Friday, June 29, 2018

The Creepy Drive-Thru Dude

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 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? (Hey, 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.

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.

Ladies, I'm not sure what to tell you. If the #metoo movement has taught us anything, it's that there are a lot of creepy guys out there. I wish I could tell you which guys to avoid and which guys are okay, but I can't. I'm sorry.

And as far as you guys are concerned, let me give you a little piece of advice that would make life easier and better for everyone:

Please don't be so creepy!!!

Edited from a post originally published on 5/8/2015.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Aunt Took Me to My First R-Rated Movie

I grew up in a fairly conservative Mormon household. My parents weren't as strict as some (Coca-Cola and Pepsi occasionally found their way into our house), but there was no alcohol, no tobacco, and no coffee. I didn't even see any PG-13 rated movies until I was 18 years old! (Of course, that's because they didn't come out with the PG-13 rating until after I was 18 years old.)

I wasn't allowed to see R-rated movies. The "R" stands for "restricted," you know. And as long as I was living at home, I was restricted by my parents from seeing any R-rated movies.

That's why I was so surprised the night my aunt took me to my first R-rated movie.


It was a long time ago, and I don't remember all of the specifics about it. I just remember that my aunt (we'll call her Auntie R for the sake of anonymity) offered to take my brother and I out to see a movie. I was 14 years old at the time, and my brother was 18. The small town we lived in (Arimo, Idaho) was 30 miles away from the movie theaters of the "big city" of Pocatello, so it was always a pretty big deal when we were able to make the drive and see a movie.

I don't believe my brother and I knew which movie we were going to when we left home, and I'm sure if my parents had known it was rated R they wouldn't have let me go. But, we made our drive in to Pocatello, and the movie Auntie R chose for us to see was Stir Crazy, a comedy starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor about two guys who get framed for bank robbery and sent to prison. Yes, my aunt took me to an R-rated prison movie!

As we got to the theater I was a bit trepidatious. Here I was, a 14 year-old, and I was walking into an R-rated movie! Can you get arrested for that? Of course, my fears were unfounded, because: A) It says "requires accompanying parent or adult guardian," and Auntie R was definitely an adult; and 2) Lots of regular 14 year-olds went to R-rated movies by means of sneaking, lying about their age, or the general indifference of movie theater ticket salespeople. I didn't know that at the time, though. I thought I was living on the edge of lawlessness.

The movie was rated R because of, according to the IMDB parental guide "at least 6 F-words," and "several shots of breasts in one scene in a topless bar." The F-words didn't bother me much (I'd heard that word plenty around the junior high halls.) But, I definitely remember the topless bar scene. And I mostly remember it because of how unnecessary it was. The scene was some guys talking in a bar. It just so happened that it was a topless bar and there were naked women dancing behind the guys as they were talking. The dancers added absolutely nothing to the scene except, you know, their naked breasts.

I honestly can't remember if Auntie R covered my eyes, my brother covered my eyes, or if I covered my own eyes, but I know there was a bit of on-the-spot censorship that transpired during the topless bar scene of Stir Crazy.

In a recent conversation with Auntie R, I asked her if she remembered corrupting me by taking me to my first R-rated movie. She said she didn't recall it at all. She said she must have thought "R" stood for "Religious." (That's Auntie R's attempt at a joke.) She says she probably didn't even realize it was rated R--she just wanted to see a funny Gene Wilder movie. For those of you old enough to remember, Gene Wilder had quite a run of good, funny movies, like The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. For those of you too young to remember, you probably best know Gene Wilder as the Willy Wonka meme guy:

So, your aunt took you to an R-rated movie when you were 14. Tell me how that ruined your life.

My aunt took me to my first R-rated movie. In the end, it wasn't really that big of a deal. Of course, I don't think we ever told my parents about it. So, Mom, if you're reading this: I went to an R-rated movie when I was 14.

(I hope she doesn't ground me.)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Surprise: It's Bedtime!

Every night the kids go to bed. Every. Single. Night.

And yet, almost every night it seems to come as a surprise. "What??? Bed time??? You've got to be kidding me, right? Are you trying to tell me you actually expect me to go to bed? This is unheard of! I won't stand for this!"

Bed time for the kids at our house is 8:00 PM. The two older kids know this. If you were to ask them, "When is your bed time?" they would easily and quickly answer, "Eight o'clock." And yet, when bed times rolls around it is met with shock, surprise, and disdain, as if it were the Spanish Inquisition. (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!)

The first step in going to bed for the kids is putting on their pajamas. Once they get over the initial shock of bedtime, it's not much of a fight to get them to put on pajamas. (Why no fight? My theory is that everyone likes to put on comfy clothes, and what's more comfy than pajamas?)

