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Friday, July 27, 2012

Funny Guy Friday… Opposite Day...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So… I married a funny guy.
     Do you remember when you were a kid and you would have Opposite Day? These were days when up was down and no meant yes. I think that my wife played this little game yesterday.
     She called me at work and advised that a friend of our 12-year-old son Matthew had invited him to go to the movies. Cheryl is, of course, famous for her refusal to let the kids see any movie that is objectionable in any way, shape, or form.
     As I have written before, she checks all movies out on a website that I have dubbed www.youcan' I am aware of her strict standards; the kids are aware of her strict standards; our kids' friends are aware of her strict standards; and our kids' friends' parents are aware of her strict standards. I think kids ask Matthew to go to the movies just to settle wagers.
     Hey mom, how much you wanna to bet that Matthew's mom won't let him go see the movie Cars 2?
     Are you serious, of course she will, it's a cartoon for goodness sakes. Okay, the loser has to clean the winner's bedroom for a week! Call them and let's see. 
     If you had Cheryl refusing to allow the kids to see Cars 2, your mom is vacuuming your room as we speak.
     The first Cars was great. Cars 2 is a heap of corporate-America-big-oil-is-evil/anti-American indoctrination. The answer is no.
     I asked Cheryl what movie that they had invited him to see this time, and she told me it was The Dark Knight Rises. I laughed and thought to myself, poor Matthew, he never gets to go see any of the new releases. Then, to my complete shock and amazement, she said that she told him that yes, he could go.
     Hell had just frozen over.
     Hello, Mr. Maher, this is the Devil. Yeah, I won't be able to hang out with you again today because I just hit an iceberg and am running a bit late. Don't worry though, I will be around again tomorrow.
     I could not believe it, and I was not the only one. Matthew excitedly recreated the whole episode when I got home......
     Craig called and asked if I could go see The Dark Knight Rises, and I got all bummed out because I knew mom was going to say no way. I went and asked mom, and she said, sure, you can go. I was like, "What? Really? No way!" Then I went and told Craig that I could go and he was like, "What? Really? No way!" Then Craig hollered out to his mom that I could go and she was like, "What? Really? No way!" Then she said something that I did not understand. She said, "YES, I won, I won, I won… Craig, you go clean my room right now!"

     But that was only the beginning of Opposite Day.
     I was talking to Cheryl on my drive home, and she told me that she was taking our daughter Gracie to go clothes shopping… and I quote… "because she never asks for anything." Seriously? Grace asks for everything! This was an actual conversation that we recently had:
      Dad, can I go to Houston to visit with my cousin Katherine for a month?
      No, you cannot. Katherine just left to go back to Houston and we have a retreat next weekend. Plus, you are not going away for a month. 
      Well, can I go for a week, then fly home and go to the retreat, and then fly back to Houston for two more weeks?
      No, you may not. 
      Will you buy me a car?
      You don't even have a license yet! 
      When I get my license will you buy me a Mustang?
      I don't get anything.  

