My Son The Calvin

In the amended words of Braveheart: “I give homage to Bill Watterson.” Anyone who has read Calvin and Hobbes and watched Braveheart will understand these references.

My son is Calvin. In the actual words of Braveheart’s girlfriend “He declares it to me, I swear it.” My son plays in the backyard. He comes inside with grass stained knees. He manipulates me to maximize his time outdoors. He has a vivid imagination. His hair sticks up at odd angles. He even has a Calvin-esque face.

My son is Calvin.

Just today we were outside digging a hole because we had nothing better to do. It began to thunder and my daughter said, “We should prolly go in ’cause thunder is scary.”

I said, “Yeah. Let’s go in.”

My son said, “Can I do one more dig?”

I said, “OK.”

My daughter and I headed for the house while my son scooped his last shovelful of earth. As is his adorable/frustrating custom, he then scooped and second, third and fourth shovelful. We were close to the back door when the most ridiculously close thunder strike I’ve ever borne witness to struck our general vicinity. My Calvin ran from his dig spot, eyes tightly shut, toward the house.  He was on a collision course for the door frame. I grabbed him and, with fatherly concern for his safety, yanked him backward.

When we got in the house he was screaming and sobbing all at once. “You left me!”  He screamed.

“No.” I asserted. “You had your eyes closed! I didn’t leave you. You kept digging even though I told you not to. I was here. You almost ran into the house with your eyes closed!”

“OK.” he said, sobbing heartbreakingly.

I held him close in what I hope was a reassuringly fatherly hug.

He agreed that I had not left him; rather I had helped him. He hugged me tightly and soaked my shoulder with his needless tears. My heart broke.

He was so scared I could barely contain my shame. At the same time I blamed him for not listening.

I do my utmost to insure his safety. He is the sweetest disobedient boy that anyone could ever dream. His cheeks are consistently darkened with dirt. His knees remain green. He always has a cut, bug bite or friction burn somewhere on his little body.

He is my Calvin.

He scares me to death, but I love him to death. He is the world’s greatest, most cliché little boy.

Calvin and Hobbes may be a reminisce from the past, but my son is a continuation of the classic little boy spirit.

I love him, and my two daughters, with a love that rivals the love of chosen Deity for the creation of faithful subjects.

Calvin and Hobbes is a deep, heartfelt and spiritual classic and my son is a continuation of this beautiful legacy.

He is my Calvin.

He is a consistently filthy, imaginative and tiny creation of the Great Architect.

I thank the Creator for this tiny, vulnerable and OK with who he is miracle  of the Milky Way cliché on a daily basis.

I  bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy your children for who they are.

A don’t…judge them for their foibles. They are doing the best they can in a broken and confusing world.

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The Railman and Involuntary Manslaughter: A Bit of Fiction, Perhaps Going Nowhere

Here is a bit of fiction I felt inspired to write. I bid you enjoy, or, if necessary, I apologize in advance. Thanks for reading.

