Friday, December 12, 2014

The Perm

True story: When I was in sixth grade, I was tricked into getting a perm.

I've always had what can most kindly be described as "fine" hair. It can't really be called thin hair as that conjures images of receding or non-existent hair. I have hair, it just is so fine that it is almost translucent. The "fineness" of my hair is only exacerbated when it is longer. In fact, my barber once remarked that I am the only person he has ever known whose hair actually looks fuller when I have a crew cut than when it is longer. Consequently, I have worn my hair short for the vast majority of my life.

In sixth grade, however, nobody had short hair. The unwritten - yet extremely rigid - handbook at Valley Middle School required that hair be grown out. This posed a challenge for me, but a few barbs from friends about the strange consistency of my hair was easier than being the only person with a crew cut. Then, for motives I assumed pure at the time, my mom started hinting that I should consider a perm. I brushed off the suggestion as absurd. Only girls got perms! No, my mom insisted, guys were getting perms all the time. It was all the rage! I could be a trendsetter! I still wasn't sold. Gradually, the perm pressure increased. "Look! That guy has a perm!" became the nightly game while watching television. Over the course of what I now imagine to be months, but in reality was probably just a week or even a couple of days, my resolve weakened. Maybe a perm was exactly what I needed to become hot shit in sixth grade. I finally grudgingly agreed to consider it.

"Consider it" is all the permission my mom needed. Within a day, my Uncle Jerry, who just happened to be training to become a barber/hairstylist, showed up with all the necessary equipment. My feeble sixth grade mind never put two and two together. It was, strangely enough, Marisa Tomei who opened my eyes 10 years later. In the epic 1993 film "Untamed Heart", Marisa plays a character training to become a hairstylist. As a part of her training, she needs to find a "victim" whom she can give a perm to. My jaw dropped on seeing this. My own mother threw me under the bus to find my Uncle Jerry his perm guinea pig.

I can't clearly remember the full details of the actual perming of my hair, but I do vividly recall the smell giving me an immense headache and my brother offering a relentless slew of insults and slanders while I was captive in a chair, forbidden from moving and unleashing my fury on him. I'll let one of the very few surviving pictures of "The Great Perm Tragedy of 1983" tell the story of how it actually looked, but even as a sixth grader I knew immediately I had made a horrible mistake. I approached the next day at school with an overwhelming sense of dread, sure I was going to receive my righteous pummeling from an eighth grader. In my very first class of the day, however, I caught a glimmer of hope. The prettiest, most popular girl who I and every other sixth grader was head over heels in love with, noticed me and for the first time ever approached to speak with me. Yes! Mom was right! A perm is where it's at! My enthusiasm was fleeting, however, as the girl simply giggled, said "You like a girl!" and then called several of her pretty friends over to confirm that I did indeed resemble a female. I was mortified and demanded that the perm be reversed. The problem with perms, however, is that they are intended to be, well, permanent. I was left with no choice but to either shave my head or wait it out. So wait it out I did, while making the vow (kept to this day) that my hair would never see curls again.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


True story, again wardrobe ignorance related: One morning a couple of summers ago, KT and I went to the downtown farmers market to nose around and see if anything inspired us. We were in the market for a few vegetables, herbs, etc., but were also looking for some bacon for a particular meal we had in mind. We went to each booth that was selling meat asking if they had any bacon. Each time we were met with a reaction ranging from barely controlled giggling to out right guffawing. Puzzled, we left for home minus the bacon. Only a few hours later did we realize that I was clad in my favorite t-shirt (pictured below), which explained why we were such a source of amusement.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Run In With the Law

True story - 23 years ago I had my first and only run in with the law.  I was in college in St. Peter at the time and was doing about the only thing there was to do in St. Peter - drinking beer.  KT and I had just started dating at the time and, along with other friends, decided to go to a party.  The party was your typical early 90's party which involved a $3.00 keg cup, loud music and bad decisions.  This particular party was held in an apartment situated above one of the businesses lining the main drag in St. Peter.  You reached the apartment by climbing a long, dimly lit stairway from the back alley.

As was (and I'm sure still is) the case, word of the party spread quickly on our small college campus and by the time we arrived, the place was packed.  We forked over our requisite admission cost, grabbed our keg cup and got in the never-ending line for the keg.  By the time we neared the keg, we were parched and exploring other drinking options for the evening as it was evident getting a cup full of beer was going to be difficult amongst the throngs of college students in their never ending search for a buzz.  When we finally were able to gain possession of the precious tap, we noticed a commotion at the far end of the apartment near the entrance.  Word soon filtered back that the police had arrived and the party was going to be shut down.  I had experienced legal interruptions to parties before and knew the best possible reaction was to slam as many beers down my throat as possible before the precious keg was confiscated.  So, for the next several minutes, I furiously put down beer after beer, determined to receive my $3.00 worth.

After about 20 minutes, word circulated to our now tightly formed keg circle that this was no ordinary police bust.  Instead of simply taking the keg and telling us all to go home, St. Peter's finest were using this party as a fundraiser.  They were checking identification of each party goer and issuing breathalyzers and citations to those consumers who happened not to be of legal drinking age.  Shit.  Our plans quickly changed.  One of the more adventurous of our gang thought the only reasonable solution would be to rush down the stairs in a mass exodus into the night, allowing the police to grab only a few in their trap while the rest of us would go free.  In my now tipsy state, I was on board.  We moved en masse to the stairway, summoning up our courage and quickly failing dexterity.  Once we arrived at the top of the stairs and looked down, our plan quickly fell apart.  There were no fewer than 20 uniformed officers awaiting us at the bottom of the stairs.  Full of liquid courage as I was, I still had the capacity to realize that this wasn't going to work and I retreated to the back of the apartment to reconsider.

