You Sunk My Battleship

When we were kids, making models was a big thing. You could get a model kit for existing cars, cars that didn’t exist, airplanes, ships, tanks, and even lunar modules. You would also get a temporary buzz from using the glue, a bonus at that age.

For my best friend and I, we were into World War II airplanes and battleships. We were heavily influenced by shows like “12 O’clock High” and “Combat” with a little “McHale’s Navy” for comic relief. We lived and breathed that war.

Of course, his little sister was into destroying them. Whenever we had a destroyed battleship, we gave it a burial at sea, which was only proper. This involved some tactical planning on our part and we were more than up to the task.

We figured some firecrackers, smoke bombs, a couple bottle rockets to imitate emergency flares, and some underwater fuse would do the trick. I’m not sure where we got the underwater fuse, but it was handy. The first broken battleship we filled up with these items and took a walk to nearby Lake Michigan. It didn’t go like we hoped…

We decided to use about 5 feet of the fuse and pushed our ship out to sea…or lake in this case. Every wave kept pushing the ship to shore. We took off our shoes and waded out further even though it was Spring and the water was still frigid. We tried it again, lit the fuse, then watched in dismay as an errant wave sunk our ship without letting us blow it up. We ran out and pulled the fuse and cut it with a knife to save what we could. We fished out the battleship and went home to take out all the wet fireworks because the model battleship was still good to go.

We realized that Lake Michigan was a lousy place to blow up a ship so we opted for a small pond next to the train tracks. The only sign of life in this pond were some frogs and a billion mosquito larva. Most of the frogs swam away and hopped on the shore on the other side so we didn’t have to worry about hurting them…yes, we were worried about hurting something that didn’t deserve to be hurt…except for the mosquito larva, we had no qualms about destroying them. They were acceptable battlefield casualties.

The only thing we did a little different was to put a balloon inside the hull and blow it up. We figured this would keep the ship afloat until the fireworks. It was a good idea…so we thought. We pushed the ship out into the water and it floated just fine. Then we lit the fuse and waited.

ME: Is it me or is the ship beginning to list sideways?

BEST FRIEND: It’s listing sideways…

ME: Oh no! It’s going to flip upside down!

Sure enough, it flipped over and we watched our fireworks get wet again. It was too late to pull it back and neither of us was willing to jump into the brackish water so we just watched as the fuse burned it’s way to the ship. Nothing happened. We used a long stick to get our ship back and went back to the drawing board. We were determined to make this work. We only had about ten feet of the underwater fuse left so we couldn’t really screw up again.

Our next idea was a better one. As usual, we stuffed the hull with fireworks but omitted the balloon this time. Instead, we stuffed the gaps with gasoline-soaked paper. Then we took two balloons, the skinny kind that people use to make balloon animals, and taped them to both sides of the hull. We filled up the kitchen sink and placed it in to see if it would float properly. It did and off we went back to the pond.

We pushed the ship out, lit the fuse, and waited. We could just barely see the lit fuse in the water and when it was only inches away, we backed away so we wouldn’t get hit by any plastic shrapnel. Then it blew up, creating loud pops and smoke before shooting a flame about three feet into the air. It was awesome!

ME: That was awesome!

BEST FRIEND: That was so cool!

ME: Do we have any more ships?

BEST FRIEND: No, but I’ll leave one that my little sister can reach…maybe.

Then we heard the shouting. About 200 yards down the tracks was the switching station for the trains. There was a guy who worked there and I think his sole function was to chase us kids off the tracks with a salt gun. We had heard of kids getting shot, but we weren’t one of them. We ran as fast as we could in the opposite direction and got away cleanly.

During the next couple years we blew up another half dozen ships and one airplane…the airplane didn’t go as well. We became sabotage experts at destroying battleships. The one thing we always did before destroying the models was to take off any American flag decals that were on the ships. Even at that young age, we respected our flag.

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All About That Bass

Being the youngest son, I was used to a life of hand-me-downs. Before I grew taller than my brothers, I used to get their clothes. I also would get their old used baseball mitts, one left-handed and the other right-handed. I learned to use both. The most anticipated hand-me-downs were electronics. I started with a transistor radio and eventually up to a boombox. It was when my oldest brother decided to get a new stereo system that I finally truly made out.

