Sunday, December 25, 2011

Don't Call Me Scrooge

Even though I’m Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, I can see why it’s a big deal to those who do.  And obviously Jews have played an important role since the holiday’s origin, as the birthday boy himself was actually one of ours.  

I have a relative who is obsessed with Christmas.  And she’s Jewish.  She grew up celebrating with an extended family member and really liked all of the traditions.  Now that she’s an adult, she has chosen to make X-mas a part of her own family’s holiday celebration. Knowing her, I have a feeling a big reason is the Gingerbread.

I don’t go to church, have a giant ornament-filled tree or wear those sweaters with the reindeers and snowflakes. I don’t know why anyone would want a partridge in a pear tree, either. Unless it is the obnoxious Danny Bonaduce. However, there are several things about Christmas that this MOT really does enjoy.  Let me tell you about a few of them.

Elf:  Arguably Will Ferrell’s funniest movie not named “Anchorman”, this flick is one that I recall nearly coughing up my spleen while watching in the theater.  When Ferrell confronts the faux-Santa played by Artie Lange and tells him that he “smells like beef and cheese”, you know something’s not Kosher.  Oh, and the movie was directed by Jon Favreau, co-stars James Caan and features Ed Asner as Santa.  All three are former Bar Mitzvah boys. 

Candy Cane Hershey Kisses:  My wife, who is (allegedly) allergic to chocolate, introduced me to these tiny bites of legal Crack a few years ago. They are only available for a limited time though, so the key is stocking up to last through most of the following year. I guess I know what I’ll be doing on the 26th.  

No Traffic in LA: OK, so this is more of a by-product of Christmas but still one of my favorite things.  Much of the entertainment industry shuts down for the last two weeks of the year and many people leave LA for better weather (I.e. Hawaii, Fiji, San Diego).  Those of us who stay are treated with short rides and easy commutes across town for the longest stretch of the year.  Driving around Los Angeles on Christmas Day is the most desolate feeling one can get in LA outside of the 9th inning of a Dodgers game. It’s fantastic.  

The phrase “Whole Half Ham”: I don’t eat ham, so I’m not really sure what this refers to or if it’s some special type of half-bred pig.  What I do know is that its’ name sounds ridiculous. Whole Half Ham? Can’t they omit the word “Whole” and still get the same meaning? If you only wanted 50% of a Whole Half Ham, would it be considered a Half-Half Ham or a Whole Quarter Ham?  My wife is a mathematics expert and I don’t think even she could figure out the calculation necessary for this nonsense.

Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album: I borrowed “Christmas in the Heart” from a friend when it came out a couple years ago because I am a huge Dylan fan. I was unfamiliar with most of the songs on it but was curious how this Jew who became a born again Christian before reverting back to Judaism would treat these seasonal classics.  Sadly, Dylan’s voice basically now sounds like gravel and screwdrivers mixing in a garbage disposal.  That combined with these festive lyrics and young perky backup singers creates an audible type of comedy that is still sounds much better than anything Justin Bieber could ever do. 

"Yes, I'm a Tool"
People wearing Santa hats who aren’t Santa:  This is actually something I hate, but I really enjoy making fun of them so it made the list. Those red hats look goofy enough on the jolly fat man sitting on a throne near the food court.  How can some nerd in a Utah Jazz jersey and sweatpants make it acceptable?  When I see people wearing these hats out and about, I like to suggest that they ask their friends and family to get them mirrors for Christmas. Perhaps then maybe they’ll realize that they look like rejects from “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.”  

I've realized Christmas can be whatever you want it to be. For many people it’s a time to get together with friends and family to drink egg nog and watch Jimmy Stewart stutter. For others it’s a time to see the latest blockbuster and fight for a table at China Dynasty.  However you celebrate, I hope you have a happy and safe holiday. And for Christ's sake please don’t wear a Santa hat.

If you celebrate, then Merry Christmas. 
If you don't, enjoy your movie and Orange Chicken. 

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is Jews

I have to admit it’s hard for me to get excited about Christmas.  I guess at least a small part of that has to do with me being Jewish.  And believe me when I tell you that Hanukkah is not nearly as exciting as you might guess.  Wooden spinning toys, greasy potato pancakes that make your house reek like an onion factory exploded in it & obligatory daily prayers are not nearly as thrilling as they sound.  If you don’t know much about Hanukkah, let me tell you a few key details.

