Stop Talking To That Cat! (And other things married people say.)

So the wife and I are having a conversation, her in her kerchief, and me in my– Okay, her in the bathroom, and me parked in bed watching something very manly. Not “Four Weddings,” or any such nonsense.

As girls are able to do, the wife does her pre shower routine and carries on a conversation at the same time. I’m lucky I can brush my teeth without poking myself in the eye, so I usually just focus on the one thing.

I keep muting the TV to pay attention to what she’s saying. I make the common error of thinking the conversation is over now and then after she falls silent for a few seconds. I go back to watching– and then have to mute the sound again when the next thought occurs to her. (I love that girl something fierce, but she is a bit of a flibbertigibbet.)

Anyway, she finally closes the door and turns on the shower, so I “un-mute” the show and go back to watching. But no. The conversation goes on. Apparently. I rarely hear most of the stuff the first time around, so we’re both used to me finally realizing she’s talking to me and saying, “Oh. What?”

I hear her through the bathroom door, but the TV is too loud. I mute it and say, “What, baby?”

Yeah, that’s me. All romance and stuff.

She says something, but the shower is running in there so I can’t make it out. I’m old and I’ve abused my eardrums horribly over the years. I’m lucky I can hear her when she’s standing right next to me.

“WHAT?” A little louder this time.

She says something on her side of the door, also a little louder this time. Again, with the oldness and the eardrum thing.

“I CAN’T HEAR YOU,” I say.

She opens the bathroom door and cloud of steam rolls out. Along with one of our never-ending supply of rescue cats.

“Nevermind,” the wife says. “I was talking to the cat.”

I am actually struck silent for a second… Then I say, “Well, stop talking to that damn cat, I’m trying to watch TV.”

“What does me talking to the cat have to do with you watching TV?” she says.

Instead of starting the whole explanation that I just typed out, I say, “Your father would be disappointed with all the hot water you’re wasting.” (Her dad’s a plumber and one of those old-school “I’m not heating the whole neighborhood” guys.)

She sticks out her tongue and closes the door.

I un-mute my manly show, erroneously believing this conversation is over.

Mom is always right. Even if she crazy.

crazymom

 

Not long ago, my youngest son was talking to my wife about some allergy issue he had. Yeah, sure, that was a mistake. But he hasn’t lived with her as long as I have, so I have to cut him some slack. You never disclose any minor ailments to Mom. Because there are no minor ailments to Mom.

Once he let this tidbit of medical information slip out, it couldn’t be pulled back. He would just have to learn on his own.

Being experienced in the ways of “the woman,” I recognized the look. My son, unfortunately, did not.

Wife: Did you take Brand Name OTC Allergy Stuff?

Son: Nah, I had some Generic Allergy Stuff in my car, so I took that.

Wife: That stuff doesn’t work as well as Brand Name OTC Allergy Stuff.

Son: For some reason, it seems to work really well for me.

Wife: No, it doesn’t.

My son looked like he was about to reply to that, so I grabbed him by the elbow and quickly pulled him away.

Me: Boy, what’s wrong with you? Can’t you see she got the crazy in her eye?

Son: Huh?

So I had to have the Talk. It was time. He’s twenty-one. I told him something he might as well know now. To Mom, you will always be her baby boy. No matter how old you are, now matter how tall or broad in the chest you become, you will aways be Mom’s baby boy.

And as a baby boy, it’s only natural that Mom knows better than you. About anything. Especially medical emergencies like her baby not sleeping well because he can’t breathe properly.

Sure, the rest of us might think it’s crazy to see a grown man as a baby, but then… we’re not Mom.

When we returned, my wife had the defib unit allergy medicine in her hand. My son accepted it with a smile, thinking that would appease her.

That boy may never learn.

Wife: What kind of toothpaste have you been using?

Yup. I left him there. He’ll be okay as long as he remembers that Mom is always right.

Even when she crazy.

 

A Holiday for Making Someone Pregnant

Tristan thinking

Happy Father’s Day!!

In other words, “Way to go on that whole insemination thing!”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it.

“Wait, you’re gonna do whatever I want because it’s Father’s Day? Everyone leave the house immediately. I’ll spend the day watching movies and vaping eating popcorn. Later, I’ll text your mother that it’s time to show up in the appropriate lingerie.”

As you can imagine, the kids turn a little green and emit “ew” noises at the last line.

I’ve had a good run. Twenty-five Father’s Days. Quite of few of them filled with lazy days to myself and… “ew.”

Then this year it all came crashing down.

The overwhelmingly cute little guy above is my first grandson, Tristan. I’m a grandfather at 49. Thanks a lot, a**holes you lovely children.

In my head, a grandfather is an old guy with silver no hair, probably bifocals, and like an endless supply of quarters in his pocket. Remember? “Grandpa, you got any quarters? Wow, that was behind my ear?”

