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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Early Bird My Foot!

Dear Dad,

               You know how I know that spring is here?  It’s the trail of ants in my kitchen.  I came home from work today and my wife informed me that we have ants.  We get them every year.  I spray the perimeter of the house with a mild insecticide and the problem goes away.  It’s easy but tedious work that always turns into a day of honey-do’s.

                Today was my birthday though, and I didn’t want to work so I told the missus what I always tell her.  “Honey, I’ll take care of it on the very next nice weekend.”  I of course was referring to the weather, and since it snowed today, I figured I had bought myself some time.  The problem is I used this same excuse at least twenty times this winter.  The list of things I am going to have to do on the next sunny Saturday is getting pretty extensive.  I sat down and began devising a plan to further avoid all this work.

                Don’t get me wrong I love plying the handyman trade all around the house.  All men do, but we like to do it on our own terms.  Men don’t work well with deadlines.  I like to just wake up one day and decide, TODAY I AM GOING TO CLEAN THE GUTTERS.  When it’s my idea I have fun doing it.  Don’t believe me?  Think about it.  I get to climb on the roof, get dirty, live dangerously, and of course I have a high pressure water sprayer.  It has so much power that last year I had to replace a small section of gutter.  It was AWESOME.

               As I sat pondering this dilemma my eyes fell upon an old ‘Bass Pro’ catalog.  Quickly becoming distracted by the colorful lures and deer antler shaped furniture I drifted to sleep.  Two things occurred to me in my sleep.  The first is that I am finally old enough to enjoy an afternoon nap with out being hung over and the second thing was the simple solution to my problem.  As it turns out I realized that all men have this exact same problem and invented the fix for it years ago. 

               Fish bite ALL DAY long.  They bite all night long too.  All men know this, it’s why fishing trips last so long.  No self respecting man gives up fishing at ten in the morning because it’s not early anymore.  Hundreds of years ago, retired men working Saturdays in their wives’ flower gardens got together and created the legend - “The early bird gets the worm.”  They used this slogan to dupe women into thinking that if their husbands didn’t leave at the crack of dawn then the fishing trip would be ruined.  It’s perfect!  Why it works I don’t understand.  Birds eat worms all day long, and the word fish isn’t in the saying at all.  I guess older generations were smarter, because those guys made it work.  All winter long we promise to fix the chain link fence and spread the mulch.  We say we’ll spray for pests and do the spring garage cleaning, and we say we’ll do all these things on the first nice weekends.  Women are natural caretakers so they don’t really want us out in crappy weather anyway.  The ruse works.  Then on that fateful sunny Saturday, husbands everywhere slip out of the house before the sun (and the wife) comes up.

                Sorry dear, the early bird gets the worm, and then we don’t come back until dinner.  After dinner it’s dark.  Can’t work in the dark.  Sunday is church, brunch and visit the in-laws.  Thank you old men from history for being so dang smart.  Last weekend I actually spent a partly sunny day organizing my fishing gear and building a rack for my rods and reels.  I was way too busy doing that to get out and do any other work.  Now I am fully prepared to get on with some procrastination and avoidance.

               Dad, you might want to kill me for putting our secrets in print but the message to get across here is this.  Ladies need to let us think the work is our Idea and not only will it get done faster but we’ll have fun doing it.  Oh sure there will be the occasional emergency room trip caused by some over zealous power tool usage but the work will get done.  Don’t assign us work because we are way to good at avoiding it.  We will create a story so powerful it becomes a saying that stands the test of time.  WE ARE THE MEN!!
Early bird my foot, come on!  You actually bought that crap!  Now don’t go getting righteous on us ladies, I believe there is another saying about getting to the retail outlet store early also, because all the good deals will be gone.  Come on!  We’ve been in retail clothing stores.  They have four thousand of each shirt, skirt and flowered flip flop on the racks plus extras stored in the back.  Tit for tat.

               Now while I don’t mind ruining lies for you, I would appreciate it if my wife never read this letter.  I really do have some fishing to do.  Thanks.

