to create a new and groundbreaking slushy flavor.

My daughter ran up to me as I stared at chicken.

“Dad! The slushy has caffeine… and Jay has it!”

“Oh, dear child, slushies don’t have caffeine. Slushies are full of sugar, flavors, and magic neon fairy sprinkles. There’s nothing bad in slushies, so don’t you worry your pretty little head.”

My daughter didn’t go for it, and gave me the You-Are-A-Dumb-Adult look. I strolled back over to the slushy machine to check on Jay.

His eyes were bugged out as he sucked frozen blue/green slushy out of a clear cup. He pointed to the microscopic label that read, “CAFFEINE TAURINE GINSENG” and said, “See, that doesn’t say, ‘caffeine’. It says… well, I can’t read it.”

Apparently, the transformation had begun.

My heart stopped beating for a couple of seconds. My lip twitched. My childhood memories were dashed to the sticky floor. The green slushy has caffeine and taurine in it.

What the hell are they thinking! Who would put caffeine in a slushy? If some psycho wants Red Bull in his slushy, let him buy a dern Red Bull and put it in his own dern slushy! What’s next? A little Ecstasy in the SweetTarts? How about some crack in the Nerds. Heck, cocaine in the Pixie Stix should create a lovely sales spike.

In an effort to restore some of my innocence, I took note that the row of tanks did not have the infamous Icee polar bear hanging on a gargantuan circus colored cup. Instead, they had “Italian Sodas” printed below the unnaturally florescent churning semi-liquids. I guess that makes it marketed for adults.

I think I’ll write the company to see when the “Camel Menthol” flavor is coming out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Un-Macho Dad

I accidentally referred to myself as a Stay-At-Home-Mom the other day.

It was just a slip, right? I’m a macho Stay-At-Home-Dad, right? It’s not like I gave up my manliness when I started wearing bright orange rubber gloves and a frilly apron… did I?

To be on the safe side, I joined a gym. Gyms are manly places where men get pumped up, and testosterone is in such abundance that it leaks out of the doors and makes passers-by want to grunt, scratch, and watch boxing.

I went at 9:00AM. I had not been notified in advance that at 9:00 AM, the gym had only Stay-At-Home-Moms talking about cleaning supplies, babies, and The View.

I walked in determined to do a manly workout despite the estrogen fueled conversation. However, one lady had the audacity to say that the Shark Steam Mop couldn’t pick up crayon marks off of hard wood floors.

I couldn’t let that one lie.

I informed her that you had to pump up the steam and let the mop head sit on the crayon mark for a few seconds, then it would come right up. Amateurs.

After my workout with the ladies, I was still not feeling the macho vibe, so I decided to get my truck fixed. After all there are not many things more manly than a greasy old 4x4 plow truck.

I put my bike in the back so that I could ride home, and changed into my stretchy Spandex bike shorts. I drove down into town and parked in the repair shop lot next to some very manly 4x4’s.

I swaggered into the shop with my bike tights and sexy little bike shoes on, and told the grease monkey behind the counter that I had a leak in my rear end.

That’s manly.

He looked confused and slightly ill. I explained that my manly truck was dripping oil out of the rear differential. He seemed relieved, and started asking me the typical manly questions, such as, “What kind of rear end do you have?” I stumbled over the questions and used words such as, “thingy” and “pointy-ish” to describe my manly undercarriage.

Eventually, the 250 pound unshaven man realized I was clueless and went into help-the-damsel-in-distress mode. He explained that my posi-traction rear end required fully disassembling to replace the seal which was causing the problem and that they could take care of it and call me when it was done.

I left the keys on the counter, pulled my bike tights out of my crack and walked out.

Back at the house, I cranked up my iTunes. ABBA blared from the speakers. During Dancing Queen, I had an epiphany.

Maybe I should give up and embrace my un-macho self. After a full day of housework, grocery shopping, helping with homework, and cooking dinner; I could settle into a comfy chair and watch the Notebook on DVD.

Okay… not The Notebook. I am still a guy, after all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Killer Chocolate

My cousin is kind, compassionate, and loving… but if you start talking about vomit, she will beat you into a coma with your own arm.

If you have similar issues with vomit, stop reading, because this will make you unhappy.

