Merry Purgemas

Tis the season. So they say.

We joined most of the western world yesterday at a retail-outlet-near-you and completed our holiday shopping. Everyone had the same idea. It might have been just as busy as Black Friday at Hobby Lobby. Best Buy was a little better. Everywhere was crowded.

I had a better attitude while shopping this year and it freed me up to make some observations.

  • Everyone I interacted with in-person was nice and in a good spirited holiday mood. Some were tired from shopping and navigating crowds but nearly all showed some genuine goodwill towards men. One lady gave me a $20 coupon that she wasn’t able to use. A cashier suggested I make two separate purchases because the rewards system would save me $15. There was overwhelming care and concern.
  • Every car I met on the parking lot battle ground was a chunk of fiery metal cast from the forge of hell and the demonic drivers were all consumed with moving forward towards an unspoken destination and could give two shits about manners, traffic signage, or running over an elderly grandmother crossing the street. Civilization was coming apart at the scenes. I found myself happy that cars aren’t equipped with guided missiles because I would have blown at least three cars turning left (across five fucking lanes of traffic) into a flaming heap of aluminum and cheap plastic. I would have rummaged through the wreckage and taken any unburned gifts as my trophy spoils of war. There was overwhelming angst and rage.

Once we emerged from the madness and were on the ride home I thought about the whole experience. Is it possible that rage is an important ingredient in the Christmas spirit?

Is the holiday shopping experience just a version of the Purge? Do we empty the hate from our hearts onto random strangers so that we have more room for the good? Is this a version of the Orwellian Two Minutes Hate?


Hear me out. Is there a pattern to holidays? Do you have to have good with the bad?

Let’s try some out.

Easter. It kicks off with Palm Sunday. There is a parade and kids get to carry palm leaves in memorial of the welcome ceremony for Jesus. The next Friday we get to remember the Angel of Death flying around Egypt and honoring an agreement that if a family will kill a sheep and rub its blood all over the front door then God will not murder their children. Seems more than fair to me, I love my children and I am lukewarm when it comes to sheep. There is also a brutal torture/murder where Jesus finds out he was setup by the trifecta of Jews, Judas, and (plot twist) his OWN FATHER. I guess the Romans had some blame as well. He handled it like a champ though. There was anger, sadness, violence, and the sweet release of death. Life starts to return to normal. Then BAM, Sunday it’s all rainbows and unicorns again because, just like a trick birthday candle, Jesus bounced back to life, busted out of his granite grave and encouraged a large rabbit to deliver candy eggs. DEATH WHERE IS THY STING? Jesus FTW! (Thats For-The-Win for you older people who are not hip to the text slang. If you read it too fast it would look like WTF and that would be an inappropriate sentence to associate with the resurrection.)

But you see what I mean about the holidays. The up and down mix.

What about Lent? There is a celebration period that climaxes with Mardi Gras which is notorious for splurge and excess and showing breasts for plastic beads. Drink all you want. Eat all you want. Steal a kidney or two on Bourbon Street. Live it up! Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and a week of fasting. After that, food returns and everyone is happy and ready to repeat it all next year. Except the guy who lost his kidney. He probably had enough of the whole thing. I’m out of my depths with this Catholic holiday stuff. Don’t bother correcting me on this one. I never listen.

Christmas fits this same mold. We start with Black Friday; a shotgun-start to the financial footrace to outspend each other to show our deep love through material things. There is the gluttonish excess of Thanksgiving and the pleasurable swiping of the credit cards to get discounted deals. The continuous holiday parties and office lunch. The parades of cars looking at lights. Sitting on an old man’s lap and asking him for free things. Holiday TV specials where underprivileged people are given thoughtful things by over-privileged people and we all smile on the inside because justice has been served. Life has balance. With all this warmth filling us up from the inside it is no wonder that our normal amount of ba-humbug is condensed and squeezed to one end until it erupts over the jackass who stole our parking space.

I propose that we no longer fight this process. Feel free to scream and swear. Make rude hand gestures. Throw some serious Facebook shade. Get in a fist fight in the checkout line. This is America, we do what we want. No guilt. No apologies.

In fact, I think the shift towards a real and raw America has already started. I offer the following proofs…


Gold plated metal turkey decoration.

If anyone reading this has one of these bad boys just say “guilty” in the comments. I want to know who Im dealing with.


No PC language here. Just some genuine Piss-Remover.