                        Your scheming low down sneaky son.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Grills

Dear Dad,

                March is here and we have had our first week in the seventy to eighty degree range.  My wife has begun to drop hints about barbecuing, and she is making promises to the kids.  I am probably going to grill some burgers and dogs tomorrow night, just to break in the grill after it’s long winters nap.  In preparation I’ll have to clean the grill inside and out, check and probably replace the propane tank.  All this work for hotdogs and cheeseburgers seems a little crazy and uncharacteristic for me but I like to give my grill a little spring training every year.  You can’t expect your grill to wake up and just knock a brat or steak out of the park, you have to coach it a little.  Send it back to the minors for a day and let it work out any issues it may have.

                All types of grills have their shortcomings and a lot of people scoff at the propane grill calling them less manly and complaining that they can taste the propane.  These same people use microwaves all winter long, so they’re pretty much full of crap.  Besides the charcoal grill is a single mans tool specifically designed to entertain the ladies.  Oh yes, that’s what I said!  Entertain the Ladies.  First the young buck invites them over.  He reduces the standard female inhibitions with alcohol, he arranges the briquettes showing her that he could have been an engineer if he wanted to.  He lights the fire with a match, maybe singeing the hairs on the back of his hand and earning sympathy and hopefully some nursing as well.  Now he gets a half hour of guaranteed time she has to spend with him.  That’s thirty minutes of beer drinking and chit chat all aimed at one goal.  Then he gets to dazzle her with his culinary skills and feed her as she has never been fed before.  If he’s smart he ensures the coals stay hot by adding some more right after the food is done.  This way when dinner is over he can roast her a marshmallow over the white coals and make her a smore.  (That is a freebie for all you youngin’s taking notes.)  Ah yes the charcoal grill is an excellent tool not to be underestimated by young men or for that matter by the young ladies.

                 After marriage and children (4 in my case) a man is in a hurry when cooking out.  First you have to do the dogs for the children.  Then the real food for the adults.  There is more food to make so you need a larger grill.  It doesn’t work to use a charcoal grill to try and hide outside and avoid household chores.  A wife is smarter than that and she just sends the children out to play.  She sticks her head out the door and casually says something like ‘honey keep an eye on them while your staring at those coals.’  Listen close enough after the door shuts and you can hear her laughing softly as she slides into a fresh drawn bubble bath.

                 Needless to say ‘THE MAN’ cannot be fooled.  I purchased a large propane grill several years ago.  Now I produce barbecued animal flesh at an assembly line speed.  I’ve always maintained that married men strive to do everything (except one thing) as fast as humanly possible.  It’s an excellent grill, and if you use sauces and seasonings and good meat then that is what you will taste.  I recommend hickory.  If you're tasting propane then either you're doing something wrong or you need to see a doctor about your mutated taste buds.

                All this barbeque talk reminds me of an incident early in my marriage.  I always used the same Webber grill and employed all the tactics previously mentioned.  Those tactics will work on a wife too if you're still newly weds with one child or less, and you replace the beer with margaritas.  You need a little more kick now, because she knows that if you get what your wanting, she might have to go through labor again.  I picked up a travel size mini grill for free at a garage sale one day while I was on my way home.  When I got home it was a pleasant enough day, so I figured I would use it instead of my classic Webber.  I set it down on the deck and loaded and lit the coals.  I wondered why it wouldn’t come with legs.  Seemed to me that you wouldn’t want to set a grill on a plastic deck table.  I just assumed that the mini grill was manufactured not to conduct heat to the lip the grill’s bowl rested on.  I walked away from it and went inside to my television.  I’ve been married too long to employ the chit chat tactic and I was out of margarita mix.  Ten minutes later my wife came running into the room telling me the deck was on fire.  I rushed outside and picked up the mini fire starter from hell.  I set it on top of my Webber grill and turned to stare at the perfect sphere of scorched deck where the travel p.o.s. had been sitting moments before.  I started swearing and grumbling, I blamed the manufacturer for not putting a larger lip around the bottom of the stupid thing.  I yelled out to the heavens “No wonder it was FREE!”  I shouted to my wife “There should be legs or something on this dang thing!”  Later that night after we ate and the stupid defective grill had cooled down, I carried it down to the trash.  I was even more upset when I noticed that because I had set it on top of the Webber, I also melted the plastic knob of my only other grill.  I felt the same way about that Webber grill as Tom Hanks felt about his volley ball.


