Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... The great pumpkin stapling contest?

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Happy Halloween!
     Mine did not start out so well. Unfortunately, last night, an idiot ghost took over my body and I am currently typing with nine usable fingers.
     Like most of my stories, this one started a long time ago... about 25 years ago... when I used to invite my family over for a pumpkin carving contest. My family, of which I am a proud member, tends to be competitive about... well, just about everything. I have written about this contest before: here, here, and here.
     But just to review...
     I came up with the idea of having a family pumpkin carving contest back before I had even met Cheryl. For years, I organized and ran the Annual Palumbo Pumpkin Carving Competition.
     In the inaugural year, all my little loser nieces and nephews carved silly faces or worse yet, painted various colors that made no sense. Basically, some of them just colored their pumpkin a different color!
     Imagine that... they just colored their pumpkins! Seriously, even at the age of 3, did they think that that was the type of effort that would bring home the gold?
     Those silly little pumpkins did not even deserve the sympathy "Pap Pap vote" that every grandchild received.
     Ah... gotta love my dad.
     The Pap Pap vote was sort of a participation medal. I let the old guy stuff the ballot box because I knew that I had carved the winner. Plus, whenever I reached over to remove one of his illegal ballots and replace it with one of my illegal ballots, he would say something like... You touch that piece of paper, you are going to be picking up your teeth with a broken arm!  
     I did not think he'd actually do that... But I did think he was capable of doing that. I would think to myself... my pumpkin carving days would be over if he knocked out my teeth and broke my arm... so I'd let it go! Besides, I have always considered myself to be a benevolent dictator... let the old man have his fun.
     Anyway, that first year, I did blow away the competition with a haunted house that matched the napkins at our pumpkin carving party. It was ridiculously good, and, I might add, was done without a pattern.
     In subsequent years, my little bratty nieces and nephews raised their game.
     Their pumpkins became much more intricate, and my winning became more of a challenge. Of course, this meant that my carving became more challenging. But with the help of some friendly voting machines that changed Republican votes to Democratic votes... er uh... I mean... changed votes for other people's pumpkins to votes for my pumpkin, I still managed to win every year.
     So, what does all all of this have to do with my injury?
     Well, we no longer have the yearly competition, but I still like to carve cool pumpkins with my kids.
     Sort of continuing a family tradition in some small way, I was up late last night with Noah and we were putting the finishing touches on our pumpkins, when I had a little mishap.
     If you have ever carved a difficult pumpkin, you may know that there are times when you cut off an important piece by mistake. You don't start over, but, instead, you reconnect the important piece with a toothpick. That is, unless your wife has long since gone to bed, and you cannot find the toothpicks... or anything else for that matter... ever since she reorganized the kitchen.
     I started to look around for a suitable toothpick substitute when I saw it: an old staple gun that I have not used for years. I thought that I could remove one staple and straighten it out. As fast as you can say MacGyver... problem solved.
     Unfortunately, I could not break off just one staple from the tightly secured row of staples, so I had to get one staple out of the gun somehow.
     No problem. Just shoot the staple out of the gun into a cardboard box.
     I grabbed the staple gun and shot away.
     Did I mention that I had not used this staple gun in years? I forgot that the end of the staple gun, where it looks like the staples should come out, is the end you are supposed to hold... and vice versa.
     As I shot the staple gun, I felt a twinge of pain and immediately thought that I had pinched my finger in the shooting mechanism. When I looked at my ring finger, I saw one of the sharp staple prongs alongside my finger, just missing being plunged deep in.
     Wow, how lucky was I that I did not have a staple actually plunged deep into my finger?
     Then I started to think that the staple looked kind of weird because there was only one sharp prong... I honestly thought that the staple broke in half and that I had to find that other half so nobody would step on it.
     It didn't take long to find that other half. as the throbbing started shortly thereafter! Yes, you guessed it, the other sharp prong of the staple was plunged as deep as humanly possible... into my ring finger!
     MacGyver, my ass! I wanted to cry out like a little girl but remembered that poor Noah was still within ear shot.
     Have you ever had to pull a staple... a long staple gun staple... from your finger? Well, I am here to tell you... it hurts!
     It hurts a lot. But the games must go on.
     My finger was not severed; it was merely bleeding. In a show of defiance, I took that embedded staple out of my finger... straightened it out... and hammered that bad boy into my pumpkin... thereby saving the severed piece and showing that staple who is boss!
     Honestly, using that same staple was less a show of defiance and more of a show of fear. I was kind of afraid to use that staple gun for a second time. Who knows what that thing would have done to me if given a second chance!
