Top Ten Unexpected Things That Make Your Day Epic

First of all – I’ve been pretty slovenly with my blog as of late – but no worries, I have no intention of stopping or even slowing down to just a weekly Top Ten list entry.  I’ve just had a bunch of real world, “adulting” issues taking up a bunch of my time – stupid responsibilities and stuff. Needless to say, when all of these everyday challenges pop up, it’s not uncommon to have “one of those days.”  You know, a typical Monday…all week long.  BUT that brings me to the topic of this week’s TOP TEN TUESDAY (segues are cool) – tiny, unexpected, mundane events that can make you give your day the Breakfast Club fist pump!

10.  Awesome Odors

So often your nose is assaulted with a double-barreled load of hot, nasty funk – garbage, moldy food, skunk spray, dirty diaper, kids (c’mon – I don’t care how much you love children, they smell).  But what about when your nostrils are hit with an unexpectedly awesome odor?  Maybe your neighbor just mowed the lawn.  Maybe a warm spring rain shower just ended (the fresh clean kind, not the dead worm kind).  How about a chicken barbecue pit sizzling away while you drive by with your windows down?  Or getting to work and finding out one of your coworkers made popcorn and DIDN’T burn it!  Sometimes all you need to bring a little smile to your face is to have a happy little sniff of something awesome.

9.  Stopping the Gas Pump on the Exact Dollar

This is more than just an epic moment – this is a freakin’ super power! Back when gas was down around the $1/gallon level, it was a pretty regular occurrence – but now that we’re floating around the $3 range – those pennies fly by at the speed of light!  If you can get that pump to stop with double zeros after the decimal point, you have accomplished a major feat!  Even if you stop short by a few cents and need to ka-chunk, ka-chunk the pump handle a couple times but still land on that coveted target, it’s still impressive.  Go ahead, spread your arms wide and let out a victorious “Booyah” on your way back to the driver seat – you’ve earned it.

8.  Hitting All Green Lights

If you’re like me, you don’t go many places out of the ordinary on a daily basis, so the mind just goes on autopilot.  Then, when you reach your destination, you look at the clock and see that you made really good time. How is that possible?  Then it dawns on you…all the lights were GREEN! You didn’t need to stop once!  This is so rare and so epic you actually share this accomplishment with anyone who will listen to you.  How often do traffic lights make their way into your conversations?  Hardly ever.  But when you make it through a dozen intersections without having to hit your breaks, it is just too awesome not to brag about a little.  Anyone who has had this experience, will share in your revelry and if they don’t, get new friends- these people don’t deserve your awesomeness.

7.  Laughing

Whether something unexpected makes you laugh or you are lucky enough to find yourself with someone who has a knack for making you laugh – it always makes the day better if you find yourself laughing until your sides ache and you’re wiping tears from your eyes.  It’s even a day brightener if you could make this amusing person laugh – or better yet, getting a notoriously stone-faced grump to crack a smile.  There’s just something about having a good laugh or causing a good laugh that will give you a little more oomph to get you through some of the less amusing parts of your day.  Plus, if it was a really good chuckle, it will creep back up on you throughout the day.

6.  Epic.  Road.  Tunes.

Awwwwwww yeeeeeeahhhhh!!!!  Your iTunes either has a good random shuffle or the radio station you’re listening to turns on that song.  You know that song.  All conversations in the car stop mid-sentence, the volume gets cranked, and the concert is about to begin.  We’re talking steering wheel drum solos, air guitars, belting out the lyrics at the top of your lungs EVEN if you don’t know them all AND you even sing out the instrumental parts!  We all have that song – Bohemian Rhapsody, Purple Rain, Rapper’s Delight, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)…don’t hate…you know you rocked that song AND Hit Me Baby One More Time back in the day.  You didn’t?!  Liar.

5.  Something Simple Made Perfectly

There is nothing extraordinary about a piece of toast or a grilled cheese sandwich.  Even a notorious java addict like me will admit 99 times out of 100, it’s just a cup of coffee.  But once in a while – you might not even know why – but something so ordinary just becomes mind-blowingly AMAZING!  You slip on the butter when you’re making the toast, your grilled cheese has those little burnt cheese bits around the edge, you just cleaned the coffee pot and ground fresh beans – SOMETHING happens and you find yourself thinking about that little, insignificant tasty treat for the rest of your day.

4.  Last Minute Cancellations of Unwanted Plans

You’ve had that dreaded meeting or obligatory dinner party appearance on your calendar for months.  The day arrives and you look at it and sigh – today is the day you are going to have to deal with it.  You muddle through your day hoping that for once the clock slows down and prolongs the inevitable.  Then it happens.  You get the message – it’s cancelled!  Not only do you get out of that unwanted event but you also find yourself with no plans to take its place!  You can get more things checked off your to-do list or go home early, slip on the grungy jammy pants and veg out to your favorite show on Netflix (bonus if they unexpectedly added new episodes – but let’s not get greedy).

3.  Random Compliments

Now, there is a limit here.  We’ve all had the sexual harassment trainings. Small compliments in passing are awesome.  If you are told you smell amazing and the person just keeps grinning at you, call the cops.  But if you’re just going about your daily routine and someone just offers you a little ego boost, it could really fuel the rest of your day.  They may say that they like your shirt or your hair or ask you if you’ve lost weight – but in your mind all you hear is:  You’re.  A.  Sexy.  Beast.  Go ahead, stop by the bathroom to give yourself a little wink and nod because, they’re right, you look fantastic.

2.  Finding Money

Whether it’s a penny in the parking lot or finding twenty bucks in the pocket of an old pair of your jeans – you get a boost!  Finding you overpaid a bill and now you have a credit on your account is like winning the lottery!  It’s weird, most of the time when you find money, or have an account credit, or get a nice tax return, you’re thrilled – but it’s all your money anyway!  But it was money you didn’t count on and that’s what makes it magical – extra money!  So, check the coin returns in the vending machines and pull off your couch cushions and see what treasures you can find.  It might just be a nickel and a stale, linty Cheeto, but it’s five cents you didn’t have a second ago…and, yeah, I won’t judge you if you eat the Cheeto.

