My 15 Minutes of Infamy

My 15 Minutes of Infamy

My sister Betsy and I have always been close. I always have her back and sometimes I have her throat too. Like I said, we’re very close.

My sister Betsy and I have always been close. I always have her back and sometimes I have her throat too. Like I said, we’re very close.

[The following is true.] This story is not really about me. But as is usually the case when I tell stories, I’m going to make it about me anyway. My sister Betsy and I have always been extremely close – unless you count that one time when I’m fairly certain she tried to kill me. But I digress.

Way back in 1999, Betsy was interviewed by Katie Couric on NBC’s Today Show with her twin boys. To understand how they ended up on national TV, we have to go back several years before her national television debut, to September 8th, 1990.

At that time, Betsy was massively pregnant with twins and due to deliver in six weeks. Doctor’s orders restricted her to no travel outside Albany, where she lived, in case the babies got pushy and tried to arrive early – which if you ask me, is highly inconsiderate of any prenatal youngsters. I therefore persuaded Betsy to go on a drive with me 60 miles north to the idyllic Lake George. I was particularly looking forward to a boat ride. In my defense, I was not yet a parent myself – and I’m a guy – you really can’t expect me to have a clue about obstetrical matters.

Betsy said okay – except for the boat ride – something about not wanting to rock the pregnancy boat. And she rudely insisted on driving. I gently pointed out that she was too huge to fit behind the wheel. She slugged me. Then she maliciously accused me of being a poor driver who hit every pothole and bump in the road.

Long story short, we had a lovely day up north. Betsy began the drive home, but soon got too exhausted to drive. Wimp. Reluctantly, she let me take the wheel. As Betsy had predicted, I hit every pothole and speed bump, enduring Betsy’s repeated rants of: “If the babies are born tonight, it’s your fault!” Personally, if you ask me, I think New York State needs to improve its highways.

Spoiler alert. Betsy’s babies didn’t arrive that night. In an unrelated story, at 5:00 the next morning, Betsy went into full labor. Her first words caught me by surprise: “Tim, this is your fault for hitting every bump in the GD road!” At 9 am the boys came down the chute. (Is that okay to say in a story about your sister? ) They weighed in at a scant 3 lbs. 14 oz and 4 lbs. 8oz, respectively. Though tiny, Betsy’s identical twin boys were just fine.

The same could not quite be said about Betsy. Apparently worn out from a challenging birth – or perhaps just from visiting too many tourist shops at Lake George the day before – she was utterly exhausted and became incoherent. She actually started speaking exclusively in French (she had lived several years in France). On the negative side, doctors were worried that she might have suffered some mysterious medical complication. (She hadn’t). On the positive side, her French was flawless.

The twins were born on September 9th, 1990. Most normal people would not think anything special about that date and would just be glad their newborns had approximately the right number of fingers, ears and noses. But my sister somehow figured out minutes after she regained the ability to speak English that one day her boys would celebrate a uniquely memorable birthday.

This is my sister Betsy, cradling her newborn identical twin boys. I know, it’s hard to tell them apart. So, in case you’re not sure who is who, Betsy is the one in the middle.

This is my sister Betsy, cradling her newborn identical twin boys. I know, it’s hard to tell them apart. So, in case you’re not sure who is who, Betsy is the one in the middle.

Nine years later, at the 9th hour of the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year of the 9th decade, the twins would turn, wait for it, 9.

Fast forward to summer 1999. Betsy had a brainstorm – inspired by an innocent query of her twins as to what they wanted for their birthday: “We want to be on TV”. So, she called a local news station and told them how her identical twins would be turning 9 years old at precisely 9a.m. on 9-9-99. They referred her to NBC, who referred her to Willard Scott (remember him?) Apparently, it was a slow news week because The Today Show said YES! They wanted to interview Betsy and her twins on LIVE TV. Oddly, the network neglected to interview me. I’m not going to lie. That slight really stung.

