Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pavlov's Middle Finger

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a native of New Jersey. What this means is, we drive with one hand on the wheel and the middle finger of the other hand extended out the window. We will give the middle finger for anything and everything. Someone cuts us off, bam. Someone honks at us, bam. Someone doesn’t move quickly enough when the light turns green, honk and then bam.

This is not to say we are discourteous drivers. We do have roadway etiquette, but we also have a punishment system built-in when someone violates said etiquette.

So it was yesterday, on my way home. I entered an intersection just as the light turned yellow. Unfortunately, this was a busy section of highway that had another controlled intersection about a thousand feet ahead, and that light was red, thus we were stopped dead. I was at the tail end of the line of traffic. To make matters worse, those who were turning right (to go the same direction as I was going) from the street to my right couldn’t go anywhere even though they had the green…because of this same traffic backup. When I finally did get the green, and could move, I allowed the beer truck at the front of that line to cut in front of me (it turns out it was a Budweiser truck…..had I known this, I would’ve given him the middle finger and not let him in).

Because I had not only stopped (thus holding up traffic) and further delayed things by allowing a truck to cut in, the driver behind me honked her horn. Much like Pavlov ringing a bell, causing his dogs to look for food, I immediately extended my right arm and flipped off the person behind me. It was only after doing this that I bothered to check my rear-view mirror to see to whom I had given the digital “Fuck You.”

It was a 60-ish year old grandmother-type in a mini-van.

Awesome. I just gave the middle finger to an old woman. Somebody’s grandmother.

Of course, I was the one trying to extend courtesy to another driver, so while I certainly inconvenienced this woman and her race to go to water aerobics (or wherever it is women of her age go), there was certainly no call for her to be rude to me. By giving her the middle finger, I was performing a public service.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kindergarten Wit

Every Wednesday, I work from home. Thus, I take the opportunity to go to Thing 2’s school and have lunch with her. I figure in about 6-7 years, she will pretend to not know me when we’re out in public together, so I should take advantage now of the fact that it’s easy to spend time with her each week.

Lunch doesn’t actually consist of lunch for me. Thing 2’s Kindergarten class eats at 10:30AM each day, which is WAY too early for lunch. So, I instead go up and help out the teaching assistant (who has to cover 3 different classes during that same period, and is happy for the help), by opening up the kids’ milk or juice containers, opening up bananas, making sure the kids are sitting and eating, not fighting, etc. I only know about half the kids’ names, so I break the remaining group into two categories: Those that are wearing Silly Bandz, and those that aren’t. The ones that are wearing them, I simply call them “Silly Band.” Those that aren’t, I simply pretend I don’t know their names.

There’s one girl who, I swear, every week when I see her she’s eating a corn dog. And while corn dogs are gross about 110% of the time, school cafeteria corn dogs are even worse. The hot dog inside is grey, and they cornmeal covering the dog is some weird color of brown. She greets me by waving the corn dog at me. I think if the English had waved these corn dogs towards the Viking invaders, the Vikings would have sailed on to more pleasant-looking shores.

As I have to check in at the office, I am given a visitor’s sticker. It has a gigantic V on the beginning of visitor. I about fell out of my seat last week when one kid (his name is Silly Band) asked me, “how come everyone’s name begins with a V?” Of course, I found out later this brilliant 5 year old was really playing me, and he probably asked that same question 2-3 times per day.

Then there’s the sweet little Indian girl who must have Alzheimer’s. Every week, she reminds me that A, she’s Hindi, B, she’s eating Hindi food, and C, she’s a vegetarian (this same girl has been seen eating chicken nuggets in the cafeteria….I think America is starting to reach its claws around this girl’s family). Her lunch always looks gross, but I smile pleasantly and tell her it looks good. She rarely eats all of it, because it looks gross. I swear she was eating a grass sandwich last week.

And then there was the little girl I was helping out this week. I was applauding the boy next to her for eating all of his lunch, calling him a member of the Clean Plate Club. This girl turns to me and says, “I know what a club is.” I got quiet, and was immediately wondering what she meant by a club. A weapon? A delicious sandwich that consists of turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, etc? And while I was thinking, she leaned towards me and said, “a place where the pretty ladies dance.”

