Monday, October 31, 2005

No Surprises

290 something. We've had more kids come to our porch expecting candy but 290 something is still a respectable number.

Lots of moms on cell phones. Plenty of toddlers wrapped up in expensive, intricately crafted animal suits.

The porch looked okay. No Mummy this year. But the fog machine and sound effects made up for it. I used a strobe light this year. This afternoon Allie and I walked around the Buy and Sell Shop. We met the owner, Mike. Mike had three or four strobe lights blinking in the window. I asked to buy one. Mike refused. He said he needed it for his display.

He asked me why I wanted one of the lights.

I told him it was for Halloween.

"Why don't you just borrow one?" he asked.

I had just met this guy and he was giving me stuff.

Faith in humanity restored, blah, blah, blah.

The strobe did a great job of illuminating the fog and completely disorienting me to the point of me groping for kids' treat bags to find someplace to drop candy.

Julia and Allie had a good time. Julia really didn't get the hand of Trick or Treating until the end.

For some reason Deb and I are exhausted. I'm going to go to bed.

I didn't buy the motorcycle.

You're not surprised. Are you?

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

At 4:09 a.m. I'm still trying to decide.

Dave and I drove to four different dealerships on Saturday. I took this Buell for a spin. I sat down at the salesman's desk and we started the paperwork.

I forgot the checkbook.

I don't know if leaving the checkbook at home was my subconscious at work. But as I sat in the guy's office while he went to see if a credit card would do the trick a huge wave of buyer's remorse washed over me. That's not unusual. I often get the same feeling when buying socks. Of course, this was different.

Turns out they have limits on credit card purcases so my Visa card wasn't going to get me the bike that day. For better or worse, this has left me with more time to think

Now I've got to decide.

I love riding this thing. But I'll only be able to take it out a couple more times this year. Then there's the fact that I have small children. Lifting them in and out of the bathtub would be difficult with my arm in a cast (or worse). And I don't have enough time as it is. When am I going to be able to spend two or three hours rolling around the backroads? Plus, it's expensive. The price of the bike, insurance, maintenance. . .

4:19 a.m.

Hopefully, by the time you're reading this I will have made up my mind.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Breaking the Code

I know it's been three days since I flew into Ft. Worth but I can't stop thinking about the woman I sat next to on the plane.

She was an older woman. She fidgeted in her seat. She talked to herself. Sometimes she made odd, convulsive movements.

She also farted.

A lot.

The intensity of these stinkbursts left no doubt that they were coming from my neighbor's ass. I couldn't even turn toward her because I'm sure I would have shot her a look that would have burned a hole into the back of her skull.

Her stench would hit me and I would just tilt my head back and move my fingers in front of my face trying to brush away some of the molecules that had just come from her intestines.

Finally I'd had enough and I reached into my bag to get a piece of paper. I was planning to write, "Please. For the love of God. Stop farting."

Then the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent.

She farted one last time before we hit the ground.

By this forth salvo, I'm pretty sure I'd deciphered the scent code of her butt steam. It was obvious she'd been eating fermented earthworms and dogshit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Easy Part

This morning I got to drop Allie off at school. Usually it’s Debbie, but today I took a stab at it.

I was a little worried. Despite being prepped by both Deb and Allie I still wasn’t sure about the procedure and the thought of a dozen mini-vans lined up behind me bleeping their horns made me a little queasy.

Instead of braving the circle drive of certain death I just parked in front of the school and walked Allie to the entrance. This was a good thing. I know by next year she probably won’t want to hold my hand in front of other kids. Today she seemed proud.

“There’s Abbie,” Allie shouted. “Today’s a little different,” Allie told Abbie. “Today my Daddy’s taking me to school.”

Abbie (or whatever the hell her name is) looked to be at least a year ahead of Allie. She didn’t respond to Allie. Instead she glanced at us as if we each had a medium sized turd perched on each of our left shoulders. Then Allie turned back to me and said, “Call me tonight from Texas.” For some reason this made Abbie (or whatever the hell her name is) pause for a moment to scan me as if she was looking for an I’m Going to Texas patch embroidered on my jacket. When the little snot didn’t spot anything that made me or my daughter any more interesting than the other people in the crowd she moved on.

I leaned in to kiss Allie and she grabbed me around my neck and squeezed. “Don’t forget to bring me something back,” she whispered. She let go abruptly and shouted, “There’s Brandon!” I took the distraction as my cue to leave. I watched Allie violate the rules and step off the sidewalk to greet Brandon (or whatever the hell his name is) as he exited his mini-van.

Allie and Brandon walked together toward the door. Then Allie paused for a second and looked back in my direction. She didn’t see me. That’s when she realized she lost track of Brandon and allowed the school building to gobble her up as she ran after him.

