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.

One Last Kiss

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Living in France

As some of you may know, we returned last summer from a short stint living in Paris. By far, the most interesting thing about living overseas, especially in France, was the “little differences” that popped up every now and again. These differences were both good and bad; sometimes they lead you to a fantastic experience that you would never have expected, while other situations made you want to pull your hair out and hide under a blanket. Examples? We have many.

When Amy and I went in for our permanent visa cards, we left each other in the waiting room and then ran into each other in the hallway before our medical examination. Neither one of us had a shirt on. It was the least satisfying topless scene I have ever known. (Explanation: they do a chest x-ray to confirm that you don’t have TB.)

In order to get an apartment, you have to have a bank account. In order to get a bank account, you have to have an apartment. Getting either set up makes you look like a dog chasing its tail around and around and around. We were fortunate enough to get help from Amy’s work. Otherwise, we’d have been forced to live in Bois de Boulogne with the scary prostitutes and swamp rats.

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This is what it feels like when your head is spinning in Paris.

In Parisian restaurants, you can’t normally eat before 8pm, they won’t serve you steak cooked more than medium rare and leaving a huge tip is just about as gauche as wearing a fanny pack. True, if you are successfully able to navigate the dining scene in Paris you will be eating some of the best food of you will ever have, but make one mistake and the waiter’s eyes will roll and you will be ignored for the duration of your meal.

On the flip side, I took Malcolm to the doctor’s office once and the doctor answered the phone when I called, the doctor met us when we walked in her door and her first question to us wasn’t, “Have you filled out all these forms?” It was “What seems to be the problem?”

Also, their cheese is ridiculously awesome.

Having returned to the US, I thought I was done with all these charming nuances of French life. I was wrong. Herein lies the tale of me closing our bank account. For dramatic effect, I am replacing the seemingly endless strings of emails back and forth with a made up conversation between me and the bank officer. All of the hoops they made me jump through are real, though. Enjoy!

Me: Hi there. I would like to transfer the money in my French bank account to my good ole American account.

Them: Oui, monsieur. If you could be so good as to fill out ziss transfer form.

Me: Great! Here is the form.

Them: Ah, ziss is a problem. To transfer all of the zee money from zee account, you must first close the account. Please be so kind as to fill out zee following form.

Me: OK. Here is this form.

Them: Merci. Unfortunately, we are unable to close your account until you have destroyed your banking cards and your remaining checks. Please let us know when ziss is complete.

Me: OK, I have done it. Not really sure that was necessary since A) I have no idea how to fill out French checks and B) IF THE ACCOUNT IS CLOSED THE CHECKS AND FUCKING CREDIT CARDS WON’T WORK! Whatever it’s done.

Them: Ah, monsieur, very nice. We must have verification that the cards have been destroyed. Please send them to us.

Me: Huh? You want me to send you credit card scraps? What kind of perversion is this? You are actually demanding that I send you garbage through the international mailing system? Absurd! Whatever, I will play your little game. Here is the refuse you require.

Them: Monsieur, I am pleased to inform you that we have received your financial debris and will process your account closure.

Me: Finally! Please send me the money soon, as March Madness is coming and I need money to bet on basketball with.

Them: [Eye roll.]

Me: (after some more time has passed) Hello? Anyone there?

Them: Ah yes, Monsieur Schwartz. Vee need to verify your account closure request. Please give us your phone number so zat we may call you to confirm that everything is in order.

Me: Makes sense. All the shit that you just put me through isn’t really a good enough indication that I want my account closed. You should really verify that this is what I want to do. Ya, give me a call.

Them: Monsieur, unfortunately we need verification zat zee phone number you have given us is really your phone number. Please verify the verification number by sending us a phone bill with your name on it.

Me: What the fuck is wrong with you? You know what, just keep the money. I’m tired of your shenanigans.

