4/20/17

The Toddler Proofing Company

I have decided to launch a new company.  Hossman’s Toddler Proofing.  It’s going to make me a million dollars and when I get all that sweet money I will make sure that I forget all you lowly peasants.  But first, buy my products.

The first product in my genius plan will be the Crazy Shake Timer.  It will look exactly like an egg timer, an old fashioned one.  That means it’s vintage and bitches go crazy for vintage.  You set it for 5-minute increments right when you need to clean or do something important like eating all the crumbs in the chip bag before you throw it out.  You paid good money for those chips, get everything out of it that you can.  When the timer goes off, you stand up and do the crazy shakes.  I’m assuming that every parent that stops by to read this knows exactly what crazy shakes are.

But for those that don’t, the crazy shakes are from the cartoon Team Umizoomi.  Bot, the robot, of course, will say at the end of every episode that it’s time for crazy shakes.  My 4-year-old demands that we do it and when a 4-year-old demands that you shake him, god damnit you do it.  Not a baby though, don’t shake the babies.  I find that my productivity drops way off when my toddler is around.  So the crazy shake timer is really just finding a way to automate the constant interruptions.  After the crazy shakes set the timer again and then go find that bag of chocolate chip cookies because I bet there is a least one more in there you fat bastard.

Our next product is revolutionary and will probably get a lot of hot supermodels wanting to endorse it.  It’s called the Bathroom Muffler.  It’s basically just a shit ton of styrofoam, thick stuff that can be duck taped to the bathroom door. Once installed by one of our supermodel installation ladies, it will successfully block all sounds from outside the bathroom door-- like a screaming toddler.  It will also cancel out any loud banging coming from outside the door.  So when the 4-year-old is screaming “Dad!  Daaaadddd!  What are you doing?” you don’t have to reply “I’m taking a dump, what do you think I’m doing!”

Now, you may be thinking why not just use sound proof egg crate foam?  Listen, Mr. Moneybags, we are trying to make these things affordable for the American family.  We cannot afford official high-end shit, kids suck up money like Bill Oreilly soaks up harassment lawsuits. (hahahahahaha, that made me laugh.) Our styrofoam can be found for almost next to nothing if you go down to the docks on the lake after the 4th of July weekend.  Just pick up all the old cheap coolers that I guarantee will litter the shore.  The beer smell will remind you of college.  Bring your toddler and the crazy shake timer.

The Parent Control Volume Remote will be our next big seller, after the success of the Bathroom Muffler.  This specially programmed remote will have only 3 settings.  Setting 1 will be called “Nap Time” and immediately mute the T.V. and it cannot be canceled for at least 2 hours.  This prevents the fat god damn dog from accidently stepping on the remote and jacking the volume up to 50 and ruining nap time for everyone. Seriously, screw you dog.  You owe me.  Setting 2 on the remote is labeled “Sexy Porn Time.”  It sets the volume of the T.V. to a very low whisper, only audible over heavy breathing.  Use only around 3 am when the whole house is asleep and you really don’t want to wake anyone up but need just a little bit of sound to achieve lift off.  Finally, setting 3 on the remote will be called “When the older kids have friends over.”  This setting will automatically turn every speaker in your house to the loudest volume.  You will still be confused as for why you can’t hear anything other than preteens tearing your house apart but at least you are making an effort.

The last product in our revolutionary new Toddler Proofing company will be called the “Picky Eater Food Dispenser” and is the flagship of our product line.  This white box contraption easily fits on your dining room table.  It will have huge compartment space for all the lunches and dinners that your toddler has decided not to eat.  After they take one bite of their peanut butter and jelly sandwich the machine will automatically open and take the sandwich away, storing it for later because your toddler will declare he’s “done.”  Every 5 minutes, when your toddler tells you he’s hungry, even though you just had lunch, the white box will open and again deposit the sandwich on the table.  Your toddler will scream, take one bite and again declare he is done.  The cycle will continue for 45 minutes until finally it just spits out a cup full of cheerios on the floor and flings the sandwich towards the wall.  This action allows you to add to your collection of food stains on the wall without the hassle of your toddler doing it.  There is also a handy paper shredder built right in so you can just open up your wallet and destroy your money rather than wasting trips to the grocery store.

I believe in these products and have no doubt that they will revolutionize the way we take care of our families.  Why go through the bother and the fights that you know you are coming anyway?  My super awesome, super handy Toddler Proofing program will….

Wait, the crazy shake timer just went off.  Back in a bit.

4/18/17

Another Piece of Reddit Fiction

This little story did pretty well too on Reddit.  It story made me laugh.

The Writing Prompt was:  "Here is your sword, that purges all evil.  Here is your shield, to protect all you hold dear.  And here is an infinite mug of coffee, arguably the most dangerous of the three."


“Oh, I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go,” said Chet the Magnificent. The dragon stopped in mid roar, about to blast this twig of a man, because Chet was now running around in circles. This made no sense to the dragon who had eaten plenty of newcomers before. “Have some decency man,” the dragon thought. Chet couldn’t hear him, of course, and if he could it wouldn’t matter because all Chet was thinking at this moment was to find the nearest bush.
Chet was the chosen one, destroyer of evil and conqueror of the minions of hell. With his sword he sworded with his shield he shielded. Monsters wrote dirty limericks with his name on bathroom stalls and put his real address in Craigslist personal ads. They cursed the very air he breathed and as each of them fell Chet’s fame grew.
With boundless energy, Chet never failed to meet a demon head-on. This enterprising hero never seemed to grow tired and the dark rings under his eyes only worked to entice the ladies even more. Most times he almost seemed nervous, electric like, a combination of a boxer puppy crossed with methed out cat. But his quirks only served to remind his foes that he was unpredictable, like the mage who had given him his weapons had predicted.
Ollie the Wise and Opulent first gave Chet the sword and said: “Go forth and sword things. It’s good for you.” Then Ollie gave Chet the shield and said: “This thing is heavy, I don’t want it anymore.” And finally, Ollie gave Chet the last of the hero’s treasures and said: “Take this bottomless coffee mug from 7/11 and find the will to destroy all. Also, to much coffee may make you poop, so watch your intake and check your blood pressure from time to time.”
Today Chet had too much of the bottomless coffee and it did what coffee does: jack you up and make you miss your first-morning meeting because you’ve got to run to the bathroom. Normally, Chet would have taken care of business earlier, perhaps on the secret bathroom stall of the 4th floor. But the dragon roared from his cave and Chet momentarily forgot about Ollie the Wise’s advice.
Chet the Magnificent raced to the cave and stood to face the beast. The dragon roared, Chet roared, and then Chet’s stomach rumbled. A loud gurgling base came from Chet’s midsection and then a small squeak came from his backside. The dragon, not sure what kind of game weirdo Chet was playing, decided to roar louder. Chet stood straighter, his face turning red from embarrassment and not from the heat coming off the dragon, raised his sword.
He had gotten the sword up about halfway when the lower half of this manchild’s body decided nope, it was time to poop instead.
And so we find our hero desperately running around in his plate mail armor, looking for perhaps a large rock while the confused dragon looks on.
Sadly, Chet could hold it no more and a torrent of filth came rushing out of his nether regions like a mudslide over the Niagra. Clump, squoosh, clump, squoosh, squirt--the sounds of a man losing all his dignity and finding it slowly piling up in his boots.
The dragon stepped back immediately like he had been slapped. Understanding came to the dragon as the smell of Chet’s shame came to his nostrils. “Holy crap,” the dragon thought. “This guy pooped his Cussies, (the correct term for leg armor, go ahead, look it up. Don’t look it up)”
Chet though was named the Magnificent for a reason and knew there was only one thing to do in this dire situation. He quickly threw his sword to the floor and turned to face the dragon. The dragon let out a minor roar, not sure what was happening or what weird fetish this guy had. Chet let mother nature take it’s course, all the while making direct eye contact with the dragon. The dragon tried to avert his gaze but Chet held him by sheer force of will. “Look at me! Look at me! I can’t finish unless you look at me!” Chet let loose with a torrent that sounded like an oboe being played by a 4th grader.
The dragon, overwhelmed by the situation finally broke eye contact and jerked his head hard to the right. His skull smashed into the cave wall, sending a spiderweb of cracks up through the ceiling. The cave came crashing down on the dragon ending his reign forever. Chet was spared as at least today he had found some luck.
Squishingly, Chet bent over and retrieved his sword and his shield that lay at his feet, wiping the little brown specks from them as he secured them back onto his armor. He turned gingerly and walked out of the cave. Chet the Magnificent, destroyer of destroyers, scourge of evil and drinker of bottomless coffee. Oh, Chet, may your name and your legend live on. And may you always carry some handy tissues and reading material in your saddlebags.