I wasn’t sad.


However I am glad I usually pick up.

Now here I sit in the Airport listening the guy on the P.A. lecture me about unattended baggage. He sounds remarkably like Bob Kevoian from the Bob and Tom Show.

I’m thinking about Debbie. I'm missing our anniversary (won't be the first time). Nine years ago, tomorrow, we got married. Our wedding day was a lot like this day (at least as far as the weather is concerned). Above average temperatures with the leaves on the trees just starting to show their true, brilliant colors all under a speckless, blue sky.

Despite their similarities, I know I’ll never have another October 19 like I did in 1996.

I remember how fresh everything felt. The entire day was a deep breath of clean, cool air. Yes, I was nervous at times, but that was only because I had to stand in front of most everyone I ever loved and cared about in rented clothing. That’s enough to unsettle anyone.

The getting married part; that was easy.

She was the one.

Still is.

Always will be.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

All dressed up and no place to go.

On Saturday, the women who taught my motorcycle safety course kept yelling at me. They weren't really yelling. After all I was wearing a helmet and seven other Buell motorcycles were revving their way around a training area. They didn't have a choice but to be loud. But between their volume and tone I started to feel as if I wasn't able to do anything right.

Then today, one of the women took me aside and said, "You're a better rider than you think you are. I should have told you that yesterday." She must have been right because I did better than anyone in the class on my skills test. I missed one question out of 50 on the written exam.

In retrospect I shouldn't have minded all the criticism. I was paying these people to tell me what I was doing wrong so I'll have a better chance of staying safe on the road. I dig encouragement and positive reinforcement as much as anyone, but this wasn't the place for me to get a shot in the arm.

I got my road test slip. All I need to do now is head on over the DMV and take their written test and I've got a license.

What good is a license if you don't have a motorcycle?

Not much.

But that's a topic we'll broach another time.

Now I've got a million things to do to get ready to leave for Ft. Worth. Allie may have strep and this is crucial time for Deb at work.

My head is clogged and I'm coughing. I need to gargle with Listerine to try and kill whatever bacteria Alllie gave to me over the past few days.

Oh. BOO HOO. If you're so sick and stressed why didn't you skip motorcycle class and work this weekend?


Now shut up and go buy me a motorcycle.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Word Nuts is Often Slang for Testes

This weekend I bought a jar of Nutella.

I’ve always been afraid of this product. It’s usually perched on the top shelf above the peanut butter and jelly at the grocery store. Typically there are only three or four jars on the shelf, so it’s apparent that Nutella isn’t among the most popular food items at our Pick & Save.

I took the lack of local consumer enthusiasm for this product as a clue that I was right about it tasting nasty. I always assumed Nutella would taste like bitter, chocolaty ass drippings. It would be another one of those flavors that requires years of childhood conditioning in Europe in order to be able to tolerate it, let alone appreciate it. Think Marmite. Plus, I’m not a huge chocolate fan so I always looked at Nutella as if each jar contained a dead fetus.

Then, when Deb and I were in Paris, I watched a guy making crepes in front of a café. These crepe stands are everywhere and some of the contraptions dedicated to making this popular street food are fascinating. Usually, they make the crepes on a huge round griddle that gets batter spread perfectly over its heated surface. After the batter cooks, it’s then expertly folded up like a cone with every ingredient you could imagine. From meat to fresh fruit, you could get a crepe with just about anything you wanted folded into it.

I noticed a lot of people getting their crepes stuffed with Nutella. And I do mean stuffed. The crepe-to-Nutella ratio seemed to be at least three to one and I watched these people walk around with dark brown Nutella smeared all over their faces. I’m assuming all of these people couldn’t be tourists so if Parisians, the most appearance aware population on the planet, didn’t mind getting their mugs seemingly poo-stained then I thought there must be something to this Nutella stuff.

I regret that I didn’t try one myself while we were in Pairs. So, five months later, I bought a jar. As soon as Deb and I put away the groceries I cracked it open and grabbed a spoon.

It is good.

Nutella is primarily hazelnut spread with some milk and cocoa. So while it tastes like chocolate there’s a very subtle, amaretto-like flavor lurking around in each bite. Maybe it’s not amaretto, but it certainly is nutty. Nut. Nutella. Anyway, this stuff was developed in Italy in order to help stretch out cocoa supplies that were being rationed during World War II. What that has to do with me getting over my fear of Nutella I’m not sure. But I thought it was interesting. I also compared nutritional values of Nutella to peanut butter and they are similar despite peanut butter having a lot more protein. Again, I don’t know what that has to do with me taking the Nutella plunge but I always want to provide you with just enough legitimate information to reward you for weeding through the rest of my bullshit.

