Better Read the Fine Print

My Dad presented me with a coupon book I gave him as a gift thirty years ago. I was thinking how cute it was that I made him a handmade gift as a teenager and laughing at all of the items I included when I realized that what I forgot to include was an expiration date. None of the coupons had dates on them which meant that they were still valid. Oh shit.

The coupons include things like “One Free Control of the Clicker Sunday” and “One Free Assist in Car Repair”. All of the coupons are things my Dad often asked me to do or needed help with. The fact that I used the word “free” on the coupons implies that I tried to charge him for my assistance on most occasions. I have to admit, I asked for cash frequently, mostly while he was dozing on the couch.

The funniest part of these coupons is the fine print. Each coupon includes a description or exclusion. Some of the descriptions are apparently meant to entice. The “One Free Fix This Before Mom Sees Cover Up” option says “this will come in handy next time you spill some paint on her new carpet” which he had actually done. And I had actually helped him cover it up before my Mom saw. I am a bleaching genius.

Some of the other fine print includes exclusions like on the “One Free Trip to Home Depot” which states “lunch not included!” I mean seriously, hardware store hot dogs? No thanks. I was also only available or willing to rub his feet on Sunday evenings during our favorite television shows because the fine print on the foot rub coupon lists four television shows it could be redeemed during. Unfortunately for me all of these shows are currently still available on demand. I clearly was not thinking ahead at sixteen. I was, however, smart enough to know that I should probably at least be entertained while I rubbed the Old Man’s feet. Being a masseuse while having to watch something like golf or baseball would have been torture.

I confiscated the coupon book before leaving their house yesterday. In all fairness, my Dad had literally used three of the coupons in the hour I was there. I do feel like it would be a waste for him not to get to use the rest though. I guess I am going to have a busy day this Sunday rubbing feet, fixing cars, shopping for gifts for my Mom and possibly going to jail. I noticed that the “Get Out of Jail Free” coupon says I will take the blame for any screw up with my Mom as long as it isn’t a felony. I didn’t mention anything about misdemeanors. I really was not thinking these things through at sixteen. It’s not like I hadn’t experienced a misdemeanor by then!

It’s also possible that we will all spend the day in the hospital if he cashes in the “Free Breakfast”” coupon. I think there is a reason this particular coupon was never used. I may have included that coupon as a joke considering I didn’t even know how to cook a pork chop. Also, why would anyone want a pork chop for breakfast?

My Dad has been having fun threatening to use coupons all day. I keep coming up with exclusions but I have a feeling I will run out of reasoning at precisely the wrong time. I already told him that the home repair coupon only covers jobs within the four walls of their main home. I could sense him handing it to me and demanding I renovate the bathroom at the lake house. My services are similar to homeowner’s insurance coverage, very limited and mostly useless.

Who would have thought that a homemade gift from the eighties would be the gift that keeps on giving. Somehow I think the Old Man is going to get months, if not years of fun out of these, holding them over my head. Luckily I was not very ambitious at the age of sixteen and there are less than a dozen coupons available. With the way my Dad digs a hole when it comes to angering my Mom, he could be down to only a few coupons by the end of the week!

**I wrote this blog while listening to the Descendents. Something about that band brings out my inner sixteen year old brat!

 

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Family Jewels

A few months ago, my daughter was playing catch with her Dad when she accidentally nailed him in between the legs with the ball. Apparently she throws like her mother. She immediately said “Daddy, I’m sorry I hit you in the privates!” As he bent over in pain she continued talking rapidly. “Last week one of the boys in the fourth grade got hit in his privates. He bent over too. Then one of the girls said her Dad calls his privates the wall of gems. Or maybe it was the dangling jewel. Or the family dangler. No, no, it was the family jewels. Why would he call it that?”

I had no words. This rarely happens to me, but I was truly speechless. Part of it was that I was laughing so hard, I couldn’t have answered if I tried, but I also had no answer to this question. It’s not that I hadn’t heard the term before, I just never gave much thought to where it originated from. I also had a strange image in my head of a giant wall of penises since the term “wall of gems” came out of her mouth. My brain was slowly melting.

Before I became a mother I knew there would be many, many questions tossed my way from my child that I would be ill equipped to answer. This was not even in the same zip code as that list of questions. I expected to google “types of clouds”, “books about poop” and “new math” but never did I expect to perform an online search for the origins of slang for penis. And let me tell you, it’s a search I never want to perform again. It was similar to the time I searched “Tinkerbell” only to find it was an incredibly popular name for women in the adult entertainment industry.

By now everyone knows that there are certain things you shouldn’t talk about in front of your children. Don’t talk about what a cranky old man the neighbor is if you don’t want him to know you think he’s a cranky old man. Don’t drop an F-bomb unless you want your kid doing it loudly in the middle of Target. And don’t talk about your poor self-image if you want your kids to grow up feeling confident about themselves. I would like to add to this list, please, do not use old man slang in front of your kids. They don’t know what these strange terms from the 1940s mean and they are definitely going to ask for clarification.

