Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hi! I've been on a kinda-like hiatus.  I am now writing again but working on a new site format.  Please stand by as I get my schtick together — or better yet, you may want to have a seat.  I hope not to be too long. Thanks for checking me out!  ~  Trophy Dad

Friday, September 23, 2011

Girl Inform Me (The Shins, 2001)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Monday, November 19, 2007.


"I love my dad, although I'm definitely critical of him sometimes — like when his pants are too tight!"
~ Liv Tyler, American actress and model, daughter of Steven Tyler, frontman for the rock band Aerosmith.

"Bye Dad," was all I got.

My eleven-year-old said this as she swung the car door open to go to dance lessons. Typically, I got a "Bye Dad, I love you," but on this night she was not particularly happy with her male parental unit — that would be me — you know, the "not funny," mean, insensitive Dad. (I will spare you the details.) Hence, Lauren bid me adieu with the warmth of an airline attendant — the only thing missing was the buh in buh-bye.

Before she could close the door I said, "I'm going in with you. I need to get Jessie." My 6-year-old's tap class ended as Lauren's class began.

These words stopped Lauren dead in her seat. She looked back at me, both of us now sitting in the darkness, and said, "What are you wearing?"

Whoa! Where did that come from? What am I wearing? Since when has Lauren been interested in what I wore? My first inclination was to say, "What I'm wearing is none of your business young lady." But not only would that be just a tad defensive, I would have sounded ridiculous. After all, my outside attire is a matter of public record.

The question did momentarily stump me. It was one I couldn't answer without doing a split second mental inventory. What was I wearing? Basically, it was the look-like-I-exercise look, or in my case, the look-like-I'm-working-on-it look: a navy blue LaSalle Bank sweatshirt, black not-too-tight-not-too-loose Reebok sweatpants, white socks, and blue Saucony running shoes with orange and white trim — and yes, underwear.

Sparing the details I answered Lauren confidently, "Black running sweats and a sweatshirt."

Okay, so I wouldn't be appearing in GQ anytime soon. And yes, I probably should have worn a ball cap. But I did brush my teeth that morning and, as far as I could remember, I had no food stains on my clothes. (I do have some standards you know.)

Lauren stood outside of the car. "Is that okay?" I asked sarcastically.

As she closed the passenger door, Lauren said, "Yeah . . . I guess."

The slam I heard wasn't just the sound of the car door closing. What the . . . ? Yeah, I guess? What's that supposed to mean?

Lauren began walking briskly across the parking lot. I quickly gathered myself and jumped out of the car giving chase. As I trotted to catch up I yelled, "Have I ever worn anything that embarrassed you?"

Without slowing or turning back, Lauren answered, "Yes."

Yes? Excuse me. Yeessss? Hey, wait one minute there Little Miss Sunshine. I'm well aware that I embarrass her with my behavior. This is what Dads do, a parental right if you will: sing loudly in front of friends, tell corny jokes to anyone who will listen, blare Herb Albert and TJB (the Tijuana Brass) when picking up from school. This form of public embarrassment is something I relish and, quite honestly, comes natural to me. But, embarrassing her with how I dress? No way.

Following behind Lauren, I said, "When? When did I embarrass you?"

Before she could even answer, I answered. "I did not."

"Yes, you did," she said, entering the building.

I gave chase through the door. "Okay," I said. "What did I wear?" Ah-ah! I had her now!

Walking hurriedly down the hallway toward her dance studio she said, "Your purple pants."

"My purple pants?"

"Yeah, they were too small."

"They were not too small." I didn't even know what pants she was talking about, but they surely were not too small. Okay, maybe I have worn a pair of pants or two that were a little snug, and maybe the zipper had trouble staying up, but too small? No! Come on!

"Yes, they were," Lauren said.

"No, they weren't," I shot back.




"No-o," I said. What a minute!

"What purple pants?" I said. "I don't even own purple pants!" Ah-hah!

Not backing down she answered firmly, "Yeah you do — or you did."

We were now moving through the center of a larger hallway which doubled as the entry area to numerous studio rooms and a waiting area for parents. I dodged dancers large and small as they moved between studios and reunited with parents.

Over the din of female chatter I yelled, "Lauren wait!"

She stopped moving for the first time since leaving the car and turned to face me. "What?"

She was showing signs of exasperation beyond her years, but I needed to get to the bottom of this — my reputation as a trophy dad was under attack. "When did you see me in purple pants?"

"I don't know — a year ago." She said.

"Okay then, so what do they look like?"

"I don't know, they were purple — Dad, I gotta go to class."

"Nope, I've never had purple pants." I said.

In the spirit of full disclosure, let the record show I do have purple gym shorts — a fact I am not proud of I might add, but note, I only wear them to bed. However, I do not own, nor have I ever owned or worn, purple pants. (Cross my heart, hope to die. Eat a slice of mincemeat pie.)

Lauren rolled her eyes and before heading into dance said, "Bye, Dad."

Buh-bye. We were right back where we started a minute earlier in the parking lot. Only now I was not just the "not funny," mean, and insensitive Dad. I was also the Dad who wore tight fitting pants.

"Bye," I said, before shouting, "I never had purple pants you know!" I doubted Lauren heard me, she had already disappeared into her dance studio.

I suspect I got more than one inquisitive look from a nearby mother or child, but I was lost in my own cringeworthy wardrobe thoughts. Moments later Jessie found me standing — dazed — in the center of a mob of little dancers. As we headed home I was still more than a little bothered by Lauren's revelation. Not because she was embarrassed, but that I reportedly wore tight pants — tight purple pants, no less.

Fifteen minutes later, I was in the kitchen with my wife Elizabeth. I immediately shared Lauren's allegation — purple pants, tightness, her embarrassment. Elizabeth assured me that Lauren was mistaken. As she did, a feeling of relief and vindication poured over my ego. Unfortunately, this feeling was short lived. It was only a matter of seconds before Elizabeth added, "They weren't purple they were royal blue, and that was a few years ago."

My God. It was true. I am a dad, doing embarrassing dad things — just like my dad did, and his dad did before him, and his dad before him, and so on and so forth.

It didn't take long for me to come to terms with this verifiable truth of fatherhood. As a matter of fact, it took longer for me to find the infamous royal blue pants in my closet.

. . . I then wore them to pick Lauren up from dance class.

Being an embarrassing dad does have its privileges.

“If you have embarrassed yourself and are going to laugh about it someday, you might as well start today.” - Unknown


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Is It Any Wonder? (Keane, 2006)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place in March of 2007.


"Right out of hell, I saw it!" ~ Commodore Decker, Star Trek Original Series

I rolled down the four-lane highway that led to my daughter's dance class. It was about 4:50 PM on a Tuesday and I was seconds away from an encounter with a motard — a driving challenged motorist.

My 11-year-old daughter sat next to me in the front passenger seat while my 6- and 2-year-old girls sat quietly in the backseat. I was going about 50 m.p.h. in a 45 m.p.h. zone, passing a vehicle on its left as we approached a green traffic signal. It was then that a maroon car approaching the same intersection from the right caught my eye. The car was not stopping.

