I am not a happy camper

I am not a happy camper

Camping - tentRecently I started worrying that my wife no longer loves me. No, I didn’t catch her with another man. And no, we didn’t have another nasty argument about the proper way to load a dishwasher. It was much more troubling. My wife actually said the three words I have long dreaded: “Let’s go camping.”

Why would any woman who claims to love her husband force him to endure a weekend in the wilderness with no access to ESPN Sports Center? My wife thought it would be fun if the two of us had a romantic getaway. I was envisioning a cozy B & B overlooking the ocean. Or maybe a posh resort / spa where we could get a couple’s massage, whatever that is.

But unbeknownst to me, my wife’s concept of a romantic getaway included physical and emotional torture – camping. When she first brought up the idea, naturally I thought she was kidding. When I realized she was serious, I apologized profusely for whatever I might have said or done to upset her. I even promised to do the dishes for a month. Turns out she wasn’t upset at all. She just really wanted to go camping.

So she booked us a campsite for a long weekend at some God-forsaken state campground deep in the wilderness beyond any cell phone range. The nearest carryout pizza was 50 miles away. I believe there is a term for being forced to sleep outdoors in the cold and wet, with no bathroom, no hot running water, and no bed to sleep on. It’s called being homeless. And when is the last time you heard a homeless person say to his buddy, “Hey, I have a great idea. Let’s go camping!” You never will, because they know that compared to their lifestyle, camping would be a step down.

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Are all teenage daughters evil? (Part one of a two-part post)

Are all teenage daughters evil? (Part one of a two-part post)

evil teenager - before and afterAre all teenage daughters evil?

It’s a question I have seriously wondered about many times ever since my daughters became teenagers. A research study recently reported that people with teenagers in the house are, statistically speaking, the least happy demographic group of all* (I am not making this up). Interestingly, disgruntled postal workers and prisoners in solitary confinement rank higher in their daily happiness quotient than the average parents of teenagers. Sadly, Melvin Zemmecki, a disgruntled postal worker in Newark, New Jersey, currently serving time in prison in solitary confinement and father of four teenage girls, has the dubious distinction of being rated the most unhappy human being in the USA.**

Not to toot my own horn, but I consider myself an expert in understanding the impact of parenting mistakes and communication failures. As a parent of two teenage daughters, I have the pleasure of witnessing two simultaneous cases of hormonally-induced multiple personality disorder on a daily basis. There are all sorts of theories as to why teenage girls tend to be so moody, angry, irritable, thoughtless, self-absorbed, lazy, disrespectful, emotionally distant, narcissistic, a giant pain in the ass, never EVER cleaning their damn rooms, would it kill you to put your dirty plate in the dishwasher just once, I tell you??!!!??…. um, I appear to have forgotten my point.

Oh yes. As I was saying, there are many theories to explain why teenage girls are often challenging and mercurial. Some experts attribute this to the flood of hormones surging through their bodies. Others speculate it’s about peer pressure. Some lay the blame at media for promoting an impossible-to-achieve perfect body image á la Taylor Swift. Some evidence points to the plethora of reality TV shows in which the most selfish, outlandish, nasty, back-stabbing behavior is often glorified and handsomely rewarded.

But I have a different theory: All teenage daughters are evil. Continue reading “Are all teenage daughters evil? (Part one of a two-part post)” »

Forgotten wedding vows – a wife’s rebuttal

Forgotten wedding vows – a wife’s rebuttal

[Disclaimer: To avoid any confusion and misunderstanding, the piece below was actually written in its entirety by me, Tim Jones, not by my wonderful wife, Michele. Just in case you were curious. She is far too mature and too nice a person to have written such a silly piece.]