_______

For those wanting to read the comments on the original story on Reddit,
click here and enjoy!

4/12/17

Whose Is Bigger

You don't have to pull your pants all the way down to your ankles in order to take a leak.  Well, if you're a female you probably do.  But men don't unless we have a peeing distance contest going on and in that case, you do whatever you need to do God Damnit.

I was trying to explain this to my youngest, Bacon, while in the bathroom of Culver's.  Culver's is an ice cream and burger joint.  Tonight we were there because of a school function.  Something about raising money for the school or to show community spirit.  I don't know, it starts to get all wrapped together like a burrito towards the end of the school year.  I spend 50% of my day running around in my van going to one kid thing or another.  It's to the point where I'm happy if I just show up with the right kid.

Bacon had to pee so into the bathroom we went.  Pretty normal but he is 4 now and it's time that we got some man lessons in him.  "Son," I said.  "This is the urinal.  You are going to use this now."  Later I will show him how to shoot guns at stuff.  That's going to be tough as I don't know really how to shoot guns at stuff.  But I do know how to pee at urinals.  One small baby pee step at a time, we can get to the guns later.

He starts to drop the pants when I stop him.  "No, son.  Do it like Daddy."  I unbutton my pants and step up the urinal.  "See, we don't pull our pants all the way down.  That keeps our butt warm.  Pretty cool right?"  I start to pee hoping to show him how this is supposed to work.

Bacon screams "You have a big penis!"  Then he starts laughing and pointing.

Kids make things weird and awkward all the time.  It's part of their job description.  I'm pretty sure somewhere they have a toddler union and that they have to reach a weirdness quota.  I appreciate the compliment but now that he is pointing and laughing I'm not sure it was a genuine compliment.  Like Mighty Mouse being a small mouse.  

"No, son.  We are not talking about penis right now.  We are learning to pee in the urinal.  Now open your pants and pull your penis out."

"Daddy, I have a small penis!" he yells.

That's when I hear the guy in the stall start laughing.  Nothing is better than getting in a dick size competition in front of an audience.

"Dude, just go pee," I tell him.  I have decided that urinal lessons can wait.  He pulls his pants all the way down to the floor, gleeful in his exposed butt and his exposed junk.   Next time I teach him we are going to make sure that the little guy and I are alone in the bathroom.

Wait, that doesn't sound very good either.  Fuck it, we are going back to diapers.

4/10/17

A Reddit Story

For a writing warm-up, occasionally I go to Reddit.  There is a subreddit there called Writing Prompts.  I pick one and just go with it.  I give it very little thought and just roll, letting the story just develop.  I find that it helps my mind get to the right place to work on other projects, namely The Book, that ever present project that sits in the back of my head.

One night, around midnight, I decided to pop out a story.  I hadn't written that day so I wanted to get one out.  I found a prompt and just let go.  It's a stupid story, one that doesn't make any sense.  But it made me laugh so I posted it.

Somehow, and I have no idea how, it became my most popular story.  Throughout the next day, I was hit with so many comments that I couldn't keep up.  I've decided to post that story here.  Maybe you guys can figure out what made this one work better than the others.

Enjoy!

Prompt:
After too many ridiculous and lengthy lawsuits dominate the world's courts, the world's leaders decided to pass a law to remove all warning labels.  The Darwin Act has just been passed...

Here is my take on that prompt.  I'm currently sitting at 3,000 upvotes.  Who knows why.

____________

Sarah Miller, exhausted from a double shift, put her green blouse into the washing machine. She poured her Clorox Bleach in and washed the garment. 30 minutes later she mindlessly threw the blouse into the dryer and set it for 50 minutes. Sarah promptly fell asleep, looking forward to her job interview for the next day. When she awoke 9 hours later, she was frantic as she knew she was going to be late for her job interview at the High Powered Business Person’s Business. She grabbed the blouse, the faint light barely spilling in from her cracked apartment windows and began to iron. The shirt exploded, engulfing her in flames. The flames quickly spread to the rest of her apartment building. 45 innocents perished because the tag that read “Do Not Bleach, Do not Machine Dry, Do Not Iron” was not on her brand new blouse.

Jonathan Sqiggles had just laid down in his bed, ready to enjoy his brand new mattress. He had gotten the mattress from Steve’s Wholesale Bedding just down the street only today. But what he didn’t know, because the label was removed, was that Steve’s Wholesale Bedding had gotten the mattress from a factory in Columbus, Ohio that had used other dirty recycled mattress to make this new mattress. The bedbug attack was so fierce and unexpected that within 20 minutes only a skeleton remained of Mr. Sqiggles.

Muldoon looked in his side view mirror and saw the T rex’s jaws gaping. However, the view in the mirror showed the dinosaur much further behind him than he had thought. He knew that they were safe, despite the screaming of Dr. Malcolm. No one listened to Malcolm and his chaos theory because he was an insufferable bore and know it all. Muldoon breathed a sigh of relief and slowed the jeep down. It wasn’t until Ellie was snatched from the passenger seat of the jeep that he realized objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear. The T-rex soon ate them all. Dr. Grant, upon learning of Ellie’s death but not caring about Malcolm's, became despondent and allowed himself to be eaten as well. The dinosaurs escaped the island and invaded the mainland. No one was prepared because no one even knew that dinosaurs existed once again. New York became a dinosaur buffet.

Tommy Jenkins leaned his back against the wall at the chemical plant. He removed his hard hat and began to think of Linda waiting for him back home. He was lost in his thoughts when he brought his lighter to his mouth, getting ready to inhale that first cigarette after a long shift. He did, then the plant exploded, releasing benzene over half of Dallas County. Half a million people either died or suffered permanent damage due to the chemical cloud. The act was incorrectly labeled a terrorist attack perpetrated by North Korea and international tensions rose.

Jin Soo, a South Korean badass, finished welding the surplus jet engine onto the top of his used Volkswagen Beetle. He downed his beer, a Natural Light that a Texan sent him, and got into his car. When he was ready, he smiled at the small gathering of friends around him and uttered the last words anyone would ever hear him say: “Let’s light this candle!” His friends were standing too close behind the jet engine and quickly caught fire. The little car took off and soon found itself airborne without any way to control it. North Korea, mistaking the car for a missile attack, fired its own missiles. However, the guidance systems were so bad, probably made at a mattress company in Columbus, Ohio, that they quickly veered off course. The dear leader was right, they had been able to make missiles that could reach any continent in the world. 45 nuclear missiles landed in Antarctica and the polar ice cap was obliterated. Within a year there was no more land for people to live on. In the beginning, billions had died holding onto children’s inflatable beach balls not realizing that they were not flotation devices.

A new society would eventually arise, leading watery nomadic lives. They would have many years of trials and tribulations until a brave man by the name of Kevin Costner grew gills and saved the last of humanity by leading them to the only land left on the planet.

_____
Thanks for reading.  Here is the story on Reddit so you can enjoy the comments as much as I did.

4/6/17

The Castle



Bring Me Your Maidens!
I’m writing in a castle.  How awesome is that?  I have the computer on top of a parapet, the gray tower is next to me and I’m writing.  So I suppose I’m not writing so much in a castle as I’m writing on a castle.  I’m basically a feudal lord now.  I should tax the peasants and get me some maidens.

This is not a castle in the traditional sense.  If I was going to be very technical, and very unimaginative, I would say that where I’m writing is a house with a castle exterior on the front.  The inside has rooms with carpet, chairs, tables, desks and no signs of dragons.  I don’t even think there are any suits of armors or long swords here.  And it is doubtful that I will find Edward Longshanks sitting in a throne room.  Mainly because he is dead and there is no throne room.

The place I am at is called the Writer’s Place.  It is a home, roughly 100 years old, and sits in the middle of an old neighborhood.  There are apartments behind it, normal houses on either side and the street is like any street in America.  There is also no drawbridge but give me some time and wood and I can probably fix that.

I am here because I am now a member of the Writers Place.  I have paid membership dues and have kept the receipt to deduct from my taxes.  Now it’s truly official, I am a writer.  I’m not sure of the history of the home other than that someone very rich, very long ago, decided that he wanted his home to have a tower and be covered in limestone blocks rather than wood and brick.  This is a home builder that I can relate to.  This person eventually died and his descendants decided to make it a place for writers to come work.  Thus, the Writers Place became a non-profit and so here I sit, typing away while looking for invaders.

