Teens, When Lying to Your Parents, You Need to Up Your Game

Teens, When Lying to Your Parents, You Need to Up Your Game

[The following true story is based on a time when a good friend of mine’s then 16-year-old daughter tried to wriggle out of several lies she told her parents about a “sleepover” at a friend’s house, which in actuality was a party with several boys and alcohol, while her friend’s parents were out of town for the evening, unaware of what was taking place at their house.]

Hey, teenagers, don’t you hate it when you make up a perfectly good lie to get out of trouble, and your parents refuse to believe you? Well, this just means you need to work on your prevarication skills. Either that, or you could try telling your parents the truth for once. Nah, forget it. That would never work.

Hey, teenagers, don’t you hate it when you make up a perfectly good lie to get out of trouble, and your parents refuse to believe you? Well, this just means you need to work on your prevarication skills. Either that, or you could try telling your parents the truth for once. Nah, forget it. That would never work.

Hey, girl. Wazzup? Sorry to hear your parents busted you over your harmless shindig last weekend at Monica’s house. I can’t believe they completely lost it just because you girls had a few boys join you for your sleepover while her parents were out of town.

You did absolutely nothing wrong – if you overlook the minor fact that you failed to mention that the get-together would include boys… and alcohol… and weed… and cops. It was all just an unfortunate misunderstanding. It could have happened to anybody.

Parents are so lame, right? With all their Nazi rules about showing them respect and cleaning your room and telling you to get off your phone even though you’ve only been on it for an hour and a half, and not letting you do sleepover parties with boys, beer pong, and weed. So unfair, I agree.

Hey, next time you plan to make up a fiction to conceal your plans for an epic underage beer bash, perhaps you should invest a little more time on your fake backstory to avoid getting caught. Let’s go over what happened, and just maybe, we can piece together where your deception went off the rails.

Before you headed out on your weekend of teenage debauchery, I liked the way you chose to compliment your parents, even though they probably found it a bit odd, given it was the first time you had said anything nice to them in ten months. But when you said, “Mom, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you look so pretty,” it might have come off sounding a tad bit more credible had you not told her this while she still had her hair in curlers and her face slathered in Noxzema skin cream. Just saying.

Then, when you were at Monica’s house, remember how your mom texted you, asking for her parents’ names and phone number in case of emergency? I applaud your fast thinking, given that Monica’s parents were in Chicago, 1,800 miles away, with no idea of the party you girls were instigating. But perhaps you shouldn’t have panicked and given your mom the phone number of your friend Chad, who was also at the party.

Who could have possibly foreseen that your mom might then call that very same phone number to ask Monica’s parents if they’d like her to bring a homemade dessert for the sleepover. Imagine your mom’s confusion when Chad, doing his best middle-aged dad impersonation, lowered his voice an octave and replied, “Nah, thanks, girl. But we’re chill. The girls are having a crazy’ lit’ time. Later, gator.”

Then, do you remember what happened when your mom asked Monica’s dad if there would be any alcohol served at this sleepover? Drawing a blank? Let me refresh your memory. Dad, er Chad, explained, “No way, mom. I made sure to lock up all the good stuff in the fridge.” Can you see how that might have elevated your mom’s anxiety ever so slightly?

Do you notice anything missing from this photo of a party of teenagers? If you guessed, “Where are the parents?”, you’re a winner. These underage kids are having a fun time chillaxing with 45 of their closest friends. If you ask me, they’re just having good clean fun – and perhaps just a little too much tequila.

Do you notice anything missing from this photo of a party of teenagers? If you guessed, “Where are the parents?”, you’re a winner. These underage kids are having a fun time chillaxing with 45 of their closest friends. If you ask me, they’re just having good clean fun – and perhaps just a little too much tequila.

Then barely twenty seconds after she got off the phone from Dad/Chad, she called you, remember? She asked you, “How old is Monica’s dad? He sounds rather young.” Then your brain misfired, and you blurted out, “Monica’s dad can’t talk now. He had to go to work.” 

If I have my notes correct, it was around 10:45pm when your mom shocked you by showing up at Monica’s house, because you had forgotten your sleeping bag. Imagine her dismay when she learned that apparently both parents had to leave the house suddenly for work emergencies – and would not, according to you, be home for another two hours.

If you ask me, it is entirely plausible that there might be a work emergency at 10:45pm on a Saturday night – especially for Monica’s dad, who is an accountant, not to mention for her stay-at-home mom. Like you, I would have been furious at your mom for not believing your lies. The fact that she feels she can’t trust you is totally her fault.

That’s about the time when your mom, walking through the front door, noticed that there were six boys on the premises. I think you almost had her convinced when you made up that narrative about how the entire group of them had just stopped by moments before, asking for help with their geometry homework. Too bad your mom could not hear your very believable explanation over the six 16-year-olds boys singing and dancing along to K-pop songs by BTS blaring on the karaoke machine at 160 decibels.

