Monthly Archives: April 2014

“…It’s getting hot in hurrr”

“Hey, can you come out and play?”

I looked at the smiling 10 year old at my door.

“No, I can’t. And I don’t want to play with you.”

My mother heard me, “What? No..go out and play with your cousin. All you did all day was watch Sesame Street. Be active.”

I was not happy. I hated playing with my cousin. He was too rough and liked to see me cry. And besides, Bert and Ernie were having a fascinating discussion on the letter “B” and I didn’t want to miss it. I was only 6 and I was the perfect target for his constant bullying. Maybe today would be different.

I put on my shoes and ran outside.

“C’mon crybaby follow us…”

Nope…won’t be different.

I looked up at the my cousin and his friend. They were standing next to a bright red radio flyer wagon.

“Who’s is that?”

“It’s Brian’s…we stole it from his garage. Get in it crybaby.”

“No.” I began to walk back to my house.

“C’mon. Are you chicken?”

I stopped in my tracks. “No.”

“What? I can’t hear you….all I hear is chicken talk…bwock bwock.”

That was it. I turned around and sat in the red wagon.

“Go.”

And with a flash my cousin and his friend started to pull me down the street. It wasn’t so bad I thought, “they are pulling me around….they are doing all the work…haha.” But, that didn’t last long. I noticed them starting to jog while pulling me. It wa s getting a little bumpy.

“Slow down…..slow down.” But, they acted like they didn’t hear me.”

Faster and faster they went. I was holding on for dear life. Boom, the wagon hit the curb and out flew the 6 year old that was sitting in the wagon. I landed hard first on the concrete and ended up with a huge bloody gash on my right eye. I started to cry. I looked up and saw my cousin and friend run away to leave the scene of the crime. I dusted myself off and walked home.

“What did you do to your face?” My mom was furious. I told her the details.

“That’s it….don’t play with those boys anymore. And don’t you have school pictures tomorrow?  Great…that scar will look great in those pictures.” She stomped away from me. I heard a set of keys start to jangle from outside the door. My father was home. He would not be happy. My mother ran back towards the door, she wanted to do damage control. I walked to my room and closed the door. I put my ear to the door to eavesdrop. Muffled voices filled my ear.

“….they are boys…they play rough sometimes. I told him not to play with them anymore.”

“That boy is an asshole. You know that.” My father was heated. My mouth dropped when I heard the bad word. I sat down on my bed with while that one word lingered in my mind.

The next day, my cousin came over again.

“Hey….come out and play.” Here we go again.

“No.”

“C’mon. …are you a chicken? ”

“Yes. But you’re an asshole.”

His mouth dropped. And all I heard was my mom yelling.

“Who taught you that language?  Come here you are gonna get it? You want to use bad words? Fine, you want to talk all spicy? Then you must like jalapenos? Hot mouth gets to eat hot food.” She slammed a plate down on the table filled with spicy hot jalapenos. I was scared. I looked at my cousin still at the door. His face was motionless. But, he ran away a few seconds later to avoid seeing the jalapeno eating contest.

I stared at the plate and looked at my mom. She was smiling. This was weird. Why was she smiling?

“Don’t eat it. I’m proud of you. You have to stand up for yourself sometimes ok? I know you used a bad word. But, he deserved it.” She started to laugh. I joined her. She took the plate away.

“Now go and check to see what is happening on Sesame Street…” I hugged her and ran to the TV.

It’s a weird start,  but that’s how my love for spicy food began. There were times after that I really had to eat jalapenos for punishment,  but I didn’t care, because I found out that I loved them.

The Daily Post-Do you like spicy food?

“6 lbs 7 ounces”

“Sir….sir…hello sir?”

“Yes…sorry..yes?”

“Cut the umbilical cord please….please.”

“Oh ok, I don’t know…umm. What if I cut a toe off on accident? You guys have to tools to fix that right? Or do those grow back?”

“No…cut it now please.”

