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Monday, August 31, 2009

Good Enough For Moses

My kids, for some strange reason, do not like me walking around the house in my towel.

My wife is strangely ambivalent. I haven’t asked my neighbors what they think, though my wife assures me that they are not pleased. I don’t see how they could even know what I do in the hour before I go to bed. Our big picture window opens out onto the street, not the neighbors house and the cars that stop to see my lovely flower garden in the front yard are too far away to see anything important through the window. When I leave the side door open for a little air I always stand out on the patio to see if there is any one watching. There never is. I tell my wife that like always,there is no one within sight and she just sinks lower into the couch and says “Of course not. All the neighbors know your routine by now.”

Now, I take exception to that. I am far from routine. I sometime wear a blue shirt to a white shirt Sunday school and wave a defiant hand in greeting to all the women who stare. Sometimes I listen to country music instead of my favorite Manhattan Transfer. Sometimes I skip a day of taking my Prozac for an adventure, and once in a while, if the mood hits, I walk around in my towel in the morning instead of at night. I don’t hear anyone yelling predictable over the fence to my face.

One of the perks that comes with mortgage payments is the ability, nay responsibility to take ownership and in my towel I am the king. As King, I admit, I don’t look as good in my terrycloth wrap as I once did - back in the day of single chin-dom.

Speaking of women being in awe of my 25 year old body from my college days, I made the mistake of letting my wife in on a new years tradition that I shared with some room-mates from school. On news years eve we would leave our clothes in the apartment and run out into the street and yell out our hopes for the new year. Some yelled for better grades, some yelled for money. I always yelled for common sense and better friends. Then we would try to peel our feet from the ice and make it back without anyone seeing us. It worked the fine the first year. I got my wish for a few better friends. But guess who I ended up with on the next new years.

The second year as January first rolled around Drinking Dave told all his friend, also named Dave, who told a bunch of fools who were waiting for us. Fortunately, being the smart one of the group, I suggested we change streets at the last minute. So only the most hardy of the old folks at Tuscan Villa living behind us who braved the late night caught a glimpse - which was there in subzero weather in the snow so it was not as glimpsy and it could have been.

I try to comply with my new years tradition for year even now. Not because of the camaraderie and friendship - Drinking Dave we later found out didn’t drink at all - he was just not very bright. And he used to water down my milk so he didn’t have to buy his own. Matt became a parasitologist which was no surprise, and the other guy (I don’t think I ever knew his name) is now the lieutenant Governor of one of the embarrassing states. He used to walk around home in far less that a towel and I’m sure based on the photos just published in the enquire, he still does.

My kids don’t know how lucky they are.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Omega Ann


My daughter Annie is upset with me because she has a cold sore the size of one of the red states on her lip and I won't let her kiss me.

Usually she squeals like a rabbit loosing a leg when I come home. She then kisses me and asks for money. When she has had me empty my pocket change onto the table she asks to go through my truck for more. When she is sure I am not holding out on her she retires to her room to log the spoils in a cryptic notebook with Hanna Montana on the cover. She then returns to the living room to tell us exactly how much money she needs to buy her scooter bike...or her car...or her new shoes. It changes like the weather or political positions.

The kiss is a huge wet thing that goes up one side on my face and down the other, sometimes while the squeal is in progress. As a dad, this is delightful. It’s a moment I will cherish as long as I will remember which, mercifully, will not be terribly long due to the aging process which accelerates with each squeal. As a hygienist, however, I want to run to the shower with a can a industrial disinfectant and a brillo pad to spend the rest of the evening.

How does one tell their lovely daughter that she has the lips of death while offering her a band aid, some handy wipes or a spray bottle of clean-up acid and not have any lasting repercussions that conclude with Anne in a tower with a gun and me talking to the media trying to explain away my not making emotional connections with my daughter that quiet night when she was needy, infected, and loud?

"Hey…there, my favorite daughter. Thanks for the high pitched squeal and all, and though I would like to hug you now, I just got a look at that thing on your lip and I need to hurl. See ya in a month! Love ya! -Dad."

These are not the words of a loving, caring father.

These are words that scare a child and make them feel like they have contracted the virus from an end of the world movie making her own father want plexiglas between them like that which surrounds a convenience store clerk at two in the morning in LA. These are words for which I will be paying therapy bills until she marries a marine who will take her to Germany where I will have to send care packages until one of us dies. More to the point, these are words that have me sleeping on the couch in perpetuity.