I wasted little time setting up the system in my room. I couldn’t wait to listen to my favorite bands the way they were intended to be listened to…loud and in stereo. I figured I could crank it because my parents were deaf. For the most part, it was fine, but then my dad came to visit me one evening to tell me to turn it down. Apparently, my bass was turned up a little too far and my parents could feel the music. It took them a week to figure out what the rumbling was.

I turned down the music and toned down the bass some more. My dad put his hand on one of my speakers and after a moment, began to tap his fingers with the drums and the bass. He could still feel the music.

DAD: Who is this?

ME (using my hands to talk): Led Zepplin.

DAD: I like it.

This new-found enjoyment of music for my dad continued for the next few years until I finally grew up and moved out. My dad would come upstairs to see me almost every evening and put his hands on the speakers. He got so good at identifying bands and their styles that he could sometimes guess the band with a song he never felt before. He became an expert in musical style. It was amazing!

That’s how my dad was. Instead of feeling sorry for himself because he couldn’t hear music, he found a different way to enjoy it. Once, he actually stood with his hand on my speaker for the entire album “Dark Side of the Moon.” He really liked Pink Floyd. He also liked Led Zepplin, AC/DC, The Who (Baba O’Reilly was his favorite), Queen (heavy base on some songs), and my occasional forays into R&B, country, classical, and even the Muppets. He specifically asked me to play the Beatles on a few occasions because he wanted to know what all the hype was about in the 60s. My dad really was amazing!

The most amazing thing about my dad’s ability to distinguish sounds that he could only feel was when he used the telephone. Yes, he figured out how to use a telephone before they had teletypes or video phones for the Deaf. He only called from work when he was going to be late so we could tell my mom. This is how it worked.

My dad would go to the rotary wall phone at his job and dial our home number. Then he would hum softly. When we would pick up the phone and hear his humming, we would make a deep “Huh” sound that he could feel on the phone at his end. Then he would verbally tell us what he needed to tell us. My dad was able to speak fairly well and was easy to understand. We would do “Huh” for yes and “Huh Huh” for no. Then we would hang up and tell our mom what he said.

Like I keep saying, my dad was amazing.

Another example of how awesome my dad was is that he could’ve used hearing aids. He had been tested and he had just enough there for a high powered hearing aid to slightly work. He refused because my mom was tested and she was profoundly deaf and no hearing aid would’ve helped her. My dad didn’t want something my mom couldn’t have. In fact, he never even told her that he could wear hearing aids if he wanted. He felt that being deaf could be lonely enough without losing your best friend to the hearing world. He didn’t want my mom to be alone.

I write a lot about my dad. He was the only person I ever looked up to. Everybody else I look eye-to-eye and let them determine how I see them as time goes. My dad’s always been on top because he was such a good man. He was tough when he needed to be, soft if the situation called for it, and always forthright and honest in everything he did.

My dad has always been my inspiration and hero.

What Kids Remember

This morning when I went to the store to get milk, I had to wait in the parking lot while a father took pictures of his little daughter. She had her hands up in the air and he was directing her to move them closer, then further apart, then he started taking the pictures. I was standing behind him (because my car was right next to where they were standing) and caught on to what they were doing. Behind the little girl, about a half-mile away, was the capitol building. He was lining up the photo so it looked like she was holding up the dome of the capitol.

He finally noticed me and apologized but I just smiled and told him to finish. He showed me the pictures and they were really good. Then he showed his daughter and her face lit up like an angel in the presence of Jesus. This was a big deal…a bigger deal than I think the father and daughter realized. This was a good memory that the little girl would probably remember forever. It was just a small thing, but the potential for a life-long impact was huge.

When I was very little, my dad found the time to teach me a little about fly-fishing. Even though we were in the backyard and the closest water was in the birdbath in the front yard, he taught me how to tie a fly and then the best part, he taught me how to do a casting arc. I was clumsy at first but developed a rhythm all my own by the end of the day. Learning to fly fish was great, being with my dad was greater. It’s still one of my best memories.

My Brother-in-Law relates a story about his father when he was very young. They had an accident in the car and the engine began to smoke. His father pulled out each kid before the car burst into flames. What makes this story unique is that my Brother-in-Law saw a different side to his father, a man that could be so abusive to his wife and children that they remain scarred by it to this day. Still, that one good memory shines through.

