Monday, August 29, 2011

“Don’t Judge A Valley Girl By Its Cover”

This weekend I volunteered at a 190 mile relay race to benefit one of my favorite charities. It was our job to man one of several changeover stations where these maniacs would pass the proverbial baton before running another 10 to 15 miles for their leg of the race. I myself would rather chew glass that put myself through that kind of torture, but I admire the tenacity (and sadism) of anyone willing to do it.

Our station was in the mountains of Glenwood Springs Colorado and our tour of duty, so to speak, was to be from 11:00 till 10:00. That is eleven at night till ten in the morning, not the other way around. It could have been the fourteen Red Bulls or the 5 hour energy chasers but around 3 am I was feeling pretty good, if not a tad jittery, and I started to hit my stride.

We were surrounded at this point by runners on every side and we were checking them in and out with all the efficiency of a whine’o hopped up on cold medicine. The teams seemed to arrive in groups, and as this particular crowd started to thin I heard a new team coming in behind me. From the sounds of them they were from deep in the valley of California, deep in the 1980’s valley. I have never heard so many likes and oh my gods in my life.

“I’m like hitting a mental wall right now”

“Oh my God do you need a hug or something”

“No like, I think I’m just like frustrated or something”

“Oh my God, we could like totally give you a pep talk or something. You’re like an animal. Like a totally ferocious tiger or something!” (Yes, they really said it)

So I’m sitting there with my back to them trying not to let out the 3 a.m. punch drunk laughter. Up to this point I hadn’t seen these girls, but I did, as I’m sure you all do, have an idea of what they might look like… and your wrong.

As I turned around I saw the three young women standing there. They were all African American women sporting dreadlock’s and gangster garb right down to the gold teeth. They looked like a Jamaican hit squad on the hunt.

Is there anything wrong with dressing this way? Absolutely not, dress however you want. Was it like seeing Larry the Cable guy give a dissertation on the future of Nuclear physics in Yemen? Yes.

I was left speechless. I stared at them and they stared at me. Then one of them raised an eyebrow and said, “Like what’s your problem?”

I lost it. I could not stop laughing. Luckily they were great sports about the whole thing. I would imagine they raise an eyebrow or two wherever they go. We chatted for a few minutes and they played up the valley girl slang. I’m not sure if they were playing a role for fun, of it or just living life outside the box. Either way I was glad to have met them. They reminded me that there are surprises around every corner. I don’t know where they finished, but I hope they did well, they were great girls and they definitely made my night go by a little faster.

What kind of surprises have you run into lately. I would love to hear em’.

Monday, August 22, 2011

“I’m Float’n Like a Butterfly, You Get Stung By The Bee!”

It’s funny how such a small thing can make you move so fast. Phobias catch us all at one time or another, for me its bees. It’s not really that I’m afraid of them, I just don’t like them. Kinda like standing on the tracks when a train’s coming; if I hear the horn I get off the tracks, simple as that.

OK, OK so a bee isn’t exactly a freight train, but that’s what a phobia does. It makes you act irrationally in a rational situation.

For instance, I used to own a painting business and as you can imagine, I would run into my fair share of wasp and hornet nests hiding under the eaves. In one particular house, we found a nest that was a bit hard to get to, but with some ingenuity, I found a way to get to it so I could destroy the pesky thing.

Before I go too much further, let me premise this by saying “Don’t Try This At Home!” It’s not a good idea; never was, and I’m about to prove it.

Anyway, knowing how I feel about these little pests, my wife thought she would tag along, thinking she would get a good laugh. Boy was she wrong. When we got there I pulled out my can of bug spray and my twelve foot painting pole. With a little masking tape I joined the two together and wallah, I had an ingenious device that would reach the high illusive nest.

As I got ready to do battle, my wife rolled her eyes and stepped back. This, as it turned out, was her biggest mistake.

One more piece of tape to jam the sprayer into position and I was off. I hoisted the spewing can up into the air, took aim and bam; direct hit. Unfortunately, these particular wasps must have flunked out of architect school because as soon as the stream hit the nest, it fell.

