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Parental Guidance Suggested

November 24, 2008 Leave a comment

(I’m trying not to get hyperlink-happy, but I found a few that really fit.  Check them out.  They are worth the extra few seconds.  Enjoy!)

Of all things in life, I fear being a parent the most.  It’s not the responsibility or the rest-of-your-life change.  What scares me the very most about it happens right before the “becoming a dad” thing happens.  It’s the delivery room.  That has to be about the most gruesome sight in the world.  Even the magic of the Discovery Health Channel can’t make childbirth “beautiful”.  And that’s saying something (!) because the Discovery Channel can make a cheetah running down a baby gazelle and ripping out its adorable little throat look like a beautiful “circle of life” moment.

I may get lucky, though, when it comes to the delivery room.  My wife won’t even let me brush my teeth if she’s going to the bathroom, so I can’t imagine she will want me anywhere within 5 miles of her while she’s in “the stirrups“.  As soon as that water breaks, I’ll just drop her off in front of the hospital and say, “Love you, darling!  I’ll be at Buffalo Wild Wings for the next 2 to 30 hours.  Call me as soon as he starts crowning!”

First-time parents always make mention of how helpless caring for another life can make you feel.  With my active imagination, you can imagine how much worse it is for me.  Just off the top of my head, the questions that come to mind during the first week of having a new baby are:

–What age should I expect my child to walk?

–At what age is it okay to spank?

–Should I spank my newborn to get him used to it so it’s not a shock to him later on?

–Which end do I put the lasagna in?

–Which end should I expect said lasagna to come back out?

–If my child is crying, is a shock collar appropriate to get it to stop?

–Should I expect a visit from Family Services?

As my child grows up, am I going to be one of those parents who tries to live out all my unfulfilled dreams through my child?  I have a lot of unfulfilled dreams to make up for.  I was homeschooled, after all.  If my child were to make up for ALL the things I wish I would’ve accomplished by the time I reached adulthood, he would:

–Be good at sports

–Compose world-famous orchestral pieces

–Be a stand-up comedian

–Be an astronaut (spacewalk optional, but preferred)

–Perform with a traveling circus group

–Be handsome

That’s a lot to measure up to.

I was a kid long enough to know I should never trust my child.  If he says, “Can I take the car to meet up with some friends at the movie theater.  I’ll be back by 10”, I know he’s really saying, “Can I use the car to go to an undisclosed meeting place to purchase illegal narcotics?  You may never see me again.”  I fully understand that if my child says to me, “Can we get a puppy?  I promise I’ll feed it and walk it every day!”, he really means, “Dad, how would you like yet another mouth to feed, walk, and care for?  I’m just a kid.  I’ll say anything to get what I want!”  Finally, when my child says, “I don’t like carrots!  I want pizza!”, what he’s really saying is, “Give me rules and boundaries!  Please, oh please cram carrots in my mouth until I’m blue in the face!”

If I ever do have a child, I will do the best I can to protect them from all the evils in the world.  There’s 3 keys to raising a pure-hearted child.

1. Shelter

2. Shelter

3. Shelter

I will do everything in my power to make sure my child doesn’t even know the outside world exists.  The simplest way I can think to do that is to chain my child in the basement with Veggie Tales DVDs and sock puppets.  You think it’s irresponsible?  Then just call me Mr. Irresponsible!  Dangerous?  Ha!  I thrive on danger!  Illegal?  Okay.  Yes, it probably is.

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The Elderly: A Dissertation

November 19, 2008 5 comments

(Before we get to the good stuff, I encourage you to open the hyperlinks as you go along, because I have placed a few tidbits to really make this come alive for you.  At the time of writing this, the links led to safe, family-friendly destinations.  Hopefully the authors of the sites will keep it that way.  I absolve myself of any liability, as I do with hunting accidents and personal items left unattended.  Enjoy!)

God bless old people.  (Not these old people specifically.  I don’t know them.  They could be drug dealers or insurance salesmen.)

