Tag Archives: stories

Scaring My Son on Halloween

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday.

Screams, scares and Snickers bars. Ghost, ghouls and GOBS of candy. People allowing their imaginations to run free with creative costume ideas, and women everywhere unleashing their inner slooze in the form of slutty cops, slutty beer wenches and slutty nurses.

Let’s face it, any holiday that simultaneously promotes the consumption of sweets, barely clothed women and riles up religious fundamentalists is my sweet spot.

But I digress…

Having Will just ratcheted up my love of Halloween even more. So far he’s been a devil, a monkey, a dinosaur and Spiderman. This year he’s going as Wolverine. But the coolest thing is he REALLY likes to be scared. We’ve taken great pains to explain what’s real and what’s made up, so he’s got a solid handle on separating reality from fiction. We probably let him watch a few movies most parents wouldn’t, but he takes it in stride and if it’s ever too much we just shut it off. No harm no foul.

But some things happen that are just out of our control.

I was down in the basement letting the dog out when I saw Will not-so-stealthily sneaking down the stairs in an effort to scare me. As I spotted him, he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks with a worried look on his face. He was looking past me, clearly troubled by something he saw behind me. I wheeled around quickly but there was nothing there. I asked him what was wrong and he told me one of the basement lights went on and off.

“Dada, the light just went on and off really quick. Why did the light do that?”

Glancing around at the Halloween decorations and knowing that we have had many discussions about what’s real and what isn’t, I decided to have a little good-natured Halloween fun with him.

“Well bud, I think you’re old enough to know the truth. You see, ghosts don’t like the light. So when they get really bothered by bright lights, they touch the light bulb to make it go out.”

I know what you’re thinking, but I swear on his life he knew I was kidding. He even started to smirk with that “you’re pulling my leg” look on his face. Everything would’ve been fine except –

At that exact moment, the light bulb made an audible buzzing sound and then went completely out.

Before I could turn to him and explain it was just a coincidence, it was too late. My poor son turned pale white, got the most scared-shitless look on his face I’ve ever seen, and flew up the stairs shouting “OH MY GOD THE GHOSTS ARE REAL! THE GHOSTS ARE REAL!!!!”

Happy Halloween.

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A ConTEXTual Misunderstanding

My wife and I are different in almost every single way.

Seriously. I’m not just blowing smoke or trotting out tired cliches for the hell of it. We’re polar opposites. I’m a hard news guy, she gets her news from Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight. I like country music and Irish tunes, she’d rather listen to Nickelback and Creed. We take separate vacations because she needs to go someplace sunny, warm and near the ocean, but I melt and become miserable after 5 minutes on the sand.

But the biggest difference between us is the general, fundamental way our minds operate. In short, I’m a sane person with a logical thought process while I can only imagine MJ’s head contains juggling bears on unicycles with circus music blaring.

Which brings us to the latest drama in the Daddy Files household. I was having a shitty day and MJ and I were trading texts. Well, instead of influencing your opinion one way or the other, I’ll let you see the texts for yourself and then you can pick a side.

 

OK, there it is. Exactly as it happened. One minute we’re talking about having a bad day, and the next thing you know I have a completely random text that says “We have another one coming.” Now I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, if you were me and had received that text, what would you think that meant?

I thought we were having another baby!!!!

I called MJ up all excited — albeit slightly annoyed she chose to tell me such monumental news via text message — and ready to celebrate as this is something we’ve been trying for for a long time. So imagine my surprise when MJ seemed not to have any idea what the hell I was talking about. Incredulous, I read her back the text she had sent to me. And that’s when she uttered the most nonsensical thing I’ve ever heard.

“I’m not pregnant. I was talking about Will’s birthday party. Another one of his friends RSVPed and we have one more coming.”

