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



The Scientist and I are back from a New Year Eve party. We took the girls, and they were, like they often are, real champs. The portable DVD player saved the day again, and the girls and I mostly sat in a seperate room and watched SpongeBob. Which is fine, since the party with thrown by my wife's trainer, and I didn't really know anyone. But there was a nice spread of food, and that's enough to make any party successful for me.

It's been a long year, 2006 has. Lots of stuff happened. Some good (Macey finally started sleeping through the night), some bad (everyone got sick at least once); Some really good (my new awesome job), some really bad (replaced the sewer line in the front yard, more drainage work to be done in the back yard). I think the good outweighed the bad... but just.

Here's my hope for 2007: less hassle, more money. And I hope to adore my wife and children as much or more than I do right now.

Happy New Year.


#192 In which our hero relates the activities of this year’s Yule.

I’m on vacation right now, which partly explains the lack of posts. The other big factor, of course, is how lazy I am. Especially when I’m on vacation.

So, Christmas. It was great, of course. I mean, we have two little girls under the age of four, so they’re excited about the dumbest things and this giggly excitement is contagious.

We only hosted my mom for Christmas this year, which was a nice change from the crazy big (but good crazy) group of family we had last year. So even with the tearing of paper and squeezing of gifts, it was pretty low-key.

Macey is only one and a half, so she doesn’t get anything about the holiday yet. Lily is three, and she talks about Santa and gifts, but honestly, she’s still a little young to really get it, I think. I mean, we told her that Santa was going to come down the chimney and leave gifts, and she was all for that; but she didn’t really seem to grasp the entire concept, at least not un-prompted. We came down in the morning and the cookies and milk had been eaten (by SANTA! I enthused) and the stockings were full of candy and gifts (from SANTA!) and there were a ton of gifts under the tree (from SANTA!) and Lily was like, oh yeah! Right! Santa brought that stuff! What can I play with next? Then again, maybe she’s just a whole lot more calm about it than I was.

The play kitchen was a hit, but not the nuclear experience I was hoping for. Both girls opened the doors and turned the handles, then abandoned it for other toys. Of course, I was hoping for this kind of reaction.

(Funny aside -- have you seen the commercial that uses this footage? I can’t remember what company it is right now… but in the TV commercial, it’s clearly NOT a Nintendo 64 that the kids are opening. The front of the box has been superimposed with an image of an old-style tin robot. First time I saw that, I thought, those kids are getting that excited about a dumb robot? It wasn’t until I found the clip on YouTube that I noticed the switch. Damn advertising people -- screwing with our minds! Again!)

But the real hit of the day? This damn thing:

Hey! That’s not my child!

We found this dumb thing in a catalog somewhere and bought it on a lark. We figured that the girls has enjoyed playing with the box that the freezer came in (until Lily peed in it, of course) so maybe they’d like this. And it was only 20 bucks.

Of course, they LOVED it. Couldn’t get them out of it. Everyone had to come inside the play castle at some point (except grandma, who politely declined). It’s still extremely popular a week later.

The other big hit of the day? These stupid $1 plastic Slinkys that The Scientist got at the dollar store. Leap Pad games? Realistic, articulated dolls? Pop-up books? Bah, don’t waste my time! I mean, look at my Slinky! It’s red! And slinky!

It was a good Christmas, gift-wise, for The Scientist and I as well. My superpowers did not fail me, I did indeed get an iPod. But it was the new Shuffle, not the Nano like I thought. This thing is ridiculous. It’s smaller than a matchbook, and has a GIG of memory. The manual says it can hold something like 250 songs. Now, I’m not a big music guy, so that’s pretty much a lifetime worth of songs for me. It’s crazy. After I go through my CD collection and cherry-pick my favorite songs, I think I’ll still have trouble filling it up. Fortunately, The Scientist also gave me $30 worth of gift certificates to iTunes, so I’m good. This gift comes from my sister-in-law; it is unexpected and really pretty cool. And she got The Scientist one, too, so we don’t have to fight.