I mean this from the bottom of my heart, or at least from somewhere in my small intestine.  I hope I am still functioning as I get closer to eternity.  I’m so curious about what part of my body will quit working first!  I’m taking bets.  Hearing pays 5 to 1, eyesight is 2 to 1 since I already wear contacts, and remorse is the long shot at 20 to 1.

What got me thinking about old people was an interaction I had with an elderly woman (I imagine she looked something like this) at work today over the phone.  It went as such:

Intercom: “Paul Ryser, Line 1 please.”

*I went to the nearest phone and picked up the call*

Me: “Thank you for holding.  This is Paul, how may I help you?”

Old woman (probably named Ruth or Vera, because all elderly women have one of those names): “Sorry, what’s your name?”

(Mind you, I could hear her just fine, and I NEVER have any problem with ANYONE understanding me on that phone.)

Me, louder: “Paul.”

Vera: “Todd?”

Me, perturbed: “PAUL.”

Vera: “Sorry, I still can’t hear you.  One more time?”

Me, shooting white hot knives of fiery hatred through the phone: “PAAUUULLLLLLLLL!”

Vera: “Tom?”

Me, defeated: “Yes.  My name is Tom.”

Vera: “Well, Tom, I’m gonna be in your store this weekend, blah blah blah.”  She was just letting me know she would be in on Saturday to be one of those sample ladies (I swear to you the name was pure coincidence that had me rolling on the floor) who will “bother people until they try my stale crappy pretzel bites that they will spit out of their mouth as soon as they turn the corner.”

Long story short, she made me spell out my last name for her paperwork.  So, if my co-workers are reading this, and some elderly woman comes looking for Tom Ryser this weekend, just smile and nod.

It’s scary to think that old people are out there driving every day, unaware of other motorists, the Internet, or Clay Aiken.  A world without Clay Aiken is like a day without sunshine.  Sometimes I’m honestly afraid to even drive around a parking lot during the hours old people are in the outside world (4-5AM and 10-11AM, the only 2 hours during the entire day that Matlock is not on any channel).  I’m constantly having to dodge oncoming Cadillacs flying at me at a rate of 5 mph (157 kph)!

Beyond the loss of hearing (5 to 1, those are decent odds; make sure to get your bets in), I’ve started considering the health problems associated with aging.

And what about Social Security?  I’ve heard it won’t even be around by the time I reach my minimum retirement age (106).  What am I going to do without that extra $785 (12 euros) coming in every month?  How did people survive without Social Security in the 1850s?  Oh, I remember.  They just died earlier, before the money ran out.

The point is, I love old people.  I hope I’ve made that clear.  Without them, we wouldn’t have adult Velcro sneakers, really bad really strong perfume, or Werthers Originals.

I think it’s even better in French.

Sincerely,

Tom Ryser

Fun Facts and Color Coded Mucus

November 15, 2008 1 comment

I always wonder what goes on inside my body.  How in the world do all my internal processes add up to my staying alive?  Breathing, digestion, cardiovascular this-and-that, etc.  That’s probably why I blow my nose in the shower.  Does anyone else do that?  It’s really the only time you can let loose and see the inner workings of your body.  It’s a bit like a litmus test.  The color of your mucus, they say, can tell you a lot about what’s going on in your body.  I even have a color-coded system that will explain what your mucus is trying to tell you:

Clear–Everything is a-ok!

Yellow–Better stock up on Airborne before those sniffles turn more serious!

Red–Get your finger out of your nose!

Gray–If you must pick your nose, don’t reach so far in that you’re scratching off the outside layer of your hypothalamus.

Green–Go to the doctor!  Why, oh why didn’t you take Airborne???  Oprah recommends it every year, for crying out loud!

Because I cannot get inspired enough to write a whole post about a single topic, I have simply compiled a list of little-known facts for you.  Enjoy!

–Windex, when ingested, will cause stomach pain, but will leave leave your colon with a streak-free shine.

–I have a single, large file folder in my filing cabinet.  It is labeled “Miscellaneous”.

–After spending $2.7 trillion on extensive census work, it has been undoubtedly proven that 99.999% of white people love grilled cheese sandwiches.

