Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#140 In which our hero discusses his muse.

This is the Minstrel:

He may appear to be carved from the finest of hardwoods, but oh no! No, sir, this amazing relic is 100% plastic resin.

This objet d’art used to hang above the couch in the family room when I was growing up. I must mention that the family room was covered in wood paneling, creating a combination that only now as an adult do I appreciate for its full awesomeness.

I have fond memories of playing with this thing as a kid. It was my own Mt. Rushmore for legions of G.I. Joes, Star Wars guys and various and sundry action figures who were forever climbing it’s treacherous and wind-swept surface to recover rare gems or finally put the tyranny of Dark Vader to an end. It’s amazing that I never tore this thing off the wall. Then again, if I had, it’s not like it would have broken.

Finally my parents, in a fit of good taste, took him down and banished him to the basement. Where he spent many long and lonely years.

Until I rediscovered him. I had finished college and was moving into an apartment with my girlfriend, and was home picking through the basement for stuff for my new place. I asked mom if I could have the Minstrel (who, oddly enough, calls him “The Troubadour”), and she reluctantly parted with him. And when I say “reluctantly,” I mean, “she couldn’t get him out of the house quickly enough.”

The Minstrel found a home on my wall for several years. To say that my then-girlfriend’s interior decorating talents were… lacking … is putting it mildly. I still remember a particularly horrible Brothers Hildebrant print featuring a unicorn and a waterfall. But look, I put up the freaking Minstrel, so I’m not saying my taste was any better.

When I moved in with The Scientist she made it pretty clear that the Minstrel was not to grace any wall in her house. Being that the mortgage lacked my name, I didn’t really have room to argue. But, it became a moot point when I took this plastic prize into work and hung him proudly in my office.

People have a strange reaction to the Minstrel. Most are cautious at first, not being sure if I think he is a work or art or a kitschy throw-back. Then they want to know why I hung it on my wall. “He is my muse,” I answer.

Sadly, I lost that job and didn’t have an office for years. I considered bringing him into my office at the junk mail place… but I just couldn’t. Not only because my douche-bag boss would never appreciate the humor, but because, in my mind, bringing in the Minstrel is making a commitment. I like it here, is what I’m saying.

So finally, after languishing in the basement (during the move to the new house, one of my friends hung up the Minstrel in the living room. When The Scientist finally saw him, she said in a slightly alarmed voice, “Um, is that were you’re hanging that?” He was again banished to the basement thereafter) for far too long, the Minstrel is again in his proper place: hanging on the wall behind my office chair, where he looks down at me with his soulful eyes, as if to say, get back to work, slacker!


#139 In which our hero contemplates a roadtrip.

This weekend is the Fourth of July weekend. The Scientist and I tend to homebodies -- and not just because of the girls, we where really fairly slug-like before we had children -- but this weekend is different. We have big travel plans!

My in-laws live on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Every couple of years they have a big summer party slash family reunion. It’s all The Scientist’s family, of course, so while it’s nice to meet people I’ve heard discussed over the diner table, it’s not the big draw for me. The big draw for me is the hard crabs.

Growing up in Ohio, my exposure to good, fresh seafood was limited. My idea of an excellent seafood dinner was “Super Summer Shrimp Days” at Red Lobster. But, once I started dating The Scientist I was treated to real seafood during our visits to see her parents… and I mean fresh, like, this crab was crawling along the seabed four hours ago fresh. Good stuff.

Now, as you can imagine, I didn’t know shit about eating hard crabs. At the first summer party I attended, I was handed a plate full of fresh, steaming hard crabs and a hammer. In situations like that, my general game plan is this:


And I got some results… but perhaps not the most elegant results. As my brother-in-law said, “Jesus, you murdered that poor crab.” Finally, the secret to eating hard crabs was revealed to me. Did you know you can open up those little fuckers just like opening the hood of your car? Tell me that’s not some sort of cosmic okay from the creator, saying, “Hells yes, eat all the crab you want!”

And there will also be ribs. Good Lord I like ribs.

Anyway, my considerable enthusiasm about the food is greatly tempered by the fact that we have to get there first. And we’re driving. For eight hours. The Scientist and I have taken this trip ourselves many times, and it’s no big deal. Most of it is long boring stretches of highway across Pennsylvania. But this will be the first time that we’re taking the girls.

I fear the worst.

My father-in-law gave us a little in-car DVD player, which I’m hoping will go a long way to keeping our girls entertained. At least Lily should watch it. But Macey is only one, so I’m afraid she isn’t going to be as captivated. She had a screaming fit most of the way home from Geauga Lake, which was only about 45 minutes in the car. I kept doing the math in my head:

1 screaming child X 8 hours = Daddy’s head fucking explodes

But, we’re as prepared as we can be. We have movies, we have toys and, if all else fails, we have Dramamine. The concern is that Lily and/or Macey may get carsick from watching a movie on a bumpy road, and as much as I’d hate to hear screaming for hours, the smell of kid-puke would stay in the car for days. Plus, if the drugs knock ‘em out, that’s a win-win, too.

Once we get there, all will be well. We leave Thursday afternoon, and we’ll come home on Monday. The Scientist and I both have the 4th off and, after all that driving, I’m sure we’ll need it to relax.

Or to scrub puke out of the seats.


#138 In which our hero gets free tickets to purgatory.

The Scientist scored free tickets to Geauga Lake as part of an employee appreciation thing.

We went on Sunday, and it was hell.

Well, not really hell… I mean, hell is a horrible place that is so bad that, given the choice, you’d not even enter, let alone stay for several hours. No, Geauga Lake was just bad enough to be extremely taxing and uncomfortable for The Scientist and I, but not bad enough that we said, “Fuck this, we’re going.”

We knew we were rolling the dice even planning this thing. Macey is only a year old, so she wasn’t going to really get anything out of it. But Lily is almost three, so we thought that she would enjoy the spectacle and the kiddie rides and fair food. I guess just Lily and I could have gone, but we wanted a nice family outing. As did 10,000 other families.

Going to an amusement park on the weekend you know it’s going to be packed. We had hoped that more people would plan a Saturday trip, and not Sunday. And who knows, maybe it was 10x worse on Saturday. But it was still crowded when we went. And when you’re wheeling a double stroller down narrow walkways jam-packed with humanity, it sucks.

Things went down hill almost instantly. We got to the park, got everyone into the stroller, entered the park and were immediately assaulted with more flesh than we ever wanted to see. We made the mistake of entering on the water park side, so just about everyone was in a swimsuit. Which could be a good thing (even a great thing) if it’s all beautiful, toned swimsuit models. However, if you cross-reference the demographics of your typical amusement park visitor with the demographics of your average swim suit model, you get NO MATCH. What you do get is a ton of people exposing copious amounts of flesh in swimsuits that they should legally be barred from wearing.

We made our way to the kids section, because I had promised Lily rides. Not spinny-pukey rides, because neither The Scientist nor I can deal with them, but we figured there would be plenty of slow-moving stuff that Lily would enjoy.