{scene}

I still don’t have the money. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I kind of miss you France. You’re like a big stupid dog. I can’t get you do anything I want you to do, but you enjoy life and make things interesting. Plus, that cheese!

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

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.

10 Things To Do With A Sick Kid

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories

Malcolm was sick this week. Ordinarily, this would have been no big deal, and we would just sit around the house doing drugs (if only Ibuprofen,) and watching movies. This was not, however, a minor illness and we had some pretty big plans around here, so the week turned out to be quite the carnival of fun. If you are wonder what to do next time your kid gets sick, wonder no more!!!

1. Go to baseball camp. Most doctor’s recommend rest in a peaceful environment for sick kids. I say, “Bah!” to that. We sent Malcolm to baseball camp on Friday after mistakenly believing his fever had subsided. (That Ibuprofen really works!) When I picked him up from camp, his counselor called him the, “Strong, silent type.” I knew something was drastically wrong. Most of the kids leaving the ball fields that day had red faces because they were sun burned and tired from running, but Malcolm’s was due to a 104 degree fever. When sending your kid to camp with a dangerously high fever, I recommend putting him/her in long, black polyester baseball pants and a sweatshirt like we did, too. It surely makes them feel even worse.

Things not oft heard in an ER: "No seaweed for me, daddy!" and "Can you get the wasabi off of this tuna for me?"

2. Eat sushi in a weird place. (FYI, this does NOT mean jamming sushi in a non-traditional orifice!) After getting home from camp, Malcolm crashed. Even though he was sick and fell asleep at 4:30 in the afternoon, I decided we should keep our big plans for the night: eating sushi and watching the movie, “A Perfect Game.” When he awoke from his nap, his fever spiked to 104.6. To me, that sounded more like a FM rock station than a safe temperature for a human being, so we loaded Malkie and the sushi into the car and headed to the emergency room. We were all pretty hungry when we got there, so while we waited for our turn we ate sushi in the waiting room. Being the classy individuals we are, we used our “white trash chopsticks” (which is another way of saying our thumb and forefinger) as the preferred delivery system. Not all of the families in the waiting room were nauseous in the ER waiting room before we got there, but after we left surely everyone wanted to throw up. Oakland Children’s hospital waiting room people, you are welcome!

3. Take a road trip. The ER doctors assured us that Malcolm had a virus that would work itself out in a day or two, and that we were totally cool taking the week long camping trip we had planned. I am not sure if most people would look at their feverish, lethargic child and decide that the best course of action would be to load the kid in an RV for a five hour drive, but we are not most people. (Does that make us least people?) The trip was pretty weird. Malcolm just sat there. He didn’t watch movies or play games on my phone. For nearly five hours, he stoically looked out the window like an inmate being transferred to a new facility. Strange.

4. Eat fast food. I know when I am sick, I like soup. Some people like crackers. We fed Malcolm a cheeseburger and chocolate shake. Technically, the In And Out “burger” lacked a meat patty and was therefor a grilled cheese sandwich, but still. After four nights of sickness, we attempted to get Malcolm better by pretending he was no longer sick. It didn’t work.

5. Build a crappy fire. I brought a shit-ton of firewood for our camping trip after collecting the wood from a tree that a neighbor chopped down a few years ago. This wood was big and needed chopping, though. I tried using the hand axe we brought and the only thing I succeeding in doing was giving myself four blisters. A fellow camper took pity on me and gave me a better axe, but I still couldn’t break up the giant logs. Having seen the Shining, I thought that if if something is made of wood, you could chop through it with an axe, but evidently, this is not the case. I felt like the guy trying to cut a strip of beef jerky with a spork. I eventually scrounged a meager amount of kindling together and after setting it ablaze dumped some giant logs on top. This succeeded only in making a huge amount of smoke. Fun fact: smoke is bad for sick people. Malcolm was up all night crying and coughing, coughing and crying. We felt awful, but not as awful as Malcolm did. We were getting quite concerned for our little boy.