–The #1 preventable cause of birth defects is NASCAR.

–Before being called “Social Security”, the plan people used to provide for themselves in later years was called “saving your own money”.

–If you say the name “Dr. Phil” 3 times in succession, it will summon him.  He will put your personal shortcomings in Texas terms.  (i.e., “That cow’s gonna give sour milk”, “The real victims are these kids”, and “Your oil is up over $100 a barrel”)  You are better off to summon Beetlejuice or Barbara Walters.

–Midgets riding bikes are good for the environment.  What, you’ve never heard of “wee cycling”?

–Making the death penalty the punishment for every crime will eliminate recidivism.

–For 6 years running, East St. Louis has been named the Best City to Raise a Violent Street Gang.

–Disney movies are still meticulously and pain-stakingly hand-drawn.  By the devil.

–The real cause of global warming is the hot air that comes out of Al Gore.

–Astronaut Neil Armstrong is actually two children, one sitting on the other’s shoulders.

–Chuck Norris jokes have finally been proven to cause cancer, which of course is cured by antibodies in Chuck’s blood.  However, no one has been able to make him bleed.

–Stedman does not really exist.  He is just a creation of Oprah’s imagination.  But then again . . . we all are.

Now go out and get some Airborne before that mucus turns green!

Dial “M” for Mold

November 11, 2008 8 comments

First, I want to make the distinction between a midget and a dwarf.  A dwarf is someone who is extremely short (under 4 foot, 10 inches), but also has disproportionate features.  Many times, the dwarf’s head is larger in proportion, and the arms and legs are smaller by proportion.  A midget is also someone extremely short (4’10”), but has normal body proportion.

My cat, Rocco, is a midget.

At first, I thought it was because my older, fatter, balder cat Louie was stealing Rocco’s food.  Since separating them during feeding time, I noticed Rocco finally started growing!  Recently, however, I have noticed no perceivable growth in Rocco.  Thus, his stunted growth (Midgetosis) is not caused by malnutrition.  That leaves me with a theory.  Oh, how I love theories.

Before I get to that, I must tell you that Rocco is also a very needy individual.  If you are in another room, he will suddenly and unexplainably realize he misses you.  He will thusly begin a howling meow until you come and rescue him from the dangers of sitting in the middle of the floor and doing nothing.  My wife thinks it’s just a cry for attention.  The only problem is, he can’t tell the difference between “good attention” and “bad attention”.  You probably knew kids like that when you were in school.  Remember that boy in second grade who always started fires?  Well, that was a cry for attention.  And what about the girl who stabbed other kids in the leg with pencils?  Another cry for attention.  Who could forget the little boy who would roll his eyes into the back of his head and try to swallow his tongue until he passed out and banged his head on the corner of the desk?  Actually, that may have just been epilepsy now I think about it.

I can’t even take a shower without him sitting right outside the shower curtain and crying until I flick water on him.  He’s become so bold now that he will peek his head into the shower curtain to say hello (and let a cold rush of air blow over my skin).  Recently, he’s begun to jump up on the ledge of the tub, between the shower curtain and the liner, and lick the liner from the outside.  Then he jumps in the tub after I get out, and he licks the water off the bottom of the tub.  That’s really disgusting because of the build-up of mold and assorted bacteria growing in my shower and liner.  Wait, I take that back.  Louie is not bald.

That brings me to my theory: licking orange mold stunts growth.  It’s completely plausible!  He stopped growing around the time he acquired the taste for mold.  It adds up in a big way.  Also consider: if you are a short person due to stunted growth (Midgetoxic Encephalopathy), did your parents ever allow you eat mold?  And if yes, did it taste good?  I only ask because my cat really digs it, but I can’t bring myself to lick the shower curtain.  Anyways, if the answer is no, did your mother ever lick shower curtains while she was pregnant with you?  You might want to call her just to be safe.

