There was a time where I had a full head of hair, had no idea what anxiety was, and I never thought I’d experience what a panic attack was. This was before I had kids. Sure, there’s nothing like having a fantastic night where the dinner conversation is fun and enlightening, and that rolls smoothly into family movie night, and afterwards there’s this calming, loving feeling I experience while saying goodnight to the kids as they retire to their beds… but that’s few and far from the non-stop chaos that is home life. My kids ages range from 10 years old to 22. There is never a dull moment. Someone wore someone’s sweater to school without permission and nothing short of immediate and absolute capital punishment will resolve this issue. Phone charger cables complete with the charging block have been removed from one bedroom and plugged into the wall of another bedroom, but “I don’t know who” must have taken it. Food isn’t safe here. It doesn’t matter if it’s in bulk, frozen, raw or brought back from date night and my name is written all over the carton in so much permanent marker the food becomes a biohazard; it will be devoured in record time with the carton left in the fridge like it was never touched. I can be standing in the kitchen and never even hear the refrigerator door open and close, but one of my kid-cat burglars have claimed it to be their own and will then have the nerve to claim literal starvation five minutes before bed. My time is their time and it’s a lesson I apparently just need to learn. Homework, dinner, baths, haircuts. Kid forgot their backpack? No problem, I’ll drop what I’m doing and run right up to the school! Doctors appointments, car problems, laundry, chores, dog walks… (I’m exhausted and those are just things I dealt with today!)
Everyone in my family has been to the hospital at least once. I’ve been to the hospital with my kids for illnesses, broken bones and for other reasons. There have been some scary drives to the hospital, but nothing too tragic– in and out in a couple of hours, usually. Well, there was that time when I spent 5 days in the hospital with my mom and, well, let’s just say she did the absolute opposite of what one could do to get better. I’m sure, if she could, she’d argue that that was tragic. And it was. Maybe more so for me, seeing as how I actually have memories from those awful 5 days and she doesn’t. Mostly because she died. So yeah, I didn’t expect those last few sentences to come out, but that’s what happens when you start writing. Anyway, there have been some visits to the hospital, but not for me. Not in the sense that I’ve been the one wearing the gown that covers the front and exposes the rear.
At 45 years of age, the odds of me being hospitalized for something is increasingly growing in your favor, if you’re into that sort of thing, you voyeuristic sicko! I’m thirty pounds overweight, I have high blood pressure, and I like to sample the finest of hooches (to be clear, I mean booze and not hoochies… though see #6 if that’s what you’re looking for) in my evenings. I rarely order a salad. I’m a firm believer that bacon should be had every morning with breakfast. In fact, bacon should just be named breakfast! I’m not saying I dip my three tiered chocolate cake in gravy, but my eating habits should change before my arteries burst and coil like a cartoon shotgun barrel backfiring. I’m no longer the spry, fairly athletic gent I was in my younger years and I’m likely just one or two more Michigan winters from falling in my driveway and needing the assistance of hospice for my remaining days on this earth. So if drama and death is what entertains you, I’m not saying it’s out of the realm of possibility.
This can be looked at one of two ways. 1.) Things will keep going splendidly and we’ll continue to love each other and get along, while learning how to successfully blend our family or things will crash and burn which brings me to number two. 2.) As anyone who’s been around for almost a half century can attest, relationships either come or they go. Most of them GO. I spent quite some time being happily-frustratedly-emasculatedly married, to the point of ignorant numbness. Once that epic dumpster fire of codependency and heartache ended, I found myself in the cesspool that is the internet dating world. After a few years of experiencing what can only be described as a level above masturbating with a cheese grater while using salt as lube, one of the few things I did learn was that people have no problem coming and going out of your life. Any reason is a good reason, and if my girlfriend smartens up, she’ll find any reason to go, too… which is why I keep her on a healthy diet of love bombing and use secret taunting tactics. See, there’s this guy Greg that’s always leaving notes on her windshield and breaking into our house to cut the crotch of her underwear out. At least, we think it’s Greg. But I assure her that it’s likely happening simply because she’s amazing and beautiful, but I keep her to one shower a week, just in case that nut job wants to get up close and personal… (Okay, Greg doesn’t exist and none of that actually happens… but it could, so it’s best to always be prepared). Clearly, something is wrong with her if she still thinks of me as a catch!
(Note to reader: She is 100% aware of how insane I am and she’ll likely read this before it even gets published so if the joke about Greg is still there, then she signed off on it. Just wait till you get to #7)
When you spend every week podcasting for almost 15 years, one tends to lose what you should or shouldn’t talk about. It all becomes content. Some of it I hold on to until I’ve been able to process the situation, problem, or issue. But it all comes out at some point. I’ve been told that there is a line and you shouldn’t cross that line and some things are meant to not be talked about. I disagree. When I die, none of it will matter anyway so why take it to the grave with me? Everything I write or talk about is real and truthful. It may be wearing tighter bedazzled jeans, and told with colorful language and a comedic flair, but I aim to entertain… and I hope that I do.
