Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

























Thanks for the design.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

College Prep

"Now click on the submit button."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"It's too weird."

My oldest threw his hands up in exasperation. "You're too weird," he said. "I'll do it."

"I can't even watch," I said, turning away.

"What's the big deal?" he asked as he submitted his first college application.

"Cat's in the cradle," I sang.

"Mom was afraid this would happen," he said.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Heartache

Day 1, Scene 1

"What's wrong?" asked the Lovely Bride.

"Nothing," I said.

"You've been tossing and turning for hours. What's wrong?"

"I'm a little congested," I admitted. "It's been hard to get comfortable."

"How long have you been having trouble breathing?" she asked.

"I'm just congested."

"How long?"

"A few days."

"How much sleep have you had?"

"I don't know. Ten or eleven hours."

"Last night?"

"No, over the past few days."

"Oh, God." She found her stethoscope and pressed it to my back.

"Get dressed," she ordered.

"I'm fine."

"Get dressed."

Day 1, Scene 2

"Name?" asked the admitting clerk at the emergency room.

"Snag," I gasped.

The clerk looked up and put down her pen.

"Are you short of breath?" she asked.

"Yeah, kind of," I wheezed.

The clerk stood up and steered me to a wheelchair. "This way," she said.

Day 1, Scene 3

"Your pulse is 180," the ER doctor said. "And the beat's irregular. You'll need to see a cardiologist. I'll give you some medication that should help until then. If you start feeling worse again, you need to come back right away."

Day 2, Scene 1

"How is he?" the Lovely Bride asked our family practitioner. "Our cardiologist appointment isn't for a few days."

"He's okay, all things considered," said the doctor. "You need to watch him, though."

Day 3, Scene 1

"Hello everyone," I said. It was the first night of the class I teach. The Lovely Bride wasn't happy about letting me go, but I reminded her almost all the students were EMTs and the classroom was across the street from a hospital.

I lectured and led discussions for three hours, punctuating my conversation with shallow coughs. "Don't worry, it's not contagious," I told the class. They laughed uncomfortably.

Day 4, Scene 1

"We're driving you home," said my assistant, H.

"I'm fine," I said.

My boss stuck his head in the door.

"Why are you looking at me like I'm an idiot?" I asked him.

"Because you're acting like one," he said. "You sound terrible and look worse. Give her your keys. She and W. will get you and your car home."

"I can drive myself," I said.

"Alright," said H. "I'll walk to the parking lot with you and see how you're feeling."

"Fine," I said. I stood, picked up my briefcase and took a few steps before leaning against a wall, too tired to continue.

She grabbed the keys from my hand and steered me to the parking lot. W. loaded me in her car and H. followed us in mine. On the way I asked W. how I looked.

"You look great," she said, clutching her cell phone in case she needed to call 911.

When we got to my house, the Lovely Bride was waiting. "Come on in," I invited W. and H. "Can I get you anything to drink?"

"Probably not a good day for that," said W.

"Some other time," said H.

"Thanks," the Lovely Bride told them. She turned to me. "Let's go."

"Where?" I asked.

"The hospital."

Day 5, Scene 1

"Your heart beat's still irregular, but the rate's better," the doctor told me. I was in the ICU of the small, suburban hospital not far from my home and he was the hospitalist assigned that day. "We have some preliminary results back from your tests. I'll let the cardiologist explain them, but this type of condition can often be controlled with medication."

"What if that doesn't work?" I asked.

Caught off guard, he fumbled for an answer. "Hmm," he finally said, "I suppose they look at options like a transplant."

Day 5, Scene 2

"He said what?"the ICU nurse asked.

"That I might need a transplant," I replied.

"Look, he's a good doctor," she said. "He's not a cardiologist, though, and you're not anywhere close to having to worry about that yet."

"Okay," I mumbled.

"Can I talk with you ?" the Lovely Bride asked the nurse. They stepped out into the hall.

A short time later the nurse stuck her head back in the room. "Alright," she said, "tomorrow's the weekend and we can't do much more for you here. We're going to send you down to the University hospitals."

"Thank you," said the Lovely Bride.

Day 5, Scene 3

"Can we run the siren?" I asked the ambulance attendant.

"No, it's not an emergency," she said.

"Can I make siren noises?" I asked.

"If you want to," she said.

"Wee-ooh, wee-ooh," I said.

Day 6, Scene 1

"How are you feeling?" asked my friend E. He and my friend P. had come to visit. My mother was perched in a corner, ready to swat them if they got out of hand.

"Tired," I said.

"We figured out how to fix you," said P.

"He means your heart, not fixed like a dog," E. added helpfully. "Although we could probably do that too."

"We'll sew a pig onto your chest and run your arteries through it," said P. "It'll serve as a filter."

"Plus you'll have bacon whenever you want it," said E.

Just then a nurse came in the room.

"If you're going to shock him, can I hold the paddles?" asked E.

"What's wrong with your friends?" the nurse asked me.

"That's a complicated question," said the Lovely Bride.

Day 7, Scene 1

"Would you like to go outside for a little while?" the cardiac rehab specialist asked.

"In this? I replied, pointing to my hospital gown.

"You won't be the only one," she said.

"I can take him," said the Lovely Bride. We rode the elevator down to the courtyard and sat for a while, holding hands in the sun.

Day 8, Scene 1

"I'm afraid we couldn't do the cardioconversion today," the doctor told me. "We found a clot."

"What does that mean?" I asked. It had all been explained before, but the fentanyl was still wearing off and there was a lot I wasn't clear about.

"We'll keep you on Coumadin for another five weeks to thin your blood and then see where we are."

"Feeding rat poison to a lawyer?" I asked. "That's subtle."

Day 9, Scene 1

"I'm sick of this place," I told the nurse.

"Thanks," he said.

"Nothing personal," I said. "You guys are great. I mean I'm tired of being in the hospital."

"That's alright. It gives us a chance to do a miniature sleep study tonight, see if you're having trouble getting oxygen when you're sleeping."

"My wife put you up to this, didn't she?" I asked.

"You'd be a lot better off if you just listened to her," he said.

"So I've been told," I said. "How does the sleep study work?"

"We jam a straw with a balloon on the end into your trachea and then see how big the balloon gets."

"You could get fired for terrorizing your patients," I pointed out.

"Probably," he said.

"Can I keep the balloon as a souvenir?" I asked.

"Sure," he said.

Day 10, Scene 1

"My left arm's numb," I told the Lovely Bride when she arrived in the morning.

"Did you tell the nurse?" she asked.

"Sort of," I said.

"I'll tell her," she said.

"No, then they won't let me go home today."

"You're a heart patient and your left arm is numb. I think that's important for the doctor to know." As she spoke, the cardiologist, Dr. M., arrived with his fellow and intern in tow.

"How are you today, Mr. Snag?" Dr. M. asked in his vaguely European accent. He'd been on rotation the week I'd been here and had been treating me, although I'd be seeing a different cardiologist after I was discharged. I didn't much like him and I suspect the feeling was mutual.

"I'm alright," I said.

"His left arm is numb," said the Lovely Bride.

Dr. M. asked a few questions, had me grasp his hand, and shrugged.

"What do you think it could be?" asked the Lovely Bride.

"It could be a lot of things," he said.

"Such as?" she asked through clenched teeth.

"Perhaps he slept on it. Perhaps an affect from drawing blood. Perhaps a stroke."

"Shouldn't we try to find out?" she asked.

"It won't change our treatment," he said.

"It would still be nice to know why my husband's arm is numb before I bring him home from the hospital."

"Ma'am," he said, with more than a hint of patronization, "what exactly would you like me to do?"