The first one we saw was a little kids train ride. Perfect.

Well, perfect except for the line. It took about 15 minutes for our turn, and that was about 14 minutes too long for Lily. We’ve worked on the “wait for your turn” concept before, and Lily was probably as good about it as we could expect… but it was still taxing. Maybe more so for me than her. All the while in line Lily said she wanted to be in the front so, naturally, when it was our turn we got stuck in a middle car. Immediate melt-down. But, the gods of parenting were looking out for my little girl, and the woman in the front car was too fat to get her seatbelt fastened, so Lily and I to sit up front afterall. Lily got to “drive” the train, and she enjoyed it. It only lasted about four minutes, but she had fun while it lasted.

There was another ride she was interested in, but I persuaded her to skip it to play on the jungle gym stuff instead. I just couldn’t deal with another 15 minutes of whining while we waited.

To their credit, Geauga Lake had a really cool climbing/sliding thing. Lily and I climbed all through it, then down the slides, then back up, then down the slides, over and over. I wasn’t really clear if parents were supposed to be on this thing or not… but fuck it, I wanted to chase my little girl around. We had fun.

Next was dinner. There was a “family style” restaurant that was air conditioned, so we went there. It was pretty much a shithole. I wasn’t expecting much, but they managed to fall short of my already low expectations. But we got to sit and relax for a bit, and the girls ate some of their over-priced meals, so it wasn’t a complete loss. And since we got into the park for free, I guess the park management is entitled to get their investment back in somehow.

All in all, the park itself wasn’t horrible… just the people. I’m not crazy about crowds to start with, and when 80% of them aren’t wearing shirts but are wearing a sheen of sweat … let’s say it doesn’t add to my enjoyment. I could go into the white-trashiness of the people there, but do I need to? You’ve been to amusement parks, right? You know.

But I will say this: both The Scientist and I went into separate bathrooms to change the girls, only to find the baby changing stations covered in shit. Literally. In what world is it okay to have your kid crap on the table, then walk away saying, “Not my problem!” ?

We all brought our swimsuits (yes, I was planning on adding my own flabby gut to the pale exposed flesh problem) but ended up not putting them on. However, that didn’t stop both Lily and Macey from getting soaked to the bone in the kiddie fountain. It was actually really cute to watch. And since we didn’t have dry clothes for them, we ended up wheeling our kids out in -- yes, you guessed it -- just their diapers, aka, white trash baby style.

Anyway, I think Lily and Macey had fun, which was the whole point. Next time I’ll have a better mind-set, and I’ll go in knowing that it’s going to be a giant clusterfuck and that nothing I’m going to encounter during my entire stay is designed to amuse me in any fashion whatsoever.

My family went to plenty of amusement parks when I was a kid. Now it’s time for me to pay my dues.


#137 In which our hero discusses comic shops.

My comic book guy quit.

Unless you’re a comic book fan, this means nothing to you. But if you are, you know it’s a big pain in the ass. If you’re not a rabid comic book reader, you may not realize that you can’t really buy comic books on newsstands anymore, you have to go to a specialized comic book store. Matter of fact, one of the first things I did when I moved to Cleveland was scout the area to find a new comic book store.

See, new comics come out every week, so I’m in that shop every Thursday (new comics actually come out every Wednesday, meaning the store is jam-packed with hard-core comic geeks on that day, and it’s not that big of a place to start with… so I go the following day to avoid being touched by some unwashed freak). Which means you end up developing a relationship with the guy who sells you comics -- like it or not.

There are generally two types of people who work at comic book stores:
  1. Casual comic readers: aka, guys like me; younger, enjoy reading comics but aren’t fanatical about it, read maybe 3-8 titles a month, bathe regularly.
  2. Hard-core comic readers: older, been reading/involved with comics all of their life, read 20 or more titles a month, in fact, tend to have little life outside of comic books, generally kinda creepy, bathing is optional.
My comic book guy appears to be in the latter category, but honestly, he’s a bit of a anomaly; he’s overweight and geeky (which fits the pattern), but doesn’t appear to be that into comics. He just chats with customers and keeps the store running. I’ve never heard him engage in a protracted debate about, say, if the golden age Superman could beat the post-Crisis Superman in a fist-fight.

I have a great relationship with my comic book guy. He’s friendly, but not so much a fanboy that I get sucked into comic-related discourse with him. Which is just how I want it. I walk in the door, he recognizes me, hands me my pull, I browse what’s new on the tables a bit, pay and leave. Perfect.

But now that he’s gone (yesterday was his last day) this means that I have to deal with a new comic book guy. Probably the owner, who is friendly, but way creepy. He doesn’t know my face or name, so I’m going to have to wait in line and tell him my name in order to get my books. Who has time for that?

Also, I overheard the owner and my now-quit comic book guy talking, and the owner is going to sell the store in about five years. This sucks in that if someone buys it outright, then I have to deal with a whole new guy AND a whole new way of doing business. Or worse yet, if he can’t get someone to buy the shop and it closes, then I’ll have to find a whole other place to buy comics! Arrgh!

Goodbye comic book guy. I hardly knew ya. And that’s how I liked it.


#136 In which our hero says “night-night.”

I am, I guess, what you would call an “active dad.” That is to say, I participate in the rearing of my children. Now, it’s not like I’m Mr. Mom or anything, and I suspect that The Scientist still does the majority of the work, especially when it comes to Macey (who, you will remember, just turned one).

But overall, I’d guess it’s something like a 45/55 split. Maybe 40/60, since The Scientist takes and picks up from daycare most days. Anyway, I don’t find this remarkable at all, it’s just the way we do it. And it’s not like I have to be coerced into helping care for my kids… I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I mention this only because it appears that we live in a nation of deadbeat dads who can’t be bothered to give a shit about their kids -- or so it seems in the press.

Never mind that everyone I know who has kids is an “active father” who is right there, participating. Okay, here’s the deal: The Scientist reads Parents magazine. I don’t, but sometimes I pick it up and leaf through it when it’s on the table or I can’t find a comic book to bring with me into the bathroom or whatever. And never fail… I’m reading an interesting article about, say, the benefits of reading to your kids. It’s all about happy bonding times, higher test scores, better socialization in school and so on… then, in the final paragraph, there’s always something like, “And you fathers can read to your kids, too!”

Man, I hate that shit.

But maybe I’m dumb, and the reality is that most fathers don’t play with their kids, or read them bedtime stories, or listen to the funny things they say. I dunno.

Anyway, that is just a long-winded introduction to something The Scientist mentioned in one of her posts (which says how great I am; linking to it makes me a bit of a douchebag, I think): I put Lily to bed.

Not always, but most nights. And this is only because my wife is busy putting Macey to bed, which has it’s own challenges, but not quite the… ritual … of Lily.

Here’s how it goes down:

Lily’s bedtime is 9PM. I keep reading about these kids who go to bed at 7PM and sleep until 9AM, but I don’t know who those kids are, they sure aren’t our kids. Lily goes to bed at 9, and if she had her way, this would be more like 11PM. So come 8:30, I start saying, “Lily, we need to go to bed soon.” And it’s usually still kicking and screaming at 9.