One of my fellow party-goers then mentioned that his brother (or friend, cousin, whomever) swore that he once evaded an underage consumption by furiously sucking on a penny.  Apparently, the copper in the penny neutralized all signs of alcohol and you could pass the breathalyzer with ease simply by sticking a dirty grimy penny in your mouth and going to town on it.  Brilliant!  We all quickly grabbed any pennies we could find and started sucking away.  I can only imagine the sight of the ten or so of us, mouths full of pennies and devilish grins on our face knowing we had outsmarted the law.  Gradually, the party thinned and we were faced with the inevitable - it was our turn to head down the stairs.  One of our party, my friend Nick, chose a different route.  He spied a section in the ceiling he could conceivably crawl into and avoid detection.  He split from us, used a chair as leverage and disappeared into the ceiling where he promptly took a nap.  The rest of us spit out our pennies and got in line for the breathalyzers.

As I watched the first four of my fellow penny suckers fail their "test" miserably, I became concerned that our ingenious solution may not be so ingenious after all.  Time for Plan C.  My brother, attending college 70 miles away, was 21.  As I didn't have any form of identification on me, I could simply say that I was him.  I knew his full name, date of birth and address.  Keep in mind this was before the internet, so quickly verifying with a photo was much more difficult.  I recited his pertinent information over and over again in my head as I waited for my turn to blow into the breathalyzer.  When my turn finally came, I was shaking nervously, but still convinced I would be able to beat this.  The cop asked for my name, to which I immediately responded, "Paul Kruse."  Shit again.  I totally choked.  Now, I had to determine whether to try to say I had erred in giving my name and come up with an elaborate hoax as to how I could have possibly forgotten my own name or just accept my fate.  I chose the latter.

My $3.00 keg cup that evening ended up costing my $173.00 after paying my underage consumption fine.  My buddy Nick, on the other hand, calmly slept for three or four hours before emerging from the ceiling.  He gave a quick nod to the shocked and by now depressed party hosts (they were in much bigger trouble than a simple underage consumption), and walked home.  The total ticket tally for the fine governmental offices of St. Peter was well over 100.  To this day, rumors persist that there is a plaque in our honor in a new city park built with the funds from this party.

Friday, October 24, 2014

True Ghost Story

True Halloween story:  I'm not a big believer in ghosts, spirits and the like, but KT and I both attest the following story is 100% truth.

In 1993 we moved from our beloved Beard Ave S. apartment to a bigger place, a house near 50th and Xerxes in SW Minneapolis.  On the day before we moved in, KT, Al (two years old at the time) and I headed over to our new digs to determine all the things that need to be determined (who got what room, what cleaning needed to be done, etc.).  To distract Al, we had gone to Blockbuster (remember those?) and picked up a few Barney videotapes for him to zombie out in front of while KT and I went about our tasks.  With the videotapes (remember those?) came the requisite helium balloon that Blockbuster gave every snot-nosed kid that walked through the door.

Our new house was, upon our arrival, completely empty.  The only contents were what we brought: a television, VCR (remember those?), Barney videos and the balloon.  The balloon, it should be noted, was on it's last gasps of helium induced life.  Instead of hanging out near the ceiling, it merely hovered a few inches off the ground - it hadn't threatened to float away for several hours.  We propped Al up in front of the television on the ground floor our our house, balloon next to him, and went upstairs to determine what we should do first.  To get upstairs from where Al was sitting required two half flights of stairs and two turns.  We were lamenting how difficult it was going to be to drag our king size bed up this cryptic stairway.  Once upstairs, another turn was required to enter the hallway which led to the three bedrooms and bathroom.  KT and I were halfway down the hallway, in the first bedroom on the right, which we had determined would belong to Al, discussing whether or not to put plastic over the windows when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  KT must have seen it at the same time as our conversation abruptly stopped and we both turned our attention to the doorway.  There, we saw the previously lifeless and limp balloon, floating at eye level.  It hovered in the doorway for a few seconds before slowing entering the room.  Then, it proceeded to make a slow yet deliberate circle around the room, maintaining it's eye-level height.  KT and I stood in stunned silence and watched.  After circling the room, the balloon headed back for the door.  We instinctively followed.

Leaving the room, the balloon turned sharply left and slowly floated (always at eye-level) towards the stairs.  We continued to follow, too stunned to say a word.  The balloon casually floated down half the stairway, turned the corner, and floated down the rest of the way to the main level of the house.  Once it reached the main level of the house, the balloon turned two more corners to return to the room where it began it's journey.  KT and I continued to follow it, mouths agape.  Al, still mesmerized by the giant purple dinosaur, never noticed his balloon had gone missing.  The balloon floated to the center of the room (still at eye-level) to a spot directly above where it had previously been.  It then slowly descended to the exact same spot a few inches above the ground it was sitting when we went upstairs.  It never moved again.