     Having been an athlete, I know the difference between pain and injury. You can play with pain,
but you cannot play with injury. I am proud to say... I played with pain.
   As I look back at my Herculian efforts from Halloween eve, I wonder...
   Could I have carved a pumpkin while picking up my teeth with a broken arm?
   Upon further review... I dare say, Yes, I could.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Details, details...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     When Matthew asked us if he could ask a girl to his homecoming dance, Cheryl asked, You mean like a date? Then she joked, What are you going to do, ride your bike over to her house and pick her up? 
     Of course he wasn't going to do that.
     I mean, he wasn't sure what he was going to do for transportation, but he did know that he wasn't going to pick her up on his bike. In fact, I am convinced that, somewhere in his mind, he may have thought that he wouldn't see her until they both arrived at the dance. A quick exchange of flowers and in they'd go. Well... maybe pictures, somewhere, ahead of time.
     As the big day approached, I kept asking him if he knew where she lived.
     I dunno.
     Well, when are you going to find out?
     I dunno! Why does it matter? 
     You have to pick her up... and then get her to the dance.
     I think she lives like twenty minutes from the school. 
     That narrows it down for us. Do you know in what direction... north, east, south, or west? 
     I dunno.
     And that was as much information as we had until Friday.
     Did you ever find out where she lives?    
     I dunno... but we are meeting for pictures in Arnold.
     That is kind of in the opposite direction of the school.
     I dunno.
     I am not asking you... I am telling you... it is in the opposite direction. Do you have an address?
     Uh, no. Hey... can I go to a party after the dance?
     I dunno. Millersville, I think. 
     That's good... that is near the school. What time?
     I dunno. 
     Do you have an address?
     I dunno.
     What time does it end?
     Not sure.
     Are the parents going to be home?
     YES... I know this one.... YES! I asked because I knew you would ask me that.
     Is your date going?
     I dunno. Why?
     If she is not going to the party and you are, you need to take her home first.
     Dad... this isn't like a real date-date. I think her mom can pick her up.
     Matthew... it is a real date. You asked her out on a date! You take her on the date, and you take her home after the date!
     Oh, by the way, she lives in Severna Park.
     Great... that's not that close to Millersville.  So, you're telling me that I have to take you to Arnold for photos... then take you both to your school in Millersville a half-hour away... then we take her home to Severna Park... and then take you to the party back in Millersville and then I have to hang out for a couple hours and then pick you up and drive you home?
     Uh, I dunno.  But I do know that you also need to take me to my baseball game at the school at 2:00 p.m. and have me home by 4:15 p.m.  
     Guess what... that wasn't all the driving I did that night.
     After we dropped Matthew and his date off at the dance, we had to go back to our house to get Grace and Noah, who were babysitting at my nephew's house... near the high school. And Matthew's date's mother invited us to dinner with them at a restaurant... near our house.    
     I was discussing my chauffeuring experience to a friend when he explained that these dances are not really dates but instead, they are photo opportunities.  I have no idea if this is true or not but I do know that if all they wanted to do was take some good photos... Mission Accomplished.
     The young lady that Matthew took to the dance was a very pretty girl who loves art and likes to play piano and bake. Cheryl and I both agreed... she is perfect for Noah. Oh, did I mention that she may just be the most photogenic person that I have ever met?
     And the old saying that... The rising tide floats all boats... was never more evident. Matthew actually looked good standing next to her. Dare I say... he looked handsome!
     Cheryl is very hesitant to allow Matthew to date... in the traditional sense. But I think that we all learned something this weekend. Cheryl learned that an occasional dance isn't so bad. Matthew learned that there are responsibilities that a young man has when he is out with a young lady.
     And I learned that if Matthew is going to go on more dates like these... I'd better have a full tank of gas!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... If I knew then what I know now...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each Friday by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
      I often have the stupid desire to either live vicariously through my kids... or to go back in time and relive parts of my childhood but with the same skills and knowledge that I have today.
      For instance, when I watch my son's ten-year-old baseball team getting crushed by a team of bullies (they aren't really bullies, I just call them that because they are better than we are), I have the burning desire to grab a bat and go up to the plate and take a few swings or to line up deep at short and gun down those little brats as they sprint down the sixty foot base path. Chicks dig it when you gun down little punks. Of course, a fifty-year-old guy would look kind of silly out there doing all of that with a bunch of ten-year-olds.
     Buuuuut... if I could do that in a ten-year-old's body... then, we'd be in business.
     Or how about Grace... off in college.
     Let's see... sleep, eat, walk five minutes to class, eat, and study. No bills... no clients... friends around 24/7. That would be the life.