We go upstairs, brush her teeth, stick her in bed, then read stories. Once story time is over, I tuck her in, and, of course, every single stuffed “friend” she has in bed with her.

Here’s the whole crew, with notation:
“Night-night Elmo.”
This is a stuffed Elmo that was given to Lily by her grandparents. This is the original bed companion and, unlike all the others, has always been included in the ritual despite a sometimes fickle little girl.

“Night-night Alien.”
This is a stuffed alien that looks like one of the classic greys, except that he’s green. I picked this guy up at a trade show. He’s embodied with a company name, but I can’t for the life of me remember who. I had no interest in the company, I just thought Lily would like the toy. And boy, does she. Strangely, she no longer plays with this toy at all, but he has to be there in bed with her.

“Night-night, Chewbacca.”
This is a hard plastic toy Wookie that we got at Burger King with a kid’s meal. He comes apart and is supposed to be a spinning top, but I never thought he worked very well. However, this doesn’t lessen Lily’s love for him, and he is often requested to be right next to her. The problem is that this guy is only about five inches tall, and sometimes gets lost in the bed sheets or behind the bed. More than once I’ve had to pull out the bed and retrieve him before Lily would go to sleep.
Those are the top three, and they always have to be there. The current line-up, always subject to change, is:
“Night-night Teddy Bear.”
A pink stuffed teddy that we got at a baby shower, if memory serves. He was the most often-requested friend for about a month, then fell out of favor. He’s just a hanger-on, really, and could be dropped from the entourage without issue, I think.

“Night-night Purple Bear.”
Purple Bear is a great big stuffed bear that Lily made herself at a “Build-A-Bear” party. He was very popular for about a week after the party, then slowly her interest waned.

“Night-night Panda Bear.”
This is a weird toy we received a year or so ago. He’s supposed to move or do something, but we never bothered to put batteries into him. He has hard parts and wouldn’t, I think, be very comfortable to sleep with. Sometimes Lily actually banishes him from the bed, saying, “Panda Bear has to go downstairs!”

“Night-night Clifford.”
This is a big stuffed Clifford the Big Red Dog, Lily’s current favorite. This toy actually belongs to the day care, and our care provider once made the mistake of letting Lily take him home with her. I don’t know if our daycare lady realizes it yet, but Clifford belongs to Lily now.

“Night-night, Lily. Mommy and Daddy love you.”
And with a kiss to the cheek, the ritual is over.
That is to say, unless I forget to mention someone. Then Lily chastises me, saying, “You gotta say night-night to Chewbacca!” or whomever.

Guess that’s what I get for being so involved.



Is there anything greater than teaching your young children to say inappropriate things? Now, Lily is smart as a whip, so I’m careful of what I say to her directly (although I need to start being better about what I say within earshot… first time she says, “fuck a duck!” in daycare I’ll be getting a note). I feel obligated to mention here that The Scientist has been less careful about this at times… the recent, “Lily, can you say ‘I just shit my pants?’” conversation comes to mind. Hilarious, yes; appropriate, no.

However, I have taught Lily a wonderful thing. My oldest daughter has recently discovered cantaloupe. Neither The Scientist nor I like cantaloupe, but Lily loves it. Now when we go to the store she always requests more “juicy melon.”

And since our mornings are currently lived a pre-fall Eden where no-one cares about nudity, Lily sometimes gets to see The Scientist or myself coming out of the shower. Once, while Lily and I were laying on the bed watching cartoons, The Scientist got out of the shower and came into the bedroom naked. I, of course, am a big fan of my wife’s body, and I especially appreciate her butt. So I say to Lily, “Boy, Lily, check out your mama’s butt. It’s great. Like a nice juicy melon.”

And Lily latches on to this like it’s the funniest thing every said by man. She gets up out of bed, goes over to The Scientist and squeezes her butt, saying, “juicy melon!” And she says it in a funny voice, too! Funniest. Thing. Ever. And now, with just a hint of prompting, I can get Lily to squeeze her mama’s butt on command.

So, considering the story above, how delighted was I to see this in the latest Victoria’s Secret catalogue?

Yet once again, Victoria’s Secret has made my twisted dreams come true.

#135 In which our hero writes a letter to his dad.

Dear Dad,

In one hour Father’s Day 2006 ends. It was a good, if unremarkable, day. The Scientist had to work, so I spent the morning playing with the girls. Later we grilled steaks and went for a walk. That was pretty much the entire day, expect for the parts where I got the girls laughing so hard that they got the hiccups, or when The Scientist made me laugh that hard. And I got two Dane Cook albums. The Scientist has a remarkable gift of buying me presents that I in no way ever indicated I wanted, but still enjoy quite a bit.

It’s strange… Father’s Day hasn’t really been important to me since you died. That was in 1993, of course, when I was 25. Since then, it’s been a non-holiday for me. If anything, it was a painful reminder that I had lost the ability to just pick up the phone and call you whenever I wanted. That sucked. And it still does.

You always said you were proud of me, but honestly, at 25 I hadn’t accomplished shit. I was working a dead-end customer service job at a newspaper. I was coasting. One of my biggest fears is that you secretly considered me a failure.

I never made this clear when you were alive, but dad, you are my hero. You were born in that little shit-hole town outside of Pittsburgh. You literally lived on the wrong side of the tracks. You also lived next to the canal, which wasn’t exactly luxury waterfront housing. The white trash lived next to the canal. White trash, punks and losers.

Your father, my grandfather, was a rag-man. Your mother died when you were young. At one point, pop-pop couldn’t afford to raise you and your four brothers and sisters, and you all had to go live in an orphanage. But despite that I never heard you say anything bad about your father, and I never saw you treat him with anything but the utmost kindness.

I have a couple faded photos of you as a kid… man, you look like a punk. And apparently you were. God knows you should have started work at a steel mill, drank beer after your shift with the guys, and lived next to the same filthy canal where you were born.

But you beat the odds. Lied about your age and joined the Navy at 15. You were stationed at Pearl Harbor several months before the Japanese attacked. But you retuned from the war intact and went to college. Managed to get a football scholarship to a small PA school. Became a teacher, and eventually, a principal. Moved to a tiny Ohio town, got married and had three girls. Then, seven years after you thought you were done with kids, mom unexpectedly got pregnant again. You finally had a boy.

Y’know, given your hard-knock life, people would have given you a lot of slack if you were a poor father… but you weren’t. You were always there for me, and for my three older sisters. You never missed one of our games or band concerts or plays. I remember that one time when I was 17 and you and mom went on a cruise, a family reunion on mom’s side. I was old enough to leave alone for a week, but it meant you would miss one of my games, basketball, I think. I know you felt terrible about it, and apologized at length. It was the first one of my activities that you ever missed, and it may have been the first of any of your kids’ activities you missed.

People tell me I’m funny, and this is all because of you. You loved to laugh, and loved to tell jokes. Now, I always thought your jokes were corny and dumb. So you didn’t teach me jokes really, but rather how to laugh at things when I could. I could make you laugh sometimes, and that was the greatest thing.

