Month: October 2014

You’re A Bad Parent

You are a bad parent. Yes you.

You feed your kids crappy food. It may be all they eat but you allow it.

They drink too much juice at bedtime.

They stay up too late.

You use the television to babysit. And it is Spongebob.

You avoid some fun things because you don’t want the stress of managing the swirling mass of kids.

Does one have a saggy diaper that needs to be changed? You probably missed that because you were staring at a smartphone huh?

You forgot to brush their teeth before bed.

Your three year old just said, “Shit!” in context.

Your kid handed you a book at bedtime and you said, “Not tonight, daddy is tired.”

You just made your kid cry for wanting your attention. You are frustrated because they want to spend time with you and you are busy with something stupid. They only want you to look at the picture they just drew for you. It is the two of you holding hands…. I hope you hate yourself. It’s a wonder that your kids don’t already.

I never felt lower. She detailed the 'fist bump'.

That last one really happened and I never felt lower. She even detailed the ‘fist bump’ that we practiced.

What a terrible parent…

 

These are all things I want to scream at myself from time to time.

I get inside my own head big time. I sincerely hope none of you do this but, I suspect that isn’t true.

Life is such a whirlpool of being late, putting things off, and waking up tired to start it all again the same way. I watch myself being a bad parent and I hear the words that come out of my mouth but somehow it keeps happening. I try to balance the bad with extra effort on the good. Maybe I missed reading a book the night before so I will read two books the next.

I know my self-criticism is too hard but it piles up and I can’t help it. Besides, I look at comment wars on Facebook and I know that someone else is probably saying those things about me anyway.

A true first world problem is that we have the luxury of obsessing over stupid small details.

We took a short vacation recently and managed to slow things down. At first, things seemed like more of the same just at a different address. Then we went to tour a historic area and we managed to spend a beautiful day hanging out and taking things in. I was reminded of how hard life used to be and still is in some places. The area was Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Our first stop was at a log cabin. There was one four sided room with a fireplace on one wall and a door on every other. Just a floor, four walls, and a roof. Made out of trees cut down nearby. There were no marks on the wall where pictures had hung. There was no insulation under the raised floor. It wasn’t wealth or poverty at the time, it was just a house on the edge of the wilderness. The soil wasn’t even good for farming, hence the song “Rocky Top”.

Cozy home with a view.

Cozy home with a view.

We continued on our way and the next stop was a church and a cemetery. This location really sat with me for a while. The girls played on the old piano and the worn pews. Laughing and shouting and being loud. We took a few pictures and walked out the back door and strolled along the edge of the cemetery.

Quiet neighborhood.

Quiet neighborhood.

My wife and I were curious how long people lived in those days so we started reading the dates on the tombstones. More than half of the grave markers were for children. Many of them stillborn and many of the others were under the age of three. What made it worse was that several had the same last name and were in sequential years. Those parents lost children year after year and kept going because staying alive was all they knew how to do. I doubt they discussed name brand versus generic or if harsh chemicals in Desitin were harmful.

Two months in 1906 was all she got. The next stone was her mother who died on September 21, 1906. Nothing about that sounds easy.

Two months in 1906 was all she got.

That night I taught Jane how to play pool. She is really good at aiming and with a little arm length she will probably be a good player. We played completely made up card games.

Leaned too far.

Leaned too far.

The next day we spent our hard earned money on Build-A-Bear animals for each of the girls.

Lady Bug got a stuffed doggy. Worth every cent when she hugged it up and went to sleep.

Lady Bug got a stuffed doggy. Worth every cent when she hugged it up and went to sleep.

We rode a Ferris wheel, played in an arcade, and ate pizza.

Three of those dots are family members who chose not to ride the two hundred foot wheel.

Three of those dots are family members who chose not to ride the two hundred foot wheel.

That night I caught Supermom working a puzzle and the older two even learned to play Stratego. Prima the five year old ballerina is actually a formidable strategic planner. We watched Ernest Scared Stupid and they loved hearing him call a scary troll, “Booger Lips” and “Butt Breath”. I relaxed a little and realized that they are older and smarter than I wanted to admit.

Quality time.

Quality time.

I learned that I might need to work on parts of my parenting but not necessarily the same areas I have been worried about. Enjoying each other and the fact that we live in one of the best times in history. Despite what the media tells us, things are better than they have ever been. We expect kids to live past birth. We worry about organic labeling. We argue if spanking, timeout, or bribery are damaging to fragile egos. How lucky are we?

