Follow us on Twitter or Facebook

Now available

Click image for amazon.com link

Free e-book download

“There’s plenty of funny and relatable stories inside this little book, for both moms and dads and will give you that extra boost of cheer for the day.”

- Parent Magazine

Click  here to download a free PDF that (if wikipedia is to be believed) should be compatible with iPAD, Kindle, that goofy Motorola tablet and just about anything else with a screen. Feel free to forward to as many friends as you want to, too.

AL GORE’S REVENGE: HOW TO PUT UP GREEN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN 14 SIMPLE STEPS.

Step 1. Look for lights.
Step 2. Find lights in last place you’d ever think they’d be.
Step 3. Spend 45 minutes trying to untangle them.
Step 4. Briefly stop to consider how much energy lights waste each season, but then continue.
Step 5. Climb up on roof.
Step 6. Roll eyes and say “Geez, it’s not like I haven’t climbed a roof before” when spouse/significant other/neighbor says “Be careful!”
Step 7. Almost slip and fall.
Step 8. Hope spouse/significant other/neighbor didn’t notice.
Step 9. Put up lights and revel in sense of satisfaction at how easy it was.
Step 10. Climb down ladder.
Step 11. Plug in cord and check lights.
Step 12. Pour stiff drink.
Step 13. Spend balance of afternoon replacing bulbs, splicing wires, and doing everything you can think of to get the lights to come on before ultimately giving up and deciding to skip the stupid lights this year and go green.
Step 14. Curse Al Gore.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOUR SPOUSE OR SIGNIFICANT OTHER IS UPSET?

How do you know when your spouse/significant other is upset?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

BAD WAYS TO SPEND THE EXTRA HOUR OF DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

5:45 am

KID: Mom? MOM!
MOM: What are you doing out of bed?
KID: I woke up.
MOM: Then go back to sleep.
KID: I’m not tired.
MOM: I don’t care if you’re not tired, it’s the middle of the night.
KID: It doesn’t feel like the middle of the night.
MOM: What time does the clock on my nightstand say?
KID: 12:01.
MOM: 12:01?!?!?!
KID: I accidentally tripped over the cord when I was coming over, sorry.
MOM: What does the clock on your father’s nightstand say?
KID: I don’t know. Dad? DAD!
MOM: No! Don’t wake him!
DAD: Too late, I’m already up.
KID: Do you know what time it is?
DAD: I can’t see the clock without my glasses.
MOM: It says 5:45.
DAD: It can’t be 5:45, it’s too dark outside.
MOM: It’s dark because the days are getting shorter.
DAD: But we just went on Daylight Saving Time last night!
KID: What’s Daylight Saving Time?
MOM: It’s when you change the clocks so you get more light during the day.
DAD: Yeah – “Spring forward” and “Fall back,” which means it’s not 5:45, it’s 6:45.
MOM: You mean it’s not 5:45, it’s 4:45.
DAD: That’s what I said.
MOM: No, you said it was 6:45 not 5:45.
DAD: Well… that’s what I meant.
MOM: Except that I remembered to change the clock, so it’s actually 5:45.
KID: Do I still have to go back to bed then?
DAD: No, because I remembered to change the clock, too, so that means it’s…
KID: 3:45?!?!?
MOM: No, because your father always gets Daylight Saving Time backwards, so even though I changed the clock back an hour your father probably changed the clock forward, which means if it says 5:45, it’s actually 4:45.
KID: I’m really confused.
DAD: Me, too – and I didn’t get Daylight Saving Time backwards this time, I totally forgot about it.
MOM: Then why did you say you changed the clock?
DAD: Because you always make such a big deal over the fact that you remember and I forget.
MOM: So rather than come clean, you lied?
DAD: No.
MOM: You didn’t lie?
DAD: Like you said… I have such a bad memory, I just forgot the truth.
MOM: Don’t get sarcastic.
DAD: You’re the one who started it.
MOM: Me?
DAD: I was asleep.
MOM: So everything is my fault?
DAD: Not everything.
KID: Excuse me – before you continue, can somebody just tell me what time it really is?
BOTH: 5:45.
KID: Good.
MOM: Why is that good?
KID: Because I think you’re both gonna need the extra hour you have before you need to get up to figure out what you’re really fighting about.