I also have to applaud your quick cerebration when your mom saw the beer keg on the back patio. I’m not sure I would have been as imaginative as you to come up with your almost convincing fabrication that Monica’s dad had bought it for a neighborhood block party later that week. I think your mom would have fallen for it, had it not been for your idiot friend Troy, who unwittingly approached her and said, and I quote, “Hey, you must be Monica’s mom. I thought you were in Chicago. Welcome back. Care for a brewski? Or are you more of a Tequila mom?” I understand now why Troy had to repeat 9th grade.

Where are the parents, you ask? On a weekend visit to Chicago. But don’t worry. Their 16-year-old daughter Monica promised them she’d just have a quiet sleepover with a couple friends. She’ll even vacuum the house. Such a responsible girl.

Where are the parents, you ask? On a weekend visit to Chicago. But don’t worry. Their 16-year-old daughter Monica promised them she’d just have a quiet sleepover with a couple friends. She’ll even vacuum the house. Such a responsible girl.

Still, I bet this would have all blown over, had it not been for the two cop cars that pulled up in response to a neighbor’s complaint about the ruckus. Who knew that police dogs could detect the smell of pot so quickly? Impressive. Too bad your mom didn’t buy your next anecdote about how you had no idea what it was and thought it was some sort of seasoning to add flavor to your salad. A valiant Hail Mary try, girl.

I’m relieved to hear the cops let all of you off with just a warning. But I’m sorry your parents have grounded you for two months. I guess that means you’ll miss the secret rave party at Jessica’s house next weekend – I mean, the all-nighter where just girls will all be working on that science fair team project. I hope your mom changes her mind. You might start by complimenting her on her cooking. Good luck.

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

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021

Does Anybody Need Mustard?

Does Anybody Need Mustard?

If you check out our pantry, you may notice we have no shortage of condiments. At last count, we had enough mustard to top 3 million hotdogs – the long ones.

If you check out our pantry, you may notice we have no shortage of condiments. At last count, we had enough mustard to top 3 million hotdogs – the long ones.

Quick question: Do you need any mustard? We’ve got tons to spare. That’s because while I do the grocery shopping, it’s my wife who makes up the grocery list. And there the problem starts. You’d think in making a shopping list one would check current inventory. Not my wife. Perhaps it’s a Canadian thing (she is from Toronto).

Hence, we currently have seven jars of mustard. In full disclosure, that’s just a guesstimate. There could be more hidden in the medicine cabinet or in my wife’s art supply closet. You see, my wife also takes charge of putting away the groceries, and she has a peculiar storage system.

Don’t get me wrong. My wife is wonderful, but she does fall short in a few areas – starting with her height of 5’0”. Not sure what my point was. Oh, now I remember. My wife’s organizational skills are roughly on par with those of a schnauzer.

Think of that cute dog with 10 bones. What’s he going to do with them all? Bury them around the yard, of course, never to be used because he forgot where he put them all. That’s my wife with a jar of capers. No, she doesn’t normally dig in the dirt, but I swear we have jars of capers buried in every closet. Far be it for me to suggest she place it neatly on the lower shelf of the pantry, next to the other five jars she forgot we had.

My spouse is equally gifted at not putting away her clothes and not loading the dishwasher, not to mention not emptying said dishwasher. But I digress. Back to mustard. We could fill a small swimming pool with all the Grey Poupon we have – if we had a swimming pool.

So, if you happen to need any Dijon, just text me. Happy to pass it along. I’ll even throw in some cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, and baked beans from our hefty cache. But order fast! We only have enough to get through the pandemic – if it continues until 2029. And if you want to serve soup to an intimate gathering of 130 guests, come peruse our stash of Campbell’s Chicken Vegetable. I’m pretty sure I got you covered.

I’m not sure when my wife began hoarding and hiding, but I found a clue on a mayonnaise jar that was stuffed behind 9 boxes of kitty litter. It read, “Use by June 1989.” Interesting. It turns out her affliction extends beyond food stuffs. I was housecleaning earlier today and discovered that we also have plenty of Windex, bath & tile cleaner, and cold medicine, enough to last well past my own expiration date (2050).

I’m half-tempted to deliberately catch a cold just to clear out some inventory. We also have a small mountain of post-it notes. I’m confident I could cover all four walls of our bedroom with them, floor to ceiling, and still have some left over. I think I’ll use a post-it note to tell her to stop buying so many post-it notes.

We could throw pillows out the window all day long and still have enough to supply our entire community. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. A few couples may need to share.

