Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Please...fill me in.

It's equal parts flattering and encouraging to know that some smart folks read my ramblings from time to time.

And those are the peeps I'd like to address with this post, because I've been experiencing a dull discomfort, right up around my throbbing frontal lobe, in trying to make sense of the current campaign for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination.

As Jerry Seinfeld once asked, "Can someone please explain this to me, because I'd really like to know" the answers to the following questions:

Why do so many of these candidates use the term, "the American people," as in the sentence, "the American people are just plain fed up with wasteful government spending on entitlement programs" as if everyone is of one mindset?

After reviewing the American Person Qualification Checklist, I've determined that I am one of those American people, since I've eaten Cap'n Crunch at least eight hundred times, know that "pickup" can be a noun as well as a verb, and purchase toilet paper in forty-eight-roll pallets.

And actually, I only needed two of those to qualify.

These people claim to know what I, an American person, demand, yet none of them have come within three states to double-check. I'm not aware of any Presidential hopeful even flying over, let alone landing in, Washington state, unless you count Dennis Kucinich's appearance at Seattle's Hempfest last week. Had Mitt, Michele, Herman, Rick and Rick cruised Seattle's cannabis tents, they may have gained a deeper understanding of the mindset here on the Left Coast. Then it would've been burrito time.

Why do these people look like they do?

Seriously, do they resemble normal people? I can't think of anyone who likely spends as much time in front of a mirror as Romney, except maybe my teenage daughter, whom I've heard proclaiming, "I earned this body."

Then there's Bachmann. Does anyone you know, other than joggers and road crew stop sign holders, wear yellow as frequently as she does? Maybe she justifies it because those blinding half jackets make her teeth appear whiter, and the plaque would really jump out at you if she wore crimson or something.

Or her next job will be working for Century 21.

Why do they feel that their credentials are positive, let alone impressive?

Herman Cain was the CEO of Godfather's Pizza. Good on you, Herm, for working your way up the ladder to become purveyor of the world's worst pizza. Don't get me wrong; I love pizza so much that four out of five days, I may choose it over my family, but I'd rather eat an aspic-coated slab of plywood than anything that has emerged from an oven at Godfather's.

Mitt Romney has enriched himself by purchasing companies through leveraged buyouts, laying off hundreds of workers and socking away profits into offshore tax havens. He believes corporations are actually people and should be afforded the same rights as humans. Straight humans, that is.

Why do these people consider it chic to deny science?

Texas Governor Rick Perry, when asked by a young boy whether or not the governor believed in evolution, replied, "It's a theory that's out there."

Rick, Rick, Rick. Gray matter between your ears is a "theory that's out there." Evolution has been empirically proven. You need look no further than your homeboy, George W. Bush, to ascertain that he's somewhere on the evolutionary scale between single-celled protoplasm and a chimp who knows twenty-three words and seven numbers in American Sign Language.

And it's really easy to deny global warming if you're Michele Bachmann. All you have to do is attribute the hurricanes and flooding to God's retribution for our sinful ways, his wake up call to repent before the end of days and certain eternal damnation.

Even though, as George Carlin once said, he loves us.

So, please, if anyone out there can shed some light on these queries, these seemingly rhetorical questions, please respond, preferably before the locusts show up.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Forty-nine years old? What the...

Today, I'm a forty-nine year old. What the hell?

That's twenty-three years older than LeBron James. All I can say is, just wait until your prostate is bigger than your ego, LeBron. Okay, that's not gonna happen.

That's twenty-four years older than Lady Gaga. And to think that I had such a huge head start and still failed to predict America's voracious demand for crotchless pantaloons made of calf tripe.

That's thirty-two years older than Justin Bieber, and I've only recently discovered the foxily imperative comb-forward.

I know it's really not that old, right? That's what everyone says, anyway. All I can tell you is that when I turned one, I was three percent of my dad's age, and now I'm sixty-three percent of his age. It won't be long before we share a two-for-one shower escalator Groupon.

Okay, enough of the self-pity. I'm breathing, my heart's beating and, doggonnit, my wrists are as good as ever (That's a typing reference).