SCENES FROM MARRIAGE, NO. 8

WIFE: What’s wrong?
HUSBAND: Nothing.
WIFE: You sure?
HUSBAND: Positive. Why do you keep asking me?
WIFE: You look like you’re angry.
HUSBAND: I don’t feel angry.
WIFE: But you look angry.
HUSBAND: But I’m not angry.
WIFE: If you say so.
HUSBAND: Good.
WIFE: So there’s nothing you’re upset about?
HUSBAND: No.
WIFE: Nothing you’re not telling me?
HUSBAND: No.
WIFE: Nothing you’re gonna stew about for the next few days and then finally admit to me this weekend has been bothering you all week?
HUSBAND: No. Do you want me to be mad?
WIFE: No.
HUSBAND: I think you do.
WIFE: I do not.
HUSBAND: Don’t get so defensive.
WIFE: Stop attacking me.
HUSBAND: You’re the one who’s attacking me.
WIFE: Only because you lied.
HUSBAND: About what?
WIFE: About being angry!
HUSBAND: I’m only angry because you made me angry.
WIFE: So you do admit you’re angry?
HUSBAND: Yes.
WIFE: I knew it.

WHEN KIDS ASK UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS

What’s sex? Did you take drugs in college? Why did you vote for George W. Bush* the second time?

Kids ask questions all the time, but there’s a difference between the ones parents can’t answer — “Does God need to shower?” — and the ones (some) parents don’t want to. The solution? Perhaps we can take a cue from politicians, their press secretaries and the so-called “bipartisan” pundits we see on TV and use the same simple strategies for answering without answering.

1. Give a detailed, thoughtful response, just not to the question they ask.

Campaigning politicians are particularly good at this, and the trick is to remember that your answer can be anything, just as long as you can loosely relate it to the original question.

For example, if asked about drugs, begin by saying “I’m glad you asked me about smoking pot in college…,” which makes it sound like you’re going to admit that for most of your sophomore year your best friend was your bong, but then say “…because I think it’s important that we be open and honest with each other, especially now that you’re older and starting to ask hard questions. It seems like only yesterday when the most important thing on your mind was which Power Ranger you wanted to dress up as, or if a certain Pokemon could beat a certain other kind of Pokemon. I have to admit that watching you grow up has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life, and I look forward to helping you continue on that journey towards adult- hood by providing you with the information and insight I myself have gained over the years…”

If you haven’t lost them by then, just keep talking.

2. Focus on “the larger issue.”

Which can be pretty much anything you want it to be.

3. Ask your kids what they think the answer is.

Also known as the therapist approach.

This works well for things you don’t really know how to explain, but not-so- well for things you’re just not comfortable talking about.

4. Lie.

Time was that people who didn’t tell the truth were called liars and they were looked down upon, but thanks to all the CEO’s, athletes, politicians and ce- lebrities who’ve been caught with their pants down (or off, or filled with drugs, etc.) those days seem to be over.

The best thing about this approach is that if your lie is later exposed, you can claim you just “misspoke.” As in “Yes, I can see how my response to the ques- tion ‘Did I vote for George W. Bush?’ might have been confusing, because when I said ‘No,’ I actually misspoke. In point of fact – and because it’s im- portant to me that the record accurately reflect my views – I didn’t mean ‘No’ in the traditional sense of the word, and I can see now how my incorrect use of that word might have been somewhat misleading, because what I, in fact, meant was that I felt that in light of the specific challenges facing the Presi- dent at that time, it was important for me – and really, all of us as a nation – to remain united and strong, and because of that, I did my duty as an American by going to the polls and casting a ballot so my voice could be heard, and even though that ballot was nominally in the affirmative, it was really more a show of support for the country as a whole than a specific endorsement of any one candidate. I voted because it’s the duty of every citizen to vote, and for that I will never apologize.”

5. Use a spokesperson.

Either a hired professional or your spouse, if he or she has the BS skills required.

This has the added benefit of distancing you from your answer, whatever that might be.

Plus, if you are later confronted about the answer your spokesperson gave on your behalf, you can say you didn’t actually mean whatever it was they said and that you must have been “quoted out of context.”

*Or, increasingly for many, Barack Obama the first time.

STRESS

KID: Can I ask you something?
MOM: Sure.
DAD: What is it?
KID: Promise you won’t get mad?
MOM: What makes you think we’d get mad?
KID: Just promise.
DAD: Fine.
MOM: What’s your question?
KID: What’s “stress?”
MOM: Stress?
DAD: It’s a prolonged state of mental and emotional strain.
MOM: It’s like you’re being pulled in two different directions.
DAD: At the exact same time.
MOM: You’re stuck.
DAD: But you can’t get unstuck.
MOM: Until you feel totally and completely overwhelmed.
DAD: And irritable.
MOM: And short-tempered.
DAD: And impatient.
MOM: And you can’t sleep.
DAD: Or focus.
KID: But it’s not contagious, is it?
PARENT: No.
KID: Good — ’cause obviously the only thing you can do about it is drink, and I’m not old enough.