6. Don’t eat s’mores. Along with “Not Bathing,” s’mores are one of main reasons that people go camping. Malcolm adores s’mores and would probably agree to get really sick if it meant that he could have s’mores when he got better. Under the “pretending he is better” theory of parenting, we offered him s’mores the first and second night of the camping trip. He said (and I quote), “I don’t think I want any s’mores. I just want to go to bed.” Under normal circumstances, I would giddily accept such a request as it would inevitably mean that there were more s’mores (is that redundant?) for me, but this just broke my heart, much in the same way Hillary must have felt when Bill Clinton said, “You know, I don’t think I’m going to get any interns this summer.” Something was definitely wrong.

7. Eat burned bacon in a weird place. (Same thing goes with the orifice.) On Tuesday, I committed a cardinal sin: I burned the bacon. You can end up on whatever side you want with the whole “flabby vs. crisp” bacon debate (I am unapologetically pro-crisp) but no one likes their bacon burned. I burned the bacon, and as we sat down to eat breakfast on Tuesday to this sad reality, Malcolm had a coughing fit so severe that he threw up a pile of foam. I didn’t recall serving him any salmonella-infected foam, so I took this to be a bad sign. I freaked out and demanded that we immediately take him to whatever urgent care facility they had nearby. Luckily for us, there was a hospital ten minutes away, so we packed Malcolm and the burned bacon in the truck and made our way to our second urgent care facility in a week. While we waited for Malcolm’s tests, Amy and I took turns eating in the waiting room. The people there would have preferred that I eat sushi, telling me, “Dude, burning the bacon is a dick move.” I didn’t disagree.

Who needs a camping chair when they have perfectly good beds at the hospital?

8. Play games. We had planned on playing a lot of Scrabble and Yahtzee, but at this point in the week, we were forced to play “Chest X-Ray,” “Get an IV installed” and “The Blood Drawing Game.” After a spelling bee, we learned that the proper way to spell Malcolm’s malady was “P-N-E-U-M-O-N-I-A.” When the doctor told us this, I excitedly fist pumped and exclaimed “Yesssssss!” not because I wanted my son to have pneumonia, but because it meant that he had an illness that he would get some medicine for. Having a child with an undiagnosed illness is way worse than having a child with a diagnosed illness, even when the illness sounds serious and has two consonants in it that normally don’t go together. The doctors again told us that we could continue camping, but just to take it easy (and probably avoid crappy fires.) After filling up prescriptions at the local pharmacy, we headed back to the campsite.

9. Hang out with friends. Most people don’t expose sick children to their friends. We do (remember, we are least people!) We had traveled with our friends Marj and Tracy to the campsite and decided to stay for as long as Malcolm was up for it. Marj and Tracy were amazing, putting up with our stressed out psyches and even giving up their bedroom in the RV so that Amy and Malcolm could hide from the other campsite fires. I hope we don’t repay them by giving them pneumonia.

If you have to pick a place to be sick, we did pretty well.

10. Pretend you’re not sick. Malcolm get incrementally better each day and enthusiastically demanded we do such things as hang out at the beach for an afternoon and golf. He eventually got his appetite for s’mores back and even found the strength to play 10-20 games of Yahtzee a day, sometimes by himself when we all got tired of playing. He beat me at white trash bocce ball (two whiffle balls and a pink golf ball) and even played a little pretend baseball by throwing the whiffle ball into his camp chair. He still took pretty long naps each day and went to bed pretty early, but we felt better at the end of the trip knowing he was on the path to recovery. Sometimes pretending you’re not sick works and sometimes it doesn’t. It finally starting working on Wednesday, and our trip was pretty fun until we finally left on Saturday.

I am sure that in the days preceding your next vacation, you will actively attempt to get your kid sick. It really isn’t as glamorous as I make it sound. Give me a healthy, s’more eating kid, some decent firewood and crisp (unburned) bacon any old time.