                 As I turned away from my trashcan to head back inside I saw the underside of the nemesis grill.

               There folded inwards, were three extendable legs.

               It’s been years and my wife won’t let me forget about it, neither will the deck.  It reminds me every summer day by winking a giant perfectly spherical black eye at me. 

               It’s OK though, my sweet wife has given me permission to build a new, larger deck as soon as I can afford it.  What she doesn’t know are my plans to drop a hot tub into the middle of the new deck.  Oh yeah!  Who needs tactics when you’ve got a hot tub.  I’ll get to spend hours in hardware stores.  I’ll get to buy new tools and spend half a summer stretching that project out.  No diaper changing, no ‘honey do’ list. Just me, a hammer and my deck.  I also got to purchase my new baby, the propane giant that’s been feeding us for years now.  I can’t wait to attack my wife’s defenses with evenings spent in a hot tub.  So as you can see, even when I am not the smartest man, I AM STILL THE MAN!  Guys need to remember to turn their dumbest mistakes into the greatest of victories.  Also keep several fire extinguishers in the house.

                          Your singed & smoky, super crafty son.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Snagging the West

Dear Dad,

               I would like to break from tradition and talk about something a little broader than just my family and my successes in the realm of manhood.  I have an annual tradition coming up that is as important to me as opening day of deer season is to a hunter.  You know of course that I love to fish and I live very close to the Ozarks.  The Ozarks are a hilly place surrounded in mist.  ‘The Waltons’ lived there I think.  Nowadays the Ozarks are full of boozed up college kids and party yachts.  Fifty year old divorced men from Chicago with too much money, pounding down Busch beer and filling my lake with urine.  Still on the quiet side of the lake and on down past the damn in the rivers, we MEN gather to forage for food and entertainment.  There around the bend pointed south you will find me ‘THE MAN’ searching for the elusive.  I am of course talking about the great Spoonbill spring spawning.  Trout fishing is for weenies and city slickers.  If the fish doesn't weigh more than my children I’m throwing it back.  Snagging is what my friends and I do.  What is snagging you ask?  Let me explain.

               Missouri is a state populated primarily by the great-great-great grandchildren of lazy frontiersman. Few people can admit this, but it is wholly true.  A lot of people will talk about the outlaws that ran amuck around the state.  They will claim to be the descendants of Jesse James or Coleman Younger.  They will tell you that while he shot up New Mexico, Billy the kid spent his childhood in Missouri.  They will point out that Wyatt Earp grew up in Missouri and The Clantons he shot also were from Missouri.  They shout about Bonnie and Clyde and the hills that sheltered Ma and Pa Barker, Pretty Boy Floyd and Dillinger.  Well that is but a small percentage of the population, I assure you.  Most Missourians are far too lazy for bank robbing and such.  That is a lot of work. Let me tell you how Missouri actually came to be.  In the days of exploration and westward settlement, St. Louis was the ‘Gateway to the West.’  Settlers would travel by train to this burgeoning city and purchase the needed supplies to mount their expeditions.  From there they would set off across the Great Plains in search of the perfect piece of land.  They wanted nice flat land with black soil and plenty of clear water.  They searched for the blue skies and purple mountains majestic they sang about back east.  They wanted to toil and work and build their futures with their own two hands; or with the hands of their children who were building character.

               The people who settled the town I live in drove their wagons a mere one hundred and fifty miles. The land was hilly, but they were tired.  There was only an inch of red clay atop hard limestone, but their feet were already sore.  The water was muddy and brown and dangerously fast and large bodied, it tasted like limestone, but the sky was growing dark.  The weather changed every day and the only native wildlife were squirrels, opossum and raccoon.  Still they thought it tasted good with enough salt.  Salt they had plenty of, so they stopped forward progress, and declared themselves westerners.  One man made it an extra twenty miles and named his town California.  As if that would fool anyone.  I figure this is my ancestor.