A few Negative Nellys have commented on their hatred for lists, especially of the top ten variety. Well, it's my birthday, so what's a nice way to put this? How about this—screw you, haters.

I've had so many great birthday happenings over the years, I'm going to head in the other direction this time. Here's a list of my top five worst birthday experiences over nearly half a century of polluting Mother Earth's lower lumbar with my Converse Chuck Taylor carbon footprint:

5) August 28, 1971—I was already crabby because we were camping on my birthday and therefore couldn't go to Shakey's, but decided all would be well if I could crack open some brand new Puma soccer shoes on birthday morn. But they weren't Pumas; they were called "Mr. Pro" and I was pissed. Sorry, Dad.

4) August 28, 1978—During high school, we always had two football practices per day, which really sucked. This was back when coaches wouldn't allow water because they thought it contained estrogen or something, so by the end of practice, we looked like fruit leather. And on this particular day, I broke my finger and witnessed a motorcycle wreck, to boot.

3) August 28, 1965—For my third birthday, I had requested olives on the cake, thinking they would taste like cherries. My mom acquiesced, I ate an olive and have loathed them ever since.

2) August 28, 2002—Another camping birthday, but this time it was my fortieth, and it was in a yurt. The camping part was okay, but when we decided to have dinner at the local golf course, the waitress volunteered a free golf cart to tour the greens for my birthday.

Our family, plus one other kid, packed into a single cart and tentatively navigated the course, trying not to interrupt anyone's golf swing. We looked like a made-for-TV movie, "The Beverly Hillbillies Go a' Golfin'." After receiving scores of nasty glares, we ditched the cart at the earliest opportunity; the Clampetts headed back to their yurt, and Jed, the birthday boy, had aged at least another year.

1)  August 28, 1985—My clinically crazed girlfriend, after repeated warnings that I really, really didn't want a surprise party, threw me a surprise party. On the way up my apartment stairs to said event, she informed me of it, so I had to act simultaneously surprised and not highly annoyed with her within fifteen seconds.

You may think, "What a jerk. She was just trying to be nice," and that's fine. It also means that you don't understand the mind of a sociopath.

Enough with the negative shtick. I've had so many fabulous birthday presents and happenings—the green stingray on my sixth birthday, the trip to Tahoe on my twenty-fifth (good surprise), the bungee jumping on my thirtieth.

And, of course, all of those trips to Shakey's. Good thing I didn't ask for pizza on my cake for that third birthday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Please try not to rock my world, mmmkay?

Sometimes I admire the way my eleven-year-old daughter goes about it:

(Cell phone rings) Me: "Hello?"

Daughter: "Dad, do you know where my Selena Gomez refrigerator magnet is?"

Me: "Umm, no. Should I?"

Daughter: "No, Dad. Well, yes. I mean, no. Thanks. Bye."

And that's it. The phone call has ended.

With adults, saying goodbye on the telephone is more like making Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. You have to do certain things or it just doesn't turn out well. For example:

Me, trying to wrap up a phone conversation with another adult guy: "Okay, man, great catching up with you. We seriously have to have beers, and soon."

Guy: "Absolutely. You've got my number right?"

Me: "Yep. Right here in my phone. Let's not be strangers. And say hi to Josephinia and those rug rats of yours."

Guy: "Will do. Say hi to your wife, whose name she doesn't want mentioned in your blog, and of course your kids, whose fictional names are Chloe and Mauryn."

Me: "You got it. Take care. We'll see ya. Take it easy. Bye bye, now, then."

Okay, maybe I exaggerated slightly, but I do usually rattle off three quick phone-isms prior to actually ending a call. Here's my theory:

We Americans don't like change, and if we must endure change, it must transpire as slowly and gently as possible.

Our blockbuster movies build to chaotic apexes, containing highly traumatic events for the protagonists, but end with the same sense of normalcy found at the film's beginning.

Our restaurant meals call for a series of foods which build to a hearty main course and cycle down to a cup of coffee and at the very least, an Andes Mint on the check tray.

