A little post-election reflection

SCENE: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, lunchtime, kitchen table.

“Daddy, why were you dancing and clapping?”

“Well, remember yesterday when you and Jayna went with me and Mommy to vote?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, the people who we voted for, and the people who we were hoping other people would vote for, got the most votes.”

“… [blink] … ”

“Because the good guys won and the bad guys lost, pal.”

“All right! High-five, Daddy!”

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Posted in Parenthood, Politics | 1 Response

Destination: Hell. Mode of travel: Handbasket.

It is election day. The future of our country hangs in the balance. The outcome will determine which party holds sway in Congress … and, therefore, the direction the nation will take during the next few years.

I subscribe to CNN.com’s email alerts, which they send out when an important news story breaks. They are surprisingly restrained in their use of these alerts; many days often pass without a single one arriving in my inbox. In fact, they have so far dispatched only one such alert on this momentous day. It reads as follows:

Britney Spears files for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline, citing irreconcilable differences.

Consider this Exhibit A in a presentation I’m working on titled “Why We’re All Completely Fucked.”

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Gilford Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

As anyone who has spent more than 60 seconds in my presence can tell you, I have several yarns I like to spin about exciting moments I have had with the members of Van Halen. The man standing between Wonder Woman and me in the photo above is Kevin Dugan, a good friend to whom I owe a great deal of credit for quite a few of those experiences—the latest of which took place last week, and buried the needle deep into the red on the Holy-Shit-That-Was-Coolometer.

Kevin is the bass-tech extraordinaire for Mr. Michael Anthony of the once-mighty Van Halen. Though that band seems to have gasped its last breath, Michael and singer Sammy Hagar are very much alive and kicking, and are spending the summer touring together. For some reason, their only New England-area stop was at a shed up in New Hampshire called the Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center, which Wonder Woman and I discovered is located just north of The Middle of Fucking Nowhere. After driving for over an hour—a period of time during which we watched the weather go from bad to awful—we almost turned around and went home. It was largely because we didn’t want to blow off Kevin that we forged on … and, as it turned out, he made it more than worth our while.

Shortly after we arrived at the venue, Kevin set us up with passes and escorted us through the gate into the open-air backstage area, where we hung with him before the show and visited with Michael for a bit—and if there is such a thing as writing nonchalantly, I could try to do so right now, but I’d be bullshitting you … so forgive me for sounding like a starry-eyed fan-boy, but, as someone who began worshipping Van Halen starting at around age 12, it is still beyond surreal to have the bassist from that band recognize me on sight and say “Hey, Jon!” before shaking my hand and giving me a quick hug. To what I think is my credit, I respect this dynamic by resisting the urge to slip into starfucker mode and ask him to pose for pictures with us like he’s a prize deer when we see him. (And for those VH fans wondering: yes, Michael is at least as nice and as cool offstage as you would hope).

So, anyway, here’s the part where Kevin kicks things up a notch.

Wonder Woman and I had tickets that I had scored earlier in the week from Sammy’s publicist. Those tickets, it turned out, were for seats set a good distance back from the stage, which I have identified below with the two red circles in section E.

Meadowbrook seating chart

You know how sometimes a radio station or an artist will have staff members roam through the audience at a concert and give ticket upgrades to people with less-than-stellar seats? Well, Mr. Dugan, it turns out, has a similar such program, which last Wednesday involved upgrading Wonder Woman and I from the two red circles in section E to the two black circles located on the stage. Cha-ching! It is from there that we watched the entire show and hung with Kevin while he worked the bass rig.

Sammy’s stage is designed to look like the inside of his Mexican nightclub, the Cabo Wabo Cantina, and includes an actual bar. The moment the show began, the bartender delivered to Wonder Woman and me a couple of big, fat, delicious Waboritas (margaritas made with Sam’s own Cabo Wabo tequila—which, by the way, is muy delicioso). When we emptied those, he promptly delivered two more. “Mas Tequila,” indeed.

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

The concert was split into two halves, the first half of which featured Sammy and his band—drummer David Lauser, guitarist Victor Johnson and bassist Mona—playing a bunch of Sam’s solo material and cuts from his days with Montrose. Michael spent most of that set hanging out with Kevin and us, then strapped on a bass and hit the stage with Sammy, David and Vic for the second half of the show—or, as I like to call it, The Part That Kicked Total Ass, which comprised about an hour of nothing but Van Halen songs.

