A Quick Update! (And Santa’s Li’l Groupie)

Hey friends! Just wanted to let you know I’m taking a break from writing for a while to tend to some personal stuff. Hope you all had a great New Year, and thanks, as always, for being so awesome. 🙂

 

It was Christmas morning. The living room was shimmering with the glow of the Christmas tree as it illuminated the harvest gold medley shag carpeting, the kind you spiffed up for company with the shag rake from Sears. I was 4 years old, just old enough to be trusted to “rake the shag”. God, I wish that were a euphemism for something.

While everyone was busy shredding open their gifts, I stood in front of the plate of half-eaten cookies that had been left out for Santa, wide-eyed in disbelief, gasping, “Him ate his cookies! Him ate his cookies!”

My mother said, “Santa sure did! It looks like he really liked them, too! Why don’t you sit down and open some presents?”

I stood there, frozen, eyes still glued on the plate.

“Him ate his cookies!”

As I continued to process the gravity of the situation that had transpired overnight, tears welled up in my eyes and my chin started to quiver. I was completely overcome with emotion.

Presents wrapped in snowman and jingle bell paper with ribbons and bows, stockings filled with candy, I couldn’t be bothered to notice them. I wasn’t leaving that plate. Santa, an actual celebrity, the rock star of Christmas, had been in my house, and now I had proof via his teeth marks in a chocolate-dipped Rudolph cookie with a cinnamon red-hot nose.

My mother eventually had to take me by the arm and drag me away from the plate and force me to sit and open presents. As I ripped open my gifts from Santa, my gaze never left the plate across the room. He was here while I was sleeping the night before. Santa had been here. In my house.

I hid the plate under my bed for safe-keeping. It was the closest thing I had to an actual piece of Santa, and I hoarded it like a sweat towel from Elvis. I was star-struck. Absolutely star-struck.

They should have known then…

Twelve years later, the first of many, many, many rock stars I had to be physically pried off of was a man named Whitfield Crane.

Whitfield Crane is the singer for the utterly fun and early 90s-tastic band Ugly Kid Joe. You know, the “I Hate Everything About You” song? I loved them when I was 16.

My best friend Amy and I went to see them play in Fort Lauderdale at a venue called The Edge. We were 16 years old and it was the early 90s, which meant that we got dropped off in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and then had full, unsupervised run of a dozen bars until we got picked up well after midnight. Thankfully, we had only gotten into the car of approximately one or two murderers prior to that night, so our judgment could nearly totally be trusted.

After the show, the Ugly Kid Joe tour bus was parked next to The Edge and, like all good groupies-in-training, Amy and I hung around the outside of their bus after the show and waited for the band to come out. From a distance I could see that Whitfield Crane had made his way through the crowd and was sitting on the steps of the bus. A line of girls formed to say hi to him and to get his autograph.

“Get his autograph” is code for “Let him have a look at me and see if he wants to defile me.”

I don’t know if you know that, but that’s what that means. Universally.

Nobody actually gives a shit about having a piece of paper with some guy in a band’s autograph on it. The autograph request is a ruse – a red herring – a mere advertisement for a flashier product called “Do you want to do it in the bathroom of this tour bus?”

It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth. SORRY, MOMS.

As we approached the front of the line, I said to Amy, “How are we playing this?”

Amy said, “Cool. Like it’s not even anything.”

I knew Amy would play it cool, because she is the most skilled person I have ever known at playing it cool. Ask someone who has known her for thirty years what she’s thinking or feeling at any moment and they’ll say, “I have no idea. I don’t know if she likes me or hates me or even knows who I am.”

The woman could stare at you with a completely blank face while she gave birth, or won the lottery, or took hostages. She’s unreadable.

As we made it towards the front of the line, the girl in front of me stepped to the side and the full Whitfield Crane-ness of one Whitfield Crane was suddenly right there in front of me, in person, just two feet away from me, being Whitfield Crane, the guy on MTV, Whitfield Crane, and he was looking at me. With his eyes.

Whitfield Crane’s eyeballs were looking at me.

Cool schmool.  I lost it.  I sprung like a fat dog on a loose Snausage and pounced on him.

I can only hope the lizard part of my brain made me mumble, “Him ate his cookies” right before my lips met his face as I threw my arms around him, but you’d have to check with the police video on that to be sure.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, and may the force be with you, folks!  I’m off next week, so see you in two weeks!

