Curing 30 Years One Month At A Time

February 13, 2009

What Happens When A 500 Pound Gorilla, An Elephant, Blind Man And An Emperor In New Clothes Interrupt Me Watching The Office

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 12:31 am

 

How Did I Not Notice After All This Time?

How Did I Not Notice After All This Time?

As much as I love being able to grow facial hair and how my new work attire involves flip-flops, I would go back to cubicle world in a second if it meant I was selling paper products at Dunder Mifflin. Unfortunately, Jenn is more of a McDreamy girl then crazy for Dwight Schrute. She apparently thinks PowerPoint is awesome and hates beets.   On Thursday nights, this puts us in quite a predicament as the power of the remote hangs in the balance. The way we work this out is through a thumb-wrestling match where the loser gets relegated to the bedroom while the other relaxes in the living room to watch their show on the big screen.

Tonight I won the battle so I begin to settle in to enjoy a new episode of The Office. While trying to come up with a catchy Facebook status, I get this strange feeling that I am not alone anymore. I can hear the gentle chainsaw snoring of Maddie and the rustling of Paige in her bed so I know it is not the girls. The likelihood of Jenn being awake is slim, but even if she is, Grey’s is a 2 Hour Event Spectacular so she isn’t budging. This exhausts all my options so I begin to freak out a bit.

My Macbook almost gets chucked in self defense when I realize not one, but four individuals are in the living room: a 500 pound gorilla, an elephant, blind man and an Emperor in his new clothes. Judging by their disapproving gaze, they do not appear to be a happy bunch. All at once they begin to lay in on me. It must have been 4 ½ years of pent up frustration because each one informs me this is how long they’ve been hanging out waiting for me to acknowledge their presence.

The 500-pound gorilla starts swinging his arms and blurts out, “Call me curious, but how did you not notice us after all of this time? Do you want to know what drives me absolutely bananas? After a long day where you barely saw each other, Jenn and you are glued to the television screen in different rooms.”

The Elephant in the room raises his trunk and says, “Listen Dumbo! When was the last time you two spent a night just talking about something other than the girls? Your lack of conversation is just plain nuts!”

The blind man shakes his cane in my direction and shouts, “If I can see you’ve put the kids above your relationship with Jenn, you know you are trouble. It’s crystal clear to me that you have some work to do.”

The Emperor in his new clothes says, “Let’s strip away the façade and be transparent. You miss Jenn.”

Knowing what they are saying is true I get defensive and blurt out, “First off Emperor if anyone is not in touch with reality it is you. You do realize you do not have any clothes on, right? And for goodness sake put a towel down or something if you are going to sit on my couch.”

After showing them the door, I sit back down to deal with what they just said. I miss more than Jenn. I miss us. While we were dating we could spend hours upon hours talking. This continued through our engagement and first few years of marriage.  However, something changed when we added mommy and daddy to our titles of husband and wife.

Now, from the moment the kids coming running into our room at the crack of dawn until the time they try to squeeze one more bedtime story out of us, the kids are our main focus. If we are fortunate enough to find a few fleeting seconds of our own, it is spent cleaning the mass chaos Maddie and Paige created. There always seems to be laundry, diapers, spills and dirty dishes demanding our attention.

The girls normally wave the white flag in surrender around 8pm, which means we only have an hour or two until Jenn is out for good. If we are not doing chores, we can be found in a zombie like trance in front of the television or trying to get to .500 on Facebook Wrestler (okay, this is more my problem then Jenn’s). There are other times when complete exhaustion wins out and we head straight to bed. Regardless, neither of these options lends themselves too much conversation.

On the random occurrences when we take out a loan to go out on a date, our conversation normally centers on potty training, discipline issues or temper tantrums either from the girls or something work related. The times we actually “talk” are few and far between. Our older friends try to provide comfort by reassuring us that this is only a phase. In their own way, they are saying this to shall past. I know most married couples in our stage of life are dealing with the same issues of communication and intimacy.

Jenn and I are in it for the long haul and love each other a great deal. We know neither one of us is going anywhere. Yet, this line of thinking is dangerous because you can easily get lazy. Other issues, some positive like raising children, gain priority while the marriage relationship gets largely ignored. You justify it by saying she’ll always be around and after all, there is always tomorrow. But, tomorrow comes and you find yourself running from a dance recital to a work meeting and finish it off with a 4 year old’s birthday party.

