Tag Archives: me

Top 15 Reasons I Will Be Passed Over for Father of the Year 2008

For a relatively intelligent guy, I make a lot of stupid mistakes. This also holds true when it comes to my parenting style (if, by “style”, we mean “series of not well thought out choices”). It is because of these that each year I jokingly suggest that I am not a likely candidate for Father of the Year. Here are the top 15 reasons why this year is not looking good…

15.If Found, Please Call…
While at the Renaissance Festival, it was pointed out to me that many of the other parents had written their phone numbers on a sticker on their child. Not to be outdone, I wrote my phone number and the phrases “Do Not Rape” and “No Kidnapping” in permanent black sharpie on both children on their arms and stomach. Sharpies are, as it turns out, more permanent that one would think.

14.Cody’s Giant Head
I’m sure that there is a special place in hell for people that purposely try to make someone else self conscious about a part of their body. I’m sure that the part of hell set aside for parents that do it to their children must be extra specially horrific. (But damn, look at the boy’s head!)

13.Tricking Children into Swearing
I am absurdly amused by the sound of swearing coming from my children, so much so that I get crazy enjoyment out of trying to trick them into swearing. They are too old for my favorite (having them sound out the spelled out version of a naughty word), but there is always value in the attempt. Most recently, that attempt has been in the form of foreign words and phrases.

12.Birthday Slaps
In 2006, an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” changed the lives of my children and I in a very specific (and ultimately painful) way. It started the birthday slap bet. Now, a good parent certainly wouldn’t allow his children to beat him about the face and neck in excess of thirty times, nor return the favor; but it is so funny. To be honest, this is probably the last year of the event; frankly, the kids are too damned big, and this shit is beginning to HURT.

11.Adam Sandler is Rarely Appropriate
Sitting around the table laughing at funny songs, everyone remembers the “Chanukah Song” (all three versions) and the “Thanksgiving Song” is safe enough; but what happens when you forget and queue up “At a Medium Pace” for the kids? What happens is they get the lyrics:

“Spit on your hand and stroke my cock at a medium pace,
play with my balls and tell me how big they are…

before you get a chance to hit stop. That was a great moment for us all.

10.Turkish Coffee
This is a gag that I have fallen for many times: the kids want to try something that I am consuming, I am sure that the flavor will dissuade them, and it utterly fails to. This iteration involved Turkish coffee at Al Sultan, which is particularly strong. I hand the little cups to each child assuming they’ll sip it, hate it, and move on. Instead, they sip it, catch the minty leave-behind , and proceed to down a full shot each. Any drink dispensed in shot form is definitely not a child’s drink. Most adults probably already knew this.

9.Extra Strong Salsa
Many of my moments of ineptitude stem from playing practical jokes on children that probably are best not done to such small people. In this case it was placing some insanely hot salsa in the center of Amber’s burrito. To give you an idea, I tried a dab the size of a pea, and it was PAIN personified. In Amber’s burrito, I placed about two teaspoons. She was feeling rough afterwards. Perhaps I should have tasted it first.

8.Enjoy the Nightmares
I had already seen the movie “Hot Fuzz” once, and couldn’t recall any bad parts so when the kids wanted to watch it with me, I saw no problems with it. As it turns out, there is a rather fantastic amount of blood in that movie; cartoonish amounts, actually. Whoops. To add insult to injury, each scene kept getting more and more grotesque than the one before until, when a certain building piece aligned (with great momentum) with a certain character’s head, even Amber said “I can’t believe we are allowed to watch this.” Nor can I, baby, nor can I.

7.Should Milk be Chunky?
At dinner, I pull out a nearly empty milk jug, noting that it is a full week past the expiration date. The sniff test is ambiguous, it doesn’t smell BAD, but it doesn’t smell good either. Amber picks up the jug and, with no fanfare, takes several huge swallows. She then confirmed that it doesn’t taste “quite right” then, seeing my discomfort, proceeded to put chocolate syrup in the jug, and finished off every last drop, punctuating her completion with a loud burp. You have to admire that commitment to fucking with me, even as your stomach turns.

6.Cold Showers
A simple formula: a pitcher of ice cold water, quiet feet, and an unsuspecting child in the shower minding his or her own business.

5.Children are not Cows
While visiting my fiance’s family farm, it occurred to me that the kids had never before seen an electric fence, so after a bit of time spent assuaging their fears, they were convinced to touch it. What I wasn’t aware was that modern, thyristor driven fences differ in many ways from the old style fences I was used to; the most notable of those ways was in intensity and duration of intensity. Testing the fence after the kids each complained of its strength showed me that this fucker HURT. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…oops.

