Summer Five

Well yup, summer is here and even though it is by far my least favorite season, what with inescapable crotch sweat and teenage drivers everywhere, I must admit that there are a few things I'm looking forward to this season.

But only five:

Number One:
Serious vacation time. It's the first time in nearly decade that I don't have any major projects going on, and I tend to use this time in a leisurely fashion

Number Two:
Playing live. Haven't got the band together yet, but I'll be sneaking in as many little shows as I can.

Number Three:
Eating home grown vegetables. My garden is looking better than ever this year and I aims to tend to my tomatoes like Marlon Brando in The Godfather. Sans the whole collapsing and dying part.

Peaches and wine.

Number Five:
Reading. I'm sure there have been good books written in the last five years. So if any of you have read any, send me some suggestions. I've got the time and I've got the couch.

Note: I have already devoured The Games of Thrones series and if I don't get any good suggestions, I'm liable to read them again. Please don't let this happen.

Garden Photos

I'm so hipster I'm takin pictures of food before it is food. 

Can't Kill Wisteria

We planted a wisteria during the first season where we got really serious about making our backyard pretty.

The idea was to stretch the beautiful vine across the cinderblock wall that makes up our back fence. In the summer those long dangly flowers would bloom and the grey would be awash in color.

We were told this was a bad idea.

Cause if it didn't work,

the wisteria will refuse to die.

And, of course, it didn't work.

The wisteria grew, but it grew over the wall and decorated the only side we couldn't see.

And then we got a little frustrated.

And then we forgot about it.

And then we let the whole of our backyard go to waste.

Cause we had quit smoking and there wasn't any significant reason to go outside.

But this year we decided to make our back yard pretty again. Cause we could still enjoy a glass of wine and a good book and a pretty back yard to enjoy them in.

So the first thing that got hacked away along with the weeds was the disappointing wisteria. Not only did I hack away everything green left on the wisteria base, I covered the bloody stump with a ceramic garden pot, spit three times and said the name of the Scottish play.

That'll do it, I said, and spent the rest of my love on the tomato plant I have officially named Salsa.

So today I noticed a little green bud poking out of the top of the ceramic pot. At first I thought it was some scrap leaf or twig but on closer examination it turn out to be a growing limb of wisteria.

Bereft of water, love and sunlight, the wisteria has bloomed greater than ever before. To no one's surprise but my own.

Cause you can't kill wisteria.

Unless you're my step mom.

She's the only living person known to have killed one. Which has nothing to do with her as a person, nor her gardening ability, or make any statement whatsoever other than the fact that she actually killed a wisteria once.

Which should guarantee her fame and fortune as a footnote in every major horticulture book written in the latter quarter of the 20th century and beyond.

If life was fair.

Which it never is.

Yet despite the fact that one can't kill wisteria, I was shocked by its resilience. Twenty dark green shoots have sprouted from a dead stump in total darkness. And I want so very much to take a metaphor out of a wisteria's invincibility.

Should we be like the wisteria, life and vitality from a dark dead stump?

Should we fear wisteria, can't kill that which refuses to die, and it will come for you when you least expect it?

Or is it a cautionary tale? Listen to those who warn you about the dreaded wisteria, for you can only make that mistake once.

I don't know.

I think we should take them all at once.

Yes, like the wisteria, we can rise against all odds, but so can zombies, so never let go of your dreams, and learn how to shoot a crossbow.


Read this nifty little article about how bad for you artificial sugar is.

What a shocker.

The article came up on my Facebook feed, so its best to take with a grain of salt.

And not artificial salt either. Pure Sodium Chloride.

There were a lot of things in the article that I didn't know; things like how Splenda is actually in a family of chemicals that are all poisons, and how much of that poison stays in your system.

Of course many rats had to die to bring me this information.

They are always the first to go.

But my thoughts wandered somewhere between swollen kidneys and brain cancer because it occurred to me that we already know how bad for us that stuff is.