Everything else, though, is back to being an utter shock and surprise.

Me: "Did you brush your teeth?"
Them: "What??? Brush my teeth? What are you talking about? I've never heard of this 'brush your teeth' that you speak of."
Me: "Every night. Every single night I tell you to brush your teeth. It really shouldn't be a surprise."
Them: "Well, okay, I'll brush my teeth. But it's really not fair when you give these last minute orders like this."

And then, after playing the surprise card, they dig in with the delay tactics:

"Wait. Can I have a drink?" 
"But, I have to go potty first." 
"Not yet. I have to find my stuffed bear." 
"Seriously. I really have to go to the bathroom."
"Can I read in bed for a while?"
"I have to go to the bathroom." (Me: "Didn't you just go?") "Yes, but I have to go, again!"

 They'll try just about anything to prolong the non-bed part of the evening just a little bit longer, up to and including going to the bathroom four times between 7:50 PM and 8:20 PM.

You might as well be sending them to jail.

But, eventually they do go to bed.

Of course "going to bed" does not necessarily mean the same thing as "going to sleep." But, that's okay. Usually the jabbering between the two after they've been sent to bed is of a happy, playful nature. And I don't mind that at all, as long as they stay in bed!

Finally, the chattering stops and they actually drop off to sleep. And the world rejoices.

And then, morning comes. And it starts all over again. "What??? Morning??? You've got to be kidding me, right? Are you trying to tell me you expect me to get out of bed? This is unheard of! I won't stand for this!"

Edited from a post originally published on 6/17/2016.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Kids Say Things (I Have No Answer)

When you're a parent, there are times when your kids say things that just make you shake your head. Things such as:

1. "Mermaids don't fart." My oldest daughter said this, very matter-of-factly, to her brother. She seemed very sure of herself. I'm not sure how or why she thinks she knows this, but in her mind it is an absolute certainty.

They may not fart, but man, oh, man can they burp!

2. "If I were to play for the Dallas Cowboys, would you still cheer for me?" My son asked me this once. It's a tough call, pitting my love for my son up against my hatred for the self-proclaimed "America's Team." The answer is that yes, obviously, of course, I would cheer for my son. I love him and I would want him to do well. (But I might not cheer for his team to win.)

3. "Daddy, I kissed my potty!" I'm not going to further incriminate my children by telling you which one of them said this. But, I will tell you that I had a very serious talk with this child about why we never, never, never, never, never, never, never, ever kiss the potty.

4. "There's so many poops I can't count them all!" Ah, this one made me proud. The child who said this had a) recently been potty trained, and B) was just learning how to count. So, this was a well-intentioned effort on both of those fronts. (Yes, we had a talk about why there is rarely a need to count how many poops are in the potty at any given time.)

5. "Do you have hair in your nose to cover up your boogers?" My three year-old daughter asked me this just the other day. I'm hoping it's because she has a fascination and curiosity with how the human body operates, and that this inquisitiveness will drive her to a career as a doctor. I'm not hoping that it's just because she has a fascination with boogers.

6. "If this were a Canadian restaurant, what would it look like?" I honestly had no idea how to answer this one. (Maybe the bacon would be a little more round?)

Friday, June 15, 2018

When Is Father's Day?

Every June we celebrate Father's Day, often with cards, gifts, or treats. (Hint: Donuts! Dad's really like donuts!)

But, the truth is any father worth his weight in salt (whatever that means) knows that the third Sunday in June isn't any more important than any other day. That's because every single day is worthy of celebrating when you're a dad. Every day is Father's Day.

Father's Day is that first day in the hospital, when the nurse wraps up your newborn baby and asks, "Do you want to hold the baby?" And you don't want to hold her, because she's so tiny and you're afraid you might drop her or hold her the wrong way. But you hold her anyway, because you're a dad now and you're going to have to be the strong one and learn to do things that might scare you.

Father's Day is getting down on your hands and knees at the side of the bathtub and scrubbing all of the chocolate off of your son's face, including the spot behind his right ear and that smudge in his hair. And you marvel at how one chocolate chip cookie with only three chocolate chips in it could create such a mess.

Father's Day is changing a dirty diaper through your daughter's tears and screams, and then holding her up in front of the mirror while doing the Daddy-Daughter Diaper Dance until she stops crying and starts to laugh.

Father's Day is when she looks at you with the same awe and wonder that you have when you look at her.

Father's Day is never getting to go to the theater to see the movies that you want to see, but instead sitting through every children's movie Hollywood releases. All the good ones, and all the many, many bad ones. (Thank heavens for Pixar!)

Father's Day is being the one your kids run to when they see a scary spider. And, even though spiders still freak you out, you act all tough and take care of that spider.