NBC flew Betsy and her twins, named Tyler and Kevin (not their real names), from Albany, NY to New York City, met them with a limousine, and put them up at the luxurious Essex House Hotel on Central Park. (Okay, I lied. Kevin and Tyler ARE their real names. I just wanted to protect their privacy. I appear to have failed miserably.)

Finally, Betsy’s big moment of national stardom was here. While she was on the set of The Today Show, chatting with Al Roker, I was in my living room, wearing a nice beige pull-over cotton shirt and blue jeans, having just finished cleaning up the dishes and taking out the trash. Now that I re-read the previous sentence, I see that it really added nothing to the storyline. Please accept my humble apology.

Anyway, right after the commercial for Bounty Towels, the show was back on. Katie Couric introduced my sister and the soon-to-be-famous twins to a national television audience. She began with a warm hello to the boys. And was met with … dead silence. You could hear a pin drop. Katie prompted them with an innocent question about their favorite birthday present. She was met with a torrent of rambling twin-speak, as Barry and Larry (not their real names) answered together, babbling in harmony about some colorful thingamajig that sparkled and twirled. The ever-poised Ms. Couric, who had interviewed movie stars and world leaders with aplomb, was speechless.

She recovered, however, and steered the interview in another direction, asking Betsy, “Is it true that their uncle played a significant part in their birth story?”

And you thought I was making this up. Here’s Katie Couric of NBC’s Today Show on 9-9-99, after Betsy’s appearance with her twins. Apparently there was a scheduling mix-up, as I was accidentally left off the show.

And you thought I was making this up. Here’s Katie Couric of NBC’s Today Show on 9-9-99, after Betsy’s appearance with her twins. Apparently there was a scheduling mix-up, as I was accidentally left off the show.

Then Betsy began to destroy my reputation: “My brother Tim is a terrible driver.” She proceeded to retell the events of our driving adventure on September 8th, 1990, and how I hit every bump on the road. “I told Tim to drive more carefully because he had a pregnant woman in the car. I even said, ‘If I give birth tonight, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!’ Sure enough, the twins were born the following morning. They have called my brother ‘Uncle Bump’ ever since, because of his driving. I need to reiterate this. Tim is a really bad driver.” 

Thanks for throwing me under the bus, sis. I may be a terrible driver, but if it weren’t for Ole’ Uncle Bump, your kids would’ve been born on some forgettable date at a healthy weight and lived lives of obscurity. And you never would have been on national TV, chatting with America’s Sweetheart, Katie Couric.

So, if you ask me, this story is really about how great a big brother I was by selflessly helping my little sister achieve her 15 minutes of fame. She returned the favor by turning the spotlight on me for my 15 seconds of infamy.

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

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.

Warning Signs You May Be Experiencing  Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (K.I.D.S.)

Warning Signs You May Be Experiencing Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (K.I.D.S.)

Every single day people from all walks of life learn the upsetting diagnosis: They’ve become another statistic in the global pandemic of K.I.D.S. While there are many effective methods of prevention, as of today, there is no known cure.

Every single day people from all walks of life learn the upsetting diagnosis: They’ve become another statistic in the global pandemic of K.I.D.S. While there are many effective methods of prevention, as of today, there is no known cure.

Just as our nation is grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic, it appears there is another crisis rapidly spreading throughout the world. Over the past 50 years, throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia, there has been an explosion of reported cases of Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (better known by its acronym, K.I.D.S.). No socio-demographic group has been spared by this invasive and intractable outbreak. In fact, I myself have been waging my own personal battle with K.I.D.S. for over twenty years.

According to humanitarian relief agencies’ longitudinal studies dating back to the 19th century, the number of known cases of K.I.D.S. is at its highest level in human history. Alarmingly, it shows no signs of reversing its upward trend. For millions of couples facing the long-term ordeal of K.I.D.S., there is no relief in sight and social distancing is simply not an option.

Scientists have been unable to unlock the mysterious inner workings of K.I.D.S., but its origins have been conclusively linked to a combination of alcohol consumption combined with unprotected sexual contact in the vast majority of cases. Warning signs that you may have contracted K.I.D.S. include an inability to maintain an orderly household and an increasing disregard for clutter and chaos. Another warning sign includes a dramatic degree of social distancing by adults who have not been exposed to K.I.D.S.