KT and I were, to put it mildly, freaked out.  We considered not moving in after all and begging for our old apartment back, but that ship had sailed.  We didn't last long in that house before moving to another.  Nothing as overtly creepy as the balloon occurred again, but we did have a series of unexplainable noises and we never were able to figure out why all the bedrooms had sliding locks positioned on the outside of the doors, thus making it possible to lock people into rather than out of them.

I'm still skeptical of ghosts, ghouls and goblins, but I have never been able to come up with any possible explanation for this event.  The simply is no logical explanation, which only leaves the illogical.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Pressures of a Third Grade Girls Basketball Coach

I sent the following email to my parents in February 2005.  My mom recently forwarded it back to me.  It makes me realize that I truly miss coaching and how wonderful kids are.

A recap of Audrey's last game:

The characters:
Audrey - a small girl who loves the social aspect of sports.  Not very competitive.
Alex - a tall, slightly hyperactive girl whose asthma tends to bother her only when it suits her needs.
Kira - a short, extremely competitive girl who tends to forget to dribble.
Jennifer - a slightly whiny girl prone to "great and serious" injuries.
Sarah - a very nice, slightly out of shape girl who tends to take things a little personally.
Kristi Lynn - a nice girl, perhaps a bit of an Eddie Haskell.
Paul - an exasperated coach enjoying himself all the same because the girls don't act like they know everything already, unlike another (still undefeated) team he coaches.

5:45PM - en route to game
Audrey - "Dad, no matter what, don't start me because I am not ready for that."
Paul - "I'll do what I can Audrey.  Rachel won't be there already, so we are only going to have six players."

6:02PM - the game begins
Paul - "Ok girls, Alex isn't here yet, so you five are starting.  Let's match-up and figure out who we are guarding."
Audrey - "Dad! You said I wouldn't have to start!"
Paul - "No, honey, I said I would see what I could do.  Alex isn't here yet, so I need you to start."
Audrey - "But can't we just start with four?"
Paul - "No, that would give the other team an unfair advantage.  Now, come on, I need you out on the floor."
Audrey scowls and slowly walks out onto the floor.
Jennifer - "My finger hurts."
Paul - "Oh, that's too bad Jennifer.  Here, I want you to guard number 7."
Jennifer (incredulously) - "I still have to play?!?!?"
Paul - "Yes, Jennifer, we only have five players here."
Kira - "Where are Alex and Rachel?"
Paul - "Alex should be here soon and Rachel has religion class.  The game is starting - do you remember who you are guarding?"
Kira - "No."

6:05PM - Alex arrives
Audrey - "Dad, can I come out now?"
Paul - "Audrey, she has to take her coat off and get her shoes on first."
Audrey - "Then can I come out?"

Paul (nudging Alex onto the court) - "Audrey come off now."
Sarah - "Can I come off too?  I'm tired."
Paul - "Let me give Audrey a little rest and then I'll take you out Sarah."
Jennifer - "But I want to sit out too!"
Kristi Lynn - "I'm  not tired, Paul!"
Meanwhile, Kira makes a steal and begins running full speed with the ball, going approximately half the distance of the court before remembering to dribble.
Jennifer - "My ankle hurts."

6:10PM - End of the first quarter
Paul - "Ok, good job girls!  Just remember, when you are on offense you need to move around and try to get open."
Sarah - "We can't, they're guarding us!"
Paul - "That's ok, that's their job.  You need to move around and try to get open."
Jennifer - "What's the point?  They just follow us.  Is Sarah done sitting out now because if she is it's my turn."
Alex - "I love spaghetti!"
Kristi Lynn - "I'm trying to get open, Paul!"
Paul - "Good, Kristi Lynn, just keep trying."
Kira - "Number 4 stuck her tongue out at me!"
Paul - "I'm sorry to hear that, Kira.  Ok, are you girls ready?"
Kristi Lynn - "Yes."
Alex, Audrey, Jennifer, Kira, Sarah - "No."
Kira - "Are we winning?"
Paul - "I don't know, Kira, we don't keep score."
Kira - "We're losing, aren't we?"
Paul - "I don't know Kira.  The game is starting now.  Try to remember to dribble."

6:15PM  Kristi Lynn is sitting out.  Sarah falls down and hurts her knee.  Paul comes out on the court to talk to her.
Paul - "Are you ok, Sarah?  What hurts?"
Sarah (sobbing) - "NO! I fell on my knee!"
Paul (pretends to give knee thorough examination) - "I think you just banged it Sarah.  Do you think you can still play?  I just took Kristi Lynn out and she hasn't had a break yet."
Sarah (sobbing intensifies) - "NOOO!  IT HURTS SOOOO BAD!!!"
Paul - "Kristi Lynn, do you think you can come back in?"
Kristi Lynn - "Yes, I'm trying my best!"
Paul - "That's great, Kristi Lynn.  Sarah, do you want to sit out for a little while?"
Sarah (sobbing abruptly stops as she hops up and runs to the sideline) - "Ok."
Jennifer (suddenly) - "OOOOOOOHHHHH - MY ANKLE!!!"
Paul - "Sorry, Jennifer, I need you to play for a while."
Jennifer (grabbing throat) - "But I'm sooooo thirsty" (choking noise) "I'm going to pass out!"
Paul - "It's almost half-time Jennifer.  You can get a drink then."
Jennifer (scowling) - "But I'm dying!"