I also got some cool books, and some DVDs. Oddly enough, I got Near Dark -- a rather obscure horror movie which is nevertheless awesome -- twice. I’ll be returning one to pick up another obscure horror movie, Prince of Darkness. Two thumbs way up!

It was a nice Christmas all the way around… well, that is, until my wife got sick. She started feeling back Christmas morning, spend the day in bed the following day, and pretty much hasn’t gotten better yet. She’s at the doctors right now; undoubtedly telling them that she understands that there’s some virus going around but that they nevertheless need to shut the fuck up about it and give her some meds to make her feel better RIGHT NOW.

I’m just praying the girls don’t pick up this ick or, worse yet, me. Because I’m a huge pussy when I get sick. And seeing how hard this thing has kicked The Scientist’s ass, it would damn-near kill me.

So, Santa? One more Christmas request? Let this sickness pass though our house quickly and painlessly and I’ll be a good boy all year. Thank you.



I have a superpower. It's not a very useful superpower, so I don't brag about it. But I have the ability to guess, with unerring accuracy, what's in wrapped presents. Mostly presents for me. The Scientist hates this ability with a passion. So much that she has forbidden me from touching or shaking any presents (that's the only way it works).

So, remember how I wrote before that I really wanted an iPod Nano? Well, my superpower has given me the strong feeling that my sister-in-law got me one for Christmas. I should be excited about it, and I am, don't get me wrong. But, I'm far more excited about another gift:

Kidkraft Wooden Kitchen & Refrigerator. (Ugly child sold seperately).

Is that awesome or what? I cannot wait for the girls to come down tomorrow morning and see this thing. At some point this thing will go to live in the kitchen so the girls can cook along with daddy while he makes dinner. This will serve the dual objectives of letting them express themselves through play and keep them the hell out of my way.

That's what I'm looking forward to... the look on their faces. Because, superpower or no, that's one thing that I know for certain will be waiting for me under the tree.

Merry Christmas.


GIFT RIFT update

Several years ago, I had an experience not unlike my current Amazon gift certificate/refund thing. Let me tell you a tale.

I’m not especially good with money, and I’ve bounced a check or two (or 30) in my life. So, to combat that, for a time I was working cash-only. That is to say, I had a checking account, but I didn’t write checks… I took out cash and purchased money orders to pay my bills. I had to pay the 62 cents fee or whatever it was to buy the things, but it prevented me from racking up any more $20 overdraft fines.

When I was still working downtown I would walk over to this craphole jewelry store that had a bullet-proof glass enclosed Western Union in the back and buy my money orders. One day, I needed a money order for something like $32. I handed the woman my money and a slip of paper with the amount on it (I’d learned from past experience that it was best to write down the number instead of trying to yell through the two-inch thick glass), she pressed some buttons and handed me back a money order.

A money order for $500.

This is the point of the story in which I usually tell people that I didn’t realize the mistake until I got back to my office -- but that’s a lie I tell to make me sound like an upright citizen. Truth is I noticed it as soon as I got out of line and went to stick it in the envelope with the bill I was paying. I froze for a second, thinking, “Oh my god! That’s a lot of money… what should I do?” There was a sizeable line at the counter, so I just jammed everything into my pocket and walked back to the office.

Once there, I told everyone what had happened. And the consensus was that I should keep the money. And I considered it… I could walk down to any 7-11, cash it, and no-one would be the wiser.

But, ultimately I couldn’t do it. Sure, it wasn’t my screw-up, but it wasn’t my money, either. I stuck the money order back in my pocket and returned to the Western Union.

The same woman was working there, and I handed her the money order back, along with my receipt (for $32) and explained that she gave me the wrong money order. She seemed a little flustered, and told me that she had to call someone to deal with this (she was working in there alone). I didn’t think there’d be so much of a run-around involved, but whatever, I could wait.