Uh oh, I thought, this won't end well.

"I would like you to tell me whether my husband has had a stroke if that's not too much to ask," she snapped.

The cardiology fellow intervened. "Doctor M.," he said, "I'm sure we can get neurology to sneak him in for a quick test this morning."

Dr. M. glared at him for a moment and reached a decision. "Very well. But then I cannot promise you that neurology will allow you to be discharged today."

"We'll take that chance," said the Lovely Bride.

Day 10, Scene 2

"You're still here?" asked the nurse. It was almost 6:00 p.m.

"We're waiting for the doctor to sign him out," said the Lovely Bride.

"Oh, Lord," said the nurse. "Dr. M. left an hour ago."

"I'll kill him," muttered the Lovely Bride.

"Are we stuck here another night?" I asked.

"This is ridiculous," said the nurse. "Wait here." She marched out of the room and corralled a resident.

"Where do you think you're going?" she asked him.

"Home," he said.

"Put your lab coat back on," she said. "You're not going home until he does." She pointed at me.

"Neurology hasn't released him," he replied.

"Come with me. We'll find a neurologist."

"I don't think. . . " he was saying as she dragged him away.

Five minutes later, they were back.

"Mr. Snag, I'm happy to say you're free to leave," said the resident.

"Thank you, doctor," I said.

"Thank you, nurse," said the Lovely Bride.

"Can I go now?" the doctor asked the nurse.

"As soon as you sign here," the nurse told him, handing him the discharge form. He signed quickly and left, before she could change her mind.

Day 10, Scene 3

"Hey boys, your dad's home," the Lovely Bride said as we came into the house.

"You look awful," said the oldest.

"Mom said you're not supposed to have stress. Does that mean I automatically win our arguments?" asked the middle one.

"That's kind of weird," said the youngest when I hugged him.

The dog jumped on me.

"I missed you all," I said.

I did.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Complaints

My mother visited this morning, notwithstanding the Lovely Bride was out of town with my oldest and youngest.

"Hello!" she called as she came through the door.

"Hi Grandma," the middle kid called from the basement, where he was fighting Nazis or space aliens or God knows what.

"I need you to help me with something," she said to me.

"If you need someone killed, you're better off going to that bar you were at last night," I told her.

"I was at a play last night," she said.

"Sure you were," I said.

"I'll kill someone for you Grandma," the middle boy yelled.

"I don't need anyone killed," said my mother.

"Good," I said. "My own list is already too long."

"Stop being silly. I need your help."

"Fine. With what?"

"I want to say something negative about someone on the internet."

"That will certainly stand out," I said.

"I am very unhappy with the company that ran my tour to Norway."

"Not enough lutefisk?" I asked.

"The food was fine," she said. "The problem was the air conditioning on the bus. It didn't work."

"Why don't you just get a handful of carbon dioxide and use it to beat your grandchildren?" I asked.

"Are you going to help me or not?"

"Of course I'll help you," I said. "You're the best mom ever. That's why I'm the best dad ever."

She rolled her eyes.

"Am I the best dad ever?" I yelled to the middle kid.

"Can I have $10?" he asked.

"Okay," I said.

"You're the best dad ever," he yelled.

"See?" I beamed at my mother. "Now, what do you want me to do?"

She handed me a typewritten sheet laying out a complete timeline of the air conditioning issue on the bus, as well as her failed attempts to get the situation remedied on the trip and afterward.

"You spent five days on a bus without air conditioning, with the temperatures in the 80s, and they only sent you a check for $50?" I asked her when I finished reading.

"That's right," she said.

"What happened to you?" I asked. My mother's relatives in other cities used to save up their store returns for her visits. I think it was her way to fight the corporate system. That, and League of Women Voters.

"They're based in North Dakota," she said. "I can't visit their office, I don't know the Attorney General in that state, but people should know they don't take care of their customers."

"Yes they should," I agreed, posting her comments about Brekke Tours.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Goody

"I hear you're the guy I should talk to about lunch," said one of my coworkers.

"Really?" I asked, touched in a sad sort of way.

"Yeah," he said. "I heard you'll eat almost anything."

"True," I said. "It's also true I'll eat anything."

He thought about that for a minute.

"Sometimes I'm not even sure if I'm eating food," I added helpfully.

"Huh," he finally said.

"I'll schedule lunch for us," I said.

"I'm pretty busy the next few weeks," he said.

"No rush," I said.

"Oh," he said. "Good."

Breaking News!

Minneapolis will pay $165,000 to zombies


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Close To The Tree

"Is that a black eye?"

"No," said my youngest.

"Yes it is," I said. "How'd you do that?"

"Remember when I slept over at M.'s house two nights ago? You drove us over there and on the way you were asking him about basketball and then we were talking about the time a couple years ago we played that one team and he tried to make a shot from the corner and his dad yelled at him and then he said he could have made it anyway and then his dad yelled at him some more?"

I already regretted this conversation. "What are you talking about?" I demanded.

"After you dropped us at his house we ate dinner and played with the dogs for a while."

"The dogs gave you a black eye?" I asked.

"No."

"Then why are you telling me about them?"

"Don't be stupid," said the boy.

"Sorry," I said.

"After we played with the dogs we went outside to play baseball."

"You got hit with a baseball?"

"I told you to stop being stupid," he said.

"Sorry," I repeated.

"We couldn't find a baseball. So we were going to play with a tennis ball. But we couldn't find one of those either."

"What did you do instead?" I asked, long past the point of actually caring.

"We used a basketball."

"Oh, you got hit with the basketball."

"No, M. pitched the basketball to me," he continued. "When I swung at it, the bat bounced back and hit me in the eye."

"You hit yourself in the head with a baseball bat?" I asked.

"Sort of," he said.

"And I'm stupid?"

"Yes," he said.

"Okay, then," I said.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Busy Bee

Lots to do the next couple of weeks. In the quiet times, amuse yourself.

Hyperbole and a Half

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Transparency

"Where are they?" I muttered as I rummaged through my friend's kitchen cabinet.

My friend's daughter was watching. "What are you looking for?" she asked.

"A bourbon glass."

"They should be in there."

"I can't find them," I said. "Maybe I should use a cereal bowl instead."

"Whatever stops the tears," she said.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Poor Kid

It's off to California tomorrow. The oldest is flying in from Auckland and we're making a quick college visit in Los Angeles on Friday. I only wish I'd known how ugly New Zealand is before I'd let him go.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Goddamnit

"Fuck you, bitch!" I heard as I parked at the office this morning. The man was leaning out the window of an old Jeep.

"Fuck you," the woman yelled back. She started to walk away.

The Jeep did a Y-turn. The man got out and hit the woman. She screamed. He pushed her in the Jeep.

"911, is this an emergency?" asked the operator.

"Yes," I said.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gummi Bear

"Hey, come here," I yelled downstairs.

"What?" my middle kid yelled back.

"Just come here," I said.

"I bet you're in trouble," the youngest said.

"Shut up," the middle boy told his brother.

"Stop arguing and both of you come here," I yelled again.

"Are you going to make us watch one of your stupid music videos?" the middle kid asked as he trudged into the room.

"Look," I said, pointing to the computer.

"Hey, that's my oldest brother!"

"Yeah, they're posting photos from Australia. This one's from yesterday."

"Is that a koala?" asked the youngest.

"It sure is. Pretty cute, isn't it?"

"Cool," said the youngest.

"You know what he did right after they took the picture?" I asked.

"What?" asked the middle boy.

"He had to kill and eat it."

"WHAT?!!" they both shouted in unison.

"Sure. It's part of the travel experience," I said.