When Ben Samson stepped into Lucky’s with his two compadres, it hadn’t been his intention to stick the place up. The mechanism on his belt was loose and it was clacking even louder than his spurs. He had been trying to tighten it up as Wiseman burst through the batwing doors. The hinges screeched and the heavy clomping of The Railman’s footfalls as he followed Wiseman undercut the shrill squeak with a menacing staccato bass. Samson barely noticed. He was accustomed to the brashness of the other members of his small posse. He continued messing with his mechanism, stumbling when the doors swung back and smacked him in the chest. He tilted backward; surged forward to regain equilibrium; shot through the doors clumsily, expecting tighter hinges. The toe of his boot caught in an uneven floorboard and he stumbled forward again, still fiddling with his belt. The latch on his calf released, allowing the barrel of his rifle to swing upward from its perch perpendicular to his leg. The barrel came to a rest jutting forward from his hip at a ninety-degree angle, driven and finally supported by the same infernal mechanism Ben had been performing maintenance on in the first place.
The man behind the bar was unaccustomed to being robbed. His establishment was not a bank, after all, but the severity of the trio’s entrance convinced him in an instant that a robbery was indeed occurring. He began filling the bar with anything of value he could find, spilling whiskey and beer over paper and coins in his haste to comply with orders that had not yet been given. He was so caught up in this task that he failed to notice Samson distractedly trying to wrestle his rifle back to its original position.
No one but The Railman noticed the batwings flying open again. He trundled forward noisily, drawn by the sudden movement. He now stood face-to-face with a tall, bearded man whose eyes widened at the sight in front of him. The bearded man drew a revolver from his hip and loudly ordered everyone onto the ground. What happened next happened so quickly that no one participant was able to recall the entirety of their own actions. The following account is pieced together from the combined memory fragments of everyone present, excepting, unfortunately, the bearded man:
The bartender ceased dumping valuables onto the bar. He froze in place with a bottle in one hand and a bowtie of bills crumpled in the other. Samson spun toward the sound and the rifle he had just secured came loose once again. It swung back up to its hip-fire position. The bearded man swung his aim from The Railman to Samson. Wiseman chortled and began digging through his pockets for his eyeglasses. The Railman swiveled to face the bearded man again and began to make a strange noise that was somewhat gurgle with a bit of wheeze thrown in. The bearded man’s eyes stopped bulging and his mouth dropped open. He flapped his lips a few times, but any words that may have been formed were lost in the growing noise coming from The Railman. It now sounded something like a tea kettle coming to a boil. The bearded man covered his left ear with his left hand. His right never wavered but held a steady bead on Samson who had once again nearly secured his rifle against his leg. The Railman’s whine increased steadily in pitch. Somewhere outside a dog yowled. Wiseman clapped his glasses across his nose then clapped his hands. The Railman began to emit a less ear-piercing but no less frightening noise that sounded like a train whistle muffled by dense fog. As he emitted this sound, a cloud of steam poured from his mouth. The bartender thawed out and hit the floor, his shirt sopping up spilled inebriants, his head and back assaulted by falling bottles. The steam hit the bearded man square in the face, reddening his skin and then peeling it back. It filled his open mouth and the screams he tried to scream were realized only in his own head. The bearded man fell backward. A bit of steam chuffed from his mouth and nostrils when his head bounced against the floor planks. His revolver fell from his hand and his overcoat fell open to reveal an iron star pinned to his vest. Wiseman stopped clapping. The Railman stopped emitting steam and his noises quickly cycled down to silence. Samson’s mouth dropped open and his rifle again sprang up to hip-fire mode. The bartender made a pathetic whimper and vomited, adding a new element to the soup of liquor and broken glass behind the bar. Samson passed out and fell backward, firing his rifle into the ceiling when his head bounced against the floor planks.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…watch for more of this if it was something you enjoyed. I may post future bits as I write them.

A don’t…hold your breath for the next installment. A lot of times my stories start out strong (meaning that I write a lot when I start a new story, not necessarily meaning that the stories themselves are strong), but peter out before I get to a conclusion.

Perfection Mis-Realized

Human tendency seems to be to meddle with perfection. We find something great and we immediately begin to formulate plans to make it better. Take, for instance, my back yard. When we first moved in, it was perfect. My house sits on 3/4 of an acre, which isn’t massive, but it is fairly huge. The house is on a small hill that slopes away to a beautiful flat meadow of lush, green grass. A large pecan tree stands to the northwest of this, shading a bit of less lush grass which gives way to a stand of bamboo in the far corner. To the north of the meadow is a raised pond planted with waterlilies. Below this, at ground level, sits another pond with waterlilies and lotus flowers. It was beautiful.

And then I decided we should drain one and fill it with sand to make a dig pit for my son. We threw up a swing set and a trampoline for good measure and I cleared off some beautiful grass for a garden. The garden is now a weed patch with a fence around it and it somehow sprouted a few vegetables. It looks like crap.

We mess with perfection. We find something nice and think “Hey, I can spruce this up a little bit.” And it ends up being crap. Either we are too ambitious and do so much stuff that the result is a cluttered mess of half-completed projects or we have no idea what we are doing and we end up turning something beautiful into an eyesore. This is the case with me, at least.

