Its the age of…..

I am feeling a little low and I don’t know the reason? I have been pondering many things lately during my down time. Work, money, the kids and our life here on the ranch. But I keep coming back to one thing that is unsettling to me and I am not sure why? I have never had a problem before, but it just seems to be popping up constantly in my thoughts. I find myself wondering if anyone else has this same problem? Does it affect them in ridiculously stupid ways? I need to quit wasting time and energy on this particular problem because there is really nothing I can do about it. But yet time is a wasting…

Its my age…. I know stupid huh?

Oh I talk a good game when people give me a hard time about how old I am, I laugh it off and joke around because that’s what we do to protect ourselves. And really I do enjoy joking about it, because in the grand scheme of things I am not that old. (45) So what I don’t understand is why it’s bothering me so much lately. I am slowly, finally getting to where I want to be in life. My kids are old enough to be expressive, wonderful little humans that have interesting conversations and partake in a myriad of activities that showcase their ever evolving skills. My career is not where I had hoped it would be, but there is nothing I can do about it, the economy squelched all my hopes and dreams for advancement before I hit retirement age. (I hope I am wrong but that’s the way it looks right now) I could test out and go to another city, but that’s not who I am, I love my city, I love the people I work for (citizens of my town), I am invested in the community and this job really does define me as a person. I have put 17 years into this profession, at this location and leaving (morally speaking) really isn’t an option. I live in a great location with plenty of space for my children to play and grow. The grandparents built a house next door so the kids can see them anytime. My overhead is fairly low, I mean we have gigantic bills just like the next guy, but I have been lucky enough to keep a handle on the spending during these trying financial times. I ‘m in pretty good shape too. I run three to four times a week depending on my schedule and I am in the gym every morning at work! So my health and or physical fitness is not a concern for me what so ever. I also have plenty of down time where I head off and work horses most days off. It really helps take my mind off all the pressures of our busy schedule and life in general. Nothing makes you feel more alive than riding a true work horse. Plus the time spent taking care of them is very emotionally stabilizing.

So why? Why when I look at all these factors do I not focus more on the good? Why do I keep focusing on my age? Anyone? Anyone?

It starts like this, I am lying in bed blocking out the day with a little mind numbing TV. I start thinking about crazy things associated with my age. Such as, I have struggled my whole life to grow a mustache. I always thought a mustache would look pretty cool. Well now that I am 45 I can finally grow a mustache! Does it matter? No! Because apparently the hair used to grow the mustache came from my thinning hairline! And speaking about hair, it seems the ears are a hair follicles paradise! When I go bald maybe I will let the hair from my left ear grow long and use it in the comb over! (We all know someone like that, yuck!) Remember when it was “cool” to have a hairy chest? (70’s)Well I remained hairless during that era, but now I have a full-blown carpet covering the man canvas! To little to late! What the Hell! My feet hurt, my arms hurt my back hurts and my skin is starting to look like a lizard! I use moisturizer daily! God, someone take away my freaking man card, please!!

Then I start pondering the inevitable timeline. My oldest will be headed to college in two years, that leads me into thinking about how old I will be when the next in line goes to college, which inevitably leads me to thinking about how old I will be when the last one goes to college. Then I go “holy shit” I am going to be one foot in the grave! That landslides into an overwhelming panic that I am nowhere near accomplishing any of the things I have wanted to do with my life! Before I can break into a full-blown panic attack, I usually get up and go make myself some camomile tea. That’s when I end up screaming ” son of bitch, I am old, its 9 pm I’m already in bed and now I am drinking camomile tea”!!

After a glass of Metamucil, some Centrum Silver and 2 baby aspirin for my heart health. I usually calm down around the time I slide into my “no slip” upright tub and take a warm bath. Seriously, one minute you are thirty and you have the world by the short hairs! The next you are a panicked blubbering mess worrying about the future of four kids, your wife and whether or not the batteries on your “life alert” will still be charged when you actually need it. What? What did you just say? Here let me put my hearing aids back in, and my glasses back on, I don’t want to miss your comments….

So there it is. Its upsetting and I don’t know why. I can’t let it go. Am I crazy? Am I going crazy? Should I just shut up and realize this is all normal? Anyways thanks for understanding, I am going to put my Snuggie on and call it a day.

Oh and just in case you were wondering, I know exactly how I want to leave this earth.

I have always envisioned myself going out like the late, great, George Burns. 100 years 49 days old, a glass of excellent scotch in one hand and cigar in the other. Last words to cross my lips will be a quote remembered for generations to come.

One of my favorite George Burns quotes of which there are many;

First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down.

Say goodnight Gracie…..

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Behind those eyes

 

 

The other day while driving our children around to various weekend activities.  We stumbled into In and Out burger for a quick bite to eat.   While waiting for our order I happened to notice one of my sons had disappeared.  Being the middle boy I naturally assumed he had gone off to the bathroom to wash his hands before lunch.  The others had already done so, but being loyal as an old hound dog he proceeded to stay by my side until ordering was complete. (he didn’t want to leave me alone).  A few minutes passed and still he had not returned.  Concerned about his absence I arose from my seat to take a look around.  The restaurant had filled to capacity and I was feeling very lucky we arrived in such a timely fashion.  Still not making eye contact with my lost compadre, I started noticing that not only was the restaurant filled to capacity, it was filled with the elderly!  Holy cow I mean filled! Had the Indian casino closed?  Was this “field trip” day at the local convalescent hospital?  Where busses outside unloading geriatric by the hundreds? They were everywhere? Walker toting, cane using, foot shuffling, hunch backed waddling, smelling of a fine mix of talcum powder, perfume and depends. 

Being astute at observation; I found myself studying them one by one.  I couldn’t help myself, something inside me wanted to take my people watching skills to the next level.  Was that guy a WWII vet, had that one served in Korea? Was that lady over there a WAC (Women’s Army Corp), a school teacher or a stay at home mom.  Some where together, some were single, some were in a group and some stood alone, seemingly disoriented from noise and calamity of the high intensity setting like a busy fast food chain.  How many of them were still stuck mentally in their “heyday”?  How many of them had assimilated into the fast paced lifestyle of today?  How many had kids, grandkids, and great grandkids?  How many of them had no one left due to tragedy or demise?

