Friday, May 29, 2015

I'm Stoned (Again)

I've heard it said that passing a kidney stone is about the same as giving birth to a child. I don't believe that. It's not even close.

Over the years, The Wife has given birth to three wonderful, beautiful children. Over the years, I have passed enough kidney stones to make a veritable gravel pit. Believe me, the children are much more attractive than the stones.

Aside from that, if you took all of the kidney stones that I've passed (and there are quite a few of them) and added them together into one giant stone, it still wouldn't be as big as even one hand of any of the babies The Wife has had.

Add to that the fact that I've never walked around with kidney stone pain for nine months before passing one, and it's not even close.

So, the next time you hear someone say that passing a kidney stone is the same as giving birth, tell them they have no idea what they are talking about. (I was going to say to slap them upside the head, but decided that I shouldn't be promoting violence.)

Also, there is no truth to the rumor that kidney beans are made of kidney stones. (As far as I know.)

Why do I bring this subject up, you ask? Because I'm stoned. Again.

A couple of days ago I woke up at four-something in the morning thinking that my back hurt. It only took a minute or so for me to realize, "Hey, that's no ordinary back pain, that's kidney stone back pain!" I was not happy.

Of course, the first time I had a kidney stone, I had no idea there was a difference between regular back pain and kidney stone back pain. I was single and living in an apartment by myself. I came home from work one Friday afternoon, and my back was hurting. I didn't think too much of it, and went to bed. I didn't sleep very well.

I got up on Saturday and my back was still hurting. I took a soak in a hot bath. That helped, for a while. Then, the back pain came back, so I took a second soak in the tub. That helped, but not as much. As the day went on, I ended up taking four or five baths, each one bringing a little less relief from the pain.

I tried to go to sleep that night, but couldn't. I wandered down to the 24 hour grocery store and bought some Doan's Back Pain pills. Why Doan's? I remembered as a kid seeing their ads, which featured a man with his hands on his back, in obvious pain, as flames shot out of the spot on his back that was hurting. I thought, "Hey, that's just how I feel!" Unfortunately, the pills didn't help, they just made me feel a camaraderie with the guy on the pill box.

I woke up (from not sleeping) on Sunday morning and I was even more miserable than the day before. I didn't know what to do. Finally, I decided that I needed help, so I called The Saint. (The Saint is what I will be calling my sister-in-law. Why "The Saint?" Because not only was she there to help me when I needed it, she was also saintly enough to actually marry my crazy brother.)

The problem was, by the time I decided to call The Saint, she and my brother were already at church for the day. To this day I'm not sure how I had the mental acuity to do it, but I ended up calling the church building they were at and asking whoever it was that answered the phone if they could find my sister-in-law. Amazingly, this worked and soon I was talking with The Saint.

I told her my symptoms and she immediately said, "Sounds like kidney stones to me." She left the church post-haste and drove across the valley to take care of me.

And that's not the only time The Saint came to my rescue. A few years later I had a particularly bad day at work: my truck broke down and I had kidney stone pain. The Saint saved me that day, too. (My boss wasn't very happy that I left my truck in the parking lot where it broke down, but by the time I took some of the pain pills The Saint brought me, I was in no condition to drive.)

So, now I'm stuck with the kidney stone pain again. One of the big differences between then and now is that since my job is writing instead of driving truck, I can actually still work while under the influence of the pain pills. (There's no guarantee that what I write will make sense, but I can still write.) (I don't think anyone is going to get hurt by me using parenthesis too often.) (There's no law against it.) (That I know of.) (Of course, I could be wrong.) (But I'm probably not.) (I think.)

All I know is that it doesn't matter how loopy I am from the pain pills, I will never compare passing a kidney stone to giving birth! (Because my kids are a lot cuter than kidney stones!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I've Got To Go Potty...Now!

