Monthly Archives: October 2011

The TV Nut Didn’t Fall Far From the Tree

I love TV. Love it. A lot.

I know TV is a four-letter word for some parents and you’re not supposed to have one in the house or let them watch it until they’re 30, because some mom blogger somewhere read half of an article on the Internet that said someone somewhere had a toddler that watched TV once and automatically had his IQ drop 50 points and he just slumped over and started drooling on himself like Jeff the narcoleptic from The Wiggles. Because we all know Jake & the NeverLand Pirates collaborate with Phineas & Ferb to poison the minds of young kids everywhere.

Needless to say, despite “experts” telling me I’m putting Will in great peril by exposing him to the idiot box, I was raised with the TV on at all times and he’s going to be raised the same way. After all, I turned out fine right? RIGHT??

So yeah, we watch some TV. Movies too. And one of Will’s favorites just happens to be one of my own. So we watch it together occasionally. And by occasionally I mean a shitload. To the point he has started to memorize some of the lines and he and I can recite them together by heart. See if you can guess which movie we’re talking about.

Take careful notice of the umbrella at the end complete with stabbing motions while shouting “DIE! DIE! DIE!” Yup, that’s my boy and that’s some good parenting.

To be fair, TV taught me a lot. Sure I read a lot of books and those helped too, but TV did a lot for me. Mainly it turned me into a bar trivia wiz and exponentially increased my pop culture IQ. Who needs classic literature when you can name every character in Seinfeld and can quote 75% of the lines to each and every Family Guy episode? And yes, Will loves Family Guy. Mainly because that theme song at the beginning of each show is like kiddie crack. They love it.

But just to show you I’m not all about the boob tube, here’s a cute video of Will apple picking last weekend. Sure he was supposed to be putting them in the bag instead of eating them, but we had a good time nonetheless. Enjoy.

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Farter & Son

I’m in a parenting rut.

My commute is slightly shorter now, but I’m still driving a total of three hours a day and working full time. Will used to wake me up everyday at approximately 5:30 and I’d cuddle with him in the morning. But for some reason, ever since we moved he has been sleeping in. Which means he’s still slumbering away when I take off for work and I spend zero time with him. Then, after I get home, I have 90 minutes to eat dinner, give him a bath and then put him to bed.

He’s been acting out lately too. I get it though. After all, we pulled him from his house, his school and took away his pets. I think he’s rebelling a bit and rightly so. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with him and the frustration level on both sides has been high.

But I missed being in a groove and connecting with him. I felt like all I did was work, get home and then discipline him for acting out. Not fun.

It was looking like more of the same tonight after work. I got home, he was being a little shit and I had to send him upstairs. When he stopped crying, we talked and I let him come in my room as I changed out of my work clothes and into shorts. He was pouting and looking the other way, so I nudged him with my foot. He kind of half-grimaced, half-smiled and pushed me back. So I tickled him under his armpits. He giggled and pushed me away.

And then—as we stood staring at each other—he farted.

The look on his face was priceless. He laughed, but then clammed up because MJ reprimands him heartily when he farts or burps in front of her. Even though he desperately wanted to crack up, he was simultaneously petrified that he was in trouble. He just stood there, waiting for my reaction.

“William,” I said with an expressionless face. “I want you to listen to me and listen good, OK?”

“OK dada,” he whimpered, expecting the worst.

I walked over, looked him right in the eye—and let one rip.

I’m not sure what exactly it is about guys and our amusement with bodily functions, but the two of us laughed like hell. Seriously. I don’t remember ever laughing so hard, and Will could barely breathe with all of his belly laughs. For a good two minutes we just cracked ourselves up over and over again. We had just about stopped when Will told me to be quiet, scrunched up his face and farted again. Which started another round of irrepressible laughter.

Then he wrapped his arms around my neck and said “I love you Dada.” And just like that I was out of my rut and back in the groove.

Behold the power of flatulence.