4.Just Like Their Father
While driving somewhere, on a whim, I dug a booger from my nose and wiped it on my son’s arm expecting the obvious reaction. Instead, he calmly looked at me, scooped it up with his finger, and popped it into his mouth. “Delicious,” he uttered. There is a great deal of me in this child. (No pun intended)

3.Hunger Strike
Many of these items seem to relate to what my children eat; this relates to what they occasionally do NOT eat. More than once they have allowed me to sleep in, and when lunch time nears, the following conversation takes place:

Me: Alright, who’s hungry?

Them: We are starving, we haven’t eaten yet!

Me: You didn’t have breakfast?

Them: No, we were out of cereal.

The time to mention this would probably have been before lunch, eh?

2.The Beatings Will Continue…
I walk into the living room, preparing to don my belt when Amber takes off down the hall ahead of me. Overtaken by my inner hunter, I instinctively lash out with my belt, scoring an accidental direct hit on the back of Amber’s arm with my metal-studded belt.

Oh, it gets worse.

Cody observes that it couldn’t have hurt THAT much, and I take over 15 attempts to snap him in the ass with it before accidentally contacting his lower back. Best…father…evar.

And the grand winner, the reason of all reasons that I will not be getting the coveted “Father of the Year” prize this year is…

1.Birds and Bees
My ex and I decide to have “the talk” with the kids. As such things go, “us” talking to the kids tends to mean “me” talking while she nods along helpfully. This was no exception, and I did what I do best—extemporaneously recite off the cuff facts and manufacture a lecture from thin air. Most of the time this works out quite well; most of the time I’m not speaking to children. I cannot profess to recall everything that I touched on, but I can say with absolute certainty that the concepts of beastiality, masturbation, birth control, and multiple-partner-sex came up. Yes, the first item on the list was beastiality. No, I don’t know how that came about.

As I have said, it’s not looking good for this year. Maybe next? What is, I suppose, most troubling with this list is that it is not yet Thanksgiving as I write it, and these 15 came fairly quickly and easily. I still have the entire month of December during which I can make even more stupid mistakes. It is rather scary when you think about it.


 

[Edit] I can add another to this list, as I allowed the kids to read this list while I was getting ready this morning. It was only when they both giggled maniacally and I glanced over their shoulder that I realized there was, perhaps, something worse than playing the Adam Sandler song for them; that being, of course, typing out the lyrics for them to read. Well played!

The Photo that Won’t Die!

As I had briefly whined about in an entry several months ago, HFCC has been using a particularly horrific picture of me for some of their press. Of course, that was in August, and no mention of any more advertising travesties have been made to me since that time, so I was feeling pretty confident that the situation was over. Until today.

While walking down the hall one of the instructors uttered the cryptic sounding statement, “Hey, featured student!”

“What?”, thought I.

A short while later, one of the workstudy students opened a browser window and the default homepage opened up. The HFCC main page.

…and that’s when we saw it.

Featured Student: Jeremy Lance

Clicking through the link brings me to more horrifying visions…

Jeremy Lance - Super Genius

Yes, the picture that will not die… WILL NOT DIE!

It’s not that I’m not flattered. I really am. Truly. But this is an atrocious picture of me. I don’t really look like this. At all. Even a bit. Do I? And isn’t “Marketing Entrepreneur” overselling the case just a tad? I mean, Marketing Entrepreneur? Really?

The Photo that Won’t Die (Revisited)

As I have mentioned once or twice, there is this particularly horrific picture of me that the HFCC PR department took that resurfaces periodically with the apparent intent of causing me embarassment. In this picture’s last adventure I was the “featured student” and the photo was on the front page of the website. Not so bad, I mean, how many people go to the web site, and more importantly, how many people actually read the front page?

This week, they upped the ante. This came in the mail:

Oh the humanity... or was that 'huge manatee'...

I am rather impressed, however, that they find different soundbytes from the lengthy interview process to use for each advertising method. This one reads (for those that can’t see it):

I’m the custodial parent to two children, ages nine and ten. Spending time with my kids is important. Being an HFCC co-op student really works well with my schedule. I’m able to work and take classes while my kids are in school. I can even see improvement in my children’s schoolwork now that I’m around more.

Oh, and this time, I’m a…

Former soldier, US Army; Marketing Entrepeneur; Computer Software Developer; Future teacher; Single parent

in addition to being an HFCC student. I have to say, I’m somewhat more impressed with myself.

But DAMNIT that’s a crappy picture.

A Change of Plans

Returning to school at thirty years old, I found myself somewhat jaded at the prospect of my career after school. I was certainly not excited about the prospect of obtaining a degree so that I could return to a career that I considered to be, at best, a chore. As a result, I initially entered into the co-op program at Henry Ford Community College with the expectation that I would gain very little outside of a grade and another entry on my resume, and the further expectation that it would be more of the same, uninteresting thing that I have been doing for years. Surely, there would be nothing of importance that I would be able to take away from a part-time job that I had not already gained from nearly a decade in corporate Information Technology. I could not have been more wrong. This co-op did not just give me a grade. Instead, I can say with no exaggeration that my time with this work-study program has been a life altering experience.

