Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Follow-Ups

It's leap day! As is my custom every leap day (at least for the last three years), I will take this opportunity to follow up on a few columns from the past that need some updating.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the absurdities of the shampoo aisle at Walmart. (Here's the link: In it, I complained about the different flavors of the various shampoos, including absurdities like "Mandarin Mango," "Kiwi Lime Freeze," and "Olive, Avacodo, and Shea." What I failed to notice was a shampoo right in my very own home. A few days after writing that column, I looked at the shampoo I was using and saw that on the front of the bottle it stated it is, "Fresh: with refreshing menthol." Menthol? Menthol? Are you serious? Menthol? Am I shampooing my hair or smoking a cigarette? I've heard of beer in shampoo, but I've never heard of cigarettes in shampoo! That's redonculous!

A while back, I wrote a column about the trend advertisers have of "smashing" words together to make "new" words. (Here's the link: This includes "words" I despise, like Trucktober and Hotlanta. One of the worst offenders is Subway Sandwiches. I commented on my disdain for the "word" freshtastic. Well, of course, if you've been watching any television at all this past month, you know that today is the last day of the month Februany. So, you better get out there and get your five dollar sandwich today! If not, you'll feel craptastic.

Finally, a long time ago I wrote a story about losing my wedding ring. (Here's the link: In it, I told how I lost my wedding ring, and I figured that I lost it while at work. I thought the most likely place for it was in the garbage in the bathroom at work, because it had fallen off once before while I was drying my hands off and threw away the paper towels. So, I dug through the garbage that night only to find, not my ring, but a truck driver's underwear full of poop. I was not happy.

Well, I'm happy to report that about four months after this incident I actually found my ring! I had not lost it at work after all. It had somehow gotten under the couch in the living room. I found it when I moved the couch to vacuum under it. (Yes, I know, it's a wonder it didn't stay lost for several more months, because I don't move the couch very often.)

I'm also happy to report that no truck drivers at work have thrown their dirty underwear in the garbage. (At least not that I know of.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Am Tina Fey (Or Not)

It started when I bought myself a present for Mother’s Day. It was a book. I didn’t give it to myself. I gave it to my wife.

Word of advice: Don’t buy your wife something for Mother’s Day that you’re going to like more than she will. She’s smarter than you. She’ll know.

I wanted to read the book "Bossypants" by Tina Fey. So, I gave it to my wife for Mother’s Day. When she opened it, she did a passable job of looking excited. (She wasn’t.) A few days later she was reading the book in bed when something struck her as funny, and she read me a passage. It was then that she called me on it. She said, “You know, when I unwrapped this I thought, ‘Oh look, he bought something he wanted for himself and gave it to me.'” So, even though she ended up enjoying the book, the message was sent: you lucked out this time, but don’t pull that crap again, doofus boy!

So, this year my Mother’s Day shopping will be more difficult than it’s ever been before. I have to find her something that she will love, and that I will not like at all. So far, the only things I can think of that she loves and I hate are tomatoes and green peppers. I don’t think that’s going to cut it. I’m going to have to try a little harder.

I bring this up because when my wife finished "Bossypants," she said, “You know, she writes a lot like you do,” meaning my writing style and Tina Fey’s writing style are similar. I took this as a big compliment, as Ms. Fey-- Miss Fey-- Mz. Fey-- Mrs. Fey-- Tina (may I call you Tina?) is a highly trained professional comedy writer. After my wife finished the book, passed it to me, and I finally was able to read the book that I bought for myself but gave to my wife for Mother’s Day, I was flattered by my wife’s high regard for my writing, because Tina’s book was very, very funny. (Of course, my wife is delusional.) (After all, she did marry me.) When pressed to find the similarities in our writing, I guess I would say that Tina and I both try to be funny, use a lot of self-deprecation, and don’t take ourselves too seriously. (Except for this moment right here where I am semi-seriously comparing myself to Tina Fey.)