Most days I question whether I’m a successful parent. Do I work too much? Am I too hard on my kids? Am I too lenient? Does my teenage libido drive my girlfriend crazy? Maybe I should be Poly and have 4 homes on a cal-de-sac and swallow viagra like candy because clearly having 5 kids and 1 girlfriend (6 kids, counting her daughter) in one house isn’t enough to drive me crazy! They do say that it takes a village to raise a family! But I digress, I see everything through rose colored glasses and there isn’t anything in my life that’s not worth ridiculing or deserving of a full scale assault using mockery and self deprecating humor! My flaws come in all shapes and sizes. My shame comes in one shape, and I’ve been told on multiple occasions that it’s not about its size! So much like my girlfriend, ya gotta accept me, flaws and all!
Like I said, I’m honest, I’m flawed and I love telling stories. I’m not married to any of the people I’ve previously dated and none of them are even in my life anymore, so why not share with you a few embarrassing stories of my own. Maybe a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t date on Tinder will be thrown in for good measure. For instance, there was this one lady, a nurse, who was a strict catholic, that was actually a really sweet person. She went to church every Sunday (seems strict enough to me) and stressed that whomever were to be in a relationship with her would have to go to church as well. She also liked to drink the blood of Christ, if you know what I mean, till she blacked out, nightly. She must have been more of an old testament strict Catholic? You’d think this was a red flag for me, but Freud would just say that it just made me miss my Mother. Even when she went full Amityville Horror and started talking to the spirit in her house, while I was sitting next to her, I stayed. There may have been a discussion of me being on the receiving end of some kind of oral pleasure and I figured I was safe as long as her head was doing more of a bobbing for apples motion and less of a rotating 360 degrees and chanting in tongues kind of motion.
Then there was the man hating podcaster who’s podcast was literally about not trusting and then hating most of the men in her life. I found her to be a pretty cool person with some really funny life stories, but with me being a man and all, it seemed destined for us to not even remain friends. There was also a woman who was tattooed from her neck to her toes, with several piercings to complete the look that you’re imagining without me having to be any more descriptive than what a Pornhub search would likely land you. She was shy and cute, but something seemed off the few times I saw her. A half year later things became a bit clearer after hearing her southern belle voice call into the local morning radio show, where I learned that she, if it was indeed her, likely had a secret husband! To be clear, it wasn’t a secret she was just learning about. It was a secret that I was just learning about. Though if we go even further into the future from that moment, I would learn via Instagram that she was finally coming out as gay. This of course became the second confirmation of many that made me question if I was possibly some kind of lesbian converting Good Luck, Chuck.
Just over 10 years ago my girlfriend Kyle went for a walk with her dog. She didn’t know it, but that day she’d become a statistic for texting and driving. One of her students (she was an English teacher at the time) came barreling over a hill with his phone in his hand, double checking he wasn’t leaving anyone unread. “Allegedly”. (For legal purposes) Apparently, this twat waffle had 100% of his focus on his FOMO and not having his hands on 10 and 2 while keeping both eyes on the road… so through no fault of his own, of course, he veered off road far enough to hit his teacher so hard, he buckled her body like she was a collapsible push puppet! But before he could be bothered to hit the brakes to release his homework-giving hood ornament, she rolled up the hood and through the windshield, where I can only imagine a quick “How Do Ya Do” transpired, followed by selfies being taken. Then, Captain Lead Foot slammed on the brakes, sending his English Patient flying through the air like a game winning field goal, only instead of bouncing off the uprights, she hit a tree. She was high enough in the tree where she had to bounce from limb to limb till she finally was stopped by what can only be described as: Earth! She then quickly stood up, because she is always the first person to make sure everyone is comfortable in her world, and made a few failed attempts to just walk it off. She was trying to walk off what I can only imagine were countless cuts and bruises, a completely destroyed shoulder and a broken back. Oh, and there’s the whole brain damage diagnosis, but I don’t think those test results came back till after she was brought back to LIFE!! Cut to her becoming an ordained Immortal by the heavens above. She’s had countless surgeries, relearned to walk and talk again, had a miracle baby and put herself though the most extensive PhD program she could find just to prove to herself that she still had her smarts. Today, she is known as Dr. Producer Kyle. Well, that’s what I call her when we podcast, but if I could be serious for one moment, she is one of the smartest and most caring people I have ever met. She is an inspiration to me and she’s amazing with what she does with her kids and the whole school district she works for. But let’s not forget, she is also the most adorable, accident prone, short-term memory GONE, forgetful-absent minded professor I’d never trust my 401k with, but still one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever loved. Let’s face it, it was her or the Beezelbub conjuring exorcist lady, so I think I picked the right Dr. to keep playing doctor with! Also, I would like to admit that I am fully aware that she has the previously mentioned accident and my only excuse for my brain damage is that I was born this way. Actually, there is more truth to that than I’d like to admit. Let me just say that my 9 months in the womb was very similar to a worm’s life in a tequila bottle.