Kids say a lot of things. (Sometimes they even say the darndest things.) A lot of what they say is nonsense. They'll say things like "What if my school was made of chocolate?" Or they'll go on and on about the latest episode of Dora. Or they'll tell you why their imaginary friend is afraid of spiders. Sometimes it's easy to ignore what they are saying.

But, there is one thing they say that you simply can't ignore: "I've got to go potty...Now!"

If you have ever attempted to potty train a kid, you know this is the Phrase of Power. It doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing, when you hear your kid say, "I've got to go potty...Now!" you immediately drop everything and race them to the nearest restroom. You could be in the middle of an important conversation with your boss, you could be watching the game and it's fourth and one with 23 seconds left, you could be in the middle of performing open heart surgery. It doesn't matter. You will drop what you are doing and get that kid to the nearest toilet!

One time, because our daughter uttered the Phrase of Power, we pulled off the freeway in a disreputable part of Las Vegas, searching for the nearest potty. Convenience store potties in Vegas are not fun. (I'm sure there are parts of Las Vegas that aren't disreputable. I just haven't seen them.)

It's amazing how fast an adult can move when they hear "I've got to go potty...Now!" I'm not a very quick person (if you don't believe me, just ask the guys I play basketball with.) In fact, I'm so slow I earned the nickname of "Slow Joe." However, when we were potty training, if my kid uttered the Phrase of Power I could get him from the living room to the toilet in 2.4 seconds.

If I had a dollar for every time I've asked, "Where do we pee and poop, in our pants or in the potty?" I could probably retire to some tropical island. 

One of the problems with power, though, is that people tend to misuse it. Kids are smart. After they've seen you drop everything a few times, they begin to realize the power of the Phrase of Power. They'll start saying "I've got to go potty...Now!" to get out of things they don't want to do, or just to make you jump.

Once, during the height of potty training, The Boy used the Phrase of Power four times during a one hour church meeting. And you know, because he was at the most crucial stage of potty training, it didn't matter. I would have taken him out of church ten times to go potty if it meant there would be no pee or poop in his pants and we could finally bring that potty train into the station.

It wasn't just church, though. Whenever we went to any new store or restaurant, The Boy would use the Phrase of Power because he seemingly was on a quest to visit every restroom in North America, just to see what they looked like.

Eventually, as they get more and more potty trained, the Phrase of Power loses some of its power. After he was mostly potty trained, whenever he said, "I've got to go potty…Now!" we would weigh the circumstances: how long ago was his last potty break; does it look like he's trying to get out of something; is he just wanting to see what this new restroom looks like, etc. And sometimes we would say, "No, you have to wait." Of course, this is based on a case by case judgement. And, before you know it, you can say "No" almost every time.

Unfortunately, the kid still has one card left to play. The Poop Card. The conversation will go something like this:

KID: "I've got to go potty…Now!"
PARENT: "No, you just went 10 minutes ago. You can hold it."
KID: "I've got to go potty…Now! [slight pause] Poop!"
PARENT: [Knows he's been beaten.] "Fine, let's go."

The Poop Card trumps almost everything. You might take your chances with a kid peeing his pants, but no one, and I mean NO ONE wants to have to deal with a kid who is no longer in diapers and has pooped their pants at church, at the Walmart, or at Arby's.

It's practically impossible to ignore "I've got to poop…Now!" especially if the kid accompanies the words with the grimacing "I'm doing all I can to hold back this poop, but it still might come out at any moment" face. At that point you know the kid isn't faking, or they're a great actor, but either way you have to race the kid to the nearest bathroom and hope to high heaven they can make it.

As bad as the Poop Card is, though, there is still one thing that is worse: actual poop. Because that conversation ends up being:

KID: "Dad, I just pooped in my pants."
PARENT: "Honey, where's the hose?"

(And then you have to decide if the pants are worth cleaning and saving, or if you're better off just throwing them away.)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sanitized For Your Protection

This spring we got our two bigger kids a set of bunk beds. They love sharing a room (for now) and they really like the bunk beds.

