Monday, October 30, 2006

Nice Underwear

So one day I’m taking a shower. A guy can take a shower in his own master bath in privacy, right? So I freshen up, splash on my favorite Eau de Toilette, slip on my clean drawers, and open the door to see Goonie standing there.

“Nice underwear, Daddy.”

“Uh, thanks, sweetie.”

I no wear whitey-tighties. I prefer seamless cotton-lycra thigh-length boxer briefs that provide personal support and a luxurious, comfortable fit. So I was somewhat embarrassed that my oldest daughter caught me in my draw’s, but it was like I was wearing shorts so I wasn’t streakin’ or nothin’. These particular draw’s had a prominent classic TH red-white-blue logo flag embroidered on the front.

“I like the flag. It’s pretty,” she smiled.

“Uh, thanks, dear,” I said, trying to contort myself into a position where my daughter could not view my crotch area. “I shan’t be wearing these out in public, though. The flag will be hidden under my trousers. That’s why we call them ‘underwear’. Hehe. Now excuse me while I find my trousers.” I jumped into the walk-in closet and grabbed the nearest jeans and slipped one leg into them. Damn! My wife’s jeans. I slipped them off.

“Can I wear them in public, Daddy?” She snuck inside the walk-in, trapping me.

“NO! I mean…no, Dear. These are men’s underwear. I don’t think Tommy makes little girls underwear with this kind of logo on it.”

“Who’s Tommy?”

“Oh, uh, Tommy Hilfiger. It’s his underwear.”

“Why are you wearing Tommy’s underwear?”

Oy! 5 year olds and all their questions! “I’m not…these aren’t…He makes men’s clothes dear. It’s a brand, like the logo on your shoes.”

“Oh. Ok.” With that answer she seemed satisfied and skipped out of the closet, humming the ‘My Little Pony’ theme.

I thought I had successfully put the “my daughter saw me in my underwear” fiasco behind me (no pun intended), but Goonie has a memory like a sponge. Her retention and recollection are impeccable. Nothin' gets past this girl. Recently we went to the mall and entered through the JCPenny department store. It just so happened that the men’s clothing was nearest the door to the parking lot. We entered and started walking when Goonie spied the underwear section.

Without a hesitation nor a volume censor she blurted out for the entire store and half the mall to hear, “I see your underwear, Daddy! Isn’t that Tommy’s underwear?”

I love my kid I love my kid I love my kid…

She’s the greatest. We’re still workin’ on the self-censor lessons.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

T'anks Mom

Little Bobo the Klingon is finally learning English as a second language. Although she throws in a healthy dose of Klingon-ese in every sentence still, she is coming along great. We understand what she wants with words like, “’nana”, and “joooooce!” Now she has learned, through repetitive repeating from her mother, of course, to say “T’anks Mom” after she receives something asked for, like the Big Gulp size 32 ouncer of joooooce.

She also is becoming quite adept at communicating what she doesn’t want. Every evening when it’s nearly time for all little Klingons to go to bed I say “Jammies!” Bobo’s eyes widen and she shouts, “no jimmies!” and bolts in the opposite direction in her little waddling fashion. Klingons are so cute when they waddle. She is no match for my speed and agility, plus I know a few secret shortcuts through the house. But even so, catching and then hanging on to a tiny Klingon are two different ball games with two very different set of rules. If she could speak, it would go something like this: “catch me if you can, but, oh, just TRY, dear Father, to confine me. I DARE YA!” She’s gonna be hell to keep up with as a teenager.

I firmly believe that they should add Klingon ropin’ & ‘restlin’ to the annual Pendleton Roundup Rodeo events. Or at least replace the greased pig chase at the state fair. This little 30 pound wiggly mass of muscle & mucus is one slippery critter! Once grabbed she can twist and maneuver into dozens of yoga poses in efforts to elude her captor. Never mind that she may be 6 feet from the ground and could fall on top of her head. She has no worries! She’ll bounce and just start running again.