     I cannot blame Grace; she is a sixteen-year-old girl and asking for everything is just the nature of the beast. She does, however, have it down to an art form. She shoots for the moon (Mustang) and she settles for a trip to JC Penney for some new girlie things.
     But that was not the end of Opposite Day.
     Our 7-year-old, Noah, walked into the room and told us he had a new joke. Great, we love Noah's little jokes. He then proceeded to tell the following joke:
     A pirate walked into a bar with a steering wheel in his pants. The bartender asked, "Do you know that you have a steering wheel in your pants?" The pirate replied, "Yeah, I know, it drives me nuts, aarrrrrr!"
     After my initial laughter, I determined that Noah may not have understood that joke, so I decided to tell him that he may not want to tell that joke to Grandma and Grammie. In fact, he may not want to tell that joke to anybody but us. Before I could give him my good fatherly advice, Cheryl jumped in and told Noah, "You have to tell that joke to our baseball friends!"
     Two thoughts crossed my mind. First, when did I become the responsible parent? The answer, of course is… on Opposite Day. Second, maybe Cheryl did not understand the joke either.
     What was going on around here? Up was down… in was out… and no meant yes.
     Okay, so it was Opposite Day... how could I take advantage of this?
     I came up with a brilliant plan. Before we went to bed, I told Cheryl that I was going to do some laundry, clean the kitchen, and then give her a nice massage. I was sure that she would tell me that she would do the laundry, clean the kitchen, and give me a nice massage.
     Needless to say Opposite Day must only apply to our kids. She accepted my offer and told me she would be ready for her massage when I came upstairs.
     I said, What the heck... today is Opposite Day!
     She countered, I know, I know… I assumed that that is why you volunteered to do all those nice things.
     Oh well, when I got back to bed, she was fast asleep. That's when I knew it. Opposite Day was officially over.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Funny Guy Friday… Something old, something new...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark.  So, I married a funny guy.
     My nephew is getting married this weekend. Weddings are always great events in our family. We operate on the theories that bigger is better and the more the merrier. Picture the opening scene from the Godfather movie but without anybody ordering a hit.
     This coming weekend has me thinking about family weddings and of our own wedding more than twenty years ago. The nephew that is getting married was our ring bearer. I remember him coming down the aisle in his little tux, with the sweetest crew cut.  He and his younger brother were fighting over who was going to dance with our flower girl, who happened to be their cousin. Kind of cute, in a creepy, yucky, fall-in-love-with-your-cousin kind of way.
     That same flower girl is expecting her first child in the next few weeks. I am happy to report that she married a young man with whom she shares no DNA.
     I am the youngest of six kids and the last to have gotten married in our family. Cheryl was the middle of five kids and the first to have gotten married in her family. I remember meeting with her mom to go over the guest list. The place where we held our reception only held 220 people. That may seem like a lot of people for a wedding but if we had only invited my immediate family, we would have already had more than forty people. That did not include aunts, uncles, cousins or friends. We knew space was going to be tight.
    Cheryl's mother asked what the age cut off was for the wedding and I replied birth to twenty, the age of my oldest niece. Some of my fondest memories as a kid were of family weddings. My future mother-in-law was concerned because she had sung at several weddings and there had been times when kids had misbehaved and ruined weddings.
     Oh yeah, well I have been to weddings where singers have misbehaved and they are the ones that ruined weddings… I trust my brothers and sisters to take their kids out if they misbehave. Now that she has grandkids of her own, she wouldn't dream of leaving them out.
     We invited well over 220 people (kids included) with the knowledge that there would be several people who would not be able to come. In my opinion, the guests that don't come but still send a gift are the best guests of all. When all was said and done, we were at our maximum capacity of 220… and then my aunt showed up from Colorado with two of her grandchildren. That was 222, and that would have put us two over the Fire Marshall's limit.    
     I told my dad that he had to tell his sister, my Aunt Josie, that her grandkids were not going to be able to come to the reception. He assured me that he would take care of it. Imagine my shock when Aunt Josie and the grandkids showed up at the reception. So, there I was, twenty-eight years old, on my wedding day, and I had to tell my dad to "man-up" and get rid of those two. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to find two more chairs.
     There was no way I was going to take orders on my wedding day, even if they were from my dad. It was on that day that I decided that I would adopt a new policy when it came to taking orders that I did not want to take. Yes, it was on that day that my life changed in many ways. I decided that I was going to be the one in control. From that day forward, whenever someone gave me an order to do something that I did not want to do……I'd get Cheryl to do it!
     Now my nephew has his own personal assistant, er, uh wife, that will be welcomed into the family. She is a beautiful girl who always seems to be upbeat. She was a cheerleader in college and I think her smile is tattooed on her face. Her positive personality is nice but what I like best about her is that she can run and she can catch. She will definitely be a number one draft pick in the family Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl.
     Obviously, this is not the first niece or nephew to get married. Three years ago, we went to Orlando, Florida for another family wedding. The wedding was great but the real excitement was in the local hospital. Our youngest complained of severe stomach pains. Not unusual for a five year old but what was unusual was the fact that he was moaning and groaning in his sleep. Fearing a burst appendix, we rushed him to the emergency room.  After a thorough exam, much to my chagrin, the doctor advised he needed an enema. We refer this as the thousand dollar poop! Quite an expensive move, if you catch my drift.
     The most notorious family wedding story really did not involve a wedding at all but a long ago bachelor party. I will preface this story by pointing out that I come from a long line of tea totalers. To this day, I drink beer that tastes like anything but beer. My favorite beer is closer to a wine cooler than a beer. But wine coolers are for women. Fruity beers are for, are for…...well at least it isn't a wine cooler.
     Anyway, my brother was getting married on a Saturday and his buddies planned his bachelor party for Friday night…….mistake number one.
     We ended up at a local bar and they ordered shots of whiskey…….mistake number two.
At the time, I was only sixteen years old and was not a big whiskey drinker…..and I don't think they make a fruity whiskey…... so after the first one, I passed the next two onto my brother, Paul…….mistake number three. You remember Paul… the favorite son, the free spirit, the future Lutheran minister, yeah that Paul.
     As the night progressed, my father and brother-in-law Butch ended up at the bar. Butch looks like every other Butch that you have ever met……big and "Herman Munster" strong. Well, somehow Paul ended up getting beat up in the men's room and the next thing you know, Butch was carrying him out of the bar.
    Okay, okay, okay…..Paul did not get beat up; he passed out in the men's room. You see the only thing that my brothers and I did less than drink was fight. We were very adept at talking our way out of trouble. But getting beat up sounds so much tougher than passing out. Anyway, Paul met his match in that bathroom floor.  My dad and Butch took him home.
     Upon their arrival, they found my brother, the groom, passed out on the front yard……mistake number, number, number, I am losing count, suffice it is to say, there were a lot of mistakes made that night.
     You see, my brother's friends were cowards and they refused to knock on the front door and incur the wrath of my mother. My mother is five foot nothing, but tough as nails. Do you remember the Flintstones when Fred would yell and the roof of the house would rise up above the rest of the house? That was our house when my mom blew up.
     If you are paying attention, you may have noticed that my brothers had left the bar, my father had left the bar, my brother-in-law had left the bar and my brother's friends had left the bar. Let's see, who was left at the bar? That's right... that would have been me.
    It was about 1 a.m. and the waitress was concerned about who was going to pay the very hefty bill. She approached me and asked me if I had $210. I told her that I had half of that…..I had $10. She then asked me if I had any ID. Mind you, she had just hours earlier served me whiskey. I confidently told her that I had good news and bad news. The good news was that I did have ID; the bad news was that it said that I was only sixteen.
     She was panicky so I assured her that someone had to come back and pick me up. Unfortunately, that person was my dad. My poor dad arrived near the end of the night, watched as one son got carried out of the bar, had to pick up another son off of the front yard, and then had to pick up another son who was left all by his sixteen year old self. That was all bad, but the worst thing for my dad was that he got stuck with the $210 bill…..Ouch, tough night!
     As we drove home, I was told that I had to walk in the house without any help because my mother was going to flip if I had to be carried into the house. No problem. I walked in and took out my contact lenses and went straight to a cot and fell face first directly down onto the carpet that was right next to the cot. Suffice to say, it was a rough night.
     The wedding was anticlimactic. The bride was cheerful and happy right up until she saw the groom. Let's just say the story gets better the farther you get away from the event.      
     So, now my twenty-three nieces and nephews are getting married and having kids. My mother already has seventeen great-grandkids. I am sure that we will be getting plenty of invitations to weddings in the coming years. I look forward to each and every one. In fact, I can't wait until one of my nephews invites me to his wedding and I show up with two uninvited grandkids of my own. I am sure that they will not be turned away and my nephew's new bride will do what all new brides do when our family shows up…..she will find two more chairs.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Funny Guy Friday…..Home Alone