1.  FREE FOOD!

There are very few bad days at work that can’t be turned into good days (or at least less awful) when you just add snacks!  It comes in all forms: someone brought in an office birthday cake, the person ahead of you in the drive-thru pays for your order, the vending machine drops two bags of chips.  But whatever the vehicle, nothing pumps you up on a mundane day like unexpected vittles that cost you nothing!  Even the pickiest eaters lower their standards when they are in the middle of a bad day and someone approaches them with a plate of free happiness – you can probably brighten a French chef’s bad day with a free McNugget!  I work in a school and we just got through our big state exams and some people came up with the awesome idea of giving us little “thank you” treats and you instantly had a bunch of grown adults huddled in the corner acting like Gollum petting and caressing a donut.  Oh yeah, the way to our hearts – and to an epic day – is definitely through our stomach.

I’d love to hear your additions to my list- comment away on what unexpected little thing makes your day an epic one!

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“I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that.” ~ Gillian Anderson

The Blog Formerly Known as Bobbing for Popcorn

Man, 2016 has sucked for music!  David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Maurice White, Paul Kantner, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman, and now PRINCE?!!

Okay, Alan Rickman wasn’t a musician, but if you aren’t still mourning the loss of Severus Snape/Hans Gruber/Alexander Dane/The Metatron you are no longer ALLOWED to read my blog!  So GET OUT!

***Note: Please don’t get out, I was just being dramatic – I need you guys.  You’re the kernels that make up this popcorn bowl of love…too much?  Okay, back to the post then***

How can I even describe what music is to me?  It’s woven into everything! It’s my fuel!  I hardly ever sit down to write without my earbuds in or with the volume cranked for the whole family to listen.  My iTunes is packed with everything (except for the bulk of country music…I can’t do it…I’ve tried…) and as I’ve been researching and writing tonight’s post, my shuffle has taken me from the Eagles (*sigh* oh Glenn) to Ben E. King to Lady Gaga to Dean Martin to Eminem to John Legend to St. Paul and the Broken Bones.  If I ever experience writer’s block, I just stop trying to write and listen to music – sooner or later the right song will pop up and I’ll be back on track.  Sometimes I find one song that does the trick and I put it on repeat (I once listened to The Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” for nearly six straight hours while I wrote a play).

My wife and I have raised our boys with a plethora of music – avoiding the mental vacuum of Top 40 pop radio.  Not that everything released nowadays is garbage…

***Note: I’m not that grumpy old guy who talks about how kids today don’t know music…except “Stitches,” that song is poop…and Nikki Minaj…any of her stuff…any of it…especially “Anaconda.”  Excuse me Ms. Minaj – the song was called “Baby Got Back” and is was pleasantly dirty enough without taking it to your level and giving us aural STDs***

…but there is no reason to forget the old just to keep up with the new. Trust me, I can listen to “Uptown Funk” all the live-long day (and I usually have to because it’s my toddler’s favorite song and he’s not big on “moderation”) but he also loves singing Bob Marley and listening to instrumental music by Danny Elfman and, yes, he has been known to wail the “sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-knees” part of “Welcome to the Jungle.”  My oldest has had those awkward moments at his lunch table surrounded by One Direction and Justin Bieber fans but chimes in with his fandom of The Rolling Stones and AC/DC (side note: so help me God, Axl Rose, you better not screw this band up, too).

More and more, listening to music is becoming bittersweet.  We’ve lost SO MANY amazingly talented individuals WAY before their time!  Besides the ones I mentioned above – we can never replace Michael Jackson or Freddy Mercury or Whitney Houston or Elvis or Janis Joplin.  Sooner or later, another great is added to “The Great Gig in the Sky.”

Except Keith Richards.

How the hell is Keith Richards still alive?!!!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish any ill on the man, but damn dude, how many lives do you have?!!  The Nazi’s dropped a bomb in his crib during the London bombing in WWII – he lit his bed on fire in his sleep TWICE – he was electrocuted – he snorted strychnine and ended up catatonic – he fell out of a palm tree and needed brain surgery – and he quit doing drugs for a while, not because he was turning over a new leaf, because there was no longer a drug strong enough to have any effect on him at all!  He built up a tolerance to EVERYTHING and is just waiting until someone creates something more powerful so that he can willingly fall off the wagon!  THE DUDE SNORTED HIS FATHER’S ASHES!!!  Read that last sentence again and let that little conscience of yours scream it into your brain and may you realize that no matter what crazy-ass things you’ve done in your past you (hopefully) never snorted your parents’ remains…no, let’s make that ANY relative’s remains…nay, shall I be so bold as to say ANY remains of ANY deceased creature!  This guy is still rockin’ and rollin’ and Prince supposedly got taken out by the flu?!!  Scientists should quit studying sharks and reptiles for the keys to disease immunities and start tapping into Mr. Richards because that dude is friggin’ immortal!  When the end of the world comes all that will be left will be Keith Richards and cockroaches…until he snorts all the cockroaches.

Now, as David Bowie and Freddy Mercury’s timeless duet pops up on my iTunes (which is kinda freaky considering what I’ve been writing about – and NO I didn’t pick it), I encourage you to listen to your Prince tributes (check out his Superbowl halftime show and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame performance with Tom Petty) – but don’t stick to just him, I mean even he covered other people’s stuff; your favorite musicians have their own favorite musicians, you know (Mind.  Blown.).  Put your playlists on shuffle and see what pops up.  Do some time traveling and find old favorite you’ve forgotten and download them.  Push yourselves out of your norms and find the new up-and-comers and show them some love (speaking of which, check out Brielle – good stuff).  And I can think of no better way to end this post than with:

“Music is music, ultimately.  If it makes you feel good, cool.” ~ Prince

Top Ten Vows They Left Out

Deciding to share the rest of your life with someone is a huge deal. Especially if you decided not to live together before you got married, as was the case for my wife and me (but, hey, if you decided to live in sin and risk your eternal soul, who am I to judge).  When the big day arrives, everyone knows the vows they have you say: better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health, yadda and yadda.  But they really leave a TON of scenarios out of that little exchange, probably just to cut down on time and to keep people from calling off the deal before the cake is even cut.

10.  With Pleasant Tasks  and To Make You Do Things That Suck

Let’s be honest, most of us wouldn’t go to the dentist unless your teeth felt like someone was jackhammering through them.  And what would be preferable: dealing with being sick or taking the nasty, gag-inducing medicine?  I know that I stopped regular dentist visits after I turned 18 until my wife set us up with a family dentist – other than that I was just a “drill and fill” kind of guy (that sounds wrong).  And as for being sick, I figured I would either get better eventually or die.  In either case I could accomplish the end goal without having to take down a shot of neon-colored Benytylochloromoxidopamine!  But when your significant other holds out the little plastic cup and says, “Take it,” you do…and maybe you get an M&M chaser to get the taste out of your mouth afterward.

