Monday, July 9, 2012

Satire Again

For your reading pleasure, here's another satire news story I wrote. Again, I don't know why The Onion won't return my many calls, emails, tweets, letters, and ransom notes. (And I have to find some use for the skills I acquired on my high school newspaper staff.)

High School Student Defies Convention with Unusual Prom Date

Leeman, IN — Doing his own thing has never been difficult for Leeman High School student, Steven Vallas. So when the idea hit him to ask a rather unusual date to his high school prom, he never questioned it. He simply sent an email, explaining his situation and what he was hoping it would prove to the community. And when the invitee received the message, it was with more than a little trepidation.

"I remember thinking to myself, 'Is he serious?'" said the unconventional prom date. "But after talking to him and realizing his intent, I was totally on-board. And now I'm really excited about it! I've heard that prom is a big deal in Leeman."

To make sure there weren't any problems on the big night, Steven met with school officials. He assured Leeman Principal Peter Krenek that he wasn't just trying to be different. He thought it would be good to show the people of Leeman what it meant to do something for the right reasons.

"When I first spoke to Steven, I laughed. I actually thought he was making a joke," said Krenek. "But we talked at length and now that I see where he's coming from, it makes perfect sense. We're going to allow him to bend the rules on this one. We figured one exception couldn't hurt."

But an exception like that can cause quite a stir in a community like Leeman, as school officials found out the following week. Krenek states that no less than 15 students have come to him with similar requests. And he's had to deny each of them categorically.

"Explaining how Steven's request is different is a little hard for the students to take. Everyone wants to be the exception, and it just wouldn't work. I mean, can you imagine if there were 16 students with dates like that?" Krenek chuckled, shaking his head. "Utter chaos."

Most students have shown there support of the symbolic gesture. Senior Kimberley Molney is one of them.

"I think it's just great. It really shows the kind of person Steven is, to think outside the box and take a stand for something he believes in," said Molney. "And while I think the prom photo they take may be a little strange, I think it'll be great for Leeman to see something like that for a change."

For Vallas and his unusual date, this will likely be an unforgettable prom. And for the schoolmates and parents who haven't heard the news yet, it may be even more unforgettable. But Krenek assures everyone that it will be under control.

"We expect a bit of a backlash for the people who don't know yet," said Krenek. "But we'll have a specialized team of counselors and medics on hand to attend to anyone who succumbs to the initial shock in a more direct way. Still, we think it'll be a fun night."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mild-Mannered Alter Ego

Besides this blog, I have no outlet for the satire stories I've written. And writing fake news stories "just for the fun of it" is really sad if I'm the only one who ever reads them. So for a taste of something different today, here is a satire story that I would send to The Onion if they took outside submissions (but they don't). I hope you enjoy it (but you won't).

Newest Superman Movie Rebooted Mid-film

CHICAGO — Fans were given a sneak peak of the latest film in the Superman franchise last night at Uptown Theatre. And many were surprised to find that the Zack Snyder-directed Superman: Man of Steel not only rebooted the series, but rebooted itself midway through the film.

"In the middle of the first fight scene against General Zod, the movie just kinda skipped," said audience member, Daniel Franklin. "All of a sudden, some other guy was dressed as Superman and he was flying around the city like nothing was happening. We all thought the reel got spliced or something."

The remainder of the film ignores the unresolved plotlines from the beginning of the film, eliminates the villains, retells the superhero origin story, and recasts Superman from Henry Cavill to Jake Gyllenhaal.

In a controversial move last year, Warner Brothers greenlighted a series reboot of the franchise after the less-than-stellar box office numbers for its last reboot, 2006's Superman Returns. Warner Brothers followed that with a series reboot at the 78-minute mark of the film, an unprecedented move in modern cinema.

"We just felt that we should free the audience from the events of the first half of the film," said Warner Brothers executive Timothy Cameron. "The Superman series was really painted into a corner with that first act. And it's really nobody's fault. The people in charge at the beginning of the film didn't really know what they were doing."

The sneak peak has garnered mixed reviews. Many in attendance left before the conclusion of the film, citing "uncontrollable anger" when asked for their feelings on the film. Some were simply confused.

"I guess I understand the need to reboot if the plot has gotten to a point that it can't be salvaged. But I'll be honest… I was lost for a good 20 minutes," said attendee Jason Garner. "And while it was freeing to ignore that ridiculous part at the beginning where Superman cuts glass with his eyelashes, it was tough to follow the second half with all the booing."

Many in attendance at the sneak preview were very vocal about their hopes that the movie changes before it's released. The film's producers stressed the fact that this was just a sneak peak, citing that the film is not in its final form.

"You have to understand, this is essentially a rough-cut of the film," said executive producer Lloyd Phillips. "I hope they remember that they're just watching a sneak peak. The music may end up being totally different, and we're definitely going to have to tweak the color saturation on those sunset scenes. Those are hard to watch when they're not just right."

The film opens worldwide in June 2013.

"But don't worry!" Phillips added. "We're not touching the plot. It will be exactly like you saw it tonight."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

You're So Vain... And So TRIM!

I've lost about 45 pounds this year (I can hear you clapping - thank you). And I'm extremely proud of myself for doing so. I weigh around 235 pounds, and I feel great about it. That's a total loss of 90 pounds since my highest weight six years ago. But I've made a few observations that I'd like to share with you today.

First of all, everyone wants to know how I've done it.  And invariably, they're upset at my answer. I think it's because they expect me to say, "Oh it was easy! All I did was switch to sugar-free gum and the weight just melted off!" And then they could either lament the fact that men lose weight easier, or they could say, "Oh, I can do that!" But my short answer is essentially "diet and exercise." And my long answer is, "Well, I work out 4 to 6 times a week, and I eat as little as humanly possible. I substitute meals with fruit smoothies, I don't drink soda, and I eat the majority of my calories earlier in the day." But people don't like hearing that. They want to hear how easy it is. And I think it's because they like feeling incredulous and/or motivated. An explanation of how difficult it is just bores them.

My second observation about weight loss is this; I'm an extremely vain person. And it took losing some weight to realize that. I have tried every possible way to bring up my new weight loss. I post on Facebook about it. I tell people I meet that they've missed out on my transformation. And I pretty much annoy everybody around me with unwanted updates about it. I'm even blogging about it right now. It's so bad that I even considered posting a picture of myself on this blog... something I vowed never to do. (If I ever become famous, I'll give you guys a before/after to ogle at.)

And lastly, I've observed that a lower number does not make for a muscular, in-shape Taylor. I always thought if I could get back down to around 230 that I'd be happy with the way I look. But part of the aging process is apparently the fact that a weight range doesn't equal a specific physique. The first time I hit 235 pounds (on the way up the chart), I wasn't nearly this flabby or bumpy. It doesn't quite come off the way it was added on. So my journey is not over. I'd like to get down to 200 pounds. I could look really good at that weight. And yes, I know that's incredibly vain.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wit Beyond Measure

I appreciate wit. I will count you as a friend immediately if you can make me say, "I see what you did there!" This explains why I appreciate clever vanity plates. And it explains my use of Facebook, blogging, and Twitter to spout off nerdy, ridiculous puns. And it also explains my obsession with Community on NBC (moving to Fridays this fall!). And I've noticed that graffiti, even though it's illegal and destructive, can be quite witty. And I almost feel excluded because I never get to publicly post things like that. So my compromise is to post funny non-destructive graffiti on signs and photos around the office.

There was a safety poster in our office a while back that included a picture of a truck, precariously propped up on blocks of wood with a person lying underneath it. I guess you're supposed to re-evaluate your behavior based on that photo, but it was of such poor quality that it was hard to tell what was going on in the picture. Anyway, the caption said, "What's wrong with this picture?" So being the hilariously witty person I am, I put a sticky note on it that said "It's blurry." And it got at least one laugh (from me) and possibly more. But somebody took it down the same day (because we take safety seriously or something like that).