Single handedly holding her down while changing her diaper and dressing her in the proper night time attire is a feat worthy of a Reality TV show. But each night I prove my superior strength & determination and succeed in preparing my youngest child for a restful slumber. After all the squirming, all the crying, the wiggling, the “NOOOOOO!”, when that’s all done she becomes completely calm, smiles as if there was no trauma for the past half hour, and goes happily about her business as if the screaming & eluding was all part of the “Jammie Game”.

So I follow her into the kitchen for our ritual preparation of the bottle of milk. I hand it to her. She looks me in the eyes and says,

“T’anks, Mom.”

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Quest for (Bus) Space


C’mon, people! We all have to cooperate, be conscious, and be considerate of our fellow commuters. Let’s take a look at the facts:

A typical cozy Tri-Met commuter bus contains about 51 seats (why the odd number, I dunno). Each seat is approximately 18 inches wide, so anyone who has broad shoulders (or butts) encompasses at least a seat and a half. So doing the math…let’s see, carry the one…ah! In theory a typical bus can fit 34.7 people comfortably. (I love theory. We can live in a perfect world, theoretically)

My naïve friends & acquaintances who have never ridden a transit bus always say, “I envy you. You don’t have to stress about slow traffic, hazardous roads or bad drivers. You can just stretch out on the bus, relax, pull out a paper, read a book, or just sleep all the way in to work.” Oy! The truth hurts.

What the theory above doesn’t consider, and my number cruncher geeky friends don’t factor, however, is that by squeezing ourselves into the Asana Position and standing on each others' shoulders a typical bus can cram about 101 people into the space of a college dorm room making the bus feel more like a cattle trailer, and sometimes smelling like one, too.

This morning on my crowded bus while I was feeling much like a turtle does when it scrunches into it’s shell, and reading the sports section of the guy to my left who had his paper fully stretched out and practically in my lap, I felt a little nudge – nudge – nudge to my right. Indeedy you guessed it: the lady next to me was applying her make up on a crowded bus.

Now I understand women…let me rephrase that (I don’t think I’ll ever understand women)…I mean I understand that women like to claim their ability to “multi-task”. And for some that means using the ‘free’ time on a commuter bus to do such tasks as read a book, write a book, preparing the weekly home menu, checking email, paying bills online, feeding the dog, even doing the routine arguing via phone with a significant other. And, of course, doing makeup is right there at the top of the list.

These things must get done, sure. But women, PLEASE, have some consideration when in close proximity to others. The lady to my right this morning was like a Fidgeting Flibbertygibbit and couldn’t keep still. She applied her base, shadow, liner, powder, all the while her unconscious elbow kept wedging into my ribs. It was really distracting me from catching the scores on my other seat-neighbor’s paper.

Ah, she finally finished the face-on process and I thought I’d have a nice, quiet rest of the ride. ‘Oh,’ she obviously remembered to herself, ‘I have to file my nails.’ The flibbertygibbit proceeded to rummage through her shoulder pack for a nail file, found it, and for the rest of the ride it was: scritchy scritch…scritchity scritch scritch…blow…scritcher scritchy scritch…blow…

I couldn’t help but notice her nicely French manicured long nails. How she applied make up on a moving bus without poking her eyes out was beyond the comprehension of my little coffee deprived brain.

Oh well. I did manage to catch the Cards-Mets score despite the elbow assault of the make-up lady. Drats…game 7 tonight.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Enjoy That Mocha…It Could Be Your Last

I’m dyin’ here. African cocoa workers have gone on strike. WHAT!!!!???? If you don’t think that means much then you need to catch up on my addiction.