Road Trip From Hell

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories

We visited Amy’s parents this weekend in Reno. It was awful. Very awful. Pretty bad. A real piece of shit. Mind you, it had nothing to do with Amy’s parents, they are probably my favorite in-laws, especially since they put up with our demands for unlimited free babysitting. No, we had a bad weekend, and it was all due to our horrible trip up the mountain and is resulting effect on all of us.

We knew that the weather was going to be less than stellar on Friday. Even so, the lure of unlimited free babysitting pushed us to go, even if it meant we were going to brave traffic and putting on chains to get there. Things went pretty smoothly until we needed to put the chains on the car. This, in and of itself became an obstacle, as Amy and I argued over whether we should pay someone to put chains put on the car or not. I wanted to feel like a “man” and do it myself and avoid paying $30 to have a “real man,” do it. The resulting fights involved many go rounds of raised voices and hurt feelings. In the end, I realized I fighting for the luxury of going out to the snow and wrestling with our car and cheap cables. Ten minutes (and $30) later, we were on our way.

After a grand total of ten minutes, the traffic ground to halt. We sat in our car, Malcolm watching his movie on a DVD player, and Amy and I reading our books under the dim traffic lights we were thankful to be close to. We were less thankful for the traffic lights when, after an hour, each of us peed in the snowbanks in full view of our neighboring cars. Is there anything more disconcerting than making eye contact with complete strangers while evacuating your bladder? I think not.

Traffic finally got moving again 30 minutes later, and for a short while we slowly made our way through the mountains. At the top of Donner Summit, we heard a loud bang and then a steady thumping noise. I pulled over and realized that our tire chain had broken. Not knowing what else to do, I called AAA, only to find out that they didn’t cover it since it wasn’t a “mechanical problem.” They did put me in contact with a tow company, but the tow company said that they were too busy to come and help us. They suggested we call a cab to deliver us some new chains. I told them to go fuck themselves.

After some quiet reflection of what our lives were going to look like for the next 20 hours or so, a highway worker stopped by to ask if we were alright. I said that we were not, in fact alright. He told me he could call the Highway Patrol and a tow truck, and I nervously agreed, knowing that he was probably calling the same company that I had just had a few choice words for. So we sat. And we sat. Getting a little hungry (and being on Donner Pass,) I was a little fearful that we would have to begin the arduous process of selecting which one of us we were going to have to eat. Being the fat one, I was worried that I would be the obvious choice. Fortunately, the burrito I purchased for Amy to eat as lunch was gargantuan, leaving her to continually snack on the old burrito carcass instead of my leg.

After an hour and a half, we called Amy’s parents to bring us a new chain and some bolt cutters to remove what remained of the old chain. They lived pretty far away still, so even this option was going to take quite a while to execute. Luckily, another highway worker came by in a little while and saved the day. In a move even MacGyver would have been proud of, he tied a bungee cord to the broken chain, and voila, we up and running again. After unsuccessfully attempting to hug the hairy, stinky highway man who saved the day, I realized that there was indeed something more disconcerting than making eye contact with strangers while you pee.

We met Amy’s parents who agreed to follow us as we limped toward Reno. At around 11 PM, we heard the sickening sound of the other tire chain breaking off. I didn’t know if it was the cheap Chinese chains we purchased five years ago, or the real “man” who may have installed the chains improperly, but just to be safe I cursed the chain installer and every Chinese person on the planet. Luckily, Malcolm had fallen asleep for this portion of our disaster trip, and although he lurched forward every now and again to see what the hell was going on, he was generally a non-issue for us.

My first thought was to just keep going at five miles an hour. Nothing bad could happen at five miles an hour, right? When Amy calculated that we were still six miles away from Jean and Scott’s house, she realized that it would be another hour at that pace. The thought of spending another hour in the car was about as appetizing as having your affections rebuffed by a hairy highway man, so we decided to make our way to a nearby gas station to try and replace the newly broken chain. We immediately proceeded to spin out on the off ramp.

