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Fly High, Young One, But Visit the Ol’ Nest Please

27 Aug

by Roger White

 

“…the eyes of Texas are upon you,

’Til Gabriel blows his horn.”

 

The wife and I recently experienced the hopeful heartbreak of helping our firstborn bird to fly the nest. Somebody should have prepped us for this one. Jokes and tender clichés aside, this was a much more difficult task than we ever imagined. We pitched in as Lindsey gathered necessities and knickknacks from her room—the only room she’s ever called her own in her lifetime—and moved into her dorm at The University of Texas at Austin. Now, it is true that we live in Austin, and it is true that Linz is only about 11 minutes away, but to her emotionally fragile parents, she may as well have enrolled at the University of Guam. Our baby’s gone! The dingoes have eaten our baby! Wait, that’s different.

Linz in her dorm

The days that have passed since our lovely Longhorn’s departure have been filled with little melancholy milestones, and they have come upon us at odd and unexpected times. You veteran parents know what I mean: the first quiet night it hits you that she’s really not around; the first time you start to call her down for supper and realize there’s no need; the first time you walk into her darkened room to empty her wastebasket, only to see that there’s no trash to empty. I don’t think my eyes have been this stubbornly moist since the last time I watched “Brian’s Song.”

 

Funny, but one of the things we found that we miss most is Linz’s morning call, that melodious rumbling din we’ve all become quite accustomed to around our household. Every family member always knew when our oldest offspring was up and at ’em when Linz blew her nose in that unique honk of hers.

 

“Linz, you up? Almost time for school.”

 

“WHAWNNNK!!”

 

“She’s up.”

 

How I miss that whawnnnk.

 

young bird old birdOf course, from our daughter’s point of view, she may be regretting the fact that she didn’t look into the University of Guam. It’s only been a matter of days, and yet the wife and I have found dozens of reasons (excuses) to drop in on our undergrad at the Forty Acres. “Hi, sweetie, I figured you could use some more highlighters.” “I’m at the front desk, Linz, I thought you might need another blanket.” “It’s us again, Linz. We have a rutabaga.” “Linz, the front desk people are giving us dirty looks again.” You get the idea. We lobbied to have our own dorm key made, but the UT people frowned upon that notion.

 

It’s an exciting time for the young bird, full of nervous anticipation, hard work, new people, grand adventure, as she flies on her way. Kind of tough on us old birds, though, back in the old nest. We still have one fledgling not quite ready to take wing. When that baby flies in a couple of years, we may be ready for the old bird asylum.

 

Hook ’em, Linz. We know you’ll do wondrous things. And we hope you remember where the old nest is. We have fresh fruit and Ramen!

 

“…The eyes of your folks are upon you,

So Lindsey blow your horn!”

 

P.S. It was close, but Mr. R.L. Mitchell of Baton Rouge beat Bob Kolar of Austin to win the “Find the Fib Follies” contest from our last episode. They both correctly guessed that the weeeinventor of the “para-shirt” story was about as factual as a three-dollar bill—but R.L. wins the big bucks by beating Bob to the “send” button. A bunch of other folks got it right, too, but they were too slow. You know who you are. I gotta make up better whoppers. Thanks for the kind words, guys. You like me! You really, really like me! Oh!

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Keep Your Head Down During the BFF Wars

13 Feb

by Roger White

 

So I stepped out onto my front porch the other day into a pile of brightly colored bikini tops. There were at least six or eight of these sexy swimwear items crowding my front door. My first thought: “Well, it’s finally happened. The neighborhood womenfolk have been spying me working out through my bedroom window for so long now that they just can’t take it anymore. My guns, my six-pack, my dimpled charm—they were simply too much to resist. So the wives and moms of Travis Country collectively lost it and decided to pay homage, Tom Jones style. With the lines to the man“What’s New, Pussycat?” sauntering through my mind, I reached down to take the offerings, half expecting names and phone numbers to be hidden among the intimate apparel.

 

“Oh.” Then it hit me—these were return items in my younger daughter’s ongoing BFF wars.