I did. And I watched this brand new human being crying her lungs out. She looked right at me and seemed to cry even louder as if to say:

“This guy is supposed to take care of me? Great….here’s to a future of therapy.”

Thr doctor took her away to give her her first bath. He turned to me and said, “congratulations on your baby girl. He handed me my little one. I received her and looked at my wife. I was smiling from ear to ear. She looked puzzled.

“Why are you holding her like that? You are holding her like a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven…” She grabbed the baby and showed me how to do it. I was nervous. I looked around the room…. there seemed to be blood everywhere.

“Hey Doc, why does it look like an episode of CSI in here?” He laughed and said, “pretty normal.”

It had been a long nine months. They were filled with weird food cravings, mood swings, and sexless nights. But, she was finally here. I was clueless. I looked at my wife and asked her to look at the baby.

“I see an instruction manual wasn’t included….I think we need to call customer service and request one.”

That’s my pride and joy. Watching her first steps, hearing her first words, and seeing her smile for the first time….those are memories I will never forget. She has changed our lives forever. I still can’t believe how lucky I am…

The Daily Post-Pride and Joy

“She accepted my friend request..so we are friends right? “

We take sides. We support our friends, no matter the situation. But sometimes, our mouths spit out checks we can’t cash.

I walked to my school locker not knowing what to expect. I looked around to see if anyone was watching. It was quiet….too quiet. I faced my locker and put in the combination….35 left….20 right….but just as I was going to put in the final number, I heard a familiar voice.

“Hey….turn around. I know you hear me…turn around.”

I knew this would happen.

I turned around and saw an angry female classmate, “What?”

“You better watch your back. I knew you couldn’t resist talking smack about me….just wait. Just wait.” She walked away and waved at me with a special particular one finger salute.

I took a deep breath. I was hoping to avoid that girl. I walked into class flustered. My best friend noticed.

“What’s wrong man?”

“You’re ex just fronted me at the lockers…told me to watch my back.”

“What? Serious? What she gonna do? Get her new man on you? I doubt it.

“I’m not sure why she is this mad at me…I mean you dated her for freakin sakes. Not me.”

“I know I know man. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to get you involved in this. But she hurt me man. I’m still pissed.”

“It’s cool man….that’s why I had to say something. She did you wrong. Her man won’t do anything. She’s all talk.”

“I understand you had to say something. But, to everyone? All that drama I told you. …her cheating on me…her mood swings…and that weird hair she had on her left nipple…you had to spread that?”

I felt a shadow on me and looked up to see my history teacher towering over me.

“Are you two done with your lovefest? Can I get to my lesson now or is there still some hugging out to do…” The class erupted in laughter.

“No, we are done. You may proceed with your fascinating talk about Napoleon or Neapolitan ice cream. I always get confused about the two. But I do like ice cream.”

Mr. Pavilon did not appreciate the joke. He laughed sarcastically and reached into his pocket. He placed a bright yellow slip on my desk. Detention. Great.

The day was a blur. I just wanted to go home and disappear into my room. But, I had that tiny yellow paper to deal with. The final bell rang and I headed to the detention room. I plopped down at the nearest desk to me and put my head down. Forty five minutes passed and I was dismissed. I checked my pager.

“7 unread messages….what?”

The pager read:

187.

That’s not good. I drove to my friend’s house but noticed more cars than usual. I looked and could not find any cars that I recognized. I parked my car and walked down the street but heard a familiar angry voice.

“What did I tell you this morning? Watch your back…”

I turned around and saw the angry classmate who yelled at me in front of my locker. But, this time she wasn’t alone. Five guys were behind her….each one wore white tank tops and boots.

“What is this? A boy band? Why are you all dressed the same?”

They did not appreciate the joke. And just like that I was on my back taking hits from everywhere. An eternity passed before they stopped.

“Run run…police.”

I looked up and felt blood running down my face. I saw the angry female but her face looked different. It wasn’t a face of happiness or content. She had a face of compassion. …like she felt badly for me.