It is run by a lady named Natasha, a very literary name much in the same vein of Tolstoy.  When I first met her she had on 24 scarfs, all of different colors, black square glasses, and blazing red hair.  I asked if she was perhaps Professor Trelawny.  I tend to make awkward jokes although that was not one of them, that was funny.

Quickly ditching my preconceived ideas of a castle and that I should go find a troll in the basement (there isn’t), I have now set up shop at the Writer’s Place to work on my book.

Wait, what’s that?  A book?  Is this whole post really just a vehicle to self-publicize that Hossman is writing a book?

No, this is a post about Hossman sitting on top of a fucking castle!

And yes, I’m finally writing a book about the misadventures of me and the children.  It’s a book that will have heroes and villains, stunning defeats and great victories.  And sometimes my wife will freak out when I take the kids on a bridge that is technically “not safe for crossings.”  Pshtt, what do engineers know?   We are still here, aren’t we!

I find it difficult to write at home with all the screaming and victory going on.  To truly get the words down on paper, to craft the story that will make you laugh and want to get into my pants at the same time. It’s a skill and I need someplace epic to do it.

So here we are, epically on top of a castle.  Well, not anymore.  I’m in the library because castles do not have power outlets on the towers.  Now I’m in the castle and as it’s getting close to lunch time I am expecting a roast boar to be brought to my table.  Perhaps I will get to meet the court jester and later I will go for a hunt.

The work on the Hossman book continues.   I don’t know how long it will take me to finish and I suppose it will depend on the number of disputes I have to rule on between the peasants.  That may delay me.  I will be a fair lord though, one that only boot stomps only the lowest.  I’ll post updates here and there on the book as I get to them.  The process of writing it is full of ups and downs, victories and defeats.

And there is no better place to plan your battles than within the safe confines of a castle.  I’ve got time here.

But first, I’m going to need to dig a moat.  All good castles have a moat around them.


We Need To Build A Moat

4/4/17

Missed Opportunities

My wife takes off her pants and I watch, sitting in my chair enjoying the view.  She stops and looks at me, notices my staring.  Or more appropriately, my glaring.  I have been with this woman for 22 years, I have earned the unashamed glare.

"What?" she asks.

"What do you mean what?"

"Why are you staring?"

I do not feel the need to explain my actions.  It should be self-evident.  My wife has no pants on.  I like it when my wife doesn't wear pants.  It's awesome and the fulfillment a dream of 16 year old me.  "What?" she asks again.

"I like it when you don't wear pants."

"Oh, yea?" She says, a smirk now on her face.  "It's been over 20 years, sure it's not getting old?"

"Nope," I say.  I like where this is headed.

Bacon Hoss runs into the room like he is being chased by a carnie with a pitchfork.  He misjudges the turn and smacks the bed, falls down but quickly gets back up.  His little feet start moving again, taking the time to give a kick to the bed because fuck you bed, that's why.  He jumps into my lap, I wince to avoid certain areas, and look at him.

He grabs my chin tightly, his vice-like fingers surprisingly strong for a 4-year-old and looks me in the eye.

"I have a donut on my forehead."

"What?" I ask.

He jumps off and is gone.  There was no donut on his forehead.  Bubba Hoss comes in as if getting the go-ahead from the stage manager that he was missing his cue.

"Dad," he says.  "I lost my school book and need to find it for tomorrow.  Also, did you know that Hans Solo uses a DL-44 to shoot Guido?"

This is what it's like with my son.  The first statement is about something he lost.  The second statement is a star wars fact.  That's where we are at with him at the moment.  I tell him to check under his bed for the book, that I didn't know the exact model of the gun and that it's time to go brush his teeth.  We are doing early bedtime tonight for, um, reasons.

Little Hoss comes in.  I imagine this is how clown cars work.  Just have more people show up until the driver can't fit anymore.  She says that she needs her girl scout shirt and she can't find her girl scout shirt, why can't she find her shirt, the boys must have taken it.  Stomp, stomp, stomp.  I don't even say anything to her.  She just stomps out.

My wife is at the sink now, getting ready for bed, still pantsless.  I can salvage this.

All three kids come in for the curtain call.  If they take bows and I'm going to be knocking some heads.  I shut them down before they can even tell me who hit who, I don't care if you're bleeding, and can we all just stop talking for a bit?  I tell them to zip it and everyone go brush their teeth and get ready for bed.

My eyes go back to my wife.  I find her evening ritual slightly alluring.  I don't know why but I always have.  22 years I've watched her do it and it never gets old.  Mentally, I high five the teenager still inside me.  We are living the dream buddy, we are living the dream.

Screams can be heard from the kid's bathroom.  There are shouts and yells, accusations and a 4-year old that is just crying.  His voice rises above the rest, but my daughter's whine is giving it a run for its money.  Bubba Hoss is in the middle of defending himself, demanding that slanderous and libelous statements be retracted.  I consider ignoring it until a sentence catches my ear.

"You broke my toothbrush."  The absurdity of this snaps my eyes off my wife's legs.  How the hell do you break a toothbrush?  Jesus Christ, are you kids serious?  A toothbrush?  Was someone making a prison shank?  I don't think I could break a toothbrush if I tried.   I would have to get tools out to break a toothbrush.  God Damnit, seriously?

They did indeed break a toothbrush, I didn't care to find out whose.  For some reason, I keep a lot of extra toothbrushes because you never know when one is going to end up in the toilet or apparently be sharpened on concrete to make a point.  The kids are given a new toothbrush and I make a mental note to put them all up for adoption tomorrow.

My wife walks by, headed downstairs.  She has pajama pants on now.

I have missed my opportunity and I realize that I have more in common now with that 16-year-old teenager in me than I thought.

3/29/17

An Arm and A Child


“4 billion! But wait, you also get a radio with that price.  Come on, gurl, let’s go get your car.”

“Lint.  We will give you the lint in my belly button for the car.”

Haley and I are playing hardball.  We seem to be a pretty far away from each other in terms of price, her billions to my offers of the lint in my pocket and a kiss on the cheek.  But this is how you buy a car, this is the expected dance.  Two peacocks strutting around showing their feathers until one of us gets fucked.

“I can’t do the lint, but how about we talk about what I can do.  I can do the cost of the Louisiana purchase in today's value and how about I throw in something meaningless about the undercarriage.”  Nobody knows what the undercarriage is.  It’s a bullshit term car salesman invented just so that the could offer it for free.

“That’s still a bit out of our price range,” I tell Haley.  “I’ll give you some quality Llama fur and then call your mom for you on Tuesday’s to let her know that you are doing swell.”   My mother in law is buying a new car, go grandma, and I”m just here to help out a little bit.  I feel this is going well and I”m about to offer a used napkin to sweeten the pot before she cuts me off.

“I like Llamas.  Who doesn’t like Llamas?  But Llamas don’t ride like this sweet piece of foreign made machinery.  You know what I heard?  I heard that Jesus was conceived right in that backseat.  True story, saw it myself.  So how about we take the Llama and add the weight of Everest in Gold.  I’ll even throw in the steering wheel for free.  FOR FREE!”  Haley is on a roll.  She gives me her shrewd eyes, the challenge in them is obvious.

“I like steering wheels but Everest is a little steep, don’t you think?  Why don’t you come down a bit.  Say around to basecamp where there is a 1920’s coffee maker waiting for you.  I’ll give you that plus one coffee bean.”  This is called haggling.  I’m really good at it, promise.  I once got a car salesman to come down 100 dollars.  All on my own.  I earned my big boy pants that day.

“Well, at least we are near Everest.  So we got a coffee bean, a Llama, the coffee maker and a steering wheel.  That’s not going to do it though.  I need more to sell this deal to my bosses.”  Pssht, she doesn’t need more to sell to her bosses.  These negotiations haven’t even started until she has gone back to her “bosses” 25 times.

“And a radio,” I tell her.  She tried to trick me there.  I got it.  I’m helping!

“And a radio,” she confirms although I can tell she is not happy that I remembered.  “Let’s split the difference and you give me your child.”

“Which one?” I say.

“You have more than one!”  She gets a little too excited at that.  I might have offered a little too much so I back peddle.

“They are more my wife’s than mine.  And they are pretty beat up, little resale value and require constant maintenance.  You don’t want that.  But you do want a look at the gun show without the shirt on, am I right, Haley, bubbie.  This gut under this shirt is covered in a thick black hair and I haven’t showered in like two days.  I’ll give you that sweet, sweet musk for free.  Free, Haley!”