In doing so, we moved The Boy (now five years old) up from a smaller bed to a twin-size mattress. And that meant we needed to get a waterproof mattress cover to go over the mattress, but under the sheets. These things are pretty much a necessity for young children (and some older ones, too.)  So, we purchased a "SafeRest Premium Mattress Protector," to protect our mattress.

Here's the picture on the package:

That's one happy family!

Ah, the whole family is happily in the bed together! This happens occasionally in our family, but not often. Usually when the kids are in the bed with us it is on a weekend morning when The Wife and I can actually still be in bed, attempting to sleep in. Of course, kids know the adults can sleep in on the weekends, which is why they get up extra early on those days. Conversely, when the kids need to get up early in the morning, good luck trying to wake them up. (It's one of the most basic rules in the kid/adult relationship.)

Aside from the perfect family, the thing that most stands out about this picture is the list of threats across the bottom of the package. Fluids! Dust Mites! Bacteria! 

I'm frightened, aren't you?

Let's take a closer look at these threats, starting with the Dust Mites!

Beware the Dust Mites, my son! (And shun the frumious Bandersnatch!)

Take a look at that Dust Mite. He's pretty scary, isn't he? He looks kind of like a spider. Or perhaps a mean potato with big, hairy claws. Either way, you don't want that thing in the bed with you. And that's just one Dust Mite! Imagine how bad it would be if there were dozens or hundreds of them! If only I had a mattress protector.

Bacteria is bad. Lots and lots of bacteria is lots and lots of bad.

Then there is the Bacteria. I'm not sure if it looks like long, green pills; or short, green worms; or weirdly shaped green poop. Whatever it is, I don't want green worm poop pills in bed with me! If only I had a mattress protector.

Don't spill wine on your bed!

Then there are the Fluids. While the other two threats came with pictures as scary as they could possibly make them, the picture for the Fluids threat is about the least scary thing they could think of. A glass of wine. Really? How often do you have a glass of wine in bed? How often do you spill a glass of wine in bed?

Of course, the most common fluid that a mattress has to worry about, especially the mattress of a five year old boy, is pee. So, I don't think I blame them for having a picture of a spilled glass of wine represent all of the Fluids. Because I'm not sure how you would go about having a picture on your package that represents pee. A baby with a full diaper? A little boy with his legs crossed trying to hold it in? A dog with one leg raised? I don't really know. I make fun of it, but I'm hard pressed to find a better answer than the spilled glass of wine.

So, we purchased the mattress cover and put it on the bed. Little did I know a few weeks later I would find out how well it works.

One morning, I sat on The Boy's bed. I was sitting there for a few seconds when I noticed the sensation that my bum was getting wet. I stood up and felt my bum.* It was wet. I looked down at the bed. It was wet, too. [*I believe this is the first time I have ever used the sentence "I stood up and felt my bum." Hopefully it will be the last time, too.]

I'm not sure what had happened. (I probably shouldn't have allowed The Boy to take that glass of wine to bed with him.) Anyway, I took the blanket off of the bed. It was very wet. I took the sheet off of the bed. It was very wet. I took the mattress cover/protector off of the bed. It was very wet. I felt the mattress beneath where the wet spot had been. It was dry! The mattress protector did its job!

It worked so well, in fact, that now I'm thinking about getting a few hundred of the mattress protectors and covering the whole house with them. Imagine the entire house free from dust mites, bacteria and urine! Heck, they might even keep out salesmen. (They're worse than dust mites, you know.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

10 Simple Rules All Kids Should Know (But You'll Probably Have to Tell them Anyway)

There are some things that every adult knows, and every kid should know. We forget, though, that kids are young and don't have a lot of life experience. So, it turns out we actually do have to tell them these things.

The simplest of rules, such as:

1. Don't pick your nose.
And if you do have to do some excavating up in there, make sure you have a tissue.

2. Don't pick anyone else's nose.
It doesn't matter if you have a tissue or not, just don't do it! Exception: If you are a parent and the nose we are talking about belongs to one of your kids. If so, dig away! (But only as needed.)

