Tuesday, December 22, 2015

NyQuil has Nothing on Sandra Bullock

True Story: Sandra Bullock has superpowers.
Over the course of our marriage, Kate and I have learned the essential art of compromise regarding many things large and small. Nowhere has compromise been more essential and more difficult to achieve than in our television viewing. With a few rare exceptions, we are on completely opposite ends of the entire television viewing process. Some examples:
1) Content. I like basketball, KT does not. We experimented last Winter with cutting the cord on cable, meaning I was out of luck for basketball content sparing the few games on network television. KT would undoubtedly call the experiment a success as basketball was on our television a full 90% less than normal. For me, it was an abject failure. I didn't fully realize the extent I missed watching the beautiful game until I re-upped basic cable for this season (because, holy cow, have you seen the Timberwolves?!?!) Given the option, I would gladly sit back, watch and analyze a 7th grade B-Squad basketball game from start to finish if it were televised. KT, on the other hand, would happily ignore the NCAA Championship game even if the Gophers made a miraculous run to the final. Our compromise is this: Basketball is allowed on our television provided it is either A) The Minnesota Timberwolves, B) The Minnesota Gophers or C) The month of March. Apart from this, basketball is allowed until KT has said any combination of the following comments three times: "I'm bored", "Snore", "Enough fucking basketball already". At this point, the channel must be turned. Which brings us to example two.
2) The remote. I like to think of myself as a pretty adept remote user. I have memorized where the essential buttons are (Last/Guide/Info) and what channel number the stations I am interested in are. KT, for all her many talents, seriously sucks at using the remote. After she has made her three qualifying comments (see above), I am obliged to hand the remote over to her. For KT, it seems the remote exists of only one button: channel up. Once she commandeers the remote, she methodically presses channel up to scan through the channels until she finds something she is interested in. Considering that television was most likely tuned to basketball and the cable company tends to lump the sports channels together, this is an incredibly long and boring process. Basketball, *click*, more basketball, *click*, SportsCenter, *click*, hockey, *click*, blacked out game, *click*, blacked out game (repeat about 20 times). Usually, she becomes frustrated and loses interest after about 20 minutes and the TV ends up tuned to the Home Shopping Network or C-Span. KT has no interest in the Home Shopping Network or C-Span, but her attention span has reached it's limit (shiny things!) and so there the TV remains. If she does manage to find a show she wants to watch, she usually has somehow managed to change the settings so that everything is in Spanish. If I were a better person, I would simply take over the remote duties and flip between Bravo, E!, MTV and the other channels she is actually interested in, but I'm not a good person and I've learned that if I sit still and quiet for long enough, she eventually forgets that she has remote privileges and I can sneak the channel back to basketball for a good 20 minutes before she realizes what I've done.
3) Television while sleeping. KT must have the television on all night in order to sleep. I fought this for a few years as I prefer a pitch black room when I sleep. We tried a sleep timer, a sleeping mask to cover my eyes and even separate sleeping quarters. Over time, I came to accept that the television will be on all night and have learned to sleep through it. The only time we have a conflict is on the rare occasions that I wake up in the middle of the night with a touch of insomnia and change the channel. Even in the deepest stages of sleep, KT will groggily mutter "I was watching that" before the television has even fully tuned in a new channel. I've tried reasoning with her, explaining that no, she wasn't watching as her glasses were several inches away from her face and she was facing away from the television and she had a six inch line of drool trailing from her mouth to her pillow, but she insists that I have rudely interrupted a show she was intimately involved in and demands I immediately turn back. I can't argue what I don't understand, so turn it back I do.
4) Taking a nap in front of the television. KT absolutely insists that in order to successfully fall asleep, the television must be tuned to a program which she finds interesting. She claims that if the TV is tuned to something she finds boring (basketball, for example) she cannot fall asleep. It's an absolutely absurd concept which flies in the face of one the most universal tenets of mankind: If you are bored, you become sleepy. If you are captivated by something, you remain alert. Each time I've tried to drop this universal truth on her, however, she counters by excruciating example. She will stubbornly sit through a three hour basketball game during her nap time, neither watching the game nor falling asleep (but complaining plenty). Give her five minutes with The Real Housewives of the Kardashians, however, and she is sound asleep. It doesn't make any sense and I have abandoned all hope of understanding it. It would be impossible for us to take a nap at the same time in the same room if were not for the phenomenon more commonly known as Sandra Bullock.
