Monday, October 07, 2013

One Funny Thing

A number of funny things have happened to me lately: I had a kid, I've seen a great deal of breast pumping first-hand - which is hysterical; I had a 3-yr anniversary; and I saw a big lady fall down in a parking lot and nobody saw it but me. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

Some not-at-all-funny things have happened too: I realized that one day I'm going to die - which is infuriating; I invented something amazing late one night, then fell asleep and forgot what it was; I tore the bottom off my favorite pair of boots; and I got a wart on my thumb. The wart is gone, so are the boots.

So, that's the update on what's funny and what's not.

In the midst of all that, I bought a new truck (don't worry - I kept the old one), Tripp found a nanny, I placed #52 out of about 300 people in my bass fishing tournament season; and I used something expensive of my Uncle Buster's (Tractor) and John's (Trailer) without completely destroying either of them; which is a huge personal victory. Don't get me wrong, I definitely broke SOME of the things on each item, but I didn't break ALL of the things, or render them totally inoperable - so I consider it a win.

I don't know why I haven't written much this year - except that I never have been 100% committed to the idea that anybody cares what I think; and I'm occupied with a 4 month old who, so far, doesn't hate me.

So, "sorry about that", or - "you're welcome", depending on how you feel about it.

One day maybe I'll write a book. In the meantime: here's this:

Thursday, August 22, 2013


The Ewing family recently had its first official Ewing Family Beach Trip since 2005. In the ensuing period we lost a family member and added 4 for a net gain of 3 (if you count the additions from Alabama).

Nora counts, obviously, because she's nearly impossible to igNORA.  After 7 days of living with her I can say, conclusively, that someone had best GET HER DAMN PASSY.


William III and Tripp III are pretty solid campers - with caveat to their astonishing ability to blow the bottom out of a diaper. If its not industrial strength - you're wasting your time. I've tried to envision a diaper pressure relief valve of some sort to alleviate "lateral blowout", but all I'm coming up with is a pint-sized anaerobic digester with an elaborate piping system that I can't imagine being terribly comfortable. And remember - whatever Mom eats ends up blasting through kiddie an hour later like a quart of liquid hot magma. I have slapped a bottle of hot sauce out of Tyler's hand on a number of occasions and its been worth it - every time.

After an 8yr hiatus I can report that pretty much everything has changed except, of course, "Mr. Green", my much-lauded veteran bathing suit, and Dad's magical ability to spend a week in tropical climes while getting absolutely no sun whatsoever.

It's a new era.

All the best from Tripp III et. al.

Friday, July 12, 2013

So, I Guess I'm a Dad

I signed Tyler up for a quick one-hour massage as thanks for being a solid Mom for the last 6 weeks (to Tripp – not me). 

Me? I’m fine. 

For dinner Tuesday night we had “Cooked Meat Sandwich” with get-your-own-water, and you-don’t-need-a-napkin, and the-forks-are-in-the-kitchen.

To be clear: that’s meat on bread with part of an onion on it.  You know – “Cooked Meat Sandwich”.

Anyway, she was grateful for the massage, which started at 1PM, so she thanked me at 12:45 and toodled out the door unsteadily in a sleep-deprived fog. She walked into the garage - forgetting to shut the door behind her, returned, and and pulled it all the way closed with a “click”.

The sound of that fateful click boomed hollowly in my ears as it dawned on me – I had miscalculated. I was alone with a 6-week-old and it was entirely my own fault.

At the “click” I turned to find Tripp with his head thrown back and his mouth open wide in a soundless howl of anguish emanating from the very depths of his tiny, unformed soul. I felt galvanized; rooted to the spot at the sheer volume of fury simply pouring out of what, moments before, had been a peacefully sleeping infant.

He cried, then he pooped, then he dropped his pacifier, then he cried again, then peed, then cried, then spit out his pacifier, then he was hungry, so I fed him, so he puked, so I changed him, then he had gas, which made him cry, which gave him the hiccups, which made him cry harder, then he pooped, then he cried and peed and pooped, so I changed him, then he was hungry again, so I fed him, so he had terrible gas and cried, then pooped, so I changed him, then he peed, so I changed him, then he peed harder, so I changed him….and all his clothes…..and his swing cushion….which made him cry.

I looked at my watch – it was 1:45.  Soiled diapers dotted the den and foyer like toadstools and the child was lying, naked, on the floor with the “Marketplace” section of the Wall Street Journal spread underneath him.

I texted Tyler at 1:46 – “I am sorry, but you are going to need to come home.”

She texted back at 2:15 “I didn’t get your message”.

And then, I cried. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

The Duckling Killer Exposed

me Shannon: as you know I've decided to interview a few interesting family members. As my first cousin and a notorious family "character" - I've chosen to start with you. I think it's time the non-famous get in a word or two.

Also, I intend to make fun of you and perhaps highlight your flaws. Sound good?

Shannon Sounds good. A little scared but I think I can hang...

me:  Ok, lets start off small. Whats the worst thing you've ever done?

