The 3 Weirdest Things That Happened This Week

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork
  1. My Pants Don’t Fit Anymore

If it were up to me, everyone would walk around wearing a burlap sack around their body and a paper bag over their head. Then we’d all stop wasting so much time trying to look presentable. Seriously! 99% of the world’s problems would be solved within 2 years if we took the time we waste at the gym or putting on makeup on things like “Science” or “Learning-How-To-Get-Along-With-People-Who-Don’t-Believe-In-Your-God.”

Alas, the “Burlap and Paper Bag” look hasn’t hit just yet, so I am left with my usual baggy hoodie sweatshirt and baseball cap look. I noticed I looked a little puffier in this getup recently, and immediately weighed myself to discover the extent of my new-found largesse. I am 8 % heavier in the US than I was back in France! (8 % isn’t a large number when say, buying some breakfast cereal at the store, but adding that to an already questionable gross tonnage can have noticeably significant ramifications.) I was/am concerned.

Mostly, I was irritated why this was happening. While in France, I ate rich, unadulterated foods that had a way of communicating to my brain to I needed to stop eating. I don’t know how, but portions there are tiny and fabulous, (which is totally what I am going to name my all midget revue dedicated to Barbara Streisand covers.) American Paul AKA, “Fat Paul,” “Tubby P” or Amy’s current fave, “El Lipidor,” eats and drinks way too much, evidently whatever communication happening between my brain and belly in France has been silenced here. Also, I eat way too much of the following items which are more readily part of the American Dad Diet:

– Nachos

– Beer

– Nachos and Beer

Now, my pants don’t fit any more. The good news is that this means I usually don’t need to wear a belt. The bad news is that “El Lipador” will probably get diabetes soon. I gotta either figure out how to live here with some limits or get an extra large burlap sack and hope to change the fashion industry from the outside.

  1. We Bought 27 Bottles Of Wine At A Grocery Store!

I love a good deal. It’s hereditary. The happiest I ever saw my dad is the day that we went to a drug store that was going out of business. While in the store, they announced over the loudspeakers that all greeting cards were free. Not reduced. Not massively reduced, but free. My dad came out of that store with an entire shopping cart of greeting cards and tears in his eyes because he was laughing so hard. We didn’t pay for cards for a whole decade after. Towards the end, people were more likely to receive cards from us that read, “To my nephew on his Bar Mitzvah” than an appropriately worded greeting.

Were stopped at a store the other day to pick up some wine on our way to a friend’s house for dinner. (That apostrophe was intentional, Wolf’s, we only like one of you. You gotta figure out which one!) While at the grocery store, I noticed two shopping carts full of wine deeply discounted to around $8. Armed with a cool wine app called Vivino, I scanned each label in the cart, reviewed the cost of the wine and looked at the reviews to determine whether it was a good deal, and then snagged every single decent wine from those two carts.

Oh, and I went sailing! Look at me, I'm sailing!

Oh, and I went sailing! Look at me, I’m sailing!

While shopping, I had the same look of joy in my eyes as my dad did when when he walked out of that Thrifty store. That look led some other customers, curious as to how we could turn rummaging around in a discount wine cart into a joyous affair, to as us what the scoop was. Mostly, they wanted to know which wines still in the bargain cart were any good. I told them that everything in our cart was good and that nothing in the discount cart was worth it. They were impressed and mad at us all at once. The look, and the fact that we were in the process of buying 27 bottles of wine in the middle of the day at a grocery store, caused Malcolm to ask if he could join someone else’s family, preferably one that wasn’t so embarrassing. Maybe one day he’ll do the same and remember fondly when we turned Lunardi’s into our private wine auction.

  1. I Got A Job!

I like to cook. More specifically, I like to eat (see Weird Thing #1, above, for more details.) Stay-at-home-daddying has given a unique opportunity to learn how to do both, and after 10 years of watching cooking shows, and trying different recipes/techniques, (often turning chicken dinner into chicken shit,) I can confidently stay I am good at it. How good?  My lasagna scored a cameo in the upcoming Star Wars Episode VIII movie. Also, I have it on good authority that a ravioli I once made was being considered for Trumps vice-president. (Sadly, the ravioli was deemed too foreign.)

I recently decided to turn this passion for cooking and eating into an income stream. I am joining forces with a startup company to provide delicious home-cooked meals to friends and neighbors who don’t have the time/energy to do so for themselves. It’s a private supper club for people who like fresh, reasonably healthy food and don’t want to sit across the table from me wondering why I am wearing a burlap sack at the dinner table (again.)

I couldn’t be more excited! I believe in food as a means of expression, and cranking out my favorite meals is a way for me to hug my friends and neighbors in the mouth. (Look how awesome I am at talking about food, and I am just getting started!) I plan on cooking two nights a week, two times a week when I can share what I love doing with those close by. How lucky am I? If you live close by, how lucky are you!

Be on the lookout for more details. If you live in the area, be prepared to pony up to the “El Lipador” Express, because this kid’s going places. As I said, food is a way to express yourself, I have a lot of weird, wonderful things to express. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Big Daddy Paul In The News

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

There’s a new article about stay at home dads out, and I was interviewed for it. It’s nice and chewy, covering some interesting research about stay at home dads and me getting a little goofy. Check it out!

 

http://inthefray.org/2016/03/men-at-work-at-home-stay-at-home-dads/

Why I Can’t Write About Paris

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

We were really bummed to hear the news about the terrorist attacks in Paris. Paris is a magical city and we feel quite fortunate that we were able to live there, if only for a short period of time. We have a nice assortment of good friends there, and, while they are all safe, they must be a bit freaked out. Last weeks events will certainly change Parisian life, although no one is sure just how yet. Terrorism sucks.

I was going to write a post about how it all makes me feel. It was going to be insightful, comparing it to US gun violence and questioning whether a violent response will make things better or worse, yet funny, bringing an irreverence that would benefit a otherwise grim and uncertain time. Then, life got in the way.

On Friday, instead of writing this very important piece, I found myself racing across town trying to unload a few vials of Malcolm’s stool. Why? Why not! Talk about an adrenaline rush; you haven’t really lived until you have your son poop into a garbage bag, scoop some of it into small jars, shake those jars up like one of the bartenders in “Cocktail” and then drive speedily around, just hoping that you get pulled over and have to explain what that smell is. Actually, I wasn’t doing all that for fun, I was doing it in response from a certified letter I received from the county public health administration, requesting I prove my son didn’t have a contagion. Everyone gets those, right? Well, maybe not. Maybe we are special. Maybe one member of our household picked up some intestinal bacteria during one of our trips to Africa last spring, and it went undiagnosed for several months until it was finally noticed during a routine physical. Maybe. I guess the doctor ratted us out to the County and didn’t want us running around spreading African parasites all willy nilly, so they kindly requested proof that we had it treated. We did, but we needed to prove it to the relevant authorities. So anyway, Friday was taken up by fast cars, vials of human feces, racing against the clock to get the sample to the lab before it closed and avoiding storing said vials at the house over the weekend and being nauseated to the point of no return. (Can anyone sleep soundly knowing that there are jars of human waste in the house? Believe you me, I can’t even if they are in the fucking garage.) Luckily, I got to the lab before the doors were locked and the stool sample properly went to wherever such things properly go. While I was relieved, I didn’t get much writing done.

Saturday was Malcolm’s birthday party. He had five friends come over for a sleepover, turning our house into 85% jokes about butts, farts and balls, 10% eating junk food, and 5% screaming at one another over various Minecraft transgressions. (And, another 5% bad math!) We hid from them under a blanket watching the Warriors basketball game. Such an environment is hardly one that lends itself to writing, so I didn’t get anything done. I did, however, take solace in the fact that the boys were not able to play with two vials of poop we had lying around. We also smartly threw away the directions for collecting samples, not wanting to give the the boys any ideas. That would have been too much.

On Sunday, we went to a musical. Our friends’ daughter is into theater and we watched her production of Tarzan. Community theater productions are pretty engaging. On the one hand, there are some amazing people with amazing abilities who make you wish you were that good at something. Then, there are the “other” people in the production. These others seem like they are only there because they lost a bet. (Once, after a particularly unlucky March Madness, I had to play “Rum Tum Tugger” for an entire run of “Cats” at the Bakersfield Repertory Theater. Not pretty.) Watching someone young do a shitty job onstage is painful, mostly because you feel sorry for their parents, who are probably in the audience are squirming in their seats, wishing their kids knew more about sports. Sunday was a mixture of highs and lows, mostly highs. Our friends’ kid did great, which saved us from having to lie to their faces and tell them that their talentless stage sponge was in fact, Barbara Streisand. Phew!

Two things about this pic: 1- I heart Paris, 2- I suck at Photoshop

Two things about this pic: 1- I heart Paris, 2- I suck at Photoshop

I realized at the end of our weekend that my moment had passed. Like we do, we’ve moved on to the next thing, whether it’s preparing for Thanksgiving or watching videos of cats that are completely freaked out by the sight of cucumbers. It’s too bad, really, because it was going to quite sophisticated. Instead, I leave you all, including my dear friends in Paris, with stories about vials of stool sloshing around in my passenger seat and the imagery of what I would look like as a giant, stupid, cucumber-fearing cat.

You’re welcome.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

One of the French traditions that I am loving the most right now is the Sunday Roast Chicken. (Don’t even think of stealing the name for your bowling team. I got dibs.) Sacrosanct, like scarves or complaining about your landlord, there is nothing finer than sitting around the table on a day of rest, enjoying fresh, uncomplicated food with your people. Based on my recent experiences making this traditional meal, I have prepared a step-by-step guide so that you can do this at home. Here it is:

Step 1- Get a chicken. Why settle for a supermarket chicken? My favorite is to go to our open air market and select one from the many butcher stands there. On Saturday, my favorite butchers had a nice, plump 2.5 kilogram chicken, complete with information about the farm it was raised on. Even without a detailed description of how this bird spent its days, I could tell from the meaty legs that it got a lot of exercise playing games like, “Chicken rugby” or “Holy crap, here comes the dog, run for your lives!” With a bird in the hand, I returned to our house to cook it.

Step 2- Prepare the bird. Some people are overly fussy about their pre-roasting routine, brining, marinating, and/or seasoning under the chicken’s skin. Here, the meat is so wonderfully chicken-y that I just rub a lot of salt and pepper on the outside. This last time, I got ready to do so and discovered this:

IMG_2501

So, yes. I guess on prior trips to the market the butchers took pity on meand removed the head (and feet!) themselves. Perhaps I have begun to fit in a little around here, and this one made it home looking a little less “Marie Antoinette” than I would have hoped. I briefly procrastinated by removing the internal organs before gearing up for the final task. If this happens to you, don’t worry. You have the skills to do this.

Step 3- Cut the head off the chicken. It’s simple really. Even so, when it happened to me, I stared into the dead chicken’s eye for a few minutes and, unable to proceed, I decided to take a quick detour from the task at hand.

Step 4- Open a bottle of wine. Sure, you probably going to drink some with the Sunday Roast Chicken, anyways, but I needed some wine to just get to the point where I could get the stupid thing in the oven. I drank the wine (more like a shot than I would care to admit,) and even forced some down the chicken’s throat. None of the involved parties should be sober when cutting off a chicken’s head.

Step 5- Do it. With my newly found liquid courage, I commenced the beheading. I split the job into 2 steps, since I wanted to keep the neck for use in making chicken stock. First, I severed the head at the top of the neck. It went through surprisingly easily. Then, I rolled back the skin of the neck near the chicken’s body and found a place to hack through with a knife. When I was done, the trachea fell out of the neck, as did the contents of my lunch shortly thereafter.

Step 6- Gross your kids out. Having a newly severed chicken head is a wonderful way to get back at your kids for getting on your nerves. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Step 7- Roast the chicken. I heated up the oven to 190 degrees and then rested the bird on top of a layer of potatoes.

I really wanted to make this post about the simple, wonderful tradition of a family meal together. But seriously. I had a chicken head! What was I supposed to do, pretend it wasn’t there? Not me. You all know how to roast a chicken, it’s not rocket science. What you probably don’t know is what to do with a chicken head and some free time. I got you covered. Without further ado, here is how the chicken head and I spent the rest of the day.

First, I introduced my friend to my fantasy football team. He said I should have drafted Andrew Cluck.

First, I introduced my friend to my fantasy football team. He said I should have drafted Andrew Cluck.

 

Then, we re-enacted some famous scenes from movies. If I was a famous movie producer, I sure wouldn't want to wake up with this in my bed!

Then, we re-enacted some famous scenes from movies. Don’t mess with those Corleones!

 

Next, we had some philosophical debates. He got his feathers in a bunch over it though.

Next, we had some philosophical debates.

 

Next, we chilled out and watched some TV. I thought he'd only be into animal planet, but it turns out he's into the period dramas.

After, we chilled out and watched some TV. I thought he’d only be into animal planet, but it turns out he’s into the period dramas. Who knew!

 

Alas, only so much time could pass before he wanted to see some more of Paris. He wanted to go up it, but the lines were too long.

Alas, only so much time could pass before he wanted to see some more of Paris. What a beautiful day on the Seine for me and my chicken head!

 

Finally, our time together came to an end. (He started to smell something awful.) His final resting place befitted his status as "Something extra on our dinner that I never really wanted." That's him next to the soda can at the bottom.

Finally, our time together came to an end. (He started to smell something awful.) His final resting place befitted his status as “Something extra on our dinner that I never really wanted.” That’s him next to the water bottle at the bottom.

 

Chicken head, I will always remember our special day together. You taught me a lot, and made me constantly dry heave. Cue the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing.

Chicken head, I will always remember our special day together. You taught me a lot, and made me constantly dry heave. Cue the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing.

Another Day In Paradise

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

So this happened (For simplicity sake, conversations in French are noted with italics):

I started my day with my post-Malcolm drop-off walk in the park. Last week, I saw Mary Joe Fernandez and Patrick McEnroe in the park, as the French Open is going on right now. Today, I only saw a cute old beagle. Or, maybe it was one of the German mixed doubles players. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Anyways, my walk was pretty aggressive. I stopped often to do pushups, squats, danced a little to the Beasties, and got several minutes of planking in. I was very sweaty and tired at the end, and the resulting mental fatigue was probably why I tried to make out with the beagle on my way out of the park.

My day continued with a trip to the golf store. We are going to Norway this weekend and, you know, no sane person goes to Norway without bringing their golf clubs, right? At the golf store, this conversation took place:

Golf man: Where are you going to play golf?

Paul: How?

GM: Where are you, err, Where are you going to go play golf?

P: Oh. Norway.

GM: Where?

P: Norway?

[Pause]

GM: Why?

GM: Unintelligible negative sentiment.

Luckily, they had golf club travel carriers in stock and soon on I was on my merry way home. The man asked if I wanted a bag, but being only a few blocks from our house, I declined.

As I approached our street, I felt like there was something wrong, like the feeling you get on a blind date when the person across the table asks if you enjoy having tea parties with cats. I quickly searched my pockets and discovered that my phone was missing. Evidently, awkwardly carrying the golf travel carriers (without a bag) had dislodged my phone out of my pocket, leaving me with absolutely no ability to play scrabble or stalk my friends on Facebook. What a disaster!

I briefly retraced my last few minutes, and seeing no evidence of my phone, did what any self respecting, sweaty Parisian would do, I went home, showered and put on pants. My next few moves were going to depend on the kindness of strangers, and navigating the complex world of cell phone cancellation while sweaty and dressed in workout gear wasn’t going to get me any favors. So, while someone was possibly out there running up my cellular bill, I bathed and put on some respectable clothes.

With a fresh wardrobe and outlook on life, I headed to the cell phone company store to suspend my account. The first person I spoke with had excellent command of the English language and I was easily able to explain what I needed to do. However, they soon handed me off to a second person who was less able. A portion of the conversation went as follows:

P#2- Did you lose your phone yesterday?

Me: Yes.

P#2: What time?

Me: 30 minutes ago.

P#2:Wait, did you lose it yesterday or today?

Me: Who? (My French “question” words suck, as you can tell)

P#2: (confused) Did you lose your phone today?

Me: Whoops. Yes, today.

P#2: Unintelligible negative sentiment.

I left the phone store, safe in the knowledge that I had either suspended my account or just purchased a new phone and extended my plan for 5 years.

On my way to the police station to fill out some paperwork about the phone, I stopped at the golf store to check to see whether the phone may have popped out before leaving. This conversation ensued:

Me: Hello there, I lost my motorcycle. (I have replayed this conversation in my head many, many times and for the life of me I cannot understand why the word for motorcycle came out of my mouth at this time.)

GM: Unintelligible negative sentiment.

Me: I lost my cell phone while out running errands. Did you find one here?

GM: A what?

Me: MY CELL PHONE.

At this point the man put a pretend phone to his ear and pantomimed making a call.

Me: Yes, yes A CELL PHONE.

GM: (Blank stare.)

Me: Is it possible that I left it here, did you find MY CELL PHONE.

GM: No.

Me: OK.

The man then pantomimed making a call again, and I realized he was asking whether I had tried calling my phone.

Me: Oh, I haven’t tried calling it. I guess I should try that.

The exceedingly nice golf man then handed me their store phone to make the call. He is quite nice to not just be done with me, and I began to appreciate his generosity. I called my number, and, lo and behold, a woman answered it. I was elated for exactly one second before becoming irritated that the cellular company hadn’t shut it down yet. This mental distraction was the reason the following conversation took place on the phone:

Nice Woman Who Found My Phone: I found your phone in the street!

Me: Good morning madam, I lost my phone. My name is Paul Schwartz! (It was 1 pm.)

NWWFMP: I found your phone, and I don’t [untranslatable words in French].

Me: Uh, do you speak English?

NWWFMP: A moment.

Nice Woman Who Found My Phone’s Friend: Hello, we found your phone in the street.

Me: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I then made arrangements to pick up the phone and did so. Luckily for me, the NWWFMP found my phone near the gutter in the street, evidently after I had dislodged it while walking back to our apartment. I found all this out because her friend was from San Diego and could give me a full account. Boy, am I lucky! I then proceeded back to the cellular store and the golf store to show everyone I had retrieved my phone. I felt like I was a total winner and not a complete loser who had just lost a cell phone by causing it to fall out of his own pocket. Now I can play Scrabble again, but not without some serious pain inflicted.

After experiences like this, I like to do a little mental inventory and take down some lessons learned. Here is what I learned:

1. Don’t try and make out with anything at the park.

2. If the man at the golf store asks if you want a bag, say, “Yes!”

3. Learn the correct French word for cell phone.

Perhaps you already knew these things. I didn’t. Now, I do.

Malcolm wasn’t there for any of this, but if he was, he would have looked at me like this:

IMG_6209

Big Daddy Paul Is Lousy At Making Friends

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork, Uncategorized

I noticed last week that my best friend in Paris still enjoys playing with stuffed animals. It was a, “What am I doing with my life?” moment, and I stepped up my efforts to make some connections on the friend-front. Granted, I am not expecting to replace all my friends back in the bay area, but it would be nice to have conversations with someone capable of making the “th” sound properly. (“Daddy, da fird grade teacher told me I didn’t do nuffing on Fursday!”)

At first, I looked for other stay at home dads here. After whiffing on a search for stay at home dad groups in Paris, I hit Google for the following:

“Male companionship in France.”

“Other Big Daddies in the city of light”

“How to find guys with little ones in Paris.”

That totally didn’t work, although it did reveal some interesting mustache ideas. Strike two.

I switched things up and hit up a website for English speaking expats here. I found that they were having a coffee for new members to the area and it was right down the street from Malcolm’s school. It sounded perfect! I arrived at the cafe and found three groups of people seated at tables quietly engaged in conversation. I stood there dumbly for a second trying to discern which of the groups were my soon to be expat friends, but my keen ear failed to detect any friendly tongues. I investigated by taking a seat at a nearby table and eventually found the English speakers were. As I prepared to make my entry into the conversation, I realized that the two women seated there were talking about breast-feeding. Abort! Abort! How the hell was I supposed to seamlessly get myself into this conversation?

Briefly, I considered the blunt approach:

Hi! My name is Paul. I am from the United States, and my nipples are killing me too!

I was there to make friends, not creep the hell out of people, so I decided the more prudent course of action would be to just wait it out. I ordered coffee and a croissant and hoped that the topic would fizzle sooner rather than later. Five or ten minutes later, I still hadn’t found an entry point. I was getting worried that if I sat there too much longer, I would just wimp out and go home. Then all I would have is a ton of self-loathing and an overworked anti-virus program. After what I considered an acceptable amount of time to talk about the trials and tribulations of nursing, I regrouped and introduced myself (sans nipple references.) They were nice!

Things went smoothly for a while, all of us talking about our backgrounds and making small talk. Soon, more mommies and soon-to-be-mommies showed up and before long, there were eight or so of us engaged. As my luck would have it, I was trapped at the “We are going to talk about babies the whole time,” part of the table. There was a time in our lives when I would be able to hold my own with topics like “Having a baby in a bathtub” or “C-sections, what was yours like?” Eight years removed from Malcolm’s birth, though, I was not really of much use. The sad thing, though, was that I sat there, mute. I definitely felt like the women there should have the space to talk about all this baby stuff (we sure did when Malcolm was a baby,) but I am just not into it anymore. I chimed in whenever the topic of conversation changed, but like the stank of baby vomit on your sweatshirt that you can never fully get rid of, I felt like I was out of place. Did these women want me there? Did I want to be there?

Who's got one thumb and is occasionally socially awkward?

Who’s got one thumb and is occasionally socially awkward?

Is that weird? Can I ask four questions in a row? (Yes!) I am hardly the first dad who has felt a bit out of place around a group of moms. I must say, though, that this is new for me. My stay at home parenting group when Malcolm was little was a group of guys focused on two things, raising kids and drinking beer (although not always in that order.) I’ll take some lumps learning the ropes in this world of mommies, but hopefully it won’t be anything too severe.

I am perfectly willing to chalk this one experience up to “wrong place, wrong time,” though. When women get together they talk about more than just babies, right? I have to assume so. In many respects, finding friends is eerily similar to the dating scene. Not every date is going to go well. Sometimes your date eats salad with their fingers or checks their cell phone too much. Or, sometimes they talk about the inner workings of their uterus to relative strangers. Either way, the key is to not give up. I won’t. Until then, playing stuffies on Fursdays will have to do.

My Christmas Wish(es)

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Moving To France, Paul is a Dork

I love the holidays. If I had to rank the favorite things in my life right now it would go like this:

1. Popcorn

2. Amy

3. The Holidays

4. Music from New Orleans

Needless to say, when we watched a Christmas episode of the show Treme the other night, just me and my baby and big ole’ bowl of popcorn, life was pretty good. (For those of you who who are wondering why Malcolm was omitted, he is currently on my shit list for putting me #5 on his list, behind  “Ipads” and his fantasy football team. Bah humbug to you too kid!)

Besides holiday music, which loops endlessly around our house during this time of year, the biggest reason I like the holidays so much is the sense of hope which pervades the spirit. Whether it’s New Year’s Resolutions that you fulfill yourself or the blind faith that a fat man in a red suit will bring you a slice of happiness, there is something in the air that reads, “Things are gonna totally get better for me.” It’s like a fortune cookie that lasts for an entire month!

So, without further adieu, here are my Christmas wishes:

1. I wish Malcolm would stop asking for his own Ipad. Seriously, the kid won’t shut up about it, even though he still has semi-exclusive use of the one we already got. He isn’t getting one because he there is a 100% probability that he would lose it if we got one for him. In the past 3 weeks, he has lost a pair of nice gloves, a nice hoodie, misplaced two library books and broke his nice glasses. The moral of the story is that he is cut off from nice things that are smaller than a dishwasher until he can demonstrate a certain level of ownership competence. I’m not sure it’s tough love as much as it is simple cheapness on my part. I hate replacing stuff for no good reason!

I am guessing there was some pretty good butter in here, but I want the good stuff by itself!

I am guessing there was some pretty good butter in here, but I want the good stuff by itself!

2. I want to find some good butter. The average, grocery store butter here is pretty darn good. I am still waiting, however, to have an experience where you sample some butter and then immediately slap the person nearest to you in the face. Fingers: crossed.

3. I hope to meet someone here who’d care if I died. You always want to feel part of a community, a group where, if news of your untimely demise hit, it would be met with wails and people muttering, “It was too soon.” I have met some people in Paris, but I have yet to forge any relationships where, if my hand got caught in the door of the metro and I was dragged through the subway tube and decapitated, someone would miss me. Sure it might get some people back int he USA roiled up, but, it’s pretty sobering to think that an entire town of 2 million people would all read my obituary and think, “Who’s that?” I gotta make some friends, and quick. The Metro is pretty dangerous here. Bonus points if that person was a) snarky, and b) liked sports.

4. I want everything to go smoothly during our trip home. We are coming home for the holidays for an extended stay visiting friends and family. We rented a house we on Airbnb.com and a car from relayrides.com. Both websites connect people who aren’t using their houses and cars to people who need their houses and cars. The upside for doing things this way is that they are significantly cheaper than a hotel and traditional rental cars. The downside is that the house could be infested with bats and the car has a body in the trunk. We had to try, though. After all, it wouldn’t be a Wilson-Schwartz adventure without the threat of rabies or an unexplained murder. Fingers: triple crossed!

5. I want my dad to feel better. He has been sick, it seems like, since the beginning of autumn. Sometimes they know what is happening, and give him stuff to make him feel better. Other times, the medical establishment scratches its collective head and says, “beats me!”  Through it all, he’s kept the same sense of humor that has made people groan at his jokes throughout his entire life. Enough is enough, get better pops!

I can't ask someone to slow down when they talk, but I can say "Père Noël" with the best of 'em at least!

I can’t ask someone to slow down when they talk, but I can say “Père Noël” with the best of ’em at least!

6. I want to learn how to speak French. I have been working on it, but I have a long way to go. When the store clerk screams at me for messing up her display, I want to understand what she is saying. When the waitress tells me funny stories about Celine Dion’s husband and child, (who we ate next to a few weeks back,) I want to understand all the goofy details. When my cellphone rings and I don’t know who it is, I want to be confident enough to answer it. (Currently, I don’t. I let it go to voice mail and try to piece together things later.) It’s a bit humbling to get your ass handed to you in a foreign country on a daily basis because you don’t speak the home language. I would like for all that to stop. I don’t need to speak it as well as Celine Dion, mind you, just enough to know what her family is generally like.

7. OK, I’ve thought about it and that’s a pretty long list. Skip everything and just get me the butter. Sorry pops, good butter trumps all.

Happy Holidays to you all and as they say here, Joyeuses Fêtes!

French Faux Pas, Part I

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Moving To France, Paul is a Dork
This is not a rose des sable. Malkie got this one. This is a caramel macaron with two chocolate eyes and a grenache bon bon nose. It's called a macaron clown and Malcolm was in love with it. Until he ate it.

This is not a rose des sables. Malkie got this one. This is a caramel macaron with two chocolate eyes and a grenache bon bon nose. It’s called a macaron clown and Malcolm was in love with it. Until he ate it.

Just to let you know, there is more to life in Paris than fantastic apartments and amazing culinary experiences. It’s true! Why just the other day, I saw something really depressing and it made me think about life and it’s tragic consequences. Oh wait, that thing wasn’t tragic. It was a Rose des Sables, a pastry with hazelnuts, caramelized crepes and pastry creme. It made me want to get on an airplane and go home to slap the mother of everyone single person I know back in the United States. Maybe things are still pretty good here?

There are, however, some instances where things do not work out as I intended. Here’s how that looks:

1. No!

We went to a restaurant that promised a memorable creme brulee. Settling into the table, the waitress brought a basket of bread and said something in French to us. I figured she asked if we wanted bread, and so I said, “No.” She seemed surprised by my answer. When she returned with water, I called my own bluff, asking her what she had said. She said, “I asked if you wanted to know the specials.” No wonder my refusal was a bit surprising! Part of me wanted to double down, and tell her, “I thought so, we came here for this wonderful printed out menu. Why on Earth would we want to get something off that shitty chalkboard? Now bring us foie gras!!!” I didn’t say this, though. I said, “Oh.”

2.Fecal Soccer

Amy, Malcolm and I hit the nearby park to play a bit of soccer. It was a bit rainy, but warm enough to enjoy ourselves. We even got into a match with a local kid. For most of the outing, I noticed that the park smelled heavily of dogshit. Thinking, “That’s just the way it smells at Place Des Etats-Unis,” (ironically, “USA Square,”) we continued the game. When we got home, I realized that Malcolm had stinky, wet dog shit all over his cleats. Mind you, soccer is a game where you kick a ball (with your feet!) so kicking a ball with shit crusted feet ensures that the ball will also be shit crusted. And, when you kick the that ball or grab it out of the bushes and roll it to your opponents, that turd residue rubs off on you. The park wasn’t stinky. We were. I can’t even imagine what that local kid we played with thinks of us. We’re never going back.

3. I scratch … down there.

One of things I am most passionate about is talking about my private parts. (Sounds like a great bullet point for Linked In, doesn’t it?) Anyway, I have jock itch. I would like to take this moment to let you know that this is a good thing. True, it’s a fungal infection, but like athlete’s foot, it imparts a distinction of sports-related accomplishment. In my mind, it’s second only to an Olympic Gold. I will grow concerned only when I start developing ailments like Oaf Scratch or Lazy Man’s Ring-Around-Your-Anus.

Satisfied that my physical prowess extended to my time in Europe, I headed to a local pharmacy to brag about my affliction/trophy. There is, thankfully, a place in our neighborhood advertising itself as “Anglo Americaine” which, to me, reads, “Bring your swollen, itchy junk here for some relief. We speak your language!” I did. I spoke to the woman behind the counter who informed me that she did not speak much English but she would try. (Anglo Americaine my ass!) Sadly for me, she did not understand the term, “jock itch.” This was a crushing development, because it meant that I was going to have to pantomime my affliction to her.

[OK, stop reading, and do this: wherever you are, pretend that you need to describe jock itch to someone charades, style. Go ahead. Done? There is really no way to do this without smiling and/or developing a deep rooted sense of shame about yourself. Yet, this is precisely what I was forced to do.]

I began by scratching the palm of my hand and pointing down towards my groin with both hands like a Eastern European man at a dance club. The pharmacist understood itch, and asked where the itch was. Was it on my belly? No, no the itch wasn’t on my belly. With half a grin on my face, I thrust my hips forward and pointed to my genitals vigorously and then rubbing my hands together ala Mr. Miyagi to demonstrate chaffage. (In many ways, my entire life had been leading up to this very moment. It was oddly peaceful.) I was about to lift my arms over shoulders in a weightlifting pose to delineate my terrific accomplishment from those sad sacs with disgusting venereal diseases when the clerk opted to hide as best she could behind a display of trendy French mouthwashes. When she popped back up, she told me that the other pharmacist spoke better English and that I wait for him to finish up with the customer he was helping. Evidently when Mr. Miyagi points to his crotch constantly here, he doesn’t get good service.

The second clerk didn’t understand the term, “jock itch” either, meaning I had to go back through my dirty gesturing all over again. OH FUCK YOU, ARE YOU SERIOUS? IS THERE NO ONE IN THIS GODDAMN COUNTRY THAT HAS ITCHY THIGHS? REALLY?! (The first clerk feigned un-interest in the corner, I think she just wanted her partner to see my routine.) After going through my itching and pointing, more pointing and more itching, the clerk told me I had two options: essentially, I had to decide between baby-butt cream and bug-bite cream. I was devastated. This was no way to treat an athlete like me! My jock itch was the result of a rigorous workout regimen. I wear that fungus like a badge of courage. To classify what I needed on the same level as a baby who shits itself or someone who gets stung by an ant is to practically deny me any accomplishment at all. This was not good. I took the ant-bite cream, as the clerk said it would probably be more effective. It stung, much like the bite of an ant. I walked home feeling two feet tall.

Life isn’t always perfect here. Still, a little embarrassment (and doggie doo!) is a small price to pay.

Haircut

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I arrived in Paris needing a haircut. Maybe “needing” is too strong. When it gets too long, my hair will make me look like Gov. Rick Perry, minus the guns and the Jesus. I was squarely in Mitt Romney, territory, but heading south quickly. I decided that I was going to get myself a cut, with any luck transforming me into Rick Santorum, or, dare to dream, Marco Rubio. Meeeeee-ow. (I have secret hopes to one day evolve into Scott Brown back in the day, but there is only so much a hairdresser can do.)