I get the privilege of putting the girls to bed every night and making sure I pass out kisses and hugs equally. Sometimes one of them will randomly say, “I love you daddy” for no specific reason.

Maybe I’m not the monster I paint myself to be after all. I sincerely hope that nobody else is either. Maybe we should all reach out and congratulate each other once in a while for keeping our kids alive or say, “I noticed your kid owns some clothes, good job.”

Enjoy the view.

Enjoy the view.

For people who are wearing themselves to a nub and feeling like a terrible parent, this post is for you. Slow down even if its just for a day. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.

Phantom Disguises

The nature of Halloween costumes has evolved over the last thirty years. There is this whole movement to sexy everything as a costume. I seem to remember that costumes were actually really basic plastic hospital gowns with plastic masks held on by elastic bands. They were colored like popular characters from Sesame Street and things like that. Cookie Monster. Oscar the Grouch. Exciting stuff. What kid didn’t want to be Oscar the Grouch? Adults had Halloween parties and dressed like doctors and nurses, witches, or vampires. Meanwhile, I almost suffocated behind a mask as a three/four year old Oscar-the-Grouch. It was a thermoplastic shell with unreasonably sharp edges at the eye and mouth holes. Nothing like the photo below.

How does this relate to Sesame Street? I guess Oscar was popping out of a can?

How does this relate to Sesame Street? I guess Oscar was popping out of a can?

The outfit was educational and not because it was from Sesame Street. I did learn that sticking your tongue out of the face breathing hole is a trap much like the frozen flagpole dare in “Christmas Story”. I remember the sudden panic of my outstretched tongue being pinched and stuck through the front of my mask. I couldn’t tell anyone. All I could say is, “UUUUUHHHHH”. Oscar the Grouch sticking his tongue out isn’t actually very strange so my panic went unnoticed. Stupid plastic masks. I was at a daycare and at least 3 years old which means it had to be fairly traumatic to be saved as a memory. The class did a trick-or-treat at the college campus (daycare was for students with kids) and the only thing I remember putting in my goodie bag was a bunch of seed balls from Cypress trees. Sounds like a three year old thing to do doesn’t it.

In the following years I can only assume that my mother felt guilt or despair at having to purchase such simple and physically dangerous costumes. She decided to break out a sewing machine and some patterns to make some good old-fashioned costumes. I got a fully tailored Devil outfit that was slightly large on me but I was assured that I could wear it again next year. She was right, I wore it the next four years in a row. Good thing it came with a plastic pitchfork so I could distract myself by poking things.

I may have looked like this during the fourth year of use of the devil costume. Just because of the length. And I looked good in heels. Do you guys even read the captions? You better work on it if you are going to claim to just like the articles in Playboy.

I may have looked like this during the fourth year of use of the devil costume. Just because of the length. And I looked good in heels. Do you guys even read the captions? You better work on it if you are going to claim to just like the articles in Playboy.

My cousin joined us for Halloween that first year and he had an authentic football player costume. He played football and it was his actual gear so I don’t know the rules; Is that authentic or just not undressing after practice?

Once again, somewhat off the mark if we are judging accuracy. I'm not but you may be.

Once again, somewhat off the mark if we are judging accuracy. I’m not but you may be.

My sister was a ghost/modified bed sheet. Maybe the toil of the first costume put an end to my mother’s ambition. I can empathize because I tried to sew a button back onto some of my fat pants one day and even though the button was repaired the fabric was blood stained afterwards and I still threw them away. I can’t imagine trying to do an entire outfit. She even has all of her fingers. That woman is a saint.

World's hardest costume, a.k.a. phoning it in.

World’s hardest costume, a.k.a. phoning it in.

Back to my sister as a ghost. Maybe she was a possessed mattress peering out of the sheet? These costumes came down to first-world poverty problems. They got the job done and we all knew the day was about candy, not the costume. There were no selfies or judgment on facebook, with any luck no one would see you anyway.

My parents were divorced and remarried by the time I was four so during the memorable “tricking” years I had alternating arrangements. Some years with my dad, I had a vampire costume that was hair gel with some teeth and a cape. Not bad. That costume was totally re-usable too. All I remember about that getup was the face paint drying and wanting to pick every inch of skin off my face. I was starting to think that Halloween wasn’t actually for children. If only someone would mass market affordable and interesting costumes.