The no hair part is easy. Bifocals aren’t far away now. But seriously, who carries quarters around these days?

My grandkids will have to yell, “Grandpa Grumpa, hit my PayPal account, hit my PayPal account.” I will, of course, thump them on the forehead to remind them that life is tough and there’s no damn Wi-Fi in the WalMart parking lot.

I guess maybe I’m being an old fart about the whole Father’s Day thing. It’s not just about the fun part conception. It’s not even about being the World’s Best Dad. (Lord knows I fall short of the mark.) What it’s really about is what I see in my son when he holds that baby in that picture up there.

Love.

You may not make every game, or see every play. You’ll most likely never live up to Ward Cleaver’s lofty marks for Fatherhood. But if you go out of your way to show your kids love, you’ll see it in them later. If you aren’t afraid to show your own emotions, to hug, to kiss, to tell them exactly how much you care about them…

You’ll see it again later. Trust me.

Guest Blogger: Deaf Cat Jekyll

IMG_20140403_140235

@deafcatjekyll

One of my hoomans is constantly tippy-tapping at this machine. He gave me a treat if I would do it.

What a sucker. I would put my paws all over the computer for free. Then again, the bald one is not the smartest in the bunch. When I dig my claws into furniture, he makes his mouth move a lot. He knows I am deaf, but still does the thing with his mouth.

Normally, cats wait until you hoomans leave the room to laugh at you… I couldn’t help myself. I laughed until I coughed up a white furball.

My other hooman has more hair and smells better than the bald one. At least she knows to wave her paws at me when I scratch the chair. She may be smarter than the bald one.

However, she continues to put food on the floor that I do not approve of, so maybe not…

They have a kitten, but he is HUGE. He lives in the same box with us, but mostly stays in his smaller box with one of these machines in front of him. (I don’t know why, but I sometimes like to pee on his bed. This makes the good-smelling hooman lose her shit. No, really.)

There are other cats here. They do not amuse me. Unless I sneak up on them. Deaf cats is stealthy.

Okay, go away. Time for snoozie.

Valentine’s Day is for Suckers and Married People

heart

Okay, and maybe single people who are trying to get laid.

Single + Valentine’s Day = Flowers, Dinner, Movie, Chocolate, BJ.

Married +Valentine’s Day = Last second card from the grocery store. Maybe a BJ if the card is real nice.

That’s a bargain!

Either way, it’s just another day you get to blow money on stuff because that’s supposed to mean you love the other person. Or at the very least, you just figured out what BJ means and you’re really interested in that.

I’ve been married for damn near thirty years. We take our romance where we can get it. Sometimes it happens on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes it happens on Wednesday.

When you both work and you basically see each other two full days per week, sitting in bed together and watching a movie can often trump cards, flowers, or chocolate. (Does it trump BJs? How dare you!)

Whatever you have in mind for tomorrow, just make sure it includes hanging out with someone you care about. Let each other know it’s not just because of the date on the calendar.

 

 

 

They Burn Us

They Burn Us

 

For a writer’s blog, I don’t seem to talk about writing much, do I?

Hopefully that’s because I’m busy writing short stories and novels and when I blog, I like to take a break from thinking about it. Or I could just be lazy.

Either way, I’m finally posting about writing. A novel I’ve worked on for the last year has recently gone up on Kindle Scout.  https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1ROOL446MW5F4

It’s called “They Burn Us,” and at the moment, it’s doing quite well in the “Hot and Trending” section. I suspect that will drop off over the next few weeks, since it has to stay up for 30 days. I’m a decent enough guy, I suppose, but I just don’t have two or three thousand friends.

I’ll chronicle the path of the book as best I can. I’ve read accounts by other authors involved in Kindle Scout and it seems to be a great opportunity for new and published authors alike. The digital age seems to have led to a few open doors where writers had always run into a brick wall before. It didn’t exactly open the floodgates for work that isn’t repped by an agent, but if you had zero before, then even one looks pretty damn good.

If I self-published, I’d never have the market access that Kindle and Amazon have. I’ll see what happens in the way of marketing if the book is accepted. I’m notoriously lousy at self promotion. That will be the hard part of “professional” writer for me. It will require some type of medication that alters antisocial behavior.

I’ll update from time to time, but for now I really want to thank everyone who put the book on the radar in those first couple of crazy days.

Thanks!

It’s All in the Attitude

rrxing

 

Almost twenty years ago, a friend of mine named Daniel Fraembs was killed in the line of duty. I’d never met his family until his mother and sister came out to take care of Dan’s personal business and attend his funeral.

I knew the guy as someone who always had another side to whatever you were currently lamenting. If you were griping about someone who didn’t like you, he’d ask if maybe they felt that way because of something you did. Maybe something you didn’t consider bad.

