The Groom’s Speech

As my wedding day approached, I knew I was going to be called on to deliver a toast during the reception. I spent a lot of time coming up with ideas about what I wanted to say and I spent a lot of time surfing the web for what I was supposed to say. Then, I knew I was supposed to say something about my bride and say a little about our life together. Inspiration for the toast came from random moments, but there was a time during a Radiohead concert that a flood of ideas came to me. There was something about listening to their music that opened up my creativity. I spent part of that concert e-mailing myself the ideas that kept popping into my head.

While I wrote a speech and converted that into an outline for what I wanted to say, there were many things I thought of and added while I was up there. I guess the pressure helps with my creativity. Anyway, here’s the speech:

“I’d like to thank everyone for coming and sharing our special day. Thank all those who traveled so far to be here with us today, including my brother Mark & his wife Marla who came all the way from China. They came a week early with their three children and got them re-acclimated to the eastern time zone. I really appreciate that you’re here.

I’d like to thank Bill & Sharon for giving me their daughter’s hand in marriage. You did an excellent job raising her. Well, I’m sure you did the best you could.”

I’d like to thank my sons, Nick, Alex, and Stephen for being groomsmen. Thank you for making Alana feel so welcomed by you.

I chose Doug to be my best man because he was available. Seriously, he is always there for me. He will drop everything and help me when I need it. He helped me get my first job. He worked at an RV and camper sales place as the mechanic and I washed the campers.

I’d like to thank Danielle for agreeing to be the matron of honor. You did an excellent job of getting Alana down the aisle in one piece. We know how hard that was! Thank you to all the bridesmaids for being such good friends to Alana and for accepting me as quickly and completely as you did. Please raise your glass in a toast to the heath and happiness of the bridesmaids.

Alana and I clicked right away. I quickly found out that she was as sarcastic and irreverent as I am. On our first date we went to Go Bananas. Being with her that night felt so natural it was like we belonged together. I’ve never been flipped off so much on a first date. What I have learned since then is, when she flips me off, I just won the argument! Seven months after that first date, on our vacation to Aruba, I asked her to marry me. I’ll always remember it was July 4th because immediately after asking her, fireworks exploded in the sky. I didn’t plan it that way, but I’ll take credit for it anyway.

Being so loved and accepted by her has given me the freedom to be myself and actually figure out who I really am. And, apparently, I’m a sick bastard! I have become her clown just so I can see her smile and hear her laugh every day. We have so many inside jokes now, don’t we? Just so many! We have different backgrounds, different religious and political affiliations, different ages, but we respect each other enough to make that not matter. As for our age difference, my immaturity level makes us even. As fas as politics, I let her have an autographed Hillary Clinton campaign poster on the wall in her office and she lets with me have an 8×10 photo of Ronald Reagan in the garage. On a shelf. Behind the weed killer. As for religion, I tried teaching her how to make the sign of the cross but when she did it, it looked like she was giving me the sign to steal second base! So it’s our respect for each other’s differences that makes us work.

To my beautiful wife – I couldn’t be happier to call you that – I love you and I will be your clown for as long as I live. Please raise your glasses and join me in a toast to my beautiful bride.”

The rest of the night was a blur. I had a great time seeing everyone who could come. We had a great time dancing and drinking and celebrating. I would do it again if we could afford it! We’ll have time to celebrate every day for a long, long time.

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Boot Camp Kicked My Ass!

Today was my first day of Boot Camp since the days of Army Boot Camp when I was 18 years old. This boot camp differs from the Army in many ways – I get to wear running shoes instead of boots, there isn’t a drill instructor screaming at me to “drop and give him 20” (push-ups) every time I screwed up, and  I don’t have an M-16. By the end of this morning’s boot camp, I really wanted the M-16!

To prepare for this boot camp, the instructor e-mailed everything I needed to know. I would need to bring a mat, a towel, some water, and some weights. I messaged back asking how heavy the weights were supposed to be and she suggested two 8 pounds and two 12 pound dumbbells.  My ego told me I should just get two 10 pounders and two 15 pounders. My ego is an asshole! When I’m at the gym, I get to pick a weight off the rack, lift it, and put it back. I can handle more weight that way and I don’t have to carry it home. For boot camp, I had a gym bag filled with a total of 50 pounds of weight! Getting the bag to the car was enough of a workout to make me want to go back to bed. Then I found out that the workout was down two flights of stairs! Fuck you, Ego!

The workout began easily enough. It was in a school gym and we had to jog five laps around the court to warm up. I can run marathons, so running five laps was child’s play! We then proceeded to run suicides, which involves running to a line on the court, bending down and touching the line, running back to the start, then going to the next line, touching it, back to the start, etc, until you have run to the other end of the court and back again. I may have been sweating at the end of this exercise.

