Hot Friday Five

The mercury is once again on the rise.

Yet rather than poking my eyes out with a fork, I'm going to sit under the A/C vent and write about it.

Top Five Reasons to Unreasonably Hate the Heat:

1. Replacing the air filter
When it's hot, we run the A/C all day. When we run the A/C all day the air filter becomes caked with house dust, which we all know as dead skin. Replacing them requires a trip to Home Depot, then to pay a heavy price for what is essentially a pair towel, high ceilings means dragging out the big ladder, the aluminum frame of the filter never fits so I always tear a little skin off my finger tips getting it open. Because I've been fighting with it a huge load of dust falls in my face and onto the floor which I have to clean up before my wife freaks out. I have to vacuum the grate. I have to fight with the lever to lock the new one in. I have to get the dirty one into the trash where one little bump from my clutzy self will deliver a dead skin bomb all over the house. I hate chores, but this one is off the hook.

2. Wearing clothes
I sweat. I am moving all day and I drink a lot of fluids. My clothes start sticking to my skin around 8:30am and by the time I can peel them off in the late afternoon, they weigh twice what they did in the morning. They are sticky with layer after layer of man in motion perspiration.

3. Man stink
There maybe a subtle genetic sexual pheromone advantage in the musk of men, but my socks can empty a room.

4. Raging Fury
There's a reason why Canadians are so even tempered. Cool climate. Cool People. Hot Climate, however, and people will kill over a Youtube video.

5. My Poor Wife
For who in their right mind would want to have sex with a cranky, sticky, stinky naked old man covered in debris after a dead skin bomb?


I discovered a Readers Digest in my bathroom this morning. It's curious for I haven't seen one of those in probably ten years and it's inexplicable how it made its way to the magazine stack on my toilet. The space is almost always reserved for old Entertainment Weeklys and depending on the situation, a book of crossword puzzles about 33% completed.

The Readers Digest isn't something I would catch myself perusing, but I had the time and clearly no other place to go.

What could go wrong, for there is so much that I want to know? Yet so little of things I want to know are contained within the pages that I started looking for a crossword puzzle. In doing so,  I flipped upon a two page article by Mitch Albom.

The guy who wrote "Tuesdays with Morrie" If you didn't already know that. And for the record there's no real reason that you should.

I wouldn't even be all that surprised if you've never come across "Tuesdays with Morrie" either. It was a blip on the pop culture feel good map for a time. Sold millions. Inspired 47. Changed the lives of several. (I daresay there is a possibility that the one person who was transformed by Mitch's freshman effort could conceivably be reading this, and to you I say "Are you lost sweetie?")

Anywho . . .

The article was about Siri, Apple's 2011 version of 2001's HAL. In it Mitch complained about how we are forming relationships with our phones and have lost the art of connecting with other human beings.

To which I must cordially respond "Bah!"

Siri is a slick toy for people who have time for such things, but it in no way effects human connectivity, except for the fact that it singles you out as the kind of person who has time for such things. Such people deserve a little head tilt, not a two page diatribe, but Mitch must be at that stage in his career where he is too widely read to use bad words and too well respected to say anything of consequence.

Nice way to Andy Rooney yourself into irrelevance.

But I'm still tripping on how the Reader's Digest got into my throne room. I'm not opposed to mind trash, I'm a purveyor of it, but I'd be less surprised to find porn than I am to find Mitch Albom's take on Siri.

And I don't begrudge the Reader's Digest audience for I too would like 5 Easy Ways to burn more belly fat, I just don't remember anyone sitting on my toilet long enough to peruse.

Yet it had to come from somewhere. And if my luck holds, then it was most likely a friend or loved one who I am dangerously close to offending by poking direct fun at their game time reading material.

Which leads me back down the path from which I started.

I've gotten a little cranky. Old man cranky. Get off my lawn , cranky.

Blame it on the pain. Blame it on the lack of nicotine, the heat of the never-ending summer, and a few sleepless nights for which there was no escape.

I gots the flavor of bitter bean in my mouth and here I am asking you to kiss me. Poking you with a sharp stick a telling you it feels good.

And for the most part it does feel good. A little giggle and a WTF. Lets you know you're still alive and that I can still muster a little sting.

Yet that can be hard on the people around me who just want to be nice productive people and live their positive lives and read about how Siri is an example of why we are losing our humanity.

One second thought . . .

Maybe we just need a safety word, so that I know that you think I've gone a little too far.

Something that says slow down, ease up, smell a few roses, lets take our time. Something that says its okay to be nice. Something that won't offend anyone.

