Sunday, June 12, 2011

Parenting Mistake 103: Toe Jam

A couple of weeks ago Jake reminded me of a parenting mistake that I may have made about a year ago. He had just got out of the bath and was as naked as the day he was born. He looked at me in the tub, shouted "TOE JAM!" and moved his hips in a circular motion - trying I'm sure, to replicate a curious penis-windmill-type maneuver from the music video. If you aren't familiar with this music video then check it out below. Its brilliant!



I was obviously a little shocked by this so I grabbed a Shampoo bottle (pretend microphone) and started singing along! You can't turn back the clock on a parenting mistake - so you may as well join in, right?

"I was asking New York City, do you like my clothes..."

To be honest with you, it'd be wrong of me to accept the blame for this mistake. You see, about a year ago I discovered The BPA and was forced by Jake and Luke, under much duress I might add, to search for it on Youtube.

We were instantly hooked. It was just so funny... It wasn't until the 3rd or 4th iteration that I noticed that it wasn't exactly kid friendly. Oh well, I thought, what's done is done. Its not like the kids will remember it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Parenting Mistake 102: Conflict Resolution


This mistake ended with Luke sliding down the wall. He was semi-conscious and confused. When he regained his composure (and his consciousness), I couldn't help but wonder just how dead I was gonna get when Susan got home.

I considered bribing the kids to keep quiet, but I knew they'd let me down. They always do. Here's an example from the week prior. After a little drive I told them,

"No need to tell your Mom about that little blast off back there!"

And here's what they heard,

"Please tell Mom immediately upon entering our home that our maniac of father almost killed us!"

They elaborated further by adding,

"We're just lucky a Police Officer didn't see – he'd have been arrested for sure!" And "I'm sure we hit 1000 miles per hour!"

To make matters worse, they always lead me into temptation. Using puppy dog eyes and Jedi mind tricks likely learned from their Mother, they plead me to go "blast off". I know what you're thinking and I agree 100%. The blastoff was so absolutely not my fault… After all, who could fault me from doing an itsy bitsy blastoff under those conditions? I have a good mind to tell my kids that there are Amish Children out there who will never experience the thrill of a 0-60 dash in 6 liter V8 muscle car!

You know, thinking more on this, I'm wondering if it's a trap set by Susan? Maybe Susan asks the kids to ask me to blastoff in hopes that I'll give in and willingly let myself be led into temptation? You know, like those P.I's that are hired to look like Jessica Alba? Those P.I's are paid to tempt a loving husband away from his wife for a night of other-worldly coitus-maximus with the hottest piece of crumpet on planet Earth. I just have no idea how so many loving husbands take the bait. Animals!

Anyway, back to Luke… Just like many of my other mistakes - this one wasn't really my fault either. Susan left me and the boys together while she went out on the town. She knew I was grumpy. She knew the kids were being little hellions. She knew that I'd had a long hard day of watching TV and eating chips. Yet she still left us! All things considered, it could have been much worse. Nobody had to visit urgent care this time around.

Before I get to what happened to Luke, I need to tell you about my Dad. He was the youngest of 4 brothers. Growing up he told me legendary stories of heroic battles on the lawn – battles between good and evil (him and another brother). He told me that my Granddad settled conflict the only way he knew how – pushing the kids outside and letting them duke it out.

I bet you can see where this is going. All day Jake and Luke were fighting like cats and dogs. All day I had mediated between tears and fists – tears usually won. At 7:40pm I had enough. I screamed at them in a voice that caught me off guard. It wasn't the booming Dadda voice. It could have been the voice of that "maniac father that almost killed his kids". I shouted at them to stop fighting like little girls and get serious. After all,

"If you really want to fight each other then at least do it properly!"

At that I grabbed Jakes sparring bag and divided up 1 set of sparring gear between the two of them. Luke got the head protection, left foot pad and right glove. He was 5 and likes snuggles, riding his bike and telling jokes. The left glove and the right foot pad went to Jake. Jake was 7. He likes a lot of the same stuff as Luke but is also a red belt at Taekwondo.

They squared off. I screamed "FIGHT!". Jake shook his head and pleaded with me not to make them fight. I screamed "FIGHT!" for the second time and Luke stepped forward with his right hand drawn so far back that he was clearly ready to put his brother in orbit. The next bit happened in slow motion. Jake stepped to Luke's left and delivered a picture perfect round kick. Jake's right foot hit Luke's left jaw in an upward motion just as Luke was stepping forward… And then the fight was over.

! PARENTING FAIL!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lost in Translation


Sunday is the day that separates Christians from Jewish, Muslim and Hindu. Today is the day of the week that a great many of us dedicate to our faith. Some of us will be taught goodwill to all men, others will be taught non-tolerance. Today is a day full of magic. It's is the day that many of us are told that our faith is right and that others are wrong. For many, today is the day when faith becomes fact.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-Christian or any other faith. It just bothers me that we spend so much time concentrating on the things that make us different – when we should be concentrating on the things that we have in common.

