My Wife’s Silly Concern That I Waste Too Much Time Watching Football

My Wife’s Silly Concern That I Waste Too Much Time Watching Football

[Author’s note: I meant to publish this article earlier, but I simply could not find the time. There were eleven college football bowl games I had to watch, plus four NFL playoff games. A man has to prioritize. – TEJ]

Like millions of other American males, I love to watch football. My wife thinks it’s a total waste of time. She’d rather watch a nature program or a documentary about Marco Polo. Who would want to learn something when you can spend quality time yelling at your TV over the officiating?

Like millions of other American males, I love to watch football. My wife thinks it’s a total waste of time. She’d rather watch a nature program or a documentary about Marco Polo. Who would want to learn something when you can spend quality time yelling at your TV over the officiating?

In recent years, there has been a national crisis brewing. No, I’m not talking about climate change or the latest measles outbreak. It’s the bane of millions of wives that their husbands are watching far too much football and totally ignoring the little lady (I’m not being chauvinistic. My wife is truly a little lady at 5’0″).

Recently, this topic became a source of strain in my own marriage. After many heated discussions, we decided to visit a marriage counselor to help my wife work through her silly problem. Below is a play-by-play transcript of how our first session went. 

Dr. Robert Taylor: Good afternoon. I’m Dr. Taylor. I understand that there are some concerns you have about your marriage. Who’d like to begin?

Michele: I will. I’m convinced that Tim cares more about football than he does about me.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, care to respond to your wife’s assertion?… Tim? … Tim, did you listen to what your wife just said?

Tim: Sorry, doc. I was just watching highlights from last weekend’s Saints – Vikings game on my phone. Could you believe that non-call in the end zone in overtime? Um, what was the question again?

Dr. Taylor: Your wife feels that you care more about football than you care about her. Care to comment?

Tim: About what?

Michele: ME! And put down your stupid phone. See, Dr. Taylor. This is what I’m talking about. Tim sits back in his recliner every Saturday and Sunday to watch his dumb football games. Tim, in a marriage, we’re supposed to be a team. Do you understand the problem our team is having?

Tim: I sure do. The Seahawks have absolutely no pass defense. They rank 25th in the league. That’s not gonna get them far in the playoffs.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, I don’t think that’s the problem your wife is talking about.

Tim: She could be right. Their pass blocking is equally suspect.

Michele: Tim, for God’s sake, can you hear yourself?!!? The problem is not the Seabirds’ pass blocking.

Tim: You make a salient point. I agree, their play calling is so predictable. But it’s not the Seabirds. It’s the Seahawks.

Michele: I don’t care if it’s the SeaWEEDS! You’re not listening to me. Every weekend, it’s like I’ve lost my husband to that stupid game. What exactly is so important about that ridiculous sport anyway?

Tim: You think football is a ridiculous sport? Might I point out that your parents love to watch curling? Now THAT’S a stupid sport. 

Michele: Don’t change the subject. I’m talking about how on weekends you spend more time watching football than you spend with me!

Dr. Taylor: Tim, is that true? Do you even talk to her during these contests?

Tim: I talk with her all the time as I’m watching. I’ll say things to her like, “Did you see that incredible catch?” and “What a horrible call by the official. Can you believe that call?” And “Can you make me a grilled cheese, honey? More cheese than last time, okay?”

Michele: You just don’t get it! All you talk about during these games is football, football, football.

Tim: That’s because I’m watching football. Would you prefer me to provide a commentary on the finer points of Badminton instead? Why would I do that during a football game?

Michele: ARGH!! How about talking to me about something – ANYTHING – other than sports? Like the last book you read.

Tim:  I could do that.

Michele: Really? That would mean a lot to me.

Dr. Taylor: And what book was that, Tim?

Tim: I just finished the pro football classic, “America’s Game”.

Michele: Unbelievable! What is so important about watching a bunch of over-sized men pound each other in pursuit of a little ball? I don’t get men’s obsession with this sport!

Tim: It’s football. Men like football.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, what I’m hearing from Michele is that, come weekends, you don’t seem to care about her interests. Am I understanding you, Michele?

Michele: Yes. Exactly. I mean, would it be so difficult for him to take a break from the flat-screen TV and go on a hike with me?

My wife says I never talk to her when I’m watching a football game on TV. That’s not true. Why, just last weekend, we discussed the possibility of her making me another plate of nachos and getting me a beverage. Her reply: Over my dead body.