               We hail from the ‘Show Me State.’ People always ask me what that means, they think it means that Missourians need proof of a thing before they will believe it.  That’s not true.  We believed we were in the wild west and there was irrefutable evidence against that position.  ‘Show Me’ means show me an easier way to do what those other states are doing.  We’re great at it.  Missouri, the land where the mobile home was born.  The beginning of moonshine and hillbillies.  The state where goats have almost completely replaced the lawnmower.  The land of the free, the home of fish that are caught with ease and eaten in great quantity.  I love it here.  I may never leave.

               Missourians have a rich and proud heritage of being lazy.  That is why we invented all these new ways to fish. We cast aside our fly rods and throw nets. Soon rods and reels too went away.  Even regular cat fishing became too tiresome, I mean you have to watch the tip of that rod all night long.  It’s exhausting! Jugging, Trot lines, limb lines and outright arm noodling replaced sportsmanlike fishing in this fine state. I love it!  There is nothing better than setting your lines or floating some jugs, taking a nap and then crossing your fingers and seeing what you've got.

               Now it is snagging season, it is time for me to get prepared. To snag the spoonbill or ‘paddlefish’ we still need rods and reels. We use very heavy rods rigged with salt water sized reels and tackle. We attach a large weight on the end of the line. Three giant treble hooks are spaced apart on the line behind the weight. Next, like police searching for a body in the river the lines are cast out from a boat and said boat is driven at three to five miles per hour. The forward motion of the boat pulls the lines trailing behind it off the river bottom. The cow like fish that hover in mid water eating plankton become ’snagged’ in the hooks and line. These poor fish don’t even have to be enticed to swallow bait. Oh sure every now and then you have to recast and the line is heavy. The lines will get caught on underwater obstacles and that is a hassle. If you do get a fish they are very hard to bring in weighing between thirty and one hundred and twenty pounds. It’s impossible to get rid of all the difficulties. Primarily though you just tool back and forth along the river or lake at a leisurely pace. It’s so easy it should be Illegal. Maybe we are outlaws but if so we are lazy ones. The season opened on the fifteenth and I am itching to get out there. Spoonbill is a delightfully good tasting white fish that goes great with batter and a deep fryer, (goes pretty good with beer too.) Wish me luck.

                        Your lazy countrified outlaw son.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Dear Dad,

               Your two boys are all grown up now. Two men spending their time doing manly things. There is a difference though between the family mans’ and the unhitched military mans’ activities. These differences slapped me in the face when my little brother came to visit me this past week. I had an assortment of things planned to occupy our time. We went to the shooting range, we went fishing on the second largest river in the country, we even visited the hardware store. Of course that last one was because my wife also had an assortment of things planned to occupy our time. Her list greatly resembled the list of things around the house I haven’t yet fixed. My brother also wanted us to devote some time to our favorite video games and a strategic ‘World War 2’ board game. He also wanted to get out and visit a bar, like he said ‘He’s’ still single. I had four days to make all these things happen.

               We went to the shooting range first. He had just gotten a new pistol and he wanted me to shoot it. I set him up with my favorite exercise. Three shots from three yards, three from seven, three from fifteen, and a final shot from twenty five yards out. It’s a great exercise for scoring targets and improving your ability. We both went through it once with our .40 caliber pistols. I walked towards the targets to see how we did. I hit seven out of ten. That’s not bad, that means I missed two at fifteen yards and the one at twenty five. Oh well, it was just the first set. I looked at my brothers target. There was only one hole in it. That means he missed twice at three yards. Ouch. I figured pistol marksmanship must not be too important in the Navy. He must have known what the results would be because he shuffled towards me with a sheepish grin on his face.

               ‘I think there is something wrong with the sights’ he said. I looked at him a little sideways, a different kind of grin on my face.

               ‘Let me see that thing’ I half laughed it and half growled. I feigned disgust as I snatched it out of his hands. I raised his gun and stepped towards a beer can on the ground. Yes, as unsafe as it sounds there are always beer cans on the ground at the gun range. It’s alright to have a drink at the range, just watch out for a man saying, ’Hey you guys watch this!’ If that happens set your beers down and leave. I loaded five rounds into the clip and let them chew on the beer can. When I was done there was just one gigantic hole in the top half of the can. Four out of five of my rounds hit the can in the exact same place. I AM THE MAN. I handed the gun back to my kid brother.