Part of me is terrified that once the kids get up and running on their own, I won’t know the person sitting next to me on the couch. The US somehow getting lost when we focused on the THEM. So, tonight I bid you farewell. I am going to go reconnect with my best friend. We are going to talk about nothing, but each other. Right after I toss the couch cushion the Emperor was sitting on in the wash.

January 29, 2009

Pepe Le Pew Says I Am A Conceited, Stinky Jerk…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:44 pm

 

Even Pepe Le Pew Says I Stink

Even Pepe Le Pew Says I Stink

Quick, who holds the record for the most Grammy nominations without a single win? Before you click over to Wikipedia like I had to do, here is a little hint. The answer caught me completely off guard. Not because I consider this person ultra talented, but for the simple fact I cannot name a single one of his songs.

The winner, or in this case loser, is Brian McKnight who has a mind boggling sixteen Grammy nominations, but not a single award at home on his mantle. He is the king of the ‘Also-Rans.’ I thought of Mr. McKnight the other evening when complying the 25 Random Things About Me list. Surprisingly, I am more interesting than I thought because there were some nuggets that did not make the cut. So, I would like to share a few of the ‘McKnight’s’ who got all dressed up for nothing:

 

*In college a group of us heckled The Harrisburg Senators mascot so relentlessly that he verbally swore at us causing the little kids around us to cry.

*I once got kicked out of Wal-Mart for opening up XXXXL Fruit of the Looms while trying to find the perfect Dirty Santa gift.

*Having been up for almost 48 hours straight after Madison was born, I broke down and sobbed like a baby in the middle of the hospital chapel wondering what I had got myself into.

*During the first day of Young Life summer camp, I lost my only pair of glasses in Saranac Lake. For the rest of the week, I had to wear someone else’s prescription bifocal sunglasses, even at night.

*The first time I told Jenn I loved her I got a “thank you” and then some awkward silence. Luckily, she came around.

 

Yet, #26 on the list was this:  I learned in 7th grade that when a shirt says, “wash before wearing” it is not a suggestion, but a must-do. Unfortunately for myself and those around me, I did not heed the advice and things quickly turned to one smelly mess. The stink was kicked up a notch since my cluelessness occurred on one of the hottest days of the year when the school’s air conditioning was on the fritz. In the middle of chorus class, I found myself sweating like Star Jones pushing people out of the way at the buffet line at Golden Corral. The sweat interacted with the clothing in some crazy chemical imbalance setting off a chain reaction of stench.

Being a chubby kid with glasses and braces meant I did not need to give any more freebies to my critics. The fact that I was in chorus, even though puberty caused my voice to crack more than Rice Krispies, gave them plenty of material for their teasing. I went into freak out mode over the stink bomb I was wearing over my neck. Any glance in my direction made me panic even more. Every snicker, chuckle or laugh got me agitated leading to more sweating and even more stink. 

Focusing on any conversation was a no-go because the only thing I could think about was the person knew the unusual odor was coming from my direction.  I reasoned they had spent all class watching my every move and noticed how the fumes radiated from my body like Pepe Le Pew. Having all eyes on me was too much to handle so I faked a sickness and had my dad pick me up from school.

Playing the day back in my head almost 20 years later, I am just now realizing that no one made a single comment about the stench. There were no snide remarks from the alto section about who ‘smelt it dealt it.’ Chances are good it was just another typical day butchering “Wind Beneath My Wings” in 7th grade chorus class.

I am guessing my other middle school brethren who only took baths on odd number days ending in 5 were the original source of the odor. Like always, my shyness made everything about me. As odd as this may sound, I am beginning to realize how my shyness means I am completely and utterly conceited. One would figure that being an introvert equals humility since the person does not think highly of themselves and avoids the spotlight at all costs.

Yet, think about it. What causes someone to be shy or horrible at small talk?  It stems from nervousness over what people will think of them. Will they be rejected or accepted? You let the fear get the better of yourself and never fully engage in conversations. Instead your thoughts are consumed with the idea that everything you say and do is being analyzed. What we fail to realize is that in 99.9% of the conversations we engage in the other person is thinking about themselves. Regardless if we convince ourselves the person thinks we are a complete and utter loser, this line of thinking reeks of ego just as bad as my JcPenny clearance t-shirt did on that hot day in chorus class. 

