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Man Handled

I got my first massage this weekend.

I have spent most of my life self-assured of the fact that I am not a massage person. Strangers rubbing all around your body with oils while east Asian string music plays in the background. There were just so many unanswered questions for me and the only filmmakers who would tackle the issue usually used their creative license to take the story in a “pornish” direction. Is “porn-ish” right or “porny”. I don’t know, anyhow, my entire frame of reference was limited and skewed.

We went out of town this past weekend with some friends to catch the Avett Brothers concert and enjoy a few other relaxing activities. The first of these activities, was a massage. I remember discussing getting massages on a hypothetical level a few weeks ago. I had reluctantly agreed and suddenly had to face the music. The day was upon me. I was more worried than I thought I would be. Like teenage level insecurity. I worried that I hadn’t showered well enough or I should have used a loofa more so my skin didn’t flake off like it does after a day in the sun. We had a long drive to get there and it was just after lunch. I had a large Coke and some French fries.

What if I had to pee?

What if I had to fart?

Do they rub your stomach region? That would be weird.

What if my feet stink?

Is it harder to massage fat people or skinny people?

Do massage therapists have a desire to bite people like Phoebe did on Friends?

What if this is a ruse to strap me down and steal my kidneys for sale on the black market? I booked an hour so that would be plenty of time to steal my innards and make a getaway.

We arrived for our appointments about ten minutes early which was good because we had to sign disclaimers or release forms or something. I don’t know, I didn’t read it. I probably gave them permission to take my kidneys. I finished my release form and went to the restroom to eliminate my fear of having to pee. I stepped out and was greeted by a lady who informed me, “He is ready for you now.”

He?

I hadn’t really considered who would be administering the massage. Not that it matters but I had made the sexist assumption that most practitioners were female. I suddenly understood, to a small degree, how women feel self-conscious at times. When my wife puts lots of effort into getting ready to go out to places like Walmart or the gas station she often tells me that it isn’t for my benefit or being attractive for other men but for deflecting the judgement of other women. As I walked towards the second door on the right and stared into the blackness beyond I understood. I felt my physical flaws with each step. I was certain that I would encounter Zeus and he would strike me with a lightning bolt for my untoned core. I could hear Hans and Frans from Saturday Night Live talking about “flabby muscles”. Why did I agree to this shit?

I stepped into the room.

“Hello, my name is Nick.” Nick was not Zeus. He was an unassuming man in his late forties. I felt better already.

“Hi Nick.”

“Have you had a massage before?” He was eating a peppermint and started coughing. “Sorry, the juices went down the wrong pipe”, he creaked.

“No problem. This is my first one.” I thought that perhaps he has Ebola and I am about to be infected by patient zero.

He cleared his throat. “Oh good. Well, undress to your comfort level and climb under the sheet there and we will get started.” He left the room.

I got down to the boxers and hopped onto the massage bed, covering myself with a low thread count sheet that didn’t quite deflect the AC from the vent above me. Nick returned to the room and walked around the table until he was standing above my head. He pounded on what sounded like a soap dispenser to get a handful of some kind of oil. I was nervous for a full thirty seconds until he started working on the muscles in my neck. Nick was an acupuncture hand pressure ninja. I gave exactly zero flips what or how he was working his magic. I almost fell asleep twice. I don’t think he had Ebola either. It was just the peppermint.

It was nice having attention paid to every little tension and knot in my shoulders, back, and legs. He rubbed the muscles in between my toes. Glorious toe rub. I left the room relaxed enough to fall asleep sleep standing up.

If you have ever gotten the rub down from a man, this post is for you. You’re welcome. I know you are out there, afraid to admit that it was a good massage. Well, on the off-chance Nick ever happens across this blog, good job!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Ghost Buster

I do not believe in ghosts.

I do believe that some happenings are hard to explain.

I love watching shows or reading stories about strange phenomena. I want all the legends to be true because it means life is more complex and interesting. The only time I don’t want the supernatural to be true is when it happens near me. Then I am a fan of skepticism.

When Jane was younger she talked about her “ghost friends”. She spoke of them like they were real things that she interacted with which is not unusual. Lots of children have imaginary friends. I asked her one time if they were imaginary and she looked at me for a quiet moment before responding, “No. They are dead people…”.

“But I thought you said there was a ghost baby. Does that mean a ghost boy and a ghost girl had a baby?”

“No. It is just a dead baby.”

“Okay. Let’s not tell your mother about this.”

“I think one is my great grandfather.”

“Nope. Stop talking.”

“One of them is behind you.”

“Shhhhh. It is bedtime.”

