Oh BFD! (Bad Food Decisions)

I had a great conversation last night with a few neighbors. (What a great hook for a blessay! That’s a blog essay, not to be confused with a bletaphor, blumor, or blotographs, which will come later. But wait, there’s more!)  And so now I’m going to tell you about this conversation whether you like it or not. (Always a good idea to berate your audience in the first paragraph.)  But I regress to some seriousness.

We spoke about how important it is, imperative really, to eat well, especially in the morning.  Not how a poor diet effects weight gain or loss, or about cholesterol, or anything else in the canon of dietary morals that we’ve all heard so many times and don’t hear anymore.   I’m gonna shove that bolus of saturated fat called a breakfast burrito into my face despite knowing it could precipitate heart failure.   I’m gonna smoke that pack of cigarettes despite the huge warning on the label.  Rather, it was about blood sugar.  But even that is perhaps too science-ish.  I’m talking about how eating makes you feel – physically, and even emotionally.

[By this point, you may have noticed a slight departure from Childishman’s normal banter.  Well, maybe that’s all part of being a childish man.  You want me to go this way, so I go that way.  Maybe out of spite or just to give y’all an early Christmas surprise.  You’re welcome!  But I won’t get into the details of blood sugar management nor the Hypoglycemic Index.  You probably know it or can it within seconds if you care to.  Back to my tale.]

I felt guilty about the three pieces of pizza I’d just eaten because I know better.  Both Thanksgiving and my 10 year anniversary tour have passed so I can’t use those as excuses any longer and hope to look at myself in the mirror without disgust, at least not without electroshock therapy or some serious plastic surgery.  I intended to get my shit together again.

When I awoke this morning, I got out a breakfast casserole we’d made over the weekend (ingredients: eggs, cheese, sausage and about a loaf of cheap white bread), popped a serving in the microwave and ate it before the kids came down and I rushed them off to school.  By the time I’d dropped them off, I was hungry again.  I needed a few basics from the store anyway, and as luck would have it (but it’s not luck at all is it!) there’s a refrigerator case right inside the entrance with prepared foods – old sandwiches, hot dogs wrapped in foil, and (dum dum dum) biscuits.  Chicken biscuits, a dollar each.

Chicken WrapperHmm.  I shouldn’t.  I’m pretty sure the reason I’m already hungry is because of all the bread in that—

But they’re only a dollar!

I dunno. I can’t even see what the biscuit looks like since it’s bundled in some kind of fishwrap.

Only a dollar. And hungry we are!

I can’t even read how to prepare it.  Is that font size legal?

It’ll be fine. It’s only a dollar!

You know I bought it.  When I got home, I had to take a picture of the back label and download it to my computer so I could blow it up in order to read how to heat up the damn thing.  And when I finally read it, it warned me not to take the biscuit out of the wrapper before microwaving.  One might think this is for uniform heating, but this is basic consumer psychology.

The makers of this processed food product know well that any of us would run batshit crazy out of our homes and move to Canada if we saw what one of these uncooked things looked like.  This response is practically hard-wired in humans.  And they also know that if they can get us to nuke the crap out of it – and I mean that not only to be crude but also literally – if they can get us to zap the well-developed civilizations of bacteria inside that disc of chicken mush, which also releases a smell reminiscent of actual food, then they’ve got us.

Well, at least they got me, for 320 calories and 44 grams of carbs.

The point(s) is/are:  I’ve done this before.  I’ll probably do it again.  I’m a professional (numb nut, that is).  Don’t try this at home.  And, finally, the best intentions, ideas, and knowledge don’t mean a damn thing if I don’t pay attention to what it feels like to do this.

Bathroom ReadingAt least I’ve got a well-stocked shelf of good bathroom reading material.  Because I just might be there awhile.

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Complimenticus Interruptus

“You look good, honey,” my wife said to me yesterday morning with a smile.  “You’ve really slimmed down before our big trip.”  Although I had lost weight and girth (and doing so before our anniversary trip to a far away beach was a motivator), the comment didn’t feel right.

Oh no.  No, no, no,” I refused.  “The pants are big.  Biggest pants I have.  And the shirt is baggy.  Fashion slimming technology.”  She turned away with a whatever look.

Apparently, I’m just as averse to having my goodness pointed out as I am the badness.  And as I stroll back through some painful memories, I can see this is nothing new.

