Greetings faithful readers,
Please check out the new Disclaimer page on this site so we are all on the same page.
Greetings faithful readers,
Please check out the new Disclaimer page on this site so we are all on the same page.
Between 1995 and 1998 there was an animated cartoon series entitled “Pinky and the Brain”. It was centered around two mice, Brain, a mad scientist, and Pinky, his idiot assistant. Brain’s main goal in life was “to take over the world!” I think one of his cousins has partly succeeded in Southern California’s Disneyland. Allow me to make my case:
To “Take over the World” you need to control the masses. Disneyland does that quite well. Over the three days we spent there with our grown daughters and two grandchildren I observed mind control at it’s finest.
First, you get the people to pay YOU so YOU can control them. At over $100 per person per day just to get into “The Happiest Place on Earth” you have already started the mind control. You have set the expectation. People are expecting to be made happy. They paid for it!
Second, you set the mood. On entry you are surrounded by pleasant music, clean streets, friendly people known as “Cast Members” to assist you in your every need. Your eyes are captivated by the sights of the quaint storefronts and costumed cast members.
Third, you keep the masses distracted by having several different lands to explore. Adventureland, Tomorrowland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country, Story Tale Land, The Land Time Forgot, The Land Time Shouldn’t Have Remembered, and Main Street, USA. Each filled with properly themed stores, eateries, rides, adventures and background music.
Now that the scene is set, the mind control begins. You are trained to wait. Where else in the world would you pay over $100 to be able to stand in lines? Most of the wait times were as long as 140 minutes! That’s 2 hours and 20 minutes in line! When you see a wait time of 30 minutes or less for a ride that lasts for 4 minutes you go “WooHoo!” and step right up! WHAT!?!
Then there are the fine dining establishments in rodent land. When the mouse asks you to fork over $12 for a burger, $5.95 for a soda, AND you wait 20 minutes in line first, you feel grateful. If it was a McDonald’s and you were waiting that long for a $4.00 burger you would have the manager tied up and beaten by that clown that lurks around there. Mind Control!!!!
Where else in the world would you pay over $100 to be able to walk down a street with 50,000 other people not only at your side but in front of you and behind you, not to mention the strollers, wheel chairs, handicapped scooters and really slow old people and you still feel happy to be there? Mind Control!!!! If it were in your town you would put a cattle guard on the front of your truck and plow them out of your way.
Where else in the world would you pay over $100 to be charged double for a tee shirt just because it has a rodent on it? Think that sounds crazy? I observed over 75% of the people in the park the days I was there were wearing Disney themed shirts and sweaters! Myself included! Mind Control!!!! Target and Walmart would go out of business if they tried to charge you $28 for a tee shirt, even if it had a rodent on it.
Now, I would like to address the type of people you see at “The Happiest Place on Earth”. Whenever our family made a trip to Disneyland we would always pay close attention to the people around us. We had made it a sort of sick game in our family. We have had “Mullet Cam Day”, ” Butt Crack Cam Day”, “Muffin Top Cam Day”, “Oh My God – You Got To Be Kidding Cam Day” in the years past but now the world has changed so far that even we, the most politically incorrect family in the world, are hesitant as we would be forced to have “Dress Like a Prostitute Cam Day”, “Find a person Without a Tattoo Cam Day” and “Nose Ring Cam Day”.
Granted, we did make the mistake of coming to the Rodent’s World the week before Halloween but most of the people I was talking about were not in costume, at least, not on purpose. Many people did wear a costume to the park and this opens up another line of questions.
Where in the world would you pay over $100 to go to a public place dressed like a dog, witch, zombie, skeleton, super hero or a bag of potatoes? (I think that last costume was not intended to look like that but apparently they had so called friends that wouldn’t tell them the truth.) Imagine the looks they received on their way to the park. What if they got pulled over for speeding?
“Exactly why are you dressed as a Yak sir?”
Yes, the world has gone mad and a rodent in southern California can control the minds of the masses. But, then again, what else is new?
Most people would use the bad word for poop in place of the word “stuff” but I don’t like cussing.
We have heard that statement, seen it on bumper stickers and may have even uttered it ourselves (shame on you!). It usually is used in a negative context to explain why bad things happen. It really is a true statement though. While negative things do happen to each and every one of us it is up to us on how we deal with it.
In my case it is the recent diagnosis of BvFTD (Behavioural Varient Frontotemporal Dementia or Pick’s disease.)
The symptoms of BvFTD are personality changes, apathy, and a progressive decline in socially appropriate behavior, judgment, self-control, and empathy.
That first symptom, personality changes. I have recently noticed that behavior in my interactions with Angie (my first and only girlfriend). She says I’ve been a little crabby lately. I would change the two “b’s” in “crabby” to two “p’s”, but then I don’t like cussing…… My children have agreed with her in that sentiment also and I always trust what they say, unless they are wrong…..
The second symptom, apathy. I really don’t care about that.
The third symptom, “a progressive decline in socially appropriate behavior, judgment, self-control, and empathy”. Pretty much describes me for most of my life, so apparently I was born with that part. That is except for the “empathy” part. I have empathy for all people but symptom number two may kick in at any moment so what can I say?