Then it was time to use the weights. Using the heavy weights, we were to put one foot forward and do a lunge while simultaneously doing arm curls. After a few minutes of that, we got to switch legs and do it again. I was unable to figure out at this point how to switch arms, so I was still doing arm curls with the same arms! Now, with my arms tired, we were to hold a plank for a minute or so. Just when I thought that was enough, we had to go from one side of the court to the other on all fours in what can only be described as the Mowgli. Imagine how Mowgli was walking when he was in the jungle and then imagine a 51 year old, slightly overweight, man doing the same move. It wasn’t pretty! By the time I was half-way across, I had to stop for a moment just so I could survive! I made it across and back just in time for the instructor to tell us to do it again! My knees may have touched the floor once or twice by this time.

Now it was time for us to do squats while lifting the lighter weights overhead as we stood up from our squat. At this time, I mentally returned the 15 pound weights to the store and never touched them again! With no rest, it was time to go back across the gym by first getting into a push-up position and going sideways like a crab to the other side. This time, I know for a fact my knees hit the floor! My shoes were squeaking every time my feet hit the puddle of sweat I left on the floor. I left an impressive snail trail. (I dare you to look that up on Urban Dictionary)

The morning began promptly at 5:30 AM and was supposed to end at 6:15. When she told us to do one more exercise at 6:15, she was very lucky I was without my M-16! Somehow, I managed to finish the final exercise, put the weights back into the gym bag, get back up the stairs and to the car without dying. The bag is still in the car and will remain there until I return those damn weights! The most insulting part about all this is hearing the “ding, ding, ding” you hear when the car thinks there’s someone in the passenger seat without a seat belt. I had to put a god damned seat belt on my gym bag! I hate you, Ego!

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The Epic Mustache

I remember trying to grow a mustache when I was 19 years old. It came in slowly, and after a month or so it never really amounted to much. I shaved it and never tried again. Until, that is, I decided to grow a mustache for a race called “Tap N Run.” They hand you a 4 ounce beer at the starting line, followed by three more beer stops along the way, and one final beer at the finish line. It’s more of a costume contest than a race. It seems there was an emphasis on awesome facial hair, so I began grooming what would become The Epic Mustache!

My Doppelgänger

My normal facial hair routine is to shave on Mondays and Wednesdays, leaving stubble on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday through the weekend brings more stubble, which I scrape off the next Monday with resentment. When I have the stubble going on, I am stopped by strangers asking if I know that I look like House. Next year at the Tap N Run, I’m growing the stubble and walking with a cane. In hindsight, I really wish I thought about that this year!

I knew there was no way I would look good with a mustache! I had a goatee for about 10 years, so I knew I could grow that again. My plan was to shave everything below my lip on the day of the race and run it with an awesome mustache. I also decided that there was too much gray in the mustache so I darkened it with Just For Men. For some reason, I decided to shave it the day before the race on Friday. That’s when things got weird!I showed up at work and freaked everyone out! Even though I grew a mustache that was compared to Tom Selleck’s, the women in the office were not impressed! In an effort to avoid the outside world, I had someone in the office have lunch delivered. I spent the rest of the day explaining why I grew the mustache. And then I went to watch my son run in his high school track meet.

I went to the high school wearing cargo shorts, a Cincinnati Reds T-shirt, a baseball cap and aviator sunglasses – and I was carrying a camera. Not a camera phone, but an honest to goodness DSLR camera hanging around my neck. As I approached the stands, all I could think was, “don’t look like a pedophile, don’t look like a pedophile.” I was looking for a place to sit while imagining Chris Hansen telling me to “have a seat over there.” The best part was, I saw my son before the race and he knew I was going to do the mustache, but he didn’t know I was doing it that day. He thought it was hilarious and told his friends about it. They came up to me after the race and told me I had an awesome mustache!

Magnum P.I. eat your heart out!

You know how when you buy a red car, all you see are red cars? It was that way with mustaches for me. While I was in the stands, I noticed how many men are wearing mustaches because they think it looks good on them. They didn’t grow one ironically; they actually chose to have their faces look that way! It’s not a good look! There are only a handful of men who look good or who are defined by their mustaches. Tom Selleck, Wilford Brimley, Geraldo Rivera, Ron Burgundy, and Ron Jeremy. Well, maybe Ron Jeremy isn’t the best person to have on this list, but just know that he needs the mustache!