I was helped up by an officer. I sat on a curb and laughed.

“Me and my big mouth.”

A car pulled up next to me. I heard four doors open and feet running.

“Whoa….whoa. What happened man? Who did this?”

I was surrounded by all my friends. They came 10 minutes too late. But I felt I deserved it.

That same female transferred from our school the next month and I never heard from her again. Until I received a notification on notification on Facebook last week.

You have received a friend request. I clicked on it and was angered.

“What? Is she serious? She had me beat up. Is this a joke?”

I looked at the profile pic…three kids playing at a playground. She was holding one of the kids in the picture.

“Last time she saw me, I was all bloodied up..yes that was 18 years ago but…still kinda ballsy on her part.”

I accepted the request. And received a message almost instantly.

It read:

“I’m sorry.”

I replied, “it’s ok….but whatever happened to your man and his boy band posse?”

“Lol…we broke up a week later…I wanted them to scare you…not jump you.”

“Well, they sre lucky cause I was just lying down to rest while they were hitting me…I was one second from getting all Bruce Lee on them.”

“I’m sure you were.”

Forgiveness can come late…but at least it comes at all.

The Daily Post-Forgive and Forget?

“Can I get a price check on Manliness please?:

I am a man. Now,  that means I have certain characteristics. My voice is pretty deep. Well, actually a nasaly-deep voice…sounds more like Kermit the frog than Barry White. And I have a protruding organ down there. But, I am lacking the stereotypical man-skills and sensitivities or emotions. I never spent afternoons working on the family car with my father. We never bonded over talking about chicks while fixing flat tires. He never sat down and explained the birds and the bees. So, when my wife turns to me and says:

“Hon, we need to rotate the tires and change my spark plugs..”

I would say..

“Oohhh…you want me to rotate your tires and pay more attention to your spark plugs..sounds kinky. Let’s try that tonight. Did you learn about that in Cosmopolitan magazine? I think I saw something about that while buying vegetables at the store…and give me a  hi-five, corn is in season.”

Sad, but true. I have no clue about cars or car-olive or car-omics. See? I don’t even know the word to describe knowing car stuff. But, it doesn’t end there.

I cannot fix anything. If something breaks in the house, my solutions is buying a new one.

“Hon, the pilot light is out.”

“Well, let’s buy a new one…they sell that at Target?”

“Hon, the faucet in the bathroom is leaking…”

“They sell that at Target?”

Every solution involves my wallet…and Target.

But what I lack in man-skills, I make up for in sensitivity and emotional connections. Need someone to watch that romantic comedy movie that your man won’t watch with you? I’ll go and supply the tissue. Your kid won’t eat Brussel sprouts? I can play spoon airplane with the best of them. Need help hosting a “Frozen” themed kids party? Count me in….cause seriously who didn’t shed a tear when Anna sang “Do you want to build a snowman?”

So if I had to learn any trade…it would be man-ology. Is that even a word?

The Daily Prompt-Want to learn a trade?

“Dude, it looks like cotton candy exploded in your hair..”

My pager went off. I grabbed my Ultra Express Motorola pager off the counter and looked at the tiny screen. It read:

11-123804-10

Didn’t make sense to the naked eye..but in 1995, that was pager code. So in my sixteen year old eyes it read:

“U ready?”

But I wasn’t. Shower done….deodorant…done…shaved…done. But my most precious asset had yet to be worked on, my hair. I looked into my medicine cabinet to grab the required tools to fix my masterpiece. I grabbed my hair pick and looked at my hair products. I classified my hair gel in the levels of hold. The stronger the gel, the better. I had two choices….Dep extra hold or Dep Ultra hold. I thought to myself, “its gonna be a long day….gotta be Ultra hold.” I noticed the his ultra hold gel was neon pink, but I didn’t pay it any mind. It had to be perfect because Melody was going to be there.

Melody was a girl I worked with at the local amusement park.