I was strangely proud that you were the principal of one of the elementary schools in town -- even though I never had you as a student myself. Your school let out an hour later than the high school did, and sometimes I would drive up to your school and just hang out with you after I was done for the day. I’ll never forget how you could walk into a gym packed with kids waiting for their buses -- loud, spastic, out of control kids -- and immediately quiet them down. But the thing is, you wouldn’t say a word… you’d wait until one kid noticed you, then he’d tell his buddy, and within moments, word spread that you were in the room and it would be silent. With just a look, you transformed 400 rambunctious kids into neat and ordered lines of perfect students.

“How do you do that?” I asked. You would just smile and say, “They know I’m not kidding around.”

This apparent fear that kids had of you always confused me. When the three elementary schools fed into the one high school in town, the other kids quickly figured out that I was your son. “Does he beat you at home?” I was asked once. Many times I’d hear, “Your dad gave me a serious whipping at school!” This, of course, when spanking was still acceptable. I would always ask, “Did you deserve it?” And the answer was always, “Yeah, pretty much.” Other kids seemed to have a little fear of you, but also a lot of respect. Kids know when an adult is fair or not, and you were always fair.

I was never afraid of you… not that you would beat me, that is. But I was afraid of disappointing you. And I know I did on a couple of occasions. I only hope that you weren’t disappointed in me when you died.

Used to be that when the subject of religion came up, I would say that I didn’t really believe in God or any of that stuff, but I didn’t like to say that out loud, just in case I was wrong. But I have a different attitude now. I want to believe -- I need to believe -- that you can see me, even now.

Because dad, I’ve done something with my life. I have a career, and I’m really good at it. I’ve achieved great things with the hobbies in my life. I have a wonderful wife that you would really like. I try hard not to rail about how unfair it is that you’re gone, but it hits me hard when I think of you not being able to meet my wife. I can almost hear the long discussions you’d have about science and the cancer that eventually killed you. You would have loved her.

And, of course, I have two wonderful little kids who will never know their grandfather. That may be the worst part of this all. However, both of my girls have a little patch on their heads where the hair grows white. Just like you did. I’m not one to believe in guardian angels or the like… but maybe, just maybe, this is a sign that you are looking out over my girls. I’ll let down my well-developed sense of skepticism and sarcasm just this once to believe that.

I miss you dad. I miss talking to you for hours on the phone. I miss the letters you wrote. Because God knows you were the King Champion of letter writers. To this day I tell people that you wrote me every week I was in college, and that each letter as at least eight to twelve pages long. Do you know that I threw all those letters away? They were just dispatches from the homefront, how the boy’s football team was doing, what was going on at the park. Now I wish I had saved them. Every banal word of them.

I know you loved me, but you rarely said it. I’m not sure why, it was probably just a generational thing. Instead, you would write me letters. Even before I left for college, you’d write down your feelings and slip the letter into my sock drawer. I’d read them, but we’d never really talk about it. Looking back it seems like an odd situation, but I think the key here is that you told me that you loved me, even if it was in a secret letter. Now, I wish I had told you that I loved you a little more often.

So it seems fitting that I’d immortalize you in the same fashion -- a letter. The only difference now, of course, is that I no longer have the option of saying “I love you” to your face.

I hope you can read this, dad. I hope you can see me. And I hope that you know, beyond all space and time and distance, that I love you very much, and I miss you very much.

Your son,




#134 In which our hero witnesses a man of action.

Yesterday, I went to lunch with some co-workers. Since it was a nice day, and the place is only a couple blocks away, we walked. As we neared the restaurant, someone says, “Hey. That car is on fire.”

And sure enough, there’s a minivan stopped at the light on the corner with flaming oil dripping out from beneath the engine. A couple other people have noticed this and start shouting, “Hey! Your car’s on fire! Get out!” We’re across the street and, as you might imagine, a little hesitant to cross, but we start shouting the same stuff, pointing at the increasing amount of fire coming out from under their hood.

An 80-year-old man hobbles out, followed by his 80-year-old wife and their 50-year-old daughter. With the occupants safe, we’re all mesmerized by this burning vehicle. Some of my co-workers are worried that the car is going to explode, and that we should get the hell out of here. Matter of fact, the one co-worker who called 9-1-1 on her cell as soon as we saw the fire was told by the dispatcher, “Okay, when you get off the phone with me, RUN! Just get away from there! RUN!” Personally, I don’t think cars really explode like that, outside of Hollywood action flicks, so I’m not so worried. But I do feel bad for this old couple who look like they can ill-afford to have their van go up in flames.

But just then a car come screeching to a halt in the intersection, and a man jumps out to assay the situation. He calmly approaches the burning car, pops the hood and attempts to smoother the flames with a heavy moving blanket he somehow produces from the backseat of his car. This doesn’t work, and honestly, I think opening the hood just exacerbated the fire. Then, he puts the blanket away, and grabs a fire extinguisher that has been brought out by the restaurant staff. He covers the engine compartment with fire-killing dust, putting the fire out. Then returns to his car and gets out some flares and puts them around the van so traffic can keep moving.

At this point, I’m like, “Who IS this guy?” He then returns to his car, and drives off into the sunset.

So I’m thinking, man, I want to be THAT guy when I grow up! I’m not exactly Mr. Take Charge in a crisis situation, but this guy clearly is. That van was probably 10 minutes away from being a huge fireball -- it’s a little alarming how quickly the fire escalated -- and would have been a complete loss if MacGyver hadn’t shown up.

Couple minutes after he left, the Akron fire department showed up and finished hosing down the still-smoldering van.

Guess I’m not quite ready for my own cape and tights just yet.

The black car halfway in the intersection is the hero's car;
and you can see the man of action himself right behind it,
as he runs to grab a fire extinguisher. I, of course, am
cowering on the opposite side of the street.

Akron FD on the case. "Who was that masked man?"


#133 In which our hero does some “thinking.”

Several times in my life I’ve blown off something that I should have done, only to have it come back to me, years later.

For example: I took a Shakespeare class in college (I mean, didn’t everyone?) in which I was supposed to memorize a soliloquy and write it down for a quiz. Since I’m crappy at memorizing and it was only like 1/20th of the score, I didn’t bother. My instructor told us that it would be a great party trick later in life, and I’m like, “Pfft! I’ll never do that.”

So naturally, there have been a couple of times in my life that I thought, “Man, it would be perfect if I could bust out a Shakespeare soliloquy right now!” Worse yet, at least one of those occasions might have impressed a girl I liked.

So I’m reading Defective Yeti today , and in his post he mentions “Gerundland,” which is a joke that only English majors will get. But, it reminded me of yet another thing I had blown off and later regretted.

I read Stephen King’s Four Seasons in my early 20s. One of the novellas therein is called “The Body.” It was later made into a film called “Stand By Me” which you know you’ve seen, because it’s a law in this country that everyone has to see “Stand By Me.” Anyway, in the story, King writes that Chris Chambers (played by the late River Phoenix in the movie) struggled with English Lit in high school, driving him to write, “FUCK GERUNDS!” in his notebook.