     Similar thoughts have crossed my mind as Matthew regales us with high school tales.
     He is having a great time. He seems to be doing well in his classes. He seems to be making friends.  He seems to be completely at ease with all the new people he has met... including the gals.
     I am going to let everyone in on a little self-revelation. I may not have been as cool back in high school as I thought I was.
     I know what you are thinking: Wow... he is way cool now. How is it possible he wasn't cool in high school? 
     Well, let me be clear, I may have been cool, but I did not know it.
     I was a nice guy but sort of shy and insecure. Don't get me wrong, had I gone to all those parties that I did not get invited to, people would have spoken to me... I think.
     Upon reflection, nobody actually got invited to those parties anyway; everyone just kind of showed up and ruined the houses of kids whose parents weren't home. But that was really not for me. There was no way I was going to go to somebody's house for a party if their parents weren't home.
     Okay, in high school, I was definitely not as cool as I thought.
     In my defense, bad things happened at those parties.
     I recall going to the store with my dad when I was a junior and driving past a house that had the gutters falling off the roof, the front door was off the hinges, and the shingles were dangling from the house. My dad stopped and wondered aloud what had happened. I told him that the kid who lived there had had a party and kids ransacked the house.
     He asked for names and I told him that I didn't know exactly who had done it because there were more than a hundred kids there... so I had heard. His exact words were I would find out which of those hundred kids did that to my house, and I would hunt them down and would beat the hell out of them. 
     I chuckled nervously... because he wasn't smiling... and commented that it was probably some kids that he knew that were friends of mine and/or my brother. He demanded names and I obliged. After all, I wouldn't want him to beat the hell out of me. Then he said...
     Those kids would never do that to my house.
     How do you know that those kids wouldn't do that to your house?
     Because those kids know me well enough to know that I would... hunt them down... and beat the hell out of them!
     My dad was correct with his analysis of the situation. Those kids did know... and they wouldn't have messed with his stuff! 
     My dad was cool!
     I wish that I had been as cool as he was. He was a bad ass.
     I, on the other hand... I stayed home on Friday nights and watched Dallas.
     JR was a bad ass, but I soon learned that the goings on in Dallas were only make believe. Did they seriously expect us to believe that Bobby could come back from the dead? Seriously, his wife dreamt all that? C'mon!
     I digress.
     So now Matthew has me thinking that I would like to go back to my high school days... but with the same skills and knowledge that I have today.
     I would have been a better student. I would have had way more friends. I would have gone to all the cool parties. I may have even smashed a door or something cool like that. And I would have been way smoother with the gals. My life would be way different than it is today.
     Don't let Cheryl know this, but if I had it all to do over again, I would go back and date a cheerleader or a pom pom. Back in the day, I felt that those girls were out of my league. They went to all the parties... they had all the friends... they went to all the pep rallies and games.
     But now, in a do-over, if you will, I would approach them with all the wisdom of a fifty-year-old. How could they resist me?
     What's that? Cheryl was a pom pom? But she didn't go to the cool parties... Did she? She didn't have a bunch of cool friends... Did she? She didn't go to all the pep rallies and the games... Did she? She didn't smash any doors. At least I don't think she smashed any doors... I mean I wasn't at the parties or anything, but I can only assume.
     No way.
     I am not going back in time with all of my current skills and knowledge only to date Cheryl. Cheryl was one of those girls that stayed home on Friday nights and... watched... uh... watched... uh... Dallas... right?
     Oh my gosh... Cheryl was cooler than I was back in high school. This is humiliating.
     Okay, maybe I could go back and at least look her up.
     This might not be such a bad idea... to approach her with all my fifty years' worth of knowledge because my life isn't so bad. In fact, it is pretty good, so there is no reason for it to be all that different.
     Although, I wonder what Cheryl was like when she was ten.
     Maybe if I go back in time as a fifty-year-old guy in a ten-year-old's body, she'd come and watch me play baseball and take a few cuts and line up deep at short and gun down little brats as they sprint down the 60 foot base path.
    She would love it!
    You see, over the years, I have learned that chicks dig that kind of stuff.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Clearing out...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     As we prepare for my mother's arrival, we have decided to purge our house of all of our junk.
     And when I say "all of our junk," what I really mean is all of the stuff that Cheryl will let me throw away. Clearly, Cheryl's definition of junk is different than mine, but by any definition, we have a ton of junk. So much junk that we rented a dumpster... or can, as those of us in the dumpster business call them... that has been sitting in our driveway for more than three weeks.
     It's kind of trashy looking... pardon the pun... but it is necessary.
     I realized we had a problem about ten years ago when we finished our basement.
