Monday night I loaded the family into the car and we headed out to do some Christmas shopping. Sounds simple, right? Of course not. Readers who have children know this never starts nor ends in any way which is favorable. It is the law of nature. It is yin and yang. It is the balance of the universe which needs to be fulfilled and the reason Murphy went into making laws. At least one element of a simple and fulfilling task needs to get fubar-ed or a cataclysmic destruction of the thread of time will be take place.
We started by grabbing a bite since neither of the parents in the crowd did anything to prepare dinner that night. I suggested a little burger and gyro place that my wife had never been to before. We walked in, bathed in the ambiance of dingy wood paneling and tile floor with stained grout, and my wife asked the standard question, "So, what other women have you brought here?" It is sweet, really. She does not like going places where I took dates before. "Nope Honey, only Jim and I have been here before." She smiled, we ordered, we ate.
Why is it you always get gift ideas when you are in the store you never would have gotten at any other time. Is it because the bottom of the cart looks so far away and empty? Maybe the marketers have done their job well and drilled into our hypothalamus causing us to zombie around the store. Who knows. Either way, we bought crap, that is to say, heartfelt gifts for loved ones. I distracted the boys while the Mrs. got through the checkout and we headed home. Still good, no problems yet.
"What's that smell?" my wife asked as I cracked the window open a little. I'll admit it, it was me. Rather, it was my dinner. As I grow older, I am starting to develop little rules to follow which I hope will make living life easier. Here's the newest rule, never order the broasted chicken from a place that specializes in gyros. Expanding gasses were everywhere and I got the not so pleasurable experience of tasting my dinner all over again. As the culinary terrorism in my mouth and pants persisted, I became aware I had a long night ahead of me.
With the boys safely in bed, and the salvo of gas bombs having subsided, I briefly considered how I just took one for the team. I was bearing the cross for my family's night out. They relaxed and I payed for their sins. It is a father's duty after all, and part of being a father for me also meant performing husbandry duties. I saw my wife, her precious angelic face in the bedroom, as her eyes narrowed slightly, a signal that I should take my pants off already. My stomach glowered in disapproval of the sexual advance. I told it to hush, close its eyes, and it would be over soon. Daddy still loved his tum tum and would never leave it. Now time to saddle up and get messy.
So that was interesting. Details aside, my lovely wife was satisfied. So much so, in fact, I am pretty sure she thought when I woke her at 1:12 that morning, that I was going to ask for seconds. Not a chance. Instead I cooed in her ear, "Honey, I think I am going to throw up for a while." And off I went to the magical land of purge. The cool smooth surface of the porcelain, the moonlight through the window, hey tummy, remember me? I'm back for you, just like I promised. Let's do this.
5:30 arrived with much soreness and an under-scent of something rotting. Time to get up and get my family moving. Then I fell asleep. I woke again an hour later to the sight of my wife brushing her teeth. "Go back to sleep" she said. I told her I would at least get the boys to school then take the morning off. A half hour later I pulled myself downstairs in minimalist manager mode. Jim was ready for the bus, Peter was getting dressed, and my wife was ready to leave for work. Close enough.
Looking like the guy who invented crystal meth, I got Peter to Day Care, made one call to work, and headed home. A quick shout out to McDonalds for offering a gallon of sprite for $1.00 (+$0.07 tax). Clearly it is community outreach for the gastrointestinaly challenged. I climbed into bed and turned on Game Show Network, trying to recapture the magic of a sick day when I was a child. I long for those days when I was in grade school, staying home, and watching daytime TV with my mom. Back then it was the Price Is Right, Match Game, and of course, Bozo's Circus at noon. Today, in late 2011, I tuned into Match Game 74.
Why can't TV be fun like that again? Match Game had very small cash prizes, a simple set and relied on everyday people interacting with celebrities being silly, witty, and human. And in the middle of it all was Gene Rayburn, looking awkward with an "Aw Shucks" response to the more inappropriate potty humor. I watched three episodes in a row and the same woman won all three times. I even noticed a little mid seventies racism as this woman who kept winning hugged the white contestants she beat but only shook the hand of the black contestant she beat. By the way, Orson Bean was totally flirting with her too. At the end of the third, 36 year old, episode Richard Dawson told a joke with the finesse lacking in the performers of today. Lets see if I can paraphrase:
Gene Rayburn said Richard looked a little down and asked if everything was okay. He replied by mentioning something had happened to his wife's favorite cat, snowball. In a concerned tone, Gene Rayburn asked if something bad happened. Richard Dawson explained, "Well yesterday, my landscaper Charlie was cutting the grass when he smelled gasoline. So he stopped and saw the gas tank was leaking. We got a small tray and put it under the leak to keep it from killing the grass while he looked for something to patch the leak. Well, snowball smelled the gas and started drinking it. When I saw her doing that I yelled at her to get away and she was so scared she ran around the yard three times, then straight up a tree. Then she fell down, stiff as a board." Gene Rayburn sympathetically asked, "Aw, did she die?" Richard Dawson replied, "No, she just ran out of gas."