I choose to have fun with everything I face. I do this with all the things that happen in my life. A positive attitude goes a long way. I firmly believe that statement. My father was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and was given 18 months to live. He chose not to allow that to happen and he passed away 11 years later only because he gave up when mom died.
The prognosis for BvFTD, according to my doctor, is 7 – 10 years. I choose not to cooperate in this matter. That’s one of the symptoms anyway. I used to work in the medical field when I was young (Please see the post entitled “Hospital Stories” ). From my three and a half years working in the hospital, I discovered why they refer to the medical trade as a “practice of medicine”. I hereby rest my case.
In my humble opinion, nothing changes. I have alway been blessed with a positive outlook on life. My children always said that on my headstone they would simply put “He was a nice guy” as that is my reply to anything negative that is said to me about anyone else. How do I deal with “stuff” in life? I’m glad you asked:
1.) My faith. If you have been a regular reader of this blog you are already aware that my family and I are Jehovah’s Witnesses. I go out of my way not to mention details of my beliefs. This format, a public blog, is not the appropriate platform for propounding my faith. If anyone would like to know more about Jehovah’s Witnesses please go to their official website at jw.org . If anyone would like a one on one discussion of my scriptural beliefs please feel free to use the “contact us” page and I would be happy to do so with you. Public forums, such as this one, only open up opportunities for those that strongly disagree with you (aka “Haters”) to spout their personal feelings. (If that is the case in your world, please feel free to start your own blog and I will feel free not to read it.)
2.) My attitude. While this is closely related to my belief system it is also just my personal way of dealing with things. Let’s face it. I’m a little “off”. My personal motto is “I’m so positive, when I go fishing, I take Tauter sauce!” well, that and “Don’t sweat the petty things and by all means, don’t pet the sweaty things.” If you would like an in-depth overview of the inner workings of my mind please refer to the “Stuff You Might Have Missed” button and read any of the 46 posts or listen to the 15 podcasts on this site as of date. I will warn you, proceed at your own risk as my outlook is highly contagious.
3.) My personal view of the future. Again, closely related to my faith but also a way that I simply view the lives we have. Like all of you, my family and I have been through a great amount of personal loss and suffering. I never view these situations as a negative. I view it as a challenge to be overcome. For example, this current issue of BvFTD is an opportunity to show the world what I am made of. Look at the positives here. I now have a “reason” for my stupidity in life. It is no longer an “excuse”. A doctor has confirmed it! Now, while it may be inappropriate to climb up on a billboard about a “Run for Alzheimer’s” in the middle of the night and attach a poster that simply says “Don’t Forget!” now you know why I would do it! ( If anyone with a loved one or perhaps you yourself are suffering from this horrible condition please know that I can understand your pain. I have lost quite a few close friends to Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Unfortunately, I’m a sick man. If you have any doubt please reread this blog.)
What Can You Do?
I’m glad you asked:
1.) Be patient. Remember this is a “progressive” disease. If I go too far, please let me know. My wife and children have become experts at that already. Just use the comment feature at the bottom of this post.
2.) Remember. This is a light hearted blog. It is meant to be humorous. It is also a great therapy for me. I now have a reason, not an excuse.
3.) Smile. It is the easiest thing to do. A smile can make your day if you see someone else with one directed at you. Be that someone to make someone else feel better.
4.) Life goes on. So will this web site. I am planning on continuing to blog and podcast as long as I can. I am actually planning on the status quo for quite some time. That reminds me of a joke:
You know how to make God laugh?
Tell him your plans………
After I turned 50 my family, along with everyone else in my life, were constantly recommending that I should start eating healthier. While I was appreciative of their concern for me, I would always reply “Eat what you like, die when you should”. I saw the suggestion of watching what I eat as a restriction on what I can or cannot do. Did I ever mention I’m stubborn and hard headed? My oldest brother lives in the State of New Hampshire. Their license plates has the motto ‘Live Free or Die” printed on them. I have thought of moving out there just to get that license plate but it is too cold in the winter and the locals are always staring at you with that look on their face as if they can’t decide if they want to shoot you or buy you a beer. A little too much living free and not enough dying going on in my opinion.
Now that I have reached the ripe old age of 62, I look back on my youth (anything under 61) as foolishness and folly. Oh, I have no regrets. I had a great time associating with such riff raff as McDonald’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen (I secretly suspect shenanigans were going on between those last two), Carl’s Junior and the like. Not to mention a close relationship with all the micro breweries and hot wing establishments in Northern California.
Did you ever stop to look at yourself naked in the mirror? Oh, I’m not talking about when you were in your teens to thirties, I’m talking about when you have aged past those glory days. When you were young it was an amazing experience. You would pose proudly, guys strutting around, girls sashaying around (or whatever it is the female specie does), people who were not sure of what they were just sort of staring off into the image and using their imagination. Everything was proudly in it’s place and displaying itself in a firm and gravity proof manner.
