Sunday, November 22, 2009

Revenge Is Sweet

This past Saturday, the wife and I managed to get three of our four children over to the house for a visit. Of course, with two of the four kids living in the house you would assume that getting the three over would be a cake walk since we only had to convince one to visit, but it's not. After a child leaves the nest, even if they come back to stay, as our two youngest boys are doing, they have this feeling that their life is their own. They don't have the same enthusiasm for coming over for a family dinner like they did at age 10, when life revolved around them. We now find that we are competing with game conferences, time away with friends, and other priorities.

For child number one it's getting all six of her kids in the car(s), and getting them to behave as they undertake the long journey to Papa's and Grandma's house. That half an hour, 16 mile drive must be hell for them. The grandkids are usually on their best behavior and why wouldn't they be, coming to our house is like winning a trip to a place called "Funland".

I don't know what your memory of your grandparents is like but mine, to be honest, sucked. I met my father's parents three times, (which is exactly how many times I met my father), and my mom's dad three times. Loved my grandmother on my father's side, as did everyone, tolerated grandpa, he was a strict southern man, mostly an unkind man, with occasional outbursts of complacency. Adored my mom's dad, but the miles were too great to have the relationship I wanted to. As for my grandmother I grew up around… well she didn't have the best life, 8 husband's in her 61 years, and she was never married to Grandpa. She battled every ailment known to man and womankind. Going to visit Grandma's was like going to see the World's Biggest Ball of String… exciting the first time but seeing it week after week, year after year. "Kid's, get in the car, we're going to visit GRANDMA!" "Wow, I can't wait." (Cue Funeral Dirge)

Our house, on the other hand, is the place to be and it's better than McDonald's, the zoo, or Disneyland. The wife and I are in a lifelong contest to be loved and adored more than any of the other grandparent's in their lives. We are not beyond slowly poisoning the others to death, if necessary. We are united in our goal to be number one and beyond. We want other people's kids to wish we were their grandparents. We're ruthless, ruthless parents.

But we are not without a motive for our enthusiastic approach to being grandparents. And we think, no we know, that the reasons for our actions are very justifiable.

We're enacting revenge upon our children for their behavior when we were raising them. What better way to do that then to be grandparents? And now, I've decided to break the vow of silence that all grandparents take and share some of our innermost secrets with their parents.

We love you. Hold that thought now…. got it? We'll come back to it.

Okay, what does 7-11, Baskin & Robbins, Mrs. Fields, the grocery store, Halloween, and our house have in common? You got it, SUGAR! Our number one goal in life is to see how much sugar we can pump into your children at least one hour before we return them to you. And they follow us like Lemmings! The definition of "Papa" is really "Free Slurpee's for Life!" Ice cream? You're not having a good time if you don't have at least 2 helpings, "would you like some chocolate sauce on that, oh look, caramel too!" Rules, we have them, but once you, their parents, walk in the door, most of them get suspended. Usually, it's when your mom says no to dessert because you didn't eat your dinner. Then we jump in and say, "but at Grandma's house" you always get dessert, especially when you don't eat your dinner. Perfectly behaved children are swinging from the chandelier as soon as you walk in the door. What's my favorite thing to hear the grandkids say? "Papa said we could."

Hey kids! Remember that time you sassed your mom, say that one time when you were 13-16 years old? Yea, we've got sugar revenge for that. Bedtime for your kids is what, 8pm? Papa says you haven't lived if you don't try to stay up all night watching TV and playing video games. Don't forget the sugar! "What, they're tired, I don't know why Sweetie, they didn't hardly do anything."

I'm surprised that my grandkids don't get Diabetes just giving me a kiss.

Are you still holding that "We Love You" thought?

You're childhood actions are responsible for our actions, because, we all know that for every action there is an opposite reaction.