We could throw pillows out the window all day long and still have enough to supply our entire community. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. A few couples may need to share.

Thanks to my life partner of 33 years, we are the proud owners of enough Ziploc bags to pack lunches for the entire school district – K through 12. If I display the temerity to point out that perhaps we don’t actually need a seventh roll of aluminum foil, my wife will quickly change the subject, saying something random like, “Well, then. Care to explain why you feel we need five bags of grass seed and four bags of weed killer, which I found yesterday in the outdoor storage bin?” 

I have no clue what her point is. Besides, I think we’re drifting from the premise of this commentary, which is that my wife never checks how much stuff we have before adding it to the shopping list. Let’s stay focused here, okay?

My darling wife has also stockpiled an impressive supply of hair scissors, band aids, gauze, and stain remover – all in the laundry cupboard. I have no idea why she needs all this. My current theory is she’s planning on cutting me to ribbons in my sleep (scissors) for constantly nagging her about her excessive acquisitions; then, in a moment of regret, she will attempt to save me (gauze and bandages). After which, she will insist I clean up the blood (stain remover). It’s just a theory. There may be a different, more nefarious explanation.

Perhaps I should take over writing the shopping list and let my wife do the shopping instead. Fortunately, there’s an ACE Hardware next to the IGA grocery, so on her next trip she can swing by there and pick up a bag of grass seed and weed killer.  Make that two bags. I think we may be running low.

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

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021. Edited by Betsy Jones.

Twelve Teachers

Twelve Teachers

Top Row (L to R): My mom, my older brothers Bob and John Second Row: My sister Betsy, Bill Anderson, Steve Fisher Third Row: Dale Willman, Mark Gravel, Tim Fletcher Bottom Row: My elder daughter Rachel, my younger daughter Emily, and my wife and soulmate, Michele

Top Row (L to R): My mom, my older brothers Bob and John; Second Row: My sister Betsy, Bill Anderson, Steve Fisher; Third Row: Dale Willman, Mark Gravel, Tim Fletcher
Bottom Row: My elder daughter Rachel, my younger daughter Emily, and my wife and soulmate, Michele

Growing up, I had many dedicated teachers. A decades-belated thank you to Mrs. Perkins (4th grade), Mr. Nash (English), and General Verbeck (biology), and Mr. Vandenberg (Latin I, 2 and, thanks to my friend Steve Fisher, who knows what he did, Latin 3). My learning, however, did not end with my formal education. I have been blessed to have had many capable managers and mentors throughout my career. Thank you, Alan Horton, Jerry Parichy, Valerie Sanford, Chris Noble, and Cynthia Clay, to name a few.

As I look back over the past 65 years, I realize that some of the most impactful educators I’ve had have been family members and friends. There are twelve individuals who stand out as the most influential teachers in my life. This week’s column is about them.

My mom, Betty Clark (she remarried). At one month shy of turning 100 years old, she is, amazingly, still with us. A WW II veteran and mother of five, she endured a difficult marriage to a husband who suffered from serious, untreated mental illness and chronic anger management issues. She had the courage to leave this situation in an era when women did not seek divorce. Having not worked outside the home in 28 years, she set out to get a job and became a dietician at the VA. She reclaimed life by traveling to many countries, her favorite being Israel. Now in a nursing home, she rallies on, showing all around her that she still has a wit. She is always game for a good laugh – just check out her photo above, taken at age 97. People ask me, “Tim, why is it that you smile so much?” That’s simple. Thanks, mom.

Bob Jones. Our nine year age gap kept me from getting to know my oldest brother when I was young. But as I entered my career, we became re-acquainted by discussing career and life challenges. Bob became a “big brother” mentor to me and taught me the importance of understanding myself and my impact on others. From Bob, I learned to look for the positive in situations and people. As a result, throughout my career, I posted on my wall these words: “Catch them doing something right.”

John Jones. My second oldest brother, five years my senior, John was the All-American boy. Growing up, he was my role model. I wanted to be just like him. I still do. He is modest to a fault and has always been the rock of our family. When there was a crisis, John was the steady hand willing to intervene to calm the waters. Over time, I have come to appreciate how kind and caring a person John is – and funny. And he taught me to love sports and playing board games – I can’t forget about that!

Betsy Jones. I could write a book about my younger sister. She has been the editor of my blog these past 11 years. (I’ll be curious to see how she edits this description of her.) When we were little, because we were the two youngest, we became very close. She is the historian of my childhood, with a memory of details I had long forgotten. Nobody I know has endured more hardship and heartbreak than my sister. But every time she has been knocked down, she gets back up. Betsy is the most resilient person I have ever known – and one of funniest. She has an expanding universe of friends because like me, they see in her one of the most giving, selfless people you will ever find. [No edits. Thanks – Your editor] 

Bill Anderson. If you want to know why I sometimes (okay, usually) act like an 11-year-old, blame Bill. Bill is my oldest friend. We met in 4th grade because our dads were best friends. For the past five decades, Bill has reminded me of the importance of staying young at heart and not taking life too seriously. When we get together, we revert to high schoolers. Bill is a person of deep faith, and one of the most high-integrity people I have ever known. He has taught me, better than just about anyone else, the importance of working to maintain a close friendship, despite the physical distance between us most of our lives.