6:22PM Half-time
Paul - "Ok girls, good job!  Let's just remember to stay by who you are guarding and move around on offense."
Sarah - "I don't like playing this team.  Can't we just play the team we played last time?"
Jennifer - "Yeah, they push you and the referee doesn't even do anything!"
Kira - "What's the score?  We're losing, aren't we?"
Paul - "You girls don't sound like you're having any fun out there.  Are you?"
(All at once)
Alex - "It's hard to have fun when you have asthma."
Jennifer - "No, they have three people guarding me."
Sarah - "No, because they guard you."
Kira - "No, we're losing."
Audrey - "No, I like practices better."
Kristi Lynn - "I'm having fun, Paul!"
Paul - "Ok girls, let's just go out and try to have some fun this half.  I want to see you all smiling - ok?  Now, Kira hasn't sat out yet, so she will be sitting out to start the half."
Audrey - "But it's my turn!"
Paul - "No, Audrey, Kira hasn't sat out yet.  You're next."
Audrey groans and scowls
Jennifer - "I have to sit out my ankle hurts and I'm soooooo thirsty!"
Paul - "But Jennifer, you're drinking your water bottle right now."
Jennifer - "So?  That doesn't help my ankle."
Sarah - "I forgot - I jammed my finger too.  I don't think I can play."
Jennifer - "I am not playing."
Kira - "I don't need to sit out, I'll play"
Jennifer (smiling for the first time) - "Yay!"
Audrey - "No fair."

6:33PM - Near the end of the third quarter
KT (from the stands) - "Audrey, move around!"
Audrey give KT a "if looks could kill you'd be six feet under" stare.

6:35PM - End of third quarter
Kira - "We're getting our butts kicked!"
Paul - "It doesn't matter, Kira, we're not keeping score."
Sarah, Audrey, Jennifer - "I'm not having fun."
Paul - "Ok girls, just try to get through one more quarter and then next week at practice we'll try to figure out how to make it more fun for you."
Jennifer - "Do we have to?  My elbow hurts."
Alex - "I have asthma - I can't have fun."
Kira - "What's the score?"
Paul - "I want to see some smiles this quarter!"
Paul is met with scowls from all but Kristi Lynn
Kristi Lynn - "I'm having fun and trying my best, Paul!"
Jennifer - "My head hurts soooooo bad!  Can I sit out?"
Paul - "Fine, Jennifer.  Alex, you check in.  Do you see that Jennifer was guarding number 11?"
Alex - "I'm bilingual!  Hola!"
Paul - "That's great, Alex.  Can you please guard number 11?"
Alex - "Si, senor!"
Alex proceeds to guard number 9.
Audrey - "How come Jennifer gets to sit out again?"
Kira - "Are we losing? We're losing, aren't we?"

6:45PM - End of game
Paul - "Good job girls!  Did you have fun?  I didn't see many smiles out there."
Kristi Lynn - "I had fun and I tried my hardest."
Alex - "I wanted to have fun, but it's hard when you have asthma."
Sarah - "I don't like this team.  I only want to play the other one."
Kira - "Paul, I didn't have any fun because we lost.  We lost, didn't we? What was the score?"
Jennifer - "The other team was mean.  They kept hurting me."
Audrey - "Dad, I didn't have any fun because we don't get treats after the game like we do in soccer."
Paul - "Ok girls, I'll tell you what - When we have our next game, I'll bring treats for after the game if you girls promise to try to have fun and smile out there"
All six girls scream deafeningly loud, jump up and down, smile and cheer "YEEEEAAAAAAA!!!!"

The moral of the story?  Bring treats, and lots of them.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Maggie's Halloween Adventure

True story:  11 years ago this Halloween, our lab Maggie went out for her first round of trick-or-treating.  As with all labs, she was, at this age, full of boundless energy and love for people, adventure and food.  Halloween was the perfect storm of all three ingredients; people everywhere, an evening walk to new environments and candy everywhere her nose led her.  At a little over two years of age, her strength was also a force to be reckoned with, particularly to someone not accustomed to it.

On this evening, our friend Chad volunteered to try to harness Maggie as he led the kids door to door.  He pulled valiantly at her leash as she lunged this way and that in an effort to befriend or eat anything she could reach.  Chad wisely kept her down the on the sidewalk as the gaggle of kids ran to each door to collect their just rewards.  After a few houses, however, Maggie determined that the real action was up at the doorsteps with the kids, not stuck back on the sidewalk with Chad.  Refusing to be denied what was obviously the greatest pleasure her mind could envision, she jumped, twisted, pulled and flat out willed her way out of her collar.  Realizing she was free, she bolted before Chad could grab her.

Meanwhile, much to her delight, a kindly elderly neighbor was opening the door for our group of kids to hand out Snickers and other sugary treats.  Maggie interpreted this open door as a grand welcoming gesture and sprinted towards it.  After plowing through the kids assembled on the step, she nearly knocked over the poor lady inside and entered the house.  By now, she was completely overcome with excitement at her good fortune.  She quickly began running laps around her new house, entering the kitchen, living room, hallway and any other place not protected by a closed door.  At one point she even jumped up on the couch to greet the visibly shocked gentleman watching television with kisses.  By this time, Chad had regained his composure enough to realize what was happening and headed to the house to try to contain the chaos that Hurricane Maggie was wreaking.  Seeing Chad rushing towards her, Maggie's game had just moved from "Oh My God, this is so much fun!" to "THIS IS THE GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!".  With Chad giving chase, the laps around the stranger's house continued for several more minutes.