Is urine a big enough problem to get a dedicated line of stain remover? Can we blame this on free range parenting? I feel like I am missing some context here.

If you have enjoyed holiday shopping, this post is for you. I’m exhausted. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Call of the Wolf

On our last day in Arizona we enjoyed another day of random people interactions. The morning started with a lady who had some personal issues and probably boundary issues as well and ended with a lady named Healing Wolf at a wolf-rescue-sanctuary at the end of an unpaved road in Rimrock, AZ. If it sounds a little out of the ordinary, good because it was.

Before diving into that I would like to assure everyone that our decision to drive into the desert to sit around apex predators was not our first questionable act. The day before, we visited the Grand Canyon and walked all along the South Rim. There were several points that stuck out into the canyon a bit and allowed tourists to take great pictures of the canyon. In one of these locations there was a trail that had been worn down by the footsteps of fools and risk takers. Several people were hiking out to this perilous point and taking part in the almighty selfie. The whole trip looked manageable until I was standing out on the rock at the edge of a several thousand feet drop. Supermom completely lost her mind and ventured out further than I did. She got a better photo out of it too. Dammit.


Whatever. We both survived. That is the important part.



I think that shirt makes my ass look fat. 

The next day was planned to be more laid back. Just some shopping and leisure walks along the local creek sides. Shopping was cool. There are lots of fossils and rocks which keep me entertained for hours. Local Native American crafts were abundant and we happened upon a Navajo craftsman who sold us a nice dream catcher.

We passed by a neat looking toy store and decided to drop inside. A man in his mid-forties was purchasing a trinket and trying to make small talk with the cashier. In a matter of seconds he was wishing that he hadn’t. She had a brace on her right arm and was trying hard to perform all the cashier duties with her left.

Man: So how did you hurt that arm?

Cashier: I fell down.

Man: Took a little spill did you? You weren’t drinking were you?

Cashier: No I fell and broke my arm, ankle, and three ribs on the sidewalk.’

Man: That must have hurt.

Cashier: I was raped.


Man: I’m uhhhh sorry to hear that. That is awful.

Cashier: Yeah I know who did it. He is an old man who sits at the same bar in town.

Man: …

Cashier: He always hit on me and then one night I woke up raped. I think he put something in my drink to make me forget who he was but I didn’t. I don’t go anywhere anymore. My life is basically over.

Man: That is terrible. Do you have to see him?

Cashier: No he is at a bar. If I saw him on the street I would have him arrested but he stays in the bar. So I stay at home with my boyfriend and come to work.

Man: Well I hope things get better for you.

Cashier: Have a nice day.

You. Just. Never. Know.

We didn’t engage in small talk mostly because I didn’t want to provide any therapy. She had some serious issues going on and I’m not totally convinced they were all on the surface. The toys were really cool though.

The next stop got us pointed on our journey towards the wolves. It was a small rustic-looking shack up on a hill; called Clear Creek Trading Company. We walked inside and immediately knew the shop was unique. It was stocked like an old-time general store or western outpost. Like an organized hoarder. All of the normal trinkets were there but there were also animal hides and several rooms with oddities like teeth and bones from animals; bobcats, beaver, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bison, deer, turtles, and wolves. The front desk had a basket of “coon dicks” or raccoon penis bones (didn’t know lots of mammals actually have bones in their boners) which were for fertility. There were colored beads and wooden carvings. The owner of the trading post came around the corner and asked if there was anything we were looking for and unable to find. “Honestly, I didn’t know you could buy most of this stuff”, was my reply.

“Oh yeah, I have everything. Just try me.”

I thought for a second and asked, “Do you have anything to do with wolves? My oldest daughter is always leading her sisters in a wolfpack and is really interested in wolves.”

He got a funny look and opened up his shirt to reveal a leather medallion with a red wolf. “All joking aside. That is some strong medicine my friend.” He looked at me in a way that was more serious than the jovial thirty seconds prior. “My Indian name is Red Wolf and the calling of the wolf is no joke.”

“I’m not really joking. Jane loves wolves. Animals in general, really. She has a way with them and wants to be a veterinarian.”

He put his hand on my shoulder. “That is awesome. Children have a strong connection to what they want. I have to make you something… may I?”

“Okay. Sure.” At this point we had picked out a wolf claw and had it sitting on the front desk.

“The wolf is a teacher, protector, and a leader. They persevere and are very loyal.” He picked up the claw. “I want to make her a necklace that she can wear and remember what it means to be a wolf.”