In addition to causing stunted growth (Midgetoid Thrombosis), it is also a highly addictive psychotropic drug.  My cat is hooked on M!  I mean, he really loves it.  The only side effect I’ve seen so far is that it causes schizophrenic paranoia.  He always tries to run outside when I open the front door.  If it is, in fact, a powerful psychedelic hallucinogen, I could be sitting on a gold mine!  I wonder what the street value of my shower curtain is on the black market.

The moral of this story is that you should never do drugs, even if it’s from the shower curtain of a neighbor you trust.  They cause paranoia and stunted growth (Midgetitis C).

The Lost Art of Muttering

November 7, 2008 1 comment

A wise man once told me, right before I was going to move out of my parents house on my own:

“Just wait until you catch yourself walking around talking to yourself.”

He was right!  Within two months, sure enough, I caught myself muttering.  I was saying something like, “I need to vacuum this living room.  It looks terrible.  Man, I’m starv . . . uh-oh.”  This was not the scary part.  It was the ensuing conversation that worried me.  “Am I talking to myself?  Jeff was right! — Am I crazy? — No, I’m sure it’s normal . . .”  And so on.

I actually never knew I was so interesting.  We (me and myself) would carry on extended conversations long into the night.  I took myself out to dinner and gazed into my eyes.  I would go on walks with myself, just to find a quiet place to talk.  It got to the point where I had to tell myself to be quiet sometimes.  “Oh, no!  This is where Indiana Jones finds out it was aliens all along! — Well, thanks for ruining it for me! — Oh, like it wasn’t obvious! — Shut up! — You shut up!”  It got so bad I wouldn’t talk to myself for days at a time out of spite.  I’m on speaking terms again with myself, so I’m really growing as a couple.

Even now that I’m married, if I’m home alone, I will mutter.  It feels really good to catch up on old times.  “How’s it going? — Good, you? — Really busy. — Yeah, me too.  Oh hey, I got married.  Did I tell you? — No, you silly good-looking man!  When did that happen? — Like last year!  I can’t believe I didn’t tell you!”  I hate it when I keep secrets from myself.

Most times when I mutter now, it’s right after I say something really insensitive.  First, I blurt out some random things, then a cruel thing, then I apologize.  “Is that a spider web?  Man, I hate spiders.  I hate the New York Knicks. — Oh, that’s not very nice. — I’m sorry.  I don’t know what got into me. — That’s okay.  Basketball is not a very good sport.”

I’ve come to the conclusion it’s not THAT you talk to yourself; it’s WHAT you say to yourself that determines whether or not you should be worried.  For instance:

–What not to be worried about–

“What kind of soup do I want today? — Be crazy today.  Minestrone! — Oh, you devil!  Tee hee!”

“Where did I put my keys?  Under the couch?  No. — How about on my dresser? — Maybe.”

“These pants make my butt look HUGE. — That’s because I tucked my shirt in. — Perhaps if I just . . . yep, that looks better. — Much.”

–Be very worried if these happen to you–

“I’ll show ’em.  I’ll show ’em all.  That’s right, they’ll pay. — Gee, boss, you’re talkin’ crazy talk! — Get outta my way!  I have to even the score!  They can’t walk over Little Anthony DiGallo and get away with it!”

“Would you like more coffee, Mrs. Rubenstein? — Not until my boy comes home from The Great War.”

“Where in the world could I find someone to do a singing candygram? — Look in the phone book. — Great idea! — Thank you. — Yellow pages or white pages? — Yellow. — What category? — Lawyers? — Let’s see here . . . Lawyers . . . see, Attorneys.  Attorneys . . . Nope.  No candygrams.”

“I think I’ll take a class on Norse mythology. — Sounds like a good idea.”

–Most importantly, you should be worried if more than two of you enter the conversation–

“Beautiful weather today. — That’s stupid. — You wanna go, big man? — Hey, cut it out, guys. — You stay out of this! — Yeah, stay out of it! — Fine.  You guys want to kill each other, that’s your business. — And don’t come back! — Yeah, scram! — Scram?  What are you, a 1920s mob henchman? — Oh, so you still wanna fight? — Bring it on, sissy boy. — Sorry, I left my cell phone here.  Seriously, both of you need to just talk it over! — I thought I told you to LEAVE! — He’s right!  Go on! — Fine, fine.  I’m going this time. — What were we fighting about again? — I don’t even remember any more.  Let’s be friends. — That sounds like a good idea — Maurice! — I have to go.  My mom’s calling me.”