So I was in a mood that day to find something else to comment on. And I got a great opportunity in the break room. There was another safety sign near the microwave; this time about microwave/fire safety. So behold my clever wittiness (or witty cleverness if you prefer that term):

Okay, embarrassing confession of the day: I hung out in the break room as much as I could that day to make sure I was around when someone "discovered" the sign. And it got a big laugh. So I felt confident in my witty sign abilities. I hope this isn't a slippery slope towards a life of graffiti crime.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Locked And Loaded

Every day at work, I have a miniature heart attack. It's all because I'm a forgetful person. And my wife would tell you that "forgetful person" is a drastic understatement. I forget 90% of the things I experience. And of the 10% that I do remember, much of it is mundane, arbitrary fluff. I hang onto ridiculous details and forget all the important stuff. Trying to get me to remember someone usually goes something like this:

Her: "Remember Stacy, and her husband, John?"
Me: "You'll have to be more specific."
Her: "She's tall with red hair. He's got brown hair and wears glasses. They have two little girls and they're friends of Tom and Annie."
Me: "Not ringing any bells. Anything else?"
Her: "They drive a Lexus. He works at a bank. She's allergic to shellfish. Their daughters are conjoined albino twins who wear matching eyepatches and have telepathic powers."
Me: "Nope. Still nothing. Wait... did she order the turkey burger last time we ate out?"
Her: "Yeah, that's them."
Me: "Okay, yeah.  I remember them."

I may have exaggerated, but you get the idea. It's like a horribly unfun game that we play to get me to recall information. And my terrible memory is one of my defining characteristics. So every day at work, when my coffee hits my digestive system, I use the individual bathroom. I'm not a big fan of stalls, the multi-use men's room stinks at all times, and the individual bathroom gives me the privacy I want. And every day, without fail, I think that I forgot to lock the bathroom door. And because I work with a bunch of idiotic mouth-breathing twits (who also like the individual bathroom), they don't just try to open the door. No, they assume that the bathroom is unoccupied and launch their entire body against it as if there's no possible way it could be locked. And in that split second of thunderous noise, I am wholly convinced that the door is going to fly open and scar both of us for life.

I've not yet forgotten to lock the door, but I'm really afraid I will at some point. And the simple fact that I refuse to use our disgusting men's room should tell you something about how bad it is. I'd rather risk being barged in on while using a clean bathroom than risk suffocation and disease by using the dirty men's room.

On a somewhat unrelated note: In my quest to make this blog more visually appealing, I was going to include a picture. But a picture of a bathroom would be weird. And it's extremely difficult to find a picture of conjoined albino twin girls who wear eyepatches. So here's a picture of my new baby girl, who is neither a conjoined twin nor an albino. (I'll try to update this picture when we finally find an eyepatch small enough for her.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012


If I had to pick the one flaw I think exists in my blog, it would be my utter laziness. But it would be too much work to delve into that.  So if I had to pick a second flaw, I'd say it would be the lack of visual stimulation. It's a text-heavy blog, and I'm well aware of this. So in the interest of visual stimulation, I've included three pictures in this post.

Picture 1 - How I Wrap Christmas Presents
I won't pretend this was some earth-friendly idea. I just thought it would be funny. It consists of the scraps of six different types of wrapping paper, a random envelope, some cardboard, and a Toy Story gift bag that I tore up and attached. It takes twice as long, but I think it's worth it.

Picture 2 - Proof That I'm "Hip"
(Yes, I'm aware that usage of the word "hip" automatically negates its application.)
When "planking" became popular, I had my son plank in our kitchen. He's quite the talent.

Picture 3 - Further Proof That I'm "Hip"
Not to be outdone, my daughter got in on the action.

I'm aware that planking has now become passé, but I don't really care. This is still really funny to me. And I assume you agree, since you're reading my blog. I hope you enjoyed my attempt at visual humor today!

Monday, June 18, 2012

What A Gas!

I'm posting this on my iPhone with the Blogger app I just discovered. And I'm posting it while holding my new baby girl, who is one month old today. Oh yeah, and she smiled at me yesterday.

I'd like to think that it's because she appreciates my sense of humor. Or maybe she's already figured out that my hairline is humorous. Or maybe I have food in my teeth. But more likely it's because she passed gas... which she does pretty much all the time.

Okay, now my thumb hurts from typing this. I probably won't post from my phone again until I upgrade to Siri and she can do it for me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Late Night Fame

Did I forget to mention that Jimmy Fallon read my tweet on his show a few months ago? I did? Well let me tell you all about it!

In case you don't know how Twitter works, here's a quick explanation. It's just like Facebook status updates, except you can tag certain topics by adding a "hashtag" (which is just the number sign - #).  So if you want to tag something as awesome, you would include #awesome in the tweet. Got it? Good.

Jimmy Fallon starts topics via hashtag and asks people to participate by including his topic in their tweet. And he reads the funniest ones on his show the next day. He calls it the hashtag game, and it's pretty popular on Twitter.

So a few months ago, he started one called "#gamedaysuperstition." And he wanted everyone to include the funniest superstitions that they'd seen. And since I don't know any good ones, I made this one up:

"If we record the game, my brother pauses the DVR before every pass and whispers, "This is it." #gamedaysuperstition"

I thought that was pretty clever. And since you know how I started this post, you know that Jimmy Fallon agreed. Because he read my tweet on the show the next night! I can't explain how excited I was. Out of the thousands of tweets, my made-up anecdote was picked for the show. And since you probably know me from reading this blog, you know that's not the end of the story. Because that's all that Jimmy Fallon knew about me and my Twitter picture is my son, Jimmy guessed that I was a girl. So he said, "This next one is from thats_so_taylor. She says...." And then he read my tweet. So I was a) super excited that he picked my tweet and b) super upset that he thought I was a girl. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Anyway, if you want to watch it, click HERE and look for me at the 1:37 mark on the video.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Unavoidable Idiocy

If my life had a theme, it would be "Try not to look stupid." And I think it's an admirable goal. But for me, it's unattainable. I overthink every social situation that comes up in my life. Inevitably, I'll do something more stupid when I try not to look stupid. Oh, you'd like examples? Certainly!

Example 1 - I assume you're familiar with the way people greet each other. They tend to ask, "How are you?" or "How's it going?" So my preferred response to that is "Good." And it's almost automatic now because I don't want to wait too long to respond. It's really awkward when I struggle to think of a response to "How are you?" But the problem is that I sometimes respond before my mind has really comprehended what they've said.  So often times, they'll say "What's up?"  And because I hate responding too slowly, I immediately say, "Good! How are you?!" So I sound like an idiot.

Them: "What's up, man?"
Me: "Good! You? DERP!!!"

Example 2 - If I correct someone's grammar on Facebook, without fail I will have made a grammar or spelling mistake in my comment. So my comment says, "You meant your, not you're. Their not actually interchangeable." And then I get reamed for my their/they're confusion, and I look like an idiot again.

Example 3 - I'm forever terrified that I have food in my teeth. If I even think for a second that I have something stuck in my teeth, I'll find the closest reflective surface and check (I checked just now just to be sure). One day, a coworker called right after lunch and asked if he could drop by my office to discuss something. I said yes and immediately started checking my teeth for broccoli shards. And no sooner had I opened my mouth incredibly wide and tried to use my phone's screen as a mirror that the guy walked in to talk to me. So I looked like I was taking a cell phone picture of my tonsils. Again, I looked like a complete idiot.

