Friday, May 18, 2018

No Tomatoes, Please

I don't like tomatoes. Never have, never will.

So, when I go to a burger joint and say, "No tomatoes, please," what I mean is that I don't want tomatoes on my hamburger cheeseburger. If I wanted tomato on my cheeseburger, I would not have said, "No tomatoes, please." It seems pretty simple.

And yet, there have been many times when I have been served my cheeseburger and I look under the hood and find those horrible, terrible, pink-ish, red-ish circles of disgust!

When I said "no tomatoes" what I meant was "NO TOMATOES!!!"

As a kid my Mom would always say, "You like ketchup, don't you?"

"Yes, Mom."

"And you like tomato sauce on pizza and spaghetti, don't you?"

"Yes, Mom."

Yes, but it's not the same thing! There is a big difference between the taste and texture of a tomato and the taste and texture of pizza sauce. (Or spaghetti sauce. Or ketchup.) (Or catsup, for that matter.) It's like saying you like peanut butter, but you don't like peanuts. That's okay. They are two different foods with two different tastes and two different textures. It's okay to like one but not the other.

But, it's more than just tomatoes. (If it stopped at tomatoes, The Wife would be very, very happy!)

Actually, when I order a cheeseburger I'll say, "No tomatoes or onions, please." I don't want onions on my cheeseburger.

"But you like onion rings, don't you?" Oh, just stop it! Yes, I like onion rings. And I like grilled onions on my patty melt. You see, I like cooked onions. In fact, I love cooked onions! But, I can't stand raw onions on my cheeseburger. Raw onions taste different. A raw onion can overpower everything around it, including the cheeseburger I'm trying to enjoy. (There is a reason raw onions make people cry!)

Of course, you can't talk about food that overpowers all the flavors around it without bringing up my arch-enemy: the green pepper! This is where The Wife and I have the most difference of opinion. She loves green peppers. Me? I loathe, hate and despise green peppers! With a passion!

For years I've had people who like green peppers on pizza tell me, "If you don't like them, just pick them off." That's nice, in theory. However, in practice, if you pick a green pepper off of the pizza, do you know what you have? You've got a pizza that still tastes like green pepper! It's impossible to "pick the green pepper off" because they are so horrible and insidious that they leave their smell and taste wherever they have been. (In that regard, they're like certain stinky truck drivers that I used to have to work with.)(Believe me, sometimes the smell never comes out of a chair.)

I don't like them, but at least they are better than their stinky green cousins.

But wait, there's more.

I don't like ice in my drink. There are many reasons for this, the main ones being:

1) I'm a guzzler, not a sipper.
2) Because I'm a guzzler, I don't need ice to keep the drink cold. (It'll be gone in just a few seconds.)
C) The added ice waters down my drink. (I ordered a root beer, not a root beer and water.)
D) I don't want ice slamming down into my face when I try to get the last of my drink.

The Wife can put some ice in a cup, put some drink in it, and sip on it for a day and a half. Not me. If I'm going to have a drink I want to have that drink. I'm going to drink that drink. If I don't have that drink dranked dranken droke drank drunk finished within five minutes, I must not have been very thirsty.

Putting ice in my drink means that I have to drink it with a straw (it's hard to guzzle with a straw) and/or I'm going to be straining the ice with my teeth, and I'll be left with a bunch of ice at the bottom of the cup when I'm finishing up. (Besides, all those plastic straws are bad for the environment.)

Hey, there's still some root beer hiding down there in that ice!

do not want that big bunch of ice, whether it be cubed, crushed or in some other weird form, to come shooting down the cup into my face when I tip the cup up to get the last of my drink! (And, dagnabbit, I am going to drink the last of my drink!) There's nothing quite like that wall of ice slamming into your nose while you try to get that last drop of beverage.

Here come the avalanche of ice to smash into my nose! (And yes, there's still root beer hiding in that ice!)

I'm sure everyone has some foods they want left off of their order. If you've got any that I didn't cover, I'd like to hear about them. (Unless it's bacon. I don't want to hear about anyone leaving bacon off of anything on purpose.)

So, hold the green peppers, please! (And if you are holding the green peppers, you'll want to wash your hands really good, because that smell with stay with you.)

Edited from a post originally published on 6/5/2015.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

May School Daze

It's May! Everyone loves May, right? It's spring time! The weather is getting better, the flowers are in bloom, the grass is turning green, and the world is full of new life and new excitement!