When my wife was very little, she went with her family to see her grandpa at the hospital. He was dying, but they still wouldn’t allow children into the room. She was heartbroken because she loved her grandpa and he had always been kind to her. She had a new pair of shoes she really wanted him to see and apparently, he thought it was important to see them. Even though he was in the last stage of life, he still wanted to please his granddaughter. Since he was on the first floor, they solved the problem easily. They took my wife to his window where she could show off her new shoes and he could express joy at them with her. This memory is etched in my wife’s slate of good memories as a child, a brief list because most of the memories were bad.

A couple weekends ago, I was able to watch one of my sons teach his son how to fish. The warm feeling I got while witnessing this was wonderful. There was so much loving interaction between the two, it made me proud just to be able to see it. My grandson will grow up and this will be one of his good memories that will resurface when he has kids, or even if he doesn’t.

The things that kids remember can go on and on. As parents, we wish all the memories were good ones, but we can only do what we can do. I guess my point is, it’s the little things that might not mean much to us, but mean the world to a child. Sometimes, as a parent, we have to embarrass ourselves to make a child’s day.

When my youngest son was still in pre-school, he made me a tie out of construction paper. It was very colorful and had circles, triangles, squares, and crayon artwork all over it. It was about 2 feet long. He came home very excited about the gift for me. His excitement caused me to give him a childhood memory he still hasn’t forgotten. The next day, I wore his tie to work.

CO-WORKER: Um, nice tie…

ME: Thanks! My son made it for me.

This went on all day long. I even left it on for a board meeting I had to attend.

BOSS: Um, nice tie…

ME: Thanks! My son made it for me.

BOSS: Do you think this is the right place…

ME: Yes I do.

I’m glad I did it because when I came out of the meeting, my son was waiting for me. He always walked to my work from preschool with the son of a co-worker who was in sixth grade. He would come into the courthouse, drop his bag off in my office, then make his rounds. Every office had a cookie or a piece of candy to give him.

When he saw me come out of the meeting wearing his tie, his face lit up like, well, like an angel in the presence of Jesus. I realized it was all worth it just for that moment.

Privileged People

I was at work the other night when an obviously well-to-do couple waved me over to their slot machines. Since I’m a slot attendant, I felt the obligation to go over there. I thought maybe they were having a problem. Well, they had a problem all right, but it wasn’t what I expected…

ME: Can I help you?

WOMAN: Yes, is there any way you can get that man over there to move to another machine?

I looked over at the guy she was talking about and even though he looked a little rough around the edges, he was quietly playing his slot machine.

ME: Um, what did he do?

WOMAN: Well, just look at him! He’s probably a drug-user or homeless!

ME: Um, but he hasn’t bothered you?

WOMAN: Well, of course, he’s bothering me! Look at him!

ME: Um, I can’t just ask him to move to another machine because you don’t like how he looks.

At this time I was doing my best to be professional. People like this always get under my skin and if I wasn’t at work, I would’ve let them know why. The woman stopped playing momentarily and glared at me.

WOMAN: My husband and I have spent a lot of money at YOUR casino! We would expect some consideration!

ME: But Ma’am, he’s also a paying customer. He has every right to play where he wants as long as he’s a paying customer. I’m very sorry.

MAN (to his wife): I told you. They don’t care who gives them money.

WOMAN: Well, if they’re going to allow that kind of person in, maybe we should go elsewhere!

My mind was thinking this was a splendid idea, but my mouth had to keep itself shut. It was her next statement that made me leave before I said something I wouldn’t regret, but would definitely cost me my job.

WOMAN: Who knows what kind of diseases that man is sharing with the rest of us! Look at him! He probably has that coronavirus the way he lives!

Like I said, I left in a hurry.

Why is it that some people with a little bit of money seem to think they are above everybody else? They are under the impression that they are in a class of people that deserve special attention and privilege. They think that what they say and think are more valuable than everybody else…except, of course, the people richer than them. They spend their time fawning and bouncing around the richer people’s feet like dogs trying to please a master. It’s pathetic.

When will people understand that money doesn’t make you who you are, your character does. All money means is that you can buy more crap. Of course, the more crap you have, the more secure you can feel…somewhat. At this point, you start competing with other wannabe rich people in trying to have better crap than them. It’s all about the crap.

The bad news for this woman and her husband? That coronavirus can’t be bought. Their money and privilege will be of no use. It’s like the flu or a cold…they don’t care who they infect. I could be wrong…maybe it works like this:

VIRUS: I’m coming to get you! All I have to do is make this person I’ve infected sneeze or shake your hand. Haha, you’ll soon be mine!

