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- The Big D
- Olympic Curling
- An Idiot, A Broad
- Ah, Shove It Up Yer... Melvin
- A Tale of Two Liams
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Y'know, life, many years ago, when I wished for a "big D", depression was not what I was shooting for.
I'm just sayin'. I suppose I need to learn specificity.
Start with bowling.
Remove some of the pulse-pounding high-speed excitement.
And throw in a little housework, for good measure.
What a difference a few years makes in the experience of parenting.
I have three children and two step children, and I love them all. This isn't funny, but as I'm going to focus on two of them, I wanted to make sure the others don't seed a grudge which will, over the next 30 years, fester into a hatred that ends up in them being the one around when I stub my toe, telling the doctors "He wouldn't want to live like this. Pull the plug."
My daughter is 16. She's a fairly typical teenaged girl in some ways, and an extraordinary one in others. I say this in an absolutely unbiased fashion, because there's NOTHING to the stereotype that little girls have their daddies wrapped around their little fingers. I will swear to that even after she reads this and demands I make significant changes so as not to not embarrass her, and as I do so while convincing myself that those sections really needed rewriting anyway.
But Katie just came back from a school trip to Italy; a week in Europe with her high school band-mates. She had participated in numerous fund drives all on her own to raise the money for the trip and had even managed to save up a hefty sum for spending money during the trip. Her mother and I had asked if she wanted us to volunteer to chaperone the trip (a cheap excuse to justify paying for a trip to Italy), and she adamantly did not. She is clearly growing up and becoming independent in that wonderful, frustrating way children have.
Then there's my youngest, Liam, who is 6 and lives with me during school days and with his mother on weekends. Liam is a fantastic little boy and a joy to be around, but he's definitely still a child. For instance, he still regularly puts his shoes on the wrong feet. "Ow! Those are much too tight! Put them on YOUR feet!" I'll have to tell him.
And we regularly have conversations about words and what they mean and how to use them. Things like when is it appropriate to use certain words and why is it hurtful to use them at other times, or even "what does that word mean" when I use a particularly large word (not that I have pronounced polysyllabic tendencies or anything).
And so this morning, as we were sitting down eating our breakfast, Liam looks at me and says "Daddy, is Idiot a state or a town?"
Understand that while his vocabulary isn't large, his grasp of syntax is pretty good, so I was curious why he thought "Idiot" was the name of a place, but nevertheless we had a nice conversation about the word "idiot" and what it means and why it isn't a nice thing to call someone. I assured him that "idiot" was not a place.
He looked confused. I'm pretty sure he had heard the term "idiot" before in that context, but thought that maybe "Idiot" was also the name of a place.
So to try to alleviate his confusion, I asked him "Where did you hear that word?"
He said "From you, Dad."
From me? I'm pretty certain I hadn't used the term "idiot" in several days, almost certainly not in front of my son, and at 6 he doesn't usually hang on to things. When I ask him what he did at school that day, he usually "can't remember", so I figured he must have heard the term "idiot" sometime within the memory span of a goldfish, and I was positive I hadn't said it this morning.
"When did you hear me say that, Liam?"
"Just a little while ago. You said 'Katie's home. She's no longer in Idiot.' "
Boy, did that make me feel like an italy!Copyright © March 26, 2012 by Liam Johnson. http://humor.liamjohnson.net
So, it's that time again.
About eleven years ago, one of the members of my immediate family had to have a tumor removed from a sensitive area of the body, one which we do not like to discuss, but which acts as the body's "laundry chute" and which for the purposes of keeping this essay family friendly, we shall hereinafter refer to as "Melvin". This family member had stage one Melvin cancer.
Now, if you're going to have cancer, particularly in your Melvin, stage one is a fine stage to have, because it means that it's fairly small and localized and generally easy to remove and requires neither the use of chemicals toxic enough to declare your Melvin a SuperFund site, nor sufficient radiation to transform insects into giant hideous mutant monsters (as demonstrated in a series of fine documentaries produced in the 1950s and 1960s). This member of my family is fine, thanks for asking.
However, when someone in your family has Melvin cancer of any form, the doctors begin suggesting that you have some screenings done ("suggesting" in much the same way that if you chug a gallon of water, your bladder "suggests" you might not want to move too far from a toilet for a little while).
So it's time for me to have my "family portraits" done again, although oddly this particular photographer does not refer to the session as a "sitting".