I love MJ. To death. But HOW THE HELL WOULD ANY SANE PERSON FIGURE THAT OUT?!?! My wife doesn’t seem to comprehend the fact that thinking something in her own head does not give others the ability to telepathically see what she’s thinking. So when she up and changes the subject in mid-conversation (thanks ADD!), she believes that everyone else has jumped ship with her. I, on the other hand, engage in normal, human conversations that proceed logically from one point to the next.

Needless to say, our marital conversations are a real treat for anyone witnessing them.

Later that night I learned this phenomenon isn’t just relegated to me and MJ. I related the story to my parents expecting both of them to understand and commiserate with me. So I told the story, but when I got to the “We have one more coming” comment, something interesting happened.

My father’s eyes immediately went wide and he said “ARE YOU PREGNANT???” But that was followed by my mother who inexplicably said “No you idiot, obviously she meant someone else is coming to Will’s birthday party!”

My dad and I looked at our wives, bewildered. Despite the fact that MJ’s text to me contained no context clues at all, they both believe it was perfectly clear what she was talking about. My dad and I went point by logical point through the argument of why nothing they were saying made a bit of sense, but it didn’t matter. Apparently women speak a dialect of crazy in which men like myself will never be fluent.

Which is probably a good thing, because if I ever operated on that plane of illogical lunacy, my head would explode.

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The Difference Between Moms & Dads

I’ve been married for six years now, which means I’m extraordinarily familiar with my wife’s vocal intonations. I can tell when she’s happy, sad, anxious, jealous, nervous, annoyed, and — most of all — pissed. So when the phone rang last week on my way home from work, it only took a few words to figure out she was FURIOUS!

“Your son got in trouble at preschool today,” she began (notice for some reason Will is always MY son when he’s in trouble). “You’re gonna be so angry when you hear this.”

“Oh boy,” I said as I imagined the worst. “How bad is it? What’d he do?”

“His teacher said he and his friends were playing superheroes and Transformers, and they were PLAY-FIGHTING!! They kept pretending to fight and hit each other right in the classroom!”

The silence that followed on my end of the conversation wasn’t meant for effect, I was simply waiting for MJ to finish the rest of the story. Because I assumed there would have to be more than that to warrant such contempt on her part.

“OK. Well, did he actually hit anyone?”

“No.”

“So he was playing superheroes with friends, no one hit anybody else, and he’s in trouble? Am I missing something?”

A “spirited” discussion took place from that point on, and the only thing that came out of it was the understanding that moms and dads view some things very, very differently. MJ was mad because she doesn’t want Will to fight, play fight, or mimic fighting in any way, shape or form. She just thinks it’s bad form and she plans on disciplining Will any time he engages in it. And to be fair, she’s not alone. I talked to several other parents and the moms largely agreed with her.

The dads on the other hand…

Sorry, but I don’t see anything wrong with what happened. Will clearly knows the difference between real and pretend. He knows full well that if he actually hits someone as a result of anything other than self-defense, it’s wrong and he’d be in some serious trouble. But he didn’t hit anyone. Simply put, I don’t think he did anything wrong.

I know it’s cliche, but boys will be boys. It’s too bad that’s become a bad thing over the years, but I still think it’s true. I let Will watch Spiderman, Batman, Superman and Transformers. Are there fights in them? Yup. Do I think that’s inappropriate for a 4-year-old? Not at all. Because I explain what’s appropriate and what isn’t, what’s real and what’s fake. And Will understands that. When he’s around his friends, they have sword fights and shoot Spiderman webs at each other. They aren’t malicious and they have good-natured fun.

But apparently that’s been deemed inherently evil by the powers that be. Because while boys are readily encouraged to play pretend in the kitchen and even put on dresses (which I’m also in favor of by the way), they’re not allowed anything that could even remotely resemble even the possible potential appearance of something so…violent. Oh the horror of pretend superhero play!!

Now he’s so upset from his teachers and MJ getting on him, he’s scared of playing superheroes at all. Worse than that, he rats out the perfectly normal boys who try to get him to play because he’s been told how bad it is. Basically they turned my son into a sissy narc, which is so sad to me. And completely unnecessary.