I tried to kiss her on the forehead thinking it was a politically correct compromise, but she insists on having a goodnight lip kiss. So last night I got in the tub with a newspaper and sat there for an hour and a half so by the time I would be out she would be fast asleep. Nope. She made some Machiavellian deal with her older sister to be sent a text when I was out of the tub.

Does being a good dad mean I have to let her plant one on me? Does it mean I have to tell her that the self-portraiture she made from bottle caps and egg shells is sheer brilliance? How about her tap dance to music of BonJovi? Exactly how many times do I need to see it to be considered a not bad dad? How long do I have to fawn over and pocket the duct tape wallet she gave me for Arbor day? Cold sores come and go, but family is forever. I find that as depressing as she does. And, until I get a definitive answer I am going to have to wing it.

So, my darling Annie with her lips of death, come on over here and give me a hug. Here’s a Brillo pad for you, and one for me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Excruciating Cows

My dad liked to take the family out for long drives to see the sights. We lived in Idaho. Most of the sights were fields, trees, mountains, ditches and fields. Also I should mention the fields with ditches bordered by fields and ditches. And more trees.Sometimes there was an elk or a bird in a tree. The bird was in the tree. The elk was wherever the elk was - but never in a tree. If the elk had been in the tree then I wouldn’t be writing this memory on fields and trees but on the cool elk we saw scaling a lodge pole pine, swinging from evergreen to evergreen in the wilds of Idaho one adventurous sunny day. That would be an essay I tell ya.

But, no. It was a bird in the tree. We would stop and look for hours. Hours at the bird in the tree which, for some odd reason, I could never see but my all my evil sisters could. It’s not that I was incredibly interested in the birds of southeastern Idaho. I was just not going to be left out of the future conversation where everyone else got to see the miraculous bird in the magnificent tree.

“Everyone had a great time on that fine excursion. We all wrote to grandma about the drive that culminated in the viewing of the flora and fauna of wondrous nature that was enjoyed by all- except Davison, because he didn’t see the bird.”

Lynette, the queen of the evil sisters would always see the bird right away and then she would run off to be the first in line for the bathroom to enjoy the freshness of a clean restroom, first for the square ice cream shack where she would bask in the creamy newness of the first scoop, or first at the snack counter where she would get her choice of candy and comics. I would be last and get soggy, sloppy, circus peanuts and Archie & Jug Head.

Teachers-pet.

She later told me that she never saw anything dad pointed out - that it was all a maniacal ruse. The secret she says, spilling years old beans, was to acknowledge the beautiful bird or the mysterious moose or the chattering chipmunk which allowed dad to feel like Roger Ranger, and then to be on your merry way.

My children have learned this all too quickly. Driving along the country lane I point out to them the interesting cows alongside the road. They point out to me that saying “interesting cows” is like saying “appetizing barf” or “satisfying hang nails.” I, however, am getting excited with each and every new bovine and my wife feigns interest with a smile which is mostly because she isn't cleaning the livingroom. They simply say “Yes dad we see them.”

Me: “I really like the black and white ones. They look just like the cows on the commercial!”

“Yes dad, How lovely.”

Me: “The brown ones give chocolate milk, ya know.”

“And if you shake them you get a milkshake. Yes dad, we know.”

Me: “Birds!”

“Thanks again, Dad.”

Okay, they are just not impressed with the cow thing, so my wife and I will enjoy the view while they swap tunes on their devil machines. Sometimes we talk about them because they cant hear us anyway with those things in their ears. We can solve the worlds problems on one drive in the country.

“Oh look honey. Elk in a tree!”

Monday, August 3, 2009

I Am The Alpha Bunny

The book I am reading, “You, Your Bunny, and the Universe” states that rabbits will respect the leader of the group, i.e. the one in charge. In order to maintain rabbits properly, one must, according to chapter #3 -Rule the hutch, rule the world; Emit the confidence and power of the head rabbit.

I just need to show him who’s the boss. Just like I do with my kids.

I know our bunny James Bond Bunny (not my name idea) feels he is in charge of his own private Idaho. I am okay to let him be in charge of the cage and property slightly adjacent. But I want him to do what I ask when we pull him out of his comfort zone and close the cage door.

In short, I want him to do bunny-ish stuff. Stuff like wiggling his nose just for the heck of it. And hopping little cute bunny hops through the grass and not make a break for it like a convict during a sloppy change of guard. And not screaming like a bat fresh out when you, and by you I mean me, try to pick him up to show the neighborhood kids how kind and docile bunnies can be.

