Category: Family Chaos

Conversation Starters

I am old, and I am old fashioned, I have accepted that and come to terms with it.  Perhaps that is why I am so amazed at what happened just the other day.  My wife and son were grocery shopping and the boy picked up what he thought was a deck of playing cards.  He knows we play cards a lot at our house and the deck was very inexpensive.  When he got them home he looked them over and said to me “Dad, look at these cards” taking the deck from him I started turning the cards over, they were Conversation Starter Cards for Mealtime with the family.  I kid you not and here are some of the conversation starters, randomly picked by yours truly.

“If you could make a reality TV show what would it be about?  Whom would you have your cameras follow?”

“Would you rather be able to live without sleep or live without food? Why?”

“What kind of animal are you most like? Why?”

I could not believe first of all that somebody would actually make and sell these, but that someone would actually buy them and use them.  Are we that out of touch with our families nowadays that we need “cue cards” to have a conversation.  What the heck has happened to our society.  As I said I am old fashioned and as part of that old fart mentality my family eats dinner together, at the dinner table, not in front of a TV and nobody is excused from attending.  Here are some conversation starters I have for my family, and I didn’t get them from a card purchased at a grocery store.

“Son, how was school today?  How was that Language Arts Test? How are the teachers doing?”

“Sweetie, this is delicious, how was your day today? (this was when I used to be at work all day)

“Son, I read an article the other day on bullying at school.  Are you having trouble with any kids in your school, on your bus?  Are you bullying any other kids? (this one leads to a whole new area of conversation starters if answered in the affirmative).

“Guys, where do we want to go on vacation this year?”

“Son, I heard that 3 kids in your school got in trouble for having drugs with them, lets talk about that a little”

I know, I am a throwback to another era, when families all spent time together, when it was not “uncool” to have your parents interested in what you were doing, who your friends are, how you are doing at school.  I want my wife and son to know that I care about them and I am interested in their lives.  I want to make sure my son is doing ok in school, I don’t expect all A’s just effort and good behavior.  I want to make sure that he is ok on the bus and that he is not being hassled by some of the out of control kids that run loose nowadays.  I want to also make sure that he is behaving himself and not doing anything to upset other kids or teachers either.  Have we really sunk that low that we need a deck of 99 cent playing cards to give us reason to talk to each other?  We are not three people who have just met at a restaurant, we are a family and we better know more about each other than what kind of animal we each would like to be.

Please tell me I am not alone on this one.


A Man’s Life

A few years ago I was asked by my wife the dreaded “will you go to the store” question.  this question in and of itself is quite dangerous for us males, as we have a habit of not getting exactly everything on the list.  Yes I need a list, I am male after all.  My wife, well aware of my poor memory, already had a piece of paper with the item(s) listed on it and stuffed it in my hand.  “Don’t be long I have dinner cooking”.  I looked at the crumpled note in my hand as I am a good husband and always repeat back to my wife what she is asking me to get, even though it’s on the list.  “Uhmm, feminine pads, ultra thin, with wings, unscented.”  What? Yes, it was the dreaded item that men fear shopping for the most.  Not that it emasculates us just that it is something out of our area of expertise.  We are pretty good at potatoes and cans of soup, heck we are really good at milk and bread, but feminine needs, well I don’t speak for all men, but that is out of my comfort zone by a long shot.

Grumblings something under my breath I walked out the door.  “Don’t forget to go to Publix” seems she uses the store brand, frugal she is.  Muttering something I drove off, my hand still holding the list, well it wasn’t a list it was a single item, with a paragraph of a description about it.  I pulled into the parking lot, taking a deep breath I headed into the store.  I was not going to let this fluster me I thought, I’m going on the offense for all the males of this world that are suckered into this task by their wifes, lovers, finacees, sisters, mothers, whatever.

Looking up at the aisle markers, finally finding the Feminine Needs aisle… I like that name, yet I don’t ever see “Masculine Needs” aisles in these stores.  There were a few women mulling around the aisle, on the left side were the “packages” and on the right side were all kinds of diapers and baby stuff.  Bravely, I walked right into the middle of the small group of women and started looking at what had to be several thousand varieties of small packages of feminine pads.  Checking my list I eliminated several types because they were not winged, oh those are scented, not those.  I am sure I was muttering to myself.  One woman shuffled off down the aisle without buying anything.  A second woman, mortified I suppose by my presence, turned and put some baby diapers in her cart and rushed off to another aisle.  The last woman was looking at me a bit nervous, surely this is a pervert standing next to me.  I held out my list to her, a pleading look on my face as I asked “can you help me”.  A blush came over her face as she looked at the list and at the multitude of items on the shelf.   In a quiet voice she said “I don’t see them here” and hurried off to join the other women no doubt in the bread aisle.  Ok I had been standing here for five minutes, I am sure the Store Manager has been alerted to the pervert in Feminine Needs, so I quietly walked out of the store and got in my car.