Let's start first with the Zoroastrian faith. It introduces us to Mithra - "the pagan Christ". Mithra was born on the 25th of December, performed miracles, was known as "Messiah", died and resurrected on the 3rd day.

Over in Hinduism we find that Krishna was a carpenter. He was an Earthly manifestation of God, was born of a virgin and baptized in a River.

From the Egyptian Book of Dead (1280 BC), we are told that Horus was the son of God. He was baptized in a river, born of a virgin, had 12 disciples, healed the sick, walked on water, was crucified and later resurrected. 

More than the similarities in the stories are the similarities in the message. Almost all popular religion today spread the same message of goodwill to all men, treat others as you wish to be treated and tell us that stuff like murder, rape and incest are bad (lets just ignore Lot's daughters today, ok?).

Christianity and Islam believe in the supreme God – maybe even the same God? There are differences in the scripture, sure, but the messages are pretty much the same. And, really, is it any wonder that there are so many interpretations of the same teachings? We've been playing Chinese Whispers since the Bronze Age.

Could it be that Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindu's and just about everyone else actually believes the same thing? Perhaps we're just lost in translation here? Even the Hindu's with their seemingly endless list of Gods believe that they're all just facets of the one Supreme God (Brahma). Is this that different to Christians believing Jesus to be the Earthy manifestation of God? Consider for a moment the 100's of different translations of these texts. I contend that by getting all literal with these texts that we're missing something. I fear that what we're all missing is the one thing that we need to find in this day and age – common ground, respect and understanding.


 

The more loving one by W. H Auden
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

 
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

 
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

 
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

 


 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Yellow snow

This tent offers no shelter from the cold

Snot freezes on nights like these -

And the damn toilet block is as far away as the morning sun

Who cares if yellow snow marks the places where I've been?


 

I remember writing this poem back in '03. The camping trip from hell. Who the hell goes camping when there's snow on the ground? I did.

Scratch made biscuits

O' Betty from Bojangles

You created this biscuit from scratch

You're the one who milled nothingness

to bring all of this

to a head in this 99c Sausage biscuit.


 


 

Just found this lil poem… Makes me miss Bojangles. Those Sausage biscuits were the bomb.

Parenting mistake 101: Bedtime reading


It's a difficult job being a parent. There's no instruction manual, every model is different and there's no place for the batteries to go. It seems to me that parenting mistakes are a given. I started making them the day the first baby popped out. I haven't been able to stop myself since.

I think the first 100 of these should be free. This post marks mistake 101 - bedtime reading.

Jake (7) is a veracious reader. I think it's because we've always sent the kids to bed early to read. This is also best for the continued health of our boys. After 8pm and they turn into monsters. I'm not talking monsters like cutesy Animal from the Muppets. I'm talking crazed, emotional, fire-breathing monsters. They fight. They scream. They cry. 'Nuff said.

Anyway… Recently Jake has taken an interest in my graphic novel (comic book) collection. Pretty early on, he identified his favorite style (Manga) and author (Tezuka). I dedicated a shelf to appropriate Tezuka books for a kid his age. I did this in a very methodical and systematic way. First I looked at the picture on the front scanning it for inappropriate content like swear words or boobies. Next I flipped through the book looking for more of the same. Much to my joy, I discovered that my whole Osamu Tezuka collection was appropriate.

I'm a Buddhist in denial and secretly I want my kids to be as well. So I was thrilled when Jake picked up Buddha vol.1 to be his first read. In around 2 weeks he finished all 8 volumes and picked up "Swallowing the Earth" to read next.

A few days passed before I asked him about it. At 9pm I went in to check on him and found him glued to the book. I asked him how the book was. This is what he said,

"Its pretty good. It's a story about a pretty woman that kisses men and stuff then kills them…"

I was in a state of utter disbelief, frantically trying to recall the details of a book that I read a few months ago… Jake continued,

"She tried to kill Seki but couldn't because he gets his strength from drinking the alcohol. He's just like you Dad!"

! PARENTING FAIL!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Compassion TV

Yesterday they were probably sitting just like me
Legs draped over the arm of an easy chair
Wondering where the hell the remote was
Bathed in mind-numbing mindlessness
And whitewashed in fatigue

Not even boredom sits still anymore

Today a million glazed eyes are steadfast upon hypocrisy -
Who can tell the difference between good and bad?
Morality is a personal concept


Watch the true face of war stain the streets red
Don't avert our eyes to the play of the righteous
The compassion of carnage starts on channel 24
 
How there's any blood left for hearts to bleed peace
God only knows
God only knows
The 5000 people who died today


(...from my '03 vault of poetry... just seemed fitting)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shakespearean Pokemon


Susan took the boys to a Martial Arts tournament this weekend. Baby Peach and I were homebound and sick. Yacketty-yack, woof-cough and snot-splosion. There was no way we could leave the house for longer than 30 minutes. Aquarium out. Zoo out. Museums out. Mall out. Everything cool was out. Bummer! We had to entertain ourselves.

From Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon we were abandoned and alone; fighting for survival in a land of chaos and destruction (you should have seen the mess the boys left). We didn't let boredom faze us. We were strong. We committed to not let frozen meals and the obligations of absolutely nothing distract us from the U-Verse (AT&T's cable service). We started with PBS Kids and gradually moved on to more adult-themed shows on Teen Nick and beyond.

It seems to me that Kids TV shows are getting more and more advanced all the time. I predict that 10 years from now, the adults will be watching shows like SpongeBob and the kids will be watching post-apocalyptic, cyber-punk versions of Hamlet and The Tempest. Of course, the kids will also be simultaneously recreating Escher paintings out of Lego, texting "LMAO" and fragging their parents in Halo - all at the same time… But that kind of goes without saying, right?

Still don't believe me? Take the following speech from a Final Fantasy show,
"… That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again."

 
Sound familiar? Rich, complex and seemingly nonsensical? Bad translation?  It could be all of the above… and I for one wouldn't be surprised to hear that uttered from one of the wide-eyed misfits from the Final Fantasy franchise. It wasn't though. I lied to you. The quote actually came from Caliban in the Tempest by Shakespeare.

In a funny way, these "kid shows" draw a parallel with Shakespeare. Here's my highly scientific list of things that Shakespeare has in common with Pokemon and Bakugan:
Silly names *check*
Crazy outfits *check*
Funny language *check* 
Outlandish plots *check*

See? I contend that no fully grown human today can actually understand either. And I just feel stupid watching them. What's interesting about Kid TV these days is that the shows themselves aren't stupid. In fact, quite to the contrary. Stupid I can understand. Archer, Family Guy or American Dad I can understand. They are stupid. But these new kid shows like Bakugan elude me like Shakespeare eludes mortal man.

I asked Luke to explain a Bakugan show the other day, this is more-or-less what he had to say,
"Darkus Alpha cranium 5000 attack Haos with 720G from the sister multiverse. Haos reconfigured to counter-defense with a second deck multiplier".

Luke then shot me a look that I interpreted as sadness/empathy/pity/"man, are you that old?" I was with him right up to the point of counter-defense – I mean, that doesn't even make sense! Sensing an area of vulnerability, I asked him to explain the concept of counter-defense and how it applied to Ju-Jitsu. He couldn't – and I felt much better. So maybe there's hope yet for us Old Gits?


Then again, maybe not.





Saturday, May 7, 2011

What I have in common with a Navy Seal

I left the pre-procedure appointment with serious misgivings about whether I wanted to let Dr. Milsten anywhere near my meat 'n veg. I also left with a booklet that explained the procedure in a very straightforward way. It even had pictures! It amazes me that anyone is crazy enough to sign up for a vasectomy. The pictures alone would force even The Rock into the fetal position, shaking, crying "no, don't let them near my tenders!"… Not me though. I'm tough!

Accompanying the lil book of horrors was a series of instructions. Prep work that the patient was expected to do the morning of the snip. One of the tasks on the list was shaving.

I realize that there are guys out there that routinely shave their tenders. I call these guys names like "crazy" and "masochistic". Imagine for a second shaving the fuzz off a peach with a vegetable peeler… No, that'd be too easy… Shaving ones nuggets is like juggling with chainsaws... No, that doesn't cut it either (no pun intended). The fact of the matter is that there isn't an analogy that works here – and that's because shaving down there is a crime against nature!

Rest a razor blade on your crackers and you can't help but question your mortality. One wrong move; one sneeze, one twitch, one evil spouse "boo" and its end game… Intense concentration times 10 bazillion! This is *exactly* how I imagine those Navy Seals minutes were before they perforated bin Laden's noggin.

Anyway… An hour or so later, I found myself half naked; balls blowing in the wind and feet in stirrups. I was ready for action! The doctor's assistant examined my handy work.

"Nice work here!" he said.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To snip or not to snip


Less than an hour before the events that transpired in my previous post, I received a call from her.

She asked me if I was sitting down. Then she asked if I'd left for the "snip" appointment yet. I replied that I hadn't. Then she told me that she was pregnant.

I couldn't believe it! I closed my office door, sat back and laughed-out-loud at how brilliant the timing was. If I hadn't have laughed, I'd surely have sat there and cried. What did this mean? My head was swimming. I had to make some decisions.

As I understand it, the stork doesn't take returns - at least not in our house… So the first decision was an easy one to make.

The next decision; whether or not to go through with the snip was more difficult. I was happy that we were going to have another peanut. So did that mean that I wanted a forth peanut? I had to weigh up the pros and cons.

- Poo. From the very first black tar diaper, poo is never too far removed from babies. With the other two, I'd had numerous close encounters of the poo kind. I'd been in the tub when the first brown destroyer floated up from the depths. Evacuate! I'd also been on clean-up duty after I'd decided that Jake was old enough to go potty by himself. *shudder* It was on the walls!

- Sex and sleep. Sex is not that big an issue really. I can live without sex for a day or so… but sleep? Hell no! Sleep in our house is worth more than diamonds, money, sports cars, food and even sex!

