Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Boy and His Plant

It’s tough for me to say this, but I suspect that my seven year-old son may be turning into a dork.

Oh, I saw the signs, but I ignored them. Twice, he’s corrected me about the correct pronunciation of words in “Star Wars” movies, once so savagely that I burst into tears.

“Well, excuse me, George Lucas Jr.,” I cried. “You’re such an expert. Maybe you can explain why fraternal twins Luke and Leia were kissing in the first movie?”

And then I ran out of the room like a girl.

But that was nothing compared to now. For the last two days, my son has been carrying a plant around everywhere. That's right - a plant. An Ivy of some kind in a plastic pot. I know it's an Ivy because when I said, "Hey, what's with the Fern?", he snapped back, "It's not a Fern. It's an Ivy."

"Well, excuse me, Mr. GreenThumb Jr...," I began, but he had already walked off. A boy and his plant.

My wife has urged me to be understanding. It turns out that Gabriel spent his own allowance purchasing the plant and was so attached to it that he insisted that his new green, leafy friend come with him to dinner, to bed and then to school the next morning.

Oh, yeah. Nothing dorky about that.

Maybe I'm just jealous. Fathers often get jealous when their sons assert their independence, break away and form their own attachments with...plants.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Senate Caught Mass Debating

The older I get, the less interested I get in politics. But yesterday I walked into my living room and caught the United States Senate mass debating on television. You can imagine my surprise and embarrassment.

I'm trying to be mature about this. I realize mass debating is a natural and beautiful thing. I, myself, have mass debated on occasion. Heck, my face glows red every time I remember the time my dad walked in on me and caught me filibustering.

But this is different. Yesterday, the Senate was mass debating about whether they should mass debate. And once you catch yourself mass debating about mass debating, it's time to get some help. Senators, here's how to tell if you have a problem:

  1. Are you an adult? While it's natural for young children to use mass debating as a tool to explore themselves, we pretty much expect you to stop doing it once you grow up. And, unless you're a porn star or Paris Hilton (or both), you're not allowed to do it on television. Ever.

  2. Do you find that you prefer mass debating to active, two-way legislation with other people? Most politicians find that actually passing laws, while more time consuming and difficult to consummate, eventually leads to a more satisfying relationship for both the politician and his or her constituents.

  3. Have you ever voted against discussing the non-binding resolution you actually introduced? I'm talking to you, John Warner. Are you mass debating in order to avoid facing up to the fact that you're, uh, bi-partisan? My advice? Don't fight it. Being bi-partisan doesn't carry the same stigma it used to. I, in fact, faked bi-partisanship in college in order to meet girls.

Senators, if you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, you may have a problem. Don't rely on your peers for help. Some senators I won't name (Hillary Clinton) may have unpleasant memories of a time when more mass debating - and less constituent interaction - might have helped another politician I won't name (Bill Clinton). We (the American people) strongly urge you to seek help before our Congress is known for nothing other than its mass debating.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Method 21

Sometimes I find myself being accidentally creepy. To wit:

Last weekend, I had time to kill before heading to a friend's birthday celebration at a local Hooter's restaurant. That's not supposed to be the creepy part, people, so try not to get ahead of the story. It just so happens that Hooter's offers a fine selection of quality food at fair prices. Sure, this food is served by women wearing jogging shorts and panty hose with socks, but it's important to realize that our waitresses genuinely like spending time with us. We're not anything like the losers that normally go to Hooter's.

Hmmm. I'm starting to see your point. Let's move on.

Anyway, I had an hour to kill before the party at Hooters. Some part of me instinctively realized that the only thing sadder than a group of middle-aged men at Hooters is one middle-aged guy sitting at Hooters, so I headed to a nearby Target store to look around. Mostly, I read magazines without paying for them. I read golf magazines. I read video game magazines. I even read Cosmopolitan magazine because apparently there are 20 different ways you can satisfy a man and I only knew three of them. Coincidentally, none of the 20 ways involves a Hooters.

After about 20 minutes, I noticed that I wasn't the only person killing time at Target. There was an elderly woman in the magazine aisle with me. Apparently, she had also run out of reading material because she held a Maxim magazine and was definitely eyeing my Cosmo. No dice. I was only on method 11.

There was also a couple goofing around with the home theater systems in the electronics section. In the 30 minutes I was in the store, I bumped into the couple at least three times. Like me, they didn't appear to be buying anything. After reading about method 20, I decided to leave Target and kill time elsewhere. I drove toward the Hooters.

Now, you can cue the creepy music.

On the way, I spotted an adult novelty store that I've heard advertised on the radio. It's supposed to be classy place and I suddenly felt insanely curious about what the store looked like inside. All the usual things went through my mind. What if someone I know sees me going inside? What if someone sees me looking at some strange device and assumes that I'm interested in it? How sad is it to see a middle-aged guy by himself in an adult novelty store?

I calmed myself by saying the usual things. I'm an adult. I'm not doing anything illegal. Besides, the chances of running into someone I know are astronomically low.

This thought turned out to be weirdly prescient.

My first impulse was to park in front of one of the other stores, but I fought this cowardly impulse and parked right in front of the store. I boldly stepped out of my vehicle and entered the door. Everyone looked up when I entered the bright store. I quickly registered two things: first, this place wasn't classy. It had the high checkout counters and hand written signs you only see in adult stores. Second, the couple that I saw at Target had decided to come here, too.

All three of us went beet red with embarrassment. A second later, I got a horrific feeling in my gut. What are the chances that two separate parties would waste time by first going to a Target store and then independently follow that up by going to the same adult novelty store within minutes? That would be an astronomical long shot. Were they following me?

Then it hit me. They were here first. Omigod, I thought. I look like a creepy stalker. I looked like some dude who had easily skated through methods 1 through 20 and was now busily trying to invent method 21. The only thing that could have made the moment stranger was if I had walked in with the elderly, Maxim-reading woman.

For a moment, I had the urge to talk to the couple. I wanted to explain how I was just this regular guy who was spending the night innocently reading Cosmo and hanging out at adult novelty stores before joining his friends at Hooters...

I decided to leave instead.