Something like "Mitch"

Friday Five: That's My Boy

It has occurred to me there has been very little dad stuff popping up on my dad blog. It's not by design, I just post what's on my mind at the moment its on my mind regardless of the shuffle. So, here is a conscience Friday Five:

Five Reasons I am proud of my boy:

1. He's generous.
Each night Calvin rushes into the house to gather snacks for the ever growing group of neighborhood kids. Now all kids are either sadists or socialists or if they've grown up rich, functionally retarded, but each night when we tell him that he can't feed everyone, he eyes us with suspicion, for his friends are hungry and we clearly have the best snacks on the block. No doubt there will be a very positive lesson on the merits of capitalism soon, but for now I like to know that my semi-only child knows how to share.

2. He's kind.
In soccer practice, we keep telling him to go after the ball and kick it, but he looks up at us with his misty little eyes and tells us that he doesn't want to hurt anyone. To which we tell him that's what shin guards are for.

3. He's creepy smart.
There's is a game he's been playing on the computer that is vastly beyond his years and requires constant problem solving and creative building. I won't say what that game is, because it's totally inappropriate for 7 year olds and I don't care, but I'm fascinated by his tenacity and how quickly he levels up. He did cry when I accidentally killed him while helping him with some of his control settings, so he's not exactly ready for World of Warcraft, but I think he is quite beyond Frogger.

4. He's incredibly brave.
Calvin is terrified of things. Dogs, school, motorcycles, butterflies, tractors, you name it. Overprotective parenting, coupled with traumatic experiences and a genetic predisposition for anxiety disorders, and you've got one twitchy little squirrel on your hands. And there is no cure for it. Well that's not entirely true, there's drugs and there's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Guess which one we've been using for the last few years? And he's actually getting it. Yesterday he told his mom that he has decided he's not going to be afraid to go to school. When your amygdala is out of control, it takes a huge set of balls to recognize that your brain is playing with your and for you to be determined to fight back. I like to think he has those balls. In fact I think they should rename Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and call it something like "Testicle Enlargement" or "Pair Growth."

5. He scored his first goooooooaaaaaal.
Sure it was only a scrimmage. Sure it was only a scrimmage against a girls team, but I must say, watching my boy take that ball from mid field and kick the only goal of the game did wonders for the size of my testicles as well.

Sure he may skip while the other kids run,

He may dress up like a video game elf,

and he may throw a tantrum or two,

but that's my boy.

That's my boy.

Squirrelly Winds of Candlestick

So I'm sitting up in bed, an empty blog page on my lap, feeling a bit down because my super awesome fantasy football team got creamed this week, when my wife comes into the bedroom. She leans over and gives me one of those perfect soft lipped kisses that lingers just a few seconds longer than a casual peck.

"Sorry" she says. "I'll let you get back to your writing."

She leaves the room and my pity party is clearly at an end.

Its terrible.

Meaningless defeat thwarted by a flesh and blood win.

Clearly the universe senses my rage and has sent me a neatly wrapped box of perspective.

For it wasn't just the Week 2 fate of the football season that had me out of sorts, it was a lot of little things. Stupidities, injustices, failures, even a few adulterated successes, they pile upon each other and I don't even realize how much weight I have given them until gravity protests. So alone I sit, in a room, with the fan muting the sound of the house around me. And I stare off. And my knuckles curve. And I breathe deep when I feel the adrenaline rise. And there is so much stuff sitting on my chest that I don't even know where to begin or how to categorize it. And I think "Fuck . . . I am never gonna win this, am I?"

And by "This" I mean "Life"

*   *   *

Kay comes into my shop a few months back. A striking vivacious woman with a smokey voice and a salty demeanor. She looks tired.

"The doctors have only given Paul a few months to live." she says.

She doesn't need to say more. Her order had already been made and I wave away her credit card.

I don't know Paul very much. Some might call him gruff, but to me he's a no bullshit cast iron mother fucker who wants his iced tea cold and his ginger cookie spicy.

I clearly have a lot of affection for the two of them.

Yet each day they come in I want to go up to Paul and ask him if he won.

"Did you win, Paul? Did you give more than you got? Did you make the world a better place? Did you   give people meaning and inspiration? Did you live a good life?"

And he would have no idea what the hell I'm talking about because men like Paul don't have the time or the energy to second guess or fritter away. They don't care about the unturned stone or the un-sniffed rose and questions like that are the reason we lost the Vietnam War.

So I'm thinking about Paul when Detroit gets in field goal range and my attention returns to the game.

"That should be in field goal range." Says one commentator.