She went and got her boss.  Or she got a little sick and needed to go to the bathroom.  I didn’t care, I’m breezy.  It’s just another move in the chess match of car buying.  Eventually, when I”m close to dehydration, the bossman comes out and Haley stands at his side as his standard bearer.  The negotiations continue for another 25 hours.

Empires are made and discarded, health care is fixed and then screwed up again.  We go over the political importance of the Roman system of government in the early 2nd century.  I may have blacked out a couple of times in there somewhere.

Eventually, both of us exhausted, we stand.  A respect has been earned on both sides.  We have lost family members during this ordeal and apparently, there has been a coup in the U.S.  None of it matters, a deal has been reached.  We shake hands and they go to draw up the paperwork.

“How did you do?” my mother in law asks me.

“I got you floor mats.  For no additional charge.”  I stop to let her bask in my business abilities while performing business.

“They come standard on the car, we already had them.”

“But I got them installed.”  Bam!  I’m like a superhero sometimes.  As I walk away from my mother in law and her new car I shoot Haley a grin.  Today was mine Haley but perhaps tomorrow will be yours.

3/27/17

Kids Cooking Dinner



Holy crap the kids are cooking me dinner.  I’m sitting on the couch in our cabin and I’m not doing a damn thing.  It’s entirely possible that this night will end with the fire department being called and a trip to the emergency room.  I’m not cooking, though, that’s the important thing to remember here.  


Things smell a bit funky but that’s ok.  I guarantee you I will eat anything that they happen to pull out of the oven.  It could be a full on boar, complete with singed hair and burnt tusks and I would eat that shit like I’m a starving man on the plains.  


For the past two days, we have done adventures while the kids are on spring break.  We have seen a 6-foot tall human mouth, weird statues, fired a catapult, put our heads in the stocks, have played mini-golf, gone swimming in a lake, and of course have seen a troll and a henge.  And fishing.  We have gone fishing twice.  


I hesitate to call this fishing, though.  Maybe the kids would call this fishing.  The lady at the state office asked me if I would be fishing personally and would need a license.  I laughed at her little joke.  I would not be fishing.  I would be constantly untangling lines and dodging hooks that were cast by my head.  This is not fishing, this is the last stage in a survivalist show where the winner gets to go home and smell like worms.  Do you need a license for that?


At the end of it all, we are at a cabin.  A nice place where we can get an actual bed in the pristine beauty of nature.  This is so we can ruin the quiet reflection of the lake by screaming constantly.  It’s just not a vacation to me unless I’m am constantly apologizing to random folk.  


The smoke detector is now going off.  It sounds like the bell from Rocky IV and Mick is telling me that I have to get up.   My son tells me that they might have forgotten to set the timer.  That's ok I tell him.  Life is full of success and failures and sometimes that failure involves the loud blaring of the smoke detector.  I tell him that I will 100% eat whatever they have cooked.  


“Even if it’s yucky, Dad?”

“Especially if it is yucky.  Yucky is a feast when you don’t have to cook yourself,” I tell him.  He doesn’t understand but that’s ok.  The point is, I am going to have to apologize to a park ranger very soon so I need to get my shoes back on.  

3/22/17

The Value Of A Good Henge

I want my children to know the value of a good henge.  The first thing to know about a good henge, of course, is that they are not always made of stone.  Sometimes, they are made of other things.  My children have learned this from personal experience.  Henges can be made out of cars, wood, boats and sometimes weird little hot wheel cars arranged just so.  But what makes a henge a henge is what it does.  You would think that marking the different times of year, like the summer solstice, is its main function.  It is not.  A henges main function is to merely exist so that father’s who like henges have someplace to drag their kids.  We have now seen 5 separate and distinct henges.

I’m not really sure exactly where we are currently at.  It’s somewhere between over there and lost.  These are the best adventures, though, the ones you really have to look for when it’s 90 degrees out in March.  This aberration of temperature helps fuel my kid's current attitude to our henge seeking adventures.  This is, mainly, can we go back to the cabin now?  No, we cannot.

“But we have already seen the henge!” they scream.

“Yes, yes we have.  But we haven’t seen the troll!”

Sometimes the kids don’t share my enthusiasm.  There is a troll by this henge and we are going to find it.  We have wondered through the Kansas prairies, tall dry grass flying by our windows, past what I am sure are countless henges.  The troll, which I read about online, should be located near our latest henge.  It’s in a park, underneath a rain grate, next to some sort of water.  It wasn’t in the first park or the second, but I’m pretty sure I have narrowed it down as we pull into the third.  We get out of the car and start walking, letting the heat attempt to stop us.

“It’s hot!” they say.  I think that they are trying to take a stand against me.  I’m betting Patton didn’t have these kinds of problems.

“Yup,” I say.  The best way to shut down a debate is to simply agree with them.  We march on.

I ask the first person we meet if perhaps they know where the troll is located.  He seems like a nice old guy as he quickly jogs away from us and our troll hunting/henge seeing adventures.

I find someone else and ask them if perhaps they have seen the troll, I mention that we have just come from a henge.  This nice young person gives us directions to the nearest hospital and urges us to seek help.

However, the third person that I speak to (bother) says yes, they have indeed seen the troll!  As her pupils are not dilated, I feel that she actually means it and is not on drugs.  She says that it’s just right over the hill, next to the damn, just follow the sidewalk.  She tells me that she took her kids that way last week and I feel a certain connection with her immediately.  But before I can ask her about her attitude toward henges, the kids pull me away.  They seem eager to get this adventure done.

Within minutes we find the troll, just like the good people of the internet said we would.  Underneath a giant rain grate right off the sidewalk.  He’s about 6 feet tall, overlarge head and metal glimmering eyes.  We stand over him and do what we came here to do which is basically just look and point while I say “hey kids, look at this troll!”  They are back in the car before I can suggest we name him.  (I did, by the way, we now call our troll “Gronky” and he is part of our family lore.)

Back in the car, we chew up the miles like a football team at a buffet.  To my right, I notice a brown sign.  It’s the type of sign that you see everywhere when you look for it on America’s highways.  Sometimes they say “Melvern State Park” or “Santa Fe Trail wagon wheel ruts.”  This particular sign says “Cattle Pen Lookout.”  The sign points north.  You know what else is north that I’ve had my eye on for a while?  Carhenge.  One that we haven’t seen and completely different from the Carhenge we have seen.

I slow down preparing to take the exit.  In unison, like a young boys choir, I hear my kids scream from the back “No!  Don’t get off the highway!”  Hesitatingly, I increase the speed of the car and reluctantly miss the exit.  I point the nose of the car towards home.  Perhaps this time they have a point, it’s pushing 10pm.

And it’s ok.  Because the last thing to know about henges are that they are immortal and will always be there tomorrow.

3/16/17

The Pinnacle of Being an At Home Dad.

This is it, I have reached the pinnacle of being an at home dad.  Nine years, nine long years and today is the day that I can truly say that it's all coming together.

March Madness starts today and there is absolutely no one home.  All day.  A full day with no one at the house.  At all.  Let me bask in this for a few minutes.

Look at those chips in the kitchen over there.  See those?  Those are MY chips.  There will be no grimy hands covered in boogers and snot grabbing into that bag.  The only hands taking those sweet fried potatoes out will be shaking from the excitement from the knowledge that there will be no sharing.  I'm going to eat the whole bag in under 2 hours which would be a personal best.

The beer is right next to the chips and I want to again remind everyone that those are MY chips.  That is also My beer.  I will not be sharing these either.  My daughter can be a mean drunk.  (Don't call CPS, it's only a joke, she is a very nice drunk).  While I drink this beer, with MY chips, there will be no questions.  "Why do you drink Daddy?" or "What is passed out?  Daddy?  Daddy?"

Now that the beer and chips are taken care of, let's move onto what else is mine that I will not be sharing.  I will sit alone, in MY chair, by myself.  I may allow the dog to lay at my feet and soak up some of this awesomeness.  He gets no beer or chips, though.  Those are still mine.  There will be no kids jumping to my crotch like a rocket fired from the launchpad that is our couch.  There will also be no getting up for a good 3 hours to check on what that huge crashing sound was.  Because there will also be no huge crashing sound unless its the sound of my over indulgent sighs as I fit one more chip in my chiphole.

For lunch, I've got something special planned.  MY brats will go nicely with MY beer and MY chips.  I'll eat them in peace and not once wish they were hotdogs, why can't we have hotdogs, I want a hotdog, I no longer want this hotdog.  Let me make this clear at the start of this day.  There will be no hotdogs.