5). Sandra Bullock. Both KT and I like Sandra Bullock. She is a fine actor, has roles is several good movies and seems like an all-around pleasant person. Neither of us would consider her our "favorite" performer, but we both appreciate her craft and have positive feelings about her. That being said, neither one of us has ever been able to stay awake for an entire Sandra Bullock movie. We joked about it for years, but as the evidence continued (and continues) to mount, it can no longer be ignored. Irregardless of the time of day or the particular movie, it has been proven with 100% accuracy that both of us will fall asleep before the movie has ended. I have consciously attempted to prove the theory false, failing each time. More alarmingly, we have mentioned this phenomenon to others (Greta and Audrey in particular) who, after reflection, are unable to tell us the ending of any Sandra Bullock movie either. It's eerie and a little unsettling. What kind of powers does this woman possess that allows her to lull us so quickly to sleep? Do other suffer from Sandra Bullock Induced Sleep Syndrome (S.B.I.S.S.) or is it unique to our family? Please, share. It would be comforting to know we aren't alone.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Soap Opera Parents

True story - Kate and I have become soap opera parents.
Audrey turned 20 yesterday which triggered some pretty eye-opening realities for KT and I. First, we realized that we are officially no longer the parents of teenagers (gulp). Second, we realized that Audrey is now the same age as we were when Al was born (double gulp). Finally, and most shocking, we realized that we have become "soap opera parents". Let me explain.
KT and I have always gotten a kick out of "soap opera kids". These are the kids that are seen infrequently and ever so briefly on soap operas. One of the main characters has gotten pregnant and so, as nature inevitably dictates, must have a child. This makes for a juicy plot line (who's the father? but her doctor told her getting pregnant was impossible!, etc.) and keeps audiences riveted for a good nine months (or the equivalent in TV time). After a huge buildup, the baby is finally born on a "very special" episode. It's an emotional and exciting conclusion to the pregnancy plot. After the baby is born, however, the baby needs to go away. Because, as it turns out, babies are boring. The writers can't ignore the fact that a baby was born - after all, millions of people witnessed the miraculous birth - but nobody wants to watch a little tub of goo spit up on itself and shit it's pants. So, they become "soap opera kids". A scene will open with the new parent or parents gently cooing over their new arrival. Once the baby has been acknowledged, someone will quickly and unceremoniously swoop in, grab the kid and exit stage left to allow the adults to get into the juicy stuff without a screaming brat interfering. The "soap opera kids" have made their appearance and now will disappear for several episodes before making another brief appearance to assure us they still exist.
KT and I became "soap opera parents" on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We were attending a Gopher football game that afternoon, as was Audrey. We weren't sitting together, as Audrey was going with a big group of friends, but she was nice enough to invite us to stop by her place near campus for a little pre-game (translation: alcohol) if we were interested as she and her roommates were having a tailgating party. It sounded like a good plan as I am far too cheap to pay for parking so we normally park near her place for games anyways and trek the mile or so to the stadium. It was a casual invite (or so we thought) with no real time restrictions (or so we thought) and so KT and I were in no rush to head out into the cold (or so we thought). A flurry of text messages from Audrey quickly changed everything.
12:40 - "what's ur plan?"
- (me) "Probably park at your place and walk to the game"
- "what time?"
12:49 - "you guys have to come shotgun a PBR"
12:55 - "Get over here!!! The Swansons (Audrey's roommates' parents) will shotgun with you!"
12:59 - "The Swansons are coming so giiiiitt here!"
1:10 - "Jimbo (a Swanson) is here!!!"
1:12 - "Stop ignoring me"
1:13 - "He's playing Flip Cup!!!"
- (me) "We are getting ready!"
1:14 - "ETA?"
1:15 - "You guys are terrible friends"
Our "casual" invitation had become not so casual in a head-spinning 35 minutes. KT and I were rushed, but admittedly a little excited. Be the cool parents at a college party? Hell, yeah! We can do this! I hadn't shotgunned a beer in years, but I used to "open the throat" and pour down beers as a party trick and I'm sure I still can because it's like riding a bike, right? And KT has the innate gift of tip-toeing the line between hilarious and inappropriate without ever crossing it or at least without going too far over it. We. Are. Awesome! Our presence is not just requested, but demanded! We quickly threw on our Gopher gear (sidebar and probably the subject of another true story: KT and I have very different definitions of "Gopher gear". For me, it was several layers of Maroon and Gold t-shirts, sweatshirts, pants, hats, and even socks. For KT, it was a giant fur coat and a hat that looks like a strawberry) and headed out the door. It was time to get our party on and show these college kids how it's done.