On my very first weekend at college, a market of sorts was held in the main campus hall.  They sold t-shirts and cassette tapes, including bootlegs of Jimmy Page experimenting with Zeppelin’s sound quality.  On this one he’d placed a microphone deep inside a toilet, and on that one inside a heap of tomato aspic, etc.  I bought those tapes by the dozen.

And, of course, there were posters of all kinds – black lights, Ansel Adams, sports, babes, metal bands – anything to fill the empty spaces on dorm room walls.

I was looking at an M.C. Escher print, probably the now-ubiquitous sketch of the staircases or the globe-reflected self-portrait.  And a girl, very cute, more than cute in my memory, walked up behind me and leaned around my shoulder.  “I like that one too,” she said.  “Wanna see what I really like?’ She pulled me by the arm over to another table.  What is she doing? I thought.  I don’t even know who this girl is!

She picked up a glossy print of two kittens and said “I like this one. What do you think? Do you like cute, little, kittens?” I remember her lips were like those of Marilyn Monroe, sparkly and full.  And the words cute, little, and kittens were exhaled more than spoken and seemed to take minutes to float from her mouth.

I said nothing, simply because I didn’t know what to say.  And this is remarkable because the arc of my life since has been distinctly plotted by a series of failures to keep my damn mouth shut despite my complete ignorance.

And I swear to whatever god you worship that she rephrased her question and asked it yet again:  “Would you like to see this poster on my wall?” Again with the lips and breath and Whoosh!

Then something somewhere in that mass of grey pudding in my head squirmed.  I knew this was friendly contact, but did that mean there was an implication that she was compli…? Did she….?

“Oh, no,” I said.

“Are you sure, cuz I kinda like it?” she said.

“No way,” I said.

And as she turned away, she had that look.  The whatever look that I’ve gotten a thousand times since.

Sa-wing, battah!

So, even if only in the fantasy reel that plays and replays in my head, I will have a do-over, please, and return to that lovely girl who threw me a pitch so fat that I might still learn the joy of swinging.

“Would you like to see this poster on my wall?” she asks.

“Yes. Yes I would,” I respond without hesitation.  POW!

Now, does anyone know how to get to first base?

1986, It Was A Very Good Year

As I sat at my desk early this morning to finish this entry, a cockroach skittered out from under the phone right at me.  I screamed and jumped back like my four year-old does when her brother sticks a green bean in her ear, knocking into the work table that holds up the piles of things I never get around to.  I would have run upstairs to get my wife to come kill it but she is out of town.  Perhaps a pounding heart, shaking fingers, and paranoid thoughts is the best frame of mind for editing this piece anyway.

I recently found an old diary and some entries in it from 1986.  I was horny, awkward, and 15.  Not so different from today (Oh my god, too much information!)  A few entries caught my attention:

July 2: I am playing the trumpet again and I am also taking lessons for the 2nd time.  I really want a beautiful woman.

July 11: We went to Six Flags today and it was pretty fun.  I am really beginning to appreciate the music of U2.

July 12: We went to the Stone Mountain laser show.  I am really getting big on U2.

July 15: I am in love with Heather Locklear.  I also got my 2nd paycheck for $234.

July 16: I watched “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” on TV tonight.  I still burn for Heather Locklear and Kathy Smith.

July 18: Me and a friend put cans in the road so cars would have to swerve.

July 19: Tonight I fell off a 12 foot high ledge and landed in the creek on my left leg.  Nothing’s broken but I got scraped bad.

Childishman’s explanation on the entries from the 18th and 19th:  Although not the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, it ranks.  Once night fell, me and my friend would drink a 2-liter bottle of Coke and went wherever the night took us.  You can see from the entry on the 19th where that place was.  Another brilliant idea we got from these moments was to crawl through the drainage tunnel underneath Interstate 285, about 100 yards, in total darkness.  But on these nights in particular, we re-filled the Coke bottle with water and placed it in the street.  When a car that was driving too fast (vigilante justice was how I rationalized this stupidity) came around the bend, the driver wouldn’t have enough time to stop before hitting the bottle and spraying water over the car.  We would watch all this happen from behind the shrubs guarding the front patio of my house.  After a few runs, we knew that we needed something more life-like so I ran inside and found the red food coloring, which we added to the bottle in hopes that the poor speeder would think they’d hit a possum or a cat.  Eventually, a driver took the bottle as opposed to leaving it on the road for our easy retrieval and re-use.  The following night, with a new and freshly emptied bottle in possession, we set our trap in a different location – the bottom of a curvy and very steep hill.  On one of the first attempts a car came when I was still in the road.  I dashed off to the side and jumped/fell over the wall into the creek below to get away – this instead of just standing on the side of the road playing stupid, something that should have been fairly easy for me to do.