Somewhere around the internet explosion (The Great De-lightening), costume stores became mainstream pop culture and the opportunities for self-expression really grew, if you could afford them. Women can suddenly be anything they want; Sexy Witch, Sexy Cat, Sexy Cop, Sexy Zombie, Sexy Maid, Sexy…. You get the idea. Men are still limited to the traditional male roles because adding “Sexy” to a man’s Frankenstein costume is kinda creepy.

I’m not a fan of barriers so I think I went to a work costume party in college dressed as the sexy witch with really hairy legs and a little trouble with the corset. It was so offensive that I won the scariest costume award. The runner-up, we thought, was a guy from the kitchen that had dressed like a homeless man, his sign was super authentic. He drank half of the keg at the party and we later realized that he actually was homeless and that it was rude to give him second place. He put a lot more into his costume than I did. Thanks for bursting my bubble homeless dude.

I did not achieve this level of "hot", I think it was my short hair.

I did not achieve this level of “hot”, I think it was my short hair.

Wal-Mart spotted this great rebirth of dress up and has selected a set of costumes at a reasonable price that are so perfectly marketed to reach middle and lower class families that it is hard to consider being anything other than something that Wal-Mart carries. It is the Old Navy of Halloween costumes. They seem trendy but in fact, everyone has them. I know at least one of the people reading this have seen someone in public wearing a shirt that you also just purchased from Old Navy.

Since we had our first child, Supermom has maintained a resolve to create original costumes based on characters the girls enjoyed at the time. My wife is a true talent in all things crafty and requiring attention to instructions. (Thank you Pintrest for challenging her to learn new hobbies) She started with Halloween costumes and birthday cakes and can now do embroidery and has a busy custom cake business. She inspires me to want to learn more but alas, I have only gotten more useless and now I have a blog sharing our weaker moments as a family. She wins the points in this round…. And still I type.

Our goal in early years of Halloween was to make the kids look hilarious while we laughed at things they did for the rest of the night. [Giant plush chicken]+ [a kid who could barely move] = super cute. Put one in a dog costume with a tail that wags as they crawl = priceless. That is sooo easy. The good thing about toddlers is that almost every costume will work. They are already cute. This stage didn’t last long.

Next phase was selecting actual children’s characters and tracing down all the details and correct color placement. Patterns, research, basically constructing a costume to the “Hollywood Stunt Double” level of complete. The downside of this is that children may change their mind a week before Halloween and you end up with crying, over an awesome cowgirl outfit.

Waaaahhh This is too authentic! They are going to send me to a toy museum! Nooooo.

Waaaahhh This is too authentic! They are going to send me to a toy museum! Nooooo.

With a large group of kids the costume undertaking is becoming more themed and intricate. This year the aim is to include all six of us as a coherent costume group. This should be good. I’m not too worried because I have four years of [Baptist Interpretation of the Devil] + one year [Cross-dressing Sexy Witch] on my Halloween resume. I sold my shame for Doritos in sixth grade. Bring it on.

If you approach costumes with a “good enough” mindset. This post is for you. You are exactly right. It is all about the candy. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.

Walmart for Dummies

Just like going to Wal-Mart parts of this post may be visually shocking. This is the start of an Etiquette Guide and the flow for the reader should be arriving, shopping, checking out, leaving. Please enjoy and if you have something that you think I missed, comment at the end and I will consider it for the final draft.

Parking Lot: This seems like the right place to start. Why on God’s green earth do people camp out for the closest spots in the two rows directly in front of the doors. Your blinker doesn’t make this situation okay. We are not teaching proper geometry in public schools. How ironic is it that we waste so much energy for a closer space only to walk into a gigantic store that we will lap three times because we can’t organize a shopping list. Some people shop like a drunken bumble bee just bouncing around the pretty flowers. I do this sometimes but I also don’t worry about parking close. Just park beside a cart return because that is the real pain, putting up your cart.

When entering or exiting the store, use some urgency. No need to run across the pedestrian crossing zone but also don’t cross at a diagonal taking the 100% longest route known to man. Walking to your car should be done on one side or the other so vehicles can pass and life can move on without you. Oh and regarding angled spaces and large white arrows, if you can’t figure out the correct direction to drive and then you look at me like I’m crazy I may fire a missile in your general direction. Wal-Mart is the only logical argument for gun control. There may actually be others but definitely Wal-Mart is at the top.
Large Family Carts: Until you can maintain a steady supply of the deluxe family carts I will henceforth have two children stuffed into one regular cart and two others circling wildly with no regard for anything but staring at the magical commerce all around them. They don’t pay attention and may grab random customers hands and call them dad on accident, they really don’t pay attention. The large carts have three seats with belts so I can strap everyone down in one location. I can never find these carts and it is someone else’s loss. Also an issue under carts; thumping wheels, broken seat belts, and thank you for putting sanitary wipes at the entrance. The wipes almost make up for the stamped concrete that helps hide the busted wheel thump until you are too committed to turn back and get a different cart. Almost.

