There Are A Lot Of Little Tricks He Knows

There are a lot of great things about expecting a child.  The joy of teaching them how cool grunge once was.  Showing them the greatness of nachos and the proper way to eat them while getting tons of cheese on your shirt.  Having someone to blame when you break something, it's easy to forgive your own children. 

But the best part of expecting a new kid is going through the mounds and mounds of medical bills.  That's the part I love.  I also love getting beaten with a spiked club and I can't wait for my first prostate exam.  That sounded way better in my head.  Now that I read it, let me assure you that I'm not into S&M at all which is a real shame.  Because if I was, nothing says torture me Madam like going through insurance paperwork. 

The new kiddo, tentatively named Bacon, is due in a little under two weeks.  Everything of course up to this point has been checkups, ultrasounds and random pokings of my wife.  Each of these very concerned professionals must get paid and to get said payment most medical professionals and hospitals find it much better to send you thousands of letters from different departments explaining that you owe someone, somewhere money.  I would gladly pay if I could just figure out who. 

These bills now have to be reconciled with our insurance coverage which brings even more fun to the pot.  I get to try and figure out if the bill was submitted, what was paid, and how much we owe.  It's like trying to find your way out of a corn maze in the dark while being chased by zombies who don't know how much the copay is to eat your brains. 

On a side note though, these bills from these many professionals gives a pretty good record of other people that have seen my wife's hooch.  Remind me to bring them to divorce court. 

This shouldn't be this hard but yet, it is.  Johnson Radiology needs to get paid.  Great.  However, it doesn't appear that they have applied our insurance yet.  It also appears that the doctor who ordered the test, Dr. Xray, is not my wife's doctor.  We find this odd.  At this point I think that Johnson Radiology is Buck Johnson, the homeless guy that I've seen at the hospital.  Let's call this a charity tax because other than that, I'm pretty sure I don't know what the hell this is. 

Which is not unusual because I don't know what most of the bills mean.  Ultrasound, ok, I know what that is.  However what I don't know is why three months ago it cost more than the one we had last week.  Is this like an airline thing?  If it is closer to the take off date, the prices go up?  What if we get there for delivery and the OR is overbooked?  Will we get bumped?  I bet that is what happened to Jesus. 

CM pokenhooch is another itemized test that is on our hospital bill.  I would like to know what that is.  Of course, the little asterisk next to it tells me to refer to section A of the appendix.  I assume they just mean a medical book somewhere because I have no appendix.  I do like that we are getting some bills from the hospital already though, it shows they are proactive.  Really I'm just getting into shape for when the big bills come, from 30 different departments within the hospital. 

Making sense of the medical bills and the related insurance appendices is like speaking Latin.  It sounds great when you say it out loud it's just that no one understands what the hell you are saying. 

I would like a menu of services please with the prices listed right next to them.  And I would like those prices to stay the same from month to month.  I would like it to be presented to me like a nice wine list at a fancy restaurant.  Yes, I'll have the 2013 C-section please and can we have a basket of bread? 

With our OB, and I'm not making this up, at least they were up front about it.  When having the financial talk with them we of course asked what we would be charged.  Let's say they told us 4 grand.  Ok, I can live with that, sounds reasonable.  Why 4 grand?  Because that is what we paid last time.  In Texas.  5 years ago.  I should be happy that inflation has maintained so well over that time period. 

As I gather all these bills around me and begin to organize them, in much the same way as you organize butterflies on a bush, it dawns on me that I know exactly how I'm being charged and why.  It's simple once you see the trick, the hook. 

See, they are reasonable charges plus some little extra on the side.
Charge them for the lice, extra for the mice, two percent for looking in the mirror twice.
Here a little slice, there a little cut, three percent for sleeping with the window shut.

When it comes to fixing prices, there are lots of tricks to know.  How it all increases, all them bits and pieces Jesus!  It's amazing how it grows. 

Boom, I just dropped some Les Mis culture on you. 


Dinner Games

On the rare occasion, I am a genius.  It's not something easy to admit to yourself when you live such a humble life.  Excuse me while I kiss my biceps, they are huge.  My forearms are like firehoses.

In my life though I have learned that when inspiration happens, especially when it's unexpected and requiring no effort on your part, you must seize it like a hooker seizes a crack pipe, with both hands and a stutter in your speech. To let such inspiration pass you by is not only morally wrong, it is a sin against the almighty Spaghetti Monster.

