Recently 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” »
America is the greatest melting pot on earth, welcoming people of all backgrounds and beliefs. It does not matter if you’re black or white, Christian or Jew, tall or short, young or old, wealthy or poor. And all of these groups have something in common: None of them has any shortage of idiots.
Based on my extensive research on the explosive growth of knuckleheads in our country, I’ve concluded that our great nation leads the world in idiots per capita. If you don’t believe we live in a nation of nitwits, how else can you explain some of the warning labels our manufacturers feel compelled to put on their products?
For example, there is actually a warning label on an iPod shuffle that reads, and I quote: “Do not eat iPod Shuffle.” (Honest to God.) I, for one, am so glad they added that warning because, I was just about to spread jam on mine and eat it with scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.
In fairness, companies are only adding these product warning labels because they don’t want to get sued for millions in bogus liability lawsuits, as might happen if, say, a large gathering of people came together for an iPod Shuffle pot luck dinner party and failed to heed this important safety warning. God knows how many panicked trips to the emergency room this warning has helped to avoid over the last decade. I’m guessing zero (but I am just rounding).
The more research I’ve done on warning labels, the more I’ve become convinced that half the people in this country probably should not be allowed to use electrical appliances of any kind – or vote – or date my daughters. Here is a tiny sampling of actual warning labels for the American consumer (I swear I am not making any of this up):
On an iron: Caution: Do not iron while wearing article of clothing. I will remind my wife the next time she irons my dress shirt that she needs to do it in the nude – because I worry about her safety. (Why is my wife doing my ironing? That’s a blog for another day). Continue reading “WARNING: IMPROPER USE OF THIS PRODUCT COULD INDICATE YOU’RE AN IDIOT” »
Last weekend I did something new and different. I tried a new adventure called an Escape Room. For the uninitiated, escape rooms are the latest fad activity in which they lock 8 to 14 people in a room. The group is given clues and puzzles to solve in order to make their escape. I’m a puzzle person. Sounded like a fun outing.
I invited thirteen of my closest, soon-to-be-ex-friends to join me. The theme of our escape room was Jules Verne’s classic novel, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Our mission: Find the key to escape before our submarine, the Nautilus, ran out of air.
Being a natural-born leader, I assumed the part of legendary Captain Nemo and immediately took charge of this mission. I’m not sure precisely when the mutiny began. It might have been when I ordered my crew to report every five minutes with any new clues they had unearthed. Or maybe it was when I ordered them to swab the decks. Group morale is such a touchy thing.
Turns out escaping from an escape room is an extremely difficult challenge. We had to solve a myriad of puzzles to unlock boxes, only to find inside even more enigmatic puzzles. As the Captain, I quickly came to two important realizations: 1) getting out of this escape room was going to require enormous brain power and concentration, and 2) I did not bring nearly enough money to bribe the staff to tell me what the clues meant.
Continue reading “Mission Impossible: My brave escape from an Escape Room” »
Halloween was a special time for me and my girls. Here they are at ages 3 and 2, as a Kitty Cat and a Lady Bug. It would be 7 more years before they’d ask if they could dress up like Lady Gaga and Naughty Nurse. Sigh.
It was a dark and stormy Halloween night. My two young daughters, Rachel and Emmy, could not wait to get started. Earlier that week I’d spent an evening helping them come up with their costumes. Emmy could not decide between a fairy princess or Barney the dinosaur or Hello Kitty. So naturally, the only solution was Barney the Hello Kitty dinosaur princess. Whatever makes you happy, my little angel, I mean, dinosaur kitty princess.
Rachel’s outfit was easier. She insisted on being Harry Potter wearing an invisibility cloak. So I drew a lightning bolt on her forehead, put a sliver of duct tape on a pair of my black-framed glasses and found a blanket to which I affixed a big sign that read: INVISIBILITY CLOAK. YOU CAN’T SEE ME!
The girls kept asking, “Daddy, when can we go trick or treating?” To which I would respond, “It’s only Wednesday. Halloween is not for another three days. Be patient.” This went on every few hours until the big day, at which point, the incessant questioning accelerated to every 5 minutes.
Finally it was time for the main event. They looked so cute – Emmy in her princess tiara, sparkly gloves and Cinderella flowing gown, with the matching kitty ears, whiskers and a long purple dinosaur tail. Meanwhile Rachel was almost completely hidden underneath her Mighty Morphin Power Rangers invisibility blanket. Of course, once we ventured out into the 42-degree drizzling weather, it was actually hard to make out their costumes beneath their winter coats and Thomas the Tank Engine galoshes.
Everywhere I looked, there were pirates, super heroes, princesses and scary monsters – some of them in strollers – all in search of one thing: SUGAR! As soon as Emmy noticed all the other kids racing ahead for the same candy she was after, she started to panic, fearing all the good stuff would be gone by the time we got to the door, and people would be handing out pennies – or worse yet, toothbrushes. Like every year, we came upon a house with a sign next to a large wicker basket that read, “Please, take just one.” It was empty – of course. The time was 4:57 pm.