"Who knows, in the squirrelly winds of Candlestick." Says another.

And that's just it. Its game time. And what works in one place might not work in another. It could go left, it could go right. It could go up, it could go down. And dude I really need this win because my family is counting on me and I've been preparing this for a lifetime and no matter what I do, the wind is going to do exactly what it does and even if I choose perfectly I could still lose. So I would freeze and get my ass handed to me by an outside linebacker.

But that's not what Paul would do.

Paul would aim for the middle.

Paul would kick the fucking ball.

Then Paul would go home, kiss his pretty wife and tap her gently on the ass, and ask what's for dinner.

Win or lose, Paul wins.

Friday Five

Top Five Things I Hate Doing on a Friday Afternoon:

Being woken up from a perfectly good nap.

Getting in the car.

Going to the mall.

Shopping for shoes.

Sitting at the shoe shop posting a lame Friday Five because it took me two minutes to pick out a pair of running shoes and now it's going to be another hour before my wife finds a pair for herself all the while Calvin wants a pair of Uggs more than anything else in the world and that he's still upset that he didn't get a pick ax for his birthday.

But mostly the nap. It was a really good nap.

Rules of the Game

Wait . . . dad?


I don't want to go to school tomorrow.

That's silly. The only way to learn how to do stuff is to go to school.

But I can't.

Of course you can.

But there's so many rules.

And he's right . . . there are a lot of rules. So I told him that all he needs to do is to learn the rules and then follow them and he will never get in trouble.

Which is almost, but not quite, totally unlike the game of soccer.

A game where you can become an official referee even if you know nothing about the rules.

Even if you have never actually watched a game before in your life.

All you need to officiate a soccer match is a pamphlet, a stop watch, and a whistle.

Which is why life is hard, and soccer is stupid.

No, that's not entirely truthful. I am sure there is an elegant nuance that I am just clearly missing and I am sure that I am missing it because I have never watched a single game. I have friends that are into it, my wife's dad loves it, and half the people in the world follow it with a fervor that pales their own religiosity, so the impetus to bridge the gap between my understanding and the beauty of the game clearly falls at my feet.

But that doesn't make it any less stupid.

And to be fair, I also think baseball is pretty stupid. Especially if you're playing it. But going out to the ballpark with my old man and sucking down an ice cold beer is easily a top twenty life moment, so the hypocrisy runs deep.

So why enlist my son and force him to participate in an activity that I find so silly? Well that answer is a two parter. First, there are no pool halls in my town and second, it's just what parents do. I may see no rational value in the game, but it gets him up, its gets him outside, gives him a first lesson in competition, it gets him socializing with other kids and it gets my wife and I socializing with other parents. Win, win, win, win, win.

And at each practice the coach would ask for referee volunteers. He would look in my direction and I would smile and shrug for I know nothing about the game.

For ten whole practices. Smile and shrug. Smile and shrug. For I know nothing of the sport.

Then comes our first game. We arrive a few minutes early to find a nice shady spot and dig in for what will be the first soccer game I ever see from start to finish.

Walking through shady patch of trees, Coach John makes a beeline in my direction. (That is his real name, we don't pull punches here at Wait Dad)

"You wanna be a ref?" he says.

"Not in these shoes." I reply. I wasn't being flip, I was just wearing shoes that are not made for running around in.

"Aw, come on, you'll have fun and we really need a referee or we will be disqualified."

Damn it.

I've been dreading this moment for weeks. Either I'm a total dick for telling the soccer coach to blow me, or I make a total ass of myself trying to officiate a game that I have never even seen played.

And then there's the WaitDad me who wants to be fearless. So in the end, I have no real choice, Coach John just threatened to rape my integrity.

"Sure." Fuck it. "What do I do?"

"Here are the rules." he says as he hands me a piece of paper. "I've got a whistle and a shirt for you in my bag."

Giddy up. And so it began.

And it ended pretty much like the farce from which it began. Turns out Coach John was supposed to have referee volunteers attend a little training camp, so the other team was a little shocked to find out how wet behind the ears I was. The shirt was black and the sun was hot. Our team didn't know what was going on. The opposing team easily scored seven to our zero. I was told to help the kids along by coaching them a bit. Then I was yelled at for coaching them a little bit. At the very end, I was tired and sweaty and my back was screaming at me. I handed Coach John his whistle and his jersey. What I expected to hear from him was a little pep talk and a thank you. He just told me how much he hated getting his ass kicked and that Joey's father said he'd ref next week.

I wanted to tell him that he should probably get used to getting his ass kicked and that I had to work next week anyway, but I just smiled and shrugged and made my way back to my wife who handed me a bottle of water and a sympathetic look.

