Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Open Letter to My Wife on Valentine's Day

Hi honey. This is our tenth Valentines Day together. And people said we'd never make it past two. Truth be told, I had four in the pool. Don't blame me, though. Your Mom took three and my Mom took one and two, but she knows what it's like to live with me.

Seriously... can you believe it?

When you think about it, it doesn't seem that long. How can 10 years have gone by so quickly? On the other hand, when you  think about it, it seems like an eternity. I think that's because things have changed in our relationship.

We don't stay up till all hours talking about weird stuff like movies and books and where we want to go and what we want to do and why "adhese" isn't really a word.

We barely make it till 10:00 these days.

Valentines Day started with cards and poems. Dinner at a nice restaurant, or at least someplace special to us. It ended with candles, in bed and falling asleep in each other's arms.

This year, it was Taco Bueno before rushing to Aidan's basketball practice. The creaking and moaning sounds coming from the bedroom are from me and my aching knee which makes noises all its own.

I don't want you to think I regret the changes in the relationship; I don't. It's a natural progression of breaking in and getting comfortable. Like your favorite flannel shirt.

By the way, that used to be MY favorite flannel shirt. Why the hell did you start sleeping in that, anyway?

Even your snoring is different. I used to find the soft purr coming from you so cute. It became comforting, and I couldn't sleep without you next to me, lulling me to sleep with the soft drone of your sleep sounds.

Now I keep the guest room bed made because it's more like the not-so-cute drone of my old shop vac. I know it's true when you say the shop vac would be drowned out by my own chainsaw-like buzz when I get into deep sleep.

One thing that hasn't changed is my love for you. You are more beautiful now than the day I met you. You've become your own person. You have brilliant, creative ideas. You still make me laugh. I still love to see you smile. Your touch is still electric to me.

Especially when it's your cold feet on my legs in the middle of the night. Seriously, woman. Wear some socks.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Ad Makes Smoking Look Cool

I record a couple of late night poker shows and watch them early when no one else is up. It's my "me time." One stands out as "badvertising," even as I'm fast-forwarding, so I've stopped to watch it a couple of times.

The Smoke Assist Electronic Smoking Device commercial runs on almost every break. It's not sold as a smoking cessation product, but something to help you legally look like you're smoking. It's branded outrightly as an oral fixation product. It even comes in a box that looks like a pack of cigarettes, the modern day gadget equivalent of the candy cigarettes of the 1960s.

The actors all say they're so amazed that it's just like smoking. But they all look very unnatural with the little vapor chimneys. They don't hold them right. They don't exhale right. The redhead woman looks like Gene Simmons breathing fire during the second KISS farewell tour.

One guy holds it like a remote control rather than a true cancer stick. "It's really smooth, too," he says. Of course it is! It's roughly equivalent to stepping outside on a cold day, holding your breath and breathing out real hard.

But there's something else wrong. They're all laughing and having a good time. There's something else amiss with the spot. They all just look... what's the word?


Smokers don't look happy smoking, so there's no sense of realism in the spot. I have an opinion as to why. It's because these actors are getting paid to act like they're smoking. No self-respecting smoker, even one who needs the money, will take the gig. They are nothing if not loyal, to their vice. They can't (or won't) act like this simulates really smoking, because it really doesn't. I've never been a smoker and I know it's nothing like smoking.

The commercial assertains that you can legally puff away anywhere on the little battery powered steam maker. Bars, restaurants, even at work, the commercial says.

Real smokers, in a show or rebellious solidarity, brave the elements in order to get their nicotine fix. They are as true to their habit as a mail carrier is to carrying out appointed rounds; neither snow, nor rain, nor recently passed city ordinance...

As they're out there in defiance of their two common enemies, pink lung tissue and clean air in public establishments, they'll have the time to look through the windows at a cloud of clean, water vapor floating the air. The smokers have a common thought. "That guy is the biggest douche I've ever seen. I hope he forgets to exhale that water vapor, it sits in his lungs and he develops pneumonia."

Of course, the militant non-smokers will see him looking like he's smoking and walk over and say in a very non-judgmental way: "Why do you do that to yourself? It's so dirty and unhealthy. Do you know what you're doing to your body? Smoking cuts nine years off your life. Second-hand smoke is even more dangerous and you shouldn't expose others to your habit. How do you stand the smell on your clothes when you get home? It's just disgusting and it's against the law to smoke in a public place. Could you please step outside with the rest of the dirty people?"

