Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Weight Watchers Works. Wait, What?

In case I haven't mentioned it, I'm fifty. Oh, I have mentioned it? How many times? Wow, sorry.

Anyway, after 18,417 days spent cruising down life's interstate, I can glance in the rear view mirror and see quite a few stretches where I wasn't exactly wearing a seat belt.

Safe sex analogy? I'm going to say no, since my dad reads this.

What I'm really getting at is, how often have you looked back at an event or entire time period in your life, slapped your forehead V8-style, and yelped, "What the hell was I thinking?"

The thing is, no matter how savvy and seasoned my old carcass grows, these OMG moments still occur, the most recent a mere month ago. But first, a few more dated examples:

How could I have allowed a girlfriend to convince me that popping my collar, wearing penny loafers with no socks and stylishly tying a sweater around my neck, even with Miami Vice sitting atop the Nielson ratings, was a solid decision?

Why did I promise the same emotionally rickety individual that, in the event of her untimely demise, I would personally pen her biography, so that everyone on our big blue marble could understand the calamity of a brilliant life cut short?

Since I'd always wanted to wear my hair in a ponytail, yet preferred short bangs to locks which cascaded over my eyes, why did I surmise that a mullet provided the best of both worlds? After testing this naturally-cultivated 'coon-skin cap look one afternoon at Safeway, my wife forbade me from ever venturing out again with such an abhorrent hair hat.

While slightly offended at the time, I thank you now, my bride, one thousand fold.

But no obscene behaviors, no loathsome practices, have reared their little, double-chinned prairie dog heads with more frequency than my eating escapades. Since I was old enough to pronounce the word "Caligula,", I've vacillated between moderation and all-out Homer Simpson-esque gluttony.

Eat an entire pizza?  Come on, challenge me, my man. Pint of ice cream? Easy, then I'll eat Ben and Jerry.

Today marks the end of four full weeks on "Weight Watchers Online For Men"(I can't really tell any difference from the regular Weight Watchers, other than the bold font on the homepage and how the words might be uttered by the dulcet baritone of James Earl Jones.).

And since it's now been a month, I've again had an opportunity to revisit my behavior prior to beginning this regimen which is more about sane eating than it is a gimmicky diet.

The concept is simple—keep track of everything you eat. It's similar to how accountants or lawyers record billable time, but without the social stigmas of repressed arsonists with mother issues or soulless sycophants who pray on baked daytime-TV-watching whiplash victims.

So unfair. I was an accountant, and my mother issues were minimal most days.

It's all about ownership. Everything you throw down your mineshaft, you report to James Earl Jones. The day before I started WW, I enjoyed a twelve-inch meatball sub with chipotle sauce (What the hell? Was I fourteen and going through a growth spurt?). It was delicious, no doubt, but if I'd introduced a bag of Sour Cream 'n' Onion Lays, that single meal would've devoured all my points for an entire day.

As with so many other areas of life, I'm just trying to be mindful. I'll still knock down a couple of beers or glasses of wine on the weekend, but when all my choices show up in digital splendor, I'll think twice about lining up another IPA.

So far, I've given birth to a fairly robust food baby—nine pounds down. My clothes are a little looser and when I look in the mirror, there's a little less fleshy overhang, but this train needs to keep on rolling for another twenty ell bees.

Then I can buy a smaller sweater to tie around my neck.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Moon Landing Was Taped Right After Laugh-In.

One of our nation's most eloquent wordsmiths, George Walker Bush, said it best:

“There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee...that says, fool me once, shame on..shame on you. Fool me...you...you can't get fooled again.”

While some thought these were merely bumbling fragments uttered by the most gaping simpleton to hold America's highest office, Bush was actually utilizing one of poetry's most complicated meters, known as Villanelle, a form made up of five tercets followed by a quatrain.

Just seeing if you're paying attention. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are definitely not repeated alternately, so yeah, the guy is most definitely a colossal clodpate after all.