But, for school teachers May isn't fresh, new, and full of life. For school teachers May is like those last three or four miles of a marathon. They're tired, they're struggling, and they're just hoping they can make it to the finish line.

For most teachers, the month of May starts with standardized testing. All teachers love standardized tests. (That's sarcasm, y'all.) Teachers spend hours, days, weeks, and sometimes even months getting their students ready for standardized tests. (I haven't taken a standardized test for a while. Are they still multiple guess, separate answer sheet, fill the circle in completely with no stray marks type of tests? I hope they've gotten better, but I'm not holding my breath.)

It's those "all of the above" or "none of the above" questions that I really don't like!

Once the standardized tests are finished, both students and teachers know that the school year is, for all intents and purposes, over. (Or is that "for all intensive porpoises?") It's hard for the students to have any motivation to do any more school work, and most teachers find it difficult to keep students engaged when those students lack motivation.

That's why May is jam-packed with keep-the-kids-busy activities. There are class parties. There are class field trips. There are school assemblies. There are school concerts. There are school plays. There are school jaunts to the amusement park. There are in-class movies. (I would venture to bet that school classes see more movies in May than in all the other months of the year combined.)

Do I blame the teachers? Heck no! I'm just a parent, and I'm worn out and ready for the school year to be over. I can't imagine what it must be like for the people who have to wrangle hundreds of stir crazy students with spring fever.

So, just like with runners at the end of a marathon, if you see a teacher in May, give them some encouragement. Cheer them on. Buy them a soda. (Preferably one with caffeine.) Thank them. Tell them they're doing great. Do everything you can to help them get across that finish line. Because they need all the help they can get.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Mom Speaks!

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but I think we've finally had some success with my Mom. (Yes, in this analogy, I am equating the "old dog" with my Mom.) (No, I don't think she'll like that.)

For years, whenever Mom would talk about Walmart she would add an unnecessary "s" at the end of "Walmart." She would say things like, "I'm going to the Walmarts to get some tube socks." Or, "I found the cutest outfit at the Walmarts." Or, "Did you hear about the shooting over at the Walmarts?"

My brother and I, in our endless need to tease and torment my Mom, would then say, "Oh, really? You're going to more than one Walmart?" We've been hounding her constantly about this for years. Then, suddenly, a while back she started saying it correctly. She would say things like, "I'm going to go get some barbecue sauce at the WalmarT." (She would emphasize the "t" to make sure we knew she was saying it right.)

We were amazed. Even at her advanced age (39-ish), she was able to learn something new! And so, with that, she never said anything ever again that we were able to tease her about.


My brother and I tormenting my Mom, as usual. (She's the short one in the middle.)

Once when she was visiting we went to Wendy's for lunch. I asked her what she wanted. She said, "McNuggets." I pointed out to her that, since we were at Wendy's, I didn't think she would be able to get "McNuggets." It took a while for it to dawn on her why she couldn't get "McNuggets" at Wendy's. But, that didn't stop her from referring to her chicken nuggets as "McNuggets" three more times during the course of our lunch.

As her son and official tormentor, I was obliged to point it out and mock her every time she said it. That's what a loving son does.

If there ever comes a time when she hasn't said anything mockable for a while (it's rare, but it does occasionally happen), we will ask her to say one of her old standbys. We will ask her what the largest city in Illinois is. (Her answer: "Chi-CARR-go.") Or what state Boston is in. (Her answer: "Mass-a-TOO-sets.") Or what is downstairs by the clothes dryer. (Her answer: "the war-shing machine.")

It's fun, it's easy, and if we didn't do it she'd wonder if we still loved her.

Unfortunately, from time to time, I've found myself on the wrong end of some mispronouncial mocking. Apparently, I have trouble with some words that begin with the letters "hu." In my voice, "humor" comes out as "yumor." "Huge" is "yuge." And the star of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Music and Lyrics is "You Grant."

Personally, I don't see much difference between a "human" and a "yuman," but The Wife most certainly does, and she delights in every opportunity she gets to mock me about it. I try to take it in stride. And then I try to find something that she says in an odd way so I can mock her back. But, the only thing I can find that she mispronounces is "sorry." It comes out as "soary," kind of like the way a Canadian would say it. (Hmm..., if I didn't know better, I might think she actually comes from Canada. Sure, she says she's from Utah, but that's just the sort of thing a shifty Canadian would say.)