Father's Day is figuring out the one thing that will make each child stop crying and start smiling. It's different for each kid, and it might not work every time, but if you can turn tears to giggles at least two out of three times, it's worth it.

Father's Day is shutting off the Billy Joel you were listening to so the kids can hear the Frozen soundtrack for the 1,219th time. (Sometimes you have to know when to let it go.)

Father's Day is realizing all your one year-old daughter really wants is for you to stop looking at your stupid smart phone for a minute and get down on the floor to play trains with her.

Father's Day is every day.

This post first appeared in the June 2016 edition of the ServeDaily newspaper, and on this blog on 6/14/2016.  Go here for more of my columns from ServeDaily.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Let's Keep the F-word Out of AF


Is it just me, or do a lot of those things seem to be missing from society these days? Check out the comment section of any news article or social media post and you're likely to find people being mean, nasty, and just generally uncouth. And foul-mouthed. Lots and lots of foul-mouthedness.

Look around and the f-word is everywhere. (Unless you've been living in a convent, you know that the f-word is a four-letter word that starts with "f" and ends with "k.") (And it's not "fork.") Now, I'm not (completely) naive. I know that the f-word has been around for a long time, even way back when I was a kid. But, back then it was usually only heard in locker rooms, high school hallways, blue-collar workplaces, and R-rated movies. It was hardly ever seen in print.

But now, it's hard to avoid. It's difficult to read anything online without the f-word popping up several times. People pepper their regular conversations with it. It's popping up with more and more frequency in online columns and news articles. A few years ago there was even a best-selling "children's" book with the title Go the F*** to Sleep

The acronym "wtf" (short for "what the f***") has become so common that most of us don't even think anymore about the f-word being in it. 

And that brings me to the new acronym that is taking the world by storm: AF. "AF" stands for "as f***," and when added to the end of a word or sentence it means "very much so," or "to the extreme," or maybe even "as all get-out." So, if something were to be designated as "boring AF," that would mean it is very, very boring.

Very, very Main.
Having spent most of my life in eastern Idaho or northern Utah, the initials "AF" have always meant something different to me. In Idaho, "AF" stands for "American Falls," which is a small town located about 20 miles west of Pocatello. And in Utah, "AF" is American Fork, a growing burg about 30 miles  south of Salt Lake City. So, to me and most of the people I know, "AF" is just shorthand for one of these two towns.

Not so for the general public, though. The other day I saw a car with a bumper sticker that said, "Potential AF." What the heck does that even mean? "Potential as f***?" What kind of potential is that? Maybe you'd have even more potential if you cleaned up that potty mouth of yours!

(This is where I admit that I'm an old fuddy-duddy. How much of a fuddy-duddy? So much so that I regularly use the term "fuddy-duddy.")

AF, Utah!
"AF" is becoming so prevalent that I've actually seen it used recently in headlines of semi-reputable websites! Really? Have we become so tactless as a society that we're putting the f-word in headlines? (This would never have happened if print media were still alive!)

So, what are we to do? Here's a thought: let's show a little restraint. Let's not fling the f-word around like a monkey at the zoo flinging it's own poo. Using the f-word all the time is a sure sign of laziness. We can be more creative than that. We can be as creative as all get-out! (It's the decent, tactful thing to do.)

Friday, June 8, 2018

George Is a Little TOO Curious

Everyone loves Curious George, right? What's not to love? He's a cute little monkey who just innocently happens to fall into mischief because of his natural monkey curiosity!

I used to love Curious George when I was a kid. His misadventures were always fun. Plus, the Man With the Yellow Hat was quite the fashion icon. What kid didn't think it would be cool to dress as a tall walking banana? (Heck, I'd be happy to find myself a nice yellow suit today, but I don't think The Wife would approve.)

How could you not like a cute monkey and a guy in a yellow hat? (And shirt.) (And tie.)

I used to think Curious George was the best!

But then, I had kids.

As a parent, I look at Curious George in a completely different way. The first time I read my kids a Curious George story, I could tell they were enjoying it. Everyone loves that funny little monkey. But, I turned each page with growing trepidation.

Why? Well, pretty much every Curious George story follows the same format:
     1. The Man With the Yellow Hat tells Curious George not to do something.
     2. Curious George does it anyway.
     3. Trouble ensues.
     D. It all works out in the end.
     5. George and the Man With the Yellow Hat have a good laugh.

Is this really the kind of lesson we want to be teaching our kids? "It's okay if you disobey me because no matter what happens it will all work out in the end and we'll have a good laugh about it."