Shannon Wow. Eh, I feel like a really bad person right now.... I hate to say it, but I'm a duck murderer....That poor duckling ..... qqqqqwwwhackkkk!

me:  Ah, yes. I thought that story from your childhood might surface. You accidentally sat on and killed the baby duckling you received as an Easter present.  That was a pretty terrible thing to do, particularly on Easter. 

Shannon: I still feel guilty about it. 

Me: Yeah, I think it probably does make you a bad person; but that was a long time ago - what else terrible have you done? Did you kill another helpless baby animal with your bottom?

Shannon No....Only a duck. And a squirrel and armadillo that I ran over with my car.

me:  Do incongruous pairings of animals often run out in front of your car to commit suicide, or were these multiple instances?

Shannon Haha no they happened at different times. The armadillo I'm pretty sure did some damage to the undercarriage of my car.

me:  "Undercarriage". Heh. I love that word.

me: Let's keep going. Do you find that you talk to yourself out loud?

Shannon Absolutely. I mainly talk to myself when I'm really trying to focus on something. My co-workers think I'm pretty crazy.

me:  By "co-workers" you mean actual people, right?

Shannon Yes the other nurses I work with.

me: Gotcha. Do you have a favorite film?

Shannon My current favorite is The Dark Knight Rises...I've watched it 4 times since Saturday. That's averaging once a day...not too bad, eh?

me:  Wow. What is today?

Shannon: Tuesday

me:  That is correct. Just making sure you knew.

me:  Did you watch the entire film daily, or certain key parts? Mom watched key parts from Napoleon Dynamite every morning. So, I am familiar with that particular compulsion.

Shannon I actually paid attention once. The other 3 times I listened with that far away sense of hearing and I would perk up when my ears caught the parts I liked. 

me:  I use that "Far Away Sense of Hearing" sometimes when Tyler is talking to me, but she confuses it with "not listening at all" so it rarely works to my advantage.

me: On the topic of films: What is the most hilarious on-screen nekkid scene in history? My pick is the sorority pillow fight scene in Animal House. In all my years of lurking outside sorority houses with binoculars - I never once saw a naked pillow fight of any kind. Everytime I see that scene I'm like "Hah! Idiots! That never actually happens!!"
me: Ok, sorry. What's yours?

Shannon Eh, ok. Mine is from Forgetting Sarah Marshall when Jason Segal shakes his willy at Kristin Bell right before she breaks up with him. It reminds me of something that [my boyfriend] Chad MIGHT do, not something Chad HAS done. 

me:  Ah. It's amazing the joy and wonderment that comes from having dangly parts, is it not?  Why are naked people so fascinating?

Shannon: Hahaha! I don't know about all that!

me:  Recently someone told me that a man lives in your attic.  I assume she meant the ghost of someone you chopped up into tiny pieces is haunting you. Is that true? Are you subject to a haunting?? Maybe an ex-boyfriend?

Shannon Um...I don't think there is anyone in my attic. All of my ex boyfriends are alive.  Anyway, he would have a heck of a time getting out of there. I made Dad and [his friend] Glen wiggle through the access panel to inspect it  and it was not easy for them. At all.

me:  Ok, fair enough. If you do have a haunting you should call the psychic hotline, but do it from your parents house like I do. I think it's expensive.

me:  On the topic of exes - which of your exes do you think we, as a family, liked the least?

Shannon Bobby

me:  Wow, that was the quickest response time from any question yet, but that's not true. We liked the white one the least. The rest were ok. 

Shannon You must be getting me confused with [my sister] Ashley. 


me:  Whew, but even your worst exes were still better than nearly all of Ashley's boyfriends, weren't they?

Shannon Hahahaha YES.

me:  She dated some derelicts didn't she? What was that all about?

Shannon She sure did. I guess she needed to meet a bunch of wrong ones before she could truly appreciate the right one. I think [her husband] Justin is a gift from God.

me:  I don't care if he's a gift from Buddha, Hare Krishna, or the Three Wisemen - just as long as he'll stick around.
me:  Remember the real' squirrelly guy she dated that didn't believe in toothpaste? He was my favorite.

Shannon Yeah, he was a grouch. He also had Oscar The Grouch night slippers that he NEVER took off, which made sense.

me:  Heh. I am surprised none of them ever had to bareknuckle fight [your younger sister] Natalie in a public forum. She's super aggressive. 

Shannon Natalie would probably win. Or I could just sit on 'em. Then I would really be a murderer.

me:  ....Sure worked on that duckling....

me: Ok, moving on. Do you find Uncle Buster terrifying or wonderful? Because it seems like most people fall into one of the two camps.

Shannon I think he is wonderful.  I saw him bottle-feed [tiny cousin] William at the beach and it confirmed for me that he is a big 'ol softy. I was ticked at him for that too. He stole my second opportunity for getting to feed that baby a bottle....but that was a personal issue of fault of his.

me:  I'm going to have to disagree with you there.  I once saw Uncle Buster kill a live Grizzly Bear with his bare hands without even dropping his fishing rod. So, clearly he can't be THAT soft.

Shannon: ..... It was really Margaret's fault for allowing him to bottle feed the baby and not letting me do it.....

me:  I can see that situation has really stuck with you. Perhaps you need to get a baby of your own going in the 'ol womb-parts. That'll set you right.