How does a strike in Africa affect us? It means that mocha you hold in your hot little hand will soon become a hot commodity. It means I must stock up on my precious M&M’s before they become as precious as jewels. The Ivory coast cocoa farmers are hoarding all their beans until they can pull a higher price for their crops. First that means 40% of the worlds cocoa beans are being stored in the barn of some impoverished farmer with a name like Koffi Kokoa, thus reducing the global supply of the base ingredient for chocolate. Those of you who are familiar with macro economics 101 will micro-instantly realize that short-supply and high-demand means we chocoholics will soon be paying higher prices for our fix! And read between the lines…they want higher prices for their beans! So when a strike is eventually settled we’ll STILL be paying a higher price for mocha lattes.

Either way, I’m stocking up on my Christmas fudge and chocolate Easter bunnies. And I advise my blogger friends who love their Cadbury Mini Eggs to begin buying low now and make a tidy profit by selling high next Spring. That is, unless one Brilliant Blogger eats them all by then.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mind Numbing Quotes

Quotes of the day:

"The singers all loathe the sight of one another, the chorus despises the singers, they both hate the orchestra, and everyone fears the conductor; the staff on one prompt side won't talk to the staff on the opposite prompt side, the dancers are all crazed from hunger in any case..."

~~ (Terry Pratchett, Maskerade)


The Bean Counter Rap:

Beans! Beans! The special beans!
I let him go, I didn't know he'd stolen my beans!
And then Bang! Crash! The lightning Flash! And--well, that's another story. Never mind--

~~ Witch, Into the Woods (Sondheim)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Frogger Galagaligotendonitis: A term coined to describe the ache one feels in one’s wrist & elbow due to repetitive pounding of the FIRE button on video arcade games.
Donkey Kong
I was strolling through the illustrious Portland Pearl District with all it’s high falootin’ furniture stores, upper-class clothing shops and four-star restaurants yesterday. I heard from what appeared to be a mere hole in the wall amidst the glamour of the Pearl the oh-so familiar sounds of beeps, whistles, explosions, and wacka wackas of my favorite video arcade games of the 80’s. I froze, looked up and saw a small hand-painted sign above the door: “Mission Control”.

Mission ControlI had just discovered Mecca!

The unassuming door was ajar, filling the air with the hypnotic sounds of Pac Man, Space Invaders, Frogger, Tron, Asteroids, and the game of all games, GALAGA! Like a man in a trance I was pulled through the door and turned 11 yrs old again. This little unassuming arcade resembled a museum, hosting all the antique 1980’s electronic video arcade games. There was even an Atari station by the bar where Pong tournaments could be held. Did he say by the bar? That’s right, QBert! One can guzzle beer while blasting away centipedes! Galaga

I pulled a Lincoln out of my wallet and exchanged for a pocketful of quarters. I began dropping coins in Donkey Kong, Joust, Battlezone, Pole Position, Tempest, Defender, killing, shooting, pounding, eating, blasting! But I saved the best for last. I approached the console reverently, bowed to my old nemesis, the alien “Boss” Galaga, deposited my 25 cent offering, and the game was on!

Galaga was like cocaine to me when I was 13. I used to sell my stash of 2 dollar bills bequeathed to me by my late grandmother (sorry, Grandma. Rest in peace.) just so I could get my Galaga fix each day. Playing Galaga was better than sex! ‘Course I was a geek, a virgin geek at that, and would remain so for many (many) years, and only fantasized that sex was possibly as much fun as a stimulating video arcade game. Now with the pleasant addition of sipping an unfiltered wheat beer while playing a 25 year old video game, I still think sex might place a close second.

For almost an hour I dodged missiles, formed dual-fighters for challenge stages, blasted alien insects, offered more quarters, sipped beer and forgot about the world and all my troubles for a spell. When the Blue Boss crashed into my last fighter I again bowed to Galaga, acknowledging that he was indeed still the master, but assuring that I would return to challenge him another day.

Like, maybe, today. Anyone got change for a 2 dollar bill?

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Parent Nightmare

It happened.

We thought we lost our child.