By the end of the summer, I had stripped all entries that were personal and only transcribed sports scores. “Atlanta came back from halftime 20-7 to beat Tampa Bay Bucs 23-20” and “Falcons beat LA Rams 26-14 today.  Our record is 5-1 and scoring is 129-88.  NL Playoffs – Mets have 2 games, Houston as 2, AL – Boston has 2, California has 3.”  I must have felt that an adult me would really want to know all this crap.  And surprisingly, I do.

A Huge Tooth Fairy

First, know that my team (yes, there’s a team of them so that should tell you something) of dentists and hygienists rock, hard.  They’re top-drawer, top-notch, top-whatever the hell other lame cliche you can conjure, just in case some of you know who these people are.  The following is substantially true.

Just a few hours ago, I settled in to the high-backed recliner and looked out through the large windows in my usual cleaning room.  A cool and sunny morning with the moon, although 240,000 miles away, appearing quite clearly like a wad of gauze hanging over the spire of the nearby Baptist church.

“I brushed my teeth this morning before I came in,” I said in hopes of impressing my hygienist whose name I can never remember.  “Longer and harder than normal to make the cleaning easier.  And I flossed, which I can never remember until I come in. It’s kinda painful when I haven’t done it in a while,” I noted while my tongue gently probed my gums, which had swollen significantly since leaving the house.

She wheeled her chair over to the doorway, leaned around the thick walls into the next room and said to someone, “I’m gonna need more cotton rolls.  Yep, just gimme that whole box.”

As she rolled back to me she said, “you really didn’t need to do that,” and began unpacking the box, adding more of the little swabs to a pile already on the tray.

“Oh, it’s no problem.” I thought I saw her face bunch up around the sides of her mask but maybe she was just itching her nose.

“Okay, we have you down for a cleaning, and x-rays today…” she said.

“Yep, that’s me.  Easy peasy!”

“…and a cavity.  No, sorry, make that two cavities.”

Trying to play it cool after fishing my tongue out of my throat, “Oh yeah? Huh, I don’t recall that.”

“We marked three and eighteen for replacement last time.  Was no hurry so we scheduled it for this time.  They’re the old silver fillings that often need to be replaced,” she explained.

“So you’re saying it’s not my fault.  Bound to happen sooner or later? That’s what I can tell my wife?” I asked to clarify that I was on solid legal ground.

“Yes, the material used for fillings is better now.”

She proceeded with the x-rays and the cleaning, and after tying up the trash bag full of reddened cotton rolls and giving me a towlie to wipe my face, she said I needed to move to another room for the cavities, and maybe something about needing to clean up her room more before her next appointment.  “But I really need to go pee,” I said. “To the bathroom down by the elevators?  I promise I’ll be back.”  I really did need to go.  As my family knows well, my bladder is the size of a lentil.

While in the bathroom I sent a text to my wife about the turn that my appointment had taken.  Her response was immediate.: “You’ll do great…you’re a big boy.”

Once I got seated the dentist came in, looked over my chart, and swabbed some pink slime to the base of my gums inside my right cheek and said, “I think we’re going to do this one on the left, number eighteen, without Novocaine.”

“Pardon?” I said, feeling my tongue trying to retreat back behind my epiglottis.

“A Novocaine shot on that side would be more painful than just doing without,” he explained.

“Uh, but you should know I’m a huge pussy.”

“Trust me.  The shot would be worse.  On eighteen I’d need to block the nerve to your whole jaw.  If you feel any sensitivity at all, just raise your left hand and we’ll do the Novocaine, OK?”

So I practiced a few frantic waves of my hand, closed my eyes, and put my head back.

Even more surprising to me than learning that nine metal rods and a suction tube could all fit in my mouth at one time was that the unmedicated side actually hurt less than the other.  Maybe I was a big boy!