"Holy schnike!" I thought — well not exactly. The car was going to pull into the right lane and hit the car next to me. I began to brake.

I was correct — the maroon car didn't stop — but was wrong about the lane. The motard pulled into the left lane, a.k.a. my lane. I laid heavily on the brakes, averting a rear-end collision.

“Jesus!” I said, instantly sorry for taking the name of Jesús Alou — the youngest trio of baseball playing Alou brothers — in vain.

In classical motard fashion, after nearly causing an accident and bringing my vehicle to almost a complete stop, the knucklehead in the maroon car accelerated — yeah, as if speeding up negated the fact he just cut me off.

I may be in the minority but when I do something motarded, I make sure to give the conciliatory I-know-I'm-an-idiot wave — and then pray like hell I don’t become a victim of road rage. Not only was an acknowledgement not forthcoming from the driver of the maroon beater, but adding insult to a hard stop, the bastage car backfired as it sped away, spewing a plume of dark exhaust for all to choke on.

Let's review: not only did the car cut us off, but, also, technically, it farted on us. It was as if the beater maroon car was saying — spoken in a thick French accent — "I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a Hugo and your father smelled of motor grease!"

Responding to my one-word outburst and having witnessed the cut and run herself, Lauren, my 11-year-old said, "What Dad?"

What Dad? Wasn’t it obvious? Making a concerted effort to remain calm and collected, I said, "He shouldn't have pulled out."

I couldn't help but think if Michael Scott of The Office was seated next to me and Dwight Schrute was in the backseat, this is when Michael would say, “That’s what she said,” and Dwight and I would laugh and I would give Michael a knuckle-bump . . .

Lauren nodded, fooled by my adult-like appearance.

We quickly gained on what was a circa 1988 Buick — not so — Regal. The car was in need of a wash and rust remover. From behind the driver appeared to be a man — a man with a "I ♥ Shopping" bumper sticker (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

"Did you see the bumper sticker?" Lauren said.

I chuckled. "Yes."

"What's so funny?"

The shallow and small man that I am, I took the low road. "By the looks of his car the guy should be saving his money and shopping for a new car."

Unsure if I was joking or serious, Lauren smiled uneasily.

We stayed behind the car for a mile or so before moving to the faster moving right lane. As we slowly passed the motard mobile, I made a point not to look at the driver. This is what I do: instead of glaring, yelling, or gesturing, I think it's cooler to look totally unfazed — kind of the anti-rage.

My head trained straight ahead and, I might add, looking totally cool, I noticed the Buick was missing a front passenger side hubcap — it seemed only fitting. I also noticed Lauren sitting straight up in her seat, her head cocked to the left, leaning forward, straining to get a good look at the car and driver. This was understandable, she had probably never seen a motard before.

Her eyes suddenly widened. "Hey Dad! There is a number you can call about his driving!"

Before her comment registered with my brain, I instinctively turned to look at the car. Immediately, my eyes were drawn to a small oval sticker on the back window: "How am I driving? Dial: 1 800-FUCK-OFF"

Damn! He got me again. It was the motard that kept giving.

"That's just great," I said.

Lauren and I laughed. I explained to her that this was not a real number. However, as if operators were standing by, she insisted we try it on my cell phone. I didn’t, but could only imagine . . .

Operator: [Indian accented female voice] Thank you for calling 1 800-FUCK-OFF. My name is Mary Smith, how can I help you?

Me: Yeah, um, there's a guy here, and . . . um, I don't like how he's driving.

Operator: Okay, Sir, can you give me his license plate number?

Me: No . . . but he has a 'I heart shopping' bumper sticker and like a six-foot antenna with a black die on the top.

Operator: Heart shopping?

Me: Yeah, I know, it makes no sense.

Operator: Did you say the antenna was black on top?

Me: No, no, it has a black die on top. You know, a cube with spots on it. A . . . dice.

Operator: Oh, okay . . . Can you give me a description of the driver?

Me: No, I didn't look at him, you know being cool and everything . . . but just one moment, I think my daughter did, hold on [muffled voices]. Okay, he had tattoos [muffled voice] and a weird haircut, and sunglasses even though it's not sunny out [muffled voice] a mustache and [muffled voice] he looks like he's a punk rocker. I think it's safe for you to just put down 'bad news.' . . . [silence]

Me: Hello? Are you still there?

Operator: Okay, yes . . . just one moment please . . . sorry, my system is slow today.

Me: No problem.

Operator: Okay. Let me see . . . Is it a 1988 maroon Buick Regal?

Me: Yes, I believe it is.

Operator: Missing a front passenger hubcap?

Me: [excited] Yeah, yeah, that's it!

Operator: Sir, I feel I should just let you know that this man got his driver's license from a Cracker Jack box, hates his father, recently defeated The Oni Tormentor Dharmin in Mortal Kombat on his PlayStation 2, and has a really bad attitude.

Me: Wow, good to know. Thanks.

Operator: Anything else, Sir?

Me: No, so, um, did you put down I didn't like how he was driving?

Operator: Yes Sir. Anything else?

Me: No, I guess not. I guess that would be it. Thank you.

Operator: Okay, you're welcome. Sir? One more thing . . .

Me: Yes?

Operator: Fuck off. [click]

"When people are laughing, they're generally not killing each other." ~ Alan Alda


Friday, July 22, 2011

Cracking Up (Nick Lowe, 1979)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place in May of 2007.


“If God had to give a woman wrinkles, he might at least have put them on the soles of her feet.” ~ Ninon de Lencios, French Courtesan (1620 -1705)

It was late in the afternoon on a sunny spring day. Jessie, my 3-year-old daughter, and I played in a park next to where her big sister Lauren had soccer practice. Afterward, the three of us jumped in a loaner car and headed to the dealership where our car was ready for pickup.

About fifteen minutes into the half-hour drive, Jessie began crying. “Daddy, we need to go home! I’m cracking! I’m cracking!”


"What do you mean you're cracking?” I said.

“The mulch is making my feet crack,” cried Jessie. “The mulch! I’m cracking! We need to go home!”

The mulch Jessie referred to was the ground cover at the park. Driving and unable to investigate, I called on my second in command, my 8-year-old. “Lauren, see what she's crying about.”

With each passing second, Jessie became more distressed. “I’m cracking! I’m cracking! I'm cracking!” Tears flowed down her cheeks.

Lauren quickly examined Jessie’s foot. “Jessie, those lines are just wrinkles. We all have wrinkles.” She held up her own hands. "See?"

Jessie put her bawling on hold and quickly scanned Lauren's hands. A mere breath or two later, her teary eyes wide, she screamed, “You’re cracking too!”

The wailing continued. Jessie was officially unglued.

I assured her that the cracks on her hands and feet were normal, and that they were just lines called wrinkles. I stuck my right hand back between the seats and demanded she look at it. Still crying, Jessie inspected the lines on my hand, and then Lauren’s again, and back to her own hands and feet.

Jessie instantly stopped crying. She sniffled, smiled, and calmly said, “Oh."

Jessie was again glued, and we all cracked up laughing.