WOMAN (the same one from before): Excuse me, Mr. Virus is it? Are you aware who we are?

VIRUS (looking a little uncomfortable): Um, no.

WOMAN: We are the MacGillicutties! We own a big house, a boat, and have two new Mercedes in the driveway!

VIRUS: Well, um, what’s your investment profile look like?

MAN: We can have liquid assets numbering in six figures within a day or two! How much do you need to go away?

VIRUS: Oh, well, I had no idea you were privileged!

WOMAN: That’s right! Now go away and infect somebody deserving of being infected…like that rundown rough-looking guy over on that other machine! It should be easy for you! He already looks sickly and beneath us!

VIRUS: Oh, yes, I see what you mean. Sorry to bother you good folks.

MAN: I would think so…

Of course, all of us common sense thinking people realize viruses don’t work this way. I imagine the rich wannabe people getting the virus passed along to them by one of the sets of feet they grovel around. Also, of course, they will blame the unseemly guy at the other machine for giving it to them. That’s what they get for mingling with us common folk. Of course, they’re probably in a better position to pay for their medical treatment, but I think the coronavirus won’t much care about their ability to pay. I believe it’s an equal opportunity virus.

Unconditional Love

We grow up sometimes loving our parents unconditionally. I said sometimes because there a quite a few people who don’t love their parents, conditionally or unconditionally. They have their reasons and this blog post is not about why some people don’t love their parents, but rather more about those we almost can’t help but love unconditionally…namely, our kids.

A lot of new parents talk about how their lives have changed since the birth of their new baby. Yeah, sometimes it’s about the lack of sleep or the cost of diapers, but often it’s about the feeling they get when they first meet their child. It’s often an overwhelming feeling that’s too hard to describe in words. All you know is, the second you see and hold that child, the reality of the situation swings hold of you and you’re left with a feeling you might only have again at the birth of another child. That’s not to say you lose the feeling after this. Instead, oftentimes, the feeling grows.

For most of us “normal” people, our children completely take over our lives. There is no sacrifice too great when it comes to our little ones. We can be watching the news, or football, or a cooking show, but the minute our eyes turn to that little toddler playing with blocks or dolls or just about anything, we get that overwhelming feeling all over again. We just love them. They don’t have to do anything special, although everything they do is special, but just looking at the little co-creation sitting in front of you is enough to bring on tears of love.

Even when our kids screw up, most of us continue to love them. They can grow up to be a mass murderer, but even though we don’t condone what they did, we still love them. They can become burger flippers or doctors, we still love them the same.

When they grow up and leave home, we find ourselves tearfully reminiscing about when they were little and needed us for almost every little thing. Even as adults they will often call or visit and still need advice from us as parents. They may have gone through a phase where they felt they didn’t need us and knew better than anything we could suggest, but they usually turn around and recognize the unconditional love we have for them. That’s what keeps them coming back even after they really screwed up. They know we’ll open the door and let them in. We almost can’t help it.

There are other types of unconditional love, but I believe the love between a child and parents to be the best example of unconditional love there is. Nobody has to prove that they love, just seeing their face brings it out. Heck, sometimes it’s just a memory of their face or something they did in the past that brings it out.

My kids are all grown now and living their own lives. Some have children of their own and some have yet to reach that point if they do at all. I find myself feeling the same way about my grandkids, the unconditional love thing, and even though it’s not the great mystery it was when I first had a child, it’s still pretty strong. I also know that the love I have for my children is as strong as it was when they were born or little or even teenage years. They simply cannot make it just go away…not that they’ve tried…I don’t think…

All I know is that I love my children with everything that is in me and still wouldn’t hesitate to give my life for theirs if needed. There is no condition attached to this other than they are my children. Just reminiscing about them, both as kids and as adults, makes me teary-eyed. This is a feeling I cherish.

The Human GPS

I’ve never really been lost. I’ve been momentarily displaced or disoriented, but never truly lost. You see, I have a built-in compass in my brain. For some reason, I always know which way is north, south, east, and west. That ability may not always tell you where you are, but it certainly tells you where you need to go and that’s why I’m never truly lost. As long as I know what direction my destination is, I will always find it one way or another.