Sucks to be shit at something even if you had no reason to think you'd be good at it. And now that I have an idea of what to expect I will be much better at it in the future.

Cause at least now I know the rules.

Friday Five: Fantasy Football

Yahoo gave me the award for best fantasy draft in my league.

This means I have gone from casual user to morbid junkie in less than a year.

And I'm sort of fine with that. Here are five reasons why I will spend more quality time with my fantasy football team than I will with my family over the next fourteen weeks.

1. I get to choose my team
Sure there is a certain amount of responsibility that must be taken by me as to how my family turned out, but it all just started cause I had a crush on some hot girl, and that was thirteen seasons ago. No one can be expected to score points from a decision made thirteen seasons ago.

2. I have a bench team
When one of my players goes down, I don't get sad, I replace them. "Oh, does Percy Harvin have headache? Well it looks like I'm going out with Torry Smith tonight." Looks like Calvin's a little afraid of the ball. Maybe this week I'll start that little red headed bulldozer with the fat mom. He seems to know how to kick a ball in the right direction.

3. There are even free agents.
Honey, I know we've been through a lot together, but you nag me to mow the lawn one more time and I'm gonna put you on the waiver wire. The depth at 40 year old moms is pretty deep and there's always a few young rookies that no one's pick up on yet.

4. Holiday.
I love sitting around with friends drinking beer and eating food. Football season means that I have an excuse to do exactly that. For fourteen sundays in a row.

5. Makes me feel like a real boy.
I'm pretty good at a lot of stuff. But there's always been this unpunched hole in my man card, which is that I know next to nothing about sports. Yet from now until the Super Bowl I can relate to other men in ways with which I haven't been able up until now. And yes, I do know how gay that sounds, but it is none the less fabulous.

The Best Part of Having Boys

Typical exchange between father and son:

Wait . . . Dad?


Can you make a sword out of a diamond?


Why not?

Diamonds are too little to make a sword out of.

But what if you put a whole bunch of them together?

Well using that logic you could make anything out of anything.

Anything out of anything?


Wait . . . Dad?


Could you make a sword out of a human?

hmm . . . 

See, its exchanges like this that make me wonder if I really am raising serial killer. I see how his ferrel imagination could make the leap to making swords from diamonds, but there is quite a gap between perfectly aligned carbon atoms and dismembered bodies.

But truth be told, he is no more killer than I am potato.

A killer doesn't cry when he has three friends and only two juice boxes. A killer doesn't worry about getting in trouble for going the wrong way on the slide. A killer doesn't snuggle.

There are three common behavioral markers that are common among serial killers. First, they are bed wetters deep into their adolescence. Calvin hasn't wet the bed but maybe twice since he was potty trained and both times he was sick.

The second, is the torturing and killing of small animals. Insects, birds, cats, anything that can be caught and mutilated. And, although Calvin no longer screams in violent terror when a butterfly swings too close, he would still prefer them to play on their side of the backyard.

Third is a deep, obsessive connection with "The Catcher in the Rye" So unless they are still teaching Salanger in schools, I feel pretty confident we can tiptoe around that minefield.

I will, however, keep an eye on him if he starts referring to everyone as "phonies"for that will be both disturbing and irritating.

So if psychopath is off topic for the moment, what could possibly have entered his little brain that would make such a question relevant?

The correct answer is: Who knows?

Legos have interchangeable parts. Could have been a torso turned into a cannon.

Joann just finished the second season of The Walking Dead. And though we don't normally invite our little princess into our room when we watch scary stuff, I'm sure if he caught a  glimpses of zombie limbs falling off and being used as clubs, it was unintentional, but no less scarring.

Whatever it was, it was most likely innocent.

Intelligence coupled with anxiety coupled with imagination and no Dewy Decimal System of the mind to file things away in an efficient manner.

Cause that's what it is with boys. Cuddles and battle scars. Blood lust and butterfly kisses.

Weird, but nothing to see here, move along.

And there we were, Joann and I, driving through a another round-about on our way home when we saw a dad and his little daughter.

"Sometimes," she said "I'm so sad that we never had a little daughter I could dress up."

"Good God, Joann." I replied. "Can you imagine how awful that would be?"

"Oh please, I'm not talking about a teenager, come on, admit it, you'd melt. She'd totally be daddy's little girl."

"I'm not arguing. I'd purr like a well fed cat. But the best part about having boys is that I can hit them in the face and not feel bad about it."

"That's horrible!"

"Whatever. . . . phony."