HHome of Ask Prodigal Dad

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloweenie

My son Grey, dressed like Barnie the purple dinosaur, was very disturbed by the many children that ran ahead of him and sometimes over him on Halloween night as he walked with us from house to house collecting his treats. If he was not in his mothers arms away from the action then he was standing on the sidewalk getting trampled by witches, pirates, death-eaters and Martha Stewart. Finely, after having his tail crunched-on one two many times, he pointed right at the offending princess in snow boots who stood with several princesses of different persuasions and yelled at the top of his neglected little lungs “Niener, niener, niener. You don’t have a wiener”.

Now there are several parts of this action that I applaud. I admire his willingness to do something about a perceived problem at hand. I appreciate his saving that kind of loudness for the out-of-doors. I am thankful that he didn’t smack the snow princess as he had in the recent past, and I think he will go far in anatomy and physiology once he is of legal age and no longer our responsibility.

There are a few things I wasn’t so gosh darn thrilled about. That he choose to yell this observation to our bishops daughter is one. That he proceeded to do a "You don’t have a wiener dance" while waving his hinney is another. That he then repeated the whole chorus the next day in church during a very quiet moment in our general meeting was the straw that poked the camel in the rear and made his mother run for the door while the rest of us sat there giggling like church hyenas on gas.

Several of those seated near us just rolled their eyes and tried to retain focus on the meeting. Those a little further away were mortified because, being further away means that they have not become acclimatized to the strangeness that is my family and therefore were not accustomed to what has become a common occurrences - though admittedly this was a bit louder.

The problem is not Greys verbosity, or his precociousness. Its that everybody thinks I taught him the chant, or to belch, about barking spiders,...or the hinny dance. It's not just the boy either. The whole family is this way.

Our neighbors had to sign-off on us when we moved in. I didn’t want anyone claiming that we caught them off guard.

It started with my wife who wanted to wear green fuzzy Muppet socks to our wedding. She claims it started with me making up lyrics to hymns at church. Oddness is not something we as parents necessarily encourage consciously. It just seems that in our case the apple has fallen straight down and basks in the shade of our bizzar-atude.

Now that they know us, most of our neighbors and friends actually defend our two chicken in our backyard that lay eggs in the bushes. The either like or pretend to like the graveyard and the giant ghost of Hillery Clinton (scary) in our front yard for Halloween. They don’t call the police when there are kids singing in our driveway learning to Broadway belt. And they are not offended at children dressed as Barney doing wiener dances for the neighborhood.

We liken the not having of a …hot dog bun filler as a metaphor for ones lack of a sense of humor. If you don’t have one, you better do a quick drive-by past our house so you don't see Annie's solar system hanging in the tree and Ihoma, who has inherited his mothers fondness for fuzzy socks, who will be with his football buddies hanging from the porch re-enacting the attack of the zanzabarbarians of the planet Cleone. And I may have my shirt off letting my wife teach me how to play basketball.

It's Halloween - time to face your fears and celebrate weirdness, to wear fuzzy socks and your Barny costume. Serious folk better keep your distance, because if you don’t have a wiener it’s just not my fault.

Flowers or Money

Nothing says "I’m sorry for your loss" like a big check written to “cash.”

Of course, flowers can be a nice, loving and thoughtful touch too.

The last funeral I went to was embarrassingly sparse. There were two appropriate flower arrangements. The third was something that must have been in a storage closet for when the nursery acts out "The Garden of Eden" during the spring when there aren't any good holidays to sing about in church.

The appropriate two arrangements were made with, of all things, carnations. Carnations! The Velveeta of the floral world! I just wanted to stop being sad and run outside and productively pick pansies or petunias instead. But my wife said if I was productive people wouldn't recognize me and might not let me back in the building. That and I was pretty sad.

I should have just run out of the church anyway to pull up everything I could find with a bloom on it for several quick arrangements to fill in gaps - which was the entire podium. I can do things like this thanks to having grown up with seven sisters; one with two heads, and all of them artsy.

Churches should have a store room of silk flowers for those times when someone forgot, or the sad cases when there aren’t many friends or family. I am hoping that in this case, with no flowers in the chapel, that the bereaved at least walked out of there with a purse full. It’s the least that should be done.

Just an FYI, a check is preferable. Most of the bereaved at a funeral are drugged to the gills. At least they are in my family. Of course, my family is drugged to the gills at most family gatherings. That is the only way you can keep us all together in the same building for any period of time without adding to the death count.