Five minutes later her manager stormed into the building, a uniformed police officer in tow. He demanded to know what was going on, and I calmly told him everything I had told the woman behind the counter, which basically amounted to “you gave me the wrong money order.” But this guy didn’t seem to get it, and started grilling me.
MANAGER GUY: How much did you pay for?
ME: I told you, $32.
MG: And you thought that $500 was yours to keep?
ME: No, I didn’t. That’s why I brought it back.
MB: But you only paid for $32!
ME: Right, again, that’s why I brought it back.
I thought the guy was being a bit of a dick, especially considering I just returned $500 that otherwise would be a total loss. Finally it occurs to me that this manager guy is being so aggressive because he thinks I’m running some sort of con, and by god he’s not going to let me get away with it. I’m not sure what he thinks I’m trying to do, because I’m standing there saying look, you gave me more money than I paid for. I just need my $32 money order, please. But then I get pissed off.
ME: Wait a minute. I come back here to return $500 and you bring in a cop? I gave the money back, she has it in her hand right now. You should be thanking me! I mean, what the fuck?!
This whole time the cop is standing there, nodding. He gets it, sees that I’m not trying to rip anyone off. He tells me to calm down, and explains the obvious to the manager: this guy is returning your money, try not to be such a jerk and just say thanks, huh?

Afterwards my co-workers told me I was a sucker for returning the money. Maybe I was.

So. Yesterday I get an email from Amazon’s gift certificate department. It reads:
Thank you for contacting us at

I apologize for the inconvenience caused due to the Gift Certificate.

I've researched and found that you've received the Gift Certificate due to the return of the item "D-Link DI-624 Wireless Cable/DSL Router" on December 9, 2008.

However, if you would like the purchaser to be credited please write back to us.

Clearly, they aren’t getting it that I never bought the thing in the first place, so even though I returned it, no refund is called for. And if they actually sent out another router to the woman who did order it, no refund is due her, either.

But really, I read this as Amazon saying, “Yep, we sent you some money. We can send it to someone else if you want, but otherwise it’s yours to spend.”

I’m hesitant to write back and just say "yes, send it back to the purchaser, please"; because then maybe someone else is getting $50 they didn’t pay for.

I’m really tempted to just spend the money. Amazon is telling me they don’t care, and I don’t really want to try to explain AGAIN how they’ve screwed up. It feels like I've done due diligence in trying to give the money back. Amazon posted total revenue of $8.5 billion in 2005. Would they really miss 50 bucks?

Tell me, what would you do?



Y’know, it doesn’t pay to be a nice guy.

I ordered a bunch of stuff for Christmas this year from I’ve ordered from Amazon many, many times in the past, and never had any problems. So, the boxes start rolling in and I’m excited to get my loot. Then, one day I get an unexpected box. I open it up and it’s a wireless router. Which is cool, but I didn’t order a wireless router, nor did I ask for one for Christmas. Looking at the invoice, I see that it’s not addressed to me at all, it’s someone completely different, in a different state even. Somehow this lady’s merchandise has been put in a box with my name on it.

So, okay, mistakes happen; I’m not steamed about it or anything. I go online and start to wade through their help files. There’s not a convenient way to return merchandise you didn’t order… it’s smooth sailing if you didn’t like what you got, or it was broken, or it was the wrong color… but if it’s something surprising like, say, a wireless router, then it’s a little more difficult.

The problem is Amazon wants the order number of the merchandise to process a return. And I don’t have an order number for this particular thing, because I didn’t order it. So I use the order number for some outstanding stuff that hasn’t arrived yet. My assumption is that my stuff was put in this woman’s box, and right now she’s looking at a juvenile fiction sci-fi book and a pocketknife and saying, “What the fuck? Where’s my router?”

I finally get a return sticker printed out, and pack everything up and ship it back. I was pretty sure that I didn’t follow the correct procedure, but I figured that once the thing was back in-house, they could figure out what to do with it. I even included a quick note explaining that I didn’t order this thing, but I don’t need a refund or anything since, again, I didn’t order it in the first place.

Couple of days later the last few items I ordered came in. So, good, problem solved. Then, a couple of days after that, the same things come AGAIN. It’s a little bit of a pain in the butt since I need to box more crap up and send it back AGAIN, but whatever.

Here’s the thing: I could have probably kept the second wave of stuff. I bet I could have kept the router, too. Amazon might have caught up to me eventually, but then again, maybe not. But, I’m an honest guy, so everything goes back.