I remember the first time I saw her. I was frying chicken at my station and she walked in and said, “Whoa, you are sweaty.” Not a great first impression but I was going to get to know her. I didn’t want to be known as the “sweaty fried chicken guy.” She was so cute. She had dimples and her eyes seemed to sparkle whenever she smiled. But, she was so mysterious. I had to find out more about her. But, if I wanted to do that, I would have to approach her friend Grace. I cringed at that thought because she was annoying. Grace used a “baby voice” whenever she talked…smelled of stale cigarette smoke….and ridiculously hairy arms.

“Grace….Grace…..”

“Yes?” She walked up to me. She was still wearing her work jacket. I checked the thermostat…97 degrees.

“Dude aren’t you hot? It’s 97 degrees….you should take off your jacket.”

She laughed in her baby voice, “Its not too hot.” She rolled up her sleeves and I peered at her arms. The beads of sweat on her arm made her mounds of arm hair sparkle. I was grossed out. I looked back at her.

“I got tickets to the concert at Great America tonight….you and Melody should go.”

She agreed. I received a page that night.
1113-12-601176
“We  R Going”

I did not think Melody would go just to hang out with me….but I knew she loved the singers at this concert. And they were my favorite R&B group at the time. She called me 10 minutes before I was supposed to pick her up.

“Hey..you ready? I can’t believe we are going to see Shai. They are sooo dope. And Garfield is soooo cute.”

“Yeah, I love them. And he’s not that attractive. ” I was instantly jealous.

This was about me and her. Not Garfield, not her hairy armed friend Grace. I was not used to competition.

We sat in our seats and waited patiently for Shai to hit the stage. I turned to my friend who I brought to deflect Grace’s hairy advances.

“Man, doesn’t she look good?” He stared at my hair.

“Dude…your hair.”

“What?”

“Dude…it looks like cotton candy exploded in your hair. Its all dry and flaky..but clumpy and pink.”

I was mortified. I looked at Melody. She was staring at my hair too. I laughed nervously. The lights went down and Shai hit the stage.

Melody immediately set her eyes on Garfield. It was like he was singing to her. I could see her just hanging on every single note he sang. And it was like she went to that concert alone. She didn’t notice the clumpy pink cotton candy haired guy next to her. I watched Garfield and looked at my surroundings. Every single female here was in love with this guy. And now I wanted to be him. I could make a signing group right? I imagined myself on this stage with all these women falling for me.

I idolized Garfield because of his talents…and the way women wanted him. I wanted to be that guy on the stage. One big difference though…I couldn’t sing.

(After writing this I was curious about whatever happened to Shai….and it looks like they have a concert in LA on July 5 with a bunch of other r&b groups from the 90s. ) I wonder if Melody will be there….

The Daily Press-Who was your teenage idol?

“I travel because I want to eat stuff in different places”

My wife is a traveler. She has been everywhere. She loves the process of selecting the next family vacation. She does her research…prints out excel spreadsheets that are color-coordinated to highlight places of interest….calculates the pros and cons of each hotel in the area. And when shes done with said research she hands me the finished product. I take one look at that stack and thumb through it just to shown I’m interested…but I’m not. That’s not how I pick where to travel to. Sightseeing is great, but my eyes don’t make my decision….it’s my stomach. Where are the best places to eat? Can we eat stuff that we can’t eat around here? I don’t need color-coordinated excel spreadsheets to figure that out. Where do I want to eat?

1. New York
The statue of liberty. Yankee Stadium. Madison Square Garden. Times Square. All great stuff to see. But what about New York style pizza and hot dogs? I’m all for seeing these places and pizza and hot dog are easy foods to eat while on the go. So, the whole family wins.

2. Hawaii
Beautiful beaches. Volcanos. Water that is ACTUALLY blue and not greenish brown like we have out here. Hula dancers and dudes throwing fire and beating drums. All sweet, but what about spam? I love spam. Yes, its processed meat…yes, you really dont know what you are eating. But, it’s delicious and they have a lot of it there. I want to drink a neon blue drink while eating something spam-related on a beach while watching my little one build sand castles. Heaven.

