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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Ice Man Snoozeth

There are two kinds of people in this world. How many bad jokes start this way?

Here is one more. Only it ain't a joke - it's my wife.

My wife needed me to take her to work this morning at five-o-flaming o-clock in the morning. Being that I was incoherent (having gone to bed just an hour before), she wisely aimed me at the van door, sat me in the passengers seat and drove to work herself while I un-thawed. This allowed me to be awake enough to drive myself home. Her hope was that I, like a horse in an old move western turned loose, would be able to find my way home before I died or was caught and quartered by a not very neighborly neighbor.

I don't really remember the drive home but I must have driven without incident because the van was neatly parked without a dent and I woke up in my own bed a little bit later, oh, say noon.

I do, however, remember vaguely that she spent 30 minutes clearing every flake of snow off each window in the van - including the little triangle windows-ettes that no one can see through with out folding ones-self in half.

Every last snowflake.

She even stood there for a minute or two upon finishing to permit the last of the dying storm to land on her windshield so she could whisk it away with a "humph" and a nod. Nobody humph's like my wife. I have not seen such determination from my wife since she caught our eldest daughter lying about her whereabouts and then spent three hours hiding in the bushes waiting for Myelda to leave the boyfriends house in order to catch her in the act. Much later, after I had decided that my wife was must be driving to Vegas again to check out the overnight motel listings, I received a call from her to come and pull her out of a window well. Fun times, those.

At the stop light near our house that snowy A.M., my wife threw open the door and shoved an alarmingly large squeegee onto the windshield to remove several spots of moisture that had dared to elude the wiper blades with the gusto of a crazy woman hanging out of her car at an intersection - which, incidentally, she was. I tried to go back to sleep. It took me a whole three seconds but I managed it nicely.

Later in the day, after a diet coke or seven, I pondered the differences between she and me. She likes to hang out at intersections. I like to sleep through them. She likes to spend hours cleaning nature from off her vehicle in the morning. I would rather hang out at intersections.

Many a time I have had snow on my truck windshield as I drive to work. Unless it blows off, there it remains until it melts off or turns into a lovely sort-of-see-through-ish ice. If I have my diet coke cup in tow I may use it to break loose the windshield wipers or make a cup sized hole to see through, but no more than that. If a small hole to look through was good enough for my ancestors at the Alamo then its good enough for me. Why spend minutes clearing out a safe driving vista when the snow is coming off in a month or two on its own anyway? Besides, hunching over a little means I can look through the slat just under the wiper blades with no extra time or effort.

And Ibuprofen works just fine, thank you, to un-cramp my back when I get to work.

I have better things to do. Better things, like sleeping, drinking diet coke, and driving to Vegas to jump start my wife's van cause she left the lights on while hiding from motel security.

At least Vegas is warm enough that I don't have to waste valuable seconds cleaning off anybodies windshield. Not even my own.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This is why I dont dress up like Santa at church functions - no matter how chubby I get or however many times Sister Smithson asks.

Fortunately, that wad of matted hair deflected Santa's herring-breath, or Little DonnaLouWho would have tossed her cookies.

Picasso Santa: As a special holiday treat he gives the children one of his left ears.

"The malls Rent-a-Santa hasn't shown up yet and there's a line all the way back to Mr. Chows Korean Deli...Hey, I've got an idea...! "
"Now you stay right here little girl while I go get my teeth."
For the second time that night, Sarah Ann wished she has brought her pink blankie and her mace.

"You just stop the squealing' and shut that little trap of yours. Capish?"

Mother screamed "Run, Vela-Mae! Ditch your little brother - He'll just slow you down - Save yourself!

Other than his palpable dislike for children and his severe allergic reaction to the healing properties of the sun, P Ditty Doggi made a memorable Mr. Clause.

"You want to give me a Tenor Saxophone? Oh Santa, I just couldn't. If only I had something to give you in return...

For no other reason than to freak-out the kids, Hans the Gnome likes to dress up as a different literary character and suddenly appear in strange places.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

God Bless Earplugs and Cold Medicine

My wife doesn't snore.