I got home in a few minutes and proceeded to tell my wife that the brand, style, shape, and all accessories that she wanted in a feminine pad were not available at Kroger.  “Kroger” she said, stirring a pot on the stove.  “what does it say at the very top of the note”.  Sure enough, in letters big enough to bite me was the word Publix.  “Publix store brand dummy, they are different from Kroger”.  My turn to blush a bit, but being the true husband that never knows when to quit I blurted out “Yeah, well the lady in the store didn’t see where you wrote that either”

I have not been asked to buy feminine pads since, maybe I am on to something here.

Yard Trimmings and the Pope

I live in one of the nine Counties that make up Metropolitan Atlanta.  Like any large city we have our concerns over air pollution.  In the infinite wisdom of the County I live in they have declared that you cannot burn your “yard debris” between May 1 and September 30 of any year.  Well that sounds reasonable, because I know personally during those months I am prone to being a raving lunatic arsonist so it is a good thing the County keeps me in check.  During those months I would have a huge fire, likely to spread to my neighbors and just burn down the whole street.  So I am restricted to October 1 through April 30 to burn my leaves and dead branches (I have a lot).  Well that would seem logical, but lets toss in another County rules, you can’t burn on Sunday any time of the year.  Well I guess the firefighters have to go to church so we wouldn’t want them storming out on a sermon just to put out fires set by unreliable homeowners.

Well no fear, I still have Monday to Saturday when the bureaucrats will allow me to have a fire.  Well, not quite so simple, you see the County has exploited technology and has a website.  On that website at 6:30 AM every Monday to Saturday from October 1 through to April 30 they let us mere citizens know if it is a “burn day” in the County.  I think the firefighters union runs this website.  From January through early April of this year there were probably only 10 burn days allowed.  The rationale varied daily from “there is a cold front moving in” to “winds of up to 15 mph are predicted” and my personal favorite, “chance of rain, no burning allowed”.  I have diligently checked the web site every morning to see if I am capable of having a fire.  The bureaucrats truly thing the masses are incapable of controlling themselves.  Just this past Saturday I managed to burn some of the yard trimmings and leaves left over from last fall.  The pile has sat there in my back yard, taunting me, but it’s nearly gone I just need one more burn day in the remaining few days of the month.

I am so glad the Vatican is not in my County in Georgia, they would never have elected a Pope as quick as they did, having to wait for the government to tell them when they could have a fire.

As the mid 20th century philosopher Mick Jagger once said “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might get what you need”.  Pretty deep words when you think of it, and I like to think that it is exactly what has happened to me.  For years, actually for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to own a shiny Corvette.  Yes the All American dream car for any hot-blooded male.  A whole life time of events have conspired against my ownership of such a classic ride.  Marriage, divorce, childbirth, all of these things have allowed me to only dream of my fantasy purchase.

Flash forward, now a greying, thinning middle-aged man in my mid 50’s, still no corvette, and I even told my son that had he been born female he would have been called Yvette.  We decided to make a move, to a home easier for my wife to navigate and scoured the ads and dealt with the obligatory agents until we finally found our dream home.  It had an in ground pool, a big one, and to me that had to be pretty close to owning a Corvette, didn’t it?  They say that you should never moan about the upkeep costs on a corvette, as if you can afford the car surely you can afford the upkeep.  I think the same can be said for a swimming pool.  At first glance the huge bowl of sparkly water lures you in like a new paint job.  You feel the warmth and excitement of the water surrounding you, what it surely must feel like to sit in a corvette and be wrapped in all that brand new leather.  Yes, its exciting, its wonderful, you feel like you are living high on the hog.  You can’t wait to tell your friends you have a corvette…I mean a pool.  They all want a ride in it, you stand in the yard gloating inwardly about how you have the pool and they, mere normal people, do not have one.

Yes that pride in ownership, the gloating all the perks of having that brand new corvette, wait, pool, I keep interchanging those words, I’m sorry.  Regardless, it is wonderful and something you know will last forever and forever until….