I chose the salon responsible for transforming me into a well coiffed fiscal conservative quite strategically. Of course, I could have done some online research to find an English-speaking stylist, but what would be the fun of that? I am here to do French things and learn French ways. The people here don’t get their hairs cut in English, they do it in French. If I wanted North American convenience and French food, I would have moved to Vancouver. No, I moved to France to experience a different way of life. Sometimes this will mean eating a cheese course after my main dish. Other times, it will mean getting a haircut at a place that doesn’t necessarily speak English. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Right or wrong, I also assumed that a French-speaking hair stylist would be better than an English speaking one. I am not sure if this is actually true, but I attribute a certain higher level of stylishness to the French, and the more French they are, the more stylish they should be. Obviously, if one cared to learn English, they would be less French, and therefore worse at cutting hair. Logic is pretty sound, isn’t it? While I am at it, I should throw in the stereotype that gay people are more stylish than us straight folk. With the assumptions in my model now fully detailed, here is how my haircut would look with the different variables:

 Haircut quad.007

I passed by a few salons on our daily walk to and from our apartment to Malcolm’s school. One of them appeared to be quite inviting, meaning that the price of a man’s haircut was listed clearly on the window outside. My choice of salons was totally validated, as the people inside were all dressed in black. I am not sure if was because they were stylish, or just served as a signal to me that they might be as French and as gay as I wanted them to be. Things were looking up, but I couldn’t enjoy the revelation as I was still rehearsing how to say, “I would like a haircut please.” in French. I must have practiced it a hundred times while walking to the salon.

There comes a time in almost every conversation I have here where the person I am speaking to realizes that I have no fucking idea how to speak French. I am decent at the rehearsed pieces, but things really start breaking down when they ask me a secondary question and I look I just farted and don’t want to accept blame. It’s not so much that I don’t know many French words. I do. I know several. The big problem is that I don’t hear so good. People say things to me and I can’t put together the words they are using until after I already know what they are talking about. Sometimes, I just repeat what they say to me, hoping that they will just fix my problem for me. It is quite irritating for everyone involved. As a result, most exchanges go like this (in varying forms):

Good sir, with your permission, I would like a bottle of wine.

Of course! Would you like red, white or rose?

Yes, red, white rose.

Huh?

Wha?

[Swearing under breath.]

{An eternity of uncomfortable silence.]

I am sorry, I don’t understand.

WOULD YOU LIKE RED WINE OR WHITE WINE OR ROSE?

Oh, I see. Red. Please. Thank You.

Idiot.

So it was, yesterday I managed to spit out, “I would like a haircut, please.” to the woman at the front counter of the salon. She replied with something that I had no earthly idea about. I stared back at her, showing her my bottom gums in a bleak display of humility, before saying I didn’t get it. She rolled her eyes and pointed at a coat closet, pantomiming taking off a jacket. Only having a shirt on, and not wanting to take it off while I got my haircut, I said, “No thanks” and quietly wished that an English-speaking heterosexual were nearby to give me a mullet. Where is David Hasselhoff when you need him?

Then, things changed.

I don't know what people must say when I walk in to their shop, but I can guarantee that it isn't, "Yay!"

I don’t know what people must say when I walk in to their shop, but I can guarantee that it isn’t, “Yay!”

The woman behind the counter emerged and had me slip on a white coat over my clothes. Made of a thick paper-like fabric, it wasn’t so much a coat as a doctor’s jacket. I have done many things in my life. I was an All American Debater in College. I graduated from law school. I watched every episode of ER when Malcolm wasn’t sleeping through the night. At no point during any of these, however, was I offered a white doctor’s coat. After being offered one at the salon, however, I was beyond the moon, slowly pressing my hands down the length of the coat silently telling myself, “First, do no harm.” I have never been so honored by a piece of clothing.

Strutting like Doctor Doug Fucking Ross himself, I was lead downstairs and beckoned to wait by a bank of hair washing stations. When one became available, a black shirted effeminate man motioned for me to sit down and put my head back into the sink to get it washed. I beamed at my good fortune and vowed never to leave France. He washed my hair, and even rinsed and repeated. It was awesome.

In retrospect, he probably had to repeat because of the haircare products I use here in France. I have reached the point in my sad little life where my haircare, body care and face care products are all manufactured by the same company. Right now that fine company is “Adidas.” I picked up a bottle of the all-in-one at grocery store when we got here to make life easier and to avoid having to navigate all the various choices at a specialty store. The bottle promises 400 ML of lather that will cleanse my “face, hair and junk” with the same “high energy.” Well, maybe it doesn’t say quite that, but it is undoubtedly something close. I am sure the man cutting my hair could hear my follicle’s cry for help and opted to wash a second time to remove all traces of evidence that my hair was cleansed by a sporting goods company.

Having successfully washed that Adidas right outta my hair, I returned upstairs to the stylist’s haircutting station. After sitting me down at his outpost, my stylist dropped a contraption down on top of me that was particularly beguiling. It looked like a flaccid vinyl record, and it secured snugly around my neck and was designed to ensure that none of my hair would make it home with me after the haircut. It was pretty rad. I imagined that, if my hair protection system were a real album, my album would be Al Jolson, because, you know, I am so cool. (True  to form, not a single cut hair was able to sneak down my neck and return home with me. What a system!)

My stylist probably asked me how I wanted my hair cut and I politely asked if he spoke English. He said that he didn’t, so we had to navigate the rest of our time together with glances, shrugs, raised eyebrows and nods, (pretty much the same way that gangsters communicate with each other non-verbally before robbing a bank.) Hair really is a language of its own, though, and after taking my mane in for a while, the hairdresser went to work. He seemed pretty intent on doing a good job, and 30 minutes later, I was three quarters of an inch of hair lighter, but still looking every bit the sophisticate that I am. I smiled.

My new friend offered me some product to wear out, and I initially demurred, since I don’t usually use any. Then, I changed my mind, figuring that any product that this guy could offer me would offset much of the damage that my “Adidas” shampoo was doing back at home. He put some grey goo on my hair, and I walked out of there feeling good, looking somewhat Santorum-esque and a proud that I didn’t take the easy way out. I could of. Maybe I should of. Things will get easier here for me, though, one silly step at a time. I am venturing. I am gaining.

I am ever so slowly becoming fiscally conservative, and ready for a cheese course.

40 and Screwed

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Well, it finally happened. I spent the past few years ruthlessly heckling my friends who have turned 40, noting how old they had become and how I, since I was still in my 30’s, was so much younger and sprier than they were. Some didn’t care, telling me that my time will come soon enough. Others, who will remain nameless, responded by doing things to me in my sleep. Nasty, unspeakable things. I guess some people can’t take a joke. Earlier this summer, all bets came due and I turned 40. Ugh.

Not everyone was mean about my turning 40!

Not everyone was mean about my turning 40!

I didn’t even really need to have a birthday to recognize the passage of time in my life, sadly, as I broke my ankle in early June. There is no surer way to feel old than to have your body show you how frail it is becoming. The first step in my demise was that I joined a soccer league. I did this because A) I love the sport, B) I need exercise and C) because it is cheaper than a sports car and less STD-y than my other options for a mid-life crisis. My ankle gave way in the first half of my first game, and it turned out to be a break. My soccer “career” was over faster than you can say, “Old men shouldn’t play young men’s sports.” By the time my actual birthday came around, I was already sober to the reality that I am not the young whipper-snapper that I made myself out to be.

At first, the doctors thought that it was a clean break, showing me an x-ray in which my fibula had a nice little line through it. (FYI, the correct medical nomenclature for my injury was a “hairline fracture of the fibula” and not, as I had been telling people, was a “hairlip fracture of the fibia.” There is no such thing as a fibia and most doctors will look at you funny if you call anything a hairlip fracture. I went to law school, not medical school. Sue me.) Surgery, they promised, was not necessary.

After two weeks, I went back to the doctors. They revealed that my nice little fracture had become a displaced fracture, meaning my leg bone was growing in displace when it should have been growing in datplace.  Surgery, they told me, was required. Fuck! 14 hours later I went under the knife, and to show the medical establishment how irritated with them I was, I did not wear clean underpants. Luckily, I had my surgery lying face down. Paul: 1, medical establishment: 0!

I spent the next 5 days in an absolute fog. The first night I was home I writhed in agony as my ankle felt like it had molten lava running through it. I vowed never to feel like that again, and with Amy’s great assistance, I went on a Percocet binge. I was stoned. Really stoned. It was like high school all over again, where all I could say to people was, “I am soooooooo stoned.” Deep into my binge, I knew something was not 100% right with me. I was itchy, to the point where I scratched my back so hard I bled. I was constipated. I sweated through my clothes several times a day. I had involuntary muscle spasms. I had rashes on my belly and nose. I stunk. Sweaty, red-nosed, bloody, bloated and smelly, I was, in many respects Tip O’Neill in his final days in Congress.

Luckily for my family, they did not have to personally suffer through the indignity of me being me. Amy had a business trip to Europe and Malcolm was with my parents in Bakersfield. Friends dropped off food for me each day, and I could see by the look in their eye that I was quite a spectacle. I passed the time watching episodes of The Wire and swatting at non-existent mosquitoes. As the date for Malcolm and Amy’s return neared, I knew I needed to get clean. Some say my symptoms were due to an allergic reaction to the meds, others concluded that I was suffering from a low grade overdose. Either way, I needed to look less like one of the junkies on The Wire and more like my old self.

IMG_1528

It looks like one of the screws has already fallen out. The doctors tell me it is supposed to be that way. Of course, they are smiling at each other when saying this, so I am taking it with a grain of salt.

I weaned myself off the hard stuff for my family’s return, and they returned and were very nice to me. My healing is going well, the doctors tell me that 1) I should wear clean shorts next time, and 2) the six screws affixing my ankle together are doing their job nicely. I have two more weeks on crutches and another two in the walking boot. After that, I am pimp stepping all over Oakland. Not exactly the plans I had for my summer of turning 40, but it could be worse. I could have a hairlipped fibia.

Big Daddy Paul’s Guide To Getting Drunk

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork
Is this the person you want to get advise from? Yes. Yes it is.

Is this the person you want to get advice from? Yes. Yes it is.

For those of you who read my blog for salient advise on parenting, today is just not your day. Today’s topic touches on adult themes and if you don’t enjoy the nectar of the gods, you might just want to skip this altogether. Then again, if you are reading my blog for salient advise on parenting, you probably need a heavy night of drinking to set your mind straight. You have been warned.

Many of us have a special event that is near and dear to our hearts that involves the heavy use of alcohol. For some it is a weekend in the wine country, swilling zinfandels with your oenophile friends and using words like “minerality.” Others enjoy copious amounts of green beer on St. Patrick’s day, and some just hit up the communion line too much (begging the question, “Is it a sin to repent for your sins too much?”)

My event is March Madness, college basketball’s yearly tournament to decide who is the national champion. I have been going to Reno for 10+ years to watch basketball, eat chicken wings, gamble all night and yes, drink. I am heading up again this weekend, and if past results are any indication of future performance, I will drink more by noon than I usually do in a week. I drink lots of beer during the day. I drink lots of bourbon in the evening. One year, I did a shot of Pinot. Pinot grigio. It was awesome, until it sucked really, really badly.

Having been in the trenches for a while, I feel a certain level of expertise. I thought I would share my expertise with you to help prepare you for your big day, whenever that may occur.

1. Prepare. There were times when I would abstain from drinking for a week under the guise of “Let’s make sure my body doesn’t have too many toxins in it before I get there.” This is not a good idea. Would you train for a marathon by abstaining from exercise for a week? Have you seen “There’s Something About Mary? Would you show up a hot date with a loaded gun? No, no you shouldn’t. You need to stretch yourself before binge drinking to build up your tolerance. I have undertaken a solid week of drinking to make sure my liver is top form. It is my way of telling my body, “get ready, ’cause this shit’s about to get serious.”

2. Drink lots of water. Back in the day, we could do consume whatever we wanted and the next day, breakfast would eliminate all manner of sins. That is no longer the case. If I don’t drink a boatload of water throughout the day, I look and feel like the Elephant Man pretty much all the next day. Water is your way of apologizing to your liver, and if enough penance is not given, you are serious trouble. Sadly this means I have to use the restroom about 20 times throughout the day. (I used to bemoan this fact, but I have to tell you, the bathrooms in Reno are an endless supply of comedy gold. Like snowflakes, men at Reno urinals are all unique in their approach to bladder evacuation. Some unzip their fly and approach the activity with two hands on their hips. Others defensively hunch themselves around the urinal so that their private parts are untouched by the bad artificial lighting. Some sing country western songs. Some try and talk to you. I once saw a guy who did it with his pants around his ankles while hopping up and down every so often as if gravity had some sort of role to play.) Don’t miss the show. Drink water and go early and often.

3. Exercise. Wha, you say? You think I am just a big, fat slob, when I blow it out? Not true! You need to make sure your metabolism is strong to get all that alcohol through your system. I have done lunges around the slot machine banks while the black jack dealer is shuffling.  When I win a particularly big hand, I recreate the “Maniac” montage from Flashdance, dancing in place while imagining a giant bucket of water is falling over me. I do squats at the tables whenever I have been sitting for too long. Wherever you are, there are opportunities to move your body around. Use them, even if everyone around you starts to think you may have Tourrette’s.

4. Soak it up, then try to eat something healthy. After a long night of tying one on, you need some grease in your system to soak up all the remaining booze. I recommend anything that begins with, “chicken fried.” Bacon is also good (sorry Laurie!) When you have your baseline in, trying eating something remotely healthy, like a salad. After eating nothing but chicken wings and onion rings for a 36 hour period, I once felt like the grease in my system came halfway up my eyeballs. You are much better off if you pile some veggies on top of your baseline junk food. Plus, it’ll give your intestines something new and interesting to tackle.

5. Make sure you aren’t the only one. If people around you are engaged in similarly feats of degeneracy, then things will generally be pretty fun. If you find yourself slurring words at a child’s birthday party, you’re doing it wrong. Plus, drunk people have poor memories. Sober ones? Not so much. The only thing worse than making an ass out of yourself is hearing all about it the next day. (“And then you told the pit boss he looked like Meryl Streep before dumping and ashtray on your head!”) Not fun.

6. Stay off social media. Oh, you’ll be tempted to share your mind-bogglingly great idea with the world at 3 am, but it’s probably not a good idea, in truth, and people will question their friendship with you. Specifically, don’t take the opportunity to tell people how you REALLY feel about them, don’t post pictures with random strangers and, I can’t stress this enough, DO NOT MAKE OVERTURES TO YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER WHILE INTOXICATED. It always comes out wrong. I once tried to express my affection to Amy by telling her how, after a group of us were trapped in an elevator with a male prostitute who wanted to get a look at our nether regions, I was soooo glad she wasn’t creepy and desperate. Luckily, I was too drunk to enter the password on my phone.

Lastly, keep an eye out for when your day is done. If people are laughing at the things you do, keep doing it, even if it means that your are no longer wearing every article of clothing you started out the day with. If people roll their eyes at you and whisper things to your friends, it probably means you should hit the sack. Similarly, if you replace the letter “S” with the “TH” sound, you’re done. (Want me to give an example? “I’m tho thorry I thpilled my drink on your blouth. = bedtime.)

Well, there you have it. I try to follow these simple rules as much as I can. Of course, they are really goals and we sometimes don’t fully reach our goals. Do your best. (Really, that is my way of telling you I am really NOT going to eat a salad.) Let me know how it goes.

Holiday Pet Peeves

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Hello all! I am back. You may be asking yourself where I have been. The answer? Tehran. I was part of a small group of diplomats who hid from the Iranian government whilst a larger group of diplomats were taken hostage. Luckily for me and my friends, the Canadian government was on the ball and saved us all. Sounds unbelievable? You betcha. Canadians are a bunch of hosers!

The holidays can be a magical time of year where friends and family come together to overindulge in copious amounts of butter, sugar, meat, alcohol and, for certain members of my softball team, horse tranquilizers. I’m fine with that part. The harder part is having to deal with my own neuroses, which usually involves a high level of agitation over absolutely nothing at all. By way of example, here are my biggest holiday pet peeves. Don’t worry if you are guilty of these made-up sins, it is not you who has the problem. This isn’t so much a request for people to do things differently next year as it is a cry for help for me.

1. The phrase “Merry Merry!” Ugh. Ugh. This is way too chipper for me, reminiscent of the level of energy two ferrets share when trapped in your trousers, desperately clawing to find their way out. The phrase makes me think the speaker has realized, mid-sentence, that the listener may be Jewish, Wiccan, or  unable to comprehend sentences with more than one word in them. Would it be cool for me to walk into a restaurant and ask for “Water, water.. bread, bread… and Mahi Mahi?” No. Use complete sentences. Go ahead and invoke the name of our dear lord, sweet, baby, infant Jesus. That’s fine, even for atheists.

2. People who say, “The holidays are sooooo x.” I don’t care how you finish the sentence, it’s gonna be annoying. (That is, of course, unless you say, “The holidays are … when I find you, Paul, the most sexually attractive.” Then, we’re cool.) The holidays don’t make people miserable. The holidays aren’t too commercial. The holidays didn’t cause your gout, your constipation or the break up of your marriage. You did all those things. Stop whining and just get drunk and fat like the rest of us.

3. Half Santa. I swear, take that fucking Santa hat off your head. What are kids supposed to think? Did you steal Santa’s hat? Are you Santa and just forgot to wear the jolly pants and boots? Oh, you’re an elf are you? Listen, elves are three feet tall and have a stellar work ethic. You? Let’s just say you aren’t. Invariably, the person in the hat is doing something very un-Santa like, and it absolutely crushes the spirit. If you find yourself in need of a tramp stamp at the mall while polishing off a Baconator, please don’t do it while rocking the Santa hat. Please.

4. People who brag about all the positive stuff they do during the holidays. “Oh, we took the fam to a homeless shelter to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.” “We took a half day off of work to wrap presents for conjoined Haitians.” “I hugged a Republican Congressman.” Presumably, you did those things to help people. Bragging about it afterwards doesn’t help anyone. It just makes everyone hate you.

This is a picture of a beignet. After eating, the only way I could walk was to waddle. Seriously. Waddle.

5. Holiday cards without pictures. As much as I enjoy reading a stock greeting card from Office Max, when you just send the card, you are announcing to the world that you think you look like a troll. I’ll let you in on a little secret: You don’t. Granted, your nose is a bit weird and your shoes are a little outdated, but you look fine. Let the world see you. Some try and skirt the issue by including pictures of only their kids, but I find this equally annoying. I’m not friends with your kids. I’m friends with you. Even with those shoes and that nose.

6. Holiday party banter. There will be countless opportunities during the holiday season when you are stuck talking to neighbors, coworkers, distant relatives and anyone else you have spent most of the year trying to avoid. People are guaranteed to light you up. They finish your humorous story by deadpanning, “That’s funny.” When you get one line into your story about travel, they hijack the story into something they’ve done. They tell stories about their cat. Seriously, you’re stuck at a work party talking to someone about their fucking cat. There is no solution for these situations. There are only horse tranquilizers.

7. New Year’s Resolutions. Announcing a New Year’s resolution is tantamount to asking everyone you know to post on Facebook that you are not fat. Should people strive to make themselves better? Yes. But the way to do that is to make yourself a better person, not tell the world that you are a better person. Someone once told me that their New Year’s resolution was to talk about themselves less. Check and mate. I wanted to slap them in the face, but my New Year’s resolution that year was to be kind to idiots.

Looking at this fine list, I just realized that I did every single one of these things in the past few weeks. Does that make me a bad person? No (yes). It just goes to show you to be patient during the holidays, because we are all a little off our game. Personally, I blame the Iranians, but next year will be different.

I am resolved.

Big Daddy Paul’s Guide To Feeling Thin

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

You may have noticed that the title for this post is a bit odd. “But Paul,” you ask, “Why would you bother feeling thin when you can just be thin?” After seeing thin people for as long as I have during my life, I have come to the conclusion that they just work too fucking hard. They exercise. They exercise a lot. They REALLY exercise, too. They don’t consider climbing on a chair to reach the red vines you have hidden away from your kid in the top of the cupboard as “exercise.” They probably don’t even eat red vines, now that I think of it. For that matter, they don’t eat nachos, swill popcorn and wine on the couch at night and definitely don’t consider bacon a separate food group (the best one, too!) To me, skinny people do too much of the things I don’t like to do and not enough stuff I like to do.

I have come to the realization that I won’t be skinny anymore, and that’s just fine with me. Better billowy and happy than gaunt and bitter. Just because I’m a few double doubles south of the ideal BMI for a person of my stature doesn’t mean I need to be sad about it, though. I do a lot of little things to make myself feel thinner. Curious? Here’s a sample:

1. I talk about how fat I am. I refer to myself on this blog as anywhere between “tubby” and “lardass.” When I speak about myself out in public, I say disparaging things like “When I sit around the house, I really sit around the house!” I constantly tell people I’ve just met that I need 3X underpants or the waistband gets worn out. Yep, I paint a pretty bleak picture of myself.

This has an alarming benefit though: whenever I see people, I’m not quite the orca they expect me to be. The disconnect between how I look and what people expect me to look like draws a good deal of attention. What do you say to someone who is marginally skinnier than you remember? Of course, you say, “You look skinnier! Working out?” And boom, I have them. People tell me I look great all the time. All the freaking time. Do I actually look great? No. Does it make me feel great when people say I look great? You betcha! Tell everyone you know how plump you’ve become, and when you see them next they’ll heap lavish praise on you for necessarily looking so. It’s a little embarrassing to point out your muffin top to your friends, but trust me, it’s worth it in the long run.

Incidentally, this works in a variety of different settings. If you tell people you have a tiny head, when you show up with a normal-sized melon they’ll be inclined to call you Q-tip. Mention how ugly you think you are and people will come out of the woodwork to tell you that you look like Brad Pitt. I don’t know what the science is behind this, but it’s true. The one situation where it won’t help you out is if you are about to engage in some consensual sex and announce to your partner, “Get ready, because my wiener is nearly microscopic!” That is usually met with a long, awkward silence and then a sudden memory of having to be somewhere else.

2. I wear long sleeve thermals. Thermals are Spanx for stay-at-home dads. In my mind, the thermal binds in all my lumpy bits, so the that the tee shirt I wear on top reveals only the tightly sculpted body of a German soccer referee. Is this the case? No. Remember, it doesn’t matter that I actually look like a giant German jelly doughnut, it only matters how I feel. With thermals on, I feel like Batman.

3. I weigh myself. A lot. I begin each day by hopping on the scale. You might think this unwise, but I merely use this early morning weigh-in as a baseline. Every time I do anything (and I mean anything) that would cause me to lose weight, I immediately rush back and re-weigh myself. This allows me to feel that, at the very least, my body mass is headed in the right direction. Play a round of golf? “Hey I just lost 2 pounds!” Healthy bowel movement? “Break out my skinny jeans?” Haircut? “I’m as light as a feather,and my mullet is tight!” Plus, I converted our scale to display weight in Stone (used as the official measure of weight in Britain.) It’s always nice to see your weight in double digits.

4. I wear long shorts. I resisted the modern trend toward obnoxiously long manpri’s for the longest time. Then I tried some on and thought that the long shorts magically lengthened my torso, making 14 stone look it was part of a more appropriate seven-foot frame. How strong was this magic? I thought that these made me look thinner:

This leads me to #5. When you actually feel good about yourself, never, ever take a picture. It ruins the mirage.

6. When all else fails, wear a hoodie. If you’re constipated, or can’t get a haircut, if your thermals are in the wash and nobody around you can stand any more self-depricating fat jokes about yourself, wear a hoodie. A hoodie is a cotton-blend fortress of solitude, keeping you impervious to any physical repercussions from eating too many Baconaters. This too is odd, since no one, in the history of hoodies, has actually looked good in one. Not in my mind though. In my mind, a hoodie is like a silk bath robe. Justin Bieber wears hoodies. Eric Estrada wears hoodies. That’s why Paul Schwartz wears hoodies. He may not be thin, but sure feels thin.

My Least Favorite Holiday

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Everyone has holidays that like more than others. There are Christmas people, Halloween people, and I know one guy who thinks that Flag Day is the coolest day of the year. (It may also be his birthday.) (“He” may be me.) I can honestly tell you, I’m not all that fond of Easter. Why, you ask? Let me tell you:

First, I find the religious aspect of it all quite confusing. Easter Sunday comes on the heels of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and So-So Saturday. That’s a lot of stuff in one week!  If “Good” Friday is the day Jesus is paraded through town and then crucified, then I would hate to see what happens on a bad day. (Maybe that explains why people always tell me that they think my blog is “good!”) There’s treachery, Italian meals, gruesome death scenes, and happy endings. It’s not a holiday, it’s an episode of the Sopranos! And what’s a Maundy? I looked it up and it means “Laundry.”  Mmmmkay.

Not even the music can save the holiday. Christmas has a million songs and you can teach them all to kids. Throw them “Away in a manger” along with “Rudolph” and they can happily sing their way through the holiday. Ever try to teach a kid to sing Handel’s, “Messiah?” Not gonna work. We need more accessible Easter music.

Explaining all this to kids gets pretty tough, too:

What are we celebrating today daddy?

Jesus came back from the dead.

Cool! Can our cats come back from the dead?

No, only the son of god can do that.

Why not?

Well, you know how I let you play goalie in soccer more than the other kids? It’s like that. Sometimes parents play favorites with their kids.

How did Jesus die?

Everybody hated him. They tortured him, made him wear a hat with pricklies in it and then nailed him to a cross and stuck a pitchfork in his ribs. He died slowly and in agony.

[While slowly approaching for a hug] Can we just celebrate Valentines Day again? I like pink!

Even if you strip out the religious story behind it all, Easter really is a pain in the ass to celebrate. There is no more terror-inspiring figure in all of the holiday world than the Easter Bunny. I have yet to see a Easter Bunny suit that doesn’t make the wearer look like a member of the occult. Sitting on Santa’s lap makes kids cry. Being approached by a six foot tall psychedelic bunny makes kids shit their pants. You then have the difficult task of explaining where the Bunny got all those eggs and why he/she is hiding them all over the place. Does the Easter Bunny just hate chickens? You tell me! You also have to describe just what the heck “Peeps” are made of, and why they all appear to have been made in 1947.

Of course, no Easter is complete with the time honored tradition of decorating eggs. If your family is like ours, it means your house stinks like vinegar and boiled eggs. They should rename the holiday, “Smells Like Fart Day.” If your family is REALLY like ours, it also means that you accidentally buy brown eggs to decorate every year, meaning ALL of the Easter eggs turn out varying shades of green. Not all that exciting! After the kids decorate the eggs, you feed them to the kids, hoping that the various chemicals you use won’t erode the kids’ tiny little brains. You could just throw the eggs away, but that I don’t think Jesus would be too thrilled that he went through all that so you could create some brightly colored garbage. Nope, you have to make them eat the eggs.

I don't think he dislikes the holiday like I do.

By Sunday, your kids misbehave because they have eaten about 3 pounds of chocolate, marshmallows and greenish hard boiled eggs. They distrust you because you have attempted on several occasions to furiously scrub the dye off their hands and they don’t have much skin left on their paws. Some kids are pissed because they have been forced to dress in nice outfits and subjected to church services. Others are confused as to what Laundry Thursday means. If you ask me, it makes for a pretty shitty holiday. Or a “good” one, as the case may be.

Big Daddy Paul Is NOT An Accountant

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

As Malcolm would say, "Accounting is yucky!" Actually, Malcolm doesn't know what accounting is. he would say, "Brushing your teeth is yucky!"

Tax time is upon us, meaning I should be sending out 1099’s, preparing financial statements for our tax guy, and scratching off the names of restaurants from receipts so that the IRS doesn’t know that “Board Meeting for Wilson Insight” really means “Took Malcolm to Hooters.” All that stuff really hurts my head, though, for the mind-numbing intricacies of the tax code require patience and sharp attention to detail, which are not exactly my strong suits.

Today, however, I am procrastinating. I am dedicating this post to things I would rather be doing than stupid tax stuff. Here’s my list:

1. Thinking up things I would rather be doing than doing tax stuff.

2. Taking Malcolm to Hooters. Did you know that they serve kid’s meals on Frisbees there? That means when your kid is done with the grilled cheese sandwich, you can wash it off and have a really excellent frisbee to play with. I know, incredible value!

3. Have a colonoscopy. It’s probably not first on the list, but I thought it important to let you know the “scope” of my hatred for tax time. (For anyone who thinks that isn’t very clever word smithing, I welcome you to go perform a colonoscopy on yourself. Use a thesaurus, too.)

4. Clean the house. Malcolm made a tether ball court out of a game of Sorry, a vuvuzela, some string and a nerf basketball. It is adorable from a “parenting a creative child” perspective. Sure, every time he tries to play, he knocks over the vuvuzela, trips on the game of sorry and the string falls off the ball, but he designed it and made it himself. Props to him. While trying to avoid our office, all I can see is the pile of tether ball stuff in our family room. As charming as it is, my hatred of the tax code requires me to disassemble it.

5. Stare at the internet, blankly. I don’t really care about anything Yahoo thinks is news, but I check it 10 or 20 times a day. I mostly enjoy reading about which fast food meals are the most unhealthy. Sometimes I want to see what my favorite actresses wear on the red carpet (sadly, it’s never a Hooters uniform.) Right about now, I would read almost anything, including coverage of the Republican Primaries, to avoid the pile of receipts and forms sitting on the desk.

6. Figure out which of my Twitter followers are just porn websites in disguise. I have a lot of moms and dads following me, and sometimes it is difficult to determine whether the woman who has a “love of life” really just wants me to “message [her] for a date.” It’s like a little game show that unfolds on my computer each and every day. Actually, I’d rather go on a date with the porn girl then do the taxes. I know, shocking.

3. Did you see what happened there? Tax time makes me numbers stupid. Crapola!

8. Justify salami. I recently read some articles (thank you Yahoo!) about the effect of eating processed meats on cancer rates. To my shagrin, I learned that eating these meats every day substantially raises your risk of cancer. Malcolm has had salami in his lunch every day since he was about 4. I don’t want him to have cancer, so I have been looking into remedies for the situation. I have done searches on “Is it OK to eat salami if you eat broccoli too?” and “Will you get cancer if you eat the $25 a pound nitrate/nitrite free salami?” So far, we have cut his salami down to once or twice a week.

9. Play word games. I have anywhere between 8 and 10 Scrabble games going on at a time, challenging friends, their moms, their sisters, and their brothers. I don’t usually tell the people I am playing with that I usually make moves while pooping, but do I really need to? Isn’t that a given? They should rename the game, “Words With Friends In The Bathroom.” Want a challenge? Hit me up for a game! (Don’t worry, these posts are excrement-free!) (That joke barely edged out my other idea, which was, “All of my moves are crappy!”)

10. Ah, crap, I am out of excuses. OK, it’s off to the library for me. Stupid receipts…

Big Daddy Paul, Financial Guru

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Every once in a while, I think, “Whatever happened to X?” with X being anything from an old girlfriend to Malcolm, when I hadn’t seen him at a park in a while. I made some stock picks way back in 2007, and after seeing our credit card bill from December and becoming concerned over the state of our financial health, wondered whether those picks had helped or hurt our cause. For a disturbing look at how my financial brain works, you can check out the post related to my picks here. Please forbive all the tipos I made in the post. I was steel getting used to blogging back then.

Before we get into the nitty gritty detail, I want to remind you all of a few things. First, the biggest financial disaster since the Great Depression happened after I invested the money. More people lost their shirts during this time than at a Ricky Martin concert in Palm Springs. (After reading that joke I am pleased with the general theme, but think it is just a little off. I will try again later.) I also want to note that I was an absolute novice at picking stocks. I did not (nor do I now!) understand market fundamentals, like “Why you shouldn’t start investing your money right before the largest financial disaster since the Great Depression.” The sole basis for my investing decisions were to invest in companies listed on Forbes, “Best Companies to Work For” list. Remember, happy employees are productive employees. Let’s see how I did:

As a baseline, we shall compare my picks to the Dow Jones Industrials. If you are lazy, like me, and don’t want to find out just what the Dow Jones Industrials, you may assume that Dow Jones is a distant relative of Star Jones (and, oddly enough, former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones) and s/he picks their favorite restaurants that are publicly traded companies. Also, Dow Jones loves cats and keeps track of companies in the ever-growing feline leisure industry. Needless to say, I hate Dow Jones. On October 19, 2007, the Dow Jones sat at 13,806. Right now, it is at 12, 259, meaning if you had invested $10,000 dollars in the companies that Dow and his cats like, you would have lost 10% of your money. Yikes!