And this is the case with a certain shall-remain-unnamed chocolate sandwich cookie with mysterious white creamesque filling. These cookies have been perfect ever since I ate my first one at some tender young age I cannot quite fully recall. But I remember the cookies. And now they’ve changed. They’ve been changing and I hadn’t even realized it because I discovered the single positive change this particular cookie has made, the one which has been stuffed twice as full of the mysterious creamesque filling. I was buying some of those the other day and my laser focus was distracted for a moment by an equally addicted child asking if it would be acceptable to open the package in the car. I turned to assure him excitedly that we would most definitely be exploring the benefits of his amazing idea when I spotted the absurd abomination.

The white creamesque mystery ambrosia wonderful what-not pictured on the package adjacent to the one I wanted was a garish orange color and proclaimed to be candy corn flavored.

Why?

We have candy corn for candy corn flavor. Remaining unnamed chocolate sandwich cookies with mysterious white creamesque filling are perfect. We buy those when that is what we want. When we want candy corn flavor, we buy candy corn.

There are other abominations in the cookie world, but I am too disgusted to talk about them. The cookies were perfect. Why mess with them?

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy what you enjoy, even if it is an abomination.

A don’t…mess with something perfect. It cannot be made better and alterations take away from the original. It would be like cookie flavored pickles. We have two separate food items to fulfill both of those cravings. Eat the one you want. Exceptions are made for pregnant women or the severely depressed.

My Moon Rock

I used to have a moon rock. I found it when I was a kid. It was sitting on the side of a dirt road in New Mexico, approximately 30 miles from the Mexican border. Of course I took it home, bragged about it constantly and placed it in a prominent spot on a shelf in the living room. I loved my moon rock. It disappeared shortly after I discovered it and perhaps no event in my pre-pubescence has been so influential on my adult emotional status.

The previous paragraph likely left you asking a few questions. I imagine you may be wondering things like: “Where did it go when it disappeared?”, or “How do you know it was a moon rock?”, or “Why am I still reading this?”

I’ll answer all three of these in no particular order. Leave any additional questions in the comments and I’ll answer those too.

How did I know it was a moon rock? I know it was a moon rock because it looked just like a butt. It had two well-rounded cheeks with a crack between them and two little nubs that resembled the beginnings of stubby legs. It looked perfectly able to wear a small pair of pants, which I was in the process of making when I discovered the rock’s disappearance. My master plan had been to put the pants on it and then carry it around and “moon” people with it. Certainly the greatest plan I ever devised as a child; likely the crowning point of my life’s achievements to date had I been successful. Still, having the idea has to count for something.

Where did it go when it disappeared? I am honestly unsure. It is possible that it was an actual rock from the moon, or was a living creature from the moon, and the Mooners rescued it. This scenario is fairly doubtful. I’ve known only one out-of-the-closet Mooner, and it was no alien from the moon. It was my brother who climbed upon our trailer one day, mooned all the other trailer park kids and subsequently got us kicked out of our home. A more likely scenario is that my easily-offended-by-references-to-normally-pants-covered-body-parts father found it offensive and chucked it into the yard somewhere. Now its probably either slowly eroding in the New Mexico desert again or is in the pocket of some other ingenious kid who thinks its the funniest thing he or she ever found.

Why are you still reading this? This one is really on you, but I’m guessing you’re still reading because we are near the end, you’ve stuck it out this far already and you figure you might as well let morbid curiosity carry you through to the end. Spoiler alert: There are really no further revelations forthcoming. It was just a rock that looked like a butt and I’m still sad because I don’t know where it is.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy the irony of nature. I love it when nature mimics humanity and vice versa. Ad nauseum.

A don’t…be too proud of moon rocks. The Good Book says Pride goeth before a fall, or, amended and paraphrased to fit this case, pride preventeth the fall of tiny pants which would have revealed a charming geological derriere.

 

Fishing Stories III

This is perhaps the best fishing story I have. I went through a phase in my early twenties that resulted in my presence at Lake Eucha every evening after work. My younger brothers would come with me and, although we rarely made it home with an impressive catch, or any catch, I certainly enjoyed the experience.

