Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lessons from Boston, Part II

Someone really needs to invent bifocals to be worn in the shower. Because somebody might not be able to read the printing on those teeny bottles of personal hygiene items at the hotel. And somebody might put ultra-moisturizing body lotion on their hair.

Not that I would know anything about that.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lessons from Boston

Three things I learned today while spending 3 hours lost in downtown Boston:

1. Do not bother to look for street signs in Boston. There are none. At least, none on the street corners that you will specifically be looking for.

2. Traffic lights mean something entirely different in Boston than in the rest of the world. Green: cheer for the Celtics. Yellow: cheer for the Bruins. Red: cheer for the Red Sox. Feel free to make a left-hand turn across oncoming traffic no matter which team is highlighted.

3. If you see a yellow line on the road to the left of your car, it means that you are in the "chapping lane." The yellow line indicates that you may, at any given time, steer your vehicle so that half of it is in the neighboring lane of oncoming cars. Then, because some idiot up the street is turning left while cheering for the Red Sox, you will block oncoming traffic for a full 3 minutes, thereby chapping the other four hundred thousand drivers trying to go by you.

Gotta run. I'm using a computer at a hotel at which I'm not even staying. I think. There aren't any street signs, so for all I know, I'm in Quebec.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

TC's Retirement Plan

The creators of Real Life Adventures summed up my retirement plan in today's comic.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

On The Road With Pain & Panic

There are times, when boys are very young, that a parent thinks, This kid is a knucklehead. It'll be a miracle if he survives to his 18th birthday. 

But the day finally comes when the parent looks at the boy, now grown into a young man, and the parent realizes, Shoot. He really IS an idiot.

I give you Exhibit A: my own sons, who for purposes of this entry will be called Pain and Panic.
After the big tire blowout in Dallas, and after waiting three hours at Pep Boys while the mechanics re-enacted the Battle of Gettysburg in the garage bays instead of changing our tire, we were finally ready to get back on the road to Florida. But, realizing that kids sleep better when their bellies are full - and are therefore quieter and less likely to make smoke come out of Dad's ears when he's driving - we decided to get some dinner. Hubster chose IHOP. Oh, yeah. Nothing like a quadrillion carbohydrates in the form of sugar to settle a kid down.

As the children plowed through their pancakes and bacon and whatever wasn't glued to the table by thousand-year-old maple syrup dribbles, Hubster quizzed them with some catechism questions. For every question they got right, they received another glass of orange juice. I was seeing a lot of potty stops in our immediate future.

After we'd paid the bill by arranging a second mortgage on our house, we headed for the exit. Naturally, Pain and Panic had to finish off an hour of spiritual exercise by jacking a couple of packages of crayons on the way out the door. Which just goes to show you can lead a horse to righteousness but you can't make him repent. Or something like that. 

And then they proceeded to terrorize their sister, FashionBug, all the way to Florida. Every time we saw a police car, they stuffed the hot crayons onto her lap and shrieked, "AHHH! The cops are after us for stealing!" FashionBug, who has a law authority phobia anyway, was convinced the whole lot of us would end up in a filthy Mississippi jail, guarded by Mongo.
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We arrived in Florida without any other major incidents.

Second day there: Pain and Panic announced they'd like to go fishing in the pond behind Grandpa's house. Grandpa fixed 'em up with a couple of rods and sent them on their merry way, which was rather foolish given that Grandpa's own son, Hubster, could barely be trusted on his own for more than 22.5 seconds until he reached age thirty.

One hour later, I went looking for the boys. They were nowhere to be seen around the pond.

Did I mention that this pond is home to a 10-foot alligator?

And did I also mention that Pain thinks he is the long-lost son of Steve Irwin, the late Crocodile Hunter? 

I had visions that my boys had approached the gator with the intent of bringing him back to Texas as a pet, but that the gator had approached them with the intent of bringing them into his stomach as dinner. 

Turns out the alligator DID play a role in their disappearance. Or rather, the lack of the gator. After they had fished for, oh, 4 minutes, and there was no sign of the Big Dude, the boys decided to hike over to another pond in hopes of "catching more fish" (which, in boy-speak means, "finding another alligator"). 