- Questions. Very occasionally kids' questions and observations are insightful. More often than not, they sound like the musings of a mad man. Let's take yesterday as an example. Jake asked me "why do frogs like humans that walk on their toes and always roll their eyes?" A day later and I'm still thinking about it. I admit it. He's stumped me! Why didn't he ask why the sky is blue again? I was ready for that one. I'd already Google'd it.

- Paranoia. Kids have a death wish. It's my job to see that their wishes are never granted. The other night I watched a Giraffe being born on TV. It popped out, rolled around for a couple of seconds then got up and walked off. Luke is 5. Five years on and he's still often minutes away from certain death. Riding backwards down the driveway? Death wish. Picking on his brother? Death wish. Clogging the toilet the second time in one day? Death wish. Smack-talking his Mom? Death wish. See?

+ Get-out-of-jail-free card. This "news" meant that I didn't have to go through with it. I could use it as a get-out-of-jail-free card. I can't say that I was thrilled at the thought of getting my balls sliced open with a machete, knife, "scalpel" or whatever you call it… It didn't matter that the incision would be tiny and the actual cutting was on something thinner than spaghetti. It was my nuggets!

In the end I chose to at least go to the first appointment. What could it hurt? How wrong could I be?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

*gulp*

Doctor Milsten seemed a little too quiet and reserved – like I imagine a serial killer would be. He didn't smile. He sat so close to me that I could see his pulse through a vein pinched in his collar. We had barely exchanged pleasantries when he asked me to stand up and drop my pants.

I didn't hesitate. I stood there with my gentleman sausage on full display - roughly 12 inches from his face. And he did nothing. He just sat there and stared at it. Thinking back, I'm sure he was in awe of my splendor. Who wouldn't be?

Anyway, I'm not sure who won the stare off between the Doc and my meat 'n veg, but after roughly 2 hours of intense concentration the Doc leapt into action. Ok, maybe it was more like 10 seconds… So picture a Praying Mantis eyeing a fat juicy fly. The Mantis sits perfectly still until - like an insect Ninja - it strikes! And the Doc moved so fast that I instinctively twitched. The next thing I knew, the Doc had a vice-like grip on my tenders.

Words fail me here. There is nothing I can write that can help you to understand how utterly shocked / scared / vulnerable I felt standing there. And then it got worse. He proceeded to isolate one of the lifelines connecting left tender to my body. Vas dermis pinched between his thumb and forefinger, he looked up to meet my eyes.

"This is where I'll cut", he says.

I said nothing. Just… *gulp*.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

She is a Jedi Master

Something weird has happened to me. She has trained me. I kid you not. I am now not only 100% fully domesticated. I’m also a robot that reads minds.

Let’s take the other night. She and I are in bed – and she, in a very nonchalant way, comments that it’s a little warm. Before I realized what I was doing, I found myself standing in front of the thermostat. It was like waking from sleepwalking - standing there and staring at the soft green light of 74 degrees... And it happens all the time. Yesterday I found myself emptying the dishwasher when there were still clean plates in the cupboard! I know right... Weird!

She is a Jedi master.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Culture Peeping

About 2 years ago I started filling out online surveys hosted by RewardsGold. The survey takes a couple of minutes and the magazine subscription that I receive as payment lasts a year. Sounds like a good deal to me!

At first I looked for magazines that interested me like Motor Trend, Car & Driver, Maxim etc. You see for as cultured and educated as I often pretend to be, my #1 interest in magazines was still pretty much exotic ladies and cars. This stage in my subscription habit could be called my “T&A and Car Porn” phase. And what is car porn you ask? Morgan Aero 8 pictured on a winding country road at sunset is 100% pure Car Porn.

Unfortunately there are only so many options for T&A and Car Porn. As time wore on, my options in these categories declined from slim to nil. In fact, more often than not I was forced to pick between magazines like Ebony, Woman’s Day and Home and Gardens. And that presented a dilemma. Neither of those magazines really appealed to me. I’d just slaved over a survey. What was I to do? I didn’t want it to go to waste. So Home and Gardens it was.

After 6 months or so I received Forbes, Maxim, Home and Gardens, Wine Spectator, Men’s Health and a couple of other magazines that I thought I’d probably enjoy. I didn’t. For the most part they ended up in the trash after a quick T&A and Car Porn check. For the most part they were all boring! That’s when I decided to quit choosing them and just pick them at random. The one that was offered first would the one I’d pick. Anything at all, I reasoned, would be better than Home and Gardens.

And I was right. You see on the 8th month, my highly overworked (and likely very confused) mailman delivered a magazine called The Advocate. I quickly flipped through it and decided that it was like GQ only better in every possible way. I left it on the kitchen counter and thought nothing more about it until the following day.

When I arrived home from work the next day, my wife Susan had the magazine splayed out on the counter. In a funny way, it reminded me of when my Mom found my porn stash when I was a teenager. Lots of “what is going on here”, “you’re disgusting” and “why” looks… Eventually Susan settled on a quizzical, yet unmistakably confrontational stance. Hands on hips, she asked why I was reading a gay magazine.