BBQ Tips

  • Beef + flame = BBQ.
  • Beef + flame + lots of beer = 2nd degree burns and a clip for “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
  • A grill is the second best way to cook asparagus. But a blast furnace is the best way because it completely incinerates those terrible little stalks.
  • Don’t wear a “Kiss the cook” apron while you BBQ unless you want a drunken friend or neighbor to try to.
  • If a cup of hot coffee has to carry a warning label, why doesn’t a grill? And since it doesn’t, how long before somebody files a class action lawsuit claiming they were burned because they didn’t realize grills get so hot?
  • Not everything can be grilled — like pasta, for example. And although this may seem obvious, to 4-year-olds and drunken neighbors it’s not.
  • If a dog is man’s best friend, a grill runs a close second.
  • There is a difference between well-done and burnt, but only to people who like their steaks well-done. To everyone else — especially lovers of blood and pink — they are both the same: a waste of a perfectly good cut of meat.
  • If you’re cooking with gas, it’s important to the light the grill immediately after turning on the gas instead of running inside to get another drink first.
  • It’s also important not to use lighter fluid.
  • Anyone who says “everything tastes better when it’s grilled” clearly hasn’t eaten at my neighbors.
  • Men like to BBQ for the same reason they like to see stuff blow up.
  • There should be a mathematical formula for calculating the increase in LDL given a steak’s price per pound so that anyone with high cholesterol can ignore their doctor’s advice in an informed manner.
  • George Stephen, creator of the Weber Grill, should be sainted.
  • If there is ever another Civil War, it will most likely have something to do with Texas, Alabama and Missouri claiming to have the best BBQ in the America, and all the other states either taking sides or taking offense, except for Wisconsin, which will remain neutral because they have fish boils instead of BBQ.

BLAME MOM

Now that Mother’s Day is over, it’s time to get back to blaming mom.

While this might seem harsh, research indicates it may actually be justified: according to experts, “the way mothers talk to their children at a young age influences their social skills later in childhood.”

In other words, children of mothers who explain things – specifically other people’s feelings, beliefs, wants and intentions – are better off socially than those whose mothers dismiss their budding curiosity with “Because,” “Because I said so!” or “Because if you ask me again you’re going to bed for the rest of the day!”

Not that being more socially advanced is the key to a trouble-free childhood – researchers pointed out that kids who are more comfortable and confident expressing their emotions and opinions are much more likely to actually express their emotions and opinions, usually in complex and sophisticated ways, especially when they are contrary to yours.

But while some authority figures might consider this “bad,” “inappropriate” or a reason for detention and/or counseling, researchers downplayed this implication and pointed out that, in a perverse way, these bile-filled diatribes are actually a good sign. And that when a teenager erupts in rage and frustration and screams “You disgust me!” “You’re the worst parent ever!” or “I have complete and utter contempt for everything you stand for,” it’s not proof he or she is possessed, it’s proof mom created exactly the kind of positive, loving, supportive environment her child needed to feel comfortable acting like an ungrateful little shit.

FATHER: Why are you crying?
MOTHER: Because Junior just told me he hates me.
FATHER: What!
MOTHER: No, it’s fine. I’m not crying because I’m sad, I’m crying because now I know I’ve raised him right.
FATHER: Huh?
MOTHER: According to experts, his ability to express himself with confidence and authority proves I’m a good mother.
FATHER: Was there something on Oprah I should know about?
MOTHER: Just hold me.

If mom gets the credit, however, she also gets the blame. Which means that when a child is sullen, moody and silent, it’s probably because mom messed up years or even decades ago, and can now add that to the long list of things she feels guilty about but can never make up for, no matter how hard she tries.

MOTHER: My kids are grown, so what am I supposed to do now? Go back in time and try to explain everything to them more thoroughly?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Is that something you can do?
MOTHER: What?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Go back in time?
MOTHER: Of course not.
PSYCHOLOGIST: So that’s the problem: you need to go back in time to save your children but you can’t.
MOTHER: Exactly.
PSYCHOLOGIST: And who do you need to save them from? A terminator?
MOTHER: Huh?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Or maybe aliens?
MOTHER: I can’t talk to you.
PSYCHOLOGIST: Why? Are the aliens monitoring us?

Before us Dads get all superior and start pointing fingers, we should keep in mind that researches were only able to study the relationship between mothers and their offspring because fathers and their offspring didn’t spend enough time together to make enough of an impact, leading many to conclude that if we’re going to blame anyone because Junior is socially inept, we should probably blame dad, too.

Though not until after Father’s Day.