Worse, for 3 screaming minutes (felt like hours) we thought our kid had been napped. On Saturday we were preparing to go to (yet another) birthday party for Goonie and all her preschool friends at her dance studio. Mamma went outside to clean out the car & get it ready. I, the Evil Papa, was in charge of slipping some shoes onto our wriggly little Klingon baby, Bobo. Goonie said she was going outside to help mamma with the car.

After a few moments I finally trapped Bobo (Klingons are quick!) and was struggling with little monkey toes, Goonie shoved her head in the front door and said, “don’t forget the cake, Daddy!” Then slammed the door and ran back outside.

“No worries, Goon,” I yelled back. For a short eternity I thought those might have been the last words I spoke to my beloved first child.

She was outside helping mamma, I thought. Another few moments went by and I was standing triumphantly over my little frowning Bobo (Klingons don’t little cute pink shoes) when mamma came inside and asked where Goonie was.

“She was outside with you.”
“No, she came inside.”
“Yes, then she went back outside.”
“She’s not outside.”
“She’s not in here.”

Freeze. Stare. Panic. We both had assumed our oldest child was under the supervision of the other parent. In unison we began calling our precious older child, splitting up to search indoors and out. I knew she wasn’t inside, yet I looked under her covers, in our master bathroom tub ‘cause I know she likes to play there rather than her own room. I even looked in the dryer. We swapped. I searched outside. She must have gone in the back yard into her new little playhouse. I heard the escalating panic in my wife’s calls as we continued to get no answer from our child. Nope, not in the backyard nor hiding in the playhouse. Where could she have gone?

It was that moment when I suddenly realized that in the space of 10 seconds an unsuspecting child could be picked up by a passing car and gone before anyone had a clue. But here we were in a beautiful middle class suburb, roses in everyone’s yard, American flags waving proudly on poles from most houses. A perfect neighborhood. That couldn’t happen here! But it does happen all over America. It’s on the news nearly every night.

But yet where was she? I’m not one to panic or get frantic. I’m the calm one. But in that moment I felt the sudden adrenaline of fear I had never felt before. I pulled out the baritone training and began calling my child’s name so that just about anyone within a square mile must have heard. If Goonie walked off she must have heard me.

My wife and I met at the front door. No luck. Wait! Where was Bobo? In our haste to find our oldest child we seemed to have temporarily forgotten our youngest. But a glance into the living room proved she was ok as she was fervently struggling to remove those blasted shoes. Again we swapped. I searched the fridge. The cabinets. The closets. Then…

“She’s in the car!” Our little Goon was so excited to get to the party she had slipped by both of us and strapped herself in her seat. Our Santa Fe was parked across the street and we didn’t even think to look there. Of course she wouldn’t cross the street by herself and get into the car without us, we thought. But she did. She was safe, and ready to party.

Goonie had indeed heard me calling, and when asked why she didn’t respond she said she was afraid to get out ‘cause she thought she was in trouble. We showered her with kisses and assured her she was not, but she needed to respond when we call for her. Especially in a public place with lots of people around.

So we strapped in our little Klingon, who already had one shoe successfully off, and drove halfway to the party place when I remembered…

I forgot the cake.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Big Brother is Watching...Umbria is Listening

I was recently reviewing my blog stats and found a hit from an outfit called UmbriaListens dot com. So I paid them a return visit. It turns out through my blog postings I’ve been scanned, evaluated, isolated, activated, identicated, determinated, demographicated, estimated, influenciated, titillated, and twitterpated! Using sophisticated, proprietary algorhythmic software, this company “mines” an estimated 40 million blog and message boards a day. Through use of grammar and language attributes, and even those silly little emoticons ;-), they can determine the demographic characteristic of a blogger, be it male/female, age, education, income, sexual orientation, favorite color, etc., of everyone in the entire blogosphere. All this ‘public’ data is captured, cleansed, filtered for SPLOGS (you’ll have Google that one!), and analyzed into relevant consumer trend topics for manufacturers and service organizations in order to formulate a strategic marketing campaign.