Some made eye contact with me as I studied them, some looked away immediately and some smiled back instantly.  Some never looked at all, just blankly staring ahead at the menu and the line laid out before them. I wished for a moment I could be like the great “Mr. Spock” from Star Trek and place my hands upon their temples to form a mind meld so my curiosity could be satisfied!  Who are they? What were they? Who have they become? What are they doing with their lives now?  Who are they on the inside?

I sat there befuddled by all the questions swirling around inside my head, trying to grasp some form of understanding to what lies ahead for myself in thirty to forty years. Then as if God was listening to the quandary rolling around effortlessly in my brain, my questions were answered.

A group of 40 somethings from the local office building across the way strolled in for lunch and as the group of 4-5 well dressed women walked by; not one, not two, but dang near every elderly man in line leaned out, or shuffled their position to get a look at these ladies passing through the line.  A few of the older ladies let loose a chuckle or two and a loving hand slap was placed upon a few of the elderly gawkers. But all took it with a smile and a giggle!  It was at this moment that I realized I had the answer to who these people really were or had become. With that I coined this phrase, a phrase I have used many times before, but until this moment had not known the exact depth of its meaning.

“Behind the eyes of every old man is a young man wondering what the hell happened”

You see I had been looking at it all wrong.  They were not elderly people, oh yes they were by societies definition. But in reality they were the same young, sexy, brash go getter’s from their youth, the same socialites that ruled their era, the same moms, dads, uncles, aunt’s that got up every morning and did their best to survive!  The only difference was, their bodies were failing them horribly!  Their minds are still young, their ideas are still young, their thought processes still provide invaluable education and knowledge.  Yet no one listens, they are all thought of as old, over the hill, washed up, out of touch.  But when you look into those yes, it’s still there, the light is on and shining brightly!  Behind those eyes lies the young person that got them where they are today. Wishing longing for another chance to prosper and provide!  When you look at them they look old, when they look in the mirror they only see the younger version of themselves.

My grandmother used to tell me; you are only as old as you feel! She followed that with; my mind feels 21!  You see she understood that eventually your body gives out, but if you still have your mind, well that’s the key to eternal youth.

Lunch was enlightening and fun, I enjoyed watching them all eat and share stories, laugh, tell jokes and behave as young as their bodies would let them.  It warmed my heart and I made a promise myself to keep my mind as sharp as I can for as long as I can.

As for my lost child? I found him, holding the door open for all the elderly people walking into the restaurant.  Grinning, dimples showing, elderly ladies telling him how cute he was, elderly men remarking; “with a smile like that he must do well with the ladies.” He told me over lunch that he held the door for one gentlemen with a walker and afterwards, he just didn’t feel right not holding it open for them all….

Pretty sure I know which child wont allow me to be placed in a convalescent home….

Road Rage Attitude

Cruising down the freeway at 70+ I see you coming off in the distance.  You are a blip, a faint blob, an anomaly made of carbon fiber, plastic and steel.  You move between cars with ease, accelerating, decelerating. Jig to the left cut to the right. Every lane is the fast lane for you, there are no obstacles to overcome while driving a $140,000.00 piece of German engineering. 

I envision you, enveloped in fine leather upholstery, cooled to meet the demands of this warm spring day.  You move closer and as you cross from the number one lane to the number three, I take mental notice of the special “Aero” package that adorns the lower half of your car. A $25,000.00 dollar extra with suspension upgrades and race inspired braking.  The dream of every red-blooded, automobile loving, testosterone filled male! 

I feel as though you are a well-rounded man, one of travel and education.  Most likely the product of a family with means.  Nothing was too good for you growing up and the expectations associated with it must have held a heavy burden.  But you survived and prospered.  Pledged to the best fraternity and graduated with honors.  Voted most likely to succeed adored by all who have known you.   

Your closing fast, having cut off two lessor commuter cars along the way.  Why are you driving like a jerk? That car should be effortlessly moving between vehicles without any need for “cutting” someone off.  Maybe they were just beneath your piece of freeway art, they deserved to see nothing more than a flash of your rear bumper in passing.  Judging by the move you just placed on that semi-truck to my rear right, patience must be wearing thin? Or could it be the horses under the hood, all 640 of them screaming to be let out of the stable.  They don’t let just anyone drive this type of car you know! Only someone with skill, stamina and good looks!  It won the 24 hours at Daytona and with that type of pedigree this is nothing more than a short sprint! She is hardly even breathing hard moving from side to side annihilating anyone or anything in its path. 

Oh my it seems you have picked my lane and are closing rapidly on this old 4×4 truck.  You are still driving angry which isn’t cool in my book, I hate guys who drive like idiots!  I have scraped to many of you off the freeway in my career.  You are closer and I can see the silver paint glistens, like fresh rain laid across its landscape. Although as I understand it carbon fiber has a tendency to look that way.  You are close enough now for my envy to take full hold of my emotions.  You are driving the kind of vehicle I have always envisioned myself using for transportation.  Fast, artfully designed, the finest materials, handling of an F-1 racer, just sinful. 

We are coming up on a group of cars and I am trying to get into your head. I am traveling at 70, you are closing the gap with a fervor reminiscent of the fast and furious!  You must be well into 100+! I find myself depressing the fuel pedal as if I have a chance to run with the likes of you.  Further I push, the faster we go, you want the easy pass but my exuberance for parody wont let you have it. You need to slow down and there is no way I am going to let you keep driving that gorgeous metallic sculpture like a tool!  You are on my bumper now, I have left you no options, we are trapped in traffic. Jigging to the inside you’re taking a look at the right lane only to find it blocked, a slip to the outside, you take the lane and punch it, I press harder closing the gap, leaving you alongside so I may admire and yes even drool a little over you four-wheeled masterpiece. We are running window to window when I look over, hoping all my premonitions will be true.  Hoping to get a glimpse of what I wish I was, refined, educated, well-preserved, dressed as a man of my stature should.  And there you are, we make eye contact and, and, and….

You are a teenager! A freaking teenager! A freaking teenager driving a $165,000.00 dollar dream machine! Not only driving it, but driving it like an a-hole!  Who the heck do you think you are?  Son of a biscuit eater!! This is horse shit!  As the blood drains from my face you turn your 115 pound frame my direction and look up from under your sideways, bandana wrapped, flat brimmed Raiders hat and throw me the bird! Suspicions confirmed! Road rage driver! But are you bloody serious!! Throwing me the bird? Minutes ago you were revered as a pillar to social perfection and now I am faced with this baggy pants, pimple popping moron who either has a daddy Warbucks or is a kingpin in the local drug trafficking operation.

