Thursday, April 26, 2007

Al Roker Gets 30%

Now that summer is coming, my wife and I will be having our annual debate about the concept of "summer sweaters." It's just one of the clothes conversations we seasonally rotate, much like Pete's Wicked Ale does with its flavors. For instance, I usually have this conversation with my wife at least once every winter:

Her: "You should really wear a hat. Medical studies show that 70% of your body heat is lost through your head."

Me: "That doesn't make sense."

Her: "I saw it on the Today Show. Al Roker said it. It's a scientific fact."

Me: "So, you and Al Roker are saying that on a cold day, 70% of my body heat is lost through my head and 30% is lost through the rest of my body?"

Her: "Exactly."

Me: "So, it would actually be better for me to stand naked in the snow with a hat on than fully clothed and without a hat?"

Her: "You can shut up now."

I don't understand why people avoid conversations with me.

As I mentioned, our summer conversation flavor is "summer sweaters." My wife loves to wear 'em and I love to talk about 'em. I love to imagine the marketing meeting where the clothes manufacturers first dreamed up the concept.

Guy #1: "Okay, people we overproduced sweaters this winter and we've got a surplus of 2 million that we have to move. Who's got an idea?"

Guy #2: "I've got it! Let's cut off the arms on the sweaters and sell them in the middle of summer. We'll call them - wait for it - summer sweaters!"

Guy #1: "You're a genius, Jim. But will women buy an obviously uncomfortable item and wear it?"

Guy #2: "You're kidding, right?"

Guy #1: "Of course I am. I used to market thongs!"

I don't think my wife enjoys my ramblings about summer sweaters as much as she used to. Oh, sure, she'll walk around for days coquettishly muttering, "They don't have sleeves, you ass." and I'll usually respond with a flirty "Oh, good, because the sleeves are the really hot part of the sweater." - but it's just not the same. I need to find someone else to discuss clothes with.

This coming winter, I think I'll head up to New York and visit the Today Show. I'll find Al Roker during one of his weather reports, fling off my coat and stand there naked except for a hat. As I slowly turn blue and steam rises off my body, I ask Al this:

"There, Roker. Does that look like 30% to you?"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

God of Lies and Wet Jelly Beans

Sometimes, when it's quiet, I like to think about what my kids will be when they grow up. I like to think that my daughter Riley will grow up to be a doctor. Gabriel, my oldest, seems destined to become an artist of some type.

Julian, my four year-old, will consult with high school career counselors who will suggest that he become Loki, the Norse god of mischief and lies.

How do I know? I walked into my house the other day after work and saw all three of my kids sitting on the couch watching the television. I didn't see my wife, so I looked for her in the kitchen. No dice. I went back into the living room.

"Where's your mom?" I asked.

Without looking up, Julian answered, "She went to the store, Dad."

And, God help me, I actually believed him. For a few seconds, I wondered what the hell had come over my wife. Why would she leave a three year-old, a four year-old and seven year-old by themselves? What could Bridget possibly need from the store that warranted taking a risk like this?

Just then, Bridget came out of the bathroom. I looked at Julian and he was smiling like a celebrity endorser.

"Was that a good joke, Dad?" he asked.

"Not even close," I replied.

Yesterday, I sat on the couch eating orange jelly beans. Julian sat beside me and Gabriel sat on the other side of Julian. I decided to share my jelly beans as a kind of fatherly gesture. Also, I had calculated that if the boys were eating, they wouldn't be talking and I'd be able to hear the Naruto cartoon on television better.

I handed a jelly bean to Julian. With my peripheral vision I saw him looking at the jelly bean and I turned my attention back to Naruto. I handed Julian another Jelly bean.

"Here. Give one to your brother Gabriel," I said.

A few seconds later, Gabriel made a weird sound.

"Ugh," Gabriel said. "Why is my jelly bean wet?"

Julian had turned his face away from his brother and toward me. He smiled a huge, bright smile and gave me a thumbs up gesture - like a pilot - or, more correctly - like a pilot who had just handed something strangely moist to another pilot.

I considered yelling at Julian but, honestly, it was a good joke. Even now, I have no idea what Julian did to the jelly bean. I glimpsed Julian's possible future as Loki, god of mischief and lies. The Wizard of Lies. The Sly God.