Now, as that time has long past, it is a scary sight. Especially for me as I had apparently become “hefty”, “chunky”,” large boned”, and somewhat huge. I thought the dogs followed me around all the time outside because they loved me but now I realize they were just trying to stay in the shade. I was developing a plural chin. My pecs would fit into a “B” cup. I had forgotten what anything south of the belly button looked like. My cute “love handles” had become flaps. People in Mexico would call me “Gordo” while I always replied ” no, my name is Derek”.
About two months ago my beautiful bride, Angie, announced we were going on a diet. As this was shortly after my encounter with the naked fat man in my mirror, I agreed. Some of Angie’s friends had been raving about a diet plan called “The Macronazi” they had found on the internet. At first I thought it was a web site about minute Nazis goose stepping their way to health. It turned out to be this nice lady named Melody that taught you how to eat properly. The “Nazi” part of the website name is indicative of how disciplined the diet plan is but I secretly suspect that Melody might have worn black in a previous life. Allow me to explain that last part.
I had been texting Melody after several weeks of the diet and she stated that we get a “cheat” meal because of the progress we made. I told her I was going to have a burger and a beer. She texted back saying the burger was fine and to add fries but the beer was off the menu. I replied that I would not eat the fries and would send her $2 if I could have the beer. She replied that she didn’t need the money and I didn’t need the carbs from the beer. She then reminded me that she was the MacroNazi and that she ate puppies for breakfast. I resisted asking her if they were low fat puppies.
We are now 8 weeks into the diet and I must admit, it’s not bad. I thought diets were evil things that made sane people do insane things. This diet lets you eat a lot of food. It is just good food. No processed stuff, very little sugar, lots of protein like steak, fish and chicken. Angie, being the master wizard in the kitchen, has developed some marvelous meals that are delicious. As a result, Angie is down 20 pounds and I am down 17 pounds! 37 pounds total so far. That is a small child, a very large turkey, medium sized dog, an Ewok or a Mini Me! Our queen sized bed is now roomy. We can pass each other in the hallway without having to suck in. I went down to an “A” cup.
I am now a devout believer in eating healthy. My children are amazed and wonder what ever happened to their hard headed, stubborn father while at the same time they are a little disappointed that there will be a delay in the distribution of the life insurance money they were counting on.
I still say, “Eat what you like and die when you should” but now I like healthy, clean food and that dying part will be a little delayed. I still wonder, though, what low fat puppies over quinoa with Thai peanut sauce would taste like?
Please note: No puppies were harmed in the making of this blog.
Fat Boy, aka, Felix tragically passed away Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Fat Boy was survived by the humans that he kept, the dogs he tolerated, the Koi he wanted to eat but was too lazy, the backyard rats that live under the deck and enjoyed eating out of his bowl in front of him because, again, he was too lazy to stop them (in fact, he was offended they did not put any food in his mouth as a thank you gesture).
Fat Boy died tragically when the near sighted protector of the back yard, Buster, mistook him for an invading elephant seal in a cat suit. He was interned under the orange tree by J. Franklin back hoe service / pet mortuary. Fat Boy was around 11 years old.
He will be greatly missed by all that knew him.
He will be remembered as the “talking” cat when he would assume his daily turtle pose and he would look up and say “rowe”, indicating that the belly rubs can commence.
He loved to sit on my lap whenever he could so he could lovingly provide the 3 lbs. of fur that he would leave there when he decided to get up. (Little known fact: Fat Boy was well invested in lint roller stock.)
We will miss his independent attitude that could quickly be changed when you would rattle the cat food in his bowl at him.
Fat Boy was very proud of his more than obvious butt hole that he would proudly present to everyone’s face whenever the opportunity arose.
Fat Boy was diagnosed with “tailaphobia” in the last year of his life. He was terrified with his tail and would run (correction – waddle) away from it whenever he saw it. He would bravely attack it whenever it had the audacity to brush his face and would retreat in shock and pain after he chewed on it for a while.
The dogs will greatly miss Fat Boy’s tasty “Kitty Roca” treats that he would leave in his cat box for them daily. The humans of his family, however, will not miss the foul breathed “kisses” the dogs would subsequently give their masters immediately after the crunchy treat.
Fat Boy will be remembered for his occasional brave ventures into the front yard where he would refuse to come back in until he would be found in the morning at the front door with a shocked looked on his fuzzy face and an expression that said: “There’s animals out there!”
Angie will not miss the daily chore of sweeping up half a cat in loose Fat Boy hair that he would loving deposit on the floor and furniture he constantly rubbed up against to show his love of everything in the home.
In memorandum, please enjoy this pictorial representation of Fat Boys love of life:
Please Click on the Link Below – Fat Boy Trying To Bathe Himself.
Farewell Fat Boy
You Were The Best Fat Cat We Ever Had
The world has definitely changed since I dated/courted Angie (June 13, 1975 to April 2, 1977). Back then, we didn’t have all the technical distractions that exist today. We actually talked. Our conversations were private and not read by our friends or even people we don’t know. Our reason for dating was not just for a “good time” or to look cool. We actually learned about each other, our thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears. Sex was something reserved for marriage and we were careful to follow the guidelines we were raised with.
Some may look at our stand as “old fashioned” or too “strict”. In today’s social climate it is rare to have two virgins marry. We didn’t mind, actually learning to properly love each other was quite the adventure. Especially with Angie’s personality in mind.