She continued to flap the magazine in the air and shoot confused looks at me. As it became clear to me what I’d done, I started to find the whole situation really quite funny. Never one to miss an opportunity to confuse and frustrate her, I replied that that the magazine “interested me”. Susan slapped the magazine on the counter that sounded like WHATEVER with an exclamation mark.

In truth, had I have realized before Susan had, that The Advocate was a gay magazine, I’d have trashed it. But now I felt pressured into actually reading it!

To my astonishment, I thought The Advocate was a great read (and still do). It reads like GQ or Men’s Health that isn’t trying too hard to be masculine…. Speaking of which, I must digress for a minute to explain my theory about masculinity. I think that too much of it turns one a little queer – like the Village People or the guy in my neighborhood with the massive, noisy, manly full-dresser Harley Davidson with tassels flowing from the handlebars and a studded saddle bag. If that isn’t camp (flamboyantly queer) then I don’t know what is. He’s gone ‘round the bend if you ask me. Take that Men’s Health for example; that’s just Out magazine in drag to me.

Anyway 2 years on and I have broadened my tastes to include a broad swath of culture. Along with my Playboy (only one I actually pay for), I get magazines as diverse as Maxim, Out, Ebony, Town and Country, Metropolitan Home and Conde Nast Traveller. All of which I have found to be insightful in their own ways.

I like to think of my little habit as culture peeping.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Remembering Room 425

It started with a phone call from my mum. I was pooping. I answered with uh–huh’s, yeah’s and hold- on-a-sec. I covered the mouthpiece, flushed and took up the soul destroying, too-much information position by the window.

I loved the view from the 4th floor – it was almost parallel to the roof of the pool. Gravel, dirt and air conditioning bulk. It was always a nice contrast to the bright blue or black, but rarely in-between, Oklamhoma sky. The Radisson on 41st was a home away from home. One week every other week - I spent half a year in that hotel. I knew people at that hotel.

30 minutes later and I’m still saying uh-huh - thinking of the joint comforts of room service and internet porn. Then I notice a twinkle in the hallway. Closer inspection reveals a steady stream of water seeping from underneath the bathroom door and out into the hallway beyond. Oh shit! Literally.

I’m used to working hot issues. It’s what I do for a living. Software issue at a casino? Losing $1200 a minute in fines and lost revenue? No big deal. I’m the best at what I do. I’m the fixer… So I tell my mum that I need to call her back. I pick up the phone next to the bed. I call down to reception only to discover that I’ve lost my composure. And I NEVER lose my composure…

“Uh, yeah, hello… Hello Marcy, how are you?...”
“Good, good. Well I’m uh ok, I guess…”
“I had a long, uh ah, day at the office today…”
“How can you, um, help me? Oh yes, right… see that’s the thing…”
“I’ve flooded my room in poop water!”

I think she hung up. I didn’t know what to do next. I flung open the bathroom door like I meant business. A torrent of water ran between my ankles and instantly soaked my socks. Up to my ankles, I paddled around like a kid in a splash park. How is this possible? Water is flowing so fast that the trash can has been pushed against the door. I can do this, I tell myself. I look for the shut –off, shit-off value turny thingy. This toilet doesn’t have one! Now what? I know. I’ll call my mum…

“Mum, yeah, it’s me again. I think I flooded the room. The toilet won’t stop flushing. There’s poopy water everywhere.”… splash, splash, whimper “… help me… mum?”

Then my mum starts laughing. Big belly laughs. Then she’d stop, breath in, compose herself and start again. Bollocks! I could see she wasn’t going to help. I clicked her away and got back to the business of panicking.

I didn’t know what to try next. Staring at it really hard didn’t seem to do much so I decided to open the room door. I figured the maintenance man would be here any second. Even if he didn’t get the call from reception, he’d likely know there was a problem. In about 10 minutes, he’d be getting a shower down in basement. Isn’t that where all maintenance people live – down in the basement?

I poked my head around the door and saw my lil jobbies floating down the hallway towards the elevator. I closed my eyes and pinched myself. This couldn’t really be happening to me, could it?

Extreme embarrassment coupled with a profound sense of relief. I wanted to cry more at that moment than at any other time in my life. And then my savior arrived! Complete with a tool belt, tool box, builders cleavage and a shop vac. First a stroll in the far off distance. Power walking next. Finally he was sprinting towards me. Then he arrived. His first words were “Oh shit!”. Second were “out-of-way”.

In one fluid motion the maintenance guy had pushed me aside, paddled across the rapids, whipped the back of the toilet off and jammed a wrench somewhere dark and damp. With a gurgle and a grunt from maintenance guy the water slowed to a trickle until it finally stopped.

Maintenance guy called reception. All I heard was
“…unless you want to bring up a canoe, you’ll need to move him to a new room”… I took up residence outside in the hallway – upstream of course – and waited for further instruction.