 

 Let me attempt an explanation. If you are not the parent of teenage daughter types, well, then, lucky you. Let me start over. If you are not the parent of teenage daughter types, you may not understand that drama runs extremely high in this species. In fact, if Mr. Maslow had been raising a teenage daughter when he was developing his “hierarchy of needs” philosophy, then his list of basic human necessities would be ranked something like this: 5. Shelter; 4. Food; 3. Water; 2. Oxygen; 1. Drama. Like so.

 

It seems, if I’ve interpreted correctly what little I could catch of my daughter’s version gossip girlsof recent events, that a certain group of friends are, like, so jealous of a certain person’s ongoing, like, relationship, with a certain boy, so, like, this certain group of friends are giving the cold shoulder to this person until she, like, shows them more attention. As if. Duh.

 

Aha, pals versus passion. The crew versus the crush. I vaguely remember similar situations back in my high school days, and I must say that we handled things very differently. Of course, this was a bygone era, and I was a guy. I recall that if one of our group was lucky enough to actually find a girl who could tolerate him for more than a week, we simply wished him well—and hated him behind his back. Then we followed the unfortunate couple around the school halls making lewd, disgusting noises, and we occasionally hunted down their makeout spot to shine flashlights and blast airhorns. Yeah, we were much more mature about these things.

 

Of course, none of this even remotely applies to me today. These days, as married as long as we’ve been, the wife looks at me after I come home from hanging with my crew (Steve) and sighs, “Oh, you back again already?” Yeah.

 

So anyway, that’s the reason for all the bikini tops on my doorstep. The BFFs are saying to my young one, “Here are your things back. Clothes and makeup trading is, like, off until you come to your senses.”

deardad 

My delicate job in all of this, I’ve found from experience, is to nod or shrug as appropriate and say absolutely nothing. I learned that if I agree too readily with my daughter’s harsh appraisal of Heather, Ashley, and/or Brittanie Anne while the wars are in progress that this always comes back to bite me. Hard. “Yes, you’re right,” I made the mistake of saying one time trying to soothe dear daughter’s hurt feelings. “Brittanie Anne can be pretty snotty.” Of course, during the ensuing BFF truce, I heard my daughter proclaim to Brittanie Anne, “My dad thinks you’re snotty.”

 

Lord help me.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

Daddies, It’s OK to Miss Your Little Girls

28 Aug

by Roger White

Watching my oldest daughter stride so smartly into her senior year of high school, and my youngest girl, a sophomore, confidently follow in her steps, I found myself struck recently with a peculiar mix of great pride and vague twinges of guilt. It took me some soul-searching and serious contemplation—and serious contemplation comes grindingly hard for me these days—to determine the root of my emotional mélange, but I think I figured it out: I miss my little girls. And I feel guilty for missing them because they’re not even gone!

But in a way, they are.

Somewhere along the line, at some moment in time among those precious years, my little girls grew up. Somewhere between those nights reading them Goodnight Moon while they settled to sleep in their Winnie-the-Pooh footsies and then suddenly watching them, dressed so beautifully, walk out the door with their boyfriends, my babies became young women. How did that happen?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll the old jokes about sitting on the front porch with a shotgun aside, watching one’s little girls mature into womanhood is such a tough and tender time for fathers. It’s not so much that I’m not the No. 1 man in their lives anymore. Heck, most of my daughters’ boyfriends so far have been pretty good guys—most of them, mind you. And if you don’t know which list you’re on, boyfriends out there, that’s intentional. Watch your step. No, it’s the small things I miss—those little girl moments like the times I would take them for a ride up the stairs, either piggyback or on my feet, as bedtime came; those long summer days at the neighborhood pool when they would yell for me to throw them higher into the air for that great splash; the giggles and smiles I’d receive when I’d bring them little toys and trinkets; and the unashamed kisses and hugs I somehow took for granted. One of my sweetest memories of those days is the time I was tucking my youngest in for the night, and she asked me: “Daddy, can I marry you when I grow up?” Gets me every time when I think about that.

Now that they’re teenagers, most shows of affection—and bits of parental advice—are usually met with a long roll of the eyes and a sarcastic “Oh, Dad!” But I know that’s only normal. The species humanus teenageus can be a snarling, confounding breed. My wife and I often sit and ponder when that time will come when they first realize we’re not complete lamebrains and they utter those cherished words: “Mom and Dad, you were right!”