It is definitely not her that lands planes in the early am from her warm perch under her electric blanket. When I am jolted out of our bed in the middle of the night it is for some reason other than the eardrum shattering, earth shaking tremor-izing that comes from the inadvertent rearranging of furniture as it scoots across the room on its own due to the vibrating one usually associates with bowling for cats, train wrecks, or
horrendously bad plumbing.

I have become used to a fresh new room arrangement every morning and have learned, thanks to several stubbed toes, to turn on the lights prior to a foray to the bathroom. I also keep a bucket of spackle and a trowl in the closet to fill holes in the walls after a particularly active night. As far as my wife is concerned, the plaster on the walls was spread by a drunk who didn't use quality plaster to cover the very old lath in an even older house. Also, there seems to be a ghost Named Howard that haunts just our room nightly and recreates his flamboyant life as an unsuccessful decorator - thus the nightly furniture dance.

These are the lies I have to tell both my wife and our children to protect our marriage after the kids have had to climb over the equivalent of the French Resistance barricades to wake us up in the morning.

No one will acknowledge that my wife snor...well, you know. I have been blaming the noise on anything I can think of, including our neighbors the 80 year old Quakers from next door. This is difficult when the loudest noise coming from their house was the crunching sound that came from their garage when Mr. Quaker fell and broke his hip. He didn't do Sparky, their pet hedge hog any good either. Fortunately the old guy was wearing a parka which kept him from being a human pin cushion, and also fortunate that Sparky the hedge hog had made no real lasting attachments - other than being pinned to Mr. Quaker's parka in perpetuity.

There has never been much noise in this neighborhood - not even when the lady up the road was appointed to the position of city librarian by her husband the Mayor. This was a real problem because not only was she his second wife, but she was a dental hygienist by trade and a democrat. And the library was named for the first wife.

Not even the neighbors across the street, the Angel family, who have their own christen rock band they call “Noah's Revenge”make much noise. They put out a new lovely CD of Mormon/Christen music that is the second in a three part series to honor Mary Magdalen called "Hymns to Her". On this CD are, again I use the word "lovely" songs with titles like, "I Was Blind, But Now I Sing”, and “The Food Storage Polka”.

Sometimes, in the silent pre-dawn this music waifs round the neighborhood whispering encouraging and uplifting messages to folks of all kinds and creeds. Messages of hope, like "Don't Give Up!" or "Endure To The End!", or "There Is A Two-fer Sale On Cream Of Chicken Soup Until Friday." Their music floats gently until it crosses the street to my house where it meets up with the sound of my wife fast asleep. Her log-sawing is like a magnet to the unwary, a light bulb to the moth that is the music. The snoring slinks like the Angle of Death and destroys all. The delicate music hasn't a chance. Snoring reaches out, caressing the music and then beats it to a fine pulp as Pharaohs wife must have beat her servants for not pulling the potted plants inside before the grasshoppers arrived.

Yes, I am comparing my wife's snoz-fest to a plague worthy of Pharaoh. Her snoring is the biblical bully of our neighborhood.

There. I've said it out loud. My wife snores! My wife snores!

I feel free. I feel as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders, a huge, brain drilling, tree up-rooting, NyQuil drinking burden.

Please keep this information to yourself or I won't have a bed to not sleep on.

Case In Point

We slept here once.

Space age materials NASA is donating for the construction of a sound barrier between our bedroom and the rest of the neighborhood. A shout out and "thank you" to Major Nelson for his speedy action. You may have saves lives!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Incredible, Increasingly Common Invisible Coat

I have purchased seven coats this year for two children. That is 3.5 per younger child. The point five explains a lot, but more to the point: Where the heck are these coats?

I can see one or two of them disappearing due to taste differences between my kids and me. I have taste, and they have me to decide for them which coat is best. Sometimes, I admit, this goes over as well as a lima bean salad at a birthday party. It's easy to loose a coat you don't like. But 3.5 of them? And since when did kids get to freely express their opinion? What do likes and dislikes have to do with coat wearing. It's cold outside for Pete's sake - wear a coat!

So, in a moment of weakness I break down and ask them...“Where is that lovely hounds tooth jacket I just bought you with the money I should have, in retrospect, spent on sending you to Canada for boarding school?”