But in my opinion, the gist of the fur ball he was struggling to cough up is accurate. When someone tries to fool us, to hoax us or to coax us, they may free-skate on the rink of deception for a while, but eventually we'll catch on to their wheedling ways. Right?

Well, usually, but not all of us.

By now, even the most distant observer of the American sporting landscape has heard the strange tale of Manti Te'O, All-American linebacker from the University of Notre Dame. Te'O garnered worldwide sympathy after revealing the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend within mere hours of each other.

But it didn't take long for a few big, juicy bugs to splatter on the windshield of his pitymobile. You see, although Manti claimed to have lost the love of his life, he'd never met this "girlfriend" face-to-face; they'd only corresponded over the phone and through emails and texts. Even when notified that she'd been involved in a horrific automobile accident and was subsequently diagnosed with Leukemia, Te'O maintained a two time zone buffer from his dying soul mate.

And after being told that she'd succumbed to her illness in September, he dodged her funeral to play in a football game, thus sticking a fork in a relationship that contained as much eye contact as a Stevie Wonder-Helen Keller stare down.

As a show of hometown support for Te'O and his native state, leis were distributed to all who attended the game that sad Saturday. Te'O cried and gesticulated on the field of battle, pointing skyward, kneeling groundward and dislocating his opponents' cranial connective tissue in between. He left the field emotionally spent yet basking in the bristly buzz of public compassion.

His saga, portrayed in countless interviews and even a Sports Illustrated cover story, propelled him into a runner-up finish for college football's premier award, the Heisman Trophy.

And that's when things got weird.

Remember the girlfriend? Uh, yeah, she never existed. And neither did any of the drama surrounding her—the car wreck, the leukemia, her tragic death—hogwash, hooey, a hoax. Manti Te'O had been bamboozled, and now the world knew it.

We Americans are indeed a strange lot. We love any story of an individual or team who faces insurmountable obstacles, yet emerges victorious. We devour the accomplishments of a 1980 U.S. hockey team or a pilots who lands planes on rivers.

Heroes? Yes, I'll take a four-pack and supersize it, please.

But when one of our idols slips up, watch the hell out. Based on what's happened to Lance Armstrong, as long as he maintains residence in the U S of A, he's got himself a useful little skill set in being able to run really fast and super far.

We're instantly distrustful. Was Manti Te'O an earnest young man whose naivete rendered him the victim of the cruelest of pranks or a devious co-conspirator whose complicity in the hoax was aimed at maximizing public sympathy and hence personal earning potential?

We'll probably never know. Sure, it's highly bizarre that some dude is convinced that he deeply loves a person whom he's never met. But do you remember when you were twenty-two? I do. That was right around the time I got rid of a bunch of satanically-messaged rock albums based on some cable access show I'd watched at three in the morning.

I also had a girlfriend so insane that I gladly would've traded her for an online version, even if she were actually a thirty-seven-year-old vacuum repairman named Lars.

Am I simpatico with his version of events, that he was hoodwinked by an opportunistic sociopath whose motives will never truly be known?

Do I believe Manti Te'O?

I think I do.

Monday, January 21, 2013

No Wi-Fi at the Laundromat.

What happened here?

Did I lose my keys in the blackberries again?

Should I have ponied up the sixty bucks and let the vet check my cat's prostate instead?  

Who scratched up that dinosaur foot?

You know what happens when you assume. What you're seeing portrayed in the image at left is the result of a WMD—a Washing Machine Disaster, and this photo portrays day four of the dermal rebuilding process.

Have you ever sliced yourself on something so thin and sharp that you don't feel it (see Dan Aykroyd as Julia Child, 1975) and you don't notice how impressively you're bleeding until strange crimson smudges appear on everything you touch?

Even then it took a couple of seconds as I pondered, Interesting, that looks like a drop of blood on the floor. Who could be bleeding? Could it be me? Don't be daft, man! Interesting, there's another drop. I'll just check my hand even though I don't feel anyth...shit! Oh, man. Oh, gross.