“But…”

“No.”

We all went to bed and I tried to put the incident out of my mind. I’m certain that Jane just has a really active imagination. Just like my mother thought I had when I told her about the water faucet turning on randomly or the light globe from our ceiling fan dropping on my head one night. Both true. Pure coincidence though, probably.

The question always gnaws at my brain. What is the explanation for these strange events? Is there a shadow world beyond our sight?

The other night while the kids were away Supermom and I were watching a movie late at night. The dog was pacing around and suddenly fixated on something beyond our doorway in the room of our youngest two daughters. She froze and bristled every hair on her back. Her chest vibrated in a low continuous growl. Something was lurking beyond. Some other-worldly being that floats at the edge of reality, coming to life through the eyes of clairvoyant children and dogs. Whatever it was, it was there.

Supermom, in a severe setback for gender equality, declared, “You’re the man. Go see what that is.”

To which I replied, “If it possesses my soul then there is no way you can defend yourself against me. I could take you out so you should probably be the first to make contact. You know, in case I have to kill you.”

My logic fell on deaf ears and an unimpressed facial expression. I got out of bed and started a slow slinking movement around the edge of the room. I don’t know why I thought I could sneak up on a ghost. Ghosts are magical supernatural beings with understanding of the future and the metaphysical ability to pass though solid objects. I was hopelessly outmatched.

But sneak I did.

The room was dominated by darkness. I peered around the door slowly taking more of the room into my view. Judy Cornbread sensed my tension and it amplified her own. Her teeth were bared and the low growl was becoming a deep roar. Familiar shadows formed in the room for the bed and the dresser. One shadow lingered in the middle of the room. Hovering in the air about four feet tall. Wavering and occasionally giving off a shimmer of light from the hallway. I held my breath as I reached for the light.

The switch snapped on and the room flooded with light. I saw it.

A balloon. A damn balloon with a stupid happy chicken on it.

I turned to give a disappointed look to my brave guardian, Judy Cornbread, but she had already retreated to the living room. A dedicated soldier. As reliable as Mexican tap water. Traitorous worm.

I’m such a brave hero. I expand my motto for creepiness, Children and Pets are Creepy.

If you ever get worked up by a mentally challenged mutt, this post is for you. You’re welcome. A special thanks to baby D for having helium Mylar balloons that we passed on to my children for their enjoyment.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Summer 17 Notes

I have lots of good notes in my phone about things to mention in my blog. How about I just mention them and we have several disconnected laughs.

First note. A couple new rules. Toilet Seats do not double as armrests. I may have covered this before but it is still a relevant concern. Just because you can fit your narrow behind into the toilet doesn’t mean you should. I had to rescue a child who was panicked from being stuck. She looked like a bully had crammed her into the toilet down to her armpits. Legs were all hanging over the side like crab legs on the side of a buffet pan.

We also still have to discuss not using technology while on the toilet to prevent rooster-tailing the underside of the lid. I thought twice would be enough but apparently My Little Pony LARP is some fascinating stuff. I need to throw away their iPads.

Second note. Don’t wipe your face down the glass display case for the fancy meats and cheeses at the deli. Having a greasy booger streak mark across the assorted meat selection is not good for business. There really is zero need for it. Lady Bug was the culprit in this one. She was staring at the Oven Roasted Turkey loaf and suddenly pressed her nose into the glass with a thud and started sliding her face to the right. What neurons must fire in a brain for it to say, “Hmmm, I should rub my face on this surface.”?

I can’t take these kids anywhere. I shouldn’t take them to eat at fast food places because they don’t like anything. I’ll never understand how people who eat boogers and lick random surfaces can be completely disgusted by a ham sandwich and proclaim, “It’s GROSS.” They ended up with a small drink and a bag of chips. Restaurants should really research smaller straws for the small drinks because kids have a preset notion of where a cup should be located, in relation to their mouth. They end up gagging themselves on the large sized straw because it extends six inches past the top of the drink. Donna spent half the meal licking her straw like a mother cat cleaning a baby. She is encouraged by the phrase, “Please stop.”

Wed_PedalPub

Exercise and booze cruise combined into a strange street phenomenon. 

Third note. When should you have the big talk? You know the one… Here are the differences and how your body works and don’t trust men because they only want the goodies until they are around twenty-five, then they mostly want the goodies but they might carry an honorable or coherent thought. This is a topic I want to devote a larger blog post towards. The topic comes up from time to time and we have had a couple of talks with some of the girls. It is awkward and uncomfortable and necessary.