OK, let’s try this one: more people lost their shirts during this time than when the Jersey Shore cast went to Palm Springs. Still a bit off, I think. I’ll keep trying.

Surprisingly, my picks were pretty good. Nordstroms went up 24%. The tech firms on the list not named Google went up between 12 and 37%. Whole Foods went up 50%. Holy crap! Sure, American Express and Google both went down, but it wasn’t much worse than if I had given the money to Dow and his stupid cats. All in all, I turned my $10,000 into $11,916, a 19% increase. Boo ya!

From this, I learned the following:

You don’t have to shower regularly to make money in the stock market.

You can make lots of money off of rich people. If rich folk want to pay $12 for grapes and $1,200 on shoes. Let them. Buy company stocks that make a habit of overcharging the rich and soon you’ll be rich too. (Just don’t shit where you eat and go buying $12 grapes yourself. That defeats the purpose.) This strategy works ever during dire economic times because rich people will ALWAYS buy $12 grapes to show their neighbors how well off they are.

Don’t buy a stock do anything because you think it’s cool. I bought the Google shares, knowing that they were pricey, at $625 a share. I figured that Google was cool and that I shouldn’t worry about the hefty price tag. I was wrong. Let the Jersey Shore kids be cool. You be you.

Lastly, treat your employees well. These stocks kicked butt while employees at other companies were busy taking off their shirts. Put your money where the employees are treated well and you will be treated well yourself.

OK, last one: More people lost their shirts during this time than when Siegfried and Roy went to the Cat Fancy New Year’s Eve Ball.

Damn, 0 for 3. Some jokes just don’t work. Unless one of you want to take a run at it…

OK, it looks like we can pay our December credit card bill. Yay! I’ll let you know when I make any new picks, for I am sure you will be waiting with baited breath.

Where The Heck Did Big Daddy Paul Go?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

It’s true, I have been ignoring you. In my heyday, I could crank out blog posts as fast as you could say, “Bob’s your Uncle,” even though Earl is my Uncle and Bob is, in fact, my dad. I could get into the etymology of the expression and maybe drop stories about how it is perfectly fine for me to call my dad “Uncle Bob” on Drunken Christmas, but that would take too long. You probably would also get very bored. I already am, so let’s start over.

Hi! Wow, things sure got busy around here. I traded my old responsibilities around here (hunting spiders, making mayonnaise) with real activities. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

The greatest portion of my time is now spent dealing with other parents. I have agreed to coach Malcolm’s soccer team and joined the board of the parent’s association at his school. I have generally avoided getting involved in the details of Malcolm’s life out of the fear of having to work with other parents. Why? It’s simple. Parents are fucking crazy. Every time I get into a meeting with a large group of parents, I invariably tilt my head, crinkle my brow and wonder, “What the hell is the matter with you?” Wait, you think it’s a good idea to feed your kids cookies in the middle of a sporting event? Riiiight. Oh, you’d like to highjack a 50 person school meeting to talk about the difficulties in scheduling your parent-teacher conference. Okey dokie, that’s a good use of 30 minutes of our time.

No, nobody ever regrets coming to meetings when I am there.

It is precisely this dynamic that has caused me to eschew getting involved in running the activities in Malcolm’s life. The only problem with this approach is that you have little say in the way things are run. Sure, I could skip school meetings because the couple next to me wouldn’t stop petting each other and whispering in each others’ ears, but is Malcolm better off for it? I think not. No longer content to grouse in the background about how things are run, I am stepping up. My early strategy is disarm the crazy with my wit and dashing good looks. I don’t know what I’ll do if this doesn’t work. On second thought, can’t you just smell how witty and good looking I am? it’s gotta work!

I have also been spending a decent amount of time working on my book. I originally thought turning my blog posts into a book would be a relatively painless affair. I would restructure some sentences, throw in some clever punctuation, and Bob’s your uncle/dad, I would have a NY times bestseller. Getting into my posts, however, I realized that they were actually quite crummy. In most of my posts, you have to wade through a substantial river of shit to get to the good snippets. Putting the book together requires more snippets and less shit. Easier said than done, and things are coming along quite slowly.

Ah, fuck it. I spend most of time nowadays on fantasy football. I love fantasy football as much as Garfield loves lasagna. I love fantasy football as much as Cathy hates Mondays. You remember how much Snoopy liked leggy blondes? Yep, that’s how much I enjoy fake football. Tired of cartoon references? OK, try this one: If fantasy football was my baby and Amy died in a horrific cable car accident, I would wear a male nursing apparatus until it could eat solid foods. I might even read a book or two on male lactation. I came in last place last year, so I am quite excited to start a new season and try to march my way to the victory circle. I just hope there won’t be any parents there. Buzz. Kill.

Playground Politics

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I consider myself a pretty well adjusted social being, but there are still two social situations where I still don’t really know what the rules are: play dates and orgies. My awkwardness for both scenes boils down to the fact that I am not sure who should be doing what with whom and when. (It also doesn’t help when I confuse the two and bring diapers to the orgy and wear crotchless chaps to the park.) To ensure that I don’t gross everyone out, I’ll just about the play dates from now on and won’t mention the orgies anymore. Except for the end. Mentioning orgies at the end is just good literary strategy.

The other day, I went to the park with Malcolm and two friends of his. This was fine and good and I chatted with the kids’ moms while the kids played with each other. While we were there, two more kids from school showed up, with nannies in tow. Mayhem ensued when Malcolm was ditched by the “mommied kids” for snack time, and began playing with the “nannied kids.”

This got a little sticky, and I made my way over the the nannies to prove that A) I wasn’t ignoring my child and B) I wasn’t a playground snob who couldn’t be bothered to talk to the hired help. Patting myself on the back for being such a good dad AND man of the people, I became concerned when the two nannies I was speaking to moved away from me and continued their conversation without me. Wha? Could  it be that I am not nearly as interesting to talk to as I think I am? Or is it that since the nannies continued their conversation in Spanish that they simply felt more comfortable discussing life in a non-English format with non-gringos? Either way, I was a bit bummed, and got my revenge on the nannies by leaving the area, meaning they were responsible for the kids when they invented a new game called “Let’s throw sand at each other than then push each other down the slide.”

Eventually, all the mommies and Spanish-speaking nannies left the park, leaving Malcolm and I with one other group at the park. I sidled up to the remaining kids’ nanny and struck up a conversation with her. She answered some questions, and then promptly took out her cell phone in an effort do anything she could to get me to shut up. It worked.

Do we live in a world where parents only talk to other parents and nannies only talk to other nannies? Considering the extent of my Spanish is, “Dos por uno” (it means “Happy Hour,” look it up!), is it just a language barrier? If so, why do the English speaking nannies ignore me too? I mean, the least they can do is to politely inform me that my chaps have no crotch. Even that is sometimes a challenge.

Two Cupcake Limit: How Sugar Is Booze For Kids

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

It’s a fact: five-year-olds should not be drinking alcohol. Sure some chains like Olive Garden and Applebees think it’s cute to slip mickies to youngsters, but I firmly believe you should not be abusing alcohol until you have emotional problems that only hooch will wipe away (and no, Billy’s refusal to share the ball with you at the park does not justify a a few shots of Cuervo in your sippy cup.)

Interestingly, I have the same look on my face when a waitress drops off a pitcher of beer.

Watching Malcolm enjoy sweets lately I have made an interesting observation: he acts the same way on sugar that I act on alcohol. This actually makes more sense the more you think about it as the sugar in candy has many of the same effects on the body as the sugar in alcohol has. OK, that last part is mostly made up, but it can seem more scientifically-based if you picture me saying it while wearing glasses and a lab coat. Here’s how Malcolm’s sugar intake and my alcohol intake match up.

One Drink/Cupcake: Malcolm and I are social beings. We smile and talk to the other people at the party (even the ones we don’t know or don’t like.) There’s something inherently fun about getting together with others and enjoying a special treat. For me, it means wooing the affections of others and telling funny stories. For Malcolm, it primarily means giggling and generous hugging.

Two Drinks/Cupcakes: Things are still pretty good, although sometimes boundaries are crossed. My stories, which had previously involved topics such as “a funny thing happened when Malcolm and I were at the pool” inevitably move towards my crotch, as in “Dontcha just hate it when the gruff Chinese guy at the acupuncturist accidentally touches your penis?” Malcolm’s hugs get a little longer; sometimes they involved toppling over to the floor, and at this point in the festivities he may try to forcibly kiss other kids. You can hear both of us say things like, “It feels so good when it touches the lips!”

Five Drinks/Cupcakes: Usually the consumption of these items is done in some dark corner so that Amy can’t really tell how much we’ve had. Our speech is begninnning to ssslurrrr and for some reason we both like to sing a lot. We have a hard time actually peeing in the toilet, me because I am swaying pretty noticeably and Malcolm because he is so amped up. Glassy eyed, we both really enjoy telling people just how much we love the Giants.

Ten. Stay out of our way. Short, rapid breaths pretty much eliminate the ability for each of us to communicate clearly. When we can actually talk, we tend to tell people exactly what we think about them and there’s a pretty good chance both of us will be getting at least partially naked. We dance for no reason and mistake tackling for hugging. When we don’t get what we want, we get mad, then we cry. For obvious reasons, Amy wants no part of either of us. Luckily, I have the luxury of not remembering things the next day. Malcolm often wakes up with stuffed animals in his bed that he has no intention of sleeping with ever again.

You can use this to help decide both whether you should have another drink or, conversely, whether you should allow your kid that extra piece of cake. A good rule of thumb is to just make sure that there is someone else at the party that has had more than you or child. Trust me, you don’t want your kid or you to be “That Guy.” We’ve been “That Guy” too many times already.

Big Daddy Paul Gets Old

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

This will forever be known around here as the year that my body fell apart. Aside from feeling like shit, I am OK with this designation, as the alternatives, “the year that I got rabies” or “the year Malcolm ate a puppy” seem way worse. I used to consider myself a spring chicken, throwing my body around carelessly for any manner of physical activities. Now, my arm hurts when I throw, my knee hurts when I run, and I can’t even seem to get out of the car without grunting in pain. Getting old sucks!

Of course, I am not going down without a fight. Today, I went to the acupuncturist. You see, my normal response to any dilemma is to ask myself, WWABCPD, or (as the bumper sticker on my car asks) What Would A Billion Chinese People Do? Simple, they’d go get acupuncture. Unless I have my facts wrong, acupuncture started in China 3700 years ago when a local peasant fell on a nail, causing his tennis elbow to feel better. Since then, the Chinese have perfected the art to the point where bay area liberals have no reservations about letting complete strangers stick tiny needles in the most sensitive areas of their bodies.

Our current acupuncturist offers a massage as part of the treatment, and today’s massage made me hate getting older even more. Normally, I do not look to see what the masseuse looks like, preferring to pretend that the strong, calloused hands belong to someone who looks like Lucy Liu. For whatever reason, I looked into the eyes of the person responsible for giving me the rub down, and the face looking back scared the shit out of me.

This guy looked the extra on every movie ever made about Atila the Hun. He appeared to have one eye, three nostrils, and spotty facial hair that looked like it was grown in a dungeon. Yikes! Even worse, the guy made every disgusting sound imaginable, so when he wasn’t burping or clearing phlegm out of his throat, he grunted like a feral animal. I swear, if you didn’t know what was going on in the treatment area, you’d think two frat guys were going full Brokeback on some parchment paper.

What else do I get for my troubles? A couple of seeds taped painfully to my ear!

In retrospect, it was a good thing that Lucy Liu wasn’t giving me the treatment because I had neglected to wear any deodorant and my under arms had developed a funk that one only gets when their significant other has been traveling for a few days. I guess I was a little embarrassed, especially when the masseuse kept covering my armpits with towels, but I certainly couldn’t have been the stinkiest person that has set foot in the office, could I? Whatever, that’s what you get when you burp into my face, dude. I somehow managed to survive the massage and the exceedingly large period of time afterwards when my knee, neck and shoulder looked like pin cushion. I think I feel better, and I am hoping that one day I’ll be able to get out of the car without grunting. Of course, my masseuse probably gets acupuncture too, and look what good that does him.

What March Madness Means To Me

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Some people like Christmas. Some like Halloween. Others like Memorial Day or the Fourth Of July. There are some that even celebrate something called “National Indian Pudding Day” on November 13 where you can rock it out with some natives and copious amounts of butterscotch.

My holiday is March Madness. Why do I like it, you ask? I like March Madness because it gives me the opportunity to become a complete loser for 48 hours without any repercussions. Every year, I go to Reno with some other dim-witted minds in a two day free-for-all of drinking, gambling, and joke slurring. Why Reno? Reno is where losers go to gamble. It is Las Vegas’ toothless cousin it keeps outside in the shed. It is, in almost every way, perfect for our weekend.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day

Typically, we start drinking each day at 9 am each day. We usually end up going to bed sometime between 3 and 4 in the morning. In between, we put away enough cocktails and beer to sedate an elephant (not a small one either!) Whenever we start to run low on energy, we do shots. Oh, we occasionally cry foul that the casino is watering down the drinks, but most of the time we inhabit the gray area between inebriation and unconsciousness that Courtney Love lives in. Experience has taught us that, “I was drunk!” is a pretty good excuse for anything, as in,

Dude, why did you bet on the JV girls team beating Duke?

I was drunk!

When we are not drinking, we are gambling. During the opening of the March Madness tournament, there are three or four games on at any given time. We bet on the first half of each game, the overall score of the game, which mascot would win in a fight, which coach is going to die first and any other proposition that we think is interesting. When the games end for the day, we move ourselves to the blackjack tables. There, we continue to swill liquor and play cards until we run out of money or get kicked out. While all this is happening, we engage in such high brow conversations as “Why aren’t Hillary Swank and Matt Damon ever in the same room together?” or “I bet I can pick out the person in the casino who is from Bakersfield.”

I am normally a pretty mild mannered person. Sure, I suffer from abnormalities of the mind, but my domesticity probably limits me to three or four on the shadiness scale. One of the reasons I can live so contently in the world of stay at home parenting is that I occasionally blow it out like a rock star. Every yin needs its yang, and without it, your yin will shrivel and die. (Another awesome sentence created by yours truly, feel free to drop that one on some classy company.) If you are a stay at home parent like me, I highly encourage you to do the same. I am not saying that you should bring a flask to a PTA meeting and tell people what you actually think about them, but try to carve some time for yourself to do something insanely silly. Alcohol will give you the courage to get even sillier than you had originally planned and sometimes helps things by making you forget what kind of idiot you are. If you do it right, you’ll appreciate your job even more. Until Pudding Day. Then, all bets are off.

Funny Stats About My Blog

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I am a stat nerd. When you combine that with my other nerd attributes (word nerd, debate nerd and nacho nerd) you can get a pretty good picture why I spend most of my time alone. Sometimes this nerdiness leads some interesting discoveries however. And today’s post is one of those times.

I started taking a look at the people who read this blog. At first, I found some shocking trends. Of the 700 or so people who read my blog last month, not one of the readers in Pennsylvania or France clicked on more than one post. Californians average 1.78 pages per visit and the stateside click leaders are from Louisiana, who average a whopping 7.5 clicks per visit. In the international category, readers in Iraq lead the pack with a hefty 2 pages per visit. I guess the shittier the conditions are where you live, the more interesting you find my writing. It works for me, although I would admonish les francais and les Stromboli eaters to get off their ass and click around a little more.

20 people read this blog from a dial up connection. Normally I take a great deal of pride in the amount of other people’s time that I waste, but at dial up connection speeds, I feel a little guilty. All that time downloading for some fart jokes? Sad, very very sad. Similarly, three people read this blog from a Playstation 3. Kids, you should not be reading my blog from a video game console. (You should be scoring touchdowns and beating up prostitutes!) Leave the blog alone ’til you have a job or kids and need a good excuse for ignoring them.

Just in case anyone out there is searching for "Salami Boy and Clown."

The most interesting statistics involve the search terms people use to arrive at my site. By far most common search term to get people here is “futility,” more than 28% of the traffic. I am simply beaming with pride! Second place is “funny chicken.” People also got to my site by searching for “horse racing betting top commentators,” “Paul smells like poo,” and “addicted to strippers.” From here, things get a little weird. “Big daddy making out with gay man,” “jazz cat,” “complex systems of my neighborhood,” also pointed people to my blog, although I am not exactly sure why. Someone asked the question, “Do shetland ponies have big penises?” and the good folks at Google thought it would be fun to send them to me for an answer. I seriously hope they didn’t get the asnwer they were looking for. The person who searched, “big soft poo pants” evidently enjoyed my site, spending seven whole minutes here clicking around looking for guidance. Someone looking for Nicole Eggert spent a mammoth fourteen minutes digging around the blog. Maybe I should should change my byline to, “Bigdaddy Paul, come for Nicole Eggert, stay for the fart jokes.”

Thanks readers, I have enjoyed getting to know you. I think.

I’ve Gone Full Hippie

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I never used to like Hippies. In high school, I had friends who ate peyote, washed their hair in patchouli oil and wore Birkenstocks. I thought they were weird. I had no problem with getting high and playing hacky sack, but when you spend most of your time doing these that makes other people find ludicrous, it’s time to take a long hard look at your life.

Oh what a difference a few years makes. I fear I am just a pair of hemp shorts away from getting my full fledged hippie card. Here’s why:

Yoga. I did yoga the other day for the first time. I had resisted until now because I thought yoga and pilates were only for women. I don’t exactly know why I thought this, maybe it’s because my friends keep telling me, “Yoga and pilates are for women.” I finally gave in and tried this week, and I actually enjoyed it. Similar to my first sexual encounter, I was sweaty and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing it right, but afterwords I felt good. I don’t think I will be buying yoga pants anytime soon, but for now, I am enjoying the different kind of exercise. Hippie factor: Phish Album.

TV. I fucking love television. on TV, I get to hang out with people who are funnier, better looking and smarter than my real friends and family. It is sheer bliss. Not surprisingly, Amy and I have developed a pretty epic habit of sitting on the couch swilling wine, eating cookies and watching our shows. With our latest endeavor getting off the ground, I figured we were going to need to be a little bit more productive in the evenings and a little less hung over in the mornings. Until Amy has things squared away, we will be without our friend and confident: Mr. TV. Sigh. Hippie factor:  Stupid little John Lennon glasses.

Food. I read a book. It said we eat too much meat in this country. I’m not sure of the exact statistic, but it’s something like the average American eats the equivalent of an entire cow every 25 minutes. I took a look at what I ate, and noticed that everything I ate contained meat. I sprinkled bacon bits in my Cheerios, and my idea of a salad was to put a few pieces of lettuce on a ribeye. My favorite wine is Eau de Pork. Seeing this, I heard the finally heard the painful cries that my colon had been making all these years. I decided to keeping eating meat, but only do so when the hunk of meat is the star. So, last Friday night we had curried tofu and brown rice. It was pretty tasty, but afterwords, I couldn’t help but think, “That would have tasted better with ribs.” Hippie factor: tye-dyed ultimate frisbee jersey.

Then again, I may be ready for the commune already!

I know I have a ways to go before I get my ultimate hippie merit badge (which is, I guess, a Jesus beard with matching bong) but if things continue at the current pace, it won’t be long. Then you’ll really hate me.

Please, Please, Please Don’t Make Me Coach Baseball

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I love baseball. I grew up memorizing the backs of baseball cards, recreating batting stances and endlessly spat and grabbed my crotch (all in the name of acting like a pro!) I learned the difference between a curve ball and a slider. I made a list of players with silly names just so I could make sure the world cared about players like Biff Pocoroba. I hung on to useless facts, like which pitcher threw a “booger” ball and the kind of cocaine that Darryl Strawberry preferred (ah, crack, you wonder drug!) Baseball was a huge part of my childhood and I still devote a large portion of my all-too-limited brain resources to thinking about the sport.

You would think, then, that when Malcolm’s Little League sent out an email asking for additional parents to step up and coach their kids’ teams, I would reply with a hearty, “Hell Ya!” Sadly, this is not the case. In the words of the immortal Meatloaf, “I would do a-ny-thing for [baseball], but I won’t do that.”

If I were coaching instead of taking pictures, I would have had to tell the other kid that spending that much time on third base shouldn't happen until high school.

I have many reasons for declining the invitation to supervise 15 children. Actually, there is just one: I don’t want to supervise 15 children. If I wanted to look after 15 children, I would move to Arkansas and stop contracepting. Baseball with just Malcolm is an enjoyable experience for me, but throw in 14 other kids wandering off or mindlessly rolling around on the ground, spitting and grabbing their tiny little crotches, and you have taken baseball out of the “pleasurable” category and put it firmly in “shitty.” Baseball is a game, not work. I’ll leave the coaching to someone who isn’t mortified by the thought of a pack of children running wild over them.

So, I will gladly defer to whoever it is that is going to be Malcolm’s coach, even if they don’t know who Razor Shines is. The view from the stands is quite nice, and even nicer because it’s out of spitting distance.

Don’t Kill Your Children

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they consider ending their child’s existence. Granted, you may have quite a rational reason for doing so, but the odds are pretty high that you will regret it. It’s fun to fantasize about a world where you get to sleep in and not have the thing that you love most dearly call you “poopy pants” on a regular basis. Those fantasies must never be acted out. I just want to go on record and say, “Don’t kill your children.”

I do not say this because I worry that you will be caught and incarcerated. If you are like me, you have already created the perfect plan (which for us involves relabeling the children’s ibuprofen, “Candy.”) Even if these plans go awry, after enough play dates that end prematurely because the kids only want to scream, roll around on the floor and throw legos at each other, a stint in a federal penitentiary seems like a vacation.

Likewise, I do not caution against preschoolercide because of some pie-in-the-sky notion that they will outgrow being a pain in your ass. Sure, Malcolm  may stop calling me “poopy pants,” but that will soon be replaced with “nimrod” or even worse, “Paul.” He’ll stop throwing legos about the time it becomes fashionable to smack his friends around with a light saber. Once that goes out of fashion, it will be time to experiment with cocaine. No, your kids will always be annoying; get used to it.

The real reason I caution you against rubbing out your little ones is that you will rob yourself of the one perk of parenting a child: revenge. I document every little transgression Malcolm makes against me in a file. Every bite, every tantrum in public and each and every name he calls me is credited to his account. When he gets old enough, I start cashing checks.

This gets shown to Malcolm's prom date with admonition, "Now be careful. Malkie's got some sweet moves!"

I’ll hug him in front of the school for far too long as his friends are walking by. I’ll break out pictures of him taking a bath and show them to his dates. I’ll drink beer openly at his little league games. I will do all these things wearing sweatpants that never fully cover my butt crack. Oh yes, revenge will be mine, and it will taste sweet.

So the next time your child convinces a play date to get naked and run around the house squealing in delight, don’t reach for a carving knife. Just smile with the knowledge that, one day, maybe even a wedding day, you will be able to tell everyone they know and love just how long they wet the bed. That should be enough.

Big Daddy Paul’s Odd Resolutions

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

It’s now January. I am required by the blogging community (and my parole officer) to announce what my resolutions are for this year. I know what you are thinking, “Paul don’t change. You are perfect in every way!” I can’t say I disagree with those sentiments but there are SOME people in my life who think I have issues and should work on them. So here without further ado are my resolutions for the year.

1) Do more texting. I can’t stand talking to most of you people. I can honestly say I am sick and tired of the following phrases: “Hello?” “How are you?” and “Wait, what did you say? I missed that.” Speaking to one another is so 1938. It’s time I acted accordingly. Plus, I should start using my phone for more than just Scrabble games.

2) Learn to make sauce. I make a lot of good food. I can make homemade pasta that will make you slap your mother. My enchiladas will make you slap MY mother. My moussaka has started (and ended) love triangles. The problem is that the sauce for much of my food makes you want to slap me. Most of the time, the best thing about food is the sauce that comes with it. Sadly, my sauces ruin a dish like a poor choice of words can ruin a sentence. (For instance, try to pick out the word in the following sentence which ruins everything: “Frosty the snowman was a holly, jolly racist.

I look at this picture and wonder what Amy's back could have done to give the guy behind her such a sense of malaise.

)  I have a gaping hole in my repertoire and this year it’s gonna get fixed.

3) Don’t get robbed. I live in a semi-paranoial fear of getting robbed, so much so that I constantly wake up in the middle of the night wondering if there is a bad guy in the house (even more so when my mom visits and I have just made enchiladas.) It’s not that I think that our stuff is all that nice. (Most of our stuff is covered in filth.) Rest assured though, that there are people out there with even crappier stuff than us. If I can make it through the year without getting robbed I will consider it a personal triumph.

4) Stop getting hung up on meaningless details. I spend about half of my day getting bogged down in tiny little idiosyncrasies in life. It makes for compelling blogging but seriously, do I need to spend mental energy on why Malkies’ swim teacher wears two bathing suits or whether the grocery clerks at our store think I am cool? I think not. There may come a time when I can spend a day leisurely considering which eye to look at for my friends who have lazy eyes, but for now I am taking a little mental vacation time.I should get a lot more done.

I figure by dealing with these issues, I will be the perfect man. Before rushing to contradict me on the blog, consider text messaging me. It may be the only way I will listen.

The Difference Between A Stay At Home Dad And A Minister

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

My dad is a Methodist minister. This may come as a surprising fact to many of you considering the profanity-laced diatribes directed at my son that regularly appear on this blog. While there are many similarities between our jobs (most notably being asked, “You got anything on underneath that robe?”) there are a lot of things between our professions that are different. Here are the main differences:

Talking to the boss. My dad has a personal relationship with God, and he talks to God through prayer. I talk to Malcolm incessantly throughout the day, (and some of the time the conversations don’t involve bodily functions!) The difference between our little chats is that God doesn’t talk back, and I mean that figuratively. I’m pretty sure that the answers to my dad’s prayers don’t involve God saying “You hurt my feelings, and you can’t come to my birthday.” Maybe it’s the fact that Malcolm is only five years old and God has been around since the dawn of time, but Malcolm definitely needs to learn that tantrums will not get me to do what he wants. I’m pretty sure religion would have died out a long time ago if the Ten Commandments began, “Thou Shalt Not Deprive Me Of TV And Candy This Afternoon Or I Will Scratch You In The Face.”

Thou Shalt Not Ignore Me At A Restuarant!

A bad day at office. For me, a bad day involves forgetting to pack a lunch or having a knock-down drag-out fight over whether he has to wear clean underpants. For my dad, it involved someone beloved in the congregation dying. Sure hygiene issues are important, but they definitely pale in comparison to the weighty issues in dealing with loss and heartache in the church. That is, of course, unless you count having to cajole Malcolm into going to swim class when he doesn’t want to. Sometimes, I’d rather sit with the deceased church member’s family. Less painful.

Use of the term, “Sweet Jesus.” My dad speaks of Jesus often, usually taking the form of “Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, give us the strength to walk in your path.” I also say the words, “Sweet Jesus” often, except in a drastically different way, “SWEET JESUS MALCOLM, WHY DID YOU THROW MY PHONE IN THE TOILET!!!”

Finally, Heaven and Hell. To my dad, Heaven and Hell are places where you go when you die. He instructs people on the particulars on avoiding one and getting to the other. For me, however, Heaven and Hell are not places I instruct Malcolm on getting to when he dies; he takes me there (usually both in the same day!) Hell is brushing his teeth when he won’t let me. Hell is a tantrum in public. But every coin has a flip side. There is a heaven too. Heaven is playing catch. Heaven is hearing him sing Christmas songs. And sometimes, Heaven is something so very simple, like the sound of his laughter when I show him that, indeed, I’ve got nothing on underneath the robe.

Should You Teach Your Kid How To Use The Remote Control?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I’ve taught Malcolm many things in his short time on this Earth. I’ve taught him how throw and hit a baseball, what a properly executed grilled cheese sandwich should taste like and I even taught him that when guests come over you should usually close the bathroom door while taking a crap. Usually. (Depends on the friends, depends on the crap!)

Having taught him most everything he needs to know, I am left with this decision: Do I teach him how to use the remote control? It would sure make things easier for me if he just plopped himself down on the couch, queued up his favorite show, and then turned everything off when he was done. Also, kids using technology is sort of quaint, like a monkey using an accordion or an old person talking about Twitter. Often, though, things that makes life the easiest can be the most dangerous. (I learned this after foolishly outsourcing the cleaning of my face to a neighborhood dog, who subsequently gave me canine chlamydia. Damn dirty dog.)

I pity the fool who smiles for pictures like Malcolm. Seriously, what's the deal?

I worry that giving Malcolm the reigns to the TV set will do two things: first, he will sneak out while we sleeping and watch the A-Team. Second, he will drop the remote control on the floor and break it. Either way, I am fucked. Or, I guess more to the point, he is fucked. If he breaks the remote control or starts impersonating Mr. T, I will make his life a living hell.

Mind you, he is going to learn how to use a remote control one day. A man who doesn’t know how to use a remote control is about as useful as a fish with a bicycle (take that feminists!) Learning how to use the remote should be a rite of passage, though, and not something that’s done out of convenience to an admittedly lazy parent. I envision that one day, though, in true Yoda-like fashion I will train him on turning the system on and off, before moving on to more difficult tasks like finding out when the Giants game is on, or where I have secretly hidden the Girls Gone Wild recording on our DVR. There is a time and place for such rites, and I don’t think that time is now. Of course, if the canine chlamydia keeps advancing at the current rate, I may have to speed my time table up…

I Am Plumber: Hear Me Roar

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I fixed something Tuesday. For those of you who know me, this is news. I am usually the person who breaks things, not fixes them. However, even the blind squirrel sometimes gets the nut, and I got my nut earlier this week.

Our dishwasher stopped draining water. At first, I thought it might be because we once tried to wash the cat in there and the hairball had finally made its way to the filter (don’t get mad at me, that cat was filthy!) Having found no such hairball I proceeded to dismantle as much of the dishwasher as I could, hoping that I would be able to reconstruct it at some point. I dislodged a pumpkin seed by the pump assembly and figured that the case was cracked, but was shagrined to open the dishwasher after the next cycle to find another few inches of food stained water waiting there, taunting me.

After a few days, I decided to approach the situation with new eyes. Armed with a killer butt crack and general disregard for hygiene, I took a plunger to the filter (somewhere in the depths of my brain lies a bias that there is no problem in this world that a plunger cannot fix) and then started banging on the hoses underneath the sink to “shake loose” the clog. Finally I took the hoses apart and began sucking on the hose in a misguided attempt to siphon the water out of the dishwasher. (FYI: nasty stale dishwasher water is not pleasant on the palate.) After a few attempts at running the drain cycle, the dishwasher coughed up the pumpkin seeds and pistachio shells that were blocking the lines, and bingo, we were back in business, dishwasher breath, butt crack and all.

Further evidence of my plumbing alter ego: a 215 at bowling!

There aren’t many times when being a stay at home parents pays off. If I was a working stiff, we would have just hired a plumber and he or she would have come over and charged us $150 for ten minutes of work. Being at home, though allowed me to parade around in my plumber’s outfit, have fun with a plunger, and save some money. There aren’t many days that I add financial value to our household, but like I said, this was my week to get the nut. (Get it? I got the nuts out of the dishwasher hose!) I almost can’t wait for a toilet to break.

How To Steal Your Kids’ Halloween Candy (And Not Get Caught)

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

My mouth waters at the sight of a plastic pumpkin.

Stealing candy from your children is an art. Sure some people just ask their kids if it’s OK to share some of their stash, but to me the naughtiness of taking what isn’t rightfully ours is one of the chief thrills of Halloween. (Wanna know why vultures are always grinning? Eating other people’s stuff is fun, even when it’s entrails!) After years of tinkering, I have finally perfected a system by which you can enjoy the fruits of your child’s Halloween labors while ensuring that you don’t have any awkward conversations that begin, “Daddy, what’s this wrapper doing on the couch?” I call it TAIGROTESFTHEHTE. © (Just kidding, that term isn’t copywrited. Yet.)

1. Take an inventory. Dumping out the goodie bag on the floor is a time honored tradition by which children can visualize just how much crap is going to enter their bodies. Don’t be a passive observer for this candy parade! You actively manage your kids’ expectations, steering them towards candy you don’t like and away from items you are likely to take. When Malcolm upends his candy bag, I am right on top of him, “Holy Cannoli! You got an Almond Joy! And a Milky Way! That’s so great, they are probably the best candy bars out there. Oh, you did get a Baby Ruth, though, those are full of broccoli.”

