In Life, My Wife Got Shortchanged

In Life, My Wife Got Shortchanged

Dear Reader,

This is a desperate plea for help. Not for me, mind you. For my wife, Michele. I don’t know how to put this delicately, but my wife suffers from VID – Vertical Impairment Disorder. She is barely 5 feet tall. And she has remained that height for as long as I’ve known her. I’m doubtful she’ll overcome her impairment any time soon. But I’m a patient husband.

Nobody knows for sure why God chose to punish her by making her so short. Perhaps her parents stopped feeding her when she reached 4’9”. Or maybe, given that she is from Canada, where nine months of the year they live in total darkness, she didn’t get enough sunlight.

Who knows why she is thus afflicted. I would ask her mom, who’s 5’1” or her dad, who’s 5’3”, but I doubt they can shed any light. One thing’s for sure: my wife is often overlooked – unless you look down – way down – to see her.

My heart aches because there is nothing I can do to help her grow to a normal adult height – through no lack of trying. For a while I suggested wearing 8-inch heels, but that was a total bust. I kept falling over. Then I suggested perhaps SHE should wear the high heels. But she had this utterly silly idea about accepting the way God made her. But I would not give up. I bought her a grow light. However, the only thing that’s sprouted so far is the ficus tree. One time I surprised her with a dousing of Miracle-Gro. While it’s done wonders for our house plants (you should see the ficus now!), the only part of my wife that grew was her ire. Actually, she did seem a tad taller when she shouted in my face to turn off the hose.

After several years of trying in vain to coax my wife to a respectable 5’5”, I concluded I was being terribly shortsighted. So, I’ve decided to accept her just the way she is. We are determined to still have a quality life together even though we may have to make a few height-restricted accommodations. For example, Michele can’t reach anything on the top kitchen shelf, so I often will stop watching TV to retrieve the fondue pot or maybe a tall vase for her. And I will do this gladly – unless the game is in overtime.

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Things My Father Taught Me

Things My Father Taught Me

My father was an extraordinary man. He was an attorney who won 99% of his cases. He played piano like a virtuoso even though he couldn’t read a note of music. He was extremely well-read. That is, I assume he was since we had a room the size of an apartment devoted to his book collection.

He also was a perfectionist with a serious case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I remember the time he admonished me for placing the tape dispenser in the drawer on its side rather than upright. I believe that was the moment my father realized that my education was sorely lacking. I was 15 at the time. For, in the years that followed, my father took it upon himself to teach me the “proper” way to handle many different challenges that life presented.

Let me explain with an example. Say you’re alone in the house and you hear a scary noise that sounds like it might be coming from inside the house. You’re in total darkness. Should you:

  1. Grab a crowbar for protection against a possible home invader.
  2. Yell loudly to scare away any wild animals that may have strayed into your house. Or…
  3. Use the back of your hand to switch on the light.

The correct answer, according to my father, was, of course, C. One should always flip on a light switch with the back of one’s hand. The reason is obvious – to a crazy person: To avoid leaving messy, oily finger prints on the light switch plate. Evidently, that should be your primary concern when you suspect burglars may be breaking into your house in the middle of the night.

My dad died in 1979. In the 24 years that I shared this planet with him, he taught me scores of similar life lessons. Most of these were things I thought I had mastered by the third grade. Apparently, I was wrong. I might be performing a mundane task, such as brushing my teeth, when I’d notice in the mirror that objects were closer than they appeared. Specifically, my father, who would be standing in the doorway, quietly studying my technique, shaking his head in dismay. He would then deliver a lengthy dissertation on the correct procedure for a routine that I was evidently still mangling after all these years.

If it weren’t for my dad, I never would have realized the cutlery hazards that awaited me at the dinner table. Do you know the proper way to put a spoon in your mouth? Is it:

  1. Open your mouth BEFORE inserting the spoon. Then close said mouth and suck in the food.
  2. Fill the spoon only halfway; gently insert the spoon into your mouth, avoiding a slurping sound. Or…
  3. A gentleman NEVER puts a spoon into his mouth. He brings it to his lips and gently tips the soup onto his palate without the spoon ever crossing the threshold of his lips. Where ARE your manners!?!

According to my father the correct answer is C. But technically there was no correct answer – because whatever I did, it would have been wrong. Because, my dear father was (how can I put it gently?) flippin’ crazy.

I have so many fond memories of those bonding moments with my dad. I even (surreptitiously) kept a list of every life skill he dadsplained to me: How to use a bottle opener; How to make toast; How to bite my tongue when he routinely insulted my intelligence. I gave my private list a snarky title: “Things My Father Taught Me.”

I feel morally obligated to pass this wisdom onto you, my readers, so that you too may prepare your children for the harsh world that awaits them.

