The Second Marriage Dimension.

“Why did you change lanes?”

My wife doesn’t like my driving, and I don’t like hers. I thought that we had established this long ago and had an unspoken agreement that we would suffer our dislike for each other’s driving in silence. She had broken the code of silence.

“You know we have to turn left right up there don’t you? You are not in the right lane to turn left,” she added with no sign of stopping her lane change protest.

This is the point at which our marriage reality splits into two separate dimensions. There is the normal dimension, which we are all used to, where I switch back to the lane that my wife feels is more suitable for turning left. But there is also another dimension that is ruled more by thought and impulse. Every marriage has this second dimension.

In the alternate marriage dimension, I continue driving in the lane I had switched into, and my wife continues to express her dissatisfaction for my lane choice. I reached over and grabbed her nose and turn it slightly to the left. This changes the channel so that her voice is suddenly turned into music, and her mouth was a speaker. I continued driving and nodding my head to the beat of Led Zeppelin’s Good Times, Bad Times emanating from my wifePod player. I reach back over and pull down slightly on her right ear, increasing the bass level of the music. Once the song ended, her voice returned and picked up right where she had left off in her protest. Without a word, I reached up to the dashboard and hit the eject button. Instantly, a panel slid open in the roof of the car, and my wife, seat and all, was rocketed skyward towards an unknown interstellar destination.

Not everyone is aware of this second marriage dimension, but we all utilize it. After dinner last night, I set my plate in the sink without scraping the remaining dinner scraps into the garbage. When I turned back from the sink, I came face to face with my wife . . . the same wife who has made it abundantly clear that all food scraps are to be scraped into the garbage before dishes are set in the sink. She looked at me, and then at the plate in the sink with food on it. She frowned.

Once again, reality was parted and two separate dimensions began unfolding simultaneously.

In the normal reality, I quickly turned back around and grabbed my dish to scrape its contents into the garbage. But in the alternate dimension, I didn’t have time to correct my mis-step. My wife’s frown was actually a result of her charging up her plasma vaporizer weapon located just behind both of her eyes. With a strobe-like flash and whooshing sound, a beam shot from her eye sockets and struck me squarely in the chest. Instantly, the atoms that made up my body were separated from each other and scattered to the wind, leaving a pile of clothing on the floor where I had just been standing. My wife whistled cheerfully as she scraped the food from my plate into the garbage and fanned away the puff of smoke that my de-atomized body had left hanging in the air.

Fortunately, we all experience our marriages and relationships in the first dimension. If it were the second alternate dimension that was our marriage reality, there would be very few marriages left intact. Divorcees, widows and widowers would be the commonplace as the result of spouses being silenced, paralyzed, vaporized, flung out of moving vehicles in ejection seats, and many other forms of spousal impulse justice.

In the second dimension, I never got to hear the funny comment she made about lady whose wild hair matched the hair of the dog she was walking down the sidewalk. Her mouth was loudly playing Led Zeppelin music right up until she was ejected from the vehicle.

In the second dimension, my wife and I didn’t end up sitting together on the couch eating our favorite ice cream and watching an awesome movie together that evening. I had been vaporized shortly after dinner for my food covered plate transgression.

In the first marriage dimension, there are second chances and I’m sorry’s. There are happy endings and long lives spent together. The next time your mind instantly transports your spouse to the epicenter of an active volcano for saying you spend too much time watching football, just remember, somewhere in another marriage dimension, you are about to spend the rest of your life alone.

 

This story was originally published on Sweatpants and Coffee

 

 

Were We just tougher back then?

All across Michigan, schools have been canceled due to the extreme snow and cold. This means that Facebook will light up with us older, tougher folks complaining about school never having been canceled for snow and cold when we were younger. I might have joined in on the chorus, but truth be told, I’m jealous.

When I was younger, school was never canceled because of extreme snow and cold. If it had been, I might still have my best friend, Jimmy.

Jimmy and I would walk together to the bus stop, which was eight and a half miles away. Neither of us had coats, so we would steal newspapers from driveways and paper boxes along our trek to stuff in our clothing to act as insulation. On the worst of the cold mornings, we would light our newspaper coats on fire for extra warmth . . . it’s just what you did back then to survive.