    My sister Michel(a) drove in from Houston on Friday. She spent the night at my mother's home and on Saturday stopped by our house on her way to a week long vacation in Ocean City, Maryland.  While she was at our house, she decided to grab a few things for her trip……things like my daughter Grace, my Honda Pilot and my keys to our condominium in, you guessed it, Ocean City, Maryland.
    No problem, I hope she has a good time and although I will miss my daughter and want to visit with my sister, I know that they will all be back home in one week and we will have time to visit then. Besides, Cheryl and the boys are home and I will have stuff to do with them.  Matthew has baseball practice in preparation for his State Tournament this weekend…..Noah never likes to leave home…..and Cheryl will not want to impose on Michel. I am happy to be home with my wife and my boys.
    Cheryl called me on Wednesday at about 11:00 a.m. and advised that she is interested in taking the boys to the beach and staying with Michel. Wait a second, I have to work and I can't get off.
    Just continue all your cases and come along.  
    After twenty years of being married to a lawyer, you would think that by now she knows that I can't just postpone trial dates that have been scheduled for months.  Even if I were able to get the Judges to agree, I can't just call my clients and tell them that the trial date that they have been waiting on for months needs to be postponed because I need to work on my tan.
    [Now this next part is a secret so don't tell Cheryl……there have been a few occasions when I have postponed cases under similar time constraints. But in those instances I had to play an unexpected round of golf or I was offered opening day tickets for the National's at the last minute….but you can't go to that well too often.]
    I reminded Cheryl that Matthew has baseball practice. She advised that there is no practice until Thursday night and she reminded me that I am his coach. If he misses one practice, no big deal. What about Noah? He certainly does not want to go, does he?
    Already packed. Seriously!
    I took the high road and acted like an adult and told them they should go. Deep down, I am a six year old and was hoping they would stay. Not because I don't want them to have a good time but because I hate being home alone.  It's too quiet. It's too boring. I am home right now and there is nothing to do. I need a nap.