Red rivulets running down my wrist, I shoved my hand under the kitchen tap, applied pressure to my freshly sliced fingers and tried to scavenge a Band-Aid that might fit that awkward ravine between my knuckles. After three unsuccessful attempts with different sizes, I realized that Johnson and Johnson really could have used a third Johnson to invent a Band-Aid that is able to establish permanent residency in Knuckle Gulch because there is no such Band-Aid.

On Saturday, the washer and I swapped more fluids than Charlie Sheen at a "So you want to be my kids' nanny" ice breaker.

Let's face it, when I try to fix stuff, two of the following three results usually occur:

1) It takes at really long time, like half a day.
2) The problem I'm attempting to solve becomes worse.
3) I sweat and bleed...a lot.

But this time, I knelt humbly, Tebowing my forehead against the cool sheet metal of my attacker and pointing my bloody paw heavenward to coax the fleeing platelets in a northerly direction.

Fortune had smiled...three for three.

And yes, the washer is now in even worse condition. At first it didn't spin. Now, it doesn't spin and also leaks all over the floor. What began as an ill-conceived stab at home maintenance quickly deteriorated into profound laundric malpractice.

Informed that an obstructed pump filter can cause the spin cycle to malfunction, sixty-one cents and a bobby pin later, I'd thought I'd cleared the obstruction. I felt a similar buzz of satisfaction to the one I felt once upon digging out a chunk of ear wax that would make a miner forty-niner blush.

Yeah, no. With everything hooked back up, I cranked the spigot. Instantly, an amoeba of water creeped out from under the machine, slowly advancing to other rooms like a Nazi water army where the laundry room was already occupied France. Fortunately, the Allies repelled the enemy just short of the throw rug, which I suppose would be England.

Now, I'm at the laundromat, washing and drying not only a week's worth of clothes, but also the huge stack of towels required to sop up the Nazi water.

Folks have come and gone, but so far, no one has exhibited anywhere near the volume of soiled garments I've dragged into this place. My older daughter's stack towers above the rest of the family's. What the hell? I think. How many changes of clothes can one person wear in a week? Did she host the Golden Globes and I missed it?

Sure, it's been kind of a hassle and it's taken a while, but after seeing a lot of people who do this all the time, I can't help feeling fortunate about having both the means to own a washer...

...and the ability to clot.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

So Good.

She left Tuesday morning, after five nights with us.

Over the past decade, Sealth High School in West Seattle, has been oscillating across a cultural zip line to Chongqing, Seattle's city in The People's Republic of China. Scores of teachers and students have ventured to and fro across the frothy Pacific, as have Chief Sealth's principal and Seattle's mayor.

The whole thing got a little more awesome Saturday night. For the first time, the girls' basketball team from Nankai High School in Chonqing played the Chief Sealth Ladyhawks. But I'll get to that in a second.

Last fall, our daughter brought up the idea of hosting a player sometime in January. My wife doesn't process information like this, but I thought "Okay, sounds good. Let's do it. Now I’ll forget about it and get back to this bag of Pop Chips."

And not until the Ms. burst through our front door cradling an Aerobed (which I highly recommend—Costco, $139.99. Slather on a strip of memory foam and it feels like lyin' in butta'.), did the old tickler file kick in—"Oh, yeah. That’s right. She’s coming on Thursday.” I may not be quick on the uptake, but nothing jogs the memory like a big box of inflatable mattress in the middle of your living room.

Thursday evening arrived. The two teams had already met and spent a couple of hours getting to know each other over pizza at the school. Around 6:30, our daughter's text told us she and her new friend were on their way home in our Kia Minivan, evidence that we truly are an international family.

Everyone was nervous as the girls stepped slowly into our living room from the chilly air. She stood a couple inches shorter than our daughter and ducked slightly behind her. She appeared slender in her purple and white team warm-ups and wore her black hair tightly cropped. When she smiled, I could feel a jolt of psychic energy emanating from my wife and younger daughter—"Oh, she's adorable." She was cute.