Shannon Gotta finish school and get a husband first..

me:  Nah, the order isn't that important. Just get you a baby percolating. Let the rest kinda sort itself out.

me: So, before we leave the topic of Uncle Buster, do you remember the first time he got you to use tobacco?

Shannon I have smoked a cigarette once, but that was because of Grandaddy not Buster. I asked him for some money at the beach. Instead, he bought me a carton of Marlboros and told me to sell them to [our cousin Beau] for $5 a pack. I did, but I "smoked" one of them first. I was 6.

me:  ....which puts Beau at about 8....Entrepreneurship gets instilled in us early in this family. 
me: That has "Granddad" written all over it. He was able to teach a quick lesson in demand economics, get both of you in trouble, AND infuriate both sets of parents. 

me: What is your favorite smell?

Shannon Ohhhhh this is a GREAT question! Gasoline and White Out and rubber cement.

me:  Good choices. Interesting that you chose three hallucinogenic organic solvents.
me: Do you love new smells? I know I do

Shannon Depends on what it is....but mostly yes.

me:  Ok, what is the WORST smell your smeller has smelt?

Shannon A pulse oximeter from a baby's foot. [Our cousin] Maggie can attest to that one...I gave her one for Christmas one year because you know how much she likes weird smells...She gagged.

me:  Whoah!  I did not see that one coming! Do you find you kind of want to smell that smell again for some reason? Deep down inside?

Shannon No, because I have to smell it on a regular basis in my job as a nurse, so I don't ever have a longing for it. It doesn't matter how little the baby, they all smell the same.

me:  But, obviously, you've chosen to return to that terrible smell on a number of occasions because its a bad smell, but you can't quite get enough of it. Admit it.

Shannon Yeah I have to because if you don't change it to a different foot every 12 hours it will irritate the baby's foot....The "yeah" above is not an admission by the way.

me:  "Mmmm, Hmmm..."

Shannon Also, I have seen 6 toes on one foot before and an extra pinky finger that looked exactly like a flesh colored junior mint.

me: Wow, that is an interesting factoid, but I'm not big on toes. I dated a girl one time that had 10 toes, and I hated all of them and the rest of her too. 

me: For some reason I bet you can generate watchfunk like a champion. 

Shannon What is watch funk?

me:  Nevermind.

me: ok, lets keep rolling here. we're nearing the end of our time together.

me:  They say an obsession with strange smells has alot to do with the Mother/Daughter connection, so lets talk about your Mom for a second. Who is the nuttiest, your Mom or [your Dad] Uncle Robert? 

Shannon My mom can be nuttier than him at times.

me:  We're picking "nuttiest" not hedging our bets here, Missy.

Shannon Dad then. 

me:  Is it at all possible that the Mother/Daughter connection is the reason you find such solace in foot smells?

Shannon: I'm not sure, but I guess it is possible.

me: What is your take on female body hair? Kill it or keep it?

Shannon Kill it - and trust me - I know from experience.  I definitely got the hairy gene. When [our cousin] Thomas was one and a half he asked me "why I had a beard?" I got my face waxed the next day. 

me:  How'd having a beard feel? Kinda felt good, didn't it?

Shannon It wasn't a full beard. I like to think of it as exaggerated sideburnsI didn't really notice the feel so much...

me:  Ah yes. A crustache can certainly sneak up on a young lady unawares.

Shannon Yes it can.

me:  I do notice that lately you have lovely smooth skin and a rosy complexion (and no beard). Do you have a secret skincare regimen (or shaver)?

Shannon Not really and I think that's the key. People who use all that face stuff tend to have the worst skin in my opinion. Look at XXXXXXXX. [Name Deleted]. I did, in the past year, start using a moisturizer from Clinique because the lady there told me my skin was "thirsty."

me:  Those Clinique ladies in the mall look like mannequins with face skin stretched across a wicker frame. If you're 82 and look 60 - it doesn't mean you're beautiful; it means you might be a demon. Don't let them spray their Snow White poison on you when you walk by. It'll turn you into a cripple. 

me: Any words of advice for our readers out there on The Interwebs?

Shannon Just be yourself. I can't stand it when people are so insecure that they feel they have to put up a front and not let other see who they truly are. "I don't front!!" I had a beard so I waxed it off, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I once had a beard

me:  ...And why would you be? Beards are AWESOME.

Shannon Yeah but I want boys to like me. Fortunately, Chad loves me, beard or no beard, so I may just grow it back.

me: Growing a beard is an excellent way to test a man's love. I say you try it. If he pukes, but comes back: he's yours!  In the meantime - thanks for the interview - and remember what I said about getting a baby - anytime is a good time!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Does It Feel?

Our well-executed travel plan got us to the hospital, thanks to ME - and from there it got progressively more exciting. 

After soaking up nine months of flak from other parents ("TEN!!!" shouts Tylertoes in the background) on life “ending” and “changing” and labor being “scary” and this being a “very special time” but “hard” and “kiss your sleep goodbye” I was starting to wonder if I hadn't made a terrible mistake. 

As it turns out; you have nothing to worry about - the whole process is highly entertaining. 