This winter, I took my kids into the library after school. My daughter’s school bag, a treasure trove of trinkets, trash, food, and hair clips, was left in the car along with our two dogs.

Upon returning, my little white dog, Tebby, looked up from an empty Nestle’s Semi-sweet Morsels bag, wagging her little nub tail, and sporting a chocolate mustache.

The bag had been nearly full, so considering she only weighed about 14 pounds, that meant my little dog ate 16% of her body weight in delicious milk chocolate.

I seemed to recall that chocolate was bad for dogs in more than a waistline way. I did a quick “chocolate & dogs” search on my phone. On the screen, I saw stories of death, descriptions of death, and time tables of death. Apparently, chocolate is the smack of the dog world, and Tebby had overdosed. If she didn’t throw up, she had a couple of hours to live - tops.

Next, I searched for vomiting recipes for dogs. Hey! What do you know! There’s a bunch of them! I picked an easy one, which involves hydrogen peroxide. I told the kids to sit tight, and I ran across the street to buy H2O2.

Brown bottle in hand, we went looking for a lovely spot to save the dog. The phone said I had less than an hour left before serious nerve damage started, so driving the 15 minutes home was totally out of the question. Riverside Park, though, was close and provided a beautiful backdrop for throwing up.

As we pulled in, I told the kids that making dogs puke requires teamwork. The kids were up to the task, so while I held the dog down and held her mouth up and open, one child poured hydrogen peroxide down her throat, while the other child supervised. Convinced that enough went down her gullet, I let her go. We watched her lick the now-foaming chocolate mustache, and look up at us as if we must have accidentally restrained her and poured nasty liquid down her throat.

Almost a minute passed before I declared, “It’s not working! Round TWO!” I grabbed her again and we poured another batch down her throat.

That time, when I let go of her, she clued in on the pattern and decided she was not interested in Round 3. She bolted toward the swing set, but only made it a few yards before the first heaving lurch.

For the next 30 minutes, we followed our poor little cockapoo around the park while she vomited up nearly a pound of Semi-Sweet Morsels (and a few unidentified things from my daughter’s school bag). The snow in a 100’ radius was splotched with foaming choco-barf.

On the way home, we all kept looking at Tebby, expecting her to either die or throw up again. I called the vet from the driveway. He told me we did the right thing, she would be fine, and the second dose of hydrogen peroxide was unnecessary. Unfortunately, Tebby heard the last part and didn’t speak to me for a few days.

I know she learned her lesson, because she asked for a real bunny to eat for Easter as opposed to a chocolate one.

I’m currently working on a hydrogen peroxide juice box for next Halloween to curb my children’s already startling sugar habit.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Small Town Anthropology

I dropped the kids at school and motored the 10 miles to town to buy a birthday present. I decided to go to a place that was mostly foreign to me – the Mall.

When I rolled into the lot, I got a SWEET parking spot right in front of the main doors. In fact there were very few cars in the lot, just about 5 or 6 full sized Buicks, Oldsmobiles, and Fords.

As I got out of the car, it dawned on me that the mall would not be open at 8:15 in the morning. So I stood in the nearly vacant parking lot in my Carhartt work clothes staring at the font doors, when a sudden urge to go to the bathroom fell upon me.

The parking lot was, of course, the first option, but I thought better of it. Perhaps one door was unlocked for early employees or janitors. There had to be a restroom in there somewhere.

To my surprise, the first door I tried was unlocked. In fact they were all unlocked! How careless!

I crept inside with cat-like stealth and took in my surroundings. The lights were on, but all of the store fronts had little jail cell curtains covering the entrances. I scuttled up to the main hall junction and ran smack dab into a group of burglars.

They were in a pack headed down the hall. They were all in their 60’s and 70’s wearing JC Penny track suits and white sneakers. They nodded and smiled as they cruised by.

The thrill was too much to pass up. I joined them.

As we passed the Sears, I spotted two more gangs of burglars roaming the mall in a startling systematic way… counter clockwise. The last piece of the puzzle clicked into place. I had not joined a roaming gang of geriatric burglars, I had joined the Mall Walkers!