As a Lab Technician, my official responsibilities could be summarized best as an “equipment babysitter” of sorts; someone to ensure that the lab rules are followed while signing in students and helping students with the equipment. Unofficially, I spent much of my day during the first semester helping the Computer Information Systems (CIS) students understand their coursework. It is in this capacity that I found an exciting, enjoyable niche. I learned that I enjoy teaching college students. Suddenly, a new branch of opportunity sprouted before me, and my future prospects were no longer the bleak, dismal things that I had been dreading.

Now that I have adjusted my collegiate plans to those of an aspiring college instructor, my time as a co-op student has become even more useful. The time I spend at work is now time spent learning how to deal with a variety of different students with varying needs, goals, abilities, learning methods, and skill levels. Just two short semesters has already improved my ability to explain a concept from many different perspectives–trying repeatedly until I can find one that will work. This time spent has also served to teach me new ways to communicate effectively with students. These improvements have been key factors in the considerable expansion of my role as unofficial tutor this semester. I have been invited to sit in on the lab time for two separate CIS125 classes so that I can provide supplemental instruction to the students as they are actively trying to complete their assignments.

The experience, as a whole, has been extremely gratifying. The feeling of working with someone who is having a problem with a concept and being there when they have that “breakthrough moment,” and to know that I was a part of that process, has made the entire process something I strongly wish to remain a part of. I cannot imagine having ever gotten a chance to take part in this type of work without this work-study position. Had this position not been available to me, I would be continuing on my path back into a job field that I have never particularly enjoyed, merely to make money.

A significant percentage of the reason that this program has worked so well for me is that my employers are also educators. As such, they have an understanding of student life, of going back to school, or choosing a career path that suits your strengths, and of finding a path through the educational experience that will end some place meaningful. Certainly, the value of the time I have spent at work would be lessened, had I not been working with a corps of fine educators who have worked hard to help me succeed. The influence that each of these instructors have exerted upon my experience has been a great boon in guiding me down that path.

If I could make any suggestion to potential work-study students, it would be this: Try something new. Do not simply do what you have always done; instead, take this relatively risk-free opportunity to spend a semester doing something different. It might very well open up a completely new avenue of possibility for you that you had no idea existed.

When I was growing up, my father and I used to discuss what I would do when I grew up. I used to say “doctor” or “lawyer” because those were jobs that seemed to make a great deal of money. My father’s response was always the same. He would always reply, “A paycheck is a fringe benefit to doing a job that you enjoy.” To me, that always felt like an unrealistic goal, but today, having the benefit of my co-op position under my belt, I can say with absolute assurance that my paycheck most certainly is a fringe benefit of a job that I enjoy doing. For the first time since I came back to school, I am genuinely excited about finishing school and taking the next step forward, into my new, “grown up” life.

HFCC Student Wins $250 Scholarship in Co-Op Essay Contest

Henry Ford Community College student Jeremy Lance had little idea that returning to college at age 30 and obtaining a cooperative education (co-op) position at HFCC would significantly alter his life plans and lead him toward his dream career.

It did, and the experience paid off in more ways than one. Lance was recently awarded second place and a $250 scholarship in the Carol Quandt Student Essay Contest for writing about his co-op experience at HFCC in an essay titled, ‘A Change of Plans.’ Lance was the first community college student ever to win an award in the statewide essay contest.

The contest was sponsored by the Michigan Council for Internships and Cooperative Education. Students were asked to write about factors that have been most influential in making their co-op experience valuable. The contest was open to co-op students from all Michigan colleges and universities.

Lance, 30 of Inkster, enrolled at HFCC in the winter 2007 semester to earn a degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS) so he could advance in his job, after working more than a decade in information technology in a corporate setting. Lance also enrolled in the Cooperative Education program at HFCC to earn money and to add more experience to his resume. At first, he did not realize how much he would learn from the program, which combines work experience with college credit.

“I can say that my time with HFCC’s Co-op program has been a life altering experience,” explained Lance. “Employers work with you and your schedule, which is very beneficial.”

Lance began his co-op position working as a lab tech in HFCC’s student computer lab. His job included helping Computer Information Systems (CIS) students with their course work and with lab equipment, as well as other jobs around the lab. It wasn’t until he was asked to assist students in a large introductory computer class that he discovered he had an interest in teaching.

“I learned I enjoyed teaching college students and found new opportunities before me,” notes Lance. “Teaching was always something I wanted to do, but I didn’t realize that teaching at the college level was something attainable for me.”

Working with CIS students allowed Lance to deal with a variety of students with different needs, goals, abilities, learning methods, and skill levels, and he wrote about the benefits of that in his essay.

“Just two short semesters has already improved my ability to explain a concept from many different perspectives,” Lance wrote. “This time spent has also served to teach me new ways to communicate effectively with students.”