I grew up in a place where Jews were by far the minority: America.  When I was a kid there was no real public promotion of Hanukkah anywhere outside of a synagogue gift shop. Now, even Target has a dedicated Hanukkah section. Sure it’s about 1/1000th the size of their Christmas section, but I think it’s still a bit larger than their Festivus and Boxing Day (Canada) areas.  It’s in this section where you can buy holiday classics like this book about Elmo.  I actually never realized he was Jewish.  Especially since he looks like a giant 
piece of lint from Santa’s clothing. 

The one big thing that most people associate with Hanukkah is not the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem or the Maccabees rebellion or even that the oil managed to stay lit for 8 days.  Nope, it’s presents.

Some enterprising Americans (obviously Jewish) in the early 20th century realized that they could capitalize on the seasonal timing of this minor Jewish holiday and turned it into a Jewish companion to Christmas. For that I am thankful.  Otherwise I would have been forced to watch all the kids at school playing with their new Ewoks and GI Joes while I was carrying my floppy yellow net-bag filled with gooey chocolate coins.  I was always amazed by how those things melted when it was 42 degrees outside. 

Hanukkah is also known as The Festival of Lights.  The major symbol of the holiday is the Menorah, the simple 9 branched candelabra which we light candles on every night during the celebration.  So if it’s the Jewish festival of lights why is it that non-Jews are the people who cover their homes with enough bright lights that you could spot them from Uranus?  Are their lights supposed to symbolize the number of candles that would be on Jesus’ birthday cake? 

Since we are celebrating the miracle that the oil lasted for 8 days, we are supposed to eat foods that are fried in oil in commemoration. I just realized that I effectively honor this facet of Hanukkah year round.  Perhaps the greater miracle is that my cholesterol number was 151 at my recent physical.

In addition to Latkes (potato pancakes) another fried food that people eat on Hanukkah is Sufganiyot (Jelly Donuts). One of my favorite Hanukkah traditions comes from my wife’s family. They introduced me to the mass consumption of donuts during the holiday period.  When we get together for the annual family celebration, rather than frying fresh donuts (as some people allegedly do, but none I’ve ever known) we crack open a couple pink boxes and have our way with Winchell’s finest.  The last couple of years I’ve taken it upon myself to be the donut selector. It’s a difficult job, but someone has to do it.  And I don’t want to get stuck with a box full of Crullers.  

As the Little Dude grows up, it is my wife’s and my responsibility to teach him about our Jewish heritage.  We need to make sure he carries on the customs and traditions that our people have practiced since way back in the Truman administration.  With cultural advances like Hershey’s Kisses being sold in blue and white packages, we are making an impact on society. I guess what it comes down to is my hope that he’ll grow up in a time and place where people won’t look at him strangely for playing with his Dreidel in public.   

If you celebrate, Happy Hanukkah!  If you don't, you are this week's "Other 99%".

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lost at the Zoo

One of the Little Dude’s favorite things to do is visit the LA Zoo. We first took him when he was just six months old and have been members and regular visitors ever since.   His favorite thing to see there is the giraffes, probably because he can spot them from a quarter-mile away.  Mine is the weird Europeans who wear socks with their sandals. I can also spot them from a quarter-mile. 

The zoo is great for a lot of reasons, but one of the best has to be that they don’t charge for parking. That is highly unusual in LA, where even drugstores offer valet for a fee.  Of course the generosity is revoked once you actually step into the zoo, where everything being sold makes airport pricing seem like the 99-cent store.

My wife made plans for us to meet some friends at the zoo recently for a family excursion.  When we arrived we chatted with the husband for a few minutes while the wife was changing their son’s diaper.  After a couple minutes, our Little Dude’s pal Aaron emerged from the bathroom and sprinted over to where we stood.  He is just a few days younger than BC but always seems to be twice as speedy.

We stood as a group to talk and plan our visit. We are all zoo regulars, so there was nothing urgent to see. We decided to start at the Sea Lion exhibit which was about 150 feet from where we stood. Aaron excitedly got a jump start toward the Sea Lions and we all gathered our stuff and headed in that direction after him. 

