Many Thanks to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop!

I am honored to have had my  Easter Story posted on the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop website! Surf on over and give my story a like. You can even read other humorous stories by real life authors and columnists (I consider myself to be a pretending author).

Erma Bombeck was the first author I remember reading as a teenager that actually made me LOL! If you are an aspiring or established humor writer, try submitting a post!

Being a Cool Dad.

The other day, while driving my daughter’s home from school, the discussion was centered on one of the girls friends, Christiana and how much fun it was to stay at her house.

“What makes it so fun to stay at Christina’s house?” I had to ask.

“They let us watch horror movies,” Natalie answered.

“Christina’s parents are cool, too,” Hannah added.

“Yeah, her parents ARE cool,” agreed Natalie.

The horror movie answer was a bit concerning to me, but had not nearly the sting of the cool parents statement. What made her parents so cool? . . . I had always considered myself to be a cool parent.

I never wore dark socks pulled up to my knees while wearing shorts like my dad had done. And I was always doing fun and entertaining things when my daughters had friends over, like playing my hilarious DVD of Star Trek episodes that had the dialogue dubbed over in German, or performing my famous word-for-word reenactment of Walter Cronkite’s moon landing newscast, using a high falsetto voice. But apparently, it takes something far less substantial to be considered cool to this generation of kids.

In the days that followed the overheard conversation in the car, it would bother me every time I thought about it. I remembered when I was a teenager, and how some of my friend’s parents were so much cooler than others. I couldn’t stand it . . . I had to be a cool dad.

I felt certain that it would not take much to push my stature well into the “cool” dad category. I mean it’s not like I was some socially stunted hermit who was completely out of touch with the youth of today. So for the next few evenings, I plotted the grand unveiling of my coolness.

….

That Friday, I pulled up to the front of the school ready to impress. I knew that some things never change when it comes to the teenage requirements for coolness, so the first thing needed was some loud bumping music.

I would have preferred to have picked out one of my daughters CD’s to blast, but since my 1998 Buick had come equipped with a cassette deck, this was not an option. Luckily, I still had a few tapes in a shoebox in the garage, and luckier yet, some of my sisters old tapes had gotten mixed in with mine . . . teenage girl music is teenage girl music, I figured.

As I slowly drove along the student lined sidewalk in front of the school, I put in my sisters tape that I had picked out, a band called Menudo, and let it rip. The music was loud and had a catchy beat, but apparently teeny bopper music in my sister’s day wasn’t any better than what my daughters listen to, because I couldn’t understand a word they were singing. It was almost like they were singing in Spanish or some other language.

I had my hat on sideways, and despite the pain in my back, I was leaned way over into the middle of the car like I had seen other cool young people doing. I tried my best to bob my head in time with the catchy, loud music. I spotted my girls standing in the row of students, and stopped in front of them.

Wanting to fully display my new found coolness, I cranked the poorly vocalized music even louder and got out to escort my daughters over to the car. As I approached the sidewalk, I noticed quite a few students laughing and pointing in my general direction. There was a particularly criminal looking group of teen boys that began yelling things like “turn that crap down, grandpa!” My oldest daughter seemed to be upset, and possibly crying.

My youngest daughter marched up to me and screamed, “DAD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

“What?” I said calmly, “Do the rules of coolness not apply to guys over 40?”

“Why are you blasting 60’s Spanish music loud enough for the whole town to hear?” She shrieked.

“It’s not from the 60’s, it’s from th- . . . wait, that really is Spanish?” I mumbled.

“And why in the world would you walk around in public like that?” she demanded, sounding even angrier.

I assumed she was talking about my hat being sideways and my underwear showing a bit, like I had seen every other boy at the school wearing.

“Dads can’t sport a little sag?” I asked while making gang-like hand gestures that teens nowadays seem to use while talking.

“You have your underwear pulled up, not your pants sagged down!” (By now she was yelling.) “And they are white fruit of the looms with the elastic band half ripped off!!!”

Unconvinced that hiking my undergarments up was any different than pulling my pants down, I turned to walk back to the car.