In a rush, it all came back to Grandpa how to parent two wayward boys. The rest of the day was rather, shall we say, unpleasant for Pain and Panic.
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Third day in Florida: We had been advised by Grandma that there had been some break-ins in the neighborhood, and that we were to be diligent in keeping all doors locked at all times. This applied especially to the house next door, where we had been given permission to stay, by the owner who had gone north. (Tommie, if you're reading this: When you go back to Florida in the fall, if you find any of my sons' socks or underwear in that spare bedroom, DO NOT - I repeat, DO NOT - attempt to remove them yourself. Call the authorities.)

It was close to midnight, and I was still up over at Grandpa's house when I heard a banging noise from outside. FashionBug and Pain and Panic had all gone to bed at the neighbor's house next door. The banging continued. I finally realized what was going on. Pain had likely gotten a phone call from a friend, taken his cell phone outside to talk, and was locked out the house. I smiled to myself as I decided to let him suffer the consequences a bit longer.

The banging kept getting louder and more insistent, and I figured I'd better speak to my son before the whole neighborhood was awake and pelting us with rocks and garbage.

I swear I felt every organ in my body shut down when I opened the door, looked across the driveway, and saw three police officers standing there with their weapons drawn. FashionBug was standing in the doorway of the neighbor's house and turning the color Gwyneth Paltrow might be if she spent a year living in a cave. Pain and Panic were, of course, sleeping soundly.

Well. It seems that a vigilant neighbor had noticed lights in the "empty" house, and given the recent rash of burglaries, had called the cops. I explained the situation to the men and they drove off in search of some donuts. 

Then I went to do my parenting duty of comforting and calming FashionBug. When I asked her what went through her mind when she opened the door and saw officers with a guns, she said, "I really thought they were here about those crayons."

Friday, June 13, 2008

If Men Vacuumed

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Hubster, if you're reading this: NO.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Honey, unless it comes with a camo TV remote, I'll still know where you are.

Every guy's favorite store, Testosterone World, is marketing some interesting things for Father's Day. (Oh, don't even try to convince me that they're also selling to women. Sure, they may offer a few token pink wool socks and a cast iron frying pan, but any place where you can actually hear men grunt when they enter the Bargain Cave is a guy's store.)

Father's Day gift idea #1:

Because a house isn't really a home without a camo rocker recliner.

But, wait! There's more!

Father Day gift idea #2:

The camo sectional sofa!! 

The problem I have with this is, what do you say when you go to JCPenney to order window treatments?
Clerk: Now, what's your decorating style, dear?
TC: Well, it's mostly Early American Tree Stand. But I like to throw in a few Cro Magnon accents just for fun.
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Hubster, if you're reading this: NO.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Flamingo Fandango, perhaps?

Okay, okay - I'm sorry. I totally forgot to write about the Guinea Pig Hoedown back in early May. (I swear I don't make this stuff up.) Mea culpa.
So as to make up for my error, I've decided to list a number of upcoming events here in the Federal Republic of Texas, things you can plan that summer vacation around. 'Course, with the price of fuel, you might need to sell your two oldest kids and their Wii to afford to get to some of these events, unless you have a close relative in Iraq, where gas currently costs fifty eight cents a gallon. (Again, not making this up.)

June 1 - Aug. 2, El Paso  UnKnitting: Challenging Textile Traditions. "Performative knitting practice in the creation of avant-garde, contemporary sculpture."
Performance knitting?! Who knew you could make a big blobby knot of yarn and call it art? Gee, I could be a master of performance cooking: 'I call this piece, "Rubbery Eggs Held Captive by Melted Spatula."'

June 6-8, Aransas Pass  60th Annual Shrimporee "Enjoy crafts, carnival, culinary tent, shrimp peeling contest, outhouse race, and more." 
Okay, I'll bet a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts that the outhouse race is the dream child of three guys named Bubba, Steve-O, and Dwayne, with the help of a couple of cases of Keystone Light.

June 13-14, Fredericksburg  Antique Tractor Engine Club Show "Features engine displays, tractor pull and parade, working sawmill, wheat thrashing, and more."
Yessirree, you cain't have a better time than gettin' together with your homies to ogle rusted gears.