It went from browsing in a neat store to being a little surreal but I was enjoying it, “That sounds really cool.”

He shared some folklore about the other animals and Native Americans in general. I feel like I better understand their emphasis on animals and how that is useful in their culture. We looked around and picked up a few other items that matched the other children’s spirit animals. Don Threeto is, of course, the fox. She got a nice fluffy fox tail. Red Wolf returned carrying the newly threaded necklace. He paused after handing it to me and said, “How long are you in town?”

“Just until the morning, why?”

“I have a friend that you need to meet. She will want to hear about your daughter. She rescues wolves and uses them as therapy animals. They are healing wolves and you can sit with them. They are big powerful animals and it is really special.”

Supermom had seen a brochure earlier in the week and was already interested. We had run out of time to schedule things but the afternoon had opened up so we figured, why not? We thanked Red Wolf for all his information and his gift of the necklace at wholesale price. I called the lady, named Healing Wolf, and she sounded very excited to hear about the whole situation. We found out in just a few moments that we are originally from the same state. She made room in her schedule and gave us directions.

Now. The drive to the wolf sanctuary gave us a while to reflect. Here we were, driving forty five minutes into the Arizona desert to meet a lady named Healing Wolf on the good word of a brochure and a man named Red Wolf who runs a shack that sells animal parts in the same way a junkyard sells car parts. This has all the hallmarks of a good decision. Each mile made the trip a little more curious.

The directions required the following: After leaving the interstate turn right beside a gas station onto a dirt road; stay right at each fork; the road will cross a creek, it looks like you can’t drive through the water but don’t worry, you can; keep going until you see a fall themed display and our gates with the sign; park around the side and walk up to the house.

We crossed the flowing stream boldly, because the car was a rental. We dodged boulders and ruts down the dirt road and found our way to the parking area beside a small double gate. The only neighboring house was under repair or perhaps being upgraded from a trailer to a more permanent trailer. A lone black dog stood watch over us as we locked the car and walked through the gate back to the house. An older man in a cowboy hat greeted us with smiles and a big hug. His name was John and he immediately started giving us a tour of the house by inviting us inside. For those of you who wonder how Hansel and Gretel felt. I know.

They were uneasy but curious enough to go inside anyway. Curiosity did kill the cat, you know.

John pointed to the right wall of the house which was made from smooth stone and informed us that the house’s previous owner was none other than Morgan Earp, younger brother to Wyatt. John purchase the house about fifteen years ago and renovated it to be livable with modern conveniences like a non-leaking roof and non-dirt floors. He also had a really cool picture.


It was taken at a hunting club and is pretty strong evidence that the villains and the heroes of the west were probably friends. Hollywood messes up everything trying to sell a story. Also, not too different from the main characters of today’s political scene. Don’t think for a second that they aren’t all friends. John also had lots of pottery fragments, fossils, and old pictures that he had collected from the property. All of this was really cool but I had never heard of John and I still hadn’t seen a wolf. Just as I was about to ask, Ms. Healing Wolf emerged from the back room with a wide smile and warms hugs. One thing about genuine “animal” people is that you can tell if they are sincere right away. Ms. Chris who sold us the wallaby was exactly like this lady; dedicated to her animal of choice. She really loves wolves and enjoys helping people through their interaction. We got lots of stories of people overcoming fears and pre-conceived notions. We saw firsthand how the alpha differs from the beta and how they really are all about the pack.


We never were afraid because they all looked a lot like Chester. Who could be scared of a teddy bear who just wants a belly rub? One of the wolves had been part of a fur farm and watched his family members be beaten and killed. He was still wary of humans and I don’t blame him. Humans can be awful sometime.


After a good two hours of talking and sharing stories we had our way to the door and exchanged another round of Tennessee hugs with our new friends. She sent us home with a gift of some wolf fur for our own little wolf pack to hold and remember all the good things they can be. This whole trip has had an underlying theme of connection and while I may not buy-in to the theory of energy vortexes and spirit animals, it is good to know that everyone holds something close to their hearts and they all want to share.

The scenery, at the end of the day, is just scenery.

If you enjoy a good adventure, this post is for you. You’re welcome. If you are a grandparent, we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for helping us celebrate 10 years!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

The Tell Tale Cart

I was thinking about a recent trip to Walmart and how parts of it reminded me of a story we had to read in 9th grade English.