Early in our marriage Angie decided to “spice things up” by buying a “sexy nightie”. We lived in Idaho at the time and the small town of Twin Falls did not have nor let alone know of places like Victoria’s Secret (BTW – I’ve seen their catalogs and Victoria doesn’t have any secrets left). So Angie went to the local Kmart for her purchase. She took her best friend, Julie, with her and giggled and laughed together while looking through the vast amount of “sexy nighties” available. (I imagine she had at least 3 or 4 choices.)
That night Angie told me she had a special surprise for me at bedtime. I let my imagination run amuck while she changed into her “outfit”. When she walked into the bedroom my response was not what she expected. Please allow me to describe her outfit. It was a red see through short nightie with large amounts of red feathers covering the appropriate areas. I started laughing hysterically while she dropped down to all fours and crawled out of the bedroom.
Angie now tells that story to all her friends. You see, she wasn’t terribly mad at me even though I felt real bad when I got my breath back from laughing. We both smiled and chalked it up to our youthful innocence. That’s why, 41 years later, we are still laughing at our selves. It keeps the marriage strong.
When our daughters came of the age to date we instilled the same standards that we had. Dating was for marriage, not for entertainment. Our oldest daughter learned at the age of 16 that sneaking around behind her parent’s back was not a good idea. Angie had gone into her room because Marisa had not put her washed clothes away as requested. While Angie was doing that, she discovered a packet of “love letters” and a small stuffed animal from a local boy named Joey.
When Marisa got home from school she was sent straight to her room to await the arrival of the father person, aka The Executioner.
When I arrived at home I was presented with the evidence. After carefully reading all of the letters I went into Marisa’s room to find her in the fetal position on the bed in a flood of tears. I comforted my distraught daughter and asked her if she really loved him. She responded:
“I think so”
I asked:”Do you think both of you are ready for marriage?”
“No” she replied through her tears.
I reasoned with her and after discussing the facts she agreed it was not the right time to start dating. I thanked her for her reasonableness and asked her one final question:
What is Joey’s phone number?”
Later that night I had an intense conversation with Joey with his father present. My final words to him were:
“When you think you are old enough for marriage and you want to court my daughter, please prove your a man and respectfully approach me first”
Joey agreed and that was the last we saw of him. I am happy to say that Marisa found her Knight in Shining Armor and has been happily married to Daren for over 18 years now. Yes, he asked me first.
When my daughter Ashley came of age I was approached by a young man who asked me if he could date my daughter. Apparently Ashley learned from her older sister and avoided the embarrassment her sister experienced. I replied to him:
“Are you sure? You know she’s crazy, takes after her mother.”
Gregg laughed softly and acknowledged his awareness of her “issues”.
“Are you sure?” I repeated, “I’m not kidding, if she misses her medication your gonna have to hide all the sharp objects.”
The boy didn’t listen to me and six months later he again approached me and asked for her hand in marriage.
“Are you sure?” I again asked, “You are aware that she only has one operation left to make her a real woman.”
Gregg thought I was kidding and again requested her hand.
“Ok,” I said, “Please know that we have a strict no return policy.”
They have been married 11 years now. He only tried to return her once and it didn’t work.
Yes, we are old fashioned. We feel that the standards we stuck to really helped our kids develop into almost normal people.
As a service to all fathers out there I have made up the following document:
APPLICATION TO DATE MY DAUGHTER
1.) Full name:____________________________________ (This means what do people call you?)
2.) Address:_____________________________________( This means where do you live?)
3.) Name and address of closest living relative:_________________ ( Just in case you mess around with my daughter then the police will know who the next of kin are. )
4.) Contact information :_____________________________ ____________________________________________ ( Please include all phone numbers, social media sites with sign on names and passwords so your pages can be reviewed for inappropriate pictures – videos – music, your email address, driving record and criminal record –Note: If you have a criminal record please put down the application and leave the premises immediately!)
5.) Place of employment:______________________________ (Please attach 5 years of employment records)
6.) Annual income:_________________________________ (Please attach 5 years of income tax records)
GENERALINFORMATION: (please circle all applicable items)
Sex: Male Female Not sure Haven’t Checked Checked but not sure (Note: if you handwrite “yes” in this section please put down this application and leave the premises immediately!)
Type of Transportation:
1.) Car 2.) Pickup Truck without a lift kit
3.) Pickup Truck with a lift kit (indicating compensation for something)
4.) Van without a bed in it 5.) Van with a bed in it (If circled put down the application and leave the premises immediately!)
6.) Bicycle 7.) Skateboard
8.) Don’t know what transportation means
1.) Are you missing any body parts? ____
2.) Do you have any additional body parts? _____
3.) Do you have any additional holes in your body that you were not born with? _____ (If yes, please attach a doctor’s note as to why they are there)
4.) Do you have any tattoos? ____ (If yes, were you intoxicated at the time?)
(Please note: All spelling, grammar counts.)
(No crayons or hand drawn pictures)
1.) In fifty words or less, please describe what “Don’t touch my daughter!” means to you:
2.) In fifty words or less, please describe what “abstinence” means to you:
3.) Please list the top three body parts you do not want removed:
(No slang please, I.E. “junk” is not a body part.)