And of course you could retort that if people knew how bad it is to be ingesting so many metric tons of poisonous chemicals, they would stop doing so and by their own virtue, live forever.

But they haven't stopped. So they must not know.

To which I reply "Of course they know"

They know.

They know and they just don't care.

Which is actually false. They do care. Life could not exist unless it was fundamentally driven by self preservation.

They know and they care.

They just don't care enough at the exact moment they decide to put that little packet in their coffee.

And something else occurs to me as I write this;

I know hundreds of people who ingest that stuff every day.


I know their names, their occupations, what kind of car they drive and what sports their children play.

But most importantly I know what they drink.

And a lot of them are knowingly poisoning themselves.

And I should take a little responsibility and do something about that.

But when I start to think about it, it also occurs to me that the vast majority of the people who poison their coffee in my little shop also happen to be the vast majority of the people I don't like very much.

In fact, the more I think about it, there is almost a perfect inverse relationship between fake sugar consumption and my affections.

Of course there are a few exceptions. And if you're reading this you are one of them. I know because if you're reading this, you most likely find me funny, which means we're automatically friends, and I love you.

But I can count you all on my left hand.

Which means, statistically, if you are a fake sugar consumer, there is only a 2% chance I'm gonna like you.

I think I'm going to refer to this phenomenon as my very own artificial superficiality.

Sing THAT back to yourself.

Artificial Superficiality

Artificial Superficiality Expialadocious.

Yet I'm not sure if condemning someone to kidney failure and brain cancer is an appropriate measured response to finding someone mildly insufferable, so I should probably say something, or at least move it out of their reach as if it was Halloween candy and they are all seven.

But I'm not going to.

Cause I am just a little evil. And cause I'm a diabolic mastermind with extremely long term and statistically insignificant plans.

But mostly cause they all know what they're doing.

They've got Facebook feeds of their own.

And if I take a little sociopathic glee from watching a select group of people feed their free radicals and then, like the hypocrite I am, polish off a double quarter pounder in six bites, don't think me a monster.

Though I may not be the model of a modern major general, it is only artificial diabolic superficiality.


Writing is hard.

Friday Five: For Jim

I wasn't ready for Jim to be dead.

Sure it had been half a year since I had seen him in my little shop and almost just as long since I had given him any real thought, but I wasn't ready for him to be dead.

When his wife told me that he had died, I was glad that the enormity of the event had passed some time ago. I can feel a great deal of compassion, but I'm terribly awkward at consoling people. I would have made an embarrassing priest (my agnosticism not withstanding) and a terrible psychologist.

His wife told me that my shop was one of his most favorite places.

I had to walk into the back office to see if I had anything in my eye.

I liked Jim.

He was good people.

He would come in at the crack of dawn and smile a warm smile and say "You know what I want, Josh"

And I always did.

And he always called me Josh. Except when he called me "Sir".

He could be cheeky like that at six a.m.

And I would get him his coffee and his muffin and we would exchange some human warmth between us.

Over the years I watched him grow weaker.

And then he stopped coming for a while.

And then he started up again.

And then he stopped again.

And then I would see him in the passenger side of the car and his wife would get his coffee and his muffin.

And then she didn't.

It happens like that with the people who walk into my shop. People pop in like an accident. Then they become regulars. Then they bring in their spouses and their children. Sometimes I get to know what they do for a living, which church they go to, whether or not they play golf or fantasy football. Sometimes they get new jobs and I don't see them except for the weekends, they go off to school, they move away. There is flirting, and inside jokes, and there are terrible Mondays and weekends to look forward to.

I'm treated like a rockstar by some, a door man by some, and an indentured servant by a select few, and you can guess who spends the rest of the afternoon with caffeine withdrawals.

But never people like Jim.

People like Jim get to hang in first class with the prompt service and extra pillows.

So here's to Jim . . .

