Sweet and Then Sour; A Five Year Old Imitates a Popular Gummy Candy Although the Order is Reversed

I habitually call home as I leave work. I do this because I love my family and I can spend a few extra minutes interacting with their minds, even though we aren’t physically together.

A couple of days ago my wife was busy straightening up our board game cabinet. (We are huge board game people. Our Christmas tradition is to buy a game for the family. This year is going to be Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots and I couldn’t be more excited.) She was a little stressed so she handed the phone off to the five year old boy we love so much.  I asked him how his day went and shortly after this conversation petered out he said “You’re my favorite sweet-pea.”

I responded with similarly sappy drivel and said “Thank you, buddy! You’re my favorite sweet-pea too!”

I drove on for a few seconds reveling in the pure love my son had just expressed. My son was silent also and I could hear muted conversations in the background over my son as he breathed right into the phone.

I was nearly startled off the road when he snarled “I’m going to fight you.” It sounded as if a demon had stolen the phone and spoken to me from the depths of the appalling Inferno envisioned by Dante. I was understandably taken aback and remained silent for a moment before uttering a tentative “What?”

“I’m going to fight you!”

“You’re going to bite me?”

He wasn’t speaking clearly and my brain was busy composing a “The power of Christ compels you!” type of speech.

“No. I’m going to fight you!”

“But…wh…wh…wh…wh…why?” I stammered, confused.

And then, in a sweet, nearly sing-song voice he said “Because you’re my favorite sweet-pea!”

“Why would you fight your favorite sweet-pea, buddy?”

“Because,” he said, “you’re my favorite sweet-pea!”

I’m still pondering whether or not to contact some Catholic authority.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy your family despite their occasional demonic quirks.

A don’t…forget the look up the Pope’s address. You know. Just in case.

P.S. Here’s a demonic quote from my seven year old daughter, just so you understand my concern: “I’m thankful for the dead people because they died.”

Sweet dreams fellow bloggers and blog readers. I hope your family is much less demented than mine apparently is.

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Halloween and Trust; A Holiday We Love Incorporates a Virtue Society Needs

This Halloween I left my house at 6:30 to pick up my kids from their mom. As I drove through my neighborhood, I saw the first few early bird trick-or-treaters flitting quickly from house to house and it brought a tear to my eye. I didn’t understand exactly why until I got home with the kids and we began our own evening of candy hunting. As I watched the kids running from door to door, crossing the street on a whim, laughing and hollering about which house was next, staying just within the boundaries of what I thought to be a safe distance from me, I realized I had teared up earlier because Halloween is such a trusting holiday.

This may sound like a strange idea, but our Halloween actions truly denote a level of trust in our neighbors that I hope we never lose. We put our children in costumes and canvas neighborhoods, sometimes not even our own, in attempts to take candy from strangers in the strangers’ own territories. On any other day of the year, we’ve lost our minds! But that one night a year it is perfectly fine to throw all the rules out the window and trick-or-treat.

I worry a lot. I worry about things that most other people probably wouldn’t even consider.  When I first published my book I got back onto social media, which I had shunned for approximately two years, and I was sick to my stomach with worry that I’d somehow overly complicated my life. My wife is a saint in sinner’s clothing though, and she showed me the ridiculousness of my concerns when she stated, in a whiney sing-song voice, “Oh noooooo….I have a Faaaacebooook!” It really put the situation into perspective. The point I’m making here is that, despite my sometimes crippling worry and anxiety, I felt no concern as we walked in the middle of the street in the dark begging for treats from people we didn’t know. The few cars we saw drove so very slowly as they passed that a kid would’ve had to really try to get hit.

What about the candy?, some might ask. But in all my own trick-or-treating years and the 8 I’ve so far shared with my children, we’ve never suffered any illness other than nausea induced by over-indulgence. We’ve never found a razor blade in a caramel apple or rat poison in a candy bar. In fact, the only behavior approaching inappropriate I’ve witnessed has been on the part of my own children. Last year, the first year we handed out candy after our own trick-or-treating, my four year old son innocently enticed other children to enter our home. He is fast, reached the door before we could, and stood with his arm outstretched into the living room pleading, over and over, “Come in, guys! Come in! We have caaaaaandyyyyy!!!!” This year he and the girls stood at the door, with my wife and I close behind, and at the first hint of the sound of trick-or-treaters they bolted. Most of our visitors this year were met halfway down our driveway and had three children excitedly encouraging them to take candy from three different buckets. Most of the candy they handed out was candy my children themselves had just collected. If an adult were to act in these ways the police would surely soon be summoned. And the treats they offered would’ve lacked candy’s inherent sweetness.