Example 4 (last example) - I was out of town one weekend and a guy I didn't recognize came up to me and said, "Hey, where do I know you from?" So to help him avoid an awkward conversation and to save me the embarrassment of trying to place someone I knew I didn't know, I told him we didn't know each other. I explained that I was only in town visiting my older brother, and he must be mistaking me for someone else. And since I definitely didn't recognize him, I just knew I was right. So I thought maybe I'd kept from looking stupid. Then I got to my brother's house and realized it was his neighbor, who I'd only ever seen in the driveway (every time I'd visited). So it was awkward when we both got out of our cars at the same time and I looked like an idiot again.

It's like Master Oogway said in Kung Fu Panda, "One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it." That was one smart tortoise.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great Way To Start The Day

Yesterday morning, I was preparing to get into the shower (stripping) when a five-year old boy ran into the bathroom, crying. (It's a good thing I have a five-year old son, or else that would be a weird start to a story.) I thought maybe he was having one of those "waking nightmares" where you're sleep-walking and having a bad dream at the same time. He had those a couple times in the past (solution: put him outside), so that's what I thought it was.

And when he came in, he kept looking down and saying, "Look!" So I kept looking down and couldn't see what he was looking at. And the more I looked down with him, the more frustrated he got. "No! Look!" I even grabbed his foot to see if he had some kind of bruise or cut or bite on it. But there was nothing. This concerned me more than finding a wound, because I assumed it meant he had a dream about a foot injury and couldn't shake the realism of it. But then I saw his head.

The reason he was looking down was not to show me something below him. It was to show me the giant mass on the top of his head. And for one wild moment I thought an overnight tumor had grown out of his skull. But upon closer inspection I realized that it was actually a large blob of Silly Putty (skin-colored) that was lodged in his hair.

Apparently, my daughter thought it would be cool to sleep with Silly Putty in her hand. And my kids frequently fall asleep in the same bed. So given my son's tendency to move around in his sleep and my daughter letting go of the Silly Putty when she dozed off, it got deposited right into his hair.

I don't know what is wrong with me, but I totally missed the chance to get a hilarious picture of him. Instead, I just slowly pulled it all out of his hair and sent him back to bed. Why do I always miss opportunities like that?! Can you imagine how many Facebook comments* I'd get?!

*FYI - I equate Facebook comments with feeling loved.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Good Kind Of Addiction

I never understood how people could be "addicted" to exercise. I understood caffeine, sugar, and video game addiction. And those made sense because they were tasty and/or fun. But being addicted to exercise sounded like a weird justification for a habit. Nobody likes exercise. They just realize the good things that come from it. Or so I thought.

I know now that it's truly an addiction. And I'm not even a health nut or anything. I just really like going to the gym now. And taking three weeks off because there's a new baby at home has made me realize how much I like working out. I really, truly (surprisingly) miss it. And I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to go back. That's the very definition of addiction. I can't wait for my next fix.

Anyway, the side effect of my exercise addiction is that I've lost a good amount of weight. I'm down to my lowest weight in about a decade. And I went to the store the other day to get some new shirts to work out in. My old college t-shirts weren't holding up anymore. (They're so full of holes, they could be the plot of a Michael Bay movie.) So while I was at Academy, I saw one of those "compression" tank tops. I didn't really know what it was, but apparently it a breathable, purposely-tight shirt that makes people with a good physique look better. And despite my improved physique, I'm still not exactly "tone" or "muscular" yet. I'm more "doughy" or "frumpy" at this point. But I decided to try on the stretchy shirt anyway. I was hoping it would be one of those times where I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. But it was not one of those times.

Instead, I almost got stuck just pulling it over my head. And the first image I saw in the dressing room mirror was a shock. It looked like someone had taken a small garbage bag, filled it with pudding, and then put my head on top of it. So I obviously didn't buy it. But I'm sure the dressing room attendant was confused by the laughing they heard.

But I don't feel too bad about it. It's a long process to go from a fat guy to a thin guy. I'm just right in the middle of it. And once I get back into the habit of working out, it won't be so bad. So this is not a feeble attempt at pity or attention. In fact, it's just an excuse to make fun of Michael Bay and give you the pudding-filled garbage imagery.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Identity Thief

You have to work with what you have. That's the best advice I can give to a single person. If you're funny, be funny. If you can play an instrument, play it (except drums... nobody thinks drummers are cool.) If you're attractive... I don't know, look at people I guess. And if you're boring, tough luck. But use the things you have. For example, I was never gonna get a date based solely on my looks. As a single man, I was overweight and similar-looking to a younger Dan Aykroyd. So I couldn't rely on that. The only way I was able to woo my wife was through humor and exceptional listening skills.

But the real advice behind that advice is this; don't try to be someone you're not. Don't pretend to like things you don't like. Don't fake common interests. (Also, don't practice identity theft. It's wrong.) It will eventually come back to bite you (when you've taken up crocheting and bird-watching). And I think that's pretty sound advice. It's advice I wish someone had given my older brother when he was in college.

He went to a party with a friend and didn't know very many people there. So he decided to use his anonymity to his advantage. He thought, "I can be whoever or whatever I want to be!" And being the large person that he is (not fat, just very tall with broad shoulders), he decided that the person he wanted to be was a college football player. He figured that it was something that was cool enough to impress the ladies, but obscure enough that there wouldn't be a lot of follow-up questions. So he found a girl he thought was cute and introduced himself. And after a few minutes, she said, "So are you a student here?" And he recited the line he'd been practicing to himself all night. "Yeah, actually I play offensive line on the football team. I'm second string, so I don't play much. But I'm working my way in." And then he waited for the girl to swoon over the athlete she'd just met. But as you can imagine, it didn't go as well as he planned.

By a stroke of horrible (and hilarious) bad luck, the girl had a boyfriend. And her boyfriend just happened to be an offensive lineman on the football team. So her response was, "Oh, then you must know my boyfriend, Zach! He plays left tackle!" And my brother, the brave, confident fake football player, wilted. She continued, "Let me go get him so you have someone you know to talk to." So he panicked and backpedaled really quickly. (He fought off the urge to literally backpedal.) He recanted his story as quick as he could. He explained that he didn't play for the football team and that he just wanted to impress her. She frowned and walked away in disgust.

In his defense, at least he picked the right fake personality to impress that particular girl. She obviously liked tall offensive lineman.  So let this be a lesson to you. Pretending to be someone you're not just doesn't work out. But at least my brother got to meet a real college football player that day!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I went back and read my post about wanting comments (here), and I realize how whiny I came off in that one. In fact, I said that the only thing sadder than a blogger is a lonely blogger without readers. And I realize after reading that again that there's one thing sadder than both of those; a blogger with readers who shamefully begs for attention and validation.

So I apologize for being one of those bloggers. And I thank you for the comments that came in after that one. Despite the obnoxious way I begged for attention, I still got some. And I truly do value the comments from you guys.

I've also been thinking about the future of this blog. I think it would be fun to try to put together a book. It would be an over-the-top, highly exaggerated auto-biography using the same fictional older brothers as my scape goats. There would probably be a little overlap on the stories since I've been blogging about myself and others for three years now. But I could easily expand and embellish when I'm not limited by the constraints of a blog post. And I just found out that I could publish it in Kindle format for free. So I could write it, publish it, and then make it available for really cheap on Kindles, iPads, iPhones, Blackberries, and Android devices.