Lance, who also is a member of HFCC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, the national honor society for two-year college students, has been invited to be an unofficial tutor this semester, which allows him to sit in on lab time for two separate CIS 125 classes to provide extra instruction to students as they complete their assignments.

“The experience, as a whole, has been extremely gratifying,” says Lance. “The feeling of working with someone who is having a problem with a concept and being there when they have that ‘breakthrough moment,’ and to know that I was a part of that process, is something I wish to remain a part of.”

“I can’t imagine having ever had the chance to take part in this type of work without this co-op position.”

HFCC’s Cooperative Education program provides students with both work experience and classroom instruction. Students are employed in practical, paid positions directly related to their educational and career goals. Students receive a paying job, a letter grade, and college credit while enrolled in the co-op program at HFCC. Students registered in co-op must fulfill all terms of employment as well as attend regular class sessions and complete all course requirements.

To enroll in the co-op program, students must first pick up an application from the Co-op Office, located in room T-112 in HFCC’s Technology Building on the main campus located at 5101 Evergreen in Dearborn. Students must also prepare a resume and meet with a Cooperative Education specialist to submit the completed application and resume. Resume guidelines as well as more HFCC co-op information can be found at www.hfcc.edu/coop.

“Jeremy is a joy to work with,” says Nancy Stupsker, HFCC cooperative education specialist. “He had received excellent feedback from his co-op supervisor not only for his outstanding computer skills, but for his ability to work well with students. I am very proud to have him represent our college.”

In the future, Lance plans on attending the University of Michigan-Dearborn to earn a bachelor’s degree and hopes to come back to HFCC as a CIS instructor.

“If I could make any suggestion to potential co-op students, it would be try something new,” Lance wrote in his essay. “Do not simply do what you have always done. Instead, take this relatively risk-free opportunity to spend a semester doing something different. It might open up a new avenue of possibility for you that you had no idea existed.”

For more information on HFCC’s Cooperative Education program, please call Stupsker at 313-845-6359. For more information on HFCC, visit www.hfcc.edu or call 1-800-858-HFCC (4322).

Manscaping

First, if a member of my family is reading this; or for that matter, anyone who is squeamish, not amused by the pain of others, or easily offended…just do all of us a favor and skip this entry.

Seriously, move along.

You’ll be sorry…

As 2006 started, my then-girlfriend, Terra, The offending wax kithad all but moved into my house, and as such all manner of feminine products had taken up residence in my bathroom. This is a phenomena that I will be investigating further at some point in the future, but for now, suffice to say there was no end to the strange devices and products with which I have little experience that have invaded my life. Among these things…a waxing kit.

Now, I have been staring at this thing since I came back from my Christmas trip to NY, and every time I enter my bathroom it calls to me…try me…try me…

As a guy, there are limitations as to what I can wax…if I was to wax my legs, arms, or chest…that would just be inappropriate (since I am not a body builder, a swimmer, or trying to pick up men). My head was a option, but I’m tired of the bald look, and it is winter. That pretty much left my “equipment”.

Yeah…that equipment.

So, I hook up the warming apparatus, and proceeded to read the instructions. It is important to note that, as a guy, I suffer from vanity. As such, when the directions indicated to try this on a small patch of hair first as a test, I literally could not do so. I was constitutionally incapable. Even though I would be the only one to know that I was such a weakling that I actually tested a small area, I just couldn’t. So, I covered my taint and sack with hot wax.

After the waxy coating, I added those nifty cloth strips (three to the sack, one to the taint), waited a moment for the wax to do its hardening thing, then gave a test tug to one of the sack-attached strips.

Instant tears.

“Okay,” I thought, “this is going to be pretty painful, but, hey, I’m a man, I can take it, right?” With that pep talk, I psyched myself up and decide that strip one is coming off like a band-aid, right now.

One scream and a lot of tears later, I’m laying in a ball on the floor. Wow!

The only upside to this is that there’s only three more to go, right? Wrong! Upon closer inspection, all four strips are still in place. Apparently, I failed to take into account the elastic nature of my bag of jewels. Yanking the strip merely stretched my balls to about my knees, but did not remove the strip or any hair. Panic sets in. I need to get these strips off, and pulling again just ain’t happening. I finally realize that perhaps a hair dryer would soften the wax sufficiently to remove it semi-painlessly. Wrong. You lie, random person from the Internet! The amount of heat that would be required to melt the wax is far in excess of what my nuts can take applied directly to them… and an iron? You are sick and cruel! This left only one thing to do… grab my sack (literally) and yank the hell out of the strips.

At any rate, I then proceeded to expediently yank the strips from my genital region with much screaming, howling, pain and, yes, bleeding.

Bleeding? The instructions said nothing of blood coming from the very holes in which my hairs used to reside. What manner of false advertising is this?