Please allow 7 years to process your application. While you wait for the processing please note that ANY contact with my daughter will void your application and trigger a visit from my East Coast Family, Bubba, Fat Frank, Little Frank and Uncle Corleone’.
For expedited handling please attach $500 cash to this application (no small bills please, no refunds)
Disclaimer: I am not afraid of going back to prison.
My oldest daughter, Marisa, was on a girls trip with her friends to Lake Tahoe where they shared a rental home for 5 days. One of her friends was bringing her 5 year old daughter, Jasmine, with her so Marisa thought it would be nice to take her 5 year old nephew, Henry, with her. This is one of the supposedly wise children of mine that has remained childless by choice. Apparently she let sentiment get in the way and cloud her judgement. It was not long until reality hit her in the face, sort of.
The following is a literal transcript from a group text my daughter Marisa sent out after the first night.
“Last night, when I got ready for bed, I was coming into our room after washing my face and the following conversation took place:
Henry: “Your face looks different.”
Me: “I washed my makeup off.”
Henry: “You look like a tired zombie.”
This morning after kicking me all night and getting me up at 6:30am….
Me: “Morning bubby.”
Henry: “Can you put your makeup on now?””
Another text followed several days later.
“The difference between boys and girls. Jasmine is quietly making a sandcastle. Henry is throwing wet sand on his crotch.”
Marisa’s sister Ashley replied:
“At least he isn’t throwing it at her crotch”
“That comes in 13 years.””
This proves 2 points:
1.) My children have inherited their father’s inappropriate wit.
2.) Children are like little drunks. They are very blunt and very honest. They say what they see.
Angie and I witnessed that in the 30 years, 2 months and 27 days that we spent raising our rabble.
When Marisa was 2 years old we were living in Idaho. One day I heard her call out from her mommy and daddy’s bedroom:
“Daddy! I found a yellow yucky!”
I went in to see her great discovery and to my horror saw my little one holding up a used latex birth control device. We are grateful that this child did not have a balloon obsession.
My nephew was 5 years old when I walked past him and saw he was hanging onto “himself” very tightly. I asked him if he needed to go to the potty and he said:
“Then why are you grabbing yourself so tight?” I asked.
“It feels good” he replied.
I quickly informed his father that his son is in need of “the talk.”
My first son, Benjamin, was with us at our place of worship when he approached a very well endowed lady and informed her that she had “big boobs”. Benjamin was also the one who got into a van full of his mothers friends and exclaimed “Ewe! Who farted?” It was only after years of counseling and therapy that we felt comfortable in bringing him out in public again.
Our youngest daughter, Ashley, is more of a inappropriate visual type than the inappropriate talking type. Again, we were at our place of worship when Ashly had a small “accident” on the way there. Angie merely removed the soiled underwear and told her to keep her dress down. Wrong thing to tell a very animated child. The moment she got into the building she saw an older woman she liked and shouted:
“Sandy! I don’t have any panties on!” while raising her dress up over her head.
This is the same child that developed the unpopular habit of sneaking up behind people and pinching them on the inner thighs. She did that to an Elder in our congregation while he was bent over getting a drink from the water fountain. He almost put his head through the wall behind the fountain. Our family was banned to the back of the auditorium for several years. Ashley is now 30 years old and still in therapy.
Our youngest son, Tristan, was always quiet. I do not recall any inappropriate utterances as the boy just did not talk much. Those are the scary ones. We voted him as the one who would earn great fame in a clock tower with a sniper rifle. (Just kidding Tris, please don’t advance me up on your “hit list”.) Last time I checked I was at #6. I am comfortable in that position as I have great confidence the police will find him before he gets to me.
Our grandchildren have continued the family trait of inappropriateness as can be seen by the first story involving Henry. Not to be left out, his older brother, Hayden, has uttered a few choice observations of his own. There was the time his grandmother was changing in front of him when he was 2 years old and let out a loud “Yuck!” when she got down to her underwear. Then there was the time that he was running around without his shirt off and noticed those two dark circle on his chest. He ran up to his auntie and asked what they were. She informed him that they were called his nipples and that everyone had them. “Can I see yours?” he asked. After a long pause, the subject was quickly changed.
At a group Bible study the subject of the day was the Resurrection. The conductor asked the question:
“What does the word resurrection mean?”
A young boy raised his hand and said:
“I’m not sure but I heard on TV that if you have one for more than 4 hours you have to go to the doctor.”
I think we can finish this discussion with a classic comment our then 5 year old Benjamin said while we were visiting the Sacramento zoo. We were watching the elephants when one of the beasts lifted his tail straight up and the rear end of the thing started pooching out until a large deposit of digested elephant food landed on the ground with a large “plop”. Benjamin observed this event with rapt attention and then exclaimed loudly to everyone present:
“Dad! That elephant’s bottom fell off!”
Every family goes through tragedy and our family is not immune to this fact. The big difference is the way our family handles these tragedies. We deal with tragedy with humor and sarcasm. It is our coping method and this sometimes has a interesting effect on the first responders and the medical staff at the local ER.