So naturally, I had to look up exactly what a “gerund” was. Turns out it’s a kinda complicated grammar thing, something that (at the time) I never thought I would have to know, so I blew it off.

Flash forward 10 years.

I’m in my apartment in Columbus, trying to find a copywriter job in Cleveland so I can move up there to be with the woman I love. I’m on the phone with a high-power recruiter in the Cleveland area, and she’s basically interviewing me on the phone. Once again, I’m the King of the Interview, but this one isn’t going so well. Mostly because I know that this woman doesn’t have a job for me… she has the resources to find me a job -- maybe -- so I’m free to be a little more… casual with the way I answer her questions. She’s also condescending and annoying, so I’m not turning on the charm by any stretch. But since there’s a chance -- however slim -- that she might land me a job, I’m not outright rude.

Anyway, the interview is wrapping up, and she says, “One final questions. What’s a gerund?”

Son of a bitch! I think. I looked this up once. Shit! I should have paid attention!

So I try to bullshit my way through and I say, “A gerund means whatever the client wants it to mean.” Which, as far as advertising-related answers go, ain’t horrible. But this woman replies, “Not in this case. A copywriter who works for me would know the answer.” This caused me to really doubt my ability. But I obviously did get a job in Cleveland, and no thanks to pop-quiz lady, either.

But the other thing it did was force me to again look up the answer, and this time, memorize it.

So what is it? Here is the long, involved answer. But to oversimplify things, a gerund is basically an “-ing” verb that is masquerading as a noun. For example, “hiking.” The “-ing” general identifies word as a verb, but “hiking” can also function as a noun (“I enjoy hiking.” “Hiking is a great outdoor activity”). That makes it a gerund.

Learn it, live it. Don’t be like me, and be unprepared the one time in your life when you’re asked to define “gerund.”



Okay, here’s the deal with comments: I’ve changed them to moderated, which means that I have to approve anything that gets posted. This is a chickenshit move, and it normally isn’t something I would do. Lord knows I’ve never backed down from a confrontation or hesitated to address a bullshit situation in the past.


The last couple of days a certain person has been posting anonymous comments to my site, saying shitty things about my wife. Now, I’ll set aside for a moment how cowardly it is to post anonymously, and how easy it is to feel brave behind the protective curtain of the Internet, and I’ll just say this: I won’t have it. This is my personal blog, in which I write about me, my family, and odd bits of flotsam that interest me. I’m certainly not going to let it turn into some platform from which to lob insults at the woman I love.

If you want to say shit to my wife, she has her own site, y’know? Going through me is not only fruitless, it’s also a really bad idea. I have no history with you and, honestly, that’s the way you really want to keep it.

Oh, and finally, trying to somehow shake the faith I have in my wife or damage our marriage? Ridiculous. Never going to happen. Certainly not by a hunchbacked troll such as yourself. So please, go shuffle your papers and limit the infliction of your brand of unhappiness to your own family, such as it is.



Happy first birthday, Macey. Mommy and Daddy love you... if we didn't, would we have let you eat all that cake?

You are adorable. And now, mobile as well. How the hell am I supposed to stand strong against two cute little girls?

I'm doomed.



Last week we had a parents’ meeting at our daycare. While I appreciate the concept of these things, the reality is always boring. I mean, The Scientist and I are not really the kind of people who “network,” and that seems to be one of the big reasons to have these things, so parents can make play dates or what-not. Also, I find the idea of having most of these people in my home to be mildly revolting.

There’s also food, and usually a speaker. So far, the speakers have all been trying to sell something, like organic cleaning products or vitamins or the like. Being that they all smell vaguely of Amway, so The Scientist and I are not interested.

And in the past, the food has sucked. We end up paying $5/head to get a lukewarm slice of pizza. However, this time our daycare provider mentioned the magic word that kept me from blowing this thing off altogether: Chipotle.

Oh, how I love their burritos. This is one of the restaurants to which I have no resistance (Arthur Treachers is the other). It takes a serious act of will to avoid these places. So, when I heard that there would be Chipotle burritos at the parents’ meeting, I was all in.

Since I work in Akron, it’s a bit of a haul for me to get there. I was late, and came in after the speaker had already begun. Fortunately, this speaker wasn’t trying to sell us anything. Unfortunately, he was from Child & Family Services, and he was talking about abuse.

Okay… there is nothing funny about child abuse. It’s a deadly serious subject. In fact, The Scientist had to get up and leave at one point because she can’t stand to hear about the various ways in which this guy had seen children abused. No laughs there.


Okay, maybe it’s because I have the mentality of a 12-year-old, but the word “buttocks” is funny. Every time. And I get it that this guy works in a field in which clear, concise descriptions of body parts are critical… but still. Buttocks is funny. And this guy probably says “buttocks” as part of his daily job, but man, I do not. So hearing it again and again was funny. To add to the inappropriate humor, the guy seemed to avoid the word “penis” in favor of “pee-pee.” I mean, come on! Pee-pee? Jesus, guy, if you’re going to say “buttocks” (hee hee) then commit to the entire anatomy! Penis! Vagina! Breastages!

Ultimately, what the guy had to say was very important, of course. And as far as speakers go, he was the least boring yet. At the end, I asked him if he enjoyed his job, being that it sounded like a soul-crushing nightmare job to me. He said he did, and good for him, because it’s nothing I could ever do.

Thank God there are people like him out there keeping our pee-pees safe.



There’s something wrong with the doorknob to our bedroom. In a couple of occasions when The Scientist has closed the door I haven’t been able to get it open from the outside. Something is screwed up with the mechanism; I can turn the knob but the bolt doesn’t turn. I noticed this a couple of months ago, and I’ve been meaning to do something about it. Which makes me kick myself all the harder because of what happened last night.

Lily locked herself in our room and we couldn’t get her out.

It was right after bathtime, and while we where dealing with Macey, Lily ran giggling into our room and slammed the door shut. When we tried to open the door, it wouldn’t. I tried for 10 minutes to pull up and turn, push forward and turn, pull out and turn… all with no luck. Lily was still laughing inside, saying, “Daddy, come get me!”

However, after a bit, the laughter stopped and Lily started to sound worried. “Daddy, let me OUT!” Then she started to sound scared. I was trying hard to avoid doing what I knew I’d have to do if I couldn’t get the door open. But finally, with my 2 ½-year-old starting to panic, there was nothing left to do.

I got the ladder out of the garage, put it up to the second story bedroom window, climbed up (in the rain), punched through the screen, threw the screen to the ground and climbed in the window. While I was climbing in, Lily says, “Daddy! You’re outside. You’re going to get all wet!”

The door opened easily from the inside, of course. Now, if the window had been locked, I would have literally had to break down the door. And I’m not entirely sure how I would have done that without hurting Lily on the other side. So, this worked out better than it might have otherwise.