On one particular minus-forty-two degree day, Jimmy and I were making our way through the chin deep snow towards our bus stop. We had already successfully warded off an attack from one of the roving packs of rabid neighborhood dogs, and escaped the gang of kidnappers who would prey on children walking to the bus stop. . . . so it had actually started out a good morning. Making the morning even better, we had just found the last roadkill carcass needed to strap to our bare feet to act as snowshoes. After fashioning our carcass snowshoes, Jimmy and I continued on our way.

A mile later, we in the middle of our third frozen-river crossing required to make it to the bus stop, when suddenly, the ice began to crack, and Jimmy fell through. He flailed wildly, trying to keep his head above the frigid water, but despite his efforts, he was beginning to go under.

Using a technique that I had learned earlier that year from a bus stop safety film, I fashioned a rope out of thread pulled from my burlap underwear, and was able to pull Jimmy from the icy river waters. He crawled to the shore, thanking me repeatedly for saving him, but deep inside, I knew it would probably have been more humane to simply let him drown.

Even if he did survive, I could tell from the pale blueness of his fingers that he would no longer be able to use them to complete the eleven hours of homework that was assigned to us every night, let alone, be able to hunt the possum, needed during our walk to the bus stop, for food to keep himself alive. I kept these thoughts to myself.

It was still another mile to the bus stop, so I knew I had to keep Jimmy moving. I switched out his wet insulation newspapers with some of the dry ones from my shirt and covered his head with a hat I made from some of the corn husks that my mom had sewn together to make the pants I was wearing.

I did my best to prod and encourage Jimmy’s shivering body to keep walking. I gave him bits of carcass jerky that I had ripped from my roadkill boots, but he was fading fast.

When we were a few hundred yards from the bus stop, Jimmy finally collapsed from exhaustion and hypothermia. I tried to get him back on his feet, but to no avail. I could see the headlights of the bus in the distance. There was no way I could get Jimmy there in time.

“I’ll never forget you, Jimmy!” I said tearfully, as I quickly covered him with the remainder of my newspaper insulation and lit it on fire to keep him warm in his final hours.

“Please don’t leave me,” he pleaded. But I knew that if I missed the bus, it would be Jimmy who would succumb to the kinder fate by freezing to death.

I kissed him on the head, and skin tore my lips having frozen to his icy hair . . .  and then I ran the rest of the way to the bus. As I sat down in my seat and looked back down the road through the window, I could see a truck stopping near Jimmy’s collapsed body. I knew I would never see him again.

Back in those days, there were greedy opportunists who would drive the roads on such dangerously cold mornings looking for the bodies of kids who had frozen to death along the bus routes. They would load up the victims and sell them to dog food manufacturers to be ground into dog food.

For thirty-five years now, I have sadly thought about Jimmy every time I fill a dog dish with food. So complain about school being canceled due to cold? Not I. I thank the Lord that my kids will never have to live the rest of their lives with the image of poor frozen Jimmy being loaded into a dog food truck.

 

Free for Imperfect Parents and Spouses.

Attention all imperfect parents and spouses! Don’t miss your chance to download my just-short-of-world-famous Ebook for FREE! Single Family Asylum is now free to download on several platforms below. Unfortunately, Amazon will not allow me to offer it for free, so you can get the book nearly anywhere except from Amazon. Amazon sucks.

If you find the stories entertaining, leave a review on whichever site you downloaded it from! If you hated the book . . . . ummm . . . just forget you read it.

Stories from the book have been featured here on my blog, as well as on many other sites such as Mamalode, Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, Sweatpants and Coffee, and Parent Co.

Get the book on your phone from either the iBook’s app for Apple, or from Google Play Books on Android by searching on the title. You can also download from these sites:

Nook/Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/single-family-asylum-jon-ziegler/1123454991?ean=2940155078418

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/764903

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/single-family-asylum

For those of you who enjoyed the book so intensely that you feel compelled to pay something for it, instead of paying me, make a donation to Compassionate Life Foundation!