When I was very young, like about 4 or 5 years old, I was fascinated by maps. I was so fascinated that I hand drew the entire map of Milwaukee on multiple sheets of paper and taped it all together. Then I hand drew a map of my neighborhood that had streets wide enough to drive my Hot Wheel cars on and I began to build structures out of popsicle sticks and toothpicks. It was magnificent! I was nearly finished when an errant tennis ball thrown by my brother and chased by our dog wiped it all out. Talk about natural disasters!

Anyway, my fascination with maps was increased even further when my dad and I found an old classroom roll down map in the attic of an old building. It was so old that Milwaukee was much smaller and places that would later become part of Milwaukee still retained their old names, like the Town of Lake and the Town of Granville. It was such an interesting piece of history and I absorbed it all. That fascination got me into a little trouble when I was about 7 or 8 years old.

One nice day, I decided I didn’t need to go to school. Oh, I left the house on time as if I was going, but after that, I just couldn’t bring myself to go. First, I went to the park and fed my favorite squirrel. We were so fond of each other, he would eat out of my hand. Then I took a walk…a very long walk. There was a little park with a pond that I had seen on the maps, so that became my destination. I had also read in the newspaper that this particular park had a problem with dive-bombing crows, so naturally, I had to check this out.

The park was about a couple of miles from my house, so it was an interesting walk. Nobody questioned a little boy walking through the neighborhood on a school day and even though it seemed to be a safer time in our country, I was surprised. I made it to the park and waited for the crows. Nothing. So I wandered over to the pond. I immediately regretted not packing my fishing pole but spotted some tangled fishing line on a shoreline bush with a bobber and hook attached. I managed to get a serviceable amount untangled, tied it to a short branch, and looked around for bait. Then I remembered my packed lunch, tore a piece of bread, rolled it into a little piece of dough, and fished.

I didn’t get home until after dark and the police were there. I lied about where I had been and nobody believed me. I can’t remember the full lie, but it had something to do with riding around with a stranger. Isn’t it funny when your lie makes things so much worse than the truth? Anyway, when it all unraveled, I was grounded for a good while. If I had known I would get caught, I would’ve brought home some of the fish I caught. That pond was pretty well stocked with bluegills and sunfish that I put back after catching them.

The instinct I have for directions has come in handy in my life. I used it while in the Boy Scouts, while camping, while hiking, in the army, and finally to impress a co-worker when we were trying to find a location in Seattle.

We were driving together when I veered off the freeway and started driving through a neighborhood. We were looking around at the cool houses on some very winding roads when my co-worker started asking about it.

CO-WORKER: How did you know about this way to get there?

ME: I didn’t.

CO-WORKER: …What?

ME: I’ve never been in this neighborhood in my life.

CO-WORKER: …Are we lost?

ME: No, the place we’re going is in that direction (said while pointing).

CO-WORKER: Are you sure?

ME: Yep, it’s north. We should be there in a couple minutes.

Sure enough, we were there in a couple minutes. Even the non-conforming streets of Seattle are no match for my directional instinct (brag, brag). Also, it’s often cloudy in Seattle so you can’t say I followed the sun (even more brag, brag). I just know this instinct comes in handy sometimes. If we ever deal with the apocalypse, I’ll be the handy guy in the group, that low key character that everybody listens to when he talks.

CHARISMATIC LEADER OF SURVIVAL GROUP: Ok, we’ll just shoot our way through the zombies until we get to the warehouse filled with food that for some reason hasn’t already been taken or hasn’t gone bad after all this time! I want the token ax-wielder on my left and the token sword swinger on my right. You, the one with perfect directional instincts who keeps low-key, in the middle. We don’t want you to get hurt. Those of you that are just filling in space, go to the front so you’ll get killed first. Let’s go!

ME: Wrong way.

CHARISMATIC LEADER OF SURVIVAL GROUP: Huh?

ME: Wrong way. The warehouse is behind us and we don’t have to shoot zombies.

CHARISMATIC LEADER OF SURVIVAL GROUP: Wait, no zombies to shoot? We have to shoot zombies! I brought in all these expendable people to die! They’ll be awfully disappointed if we don’t need them.

ME: Well, you can still use them. There happens to be a group of normal acting people along the way who have become secret cannibals and will pretend to be our friends until dinnertime.

CHARISMATIC LEADER OF SURVIVAL GROUP: Let’s go!

Possible moral of this story? Learn your directions…this will make you non-expendable and you won’t end up on somebody’s dinner plate.