I had heard that such a tribe of people existed, but I truly didn’t think I would ever get a chance to see them, much less, participate in their ritual. I felt a bit like Dian Fossey as I scurried along behind them, trying to decipher their language and migration patterns.

I spotted the entrance to the restroom next to Bed Bath and Beyond across the way. I avoided sudden movements so as not to frighten the Mall Walkers as I traveled directly across the main concourse.

I did not hear the alarm. I did not smell the pheromone. I did not receive the psychic signal. But something alerted the Walkers, and they all turned to look at the intruder.

I had broken the cardinal rule of the Mall Walkers. I had left the designated path. My Carhartts suddenly seemed grotesque to me. How I longed for a track suit and white sneakers in that horrible moment.

I coyly strolled to the restroom and avoided eye contact. When I emerged from the restroom, I kept a keen eye out for the alpha males. I’ve heard they’re the most dangerous. I wondered if there was a silverback waiting in the Crocs booth that separated me from my nearest exit. I made my way past the Orange Julius without breathing.... trying not to show fear. I heard they bite you if they sense fear.

The morning sun seemed too bright after my time in the Walker's lair. On top of that, I couldn't find the car right away. I think that's a mall thing.

Once located, I steered my Subaru across town to Target. They open early, and the patrons wear pajamas at 8:30 am, not track suits.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

DMV Lines

The Department of Motor Vehicles line painters must have good senses of humor.

I went to get my motorcycle license at the DMV, and I got stuck behind some poor student-driver trying to park an SUV in a compact car spot. The catch was that they were ALL compact car spots – I’m talking, Mini Cooper size.

It’s pretty dern funny if you think about it for a second.

Inside, the waiting area was arranged like a game show with the chairs from one side of the room facing the other side. I chose the side with a couple of big guys. I figured if this turned into a fight, we could take the elderly lady and the woman with three kids sitting across the way.

I saw that everyone had a number ticket, but there was no Take-A-Number machine in sight. I figured out that there was an alien energy field that was keeping anyone from making eye contact or talking unless their cell phones rang, and then they were forced to speak very loudly. I began to feel like I had slipped into the alternative reality where Captain Kirk has a goatee.

Eventually, I asked one of the guys behind the counter where the number machine was. With a Prozac smile, he motioned me over to a line of people blocking the machine, which was crammed against the wall. I looked to see if the line of people were doing the Red Rover hand holding thing so I could break through. Before I had picked out the weakest link in the line, he took a number for me and handed it over; number 374.

I sat down and listened as they called number 008… then 565… then 141...
I scanned the room to see if anyone else thought this number sequence was a bit strange. When my random number lit up, I asked the lady at Counter #5 if Willy Wonka installed their number system.

She didn’t respond, she had perfect skin, and I heard ticking, so I think she was an android.

She asked me why I was there. I told the android that I would like to take the motorcycle test. She looked at my license, then told me to look into a set of huge binoculars and read off some numbers.

Then she asked me to look back in the binoculars and tell her where the red dot was. I told her it was in the box. She didn’t respond. I asked if it was supposed to be in the box. She said it was. I asked if it was ever not in the box. She said, “If it’s not in the box, you don’t get your license.”

I was happy that the dot decided to be in the box when I looked. I wondered if the dot was malicious or just randomly wandered out of the box sometimes.

After poking Computer #3 with the correct answers, it told me to go to Counter #1. I took my place hiding the number machine. When it was my turn at the counter, Prozac Smile asked me why I was there. I told him that I took the test, and the computer instructed me to go stand in front of the Take A Number machine.

Prozac Smile happily informed me that while I had passed the test with 100%, there was a riding skills test that I couldn’t take because the lines had to be repainted in the parking lot across the street.

And so, I left, with no motorcycle license, to find the nearest Shriners’ Lodge, so that I can borrow a motor scooter for the skills test that isn't scheduled.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tooth Fairy in Rehab?

My son lost a tooth.

It wasn’t his first by a long shot. He’s old enough to know that too many questions about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, or Santa could derail the money train.

He did what he was supposed to do. He taped it under his pillow. The Tooth Fairy was supposed to give him a buck or two and that would’ve been the end of it.

What can I say? I have no excuse. I’ve been wrapped up in the remodel that I’m doing in my house. It’s all I think about these days.

