.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Effortlessly Average

Sort of half-heartedly leading the charge into mediocrity since, oh, let's say around 1987 or so.

My Photo
Location: Roaming (additional charges may apply), Argentina

Proof that with internet access and a powerful laxative, even insipid people will blog; the place where your excellence and my mediocrity collide; where my Karma whips ass on your dogma.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Prince of Dorkness

Many people claim to receive messages from God, although apparently these tend to normally run along the lines of "Kill! Kill! Kill!" Mine, however, occurred the day my son was born and consisted of a snickering God saying "Jesus, you're screwed now."

BuddhaWife and I had been married for somewhere around a year when she was invited to the baby shower of one of her friends. Just before she left she told me she also had a gift for me and handed me a small, colorful gift bag. Her face betrayed her excitement. I removed the tissue paper and pulled out a tiny pair of shoes. Baby booties. Huh? Now normally I try to be one of the sharper knives in the drawer, but as she was on her way to a baby shower, my first thought was that somehow she'd mixed up the presents and given me her friends' gift instead. My second thought was "dang, she's really giving a cheap-ass present to her friend." It never occurred to me that these booties were symbolic.

"What am I going to do with these?" I asked.

That's me: The Prince of Dorkness.

Since we'd met I'd been the one who really wanted kids. Well, not right in the beginning, mind you. It's not as if we'd only known each other for two days and I was already talking children. I may be The Prince of Dorkness, but a stack of restraining orders has taught me that women you've only just met don't normally like it when you discuss baby names during your first date. Go figure. Besides, BW maintained that she wanted to live a while as a married couple before becoming parents.

Then my career started to take off and she decided it was time. Rather than clue me in, however, she decided to surprise me and get pregnant on her own. To that end, she stopped taking her pills and figured nature would take its course. After several months it finally happened, which she was announcing to me with the pair of booties I held in one hand as I gave her a look of confusion.

She perched on the arm of the couch, her brown eyes and raised eyebrows willing my brain to put two and two together. Eventually the wattage amped up enough to activate the lightbulb. And all this time I didn't even know I was trying. Had I not enjoyed hot baths so much it may have happened sooner.

We'd also said that when we did have kids we wanted them to be close together in age. So not long after The Puffinator was born, we decided it was time for another. Rather than plan it out, we again figured we'd simply do nothing to prevent it and let nature take its course. Our thinking was that since it took six months for it to happen the first time, perhaps the same would be true for the second. Sounded reasonable, if you subscribe to the belief that two weeks is the same as six months. She was pregnant faster than it takes Pat Roberston to make an ass of himself.

In direct contrast to The Puffinator, however, FlyBoy was not as easy a birth. He was huge, somewhere along the lines of a water buffalo. The Daughter's entrance into our lives happened so quickly I didn't have time to truly consider what was going on. Around 7pm BW said she was uncomfortable and suggested we call the hospital. The nurse suggested we come in for an ultrasound just to "check on things," but insisted we wouldn't be staying. Two hours later, The Daughter was born. It was so unexpected, in fact, that our normal doctor was unavailable and we had to partake of the OB-GYN on staff that night. She was a very nice young woman with a very famous name and while the irony is lost on The Puffinator, I find it humorous that her birth certificate bears the signature of "Cindy Crawford."

FlyBoy's birth, however, dragged out far longer. Two weeks past her due date, BW had to be induced. This time I was able to be more a part of the whole birthing process. I felt qualified; mostly. We'd been to the classes and we now knew the proper way to breath when passing something the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon. Personally I'd think the proper way to go about it would be stand up in the stirrups, grab your husband's jewels, and growl in the voice of the devil himself "Remove this creature before it claws its way out my chest." But wouldn't you know it, modern medicine suggests something less abrupt. They actually recommend husband and wife work as a team. As the father, my job was to bend her in half and keep the ice chips flowing. Otherwise it was to stay the hell out of the way. Frankly my nuts prefer this method.