Then, just this morning, via email I get a gift certificate from Amazon for $49.99. There’s no information about who sent it, and I’m confused. $49.99 is an odd amount to send if it's a gift, but I’ll gladly spend it. But I figure I better check, and since there’s a phone number right there in the email, I decide to call customer service instead of trying to figure it out via not-so-helpful help files.

While I’m waiting on hold, I notice that the gift certificate has been issued as a refund, and everything clicks. That damn router was about 50 bucks, so they must have received it back, and some braintrust opening boxes sent me a refund.

Again, I could have probably spent it without anyone being any the wiser, but I don’t. I try to explain what I think has happened to the customer service lady, and she’s not really getting it. She ends up transferring the “case” to the gift certificate department, and says I can expect to hear from them later today.

I fully expect to receive another $50 gift certificate from them. And y’know what? I just might spend that one.


#191 In which our hero takes a break from fart jokes to contemplate a real hero.

As previously noted, being a father has changed me. But not only in the humor I find in little kids, but in real, heartfelt ways, too. Both The Scientist and I have noticed our increased reticence to read or listen to news that involves the abuse or death of children. I mean, no one seeks out that kind of stuff, but before kids I would shake my head and say, “Jesus, that’s terrible.” But now? Driving in to work a couple of weeks ago I heard this news story on NPR:

“A woman remains in custody for allegedly putting her infant child in -- CLICK.”

The click was me turning the radio off. Because you just know that that story didn’t end with “--putting her infant child in a pretty dress and letting her eat marshmallows for dinner.” I wasn’t able to avoid reading some horrible news that week, and the story above could have been either a mother who killed her child by putting her in the microwave or the mother who abandoned her child in a garage for the weekend while she went out of town.

We live in a horrible world.

The Scientist and I talked about this a fair amount before having children. Because we do live in a horrible world where things like this happen all the time. And as a society we’ve become so numb to it that we just shake our heads and turn the page. What right, I wondered, did we have to condemn our offspring to live in such a shitty place? We can only protect them for so long, then they’re off on their own, dealing with crackheads and rapists and murderers well after their mother and I are long gone. My urge to protect them was strong, and this was before I ever saw their wrinkly little faces with my own eyes. And now? Now I can’t even listen to the radio news without projecting how terrible it would be if it was my kids.

So it really struck me when I heard about James Kim.

You heard the story. Guy drives his wife and two little girls through the mountains, gets stuck in the snow, goes out on foot to try to find help, ends up freezing to death. A tragedy to be sure, but a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have given it much more thought than, “Wow, that sucks.”

But now I have children of my own, and I can better imagine what went on in that car.

Maybe what hits me hardest is that what caused this in the first place is that James Kim missed his turn. Something I’ve done a thousand times. He missed his turn, then got on a road that the map told him would be a short cut. By 2AM the weather was too bad to continue, so they stopped for the night. By morning their car was covered with snow and it was impossible to go on.

That first day probably wasn’t that bad. The family had some food, they could run the car to stay warm. The biggest challenge would have been keeping the kids entertained. His children, at the time, were four and seven months old. The seven-month-old would have been easy, since kids that age don’t do a lot more than eat, poop and sleep. But the four-year-old? My daughter is three, and she’s already smart enough and active enough that most entertainment won’t hold her for long, not more than an hour or so. If the Kims were lucky they had a portable DVD player and lots of movies. Or at least books to read. For an entire day and night they sat on that snowy road, waiting for the inevitable truck to come rumbling by.

But that truck never came. After sitting for a day and night, they must have become worried. Did they start to bicker? Did his wife start to chew him out for missing the turn? Did he scream at her for reading the map wrong? Probably not. Reports say that he kept the spirits of his family high by acting like "they were on a camp-out."

Either way, by day two it must have become scary. The four-year-old would no doubt have picked up on their apprehension. She may have become whiney, I know my little girl would have. “Why can’t we go? When will a car come? I’m cold. Daddy, I’m cold!” How long did that go on? How many times did they tell her, “Soon now, honey. A car will be along soon.”