Fourth note. I got stung by a wasp a week ago. It left a mark that was about the size of my hand and it lasted for three days. Then I got better. Then I got stung again this weekend. A small bee got into my shirt and stung me twice before I could crush him into a venomous paste. I spent the better part of a wedding reception dosed up on Benadryl. I hate bees. So so much. They find me somehow. They taunt me at traffic lights and just outside my bedroom window. Flying anger needles.

Fifth note. You really never know what you will find in a house with lots of kids. While cleaning out a kitchen cabinet, Supermom found a tooth in a plastic cap. Dried. Cracked. Un-accepted by the toothfairy and therefore it hasn’t been placed into the official tooth record. We don’t know which child the tooth came from. I think the kids may know but they are testing the veracity of the toothfairy narrative by waiting to see if she gets it right. They suspect us and are working to unravel our lies.

Wed_Tooth

Sixth note. This weekend we attended my cousin’s wedding. (Congrats Mad and Cam!) The same wedding from the bee story earlier. There were several interesting things about the day besides the obvious magic of watching two best friends become husband and wife. None of my kids farted during a silent pause in the ceremony so we are doing better than the last wedding they attended. The reception was in an old car factory that was founded around 1913.

Wed_MarathonI’ve seen it several times from the interstate but I never knew it had been renovated and repurposed. One of the buildings houses repurposed antiques and oddities. It is associated with the American Pickers show. There was a baby wolfman mummy that was interesting but the giant pig-head that read “Kiss Me You Fool” was my personal favorite item.

Wed_PigHead

During our journey, out of town, there was a slow down on the interstate. We saw blue lights and some activity ahead. Turns out a small aircraft had to make an emergency landing. With all the light poles and overpasses it is amazing that the plane landed in one piece. The pilot definitely channeled some Captain Sully skills.

Wed_Plane

If life has been busy and the summer has been in full swing, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

There’s A Snake In My Boot

I’ve never thought about how creepy it must have been at Hogwarts for the students who knew about the Basilisk. They slept each night knowing that beneath the floors of the castle a reptile made its home. A cold-blooded killer. Something that would wait for darkness and would be unleashed to slither in and seek their warm bodies. An animal that could kill you with a look. A snake.

My oldest daughter wants a snake. She held a boa at the exotic animal expo. She has been saving her money for a pink corn snake. We have an aquarium, a water dish, and even bought some crickets for her pet gecko to get a handle on how the crickets thing works. (How long they live, etc.)

WED_1

This guy seems tolerant of crickets.

This last weekend we were attending a wedding. Before attending, the girls found a rough green snake and put it in the corn snake aquarium and gave it some small crickets to eat.  They named him Severus Snake and he seemed content enough to hang out with the crickets. We figured that if Jane was still excited about having a snake then we would return Severus to the bush from where he came and go buy the pink corn snake.

The wedding was fun. It was in the second oldest Catholic church in the city and the pews were packed with family and friends. My family was enough to pack a couple of the pews and I had to sit separate in front of the girls. Keeping the four girls entertained is always a challenge and a Catholic wedding is no different. About a third of the way through the ceremony I heard a wave of giggling behind me. I turned around to see my brother doing his best to keep from laughing out loud. Prima had decided that a silent moment from the pastor/preacher/father was the perfect moment to fart. We raise them classy around here.

We danced up the reception. Electric slides. Wobble wobbles. Until my children were completely wiped out on marshmallows, dancing, and they were essentially buffing the floor with their faces because their motor skills had deteriorated to a state of circling using only their feet for locomotion. My youngest lay on her back and watched the DJ’s lighted disco ball spinning color patterns on the ceiling like a college stoner. I knew it was time to go back to the hotel.

We stayed in a hotel room with two double beds and somehow slept six people. The next morning the children woke up and told me how wonderful they thought the hotel was and how today was, “The best day of my life.” I have really set the bar low as a parent. Somehow sleeping in a crowded hotel room is the most exciting, fulfilling experience that any of them have ever enjoyed. I went out for coffee and donuts early that morning and got a coffee cup that resembled a monkey. The girls thought that was hilarious. They thought it was even more hilarious that with each drink I was “kissing” the monkey.

We left our paradise of a hotel room and went to spend the day with other family who we rarely see and who we always enjoy spending time with. The girls swam and played all day until sun burns and exhaustion wore them down. Fizzled to a nub. We hugged our way to the door and headed home down the interstate. I always want to spend more time and have more connection with my family but we are limited by time, space, and history of interaction. I know we would be great friends if given the chance and maybe in the future we will get more opportunities.