2. Get rid of the extras. At first, take only items that have duplicates. Kids are quick to remember the entirety of the stash, but they won’t remember having more than one kind of each candy. They will ask, “What happened to my Snickers bar?” but won’t think, “Now where is that second (or third!) Snickers bar?”

3. Separate from the herd early. Kids are more likely to miss candy bars when their stash is depleted. If you go on a wine-induced candy bar binge late one night and the candy pumpkin only has ten sweets in it, you are probably going to get caught. However, with some advance planning, you can have a a pig-out session without the consequences. I suggest having your own candy draft on Halloween night, “With the first pick in the 2010 Halloween candy draft, Paul Schwartz selects: Take 5!” You can then hit your private stash for larger events while still siphoning off a candy or two off of your kids’ supply for more routine cravings.

4. Hide the evidence. Many a Halloween season has been ruined by leftover wrappers or crumbs. Malcolm told Amy recently that he didn’t want “other” people eating his candy any more.  By the way he looked at her, and then the garbage can, the message was pretty clear: “I know what you’ve been doing and I don’t like it.” Also, if you have the audacity to eat their candy while they are around (extra naughty!) be sure they can’t hear you fidgeting with the wrapper. For goodness sakes, take it the other room (one with a lock preferably) and enjoy the experience in solitude.

There you have it. TAIGROTESFTHEHTE and you will quickly be on your way to enjoying your child’s bounty. The way I look at it, I am doing Malcolm a favor; he doesn’t need all that crap. Of course, you could also do what I did this year, and just buy extra candy and not give it out to the neighborhood kids, but there’s really no sport in that. Sometimes though, Butterfinger bars are just worth it.

What I Learned From The World Champion Giants

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Cheers to you Giants!

The Giants are World Champions. There cannot be a sweeter sentence for me to type today (except for maybe, “Krispy Kreme is now offering free nacho-bacon doughnuts!”) It has been a long season filled with ups and downs, but ultimately ending last night with Amy, Malcolm and I celebrating with a few friends at a local sports bar. Having some time to reflect, here are the lessons I am taking away from the run to Giants run to glory:

Don’t let the Cliff Lee’s of the world stand in your way. Cliff Lee is a pitcher for the Texas Rangers and was the last in a long line of pitchers that the Giants were supposedly unable to beat. Cliff Lee had never lost a playoff game, and had only given up two runs this postseason. He was the best big game pitcher that people had ever seen. The Giants scored nine runs against Lee and beat him, twice. If you had listened to the “experts,” the Giants had as much chance of beating Cliff Lee as I have looking good in skinny jeans (muffin tops, they’re not just for breakfast!) The Giants didn’t listen to these experts and wound up winning it all. We all have people in our lives who tell us that we can’t get what we want. Don’t listen to them! If you want something badly enough, you can make it happen even when the naysayers are saying, “Nay!” Tell that boss/spouse/parent/police officer to stick it, and make your dreams come true!

Trust in your friends. The Giants had a lineup that was universally heralded as “flaccid.” Most of the their roster was made up of players that nobody else wanted, hardly a recipe for success. A funny thing happened as the season wore on, though. They learned to trust one another. They won games in surprising fashion. After excruciating losses, they came right back the next day and won. It didn’t really matter if any one of the players made a mistake, they knew that their buddies had their back (if not this game, then the next.) This is true for all of us. When life gives you lemons, your friends can help you make lemonade. (I wanted to use the expression “Making chicken dinner out of chicken shit” there, but I am not really sure about the physics behind it.) Celebrate with them, let them help you through tough times, and enjoy each other. Everything else will fall into line.

Get a little weird. This team has quirks like I got athlete’s foot. One guy wears a red thong. A couple others use shoe polish to dye their beards. They have nicknames like “panda” and “the freak,” and they act more like preschoolers in the dugout than big league ball players. Instead of stigmatizing their odd habits, the team relishes in them. Why not do the same? Sing shmaltzy songs to yourself in the car! Got a favorite Glee character? Get a tattoo of them on your butt! Grab a nacho-bacon doughnut and parade around your muffin top in public! As long as you believe in yourself and are surrounded by great people, it will all be worth it.

Thank you Giants for a magical year!

Halloween Horror Story

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Halloween is that spooky time of year where people scare the shit out of each other and kids get sick from eating too much garbage. In honor of the holiday, I confronted what is by far my biggest fear: making crafts. I have as much artistic ability as a dead tree stump, so the thought of me sitting down and making a homemade Halloween costume for Malcolm is truly terrifying. My fears were compounded when Malcolm announced his choice of costumes this year: a salami and cheese sandwich. I pushed hard for costumes that would not really require any work on my part, but Malcolm immediately shot down my ideas of “baseball player” or “naked four-year-old” as uninspired.

Needing supplies, I realized I was going to have to set foot in the scariest building on the planet. No ordinary haunted house, this building is renowned in our house for its sheer bloodcurdling creepiness. That’s right, I had to go to Michael’s, an arts and crafts superstore that has brought many a stay at home dad to his knees. Scared to walk down ghastly aisles of scrap booking and knitting materials, I did what anyone would have done in my situation; I called my mommy. My mom made the coolest homemade costumes for us growing up, and I thought some of her expertise would be helpful in designing and making Malcolm’s costume (and hold my hand at Michael’s!)

That boy has salami on his mind. Get it? Salami. On his mind!

My mom totally saved my butt, guiding me through such gruesome tasks as purchasing a glue gun and cutting felt. We had a pretty tight deadline, considering I waited until the day before Malcolm’s school Halloween party to begin making the costume.  Even so, we were able to crank through the project together, marveling at how well his costume turned out, even laughing a few times along the way. We finally finished and the result is one awesome costume, in my humble opinion.

Of course, Malcolm woke up on the big day of his school party and threw up all over the place, ensuring that no one at his school would get to see the fruits of our labors. Kids suck that way. I just hope that he gets to wear the costume on Sunday. I also hope I don’t have to set foot in Michael’s anytime soon. That place gives me the creeps.

Caution: Dork On The Dance Floor

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

We went to a wedding this weekend. This wedding was a little different in that I was a groomsman, so instead of being the guy who shows up late, gets drunk early, and makes an ass out of himself, I showed up early, got drunk late and tried to be as nice as I could to everyone I met. I gave a speech during the reception, and while I nearly gave myself an aneurysm worrying that I would somehow fuck it up by using by accidentally dropping an F-Bomb (which I do from time,) things went generally well.

My reward for making it through the wedding weekend, getting all our tasks accomplished on time, and not having the bride hate my guts at the end was that I finally got to let loose, get tipsy and dance with my wife. I am not good at dancing, but what I lack at rhythm I more than make up for by being unable to control my elbows. (I’m pretty sure I knocked out gramma’s dentures during an overly excited episode involving Journey’s, “Don’t Stop Believing.”) The thing that saves Amy and I’s bacon out there time after time is hustle. We bring it out there, not really caring how we look, and just having fun being goofy together.

For some reason late Saturday night, I thought I had turned a corner. It was probably the bourbon talking, but something in my head told me that I was actually a good at dancing. I felt like James Brown, Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake all took over control of my body and had me producing moves that would surely land me in the winner’s circle of America’s Got Talent. I threw down moves that were part hip-hop, part old school funk, part kung fu, and a little interpretive ballet thrown in for good measure. Dude was on.

Sometimes, you're better off not knowing how ridiculous you look.

And then came the little signs that things weren’t necessarily as they seemed. People were pointing and laughing. Women, who I assumed would be thrilled to have me grinding on their backsides, were complaining to their husbands about the pervert on the dance floor. While I alternated between smiling and looking fierce, people rolled their eyes back at me. It seems that, although my body was being controlled by the Brown/Jackson/Timberlake Trinity, they were arguing over the controls, making me look like a Zombie being torn apart by machine gun fire.

Thankfully, I won’t remember my bad dancing at the wedding. The good thing about alcohol is that while it may sometimes cause you to do silly things, it does a wonderful job of making you forget them afterwords! I’ll just remember being goofy with Amy and enjoying myself thoroughly. Props to Olivia and Jason for putting one kick ass wedding, and now I need to go figure out how to get all these dancers out of my head. Gimme back my body!

Word Nerds

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I love word games. This may come as a surprise to many of you considering most of the vocabulary I use on this blog comes straight out of the third grade. I could use more sophisticated words like circumbilivagination (which isn’t nearly as dirty as you think it might be) or hippopotomonstrosesquippediliophobia, but most of the time my spell checker doesn’t recognize them as real words and I doubt that you would take much enjoyment out of me using them in a sentence. (Think I am lying? Let’s see if this makes you smile, “If the word circumbilivagination gives you the willies, you probably suffer from hippopotomonstrosesquippediliophobia.” See, I’ve lost most of you.)

I grew up playing Boggle with my parents, and I spent many a night staring at the letters for words like, “tits” or “fart.” I soon learned that there were many tricks you could use to make easy words, one of our funnest being the addition of an -er to any verb to make a word that means, “one who” does that verb, as in “Malcolm is a drizzler. The bathroom floor is disgusting!” I don’t get to play Boggle all that much anymore, as my friends are all tired of me finding all the stupid words I know. They also tire of me giggling whenever I can find the “farty” words.

How do you spell tomorrow's lunch? B-O-O-G-E-R!

It appears that our Malcolm shares my aptness for words no one understands. We play quite a bit of scrabble on my phone, so he knows that words like xu and qat are quite acceptable (and high scorers, too.) The first time Malcolm threw the letters Z-A down on the board, I smiled. Then I frowned, knowing that he is going to be a pain in his teacher’s asses from here on in. I easily can envision situations where Malcolm writes down a word like, “S-U-Q” at school, and insisting, over his teacher’s objections, that suq is indeed a word because, “My daddy played it in Scrabble.” For now, we are are adhering to a strict, “you can’t play a word unless you know what it means,” rule. At least, until he regularly plays the words like fart. Then xu won’t seem so bad.

Where Has All The Girth Gone?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I am losing weight! That’s right, when I stepped on the scale this morning, I saw a number I haven’t seen in a while. An eight, where a nine used to live. I was so shocked by this discovery, that I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and tried again, thinking that maybe my scale was trying to fuck with me. Upon a second sampling, my scale confirmed that I have dropped about 5% of my considerable body mass, since I decided that pregnancy bellies aren’t the cool fad that I thought they were going to be. It’s a start, and hope that I can continue down the path to renaming my site “Average Size Daddy Paul.”

How am I doing it? Well, it’s not by eating well. I still eat a fair amount of garbage, and probably always will. I think most of the weight loss can be traced back to one glorious little phenomenon: diarrhea. We have been playing diarrhea tag around here for the last few weeks, with one person getting over stomach bugs just after they have spread it around to the other members of the household. (This is an especially sad development considering we just made the switch to recycled toilet paper, which is as gentle on the bum as as a loofah.) It appears that we have finally gotten over the myriad of illnesses to hit us, I’m just hoping that they don’t take the new skinnier me with them.

Guess which side of the debate Malcolm lands.

Noticeable weight loss does have one large side effect, however. A shrinking waist has created an all new epidemic: butt crack. Fat Paul went out and bought a whole bunch of new shorts, meaning Less-Fat Paul’s shorts tend to slide down on the body a bit. Amy is not a big fan of this slide, and is constantly chirping at me to yank them up, lest any passers-by get a glimpse of what I affectionately refer to as my vertical smile. This is definitely an area of disagreement between us, as I am a big fan of partial nudity, whether it’s a hot Brazilian in a bikini or male keister cleavage. To ensure marital bliss, I am gonna have to buy a belt. That and some new toilet paper.

No Hablo Ingles

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I played golf today with a Chinese American dude and his wife. (Actually, I am just assuming they are American. We don’t live in Arizona, so I wasn’t bound to check their ID.) I called the man Lloyd even though he told me on the first hole his name was Aaron. I guess I am not very good with names. They were very nice, just not very good. During the round, one of the guy’s errant tee shots almost knocked out a tooth from the group in front of us. The rightly irritated golfer came back to issue a stern warning, expressing his desire to retain a full set of choppers. Curiously, Lloyd/Aaron lost his English. The irate golfer starting chiming in with the usual, “You have to let us walk off the green, at least yell fore!” to which Aaron responded, “你毛茸茸的鬍子讓我想起狗睾丸!” (If you’re in need of a good laugh, google translate that one.) The irate golfer then asked IN A VERY LOUD VERY SLOW VOICE WHETHER THE LLOYD/AARON SPOKE ENGLISH. Then he frowned and walked away.

I got to thinking that Lloyd/Aaron was onto something. Imagine all of the hot spots you could get yourself out of by just feigning a lack of English! Here are the ones that top my list:

When your kid bites another kid at the park.

When you get busted staring at a particularly low cut blouse at the grocery store.

When the librarian corners you wondering why Charlotte’s Web is more than a month overdue.

When the kid’s parent you don’t like asks you if you want to have a play date.

Any interaction with a religious person at your front door.

When any British-accented person says something to you. (For the life of me, I can’t understand the British. What the fuck is a paye? FYI, it’s a pea.)

Homeless guy at the gas station.

When your neighbor says that your Netflix shipments have been switched and wants back The Hangover instead of Goonies.

When you are traveling with a child on an airplane and anyone on the plane wants to “give you some advice” on making your kid behave better.

When the person you met five hours ago still calls you by the wrong name.

Here I am with a Chinese toddler in Tiananmen Square in pure parenting bliss: total language incompatibility

Lastly, one time, just one time, I would like to respond to Malcolm’s knock down drag out tantrum mantra, “You hurt my feelings, I’m not your friend anymore!” by saying, “闭上你的嘴,白痴,我无法理解你。!!!”

Any of you got situations you’d like to get out of by faking a language barrier?

I’ve Just Discovered The Secret To Parenting

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Most people think I am a nimrod. I don’t necessarily disagree with the sentiment, although in my defense I can tell you that most of my slowness is a holdover from the days when I was a paint-huffer. All those in the nimrod camp will be greatly distressed, though, to learn that I have in fact stumbled on to the one thing that any parent in the world would want to know: that’s right, I know how to stop your kid from having tantrums.

Here is the secret: keep them sick. Amy was gone all week, and when Malcolm came home sick from school on Tuesday, I thought I was sunk. I was going to have to spend 24/7 with the boy, and I had no one warming up in the bullpen if I started going a little nutty. We actually had a nice, quiet week, so what could have been a disaster turned into a the greatest parenting discovery since kissing boo boos. Sick kids don’t have tantrums. Relegated to writhing around on the couch, feverish and lacking their normal energy to make your life a miserable hell, you almost feel sorry for the sick kid. Instinctually, you do things for them which make them happy, like letting them watch movies all day, and not making them do things that they normally must do, like running to the  store to get daddy some more beer. When they’re sick, you don’t argue with them over finishing their dinner as a few crackers here and there are more than enough nourishment. They don’t mind going to bed, especially if you’ve given them enough nyquil to put down a moose. It’s simple and perfect. Sick kids are the docile cow-like creatures you dreamed of having when you thought about having kids in the first place. I wonder why no one has thought of this before?

Daddy, I feel fuzzy. Did you put something in that chocolate milk? (Hee Hee Hee, you bet I did, son!)

“But Paul,” you ask, “My kid only gets sick a few times during the year. What do I do the rest of the time?” Easy. Make them sick all year long yourself! I will use a two prong approach by weakening Malcolm’s immune system (refined sugars and overuse of antibiotics are best for that!) and proactively exposing him to harmful germs and viruses. I’ll carry around a “dirty hankie” around with me everywhere I go. Whenever I notice someone sneeze, I’ll ask them to cough into the hanky. Then I have Malcolm use it for his washcloth. It’s gotta be good for four or five colds a month. I also have a supply of dairy products that have passed their expiration dates in the fridge. I mix in a little with the good stuff (it’ll take a while for to figure out how much to use without him noticing, but I’ll figure it out eventually) whenever I need Malcolm’s stomach to start cramping. If all else fails, I keep a jar full of malaria infected mosquitos around. This one is trickier, though, as you want your kid to be sick enough to leave you alone, but not sick enough to warrant the dubious, “Public Health Risk” charge. A three or four month quarantine could easily put a damper on your plans. With a little bit of devious planning, you could have your kid, feverish, nauseating and totally lethargic. Just imagine!

So there you go, the secret to parenting wrapped up nicely with a little bow. You can thank me, but honestly I would rather you just stop calling me a nimrod. I find it hurtful.

Big Daddy Paul Joins A Gym

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Why am I fat? An unhealthy addiction to things like shrimp corn dogs and bacon sushi.

I have, shall we say, a negative body image. It may be because of a lack of positive self-identity. It may also be because I eat crap, don’t exercise and, as a result, have a belly that doesn’t resemble a “spare tire” so much as it does a “spare Winnebago.” I am not happy that most of my clothes don’t fit and even less happy that my Manssiere is now two cup sizes too small. When Malkie asked whether I weighed myself on the Richter Scale, I knew I had to make some changes.

So, I joined a gym. I joined the gym where I could get Malcolm back into swimming lessons and I can play basketball with my friends at lunch time. Sure, there may be times when I step up to an elliptical machine or (if I decide to get really crazy) become the sweaty farting guy in the yoga class, but mostly I am joining a gym for access to the nice basketball courts.

As with everything else in my life, the opportunity that has presented itself comes with a minefield of items that make me uncomfortable. The biggest whopper out there is the locker room. I realized recently that I really enjoy saunas and steam rooms. Check that, I like the way saunas and steam rooms make me feel AFTER I have left. While in the rooms, I curse my decision to enter, desperately feeling that each breath is going to be my last. Using the steam room or sauna is going to be tricky because I would have to shower afterwords, which would entail spending to some nice quality naked time with my friends. I like my friends, I just don’t want to see them naked. Ditto with me prancing around naked in front of them, except for when I am drunk on my birthday. If don’t shower there, then I become the weird guy who doesn’t shower in public, second only to sweaty farting guy on the loathsome scale. Any way you slice it, I lose.

Now that I think of it, the road to weight loss may have to wait a few weeks so that I can go to therapy and resolve some issues before I actually make my way to the gym. And maybe, just maybe, if my therapist gets a basketball court, I can just skip the gym entirely.

Weekdays: Not Just For Drinking Beer In My Underpants Anymore

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Malcolm started preschool today. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of pleasure that this brings both Malcolm and I, as I am tired of playing the same old games with him and he is tired of me telling him to leave me alone. (If you are keeping score at home, that last sentence will one day win an Edgar Allen Poe award for most pronouns in a non run-on sentence.)

Lately, a lot of people have asked me what I am going to do with myself, now that he is going to be in school from 8:30-3 every single day of the week. I know that the implication is that I should go out and get a job to help pay for things around here, but if I started listening to what other people say, I would start with, “Zip up your fly!” well before, “Get a job.” The truth of the matter is I don’t really know what the grand plans are for me, but I have amassed a list of things I will be able to focus on for the time being. Here is the list:

1) Write this blog! I have been slacking this summer and the quality of my writing has gone from “horrid” to “shitty.” That is usually because I am squeezing out blog posts as fast as I can before Malcolm notices that I am not paying any attention to him. With all my new-found time, this blog is gonna pop like a rat in the microwave. (Well, maybe it’s gonna take a little time for me to get my analogies up and running, but at some point, I hope to return to “horrid” in the not-to-distant-future.)

2) Clean my ears! My unhealthy fetish for Q-Tips is rivaled only by the compulsive sniffing of my fingers after pumping gas. It’s time for Big Daddy Paul to have some quality time alone.

3) Cook! I love cooking. Actually, I love eating and the cheapest way to eat good is to cook good. With Malcolm in preschool, I can not only have time to prepare yummy morsels for us to eat, I can also shop at the grocery store without you-know-who slowing me down. Tonight: Homemade raviolis in red pepper sauce.

4) Exercise. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to my man boobs, but like last night’s dream where I got to rub nacho cheese into Scarlett Johannson’s back, all good things must come to an end. I plan on some sort of vigorous exercise three or four times a week. If everything goes to plan, soon I’ll look so good that ScarJo will soon be dreaming of nacho cheese and MY back.

5) Laundry! The pile of laundry in our house is scary. I swear it moves around while we aren’t watching. Yesterday, it asked me what the weather was going to be like. My clothes are so dirty that I had to tell Malcolm that he can wear any shirt that doesn’t have three stains on it. That’s right, we have a three-stain rule in our house. This has to change.

6) Kill all these motherfucking spiders! Somewhere in the world, there is an ad in a newspaper that reads like this: “Sandals For Spiders has opened it’s brand new resort! Set in the idyllic Bay Area in in Sunny California, the new resort is a non-stop party place for spiders of all shapes and sizes. Arachnids will enjoy setting up shop at the exclusive Wilson-Schwartz household, where they are free to take over the inside and outside of automobiles, spin webs inside oven doors (!) and crawl all over the occupants (!!).” I’m not sure how all this got started, but I assure that most of the spider cries you hear in the next few weeks will be coming from our house. It’s time to kick a little ass. (Get it? Spiders have little asses! Maybe I am closer to horrid than I think!)

7) Write my book! The progress report on how much I have been able to work on it looks like this: Jack Squat. I will finally have the time, though, to reflect back on my time with Malcolm in a way that will make people laugh. And cringe. This book will get done, though, and I am going to have fun doing it. But first, I see a Q-Tip with my name on it and a spider that’s about to die.

Honey I Poisoned The Kids!

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

We had a three-family play date on Friday. I thought things went pretty well, with the kids getting along well and nobody needing medical attention. Well, at least nobody needed medical attention on Friday.

On Saturday, we took Malcolm out to go golfing. On the practice green, he started looking, well, a little green. After mumbling something unintelligible, he proceeded to projectile vomit all over that finely mowed grass.

It was like this, except with more chunder!

Not wanting the 50 or so kids lined up for a youth golfing event to have to putt through any more puke, I picked him up and placed him in the rough next to the green. He continued to toss his cookies for another minute or so, while I rubbed his back and tried my best not to stare at the large chunks of fruit that were spewing forth from his mouth. Seeing all those kids with a hopeful and energetic look in their eyes was inspiring, at least until they saw what Malcolm was doing and started dry heaving themselves. After the episode finally came and went, I got some paper towels to clean up the mess. Let me tell you, cleaning sticky, chunky, gelatinous barf off of a tightly mowed green is a bit of a surreal experience. You should try it some time!!!

We got home and Malcolm threw up some more. Sadly, most of it went on our couch, which we had professionally cleaned last week. Timing is everything in life, isn’t it. I found out that two of the other kids at the play date were training to be supermodels on Friday as well. I think it may have been some bad cheese that we ate.

Ah, to heck with it. I don’t care. You know what time it is? It’s fantasy football time! I love fantasy football. If fantasy football were a gay man, I would marry it, even in a red state. If fantasy football wore Betty White’s dress to the Emmy’s, I would tell it it looked amazing. (And then take it home for some sweet lovin’!) Fantasy football could call me a racist, say that FEMA is building concentration camps, and compare me to Hitler, and I would still give it a big juicy hug at the end of each day. In order of awesomeness, my priorities are breathing, drinking, eating, Amy, fantasy football, money, a good toilet, Friday Night Lights, and then Malcolm. The hold that fantasy football has over me is stronger than Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Situation, put together!

Amy joined the party again this year by drafting her own team. She and her college pals started a league, and I helped Amy prepare for her draft. (That’s why she shows up so high on the priority list!) My draft is next monday. I will be feverishly preparing for the draft, so my posts my be a bit sparse this week. Wish me luck, and stay away from mozzarella cheese at my house, for the time being!

Four Things That Are Annoying Me Right Now

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Our car window. Our Honda Accord is almost ten years old, and it is starting to show signs of wear, most notably the fact that the driver’s side window is broken. Whenever I need to roll down the window and talk to someone on the street, I instinctively push the button to make the window go down before realizing that I now drive a hooptie and am one step away from having a car whose door handle is an old piece of rope. If you think it easy communicating with a parking lot attendant through a tiny crack in an open door it’s not. It’s embarrassing, and makes me mad. Sure, I could spend the small fortune it would take to fix the stupid thing, but if I did, the terrorists would win. Surely.

Pretend baseball. Everyone’s kid does something all the time that at first is kinda cute, but then starts to annoy you to the point where you wish you never stopped contracepting. For us, that is now pretend baseball. About thirty times a day, Malcolm asks who we are rooting for, and then names two teams (the most popular being the Floridelphia Marlins and the Cinfernatti Reds.) He then proceeds to run around the house pretending he is playing and then invariably tells you that the team you were “rooting” for lost by some large margin (last night the Giants lost to the Dodgers 130 to 0 and I am still pissed about it.) Eventually, he suckers you into playing catch and then actually playing the game itself, where you have to be the catcher, the umpire, and all of the other team. About the time you realize you are doing most of the work, you tell Malcolm you don’t want to play anymore, which leads him to start whining and forces you to look into a full time nanny.

The stuff in our house. Our house is in a state of disarray which leads guests to the conclusion that we are about to be featured on an episode of Cops. There are piles of shit everywhere and I fear there may be small rodents lurking about in them. I would get rid of the piles except for the fact that I have no idea where to put anything. So, most of the stuff in our house eventually makes its way to our office, which has the same role as the dead pile on a farm. Every year or so, I clean the office and promise that it will never get that bad, making Amy roll her eyes before turning her head at the rustling from the pile of papers in the corner. Most of the time, she utters, “Damn Varmints!”, and I am not sure if she is referring to the rodents or me.

I can't even see my feet anymore!

My boobs. I have the boobs of a perky high school freshman and if I don’t make any changes soon, I will one day be the prom queen. (I should also be quite upset at my muffin top of a belly that allows entire knit sweaters to lurk in my belly button instead of mere clumps of lint, but I can’t get past looking at my rack in the mirror. Yowza!) There are some people who “work out” by going to a place called a “gym,” but those are the kind of people who having working car windows, love playing with their kid, and don’t live in mortal fear of the accumulated stuff in their house. I am not that kind of person, but one day I hope to be. Until then, when you see me constantly moving so that you never get a profile shot of  my “Heavage,” you’ll know why.

What’s annoying you?

I Am Not A Boy Scout

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I used to be prepared. I had a backpack full of diapers, wipes, snacks, small toys and a buck knife sharp enough to gut a camel. Sure, I forgot the backpack about half of the time, but back then I was at least occasionally prepared for life in the world as a parent.

Once Malcolm joined the world of the potty trained, though, the backpack took its rightful place in the corner, next to the Elmo DVD’s and my once wicked cool pair of ’90’s era MC Hammer parachute pants. I gladly reveled in the fact that Malcolm no longer needed extra disposable underpants with us, and took it to mean that also didn’t need any food, drink or emergency entertainment. (I still keep the buck knife strapped to my leg, just in case I run into a rabid camel awkwardly galloping through the streets of Oakland. You never know.)

I have recently been surprised to learn that other parents still do some preparation before leaving the house with their kids. Shocking, to say the least. I have been on play dates with these seemingly obsessive/compulsive parents, who still bring snacks for their kids, and, even worse, things for their kids to drink. When Malcolm and I are in the world, it’s like Ramadan. He gets nothing to snack on and can occasionally have some water if we are able to locate a drinking fountain that isn’t completely disgusting (a rarity in Oakland.)

When confronted with the reality of these other parents caring for their children, Malcolm and I look longingly at the fruits of their preparation, like the Amish teens who stare jealously at all the zippers on my parachute pants. Malcolm has recently begun asking the parents if they have brought him any snacks, causing the other adult to sneer at me and silently question, “Why am I the bad guy here? You’re the one who doesn’t look after your child!” For a while, I would plead ignorance, like I had no idea that I was supposed to bring supplies with us. Once you go on a few play dates though, that excuse doesn’t hold water anymore. Malcolm’s friends must either bring him an extra treat or endure the unwelcome humiliation of asking their kid to share a snack with Malcolm. (I wouldn’t share a tasty granola bar, but I sure don’t mind looking scornfully at another kid who declares that he won’t share with Malcolm!)

I know that I should just stick an emergency box of snacks in the car, but that requires preparation, a talent that I am severely lacking. I feel a certain sense of entitlement since Malcolm doesn’t wear diapers and I don’t need to bring a diaper bag with us, and I am going to hold fast to it. Sure, other parents must be annoyed by me, but I am fairly certain that they are going to be annoyed with me anyways, so why not pile on while I can. I’ll be the one laughing, though, when I save everyone by the marauding camels. Then who’ll seem prepared…

Torry Hansen Is My Hero

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

For those of you who don’t know who that is, shame on you! She is the adoptive mother of a seven-year-old Russian psychopath who tried to kill Torry’s family members and threatened to burn down the house. Torry’s response? She stuck him on a plane back to Russia with a “thanks, but no thanks” letter to the Russian authorities. There are so many interesting angles to this story (How awkward was THAT ride to the airport?) but I will only look at one. The sheer genius of it all.

Excuse me, I'd like to return this pumpkin. It just bit me!

There are times when I wish I could send Malcolm back. Why would I do such a thing? Well, the Russian boy allegedly hit, screamed at and spit at the mom, usually in response to not getting what he wanted.  Let’s see: check, check, check, and double check. Malcolm has done almost everything the Russian boy did (even threatening to kill Amy and I from the back seat of the car once.)  Logistically, though, sending back your own kid back is a lot harder than buying an airline ticket, and involves the horrific mental imagery of shoving a forty two inch person up and through my wife’s lady business. As it turns out, returning Malcolm just isn’t going to work.

That doesn’t mean we can’t all learn from Torry’s example. From now on, I will meet all of life’s little disappointments by returning the disappointing item to its place of origin. The raspberries that go fuzzy the day after coming home with me are not going into the trash. They’re going back to the display at the store, with a note that says “This is what the rest of these berries will look like tomorrow.” When I read a book I don’t particularly care for, I will mail it back to the publisher explaining, “This book sucks. I am returning it to you that you may rearrange the words into something more intriguing.” My dream, though, is to one day have the courage to walk into a restaurant, throw up in a bucket and say, “Here’s last night’s dinner back. I think the recipe needs a little tinkering.”

Now that I think of it, if Malcolm comes home tomorrow and starts acting up, I will just bring him back to school with a note: “To whom it may concern: this child is still not right. Please return him when you are done teaching him.”

At least it beats the other two options.

My Inventions will change the world

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

My friend Tracy and I used to sit around a bowling alley drinking beer and coming up with ingenious ideas. This was particularly intruiging considering that, at the time, Tracy was on her way towards revolutionizing the world of women’s health and I was studying to become the next great champion of worker’s rights. Yet, there we were, throwing back Rolling Rocks and figuring out how to design an adult flotation device that would allow people to stay afloat on Lake Shasta while conveniently and safely storing a margarita. Sadly, many of our best ideas were forgotten the next day, ironically the casualty of the very beer that aided in our sudden bursts of creative thinking. I have stopped drinking to excess (at bowling alleys!) and so am more readily available to catalogue some of the ideas that could change the world, if I would only get off my ass and make them a reality. Today, I will share a few with you:

Contrarian Underpants. Who wouldn’t want a pair of skivvies that would cool you down when you are hot, or warm you up when get chilly? Have you ever heard the expression “I nearly froze my balls off?” or “My lady business is hotter than a half-bred fox in a forest fire?” I have, and contrarian underpants would ensure that you never have to hear them again. How would such amazing undergarments work? Simple, use similar technology to that found in a thermos. A thermos keeps hot liquid hot and cold liquid cold. Just invert to thermos process in your undies, and Bam! A billion dollars, easy. The diaper version would not only give your small one comfort, but also make their various excretions smell like movie theater butter. Maybe a billion is a conservative estimate.

Modeling software to show your kids what they will be like in 20 years. If you are tired of reminding your kids to eat their veggies, say “please” and “thank you” and abstain from random acts of aggression against their peers, then this software could be a gift from heaven. It would be so much easier to show them a picture of what they would look like in 20 years if they don’t change their ways. I’m sure Malcolm would change is behavior if I told him that this was the path he was headed down:

Mind you, the software would obviously be customizable, so if you were worried that your daughter was getting too into body building and sticking forks into electrical sockets, it would spit out this:

Who wouldn’t buy that software?