So, in closing, muttering is not necessarily a bad thing.  It breaks the silence of living alone, and you find out a lot about yourself.  After I found out about myself, I got so scared that I just kept the TV on all day to break the silence.  I should have never moved out of my parents’ house.  Think they’ll take me back? — Nah, they’re happier without you. — Oh, be quiet already! — Make me. — I will!

Oh no.

Louie: The Theory

November 5, 2008 2 comments

(I had a wonderful post all planned out here where I would tell you a little about my cat, Louie, and show you a picture, then go to the funny stories.  It was boring me to tears, so I’m starting over.  I will go straight to the point.)

I like cats because they are so graceful and poised.  Except Louie.  I’ve seen my cat fall out of the same window five times because his belly is so big that he cannot balance with it pressed against the glass.  Now that I think about it, maybe he has an inner ear problem and is just doing his very best to stand up without falling over.

Nah, he’s just fat.

I think Louie is starting to get technically “obese”.  I fear for his health and well-being.  Every time I hear a loud noise, I have to find him immediately, worrying that his heart has exploded.  He is absolutely in love with food.  If food could scoop his litter box and scratch his belly, then Louie would not need me any more, and kill me in my sleep.  He would probably suffocate me by putting his rotund posterior (fat butt) on my nose and mouth (face).  Great cat, though.  A real charmer.

Seriously, this cat will sit by his food bowl and meow until you feed him, or else he will come find you and attempt to eat you.  One night, I looked him right in the eye and said, “You are getting too fat.  I am not going to feed you tonight, NO MATTER WHAT.”  As I turned the light off and headed upstairs, he jumped against my leg, all claws, and bit me on the thigh.  I looked right down at him with all the malice in the world and said, “Let’s go get you some food, my darling kitty.”  I didn’t want to wake up without a nose over a half-cup of cat food (it’s mostly snouts and hoofs from what I gather).

Okay, he won’t really bite off your nose if you don’t feed him right before bedtime.  Now, he will bite your toes until you get out of bed and feed him.  That I learned early on.  He’s the devil.  But his nose is cold and wet and cute, so I let him slide.

Louie’s so pushy when it comes to food that after eating his own bowlful, he will go over to Rocco’s (our other cat) bowl, push him out of the way, and scarf down the rest.  Until we caught on to this, Rocco wasn’t gaining any weight or getting any bigger for a couple of months after we first got him.  You could see his ribs and everything.  Louie was starving his adopted brother into emaciation!  He has a cold, hungry soul, bitter as the dark side of the moon.  But his fur is so smooth!  I just want to cuddle him!

Probably Louie’s worst habit is that he does not cover his “business” when he leaves the litter box.  Just leaves the steaming pile there on top of the sand, like a little decoration.  Thank God we have Rocco, who follows Louie to the litter box, and promptly covers up the indiscretion before it starts to stink too bad.  I’m glad one of our cats has a little bit of hygiene.

Oh, it gets worse.  After neglecting a Tootsie Roll in the sandbox, Louie will not, under any circumstance, lick his bum to clean it.  I have brown streaks on my sheets to prove it, people.

I told you all that to tell you this: I have a theory about why Louie falls out of windows, eats uncontrollably, bites toes, and walks away from a fresh poop without covering it or wiping.  Now, I mean this without any prejudice or insult.  I think my cat may be a college roommate stuck in a cat’s body.  This theory has the most support, mainly from my experiences being a college roommate.  Actually, looking back at myself as a roommate, I was just like Louie.  As a roommate:

-I ate everything in sight, regardless of whose food it was

-My roommate always had to go in after me and flush

-When hungry, I was known to chew on people’s toes

He must get all that from my side of the family.