Thursday, December 29, 2011

Apply, yourself

"Dad, can we watch Rent tonight?"
"Sure!" Then I think about it. "Well, depends what Corb's reaction will be when he finds out he has to sit through all that...ohhhhh..." I grit my teeth. "Shhh! Now listen, Ashes, I'm putting together all the stuff for your college apps. We need to concentrate on this."

And with that, I start to Google the next college on the list, so we can start the application.

Ashes nods and goes back to watching the fifth episode of Gossip Girl she's seen that day. Then, suddenly: "I want to play with her hair."

I look up from my typing. "What?"

"That girl. On the screen. I want to play with her hair. It's long, pretty, and blond."

"That's nice, Ashes. Now, would you mind it if we--"

"Oh my God! Did you just hear what Chuck Bass just said?"

Oh, my Lord. This kid! I decide to go travel down the path of patience. "No, Ashes, I was trying to concentrate on your college applications. You know, the ones that are due,"

"Oh." There's silence, except for the meaningless drone of Gossip Girl. Ah good, perhaps we can now make some progress! I start to type a little faster, unburdened by the curse of inter--

"Dad, didn't you say that Chuck Bass was from Desperate Housewives?"

--uptions. Dammit!


I glance up at the television screen. "No, Ashes. I said that the guy standing next to him was." Then, I squint my eyes. "But on second thought, I think I thought he was somebody else."

"I mean, don't you just want to slap him in the face? Chuck Bass. Like, ten years ago, I would have totally slapped him."

I'm not sure exactly what that means. "Ashes, why don't we turn off Gossip Girl for just a little while? I bet we can bang this out in ten minutes. It really doesn't look that bad at all, really. We can just turn down the noise and focus on this, and then, you can go back to watching Gossip Girl. Okay?"

"Oh. Sure."

I turn off the television. Silence fills the room. Ah, this is nice...silence. I glance back down at the screen, and start to review the next field that we have to fill. "Now then, it looks as if we need to--"

"Oh my God! Dad, did you see on TV that there's this family that's adopted five monkeys? They totally run around and torment the family. Have you ever seen a monkey holding a steak knife? It's kind of adorable."

At that point, I want to throw up my hands. This is sheer craziness! I wonder what the college app process would have been like if I hadn't asked for a little concentration...

And yet.

Above all else, I am acutely aware that I am going to miss all of this, ten months from now.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Killer queso.

"That was some killer queso dip you made tonight."

"How so?" Corb looks over my way, his beady little blues eyes shining. He's in the driver's seat, we're making our way home from Josie's house. It's Sunday night, around nine. We've just dropped the kids off.

"Well, let me think about this. First of all, the second we're done with supper, Ashes runs into the bathroom. Remember that? I told you it smelled like bad gas, after she got out, and you said it smelled more like bad ass? You remember that, right?"

"Oh, yes." Corb smiles, entertained with himself. "I did say something like that."

"Then we get to Josie's house, and the first thing I do is run upstairs to the kids' bathroom. I tell you Corb, I thought I was going to crap my pants!" I pause, turn away from him, stare outside at the pretty Christmas lights, examining the darkness in my soul. "In fact..."

"Ted, you didn't!"

"No. I didn't!" Beat beat beat.

"But I have to tell you, it was the worst feeling in the world. There I am, running up the stairs with this awful squishing feeling hovering around the edges of my ass, and then I get to the top, and I realize that the kids have closed the doggy fence. The doggy fence was closed, Corb! And I can't figure out how the hell to open the goddamn thing. And so I'm standing there, fumbling around, trying desperately to figure out how to unlock the thing. Hoping, praying. Meanwhile, things are pushing out and pushing out and I'm squeezing my butt cheeks tighter and tighter, and I'm wondering whether I can just climb over the damn thing but then I think that lifting my leg up might not be a good idea...

"And finally, I get it undone! I run into the bathroom, pull down my pants, and sploosh! It all comes out. All of it, like a flood. And I'm amazed I made it, because honestly, my ass cheeks couldn't have brushed onto that toilet bowl for more than a second before--"

"All right!" Corb screams out. "Ted, stop it! That's enough, really!"

I try not to smile. "But I checked my pants, just to make sure."

"Ted! Really, that's enough!"

"And they're clean. And I'm amazed! But then I go to wash my hands, and after that, I'm leaving the room and wave number two suddenly comes on. You ever have a wave number two?"

Corb shakes his head. "Yes, Ted. I've had a wave number two."

"And suddenly, I look down, and I notice there's...ploppage on the floor."


"I know! How could I not have noticed before?" I squirm in my seat. "I just don't get how it could have missed me. I mean, it seems like a mathematical impossibility, really. But I pulled my pants off, turned them inside out, checked my shorts, and still--"


"Well, there was nothing there. Can you believe it? Nothing there. Then you start knocking on the bathroom, and I yell at you to get away and use the downstairs. Josie must have loved the fact that we both went over there to use her bathrooms, huh?"

Corb grits his teeth. "Hey, Ted?"

"Yes, Corb?"

"You, I mean, about, ploppage. You cleaned up. Right?"

I roll my eyes. "Of course I did. She's not THAT bad an ex-wife. Anyway, that was some killer queso dip, Corb." I yawn, go back to looking out the window at the pretty lights. "Some killer queso dip."

That's when I felt another rumble in my tummy. Quickly, I roll the window down. "Better drive faster, Corb. Looks like wave three is on its way..."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

No debate about it, have yourself a merry little holiday season.

When it came to figuring out how to dress up my tacky little manger scene this year, there really wasn’t much of a presidential debate to be had. I mean, hands down, the Republican race has been the biggest source of unintentional entertainment for a while now…at least, for me. Combine that with an Occupy Wall Street background and badaboom! Instant American Manger, 2011 style.

It's been an interesting year, to say the least, but we got through it. Some of us even grew a little wiser, I think. I hope all of my friends have a great holiday season, a terrific Christmas (for those who celebrate the birth of the baby…um, teabag?), and good food plus holiday cheer in the weeks ahead. And, laughter. Lots of it.

My wish for the new year: Here's to many happy stories in the next twelve months, and the gift and ability to tell them well. I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store! I’m sensing good things in all of our stockings.

All the best,