They sat in that car for six days, waiting for help.

After day three, you have to think their hopes of being found were pretty much exhausted. The reality of the situation would have sunk in long before: stranded in the snow, miles from any town, no-one new exactly where they were, out of cell phone range. As early as day two I bet James Kim started thinking about going for help.

From all reports he was a smart guy. A computer guy, well-known and very successful. But chances are he didn’t have the survival skills necessary to live out in the elements for days. He certainly didn’t have the gear. And he must have known it. All he had were sneakers and lightweight clothes.

How many times did he look at the faces of his wife and children, scared, desperate, before finally deciding to head out? What was the tripping point from clinging to the hope that they would be found, to breaking through that first waist-high snowdrift?

The plan was that he’d walk until 1PM, then turn around if he hadn’t found help. He never came back.

I wonder what happened at 1 o’clock. Did he think he was near help and decided to go just a little longer? Or was that something he just told his wife so she wouldn’t worry? Maybe he never intended to stop until he found help. That somehow sounds right to me; that’s what I’d do.

With the faces of his wife and children firmly in mind, he kept trudging through the ice and snow. It was freezing, and at some point he would have lost feeling in his hands and feet. But he kept going. How could he stop? He had to save him family.

It breaks my heart to think that the guy may have realized at some point that he wasn’t going to make it. That he was lost or simply didn’t have the will to go on. Some sources say that he probably became disoriented or even delusional as hyperthermia crept in. I find this darkly comforting. I really hope the guy’s mind went elsewhere, because that would be so much better than having to deal with the fact that you’d never see your wife and kids alive again. That maybe no-one would.

James Kim is a hero. He took on a task that he knew he had only a marginal chance of achieving, but he did it to save his wife and family. Of course, his family survived. And if he had stayed put he would be alive today, too. But he didn’t -- he couldn’t -- because there was far too much at stake.

He was trying to protect his children from a harsh world.


#190 In which our hero stages an impromptu bring your daughter to work day due to Bacterial Conjunctivitis.

That is to say, pink eye.

The Scientist noticed that Lily’s eyes were a little crusty Monday evening, and we both jumped to the conclusion that it was pink eye. Lily had a bout of this when she was two, and we still had the medicated eye drops from then. We got a jump on things and medicated her, hoping that the medicine hadn’t congealed into poison during the year it sat on a dusty shelf.

Now, the last time this happened I seem to remember Lily not being exactly enthusiast about eye drops, but not being especially difficult, either. My, how things have changed! At first she was okay with the daddy-is-going-to-hold-me-down game, but once the first drop hit her eye she was done with that bullshit. She squirmed and thrashed about, screaming “Get off me! Get off me! No! It burns! It burns!” Vampires splashed with holy water have reacted more calmly than my little girl.

I took her into see the doctor the next morning (the same boring doctor who always seems to be available for last-minute appointments) and he confirms it’s pink eye. And he says it’s okay to use the drops we already have. But, as anyone with kids already knows, she’s only slightly less contagious than Typhoid Mary, and can’t go to day care.

So she comes to work with me.

I’m lucky in that the agency is pretty family-friendly. People are always bringing in their kids, so it’s cool that Lily tagged along. Especially considering that it’s impossible for The Scientist to do her job and watch a kid at the same time; for me, it’s only very difficult.

Thankfully, I had a light day, and was able to blow off a meeting, leaving me more or less free to mind my child. And finally the sofa pays off! And even more critical is the portable DVD player. I set it up on the ottoman, plopped Lily on the sofa and let her pick out movies. She remained entertained for nearly the entire day, by Spongebob mostly.

Planning this outing the day before I had serious reservations. But Lily was really good and, honestly, I loved having her here. We walked around the agency a couple of times, meeting people. I think my kids are just about the most adorable children on the planet, so I thoroughly enjoyed playing the proud papa.

And Lily didn’t let me down -- she was absolutely charming and polite the entire time. She said please and thank you with minimum prompting. She would have been free with the hugs, too, if I didn’t warn everyone that she was a plague-bearer. And who can resist that crazy red hair, y’know?