"You're lying," the youngest said with certainty.

"No I'm not," I said. "Your brother's learning about different cultures."

"Dad's lying, right?" the youngest asked the middle boy.

I shook my head. "Look, it's like when you have a hamburger. Someone had to kill the cow. This is the same thing. It's a way to teach about the farm to fork cycle."

"But that's a koala. People don't eat koalas," said the middle kid.

"Then why is Australia full of koala ranches?" I pointed out.

"Nobody would eat a koala," insisted the youngest.

"We don't eat them here. In India they don't eat cows. Same thing."

"How did he kill it?" the middle boy asked, still skeptical, but also a little intrigued.

"With a special tool," I said. "It's called a didgeridoo."

"That's not a weapon, that's an instrument," the youngest smirked. "Your friend R. has one."

"It's a multipurpose tool," I replied. "You can play music on it or kill with it. 'Didgeridoo' means 'koala hammer' in Australian."

"Mom, is there such a language as Australian?" the middle kid asked as the Lovely Bride walked in the room.

"They speak English in Australia," she said. "Why, what's your father telling you this time?"

"What did my brother eat for dinner at the koala ranch?" demanded the youngest.

"Oh, dear God," said the Lovely Bride.



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bon Appétit, Volume 14 - Take Me Out To The Ballgame

With baseball season in full swing (and a miss!), it's time to break out the grill and prepare some of those great American favorites. Best of all, the only tools you need are a good knife, a hot fire, and your cunning and agility.

1. Home Run Platter

Snare and carefully butcher three medium possum. Reserve pelts for quilting. Steam over low heat for approximately one full moon. When tender, whisk together with a Maris and allow to cool to room temperature. Accompany with a hanging curve.

Serves Eight Men Out.

2. Triple Play

Choose one meat from each of the pork, beef, and chicken families. Cook until delicious and stir to blend. Shred one lamb. Discard. With a kitchen torch, sear top of meat blend. Sprinkle with Bac-O-Bits. Serve with flan.

Serves Tinkers, Evers, and Chance.

3. Strikeout Soufflé

Befriend one young soufflé. Nurture until full grown. Decorate with glitter, then roast in a 300 degree oven for approximately two weeks. When police appear, deny everything. Garnish with topiary and fade discreetly into the night.

Serves its purpose.

4. Pop Fowl

Garotte a mature, unsuspecting bird. Hang in a dank place until dank. While danking, reduce three liters Dr. Pepper until viscous. When bird is danked, lard with Dr. Pepper reduction and smoke over pepperwood until gelatinous. Slice thinly and top with pleather.

Serves 2.

5. Contract Corn

Take the proceeds of one Major League Baseball contract and halve. Set aside one half to feed 100,000 hungry children. Use other half to buy popcorn facility. Produce corn, flavor with salt collected from the tears of remaining hungry children. Sell for $10.

Serves very few.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Huh

My eldest is leaving tomorrow, off to Australia and New Zealand for a couple of weeks.

I don't know what to think.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Correction

"Mom, some guy named Rob called," said my oldest.

"Was it Rob Gooder?" asked the Lovely Bride.

"Oh sweetie," I said to her. "What did they teach you in school? It's not 'gooder.' It's 'better.'"

"Was he this dumb before you married him?" the oldest asked his mother.

"Yes," she said. "I thought he'd get better."

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Love Baseball

District playoffs.

Trailing 9-6.

Last inning.

Two outs.

Bases loaded.

Bottom of the order.

Kid hits a walk off grand slam.

The crowd goes wild.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Songs I Never Hated - Part 18

From the first album I ever bought.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Hope My Wife Has A Sense Of Humor

"You're sure?" I asked, plugging in the hair clippers.

"Yes," said my youngest.

"Really?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"It'll be good luck for baseball playoffs. Plus, Mohawks are funny."

"Yes they are," I said.

The clippers roared.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bánh Mì Bounty

"What a great picture!" said my assistant, H., pointing to the screensaver. We were sitting in a coworker's office, discussing build out plans. At least they were. I was furtively looking out the window, hoping to locate the police car that had distracted me with its siren.

"Thanks," said our coworker. "I took it in Ireland last year."

"Snag's a photographer," said H.

I heard my name and refocused.

"What?" I said.

"You were taking pictures in your office yesterday afternoon," she continued. "Remember?"

"No," I said. "Liar."

Our coworker considered us with increased interest. "What were you photographing?" he asked.

"Nothing," I said.

"His sandwich," said H.

"You took a picture of a sandwich?" asked our coworker.

"To show to his wife," H. said.

"Why did you want your wife to see it?" he asked me.

"This is a stupid conversation," I replied.

"He wanted her to know how delicious it was," H. added.

"Be quiet," I suggested.

"What did your wife say?" asked our coworker.

"What would your wife say?" H. inquired.

"That it's weird to photograph a sandwich," said our coworker.

"Bingo," said H.

"It was delicious," I said.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hasta

"Turn off the TV!" I yelled.

"Why?" the middle kid yelled back.

"Because you need to pack!"

"Stop yelling!"

"Then come here!"

He stomped upstairs, exhausted and crabby. "What?" he demanded.

"You need to pack," I repeated.

"I can do that tomorrow."

"No," I said. "Your brother has a baseball game tomorrow and you have soccer practice."

"So? I'll do it after practice."

"I don't want to pack at 11 p.m. Besides, I have to pack, too."

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"To the annual conference for work," I said.

"Oh, right. There. Have fun."

"It'll be okay," I said. "It's an easy drive."

"Not as nice as Playa del Carmen," he said.

"Which I'm paying for," I reminded him.

"You're just paying for the airfare," he said. "My friend S. is paying for the room."

"Your friend's mom is paying for the room," I corrected him. "And just the airfare was a small fortune."

"You have a good job," he said.

"I have a great job," I said. "That doesn't mean I'm rich."

"You always say you're rich."

"I am, in the context of people around the world. In the context of people who send their children on vacations out of the country, I'm not."

"So you're poor?"

"No, I'm not poor. I'm tired of this discussion, though. Can we go finish packing?"

"Can we argue while we pack?"

"Do I have a choice?"

"Not really."

"Alright," I said. "If it gets you out of the country, I'm willing to give it a shot."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Unknowns

"What is that?" my assistant asked. I was eating lunch at my desk.

"I don't know," I said.

"What do you mean you don't know?"

"It looked interesting, so I bought it."

"Where?"

"A Vietnamese grocery down the street."

"What did the label say?"

"I don't know," I said. "It was in Vietnamese."

"Is it a spring roll?"

"Maybe," I said. "It might have shrimp in it. Or mung beans. It's hard to tell. It's got sort of a Silly Putty texture."

"Is it any good?"

"I don't know. It's kind of weird, actually. I'm trying to decide if it's good weird or weird weird."

"You're going to finish it either way, aren't you?"

"Probably. Waste not, want not."

"What's wrong with you?" she asked.

"I don't know," I said.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

20

On a warm summer night, we walked home after work.

With the city in the background, I gave her a ring.

The champagne popped and the rain came, and we ran laughing to shelter.

We had kids and laughed some more and fought and played and the time has gone by more quickly than I could have imagined.

I love her more now than I ever have.

Happy anniversary, light of my life.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Horsing Around

"What in the name of God are you going to do in Iceland?" I asked my mother.

"See the sights," she replied.

"Give me a couple thousand bucks and you can look in our freezer," I offered.

"Iceland has a temperate climate. You're thinking of Greenland."

"You're trying to tell me Iceland isn't icy and Greenland isn't green? And I suppose A isn't A. Looter."

"Stop being so obnoxious," she said.