As a parent I find that one of my most stressful parts of the day is dinner time.  What should be nice quiet engaging conversations with loved ones has, over the last 7 years, turned into a Thunderdome of thrown food, dodged forks, floods of spilt milk and the tears to go with it.  And early on in your parental career you realize that teaching table manners is not really a month long process but one that evolves over the entire life of your children.  Eventually you may just get to a point though where you just want to eat your hamburger in peace and you could give two shits if the dog just licked it.  Yes, table manners also concerns pets as well. 

However, there does come a time where food is no longer being thrown, forks are not clanging on the floor as much and the milk remains untouched.  This is not because the little people have learned any real table manners it's just that they are at the age where they hate everything that you cook for them.  The game of dodgeball meatball eventually morphs into that's gross I don't want to eat that meatball.

This of course causes me to say in my Dad voice "eat your dinner or bunnies will die."  It's harsh but sometimes I find that through fear you can get cooperation, so sayeth Stalin.  But this does begin to wear on your soul a bit.  You don't like the inevitable fight that will come, you don't like the exasperated sighs that your 9 month pregnant wife will give you, you don't want to see the dogs eating better than you.

Tonight was going to be such a night.  Chicken and pasta, completely bland so as not to offend any one at the table that didn't take anytime to cook it.  I love most when I get upturned noses, looking at you Hossmom, when you spend a good hour and a half doing something like this.

But something changed in me, the light shown in my eyes and through years of exasperated sighs, came an idea.  An inspiration from God himself, given to this poor lost soul wandering through the wilderness that is family dinner night.

We introduced a new game.  It's called "Eat Your God Damned Dinner."  Of course, this is only a working tittle, I haven't decided what it's going to be called once it's published.  Probably something like "Daddy Is Buying a New Miter Saw."  I like that one.

It's a simple game and has simple rules, rules that I just made up on the spot as I sat down to eat my bland chicken and pasta.

It's starts with the pasta.  Each piece you eat is worth 1 point.  One glorious point.  If being an American means anything, it's that we always want points.  We crave points.  And not only do we desire the points with ever fiber of our being, we don't want anyone else to have points.  We want all the points.  No points for you.  All points from me.  Then it's quiz time.

We started simple:  What rhymes with Hat?  To answer, pick your point, eat it and if you give a correct answer (or not, it doesn't really matter once the pasta is devoured) you keep your point.  We go around the table.  Think of it as Jeopardy where food represents the points and the nice quiet conversation represents my mind.

Of course, every game needs a  daily double.  If you find that you are lagging in points, which Dad makes sure to tell everyone, you can eat a piece of chicken and then answer.  The chicken is worth 2 points, 2 glorious points which is more points than that other slob got that you want to beat.

Basically I have just turned eating dinner into a competition.  Genius.

Soon, the minions stopped caring about what the food looked liked or tasted like, they cared how much it was worth.  Do you know the possibilities this could open up??  Carrots, 3 points.  Brocilli, 3 points, lima beans, 10 points because they are so fucking disgusting.  Steak, 0 points because I don't want anyone eating my steaks.  Steaks are for Dads, not kids.

Now what is the reward, what is the prize?  Well, for starters, two kids that just woofed down a well balanced meal but we don't mention that.  Here is the best part, there is no prize!  Oh, I may make some sort of trophy in the garage out of electrical tape and a screw, but who cares.  The points are what mattes and every American is born wanting them, it's in our genes.  No one has to tell us that we want points, we just do.  When you are born, secretly in your baby's brain you are giving yourself points for the dismount while coming out of Mom and judging the bitch Russian nurse who gave you the low marks.

Now I understand that I have to keep this game interesting, that soon they will get bored with rhyming games and that's fine.   We'll just change it up a bit.  Instead of rhyming we will all try to think of names for the new baby.  The winner gets to name the new kid.  Sure, my kids want to name the new kid Bacon and if they eat squash, I just may let them do it.  After names, we'll start spelling ( sometimes Dad has to lose to), or we will say riddles.  Truth is, I don't care.  It doesn't matter, only the points do.

And eventually, when they move out of my house and get married.  They will be sitting down for a nice dinner somewhere with friends, cool post college kids with weird haircuts and even more weird ideas about the world.  They'll take a minute, trying to figure out what rhymes with "cereal" while they subconsciously award themselves 5 points for putting cooked spinach in their mouth.

And me?  Well, I'll be eating bacon and snack cakes at my very quiet and enjoyable dinner table. 


Please, Just One Game?

With an "umph" she sits down on the footstool in front of my chair.  Technically, it's called a leather chestnut ottoman of the Higgins collection, hand stitched.  All of the family has different names for it.  That's my wife's name for it.  My son's name for it is "the brown thingy that I launch myself onto your crotch".  My daughters name for it is "Where I want to play Barbies all the time." 