Our football contests require an extra point attempt following every climactic touchdown score. No one wants the other team to repossess the pigskin just yet; a bit more closure, a smidge of decompression, is necessary in order to move on.

Let's be clear—I'm not above any of this stuff. The routine in which I participated to put my kids to bed would've made a twelve-step program feel like speed dating. By the time the story reading, water refills, special handshakes, monster exorcisms and origami-like blanket formations were completed, it was time to run the following night's bath water.

I think the bedtime go-round was nearly as important for me as the children.

When Safeway changed the name of their pop from "Select" to "Refreshe," I dreamed of discovering a secret forest warehouse, where a twenty-five year old Farrah Fawcett stood at the door and offered me a Safeway Select Black Cherry or maybe a Shasta Grape soda. I think she was wearing tube socks.

I even feel a little uneasy when a new bus driver flips those double doors open.

As I said, America loathes change, so that must make me one hundred percent yankee doodle.

Now, please, hand me the remote.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Slutty in Seattle.

Wow, who would've thought?

I've lived in Seattle for thirty years, and apparently, I've allowed myself to be lulled by the gray skies and melancholy masses as they shuffle along the sidewalks in sensible walking shoes and utilitarian hair styles.

We are super mac daddy freakazoids!

Seattle is, according to our own Post Intelligencer and this internet dating site, the second most promiscuous city in our fair land. Again, wow. 

Maybe all of that polar fleece is attached with an accessible Velcro strip in the back. Could ordering a "double tall with room" mean something a little different than what I'd always believed? Does REI actually stand for "Really Easy Intercourse?"

I've been married for a while, now, so, while I haven't been able to play my card of sluttiness, good luck to the rest of you, my neighbors. Whether you hook up in the Whole Foods organic Pop Tart section or the "How to teach your dog to compost" class, I tip my hat to you.

Here's the remainder of the list. I think you'll be a little surprised at how it shakes out:

1) Portland—Our fair hamlet to the south rules the promiscuity universe. I never had considered Portland a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, but five words come to mind—"Baby, leave your Birkenstocks on."

2) Seattle—I've already touched on my hometown. So to speak.

3) Pittsburgh—Another surprise, Pittsburgh never struck me as a free love type of place, residing in America's Rust Belt. I'd always considered foreplay in Pittsburgh to be similar to Dorothy lubing up the Tin Man.

4) Miami—So many having unsafe sex down there in Florida—no socks.

5) San Francisco—Okay, what's going on here with the west coast? It's like a constellation of naughty. I suppose if Seattle is the head, then Portland is the chest, San Francisco is the bathing suit area...and L.A. is some moppable substance left on the floor.

6) Dallas—Obviously, Debbie still lives there.

7) San Bernardino—Comforting to know, considering my sixteen-year-old daughter just returned from a week at basketball camp down there.

8) Denver—Hello! Dreamy man fox, John Elway, lives in Denver. Not a shock, by any means.

9) San Diego—I'd always thought "Chargers" signified horses, but actually it's a term for people who pair up in thirty minutes or less at the Coronado TGIFridays.

10) Houston—Houston is also the sixth fattest city. Maybe I should scrap this diet I've been on.

So next time you plan a vacation, instead of New York, Chicago, Boston or Philadelphia, rather than Minneapolis or Atlanta, consider Seattle. 

Someone's waiting for you, and they can't wait to get you onto their futon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Time to lose some weight...again.

Seriously? Again?

I'm really going to subject myself to this godforsaken exercise...again?

Here's how I see this process: Every five years or so, I vacation on an island—a really large, nice, tropical island. The package I purchased includes one full orbit around the isle, with stops at decadent resorts along the way. I travel slowly, watching dolphins, buying cheap t-shirts and even splurging on some brand new nail clippers.

Upon reaching my original starting point, I am contractually obligated to return my yellow, convertible Mustang and return home.

After a long and increasingly uncomfortable stay on this tropical island, I maneuver the Mustang around a sharp corner and the road straightens to reveal the Avis rental office in the near distance. Okay, cool. I guess it's time to go home.