Now that I think about it, maybe I'm being too hard on my Mom. Everyone makes mistakes, and maybe I shouldn't harp on hers so much. Maybe I should let her shop at however many Walmarts she wants. Maybe I'll let her get McNuggets at any restaurant she chooses, even ones in Chicarrgo or Massatoosets. Maybe I'll just say I'm soary and let her be. After all, she's only yuman.

Edited from a post originally published on 5/31/2012.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Diaper Change or Wrestling Match?

I've never really liked wrestling.

Back when I was in school, the thought of trying out for the wrestling team didn't even cross my mind. There were two main reasons for this: 1) I would see all the wrestlers walking around starving themselves, spitting constantly, and going to the bathroom frequently in order to get down to their wrestling weight. Me, I've always liked food and have never been very good at spitting, so the wrestling life wasn't tempting. And B) I was skinny, slow, and weak, a combination that would have seen me constantly pinned to the mat.

I didn't care for professional wrestling, either. I was able to discern at an early age that it was fake. (My "fake" radar wasn't always accurate, though. I thought Milli Vanilli were real.)

So, I made it through several decades of life without learning much about the ins and outs of wrestling. And then my fourth child came along. And suddenly I've found myself engaged in full-blown wrestling matches every time I go to change his diaper.

My son and I, wrestling during a diaper change. (I'm the one that's losing.)

I didn't have this problem with my first three children. Oh, there'd be an occasional wiggle to avoid the new diaper, but nothing like what I'm dealing with now. Thing 4 has a wide range of wrestling moves designed to keep me from easily changing his diaper.

He's got the "Knee Clench," which involves clenching his knees together so I can't get to the poop to wipe it off.

There's the "Leg Twist." When I'm holding him up by one leg in order to wipe the poop off, he'll twist his leg in an effort to get me to lose my grip on it so that his poop-covered bum will drop back down to the changing table, spreading the poop everywhere. (I'm not sure why he wants this to happen, but he definitely does.)

The "Leg Wrap" is a move where he wraps both of his legs around my arm and squeezes to immobilize it, much like what a python or an anaconda would do.

There's the "Disappearing Houdini." Just when I get the new diaper in position, he'll suddenly lurch in one direction or another in order to escape the incoming diaper. Sometimes he'll only reposition himself a couple of inches, but those inches can mean the difference between a diaper that covers his bum and a diaper-thong. (And there ain't no one that wants a diaper-thong!)

Those are just a few of the moves he has, and he keeps developing new ones. I look forward to when he's potty trained and I don't have to change his diaper anymore, but since he isn't even two years old yet, that's still just a faraway dream. In the meantime, I'll just have to work on a few takedowns of my own.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Seat Up vs. Seat Down: A Definitive Study of Toilet Seat Placement

It's happened to all of us.

You go to the bathroom to take care of some business, but when you get to the toilet you find that the seat is not in the position you wanted and/or expected it to be!

What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO???

Over the years a lot of male/female relationships have been torn asunder simply because of the placement of the toilet seat. It needn't be that way.

I thought it was time to do a definitive study of the situation, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each of the possible toilet seat positions to see if we can come to a consensus as to the absolute best placement of the toilet seat.

For the purposes of this study, I'm going to assume that men pee while standing, and that women pee while sitting. (Neither is always the case, but I'm going to play the percentages.) Also, when referring to the processes of going to the bathroom, I am going to use the words "pee" and "poop" instead of more technical terms, mostly because I think "pee" and "poop" are funny.

Position #1: Lid Up, Seat Up
POSITION #1: Lid Up, Seat Up:

Advantage for Men: Prime position for peeing in the potty.
Disadvantage for Men: Must lower the seat to poop.

Advantage for Women: Ummm…the joy of knowing they have left the toilet in the best possible position for their man. (Yes, I know that is quite a reach.)
Disadvantage for Women: Must lower the seat to pee and/or to poop. (We'll discuss this disadvantage in more detail later.)

General Advantages: It's a large water bowl for your dogs and/or cats! (Assuming that is something you might want.)
General Disadvantages: Dogs and cats can lick your toilet water. (Assuming this is something you might not want.) Flushes are noisier. Splatter from flushing might escape toilet onto surrounding surfaces and items. Things (combs, toothbrushes, deodorant, jewelry, etc.) might fall into toilet. Small and/or mischievous  children are more likely to play in the toilet water.