In short, there are some creeps and weirdos out there who ruin Halloween for some, but they are few and far between.  And, despite the mild risk, we still dress up every year and go out with trusting hearts to bring joy to our neighbors and ourselves. I especially enjoy the smiles the elderly candy-givers display as they try to decipher my son’s over-excited babbling. Most times he is complimenting them. A few gems from this year: “I like your rocks!”, “We have that ghost!”, (in reference to an inflatable yard decoration) “You should get three ghosts!”, “Thank you for candy, you have nice pants, I like your dog!”. And a less polite offering from my picky seven year old daughter as she held aloft a bag of granola (that was delicious, by the way), and in a horrifically loud voice in close proximity to the house from which she’d received the granola, “That guy gave me food!!???!!”

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy Halloween for what it is. A display of neighborly trust that we desperately need in these times of danger and uncertainty.

A don’t…be too hard on your daughter if she’s mildly (very) rude. After all, kids have been trained by the very name of the act of trick-or-treating to expect things they consider treats. But adieu…gently advise them not to look a gift ghost in the black cavity that represents a mouth.

 

 

 

Mothman: Another Misunderstood Monster

As far as I can tell from all the Mothman stories I’ve read and that one movie I watched, Mothman, although menacing in appearance, was after nothing so substantial as our very souls.

I’ll explain. I read no accounts of disemboweled animals. No eviscerated owls or exsanguinated cattle were ever found that I know of. Simply humans. Frightened horrified humans. And what is one thing that all humans, especially suburbanites in the 50’s, have in common?

They have clothes on. Right? No one that I read about was out for a nude stroll when Mothman confronted them. They were out with their families having completely G-rated (and in the case of the teens that saw him/her/it no more than PG, it was 50’s conservative suburbia, for crying out loud). They were wearing clothes!

Moths eat clothes. Men wear clothes. Mothman was either hungry or ashamed of his nudity. He didn’t want to horrify folks. He wanted to eat their Sunday best. He didn’t want to scare them. He couldn’t help that, by nature, he was scary. He wanted to either eat or wear their clothes and he hesitated. He never killed anyone because he just couldn’t decide which clothes looked tasty and which looked fashionable and I think, deep down, he didn’t want to kill anyone anyway. Otherwise, he would’ve.

Now, about that bridge collapse and the idea that Mothman prophesied it. Perhaps he truly did. But I think, in his innocent monster way, he didn’t show up to warn people about it. I don’t think he truly realized that people were dying. I think he simply thought “CLOTHES BUFFET!” And all the carnage was lost on him because it all had this decadent stagnant water sauce on it and he didn’t even stop to think about the terror that had been wrought on the small community he’d been terrorizing. He was, after all, a monster. A hungry, naked, confused monster.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…wear clothes, even though it might attract mothman.

A don’t…stroll nude to repel him. The police are much more prevalent than mothmen and much more likely to complicate your life should they find you unclothed in public.

The Venting: Some Illogical Ranting and Raving Inspired by Inconsequential Inconveniences

If you’d care to read on, I’d like to rant and rave wildly about a few things I find mildly irritating.

Let’s start with the two lane drive-thru and the myth that it is faster. The speed of this is a mere illusion. Yes, the lines seem shorter because they bifurcate but there is still only one window. Therefore, even though you may get to place your order faster you’ll still be stuck in the “it’s my turn why are they cutting me off I’m gonna nose in front of them and hope I don’t mash my car I know I finished ordering before them why are they so rude?” bottleneck. And then there’s the “cars are moving through faster than usual because we have two lines converging into one meaning double the orders in the same amount of time so most people are going to have to park and wait anyway” bottleneck. I just don’t get it. One line is just as slow. Two lines need two windows. Just a thought. It really doesn’t matter.

Next, how about the fact that Halloween is still nearly a month out and yet most stores have given valuable seasonal shelf space away to Christmas already? I wasn’t done shopping for Halloween. It isn’t selfish to demand that we finish one season before proceeding to the next is it? I don’t want to feel haunty and cheery at the same time. It ruins both seasons for me. I suppose I could just do a mash-up and craft some rabid reindeer pulling a zombie Santa in a coffin sleigh with fake-blood fountains spewing from the exhaust pipes. But then I’d feel I was ripping off a popular Halloween-Christmas movie mash-up I’m sure you’re familiar with. Oh well. So much for originality. Boo to early Christmas. If you love Christmas (I do too, but not when it detracts from Halloween) thanks for reading on anyway.