After two nights of Tooth Fairy no-shows, my son said to me while I was tucking him in, “Dad, why hasn’t the Tooth Fairy come to get my tooth?”

This, of course, hit hard. He’s growing up fast, but he’s still so innocent in many ways. It’s a parent’s job to keep the magic alive as long as possible, right?

I knew what I had to do.

I sat on the edge of the bed and looked at my beautiful son.
After I gathered my courage, I told him:

“The Tooth Fairy is a drinker, son. I’m guessing three, maybe four shots of tequila a night. She wasn’t always like that. When I was a boy, she was a strict vegan and a serious light-weight when it came to booze. But then the Easter Bunny and the other One-Nighters, like Santa, kept getting the spotlight despite that fact that Tooth was working nightly shifts – 365 days a year.

It started with wine coolers, then she started hitting malt liquors and Boons Farm. These days it’s all about the Cuervo Gold.

So, you see, son, she’s probably just sleeping off a binge and she’ll be back in business tonight.

If she leaves you Canadian money, don’t fuss about it. The Looney is stronger than the dollar right now.

Sweet dreams, little man… sweet dreams.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dirty Laundry

Here’s a nugget of knowledge for you, free of charge...
If you stop doing the laundry, your kids will wear funny clothes.

It starts out innocent enough; out of town trip, projects, meetings, or 4” of fresh powder at the local ski hill on the night before “laundry day”.

Eventually, though, one has to acknowledge that laundry stopped becoming a priority. Things like sucking the helium out of your kid’s Red Robin balloon and singing Wham! songs get higher ranking than folding clothes.

Then, one day you find the whites are piled up quite a bit higher than the snow outside. Your children are making laundry angels in the floor. There’s Frosty the Laundryman, and ooo, look, there’s a laundry fort with nifty pantyhose curtains and a proud bra-flag waving in the air.

My daughter came upstairs for breakfast this morning wearing a too-small dress shirt, sweat pants, and two different socks. I managed to stop myself before criticizing her. After all, it’s my fault she’s dressed like a homeless person.

My son came upstairs five minutes later wearing someone else’s clothing. I complimented him on his problem solving skills and asked if I should expect any phone calls from angry parents.

Two days ago, I almost did the laundry after seeing something move. I was fairly certain that the "spontaneous life" theory was shot down a couple hundred years ago, but they didn’t have polyester back then – polyester is a game changer.

Turns out it was just the dog, which had gone missing earlier. She didn’t seem to have suffered any serious trauma from being lost in the linens, but I think she's afraid of boxers now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Grape Lady

I did my grocery shopping today. I’m still processing my experience in the produce section.

I spotted GRAPES on the list, so I moseyed over to the grape isle and sidled up next to a senior citizen by the Dole seedless (green and red… score!).

This grandmotherly looking lady was taking clumps of apparently unworthy grapes out of one bag and cherry picking clumps from others to put in her “special” bag. Every dern holey plastic grape bag was open and this lady was working like she had a tape worm at an all-you-can-eat-buffet.

I stopped my shopping experience and stared at her for a moment just to take in the whole picture. She noticed me standing there and suddenly stopped poaching, then picked right back up at a slower rate, with occasional furtive glances my way.

Apparently, she thought I wouldn’t notice if she were trading grapes slowly, but she didn’t know who she was dealing with. Sure, it threw me off, but only for a second.

She eventually left to do more fruit trading, and I gathered up a tainted bag and continued on my quest for turgid bok choy... That’s how I roll.

It is only now that I sit in my house after rinsing the grapes with bleach and 7th Generation bathroom cleaner that I wonder which bundle of grapes she put in my bag and what she didn’t like about them.

Am I eating grapes that are too small? Too far apart? Not “grapey” enough?

I’m confused and feel like I’m missing something important in life.

If I ever see her again, I will follow her and learn her fruit quality detection techniques. She will be my Yoda. Oh, yes... she will.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Septic Tanks and Vacuum Cleaners

When I lived in West Virginia, I had the septic tank vacuumed out by John Goodman.

It was just after Arachnophobia came out, and I wondered why he needed the work.