Many of you who don't have a baby have asked "what does it feel like to have a baby?" That's an interesting question and I've carefully considered it. I have had a number of feelings to think through on that topic, but I have finally developed an answer for you:

Recall, for a moment how it felt to believe, deep in your spirit, that THIS VERY NIGHT, a fat foreigner is going to squeeze his big butt down your chimney to leave you great stuff.  Labor and delivery feels like that mixed with the feeling you had when your Mom said “the nice lady IS going to give you a shot, but it won’t hurt a bit.”  Earlier, you saw the nurse with the huge, clammy, sausage fingers; you know it’s going to hurt like abject hell and, for the first time, you realize an adult has betrayed you. Add that feeling in to the mix. 

So all that, PLUS, the feeling you felt the first time you boarded an airplane PLUS, the feeling you get right before you puke all over someone who does not see it coming. That’s what becoming a parent feels like.

Get excited.

Many others of you (Ernee The Attornee, for instance) are more interested in the gory details of childbirth than the "feelings" aspect. That's all you want to talk about - the indelicate details. I suspect its so you finally have license to use the word "vaginal" in conversation, but either way - I get it. It is, after all, a pretty gory process. 

The whole thing has a kind of barnyard-esque quality, but once you grow accustomed to the sheer volume and variety of fluids skeeting hither and yon – it’s no big deal. At several key, explosive, points during childbirth, I clearly recall thinking “In all my years of being a person - I've never seen that fluid before."

There really is nothing like it, but the best parallel I can draw for you is simply this: being an expectant father in the Labor and Delivery room gave me a brief glimpse into the life of a garbage man: you’re right there in the midst of something weird and smelly that you don’t want to be in the midst of, but you know eventually - you get to go home.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You'll Need a Travel Plan

I don’t love the hospital.

I think it’s the smells that put me off the most, but it may also be the rabbit warren-ness of it and the fluorescent lighting. Also, I don’t like sick people or nurses or doctors or parking decks or food on trays or smelly elevators or vinyl or paperwork touched by people who may have touched sick people. So, there’s that.

In spite of my long and well-established aversion to the hospital: I am very pleased to announce that Saturday, June 1 at 2:25 PM - with absolutely nothing at all wrong with me and completely of my own accord - I went to the hospital.  It was a hurdle moment for me, personally, and also for Tyler who was mid-way through labor and clawed the handle out of the doorframe the whole ride over.

The fact that we made it before the baby came is purely a testament to the Travel portion of our Birth Plan. That’s the part of the Birth Plan I was responsible for, and I am sure you will find that I executed it with precision and aplomb.

To that end: I’d like to talk to you, briefly, regarding the importance of The Travel Plan.

Our Travel Plan involved a few key elements that were taught us by some quack Youtube video series I was made to watch against my will in exchange for getting to go fishing. The key elements are as follows:

      Don’t deviate from The Travel Plan
      Have your car selected and ready to go in advance
      Have your bag packed and ready to go in advance  
      Don’t speed or run traffic signs

I sat in front of the television that fateful night in March, drinking a cocktail, and thinking “this is stupid”.

I was wrong about that.

We planned to take Tyler’s car which already had a carseat and whatnot installed in it. That was a good plan, but at the last minute, I deviated.  I panicked at the thought of not being near my truck in case I needed a chainsaw or rubber gloves or a toolkit or mouthwash or tow straps or bullets or a 6-ton bottle jack or fuses or a tarp or a bayonet. So, I called an “audible” and we took my truck which contained no carseat, stroller, or hospital paperwork; but had all that other stuff.  Tyler tried to object, but was in no condition to put up a fight and I won my first argument.

I did not pack a bag. On Bag Packing Day I went fishing instead, but I pulled my bag out, zipped it shut and put it by the back door so it would LOOK like I packed a bag. That bag was a lie and it sat by the door, heaping burning coals of guilt on my head for several months. It contained my lucky pair of boxers and a fishing magazine that I’d been saving for an emergency - and that is all.

Fortunately, because I had my truck at the hospital - and all my emergency supplies in it – I didn’t need a bag. Problem solved. Nothing bad comes from being prepared for nearly everything and, in case you were wondering about the little red kit in my truck box: that’s an emergency kit to fix an emergency kit.

On the way to the interstate I made a last minute adjustment to our route and we went through neighborhoods instead of I-75.  I find that interstates make me feel confined in an emergency. My initial Travel Plan failed to contemplate that. My Adjusted Travel Plan failed to contemplate Tyler’s propensity for carsickness which kicked in halfway down a very curvaceous Northside Drive. Fortunately for her, the nausea took her mind off the contractions.

Regardless, we reached Piedmont Hospital from Sandy Springs in about 4 minutes because I ran most of the red lights and all of the stop signs at high speed. I did that, in clear violation of the law, because the only thought in my head was “find someone to get this woman out of my car.” 

Riding in a car with a woman in labor is like riding in the car with a demon holding a live grenade. You really can’t think about anything except getting out of the car. That’s all you can focus on - one of us is going to have to get out of this car right away, this minute or something terrible may happen. If Piedmont were much further away I’d have jumped out on Peachtree and shouted “go on ahead – I’ll meet you there”.