Chad was eventually able to dive on top of her and get her back in her leash.  Luckily, and much to the credit of the poor victims of this home invasion, all red-faced apologies were dismissed as unnecessary as they had previously owned a lab and fully understood how such an event could occur.  Chad, on the other hand, decided that Maggie had had enough trick-or-treating for the evening and returned her home to hand out candy with KT and I instead.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why I Quit Cable

We gave up on cable a little over a year ago and switched to an Apple TV/Netflix combo which has suited us quite well.  However, we received an advertisement in the mail yesterday from Comcast claiming that we could add a DVR and 140 channels for only $10.00 more a month (we still get our internet through Comcast).  The only thing I truly missed about not having cable was being able to watch Gopher football and basketball games from the comfort of my own home.  To me, this would be worth the extra cost.  So, I decided to investigate.  The following is a transcript of my "live chat" with Comcast today:

Chris: Hi, what questions can I answer about upgrading your service or adding a new line of service?
You: I am currently paying $79.95 for internet only. Am I reading your current deals correctly that I can add 140 cable channels, get a HD box and DVR for only $10 more a month via the xfinity double play?
Chris: I'd be happy to provide you the information regarding on your concern. To better assist you I would like to ask a few questions.
Chris: Thank you for being a Comcast customer! What services do you currently have with us?
You: internet
Chris: Prices and plans vary by location, however we can definitely take a look at the available offers in your area. May I please have your complete address and zip code?
You: (I gave my address)
Chris: Thank you for providing your complete address. Please hold on as I check the address that you provided.
Chris: I apologize, I am still looking at your address.
Chris: Thank you for waiting. I apologize, however the package that you are looking to have is already expired. Just to clarify, do you want to keep your current Internet Service?
You: yes i want to keep my internet. the package i am looking at says it expires on 9/22/14
You: it is called the starter xf double play
Chris: I apologize, however it is expired on last June. To recommend the best TV package, may I ask what particular channels are you looking to have?
Chris: How are things coming along?
You: this is copied from your website: Offer ends 9/22/14 and is limited to new residential customers. Not available in all areas. Requires subscription to Digital Starter TV and Blast!® Internet service. (I copied all the legalese here but blah, blah, blah)
You: I don't think we are looking at the same package, as this one clearly states the expiration date is 9/22/14
Chris: Please hold on as I get the information for you.
Chris: Thank you for waiting. Yes, you are right. The plan that you have selected is really fantastic! To make sure it meets all of your entertainment needs, what types of things do you do online?
You: Where can I see what television channelss are included with this package?
Chris: How are things coming along?
You:  Where can I see what television channels are included with this package?
Chris: Are you still with me?
You: Yes, I have asked twice, and now a third time: Where can I see what television channels are included with this package?
You: are you still with me, chris?
Chris: I haven’t heard from you in a while. Would you like to continue to chat?
Chris: I would be happy to assist you today, however I'm afraid that if I don't hear from you I will not be able to stay and keep this chat open.
You: Chris, are you in a tunnel? Is your internet connection bad? Do you use Comcast for your internet connection?
Chris: Thank you for visiting Comcast today. I hope you'll come visit us again soon.
Chris: Have a great day.

Now I remember one of the reasons we dropped cable.  I'll be at the bar watching the Gophers on Saturday if anyone wants to join.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Outfit Today

My outfit today:

Tennis shoes, non-visible socks
Tan cargo shorts, six pockets (per Middle Age Man handbook, article IV, section XIII)
Blue and white checked button down short-sleeved shirt

Number of comments I have received in the vein of "how dressed up I am today": nearing 10

Conclusion:  My normal choice of clothing lies somewhere between extremely hungover college student and recently homeless

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


A week or so ago flyers were posted all around the neighborhood about a missing cat, "Darwin". This evening on our walk, Kate and I found him. He was in a small wooded area and looked a little beat up, but in pretty good shape. We gently called out his name and crouched down, trying not to spook him. He meowed a few times and then warily approached us. Kate scooped him up and we start beelining the five blocks to home so we could call the number on the flyer and then steadfastly refuse the award because that is how awesome we are. After about half a block, Darwin began to protest being carried, but Kate held tight. After a block, Darwin brought out the claws, forcing Kate to put him down. Undaunted, we rushed home to call the owners and at least let them know where to find their beloved pet. Upon reaching the flyer, phone in hand, we examined the photo and came to the abrupt realization that the cat we were rescuing was definitely not Darwin and we were guilty of attempted catnapping. So, sorry about that.

Dad Pants

Urgent Public Service Announcement: When attending a college orientation with your child, the following is the required dress code for males:

1. Golf shirt. Acceptable colors include beige, ecru, cream, mushroom, tan, off-white, light brown, sand, neutral, black or oatmeal. Lowest neck button should be buttoned. If you possess neck hair, it should be proudly pube-ing out from beneath an undershirt.

2. Shorts. These are acceptable in only tan or blue. They must possess no fewer than six visible pockets. The shorts must end no more than one inch above or below the middle of the knee cap.