As I stepped off the sidewalk, the pain caused from leaning over in the car seat intensified and my back suddenly went out, causing me to collapse down on to all fours. The violence of the fall tore my underwear band the rest of the way so that the band was now completely detached from the rest of the underwear. And although I couldn’t turn around to look, it felt like there might now be some butt cleavage showing.

Meanwhile, a boy with purple hair from the group of criminals had broken off one of the Buick’s windshield wipers, and was using it to whip me across the buttocks as I helplessly crawled back to the car and into the driver’s seat. Several students lined up along the sidewalk had their phones held up and I could only assume they were videoing the whole event.

With a bit of difficulty, I managed to get the car door closed and then quickly drove away with agonizing back pain, two sobbing daughters and a pair of stinging butt cheeks.

After several video versions of the whole incident had been posted and viewed on YouTube, it was decided by my daughters, my wife and the principal that I would no longer be picking the kids up from school.

My oldest daughter, Hannah, has finally started talking to me again, and hopefully Natalie will follow.

I have decided that my level of coolness is what it is, and like nature, shouldn’t be messed with.

 

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

Single Family Asylum

 

Single Family Asylum Paperback World Premiere!

Thousands of anxious readers lined up outside book stores all across the globe in order to be one of the first to get their hands on the long awaited book release of Single Family Asylum. Police in several cities tried desperately to calm the frenzied book buyers by spraying them down with fire hoses and passing out Starbucks gift cards, but the crowds were relentless in their fervor for the new best-seller. . .

Well, maybe it didn’t happen quite like . . . . Ok, that didn’t happen at all. But don’t let that dissuade you from checking out this collection of ridiculous, funny, family-oriented stories for yourself. You are even free to start rioting in front of a book store if you are so inclined. If you would simply like to check out my new paper back online, here is the magical Amazon book link.

Single Family Asylum

Single Family Asylum is a collection of short, humorous stories about the imperfections of family members and family life that have appeared right here on this blog.

Buy the book! Buy 10 books! Tell your friends! Tell them you won’t ever talk to them again unless they buy the book.

Horse Freak.

To say that my daughter loves horses is an understatement similar to saying that I merely like bacon. She is a certified horse freak. Every Christmas and birthday list she has ever made had a horse listed as the number one item.

I hate having to decline her request to own a horse since she loves them so much, but our yard isn’t big enough for the horse, me, and large piles of manure. Not to mention, my wallet is not big enough for a horse and all its food and accessories. And on top of all that, I just know that it would be me that kept the beast from starving, or freezing to death, or getting the mange (or whatever it is that horses get).

Like I said though, I really hate that she can’t have a horse because she loves them so much. But I also really hate just telling her “no, you can’t have one.” You might even say I’m cowardly. So instead, I try to “creatively” discourage her desire for horse ownership . . . and I must say that I have failed miserably up to this point.

My first attempt was when she was quite young and had just discovered horses. Having only seen them on TV, books, or in parades, I figured I could end her relentless begging for one by telling her that many horses have been known to eat small children whole. . . . snatching them up in their dragon-like jaws, leaving only socks and shoes where a child once stood.

I thought that her wide-eyed look of horror was an indication that I had successfully ended the endless pleadings for a horse, but I was mistaken. I had obviously underestimated her determination and her level of gullibility. After a few discussions with less “creative” thinking adults over the following few weeks, confirmed to her that I may have been exaggerating a tiny bit with my cautionary tale of carnivorous horses.

During our next “I want a horse” argument, I tried to knock her off balance by telling her she could have one, but it would have to live in her room with her (a room that was barely large enough to house my daughter and her bed and dresser). She then looked up at me with no expression on her face and silently walked away.

I once again thought I had ended the horse debate by outsmarting her . . . until I went upstairs later that same night. She had not only cleaned her room, but had also managed to get a large pile of freshly picked grass and a large pan of water in preparation for the arrival of the horse. I was both annoyed and amazed at her resolve.

Feeling cornered by my own genius, I then had to resort to “researching” the local building codes, where I found that all houses that had livestock living on the second floor were required to have 48 inch wide stairs. Since our stairs were only 32 inches wide, we would have to wait until we could afford to widen the stairs. This seemed to be an acceptable, although disappointing answer to her.