Back in the year 2000 I had what appeared to be a heart attack at home. This was at 2am. I woke Angie to tell her I couldn’t catch my breath and it felt like I had a fat lady sitting on my chest. Why a fat lady? I don’t know, possibly my mother had an unfortunate fright at the circus side show while she was pregnant with me. At least this one didn’t have a beard. Angie called 911 and the paramedics arrived quickly and whisked me off to the emergency room. As they were wheeling me out of the house on the gurney Angie ran into the room and threw my wallet like a fastball right into my crotch while shouting “Here’s your wallet!” My mind quickly was diverted from the fat lady and the paramedics obviously were wondering what they got themselves into. Fortunately it turned out not to be a heart attack but the start of a panic attack syndrome that we have been dealing with handily ever since.
Earlier this month something happened in by brain that caused me to lose the ability to speak clearly. I started stuttering severely. At first, Angie thought I was just goofing around with her so she didn’t take it seriously. I knew something was wrong but couldn’t figure out how to tell her as I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth properly. When Angie told my oldest daughter that her father was acting weirder than normal Marisa called me. When she heard what I sounded like she came over and took me to the ER as she thought it might be a stroke. The ER staff were fantastic and got me back into a room and started running all sorts of tests. Word quickly spread to all the kids and soon the room was crowded with all the unique characters that make up our family.
Room 1 in Quad A of the Kaiser Permanente Hospital Emergency Department was transformed from a sterile room of healing to a noisy party room complete with laughter, jokes and random mayhem. Of course, Marisa was with me when we arrived but she was quickly joined by her sister Ashley who started looking closely at all the tubes, wires and monitors hooked up to her father. When I finally managed to get out the question:
“Wwwhhaatt aarree yyoouu llllooookiiinggg fffooorr?”
She looked at me and said:
“I’m looking for the one I need to unplug if I have to.”
Ashley has appointed herself the official “plug puller” of the family.
Soon I had a standing room crowd of Sons, Daughters, Son in Law, and even an occasional employee from the family business. These all showed appropriate concern and compassion but I did notice several had sales brochures from the nearby new car dealerships. It is at times like these that you realize how important you are to your family and friends. They are so kind and loving but sometimes they seem obsessed about me having my life insurance policy always paid up and current.
I think Marisa is the one who expressed it so eloquently when she recently said to me:
“Dad, we don’t want you to die, but if you do, we want to wipe our tears with cash.”
Blaringly missing from this ensemble was the bride of my youth, love of my life and probably the reason I am in this current condition, Angie. She was off doing very important things and probably thought I was still just kidding around with the stuttering thing.
I am not sure which one of my kids asked me to say “That’s All Folks!” but I am going to review the security tape and reward them properly.
They took me off for a CAT scan and when we returned we found the “concerned family members” had gotten bored and were experimenting with all the gadgets and devices in a hospital emergency room. My sons were working with the “endoscope” in a truly inappropriate way. Ashley had her lip stuck to the suction port in the wall because she didn’t know how to turn it off. My son in law, Daren, was sticking test pads to various parts of his body and was soon to discover the reason why they shave your chest to attach them.
The doctor didn’t find anything on the CAT scan so he ordered up a MRI. Soon we had a technician from the Radiology Department arrive to take a pre-MRI questionnaire. They are apparently very concerned about any metal you might have in your body as the MRI is a giant magnet and it is real bothersome when a patient’s posterior is stuck in the tube and the tray they put you on comes out of the machine empty. The final question was if I was claustrophobic as the tube you go in is really tight. I replied in the affirmative for claustrophobia and he then asked me what my drug of choice was. I asked what he had and he started listing off all sorts of choices. I told him to just give me his favorite and make it a double. Soon I am sliding over to the tray they put you on to slide you into the machine and I asked when my drug order was to be administered. The MRI technician got a look of concern and told me they were supposed to have administered that before I came over. She informed me that I had two choices: 1.) Go back to the ER and get loaded, which would delay the test until the next day, or 2.) Put my big boy panties on and tough it out. I chose option 2 as it was going on 10 hours since my arrival. She said just close your eyes and do not open them under ANY circumstances and think about your “happy place”. For the next 25 minutes I spent quality time in my personal “happy place” which was back in the company of my looney family and how I was going to reward them of the compassion, love and embarrassment I had been subjected to this day. I was halfway through the dissection of my son in law when I felt the tray coming out of the device.
Upon my return I discovered that my dear wife had finally decided to join the festivities. She had brought a bottle of Club Soda with her incase she got thirsty waiting for my demise. Why Club Soda? It was the only “wet thing” in a bottle she could find. Don’t try to figure that one out or your arm will start spasmodically shaking as mine does. The following is living proof of the insanity of my family. Please enjoy and send your sympathy messages to the comment section of this blog.