Ah, the promised land...

It was now 11 pm and I was done. I was done with the snow, the chains, the real men, the public urination and Amy’s constant attempts to tenderize my thighs to ensure a plump, juicy meal. We dropped the car off at the Boomtown Casino, not really caring if we ever came back for it. We piled into Jean and Scott’s car and finally made it home. Home sweet home.

I wish I could say that the rest of the weekend went smoothly, but the lingering of effects of intermittent sleep and a midnight bed time turned Malcolm into a complete dickwad for the rest of the weekend. He was whiny and irritable, and acted like a two year old. Sadly, I probably acted the same way, yelling at him or anyone else when they didn’t agree with me.

I don’t think we will ever be invited to Reno again. To tell you the truth, as long as there is snow on the ground, I don’t really mind.

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.

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.

How A Phone Charger Cost Malcolm His First Day Of School

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Amy and Me

Ever heard of Chaos Theory? It stands for the principal that very small factors can have rather large long-term influences over things. (It is NOT, as some might suggest, used to describe the stain pattern on my pants.) Figuring prominently in Chaos Theory is the Butterfly Effect, whereby a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil and causes a tornado in Texas. Sometimes, the smallest things can set off a chain reaction of events that have drastic consequences. (My version involves a crab farting in Japan leading to a tsunami in Singapore. Oddly, the analogy hasn’t stuck.) Here’s how chaos theory applies to our lives:

The Friday before Labor Day, Amy left her cell phone charger at work. This meant that the only way she could charge her phone over the weekend was to use the charging chord in our car. She tried over the weekend to get a new charger, but like the hermaphrodite and the eunuch on prom night, sometimes things don’t work out. Imagine Amy’s panic on Tuesday morning when she realized A) she had a conference call, B) the conference call would take place while she was riding to the airport, and C) her phone was dead. Springing into action, she took her phone out to the Prius, turned on the car, and crossed her fingers that the phone would get enough charge to last through her call. Luckily, it did and Amy happily spent her day talking on her phone while traveling to New York.

Tuesday was also Malcolm’s first day of school. Even though this week was “Orientation Week” where he was only going for a few hours a day, we have been talking about the week for past months, and he was excited. Excited doesn’t really even capture the energy by which he was looking forward to going to his new school. The word I would use is enthusiasticalbedazzled. Imagine my sense of disappointment, then, when we got in the car to go to school, only to find that the car was dead. Evidently, when you leave a Prius on for extended periods of time, the battery gets drained, a fact not considered by Amy or I in the planning process of our Tuesday.

One day, he'll miss his graduation because I forgot to put the cap back on the toothpaste. I'm just not sure how...

I can tell you about the expletives Malcolm and I hurled Amy’s way upon discovery of all this, but it really wouldn’t do anyone any good. Luckily, the Prius was blocking the driveway, making our other car useless in our quest to get Malcolm to school. So, while Malcolm’s classmates were yucking it up together at the new student mixer, we waited for AAA, watched the guy jump start our car, and then drove around on the freeway for half an hour to recharge the battery. We missed our first day of school, and here is what I wrote to Malcolm’s school:

Dear Malcolm’s School, please excuse Malcolm from class on Tuesday. His parents are idiots. His car has a battery that only has enough voltage to power a flashlight. We will try to bring him to class tomorrow, but honestly, there is a lot that can go wrong, so I won’t make any promises. Kindly yours,

Paul

Somewhere there is a butterfly smiling (and a crab farting!). Beware of the consequences, people.

I Guess There Is One Thing I Will Not Tolerate In Our Bathroom

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Daddy Stories

I hate doing stuff around the house. Perhaps this is the reason that our house looks like a clutter bomb just went off and has more spiders in it than humans. Alas, I knew that my housework hiatus was finished when I found a mushroom growing in our bathroom. I’ve had mushrooms in pizza and mushrooms in soup, and I even had mushrooms on prom night, but mushrooms in the bathtub? Yikes!!! Somewhere, deep down inside me, the beer drinking slacker died, replaced by a mighty Bob Villa-inspired phoenix springing forth out of the ashes.