We took turns introducing ourselves and even though I'd previously told myself, "Her hearing will be fine, don’t yell. Just speak slowly," when my turn came, I barked my name out like I was trying to be heard over a blow dryer.

“Follow me,” my elder daughter said. “I’ll show you where to put your suitcase.”

She smiled and rolled her suitcase a step behind her host. “Your house is beautiful,” she slowly pronounced. Over the years, when people have initially surveyed the interior of our three-bedroom, one-bathroom rambler, I’ve heard things like, “I love the color of your walls” or “I like your wood floors,” but never those simple words, “Your house is beautiful.”

“Thank you,” replied my daughter. “Come sit down.”

The four of us sat around her, competing to ask questions, which made us talk faster and louder, which made her not understand. After a while, we calmed down a smidge and got to know her a little.

She’s seventeen. At fourteen, she moved away from home to attend Nankai. While she talks frequently with her family on the phone, she sees them only during the summer and a short winter break.

She doesn’t watch TV. Like ever. I think that one threw for a loop the two television master watchers in the room. I won’t say which daughter, but when I glanced over at her, her eyes said, “How sad. There’s a whole world you're denied.”

Springing up suddenly, our guest jogged into her room and returned, not jogging, balancing an armful of artwork, chopsticks and spicy meaty delicious things in clear little envelopes. And as a special added bonus for my co-workers, I’ve put up one of those gifts, a cool hanging thing, in my cubicle. Come on by.

Over the next few days, the two girls hung out constantly. When they weren’t atop the Space Needle or at Pike Place Market with their cohorts, they were at our house, where we plied our guest with as many Western foods as her constitution could muster. Beverage of choice? Either Coke or coffee. Dairy products, especially cheese which is a rarity in the PRC, became a favorite. We loved it when she’d remark, “So good.”

Back to Saturday, night of the big game. The festivities began with a few words from various program supporters, including Seattle’s mayor, Mike McGinn, who arrived late. At the conclusion of his speech, a group of “lion dancers” took the floor for a traditional Chinese dance in which two people occupy a lion costume, mimicking its movements while dancing to a pounding rhythm section.

But then, controversy. During the middle of the performance, with the entire audience spellbound by the show, Mayor McGinn decided it might be a good time to meet the Nankai team. Within ten seconds, he was engulfed, first by a ring of Chinese players and then by an outer ring of paparazzi, their flashes exploding in rapid succession and completely distracting everyone.

It was freaking ridiculous. Look, I voted for Mike McGinn and I may vote for him again when he seeks a second term later this year, but come on, Mike, that was a chumpish move. How rude is it to show up late and miss your photo op with the team, and then completely diss the lion dancers halfway through their show? I’m jabbing at my temple right now, mister. Think.

My daughter had been anxious about the game, since apparently, Nankai is the third ranked team in all of China. That’s not exactly like being number three in Luxembourg, you know? And they were good—fundamentally skilled and aggressive, pushing around the yanks from the getgo. Our guest was lightning quick, constantly driving into the paint and either dishing off or laying it in. After a close first half, the Chinese team pulled away in the second, winning by twenty.

Afterward, the teams embraced and assembled for an impromptu “Gangnam Style” at center court. Nothing beats the international language of obnoxious pop music that sticks to your brain for days on end.

Forty eight hours later, she sat on her last night with us. We surrounded her on the couch as usual. “I will miss you,” she said, making eye contact with each of us. Then she looked away and everything got quiet. She was crying. While my wife grabbed a box of tissues, I hurried out of the room and came back with a couple of things we thought she might like.

Seattle skyline socks:

And some adidas slides:

According to well-placed sources, these two items are crucial in displaying the off-court "baller" look. It didn’t exactly lighten the mood, however. In fact, she just peeked into the box then closed it and looked away with a pained expression.

“Do you like them?” our daughter asked.