On one such occasion, my brother became frustrated with our lack of success and defiantly tied a small hook he had found on the ground to his big toe. He sat at the end of a small wooden pier and dangled his foot over the edge. He had just enough line to allow the bare, sinker-free, hook to float on the water’s surface. My other brother and I made jokes about his supreme idiocy and focused on serious fishing. We became entranced by the delicious solitude and our cares floated out to the middle of the lake upon the misty silence where they died a horrible drowning death as befits their station. They sank like a Salem witch and, if they surfaced again, were labeled as such and dismissed with righteous derision. It was great.

The tranquility was soon broken by my idiot brother’s raucous celebratory noises. My sensible brother and I turned quickly to see ol’ dumb-dumb hopping up the pier with one bare foot in the air. Hanging from his big toe was a piddly perch hopelessly hooked on the bare hook the dingus had heretofore been hopelessly dangling in the depths of the lake from the joint of his largest podiatric phalange. His excitement was infectious  and we found ourselves senselessly overcome with an unexplainable euphoria.

We laughed ourselves silly as we unhooked the fish and returned it to its home, cementing in our minds a unique and wonderful memory.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…take fishing for what it is. A time for solitude and brief outbursts of excitement.

A don’t…put too much stock in the fanciest equipment. You can still meet some sort of success with the barest of supplies. Even if the catch isn’t impressive, sometimes simply catching something is impressive enough.

More Fishing Stories

I posted a few fishing stories last night. Remembering these events fished some older encounters up to the surface of my sea of memories. Here they are. Enjoy!

My brothers and I went fishing with our dad when we were teenagers. Dad is a singular individual, dissatisfied with relaxation. As I age, I identify with this. If I am not working in the yard, working on my course work or marketing my children’s book series (the first of which is called “How Sir Donkey Legs Became a Knight” and deals with a young boy who didn’t quite fit in until he accidentally “saved” a kingdom, and is available in paperback and ebook format from such reputable retailers as Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. You should buy the first, become hooked and wait breathlessly until I have enough money to publish the next installment, “Sir Donkey Legs Should Not be a Knight” which deals with the young knight’s sisters’ reactions to his erroneous accolades) I am not quite happy. As I lay prostrate in a hammock, attempting to forget the cares of a menial food service job, dad was above me in a tree, sawing limbs. We eventually burned them, but there were plenty laying on the ground for easy collection. I eventually had to get up, chased from slumber by the danger of falling branches. Later we traversed the perimeter of the lake so that dad could utilize his new net. It was weighted at the edges and had a retrieval line so that the fisherman could easily pull it back. Dad tossed it elegantly off a cliff, waited too long to pull it back, and it became entangled in submerged rocks. He stated his intention to not “lose my new net” and promptly stripped to his tighty whities. He then descended the cliff face hand over hand, dove, retrieved the net, ascended. It is bad enough when a  teenaged boy sees his father in wet tighty whities. Even worse when strangers pass by and he greets them heartily in his might-as-well-be-nude attire. How horrified I still am on so many levels, these many years later.

Once upon the same occasion, I, in a fit of woodsmanly premonition, froze mid-step with my foot hovering over a heretofore unseen baby copperhead snake. The youngster was coiled, ready to strike. I remained frozen, fearing the very worst. The snake, apparently a coward, suddenly slithered toward the lake…and my father. I screamed a warning and my dad, channeling a Comanche warrior, raised his small axe above his head and stood ready. As the offending bit of nature passed him he swung the axe with full force, producing sparks that, luckily, did not result in forest fire but could have. The snake escaped off of the aforementioned cliff with its head half-attached. It slithered in rather a funny way after dad had his way with it.