Thank you, dad, for teaching me:

How to water a plant

How to toss something into a trash can

How to lift a suitcase

How to unpack a suitcase efficiently (I didn’t know that was a thing)

How to adjust the angle of a table lamp for optimal reading lighting

How to dry dishes

How to walk properly

How to chew food properly

How to hang a shirt on a hanger (don’t forget to button the collar button and the third button down)

How to open a shower curtain

How to fold a towel and put it on a towel rack (make sure the width at the top is the same as the bottom)

How to hold a sharp knife (this would have come in handy, had I opted to pursue a career as a mugger)

How to close a door behind me

How to buy low and sell high (I really should have paid closer attention to that lesson)

How to pour soda into a glass

How to hide the body and not leave prints (Okay, I made that one up. Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention)

How to hold the steering wheel (always at 11 and 1, never 10 & 2. My Driver’s Ed instructor was apparently a charlatan)

How to sit at a table (your back should NEVER touch the back of the chair)

How to say hello properly when answering the phone

How to dial a rotary phone (Always use your middle finger. To this day, I still use my middle finger for all sorts of situations.)

And yes, the proper position of a scotch tape dispenser when placed back in a drawer: upright.

One day, my father discovered my incriminating list hidden in my bottom dresser drawer, underneath my pajamas. Surprisingly, he did not take it as a tribute. Go figure. On that very memorable occasion, he taught me another valuable life lesson: Never hide in your pajama drawer something you don’t want your crazed father to find.

As misguided as his lessons were, I know my dad meant well. I think about that list every now and then. Occasionally, it makes me cringe slightly – usually at the moment I catch myself telling my 21-year-old daughter the proper way to hold the steering wheel.

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 Betsy Jones, View from the Bleachers 2017 (Betsy Jones is my sister and my editor. In fairness, she actually re-wrote most of this piece).

A Parent’s Commencement Address to His College Graduates

A Parent’s Commencement Address to His College Graduates

[Author’s Note: Both of my daughters graduated from college this year. This is my commencement address to them on reaching this important milestone in life.]

Today marks the official start of your lives as college graduates. Don’t think of this as the date when your parents stopped paying for your cell phone plan and car insurance. Think of it as a new beginning when you discover the joys of balancing your own checkbook and deciding whether to spend your money on rent or the latest designer dress.

This day calls to mind my favorite Latin quote: Tibi gratias ago Deo et non ex se ad replete FAFSA forma. Translation: “Thank God, I won’t have to fill out another FAFSA application.”

As you move through life, you’ll encounter people who you’ll feel are treating you unfairly – most notably your parents. But we are only doing this to help you in the long run – unless we’re just trying to yank your chain. However, I still stand by my rule about not leaving your curling irons on your bed and plugged in when you headed off to middle school each day. I apologize for letting my selfish desire to prevent our house from burning down interfere with your hairstyle fashion sense.

You have both accomplished so much. Emily, I’m not just talking about how you managed to stay awake through your 8am accounting class sophomore year – although, kudos on that impressive feat. I never could have done it.

It seems like just yesterday that you entered college with no idea what you wanted to do with the rest of your lives. Just four years later, you’ve already narrowed it down to “no job that requires operating a fork lift.” 

You’ve both matured in so many ways – from the quality of your tattoo selections to your taste in men. Aren’t you glad you didn’t elope with Stoner Steve when you were a freshman, Rachel? I am so proud – and relieved.

Now it’s time to give back. You can begin by giving back the camping gear you never used.

My advice to you is to look for a career that will stoke your passion. Rachel, you considered career options at a very early age. At age seven you declared you wanted to be the world’s first ballerina-astronaut-fireman-kitty cat petter. If you still wish to pursue this, I believe in you. But don’t discount too quickly your other passion of becoming a cardiology nurse as a fallback, if the fireman-cat thing doesn’t pan out.

As for how to pursue a successful career, perhaps the best advice I can give you is to study the many decisions your father made to further his career – then do exactly the opposite. I’d hate for either of you to look back at life when you’re my age, facing the stark reality that your career peaked at age 27 and you ended up throwing away your dreams to pursue the life of a humor writer. It still keeps your mom up at night.

Don’t hold back on pursuing your goals due to fears or anxieties. Press forward in spite of them – like you did so boldly, Emily, when at age six you overcame your fear of scissors by cutting off all your hair. For months afterward, people kept asking why we never mentioned that we had a son.

As you move through life, do not judge others too harshly – the way you concluded by age nine that I was the lamest, worst dad in the entire world. Now that you’re mature adults, I think we can all agree that Allison’s dad would hold that distinction.

Be careful with how you spend your money. Be sure to set aside at least 10% of your income for long-term savings. And remember this important investment advice: BUY LOW. SELL HIGH. It took your father far too many decades to realize it wasn’t the other way around.

Pay attention to those for whom life may not have shined so brightly as it has for you. While loaning a sorority sister your fake ID so she can buy beer may have seemed like a giving gesture at the time, perhaps you can stretch a little further in the future by helping others with slightly more pressing problems. Here’s a thought: you could donate your out-of-style Lululemon collection.to the nation of Burkina Faso. I’m sure you have enough to clothe at least half the population.

On this momentous occasion, I implore you to seek your destiny – unless you think your destiny involves joining the circus. As you look ahead to your future, ask yourself these important questions:

  • How can you make a positive impact on the world?
  • What can you do with your life that will make you want to get out of bed each day?
  • Where can you find a one-bedroom apartment for under $1,000 a month – because no, you can’t move back home to avoid paying rent. Besides, your bedroom has been converted into my man cave.