So what do you guys think? Would you buy it for a couple bucks? And if you liked it, would you recommend it? And any suggestions for making it better than this blog? I don't want to spend months putting together a book that nobody will read.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Bacon Guy

One of the perks of blogging is the level of anonymity I can enjoy. I can twist the facts, blame fictional older brothers, and avoid posting pictures or details about myself. I can be whatever I want to be on the internet, no matter how socially awkward or weird I am in real life. And while that is a scary thing in the hands of some people, I choose to use it for good (to make fun of myself without consequence). The problem with real life is that it's not so easy to control information like that. The perceptions that others have of you are really hard to influence. And wouldn't ya know it, I've got a perfect example of this!

A few months back, I mentioned to a friend of mine that I knew someone who didn't like meat. It wasn't a vegetarian thing, just a picky-eater/specific food preference thing. Well, the man I was talking to then sent me a link to a bacon-wrapped sausage/bacon meat dish (pictured below) and said, "I guess your friend wouldn't eat this!" And my response was, "No way! But I'd probably try it!"

And with that simple response, I earned a reputation. A reputation that I will apparently never shake. By telling him that I would try the "Bacon Explosion," I put it in his mind that I love bacon. And don't get me wrong, I like bacon... a lot. But it's not one of my defining character traits. At least it wasn't one of my defining character traits, until now. Because my friend has somehow tied bacon to my very existence. When he thinks of bacon, he thinks of me. When he thinks of me, he thinks of bacon. If he were to play the word association game and someone said "bacon" he'd immediately say, "Taylor."

When I post on Facebook, he chimes in with some way to bring up bacon. He sends me links to stories about bacon-flavored milk shakes. He sends me links like this one. And every time I see him, he mentions something about bacon. And he's not a person who doesn't know what to say. He's a well-spoken, outgoing, friendly man. So I know we could talk about many other subjects (because we used to). But his way of identifying with me now is to bring up what he thinks is my favorite subject. And his influence is spreading. I was talking to a mutual friend recently and he said, "You love bacon, right? Well, I was told to tell you about this restaurant we went to. They have a BLT with about a pound and a half of bacon on it." And I'm too nice ("nice" = "awkward and scared") to correct anybody on this. So I've just accepted it. Eventually, everybody in my life will know me simply as "the bacon guy." And I'll have to move and change my name and get new friends. New friends who will know my real defining character traits; insecurity, dry humor, and baldness.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We're Officially Outnumbered

Well, I'm a father of three now. Our little Hannah was born about two weeks ago. And we've been blessed with a third healthy, happy child. No jokes about that. I love my wife and my children more every day. And no matter how frustrated or upset I sometimes pretend to be on these posts, I never take for granted what it means to be a husband and a father.

Okay, back to attempted humor!

So a few months ago, my wife and I were trying to come up with a name for our newest edition. We like classic, well-known names. But we don't want plain names that don't mean anything to us. So that makes for a difficult naming process. And we solicited the help of our 5-year old Andrew and 3-year old Madeleine. (See? Classic names.) My son decided that the best name for the baby would be "Sunshine." I'm not sure where he got the idea for that one, but it was funny. And he knew it was silly, so we all laughed about it. But Madeleine, ever the creative one ("creative" is the nice, parental way of saying "weird"), made up a name that doesn't exist. And if future Madeleine is reading this, forgive me if I butcher the spelling here. Her suggestion was "Kadiso" (pronounced "kuh-DEE-so"). And she was very adamant about it. It wasn't a suggestion... it was a decision.

We continued to ask the kids what they wanted the name to be. And Madeleine continued to unflinchingly suggest Kadiso. It got to the point where I couldn't think of any new names because she'd said it so much. In fact, it grew on me so much, that I honestly think it's a real name now (maybe Samoan or Haitian or something). If I ever meet a tropical-looking person and they introduce themselves as "Kadiso," I wouldn't be fazed by it.

Needless to say, we went a different route on the name. But our compromise for the kids was that Hannah's nickname is now "Kadiso Sunshine." And knowing my kids, that'll stick for life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I (Almost) Did It!

I'm a notoriously lazy person. I've found a way to control my laptop with my phone, the only "extra" time I put in at work is to develop shortcut keys so I don't have to work as hard, and a lot of my kids' punishments are simply making them get something from the fridge for me.

But becoming a homeowner has changed me slightly. The cheap side of me has started to outmatch the lazy part of me. Because if there's anything I hate more than spending my time and energy on something, it's spending my money on something. So I've taken to doing more projects on my own. In the past, there was always that one safety net that comes with renting. I've always had a landlord to call. When we found ants in the kitchen or our air conditioner stopped working, we just called our landlord. And we never paid a dime. And I really thought that luxury would be important to me. I thought that if something went wrong with our new house, I'd just pick up the phone and call someone.

But when a minor sink repair became necessary, I didn't call anybody. I picked up my phone, but I didn't dial. I Googled it. And like a true weekend warrior, I spent 7 hours of my Saturday working on it. And I'm here to report that after 7 grueling hours, a bruised back, three trips to Lowes, a body full of aching joints, three broken drain pipes, and one tough piece of PVC pipe... I failed.

I failed miserably, in fact. My sink was worse off than before I started. And I had broken $30 worth of plumping equipment. But here's the good news... I ended up calling someone and avoiding further expense. My 87-year old grandfather (who I am now convinced is Chuck Norris from the future) came over and fixed it in an afternoon. I'd like to say that my groundwork on the installation made it possible for him to do his part (so I will say that). I did all the initial work, he just completed the project. So it was a team effort. The end.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Please Donate To My Ego

I just remembered one of the reasons I stopped blogging a few months ago. Yes, I was busy. Yes, my life was getting so normal that I didn't have as many weird stories to share. But also, I remember thinking to myself, "Nobody reads these blog posts. I'm writing for no one." And that stemmed from the fact that I wasn't getting any comments. And then I looked at the stats for my blog. It shows how many people have looked at each post. And I realized that people were reading the posts, but not commenting. And that's a little different because it meant people were still showing up.  So that realization was one of the reasons I started writing again.

But I still can't shake that feeling that I'm talking to almost nobody. And the only thing sadder than a blogger (I'm allowed to say that) is a lonely blogger who doesn't have any readers. So even though I'm logical enough to know that people are reading, seeing "0 comments" on six straight posts hits me right in my lonely gland (I have a sensitive lonely gland - it's a rare condition).

That being said, I'm not begging people to comment here. Begging is sad. And it's usually asking for something that you don't deserve. I'm simply pleading. Pleading is different. I think I deserve some comments on here. So I'm pleading, not begging.

But just to make sure that you have something to comment on... don't comment on this post. It's kinda dumb. Go back to a random post from the past. There are about 450 of them to choose from. I get an email with a "Blog" label on it that tells me someone's commented. And I appreciate every single one I get. So it'll be like watching a telethon for my ego and seeing the numbers go up to improve my self-centeredness. So please donate. My ego wants it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Awkward To The Core

I count myself a lucky man. I'm blessed to have the family I have. I have a wife who loves me, kids who love me, and a lot of things in my life are going well. And being the well-adjusted person that I am, I would have said the same thing at any point in my adult life, even my lowest points. I consider myself an optimist. This is not a bragging post, though, so I'll stop there. I just want you to understand a little about the way my mind works so you understand where I'm coming from here. Basically, in a nutshell, what I'm saying is that I know and appreciate how blessed I am. And I recently realized just how blessed I am.

I've started to analyze some of my actions outside the context of my current life. And that made-up psycho-babble just means that I've started to see how weird and sad my life would be if I weren't married with children. And that's mostly because I'm a huge nerd. I love technology as much as Kip Dynamite. I love movie references (like the one in the last sentence) as much as Abed Nadir. And I love TV references (like the one in the last sentence) as much as Family Guy fans. And if I was still single at this point in my life and loved these things, I would be sad.