Note the similarities? It's like we're twins!
No, I am really NOT saying that I am anywhere nearly as comically gifted as Tina Fey. She has, after all, literally spent her entire adult life studying, practicing, and performing the art of “funny” as a writer, actor, and producer. I, on the other hand, have spent my adult life driving truck and watching reruns of Friends. (I especially like the episode where Jack and Chrissy have a misunderstanding and Mr. Roper threatens to kick them out of the apartment.)

Anyway, all of this got me thinking that maybe I should write a book like Tina Fey’s. (Except instead of about Tina Fey, my book would be about myself.) I was pretty excited about this idea, until I asked my wife a question: “Do you think anyone would read Tina Fey’s book if she wasn’t famous?” Without even a millisecond of hesitation my wife said, “No.” Thud. That knocked the wind right out of my sails. But, it was true. Hey, Tina’s book is funny whether you know who she is or not, but the truth is without the platform of her celebrity it wouldn’t have found the audience that it did, and it may even have been a struggle to get it published.

So, if I want to write a book and get it published, it would help tremendously if I were a celebrity. How to go about that? One of the quickest ways to become famous these days is “reality” television. The problem is I can’t sing, dance, juggle, cook, or design clothes. I know there are other “reality” shows for people with no discernable talent, but my name isn’t “Kardashian” or “Hilton” or “Trebek.” And, I don’t think I should hold my breath waiting for a casting call from something called “The Real House-Husbands of Utah County.”

If fame is out of the question, where does that leave me? How can I differentiate myself from the masses and find a point of interest that people might find entertaining? How am I different from everyone else? Actually, that’s pretty easy: My sex life. (Or lack thereof.) Yes, I was an actual 40 year old virgin! That puts me more than a couple of standard deviations away from the norm. I’m a definite outlier on the bell curve of life.

I don’t think there are a whole lot of actual 40 year old virgins who have written about their experiences, their lack of experiences, their bumbles, stumbles, struggles, and eventual triumphs. (I did, after all, eventually get married and have sex when I was 40.) (Forty years, six months, and ten days old, not that anyone was counting.)

So, for the regular readers of this blog (all six of you), in the coming weeks, along with my usual thoughts about being a dad, or finding humor in the mundane things of life, I will also regale you with stories from my singular days of singleness, with the eventual goal of collecting these things together for a book.

So I can be just like Tina Fey.

(Of course, none of this helps me figure out what to get my wife for Mother’s Day.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Love...

Back in 1973, country singer Tom T. Hall had a big hit with a song called "I Love." In it, he lists off a wide variety of stuff that he loves, such as "little baby ducks," "old pick-up trucks," "birds of the world," and "squirells," among other things.

So, since it is Valentine's Day, I thought I would steal-- oops, I mean borrow Tom T. Hall's idea and list off some of the things that I love.

I love that part at the end of a root beer float where all the ice cream is gone and all that's left is the melted ice cream/root beer mixture.

I love hearing Buzz say a new word for the first time.

I love when the biggest snow storms of the year happen to come on days that I don't have to be out driving in it.

I love when Roni makes up words to songs that only she knows. (She has about forty-seven different versions of "Yankee Doodle" that she has made up.)

I love macaroni and cheese with tuna fish in it, because it reminds me of my grandma. (The Wife hates the idea of it and the smell of it. I only make it when she is at work.)

I love that my lovely wife Amber puts up with me referring to her as "The Wife" in these columns. (She knows that I only do it for comedic effect.) (Or is it comedic affect?) (Also, I know if I called her "The Wife" in real life it would go over about as good as if I served her macaroni and cheese with tuna fish in it for her birthday dinner.)

I love the feeling of pulling down a rebound after a good box out of the guy from the other team.

I love having family and friends that are always there for me when I need them.

I love that slightly sore feeling after a good workout.

I love the last little sugary crumblings at the end of a box of cereal.

I love when one of my kids stands in front of me with a book in hand, wanting to climb on my lap and have me read to them. (Well, at least the first five times they do this in a day.)

I love "likes" and "comments" to things that I post on Facebook.

I love being at the stadium when someone from the home team has the ball and twenty yards of open field in front of them.