“Laugh a lot, and when you’re older, all your wrinkles will be in the right places” ~ Unknown

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Life of Illusion (Joe Walsh, 1981)

WARNING: This post contains a graphic image of dog crap. Viewer discretion is advised. (There, you've been warned.)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Thursday, June 18, 2009.


“Appearances often are deceiving.” ~ Aesop

As we know, looks can be deceiving. Examples of this old adage are many: Just look at Susan Boyle of Britain's Got Talent fame, or the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Eliot Spitzer? Tiger Woods? Who woulda thunk it? Biscuits and sausage gravy — disgustingly good. Also, mermaids, marigolds, and Bernie Madoff — an additional deceptive looking few.

One week ago today, my house could have been added to this list.

Having just completed a four mile run — surprisingly, without having a heart attack, or worse, urinating on myself — I emerged from a break in the tree line behind my house. It was a hot and humid night, one of the first of an unusually cold and rainy June. With perspiration and darkness upon me, exhausted, I staggered home.

Wiping sweat from my eyes, I was struck by the idyllic picture before me. My house looked like something right out of a Thomas Kinkade painting: bright, overused lighting, illuminated every window; the glow providing an almost dreamlike quality, a beacon of earthly comforts. I was reminded of how lucky I was and — dammit — how we really needed to do a better job of conserving energy.

The Foo Fighters kicked in on my iPod Nano with a cover of Joe Walsh's "A Life of Illusion" — I thought nothing of it at the time, although later it would prove ironic.

As I drew nearer to our patio, the picture of life inside the house came into better focus. I could see my mother-in-law through the kitchen window. She was over the sink, joyfully scrubbing what I could only assume was a dish. God bless her and her dishpan hands.

Through the sliding glass doors I could see my 7 and 3-year-old daughters sitting at the kitchen table, cheerfully eating what was likely a bowl of ice cream — probably vanilla with Hershey's chocolate syrup. God bless their sweet little hearts.

Lastly, I could see my beautiful wife through the family room windows, merrily walking toward the kitchen. My guess, to help her Mom, or join in the children’s ice cream festivities. I still can't believe she married me. Lord, give her strength.

I smiled, reflecting on the coziness of it all — and how easy it would be to sneak up to the kitchen window and scare the living hell out of my mother-in-law. I thought better of it, Thomas Kinkade would have nothing of it — and, scaring her to death was a distinct possibility.

I was captured by my home's apparent serenity and warmth. I imagined it's how John Walton felt coming home after a long day at the family lumber mill, or perhaps coming in from the outhouse, on a hot summer night on Walton's Mountain.

As I opened the sliding glass door, I slipped off my headphones. The Foo Fighters still audible, but distant, I stepped into the kitchen. I was greeted by cool air — and the bickering of my two youngest. Jessie and Lucy shared a kitchen chair and a leftover Portillo’s strawberry shake, and by the sound of it, were not doing a very good job of it.

With the picture of warmth and serenity already fading, I announced my entrance. “Hello!”

The girls focused only on their next spoonful were oblivious to my sweaty presence. They continued to box each other out, arguing over who’s turn was next.

Elizabeth and I arrived in the kitchen at about the same time. "You won't believe what just happened," she said.

Maude, my mother-in-law, was at the kitchen sink wiping a brown patent leather flat with a paper towel. "Yeah Kevin, you missed all the excitement!"

The girls interrupted their regularly scheduled argument to bring me the special announcement. "Buck pooped!" screamed Lucy.

Buck is our 16-year-old Peke-a-poo. This news in itself was nothing out of the ordinary.

"Dad, you should have seen it!" yelled Jessie.

"It was unbelievable," said Elizabeth. "Buck pooped in my shoe."

"Buck pooped in Mommy's shoe!" repeated Jessie.

"In your shoe?" I said.

Okay, that would explain both the smell and excitement.

Piling on the poopetrator (sorry, I couldn't help myself), my 13-year-old yelled from upstairs, "Buck also pee'd up here."

Damn, that’s gonna get in the padding.

"Yes, in my shoe,” said Elizabeth. “It was so gross."

Okay, I had heard of shit on a shingle, and witnessed first hand shit on a stick, but I ain't never seen shit in a shoe. This would definitely be a first for me, and for that matter, for Buck as well. He has crapped on carpet, rugs, hardwood floors, laundered clothes, the leather couch, a book, the front passenger seat of my car, and even once on Lauren's lap — but never in a shoe.

As the family canine excrement fixer, I inquired about the whereabouts of the poop as if it were a dead body. “So, where can I find it?”

“It was in the hallway, but I cleaned it up already,” said Elizabeth. “I took a picture for you.” Wow, what a woman the picture an unexpected bonus.

The timing of my run couldn't have been any better. A grainy picture of a rather large crap lying partially on top of Elizabeth's shoe, replaced the faded image that was my idyllic home. With this new picture burned into my mind and a smile on my face, I headed upstairs to shower and clean me some urine. Life was good.

For six days a lone brown patent leather flat sat on the dryer in the laundry room, stuffed with a generous number of “refreshing scented” fabric softener sheets. Next to it, a half-empty container of odor eliminating Febreze. Today, one would never suspect that this shoe was once shat upon.

Appearances are often deceiving. You just never know . . .

And it comes with no warning
Nature loves her little surprises
Continual crisis
~ Joe Walsh, A Life of Illusion


Sunday, June 26, 2011

World Leader Pretend (R.E.M., 1988)

"When the world slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry wall." ~ Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), Get Him to the Greek (2010)


I thought it was one of my better ideas: I would incorporate into my writing my love of music by naming my stories with the names of songs. Not just any songs, but songs from my personal collection; the title in someway having to do, however subtle, with the theme or message of the story.

To quote the late, great Irish brewmasters of Guinness, "Brilliant!"

I believed I was clever, I really did. That was until a Sunday morning in October of 2007. It was then that I learned I was nothing more than a great big copycat. An impersonator. A phony. A sham. A cheap imitation. I was margarine. I was The Stone Temple Pilots doing their best Pearl Jam.

And, I swear to God, I never even watched Grey's Anatomy. . .


I woke up that morning and went downstairs to join my wife, Elizabeth, and my almost two-year old, Lucy, in the family room. Their morning was already in mid-morning form: Lucy played on the floor while Elizabeth sat on the couch, sipping coffee, reading a magazine.

I plopped myself down on our brown leather loveseat as Elizabeth, sitting on the adjacent matching couch, began briefing me, voluntarily I might add, on Entertainment Weekly’s review of the new NBC series, Life. Although still half-asleep — I mean half-awake (the glass is half-full you know) — ready or not I learned the star of the show, Damian Lewis, is British.

Blimey! This caught my attention. We thought Lewis was great in the role of Major Winters, an American, in HBO's World War II miniseries, Band of Brothers. I never would have guessed he was a Brit — no bloody accent. Unless Elizabeth was full of codswallop, my admiration for Damien Lewis as an actor went up another notch.

I mulled over this bit of trivia and what was for breakfast when Elizabeth, still reading from Entertainment Weekly said, "Did you know that Grey's Anatomy names it's shows with song titles?"