I'll continue telling you about the procedure for having a Melvinoscopy in a short while, but first I want to relay a little interchange that went on between me and one of my coworkers, Chris, largely because A) it made us both laugh very hard, and B) without that interchange, I would probably not have been inspired to write today's essay.
Chris stopped by my office, and we were both lamenting the fact that it's the first Monday after the start of Daylight Savings Time, meaning that we're both dragging worse than a frat boy hauled to church by his parents on Sunday morning after a kegger on Saturday. Chris said "That's not the worst of it, I have a dentist appointment today", and so because we have the sort of relationship in which neither of us can let even the smallest item of our personal lives go unchallenged in an "oh, you think YOU have it bad, check this out…" kind of way, I had to tell him about my impending procedure, scheduled for Friday.
So Chris thinks about this for a while and says "Yeah, I guess I'd rather go to the dentist than that."
To which I responded, in all oblivious innocence, "I guess it depends on whether there are fillings involved." Honestly, as someone who fancies themselves something of a humorist, it shouldn't have taken Chris convulsing like an epileptic and turning all sorts of bright shades of red for me to recognize the greater meaning of what I had just said. I can't really imagine what such a filling would entail, but I have a horrible image of a toilet plunger filled with quick-hardening silvery glop.
Anyway, back to the procedure. Starting on Thursday of this week, once the lunch hour passes, I will be restricted to a "clear liquids" diet. This means I'll be able to drink water and chicken broth (which, if you've never had it, is essentially water with enough salt to pickle an ostrich egg and just enough chicken essence to render it the same pleasing color as a urinalysis specimen, but with a less attractive odor).
Then, starting Thursday evening, I'll have to start drinking copious amounts of a drink that, for legal reasons involving truth in advertising laws, is no longer called "GoLytely". Really, after drinking this, you'll "go lytely" in much the same way that a mosquito "lands gently" on the windshield of your car on the highway on a summer's night. But it certainly does accomplish the job of cleaning you out, which is what you're trying to accomplish, I guess. Plus, you get the added benefit that if you, like me, have an ex-spouse or two lying around, any of whom happen to like to accuse you of being full of, well, it
, then for at least 24 hours you can know definitively that medically, at least, they could not be more wrong.
Really, though, the "going lytely" and the hunger are the worst of the whole experience. And I'm quite sure that members of my reading audience who have not experienced this particular procedure are now saying "Well wait a moment, how can that be? I know there are certain portions of the body which are not designed for entrance by a camera, and I can only imagine that THAT part of the procedure, the 'up the down staircase' part, must be the worst part, right?" But you only say this because you aren't aware of the miraculous substance called "Versed" which they pump into your blood stream along with "Demerol".
Now, Demerol you've probably heard of, as it is a pain reliever that attacks pain in much the same way a rabid wolverine attacks a wounded rabbit. It is also a narcotic and would probably be a lot of fun in other circumstances.
The Versed (pronounced "Verse Said", after the tendency of people on this drug to recite mis-remembered music lyrics) is a drug similar to the Valium which is no longer prescribed to housewives in handfuls large enough to be technically classified as "snack food". Versed will not merely relax you, Versed will make it so that you feel as though you could not, under any circumstances, ever be tense again. Really, if Jack Bauer from the fine television show "24" had been given Versed at any point in the series, the fictional U.S. in that series would long since have been destroyed, and the last words heard in the series would have been Bauer looking at a mushroom cloud and saying "Really, it's kind of pretty."
Versed has another side effect, though, which is that it suppresses the transition of memory from short to long term. By which I mean that my first Melvinoscopy, I recall clearly getting dressed in the paper gown and lying on the gurney. I recall the nurse putting the needle from an IV bag into my arm, and then shortly before the procedure I recall another nurse coming in and inserting a needle into the IV feed. I remember watching interestedly as the differently-colored fluid flowed into my arm… and then I remember being on the phone with a friend, telling her that the procedure was over and having her tell me "Yeah, I know, you already called and told me that."
Now, this might be disconcerting to some, but believe me, it's come in very useful. When I was married, if I'd forget an anniversary, I'd just act as though I thought it was tomorrow, act surprised and say that it must have been a Versed flashback. Honestly, the only negative part to the Versed is that you don't get to remember the Demerol.