Health update: All the tests came back negative which shows why they call it the “practice of medicine”. In other words, they don’t know what is wrong. More testing to follow, I won’t be inviting my family……
My children now insist on stuttering in their texts to me. Marisa texted me recently with this:
I am sitting at my laptop with peanut M&M’s and a glass of Crown Royal on the rocks thinking of a new subject for this blog. All of a sudden Bella, Angie’s little Chupacabra, comes running into the room chasing a fly. Her stubby tail is at full mast and waging up and down vigorously (note: not side to side as a normal dog, Chupacabras wag up and down) as she chases this evil intruder around the room. This has starting me thinking about the relationships between the humans in our family and their pets.
Let’s take for example the relationship between Angie and her little alleged dog, Bella. This creature will not let Angie out of her sight. If Angie steps outside the little psycho jumps up on the back of the easy chair by the window and looks for her while loudly whining that her little world is coming to an end. Leave her alone for any span of time and she will eat the front door or window frames. When you take her out on the leash she walks at a 45-degree angle ahead of you with her hairless back hunched up and her nose to the ground. Neighborhood children run into their houses screaming in fright at the sight of her. This beast is indestructible. She sleeps right between me and Angie. We have a queen size bed and we would be considered king-size in most cultures. Somehow, she avoids being crushed or suffocated every night. Bella is also addicted to drugs. She freaks out when you get the laser light out (we call it her “crack”). Just mention the word and her little stubby tail pops straight up as if it just mainlined Viagra. She chases the thing in circles and across the room while screeching (that is her bark) loudly. She once got out front and started to run down the street, Angie yelled after her:
“Bella! Want some crack?”
When she saw the shocked look on the neighbors that were outside she yelled:
“Oh! I mean a snack! Want a Big Mac?”
Now, let’s consider my youngest daughter’s relationship with her dog, Brooklyn. Brooklyn is a female black lab. Obviously, this dog was deprived of oxygen at birth as whenever she comes over to our house she tap dances on the Pergo floor while wagging her tail furiously and trying to lick any exposed parts of your body. Ashley considers this dog as her child. If the dog passes gas she will ask us:
“Does that smell right to you?” All the while dialing up the vet so her digestive system can be checked out.
This dog’s vet recently bought a Mercedes. Brooklyn is her favorite patient. Let’s put it this way. If Ashley’s husband Gregg was walking Brooklyn on a frozen lake and they both fall in, Ashley will rescue the dog. You’re on your own, Gregg. When this dog dies I think we will have to put down Ashley so that she can be buried with her, just like the Pharaohs of Egypt did.
Our youngest son, Tristan, has a cat. This cat surely did drugs in his youth as this cat is not normal. Not that you can consider any cat normal. The cat loves Tristan and readily jumps into his lap when he gets home to rub on him and purr. Then he attacks him. I think the cat was watching a wildlife documentary while Tristan was at work and decided he needed to return to his people.
Marisa, our first child, has cats. As in plural. She will turn into the crazy cat lady when she gets older. Both cats hate each other but love her. This leads to some interesting interactions. Marisa’s husband, Daren, has a very large snake that lives in a case in the living room. The cats are very entertained when the snake gets fed a live rat. They put on silly hats and wear foam fingers and cheer on the snake. These cats will probably kill my daughter in her sleep one day and Daren will feed them to the snake.
Benjamin, our first son, and his family also have a snake, a rat and an insane purebred Husky named Hero. This dog literally ate all their furniture and carpet when he was young. Fortunately, he has calmed down and has turned into a great dog. Whenever he is at our family’s company office and I come in he greets me with a howl while coming up for a good back scratch. Benjamin has followed in the family tradition of having many pets around and has experienced the same thrills we did when he was growing up in our household of insanity with pets.
I, of course, have a couple of pets of my own. One is a very fat cat Ashley gave me named Felix. I call him Fat Boy. This cat loves coming into the house and rolling over on his back like a turtle and looking at me as if to say “Feed Me!” This cat can only groom the front half of his body as the rear section is too far to reach. Fat Boy, like all cats, loves to show off his butt hole to everyone. I think it is their way of showing that we are worthy to be around them. He reminds me of the poster I saw with a cat showing his pucker butt with the heading: “James, prepare my anus. I will be showing it at tonight’s gala”. Fat Boy is very lazy. I have literally watched him lay next to his food bowl and watch a backyard rat come up and eat out of it. I think he was offended that his dinner guest did not put any food in his mouth while he was there.
I also have Buster. Tristan gave him to me. Buster is a Pitbull mix and is the happiest dog I have ever seen. When anyone comes over he wags his whole body at them vigorously while looking at them with love. He is, though, very protective of his back yard. Any humans are welcomed in with joy. Even the burglars and riff raff of the neighborhood. Buster will gladly show them where the gold is hidden. Not so with any unknown felines, racoons, opossums, squirrels and so on. Interestingly he treats Fat Boy and Bella like family. It appears Fat Boy has informed him on the proper treatment of the back-yard rats. He ignores them completely also. Recently, at 2am, Buster got into a tangle with the local oversized neighborhood Racoon named Rocky right under our open bedroom window. The fight sounded ferocious with loud snarling and growling from both participants. I turned on the back-yard lights just in time to see Rocky, minus a large amount of butt hair, scurrying over the fence to safety. Buster stood there with a mouthful of said butt hair with a look of his face that said, “That was fun! Can we do it again?” Two weeks later, while petting Buster, we found a lump on his fore leg that turned out to be one of Rocky’s fangs. Buster was the celebrity for the day at the vet after they removed it. I think our local racoon is irritated as not only is his butt cold but he is having issues chewing his stolen cat/dog food.