My wife says I never talk to her when I’m watching a football game on TV. That’s not true. Why, just last weekend, we discussed the possibility of her making me another plate of nachos and getting me a beverage. Her reply: Over my dead body.

Tim: I hear you. The center really needs to work on his hikes on punts. Last week, he sent the ball over the punter’s head.

Michele: Dr. Taylor, see what I’m up against? He thinks any game on TV is more important than spending time with me.

Tim: Not if it’s the Dolphins – Bengals game. You can hardly call that football.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, I think you may be missing the point.

Tim: What point? Did someone score? Let me check my phone.

Dr. Taylor: No, Tim, you’re missing Michele’s concern, that you’re so engrossed in football that you forget to focus on her needs. What would happen if, just for once, you turned off the TV and missed a game?

Tim: I believe the answer is obvious. As you said, I’d miss the game.

Dr. Taylor: And so what if you did? Is that so bad? What if you went out for a walk with your wife instead?

Tim: Could I still listen to it on the radio with just one ear bud? She could listen on the other.

Dr. Taylor: Tim, are you willing to make any sort of compromise in your viewing habits in the interest of helping your marriage?

Tim: Okay, okay. I get it. How about I only watch football every other Sunday. And the other weekends, we do a fun outdoor activity together that Michele likes, say kayaking?

Michele: Well that’s a start, I guess. And I do like kayaking. Thank you, honey.

Tim: In fact, how about we start this new plan on February 3rd?

Michele: Let me guess. The Super Bowl is on the 2nd, right? 

Tim: Wow! You know when the Super Bowl is?! I think you secretly like football.

(Michele leaps from her chair but Dr. Taylor intervenes.)

Tim: Nice block, doc. You’re a natural.

Dr. Taylor: Well, I did play left guard in high school. (Whispering to Tim) Say, who do you think will win the Super Bowl? I’ve got $100 on the Ravens. Their quarterback is unstoppable –

Michele: Not you too, doctor. Unbelievable!

Dr. Taylor: Uh, um, well. I think we made some progress. Unfortunately, I have to wrap up early. I’m catching the playoff game with a few friends of mine. Oh, and one last thing. Rest assured that everything we’ve discussed today will be held in the strictest of confidence. – that is, unless your husband decides to publish the details of this session in an upcoming blog post.

Tim: I would never do that. Why would you even think such a thing, doc?

Michele: Oh no…..

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Introducing the Amazing, Incredible MIRACLE BOX!

Introducing the Amazing, Incredible MIRACLE BOX!

Welcome to the future. Behold MIRACLE BOX – an incredible breakthrough technology that will change your world forever. Imagine having a tidy, organized home, where everything is neatly stored away. Now that dream can finally be yours – unless you have young children.

Welcome to the future. Behold MIRACLE BOX – an incredible breakthrough technology that will change your world forever. Imagine having a tidy, organized home, where everything is neatly stored away. Now that dream can finally be yours – unless you have young children.

Once every generation, an entirely new product comes along that is so powerful, so game-changing, that it redefines how we live. In the 1920s, it was radio. The 1940s launched television. The 1960s introduced the microwave oven. In the 1980s, we discovered the power of personal computing. And the millennium catapulted humanity into the future with the Internet and smart phone.

As life-altering as all those innovations have been – to how we spend leisure time, share information and eat frosted cinnamon pop tarts – perhaps none has revolutionized how we live as much as the latest technological breakthrough. Introducing the amazing, incredible MIRACLE BOX.

Brought to you by VFTB Enterprises, the makers of Placebolax and Dyzastra, MIRACLE BOX can be used for hundreds of applications. So, what exactly is this latest disruptive technology? MIRACLE BOX is an ingeniously designed quadra-sided containment vessel that features a perfectly flat foundation and symmetrically aligned vertical walls. Think of a giant Rubik’s Cube whose internal void can be accessed manually, and you have a vague concept of what MIRACLE BOX looks like. Its unique patented rectangular design allows people for the first time in history to put things away!

Consider that growing stack of Golfer’s Digest and People magazines that you just haven’t gotten around to reading. Insert them inside MIRACLE BOX and rediscover your missing cat that’s been hidden underneath all these years. (I’m sure he’ll be okay.) Don’t know what to do with all your daughter’s childhood art projects? The clay hand print, the Popsicle stick reindeer, the sock puppet? Put them in MIRACLE BOX, and you’ll never have to look at them again!

