Too Lazy To Write A Book

Short and not-so-short essays and thoughts, because writing a book is too damn hard

No Choice

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On this, the week of my wedding anniversary, I would like to take this opportunity to explain why my opinion no longer matters (if it ever really did in the first place).

My wife and I had been craving a little couple time, so we decided to take an overnight trip to remind ourselves that we continue to like each other when not yelling at our kids to finish their college applications (or, more accurately, when they’re not yelling at us).

My wife took the lead in planning.  This is not shocking.

The evening before our anniversary, she opened her laptop and asked for my attention.  “Take a look at these two restaurants”, she said, “and let me know which one you think we should choose.”

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Top 13 Actual Comments Made By My In-Laws In My Family Room While I’m Trying To Watch The Baseball Playoffs…*

 

  1. “I don’t like their outfits.”
  2. “All this spitting…it’s disgusting!”
  3. “That food in the Applebees commercial looks really unappetizing.”
  4. “I haven’t followed baseball since the Dodgers left Brooklyn.  I watched Hodges and Reese and Snider and Furillo and…” (list continues uninterrupted for 20 minutes)
  5. “They never used to spit like this.  They used to just scratch themselves.”
  6. “I have a question: was Derek Jeter a good hitter?”
  7. “That pitcher with the beard on the Astros looks like the Smith Brothers Cough Drops guys.”
  8. “Did you know that Jose Altuve is batting .535 with runners in scoring position during the playoffs?” (having just read that stat moments before in the New York Times, and despite not previously knowing either who Jose Altuve is or what a runner in scoring position means)
  9. “WHY DO THEY KEEP SPITTING???”
  10. “What did the pitcher do wrong?” (moments after a pitcher was being removed after giving up several run-scoring hits)
  11. “What does this Geico commercial have to do with car insurance?”
  12. “His mother isn’t going to be happy, his uniform is SO dirty.”
  13. “I can’t take the spitting any more.” (before leaving the room to indulge in another Activia yogurt)

My Vanishing Act

empty CD rackFirst, she came for my CDs.

For those of you born before the year 1 BS (Before Streaming), compact discs were flat tiny saucers that both held music and served as chewables for backwards-facing infants in your car (covering your copy of “Exile On Main Street” in drool).  

They were also awesome.  They replaced record albums and cassettes as the average consumer’s music format of choice, with much clearer fidelity that made up for the fact that it took approximately 20 minutes to figure out how to unwrap them from their god damn impenetrable seals of hell after you bought one at Tower Records.

But they were still awesome.  And I had thousands of them.

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The Agony Of Defeet

e48883158e9c653eb3962600e1eaff62_this-little-piggy-this-little-piggy-clipart_2400-1696This past weekend, my wife rattled me a bit by pointing out that I had been to the emergency room a fair number of times over the last several years.  I objected, based on my relative good health and aversion to seeking medical help in general.  But I was wrong.  I’ve had several visits, some more memorable than others.  Our little trip down medical memory lane reminded me of something I wrote years ago about one such visit.  Since I hadn’t posted in a while, I thought I’d share it again.  Sadly, nothing much has changed.

I’d like to use this column to personally thank the emergency room personnel at Norwalk Hospital. As we debate the merits of universal health care, socialized medicine, insurance premiums and the magical healing powers of Shake Shack (I’m going to keep writing about them until they send me a gift certificate), it is reassuring to know that the doctors and nurses on call are well equipped to handle our urgent medical needs.

On a recent Sunday morning, I heard the screams of my kids outside and was startled to find a rabid stray dog growling at them from my front yard. Parental instincts immediately took over as I raced out barefoot to tackle the beast, pouncing on his ragged torso while giving my kids time to run inside to safety. The startled dog (who didn’t see me coming from his blind side) managed to snap his jaws at my feet, clipping my toe before running into the woods and disappearing.

I hobbled into the house to check on the kids, the adrenaline rush masking the pain from my bloody foot. My wife screamed at the sight of my mangled toe, but I ignored her until I could confirm that my kids were fine (if more than a little shaken). I tried to brush off her concerns but finally relented, racing to the hospital to get the care I so urgently needed. The nurses on call immediately mobilized, bringing a team of surgical experts who swiftly and ably went to work on saving the toe on my left foot. The doctor on call ably repaired my broken body, weeping as I told the story of my efforts. “Michael,” he told me, fighting through his tears, “we’re both heroes today.”

So then … uh … actually … that’s not quite what happened. Yes, I did go to the emergency room last Sunday. But the true story wasn’t quite that, well, dramatic.

In reality, I stubbed my toe. Continue reading

If My Teenagers Held A Press Conference

press-conference-mics_435_235_70_c1_c_tFULL TRANSCRIPT

SPOKESPERSON:  

I want to welcome all of you to the Family Press Briefing Room.   A few items of note before we begin.  One, please take off your shoes before stepping on the rug, and please use coasters for any warm beverages you may be drinking, these side tables don’t pay for themselves.  And consider this a warning, you may think the dog is cute and fluffy, but if you pet him once, he’ll be stuck to you for the rest of afternoon like white on rice, with a strong likelihood of the occasional hump.  So choose your actions carefully.

Before we start, I want to make it clear that the report published on BuzzFeed last night is completely false.  No member of the family has either been to Chuck E. Cheese’s, communicated with its leaders, or enjoyed “special” time with any of its employees.  We deny any suggestions that Mr. Cheese has manipulated the family into changing any of their weekend plans.  I can also confirm that, despite CNN’s recent assertion to the contrary, at least 1 million people attended the family’s  outdoor barbeque last month.  It was awesome.