(Sorry, I accidentally hit the “Publish” button on another piece I was working on that wasn’t finished yet, so I had to delete it!  It’ll be coming soon!)

Nobody Cares What You Like

This is purely an old person “get off my lawn” discussion, but I am fascinated when I see kids get asked what they want to eat for dinner and then get cooked separate meals from everybody else at the table.

You know what we ate for dinner when I was a kid?  Whatever my mother was making that night.  If you had a dissenting opinion, you could feel free to either go hungry or arrange to eat at a friend’s house that night.

For instance, I don’t like ham.  Never have.  I think it tastes and has the texture of what I imagine human flesh carved up and served on a plate would taste like.  If I have to eat it, I will gag.  I will involuntarily heave.  I literally cannot force it down.  Growing up, one of my friends didn’t like ham, either.  So what did we do?  She and I drafted the following reciprocal agreement in order to address our shared issue:

If my mother was making ham, I would eat dinner at her house that night.  If her mother was making ham, she would eat dinner at my house that night.

I believe they call that “learning priceless problem-solving skills” and charge like $1,500 nowadays for a workshop to learn them.

Granted, we did have that one night where both of our mothers were coincidentally making ham, but that was the night we learned that sometimes life is just out to kick you in the taco and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Yet another life lesson!

I can tell you for damn sure what none of the mothers in my neighborhood were doing.  They weren’t cooking four different meals to suit everyone’s tastes each night.

I can’t even imagine how hard my mother would have laughed if I’d said, “Oh, hey.  I know you’ve been at work all day at your crappy, low pay, high stress job that you hate, and I know that you’re making sloppy joes for everyone else, standing in front of the stove still wearing your work clothes, but can you make me chicken fingers instead?  You know, just for me?”

You would still hear that laughter today, echoing through eternity, bending space and time in its wake.  I would have never lived that down.  That would be a story that was passed down to all future generations:

“Can you believe she thought I would make an entirely separate meal just for her?  Why stop there?  Why not ask for your own castle and unicorn?!  Her own dinner!  Sure thing, Jackie O!  I’ll get right on that!”

Same goes for stopping at multiple fast food places.  If I’d said to my mother, “I know everyone else is getting Burger King, but can you make an extra stop so I can get some Wendy’s?” she would have just lost control of the car and driven into a lake, she would have become so delirious with laughter.

You knew better than to complain about your lack of fast food choices.  You were lucky when you got fast food at all, and not the frozen cube steaks and sauerkraut Mom forgot to take out to thaw that morning.  You’re gonna get picky about the fast food?  Oh, that’s rich.  Why not get picky about free candy on Halloween while you’re at it?  Get picky about the denomination of bills in a birthday card!  But I wanted fives!!!

tenor

It wasn’t because my mother was a harsh parent – far from it.  It’s because dinner was an event that was grounded in facts.  Dinner = whatever Mom was making that night.  That was a fact.  The idea that children might have been permitted to have an opinion on the matter was totally unheard of.  It never even crossed my mind.  Did I have an opinion on whether she should pay the property taxes quarterly or once a year?  Nope!  Because my opinion wasn’t relevant to the matter.

The same way that your opinion is irrelevant as to whether the sky is blue or the sun rises in the east.  If you have issues with these things, you better find a way to deal with them, because the sun ain’t rising in the west just for you, babycakes.  You’re not entitled to have the world skitter around your likes and dislikes because, I can assure you, absolutely nobody is as concerned about your likes and dislikes as you are.

If you care 100%, then the rest of the world cares negative 500,000,000%.

Nobody cares what you like – and we all need to come to terms with that.

Like Mom used to tell me, “You are so special…” and then she’d pause and say “…juuuust like everybody else.”

That’s not only accurate, but will sure as hell keep you humble, too.

Sometimes you have to eat something for dinner that you’re not crazy about.  What can I tell you?  Life is hard, kid.  It’s one meal.  Either force it down or load up on side dishes that night.

Now get off my lawn.

You, You, You, Otter Know!!

Look, maaaybe I’m guilty of blocking children’s view of the otters at the marine conservation center.  What is that?  A CRIME?

(Please note in advance that this post is what is often referred to as “a joke”.  Your children are adorable, some of my favorite people are children, blah, blah, blah, etc.  Do not send a Mom Mob after me.  I’ve got enough problems trying to get the Beauty Battalion off my jock for insulting their lie-brows and suggesting that “contouring” is over.  They already wrote “You’re dead, bitch” in bronzer across my driveway and came back later with highlighting powder to really make it pop.)