Luckily for Curious George, the mischief he makes is mostly mild: He makes paper boats out of the newspapers he's supposed to be delivering; he trespasses; he gets a puzzle piece stuck in his throat; he lets an ostrich eat a bugle; and so on. I mean, really, who hasn't done most of that stuff? (If I had a dime for every time I've let an ostrich eat a bugle....)

What I'm waiting for are the stories with more serious consequences that can't just be laughed off at the end. The Man With the Yellow Hat tells George not to play in the street and he gets hit by a bus. Or, the Man With the Yellow Hat tells George not to touch the stove and he ends up frying his hand on the burner. Or the Man With the Yellow Hat tells George not to play with guns and he ends up shooting someone in the face.

In real life, our actions have actual consequences. It doesn't matter how cute of a monkey you are, there are some things you just can't laugh away.

So, I may be a mean dad, but I try to steer my kids away from Curious George. I don't really like the lessons he teaches. That said, I'd much rather deal with Curious George than this guy:

The Cat In the Hat: serious troublemaker!

I love Dr. Seuss books. I really do. He tells some great stories, teaches some great lessons, and has some great characters. That said, I cannot stand the Cat In the Hat.

In the book, you've got a mother who leaves her two young children home alone with their only supervision coming from a semi-intelligent talking fish. They, of course, open the door to the first creature to appear, a furry beast wearing nothing but a large striped hat and a bow tie. This beast then proceeds to boss the kids around and wreak total havoc upon the house.

This guy makes Curious George seem well-mannered and well-behaved. Where Curious George is just mischievous, the Cat In the Hat is downright malicious. 

And yet, Curious George and the Cat In the Hat are both widely heralded children's characters, with seemingly unlimited books, television shows, and movies with big-name stars like Will Ferrell and Mike Meyers to showcase their misbehavedness.

People love Curious George and the Cat In the Hat. I don't get it. To me, they're just a couple of troublemakers. Kids find enough trouble on their own--they don't need any help! So, thanks anyway, George. I guess I'm not that curious anymore.

Edited from a post originally published on 6/16/2015.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

You Know You're Old...

You know you're old when  you go to write a check and when you get to the year you instinctively start it with "19--."

You know you're old when you still actually write checks.

Tonight we're going to party (and write checks) like it's 1999!!!

You know you're old if you remember wondering who shot J.R.

You know you're old if you remember when sales tax was three cents for every dollar.

You know you're old when you hear the word "thong" and the first thing you think of is footwear.

You know you're old if you still call an RV a "Winnebago."

You know you're old when it's 2018 and one of your career goals is to become a newspaper columnist.

You know you're old when more than one of the correspondents on 60 Minutes are younger than you.

You know you're old if you still watch 60 Minutes.

You know you're old if you've looked at a phone book at any point in the last five years.

You know you're old when you complain about these kids today and their music.

You know you're old when you consider the band Nirvana to be "new" music.

You know you're old when you still hold out hope that "reality television" is a fad that will soon go away.

You know you're old if you've ever sent away film from your camera and waited for the printed pictures to come to you in the mail.

You know you're old if you remember when stamps had a price on them other than "Forever."

You know you're old when you still call the sports stadium by its original name, not whatever they're wanting you to call it now. (As an example, in Salt Lake City it's the Delta Center, not the Vivint Smart Home Arena. And in Pocatello, Idaho it's the Mini-Dome, not Holt Arena.)

You know you're old when you remember when televisions had "knobs."

You know you're old start a sentence but can't remember how you were going to finish it.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Passing a Kidney Stone Is NOT the Same As Giving Birth

As a man, there is no way I'll ever understand what it's like to be pregnant and give birth to a baby. There's no comparison that makes any sense. Some people have 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.

The Wife has given birth to four wonderful, beautiful children. Over the years, I have passed enough kidney stones to make my own little gravel pit. Believe me, the children are much more attractive than the stones. Difficult, too.

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 anywhere near as big as even one of the babies.

Also, I've never walked around with kidney stone pain for nine months before passing one. It's not the same.

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.)

Why do I bring this subject up, you ask? Because I just got stoned. Again.

My latest kidney stone! (The one on the left.) Not very big, but also not very fun.

Earlier this week I woke up at two-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.

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

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.)

This time, I was lucky. I felt the kidney stone back pain, but I was able to go back to sleep. And then I woke up, went to the bathroom, and out came the kidney stone! All together, this kidney stone managed to give me about ten total minutes of mild discomfort. Compare that to even the easiest nine month pregnancy and delivery, and you see there's still no comparison.

So, please don't think it's even close to the same thing. It's not. (Unless you've passed a seven pound, two ounce kidney stone. Then we can talk.)

Edited and updated from a post originally published on 5/29/2015. (That first photograph is current, though, from a kidney stone passed on 5/29/2018.)