Daddy, that thing I just ate made me feel a little ... fuzzy.

I hadn’t really figured out how I was going to go about getting Malcolm to agree to go to Home Depot with me to begin the process of unfungaling and re-grouting our shower. Luckily, fate was on my side this day, as Malcolm threw a ball into his ceiling fan, causing the light  to shatter and sending shards of glass cascading everywhere in his room. I saw the opening and I drove straight through it: “Malcolm, now we are going to have to go to the hardware store and figure out how to fix the light. This is really bad thing that you have done.” Inside, I was beaming! Score one for the home team! Sure, this meant that I was going to either have to replace the light fixture on Malcolm’s fan (or worse, replace the whole thing!) but this paled in comparison to having a whining brat running all around the store, throwing merchandise everywhere and proudly informing anyone who would listen how much he hates my guts.

Malcolm was more than a bit puzzled as to why we spent most of the time at the store in the cleaning solution and caulking aisles. “Daddy, I thought we needed a new ceiling fan?” he asked, at one point. I assured him that we were almost ready to head over to the ceiling fans and constantly chastised him for why we were there, “Remember, you did a really bad thing.” Much to my amazement, this actually worked, and he was pretty well behaved while I read instructions on the back of anti-fungal cleaners. Sadly, Home Depot does not appear to sell replacement globes to the ceiling fans they sell, so I ended up having to buy a whole new fan. Even worse, the replacement ceiling fan we bought is awesome: the light is a mini-earth, and there are stars and moons all over the blades. I am sure Malcolm has taken away this from the experience: destroy something large in the house and it will be replaced by something way better. I’m pissed.

We got home and Malcolm got to watch me scrape all the infected grout out the cracks in the shower. To his credit, he did not ever say, “You missed a spot!” I offered him the chance to help, but he graciously declined, muttering something under his breath about not wanting to inhale potentially poisonous spores. Soon, I had the caulk gun out and was spreading sealer around like it was icing on a cake. Both of us were extremely happy as nothing makes boys giggle with glee as much as the words “caulk” and “gun.” Having assured myself that I had rid our bathroom of any further pizza ingredients, we piled back downstairs, started up a game of Life, and picked a date next year when we planned on replacing his ceiling fan. Remember that beer guy? He’s back!

You Think Your Day Was Bad

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories

It was Saturday, and my eye wouldn’t stop twitching. It wasn’t twitching in a good way like it does on Christmas or the morning of our fantasy football draft. It was twitching, and for a brief, glorious moment, I didn’t know why. Then, I remembered.

I remembered that our cars and garage had been ransacked the night before. We had been back in town for a grand total of three hours when someone came down our driveway, opened up each of our cars and rummaged through them, going so far as to open the one suitcase remaining in the trunk in a search for valuables. Finding nothing but my sunglasses the thief then opened our garage hoping to find some good loot. Luckily, both the garage and our cars are in such a state of disrepair that the thief was unable to find much of anything worth taking. Joke is on you, thief!

I cursed my inattention to detail, but then cut myself a little slack because we had returned from our trip at midnight the night before. Why were we so late? We missed our original flight home. We were scheduled to fly out of Kalispell, Montana but after arriving a whopping three minutes after they closed the ticket counter (still 27 minutes before our departure time!) the good folks at Horizon Air decided to cancel our entire reservation and, as luck would have it, there were no seats out of that airport for five more days. Fortunately, there were seats available in Missoula (120 miles away) so we rented a car, drove like Helio Castoneves through Arizona, and made a connection to Seattle. In Seattle, they got Amy on an earlier flight to San Francisco while Malcolm and I had to beg and plead to let us on the last flight out of Dodge. Fortunately, the gods smiled on us (owing mainly to my story that mommy was “in heaven now” and that we were still getting used to traveling alone) and we got two seats to Oakland. We got home late, but it was sure better than spending a night in Seattle.