Men are Dogs

Men are dogs… Ok, before I get specific comments, this is a generalization I’m making…there are always exceptions. But back to my generalization. Men are dogs…we really are. Some of us might be tamer than other dogs and we stay under the porch, but that just makes us a tame dog that stays under the porch. We still have our doggy thoughts and doggy habits. Also, when you think of dogs, there are good dogs and bad dogs…right there I know some of you are thinking, “There are no bad dogs, just bad owners!” I couldn’t agree more, but right now I’m talking about man-dogs. There are good man-dogs and bad man-dogs…better?

Now I have some of you (mostly women) saying, “But Mr. Dazeodrew? Why would you demean dogs by comparing them to men? Do dogs really deserve that?” Ok, once again, calm down and understand that this is a humor blog, it’s supposed to be funny and embellished. OK, maybe my posts aren’t funny, but you can’t argue about the embellished part! I have a WHOLE lot of embellishing going on! I might just be the BIGGEST and GREATEST embellisher in the world…wait…maybe the second biggest and greatest embellisher in the world…I can think of one other…anyway, that’s not what this post is about. Now that we have that straightened out, we can move along.

Men are dogs…

(Pause).

Ok, I was just waiting to see if I had any more arguments about specifics? You had your chance. Now hold on to your opinion until the end of the post, please.

Maybe I should just clarify that I also think women are cats. That will make the rest of reading this post understandable…I hope. Anyway…

Men are dogs. Many of us don’t care where we lift our leg and things have a tendency to get splattered around…cats don’t like this. We always need to mark our territory…cats could care less what we think is our territory. We always need to loudly bark what we think about something…cats are annoyed by this. We are usually so very excited to see you, but have no idea why you’re angry…cats don’t care if we are excited to see them, they’re still angry. We can be wildly inappropriate with what we say and do…cats think we’re stupid. We are often trying to please the cat…once again, the cats think we’re stupid and can easily take advantage of this if they want to. We are always looking at other cats…do I really need to state the cat’s response?

These are just a few things that make men dogs. Sadly, there are plenty more. Of course, there are some things we don’t do…I don’t think. We don’t chew all the shoes in the house. We seldom leave a present on the living room carpet…I said seldom. Um, I’m sure there’s more, but I’m curiously drawing a blank right now…

A typical conversation between a husband and wife proves my point, somewhat.

WIFE: Thank’s for leaving the toilet seat down for me, honey.

HUSBAND: You’re welcome.

WIFE: I was being sarcastic! You left it up again!

HUSBAND (clearly not getting it): Well, I certainly wasn’t going to leave it down and get it wet, was I?

WIFE: Yeah, it’s the only part around the toilet that’s actually dry…

HUSBAND (clearly thinking he just won the point): So, you’re welcome!

WIFE: Wait, you actually managed to get the seat wet too, even though it was up… Couldn’t you aim better? Or at least wipe everything down when you’re finished?

HUSBAND: Fine! I’ll just start going in the back yard! By the tree!

WIFE: Ok…just don’t do that barking thing again. The neighbors are already annoyed with us because of that time you kept chasing the squirrels through their yard!

HUSBAND: Ok, now you’re just nagging!

Now I know some of you are agreeing with me about the dog part. So, how are women like cats? Here’s another conversation that might prove my point.

WIFE: Can you scratch my back?

HUSBAND (eager to please): Sure!

WIFE: Oh, that’s nice. Yes, yes, right there! A little higher and to the left…yes, that’s it! Now in the middle…lower…lower…NOT THAT LOW!

HUSBAND: Ow! You scratched me with those claws of yours! I think, oh my God, I think I’m bleeding!

WIFE (mewling softly): I’m sorry, honey. Can you try again? I still have that itch.

HUSBAND (once again, wagging his tail and eager to please): Oh, ok!

WIFE: Yes, right there! Now a little lower…lower…lower…NOT THAT LOW I TOLD YOU!

HUSBAND: OW! Did you just BITE me?!?!

WIFE: (once again mewling softly): I’m sorry…try again?

HUSBAND: Sure!

As you can see, the dynamics of this conversation clearly depict a dog and a cat. Yes, men, we can be that stupid. Yes, women, you know exactly what you’re doing…

Big Babies

Most of my family have been big babies. With all the whining and crying and dependency on others, it’s amazing we survived at all! Um, before you decide it’s ok to say, “Yeah, we always knew you were nothing but a big baby,” I should inform you I’m actually talking about being a big baby…you know, infant, um, at birth? Following now? Good. Besides, I’m not a big baby…at least now.