“Don’t put your poop in the microwave!” I actually once had to say, out loud, to one of my children, over speaker phone, while at work. It was immediately followed by “It’s not even my poop, it’s Emma’s” who was A.)Not old enough (maybe between 1 to 2 years old) to reach the microwave, even with a stepping stool, and B.) the one learning to poop in the potty chair… which in hindsight makes the most sense. So, why was her older sister (6 or 7 years old) transporting a bowl full of stool through the kitchen, with the intent on releasing electromagnetic radiation particles throughout it? Maybe it was some kind of science experiment? I don’t know. Look, I’m all for kids being curious, but let’s leave toxic waste where it belongs. That sage advice seems to have carried throughout the household from that day forth, because there hasn’t been any experimentation with poop since.
These days, though, it’s less fecal matter advice I’m handing out and more financial advice. I’m trying to teach my older ones to SAVE as much as they can, while living at home before moving out, while teaching my younger ones the meaning of hard work and earning every dollar they make. Though I think the odds of them becoming Youtube famous or Influencers is greatly against them, they would ask “what do I know?” I’m just an old man that doesn’t get today’s Youth! Maybe, I’m full of shit but at least I have a clean microwave and a savings account!
Since I was a little older than sperm, I’ve been a massive, MASSIVE, movie geek. My Dad used to take me to the movies every Sunday. Maybe it’s just one of the things Dads do when they get divorced. There was always a betting pool between my brother and sisters as to how long he’d be able to stay awake before he’d zonk out for a nap in the middle of the theater. This was before THX and Dolby surround sound became what it is today, but a movie theater is still an odd place to catch up on your sleep, I always thought. That was just the beginning of me being raised on movies! That’s not a complaint. I’m fluent in film, in both movie quotes and the three act film formula. I love everything about movies and TV. I love the early days of casting and seeing what filmmakers are attached to a specific project. I love being surprised by great dialogue and plot twists. It’s rare that a day goes by that I don’t get lost in a television show or film. It’s rare that I don’t share that experience with someone. One of my favorite things in life is experiencing an older film (to me) that is brand new to my kids. Watching it through their eyes is the closest thing I’ll have to seeing it again for the first time. Not all of my kids are big movie geeks. My oldest could care less about Star Wars (she’s currently up for adoption but at damn near twenty-three, there doesn’t seem to be any takers). She does love the Marvel movies, though, and is a huge Disney buff. Though I can’t take credit for that. That was all my Dad. He was a huge Disney buff and, strangely, didn’t sleep through any of those films. The three children in the middle are passive viewers. Some things strike their fancy over others, but they don’t live and breathe for this amazing art form. But unlike the middle three, my youngest couldn’t be more like me if he were my clone. Well, on the inside anyway. When I was 10 years old, I had glasses, a full head of red hair that left me with zero love prospects on the playground and I was lucky enough to acquire a school bully that, looking back, he must have been groomed by Hell’s Angels or raised in the stereotypical gay bar, like the one from all the Police Academy movies. He was always covered in black leather and wore those leather gloves with the fingers cut out and they had silver spikes all over them. It was the mid 80’s, I don’t know what else to say…
My son has neither my red headed step child looks nor the neglect that usually came along with that character trait, but like me, he loves it all! Star Wars, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Action movies and even a bit of Horror. So, I’m taking that as a win in the parenting done good column!
10 . I actually take being a father very seriously
I can’t say that I’ve always taken being a parent seriously. Not that I was a passive parent, but up until my divorce, I was gone. A lot. It’s something that to this day I think was my biggest mistake. I wasn’t gone in the “I’m going to grab a pack of smokes and didn’t return for days” kind of way. I just worked a lot. That’s something that I’m sure I’ll delve into a bit deeper in the weeks and years to come, but I was always forced, for countless reasons, to be the primary breadwinner for the family. When I divorced, though, I was fortunate enough to have just found myself in a job that paid all the bills and then some, and still allowed me time to be home. Without having any back up, I had to recalibrate and reassess how I was going to be an active father moving forward. There were a lot of hurdles that my kids had to adjust to that first year or so. One of my daughters couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t a huge fan of her taking a leap out of her window and jumping into an Uber in the middle of the night before she was even 16 years of age. Another liked to challenge me on bed time because I always worked nights up until then, so me putting some structure and rules into their lives wasn’t something they were used to. I like hanging out with my kids. I always had, but having more time with them allowed me to actually enjoy the people they were becoming and hopefully have more of an influence. I don’t think I’m always successful and that’s something that doesn’t always sit right when I’m alone with my thoughts. But I don’t think I’d be a very good father if I wasn’t able to be a bit introspective and always challenge myself to be better.
So, what’s on your mind?