Position #2: Lid Up, Seat Down

POSITION #2: Lid Up, Seat Down:

Advantage for Men: Prime position for pooping. Makes their women happy.
Disadvantage for Men: Must raise seat to pee. (Of course, there are some men who view the seat down as an opportunity for target practice. They attempt to pee into the toilet without getting any on the seat. My advice to these men: DON'T! Numbers* show that 98.2% of all men who try to pee through the toilet seat end up getting some pee on it. So don't even try.) (*True, I just made up those numbers, but I'm 89.4% sure that they are fairly accurate.)

Advantage for Women: Prime position for pee and/or poop.
Disadvantage for Women: Worry that their man might pee on the seat.

General Advantages: Water bowl for larger dogs and cats with good balance. Good for a laugh if a cat with bad balance happens to fall in.
General Disadvantages: Pretty much the same as the General Disadvantages for Lid Up, Seat Up, except a little less. A little less noisier flush. A little less flush splatter. A little less likely to have things fall into the bowl. A little less likely kids play in the water. But all still possible.

Position #3: Lid Down, Seat Down

POSITION #3: Lid Down, Seat Down:

Advantage for Men: None.
Disadvantage for Men: Must raise lid to poop. Must raise lid and seat to pee.

Advantage for Women: None.
Disadvantage for Women: Must raise lid to pee and/or poop.

General Advantages: No animals drinking from toilet. No kids playing in toilet water. Quieter flush. No toilet flush splatter. Things won't fall into toilet. Toilet can be used as a chair, so you have a place to sit while you put on your shoes. Hides dirty toilet bowl from sight. Helps contain toilet bowl odors.

General Disadvantages: Must provide a separate water bowl for your dogs and/or cats. Slight chance there will be a surprise for you when you open the lid if the person before you didn't flush.

So there you have it, all of the advantages and disadvantages of the three possible toilet seat/lid configurations. 

And, after considering all of the data and weighing all of the options, I have reached a conclusion as to what the optimal position is for the toilet lid and seat! And, my conclusion is this:


It's really pretty simple, folks! If the toilet seat and lid aren't in the position you prefer, simply change it! It only takes two seconds to lower the seat or to raise the lid! This is not rocket science! All problems with toilet seat placement can be solved by following this simple piece of advice:


Of all the advantages and disadvantages listed above, the one that people are most vocal about and the one that causes the most problems is the disadvantage for women in Position #1: Lid Up, Seat Up. They complain that if they sit down without the seat up they end up sitting on the extremely cold porcelain edge of the toilet, and might actually fall down into the water. This would never be a problem if they would simply remember to LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAK!

I love my wife. There are many reasons why I love my wife. One of them is that we have never had an argument about the position of the toilet seat and/or lid. We are both intelligent enough to figure out that if the seat or lid are in a position we don't prefer, we can simply change it. My wife is wonderful!

That said, we have now generally gone to Position #3: Lid Down, Seat Down, as our usual configuration. We do this mostly because we want to avoid toilet flush splatter, and we would prefer our children and cat not play in the toilet water.

So, in conclusion, what is the best position for the toilet seat and/or lid? That's an individual choice. Each person needs to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each position and decide what is best for themselves. Just remember that in the long run IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER especially if you LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAK!!!

Edited from a post originally published on 7/21/14.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

My Daughter Thinks I'm an Idiot

Little children are supposed to think their parents know everything. Mom and Dad are smart! Mom and Dad are strong! Mom and Dad are capable of anything and know about everything! Mom and Dad are unfallible! (Or infallible. Whichever. It doesn't really matter because Mom and Dad are uncapable of making mistakes.)

At least that's how most little kids think.

My three year-old daughter, however, thinks I'm an idiot. How do I know this? Because my daughter thinks I have forgotten the recipe for cold cereal.

It's really pretty simple. At breakfast time I pour some cereal in a bowl for her. She then immediately starts shouting:
"Daddy, you have to put milk in it!"
"I need milk!"
"It needs milk in it!"
"Daddy, it needs milk, please!"

I think, maybe, that it needs some milk.


Perhaps you would like some milk with that?

Now, to be clear about this, I have never not given her milk with her cereal. There wasn't ever that one time when I forgot to get her milk for her cereal that she keeps flashing back to because it scarred her forever. She always gets milk with her cereal. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Even when she asks me to refill her bowl with a second helping of cereal and there's still some milk in there from the first helping---I always give her more milk, even if she doesn't need it.

And yet, she thinks I have somehow forgotten that when I pour her some cereal that I also need to get her some milk with it.

She really, really, really, really, really wants milk with her cereal.

(I hate to see what it's going to be like when she really, really, really, really wants her own cell phone in a few years.)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Warning: Immature Language

[Warning: This story contains mature language. Language so mature that it may cause junior high school boys to snicker uncontrollably.]