And you, as their parents, can't do anything about it, oh, I'm not saying you can't or won't try. But if you enact revenge on us and ever ban them from coming over, we do have the final say, because, and pay attention, etch this little bit of wisdom into your minds.

We babysit for free and at the last minute.

Revenge is sweet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In An Insane World…

The company that I pay a hefty portion of my salary to, to insure my auto, home, and riding lawn mower, are running a series of commercials here in our neck of the woods to salute how different people in the Pacific Northwet are. One commercial focuses on "socks and sandals guy", a reference to those who wear socks and sandals at the same time, another is about the "blue tarp camper", acknowledging the die-hard campers who are out every weekend in the outdoors, even if they sit miserably around a very sad campfire, soaked to the skin, but under a blue tarp (because that makes it worth it). The idea is to salute their customers, like myself, and that they can be as different as we are. Sure, and one day you're going to come to your senses and refund all of the money that I've paid you over the years, just to be different. I'm not holding my breath on this one.

But I digress.

This is about levels of insanity and how our early childhood shapes who we are. Because, we are all a little insane, and while the quote "In an insane world, the sane appear insane" has a measure of truth to it, the trick seems to be to keep your level of insanity at a point that is tolerable for most of the civilized world, if not your neighborhood. For instance, if you find yourself running down the street naked, yelling "I'm a hamster, I'm a hamster", you have more than likely crossed the line from mostly sane to barking lunatic. I'm not saying that it's the worst thing you could do, but, I'm not saying it isn't.

I'm not a student of the human psyche, I think that I'm more on the psycho side. For instance, I used to be a Democrat, then a Reagan Conservative and now I'm just voting for the candidate that took the better picture in the voters pamphlet. I'm also not saying it's bad to be a Democrat, it's just that the reason I was one is because of everyone crying when I was five-years old. See, here is where the insanity comes in. When I was five John F. Kennedy died. And I remember watching the funeral on TV and everyone around me was crying. Of course, at the time I had three siblings, all under the age of four, and crying was their national pastime. But I remained a loyal Democrat because of that experience. Until I was old enough to vote.

The issue of aliens has been on my mind since I was four-years old. I remember laying in my bed at night, we lived in an area south of Seattle, and watching from my bed, the different searchlights that were advertising the new mall that had been built. I didn't know they were advertising the mall when I was young, I found that out later in life. But I was afraid of the "aliens" that the searchlights were trying to find in the night sky, maybe too much Buck Rogers. I remember that my mother assured me that there was no such thing as aliens. Based on this experience with the lights, and my mother's reassuring response, I determined that my mother lied to me. Because my mother said that there were no aliens I believed her. Imagine the emotional scars that I carry now, especially when I would watch the TV commercial, put out by the government each year that said; "If you are an alien living in the United States, you are required to register with the Department of Naturalization". If, as my mother said, there were no aliens whch would the government ask them to register? I'm going with the government on this one.

I think that it's crazy to put so much love and devotion into a pet as some people do. I've tried, but the truth is that there is a certain point when the vet tells me how much it'll cost to treat "Spot", that I start weighing the cost of the treatment with the cost of putting the dog down. More than $5 difference and that little doggy "Goes to Heaven"! I've had my share of pets and I believe that they can be very smart and fun to be around. However, I tend to choose my friends using the same reasoning that I have for choosing my pets. For instance, I don't tend to create a real emotional bond with an animal that in addition to fetching the newspaper, chasing the neighborhood cats, and giving me "doggy kisses", also barks at the air and eats its own puke and poop. I feel the same way about people. My motto is: "Never Take Advice From Someone More Screwed Up Than Yourself". Which explains why I don't have a close relationship with my brothers and sisters. And to be fair to them, they don't eat their own puke and poop. Barking at the air… well, insanity runs rampant in my family tree.