Well son, I don’t know if you have taken a good, long hard look at Ole red here but she is big, with big tires, a big engine and one thing is for certain she has hit before and she will hit again!  I hope you have you big girl panties on! I peddle her up and keep the little punk blocked in, he lets out and falls behind to move back up the right side hoping for a clear shot to cut in front of me.  I give him no such chance. Using an R.V. to block his advancement he is trapped like a cabbie in New York rush hour traffic.  I have ole red almost floored but every time junior picks up speed so do I.  When he lets off the gas, I coast her down just enough to keep him trapped.  No longer will he abuse the roadways and use our vehicles for his own personal day at Daytona! You earn that right with age buddy! This back and forth goes on for minutes, he is highly agitated judging from the flying fingers and hands each time he passes behind me moving onto the opposite sides.  Finally after 5-7 miles of messing with Mario jr by creating the equivelent of an automobile “blood clot”.  The boy gets the best of me, an opening, a small one, but an opening just the same; he takes it, runs in front of me and starts to take off!  Then without explanation he slows down, not just a little bit, but slows all the way down meeting the flow of traffic. Then stays that way.  Why? Is there a cop ahead? Was he angry with me for slowing his butt down ?  Did he feel the need for some form of revenge? Or maybe, just maybe, he had taken “the hint” from a disgruntled sorry old man who can only dream of owning a car of that caliber? “The hint”? To slow down, and calm down before you kill someone!

Or maybe just maybe he realized that; sometimes it’s not about the car or the speeds its capable of reaching.  Sometimes its about realizing you are out of control. Recognizing that you will get there when you get there and just because you have 640hp doesnt mean you need to use all of it just to go to 7-11 down the street! Sometimes its about maturing and keeping your road rage in check.  Sometimes those things can only be shown to you by a crazy old man in a big red 4×4 with three times the driving experience. 

And…..

Sometimes crazy old men should just quit dreaming about little silver sports cars and be happy with their beat up old 148,000 mile red 4×4.  (heavy sigh)

Sometimes its fun to be “that guy”…….

Glitter

 

 

Glitter is an awesome party favor.  Glitter is used to make things shimmer.  Glitter is the staple of any New years Eve party! Glitter is worn by young girls, older women and any male subject who has recently visited a strip club (so I am told).  But what I recently discovered about glitter has me befuddled, perplexed and strangely mortified.  You see I was recently informed that glitter, actually comes from the female anatomy?

I know, crazy huh? Yet I was informed very directly by a nice young lady that glitter comes from girls.  Now as a father of reason and fair judgment I decided to delve deeper into this subject.  Also being a firefighter/EMT I have a reasonable amount of knowledge in regards to both the male and female anatomy.  Yet no where in the volumes of medical jargon I was forced to endure, do I remember the female anatomy having one gland, one organ that produces glitter?

Deciding more in-depth questions needed to be asked I sought out the little starlet in question and found her conversing happily with my boys.  What was her angle? Who was the direct source of her knowledge base.  (Plain lingo; what fool told this little girl she can produce glitter?) How can she create glitter and why?  She was very assured of her position and when I asked her to explain to me in detail the gist of this modern-day side-show miracle she simply motioned me over to her side.  As I knelt down she whispered to me to please be very quiet.  You see her cheeks were turning red as she quietly stated: I want to whisper this to you because it’s not the type of thing a girl should be talking about, but just so you know I told your boys the very same thing I am about to tell you.

I was all abuzz, I couldn’t wait to hear the little secret that surely would unlock some mystery to the female anatomy.  I leaned in closer and whispered’ go ahead honey I am all ears.  

Girls dont fart they glitter!

WHAT!!!!!  No wait uh WHAT!!!!  HUH!  UH! Duh! HMMMM??  Ok??? AAHHH??

Yep that’s what she said, girls don’t fart, they glitter! Seriously you can’t make this shit up!  I held my composure as to not laugh in front of the young lass as she was being so very serious in her response.  I excused myself for a moment to take a breath of fresh air outside and let out a hearty chuckle solely at the expense of  little princess with the glitter producing bum!  After composing myself, I returned and before I could rejoin the conversation my middle child approached me to let me know it was true! He had seen it with his own eyes!  Now for a split second I was mortified, terrified, and panicked!  I had visions of an irate father accosting me in response to my son seeing a whole lot more of his precious angel than should be witnessed prior to marriage! But before the panick attack could set in he followed up his statement with;  Yeah dad she let out a big old fart in the car!  We all started laughing because well you know; farting is funny!  But she just smiled and told us she didn’t fart she glittered!  We all heard it dad really!  But whats strange is when she got up from her chair there was glitter! it was everywhere in the seat; she told us that her mom says its ok, because girls don’t fart they glitter.

Clearly someone had pulled the wool over these boys eyes!  Yet they had bought the production lock, stock and barrel.  They now believed when a girl farts she glitters.  Now I was ready willing and able to dispel this new-found myth right away! Nip it in the bud or butt as it where, yet something just couldn’t bring me to do it.  Something just hammered at my conscience about ruining the illusion this young lady had created for herself.  I actually envied the creative process that allowed her or her mother to come up with this little charade and the best part is they pulled it off!  I know the truth, you know the truth and all you women out there definitely know the truth!  I have heard stories, I have seen a few of you girls in action, all innocent and lady like them BAM! Your nose is on fire, tears streaming from your eyes and all you get is a coy little “oops, sorry was that me?” Well of course it was you, there are only two of us here and that tuba sound didn’t come from my posterior!  Truth be told, I have known women that could make the 49ers defensive line cry!

Yet what purpose would it have served to call her out?  None.  My boys believed for the longest time she had the power to fart glitter.  My boys also believed that all women farted glitter.  That it was what a true lady of refinement, class and culture does;  ultimately is that really such a bad thing to believe?