You know how a child will bug you endlessly to help with something you'd just as soon do yourself, so you give the child a completely trivial task, just to shut him up, then talk up his participation as if he's assisting in the drafting of the Bill of Rights? This is exactly how I felt when they'd dressed me in the blue paper ensemble and gave me the vitally important task of "stirrup." While my wife labored at passing a bowling ball through her abdomen, I was in charge of holding up her right leg. After all that preparation and here I was, reduced to a piece of furniture.

I stood there watching my wife give birth and was equal parts amazed at the enormity of it all and uncomfortable that so many people were viewing with interest that part of my wife's body. Unfortunately, when I get nervous or uncertain, I tend to act like a wise-ass. Call it a defense mechanism.

The doctor reached for another device. At first I didn't know what it was. That is, until he spread his fingers apart and I caught a momentary glint of shiny, stainless steel blades before he quickly slipped them inside my wife and started snipping away like he was pruning a hedge.

My eyes widened in horror to what sounded like someone cutting a thick piece of cardboard. -KER CHUUUUNK!-

"Aaaauuughhh! What are you doing, man?! I gotta use that later!!"

The doc looked up at me. "Don't worry, we'll stitch it up just like new."

My life needs a rewind button. If ever there was proof of this need, it was when I replied "oh yeah? Why don't you throw a couple extra stitches in there and make it like brand new?"

Saturday, November 05, 2005

How to Irritate the Hell Out of Me

Irritation: Be a software manufacturer (I'm not saying who, specifically, but let's pretend your company's name rhymes with "my-ho-loft") whose "upgrade" has caused my peripheral systems to fail. Then refer me to those manufacturers to work out a solution because you don't feel it's your problem that your monopolistic, substandard operating system change crashed my other hardware. Furthermore, don't give a shit when I tell you that since it was nothing the peripheral companies did that caused their products to fail, they're going to charge me for the solution.

Solution: piss and moan like an impotent eunuch, then bend over and take up the tailpipe before whipping out your debit card and picking up the phone.

Follow up solution: order book on voodoo curses.

Friday, November 04, 2005

And the Horse You Rode in On

My wife and I very seldom have a disagreement. Before you start rolling your eyes, don't worry; this isn't going to be a gush-fest about my wife. I do enough of that in real life to make Mr. Rogers cranky. I used to think that made us weird. Well, actually, it was a few years after we'd met that I began wondering if our never having had a fight made our association somehow unhealthy. But in the beginning I was glad to escape what had become the constant drama that was every relationship I'd ever had. Don't believe me? Come; let us peel back the scabby - yes I said it: scabby - surface and peer into the fetid cesspool where I've buried my failed relationships.

I know; stinks, doesn't it?

Here we go. Here's the decayed remnants of my 2 1/2 years with Becky. Phew, 20 years sure hasn't done much for the smell. Becky was the one who decided that having sex with my brother was no different than sleeping with me. I guess she decided there were enough common DNA points between my brother and me to make us basically interchangeable. But hey, at least she asked me first. When I refused to allow it, her reply was "I don't see why you're so bent out of shape about this. If I had a sister, I'd let you do her." Picture hearing that, then glance over to me. I sat there with my mouth open. [blink blink] [I rub my eyes to be sure I'm still awake]. The words banged around in my head like an out of control pinball [blink blink]. Yeah, it's easy to promise something you know there's no chance in hell you'll ever have to produce. Let's move on, shall we?

Ah, Tammy; my first wife. Notice how this one literally swallows the light? We were young; she was really hot; I was really horny. When she decided she wanted to be with Brian instead, her reasoning was that perhaps I was "too good to her." Hmph. So I guess if I beat the shit out of her, she'd stay? The punchline was when she called several months later to say she wanted me to give - yes, give - her all the furnishings my parents had purchased for us as a wedding present (it was all in storage; I had to move back in with mom and dad when she left) so she could furnish a new place for she and Brian. Seems she and Brian had to get their own place because his roommates kept walking in on them during sex. No wonder this memory feels so... I don't know, oily.