3. Don't eat boogers!
I don't want to know what it tastes like. I don't care what it tastes like. No one wants to see it. Keep those boogers out of your mouth!
Disclaimer: No boogers were eaten during the taking of this photograph. 

4. If it's not food, don't put it in your mouth.
This applies to fingers, thumbs, pencils, pens, toys, blankets, any and all parts of the cat, and, most importantly of all, boogers!

5. You have to put your socks on before you put on your shoes.
They say there's an exception to every rule. I'm having a hard time finding one here.

6. Don't put on your shoes before you put on your pants.
I came across this just the other day. The Boy (my five year old) was getting ready for church, sitting on the floor of his room in his underwear, socks, and shoes, trying to figure out how to get on his pants. He wasn't having much luck.

7. You have to take your socks off before getting in the tub.
If you don't, your socks will get wet. And your feet won't get clean.

8. Don't pee in the tub.
This rule is mainly for when the kid is taking a bath. When The Boy was little it was about as regular as clockwork: I would put The Boy in the tub, then there would be a little fountain. (When she gets a little older his big sister will be appalled to learn that, because her turn in the bath was after his, she almost always bathed in special "little brother"water.)

Of course, this rule also applies for when someone is not taking a bath. Just because all forms of liquid can go down the drain doesn't mean they should go down the drain.

There is a difference between a tub and a toilet!

9. Don't poop in the tub.
Obviously, this rule goes hand in hand with Rule #8. (And The Girl needn't worry. If this rule was broken, we would stop and drain the water. And clean the tub. Poop is more serious than pee.)

10. Don't drink the tub water.
Tub water is warm. Tub water is soapy. And, because Rule #8 wasn't always observed, tub water could be contaminated with urine. And yet for kids, it is very enticing to take a glug or two of the tub water. I have never understood this.

And, special extra bonus rule: Don't keep your boogers as souvenirs!
No one wants to see your booger collection! No one!!!

Friday, May 15, 2015

I'm Frozen Over (But Not Yet Over "Frozen")

The Walt Disney Company has released a lot of movies over the years. Some good, some bad. Some memorable, some forgettable. And some inescapable.

On November 27, 2013, Walt Disney released a little animated movie called Frozen. At the time, I had no idea how much it would dominate my life.

Frozen: Perhaps you've heard of it?
It started out innocently enough. We thought we'd take the kids to a movie over Christmas break. Frozen had been out for a few weeks, and it had received mostly good reviews. And since The Wolf of Wall Street and Anchorman 2 didn't seem very appropriate for children, we chose to take our kids to Frozen.

The kids seemed to enjoy the movie. The Girl (who was 5 years old at the time) liked the songs and all the princessy stuff, and The Boy (who was 3 year old) liked the snowman and the reindeer. But, they didn't seem to like it significantly more than other movies we had watched with them in the previous few months, like Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University. They seemed to like Frozen about the same as they liked all kid movies.

It wasn't until Spring of 2014 that it started to take over our lives. The Girl and The Boy both have birthdays in the spring, and so for their birthdays one of them got the soundtrack to Despicable Me and the other got the soundtrack to Frozen. Both cds got put into the six-cd stereo in the mini-van. It was immediately clear which of the two soundtracks they preferred.

Over the course of the next several months the soundtrack of Frozen was played through the speakers of the min-van stereo dozens, or possibly hundreds, or possibly thousands, or possibly millions of times. Almost any time we went anywhere we listened to Frozen. And it wasn't just the main soundtrack, either. We also listened to Disc 2 of the soundtrack, which featured songs that were written for the movie but didn't make the cut. (Featuring the comedic stylings of Nils Norberg.)

The stereo in the mini-van playing "Frozen Heart" for the  1,000,017th time.
It was during this time that the songs became ingrained in my head. I couldn't go anywhere without thinking about finishing "each other's sandwiches," or being a "happy snowman."