Still shoving those Playboy magazines under the bed and praying your wife never dusts under there? Improve your odds and save your marriage by making that mess disappear, thanks to the wonder of MIRACLE BOX.

No need to further alienate your teen by hounding him to put away his laundry. He can just stuff it – the laundry, that is, into MIRACLE BOX! [Our top researchers are currently working on a laundry containment version of MIRACLE BOX.]

MIRACLE BOX comes in countless sizes and colors – so there’s sure to be one to suit your eclectic style. Need to conceal a corpse? No problem. Just order our Ultra Grande size (S&H fees apply).

MIRACLE BOX comes in a variety of sizes, colors and textures. Perfect for storing everything from party supplies to towels. CAUTION: Not recommended for storing boys or girls – unless they have been behaving extremely badly.

MIRACLE BOX comes in a variety of sizes, colors and textures. Perfect for storing everything from party supplies to towels. CAUTION: Not recommended for storing boys or girls – unless they have been behaving extremely badly.

For too long, people have endured the hassle and frustration of clutter. What to do with those 5,000 must keep baseball cards that represent every good (and fading) memory of your youth. How to protect your Hot Wheels collection from the sacrilege of being sold at a garage sale!  Your well-meaning wife might protest, “Just throw them out! You’re 52 years old, for God’s sake.” Now you don’t have to. Just cram them (and your emotions) in a box – a MIRACLE BOX.

A basic MIRACLE BOX comes in your choice of cardboard or corrugated fiberboard. Choose from an array of texture upgrades, including plastic, plywood and metal. For the real storage connoisseur, why not impress your friends by choosing our Limited Edition premium model, constructed with 100% Malaysian teak or Amazonian mahogany? They’ll all wonder how rich you must be.

MIRACLE BOX offers a variety of useful options, including a handy feature we call a “lid” – perfect for when you want to effortlessly cover and uncover its contents. Need to quickly relocate some contraband because you suspect the cops are on to you? Why not order our MIRACLE BOX with convenient “handles” upgrade?

And check out our special ventilated MIRACLE BOX – perfect for storing recalcitrant rabbits, when you prefer not to suffocate them (Note: contents may expand without warning – especially if contents contain both sexes).

The response from people who have tried MIRACLE BOX has been overwhelming. Check out these actual testimonials from satisfied MIRACLE BOX customers:

“Before I discovered MIRACLE BOX, I never knew what to do with my extensive bottle cap collection. But thanks to MIRACLE BOX, now I can put them all away. I even saw a YouTube video that showed me how to stack my MIRACLE BOX on top of other MIRACLE BOXES. That blew my mind!” – Justin Idyott, Biloxi, MS

“As the poppa of seven kids, ages 3 through 6, I used to wonder where in our trailer park home to put all their toys. Not anymore. Now I just put them all in 15 MIRACLE BOXES, with convenient labels such as “Lego’s” and “fireworks” and “ammo.” Thanks, MIRACLE BOX!” – Bubba Moronski, Tulsa, OK

Introducing the latest innovation from MIRACLE BOX – The MIRACLE FORT! This easy-to-assemble citadel is the perfect way to entertain young children for hours. (Sharpie, tape and box cutter sold separately.)

Introducing the latest innovation from MIRACLE BOX – The MIRACLE FORT! This easy-to-assemble citadel is the perfect way to entertain young children for hours. (Sharpie, tape and box cutter sold separately.)

“I run insurance scams for a living. I started running out of office space for all the fake claims and bogus receipts. That’s when I discovered MIRACLE BOX. I went for the optional ‘lid’ upgrade. I’ll never go back to using my pool table to store this stuff – thanks to MIRACLE BOX.” – Frankie ‘Fingers” Barbato, Bayonne, NJ

So, what are you waiting for? Why not join the thousands of people who have discovered the amazing MIRACLE BOX? Order your MIRACLE BOX by midnight tonight and we’ll throw in a free set of MIRACLE LABELS. Wonder what’s inside that large box in your storage room? Thanks to the incredible MIRACLE LABEL, you need no longer wonder where you stored your first aid kit – or your medical cocaine.

LIFE IS A MIRACLE – THANKS TO THE MIRACLE OF MIRACLE BOX! 