At least he won't be a telemarketer.

Friday, April 13, 2007

My Gyllenhaals

The actor Jake Gyllenhaal wore a sleeveless sequined dress for a Saturday Night Live skit recently and his huge, well-formed biceps took my wife's breath away.

Literally. She exhaled like she had been hit in the stomach and made a gasping sound. And I know it was Gyllenhaal's biceps my wife coveted because a moment later she felt my biceps and let out another involuntary sound - only this one sounded like a tire deflating.

There were other subtle hints that my wife was impressed by Jake Gyllenhaal's biceps and disappointed in mine. For instance, she bought me a set of weights and said, "You should work out."

I took the hint. My wife and I now refer to my biceps as "My Gyllenhaals" - in honor of the man who whose sleeveless sequined dress started it all. I work out every other day and have learned a few things about my Gyllenhaals:

For instance, it is possible to exercise your biceps so strenuously that a completely unrelated muscle on your back blows out. Please feel free to insert your own "Brokeback Mountain" jokes here.

Also, Gyllehaal's are much like helium balloons - they look their best just after being blown up. For this reason, I now do push-ups just prior to walking into any room. This has the side effect of making me look permanently angry and out of breath, but at least my arms are more impressive.

After weeks of working out, I decided to "pose down" in front of a mirror and evaluate whether I'd actually reached my goal of making two of my body parts achieve that Gyllenhaal look.

And indeed I have. After weeks of working out and hundreds of dollars of equipment, my breasts look exactly like Maggie Gyllenhaal's.

My wife is disappointed. I, on the other hand, think Maggie Gyllenhaal is hot.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Sugar Machine

Honestly, if it wasn't for the Happy Meals, I'd let it slide. But ever since the commercials started, I've been obsessed with getting McDonald's employees to put sugar in my coffee.

Normally, I wouldn't care whether someone put condiments in my coffee or not. I don't have the baristas do it at Starbuck's; I've never requested help with my coffee at 7-11. I once asked my wife to do it, but that ended badly. But a few things are different this time.

First and foremost, McDonald's promised me. The company's commercials say that if I buy coffee at one of their restaurants, one of the employees will add cream and sugar if I request it. And it's more than that. Judging from the smiles on the faces of the employees in the commercials (they are clearly lovin' it), the McDonald's employees might actually be disappointed if I don't let them fix the coffee to my taste.

Finally, I'm a parent and I can't take my kids out to eat anywhere without them crying for a toy. I blame McDonald's Happy Meals for this behavior. I'm bitter, McDonald's, and, frankly, I think you owe me.

I've ordered coffee three times from three different McDonald's restaurants since the commercials began. The first time I requested cream and sugar, the counter person handed me my admittedly delicious coffee and pointed me toward the condiment bar. The service improved the second time because, after I requested cream and sugar, the counter person actually handed me the condiments.

This is when my obsession fired into life. Was it just me? I kept seeing the commercials, but none of the McDonald's people actually seemed interested in helping me make my coffee. None of the employees actually seemed to be lovin' it at all. Had I offended someone? Was that bastard Ronald in the back secretly making coffee drinks for other customers? I had to find out.

On my third visit, I hit the drive-thru and specifically asked the order taker to put cream and sugar in my coffee. When I drove up to the window, I cheerfully asked, "Is there cream and sugar in this?" I gestured to the coffee.

"Nope," the lady replied back cheerfully. And then she handed me some creamers. I pressed on.

"I thought you guys added the cream and sugar?"

And, I swear to God, this is what she said:

"Normally, we do that. But today, the machine is broken."

This answer stunned me. They have a machine that adds cream and sugar to coffee? For a brief second, because I'm a guy, I had the overwhelming urge to buy one of those machines for my house. Then, I snapped to my senses.

"You couldn't add the cream and sugar by hand?" I asked.

She smiled. "We have a machine that does it - and it's broken. Sorry."

My quest for cream and sugar at McDonald's continues. It's a bittersweet quest - much like coffee - because only an asshole expects other people to make his coffee. At least that's what my wife says.

Honestly, if it weren't for the Happy Meals, I'd let it slide.