What'chu talkin’ 'bout? I surely heard her wrong; naming things with song titles, that was my idea — my thing, if you will.

"What?" I said.

"It says here 'every show takes its name from a pop song.'"


Now wide awake — I jumped to my feet. "Let me see that," I said, grabbing the magazine. "Where does it say that?"

Elizabeth pointed to "GREY'S ANATOMY: SEASON 3," the number one DVD sold for the week. Sure enough, underneath it read:
"'Time After Time.' 'Don't Stand So Close to Me.' 'Wishin and Hopin.' If you thought the episode titles sounded familiar, it's because every show takes its name from a pop song."

"No way," I said, staggering backward before plopping back down on the loveseat.

Way. My idea of naming my stories with song titles was original but not unique — or was it unique but not original? It was not unique and certainly not original; already thought of years earlier by the creators of one of the most popular TV shows on the planet.

I was devastated.

Elizabeth quickly tried to make me feel better. "I think it's a compliment,” she said. “I don't think anyone knows that [Grey's Anatomy names each episode after a song]."

Before I could feel any better about it, she added, "Well, now they do . . . whoever reads Entertainment Weekly."

Let’s see . . . that would be about 2 million readers. I felt worse.


This was not flattery, nor theft, just a bad coincidence. I sat speechless, thinking: 1.) what a bloody crummy way to start the morning, 2.) my eighth grade mechanical drawing teacher was still correct when he said "Rudge, you have never had an original idea in your life," 3.) my brain really hasn't been the same since I was hit by a police car when I was 16-years-old, and 4.) I’m hungry — I wonder if we have any Apple Jacks cereal left?

I got up and went to the pantry. Fortunately, we did have Apple Jacks. To cope with my stroke of bad luck, I found refuge in a large overflowing bowl of the "crunchy, sweetened multi-grain cereal with apple and cinnamon." In my head, the 1980's TV commercial jingle amused and comforted me:

'A' is for apple 'J' is for jacks,
Cinnamon toasted Apple Jacks.
You need a good breakfast, that's a fact.
Start it off with Apple Jacks.
Ap-ple Jacks, Ap-ple Jacks.
Ap-ple Jacks, Ap-ple Jacks.
Ap-ple Jacks, Ap-ple Jacks

With each spoonful, I felt a little better. By the time I polished off my second bowl, I had had an epiphany . . .

Apple Jacks don't even taste like apples! I can understand if they were called Cinnamon Jacks, but come on, Apple? But that’s okay, because this made Apple Jacks kind of like me and my story titles — an imitation, and not even a very good one. And you know, I still like 'em a lot.

I also like Funyuns, Frito-Lay's imitation onion rings. And I still can't believe "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" is not butter, also an imitation — but I can't believe it. I also like song covers, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers remake of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground. I guess the Red Hot Chili Peppers are like me — copycats. I've never been, but I'm sure Paris, IL, and London, TX, are nice enough places. Stephen Spielberg's remake of The War of the Worlds was just fine by my standards. And who knew Damian Lewis doesn’t celebrate the 4th of July? Not me.

I quickly came to the conclusion that it didn't matter if I was a cheap imitation, a cover, a remake, a phony accent, or Moscow, ID. Because you know what? I'm good enough. I'm smart enough, and doggone it, I like my song titles.

How's that for an affirmation? I thought of it first you know . . .


"I'm good enough. I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." - Stuart Smalley (Al Franken), Saturday Night Live

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Very Last Time (Utopia, 1980)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place in August and September of 2007.

“I’m late for . . . uhhh . . . my Green Eggs and Ham discussion group. Tonight is why he would not eat them on a train.” ~ Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Friends

I saw the book sitting on my 6-year-old’s bed and thought, "Damn, not that book again!"

Her pajamas on and teeth brushed, it was time for the allotted two bedtime stories. Jessie chose Angelina's Birthday Surprise, and the 1960 Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham. I had no dispute with Angelina's Birthday Surprise, it was Green Eggs and Ham that was alone on my Index Librorum Prohibitorum — index of prohibited books.

Yes, I banned it about a month earlier.

I had a problem with the fourth-bestselling children's book of all-time. Actually, Jessie and I had a problem with the fourth-bestselling children's book of all-time. More specifically, Jessie and I had a disagreement over the name of one of the two characters, in the fourth-bestselling children's book of all time.

The disagreement culminated in the gnashing of patience, shedding of tears, and the aforementioned ban. It all could have been avoided — if only Dr. Seuss would have clearly named his characters.

My daughter and I are in agreement on the name of the first character: he is Sam, the energetic salesman of the green eggs and ham. Sam makes his name known by holding a sign which reads "I am Sam," and again a couple of pages later, "Sam I am." No problem there.

Our squabble is with the name, or lack there of, of the second character. You know, the taller grumpy creature who won't try green eggs and ham. Jessie insists his name is also "Sam," while I argue this character is unnamed.

This difference in opinion surfaced upon the completion of me reading aloud page 17:

I would not like them here or there.
I would not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

It was at this point Jessie innocently commented, "His name is Sam too." She was referring to the finicky creature — the unnamed.

Always the defender of truth, justice and my way, I just couldn’t let this go uncorrected. "I don't think so Honey,” I said. “He's referring to Sam as 'Sam-I-am' because that’s how Sam referred to himself." Say what?

I flipped back to page five to prove my point. I showed Jessie a picture of Sam standing on the back of a furry tiger looking animal, holding a sign that read "Sam I am."

"No Dad, his name is Sam," she said, referring to the unnamed one. "He says 'Sam-I-am.’"

I understood how she came to this incorrect conclusion, but couldn't help myself. "Yeah, I know he said 'Sam-I-am,’ but 'Sam-I-am' is what he's calling Sam, not his own name." Come again?

Frustrated, Jessie persisted. "No Dad, he's saying that's his name, 'Sam,' 'Sam-I-am.’ "

In no mood, I moved forward. "Okay, okay. Let's keep reading."

I read two more pages before "Sam-I-don't-know-who-the-hell-I-am" again reared his ugly unnamed head.

I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

"See! His name is Sam," said Jessie.

"Honey, he's calling Sam, 'Sam-I-am.’ He's not referring to himself as Sam. His name is not 'Sam-I-am.’"

"Yes he is," said Jessie, beginning to snivel. "He said 'Sam-I-am!'"

"Jessie, I understand how you think that, but I can tell you his name is not Sam."

"Yes it is!" cried Jessie.

As Jessie lay in tears next to me, I could only think about how ridiculous a situation I found myself: one minute I'm happily reading my daughter Green Eggs and Ham, the fourth-bestselling children's book of all time, the next minute she’s crying over the name of a freakin' character — who I might add, in case you've forgotten, doesn't even have a name, because Dr. Seuss, who's not even a real doctor, didn't bother to give him one. Thank you very little.

I was not seeing the humor in this life moment. I had enough: my pupils turned red, my eyeballs yellowed, my fingers lengthened, and green hair covered my body. I transformed into the Grinch, soon to be starring in: "How the Grinch Banned the Fourth-Bestselling Children's Book of All Time."