I get way more enjoyment out of the otters than your kid ever will, and I can say this because your kid can’t be bothered to put down his Nintendo Switch long enough to notice the otters to begin with.  Ignoring otters?!  THAT should be a crime.

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Yeah, we’re all reeeally excited that you rescued the Fortnite princess from the Tetris castle or whatever, Bryson/Greyson/Flotsam.

My attention to otters can best be described as utter otter devotion, and should be rewarded as such by naming me “Honorary Otterkeeper” for the day, where I will get to wear a glittery badge and feed shrimp to the otters from a souvenir bucket that I get to take home with me that says, “That’s an-OTTER story!” on the side with a picture of two otters reading books and wearing glasses.

I would get a personal invitation to the birthing of all baby otters and unlike SOME PEOPLE who have “Little League practice”, I would actually show up every time.

I would give the baby otters interesting names, too, like “Ottermatic For The People”, “And Then There’s Maude-er”, and “Genesis But Before Peter Gabriel Left The Band”.  I wouldn’t give them some totally lame name a kid would give them, like a cat with white paws named “Socks” or the tiger-striped cat named “Tiger”. You’re really breaking the creativity bank there!  What are you, 8?

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Oh, so you actually are 8?  NO EXCUSE.  NEXT!

Don’t worry, you’ll get your turn at the otter tank, Bryson/Greyson/Flotsam – not that you even care!  Your parents are the only ones who are having a conniption over me blocking the tank, anyway.  You were probably here last week and you’ll be back again the next week because for some reason children get to do all the vacation things ALL THE TIME now.

Know where we went when I was a kid?  School.  If school was out?  Home.  You only got taken to an otter tank if your parents had some kind of hideous news to spring on you, like you were moving to Goober, Idaho (Shout out to my fellow Overboard fans!),  or had an incurable form of Leukemia.

Curable Leukemia would only warrant a trip to the McDonald’s drive-thru at best, and there would be no special orders.  You’re getting crushed peanuts on that hot fudge sundae even though you don’t want them, because THAT’S the way it comes.  Hell, you’re getting them even if you’re allergic to peanuts!  “Toughen up, Sally!” is what they’d say as you turned purple and lost consciousness.

If a kid had asked to go swimming with dolphins, any of our parents would have just pointed to the open ocean and said, “Go for it, asshole.”

If you ever, ever made the mistake of saying, “I’m bored!” it was immediately met with, “Then go clean your room.”  (This was a brilliant parental move, by the way.  We figured out pretty quickly to stop complaining that we were bored.)

I mean, for the love of Mike, people.  Otters don’t cut it with these kids?  If your kid is non-plussed by the glorious sight of frolicking otters, I have serious concerns for how they’re gonna feel someday down the road about doing their taxes.

Come to think of it, if I took a kid to an otter tank and they rolled their eyes like, “Whatevs!” I would make them actually do my taxes that year as punishment.  You think third grade is hard?  Wait until you see U.S. tax code.  And I better be getting a fat refund, kid, or your ass is grass.  Orphanage City, sonny boy!

Now, I have heard it’s good to provide children with “motivation”, so I would at least be kind enough to leave my to-do list next to the tax papers:

  1. Take ungrateful kid to that orphanage in the sewer with the scary clown in it
  2. Pick up dry cleaning
  3. Order cake for celebration now that ungrateful kid is living in that orphanage in the sewer with the scary clown
  4. Turn ungrateful kid’s room into otter habitat

(The foregoing are just several of the many reasons I am not permitted to have children.)

All right, hate-mailers, put down your weapons.  I’m sure your kid who can’t be bothered to fawn over otters is going to turn out just fine.  Everyone knows that bored, demanding children only become more pleasant to be around when they become teenagers.  Enjoy your time in Hell, is what I’m saying.

Fine.  So like all old, childless people, I think a lot of “kids today” are spoiled.  That’s a new one!

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room.” – THIS IS AN ACTUAL SOCRATES QUOTE FROM LIKE 450 B.C. SO GO BLAME HIM FOR STARTING THIS

If you want to get uppity about it, just know that for my punishment I will have to train an otter family to change my diapers for me when I’m old, I’ll die with no heirs and will be tossed into a shared hobo burial pit, and the only proof that I even existed will be a souvenir bucket with “That’s an-OTTER story!” on the side with two Winger cassettes inside, so relax.  I’ll get mine.