As he stood next to his humungous Vac Truk, sucking the worst of my labors out of the ground, he told me the story of the only time his Vac Truk ever let him down.

“Vienna Sausage can (he pronounced it vy-enne),” he said, as his hose glugged away. “I sucked up a gall dern Vienna Sausage can. Hell if I can figure how it got in a septic tank. I didn’t figger a feller could flush down something like that, but I sucked it up in the Vac Truk, and knew, sure as shootin’, something was bad wrong.”

He patted the Vac Truk lovingly with a hand which appeared more tanned than the rest of his body, while he continued his war story. “I had to take the suction hose and pump apart right there in the gravel driveway. There was a good bit of solids stuck up in the hose… and of course, that had to come out first… then I found it… a Vienna Sausage can! A gall dern Vienna Sausage can. Still had the label on it.”

So, this morning, as I vacuumed my floor, the pitch changed on the Kenmore, and I knew something bad wrong happened to the vacuum cleaner.

I thought back to Mr. Goodman in my West Virginia backyard, chewing the fat around the septic tank, and I decided to take the vacuum apart right there on the linoleum.

There was a lot of dog hair stuck up in the hose, so of course, that had to come out first. Then… a checker! A gall dern checker.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Berries Are Food, Too

I hope you folks haven’t forgotten about me!

I’m still alive, I’m still a dad, and I’m still a student of life. In fact I probably haven’t posted for a long time simply because I’m too busy learning new things.

For example, I may have come up with a new side dish!

Let me begin at the beginning.

I plowed into my elderberry bush next to the driveway. It’s okay, because I plowed into it with my plow. It’s a snowplow, not a bushplow, but that didn’t seem to matter to the plow or the bush, because the plow is fine, but the bush isn’t. The bush now looks more like the second Little Pig’s house... post-wolf.

I didn’t plow into the bush on purpose. I was just trying to push the snow off the driveway at high speed. High speed plowing throws the snow really well, but you tend to hit things or just run off the road, due to lack of visibility. It’s hard to see out because of the condensation, flying snow, and the fact that I haven't cleaned the windshield since... okay, I don't think I've ever cleaned it (you can see pretty well if you stick your head out of the window and blink a lot, but that is just unpleasant).

So, I hit this Elderberry bush pretty hard and broke it.
A lot.
A bunch of the berry clusters landed on the hood, which was hot from plowing. Then the berries started cooking on the hood. Then I parked, and the burnt berries froze to the hood. Then I plowed a few more times, and the berries were still there.

I knew it was stupid, but I couldn’t help looking at those burnt-frozen berries stuck to the hood and wonder what they tasted like. So, I picked some berries that were less likely to have Ford paint cooked to them, and tried them out.

You know how when someone tells you that a movie is really bad, and when you see it, you’re pleasantly surprised because of your low expectations?
Well this was nothing like that. I expected them to be really bad and they were really bad.

But then I got some frozen ones off the ground near the crash site that never took a ride on the hood, and they weren't horrible.

I don’t think they’re going to take the place of strawberries or blueberries, but they could do in a pinch… like if there was a world war and all the grocery stores in the world were obliterated by evil-doers.

Lesson of the day: frozen-burnt elderberries are bad, just frozen elderberries are not as bad.

There's a nugget you can use in everyday life. You're welcome.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's For Dinner?

I’ve got the whole cooking-dinner-every-night thing figured out.

Fast food is super cheap and it’s everywhere. Tell your family that you have new menu ideas for dinner, then go buy fast food and dispose of all the wrappers.

It’s close to genius!

When you’re family gets sick (which they will), give them some raw vegetables for a few days until their bowls start working again, then get back to the easy stuff.

Here’s a sample menu:
Monday, get a bag of hamburgers and fries from McDonalds.
Tuesday, get a bag of the cheap tacos from Taco Bell.
Wednesday, get a bucket of chicken from KFC (use a coupon, they’re expensive).
Thursday, hit the dollar menu at Wendy’s and shake it up.
Friday, something chickeny from Jack in the Box.
Saturday and Sunday, act like you’re tired of cooking and maybe your spouse will cook something.

There are a couple of things you should watch out for.
First, your children will gain a scary amount of weight, get really lethargic, and may periodically vomit. This is normal, don’t freak out, just keep an eye on the diabetes.