Needless to say, Thing 2 will not be having any play dates with this girl anytime soon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Here's Your Sign.

Seen on Hilton Head (at a chotchkie shop selling novelty shot glasses, fridge magnets, mugs, and t-shirts), photographed with my crappy Blackberry phone.

On one shelf, commemorative Hilton Head baby onesies.

On the shelf just above, Zodiac-themed coffee mugs, but instead of pictures of the Zodiac signs, they have images of 12 couples doing 12 of what are probably my favorite sex positions.

So basically, the sex-themed mugs, and clothing for the byproduct of the sex.

I see no issue with the products, but putting them in the same aisle seems odd.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Future In Chicago Politics

Thing 2 is now in Kindergarten, and with that comes an inevitability......school fund raisers. In the past, the first two weeks of school meant the arrival of Sally Foster catalogs, which then involved Thing 1 calling every aunt, uncle, grandparent, close friend, etc, and begging them to buy wrapping paper, disgusting chocolates, kitschy notepads, etc (one friend of mine once bought 20 notepads from Thing 1 at $5 apiece....6 years later he still has several left).

Now that Thing 2 is in school, however, the school has abandoned Sally Foster as their main fundraiser (I guess everyone around here has more wrapping paper than they know what to do with) and switched to magazine subscriptions. They send home a booklet with 10 address cards. You fill out the name and address of close friends, relatives, etc and this company mails them out, playing on sympathy, telling your friends/relatives/etc that if they subscribe to these magazines, a certain amount of that money will go to Thing 2's school. We did not put down friends who live near us because they have the same fundraiser, and we omitted one of my brothers because he has 2 kids, and that will just incite him to include us on his kids' fundraisers, so we were ultimately left with a 6 of the 10 cards in the booklet filled out.

The next day, Thing 2 came home with the booklet and explained that the teacher wanted her to fill out all 10, and she couldn't turn it in until they were all done. See, Thing 2 doesn't realize there's no punishment for not turning it in, in Kindergarten being told they could not turn something in was akin to a failing grade. So, we were left to fill out the remaining cards with some creativity (it was then we realized there were 11 in our booklet....did they add one as punishment?). So we included a friend of mine, and his wife....who lives at the same address. My wife's uncle lives in the same house as her grandparents, who are already getting one, but what the hell, he needs mail too, right? And so on.

While coming up with names, Thing 2 looked up at us, and very seriously asked, "Can't we also put down the names and addresses of people we know that died?"

This of course brought images to mind of Mayor Richard J. Daley's campaign slogans such as "Vote early, vote often," and voters in his ward having a home address that happened to be the same address as a cemetery.

On the one hand, I admire her clever problem-solving ability. On the other hand, I'm more than a little frightened of her potential as an evil genius. I guess it remains to be seen which way she goes. We'll know for sure if, during a soccer game, I hear her tell her teammates, "he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. THAT'S the Chicago way."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Overheard at a Soccer Tournament

2 weeks ago, I took the U12 girls team which I coach to a tournament. The temperatures were in the mid-high 90's, my girls played ferociously (most of them hadn't practiced together until that very week), and we finished with a 1-1-1 record. Unfortunately, in our 4-team bracket, we were 3rd place. The 2nd place team (who walked away with 2nd place trophies) was also 1-1-1 (we tied them), but their win was by a higher score.

But what will make that weekend memorable for me were some of the things which I heard (or overheard) throughout the weekend:

1. "Dad, we were at the playground and we saw a guy carrying a gun," my daughter said to me. "What? Are you sure it was a gun? Any chance it was a cop?" I asked her. "No, he was dressed normal," she replied. At that point, one of my player's dad, who was standing nearby, said (in all seriousness), "Oh, you don't have to be a copy to carry, you can get a carry permit. I have one." Thus my biggest concern was not that my daughter thought she saw a guy carrying on a playground at a sports complex, but the dad of one of my players was defending it.

2. "Can you score on a corner kick?" Player 1 (on one team) asked Player 2 (who was on the other team). "Sure, haven't you ever seen Bend it like Beckham?" replied Player 2. What made this conversation amusing was that it was held between two opposing players (who were both Select players, not Rec) while on the field. It turned into a movie discussion group. And considering this was a Select game, you'd think the one girl would know that it was possible to score on a corner. Also, it's been a couple years since I've seen the movie, but the famous scenes in it involved penalty kicks, not corners, I thought.