I was born 11 pounds to a mother who stood 4’11” and barely weighed 100 pounds herself. To put it in perspective, my mom lost 11% of her body mass giving birth to me. Let’s see any other weight loss plan achieve those results! She went through 36 hours of labor that nearly killed her (per my mom…repeated multiple times for my benefit) and if I hadn’t had 2 older large baby brothers (9 lb. & 9.5 lb.) pave the way, I may have done just that. So yes, I nearly killed my mom, but I believe it was in self-defense!

To make my case, we have to go back to just before my conception. My parents were content with my two older brothers, with “content” meaning, that’s it, no more, we’ve had enough! What changed things was my aunt and uncle getting married. They got together with my folks and next thing you know it’s “we should have kids at the same time! They can grow up together as best friends and we can dress them alike and blah, blah, blah.” Good thoughts, I guess. The problem is, my mom could get pregnant by using my dad’s comb where my aunt and uncle couldn’t get pregnant at all. When my mom realized this, she did everything she could to lose me. She ran up and down the stairs, worked even harder than ever, was rough when she did things, flung herself off the tallest building in the neighborhood…that last one is suspect, and generally failed. I guess I was determined to be born.

When my dad went straight from work to the hospital, they told him he had plenty of time to go home and shower. Seeing that he worked at a packing house and smelt of dead cattle, this was probably more for their benefit than his. When he came back, he camped out in the waiting room until I was born. Back then, that’s what dad’s did…camped out while feeling so sorry for themselves because the waiting room only had 3 channels on the television back then and the antenna had to be just right. It was horrible! Anyway, back to my birth and my mom nearly dying.

When I was finally born, they went and notified my dad in the waiting room and told him he could see me through the nursery window. He did that, but couldn’t see my nametag anywhere. In his defense, we hadn’t met yet so he didn’t have a clue what I looked like. When he asked a passing nurse, she smiled and took him to a separate room where I was. Apparently, I was so big and loud and angry that I was keeping the rest of the babies awake. Personally, I think I had every right after 9 months of being tortured by my mom’s attempts to get rid of me! Gratefully, I looked so much like my dad (bald head, mustache, and all) that he took an instant liking to me…that’s always a good thing when you’re a kid.

Moral of the story? Don’t stress if you have a big baby…our bodies eventually grow to fit our big heads.

Put the Gun Down Fluffy!

The other night while I was at work, I received a text from my wife. It said, “Ignore the ransom note. The cat is pissed.” Ok, when I read this, all kinds of things went through my mind. Ransom note? Cat? Um, who’s the ransom for? Is it my wife or my cat being held? Why is the cat pissed? Did the cat turn on my wife? Did she finally snap?

Now, before I get silly and say something exaggerative like “the cat’s got a gun,” or “the cat has a string of explosives wrapped around her belly,” remember that I’ve often written how smart she is. Of course, without thumbs, the whole gun thing is out. But what about a crossbow? Do you really need thumbs to operate that?

CAT: Meow! (Ok, gimme that whole bag of kibble or I’ll fire this thing!)

WIFE: Is that a crossbow?

CAT: Meow! (Darn right it’s a crossbow!) Meow! (Gimme the kibble!)

WIFE: How did you pull the string?

CAT: Meow! (It took me hours, but you better believe I’ll shoot!) Meo… (Now, about that kibble…)

WIFE: Um, the safety is on.

CAT: Meow! Meow? (Don’t change the…wait, what?)

WIFE: The safety is still on. Can’t your little paws switch it?

CAT: Meow! (I don’t have little paws!) Meow! (I just have a furry body that makes my paws look small!)

WIFE: Um, ok then. We’ll ignore the fact that the bed tilts when you jump on it.

CAT: MEOW! (Dammit!) Meow! (Just gimme the kibble!)

WIFE: I don’t think so.

CAT: Meow! (I swear I’ll shoot this thing!)

WIFE: No, you won’t.

CAT: Meow! (Curses!) Meow! (Who would’ve thought a lack of thumbs would foil my quest for world domination!)

So that’s how I imagine that went. Of course, the cat’s quest for world domination didn’t end there. She had other ideas how to get the kibble.

ME (answering my phone): Yes?

CAT: Meow! (It’s me!)