After finishing, he got up and said see you next time.  And as I got out of the chair, I saw that my hands had sweat out a crescent-shaped blob, like fat smiling lips right across my crotch.  Nope, still a huge tooth fairy.

Just The Right Word

Anyone who has read even the small sample of writings here has likely noticed some colorful language. I feel it necessary at this early stage to provide an illustration to explain at least one reason why.

A few times a month I stop by a local breakfast place after dropping off the kids at school (Here, I mean this more literally and not figuratively.  The figurative might indicate that I just sat on the toilet – a variation of “dropping the kids off at the pool.” Just felt I had to clarify this for some of you people – you know who you are).  As usual, the owner was working the counter and he asked one of the servers, as he went to refill a carafe, “is that coffee already grounded?” Then he wrinkled his brow and asked, rhetorically and to no one in particular, “is ‘grounded’ even a word?” It was my lucky day because the rhetorical question is the only way I know how to join a conversation.

And to make this opportunity even sweeter, his question was about language, about which I fantasize being the next Strunk or E. B. White, even though I don’t even know my colon from a participle in the ground.

So I whispered to him, as he passed by again, “hey, whenever I don’t know the right word, I just use ‘fuck.'” He looked at me but didn’t say a thing. And then my brain told me that I’d just suggested to a successful businessman that he ask one of his employees, in front of a dozen or so customers, “is that coffee already fucked?”

Maybe he didn’t hear me, but I never did get that hot cup of freshly fucked coffee to go.

Geeking Out at the Diamond

Before I had any thoughts of my son playing baseball, we had heard that one of the local youth baseball leagues was pretty competitive.  I took this to mean that winning mattered a lot to the kids and that yelling and bursting forehead veins mattered even more to the dads.  I usually try to avoid this nonsense and was pleased when things seemed pretty calm and fun when my son joined the league over the summer.  That is, until people started looking at me sideways.

Over the last half-dozen games or so, I have realized I am becoming one of those dads.  But it wasn’t just one bizarre or inappropriate behavior, rather a Forrest Gump “never know whut you’re gonna get” kind of thing.  Here’s a sampler (there’s clearly some funky stuff going on with the font colors in this WordPress theme, so please bear with me):

The Elbows-and-Knees Dad – This dad, although generally laid back, provides two pieces of guidance to his son when he comes to the plate – 1) “Keep your elbows up,” and, 2) Immediately before the pitch is thrown, “bend your knees.”  The result is a batting stance that looks like a woefully undersized Atlas trying to hold up the sky with a stick, along with the facial expression of extreme discomfort that one would expect from holding such a posture.  And when the pitch comes, the boy chops down at the ball and finishes in a camel spin, foot high in the air, for which the Canadian parent sitting in the opposing bleachers gives full marks.  A close cousin of the Elbows-and-Knees dad is the Tuck-In-Your-Shirt dad.

The Primate – This dad stands up against the fence near home plate so that when his son does something, like walk back to the dugout at the end of the inning, he can jump up and down in plain view of the child and all his teammates and yell something incomprehensible as if channelling his inner baboon who’s just caught a glimpse of a nearby female’s bright red fanny.

The Congressman – Knowing next to nothing about a topic doesn’t stop this dad from speaking at great frequency, length, and volume about it.  A parent at a recent game might have seen this dad yelling “Throw the ball!  Get it out of your glove!  Get rid of it quickly!” even though his son wasn’t even on the field at the time.

The Consoler – When a child falls down for any reason, such as from a lack of balance while tying his shoes, these dads run onto the field and surround the boy, asking him repeatedly, “are you ok? Are you sure you’re ok?” until the boy believes he really is injured and crumbles to the ground in a heap of trembling and sobbing.

The Thespian – This dad appears on the scene in a rush and just before game time.  But his real identifying characteristic is his use of language.  For example, instead of encouraging his son to run hard through first base, he will shout “All Attendant Haste!” with a tear in his eye and hand on his breast.

The Clapper – This dad claps not only the loudest but he must also be the last one to stop clapping.  On occasion, he will give one single loud clap for no apparent reason, perhaps just to ensure he got in the last clap. Having two Clappers at the same game can result in a competition similar to two Japanese men of honor bowing to each other.