It wasn’t my most productive day, but it was the most fun. And considering that most everyone gave her candy and/or toys, she enjoyed it too. So much that this morning she says to me, “Daddy, I want to go to work with you!”

Sorry, kid. Daddy’s got real work to do today. We’ll talk next time you get sick.


#189 In which our hero relates the events of the great deluge, that is to say, last Thursday.

Actually, this happened November 30, but I’m only getting around to writing about it now. Mostly because I thought the photos would tell the tale much better than I.

So, as briefly related by The Scientist, our basement flooded. Well, it would have flooded if we didn’t happen to be down there when the water started to trickle, then flow, then gush into our basement. It was actually quite impressive how quickly it got out of control. Something else that we wouldn’t have realized until too late had we not been down there -- the drain isn’t the lowest part of the basement.

Water came in between the bottom of the wall and the floor, roared toward the drain, past the drain, and toward the finished part of the basement. See?

We mopped like crazy and tried to keep ahead, all the while falling rapidly behind. Our first thought was that this was related to the sewer work in the front yard. The Scientist got on the phone and chewed the contractor a new hole, and told him to get someone out there NOW! Forty-five minutes later, a bored and very wet plumber was tramping around our backyard.

Now, the backyard. It floods. This is something we learned after the first hard rain after moving in; it’s annoying, but otherwise harmless (or so we thought). So it came as no big surprise that there was standing water in the backyard, especially considering how hard it had been raining.

Bored plumber knocks on the back door. I stick my head out and have this conversation.

BORED PLUMBER: Have you seen your backyard?
ME: Yeah, I know, it floods.
BP: Well, that’s your problem.
ME: Uh huh.
BP: The water is flowing toward your house. It should travel away.
ME: Right. Okay, so what can we do about this?
BP: Well, you should re-grade the backyard so water travels away--
ME: Yeah, yeah; what can we do about it tonight?
BP: Um. Nothing.
He sloshes around the house, makes sure the drains are flowing (they are), says he feels for our plight and leaves. We struggle for another hour or so. I turn on some music.

The Scientist and I have some tense moments since we’re both pretty much at a loss for what to do. The rain isn’t showing any sign of slowing, but we can’t stay up all night mopping. But if we stop it’s going to be a flood. Finally, she realizes that we need sandbags or something to build a little damn to hold the water in. I agree and head out to the only place open at 2AM on a weekday: Wal-Mart.

And Wal-Mart is closed.

I thought that fucking place was always open. I drive to Target; also closed. The only place I can think of for sure that’s open is the grocery store. But I can’t imagine they have anything that would help us. I mean, it’s not like they sell sandbags, right? Then again…

In a fit of inspiration brought about by desperation, I get an idea. I buy every bag of rice they have. Turns out rice works pretty damn well as sandbags.

We shore up everything as well as we can, and finally drag ourselves off to bed. Come morning, the basement is none the worse for wear; the ricebags held.

Then comes the inevitable calls to contractors to discuss how we can fix the yard so this never happens again. Turns out the ultimate answer is “expensively.”

For the first time in my life I find myself praying for bitterly cold weather. See, once the water freezes, it’s no longer a problem.

Until Spring.


#188 In which our hero recounts his wife’s stress and the detrimental affect it has on her.

When I was 17, I broke out into hives, brought on by stress. I was president of the senior class, and we were in the middle of the annual Sweetheart Campaign. Sweetheart week was the yearly fundraising event staged by my high school; a dramatic struggle between classes to see who could raise the most money. Everyone took it very seriously, and there was great renown to be had to the class that won.

My class had come in second during our freshman year, and had then dominated every year thereafter (our secret? Pepperoni rolls. People could not buy enough of those things). It would have been heartbreaking if we blew it our senior year. But things looked close… all more so because I had made a critical error in planning. Over the week each class conducted a bunch of different fundraising activities; spaghetti dinners, door-to-door sales, dances… anything, frankly, that might raise a buck. My critical error was the senior class car wash. Sweetheart was in the fall for, as I said, a week (Saturday-Saturday). Being that you want your car wash to be the weekend, we could have done it the first Saturday, or the last. I decided to do it the last, so we could better focus on other things.