After bathing away the folicular blood and soaking for a while to help rinse away the Not my balls, but not too dissimilar eitherpain and horror that this stunt has caused, I found a new problem… actually, two of them. First, not all the hair went away. Second, not all the wax went away either. Unfortunately, the first problem left me looking like I had the genital mange, so I was forced to shave after my botched wax job. Hey, do you know what hurts almost as much as waxing your nuts? Shaving your freshly mangled nuts, that’s what, especially with wax still present. The second problem left me painfully, carefully un-sticking my badly butchered sack from the floor of the bathtub. Insult, meet injury.

With the benefit of a few days between me and my waxy pain, I finally could comfortably do a search to find out what I did wrong… and I found this article with an important part I’ll quote for you here:

Yes, Mr. Whittall, it does, it certainly does.

The moral of the story? Well, there are many morals you could take away from this story: Don’t wax your balls would be chief among them, but read the instructions is probably in there too. Perhaps, simply put, don’t be me?

Messy the Pooh

Sadly, I did not get a chance to post this when it happened on Tuesday.

There is some chemical property of McDonalds’ coffee that has a very negative effect on my gastro-intestinal system. Specifically, it runs straight through me. Now, understand that I’m not referring to the normal coffee-induced pooping that is a result of your average cup of Joe. No, gentle reader, the effect to which I refer can best be described by the phrase “pissing out my ass”. Keep all of this in mind when I say that Tuesday morning, on the way into school, I picked up a tall cup of this special brew on my way to an Econ test.

I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess.

So at 7:30 in the morning, I’m finishing my large coffee as I take what should be a pretty simple part 1 of an exam…when I feel a gurgling in my stomach. I have to shit…no, I have to shit NOW! I’m talking about a degree of urgency that doesn’t say “You should go to the bathroom” or even “You should run to the bathroom”, but “You should run to the bathroom, and bring your cup, in case you have to stop along the way and shit in THAT!” Things were urgent.

I’ve never used the bathrooms on the third floor of this building, so I race down the hall with a 50/50 chance of the direction I’ve chosen being the Men’s room…and a 50/50 chance of it being the ladies room.

Guess which I picked?

For a brief moment, I considered just using the women’s restroom, but the damage I was going to visit upon the toilet was something I couldn’t bring myself to do in anything but a men’s room. Chagrined, I pressed on, retracing my steps and heading to the men’s room.

Walking like a duck. POWERwalking like a duck.

By the time I got to the stall, the urgency had reached a fever pitch. Luckily my pants are oversized, because I didn’t unbuckle my belt or unbutton my pants, I just smoothly slid everything down below my ass and let fly as my ass approached the seat.

The extra few seconds I saved by not waiting until my ass was in actual contact with the seat was my downfall. You see, what came out of my orifice had the appropriate color and odor, but aside from that bore absolutely no resemblance to crap. To begin with, it was purely liquid. More importantly, it came out of my ass at an ALARMING velocity. Fortunately, I was able to stop myself from sitting all the way down, because the vile matter that was being expelled from my colon sprayed all over the seat, the floor, the back wall…even a little on the side-walls of the stall. It was horrifying.

When the initial volley ended, I popped the door open, peeked around the bathroom to ensure that I was alone, and scooted into the next stall so I could sit down and finish my business. A few moments later, I was finished and cleaned, and I started pulling some paper towels to mop up my mess…

…but I really should get back to my test, right?

So I ditched my mess and went back to my test. Mission accomplished, no harm, no foul…except the guy that sits at my desk with me then gets up to go to the bathroom. It did not occur to me that anything could go wrong when he returned and said, in a very loud voice, “Someone shit ALL OVER the bathroom. It’s all over the place, it’s in like, three stalls!”

To which I responded, “It was ONE STALL!”

Then I realized what I’d done…and just went back to doing my test.

Nobody has mentioned it to me yet.

Porno for Pyros (and Entomologists)

In 1995, two friends, my girlfriend at the time, and I moved into a huge house in a nice neighborhood near Fort Lee, Virginia. Because we were young and dumb, the 5 bedroom, 2 and one half bath mini-mansion quickly fell into a state of disrepair, as most party houses do, but no party damage could rival that caused by an invasion of bees and my attempt to exterminate them.

One day in the late spring, I arrived at home and noticed, as I waited for the garage door to finish raising, that there were an awful lot of bees swarming around the entrance. As the days progressed, the swarm grew.

Now, I hate bees. In fact, I don’t like any stinging insects. These invaders needed to go.

The next day, I bought several cans of Raid spray and, upon my arrival at home, sprayed the walls, roof, porch, ground, and bushes in an attempt to dissuade the pests from hanging around my garage. The next day, it was apparent that it didn’t work. They were back in full force, completely unimpressed with my attempts to evict them.