I’d say the information-to-bullshit ratio is at least 12 to 1.

Allie and Julia love the stuff. I started dipping Teddy Grahams in the Nutella then I’d pop the little bears into their mouths. I fed them because no matter what the quantity is, chocolate always winds up outside their mouths. It’s amazing and this time was no exception. There’s nothing I can do; it must ooze out of their pores or something.

Deb refused to try the Nutella.

I was going to write something about Deb hating nuts. However I don’t think you’d let me get away with that especially when I’d have to confess to really being into nuts.

Yeah, I just love nuts.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Blame Game

This year's Firefighter Combat Challenge was in October rather than July. This meant the tent they usually fill with ice, fans, fresh fruit and case after case of bottled water wasn't there. 48 degree temperatures meant an oasis from the heat was unnecessary.

I was there for work again this year. One of the organizer's camera broke so I let him borrow mine. He got some really neat shots from the top of the tower. Head over to the flickr photostream and take a look at some of the photos he took.

In other news I've enrolled myself in the Rider's Edge course at our local Harley Davidson dealership. It's a gift from Deb in more ways than one. I'm foregoing the art classes she arranged for my birthday so I can take the motorcycle course. More significantly, however, was when she got sick of me waffling back and forth about whether or not to take the course. She became angry with me and said something to the effect that I wasn't going to blame her for not taking the course. I paraphrase because I remember there being swear words when she said it.

She's right. I would have blamed her.

So I'm taking the course.

And if I have a wreck and lose some skin I'm blaming her.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Story and Something More

Tonight, while I read Allie The Little Engine That Could I farted.

The smell of burning tires mixed with rotting squid at low tide hit Allie before it did me. I knew this because she threw her head back against her pillow and gasped for air. By the time she clamped her hands over her nose and mouth the smell reached me.

Poor girl.

She tried not to say anything because I think she wanted me to finish the story. This despite the fact I've read her this book many times. Finally I said, "I farted."

Allie looked at me and her eyes told me that at that moment she'd be willing to talk to an attorney about the ins and outs of becoming an emancipated minor. Then she buried her face into my neck.

I had just washed my face and it must have smelled of soap and Sea Breeze. It seemed to stop Allie from convulsing.

I waved the book around but nothing I did seemed to eliminate the smell. "Do you want me to leave?" I asked.

"No. Just stop farting," Allie said.

I finished the story in a hurry. By the time I reached the last, I thought I could I'm pretty sure Allie was convinced the tale wasn't worth what she had to endure.

I got up to turn off the light and heard a sigh of relief.

I don't really know why I'm having particularly stinky gas this evening. We went out for dinner at a place called Fat Jack's. I had some incredibly good ribs. Perfectly smoked; almost a shame to eat with any sauce at all. But they couldn't have kicked in so quickly.

It had to have been last night's fish sticks.

I went in to check on Allie just a few moments ago. I would almost swear I still detect a hint of my earlier transgression.

Tomorrow we'll get quote for new carpet in Allie's bedroom.

Je vais suer mon âne au loin.

Yesterday I didn't bathe.

I don't know if I have a good excuse.

I cleaned the garage.

Actually I just moved everything up against the walls so that I won't need to move the car out of the garage to get to the snowblower this winter. Now there are a few extra hooks in the walls with bicycles hanging on them. I should have taken more time with this aspect of the clean-up. Other people's bikes on their garage walls almost look like perfectly hung works of art. When you see our garage it looks as if we dipped our bikes in some kind of epoxy and threw them against the walls.

Allie and I rubbed the bugs off the front of Deb's car.

This was a long process and we still didn't get them all. As I was cleaning the little carcasses off the front of the Vibe I was thinking that if I were splattered and dried on the bumper of someone's car I would want to be very difficult to remove. I guess these bugs made their mark. Although I hate to think of a little bug asking in Gump-like fashion, "What's my destiny, Momma?"

Allie and I played hockey.

We had a lot more room in the garage so we shuffled a tennis ball back and forth. I'm working on Allie's slapshot. She's got skills. If I get her a right-sized stick we may be talking scholarship potential. Only she can't skate. Neither can I. We're talking about lessons starting in November. I should take them with her. I doubt if they'll let me in the class. At some point I'm almost certain to fall on one of the kids and I can't see anyone surviving that.

Deb made fishsticks and french fries.

I don't know why that has anything to do with me not taking a shower, but somehow it seems significant.

Last night I thought about going another day without a shower. Some kind of experiment so I'd feel French or something. When I woke up this morning, about seven, I immediately hopped into the shower. I guess if I want to feel more French I'll have to wear a scarf and overcoat when I finally go out this afternoon.

It's going to hit 85 degrees this afternoon.