What makes this epidemic of K.I.D.S. so debilitating is that there is very little anyone can do to combat it. Once contracted, in the vast majority of cases, the condition, while not usually fatal, typically lasts the rest of their lives. People coping with even the mildest form of K.I.D.S. often report that the condition gets progressively more difficult to manage over time, as the virus mutates in appearance, continually grows in size, and in later stages becomes increasingly resistant to attempts to control it. As people struggle to adapt to living with K.I.D.S., they report that close friends they’ve known for years but who have not contracted K.I.D.S. often avoid them like the plague.

Early stage K.I.D.S. is often associated with significant sleep deprivation lasting up to eight months. During this “incubator” period, common side effects include a significant decline in the victim’s range of vocabulary, typically accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to speak in a high-pitched chirpy voice about successful bowel movements.

Scientists have identified an alarming phenomenon in people suffering with K.I.D.S. – a noticeable deterioration in their mental faculties. They speculate that this intellectual impairment may be caused by prolonged exposure to vacuous television programming dedicated to letters of the alphabet or possibly due to being subjected to endless recitations of drippy songs about Baby Belugas or beautiful days in the neighborhood.

Surprisingly, after a few years, some K.I.D.S. sufferers have reported brief intervals of partially regained lucidity and brief episodes where the worst aspects of K.I.D.S. appear to go into in remission. They can sometimes regain normal sleep cycles and are able to enjoy more adult-themed TV programming. There have even been reported instances in which people living with K.I.D.S. have experienced momentary fits of laughter at birthday parties, zoos, and little league games – but these anecdotal stories have yet to be substantiated with empirical evidence.

One of the most common ailments afflicting people with K.I.D.S. is a perceived loss of control, independence and spontaneity. They often report feeling chained to endless cycles of vehicular transport to soccer games, piano recitals, and doctor’s appointments, taking the place of time previously used for hiking with friends, playing tennis, and working out at the gym. As a result of this hard-to-break cycle, another common side effect of K.I.D.S. is unsightly weight gain and a marked decline in concern for personal appearance.

It is common for people with advanced stages of K.I.D.S. to experience wild swings of emotion and increased levels of stress. If you encounter an otherwise rational adult barking out phrases like who do you think paid for that? or would it kill you to say, ‘thank you?’ or because I said so!, the chances are high the person is battling K.I.D.S. There are many reports of K.I.D.S. wiping out a couple’s entire long-term savings. Some studies suggestion that this steep decline in personal net worth is most severe for people who have been struggling with K.I.D.S. for 18 to 22 years.

The good news is that there are glimmers of hope. For some people facing an uphill struggle with K.I.D.S., symptoms of frustration and exhaustion tend to fade about the time when the financial strain of managing K.I.D.S. has passed its peak. There are dozens of documented cases where victims of K.I.D.S. can resume relatively normal lives somewhere around 18 years from the onset of the condition, engaging in conversations about politics or professional sports teams or taking long drives that no longer require emergency pit stops to eliminate bodily fluids.

Theories abound as to the primary cause of an incurable condition suffered by adults called Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (KIDS), but a recent study suggests prolonged exposure to rainbow-colored aliens with annoying, chirpy voices may be a contributor.

Theories abound as to the primary cause of an incurable condition suffered by adults called Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (KIDS), but a recent study suggests prolonged exposure to rainbow-colored aliens with annoying, chirpy voices may be a contributor.

While there are several effective methods for the prevention of K.I.D.S., currently there is no cure. The unsettling reality is that the existence of K.I.D.S. has become a global epidemic. Ever since my wife and I first received the shocking diagnosis more than two decades ago that we had both become exposed to K.I.D.S., our lives have been consumed just trying to manage this condition.

But here is the oddest part about this chronically overwhelming, exhausting condition. Even though coming down with K.I.D.S. has radically turned my life upside down, drained my life savings and caused me endless sleepless nights, I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if I had never gotten K.I.D.S. It’s one lifelong condition for which I hope they never find a cure.