Thank you for suffering through my cyclical weight gain analogy.

I took the first step toward the 1972, 1993, 2004 and 2009 "me" yesterday morning, when I weighed myself. Oh Hostess, sweet mother of Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Twinkies, Fruit Pies and Snowballs, I weighed myself.

I squinted down at a three-digit number which was higher than any I'd seen before. I'm quite familiar with this scale, so I'm able to position and shift my girth enough to take two or three pounds off the actual total, but I nonetheless remained in uncharted territory.

I'm sure that some have felt this rush of emotion as well, but please allow me to describe the feeling.

It's like slicing the soft skin under your middle fingernail because you'd forgotten that you'd stuffed three jagged metal Hunts Snack Pack chocolate pudding lids into your basketball shorts pocket right before bed last night.

It's that feeling when you believe you've finally kicked those hiccups, and...shit.

It's like that morning in a Portland hotel when I rose from bed, walked into the bathroom, peed and summarily knocked my open shaving kit into the toilet's pre-flushed yellow goodness.

Shall I continue? Nah.

I lifted my head and stared forward, feet still straddling the scale's wavering needle. My sole utterances were biblical in nature...probably because I now weigh the combined equivalent of (baby) Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Who doesn't hate being overweight?

The thing is, it's not like I transformed into the blowfish who swallowed Hootie overnight. I'm just quite skilled at the art of excuse and denial:

"My wedding ring seems to be losing its elasticity."

"I keep drying these pants for too long."

"There's no way this t-shirt is a large. Typical Old Navy...cutting corners again."

So, here we go...again. Time to pick myself up off the ground and do this thing...again.

Actually, I could use a little help getting up. Thanks.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Steve Martin.

"Some people have a way with words, and some people...not...have...way."


"I like a woman with a head on her shoulders. I hate necks."


"Hosting the Oscars is much like making love to a woman. It's something I only get to do when Billy Crystal is out of town."


"The operation was a success, but I'm afraid the doctor is dead."


"I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy."


"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture."

That poster above hung in my bedroom.

Steve Martin turned sixty-six on Sunday.

I've often considered, but never written, a post about the people whose senses of humor have impacted my life the most. My parents are most assuredly the gold medal winners, since their input was daily, and occasionally involved electric shock reinforcement.

But a silver-haired man is gazing up at them from the silver medal podium, and he's wearing a white suit and black tie, with an arrow prop mockingly impaling his head. A banjo rests at his side.

Steve Martin opened my eyes to comedy. As a thirteen-year-old who'd only recently been allowed to stay up late enough for a show called Saturday Night Live, I'd never tested the waters beyond the safer comic shtick of Bob Hope or Johnny Carson or Bill Cosby. When Martin guest hosted that first episode of SNL back in 1975, my parents had no idea what lay ahead.

I opted to suspend my true personality for about two years in order to channel this man. I memorized everything, and I mean everything, that he did:

The "wild and crazy" swinging Czechoslovakian dude: I'm a little embarrassed to admit that my mom was forced to hear "Wuh would lok to see yor big Amurican breasts her and now," at least fifty times while I honed the accent.

That dancing routine with Gilda Radner: Practiced only in the confines of my bedroom with anything that resembled a dance partner, such as a stuffed happy face pillow or long section of Hot Wheels track.

Three record albums: A couple of friends and I would compete with each other to recite entire album sides. We would argue such important minutiae as, "No, idiot. He said 'Reality is just an escape for people who can't cope with drugs,' not 'those who can't cope with drugs.' Come on. Shit, man."

In 1979, Martin melded some of his best material to date, this time in cinematic form, with the release of The Jerk. The lead-up to its debut was tortuous, and I'll never forget, at long last, traveling up to the Renton Cinema in my parents' green Ford Fairmont (with partial sunroof) to watch my idol's inaugural film, accompanied by the "Shit, man" friend mentioned above, whose name was actually Kevin.

I won't be so audacious as to liken it to a pilgrimage, but...it was.

Steve Martin, along with so many others of his genre, like Radner, George Carlin, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, had driven moving trucks containing irreverence, irony, satire, and plain old slapstick into a new housing development in my adolescent brain, where they've been residing ever since.