I found the songs seeping into my everyday conversation. The song "Do You Want To Build a Snowman" became a musical template for any time I asked almost any question. I would sing, "Do you want to have some ice cream?" or "Do you want to put your shoes on?" or "Do you want to go to Costco?" or "Do you want to watch The Good Wife?" of "Do you want to cut your toenails?" or, one time at work when a truck driver offered to sell me some questionable oysters I spent the whole evening singing, "Do you want to buy some oysters?" [For more on the night a truck driver tried to sell me questionable oysters out of the back of his truck, see: Do You Want to Buy Some Oysters?]

That's not the only song that took over my brain, though. When playing basketball, and the ball was going out of bounds off of someone from the opposing team, I would find myself singing to my teammates, "Let it go, let it go!"

And then there's the song "Reindeers are Better Than People." I find myself singing it whenever I compare two different things. Like, "French toast is better than pancakes," or "Fry sauce is better than ketchup," or "Tacos are better than Corn Flakes," or "Vikings are better than Cowboys."

I find myself wishing I had "10,000 salad plates" and that I could talk to "actual, real live people."

Yes, the songs from the Frozen soundtrack have pummeled themselves deep inside my brain. But, it didn't stop there.

Later in the summer, we bought a new car. (A used car, new to us.) It was a white Ford Taurus. I have a habit of giving names to my cars, so I was trying to think of a good name for this new car. Since a Taurus is a bull, I was thinking to name the car after someone from the Chicago Bulls. But, since I am a fan of the Utah Jazz, I was having a hard time thinking of a Chicago Bull I would want to name my car after. I was leaning toward naming the car "Sloan," after former Jazz coach and Bull player Jerry Sloan. The Wife wasn't particularly fond of that name, so she asked the kids what we should name the car. Since the car is white, they immediately decided to name it "Olaf," after the snowman from Frozen. Of course, that is the name that stuck. (Which is probably for the best, because Olaf is a much better name for a car than Sloan.)

Olaf the kite, leaning against Olaf the car.
And then I thought it was winding down. As the year turned into fall, the requests to listen to Frozen in the van became less frequent. (Only four times a week instead of ten times a week.) I really thought that the Frozen fascination would continue to wane until it got to the point where I might actually go a whole day without hearing the names "Elsa," "Anna," "Olaf," or "Sven."

I was wrong.

I forgot about Christmas. I forgot about Christmas and the Walt Disney Mighty Merchandising Machine!

For Christmas 2013 the movie was brand new, and they had no idea how BIG of a hit it was going to be. So, yes, they had some Frozen merchandise to sell, but on a relatively small scale. But by the time Christmas of 2014 rolled around, they had had a full year to produce, promote and propagate any and every possible Frozen product you could think of, and even some you couldn't!

When I hear the term "frozen underwear," I think of someone out in blizzard conditions whose underwear has literally frozen. Nope. Our kids got Frozen underwear. Frozen socks. Frozen shoes. Frozen shirts. Frozen bicycle helmets. Frozen pillow cases. Frozen pajamas. Frozen toothpaste. Frozen toothbrushes. Frozen vegetables! (Okay, so I made that last one up. For now. It wouldn't surprise me if Disney scientists are working on creating Elsa-shaped asparagus as we speak!)

Frozen shirts!

Another Frozen shirt! (I decided not to take pictures of my kids' Frozen underwear.)

Our main gift as a family for Christmas was a karaoke machine. Of course, the first karaoke cd we got to play in the machine was the Frozen soundtrack karaoke sing-along-athon!!! (Weren't all those months of singing along to the soundtrack in the mini-van enough? Apparently not.)

Please, sing along with songs you've already heard 1,000,019 times!