MOTHER’S DAY

KID: Mother’s Day is coming up.
MOM: I know.
KID: Do you want us to get you anything?
MOM: Only if you want to.
KID: Or course we want to, we just don’t know what you want.
MOM: Surprise me.
KID: With what?
MOM: With something I’d like.
KID: A present?
MOM: Sure.
KID: But what kind of present?
MOM: How can you spend so much time with me and not know a single thing I like? Just think about what I do every day.
KID: Okay.
MOM: Does that give you any ideas?
KID: It does — we could get you some plastic bags.
MOM: Plastic Bags?
KID: For making our lunches.
MOM: No.
KID: Okay, what about some dish towels?
MOM: No.
KID: Pencils you could use to help us with homework?
MOM: No.
KID: A mop?
MOM: No.
KID: You already have an SUV you like to drive us around in. How about one of those cool toilet bowl cleaners I saw on TV?
MOM: No.
KID: New laundry basket?
MOM: Do you think I do all those things because I like to?
KID: Why else would you do them?
MOM: Because I’m a mom and that’s what mom’s do: stuff they don’t like doing, but needs to be done.
KID: Oh.
MOM: Yeah, “Oh.”
KID: If that’s the case, then I know exactly what you’d like for Mother’s Day.
MOM: What’s that?
KID: To be like Dad: ‘cause there’s lots of stuff he needs to do, but usually he just watches ESPN instead.

Editor’s Note: While not entirely true, there’s no doubt the sentiment expressed above often feels true.

INVITATION DECISION-MAKING TREE

Do you need to go? NO decline
YES
Do you want to go? NO decline
YES
Can you think of anything bad that will happen if you don’t go? NO decline
YES
If you lie and say you can’t go because you already have plans, will anybody find out? NO decline
YES
Will you really care if that happens? NO decline
YES
Will there be an open bar? NO decline
YES
Can you leave early if you are having a terrible time? NO decline
YES
accept

TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS? OH, PLEASE

As a parent, time is precious. So how do you make the most of it? Time management experts offer the following advice:

1. Prioritize.
2. Delegate/outsource.
3. Set time limits for tasks.
4. Establish routines and stick to them.
5. Don’t waste time waiting.

At first glance, these suggestions seem simple and straight-forward, but when you actually try to implement them you quickly realize they are better suited to some kind of parallel “self-help dimension” where the laws of time, space and sibling in-fighting don’t apply.

1. Prioritize.

In theory, yes. In practice – forget it.

Take, say, the tasks of treating an injury versus giving a toddler a bath. Typically, bleeding kids come first, unless they’re bleeding because they did the thing you told them not to do five times, in which case the toddler would get the bath. If the bleeding kid is bleeding on furniture, however, then the furniture needs immediate attention.

On the other hand, if there’s only a little bleeding and it’s not on any furniture, then that might not be as important as preventing the toddler from trying to bathe himself.

2. Delegate/outsource.

Which means what? Parents are supposed to ship their kids off to India to get help with their homework?

3. Set time limits for tasks.

Okay. But what is the appropriate time limit for a temper tantrum? And if getting everybody ready in the morning takes 15 minutes longer than whatever amount of time you set aside – whether it’s 40 minutes or two hours – how are you supposed to limit that? Or if you make reservations for that one night out a year you get a leisurely three hours to eat, what happens when the babysitter is 20 minutes late and the restaurant gives up your table?

4. Establish routines and stick to them.

Most parents already do this, but it doesn’t seem to help. For example, a typical morning routine would be telling the kids to get up, get in the shower, get dressed, get some breakfast and get in the car, then repeating this three or four times over the course of 20 minutes before threatening them with some kind of bodily harm if they don’t do all of the above RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

This is followed by the nagging suspicion that something that was supposed to have been done last night wasn’t, and the sudden realization that this “something” was making lunches for all the kids.

Oops.

As there is now not nearly enough time left to do everything and still get off on time, vows that “This will never happen again!” must be shouted so that all in the house can hear, spouses must be silently cursed for not helping, and God must be asked “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?”

5. Don’t waste time waiting.

Clearly this was not written by anyone living in a small house with kids. How else is a parent supposed to get into the bathroom?

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

THE RETURN OF ROB AND LAURA PETRIE?

Network censors demanded separate beds for “The Dick Van Dyke Show” because they felt it was inappropriate for the married couple portrayed by Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore to sleep together.

(Raising the question of exactly how son Richie came about, but never ad- dressing it.)

It seemed silly at the time, and even more silly when the 70s hit and the sexual revolution took hold, but now more and more couples are starting to think “Hey, maybe those network censors had it right after all!”

According to experts, the main benefit of a couple having separate bedrooms is they both get more sleep because neither gets awakened by the other’s snoring… getting up every hour to pee… tossing and turning… general inabil- ity to tip-toe… and so on.