3. Paris
Ok, I’m a bit softie for this place. The Eiffel tower. Museums galore. Historic places to see. There is stuff to eat here. And eating stuff in a different country is a plus. So food wouldn’t necessarily be the main draw for me here.

4. New Orleans
Mardi Gras? Nah….gumbo and beignets? Oh yes. So I will skip all the sparkly bead throwing and unnecessary flashing from random people and walk right over to the nearest place I can eat jambalaya. Well, maybe I won’t skip the unnecessary flashing. And maybe I would need to watch my wife a bit…cause she has no problem flashing her “cash and prizes.”

5. Anywhere in Texas
BBQ. Yes there are places to see. But all I want to see is stuff with BBQ sauce on it. I bet this place smells delicious. I can imagine waking up in the morning and taking a stroll down the street and having my nostrils treated to a beautiful mix of BBQ cooking and sweet brown sugary sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I think I gained weight just writing about all this food.

The Daily Press-The Wanderer

“I’m so mad….but let’s hug it out.”

“Bug…let’s put on your shoes.” I stared at the pile of kid’s shoes mixed with my wife’s shoes. This pile resembled a mountain…except parts of this “shoe mountain” were sparkly with heels.

I looked at my daughter. “For a woman who gets mad at me leaving my dirty socks everywhere,  she sure doesn’t notice the Mount Everest of shoes in the living room.”

She smiled at me and said, “Daddy, we have PE today….so I need to wear tennis shoes.”

I nodded, “Ok, here you go.” I handed them over to my daughter and she started to cry.

“Babe,  what’s wrong? Why the tears? You don’t want to wear these? But, these are your PE shoes..”

With tears in her eyes she said, “No Daddy, they are dirty…please no.”

I was confused. “Why? These are supposed to be dirty…it’s PE shoes.”

And the answer came, “Another kid laughed at me…and called me ‘dirty shoes.’

My heart sank. But I knew this day would come. I knew there would be a day where my child would feel the wrath of “the haves” and “the have notes.” I jumped up and ran to the sink. I started to scrub the shoes clean. Just a quick fix for this “boo boo.”

“Here honey, all better.” My little one’s face lit up. She hugged me and walked to the car. I smiled at her hiding my anger inside. I needed a way to prevent this from happening again. I hopped in the car and drove my little one to school.

We pulled up and noticed my little one’s friends standing by the playground. I looked at my kid, “Ok, baby. Let me walk you in.”

I noticed my little one walking hesitantly to the group of kindergarten girls next to the playground. I thought to myself, “Don’t know who made fun of my kid, but it’s obvious that she is in that group of girls because my kid was acting weird in front of them.” I looked at each kid’s shoes and got an idea.

I ran to my little one and tagged her. “You’re it!” She laughed and started to chase me. I let her tag me. I ran to the group of girls near the playground and tagged one. “You’re it!” The little girl was surprised but soon gave chase. I ran into the playground and right into a brand new mud puddle made by yesterday’s rain. I ran right through the puddle splashing water and mud. The little girl chasing me did the same. I let her tag me and ran after another girl in the group and followed the same path. And this girl ran through the same muddy puddle. I did this five more times. And now that same group of little girls had dirty and muddy shoes. I looked at my little one and she was smiling from ear to ear.

I thought to myself, “Mission accomplished. Now everyone has dirty shoes. …including me.”

I waved at my little one and drove to work. That night,  I was greeted by a very happy 5 year old.

“Daddy, that was funny.”

My wife was not as happy. “Have you seen her shoes? We have to clean these.” I grabbed them and walked to the sink. I started to chuckle. Right now, somewhere around this city, there are 5 other parents standing at the sink cleaning muddy shoes just like me.

That’s how I handle conflicts. I fix them any way I can, even if it means getting my shoes dirty.

The Daily Press-How Do You Handle Conflict?