Needless to say, I immediately took off the door knob. Once apart, it was easy to see that one of the doodads inside was bent.

Now I’m down one screen for the bedroom. And up one important parenting lesson.



I’m used to getting free coffee at work. This seems to be a pretty universal perk of the American workplace. I wonder if people get free tea in England? So anyway, when I came to the new agency and they had free coffee, it was no big deal. Of course, it was free Starbucks coffee in five different flavors, but since I think Starbucks’ coffee tastes burnt, I wasn’t impressed. They also offer free tea, hot chocolate and microwave popcorn. These are all nice things… but they offer one other thing that I wasn’t expecting:

Free beer.

During the orientation the HR manager was running down the list of services, and she casually said, “Oh yeah, there’s also free beer in the kitchen.” To which I’m like, oh, okay, ha-ha, free beer, but she says, “No, really. Free beer. We know that creative people sometimes need a little something extra, so if you feel like you need a beer at 10am, it’s perfectly okay.”

That’s totally ridiculous, of course. Free beer? There’s soda and juice for sale, but you get the beer for free? Now, I’m not a beer drinker, so it’s no great perk for me, but I do appreciate the sentiment. The agency is so focused on making the workplace a loose, easy-going environment that they’re not above liquoring up the workers.

Now if they’d only get some different coffee.



Ugh. So I’ve been thinking, off and on, all day about posting something. And I got nothing. I’ve decided that the reason I’ve got blogger’s block (a term I thought I just invented, but a quick Google search returns 39,200 results, so, um, maybe not) is that I got a nasty comment on one of my posts. See for yourself.

Now, when I set up my Blogger account I had to decide if I wanted comments enabled or not. I did, and was actually excited about maybe getting a little interaction with my viewing public (both of you). I also decided to enable comments on past entries, too, because -- well, why not?

But I found myself trolling through entries during the day to see if anyone had left a comment somewhere… which is hugely self-centered and vain (which doesn’t really bother me) but it is also a huge suck of my time. So I set up Blogger to email me comments when they come in.

Oddly enough, shortly after I did so I got a comment on the very first entry I wrote, back in 2004, from someone I knew in college. And, of course, today’s nasty comment. I just find it odd that I might not have seen these entries for a long time if I didn’t set up the account in the way I did.

ANYWAY… this comment presumably comes from someone who knows my ex-girlfriend. And the negativity again presumably comes from something she said about me. So now I’m all “well, clearly I need to tell my side!” while the other half of me says, “jeez, who cares?” and the other other half says, “Do it! It’s a great story!”

But if my ex is reading this site, I certainly don’t need to give her (or her friends) any further “boy, he is an asshole!” ammo -- cuz the story doesn’t exactly make me look like a hero.

Blah… this seems to happen every so often -- I’m reminded that people other than the four friends (and my wife) I know for sure read this are actually peeking in, and I get all freaked out about it. But up until now I assumed that anyone reading this was friendly or indifferent; I didn’t really think anyone would have a grudge against me.

Well, screw it! There’s nothing for it but to keep on writing. Some people will like my writing, some will hate my writing, and, I guess, some will hate me.

Comments are open.



I’m not a homophobe. And I know the first thing homophobes say is, “I’m not a homophobe!” in a big surly voice… but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. In college I had a gay friend make a huge pass at me -- as in, um, could you stop touching me there, please? -- and we remained friends afterwards, so I like to think I’m pretty flexible (but perhaps not as flexible as he would have liked me to be at that moment).

So I realize that it’s totally not cool that more often than not, when I’m faced with something that’s stupid or lame, I say, “so gay” or worse, “that’s queer!”

This has really become apparent to me because the agency I’m working at is super gay-friendly. So if I bust out with a “…key chains for premiums? That’s really queer!” in a meeting, there’s probably a 1 in 5 chance that I’m going to offend someone in the room.

I need to watch my mouth. Not just at work, I don’t need the girls saying things are “queer” at daycare either.

Ugh. Self-censuring my daily speech? That is so ga-- er, lame.


#132 In which our hero accessorizes his office.

When I first came to Cleveland and started work at my first real big-time ad agency, I moved in. Big time. I had books and toys and plants and pictures on the walls… way I figured it, I was there to stay. Unfortunately, my employers had other ideas.

When I was laid off, it took three trips to clear all the crap out of my office.
  1. Pack a cardboard box full of stuff.
  2. Take the elevator down 17 stories to the lobby.
  3. Walk out the building and down the block to the parking garage.
  4. Take the elevator up to the 5th level, where I was parked.
  5. Return and repeat twice more.
So yeah, that sucked. And ever since that lay off, I’ve told myself to keep personal effects to the bare minimum, so I’d never have to repeat that painful walk of shame again. I’ve followed this personal credo through the last four jobs, and it’s paid off. When I get laid off I collect the few things I have at the workplace (book on grammar, photo of The Scientist, cell phone recharger) shove them in my bag and get the hell out. It’s served me well.

So, naturally, one of the first things I did at my new job was buy this:

"Luxury seating"

Yeah, I bought a sofa for my office. Before my probationary period was even over. If I get fired now, it’s going to be a huge pain in the ass to get this thing home.

Allow me to explain. At my last real agency job (I don’t count the junk mail place) my boss had a small leather loveseat in his office. Of course, his office was big enough to accommodate a big piece of furniture, but anyway… I loved it. It was fantastic to lounge on a comfy couch instead of the standard plastic and nylon office chair. I swore that if I ever got a real office again, I’d invest in a sofa.

So when I started here, I eyed-up my space and thought, “y’know, take away those chairs, and I bet I could squeeze in a loveseat right there.”

Now, I never expected to actually find a piece of furniture that I both liked and could afford, but I figured I’d give it a shot. My plan was to check out some used furniture places around town, see what I could find. I had no freakin’ idea how I would get the damn thing from the parking lot into my office (not an insignificant walk), but I’d cross that bridge when I got to it.

On a lark, I googled “cheap furniture” to see what I could see. And that’s where I discovered Home Reserve.

Not to turn this into a big commercial for these guys, but I nearly crapped my pants when I found this site. Not only were the prices reasonable (and affordable to my non-existent “office décor” fund) but they had a butt-load of choices AND they would deliver the stuff right to my office. Kick-ass!

Now, I’ve pretty much never bought a real piece of furniture in my life. Everything I’ve owned has been pressed particle board, assemble-it-yourself junk. This is shit that would survive one move, maybe, before falling apart. But it was cheap, and I kept buying it.

So, it was with this dissatisfaction in mind that I perused the site. I thought I might be making a mistake and a big, steaming turd of a loveseat might arrive, but I was willing to roll the dice.

So it arrives and I hump it into my office and start to assemble it. The frame of the thing is made of the same shitty pressed wood (actually, it’s “oriented strand board,” which the company assures me is NOT made with formaldehyde) so my first reaction was, “Shit. There’s no way this is going to hold up.”

However, it went together extremely easy, and the finished result is simply amazing. It’s remarkably stable, and doesn’t creak or flex at all. You would never know I put it together myself in my office.