“Of course,” she replied softly.

My wife, younger daughter and I hung out a little more, then excused ourselves, leaving the teenagers to enjoy one more night together. By now, they’d become quite adept at communicating with each other; they shared music and got themselves hooked up to a Skype-type software that will hopefully allow them to communicate in the future.

Funny how five days can change your outlook on so many things.

So good.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Top Five Dream Destinations.

My most common dream subjects:

1) New York—Most weeks, it's once or twice, but sometimes I'll dream four nights a week about living in New York City. "What's the attraction?" I wake up wondering, "is it the allure of living the footloose American ideal in the Big Apple? Could it be the omnipresent magnetism of the city's creative energy?"

Swim to shallower waters, deep thinker. It's the pizza.

2) Airplane crashes (jets, to be more precise)—This one's creepy. I'm sure it contains gallons of twisted Freudian significance, especially since it occurs so frequently.

I'm standing outside in a large field ringed by forest. Someone stands beside me, but I never look at them and I couldn't tell you if they are male or female, they're simply a voice in my ear.

We watch as a large jetliner descends above us. Everything appears to be running smoothly, yet the plane seems louder than it should be.

"I think it's landing," the faceless, genderless voice says.

The thunder of the engines grows loud enough to shake the ground and pound in my ears. The aircraft begins swaying from side to side., its nose tilting further downward. "I'm not too sure about that!" I reply.

We yell something like "Oh, my God!" or "Holy shit!" and watch the monster plane disappear behind the tree line.

Silence. There's an explosion, but no noise, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Thick black smoke billows upward, a few long flickers of flame stabbing above the forest. The sky darkens and that's where it always ends.

3) Whoa.

On a lighter note, it's the fall of nineteen-eighty-something, the weekend before classes begin. I'm returning to Theta Chi, my fraternity, after living at home for the summer, reuniting with guys I haven't seen for a few months and giddy with excitement about the year ahead.

My roommate Fritz and his brother Sam alternate between leading and supporting roles.

4) Playing in my final high school football game—I make sure to tell my wife immediately after I have one of these dreams. She seems annoyed when I wake her up to tell her, but I know deep down how much she loves to hear about how awesome I used to be.

5) I'm naked in public—The strange thing is, it never seems to bother me that much. For whatever reason, in that time and place, it makes sense for me to be freaking nude and everyone else fully clothed.

Just call me David.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Something I Learned From a Kid.

We leaned against the double doors, prying them open as a chilly gust engulfed our faces. It's a sensation to which I've grown accustomed—the sharp contrast between a gym's pungent humidity and the cold desolation of a January night.

The basketball game had ended ten minutes previous, yet my daughter's cheeks still flushed with the remnants of her exertion. She walked beside me, still in her uniform. I put my arm around her shoulder—the one not draped with her "seasoned" athletic bag, and I could tell she was still sweating a little under her "Hawks"-emblazoned shooting shirt.

I chirped open the Hyundai as we approached it. "Why don't you guys ever shower in the locker room?" I asked.

"Dad, I've told you this so many times. Nobody does that. Gross."

"I know, but here you've got this brand new school with brand new locker rooms and brand new showers and no one uses them. It's bizarre."

"Dad, things are different now. We don't parade around naked in front of each other, okay? Hey, can we stop for a Blizzard?"

"Mmmm," I thought, "Mud Pie Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Wait a second, you're not Homer Simpson, for God's sake. Plus, you're on Weight Watchers, Day Eight. Show some self-control."

"Nah," I answered, starting the car and cranking the heat, "We should get home."

Maybe this has happened to you before. You're discussing a subject you've covered a million times before, yet another topic somehow mixes in to form a profound flashback. It happened to me last night, when my mental bartender whipped up a frothy PTSD cocktail whose main ingredients were fear, embarrassment and ultimately, redemption.

For most of the fourth graders at Chinook Elementary School during that winter of 1973, excitement ruled the day as Mr. Van Epps passed out the permission slips. But not for everyone.