I sat with my head in my hands. I stared hard at the floor and waited for it open up and swallow me whole. I didn’t have to wait long. My next door, downstream, neighbor opened her door. She shot a look at my door, down the hall and back to me.
“You did this didn’t you?” she said. Her face said the rest “…you dirty little boy!”
She was obviously disgusted, (and rightly so) appalled. I watched a bit of toilet paper glide past her feet. I nodded and started to smile. The smile gave way to a giggle. When I looked up she was still there. Then my giggle turned into full on belly laugh. I just couldn’t stop myself! She slammed the door.

I’m pretty sure that they had to evacuate the whole floor. On my way to my new room, I looked back and said to myself “oh yes, I did that”. I did that.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Surgery update

My mums spine surgery went well on thursday. She's still in a lot of pain, but not hooked up to the narcotics-r-us pump anymore. The last of the drains and IVs came out this afternoon. She even got up and walked around with a walker earlier today. I couldn't help but ponder her mortality as she shuffled and groaned her way to the nurse hole and back.

The wing that shes in seems to be a trauma hot bed. I haven't heard so much screaming, yelling and crying since the last episode of greys. Thankfully, non of this has been from my mum - she grunts and occasionally whimpers an "oooh". She's a trooper alright. Had I have been in her position, with two drain pain, piss tube pain, IV pain, pin pain, fusion pain, bone pain, brace pain, pain pain... well I know that I'd have turned the air blue... and if Susie (the worst nurse this side of daryl hannah) had got in range, I'd have... well I dunno... something involving nasty.

Health care in America is shit. Truly totally sucky. This country could be utopia if it is wasn't for the aweful healthcare system. I have seen lots of fuck ups already. I swear my mum would be a in a whole different situation if it wasn't for the eagle eyes of myself and my step dad. If US healthcare had a slogan it'd be "blinded by the dollar - black in the heart".

I'm sharing tonight with a nice dry (as a nun) and dirty (as jenna jameson) gin martini... Step dad is on watch and I'm ready for sleep without worry.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beatin' Pop-Pop


I think that most boys, at some point in their lives, want to beat up their dad. I’ve discovered, much to my surprise, that this is true for step fathers also.

This weekend I got to live out a dream by hitting my step dad repeatedly, when he was down, with huge boxing gloves at Wookies birthday party. The best thing about this experience is that everyone, myself included, thought that this was the funniest thing ever. Step son and step dad in the kid’s bouncy castles – gladiatorial, punching to the end of the laughter. We punched each other until we couldn’t lift our arms anymore – at which point we resorted to charging each other. When we couldn’t charge anymore we just collapsed into a sweaty hug-slash-pile.

It was the best birthday party ever! And oh yeah, Wookie is now 4! He had a good time also.

Tornado Kick!

We of the Wheatley clan have a history of extreme behavior. We don’t parachute, race cars or backyard wrestle. We don’t white water raft, nor do we compete in marathons or any of that crazy, life risky exercise stuff. We are extreme suburbanites. Our extreme behavior is common behavior done extremely.

Let’s use last night as an example of this. A parent may encourage his 5 year old Taekwondo star to learn new techniques by watching his qualified instructors do it. Not me. I use youtube to learn moves and then attempt to “teach” the new cool move to a very skeptical child. Last night it was the mighty tornado kick. This is what its supposed to look like:



OK, OK, I lied... Although I'm sure there's a tornado kick somewhere in there. To be honest, the tornado kick is actually not that impressive and well, this guy Steve Terada is. So substitute him in the video for me and you'll get a perfect mental imagine of me in action!

Anyway, once I have the move down, I then attempt to teach it to Jake. Bless his cotton socks, he always humors his old man and genuinely tries not to laugh. He doesn’t roll his eyes when I suggest that we learn a new cool move together. He almost never ridicules me when I usually learn, 20 minutes into a painful unintended split, that the move is actually called ChonChopChop. He’s also very humble as I sit like a wounded bird with a broken wing and watch him execute ChonChopChop like Jackie Chan of Kindergarten.

Another problem with this is that I’m not very well coordinated. I don’t take direction very well and I don’t actually take any Taekwondo classes myself. I’m also very impatient and usually consider myself “informed” before the end of the video.

This is how I sprained my groin. This is why I hobbled out of bed this morning at 6am to get some painkillers and an ice pack. This is why right now, as I type this, I have an ice pack on my groin. This is also why my balls are turning blue.

I won’t be able to teach Jake any kicks today and this makes me sad. We won’t be able to spar today – him in his robokid pads and me in my PJs. I won’t be able to kick him in the head today. He won’t be able to kick me in the stomach, hammer fist the back of my head and then knee me in the nose like last week. Sad isn’t it? This is why today I’m going to teach him the thunderous spinning back fist technique… It’s easy enough. I just looked it up on youtube.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Shake your head and look away

The smell of violence is fear. The changing room stank of it. Barry held a small knife to my throat while he whispered sweet nothings in my ear. He asked me if I like that. He asked me why I was such a fucking wimpy fuck. He asked his audience – a group of 20 to 25, 14 year old boys – if anyone would notice if he cut me. His hard stare darted around the room. Each boy in turn shook his head and looked away.