Disclaimer: MIRACLE BOX should not be used to store children or pets (unless you order the Deluxe ventilated edition). Do not use MIRACLE BOX as a guest room for your in-laws, as they may have difficulty finding the exit. MIRACLE BOX is not recommended as a place to keep expensive jewelry or rare coins, unless you clearly label your MIRACLE BOX with a misleading label, like “Nothing important inside” to deter theft. While indeed miraculous, MIRACLE BOX will not save a failed marriage nor restore hair growth. In rare instances, MIRACLE BOX can be fatal, as when in a drunken stupor, you ingest MIRACLE BOX, take off all your clothes and challenge a gang leader to a duel. If you paint a large black tunnel on the side of MIRACLE BOX, do not attempt to drive a truck through it.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Surviving Christmas Dinner with Relatives

Surviving Christmas Dinner with Relatives

It’s Christmas dinner, a time of giving thanks and sharing good food and stories with your family, and occasionally with some quirky relatives who make things, well, let’s just say, interesting.

It’s Christmas dinner, a time of giving thanks and sharing good food and stories with your family, and occasionally with some quirky relatives who make things, well, let’s just say, interesting.

The weather is getting colder. The hours of daylight are rapidly waning. And Costco has inflatable eight-foot Snow Globes on sale (although in full disclosure, these went on sale in early September). The holiday season is officially upon us.

An important tradition is the family Christmas dinner with loved ones, and, sometimes with not-so-loved ones, by which I mean your cranky, Fox News-watching, conspiracy-theory-loving Uncle Howard, who announces three days before Christmas that he’ll be joining you for the feast, even though you didn’t actually invite him.

Unfortunately, all too often the sumptuous Christmas repast can be accompanied by heightened tensions as we struggle to avoid getting sucked into a heated argument with relatives who are oblivious of their behavior. If you’re anxious about the impending arrival of Uncle Howard, who will most likely be carrying a half-consumed case of Budweiser, don’t despair. It’s going to be okay. You’ll get through this in one piece, I promise.

When Uncle Howard makes his grand entrance two hours late with Carlotta, his latest practically-prepubescent fling, on his arm, be sure to greet them with a polite hug. Try to ignore their matching red MAGA hats – and the large tabby cat draped around Carlotta’s neck. You might want to lock Otto, your schnauzer, in the basement, lest his very strong prey instinct kicks in and he chases the kitty around everyone’s feet.

Remember, above all else, DO NOT BRING UP POLITICS! When Howard snipes, “So, who are you voting for in 2020,?” just smile, say, “There’s an election in 2020? Whatta ya’ know!?,” and quickly change the subject.

When all are seated around the festive table, take this opportunity to fan the flames of familial bonding by sharing how your wife has helped you to become a better husband. Well done. You could not possibly have guessed that Howard would use words of harmonious wedded bliss to torch his ex: “Speaking of wives, my ex totally cleaned me out in the divorce. And now she wants my house. Over my dead body…” Okay, maybe you should have foreseen that one. Time to change the subject – again.

I recommend football. What balding senior citizen with a hot young girlfriend doesn’t like to brag about his knowledge of sports. So, you open with, “Hey, looks like another rebuilding year for the Dolphins, eh?” Who knew Howard’s comeback would be, “Nah, pro football has been ruined for me – ever since all those Negroes showed their hatred for America by refusing to stand for our National Anthem.” I know what you’re thinking – did he just say “Negroes?” Bite your tongue.

Okay, so talking sports was a bad idea. You need to find an innocuous topic that no one can argue about. Ahh…the weather. Conversation doesn’t get blander than that. You causally mention, “I hear we may get six inches of snow today. Looks like we might have a white Christmas after all.” But to your dismay, Uncle H storms back, “Gonna snow? See, I told you snowflakes that global warming is a hoax. All this hysteria about climate change is just liberal propaganda. I know because Sean Hannity says so.”

Okay, I’ll admit, I didn’t see that one coming either. Still, it’ll be fine. Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. Just then, the doorbell rings. Who could that be? Why of course, it’s your cousin Claire with her wife, Monica. “Hey, Couz! We happened to be in the neighborhood and thought we’d stop by. Are we too late for chow?” What could possibly go wrong now?

As the gracious host you are, you welcome your unexpected guests to join in the gaiety. Out of left field – or rather, far right field – Howard walks up to Monica, smiles and remarks, “Howdy, girls. You know, 90% of lesbians are witches. You’re both gonna burn in Hell. But in the meantime, Merry Christmas.” Looking back at you, he smirks, adding, “Or am I required to say, ‘Happy Holidays’ to not offend our liberal friends’ feelings in their politically correct War on Christmas?”