"I lost My Coat"- Explanation Number One: I left it at school. Sorry. Can't happen. I got a good gander at their lockers when I attended “Berate Your Kid Night" at Parent Teacher conference last month. It is the size of my old Brady Bunch Lunchbox and opens up just as well. They couldn't fit a coat and books in it at the same time.

I am, of course, assuming that there are books, for in my parenting years I have not seen nary a one at home. I did find a copy of “Catcher in the Rye” once in Ihoma's book bag, but he fell all over himself explaining that he was just keeping it for a friend who got in-trouble at home for reading. Other than that, not once a book!

Because they never have Homework.

Because they did it at school.

Or Because their teacher doesn't like them and gives everybody in the 6th grade a handout excepting my poor, poor child. Or, lastly – Because the teacher erases the assignment board too fast! - which is close to my personal favorite: I can't see the blackboard because you make me get ready for school too fast and I forget my glasses.

Wait. Got in trouble for reading? How does that happen?

You go to your room for a month young man! I won't have that blankity-blank reading stuff in my house! We are an X-box playing, plaid wearing, rifle & slingshot toting, big hair kinda family, and no son of mine is gonna screw it up by reading! You listening to me, BOY!

I like it. Reverse Psychology. It's whats for dinner.

I Lost My Coat, Explanation Number Two: I lost it at church. Okay, this is sort of feasible. Those church going folk will save a penny where ever they can. But I would have seen it on a munchkin running around the neighborhood, and believe me, I have been keeping an eye out.

Explanation Number Three: It's dirty. Sorry, doesn't fly with me. Have you seen the things these kids are wearing? It doesn't matter if its been in the laundry pile for weeks under smelly socks, if Myelda wants to wear the pink fur-lined “I'm a Brat” tee shirt, them “I'm a Brat” it is – regardless of smell or wrinkles.

Final Explanation: I gave it to a street urchin who didn't have a coat. OK, this makes me tear up a little just like the “mother needs Christmas shoes” song. To think that my child would give up something of his, that they would actually go cold rather than have some poor thing go without a Hawaiian luau themed parachute jacket I picked out for them myself! This trumps all. God bless my sweet children.

Unless they're lying and then I am going to kill them a slow and painful death – like boarding school in Moose 'n Mouse Pass, Canada. A quiet place where in their spare time they can shop for coats.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gold, Frankenstein and More

Two years ago my daughter Annie gave us all presents for Christmas that were thoughtful and seemed to fit both occasion and recipient perfectly. She gave her mother deodorant and a lovely pearl necklace. The former looked remarkably like the deodorant brand my wife bought for herself a week earlier, and the latter resembled that which I had given to my wife for her birthday several months before – down to the initials etched into the clasp.

The gift with my name scribbled with a sharpie was spot-on. I received, from my darling daughter, a electric shaver with my old stubble clippings still left inside, and my favorite cologne - the very same bottle I had been using for three years. The cologne was not at all a surprise as she failed to screw the lid on tight and it leaked all over the under tree area. We all smelled like me for months, which in this case was a good thing. I have had to change my cologne brand, however. This year we pulled out the Christmas decorations and there is still the scent of “Bruno for Manly Men” to remind everyone of how wonderful I am and how not-washable the Christmas stockings are.

The gift Annie gave her older brother was his DVD of “Young Frankenstein” which made both him and me happy because he had been looking for it and I had been blamed for its disappearance.

Last year Annie didn't have a lot of money, which is to say that I didn't get the Christmas bonus I was expecting. To make up for the meager offerings purchased to present to us as presents from her, she wrapped each and every item individually and placed same individually wrapped item in a box of sometimes disproportionate size and then wrapped the box. I received a small pack of triple AAA batteries in six festively wrapped packages covered with several layers of scotch tape. My wife was more blessed than I in her Christmas haul from my financially challenged Annie. She received M & M's – each piece wrapped and taped and placed in a larger box. It was a family sized bag. She went through 4 rolls of Giganto-Mart giganto wrap.

This year my daughter is, once again focused on what she can give rather than what she will get. I must say that I do love this about her – her focus on others. I asked her what she wants, and she told me.