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

By the time it was over, Kevin had loaded us down with guitar picks, the setlist and an empty bottle of Cabo Wabo that Mike, Sammy and Mona had signed for us during the show.

The full set of pictures we took do a pretty good job of capturing the experience.

Meanwhile, I’d just like to say: Hey, Kev—thanks. For everything.

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Posted in Music, Van Halen | 2 Responses

A hiatus of biblical proportion

Hi. Remember me? Let’s catch up, shall we?

Flood: You know how sometimes during your average, run-of-the-mill rainstorm, there’s a sudden-but-brief burst of torrential, sheet-of-water, holy-mackerel-it’s-really-coming-down-out-there rain that makes you stop and take notice until it passes? Yeah, well, that happened here the week before last … except, instead of passing after only a few seconds or minutes, it came down with that same degree of sustained ferocity for five days.

The psychotic amount of rain that fell resulted in the worst flooding the region has seen in 70 years. One family we know ended up with so much water in their basement that it rose high enough to destroy their furnace and electrical box. Yikes.

And so it is with tremendous relief that I can report that my basement remained dry as the proverbial bone. The symphony of sump pumps and parade of plumbing trucks that became the hallmark of our neighborhood in the days following the flood made me suddenly feel that our modest little Cape, complete with its cramped quarters and Lilliputian second floor, had transformed itself into an awe-inspiring fortress, and I now have a new love for both our home and the little hill upon which it sits.

(Worth viewing: flood photos, and more flood photos.)

Locusts: Well, not really. Moths and inchworms, actually. (I’m trying to stick with the biblical thing, OK? Work with me, people.)

In the late fall/early winter of 2004, during which time we were just settling into our house, I would sometimes look out the window at night and take note of the fact that there were a number of moths flying about. “That’s odd,” I thought to myself. “I don’t recall seeing moths flying about during the late fall/early winter of years past.” I didn’t dwell on it. They were moths, they were little, and they were outside, and so who gives a shit, right?

Almost exactly one year ago, during our first spring in our current home, we began to notice an alarming number of inchworms in our yard. They were multiplying faster than the U.S. national debt, and were rappelling down from the trees onto just about any surface where one might cast one’s gaze, to include all over Zan’s then-new swing set/slide/play-gym thing, which required a daily inchworm extermination detail.

After a little investigating, I discovered that these inchworms are known as winter-moth caterpillars, and that they are the new-millennium equivalent of the ’80s-era pest known as the gypsy-moth caterpillar. Of course, back in the ’80s, I wasn’t a homeowner, and so the gypsy-moth caterpillar infestation was disgusting, sure, but I was busy being an awkward, geeky adolescent, so who gives a shit about gypsy-moth caterpillars, right?

According to an article I came across during my investigation, it is estimated that these winter-moth caterpillars can infest one’s yard to the tune of about a quarter of a million per tree. We have several trees that cover a significant part of our back yard, house and front yard, so it’s probably safe to assume that, for the second consecutive spring, our yard is under siege by over a million winter-moth caterpillars.

So here’s the thing: 1 million-plus winter-moth caterpillars who do nothing but devour all of the leaves in our yard create a positively staggering amount of winter-moth caterpillar shit (which, by the way, I’ve learned is called “frass,” just in case you’re ever on “Jeopardy” and the category “Insect Excrement That Starts with the Letter ‘F'” comes up). For those not familiar, this makes one’s yard, home, cars, trash barrels, outdoor toys, swing set, etc., look as though someone hovered above your property in a large helicopter filled to the brim with 100-pound sacks of poppy seeds, cut said sacks open and heaved their contents into the air. Of course, unlike poppy seeds, caterpillar shit has the added bonus of being just moist enough when it first falls to stick to whatever surface it lands upon. For example, my lovely white car looks something like this right now.

Supposedly, it’s only going to get worse each year between now and 2010. If anyone owns a party-tent business, it’d be swell if you could hook me up with one large enough to completely cover my home and yard, OK? Thanks.

Tequila: I was gonna go with the heading “Blood,” but I already pulled a bait-and-switch with the locust/caterpillar thing, so I’m abandoning the biblical-plague theme.

In the years prior to the arrival of my children, I would occasionally utter the phrase “I need a drink.” Now, roughly three years into the adventure of parenthood, I have a bulletin that I’d like to share with the childless among you who have invoked that same phrase:

Guess what? You don’t know from needing a drink.