9. In Exciting Times and When Things Are Boring

I wonder if anyone has ever calculated how much time married couples waste doing mind-numbingly dull things.  The car inspections, the taxes, the appliance shopping, the laundry folding, the paint swatch selectings…zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

8.  When You Have Good Ideas and When You Don’t

Hearing things come from my mouth like, “Let’s leave early to avoid traffic,” or my wife saying, “I think my parents should watch the boys so we can clean this house,” you know you’re hearing good ideas.  However, I also say things like, “We don’t need to hire someone, I can fix that.”  And once I heard my wife say, “I’m going to dye my hair red.”  These are times you know we weren’t performing at the top of our game and, lo and behold, our living room is a fog of drywall dust and my wife’s hair is maroon (seriously, it was maroon).  However, I frosted my hair once, so I can’t pick on her too much (but, let’s face it, I looked freakin’ hot).

7.  When You’re Fresh and When You Smell

There are times when you’re “nose blind” to yourself and you haven’t showered in a couple (or eight) days.  It is the job of your partner to A) gently let you know that you are a tad bit gamey (or way past your expiration date) and B) stay with you whenever you inevitably make a return trip to Stanky Town.  This also includes when you’ve worked up a sweat, morning breath, and whatever after-effects occur because of Taco Tuesday.

6.  When All Living Things Are Welcome and When Something Needs to Die

My wife is okay with insects most of the time – she’ll take out a spider or a colony of ants that invade our house as if she was the Terminator.  But if we get a visit from a rodent…I’m instantly tagged in.  I’m usually tagged in very loudly from atop some piece of furniture.  But, when it’s time to go after the little intruder, my cat and I are a vicious duo.  Okay, she’s vicious, I’m worthless.  I usually lose the ones she caught (and I can actually read her mind when she looks at me after I allow one to escape – she can’t hide her disgust for me in her eyes) or I panic and attack the critter in whatever way my reflexes tell me to – I punched a mouse in the face once.  Punched it!  My cat AND THE MOUSE both looked at me like, “Dude!  Let us handle this!”

5. When You Are a Source of Pride and When You Are A Crappy Example of a Human Being

When you say something a teensy bit politically incorrect about the person you didn’t know was standing behind you.  When you wave at fellow motorists…with just one finger.  When you accidentally ruin a stranger’s moment of silence.  When you put embarrassing quips about them in your blog.  It is an unwritten vow that your spouse HAS TO still acknowledge that you’re married.  They can apologize for whatever harm you’ve caused and promise to ground you, but they cannot leave and pretend like they’ve never seen you before no matter how much they want to.

4.  When Dealing With Normal Things and With Inexplicably Gross Things

Let’s face it, the human body is one of the most disgusting things on the planet.  I don’t care if you think your spouse is the most gorgeous specimen ever to grace the face of Earth…they are gross.  Toilets will need to be plunged, air freshener will need to be sprayed, toothpaste globs will need to be wiped up, HUGE FRIGGIN’ FISTFULS OF HAIR WILL NEED TO BE YANKED FROM THE BOWELS OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD PLUMBING!!!! And you HAVE TO do it!  YOU HAVE TO!  The person officiating never mentions it before the whole “kiss the bride” thing, BUT YOU HAVE TO!

3.  When Meals Are Delicious and When the Food Makes You Gag

Now, don’t get me wrong, my wife is an amazing cook and I’m no slouch myself.  But we’ve both been guilty of “experimenting” with a meal and leaving each other with a forced grin and a phony “Mmmmm.” Apparently my wife isn’t a fan of me making her eggs blue (don’t ask – I had no reason to do it).  I however never thought a dish like “dill carrots” needed to be invented…she later agreed.

***On a separate note, because my wife hasn’t yelled at me in a while and I’m a glutton for punishment – I must bring up that she makes amazing homemade apple sauce.  But the recipe calls for a jar of apple sauce.  And I just don’t understand this concept.  If one of the ingredients for what you’re making is, ultimately, what you’re making, isn’t your quest over? A recipe for apple sauce that requires you to open a jar of apple sauce shouldn’t have a Step 2***

2.  When You’re Warm and Comfortable and When the Covers are Stolen

No matter how much you may think otherwise, the fact that your butt is constantly exposed to the freezing winter elements is not grounds for divorce.  However, it works both ways, so yank those covers back over your hypothermiated hiney and hold on for dear life!

1.  When You Are Successfully Navigating Through Your Life and When You Randomly Do Something Irrationally Stupid

There will be times when your partner will need to help you out of situations that you honestly have no reason for being in.  Like, hypothetically speaking, keeping pressure on your bleeding head because you put it through a wooden basket while diving to avoid a sock, or painstakingly using make up to draw in a portion of your eyebrow that you accidentally shaved, or even figuring out a new hairstyle for themselves because you may or may not have cut their bangs diagonally…not that any of those things happened to anyone I know…

“I love being married.  It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” ~ Rita Rudner

Top Ten Things Your Inner Child Can’t Resist

I’m a bad example of maturity.  I’m writing this while I wear socks with tacos on them for God’s sake!  I have recently been dealing with the internal struggle of adjusting my budget to accommodate Walking Dead collector figures (my wife asked me what their purpose was and, I admit, I didn’t understand her question at first).  My inner child gets my outer adult in trouble more often than most people BUT I believe there are certain things that exist in our world that act like a dog whistle to that mischievous little imp living in all of us and when you encounter these things you need to have a personal playdate with “little you”…dear Lord that last part come out sounding way dirtier than I planned…oh well, my inner child is giggling so I’ll leave it.  Moving on from the double entendre, here’s the list:

10.  Puddles

I know, I know – if you’re in your work clothes or with someone who you’re trying to impress, you are not going to indulge.  But, if you are in your grubby clothes or all by yourself and you see a big puddle in your driveway or while you’re out for your morning run – that little voice is going to urge you, Go for it.  And if you don’t have a tight grip on your inner child, you are going to make an epic splash in that glorious muddy crater and as you look down at your stained pant legs and sloshing shoes, you think about the laundry you’re going to have to do and that little voice reminds you, Totally worth it.