3. Ankle or "No See Um" socks. These can be visible, but someone is really going to have to make an effort to spot them.

4. Tennis shoes. Brand is not important, but style is. They must look like you could easily break into an extended jog, but you are just choosing not to. They should be basic in color (never white) and are allowed to have one small amount of colorful flair (i.e. the middle adidas stripe can be brightly colored).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Karma is...

This morning while pedaling to work, I spotted a women's wallet laying in the street just under a car.  At first I kept going, the "none of my business" mantra ringing in my ears.  Soon, however, Lutheran guilt took over and I circled back, picked it up and opened it.  It was the mother lode - debit cards, credit cards, a fistful of cash and a driver's license.  I looked at the license - it was for a woman in her 30's who (certainly not coincidentally) lived right by where I found it.  I shut the wallet, walked my bike up to the door and began knocking (it was before 7:00).  After repeated knockings and doorbell ringings, nobody answered.  So, I wrote a brief note saying "Found this in the street Monday morning at about 7:00.  I tried knocking, but didn't get an answer.  Hope this finds you safely.  Have a nice day."  I then wrapped the note around the wallet and placed it between the screen door and front door and biked off.

My immediate payback came in the form of getting caught in the rain on my way to work.  Ironically, had I not stopped and tried to return the wallet, I would have most likely made it to work before the rain began.  Thanks, karma.

Friday, March 28, 2014


My feet hate me.

My feet have always been abnormally flat.  I am the poster child for flat feet draft deferment.  When I was a child, my cousins and other various relatives would plead with me to get my feet wet and walk on the pavement so they could marvel and laugh hysterically at the shape of my footprint.  I have, as KT termed it, an "Anti-Arch".  My feet actually bow very slightly outward where an arch should be.  To this day, people who have known me since I was young will occasionally ask me to remove my shoes and socks so they can see the freak show.

A few years back my left foot decided to up the game.  While doing some very mild hiking in non-appropriate footwear (KT has since made the wearing of Chuck Taylors verboten), I felt a twinge in my foot.  It wasn't painful, really, but just felt kind of strange.  Within two days, it was nearly impossible to walk.  I was eventually diagnosed with a stress fracture right at the point where an arch should have been.  Crutches and a walking boot ruled my life for the four six (first follow up appointment showed my feet to heal abnormally slow) weeks.  Fortunately, the pain subsided after the first week and they gave me enough pharmaceutical help to get through it.  The icing on the cake was when my doctor informed me that I have arthritis in my feet, which explained their perpetual soreness.

The latest fun thing my feet are experimenting with is gout.  Also known as gouty arthritis, podagra or the "disease of kings", gout is the build up of uric acid - never mind, just google it.  I have had it now two, possibly three (rethinking an instance way back when my foot gave me a particularly bothersome stretch) times.  It is insanely painful.  It is perhaps best personified in the artist James Gillray's 1799 caricature (thanks Wikipedia!):

I had to shelter my foot last night to ensure the blanket would not touch it and send me writhing in pain.  The pain is ridiculous enough, but the best part about gout is the whole "insult to injury" thing.  There isn't a lot of sympathy for gout.  It's thought to afflict only those whose diet consists of (1) red meat and (2) alcohol.  I may be guilty of one of those, but not both (feel free to judge which one).  The last time I was afflicted, the reactions ranged from irrepressible laughter (KT) to "Jesus, throw in a salad!" (my brother).  The silver lining is it only lasts a few days and when it lifts it feels like when you finally start to feel normal from the world's worst hangover.  I lay in bed as I write this -  my foot propped up and a three foot (no pun intended) "do not enter" radius surrounding it - anxiously waiting for that sweet, glorious relief.

I'm excited to see what step (the puns are just too easy) my feet decide to take next.  I imagine it's going to involve some sort of flesh-eating bacteria.  KT and I have been fretting over our future, when my feet decide to give out entirely.  I am far too large and she is far too small for her to be carrying me around.  So far the only thing we can come up with is sister-wives and we don't feel like moving.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Sh*t You Not

Because it is both horrifying and fascinating, here, in chronological order, is what KT has ingested since her last documented BM (she not only documents, but rates BMs):