Solicitors at the Front Door: This isn’t the tourist district in Mexico. I don’t need people hawking their causes each time I go in and out which sometimes is twice a day. Girl Scout cookies are an addiction of mine but they need to be hitting the streets and working for those sales. Catching hungry shoppers and making them feel guilty for cute little kids selling cookies is criminal. The cookies sell themselves, just give me a membership signup sheet for the website and coordinate the monthly deliveries. I totally care about veterans, feeding the needy, toys for Botswana, and the hundred other charities that put me on the spot for donations but I like to see where my efforts are going and there is no onus on Wal-Mart to make sure people are genuine organizations. I think the general rule is, “Don’t piss anyone off and we won’t call the cops.”

Dress Code: Should this even be a category? No. No it shouldn’t. There also shouldn’t be enough violations to start a website on the “People of Wal-Mart”.

No shoes, no shirt, no clue how to approach the bare ass shopper.

No shoes, no shirt, no clue how to approach the bare ass shopper.

Clothes sizes at Wal-Mart = Your Size Normally + 2 Sizes. Buy your stretchy pants based on this scale. Please in the name of all that is holy use the formula. If you have a Camel Toe on your outer butt cheek the pants are too tight.

Hoop earrings should be less that 75% of the diameter of your head and if your neck rolls support them more than your ear lobes…maybe you should reconsider the need for earrings. Have you considered cocaine or just not eating everything you see? I don’t want to spiral into a weight discussion because there are a lot of legitimate problems but, if you smash my toes with a battery powered Rascal scooter to get the large sleeve of Chips-A-Hoy cookies because, at 34, your self-induced diabetes has left your knees useless…. Priorities people, priorities.

Side note to Wal-Mart; Plug those damn scooters in the charger once in a while. I have witnessed up to three abandoned electric scooters scattered about the store with their low battery warning alarms blaring away. I know you hear them. Maybe you are too busy reminding the unsupervised kids having a cart race that running is prohibited “for your safety and ours”. They are ignoring you like you ignore the beeping carts, it is synonymous.

Pets in Wal-Mart: I haven’t officially checked because blogs aren’t held to any kind of standards but I would hope the Wal-Mart policy on pets is Service Animals Only. One day after I started to compile this post I saw my first ever pet brought into Wal-Mart. Actually two pets in one night.

The first was a cute puppy with its little cute puppy breath, awwww. I think he was a seeing-eye dog in training. We can disregard the puppy because it was adorable.

The second pet was more interesting. We were near the photo department and a large lady driving an electric scooter was having a price match discussion with the lay-away service representative. She had a large peacock T-Shirt (the shirt was large not the peacock), blue velour pants sporting a mean Moose Knuckle (think camel toe but much worse), and Chuck Taylors with fluorescent laces. This ensemble itself is interesting enough for discussion. Why would your dress up the one part of your body you can’t see? This seems like a perfect scenario for slip on shoes.

Ladies and Gentlemen meet Moose Knuckle. This is not judgement, merely a definition.

Ladies and Gentlemen meet Moose Knuckle. This is not judgement, merely a definition.

Nearby were two members of her family tree that I assume were the branch and the twig. The younger of the three looked about 13 years old and was wearing a Tattoo parlor T-shirt with a homemade haircut that highlighted a look of despair.
In the basket of the electric scooter was a black and pink Hello Kitty handbag and beside that handbag was a 30lb cat in a purple and green tutu. The cat was wearing a Hello Kitty vest that matched the handbag. I smiled and told our baby to wave at the nice kitty but I was dying inside. Here was a cat that matched its owner from outfit to obesity and even had the same lazy eye. It was lying motionless on a custom pet pad just looking at the floor or the ceiling, maybe both.

Vertical bars make Fluffy look fat.

Vertical bars make Fluffy look fat.

Just… why? Is the cat a counterweight for the scooter? Does it like to pick out its own ice cream toppings? I have no idea.

What were we talking about? Oh yeah, Wal-Mart.