9. Flarp

The other day at work, one of my coworkers smuggled a can of Flarp (you may know it better as “Noise Putty” or “Fart Putty”) into our meeting.  He only needed to squish it one time and I was done.  Even if you find that noise vile and fart jokes the simplest form of lowbrow humor…sooner or later, that magical little plastic container of slime is going to emit a bubbly schqueeping sound that will make it impossible for you to fight off that little grin from curling up the corners of your mouth.  Disgusting, vile, immature, basal, lowbrow, sophomoric…I can’t argue with any of that – but sooner or later, this creator of an infinite variety of sounds will come up with the right wet, snappy, squeaky combination that would make even the strictest schoolmarm giggle.

8. Straw Wrappers

Maybe not on the first date…though it’s still a possibility…but certainly soon in the relationship and until you grow old and gray with your special someone you will never be able to resist the most classic form of restaurant weaponry.  If your drinks come and your server throws down wrapped straws…it’s on like the wild west.  And I don’t care who you’re with, once you’ve decided to rip off the end of the wrapper you are aiming for the forehead.  If you miss and peg the person behind them in the back of the head, you will feel embarrassed, but rest assured that they understand because they’ve done the same thing.

7. Cartoons

I’m not talking about just any cartoons.  I’m a cartoon junkie but there are some even I can’t handle.  I’m talking about cartoons that you used to watch back in the days of footie pajamas and marshmallowy cereals. Everyone had something depending on their generation – Looney Tunes, Ninja Turtles, Hey Arnold, Spongebob – that whenever it’s on television, you have to sit and watch for a while.  I’ve recently started hunting down these old gems on Amazon and seeing which of my old favorites have been released in complete box sets in the hopes to rebuild my Saturday morning glory days!  No matter what your favorite was we can all agree on one thing: ours were way better than the garbage kids watch nowadays!

6. Comfort Foods

We all have certain foods that we remember from our childhood that we still can’t resist to this day.  Sometimes it’s as simple as cutting up a hot dog and mixing into some Mac & Cheese or a classic messy campfire s’more.  For others it might be something kooky they did like potato chips on a peanut butter sandwich or french fries dipped into a milkshake. Whatever it may be, there are times when you’re homesick, or have the house all to yourself, or hanging out in the place where you grew up when you just need those tasty treats that the health conscious adult you is appalled by but your inner child is squealing with glee!  Of course, you need to wash it down with chocolate milk.

5. PJ Days

No one wakes up on a cold winter weekend and says, “Golly gee, I just can’t wait to get into my khakis and cardigan and sit around my house all day.”  Okay, so there probably isn’t anyone who honestly uses the phrase “golly gee” at all – but the other part is probably true too.  Let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t get dressed if society didn’t make us do it.  There is just something awesome and childishly rebellious about staying in pajama pants and a ratty old hoodie all freaking day.  You probably rolled out of bed in this outfit, they probably smell a wee bit gamey, they probably have stains from godknowswhat all over them – so much so that if you spill something you might not even wipe it off – and there is nothing more comfortable to wear while binge watching Netflix or cracking into your ever growing “must read” pile.  You get bonus points if you can make it through multiple days without changing your nasty, stanky, pj-ed self!

4.  ReadyWhip

The sound alone is enough to make you giddy!  Fshhhhhhhhhhhoooooo! You heard it in your head when you read that, didn’t you?  I know you did because I heard it while I wrote it!  Whenever you get your hands on a can of this aerosol propelled goodness, your adulthood is NOT in charge.  You will most likely add WAY more than you need or draw something with it or, c’mon, elephant in the room, tip your head back and shoot that foamy culinary miracle directly into you gluttonously gaping maw!  And do you just shoot a little dollop on the dainty tip of your tongue?  Oh-hell-to-the-no!  You unleash that creamy condiment until you can see it protruding with your wide, downward crossed eyes!

3.  “Try Me” Buttons

Oh sure, Alice was a cautionary tale about drug abuse with the whole “Eat Me” and “Drink Me” things in Wonderland.  The responsible parent in all of us is sure to point that out to our children.  But, boy, aren’t you just a big ol’ pot calling the kettle “black” when you find your way into a toy section without kids with you. If it makes noise or dances or lights up or spins – you’re compelled to push every “Try Me” button you come across aren’t you?!!  And you try to get multiple things going at the same time don’t you?!!  And this is exactly the same thing you would tell your kids NOT to do if they were with you isn’t it?!!  If you answered “no” to any of those questions you are a filthy lying liar!

2. Bubble Wrap

Do we even need to discuss this one?

1. Christmas

Remember that movie where the guy loves Christmas more than anything and by the end he hates it and stops celebrating it?  No you don’t – because that movie doesn’t exist!  As adults we understand the “better to give” thing, but when you see a really cool looking package all wrapped up with your name on it, you can’t help but get excited (possibly even sneak to the tree and shake it a bit).  Do you drive around and groan in disgust at all these wretched lights?  No way (unless it’s April – c’mon, take the freaking things down you lazy bum).  Do you turn your nose up at Christmas cookies?  Not a chance!  If “Santa” comes up to you and asks you what you want for Christmas, do you answer him?  Of course you do! It’s Santa!  Do you sleep in until noon on Christmas morning?  You’d better not or else you have a stinky, wrinkly, blackened little soul and you need to watch Elf until you know the best way to spread Christmas cheer!

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” ~ Tom Stoppard

Fight Night

My son got in a fight the other night.  No, it’s okay, he was supposed to; he’s a fighter.  He wanted to play football, but my wife and I thought that was too dangerous, so we pointed him in the direction of getting punched and kicked in the face.

Anyway, he has done karate tournaments for a couple years, but this was way different.  He was kickboxing.  There was an actual ring with ropes and a bell and rounds and someone in his corner coaching him and holding a spit bucket.  It was so cool!  He even got to choose entrance music to come out to (he got pumped up to some Fall Out Boy)!

Being that he’s a minor, I had to fill out the forms for him and I saw that there was a space for his name and then a separate space for his “ring name.”  And that’s when temptation struck…

You can’t give me opportunities like that!  I have an undying struggle between my inner child and my outer adult – do I be a good father or do I giggle as the ring announcer introduces “The Flying Buttress” or “The Rabid Gerbil” or “Ginger McSugarbritches” to the crowd?!!  Eventually, I came to my senses and remembered my wife was with me and I’m afraid of her.  I left his “ring name” blank.