"Good luck with that," muttered the oldest boy.

"Besides," continued my mother, "it's on the way to Norway."

"Geographic continuity is no way to plan a vacation. The Slough of Despond is on the way to the Valley of Humiliation but I wouldn't visit either of them," I said.

"What?" she said.

"You'd understand the reference if you hadn't spent your college years running guns and cooking meth."

"I spent my college years in Evanston," she said. "It was a dry city."

"Which gave you a monopoly on the market," I pointed out.

"Be quiet," said the Lovely Bride. "I want to hear about your mother's tour."

"Thank you," said my mother. "He is unbearable. I'm not actually taking a tour of Iceland, however, I'm simply going to spend a day or two there."

"They're letting you run around Europe unattended?" I asked.

She ignored me. "I've heard Reykjavik is very nice," she continued.

"You should go horseback riding there," I suggested.

"Why would I want to do that?" she asked warily.

"The oldest gets to go horseback riding when he's in Australia," I said.

"That sounds like fun," she said to her grandson.

"We even got to name the horse," I added.

"We did not," said my oldest. "He's being stupid again."

"Sure we did," I said. "When we filled out the horseback riding waiver form, it asked for a name."

"They wanted your name," said the boy. "Nobody else would be dumb enough to think they were asking us to name the horse."

"We gave the horse a nice name," I said.

"That was the worst part," my son told his mother and grandmother. "He named it 'Jumpy.'"

"You didn't have any better suggestions," I said.

"That's because we weren't supposed to name it," he snarled.

"We had to," I said. "The Outback's a desert."

"What does that have to do with anything?" asked my mother.

"He can't ride through the desert on a horse with no name," I said.

"Please stop," said the Lovely Bride.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Soft Serve

"Hey," I said.

"What?" my oldest demanded. He dislikes talking on the phone as much as I do.

"Do you want anything from Dairy Queen?" I asked him.

"When are you going?"

"I'm at the ballpark. As soon as your brother's game ends."

"I'm not very hungry."

"Mom called," I said. "She said the tennis team banquet was nice."

"It was fine."

"She said they announced you were going to be captain next year."

"Yeah."

"I thought we'd have some ice cream. Celebrate a little."

"That's stupid," he said.

"Probably," I said. "So, you want anything?"

"A Butterfinger Blizzard."

"Okay," I said.

I'm proud of you, I thought.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bird Is The Word

This was a long weekend, of course, which meant lots of good, healthy, Snag family fun.

"Jeez, dad, don't you find that even a little inappropriate?" asked my middle son. He was lying on the couch watching television.

"What's inappropriate?" I asked, plopping down on the other couch.

"Giving me the finger."

"Oh. That. Yeah, I suppose."

"In fact it borders on the morally reprehensible," he said.

"Big words for a little boy," I said.

"Thanks," he said. "But really, giving me the finger?"

"It's kind of funny, don't you think?"

"I guess. You're a horrible parent, though."

"That's my point," I said. "On a ten point scale, where would giving you the finger rate, compared to the other stuff I do?"

"About a three," he admitted.

"So there you are," I said.

"Mom still wouldn't approve," he said.

"I wouldn't approve of what?" asked the Lovely Bride, walking into the room.

"My outstanding parenting skills," I said.

"Yes," she said. "I lose a lot of sleep worrying that you're raising our children too well."

"Sleep well, my precious," I said, smooching her on the cheek.

The boy rolled his eyes and went back to his show.

"Can I punch you in the heart?" I asked him.

"Later, pops," he said.

"Right on," I said.

"Dear Lord," said the Lovely Bride.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't Get No Better

Meeting him was one of the great moments in my life.

By "him" I mean Ben, who was inside when this photo was taken.




















Snag with one of Ben's sons and Mrs. Ben.

P.S. Seriously. They were some of the nicest people I've ever met.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just Sad

"Hey, Snag, do you want to be on the management wellness team? We're going to compete against other employee teams."

"What do I have to do?"

"Record how many minutes you exercise every day."

"How broadly do you define 'exercise'?"

"Never mind."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Time to go provide for the family, armed only with a fishing rod, my wits, some good bourbon, and enough meat to choke a carnivorous horse.

I'll be back. Too soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shake A Leg

"Hey, come here," I yelled to my assistant.

"What?" she yelled back. "I'm busy."

"Seriously, you've got to see this."

"Aren't you supposed to be working on the budget?" she asked, walking into my office.

"Yes, sure, whatever," I said. "Look." I pointed to the bus stop across the street.

She looked. "Oh my God, what's he doing?"

"Polishing his leg," I said.

"It's in his lap," she said.

"I know. I saw him take it off."

"I didn't expect that," she said.

"I told you it was worth seeing," I said.

"It was," she said, closing the blinds. "Now get back to the budget."

"Okay," I said.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rock On

"What are these?" asked one of my co-workers.

"Souvenirs," I replied. "For the gang."

"Okay. Thanks, I guess. But what are they?"

"They're little rocks. I got enough for everyone."

"You're joking, right?"

"No," I insisted. "They were part of the Little Rock."

"Why do some of them look like concrete?"

"Those are from the pilings they used to shore up the rock."

"Where did you get them?"

"From a rock vendor. He had a stand at the classic car show. Near the pavilion where ZZ Top was playing."

"And they're supposed to be genuine?"

"He assured me there are," I said. "I could tell he was honest. He only had a few teeth."

"Please don't tell me you paid for them," she said.

"He gave me a bargain," I said, perhaps a bit defensively.

"Did you get any magic beans?" she asked.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Honor Thy Mother

"Put it down!" I shouted.

Lucy darted away. I flailed at her with a stick, trying to back her into a corner of the yard.

"Stupid dog," I growled at her. She growled back.

Things had been going downhill since Friday. My morning meeting that day had gone long and by the time I got back upstairs to my office, my mother was firmly ensconced in a guest chair.

"Sorry I'm late," I told her.

"It's fine," she said. "I've been having a lovely conversation with H."

H., my assistant, smiled at me. "I've learned so much about you," she said.

I moaned in quiet pain. "Mom, what kind of lies have you been telling?"

"You see?" my mother asked H. "This is how he behaves."

"C'mon, Ma, let's go eat."

"It's cute the way he calls you 'Ma,'" said H. "He sounds like he's from the East Coast."

"I think it's irritating," said my mother. "Then again, I've had to deal with him all these years."

H. nodded. "I can see how that would be irritating."

"Can we go?" I asked. "I'm starving."

By the time we got to the restaurant I'd recommended, a Szechuan place noted for its lunch buffet, the line reached out the door. Sitting in the passenger seat of my mother's car, I shrieked in frustration.

"Oh, stop complaining," she said.

"I've got a meeting at 1:30 and I don't have time to wait."

"We'll find another restaurant," said my mother.

"I don't want to go to another restaurant. I want to go here."

"Then let's get in line."

"I hate lines. I'll have a nervous breakdown."

"You'll have a heart attack if you don't relax."

"I hope so," I said.

"Your children need you."

"You're lying again."

We finally got me fed and returned to work, although not without a fair amount of swearing on my part. After enduring an afternoon of comments from my coworkers about how lucky I was to have a mother like mine, I escaped for home.

And now, less than a day later, here I was chasing a dog.

"Lucy killed a squirrel," the Lovely Bride announced a couple of hours before as we watched our middle boy's soccer game. She'd just finished texting our oldest.

"Lucky squirrel," I said.

The Lovely Bride shook her head. "Your mother said you were in a mood."

"It's not a mood, it's a belief system. I believe that if there was a God, He'd hate me."