For this very reason do I not shop for my groceries at Safeway, and other national chain stores that make you join The Club in order to get their “lowest price.” What? That’s discriminatory of them you say? That’s right, savvy consumers. If I walk in and want to buy a gallon of Dreyers Ice Cream, Vlasic Pickles and a box of Twinkies I’ll pay about 25% more if I’m not in “The Club”. So why don’t you just get the stoopid plastic card & save a few bucks, you ask? There’s never something for nothing. I firmly believe I shouldn’t have to sign up “for free” and provide my name, address, phone number, age, marital status, home owner status, number of children, weight, dog’s name, (you get the demographic attribute collection here, right?) to pay a ‘normal’ price for ice cream. For every time I were to swipe a card at the register to collect my savings the corporation is learning about me, evaluating what I purchase, strategizing ways to send me coupons (ergo, junk mail), for instance. I’m a firm believer in civil rights and the right to privacy. I don’t want Safeway, or anyone else for that matter, collecting, analyzing and evaluating my purchase habits so they can target me in their marketing.

Case in point: Early in 2005 our little Klingon arrived via the stork factory. By November of 2004 we were receiving mailings from Babies R Us in anticipation of our blessed arrival in a few short months. The Evil Mezzo & I scratched our collective heads wondering, “how did they know we were having a baby?” We searched behind bushes and dumpsters to assure ourselves there were no corporate spys lurking about watching us, analyzing us, and strategizing ways to take our baby budget money. No spys were found. But we did find a nice pair of night vision infrared goggles below our bedroom window.

What was even more disheartening was this: not only did they know my wife was with child, but they knew the due date and the fact that they seemed to know it was going to be a girl. Whoa! Big Brother is indeed watching. How did they know? My conspiracy theory is that they probably knew the moment my wife bought that little ClearBlueEasy pregnancy test stick at Safeway (yes, she possesses and uses that cursed club card!). The evil corporation (no relation) analyzed her purchase and concluded from subsequent and frequent purchases of Rocky Road ice cream, pickles, and Twinkies that my wife was going to have a baby. Somehow the combination of those items have already been predetermined that the child would be a girl. The evil corporation shouted, “Eureka! Another sucker for baby products!” then shared their discovery (for a nominal fee, I’m sure) to other evil corporate monoliths, such Babies R Us, who devised a clever marketing strategy for expecting families with our income bracket and proceeded to swamp us with coupons and deals for baby items 3 to 4 months in advance of the actual birth.

We got a heck of a deal on an infant car seat.

Big Brother is watching, and Umbria is listening.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Where a Kid Can Be a Bully

I noticed some striking similarities between kids and bully adults last night at the local Chuck E’s. It seems in the heat of battle and competition they’re both a little pushy.

When Chuck the Cheese Meister himself, looking like a giant swamp rat with a ball cap & high tops, came strolling out to lead a little dancing and throw free tickets to the throng of adoring worshipers, kids came a-runnin’, passing each other, weaving in and out, flipping the bird, pushing aside the slow moving big kids to get to the front of the group. Recognize rush hour?

As tall as my 5 yr old is, she was no match for the giant 8 & 9 yrs who had no problem shoving a little girl aside from the Skeeball alley in their quest for redeemable tickets to trade for cheap, plastic, yet covetable prizes. Ever notice the same behavior with grownups when we are at a concession stand at a sporting event during halftime? How about the frantic moms & dads frothing at the mouth when the new Tickle-Me-Elmo went on sale? Elbows fly, man! Weapons are revealed and threats of violence ensue! Yup, same thing happens at your local pizza parlor.

My conspiracy theory is Las Vegas has a deal set up with CEC to create young gamblers. Every game distributes a seemingly random number of tickets after each play, encouraging the young Future Gamblers Anonymous of America (FGAA) to insert more and MORE tokens into the greedy machines. Hmmm…slots, anyone? Flashing lights and sounds overload the limits of the senses. And that attractive, gold plated Chuck E. Cheese token. It’s not REAL money. Kids can spend all the tokens they want guilt-free, just like they will someday haplessly throw chips on the Craps table at The Bellagio.