My wife recently took over as Executive Director of The Compassionate Life Foundation. CLF is a small non-profit that provides funding for the El Shaddai Orphanage and CLF Student Center in Swaziland, Africa. The CLF Directors and board members are 100% volunteer, so no one here in the U.S. is getting any part of donations received. We do pay some Swazi employees at the Orphanage and the care center, but their monthly income is less than most fast food workers make in a week. If you are like me, you have always wondered how much of your donated money actually makes it to the people you are trying to help. I can tell you first hand that other than money spent on office supplies and what is spent on fundraisers, all CLF donations go towards food, tuition, uniforms, maintenance on the orphanage and paying Swazi staff.

Interested? Go here: https://james127.org/

The Danger of Pancakes

I love pancakes. My kids love pancakes. Sometimes I make them shaped like animals because my girls think it’s the greatest thing in the world. Sometimes I make pancakes for dinner.

The only problem with pancakes is that pancakes involve maple syrup. And maple syrup involves stickiness. Even as an adult, I cannot manage to get through a pancake meal without being plagued by stickiness. I try hard to contain the syrup and its stickiness properties to the end of my fork, but without fail, it will work its way up to my fingers. From my fingers, it will then travel to forearms, face, shirt, the table top, and even the dogs head.

My young girls fare even worse. By the time they have finished their animal shaped pancakes, their sticky hands and faces have collected pancake crumbs, lint, dog and cat hair, small pieces of napkin, and whatever else happens to be a floating around. They end up looking like a mop just before you rinse all the crud out of it. And heaven forbid the syrup gets stuck in their hair.

If one is not careful, the stickiness can spread from my daughters to the table, chairs, pets, door knobs, toys, and nearly every other surface in the entire house. On pancake day, it is not uncommon for one of our cats to be seen running around the house with a sticky pancake fork stuck to its back, and leaving sticky pancake crumb paw prints.

I’ve often thought that a man could get rich if he invented syrup that wasn’t sticky. But until someone does, a next best remedy might be to make young children eat pancakes naked in the bathtub. That way as soon as they are finished, you can just turn on the shower and wash all the stickiness away.

……

If you enjoyed this story, there are a whole book of them on Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BNRBM5A

Or download it for free here;

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/764903

Gluten saved my Marriage.

For some mysterious reason, I have successfully fooled the kind folks over at Sweatpants and Coffee into thinking I’m a real writer. I’ve somehow become a bit of a regular. Here is my latest creation that they have posted . . . . (If you go check it out, don’t let on that I’m only a pretend writer).

Gluten Save My Marriage

 

Sweatpants & Humor | Gluten Saved My Marriage

That’s not Funny.

It seems to me, that when entering the world of having children, we are expected to leave our sense of humor by the door. Joking is permitted in nearly all aspects of our lives, with the exception of infants and children.

Shortly after the birth of my first daughter, Hannah, my mother-in-law arrived at our house and asked where the new baby was. I simply answered, “I put her in the dryer because she was making too much noise.”

She did not find it to be the least bit funny and in fact, you would have thought that I had just committed a murder right in front of her. I started to explain that I was just only joking, but then my razor sharp wit took over and I added, “The dryer only amplifies sound. If I was going to stick her in an appliance, it would have been the dish washer.”

This sent her into a rage, “YOU DON’T EVEN JOKE ABOUT SUCH THINGS!”

It would seem to me, that when it comes to joking about sticking infants into appliances, the general consensus is that if I joke about it, then I have to actually do it.

A few years later, I was left alone with my two daughters and four of their cousins while all the mothers went shopping. One young niece started singing, “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round.”

Before long, all of the other kids had joined in, and after ten minutes of the same phrase being repeatedly sung by six loud children, my sanity began to wear thin. To make the concert more bearable, I decided to compose a second verse to the song, and have them perform it when the mothers arrived home from shopping.

The second verse went like this, “The cheeks on my butt make lots of sound, lots of sound.”

The six of them performing this new verse in front of their mothers, did not go over any better than the daughter in the dryer joke. You would have thought I had taught them all to swear like sailors. In fact, one of my sister-in-laws still won’t let me watch her children alone any more.

Perhaps my brand of humor is a bit much when talking about something as precious as our little children, but I think everybody could lighten up a little bit too . . . because if you don’t, I will come to your house, and glue your children’s feet to the ceiling and wrap them in Christmas tree lights . . .  That is a joke, I would never glue their feet to the ceiling because the blood rushing to their heads would make them pass out. I would only glue children’s feet to the floor.