The parent sitting on the other side of me looked over for a moment and went back to watching the soccer game. She's known me for years.

"Do you mind?" whispered the Lovely Bride. "We still need these people to help carpool."

"Fine. Lucy killed a squirrel. So what?"

"So the oldest had to leave for work and couldn't get it away from her. He left her outside. You'll have to get it away from her when we get home."

"Me?" I asked. "You do it."

Which is how I came to be chasing the dog around the yard, a bloody and quite dead squirrel dangling from her mouth.

"Come here, girl," I said. "Daddy loves you."

She tried to sneak past. I shook my stick and she retreated to the other side of the fire pit.

"Good girl," I said. "Now drop the rodent and nobody gets hurt."

She feinted right. I was there for her, got the stick hooked in her collar, and she released the carcass.

"Stupid dog," I repeated, flinging the squirrel into the marsh on the other side of the fence. Turtle food.

The stupid dog took the opportunity to lick me. I gagged and pushed her away.

Toweling off after my shower, I yelled to the Lovely Bride in the living room, "What did I do to deserve this?"

"I think you know," she replied.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Setting Sail

"You need to pick a place for dinner in Little Rock," my assistant, H., told me.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it's your job to entertain the board when you're out of town."

"Really?"

"Yes. If you leave it to T., you'll end up at a pub with good beer and adequate sandwiches."

"I like beer," I said.

"That's fine," she said. "You can have beer with dinner. But you've got to find a nice place to eat."

"Then I have to get dressed up," I whined.

"It doesn't have to be fancy," she said. "It just has to be nice."

So I spent much of last night researching Little Rock restaurants.

"I found one," I announced this morning.

"Good job," said H.

"Are you patronizing me?"

"I wouldn't do that."

"No doubt," I said."Can you make reservations?"

"Yes."

"Do I remind you of Julie from 'The Love Boat?'" I asked.

"What's 'The Love Boat?'" she replied.

"How old are you?" I asked. Then I sang the Love Boat theme song.

"Please don't do that again," she said.

"Aye-aye," I said.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

At Bat
























I don't coach anymore. Not in the summer, at least. The kids are getting too good, the parents too competitive. I'm happy instead to be the team parent, buying socks and belts, sending emails, and creating spreadsheets.

My friend P., who I used to coached with, he's still at it. My youngest is playing for him again. There are two assistant coaches as well, both of them good baseball minds and good guys, and we've all had some fun teasing our own kids and cheering for the rest of the team.

The season began, as it always does, with a tournament named after a former local player, Scott Brainard. I'm told Scott was a hell of a ballplayer, and that he loved the game, and that he grew up and became a decent guy who got killed trying to break up a fight. His parents raised money to install scoreboards in his memory, and the league started the tournament to thank them, and now twenty-one years later his family comes to hand out trophies and remember their son, their brother. My kids know who Scott was and so do all the other players and parents and spectators who come to welcome a new year of baseball.

A couple of nights ago, we played a team from a neighboring community that always participates in the tournament. The other coach was a guy who Coach P. and I have known for years, we run into him in baseball and basketball. It was a close game, a couple of contested calls, but our guys won it for a chance to play for the championship.

Later, the other coach sent an email to Coach P. that said:
That was a nice game last night. I'm bummed (a little) that we didn't win, but your team won and showed great respect after the game. My son talked with one of your players after the game and they congratulated each other on their respective performances. It makes the game worth playing!
Coach P. responded.
I certainly agree. I saw a lot of true sportsmanship and that's what makes it worthwhile. I've really enjoyed coaching the last few years against your teams. You guys run a class organization. Good luck with the rest of the season.

I like to think Scott would be pleased.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Player

My friends and I were sitting on the retaining wall in center field of our local Little League ballpark when my youngest stomped to a halt in front of me. He'd gone straight from a game to a sleepover the previous night and was back at the park to watch his friends play. The circles under his eyes spoke to his exhaustion.

"Can I have some money?" he demanded.

"For what?" I asked.

"Mom's being a jerk."

"Are you going to use it to have her whacked?"

He rolled his eyes. "It's for concessions."

"No candy," I said.

"You're worse than mom," he snarled.

"Probably. No candy, though."

"How about a cheeseburger?"

"If you'll go away," I said, giving him a $10 bill. "Bring me some change."

"That's stupid," he said, stomping away. "I gave you change yesterday."

"You make me feel better about my own life," said one of my friends.

"We all have a role," I said.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Biker Chick

"Why is there a moped in the garage?" I asked.

"It's ours," said the Lovely Bride.

"What?"

"We talked about it," said the Lovely Bride.

"And I said, 'no.'"

"You bought an iPod."

"There's a reason the bumper stickers don't say, 'Start Seeing iPods.'"

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reeling In The Years

"Hey, it's great to see you," I said as she stepped off the elevator.

"It's great to see you too," W. replied.

We stood for a quick moment, awkwardly, unsure whether to hug or shake hands. It had been fifteen years or more since we'd seen each other. We shook hands.

"Show me around," she said and I did, a quick tour of my office.

"Where do you want to go for lunch?"

"Anywhere's fine," she said.

"Chinese?"

"Perfect."

We walked to my car.

"Pull a muscle?" I asked.

"Mmm," she said, limping a bit.

W. was my boss a long time ago, at a big company, an MBA who was being groomed for a race to the top. Smart, driven, and a lovely person. After I left the company we stayed in touch until we didn't.

"I'm glad you found me," I said at lunch.

"The internet's a wonderful thing," she said.

We talked about our families, our children. We'd both had toddlers when we'd last seen each other. Now we're scouting colleges.

"You're looking for a job?" I finally asked.

"I got one yesterday," she said.

"That's great. Congratulations. What are you going to be doing?"

"I'll be an analyst," she said. "For the company we used to work for. Doing pretty much what I did when we worked together. That's me, clawing my way down the corporate ladder."

"Are you happy?"

"Yes," she said. "I am."

"You like the job?"

"It's fine," she said. "I like spending time with my husband, my kids. My son skis, you know, he's very good. I hope he goes to my alma mater. I loved it there."

"Family's important," I said.

"It is," she said. "I worked really hard for a while. Then I had kids, and then I found out I had MS, and then I couldn't work as much."

"Oh, Christ," I said. "I'm sorry."

"So it goes," she said, shrugging.

"Vonnegut," I said, and she smiled.

We talked some more, about our families, and friends we used to share until time peeled them away.

Back at my office, I parked and offered my arm as she stepped over a curb.

She shook her head. "I like to pretend I'm independent," she said.

"It's been great to see you," I said.

"You too," she said.

We hugged.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Galloping Gourmet

"Can I go to Mexico this summer?" asked my middle son.

"Leave me alone, I'm busy," I told him.

"Seriously," he said.

"Yes, seriously, I'm busy. I'm working."

""Why didn't you finish it at the office?"

"Because I had too much to do," I said.

"Where'd you go for lunch?" he sneered.

"That's not the point," I said.

"What did you have?"

"Hủ Tiếu Mì."

"What does that mean?"

"It means 'delicious.'"

"So you weren't working."

"Knock it off," I said. "You sound like your mother."

"Anyway, can I go to Mexico?" he repeated.

"Don't be stupid."

"You're stupid," he said.

"This whole conversation is stupid," I said.

"Does that mean I can go?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" I asked, finally turning to look at him.

"My friend S. is going and his mom said I could come too if it's okay with you and mom."

"How much does it cost?"

"I don't know," he said. "You'd only have to pay for the plane ticket."

"Plus a passport," I said. "Unless I sneak you over the border late at night. You probably wouldn't make it back, then. That would be very sad."