     The basement used to be the dumping ground for all of our junk. It was out of sight and out of mind.  I was the only one that ever went down there, and I never let on about how bad it was. In fact, I made a game of going down to the basement without letting my feet touch the floor as I hopped from junk to junk.
     Then we decided to have the basement finished and needed to do something with all that stuff.
     We rented a small can... as we in the dumpster biz like to call them... and filled it to capacity. Despite our best efforts, we still had heaps of junk. There was only one thing to do with it all.
     At this point, I would like to take a moment of silence for my garage.
     Thank you. Now I would like to say a few words about my old friend.
     You were always there for me. You kept my car warm and safe and dry. I'd like to say that I loved my wife more, but I never like to lie. You're gone now... just a storage bin for the basement junk. It's not your fault though... we did it to you. We should be ashamed of ourselves. We can't pull the trigger and throw away our junk, so we just used you. We stuffed you and rendered you useless. Your doors were always open... inviting me into your bosom... even during the most horrible weather conditions. You asked for nothing in return. You were my friend... and I miss you.  

     So for a long time, the garage was our main junk holder... but certainly not the only junk holder in the house.
     The junk seemed to magically expand.
     It includes... but is not limited to... ungiven gifts, Christmas decorations, unopened mail, Grace and Matthew's diddly drawings and school projects, tax returns, Noah's very cool drawings and school projects, decade-old receipts, clothes, toys, games with missing pieces, and photos... lots and lots of photos.
     And there is no rhyme or reason to what we find in each bin.
     You would think that the tax returns would be with the tax papers, but you'd be wrong. I am not kidding when I say, I found tax returns, in the garage, in the same box as unused Labor Day Festival tickets and Nerf guns. The only explanation for the variety junk packs is that whenever we quickly clean up for a party, we come across various items that we don't quite have a place for. So we throw them in a bin and then stash that bin in the garage... so we can review it at a later date when we have more time! 
     We never have more time, so that date never comes.
     And a byproduct of all the mismatched junk bins... you cannot comfortably toss anything without a full-out review. Unfortunately, I am completely incapable of this type of review due to a condition I describe as junk ADD. After three minutes, I am done!
     Having said that... some bins are fun to go through... like the photo bins.
     I just want to make an observation... I look good in a tux.
     I mean, I look really good in a tux. I found two or three pictures of Cheryl and me at various formal functions over the years and was very happy with how good I looked. I looked so good that I made Noah run upstairs with the photos to show his mother and tell her that, as good as she looked in the photo... I looked better! Specifically, I told him to go tell his mother that she out-kicked her coverage!
     There weren't many of those kinds of photos so I just wanted to revel in the fact that I looked better than she.
     Some bins were not fun to go through, tho'... like... oh... let's see... the photo bins.
     For a guy that looks so good in a tux, I generally don't look good in most other photos. And I found the worst school picture ever taken in the history of school pictures. I still remember that day. It was seventh grade, and I wore a blue turtleneck kind of shirt that was too tight. I was uncomfortable and apparently, unaware it was picture day. I must not have washed and/or combed my hair. I didn't smile, nor did I frown. The look on my face was kind of in between... a smown, if you will. You can't tell from the photo, but my lips were even chapped.
     What a train wreck!
     The only thing that could have made the photo worse was if I were wearing wire-framed glasses that were too big for my face. Oh, wait a second, I was wearing wire-framed glasses that were too big for my face!
     And get this... that was the photo that was used for my Benjamin Tasker Tiger Junior High School ID card. Three years of staring at that stupid photo.
     I kept that photo ID card. I cannot imagine why I kept it... but I did. Much like all of the other stupid things that we have kept over the years. Stuff that we acquired for some good reason... but never used. And then, prepping for parties time and again, we couldn't quite figure out where it went, much less why we ever acquired it in the first place... only to toss it in a bin and throw it into our garage!
     So, the time has come.
     The can, as we in the dumpster biz like to call them, is nearly full. We are going through the final bins and are days away from a clutter-free home.
     We are almost ready for my mother to move in. In just a couple of weeks, she is coming... the house has to be prepared for her.
     You know what else is coming with her? That's right, eighty-three years worth of her junk!
     No problem, our garage will be clear.
~ All dressed up... not a bad pic! ~
~ Not too shabby, if I do say so myself ~
~ Who put these two in charge of a household anyway? ~

Friday, October 3, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... A sign of the times?

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Soooo, sometimes I get it right.
     I don't want to gloat or anything, but I was right. Right as all get out! That is not gloating, is it? Because I wouldn't want to gloat.