Pharmacy: They suck at communication, filling prescriptions, checking messages from the doctors, typing names correctly, and stocking up on medicines that people regularly use. We all know these facts and still seem to be unable to change pharmacies due to “convenience”. They don’t even offer drive through service but still we don’t change. What is wrong with us? Let’s all agree to acknowledge this shameful loyalty with a forced smile and a shake of the head, no need to drag out a long conversation.

Shopping Cart Traffic: Treat the aisles like a two way street. Here in America you drive on the right hand side and cars pass on the left. Walking beside your cart and taking the entire aisle while you decide on the different brands of water packed tuna is a jerk move. If you come shopping on a Sunday afternoon around 4 or 5 o’clock don’t be in a hurry. Everyone has better places to be and getting all worked up isn’t going to help. How there hasn’t been a mass shooting at a Wal-Mart crowd on a Friday or Sunday night is beyond me. Besides getting cut off in traffic, an asshole on my tail in Wal-Mart is at the top of my hot button list. The best cart-rage is when two people never make eye contact but try to posture for place in the checkout line. A passive-aggressive showdown.

Kids in the Restroom: Another handy rule of thumb: If your kid goes pee-pee alone at school, maybe letting them go at the supermarket is okay too. I’m not keen on eight year olds going to the wrong restroom with a parent. It is creepy. Just don’t be that person. If you sincerely didn’t know, now you do. Don’t try to convince me of why you do it.

“But you don’t understand those bathroom are so dirty and..”
“Shhhhhhhhhh. I don’t care. Stop it. My kids lick the edge of counter tops that they get too close to. They don’t even know they are doing it. We have to let them go to live their lives and battle their own acquired diseases.”

Employees: I don’t know much about other states but in the South we have a gun department in Wal-Mart. A tip for upper management; if you have an early twenties male who looks like a loner and 3 out of 4 people might describe him as a serial killer, let’s not put him in the gun department. I asked a question about ammunition and he immediately wanted to talk about long range rifles and “large game” knockdown rounds. I felt like he might be describing hunting people so I complimented his haircut and left immediately. As I recall he did look like Lee Harvey Oswald. Hmm.

See anything you like? Make a bid baby.

See anything you like? Make a bid baby. I dont know what the Ebay description meant by “package deal”.

Clearance Sale: If you are trying to move inventory that sucks, clearance pricing might be an effective way to do that. However, knocking five percent off of AC/AD Live Guitar Hero which also dominates the sale bin in electronics is not a “Clearance” price. Clearance means we don’t want this crap and if you sold it for scrap you might make your money back. We’re talking 60% off before you should bring out the “C” word. And don’t give me a previous price that we both know to be a total lie. No one ever paid $59.99 for AC/DC Live Guitar Hero.

Car lots give thousands off MSRP, when are things ever sold at MSRP? At Target. Which is why I still go to Wal-Mart. Anyone who argues which is cheaper needs to check quantities; Poptarts are the same price at both places but at WalMart the box has 16 and at Target it has 12. Hmmm. It is the Family Dollar concept in reverse, make a cleaner store with similar prices and sell them less of it. Genius.

Great Value Brand: When will this generic rewards program extend to things like TV’s and Computers? I would buy a Great Value Blueray player. Think about it, it would be a Sony with a different box. Win.

Checkout Line: When did shopping carts become the same as cars in traffic? Probably from the moment they were put into use. The fear of a lengthy checkout makes people crazy. Society is pretty clear that if you are participating in a line of any kind, cutzies isn’t okay. The other side of that coin is that you won’t lose your place in line if you allow more than six inches between the front of your cart and the shopper in front of you. I actually got bumped in the ankle by someone crowding my bumper in the Wal-Mart checkout line. I admit I lost my cool on the poor man for a minute and said some mean things but deep down I feel there is zero need to ever be that close. When did we stop teaching personal space? A good rule of thumb is one invisible human between your cart and any nearby people. And while we are at it, calm down with the loading the conveyor and moving up on the credit card machine too quickly. If I want to load my cart to help the checker I shouldn’t have to ask you to move back so I can complete my payment. You have a brain. Use it and plan ahead.

All of this mayhem could be avoided by actually staffing at least half of the thirty two cash registers spanning the entire front of the store. You don’t pay fair wages anyway so it can’t be a big loss to have a few extra on the clock.

Who Are These Kids: Also along the personal space line of thinking. Watch your damn kids. It isn’t cute when a snotty petri-dish of a kid with a hacking cough wants to play with any of my children. Don’t touch my kids because I don’t know where you have been and you don’t know where my kids have been. Eating things they find stuffed in seat cushions, that’s where. Do you want to get slobbery kisses or germs from that? I don’t. So let’s keep our wandering free spirits out of the [nice man in front of us]’s ass. Toddling two year olds are cute and forgivable but a six year old who face plants in my butt crack is not.