Now, it is my honor to introduce (and likely be yelled at in the near future by), the Teenagers.

(APPLAUSE)

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What Not To Order On Saturday Night

he_restaurant-menu-man_s4x3_lgLet me offer a simple tale of caution to those navigating the piranha-infested waters of modern relationships, where seemingly minor decisions made without consideration may abruptly alter the ultimate outcome of your life.  This one’s impressive, and a little close-to-home:

After a date, my wife once broke up with a boyfriend for ordering the chicken.

Yes, it was that simple.  Choosing the poultry option on a Saturday evening dinner date brought a budding romance to a screeching halt, and there was nothing he could do to recover.

Tough crowd, right?

Before you demonize my wife (I can already hear her howling in protest), this likely requires a bit more explanation.  She claims that her decision to end the relationship the next day was not based on a general prejudice against our fine feathered friends (or whatever limp vegetable that probably accompanied it).  The chicken itself was not to blame.  It’s what his decision to order the chicken represented about him, confirming her previous suspicions that he was not right for her in the end.  Ordering the chicken was pedestrian.  It was safe.  It was ordinary.  And, above all else, it, was BORING.

And so he was gone, perhaps confused as to why she no longer returned his phone calls but hopefully at least somewhat satisfied by his Chicken Piccata.

As for me…on our first date, I had the pasta.  Or maybe it was a steak, I’m not entirely sure.  Whatever it was, I can pretty much guarantee it wasn’t chicken.  And thank god for that, as I had no idea that what I chose to eat that night was fraught with such importance.

But here’s the thing:  I actually like chicken.  

In fact, I think I like it a lot.  I’m a fairly adventurous eater, and have become more so with a greater willingness to experiment and try new things.  But chicken remains an excellent fall-back, a fail safe that can be counted on to deliver in almost any circumstance.  And a great Chicken Parmigiana remains one of my comfort food staples, tough to beat on a cold winter’s night…or really any night when I just want something good to eat.

 

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The Turkey Thief

turkeyHow was your turkey on Thanksgiving?  Was it moist and delicious?  Was the skin nice and crispy?  Did the leftovers last throughout the weekend?

Well good for you, I’m glad someone enjoyed their feast.  As for me, I didn’t get any turkey this year.  While you had thick brown gravy dripping out of the side of your mouth (and let’s face it, turkey is really just a delivery system for the gravy to begin with), I stared at my turkey-less plate and wondered how Thanksgiving had gone so wrong.

But I knew what had happened.  A turkey thief had emerged in our home for the holiday…and I had been the one to open the door for him.  Literally.

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The Morning Routine (Again)

bad breakfastOK, I’m cheating here a little (or a lot).  I wrote much of this story years ago, and it actually ran in the Westport News at the time.  But my mornings lately have looked a little similar, what with surly teenagers having taken over my house.  So it seemed to be worth updating this story and including here on my own page.  Might look a little familiar to a select few of you, but it’s been a while, so hopefully you don’t mind.  Read on.

This year’s (and every year’s) edition of The Unofficial Marital Handbook clearly demands that couples need to “keep communication channels open and flowing between each other at all times”.  According to the experts (thanks, Dr. Phil), a marriage only works by making sure there’s a consistently open and honest dialogue between partners, whereby each party feels comfortable sharing their insights and feelings at all times.  Healthy communication equals a healthy marriage.

But does it always?  Allow me to take the slightly contrarian point of view on this one.  I’ve learned over the course of my marriage that a healthy relationship comes from knowing when to talk, but (perhaps more importantly) knowing when to seal your ignorant and deluded lips shut with carpenter’s glue. Continue reading

What To Expect When I’m Expectorating

NyQuilColdFluNighttimeReliefLiquidListingI knew something was wrong the moment she entered the room, a sullen and withdrawn look on her face.  “I don’t feel very well,” my wife declared.

The kids and I stared at her, then at each other, in silent shock.  She walked gingerly up the stairs to our bedroom, took some Nyquil, and was out of action for the next 24 hours.

And just like that, the delicate equilibrium that keeps our household in balance began to shift, and we felt the earth slowly tilt on its axis with every passing minute.  You can imagine our terror.

Before you judge, please understand how unusual this was for my family.  I’ve known my wife for more than 25 years, and I truly can’t recall the last time she was sick before this recent debacle.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her sneeze, bruise or bleed before, leaving open the distinct possibility that she’s not human but actually a cyborg sent from the future to yell at me for forgetting to empty the dishwasher.

But with this illness disproving the “Wifenator” theory, I searched for other ideas that could explain her incredible run of health.

And then, the truth hit me, like a value pack of Robitussin.

She has been sick before, and she will be again, many times.  But as a strong and productive woman, she declines to show it.  Whatever tends to ail her, my wife just shrugs it off, powers down a little extra Vitamin C, and goes about her business.  Without a complaint aired or a slowdown in her productivity, you’d never know that she wasn’t feeling well.

Unlike me.

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Time Travels: A Maine Event

I haven’t posted anything lately (those Bar Mitzvah essays took a lot out of me), but I haven’t been completely away from my keyboard.

The mind-readers at Maine Camp Experience (who took one look at my writing and somehow knew that I had attended a Maine summer camp in my youth) asked if I would share some thoughts on my, uh,  Maine camp experience.  But instead of talking about my days as a skinny, freckled miscreant wearing shorts at least three sizes too small, I was inspired to share the tale of my daughter’s summers up north, and how they connected her to more than just new friends.

You can read the post by clicking here.  Hope you enjoy it!

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