To be fair, when I got some more information from the school I found out Will ignored the teacher when she asked him to stop play fighting. And that is not acceptable. He knows he has to listen to adults and especially his teachers. And he was punished for that. But I couldn’t punish him for play fighting. Not a chance. He’s a normal kid and that’s normal kid behavior. It’s not destructive or malevolent, and it shouldn’t be a punishable offense.

I love moms and I love my wife. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. But I truly believe in my heart she’s wrong, the teacher is wrong and the school is wrong. They’re little boys and this is how boys play. I’m not sure why it’s discouraged when, in fact, it should be celebrated.

So I told Will it’s OK to do with his friends outside of school, but when he’s in school it’s not allowed. Obviously his first question was “Why?”

I wish I knew kid. I wish I knew.

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Losing Weight One Slap at a Time

 

It all started with some stairs.

I work on the third floor of an office building but I often have to go to the first floor to drop things off. One day a couple of months ago I walked down and then back up, but I heard this sound that startled me. I happened to be walking past the copier and thought it was having mechanical problems, but it was off. And that’s when I realized — in a fit of horror — what was making the noise.

It was me. And I was wheezing from being out of breath. Like a full-on, Fatty McGee wheeze.

I’ve always been on the heavy side. Three years ago I freaked out when I stepped on the scale and saw I weighed 246 lbs. So I talked to a few of my fat guy friends and we decided to do something about it. We each put down $100 and had ourselves a weight loss challenge. My friend Alex lost 70-some odd pounds and I shed more than 30 myself. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to maintain my weight because Will was born and there just didn’t seem to be enough time to go to the gym when new dad duties were calling.

So it was no surprise to me that I put on weight. I grew out of my large shirts and moved into the “XL” territory. You should know MJ buys all my clothes and therefore I don’t even know what size I am. I noticed my x-large clothes started feeling tight, but suddenly I had new clothes and they fit so much better. I naively thought maybe I had miraculously shed a few pounds without working out or changing my ABYSMAL eating habits. So imagine my shock when I looked at the tag and saw the “XXL” staring me in the face.

I won’t lie, that shook me. And it forced me to find an answer to a question I had been dreading for months and months. How much did I weigh? I hadn’t had the guts to get on a scale, but at this point I was beginning to get concerned for my health. I was in XXL clothes, couldn’t walk up stairs without requiring oxygen and could barely play with my own son for more than a couple minutes at a time. So I sucked it up and stepped on the scale to see…

281 lbs.

If other people hadn’t been around at the time, I probably would’ve cried. Two hundred and eighty-one fucking pounds. I was disgusted, embarrassed and horrified. But more importantly, I was ANGRY. The anger is important because that’s what motivates me. I know I should want to lose weight for myself, for my family, to live longer and be a good role model — but that’s not gonna cut it. Horrible, I know. But it’s the truth.

Anger motivates me. So does competition. Knowing that, I contacted my friends Alex and Dave — two of my heavier friends — to see if they wanted to make some changes. They did. Suddenly emails were flying back and forth as we tried to come up with terms for a bet. This time, instead of money, we borrowed from the popular TV show “How I Met Your Mother” in which the characters on the show settle their friendly bets in a rather unorthodox way — the Slap Bet.

And that’s how FatSlap was born. Here are the rules:

We all weigh in on our own scales. You must use the same scale throughout the duration of the contest. The weight loss is measured by percentage. This is important since I’m actually the lightest guy, so it makes things a little more fair. Alex and I started the competition early at the beginning of January. Dave is going to join in starting Super Bowl weekend.

We have monthly weigh-ins and at each weigh-in, there will be slaps. The guy who has lost the most weight gets to open-hand slap the other two in the face. The second place finisher gets to slap the guy in third. Which means whoever finishes last will get slapped twice. Oh, and did I mention all of it will be on camera for people to enjoy on YouTube?