Here's to you, Steve Martin. Happy birthday, and remember: Always, no wait, never, no, always carry a litter bag in your car. When it gets full, you just toss it out the window.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Confidence is sexy. But please keep your shirt on.

A couple of evenings ago, my nuclear family and I settled in over a table of Greek salads and bread, complimented by some powder blue Safeway napkins with pleasantly quilted patterns.

As has been a more frequent topic of late, the upcoming school year reared its head again. My wife asked my sixteen-year-old daughter if she would be agreeable to dropping off our younger girl for her first day of middle school, since parental drop-offs are so "elementary school."

"That would be cute of me," replied the elder sibling.

Cute of me? I hadn't recalled those words having ever been used together before.

"Did you say, 'That would be cute of me?'" I had to confirm.

"Yeah. I'm sure everyone would think it's cute for the big high school sister to drop off the little sister for her first day of middle school," she replied, narrowly avoiding dipping her hair tips into her vinegary salad bowl...again.

Commonly, when my teenager utters such arrogant statements, I'm rendered speechless as I was on this occasion. She's often so oblivious to her utterances that I really don't think she realizes how it sounds to those within earshot.

As she slowly pivoted her head back toward her food, my teenager's eyes screeched to a halt.

My wife observed the process. "You're looking at your arm, aren't you?"

"Yes. Wow, I'm really getting toned this summer."

Such confidence. It is obnoxious for sure, but nonetheless is a trait I've always admired. We live in a culture where we either muster up our self worth from within, or ride the bucking bronco of public opinion. Should we make the error in validating ourselves through others' opinions, we run the risk of feeling like something that that bronco squeezed out its backside.

When Barack Obama was elected, it seemed as if the entire planet Earth believed he could walk across Lake Michigan without getting his wingtips wet. But ultimately, Mr. Obama has proven himself unable to work miracles, such as healing both an already broken economy and an entire class of lepers known as the Tea Party.

Unwavering confidence is a must for any President. After all, can you imagine a moment when you're actually telling yourself, "You know what? I think I should be the ruler of the free world. Yeah, definitely. Either that or work at Costco."

But what about other lines of work where unbridled confidence is a prerequisite?

Professional boxer: Imagine stepping onto a roped off canvas in front of thousands of people, and you're not wearing a shirt? Okay, that's a dream I've had quite a bit, but in addition, you're supposed to pummel another shirtless guy into unconsciousness or just make him bleed so much he can no longer see. This would require confidence and probably not a lot of other job opportunities.

Navy SEAL: Someone calls you and some buddies into a room, where you sit in one of those school desk/chair things, and says, "We're gonna need you guys to get into a helicopter, fly secretly into Pakistan, kill Osama and pack up a bunch of his stuff, including his porn stash and Whitney Houston cassettes. Then bring the body back in the helicopter, mmmkay? Oh, and don't forget to use the Swiffer before you leave. Clean floors show that America has paid a visit."

Graphic designer: When a hundred-year-old company's future depends on one pixel moved to the left or right, I'm up to the task. And, I can perform while listening to Night Ranger. I'll stop there, since I'm sure you're already doubting yourself.

So before you ask your wife how you look in those short slacks and striped green tie, before you run the brown clogs and denim jumper by your husband, take a good look in the mirror. You don't need outsiders' validation.

You look good, and you know it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Seafair: a slowly mellowing rite of summer.

As we stood sipping our beers, looking upon a sun splashed Lake Washington, Mount Rainier looming in the murky distance, my friend Corey casually placed his hand on one of the metal barriers which cordoned off the beer garden.

A middle-aged, balding security guard swiftly approached from our left, his wispy comb-over fluttering in a mild gust.

"Sir, you're going to have to remove your hand from that railing while holding that beer. Those bars are considered outside the drinking area, so you can either put down your beer and grab the railing, like this, or let go of the railing and hold your beer, like so. Just not both. You can even do this..."

We watched as the pudgy man bent his upper torso over the bar, his head reddening and upside down on the non-beer garden side of the barrier.