I love that moment at the theater when the slide show ends and the previews start.

I love playing word games with my wife. (Because together we are unstoppable!) (Almost.)

I love the smile on Buzz's face when I give him a banana for breakfast.

I love the smile on Roni's face when we go to story time at the library.

I love those rare instances when I know the correct "question" on Jeopardy before any of the contestants do.

I love setting the cruise control and not having to brake or adjust the cruise until I get to my destination.

I love when my wife hugs me.

I love those last 15 or 20 pages of a book, when everything seems to happen a little faster.

I love looking out my window and being able to see mountains.

I love that I grew up in a small town and can refer to people from places like Pocatello, Idaho or Orem, Utah as "city folk."

I love crisp, crunchy tater tots dipped in fry sauce. (Onion rings, too.)

I love when I can leave work fifteen minutes early.

I love belonging to a church filled with good people and a strong sense of community.

I love when my wife calls me as she is leaving work, and we are still on the phone when she walks through the door.

I love warm chocolate chip cookies.

I love cold chocolate chip cookies.

I love week-old chocolate chip cookies.

I love my beautiful daughter.

I love my handsome son.

I love my wonderful wife.

I love my incredible life.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The "Sham" and the "Poo" in Shampoo

I'm a guy. I'm not bald. (Yet.) And so, at least once a month, whether I need to or not, I wash my hair. This USED to be a fairly simple process: 1) go to the store; 2) buy some shampoo; 3) lather, rinse, repeat. (The only tricky part was knowing when to stop repeating all the lathering and rinsing.)

I say "used to" be simple because, well, have you been down the shampoo aisle lately? You have to be a chemist, florist, hair stylist, or fruit grower to understand what half the stuff they are selling is anymore!

The shampoo aisle contains both shampoo and conditioner. Apparently, hair needs to be "conditioned." Do I understand what this means? No. I can understand the concept behind shampoo. Hair is dirty; it needs to be cleaned. Hence, shampoo. "Conditioner?" I'm just not sure. But, I'm willing to concede the point that everyone needs conditioner so I don't come off sounding like a complete neanderthal or visigoth.

As I look at the shampoos and conditioners I realize that my first problem is I don't know what kind of hair I have. Every product is specifically designed for a certain kind of hair. There's stuff for "Fine Hair," "Dry Hair," "Curly or Wavy Hair," "Weak or Damaged Hair," "Fine to Flat Hair," "Dry or Frizzy Hair," and "Frizzy, Dry and Unmanageable Hair."

[I should point out here that everything in quotation marks was found on an actual bottle of shampoo or conditioner at Walmart.] (I wonder, can I write off that Walmart visit on my taxes?)(How about ALL of my visits to Walmart?)

I really don't know which, if any, of these categories my hair falls into. I scour the shelves for something normal, but the only thing I find is for "Normal/Thick." That's great, but what if my hair is Normal/Thin?

One company has product that wants to take your hair from one state to another, with labels that read "Flat to Volume," "Frizzy to Smooth," and "Dry to Moisturized." When I see the word "volume" I immediately think of the big-haired women circa 1962, with their beehives, buns and bouffants. This is not a look I want for myself.

"Frizzy to Smooth" confuses me a bit. I've known women with frizzy hair who wanted it to be smooth, but I've also known women with smooth, straight hair who would go to great lengths to make their hair frizzy. (Of course, it's possible I'm confusing frizzy and curly.)

And, as far as the "Dry to Moisturized" is concerned, I'm assuming dry is bad and moisturized is good. In fact, there are several other bottles promising to make your hair more (or possibly even the most) moist. There is "Nourishing Moisture," for when your hair hungers for moistness. "Luxurious Moisture," for when your hair wants to sip champagne and eat caviar. And "Moisture Renewal," for when the subscription runs out on you hair's moistness.

Some of the claims/promises on these bottles I can understand, and others make no sense at all to me. "Featherweight Conditioner" brings to mind the Farrah Fawcett feathered look that was popular when I was in junior high in 1979. (Yes, I'm THAT old!)