I then remembered why we missed our flight. Actually, there were two reasons. First, Amy and her mom (on my insistence) waited in line at a Mexican restaurant for what seemed like an eternity for a lunch. Even if we hadn’t wasted 20 minutes on a couple of tacos and a quesadilla, we probably would have made our flight, which explains why I took it upon myself to “run into” a Super-Target for some Children’s Ibuprofen. For anyone who hasn’t been to a Super-Target, “running into” a Super-Target is just about as easy as “running into” the Library of Congress for a newspaper. We had no chance, really.

This looks too eerily similar to a mugshot that I have no doubt will one day be taken.

The memory of  why we needed the Ibuprofen then came to mind. Earlier that day, Malcolm walked right in front of someone throwing a bocci ball, opening a gash on his forehead worthy of a IFC combatant. His face stained with blood, we took him to a local trauma center to get stitched up. (Since it was Montana, I was glad that he wasn’t getting worked on by a taxidermist!) Malcolm was brave, but I was braver, as I had to hold his head down while watching the doctor repeatedly poke Malcolm’s wound with a needle to give a local anesthetic. Yowza! Somehow I managed to avoid both vomiting and crying. Maybe I would have if I knew what the rest of the day would hold for us. Looking back at it, I was lucky to get out of it with a stolen pair of sunglasses and a twitchy eye. Some of us didn’t make it through so well.

FU Glacier Park

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories

I hate Glacier National Park. I know I shouldn’t hate something as sweet and innocent  as a national park, but I do. (It’s like hating a puppy!) I hate Glacier Park more than I hate cilantro. I hate I hate Glacier Park like your in-laws hate it when you get to drunk and take off your pants. I hate Glacier Park, and sadly the feeling is mutual.

It wasn’t always this way. I madly pursued Glacier for a while. The first two times I went to Montana, our attempts to make it to Glacier Park were thwarted by snow. Both visits took place in June. Let’s recap. Snow. June. Obviously, some sort of conspiracy was taking place to keep me from the park. Fear not, I was assured, for if we visited just a little later in the season the weather would be fantastic and our trip to the park would be spectacular.

This year would have no excuses, as we were in Montana in August and my sources here told me snow in August was about as likely as coming upon a hairless moose playing an organ. On Monday, seventeen of us made our way to Glacier park, anxious to take in one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Our trek got off to a difficult start when we decided to all take a shuttle up the mountain together, but had to wait 50 minutes for a shuttle with enough space to accommodate us all. Undeterred, we slowly made our way up to the top of the park. During the ride, we began to sniff out some clues that the weather was not going to cooperate with us. One of the waterfalls (which, I was told, usually flows downhill) was actually shooting water uphill, owing mainly to epically strong winds blowing the stream 20 feet into the air. We also noticed that mountains behind us kept disappearing into a thick, dark storm.

At 4:30, we finally reached the top, at which time the shuttle driver informed us that a weather advisory had been issued for a storm that would soon blow through. Not really sure what to do, we quickly ran into the visitors center. Once inside, the skies really opened up, drenching everything in a cold, windy monsoon. Then the thunder and lightening started, followed shortly by a hail storm. It would have been really sad, except for being able to witness the steady current of underdressed hikers return to the visitor center drenched and freezing. Can anyone say, “Wet tee shirt contest?” I did, many times, although my fondest memory is not seeing the mother of two boys in a see-through tank top, but, rather, hearing her kids (while sobbing and shivering uncontrollably) shout, “WWWWWWhy ddddiiiiiddddd  yyyyyyyou mmmmmakkkke usssssssss gggggggo onnnnnnn a sssssssstuppppid hhhhhhhike? WWWWWWWWWWWWWeeeeeee hhhhhhhhate yyyyyyyou!!!!!”