Disclaimer: I am not implying that single people who like pop culture are sad. I'm just saying that it would be sad for me personally, due to one very dominant personality trait of mine: social awkwardness.

And in case you're thinking, "Taylor is awesome! There's no way he's socially awkward!" here are some examples of things I do all the time:

-I forget what I'm supposed to do with my hands when I'm talking to people.
-I fist-bump when people go for the high-five.
-I fake phone calls to avoid conversations.
-I make eye contact with people way too early when walking in the hallway.
-I trip over nothing and try to make it seem like I was breaking into a jog.
-I wave "back" at people who are waving at someone behind me.
-I laugh and say "yeah" when I didn't catch what someone just said and don't want to say "What?"

So when you pair that social awkwardness with my nerdy habits, I am not a very likely candidate for companionship. So I'd like to publicly (okay, on my blog) thank my wife for looking past all that and choosing me anyway. And I'd like to apologize to my kids for all the horrible things I'm going to put them through as a socially awkward dad. They're gonna hate me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Self-Diagnosis: Wikiphilia

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this enough, but I love Wikipedia. There was a time in my life when my thirst for knowledge was crippled by my uncharted apathy. I would wonder how old Harrison Ford was, or I would be curious about how the nervous system works. And that would be the end of it. I didn't want to search for an answer. So a random thought would simply wander into space, unhindered, unanswered, and unimportant. And then came Wikipedia. And suddenly I have demographics, filmographies, and more information on a myriad of topics than I could ever have hoped for. And some of it even has sources!

And now I feel like a genius. I know Jeopardy questions. I bore people with unnecessary trivia. It's great! But with great power comes great responsibility (according to Spider-Man's surrogate father). I have to be careful not to get myself into trouble. Because it's very tempting to correct people. Like the lady at work who said that all Arabian horses are white. I knew (after consulting Wikipedia) that she was wrong. But it was a mistake to tap her on the shoulder and interrupt her phone call just so I could tell her she was wrong.

And the other problem I have is that I'm tempted to make jokes that would come off as pretentious. For example, after extensive Wikipedia research, I've diagnosed myself with Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia. It's just a fancy name for a very normal heart rate thing. It means that my heart rate increases when I inhale and decreases when I exhale. It means absolutely nothing. But I'm really tempted to make this my Facebook status just to freak people out:

"Just so everybody knows, I recently found out that I have Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia. Apparently there's no treatment for it."

And every word of that is true. But I have a feeling that people wouldn't find it as funny as I would. And I have an even stronger feeling that my wife wouldn't find it funny at all. So I probably won't post it (yet).

(Oh, and by the way, Harrison Ford will turn 70 this summer. But the silent film actor of the same name died in 1957 at the age of 73.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bounce Back

My daughter is three. And bless her little heart, she's the clumsiest three-year old I've ever seen. She never looks where she's going, she puts all of her 33 pounds into everything she does, and she always picks shoes that don't have any grip. So she's constantly running into things, falling over, and sliding into stuff. We've tried to slow her down and protect her, but it's no use. At this point anything short of a helmet and tiny little body armor would be useless. (Side note: I'm definitely gonna look into developing tiny little body armor for toddlers because it sounds so awesome!)

Just in the past two weeks she's fallen off of a non-moving bicycle, run face-first into a couch (a couch, mind you, that is always in the same spot), and fallen out of her bed in the middle of the night three times. I think "accident prone" might be an understatement. But the good news is that she always bounces back rather quickly. She cries if it hurts, but forgets in a few minutes. She forgets so quickly, in fact, that she's always asking us where her scrapes and bruises came from.

I was very different as a child. I didn't fall very often and I had incredible balance for my size. My problem was that if I did happen to fall or hit something, I hurt myself considerably. I broke my hand on a recliner once.  And I tore ligaments in my ankle on a simple layup in school.  So I was fragile. And seeing the difference between clumsy and fragile, I'm glad she's the former instead of the latter. Although the scrapes and bruises bring up awkward questions from people who don't know her. You'd be surprised how many strangers are comfortable asking where my daughter got her minor injuries. (My answer is usually just to point at my son, who smiles sheepishly right on cue.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Update #1 - The mango was tasty, but extremely messy and hard to eat.  The strings got caught in my teeth.  I won't be buying one again.

Update #2 - I forgot to blog today so I'm writing this really fast without thinking much.  But this still counts. (Right?)

Update #3 - The Avengers comes out in two weeks!  I'm getting more excited daily!

Update #4 - Studies have shown that if you inundate people with new information on more than four topics, they're prone to ignore or jumble up anything else you try to give them.

Update #5 - Flabber minkle din park slog farnily.  But dwibble gwar orinar voleny!  Amirightpeople?!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Humor Attempt... Rejected

I like to think I have a way with words. If I have time to prepare, I can usually write my way out of a jam.  That's why I have an English degree. That's why I blog. And it's one of the few things I feel like I'm good at. I mean, you should see the emails I send at work. They are so concise and professional! But in one area, I'm stumped. I can't seem to find the balance I need between tact and humor. I just don't know how to respond when a family member ruins a funny Facebook status.

I only use Facebook to be funny. And on the rare occasion that I use it to brag about my kids, I usually throw in a little humor so it doesn't get annoying. Because I'm very much bothered by the people who use Facebook to declare their children the cutest, smartest, or most interesting children to ever exist. And I'm equally bothered by those who use it as a medium for their political philosophy. To be clear, I don't mind a moderate amount of bragging or political talk. But the people who provide a constant feed of everything that crosses their minds are the ones that I don't like.

Anyway, that's why I try to be funny and not much else. I don't like to annoy people. So most of the things I post are little one-liners or anecdotes (often completely fabricated) just to make people laugh. And I'd say at least 65% of the time, one of my older relatives doesn't get the joke or uses my status as a time to reaffirm their affection for me. I don't get "LOL" or even "haha." I get "Good to see you guys this weekend" or "You know, you could just go to bed at a reasonable time. Love ya." And try as I might, I have no response to them.  I can't figure out what to say. Because I can't be rude and put "smh, never mind." And I can't explain the joke because then I'm condescending and ruining my own joke. So I usually just don't respond.

So is there any advice out there? How do I stay funny, avoid rudeness, and still explain the humor to a relative? Is there even a way to do that? I'm starting to think it's impossible.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mango Madness

I like mango-flavored stuff.  I have mango in my smoothies.  I've had mango juice on a few occasions.  So I figured I'd like the fruit too.  So I bought one at the store and brought it to work today.  And before Googling it, I didn't have any idea how to eat it.  And now that I've Googled it, I know that I need some kind of utensil to peel it.  Apparently the skin is inedible.  But I have no such peeling utensil with me today.  The closest I have is a pair of scissors.  And that's gross.  So now I'm craving mango really bad (which I didn't know was possible considering I don't really know what it'll taste like).  But it's just sitting there on my desk, impenetrable and delicious (I'm assuming).

The other problem I have is that I don't know if I'm supposed to slice it before eating it or if I can just peel it and bite right into it like an apple.  I'm such a mango newbie!  And by the time you read this, I will have already decided what to do.  So I'm not asking for advice (although I will always accept comments on my posts because I'm an egomaniac).

Okay, I'm going for it.  I'm gonna borrow a knife.  And before that, I'm gonna meet a coworker so I can ask them if they have a knife.  And then I'm gonna slice it up and eat it.  Wish me luck!  (But not literally because again, by the time you read this, the whole ordeal will be over.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

There's A Nap For That

I'm feeling very sluggish today.  So sluggish, in fact, that I'm not going to the gym after work.  I'm just gonna go home and play a game where I try to see how long I can stay awake in my recliner while the hypnotic rhythym of my slow-beating heart softly pulls me into slumber.  (Just writing that sentence almost put me to sleep just now.)