When we got to the glass-walled viewing area for the Sea Lions there was no sign of Aaron. He had been just 10 feet in front of us a few seconds ago, but now he wasn’t. Maybe he had tucked himself up in front of the glass? He’s only 2, so we probably just couldn’t see him over the other people standing there. But when we got up close there was still no Aaron.

When you are young you hear stories about abducted kids and don’t think twice.  The moment you become a parent, it scares the Bejesus out of you.  The poor parents who’ve lost kids always say that they looked away for a second and then…boom…gone.  We hadn’t looked away, all four of us adults saw Aaron head in that direction toward the Sea Lions and it had only been 10 seconds ago. Where was he?  

Even though Aaron isn’t my child, he and his family are good friends and I started to feel panic setting in internally. As I held BC close, I turned and looked all around for this suddenly missing little boy. I looked to see if there were any zoo employees or security people standing around and only saw the ones who annoyingly take your picture when you walk in, so you can get ripped off on your way out.

As his parents and my wife and I fanned out, the darkest fear started seeping into my brain.  Aaron should have been easy to spot: he has red hair and was sporting a bright orange vest, sort of like a mini-version of Marty McFly’s.  We kept looking in every direction and I could see the concern on all of our faces.  Knowing how I felt, when it wasn’t even my child, I could only imagine what Aaron’s parents were feeling at that moment. 

He couldn’t have gone far, could he?  He had run into a corner area, so the options were limited. But we searched frantically for this lost little boy. All of a sudden, Aaron’s mother spotted him.  Somehow he was standing 100 feet in the opposite direction from where we started. He was just leisurely checking out some trees and plants.  His parents rushed to his side and made sure he was OK.  Thankfully he was.

This whole situation seemed like it was about 15 minutes, but I know it was actually probably less than 1.  The range of emotions we all experienced was very powerful and I give a lot of credit to Aaron’s parents for handling the situation as calmly as they did.  I don’t know what I would have done if it were my kid, but I guess that’s where the paternal instincts kick in.  Sort of like when a father passes off a freshly soiled baby to his mother.  When the situation arises you don’t think about it, you just do it. 

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

No Day at the Park

My wife started coming down with something a few days ago and I could see where the weekend was headed. Somewhere not fun. We were all still a little burned out and sleep deprived from our recent trip to tropical Ohio, so none of us was firing on all cylinders. Except the Little Dude. Somehow he always has energy. Even when he’s tired, instead of running around, he rolls around on the floor, bed, patio or any other flat surface he can find. That way he can still move around and rest at the same time.

So while the Dudette was down for the count, I volunteered to take BC to the park on Saturday so he could expend some energy.  I had no idea what I was in store for. I should have checked the weather forecast before leaving the house which would have warned me of possible hurricane force winds.  At least it was sunny out, so when my hat blew off I could chase it and easily locate it. 

Being a Dude at the park with a toddler always draws looks from the women and couples present. And not the types of looks the guy gets in the movies when he’s Matthew McConaughey and the woman is Julia Roberts.   It’s more like women who look like Rosie O’Donnell, yet they look at me like I’m Steve Buscemi.

Yes, he’s my kid and to many people it’s pretty apparent. Yet I get a judgmental look and vibe when I take him to the park, as though I’m there to pull a Jerry Sandusky or something.  The park is supposed to be an open place for kids to run around and have a good time. If I wanted to be judged, I’d go to a nightclub in Hollywood.  Is nightclub even still the right word?  I’m much more familiar with Indoor Play Places and Babies R Us than hip bars anymore.

Anyway, I was pushing BC on the swing and didn’t have to do a lot of work. The wind was whipping fast so he was getting a lot of movement and momentum. It was like he was a human Plinko chip going side to side, up and down. Some kids might be scared, but not my 2-year old tough guy.  He was giggling ecstatically and saying “Ahh-gain!”

Geodesic Dome from my childhood. Looks pretty lame now.
After a few minutes, I realized I was the one getting the exercise so I removed him from the swing and we ran over to the toddler playground.  There are bridges, tunnels, ladders, slides and all kinds of fun stuff for those less than 4 feet tall.  When I was a kid we’d go a nearby school’s playground and climb on the jungle gym.  In retrospect the most fun game was probably Tetanus Dodge, but we were too young to know it at the time. 