    Just woke up from my nap. Now what?
    I know, I will watch a baseball game on t.v. Just my luck, it is the worst day of the year for televised sports.....the day after the Major League Baseball All Star Game. I am not interested in J.V. Girls Field Hockey and I already saw last years N.C.A.A. College Football National Championship Game. Now what? Last time my family left me alone, I went out and bought a new car. Maybe I could do that again. Boy, Cheryl's trip with the kids can get expensive.
    Ooooh, there is a movie on that Cheryl would never let me watch if she were home. It is a good one, a movie where a girl gets kidnapped in France and her dad goes over to save her. Mmmm, wonder what would happen if one of my kids got kidnapped in Ocean City. That would be bad……perhaps this is not the best movie to watch with my family on vacation.
    Now what?

    I got nothing!
    Oh well, they will be home tomorrow. I will go to bed and wake up and this will all be over with. Tomorrow, the house will be full of people when I get home from work.
    Man, this stinks, wouldn't you know, that nap I took a little earlier is coming back to haunt me. Can't sleep.

    Finally fell asleep for about three hours and am excited to get the day going.  They should be leaving Ocean City at about 2:00 p.m. so Matthew will be home for practice at 5:30 p.m.    
    At 2:00 p.m., my secretary buzzes me to tell me Cheryl is on the phone. Great, must be on the road, in fact, she has to be on the road or they are going to be late.
    Hi sweetie, how are you? HEY DON'T GO OUT TOO FAR. THE WATER IS KIND OF ROUGH!
    Hey, how are you and why are you yelling at me about the water? 
    Oh, I am not yelling at you, I am yelling at Noah. NOAH BE CAREFUL….MATTHEW, WATCH YOUR BROTHER!
    Why yell if they are sitting in the back of the car driving home from the beach. Is there a leak in the back of the car?
     No, of course not, we are still at the beach…….would you mind if Matthew misses practice tonight. We are having a great time and I think he wants to stay. 
    He really should be at that practice. By the way, even if you leave right now, you may not make it home by 5:30. 
    No, I would rally. Look, all you are going to do is hit.
    Yes, it is a baseball practice and this is what we do sometimes. We are also going to go over some of our bunt defenses.
    He knows all that. MATTHEW, YOU KNOW ALL YOUR BUNT DEFENSES DON'T YOU? Yep, he knows them.
    Fine, tell him if he misses practice, he is not starting on Saturday.
    I am not telling him that, you know that other kids miss practice and they still start. I remember these things because I AM THE COACHES WIFE! Now I am yelling at you.
     Fine, stay. I don't care. 
     Great, love you. I have to go. It is beautiful here, you should come down.
     I have work and I do need to be at practice tonight. I will see you tomorrow. 
     Oh yea, I keep forgetting. Have fun at work. Bring home the bacon and all that. Have a good practice. Love you. OH NO! WATCH OUR STUFF THAT WAVE IS COMING UP CLOSE TO OUR BLANKET…..I GOTTA GO!

    So now here I am on day 2 without my family.  Home alone.…again. What to do, what to do.
    I guess, I should stop typing now….. I am late for my nap.
    Oh no, I just remembered. They are all going to Rhode Island for a week in August.  Hey, what are you guys doing in August. I am available. But try not to call while I am napping. Take note, I am usually up between 11:00 pm. and 4:30 a.m.
    Seriously, call me!

Friday, July 6, 2012

"We are not French"...

     This is a link to a piece by Ann Coulter called, "On July 4th, Remember: We are not French." Well worth the read.