One thing that can create some anxiety at Christmas is the arrival of the unexpected relative who’s far more delighted to see you than you are to see them. No worries. What could possibly go wrong?

One thing that can create some anxiety at Christmas is the arrival of the unexpected relative who’s far more delighted to see you than you are to see them. No worries. What could possibly go wrong?

Somehow you are able to corral everybody back to the dinner table, making last-minute strategic seating alterations. Calm seems to have returned. You gather everyone in your gaze and suggest each person share what they’re grateful for at this special time of year. You set an excellent example by observing, “I am thankful for my family, our good health, and our lovely home. We are so blessed.” Nice try. Then Uncle Howard chimes in, “I’m thankful Carlotta is way hotter than my nasty ex-wife. And I’m thankful to God for choosing Donald Trump to be our greatest president ever. And once he’s re-elected in a landslide victory, he’ll lock up Hillary and Obama.”

Things quickly unravel. Go figure. Everybody starts shouting. Claire angrily hurls a dinner roll that hits Howard smack in the eye. Monica accidentally steps on Carlotta’s cat, who lets out a blood-curdling MEEOOOOWW!!!!. This sets off a barking frenzy by Otto, which startles Grandma, who jumps up from her wheelchair, accidentally knocking over the candelabra, which sets the tablecloth on fire. That activates the sprinkler system, dowsing your wife’s new dress and expensive coiffure. Baby Sally starts wailing, which further terrifies the cat, who hurls itself through the kitchen window, followed by Otto, who you did not know could leap that high. All of which amuses your kids to no end, who are laughing hysterically.

Claire screams something about Howard being a disgusting racist pig, to which Howard yells back, “At least I won’t burn in hell for being a lesbian!” Christmas with the relatives has descended into total pandemonium. When the smoke alarm starts trilling, you merely shake your head as you realize your apple pie in the oven is now toast.

Despite your best efforts, let’s face it, your family Christmas dinner has been a Chernobyl-level meltdown. And that’s not even counting the 150 stitches the cat and dog needed for their acrobatics smashing through the kitchen window. (No worries. The window can be replaced.) To avoid another disaster next holiday, I suggest you seriously consider entering the Witness Protection Program so none of your relatives can find you. Sure, that may sound drastic. But it’s either that or listening to Uncle Howard’s tirade about how the Ukrainians tried to steal the 2020 election from Trump.

Good luck. I hear Montana is a nice place to start a new life.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019

[Photos are stills from the 1989 film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.]

Mister Rogers is My Hero

Mister Rogers is My Hero

Fred McFeely Rogers, aka Mister Rogers. If you asked me to name a hero, he’s the first person that comes to mind.

Fred McFeely Rogers, aka Mister Rogers. If you asked me to name a hero, he’s the first person that comes to mind.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers

As a child, I never watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. By the time his show first aired in 1968, I was 13. For an awkward teenager trying to fit in, Mister Rogers was the least cool show I could conceive of watching. He was an oddball, with that strangely slow way of talking and those goofy puppets (which I later learned he made himself). His manner was too saccharine sweet. A total dweeb.

Many decades later, I have radically altered my stance on Mister Rogers. Today, I think of him as a hero.

Who was this man with the unfashionable cardigan sweaters (all made by his mother) and his blue sneakers? It turns out the character you saw on TV was exactly who he was in real life. Fred McFeely Rogers was born in 1928 in Latrobe, PA. An only child till age 11, he was overweight for much of his childhood and was often picked on because of it. He graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and became a Presbyterian minister in 1963.

He later attended graduate school, where he studied child development. This led him to producing to several regional children’s television shows and finally to the iconic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 until 2001. In his career, he wrote and directed 912 episodes. He composed all the music for his shows and did most of the puppetry. He also wrote dozens of children’s and parenting books on subjects ranging from going to the dentist to coping with bullies.

“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique.” – Fred Rogers

He received over 40 honorary degrees and countless awards, including being inducted into the TV Hall of Fame in 1999 and being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. Despite all these achievements and awards, Fred Rogers never let it change the person he was. He was always a safe harbor of hope for children who were struggling. Whether they felt marginalized because of their weight, their skin color, a disability, or a cognitive impairment, to Mister Rogers every child was special and unique. He taught that it was our job as parents to help our kids understand their special gifts and to encourage them to find a positive way to express their feelings, especially ones like fear, anger, anxiety and sadness. 