Cash is too anonymous. Folks may not remember who slipped them the meds, let alone the 500 dollar bill. A check says “Here is something to help you during this sad time.” It also says who the money is from at the top left so that she can write everybody a letter later about what a sweetheart you were to her as she watches an iceberg crash into the Pacific Ocean from afar on the cruise ship's Aloha deck on the vacation that she paid for with your $500 dollars. What a nice guy.

Now, I realize that you should not be giving gifts just so others will think you are the greatest. But is there a better reason? I know, I know...for the sheer joy of bettering someone else's life - for the simple feeling of peace and love that giving to others brings.

Uh-huh. Yup, thats good too. I also want the person to know that I think enough of them to give them a wad of money. Money pays bills, it buys diet Coke, ...and it pays the bills. It says "Its me that loves you enough to not be controlling about what color of carnations you are given to decorate your house with while you grieve".


Generally I dislike funerals - as opposed to my sister who loves them, thrives on them, has a collection of little black dresses for every sad occasion. She loves to make people feel better when they are low with a low neckline. And don't we all need to feel better at a viewings? She considers herself the fashion Florence Nightingale of funerals.

I guess it's sixes - except that I don't do little black dresses. I say just sign the darn check and let them be off on their Alaskan cruse.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Call Me Back If You Want To Live!

Message I leave on my daughters cel phone: “Darling child, please call me before I decide to either burn all your tube tops & give your old cell phones to a charity of my choice or to turn your bedroom into a meditation chamber/chamber of horrors where I will hang all your school photos from when you had braces and acne. ”

Hyperbole is the only way to get through to my kids. Exaggeration is the new black, and its out of style already. It's not like they really will die if any one sees them mowing the lawn in a pair of not the latest shoes, or if I don my favorite saffron orange sarong to drive them to school one more time. Shirley, they don't really believe that if they cross their eyes like that they will stick until they get their first tax refund. We are way past simple exaggeration at this point. We are upon hyperbole at its dramatic best/worst. If I am not red as a beet and hoarse as a ...screaming red faced horse waving both a machete over my head and their allowances over the disposal a then no one listens to me!

Me, calmly: “I was wondering if one of you would kindly leave the video game long enough to help clear the chickens out of the dining room.”
Them: “Did you hear something?”

No, calm and kind and civil do not work on Cherry Hill Dale Drive. One must create an extraordinary scene and make ample use duct tape, spray paint or another aerosol type can and a lighter which is also good for ant hills that appear out of nowhere in my garden. This I only do during emergencies because I tend to burn more than just ants which is where my family learned to love burnt green tomatoes. Usually it would take me some time to round up these items, but fortunately my oldest son keeps these tools handy in the hole he put in the couch while he was busy not doing the laundry - but back on task.

Here is the worst. My kids pretend to pay attention when I say something I feel is semi-needful to know, like where the gas shut-off valve is located or what not to tell grandpa about the elective surgery. They get a text on their phone from a friend or someone really important they just met on facebook while I am in the middle of my speech,...and they read it while I am yelling! I am yelling and they are lol-ing and mbf-ing to SuziBob down the facebooking street!

And, it’s not just the kids. Hyperbole is also the only thing that works at my place of employment. I can't get time off unless it’s the end of the world or there is an early rodeo that day.

Message from me to my boss: “Hi, it’s me, Mr. Cheney...the one who sings at the register and who gathers carts like there is no tomorrow? Anywho, there really is no tomorrow tomorrow because I need the day off. You see, my sponge collection blew up like thanksgiving day balloons when the sewer backed up, and I lit my goatee on fire trying burning ants. And if you don't believe that, there is the rodeo tonight...”

My wife used to believe that if hyperbole is used too often it loses its useful edge. She quickly moved up the ladder from asking to pleading, to heavy exaggeration to violent overstatement. Now she has taken a well worn page from my book. She screams at them to turn the sound down, pick up their clothes and to stop crushing their pop cans under the sculpture grandpa gave to us for Arbor Day or she will cut their arms off and leave them for the stumps that they are! My wife is having about the same result as I am having, only they don’t throw things at her.

Message from daughter to me: Dad, you left me on empty again! I’m not ever letting you use my car no matter how many cops you say are after you. And my rear view mirror better be glued back on by tonight or I want back every penny I’ve loaned you.

And please keep the aerosol cans and the lighter out of the car!