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

My Wife Wants Me Recalled

My Wife Wants Me Recalled

Dear Ms. Jones,

Thank you for your recent letter to Husbands-R-Us regarding your purchase of a husband, specifically the Tim Jones BSE (“Basic Spousal Edition”) in April 1987. In your 12-page diatribe, you demand that we recall this “badly broken down jalopy” (your words) due to, as you put it, “innumerable product defects and previously hidden deficiencies” that you claim were not made known to you when you purchased this unit.

We at Husbands-R-Us appreciate your business, Ms. Jones, and under normal circumstances, we would gladly recall your model and provide you with a satisfactory replacement at no cost. Regrettably, these are not normal circumstances. Our 30-year marital protection plan is unmatched in the industry. Since you purchased your spousal unit in 1987 – over 33 years ago, your husband is now officially out of warranty.

It is not uncommon that the components of a husband of that vintage will start to wear out, which is why we always recommend regular upgrades – advice you did not heed. In fact, not many models last that long, so we don’t carry replacement parts for such old versions.

Even if we could make an exception and let you retroactively buy an extended warranty, it has also come to our attention that you recently took your husband in to get both its knees replaced. Your decision to have these repairs performed by a non-Husbands-R-Us mechanic would void your warranty anyway.

In looking at your account profile, we discovered this is not the first time you’ve filed a complaint regarding your matrimonial purchase. Indeed, you have written us on at least nine prior occasions, including:

January 2007: “I noticed that my husband is losing its finish – especially on the roof. Is there any way to preserve what little protection is still remaining?”

March 2011: “My husband’s motor is making loud grinding noises at nighttime, making it impossible for me to sleep. Can you install a muffler to make it run more quietly?”

October 2015: “This model’s headlights appear to be dimming and have difficulty making out nearby objects in low light. Can these be replaced?”

August 2018: “This piece of crap you sold me routinely leaks gas. And its motor sputters and turns off after very short distances – often stalling out on the couch when I try to steer it towards mowing the lawn.”

And then there were those missives you sent bemoaning its declining performance in bed with each passing year. That’s really not covered by the warranty. Your owner’s manual clearly states, “Your mileage may vary.

We also appreciate the occasional correspondence from your offspring, arguing that their DAD Model TLP (“Totally Lame Parent”) was “unfair and a loser” for refusing to buy them cell phones when they were seven years old. We got a chuckle over their most recent lament regarding its styling and appearance – “It’s, like, so out of date, we’re, like, awesomely embarrassed to, like, be seen riding around in public with it, like.”

We understand your collective disappointment. Full disclosure, we’ve actually received scores of complaints lodged by other individuals about your particular Tim Jones BSE model – from former bosses, neighbors, and several of its middle school teachers.

Interestingly, most of the grievances were submitted by people who felt harassed by a systemic barrage of weekly sophomoric humor articles they received in what some described as this unit’s “desperate attempt to seek approval.” We have never heard of this glitch before. Apparently, this particular Tim Jones is no laughing matter.

Please understand, when your hubby was originally manufactured back in 1955, husband manufacturing technology was still in its infancy. Back then, the industry simply lacked the quality controls that are commonplace on today’s more intelligently designed, longer-lasting husband models. And the slimmer, sleeker body styles many women prefer would not become the norm until many years later.

Furthermore, please note that your purchase contract clearly specified that we are not liable for damage caused by reckless driving (or eating). The fact that your husband’s engine was routinely fueled by frosted cinnamon pop tarts and Mountain Dew for the last 40 years goes against all the maintenance recommendations found in your service manual.

Still, given you’ve been a longstanding customer, we at Husbands-R-Us would like make a one-time-only offer to compensate for your troubles. We will give you top value for your husband if you trade it in for a newer, more high-performance version. We have a wide selection including an exotic, luxury model just imported from Italy starting at $95,000.00. We estimate the worth of your Tim Jones BSE, based on its age and current condition, to be roughly $50 (we’ll make it $100 if you throw in its 60” flat screen man cave TV). But hurry. This offer expires at midnight.