What she most wants from her older brother is a hug at intervals of one-a-day. She is willing to make him hot chocolate from scratch, do his laundry, clean his truck, let him have her computer time - all this in the name of hug-a-tude. My older son puts up with it. Barely, if that. Even with Annie's payment he figures that he gets the short stick. But he is going to give her one hug a day if I have to pay him or threaten him with denied access to ESPN.

From her older sister Myelda, Annie wants to be liked. Sometimes Myelda is just too cool to hang out with Annie. Annie just wants a sister.

From her Mom she wants Annie Time – time Mom spends with Annie uniquely called, originally enough, Annie Time. She doesn't care what is done, as long as it's done with her.

From me she wants food. Lots of it. She likes to cook and experiment, and I'm willing to finance her foray because each year it gets increasing less bizarre and sometime surprisingly palatable soon to be edible. Butterscotch chip - jello cookies? You know I'd love another one, Sweetie!

If she is focused on food instead of gift-giving, there will be a lot less of the day dedicated to unwrapping her presents.

While I am worrying how to bribe the family into giving Annie what she really wants, she is busy worrying what to give us. This year I hear through the grapevine, she is giving everybody busts of themselves she has created of each family member made with love in her biology class. That's one syllabus I would like to see. She has placed each bust on a pedestal covered with gold-leaf she informs me. As soon as I buy the gold-leaf.

Next year I want to sleep for Christmas. The whole day. Annie's gift to me. I will do that while everyone else eats butterscotch-jello cookies.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Not With Stupid

My son is officially in a relationship - not that he'll fess up to it in public or private or anywhere there are other people or any people, or with words written and/or spoken, hand gestures or interpretive dance. I only know he is in a relationship because while he and Maggie were standing in line at Giganto-Mart the clerk opened a new check stand and motioned for Maggie to come over to the new and shorter line and Grey, my son, was overheard to say firmly, “She's with me”.

That's it. That's how I know. Notice how I said “he and Maggie” and not Grey's girlfriend or friend, or date, or partner or some chick he knows. Oh, no! that would imply a relationship that he has not announced and is trying to avoid. And so, we the people are not allowed to make use of any un-approved euphemisms or shortened and lovely catch phrases like “Hey You” that would make either of them uncomfortable.

While cutting ham the other day (and yes, I am bragging) I had the unmitigated temerity to say “hand this plate of expensive ham to your girl for me, would ya?” The evening was over. They were out of there faster that a nun on meals on wheels – coats and pieces of sliced ham in tow (again, bragging).

Now the funny thing is that he just spent enough money on Maggie's Christmas presents to feed a small African nation a month of ham. It wasn't much of a secret either. He brought a shopping cart of electronics from his bed room (apparently he bought her a shopping cart, too). He had to make two trips. He asked me to wrap the presents for him to give her because I am the best at everything in our house except for making money and making money.

So I did. It took me two hours. I had to stop twice for my so that my wife could massage my thumbs and rub me down with Bengay or something equally as smelly that wordlessly informs everyone in the vicinity that I am working hard even though I am in enough pain to have to wear smelly ointment.

Long silly story shortened and still silly - Maggie is making a haul this Christmas!

Notice that I say Maggie, and not “the girl who is now not able to walk through a metal detector because of all the Christmas she is wearing/carrying” or something equally as catchy and charming.

My daughter Annie, in an increasing less-rare act of generosity, bought Grey and Maggie shirts that say “Stupid” and “I'm with Stupid,” though it's not clear which shirt was for which person - Maggie for dating Annie's dumb brother, or Grey for just being.

When Grey caught whiff of the shirts, he made Annie return them and exchange them for many bags of Doritos.

I'm not sure how I am going to handle the announcements when they get married, and they are getting married. I can tell because they try way too hard to keep everything under wraps. The announcements would have to read something like...

The parents of Maggie, and the parents of Grey - who do not really know each other - have decided over the phone to invite you to a normal, everyday dinner (where no one will be using the silver or the nice china) to enjoy something simple like spam or flapjacks in honor of Thursday.

The accompanying photo of the lovely two, but distinctly different people will have to be spliced together in secret because Grey and Maggie haven't been seen together in the same room since the whole ham thing (Bragging)

Their reception colors will be outdoor tan and army green in camouflage, and fake glasses with nose and mustache will be handed out at the door as party favors.

An addendum will have to be added, which will read...