"That's it," I said.

Closing the book, I placed it on Jessie's night stand. This story was over — I was taking my green eggs and ham and going home.

Jessie was taken aback by my actions. Her crying quickly downgraded to a snivel, she said, "What Dad?"

"That's it . . ." I repeated, grasping for an adult-like response to my childish behavior. It was not forthcoming.

"If we can't read Green Eggs and Ham without you crying . . . [then gosh darn it] we're not going to read it at all," I decreed.

"Never?" she whimpered.

There was no turning back. "Uh huh,” I said. “That's right . . . never."

Holy crap, I had just banned Green Eggs and Ham forever and ever and ever.

"Can we still read the other book?" she asked meekly.

As difficult as it was, I finally acted my age and not my shoe size. "Sure," I said. Jessie was visibly relieved.

We snuggled again as I read her Little Tiger's Big Surprise!. When finished, I tucked her under her covers and gave her a kiss goodnight. That night before going to sleep I prayed that I would never have to look at that damn Dr. Seuss book again.

The Green Eggs and Ham incident was not discussed. I had forgotten about that fateful night until I saw the oversized, orange bound, "Collector's Edition" book, sitting on Jessie's bed. That's when I cursed to myself.

Jessie picked up the forbidden — and frankly, somewhat annoying — book and handed it to me for her bedtime reading.

Had she forgotten? Was I not clear, or simply unclear? Perhaps this was her way of putting this ugly chapter in "How the Grinch Banned the Fourth-Bestselling Children's Book of All Time" behind us. Oh, what the hell — as a parent, I can run from maturity, but I can't hide from it.

Laying side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder in her twin sized bed, I began reading.

"I-am-Sam . . ."

"Sam-I-am" was spoken several times without incident. I was under the impression she had forgotten about our disagreement — until page 34. That's when it happened:

I would not, could not, in a box.
I could not, would not, with a fox.
I will not eat them with a mouse.
I will not eat them in a house.
I will not eat them here or there.
I will not eat them anywhere.
I do not eat green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

Jessie pointed to the tall unnamed one with the black top hat and said straight-faced, "His name is Sam."

I looked at her in disbelief. Please God, not this again?

Jessie turned to me and with a sly smile said, "Is it 'Band on the Run,' or 'Man on the Run'?"

She was referring to the title of the 1974 Paul McCartney & Wings hit — another source of disagreement between us. She was pulling on my proverbial ham and eggs.

"It's 'Band on the Run'!" I said.

Jessie now had a big smile on her face. "Nooo it's not, it's 'Man on the Run!' "

I tickled Jessie mercilessly before finishing Green Eggs and Ham . . . and the fourth-bestselling children's book of all time was officially, at least for the time being, removed from my Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

Thank you Sam and whatever your name is . . . or isn't.

"And the first one said to the second one there I hope you're having fun.” ~ Paul McCartney & Wings, “Band on the Run”

Saturday, June 11, 2011

PoopMyKidsSaid: "Dad, is one of God's commandments don't pollute the air?"

November 27, 20o7

(Poignant question, or does my 9-year-old want to be an oil and gas lobbyist?)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

You know it's true what they say . . .

A cookie in hand is worth two in the pantry — unless, of course, you're holding a molasses cookie, then you might just want to risk it.

I Say A Little Prayer (Dionne Warwick, 1967)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Friday, May 22, 2009.

“The Creator, if He exists, has a special preference for beetles.”~ J.B.S. Haldane, British-born geneticist and evolutionary biologist

Beetles can be found in almost any habitat, however, my experience is they are most often found clinging to screen windows and doors — or dead underneath.

The latter is how my wife, Elizabeth, likes her insects — dead underneath, and deader on top. It doesn't matter — dead, medium dead or well dead — just dead. At least, those insects that have the misfortune of entering our house. Her compassion extends only beyond our front door for these multi-legged, antennaed, bug-eyed creatures.

(Note: This goes for spiders as well — unless the spider's name is Charlotte and she has a pig-friend named Wilbur. Otherwise, in our house, the best spider is a lifeless curled-up spider.)

So you can imagine Elizabeth’s joy when she and our three-year-old discovered a beetle by the sliding screen door in our kitchen.

As family exterminator, coroner, pathologist and mortician for all foreign bodies in our home or yard, I listened with interest from another room as mother and daughter first sighted the intruder.

"Thpider!" yelled an excited Lucy.

"Eewww, don’t touch it," said Elizabeth. “Kevin! Can you come . . . Lucy, I said, 'don't touch it'! Kevin, can you come here? There’s a huge bug by the screen door."

"Daddy, Thpider! Hurry!" added Lucy.

(In Lucy’s eyes, any surface-dwelling “bug” is a spider. If airborne, it’s usually identified as a bee, although a “skeeto" is also a possibility.)

Within seconds I was in the kitchen looking at a rotund clay colored beetle, resting motionless on its back. (Okay, calling the beetle “rotund” was a little mean. I’m sorry, let’s just say it was “big boned,” or, excuse me, I think the correct term would be "big exoskeletoned.” Beetles don’t have bones.) With Lucy at my side, I examined our visitor more closely, instantly determining that unless it was a heavy sleeper, passed out, or a good faker-outer, this Beetle Bailey was dead.

Upon learning the beetle was likely deceased, Elizabeth was relieved but grossed out just the same. For Lucy, this only added to her excitement: not only did we have in captivity a wild beetle, but it was dead too.

I felt bad for the poor lifeless little guy. I wondered, did he flip on his back and die (the tragic "I've fallen and I can't get up" death), or did he die and — like in cartoons — then flip on his back (with "x" eyes and a tiny tongue hanging out)? Either way, the time on earth of one of God's small creatures was over, and it momentarily saddened me.

I unceremoniously picked up the beetle carcass, opened the sliding screen door, and flipped it into the bushes. Closing the door, I said to Lucy, tongue-partially-in-cheek, "Say a prayer for the beetle."

As I walked toward the kitchen sink to wash my hands, I heard Lucy praying:

"Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen.
Blesses, O Lord, and these my gifts,
which we’re ‘bout to receive,
from my bounty
through Christ our Lord.
Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen."

Elizabeth and I looked at each other and smiled; Lucy had recited her rendition of our family’s dinner prayer. With a chuckle and a wash of the hands, I was over our world’s loss.

More importantly, our house was again bug free. Amen.

"Little bug morticians arrive and turn them over, and if you look veeerrry closely you can see little tiny Lillie's on their chests." ~ "Droopy Dog," @ Yahoo! Answers. Answer given to the question, “Why do bugs end up on their backs when they die?”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My 5-year-old and I entered the house to the beeping sound of our security system. This is the sound the controller makes to tell me the alarm system is armed and ready for action.

As I typed the security code on the control pad to turn off the system, Lucy said, "That's our alarm?"

"Yes," I said, believing she was referring to the system control panel.

"Dad, no one could really hear that," she said.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

It Is What It Is (Minibar, 2003)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

"There are questions that should be answered with a question." ~ Buddha

My 5-year-old handed me the wireless handheld controller for my Sonos Digital Music System.