3. "Dad, ball me!" This was said by a kid to his dad. The kid needed a ball with which to warm up. Dad had all the balls. So the boy asked his dad to perform a vital task at that moment: to ball him. Of course, channeling Beavis and Butthead the way I do, I had to hold in a laugh until I was ten feet away. And this reminds me, I need to teach my girls the meaning of the phrase "Dad, little help," as the always appropriate way to ask someone to kick a ball back to you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Strange Things Are Afoot at the Circle K

I have a Circle K near me. Or did…they were bought by some other fuel chain and renamed, but it’ll always be the Circle K (I feel sorry for anyone trying to find my house that is told to “turn left at the Circle K”).

One of the regular employees is a very nice, but very weird man with probable mental issues. He had brain surgery. I know this because every time I see him (about every month when I gas up there, or buy ice or propane), he manages to work into the conversation that he had brain surgery. Thus it was on Saturday morning when I went there to buy 2 bags of ice (for a soccer tournament in which I was coaching).

Me: Hi, I’d like 2 bags of ice.

Guy: Hummuna mumbla somethinga mumbla hummuna.

Me: Excuse me?

Guy: Hummuna mumbla somethinga mumbla hummuna.

Me: Umm…come again?

Guy: Hummuna mumbla somethinga mumbla hummuna.

Me: *Blank stare*

Guy: Oh, sorry! I was speaking Spanish and didn’t realize it. I do that every now and then, go back and forth between English and Spanish, on account of my brain surgery. I had brain surgery and I do things like that every now and then.

Me: *Uncomfortable smile*

Guy: So are you doing alright today?

Me: Uh…huhhh.

Guy: Good. That’ll be $5.08.

Me: *Hands crazy guy $20*

Guy: Alright, out of $20…hey, do you know what year Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue?

Me: What?

Guy: What year did Columbus sail the Ocean Blue?

Me: Uhhh…..Fourteen….Ninety…Two.

Guy: Very good! $14.92 is your change, here you go and have a great day!

Me: Thanks! *got the hell out of there quickly*

Here’s the really crazy part….when he was mumbling to me, I was absolutely positive he was NOT speaking Spanish. I know enough Spanish that I know when it’s being spoken around me, and he was not speaking Spanish. He was speaking some crazy language, like speaking in tongues. He almost sounded like Robert De Niro at the end of “Cape Fear,” when he was going under water and speaking in tongues.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Australian Over-The-Shoulder-Boulder-Holder

As anyone who's ever read more than 2 or 3 entries here knows, I can sometimes be a tad obsessed with vanity plates. This is primarily because I am an avid people watcher, and while seeing a person in the mall can often reveal nothing about their character, seeing their vanity plate reveals so much more. You might find that the driver has a keen sense of humor, or the driver lacks any creativity or originality, while others reveal the driver to be a flaming douchenozzle. And still others make you think, "I want to meet this driver just so I can find out why they chose this particular plate."

Such was the case on my way home from work on Wednesday night, and I was following this vehicle:

The question is not, "what kind of person is this," but rather, "WTF is an Oz Bra?" Is it a brassiere worn by an Australian woman? Is it a response to a question in Hawaii? "Where you want to surf next, bra?" "Oz, bra!"

Or perhaps it is a brassiere specially designed for Australia and all of its deadly flora and fauna. Imagine a bra that can repel green ants and redback spiders. Or a bra that creates a forcefield around the wearer that makes one impervious to the bites from taipans or death adders. Or a bra that drives box jellyfish from the shore, or can't be punctured by the teeth of a crocodile.

Maybe it's a specialty line of bras from Elle "The Body" MacPherson that hides aging lines. Or maybe something Phil Mickelson wears when he plays in the Australian golf open. Maybe an Oz Bra is what helped Nicole Kidman pretend to love Tom Cruise for several years.

As you can see, many a question has been generated by something so simple as a 5 letter vanity plate. He undoubtedly has people scratching their heads all the time. I personally would get a vanity plate, but I would crack under the pressure of trying to find something that would not make someone think I was an incredible feminine hygiene product.