Oooo look at this. I haven't seen this one in a while. Sharilyn. Shari was a piece. When we met she did everything to display her interest in me but leap onto my desk and wrap her legs around my neck. She spent a lot of time telling everyone how I was "the one." She'd call me at all hours of the night to tell me that she needed me lying next to her blah blah blah a bunch of stuff no one cares about blah blah blah. The point is that only two days after the last time she was telling her mom and dad - in front of me, by the way - how perfect I was yadda yadda, she decided she was done with us so -click- she flicked the switch and just shut off any affection for me. When I had the nerve to get hurt, she had the audacity to call me "psycho." WTF?!

[deep breath] I think it's time we leave, don't you? Proceed to the showers down the hall and I'll see you on the other side.

Coming on the heals of all that, having a woman like BuddhaWife was refreshing. No drama. No having to guess what she's thinking or feeling. No more having to wonder when she'll decide it's time she moved on. The few times we have disagreed, it's very tame. We don't shout or throw things or call each other names; we don't regurgitate past offenses for use as weapons.

Over the years I've had others tell me this is unhealthy. Relationships, they say, require these occasional eruptions to clear the air and relieve the inevitable pressure that builds between two people who live in close proximity for long periods of time. Besides, they continue, make-up sex is amazing.

I say "bull." Well, actually I only think that; what I say is "yeah, you may be right. Of course if I buy that philosophy I guess I'll have to pick more fights with BuddhaWife even through I'm not angry with her." The fact is we've never been angry enough at each other to raise our voices. If the pressure doesn't build, there's nothing to cause the eruption. Perhaps it's because we find little ways to relieve the pressure before it builds into an explosion. And the sex is just fine, thank you.

I typically employ the SBC methodology of Stop, Breath, Count to ten.
BuddhaWife uses "whatever."

Let me explain what I mean. I hate going for a tool and it's not where it should be. I don't have three hammers because I have a fetish for steel and carbonized epoxy. I have three hammers because I have to buy new ones every so often when the old ones evaporate into another dimension of the space-time continuum.

Remembering seeing BW hanging a picture with it, I'll ask "Hon, where's my hammer?"

"It should be in your tool box."

"Yeah, but it's not. I was just there."

"Well, I may have put it in the drawer in the kitchen."

I'll look in every drawer in there and unless it's figured out how to disguise itself as a steak knife or spoonula, the hammer's not there.

"Huuuuunnnn, it's not heeeeerrrrrre!"

"Well then I don't know wheeeerrrre it is."


"Dammit woman, will you start putting my tools back in the box when you use them?!"

"Yeah. Whatever."

I'm also a nut for protecting our identity. I've been a victim of ID theft twice, so I'm the one who insists that if it has our name on it and we don't need to keep it, it goes through the shredder. I even bought one of those ridiculously expensive things that will grind credit cards, staples, or the occasional door-to-door salesman. Nevertheless, every so often I'll find a receipt just thrown in the trash.


I'll retrieve the receipt from the trash and show it to her.

"Hon, I wish you'd please put these in the shred pile. You know how I feel about this."

"Alright, whatever" she'll reply.

I also do all the cooking. BuddhaWife does the cleanup. That's our deal. On Sundays I make a big breakfast for the family. However, sometimes there are too many dishes in the kitchen from Saturday's dinner to be able to make breakfast, which our kids remind us is an unacceptable delay.

After asking a couple times I'll finally say to BW "Hon, can you please do these tonight so I can make breakfast tomorrow?" Actually I may have said it like "Geez, you've got to do these tonight because everyone's tired of having breakfast at 2pm."

But halfway through my PowerPoint presentation she'll interrupt with "Alright. Whatever. I'll do them before I go to bed."

Or when I insist she lock the doors and windows before leaving the house, only to find something open when I arrive home before she does. "Whatever."

Or coming home to an empty house to find the 2500 watt halogen lights still on - the kind of lights 20/20 demonstrated can start a fire if left burning unattended. "Whatever."

Last week I bought a few bags of candy for Halloween. I admit I'm the one who caved into a sugar craving and opened the bags but she's the one who kept dipping into them.

One night I heard the familiar crinkle of plastic packaging.



"Will you please stop eating those?! They're for trick or treaters."

