September 2009


You never know what headaches you’ll come back to, such as the Shrink Wrap Gnomes.

Step 1: Shrink wrap the cubicle

It's flu season!

Keeping the office clean

Prevent others from leaving nasty messages

Wrapped up just like Christmas!

Secure the files

Prevent computer viruses and hacking

The view as he gets back

Surprise!

Step 2:

Step 3: PROFIT!

By the way, the boss loved it. Of course, it’s not like that’s his office.

Well, it’s almost time for another round of football. In high school, I anxiously awaited Friday night (or Saturday morning). There is a feeling of nervous excitement in preparing for the game, putting on my uniform. I always felt the butterflies in my stomach as I prepared for team introductions or to take the field. There was always the desire to represent my school and leave the field victorious. There was the utter disbelief the only time I caught a pass, turned, and saw nothing between me and a few short steps to the end zone. There was the subsequent mugging of my teammates as I held the ball aloft, hearing the cry of “Don’t spike the ball!” from the fullback, who was scared that I would lose my head, spike the ball, and incur a penalty that would wipe the touchdown off the board.

Unfortunately the victories didn’t come easily. In three years of high school football, the teams I was on won only 4 of 30 games. There was utter misery in the locker room at the end of my senior season, having lost every single game with only the first and last ones being truly competitive matches.

I didn’t play football in college. I was much too small for a football player at an SEC school, even Vanderbilt. I was eager to go to the games at Dudley field, though, as the football team marched out to a 4 and 0 record. It looked like a great shot of getting another winning record only 2 seasons after the last bowl effort. Heck, the team even beat the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Who cared if the Tide was having an off year? Vandy beat Alabama! We talked eagerly in the freshman dorm about making plans to go to a bowl game. Then everything came crashing down with the football team losing 6 of the last seven games. Heck, by my sophomore year, we were going wild when Vanderbilt TIED a game against Georgia! Thank God I didn’t choose Vanderbilt for its football team. Little did I know that it would be 20 more consecutive losing seasons for Vanderbilt football after I graduated. I don’t typically get emotional about sporting events, but I have to admit that I felt a few tears welling up watching the closing minutes of the replay of Vandy’s first bowl game in 26 years, and first bowl win in over 50 years. Perhaps the football team will get another bowl game before my ashes are scattered. I’m not holding my breath, though.

All of that futility has given me a great appreciation for the underdog. With all of these schools that are perennially ranked in the upper echelons, it gives a sense of enjoyment when they end up on the wrong end of the box score. Most of the schools have a smug fan base that just expects its team to win. The look of shock and dejection is priceless. In a sense, it is a good reminder that one shouldn’t rely on things totally out of his/her control to bring happiness.

I’ll be scanning the scoreboards on Saturday looking for those upsets to pop up and cheering for those underdogs to have their shining moment where they take something away from the big guys.

Yeah, I could get this, but I don’t think the wife would be amused.

Of course, on the flip side, maybe seeing a woman carrying a chain saw and reaching for a shot gun might give her ideas that would NOT be beneficial for my longevity.

What can prepare a couple for the wonders of parenthood? There are no “official” manuals out there. People never seem to let you borrow their kids for more than a week or two at a time. That’s WAY too short for a good trial run. When you try to keep them longer, the parents get the cops involved. You have to hire a lawyer…well, enough of that.

To prepare my wife for the possibility of boys (and girls), I think the best surrogates out there are dogs. As for me, I don’t need much preparation. That’s not a matter of arrogance. It’s more like a significant portion of my brain never stopped being a boy, and I have the garage full of tools to prove it. (The stockpiling of tools is an essay unto itself, though. We’ll save that for another day.)

When my wife and I got together, we each had our own dog. Heidi (a German Shepherd mix) was already 9 years old, and Gabe (an English Cocker mix) was just a few months old. Gabe had been living with my mother-in-law’s playful Golden Retrievers. Heidi was an only dog. It was a fur-covered Brady Bunch but with a much smaller cast. Heidi and Gabe were never best friends. Tug-o-war was the only game they played together, and Heidi never kept it up for long. However, they did not mind living in the same house, and Gabe was more than willing to pick up Heidi’s worst habit. Let’s just say that recycling is not always a good thing. Note: It’s a good idea to keep your eyes on the kids, especially when one is a trouble maker.

Heidi didn’t like to share toys. There was no way we could convince her otherwise. She would stockpile them in her kennel, and we would periodically have to retrieve them, since Gabe was wise enough not to venture into Heidi’s realm. The lesson to be learned here is to teach the kids how to share early on, otherwise they will bare their teeth at you when you try to take the toys away.

Gabe was (and still is) a momma’s boy. He is my wife’s shadow. He showed his contempt for me at the beginning by going after my shoes. Fortunately he never really went after the more expensive shoes. Lesson learned 1: Over-dependence will cause a child to act out in an anti-social manner. Lesson learned 2: Make sure you keep the good stuff out of the kids’ reach.

Well, Heidi passed away last year, and we went to the pound to find a new family member. We brought home Dee, a Belgian Malinois mix. Dee has been excellent in preparing us for the possibility of having a boy. She likes to dig in the dirt, loves to play in mud puddles, is always picking on Gabe, does not like to listen to my wife, is picky about her food, gets into everything, tears stuff apart, scatters toys all over the place, and is hyperactive. Okay, so it’s pretty much a description of me as a kid, except I did listen to my mom. If I didn’t, my dad would re-iterate in a much more *ahem* assertive manner. If having Dee isn’t preparation for male offspring, I’d like to know what is.

The dogs also have helped us appreciate the fact that they have different personalities, even if you raise them the same way. I think that it’s a grave injustice to children to treat them all alike. How many of us have heard, “Why can’t you be like your brother/sister?”

So for any parents I have in the audience, feel free to leave a comment and share what surprised you most about your kids when you became a parent.

By the way, will kids do tricks for Milkbones?