When I’m at the park, I keep a pretty good eye on my kid at all times.  It seems like some parents drop their kids off, go to Starbucks for an hour, then come back and pick them up.  Usually while the parents are gone the unsupervised kids proceed to sneeze on all of the handrails and cough on the grip part of the swings.  It’s probably not a coincidence that one of us usually gets sick after going to the playground, so now I usually keep a tub of Purell handy while we are there.  Not for cleansing, but rather to throw at the cars of these negligent idiot parents. 

Going to a park in Los Angeles is like a Social Studies class. You regularly hear people speaking Spanish, French, Russian, Hebrew, Farsi & sometimes even English.  I guess we are kind of boring in comparison. That being said, BC loves the park and we’ll continue to go as he finds something new to play with each time.  And maybe sometime, when everything works out just right, he’ll be more tired than I am when we leave.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Poo on You

When I went in to BC’s room this morning to get him out of his crib, he was playing with the toys in his bed and having a good time. Suddenly he looked up at me, then pointed down to his central diaper region and made a proud declaration: “POO!”

Since we haven’t officially begun potty training him, I took it as a good sign. According to research, kids are usually ready to begin the potty training process sometime between 24-36 months. Since BC just turned 2 it’s probably time for us to start preparing for the fun.  I think the first step is I’m supposed to save my newspapers and line the floor of the house with them, right?  Obviously I’m kidding.  Who gets the newspaper anymore?

We got BC one of those little plastic training toilets a few months ago after a friend suggested it and put it in the bathroom next to my Big Boy potty.  This placement was supposed to subliminally teach the Little Dude what the potty is intended for. Unfortunately the main thing he seems to think it’s used for is a place to lounge while unspooling rolls of toilet paper.  

Our son’s pediatrician said my wife and I should leave the door open to let BC watch us go to the bathroom so he can see what all the hype is about. It seems strange that I’m supposed to talk the bathroom up to him as though it’s a great place, like Disneyland or something.  Then I lead him into a place with a grimy commode, a wet floor and some weird green stuff lingering on the sink.  Seems more like Magic Mountain to me.

When we are in a public place I usually take BC with me to the bathroom because I don’t feel comfortable leaving him with the weird old man who greets people at the store entrance. What inevitably ends up happening is I try to keep my balance and complete my mission while he simultaneously watches me and plays a game of chicken with his finger and the nearby urinal cake.

Before a recent trip, my wife went to buy some overnight diapers.  Apparently the store had run out of our usual brand so she got some pull-up style overnight diapers.  Since we were leaving the next day, we had no other option.  At least they had Lightning McQueen on them. Whatever that is.

The pull-ups worked out fine, especially since BC now refuses to lie down while being changed. I guess when your body is longer than your changing table, you can elect that option.  These days he generally wiggles and dances while being changed and I end up pulling the flaps on his diaper shut, hoping I got full coverage on both essential regions and praying for no whammies. 

So back to this morning, I was happy that he was able to convey his crucial message and hoped he hadn’t slept in it for too long, causing a mess and making him resemble Augustus Gloop after he’d fallen in the chocolate river. 

I was still half asleep when I opened his diaper to find that it was wet, but that was the only damage done.  So I looked at him and inquired about his apparently false claim. He looked back at me and reiterated forcefully “Pooh! Pooh!”  So I figured he was just being the boy who cried wolf and so I told him that the next time he said “Poo!” and didn’t possess any, I’d make him sit in it for a while as a lesson.

Then as I got him dressed and looked down at his used diaper waiting to be thrown out, it suddenly hit me. No, not the smell.  The image of Winnie the Pooh lounging next to his pal Tigger on BC’s used Huggie. Not pictured: me with egg on my face.

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--JJ aka The Dude of the House

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Dude Gives Thanks

With Thanksgiving upon us, I’ve been thinking  about some of the things I’m most thankful for. All of us, no matter how fantastic or awful our lives may be have much to be thankful for.  Even though the backstory of this holiday with the turkeys and Indians and all that jazz is a bit politically incorrect these days, it’s still a great time to be with friends and family. And, more importantly, plan trips to Best Buy at 3am for a $199 HD TV that will probably be both outdated and broken by New Years Eve.

My little family and a new friend.
Here are just a few things I am very thankful for:

·         My son, The Little Dude.  He is the reason I get up in the morning & I don’t just mean because he climbs on me while I sleep.  He has an infectious laugh, fantastic curls and his mother’s patient personality.  And people say he looks like me, which doesn’t hurt his case.