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All Roads Lead Home

Moving back in with your parents at the age of 32 with a wife and kid in tow is fairly unsettling. Second only, I’m sure, to being said parents and having your house unexpectedly invaded by two adults, a child, a pesky golden retriever and a fish. Sure enough, it’s taken some getting used to on both sides.

And while I can only speak for myself, I have to admit: it’s not so bad.

This is my hometown and this house will always be home to me. It’s where I spent my youth. It’s where I went to school. It’s where MJ grew up too. I live 3 miles from my old elementary school and just a few more from the school at which MJ and I first met in the sixth grade more than two decades ago. When we got engaged we drove to the school parking lot, put on our song and danced in the falling snow.

My grandmother’s house is in this town on the reservoir where I caught frogs. I can name at least one family who lives on every street. I know all the restaurants, including Downtown Pizza, the place that kept me alive throughout my formative years with delivery trucks that automatically shot towards my house when you put them in gear. I know the best places to go for a walk, I know where the cops set up speed traps and I can drive the roads with my eyes closed.

My dad graduated from Norton High School, as did his father before him. I’m not lying or exaggerating when I tell you half of the teachers I had in high school also taught my parents. My parents met in middle school and were dating halfway through high school. Three years after graduation they were married. And while they’ve lived in several homes over the years, all of them have been in Norton.

My mom is involved with the church because my grandmother was the choir director until her death in 1996. My mom also drove the school bus. My dad has been a selectmen in town twice, a finance committee member and currently serves as the Town Moderator. He also writes a column for the local daily newspaper. High school sweethearts? Check. Lifelong residents? Check. Total townies? Big time check.

All of this to say that for a creature of convenience like myself, this kind of familiarity is extremely comforting.

I’m a traditionalist at heart. And the older I get the clearer that becomes. So I’d be lying if I said the thought of Will spending time in the same town and house I grew up in didn’t please me in some small way. So far I’ve taken him to one of my favorite ponds, showed him my grandmother’s old house and walked on the field on which I learned to play baseball.

I even took him to the cemetery where my two grandmothers, grandfathers and two aunts are buried. Which sounds a little morbid, but really isn’t at all. He may not have met all of them, but he’ll hear stories about them and learn from them nonetheless. It’s important to teach kids to pay their respects.

Every kid grows up trying to escape their hometown and I was no different. I swore I’d get out and never come back, at least not for good. But the more places I visited, the more I saw my hometown wasn’t so bad. And then I slowly realized it wasn’t just “not bad,” it was pretty damn good. Finally I became a parent and realized it’s a helluva place to raise a kid.

Hometowns have a way of calling you back. They’re magnetic in more ways than one, and you can’t underestimate the strength of roots that are dug in deep.

In a few months we’ll move out and have a new place of our own. But in the meantime, I’m listening to the call of my hometown and enjoying what it has to offer. Will loves being with his grandparents (while simultaneously missing his Nana and Grandpa B back on Cape Cod, the one big downside to all of this) and I think he’ll really benefit from getting to spend so much quality time with them. And I get to heed a timeless call, raising my son in the same place I was raised. Fostering an appreciation for a town that will always be special because it will always be home.

Welcome home kid.

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The 9 Most Annoying Sports Fans

You’ve seen them. You’ve heard them. You’ve put up with them. Maybe you are one and don’t even realize it. But whatever the case, annoying fans at live sporting events are the worst!

I don’t say this lightly or without a wealth of experience, and my credentials are beyond reproach.

My father has had New England Patriots season tickets for 39 years, which means I’ve been going to games practically my whole life. I used to go to eight home games a year, until tickets got too expensive. So now I go to a minimum of four games a year. Until this year, my dad also had Boston Celtics season tickets as well, so I have experience at the Garden. Throw in hundreds of Red Sox games and a sprinkling of Bruins games throughout the years, and I’ve pretty much seen it all. The good, the bad and the REALLY obnoxious.

To the untrained eye or the live sporting event rookies, it might not seem like there’s much to know when going to a game. Sit, watch, clap and that’s it right? Wrong. There is a subtle art to being a truly great fan. Which is probably why there are so few great fans out there. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of ass clowns ruining it for the rest of us.