Forgot an Item: Sending your kid to run and switch out an item while we all wait is going to give us all a stroke. We spent a lot of mental energy looking at line lengths and deciding which on seemed to be moving the fastest and you screwed the whole thing. Forgetting that you needed a 24oz. ketchup instead of the 18oz. is not anyone’s problem but your own. Back of the line. This is almost worse than holding up the bank line because you didn’t want to fill out a deposit slip like the rest of humanity. Almost as bad.

Creepy Social Media: Dear Wal-Mart coordinator of technology, it is creepy enough that you know when I shop and email me within thirty minutes. Please stop suggesting literally every item that I just bought. If I needed two I would have purchased both of them. Suggest something useful like if I buy diapers and baby food, maybe remind me about condoms and Tylenol. I’m just saying.

Security Procedures: What does the rent-a-cop patrol really do besides tell me to move out of the fire lane because I can’t park there. He knows my car is running and still in gear because I let off the brake every few seconds and inch up so he has to do the same to continue talking to me. By the time he is fed up with my game my wife is usually done grabbing whatever small item she needs and we move on. The rent-a-cop dwells on my subversion of his authority and takes out his rage on other violators of the parking codes. Maybe security should work to make the parking area more secure so people like my mother aren’t robbed at knife point. True story. Maybe share the security footage with law enforcement so it doesn’t happen ten times that week. Just some thoughts.

Discount Gas Station: Wal-Mart lowers the price on everything and gas is no exception. The savings are 5 cents per gallon at the most. Most of you are spending $20 to 30 dollars which is 7 to 10 gallons of gas. Congratulations, your road rage and thirty minute wait has saved a grand total of $0.50. That was worth it huh? Now move so I can fill my car up. I need that fifty cents and no I don’t want the fuel enhancer for $7.99.

Follow these rules and you can avoid being a jerk like me. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.

Trick-or-Treat

There are terms and phrases that exist in everyday language that if anyone stopped and considered the meaning, they may realize that many people would be offended. I read a good article on how we shape children’s perceptions with phrases like, “You are acting like a girl.” Of course the implied thought is that someone shouldn’t act like a girl and girls are weak/whiney/bad throwers of things. This teaches boys and girls bad things about being a girl.

The names of games can be awful. I remember playing a game at campouts which was like hide-and-seek but instead of tagging someone you could shine a flashlight and call out their name. Flashlight tag right? For years, I thought the game was called German Spotlight and I didn’t even figure out why until I was in college. One day I was thinking about hide-and-seek and the name just hit me. I thought, “Good Lord, why would we name a fun game something related to the Holocaust?”

Nursery rhymes are even worse. Ever play Ring-Around-The-Roses? It is about the Bubonic Plague. Ring around the Roses describes marks on your skin, posies were thought to keep illness away, and “Ashes, Ashes” described burning the dead to prevent spread of the disease. Classy. Ever hear “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, The Old Man is Snoring…”? That one describes a concussion and a man dying in his sleep. What about, “There once was a man from Nantucket…”. Okay that one isn’t actually a hidden meaning it is just a dirty poem. Never mind. You get my point.

People have a natural disposition to being horrible and morbid.

The term Trick-or-Treat isn’t that grim or socially inappropriate but at the root is something close to a Federal offense. Basically, the offer is made that if you give us a treat we won’t play a trick on you.

The people wanting “Treats” are dressed in clothing that hides their identity.

You got some candy sucka'?

You got some candy sucka’?

The “Tricks” are usually destruction of property.

Nobody likes those orange and black things. Get some real candy.

Nobody likes banana flavored taffy. Get some real candy.

Isn’t this also the premise of a mugging or a bank robbery? How would Trick-or-Treat be viewed in the courtroom?


 

Queue the Courtroom Drama:

 

[The defendant is on the witness stand and the prosecutor is approaching to begin his questioning. He flashes a smile at the jury and turns to the defendant.]

 

Prosecutor: Where were you on the night of October 31, 2014?

Defendant: Me and my boys was walking around the neighborhood getting’ some fresh air.

Prosecutor: I see and was this neighborhood the same neighborhood as the victim?

Defense Attorney: Objection! Leading the witness.

Prosecutor: Withdrawn. I’ll rephrase your honor.

[Judges nods]

Prosecutor: What neighborhood were you walking in that night?