Oh yes, here comes the freight train!

As soon as it came down, I was off. I went east and the poison spewing poll went west, right to where my wife was standing.

In a way I guess she got her wish, because as soon as I took off I was followed by gales of laughter, but the laughter didn’t laugh long. When the can came down, it blasted her from head to toe. I couldn’t have done it better if I’d tried. Luckily the deluge didn’t last long. Somehow, when she closed her eyes to duck, she had the forethought to position herself to shut the whole contraption off when it hit the top of her skull. It worked like a charm.

In case you’re wondering, she was not laughing.

Being the brave and fearless husband I am, I yelled from the street and motioned for to her to get to the other side of the house so I could hose her off. In the end, I think I saved the day, but I have a feeling she didn’t agree.

So now I have a phobia of bees and wives, but I manage to cope with them both in my own ways.

Do you have a good story about some little bugger that sent you over the edge? I would love to hear about it. And don’t forget, painting polls and bug spray just don’t mix!

Monday, August 15, 2011

“Parents Are The Last People On Earth Who Ought To Have Children!”

The things a child can absorb amazes me. They can learn so much from their environment and the things around them, especially when you don’t want them to.

The other day I was sitting on my bed watching one of the endless reality shows you can find twenty four hours a day. My daughter was with me, and we were having a great time picking out our favorite contestants. We weeded out one, then another, then one particular guy caught her attention and she asked what I thought of him. I told her I didn’t really like the guy because I thought he was a bit too cocky. My daughter looked at the TV, considering my comment, then peered back at me with her innocent seven year old eyes and said, “Your right dad, that guys a real C#@k!”

I cringed inside then did what any responsible dad would do; I pretended it didn’t happen. I just nodded, trying to keep a straight face, hoping she would forget the whole thing. I think it might have even worked had my wife not poked her head around the corner to shriek, “What was that?!”

Needless to say we turned off the television and we had a long conversation about the proper terms we should use for “Boy Parts.”

It wasn’t really her fault that she gleaned such a word off my comment, it just happened. The innocence of a child combined with a desire to fit in seems to almost beg for such a result. I can still remember singing the Banana name game song when I was a kid but I could never understand why my name was always off limits. I would always start, “Chuck, Chuck, Bo Buck, Banana Fanna Fo…” Well you get the idea.

Even when you try to teach them something the right way, it seems to go badly. When my daughter asked how babies got out of their mommy’s tummy, we did our best to explain things as simply as we could. We went through the G rated version of the process and none of it fazed her in the least. That is, until we got to the part where the baby comes out. As soon as we told her how a baby was born, she looked down at herself, then back up at us with grizzled revulsion and said, “That’s disgusting; I don’t ever want to hear that again!” Then she got up shaking her head in disbelief, and walked out of the room.

I guess it’s not what we say, or even how we say it that matters, it’s all in how our children perceive it. It’s so hard to keep them innocent. I wish my daughter would stay seven forever, but I guess there’s no stopping her from growing up. Creative words will continue sparking interesting conversations, we will no doubt have the birds and bees conversation again, but she will never know the joy of singing the Banana song with her dads name in it. Oh well, such is life.

I would love to hear your Oops stories. Let me have it. Tell me all about the time you said “They said WHAT!”

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dog House or Poor House, Which Ones Worse?

The other day I had to call an HVAC repair guy to take a look at our air conditioner. In the 90 degree heat we've been having, our A/C just hasn't been doing the job. He came by and did his typical once over of the system, then came up to inform me there was a significant blockage covering the cooling coils. He said he could clean out the system and get it running in tip top shape for the low low cost of $297.00. I sighed, shaking my head, knowing it was going to cut into our meager vacation budget for the week, then agreed. I never thought to ask what exactly was blocking the cooling coils, but it didn't take long before I found out.

After about an hour of banging and cleaning I heard the repair man coming up the stairs. I turned around and saw him holding the "blockage" in front of him, like linen from a leper colony. The issue, as it turned out, was dog hair. Not a little dog hair, but a huge, giant, wad about the size of a football.