Did I tell you the pool was a bit old, the pumps and filters were therefore a bit old, do you know that to replace a pump on a swimming pool (who knew they wore out after 20 years) is around $700.00.  Oh lets not forget the new electronics, it is 2013 after all not the 80’s, another $400.00.  Oh and the corvette mechanic, I mean pool maintenance guy, yeah, he loves to remind me that I need to clean all the gunk out of the pool before I can swim in it this spring, or he could do it for me for another $500.00.  Pumping the water out onto the street to the neighbors chagrin, firing up the pressure washer, days and days of scrubbing and cleaning, then refilling the pool, another $150.00 to the County Water Department.  Ok, its sparkly again, the pump purring softly in the background, the shiny new electronics almost smirking at me as they hang on the outside wall of the house.  Oh no, the water isn’t ready for swimming yet, it needs chemicals.  My pool maintenance expert, who should really wear a robbers mask, is on the scene again, for a mere $70.00 every other week he will stop by for a few minutes and put in some chemicals.  Years past I have tried to save $70.00 every other week and spent about $100.00 a week instead on chemicals with no luck.

Mick Jagger was right, sometimes you get what you need, and sometimes you get what you think you need but really don’t.  Oh we enjoy the pool, it’s not like we can afford to go on vactation anyway.  I was talking to the pool guy when he was changing the pump, he was bemoaning the fact he had to sell his old car to buy a new service van for his business.  Yes, a corvette, enough said.




Back Again

Call me a fair weather blogger, I don’t know, but I have gone through some very difficult personal issues, all my doing, over the past few months and I am trying to make things right again with all involved.  So I think I may have to come back here and bore the heck out of my old friends with stories and such again.  Missed all of you.

I think the saying goes something like “youth and exuberance is no match for age and treachery”.  Maybe it is because I am getting older, but I find that statement more and more truthful as the years go on.  I was at my second home, the Gulf Coast of Mississippi last week on a bit of a vacation, and as is my usual habit I found myself sitting at way too many poker tables.

I have always thought that the poker table was an interesting cross section of the people in society as a whole nowadays.  This trip was no different as I found myself at tables with a wide range of people, the 85 year old lady, impeccably dressed, but having a hard time staying awake, the middle age couple playing against each other, which is kind of a waste of money but who was I to judge.  Then the usual plethora of “young guns” the 20 something old men with their baseball hats on backwards, dark shade, ear phones attached to something in their pockets, and a huge stack of chips (used to intimidate no doubt) and sipping endlessly on energy drinks.

I suppose I would fall in the “older people” category being upper middle age myself, and I do wear my baseball cap facing forward, the way they are supposed to be.  I don’t wear dark glasses or listen to anything but the endless chatter between players and dealer at the table.  If prompted by the scantily clad ladies walking around the casino, I will have a beer or two; I mean who would say no to a lady dressed in such a manner?

As luck would have it, I was at one such table late one evening, or was it early in the morning, I don’t remember exactly.  The tables can seat up to ten players and of course the dealer.  I am not going to bore you with the technical aspects of a poker game, but this table was loaded with a wide variety of characters as described above.  The game went on, and on into the late hours of the night, the old woman finally left to go to bed somewhere, but I think she was already pretty well rested.  Others came and filled the empty seats and the kaleidoscope of people just continued on and on.

Finally it happened, the showdown between young gun and an older person, me.  With brash bravado he bet an unusually high amount of money on the first round of cards.  As is customary most of the rest of the people at the table folded but the older person decided to see what the young gun was made of so I called.  The next card did nothing for my hand, a mere pair of tens, but the young gun was relentless, betting another high amount of money.  This went on until the last card was dealt, an Ace.  Now the young gun was either really excited about such a good hand, or was just irritated because the old person was matching his bets.  So as the game is called “No Limit” he pushed his stack of chips to the center of the table and called “All In”.

A hush fell over the table as the older guy felt all eyes turned on him.  I studied my two hidden cards and realized I had only the pair of tens; surely the young gun had made a higher pair or better.  I fidgeted with some chips, had a sip of one of those lady delivered beers and then said in a firm a voice as I could muster “I call”.  The cards were shown and he had a lesser pair, sixes actually, than my mere pair of tens.  The dealer smirked at the young gun and pushed the chips to me, about $800.00 worth of chips.  I calmly stacked them all in front of me, and listened to the mutterings of the young gun, how he could not believe an older person would call his bluff, how he loved to play against people like me (yeah sure) and on and on for another thirty minutes.  He then told me that he hoped I would stay around and play so he could get his money back.  That’s where the treachery part comes in, I simply told the dealer I wanted to cash in, and while my chips were being counted I sipped the last of my beer, rose from the table and with a tip of my correctly placed baseball hat said “thanks for the game” and left because afterall we older people need our sleep.