And, if that wasn't enough, we also have the Frozen sheet music, so we can play-along as well as sing-along!
Eventually we made it through our Frozen Christmas. So we were finally finished, right? Wrong! The Walt Disney Mighty Merchandising Machine was just getting started! For their birthdays in the spring the kids got Frozen sheets, and Frozen wall stickers, and Frozen drinking cups, and Frozen napkins, and Frozen paper plates, and Frozen jumper cables. (Okay, I made up that last one again. For now.)

Sheets, pillow case, wall stickers, stuffed toys, etc….

Drink not from the Frozen cup.

And it's not over yet. I'm sure more is still coming. Just the other day in the store I saw some Frozen yogurt. It was a bit confusing, though, because the Frozen yogurt wasn't actually frozen yogurt. It was just regular yogurt with characters from the movie Frozen on the packaging. Although, if I had checked the ice cream section I might have come across some Frozen frozen yogurt as well. (Or would that be frozen Frozen yogurt? It's all very confusing.)

Also available: Frozen soup. Although it is not frozen soup, just Frozen soup. (I think.)
(And if you heat up Frozen soup, is it still Frozen?)

It also wouldn't surprise me to see Disney buy Lambeau Field in Green Bay where the Packers play. It's been referred to as the "frozen tundra" for decades, why not put Elsa and Anna on the sidelines and make it the "Frozen tundra?"

The kids are even finding Frozen things where Frozen doesn't exist. A while back I was listening to a minor hit from the 1980s called "On a Carousel" by a group called Glass Moon. (It was a remake of a 60's song by The Hollies.) The kids liked the song, but as they sang along they changed the lyrics from "On a Carousel" to "Anna Carousel," and then eventually to "Elsa Carousel." Even songs from the 80s (or 60s) aren't safe from the Frozen phenomenon!

[And, just to be clear, my daughter is very particular on how to pronounce the name of the character "Anna" from the movie. If I try to pronounce it with a soft "a" sound, like "Ann-uh," I will be immediately and harshly corrected. It is pronounced "On-uh" or "Ah-nuh." Any time I try to pronounce it "Ann-uh" I get the frozen glare of death. (Which, thankfully, is not quite the same as the Frozen glare of death!)]

My fear is that this is just the beginning. I'm afraid that the Walt Disney Mighty Merchandising Machine is just getting started. It may not be long before every single product ever invented will have the likeness of Elsa or Anna or Olaf on it. Soon enough, it just might reach the breaking point.

My advice to the fine folks at Disney? You've done enough. You've made enough. It's time to give it a rest. Just let it go.

Let it go.

(At least until the sequel comes out.)

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Size DOES Matter!

We've all heard the saying "size doesn't matter." Well, I completely disagree.

Especially when we're talking about hand towels.

We've all had it happen. You go to the bathroom, wash your hands, then dry your hands on the hand towel. Everything's fine. Until the next time you have to go to the bathroom. Once again you take care of your business, and then you wash your hands. But this time, when you go to dry your hands on the hand towel you find that the hand towel is still damp from the last time you dried your hands on it. It's hard to get your hands dry using a towel that's already wet.

Or, worse yet, you haven't been to the bathroom for hours, but it just so happens you have to go fifteen minutes after Uncle Stinky has gone. ("Uncle Stinky" is not his real name. But it probably should be.) You wash your hands and reach for the hand towel, but it is moist. Very moist indeed. You try to find a dry spot on the hand towel, but to no avail. And the worst part is, that's not your moistness on that towel. That's Uncle Stinky's moistness!

(Of course, if we're being honest here, the moistness level of the hand towel might be the least of your worries if you have to use the bathroom after Uncle Stinky. But that's a topic for another day.)

They call it a hand towel for a reason. It's barely big enough to dry your hand.

I understand the concept of the hand towel. It's just fine for drying your hands. Once. But, if you have to make several bathroom visits in a short amount of time (curse you, diarrhea!) or if you have multiple people using the same bathroom (and thus the same hand towel) in a short amount of time, the size of the hand towel really does matter.