When he saw me he said "here's your problem" as if it weren't obvious enough; then we both laughed and dry heaved a little, then threw the giant mass into the garbage with a thump.

As he finished up it occurred to me how much it really costs to enjoy the pain... I mean pleasure of our beloved pets companionship. I don't mean the cost of feeding them, housing them, or keeping them in the air-conditioned lap of luxury they've become accustomed to. No, I'm talking about all the incidentals that come up thanks to their particular brand of dogged habits and curiosity.

We have three dogs, and they've all had their way with my pocket book at one time or another. You've all heard about Daisy, the 100 pound bottomless pit of love. If not, check out the blog "Never trust a dog to watch your food." She has by far been the winner for high dollar pet in the family. What with new carpet, and expensive surgeries to counteract her eating marathons alone , she has become the all time champ for sucking down gobs of our hard earned money.

Fred, our second dog, hasn't exactly been a slouch in the money spending department however. He's a 20 pound miniature pincer mix and he loves everyone. You can pick him up, turn him over, smother him with toddler kisses and he doesn't care as long as he is getting love. This however is also his Achilles Heel. He longs for the companionship of any human within sight distance, and he will do anything to get to a wayward stranger passing by. Thus was the birth of Fred the escape artist.

The little dog was an acrobat from the beginning. The first day we brought him home, we put him in the back yard. He walked up to the three foot chain link fence, and climbed it like a spider monkey. I don't think he even missed a step. He was up and over before we could snatch him up and we spent the next several hours chasing him down.

So expense number one became the five foot wood fence we would purchase to keep him safe at home. I purchased the materials and installed it over the next week. We let Fred out into the yard and away he went, surveying his new confinement. At first he seemed defeated by the new barrier, but we soon found out he would not be deterred. As it turns out Fred is also quite an accomplished digger. He whipped under the fence like an escaped convict, and before we knew it, he was off again. In the weeks that followed we tried everything from apple spray to Cayenne pepper, but nothing would keep him from his freedom. I guess he would just hold his breath and burrow through so he could wonder the neighborhood for a new family to invade.

After several weeks a neighbor gave me a great idea. He told me to dig a trench about 8 inches deep along the front fence line and fill it with concrete. He said it should discourage him enough to make him forget about it and give up the fight. I thought this was nothing less than a stroke of genius. I went out the next day, picked up a few bags of concrete mix and went to digging. A couple of days later my project was complete, and I let Fred out, confident in my victory. I stood there in the yard, watching him scratch at the concrete, looking pathetic and defeated, and I smiled, thinking I had finally proven mans superiority over this dogs meager intellect.

Unfortunately, my smile wasn't to last long. As I stood there watching him, Fred looked back at me and sneezed out what I swear was a laugh. Then without taking a single step back, that little dog crouched into a spring, then bounded straight up to the top of the five foot fence. It took a little scrambling on his part at the top, but he made it. He stood for a moment, poised at the pinnacle of his victory, and I can only imagine the little doggie laughter that passed through his mind. Then with a quick hop, he was off, and I was after him again.

Since that day I conceded my defeat. I have purchased him tags that have our phone numbers and the caption "My name is Fred, I like to run away." Now, when he manages to escape, we just wait for the inevitable phone call about the adorable little dog they've found. All in all we spent hundreds of dollars trying to keep our dog home, but in the end, it was a $10.00 tag that did the trick.

I love our dogs, well except maybe Daisy. I'm thinking of writing a children's series with her as the goofy villain. I think it would sell like gangbusters! Maybe she could earn back some of the money we've spent saving her from herself.

Our pets can cost us more than we spend on or children, but we keep them around anyway, and we love them all the more. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of the creative ways our pets can cost us money but I keep telling myself it must be worth it.

What kinds of things have kept your pets near and dear to your pocket books. I would love to hear about it. Maybe next time I'll tell you about the rather nasty habit our third dog Ethel has. I'm not sure if its nutritious but I am sure it's disgusting.

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!!