And now that I’ve had time to work through my thoughts, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s OK to miss my little girls. They’re big girls now, and I love them with all of my heart for who they are and for the bright, talented adults they’ll become. One of the things I’m most thankful for is that even though I’ll always miss those days of Barbies and cartoons and forts made of bedsheets—and letting them do makeovers on me in their Two Sisters Salon—I didn’t miss the days as they happened. It wasn’t all roses; all parents know and ruh rohappreciate the great challenge, the tremendous patience, and the utter lack of sleep involved in raising little ones—but I wouldn’t trade those days for anything in the world. Well, on second thought, if I had it all to do over again, I’d skip the fingernail polish. How on earth do you get that out?

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Well, Hit Me with an Anvil–It’s Contest Time Again

25 Jun

by Roger White

 

OK, OK, you don’t have to klonk the Spouseman over the head with an anvil. Speaking of, you don’t see too many anvils these days, do you? Think about it. When, in your daily comings and goings, have you come across a nice, sturdy yet aesthetically pleasing anvil recently? Critics of modern society may hold forth about how the increasingly technological, service-oriented nature of our economy today has killed such former life staples as record albums, newspapers, actual books, travel agencies, home phones, and the pleasure of becoming permanently out of touch with that behold the anvilglommy high school friend, but I say a true death knell for the world that was is the marked lack of anvils. There was once a time when every decent home needed a good anvil. Nowadays, I’ll bet you can go a whole year without even saying the word “anvil.” And this is so because we simply don’t make things anymore. We tweet. We blog. We text. We don’t plow and dig and forge things. Today’s kids may not even understand the term.

 

Old guy: “I need me a good anvil.”

 

Young guy: “What’s that? An Advil? Got a headache?”

 

Having said all that, however, I did find a reputable anvil supply house—on the internet, ironically enough. For all of your anvil needs, visit www.anvils4sale.com. A classic, German double-horn anvil will set you back about $2,700, but if you’re not fussy, you can land a decent, used church window anvil for right around a thousand bucks. I’m not exactly sure what a church window anvil is, but it sounds righteous.

 

I’ve been told by more than one Spouse reader that I tend to ramble. This may be true. Let me just say the word “anvil” one more time, and we can get to the meat of this column: Anvil. OK, I’m good.

 rambler guy

So, anyway, the whole reason I didn’t want to be klonked with a church window anvil is because you guys have been clamoring for another contest—namely the Movie Mashup. In retrospect, I realize it’s been since last December since we mashed up some good movies, so here we go. Father John Connor, you’re now eligible to participate again. And thanks for the rosary beads.

 

If you recall, what we have here, fellow catnip cosmonauts, is a collection of famous lines from movies. However, quotes from two different movies have been squished together to make one line. Here’s a for instance: “What we got here is failure to phone home.” This is, quite obviously, a collision of “Cool Hand Luke” and “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial.” Get it? No? Okay, here’s another one: “My precious goes all the way to eleven.” That’s a combo platter of “Lord of the Rings” and “This is Spinal Tap.” Or as I call it, “Lord of the Spinal Rings.”

 

So. Below (or above if you’re reading this upside down) are 10 Movie Mashups. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to tell moi what two movies got cozy and had relations to make the mixed-up quote. The first 18,427 people to respond with any cinderfella storysemblance of an answer win a genuine “Jesus is Coming, Hide the Bong” bumper sticker. If you get pulled over by the cops for displaying said bumper sticker, I will not be held accountable. E-mail moi at rogdude@mail.com with your best guesses. Void in Maine, Oshkosh, and in that little gin joint over by 5th Street. Ready? Set? Bang.

 

  1. “You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been Mister Tibbs.”
  2. “Love means never having to round up the usual suspects.”
  3. “You’re gonna need a bigger damn dirty ape!”
  4. “Attica! Attica! Toga! Toga!”
  5. “Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become a martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
  6. “Say hello to my little wire hangers.”
  7. “Shane, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”
  8. “As God as my witness, I’ll never see dead people again.”
  9. “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets a box of chocolates.”
  10. “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice elephant in my pajamas.”