"Color Preserve Shine" reminds me of when I used to visit my Mom. The only shampoo she had in her shower said it was for hair that had been colored. The shampoo itself was a frightening shiny purple color. I was so afraid of what it might do to my normalish non-colored hair that I actually went to the drug store and splurged for some 99 cent trial size shampoo.

"Breakage Defense" sounds to me more like some kind of full court zone press that Duke's Coach K would call for during a time out than anything I would want to rub into my hair. (And while we're talking college basketball, when I see "Smooth Vitality" on a shampoo bottle, all I can think of is the shiny, bald, smooth head of analyst Dick Vitale.)

I'm not sure who would buy "Anti-Humidity" here in Utah. There IS no humidity here. It's the desert. It's a dry heat. (And speaking of dry heat, "Climate Protection" sounds more like the subject of an Al Gore speech than a shampoo/conditioner.)

The most confounding of these bottles claims to be "Hydralicious Self-Targeting Conditioner." I don't even know where to start with this one. First of all, "hydralicious" is not a word. I know, I looked it up. (When I went to it asked if I meant "hydraulics.") And then, what in the world does "Self-Targeting Conditioner" mean? I'm wondering if it wasn't something they came up with by throwing darts at random words, like a few years ago when they named that James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace."

Of course, picking what KIND of shampoo you want is only half of the battle. You then have to decide on the FLAVOR, too. Not content to just fix (and moisten) your dry, damaged, frizzy, fine, flat, and unmanageable hair, the shampoo people also want you to choose from a list of flavors that would make the Jamba Juice menu board jealous, and more colors than a Crayola Crayon box could contain. (And I'm talking about the jumbo 64-pack.)

Most of these are fruit flavors. But, they have to be a little extra complicated. It can't just be apple, it has to be "Juicy Green Apple." It can't just be strawberry, it has to be "Sun-Ripened Strawberry." It can't just be coconut, it has to be "Tropical Coconut," or "Hawaiian Coconut."

Cherry is especially popular. There is "Wild Cherry Blossom," "Cherry Explosion," (It's like a little cherry bomb going off in your hair!) and "Wild Cherry Twist and Jewel Orchid."

Other combination flavors include "Moroccan Rose & Passion Fruit," "Aloe and Water Lilly," and "Sweet Pea and Violet." Violet gets a flavor all its own, called "Wild Violet," while its more subdued cousin gets a flavor called "Calming Lavender."

I have no idea what "Passion Flower Sunrise" is. Although I must admit that "Refreshing Waterfall Mist" does sound...well, refreshing. Also refreshing? "Mango Mandarin" and "Kiwi Lime Freeze," both of which sound delicious.

I'm not sure what an oxidant is, but it must not be good for your hair, because anti-oxidant flavors are popular. There is "Ginseng Lemon Green Tea Anti-Oxidant" and "Anti-Oxidant Rich Pomegranate and Grapeseed Extract." Neither of these flavors sound very refreshing to me. Instead, they both sound like they might be sold at something called Doctor Throckmorton's All Star Traveling Medicine Wagon back at the turn of the last century. (That's 1900 I'm talking about.)

The most confounding flavor I came across was "Olive, Avacado and Shea." I'll admit I have no idea what shea is. To me, it's the stadium where the New York Mets played baseball up until a few years ago. Olives have a distinct fragrance, but I've never thought of it as something I'd want my hair to smell like. Meanwhile, avacado is the main ingredient in guacamole. Guacamole, of course, reminds me of any of several diapers I have changed in the last few years. So, "Olive, Avacado and Shea" makes me think of nachos at a baseball game and/or poopy diapers. So no, I won't be putting THAT in my hair.

So, where does that leave me in my quest for shampoo? Well, there's still one safe haven that seemingly hasn't changed since way back when I was a kid: Johnson's Baby Shampoo. It doesn't have a flavor, just a calm, soothing yellow color. And, it doesn't discriminate against hair types, it just simply promises "No More Tears." And I don't think any of us want to cry when we are shampooing our hair, especially with all that lathering, rinsing and repeating.