"See what I'm saying? You can do gymnastics on this thing as long as you are not in possession of beer or wine. Have a good day, now."

As he retreated into the sparse crowd, the three of us stood silently. How times have changed.

Since 1982, Corey  my brother and I have upheld a tradition, a rite of summer in the Puget Sound area since the early 1950s—we've been attending the Seafair unlimited hydroplane races on Lake Washington.

The event, held the first Sunday of August, isn't really much of a race at all. An overwhelming majority of the day's heats are noncompetitive and comprise a minuscule portion of the entire day. It's kind of like a house-sized hum bow, where the bread part tastes pretty good, but there's only about a thimble full of gooey pork filling.

Seafair Sunday has seasoned itself and evolved at a similar rate to my companions and me. What began as a free-to-the-public, alcohol soaked orgy of homemade keg barges and overflowing Honey Pots, has grown into a choreographed, rule-laden corporate juggernaut.

What started as every twenty-year-old's dream day of swimming, subtle nudity and complimentary Eve cigarettes, has morphed into three guys in their forties and fifties looking for a shady spot to have some Pad Thai and a Jamba Juice.

But with all the flux in Seafair tradition, the day's marquee event hasn't changed since I've been attending. At least half of those in attendance park their lawn chairs solely to gaze up at the Blue Angels, the United States Navy's precision fighter air show.

I slightly enjoyed those blue and yellow jets my first ten viewings, and I still admire the pilots' skill and athleticism. But then the novelty dissipated, and the Blue Angels started looking like a really nice dining room set, where the seats are electric chairs made of the finest mahogany. They may look cool, but their true function cannot be questioned.

I understand that many don't share my left coast viewpoint on the BAs, so call me a bleeding heart socialist, call me a commie ass clown, or just call me a guy who's tired of the same two-hour routine every year, but that's a pretty expensive demonstration of government testosterone.

But hey, time to take the high road and ignore the politics of the day.

Every year, after I return home from twelve hours in the sun and I'm scolded by my wife for not using sunscreen, I flop down on the couch and ponder the boats and the food, the planes and the babes, the friends and the laughs.

The boats of the past will never return, the Pride of Pay 'n' Pak, the Miss Budweiser, Atlas Van Lines, Miller American, Winston Eagle, Squire Shop or Circus Circus.

Will I keep coming back? Yes, I will...even if Corey, Tom and I have to form a Little Rascal caravan.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A worrier's perspective: How to cope with an unraveling economy.

It's decreased eleven percent in two weeks.

To what, you may ask, could I be referring?

The ozone layer over Bill O'Reilly's house since he began mouth-breathing on a full-time basis? Nope, that's twenty-six percent.

That problem I had that ended up lasting way more than four hours and forced me to live the past fortnight in sweat pants? Negative. And please, next time you see me, eye contact would be appreciated.

Michele Bachmann's chances of being elected President? No, because eleven percent of zero is still zero.

I'm talking about the American stock market, which has plunged nearly eleven percent in the past fourteen days.

It's been the lead story lately in every form of media, so yes, we could have avoided the news, but it would've been pretty difficult. Fears have surfaced of a "double dip recession," another round of economic upheaval, a further spike in the national unemployment rate.

It's scary, it's frustrating, it's maddening...and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

I hate to say this, but these billions and trillions of speculative dollars ebb and flow outside our human condition and operate completely independently of most of us; we have no control.

We suffer the consequences of these market fluctuations, yet we're no different than a blue-and-red-chested Buffalo Bills fan who cheers his team from the nosebleed section—we're spectators, and no amount of lucky-pantyhose-wearing is going to change the outcome of the game.

One of my kids is a worrier. I won't say which, but boy, can she ever bake up a good cream of worry casserole. My constant mantra to her is "Look, only spend time mulling over things you can control or change. Everything else you worry about is just a waste of time."