The strange reason for my sluggishness isn't a lack of sleep for once.  It's the amount of dreaming I've been doing lately.  I'm not really sure what's causing it, but I'm dreaming a lot more than usual.  And they're these vivid, interesting, energetic (and frankly exhausting) dreams.  It's hard to wake up in the morning most of the time.  And then the emotions from those dreams are difficult to shake off.  I think Christopher Nolan is making a movie about my dreams.

The result of all this dreaming is that I feel like I haven't slept for days.  Right now it's taking all of my concentration just to keep my eyes focused on the screen.  And I know it would be solved by two things: coffee or sugar.  I could easily go to the snack machine and buy a candy bar, and within 10 minutes I'd feel great.  Or I could have a cup of coffee and feel better by the time I finish it.  But neither of those things fit in with my new diet regime.  I'm trying to eliminate sugar as much as possible, and I've sworn off caffeine after lunchtime.

So here I sit.  Head bobbing slightly, eyes glazing over, and my body melting into my chair.  Maybe somebody will pull the fire alarm.  Or maybe someone will go crazy and start yelling for no reason.  Honestly, at this point, I'd take one of those "falling" sensations I used to get in English in 9th grade.  That was always a good jolt.  Or maybe I'll just close my office door and fall asleep for real.  Oh man... I shouldn't have even thought that.  Now it's definitely gonna happen.

Friday, April 13, 2012

We Want You To Get Some Help

I've been trying to drum up the courage to talk to a family member about a problem.  I've actually been watching Intervention a lot to get ideas on what exactly to say (okay, not really).  Something has to be done.  My mother has to stop buying me pants on clearance.

Back-story time... (imagine a whooshing noise so you know we're doing a side-shift back-story now).  We're having a garage sale tomorrow.  And I decided to go through my side of the closet and purge out any clothes that I'm not going to wear.  Some of them are just too big (woohoo!), some of them are just too old, some of them are out of style, and some of them I've never even tried on.  And I don't mind the purge.  It makes me feel more organized, and it makes me feel good about weight loss.  But I realized something as I placed them in the box.  Of the clothes I've never worn, 15 of them were pairs of dress pants.  Most of them still had the tags on them.  And they were all from my mother.  That's right, fifteen pairs of pants!

(Okay, now imagine a whooshing noise back to the story at hand.)

When my mom goes to department stores, she finds the clearance section.  And I'm not knocking that because it's my favorite section too.  But more often than not, there is a pair of pants in that section for about 4 dollars.  And inevitably, she has a coupon that reduces that price even further.  And I'm not knocking coupons either, because I love coupons.  So the next time she sees me, she says, "Oh hey, I found some pants at Ross that might fit you.  They were on sale."  Then she hands me a pair of pants that I instantly know I'll never wear (wrong size, weird color, fuzzy material, whatever) and they have at least 6 layers of sales stickers on them.

So to be polite, I accept them.  Then I put them in the closet and ignore them.  I realize now that this acceptance was a mistake.  I have become an enabler (that's actually a line from the letter I'm writing her for the intervention).  She knows that I'll take them.  And she assumes that every once in a while, one of them fits.  But I have to take a stand.  She has an addiction.  And I can't sit idly by while she continues down this dangerous path of habitual pant buying!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Employee Of The Year

I play this game at work where I try not to speak all day.  I don't count phone calls to my wife because I like talking to her.  But the rest of the day, I try not to talk at all.  I stay in my office, I wear headphones, and I avoid eye contact when I have to leave my office.  It's a really difficult game because even coworkers I've never met will sometimes say "good morning" to me.

And I would love to say that there's some great motivation for this.  But there's not.  I'm not trying to save my voice as an opera singer.  I'm not trying to avoid annoying people.  And I'm not trying to prevent myself from saying something stupid (although that would be a great reason).  I just want to see if I can do it.  And every day since I started this job in September of last year, I've lost the game.  Every day, that is, until yesterday.

Yesterday had the perfect set of conditions.  I had a lot of work, no reason to contact anyone about it, and I only left my office to get coffee in the morning and my lunch in the afternoon.  So not only did I get a lot of work done, but I didn't have to speak to a single coworker all day!  It was my shining moment as an office recluse.

You may think that this accomplishment is sad.  And you're absolutely right.  It's super sad.  And it would be monumentally sadder if I cared at all about my "work life."  But I totally don't care.  I can say with 100% certainty that I will never be one of those people who cares about his "work life."  Because that's stupid (you probably already knew how I felt about that based on my putting quotes around "work life").  So it's not sad.  It's awesome.  And you only wish you could be that detached and hermitlike at your job.  And I'm here to tell you that it is possible.  You too can be the weirdo that nobody hears from.  You too can sit silently for so long that you wonder what your own voice sounds like.  And you too can leave at the end of the day when that random coworker (whose name you don't know) says "Seeya!" and you just nod and wave.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Change Your Settings With Caution

I am an extremely heavy sleeper.  Once I'm asleep, it's very difficult to wake me.  I've slept through severe weather, hour and a half college classes, and the sounds of a colicky infant.  I'm one of the lucky ones.  My older brother, on the other hand, is a very light sleeper.  He closes his door and blacks out his windows when he goes to sleep.  Any additional light or noise will wake him.  It's a little ridiculous, but that's him.

Well, recently he decided to change some settings on his phone.  He stuck with the same alarm setting, but he got cool new ringtones and text message tones.  When he gets a call now, he hears the theme song from Walker, Texas Ranger ("In the eyes of the ranger, the unsuspecting stranger...").  And I'll admit, that's pretty awesome.  But his text message tone is now an audio clip of Arnold Schwarzenegger yelling "GET TO THE CHOPPA!" (Predator, 1987)  And that would be cool if not for the fact that it's very jarring when you're not ready for it.

So one afternoon, my brother took a nap.  And by chance, I texted him.  He didn't text me back.  But he immediately called me, completely out of breath.  Apparently, I'd scared him.  Or more accurately, Arnold Schwarzenegger had scared him.  And we both had a good laugh about it (my brother and me, not Arnold and me).

And I noticed that he didn't say anything about changing his text tone back to what it was.  And I know my brother's schedule pretty well.  So the next morning at 6:00am when I got up, I texted him again, knowing full well that he'd be sound asleep.  And all I said in the text was "you awake?"  And he responded, "WELL I AM NOW!"  He changed his settings that day.

(P.S. - If you don't know what that audio clip sounds like, just Google "get to the choppa clip" and enjoy.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Memory (And Cup) Loss

One of the major challenges I face in continuing to blog is that I have a notoriously bad memory.  I forget things I've heard, I forget things I've said, and I forget where I put things five minutes ago.  It's the reason I can't stay mad at anybody, it's the reason I make the same mistakes over and over again, it's the reason my wife will have gray hair, and it's the reason I can never, ever, ever find my stupid drink.

What I know I should do is put my cup down before I leave the room.  If I leave it at the table, it'll stay at the table.  But something in my brain says, "No, Taylor! What if you get thirsty as soon as you get into the hallway? Then you'll have to double back and waste precious energy!"  So I take the drink with me.  And almost without fail, I come back a few minutes later, sit in my chair, and reach for a drink that is now hiding somewhere in the house.

And for some strange reason, I put my cup in ridiculous places.  I don't just set it down on a dresser or a side table.  I put it in places that no normal human being would put a cup.  And this probably worries me more than the bad memory stuff because it seems utterly insane.  I've found my cup on book shelves, in my son's closet, in the garage (when I didn't even remember going in the garage), on the side of the bath tub, and even once in the freezer.  And inevitably I waste more time searching for the cup than I do actually drinking whatever's in it.  If I had a dollar for every time I had to retrace my route throughout the house looking for my cup, I could probably afford a drink butler to hold my drink at every meal.