I shaved the mustache as soon as I got home on Saturday night. I had consumed quite a few beers but I still managed to get that hair off my lip! While I had the goatee, Alana was not pleased. She said the whiskers hurt her when I kissed her. When I had the mustache, she wouldn’t even kiss me! I can’t blame her, but she missed out on my one and only offer of a free mustache ride! Oh well, it’s her loss.

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What The New York City Marathon Means To Me

I just found out that I was selected to run in the 2012 New York City Marathon.  By selected, I mean I put my name in a lottery and I got lucky enough for them to select my name.  So the fact that I was selected isn’t the same thing as qualifying for the Boston Marathon, but I am beyond excited that I got into New York!

I found out on a Thursday morning while I was at work.  The rest of the day was productive only in the sense that I was able to book a hotel room, check on flights, buy a souvenir T-shirt and hat, and post my victory on Facebook.  I then spent the rest of the day in a state of bliss. I actually got a little emotional about it!

Let me give you a little background.  Roughly 20 years ago, I worked with a guy who ran the NYC Marathon.  He said it was the highlight of his life and his proudest accomplishment.  This is a guy who had two kids and he ranked finishing the NYC Marathon above that!  After a while, I started running with him and another guy at lunch.  I was really slow, but they helped me with my form and gave me some tips to help me improve.  I learned about fartleks and intervals and how to enjoy running.  I started by running some 5ks and ended up running the Indianapolis Half Marathon.  That was the peak of my running career for almost two decades. Our company was sold, everyone moved on, and then I stopped running.

About 16 years ago, my divorce was brand new and I was just learning how to be alone.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was and where I wanted to go from here.  One day, I was flipping channels and I came across the NYC Marathon.  I said to myself, “I’m going to run that one of these days.”  I was on my couch, out of shape and probably hung over when I said that.  I didn’t take one step toward that goal for 13 years.  I saw it again a few years later and I had already given up on that goal.  I felt like I was defeated without even trying.  It took me those 13 years to take my first step toward the NYC Marathon.

In 2009, I was walking 45 minutes a day and I was feeling like I was in pretty good shape.  So I decided to try run/walking the same route.  The first time I ran, I could run for only one minute before I thought I was going to die!  I walked for 4 minutes, then ran another minute. I kept this up over the next few months gradually increasing the running time until I could run the same 45 minute walking course without stopping to walk.  It was during this period that I signed up for Team in Training to run the Flying Pig Marathon.  My body wasn’t ready for the rigors of training for a marathon!  I had hip pain so bad I eventually got a cortisone shot to help.  I ended up running the Flying Pig Half Marathon because I was going to run the San Diego Marathon a month later.  I broke my toe a week before that marathon, so my goal to run a marathon was put on hold.  To make a long story a little shorter, I rehabbed and then ran three marathons in 2011.

I did two of those marathons with Team in Training.  Running with Team is addictive to say the least!  I am committed to the Team and all it stands for.  I enjoy raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and I love running with my teammates.  But the NYC Marathon is all for me.  It’s my Boston.  It’s my Everest.  It’s my Pulitzer Prize (for my blog – there really should be an award for that!).  It’s my making good on the promise I made to myself 16 years ago.  I’ve been training for three years and I’m getting faster.  I have a goal to finish a marathon in under four hours.  When I get to New York, unless my competitive drive kicks in, I’m going to savor the experience and not give a shit about the time on the clock.  What I will remember years from now is how I felt when I crossed that finish line.  The clock started 16 years ago.  It’s time to finish.

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Sweet Dreams

Any adult who still thinks they can have “sweet dreams” is dreaming!  I woke up at 6:00 this morning due to the weirdest dream I’ve had in a long time, and I’ve had some doozies!  This one involved a bunch of my family and extended family gathering at the house I grew up in, only this was a newer and improved house.  I never went inside because the weirdness was outside.  I saw a nephew, who I haven’t seen in a few years, riding a bicycle with his girlfriend. I don’t even know if he has a girlfriend, but she was pretty.  I saw a few old friends from the neighborhood, and my brother who currently lives in China was there.  So far, this doesn’t seem weird.

I was outside carving some weird meat that turned into jello when you tried to put in on a plate.  So I found these jello glasses to put it in and my friend thought that was really smart, so he stole my serving.  I don’t like jello, in fact I hate jello!  I love alcohol but not when it’s put in a jello shot!  I won’t touch it then.  This weird meat was coming from some unidentifiable animal that was still alive and didn’t mind that we were carving it up. Then, for some reason, this animal turned into a dog with a really bad grooming job with patchy fur all over his body.  I asked my friend what to do and he said I would have to kill it by breaking its neck.  That’s when I woke up!