This will go on until the end of May. At the last weigh-in, slaps will still take place as usual. But as a bonus, the winner will get to have two “anytime” slaps. That means the winner will be able to slap the other two at any point with no restrictions. For example, if Alex wins and decides to wait until Will gets married and I’m making a speech at the wedding to smack me in front of everyone, then so be it.

Like I said, anger motivates me. OK, and fear as well. That’s why the mere thought of losing $100 in a bet won’t get me going. But lemme tell ya, the thought of my two huge friends with brute strength slapping the ever-lovin’ shit out of me multiple times gets my ass out of bed to run at 5 a.m.

And yes, I’ve been running. I was at 281 lbs and now I’m at 263. That’s 18 lbs in three weeks. Not bad. But Alex, who weighed in at 399 lbs, has lost 42 lbs in that time so I’m in some trouble. But I’ve been tracking every single calorie that’s entered my body and I completely changed my eating habits. I run 2.6 miles 3-4 times a week. It’s slow going but I’m doing it.

As for Alex, I’ll let him tell you his story in his own words. Be warned, he likes to talk even more than I do:

Well for starters, I’m fat. It may be stating the obvious, but that’s the most salient detail, isn’t it? In this context, that’s what people want to know more about anyway. Who cares about the other stuff?

There aren’t TV shows devoted to people losing weight so that the audience can find out that Fatty McFatterson is an avid reader and movie buff (as I am). The audience wants to know how many X’s are on the tag of his shirt- mine have four of them these days, though there are a few brands where a 3X is better. Fun fact: the size at which no men’s clothing can, under any circumstances, actually be said to “look good on you” is 4XL.

People aren’t interested in the fact that I travel 150-200 days and 125,000+ miles a year for a living. Not yet anyway. They want to know if I need one of those seat belt extensions on the plane- Believe it or not, almost never. However, there are a few planes that haven’t been refurbished since you could smoke on planes, flight attendants were called stewardesses, and many male stewards were called “confirmed bachelors.” On these planes I find one useful, but can get by without if I need to.

Who cares if I’m mid-thirties, single, with no kids? Folks want to know if I’m fat enough to break furniture- I am. Or more honestly, I have. It was patio furniture, sure, but that made it no less embarrassing. Oh, and one dining room chair, which I still maintain was of sub-par quality as it was probably 10 years ago and I was not that fat at the time (I weighed less than Aaron does now).

It’s okay. You can relax. I’m not bitter or angry. This isn’t where I snap and start typing in all caps, DO YOU WANT ME TO DANCE FOR YOU?  YOU WANT FATTY TO DANCE? Um, more to the point I guess it is. Just not seriously. I just figured this is what most everyone would want to know. I’m fat enough to be the baritone in a barbershop quartet in Skokie, IL. I’m talking like orca fat. Told you- movie buff. (As I hope you already know the whole “barber shop/orca” thing is a Usual Suspects reference. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this right now and go watch it.

As the fattest participant in this competition, I’m either the odds-on favorite or the underdog depending on who you ask. For the record, I should be the favorite. I’ve lost large amounts of weight before. On one of said occasions I whipped my friends in a competition similar to this one (money only, unlike this time around no actual whipping). Aaron was one of them. Dave was not. It can be done.

Here’s hoping I do it again.

Brass Tacks:

Name: TheViking (I like to keep what comes up on a google search professional)

Website: www.mightyviking.com *

Twitter: @themightyviking *

Height: 5’10”

Starting Weight: 399lbs.**

Weight loss method: Healthy low carb. There are lots of diets with lots of different names that all push the same thing. And they’re all corporate money sucking machines that try to sell you chemical-ridden “bars” and the like. So I won’t use brand names. Think eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, grilled chicken or lean steak and lots of veggies for dinner, with nuts for snacking. And lots of water.

*The domain “themightyviking” was taken, as was the twitter handle “@mightyviking”. It’s a little confusing, but it’s also too late to fix, so there it is.