My son has been training for about three years and he has been sparring for the majority of that time as part of his routine.  In the school he attends, the sparring classes include people from all different levels and ages – it is not uncommon to see a 4-year-old training with someone in their 30s.  The adults enjoy teaching the younger ones almost as much as the kids like squaring off against the “old folks.”  My son has learned so much from the teens and adults and they have given him a lot of positive role models to look up to and, in turn, he has started to be that kind of role model for the little ones.  And, through it all, I’ve watched him grow up in this amazing environment with the other proud parents in the waiting room.  But, as was the case with his “ring name,” I have that undying little voice in the back of my head telling me to make bad decisions.  Most people have that little voice and it’s their conscience…mine’s defective.  Most of the parents that I sat with watch their children with pride and some concern about them being safe.  I sat there and kept thinking, I can do that.

My son and his sensei (who has been a friend of mine for many years) and a few other adults from his group who I had befriended over the years, kept trying to talk me into starting classes and I finally broke down and joined them about a year ago.  I haven’t done much sparring.  But, the night before my son’s fight, the ring was set up, I had a bunch of training hours under my belt, so I thought, What the hell?  Let’s do this!

The way these sparring classes work is everyone spars with everyone a few times throughout the 90-minute class.  So I looked around the room- it was a small class that night.  Remember the little kids I talked about? Yeah, they weren’t there.  Remember all those adults I talked about? Yeah, they weren’t there either.  The entire class was made up of six people ranging in age from 11-19…and me.  It was still an all-levels class which was made up of a couple orange belts, a couple getting ready to move up to orange belts, a purple belt, a black belt…and me.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but in the regular classes, I can do some good work on the pads and the heavy bags.  Those stationary targets beg for mercy!  But this sparring thing is totally unfair – did you know that your target is allowed to move AND hit back?!!  How the hell do I compete with that?!!

But at least I didn’t have to worry about the three 2-minute rounds my son had to endure during his fight.  Each sparring bout lasts about a minute.  A minute!  60 little seconds!  How bad could that be?  I can definitely handle a minute.

No.  No I can’t.

I was pretty awesome for a solid ten to fifteen seconds.  Or until I threw my first punch or kick, whichever came first.  After that I was just rotating in the middle of the ring sucking air and trying not to throw up.  The older ones moved lightning fast and I just kept swinging at open air where they were standing a second before.  The young ones just pounced on me like rabid little woodland creatures.  I’ve never laid a hand on a child in anger – but this was survival.  I was flailing at them like one of those funky dancing windsock guys outside a car wash!

And then came the black belt.  I stepped in the ring with him and for the first time in my life, that little voice in the back of my head – the one who thought it would be funny to ask my newly pregnant wife if the baby was mine, the one who thought it was a good idea to demolish the living room, the one that thought Kleenex and fire were friends, the one who said I can do this in the first place – whispered, Screw it!  This was a bad idea!  But that little guy was a wee bit too late because we had already bowed and touched gloves and now it was time to survive.  I tried my hardest (for ten to fifteen seconds) to take the offensive approach – didn’t work.  So I held back a bit (hoping to catch my breath and suppress the strong urge to cry for help) and waited for him to attack.  Then came the epiphany – I remembered all my training: step back, block, counter punch.  That little voice was wrong – this was NOT a bad idea, this is exactly what I’ve been training for, I just needed to trust my instincts.

He quickly slid toward me (step back).  He sent a kick toward my chest (block).  I saw a space on his torso where he wasn’t protecting (counter…) – FWAM!

For the life of me, I still have no idea how the same leg I had just blocked from my chest circled around and clocked me in the back of the head!  I was just about to ask him (yes, the thought crossed my mind, during the match, to ask him how he did that) when his fists started drumming on my forehead.

So I was definitely not an inspirational story like Karate Kid (more like the first half of Kung Fu Panda) but my opponent did manage to knock that little voice out cold for a while.

“If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.” ~ Muhammad Ali 

This is Only a Test

The students in New York are currently in the throws of state testing season (it’s the season of the year that comes between winter and construction).  And NO I’m not going to be reporting on the test itself and NO I’m not going to be going on a pro-/anti-Common Core rant.  That is not the purpose of my blog.  I have standards.  I have professional discretion.  I have a mortgage.

First of all, I always found it weird how far we’ve come with technology in the classroom – I can Skype with people from all over the world and instantly have guest speakers in my class or have a person with a GoPro camera take my students on field trips that they may never have an opportunity to go on otherwise – but they are still not allowed to take a test with anything but a #2 pencil.  Has anyone ever looked into the mystique surrounding the pencil numbers?  Probably not, because you all have lives and hobbies worth spending your precious time on.  Luckily for you, I do not have these things and took it upon myself to do some digging.  And, my friends, WE ARE LIVING A LIE!  Modern scantron technology has advanced enough to recognize any difference in shading between the little bubbles on the sheet, be they made with a #2 pencil, a colored pencil, a pen, a crayon, or a Hershey’s syrup covered Q-Tip (who has these items in their pencil pouches, I don’t know, but it would certainly make these tests smell amazing).  So the almighty #2 Pencil Corporation is indeed in violation of the monopoly laws because there are INDEED other choices even in the world of numbered pencils!  Have you ever heard of a #1 pencil?  Or a #3 or #4?  How about the ever-elusive #2 ½?  Go to Amazon, my good readers, embrace the power of these little used Ticonderoga treasures!  The only difference is how hard or soft the lead is – softer lead means a darker mark but more easily smudged.  Mind blown?  You betcha!

I actually enjoy the testing days.  Mainly because I’m a people watcher (creepy hobby, I know, but way more interesting than birds) and when kids are taking a test, they forget that they aren’t alone in the room.  It’s kind of like when you’re driving alone – there’s no one to talk to or interact with, so you forget that you aren’t surrounded by other people on the road.  They all start off with their little “pre-game” rituals.  Some have their pencils sharpened when they arrive, some wait until they get to school to sharpen them (every one of these people think they know which teacher has the best sharpener in the building and will make a pilgrimage to their room to grind their pencil to the perfect tip – sharp enough to perform surgery).  Some have their own mini sharpeners to use during the test, just in case.  There are little packs of tissues and gum (mint, because that is the flavor that is supposed to help you think better), special “lucky” erasers, and other tchotchkes that lead me to believe that these kids will be the envy of every bingo hall in their golden years.

When the test begins, that’s when the real fun starts.  The kids start out about the same and then they start forgetting where they are.  You have the usual kids who play with their pencils: make them look like rubber, pretend it’s a car or a plane, and some adventurous ones who play a little game of “five finger fillet.”  Some start moving their lips while they read which eventually leads to them moving their lips while they try to figure out their answer and I finally end up watching them having a silent debate with themselves with really cool facial expressions and even some hand gestures.