My name for it is "Why don't I move this thing?"

Regardless of it's name, it gets alot of play in our house and today it is supporting the aching back of my 9 month pregnant wife and my two minions who happen to be playing a "story" on it.  Imagination is a wonderful thing, especially when it takes place next to a grumpy pregnant wife and infront of a father who really just wants to watch the NFC Championship game. 

Hossmom looks at me and there is a frown on her face.  I am hoping this frown is because she has just realized that she is sitting in front of my game.  For some insane reason, I am trying to watch this live rather than to just want until they all go to bed.  Even the best of us make mistakes from time to time.

Sadly, the look on her face is not because she has realized her mistake of T.V. blocking.  This, in fact, has never crossed her mind in the 20 years that I have known her.  I've learned to accept it at this point, it's like a boulder, it's there and you just have to make due.

Now is when I realize that I have compared my very pregnant wife to a boulder and that I will probably be hit in the face tomorrow.  

I'm waiting for the conversation that comes from this look.  This usually means that we need to talk for about an hour and get to the point where I totally lose the thread of what we were talking about.  Eventually I will just nod my head and hope that I'm doing it at the right times.

But the conversation doesn't come this time.  A more astute husband may have noticed this before 5 minutes have passed.  However, I am now covering my balls from my leaping son.  You've always have to be on the look out for that guy.

Eventually I do ask my wife what is going on.  She says that she is tired.  Tired, that I can deal with.  I can do tired all day.  I've got tired wrapped up in my stock answer pile.  In fact, me and tired go way back, way way back. Tired I can handle and if I handle it quickly, perhaps I can go back to watching my game.  Although that hope starts to fade once my son decides that my bald head is the perfect place to play hot wheels.   I can't blame him though, it is a pretty magnificent melon.

So let's deal with tired.  I tell her to go take a nap.  I apologize for knocking her up.  I suggest that she go get a pedicure while getting a hymn sung to her.  Whatever it takes because it appears that someone is making a drive and they are on the 20 yard line.   The quicker she takes one of my suggestions the sooner I can get back to my game, a game that I really want to watch.  Sadly, old Hossman has had to give up some football watching time to get ready for a new baby and to parent two already delivered kids, one of which is making vroom vroom noises near my ear.

I try to lean my head to see past my wife, but it isn't working.  Because now my son thinks it's time to do headbuts.  Hey, I love a good headbut and I feel that it is a good way to bond with my son.  However just not at this particular time.

I try to pause the game, thank god for Tivo.  This is what I would normally do.  Then I would wait until 10 o'clock and everyone is asleep.  I would then get two uninterupted hours of good football watching time without noise or the Indy 500 being run behind my ears.

The pause button won't currently work and that is a shame because I"m pretty sure someone just ran in a touchdown.  My daugther is playing with her new photo fashion Barbie.  She likes playing on the entertainment center because the TV provides a good runway backdrop to her twirls.  And as luck would have it, photo fashion Barbie and my daughter do their best work right infront of my DVR reciever.  I think the extra point is good but I can't be totally sure.  Did I tell you that Photo Fashion Barbie and my daughter like to sing?  No particular song, just what they are doing at that moment.  The lyrics of their latest single "What I'm doing right now" are quiet good.  It's followed up with the chorus of "Let's go potty."

Hossmom hasn't taken the hint of my craning neck to move just yet either.  She hasn't noticed it and why should she?  Her mind has been preoccupied with the scenario of "What if my water breaks at work".  It's a legit concern.  I've seen water breaking, it's not a pretty sight.  And for those that say childbirth is beautiful, I would like to kindly disagree by asking what the fuck is wrong with you?  There is just something about seeing your wife's placenta being handled like a soccer ball that is not very appealing.  The beauty part is just that little inspection of placenta tissue is going to cost me a good 2 grand in doctors fees.  We'll call it "consultation of amniotic whatchamajig." 

It appears that the sports casters are saying what a good game it was, the keyword here being "was".  The game is over and it also appears that the car race on my head is over.  The finish was close but I believe the miraculous jump over my nose won it for the blue car. 

Soon after, Little Hoss let's me know that my new football game is starting, the AFC Championship.  Am I going to watch this one?

Nope.  I'll watch it at 10.  Besides, I do believe that Photo Fashion Barbie needs a limo and I happen to know a very reliable blue car that could fit her needs, driver included.  We'll get to it right after I put their mother down for a nap.