Monday, December 27, 2010

Jumping the Shark, and other Happy Days References

Cosmic Lattice of Coincidence

This evening, the dinner table discussion somehow led my wife and me to explaining the show Happy Days to our young children. This, in turn led me to explain the term "Jump The Shark". I said to my ten year old, "Natalie, some day you will hear the term 'Jump The Shark', and you'll be able to impress your friends by telling them exactly what it means and where it comes from.

My wife then decided to see if, by chance, TVLand had a few episodes of Happy Days that we could Tivo. When she turned on the TV it was tuned to some random kids show on NickJr, and, in a frighteningly odd cosmic lattice of coincidence, the very first thing out of the actor's mouth was "Don't ya think that's jumping the shark a little bit?"

Dad IS all-knowing.

Auto Repair

Speaking of all-knowing dads, I scored a point for all the guys out there recently. Okay, so you can imagine the scene...a couple of guys standing around the front of a car with the hood open, staring intently at the engine block and plotting their next move to get this baby running again. Really, we all know it's just an excuse to enjoy a refreshing beverage out of earshot of the usual household din. Then one of the wives leans out of the front door and cracks wise by saying something like, "why dontcha stare at it a little more, maybe you'll just CONVINCE it to work!" Well, darling, I proved yesterday that staring at an automobile's engine is, in fact, an effective tool for driveway automotive repair.

You see, the other day we had to have a cracked windshield replaced on the minivan. The auto glass company came to the house during the day while I was at work. They fixed the glass, and my wife then pulled the car into the garage. The next day, after attempting to head out of the house on an errand, she came up the basement steps and reported to me that the car was dead.

Not interested in removing my butt from its comfy position on the couch, I told her to take mine, and I'd jump start it later, figuring the interior light was probably left on again and the battery was toast.

Now, let me say, right here and now, that I am NOT a car guy. Other than knowing where the engine IS on the car, my automotive repair abilities pretty much end with "hmm, that doesn't sound right", and buying a new car. But three days later, when I remembered to investigate the problem, I discovered the battery in fact wasn't dead, but rather the ignition would churn but the engine wouldn't turn over. I tried it several times, then thought perhaps the repair guys had forgotten to reconnect something after they finished. So, I opened the hood.

After staring at the engine for a solid two minutes and seeing nothing out of place, I began to run through scenarios in my head. Call AAA? Call Honda? Ask the guy next door to stare at it with me for a few minutes? Finally I closed the hood and decided it was definitely time to buy a new car. I got back into the driver's seat, and decided to try it once more. And wouldn't you know it, she started right up. Another successful automotive repair.


On a final note for the day, I would like to express my sympathies to all you dads out there who somehow were conned into getting a Shih-tsu or other similarly dropkick-sized dog as a family pet. I know it wasn't your decision. You really wanted that black lab. You had it all planned were going to name him Johnny Wonder, give him a red bandanna and a collar with spikes, and drive to the town dump every weekend with him hanging his head out the side window of your Dodge Ram. But instead, your 6-year-old girl fell in love with little Fifi and begged and pleaded until you realized you had no recourse but to begrudgingly say yes. Suddenly you're sharing the house with a creature that resembled the main character from the movie Gremlins, wears knit sweaters, and gets carried everywhere in a pink faux Gucci bag. Really I feel for you.

I say this because for the past week I've shared your pain. As part of a holiday trade-off, this week we are watching Muffin, our babysitter's Shih-tsu. Really, there's nothing wrong with the dog, but every time I have to take it for a walk my testicles shrink just a little more.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


If there's one thing about parenthood I would eliminate, it would be barf. Poop I can deal with, but barf...oh god...barf. The spoiled, rancid aroma. The feeling that just being in the same room with it may lead to contracting a disease more horrible than any thus far studied by science. Just thinking about it makes me want to lose my lunch.

A coworker of mine just had his first baby last week. He and his wfe are still in that initial state of shock and sleeplessness, not quite understanding exactly how they went from being people who could go out for a night on the town with little notice, crack open a beer and hang on the couch for three Sunday football games in a row, or sleep for eight straight hours with little care in the world, to the exhausted zombies that they are now, having to wake every other hour to feed this insidious new monster screwing with their schedule.

Well, I've got news for them. That ain't NOTHING. Add barf to the equation.

For us, it began around 1am. I awoke to the distinctive sound of our younger one coughing up whatever was rotting in her belly, followed by the classic scream for mommy. It was then that I kicked my lovely wife in the shin to awaken her from peaceful slumber and shouted, "Jessica! Vomit! Let's go!"

In a fog, we dashed in to find the little tyke covered in her own spooge, sticky hands in the air, dripping onto her head. The spooge trail continued down onto the sheets, the side of the mattress, into the frame of the bed, and onto that really-bright-idea-to-put-in-neutral-colors beige carpeting.

My wife and I entered Special Teams mode. She took charge of the soiled child; I took charge of the soiled everything else. As she carried Jessica, at an arms length, into the bathroom, I switched on the lights to determine exactly what I was dealing with and then dashed to the basement for supplies. I took the dog with me to make sure she didn't decide it was time for a late night snack. I came back up, arms loaded, with:

-the Chuckit Bucket (yes, we've named it)
-spray cleaner
-a garbage bag
-a gas mask
-a blow torch
-a portable version of that disinfecting chamber from The Andromeda Strain.
-paper towels

As I worked my way through the cleaning process in the bedroom, I kept one ear open for happenings in the bathroom. Poor squirt yacked at least two more times, and at least one of those times missed the toilet completely. Natch.

My next step was to carfully ball up the little one's soiled sheets, pillows, stuffed animals, and clothing and bring it all down to the washing machine. As would be expected, the washer was already full of wet clothing, and of course the dryer was filled as well. Classic. Once I got the laundry going, I ventured back upstairs to find an additional growing pile of laundry in the hallway, and a scene in the bathroom that looked somewhat like a murder but with less red on the walls and more green. The little one was resting comfortably, for the moment, on the couch in our bedroom. She remained there for the rest of the night, except for getting up every half hour to puke again. We sat with her all night of course, partially to comfort her and partially to make sure she made it to the toilet in time. Her tummy calmed itself down around 7:30, just in time for me to go to work. Joy.

I assured my coworker that this was an isolated incident, and SURELY this sort of thing isn't a NORMAL occurrence for any family. Sure... I mean really, why ruin his work day? After all, he only came into the office to get some rest.