Here's a standard size hand towel versus a standard size regular towel.
Yes, size does matter!

In my own bathroom, I've taken care of this problem. On my large towel rack I have two towels: 1) My very large bath towel; and B) My very large hand towel (which is the exact same size as my very large bath towel.) So, no matter how frequently I use my hand towel, I can always find a spot on it devoid of moistness so I can dry my hands with a dry towel.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work for all bathrooms, because most of the time hand towels have a wimpy little round towel-holder or towel rack too small to handle a large towel. If you try to put a regular size towel on one of these wimpy hand-towel holders, you'll get something like this:

The standard size towel on the wimpy hand-towel rack. The towel hangs down into the sink.

So, what is the solution? Well, it depends on the bathroom. But what I would do is have as many towel racks and towel hooks as possible in every bathroom, with a full-sized towel on every rack and hook.

Every towel you add increases the chances of finding one that's not damp.
Is it aesthetically pleasing? No. Is it practical? No. Does it look pretty stupid? Yes.

But sometimes you do whatever you can to avoid Uncle Stinky's Moistness!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Drive-Thru Creeper

I wasn't expecting a conversation at the first window.

It had been a hectic day, and I was rushing for lunch. I had planned on making a nice, healthy lunch for The Boy (my 5 year-old) and I. Probably some grilled salmon with asparagus and sliced pomegranate. (Or something.) Instead, our errands got out of hand and I found myself pulling up to the drive-thru ordering speaker of a local fast food establishment. (I don't want to shed a bad light on the place, so for the sake of anonymity I'll call it "McFastFood's.")

Most drive-thru conversations take place at the ordering speaker. And these aren't exactly "conversations," they're mostly recitations of familiar phrases like:
"Would you like any fries with that?"
"Can I super-size that for you?"
And, "Please pull forward to the first window."

I placed my order and was told to move ahead to the first window. (They didn't have grilled salmon, so I settled for a Filet o' Fish.) As I pulled around there was a car ahead of me at the first window. I waited my turn, then pulled up to the window.

I took out my credit card and reached it toward the window when the McFastFood's employee broke the unwritten rules of the Customer/Drive-thru Employee Interaction Contract: he said something that differed from the standard script.

As I reached my credit card toward him, he said, "Why is it that all the cute girls pay with a credit card?"

I was a bit befuddled. I was paying with a credit card. Did he think I was a cute girl? And if so, how offended should I be? Or how flattered should I be? (Because, if he thought I was a girl, at least he thought I was a cute girl.)

I wasn't sure how to respond, so I think I said something extremely insightful, like "Uhhh...."

He took my card to process it, then continued, "I wish they would pay with cash." I didn't respond, but I was a bit relieved. When he said "they" it meant that he wasn't lumping me in with the cute girls.

The conversation was pretty one-sided. He had something he wanted to say, and I was the one there for him to say it to. For my part, he had piqued my interest. I was a bit curious to see what exactly he was talking about.

As he processed my card, he went on. "When they pay with cash, I get to hold their hands a little bit when I give them their change. I just want the chance to hold a cute girl's hand. But I don't get to hold their hand when they pay with a credit card! I wish the cute girls didn't always pay with credit cards!"

Okay, that was a bit creepy.  It's like I was seeing a bad guy from an episode of Criminal Minds in his earliest stages: It started out with him holding hands with unwitting girls as he gave them change at the drive-thru, then before you knew it he was keeping girls locked up against their will in his shed out back.

I was just expecting to pay at the first window, not get a glimpse inside the mind of a serial killer.

Having finished telling me his woes, he handed me back my card. I felt like I should say something, so I shook my head and told him, "I don't know what to tell you, dude." (I don't often use the word "dude," but for some reason it seemed appropriate. For once, I was actually talking to someone who was more nerdy than me.)

I pulled forward to the second window, feeling fortunate to know that the Drive-Thru Creeper didn't have a hand in actually preparing my food.