Marriage is a different type of insanity. Dating is when you go out into the world and actively try to find someone that is warped enough to say "I Do", which is really saying "I'm willing to have your babies", which is supposed to indicate that you're compatible with each other, even if it means you're total opposites. And marriage might be the ultimate insanity. I now understand that my search for a wife was really about trying to find someone that wasn't like me at all, I didn't need the competition. If you marry someone just like you it's tempting to go with every fashion suggestion that the other suggests. Next thing you know, matching shirts on the Christmas card, letting her eat off of your plate, one type of ice cream in the house, and kettle corn instead of real popcorn. Marriage is God's way system of checks and balances on your life.

Disclaimer: None of the above makes any sense and any sense that it does make isn't intentional. The events described are not fictitious and, in fact, are true, and bear resemblances to people living and dead. And please, don't forget to tip your waiter.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

They Say It Happens In Threes…

I know that some people would say that my most recent post could be compared to the story of the "boy that cried WOLF". I say, whatever conclusion that you made while reading is not my fault. You shouldn't jump to conclusions. Besides, this was the second time that some of you fell for my little writing deception. I don't feel for you, BOO HOO!

So, I'll give it to you straight. We've had another death in our house. I haven't even told my wife about it yet.

And I'm worried because "they", whoever "they" are, say that stuff like this comes in threes.

My favorite power drill died today. A few weeks ago it was my wide screen TV, now it's my power drill. What's next? My chop saw, my IPod, say it won't be my computer.

And yes, Ladies, I know what you're thinking. How could you be so upset over a power tool? Well, this particular drill has been around longer than my relationship with the wife. And yes, it is just a tool, but I'm a guy and so simple that if it was left up to me I'd drive a Jag and live in a grass hut like Gilligan. And yes, I'm more Mary Ann than Ginger.

Take an informal poll among your guy friends and they'll tell you. They'll tell you that they are very loyal to their tools. Sure, I have two more drills in my power tool arsenal, a Black & Decker corded unit that holds my Sears Quick Lock drill chuck and a Black & Decker cordless 18v that came as part of a kit. Okay, I admit that I use them occasionally, small jobs, and quick jobs, for the little things. But my old drill was like the Lone Rangers horse Silver, reliable. Our relationship was like Timmy and Lassie, peanut butter and jelly, Batman & Robin, butter on popcorn, Gilligan and the Skipper, Siegfried & Roy, okay, not Siegfried & Roy. But we were close.

Right now it's at the bottom of a waste basket at my church, where, appropriately it died, drilling through the mortar between bricks, just so I could hang a white board. And yes, they make noises when they die. Grinding, friction, and sparks. Lots of sparks!

Oh, the inhumanity.

And no, it wasn't the prettiest girl at the dance, but it could dance! It never ran out of power like the cordless, unless of course, I unplugged it. Sure it wasn't as smooth and light as the B&D corded, but, I ALWAYS GOT FROM IT WHAT I ASKED FOR. It never gave up. And in the end it just quit. Froze up harder than Walt Disney in his cryogenics Popsicle suit. I held it gently while I pulled the plug out of the outlet one last time. My fingers caressed the cord, bandaged with electrical tape in order to cover the many cuts, nicks and slices that it experienced over its long, long life.

This, my friends, is what they refer to as "durable goods". I loved it. There, I said it. I loved it more than any tool I have ever owned. Certainly more than any hammer, more than the dozens of screwdrivers that have been a part of my toolboxes over the years, more than any single socket or ratchet set I have ever owned.

Now, I have to choose a new favorite tool. Very difficult, very trying times. I'll have to spend some times with my individual tools, get to know them, see what they're made of, and put them through a few challenges. And in the end I'll have a new favorite tool. In a few days I'll wander out to the garage and get back in the game. You can't hurry things like this.

But it won't be the same. I'll never use a drill again without thinking about my ol' Skil, I'll use my other drills but they'll never replace this drill.

And a part of it is still with me, the chuck key works with my Black & Decker corded.

Do you think I can get bereavement leave from work for this?

I think I need counseling.