"Okay, listen up. You guys have to remember to have these signed and returned as soon as possible. We're doing a week-long swimming unit down at the new pool in two weeks. If you're parent doesn't sign this, you don't swim, simple as that."

"Whoa," I thought. "For a second there, I thought he said the class is going swimming. That's crazy. No one swims at school. He must have actually said we're doing a 'skimming unit' or a "trimming unit' or something."

Then Janice, a girl who'd weighed in at thirty-six pounds on weighing and measuring day, handed me the paper. I scanned it:

Chinook Elementary School
Permission Slip for Fourth Grade Swimming Unit
King County Forward Thrust Pool


"It's going to be a lot of fun, and don't worry if you aren't a strong swimmer. You'll be tested and put into groups," Mr. Van Epps shouted above the din of giddy chatter.

My guts churned. "Oh, that makes me feel a lot better," I thought. "Not only will I have to show my entire class my boy boobs that are even bigger than Cheryl's (the tall girl who'd already started developing), they'll also get to watch me flail around like an idiot and then drown."

The class buzzed with excitement. Boys and girls hopped in their seats in anticipation of hurling their wiry little Gumby bodies off the new ten-foot high dive.

A handful of larger kids sat quietly and pretended to scan their permission slips.

During that first ten years, even though I'd spent most of it at least thirty percent over the recommended body mass, I'd somehow managed to stay relatively active without displaying my naked torso. Running through the sprinkler or wading into a lake could be pulled off in a tank top with minimum ridicule. And even my mom and dad hadn't seen my shirtless body since they'd stopped bathing me five years prior.

This was unacceptable. In a fully clothed world, I could rely on my wit or artistic ability to level the playing field when stacked up against the more physically appealing young men. But now, who would care if that beached whale they were looking at could tell a joke or draw the best Fire Prevention Week poster?

Um, that would be no one.

Avoiding the permission slip was also out of the question. My mom knew everything about everything and thus, my fate was sealed.

Dread enveloped me. Although I never knew the feeling of being drafted, that two weeks of waiting felt like waiting to parachute into the swampy minefields of Da Nang...without a shirt on.

Finally, the day arrived, the Monday to end all Mondays. My classmates and I filed out of the bus hauling water-proof bags, into which our soggy suits could be stuffed later. I couldn't even visualize what "later" would look like.

The sterile, steamy stench of chlorine still makes my stomach lurch, just as it did that morning. Mr. Van Epps escorted the boys into the locker room. "Okay, no messing around. Put on your trunks, take a shower, walk out to the pool and line up."


By now, I was numb. My eyes focused on the puddled floor tiles as I stripped and positioned my swimsuit so that I could peel off my underwear and pull on the suit with maximum speed and efficiency.

Other boys were yelling and shoving each other as they showered, but I just doused my hair a little and ambled slowly to the pool area, alone. I folded my arms to shield my flabby front and nestled into the line for the swim test.

Religiously fixing my gaze downward, I finally reached the front of the line, where a high school kid stood in the waist-deep shallow end.

"Hi!" the freckly-faced red-head barked. "Go ahead and climb in."

I sat at on the edge, my arms still crossed.

"It's okay, it's not deep."

I slid in awkwardly, scratching my back and giving myself a swimsuit wedgie.

"Do you know how to swim?"

I shook my head.

"Do you know how to float on your stomach?"

I shook my head again.

"Okay, just give it a try. It's easy. Watch me." He fell forward and effortlessly floated on the water's surface. He stood and flicked his long hair backward. "Now it's your turn. What's your name?"


"Okay, Tim, give it your best shot."

I unfolded my arms and extended them, slowly easing myself face down into the lukewarm pool. My chest and stomach felt buoyant. I was doing it! I was floating! I stood back up  and smiled proudly at the freckled dude.