So without further ado, I give you the 9 Most Annoying Sports Fans.

1. THE CELL PHONE TALKER

I hate this person. With a passion. Not only that, I don’t understand him/her. You pay all that money for a ticket, get drunk on $8 beers and instead of watching the game you decide to jump on your cell phone, call your friends and wave every time you’re on camera. Idiot. For the record, the only acceptable time to use your cell phone is during halftime or in between quarters. Even then you’re only allowed to text or check your fantasy team. No conversations. Ever. Because even if they’re not on camera they’re talking on the cell phone and ruining the game for you. My question is, why are they always talking about something uber-personal and inappropriate?

“So I went to the doctor…yeah, I got the results…CHLAMYDIA! Can you believe that shit? No I didn’t wear a rubber…you know I hate how it feels.”

 

2. THE JUMBO-TRON WHORES
A close cousin of the Cell Phone Talker, these people are equally annoying. While real fans are there to watch their team win, the JTWs are only there to watch themselves on the stadium big screen. You’ll recognize the JTWs easily because they’re either dressed in wacky clothing sure to catch the cameraman’s eye, or they’re dancing. Yup, dancing. During every timeout and break, they launch themselves out of their seats and dance wildly. If they succeed and see themselves on the Jumbo-Tron, the shrieks and screams are deafening. They get 4 seconds of glory and then it’s either back to the beer stand or leave in the third quarter to beat traffic. Either way, they need to be exterminated.

 

3. SIGN HOLDERS
I swear these idiots always manage to sit in front of me. They bring in a homemade sign that they think is really witty and/or charming, but no one else sees it that way. Normally it’s something to suck up to the network the game is on, like:

Another
Brady
Championship

So just like the Jumbo-Tron Whores, they stand up at inopportune times during the game and hold up the sign, which blocks the view of the poor people behind them. Rule of thumb: don’t bring a sign to a game. Ever. It won’t be funny, you probably won’t get on TV and you’re going to piss me off to the point that I verbally berate you to the point of tears. Now here’s your sign!

4. THE UP & DOWNERS
Sometimes it feels like all 68,000 people in Gillette Stadium are sitting in my row. Why, you ask? Because they are CONSTANTLY sitting down and then leaving their seat. They sit down then they need some food. They sit down then they need a beer. They sit down and drink their beer and then they have to pee. And pee again. And again. Meanwhile the entire row has to stand up and let them pass each time like we’re in an 80s aerobics class.

That wouldn’t be so bad except they give no thought to the timing of their arrivals and departures. Instead of using some common sense and waiting until a timeout or even in between plays, they decide to inconvenience everyone at the worst possible times. A huge third down in the fourth quarter of a one-score game, the crowd working itself into a frenzy, the center about to hike the ball and then—some douchebag causes the entire row to stand and you end up missing some of the play while simultaneously pissing off everyone behind you.

Stay in your seats or use some common sense, morons!

 

5. THE STATISTICIAN
This guy is a real piece of work.

You can spot him even before he speaks, because he looks like he’s spent the week in his mom’s basement memorizing statistics in order to show off at the game. Even though you’ve made no overture of friendship towards this person, he will seek you out and give you stats you don’t care about and don’t want after every play.

For instance, if I cheer on Tom Brady for a great throw he has to add his two cents by saying “Did you know Brady is completing 67.9% of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 109.5?” Yes, as a matter of fact I did know that. But unlike you, I don’t feel the need to validate my existence with near useless statistical analysis that no one wants to hear about in the heat of a game!

 

6. THE “STAND UP” GUY
Usually it’s good to be a stand up guy. But this guy is not good. Not good at all.

This idiot—usually heavily intoxicated—is convinced that the only way to be a true fan is to stand up at all times to cheer on the team. And he feels it is his mission in life to shout “STAND THE FUCK UP, GET ON YOUR FEET, STAND UP YOU PUSSIES!” in order to fire up the crowd. But what he doesn’t realize is the crowd wants to put him in front of a firing squad.

