Too Lazy To Write A Book

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

Month: March 2014

I got Rerun! What character from What’s Happening are you?

rerunIf you linked from Facebook to this post, allow me to apologize.  I’ve teased you into a digital shaming.  There will be no quiz that determines what character you most resemble from What’s Happening.  Rerun has not been chosen as my sitcom twin.  Neither will Raj, Dwyane Wayne, Mama, Dee or Shirley be chosen as my, or your, doppelgänger.  And for that, I’m grateful (and, frankly, a little relieved that I’m not Shirley).

If your feed is anything like mine, it’s amazing how quickly  Facebook  has been taken over by these “personality quizzes”.  It seems like over the last two months, I’ve learned everything from what city a good friend should have moved to after college, what celebrity boyfriend an ex-coworker should have been dating, what U.S. President a college buddy most resembles, and on and on and on.  I’ve clicked through a few of these, which purport to make crucial life definers out of a series of inane questions.  “Which of these cats looks most appealing to you” is somehow supposed to help lead the algorithm towards a declaration of the ’80s pop star I most resemble (Michael Jackson, if you’re curious).  Sure, they’re harmless fun, and a chance for most of the women I connect with to put images of Ryan Gosling on their Facebook timelines without their husband’s objection.  And I’ll cop to chuckling at the “What would John Travolta have called you at the Oscar’s” gag that went viral (for the record, I’m Marcel Whayte, which is actually a huge improvement on my real name. From now on, I’m Marcel Whayte, the one who knocks).

But I think I’ve reached the limit on my tolerance of these.  We’ve all had those friends who spent their first year on social media over-posting with mundane details about weather patterns and the funny thing their 3 year old said in the car and “wheels down at O’Hare” and how delicious that kale salad at Whole Foods was (and yes, the fact that I’ve been guilty of sharing all of these except anything remotely resembling kale worship does not escape me).  We’re now at the point of over saturation of quiz results, where hundreds of us continue to post test results that always somehow manage to declare that we deserve better than we have.  I should be living in Paris!  I should be working with Steven Spielberg!  I should be dating Kate Upton (pause for brief daydream and moment of silence)!  How about you?  I bet your quiz won’t be nearly as impressive! You should be exactly who you are.  But not me!  I should be a Navy Seal!!!

Well, I’m not a Navy Seal (this should not come as a surprise to any of you).  I don’t live in an exotic city filled with romantic idealists.  I think I passed an SI Swimsuit model on the street once, but it was cold and I didn’t stop to check.  And no, I’m not like Rerun on What’s Happening either.

I’d rather write slightly exaggerated posts about what actually happens in my life, for better or worse.  Sure, I’ll take the quizzes now and again, but I think I’ll spare all of you the details on what snack food I most resemble.  Even if I’m apparently as delicious as a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

Maybe I am Shirley after all…

Puberty Postponed

blueberries_earlyblueThe parenting experience is always unique.  There is no one-size-fits-all baby prototype that runs like clockwork and hits its marks like a veteran actor.  There is no roadmap to where your kids are headed, no matter how many “What To Expect When They’re Expectorating” baby books and “He’s Not A Jerk, He’s Spirited” child-rearing manuals you memorize.  You’ve got to be flexible to survive as a parent, because you’re not traveling a shared road with other parents.      Your kid is unique, for better or for worse.

But there’s one universal truth that all parents face, and it’s a rough one.  It can be summarized with one word, three syllables that bring fear into young parent’s hearts and evoke shudders in those who’ve already faced its evils and lived to tell their survival stories.

That word is puberty.

Puberty turns your sweet and innocent child who loves her Mom, Dad and fluffy puppies into a belligerent antagonist who wears short skirts and black t-shirts and rolls their eyes when asked what time it is.  Puberty doesn’t like things that are fluffy.  Puberty replaces Mom and Dad with a cell phone and an Instagram account.

Or so they tell me.  Because despite my wife’s impeccable organization and insistence on timeliness in our lives, my kids are late to puberty.  And that’s fine by me.

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The Greatest Nature Photograph Ever Taken

100_0832Over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to have the means to take our family on some solid trips and vacations.  But in all honesty, looking back on what we’ve done and where we’ve been, it’s pretty clear that we screwed up.  Instead of teaching our kids about all the world has to offer, and leading them to find lives filled with curiosity and exploration, we took the easy way out.  It pains me a little to look at a list of trips we’ve taken, and even more so to list some of them here.  We’ve been to Disney World five times, Universal Studios twice, and Busch Gardens on a weekend for kicks.  As a result, my kids have grown up thinking of “The Mummy” ride as the height of adventure travel.

So when my wife’s parents surprised my kids on their 13th birthday and announced plans to take them on a 10 day trip to the Galapagos Islands, I had two conflicting emotions.  I was thrilled at the idea of such an incredible experience being given to my young and growing children.  And I was pissed that I didn’t get to go with them.

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Bad Love

240px-07._Camel_Profile,_near_Silverton,_NSW,_07.07.2007The first time we knew for certain that he loved us, we could see it in his eyes.  From that point on, things moved slowly…a warm greeting here, a tender embrace there.  Then, rather abruptly, things turned physical, as passion overtook him.  And love, it turns out, is an enormous pain in the ass.

My dog, you see, is a humper.  A proud and energetic one.  And while we appreciate his dedication, we’d much prefer he take his cues from the romantics and express his love with a bit more subtlety.  And now, with his heart recently broken, we fear the worst is yet to come.

For those who’ve yet to encounter his love and affection, Chauncey is a very large 80 pound Goldendoodle with long skinny legs that cling to objects tighter than Saran Wrap. He is also friendly, energetic, and a little demanding, which means that once you’ve become the apple of Chauncey’s eye, his love is more than expressed.  It is felt, usually on your leg or around your torso. Continue reading

Some Anniversary Advice

Cinematography_Weddings_1Last November was our wedding anniversary.  19 years had passed since we took our vows in front of family, friends, and a substitute rabbi who was filling in for my fiancee’s congregation while they looked for a full-time leader.  We thus began our long-term relationship under short-term management, which I recently thought might render the union questionable on legal grounds.  But I checked our license over, just to be certain, and it turns out we’re good and married under the law of those bedrocks of civilization:  Judaism and the State of Delaware.

So we’ve survived and thrived over these last 19 years, and an anniversary is as good a time as any to celebrate and reflect on the lives we’ve built together.  But 19 is a funny number, on the cusp of a major milestone but not the kind of round number that inspires real attention (for proof, go check the Hallmark aisle for the “19th Anniversary” collection of cards…I’ll wait here until you get back).  But with the memory of the Great Underwhelming Birthday Gift Disaster of 2010 still top of mind in our house, I realized that a romantic gesture was likely in order.  So I came up with an idea that was sure to rekindle the flame and celebrate us.

And now, having survived my mistake, I’ll share one small piece of advice:  whatever you do on your anniversary, don’t watch your wedding video. Continue reading