Defendant: Maplewood Heights.

Prosecutor: (To the Jury) Ladies and Gentleman please note the defendant was in the same neighborhood as the victim on October 31, 2014. No further questions.

[Whispers breakout in the courtroom. The defense attorney stands as the prosecutor takes his seat. They exchange glares as they pass.]

 

Defense Attorney: Mr. Defendant. You say that you were in Maplewood that night. In fact, you never deny meeting Mrs. Victim that very same night. Isn’t that right?

Defendant: Yeah that’s right. I met the lady.

Defense Attorney: Would you like to tell the jury how you met?

Defendant: It was Halloween night and we was needin’ some candy. Everybody on the whole block was handin’ out candy ‘cept that old bird. She didn’t even turn on the porch light.

Defense Attorney: My goodness, no candy on Halloween and poor lighting? That could be a safety hazard. What happened next?

Defendant: I knocked on the door. Thought maybe she forgot or somethin’. I even said “Trick-or-Treat” real loud like you’re supposed to.

Defense Attorney: And what did Mrs. Nocandy do?

Defendant: She looks out the window from behind a curtain and then pulls it shut! She saw us there wanting candy and didn’t do anything! I spent hours on that ghost costume!

[Jury gasps]

Defense Attorney: Of all the cold hearted killjoys! Please tell the jury how that made you feel.

Defendant: That made me feel real angry! I told that bat, “Trick Or Treat”. She made her choice so me and tha’ boys egged her house, smashed in the mailbox, and lit her cat on fire! She knew the deal! How am I to blame?!?

Defense Attorney: (To the Jury) Clearly this was a justified application of the Universal Trick-or-Treat Standards, Section 407, Subsection III. My client was faced with a personal attack and responded with reasonable self-defense.

[Attorney turns and faces the judge]

Defense Attorney: No further questions your honor.

[Scene fades out.]

 

I think it sounds like a legitimate defense. The sad part is that most of the Halloween pranks I took part in were not related to whether or not someone gave out candy. Now that I think about it, most of it wasn’t on Halloween night either.


 

This is the area where my somewhat coherent post above becomes a pinball machine of thoughts. Read on if you are curious. I don’t know the legality of spurious internet advice written at midnight either so… yeah…

Some vandalism information:

(1)Did you know that if you put eggs in the freezer for 32 minutes they will make a satisfying “Pop” sound when they hit a house? Too bad that activity is probably over $500 in damages so it is a felony.

(2) Also, if you place small children on a roof it is much easier to make sure the toilet paper remains unbroken and you can actually roll an entire house much faster. I know this has been done and it was a pretty complete job. I don’t know any details beyond that.
Don’t get all worked up over that last tidbit. I didn’t put my children on a roof to help roll a house. Why would I? They throw like girls.

(3)Smashing mailboxes is a federal offence so never participate in such tomfoolery. I could speculate that if you waited for a really cold night and hit a big green plastic mailbox it could possibly explode into a thousand pieces. After all, that is just good science.

(4)Smashing pumpkins is a fun sport and a good band. Billy is a weird dude. Careful when really smashing actual pumpkins, you can ruin a good pair of tennis shoes. Make sure the candle is out too, arson is another biggie.

(5) Despite what you may have heard, vandalism is illegal. If you are seventeen or younger you will want to weigh your options. Is your permanent record worth an epic toilet paper throw down? Maybe. I don’t claim to know your life. That may be all you having going for you. If you are 18 and up, move like a ninja assassin because you are probably going to jail when you get caught.

(6) Run from authority figures unless you see a small red dot and hear, “Stop or I’ll shoot”. Cops are a little edgy these days, thanks a lot Ferguson, Missouri. I wouldn’t Trick-or-Treat in that town for all the Reese’s I could eat. They should seriously cancel the holiday around there. Some idiot will dress as a cop and get shot. November first that will be a story.

(7) Deny, deny, deny. Unless they arrested you while trying to physically light the bag of poop on fire your responses should be, “I wasn’t there and I don’t even know what you are talking about.” Plus flaming poop is also attempted arson and we covered that risk in #4.

 

Changing Gears…

I have been on the other side of the Trick or Treat exchange as well. One night I get a call from a friend, “Get over here and help me scare the bejesus out of some kids.” He had been grounded by his parents and was required to stay home and hand out candy.

I had no better plans so I said, “Of course, I’ll be right there.”