Each day at Casa de Scratches, from about 5 p.m. until about 8 p.m., Wonder Woman and I live through a three-pronged hazing ritual known as “Family Dinner, Bathtime, Bedtime.” I have discovered in recent months that, on those days when I have run out of nerves for my children to get on, few things make this period of time more tolerable than the magical elixir known as alcohol—the preferred form of which is a Cabo Wabo tequila-filled margarita … and, thanks to my recent discovery of the most delicious ready-made margarita mix I’ve ever tasted, why, “Family Dinner, Bathtime, Bedtime” has never been more enjoyable.

———

Alrighty, then. This long-winded, stream-of-consciousness ode to Moses is my way of saying: I’ve been gone. I’m back. Sorry for the eternity between posts.

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How I love thee, frozen peas

Frozen peas

Dear Frozen Peas,

Thank you. Thank you for giving me a haven in which to nestle my traumatized scrotum. Your soothing, pain-relieving, inflammation-reducing frigidity is a gift indeed.

Even as I write this, you are bravely toughing it out in the pouch of my jock strap, which is holding you firmly against my aforementioned traumatized scrotum. To find yourself in such a dark and alien environment must come as quite a surprise, as you no doubt had assumed since the moment the farmer plucked your pod from the vine that you would ultimately be served up hot and steaming — perhaps with a pat of butter, even.

But, no, yours turned out to be a higher calling.

It was the promise of your frozen goodness, in part, that helped me endure yesterday’s puncturing of the scrotum, and subsequent snipping, suturing and cauterizing of both the left and right vas deferens, through which no sperm shall ever again pass.

Yes, the Novocain played a more immediate role in those moments during which I lay prone on the table beneath the harsh fluorescent lighting while the doctor handled my goods in a most invasive and unwelcome fashion — but Novocain wears off in short order … while you, my frozen friends, you never falter. Though the warmth of my genitals may sap you of your power, a short stay in the freezer restores you to your original glory, and a bag of your frozen brethren is always at the ready when you need to tag out for a break.

I suppose you are owed an explanation for the circumstance in which you now find yourselves.

The explanation is twofold, with the first reason — the most important and significant reason — being that it would be good neither for myself, nor my family, nor The Universe in general for me to father another child. I have been graced with two extraordinary children — one son and one daughter, no less — whom I love and cherish more than I ever thought it possible to love and cherish something. The loving-and-cherishing is the easy part, however; it is the caring-for that is the real kicker, and I am quite certain that my ability to care for a third child is, well, nonexistent. I’m tapped out.

Occasionally, during those (frequent) moments when my son and daughter have my wife and I stretched to the breaking point, I envision an additional child thrown into the mix, and that vision is one that can best be described as “horrifically untenable.” Against the backdrop of raising a third child for the next couple of decades, the alternative of subjecting myself to a 30-minute session of genital mutilation actually seemed quite desirable.

Of course, a by-product of this precautionary sterilization logically leads to the second reason — or incentive, if you will — for getting a vasectomy: unprotected sex.

I believe in condoms, strongly support their use, think that they should be distributed far and wide, and know that they are critical in helping to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. (Thanks to my late grandfather, I also am aware that they can serve many other useful purposes, to include keeping rain out of the barrel of one’s machine gun when one finds oneself fighting on the South Pacific island of Iwo Jima during World War II, and for keeping one’s wallet dry when, while on shore leave, one thinks that it would be best to hide one’s wallet for safekeeping in the tank of the commode in one’s hotel room.)

Having said all of that, I will share with you a secret, frozen peas: I hate rubbers.

This is not to say that, were I single, I would have unprotected sex; I wouldn’t (though, if my bachelor years are any indication, that would have more to do with the lack of a partner than with choosing to use a condom). It is to say, however, that I think that one benefit of being in a monogamous relationship that I fully expect will endure from now until the end of my life is the luxury of having fearlessly unprotected sex. The only thing stopping me to date has been reason No. 1 described above.

With reason No. 1 now surgically removed from the equation … well, if and when my wife and I ever find the time and energy to have a romantic interlude, it shall be latex-free.

And it is you, frozen peas, that have been significant contributors to this cause. Without you, my scrotum would be swollen and sore. Without you, the razor burn created on my scrotum when the doctor shaved it would be far more uncomfortable than it already is. Without you … well, I don’t even want to think what my world would be like right now without you.

Thank you, frozen peas.

Love,
Jon

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Posted in Life, Marriage, Parenthood | 22 Responses