Please, no tube-tops. (I will have to add this because my of my wife's horrible experience with a tube top this last Thanksgiving)

And for a special wedding treat, my daughter Annie will be serving Doritos.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Joys Of Rent-to-Own

And my wife says that men can't multi task! Look at those pecs and tell me to my face that I can't multi-task!

Here I am in our basement holding up the ceiling while my wife is upstairs having her family over for a quick brunch. She had to hold up the floor during Thanksgiving so it's only fair that I take my turn. See how I add a little weight to get my heart rate up, feel the burn and keep the house from collapsing all at the same time? You can't tell from this photo, but I am also humming, chewing gum and thinking about the economy & and its effect on the liberal arts - all while waiting for my shirt to finish drying in the machine I am standing on to keep the mice from eating me.

Notice how there is nothing in the basement to clutter up the joint. That is because we had to move everything out because of the flood. Also, the walls are free of the mold from this last flood and the several before that because I spray enough bleach in the house to kill a moose with a spray bottle I keep on the washing machine for those little mold-is-taking-over-the-basement type emergencies. Fortunately, our pet moose doesn't often frequent the basement.

Rent-to-Own means that if the floor joists bow or break, we get to fix it ourselves! And by "we" I mean "me". And I get to fix the plumbing, too! The fact that we don't have a working furnace is nobodies business but my own - just read the contract. I get to pay rent and play landlord at the same time!

At least we don't have to find room in the fridge for the leftovers. Until I get the furnace fixed, the end table in the living room will do just fine.

Anyone have a match?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Soft Sounds of Christmas

My daughter has taken to listening to Christmas music during the world series in October to calm her nerves, and fortunately for us all, there is a local radio station that can accommodate her anti-stress pre-holiday needs. This station plays all-Christmas all the freaking time. What I mean by that for those who aren't gratuitous f word users is that I am starting to be Christmas music-ed out.

Annie, my daughter, loves the uptempo, flashy, burn a hole in your left ventricle Christmas rhythms common amongst today youngsters. Her favorite Noel hymn is a Russian symphony rock guitar and tuba infused version of “Carol of the Bells”, an arrangement that has been gently combined with the big fairy's waltz from the Nutcracker Suite. I believe this classic is from the soundtrack of “The Christmas Car Chase”.

Now, when I was growing up (which my wife still claims hasn't happened yet) I listened to the music that my parents had fpr their eight track player which consisted of The Ray Coniff Singers, Mitch Miller, The New Christy Minstrels, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Sometimes we heard a little of the Singing Nun, which wasn't really Christmas, but how can something with smiling nuns on the cover be anything but.

Not a Jingle Bell Rock or grandma getting run-over in the bunch. Sometimes my mother had to ask me to turn the volume down when the Mo Tab got a bit raucous as they are known to do during the Holidays. That was as wild as Christmas music got.

Annie wouldn't listen to my kind of Christmas music to put herself to sleep. She says she would keel of boredom before REM ever came her way and she doesn't want to die that way, though she told me she might try it as an anesthetic if she ever were to go in for an operation on her brain or a root canal.

Head banging is not the form of entertainment I would choose for the Holidays, though there was some head banging going on when my brother brought his girl friend, “Stacy" with an "i" home last December 25th to meet the family - mostly from my wife who was trying to have an old fashioned Christmas. When “Stacy” with an "i"asked my wife which beer tube-top she should wear for the family photo my wife put a hole in the wall with her forehead right next to the hanging of the three wise men made out of clothes-pins and macaroni some drunkard or kindergartener made for the occasion. I was only able to calm my wife down by promising her I would photo-shop a turtleneck over “Stacy" with an "i"'s High Ball Noel while I secretly dropped a NyQuil into her eggnog as she chewed off what was left of her fingernails.

All of this while listening to my daughters new Christmas CD – Happy Holidays! Featuring the Belgian Folk Trumpet Quintet and Special Guest, the Cincinnati Brass.

Didn't the holidays used to be quieter? Did it always involve extraordinary amounts of patience and Ibuprophan? Is it a faulty memory of mine or were there, once upon a time, Christmas lights that didn't come with their own synchronization CD? Whatever happened to Silent Night?

Daddy wants earplugs for Christmas.