Lastly, the Iphone needs an application that can sense what you’re feeling like and automatically suggest what it is you should be doing. Consider it a mood ring with kick-ass features. Simply hold the phone, and boom: it will sense that you have cabin fever and suggest an adventure (perhaps a treasure hunt to visit all of the Krispy Kreme’s within 25 miles of you!)  Or maybe you are feeling a little fat, and it will suggest a bike route for you to follow to get to a nearby Krispy Kreme. Perhaps you have recently been dumped, and are in need of some comfort. It could sense this and bring up the phone number for a brand new service that delivers Krispy Kremes, straight to your door! Whatever your mood, it has a solution.

It’s really hard for me to have all these great ideas and lack the time to follow through on them. I am sure that someone who has more of an entrepreneurial spirit will read this and then crush my soul as they become a zillionaire capitalizing on my ideas. If there was only some way I could drown my sorrows when this happens…

At What Point Is Your Child No Longer Potty Trained?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

There comes a special time in every parent’s life when their child becomes potty trained and you can officially tell the diaper companies to go screw themselves. For us, it happened when Malcolm was about 3 years and 2 months old. If that seems a little late to you, it is because we don’t like touching feces and did not want to push Malcolm into anything he wasn’t ready for. We (Amy) decided that we would wait until he told us that he was ready to wear big boy underpants and use the potty. To entice him into this transformation, we slyly inserted questions into conversations that he had positive associations with: “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Do want to wear your big boy underpants?” Or: “Let’s go eat donuts, wanna go potty first?” For the longest time, his answers were almost always, “No!” until one day he said, “Yes!” His answer was, “Yes” every day after that, and we had a grand total of one accident during the transition. Both Amy and I were happy that the road to potty-trainingville was not soiled with human waste.

Chief among Malcolm's reasons for wanting to be potty trained: scalp irritation.

Until recently. In the past week, we have had two incidents whereby Malcolm has soiled himself. The first took place at school (luckily!) and involved Malcolm pooping all over himself in what his teachers referred to as a slight case of “heat stroke.” The second incident occurred when we conducted a little experiment to see if Malcolm would feel safe if we turned off his nightlight. (He woke up shrieking bloody murder and then pissed himself, so it’s safe to say that the nightlight will continue to burn brightly in his room for some time to come.)

I am not concerned that he is regressing but I still wonder whether we can honestly say he is potty trained. The reason I ask is that he will attending camps this summer and a new preschool next year and I wonder whether I need to disclaim his recent mishaps.

Q: How old is your child? A: 4.

Q: Is your child potty trained? A: Yes, except when having a heat stroke. Or, when scared shitless. (Literally!)

I guess this level of honesty could be quite refreshing. Sure, there have been times when control over my own bodily functions is a bit suspect, and I guess those around me deserve to know what they might be in store for. (The best advice I can give is to not stand near me whenever I am in the great state of Nevada.) I could also see the utility around old people, who might do a service to others by wearing large buttons that say, “If I have been eating popcorn or eggs, stand back!!!” Then again a little discretion might work too. I’ll probably just mark, “Yes” on the applications for summer camps.

Hello There

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Hi, my name is Paul. I write this blog. I am going to take a moment to depart from my normal hard hitting topics and discuss something of great significance with you today. Actually, my mind is kinda drawing a blank right now. Isn’t there somewhere in the world that is going through a great deal of suffering right now?  I guess I’ll spend the rest of the post talking about how nice my legs look in shorts. Yowza!

Actually, this is good. I can talk about my blog. I started this blog to talk about what it is like to travel to Europe with Malcolm and Amy. Then, I wrote long posts about funny things that happened to us in the world. Now, my blog posts are shorter (yay!) but occur more often (boo!).  They usually have a specious link to reality and reveal a shocking lack of taste. I try to also show lots of pictures of Malcolm.

I write this blog because I enjoy trying to make people laugh. If you have ever met me, you can undoubtedly tell a story or two about how I have removed my pants at an inappropriate setting or taken a conversation so far outside the bounds of polite society that you cringe and laugh at the same time (Linging? Craughing?) I am a ham, and this blog allows me to ham it up. I am forever grateful that Amy lets me do this instead of clean the house or learn how to cook meatballs. Plus, I writing about the pain of child rearing is cathartic. I don’t really know what that means, I just want you all to be impressed that I know how to use fancy words (like craughing!).

That’s where you all come in. You brighten my day when you tell Amy or I that you enjoy reading this. I love waking up in the morning and a) I don’t find any Vietnamese men around and b) I find reader comments on the blog. Comments on a blog are like applause after an ice skating routine. I don’t watch ice skating, but I imagine it would be pretty embarrassing to finish your magical routine only to have an entire arena sit on their hands. A comment tells me that you’re reading and that you might be coming back tomorrow. I really do appreciate them.

So, here’s what I want you to do. If you like the post, leave a comment. It obviously won’t be as witty as the stuff I write, but that’s OK. I am quite clever. You can tell me what you ate for breakfast. You can tell me what book you are reading. You can tell me that you find me oddly attractive, like if you put Tom Selleck’s head on a corn dog. You don’t even have to introduce it, just write things like “Biscuit, or Catcher in the Rye.” Sharing is caring, and I would love to hear from the people who read this. I guarantee that if you leave a comment with a totally useless piece of information in it, I will smile. If you are so inclined, you could also become my fan on Facebook, the button should be on the right of this page. Then we can share irrelevant information on multiple platforms.

Lastly, tell a friend.  I don’t know where this thing is going, but I could get their faster if everyone in the world read my blog. Actually, you know that place in the world where all the people are doing all that suffering? It would all end if they just tuned in to bigdaddypaul.com. The only way to save them is to get the word out. Thanks everyone! And now, without further ado:

Look at dem ham hocks!

Look at dem ham hocks!

Who Are The People In My Neighborhood?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

This post is the written version of the Sesame Street bit where they talk to all of the different people around the block. Instead of interviewing the people and being sweet, I am going to be sarcastic and talk trash. Call it Sesame Street for bitter stay at home parents.

I like the Butcher Lady at the Grocery store. She is super cute and really into Malcolm and I. Every time we see her, we are met with a steady stream of  free slices of ham and salami. Actually, she could be a super mean troll, but as long as we would be met with a steady stream of free salami and ham, we would like her. When Malcolm is not with me, she asks about him. She brings a little ray of sunshine to the world of cured meats.

I believe that the coolest guy in the world is our garbage man. I am not sure that I have ever talked to him, but we converse like old school chums through a complex system of winks and nods. We greet each other on Thursdays with a big smile and Malcolm totally enjoys watching him work. Things are so tight between us that he gives me special privileges. Sometimes, I am late getting the garbage cans out, and he actually comes back for them. He also lets me dump dead bodies in the back of the garbage truck.  I would like to try and strike up a conversation with him one of these days, but the noise from the truck is deafening and his ride smells like shit.

I am creeped out by the manager at the bank. He is a really friendly guy, but has one quirk so amazingly weird that I fixate on it. He fingers are extremely long and way to0 knuckly. It’s as if he has three extra joints in each finger and each knuckle points the digit in a new and unexpected direction. I can’t imagine how hard it is to control those things, it must be like orchestrating a fistful of old churros. I had to watch him write out a loan application once, and I nearly threw up. He asks about Malcolm and Amy whenever we meet and we sometimes chat about the economy. While doing this, all I can think is, “Show me your fangled claws! Whip ’em out and scratch someone in the face!!!”

The one person I am on the fence about is our Mail lady. We have a bit of a checkered past. When we first moved into our house we began noticing that someone was leaving plastics bags in our gutter. A closer examination revealed that the bags were filled with urine. At least I thought they were filled with urine, I did not actually smell or taste the liquid for verification.

Artists re-creation of the trucker bomb

We noticed a steady stream of peebags for a while when I arrived home one day and found the mail lady sitting in her truck speaking on her cell phone. Right by the door of her truck was another trucker bomb, perfectly aligned with the open window. It appeared that she had been peeing into a plastic bag and then tossing the bag out her window before leaving. I am not sure if she peed in front of our house or did it on the route and just saved the bag for us, although I can’t tell which option I prefer. So why am I on the fence? It has been a few years since we have been peebagged, and it’s like we have reached a sort of detente. It’s like the old adage goes, “A postal delivery worker who pees in a bush is worth more than two who pee in a bag and ditch that bag in front of your house.” I’m not sure who said it, but it’s pretty famous.

So, those are the people in my hood. Who are your people?

How I Roll

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork, Uncategorized

I went biking again today. Between the holidays and all the rain in the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to head out for a while. Determined to not the mistakes I have made in the past, I set out for some fun in the sun. My plans were almost shanghaied when my bike had two flat tires and I couldn’t find the tire pump. I knew it was in the garage but our garage looks like the inside of my colon, except with more spiderwebs. After poking around for 45 minutes, I found the pump, pumped up the tires, and decided that cleaning our garage was way overdue. (I remain blissfully ignorant about the ramifications of my colon being in its current shape.)

I started in a bit of a deficit when I noticed that I had grabbed Amy’s biking gloves for my outing. Since they are only partially frilly, I didn’t care all that much. I did feel just a tad extra pretty knowing that I was wearing ladies accessories. When I finally got out there, I had a great time!

An otherwise nice day

An otherwise nice day

My Ipod expertly selected my favorite songs  (which sadly include selections from Twisted Sister, 2 Live Crew, and Erasure) while I nimbly navigated between the hordes of walkers that were enjoying the nice morning. I got a great workout, and knew so because I, for some reason, feel like I need to spit when working hard, and I spit many times during the ride. I also didn’t have to get off the bike and walk up any hills, so the outing was almost a complete success.

Almost is a pretty big word though for me, and I had another one of my moments. Blazing away around a turn singing (out loud) Weird Al’s opus to Star Wars, I encountered two women walking in the path. I announced my intention to pass on the left, but for some reason one of the women hopped right in front of me. Being a bit rusty, I jammed on the front brake. This had the foreseeable consequence of causing me to do a reverse wheelie and ended up ejecting me over the handle bars. I landed with the soft thud a pork shoulder makes when thrown onto the scale at the butcher, but managed to avoid any serious injury. Anxious to prove that I wasn’t hurt, I hopped right back up, looking at my legs to see if there was any residual damage. At precisely this moment, I realized that my fly was down (as it oft is) and immediately took corrective action. I also noticed the numerous trails of spit that had been collecting on my shoulder. I looked at them, they looked at me, and one of them asked if I was alright. I quickly hopped back on my bike, apologized for some reason, and then sped off. I was a tad irked afterwards, but smiled when I considered the story the two women would be relating to their friends:

A chubby cross dresser came barreling around a corner singing about Queen Amidala, screamed, “ON YOUR LEFT!” and then jumped over his handlebars. Then, he stood up looking like a confused monkey, zipped his fly, wiped his mouth on his shirt, grunted, “I’m sorry” and sped away. It was honestly the first time it had ever happened to me.

I think I am going to choose a new path next time I ride. Or maybe I’ll just find something to do that is less embarrassing.

Paul’s Rules For Children’s Birthday Parties

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork, Uncategorized

We attended two children’s birthday parties this weekend. This is still novel for us as a) we don’t know that many children, and b) parents of the children we do know don’t like me all that much. I hear horror stories of parents in a seemingly endless loop of birthday parties, often leaving one to go to another. With so many parties to attend, I thought it a good idea to provide some do’s and don’ts for kids parties.

DO have a drink if one is offered to you. DO NOT become the drunkest person at the party. If your significant other has to stop you from hitting on the other moms and dads at the party, you’ve had too much. Stay one drink behind the host and you’ll be OK.

DO make sure to play with the kids at the party. DO NOT try to scare them. Frightened children evacuate their bowels and cry, and neither is appropriate for this type of party. Peek-a-boo and keep away are acceptable. Chasing kids with a kitchen knife is not.

DO make polite conversation with the other adults at the party. DO NOT try to conduct business. If you hand me your business card at a four-year-old’s birthday party, I am going to wipe my kid’s nose with it. Don’t tell me about your exciting business idea and I won’t chase your kid around with a knife. That is the deal.

DO NOT tell the parents of the birthday child what you actually think about them. DO say something remotely positive which is mostly true. It’s their day to shine. Don’t fuck it up with the truth.

DO NOT stop your kid from tackling the birthday boy. DO make sure that the birthday boy is cool with it. IMG_2697

DO NOT ever find yourself using the following words during a conversation: “My Nipples. Colonoscopy. Misunderstood Nazi.” You’ll regret it. DO try and use the following action verbs: “Well bred. Hornswoggle. Britches.” OK, some of those aren’t action verbs, but so what? That reminds me: DO NOT correct people’s grammar. Remember, I’ve got a knife and I know how to use it. Leave me be.

Picking The School Scab

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Rotorua - paul at government gardens 2Are you the type of person that enjoys picking their scabs? Do you sniff your fingers after pumping gas? If someone says to you, “this tastes terrible, try it!” do you try it, or push the spoon away? I am a glutton for punishment, so I do all these things. (I also pay a squat German woman to bind my feet and call me Mulan while hurling dumplings at me, but don’t tell Amy that or she will think I am weird.)

I am currently torturing myself over the thicket that is Malcolm’s future education. Just when I make headway towards a decision, I reverse course 180 degrees. I then get overwhelmed and do jello shots to try and make the pounding in my brain disappear. I then repeat the whole process over the next day, and the vicious cycle continues.

We are currently attempting to decide between a montessori elementary school program and our local public school. No decision I have ever made with Malcolm seems as as important as this one, save my decision to let Malcolm watch Jerry Springer and have his vocabulary limited to, “You aint the boss of me!” As such, I keep mulling the decision in my head over and over again without ever really getting anywhere. Considering the enormousness of my midsection, you’d think that I would have a gut feeling leading me down one of the paths. I don’t. The only path my gut leads me to is the path to salami.

I hope that we will continue to weigh the prospective pros and cons and that we will make a conscientious decision with Malcolm’s best interests in mind. I also hope that day comes soon, because I am tired of the debate I have with myself over it. Sadly, I have a sneaky suspicion that I’ll miss a deadline and that Malcolm will get stuck going to a school operated by a guy with two left shoes who operates out of a leisure van. I guess it won’t be all that bad, because the man will probably ask Malcolm many times to smell his fingers and some of those times, his fingers will smell of gasoline.

My 12 Days of Christmas

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Forgive me, readers, for I have been conspicuously absent this holiday season.  Wanna hear why?

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a boy who longer naps.  True, he is a grumpy asshole most of the time, but you gotta embrace each step kids make in their development.

Day 2: Two sets of grandparents.  Between the hacking coughs and the mountain of pills lying around the house, you’d think we operated a pharmacy.  We like our parents, but after five days straight of them, we resorted to a Catholic baptism to get out of the house by ourselves.

The next day we got three cups of coffee.  I used to only need 2 cups of coffee per day, but since I am going to bed late, waking up early, and running around crazily all day, I have had to step up my caffeine consumption.  I gotta believe that coffee is better for you than crack, though.

IMG_2582The next day we got four racks of lamb.  I like to both cook and eat, and I made some lamb chops that would make vegetarians think about switching teams.  I ate seven. Seven.

The next day we got five new printer cartridges.  I needed them because I had attempted to use cheap printer ink, and when I printed out our Christmas newsletter it looked like something Malcolm drew with crayons. Sorry our Christmas cards are late this year everyone. I like to make other procrastinators feel good about themselves.

On the sixth day of Christmas, we saw the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir sing on Christmas Eve at Slims in the city. They were amazing, and if you ever have the chance to see them, take that chance.  They are amazing and will inspire you to whatever it is that you need inspiration to do.

I had seven drinks on the next day of Christmas.  At least I think it was seven, it may have been more. Our friends, Marj and Tracy, throw a eve Christmas  eve bash every year, where we drink too much good wine, sing poorly and loudly, and eat some tasty food.  Thanks for the awesome tradition!

I followed this up with eight dishes at dinner at Christmas Eve.  As advertised, we went to Chinese food.  Mu shu, walnut prawns, fried rice, and best of all, wonton soup.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: nine stores on Christmas Eve morning. I waited an awfully long time this year to buy most of the presents on my list.  I knew what I wanted, and made it happen in a pretty efficient manner.  Wrapping them up the next morning was a bit painful though.

We got Malcolm ten presents. He has already stopped playing with them, and runs around the house with two old matchbox cars pretending their are his brothers and sisters.  Next year, he is getting a package of socks on the 25th.

The next day, it took eleven hours to open presents on Christmas morning.

IMG_2579It seemed like it anyways. We have very generous parents, who spend a lot of time and effort picking us up knick knacks on their journeys. When we finally finished opening our gifts, I couldn’t remember a single thing I had gotten.

Except for one thing.  The sweet new Macbook Pro Amy got me for Christmas.  It replaces the PC that took about 12 hours to do anything on.  This bad boy turns on in three seconds, has amazing graphics, and currently sleeps in the bed with me.  I love it, and it will show.  My blogs are gonna be better, faster and sleeker this year, and you can thank Amy for that.

To all of you out there, thanks for reading my blog and I hope that the new year brings you peace and prosperity.  Or, at least some decent chinese food.

My Favorite Christmas Traditions

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

The holidays are a special time of year to expand our waistlines, prop up the Chinese economy through the purchase of massive quantities of cheap plastic crap, and pretend that we are not bad people by buying our loved ones “thoughtful” gifts.  Perhaps the best part of the holidays are the fact that we do the same things every year, ensuring a little consistency from one year to the next.  So take a walk down memory lane with me to discover what it is I like about this time:

1. Christmas music.  This is undoubtedly my favorite part of the holidays, and one of my biggest character flaws.

I get a lot of these looks during the holidays

I get a lot of these looks during the holidays

I listen to Christmas music pretty much non-stop throughout December and it drives everyone around me nuts.  Oh, of course I try to be cool and listen to rock and roll versions of the holiday classics, but that thin veneer melts away when you see me belting out “Oh, Holy Night” by Jewel when I’m in the car driving to the store.  This also presents an interesting opportunity to see my singing about God and Jesus, whom I normally don’t reference except in conjunction with the words, “Why have you foresaken me?”  during Raider games.

2. Drunken Christmas.  The one family event I do every year is to go to my Aunt and Uncle’s house in December with my parents, my aunt and uncle and their close friends.  We call it drunken Christmas because we have typically consumed a couple glasses of champagne and a vodka gimlet/manhattan or three within 30 minutes of walking in the door.  After we are good and lubricated, we make inappropriate sexual references about one another and then sit down for a full turkey dinner.  All this drinking is dangerous, as people have passed out at the dinner table, locked themselves in the bathroom for hours to throw up, and, one year, we had to call my dad an ambulance after he fell and hit his head in the driveway after falling asleep in the car.  It’s dangerous alright, but like eating at a buffet, the danger is part of the allure.

3. Holiday Movies.  Everyone has their favorites and I am no different.  Right now, I am partial to Love Actually, and watch it every year, usually with fresh snickerdoodles straight from the oven.  I will usually get roped into A Christmas Story once, and when Amy is not around I will look for Scrooged. Amy and I watched Bad Santa one year, but there is a scene in it where the mom in the Gilmore Girls has risque sex with Santa Claus.  Amy loves the Gilmore Girls and won’t watch it for that reason, but I am pretty sure that she doesn’t know about the copy I have hidden in my sock drawer. Please don’t tell her.

4. Won Ton Soup on Christmas Eve.  My dad used to be a minister, so Christmas eve was pretty booked.  We did, however, carve out some family time by enjoying a quick meal at a local Chinese restaurant, one of the few non-fast food places open on holidays. Nothing cheesy, no groups of waiters singing “deck the halls with bows of horry, fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra.”  Just a time for all of us to be together and have my dad lecture us on the perils of peeking at our Christmas presents.  I still crave won ton soup on Christmas eve, and this year we are heading to Chinatown in SF to all share a bowl of soup together.

5. Stressing about New Year’s Eve.  The only thing that separates Amy and I from the depth of lameness is my desire to actually be awake at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  She doesn’t share my obsession to differentiate ourselves from our parents (who are all asleep when the new year presents itself), so I have to fight the battle on two fronts.  I have to find something for us to do every year, and then convince Amy that it is actually worth doing.  Usually the plans fall pretty flat, involving the words “Trivial Pursuit” and “It’s only Ten O’Clock?”  I am supremely jealous of friends that have established plans during the New Year’s Eve, and even more outraged that they keep denying my requests to join them. (If you are out there and reading this, please invite me to your New Year’s Eve party.  I’ll bring the Christmas music, and chances are pretty slim that you’ll need to call an ambulance for me at the end of the night.  Who could ask for more?!)

That’s us, what do you do for the holidays?

Give Til It Hurts (Somebody’s Feelings)

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

We adopted a family this year, and this means I have been out shopping for them this week.  I say this, not to brag about what a great person I am, but to explain what I was doing in the little girls bra and panties section in Target, in case any of you saw me there. Armed with a wish list, a credit card that was declined not once, but twice due to the flurry of activity and holiday good cheer, I set out to make someone’s Christmas just a wee bit better.

Shopping is challenging for me because I am alone.  While it is nice to have fellow holiday shoppers out there with me, they tend to smell of beef log and don’t seem to care all that much about my fantasy football team, both of which make them undesirable to talk to (or even stand next to in line.)  To mitigate my feelings of loneliness, I found myself having an internal dialogue with the people I was out shopping for.  The conversations were interesting because I have never met them and know little of them except for their wish list.  Of course, since they weren’t actually present for the conversation, I felt free to be as mean and condescending as I possible.  Here are a few excerpts:

“Wow, the only sweatshirt they have in XXL, Michael, is black.  It’s too bad, because the other [smaller] sweatshirts are way cooler.  Maybe if you didn’t eat at McDonald’s so much you wouldn’t be so fat and you could look cooler.”

“Chris Brown, Esmerelda. Really?  He beat up his girlfriend!  Why not listen to someone a little more wholesome?  Paul Simon.  There you go, I think he is battery-free! Oh, this is going to a very special Christmas indeed!”

“Darryl, you asked for a XBox 360?  I don’t even have one!  Next year set your sights on something more realistic.  This year, to punish you, I buying you a My Little Pony.”

“Sorry, Daniel, I just can’t buy underpants for another man.  I don’t want you thinking of me every time you put them on.  Please enjoy this modest gift card.”

“You’re a 5T at one year old?  God I hope your mom filled out the form wrong, because if not, you are the be the biggest baby in the whole wide world.  Somebody call the Today Show!”

And so it went, me walking around the store shopping for toys for boys and girls, tool sets for dad, and trying to find clothes for the infant version of King Kong Bundy.  It was a long day, but enjoyable nonetheless.  I even brought Malcolm along for 3 hours of shopping to teach him the true meaning of the holidays. To his credit, he learned to not give people what they want, but rather what you think the should want.  He learned to accept people for who they are, but criticize them endlessly when they are not around.  Perhaps the most important lesson of all, he learned to avoid people who smell like beef log.  And that, my friends, is what the holidays are all about.

The Ultimate Gifts For The Man In Your Life

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Paul Saying of CoursePeople are always asking me, “Paul, what’s the perfect gift to get the man in my life?” so I thought I would share some insights on how to make holiday gift giving a special and rewarding time.  (Actually, I get the questions, “Paul, when was the last time you showered?” or “Where is your son?” more often, but considering it’s the holiday season, this post seems more timely.)

1. A bowling ball.  Oh, we may not be clamoring for one, but trust me, you will enjoy seeing his eyes light up if you give your man a bowling ball this year.  Why?  A bowling ball will give guys an excuse to go and drink beer with their friends.  That is truly the gift that keeps on giving.  The beauty of the bowling ball is that it allows us to claim that we are going out to play a “sport” (when in reality we are just going out drinking beer with our friends.)  You will score extra points if you get the bowling ball engraved with a ultra macho nickname like “The Whammer” or “Strike Monkey,” but under no circumstances should the word, “Pinhead” appear on that ball.

2. Tee Shirts.  Men are essentially large children and we enjoy nothing more than to look like a kid by wearing a tee shirt.  Be careful though, because the wrong tee shirt is as useful to a guy as a sweater vest.  Avoid anything with kittens or ponies on them, or better yet, avoid all animals unless the point of the tee shirt is to express an undying love of eating that animal. Right now, tee shirts that say they hate things are all the rage, so anything that expresses a hatred of Crocs, Los Angeles or Bob Costas would work well.  Also popular right now, shirts that make fun of handicaps: “Dyslexics Have More Nuf.”  Be forewarned, though; if you buy your man a shirt that says,” I’m with stupid” and he wears it out with you, you will look very, very bad.

3. Awesome Perfume.  You may have to work with a chemist on this one, but I am going to let you in on a little secret here: men don’t like the smell of flowers.  If you want the man in your life to really snuggle up to you, attract him with the scent of something he craves.  Like sunflower seeds.  Alcohol would also work nicely, and since men are all idiots, he will probably think that licking your neck will make him drunk.  You can’t honestly tell me that you wouldn’t want your man licking your neck to get drunk off the scent of margarita, can you? Of course, if you want to do something truly special this year, bask yourself in the smell of bacon.  He will never leave your side!  Of course, if he has just returned home from bowling while wearing an,”I’m With Stupid” shirt, you may not want him that close.

Whoops, Sorry I Ruined Christmas (And Catholicism)

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

New Year 016I often say the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Usually, I blame this on booze, but my lack of an appropriate filter extends also to saying things in front of kids that I should not.  I am sure that you all have done this too, but Tuesday, I laid a pretty nice whopper.

I was hanging out with a few of my fellow stay at home parents the other night.  We began talking about religion and the extent to which we grew up religious versus what we are teaching our kids.  With the kids sitting around us at the dinner table, I recounted a story about a friend of mine who has put his kid in a religious preschool, but then told the kid, “You know that Jesus is made up just like Santa Claus, right?”  The eyes of both of my friends bulged out immediately and I thought, “Wow, they are really freaking out about my friend.”  When one of the moms said, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” it downed on me that I had just told the kids that Jesus and Santa Claus were make believe. Shit!  I had no idea why I thought it was OK to tell this story in front of the kids, but there my story sat, like a giant matza ball, creating a black hole in the room.  I quickly looked around the table and saw that the kids were pretty into their dinner, and suavely changed the subject to something way less damaging, (something about the abortion amendment in the new health care bill.)  I am going to have to start watching what I say more.

Never, Ever Let Us Babysit Your Faberge Egg

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

IMG_2457Our lives are pretty good.  We live in a nice little neighborhood, with our nice little boy.  We drive around in our nice little cars, and have nice phones.  We are surrounded by nice things, but they rarely seem to stay nice.  Why is it, you ask?  Because Amy and I fuck shit up.  All the time.  We are the ying to nice thing yang.  We’re the bull in the glass shop, just waiting for the time to be right, when we can bring the whole house down.  I am not sure why we do this, but, after countless episodes of us ruining perfectly good things in our life, I have given up feeling bad when it happens. Here are a few of the more significant fuck ups.

Most recently, I got into a fender bender.  On the way home from my stay at home dad’s playgroup, the car in front of me locked up its brakes and hit the car in front of it.  I was unable to stop in time, and hit the car in front of me. The car behind me hit me, shoving me farther into the car in front.  I thought that it was a bit of cosmetic damage, but an $8,000 repair job later finally restored our car to its original front bumper lustre.  Except that Amy, decided to one up me by hitting a column in a parking garage one week after we got the car back from the shop.  So much for that brand new bumper!  She, in fact, one upped herself as she ripped off the rear view mirror of the car while backing out of our driveway two whole days after we bought the thing.  Our car, not so nice.

Our brand new home has also taken a beating. We remodeled our house not four years ago, and it already shows like a run down piece of crap.  You can’t read the clock on the oven, because I made nachos once and they caught on fire while under the broiler.  I opened the oven door and flames jumped out and licked the console, thus blurring the clock.  After putting out the fire, I made another plate of nachos, and bam, those caught on fire too, burning the instrumentation even worse. The only thing worse than having to extinguish a plate of flaming nachos by throwing them into the sink is having to do it twice in succession. I could go on and explain why the ceiling of our kitchen is stained with wine, or why I choose not to fix the leak on the rear door, but it really doesn’t matter.  Our house, not so nice.

All this has me worried about how Malcolm is going to turn out.  For the most part, we have ruined every nice thing we have ever had.  Think I am lying?  Ask Amy where her wedding ring is.  When you do, she will probably inform you that I have lost three, count them three, wedding rings, and that yours truly doesn’t even wear one anymore because I can’t seem to hang on to the darn things.  As for Malcolm, here is already showing signs of wear.  (He threw my Iphone in the tiolet!)  I can only hope that as he gets older, the teachers in his life will set him off on the right path and that we won’t fuck him up as much as we do the cars and clocks and doors and ceilings in our life.

Airline Movie Etiquette

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

While visiting Tunzel and Matt, I was treated to quite a rare luxury on the airplane. Before you go jumping to conclusions about a hot stewardess and an unlimited stash of peanuts, let me tell you that my tastes are pretty simple: free time.  Being a stay at home parent brings a seemingly endless array of tasks that should get done during the day.  An airplane ride, however, forces you to do nothing, and I relish every moment of it.

I decided that I would borrow Malcolm’s portable movie player and watch some movies on the 5-6 hour flight to and from Boston.  The question then became, what should I watch?  Sadly, I cannot just pick a movie that I want to see, there are a number of issues that I am forced to confront.

#1 – No dirty movies.  On a recent flight the guy next to me watched what appeared to be “On Golden Blonde,” except that Ed Norton was in it.  Satisfied that the appearance of a legitimate actor made the movie “Art” and not “Porn” I occasionally glanced over at the large computer screen next to me while pretending to read my book.  This worked out extremely well, until the woman on my left looked at me (intently gazing at what appeared to be the “cowgirl” position), then looked at the computer screen to my right, and made a frowny face.  Caught in a classic “Sophie’s choice,” I had to choose between watching “Sophie” and Ed Norton make friendly or reading my book.  I lacked the personal restraint to avoid eye contact with Sophie, and after seeing the scorn on the face of the woman to my left, I vowed that I would never put anyone in the difficult situation of risking public scorn because they cannot avert their eyes from dirty movies.

#2- No tear jerkers.  The second hurdle I had to overcome is my penchant for crying on the airplane.  Mostly due to excessive consumption of white russians and weird little bottles of wine, I have cried during the following movies: My Giant, Jerry McGuire, and (I am pretty sure that no one has ever cried to this before) Mulan 2.  Having been laughed at by high school girls, burly Texans, and my own wife, I wanted to steer clear of anything that could possibly tug on my heart strings, which, I guess, become even stringier at 30,000 feet.

#3- Cool movies only.  I wanted my movie selections to emote some coolness on my part.  Believe me, I am not cool, but everyone doesn’t need to know this right away.

This is why I need help for people to think I am cool

This is why I need help for people to think I am cool

I figure that if I watch cool movies people around me will think that the aroma around me is “hipness” and not “Funion breath.”  I also think that the right choice in movies could even bring closer to my ultimate dream of getting into a bathroom with a hot stewardess and an unlimited amount of peanuts.

So, the first movie I watched was Two Towers, the second movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I followed that up with Return of the King, the final Lord of the Rings movie.  These movies had the benefit of being extremely long, which was good, but also had the unintended consequence of making me look like a total nerd.  Since I was not consuming white russians, I kept my crying down to a few sniffles surrounding the consuming but unspeakable love between elf and dwarf.  Even those were a little too much for the guy next to me, who just shook his head at me.

On the way home, I watched Rendition, a movie about our country’s policy of abducting suspected terrorists, taking them abroad and torturing them to get information from them.  I didn’t really know what the movie was about, but I think I prefer racy Ed Norton scenes to a naked man being choked and electrocuted. I followed this up with Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part 1, but immediately turned it off when the first scene of the movie depicted 10 ape men masturbating wildly.  I caught a break when the airline movie was the Will Ferrell movie Land of the Lost, followed by episodes of The Office and 30 Rock.  I put my computer away, saddened by the fact that not a single person would think I am cool, that people still laugh at me for crying at silly times, and that hot stewardess with unlimited peanuts have been replaced by flight attendants selling cheese platters.  Still, a kid’s gotta dream eh?

Don’t Ever Do This With A Habanero

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I love hot sauce.  My favorite food in the whole wide world is a taco from a taco truck in Bakersfield, drenched in amazing “shit fire” sauce.  I have been working towards coming up with my own version of the hot sauce for a while, but today, that search ended.