A while ago The Wife was making a new recipe that uses those Pillsbury-type rolls, you know, the ones that come in a cardboard can. (The "easy opening" cans that act like a demented, dough-filled jack-in-the-box when they finally.....POP open.) (Yes, I jump every time.) (And I say "Pillsbury-type" because we buy the store brand instead. They are cheaper, and I am nothing if not cheap.) The recipe involves flattening out the rolls, putting a couple of slices of pepperoni and some cheese in them, then rolling the dough back around the pepperoni to form a ball, so that you end up with a little roll stuffed with pizza.

The Wife started to call them "pizza balls," but then she stopped herself and said, "Oh, wait, I can't call them that." Why? Well, The Wife is a junior high math teacher, so she has a built-in instinct as to what she should not say because it will make junior high boys laugh inappropriately. Her instinct told her that "Pizza Balls" would fall into that category. So, she had to think of another name for them. I think she settled on either "Pizza Rounds" or "Pizza Rolls."

(Should I be offended that, since no junior high boys were around, I was the reason she felt she couldn't call them "Pizza Balls?" No. After all, I still laugh every time I hear the name "Winnie the Pooh." I'm not exactly the model of maturity.)

That got me thinking about what other simple words or phrases she has to avoid for fear of inapproriate giggling. So, I asked The Wife and her mother (The Mother-In-Law was a high school English teacher for many, many years) what other words they needed to be careful with. And then I gleaned some of my own memories as a snickering junior high boy, and I came up with this list of words and phrases that might make immature schoolboys laugh, chuckle, or guffaw for no apparent reason. (Of course, this list is far from comprehensive, because sometimes junior high boys can find innuendo in the most innocuous of words.) (Probably even the word "innocuous.")

* pee--Urine, like most bodily functions, is very humorous. And, if you say it twice in a row (pee-pee), even the junior high girls will think it is funny.

* P--The Wife says she can't even use the letter "P" as a variable in a math equation. (You know, stuff like: 4a + 3c = P) That's how funny pee (or P) (or pee-pee) is.

* thong--Back in my day (which admittedly was a long, long time ago in a land far, far away,) a thong was a kind of slip-on shoe, like a flip-flop or a sandal, which stayed on your foot  because of a little strap that came down between your big toe and the toe next to it. (The index toe?) The word "thong" used to be quite tame, butt but then a certain style of skimpy underwear and swimsuit became more and more popular. If you say the word "thong" today, junior high boys will immediately think of butt cheeks. And they will giggle.


* balls--I know I mentioned this earlier. I just thought I'd point out that "Pizza Balls" does sound like a nickname some unfortunate kid might get while in junior high.

* nuts--Very similar to the usage of "balls." (Although, now that I am writing this, I don't think I'll think of a squirrel "gathering his nuts" in quite the same way ever again.)

* #1 and/or #2--The numbers 1 or 2 by themselves will not bring about snickers. It's when you combine them with the actual word "number" that the laughter ensues. (As in "number one" or "number two.")(Yes, bodily functions are hilarious.)

* __?__--I was going to put a word here, but since I try to keep this a family-friendly humor column, it just didn't look right, even though it is a common word. The word has several meanings, including pulling the hammer back on a gun, raising an eyebrow or turning your head in a particular manner, or even a male bird of any kind, particularly a rooster. But, I would suggest you avoid using it around teenage boys. (And don't even think about saying something "warms the cockles of your heart.")

* pianist--It's probably better for everyone if you just say "piano player" instead.

* tool--Once, on an episode of Castle, the female police officer pulled her gun on a guy who was using a grinder to try to break through a safe. She told the guy, "take your hand off your tool." The male cops who were with her started to snicker. (So did I.) I then asked The Wife if her junior high boys would laugh at that, too. She said the 9th grade boys probably would, but most of the 7th grade boys wouldn't get it.

* wiener--If you say "wiener" instead of "hot dog" at this point in time, you're pretty much just asking for trouble. ("Beanie-weenies" are pretty dangerous, too.) (In more ways than one.) (Yes, that was a fart joke.)

So, there you have it. Like I said, this list is far from complete, because, in the right frame of mind, junior high boys can turn just about anything into some sort of innuendo. (Especially words like "innuendo.")

And now that I'm done writing this, I think I'll go make me some Pizza Balls! (Mmm.....Pizza Balls!)

Edited from a post originally published on10/23/2012.