Then you get the kids who hear music.  This also seems to be a situation that builds up during the course of the exam.  It starts with a little wiggle in the chair or a head bob.  Then you can tell they have an actual tune playing in their head because they start moving to the beat.  Sometimes the pencil drum solo starts or possibly even some silent lip-syncing.  This year I had a first for me: a student actually started “Whipping” and “Nae Nae-ing” during the test.  Dude had a full-fledged dance break right there at his desk!

My favorite kids are the ones who ignore my sage advice.  Sure, they should get plenty of rest and eat a good breakfast and go to the bathroom before the test starts…but I always tell the kids to shower.  “Shower, you say?”  Shower, I say.  And you can tell the ones who did not heed my warning.  You see, it’s easier to ignore someone else’s “stinkies” if you’ve showered because you know for a fact that it isn’t you.  But, if you smell something a wee bit gamey and you did NOT shower, you start wondering if it’s you…and the paranoia sets in.  Then you see the “stealth sniffing” begin.  These individuals try to figure out the most discrete way to contort their body to get their nose into their armpit to see if they are really the culprit.  It’s hard not to laugh when they are performing the pit check.  If they just gave themselves an extra swipe of deodorant they would have been fine…

#2 deodorant of course.

You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led.” ~ Stan Laurel

EXTRA BONUS

My super-awesome friend, Kate, has a super-awesome blog of her own and she asked me to be a guest writer and write a super-awesome post for her.  SO I DID.  If you can’t wait to read the next installment for Bobbing for Popcorn CLICK HERE and check out my super-awesome Star Wars post.  While you’re there, show Kate some love and check out her other super-awesome stuff!

Thanks for being super-awesome and have a super-awesome day!

He’s Here to Rule the World and Eat Teddy Grahams…

…and he’s all out of Teddy Grahams.

My toddler is broken.  I’m not talking about just when he broke his arm either.  I’m talking about upstairs something is a wee bit cracked.  Like a ‘wearing a tuxedo, petting a small cat, planning world domination’ kind of situation.

Sure, every toddler has those little quirks.  Entirely disrobing and running around all “Garden of Eden” style.  Eating Play-Doh, complaining about how terrible it tastes, and then taking another bite.  Crawling through folding chairs while belting out “Welcome to the Jungle.”  Okay, that last one might be exclusively his.  He has also reverted to speaking gibberish from time to time.  As he was babbling on and on in “baby talk” during our morning commute one day, I was reassured by my wife that it was perfectly normal.  However, right after she said this, when he switched to a low gravelly whisper which made his “baby talk” sound more like voodoo curses, I wasn’t so sure we were still in the realm of normalcy.  Toddlers reverting to “baby talk,” normal.  Toddlers speaking in tongues, not so much.

He has some normal two-year-old temper tantrums like not getting what he wants or not wanting to go to bed.  But then he has other flip-outs over things that just make you stare at him in awe.  My wife had a blanket.  End of story.  He didn’t want the blanket, it wasn’t his blanket, at no time did he even seem to acknowledge that blanket’s existence before that moment.  But as soon as she put it on her lap: World.  War.  Three.  And honesty seems to bother him as well.  “It’s morning?”

“No, buddy, it’s afternoon.”

“NOOO AFTERNOOOOON!!!!”

“It’s dinner?”

“Yup, dinner time.”

“Pizza?”

“Yup, we’re having pizza.”

“NOOO PIZZAAAAAA!!!!”

Most of his responses can be replaced easily with “HULK SMASH!”  Because the way he says them, they pretty much mean the same thing.

Strangely enough, for as much as he dislikes people who answer him honestly, he is incredibly honest himself.  During the five minutes per day we allow him to play without someone watching every sneaky little move he makes, if he gets quiet, you know there is a problem.  And we will ask from the other room, “Are you being good?”  There’s usually a pregnant pause and then a tiny angelic voice will respond, “No.”  Then after the investigation we will usually discover that he’s colored his face with markers, or barricaded himself in the living room, or lodged himself inside the couch (no, I didn’t say inside the couch cushions or behind the couch, I said INSIDE THE FRIGGIN’ COUCH), or he decided that he should be naked, or he decided that the cat should no longer be naked…or happy.  But, impressively enough, he doesn’t usually lie unless he’s made a tremendous mess.  Those, when asked, were caused by Uncle Bob.  Uncle Bob lives four hours away but always has time in his busy schedule to make an 8-hour round tripper just to devastate our living room and leave.

He is certainly a mischievous little gremlin and when you pair that with the honesty, I often get worried when he’s being cryptic.  For instance when he walks by me going from one room to the next and he stops, looks up at me, and sweetly asks, “Daddy, you mad?”  Then walks on with a smile when I assure him that I’m not…I start to wonder.  Why should I be mad?  What did he do?  Why did his exiting smile look so triumphant?

He is a smart little whippersnapper too (well, with the exception of when he plays “let’s put this bucket on my head and run at the wall” – a very long name for a very short game; we’re still waiting to hear back from Milton Bradley about marketing it) which doesn’t help; when dealing with a criminal mastermind, it’s safer when they don’t have the “mastermind” part.  His memory is extremely impressive, especially in regards to music.  He can remember lyrics and the basic tune after only a couple listens.  On a side note, we’ve convinced him that they lyrics to “Uptown Funk” include “Hot Ham” so we dodged a bullet there.  His vocabulary is also astounding however, we started to realize this when he started using phrases like “We have a situation.”  When he starts his conversations with you like he’s quoting “The Hunt for Red October,” you know that something somewhere in the house needs immediate attention and Step 1 is always to locate the cat.

I thought parenting was tough when we only had one and the most trouble I ever had with him was he took a bite of soap in the bathtub once.  Everyone warned us about the second child always being different.  They weren’t kidding!  But, in all seriousness, he’s a very sweet, compassionate, snuggly little guy who loves to curl up in your lap and read stories and watch cartoons.  I am definitely lucky to be his dad and I can’t picture my life with out him.

Or at least, I feel the need to put this in here because sooner or later he will be old enough to read this and I want to stay on his good side…

“The fundamental job of a toddler is to rule the universe.” ~ Lawrence Kutner

Top Ten Things I Miss From My 80s Childhood

I am totally stoked to relive my gnarly childhood memories.  Some of you lived through the 80s with me, some of you had children who did, and some of you, like my poor children, will never know the greatness of some of these radical things.  Let’s go back to before Michael Jackson and Madonna were heard on the Golden Oldies station and our favorite things weren’t described as “retro.”