Where the fuck did that come from???  I can understand the family part of it since I’ll be seeing a lot of them at my wedding next month.  Alana is having stress dreams about the wedding, which makes sense.  But everything that happened after I saw my nephew doesn’t exist in the real world!  How is that shit even in my brain to be processed?  So I did what every person who has been freaked out by a dream would do – I went to google “dream interpretation.”  There were 19,100,000 results returned in 0.12 seconds.  I guess I’m not the only person having weird dreams!

My first attempt to interpret this was to find out what dreaming about a dog means.  This particular dog was black.  What I found was, “To see a black colored dog in your dream symbolizes the shadow aspect of a friend. The dark side of someone close to you is being revealed and you are able to see through to their true intentions.”  I’m on to you, Alana!  I can see your true intentions, I think.  It was a small dog.  What I found was, “To dream of small dogs, indicates that your thoughts and chief pleasures are of a frivolous order.”  Yeah, that’s pretty true.

I didn’t spend too much time on this, but I couldn’t find anything about what it means to kill a dog.  So I got curious and wondered what they had to say about killing cats.  There was no shortage of interpretations here!  My favorite was, “To dream of a cat, denotes ill luck, if you do not succeed in killing it or driving it from your sight.  But if you succeed in banishing it, you will overcome great obstacles and rise in fortune and fame.”  Killing dogs – bad.  Killing cats – money!

My next stop was to find out what dreaming about friends and family means.  I went back to the dreaming dictionary to the “F” page and found an entry for facebook!  If you’re dreaming about facebook, you might want to log off for a while!   Then, there was a banner ad featuring the face of Barack Obama right next to the entries for “Fairy Tale”, “Faithless”, and “Fake”.  Moving on.  For family, we have “To see your own family in your dream represents security, warmth and love. It could also symbolize bitterness, jealousy, or rivalry, depending on your relationship with your family.”  Jesus, that’s just no help at all!

Scrolling down, there is an entry for “Farting.”  “To dream that you are farting suggests that you are being passive aggressive. You need to express your feelings in a more direct manner. ” I’m pretty sure my farts are in a very direct manner!  “Feminine Napkin” – “Please see Maxi Pad.”  Finally, down to “Friends” I found, “to see your childhood friend suggests that you have been acting in a childish manner. You need to start acting like an adult.”  I sense a pattern now!  My dream was trying to tell me I’m childish and frivolous!  I think I’ll go with that and forget about the whole dog thing.  I like being childish and frivolous!  Now, it’s time for my second cup of coffee.  I don’t want to go back to sleep!

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I Do What I Damn Well Please!

Alana had to go to Hollywood for a business trip.  She left on Monday morning, which is harder than it sounds!  She likes to sleep a little later than 5:30 AM on most days, so getting up that early was a challenge for her.  I promised her I’d help her get out the door on-time, so I jumped out of bed at 5:30 ready to help her with her luggage.  She told me to go back to bed, but I just kept saying, “but I promised to help you!”  She explained that she still had to wash her face and do her hair and that I just needed to go back to bed.  So I did that and fell asleep until she was ready to walk out the door at 6:50.  I again jumped out of bed to help her with her luggage only to be told that she already took it to her car!  So my help consisted of waking up twice when I wasn’t needed and walking her to the door when she had to go.

Here’s our daily routine in a nutshell – I come home at around 5:30 every day, we spend 15 minutes or so reconnecting, we have dinner, and then she sends me to my man cave by saying “Go to your hole!”  We then spend the rest of the evening mostly by ourselves, but with frequent visits on commercial breaks.  Sometimes, she joins me in the man cave for a TV show of her choosing.  We have a great system that encourages freedom with periodic togetherness.

Now that she’s gone from Monday through Thursday, I get to do whatever the hell I want!  If I want to leave a light on in a room I’m not in, I’m going to leave the damn light on!  If I want to pee with the door open, I’m going to pee with the damn door open!  I might even leave the damn seat up!  I’m a rebel!  On a recent phone call, she asked me if I turned on the air conditioner.  I said, “It’s March!  I opened the damn windows!”  What the hell is wrong with that woman?

So Monday night arrives and I have the house to myself.  What did I do?  I mowed the lawn! That took less than an hour, I then had dinner, surfed the web, and watched TV in the Cave. Even though I could have watched TV wherever I damn well pleased, I was still in the Cave!   Going upstairs periodically made me remember she wasn’t there.