"Be quiet."

"I love you, buddy."

"So can I?" he asked, again.

"You're going to Mexico, your older brother's going to Australia and New Zealand, and where am I going? Nowhere. That's where I always am, right?"

"Dad, you're getting agitated. Besides, you're going somewhere."

"Where?"

"Little Rock."

"For three days. For a conference."

"You can go out to eat."

"Where?" I demanded.

"I bet they have good barbecue," he said.

"You're probably right," I said, turning back to my computer and typing in 'restaurant' and 'little rock.'"

"I thought you had work to do," said the boy.

"I'm doing it," I said.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Road Rage

Why would this make someone think of me?

It must be the mustache.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Flying Blind

"Do you want an earlier flight or a later one?" my assistant asked.

I shrugged. "An earlier one, I guess. What time does that get me back?"

"Saturday night, about 7:40."

"7:40? Why so late?"

"You have to change planes in Chicago."

"What if I take the later flight?"

"Then you have to change planes in Dallas."

"I hate changing planes," I said.

"Why?"

"Because it means I have to take off and land again."

"So?"

"I hate that part of flying."

"Do you like the rest of it?"

"No, I hate that too."

"Why?"

"Because I don't want to die. At least not that way."

"The odds of a plane crash are so small it's not worth thinking about," she told me.

"Thank you, Little Miss Actuary."

"Seriously, why be afraid of something that unlikely to hurt you?"

"You were afraid of my lunch at the Chinese restaurant," I said.

"You ordered jellyfish," she said.

"I know," I said. "It was delicious."

"I wasn't afraid, I was repulsed," she said.

"Well, I'm repulsed by plane crashes," I replied.

She thought about my reasoning for a minute and then gave up.

"Anyway, you big baby, do you want the early or later flight?"

"Which one is T. on?" I asked. T.'s my colleague.

"He doesn't care," she said.

"Put us on the same one," I said.

"I can't."

"How come?"

"It's an organizational policy."

"What is?"

"You two can't be on the same plane."

"Why not?"

"In case it crashes."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Family Time

My sister-in-law and her daughter were in town this weekend.

"You guys need to stick around," I told our kids before our guests arrived.

"Why?" demanded the middle child.

"Because, for reasons I can't begin to understand, your aunt loves you and wants to spend time with you."

"I like her more than I like you," said the youngest.

"You should," I said. "She's much nicer than I am."

The Lovely Bride muttered something under her breath.

"What, sweetie?" I asked.

"Never mind," she said. "I'm trying to be a better person."

"You should try that," my oldest told me.

"Let me explain to you the concept of environmental causation," I said.

"Mom, if we have to stay here this weekend, can we make him go somewhere else?" asked the middle boy.

"With my sister coming, we'd better not," said the Lovely Bride. "It would start too many rumors."

Of course, when push came to shove, the boys didn't actually spend the whole weekend at our house. The oldest had tennis and work, the youngest went to a basketball game with a friend, and the middle one went off to play basketball.

"What's your dad doing?" one of his friends asked my son as I drove them to the gym.

"Why do you ask?" I interjected cheerily.

"We're going really slow," he said.

"Right," I replied even more cheerily. "I want to see how long it takes to drive a whole block without stepping on the gas. It's a great way to check your idle."

"Please die," my son recommended.

"Heidely ho, neighbor!" I shouted to a stranger working in his yard. He waved tentatively as we rolled past at three miles per hour. The kids slumped down in their seats.

Eventually we made it to the gym, and then home for dinner, and then Saturday night watching my middle kid play soccer, our opportunity to spend time together as an extended family.

"I bet I'll be the only black person in there," said my niece as we walked into the arena.

"I have the same problem," I said. "Lots of places I'm the only cool person."

My niece laughed.

"Really, die," said my middle son.

At home, after the game, eating ice cream, I asked my niece, "Where do you want to go to college?"

"I like astronomy," she said.

"New Mexico? California? Dubuque?"

"Hawaii's got a good telescope," the Lovely Bride added.

"Uncle Snag's oldest is looking at a school in Boston," said my sister-in-law.

My niece looked at her. "I'm supposed to go out east so I can do cousin stuff with him?"

"Don't be rude," said her mother.

"I'm being realistic," she said.

"She is," said my oldest.

"Fine," said my sister-in-law. "Do your laundry with strangers."

The next morning my mother stopped by.

"How lovely to see you again," she told my niece.

"It's nice to see you too," my niece replied.

"She's crazy," I whispered to my niece. "Humor her. She goes back to the home soon."

"Be quiet," said my mother.

"Careful, Grandma's prone to violence," I continued. "She shot me when I was a kid."

"How has your visit been?" my mother asked my niece.

"Interesting," said my niece.

"Yes," said my mother. "It's always interesting at your uncle's house."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Makes It All Worthwhile

Dear Snag,

Thank you for arranging to provide free tickets to a major league game for the Little League coaches. I requested tickets for July 3, which will be my daughter's first birthday. I figured she wouldn't know it's her birthday so I could go to a game. I guess I don’t know my wife as well as I thought. Can you please give me tickets for a different night?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cheers!

"So, do we ask for a reduction in the management fee or do we move some of our money elsewhere?" my colleague asked.

"Not a penny for tribute!" I declared.

"What does that mean?"

"I'm not sure. But it sounds good. Fifty-four forty or fight!"

"Okay," he said. "That doesn't really help me, though."

"How long have we been working with them?"

"Twenty-five years, give or take."

"Are they decent people?"

"They're fund managers."

"Point taken," I said. "How much would we save by consolidating?"

He told me.

"That's a lot of whiskey," I said.

"I know," he replied.

"Thinking about it that way puts a new light on things, doesn't it?"

"Yes it does," he said, gathering his papers.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Save Me

"What's on?" I asked my middle kid. He was in the Lovely Bride's and my room watching TV.

"Nothing you'd understand," he said.

"Oooh, college basketball," I said.

"Like I told you, nothing you'd understand."

"Did that guy just hit a home run?"

"Shut up," he snarled.

I plopped down next to him on the bed.

"Go away," he said.

"I love you, buddy," I said.

"Seriously, go away, Chubs," said the boy, using the endearing nickname he bestowed on me after reading an article about American obesity.

"Keep me wet until you can get me back in the ocean," I moaned, rolling back and forth and making whale noises. I whacked him with my arm.

"What are you doing?" he demanded.

"Hitting you with my fluke," I said.

He put his head down. "God, I'm going to need a lot of therapy someday," he said.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Soccer Lessons

"I feel sorry for the soccer teams that have to face me," crowed our middle son from the back seat.

"No self-esteem problems in our family," muttered the Lovely Bride, who was sitting up front, next to me.

"Seriously," the boy continued. "They should give the other team a two goal handicap when I'm playing."

"Good lord, be quiet," I said.

"No, think about it," he said. "I'm dominant on offense and unbeatable as goalie."

The middle boy wasn't always a goalie. By temperament and training, he's a forward, or less frequently, a midfielder. On the few occasions when he plays defense, he inexorably drifts toward the opponent's goal, like a salmon heading upriver to spawn.

He still doesn't play much goalie. Our primary keeper's a little injury prone, however, and the kids who've been pressed into back up service don't much like it. So, imagine my delight when the boy's coach called and offered me an opportunity to spend more money on soccer.

"You're kidding, right?" I asked him. "He'll be the first goalie in history to be called offside."

"No, he'll do a good job. He's nice and aggressive."

"So was Napoleon and he ended up on Elba," I countered.

The coach didn't say anything, although I heard him sigh quietly. He's known me for a long time.

"I wish I lived on an island," I mused. "Far away. By myself."