10. Not Knowing How Technology Worked

Now the kids have more power in their phone than NASA had back then!  Virtual Reality, apps, 3D graphics, and tons and tons of other technological breakthroughs are hardly even acknowledged, let along gawked at.  Back when I was a little kid, the most rudimentary technological breakthroughs were mind-blowing!  The Speak n’ Spell – you would type in words and it would talk to you and correct your spelling and play word games with you. How did this work?  Simple.  Magic.  I had a Teddy Ruxpin bear and I put a cassette tape in his back and when his voice came on, his mouth started moving.  If another character was talking, his mouth didn’t move.  What kind of technology was this?  None!  Magic!  The little known Action Max game system had a gun that shot at your television when flashing targets popped up in the short VHS movie you were watching.  Hit the right target, system counter gives you a point; wrong target loses you a point.  Technology?  Nope.  It was friggin’ magic!  I miss not knowing that some 12-year-old zit-faced degenerate is sitting in his basement reeking of Funions while he codes in 0s and 1s until he creates the next Candy Crush garbage.  In my opinion, it was way cooler when you pulled the magic string on the back of your magic Mr. T doll and he magically told you that he “Pitied the fool.”

9.  School Picture Laser Background

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.37.03 PM

8. Ridiculously Aw(ful)esome Wrestling

Before the age of John Cena and a plethora of “normal” guys beating the crap out of each other in their underwear, things were REALLY awesome.  I remember watching wrestling back when it didn’t take itself so seriously.  They knew they were ridiculous and they embraced their ridiculousness!  There weren’t a bunch of John Smiths and Mike Joneses – there was Kamala the Ugandan Giant who was supposedly a cannibal and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat who spit fire before his matches.  Guys were “killed” and came back from the dead a month later.  There were head shaving matches.  There were AT LEAST two characters who defeated their opponents using black magic.  There were wrestling cops and robbers and mounties and vikings and clowns and dentists and plumbers and even a monk!  It was a weekly circus, boxing match, and soap opera rolled together with more cheese than the whole of Wisconsin!  I miss those old matches like Hulk Hogan misses steroids!

7.  Flavored Drinks that Most Likely Were Horrible for Us but Tasted Awesome

What happened to all of those amazingly original Kool-Aid flavors that made no sense? Mountain Berry Punch, Rainbow Punch, Purplesaurus Rex, Sharkleberry Fin (okay, that one tasted like ass, but I applaud the combination of fruit, aquatic life, and classic literature).  None of these flavors exist in nature and most likely did horrible things to our internal organs – I mean, Great Bludini changed from a red powder to a liquid that was almost a direct match for antifreeze – but I’m thinking the majority of our generation is still alive, right?  Couldn’t have been too bad!  And Kool-Aid wasn’t alone in this endeavor – let’s not forget about Hi-C and their insanely addictive Ecto Cooler to pair with the Ghostbuster movies and cartoon!  Oh the controversy that surrounds this radioactive green beverage is stuff of (nerdy) conspiracy theorists’ legends.  I’d get into all the theories and legends here…but I really don’t care.  I just remember I could suck down that juice by the gallon and leave myself unblinking for hours!  Best of all, because Ghostbusters is getting a reboot this summer, rumor has it Hi-C is bringing this diabetes inducing drink back in all of its neon citrus glory!

6.  Simple Video Games

Now, I’m not saying simple to suggest that they were easy.  Confession time: I have yet to defeat the original Super Mario Bros.  The original Castlevania was damn near impossible! When I say “simple,” I mean not every game needs to have graphics sharp enough to give us the ability to see the characters’ nose hairs.  Not every game needs enough “cut scenes” to make up a 3-hour movie with a script written by Academy Award winning screenplay writers.  And if you can play your game for an hour and still be going through tutorial levels, you might have made the controls a bit too complicated.  I miss the games where you plug it in, turn it on, see nothing, turn it off, unplug the game, blow in it, put it back in, turn it on, and start playing.  Two dimensional, one directional, coin collecting, bad guy destroying, princess saving, goodness.  They were tough enough to be challenging but I didn’t need to think.  I could mindlessly let my thumbs take over.  If I lost a life it was because I wasn’t fast enough or I didn’t jump far enough, not because I didn’t correctly decode the algorithm to defuse the chemical warhead.  Run, jump, shoot, repeat.  Oh, and to all of you Call of Duty punks out there – can you beat that game with only 3 tries?  Yeah – didn’t think so.  Booyah.

5.  Ice Cream Trucks

Where the hell did they go?!!  I remember that they would come by at least once a day in the summer and if there was some sort of carnival or festival, they parked nearby.  There was no sweeter sound than that cheerful music on a 90-degree day.  Kids and adults alike would fly out of their front doors and line up at the little window for a twisty cone or a sundae crunch bar.  You’d risk life and limb sprinting in front of a speeding bus to make it across the street and get a Push-Up.  Now, I’ve seen a few ice cream trucks in my adult life, but I can probably count them on one hand and one of them is a sno-cone truck which, yeah, there’s some satisfaction attainable from a sno-cone, but there is no comparison. Where are you Mister Softee?  Come back to us!

4. Holiday Specials

You knew when the holidays were coming because all of the commercials for holiday specials on television you didn’t want to miss!  Whether it was the “Charlie Brown Christmas Special”, the “Garfield Halloween”, or “The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town,” you marked your calendars and figured out how to stop your VCR from flashing 12:00 so that you could set it to record the momentous event.  Even if you’d seen the same specials year after year, you still tuned in.  Part of the fun of the Christmas specials was to see the commercials for the hot selling toys you were asking Santa for that year and the classic commercials like the Coca-Cola polar bears and the tear-jerking Folgers “Peter” commercial.  Any show worth its salt AT LEAST had a Christmas episode and some of the bigger cartoons, like Peanuts and Garfield, had a special for just about every major holiday. It filled you up with the holiday spirit and gave you the perfect background entertainment while you decorated your tree or colored your eggs or blocked out the thought of your Mom being elbow deep up a turkey’s butt.