Most of us want a friend to basically commiserate and call the world a sonuvabitch on our behalf. Being friends with Dan kind of forced you to pause for a second and take another look at whatever the hell the problem was. I figured that was something he learned in the Marines.

Then I spent a few days with his mom and sister and I found out it must have been a small grain of positive energy that lodged in him at conception.

His mother told a story about when Dan was a little kid. He and his mom got stuck at a railroad crossing while they were out driving. Like most of us adults, his mom thought, “Great. Stuck at the train tracks.”

Dan piped up and said, “Aren’t we lucky? We get to see a train.”

It’s all in the attitude.

Some people automatically want to hate a story like that. It’s that tiny kernel of negative shit that’s lodged inside them. Those people will say, “All the pie-in-the-sky thinking in the world won’t make a bad situation better.”

In the real world, that’s true. Sometimes things don’t get better, no matter how positive you think. Then again, sometimes they do. While you wait to find out, wouldn’t you rather spend more time in a happy frame of mind than not?

Some people enjoy their misery. I do not. So enjoy it in private and stop inviting other people to join you.

Remember my friend Dan? As a baby, he was found buried in the sand on a beach in China, his umbilical cord still attached. If anyone had a fucking reason to see the world as a swirling cesspool filled with negative shit, it was him. But he chose not to.

It’s all in the attitude.

Life Is Effing Weird

Mike and Apey

When I was a kid, my plan in life was to become a mercenary.

No, seriously, fer rills. Once, in Junior High, a library assistant came to the classroom door and announced all the overdue books checked out to people in that room.

The other couple of kids on the list had stuff like “I, Robot” or “Where the Red Fern Grows.” When they called my name, it was for a book on the history of booby traps and “The Art of War.” I went to Junior High in the early ’80s. They really had those books in the library. (In the days before Angry Moms could start a Twitter movement to get rid of a particular library book.)

In my sophomore year, I decided on Marine Biologist. I think because it sounded like a fun job more than any other reason. Then I found out how boring Biology classes were.

So, back to mercenary.

I had exactly zero direction in life when I graduated High School. I was a weird amalgamation of Popular Kid, Stoner, Slacker, Smart Kid, and Amateur Hoodlum. I moved in and out of AP classes from one year to the next because when they put me in, I wouldn’t do squat and would earn horrible grades. The next year, they wouldn’t put me in AP classes. (A wise choice, by the way.) Then they’d give us a Standardized Test at the end of the year, see my scores, sigh and roll their eyes, and put me back in AP classes.

I moved out of my father’s house at the end of my junior year of High School. I moved in with my girlfriend who graduated two years ahead of me. Faced with the prospect of going out into an Oklahoma winter morning or staying in bed next to a warm woman… Let’s just say my attendance rate plummeted.

I was a pretty smart kid and I barely made it out of High School because I couldn’t be bothered to go or put out effort when I did go. Yeah, I could tell you a long sob story about my lousy home life. (In fact, maybe another post should be about those stupid Facebook memes that show a set of clackers or an Evel Knievel toy with the words “If You Remember These, Your Childhood Was Awesome!”) It just ain’t true.

But the point is, I graduated High School seriously adrift in life.

So of course, I joined the Marines. That straightened me right out. Not really, I drank and got in fights like I thought I’d joined the John Wayne World War Two Marines. I had not. I got in trouble for doing stupid things and went through a divorce.

So of course, I became a police officer. The kid who at turns was a Slacker, Stoner, and Amateur Hoodlum became a cop. When I went back for my 10-Year reunion, I think a couple of my High School friends actually wet themselves a little when they heard that.

Having not grown up as one of those kids who just couldn’t wait to become a cop, I didn’t have much use for those who had. I found quite a few of them to be officious little pricks who would step over their own mother to get that next rung on the Civil Servant ladder. As quickly as I grew tired of that, I also grew tired of cleaning up after other people’s random violence, poor life choices, and murderously terrible driving.

So of course, I went into the Makeup FX industry.

Wait… Okay, I had to go back and read that twice, myself. How the hell did that happen? Oh yeah, my wife’s friend Tamara happened to be in that industry. She got me a job doing grunt work on the shop floor of Stan Winston Studio. I had no idea who Stan Winston was, other than the stuff I’d seen on TV. This tended to aggravate people who had grown up wanting to be in this business and tried for years and years to get hired by Stan Winston Studio.

But I was a former Marine and ex-cop who worked in a violent city, so they didn’t give me too much crap about it. In fact, some of them began to teach me how to do the one job in the industry that I actually had a shot at. Making molds of sculptures and makeup appliances. Then I learned how to cast pieces out of those molds, what kind of material to use for different things, and most importantly, how to take a break at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. As a cop, I had a thirty-minute lunch in a 10-hour shift. I was elated to learn this “break” concept. Oh, and the molding and casting. That was great, too.