Tuesday, I spent the evening going to trivia at the Village Tavern in Montgomery.  You would think that I am doing that because she is gone and I “get to go out.”  When she’s home, she will wish I would stay home but she never complains when I go out.  Most of the time, I would rather stay home with her rather than drag her out somewhere she won’t enjoy as much as I will.  The one place I know she’ll usually go is Go Bananas Comedy Club which is where we had our first date and it’s always a good time.  I came home Tuesday night and I wasn’t able to tell her about my trivia expertise!

Wednesday night is always my run with Team in Training.  She is usually out on Wednesdays going to her tennis lessons, so we aren’t together until 9:00 or so.  This particular Wednesday, I was home early because no one I was running with wanted to go out for a beer! I came home, had some dinner, went to my Cave and watched TV.

She comes home on Thursday and she’ll be there when I get home.  When I get home, I’m going to tell her, “Bitch, you better step off – I’m going to do what I want!  And then I’ll make her dinner.  We’ll reconnect for maybe 20 minutes this time, and she’ll say, “Go to your hole!” But this time, I’ll know that she’ll be there when I come upstairs.  It’s pathetic, I know, but I’m still gonna do what I damn well please!  I just damn well please want to hang with my baby!

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I Feel Guilty About Not Watching EnoughTV

I used to watch all kinds of TV.  I remember watching TV in the days before remote controls and before the DVR!  With a good antenna, you could get all three networks plus a couple of the UHF stations (PBS and the like).  Then we got cable installed in our town and I was in TV heaven!  The picture was clear and you had so many choices!  I watched TV when I came home from school.  I watched TV every Saturday morning until at least noon.  There were shows you just didn’t want to miss, so you made damn sure you were home when that show was on!  As I got older, I found some shows that have become my lifetime favorites.  Shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, SCTV, and even the early years of Saturday Night Live were on late at night and were not to be missed!  I would even splash water on my face to help me stay awake sometimes!  I grew up with the wonders of TV.

When I could afford one, I bought a VHS recorder.  With this, I learned the pleasures of skipping past commercials, but it was very frustrating!  It was frustrating because I never knew which shows were on which tapes!  I’d spend more time finding a show than I saved in skipping the commercials!  Then, I got a second recorder and I invented the dual recording feature all those with DVRs have come to know and love.  I would record on one machine and watch something I recorded on the other machine.  I was a TV watching genius!  Then, the VHS machine got hungry and started eating my tapes!  That’s when I discovered TiVo.

What a wonderful invention TiVo was!  I now had no trouble finding the shows I recorded because they kept a handy list for me!  I could record a season pass and record every episode of every show I loved.  I was in TV heaven!  That was good until TiVo started to get personal. TiVo wanted to suggest other shows I might like based on shows I recorded.  At one point, I wondered if TiVo thought I was gay!  No, I do not want to watch Tom Cruise movies all the time!  No TiVo!  That’s a bad TiVo!  Then TiVo started to warn me that if I didn’t watch my older shows it was going to erase them.  So now I was forced to be a couch potato and watch a marathon of all the shows that were going to expire soon.  TiVo was hungry and needed more shows!  It was a blessing and a curse but I got to watch a lot of TV.

Then, along came the HD DVR from the cable company.  At first, it had as much space as TiVo. Now, I have a machine that has enough space to record full seasons of every show I like and keep it there until I want to watch them.  I thought the space was almost limitless, but I have it filled up at 80% of capacity.  I scroll to the bottom of the list to see the oldest shows I’ve recorded and I think I should probably watch that show.  But last night’s new shows look so enticing!  So I watch those instead while my older shows sit neglected.  Thank god DVR doesn’t suggest shows because I record Glee, Smash, American Idol, and Once Upon a Time.  If DVR suggested shows, I’m sure I’d be forced to watch Dancing with The Stars!  After a while, if I haven’t watched a series I’ve recorded, I just end up deleting it and canceling the series.  I’m like a one man Nielsen Machine!

These days, I have too many distractions to watch TV.  Now, I have the internet calling my name!  Facebook needs me!  Words with Nerds needs me!  There are too many funny sites to explore!  There is so much news to read!  I now watch TV with a laptop literally on my lap sometimes!  I see an actor and I can’t remember what other show they were on so I go to and look it up!  I need to know something and I can’t remember so I Google it.  I used to watch TV to relax and now I make it an immersive experience.  Except now, I find myself not even turning on the TV for hours.  The internet has sucked me in so deeply it won’t let go!  There are even times I’ll sit on the couch and read!  And my TV sits there like a spurned girlfriend waiting for me to notice her again.  “Remember me?  We used to be best friends! Now I feel like you don’t even notice me.  I used to be fat and heavy but now I’m sleek and thin but you don’t care!  You don’t love me!  You never loved me!”  I feel guilty.  I feel like I’m cheating on TV with the internet.