"Tim, you've got to make your legs float, too. I'll tell you what. We'll put you in the beginners group. You'll learn a lot there. Just go ahead and get out of the pool and stand over there with those kids." He pointed to a group of boys and girls standing at the other side of the shallow end.

I needed to find a ladder to hoist myself out of the pool, so for the first time, I looked around. The intermediate group had accumulated about halfway down the pool and it looked like the advanced kids were way down at the deep end.

But no ladder in sight. I lumbered back to where I'd dropped into the pool, where the rest of the students were still queued up for the test. Not powerful enough to even hoist myself onto my knees, I slapped my chest on the ledge and slithered sideways like a Walrus eager to sun itself.

My entire body lay on the pool deck before I could pull my knees under me and stand up. For the second time that day, I looked around.

Three boys and a couple of girls in the intermediate group stood about thirty feet away.

The were laughing.

And pointing.

At me.

I wanted to die, and that's not a euphemism. I really did, to just cease existing as a human being. There I stood, in front of my entire universe, naked, humiliated...

...and resolved to never let it happen again.

It's been forty years since the swimming unit, but when I think about that fat ten-year-old boy, he's the guy I've always aspired to be. Whenever I'm faced with a challenge like getting healthier or choosing perseverance over self-pity, that's who I summon.

While we strive to evolve and improve, sometimes we take for granted that our future self can only be better than our past self.

I'm not so sure about that.

Between fourth and fifth grade, that kid joined Weight Watchers, lost twenty pounds and learned to swim. And as an eleven-year-old, he passed the swim test for the intermediate group.

On the last day of the fifth grade swimming unit, he jumped off the high dive into the deep water.

I'm thinking he really did it on the first day.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Quiz for Your Protection.

On January 1, 2007, I resolved to stop "talking out of my butt." With greater frequency, I'd been hearing those closest to me saying things like,'"Dude, quit speaking out of your ass" or "Hey, butt clown, you don't know what the hell you're talking about."

Those daughters of mine—such pistols.

Yeah, anyway, back on New Years' Day of Ot Seven, I announced to a skeptical audience that I would only issue public proclamations that were backed by facts.

It had to happen. My kids were getting older and calling me out on stuff. No more could I insert a valuable lesson through a creative web of deceit. For instance, when one of my darlings asked me why asparagus made her pee smell weird, I could no longer make something up, like "It's because you don't eat enough vegetables. It's nature's way of showing your body how profoundly toxic it is. If I were you, I'd stop inhaling Goldfish and start gnawing on kale hunks before your little kidneys turn into petite baggies of gooey scar tissue...

"...there, there, stop crying, honey. Daddy's just the messenger."

Actually, asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan, which is also found in onions, garlic, rotten eggs and the secretions of skunks. The alluring bouquet occurs when mercaptan is broken down by enzymes in your digestive tract.

I learned that on the internet, another reason why it's so much harder to pull the wool over the eyes of innocents these days. And that's why I've decided to turn this thing around, to spin the world wide interwebbernet's power into a delicious digital smoothie that quenches our thirst for knowledge and dispels the half-cocked claims of the egomaniacal know-it-alls...like me.

I've assembled a multiple choice quiz. After racking my brain for questions whose answers I may be highly tempted to surgically extract from my bottom, I've accumulated a few that are designed to test your bullshit meter. Good luck to you, friend.

The stuff doesn't have grapes or nuts in them, so why the heck are they called "Grape Nuts?"

a) The man at Post who developed the recipe was a bachelor who'd been down on his "luck" for a while. Rather than the obvious moniker of "Blue Balls," he took a more subtle tack, dubbing them "Grape Nuts."

b) The recipe was actually Hungarian in origin. Since a literal translation would have been "Cardboard Eye Crust," the folks at Post chose to finesse the title.

c) The original formula for Grape-Nuts called for grape sugar, which is composed mostly of glucose, unlike most other sugar sources and food sweeteners which are principally sucrose.

d) The name arose during the 1960s as part of the United States Army's LSD cereal naming project.