Now someone show me the man who belches Hershey’s kisses.  If the two of them meet we might have ourselves a New Years eve party…

 

Shots fired

There appears to be something amiss in my household. Something just isn’t adding up by my calculations. You see with all the time spent going over this particular subject it makes no sense to me why we are having a problem! Now most young men of age naturally figure this out, it is genetic after all. But yet here we are, confused, scratching our heads and wondering, why? Why has this happened to me God? Why? Is it something I said? Is it something I may have done? Please, please let me know! I mean you did bless me with three sons, not three daughters! (Nobody get your hackles up, this is obnoxious satire)

I am not sure the cause, but it appears none of my boys have very good aim.

I know! Strange huh? You would think just because they are boys “good aim” would come naturally to a young lad. Seriously, having good aim must be in our genetic makeup as “men” don’t you think? The hunter, the provider, the sole servant to the family. How hard can it be? Just point and shoot! How much skill can that possibly take? Point and shoot! Point and shoot! For the love of god, just point the damn thing and shoot!!! Yet time after time all three of them miss! No skills what so ever! Its frustrating! I was shooting at little targets when I was three. Sure I probably missed a time or two, but every single time! Come on! Point and shoot! I even tried getting them to breathe while doing it. You know, take the proper stance, legs spread apart, shoulders square, point, breath in , slowly exhale then shoot! It’s that simple, yet none of my boys seem to be able to grasp the concept!

Oh my lord its like they have Parkinson’s, body shaking, and jerking around uncontrollably. Nervous stance, weak grip, and absolutely zero accuracy! They shoot everywhere but the intended target. Experts refer to “painting” the target. Zeroing in on your intended point of contact then hitting it with everything you have using controlled precision! I can tell you one thing for certain, they know how to “paint”alright. “Paint” everything but the intended target! Oh yeah these boys couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn standing three feet away! Hell, I would even spot them the other two feet!

It finally came to a head this morning. Man it was ugly. One at a time they lined up at the door, and one at a time they sprayed patterns on everything except where they were aiming! My wife finally had enough of this fiasco and opened fire! (pun fully intended) She really let them have it with both barrels. Those boys never knew what hit them. You see the boys lack of aiming ability had finally become their undoing. The wife had identified all three as the scurgiest of hombres in our house. The lowest of low lives, the bottom of a snails belly! No more patience, no more cleaning up after them, no more second chances. From here on out there was a new sheriff in charge! It was mom, and no matter how much “practicing” I swore to on their behalfs, the end had come for the Blackcloud Ranch sprinkler boys!

Oh yeah, my boys are toilet violators. The worst kind too, they stroll in and out in seconds! Sometimes the toilet seat is left up. Sometimes the toilet seat is left down. Either way the boys are known for leaving behind the kind of unsanitary conditions that would make a truck driver blush! Oh yeah it’s that bad! It happened this morning, it went down something like this….

Three boys walked into the bathroom and without hesitation, without remorse, without so much as an ounce of decency they covered the walls, the seat, the lid, heck even the floor! Like a shaky teenager holding his first Colt 45, they were trembling and swinging it around uncontrollably! (of course that might be some of the aiming problem) Or a firefighter trying to contain an out of control firehose! It was everywhere! Amazingly the Three stooges would have gotten away with it too if weren’t for mom walking in minutes later to relieve herself upon the sturdy porcelain throne. Carefully lowering her britches she was met with the horrific indecency of a wet barrier forming between her skin and the seat below. Jumping up and slipping in the yellow ring that laid at her feet she was last heard in a shrill voice swearing to the deaths of who ever left this unsanitary trap for her to stumble upon. She vowed from that moment on, no person of female persuasion, in our house or visiting our house should suffer such wrong doings ever again! The boys were promptly tracked down and when cornered they begged for mercy..

Mercy was not found this day my friends! Oh quite the contrary, the boys have been banished to our bathroom downstairs for an undetermined amount of time. Cleaning the toilets with bleach they have accepted their fate, understanding the consequences of irresponsible toilet tinkling. They also know, should they shower the downstairs bathroom with the same zeal as the upstairs bathroom the only place of bodily relief available for the three of them will be a bush or tree on the backside of the property. Just like in the old west. When you gotta go, you gotta go but for them it will be outside rain or shine…

Moral of the story; Simple

If you sprinkle when you tinkle please be neat wipe the seat……..

The Jury Pool…

“You do solemnly swear by Almighty God and those of you affirm do declare and affirm that you will well and truly try the issue joined between the Commonwealth and the defendants(s), and a true verdict render according to evidence.”

I have just been sworn in as a potential juror! I am currently being held inside a room in the courthouse basement known as the “jury room” (dungeon). That’s right ladies and gentlemen I have Jury Duty! Everyone say it all together now, AWWWWWWWW That Sucks!

When I arrived this morning I definitely knew my way around, you see I get picked every year, and every year somehow I manage to avoid being chosen. Not purposely mind you, just the moment a public defender sees “firefighter” on my questionnaire I am immediately excused. ( the whole predisposed judgement thing) I drove in and parked in the same spot, I walked down the same street, I strolled into the familiar Jury sequester room. I slinked down the back wall to find my customary seat where I sat down and slouched, avoiding eye contact with the multitude of milling, disgruntled “We the People” for fear of unwanted conversation. My whole plan was to be non-existent, hidden, like the homeless guy you just cant bring yourself to look at or talk too. That all would have been fine except for one problem, my warped little mind just couldn’t leave well enough alone.

A very nice lady came out and read us instructions, my head stayed down as I listened intently. When she was finished the room was assigned into three groups.

  1. Criminal trial, no questionnaire
  2. Criminal trial, questionnaire to be completed (me)
  3. Suckers, I mean the ‘Standby” group.

Those of you completing jury service know exactly what I am talking about in reference to the “standby group”. The “standby” group either goes home first (yay!) or is trapped for the entire day (Boo!) because some judge or a couple of attorneys can’t make up their mind whether or not the issue will go to trial.

The nice Jury/clerk stands, walks up to the microphone and lets us all know the “Suckers” I mean group three has been excused for the day. It was at this very moment my “ADD brain” went into overdrive. No more cowering eyes, no more slumped shoulders, no more hiding in the back of the room. No, the human computer had been awakened, and judging by the look on everyone’s face we were headed for a long boring ride.