The first Saturday of the week was beautiful. The second Saturday, it snowed.

Dedicated parents came in anyway; we scraped away the ice and snow before washing the cars. “Why didn’t you do this last Saturday?” everyone asked.

So, as we were waiting for the final money tallies to be counted, I was beside myself thinking that I had torpedoed the entire class’s efforts. It was the first and last time I ever broke out in hives.

I’ve been thinking about this incident lately because The Scientist was a basket case all last week. And the main reason for this is because she was planning a party.

My wife’s first M. (Hi Meghan! Oops, I meant “M.” Eh, fuck it, cat’s out of the bag, now) was having a significant birthday (I don’t want to give it away but it was somewhere between the ages of 38 and 42) and The Scientist thought it would be fun to throw her a surprise party. Of course, I’ve been hinting to my wife for years now that I’ve never had a surprise party and thought it would be so much fun if someone someday would hold one for me… but that hasn’t happened yet so you see where I rank…


To make it doubleplusgood fun, she decided it should be an 80’s-themed party. She got Meghan’s parents onboard, and they hooked her up with a list of Meghan’s friends, and it was party on!

And shortly thereafter, the stress began.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very helpful in cases like this. First and foremost because I don’t see what there is to stress about. You make some plans, invite some people, order a cake, and there you have it. You can’t control if anyone actually comes or not, and stressing about something over which you have no control is a little pointless, I say.

But The Scientist doesn’t think like I do. She fretted about everything… Would people come? Would they dress up in 80’s attire like it said on the invite? How should she send out the invite? Email? Cards? What kind of food should she serve? What if people don’t like the food? Will people actually come (again with that one)? Can kids come? What if Meghan finds out ahead of time?

Thankfully, Meghan’s parents agreed to have it at their house, because I think if we had the party at our house The Scientist’s head would have exploded.

Invites went out, but then people weren’t responding quickly enough. What, is no-one going to show? What’s wrong with these people? Do I have the right addresses? Will there be enough food? How am I supposed to know how much food to get if people won’t tell me if they’re coming or not?!

As the stress ratcheted up, I tried (in my own dumb, heavy-handed fashion) to help: Honey, you can’t control if people come or not. Even if they RSVP they might not show up. You can’t control this, so why don’t you just relax?

This advice, as it turns out, was not found to be helpful.

As the date drew near, the stress skyrocketed. I have so much to do! How am I going to get it all done? In cases like this, I try to talk her down from the ledge using a technique that I call “pointing out the obvious.” It should be noted that this technique has never worked.
THE SCIENTIST: I have so much to do!
ME: What do you have to do, exactly?
TS: Well, to start, I have to wrap Meghan’s present. I’m going to get a gift bag out of the basement now.
ME: Wait, so, when you say “wrap her present” you mean “put this box into a bag” ?
TS: Look, I’m stressing, so help me or butt out.
ME: Hey, if you want, I’ll take the arduous task putting stuff into a bag off your shoulders.
Come Friday (the day before the party) stress had pretty much hit maximum levels, despite 95% of the work already being done. My sole part in all this was to make a batch of guacamole (which I did). I again tried to point out the obvious™.
ME: You’re being ridiculous.
TS: Look, I have stuff to do, so you can berate me or you can help me.
ME: Are those my only options?
TS: Yes. No! Matter of fact, you can help me or shut the fuck up.
ME: So, berating is off the table? That’s bullshit. Who decided that?
TS: I did.
ME: (drawing her in for a hug) Honey, come on. Relax. I want your party to be a success. I mean, we’ve worked so hard all week.
TS: I should kick you square in the balls.
Of course, the party was a big hit. Meghan was surprised, people made the effort to dress up like they did in the 80’s (even though I have to say that wearing a polo shirt and flipping up the collar isn’t much of an effort, really), cake was eaten, gifts were given… something was even broken, making it an official party. All in all, I great success.

And, as I maintained all along, nothing to stress about.