Mister Rogers’ shows were not always sunny conversations about rainbows and kittens. He believed in being honest with children. That’s why he dedicated shows to topics that were often especially difficult for kids to cope with, like the death of a parent, divorce, or being the victim of bullying or racism. When Bobby Kennedy was shot, he devoted an entire show to the topic of assassinations.

“I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.” – Fred Rogers

In 1969, when black Americans were still prevented from swimming alongside whites, an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood broke the color barrier.

In 1969, when black Americans were still prevented from swimming alongside whites, an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood broke the color barrier.

Fred Rogers is my hero because he was a paragon of the kind of human being I wish I could be more like. He always preached kindness, compassion, patience, and acceptance of people who were different from ourselves. In these tribal times, Mister Rogers’ optimistic world view is the antidote for our culture of cynicism and intolerance. Mister Rogers always saw the individual first. He taught young impressionable minds to understand the importance of lending a hand to others and seeing the good in them despite – or perhaps because of – their differences.

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.” – Fred Rogers

Although he was an ordained minister and he kneeled by his bed every night to pray for other people, Mister Rogers rarely talked about religion on his show. He talked about giving to others and forgiveness and how to guide people to find commonality with others, regardless of backgrounds or status. I still can’t watch his signature song, It’s You I Like without tearing up.

To the always soft-spoken Mister Rogers, life was not about winning. What mattered was helping others to win, especially those for whom attaining happiness might seem out of reach. This is the constant theme he preached his entire life, whether on TV or off – the importance of being present and doing what we could to make others feel safe to connect with the world around them. Not only to accept other people’s differences but to embrace them and celebrate them.

“Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.” – Fred Rogers

Despite all his fame and fortune, Mister Rogers lived a modest life. He proposed to Joanne Byrd by letter at the age of 24 and she ran to a phone booth to call him to accept his proposal. They were married for 50 years until his passing. He weighed 143 pounds his entire adult life, perhaps in part because of his daily ritual of getting up at 5:30 every morning to swim laps.

For Mister Rogers, it was never about attaining wealth or fame. He once said, “fame is just a four-letter word, and like tape or face or pain or life or love, what matters is what we do with it.” He has taught me (and millions of others) that the measure of our lives is not our achievements, not how much we earn or the number of awards we accumulate. It’s about the person we become – our character – and ultimately the positive impact we make on the lives of others.

“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” – Fred Rogers

In the recent movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Mister Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) asks his interviewer – and us the viewer as well – to sit quietly, in total silence, for one minute. He asks us to reflect on the people who have made us into the person we are. It is a powerful moment in the film. It led me to thinking about the many people who have cared for me, picked me up when I fell, and supported me to become the person I am today and how blessed my life has been.

Fred Rogers, passed away in 2003 from stomach cancer at the age of 74, leaving a legacy that will hopefully be passed on for many generations. Looking back, I realize the nerdy TV personality who I once thought was totally lame was in a profound way one of the coolest people I’d ever discover. He’s truly is a hero to me.

As I have repeatedly tried – and failed – to live up to the lofty, unattainable example he set, I often think to myself, in a moment of anger or anxiety or disappointment, what would Mister Rogers say? How might he handle this situation? And in that moment, I slow down, take a deep breath, pause, and become, if only briefly, a slightly better person. Thank you, Mister Rogers.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019

Stories from the Cat House

Stories from the Cat House

My wife and I foster kittens several times a year. Here are some of our recent guests. I know, they all look so adorable. Don’t be fooled. They’re non-stop eating, pooping machines that will turn your house into utter chaos, or as my wife calls it, “happy pandemonium.”

My wife and I foster kittens several times a year. Here are some of our recent guests. I know, they all look so adorable. Don’t be fooled. They’re non-stop eating, pooping machines that will turn your house into utter chaos, or as my wife calls it, “happy pandemonium.”

My wife and I run a cat house. We take in girls – and boys – who were living on the streets and require them to do tricks in exchange for room and board. We’re not proud of this. But we can’t help ourselves. Oh, it’s not what you think. No, we’re not running a brothel. Heavens, No! My wife always reminds me, “We’re never doing that again!” 

What I meant was that we rent cats. Okay, some people might call it “fostering.” We take in orphaned kittens and we feed them, cuddle them, and teach them tricks like how to chase a string. Our guests stay about five weeks, after which, having (temporarily) satisfied our craving, we send them back to the local animal shelter. But it is an addiction, and withdrawal is no laughing matter. So, after a couple months, we give in and get another fix of furry toddlers.