This is the story of the Tell Tale Cart.

Intro Scene: (Dusk. The orange glow of a setting sun is rapidly disappearing behind a dark line of trees on the horizon. Like a dying coal it fades to grey. Lights across a shopping center parking lot are rapidly coming to life to greet the approaching night. There is a buzz from the lighting and the sound of a lone car quietly moving across the asphalt. The camera follows the van and zooms in to our hero.)

The ultra-luxurious minivan pulls into an empty parking space at Walmart. Underdaddy bounds confidently out of the driver’s side. He moves with the finesse of a Jaguar around the opening and closing of the car door. To the untrained eye, he would appear like a phantom sweeping out of the car while the door flapped like a delicate metal wing. He barely looks back as he holds up the key fob remote and points back to the van while pressing the lock button. A seasoned veteran. He presses twice so the van honks. This alerts would-be burglars and lets them know that a super security system is in place and is ready to valiantly protect the collection of empty water bottles, half consumed sodas, and what might have been a hotdog or a petrified tree. Precious cargo that is guaranteed to be safe.

Underdaddy strides towards the automatic sliding doors with a cool confidence that is somewhat unexpected from a thirty-something balding man with a Pac-Man t-shirt and cargo shorts. In the fire lane, a woman is loading the last bag of groceries into a large SUV that has been strategically hovering near the front door and blocking traffic. Our hero has an eye for citizens in need so he slows down to assist the damsel in distress.

Underdaddy: Excuse me kind citizen, I noticed you are finished with that grocery cart. Might I be of service and return it to the store?

Damsel: Are you sure? (She seems to hesitate)

Underdaddy (Feeling like the Shopping Cart Savior): Verily I say to you, this is not a problem. I need a cart for shopping and you need to allow the SUV to leave the fire lane so we aren’t all burned alive inside this fire-resistant metal and concrete building.

Damsel: (Obviously in awe of such selfless bravery) You are my hero! Take this cart. Shop… so that others may live!

(Okay… so that is a little dramatic but I did offer to take someone’s cart on the way into the store which should win a civil service award or something. Back to the story.)

The fair damsel exits in the Escalade and Underdaddy continues into the store with the rescued shopping cart. He is walking proudly (nose up, chest out) and enjoying an adrenaline high from such a noble deed. Who says chivalry is dead? He barely notices a slight tick of a damaged wheel that is tapping softly but regularly on the vinyl tile flooring. The thump is nothing to be concerned about. A petty complaint that is only noticed by lesser men. Underdaddy is a local hero and willing to sacrifice through an imperfect cart.

He makes his way to the feminine hygiene section to grab a spare pack of tampons. No one needs tampons yet but with four small girls he knows that stockpiling feminine products is a strategic investment. Add in a few new toothbrushes to replace the three that magically “fell” in the toilet on top of turds that someone “forgot” to flush. The wobbly cart continues to thump and the small dental products bounce playfully around the cart with each slap of the wheel. Underdaddy nears the edge of the tampons and notices a fellow male browsing in the “personal” products shelf and holding a box that appears to be water based lubricant. Momentary jealousy gives way to a deep understanding as he realizes the box is actually an Early Detection Pregnancy Test. A four pack. That poor bastard. The men exchange a somber nod and Underdaddy continues past. The soon-to-be-exiled man makes a casual comment, “They need to fix those lumpy wheels huh?”

Underdaddy smiles and, as he quips “They won’t waste money on that…”, he considers the rhythmic thumping for the first time. It is a definite rapping of a flat place worn into the rubber wheel. The vibration is making his hand tingle so he tries to vary the speed of the cart to make the thump less noticeable. Slower gives a harder *thunk*….*thunk*….*thunk* and faster makes the cart feel like it is rolling over a continuous washboard pattern, *thunk*thunk*thunk*thunk*. He considers if the wheel could be fixed by jamming some chewing gum onto the flat spot of the wheel.

The situation makes him think of the Buddhist concept of duhka (doo-kah) which is represented as a wheel out of round and a life out of balance. He continues through the aisles trying to be at peace with the noisy wheel and happy for the reminder that life needs balance. He doesn’t want to end up like a lumpy wheel. He picks out some energy efficient lights that are most certainly the wrong size, brightness, or shape then continues to the pet food area, stopping only once to browse the bargain movie bin. He thinks to himself, “Why did they produce so many generic animated movies?” and “Why is half of this bin the exact same movie?” He decides that any place of business that allows lumpy carts probably isn’t very concerned with the contents of the discount movie bin.