BONUS: “I’m gonna get medieval on your pod bay doors, HAL.”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Blood Is Thicker Than Ink, Hopefully

18 Sep

by Roger White   

To My Dear Lovely Daughters,

I noticed the other day as I picked you up from high school that several of your schoolmates—guys and girls—were sporting all shapes and sizes and colors of tattoos on various parts of their bodies. Now, whether these were the permanent kind or not I haven’t a clue, but something tells me that at least some of the pigmented Picassos were of the needle and pain variety.

Now, far be it from me to disparage the youth of today or grouse against freedom of expression simply because I answer roll call as a “duddy, comma, fuddy, antique variety.” Please understand that I am trying hard to keep my mind pried open with regard to using one’s epidermis as a canvas for skulls and hearts and slogans and tribal images and mysterious Asian-looking symbols and whatnot. (Note: I kinda have a notion that true Asian-speaking people could be having a bit of fun in the tattoo parlors by telling customers that certain symbols represent such qualities as strength and courage, when they really translate to “egg fried rice” or something.)

But anyway. In my day (I know, your favorite three words), but in my day, people with tattoos were chiefly hardened criminals, old sailors, and motorcycle gang types. And the tattoos were simple and simply placed. You had about three tattoos to choose from back then: a name (mostly Mom), a battleship, or a mermaid. They were one, two colors max—and they went on the guy’s bicep. Women were not allowed to have tattoos then. The women who did have them were considered of dubious virtue.

Girls, I know times have changed. I understand that tattoos now adorn the bods of everyone from athletes to bankers to moms in the grocery store. Heck, viewing any football or basketball game today is like watching a prison riot in my book (see duddy, comma, fuddy above). I read recently that no less than 21 percent of adult Americans now have a tattoo. Twenty-one percent. That’s about one in five, if I remember my trigonometry.

So I guess the reason I’m writing you, my precious offspring, is to say I understand if you are considering staining your skin—permanently—because your pals are doing it. Just a few notes to consider, however, while you’re pondering, OK? First off, do you know where I read that 21 percent figure I quoted you? On the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site, that’s where. Do you also know that licensed tattoo artists are supposed to have bloodborne pathogen training because of the risk of spreading disease, AND that the Red Cross prohibits a person who has received a tattoo from donating blood for 12 months unless the procedure was done in a state-regulated and licensed studio using sterile techniques? Hmm? Also, there are no federal regulations regarding tattoo parlors, and believe it or not, not all ink places abide by state regs.

But really, it’s fine with me. Oh, here are a few more tidbits:

Diseases and conditions that can be transmitted by the use of unsterilized tattoo equipment or contaminated ink include:

• Surface infections of the skin

• Hepatitis B

• Hepatitis C

• Tuberculosis

• Tetanus

• HIV

• Allergic reactions to tattoo pigments

• Reactions triggered by exposure to sunlight

• Allergic conditions caused by certain trace-element metals in pigments

• Tattoo burns caused by MRI scans

• Dermal reactions such as granulomas, various lichenoid diseases, collagen deposits, discoid lupus erythematosus (yike), eczematous eruptions, hyperkeratosis, and keloids

• Infections due to contaminated ink or ink diluted with non-sterile water

Now, say you change your mind about that beloved ink blot later in life. It’s true, girls. You may have regrets down the road about toting Justin Bieber’s face and mop of hair on your backside for the rest of your days. I read that several physicians who specialize in tattoo removal estimate that about 50 percent of people who get inked later want one or more tattoos removed. They do have laser removal these days, a procedure that folks liken unto getting their skin splattered with hot bacon grease for several hours, but if the tattoo is extensive, sometimes removal requires sanding down the skin to remove layers, cryosurgery, or even excision, in which a surgeon goes in with a scalpel and closes the wound with stitches. Larger tattoo removal may require skin grafts. Yes, skin grafts.

Just some things to think about, girls. I’ll have body piercing info for you in my next letter.

Love ya,

Dad

(Note to all you gorgeously inked folks out there—and to the artists who ink them—no offense intended, especially if you’re as large as my friend Big Joe. Heck, I have some inked friends, relatives even. My nephew has Wile E. Coyote on his ankle. This is simply a letter to my daughters, whom I still regard in my heart as ages 7 and 5, respectively. Spouse out.)

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.