I decide this whole process is similar to being on an aircraft. Strangers from all over the county sitting in a small area for an unspecified amount of time, waiting for something, anything to happen. As my eyes grazed the landscape spread out before me, I came to realize all the usual players are here; The wealthy, well dressed, I am to important to be here’s, along with an obvious I am dressing like a thug so you wont pick me. Seriously dude you look 40 and are dressing like a teenager! No one buys the act! The wall flowers were in strong force today. They blend into the room, they dress plain, act plain, have plain hair and for the love of God couldn’t show an emotional facial expression if their lives depended on it! I cannot leave out the “Eclectic” group. They are the ones you just cant label, the “free spirits” as it were. They stand out in a crowd; but not really, their fashion or style makes sense; but not really, when you look at them time is spent pondering just how many decades are represented in their attitude and attire? Two or three? Maybe that one over there is just mentally stuck at a Jimmy Buffett concert? I love them all! The good news, every nationality, age, religion and income level seemed to be represented in this basement of contempt. A true example of our justice system at its best with a diverse cross-section of Americans waiting to perform their civic duties.

So whats a guy like me to do? How can I turn this seemingly mind numbing moment into my own little psychology experiment, an enlightening moment if you will.

Lets play LOST!

The plane (Remember my plane analogy from earlier) has split in half and gone down, leaving us stranded on a deserted island, filled with white polar bears, a group called the “others” a ghostly entity appearing like dark smoke, enveloping you as it takes you away. Also the island is inhabited by a group known only as the “Dharma” experiment. My “mission” is to select a group of new friends that I would grow to rely upon during these stressful times. In reality it is just an excuse to bring my otherwise loner self away from the wall of jury duty despair and polish my people skills a little.

Although this sounds easy it really isn’t, for just as your parents taught you; you can’t judge a book by its cover? You also might read the book and find it is not to your liking. This means that while I am trapped in the basement with all these strangers I will need to make eye contact, introduce myself and have meaningful conversations. Yes that’s right, talk with them, socialize, and make nice with strangers! All the things we no longer do as a society. So sad really! Its become way to easy these days just to walk into a room with hundreds of possible new friends and bury our noses into our i-pads, i-phones and lap tops. Excluding anyone and everyone out of pure fear! Fear of rejection, fear of denial, fear of acceptance. It’s just easier to ignore than engage. It worries me.

I am constantly in awe of my wife who can make friends with all 200 people sitting/standing at the gate waiting to board a plane. She makes you want to know her with her subtle approach. Her smile and kindness is very endearing. She would definitely be one of the first people chosen after the plane went down.

So I shake off the fear and lean over to my first survivor hoping to make friends when, the clerk calls for group number one to approach the stand, they have been released from service. My almost new-found friend has been rescued! Sweet the survivor list has thinned, a fresh coating of chap stick to lube the seal on the old squawk box and I am ready to go! With only 40 of us left this should be easy!

I spend the better part of the morning getting to know some of the people I was surrounded by, it’s really amazing once you get over your fear of initiating contact how quickly most people are willing, no wanting to accept your request for conversation. I think we as a society tend to forget when placed in these situations that the very same people you are surrounded by; and scared of, are experiencing the same emotions as yourself. Ok except for that guy over in the corner who looks like he may be holding someone against their will back at his residence, and is really nervous about how long he has been gone from his victim. (put the lotion in the basket, PUT THE LOTION IN THE BASKET!!) I think I will approach him last. Ok maybe not at all…..

I had a lot of fun talking with people, engaging in conversation. It all came to an end when we were called into the courtroom for selection. We then spent three hours being asked questions by the prosecution and the defense as to whether or not we would make proper jurors in this case. They sifted through us, carefully picking and choosing. It reminded me a lot of dodgeball on they playground. You wanted to be chosen, you just didn’t want to be chosen last (alternate). No one wants to be that guy. In the end it was a pretty interesting afternoon. I took what most people think of as a burden (jury duty) and turned it into something fun and interesting. I may never see some of these people again, but that’s ok! You see for a few minutes I was part of someone elses life. Someone I would never have met otherwise, someone who painted me a picture of a life I never would have known or understood. I think that’s pretty cool….

Juror #5……….

When a doughnut is no longer just a doughnut…

Hello, my name is Betty and I have a weakness for sugar.  (everyone now) Hello Betty!

It all started when I was a child and my father would hoard the ice cream on any given evening after dinner.  Ice cream was a coveted item in our house and it was a well-known fact that dad always got the first scoop out of any carton about to be opened.  We all respected this little rule because well lets face it he was dad!  But I can remember watching him slowly scoop out what he wanted, taking his time to increase our anticipation levels to the point of cracking!  Oh yes, he would fill his bowl with scoop after gigantic scoop, staring at us, taunting us, making sure we knew just how good the ice cream was by licking his fingers in between!  Then as he finished and we gazed upon the Mount Vesuvius of ice cream that flowed from the banks of his porcelain container, he would close the lid and direct our mother to “let us have some”.  It was pure torture!  To make matters worse mother would remind us as we received our customary two table spoons of ice cream ( yeah no joke, two exact sized tablespoons) that we were in training for swim team and ice cream wasnt good for bodies.  Are you freaking kidding me I am 10 and I want as much as he had!  Why isn’t he in training he weighs like 300lbs!!!!  Sorry Dad, I was angry….

We would walk back to the living room with our shoulders slumped low and sit on the floor to watch television while we slowly picked at our melting little dollops of sugary goodness that laid before us.  I was very crafty in the way I ate my ice cream.  I would smear it around the bowl until it was soft, (yeah that’s right Cold Stone I thought of it first, if you have received my letters you know where to send the royalties) leaving me with the ability to take even smaller portions and enjoy it that much longer..

My mom hated sugar and felt it was the sole reason for our erratic behavior so we ate a lot of granola, carob covered raisins, and yogurt.  I liked all of these things and still do to this day, but nothing , and I mean nothing tasted like anything with pure sugar in it!  I craved it I need it I had to have it, I would go out of my way to hide allowance money so that I could hit the snack bar at our swim meets when mom wasnt looking!

Hang out with my friends in town at the park, no problem! Mom left after dropping me off, straight to the ice cream shop we went! Devouring M&M’s, ice cream sundaes, Laffy Taffy, dippin sticks and snickers bars!  Oh it was sooo goood!  