On the negative side… well… when you’re getting more sleep, is there really anything negative?

Note: While there is concern that separate bedrooms could impact intimacy and romance, that’s only for couples without children, as couples with chil- dren almost certainly gave those up shortly after their first child was con- ceived, and now fully embrace the idea of separate bedrooms if for no other reason than when you both sleep in the same bed, both of you wind up with no room to move around when your kids file in after dark because they had a bad dream or heard something scary in the closet.

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

STATISTICS SAY FATHERS BETTER THAN MOTHERS

As this week’s New York Times points out, “Working parents perpetually agonize that they don’t see enough of their children. But a surprising new study finds that mothers and fathers alike are doing a better job than they think, spending far more time with their families than did parents of earlier generations.”

Take that, grandparents.

But if “time spent with kids” is an indicator of overall parenting success, it raises the question: who does a better job? Mothers ? Or fathers?

The answer: fathers.

Because when you compare the amount of time spent with kids today to pre-1995 amounts, fathers are up an impressive 102 percent, while mothers are only up 77 percent.

Sorry moms.

(As with all statistics, there is an alternate interpretation. Click here to see how the same statistics indicate mothers are better than fathers.)

STATISTICS SAY MOTHERS BETTER THAN FATHERS

As this week’s New York Times points out, “Working parents perpetually agonize that they don’t see enough of their children. But a surprising new study finds that mothers and fathers alike are doing a better job than they think, spending far more time with their families than did parents of earlier generations.”

Take that, grandparents.

But if “time spent with kids” is an indicator of overall parenting success, it raises the question: who does a better job? Mothers ? Or fathers?

The answer: mothers.

Because when you compare the amount of time spent with kids today to pre-1995 amounts, mothers are up an impressive 9.2 hours per week while fathers are only up 5.1 hours.

Sorry dads.

(As with all statistics, there is an alternate interpretation. Click here to see how the same statistics indicate fathers are better than mothers.)

WHEN YOU'RE EXHAUSTED

…the answer is “NO!,” regardless of whether the question was “Are you up- set?” or “Can I go to the potty?”

…you call your kids by the wrong names. Or worse – by the dog’s.

…simple things become infinitely complicated, to the point where microwaving chicken nuggets takes an hour.

…you can’t remember if it’s your day to do the pick-up, and if you think it is, it isn’t, and if you think it isn’t, it is.

…you try to play hide ‘n’ seek but fall asleep in the upstairs hall closet.

…your spouse is “in the mood” and doesn’t understand why you’re not.

…somebody throws up, bleeds on something, or has “an accident.”

…non-parents suggest you just put the kids to bed early and get some sleep, but you’re too tired to tell them what a massively stupid and unrealistic idea that is.

…telemarketers call every few minutes asking you to donate.

…helping your kids with their homework proves so stressful and challenging, it makes you cry, even though it’s just addition.

…you don’t realize you’re yelling at your kids until everybody else in the supermarket aisle starts to stare.

…you push on, because you’re a parent and that’s what parents do.

COFFEE SCRIBBLES

HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN ST. PATRICK'S DAY TO A KID?

KID: Why’s Dad throwing up in the bathroom?
MOM: Um… he’s not feeling well.
KID: Is it because of St. Patrick’s Day?
MOM: What do you mean?
KID: Well, when I walked into the kitchen last night, I saw him putting green food coloring in his beer and when I asked him what he was doing he said he was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
MOM: Um… uh… that’s right – sometimes adults drink green beer to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
KID: And wear green clothes.
MOM: Yes, and they wear green clothes. When I was a little girl, we used to drink green milk, too.
KID: Yuck. You’re kidding right?
MOM: No. Why?
KID: Duh – because obviously green food coloring makes you sick. Why else would Dad be throwing up?

WHAT DOES DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ACTUALLY SAVE?

GET UP! GET UP! WE OVERSLEPT!

For most families, Daylight Saving Time turns what’s typically a frantic, time-crunched mess of morning activity into a domestic version of roller derby, with everyone throwing elbows and accusations as they scramble to get dressed and get out the door:

RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: You said you were gonna change the clock.
IDIOT: I did.
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: Then why does it still say 7:40 when it’s really 8:40?
IDIOT: I guess I forgot.
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: Right — you forgot, so I’m late.
IDIOT: You could have changed it, too.
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: I changed all the other clocks!
IDIOT: That’s my point: why didn’t you remind me to change this one while you were changing all the others?
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: I did!
IDIOT: Well… I guess I didn’t hear you.