It’s the “Classic” loveseat in “Gracewood Tomato Chenille” fabric, in case you’re curious.

Now, honestly, when I bought it, I thought people might think it was cool. But what I didn’t expect was that it would cause a minor furor in the agency.

My office happens to be outside the kitchen, so there’s a fair amount of foot traffic past my door. And since the offices at this agency don’t have actually doors, and in lieu of a window I have a large glass panel, it’s easy to see my sofa.

People would walk past and I would hear them down the hall saying, “… that guy has a couch in his office…” A few brave souls would come in and ask me how the heck I got it up here, etc. A couple of people even sat on it, pronouncing it “very comfortable.”

Once the sofa was installed, a couple of people asked me, “Does B. know about this?” Now, B. is the HR guy in charge of office supplies, furniture, etc. Since I wasn’t asking the agency to buy the sofa for me, and I didn’t think anyone would really give a shit about what was in my office (it’s not like I wanted to put it in the hall) it never even crossed my mind to ask permission of B., or anyone else. B. had actually stopped by and given me a “what the hell?” but that wasn’t an atypical response, so I didn’t think much about it. But now I was worried that I might have to disassemble this mutherfucker and take it home, so I go to B.’s office, and have this conversation:
ME: Hey, do you care that I put a sofa in my office?
B.: Nope. As long as [the General Manager] and [the President] don’t say anything, I don’t care.
ME: People keep asking me if I got your permission to have a sofa.
B.: That’s because I’m a Nazi, didn’t you know that?
ME: I did not know that.
I don’t know what this guy’s done to other people, but he’s put the fear of God into them, that’s clear. He was nothing but pleasant to me. Then again, he did come in the following day to take my one remaining guest chair.
B.: All right, since you have a couch, you won’t need this chair. I can use it elsewhere.
ME: You’re taking my chair?
B.: You have a couch, for God’s sake!
ME: But I like to give people a choice of seating.
B.: Craig, this isn’t a talk show.
And he absconded with my chair. Later, the GM stopped by and told me how she had a couch in her old office, and how great it was when she had to bring one of her sick kids to work with her, etc. So I took that as an endorsement of legitimacy. And I don’t think the president could pick me out of a line-up, so I’m not worried about him swooping in and demanding that I remove furniture.

Time passes, and everyone becomes accustomed to seeing it, and it’s not a big deal any more. However, what I didn’t know was that my sofa had become a bit of a sensation on the third floor.

Now, at this agency, the fourth floor is where all the creatives are, and the third floor is mostly account staff. The account folks aren’t up here that often, and the creatives rarely go down there. Matter of fact, during my orientation, I was shown the stairway down to three and told, “That’s accounts. You’ll never need to go down there.”

A week or so after I brought the thing in, an account executive sticks in his head and says:
AE: Great couch!
ME: Thanks. I just got it.
AE: I know. Everyone on three is talking about it.
ME: Really?
AE: Oh yeah. Now, you built this thing yourself?
ME: Well, yeah. It came in a kit in the mail.
AE: Oh! People downstairs are like, “dude made that himself out of foam!”
That night, The Scientist says to me, “You’ve become an agency urban legend!”

So I guess I’m “couch guy.” I can live with that.


#131 In which our hero recalls a horse-related confrontation.

Yesterday my wife moved her horse to a new barn (I would guess that she’ll be writing about that shortly in her own blog, Dressage Mom). In the approximately six years we’ve lived together, this has happened five times. It’s both a casual and stressful thing -- casual in that this sort of thing happens all the time, and most times (for my wife and her horse, at least) it’s due to her trainer moving to a new barn, and my wife following. But other times, it’s due to something a little more dramatic.

For example.

About four years ago my wife was stabling her horse at this big fancy-pants barn. Her trainer, L., was there. But there was an odd dynamic in that the woman who trained L. was also there (we will call her C., and you can assume that stands for “crazy.”)

Now, if you’re not familiar with people who own and ride horses, you need to understand that they are all crazy. I mean, really crazy. The Scientist is no exception, but I’ve been lucky in that her crazy isn’t as grossly manifest as some of the other barn-people I’ve met.

But C. was exceptionally crazy. Bat-shit crazy.

It was a bad time to be at this barn in that L. was starting to move away from C. and start her own training business, and C., who, frankly, was past her prime and on a downward slope, wasn’t especially happy about it. Matter of fact, she would often talk trash about L. behind her back (and deny it later, of course). Add to this that the facility itself was owned by this arrogant jackass, and you’re not heading anywhere good.

So, the owner had hired this weasely little fuck named Joey or Mikey or somesuch, I can’t remember now, to manage the barn. We’ll call him Fucky. Fucky was (and presumably is, still) an idiot. Worse yet, he didn’t know shit about horses, and his position of being in charge of a dozen or more highly-trained (and expensive) animals was a mystery to everyone.

Now, I don’t remember the details with full clarity, since most of what happened is obscured by a blood-red film of rage in my mind, but it went down mostly like this:

The Scientist and I (this was before we had kids) drove to visit her parents in Maryland for Thanksgiving. Her horse was having some minor issue before we left, but nothing that was worrisome enough to cancel the trip. The Scientist is keeping in touch with L. on the phone and all is well.

Then things turned ugly.

Again, I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but The Scientist’s horse was given a dose of medication to help him get through whatever ailment was bugging him. Then, for some reason, another vet was called out to the barn, and ended up looking at her horse. The vet then dosed him with more of the same medication. Not his fault -- he was giving the horse exactly what he needed, except the animal had already received it. Now, someone should have caught this before it ever happened… and that someone was Fucky.

See, the barn manager is in charge of the care of the horses. He is basically the advocate of the owners when the owners aren’t around. The problem was that Fucky was too clueless to know that bad things could happen if this horse was double-medicated.

And the bad thing that could happen was that the horse could founder. Now, I don’t pretend to know a thing about horses, but The Scientist had put the fear of foundering into me before, and even I knew that it was serious business. If it was bad enough, the horse might have to be destroyed.

Needless to say, my wife lost her shit.

It was considerably worse since we were 400 miles away; I think if The Scientist could have jumped in her truck and just gone to the barn it wouldn’t have been so bad. But, as it was, all she could do was fret over the phone.

I offered to pack us up and drive home on the spot. Nothing I wanted to do, but I knew how serious the situation was. I even had to yell at her dad a little bit and tell him to can the “What’s the big deal? It’s just a horse” bullshit.

Finally, after a couple of days and many stressful phone calls between my wife and her trainer, it was determined that her horse was out of danger.

Flash-forward a week.

The Scientist is back at home, and is none too quiet about pointing out that Fucky fucked up big-time. She makes it clear that this asshole is not to touch her horse in any way. This tension percolates for several days, until L. confides to The Scientist that Fucky and the dumbass barn owner are considering kicking her out of the barn.

To which, The Scientist says fuck THAT shit! She doesn’t want her horse to be anywhere that she/he is not wanted. This news comes down on Friday evening, and she and I are out there early-early Saturday AM packing up her horse to move him to another barn.