January 25, 2009

A Scientist With A Stop Watch Makes For One Doozie Of A Third Wheel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 10:10 pm

 

Can Someone Throw Me A Bone And Carry A Conversation?

Can Someone Throw Me A Bone And Carry A Conversation?

Having a person there who sees all my faults, but loves me anyway. The security knowing there is a least one individual who every once in a blue moon will laugh at one of my jokes. Note how I said one in the singular sense. Jenn doesn’t think I am nearly as clever as I do. There is nothing better than after a hard day of work opening the door to a house that smells like a freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. These are just a few reasons why I am thankful to have a ring around my finger.

Tonight I get to add another thanks to something I uncovered during my research on how relationships evolve. Research shows that awkward silence occurs every 7 minutes in a normal conversation, but every 3 and half minutes when you are on a date. This means I have an extra 3 and half minutes to come with something to say that is intelligent and insightful or muster the strength to eek out a grunt when I am faced with dead silence. On a side note, maybe the reason why the awkward silence occurred more frequently on a date is that a scientist with a stopwatch makes for one doozie of a third wheel.

In my attempt to be proactive in pursuing relationships this month, I have experienced my fair share of blank stares and glossed over eyes when striking up a conversation. I was hoping people would notice my feeble attempt at improving myself and throw me a bone by taking the lead in the conversation. Unfortunately, the utter shock they experienced when this former mute actually opened up his mouth was too great for them to handle.

After one to many long pauses that ended in “um…well Tony…it was..um…great talking to you,” I decided to seek words of wisdom from people much wiser than myself: online relationship gurus. Yet another letdown. The social “experts” suggested asking safe questions on random topics like sports, movies or the weather to start lines of communication. Wow, I don’t know what shocks me more: they actually believe people never thought to do this before or that one can earn a substantial living doling out this type of advice.

Since it appears that people will listen to just about anyone for direction in their relationships, I figured why not throw my hat into the ring. So, for what they are worth, which is probably not a lot, here are a few tips of the trade this socially stunted individual came up with in dealing with awkward silence in conversations:

TIP #1 – Instead of asking about the weather or sports, my suggestion would be to cut to the chase and ask the person staring blankly at you what the best way is to break a moment of awkward silence?

TIP #2 – The plain and simple fact is that people are vain. They love to talk about themselves. Start asking questions left and right about their interests, hobbies or job. You earn brownie points because you seem genuinely interested in what they have to say when in actuality your thoughts are focused on whether you are going to have Italian or Chinese for dinner tonight. I hesitated to include this one since chances are good that because you already struggle to create dialogue with this person that you could give two rips about their love for woodworking or clogging. 

TIP #3 – Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, you can only utilize this tip in a large social setting while you are attempting to mingle. If you are in the middle of a business meeting, catching up with someone at a coffee shop or eating dinner at a friend’s house and use said trick, people will become concerned and slip you pamphlets with diagrams of your prostate plastered all over the cover.

TIP #4 – Flatulence always does the trick. All farts that is except for the silent but deadly variety. When funk suddenly appears out of nowhere and continues to mingle it only adds to the awkwardness. If you are going to use this trick make sure you farts are loud and proud.

TIP #5 – Open your eyes really wide, let out a huge sigh, wipe your hands together and then simply walk away. When the person stops you and asks where you are going, turn around and say in your best Forrest Gump voice, “I might not be a smart man, but I know what a dead conversation is.”

January 22, 2009

Peach Fuzz, Stubble & Hairy Zen: Reflections on the Great Beard Experiment

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 12:04 am

 

A Man Can Dream About Having A Beard This Glorious

A Man Can Dream About Having A Beard This Glorious

Today marks the fourth week of The Great Beard Experiment. The disposable razors and shaving cream have been tucked far away in the medicine closet. For the past 28 days, it has been Mach Zero in our household. Sadly at the beginning the best this man could get was to have his facial hair grow in bunches. Enduring this patchy spot, things began to fill in to the point 6th grade boys have stopped pointing and calling me ‘peach fuzz.’ In fact, Trix are no longer for kids as this man gets a milk beard every time he eats this sugary cereal. I am now waiting to officially reach Hairy Zen when small birds starting build nests in my beard.