I'm a huge believer in the axiom, at least intellectually, but it's time for me to take my own advice, because I'm fairly convinced that she's inherited my worry gene. For example here are a few things I can't control, yet still fret about:

Aging—It would probably help if I saw fewer movies with Eric Dane, Ryan Gosling and Matthew McConaughey, but come on, the only alternative is an eternal nap in a pine futon with a dirt comforter.

What people think—I say I don't care, but I do, I do, I do. And if you like what I've said here, please copy and paste it into your status.

Throwing up—Seriously, none of us can stop this train once it starts rolling. We might as well just get it over with so we can order Domino's before they close.

Traffic—This is probably the most difficult problem to overcome. The only way I would be able to achieve nirvana on a congested freeway would be to personally witness the driver of the Trans-Am who just cut me off lose total control of his bladder and bowels.

Losing total control of my bladder and bowels—Please see "aging."

I know the economy sucks, the unemployment rate is high and now, the stock market has tanked. So I'm going to do the one thing I can control, the single act I'm capable of to demonstrate my frustration.

I'm going to violently hurl this newspaper into the recycle pile.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I cry at weddings...so sue me!

Are you a crier?

Not a crybaby or a whiner, but someone who can’t slap those sandbags down fast enough to stave off a flash flood of salty, frothy rapids?

As kids, most of us cried frequently. Tears were our brains’ natural reaction to pain, both emotional and physical. As six-year-olds, when we fell off our sting rays and asphalt-raked our hip and knee after attempting to ride cross-armed, we sat awkwardly beneath our bikes, our heads slowly pointed to the skies, mouths gaping into a yawning grin of agony. Eye contact with Mom meant unbridled throes of anguish, while exposure only to peers resulted in a quiet and private pain management.

And naturally, as grown-ups, we also shed a tear from time to time. Ninety-nine percent of us cry when something is triggered within us which we really can’t control. It just happens.

But that one percent, that superminority of our adult citizenry, seems to tap their emotions to manipulate like a master baker utilizes fondant.

Before every Friday night game, my high school football coach’s lip would begin quivering, his baritone cracking, by the time he’d uttered that fourth clichĂ© comparing a bunch of sixteen-year-olds to American World War II paratroopers. After he’d likened our undersized defensive tackle to some guy who’d swum the English Channel with no arms or legs, Coach had rendered himself incapable of communicating through his spastic, mucus gurgling sobs. Some of my teammates hopped right onto his express bus to Inspirationville, while others felt he probably should have practiced his talk in the bathroom mirror one last time.

And then, there’s Speaker John Boehner of the United States House of Representatives. This guy…wow.

Boehner claims he can’t even speak to a group of school kids without losing it. Whenever he describes his humble beginnings as one of twelve offspring of a bar owner in Ohio, he barely makes it to the third line of the speech before his face twitches, his orange skin reddens and he saltily barks his desire to duck behind the stage to smoke a Pall Mall and gather himself.

What an endearing man he is, no? He’s not afraid to put himself out there, to display his vulnerable side. Oh, except when he’s discussing denying healthcare to women, kids and old people. His face stays a healthy burnt ember for that topic.

But really, the reason I brought up the subject of crying is to talk about…well...me...again.

I consider myself a member of that other ninety-nine percent…the Criers of Noble Repute.

Oh, boy, did I cry this past weekend. It was at a wedding for someone whom I’d never met, among people I didn’t know.

Even before my daughters came along, my emotions had always bubbled quickly to the surface upon watching a bride dancing with her father. Then, after my girls were born, I could barely cope when witnessing this amazing transitional moment in the lives of those two people on the dance floor.

On Saturday night, the bride’s dad wasn’t around.

He lost a battle with pancreatic cancer two years ago, but the bride made sure that his contributions to her life and her affinity for him were incorporated throughout a beautiful ceremony.

As I gazed upon the newlyweds sharing the evening’s first dance, a small lump in my throat developed, and slowly creeped in size from a Russian tea cake to an avocado pit to a tennis ball. Uh oh. Here we go again.

I was ill-prepared for what came next, as the massive obstruction in my windpipe gave way to a gusher of tears.

The  groom beckoned his mother onto the floor for the second dance, as did the bride…

with her mom, as well.