The girls passed out hard enough that Supermom and I could listen to 90’s hip hop on the radio with very little fear of turning our children into aggressive pimp crack dealers. It was an excellent ride.

We arrived back at home and entered to the usual music of a lonely cat celebrating our return. As we filtered throughout the house I am beckoned by Supermom, “Hey daddy… Did someone borrow Severus Snake?”

“Not that I know of…” Maybe we were robbed? It would be hard to distinguish from our general motif of destroyed living area.

“Well. He is somewhere besides where we left him.” She left him in a box.

“Well… Shit.”

So now we are in from a busy weekend. Tired with roadway travels and sunburns. And a snake has escaped into our house. Somewhere in these four walls is a rogue snake. I have no idea where. I looked all I cared to and I have run out of time to look before bedtime. The girls are asleep.

I understand Harry Potter’s mental anguish. Hogwarts is settling in for the night and the Basilisk is still at large. I will try and keep everyone updated on how things unfold. Needless to say, I think the pink corn snake might be put on-hold while our security measures are validated.

Also, I forgot to mention the newest evidence in my plight to establish Donna Threeto as a super villain or hero. She is really into Pokemon recently. So into it that she has worn a Pikachu outfit for three days straight. She watched all of the episodes on our DVR and has been systematically drawing pictures of all the characters. My two favorite so far are Meoweth and  Pikachu. One is a hero and one is villain. I noticed they have very different emotions.

WED-MEOW

Yay for villainy and world domination!

WED_PICA

This is how I found this picture. In a drawer in our hotel room. Like a memorial to Pikachu. God rest his soul. 

So if your kids fart in weddings or party down to the frame, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Who Got The Hooch?

Today I would like to inform you of something and then confess something.

I know how to make homemade wine. This is not the confession. This is the information.

Making wine at home is simple. Juice + Yeast +Time = Wine. I decided to try making wine about a decade ago and I was pretty good at it. I studied it voraciously and within a couple of months I was overrun with cases of strange fruit wines ranging from lime to apple cinnamon to jalapeno. I didn’t even really drink wine. I just liked the science of making it.

There are different strains of yeast. Some yeast is resistant to high alcohol content and allows fermentation to continue until the wine is very nearly port. Some yeast is weaker and used for lower alcohol drinks like beers. Some wines can be made from natural yeasts that exist on the skin of the grapes. Some specialized strains of yeast are transferred from each batch of wine to a new batch of pressed juices. Companies base their entire recipe around the unique flavors that their yeasts produce.

Knowing how to make wine isn’t that difficult or special. In fact, prisoners in jails often try to make an alcoholic beverage by storing juice in a container, like a soda bottle, and covering the top with a balloon with small holes poked in the skin. This allows carbon dioxide to collect as the natural yeast turns sugars from the juice into alcohol and thereby produce CO2 as a by-product. Ingenious really.

Some nights the kids make me wish I still made wine in the garage.

They were in rare form tonight. Prima told me that I have man boobs and they are droopy. I love my children so much.

They also didn’t want to eat dinner but kept sneaking into the kitchen to steal some corn chips and ended up eating the entire bag. They were laughing about it the entire time. Then they were thirsty.

Prima asked, “Can we have some Gatorade.”

“No you can have some juice.”

I don’t like them having lots of sugar so we mix up juice in a plastic dispenser that holds about two gallons. We cut the juice down with some water. The container has a little nozzle that dispenses the juice. If we don’t leave the lid off to allow air into the container then suction will stop the juice from flowing out.

Prima replied, “I don’t want the juice.”

“But you drink juice all the time”, I argued.

She made a sour face, “That juice doesn’t taste right.”

“I WANT SOME!” insisted Lady Bug.

I remembered something. Another delicacy that we store in our refrigerator is grapes. As I mentioned earlier, grapes carry natural yeasts on their skins. I began to piece together a Perry Mason worthy mystery.

We have… (1) Large container of juice + Grapes stored above it + an unsecured lid + a couple of days = oh boy…

I went to the kitchen and pulled out the juice container. There was a nice light layer of yeast settled on the bottom of the container and the fresh yeasty waft of fermentation.

No wonder they have been little terrors. Toddlers act like drunk people anyway. It’s like putting a microphone near a speaker. That was the confession.

Booze Baby

Poor little guy. All he wanted was apple juice. 

If you have ever accidentally made jailhouse hooch and served it to your children, this post is for you. You’re welcome. If it helps, I did some quick calculation and found that the actual potential alcohol is very low. Not zero but low. We have altered our juice storage policy including time frame. It doesn’t really make me feel better but what can you do?

-Underdaddy to the rescue.