"Whatever; we'll get more. We're going to need more anyway because three bags won't be nearly enough."

"You know, I notice that for years now you say 'whatever' when responding to something I've said. Is that just part of your vernacular? Like the way people say 'ya know' forty times during a sentence?"

"No, it's just 'whatever.'"

"Well what does it mean?"

"Fuck you."

...with A View of the Styx

I'm going to Hell. Believe me there are many reasons why, but after my most recent foot feast I now have my own room reserved.

We had just finished Trick-or-Treating. The kids had their very full bags and we also still had a large bowl-full of candy remaining. So I proceeded to divvy it up between the two kids, pouring half the bowl into each of their bags.

They tried to get me to agree that they should be allowed to gorge themselves on it that night, claiming it would make it easier on us because then at least it would all be gone.

You gotta love their reasoning skills.

My reply was that that this is a whole lot more candy than they usually have and I'm not going to allow them to pig out on it because aside from having to listen to them groan over the resulting stomach aches, it's also far more calories than they should have in such a short period of time. I finished with "...and I'm not going to have you two - at your age - ballooning to 150 pounds like those porky kids we see when we occasionally drop by McDonald's."

If the proverbial pin had dropped right then, it would have sounded like a crowbar. But they both agreed to only a piece or two a day.

Don't look at me that way; I thought I was being a good dad. My kids are still pretty young, at least from my perspective and while neither is visibly overweight, thank God, I don't see the need to tempt fate. From my own personal experience I can tell you that it's a whole hell of a lot easier to pack on the weight than it is to shed it.

Now I feel like a complete shit because after they left the room my wife informed me that our daughter does, in fact, weigh nearly that much. I might just as well have pushed my nose up and made oinking sounds at her.

Yes, Satan, that's "Kelly" with a "Y."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

How to Irritate the Hell Out of Me

Irritation: Pack the paper towels so tightly into the dispenser that when you try to pull one out all you receive is a tiny scrap.

Corrective action: relieve the pressure by sliding my index fingers up the sides of the opening and yanking out about 175 of the extra towels. Lay extra towels on sink so they can be returned to the dispenser when they next clean the bathroom.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ugh, I Could't Eat Another Bite. Wait, Are Those Brownies?

It has begun. With the coming of Halloween, we mark the beginning of the most important annual quest in every adult’s year: to make it through March wearing the same size clothing.

As Americans we celebrate opportunities to eat, especially during this time of year. And my family was the worst when I was growing up because every event that drew us together involved lots of food as well. But that’s not limited to only my family. As the world’s melting pot, we Americans spend half our time celebrating some holiday or other and the other half sitting in the McDonald’s drive-thru, planning our next meal, or – to hear my wife say it – angling for sex.

From Labor Day to Easter, the calendar is littered with holidays during which it’s perfectly acceptable – indeed, expected – for us to consume obscene numbers of calories before falling asleep drooling in front of the TV with your pants unzipped. Or is that just me? Surely I can’t be the only guy out there who will stand in front of the open fridge snacking on a bag of Doritos while I try to decide what to make for dinner. Not that I really do that, but I could. The extended holiday season – or “The 7th Circle of Hell,” as I like to call it (at least as it pertains to my physique) – starts with Halloween, builds through Thanksgiving and peaks with that absolute orgy of gluttony that is Christmas, followed shortly thereafter by Valentine’s Day and winding down with a gut-busting Easter feast.

And really this is the perfect time of year for comfort eating. From October to April we put away the tank tops, shorts, and bathing suits and pull out the big sweaters and jackets, not only for warmth, but to hide last week’s Hagen Daas. In the colder months we recreate with hot chocolate and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s “Orgasmic Fudge Brownie Diabetic Explosion.” In the summer, we might opt for watermelon and iced tea, but not during winter. By being forced indoors we’re also subjected to the constant calling from the Oreos in the cabinet. Wait – shhhh, you hear that? It’s them. I can hear their siren song right now. No.. no, on second thought the sudden tightening of my belt tells me that it’s not the Oreos, it’s that pint of Phish Food in the freezer.