**This isn’t an asterisk where I explain I had a big meal or my shoes on (true, false). I can hem and haw all I want, at the end of the day I was a four hundred pounder (“was” because, being the procrastinator I am, I’m writing this after the original weigh-in. As of this posting I’m closer to 350 than 400.  If you’re asking yourself “what’s the difference, you’re still huge?” good for you, you’re not fat- but there’s a difference. Also suck it, I’m working on it.) Either way, I’ve come to terms with 400. I own 400, so this isn’t an asterisk for that. This is an asterisk for those people who know me and are surprised to learn I weighed that much. This also goes for anyone who knows someone dieting (especially successfully). DO NOT TELL ME, NOW THAT I’M LOSING WEIGHT, HOW CONCERNED YOU WERE FOR ME (OR MY HEALTH, ETC…) AND HOW GLAD YOU ARE TO SEE ME DOING WELL LOSING WEIGHT. DO NOT REMARK ON HOW SURPRISED YOU WERE TO LEARN THE ACTUAL NUMBER. I plan to write about this in the near future, so I’ll save you the whys and wherefores right now. Just trust me on this. If you have to mention successful weight loss to anyone, tell them they look good (not better, good). I’ll leave it at that for now.

So there we are. Your first two participants. We’ll have Dave’s info when he joins us in a couple weeks. In the meantime, Alex and I are posting our “before” pictures even though it makes us physically ill to do so. Feel free to leave us comments (we appreciate the positive and we’ll feed off the negative) and we’ll post all the updates (and especially the slap videos) as they happen.

Alex & I in the dreaded “Before” pics:

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Found Treasures, Future Letters and Advice From the Past

As parents, we all think about the future. Pretty much from the moment we find out we’re having a baby. I know I did.

Even before Will was born I wondered what he’d look like, how he’d act as a toddler, taking him to Fenway & Gillette for the first time and how he’d act as a precocious teenager. But then I stopped because I remembered my own teen years and the mere thought of being on the other end of that hot mess scared the holy hell out of me.

So I decided in that moment to write a letter to future Will, eight years from now on his 12th birthday, which I’ll keep and hopefully read in the future when I’m ready to tear my hair out. Here goes:
To my oldest son William on his 12th birthday.

Dear Will,
It seems impossible to me that in one more year you’ll be a teenager.
You are so big now, and every year I get more and more proud of you.

I wanted to write you this letter because maybe I can explain
what I want to say in writing better than I can in person.
As you get older, the pressures on you will get tougher and tougher.
You will have to make important decisions almost everyday,
decisions which will affect your life forever. Decisions like
“Should I try smoking cigarettes?” “Should I try any drugs?”
“Should I drink beer or alcohol?” and “Should I have sex with anyone?”|

You are also going to have feelings or desires to do things, or ideas
that you’ll think about that you think makes you weird. What you won’t realize
is that everyone is weird—just being you is what’s important.

Growing up is hard on a kid—I know. And it helps a lot to have parents
you can talk to, who will listen and not make fun of what you think.
Your mother has always been a great parent. She listens and understands.
I’ve always been too busy or impatient to really listen to you, and I know
you think I’m an old fart who doesn’t understand.

But the truth is, as you grow up Will, I’m growing up as a father.
Now I know it’s more important to listen than to yell.
I can remember how hard it was being 12 and I want to be there to help you.
It’s important to have a father at home to talk to about stupid things like girls,
or being embarrassed about something, or to ask if this ever happened to him.

As great as your mom is, some things you want to discuss with your dad.
I want you to know that I will try to be a listener, not a lecturer.
I will try and help you help yourself, not tell you what to do.

I know I haven’t done a great job so far, but I hope
you’ll give me a chance and trust me. I won’t let you down.
I love you,
Dad

Cool letter huh? Wanna know something even cooler? This is the exact letter my own father wrote to me 20 years ago when I turned 12.

Call this one of the perks of moving back home at 32—you find funny stuff from decades ago. But the silver lining is I’m once again reminded I never had to look beyond my own two parents to learn how to be a good one myself.

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