That, in short, is why you need a Travel Plan.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Big Bassippotamus

Let me set the stage for you:

Imagine that it's cold and rainy and 5:10AM. You have driven 90 miles to get in a single-file line of 155 pickup trucks full of grumpy, hairy, unkempt men; all waiting impatiently to park for approximately 45 seconds in a slot the size of a parking space. There exists not 155 slots, but two. Two slots.

Now add a 25’ long trailer to each truck and take the guy who owns the truck out of the equation and put some other guy behind the wheel. This guy is your fishing partner - randomly-assigned by the tournament director. Have that guy panic and select someone else (a passer-by) completely at random to drive your truck while you sit in your boat on the trailer thinking cheerful thoughts and wondering what is going on.

Also, the "slot" is a "boat ramp" which is full of “water”.  Also, you have forgotten to fill the truck up with gas. So, maybe the truck will run out of fuel while you are in line and the entire process will grind to a miserably embarrassing halt. Also, it is 51 degrees and pouring down rain. You don't know this yet, but it's going to rain all day.

Just to be clear, the scenario I have described is: me, sitting in my boat on dry land, on a trailer, behind my truck, in a huge line of trucks, in the pouring rain, in the dark. Someone I don't know is behind the wheel and another guy I don't know, who was originally behind the wheel, has abdicated his seat and we may or may not be about to run out of fuel.  

Interesting, eh?

Comedy abounds. Then, fury. Then, words are shouted. Later, everyone tacitly forgets what happened at the boat ramp and the comedy and fury are replaced with camaraderie….Until two of the same boats want to get to the same cove and catch the same fish. Then its mostly fury again. Then, tacit amnesia when it’s all over.

I stood in line to weigh my fish right next to a guy who nearly ran me over trying to beat me to a fishing spot not 4 hours previously.

I took the high road and fished elsewhere.

Do you know what the "high road" is paved with? Unkind thoughts. I had many very unkind thoughts while on the high road. One of them involves me leaning over the rude man's deathbed in 60 years pointing my bony, decrepit finger at him and shouting SEE THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO RUDE PEOPLE. THEY DIE BEFORE I DO. Ahhaaaahaaaa!!! 

A savvy psychiatrist could set a sofa out on the marina dock and make a living charging $20 an hour to returning fishermen. I, for one, would have paid it because, for possibly the first time in my life, I have some feelings I'd like to talk through.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I Have Some Questions

1. Do babies drink water at all? If so - how much? If not - how does he live without water?? And don't say "breast milk". I am 100% sure if all I had to drink for 8 months was milk - I'd shrivel up and die.

2. Does an automotive laser heat sensing thermometer for $11.99 work the same as a baby forehead laser thermometer for $129.99? Methinks it do.

3. What shape has my wife turned into under all that baby?

4. How long before a baby could theoretically ride on a Saint Bernard in a leather saddle that was theoretically homemade by someone theoretical?

5. Can a baby wear a suit and a tie? Because a suit and tie on a baby sounds hilarious.

6. Can you leave a baby asleep in a crib while you run down the street to your Dad's house to borrow a tool and also maybe take some special firewood that you are not allowed to take?

7. Can you freeze breast milk? What things might one do with frozen breast milk?

8. Once upon a time I had a girlfriend who would aggravate me terribly on long car rides - completely unprovoked. Eventually, I would tire of her barrage, pull over, and use the ignition key to turn off her airbag.

This made her very angry.

Apparently, the government says you must turn off the airbag in your truck for the baby to ride up front. That is not the case for girlfriends.

A. Why does the government hate babies?
B. How about if you just turn it down real' low?
C. How about if the carseat is strapped to the floorboard up front? What then?

9. For how long can a baby swim unattended? Obviously, you don't want your baby to get waterlogged.

10. Do they make a stroller that's also a unicycle? Because I want one of those.

11. Could you or could you not remove the blade from your self-powered lawnmower and turn it into a self-powered stroller? Why or why not?

12. If my wife has been losing no hair during pregnancy will she then lose a ton of hair after pregnancy? Because that sounds terrible.

13. What is the best room for your wife to sleep in until the baby can talk - a guest room or the baby's room?

14. Could you make a kind of baby "nest" in the center console of your truck so the baby is more accessible during long road trips?

15. Do most babies share my love of loud noises and new smells?

16. Can a breast pump be modified to plug into a cigarette lighter? How powerful is a breast pump? Could it, for instance, power a livewell in a pinch?

17. Do they make hearing protection for babies? Earmuffs? Earplugs? If so - who makes it? If not - how is your baby expected to tolerate gunfire?

18. If you take your baby with you to commit a crime such as a B&E (breaking and entering) or even a simple burglary wherein no one is injured and very little of value is taken, except for perhaps some firewood; does that make the baby an accessory to said crime?

19. What do you do with a criminal B&E baby? Is there a place in jail for criminal babies? Because it seems to me that after being confined for 100% of their lives up to this point - jail wouldn't be much of a punishment.

20. How do babies and convertibles mix? "Well", I hope?

21. How old before your baby can "hold the wheel" while you take off your jacket? Because when that happened to me I was 3 and Dad ended up with both arms pinned behind his back by a Members Only jacket shouting at me through a mouthful of steering wheel. At least, that's what it sounded like - I had both hands over my eyes so I couldn't see exactly how he got us back on the road.