Fortunately my daughter only used the term “family jewels” for about a week. Unfortunately, a few weeks after giving up the phrase she received a ball to the crotch and was so distraught that she screamed “Ouch! My penis!” It only took her a minute to realize what she said and laugh but I think she might have my tendency to scream inappropriate things while in distress. It’s like a form of stress induced Tourettes. I’m expecting the next time she is injured I will hear a thundering “wall of gems!!”

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All In a Row

Life would be easier if everyone would just do what I tell them to. When my family and friends are acting exactly as I want them to, things run smoothly. It’s when my cast goes off script that the wheels come off the wagon.

I am a recovering control freak. It’s a condition I have been afflicted with my entire life. I think everyone is born with it. I mean babies are the biggest control freaks on the planet. They want what they want, when they want it and they are going to scream and cry until they get it. Some of us just never outgrow that phase of life I guess. I am one of those people. Although now I don’t scream and cry to get my way – I usually just give a stern look or manipulate the crap out of the situation. I can also argue my point for hours and wear my opponent down if need be.

I didn’t even realize what a control freak I was until a few years ago. People just always kind of did what I asked of them for most of my life. I think this is the way with a lot of control freaks. I knew I was a pain in the ass, I just wasn’t sure why. Now that I know I have an issue, I try to step away from the controls. The problem is it’s like having your hands on a marionette and then expecting the strings to move by themselves when you let go.

My first family vacation in control freak recovery was a tough one. Instead of getting prime seats by the pool, we sat a few rows back. We ended up eating lunch at a restaurant that I didn’t have the menu memorized so I had no idea what to order and a storm blew through while we were still outside. I blamed that storm on my letting go of the wheel – like I could control nature! Things just didn’t move as quickly because everyone was standing around waiting for me to bark orders. If the rest of my family had known I was trying to step away from the wheel, it would have been fine.

Things have become easier now that my family knows I am trying to let go a little. Sure my kid goes grocery shopping in a costume and we show up late to almost everything, but nobody has lost a limb yet and I haven’t given myself high blood pressure. I do still pick the restaurants most of the time, organize events and do most of the driving – even other people’s cars. But believe me when I say I am A LOT better than I used to be. What can I say, I’m a work in progress.

 

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Can I Scream?

Have people developed an aversion to headphones recently? I have been noticing more and more people watching streaming content on their phones and tablets at the gym without using headphones. They have the volume cranked up like they are lounging on their couch in their underwear, completely unconcerned about whether or not their noise is bothering anyone else.

Several years ago when my husband and I were in Atlantis, we were walking through the aquarium when an even trashier version of the cast of Jersey Shore came strolling through the halls. They were blasting music from a boom box hoisted on one of the spiky haired guido’s shoulders. I was disgusted – both by their greasiness and their manners. I mean, who does that? It was like walking down a New York City street in the 80s. Now, every time I hear someone’s music or movie emanating from their device, all I can see are the greaseballs slinking through the aquarium. Somehow seemingly normal, albeit rude, middle aged women morph into overly tanned, overly painted meatballs the second those speakers chirp.

There are a few women in my gym who watch television on their devices while pumping away on the elliptical machines. One woman watches what I can only surmise is a tween fantasy show on her tiny iPhone. Every time a new scene starts, twinkly music bursts out of the speaker. It’s like Tinkerbell is flying out of her phone every 5 minutes. She is an Asian woman and every time her little bells start chiming I want to tell her that she is not helping to disprove any of the stereotypes regarding Asian women and their love of all things little girl-like. At least I can’t hear any of the actual dialog from whatever she is watching, just lots of giggling and bells.

A new woman walked into my gym the other day and proceeded to set up her over sized tablet in front of her. She spent the next hour blaring a cop show while everyone within twenty yards of her cleared out of the gym. It took every ounce of self-discipline I have – which is not much – to not sidle up next to her and crank up some Hatebreed on my iPod. Luckily I was reading a book by the Dalai Lama so I was extra zen.

I don’t know if it is our increasing selfishness, sense of entitlement, or ability to be in the middle of a crowd without ever actually interacting with other people, but it’s obnoxious. I thought it was bad enough when I had to listen to people talking on their phones in line at Target, now I have to be privy to their Netflix playlist.

 

 

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Everyone’s a Critic

My daughter loves cooking. She also loves eating and has a pretty refined palate for a child. Tonight, she took one bite of the fish my husband had prepared for dinner and went directly to the refrigerator. She pulled out a jar of capers and half a lemon that had been sitting on the counter and returned to the table to top off her fish. I have to say I loved watching this, mostly because my husband has added extra spice, toppings or ingredients to pretty much every dinner I have ever cooked. I am a three ingredient kind of cook whereas he is a believer in layers of flavor. Apparently his cod didn’t have quite enough layers for our little lass though. As I was smirking at her going to town on her plate like Cat Cora she turned to me and said “What? You know I have to have capers on my fish!” Precocious does not even begin to explain this child some days.

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