According to wikipedia, Daylight Saving Time, which was standardized across most of the United States in 1967, was primarily intended to reduce energy consumption — the “extra” hour of daylight in the afternoon was supposed to mean fewer lights would have to be on at offices, retailers, restaurants etc.

But when you consider how most people react when the Daylight Saving Time-bomb goes off, it’s more likely that any energy savings will be more than off-set by the increased consumption caused by all the stupid things people do when their sleeping patterns get disrupted.

What’s the net-effect of having to make two extra trips to the grocery store — the first because you accidentally left your list at home, and the second because you accidentally left your kid there?

Or what about having to replace a freezer full of food because just after you opened the door to sneak some ice cream for breakfast, you realized the soccer game you thought was next weekend, wasn’t, but that if you left RIGHT NOW! you might still make it?

Or what about having to run an electric air pump off and on all night because otherwise the slightly-leaky inflatable mattress in the den you’ve been banished to because you said one-too-many mean things to your spouse will deflate?

IDIOT: If you reminded me to change the clock, then why didn’t I change it?
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: Because you’re an idiot!
IDIOT: Me? If anyone’s an idiot, you are — and not just because of the clock.
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: Oh, really?
IDIOT: Yes, really. Do you have any idea how many stupid things you do around here on a daily basis?
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: No, but why don’t you tell me.

Net energy savings: probably zero

And what happens when you factor in the cost of dealing with all that stress, ill-will and negativity? Therapists — whether for marriage or anger-management — don’t make house calls (and if they do, they don’t make them on bikes).

There are bars for sulking/hiding/venting, of course, but they generally don’t have windows, meaning light (but not illumination) comes only from energy-sucking neon signs.

The gym? Maybe in the old days when free weights and stationary bikes were the norm, but now it seems like every piece of exercise equipment has to be plugged in or it won’t work.

Net energy savings: definitely zero

All of which raises the question: if Daylight Saving Time doesn’t actually save anything, what’s the point?

Perhaps the one good thing about Daylight Saving Time is that between all the extra caffeine it takes to get through the day and the fact that no matter how late the clock says it is, it’s impossible to sleep, everyone affected by it can spend half the night staring at the ceiling trying to figure that out.

FAT CHANCE

WIFE: Where you going?
HUSBAND: I thought I’d run out and get some Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
WIFE: What about our post-holiday diet?
HUSBAND: We finished it.
WIFE: Yeah — yesterday.
HUSBAND: Which means today I can finally eat what I want to.

SCENES FROM MARRIAGE, NO. 7

WIFE: Never mind.
HUSBAND: What?
WIFE: Forget it. It’s not important.
HUSBAND: What’s not important?
WIFE: Nothing.
HUSBAND: Now you’re confusing me: how can I forget about the “nothing” that’s not important if I don’t know what it is?
WIFE: I don’t want to talk about it.
HUSBAND: Then why did you bring it up?
WIFE: Because right after I did I saw our entire argument play out in my head.
HUSBAND: And?
WIFE: You won.
HUSBAND: YES!
WIFE: And then you reacted the same way you’re reacting now: like you couldn’t care less what the argument was all about as long as you won.

THINGS NOT WORTH SWEARING AT

  • Rain.
  • Zippers.
  • Things that won’t fit in suitcases.
  • Politicians
  • Scotch tape.
  • The person in front of you at Starbucks who can’t decide between a mocha frappuccino and a cinnamon dolce latte.
  • A computer – because even though it seems like it knows when you’re having a bad day and chooses that exact moment to crash, it’s just a glorified toaster. (Why doesn’t somebody develop some kind of curse-recognition software to replace online help? – i.e. the way you say “Damn it!” determines what kind of help you get.)
  • Traffic.
  • Stop lights.
  • Delivery vehicles that double-park.
  • Tire jacks.
  • Bus drivers – aside from the fact that they’re encased in a sound-proof – and seemingly sight-proof – cocoon, they don’t care.
  • Maps.
  • Speed bumps.
  • Street signs.
  • Stairs (both the invisible one at the top of the landing and the non-existent one at the bottom).
  • Pants that won’t button.
  • Toys that get left in the driveway.
  • Rakes.
  • Pets (especially hamsters, who are too stupid to understand, dogs, who get their feelings hurt and cats, who get revenge).
  • TV remotes.
  • Automated telephone helplines – the only thing that happens is you get stuck in a loop where you say “Screw you!” and the computer says “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Could you repeat that please?” and no matter how angry you are you can’t outlast the computer, so you’re the only one who suffers.
  • God (even if you sometimes feel justified).
  • People on TV.
  • Coaches, refs and players on Monday Night Football.
  • Little League Umpires.
  • The cable guy.
  • Anyone who messes up your order at the drive-thru.
  • Anyone in customer service.
  • Anyone with a name tag that says “Asst. Manager.”
  • Tour guides.
  • A fetus that won’t stop kicking in the middle of the night.
  • A spouse that won’t stop kicking in the middle of the night.
  • The Post Office.
  • The DMV.
  • Pre-schoolers – because if they don’t cry, they gasp and say “You said a bad word!” and then repeat it the next day at school.
  • Teachers – imagine having to tell your kid he or she has to repeat 3rd grade because the parent-teacher conference you had last week got really, really ugly?
  • The other cable guy who comes to fix the problem the first cable guy couldn’t fix
  • Anything you stub your toe on.
  • Congress – because unless you’re making a major campaign contribution or have a radio show that reaches 20 million people they can’t hear you.
  • Your boss.
  • Your spouse’s boss – because if you yell at your boss and get fired, you have only yourself to blame, but if you yell at your spouse’s boss and he or she gets fired, you not only have yourself to blame but your spouse has you to blame, too, and if you think it took a long time to be forgiven for, say, denting the car, imagine how long you’ll suffer for this!
  • Your parents.
  • Your irons, putter and sand wedge. (But not, oddly enough, your woods because swearing at them does actually seem to help.)
  • Bills.
  • Yourself.
  • Fate/providence/karma.
  • Life.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good when you do.