June 14, Cross Plains  Barbarian Festival  "Includes cyclists' routes, live music, antique cars and tractors show (Tractors again? We Texans really do have other hobbies. Racing outhouses, for instance.), arts & crafts, and more."
I just think it would be great to be able to tell your friends, "I met my husband at a Barbarian Festival. Which explains a lot."

June 14, Gatesville  10th Annual Fire Ant 100-K
I personally have no interest in dragging my blubber over 100 kilometers, but if you go to this, please stomp on a few million fire ants on my behalf.

June 14-15, Stanton  Old Sorehead Trade Days  "Shop for arts & crafts, furniture, jewelry, clothing, and antiques."
I had no idea that Charles Barkley grew up in Stanton, Texas!

June 20-21, Mount Vernon  Scroggins Catalpa Worm Festival  "Includes live music, arts & crafts booths, and trail ride." 
Must be some mighty big worms if you can saddle 'em up.

June 21, Bellville  Austin County Fair Summer Music Fest & Bull Blowout  "Barbeque cook-off, classic car show, mutton busting, and arts & crafts." 
My advice - take a plastic poncho. That bull blowout is bound to be messy.

June 26-29, Luling  Watermelon Thump  "Includes a parade, live entertainment, seed spitting, and more." 
Might not want to buy a souvenir t-shirt at this event. The whole melon theme, you know.

June 28-29, Whitehouse  Four Winds Rendependence Open Joust Competition  "Texas' only full-contact jousting competition." 
Is it just me, or is it hard to imagine a bunch of cowboys playing at being knights? "Boy howdy, I'm gonna spear me a page!"

July 1 - Sep. 1, Corpus Christi  Flamingo Fandango  "Features the classic pink plastic yard flamingos theme-designed and dressed by area artists." 
Now really, how you can deny your children the experience of seeing hundreds of plastic flamingos dressed in evening wear, rodeo attire, and flannel pajamas? You want your kids to grow up totally uncultured, or what?

July 5, Granite Shoals  Second Annual Ugly Dog Contest  
It's July. In Texas. If we had any compassion on our dogs, we'd shave 'em all and enter 'em in the contest. Trust me, they'd be grateful.

July 24-26, Clute  Great Texas Mosquito Festival  "Three days of family fun, athletic events, vendors, and live music. See what the buzz is about." 
I know, I know, you Minnesotans say that your state bird is the mosquito. Well, lemme tell ya. Texas mosquitos are directly descended from pterodactyls. (Again, not making this up. Much.)

August 2, Gainesville  Breakfast With the Animals  "Enjoy a guided behind-the-scenes tour of one section of the zoo, including a meet & greet with an animal and breakfast on the dining deck." 
HA! I bet you thought that was going to be at MY house, didn't you?

August 3, San Angelo  Biscuits & Gravy Bike Ride  
Just one question: why ruin a perfectly good breakfast with exercise?

August 23, Honey Grove  Bugtussle Trek   "Enjoy the parade of vintage and classic vehicles (sure to be some tractors!), which are parked on the square during the lunch break on the trek between Dallas and Paris." 
Okay, I admit it - I want to go to this, just so I can buy the "Honk If You Bugtussle" bumper sticker.

August 23, Wichita Falls  Hotter'N Hell Hundred  
This is an event to which I've actually been, so rather than quote the press release, I'll just tell you what it's about: Thousands of obviously mentally deranged cyclists on a 100-mile ride in 100-degree weather. Hot tip (heh heh) - on August 22, buy stock in Aquafina.

August 30-31, Austin  Bat Fest  "Features a bat wing eating contest, bat watching, bat education, bridge bungee jumping, and more." 
Austin is a liberal, college town. You should have no trouble finding the necessary mind-altering drugs you'll need right before you eat a bat wing or jump off a bridge.

August 30-31, Buffalo Gap  Chili Super Bowl  "See and sample the world's largest bowl of chili." 
And you might want to be across the state line the next day, before the mass, uh, after-effects occur.

So there you go. If you have a boring summer, don't come crying to me. I'll be too busy admiring antique tractor spark plugs with my barbarian.