Thanks for bringing me to Glacier Park, daddy.

After huddling in the visitor center for about an hour with the other thousand or so tourists trapped by the storm, we figured we were going to need to stand back in line to catch the shuttle back down the mountain. When we got in line there were 20 or so people in front of us. When the last remaining members of our group made it into line, there were about 75 people in the line. When the first shuttle came, it picked up a grand total of seven people. I did the math and at that rate, (with shuttles coming every half hour) we were going to be on a shuttle in 90 minutes, while the rest of the group would get back sometime around Thanksgiving. Luckily, the park figured out that they needed to get everyone off the mountain and sent every shuttle they had to pick up passengers. Eventually, we piled into a shuttle and the trip down the mountain was wet and cold, sad and quiet.

We finally got home without seeing anything. People still tell me that Glacier is a beautiful place to visit, but they are clearly full of shit. Glacier is an awful place that no one should ever visit, and I hate its guts. The next time we head up here and Amy’s family suggest we go up there again, I’ll tell them that prefer to do something a little more enjoyable, like a colonoscopy or maybe have a mountain goat chew off one of my fingers. Glacier, for all intents and purposes, is dead to me.

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.

The Lake Was Mighty Angry That Day My Friend

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories

My friend Leo has a sweet vacation pad in Jamestown, and he graciously invited some of the softball guys and their families up for the weekend.  We went and decided on Saturday to go boating on Lake Tulloch, thinking that we would spend a lazy day swimming and touring around the lake.  The weather was perfect, the water inviting and so we set out in our rented pontoon to find a slice of the lake that we could call our own.  Then, we saw the wave. 

A power boat pulling two adrenaline loving kids in inner tubes  barreled in front of us leaving a wake that looked like it was the size of the empire state building.  We were heading full steam right at it, and Leo, who was driving, cut the engine in a seemingly wise effort to slow the speed at which we hit the rapidly growing wall of water.  Instead, the nose of the boat dipped into the water, and the now tidal wave sized wake hit us like paddle hits a fraternity pledge’s bare ass.  I was sitting in the front of the boat, holding my friend’s seven month old, and held on for dear life as a wall of water smashed through the boat, destroying everything in its path.  People in the back of the boat watched in disbelief as the wave crashed off the ceiling of the boat (!) and swept through, drenching everyone and everything on the boat.  Some say that a second wave hit us equally hard, but I was so focused on not shitting my pants that I really didn’t notice.

The aftermath resembled the chaos of D-Day, with all of us wandering around looking shell shocked and wondering what to do.  Daniel, the father of the infant I was clinging to, jumped up, and, with the vacant look of an infantryman looking for a missing limb on the ground, muttered that the boat was going down and we needed to get to the back of the boat.  The parents of the six kids on board scrambled to make sure that their loved ones were indeed still on on board.  Of course the seven year old with us jumped up and down and immediately asked if we could do it again.

Daniel and Suzi’s camera got doused, and every towel, diaper, and extra piece of clothing we had on board was sopping wet.  A couple of articles of clothing had washed out of the boat, and, after retrieving them, we cautiously made our way over to the side of the lake to swim.  In an unsuccessful effort to dry out our stuff, we transformed the boat into a shanty town by hanging all of the wet stuff from the top and sides of the pontoon.  The people who drove by didn’t see the disaster strike, and stared at the ridiculous collection of towels and clothing that hung all around us.  We had a relaxing time the rest of the day, although talk of the rogue wave was never far from our lips. 

At the end of the day, we ran into a flotilla of young people in boats basking in the sun, playing loud music, and generally acting hip.  We didn’t really have the heart to join them, as we knew down deep inside that we had almost been done in by a motorboat towing some kids.  We cautiously made our back to the dock and kissed the ground upon our return to dry land.  Back at the sweet pad, we smoked cigars, drank whiskey, and reenacted the whole event as often as we could. I hope we can do it again next time!