King of the World #2

A long time ago I put up a list of three things I would do if I were the King of the World.  Well I’m still waiting for that election or appointment (who would appoint the King of the World) so in the meantime I have been refining my decrees.  In no particular order I have listed some additional Laws that I would put in place after I am King.

  1. You will never have to work for a boss/owner/supervisor who is not as smart as you are.  The origins of this Law are pretty self-explanatory but if you want more information contact me, but not at my work email, just in case you know.
  2. The five, six or seven-day work week is hereby abolished.  As King I won’t have to work but I still think my faithful followers should get some relief.  So in the spirit of big government I hereby decree that the work week is herby reduced to two days, each day not to exceed eight hours.  This one is a no brainer but I think it will help me win the election.
  3. Red traffic lights are hereby abolished, and its now proceed with caution but don’t slow down too much kinda thing on the highways.  I have spent way too many minutes waiting for traffic lights on my way to work at 5am when there is absolutely no normal people on the road and therefore no traffic of any consequence.  This Law will save a lot of commute time and fuel, hopefully enough to outweight the human carnage that may ensue.

So there, three new Laws from your King in waiting.  Hopefully I will have the title soon so I don’t have time to think of many new Laws, I really just want to enact a few then go on a life time vacation, fitting of a King.




Smart Phone, Dumb User

Well it was inevitable I suppose, I got a Smart Phone.  Now before I go on about this I want to let you know that if it were not for work, I would not own a cell phone.  Sure my wife has a cell phone as does my 13-year-old boy, but me, nope, I would be happy as a pig in excrement without one.

Work decided that since I had finally come to grips with using a Blackberry after 4  years, now was time to really tick me off and get me a new phone.  What I didn’t have the heart to tell them was that my 13-year-old boy had set up my Blackberry when I first got it, yes at 9 years old.

Sitting at home, the smart phone charging as I looked through the 4,364 page manual I start to panic.  I mean it has 5 home screens, who needs 5 home screen?  Who needs 1 home screen?  Applications, what is that? I was in a cold sweat by time the boy came home from school.  He saw me thumbing through the manual and said “hey Dad, new phone?”.  I looked at him much like a dear in the headlights and nodded.

He picked it up, deftly moved it around and flicked it on (I hadn’t got to that part of the manual yet) and remarked “Wow, I like this one better than mine”.  Ok, maybe it was a testosterone thing but I puffed up a bit and said “yeah mine is better than yours”.

He set it back down and walked out of the kitchen…I started to panic again, hands trembling as I held the manual.  “Uhmm Son” I called with a bit of a pitch in my voice “could you come here”.  Strolling back in the kitchen, munching on a granola bar “yeah Dad, whats up?”  I picked up the phone and held it out to him, softly saying “Help me, please help me”. 

“Dad, you don’t know how to set this up” he was taunting me now, I know it, he gets that from his Mother’s side of the family.  “Don’t be silly son, of course I do but I know how much you like playing with these things so go ahead and give it a shot” smirking to myself.

A thumb and two fingers blazed across the flat glass screen, where the hell are the buttons.  It was only a minute, maybe two when he handed the phone back.  “there you go Dad, whats for dinner” as he wandered back out to watch TV.

I looked at my new home screen, it had icons for his cell, my wifes cell, my work number, it had my email, it had my gmail, it had my work email, it had my personal contacts it had an application icon.  It had the alarm set for the time I call him to wake him up on school days and he had a picture of himself as the wallpaper.

I really wonder what they are teaching these kids in school nowadays.  I really need to go talk to his teacher, maybe I should call her, wonder if there is an App for that.

Finally Autumn

I could have titled this little post “My Summer of Discontent” but I think that one is already taken.  I hope that all my friends on here are doing fine, I hear that some of you have published your books and I hope you sell a zillion of them and hear also that others are working on the Great American Novel and preparing to publish.  I hope all of oyu enjoy the experience and hopefully the rewards of your labor, you are all extremely talented and I am still impressed by your work(s).

This on the other hand is the only thing I have written in over six months…a long spring and summer have come and now thankfully gone.  Life has not been kind but then again as they say “getting old aint for sissies” so we press on, and get older and hopefully wiser.

I just wanted to pop in and say hello and to thank all of you for continuing to stop by and see if Im around, I can see the “hits” and appreciate every one of you that takes a moment out of your busy day to stop by.  Bless you all.




Hello all my loyal readers, I want you to know how much your reading and input has helped me with this blog over the past six months or so.  However, all good, and even not so good, things must end.

I am going to take a hiatus from the Blogosphere for a while, probably a long while and I wanted to let you know that personally.

Once again, thank you for all your support and insight, you are all truly wonderful people.