Monday, April 9, 2012

And The Beat Goes On

I brag too much on Facebook (even when I'm just joking around), so I'll brag here instead.  My resting heart rate is 59!  How cool is that?  Oh, you don't know what that means?  Okay, let me explain.  No there is too much to explain (I'm lazy).  Just go Google it and see what you find.

Okay, did you Google it?  Good.  Now are you impressed?  I either have a non-serious heart condition known as bradycardia or I'm in pretty good cardiovascular health.  And either way, you should be impressed because it means I'm getting in shape and/or learning big medical terms.

What it really means is that the exercise is paying off.  And that's comforting.  Because losing weight and not seeing a big difference can be discouraging.  So knowing that something is changing is good.

Well, I won't bore you with any more healthy talk.  Let's make this a short post and call it a day.  I'm off to drink a protein smoothie and run 16 miles while wearing a parachute and a weight vest.  (That's exercise talk for "take a nap.")

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Boys Will Be Boys

Well, I was right.  A few days ago, I blogged about my children and their oft-used response of "I don't know."  That's usually what they say when I ask them why they did something devious or stupid.  And I predicted in that post that if my son wasn't allowed to say "I don't know," he would say, "Because I wanted to."

And usually I'd be glad that I have a good grasp on my son's personality and motivation.  But not this time.  And that's because the activity my son just wanted to do was take a pair of scissors and cut the strings on our window blinds.  And (of course) he didn't do this on a window facing the backyard or a fence.  He did it to the only street-facing window in the house.  And he didn't cut just once.  He snipped the string in no less than 10 places.  It is now irreparable and needs replacement immediately.

So the precursor to the punishment phase was a chat with him about his motivations.  I find that if the punishment phase starts too quickly, the kids don't really get a good grasp on the situation.  So we sat down and I asked him why he did that.  But this time, I told him that "I don't know" was not an acceptable answer. (My exact words were: And if you say "I don't know" ... so help me you will not like what happens.")  And just as I guessed, he could only come up with "Because I wanted to."  And also just as I guessed, it didn't make me feel better.  I wish I would have let him say "I don't know."  It left me wondering why a child would want to destroy something for no reason.

And then I had a series of flashbacks like people do in those really funny sitcoms that use flashbacks.  And I saw myself doing a myriad of ridiculous, ill-advised, downright stupid activities as a kid.  I shot my cousin with a BB gun, I pushed someone off a trampoline after they caught about 9 feet of air, and I tried to drive my dad's car without any knowledge of how cars work (and without permission).  In all three of those flashbacks, there was injury or damage done.  Perhaps more importantly, in every one of those flashbacks, I was much older than 5.  And oddly enough, that made me feel better.  Because I believe I'm normal.  And I believe I was a normal kid.  So if I, a normal person who was a normal kid, did so many of those things, then my son must also be normal.

And that was a very comforting thought... for me.  I can't say the same for my wife.  She was never a little boy (thankfully).  And she doesn't have any brothers.  So a lot of this is completely new to her.  She and her sisters never destroyed things just because they wanted to.  That type of thing does not make sense in her beautifully sweet girl brain.  And hearing about my ridiculous activities as a kid didn't make her feel any better.  In fact, I think she's more concerned now.  Because now she's worried about her son and her husband.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Call It In

My older brother is no good on the phone.  Even though he used to work for a tech support center where he took calls from customers all day, he can't be on the other end of the conversation.  I like to listen in when he calls to ask someone a question.  Last week, instead of asking if a restaurant was doing a "kids eat free" night, he said, "Do you guys have free kids tonight?"  Luckily for him, the lady on the phone just told him it was a promotion at a different location.  And although I'm sure she meant kids eat free, I should have gone to that other location just to make sure.

The ironic part about my brother's ineptitude is that it comes from his fear of being an idiot.  He wants so badly to be liked and accepted that he trips over himself to do so.  If it weren't so tragic, it would be funny.  Oh, who am I kidding?  It is funny!  It's downright hilarious!  And I love irony!

Anytime he's around and someone needs to make a call to a business, we get him on the phone.  He doesn't know it, but we always find some excuse to hand the phone to him as it starts ringing.  Or we make him order food for everybody.  And though he tries to hide the sheer panic he feels, you can see it in his eyes as soon as he starts talking.  Here are a few things he's said while ordering pizza.

"What are your pizzas special?  I mean... what are your pizza specials?"

"Do you take cash?"

"Can you hold on?  I put it in a text, so I have to keep looking at my phone.  Wait, can I text it to you?  Oh, okay.  Hold on... let me read it."

"Hi, I'd like to order some pepperoni pizzas.  I mean... one pepperoni and two other pizzas with other toppings.  But all of them will be large and I think I have a coupon that... what?  Oh yeah, carryout.  Yeah, I'll hold."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I Don't Know

I remember in college when I discovered a standup routine from 1983 called "Bill Cosby: Himself."  It was the first and only time in my life that I laughed so hard that I cried.  I just thought it was the funniest thing in the world.  And even the stuff about parenting I found hilarious, despite my lack of parenting experience.  It was just the way he told his stories that made it so funny.  And it's still funny to me now.  In fact, most of it's even funnier because I understand what he was talking about.  The one that sticks with me right now is the bit about kids saying "I don't know" about everything.

My son is 5.  And he does things that most five-year olds do.  He pushes and pulls and throws and jumps and stomps and punches.  Most of these actions are directed at his little sister, who is now 3.  So we try to explain to him that he can't go around punching anyone, let alone his little sister.  We cite examples of people (like ourselves) who avoid hurting others.  We ask him what might happen if he continues such activities.  And his answers are generally pretty good.  He understands that she can get hurt.  He understands that it's not nice, and that she might not want to play with him anymore if he continues.  He can answer all of these correctly.  But the one question he has yet to answer is, "Why did you do that?"  He invariably answers with, "I don't know."  And he says it with such a pained voice that I honestly think he doesn't know.

And where Bill Cosby would call this brain damage, I think I've determined that it's something else.  I think it's just impulse.  I mean, I've done plenty of things on impulse.  The first time I saw a peanut butter Twix, I had to buy it.  I love peanut butter and I love Twix, so there was no way I was leaving the store without it.  But if you'd asked me why I bought it, I'd probably just say, "I wanted it."  And I'm pretty sure my son would have a similar answer if he was being completely honest.  If I asked him why he threw a boot at his sister's head and he was being truthful, he'd just say, "Because I wanted to."

But that doesn't make me feel much better.  That sounds like brain damage to me.  And it would probably infuriate me if he answered that way.  So I'll take the "I don't know" response for now.  Although it may yield more gray hairs for us and more bruises for my daughter, I prefer it to a sadistic child who admittedly wants to throw things at people.  Although I'd bet that describes most five-year old boys.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Using Your Outside Voice

When my older brother and I hit the right age, my dad put us to work.  Not the illegal kind where we had jobs and uniforms or anything like that.  But the perfectly legal, non-paying kind called "yard work."  And we didn't mind most of it.  Mowing was easy, raking was fine, and trimming bushes was fun because we got to use giant scissors.  In fact, I think the only part we hated was cleaning up in the heat.

But the funny part about all this is that my brother was fascinated by the lawnmower.  He didn't so much care about how it did its job.  But he thought it was amazing how loud it was.  The first time he used it, he realized he could hear nothing besides the mower.  And to a kid who was expected to hear his parents whenever they spoke to him, it was a nice release from that expectation.  He was free to ignore the entire world while he mowed.