Our two adult cats, Zippy and Buddy (former fosters themselves), graciously allow us to invite these occasional intruders. I want to keep them all, but my wife says zoning laws prohibit more than two permanent feline residents per household. Apparently, any more than that would cause a level of chaos and destruction that might threaten world peace – not to mention our marriage.

Make no mistake, my wife likes cats – a lot! If she and I were on a rowboat in the middle of the ocean with Zippy and Buddy, and a big wave washed our cats and me overboard, and she could only save two of us – let’s just say, my wife would probably be remarried by now.

While she likes cats, my darling wife absolutely ADORES KITTENS! That’s why she likes to rent, I mean foster them. Our job as a foster family is to play with the kitties and get them used to humans, so that I can fall in love with them and get my heart torn out when they inevitably journey back to the shelter to find permanent homes.

I’ll be the first to admit, fostering kittens is a lot of fun. But it’s also a lot of work. That’s why my wife and I divide up the tasks evenly. I’m responsible for feeding, scooping the litter, replacing said litter, cleaning the ubiquitous poop skid marks off the floor, sweeping the strewn litter bits, and picking up countless bits of shredded paper the kitties create. The above tasks need to be done roughly every 30 minutes. My wife willingly shoulders the arduous chores of patting and nuzzling the kittens and posting adorable photos of them on Facebook.

If I may, I would like to circle back to the part about feeding and scooping. The kittens are often only two weeks old when we receive them. Sometimes they are so tiny we must bottle feed them. But once they can consume solid food (around three weeks), their appetites are insatiable. A litter of six kittens can easily go through eight cans of moist cat food and three cups of dry food in a day. But they poop out roughly five times the volume they consume – something scientists have never been able to explain. With any luck, by the time they are ready to leave us, most of the kittens know how to  dutifully excrete their poop within a foot of the litter box.

Our temporary house guests typically overcome their fear of us very quickly. By the second week, they’re routinely navigating up my pant leg, headed for my shoulders. Which brings me to the topic of claws. Did you know that kittens don’t know how to retract their claws? Me neither. I like to wear shorts. Imagine, if you will,  self-propelled razor blades covered in fur scaling your unclothed limbs. In no time, I look like a badly abused scratching post – only with far more blood.

Things tend to get a bit complicated when Buddy realizes we have visitors. Everyday it’s the same pattern: He stands outside the door to the guest quarters and whines incessantly until we let him in. He looks at the kitties with an approach-avoidance mixture of fascination and fear until eventually several of them start chasing (and biting) his tail, at which point Buddy freaks out and bolts. Then 30 minutes later, he wants back in again. Go figure.

Kittens are naturally curious and adventurous – especially as they reach four weeks of age. This is when they develop an urge to go walkabout and explore EVERYTHING. They climb, leap, and knock over anything they can get their mouths on. They will play with anything they stumble into – except cat toys, of course. They will entertain themselves for hours, batting around an empty toilet paper roll, a rubber band or a twist tie. And they are masters at chewing on electrical cords, scratching the wood furniture beyond repair, and getting stuck underneath the couch and other impossible-to-extract locations. At this age, they have only two modes: Total pandemonium and coma. There is no in between.

When our short-term residents reach two pounds (around eight weeks), it’s time to take them back to the animal shelter to find forever homes. And this, for me, is by far the most difficult part. Because every time we foster, I get emotionally attached. I always want to keep some. My wife rationally insists we have plenty of cats already. Our negotiation sessions typically go something like this:

Me: Let’s keep all six of them. They’re soooooo adorable. Can we, sweetie?

Michele: No. We already have two cats. That’s plenty.

Me: Okay, you’re right. So, how about we just keep two kittens?

Michele: No. We already have enough cats.

Me: I hear you. Final offer: Let’s keep just one.

In the end, we reach a compromise, by which I mean we don’t keep any. We go through this dance whenever we foster. Every time, I tell myself I won’t get attached, and every time I fall hopelessly in love with every one of them.

By the time you read this, our house will probably be teeming with our next set of furry visitors. I already know my wife is going to say no, we can’t keep any furballs. But I have a plan. I know some embarrassing details from her past that I just might “accidentally” post to her timeline on Facebook – unless she agrees to let me keep one. So, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. It’s totally up to my darling wife. Meow.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019