I roasted some tomatillos, onions and a lone habanero under the broiler for a few moments to try today’s recipe.  In order to get them ready, I cut sliced the tomatillos and onion, and cut open the habanero to remove the seeds.  This, of course, required me to touch the habanero with my fingers.  I dropped the ingredients off into the oven, and then went to go use the bathroom.  Afterwards, as I was washing my hands, 30 seconds late, in retrospect, I began to feel a very painful burning sensation in my neenee.  (I get a lot of visitors on my blog looking for adult content given that my title contains the words “Big Daddy,” so I will tell this story using children’s names for the male reproductive organ.  That way, no perverts will stumble their way on to my site accidentally.  I want the perverts here for the content on purpose!)

So, my neenee was burning.  Before you jump to conclusions that my extramarital affairs have somehow left me with nasty diseases, this burning sensation occurred AFTER I zipped up.  The sensation was painful and abrupt, like I had just fallen down naked in a campfire.  I finally realized what had happened (I got habanero juice on my peenee) and the burning was so strong I needed to extinguish it immediately. I dropped trou and got on Malcolm ‘s stepstool to lift myself into position over the sink and then flooded the area with the water from the faucet.  Thank god for pullout sprayers!  As I stood with my pants down and my business at eye level for my neighbor’s window and still in pain, I decided that I needed a new approach.

As it now felt like I had glued hot charcoals to my winky, I sprinted upstairs and attempted to use some lotion to extinguish the pain.  This didn’t work, and I kept hopping around the house muffling my screams.  I rifled through the medicine cabinet and found some medicated menthol powder, which I liberally applied to the affected area.  This seemed to make things worse, and my weewee tried to recoil in agony back into my body cavity; the powder caked thing looked like  a sad little gnocchi.

I finally removed the remainder of my clothes hopped into the shower, and then screamed loudly when hot water touched the burn zone.  I am not sure hot water made things worse, but at the very least it gave the gnocchi some form again, like re-hydrating some mushrooms.  I applied soap liberally with cold water and that seemed to stem the tide, although I could still feel the effects an hour later.  I took some ibuprofen, and I am thinking about a shot or two of Jaeger to deal with the after effects.  Needless to say, everything in the oven was burned to a crisp.

People, if you work with habaneros, please use gloves.  If you don’t use gloves, carefully wash you hands after touching the peppers.  I won’t worry about this stuff, because I will never, ever use habaneros again.  There is a good chance I won’t ever use my neenee again, but I’m hoping that time heals all.

The Pickle in the Jar of Pearl Onions

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I am going to Reno this weekend.  My friend, Derek, is an avid University of Missouri fan, and I, along with some of his other friends, are going up to watch the Tigers play the University of Nevada, Reno at football.  This sounds like a perfect opportunity to blow off steam with a weekend with the boys, but I am a bit worried.

The guys I am going with are quite successful in the business world.  They are all upper level executives at successful companies, with nice houses and cars that probably don’t smell like old sandwiches.  They wear clean clothes, shower every day, and are polite to one another.  That is what has me worried. 
When I go to Reno with my normal crew, I tend to get just a tad out of control.  When there, you will normally find me with a beer in my dirty little hands, a cigarette dangling out of my mouth, and I am constantly making up reasons to take the next shot.  And that is all before breakfast.  I like to yell at the dealers, do squats around the tables, and if you see me order food that doesn’t start with “chicken fried” then something is wrong.  One time, I got an entire blackjack table to rub their nipples every time the dealer busted.  I am concerned that I will not be able to control the beast within, and the others will have to ask Derek, “Why is your friend doing shots at the bar with that old Chinese woman?”  It’s gonna be tough.

The other potential pratfall will be the blackjack tables.  The tables, along with AC Transit buses, are one of the last few places where you can see democracy in action.  When sitting at the tables for hours with random strangers, you tend to talk about who you are and what you do.  I can foresee going around the table with everyone else talking about their impressive responsibilities and the movers and shakers they have in their contact list.  And then all eyes will fall on me.  Being a stay at home dad is great, but it is not the kind of awe inspiring profession that lends itself to impressing the general public.  In anticipation of the blank stares that I normally get, I will tell people, “I’m in derivatives.”  If forced to, I will eventually disclose that this means that I wipe Malcolm’s constantly running nose and that I sponge off of my wife, but I am hoping that I won’t have to.

I am going to approach the weekend like this: I am going to ignore my initial inclination.  I will not be going to the strip club with a bag of cocaine and $1,000.  I will think about it more closely and go to dinner with the boys.  My pants and shirt will stay on at all times in the casino.  I will channel my proclivity for taking off my clothes by simply leaving my fly unzipped.  If someone makes fun of me for being a stay at home parent, I will buy them a drink instead of spilling one on them.  It’s gonna be hard, because when I start drinking, it takes me approximately 1 second between when I think of something and when I start doing it.  Wich me luck!

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Malcolm is a spirited little boy, and, if left to his own devices, he would spend his entire day eating chocolate, hitting people with bats, and calling me a “stupid noodle head.”  To combat his tendencies, we have a variety of rules.  image If he violates the rules, he gets in trouble, ranging from going to his room to not getting to watch his favorite TV show, Little Bear.  He is a habitual rule violator, and suffers the consequences every time he does.

I think I know where he gets it from, because today, at my stay at home dad’s group, I broke a lot of rules.  The first rule we broke was the rule, announced by a large number of large signs around, that no alcohol was allowed at the park.  We get this now and again at parks that do not want large groups of men sitting around drinking beer all day.  Somehow, we have it in our heads that the people that made these rules would see things differently if the large groups of men sitting around drinking beer all day had kids with them.  So, we ignore the rule, and are prepared to argue that many sections of Oakland’s Municipal Code do not apply to stay-at-home dads.  Besides, the alternative to us sitting around drinking beer is for us to sit around and talk about our feelings, and goodness knows that is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

The second rule I broke was eating polish sausages that were past their expiration date.  I question any expiration date for hot dogs, as, in my humble opinion, lips and assholes will never go bad.  Also, the package said that they were “best by” September 5, and we cautiously accepted the fact that we were eating sausages that were not at their best.  When I say “we,” I mean me and one other guy, as the rest of the group was sensible enough to stick to food that was not considered rotten by the rest of the world.  (The other guy, Darren, and I decided to call each other tonight to check up on each other to make sure that we had not been done in by the spoiled weenies.)

The last rule I broke was self-imposed.  I ate some chips.  I am getting kind of chubby, so I have laid a rule down (for myself) to not eat any chips.  In the past few months, every picture that I am in looks like I am carrying Malcolm’s unborn sibling, so I am trying to stick to fruit at dad’s group.  This is quite difficult, for, if you haven’t noticed, potato chips look quite tasty.  Today, after a couple handfuls of cantaloupe and watermelon, I began cramming potato chips down my piehole like they were going out of style.  I stopped the chip parade only when the spoiled polish sausages came off the grill.  (I don’t think that I am any better off for it, but at least I didn’t put the chips in the bun with the weenie.)  I am anticipating that pictures for the next few weeks will look like we are having twins.

The question is, what punishment do I deserve?  I decided to give myself the punishment that Malcolm always gets.  I am not going to watch Little Bear today.  I don’t really mind, though; Monday Night Football is on tonight.  Now, the question is what to do with all those leftover polish sausages…

Paully Want a Touchdown

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

We went to a party on Saturday Night for a friend of Amy’s from work.  (In my efforts to demonstrate that not all the parties we go to anymore involve a child and their birthday, I have been calling it an "Adult Party" but somehow that description has seemed a little too kinky.  I think that I should just call it a 40th birthday party and let people think what they will about it.)  The party had a "Dress Up As Your Favorite Celebrity" theme and Amy went as Angelina Jolie, while I was costumed as a fat Brad Pitt. We didn’t do quite as much leg work on the costumes as we should have, as Amy’s tattoos paled in comparison to the other Angelina Jolie in attendance.  Needless to say, I was the fattest Brad Pitt there though, so that was nice.

At the party, Vivian, the newly crowned 40 year old who looked like she was in her twenties, was resplendently dressed as Audrey Hepburn. Her dog, either Marco or Polo, I cannot remember which, saw the great opportunity use the occasion to eat lots of people food.  He sidled up next to everyone eating the amazing food that Tam, Vivian’s husband and ridiculously talented chef, prepared for the event.  The dog never lunged, but would just sit next to the eater and keep both eyes on the food, hoping that one or two bites would accidentally fall to the ground.  The persistent and desperate look in the dog’s eye seemed to indicate that the dog’s soul desire in life was to get some of that food, as if the dog was always thinking, "Can I have some food? Can I have some food? Can I have some food?"  I felt kind of sorry for the dog, as it was never able to enjoy the party.  It just kept finding people who were wolfing down the vittles and wondering, "Can I have some food? Can I have some food? Can I have some food?"

So, it came as a great surprise to me when I was perched at a bar the next morning watching my fantasy football team get clobbered, when I realized that I was no better than the Marco/Polo.  I would glance at each of the games that I had a player in and I would think to myself, "Score a touchdown! Score a touchdown! Score a touchdown!" I had totally lost the ability to enjoy the game, I would just focus on my individuals and beg for them to make a big play.  It’s going to be a long year, and I will find myself in the same spot making the same desperate request, "Score a damn touchdown already!"  Maybe I am a dog after all, or maybe I am way too into fantasy football.  Either way, I figure at the very least that I am not attending kinky adult parties or, worse yet, children’s birthdays, so that is nice.

Parking Ticket

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Oakland is a strange and wonderful place. The city has found itself in the embarrassing position of not having any more money and, to try and make some, they are going crazy with the parking tickets.  We have received three in the past month, and I had to go to city hall today to demonstrate that my front license plate had been replaced.  Yes, I got a $80 parking ticket for not having my front license plate. Seriously. Those of you who wonder where the license plate went should ask Amy how closely she pays attention to the car in front of her when she is getting on the freeway.

So, with a shiny new license plate and a signature from a cop who swears that the license plate was there, I headed into downtown Oakland to prove that I had fixed my ticket and, in the process, saved $70 off the tab.  I noticed that I take a couple of shortcuts in life when I was walking to city hall.  The first thing I noticed was the carrying vessel I used for my coffee.  Unable to locate my state-of-the-art thermal coffee mug (in the last month) I have resorted to using Malkie’s sippy cup to schlep my coffee around.  I also noticed that I took the shortcuts of not combing my hair and not zipping my fly. So, today, the residents of downtown Oakland were treated to the sight of a messy haired man with an unzipped fly taking hits off of a bright orange sippy cup.  I was, for all intents and purposed, a very large child walking around without parent. Of course, I didn’t notice any of the above until I walked past some people whereby I realized how much I have let myself go.  I need to make some major life changes.

My sense of innocent ignorance stayed with me when I reached the parking office.  When I arrived, there was a group of people sitting in the chairs waiting for their turn.  I walked in and wanted to say, “Hi there everybody!  It’s real nice to meet ya!”, but the angry look in their eyes told me that their response would have been for me to “Shut the fuck up!”  One woman seemed greatly displeased at having received a ticket, and was yelling at the poor counter worker.  At one point she slammed her fist against the counter to show her rage against the injustice, and when that failed to elicit the dismissal she desired, she stormed out of the room.  I secretly believed that she was going to lose, as anyone dumb enough to yell at the counter person at a city office is probably parking in the wrong spot.

I sat their listening to everyone’s sad stories about emergency trips to the store, out of control employees and children who had stolen the car. Over and over I heard the pleas for mercy, and when none came, outrage and defiance.  I wanted to get worked up, but I was beating my phone at scrabble, so I was in a pretty good mood.  When my number got called, I fixed my ticket and walked out of there with a clean parking bill of health.  Now, I just need to work on my appearance.

Why Our House Smells Like Cat Shit, Again

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Well, its happened again. Previously, I told you about the cats and other animals breaking into our house to use it as their own personal boudoir.  The good news is that the cats aren’t breaking into our house anymore.  So why does our house still smell like shit?

It’s wafting in from outside.  We keep our windows open, and there are a lot of them.  We do this to circulate Malcolm and I’s various odors.  Thank god Amy smells like a Cinnabon, or our house would be condemned.  However, the very thing that we rely on to give our house the level of freshness that it so richly deserves is now its biggest stumbling block.  With the neighbor cats seemingly relegated to peeing and crapping outside our house, they are getting us back by blanketing our immediate surroundings with evidence of their unhappiness.  They go underneath the windows behind our family room.  They go everywhere they can in our back yard (which allows the odor to find its way to our bedroom which overlooks the yard.)  I tried to outsmart the dirty little rascals by putting two large garbage cans/recycling bins underneath our kitchen window, but somehow every neighborhood cat has found a way to take a dump in the 6 inch gap between the two. Now, when I cook, I either have keep reminding myself that dinner won’t smell like turds, or close the windows and sweat up a storm. They even somehow go in the 2 inch strip of dirt next to the driveway fence, which gives a pleasant reminder of who’s in charge every time we get in and out of the car.

Walking anywhere near our house now is reminiscent of touring a waste treatment plant.  Of course, I shoo the little scoundrels away from our house every chance I get, but shooing a cat has all the long term effectiveness of warding off syphilis with a jelly donut. Like the syphilis, the cats will be back .  I really want to buy a BB gun.  I won’t, but I want to.  In the end, I am going to have to go out and clean up after them.  I can’t help but think that there is nothing else in the world that is as unfulfilling as cleaning up after someone else’s cat, even if it is done outside and with a rake.  Our previous idea was to build a giant cat box in a side yard that has no windows near it, but the cats seem to think it too easy, like it’s a trap.  Plus, I think they like to make things hard on us.  Little assholes.      

 

P.S. I like everything about that cartoon except for the expression on the guys face.  Or maybe his arms.  There’s definitely something weird going on with him though.

That Special Time of Year Again

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

You can feel it in the air.  You can sense it in the streets.  Quiet whispers give way to silence.  The sound of crinkling papers can be heard, but upon entry into the room, everything is gone.  You talk to someone, but there is obviously no one home.   Their eyes glaze over, staring off into the distance, and quietly, just below their breath, they give themselves away by saying, “When am I going to pick a quarterback?”

It is fantasy football time again, in case you aren’t aware, fantasy football is the single greatest thing ever.  Sliced bread, don’t need it.  Caffeine, can do without.  If the entry fee for my league were a small, blonde haired boy, Amy and I would be alone again.  (If you think this is sad and pathetic, don’t worry.  I am planning on winning this year, and the likelihood that we would get Malcolm back at the end of the season is pretty good.)  If fantasy football were a large hairball, I would cradle it in my arms and tell it that I love it.  If, god forbid, fantasy football fell into a pit full of urine and shit, I would jump in after it. Smiling. Fantasy football has a hold over me, and I am not alone.

Some people are just not that into fantasy football (or reality football, or any football for that matter).  We have a special word for these people, “wives.”  For a while, I tried to sell the experience to Amy, as if it were some kind of good thing. I would tell her that I was attempting to become a subject matter expert on something and that she should applaud me regardless of what that subject matter is. I told her that is was a good, structured way for me to spend some bonding time with my friends.  I even told her once that I met a little boy in the hospital and his dying wish was for me to draft his favorite tight end in the eighth round.  She didn’t believe any of those, and now I draft a team (or two) and watch the games with my friends, but spend a lot of capital to do it.  (It is so totally worth it.  And to think, George W used his capital on a couple of wars and a crappy ass Medicare prescription drug plan!)

My draft is Sunday.  We are coming home early from a three day weekend to attend it.  I will shortly start losing sleep running scenarios through my head.  Once the season starts, I will leave my wife and son each Sunday to watch games and make fun of the other competitors.  I will lose more sleep thinking about who to trade and chastise myself for drafting certain players and not drafting others.  This will continue for the whole season until the sad, sad day, when my team is eliminated from title contention.  That day, when I come home, Amy will tell Malcolm that “daddy’s back!”  Of course it will be a lot harder for him to take if I have to explain why I had to use him as entry fees into the league, but I am hoping he will be excited nonetheless.

My New Fix

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I have a new drug.  I have been looking for a new one since I spent an evening on someone’s couch rocking myself out of a bad LSD trip by clinging to a special safety blanket.  Alcohol is nice, but, at my age, the day after is getting harder and harder to deal with, especially when you have a three year-old.  Marijuana puts me to sleep, I hate needles and I can’t stand anything in my nose.  No, all those things have something wrong with them. My new drug is perfect and I love it, heart and soul.

My new drug is Ibuprofen.  Oh, soo nice, it makes all the pain in life go away.  Malcolm can rampage all day, and 800 milligrams of concentrated magic will make it seem like he is the world’s most well behaved child.  Remember what a lot of beer does to you the next day?  Ibuprofen goes a long way to erase yesterday’s sins.  Every ache, pain, twitch, strain and knot feels better after a few orange pills.

Recently, I have begun playing softball again, and this means that I have been tearing my knee to shreds.  I know lose a substantial portion of skin on me knee every game we play, and even though I wear protective cover, the skin gets shaved every time.  Things are so bad that I once got a nasty raspberry on me knee when someone waved a piece of tuna in front of it.  These scabs are quite thick and painful, and when the wound is in full bloom, I have a hard time bending my knee.  The giant scab throbs, and relief only comes when the I-train arrives.

I wonder if my devotion is a little too strong, whether I place to much importance on what is a very one sided relationship.  I look for answers to my problems in one place, and that is usually a sign that you have a problem.  I try to keep things in perspective though.  So what if I live hard, and take anti-inflamatories to deal with the consequences? It’s not like I smoke crack.  Maybe one day they will invent a new drug, one that will stop me from doing stupid stuff that gets me hurt.  I will tell you this though, there will never, ever be a drug that stops people from waving tuna in front of your legs.

What Would You Do?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I met up with my friend Betsy at a park today.  Betsy and I get along well, our kids really got along really well and the playdate was really fun.  Sadly,though, at the end of our playdate, I was thrown from play date dad into a moral conundrum. After I put Malcolm into his car seat, a man walked up to our car and asked if he could use my cell phone to call his wife.  I had a million outs as to why I couldn’t let him: it was late and Malcolm needed to get going, it was hot and I didn’t want to leave Malcolm in a hot car, I love my cell phone and I get nervous when Amy uses it, to name a few. For whatever reason, I got out of the hot car and handed him my phone. 

I am inherently distrustful of strangers, and I fully expected him to run off with my beloved Iphone as soon as I handed it to him.  I stood close to him, just to let him know that he was not going to run off with my precious without a race.  (I later realized that my thought that I would have run after him would have been hilarious, as what the hell would sad old Paul done with a phone robber after he caught him and tackled him in the parking lot of a local park!) Even with me standing inappropriately close, he called his wife and spoke to her.  The conversation was in Spanish, so I couldn’t fully understand what they talked about.  I could definitely tell that he was getting his ass handed to him for doing something wrong, and those were the best words that I did not understand that I had ever heard.  (Either that or my broken Spanish blinded me to the fact that he ordered some lumber from Home Depot and the wood had not arrived yet.)  The guy handed me the phone back, and, when I finally started breathing again, I was glad to retrieve my phone.

Sure it was a risky; I risked not getting my phone stolen , and also risked seeming like a complete asshole who won’t help a guy tell his wife that he has spent the afternoon at a local sports bar.  In the end, I took the risk, hoping to help out a random stranger.  Good or bad, I wanted to live in a world where we help each other out, even when you have no invested reason to.    My question to you is, would you all have done the same, or do I have some serious attachment issues with my cell phone? Lemme know.

I Eat Garbage!

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Today, I bought some baby carrots to include in a buffalo chicken salad I made for my lunch. I have recently started buying fresh, local veggies for us to eat, so, I was a little nervous buying produce at Safeway.  I put my fears to rest and thought, “who could fuck up baby carrots though?” Well, Safeway can.

I opened the package of carrots, and a gooey, slimy substance resembling the eminations of a 18 month old’s nose spilled out. I was disgusted and spent a few moments trying the scrub my hands clean.  Like that same 18 month trying to get off a wad of gum off his hands, I succeeded in only moving the sticky gooey substance from one finger to the other.  ]The fact that this sticky mess had taken over the bag of carrots should have been a pretty clear indication that the carrots had gone bad, but I, being cheap and not liking to throw anything away, did the unthinkable.  I tried some!!!  I washed as much of the gunk as I could off beforehand, mind you, but in then end, eating a carrot that came out of a bag of goo was not one of the smarter uses of my time today.  Obviously, it tasted horribly, like I imagine a dead moth would taste.  No amount of buffalo chicken salad could replace the stale taste in my mouth, and it remains with me, even as I sit here now.

After some contemplation, I realized that I have some issues with ignoring obvious warnings in life.  Sometimes I drink chunky milk in my coffee rather than drink it black.  I constantly chop off the moldy parts of bread and eat the rest.  And, I don’t really care what you say about this one, I always smell my fingers after pumping gas. This last one is noteworthy, because I always make the same contorted face afterwards, while I think to myself, “Yep, that smells terrible. Again.”

Of course, my thoughts turned to Malcolm, and what I would have said to him if he were to do that same thing.  In the end, I don’t think I would have said anything, for it’s probably better to let him find out for himself what happens when you eat rancid food or sniff gasoline.  No sense in ruining it all for him!  I just wish I was a little farther ahead in the game than him in some respects.  Trust me on this though, that kid will grow up knowing that the only thing that you should buy from Safeway is the wine that always seems to be on sale.  Steer clear of the produce aisle!!!

Why Is This Man Rubbing My Butt?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Lying face down at the acupuncturist’s office the other day, I lamented the sad status of my massage life.  Henry, the massage therapist, was aggressively rubbing my butt up and down, and, although it felt nice, the fact that he was a man was not unnoticed.  (Sadly, this is not the first time I have mentioned rubbing my butt aggressively in this blog.)  You see, I really like getting massaged, but when the massage is performed by a man, I like it less.  I am not against men rubbing each other, and I wish I could be OK  being massaged by another man, but I just get a little tense when another man is digging around my twig and berries.  Call me unenlightened, but I am just more comfortable with a female masseuse, much in the same way many women prefer female gynecologists or the way Malcolm prefers to have his dinner covered in chocolate. But, I digress.   

I began my long journey of loving massages in Thailand.  There, you can get an hour long massage for around eight dollars.  (For an extra eight dollars, you can effectively end your marriage!) We got massaged, almost every day, by tiny Thai women with incredibly strong hands.  It was paradise, and I thought getting massages would always be like that.  Sadly, it was not the case.

Trouble first arose on a trip Amy and I took to Greece.  We signed up for a multi-day spa package that had us running off for treatment several times each day.  I knew things were going downhill when I found myself naked, standing spread eagle against a wall.  They called it an exfoliating, toning rinse, but really they just pointed a high powered hose at me as if I was an inmate suspected of bringing lice into County.  Then, it happened. My massage therapist walked in and he was a hairy German man, who breathed his smelly, smoky breath on me for the entire rub.  I spent the entire time trying to think of Amy giving me the massage, only to become terrified that I would achieve an erection and really get myself into a bind.  Needless to say, it was not relaxing.

Last year, in Turkey, it almost happened twice.  I got a Thai massage from a hairy Turkish man, and dealt with it by promptly falling asleep the whole time.  I guess it was relaxing, but I could have stayed in the room and took a nap for a fraction of the cost.  Later in the trip, Amy and I signed up for a Turkish Hamam, which I thought could be something like this:

Unfortunately for me, it turned out to be more like this:

Do you see how nervous this guy looks?  I definitely didn’t want to be him.  When we arrived at the treatment room, the hairy Turkish guy (who spoke no English) seemed to indicate that he would do us both at the same time.  I wanted no part of this, so I ran away very quickly, opting instead to take a cooking class. I was definitely more relaxed:

IMG_1816 

When I found out that our acupuncturist has a masseuse on staff I was extremely excited, until I saw Henry walk in.  The first time he worked on my shoulder, he gave out a long, slow burp that had the force of air escaping from a popped blister. He then kinda blew it in my face.  Since then, I have come to respect Henry because he fixed my shoulder problem so that I can now play softball without pain again, although it would be much better if he were a Henrietta. At least he is not hairy.

So there I was, face down on the table, with Henry aggressively rubbing my butt and wondering how I should feel about it. I decided not to feel anything about it just lie there.  That only lasted for a few moments, when I fell into a deep relaxing sleep.  Denial has its benefits.

Our Cleaning Lady Thinks I Am Addicted to Strippers

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I have a problem. It’s not the problem you might think, considering the title of this post, but it is a problem nonetheless. I can’t put anything away. Long time readers already know about the various things lying around the house that have never been put away, but my problem extends into other aspects of my world.

My wallet is a disaster. In it, is every receipt that I have been given in the last two years. In addition, I have loyalty cards for cheesesteak restaurants, membership cards from video stores (in Reno and Davis), and betting slips from the horsetrack and sportsbooks. The sad thing looks like a worn out old sofa, with stuff sticking out in every direction trying to make an escape.

This is particularly dangerous development when I hang out with my softball team, for we spend a lot of time betting on things, and the size of the bet is always a dollar. Wondering who will get more hits that game? Bet someone a dollar. Think you know the name of the obscure band who’s song is singing on the jukebox? Put a dollar on it. One time I bet a guy as to how many times one of the boys would look at his cards during our weekly poker game before he either bet or folded. (The answer was 7, and I won).

The end result of these dollars flying all around is that I come home with many, many dollar bills in pocket. At the end of a long night of drinking and gambling, I usually am quite put out after the laborious task of taking my wallet out of my pocket. So, the dollar bills get left behind, and only see the light of day when I prepare my monthly task of washing my pants. Since I am a complete train wreck, I typically leave the dollars wherever I am when I check the pockets. That is why we have dollar bills on the top of my dresser, the floor of the closet, the top of Amy’s dresser, the foot of the washing machine, the desk in the kitchen, all over the office, and on top of the entertainment center. (I wanted to call it a credenza, but only old people have credenzas and I don’t want to be an old person yet.)

So, every Thursday morning, our cleaning lady, Rosie, scurries about the house, making us look like we are not complete slobs. In the process, she gathers up all the little wads of cash, and places them nicely in a pile on top of the “not-a-credenza.” I can only assume what she thinks I use them for, but honestly it is not that. Amy if you are reading this, it is not that. I swear. This whole convoluted story is the real reason.

The Dilemmas of a Stay at Home Dad

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Daddy Stories, Paul is a Dork

Today, Malcolm and I had a marathon session of baseball at the park (yay!). During our two and a half hours of batting practice and catch, we discovered that we each needed to pee.  I thought about this and realized that we stay at home dads have some altogether different choices that we need to make when we are out in the world.  Here are a couple of them:

Where Do We Pee?

As a veteran stay at home parent, I should always ask my child before we leave whether he needs to go to the bathroom.  However, we are usually late to wherever we are going and I am usually yelling at him, so I am not as composed as perhaps I should be.  I often find that he has to go to the bathroom, and after a bit of checking, I realize that I do too.  Today, when it became apparent that we needed to pee, i realized that the bathrooms are located about a half mile away.  So, it was either gather up all our stuff, walk across the park, and interrupt what was a stellar hitting session, or drop trou and hide behind the tree.  Malcolm  once peed on the grass at Pier 39, so this wasn’t the most public place that Malcolm has gone.

Should I Have a Second Beer?

I go to a playgroup every monday.  It is chock full of stay at home dads, and after we make small talk for around half an hour, we wander over to the picnic area, start up the grill and open the cooler.  Our coolers are quite extraordinary, filled with half juice boxes and half beer, and that is on a good day.  Usually, we forget the juiceboxes and make the kids drink out of the fountain.  Lately it has been pretty hot during the day, and the cooler beckons often.  I try to resist its siren-like calls, but when it is 97 degrees (like it was on Monday) sometimes I give in.  I feel guilty, not because drinking 2 beers in 4 hours while at the park is dangerous, but because when I reach into the cooler to grab a cold one, the kids are all disappointed that there is nothing in there for them.

Do I Talk to Random Guys at the Playground?

There are a lot of stay at home dads out there.  There are also many dads who have alternate schedules which allow them to chaperone their kids to the park during the day.  I never know what to do when I come into contact with these other guys at the park when I see them.  My conscience tells me to strike up a conversation with them and spread the word that there are many of us out there.  My brain tells me to shut up, because, I don’t know if you know this, stay at home dads are weird.  It takes a certain something to buck societal roles, and that something is not something that I ever want to come into contact with.  I worry that I would get stuck talking to some bizarre personality who would distract me from my real duty, playing with my IPhone.  So, most of the time, I ignore every other fella I meet.  Unless he is playing with his IPhone, then I know he’s cool.

Why Last Thursday Was Different

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Malcolm and I visited Amy at her office last Thursday.  It was our first office visit, as her office is far away and Amy usually goes there when Malcolm is in preschool.  Drive to eat lunch with my wife?, Not likely, as I don’t think i could get on her calendar without Malcolm.  Since Malcolm has the summer off from school, we decided to visit the place that pays all our bills.  It was, in many ways, different than a normal day.

I showered. Normally, my cleaning involves a quick how do you do with a baby wipe, usually while running out the door.  I am afraid that if I actually took a shower during the day, Malcolm would find a way to throw the broom, javelin style, into the TV.  Thursday, however, Rosie was cleaning the house, and I had Malcolm follow her around while I  frantically scrubbed away a few years of grime. Amy gave Malcolm a morning bath, so we both were as clean as a Chihuahua in a dishwasher.

I combed my hair.  It has been too long since I have paid my hairdresser a visit and my head is a little unmanageable.  My hair looks like cat throw up right now, and I just hide it under a Beer Nuts hut most of the time.   I don’t think the fine people at Oracle are as big of fans of Beer Nuts as I, so I did what I never, ever want to do.  I took a brush, raised in to my head, and actually made my hair look amazing.  It was hard, but one of the things you should do for your spouse is look presentable every couple of months.

I put on pants.  Sigh.  I had a nice little steak going on too.  I had gone maybe 2 months without covering my knees, and I hated to see the streak go down.  (Last year I made it for over 4 months, but I kinda cheated by freezing my ass off in a spring snowstorm and then wearing cargo shorts to Chez Panisse.)  I have really nice legs and I like to show them off, so covering them up seems like a sin.  Mostly though, I just don’t like to sweat. Putting on pants quadruples the likelihood that my face will end up as some sort of glossy sponge, but I counteracted the threat by putting on additional coats of anti-perspirant.

I did many of the same things for Malcolm, and we set off to impress to nice folks at Oracle with how clean and dressed we were.  When we got there, sadly, it appeared that we were way too classy for what was going on.  People were walking around with bottles of champagne and others were hiding in their offices reading books (supposedly the “server was out”, but Amy uses that excuse all the time in response to my advances.  I know it is a lie!)  The kicker is that they were screening WKRP in Cincinnati on the big screen.  Some job Amy has.  Next time I visit, I am going in shorts and bringing Beer Nuts for the show.

The Fine Line Between Being a Stay at Home Dad and Being a Pervert

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

So we we were at the park yesterday, as we always are on Mondays, having a good time and enjoying the afternoon.  We were in Castro Valley (a suburb) and the park was full of regular looking moms, dads, and nannies.  (Of course, there was one really hot dad there but he carries himself so well that you would never know it.)

We were preparing to leave, when a nanny with enormous breasts walked by us.  Of course, I alerted the dad’s still there to her presence by saying the following, “Man I had an enormous breakfast this morning.  And when I say enormous, I mean enormous (Nodding her way.)”  The other fellas took my cue and one by one we were able to gaze with wonder at the nanny’s exceptional “parenting skills.”  And then an extremely hot mom walked right by, followed closely by another.  We looked around and the place had become overrun by hot moms and nannies. What great luck!  Sadly, nap time was quickly approaching, and we were charged with either staying at the park or honoring nap time.

Ultimately, we respected the schedule, and walked the kids to the car, saddened to leave the party just when it was getting good.  We walked past the swings where one of the hot moms was standing, and our conversation stopped as we both had to suck in our gut so far that neither of us could breathe, much less talk.  When we got to the cars, I turned back for one final glimpse of the park, and wouldn’t you know it, the moms were checking us out!  Well, according to me they were checking us out, in reality they were probably just shaking their heads and making sure the perverts were actually leaving the park.

There were a couple of new guys there, so I thought I would give a few pointers to help new stay at home dads ogle hot women without getting busted:

1. Wear sunglasses (the mirrored lenses).  No one can see what you are looking at and if you point yourself in the right direction, you are, for all intents and purposes, looking at a tree.

2. Never point, it’s rude. Nod discreetly, use the hours of the clock to indicate direction, use children as reference points. Women know when they are getting pointed at, and generally don’t like it.  Now if you say, “I find that 12:00 is the best time of day to enjoy a chicken leg, you will generally be fine.”