It can be disheartening to discover one has unwittingly gotten locked into a long-term husband purchase contract with restrictive return policies and onerous payment terms lasting 20, 30 or even 40 years. If that describes you – and based on your voluminous correspondence over the years, it sounds like it might –we recommend you consider our attractive leasing program, BOTS (Boyfriend On The Side). We have an excellent inventory of new models – many with very low mileage and ample sized engines that really go the distance. You can even do a month-to-month lease – and trade them in for new BOTS for a small restocking fee.

Here at Husbands-R-Us, we look forward to serving you again when you’re in the market for a newer, more advanced husband or just to take one of our BOTS out for a test drive.

Or perhaps you’d like to forget about men altogether and buy a shiny red sports car instead. Many wives tell us, compared to their husbands, new cars are far less hassle, much more responsive, smell way better, and come with firmer, sexier rear ends.

Sincerely,

Brad Millington

Customer Relations Manager

Husbands-R-Us

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

A Letter to My Future Son-In-Law

A Letter to My Future Son-In-Law

So you want to marry my daughter? Have you totally thought this through? Let me tell you what you’re in for. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

So you want to marry my daughter? Have you totally thought this through? Let me tell you what you’re in for. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

[Author’s note: My daughter is in her mid-twenties and has a boyfriend. The days of “Will he ask me to the prom?” have evolved to “Will he ask me to marry him?” I thought I should prepare for that frightening eventuality by jotting down some notes for what I might want to say to her future husband when that important day approaches. This is just a first draft. Suggestions welcome. – TEJ]

Dear Possible-Future Son-in-Law,

So you want to marry my daughter? What on God’s green earth gives you the right to stomp on my heart and steal my little girl, you hateful, wretched son-of-a-b*tch? Have you met my close friend, Mr. Smith and his buddy, Mr. Wesson? If you think for one minute you’re going to swoop in out of nowhere and take my place after all I’ve done to raise her right, well, you’ll have to come through me. Ya’ hear me, fella?

(Okay, I’m feeling a little cranky. I haven’t eaten in hours, so that opening was a little hangry. Sorry. Let me try this again.)

Son, my daughter has informed me that you would like to marry her. How exciting! I could not be happier for you both. This is a very important decision, so, I hope you’ve thoroughly thought it through.

My daughter is a very special young woman. In the remote chance you’re not quite as familiar with her charming quirks as I have come to be, perhaps I might share a few words of counsel, to help ensure smooth sailing as you embark on your new life together.

You may have noticed by now that my precious little angel is rather, um, strong-willed. She’s been that way forever. When she turned two, she insisted on baking her birthday cake all by herself, proclaiming, “I DO IT MYSELF, DADDY!” I still can recall the proud look on her face as she diligently mixed the cake batter, added the rainbow sprinkles, Frosted Flakes, and bananas, and then poured the entire concoction into what she called “the blender,” but which we adults usually refer to as “the toilet.” The plumber and I sure had a hearty laugh about that, up until the moment he presented me with his $575 bill.

I also hope you’re not terribly concerned with a particularly tidy home. My little Entropy Engine, as I like to call her, is more of a free spirit in that regard. As far back as I can remember, her room always has looked like a Category 5 hurricane had just swept through. I wouldn’t waste your breath asking her to load the dishwasher, or make the bed, or clean up after herself. She’ll no doubt remind you: that’s what maids are for. Hope you earn a good paycheck, young man.

Oh, and a word about pets: DON’T – unless you like getting up at 3am to let the dog out. Because there’s no way you’ll be able to nudge her out of bed. After all, she needs her nightly uninterrupted ten-hour beauty rest. No, when it comes to pets, her job is to cuddle them. Don’t get me wrong. My daughter loves animals – or more accurately, YouTube videos of them, especially fuzzy hedgehogs and baby penguins. If you’re really serious about pets, might I suggest starting with baby steps, say, a bowl of fish? On second thought, scratch that suggestion. It might end badly.