This jerkoff doesn’t realize that standing and cheering at a game is completely dependent on the action and the situation. In a regular season game, it’s fine to sit except for big moments and huge third downs on defense. I still yell and cheer while I’m sitting, and I know when to stand and when not to. Fans also pay hundreds of dollars for the seat, so why not use it?

 

7. THE ANNOYING HOUSEWIFE/GIRLFRIEND
Call me a sexist if you want to. I don’t care, because this one is very, very true.

Usually this occurs when the only way guys can buy season tickets is if they promise to bring their wives/girlfriends with them to the games. Even though said women have ZERO football knowledge. Needless to say, when they get to the game they become Cell Phone Talkers, Jumbo-Tron Whores and Up & Downers. They’re interested in everything BUT the game. If they do pay attention for a few minutes, they shout idiotic things like “GET A TOUCHDOWN BRADY!” or “WES WELKER IS SO LITTLE AND CUTE!”

The worst is when they talk to each other about their sex lives, their impending purchases and what they wore to their high school reunions. I’ve never seriously considered violence towards women before, but when these hens are clucking in my ear for three hours, I’m seeing red.

 

8. THE WAY TOO DRUNK GUY
Everyone knows this guy. And has probably been this guy at some point (myself included) so I do allow for a little leeway here.

It’s a football game, so drinking is a good thing. Hell, being a little drunk is a plus in my opinion. But if you’ve had a 12-pack out in the parking lot and then a fifth of Jack on the walk to the stadium, you’re going to be a mess. These are the guys who can’t stand up straight so they’re teetering and falling on people during the game. And since they’re drunk they’re loud. Any drunk will tell you the louder they get the funnier they are, and so you have a really drunk guy screaming either inappropriate or unintelligible things. He’s laughing, but we aren’t.

At best he’s a nuisance, at worst he vomits on you. Either way you’re not coming out a winner.

 

9. THE BEACH BALL/WAVE PEOPLE
No beach balls and no wave. Ever.

If you pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket and feel that the best athletes in the world playing at the highest level imaginable is second to batting around an inflatable beach ball, do yourself a favor and just put a gun to your head. Or if that’s too extreme, don’t come to the game. Because we don’t want you. Or your damn beach ball.

Same goes for The Wave. Seriously, it’s not 1987 anymore. The Wave wasn’t even that cool then, and it’s even less so now. I’ve seen people at Fenway Park do the wave in the 8th inning of a one-run game during a pennant race. It makes me sad that people are that idiotic, and it besmirches the name of true Boston sports fans everywhere.

That’s why whenever I get my hands on a beach ball, I pop it. Sometimes the idiots boo me but I don’t care, because the real fans thank me or give me an approving nod for righting an obvious sports wrong.

I have my dad to thank for this because he taught me right. From the time I was little he physically restrained me during the Wave. I didn’t understand it then, but I thank him for it now. To think I could’ve been one of those obnoxious douchebags…I shudder at the thought.

The point is, watch the fucking game. It’s what you’re there for!

 

If you’re wondering what makes for a great sports fan, here it is:

Be intelligent about the game but not a stat snob. Be happy drunk and not shitfaced. Go to the people around you for high-fives and create good vibes. Sit down except for big plays. If you’re going to yell out taunts to the opposing team, time them right for maximum effect. Talk about the game and nothing else, unless it’s halftime. No beach balls and no Wave, you’re there to watch the game. Ditto with signs. The cell phone should stay in your pocket.

So, did I miss any?

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The Mother of All Hoarders

So we moved in with my parents.

Maybe I’d feel more like a failure for writing that last sentence if my parents weren’t a thousand shades of awesome. Honestly. I’m not just saying that because they’re my new landlords roommates. I’m basically a younger, better looking, more talented version of my father so living with him is like living with a slightly less cooler version of myself. And since I know I’m awesome, that’s pretty great. And my mom is just about the most loving, caring, compassionate person I know. They love us, they love Will and I think this will be a great few months while we save up first, last and security to find a new place of our own.