               ‘Seems to be OK to me.’ The smile on my face couldn’t have gotten any larger. It was a delicious moment and I let the sarcasm drip from my words. My brother is a man though and he took it in stride. I gave him some pointers I inherited from my friends and soon he was hitting the target as often as myself.

              We went fishing in my friends boat later that week. My brother learned what ‘jugging’ was. We taught him one of the laziest fishing methods there is. We tied lines to empty two liter bottles. Hooked them, baited them and sent them floating down the river, we floated after them nursing beers and soaking up the quiet. The way jugging works is simple. The line ties around the neck of the liter bottle or ‘jug’ and when you get a bite, the jug stands straight up and down in the water. Then you just motor over to it and pick it up. At one point in our river trip we stopped to bank the boat. A line was tossed to my brother so that he could tie the boat up. He hesitated and asked me how to tie it off.

               ‘Aren’t you in the Navy?’ I said.

               ‘Yes, but it isn’t my job to tie off the carrier.’ He made a good point. He was always quick witted and even I laughed out loud at that one. So I showed my Navy war veteran brother how to tie a bowline knot. Despite his witty retort, I thoroughly enjoyed every second of tying and retying that knot.

                He whipped me pretty bad those evenings back at home at the video and board games, I have come to realize that I am not as hip to those things as I once was. He drank his beers faster than I did too. The next day I had to go to the hardware store. Things were broken and the Missus wasn‘t having it. The front door wasn’t locking. I had to get a part for it. I already knew how to fix it and what I needed. She wanted me to get a new dead bolt for the door too, but I told her I couldn’t do that until I got a new router and routers are expensive. My wife conceded, and I grabbed my brother and we went to the store. While I was there I looked at some deadbolts and chains and such, but I didn’t see any that I wouldn’t need a router or at least a special bit kit to install. I bought the part I needed and headed home. When we got back my brother told my wife that I almost got her what she wanted but I changed my mind. He thought he was doing me a favor letting her know that what she wanted was on my mind. I saw the frown on her face though. I pulled my brother aside. I had to explain to him that you don’t tell a woman about the gifts you didn’t get her. That just makes her think about it. She’d already forgotten about it. I was in the clear. What a goof ball move. I shook my head, he’s got a lot to learn.

               I’ve been picking on my brother a lot in this letter but there is one more thing that happened. Everywhere we went, women behaved weird around my brother. I couldn’t put my finger on it until one day we made five stops and at each store there was a woman behind the counter. They were flirting with him. It’s been so long since I have seen flirting, I actually thought they were being rude or something. They were out of their minds with the need to get his attention. I thought it was amazing. We look alike, we sound alike, why the hell weren’t they flirting with me. The answer came to me in Wal-mart. We were walking down a main aisle when a young lady stepped from between two displays and slammed right into my brother. In keeping himself from falling down his hand landed on her shoulder, or from my angle her right breast. Whatever though, he says shoulder so I’ll say shoulder. Now most men would auto react with an ‘excuse me ma’am’ or ‘I’m sorry’ or just an ‘oops’ and move on. My brothers automatic, instinctual and immediate reaction was to say… ‘How you doin‘?’ WOW! Well that explains it. It’s the ’Kavorka.’ Pure animal magnetism. ’Kramer’ from ’Seinfeld’ , ‘Joey’ from ‘Friends’ and My Brother. Long story short, while we may be different kinds of men, My brother is definitely also THE MAN.

               Love ,
                         Your hip shooting, lazy fishing, less appealing son.

               P.S.     My wife read this and decided that from this point forward my

                           Brother and I cannot go out unless a female chaperone joins us. 
                           Being THE MAN is tough.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Moving Buddies

Dear Dad,

               One beautiful Sunday the sky was a cloudless blue. The birds were singing and I’ll bet the fish were biting. There was even a gun show in town I was thinking on looking into. The temperature was a perfect seventy degrees, and I had nothing on the immediate ‘honey-do‘ list. So naturally when my buddy called to tell me he was moving I decided to give up my day and help him out.