Since this popular website features no advertising, how does Craigslist make money?

a) It doesn't. That guy Craig is just super rich and nice.

b) Read the fine print. Once a year, Craigslist charges a random user one billion dollars to post an entry.

c) Craigslist makes money by charging a $10 fee for brokered apartment listings in New York City, $75 for job listings in San Francisco and charges $25 for job postings in six of its largest U.S. markets. This website also charges $10 (in the US) for an ad that comes under the category "therapeutic services." Craigslist charges $5 for re-posting an ad that is live.

d) That's actually Craig himself selling you that couch he found soaked and moldy on the curb. One word—volume.

Why do humans have toenails?

a) So we can tell ourselves after she breaks up with us that sure, she was beautiful, smart and really cool, but her freaking toenails looked like curry-stained Tupperware lids.

b) In 1937, Great Grandmother Zelda Kardashian purchased human toenail rights, thereby assuring the family nail polish empire for centuries to come.

c) Toenails have no practical function; they're an evolutionary leftover.

d) They're a natural reminder to maintain our health. If we can't reach our toenails, we're too fat and will die soon. Look it up, it's what happened to the Romans.

Are you ready for the answers?

All are option "c"! Ha! Always pick "c," right? Do you understand, now, how easy it is to spin highly believable answers out of whole cloth? I'm thinking that probably out of those three questions, you were lucky to get one.

Don't be bamboozled by know-it-all charlatans. As Ronald Reagan once said, during the height of his dementia, "Trust, but verify."

You're welcome.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year from All of Me.

"Dad, you're not fat, you're just overweight."
-Zoe, my seventeen-year-old daughter

January 1, 2013.

I slowly awakened, exhaling gratefully. My relief was palpable, and I mumbled a silent oath of gratitude that I hadn't actually attended a Styx concert in my back yard, naked on a blanket while spooning the stubbly scapulae of a bearded Taylor Swift.

Rolling onto my back and propping my head on a second pillow, my hands rested comfortably atop my belly. I looked across at my fifty-year-old fingers, interlaced at an equal altitude to my crusty eyeballs. Performing some rudimentary calculations, I quickly surmised that my hands lay approximately twelve inches above the surface of the mattress.

Everything in between was me and my DNA. Nothing but fella flesh. A heapin' helpin' of Tim loaf.

I woke this morning a year older, a year smarter and about six years fatter.

And honestly, my credibility is shot. A couple of years ago I proclaimed a new healthy tack after the doctor labeled me as obese while pointing accusingly, his latexed finger still moist with my shame. Last year, I again threw down the gauntlet and announced that enough is enough, it's time to whittle off some of this lard or forever live in Elastica, land of sweatpants and football jerseys.

I  realize that as we age, things become increasingly difficult—losing weight, covering up bald spots, making people under forty laugh at a joke about Richard Nixon or pet rocks. However, some tasks actually keep getting easier, such as eating an entire sixteen-inch sausage and Canadian Bacon pie. Twenty years ago, I might wimp out a slice and a half short, whereas now I can choke one down with the prowess of a human anaconda.

It's also become significantly easier to watch football for hours on end. In the past, I may have gone out to throw the ball with friends at halftime. Now, I rise only to stave off involuntary couch voiding or to fend off the dangers of sedentary bed sores and perilous clot migrations.

About three years ago, I lost twenty pounds simply by counting calories, but I seem to have lost that discipline. Repeated forms of motivation, like countless "biggest loser" competitions at work have rendered my efforts fruitless.

So now, it's time to dance with and old friend. I joined Weight Watchers this morning, the same organization I graced with my presence forty years ago, one hand grasping my mom's palm and the other a doctor's note.

I want this to work. I want to stop grunting when I get out of chairs. I want my knees and back and ankles and feet to stop fighting back and return to my squad. I want food that misses my mouth to fall to the floor, rather than a conveniently located chin crevice.

It's time to leave Limbaugh and go Gosling.