So about now you are asking yourself, self; what does this have to do with doughnuts?

When I found doughnuts, I mean truly found doughnuts. Nothing compared! Nothing came close, I forgot what ice cream and candy bars were all about.  It was the difference between a foot rub and a message!  Driving a Corvette or driving a Corvair, drinking a Samuel Adams or knocking back a Pabst Blue Ribbon!  Oh well you get the point.

I was an adult! Doughnuts were no longer just a sugar covered, maple bar or an old-fashioned.  Nope the doughnut had evolved into the fritter, whip cream filled, jelly filled, apple turnover, sprinkled in candy, chocolate, icing, and; oh goodness my mouth is watering as I type!  Doughnuts had become so much more than when I was a child.  I liked them as a child but I didn’t love them!  I love them now, I can’t get enough, God help the person that shows up with the customary “how ya doing” box of those little doughy morsels at the firehouse!

I start out strong, you know how it goes; I am only going to have one.  I slowly let the sinful taste over take my body, leaving me with chills as I slide it down with a hot cup of joe.  Then as I realize I still have half a cup left and I find myself circling the box like a shark. Circling around to check out the floating object on the surface after a shipwreck, that to the shark vaguely resembles a seal.  Hmmm, round and around I go, the guys can see it coming too.  They slowly  move out-of-the-way for fear of losing a finger  while possibly reaching for the one that I desire.  Then just as I have myself talked out of having number two, I strike!  And before I know it its all over, It’s a horrible sight really, doughnut shrapnel everywhere, icing on my face, and me laying in a recliner trying to focus on what just happened.  Not knowing exactly  where I am…

Its awful, I feel guilty and pleased all at the same time.  I can never seem to over ride the voice in my head that tells me; Hey Betty, just one more it will be fine, sure you don’t need it, but do you want it? Do you? Then it ok just go for it, soon they will all be gone and you wont have to worry about it anymore..

Shameful really..

I have been known by fellow co-workers for two things when it comes to food.

  1. If doughnuts show up, you had better get yours before I find out.  And then it becomes a spectator sport watching me go through the phases of greed, grief and denial.
  2. I can smell chocolate before it clears the parking lot.

Yep that’s the doughnut for me, the perfect sugar fix! The perfect little treat no matter what time of day.  I crave them, I long for them, they have control over me. It is sad really, I am weak….

I see the same behavior in my kids when the doughnut arrives to the party.  They lose their minds, eating with no inhibition whats so ever!  If I come home with a dozen for a special occasion, they are annihilated before the first pot of coffee has even been brewed! My wife and I teaching them good eating habits through the use of moderation.  Something I was never taught as a child.  It was always one extreme to the next in my house. I don’t want that for my children.  Let them experiment and then maybe they wont crave what they never were allowed to have.

Yep I’d blame my parents for holding out on me for all those years.  For constantly teasing me with the good stuff while they devoured extreme amounts in front of my sister and I.  But really I blame myself.  I have the will power to stop… Oh shit who am I kidding?  I am never going to stop, I will just keep adding another 15 minutes to my cardio routine.  See justified!  Yep I am that good!!!

Oh yeah! And as for the smelling chocolate from a mile away issue.  Well that’s a whole different story..

Youth of Today

Today I was posed an interesting question. Are the youth of today the same as the youth of my generation?

My inner grumpy old man was the first to wiegh in on the subject with a resounding “Hell no”! I then broke into a 5 minute tiraid about the disrespectful, lazy, self entitled, occupying, video gaming, dope smoking, waste of space for a brain youth that are inhabiting our planet at this very moment. I followed that up with the grumblings of hypocricy as I recounted how ( get ready here comes the 5 miles up hill in the snow speach) our generation had manners, we said please and thank you. We were respectful to our elders, including teachers and the police. We opened doors for women and never treated them with anything but the utmost respect! We definetly knew the difference between right and wrong and hold those same values today!

As the class went on there were multiple theories thrown back and forth but none of any substance. During discussion I found myself having flashbacks to my teen years up into my early twenties. The new generation in class were busy exaulting themselves as texting, computer program writing, tweeting, skypeing, blogging, I-Phone app devoloping brainiacs of the future. Suddently I started to realize I may have been wrong in my “Mr.Furley” snap to judgement. Hmmmmmm…..

Now lets clarify something, I will not tell you my exact age, but I will drop you a hint, as I sit and listen to the Flock of Seaguls recounting the first day M-TV aired. My graduating year from high school was the same year Andy Kaufman, and Marvin Gaye perished. It was the same year Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize and Ronald Reagan won a landslide re-election. Run-DMC are the first rap group to achieve gold record status and APPLE releases the Macintosh personal computer.

We were a youth filled with multiple sterotypes and avenues to follow with our unbridled enthusiasm. Early in the decade country western was being replaced with the wild side of disco. Drugs, mainly cocaine and pot were our choice, Miami Vice was a hit, long hair (everywhere), bell bottom pants and platform shoes were all the rage. Punk Rock also had a strong foothold. The british youth were a huge hit and their fight against the mainstream way of life was easy to recognize and associate. Our generation felt “you gotta fight for your right to party”! (Thank you Beastie Boys) And party we did! Every chance we could get and no adult was going to tell us how to act or what to do! We were in the process of discovering sex without peramiters, mutiple partners and Aids. In school little things like “black beuties and mushrooms” were being passed around like Pez and experimented with amoungst friends. It was not uncommon to cut school after lunch and not return. All you needed was a friend on the inside who would write your name on the attendance slips then hand them into the office. We drove cars that expressed who we were and what we were about, or so we thought. On any given day you could drive into our parking lot and 1/4 of it looked like a car show. 50-60-70’s era muscle cars and trucks parked side by side gleaming in the sunlight.

I look back at those years, and I realize the youth of today really arent much different from the youth of my generation. (Easy, EAAASSSSYYYY, hear me out) They have a very strong sense of what they feel is right and wrong. The “Occupy” youth remind me very much of my friends that embaced “Punk”. Punk was brought forth as a rebellion in Britain against the political climate, loss of jobs, and economic uncertaintity. It was their way to rebell against the system. Hmmmm sound familiar?