Our final tale comes from a former co-worker of mine. He said he had a friend who once rested a shotgun barrel on his boot-toe. An unintentional jostle resulted in the loss of the poor man’s big toe. A few years later, my co-worker and his friend were fishing from a boat. His friend fell off the boat, sliding chest first along the hull in the strangest version of falling off a boat ever. The man emerged from the water a short time later, screaming. When they asked what was wrong the man screamed, in a family-unfriendly display of angst, “I cut my titty off!”. And when the man again boarded the boat his friends found that, indeed, his nipple was missing. As he slid bare-chested down the hull, his nipple had caught upon some bit of roughness, excising the minute appendage from its natural perch. I asked my friend if he was still in contact with this man. He replied that he talked to the one-nippled, one-big-toed individual on a very occasional basis. I then asked if the man was now any more than a living nub and inquired as to whether or not the man had been successful in obtaining life insurance. No answers were forthcoming.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…exercise caution when engaging in any endeavor. Danger and humiliation are just around the next tree or bend in the river. Or, perhaps, just over the edge of the next cliff.

A don’t…forsake the outdoors. The clear and present dangers can sometimes provide stories that keep you and your wife awake at night with unbidden giggling.

Thank You Pizzas, Abe Lincoln, A Bit About Evolution: A Socially Awkward Man Struggles With Unfamiliar Issues

Imagine me as a caveman. I know you’ve likely never seen my face, but imagine it anyway, in caveman form. Now, imagine me meeting Abraham Lincoln who, I imagine, would say: “Four score and seventy million years ago (I don’t believe in evolution and am not ashamed to express this due to certain freedoms laid down, in Lincoln’s time, four score and seven years ago. I’m not sure Lincoln believed in it either, but who am I to speak for him? If you hold a different opinion, I offer no judgment. I simply ask the same in return.) our forefishes committed certain acts that ended in the two of us now meeting! I find this occasion pleasant and am pleased to make your gentlemanly acquaintance.” To which I, in caveman form or not, would likely respond in a series of guttural grunts and snuffles. I would wish to say: “Well met, good sir! Thou art a kind and noble soul, freeing those who suffer the utmost oppression and worrying thyself sick at the mortal cost of such actions. Would that a long and prosperous life were to avail itself to thee, thou man amongst men.”

But…

…I am socially awkward. So such an auspicious occasion as the one previously described would likely result in just the grunts.

I bring this up because today I watched a young girl for a friend of my ex’s. She is about the same age as my oldest daughter, so keeping her entertained was not an obstacle, but I worried myself sick about the silliest of things.

What if this girl is simply a spy sent to report upon the conditions of my household? I have nothing to hide, but exes have a way of making ammunition out of thin air.

What if her parents are angry that I let them play outside most of the day? I supervised them and utilized sunscreen, her parents sent a bathing suit with her, yet, what if she is an indoor child?

What if she has a mosquito bite?

What if the lunch I prepared was not considered nutritious enough?

And on and on my mind raced as I attempted to drown these thoughts in a book about Lincoln’s assassination while I sat in a rocking chair in the shade under the eaves of my house as the children played.

All this worry to no avail. Her father arrived, picked her up; it is now about six hours later and no ill report has reached my ears. All must have went well.

But…

…Her mother texted me shortly after she left and expressed her intention to have a pizza delivered to my family as a means of thanks. I expressed that no thanks were necessary. I understand the struggles of working and raising children. I am only too happy to help. However, I know how I would feel if I allowed someone to aid me without compensation, so I said that pepperoni is fine. Only if they felt it necessary, though, should a delivery man darken my door bearing cheesy, saucy, crusty, meaty goodness.

They felt it necessary, and the reward was much enjoyed!

But…

…The delivery man was the girl’s father. He works at a pizza place right down the street from us and he brought us two boxes filled with fresh, medium sized goodness and again expressed thanks on behalf of himself and his wife. I reiterated that it was not necessary but much appreciated.

As he left, I nearly vomited with worry. Another awkward social situation I’ve never dealt with before had arisen. Are you supposed to tip the thank-you-pizza delivery driver when the thank-you-pizza delivery driver is also he who wishes to thank you?

I didn’t…

…I’m worried that I either should or shouldn’t have.

Sometimes I dislike my brain.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…study the social sciences so that you know how to respond in situations like the one I’ve just described.

A don’t…worry yourself sick over it like I do. Pizza is great and should be lost to the toilet through the southern, rather than the northern, orifice.