TVs problem is that it’s too needy.  “You don’t like what I have to offer?  How about this show, or this one, or how about I add 100 channels of everything you can ever want to watch? Will that bring you back?”  You’re just trying too hard, TV.  It’s not you, it’s me.  I’ve changed and I need to move on.  But don’t worry, I’ll still look at you and remember the good old days.  I will always love you.  Just make sure you don’t record Desperate Housewives just because I recorded House.  Thank you, TV.  I ❤ you!

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You Are What You Eat

I wonder what was on the menu when some genius came up with the cliche, “you are what you eat.”  What does that even mean?  You certainly can’t take that literally!  If you could, I would be known as “Delicious!”

I know what I’m supposed to do to eat well, I just don’t want to.  I go through phases of eating right, but I come back to eating the same stuff all the time.  Monday through Thursday, I’m diligent about what I eat.  Well, not Wednesday nights.  That’s when I run with Team in Training and we go out for dinner and beer.  I could eat right – the menu includes salads, right? Nope, I go for the mushroom and swiss burger every damn time!  And bring me your darkest beer!  If I want to drink water, I’ll get a Bud Light!  OK, so it’s back on track for Thursday. Friday rolls around and I can eat well until dinner.  If we aren’t buying a pizza, I’m making one. The one I make is actually very healthy for you and tastes amazing (that’s what she said – really she did, you can ask her)!  But you can’t have pizza without washing it down with a beer, can you?  Saturday rolls around, I go for a long run, and then it’s party time!  Everyone needs a day off, and this one is mine.

The funny thing is, even when I try to eat well, there is always someone who thinks the way I’m eating is unhealthy.  They’re probably right, but I don’t want to hear it!  When I go out to dinner with a group of people, the skinny people order from a different menu.  They always seem to get the healthiest item on the menu!  Have they gone over to the dark side and converted to “whole foods?”  Or, do they go home and have pizza and beer when we’re not looking?  I’ve looked at the healthy weight guidelines for my height and I could be 20 pounds lighter and still be considered healthy.  That’s just not going to happen!  I’ve been gaining and losing the same 10 pounds for three years now.  It’s the party weight that just won’t go away!

The only time I went on an extensive, life changing, “diet,” was the 18 month period while I lost 70 pounds using Weight Watchers.  I counted every “point” and tracked them religiously, which is a good analogy because Weight Watchers is a cult!  I’m not dismissing them, in fact I would encourage anyone wanting to lose weight to join them.  They know their stuff!  But going to a meeting is like going to church.  Every Saturday morning at 8:00 AM, even with a hangover, which happened quite often, I was at the meeting worshiping at the altar of WW. The meeting leader was more of a motivational speaker, so it was like going to a motivational seminar every week.  He told his story so often that I could get up there and recite it!  But he was able to help people see that they really could eat what they want, but only if they did it the right way – with portion control.  Telling food addicts that they can have a little food without eating it all is like telling an alcoholic that they can have a shot of liquor without drinking the whole bottle!

I think it boils down to my relationship with food.  I’ve been a big fan of food from the beginning.  Food will always be there for you.  Sometimes it waits too long for me to love it back by eating it that it spoils the relationship by turning green.  Then I have to dump it and get a fresh new food.  You should never keep a food past its expiration date thinking that it will get better with time.  Sometimes I eat something that I know is going to give me trouble in the morning, but I eat it anyway.  Who can resist such a hot tamale?  I often wonder if food gets jealous of other food.  Does the lettuce in the salad bowl look at the steak on my plate and think, “he likes steak more than he likes me!”  You both have so much to offer, can’t I love you both? Some foods just don’t belong with other foods.  They just don’t get along! And why is it that “cheating” on your diet feels so good?  Ice cream always looks at me and says, “come on, big boy, you know you want to eat me!”  So I give in even though I know that the steak and salad I just ate are going to find out I cheated on them with ice cream.

I guess if I am what I eat, then I’d have to say I’m pretty happy.  I eat happy foods and drink happy drinks.  I run a lot so I can stay close to a normal weight.  I actually practice portion control too!  I have one piece of advice for you to follow – nothing good will ever come from a Taco Bell drive-thru after midnight.  You don’t want to wake up to that person you took home from the bar at closing time, and you don’t want to wake up to a Taco Bell hangover!  Finally, if we are what we eat, then most men are pussies and most women are dicks!

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Junior High Freak Show

Ah yes, I remember my junior high days fondly.  Those were the days, weren’t they?  What? They weren’t???  Let’s recap, shall we?