You might be wondering what sparked this facial hair frenzy. Here are a few reasons for why I have decided to go Gillette free:

 

(1.) Out with the old and in with the new. In order to accomplish a New Year’s Resolution, it means other activities have to inevitably fall by the waist side. Carving out time for my new priorities meant becoming creative in the area of time management. Let’s say the average shave takes 10 minutes. Over the course of a year this frees up 60.83 hours or approximately 2.5 days to invest in learning another language, taking a pottery class or working out in the gym.

(2.) These tough economic times have hit the checking account pretty hard. Like the majority of middle classers, every one of my pennies counts. Rather than give up Starbucks or my frequent runs for the border, the razors were cut from the shopping list.

 

Enough with the practical. Let’s get to what truly kept me from reaching for the blade when the urges to itch the stubble became uncontrollable.

 

(3.) Since Christmas morning I have been attempting to fool others into believing I am some sort of an outdoorsmen even though the only rock trail I have climbed is the Code Red of Mountain Dew. Knowing my love for looking like a trendy poser, Jenn gave me a North Face vest for the holidays. Hence the new Grizzly Adams look and my sudden love for Eddie Bauer sweaters.

(4.) In tribute to tonight’s season premiere of my all time favorite television show Lost, I decided to head back to the island and unlock my inner Sawyer. The chances of me actually accomplishing this feat are not good considering the fact the majority of those time wasting Facebook applications say I most resemble the portly funny man Hugo instead.  This isn’t the only thing going against me. My unkempt look comes closer to Tom Hanks in Castaway then the con man that makes most women weak in the knees. Trying to make up the difference, I have created a sarcastic nickname for every person I know.

(5.) As fun as it is to pay student rates at the movies, I am tired of having a baby face. For crying out loud I am in my thirties. I do not need crayons and three kiddy menus when I take my family out to eat.

(6.) A bushy beard also helps me brave the arctic temperatures of Wilmington, NC. It is the only way I survived the massive snowstorm of 2009. Clean-shaven Tony would of frozen in that light dusting of accumulation.

(7.) Curiosity killed this cat. I wanted to see what celebrity I would look like when hairy. Would I resemble Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or the former gun touting Charlton Heston? If I had my choice, I’d want to be the bearded Sting on Obama’s inauguration night. That my friend was a thing of beauty.

(8.) The growth of facial hair seems to be a common occurrence for guys who have waved farewell to the corporate world. Along with burning all of your collared shirts, ties and slacks, the beard is one last act of sticking it to the man for the years of busy work and TPS reports. 

 

The last reason deals with January’s focus of curing my social shyness. In a previous post I mentioned an eHow.com article I came across about tips to enhance small talking skills. Considering I started the month at the remedial level in the art of conversation, any tip that would get me to the barely passing level I was willing to try out.

Another trick the article offered up was expanding my horizons by trying something new every day. The problem was many of their suggestions were either lame or impossible for me to accomplish. Going home a new way is out of the question since my daily commute to work is a gas guzzling 1.6 miles. Try sushi – as much as I want to love this cuisine since it fits into my desire to be hip and trendy, the fact is I absolutely hate fish. Play pinball, paint a watercolor or bake a pie. That would be a no to #1 and # 2 while I’ll leave the last to Betty Crocker. Then it hit me: grow a beard.

 

Nothing makes a better icebreaker then facial hair. The conversations are endless:

 

“Hey…I think you have some dirt growing on your upper lip.”

“No, I do shower from time to time. What you are looking at is my new sweet stache.”

 

“Have you converted to another religion….are you a Hassidic Jew?”

“Nope, I am still down with the Big J.C.”

 

“Did your hair on the top of your dome take a vacation to South Beach?”

“No, the missing persons report I placed for the hairs on my head have created very few leads…”

 

“Are those M&M’s stuck in your beard?”

“Yes, this is where I hid my mid-afternoon snack when I find myself zoning.”

 

The results have been amazing. It gives me a foot in the door when it comes to small talk. Conversations seem to be lasting longer. I even get a few laughs that are not related to the hairy mess growing around my chin. So, all you shy guys toss those razors in the trash and beard up! 

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