I'm going to do all this from the comfort of MY living room while I watch MY TV at a reasonable volume.  I will be able to hear the program I am watching and I will not have to wonder why the volume only goes up to 99.  I will watch it at volume 20 like civilized people do while they eat brats, beer and chips.  When there is a good play I may actually rewind the play and watch it many times.

Then I'm going to cuss about the play.   I'm going to say "fuck" and not "fork".  I'm gong to say "Shitnizzle" and not "Shuxalive."  I'm going to scream "Goddamnit you bastard loving cunt sore."  Well, hold on.  I'm not going to say "Goddamnit you bastard loving cunt sore."  Even for me, that is pretty extreme.  Let's not get carried away here.  So instead I will say "Goddamnit, stupid millennials costing me my bracket.  Twats."  Yes, that's better.  I will say that.

Everyone is now expecting a twist now, aren't they?  Everyone is expecting me to come to the great realization that my life is infinitely better and sweeter when my kids are around.  That I will have an internal dialog about the guilt I feel about all 3 of my demons being in school.  That maybe I will eagerly run to preschool, grab my youngest and then hop over and take the other two out of school as well so we can experience this together.  That is where this story goes, right?

Fuck no.

Nine years, nine years I've been doing this.  Read the first sentence again, there will be no going to get the kids and having a special moment.  I'm going to have plenty of special moments over the course of this day.

And I'm going to have those special moments while sitting in MY underwear, which will be on MY butt.  MY underwear will not be on some four-year old's head, it will not be pulled down at the waist by tiny hands and no one will ask me why there are pirates on MY underwear.  Pirates are cool, that's why they are on my underwear, to protect my booty.  Dear god, even the jokes are getting better now.

3/13/17

House WebMD

Hossmom is wondering why I am freaking out about the stopped up kitchen sink.  She seems to be very nonchalant about it, that it is no big deal.  She says that she knows that I can fix it and when I couldn't, she didn't seem to freak out at all.  She wants to know why it's stressing me out so much.  Let me explain in terms that I think that she can understand.

When my wife gets the random pain in the calf or a tingle in her arm, she makes the mistake of going to WebMD or other sites that instantly diagnosis her with cancer.  Then she convinces herself that it's not cancer but she had a heart attack and didn't realize it because somewhere she read an article that women have lots of heart attacks and don't realize it.  She fixates on this information and practically hyperventilates.  Thank's WebMD, you guys make my life so much easier.  From the very bottom of my heart, fuck you guys.

When I calm her down and tell her that it's just the aches and pains of getting old, she then reminds me that the very first guy that did jogging in the 70's died of a heart attack so what hope does she have?  She will then begin to list all these super healthy people that have died of heart attacks.  This can go on for a while.

So using that analogy I can now frame the house repair stuff in a way that she will get my stress.  If there is something that is wrong with the house, like a plugged sink that I can't reach, I begin to go down the WEBMD of the house.  It's not just a plugged line, an easy fix for a professional.  It's a multi-million dollar repair that is going to bankrupt me.  In short, it's house cancer.  And if it's not house cancer, it's a house heart attack.  That's what it is.  That's where my mind goes.  It can't just be a blocked line because I know what my kids and wife have dumped down that thing.  It's some mutant monster now that is chewing the insides of my house, that is destroying the goodness that is my life.

That heart attack house monster just started on the sink drain.  It has now moved on to the main sewer line and they will eventually have to dig up my yard, replace pipes, rebury the Indians that we accidentally built upon, and upset the very nature that is reality.  The bill, of course, will be worth more than the national debt.

As a single income family, I have no hope of paying this off.  The best I can do is to sell myself into debtors prison and hope that my children can grow up fine without me.  I will be an indentured servant in some plumbing company, going around to other houses and digging up their yards, thus recruiting more members to our cult.  For lunch, they will give me whatever greasy fish is pulled out of drains.

Look, I know realistically it's just a simple sink plug.  I know that it's just farther down the line than my feeble plumbing skills can reach.  I know that most likely it's nothing more than a routine maintenance.  But I also know who lives in this house.  Hell, 10 years of this blog is dedicated to a number of things my children have broken.  Would I be terribly surprised to find a barbie head and a pair of pliars are what is clogging my sink?  No, no I would not.  In fact, it's always a wonderful surprise when it's actually something other than us.

I know just enough about home repairs to freak myself out.  I see a clog in the sink and if I can't fix it, I know that a possibility is that it's a clog in the main sewer line and that is going to get pricey.  And then my head thinks things like "It's probably busted and sewage is right now at this moment flooding my basement!"

So there, Hossmom, that is why I was a bit stressed out by our simple sink clog.  That's why I was nervous all weekend when I couldn't fix it myself.  That's why I would prefer to hide in a hole and let a grown up handle things for a little bit, this grown up needed to consult house WebMD and then slowly prepare for a life of cleaning other people's toilets.

3/9/17

Ode To The Poptart

I pick up the crusted poptart from the floor and place it back on the lower level of the refrigerator.  My hand brushes against the lettuce as I pull away.  The lettuce slides and again pushes the poptart back onto the floor.  I bend over, pick it up, and place the poptart back in the fridge.

I walk away, the poptart safe in it's cold cave.

Later in the day, I go to make lunch.  I have to move the poptart to get to the lunch meat that one of the kids has stuffed in the back.  I also grab the lettuce, placing the bologna package on the poptart for a second while my other hand grabs for the mustard.  I get everything I need and shut the door to the refrigerator.

I make dinner that night.  The poptart still sitting like a sentry every time I open the fridge to get something.  It's silently waiting.

The next day I repeat the pattern of constant food preparation for the horde that is my family.  The fridge door opens and closes, opens and closes.  The light illuminating the blueberry pastry like a lighthouse on a stormy coast.

The week continues and so does the uncovered poptart on the bottom shelf.  Sometimes it is knocked off the shelf and it is quickly picked up.  Back into its abode, its cooled castle.

The next week comes and the poptart has been knocked off the shelf so much that it is now in two pieces.  Its edges are crumbled and a bit smushed.  The blueberry filling is dried out, the deep purple color draining a little bit more as the door opens and shuts.

Two weeks have now passed and groceries have been added and subtracted from the fridge.  The poptart has brief house guests of leftover spaghetti or an unfinished brat.  But there stay is short-lived, unlike the poptart. which is now timeless.

A month goes by and I open the fridge door.  I notice the poptart and really see if for the first time.  It's more crumbles now than an actual poptart.  Its rectangular shape has disintegrated into nothing but a memory.  It no longer slides out of the fridge because it has slowly attached itself to the bottom shelf.  The sugar sweetness is gone, leaving nothing but an adhesive paste.

I look at the poptart and in return, it looks at me.  I join it on its journey of self-discovery.  Troubles melt away, my world becomes uncluttered, and my mind clears.  In this state, an epiphany hits me with the truth of a thousand sons.  I understand myself more than I ever have and I understand the poptart.

 One thought echoes in the emptiness  of my mind, over and over again:

Jesus Christ, I need to clean the fridge out.  Dear God that's disgusting.  

3/6/17

We Cleared A Path

"We thought you said 'clear a path'"

The only time I would have told my children to clear a path is if I'm a naval captain on my way down the ladder to check the nuclear launch codes.  Or a firefighter with an armful of kittens.  I would not, I did not, say 'clear a path' to my children.  What I said to my kids was "Good God, it's like a twister came through the toy room.  You better hope that R2D2 can disable all the trash compactors on the detention level or things are going to get interesting.  Watch out for the trash monster."

Wall to wall crap littered the floor of the toy room.  Toys and trinkets were piled so high that some were headed up the walls as the only escape from the pit below.  To walk across would take a city permit and the services of a good sherpa.  Only steel toed boots should be allowed in that hole of pointy plastic corner pieces.  So I told them to clean it up and gave them 1 hour.

At the end of that hour, I came back.  I didn't check on progress during that hour because, and I'll be honest, I wanted a break.  I was tired from long hours of thinking of metaphors to describe the pit of destruction that I had witnessed.  When I did come back, they had indeed cleared a path.

A 2-foot section was opened making a nice little trail to the one window in the middle.  The other two windows on the side of the path were apparently for decoration only, not intended for use.  If my kids worked at Yosemite, then they would make excellent park rangers.  This isn't Yosemite though, this is my house.  There's probably a dead cat in there somewhere, we should find it before CPS comes and decides to give me some free time.

I asked for their logic because I honestly want to see what is going through there heads.  Maybe there is a scientific explanation like maybe there is a hypothesis about the amount of clutter and the level of Dad's frustration.  Maybe there is a device in this pit of destruction that measures the colors of my face.  That would be cool.