     I really don't even want to tell this story, but there are two reason why it must be told. First, there are some dads that might find themselves in a similar situation with their sons. They need to know how to handle it.
     And second: I was right!  
     So, it all started with Matthew asking if he could take a date to the Homecoming Dance.
     The answer, of course, was no.
     In an interesting turn of events, I was the gentle no, and Cheryl was more of the Hell no... no way... not in this lifetime... you are only fourteen... you have got to be kidding me! 
     Now if you know Cheryl, you know she did not really say that... but she wanted to! What she really said was how are you gonna go on a date? What, are you going to go pick her up on your bike? That is silly!
     As I mentioned, I took a gentler approach. Look, I am saving you from yourself. If you had to go on an actual date, the girl would figure out that you were a chucklehead in the first fifteen minutes. I go on dates with your mother, and even we have nothing to talk about after appetizers. Talking with a girl for any period of time is awful! 
     Okay, maybe I was not as gentle as I had thought.
     As the weeks passed, we began to have a slight change of heart.
     We... and by we, I really mean I... thought it would not be such a bad thing if he took a girl to the dance, but if... and only if... he were to go with a group of friends. Not so much a date as an outing with friends... an outing where you don't really have to give the person you go with exclusive one-on-one attention for an entire evening.
     As I think about it... I wish I could go on one of these types of dates.
     I digress.
     Cheryl was still pretty steadfast... no dating under any circumstance. Too young... too much drama! But she agreed that going in a group is okay.
     When Matthew decided on the girl he wanted to ask, he obediently sought the final blessing. I arrived home last Friday, and he once again asked if he could go to the Homecoming dance. I spelled out the "group of friends" rule once again. I told him that the girl had to understand this or he would not be going. He said he understood, so I inquired as to when he was planning to ask her.
     I was going to ask her at lunch, but a friend of hers said I should wait until she comes into the stadium at the football game. 
     Have you figured out what you are going to say?
     This is when he dropped the bomb.
     I am going to make her a sign.
     Say what?
     A sign; everyone does it. It is kind of a big deal for the girl, so she can have some memento to keep. 
     Stupid. Why do these girls need a memento? What do these girls expect in a few years when it comes time for the prom? Better yet, what is a guy supposed to do when he asks a girl to marry him? No... no signs. Are you sure she is going to say yes? And what if she wants to say no? Then she has the pressure from the sign. No. No signs. 
     This brought me back to last spring when I learned about the sweeping phenomenon called the "promposal."
     A promposal is an elaborate plan for boys to ask girls to the prom. It is crazy. I youtubed "best promposals" so I could show my secretary the lunacy, and I found about eight videos. I would start each one and then have to stop it before the big finish because I was embarrassed for these kids.
     After about the fifth time of starting and stopping a video... before the kid could pop the question... my secretary laughed at how I would torture myself by starting each one, cutting it off right before the big finish. I told her it was similar to when you have a sore in your mouth, and you keep touching it to make sure it is still sore.     
     Apparently, the boys use these elaborate schemes for homecoming dances as well.
     Matthew persisted that this is what the girls want. I said no!
     Finally, I relented with this caveat... you can use the sign, but you have to ask her face to face and use the sign as a back up prop that you can give her afterward.
     Agreed. And he was off.
     Well, when he returned home from the game, I was upstairs with Noah, who advised me that she had said no. All I could think of was poor Matthew standing there with that stupid sign. Well, as it turns out, she did not actually say no. Remember the kid who told him to ask her once she came into the stadium at the football game? Well, he asked her in the parking lot.
     All I could think about was poor Matthew standing there with that stupid sign.
     I was kind of obsessed with that stupid sign.
     So there you have it... I was right and I should have stuck by my guns. Wish that I were wrong, but I was right. Right as you can be.
     Matthew still disagrees. You see he gave his sign... along with the roses he purchased on the way... to three different dudes who successfully snagged dates to the dance. I still stand by my assessment of the situation... poor Matthew standing there with that stupid sign. 
     Well, it turns out that there is a happy ending to this story for Matthew.
     The young lady had a change of heart and decided that she would not go with that kid from the parking lot. Matthew got a second chance and simply walked up to her at her locker after school and asked her... the good old fashioned way. The way it should have been done in the first place.
     So there you have it.
     And the moral of the story... Dad is always right!
     But if you think about it, Cheryl was even more right.
     Perhaps, Matthew should not be going on any dates... under any circumstance. Cheryl should have... somehow... someway... made her position a little bit clearer.
     Oh, I dunno, maybe she could have made me a sign!
     Sure would have saved us all a bunch of drama if she had.
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