I decided to perform some reconnaissance. I went out that evening, when bees sleep, and looked for a nest. That was when I saw the hole that they had been flying in and out of… and it was huge. It was roughly the diameter of a golf ball, and fairly deep looking. I sprayed the hole down with the last of the Raid, and went in to call my father, because if anyone would know how to deal with this problem, my father would.

Just a short while on the phone with dad gave me the hope I needed. According to him, all I needed was to pour gas into their nest at night, and my problem would be solved.

So I went to the local gas station and purchased a second five gallon gas can full of gas to go with my mostly full five gallon can at home. I figured, whatever was left over after I filled the hole could be used in my car or lawn mower. With my gas ready, I dressed for the occasion.

I know I mentioned that I hate bees, but I don’t think I conveyed the depths to which I abhor these stinging little beasties. I hate bees! Not wanting to get stung, I went a bit overboard. An outer layer that included a flannel shirt, oversized jeans, and a pair of combat boots concealed layer two: a hooded sweatshirt, sweatpants, and thick wool socks. I hid my hands in heavy winter gloves, and covered my head and face with a hood, a scarf, and a pair of motorcycle goggles. There wasn’t a bit of unprotected flesh exposed.

This, in all likelihood, saved my life.

At midnight, the hour when I felt the bees would be most asleep and least likely to stir, I proceeded with my plan. I went outside with my 8 or so gallons of gas and box of strike-anywhere matches and began the process of exterminating the bugs. I started to pour gas into the hole.

Do you know the sound that a drain makes when you pour water straight down the center of it? That is the noise the hole made as the gas disappeared into its maw. I kept pouring and pouring, waiting for the hole to fill so I could stop… and the hole just wouldn’t fill. I started on the second gas can when the first was empty, and unloaded the bulk of that into the hole before I gave up. My best estimate is that was about 6 or 7 gallons of gasoline in the hole when I finished.

Now it was time for the lighting ceremony. I took a strike anywhere match, lit it, and threw it at the hole, making sure to stand plenty far enough away to be out of harm’s way.

The match went out.

I lit another and, edging closer, threw it at the hole.

The match went out.

Edging closer still, I threw another lit match at the hole.

The match went out.

Being the problem solver that I am, I created a solution. I rolled up a newspaper, lit it on fire, and stuffed it into the hole.

Well, near the hole at least.

Several problems conspired to make this situation dangerous. First, the amount of time I spent dicking around with the matches allowed plenty of gas vapor to accumulate near the hole. Second, gas vapor—as it turns out—is VERY combustible. Third, my newspaper starter was sufficiently short so as to force my arm to be very near the entrance to the hole. Finally, there was a LOT of gas in that hole.

Well, in roughly the amount of time it took for me to think, “Oh shit, this was a bad idea!” my plan went horribly awry. The flaming paper, as it became proximate to the hole, ignited the vapor surrounding the hole. The process of sudden, rapid vapor ignition could best be described as a Big Fucking ExplosionTM. The explosion shook the ground, the concrete slab that was my front porch split, the foundation of the house cracked, and a plume of flame shot out of every place in my lawn where the system of tunnels I had filled with gas met the surface. Unfortunately one of those outlets was immediately beneath a bush in my yard; so my bush lit on fire. A river of fire, originating farther down my lawn, flowed its way into the road where it puddled.

Oh, and my shirt was set aflame. It was chaos.

So there I am, running around with my clothing on fire, a bush burning like something out of a Bible story, a river of fire blazing like a sign of the apocalypse, when my neighbors come out to watch the show. Did anyone help? Not a chance; they just came to watch the show. Even my roommates were just observing dispassionately out the window.

I ultimately managed to put myself out (Stop, Drop, and Roll people… Stop, Drop, and Roll), and after a fairly short time, the gas was all consumed and the various fires went out, leaving charred grass, a burnt husk of a bush, and a complete halt to the bee problem.

The next day, I called my father back to tell him how poorly his plan went. A few words into the story, he said the words that I keep with me to this day.

“I didn’t say to light the gas on fire,” he said.

And you know what? He didn’t.

The Magic of Addiction

One of the things that I enjoy about the television version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the fact that, when they “hit” a storyline, they really hit the hell out of it. I have recently finished Season 5 and have made my way into Season 6, and one of the somewhat minor story arcs has reached its azimuth in “Wrecked”, Willow’s addiction to magic. I’ve been watching this grow and have frequently thought to myself how convincingly this mirrors the process that my own addiction took. The similarities are almost frightening.

Much like my own addiction, Willow’s began as a simple crisis of personality, and now in retrospect, it is a crisis that clearly began as early as Season 1. Willow has struggled with being the nerdy, boring, un-special part of the group since the group began. I can empathize with feeling out of place, even in your group of friends. It is such a struggle to feel like everyone around you is more important, cooler, funnier, more worthy of attention, and in general, better than you. It is so easy to latch onto the first thing that sets you apart.

For Willow, it was magic, for me, it was drugs and alcohol.