"Bacon Hoss wasn't helping."

The 4-year-old wasn't helping.  Always blame the toddler, a favorite family tactic.  I implored them to go on.

"And we thought you said to clear a path."

So we are back to the beginning which is good because there is literally nowhere else to go in this room.  We are going to start again.  It's tough to explain to childless, easy going people, how it can take 2 hours to clean a room.  Because it's not just the room we are trying to clean here, it's also language and the messages that it conveys.

I go grab my big boots and a trash bag.  They know the rule. If Dad picks it up it goes into the trash.  I have yet to actually throw anything away after the first threat of this 7 years ago.  I walked into the room with my trash bag, my body finding dog, and a smile.

"Ok, I'll help.  Let's clean the room!"

The toy room was cleaned in 10 minutes.


3/2/17

Oops

Where is my daughter, I'm ready for her to get home.  There are things to do, lots and lots of things to do.  There is volleyball to talk about and there is soccer to go to.  I have a class I need to get to and I want her to read what I have written.  Come home Little Hoss, play with me!

Bacon Hoss is no good for this type of stuff.  He won't laugh at my writing mainly because he can't read at all.  I find this a deficiency in his education.  I blame Hossmom.  And he's loud a lot.  He's loud all the time.  I get it, though, he has to be loud to compete with the other two while I sit back on my golden throne and watch the children compete for my attention.  Dance you monkeys, dance for Daddy's entertainment.

He keeps me busy, though, we are busy a lot.  I'm feeling that I'm becoming forgetful and I know why.  The more I add to my plate the harder things get.  This is not a shock, not a shock at all.  In 8 years of being an at home dad, the kids and house have been my focus.  And donuts, I have done a lot of focusing on donuts as well.  The kids are still my focus but my youngest is now in preschool twice a week.  Another year and a half he will be in full-time school himself and then Dad will be all alone

So sure, there needs to be some prep work to be put in so that when all my kids leave me I'm not a sad pile of meth addiction and divorce papers.  My focus has grown because of this.  Writing classes and groups are now mixed in with soccer practice, field trips, and adventures.  That's a lot of focus.  If my daughter would hurry up and get home from school she could help me focus.

I get a phone call.  It's the kid's school.  I am a little concerned, school ended 30 minutes ago.  I answer the phone.  It's Donna, the school's secretary.  I know donna because over the last 5 years my kids have forgotten lunch boxes, uniforms, homework and pretty much everything else.

"Little Hoss is under the impression that you were supposed to pick her up today because she had to bring her cello.  She's here at the office waiting for you."

Crap.  Crap, crap, crap.

Little Hoss is right.  I drove her to school this morning because her cello needed to be tuned.  That mahogany whale of an instrument cannot be taken on the bus.  I'm sitting here right now waiting for the bus and for my daughter to get home.  She's not coming home.

I need to focus on being a better parent.  

3/1/17

Writing Group

Within minutes of walking into the stuffed room at the local library, I realized that I was the dumbest guy in there.  This should give me pause, this should make me wonder if I've stepped into something I shouldn't have.  Perhaps it's best if I just turn tail and run before I ruin whatever great literary work they are about to discuss.  They will be talking Tolstoy and I will be understanding Dr. Suess.  But feeling good in my caveman intelligence I decided fuck it because that's what dumb guys do.  If I had a beer I would have given it to my buddy and told him "Hold my beer, watch this."

There were a series of tables arranged in a large square formation, the chairs were pushing almost up against the walls when you sat down.  I made a weak joke, the kind that says "I'm no threat, I'm just here to take whatever literary scraps you guys throw out.  I'm the racoon of the writing world, don't mind me."  I had to grab a chair from the closet and make the decision of who's space do I want to funk up.

It's always weird coming into a new group.  It's tough breaking in, especially when it's outside of your comfort zone.  You would think that I would be quite good at this and sometimes I am.  But I'm also sometimes that 7-year-old boy that's new at school and just wants someone to sit with me so I don't stick out so much.  There was no space at this lunch table so I put my chair in the corner and told everyone to not mind me, I"ll be over here by myself.

The group laughed and this was good.  I had gotten them to laugh twice in 3 minutes and this bodes well for me.  They quickly made space for me at the table and handed me some print outs.  I was now part of an official writing group.  I was doing it, I was making progress!  I texted my wife to let her know that I am an official writer now.  She quickly pointed out that I've actually been published and could have called myself a writer for a long time now.  Her constant encouragement gets in the way of my low self-esteem and I find that annoying.

The group leader, Jim, welcomed me and the few other new people that had joined this group.  He laid down some ground rules but in a way that said "We are going to criticise the shit out of you and it may hurt.  But it will be wrapped in warm hugs and donuts so you won't even realize when the needle goes in."   I haven't been this excited since my son was born.  Hell.  Yes.

And then we began.  We reviewed 2 works that night.  They were read out loud and then the other writers voiced their thoughts on what was just presented.  It was a no holds bared critique but I was smiling ear to ear and so was the person that had written the piece.  She was furiously taking notes, she was marking her copy of the story up so much that it had basically just become a red page.  She was laughing, I was laughing.  And the advice was just so....damn...good.

Here's the thing about writing, at least for me.  It's terrifying.  Every piece takes a bit of you with it.  It's like a Horcrux but good.  The only person you have to kill to imbue it with life is yourself.  Then to send it out into the world, to want to send it out, makes you want to take big gulps of moonshine and close your eyes tight.  It's like jumping out of an airplane and not being sure if you grabbed the parachute or the backpack with the anvil.  But here I was with all these people taking that leap together and Jesus Christ was it just so awesome.

They talked about things that I knew about.  They talked about things that I was excited about.  Their excitement made me excited.  The way they jumped on the technical side of plot development and character growth.  The way they pointed out themes and the voice of the story.  Over the last 6 months, I've tried to throw myself into writing, to truly become better and actually do something with it.  I want to be a writer, I want to be creative.  And here, I found people using the terms and vernacular of every work I've done since Bacon Hoss started going to preschool.  It was like I was jacked up on cocaine and caffeine while cliff diving.

The story that we were "workshopping", that's a writers term--I can use that term now because I'm a writer--was chopped and gutted.  Of the 8 pages, 3 were pretty much cut and laying in the pile of "why did I ever write that to begin with."  The rest of her story was better for it.  Then we started the next one.  Again, brutal honesty without malice and the piece came together wonderfully.

Here's the thing about being the dumb guy in the room.  Sometimes you want to be that guy.  You need to be that guy.  Because at the very least you are surrounding yourself with people that know what the hell they are talking about.  The lessons that can come out of a situation like that are invaluable.  And maybe you are not so much the dumb guy anymore the minute you realize that.  At that point, maybe you just become the guy you wanted to be.

At the end of the meeting, the leader asked our background and what we wrote.  After my many jokes, I don't think it surprised anyone that I wrote more humor.  One of the other's asked who had works published before and I actually raised my hand.  Many didn't.  I need constant encouragement when I write, it's like I'm a contestant in a beauty pageant.  And as I looked around and heard people speak I realized that maybe I wasn't so ugly in the swimsuit competition.  Make no mistake, I've got the writing love handles but some vaseline just might be able to fix this up.

I left the meeting feeling inspired and creative.  And talkative, very very talkative.  I can't wait to go home and tell Hossmom everything, every detail, every piece of writing that was discussed.  I'll talk so much that she will gradually fall asleep and that's ok because now I have other people to talk to about this.  It's because of her you know and I think she has very much earned her rest.





2/27/17

Eat, Pray, Man Weekend.

I don't want spiritual awareness or inner place that comes from self-realization.  I want to go to man-weekend and sit, blissfully unaware of any and all turmoil that may be rocking through my inner being.  Do I have a 3rd eye?  I have no idea and I don't want to find out.

My wife gave me the book Eat, Pray, Love to read.  The first thing that I noticed is that there are no Russians to fight and the lack of explosions is very concerning.  There's not even a dog and every good story has to have a dog.  What there is a lot of self-reflection, personal growth, and eating.  I was rooting on the eating parts until the author described eating things with no meat.  I've heard that is a thing but I can't imagine overcoming personal demons while not growing a sizeable meat baby in my stomach.

I do like the book and I know why my wife gave it to me.  The writing is excellent, the use of past and present tenses is crafty and there is a ton to learn from that writing style.  Hell, I'm supposed to be working on my own book, right?  So sure, I jumped right into Eat, Pray, Love with the best of intentions.