Did you know that bunnies could scream blood curdling house of horror bad hair-day screams that make little kids and me wet themselves? Did you? Nobody told me. I asked the guy at the gun counter if he knew, and he said that “yes, he knew”, and so did both his grandmothers, his ex-wife, his lawyer, and everybody else in the whole world except me. Then he picked his teeth with a display machete. Screaming bunnies were not in the book.

By way of information, bunnies do not like the perfect bagged and cared-for little carrot-etts you buy for them in the grocery store. They do not like lush green lettuce or summer squash from the natural counter at GigantoMart either. They only crave vegetables and delicate flowers if they have discovered them for themselves in my garden. Apparently they need fresh kill - none of this clean and colorful and crisp crap from the store.

How I found this out is an interesting story to my Dad. He said he knew this all along as a farm boy in Jackson Wyoming. He says that rabbits really scream when you skin them. What he means is that the skin comes off. Off the body.

Off the rabbits body.

So I told this story to James Bond the bunny so he would be as grossed out…I mean afraid, and so he would fear me and possibly grant me a little respect the next time I pick him up to show the neighbor kids - the ones who aren’t freaked out by their last visit.

He was not impressed. Much like my children. He doesn’t even look at me when I walk into the yard. He goes on with his business with the disdain one associates with the queen mother. He knows that there is not much chance that I will be the one to remove his skin if indeed it should require removing. It’s obvious he doesn’t think of me as the authority. Once he calms down, he seems to like me though. They all do.

My Dad comes waltzing out to the back yard with his rabbits foot key chain complaining that I am to easy on my kids and the rabbit. James Bond Bunny sits up and salutes. I even think I heard him humming the Wyoming state song.

Apparently my dad is the alpha bunny.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Don’t Read This If I Owe You Money

It has been over ten years since I have bounced a check and, coincidentally, I have not had a checking account for the same amount of time.

I haven’t really missed it - having a checking account. I'm in the bank every three days to get money. I know all the bank tellers by name and complement all of them when they get their hair cut or styled. Even Javier the new teller who never wears shoes unless Marsha is running the shift. And they all know me back. I saw the new one at the gigantomart yesterday and she told me I was wearing her favorite shirt of mine and then she wrote down for me my standing balance as of the end of that business day.

I just hate owing the bank for the borrowing of money for a few days - which is what is commonly known in the world of finance as "the bouncing of a check." It happened to me frequently in my youth. I was of the school of “I have all these checks, how can I be out of money?”

Now I just unilaterally owe everybody money. I can't go anywhere or do anything without running into someone to whom I owe.

I'm embarrassed to see my dentist any more even though my wife has been making monthly payments. I’m afraid he’ll look at me over his annoyingly straight teeth and say “Mr. Cheney, our records show that you’ve recently had a root canal and a crown. However, you are late enough on your payments that we are going to have to repossess. Lets not have this get ugly. Please sit down and say Ahhhhh”.

There is no one to talk to about my financial dilemma. My wife is the logical choice to air out my woes. She is caring, kind, and a great conversalationest. But the conversation always seems to move towards the time when I pawned her Donny Osmond cds for rent money. She keeps the IOU next to her pearls which I haven’t hawked yet.

I went to my high school reunion last year. I’m not going to mention the year. Just not gonna do it. Someday if I’m on Oprah and she asks me of her own free will, I will tell her. Not the studio audience - just her. I love Oprah. And I don’t owe her anything yet.

Any who - High School Reunion punch line. I still owe lunch money.

If I could just get the energy to get a second job. I went to the doctor last week to see why I am so run down and gave me an EKG. Well, I am actually on the bargain program with my insurance - He actually gave me a EK. And I had to attach all the little tabs to my own chest which was kinda fun. I got a vitamin b12 shot from him also - in a baggie for me to do on my own time. I brought the syringe home and had our drug dealer neighbors give it to me cause I have a weak stomach. He is the only one that I don’t owe. Actually, he owes me for letting him use a corner of my yard to grow those interesting looking plants last year.

So, it’s the weekend at my house and time to pay bills. Everyone has something to do or places to go. My youngest stayed up all night standing in line to see the latest robot-takes-over-the-world movie. He sits here teaching me swearwords in Spanish. We watch TV for a bit. He treats me like a regular Joe. He doesn't care how much I am in debt. It’s kinda nice. Sitting together, eating popcorn and watching the quality program on the sci-fi channel.

Then he loaned me ten bucks.