The problem with most kids is they get smarter as they get older. And then they start rehashing in their little brains, everything you’ve ever told them. This was especially true with Natalie when it came to anything concerning the purchase of a horse due to my past track record.

We happened to be vacationing at Niagara Falls when she realized that the whole ‘horse in her room’ was just a diversion tactic and that I may have once again been exaggerating a bit about the building code requirements. This realization led to an impromptu horse argument as we all stood overlooking the falls.

Wanting to end the loud argument quickly, but also fearing that I would spend my afterlife being slowly roasted and pitchforked for using deception as a way end the horse debate, I decided to switch tactics. I told her that she could have a horse if she swam over the falls, and survived. Once again, she looked up at me with no expression and quietly walked away. I assumed her silence was due to her anger towards me, but at least there was silence.

Less than half an hour later, I was hailed by an angry park ranger who soundly chastised me for suggesting that my daughter should swim over the falls as payment for a horse. Apparently she had cornered him to inquire what type of accommodations the park provided for getting someone back up to the top of the observation area after swimming over the falls.

So now, after failing to dissuade my daughter’s horse ownership obsession by way of fear, exaggeration, deception, and ridiculous deal making, I am reduced to being that mean dad who just says “no” whenever the horse argument comes up (which is about every other week).

However, as atonement for my misguided and less than ethical attempts to discourage her horse freakness, we do now pay for her to take riding lessons which seems to be an acceptable compromise . . . . . for the time being.

A Horrific Tale About Writer’s Block.

The urge to write something epic was over-powering. I needed to create a piece that was unique, but still containing all the time tested components of a classic. I could feel the creative genius building inside me like a pile of leaves that had been ignited with too much gasoline.

A novel! I’d write a novel that would put Melville’s silly fish story to shame. . . . . No, that would take too long and I know from experience, that these bursts of creative energy only last a few hours, or until something catches my eye on TV.

Maybe a poem . . . no, that’s an even more ridiculous notion. I haven’t the slightest idea how to meter, and I think I might be rhyme deaf.

So, I decided that I should stop wasting time deciding what form of literature my writing would be and just start writing. I could always decide later if it was a novel, or poem, or short story. I would just let the spirit take me wherever it wanted.

I sat down at the computer with my cup of coffee. I made myself comfortable, and prepared to unleash the epic-ness . . . I cracked my knuckles in preparation for the flurry of typing . . . here we go.

But nothing was coming out.

The keyboard keys were not clacking.

I thought for sure that this much inspiration was surely the precursor to an earth-shaking subject matter. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I really had no ideas on deck. The desire to begin my masterpiece was unbearable, but there was nothing there!

I began to look around the room as if the dirty cereal bowl on the end table, or the floral print box of Kleenexes would suddenly jar a topic loose, but again, there was nothing.

I stood up and scratched my head. I looked out the window at the overgrown lawn, but all that came to mind was that the lawn mower blades needed sharpening. For a second, I pondered a novel about dull lawn mower blades, but it seemed to lack the potential for being the awesomeness that I was determined to create.

Picking up a women’s magazine from the coffee table, I began to leaf through it. I would write a story about . . . dish soap? No, that’s silly . . . how about “Sizzling Summer Fashion Ideas?” No, even the word fashion itself made me yawn . . . tampons? Good Lord, NO!

I simply had nothing to write about, and it was beginning to make me angry. I was getting angry at my brain. Stupid brain!

After another two hours of seeking ideas from magazines, two glasses of wine, watching the dog sleep, and both sides of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” album, I finally gave in to the fact that I had no idea what to write about, and all the ambition in the world was simply not going to change that fact.

In an act of desperation, I sat down and began writing about having writer’s block, the result of which you are reading now. It certainly isn’t the Pulitzer Prize winner that I was anticipating, but it did occupy me until a documentary about South African Crocodiles came on the television.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can get away with writing about having writer’s block more than once with any degree of success. I guess the next time I have writer’s block you will be stuck reading about a floral print box of Kleenexes.