               I agreed to meet my friend at his house at one o’clock in the afternoon. I got to spend a good portion of the morning moving all my work gear out of my truck and stacking it up in the driveway. I had my ten year old son meet me at the truck. I thought this would be a good character building experience for him. Boys need to learn to work and it seems to me that sweat is the only character building tool in a fathers repertoire. Every now and then you have to make your kids do stuff they don’t want to do, isn’t that right Dad?

              We got to my friends house right on time. The street was a parking lot of suckered men with pickup trucks. All of us marveling at the fact that this was the first nice weekend day of the year and we were going to work instead of play. After the ceremonious milling about and joke telling it was time to get down to it. There were supposed to be four trucks there, we only had three. Someone was probably attending my gun show, or catching my record winning fish.

               The very first thing we had to move was a couch and loveseat combo. Right away we discovered they didn’t fit through the door. Now I am an expert furniture manipulator so I took charge and we turned and twisted that couch every which way possible. Finally I decided to remove the door. After making that decision My buddy said something like, “Yeah, that’s what we had to do to get it in here.“ I was about to hit him a good one upside the head when I saw him fumbling with a small screwdriver. He had already started working on the first hinge. Quickly I went to my truck and grabbed an 18.8 volt cordless drill. It’s difficult to always have the right tool at home and on the road, but I work hard to be prepared. So in my truck is a drill with 3 batteries and a charger.  I strode onto the front porch, my drill resting in it’s patent leather holster on my hip.  Neighbors and local shopkeepers rushed to get indoors as I lightly fingered the handle. An array of bits dangling from my left hand sparkled in the sunlight.  The high afternoon sun cast my shadow over the door. The wind whistled through the trees and my friend feeling the eclipse of manhood, turned and cowered before Craftsmen engineering and glory. I asked him to put his ‘little tool’ away as I brushed him aside. I removed twelve screws in three seconds flat. The doorway was widened.  Angels sang and church bells tolled. Finally the sofa yielded to us (men and boy) and was carried artfully to the bed of my truck. I AM THE MAN!

               After that it was all down hill. We loaded all three trucks and I dug out my tie down straps. At first I couldn’t find them and the impending embarrassment of asking the others for an extra strap loomed on my horizon. As I searched the same bed box for the third time the straps presented themselves. There was no need for panic, I AM STILL THE MAN. I lashed everything tight, and checked the other two pickups. One of the other guys was lashing down his load and the third truck had a strap on the ground waiting to be utilized. Feeling good about my own load and knowing where the destination was, I left well ahead of the convoy. After three miles on the highway I did my due diligence and pulled over to retighten my straps. It struck me as a little odd that no one passed me as I did this. I mentioned it to my son. I knew he would be paying attention to the traffic. Boys love to be in the leading vehicle of convoys. He confirmed it for me, no one had passed us yet. Good, I thought. That means everyone else is being as careful as I was.

              I arrived at my friends new residence and we were indeed first. Ten minutes later the second truck got there, but no third truck. I got out and threw my hands into the air, as if to say “what the hell fellows!” I was then quickly informed that the driver of the third truck neglected to use straps and he lost a box spring mattress on the Missouri River bridge. The absolute worst place for that to happen. I knew that meant the mattress was gone. If you’ve ever seen furniture hit the highway at high speed you know it turns into splinters and shredded cloth. I lowered my head and nodded it slowly side to side. We have talked about preparedness before. Let the judging begin. The driver with the mattress load decided that the strap wasn’t needed. The owner of the mattress agreed with him. The real owner of the mattress (his wife) was pleased to get the leverage she needed for the incredibly expensive bed she had been bugging her husband for.  I offer this up as a lesson to all men that our little mistakes will always cost more than we can realize at the time.

             Of course the door at the new house had to be removed also and the couch still just barely fit. There was only one trip left to make and that was primarily for the big screen television. Considering the mattress fiasco, I decided to volunteer my services. My friend gladly accepted. A man’s television is an important thing afterall. Priority wise it goes Wife, Children, Other Family members, Television. They should make cradles for TV sets, I believe a lot of men would rock them while they are still new. 