Growing up in a small town meant there was only one high school and one junior high school. There were two elementary schools feeding into the junior high school which meant you knew half of your classmates when you entered the 7th grade.  You knew who the kids from the other school were because you hated them!  Well, I guess hate is too strong a word, but they were not cool!  It didn’t take long to make new friends (even from the dark side) because we were lumped together in a variety of classes.

Our school was experimenting with “tracks” which meant the smart kids were in Track 1, the almost smart kids were in Track 2, the almost dumb kids were in Track 3, and the dumb kids were in Track 4.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that was going on because you always saw the same kids in every class and you wondered what happened to some of those kids you used to know.  Of course they based this classification on those standardized tests we were forced to take.  I always did well with those tests, so I was put in Track 1.  That was not necessarily a good thing!  This meant I had to work hard to keep up!  I actually had to pay attention and do the homework!  Why couldn’t they put me in Track 2 so I could coast for the next two years? It didn’t help that I was following one year behind my sister who suffered from such an intense desire to please the teachers that she became an overachiever.  I entered 7th grade with the teacher’s expectation that I too would overachieve.  I was happy with just achieving! So I was deemed to be a student who was “not living up to his abilities.”  It’s not true!  My abilities include not really caring about pleasing authority figures, so I was right on target!

Socially, I was way ahead of my time!  I really knew how to talk to the ladies!  If I liked a girl, I would make sure she knew it by how I never talked to her.  There is one girl I remember from the 7th grade who ended up becoming my “girlfriend.”  I never held her hand, and I never kissed her!  Somehow she found out I liked her and she liked me, so we became an item for a week.  I’m not exaggerating!  It lasted one week!  At the end of the week, she decided she couldn’t handle my awesomeness and she moved on.  I think I said, “okay, that’s cool,” and then I breathed a huge sigh of relief because I really had no clue what I was doing!  I’m sure to this day that I ruined the other guys’ chances with her because she will always compare them to me.  Trust me – my skills did not improve when I reached the 8th grade!  Or the 9th grade.  Or yesterday!

How about gym class?  I’m sure my athletic skills would help me excel in gym class!  This was the only class that started with changing into our gym clothes, moved on into sports like dodgeball, volleyball, track & field, and every other sport except for one I may have excelled in, and then ended with nudity in the locker room!  At least in the locker room, I could show off my advanced puberty skills, right?  Oh wait, why does that guy have so much hair down there?  Are you supposed to be that hairy???  He even has hair in his armpits! What the fuck is going on here?!?!  If this happened to me today, I’d blame it on manscaping gone wild!  “Oh, you didn’t know this is how the girls like it?  My girlfriend loves it like this!”  I spent most of the 7th grade gym class wrapped in a towel.

Okay, so shop class should be good, right?  That’s the class where you learn to use tools to make things.  One of the larger employers in our town was a company that made tools.  If you wanted to work in that factory the rest of your life, you better excel at shop class!  So, while one guy was making an elaborate table leg with the lathe, and another guy was making a cabinet with a door and everything, this guy was using a band saw to cut wood into what I thought would be a Volkswagen Bug.  It was going to be a pen holder with the pen in the middle of my Bug.  So I cut the wood carefully into the shape of a Volkswagen.  I sanded it down, lacquered it up, and presented it to the teacher (who, if memory serves, was missing a finger or two – or maybe that’s wishful thinking).  He took one look at my Volkswagon, turned it upside down and declared it to be the funniest looking Mickey Mouse he had ever seen! Now I’ll never get that job in the factory!

Okay, so maybe junior high wasn’t all that good.  Then again, I think my sense of humor is stuck there!  Many of the things that made me laugh then make me laugh now.  They all involve bodily functions like farting, farting with your hand in your armpit, farting by blowing on the palm of your hand, belching, swallowing air so you could belch again, saying the alphabet while belching.  The list is endless!  One persistent rumor was that a football player set the record by farting for 14 seconds.  I wonder who thought to time that!  That guy is probably working for ESPN now.

As for me?  The awkward, nerdy kid became an accountant.  I figured out a long time ago that you can try to fit in where you don’t excel and look like a tool, or you can fit in doing what you do best and become King of the Nerds!

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An Open Letter to My Sons

I have three sons, the youngest of whom just turned 18.  They are all now legal adults!  Their mother and I divorced 16 years ago.  They didn’t live with me but when we had time together, I did my best to help guide them to this point in their lives.  I knew I had limited time with them, so I’ve often wondered how much influence I could have had over them.  So I’m writing them this letter to give them my rules for living so they can improve upon my successes, avoid my mistakes, and live a life that will make their kids proud.  I don’t know if my kids are proud of me, but I’m very proud of them!