Angie and I travel a lot. By doing so we have learned how to fit in with the locals and not be blatantly touristy. If you plan to travel this is good information to know.
We are currently near Monterey, California and the distinction from local / tourist is easily seen. The locals are dressed normally. The tourists are not.
Who decreed that all tourists must wear cargo shorts? Male and female alike. Their legs have not seen the light of day since that unfortunate clothing malfunction at Walmart. Children are trying to play “connect the dots” on your legs while they stand in line to pay twice the normal price for mediocre food at Bubba Gump’s. They are walking around like they are on walkabout in Australia with Crocodile Dundee. Floppy hat and all. All they are missing is the large knife on their belts. But then again, I never observed Crocodile Dundee wear a fanny pack.
Why a fanny pack? Cargo shorts are full of pockets. They wear the pack up front as a large neon sign flashing “Tourist coming! Raise your prices! Try to sell me $500 worth of skin cream!” The term “fanny pack” is clearly an indication that the pack goes over your “fanny” which is understood in most countries of the world as your butt. The only exception is in England where the term “fanny” refers to the front lower region of females only, unless you have had gender surgery. That term is also quite rude in England. Maybe it should have a gender-neutral term applied in light of all the gender issues popping up around the world. How about a “might be a fanny pack” or a “you are going to have to guess pack”.
Angie and I were getting some drinks at a beach side establishment with some friends in Maui. We were at a table close to the pedestrian path that was between us and the beach. Along comes Mr. Universe of 1942 in a speedo. Probably the same one he wore in the 1942 competition. This was in 2017 and aging has had a sad effect of Mr. Universe. I had to stop him and tell him that the potato goes in front. The last thing you want to see in beautiful Maui is a shirtless 95-year-old packing a load. Male OR female. Old people, we love you but please keep your clothes on. You are scaring those of us that are heading your direction in age.
When Angie and I travel out of the country I always try to learn enough of the local language to get around. Standard greetings, how to ask directions, asking what the wiggling thing on your plate is and so on. My favorite go-to book is “Learn *insert the language here* for dummies.” I feel it is only polite to try to address people in the native tongue seeing as how I am the visitor. Angie and I went to France several times (the rumor that the waiters are rude is untrue, unless you insist on speaking English). The book told me to adopt the accent of the people of the country you are visiting. For France I am “Pepe’ Le Pew”, for Latin America I am “Speedy Gonzales”, For Italy I am “The At-Sa Spicy Meatball Guy”. I have a friend from Italy and when I used that accent he told me:
“We don-a talk-a that way”
“Yes-a you do-a” I replied.
We went to Italy with that same family a couple of years back and Angie developed a “Potty Problem” and we had to go to the pharmacy. We took their 15-year-old son Enzo with us to translate. Angie was constipated.
The conversation went like this translated from Italian:
Enzo: “Excuse me, but my friend has problems bringing herself to use the toilet, do you have something to help her?”
Pharmacist: “Yes, would she like an herbal or a pharmaceutical medication?”
Enzo: “Pharmaceuticle please”
As the pharmacist went back to get the medication Angie asked Enzo to see if they carry anything for hemorrhoids. Enzo was a little taken aback. That is not the common thing to talk about with a 15-year-old boy that has known you all his life. When the pharmacist came back Enzo tried his best to make the additional request but was not using the right word for “Hemorrhoid” This led to an animated discussion in Italian as to the medication needed. They finally figured it out and the pharmacist informed Enzo that they have some cream for that issue. As he was going back to get it Angie asked Enzo if he could see if they have any suppositories while gesturing emphatically with two fingers of her hand in an upward motion.
“No” Enzo replied.
Several years back Angie and I were at the Louver Museum in Paris. We loved the place and spent three days exploring it. As we were in the central hall in the lobby area I was doing my normal “Pepe’ Le Pew” imitation by greeting passerby’s with:
“Bon Jour! Come tale’ vou’?”
A French family approached me and asked (I am assuming here) directions to some area in French.
“Huh Huh Huhhh!” I replied while gesturing wildly.
“Merci’” they replied and headed off in the general direction of my spasmodic gesturing.
I told Angie we need to leave the hall and when she asked why I responded:
“I don’t know where I sent those people”
Angie did the same thing in Italy minus the cheesy accent and wild gestures. We were in one of the train stations in Milan. While my Italian friend and I were looking at the train route map, Angie noticed this Arabian couple staring at her. Angie was thinking in her mind that they were going to come up and ask her a question in Italian as Angie assumed she looked Italian. (She looks as Italian as Arnold Swartznagger looks Chinese) Angie started to panic as she saw they were approaching her.
“Excuse us,” they said in perfect English, “Could you direct us to the Central Station?”
“I’m sorry,” Angie replied, “I don’t speak English”
“But your speaking English to us” was their reply.
“Oh” said Angie. “Maybe you should ask them” as she pointed to me and our friend.
I wonder why most other countries don’t like Americans?