He fills me in and the plan is brilliant. Halloween night and the only decoration on his well-lit porch would be a bale of hay with a stuffed scarecrow slumped against the wall. Inside said scarecrow would be myself or my friend (working in shifts) waiting patiently beside the door. At the exact moment that candy is being delivered into the buckets, we jump and scream. The pure terror on the little faces was awesome. Most ran away immediately, screaming back towards the street leaving a trail of urine and candy behind them. One poor child was so panicked that he turned a complete 180 degrees and darted straight into a fluted aluminum column at the edge of the porch. He staggered sideways, fell into the grass, and limped across the yard holding his hand to his forehead while crying. Things might have gotten a little too intense so we hid in the house and turned out the lights. Crying kids are like crying baby bears, there is probably a large mommy bear nearby. It was a short game but it was still a memorable night and yes we kept all dropped candy. That’s the rules.

That is why I love Halloween more than other holidays. It is about taking what you want through coercion and bullying. Reckless destruction. Littering. Candy. And panicking people to the point of a Fight-or-Flight response. This holiday gets down to our base instincts and teaches us who we really are.

Thank you Halloween.

Underdaddy to the rescue.

RockTober is Here!

As I look outside at the [partly cloudy + thunderstorms in the distance] view, I breathe in through my ragweed inflamed nostrils and my clammy forehead sweat reminds me to change the AC to the dual setting. Fall is here along with allergies and bi-polar weather. Bees somehow survive the cold nights and fly around pissed off in the warm afternoons. Fall also means that I can look forward to my favorite college football team getting disappointed and Halloween!

I can totally place my children in this mix.

I can totally place my children in these pumpkin personalities.

Halloween is the sacred holiday of costumes and candy. We (Supermom) spend(s) a month making costumes so we can take the kids to play in traffic while we yell at them to “Hold Hands” and “Stay Close” for a good three hours. We then take all the awesome candy that they have collected and put it in a big bowl in the kitchen. The children won’t be allowed to eat the candy and we will pilfer it for a month or two before throwing it out because the chocolate tastes like other things – mainly peppermints or bubblegum.
We try to let the children enjoy the spoils of war but rarely is Halloween on a weekend night so by the time we get home, letting the kids get jacked up on Reese’s and Sweet Tarts is a bad idea. Each day afterwards they ask for their candy and we give them a few pieces but not much because it is never actually convenient to have kids jacked up on sugar highs. Have you seen a three year old who just did three pixie sticks? It’s the last scene of Scar Face done half-naked in a diaper. “I’m Invincible!!!!”

Sometimes we actually feel guilty about building up the excitement for the holiday and then being prudish with the candy. A few times the children have gotten the community candy bucket through persuasion or deception and they blow through Tootsie Rolls like Jello-Shots at a college party. Sometimes there are a similar set of side effects; Elation, Lowered Inhibition, Nausea, Vomitting, Depression, Crying, Breaking Things That Don’t Belong To You, Disappointing Looks the Next Day… Sorry, I got off-track. Flashback.

More to my point in this October rambling, I think the holiday of Halloween is under attack. Costumes are commercialized and Trick-Or-Treating, much like Christmas lights, has declined in the older neighborhoods and it is hard to find places where it is even worth getting out of the car. Streets that used to be hot spots are now a row of dark porches and unlit carports. Competition from churches and retail malls may put an end to the grass-roots door to door Halloween experience. Our overprotective society is moving towards Trunk-Or-Treats and Shop-Or-Treat events. If we can’t let our kids dress in disguises, run around active roadways, and take candy from strangers at night I just don’t know if I want to live here anymore.

Not that I’m into scary things as seen in the Manginity post but I do love Reese’s minis. Peanut butter chocolate cups are reason enough for any holiday you want to imagine. Let’s burn old tennis shoes on June first and then eat Reese’s minis. We can call it the Nike-a-ween holiday, I’m all in. Until America adopts it and Wal-Mart starts selling used shoes cheaper than I can buy them at Goodwill. Then it will just be another good thing ruined.

Holidays are out of control and Halloween is the first one I can rant about. Over the next 24 days I will take a few topics related to Halloween and break them up for blog reading enjoyment. Feel free to send me some suggestions. My personal thoughts are currently working on Costumes, Halloweens of Days Gone By, The Art of Trick-Or-Treating and an epic finale of our 2014 Halloween Experience (if my nerves allow one).

For fans of any holidays in general, this series is for you. Check out the Follow by Email or Like the Facebook page to get on the notice list. As always, sharing is caring.

Underdaddy to the rescue.