And then it gets good.

See, I am royally pissed at this little fuckstick for screwing with my wife. He is a pint-sized coward who can’t handle a woman telling him to his face that he’s incompetent and shouldn’t be running the barn. Instead of growing a pair of balls and saying something to her face, he goes behind her back and tries to get her kicked out.

I should mention that there’s about foot of snow on the ground and it’s cold as hell. So I’m not exactly happy to be there, and I’m not going to be satisfied to pack up her horse and quietly leave.

Now, Fucky lives on the grounds. So I go over to his house and bang on the door. It’s probably 8:30AM at this point, and it takes a fair amount of banging before he stumbles, sleepy-eyed, to the door.
ME: Are you [Fucky]?
FUCKY: Uh, yeah.
M: Do you know who I am?
F: Uh, no.
M: I’m [The Scientist]’s husband.
F: Oh. How you doing?
M: I’d be doing a lot better if I wasn’t moving my wife’s horse in the snow first thing on a Saturday morning. I understand this is your fault?
F: It was my decision, yeah.
M: All right. Why don’t you get dressed and come over to the barn and talk to us about it.
F: Um… okay.
Because I’m not letting his little cock off the hook so easy. I want a confrontation, and I want him to know that he’s screwed with the wrong guy’s wife.

Now, just as I get back to the barn, C. arrives. Now, we’ve already learned that C. knows about this whole brouhaha, and has been consulted by the barn owner about it. I’m pissed that she has done nothing to defend The Scientist, who has always been nothing but generous and polite to her crazy ass.

C. sees me packing up my wife’s tack trunk.
C.: Hi there. What’s going on?
ME: We’re moving.
C.: You’re moving? Why?
M: Look, C., don’t act surprised; you knew about this days ago.
C.: Uh, yeah. But I hoped it wouldn’t come to this.
And then things really went down hill. I laid into this two-faced bitch for 20 minutes. It was clear that all her talk about having my wife’s best interests in mind was pure bullshit. She was a fading riding star in Northeast Ohio, and all she cared about was establishing her training operation in a nice barn, carving out a piece of business and growing her client list. If she had to throw one opinionated rider under the bus to make that happen, she would. In a heart beat.

So I called her on it. Because if Fucky had put one of her horses in danger, she would have been clammering for his head. But as it is, she told my wife, "Sometimes you just have to zip it."

Keep your mouth shut after some moron endangers your horses life? Oh no, The Scientist wasn't about to do that.

It was clear that C. was used to giving orders to other women, and didn’t care for a man pointing out her inadequacies. She got very defensive, and the lies and excuses came fast and furious, which just caused me to build up a bigger head of steam.

Then Fucky showed up.

Since he was the real target of my anger, I let C. go and focused on him. We went into his office, where I lost no time.
ME: So tell me, [Fucky], why do you want to kick my wife out of this barn?
FUCKY: Well, I can’t have a border undermining my authority.
M: And by saying that you don’t know how to properly care for her horse, this is undermining your authority?
F: Yes.
M: Do you even know what "founder" is?
F: Well, it's when, uh, a horse, um, well, it's just really bad.
M: So you don't know what founder is.
F: Not exactly, no.
M: Y'know what? I don't manage a barn but I know what founder is!
This went on for probably another 20 minutes. I was fully in the moment, and consumed with browbeating this little fucker into submission. The Scientist told me later that his chest was shaking and he looked like he might cry at any moment. I don’t get pissed off like I was that day very often, and it was the first time The Scientist ever witnessed me that angry. She said it was a sight to see.

Finally, a few finger-pokes to his quivering chest later after I had made my point that if a horse had actually died under his care then this would be a very different conversation The Scientist ended the confrontation before it went any further. We drove over to the new barn and unloaded her boy.

Man, I’m getting riled just thinking about it again. But, I hasten to add that this was an extreme situation, and has never been repeated at any other barn (even though things have happened at other barns that annoyed me greatly).

So, it is with this memory that I look at my wife’s most recent move. My hope, of course, is that she will stay at this barn for a while, and will be happy there. She deserves to finally keep her boy at a place that provides good care with a minimum of craziness. I wasn’t involved with the move at all (she took the day off so she could move him at a comfortable pace) and I hope I never have to become involved like that again.

But if I do… well, let’s just say I have my chest-poking fingers all ready to go.


#130 In which our hero covets a bowl.

I like fast food. I don’t love it, and The Scientist and I probably only eat out (fast food or otherwise) maybe once every other week. But I occasionally fall victim to some fast food item that steals my soul.

About 10 years ago Taco Bell had a summer-only special that was basically a giant vat of cheesy bean dip surrounded by chips. I must have eaten that molten pool of death a hundred times over the summer. When it went away I was very sad.

Arby’s may just be my favorite fast food joint of all time. The Scientists contends that their “beef” is a processed gel made up mostly of “eyeballs and assholes” (in her own elegant words). But y’know what? I don’t care because them eyeballs and assholes is good eatin’. Anyway, they used to run a “5 for $5” deal in which you could get five roast beef sandwiches for five bucks. Who cares if you are full on #3, pushing it on #4 and ready to puke halfway through #5? It’s only $5! Sadly, they don’t run that special any longer.

I mention this only because I recently saw something that has all the earmarks of consuming my life: the KFC Bowl!

Now, I’m not really sure what this thing is called, officially. On their website it looks like it’s just “KFC Famous Bowls” so I dunno. But, needless to say, the moment I saw the commercial I was hooked. The Scientist even remarked, “Did they make that thing just for you?”

So I went to KFC today for lunch.

On the menu board it’s listed as the “Mashed Potato Bowl,” which really seems to shortchange the chicken and corn. But I guess the marketing guys thought the “3AM Food After You’ve Been Drinking All Night Bowl” hit a little too close to home.

The foundation of this amazing construction is mashed potatoes, as you might have guessed. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I am a huge sucker for KFC mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s the gravy, of course, that really sells it. I LOVE it! I’ve heard that it’s made from the gunk at the bottom of the fryers, but frankly, you could tell me it’s made from mashed baby toes and I wouldn’t care -- it’s that good. So, anything covered in that gravy would go down easy for me.

Over the mashed potatoes is a layer of corn, then a layer of bite-sized fried chicken hunks, then the gravy, then a sprinkling of cheese. The cheese seems a little overkill to me, it’s almost like the test kitchen guys where saying, “This is pretty good, but how can we make sure that people’s hearts explode right in the parking lot?” Right! Cheese!

So I ordered the combo meal (which is the bowl plus a drink) and sat down to enjoy. Ah, sweet anticipation!

And honestly, I’m underwhelmed. I mean, yeah, it’s good, and I like all the elements, but together they don’t create the heavenly goulash I was hoping for. And, at five and a half bucks, it seems kinda small. I guess you’re paying for the extra labor involved with putting it all together.

Would I order it again? Yeah, probably I will. Will it overtake my life like some other fast food items have? Nah.

Now, if only Taco Bell would bring back that bean dip swimming pool I’d be set for the summer.