·         My wife, The Dudette.   Her willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, including while changing all types of doody, really set her apart as a person, wife &  mother.   And her banana bread could bring the Pope to tears.  

·         The rest of my family. All terrific, no matter the situation. Life hasn’t always been a piece of cake for us, and from the look of us you can tell we’ve obviously eaten our share of cakes.  Through good and bad, we have survived. Much like Gloria Gaynor, but actually quite different.

·         Five Guys Hamburgers.  Having lived for 12 years in a city where In’N’Out is hailed as the second coming, it’s nice to have a place that actually makes good food hit the west coast.  And extra thanks to Five Guys for not opening too close to where I live, or else I might weigh 500 pounds.

·         Parks and Recreation. The funniest show on TV always brings a smile to my face, no matter the mood or how late at night I watch it.  Bonus thanks to Nick Offerman’s mustache and Jim O’Heir’s sweaters for pretty accurately reminding me of life growing up in the Midwest even though the show films 2500 miles away from there, coincidentally just a few miles from where I now live. 

·         Los Angeles Traffic.  Though I completely despise you, you make a great excuse for being late that is always accepted unconditionally by other locals. Even if you are stuck on the 405 for 3 hours at 2am on a Wednesday people don’t flinch when you tell them, for they have their own war stories to share of the 101 gone wrong.

·         Southern California Weather.   You can wear a t-shirt and shorts outside in most places in the US during July.  (Except San Francisco.) It’s great living in a place where you can do the same in January.

·         iPhone 4S. Though I was reluctant to get it, kudos to my wife for both pushing me into it and buying it for my birthday and Hannukah gifts.  For the next 3 years.  

·         Diet Mountain Dew. Without you, I would probably fall asleep at 9:30 every night and this blog wouldn’t exist.  Also, my bloodstream would contain a lot less aspartame.  

·         The Penn State Scandal.  While what happened is obviously horrible, it has made the misdeeds by those at my alma mater seem much more palatable in context. 

And last, but not least, I’m thankful for all of you who take time to procrastinate at work and read this blog. Sometimes I wonder if anyone actually reads what I write and then you surprise me with great comments and emails.  I’m very thankful for those of you who have told your friends about me. It’s your support that keeps me going.  Cash helps, too.  Sincerely wishing you  a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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--JJ aka The Dude of the House

Monday, November 21, 2011

Traveling for Turkey

With a long way to go and a lot to see and do, we departed L.A. a few days early for Thanksgiving this year.  Though BC has been to Ohio several times before, his most recent journey was almost a year ago and before he could walk and talk. So we had no idea what was in store for this 4+ hour flight with the Little Dude, but hoped for the best.

A lot of people suggested we use Benadryl or some other sedative to help make it through the flight. But the thing I didn’t understand was if we tried one of those and it worked, who would watch BC for the duration of the flight? We decided to just hope for the best. And bring a lot of candy.

We left the house early and arrived at LAX 90 minutes before our flight.  We checked our bags and headed to security.  With a slew of lines, we were quickly pointed in one direction by the lead TSA agent. After not moving for a few minutes, I looked ahead to see what the problem was. It was then that I noticed that we’d been profiled by security. As parents. We’d been directed into some sort of “family line”, which I guess is intended for people who’ve never been to an airport before and don’t understand how metal detectors work.  After we made it through the line, one of our bags was flagged by the x-ray machine and had to be searched.  The Little Dude’s Elmo sippy cup appeared threatening to the TSA agents.  Fortunately the water inside was non-lethal, which isn’t always guaranteed in Los Angeles.  

For several months, the Little Dude has been obsessed with airplanes.  Any time we see one, whether in the sky, on TV, or even in a book he feels compelled to point it out.  So taking him to the airport was like leaving Kirstie Alley unattended at The Cheesecake Factory. He went nuts.  Roughly every 7 seconds we heard exclamations of “Airplane! Airplane!”.  I tried to explain to him that we were actually going on to be on an airplane shortly, but the excitement continued even after we boarded.  Good thing the flight was only supposed to be 4 hours.