You’ve probably noticed by now that my daughter is remarkably independent. We raised her to be that way. And you may notice she has a slightly elevated need to be right a fair amount of the time – but only when she’s conscious. She will be quick to point out when you’re wrong about say, your taste in men’s fashion or perhaps the latest Star Wars film or where you both should go out to dinner tonight. But she will overrule you with the cutest expression on her face, so you won’t even notice. My Little Miss Sunshine is absolutely willing to listen to your point of view on a wide variety of issues – just so long as your point of view happens to be the same as hers. Just practice saying, “That’s a great idea, dear.” You’ll do just fine.

If my precious jewel has decided that you’re Mr. Right, that says a lot about you. You are clearly a wonderful young man, hardworking, smart, sensitive and a devoted companion, who has compiled at least a six-figure 401K by now. Well done. Oh, on that last point, I’m not saying that my daughter just wants you for your money. Let me be clear. I just want you for your money.

Your future mother-in-law and I plan to move in with you guys when our retirement nest egg runs out. Not to worry. That won’t be for at least another three years. Be sure to buy a large enough house so we can have plenty of privacy – and a view of the ocean and a very large en suite… with a Jacuzzi and a 65” flat screen TV. You’re going to make such a good son.

I hope this will help you feel more comfortable as you contemplate spending the rest of your life married to this incredible young woman, who for the first 18 years of her life I affectionately called my Prima Donna Angel Monster Princess. Welcome to the family.

Remember, in the long run, you needn’t worry about us. Worry about yourself – um, perhaps I phrased that poorly. I mean, life is short. In the end, all that matters is your and my baby girl’s happiness (albeit not necessarily in that order). Make a point to laugh together, love and support each other, and never forget what’s really important in the life you create together: Grandchildren. I really don’t feel I should have to explain this to you. Don’t disappoint me, son.

Signed,

Your soon-to-be “Dad”

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

Things I hope people won’t mention at my funeral

Things I hope people won’t mention at my funeral

Tim funeral - football coachRecently I turned 35 years old, and by recently, I mean 30 years ago. But more recently, I turned 65 – this past January. When you turn 65, you start asking yourself uncomfortable questions like, “How long has that mole been there?” You ponder your own mortality and your legacy and how is it that AARP got your mailing address so quickly.

Lately I’ve begun asking myself challenging questions: What have I done with my life? What do I want to do with the limited time I have left on this planet? Did I have breakfast yet? Where did I leave my car keys?

I wonder about the impact I’ve had on the people in my life. What might these people say about me if they spoke at my funeral? It got me to imagining, which got me to worrying…. a lot…. about what they might have to say:

My earliest childhood friend, Danny: Yeah, Timmy and I were tight – until he destroyed my purple bicycle. I loved that bike. You son of a bitch. When you rode it into that pond and wrecked the frame beyond repair, from that moment on, you were dead to me. You hear that, Timmy? You’re DEAD TO ME!

My first grade teacher, Miss Kelly: I remember Timothy, yes I do. He was a rather chatty young lad. An unhealthy need for approval, if you ask me. As I recall, he had the worst penmanship and he was a very slow reader. Took him forever to get through the book Fun with Dick and Jane. And every crayon drawing he ever did always included a rainbow. I privately wondered whether he might be gay. Continue reading “Things I hope people won’t mention at my funeral” »

The Time I Saved Ten Lives

The Time I Saved Ten Lives

[The following is a true story.]

Above: Ten very fortunate Survivors. Behind them lay icy cold waters that, had they not been lucky, could have caused their painful deaths.

Above: Ten very fortunate Survivors. Behind them lay icy cold waters that, had they not been lucky, could have caused their painful deaths.

Many years ago, I saved ten innocent lives from almost certain death – well maybe it was eight innocent lives, one borderline and one utterly without any redeeming qualities. But I digress.

I really don’t like to talk about it. Even my kids have no idea about my Herculean actions. I certainly don’t consider myself a hero – any more than Gandhi or Malala – or that guy who leapt onto a NYC subway track and rescued a man from an oncoming train. Like him, I was just in the right place at the right time. I did what I had to do. If you were as incredibly selfless as me, you might have done the same thing.