1.  One (1) Large Wendy's Chili, w/everything
2.  One (1) Medium Wendy's fries
3.  One (1) party platter of grocery store sushi, imported from California  **note - this should read minus one piece.  KT arrived home from work Friday with a party platter of sushi, declaring "I got dinner for us!"  I expressed some hesitation over sushi made in California then shipped via (hopefully) refrigerated rail to Hopkins where it was then transferred via a (hopefully) refrigerated truck to our local store where it was (hopefully) immediately placed in a refrigerated area where KT (hopefully) quickly grabbed it and brought it home.  KT took my reservation as an official declaration of my disinterest and proceeded to "annex" the entire platter under KT Kruschkev's control minus one piece I was able to sample.
4.  One (1) Summit Frost Line Rye
5.  One (1) Bottle of Prosecco
6.  Two (2) pieces of white bread, toasted.
7.  Two (2) eggs, fried
8.  One (1) shitload butter
9.  Coffee -  several, several cups
10.  One (1) "taco-in-a-bag" consisting of beef, sour cream, cheddar cheese, salsa, onion, pepper, Cool Ranch Doritos, taco seasoning and shredded lettuce.
11.  One (1) Summit Frost Line Rye
12.  Two (2) Tasty Pizza chicken wings w/blue cheese
13.  One (1) Miller Lite, tap (large)
14.  Pizza, undetermined quantity, featuring Canadian bacon, pineapple and saurkraut
15.  One (1) pear cider (medium)
16.  One (1) red velvet chocolate covered Easter candy egg (purely as research for her yearly "Do They Make Peanut-Butter Meltaway Eggs Anymore?" project)
16a. (see number twenty-six (26) below and repeat)
17.  One (1) glass box wine, chardonnay
18.  Two (2) small bowls taco meat, one (1) including store bought guacamole
19.  Coffee - several, several cups
20.  Pancakes, undetermined quantity
21.  Syrup + Butter, unknown quantity
22.  Two (2) turkey sausage links
23.  (see number ten (10) and repeat)
23a.  One (1) BM - bloody mary, that is
24.  Two (2) Samoa Girl Scout cookies
25.  Six (6) pancakes with fake butter
26.  One (1) spoonful of chicken salad
27.  One (1) slice Muenster cheese
28.  One (1) Harp's lager

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

This is what KT and I are getting each other for this most sacred of holidays:

Her to Me -

1)  She has entertained the notion of going to see The Monument Men with me, even going so far as to independently research show times and theaters with captions.  This is huge for her as normally her attention span lasts half way through a trailer, making sitting through a 110 minute movie (she may not realize the length, so shh) quite a sacrifice.  Not to mention she will have to endure nearly two hours of my insatiable man crush on Matt Damon.

2)  She will not, after she has fallen sound asleep tonight and I am still awake, have the following argument when I turn to the Olympics (which she has determined to be A) boring, B) depressing and C) *toss off motion*)

KT - "Don't turn, I was watching that!"
Me - "No you weren't.  Your eyes were closed and there is a line of drool coming out of your mouth"
KT - "But is was listening to it!"

3)  She will trim my eyebrows to make me less Garrison Keillor-ish

Me to Her -

1)  I have paper-clipped the rear bumper of her car back to the rest of it.  Yes, I used a paper clip to secure the bumper to the car so that it no longer drags or nearly drags on the ground when driven.  It is a foolproof fix.  The car still sounds like it is dragging several cats underneath it when you turn, go over a bump, accelerate, run the fan or put the keys in the ignition, but the bumper is firmly secured with a paper clip.  Baby steps.

2)  I will move our sole cable box (and the 13 shitty channels it offers) from the living room into our bedroom so that KT can watch her Bravo shows when she wakes at 12:30, 1:45, 2:20, 3:40, 4:15 and then for good at 6:00.  As I am asleep, she won't have to listen to me childishly bitch and moan about how incredibly offensively moronic I find her Bravo shows.

3)  I will drink.  In an effort to cut calories, I have been avoiding alcohol on "school" nights.  Last night, KT informed me that she likes "Drinking Paul" because then she doesn't feel strange about having a glass of wine alone.  So, honey, tonight, just for you, I will drink.

Romance is alive and well in the Kruse household.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shut the F Up, Dennis

I attended a seminar for work today.  I wasn't exactly thrilled about the prospect, but realize they are sometimes necessary and I didn't really mind getting out of the office for a day.  Best case scenario I could sit in the back and daydream for seven hours.  I was disappointed upon arriving as I realized there were only three of us and the instructor there and going unnoticed would be impossible.

At 9:00, Kurt (our instructor) got us started.  We made small talk for a while, introduced ourselves and Kurt set the outline for the day, finishing with this bit of good news: "Officially, I say the seminar is over at 4:00, but yesterday I had a group of 24 people and we were done by 2:30.  So, I'll let you guys dictate the pace but we should be wrapped up pretty early today."  Tom, Rebecca (my classmates) and I shot each other conspiratorial grins, flipped open our workbooks and we were off.  Things were flowing at a great pace and I was planning my agenda for an unexpected afternoon off.  Then, at exactly 9:36 AM, Dennis happened.

The warning signs came early.  Dennis burst into the room wearing a leather coat (unzipped), a red and blue denim shirt (right side red, left side blue, divided at the buttons) and a giant (seriously, giant) belt buckle.  Like a dog looking to take a dump, he examined four empty tables before settling on one to sit at.  Once he finally was seated, Kurt welcomed him, introduced himself and casually asked if he was stuck in traffic.  Dennis replied "Nope".  Pause.  Pause.  Uncomfortable silence.  Pause.  Finally, Kurt realized no explanation of the tardiness was forthcoming and began speaking again.  It was the only time all day Dennis was short for words.