Where we had gas guzzling hot rods to show off, todays youth have flashy Iphones and computer systems that are personalized through blogs and web pages to help express themselves. We were running with the shadows of the night (Thanks Pat Benetar) We were loud and obnoxious, we wanted to be heard, we dressed in our own style, we had a message and a story to tell and so do these kids. We were fighting for an identity, a place in society, we wanted to make a difference in the world without restriction from our government. So does this generation. We had it all, everything our parents didnt and more. We were called self entitled, brash, careless and dangerous. Our parents worried about our futures with the invention of home computers and other technology that was streamlining the American workforce. We were against war and wanted to “just give peace a chance”. We created Hands Across America and cheered as President Ronald Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down that wall”! This generations parents have also given our youth everything they didnt have, which if you think about it is just an extension of the “entitlement” issue we all see today. It has just been compounded over multiple generations. These kids are also fighting for some of the very same world views! The story might be a little different but the battle is still the same.

So as I sit here rocking out to one of my youth punk/rock hero’s Billy Idol, I cant help but change my point of veiw. So what has changed? What has people from my generation constantly yelling at our youth as we see them protesting in the streets, placing tents in the park, riding skateboards on the sidewalk, (like we didnt do that) swearing and behaving with disrespect. What has brought us to the point we are behaving like our mentors and leaders of the past?

Simple: We grew up! We embraced the machine that feeds us and provides for our children and families. We have responsibilites and a future to protect. We see things as our parents did, not with blinders on but quite the contrary. We can see far into the future, seperating what will and wont work. We have done this through trial and error, through learning from painful mistakes. Bettering ourselves and our position in society through calculated moves that cant possibly be understood from someone who has not walked in those shoes. As you become older your views change along with some of your ideals.

So are todays youth the same as the youth from our generation?

Todays youth are exactly the same as we were with one exeption. Todays youth are smarter. That doesnt make them any better or any worse than we were, they are just smarter. They have more tools in their tool boxes than we ever had at the time. They feel as though what they are doing is right, regardless of whether or not we approve! We felt the same way! Hopefully they learn from their experiences, so as they grow older they will have created a better life for the next generation they bring into the world. As I look at my children and ponder their futures its the very best I can hope for….

If life was like Law & Order

Every night my wife and I , shower away the day, brush our teeth, I go downstairs and lock up the house, she checks in on the kids then we shut the door turn out the lights, climb into bed, turn to each other and (get your mind out of the gutter) ask who has the remote? Yep, you see neither one of can sleep until we have watched a full episode of Law and Order. Thank goodness for our DVR, we have at least 10 episodes recorded for any sleeping emergency! My night just isn’t complete until I hear one of Dennis Farina’s smug little quips! Or Jerry Orbachs opening one liners as Det. Lenny Briscoe;

Sample: Mike (discussing infidelity as a motive for murder): Don’t wives always know?
Lennie: Mine did.
Mike: Yours didn’t hire a hit man.
Lennie: Not yet.

That is TV gold man!!! So as I am watching this little gem of a show it dawns on me, why can’t life be like Law & Order? You know everything tidied up in a neat little 40 minute (minus commercials) segment.

Opening scene; Dad comes down the stairs to find the kids fighting over who murdered/broke dads favorite coffee mug. After asking several questions and examining the crime scene it is determined that someone was obviously using the cup for ill intended purposes. (used to hold milk instead of coffee). Several people of interest at this point but no one is copping to the murder. As dad directs his partner (mom) to bag it for evidence, mom asks what are you going to do now that the mug is broken and dad quips back; well It appears there’s no crying over spilt milk! (Thanks Lennie)

Next scene; two of the kids are around the dining room table (interrogation room) with their heads down. The other two are upstairs with mom, they have already been identified as witnesses thus excluding them as suspects. Of course the two seated at table with dad don’t know this yet! Dad is circling the table trying to draw out a confession. Trick questioning, lies to deceive the suspects! I saw you two I know it was you two, I just don’t know which one for certain! Slapping his hands down on the table, focusing one suspect in particular he is heard proclaiming; there were plenty of other cups to be used yet you chose that one why, why did you choose that particular cup? I think you had a score to settle, angry that old dad wouldn’t let you have chocolate milk before bed last night you decided to get even didn’t you, (louder shout) DIDNT YOU! Oh yeah one of you better start talking cause we only make deals with the first bird to sing and I guarantee you those other two are singing like canaries right now!! The frightened look on the kids faces show they are about to crack when mom busts in the door and asks; are you done now? What do you mean am I done now, they are about to talk! Mom has now changed roles from detective to counselor! She proclaims to be working in the best interest of her clients and tells me since I have no conclusive evidence that she will be taking her clients now! What! As she exits the room she reminds me to follow the evidence trail correctly and the answers will become obvious!

I find myself back at the scene of the crime, looking for anything that will help my case, when the call comes in that one of my suspects has been beaten! I rush back to the back of the house to find the two recently released suspects sitting on the back porch crying while there counselor reprimands them for their improper behavior. I can see one of them is about to break. I lean forward and proclaim quietly to the aggressor in the situation; I know it was you, it’s just a matter of time.

That night after dinner, they are cleaning the table when I am dropped a note inside my napkin. It indicates that the mug was broken accidentally and my main suspect is ready to talk, but not here, away from his counsel. As I walk out back to get some wood for the stove, I turn around to find one child has followed me, he is upset and ready to cry. I place my around him and tell him to let it out, purge his guilt, I am ready for his statement.

He recounts the morning going along smoothly until he decided he wanted to drink a cup of coffee just like dad! So he climbed up on the counter, retrieved my special mug out of the cabinet, poured himself a glass of milk and as he was sipping, it slipped from his hand shattering on the ground. He then breaks down from the guilt and starts crying. I comfort him and tell him thank you for telling the truth! He asks: what happens now? I tell him because he came forward and told the truth I am sure by pleading guilty in front of the family court the judge will be lenient. He looks in disbelief and asks; How much time will I get? I let him know he is looking at 1-3 for the crime he committed. He squeals 1-3! Are you kidding me it was just a glass! It wasnt just a glass son, it was my special mug and we had to go through all of this to find out the truth. You also broke the rules by climbing on the counters to retrieve the mug that adds a little time to your sentence. I then remind him to count his blessings had he not come forward, and through discovery we had found him guilty he would have received the maximum of 5-10 days of restriction! I then remind him to be thankful milk wasnt the only thing he spilled, he spilled his guts, which in the end saved him. (corny ending one liner) He sighs, slumps his shoulders, I put my arm around him and he walks off to bed. Case closed, day done.