Once we found our row it was a thrill to notice that there was a 3-month old sitting right behind us and a 6-month old 2 rows in front of us.  For a change we could be the dirty look givers, not receivers.   

BC had a good time once he was reunited with an old friend: Elmo on the portable DVD player. Like a lot of parents, I don’t think using TV as a babysitter is a great idea.  More like fantastic! We got to watch several episodes of Elmo’s World and afterward I figured we were almost to our destination. I checked my watch and it had only been 2 hours, with 2 more to go.  Where’s that Benadryl… 

We played games, colored, ate and it was only another half an hour. What to do next? I volunteered for every traveler’s favorite activity: walking the kid up and down the aisle.  Either people are much larger than they used to be or those aisles are more narrow, for even the Little Dude had a hard time wedging through some of the herd who opted to clog up the passageway.

We finally arrived in sunny (I mean grey and cloudy) Cleveland. Since BC had been cooped up for quite a while, we wanted him to get some exercise.  Fortunately, the fine folks at Continental Airlines helped us out by taking 40 minutes to spit our bags onto the conveyor belt.  After a shuttle bus ride that would have reminded me of Space Mountain if it had been a little more smooth, we arrived at the car rental station. Again, we had great cooperation from the Budget agent who unsuccessfully tried all kinds of shenanigans to get me to “upgrade” and overpay for an unimpressive Dodge SUV, so BC got another 45 minutes to run around the rental area.  He got so much exercise that if he ran any more, people might have confused him with Forrest Gump.  

All in all, it was quite a day.  BC behaved very well and we all survived the journey. Even better was right after leaving the car rental place, I had the foresight to order my favorite hometown food to be delivered to our destination and the driver arrived about 5 minutes after we did. Check out this pic of the world’s best fried chicken from Rizzi’s in Copley, Ohio. If you’ve never had it, you are missing out.  And probably much thinner than me.  I’m not a big turkey fan, so now I can honestly say that I ate a terrific bird while on this trip.  Let’s just hope the next few days go as smoothly as getting here.  

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you Thankful for this year?

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--JJ aka The Dude of the House

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Birthday

Today is my birthday. In lieu of gifts, please just send cash*. Birthdays have always been a weird day to me.  Growing up in the Midwest and having a birthday mid-November, as a kid I always associated my birthday with the first snow of the season. Maybe that’s why I hate snow. As for birthdays, my opinion is mixed.   

I always wanted to have a summer birthday so that I could be outside or have a pool party or, best case scenario: a pool party outside unlike the indoor pool party I had one year. Like most Midwesterners we went to a community pool where on any given day you could see little kids force grownups to wait around for hours while a miserable teenager cleaned out the Baby Ruth filled water.  OK, maybe that wouldn’t have been so fun after all.  

Instead of a bathing suit I usually got to bundle up in a sweater, moonboots, scarf, hat, and snow jacket to go to my birthday parties.  By the way, some people might call it a ski jacket but along with my dislike of snow comes an inherent aversion to going really fast down a slippery incline while it’s 14 degrees out. Surprisingly, the potential for broken bones and/or maiming doesn’t entice me much either.

I usually got to celebrate my birthday at an exciting location like the Ground Round. The incredibly exciting attraction at that place was that you could eat peanuts and throw the shells on the floor while watching 50-year-old Three Stooges movies. Even as a kid I didn’t think they were funny.

Another local fiesta hot spot was Showbiz Pizza. If you aren’t familiar, Showbiz was where Chuck E. Cheese rejects got shipped for bad behavior. They had those same creepy animatronic creatures who sang while their heads swiveled no more than 45 degrees.  You also got the same crappy pizza as served by Senor E. Cheese. Then again, I don’t think kids under the age of 10 actually realize that any pizza is bad, even if it is literally just a piece of cardboard covered in ketchup and confetti.  At least they had Skee-ball. 

As an adult, birthday celebrations evolve. For several years after college I’d have a birthday dinner with five to twenty-five of my closest friends. You know these types of celebrations.  It usually consists of a bunch of people in an overly loud space with food that takes forever and the honoree somehow ends up stuck at the end of the table. There are overpriced cocktails and at the end of the meal there is major squabbling over the bill depending on which style of “Restaurant Math” is applied.

If you aren’t familiar, there are two primary formulas for calculating a bill when at a restaurant with a  large group.  The one certainty is that both ways irritate the majority of the group the majority of the time. 