Finally, silly texting while driving deterrents. The science behind the danger involves driver distraction. I guess, then, it only makes sense to distract people from texting and driving by littering the highways with flashing billboards shining quirky mantras about the dangers of distracted driving straight into the “let’s forget what we’re doing and look at the shiny thing” centers of drivers’ brains. Granted, it is a momentary distraction and not a “Gotta-let-the-significant-other-know-about-that funny-slogan-I just-read-right-this-instant” temptation sitting right in the lap or center console. But have you ever been behind someone who suddenly screeched to a near stop to get a better look at something? I think those signs are just as dangerous as the act of texting while driving. Ultimately it comes down to personal responsibility and consideration for the safety of others.  No flashing, distractive sign can instill that. If it wouldn’t further contribute to the problem I’m ranting against I’d print and sell a bunch of bumper stickers that say things like “Quit reading my bumper sticker and drive!” or “I was involved in a near fatal accident because I was paying attention to the humorous slogan plastered on another drivers car instead of the road.”  That’s a good one because the print would have to be really small and drivers would have to get dangerously close  to read it. I sarcastically proclaim that we can only fix the problem by first making it worse. Envision a man shaking his fist at the sky as he stands on a hill overlooking a highway awash in the glow of flashy signs begging people to watch the road and not the signs. And then, as the crashes pile up, clogging the roadway and causing further collisions, picture him laughing maniacally as lightning flashes around him. Probably he drools a little bit. Perhaps he falls to his knees at some point.

I now concede my soap box. Feel free to climb on up and shake your own fist if you’d like.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…forgive my sarcasm and negativity. Ranting and raving is a hobby of mine and I enjoy doing it at the slightest provocation.

A don’t…text and drive, drink and drive, read bumper stickers and drive, read billboards and road signs (other than the ones that advise you of road conditions and traffic rules, of course) and drive, or read this blog post and drive. Just drive. If not for your own safety, do it for the safety of your fellow man

 

Let’s Conspire! Here’s a Theory to Get Us Started

I present to you a real cake-taker of an idea. This idea was presented to me as a truth, or at least as a perceived truth. It has some flaws, but my reason for posting it is so that perhaps a dialogue can be started to iron them out.

The theory goes something like this: Hitler was on the verge of creating a gas that would only kill Jews. I already asked the first logical question; “How?” The answer was that the gas isolated some genetic…bit, for lack of a better word…that was specific to Jewish people and then, somehow, killed them with it. Hitler never got to use his gas, as it was still nearing completion near the end of the war.

In case all that wasn’t quite enough, the theory goes on to state that a certain environmentally conscious former Vice President got his hands on the formula, modified it to only kill cows and then procured several crop dusters. He is planning to fly these over every cattle operation in the U.S. so that, with cows extinct, we must all become vegetarians. More questions arise here. So I asked them. First was “If he only kills the cows won’t people just resort to filling their pastures with deer or bison?” Burger lovers like myself could certainly make do with another form of burger as long as it included meat of some sort. Beef is preferable but not necessarily necessary. Second was “Once the people realize what’s going on won’t they simply keep watch and shoot all crop dusters out of the sky?” The first question was never answered, although I assume the answer is he’ll eventually kill all those too. This of course implies that he doesn’t care for the environment at all, as mass extinction is not extremely environmentally friendly. The answer to the second was that it would be so well coordinated that all the ranches would be hit simultaneously.

You’d think that would be enough. It wasn’t. The next stage somehow has the has-been V.P. owning the only car in America and going door to door confiscating every gun in the country. And that, finally, was enough.

Now, there are those out there who wouldn’t stand for such things and there are those who would shrug their shoulders and live on. If you wish to participate in any discussion you should probably decide which side you’ll be on.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…keep an open mind. Stranger things than this have turned out to be true.

A don’t…judge me for sharing. This is a theory held by at least one person that I know. There may be other believers out there somewhere.

Multiple Burnings; Perhaps I Should Be Concerned

About a week ago I nearly burned down my house. It wasn’t purposeful, despite Freud’s input on the subject of accidents. I had the grand plan in mind of making a Halloween decoration. I bought a plastic skull on a pedestal at the dollar store with the idea of putting a candle in the top and answering the door for trick or treaters while holding it and offering an Alfred Hitchcocky “Goood Eeev’ning” before dispensing treats (and bookmarks depicting my children’s book. A shameless marketing ploy, forgive me).

“Here’s a nice led candle!” My wife wisely stated as I fantasized about the most spookiest time of the year.

“Real.” I dumbly asserted. “I want to be authentic.”

So we bought real candles. The tapered kind. I decided I wanted wax dripped all over the non-authentic skull. I carefully cut a perfectly sized hole in the skull and placed one of my candles inside. I (dumbly) waited until the next day when my wife was at work and set the thing on the kitchen counter. I lit the candle and let it burn while I did dishes. After dishes, I cooked breakfast and ate while watching documentaries on YouTube. After this I checked the candle, saw that it was nearly halfway burned down and thought to myself I’ll go to the bathroom and then blow out the candle. 