I feel like if I had been asked to perform that task at a more appropriate stage (perhaps younger?) I would have been better prepared.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tube Socks

I have been concerned lately that I've had nothing funny to write about. Or I am not funny. Or I was never funny, and now I am finding out. I don't feel any different, but maybe something has changed? Do crazy people know they're crazy? Because I feel fine.

All the uncertainty is beginning to weigh on me.

Am I getting normal? Is this what normal feels like - kind of dull and regular? Is this part of becoming a Dad? What's next? TUBE SOCKS??? Because that is the circle of life: you start off in tube socks, graduate to big boy socks in different colors like gray, blue, and tan. Then, at some point, you end up 82 years old in your front yard pushing a lawn mower wearing blue velcro shoes and tube socks pulled up over your white knobby knees. GO INSIDE OLD MAN - NOBODY WANTS TO SEE THOSE TUBE SOCKS!!!

Egh. Maybe I am depressed. Am I falling apart? All I can think about is insulating the attic and if I have the right kind of screws for 7/16" plywood decking.

I was riding around thinking these and many other thoughts, when it occurred to me: I'm probably fine. I may not be funny, but at least nothing has changed.

That cheered me up a bit and I chuckled. Then I looked around and realized: I'm not driving anymore - I'm standing in the "wrenches" aisle at Home Depot brandishing a huge crescent wrench and giggling at nobody in particular. 

I bought the wrench.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Born With It

Preparing for childbirth has been an educational experience, to say the least. It has also been a time of quiet reflection…frequently interrupted by grizzly bear sounds emanating from the mound of pillows festooning the port side of the bed.

Too often men slide through life failing to reflect on how far they have come and what it took to get there. Not me - I know. I have not come a long way and getting here has not been hard at all. I just kind of wandered around in the desert then, Hey, look! There’s a water fountain! And I have been standing here ever since.

Despite lately finding myself married to a complete stranger; one who has been desperately smuggling a full aquarium around under her skin for 8 months - I number among the fortunate few who rarely, if ever, come under substantial spousal flack regarding my many outdoor pursuits. As a single person I guess I assumed that was part of life and the time and ability to do these things was just part of being me.

I now know: that is a terrible lie.

When I consider the time I spent as a child traveling around the state hunting and fishing and whatnot - I am amazed. I did something terribly fun and dangerous nearly every weekend, generally with Dad, and if not – then with an infinitely less responsible Uncle. I also realize now that those Uncles genuinely were not the least bit worried about me, my safety, or possibly dying. Back then I assumed all adults were bound to keep their nephews safe as a matter of course. In retrospect: I actually had that thought as a 6-yr-old while riding through the woods perched on the hood of a tractor like a chubby hood ornament with Uncle Buster’s admonition “Don’t grab that exhaust pipe – it is 800 degrees” ringing in my ears.

Mom was right to worry.

At the same time all that was going on, Dad raised two other kids, stayed married, kept a job, paid for a house and cars and got us all through expensive private colleges that we probably did not deserve.

Now, with the impending specter of fatherhood looming over me; it all makes sense: I didn't get to hunt, fish, and act like a Wild Boy on the weekends because I was born with it; I got to act like a Wild Boy because Dad was born with it - and more importantly; born with the ability to stay efficient during the week. If the water heater had still been out of commission at 5PM on Friday – nobody would have been going deer hunting. If Mom couldn't wash her hair – everything stopped.

Last week I considered my list of mandatory to-do’s for the week and this thought went through my brain: “I could just stay here and deck the attic on Saturday instead of going fishing” and in my mind, in that instant, that option actually sounded plausible.

It was a terrifying moment, so I immediately retreated into my workshop to sulk.

As I sat there at my Fishing Stuff Bench, sulking, it hit me that now, finally, I realize what it means to be a Dad; mostly because: I've turned into mine.

So, instead, of decking the attic and painting the hallway on the weekend, I wore myself out all week doing it at night, then I went hunting on Saturday at 4AM, got my truck stuck, found a deer skull in the woods, got covered in ticks even though I know about Lyme disease, heard 5 turkeys gobble, got soaking wet, got covered in mud, then came home feeling very pleased with myself.

Maybe you can also learn to be a Do-It-Yourself-er (see below) and a Lifelong Wild Boy; but I can tell you one thing: it is definitely hereditary.

Thanks Dad. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

A Free Market

For a number of years we have had a mailman notorious for spending his lunch break parked at the top of my parents' driveway reading Dad’s gun magazines. As a child we’d pull out in the minivan and wave. He’d hold up "American Rifleman" and wave. Later, Dad would get his magazine all nice and fluffed out from being pre-read. I didn't realize that wasn't normal until I was in college.

To this day he still leaves a note in my mailbox on June 23 wishing Mom a happy birthday and now he reads my gun magazines and Dad's. Certain unforeseen perks arise from living on the street you grew up on....