We were on page four of our workbook when Dennis arrived.  I was finding the class interesting, the instructor a nice guy and the pace just to my liking.  One hour after Dennis arrived, we were still on page four.  Kurt could not say four sentences before Dennis would interject with a question.  It's ok to ask questions.  After all, that is what these seminars are for.  What Dennis was asking, however, were the most idiotic, mundane, banal questions that Kurt and everyone else in the room assumed Dennis was joking the first few times.  And, in the rare case that Dennis couldn't think of a question, he would interrupt anyways.  At one point he halted Kurt and said, "There is a guy I worked with, who was unemployed before we hired him.  We hired him on the 15th and by the 21st, he quit and was unemployed again."  Pause.  Pause.  Kurt, who by now had learned to not pause quite so long, asked "Is that why you are taking this class today?  You are filling in for the duties he was performing?".  Dennis replied, "No.  I just can't understand how some people will just quit a job before even having another one."  On page six of my workbook is the following scribble:  STFU Dennis

This continued until nearly noon, when Kurt started talking about taking a break for a bit so that people could stretch their legs, have a bite to eat and we would reconvene in 30 minutes.  This was good news as the conference room had a pitcher of water on each table, and as I was alone at my table I made it my personal mission to empty the thing.  I was getting ready to make my exit when Dennis blurted out, "Before we break, can I ask a couple of quick questions?"  Page eight of my workbook has this at the bottom:  D, STFU!

After lunch, Dennis remembered that he had brought his phone with.  He began furiously snapping pictures of the power point presentation on the screen, which - not coincidentally - was exactly the same as the pages of our workbook.  He snapped so many pictures that his battery became drained.  No worries, as Dennis had brought his charger.  Rather than plug his phone into the outlet next to his chair, however, Dennis decided to plug it into the power strip with the projector in the front of the room.  Over the course of the next two hours, class was brought to a screeching halt no less than four times as Dennis would get up, walk to the front of the room, stand directly in front of Kurt and check his phone.  Finally satisfied it had charged sufficiently, he brought it back to his table with him and proceeded to make a phone call.  He didn't leave, he didn't apologize and I'm quite sure he didn't notice that class had - once again - stopped for him.  Ten minutes later, Dennis received a phone call.  His side of the conversation was this:  "Hi.  I can't talk.  I'm in the middle of a conference."  Yet that is exactly what you were doing, Dennis.  You were talking.  In the middle of a fucking conference.  On page 17 of my workbook is this:  DENNIS, SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Finally, at 3:55 Kurt began wrapping things up.  My dreams of a half day were crushed, but I still had a jump start on the rest of my day, even considering a longer than normal commute.  When Kurt asked the standard, "Does anyone have any questions?" that all good instructors are required to do before dismissing you, Rebecca, Tom and I quickly looked at the floor and avoided eye contact, as is the only sane thing to do in that situation.  Dennis, however, began rambling once more.  I couldn't take it.  I stood up, grabbed my coat, shook Kurt's hand, said thanks and hightailed it.  Following my lead, Tom and Rebecca made it out as well (I'm pretty sure I am their hero).  Poor Kurt, however, had no escape.  He may still be there.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Profiles in Courage

I was a scrawny kid.  To those who know me in my current form without the benefit of having known me back in the day, this may be somewhat difficult to fathom.  It is true, however, and I have the photos to prove it.

It's okay to be a scrawny kid.  Millions of kids have survived and indeed flourished later in life despite the difficulties being a weakling can cause.  The key to making it through this difficult time is knowing when to shut up.  When just about everybody (both sexes included) could easily whoop your ass, you should instinctively know that it isn't in your best interest to be an asshole.  To point, you don't see a rabbit sassing a wolf - it would be idiotic and suicidal.  Being a human, however, gives you the power to overcome these natural instincts and do the exact opposite of what all logic dictates.  It is an amazing gift that separates humans from other animals.  It can also be a horrific curse in the hands of a scrawny kid with a big mouth.

As a kid, my diminutive size was in direct opposite proportion to the size of my mouth.  I would push, nitpick, tease and aggravate until the only possible course of action for the object of my annoyance was to pummel me.  Rarely did anyone get that pleasure, however, as I had a knack for knowing the right moment to flee to the safety of my house, a teacher or other safe zone.  One memorable instance, however, I was caught.  Two neighborhood kids - who in reality were probably my size, but my memory paints them as giants - had me trapped.  I don't recall if it was a specific transgression that caused them to seek retribution on me or just a culmination of several years of being a chronic asshole, but these two were mad.  They ambushed me, catching me alone in the backyard, undoubtedly throwing my Nerf football in the air repeatedly as I had an OCD tendency to do as a youngster.  I was screwed.  After realizing that apologizing profusely and begging for mercy weren't going to help, I whimpered helplessly and prepared for my beat down.  Before the first punch was thrown, however, a miracle occurred.  My brother, whose presence I was unaware of, stepped out of the house and inserted himself into the melee.

Now, the tables were turned.  It was a fair fight and these two bullies were about to feel the wrath of the Krusey Brothers!  As my brother approached, the kid holding me back released his grip on me to prepare for whatever my brother may have had in store.  Realizing my opportunity, I reacted with adrenaline fueled speed and precision.  I jerked my arms away from my captor and ran like a bat out of hell into the house, locking the door behind me.  Cherishing my good fortune, I made it to my bedroom window just in time to peek under the blinds and watch my brother take the beating that was rightfully mine.

The next day, to thank my brother, I repeatedly threw the aforementioned Nerf football at him while he mowed the lawn.  After finally reaching his boiling point, he calmly looked directly at me, tilted the mower back on two wheels and placed it down on my beloved football, sending a confetti shower of foam over me as I sobbed uncontrollably at the raw injustice of it all.

This has been Profiles in Courage.  Join us next time for the story of the time I hid in my basement closet for six hours after throwing a rock at a car.