After the fifty pound bag of dog food is in the cart, the thumping seems to grow louder. The additional weight should help keep the bounce of the wheel to a minimum but instead it just made the sound stronger. Lifting upward on the right corner of the basket while pushing seems to help but only momentarily. Holding a fifty pound cart on two wheels is energy intensive and by the start of the grocery section the hero has grown tired. He settles for a dull pounding sound as he enters the dairy section.

More groceries are added. More weight. Louder thumping. Banging in fact. Other shoppers watch from the corner of their eyes and Underdaddy can feel their glares. They are quietly wondering who would pick such an annoying cart and then walk around the store annoying others. The slamming wheel is threatening to chip the floor tile and the car is bouncing up and down like a hotrod with hydraulics. A couple of pin stripes down the side and some flames and who would know the difference?

The pounding is getting ridiculous. Underdaddy stops to examine the wheel. Did it lose more material on the trip through the store? Is the wheel made from a package of square wooden coasters? Is the cart slamming on the floor hard enough to crack the welded frame?

Everything appears normal so the brave hero presses forward. He can see the underutilized row of registers at the front of the store. Another hundred yards and he will be able to pay for the groceries and household products and return the God-awful, brick-wheeled piece-of-shit cart to the cart return. He tries to smile through the searing wrist pain and blurred vision that is growing worse with each body slam of the products. The leisurely stroll has become an attempt to walk a raging jack hammer. He no longer cares if the eggs remain unbroken or the bananas unbruised. The thumping of the cart stabs his brain with every smack of the wheel.

The seed of a thought planted by some asshole with a pregnancy test has grown into a thorny thicket of mental anguish. Underdaddy struggles to remain brave but all he can hear… or see… or feel… is the cart!


Time slows down and he can feel the wheel rotating in space. The next one is approaching.


Just like a Jack-In-The-Box or an unpopped can of biscuits, he knows the moment is coming but it still startles him.


No human should have to endure this pain, this lower middle-class water boarding torture. How much can one DAMN wheel cost? Surely not enough to affect the executive jet service of the stockholders of Walmart! Enough is enough. If it happens one…. More…. Time….


Underdaddy stops in the middle of the aisle a mere thirty feet from an empty check-out line. Rage bubbles out of his eyes in the form of a cold dead stare at the offending wheel. He snaps into action and flings the cart into the air with a guttural growl. Groceries scatter. Metal clangs. Children scream.

The thumping wheel has become a throbbing vein attached to the forehead of a screaming madman. He runs to the checkout line and grabs a package of grill lighters and dashes off into the clothing section setting fire to the socks and women’s underwear. He swats at the racks of oversized night shirts and shoulder tackles a display of discount canned chili (with beans). He doesn’t notice the crackle of the intercom.

Security (via Intercom): Walmart would like to remind our shoppers that involuntary fits of rage are prohibited for your safety and ours. As always, thank you for shopping at Walmart.

The rampage continues. After a near 100% loss of slicing tomatoes in the Produce Section, the fallen hero returns to the upturned cart to finish what he started. He jumps on the side of the cart and bounces repeated to crumple the basket. Red faced and with tattered clothes, he is still cursing a lumpy and misshapen hunk of metal when the police arrive and place him in custody. The officers of the law drag the wide eyed attacker out of the front door and past an illegally parked Escalade. The same Escalade from earlier. Underdaddy returns to reality momentarily when he recognizes the same woman who gave him the cursed cart. She has returned to the store for the same reason everyone does, she forgot something. She recognizes Underdaddy from earlier and has the gall to mention as he slides past, “Sorry about that cart…that wheel was just awful”

He flails wildly and screams into the now darkened skies, “You evil bitch! You knew about the cart this whole time!” The betrayal is more than the broken man can bear. His body goes limp as his mind is defeated. The police roll him into the back of a squad car and slam the door shut.

As he lays against the faux leather and smells what seems to be sadness and urine he realizes a small victory. At least he is away from that terrible cart and the constant *thump*. He smiles and closes his eyes as the car pulls away. The tires roll evenly on the asphalt and the car drives off into the distance.

Never question the power of the Tell Tale Cart.

If you have ever been driven to the edge of insanity by a shopping cart with a thumpy wheel, this post is for you. I have the urge to smash them beyond use to protect the next person who might use it. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.