Now that I'm at man-weekend, an annual get together of old college friends, I'm reading a book that is about a personal journey and overcoming devastating loss.  Yup, this was a great idea to read at man weekend, surrounded by a whole lot of chest hair and a whole lot of not showering.

My wife loves the book, as do millions of people.  Who hasn't felt trapped by circumstances and bad decisions?  But for the guy readers, trying to do very manly things while reading a book like this, it should include someone punching Drago in the face.  If you don't know who Drago is then you should probably go rewatch Rocky IV again and then we can talk about giving your 'Murica card back.

She handed the book over to me a few days before I left.  The receipt was still inside the book.  the book is 10 years old.  My wife will claim that it's just a book mark but after 10 years, I think it is something more.  I think it is a shrine to when my wife first read the book.  When I grabbed a pen and told her I was going to underline some passages and make notes, she visibly jumped.  She brushed it off, "It's just a book," she said.  The cold sweat on her palms though made me think that perhaps it's more than that.   I've spent the last three days making sure I haven't lost that receipt for fear of ruining whatever aura is around this book for her.

And there are auras, according to the book.  And there are Swamis, and journeys, and a connection to your inner god.  There is no BBQ though which is a damn shame.  There should be BBQ.  A dog, BBQ and a bald eagle somewhere.  Because this is man weekend and my unexpected core examination is kind of shitting on that.  There is also some sort of metaphysical blue lightening thing going on and that part I'm not to sure about.  It's supposed to start at your tail bone, travel up through your spine, and then explode on your forehead bringing an understanding of yourself and the universe.

The lady who wrote it, Elizebeth Gilbert, is pretty much a train wreck but isn't that what makes it interesting?  Isn't that the conflict that needs to be resolved.  And aren't we all train wrecks, where emotional truth is as unavoidable as making eye contact with the one person you don't want to?

So here we are, with Hossman doing some inner reflection when I should be trying to bluff my way into a sizable poker pot with a pair of pocket deuces.  I can't though because the book grabs you in a weird way and you keep reading, reading, reading.  

This book spoke to my wife and I'm trying to figure out why.  Is she unhappy with our marriage, I should probably check on that.  And while I'm at it I need to do a spiritual checkup on here inner being if I could understand what any of that was.  Look, I know that I'm as about as deep as a puddle on the highway, but this is some heavy shit here.

And now it dawns on me that is the point of the book.  The point is to not only follow a character who is struggling but to also realize the struggle in yourself and fuck.....I'm looking for my inner peace now.  God damn it.

2/22/17

The Prison With No Guards

So a little piece here for anyone that wants a quick read.  I liked the idea of a prison where the inmates don't leave but there are no guards or locked doors.  So I wrote a little story.  Now the humble brag:  I submitted this to a writing website.  I thought sure, why not.  The next day it ends up on their internal newsletter as a "noticing newbies."  I know it's a small thing but the little bit of recognition makes me think that maybe I'm not so terrible.  Maybe I can tell a story.  Or maybe I can't.  But I have created a human life, 3 times mind you, and that's something.  Enjoy the story and thanks for the little bragging I get to do on myself.

(See Hossmom, I am self-promoting. As much as I hate it, I'm self-promoting!)




A Prison With No Guards


Vince runs while being chased by his shadow. The sun is blaring, bright, and illuminating everything. His heart is hot and hammering.  The tingling in his fingers bothers him, but only enough to help him ignore the weakness in his legs and his tunneling vision.   He’s only 20 feet away from the entrance. Maxwell High-Security lettering is stenciled just above the doorway. The building is modest, brown and non-descriptive. It is an ordinary building but to Vince, the building is his sanctuary. The twelve floors offer him hope, the only hope he has anymore.

His arms ache from carrying the large parcel. The boxy newspapered package contains ready to eat meals and dried food. The kind of food that he once believed astronauts ate. The thought of space elevates his panic attack and he tries to run faster to the door. He is so close but the panic attack doesn’t know that, the panic attack doesn’t lessen. He is beginning to feel that he will not be able to control it anymore. 10 feet away. The door is only 10 feet away.

He refused to go out and get the supplies. Vince didn’t care if it was his turn. He told the others that he refused. They gathered around him and forced him from his cell. They carried him to the unlocked front door. The inmates pitched Vince out the front door where he tumbled end over end like a poorly thrown horseshoe looking for a stake. Vince knew he couldn’t enter again unless he had the supplies. He closed his eyes and ran, grabbed the package, and is now running back.

Vince looks up at the windows to see if anyone is watching, any friendly faces that could at least offer him support. In his panic, he forgot that they had blacked out all the windows years ago. Vince begins to cry as he gets closer to the door, unable to control the panic anymore. He doesn’t look behind him, he can’t look behind him. His rational mind will tell him that there is nothing but open pasture and green meadows behind him. His rational mind will also tell him that those pastures and meadows are endless miles. He doesn’t know which part of himself to believe so he stops thinking about it and just runs.

There are no guards inside the prison, there is no need for them. The caretakers do come once in a while but have no contact with the inmates. This is the inmate's decision. The caretakers bring them food and supplies but never leave it by the door. That would an act of kindness and there is a part of Vince that knows they deserve no kindness. So they put the supplies 100 yards beyond the door in the ceaseless beautiful space. Vince knows that they watch as one of the inmates eventually runs out to retrieve them. Vince knows that they will laugh. Vince knows that even if it’s not him out here in the fields, he will have a panic attack just knowing that someone is.
5 feet from the door and Vince’s breathing is ragged. It burns his throat which is parched and feels like a dry lava tube. Vince dives, throwing the rations through the doorway. He slides on his chest, feeling a scrap of the concrete on his chest. His head slams into a wall of legs that gathered quickly to grab the food. Vince tries to stand but is pushed down again in the riot. He is stepped on, crushed. His fingers claw not for the food but from some purchase to pull himself into the doorway, into the darkness.

These inmates are unique. Vince knows this and he knows how this came to be. Vince knows that after his conviction he was taken to The Institute for The Acquirement of Mental Disorders. He remembers the endless barrage of experiments, the time spent in open spaces and the danger that was found there. Many never made it out of those wide open death traps. The ones that did came to Maxwell. No guards, no bars on windows, and the cells were open rooms.

Vince again tries to stand and finally is able to gain ground. But the throng pushes back, pushes back hard, and Vince is once again catapulted outside the door. 10 hands reach out, but not for Vince. They reach for the door. The hands, long nailed and dirty, find the doorknob and pull. Vince screams, Vince screams, Vince screams. The door slams shut with Vince on the wrong side of it. He pounds his hands on the door, he pounds and hears his fingers break. The panic consumes him.

Vince crumbles in front of the door. He has gone inside himself. He forces himself into the darkest, smallest corner that he can find. The inmates on the inside either don’t hear his soft whimpering or don’t care. They are all like Vince and no one will open the door.

2/20/17

Slumber Party

2:30 in the morning and my whole house shakes like it's just been hit with a broadside from Napoleon's cannons.  I can hear the tinkle of the lightbulbs in my fan when the second shockwave hits.  When the 3rd boom sounds I would bet that the little popcorn from my ceiling is now falling down on my bed like a snowstorm in Idaho.

"What is that?" my wife asks, sleep leaving her quickly.  "Hoss, what is that.  Wake up!"

I am awake.  I've been awake for 4 hours.  I haven't slept a wink.   What is that, what is that?

Slumber Party.  That's what that is.  A slumber party for an 11-year-old and I'm pretty sure I'm going to meet my deductible on my home insurance this year.

My daughter just had a birthday, which kind of freaks me out.  I am in no way old enough to have a child that is 11 years old.  I'm young, I'm hip, I'm with it.  Then my daughter will point out that grunge music was 20 years ago and I don't know who everyone was at the Grammys.

My little one is smart and perceptive, there is no denying that.  Sometimes I imagine that she looks at me and wants to ask me a question:  You have no idea what you are doing, right?  To me sometimes it is painfully obvious that I'm winging it.  But here is the thing about fatherhood, you don't get a whole lot of time to decide if you are doing it right or not.  Moments drop on your head like a bull and you have to deal with it because there isn't an option to not deal with it.  I don't want to be a shitty dad, that's the mantra that you have to tell yourself over and over again.  This is one of those moments and my house shakes yet again.  This time I hear giggling.

My feet hit the floor, slowly but surely.  I have to do the dad thing now and wreck the party.  I don't think that my poor house can do whatever activity they have decided to conjure down there.  Every time I hear a thud I imagine that they have somehow cloned dinosaurs and are now jousting in my living room.    Thud, giggle, thud, giggle, thud, roar.