I hope you lived your life well . . .

I hope you regretted doing the bad stupid stuff you probably did, 

and I hope you tried to teach your kids not to do the same bad stupid stuff even though they never would have listened to you anyway, at least you tried.

I hope you gave more than you got. Just to tip the scale in your favor. If there is a scale.

And lastly. . .

If there is a scale, and it does tip in your favor, I hope there's someone up there that knows you want a medium cup of coffee with a little bit of room (not for cream and sugar, but so you don't spill it in the car). And a reduced fat pumpkin ginger muffin. and a smile. and a wink. and a nod. and a little human kindness. 

Cause I can't do that anymore.

Feeling Groovy

Parking lot:

Trader Joe's:

The most cramped parking lot ever devised by man. It's as if Trader Joe's wants to prepare you for their thin aisles by creating a parking lot that only just barely allows adequate space for your vehicle.

I drive a Toyota Echo.

An impossibly thin, agile, comfortable, sub compact.

Even I have claustrophobia finding a spot.

I've had moments where I will change the dinner menu just because I don't want to deal with the hassle.

So there I am:

Parking Lot:

Trader Joes:

And I'm behind this old couple.

150 years old, give or take.

In an impossibly large truck.

Backing out of a compact space.


Terribly slowly.

Freakishly slowly.

And I hate them.

I hate them more than I've ever hated anything.

And because I have an eternity left to watch them,

I begin to love them.

To care for them.

To ache with empathy for every moment of their modern lives.

Because they are too old, and too slow, and they drive everyone else bat shit crazy.

And then the thought occurs to me that old people are amazing.

Not only have they done everything that I have ever done, twice over, but they have watched the world change and children be born, grow old, and die. They've driven cars with carburetors, paid with cash, and remembered telephone numbers. They've gone decades without A/C, micro brewed beer and internet porn.

Old people are amazing.

Except when I'm in a hurry.

Then eff em.

The only thing worse than getting stuck behind an old person, is getting stuck behind and old person who suddenly dies.

But then another thought occurred to me.

Children are amazing.

Except when I'm in a hurry.

Then eff them.

The only thing worse than waiting for a child to make ups its mind, or put on its effing shoes, is trying to explain to the police investigator why you had to hit your son with the coat rack that many times.

And then another thought occurred to me.

Stupid people are amazing.

The beauty they find in the simplest things. The way they laugh and enjoy what little life they have.

Except when I'm in a hurry.

When I'm in a hurry,

eff them.

I don't want to know anything about your life, I only want to know who you bank with so I can carpet bomb the people who taught you how to write a check.

And then a pattern emerged:

everything is amazing.

except when I'm in a hurry.

then eff everything. And eff everyone. And STFU, and GTFO and "Not tonight dear, I have headache."

Which never really happens.

Because sex, at least, is still amazing when you're in a hurry.

So the key to an amazing life:

Slow down.

And have more sex.

And somewhere between those two, buy an impossibly large truck and head to Trader Joes.

Friday Five: For the Mums

It's Mother's Day Weekend and since Waitdad is primarily focused on fathers and sons 250 posts out of the year, I think its high time to celebrate the indispensable ButMom with a little Friday Five:

So here goes:

Five Reasons Why Mom is better than Dad:

1. She is easier to please.
All you needs is flowers and a handwritten card to show her how much you love her. Dad, on the other hand, won't be satisfied with anything you do the rest of your life if you're a boy, and if you're a girl, all he cares about is marrying you off before he has to start paying the interest on your school loans.

2. Mom will drive you anywhere.
The wheels on her bus go round and round. Dad, however, will not take you anywhere that is within any distance that you could reach on your bike in less than a day. Anything farther and he will question your reason for going there in the first place.

3. Mom will cut the fat off your steak and the crusts off your bread.
Dad will say "Eat your steak" and if you don't he will eat it for you. And don't ever show him you have a sandwich. Dad loves sandwiches. Especially if he can watch you cry while he's eating it.