And one day he realized that he couldn't even hear himself while he was mowing.  I'm not sure if he coughed or sneezed or what, but it dawned on him that he couldn't hear a single thing that came out of his mouth.  And being the curious (and weird) adolescent that he was, he decided to test out the limits of this temporary deafness.  So he started talking, then raising his voice, and then outright screaming.  And with every new level of noise, he was all the more amazed that he could hear none of it.  So he entertained himself by screaming at the top of his lungs while he mowed.

As most of you probably know, the level of deafness experienced when running a lawnmower is directly proportionate to how close you are to the mower.  So someone mowing can hear almost nothing.  But anyone more than 10 feet away can hear just about any other noise.  And what that meant was that every person in the neighborhood could hear my brother screaming random words and sounds out into the air.  And if they went to investigate, they probably just shook their heads and went back to their business.  But my dad was more amused than embarrassed.  So he let it go.  And he told me just to ignore it and not tell my brother.  And it was a few months before my brother learned that everybody within earshot could hear him screaming, "AAAAAHHHHHHH!!! I'M MOWING AND NOBODY CAN HEAR ME SCREAM!!!  HA HA HA!!!"  But it sure was fun when he found out.  You could see the horror on his face as he realized that people could hear him.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Living Vicariously Can Be Fun

Okay, time for another dose of complete honesty from me.  I love toys.  I like gadgets and fake swords and little Hot Wheels cars and action figures.  Definitely action figures.  When I was a kid, we'd play the simplest, made up games.  We played "War" which just meant shooting invisible bad guys and making machine gun noises.  We'd play "Race" and drive our little cars all over the house.  We'd play "Peoples" (we weren't good at naming our games) and have our Ninja Turtles fight Batman before being punched off the top of the stairs.  And it was a blast.  There was never a dull moment when we had our toys with us.

Then I hit an age where it wasn't acceptable to play like that anymore.  The other kids my age were graduating to video games and, more importantly, sports.  So I traded in my impossible fight scenarios (GI Joe and Shredder vs. Optimus Prime and a stuffed animal) for basketball in the driveway.  And as much as I love basketball and the new things I became interested in, I always missed the toys.  And more times than I'd like to admit, I'd pass the action figure aisle of Wal-Mart or Target and get mad that they didn't have awesome toys like that when I was a kid.  And I'd wish I had a reason to buy them.

Then my son came along.  And just like me, he loves having little miniature versions of superheroes.  And as soon as he had the motor skills to play with them, I bought him as many as I could justify (1267 of them).  And now I get to play with them!  And the older he gets, the more he wants the characters that are in the movies I like.  So when I saw Captain America and secretly wanted the toys, I just showed him the trailer and BOOM, he wanted the toys too.  So now "he" has a Captain America shield, Captain America mask, Thor hammer, Thor mask, Wolverine mask, and an action figure of basically every superhero that I care about.

And with The Avengers coming out in about a month (YAY!), there are a whole slew of new toys coming out to accompany it.  And since being a toy collector is sad and lonely, I get to use my son as an excuse to buy Hulk hands and an Iron Man blaster and whatever else I can find that "he" will like.  So add that to the list of perks I didn't realize I'd have when I had kids.  And also add the fact that we'll get to go see all these awesome movies together when he gets old enough to see them (but before he thinks I'm lame for liking them too).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Know Thyself

There are certain things I don't trust myself with.  For example, I know enough about myself to avoid Golden Corral.  And that's because I'll overeat, feel sick, and gain 12.6 pounds.  So I haven't eaten there in years.  I also know enough about myself to avoid reading comments at the bottom of political news articles.  Although I'm not as good at restraining myself with those.  And at Kindergarten Orientation a few nights ago, I was presented with an opportunity that I should probably pass up.  I should know myself enough to avoid it.  But something tells me that I won't be able to.

The school my son will be attending has a program called "Watchdogs."  And as intense and serious as that sounds, it's neither intense nor serious.  In fact, it's a program where they invite fathers of students to come in for the entire day and participate in school activities.  That means they do the announcements with their kid, they go to recess, PE and art class, and they help out around the classrooms and cafeteria.  And that is a wonderful idea.  Just not for me.  Despite my fear of public speaking and my general shyness around adults, I am very at ease with children.  It may have something to do with relatability or (more likely) something to do with similar maturity levels.  And I'm well aware of this.  I know how to make kids laugh and I enjoy it immensely.  I mean who doesn't like to see a little kid laughing hysterically?

My fear is that I will become a 6-foot-3-inch class clown for the entire school.  My wife would probably say that it's inevitable.  It pairs the only things I like about public speaking (attention, approval) and removes the bad things (crippling fear, judgment, pressure to sound smart).  And anybody who's seen me around my kids or when I'm being silly (which is basically anyone who's met me) would agree that I would be a complete buffoon with that type of audience.  So while I think it's a good program and I think it would be insanely fun, I'm not sure if I trust myself to do it.

But if I'm being honest, that's not gonna stop me.  My son would love it if I came to his school for the day.  Well, he'll love that until he gets old enough to be embarrassed by my presence.  And that's a big enough reason to completely make a fool of myself for an entire school day... while I still can!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Parents Are Insufferable

We had Kindergarten Orientation last night.  My son is 5 and will be starting Kindergarten in August.  And this isn't a big shock to us.  We bought the house we bought for many reasons.  And one of the most important ones was the schools our children would attend.  So we knew this was coming.  That doesn't make it much easier, but at least we can try to be prepared.

But the funny part of the night was when the speaker started going through all the skills the kids should have by the time school starts in August.  They said that he/she should be able to identify most letters, count to 10, identify the colors, and "write" (meaning scribble and pretend to write) among other basic skills.  And the funny part about that was that I knew what every parent in there was thinking.  They were thinking, "Ha!  Little Stridler has been doing those things since she was two!"

Okay, I made up the name "Stridler," but it sounds like one of those new age, post-post-modern names that people use when the normal names are too low-class for them.

Anyway, I know they were thinking that for two reasons.  First of all, I was thinking that.  I wanted to say, "Excuse me, should we look into first grade instead?  My son can count to 20, he can tell you what every letter sounds like, and he can write multiple words!"  But I knew better than to say that.  There's nothing worse than a parent who doesn't understand that all kids learn and develop differently.  And it's not a competition (until middle school).

But the other reason I knew what all the parents were thinking is because every set of parents there (yes, every set) turned to each other after the skills were listed and gave a knowing look.  And they had that infuriating arrogance that parents have when they think their kid is something special.  It was as if they were silently saying to each other, "Pish posh, what a joke!  Our little Creighndyn knows everything!  Why are we wasting our time with this drivel?"

Yes, I imagined them speaking to each other in English accents (it's fancier).  And yes, "Creighndyn" is another ridiculous made up name.  But you get the point.  There is little in this world that is more annoying than a pretentious parent.  And if it were justified, that would be fine.  If your kid is a certfiable genius, brag away!  But don't try to convince me that he'll be graduating college at age 12 because he knows three Spanish words.  I've met my share of Stridlers and Creighndyns.  They're no geniuses.  These supposedly advanced children are the ones who eat their boogers and have their shoes on the wrong feet.

That being said, I'd like to clarify that those kids are no worse than mine.  My daughter has a 50% chance of putting her shoes on the right feet through random guessing.  But somehow, she does it wrong 90% of the time (which I think is statistically impossible).  So all kids are kinda dumb in some ways.  And that's fine because they're kids.  But don't tell me that your little "Kyndryn" is a genius unless you've got proof.  Like maybe some origami that she's designed, or a videotape of a lecture she gave at Stanford last year.  Otherwise, let's all just be happy our kids are healthy and happy and let them compete with each other when it really matters... the sixth grade.