See! If life was like Law & Order it would be great! Everyday a new plot, everyday life tidied up in a neat little sell it the public on TV format! Yeah that’s the ticket! I wonder if you could make life-like “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”? Oh wait, that IS supposed to be real life isn’t it?

God help us all!!!!!

Till death do us part?

I listened today as my wife took a disturbing phone call from an old college friend.  Apparently his wife of many years has taken it upon herself to procure a boyfriend.  Now being one of traditional marriage this obviously did not sit well with her husband.  Sweet hearts in college, married with two adorable kids, and suddenly its all gone.  Life wasnt good enough, the marriage wasnt all she had dreamed, the road has been rocky but he tried everything he could to keep them together.  But apparently “keeping them together” was never in the fore front for her. Hence a new boyfriend….

Till death do us part.

My parents met when they were 15.  Married after my father returned from a stint in the Army thanks to the draft.  They settled down and started a life together as husband and wife.  I am sure they had a million dreams and plans they wished to fulfil.  They undoubtedly laid in bed at night knowing in their hearts this feeling of love would never end!  Never dreaming that one day their relationship would struggle, stumble or even land flat on its face.  I bet they felt as though the world was their oyster, and as a team there was nothing that could possibly stop them.

Mom and Dad took their vows very seriously, they were married in a house of God, before God and that meant something to them, both mentally and spiritually.  I can remember being very small and having my mother move around excitedly as dad came home.  Over the years that faded away as the stresses of two children started to wear her down.  Finances were a struggle too.  They were raising kids during a time our country was locked in an over 9% unemployment rate.  The price of oil was skyrocketing and there was fuel rationing at every service station.  My dad was moving from one job to another and income wasnt steady.  I bet they never dreamed of having arguments over money and children when they were first married. But they did.  Times grew harder as I remember arguments over horses (we had a horse ranch) and hay, dogs, and 4-H projects.  Some nights my mother would cry and my father would brood.  Yet they always managed to say I love you, and they never seemed to carry a grudge.  Sure they poke fun at each other now and again. They treat each other like old friends instead of happy newlyweds, but that’s completely understandable after 55 years of marriage. Yeah 55 years of marriage, that’s pretty amazing.

So I am left wondering what the big difference is?  Why are marriages tossed about like frisbees in the park?  How can someone preach the sermon of love to another then treat them with such disdain?  Well here are my thoughts:

The concept of marriage is tied to the church.  I can’t tell you how many people I know who hadn’t set foot in a church before their wedding!  Sure they went through the church counseling beforehand, but in my opinion there might be a little more to vows than just the symbolism of standing inside a church.

Society has embraced disposable lives.  We are a society of hoarders and wasters, if you have it I want it, if i get it and don’t like it I will throw it away.  Such is marriage, I got you, I have kept you, now I find a new better you and you are tossed to the curb.  My lawyer will be in touch!

Lawyers have continued to profit, making it incredibly easy to get out of something you never really took seriously to begin with. Just look at hollywood, these actors and personalities are getting married and divorced, sometimes within the same month.  2 million dollar wedding, 30 days later, wedding is over and the pre-nup is on the table with lawyers arguing over compensation.   What message does that send our youth?

You need to WANT to bring children into the world!  Not because you are lacking something in your life!  Not because you feel a child will save the relationship. Not because you are lonely and need a buddy! But because you’re ready to give up everything in your life to stop and raise another human being from infancy to adulthood.  Once you have kids you can’t give them back and they depend on you for everything.  Its awesome, but it does mean cutting back and in some cases just plain giving up some of your freedoms!  It also means being there for your wife when she becomes a first time mom!  It means being there for your husband when he is fumbling as a first time dad!  It means making sure you have patience, understanding and the ability to go endless nights without sleep.  All while still having the ability to romance and cuddle your wife, your husband, your best friend!  Letting them know they are the most important thing in the world and even though we have children now, that spouse still comes first!  Everything else falls into line after that!

Work at it!  The secret to my parents relationship, they worked at it, and continue to work at it everyday!  The learned how to grow and evolve!  They continued to talk, never leaving anything on the table to rear its ugly head later.  Say your sorry, sometimes even when you don’t mean it!  On occasion it has taken me days to realize I was wrong.  Would you rather have your spouse pissed at you for days or minutes.  Recognize when something is wrong, then shut up and listen!  Every problem doesn’t need an answer.  Sometimes its just nice to vent the issue then figure out the answer on your own.  Stay friends and always place each other first!  Even when you have children, you need to place each other first otherwise you will not be a team while raising your children.  This leads to resentment and anger when times are stressful.  Never, ever go to bed angry!  Hash it all out or to the best of your ability before you go to sleep!  Like I tell my kids when they have screwed up, tomorrow is a new day, you have a clean slate, make the most of it!

Lastly we have no respect for ourselves anymore.  If you don’t respect yourself don’t look for a relationship until you do!  No one is going to “fix” you, no one is going to make you feel better! Until you learn to care and love yourself, you have no business bringing another emotional human being into your life.  Seriously, how many times have we heard: I know he cheats on me but he loves me!  or I don’t care that he is married,  when he leaves her were getting married because he doesn’t love her anymore, he loves me!  She says it’s not me its her! She still loves me so its ok..  Have some self-respect..

Yes there are definitely circumstances where divorce is the only option.  Yes people change over time, but if you have kids, just try.  I havent met one kid from a divorced family that ever thought their up bringing was fantastic.  Dont cheat on your spouse, get divorced and move on before you cross that line.  It’s painful for all involved and if you have kids it’s just downright confusing.

I don’t have all the answers, I don’t think we are any better than anyone else or immune from any of the challenges that face married couples daily. I just know what I see.  Friends who we knew loved each other at one time, now can’t be in the same room together! It’s very perplexing. It’s a very sad emotional time for all involved.  My wife and I love each other very much and we respect each other enough to recognize when our relationship needs a little tune up.  We love our kids and our family and friends.  I plan on honoring my vows, I made them, I meant them and I have promised myself to her till death do us part.  I plan on keeping that promise.