Dear Boys,

When your mother and I divorced, I had a few well-meaning people warn me that children of divorce will have an extremely challenging life.  They told me you would have trouble in school, trouble with relationships, have psychological and anger issues. Instead, you turned into very resilient children. You never became a “child of divorce.” Your school work was exemplary, you were active in sports, and when you found jobs, you exhibited the work ethic I hoped I would see from you. I want to believe I had something to do with that, but I want you to know I give your mother credit for the majority of it.

Now that you’re adults, I want to give you my rules for living a happy, productive life:

Laughter is the best medicine.  When you learn to laugh at yourself, you can get through anything life throws your way. You’ve heard the saying, “you’ll look back on this and laugh one day.” Laugh today instead!  Laugh so much that people wonder about your sanity.  I gave the eulogy for my mother and I had my brothers and sisters and friends of the family laughing during the service.  Sure we cried before, during and after the service, but if you can laugh through your tears you’ll be okay. 

Be kind to everyone. whether they deserve it or not.  I learned this rule a long time ago and I’m still trying to perfect it. One day, I was driving to work. The guy in front of me at the light would not turn right on red even though there was clearly no traffic. I honked at him and got him to go. I turned right and followed him into the parking lot at work. He was the CEO of the company! I now gently tap the horn only when necessary. Be kind to everyone you know or don’t know, because that person you don’t know now could be someone very important in your life later. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.

Don’t let pride get in your way.  There will be many times where swallowing your pride is the best way to resolve a situation. Swallow hard and do the right thing. Be proud, but not prideful.

Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.  Honesty really is the best policy. When you lie to people, you create a divide between you and them. That lie will always keep you from closing that divide and prevent you from being close to them ever again. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is not true. What they don’t know hurts you. Cheating is a form of lying to yourself. If you think you can win by cheating, you have already lost. Stealing is wrong. I have no pearls of wisdom about that – it’s just wrong.

Love women just the way they are.  I love women!  I have more female friends than male friends!  Don’t expect your logical mind to ever figure out women because they aren’t ruled by logic. You will drive yourself crazy if you question a woman’s motivation for doing something. It makes sense to them, so it doesn’t need to make sense to you! Don’t fight with a woman, because you will lose! Even if you win, you lose. Go with the flow, enjoy their company, treat them with respect, and always open the door for them (even if they could bench press the building).

Learn how to work a room.  At any social gathering, it’s important to learn how to enter and exit conversations. If you’re at a cocktail party and you see someone nursing their drink and standing off to the side, talk to that person. Ask questions to find some common ground and talk the shit out of that topic. Don’t look around the room while you are talking to them just to see if there is someone else you’d rather talk to. When you are ready to move on, do it gracefully. Give them a firm handshake, look them in the eye and say, “It was great talking to you.”

Handle your finances wisely.  Don’t use credit for consumer goods. If it’s something that will last longer than the payments use credit. This means you buy houses and cars with credit. You might have to use credit to furnish the house. You should never use credit for impulse purchase or for groceries. If you need to use credit to buy groceries, it’s because you are paying so much on your credit card bills that now you have to charge everything. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Don’t do it! 

Love yourself.  There will be many times in your life where you will not be proud of yourself.  You will do something you’re ashamed of.  You are not alone – this is human nature.  As hard as we try, we can’t live a perfect life.  When you mess up, learn from it and never do it again.  Then, you have to forgive yourself and let it go.  You can do this only if you love yourself and respect and value who your are.  Loving yourself opens up your ability to love someone else and accepting them as they are.  Then, when they fail to be their very best, you can be there to help them rather than scold them.  Loving yourself lets you love others freely.

Friend quality is better than friend quantity. Having a few close friends who know you as well as you know them, and they love you anyway, is better than having a bunch of “friends.” Your best friends should be your spouse, your brothers, and a few other close friends you would trust with your life.

You aren’t the only one. There will come a time when you are surrounded by people who appear happy and successful and who seem to have it all figured out. When they are alone, they have doubts, fears and frustrations and they question why all those other people seem to have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out all the time. Everyone has doubts, fears and frustrations. You’re not alone.

If all else fails, follow your instincts. You have been given the gift of intelligence and good looks, thanks to yours truly, and you’ve proven that you’re moral, ethical, and caring individuals. But there will be times where you don’t know what to do. Your conscience will never lead you astray. If what you’re considering feels wrong, don’t do it.

Finally, if you could just do one thing, it should be “enjoy life.” If you use the above tools, you should be well on your way to enjoying life to the fullest. We are on this earth for a mere blink of an eye. I hope to live long enough to read what you want to pass on to your children.



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