"Ma'am, this is an electronic smoking device. It's battery operated. It looks and tastes like smoke, but I'm exhaling clean water vapor. So it's not against the law," our hero explains.

"Oh," she says, "You're not a real smoker. You're just a douche!"

Deep down, he knows she's right. But he takes another drag off the modified squirt gun in rightous indignation. As the water vapor cloud fades into nothingness, along with the last shreds of his dignity, it's time for reflection. I mean, when a militant smoke nazi calls you out, you've really got to take stock of your vices.

Even your fake vices.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Cornstarch Incident

When we owned the bar, the boys were still really young. Although they weren't completely self-sufficient at 3, they could move through the house and get what they wanted, even when they shouldn't have.

They could also open the baby gate. It was a team effort, as I found out later. Aidan would stand on the foot release trigger thing while holding onto the rail, and Tristan would swing the gate open.

But until that morning, I was under the impression that the child safety gates were child proof.

I lived by the adage that when the boys slept, I slept. I ran a bar, after all, and was up until 3 or 4 a.m. They could sense when I needed sleep and when I didn't. If I needed sleep, they were like insomniac meth heads with a Starbucks gift card. If I didn't need sleep, they slept till 8.

Of course, I was usually up at 6.

Like I said, we owned a bar. It got hot; I was hauling ass most of the time. Sometimes, there was chafing involved. Hey... it happens. I kept a box of cornstarch on my dresser and used it when needed.

It was a Friday morning and after closing on Thursday night, I stayed late to talk to a friend who was going through a divorce. I walked in the door at 3:30, showered and went to bed. Ashley got up and moving and I slept, hoping the boys would sleep in until 8, as they would do occasionally.

Sensing that I needed sleep, as soon as Ash closed the door to leave for work, they came in ready for breakfast at about 5:45. Moaning about my luck, I drug myself out of bed and started my day, looking forward to nap time.

I made it through the morning on a steady infusion of diet coke and Spongebob Squarepants. I also got them lunch early so they'd go down for a nap early, something my Mom taught me.

It worked. I got them down for a nap about 11, and as soon as they were good and asleep, I went to bed and was out.

You know those dreams you have when you actually feel something? You wake up and there's a reason you were feeling what you were feeling. I had a dream that I was sitting on the dock and dangling my feet in the water watching the boys splashing around.

I woke up about 12:15. There was no way I should be waking up less than an hour after getting the boys down. They usually slept two or three hours.

At that point, I noticed that there was a strangely cool sensation on my feet. I kicked at the covers to get them warm and a cloud of powder erupted from the end of the bed.

What the. . .

Remember the scene in The Godfather when they sent a message to the studio mogul who won't give the god son a role in a new movie? Right... the infamous horse head scene. I imagine myself looking like Jack Woltz as he discovered his prize thoroughbred's head in bed with him.

I pulled at the sheets. I made inderscernible questioning sounds. I think I may have stood up on the bed at one point. I definitely screamed "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" at the top of my lungs.

My feet... hell, my legs up to my knees... were covered in cornstarch. That whole end of the bed was covered. There was some on the floor. There were three tiny, perfect, cornstarchy handprints on the footboard. There was cornstarch on the dog's bed and a half-dollar sized dollop of the stuff still on her head. She looked at me as if to say "If you can't control those little bastards, take me back to the shelter. This sucks!"

The almost empty box of cornstarch lay on its side next to a pile of the powdery stuff that invaded the closet. I spewed a string of expletives all the way to the garage to get a broom and dustpan. I swept under the bed and in the closet. I shook out the dog bed and sheets took them down to the wash.

I mopped. I returned to find that there was still more powder. It took three times to get all the cornstarch off the floor. It was ridiculous. We moved the bed one day to rearrange the room. Little wisps of the stuff fell off the bed's frame to the floor. Ash and I had a laugh about it. It had been a couple of months and I could laugh about it.

To this day, we still find evidence of "The Cornstarch Incident" in the cracks of the oak floor more than four years later.