              My son and I avoided the highway taking back roads, we even stopped for a second strap check and a soda. Needless to say the television arrived unscathed, and as I headed home for the evening I lectured my young son on the importance of doing something right. He paid heed and nodded at the right moments. I believed I had finally gotten through to him. He will be a Man. When we pulled up in front of the house, he jumped out of the truck while it was still running, ran across the street without looking and tripped on the stairs, scraping his knee. Normally I would yell at him but today I just smiled. Boys will be boys. Whether they are thirty or ten.

              I could use a new television, I think when it is time to move I will have my son and the driver of that third truck come help me out. Sixty inch L.E.D. Sanyo 3-D gateway to heaven here I come! If you want his number give me a call, after all who couldn’t use the extra leverage to get their spouse to agree to buying something new.
                                Your tool toting, strap packing, truck driving son.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Me and Sam Elliot

Dear Dad,

                A few weeks ago I found myself standing in front of the bathroom mirror reflecting on a one week old mustache. My wife doesn’t understand how much is involved in this most manly of undertakings. As a matter of fact it is my understanding that most women find the mustache unattractive. Of course there have been some star studded exceptions over the years. Tom Selleck’s mustache for example could show up on the red carpet all by itself and be recognized.

               Women’s’ opinions aside, most men at one time or another tackle facial hair. I’m not talking about Luke Perry sideburns, or the Johnny Depp dirty lip. I’m talking about the bushy monstrosity that captures the flavor of your food and holds it there for you all day and night long. A full fledged Marlboro Man, Sam Elliot glorious soup strainer. The trouble of course is this gun fighting, bull tossing, rodeo riding image cannot be captured without enduring several weeks of a prepubescent face. We men spend all this time wearing stupid on our face, because regardless of what our wives tell us, we know that it will look good soon.

                 We say , “It will come into it’s own real soon, you’ll see.” What wife hasn’t heard this as she rolls her eyes and walks out of the room.

                 A week later I strode into the bathroom a victor. My mustache and goatee, and even that cool looking little triangle of hair under the bottom lip, had finally achieved a thickness I could run a comb through. It was time to trim. After all, the point is to look good, right?

                The trimmers were in their tray next to the bathroom sink. The light reflected off of the blades and the green L.E.D. glow on the handle indicated a full charge. I grabbed them with confidence and stared into the mirror one last time. A fierce lumberjack character stared back at me and shook his head as if to say, ‘don’t do it sonny.’ Very gingerly I began to even out the stray hairs that wouldn’t comb. I pruned and nipped away like a professional barber competing in the hair Olympics. When I was all done I put the trimmers down and turned to leave the room. I knew the missus would be pleased. I caught a mere glimpse of reflection in my peripherals.

                ‘That’s not even’, I thought to myself. Perturbed I snatched up the clippers again. In my agitation and haste I may have hacked away with a little less caution. The situation was beginning to get out of hand as I re-evened and re-re-evened. In less than five minutes I was left with a mustache that very much resembled the one I sported my sophomore year in high school. Three weeks of taking crap from my work buddies and my wife literally went down the drain. Just when it was about to pay off too. I am sure that I would have gotten the ‘Beef it’s what’s for dinner’ endorsement with that Wyatt Earp masterpiece of a mustache.

                I removed the guard from the trimmers. My eyes glistening, I cleaned the canvas I had so patiently cultivated. I wet a razor, foamed up and finished smoothing my face. Dejected I headed toward the living room. Determined not to say anything or smile, I sat down in my recliner. The only fun part of shaving everything off and starting from scratch is the game we men all play. For some reason family members who live with you day and night can stare you in the face and that drastic ZZ Top to Justin Bieber difference does not register.

                Well, almost instantly my four year old daughter jumped into my lap and said, “Daddy, your handsome now.” My wife gave me a sweet smile, and smartly, I let her assume that I had done this for her. Later I was well rewarded for my ‘thoughtfulness’ and sacrifice. I truly AM THE MAN. My mustache is retired until next year. Next year is going to be my year, I can feel it. It will come in to it’s own.


                          Your baby faced razor burned son.