The first is “Uneven Division”: this is when you divide the total bill by the number of people at the table.  As a result of this style the people who drink heavily usually come out way ahead of those who arrive late or only eat a salad or entrĂ©e.  The second style is “Remedial Adding”: when everyone chips in a certain amount of cash based on what they ate. Somehow this never works out and the pot usually ends up at least 30% short. Even though the bill is self explanatory, someone who ate only a salad ends up paying $50 to compensate for the drunk cheapskates in the group. 

BC was born 9 days before my birthday two years ago so that year my birthday was spent helping him get over the trauma from his Bris the day before. But otherwise for the last several years, I’ve mainly had quiet celebrations with my wife. Since she is a mathematics professional we have very little squabbling over the bill like the annoying situations I described above. On this night, I let her pay.

*= Or if you really want to be my friend, you can “Like” my Facebook or Twitter pages as a gift.  

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--JJ aka The Dude of the House

Monday, November 7, 2011

Get Ready to Rumble

Marathon + Childbirth = Loco

In honor of the Little Dude’s 2nd birthday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the day he was born.  In movies you always see immaculately dressed women’s water breaking in the middle of the street.  Maybe you heard the recent story about the woman who ran the Chicago Marathon and then a few hours later delivered a baby girl. Our story was not hugely exciting like those ones.  Actually it was sort of boring. Relatively.

Because BC had been breach for much of his gestation we scheduled a C-Section in advance. And because we lived 20 miles from the hospital (long story) we scheduled it for a Saturday morning so we could hopefully avoid insane LA traffic.  I already told you about my biggest fear related to the pregnancy in "A Sticky Situation".  Even I think it’s pretty sad that my 2nd biggest fear in regard to the birth was that my wife’s water would break and we’d have to fight traffic on the 405 to get to Santa Monica at 5:00pm on a Friday.

Little Dude ~ 20 weeks in utero. Looks cozy. 
Fortunately that didn’t happen. The whole process was actually pretty painless. For me at least. That’s not to say there weren’t complications. Things actually got pretty scary for a few minutes in the operating room. They told us the whole surgery would take 10 minutes, but it seemed to be going much longer. I thought I was imagining it, like how anticipation makes a short drive somewhere seem like it’s taking an hour. But then I checked my watch and it actually was taking a while.  I heard the doctors conferring and they sounded concerned so I got concerned.  So I did something really dumb.  I looked over the barrier drape they put up so that you won’t look at what they are doing. Bleccccccchhhhhhh.  After all the ultrasounds we’d had over the prior 9 months I thought I knew what my wife’s insides looked like. Boy, was I wrong! I’m not going to get too graphic but now I know to respect the drape and keep my eyes off the prize.  And the intestines on the table.  

The complication was nothing big. It turned out that BC’s umbilical cord was only about 12 inches long and normally it’s double or triple that length. I hope that’s not a sign of things to come for him. Anyway, the doctor was having trouble getting enough leverage to remove the Little Dude from his cozy sac of a home.  I soon learned why the doctor was covered head to toe in saran wrap before entering the OR.  

As I said earlier, when people give birth in movies it’s always way over-exaggerated. There was one thing that you see in movies that I actually wanted to do.  In movies the father always gets to announce the baby’s gender. We had waited 39 weeks to find out the baby’s sex and I wanted to be the first to know. Or at least one of the first two. Nope. That was squelched when the anesthesiologist had to open her big yapper and say “oh, he’s perfect” after the OB had finished playing tug of war with my wife’s uterus.  Of course the anesthesiologist was the person who made sure my wife didn’t feel anything that happened that day so I couldn’t completely despise her. But I was pissed. Of the 7 or 8 people in the room, I was 7th or 8th to find out.

Once everything was OK the nurses let me cut the umbilical cord, have a photo op with the Little Dude and take him over to my wife so she could see the fruits of her labor, sans labor. The end result was that my wife did an amazing job of laying on the table and we suddenly had a beautiful baby boy.  Everything went smoothly, we eventually picked a name and now two years later we have a toddler. I can’t imagine life without him, nor can I really remember life before him: BC, BC if you will.    

BC - just a few minutes old 11/7/09
BC - 2 years - 11/11

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--JJ aka The Dude of the House