Funny Guy Friday… Meet you at the Turtle...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So… I married a funny guy...
    It is eleven o'clock on Thursday night and I just realized that I have not written my weekly post. I have two great excuses. First, yesterday was the 4th of July and I keep thinking that today is Monday. Second, it is All Star season, and I am coaching my son Matthew's 11-year-old baseball team and we have been playing or practicing nearly every day. Our District Tournament just concluded on Tuesday evening and I am happy to report that we were victorious.
    Baseball season is the best time of year for our family. Matthew has developed into a pretty good ball player and played on two teams this past year. My younger son Noah is just starting out and he played machine pitch for the very first time. Basically, machine pitch is baseball with a machine instead of a real pitcher, and crazy parents instead of the regular everyday parents.
    This is a step up from coach pitch where the coaches pitch to their own team. This never really worked for me as I was overly competitive and I had to dominate. Look, these 6- and 7-year-olds need to learn at a young age, that there is always someone out there that is a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger, a little bit faster and a little bit older. I happened to be that guy. In fact, I was  bigger, stronger, faster and 41 years older. Despite my advanced years, I can still bring the heat! Strike three son now sit down and stop crying! 
    One of the best things about baseball season is the predictability of our evenings. I rush home from work. I get changed. I run to a field. We play. And then we go out to eat with two or three of the other families that also have kids at fields six days a week.
     When we go to dinner, we invariably end up at the Green Turtle. You know that you have been to the Green Turtle too many times when the waitress tells you that she knows that your son is number 12, he hits left handed and throws right. Has good hands in the middle infield but still needs to work on his range. He hits with a little pop at the plate and is an excellent bunter. He ordered the chicken caesar salad. What would you like?
     This is the third year that I have been involved in All Stars. For the younger kids, the selection process involves the coaches sitting around a table discussing which kids are worthy of selection to the team. These discussions are followed by a vote. Typically, the coaches are dads that are coaching their sons for the first time. My first year, I was fascinated by some of the discussions that would go something like this… Billy is a great pitcher and really hit well for me. Johnny can catch and hit and is a great leader. Both are worthy of consideration. Now let me talk a second about my son Todd… he is a real five tool player. He can hit for average, hit with power, he can play anywhere in the field, has a cannon for an arm and is fast as lightening. He will definitely be your starting shortstop and lead off hitter. 
     Really, you think so dad. Two things, I saw Todd play and he has half of a tool…..and I am being generous by giving him a "half tool" score. It is true that he can, in fact, play anywhere in the field. However, he cannot play anywhere very well. Besides, you obviously have no idea what you are talking about because my son is going to start at short and bat lead off.
     Actually, I remember that first year. I did not even mention Matthew until one of the other coaches asked about him. I gave this ringing endorsement: He is pretty limited as to where he can play so if you need a good catcher with a below average arm, he is your guy. He is a great kid that will be happy to be on the team even if he does not play at all. I am convinced that he was a near-unanimous selection to the team that year based, in large part, on being a nice kid. By the way, the one coach to hold out was me!
     As the kids get older and you get to see them play a little bit more, the good players start to separate themselves and the coaches tend to have a more realistic view of their sons. They only have four tool sons instead of five tool sons. For the most part, the right kids make the All Star teams.
     All Stars is also exciting because it gives the kids opportunities to play on new fields, with new kids, to meet new parents, and best of all, to eat at new restaurants. Well, this year, as I mentioned, Matthew played on two teams. For All Stars, he is playing with nine of the eleven kids from his travel team, and he played with the other two kids last year. No real opportunity to meet new kids. We already knew all the parents, and unfortunately, we continued to eat at the Green Turtle.
     This is not a knock on the Turtle, but everyone gets tired of eating at the same place night after night. Besides, the main reason that we end up eating at the Turtle is not because of the food. No, we eat at the Turtle because it will accommodate a bunch of kids. To put it another way, our kids can be as loud and obnoxious as they want to be and nobody will notice. When it comes right down to it, we are limited in our choices. We can either go to the Turtle or to Chuck E Cheese's. The choice is obvious.
    Oh well, I thought at least we would get the chance to play our games on a new field. Not so fast there, coach; we were designated to play our District Tournament in South Baltimore… for the second straight year. I then thought this would not be so bad because I remembered that last year at this time, they were in the midst of renovating the neighborhood with a new apartment complex over a strip of stores and restaurants. We anticipated that they would be done with the renovations and there would be lots of new eating options.
    As we pulled up to the field, it was obvious that the neighborhood had changed. The renovated area was beautiful and was within walking distance of the field. They did a great job of incorporating the new structure into the old neighborhood. Imagine our shock and horror when the one restaurant in the new complex that could accommodate a bunch of kids was… you guessed it, the Green Turtle. Just as big as day, right on the corner.
    As I mentioned, we cruised through the tournament. The kids played well and after each game we had to make the big decision… Do we eat at the Green Turtle in South Baltimore or the Green Turtle back home? We chose to eat in South Baltimore with the same old kids and the same old parents at the same old restaurant. But Tuesday night it was different. Tuesday night was better.
   It wasn't better because we were eating in a different city. Heck, the food was exactly the same. In fact, the service wasn't nearly as good, and they did not have a single scouting report on any of our kids. It was better because we were eating with the same old kids and the same old parents at the same old restaurant… as District Champions.
    We move on to the State Tournament next weekend in Easton, Maryland. I sure hope that they have a Green Turtle in Easton because baseball season is one of the best times of the year for our family. I don't want it to end.
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