Only, I didn’t blow out the candle. I went to my room, sat in my bed and played Fallout. A guilty pleasure I sometimes engage in due to my obsession with survival skills and post-apocalyptic living. Several times during my foray into fantasy I considered going to get my glasses. They were on the kitchen counter. Several times I decided that not getting up was preferable to reading the dialogue on the screen.

After a while I began to smell something. I wondered absentmindedly why someone would be burning plastic.

The smell got stronger, and I absentmindedly wondered why they were burning so much plastic.

I didn’t become concerned until my English Mastiff, Stella, burst through my bedroom door, whining. She hid as well as she could under my bedside table, which wasn’t very well at all. She’s a monster. Basically she hid her nose under the bedside table. Several things clicked in my brain then, and I sprang from my bed uttering words I am normally loathe to use. I tripped over my blankets, my dog, my own feet. I ran to the kitchen to find a flaming puddle of molten plastic on my counter and, somehow, another on my floor a couple of feet away. The house survives but I’m going to replace a countertop and a good chunk of floor.

Unfortunately for my wife, she decided to keep me.

Last night I was attempting to light a candle the authentic way, with a wooden match. My wife was standing nearby, to her detriment. I’ve realized she loves me to her detriment. As I struck the match, the tip caught fire then broke cleanly from the…handle?…of the match and landed, flaming, on her shirt. We both stared at the tiny conflagration for a moment before I punched her in the stomach to save her life. Not hard, mind you, just hard enough to save her life.

In less than I month I’ve nearly burned down both my house and my wife. It seems it runs in my family. My dad has had some very close calls with fire most, as are mine, of his own making.

My poor mom. My poor house. My poor wife.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…avoid me. Just avoid me. If you value your life and the in-charred status of your home, body and belongings avoid me.

A don’t…judge me. Pyromania is a genetic trait.

Reverse Innovations in Home Defense

I daydream about being robbed. Not because I want my family endangered or my things taken. I daydream about it because I want to try out my proprietary home defense technique. It’s much cheaper than an alarm system but the trade off is that it requires some training and practice. On the plus side, though, the components required are low-tech, inexpensive and easily obtained. These items are a clown mask with a lot of white on it, a black light and a large knife or cleaver. The idea is that you would have to hear someone breaking in and then, avoiding panic and without succumbing to the groggy stupor of being suddenly awakened, turn on the black light, pull on the clown mask, grab the cleaver and wait silently in a closet or behind a door for the intruder. When the intruder is in the room and digging through your things, spring out waving the knife wildly above your head and making the most horrible psychotic clown laughing noise you can.

The goal is to scare the person so badly that they pass out from fright and are easily apprehended. But I discussed this idea with a co-worker of mine and he pointed out that it could easily backfire. The intruder could blindly begin shooting or pounce on you. He also brought up the possibilities that the person could lose control of their bowels and bladder or simply collapse and die, leaving you with a much more complicated mess on your hands.

I agreed with him that these could happen and he suggested an alternative. He said that he had already perfected the technique and it also required little in the way of supplies and even less training than my idea. He said that he took a light bulb, drilled a small hole in the base and put in a little gasoline. He took the bulb outside with a lamp and an extension cord and found the contraption to be quite effective. He said that fire and glass shards went everywhere and so he declared his experiment a success. His plan was to change the light bulbs every night and if someone broke in simply sneak out of the house.

It was now my turn to point out the flaws of his plan. I was excited because there were many. I asked what would happen if they, like most robbers, refrained from turning on the lights in the house they were robbing? If they act in a sensible robbing manner, you’ve just abandoned your house to be robbed unhindered. My co-worker thought for a moment before deciding that he would simply flip the main breaker every night and flip it back on as he fled the premises  or install clappers and clap as he left. I opened my mouth and before I could speak he indicated that he would carry some sort of protection, such as an umbrella. I didn’t bother to tell him that umbrellas aren’t known for their flying glass shard stopping abilities or for being flame retardant. They are, after all, intended to be used in conditions not conducive to successful fires.

Not finished deriding his ridiculous idea I then asked what on Earth he would say to the police, fire department and insurance investigators. In as unintelligent sounding a voice as I could muster I suggested “Uh, well, someone broke into the house so, uh, I burned it down…”

My friend and I learned two things that day. Firstly that we would make terrible home security consultants and secondly that it’s truly amazing either one of us are still alive.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…be cautious when you purchase home protection. Investigate fully the capabilities of the systems you consider and stay away from booby traps. In addition to being illegal, they will likely be more harmful to you than they would to an intruder.

A don’t…try either of the ideas presented here. They are truly reverse innovations in that they do the opposite of what they are intended to do and while they can nearly guarantee bodily harm and property damage to intruder, they are likely also to do the same to the intruded upon.