As your father, I want to thank you for the many life lessons each of you has taught me – like the importance of patience – and learning not to say the first thing that popped into my head when Rachel hosed down the family room (because “the pillows needed a bath”) or when Emily took a Sharpie to draw a giant mural of flowers on the living room wall (“I’m an artist – just like Mommy!”).

And now you’re all grown up. How did that happen so quickly? My little “angel monsters” have blossomed into two amazing, self-confident, and determined young adults. Now follow your dream – just so long as it doesn’t include asking anyone if they want fries with their order.

In closing, my counsel to you both is always to look at life with a grateful heart. I am deeply grateful for the joy each of you has given me as your dad. When you were young, every night at bedtime, when I would tuck you in, I’d kiss you on your foreheads and tell you: “I love you to the universe and back.” I still feel that way. Thank you for two decades of bedtime stories, soccer practices, gym meets, and butterfly kisses.

Congratulations, college graduates. Your mom and I are enormously proud of the people you’ve become. It’s your turn now. The world is your oyster. It’s up to you to figure out what that means – because I have no clue.

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 2017

How to (Almost) Kill Kittens Without Really Trying

How to (Almost) Kill Kittens Without Really Trying

Let me set the record straight: I love kittens – and cats of all ages and breeds – with the exception of Persians (I just don’t trust those shifty little eyes). My wife and I have had cats (or more accurately, cats have had us) throughout our entire marriage.

We even foster kittens to help get them used to being around people. We feed them, cuddle with them and play with them for six to ten weeks, until they’re ready to be adopted. It’s how we ended up with our two current cats, Zippy and Buddy, neither of whom, as best as I can tell, fear that I’ll try to murder them in their sleep.

I’ve never once thought about trying to snuff out any of our feline friends – okay, maybe I harbored a few nefarious thoughts when Patches peed on me, but that’s the only time – unless you count when Monster ran off with my digital watch and I later found it in the toilet.

With those very few exceptions – and maybe five or six others – I’ve rarely contemplated putting out a contract on any of our cats. But if I had plotted their demise, I could not have come up with a more fool-proof plan than the one we accidentally set in motion last week – one that almost drowned and / or electrocuted five adorable kittens and their mom.

Let me start at the very beginning…

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My Confession to My Readers

My Confession to My Readers

Confession to my readersLately, I’ve been carrying a heavy burden that I need to get off my chest. There are many things I feel guilty about, and I just have to come clean about them to my loyal readers – all eleven of you. In the spirit of Stephen Colbert’s Midnight Confessions, I have decided to make my own public confessions to all who care to listen.

[NOTE: Before reading my heartfelt confessions below, please turn up the volume of your speakers, then click on this link, skip past the commercial and wait about four seconds, after which you’ll hear some appropriate background confessional music. Then return to this page to read my confessions. God bless you, my friend.] 

Dear reader,

Sometimes I can be a bit lazy. Like when my wife asks me to clean the sheets of the guest bedroom after our most recent visitors have left, I will say “Absolutely, honey” but then I’ll simply pull the bed covers over the sheets without changing them.

Sometimes I will tell my neighbor that his lawn looks great, when secretly, deep down in my heart, I know it doesn’t. It really needs to be weeded.

I’m not proud of this, but recently, when I played golf with my buddies, I told the guy keeping score that I got an 9 on the par-3 eleventh hole, when really I got a 10.

When donating food to the homeless, there have been times when instead of putting the Girl Scout Thin Mints cookies in the donation bag, I’ll put in graham crackers. Because I don’t particularly care for graham crackers – unless they’re the cinnamon ones, in which case I’ll probably keep them, too.

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The Very Happy Story of Snowball and MooMoo

The Very Happy Story of Snowball and MooMoo

This is the story of Snowball and MooMoo, two very, very happy kittens. At first, they weren’t very happy at all. No, they were scared. And cold – because they were born one November morning in a forest with nobody to love them. Their mommy had left them and never returned. Poor kitties. So, they were all alone and wishing that someone would take them home and play with them.

Then something wonderful happened. A nice lady found them and took them to a building called an animal shelter, where lots of other lonely kittens were living. They made lots of new friends. And they were fed and cleaned and had a good time. But they spent most of their time in a small metal room called a cage. They did not like living in a cage one bit.

A couple weeks went by and then another wonderful thing happened. A nice man came to the shelter and offered to foster them for a few weeks until they found a permanent home. And in less time than it takes a kitty to crush a mouse’s skull, they had a new home with the nice man. He named them Snowball and MooMoo – because one was snowy white, while the other was black and white, just like a Holstein cow. The nice man was very good at coming up with lame kitty cat names.

At first, Snowball and MooMoo stayed in a small room with a tile floor and a sink. There was this big box filled with what looked like sand, only rougher. It looked kind of scary, so they made sure to always avoid it. When they had to go poop or pee, they just went in a corner or in the sink – anywhere other than that scary box with the scratchy sand.

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