In a tone that I can only describe as accusatory, Lucy said, "Dad, what's this supposed to be?"

Prominently displayed on the 3.5" rectangular color screen was the cover of Robert Palmer's 1975 album, Pressure Drop. More specifically, an image of a sharply dressed Robert Palmer, coolly looking downward holding what I believe to be a remote control. He is in a bedroom with a TV and balcony behind him.

Oh, did I mention there is a butt naked redhead on the balcony? Well, there is a butt naked redhead on the balcony. She faces away from the camera, wearing only high heels, providing a fine view as she looks over what I suspect to be a fine view.

In today's world of digital downloads and mini-sized album covers, although I had glanced at the cover before, until that moment I honestly had never noticed the naked woman on the balcony. This is what obviously grabbed Lucy's attention — and momentarily held mine.

Besides the obvious, I had no good answer to her question, so I bounced it right back at her. "What do you think it's supposed to be?"

"A lady's butt,” she said with great conviction.

"You are correct," I said. "That’s a lady's butt."

This exchange apparently satisfied Lucy. We both took a moment to admire the album cover before I handed the controller back to Lucy and she ran out of the room.

Sometimes, it simply is what it is.

"First rule of Lady's Butt Club is — you do not talk about Lady's Butt Club." ~ Me (What I would advise someone who is thinking about forming a Lady's Butt Club)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I was making lunch in the kitchen while Lucy sat in the family room watching Dora the Explorer, when she turned to me and said, "Dad, do you know why I like Dora and Diego?"

"No, why?" I said.

"There is no violence," she said.

I chuckled. "So, what shows have you watched with violence?"

Lucy thought about it for a moment and said, "I saw Scooby-Doo once."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Star Wars (Ryan Adams, 2011)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Sunday, April 17, 2011.

“When the eagles are silent the parrots begin to jabber.” ~ Winston Churchill

There are times when the old adage, “It is better to be seen and not heard,” can be applied not only to children, but parents as well. Especially if a child has an older sibling around for guidance . . .

We were less than a minute away from that good ol’ American pseudo-Chinese fast food joint, Panda Express, and the car was unusually quiet. The family had just checked church off our Sunday list of “to dos,” and while Elizabeth and my mother-in-law split to go shopping, I was (Han) solo with my three daughters and their undeniable hankering for Orange Chicken.

Lauren, my 15-year-old, sat in the front passenger seat leafing through the latest Rolling Stone, while Jessie, my 9-year-old sat behind me quietly reading Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and my 5-year-old , Lucy, sat opposite Jessie in her booster seat, apparently pondering the name of the character she once referred to as "that big, mean, dark-sided, helmet wearing, Star Wars guy."

“Dad, is it ‘Dark Vader’?. . .”

In the split second that Lucy paused to gather herself for part two of what surely would be a multiple-choice question, I already filled in the rectangle box next to the letter “b.) Darth Vader.” Yes, Honey, the correct name is . . .

Lucy continued. “Or is it ‘Dark Fader’?”

Whoa. Dark Fader? I didn’t see that coming. Anyone have an eraser? The correct answer, “c.) None of the above.”

I chuckled, both surprised and amused by the question and not one, but two false choices. Before I could gently correct Lucy, Jessie turned to her and said, “It’s ‘Dark Vader!’”

Wow. Okay. Really, didn’t see that one coming. I mean, Jessie has a “Darth Tater - Spud Wars” tee-shirt she got while visiting her grandparents in Idaho. I thought for sure she knew it was “Darth.”

I was again surprised and amused. But once again, before I could weigh in on the matter, my eldest daughter stepped to the plate. “It’s ‘DARTH Vader!’” Lauren shouted. “Jessie, how can you not know that? You’re reading Star Wars!”

Okay. She could have been nicer about it, but at least she didn’t call them nincompoops — which I would have probably done.

“Well, it’s The Clone Wars!” Jessie shouted back.

"So?" said Lauren.

“'Dart' . . . or whatever his name is . . . is not in Clone Wars!”

After a moment of silence, everyone laughed — except Lucy.

With the laughter dying down, we pulled into a parking spot at the doors of Panda Express. Lucy turned to Jessie, and in a voice usually reserved for older sisters, said, “Jessie, it’s not 'Dart Vader,' it's ‘Garth Vader.’”

There was a collective groan.

Sometimes an older sister’s well intended guidance is misguided — or in the case of my eldest, wise, but just a little belittling. You know, on second thought, when parenting maybe it is better to be seen and heard — but boy, sometimes it can be a lot more fun not to be.

“Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.” ~ Yoda

Monday, May 23, 2011

I said to my 5-year-old, "What does this sound like?"

I proceeded to make what I thought sounded like a plastic bottle being poured.

She looked at me and said, "Your mouth."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sooner or Later (Pilot, 1974)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Saturday, July 18, 2009.

"Forbidden fruit causes many jams."
~ Unknown

I now have my own child Internet horror story.

My 7-year-old innocently discovered it early on a Saturday morning, when she sat down at my computer. "Dad, is it alright if I close this?"

"What is it?" I said, entering the den while scrambling to remember with what Internet sites I last cavorted.

"I don't know," she said.

I looked at the screen and was horrified by what I saw. My first instinct was to dive over Jessie's chair and pull the power cord from the computer. But I quickly realized that my reaction could be more damaging than what was on the screen.

As quickly and calmly as possible, I reached around Jessie and closed the application."Gosh," I said, "I don't know how that got up there."

I wasn't telling the truth. I did know. Fortunately, Jessie didn't appear to know what exactly she was looking at. Unfortunately, it was obvious that this screen could have been left by one person, and one person only: my 13-year-old daughter.

How else could a search page for rapper Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, end up in my iTunes window?

To say I was a little surprised to see Soulja Boy would be an understatement. I didn't think I was going to have to deal with the inner-city allure of rap music until Lauren was at least in her suburban high school. Elizabeth and I raised her on a heavy diet of rock, mixed with large doses of show tunes, and a sprinkling of classical. Although I don't like most rap and hip hop, I talked to Lauren about this music genre. If for no other reason I felt this discussion was important for her to develop healthy attitudes towards music. My hope being that as she matured she would make responsible musical choices — or more precisely, choices that aligned identically with mine.

I shooed Jessie into the family room to watch cartoons, and with one eye on the door I re-opened iTunes to the Soulja Boy page. Holding my breath, I looked in my "purchased" playlist to see if Lauren downloaded any Soulja Boy songs — thankfully she had not. This was good, I clung to the possibility that she wasn't yet rap and hip hop active.

It was clear that Lauren and I needed to have another talk.

As I waited for Lauren to come downstairs for breakfast, I joined Jessie on the floor in the family room. It was time she and I had our first little rap talk.

Take my advice, never avoid a teachable music moment. Scowl and offer antagonistic opinions whenever your child is anywhere near a synthetic beat of rap music. And likely, Soulja Boy Tell 'Em will be playing in your nearest iPod, a lot sooner than you think.

"I hate rap music, which to me sounds like a bunch of angry men shouting, possibly because the person who was supposed to provide them with a melody never showed up." ~ Dave Barry, American author and columnist

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Teach Your Children (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1970)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on May 2 and May 3, 2011.

“Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook

They say good communication between a parent and child is the most important step in protecting against child abuse.

Frankly, it was not a discussion I anticipated having with my 5-year-old daughter until she was a little older — but sometimes circumstances dictate we as parents modify our plan — or in my case, modify the rough idea for an outline of a plan.

Tucked under her covers and ready for sleep, Lucy shared with me that someone in her preschool class “tooted,” and a few of the kids blamed her friend Hannah. Reportedly, Hannah said she didn’t do it and was upset afterwards.

What my little one didn’t realize is that she just described a classic case of flatulence-bullying; a form of psychological abuse that has been around at least as far back as my early childhood, pervasive among elementary and middle school students, and gaseous older siblings.

“I hope that doesn’t happen to me,” said Lucy, in a manner that is usually reserved for cancer, or Steve Bartman, or for someone who received an atomic wedgie in gym class.

The kid was worried. There was no doubt intestinal gas was, at a minimum, weighing heavily on her mind. I quickly decided this was as good a time as any to provide her with a couple successful strategies to help defend against accusations of flatulence — false or otherwise.

I knew Elizabeth wouldn’t approve of the topic — Lucy being so young and uncorrupted — Elizabeth so middle-aged and proper — but she wasn’t home, so I went my own middle-aged and objectionable way.

I sat aside Lucy on her bed and held her hand. Looking directly into her eyes I said, “So, do you know what to say if this ever happens to you?”

“No,” she said, “what?”

“You say, ‘Whoever smelt it, dealt it.’”

Lucy perked up a little. “What? Whoever smelt it, dealt it? What does ‘dealt’ mean?”

“Dealt means . . . did. Whoever smelt it, did it. Did the deed. Tooted. But it’s a rhyme, so you say ‘Whoever smelt it, dealt it.’”

You could see the light starting to flicker in Lucy’s brain. A hint of a smile came to her lips. “Whoever smelt it, dealt it,” she repeated, as if it was as beautiful a verse ever written by Byron or Dickinson.

I made her repeat this no ifs, ands, or smelly butts rule of fart detection three more times before moving to the next key phrase in the fight against flatulence-bullying.

“Whoever denied it, supplied it,” I said.

“Whoever denied it, supplied it,” she said, now smiling ear to ear. Unprompted she repeated it perfectly three to four more times.

Lucy sat up in bed as I ran through a few scenarios where these rules are applicable, before ending our lesson with a role play. I kicked it off — “Hey, someone tooted and I think it was Lucy,” I said, doing my best, but pathetic impression of an obnoxious 5-year-old boy (think Eric Cartman from South Park).

“Did you smell it?” she said.

“Yes.” I said, playing my part.

“Whoever smelt it, dealt it,” she shot back.

“No I didn’t,” I said, setting her up for the clincher.

“Whoever denied it, supplied it,” she said, now brimming with a new found confidence.

Nailed it! The kid was ready. I tucked her back under her covers and completed our good night rituals; leaving her nestled all snuggled in bed, while, surely, visions of diced cheese danced in her head. I went to sleep that evening feeling good about our discussion. I didn’t think about it again until the next evening, at dinner . . .

It was a Tuesday night and the family plus one — my mother-in-law — were nearly finished with dinner. I was not prepared for what happened next.

Without any sensory provocation, at least from where I sat, Jessie, my 9-year-old said, “Did someone toot?”

Seated directly to Jessie’s right was Lucy. Before I even realized the potential danger I was in, Lucy scrambled to her knees and swung her entire body to face her unassuming sister. “Wait!” Lucy yelled. “Did you smell it?”

“What?” said a confused Jessie.

“Did you smell it?” Lucy demanded.

Visibly taken aback by the force of Lucy's conviction, Jessie inched away from her little sister’s attack. “Well, yes,” she said.

The fart detection trap had been triggered, and Lucy pounced on her prey.

“Then you did it!” she yelled, pointing at Jessie, her nose picking finger inches away from Jessie’s face.

With our eyes glued on Lucy and Jessie, Elizabeth, Lauren, my mother-in-law Maudie, and I sat wide-eyed, digesting what just transpired.

In the second it took me to register she had administered a derivation of the “whoever smelt it dealt” ruling, Lucy turned her head to look at me, and said, “Right, Dad?”

She was so proud. I was so busted.

With all eyes on me, and the temperature in the room skyrocketing, the question begged to be asked: who teaches their 5-year-old that?

My first inclination was to deny it. But we all know: whoever denied it, supplied it.

And that definitely would be me.

"You can't raise a child in a vacuum. All that carpet dust will clog up the kid's lungs." ~ Jacob AppeI, American playwright and author

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I was getting Lucy dressed for a day that included a trip to Chicago's United Center for "Disney On Ice."

Spotting the underwear I was about to put on her, she said, "I don't like those!"

"What do you mean you don't like those?" I said. "They're Disney Princess underwear."

If there was a day to wear Disney Princess underwear I thought this would be the day.

"I don't like Sleeping Beauty," she said.

"But she's a Disney Princess. Why don't you like Sleeping Beauty?"

"She has bangs. I don't like bangs."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, May 6, 2011

Still The Same (Bob Seger - 1978)

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Tuesday, May 12, 2009.

"The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her.” ~ Marcelene Cox, a woman

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we sometimes find our heart’s desire in our own backyard — or like my wife Elizabeth, there, not even an arms length away, sitting right before our very eyes . . .

Having a bit of time before having to pick Lauren up from dance class, Elizabeth stopped in a local shop. She soon found herself at the sunglass display rack with not one, but two twenty-something sales girls attending to her every shopping need.

As she tried on sunglasses, Elizabeth received varying levels of approval from Sales Girl #1 and #2 — amazingly mirroring her every comment and facial expression.

"Those look so good,” said Sales Girl #1, referring to a pair of black oversized designer sunglasses Elizabeth had on. “I saw Angelina Jolie with a pair just like them."

Elizabeth studied the glasses in the mirror. "Don't you think they are too wide for my face?"

"Yeah, maybe, like a little too big for your face," said Sales Girl #1, nodding her head.

Elizabeth tried on a pair of light beige framed and brown lensed glasses. "What about these?"

"Ooooh, I like those a lot," said Sales Girl #2.

"I don't like the the color," Elizabeth said.

"I was going to say, except for the color,” said Sales Girl #2. “Yes, definitely do not like the color."

This went on as Elizabeth tried on pair after pair. Discarded and prospective sunglasses littered the glass countertop. She had gone through a dozen or so before picking-up a two-toned brown lensed pair made by Izod. Elizabeth looked in the mirror and said, "Wow, I like the black and brown two-tone."

"Oh, those are cool! Yeah, two-tone. They look fantastic on you!" said Sales Girl #2.

"Do you think?" said Elizabeth.

"Love them!" said Sales Girl #1. "Oh yeah, like they are so you."

Elizabeth lingered at the mirror a few seconds longer before agreeing, they did look good. She took them off to look at the price, but there was no tag. Upon further inspection she noticed a small scratch on the frame.