ME: Oh, it’s you.

CAT: Meow! (You better change that tone if you know what’s good for you!)

ME: Or what? You gonna leave me another surprise in my shoe?

CAT: Meow! (Worse than that!) Meow! (I’m holding the other human, the one that smells good, hostage!)

ME: With those wee little itty bitty paws?

CAT: MEOW! (What is it about my paws!) MEOW! (They aren’t little!) MEOW! (They’re lean mean fighting machines!) Meow! (Look at these claws!)

ME: Um, we’re on the phone?

CAT: Meow! (Then listen while I shred this blanket!) Me…me…ower…row…meoarough!

ME: Got your lean mean fighting machines stuck in the blanket again?

CAT: MEOW! (Shut up!) Meow! (Your inferior hypothesis insults me!)

ME: Huh?

CAT: Meow! (That’s why we’re superior!) Meow! (We understand big words!)

ME: Um, ok. How’s being stuck on that soft defenseless blanket going? Maybe your hostage will help you.

CAT: Me…me…ower…row…meoarough!

WIFE: (in the background): Aw, is poor little itty bitty pawed kitty stuck in the blanket again?

Anyway, they say our pets are gaining intelligence with every generation. Before long, they’ll be joining us for coffee in the morning and demanding sections of the newspaper.

Palm of your Hand

When my wife was born, she became the smallest surviving baby on record in California for a few years. What makes it so amazing was that she born during a time when extreme premature babies had a very low survival rate. It was 1959 and she was only 2 pounds. Her uncle said he could fit her in the palm of his hand, she was so small. Many of the people said she was a miracle baby.

Can you imagine a living, breathing, human being fitting in the palm of your hand? To me, it’s mind-blowing. I look at my wife now and even though she’s still small, she’s definitely not diminutive. For me, she’s an inspiration and a survivor. Even as a baby, she had such a strong will to live and even if it was divine intervention, she’s to be admired.

It took several months before she could be taken home. She was still tiny and could fit on a small pillow, but at the time seemed healthy enough to leave. It wasn’t until later she discovered her lungs were never fully developed and she would be susceptible to various lung issues. Since her entire family, except the other kids at the time, smoked, her lungs never had a chance.

As a child, she was small enough to curl herself up in the footwell of the car to try to avoid the ever-present smoke that would float around because the windows were shut or were opened just a little. All her siblings grew up smoking and it was like she just couldn’t avoid breathing it in. She hated it.

When she became an adult, she was diagnosed with emphysema and had to use an inhaler. The worst part for her was when she would have a new medical person and they would ask, “How long have you smoked?” I think the only thing not making it worse is that she leads a very active lifestyle and exercises often. Usually, her lungs will fail her before her muscles ever do. Still, she rests and continues on.

My wife is 60-years-old now and she still paddleboards, skates, hikes, and does some yoga. Before you think it’s all perfect, she has suffered some broken bones, a bad lower back, a sore shoulder at times, and the usual run of the mill injuries on occasion. Still, she goes on. I can barely keep up with her and just choose to watch at times. She is simply amazing to me.

Now it is often said that women can multitask better than men…I don’t know if that’s generally true, but I know it is for me and my wife. She will set out to clean the house and will do multiple rooms at the same time. She will do 10 minutes here, then 10 minutes there, and then another 10 minutes elsewhere. She can do this all day if she has to. I try to stay out of her way until called and then I just try to keep up…again. I can only do one thing at a time. Once again, she is simply amazing to me.

When it comes to kids, they automatically know she has a good heart for them. They will gather around her like kittens to a mother cat and she always keeps them amused and busy. She seems to just know what they want and what they need and they respond to her. Even stranger’s kids will look at her like they instinctively know she would love them. Amazing.

My dad was like her. He never let any perceived shortcomings get in the way of what he set out to do. Being deaf, he could’ve easily rode through life claiming his disability stopped him from doing things, but I never saw that. He did what he had to do and never, ever let his deafness be an excuse. He did everything he could to the best of his ability.

There are many examples of people just like my wife and my dad who seem to defy the odds of their perceived shortcomings. Combat veterans who had been injured in battle come to mind. Single mothers who have to be everything for their kids are another example. There may be things that just can’t be done, but everything else is done with the best they have. They are an inspiration and those of us who don’t deal with some of these things could learn from them.

I know I learned from my dad and now I learn from my wife. Amazing.