A month before this day, Barry and his pals spat at me while I climbed into the PE basket – the one for stinky clothes that needed to be washed. I did it because he asked me to. I’d have sucked his dick if he’d asked. Thank god he never did. I curled up in the fetal position as they flipped the basket over and kicked me around the changing room. They told me to stay there when they had exhausted themselves. Gavin said that he’d be waiting outside and that they’d be back to check on me. If I got out of the basket then they’d fuck me up. They told me that my mum wouldn’t recognize me when they’d got through with me. Barry added that she wouldn’t care because she’d be fucked by his knife. Barry asked what my mum’s name was. I lied and told him it was Barbara.
“Ugh, Barbara, you fucking like that? Huh? Knifed in the fucking pussy?”
Nervous laughs accompanied the role play. A few minutes later they all left me. The PE class finished at 3:30. The cleaners found me in the basket at around 6. It took me about three years after that to have the balls to ride the elevator again. My Mum shouted at me when I got home.
“Always so unthoughtful!”, she screamed…

A week from knife day, I’ll climb into my best friend’s attic. I’ll aim his rifle at Barry’s head and he’ll never know what hit him. He’ll never know because I never had the balls to pull the trigger.

A couple of months from this day, I’ll watch Barry get beaten with a large wooden bat. Tears will fill my eyes and I'll fear sorry for him. His best friend will stamp, kick and gnaw his way through Barry’s thick skin. There’ll be 20 to 25 other boys watching, shaking and slowing pissing themselves. There’ll be tears and the room will be saturated in the sound of violence: silence. And it’ll all happen in this very room. Just like today, nobody will say anything. Nobody ever does. That’s the rules.

Three years from this day, Barry will stab another boy with a screwdriver. The boy will be taken to hospital and Barry will be taken away, kicking, screaming and biting, by the local police. Nobody will see either of them again.

But today I’m back in that stinky room with Barry’s pen knife held against my throat. He didn’t cut me. He was just playing with me like a cat plays with a mouse. I didn’t know this. My ears filled with liquid. My mouth dried and I tasted violence. The metallic taste filled my mouth. Time slowed and I could hear my heart beating. Barry took a deep breath just as Mr. Bainbridge called from his office,
“Hurry up lads, get to your next class!”
Barry licked my face and slid the knife back into his pocket.
“See you next week”, he smiled.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

His Fatness

A few short years ago, I sat on an airplane and waited. I waited with baited breath to see if the fat man waddling up the aisle was going to be sat next to me. I didn’t want the blimp sat next to me. Who does? I didn’t want to be squished. I didn’t want to smell the BO. This guy was so fat that I’m sure that when he weighed himself, the scales read “to be continued…”.

I was on my way back from Florida. What’s funny is that this guy could have been baptized with Shamu! Ha!

The flight represented the end of a long family vacation. I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed that night. Florida family vacations are always tiring. This one was no exception. There had been theme parks and beaches. I’m sure it was the most exercise I’d had all year. Not that I needed it. Unlike today, back then I could turn invisible with a profile view. I could have been used as a toothpick for this guy. I didn’t need a belt. When I was 22, I wore kid’s clothes that fit like a glove. Funny that, in contrast, this guy’s belt could have been used to measure the equator!

I let out a sigh of relief when the fat bastard took a seat two rows down. He was safely on the other side of the plane. It’d throw the balance off for sure, but at least I wasn’t going to get squished!

A few moments later an incredibly attractive girl took the seat next to mine. She smiled with innocence that I’m sure I lost before I hit middle school. Short skirt, long legs, blonde hair – yum, yum, yum! Her makeup looked like it had been painted on, but I didn’t care. She had breasts that made me want to cry – nipples, I’m sure, that I could have hung a coat on. It was going to be a good flight!

Meanwhile, two rows down, the blimp was having parking troubles. His incredibly fat ass wasn’t going to fit. His face turned red. The lady in the seat next to him grimaced and pretended that it wasn’t happening. Her eyes were fixed on the tarmac. She began to sneer like it was going out of fashion. I smiled with something like empathy for the lady. I asked the girlie next to me if she thought they had a giant shoehorn for people like that. She left an uncomfortable smile hanging in the space between us. It was her way of letting me know that she found it distasteful.

Five minutes later the armrests were removed. The fat bastard folded layers of fat and slid in with an audible thud and creak. I'm sure that the lady sat next to him also questioned if this guy was really fat or just just 5 feet too short.

The entertainment started to subside when the trolly-dolly stewardess asked his fatness to buckle his seat belt. He couldn’t. Fully extended it barely covered half of Mount Belly. His plump face turned red as he apologized profusely. The stewardess grunted something about an extension and left him hanging.

By this time, everybody in the cabin was having a good hard stare. Those that were sympathetic were now just pissed. The comedians like me had shelved comedy for the time being. This fat fuck was delaying our flight!