She wasn't concerned, all the sunglasses on the rack were priced generally the same and the scratch was not large enough to be a show-stopper. Elizabeth showed the scratch to the sales girls and being half-Italian, asked if they could take a percentage off the listed price because of it.

Sales Girl #2 was game, "Yeah maybe. Let me ask my manager."

She paged her manager overhead and as quick as you can say "Discount Designer Sunglasses, Great Choices for Under $100," the boss woman was at the display rack.

With the backing of Sales Girl #1 and #2, Elizabeth again asked for an additional discount. After studying the glasses the Manager announced, "These are not our glasses. We don't sell Izod. Someone must have switched them."

Sales Girl #2 gasped.

Sales Girl #1 stood motionless, her mouth open. "We've been like so scammed," she whispered.

Elizabeth was also surprised. Surprised she had been brushed by an apparent crime — but also that the Manager said they didn’t carry Izod. "You do sell Izod,” she said. “I bought a pair here before."

"If we did, we have not sold them for a long time," said the Manager.

While the Sales Manager lectured Sales Girl #1 and #2 about keeping a closer eye on the store merchandise — reminding them that they were not to remove the tags on the glasses when customers are trying them on — a horrific thought entered Elizabeth's mind.

She rummaged through her bag in search of something. It was not there. She looked again, double checking all pockets. It definitely was not there — her worst fear materialized.

"Oh, you know what?” said Elizabeth, interrupting the Manager. “Those are my sunglasses."

"Excuse me?" said the Manager.

Smiling, Elizabeth said, "The Izod sunglasses. They’re mine. I bought them here awhile back."

"They're like yours?" said Sales Girl #1.

"Yes," said Elizabeth, now laughing. "They are mine."

"Oh my God," whispered Sales Girl #2.

Elizabeth had just tried to purchase her own sunglasses. She wore them into the store on her head and must have placed them on the counter, mixing them with the store owned sunglasses.

Elizabeth failed to recognize her own glasses; the sales girls and manager failed to recognize the humor in it all.

It was time to go get Lauren. Elizabeth left the store wearing her two-tone, brown lensed, Izod shades — her heart’s desire —all along right there before her very eyes — and she didn’t have to pay a penny for it.

"Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was . . ." ~ Talking Heads, "Once In A Lifetime"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

PoopMyKidsSaid: "Do you know when you smell someone else's feet it smells horrible, but when you smell your own, it's not that bad."

June 10, 2010

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do You Really Wanna Know (Papercuts - 2011)

WARNING: This story contains a couple bad words and one really bad word. Proceed only if you promise 1.) not to be offended, and 2.) not to tell on me.

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Sunday, April 17, and Tuesday, April 19, 2011.

"You fucking son-of-a-bitch." ~ George W. Bush, yelled at a Wall Street Journal political writer in 1986

A simple rule of thumb regarding children and swearing: if you don’t want your kids to curse, don’t ask them to.

I speak from experience.

Last week, I walked in from the garage to the shrill voices of my two youngest natives; they were restless in a hopped up on Skittles kind of way. In the few seconds it took to slip off my shoes and enter the kitchen, I gathered from their conversation with my wife Elizabeth that their excitement had something to do with Ira — my nemesis and our 5-year-old neighbor.

Lucy, my 5-year-old was the first to acknowledge my presence.


“Hey! What’s all the excitement about?” I said.

Jessie, my 9-year-old daughter, ran toward me yelling, “Ira swore! Ira swore!”

Ira swore? Yawn. Unfortunately, this in itself was nothing out of the ordinary; it wasn't the first, nor would it be the last time this cute, curly haired, year-round Croc wearing, sailor mouthed, little boy swore.

“Oh, really? Where?” I said, hoping the crime took place across property lines — giving me at least some jurisdiction in the matter.

“In our backyard!” Jessie said with a hint of glee in her voice.

Excellent. Okay, then. So, what was it? The “a” word, “s” word, “b” word? Or maybe even the queen-mother of obscenities, the “f” word; a possibility and not unprecedented.

“What did he say?”

Jessie took a deep breath and began to answer aloud, “You . . .”

Not wanting to further pique my 5-year-old’s fascination with the forbidden alphabet words, I stopped Jessie. “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whisper it to me.”

Jessie came closer as I bent down to allow for this very sensitive exchange. Jessie’s lips were lightly touching my ear as she whispered, “He said, ‘You. Fuck-ing. Son-of-a-bitch.’ ”

Oh Nelly! I wasn’t prepared to hear the actual words coming from Jessie’s mouth. Where was the alphabet filter? What happened to saying the “‘f’ word” and the “‘b’ word”? Or, the more sophisticated and learned “f-dash-dash-dash” and “b-dash-dash-dash-dash” words. Hell, a simple rhyme would have been perfectly acceptable.

“Jessie, don’t say the actual words!” I said, lightly scolding her.

“I didn’t! Ira did.”

“I know, but you repeated them.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yeah, you did. You just said exactly what Ira said.”

“But, you asked me to.”

Bucking son-of-a-stitch. The kid had a point.

“Okay, I know. But, I expected you would have said, you know, the ‘f’ word,’ or ‘b’ word, or something, without actually saying the ‘f’ word and ‘b’ word.”

“Ohhhhhh, okay,” she said smiling. I believe realizing she had just gotten away with the kid equivalent to murder.

You would think I would have learned my lesson. Fast forward approximately 48-hours . . .

Having a twenty-minute respite from having to taxi Lauren to-and-from dance, I sat at the kitchen table eating leftover Chinese. In the family room and out of sight, but not sound, or mind, Lucy and Jessie watched the reality dance show, “Dancing with the Stars.”

Although personally not a fan, sadly, it is one of the few family oriented shows on primetime television. So I thought, that is until I heard a female voice — Chelsea to be exact — from the show say, too loudly and clearly, “I have to go work my ASS off.”

Whoa! Holy @#%$&! Batman!

I addressed the situation swiftly and succinctly.

What?” I said.

Now, I clearly meant this “what” as a rhetorical you-know-what-I’m-talking-about-so-we-don’t-need-to-spell-it-out what. Unfortunately, the nuance of the rhetorical question was lost upon my five-year-old. She felt obliged to spell it out for me.


Damn. Okay. Yeah, I knew that. Really.

I chuckled to myself and thanked Lucy for the clarification. I then gathered myself and in my best stern dad voice said, “You know that’s a bad word, right?”

“What’s a bad word?” she said.

“You know, the ‘a’ word.”


Dammit, she said it again.

“Yes, and don’t say that word.”

“Okay,” Lucy said. “But you know she said ‘ass,’ not me.”

Oh boy, there’s that hairy word again.

“I know, but you just said it.” I said.

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.”

“No. I didn’t . . .”

“Okay, I know, I know, I know. Just don’t say the word she said again. It’s not an appropriate word. Got it?”

“I know Dad.”

“Good. Thank you.”

Cheese and Rice. (Jesus Christ)

Lesson learned.

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — [pauses] — shame on you. Fool me — [pauses] — you can't get fooled again." ~ President George W. Bush