[Note from the staff at VFTB: Last week Tim Jones wrote a piece called “Wedding vows I don’t remember making.”  This week, Tim’s wife Michele has requested equal time for a rebuttal. Tim is confident his wife’s piece was written with as much love and sensitivity as Tim displayed in his post.]

wedding vows - rebuttal - Tim and MicheleI read my husband Tim Jones’ post last week titled Wedding vows I don’t remember making. I love my husband very much, and when I say “love” I mean, I put up with him. Can I be honest? Being married to a humor writer is no picnic. It’s almost like living with an eleven year-old, except that I don’t want to belittle the maturity of any eleven year-olds out there.

I have so much to be thankful for, being married to you, my husband / man-child, these past 30 years. I want to thank you for:

… your never-ending concern that I might get over-heated on a winter’s night from having too many blankets covering me and your thoughtful habit of yanking all those blankets to your side of the bed in your “crocodile death roll” maneuver in your sleep.

… your willingness to educate me about defensive pass interference in football. Thank you for being so flexible about our television viewing options each evening too. You’re always so willing to let me choose, so long as it’s ESPN 1, ESPN 2, ESPN Classic, or whatever channel broadcasts the Lingerie Football League.

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Wedding vows I don’t remember making

Wedding vows I don’t remember making

wedding vows - wedding dayRecently my wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Wedding anniversaries are the day each year when millions of us husbands take time to show our wives just how much they mean to us, before we go back to complaining about them to our male friends the other 364 days. Today, I’m thinking about all the joy my wife has given me these past three decades. It’s the little things mostly, like when she gently reminds me for the fourth time that I forgot to take out the trash, or her endearing habit of nagging me about my weight whenever I reach for a donut, or her playful quips about how she’d be living in a far nicer house if only she had married that Mark Saperstein fellow.

I fondly recall that magical day when she and I walked down the aisle and both said, “I do.” I remember the vows we made to love, honor and cherish one another until one of us decides to kill the other. Admittedly, I was so lost in happiness that day that I may have forgotten a few details. Now, as I think back on our 30 years of wedded bliss, it seems that list of wedding vows must actually have been much more extensive. Here are some of the other vows I apparently made on that special day:

My dearest darling, I promise you, for as long as we both shall live…

…that I will respect you as my equal and never ask you to do a household chore that I would not be willing to do myself – with the addendum that I agree to killing all bugs like the icky spider in the bath tub, for that is a “man’s job” for which it’s perfectly reasonable to interrupt my Sunday afternoon nap even though you could have killed the damn bug simply by stepping on it with your shoe.

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A parent’s survival guide for when your college kid comes home for the holidays

A parent’s survival guide for when your college kid comes home for the holidays

college students visiting home - mom at airportRecently both of our daughters came home for the holiday break. Their return brought us a new set of parenting concerns. When kids go off to college, they suddenly consider themselves adults. They feel the old kids’ rules from their high school years no longer apply. So it can be stressful to know how to parent your almost-adult child now that they’ve concluded they no longer need to listen to a word you say. That’s why, in the most loving way possible, you should periodically remind them – roughly every two hours – about who is paying for their college and how you’d be delighted to spend that money on a Mediterranean cruise for yourself if they don’t clean up their act during their brief time home.

I would like to share my best parenting advice for how to get your kids to cooperate when they come home from college. I really would. But I can no more decipher the code for how to parent college-age kids than I can explain why some people pay $200 more for a cell phone custom-colorized to match their purse. But I will try to impart some wisdom just the same.

Challenge #1: The pit stop. Many parents experience the short-lived joy of welcoming their kids home for winter break only to become annoyed as their child vanishes seconds after their arrival, shouting, “Hi, Dad. Gotta go. Meeting Bridget to go shopping.”  It’s easy to feel like your kids are only using your house as a place to crash at night, but that’s not true. They are also using your house for the free food, free laundry service, and free use of your Lexus. Oh, and just in case you were wondering whether your child might be heading off to shop for a Christmas present for you – they’re not. They’re going shopping to swap out the color pattern on their swaggy new cell phone so that it can perfectly match their – well, you get the picture.

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