He sighed again, a little more loudly this time.

"How much does it cost?" I asked.

He told me.

"I guess it's worth it to get him away from me for a couple extra hours a week," I said.

Which is how he came to play goalie the other night, finishing with a 5-0 shutout.

It didn't hurt that the other team was clearly outmatched by our guys. The first half was particularly painful, as the opposing goalie made save after save, only to find another barrage of shots coming his way. After allowing a second goal, he slammed the ball down, kicked it viciously, and slumped down on the field with his head in his hands. When a few of his teammates tried to console him, he waved them away, sitting on the field until the referee started to head in his direction.

"That was obnoxious," said one of our team's parents as play resumed.

"I don't know why his coach is letting him sulk," said another. "He should have pulled him as soon as he started acting that way."

"If my kid acted like that, I'd kill him," I added self-righteously.

On the way off the field, I found myself next to a woman I took to be the mother of the other team's goalie. Having suffered through any number of irritating parents this last basketball season, I've resolved to be a better person. It's fair to say that's a work in progress. Still, one way I'm trying to improve is by saying something nice about an opposing player after every game.

"Was that your son at goalie?" I asked her.

"Yes, why?"

"Tell him good job. That was a tough game and he made a lot of impressive stops."

She stopped and looked at me. "Thank you," she said.

"My pleasure," I said. "It was fun to watch him play."

"We weren't sure whether to bring him tonight," she said. "His grandmother died yesterday. My mother."

"I'm sorry," I said.

"He loved her so much," she continued. "He's very upset. He wanted to be with his friends. We thought it might help."

"I'm sorry," I said again.

"Thank you for your kind words," she said. "It's been a hard day."

"I'm sorry," I said, again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

That Didn't Take Long

Scene: An email exchange between W. (department communications director) and me.

Me: Don't forget we have a site visit for that initiative in the morning.

W.: Can you drive?

Me: Sure. I hope you enjoy road rage.

W.: Really? You're so calm at work.

Me: That's because I was hired to be a pain sponge. I absorb all the frustration and conflict and unhappiness floating around the office so that people can focus on doing their jobs. Then I wring myself out when I'm driving.

W.: Is that healthy?

Me: I doubt it. I try to separate my driving persona from the rest of my life, though. It works, except when the neighbor's dog starts telling me to do bad things.

W.: Speaking of alter-egos, you need one for this project. How about Savage Chicken Badass Dr. Snag?

Me: I'm more like a sulky grouse.

W.: Love the image.

Me: Wait until I wear that costume tomorrow.

W.: I'll come as the owly owl.

Me: Give a hoot, maintain adequate property/casualty coverage.

W.: Leave me alone. You are a black hole of time-stealing ridiculosity.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things I Wish I'd Done - Part 1

I'm way late to the party, but holy crap, this whole thing is brilliant. Go ahead, mock me for my tardiness.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Define Victory

And another year of basketball draws to a close.

The middle kid's been done for a couple of weeks now, having played on one of the school teams. It wasn't always pretty, but he's one of a handful of kids in his grade who can say they've played high school ball and I credit him for working hard enough to do that.

The youngest had his last games today. His team had a decent season, playing in the highest division and finishing around .500 for the year. It's been a steady trajectory of improvement too, much less painful now than it was last fall.

Still and all, it was warm and sunny today. I saw my kids play something like seventy-two basketball games since November and with tennis and soccer and baseball seasons swinging into view, I won't miss sitting in high school gyms every weekend.

This was a nice way to end, though. Our average-to-middling group of kids beat one team, then another, then another, and all of a sudden they were unexpectedly playing for the state championship and the coach was telling them, "You've earned this, now go out and have some fun."

Storybook endings are great and I wish I had another one. This afternoon, we were ahead, then behind, and then we lost. There were some long faces and a few tears, but it helped when the parents and the other team clapped for our guys when trophies were handed out and by the time the Lovely Bride and the kid and I got home it was time to get ready for baseball practice and basketball was already fading into the past.

"You know, I was never in a state championship game," I told the boy as we were driving to baseball.

My son looked at me with absolutely no surprise in his face. "So?" he finally asked.

"Nothing, I guess," I said. "Did you have fun this year?"

"Yeah."

"Me too," I said. "Thanks for letting me watch you play."

"Sure," he said.

"You're a good man," I told him.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sacred Text

Scene: I'm in meeting. Text message arrives.

Youngest child: Im getting a buzz cut.

Me: WHAT?

Youngest: I got my head buzzed dont worry [my 12-year-old] friend did it its fine.

Me: Stop lying.

Youngest: Serious! We r going to c a movie.

Me: You didn't really shave your head did you?

Youngest: Ya. Y r u so mad?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Greetings, Comrade!

From a letter to the editor in today's paper.

One last thing as a point of interest, it's been said by some that [Snag's employer] is an arm of the Communist Party. Be careful. . . .

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cinéma Vérité

"You're having a sleepover at G.'s house?" asked the Lovely Bride.

"No," I said. "I'm going there for dinner. He's making shepherd's pie."

"But you're sleeping there."

"We'll have a few bourbons and watch a couple of movies. Play Call of Duty or something."

"And then you're going to sleep there."

"You don't want me driving after that. He lives forty miles away."

"So it is a sleepover."

"That makes it sound weird."

"It is weird."

"You're being hurtful," I whined.

"I'm not going to come get you if you're homesick," she said.

"I wouldn't worry about that," I said.

She raised an eyebrow. "Really? Nothing to miss here?"

"I was talking about the kids," I said.

"Hmmm," she said.

"You could come too," I improvised. "G.'s wife would like the company."

"She doesn't enjoy drinking bourbon and playing video games with you two? That's odd."

"I know."

"I'll pass," she said. "Do the kids need to be anywhere while you're gone?"

"The oldest can drive himself. The youngest is going to a college baseball game but he's getting a ride from one of the neighbors. The middle kid will probably be getting a ride from the police."

"Better him than you, I suppose," said the Lovely Bride.

"You don't want me coming home in a meat wagon, do you?"

"Were you watching 'Tommy Boy' again?" she asked.

"Why?"

"Because every time you watch it you go on about meat wagons for weeks afterward."

"It's funny."

"It's stupid."

"They're not mutually exclusive."

"Go have your sleepover," she said. "At least I won't have to watch your awful movies."

"Give me some sugar, baby," I said.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Home Sweet Home

"If I ever need to be placed in a nursing home, I'd like it to be the one your grandmother was in at the end of her life."

"What are you talking about?" I asked my mother.

"Where I'd like to live if I ever need that sort of care," she said.

"We can't afford fancy nursing homes," I said. "We'll put you in a tent out back."

"Ignore him," said the Lovely Bride.

"I always do," said my mother. "He's being especially silly now. He knows very well I have a long term care policy."

"He doesn't like being talked about as though he's not in the room," I noted. "In any event, if I run the nursing home, the policy pays me. Ergo, the tent."

"Ergo, nothing," said my mother.

"We don't have a choice. It's simple ergonomics," I said.

She closed her eyes for a moment before turning to my oldest. "Do you have your passport?" she asked him. She's sending him to Australia and New Zealand this summer.

"I applied for it yesterday," he said.

"Have you received a full itinerary yet?" she asked.

"It's a gastrotour," I offered. "He's going to be sampling the local cuisine. Mutton. Koala. Peanut butter and jellyfish."

My mother closed her eyes again.

"I need a passport too," said the middle son. "One of my friends said I could go to Mexico with him in June."

"You don't need a passport if you're not coming back," I told him. "I think your friends are going to sell you to drug lords to finance the trip."