3. Never, ever use the terms rack, hooters, or fun bags.  Also, never, ever say, “check out.”  It’s just too obvious.  A couple of dad’s almost got kicked out of a park in Berkeley for pointing at a sunbather and saying, “check out the rack on that one.”  “That one” was, of course aware of what was going on, and trouble ensued.

4. Do not approach women.  It is icky and weird and no one likes getting hit on at a park (even me!).  Now if your kid goes over there you are free to follow.  As the kids get older, you can train them to go over and say, “Mommy’s in heaven”  There is no better wing man on a planet than a kid.

The Dream Dies

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I once dreamed of being on TV. When I was young, I dreamed that I was on Charles in Charge, and played the boyfriend of Nicole Eggert. Needless to say, we kissed, all the time. . However, I was not selected to be on the show (I guess you need to be an actor and actually try out for roles for things like that to happen), and I spent the rest of my adolescence pouting about it.

Then, something happened. My stay at home dad’s group was approached by a cable network about a show they were developing about overweight, jobless men who hang out with children at parks drinking beer. “Holy Crap!”, we thought, “That’s exactly what we do!!!!” So, we sent in an audition tape and a few months later, the network told us that they were interested in us. They sent a film crew to our houses, our playgroup, and even took us to a bar for dad’s night out. We had a great time, and we thought the resulting video turned out great.

It turns out that the network thought that it was too much cute footage of dad’s with their kids. They wanted drama. They wanted chaos. They wanted stressed out parents. Yikes! I didn’t like the sound of any of that, so I told them that. I told them that I would let them film anything that I actually did, but we wouldn’t be doing anything really crazy so they could make a spectacle of us. I wanted them to make a documentary, they want to make entertaining TV. Minutes after I made my line in the sand, I got a phone call from the production company that they were booting us from the show, and thanks for our time. “What have I done?” I thought. “I don’t even have any integrity.” I thought about immediately calling them back and saying that I would walk naked down the Vegas strip, just for the shot at appearing on basic cable, but somehow, I never picked up the phone. Fame has its price, and it is a price I guess I am not willing to pay. So, I guess some other guy will become the voice of stay at home dads on TV, one that is willing be more “TV friendly.” I guess I am fine with our life, just the way it is. Besides, Amy is way hotter than Nicole Eggert.

I Hate Thursdays

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Thursday should be the happiest day of the week. It is the day that our five foot tall, Portuguese speaking, spitfire of a housecleaner, Rosie, comes. Rosie has been cleaning our house for many years now, the result of the Great Compromise of 2006. If you hadn’t followed this treaty in the international journals, it came about because our house was a pig sty and Amy was not appreciating my role as stay at home napper. When Malcolm turned one, we put him in day care to socialize him, and teach him how to say “mine” while hitting and biting other kids. This time at day care was supposed to free me up to do things like clean the house. I hate cleaning the house though, so Amy would come home from work, cringe at the shocking level of filth our house deteriorated into, and we would fight. Eventually we compromised to ditch the day care and hire a housecleaner (the thinking being, “wouldn’t it be better to pay someone to do the things you don’t like to do (cleaning) than pay someone to do the things you like to do (hang with the boy?) So, we hired Rosie and we have had pure marital bliss ever since.

So every Thursday, Rosie comes in and cleans everything from our refrigerator shelves to Malcolm’s hurricane riddled closet. For intents and purposes, I should be ecstatic that our house is spotless. So what happens to bring down the party? We happen. Immediately after Rosie leaves, I make lunch and mess up the otherwise pristine kitchen. Malcolm marches back into his closet and takes all 438 books off the shelf. We sit on the couch and mess up the perfectly fluffed pillows. We destroy a perfectly cleaned house, and it takes us less than 30 minutes to do so. So, at the end of the day on Thursday, I don’t see the mostly still clean house anymore, I see all the messes we have made. And it bums me out.

P.S. If any of you need a great housecleaner, let me know. This recession is killing Rosie’s base.

Free Market Economics and the Piedmont Fourth of July Parade

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

Some of you may be surprised to know this, but I was a economics major. As such, I believe in capitalism and free markets. There are occasions, where the market can fuck things up (health care, education, defense) so it is not to be trusted. In those instances, government intervention is warranted to correct market failures. Recently, I witnessed a market intervention far more insidious than anything the Republicans have accused Obama of doing.

While at the Fourth of July parade in Piedmont, I saw a parent grab candy and give it to their kid. I know, outrageous! The chief draw to this parade is that the people in the parade throw candy to the kids watching the parade from the sidewalks. (Think of it as Mardi Gras without the alcohol, beads or nipples.) If you are a kid, you have to be fast, because the longer the candy rests on the ground, the higher likelihood that some other, faster kid will beat you to the punch. Those are the rules of engagement, and we fully embraced them: if you wanted a sugary treat, you needed to outfox the pack. That is why Malcolm, with terrible hand/eye coordination and a natural inclination for public shyness, only got 3 pieces of candy at last year’s parade. Here’s what he looked like last year. The other side of the sign said, “Please Throw Me Candy, I’m Slow!” So in case you need help with the analogy, there is a market for candy at the Fourth of July parade, with each child free to operate to accumulate as much candy as possible. The parents are obviously not market participants (even if there is occasionally good candy in the mix) so they function as the role of the government, requiring action only when there is a market failure (like the biggest kid beating up the others and taking all their stuff.)

So, imagine my surprise when this year, Malcolm went down to pick up a lollipop, and WHAM! it was snatched up by some grandparent, who promptly handed the candy to an undeserving kid. Where was the market failure I ask you? Each child has the same chance to grab the sweets! Hey, if your kid can’t pick up the candy by themselves, they have no business eating it. I will overlook inherent contradictions in the right wing views on abortion or the death penalty, but I can’t stand idly by when some rich adult in Piedmont (probably minutes after lambasting welfare) takes candy out of Malcolm’s hand and gives it their useless piece of shit of a kid. My first reaction was to notify the World Trade Organization, but on further reflection, i figured that they might have bigger fish to fry. My only other alternative was to grab the candy out of the other kid’s hand, and explain that they would only get candy to eat if they figured out how to actually collect teh candy themselves. That seemed a little crazy, like when other parents ask malcolm to stop biting their kid, so I just grunted.

Warrantless interventions like this only perpetuate the problem because the undeserving are not incentivized properly. That kid will never learn how to get after it at the parade, and will probably legacy their way into good schools and great jobs, without ever having to learn the skills necessary for them to get what they want in life. In fact, giving candy to lazy kids will worsen the problem, because that candy will make the kid fatter and even more unlikely to be quick enough to seize upon the freebies next year. Maybe I am making a mountain out of a molehill, but, well I am. I don’t care. Raise your kids right people!!!! Now, I wonder how all this works at Mardi Gras?

A weekend in the country

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork, Travel Stories

 


 

We have rancher friends.That’s right, there are people in this world who don’t have strip malls, traffic woes, or neighbors that aren’t relatives. My high school friend, Regina, and her husband Judd, live on a ranch, complete with cows, horses, tractors and lots and lots of alfalfa.They met in college, and after a stint traveling the world, they settled in to work the land on Judd’s family farm.Now, they are raising a family in the country and seem as happy as two squirrels in a gunny sack.I’m not sure that the squirrel/gunny sack reference is used properly, but I have heard them use the expression and wanted to repeat it here.

We visited Judd, Regina, their daughter Dylan and the unborn fetus that is expected to arrive sometime in July.In addition to the humans, the Hannas are also made up of 5 dogs, 16 or 17 orange cats, a bunch of horses and the countless number of deers and squirrels that run around their farm eating their crops.(More on the squirrels later.)

For the past two Memorial days, the Hannas have graciously invited us up to the ranch for what Regina has called, my “Mancation.”You see, as a stay at home parent, and self proclaimed liberal wacko, I have become somewhat of a candy-ass.Going to the ranch, allows me to get in touch with my inner macho stud, and I spent the weekend doing manly things.I’m not sure Amy liked what she saw, as she likes her little sissy husband, but it’s definitely good for me to get out there and live it up.

We arrived at the ranch on Friday night, and were treated to hamburgers, in what was the first course of our red meat orgy that lasted the whole weekend.I knew we had arrived in Etna when the people we passed on the road to the Hanna’s house all waved to us, even though they had no idea who we were.In the country, you wave to everyone you pass on the road, as if to say, “Hey there pardner, welcome to paradise.”Wanting to seem like a local, I waved back at everyone.I reckoned I was beginning to fit in.

Our first full day on the ranch began with venison sausages (a result of one of Judd’s hunting trips) and Regina’s homemade scones.We then went outside to check out the new baby horse, Sugar.Sugar was only a few weeks old and was easily the youngest horse we had ever seen.Malcolm had a great time watching and attempting to feed hay to the horses, but became concerned when we wouldn’t let him ride the still-way-to-skittish foal.To rectify this, we saddled up one of the older horses and lead the kids around the yard on a leash.Malcolm had a great time, and, considering he was deathly afraid of riding the horses last year, he showed a lot of guts riding by himself.

When the kids went down for a nap, Judd forever changed my life by introducing me to the greatest thing ever: shooting squirrels.Squirrels are a scourge to ranchers.They dig lots and lots of holes in the ground, and this presents a hazard, as the cattle will often fall into the holes and hurt themselves.Injured cattle are impossible to deal with as they way 14 million pounds each, and moving a cow with a broken leg is about as hard as getting me to go to church.In case you are still outraged that I would go squirrel hunting you can pretend that we out to protect ourselves from these:

To remove the scourge, ranchers have developed a unique method of reducing the squirrel population: they shoot them.Ordinarily, I eschew gun violence as a mortal sin, but since I was on a mancation, I happily obliged Judd.

We started out behind the Hanna’s house, outfitted with a .22 rifle with a bitchin’ scope on top. Judd, of course, laughed at me because I shoot lefthanded for some reason.I think he was a little impressed, though, when I actually got one, and soon all the squirrels in the yard were either dead or hiding.From there, things got interesting.Judd took me in his 4 wheel drive truck and we roamed the nearby pastures looking for miniature game.Whenever either of us saw a squirrel, Judd stopped, and if it was on my side, I took the gun, balanced it against the window frame, and fired.If the squirrel was on Judd’s side, he would do the same.We had a great time stalking our prey, laughing and telling stories, although I felt like in some respects like Sarah Palin hunting moose from a helicopter. Our helicopter was little more country, though, as Judd’s ranch truck is completely covered in trash, spent .22 casings, and mud. This is how I imagined we looked:

After our bountiful excursion, we returned to the house, where Judd and Regina had arranged for a babysitter to come and look after the kids while we went out eat at the Etna brew pub.That’s right, we actually got a night out drinking good beer and enjoying each other’s company.I tell you, as far as hosts go, Regina and Judd are the bomb.We returned to a quiet house to drink premium bourbon and hear more stories about life on the ranch.

The next day, Judd and I went to move pipe.A little known fact about a
lfalfa is that is doesn’t grow without water.Well, most people know that, but I didn’t.To water the acres and acres of the stuff, they employ a system of huge pipes attached to large wheels.The pipes needed to be moved twice a day, and we would head out there, disconnect the water supply, move the wheels forward 30-40 feet, and then reconnect them. Moving the pipes during the day isn’t all that fun, but getting there sure was.To get to the fields, we rode 4 wheelers, and I had a great time buzzing around in the fields, pretending I was racing ATV’s.Judd must have thought I was pretending to help him move the pipes because it took twice as long for him to get everything done with me there.

We took Judd’s truck to the barn where the ATV’s are stored, and Judd laughed at me because I instinctively reached to put on the seatbelt each time we got in the truck.I put on the seatbelt the first time I got in, but I decided that since I was on mancation, seatbelts were for sissies.I have never felt so alive.

We arrived back at the ranch to witness Judd’s little cousin beginning the process of breaking a cow for the big 4-h show later in the summer.Cows don’t really like being broken, and it takes a lot of work to get the cow comfortable around humans and a harness.Malkie was intrigued by the whole thing only because of the sheer volume of cow shit he witnessed coming out of the cow’s ass.

Later in the morning, we saddled up the horses and all went out for a ride together.Dylan rode on Judd’s lap, Malcolm rode on Amy’s lap, and I cried all the time without a lap to ride on, as I am not very good at riding horses.The only thing that made it cool for me was that I had not packed any long pants, and got to borrow a pair of Judd’s Wranglers for the ride.Yep, I wore Wranglers.Mancation indeed!The ride went well, except for the fact that my horse was a complete asshole and kept walking right under trees, subjecting me to the scrapes and scratches of the branches hanging down.I am pretty sure my horse smiled every time he walked under some branches.

Judd and I went squirrel huntin’ again during nap time, and Amy I and also went out for some off-roading in the 4 wheelers.During our little jaunt, we saw the ranch’s “dead pile” where they drag all the cows that die in the fields.While staring at the remains of a two day old carcass, we saw a small black bear running away.He have been sampling the steak tartar before we got there, as bear sightings are rare there. We also saw some wild turkeys, but they weren’t in season so I couldn’t shoot at them from Judd’s truck.

On the way back, we stopped at Judd’s nephew’s birthday party.Judd, his two brothers, and his parents all live next to each other, so going anywhere usually involves stopping at someone’s house and seeing what they are up to.The birthday party had begun to quiet down, so we sat in the yard drinking shitty beer and watching the kids jump around on a trampoline.Everyone in the country has a trampoline, and Amy, Malcolm and I even took turns showing our poor coordination.I was beginning to get the hang of it, but left the trampoline in shame when, on one of my jumps, the trampoline bowed so low that my butt actually touched the ground.

We capped off the evening with some steak, watermelon and a nice little tantrum by Malcolm.Malcolm was pretty well behaved for the weekend, so the fact that he only had one meltdown was pretty acceptable to us.Earlier in the day, however, Malcolm was on my lap on the couch when, for no apparent reason and no real notice, he threw up on my and the couch.I’m still not really sure why he did this, maybe it was his body reacting to the steady diet of red meat.

The next morning, we packed up the car, got a quick chicken fried steak and eggs from the local breakfast haunt, and said our goodbyes.Regina and Judd were great hosts, talented cooks, and nice friends to spend a weekend with.There was talk that the previously once a year event, “Etnapalooza” may be reincarnated, and if they do, I suggest that you try and make the trip and join us.Of course, you must be man enough to want to.

Trying to be Famous

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

On Monday, the good folks at the Learning Channel came to our dad’s group to shoot an introductory video about who we are and what we do. They started off the day by coming to our house and shooting morning playtime with Malkie and I. We had a great time together and we both laughed a lot. The hardest part was the lengthy interview they did of me. I never got really comfortable, and, it being 9 am, it was too early to drink myself pretty. From there, they got in the car with Malcolm and I as we made our way to the park. I didn’t get into a wreck, and the only drama was a squirrel dancing in the road that I almost ran over.

At the park, we did our normal thing, talked NCAA hoops, made fun of each other, and enjoyed the awesome weather. (That last part was put in there merely to brag to people who live in snowy climates). At one point, Malcolm and 2 of his buddies got up on the table and started dancing. I walked over there to ask them to get down, and boy did they. They got down by shaking their butts all over the place, then started shouting, “shake your booty!” The only booty I thought Malcolm knew about was Pirate Booty!

They were with us for a good while, hoping to catch Malcolm dishing out a little punishment, but they only got an attempted biting; luckily the kid Malcolm seized was too quick to be a snack. The kids enjoyed performing for the camera, and for the most part were well behaved. Later we found out that most of the kids melted down after we dropped them off at home with the wives.

Why did we drop off the kids? Because we hit up a bar for dad’s night out. Things were going along swimmingly there until one of our members decided it would be a good idea for us to drop a shot of whiskey in our beers and then slam the whole thing. (If you’re wondering what this is, it’s called a boilermaker, and it tastes like caramel). Things degenerated quickly after this, especially because a few of the dads didn’t take their shot, so a couple of us ended up doing their shots for them. I know that this behavior may surprise some of you, as I am normally a vehemently anti-binge drinking, but I was merely attempting to go with the flow. So there we were, late in the evening, pretty drunk, and exhausted from a long day, when the conversation turned to birth control and sex. Some of the guys were pretty forthcoming about everything, but somehow I managed to avoid making any wild admissions. Of course, I could be totally wrong and it’s possible that I told everyone that Amy makes me dress up like a cabbage patch doll and discipline me for being a bad little boy. I’m pretty sure that I’ve kept that a secret, though.

So that was our day, a lot of laughs, a lot of goofiness, and a whole bunch of us being us. The network will take a couple of months to make a decision. They are trying to decide whether to use our group, a group from another city, both of us, or neither. We’re not sure about whether we want to be on TV, bring added stress to our totally fun Monday mornings, or whether Child Protective Services watch cable, but for now, we had a good time filming for a day.

In case you ever find yourself shooting TV footage, I have compile a simple list of tips I learned from Monday. First, Don’t look at the camera. The camera makes you apprehensive (it is usually 4 or 5 inches from your face.) The camera makes you shy. The camera adds 15 pounds. Pretend that there are no cameras there, and you will feel freer, more confident, and thinner.

Second, use your status as TV shootee to your advantage. If there are hot moms at the park who notice you are being followed by a TV crew, hit on them. Tell the crew they made your car dirty and have them wash it. You only have so much time being the center of attention, make the most of it! I only wish that I had told the production company that we grilled steak and lobster instead of chicken apple sausages.

Lastly, the microphone turns off. This is perhaps the most important thing you will ever need to remember. I was mic’d all day, and at the bar, I realized I could actually turn of the microphone. I immediately realized, then, that I could have turned off the mic when, say, I went to the bathroom. 5 times prior to this. The audio and video went to everyone at the shoot (the execs followed the action by watching hand held monitors and listening to remote audio feeds). That means I treated the executives to the glorious sounds of my pee entering the alameda county sewer system, accompanied by the other emanations I coerced out of my body at the time. Hard to look people in the eye who have listened to you pee on headphones. I guess I know why I started doing shots…

Man About Town

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to get involved in politics somehow. As luck would have it, I came across a posting on Craig’s list looking for someone with computer skills who wanted to get involved in progressive politics. I thought this might be a good fit, so I emailed the group back and told them I was interested. A few days later, I spoke with the head of the organization and immediately remembered that non-profits are so dysfunctional that they take the fun out of dysfunction. (Dysction?) For those of you who have never seen yourself in a non-profit setting, there are basically two types of people who work at non-profits: people who want to tell every single experience they have in life and older women with cat fetishes. The head honcho at this place was clearly the latter, as he called me up 40 minutes late and took 24 minutes to tell me why he had to reschedule our conversation until later. (I know because my phone tells me exactly how long the call is.) Dude, I want to save the world, not hear about the tenuous nature of your relationship with the leader of a fellow non-profit.) An hour or so later, and 20 minutes after he was supposed to call, I spoke with him again and I introduced myself to him and told him about my background. After I had finished, he told me that if he were handing out scores, I would get 99 out of a 100. Some might take that as a complement, but I, of course immediately thought, “What the fuck would it take to get a 100? I am a liberal labor lawyer with mad computer skills. I am also willing to volunteer for no money!!!! Would I have to take off my pants and bring bags of cash with me to get a perfect score?” We eventually ended the conversation and I agreed to come to their office for the orientation for “all their volunteers.”

On orientation day, I found that the team of volunteers consisted of me and one other woman, a recent college graduate who has no shot at finding a job in this economy. I felt dejected about the size of the team, as one of the things I was secretly hoping would happen was that I would find some wacko liberal friends that would introduce me to a whole new world. I am not saying that we had to smoke hash and hang out in Jazz clubs, but it would be nice to once in a while get a call from someone who said, “Hey, we are going to go protest Dick Cheney at a local gun club. Wanna come along?” Slightly bummed, we received our marching orders and I told them that I would be unavailable during the holidays, that I would probably work on the stuff at home and maybe come in after the New Year.

Despite the 3 or 4 emails I received over the holidays asking when I could come in, I remained true to my word and headed into their office for the first time yesterday. I didn’t want to pay for parking, so I opted to park our car at Malcolm’s school after I dropped him off and took the bus to downtown Oakland. This is where the fun started. Not wanting to scrounge for coins every time I took the bus, I opted to go to the drug store and buy a ten ride pass. Upon exiting the store, the squat woman in front of me who was happily humming a tune while walking up the street, stopped, took out her phone, made a call and then yelled, “Why you talkin’ shit?” loudly into the phone. I was concerned over the rapid transformation from R. Kelly fan into ruthless enemy, but I figured sticking around to hear the juicy details would not have gone over all that well. In the next few moments, I attempted to think of the circumstances that would cause me to act in a similar way and could only come up with the following scenario: Excited by my new purchase of a roll of stamps, I exited the store, while bopping my head to the sounds of my theme music, the song, “Yoda” by Weird Al.

Thinking about Yoda, I consider the line uttered by Brad Pitt in the movie Seven, where he says, “Just because the fucker’s got a library card doesn’t make him Yoda!”The mere mention of the library makes my blood boil because my friend Dale works at a library, and she recently said that our other friend Tunzel made a better tasting chili than I did. In a rage I call her up and yell, “Why you talkin’ shit?” but I am pretty sure that’s not what happened to the squat woman.

The bus is one of the last great hiding places of democracy. Immediately, I noticed the black female driver talking to a white woman about the Oakland police department’s recent shooting of an unarmed man who had already been subdued by officers. Neither the driver nor the passenger had anything groundbreaking to say, but the mere fact that they were talking about it with each other inspired me. I was definitely not inspired the evening before, when I encountered the mass protest against the BART police that shut down my BART station. Instead of joining, or even just watching the protests, I caught a bus to another station so that I could join my white friends at a dive bar in the City to get drunk and play poker. Community discourse I good and I was proud of my city.

The bus was a pretty good cross section of Oakland. On one side two older latina women sat next to a college aged black guy and middle aged asian guy, all looking out the windows. On the other side, 4 white people nervously scanned their reading materials, looking up occasionally to make sure they hadn’t missed their stop. In the back, a number of school aged black kids loudly cracked on each other and laughed. I wanted to say, “This is Oakland. These are my peeps,” but I hang out with white guys in the City and get drunk, so I can’t really say that.

I got off the bus and was immediately confronted with the issue of whether to cross at the crosswalk where the crazy guy was singing while his dick was hanging out of his pants, or jaywalk halfway down the block to avoid him. I am a stay at home dad, so I see a fair share of neenees during the diaper changing process, and I proceeded down the crosswalk. Unfortunately, I made a mistake and was walking the wrong way on the block, so I had to double back and walk past the crazy guy again. He was singing “Blue Moon” with the blunt force of a bowling ball being thrown against a garage door, and said, “hey snatchy guy!” to me on my way by.

I eventually made my way to the office building and realized again that non-profits all tend to buy the same office space in crappy buildings on the fringe of downtown. Here, the political website I was heading to shared floors with places like “Redefining Progress,” “Diversity Alliance For America,” and “Grassroots Fundraising Journal.” I also realized that I was lucky to be in this setting because I hadn’t showered, my socks didn’t match and I had crust in my eyes which betrayed a hangover from the night before. Wacko liberals don’t generally care about hygiene, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I stayed at the office, working on my analysis of the most liberal members of state legislators around the country, stopping now and then to chat with the secretary, a recent college graduate who has no shot at finding a better job in this economy. The office consisted of two tiny rooms each buried under the weight of what appeared to be copies of newspapers from the 1960’s. I was fortunate that the place did not smell bad, so I counted my blessings. I was actually progressing in my task until the boss showed up in a whirlwind and mad
e the office considerably louder. Eventually, I finished my analysis of the North Carolina legislature and decided to head home.

The entry onto the bus home started with a scare, as a 4 year old pointed a handgun at me and said, “bang!” Who the fuck gives a gun to a 4 year old! If you want your 4 year old to have a weapon, why not try something more restrained, like one of those fuzzy things in the Star Trek show.

The most daring weapon we have given Malcolm is a Nerf football. Let’s see him to some damage with that! The kids in the back were still loud and obnoxious, consumed by how long it would take to get home and “hit dat weed.” Shortly before my stop, two girls sat behind me and gossiped about a friend of theirs whose baby daddy was trying to get her to keep “this one.” Evidently, the baby daddy had asked her to not have an abortion this time so that the daughter that they do have will have a cute li’l youngin’” to play with. If I understood them correctly, this means that the couple had sex and got pregnant, kept the first baby, had sex, got pregnant, and aborted the second, and had sex, got pregnant, and were on the fence about the third. I was shocked! This meant that the couple had sex THREE TIMES in high school, besting my record by nearly 200%. Fascinated, I continued to listen as the two girls professed their love (which I share) of Chinese food, and that they ate so much of it that one of them could be a “Chinaman” for Halloween. And who says all the good costumes are taken? I eventually made it back to my car, picked up Malcolm and headed back home, glad to back amongst the people and doing something I consider worthwhile.

Resolved

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

We cleaned the house Sunday. Well, we didn’t really clean, we just put all of the Christmas stuff away. Now, all that remains of the holiday season is some new toys for us all to play with and the glitter that fell off the fake holly. That, and the handful of Christmas cards that we have still have to send out.

I realized that things were a little crazy over the holidays, and that I hadn’t even had time to make New Year’s resolutions. I have a laundry list of things to improve on: I am too fat, too addicted to TV, I have bad posture and I secretly stole all of Amy’s money and hid it in the Bahamas. Those have been true for some time though, and I honestly felt like skipping the whole New Year’s Resolution this year, because every year I say the same shit. After a bit of reflection, though, I took a different approach.

Instead of dealing with behavior I’d like to change, I decided instead to save my soul, and hope the other stuff just takes care of itself. If I am truly happy, then I won’t do anything that makes me unhappy, right? So, I want to become Awesome. That’s no typo, Awesome with a capital A. I want to become so kick ass that the mere thought of me makes you smile. I want people to whisper and look at me as I walk past them down the street. I want there to be a poem, and I also want the last line in that poem to read, “’Cause Paul Schwartz is so fuckin’ Awesome.” You may ask yourself, “self, how can he do this?” I have a four part approach.

Step 1: How Paulie got his groove back

The first prong is to recapture my moral high ground. I used to be a labor lawyer. I fought battles against the bosses. I stuck up for the little guy (and gal) who got screwed by the man (and the woman). I even road around in a fire truck one day screaming at Macys! I used an entire part of my brain to figure out how to make the lives of working people a little bit better and to make the bad guys change their mind. Sadly, that part of my brain has been dormant for a while now. My moral high ground gave me a backbone, so anytime I felt like I was wasting time, spinning my wheels, gambling in Vegas, I could at least say, “so what, I am out there fighting the good fight the rest of the time.”

Now, I can’t really say that. Sure, I‘ll tell anyone who’ll listen that I am a social movement of one, reversing traditional gender roles, but there’s only so many times that the girls at the alley cat club will laugh at that line and sound sincere. Now, I need a new way to save the world. I recently decided to volunteer at a progressive political website, and will use some computer skills to assist in the cause of making the world free of nasty republican ideals. I am also going to try and become a mentor to a kid in Oakland whose parents are either dead or in jail. This is just the start too, I will seek out more stuff and do more stuff when I can. Do you have an idea about how to save the world? Tell me about it and I will try to help. I am hoping all this will help with my posture; it’ll give me a posture and a good place to approach things from again.

Step 2: Grab life by the balls

The second prong is to be more productive at the things I like. All too often, I get caught up in the flow of things that I can’t even remember to do the things in life that make me happy. So I will. I like riding my bike and playing basketball, I like writing blog posts; I will do them more. I like to cook and eat, but I don’t try anything new. I just bought Alice Waters’ book about simple cooking. I’ll cook my way through it and keep trying until the food is actually edible. I like it when Malcolm conquers new tasks, I will help him devour them more often. This may mean that some of the things that I don’t like to do fall by the wayside. So be it. Who needs to be current with their taxes anyways. Life is too short. You gotta get in there and grab what you want from life like getting a gall stone out of a cow’s rectum. Are you with me still?

Step 3: Changing my connectivity settings

I hide from things. I make up reasons not to respond to emails or phone calls. I camp out in the house and invent things to do that don’t involve other people. I use tools like Yelp which are based on user reviews, but I never review anything. (I did submit reviews on Zagats once, but that was only to get a free copy of the book.) There is a neighborhood list serv for our neighbors to stay in touch about things, and I never tell people how crazy and stupid they are. Recently, I counted and realized I had but 13 friends on facebook. Who lives like that?

I need to connect more to others. I recently began a crusade to contact people on Facebook that I hadn’t seen or heard from in years. My friend list is 66 and growing! I am going to tell my neighbors they are crazy and stupid: first up, skewering the guy who complained that someone put there garbage in his can and whined that the shrimp tails should have been put in the compost heap. Shrimp tails?! Get a life! I am going to tell everyone on Yelp that my acupuncturist has lousy treatment rooms, but she has a massage therapist with the strongest hands I have ever encountered. No more sitting and watching life go by. I am gonna get connected and stay involved.

Step 4: Keep my lady happy

My wife is a goddess. She cares about the same things that I do, doesn’t care about the same things I don’t. She saved me from a life of stress and long hours. She talked me out of voting for John McCain. She supports me in the things that I like to do. She supports me by making money and letting me have some of it. She lets me go to the alley cat club. Oh, she is smoking hot too.

How do I repay her? I show her my butt crack in the mornings and then get snooty when she asks not to see it. I make fun of her when she coughs up blood when she is sick. I secretly steal her money and send it to the Bahamas. No more! I am going to worship her. I am gong to shower her with praise. I am gonna avoid picking fights with her, even when she tells me that my cooking is terrible. I owe so much to her, and I don’t think I let her know. So this year, I will. I’ll do this and more. I’ll ask her out on dates. I’ll send her emails. I’ll make sure my pajamas are always at my waist, and if they aren’t, I will make sure hers aren’t either. I won’t treat her better, I’ll try and treat her the best.

I figure if I can do all this stuff, it won’t matter that I watch Arrested Development while eating nachos.

Paully Rides a Bike

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I have recently become chubby. I haven’t really been in shape since high school, but I am carrying around more weight now than at any point in my life. At first I was OK with this, considering I am a housewife and have nothing to look nice for 95% of the time. After some time, I realized that my wife is smokin’ hot and I better get my act together or she will find someone who is what I am not: good looking, has a job, and is good with kids.

I also noticed that, not only did my pants stop fitting, but that my shorts have actually started bursting. Anyone who has seen me on my birthday knows how challenging it is for me to keep my pants on. My recent girth, however, has made it almost impossible to stay fully clothed. There are two pairs of shorts that I wear that have permanently lost the buttons from the strain. Even worse, my shorts that close with snaps burst open all the time. They burst open getting into and out of the car. They burst open getting off the couch. They even burst open just bending over to lecture Malcolm. If you ever want people to look at you funny try buttoning your pants up in public. I gate a lot of strange looks while refastening myself out in the world, but by far the worst is arriving at Malcolm’s school. Every time I wear the snapping shorts, I get out of the car to bring Malcolm inside and immediately have to secure my pants. Parents who are there to drop off their kids look at me and give me a look that says, “why doesn’t Malcolm’s daddy wear pants in the car?” A woman at the grocery store last week thought I had arrived at the store fresh from pleasuring myself, so I decided that needed to drop the weight.

The first order of business was to figure out how to exercise while Malcolm was at school. I immediately decided to starting riding my bike. The idea of getting away from the world and listening to my Ipod on the open road seemed appetizing to me, so I went into the garage to take stock of our bikes. We bought decent bikes after we got married, but we haven’t ridden them in about 4 years. After inspecting them, I knew that we would have to take them to the shop, and one week later, bam, I was hitting the trails.

I decided to go to Lake Chabot because I remembered the trails being relatively flat and someone on the internet said it was about 12 miles long. I got to the lake, got on my bike and I was off. I immediately felt like something was wrong because the bike felt too short. Much in the same way that Malcolm feels in pajamas that are way to small, I didn’t ever seem to get to extend my legs. At first I was afraid that I had actually forgotten how to ride a bike, but after a while it got a little easier. I knew I had forgotten how to ride the bike when I hit the first hill. I did not remember how to shift so on the first incline I made it really hard to pedal and had to stop after I lost all my inertia. On the far side of the hill, I tried to shift again and got it wrong, ending up pedaling at 100 mph and not really going anywhere. After a while I got the knack for switching gears and had a great time listening to the Barenaked Ladies and darting around turns, hitting hills and actually breaking a sweat! Things were great until I had to stand up to peddle up a hill and my pants burst open. This was shortly followed by my headphones get stuck around the steering wheel, necessitating me to ride leaning over with my head near my hip until I could stop. I had now been bicycling for 15 minutes and had already stopped 4 times. Not good.