Steve Fisher. Some may ask where I developed my warped sense of humor. Look no further. Steve is the funniest person I have ever met. I launched this humor blog, in part, to honor him for teaching me how to make others laugh. We met in 7th grade and he has kept me howling with laughter ever since. Steve also taught me the meaning of courage. Ten years ago, he almost died from a devastating illness that left him with life-altering physical injuries. But through it all, he has demonstrated enormous courage and self-deprecating humor. Steve is my hero.

Dale Willman. Dale and I met early in our modeling careers. Yes, we were models, for a one-off fashion shoot, hired by a  mutual friend, for reasons neither of us will ever understand. Shortly after we met, my father died quite unexpectedly. Dale responded in a way that sealed our lifelong friendship: he came to the funeral. He turned out to be an unexpected source of strength that I leaned on in my time of grief. A journalist, Dale has worked and taught all over the world, and instilled in me the value of broadening my worldview. Like me, Dale has a small teddy bear called Grumpy that he takes to exotic places, although only my Grumpy has been to the North Pole (get over it, Dale).

Mark Gravel. I worked in the newspaper industry for 9 years and there is only one person I keep in touch with from that era: Mark. In addition to possessing a wickedly sharp sense of humor (he has co-written several of my humor articles), Mark loves doing surprises and practical jokes. But even more importantly, Mark exudes a genuineness, a kindness, and a deep desire to put the needs of others before himself. In the dictionary under the word “Gentleman” there should be a picture of Mark, for he truly is just that – even if he is Canadian, like my wife.

Tim Fletcher. I have always admired Tim’s first name. But beyond that, my soft-spoken friend is a remarkable dad. We became friends while working at an internet startup, When I was struggling with trying to unlock the mysteries of parenting my then teenage daughters, Tim repeatedly provided an understanding ear and wise counsel to help me become a better dad. For several years, Tim has grappled with a serious illness. But through it all, he has accepted his physical limitations with positivity, grace, and a stubborn refusal to be blocked from pursuing a full life.

Rachel Jones. From a young age, my elder daughter has demonstrated a strong independent streak. I will always remember when at four years of age, as I tried to help her, she insisted, “I do it myself, Daddy.” She became extremely self-reliant and responsible far beyond her age. Her sense of determination and her work ethic astound me, be it on the soccer field or pursuing her passion of becoming a nurse. Now 26 and a cardiology nurse, Rachel has matured into a confident, hardworking adult. Most inspiring is her deeply caring heart, for her patients, her family, and her cats (not sure in which order). She teaches me all the time what it means to put the needs of others before one’s own.

Emily Jones. When she was a teenager, she and her sister taught me the importance of patience in parenting. At 4’11” tall, Em has always been the shortest person in any group photo. But she’s never let that stop her from pursuing the highest of goals in life, and with a passion. She is fearless and doesn’t let obstacles deter her from her dreams. Extremely smart and resourceful, in college she once asked me, “Dad, do you know anybody at Space X?” Of course, I didn’t. Two days later, using just LinkedIn, she corralled an interview. A week later, Space X hired her in their elite intern program. Over the years, she has amazed me with her giving heart, often surprising my wife and me with the most extraordinary gifts out of the blue (including my very cool Space X shirt.)

Michele Rushworth. When we said our wedding vows, I told her, “I want to grow old with you.” Those words ring just as true 33 years later. I am proud of everything she has achieved with her art. She has helped to push me outside my comfort zone to try new things (even fish). A voracious reader, she has educated me about other cultures, history, and science. It was Michele who suggested we pursue international adoption. She had the idea for us to move to an island I had never heard of. And whatever I learned about being a caring, patient parent, I learned in great part from my best friend’s example. Our daughters could not have asked for a better mom. It has been a privilege and a joy to be growing old – that is, older – with my wife, Michele.

I have had many truly wonderful friends throughout my life, including many people who space constraints simply don’t permit me to mention. As I get older, I’ve learned that true wealth is measured not by the size of one’s bank account but by the number of meaningful friendships we have in life. On this scale, I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams. I owe a debt of gratitude I’ll never be able to repay to these twelve funny, kind, extraordinary teachers, and to others not mentioned (due to witness protection constraints). Thank you all.

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.

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

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.

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.

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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