That’s my super power, by the way: the ability to gain weight through osmosis. While others received the power to fly, become invisible, or look really smoking hot in a skin-tight lycra suit, I was granted the ability to gain five pounds from sniffing a measly grape. Spiderman has his spidey-sense to alert him to imminent danger. I have the ability to sit at my desk on the third floor and suddenly know if someone entering the basement parking garage is transporting a Boston Crème pie for Marketing’s pot luck. I am… Fatman! For the average human, consuming an extra 3,200 calories will result in one added pound of weight. But not for Fatman! As the world’s only functioning osmotic I am able to pack on a gravity shifting 6,423.78 pounds for every 1,000 calories I consume. “Come Boy Blubber, to the Fat-mobile! Shop-Rite is oppressing the Twinkies by stocking them in the back next to the imitation cheese spread!” “Holy remote locations, Fatman, no one will be able to find them there!” [queue the cheesy super hero music]

But I’m getting a bit far a-field. The point I’m trying to make is that there’s few significant holidays during the warmer months not because fewer historical events occurred during that time, but because people need the time to shed their holiday weight. No one wants to parade around in July showing everyone the body that Mrs. See built.

Every year it’s the same. I resolve to control my cravings and finish the season using the same hole on my belt. If I were really lucky, I’d even lose just enough weight so that my stomach doesn’t giggle when I brush my teeth. Then Halloween comes and in the course of trying to be a good dad I lose sight of my goal. As a responsible parent it’s my job to check the kids’ candy for any foreign objects or other such maladies that would seek to do their little bodies harm.

Each November 1st, my kids venture downstairs and go directly for their candy bags. Amid the sudden howler monkey torrent of whining and carrying on I pick out “Hey, who ate all my candy!?”

I wet my chocolate stained lips. “I had to -urp. I was checking it, you know, to be sure it’s safe.”

“But you ate all the chocolate stuff!”

“Yes, and it appears to be perfectly safe, too.”

“But you didn’t leave me any! All that’s left is the Sweet Tarts and hard candies!”

“Yeah, I don’t really like those, but I’m sure they’re fine.”

By the way, what message are we sending our children when we tell them we have to taste their candy before they eat any so we can be sure it’s safe? “Here son, let me try that first. And if I die a frothing convulsive death, don’t eat any more of that kind.”

Anyway, such is the life of Fatman. I recognize the awesome responsibilities associated with being both a super hero and a concerned dad. I also understand the benefits of comfort food. I once knew a mother who administered her parental counseling duties with physical activity. When one of her daughters would suffer a failed relationship, for example, this mother would encourage the child to hit the gym for a hard, satisfying hour of aerobics. I say there’s to no trauma that can’t be dulled by the flow of sweet corn syrup through your veins. I say when you wake from your sugar coma, everything will be better.

Of course there’s risks associated with this kind of philosophy. It means when I’m lying on the beach someone will inevitably begin throwing buckets of water on me in an effort to keep my skin moist while they determine the best way to haul me back to sea. It means biologists will rhetorically wonder what causes these noble creatures to beach themselves. It means people will assume you know more about what’s in a Twinkie than how to please a woman. It means when you board a crowded elevator, someone will invariably glance over to the brass plate engraved with the car’s weight limit. It means you have to take someone’s word that your shoes are shined or that your zipper’s down. It means hearing the bathroom scale scream “OH GOD NO-OOOO!” when you walk up to it.

But let’s not forget the advantages. I’m able to wear a tank top outside in 27 degree weather and still feel warm; when I go to the beach, I’m the only one who gets a tan; I have plenty of extra skin in case I ever need a skin graft; when I die, my “essential oils” will keep an entire village of Eskimos warm for the winter; my shoes stay dry when it rains; If I lose my front teeth and don’t shower for a month, I’m virtually guaranteed a spot on the Jerry Springer show; and if I should die in a fire, the area would smell like S’mores.

So loosen those belts, unsnap those jeans, and raise your spoons with me to that testament to over-indulgence known as THE HOLIDAYS! Then we’ll all visit Bovine’s Big and Tall Store together in April.

- The Number of People Stunned by My Mediocrity