Really, though, I understand the necessity of this procedure, and I think it's a good thing to have, just in case. Still, I think after this, I'll go back to having my family portraits done at the Olin Mills portrait studio. And it'll be so nice to have my kids IN the portrait with me, rather than having to "drop them off at the pool" first.Copyright © March 12, 2012 by Liam Johnson. http://humor.liamjohnson.net
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But mostly, it was just the most boneheaded of times.
Regular readers of mine will no doubt recall that the main recurring theme of my oeuvre can best be described as "What stupid thing has Liam done today?" And generally, the Liam in question is I, your humble scribe, and so what makes today's little missive so special to me is that it BEGINS with something stupid Liam did and ENDS with something stupid Liam did, but only one
of the Liams is me!
The first Liam tale begins at the end of a morning commute in to work, perhaps three or four weeks ago. Now, I think we can all agree that when we arrive at work, we rarely are thinking "Yahoo! Let me jump right out of my car and race in to my desk, counter, lab or other workspace". Usually it's something more like "coffee... like coffee... must get coffee... coffee good."
Morning is not a good time for Liam, and it's generally best if he doesn't try to do anything complicated or important before he's reduced the amount of excess blood in his caffeine system(*), and on this particular morning if there were any coherent thoughts in his head as he pulled his car into the parking space, they would have been along the lines of how important it was that he get some coffee stat, before having to do anything important or dangerous, like operating heavy machinery.
It is never a good idea to interrupt an established pattern in life. Such as in the evening when one is showering and dressing for bed, being interrupted by a telephone call can lead to one waking in the morning to discover they've slept all night in a pajama shirt and no pants... and drooling toothpaste foam.
On mornings such as the one we are discussing, such interruptions-of-routine can mean the difference between a good, normal, boring work day and a morning spent frantically trying to figure out whether the engine (which is still running) will run out of gas before the locksmith can arrive to free the keys which are now locked inside the car, thus causing the battery to have to power the radio which is blasting loud enough to be legally classified as "demolition equipment" until that battery is reduced to a smoldering pile of battery parts, unable to generate enough spark to power a wristwatch, to say nothing of an internal combustion engine's starter motor.
And so you see where we're going here when, on successfully halting his car more or less evenly between two white lines on pavement (in much the same sense as wealth in this country is more or less evenly distributed), Liam decided to sit in the car for an extra minute and a half to hear the end of a radio news story which had caught what little pre-coffee attention he had on this particular morning.
Now, understand, this Liam owns a car with a key system which does not, technically, involve a key. It involves something called a "fob", which is basically a little rectangular block that somehow knows whether it is inside or outside of the car, a car which will stubbornly refuse to start unless authorized to do so by this little plastic know-it-all. And this "fob" is equally adept at authorizing the car to start from within Liam's pants pocket, so there's really never any need to take it out, nor any risk of its actually being locked in the car.
And actually, when the radio news story was over, Liam did somehow muster the wherewithal to turn off the car, so walking away leaving it running is not where this particular story is headed, either.
No, in this case, the net result of this break-in-the-routine came in the form of Liam learning what it feels like to be the pellet in a sling shot, as he opened the door and began to exit the car, only to be slammed back into his seat with all the grace of a whale on a bungee jump.
And thus did this Liam learn that seat belts can leave vicious seat welts.
Which brings us to the second Liam who, just this evening, concluded bath night and climbed out of the tub to towel off and begin dressing for bed. He was in the bathroom for some time, and when he finally emerged it was with the words "I'm having trouble."
A nearby casual observer looked up to find this Liam had managed to get his underwear so badly messed up that he was grimacing from some small discomfort, and what had ultimately happened was that he had accidentally put both of his legs into the same leg hole of his underpants. And although something had seemed wrong to him, he just couldn't figure out what, so he'd just kept pulling until the whole undergarment was around his waist, squeezing painfully.
One imagines that this casual observer had to work very hard to look concerned and comforting and not burst out laughing at the sight of a Liam, naked but for a pair of underpants twixt his waist like an overly tight belt, saying in all seriousness "Um, Dad, I'm having trouble."
And so now you've heard the tales of the two Liams, and all that remains is for you to figure out which one was me. But if you do figure it out, please don't tell me, I think the embarrassment might kill me... assuming I survive my ordeal.
Now where did I put those scissors?
(* In fairness, I can't claim ownership of this joke. This is a phrase originally given to me by my ex-wife. The first one. And by the way let me tell you, THERE is a differentiation I really never wanted to have to use.)Copyright © November 15, 2011 by Liam Johnson. http://humor.liamjohnson.net
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