I think there are 5 of them.  I'm not totally sure.  I could have sworn there were 5 of them when I told them lights out an hour ago.  I may have even counted.  But there is no way 5 little girls could make this much noise.  It's just not possible and I think I might need to call in the military to let them know that an alien vortex just opened near my kitchen.

Earlier, I tried threatening with our house rule.  It's our go-to rule when we want everyone to be quiet in the house.  It's our baby rule.  You wake him, you take him.  Usually, that's enough to keep everyone real quiet because no one wants to handle a screaming baby at 1 in the morning.  But my baby isn't a baby anymore either, they keep growing up and I keep growing old.  He's a toddler now.  I told 5 little girls they would have to take the 4-year-old toddler if they woke him up.  They made more noise.  Because you know what is awesome to 11-year-olds?  Make-overs.  And do you know who loves makeovers?  Toddlers.  It took me 45 minutes to break that up.

Now I'm going to have to go downstairs and put the old foot down, the foot that is sore if it walks on hardwood floors for too long without slippers.  I consider just walking down in my shorts and letting the silverback gorilla look say more than my words every could.  But I don't though because I love my 11-year-old and I don't want her to be traumatized forever.  Maybe for a little bit, like a week, but not forever.

I get to the top of the stairs and the banging has stopped.  I peak my head over and I'm a little taken aback but what I see.  I see 5 little girls in a straight line, front to back.  They are whispering, I hear a boy's name I think.  They are laughing too, occasionally one will fall over.  They are itching each other's backs or braiding another's hair.  They are laughing, so much laughing.  The T.V. is on and I can hear a movie playing, I think one of those preteen shows from Disney.  I see my daughter hugging her friends as they laugh.  Whatever crankiness that was in me, and there's a fair amount at 2:30 am, pretty much just goes away.

She's young, she's having fun.  Sure, they are a little noisy but I also know that they spend a fair amount of their time being told to behave and quiet down.  Not tonight, though, tonight I'm good.  I'm going to let them be 11 for a bit and I can go back upstairs and be old.  I'm good with that, it feels right.

Sure, I may be winging a lot of this fatherhood thing but I have to admit to myself, I'm winging it pretty damn good.




2/17/17

Tax Prison

"Do you guys want Mom or Dad to go to prison?"

Both my kids stopped and looked down at me from the top of the stairs.  They weren't sure if I was kidding or not.  I didn't say anything, I just let it sit there for a moment.  Not the toddler, though.  His choice was clear.  He chooses batman underwear.  That was his choice when it came to the prison question.  They were on his head and so thoughts of which parent should go to prison really didn't factor in that much.

I asked my kids this question because it is time to do our taxes, the great American ritual where you try not to screw up your life with the scrawl of a number.  This takes great concentration because if you miscalculate 758392754 x Form 4321, and then take the my little pony deduction, you will not be getting any refund.  Nope, instead, you will be spending 10 to 20 years in supermax because everyone knows that you don't do that with Form 4321.  Doing your taxes is like taking a master's level physics test except you are a caveman and fire is still the most mysterious thing in your world.

It takes quiet to do taxes because how are you supposed to argue the merits of a 1099 with noise?  It' can't be done.  Pretty soon you will be working with a 1099-SA and not the 1099-G.  That means it's back to supermax, and since you are fresh meat, you will have plenty of company to discuss the merits of form 1099-G.

The kids were supposed to be quiet while we were getting this done.  They were supposed to be playing gently with each other.  They were supposed to keep the underwear on the bottom of the toddler and not on his head.  They have failed at all 3.  Which is how it should be, I suppose.  If there is another way that this goes, then I don't know it.  I have never experienced quiet children.  Is it weird?  I bet it's weird.

10 minutes into taxes, as we were trying to decide what the C code in Box 12 meant, my daughter could be heard upstairs yelling at her brother.  This triggered her brother to come downstairs and state that an octopus has no spine and that his sister is being mean.  I threw a rolled up pair of socks at him.
Then the toddler came down for no particular reason.  He wasn't riding the dog.  This is always a win in my house.  He screamed for a bit until I bribed him with couch candy to go back upstairs with his brother and sister, who were doing a bang up job of watching him.  My daughter came down because she couldn't find the toddler.  I pointed to the gross kid eating a smushed skittle on the bottom of the stairs.

This goes on for a good 30 minutes, and with each minute passing, I can feel my prison sentance growing longer.  An error that surely would have resulted in probation has now compounded and I'm looking at life with Charles Manson as a roomie.  I hear he tells great bed time stories.

At this point, I had it.   It is obvious that I cannot run my house.  That my little dictatorship has apparently turned into a democracy.  So I called everyone down, the dog and undearwear on the head toddler, and posed the question to them.

Who would they prefer to go to prison?  If mom goes to prison, then you will have to live on the street and she is the money bags.  If I go to prison, they can probably stay in the house but will have to catch mice to eat since no one is going to cook for them.

This seemed to have finally shut them up.  I sent them back upstairs and told them if they come down again, or let the toddler come down (underwear or not), then they would have to tell me who should go to prison.   We could watch the old prison show OZ that was on HBO so they could know how to act when they came to visit one of their parents in the slammer.  They would also learn why Daddy can't make eye contact with anyone anymore and that snitches get stiches.

Mum's The Word

Hossmom gave me a writing prompt not to long ago to see if I could make a story out of it.  The prompt was "Where did the phrase 'Mums the word' come from and get it's meaning."

So I gave it a shot and the below little flash fiction is the result.  I'm just going to stick it here on the blog for 2 reasons:  1. It's my first piece of real fiction that I thought about.  2.  I like it.

So there you go.  Don't worry, we'll get back to the funny soon.


MUM'S THE WORD

Mum sat on her rock, behind the reeds next to the small pond. It was sunny here. It was always sunny here. Her hair flowed down her back, her brownish curls touching the top of the rock of where she sat. Through the reeds she saw the tree. She saw the bird. She saw the horse and the cow. She saw the people.

She remained quiet, peaceful in her silence. She watched the animals and the people walk. She watched the wind blow the leaves of the tree. She watched the sun rise and the sun fall. She watched. Mum never came out from her concealment behind the reeds. She never went to the man or the woman. She never spoke. She remained muted and closed.

The snake found her like he often did. Green with bits of brown crossing the scales. It was neither large nor small. Big enough that it wasn’t hunted by other animals but small enough to be easily overlooked as it perched on the tree, as it did most days. The snake came to her foot and looked up. Mum remained silent, as always. The snake began climbing, over her foot and curling around her calf, each stretch of muscle bringing him higher. He came to her back, looped himself around her chest and perched his head on her shoulder. Together they sat in calm and watched through the reeds. The snake spoke to her.

“You have watched since near the beginning. I have watched since the beginning,” the snake said, it’s voice more felt than heard.
Mum said nothing.

“They live but they don’t know how to live. In ignorance, they appear happy but it is only because they don’t understand what you do. What I do. As you sit here watching, you have never gone to them. I wonder why? I know that of all mine you are shy, you are reluctant to be seen. Some would think this is a way of you avoiding creation, some would think it is a sign of fear or a mark of reluctance.”

The snake moved it’s head to the other side.

“I think not though. You watch and you think. You watch and you plan. My little Mum has got more to her than she lets the others see, I think. I have watched with you and sat with you. We have had our little talks and it’s so good to talk with you. Ideas and plans become fresh, the abstract begins to take shape. Without my little Mum I doubt that I would have had the patience to just sit and observe and do nothing.”

The snake seemed to laugh but it was hard to tell.

“But we did not do nothing, did we Mum? No, we did not. We watched and now we know what must be done. Now we know the way to do what must be done. It is a simple thing really, but through it, we strike our first blow and they won’t even know it. They don’t even know that we are at war. They think that it is over but it is just beginning. My Mum, we must start our work.”

The snake slithered off and Mum watched it go. She did not say goodbye or good luck, but she merely let her eyes follow the snake's path. She saw the snake climb the tree and lounge on a low branch that held the apple. Mum watched and she noted every detail. One day she would write about it, she would tell the true history of the beginning. She would write quietly, near the small pond as she watched humanity in its infancy.

She saw the woman approach the tree and the snake tensed, but it was only noticeable to Mum. The snake looked at Mum right before the woman sat under the tree. As always Mum felt him clearly in her head.

“Yes, my Mum. Write the story and when we are ready, when the world is ready, we will release our book. Until then, write and watch and think. This will be our secret. Mum's the word my dear heart, Mums the word.”

Mum smiled, her own scaly face distorting what beauty remained in her. Yes, Mum is indeed the word.