Second, your family's taste buds will slowly dissolve. There's nothing you can do about that.

Third, you have got to keep the cob webs out of the kitchen and dust off the stove top regularly. If your spouse is cooking on the weekends, this should take care of itself.

Finally, if you live in a small town, you have got to disguise yourself and your car when you go to the franchises, so the high school students don’t start recognizing you. Throw on a Hannah Montana wig, and use that blue painters tape to give your ride a new look each week. Don’t use duct tape – it leaves sticky stuff on your paint job.

If I see a fake blond driving an SUV with 3” wide blue pinstripes in the drive-through, I’ll give you a nod and a wink.

Now go get some junk food and rent a movie (you have time now)!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dern Dogs

I’m tired of my dogs freeloading.

All they do is eat, sleep, grow hair, look at me, and poop in my driveway. All I ask is that they go poop in the neighbor’s driveway.

I realize I shouldn’t be too upset, considering the size of the “presents”. When I was a kid, my friend, Bucky, had a Saint Bernard named Hoss with a digestive disorder. Big dogs leave behind big packages. Hoss left behind a semi-liquid trail of horror that could ruin your day if you weren’t paying attention to where you were biking, walking, or skateboarding.

My dogs are small, which creates another set of problems. They’re not big enough to do any work. I hooked them up to my sled and they just stood there. They didn’t even try to pull me.

I suppose the white one could herd ducks or something, but I don’t think duck farmers have a need for herding dogs. The only thing I think I could ever get the fat black one to herd would be roasted chicken or bacon.

I don’t even think these dogs are big enough for a baby to ride. Bucky’s little brother rode Hoss until he was maybe 5 or so. Even if my dogs were big enough for infants to ride, I don’t think babies can hang on very well. Even Bucky’s little brother fell off no matter how many times we stuck him up there.

I need to figure out some way to get a return on my investment.

Dog shows are totally out. There is no way I’m stuffing the fat black one into a swimsuit. It’s demeaning for all fat black dogs. And the white dog already has a tendency toward vanity. When she finds a well-dead animal in the woods, she rolls in it and prances around the neighborhood to show off her new perfume. I don't want to encourage that sort of behavior.

I could dress them in stupid costumes and rent them to rich women who like to carry dogs around in their purses. Minor problem… I don’t know any rich women who would carry around a crazy cock-a-poo with fish-breath and sticks in her fur. If you know someone like that, could you drop me a line?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sick and Tired

I’m sick and tired.

I got sick on New Year’s Eve, and I’m tired of dragging my bloated head around.

Now I sit here startled at the amount of mucus my sinuses have produced in the last few minutes. If there is a contest, I’d like to enter it.

It makes me wonder how big my sinuses really are. It’s the same sort of mystery as seeing a really large woman in stretch pants… how did all that get in there? It seems to defy physics.

If there really is that much room behind your eyeballs, couldn’t we use that space when we’re not sick? I’ve often had the conundrum of where to keep my car key while I’m out for a jog. Based on what these Kleenex are showing me, I could hold a set of keys and my wallet up there.

How about that boarding pass the next time you fly? You know you need to keep it handy, but you’re also toting a carry-on the size of a dishwasher, and you have your kids’ toys, snacks, and eighty dollars worth of bottled water in your hands. Wouldn’t it be nice to have your boarding pass safely tucked away in your nose?

Oooo, I can see the future of cell phones. Just make them small enough to shove up a nostril and start talking. The crazy people will love this better than Bluetooth earbuds. Everybody will look like they’re talking to themselves, but they won’t have things stuck in their ears.

You could hit Speaker, and your friends voice will come out of your nose.

Click on iTunes and you would get awesome sound through your eustachian tubes.

There would be no more pocket dialing, unless you’re a nose picker. You’d have to be careful about sneezing, though. One whiff of pepper and you could shoot your phone smack into the Dispoz-All.

I don’t think the camera function on your phone would be very good. You’d have to tilt your head waaaaay back.

The vibrate function would be pretty cool. You would definitely not miss a call, ever.

I think I should take a Sudafed, drink more cough medicine, and try this out.