Our mail arrangement is a pretty equitable system. Arthur’s reading certainly doesn't cost us anything and most of the time he manages to shake all those annoying loose inserts out into the street as a public service. It is a symbiotic relationship based on an exchange of value. We let him read our magazines, he takes care of the inserts. Everybody is square. I appreciate that sort of courtesy from service providers and it further illustrates how prevalent the concept of "exchange" is in our society. To me, our arrangement with Arthur says "hey, ain't a free market friendly"?

We are a capitalist society, so if you live in the USA, no matter who you are or what your philosophical leanings; you’ll eventually have to enter into an exchange and generate some cash to get from A to B. I know that and I’m fine with the concept of “profit.” Profit means that I have to pay you some negotiated amount more than it costs you to do or make something, and you get to keep the extra. The key is “negotiation”. I don’t really have to pay you anything at all – you could give it to me. Or, I can pay you a ton. It’s up to us to work all that out.

Isn’t it fun?

If negotiations go properly, all parties ultimately feel the satisfaction of "winning". I get what I want - you get what you want; and we each leave convinced that we have somehow hoodwinked the other. In my experience, that is rarely ever true, but it is a pleasant fiction nonetheless.

My brother, Young George, calls that little bit extra from negotiation: “walking-around-money.” My other brother, Fred, calls it “cashy-spendy-money.” Whatever you call it - I’m glad to get it, but I’m also glad to give it because I don’t want to Roto-Root, for instance, or formulate my own termite spray, or grow huge volumes of tomatoes, or manufacture hairdryers for myself, or pump well water, or drill for oil and refine gasoline. Instead, I just pay someone a little bit more than it costs them to do it for me. Brilliant!!

Sometimes, even though I CAN, I don’t even want to do certain things to my own vehicle. Sure, I CAN put in a new set of wheel bearings, but that’s 3hrs I don’t have right now.

Due to time constraints, I recently crumbled, violated my strict DIY mentality, and took my ailing pickup to the shop. They have not yet called to attempt to take advantage of me, but when they do I anticipate a negotiation of some sort is shortly to commence. I shall report back the results directly.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Company Is Coming

Preparing the house for a new family member has been an interesting process. It's like prepping for Company on a very large scale.

I know about Company because every month as a child my grandparents would come up from Macon to visit us in Atlanta.

This was a big time. Company was coming. This monthly visit is why I still love Twizzlers and $20 bills and cheap pocketknives and raw oysters.

The preparation was largely carried out by Mom who readied the Ewing Manse 10 days in advance through hysterical fits of cleaning and food preparation.

One day after being pressed into service I asked her: "Mom, this is your Mom coming to visit, not the President. Why am I having to vacuum the den crossways, then longways, then crossways instead of just longways?"

"Because, even as an adult, you want your parents to see that you are doing a good job of managing a household and that they taught you well; and that you are keeping to a very high standard" she said.

"But we don't live like this. This is a lie. If you open that closet right there, the junk that falls out will kill you. We are lying to Gma." I replied, with my trademark rapier wit and candor.

She arched a well-floured eyebrow and from there I cleaned the toilets and the silver and ended up in the yard laying bales of pinestraw.

So, I know all about getting ready for Company.

Getting ready for this kid is like that - Company, except that you don't know who is coming, what they want, what they're like, or if you're really going to want them to hang around for long.

Bringing a new Ewing into the world has already been expensive in terms of work and time in the form of renovations, kid gear, and some kind of French “gliding chair” that I will “need”; not to mention a walking science experiment for a wife, and untold amounts of weird stretchy clothes (for her). That's plenty of work on behalf of a person I'm not even sure I like yet....

Early on, I suggested that all the “decorating” work seemed a bit much for an entity whose eyes won't even focus until late 2013: (maybe longer if there's a wonky-eye situation). That input has been largely ignored.

I can only hope he is very, very good at fishing or handing me tools, or capitalist philosophy, or impersonations; because I can always use a travel partner with those skills.

I contributed a Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra skin for the nursery floor - a huge victory; but he only fits the room with his head under a couch - so instead of a regal creature adorning my manly child-room, I have what appears to be a very flat, striped horse attempting to hide under a wicker daybed, and the start of an ulcer. That’s where your mind bleeds, right?

All the preparations aside, the very upsetting thing about what's coming is this: to really warp a kid all you have to do is say the wrong thing at just the right time. 

.....Until now I'd considered that my best skill.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I was a Boy Scout, albeit briefly. The organization and I had “creative differences”; they shot weenie guns, used crummy folding knives, fished badly, and we never got to kill and eat anything.

My entrĂ© into scouting was calculated to help me down the road to becoming a better Wild Man, and I was thrilled to join a group of like-minded strangers intent on becoming awesome. I needed to learn some knots, how to sail, maybe a bit about building a "lean-to" and I’d have been in great shape to start my bid for world-domination.  Imagine my disappointment when, on my first big-adventure campout, my new Scout Brethren showed up prepared to “rough it” with two People magazines, a Sony Discman, 5 cigarettes, a six pack of Coke, half a dog-eared Playboy, and a tampon. At that point I started to realize I was out of my element. The cigarettes were Marlboros and reasonably fresh (a big step up from the CarltonMenthols I’d broken in on at a tender age), but I never did understand how “tampon” made the packing list.

