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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Made From Scratch

Gentlemen should know how to tie a proper knot. This guy has a half Windsor.
It’s not that Son One is a perfectionist, but he spent an entire afternoon Googling the proper way to tie a noose for our front porch Halloween skeleton.  Anything less than a gallows-approved knot was unacceptable.  You’d think a big guy with a sharp axe was scoring the pop quiz.

“Mom, we don’t want to be a bad example. We have to show little kids that we do things right.” 
I’m sure the skeleton appreciates his attention to detail.

On the other hand, this is the same guy that collects pet hair tumbleweeds in his room until he has enough fur to reconstruct the Chewbacca, the Wookie from Star Wars.  He’s probably planning a full-out attack on his brother’s room, The Death Star.  I’ve seen pizza boxes pulled in that place liked they were caught in a stuffed-crust tractor beam.  I’ve never seen one leave.  The only thing that's ever escaped was Son Two's baby kitty who he rescued from the edge of That Great Sandbox in the Sky just months ago. Baby Kitty has spent the intervening time scratching out a name for herself in world domination.

But now I’m beginning to rethink letting the guys decorate the house for Halloween.  I imagined a few fake spider webs, a smiling Jack-O-Lantern, and a stuffed scarecrow on the front porch bench would do the trick.  Right now the front yard is strung with police tape and they’re discussing where to hide the body.

There’s something about hearing a voice from the bushes yell, “Mom, where do we keep the spare propane tanks?” that makes you appreciate tissue paper ghosts.

It took me a while to realize: these kids learned about life from video games.  Call of Duty was their instruction manual for life.  They’re not decorating the yard; they’re fortifying it against marauding invaders disguised as gypsies, thieves, and Miley Cyrus.
Decorator touches make a house a home.
I called a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and scaled back the Home Security alert.

“You mean you’re going to let the tiny humans walk right in and confiscate our candy?” Son one brandished a Nerf Gatling gun that would unload more rounds than Shirley Temple has ringlets.

“We’re going to give it to them.”

A cheer went up.  “Now you’re talking!”

“I mean we’re going to give them the candy.”

“Without a major skirmish?”

“And without a police report.”

“What if the Zombies invade?”

“We’ll give them extra Snickers bars.”

They locked eyes. “Better put away our secret weapon.”

Son Two unleashed Danger Cat, the attack kitten, from his backpack.

Good thing. The Zombies wouldn’t stand a chance. 

There's no such thing as extra lives in Candy Land.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Layla & Levi's

Now that the kids are old enough to leave at home without having to shell out the bucks for a SLED check on a babysitter, we’re able to go out more often. A year or two ago, the man who promised to love, honor, and make sure the dishwasher never quit sprang for tickets to an Eric Clapton concert.

You could tell by the crowd outside that it was going to be an interesting evening. A businesswoman in black heels and hose jostled for position next to a sixty year old hippie in a gauze tie-dyed shirt that looked like it had been stitched together from a box of Fruit Loops. I think he was her date. Worn Levi’s with the red tag far outnumbered designer jeans.

At the concert, I learned three things. Baby Boomers have wide and varied, by which I mean bad, taste in clothes, Baby Boomers think they can dance, and Baby Boomers automatically stand for Layla like a seven-ten split for a cross-eyed bowler.

But when the lights go down, we have one thing in common. We have the music in us. I saw three old men with tattoos where their biceps used to be, cover something in the vicinity of their Rock ’n Roll hearts with sun-basted hands when the opening chords of Layla split the speakers. And when “Wonderful Tonight” blasted romantically across the crowd, there wasn’t a woman among us that didn’t zip back through the Time Tunnel of Youth to the most romantic night of our lives. Couples locked eyes, lip-synched the lyrics, and fell in love all over again.

We may drive minivans, SUV's, and hybrids by day, but we still “get off on ’57 Chevies” at night.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fashion Scents

Occasionally one of the guys will accidentally wear something that matches.  If I’m very careful and don’t mention it out loud, there’s a chance they will wear it out in public, and people will think I’ve had a positive influence.

The guys in my house don’t do their colors.  They go by seasonal camo.  The proper camouflage for summer in the South is red mud, which coordinates well with catsup.

I grew up in a house full of girls.  Coordinating clothes were not on the list of the Seven Deadly Sins.  That list was reserved for lipstick that didn’t match your nail polish, and bra straps that showed.  These days nail polish matches your favorite food, and bras are worn like overcoats. Any day now, I expect Playtex to come out with a waterproof, hooded model with zip out lining.  Or a Totes model that opens with the touch of a button.

Fashion is easier for guys.  The only clothes-related conversations I’m allowed to have with my sons are

1) Smell this.

2) Is this a color or meatloaf?

I understand now why Duck Dynasty is such a hit.  In a world where Heidi Klum and Giselle Bundchen make a million dollars for one romp down the runway, my household follows Uncle Si for fashion.  The only accessory they need is a Tupperware glass of iced tea.  And since today’s Southern women collect Tupperware the way our ancestors hoarded the family silver, and if it lasted long enough to pump before Bubba cleaned out the supply, our hose pipes would run sweet tea, we could rule the lower Mason-Dixon Line Fashion Week.
Wonder if Calvin Klein comes in camo?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Shut Up and Shut Down

“Mom, there’s a “Death before Dinner” sign on the kitchen door.”

“I know.  We’re having a shutdown to show you how government works.”

Son One pulled a bag of leftover Easter Candy from his underwear drawer and snapped the ears off a crusty rabbit.  “Cool. I never thought I’d really need my Zombie Apocalypse stash.  Good thing I’m prepared.” 

My stomach launched a shutdown of its own.

The plan was to let the family experience the Government Shutdown on a small scale so they could identify with the major problems.  I didn’t realize I was dealing with Duck Dynasty:  Armed for Armageddon.  I was surrounded by an army of Uncle Si.

The first thing I thought of was a ban on The Facilities. There’s nothing like a plumbing shutdown to make people see how things flow. Or, more importantly, what happens when they don’t.  But somehow I could see everything flowing back my way, so I abandoned Operation Waste Management.  Because those of us on the grass roots level comprehend the thought behind getting caught with your pants down.

Next, I tried a laundry room shutdown, mostly because I don’t like to sort.  Also, I’m fairly sure that nasty things await me at the bottom of the laundry basket.  But my household is made up of all guys, and the thought of a household full of men with access to a week’s worth of dirty underwear smacks of Nuclear Holocaust.

And so I proceeded with my final idea, a Kitchen Shutdown, which involved tossing out the half-full boxes of stale Fruit Loops which people only eat in times of desperation and allowing the reserves of snack cakes and coffee to dwindle.  It’s a hard lesson, but if you’re going to do something, you have stand your grounds.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I forgot about the Labradors.  And the Dachshund.  And the kitten.  And the coffee-deprived buccaneer brandishing his empty cup and mumbling something about “planks” and “booty.”

Perhaps if Congress had to contend with drooling Labradors guarding the kitchen door and an attack kitten ready to swoop down on unattended chicken salad, they would be a lot more attentive to the chicken coop before the feathers started to fly.