Looking back now, I'm probably being a little hard on the Drive-Thru Creeper. He's probably just a lonely nerd who hasn't had much luck with the ladies. Believe me, I understand. Been there, done that.

But, there are better ways to meet women than grabbing at their hands while giving them change at the drive-thru window.

And as far as you cute girls are concerned, I'm not sure what to tell you. I'd say always pay with credit card so Drive-Thru Creeper can't fondle your hands when giving you change, but credit card fraud is always a danger, too. Maybe your best bet is to avoid the drive-thru altogether, stay home, and have some grilled salmon. (It's healthier, anyway.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Having Fun Just Got Serious!

I like to write.

I like to make people laugh. (Or giggle.) (Or snicker.) (Or smirk.) (Or smile.) (Or maybe just shake their head in disbelief.) I have a lot of fun writing. I really enjoy it.

For most of my adult life, whenever anyone has asked questions like "What would you like to do for a living?" or "What do you want to do with your life?" or "If you could do anything, what would it be?" my answer would be, "I'd like to be a writer." (Or a shooting guard for the Utah Jazz. But I think the ship has sailed on that one.)

Well, guess what? That time is now. I am now, officially a writer!

You might ask, what exactly does that mean? Well, you've heard the expression "don't quit your day job?" Too late. Because I just did quit my day job! (And I've got to tell you, it felt pretty darn good to quit my day job!)(Pretty scary, too.)

Let me explain 'zactly how this happened.

I'd been working at the same job for a little over eight years. My job consisted mostly of driving semi-trailers around a parking lot all day. I backed in and pulled out trailers to be loaded and/or unloaded at a large frozen food manufacturing/warehouse facility. It wasn't a very complicated job. It wasn't a very gratifying job. It wasn't even a very well-paying job. It was just a job.

It was a job with a pretty lousy work schedule. On the plus side, I only worked four ten-hour shifts a week. On the negative side, those four ten-hour shifts were at some horrendous times of the day. I would work two days a week from 4:00 AM until 2:00 PM, and I would work two other days from 4:00 PM until 2:00 AM.

Wrap your head around that for a minute:
          Two days a week: At work at 4:00 AM (alarm goes off at 2:35 AM!)
                                        Off work at 2:00 PM.
          Two other days a week: At work at 4:00 PM
                                                 Off work at 2:00 AM (get home and go to bed around 3:00 AM!)

Whenever people would learn my work schedule, they would always ask, "How do you work that schedule? When do you sleep?" It was a valid question. Mostly, I would sleep whenever I was awake. Or, when I was supposed to be awake. Any time I would sit in a chair there was a good chance I would doze off.

After eight years of that schedule, I was pretty much a walking zombie.

So, after a few particularly crappy nights at work, The Wife was tired of seeing my zombification, and she came to me with an idea. She proposed that I quit my job and try my hand at writing full time. (We have just enough money in savings to let us give this a try for a limited amount of time.)

I was shocked, surprised, and very excited by The Wife's idea. (The Wife is awesome and fantastic, by the way. She is the bestest!!!) It's definitely one of those, "It's kind of crazy, but it just might work" ideas.

So, here I am. A writer.
A very serious writer.

I've been posting on this blog, at for a few years now, writing about my life as a 40 year old virgin, and my life as a father of three. (And any other funny thing that might come to my slightly demented mind.) But, I've done so pretty sporadically. No more. I will now be posting a blog update twice a week, every Tuesday and every Friday. (I'm also going to be working on writing other things, including a book.)

If I'm doing my job right, you should like my writing. And if you like my writing, what I ask of you is to "like" my writing. "Share" it. Pass it on to others. I will be posting most everything I write at my Slow Joe 40 page on Facebook. The more likes and shares and followers that I can get, the less likely I'll have to go back to setting my alarm for 2:35 AM so I can drive trucks around a parking lot again.

I'm looking forward to this! This is going to be fun. Because having fun just got serious!!!