3. Action Figures

“But wait,” you might be saying, “you can still get action figures today.”  You, in your long history of being wrong have never been wronger.  What they have today are some sort of collectable, overly stylized version of the action figures I remember.  Action figures are toys.  Toys are meant to be played with.  Playing with toys involves more than keeping the toy in a box on the shelf.  Playing with toys involves, well, playing with toys.  And if you’re planning on playing with action figures, there is most likely going to be an epic battle or two in the cards for your little plastic friends.  I was an action figure junkie: Masters of the Universe, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Karate Kid, A-Team, and the list goes on.  LOVED.  THEM.  And I was far from gentle with these little dudes – they tumbled down stairs, fell from high heights, got slammed, bashed, and beaten in every way imaginable by their peers.  The best part is most of them have seen battle recently at the hands of my son.  I’ve passed them on almost in the same condition as when I bought them!  Out of nostalgia, I bought a few of the updated, re-released Masters of the Universe figures when they tried to relaunch the series back in the early 2000s.  I gave one of these figures to my son and, minutes after taking it out of the box, he accidentally dropped it about two feet and the hand snapped off (the kung-fu grip hand, no less).  Most of the really cool looking figures out today aren’t meant to be played with…what kind of crappy toy is that?!!

2.  Breakfast Cereals

Besides the normal cereals that we still have around today like Frosted Flakes, Honey Smacks, and Capt’n Crunch (because screw the roof of your mouth) – there were tons and tons of cereals that showed your fandoms for all of your favorite characters, movies, and television shows.  Smurf Berry Crunch, C3POs, Nintendo Cereal (with a different flavor for Mario and Zelda in each box), Pac-Man, GI Joe, and even buff Mr. T wanted you to munch on his sugary T-shaped crunchy nuggets…okay, sorry, that sounded wrong.  And each of these cereals had a prize in the box, not a prize you could mail away for with a couple proofs of purchase and $9 of real money – no, sir – it was IN THE BOX!  And even the box itself had games and fun things on them!  The best part of having all of these cereals was eating them and drinking the newly flavored milk while watching…

1. Saturday Morning Cartoons

With stations dedicated solely to children’s programming, Saturday morning cartoons seem to have faded away.  This weekly tradition is easily the most missed thing from my childhood.  My footie pajamas, my ET lap tray, and a solid five hours of cartoons!  That was the life!  I am slowly collecting the box sets of these old cartoons so that I can relive those glorious weekends.  Now I just need some insanely sugary, marshmallow-laden cereals and a new set of footie pajamas…very big footie pajamas.

“I spent my whole childhood wishing I were older and now I’m spending my adulthood wishing I were younger.” ~ Ricky Schroder

Yearly Monarch

Birthdays are pretty awesome.  You basically get worshipped for doing absolutely nothing special whatsoever!  Take a look around you.  Everyone you know and everyone you don’t – EVERYONE, since the dawn of time, has one thing in common: they were born!

Now most of you probably don’t remember the day you were born, but I do and if you were anything like me, which you most definitely were, you did absolutely nothing to help.  The proof is in the pushing!  Our mothers wouldn’t need to push if we gave them any assistance in this process; we would just be sitting there when she woke up patiently playing with our bungee cord waiting for some breakfast.

Regardless of all the trouble we gave our moms when we were born, we still commemorate the day like Napoleon among throngs of much shorter French people.  Now… I LOVE going to bed – sleeping is awesome – I get giddy when I pull those covers up to my chin and hunker down into my fluffy pillow.  But that love is outweighed every year the night before my birthday when I will always stay awake for the sole purpose of watching the clock strike midnight.  Then I turn into something like this guy:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UBcF6n-skk]

And then it’s on!  24 hours of “me-ness” begins.

Kids have it the best – they get those sweet theme parties.  Superheroes, princesses, dinosaurs, whatever they’re into – and the walls get adorned with decorations shaped like these things, and they’re plastered on all the cups and plates and tablecloths.  We need to bring this back for adults – true we’d have party themes like “awesome tax returns,” “afternoon naps,” and “Nicholas Sparks novels” (for some of the really lame, sappy adults who want to play Pin the Raindrops on the Lovelorn Guy and Spin the Bottle where at least one member of the couple dies after they kiss).  Things that serve no purpose 99% of the time become necessities for the birthday parties.  If you were to strap a cardboard cone to your head with a rubber band and go about your normal day, you would be subjected to a day full of second glances, confused looks, and pointing.  But if you wear these things at a birthday party, no one bats an eye – in fact, if you’re the only one NOT wearing one THEN you get ridiculed!  And no one begins picturing a home remodeling project with the hopes that their living room can be filled with balloons and streamers.  Try it – when your husband, wife, roommate, parents, or whoever is away, decorate with balloons and streamers all over the place and see what happens when they come home.  They’ll want to know what the party is for and get a camera ready for their expression when you tell them that you did all this “just because.”  They will be convinced that you’re defective.  But not if it’s your birthday – in fact, they will probably do this work for you!

Then, once your party space is decorated to your liking, a bunch of lauders (which you hand selected to attend) show up to bask in your glory.  They each bring an offering to you like the gods of yore, hoping that their trinkets please you.  To show your benevolence you feed them and offer them entertainment such as games, music, possibly even a court magician or jester!  Then members of your revelers bring forth a beautifully crafted figure of some happy creature and, because it is your day, you get to be the first to beat the creature with a stick until the artwork is destroyed and small gifts and confections (not as large as what are given to you, of course) rain down upon your subjects who, afterward, sit around you and give witness to the opening of your offerings so they can see all the things that are not theirs. Finally, you are brought a large, hand-crafted treat to gorge yourself on (after you have already gorged yourself on an already bountiful feast) and, because it is not worthy of consumption as it is, it is set on fire before it is presented to you!  BEHOLD YE THE FLAMING GLUTTONY!!!  Your subjects sing your anthem before you quell the blaze with your very breath, and then allowing your revelers to share in all of its sugary goodness. And, because you have set a time limit to their festivities, they begin to leave your kingdom and THEY thank YOU for allowing them to come worship you!

Yes, it is arguably the greatest day of the year.  Now that I’m grown up, I don’t get a theme party and a bunch of people coming over, but I do get to call the shots on simple things like dinner.  It’s almost like the Death Row last meal – they have to give you what you ask for.  If you want spaghetti and mashed potatoes, that’s what you’re getting.  Usually, I choose something I really like, nothing spectacular.  I should try to see how far I can push this privilege.  Will people actually fish out certain colors of M&Ms for me?  Will they trim my steak to look like the profile of my favorite member of Congress?  When I’m told I can have whatever I want…do they mean it?  Glazed llama nuggets are acceptable?

I think I need to start planning my next birthday a few months early this year…I have just raised the bar.

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” ~ Dr. Seuss