Turns out, during my time in the Marines and on the PD, I had accidentally learned how to point a group of people in one direction and get them to accomplish a common goal. In the Makeup FX industry, that job is called “Project Coordinator.”

So there I am, at the top of this post, in a picture with my beautiful wife at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. I’m even wearing a tuxedo, what my younger self might have called an “asshole wrapper.” Our shop, Fractured FX, won an Emmy for the crew’s awesome work on American Horror Story: Freakshow. Which means somewhere, there is a picture of a guy who was a weird amalgamation of Popular Kid, Stoner, Slacker, Smart Kid, and Amateur Hoodlum who graduated High School with zero direction in life… holding an Emmy. That he did not steal.

Life is effing weird, man.

The Dish Whisperer

Dishes

 

 

Here’s the thing… After you’ve been married for a few years, you begin to notice how crazy other people are. Especially people who live with you. And are married to you.

The other night, I heard my wife talking to someone in the kitchen. I don’t have a large house. Since I could already account for the whereabouts of every other person in the home, I assumed my wife was talking to herself. Or worse, the cats.

But it was worse than I thought.

With a sly grin, I wandered into the kitchen and said, “Who ya talkin’ to?”

Now, she could’ve gone with “the cats” and I would’ve given that a pass. (Who hasn’t been alone with the cat and said, “Seriously, you are freaking clean, okay?!”) Unfortunately for the wife, she has a certain deer-in-the-headlights look when she’s searching for an answer.

Okay, now I was curious.

“So… not the cats?” I said.

She gave me one of those Don’t have me committed looks and said, “The dishes.”

“Oh. Well, then. Uh, what did you tell them?”

“I told them I’d do them tomorrow. I just didn’t feel like it right now,” she said.

I looked at the dishes and said, “Get in line.”

She may not have appreciated the last part, my memory’s a little fuzzy there. But the point is, people are crazy. Crazy as hell.

Wait, was that my point? I may not have had one, come to think of it.

I have a screenwriter friend who hates when characters speak out loud to themselves. I’m willing to bet most of your money that at least once this month he’s been alone in a room and said, “Where the hell did I put it? I just had it.”

More than once, I’ve locked up the building where I work, made it halfway to my car and said, “Oh, you dumbass.” I left my laptop in the office.

People talk to themselves. People talk to cats. People talk to birds, horses, guinea pigs, and even though Mother told them not to, strange dogs they see on the street.

So is it really that weird to catch your wife talking to the dishes?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Happy Anniversary

apey and mike

So… Marriage. It’s a hoot. And then it’s not. And then it is again. Everyone has issues at some point in a relationship. It’s the Prime Freakin’ Directive of Marriage. You will fight. Over petty shit, medium shit, and big shit. Believe me, there will be enough crap to justify all the shits above.

There will be definite stages:

Argue.

Make up.

Make-up Sex.

It’s a pattern we all have to come to terms with, like it or not. Women are weird. They want to do things, like talk. Men are weird. Most of us still giggle when we fart. Put men and women together and we’re often a mess. But when we’re not a mess, we can be great together. We just have to be willing to overlook the minor imperfections and stick to the mentality of “It’s you and me against the world, kid.”

My wife and I recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. There was a time in my life when I didn’t think I’d live to be 27, much less stay married to another human for that long.

How do you guys do it? What’s the secret?

Well, I’ll tell you. The first thing you do is wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “Self, that creature lying next to you with a pillow over her head and icy feet jammed between your warm ones is a treasure that you should never ever–”

Ah, okay, that’s bullshit. Truth is, I don’t know. I don’t really think anyone else does either. You will argue. Sometimes quietly, like in the checkout line when you’re trying to decide who was supposed to grab the arugula. (Here’s a hint. No one was.)

Sometimes, it’ll be loudly, like when you’re trying to determine who was the real asshole during this argument. (Here’s a hint. You both were. That’s why you’re married. Get over it and have make-up sex already.)

You will never, outside a room with leather couches where a counselor is taking notes, say something like, “When you call me a lazy ass, what I hear you saying is that my napping on the couch has disrespected the fact that you are awake.”

You’ll never say that because there are too many loose items in the bedroom that can be thrown with the kind of velocity that requires a trip to Urgent Care.

But you will fight. And despite what all the relationship gurus tell you, you will on occasion go to bed angry. Try not to do it too much, but let’s not pretend we’re all blessed with the heart of Mother Teresa just because someone said the secret to a successful marriage is not going to bed mad. Sometimes it’s damn hard to let it go, whatever it is. You will, though. Because you’ll start to think about all the things that other person does for you, and how empty your life would be if you woke up without them.

So… Marriage. It’s a hoot. And then it isn’t. And then it is again.

Happy Anniversary, Baby!