4. Mom will never hit you with a stray pitch when you're crowding the plate.
I know most baseball coaches are men, but frankly its a little misogynistic of you to assume that a woman can't coach a pony league team. However, with that said, a man will absolutely consider hitting his son/daughter with a baseball if he thinks it will send the right message. So, kids, if your dad is pitching, keep that back foot planted and your eye on the ball.

5. Mom just loves you more.
She does. All there is to it.

Dad does love you.

He loves you very much.

Even if you're a girl.

But mom loves you more.

Even if you're a girl.

But especially if you're a boy.

Knock, Knock

Hey dude. Yeah you, with the white shirt, and the black shorts, and leather binder. You, walking up and down the neighborhood in your neon nikes, the man who works for commission and has the law of big numbers on his side . . .

I feel terrible for, and completely annoyed by you, so I was going to leave you a basic note:

"Get off my lawn!"

But at thirty six years old, I've decided I can't say that until I'm an eighty-two year old Clint Eastwood.

And I was going to write something hostile:

"I hope your mother doesn't love you"

Or something passive aggressive:

"It must feel really bad knowing that there is an entire neighborhood hoping to never see you again."

Or condescending:

"Really? Neon Nikes? Are you a fan of Bo Jackson, or Bo Diddley? Cause whichever one . . . Bo knows . . . Bo knows . . . Bo knows."

Yet, I chickened out. Even when I convinced myself that by posting a "go away" note I was going to save him the five minutes its going to take for me to reject him, I still felt like I was being unneighborly.

And by extension, un-American.

Who am I to belittle what this man has chosen to do with his life? As if what I do for a living is any less a form of prostitution. A form a prostitution that wasn't even my first choice of prostitution gigs. A secondary or tertiary form of prostitution at best. Not exactly the asian sex trade, but I'm nobodies courtesan, and yet I've priced myself out of the pool boy market, which considering my pasty white skin, is just as well for everyone involved.

And seeing this young guy traipse from house to home reminds me of a company VP who recently quit her job to spend more time with her family. She's the only VP I have ever felt warmly about, and I've met them all, so it is kind of sad to see her go.

Actually, its not really all that sad.

What was sad, was looking into her face the last time I saw her and seeing how miserable she was. How totally out of place she looked. How uncomfortable she fit.

She was endearing and vivacious when I first sat down with her, and ten months later she looked like an extra on "The Walking Dead" and handed me one of the least inspiring compliments I'd ever received.

Now it is fair to say there may have been extenuating circumstances. Sick children or dead moms or any combination thereof, which, truth be told, can age you faster than Christopher Guest in the pit of despair, but I'm not sure that's the case here.

If you want my opinion, I think John C. Maxwell killed her.

John C. Maxwell, the guru of leadership, salesmanship, and developmental self help books. Masterbation material for all those who want to be more successful and blame themselves for not being so. S&M for the financial elite.

Now I'm not saying that it is wise to lay on your back and wait for fate to send you a sugar daddy, but the poor aren't poor just cause their lazy, the fat aren't fat just cause they're hungry, and I'm not a rockstar just cause I'm a coward, but if you believe these things, then you are absolutely bound to have a very difficult time out in the real world, for everyone becomes stupid and lazy and they all make bad decisions, and you are the only sane capable person left on the top of the heap, and in then end, Mr. Loman, you're gonna have to kill yourself, cause your children are useless, your wife is bat shit crazy, and they're all gonna starve if you don't.

You simply cannot qualify nor quantify a human life by any external means and if you try, you will drive yourself crazy doing so.

Maxwell thinks you can. Maxwell thinks you should. Maxwell would applaud the guff of the boy in black shorts if Maxwell didn't live in a gated community with a "No Soliciting" sign glued to his front door.