My girls rushed from door to door for what felt like three hours, but a check of my watch told me it had only been 35 minutes. It occurred to me that they might as well rename this Holiday “Disney’s Halloween”, because, as I looked around, it seemed that every girl under the age of eight was either Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Ariel from Little Mermaid, Jasmine from Aladdin, or Pocahontas. Although now that I think of it, there was that one seven-year-old girl dressed as a Zombie Princess / Egyptian Mummy carrying what looked to be a dead snake and a hula hoop. Not sure what her parents were thinking.
As we went from house to house, Rachel kept asking me to walk further away from her. She was only eight, but already she was embarrassed to be seen with her dad. I agreed to stay at the sidewalk while she took her sister by the hand to each door. Emmy got up the nerve to bravely demand, “Tick or Teat.” (She had not quite mastered the concept of the letter “R” yet.)
I looked at my watch again – and at their sagging, over-stuffed pillow cases. It was almost 7:30 pm. Over howling protests about me being a mean daddy – and their claims that all their friends’ parents let them stay out till dawn to trick or treat – I finally bribed them by promising not to eat all their candy after they went to sleep, if they agreed to come home now.
Then came the most important part of Halloween: The trade negotiations. Rachel and Emmy spent the next hour trying to outmaneuver their opponent.
Emmy: I’ll give you a Necco Wafers AND a Smarties for your Twix.
Rachel: Are you nuts? I’ll give you a box of Nerds if you give me your Nestlé Crunch.
Emmy: No way! My Nestlé Crunch is twice the size of that box of Nerds. I’ll give you all the candy corn in my bag for two Butterfinger bars.
Rachel: Nope. I’ll give you this box of Junior Mints for your Kit Kat Bar.
Emmy: Are you insane?
It went on like this for quite some time. In the end, I believe the only trade actually made was two pieces of bubble gum for a tootsie pop.
After they were asleep in their beds, I did what any loving father would do. I pilfered through their haul to collect my Dad Tax – you know, my fair payment for having spent almost three hours standing guard 30 feet away at the sidewalk when I could have been home watching the game. I doubt they’ll miss a couple boxes of Milk Duds or that Clark Bar. And don’t worry. I didn’t touch their Kit Kat or Twix bars. I would never do something so cruel. I settled for an Almond Joy because Emmy didn’t like coconut.
The next morning, I woke up to see my kids having breakfast together. Quietly. Calmly. No fighting. No name calling. I couldn’t believe my eyes. And then it became clear. They were too busy stuffing their pie holes with Gummy Bears and Reese’s Pieces.
I thought about intervening and shouting something about getting a healthy breakfast. And then I thought, why ruin this rare moment of tranquility. Emmy even gave me a Kit Kat bar (I think she stole it from Rachel) and invited me to join them. That breakfast with my two kids, scarfing down all that candy – yeah, that was the best breakfast I’d had in a long, long time.
Happy Halloween, everybody.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2015
Yum, Yum. Look at this crab pot filled with so many mouth-watering Dungeness Crabs. At the grocery store, it can cost up to $9 a pound. That’s pretty darn expensive. Save money by doing it yourself. All you need is a $3,000 boat and $500 in crab pots, rope and buoys.
Not long ago, my wife and I moved to Camano Island, a tranquil, semi-rural community with lots of retirees. People here love four things: God, country, family and crabbing – but if they could only pick one, for sure it would have to be crabbing. People here are seriously into this activity. Just how serious? As you arrive on Camano Island, you’re greeted by a giant metal crab sculpture. The local newspaper is called The Crab Cracker. And if you confide in someone, “I’ve got crabs”, they won’t recoil in disgust. They’ll reply with, “Fantastic! Mind giving me some?”
Having lived here for two years, I’d never bothered to find out what all the fuss was about. But after relentless pressure from neighbors whose constant nagging included questioning my patriotism, in the end I caved. Last week I finally went crabbing.
Most “crabbers” own their own crab boat and equipment. To get started you need the following essentials:
- A motorboat – or if you’re cheap, then a rowboat
- At least one, and ideally two or three crab pots
- A buoy marker and approximately 100 feet of rope for each crab pot
- Bait – typically chicken or turkey legs, or if you’re in a pinch, Lifesavers candies – the crabs grab onto the little hole in the middle and get stuck. Let me know how that works, dude. (This last bait option should only be used if you’re a complete idiot.)
- A case of beer, to dull your senses and help you forget about what in the hell possessed you to take a rowboat instead of a motorboat with 25 mph headwinds out there
- A sharp knife to kill your small crustacean victims in cold blood – or to take your own life if you have rowed out too far and you suddenly realize you’ll never make it back to shore before nightfall
Continue reading “How I Got Crabs” »