But…

Of course there’s a but. You can’t suddenly move back in with your parents after more than a decade and not have a but or two.

I’m sure you’ve all seen or heard of A&E’s TV show Hoarders. People who feel the need to collect everything in their homes and never, EVER throw anything away. Now before I go any further, I want to say I understand this is a serious condition. Also, my mom is not a hoarder. Well, she’s not a full-fledged hoarder. I guess you could say she hoards as a hobby.

Exhibit A is the picture to the right. Those are nutcrackers on top of the piano. Hundreds of them. Those creepy bastards freak me right the fuck out. I’d love to get rid of even half of them but my mom isn’t having it.

And my new sister-in-law Melissa can tell you about Exhibit B. It was last Thanksgiving and she was cooking something that needed nutmeg. My mom—who is a good cook but doesn’t cook often—pointed her towards the spice rack and all was well. Or so we thought.

I’ll never forget the look on Melissa’s face as she told us the nutmeg might be a little out of date. How out of date you ask? The expiration was October…1981!!

But with three of us moving in with all of our stuff, the real problem is in the basement. My friends can tell you the horror stories about the basement. We cleaned it out about 15 years ago. It took a dozen people a full weekend and we filled up two industrial sized dumpsters. There was that much crap down there. But the hard part isn’t the work itself, its the differing manners in which the members of my family feel it should be dealt with.

My dad and I are eager to clean it out. And just so we’re clear, our version of “clean it out” translates into “throw EVERYTHING away.” But the mere thought of filling up a dumpster with bags of stuff that have been collecting dust for 20 years is just too much to bear for my mom.

Fifteen years ago it was hell. Each person who came up the stairs with a bag of trash had to let my mom inspect it before it was thrown away. And what looked like a bag of shit to me was anything but to my mom. She somehow found sentimental meaning in every single piece of crap we lugged out of that basement. That was my first backpack on my first day of school, that’s the blanket my brother threw up on in first grade, that’s my first-grade report card. My poor mother was in tears trying to catch everything while we attempted to find ways to sneak it past her so we could finish the job.

Fast forward 15 years and not much had changed. The basement is still a mess, my dad and I still want to throw everything away and my mom wants to hold onto everything. Case in point:

I saw an old headboard that doesn’t fit on any bed, so I had the crazy notion it was trash. Not so said my mom. When I asked her why she would possibly want to keep it, she inexplicably started crying and said “Don’t you realize there are children with no place to sleep??” I not-so-calmly pointed out that it was a headboard, not a bed, and the children would be mighty uncomfortable sleeping on it.

Then we found some really old textbooks and I went to throw those out. But my mom’s Spidey senses started tingling and she came over to stop me in my tracks. When I told her they were headed for the trash bin, she turned on the tears again.

“Why not donate them to a library? You should never throw away a book!”

These books were more than 10 years old. One was a marketing book which referred to the Internet as “an upcoming and exciting technological advancement.” They eventually got thrown out, but not without some hurt feelings. And of course, more tears.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s tears over a headboard and antiquated textbooks. Not a good start.

But the kicker was my mom’s “donation pile.” She had us put a bunch of things in a pile at the end of the driveway. An old kitchen table, chairs, a desk, two bags of clothes and some other odds and ends. First my mom said the Boys & Girls Club was coming to get it. Then, halfway through Sunday, that was switched to the Epilepsy Foundation. My father expressed his concern that my mom hadn’t properly checked with them to make sure they would take everything, and we’d end up with a pile of shit that sits there for months. My mom said she had it taken care of. They were due to pick everything up Monday, and for all of our sanity I hoped it would go smoothly because my parents fight and bicker like—well, an old married couple.

When I got home from work it was still there. Or so we thought. Upon closer inspection, they actually did come. But they only took two bags of clothes and, just as my dad said, left the rest. A spirited discussion ensued. My dad saying he was right, my mom refusing to admit she was wrong and me feeling like nothing has changed since I was a kid.

In a weird way, it was the perfect welcome home.

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