Several seasons passed with very, very few specific abuses of her newfound powers. It wasn’t until well into college that things really began to take a turn. My brush with addiction began a bit earlier than hers, so my personal arc began sinking quite a bit earlier, around my senior year, but both of our ascents and descents followed a fairly parallel pattern. For a time, addiction served the purpose it was meant to. It caused no problems and it was just fun, it was pure, and it could never devolve to the point where it would be an issue. Don’t be silly. I felt popular. I felt special. People knew my name. I was a “rock star”. I used to joke around that everywhere I lived and everywhere I went, I was “that guy”. You know the one; that guy you hear about at parties that did that totally ludicrous thing that made everyone amazed and amused. You would hear about “that guy who did that funny thing that had the whole party rolling for hours” or “that guy who was just so amazingly fun to be around that people wanted to party with him. Even when those stories took a rather sad turn and became “that guy who ate a handful of random pills, drank a case of beer and a bottle of bourbon, and beat the shit out of the neighbor for calling the cops about the party”, or “that guy who brought a different woman home every night for weeks because he could”, it was still fun to be famous, even in such an insignificant way. It’s what I wanted.

Of course, ultimately the stories became less party-impressive and more party-pathetic. The stories began to be about “that guy who had alcohol poisoning five times last month” or “that guy who lost his mind in a drug and alcohol fueled rage and sent his roommate to the hospital for changing the TV channel”, or “that guy who got arrested again”. It was hard for even ME to be amused by my own press. At that point, however, the only way to not feel bad about what I did the night before was to do more tonight; and to hell with all the nay-sayers. They were just haters anyways, they just hated how much fun I was having; let’s go get drunk and forget about all of this. My addiction became self-reinforcing. Willow found out about this when she started trying to use spells to quash fights that magic started in the first place.

There is something particularly pitiful about seeing the irony in your living situation, and feeling helpless to do anything about it.

Needless to say, because of my history, I saw the storyline of “Wrecked” coming quite some time ago. It was a matter of time, and Joss Whedon’s handling of emotion is entirely to real and true for him not to address Willow’s problem in a realistic way. It was a difficult episode to watch. Despite time spent away from the horrors of what we refer to as “active addiction”, it still hurts to think of some of the ways my addiction affected those around me. When Willow brought Dawn to the “dope house” as it were, I was haunted by hearing some of my famous lines repeated back to me. “I just need to stop in here for a second”, I would say as I swung by my dealer’s house, kids in tow, to pick up a little something for later. “I’ll just be a second”, would be the last thing the kids would hear before I wandered inside for a half hour, an hour, two hours, however long I felt the need to hang around and get freebies as I bought the evening’s fare. They would even point out that “we were going to go have fun” and I would reassure them that “of course we are, Daddy just needs to take care of a few things first.” How many times did a day of fun with the kids turn into a day of them watching their father get too drunk to move at a friend’s house on the way to the park? This is how people I love were treated; you can’t imagine how everyone else was regarded.

Seeing Willow break down after she injured and endangered Dawn, hearing her promise that she was done, that she’ll stop, seeing her pain; I remember so vividly saying that time and again. I was “all done” and “a new man” more times than I care to remember, and time and again I went back because, the alternative was to be me. Why would I want to be me again?

I think that is the part that so many people who don’t suffer from addiction cannot understand. It is not about the drugs. I never cared what drug I was on, or what the effects were. Not much at least. It is not about being high. Being high is merely a means to an end, and so many manifestations of addiction do not even make room for being high. It is not about having friends or being popular, that is, much like being high, a means to an end as well.

It is about self hatred. For as long as I can remember, I hated being me. I was, in no way, shape, or form, good enough. Acting on my addiction would allow me, for a time, to stop hating myself; or at least to not notice how inferior I was in every possible way. Being high, feeling popular, being the center of attention, feeling loved; these were the ways to mask the self loathing. Doing drugs, doing outlandish things, making an ass of myself, and being promiscuous; these were how I attained these things.

I can no longer find the quote, but there was an article about Robert Downey Jr. that compared drug addiction to putting the barrel of a gun in your mouth, and you know that you hate the barrel there, and you know it is dangerous, but you just love the taste of the gun barrel. To me, drug addiction was like putting the gun barrel in my mouth, and I hate the taste, I know it is dangerous, and I do not want that barrel there, but it feels like the only version of me I do not have utter contempt and distaste for is the one with the taste of steel and cordite on his tongue. If that version self destructs in the process, so be it.

Of course, the corollary to this is, in true cliched form, that I do not despise myself today. I do not feel the need to use drugs, or alcohol, to feel like I am somehow special, important, or otherwise worthwhile. I have my moments, just like every normal human being does; but those moments no longer rule and destroy my life. Still, as I sit and watch the final few minutes of “Wrecked”, I cannot help but reflect upon the torturous journey that lies ahead of Willow, and how grateful I am that I have the people in my life that I do; or I would never have survived my version of that same journey. I would not have even wanted to.