"Be quiet," said the Lovely Bride. "Why do you say things like that?"

"And why did you call Mrs. K. a b-i-t-c-h this morning?" my youngest asked.

The Lovely Bride turned on me like a mongoose. "What?" she demanded.

"You're a good little speller, buddy," I told the boy.

My mother's eyes were still closed. She took a deep breath.

"Mrs. K. is one of the nicest people we know," said the Lovely Bride. "What did you do?"

"Dad sent her a text message from Mrs. P.'s phone that said, 'Why are you being such a b-i-t-c-h?'" the youngest helpfully explained.

I patted him on the head a little harder than necessary and said, "Go watch the Olympics for a while."

"What were you thinking?" asked the Lovely Bride.

"It was Mrs. P.'s fault," I said.

"How?"

"She let my friend E. and me borrow her phone."

"How is that her fault?"

"She knows what we're like. Even her husband said it's her fault."

"Her husband's no better than you and E.," said the Lovely Bride.

"I know," I said. "He's hilarious."

"Does Mrs. K. know who really sent it?"

"Yeah," I said. "Mrs. P. told her and ruined the joke."

"Jokes are supposed to be funny," said my mother.

"I laughed," I said.

"That's because there's something wrong with you," said my mother.

"Careful," I said. "Tents can get pretty cold in the winter."

"Don't worry," the Lovely Bride told my mother. "Mrs. K.'s a therapist. She knows how to deal with him."

"A therapist," my mother replied. "Thank goodness he has one."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Birds Of A Feather

"I'm going to Florida next week," said my best friend R.

"What are you doing there?" I asked.

"Shooting a commercial."

"Why Florida?"

"Spring training. Our baseball team's manager is in it."

"Nice."

"I'm sure it will be cold and rainy. Plus, the manager will probably get drunk and hit on me."

"That would be hilarious."

"I'm the account executive," said R. "I'd have to put out."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Not A Prayer

"That's why they call it faith," the Lovely Bride was saying as I walked in the door.

"That's why I call it stupid," said my middle son.

Nothing like coming home to a conversation about religion.

"What's three times twelve?" blurted out my youngest. We all turned to look at him.

"Never mind," he said. "I remember."

"Are you serious?" asked my oldest. "That's your math homework?"

"Just a little bit of it," said the youngest, somewhat defensively.

"What else do you have to do?" I asked. "Count to fifteen without removing your socks?"

His brothers laughed. Not the Lovely Bride.

"Stop it," she warned me.

"Come on," I said. "This is advanced math?"

"It's part of a bigger problem," said the youngest.

"Oh, just like you," I said.

His brothers laughed again.

"You two are the rest of the problem," I told them.

"Don't you have somewhere to go?" the middle boy asked me.

"Someone told me to go to hell today," I said. "So here I am."

"You told us he had to work longer hours at his new job," the oldest said to the Lovely Bride.

"That's what I thought," she said wistfully.

"I love you, you love me, we're a happy family," I sang.

"He's not really our father, is he?" the middle boy asked his mother.

"Oh ye of little faith," I said.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chewing It Over

"I'm trying to get my daughter to stop chewing with her mouth open," said my new colleague. "I hate it when people do that. It's disgusting."

Sitting across the table from her at the coffee shop, I panicked. Had I kept my mouth closed while I was working on the cream cheese Danish I'd just finished? Probably not; I'd worked myself into a lather while telling her a story about large animal vets, using half the pastry as a stand in for a goat. Chewing with my mouth open might be the least of my problems.

Z. was was telling me now about the department she runs. I was thinking about the way I ate.

"Which is why I'm glad we're having this conversation," she concluded.

I forced myself back into the present and smiled weakly at her, hoping she'd give me a clue what she was talking about. She looked back quizzically.

"Right," I finally said.

"You understand my concern?" she asked.

"Sure," I said.

"So how do you think we should approach the situation?" she asked.

"Quietly and well-camouflaged," I said.

"What?"

"Sorry. That was a joke," I said.

"Oh," she said. "Like the story about the goat."

"Right," I said.

"So what do you think we should do about the situation?" she repeated.

"I think it makes sense to get together regularly and discuss it," I said in the hope of buying enough time to figure out what the situation was. "Keep an eye on things, see how they're going."

"Good," she said. "I was hoping you'd say that. Every month or so?"

I could easily die in the next month. "Sure," I said. "Do you want to meet here again?"

"No, back in the office is fine," she said.

"I'll bring doughnuts," I said.

"No, please, just coffee is fine," she said.

I knew it, I thought.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Look Out Any Window

The view out my other window is better.






Monday, February 1, 2010

First Day Jitters

When I got to my new job today, my assistant was waiting for me.

"Here's your office," she said, pointing to a cube with my name on it.

"This is mine," she continued, pointing to an office door with her name on it.

"Okay," I said. "As long as I have enough floor space to spread out my files, I'll be fine."

"I'm just kidding," she said. "Your office is in here. I've set up your computer for you."

























We're going to get along just fine.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Is This How Twitter Works?

Start new job tomorrow. Have to get up early and wear suit. No bourbon tonight. What was I thinking?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pay Now Or Pay Later

Around 3 a.m. yesterday morning I woke. My face was numb.

I wonder if I'm having a stroke?

Downstairs, the water softener kicked in. I lifted my head.

Strange, I thought. I don't feel quite right.

The Lovely Bride turned over.

It's probably nothing.

I went back to sleep.

"Why didn't you wake me up?" the Lovely Bride asked when I told her the story.

"I was afraid you'd call for help," I said.

Monday, January 25, 2010

AAAAARGH!!

God: "Hey, Moses, want to see something funny?"

Moses: "Sure."

God: "Check this out. I'm going to put an extra guy in the huddle."

Moses: "Hilarious!"

God: "Then Favre's going to throw an interception."

Moses: "Stop, you're killing me."

God: "Now. Watch Snag."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Light Blogging Ahead

I'm starting a new job in a couple of weeks so it's going to be slow going on the posts and the comments for a while. I'm thinking of y'all, though.

This is more interesting than me anyway.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We Believe These Truths

"Let me understand this," my friend said four years ago. "People walked into a voting booth, knew their ballots were secret, and you still got elected?"

"Yeah," I sad. "Pretty much."

"Democracy's an amazing thing," he said.

Which, at least from the perspective of someone who didn't seek reelection, it is.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Nature/Nurture

"I'm going to Norway," my mother said.

"You just got back from the Third World," I said.

"I was in Belgium."

"That's what I said."

"You're making less sense than usual," she said. "Norway's a lovely country."

"What are you going to do there? It's a socialist hellhole."

"It is neither socialist nor a hellhole," she said. "Besides, I want to see the fjords."

"Why don't you go to Michigan instead?" I suggested. "It's cheaper and you can visit Ford headquarters."

My mother closed her eyes for a moment before turning to my oldest son.

"How are you coming along with the plans for your trip to Australia?" she asked him.

"Fine," he said.

"Is your father helping?"

"What do you think?" he asked.

"Well, I am sorry about that," she said. "I did my best to raise him properly but it doesn't seem to have worked."

"It's not your fault, Grandma," said the boy. "He's a horrible parent and I've turned out okay."

"That's true," she mused.

"I love them both so much," I told our dog Lucy, who responded by gnawing on my arm.

My youngest skipped into the kitchen and waved to his grandmother. "But if he's been murdered by crystal meth tweakers, well then we're hmmm out of luck," he sang as he skipped back out. She watched him go, a puzzled expression on her face.

"He's pretty much ruined my brothers," the oldest told her.

"'Ruined' is a strong word," she said.