The uniforms put me off a bit too. I don’t know what Aryan model of perfection the Scout uniform is based on, but my experience indicates the term “husky” wasn’t properly-defined in the Scouting lexicon. Ultimately, I found our troop to be more “sewing club” than “hunt club” and I hated the uncomfortable uniform; so I bailed. Dad said “hey next year let’s bag Scouting and go elk hunting on horseback in Wyoming instead” and in that instant I became Husky-Second-Class-Scout-Ewing forever.

Despite my brief, failed, foray into Scouting I appreciate the organization and have been interested to see Scouting pop up in the news quite a bit lately. Apparently, gay kids aren’t allowed to Scout. Or maybe they’re not allowed to act gay while they Scout. I am not clear on the details, but for those of you recently in extremis at the very thought of homosexuals subverting 100 years of Boy Scout tradition: rest easy. Gays have been in the Scouts since kickoff, so this is not news. 

As far as I can tell, gays make up about 2% of the population and probably have for the last 10,000 years. That means: gays are not taking over the world, The Boy Scouts, or your local Waffle House; so they’re either bad at recruitment or that's not quite how it works.

Fortunately for you concerned straight folk, my gay friends suggest that one of the very last places on our large, flat, earth most gay 17-yr-olds want to be is in a suburban Elk’s lodge, after dark, surrounded by straight kids armed with hatchets and knives, all keen on "knot tying". Either way, if your Scout Master finds the 5 new Scouts having gay relations with your kids; I’ll be astonished - because guess what straight kids don’t do? Get gay and naked with their Boy Scout buddies.

Before you get upset with me, rest assured: I get the broader issues at hand. I really do, I'm only suggesting it's a tiny bit moot: kind of like the "women in combat" debate. What are all the men pissed off about again? I am confused.

There are many more women in my life that I'm scared to death of than men, but that's just me. Mom could have disarmed a Mexican drug cartel with a medium-sized wooden spoon, I am here to testify to that, but apparently some of our fighting men are concerned that smaller-statured women won’t be as capable in combat and may put them at risk.


To me, a short-legged person in uniform looks like someone I may be able to outrun on the battlefield; and that is exactly what I am looking for. God knows if she wants to stay and fight I am all for it. I'll hide in the trench and toss up handfuls of bullets. I'd fight if I had to, sure, but I am absolutely thrilled when anybody else wants to do it in my place. 

So, God bless you gay Scouts – you already have support from the Manly Outdoorsman set - most of them thought Scouting was for gays already; and more power to you, fighting women, with your angry combat breasts and guns and boots and things. Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out!  

While you ladies preserve my freedom (thanks!); I am going to be at home twiddling with my fishing lures and thinking about why God didn't make me with sharp claws.

God bless 'Merica! Where the army'll take anybody and gay kids get hatchets too.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Big Show

Tyler has begun to "show" - a situation I relish because it leads directly to my next favorite stage of pregnancy: the "your body is communal property" stage.

Now that there is an obvious "bump" in her abdomen - the world at large is free to paw away at it. That's right, slide in for a belly grab anytime. It's perfectly ok; or at least - I assume it's ok because that's what everybody does. I plan to capitalize on that, myself, but pick your moment carefully. I wouldn't get between her and a gallon of ice cream right now for all the free bullets in the world. Someone at my house has been crushing gallons of neopolitan like she's mad at Haagen Daaz.

In other news: we are having a boy which, for some reason, the entire world fully expected. My good friend and brother-in-law, James Galloway said "Jimmy, you are one of these guys who sits around all day long creating Y chromosomes. I hate you and I hope you have 7 girls."

It was the nicest thing he ever said to me.

After spending the last few years alternately tormenting and fascinating my nieces and tiny cousinettes ("Snoruhh" "Stellaaaaaaa" "Stanley", "Smella" and "Tiny Furious Greer") I had grown quite used to the idea of having a tiny female person running around the house and, frankly, looked forward to it. I have one permanent woman underfoot already - might as well be two.

Imagine my surprise when Uncle John looked up from the ultrasound and said "Lookah there! It's a boy!" Sure enough, perfectly positioned and outlined against the amniotic sky was a big set of testicles. 

I suddenly felt ashamed of myself in a clinical setting; which is a new thing for me. Normally, a doctor's office is a place where I really shine - even naked, bleeding, or, for instance, upside-down. Good comedy abounds, particularly with nurses and technical assistants. 

I stood by, twisting in my LL Beans and twiddling with my pocketknife while Tyler and Uncle John continued to stare gaily into the ultrasound screen and wax philosophical about which part was what. "Ohhh look! There's his little dingly dangly!" 


My discomfort quickly turned to waves of shame washing over me; we had invaded the sanctity of the womb with our mysterious technological camera and spied on a naked infant under the guise of "Medicine".

I hadn't felt that embarrassed in front of myself since Mom, circa 1993, began strictly enforcing phone curfew by picking up the downstairs line and trilling "Jimmmyyyyyyy! Put on your feet-ey pajamas! It's time for milk and cookies!" into the handset - much to the amusement of whatever young lady I was talking to.  

The kid is not even real yet and we have already invaded his privacy.