The stewardess returned with a belt extender.
“Here’s your belt extender, Sir”
She handed fatso the belt as everybody in the cabin listened in. It still didn’t fit. The stewardess huffed as she watched him struggle. All eyes were directed to the guy that could have had his own zip code. He panicked and looked to the stewardess for help. She looked away, tapped her feet impatiently and waited for him to ask.

Then he started to sniffle and sob. The stewardess immediately reached over and released some more belt. Everybody else, including the ice queen in the seat next to his, threw a sympathetic look his way. It was too much for a guy who wanted to be swallowed up by the world. He bowed his head and cried. Big blubbery sobs drenched the cabin. Tears fell like grains of sand in the desert.

The girlie turned out to be 14 years old. Her parents were four rows back. I gave one word answers to her advances. My eyes were glued to the window. I spent the remainder of the flight pretending not to cry.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Punctuated by violence


Somebody is prodding me in the back. I open my eyes. The world is buzzing like a TV without a channel. Full of static. Anything but still. Head pounding. Whole body ice cold. I’m lying face down on cement.

“Mate, mate, MATE!”
Somebody is kneeling next to me and screaming. I hate it when people scream at me! As I turn to face him, he begins to heave. There are bits of reality missing. I can’t tell if I’m having flash backs or just blacking out every few seconds. Seconds could be hours.

The stranger is still here. Now he’s standing next to a tree. I see vomit hitting his bright white shoes. The trail of vomit starts to wind its way to me. I feel the warmth on my legs. I’m cold, crusty and ambivalent.

Peeling myself from the concrete, I kneel to face him. He’s still vomiting.
“Stay there!“ he gurgles more vomit. I wish he’d stop doing that!
“Blood… Fuck!” he’s still screaming. This guy is nuts!

Then it registers. Blood. He said blood. With the help of a railing I stand. He must be hurt. Maybe he needs help? I try stepping towards him and stumble - grappling wildly with a slippery railing that's as dry as a desert.

I manage to catch some light from a far off streetlamp. Looking down, I notice that the front of my pale green shirt is drenched in shadow. My trousers are damp. In a moment of panic it registers. The blood isn’t his. Its mine! There’s blood everywhere! I’m bleeding!

“Help me”, I whimper, “I’m fucking bleeding!”
He’s wipes his face as I slide down the railing to sit. I pat wildly at my face. Feels OK. I pat my chest. OK. Legs? Check. Feet, belly, balls? Check, check, check. I run my tongue around my teeth. Teeth? Check.
“Lift your shirt”, he suggests.

I do. I hold my shirt and do my best to turn around so he can see my back. He nods. I’m fine. I drop my trousers. Nothing. There are a few small cuts, some juicy bruises and scrape or two, but nothing to explain the blood.

“What happened?” I ask him. He shrugs his shoulders. My hands hurt. Bad. He gestures towards them.
“Fucked if I know mate. I’d hate to be the other guy!”
I look down. My knuckles are bloody – white in places. I recognize this. I’ve been here before. I’ve been fighting. By the looks of my hands, I’d say quite a lot.

“Do you remember what happened here? That’s a bucket load of blood!” He’s still wiping vomit from the corners of his mouth with his shirt sleeve.
“I thought you were dead! Oh, thank fuck you’re not dead. Fucking hate dead geezers!”
He smiles big white teeth. Dark skin. I smile back as he puts his arm around me. I thank him. He supports my body weight.
“Need the ozzie?”
“No hospital. I think I’m fine thanks. Just bruises”
“K. Name’s Keith, we better get you home. Where do you live?”
I point down the hill and he takes me home.

The night started off with a friend stopping by for some drinks. We usually did this to save money. My Dad did a lot of those beer runs to France. I was always well stocked. Whiskey, vodka, beer, beer, and more beer. Because of this, my place was often first stop for a good night. I remember leaving home with Colin in Glen’s motor.

I remember sitting in the back seat of Glen’s car. Bass thumping. Lagered up – four of us spitting songs through open windows, the sun roof and at passing cars.

I remember it being Jack special night. I usually avoided liquor unless I was on my own. It made me more me. More aggressive, more outspoken and less restrained. But hell, for 50p a shot, it was the best bang for the buck in town! I didn’t really care about the taste. It was all about the alcohol. Jack was an easy choice. Bad friends always are.

My new friend, Keith, found me at around 4am. My last memories were around 10pm. I wracked my brain for answers but only found questions.

Keith helped me to my room. I thanked him profusely. He left, letting himself out. I turned on the TV and watched the news until it was dark again outside. I was worried sick: terrified that I’d hurt somebody. Killed them maybe? You don’t get that much blood from a fist fight. This was serious.

I cried a lot that night. I always cried after a fight. There was a fear of myself and of losing myself. More than this was nagging self-loathing. I was disgusted with myself. The very same stories that I bragged about often cried me to sleep. That night I knew that things had to change. It should have been the turning point. Sadly, it wasn’t. It’s just another story. I have years of stories. Many of which are just as punctuated by violence.