And if I asked Maxwell to guide me to being a rockstar or a novelist, he would tell me to have courage, have conviction, focus on my dreams, and don't let any external influences interfere with my work. "Talent is not enough!" he would say, "You must persevere!"

Which is pretty good advice.

Except when the lawn needs to be mowed. And my wife needs something lifted from the high shelf, or there is a spill on the floor. Except when the phone rings, or dinner is ready, or the children are asleep and sexy time just suddenly became an option.

Perseverance costs.

I once yelled at my son to stop bothering me while I was writing.

I was writing about how awesome it is playing catch with my son.

And my son was bothering me because he wanted to play catch.

What kind of success was I then, hmm?

What kind of success had the VP become? What kind of leader can you be when you have no respect for honest regular people living their own lives of quiet desperation?

The answer is, you can't.

and it will eat you up alive, like Maxwell's frippery ate up our now defunct VP.

The laws of big numbers tell you that if you bang on enough doors, someone will eventually answer. And the laws of big numbers tell you that even if you're selling scratched ABBA records, your gonna eventually knock on the door of a hipster vinyl-head DJ with money to spend who is home and awake at 2:30pm on a Monday. Just not on Maxwell's door. He is none of these things.

But salesman burn out just as fast as dreamers do. The scars of every path run just as deep.

And yes, you won't get anywhere from your living room couch. But there's a new episode of "Game of Thrones" on HBO and an entire season of "True Blood" that you haven't got to yet, and imagine the shame of trying to network without a least a cursory knowledge of good dialogue and soft core porn. People can't relate to you if you don't participate in their culture, and they truly hate you when you don't get their pop culture references.

So go ahead.

Read Maxwell.

Read Miller.

Assemble a snack plate and update your Netflix queue.

Do what you need to do to feel a sense of worth.

Answer the door and meet someone new.

Then go play catch with your children.

Stuck in the Friday Five

So I got up this morning. Took a shower. Put on some clothes and went to work.

Four hours later, I came back home, had a tuna sandwich, kissed my pretty little wife and went back to work.

Four hours after that, I came home, changed into an outfit more befitting 90 degree weather, loaded the kid into the car and headed towards the mom's house. For she has a pool and is willing to share.

Halfway to mom's I realized something.

I have been humming a Taylor Swift song for ten hours straight. If my frontal cortex was a radio station, I would owe Taylor Swift seventeen dollars and thirty-two cents.


Oh sure, we've all been caught bouncing to Kelly Clarkson with the windows rolled down at a red light, but Taylor Swift singing "I knew you were trouble when you walked in" for nearly ten hours is a cruel joke of brain power if I've ever heard one.

And that gives me and idea for today's Friday Five:

Songs that dance on the tip of your tongue.


Warning, however, do not continue reading if you're the kind of person who A) Blames other people for getting songs stuck in their head or B) Was born after 1978, for you will not know most of these songs and will forever be scarred if you look them up and I don't want to take on that kind of responsibility.

And also, please understand, this is in no way a complete list. It follows no pattern but what first jumped to my mind as I drove the last few miles to the mom's house. Make your own list and feel free to send it to me.

Number One:
Mickey was so fine, he blew Toni Basil's mind. And won't get out of yours.

Number Two:
Beat It
The worst is that you find yourself trying to emulate Michael Jackson's voice with your own painfully inadequate falsetto.

Number Three:
Manic Monday
Written by Prince, delivered to us by The Bangles. If you know it, it is now stuck there.

Number Four:
What I Am
Damn Edie Brickell with her nonsense lyric and infectious groove.

Number Five:
Anything by ABBA
Dancing Queen, Take a Chance, throw at dart at the wall and take your pick. However, the absolute effing worst, the one that will haunt your dreams, the one that will get you kicked out of every men's club you may or may not belong to:


That song is stickier than gum in your hair. Poo on your shoe. Sharpie on your forehead.

Trouble, Trouble, Trouble.