(Somewhere in the midst of this diatribe, I’m confident I was supposed to blame my parents for some transgressions, or society for failing me, or school for giving me some complex, or the media for glorifying such forms of “escapism”; but that is rather boring and trite. I, instead, am going to blame Mr. Rogers for having a rather creepy demeanor and Erin Pendergast for never going on a date with me in High School. I hope you are happy!)

Why I Don’t Date Often

Well, I went on a date with the waitress I’ve been flirting with recently, and I’m reminded why I don’t date often.

The plan for the date was to hit dinner then meet up with my friend, who was giving a lecture, so we could all hang out and play some poker. After I explained the details of the plan, she asked why I wasn’t going to see Bob’s lecture. I explained that it was because I had assumed she wouldn’t want to go, and she said she wanted to, and off we went.

A promising start, little did I know that this would be the last enjoyable part of the evening.

We chose to play Texas hold’em because she said how much she loves playing. I purchased her $20 buy-in, and away we went. Things started to get weird almost immediately when it became clear that she didn’t have the slightest clue how to play poker. I’m not talking about a general lack of understanding of the strategy behind the game…I, personally, have no CLUE about how to effectively play poker. No, I’m referring to a lack of understanding that these flat rectangular things are cards, and the flat round things are chips that represent money. In short, I think she might have sustained a closed head injury that prevented her from understanding concepts that involved 2D objects.

Throughout the course of the game, she fielded or initiated several phone calls, during which she referred to me as her “boyfriend” and us as a “couple”. When did this happen? Why wasn’t I informed? Don’t I get a say in this? My friends, sensing my discomfort, did an admirable job of easing my pain using a mixture of barely restrained laughter and pointed questions like “is Jer a good boyfriend?”

I hate my friends.

I got tired and really wanted to end the date, so as she lost the end of her chips I went all in, called, and sunk my chips into the pot.  I started to get up, assuming we were preparing to go, and she asked if I would buy her back in. For some reason, I did.

What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment.

An hour or so later, she managed to cook that $20 and it was now about 1 AM. I asked if she was ready to go and she looked confused. She said that she had told her parents (with whom, apparently, she lives) that she wouldn’t be home that night, so she wouldn’t be able to get into her house until at least 8 AM, and, couldn’t she just stay with me at my place?

I said that I wasn’t going to drive home, and she could crash on Bob’s spare bed while I—ever the gentleman—slept on the couch. She agreed and left the room while I reclined on the couch to watch the remainder of the game and talk shit (mostly, truth be told, about her). A few short minutes later, she returned to the room in a scant amount of clothing that apparently passed as her pajamas for the evening asking if she could sleep on the other end of the sectional couch with me. Grudgingly, I agreed. Since my trash-talk was summarily interrupted, I put my head back and started to drift to sleep.

“Jer!”, Scott shouted, waking me from my near slumber.

I looked up and glared at Scott, which is when I noticed that Shaina had changed her position to lie on my lap with her head in my crotch. I’m a fairly light sleeper, so she must have moved like a ninja. Accepting the inevitable, I started to go back to sleep.

“Jer!”, Scott shouted, halting my drift toward sleep.

Glaring at Scott again, I noted that my pants were unzipped, and Shaina, “in her sleep” had rested her hand dangerously close to my now open zipper. In a room full of people. I made a point of re-zipping my pants and going back to sleep.

Only to have Scott jar me from sleep again; and again; and again. More than a half dozen times, Scott would yell at me for drifting off and, upon waking, I’d see evidence of Shaina’s attempts to get, literally, into my pants. It was only after the fourth or fifth time that I realized that the whole reason Scott was even waking me was to stop her onslaught.

I suppose that I should be flattered, but, no means no, right?

The next morning, I prepared to drop her off early before my softball game. Seemingly dejected that the date was to be over, she expressed an interest in watching the game, so—for reasons that I cannot fully fathom—I brought her along. At softball, she tried to join in several conversations with my friends and I and came off as so immature and uneducated that I wanted to crawl under a rock FOR her. In order to avoid further cringe-inducing conversation, I skip post-game lunch and drop her off at her home around 2pm. It wasn’t the worst date that I’ve been on, but it certainly wasn’t in the running for best either…at least it was over.

Or was it?

Today, when she calls, I explain that I’m too busy for dating, and, frankly, I don’t think it’s going to work out anyways, so I don’t want to see her again. She says that she understands…then says that I should call her tomorrow so we can meet up and hang out…then hangs up before I can correct her.

Umm…is that an option? This would have changed my dating prospects considerably in the past had I known!

I feel like I have to change my phone number, move, burn my clothes, put garlic cloves over all my doorways, and pour a ring of salt around my bed…but maybe I’ll have sex with her first, just in case…