The Prepubescent Airbag Theory

The other night, my son was sitting with me watching a little TV before bedtime when he told me that he had found a hair growing out of his left armpit.

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I don’t remember when it was exactly that I began to grow body hair, but I do remember not having any myself and feeling naked, standing in the locker room at school dressed in my shorts as all the other hairy ape-like cryptids in my class unselfconsciously moved about in the showers as men. And I felt odd. I felt as self-conscious as a naked girl in the boy’s locker room. I just didn’t belong.

So while I do not remember the day I’d discovered my first body hair, I remember all too well what it was like to not have body hair when everyone else did. It was with this in mind that I made a big deal out of my son’s faltering step toward puberty and congratulated him with an “Awesome!” slapping him on the back and asking him if he wanted me to take a picture for his baby book and perhaps throw a party and invite his grandparents. He failed to see the humor in this, but was glad all the same that I recognized this life event for what it was—he was becoming a man. At least as far as he was concerned. If he only knew… Continue reading

A Trilogy of Christmas Tragedy: Thing Two

The new addition to the GE family had not yet completed her first test cycle when the phone rang. Normally, I do not ever answer the phone at home because it is either someone I do not want to talk to—which is everybody—or it is bad news. The problem with bad news is that it never comes when you expect it. I don’t know why that is. It just is. Perhaps if I were smarter I would expect bad news all the time and be constantly disappointed, but disappointment has its own way of producing ulcers and besides, it would be a lot of work as I tend to be absentminded. I wouldn’t remember what exactly I was supposed to expect. And really, how can anyone be disappointed over good news? It’s just too hard to fake.

So, I answered the phone, happy that the new dishwasher was running fine and happy that the job only required two, okay three, curses and no knuckle blood to complete. It was my wife on the phone, and the only thing she said was, “The transmission fell out of the van.”

I looked at her dumbly through the phone and said, “Right.” Continue reading

A Trilogy of Christmas Tragedy: Thing One

Why is it that bad things seem to happen in threes and always when you are least prepared?

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It was Christmas Eve when our GE brand dishwasher broke. No big deal in the grand scheme of things with four little dishwashers who just happen to look like me running about the house, but we were having everyone in my wife’s extended family over for Christmas dinner the next day. Besides which, two of the older model, prodigy-brand dishwashers are subject to hormonal imbalances that will cause them to malfunction, sometimes catastrophically. They will either not clean the dishes or put them away properly and then argue about it with the spouse-brand dishwasher or just outright break them. The latter option, to me, seems the wiser course as one no longer has to wash a broken dish—and they are dirty when they are dropped as it would be completely foolish to drop a clean dish unless one just doesn’t want to put it away—but not as foolish as arguing with the spouse-brand dishwasher. Even I know better than that. Most days anyway. Continue reading

Tri(rant)fecta

Everyone is Standing on it?

Everyone in New York is doing it, it seems. They do it on the radio. They do it on TV. My daughter even does it, and it drives me batty. I’m talking about confusing the two prepositions “in” and “on.” Both are generally used to show the spatial or temporal location of a direct or indirect object, but they are not interchangeable. “In” implies that the object is at least partially enclosed or within boundaries, i.e., “I am in the city,” “I am in the car,” “I am in trouble,” or “I will see you in January.” “On” implies that the object is not enclosed but rather in proximity or just outside a noun or pronoun’s boundaries. “I am on the top of the building,” “I am on the carpet,” “I am on my way to trouble,” or “I will see you on Saturday.” That’s my understanding anyway. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

 

When you are using a computer and are accessing the internet, you are (indirectly) online (an adjective). When you are standing at the checkout and there are people in front and behind you, you are in line. If you are using your smart phone at the same time, you are online in line. If, after all that, you’re still not sure, you’re on the line about the difference between on and in, and you could(n’t) care less. Don’t get me started on that one. Continue reading

New word of the Day: Lethologica

What’s that phenomenon for when you know something, you know you know it, but the harder you reach for it, the slipperier it gets? Like the red balloon being chased by a toddler, it skitters away again and again as it’s reached for, maddening close but never close enough, repulsed by chubby grasping fingers and clumsy feet that always beat fingers to their goal.

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Stupid balloons.

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Blame it on middle age, blame it on lack of sleep, or blame it on the pot you smoked in college, when there’s a word you comprehend but cannot apprehend, or a dream you remember but cannot recall, or a thought that is kicked away by clumsy churlish feet every time you grasp for it, you are experiencing lethologica. But don’t worry. It doesn’t appear to be lethal. Continue reading

Acronyms for the Aged

Where the Heart Is

Home is where the heart is, but my heart was never happy. It hurt and wanted healing.

I first ran away from home when I was twelve or so. I had quite the active imagination, thanks largely in part to my mother’s insistence that I read books. Once I got over the fact that I was doing something my mother wanted me to do, I discovered that books opened up a whole new world to me with possibilities that I had never dreamed of before. I heard the call of the wild, and I answered. If the Swiss Family Robinson’s and Robinson Crusoe could do it, why not me?

I grab my backpack one rainy summer day and pack it full of all the provisions I think I’ll need on my extended journey into the great unknown that is the world outside my doorstep. Then I walk. I walk, and walk, and… walk. I walk until the skies open up, dampen my skin, and mat my hair. Continue reading