 

If you enjoyed this story, there is a whole book full of them waiting for you at Amazon:

Single Family Asylum

The Traumatic Changes to One’s Life that are the Result of Getting Married.

No one ever warned me of all the changes that take place when one gets married. Just when you think you have it all figured out, along comes a wife who takes your neatly organized bucket of life, and dumps it all over the floor.

My own wife could have warned me about her intentions with my apartment before we were married and she moved in. It’s not like she hadn’t ever been there before. She never mentioned that there were issues with the way I had things set up . . . she just moved in and started changing things.

The first thing she did as she entered our newly shared home was to walk straight over to my large Pink Floyd wall banner (that I had won at the fair) and remove it from its’s place of honor on the living room wall.

“Wwwwwwhat are you doing?” I asked nervously.

“This has to go,” she answered as she replaced the banner with two candle holders that were infested with fake flowers and little mirrors.

“Ummm… can’t we talk abou-” but before I could state my case, she had already moved on to the bathroom.

Little did I know, this seemingly small incident would set the tone for the next several days . . .  actually years.  It was from that exact point in time that the household was no longer mine, nor did I have any say in what happened within its walls. Our domestic relationship became one of her running around “doing things” to the apartment, while I followed behind saying things like, “Well, are you sure we should- . . .  I mean . . .  I really liked the way it was . . .  How about we talk about . . . ”

But to no avail.

Immediately following the desecration of the Pink Floyd banner, she went straight to the bathroom carrying a huge box of variously scented hair, skin, body, and face products. There was every type smell and flavor under the sun . . . mango, rose petal, pineapple, maple, passion fruit, and many others that were even more perfumery smelling. The combined smell of all of these smelly things gave me a headache and made my ears ring whenever I had to spend more than a minute in the bathroom.

Next she brought in another box that was filled with electrical hair altering devices. There were hair dryers, hair straighteners, hair curling machines and even one that put small waves in you hair so that you looked like you belonged in a Whitney Houston video. My single wall plug next to the light switch had suddenly become extremely inadequate.

Why on earth does a human need all this stuff in a bathroom?  When I was single, my bathroom had been a fairly simple room. It contained toilet paper, a dirty clothes basket, a basket for clothes that were almost-but-not-quite-yet dirty, and a towel. The medicine cabinet contained a toothbrush, my baseball card collection, and the bar of soap that I showered, shampooed, and brushed my teeth with. The only thing in my bathroom that needed plugging in was my electric knife which I used for filleting fish that I had caught.

But all that was gone now, or buried under the tonnage of her smelly stuff. She had even removed my collection of vintage fake vomit and poop from the shelf above the toilet, and replaced with “Precious something-or-other” figurines with creepy huge eyes.

The trauma from these changes was a shock to my system, and made it difficult for me to go to the bathroom . . .  so much so, that I had to relieve myself behind the apartment dumpster for a week until my psyche was able to adapt to being watched by the creepy large-eyed figurines while I did my business.

Next in her sight was the kitchen. Once there, she attacked the refrigerator, which was emptied of nightcrawler containers and all similar matter of live bait. The beer crisper drawer was emptied and filled with various vegetable matter. Flowery curtains were also added to the windows where my dream-catchers once hung.

But the changes were not just limited to the objects in the apartment. Rules were also added. Rules that did not seem logical to me. In fact, I had such a difficult time remembering and adjusting to the new rules, that a list was posted on the wall in the dining room that read like this:

  1. Clothes must be washed after each wear (instead of waiting until they failed the sniff test).
  2. No showering with the dog (my attempt at water conservation).
  3. Pizza can only be ordered once a week (I lobbied for cutting back to every third day, but again, was soundly vetoed).
  4. Showering is now a daily event (instead of waiting until I failed the sniff test).
  5. And finally, I was expected to discuss with my wife prior to deciding to skip work and drive to the Star Trek convention, rather than letting her know from my hotel room in Toledo.

 

Over the course of the following year, more changes were implemented . . . too many to even list. But I slowly became accustomed to them, and eventually even felt like things were getting back to normal.

That is, until the arrival of two daughters. Where once again my neatly organized bucket of life was dumped out all over the floor.