LIVER VS. BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Why do we make kids eat stuff they don’t like?

On some level, it’s got to be an unconscious continuation of the cycle of abuse our own parents inflicted on us with their liver and onions, their Spam® meatloaf, their homemade creamed turnips – all the horrible foods we tried to shove in our pockets or slip under the table to the dog.

And yet knowing this doesn’t help — if you’re like me, you’ve actually uttered the phrase “If I had to finish my plate when I was a kid, so do you!” to your own kids without even realizing you were saying it.

But what if forced feeding isn’t really a bad thing?

Looked at from a historical perspective, isn’t it really just a way of paying homage to our family traditions and the ancestors who worked so hard to establish them? What better way to say “I remember my roots” than by, for example, making everyone at the table choke down a bowl of viscous, foul-smelling oyster stew every now and then?

Or by whipping out a few dollops of artery-clogging Crisco and turning the toughest cut of beef you can find into “great-grandma’s” chicken-fried steak?

There’s a practical reason for subjecting kids to food they don’t like, too, and that’s because it gives them first-hand experience with the human race’s most important survival skill, the one that enabled us to make it through the earliest days of our evolution: the ability to eat anything, no matter how unappetizing.

HUNTER-GATHERER #1: I’m hungry.
HUNTER-GATHERER #2: Me, too.
HUNTER-GATHERER #1: Maybe we should eat that gloopy, foul-smelling thing over there?
HUNTER-GATHERER #2: That?!?!?! We don’t even know what that is.
HUNTER-GATHERER #1: Yeah, but I’m hungry.
HUNTER-GATHERER #2: Me, too.
HUNTER-GATHERER #1: So what do we do?
HUNTER-GATHERER #2: I know, let’s get Hunter-gatherer Mikey to try it — Hey Mikey!

Besides when you compare what we give our kids to what our parents gave us, boy, are they getting off easy. “Tuna Surprise” anyone? At least the stuff we make our kids choke down is healthy, organic, minimally processed and preservative-free.

You know, good.

On the other hand, maybe our parents felt the same way about the stuff they served us? Maybe they were thrilled to be able to provide us with tin-canned vegetables, shelf-stable cheese and frozen TV dinners instead of what they had to force down when they were kids?

All of which means one thing: the cycle will surely continue, virtually guaranteeing that when our kids have kids who complain about what they’re being forced to eat, our kids will tell their kids they’re lucky because as bad as whatever it is mid-21st Century parents will serve, it’s nothing compared to tasteless, organic, whole-kernel flax waffles, tofu and vegetable stir fry, free-range, hormone-nitrate-antibiotic-free uncured turkey bacon*  and everything else Grandma and Grandpa made them eat.

Besides, they’ll say, “If I had to finish my plate when I was a kid, so do you!”

*Which will probably have been proven to be terrible by then.