It’s hard for me to discuss the events of that traumatic day some 18 years ago. I can still see their seemingly lifeless bodies floating in the icy cold waters, unable to escape to safety. Death was knocking – no, POUNDING – at their door. To be honest, in some ways I blame myself for this near tragedy. They never would have gotten into their perilous predicament had it not been for my own carelessness. Even worse, there was no way to blame my wife for this disaster, as she was out of town at the time.

Let me take you back to the beginning. It all started when our then seven-year-old daughter Emily brought home a plastic bag filled with ten teensy guppies. Her teacher had entrusted her the school of fish on the condition that she take good care of them. Being a first grader, my daughter had not yet acquired the requisite level of maturity necessary to handle this immense responsibility. In the weeks that followed, she would grossly overfeed them and then neglect to feed them for days on end. She never bothered to clean their tank, so their habitat soon became discolored and grimy from, well, poop. Not a pleasant sight.

Not ready to broach the topic of where guppies go after they die (let alone Is there a Santa Claus) with my young impressionable daughter, I came to the rescue, as all competent helicopter parents do. I took over the care of these tiny, fragile, inch-long sea creatures.

After implementing a strict feeding regimen, I donned a Hazmat suit and faced the onerous task of scouring their tank. Using a net, I scooped these little critters one by one out of the murky waters and deposited them into a salad bowl we would plan to use later that evening for dinner, now filled with clean H2O. I scrubbed their glass dwelling thoroughly and refilled it with cold tap water.

I then dumped them all back into their sparkling clean home. They swam with fresh abandon. But did any of them give me so much as a nod of appreciation? Nope. Not so much as a flick of a fin. In case you’re contemplating adding guppies to your family, you should know they are incredibly self-absorbed and will never offer even the slightest acknowledgement of gratitude for anything you do for them. Not unlike your kids.

I started to clean up the bathroom. Then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some of the guppies were no longer darting back and forth the way they usually did in relentless search of an escape from their glass prison. Before long, very few of them were moving at all. And some were starting to flip over on their backs. Something fishy was happening. In minutes, all ten of them were totally motionless. Uh oh. Somehow – I really did not know how – I had killed them. All of them. I was a terrible guppy dad.

What was I going to tell Emily? I tried to conjure up some elaborate fish story about the “ten that got away.” I had not fully formulated my lie, but I concluded our cat Boodles would figure into it. Since he lacked the ability to formulate words and gestures in his defense, he was the obvious patsy.

The first step was to hide the evidence by extracting the corpses from their watery graves and feeding them to Boodles (thus appeasing and framing our cat in one move). I put my hand into the tank… Whoa! The water was incredibly cold! Had I frozen the poor devils to death? What kind of monster was I?

As I stood over the tank, pondering how easy it would be to hide my crime, my mind leapt to cryonics – body freezing for future revival. “I wonder…” Maybe all was not lost. If they could be frozen, perhaps they could be unfrozen. I quickly poured out half of the cold water and replaced it with hot, making the overall mixture approximately room temperature. I held my breath….  Two agonizing minutes later, I spied a flicker. Then another. One by one, the once dead guppies were wiggling back to life. THEY’RE ALIVE! IT’S A MIRACLE! THEY’RE ALIVE!  The murderer had become the savior. Before long, all ten were happily zigging and zagging all around the tank – and of course, without a word of thanks to me for saving their lives.

I sometimes reflect back on that day and cringe about the near calamity I had caused. I had practically killed  these ten innocent young lives. Blood was almost on my hands. But in the end, I was able to save them all from an icy cold death. So, in a way, I actually was a hero. Now before you start posting congratulatory comments about how great I am for saving all those lives, just know that my heroism doesn’t make me a better person than you. (Okay, well, maybe just a little. Barely worth pointing out, if you ask me.)

[Footnote: In case you were curious about the photo at the top of this piece, it’s of some of the cast from Season 3 of the TV show, Survivor. I just always liked that show.]

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

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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