Just like Vegas, you gotta protect your chips. I couldn’t believe when little Goonie turned to me for another token after playing a generous ticket dispensing game of skill and dexterity, I spotted an even littler girl who was lurking behind the machine. She reached around, swiped the string of tickets, looked at me and saw that she was caught and ran like a field mouse through the arcade. I did what any reasonable, protective father would do…I yelled “STOP THIEF!” and scrambled after her to retrieve those tickets! She was smaller and could squeeze through tiny spaces, but I was bigger and faster and I knew I would catch her. Plus, she couldn’t escape the premises without a parental unit with matching invisible ink stamp. She could hide, but she couldn’t run! After about 20 minutes I found her hiding under the Bob the Builder ride counting her loot. She didn’t see me sneak up behind her, but the look of shock and awe was quite amusing as I reached over her shoulder and grabbed a handful of tickets, give or take what she stole from my little birthday girl.

“You’re a naughty girl for stealing tickets,” I scolded. “Shame on you!”

Her appearance morphed from shock to pitiful as tears welled in her big blue eyes and she said, “I’m sorry. I just needed enough tickets to get the My Little Pony stamp for my sister’s birthday.”

Little birthday Goonie, lover of My Little Pony, heard the poor girl’s comment and quickly said, “let her have all my tickets, Daddy. I already got a new Little Pony from my sister for my birthday. Let her give one to her sister.”

I raised my eyebrow and asked, “are you sure? You won’t get any prize if you give away all your tickets.”

“That’s ok. I got my new Ballerina Barbie. I don’t need any more prizes.”

This suited me fine. The last thing I wanted was for my little innocent girl to redeem an armload of tickets for temporary tattoos. Can’t have her getting any idears about body art at such a young age. The little girl squealed with glee and said, “thank you! My sister will be so happy!” And she ran off toward the trinket counter to turn in her booty.

Well, she sure pulled one over on us. As we loaded Goonie’s birthday presents & matched up our invisible stamps at the door, I spotted that little blue eyed girl. She was lurking behind the same arcade game with 2 arms covered with temporary tattoos prepared to swipe the tickets of some other poor unsuspecting schmuck father & his child. Clever girl, I thought to myself.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Just Don't Ask Her Age

Happy Birthday, Goonie!

What is it with women and their age? The Goon, for the past week, has been pining about turning yet another year older. With tears welting in her eyes she says, “I don’t want to be 5! I want to be four and a half FOREVER!”

So, to calm her fears about turning prematurely gray, I tell her to just lie about her age. Like all women, she’ll be doing it eventually anyway. She’s just starting…a few years before most women. For instance, her mother is…AHEM…29 (give or take 4 years). She doesn’t feel fully acclimated to being practically in her mid-thirties, so she prefers to say she feels like she is still 29.

Sure. I’d like to think I’m still 20-something and can party all night. In fact, I was 31 when I last attempted an all-nighter, partying with a group of younger college peers in celebration of a successful final presentation of our business class project. ‘Course, we started the party BEFORE the evening presentation, so we were lubed up pretty good during our speeches. I think we got the vote for “Most Entertaining Group of Drunken Schmucks” award for our sales pitch. Then we ended up at a nearby nightclub with live music ‘til 4 am. This was a Tuesday. I called in sick to work on Wednesday. I will never stay out drinking ‘til 4 am ever again. Having children has pretty much sidelined any desire for nighttime weekend shenanigans anyway.

So tonight, instead of going out the a local karaoke klub, or blues bar, and getting smashed, I’m going to Chuck E. Cheese and smash a few of those damn pop-up rodents, snarf some yummy ‘zza, and play my favorite video game, Galaga! Hey, who says we can’t still party in our 30’s?