That positive outlook lasted until I hit the first really large hill. I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to go, since it was an intersection of four paths, and had to stop to look at the map at the bottom of the hill. I realized that the 12 mile long bike path went straight up the hill, so I gutted it out and started peddling up the hill as fast as I could. About 1/3 of the way up, I couldn’t take it anymore and had to get off the bike and walk up the rest of the hill. After 2/3 of the way, I decided that I had probably read the map wrong and went back down the hill to check it out (again). I was really pissed to find that I needed to go up after all, and tried in vain to scale the hill. I started walking about ¼ of the way up, and eventually made my way to the top. After getting all the way up, I found that there was another hill, only this hill was about twice the size of the first one. I said screw it and went back down the hill to check out another path. I was breathing pretty heavily (some say wheezing) and I was glad to have a few minutes of even trails. This was short lived, as it turned out that this “new” trail also had hills. Ack! I decided that I had biked enough for today, so I headed back to my car, wounded in the knowledge that I couldn’t take a hill and that I would probably be fat for another week.

I was completely exhausted by the time I hit the parking lot and, when I got to the entryway to the park, couldn’t take another hill and proceeded to walk my bike out of the entrance. Sadly, this is where the guard shack was located and the guards both looked at me walking my bike up the (not-so-difficult) hill and sneered that I was such a wuss. Things didn’t get much better upon arriving at my car, as the water bottle I had brought with me was Amy’s castoff: a huge pink thermos looking thing which I drained by my car. All in all, I considered the outing a success, if only because I will go back again sometime.

When I got home I put the bike in the garage and looked at the other bike, which actually contained the lock I used during Law School. I was riding Amy’s bike!

Ten Things About Me

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

10 Things You May Not Know About Me

These are all the rage now, so here is my take.

1. I never learned what profits are. My dad is a minister and my mom is a nurse. They never cared much about making more money than the next guy. The only profits I ever heard about were in the bible. That is why I never really made any money. As my classmates from law school went off and made $100-200,000, I made $60k for the government and then $52k for an employee side law firm. It seemed like good money to me.

2. I love bologna. I talk about smart foods that are healthy and close to the farm, but heaven to me is a bologna and American cheese sandwich on white bread with tons of mayo and mustard. No pickles, no tomatoes, no lettuce. Meat, cheese, bread. Sometimes in college I would make double-decker bologna sandwiches, and my eyes would glaze over in ecstasy.

3. Itunes thinks I am insane. My tastes include: Weird Al, Dave Mathews, NWA, Nirvana, Indigo Girls, Frank Sinatra, Linkin Park, Pottery Barn Margarita Music, David Sedaris Books on tape, ABBA, Bob Dylan and Journey. Usually, I listen to one of these because I feel guilty about listening to one of the others. I listen to ABBA if I have to clean the house. It has energy and I hate cleaning. The cycle then begins as I begin to loathe myself like a smoker who buys a brand new pack. I then put on something to make me feel cool. Linkin Park or dirty rap will usually do the trick. I typically feel a little guilty that these selections have no redeeming social qualities to them, so I will throw on Dylan or Dave Mathews until my brain hurts. As soon as my brain hurts, I relax to the easy digested Weird Al, and the cycle repeats itself.

4. I don’t care for old people. It’s not that I don’t trust them, it’s that they are perpetually in my way. Have you seen an old person trying to buy some milk at the grocery store? You’d think that they were choosing a dental plan. Any time I am late and need to get somewhere fast, I end up trailing a blue haired beauty in some 1960’s boat, who travels at about 5 miles an hour, never signals and uses every lane in the road. As far as I am concerned, everyone who hits 75 should be sent to a retirement community and not let out unless supervised.

5. I can’t fight off viruses. I get cold sores when I am out in the sun without chapstick. For prolonged exposure, my entire mouth breaks out and I look like the Scottish King’s dad on Braveheart. Either he or the old witch on Robin Hood. Definitely someone from that genre though. When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, a virus attacked my heart. I was in the ICU for a week with doctors constantly monitoring me for way out of whack test results. They thought I might die, since my test results were so bizarre, but I survived and got to go to Chucky Cheese after I got out of the hospital. When I was in college, I developed “Hoof and Mouth” disease which brought on small red bumps all over my hands, feet and mouth. Needless to say, the doctors at the hospital were surprised that a human had contracted this typically bovine affliction. I swear they thought I had sex with a dirty cow. My current issue is the small bumps I have on my hands. I have 30-40 small bumps on my hands and to combat them I have been going to the doctor. She freezes off the bumps (or at least tries) and this kills off the flesh in my hands. Ironically, it is a double whammy, and the old doctor can’t see very well and instead of pinpointing each bump like a smart bomb, she opts instead for a scorched earth policy. Right now, my hands look like I either have the plague or leprosy. Or both. I am tired of explaining all this to people, so I bought some gloves (reminiscent of cycling gloves) that cover my hands, but expose the fingers. People see my gloves and ask what they are for. I have enjoyed over the last week or so making up different reasons for how I hurt myself. I told one group that I jammed my wrist sliding head first into second base, and another group learned that I almost broke my wrist skateboarding. My softball team knows me a little better so I told them the truth. I have hand herpes.

6. I used to like the Miami Dolphins. I grew up a 49er fan. Somewhere in middle school, I felt that they were a little too cookie cutter, so I found a new team, with a bad ass quarterback and two bad ass receivers. I am not sure why I began to like this team, but I carried this with me until around college. I now root for the raiders, but honestly, I’d rather have sex with a cow than watch them lose like they do.

7. I am good at word games. I destroy people while playing Boggle. I amaze crowds with my ability to solve puzzles on Wheel of Fortune. I am not quite as good at scrabble, but I am getting better. I know that qat is a word and so is sequoyah. This is quite strange, because I don’t use good English and I always hated the subject in school. Maybe I just hated my teachers, and secretly enjoyed the subject matter. Somewhere, Jim Scruggs is smiling when I drop a nine letter word on you at Boggle.

8. I secretly wonder why women I meet want to have sex with me. Some women are trapped in unhappy marriages. Some women are attracted to my funny, post modern ways. For every woman, there is a different story. Sometimes I think my life is a reality show in Cinemax. I am certain, though, that all women (who look at me) are angling to get me in the sack. Sadly, most of these women have been unsuccessful. Occasionally, I believe that some men want me as well. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sleep with a guy who wants to play Boggle, eat bologna and occasionally looks like a leper?

9. I always prefer blue over red. I root for Cal over Stanford. I root for Michigan over Ohio State. But it goes beyond sports. I like Cool Ranch Doritos instead of the regular. I like blue raspberry, not the red stuff. Oh, but its so much more. I have 2 blue suits, but no red ones. I have 27 blue shirts, and 1 red one. No red socks. I like blue states. I have a blue car. The only time I dislike blue is when the Dodgers are on.

10. I used to be a kleptomaniac. It started in junior high, when I would lift sunglasses, shirts and candy. I once stole a Tinkerbell figurine from Disneyland for my girlfriend, who was into that kind of stuff. In high school, I moved on to baseball cards, but this ended when I got caught with the entire set of 1987 Topps baseball cards in my pants. I learned my lesson and didn’t steal anything until I learned that Malcolm’s stroller could hide groceries in it. Hey, times are tight, man.

Hanging with the Cool Kids

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I play cards every Wednesday night with a bunch of degenerates I call my friends. We used to be in a softball league together, but now I suspect we tolerate the softball in order to pursue our favorite pastime: poker. Our evening ended last week the same way that it always did, except for one crucial fact: the carpool driver was lonely. Instead of driving back across the bay bridge and dropping every off like every other week, Rob decided he was going to some show called Guitar-O-Rama or something in the city. Everyone else had been doing drugs earlier in the evening, so they readily agreed. I of course was thinking how difficult my day with Malcolm would be if I stayed out late and drank. The plan was to go to the club, and I would walk to BART and get home my own way. That plan evaporated when the “club” they were looking for was closed, and they suddenly remembered the Guitarapalooza was at a different club. By the time we got to the second club, it was too late to catch BART, so I was effectively taken hostage by some stoned losers I used to think were my friends. I hoped that there would be a huge cover charge at the club, and my friends being unemployed, unemployable and just cheap would decide that this was not such a good idea after all.
Sadly, there was no cover. Not only did this mean that we would have to go in, but also that I would be stuck watching a band that could not charge people to attend. Sweet. I walked in and was immediately slapped in the face by the smell of really, really bad body odor. It was like a moose farted on some old cheese and wiped it on an old sponge. I guess the kind of person who is going to free concerts on Wednesday evening at 11:30 p.m. is not the kind of person who showers before they go.
I got the lay of the land from my friends who told me that the “band” was actually a mix of the best guitarists from bay area bands, mixed in with two women of color to provide the drums and bass. At least, I thought they were women of color. Sometimes in the bay area its hard to tell (especially with bad lighting). The resulting sound was something in between Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas and Lynyrd Skynyrd. You know you are sad when your frame of reference for a rock concert is a kids Christmas show. I relish my parenthood, so when my friend told me that one of the guitarists played in ALO (it was loud, I think he said it stood for Angry Lithuanian Oxfuckers), who used to open for Jack Johnson, I was proud to reply, “Jack Johnson sang the soundtrack to Curious George!” Well, it was very, very loud, so i actually said, “JACK JOHNSON SANG THE SOUNTRACK TO CURIOUS GEORGE!!!” So proud, I was, of my musical appreciation, that I actually tried that line on every skanky looking girl in the joint, and not a single one of them replied. Looks like I got some boning up to do on the art of wooing young females.
After a while, I remembered that I had been to a grand total of three concerts in my life, so I should take the opportunity to enjoy myself a little. Granted, the quality of music put out by the furry white guys on stage who were all a little too fat, a little too old, and a little too uncomfortable looking on stage was somewhat below Metallica/Guns and Roses and Alannis Morissette, but hey, I can relate to being a fat sweaty mess. I nodded my head up and down like the other people who had no clue how to keep a beat, and briefly considered moving my feet, until I realized moving my feet constitutes “dancing” and I sure as shit wasn’t gonna get caught doing that. I opted instead to tap my toe every once in a while and sway casually to the twine of the guitars, while trying my best to avoid making eye contact with any of the kids there. I would have been more social had I not been wearing shorts, a polo shirt and athletic tennis shoes, which totally clashed with the jeans, clever tee shirts, and skate shoes everyone else was wearing. Also, I did not stink to high heaven. What’s wrong with these people? I was young once, and do not remember making a point to smell like a ape when going out on the town. I guess things have changed.
The band finally wrapped up after a 20 minute long final song that was the musical equivalent of an alzheimers patient rambling on about head of lettuce that was nice to them once. I was struck though about how into it my friends were. I know part of it was the drugs talking, but they were really into dropping the names of the guitarists and chronicling of their history with various bands they played with. I could care less, but I think they were actually tried to impress me with the fact that one of my friends went camping with the members of Tea Leaf Green. Some of them actually danced (gasp!) and even went so far as to hold one arm in the air as if they were receiving the holy spirit. I guess living with the burden of looking like Brad Pitt has numbed me to allure of fame, to the point that brushes with fame are not all that exciting.
I thought that the music was just OK, barely worth enduring the smell, but the other members of the car pool seemed to think that we had just witnessed an “epic” show. I have argued with them, but i didn’t want to seem lame and was too busy fending off the allegation from the back seat that i was from “San Mateo.” We finally went home and I was glad that the group’s plan to go do more drugs until 4 in the morning meant that I got dropped off first. I drifted off to sleep, actually glad I had braved it out and played with the (smelly) cool kids for the night.

All by Myself

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

So, you don’t really know how good you’ve got it until you don’t have it at all. My one my best qualities is my ability to sleep. I know this is sad, but some people knit, some fight racism, I sleep. I sleep well. At least I thought I did, until Amy went out of town on a business trip this week. (On a side note, Amy left for Las Vegas for a “business trip” on a Sunday. Who has a meeting in Vegas on a Sunday? If she comes back with a tan and blood shot eyes, I am gonna be pissed!)
I was down a few hours of sleep in the past few days to begin with, as Malcolm has learned how to climb out of his crib, and now runs up to our room and wakes us up at 6 a.m. by slapping us in the face while shouting, “I sleep long time. Malcolm has good rest.” I planned on going to sleep early, but the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter put an end to all that by luring me in until all hours of the night. In case you haven’t seen it, it stars Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, the guy who plays Earl, with brothers Darryl and Darryl on Newhart, and contains my new favorite all time movie line: “You’re 14 now, you’re almost a woman.” I was moderately interested in the movie until Sissy’s character called another woman a sow and chased her with a stick. At that point, I was hooked and didn’t go to bed until 11, a half hour past my normal bedtime.

This was not a fatal mistake, but alone in the house, I heard every stinking noise outside and with each sound I panicked like I was being attacked by our neighbors. In reality the neighborhood cats were either fighting, screwing or both. Ironically, I failed to pick up on the similarities between the cats outside and the lovemaking rituals depicted in the movie I watched earlier.

After I had finally gotten used to the nocturnal feline escapades (NFE’s on the animal channel), I slowly drifted off to sleep. Until, that is, I was awakened by the high pitched buzz of a mosquito. There is something about my blood which makes me irresistible to mosquitoes. That’s why I had already been bitten three times by the time I learned that I was being hunted. In the next hour and half, I went on three mosquito hunting expeditions, treating our neighbors who may have wondered what was going on to the sight of me in my pajamas skulking about with a rolled up Restoration Hardware catalogue slowly inspecting the walls and ceiling for bloodsuckers. In between unsuccessful attempts to bring down the scourge of the skies, I tried to completely hide my body underneath the blanket, leaving only my nose and mouth outside the comforter. If you need any mental imagery, it was a bit similar to the cartoon bear hiding under the water from the swarming bees in the air, while breathing through a little straw in the water. Finally, at 1 a.m., I spotted my prize catch on the crossbeams to our skylight and the justice was swift and permanent. I knew I had the right prey, when a large dollop of bright red blood was splattered along with the mosquito. I smiled quietly to myself as I strutted off to bed, as I previously switched from using an Entertainment Weekly as my weapon, but I didn’t want to sully it and face Amy’s wrath at ruining the interview with Angelina Jolie.

After I had fallen asleep again, I was jolted out of bed at 2:30 by the loud sound of crashing wood. At this point, I knew that our ultra-religious neighbors to the north were starting a new crusade and had started by beating our French doors down to show us the true path. I looked out the window to confirm just this and saw that half of our back fence had fallen down. I was confused as to why something like this had happened, until I realized that this same fence had been leaning over because our rear neighbor’s compost heap was slowly pushing towards us. But still, a compost heap causing half of our fence to fall down at 2:30 in the morning? Come on!!! Safe with the knowledge that it was a bulging compost heap, and not marauding Christians from the North, I finally, at 3 a.m., fell asleep for good. Well, I slept until 5:55 a.m. when Malcolm slapped me in the face to let me know that he wanted some apple juice. Amy come home!

Paulie goes to the Doctor

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I went to the Doctor yesterday. A couple of friends of mine got the skin cancer and, as a tribute to them, I went to the dermatologist. I was a little nervous about going, since I regularly played sports outside (with no shirt on and no suntan lotion) when I was growing up. Now, my body looks like a mini-solar system, dotted with molar constellations all over the place. The other reason I was nervous was my junk. I have moles on my private parts, and the prospect of having someone not named Amy or Scarlette Johanssen rummage around my twig and berries is a bit terrifying. It is precisely this reason why the search for the dermatologist took so long. My skin doc had to be a) a woman b) who is older (but not old: old people scare the hell out of me) that c) looks like a troll. I ruled out a man doctor immediately because the image of an older man touching me downstairs reminds me too much of grade school. (Oddly enough, my 1st grade teacher was named, “Mr. Robinson.”) I thought I wanted a recent medical school grad, and secretly hoped that she would be good looking, that way I could double the number of good looking women who had touched my private parts in the last decade. I soon realized the horrible feeling of shame that would attach to getting an erection during a medical examination. An old ugly woman would avoid any nightmares while minimizing the risk of inappropriate genital swelling (IGS in the medical literature). I entered these parameters into my insurance’s doctor finder and found that the nearest doctor who matched my needs lived in Boise, Idaho. Not wanting to commute that far, I started calling doctors and asking, “excuse me, do you have any old ugly, lady doctors in your office who are accepting new patients? The trollier the better.” Lucky for me, I found one that did, and made my appointment.

After filling out paperwork, I had the age old dilemma of selecting a magazine in the waiting room. If I were all alone, I would easily grab the first US Weekly or People magazine I could find and scour the pages looking for embarrassing pictures of celebs. However, there were a lot of people in the waiting room with me, so I did the following: I scanned the generous selection of magazines while commenting, “Baron’s, got that one at home, New Yorker, don’t have the newest one yet, Time, too mainstream, ahh yes, Conde Naste Investor, I made $1,500 last time I read this one.” I had never heard of this magazine, so I figured it was definitely a step up from my normal trash. But since I have the attention span of a cocker-spaniel, I quickly slipped a US weekly inside it, to entertain myself during the wait.

The assistant, Claudia, called me into the office, and I dropped off the magazine at the table, commenting, “interesting derivatives strategy, I’ll call my broker.” I have no idea what any of that meant. Claudia took me back and asked me the same questions that were on the paperwork, which I found annoying. Are my written answers less trustworthy. Do they even read them? Next time I will consider putting wildly inflammatory answers on the forms, to see if they do actually read them. Any allergies? Your breath, you alcoholic deadbeat. Family history of cancer? My grandma had a severe cancer of the sense of humor. Never told a joke that one. Currently taking any medication? I drink the blood of the innocents.

I thought this appointment would be educational, as the doctor team would tell me about skin cancer and the proper way to avoid it. Interestingly, nothing of the sort happened. After asking all the same questions again, Claudia told me that you can get skin cancer in your finger and toe nails and that you could also get it in your anus. Huh? What made things worse was that Claudia had a severe accent or lisp, so I didn’t really understand it for a few seconds and right after she said this, she smiled and looked away. The specter of anal skin cancer loomed about for a while we both sat silently in the room looking at the wall. She then asked whether I used sunscreen, and when I answered in the affirmative, she said, “ya but you probably ushe shtlirty. When I replied, “no I use SPF 50, I like the banana boat no tears kind,” Claudia looked at my paperwork and then nodded after reading my answer to “occupation: proud stay at home daddy to Malcolm, the zaniest 2.5 year old you will ever meet!”

Claudia told me to take everything off except for my underwear and that she’d be right back with the doctor. At this point, I realized that I had made a grave error when preparing for the doctor visit. I had rushed to get Malcolm out of the house that day, and while I had remembered to brush my teeth, I had neglected to put on deodorant. Malcolm and I had gone to the park earlier that day and it was warm, so I was a bit sweaty. I leaned over and quickly realized that I stunk. Also, since I had not realized that my anus would be up for inspection, I was a little unsure about back door cleanliness. I am not saying I have a dirty butt, but I am sure you would agree that extra diligence is required for cleaning your ass if you knew that someone would be inspecting it up close that day. With my mind racing about these disaster scenarios, the doctor entered the room.

The sad thing is that the doctor, who much to my liking looked like a hobbit, entered the room and, without saying a thing, began going through my hair like a monkey. A lot of people would have been put off by this, but I love it when people, hobbit or otherwise, run their fingers through my hair. My eyes immediately went to half mast and I loved it. She eventually said “2 millimeters, pink, or something similar, before saying that “people can get skin cancer in a lot of places. I had to get something removed from behind my ears. Believe me, you don’t want that. By the way, nice to meet you, my name is Dr. So and So.” Well, at least we’ve met.

The good doctor proceeded to scour every inch of my body with a fancy looking glass measuring the size of every mole I had. This took a while. Of course, the first place she looked was under my arm pits, which by now stunk pretty good. I felt pretty happy about that afterwards. Lucky for me, I only had I mark that needed a biopsy. I say lucky for me, unless than one turns out positive and I have the cancer. That won’t be so lucky. We’ll see.

I also learned that I have a pink-grey spot on my nee nee (Malcolm’s words, not mine) that I should really pay attention to. Sweet! The doctor said I need to pay more attention to my weiner! That is the sexual equivalent of medical marijuana. I have spent the past few days vigorously inspecting my genitals for any change in the situation. I plan to continue this for the foreseeable future.

The ass inspection was quite the scene, and every bit as terrifying as I thought. The doctor told me to get on my stomach and then pulled my boxers off. She then bent over my butt and looked straight into my anus, like she was inspecting my tonsils from below. Not having embarrassed me enough, then proceeded to spread my cheeks to vary the view. Are you frickin’ kidding me? I wanted to curl up in the corner to cry.

The visit ended with the doctor freezing off some bumps that had developed on my hands. I didn’t realize until later that the freezing process turned relatively innocuous, small bumps into large, swollen, occasionally bloody blisters. Later that day, my hands looked like I had leprosy. Sweet, especially since I had a joint birthday party in my honor that night.

The doctor told me that I needed to make an appointment for the biopsy and then quickly left the room. Sitting on the examination table in my underpants, I remained in the room, wondering what to do next. After about five minutes, the good doctor returned and asked why I was still there. “Oh, I didn’t know what to do. Can I please put my clothes back on?” She told me I could go and I went out to schedule my next appointment. By the front desk was a cosmetics rep who must have been the best looking woman I had ever seen. I wanted to say something witty to her, but the only thing I was able to actually get out was, for some reason, the word “mutton.” At least she didn’t stare into my anus.

Odd Stuff Around Our House

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork, Uncategorized

I can’t ever seem to find anything I am looking for. When I search high and low for socks in my sock drawer, all I can find is a random assortment of receipts and old pen caps. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I am pack rat, and I have resolved to change my ways. My first step is to admit that I have a problem and disclose the true depths of my ways. Accordingly, here are the 10 weirdest things that we have in our house right now.

We have organic basil in our master bathroom. I know what you are thinking, “Paul, why organic?” Pesticides my friends, pesticides. Not sure how the organic basil got there in the first place, but it sure has spiced up our bathroom routines!

We have a tray sitting on top of our entertainment center which contains the following: a pink headband, an assortment of European power converters, duct tape, and about $2 in Turkish currency (even though we have never been to Turkey). Every time we clean (twice a year, before our superbowl party and before our oscar party) we move this stuff around, but we have never seen fit to actually remove the items from our family room. I assure you that the day we do, the need will arise for someone in a pink headband to simultaneously convert power and Turkish currency while repairing a hose out front. Wait, that’s just the pack rat talking. Sorry.

We have a huge glittery purple vibrator in our guest bedroom dresser. Amy received the sex toy (which looks rather straight out of a Harry Potter movie) for her 30 birthday and it has been relegated to the dresser ever since. At least, that’s what Amy has told me. OK, I just moved that one to the closet when I realized our parents use that dresser to store clothes in. I am not sure they appreciated seeing a vibrator where their jammies go. I think I just admitted that I have never seen a Harry Potter movie.

My old ID for the gym is in the buffet in the dining room. Each time I see it there, I laugh and think to myself, “what’s that doing there?” I then leave it in the drawer, and continue looking for whatever it was I was looking for.

I have a packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix in the pocket of my black suede jacket which I wore two years ago. I used to love this stuff, using it to flavor chicken dishes and sour cream based dips. I guess sometime along the way, I thought, “I should have a way to make dip on special occasions.” Guess that magic moment never came.

There is a box in my office that contains a baby rattle, leftover Christmas cards, a PM Dawn CD, paper measuring tape from Ikea and an IPOD. I couldn’t even begin to deconstruct all that, so I hid the box underneath the desk, next to the broken child car seat and the pile of checks from bank accounts that we have closed over the years.

We have a Stuffed Sole entrée from Omaha steaks sitting in our freezer. I find this especially troubling because I hate fish, and have no idea how a Sole got to Omaha in the first place. I will never, ever either eat or cook this, but it still remains in our freezer taking up space. I curse it every time I try to jam more ice cream or corn dogs in there.

We have about 35,000 35 mm slides from my parents sitting in garbage bags right by the front entrance to our house. Last year, I promised my parents that I would convert them into digital files, but I still have not done it. So, the first thing you see when you walk in our house is seven or eight garbage bags full of pictures. Can’t figure out why we don’t entertain more.

There is a JC Penney gift card we received from Amy’s grandma ten years ago sitting next to the phone and answering machine in our kitchen. I don’t know if JC Penney’s is still in business, but if they are, we have some free money there. Yay.

I was sure Malcolm’s closet had something absolutely bizarre in it. I was surprised to find nothing out of the ordinary there, old clothes and toys mostly. I was worried that the closet would stick out a little, so I moved the huge, purple vibrator there. Now it fits in with the rest of the house.

P.S. I just went in to my office to use the computer and next to my monitor was a jar of red chile flakes and a can of spray paint for touching up our kitchen cabinets. There is no hope for us.

Somewhere Along the Way, I Think I Married My Hairdresser

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

The guy who cuts my hair is named Lam. He has been cutting my hair for years, and I realized the other day that we are, in fact, married. Before Lam, I had a series of meaningless encounters with faceless hairstylists. The primary reason I floated along getting bad haircut after bad haircut is that I generally didn’t like to pay more than $10 for a haircut.

I knew I hit rock bottom when, at the dingy barber I went to at my first job out of law school, I picked up a People magazine and underneath it was a Swank magazine. Mind you, it wasn’t even “classy” porn like Playboy, but Swank, the pornographic equivalent of NASCAR or chicken fried steak. Porn at the barber? I guess that’s why you have to wear an apron. This discovery was similar to waking up the night after a drunken escapade lying next to someone who is hairier, smellier and has more toes and less teeth than you would otherwise choose in a mate. I stumbled home on my own walk of shame, feeling dirty inside (because I just had to sneak a peak at the Swank) looking like a rhesus monkey, because $12 at that barber will make you sexually interested, but sadly won’t make you look good enough to actually get sex.

Approximately a month later, I stumbled across a salon in downtown Oakland that looked brand new, which I thought might translate into grand opening specials. A youngish looking Asian male named Lam introduced himself to me and had me sit down on a brand new chair. Lam was effeminate, had outrageously fashionable hair, and weird looking clothes. I assumed he was gay. The whole first time with Lam appeared, for all intents and purposes, like we were on a first date. He began by giving me a 10 minute scalp massage that made me question my sexuality. I was equally impressed when he flashed his scissors around like he was in a Jet Li movie, alternating hands and coming at my hair from all sorts of different angles. I knew that was seriously in trouble when ABBA came over the radio and I started tapping my feet to “Dancing Queen” and shyly blushing when Lam kept telling me what a handsome man I was. It was just plain over when he gave me a second scalp massage during the rinse and something in my hair afterwards which appeared to do nothing other than make my hair smell like dance club sweat. I walked out that day $30 lighter, but, for once, I actually looked good and was slightly more aroused by Lam than Swank.

Things continued that way for a while. I would go in looking disheveled and stressed about life, then he would make me feel good for about an hour, and then I would leave and feel good for the next month because of a stylish haircut. I was in love with my hair stylist. Not the kind of love I have for Amy, but a simpler love, like the love for the guy at the coffee shop who gets your mocha just right or the sandwich lady who turns salami, mayonnaise, pepperjack cheese, and a dutch crunch roll into perfection.

I started to notice after about 4 years, that things had gotten old. Much like the married couple who get crippled by the routine, things with Lam had become stale. The scalp massages were brief, and it appeared that he was going over baseball stats in his head while he was doing it. What made it truly astounding was that he told me that he was married and was sending for his wife and kid in China. What the fuck, you have a wife and kid? You’re not gay? Well, that just takes the zing out of it don’t it. Now, its just two straight guys disinterestedly rubbing each other, while talking about real estate or kids. I could get that on C-SPAN. We had become an old married couple, and things for us were uninvolved.

Things have been cool for a while now. I don’t usually shower, shave or change my clothes before I show up. As if to let me know how little he has invested, one time he wouldn’t even take me himself, passing me off to his brother. When he does actually cut my hair, he usually rushes through it. One time he cut my hair using the electric shears the whole time. We are the equivalent of the Midwest couple who’s idea of date night is Monday Night Football at Hooters. The quality is not off, he is still solid, but it is no longer the 5 sense experience it used to be. I do not know what circumstances would cause me to go out looking for a haircut tryst, but if I walk by a place with coeds in spandex giving ridiculously bad hairdos, I am cheating on Lam in a minute.

Instead of picking my nose today, i picked some stocks

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

I had been looking at one of our mutual funds for some time. It was a “socially conscious ” mutual fund that tried to change corporate America into something that loves gay people and hates nuclear energy and tobacco. For a while, the fact that my money was out there trying to do good was enough for me, as the returns have been less than stellar. Now that i have to scrounge up change underneath the couch in order to fill up the car with gas, i have decided that i don’t care what my money is out there doing, as long as it is recruiting more money to come my way.

So, after figuratively flogging the dying hippie mutual fund for some time (occasionally selling it in order to pay for abnormally high credit card bills or property taxes, or as it was really the case, strippers in reno) i decided to get rid of the tie-dyed shareholder report and replace it with something that makes me richer. How do you pick a stock? I heard anecdotal evidence that companies on the fortune “Best Companies to Work For” outperformed the S & P by like a billion percent. I am sure that you will read somewhere that this is the silliest thing you could ever do with your money (other than throwing it on stage to strippers in Reno), as you should never create a stock porfolio strategy on something your wife put in a presentation to sell software.

I don’t care, i like the idea of making money from companies that treat their people well. Not because i like people, mind you, but rather because low turnover is good for business and happy employees are more productive. I am still not sure why this means i should buy stock in any given company at any given time, but this is the first time i have purchased stocks (rather than mutual funds) and i will allow myself some room for error.

So there I was, ready to make my fortune in “the market” (as we investors like to call it) and the top company to work for was google. I glanced over the fundamentals, much in the same way a blind french person wold review a McDonals menu in sanskrit. I knew that you don’t want you P/E ratio to be too high, but to tell you the truth, i liked PE in school, so i didn’t really care that Google’s P/E ratio was in the stratosphere. It was time to by some stock.

I am looking for somewhat of a balanced portfolio for the $10,000 i wanted to invest in my own stock picks, so i didn’t want to overcommit to google. After doing the math, i realized i could afford a whopping two shares of stock. TWO FUCKING SHARES? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The market involves billions of dollars flying around as sophisticated trades respond to market conditions and predetermined advanced strategies, and here is little ole me, in my pajamas and slippers, sitting at the breakfast table saying, “Hey world! Someone sell me a share or two of google. I’ll pay 50 cents less than what it is worth now!” Humbling indeed.

I did get the order filled, and actually, they had to break up my order in two! That’s right, my mammoth order had to split in order to make the market. I assume the transaction went as follows: a broker, much in the same way a short order cook freaks out when a large group arrives, sees my order and immediately gets on the phone and says, “Holy Shit! Paul Schwartz is making his move in stocks finally and he is trying to corner the market on Google! Let’s get on board with him and ride this thing all the way to the top!!!” Sadly, it probably went more like this: HAHAHAHAHA, look guys, this douchebag is trying to buy 2 shares of Google. Two Shares!!! Response: is he trying to use a coupon? HAHAHAHAHA. Say, i’ll give him one if you give him one, that way he won’t feel so bad.”

I needed to round out my portfolio with stocks, so i played it safe and picked other companies off the list that i had heard of, Nordstrom, American Express, Whole foods, mixed with some tech firms whom i recognized from the purchase of naming rights to prominent baseball/football stadiums. I figured you can’t really outsource hi-end retail places with good service, so those firms were safe for the time being. Also, i won’t feel so bad at spending $25 for strawberries and $30 for socks since ultimately i am helping my own bottom line. (Bottom line is an investor term i learned which refers to the last line of some report filed with the SEC and contains just enough errors and omissions so as not to be “material.” I tried to make sense of that all, but Ellen was coming on and i wanted to see her cry over someone taking her halloween candy away, so i quit.

I am not really a good personality match for waiting for “buy” orders to get filled, as i a habitual checker and have refreshed my browser page about 400 times in the time it took to write this post. After some minor price changes, we are now the proud owner of nearly $9,000 worth of stock! From now on, any comments i make about my “portfolio” will be references to these stocks. References to my “package” mean what they have always meant. Bring on the market!!!!