FAMILY DINNER: THEN VS. NOW

  • Dinner was at the same time every night.
  • Nobody called (or texted).
  • If you were late, Mom would just stand on the back porch and call out your name.
  • If you were really, really late, Dad would stand on the back porch and call out your name, and then you were really in trouble.
  • Mom cooked.
  • And if she got home late from the the beauty parlor, post office or grocery store, she could always make a 20-minute casserole out of rice, leftover chicken and whatever can of Campbell’s Soup happened to be in the cupboard.
  • A well-equiped kitchen had a sink, an oven, a fridge, a KitchenAid mixer and sometimes a croc pot, but no dishwasher, pot-filler, microwave, Cuisinart, automatic espresso maker, bread maker, bagel toaster, juicer, George Foreman Grill, rice cooker, TV, second fridge, second dishwasher or computer.
  • The kitchen was only for cooking, too, not entertaining (unless you were a grandmother, second cousin, aunt or female relative helping cook a holiday meal).
  • The Four Food Groups were an important government-sponsored guide that encouraged people to eat meat & poultry, grains, fruits & vegetables and dairy products not because they were healthy or nutritious but because they were important American (or American-controlled) businesses.
  • If you said grace, it was something short, that rhymed, and even though you said it fast you had to be careful not to say it too fast because then your parents would say it “didn’t count” and make you do it over.
  • Kids drank milk then for the same reasons adults drink it now: it’s good for bones.
  • Margarine was superior to butter because margarine had less fat (as opposed to today where butter is superior to margarine because it has less trans-fat).
  • Kids had to eat everything on their plate before they could be done, even if that meant they had to sit at the table until their vegetables got cold and their fried chicken turned soggy.
  • It didn’t matter if kids weren’t hungry.
  • It didn’t matter if kids didn’t like something, either, especially liver and onions.
  • Tang, Minute-Rice and Cheez Whiz were preferable to orange juice, “old-fashioned” rice and real cheese because they were fast, easy and they never, ever spoiled.
  • Take-out pizza was a treat.
  • Organic food wasn’t “organic,” it was just “fresh.”
  • Nobody cared about BPA, which meant plastic cups were better than glass cups because they didn’t shatter when somebody knocked them on the ground.
  • Kids had to ask to be excused from the table.
  • Parents sometimes said “No.”

STAYING NEUTRAL

It seems like there are two kinds of divorces: the ones where the split is amicable, or at least free from a restraining order, and the ones you get caught in the middle of – where the pain, hatred, contempt, frustration, mistrust and loathing go on long after the marriage ends.

Staying neutral can be a challenge for even the most savvy and diplomatic, but usually – eventually – you’re sucked in:

BITTER EX-HUSBAND: Can you believe my ex-wife! She’s such a selfish, spoiled, careless, mean, stupid, cow. Don’t you think?
YOU: Uh… I couldn’t say.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: Trust me, she is. I’m sure you’ve seen her act that way. You can admit it, she’s a heartless, bossy, mean-spirited, nitpicking, ego-centric, man-hating shrew.
YOU: I.. uh… I guess I haven’t really seen that side of her, but.. uh… I’m sure you know here better than I do.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: ‘course I know her: I was married to her. And trust me: she’s a first class bitc-
YOU: Hey! Will you look at the time? I really have to go.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: What’s your problem? You’re on her side, aren’t you?
YOU: I’m not on anyone’s side.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: My God, she’s turned you against me, too.
YOU: I barely even know her.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: Yeah, right – you think she’s a saint and I’m an abusive, controlling, foul-mouthed jerk.
YOU: Uh…
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: That’s the exactly the same thing she’s done to our friends, that clueless therapist she dragged us to go see, her lawyer, the neighbors, even my kids. Well you know what? Screw you.

As ugly as these conversations can be, at least they don’t require you to anything more than walk away. What can be worse is when you’re pressed into service:

BITTER EX-WIFE: Say, I’ve been meaning to ask you: you see my ex-husband when he picks up the kids, right?
YOU: Yeah, at the playground after school.
BITTER EX-WIFE:: Interesting.
YOU: Uh-oh.
BITTER EX-WIFE:: I say “interesting” because I’m hearing some things that are just a little troubling.
YOU: I’m sorry to hear that.
BITTER EX-WIFE: Not troubling because I still secretly want him back, or blame him for ruining my life and am looking for ways to exact revenge, but because I’m concerned the children might be exposed to something inappropriate.
YOU: Uh…
BITTER EX-WIFE: Have you ever seen him with a girl that’s much too young for him?
YOU: I can’t say.
BITTER EX-WIFE: If you did, would you let me know?
YOU: I don’t think it would be right for me to spy on your ex-husband.
BITTER EX-WIFE: Oh, heaven’s no – I’m not asking you to spy: just keep on eye on him and his whore for me. And if you can get video or a picture, that would be even better.

Fortunately, there is one benefit to being caught in the middle of this kind of animosity: it reminds you to treat your own spouse with a little more kindness and compassion, if for no other reason the last thing you want is to put your friends, neighbors or even acquaintances in the position of being the “you” in any of the exchanges above.