We arrived at Audrey's to a party in full swing. It was a little intimidating as good golly these kids were young and doing shots and slamming beers and singing and laughing and being alive and I had just slightly injured my back bending over to tie my shoe. We were bound and determined to be the life of the party, however (it was expected - no, demanded - of us!) so we found Audrey across the crowded room and said hello. Audrey quickly ran over to us with a couple of people, said "Hi, this is (I don't remember his name) and this is (I couldn't hear what she said)" She then turned around, grabbed two beers out of the fridge, shoved them in our hands and said, "OK, you guys should probably be going now." She guided us to the door, shooed us out and returned to her party. KT and I stood in stunned silence for a bit, looking in the window at the party raging inside. Then it hit us: we were "soap opera parents". We made our appearance for the sake of plot continuity and were quickly ushered away so the young beautiful people could return their focus to one another without the depressing reminder that age happens.
KT and I weren't insulted. We were happy to have been invited in the first place. We reminded ourselves how many of our college parties we had invited our parents to (somewhere between zero and none) and realized that Audrey was probably actually saving us from seeing things we didn't want to see. The only problem was we now had quite a bit of time to kill before kick off and only one beer to get us there. KT decided that her fur coat made her look remarkably Gopher-like and we should pass the time by taking a video of her pretending to be a Gopher scurrying from bush to bush outside the stadium. I agreed to film her as I knew saying no was fruitless. It was at this point I showed my true age by somehow managing to take a burst of 94 still photos rather than an actual moving video. I really can't blame Audrey for showing us the door.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Carson's Long Strange Trip

True story: Carson was tripping balls this weekend.
Much as other people might treat a new car, KT and I have been adamant about bringing Carson in for all his "routine scheduled maintenance" since adopting him almost nine months ago. He's a member of a wellness plan (a more palatable way of saying "we make exorbitant monthly payments whether we use the vet or not, so we might as well go"), he is up to date on all his inoculations and he gets regular tick control medication. We've even adjusted his caloric intake after sufficient shaming about how his 92.5lbs is "four to five pounds more than it should be". In short, we've been what could be called "good pet owners". Audrey observed this weekend that Carson has been to the doctor more in nine months that she has been in the past nine years. I said we were good pet owners, not good parents.
We started out as responsible pet owners with Maggie, too. We were even good about bringing Uma in for visits when she first entered our lives. Maggie, however, would spiral into the most sadly pathetic victim that we stopped taking her after a few years because we couldn't handle the intense guilt trip she would lay on us every time. Uma, on the other hand, was/is just an asshole. Whenever brought her to the vet, she would immediately hiss, drop a turd on the scale during weigh in and repeatedly attempt to bite/scratch anyone who approached her. We stopped taking her altogether when the vet told us that maybe we should only bring her in if we thought something was wrong because "cats don't have a propensity for forgiveness".
With Carson, however, we have vowed to be good and responsible pet owners. That meant dropping him off at the vet early Saturday morning for a teeth-cleaning, ear cleaning and nail trim. The procedures meant that he would be put under general anesthesia and need to stay at the vet until afternoon. KT and I weren't excited about leaving him, but remembered our vow to be good pet owners and proceeded with the appointment.
The issues began the night before. We were given strict instructions that Carson was to have no food after 7:00pm Friday, which wasn't a problem that night as he normally eats his (calorie counted!) dinner around 6:00. It became a problem at 3:00, 3:15, 3:40, 4:05, 4:30, 4:55, 5:20 and 5:45 the next morning, however. When we adopted Carson, he came pre-wired with the insane notion that anytime after 3:00am is fair game to start insisting on breakfast. He lays in bed with us waiting for the slightest sign of movement. Should one of us cough, roll over or show any signs of life, Carson will jump up and start an intricate tap dance routine on the bed until I get up and feed him. Try as we might, we have been unable to break him of the habit. Most nights it is not a big deal as I can stumble out of bed, feed him and grab a few hours more sleep. As feeding him was not an option, however, KT and I were treated to several repeat performances of the "Feed Me" song and dance routine.
Groggy and more than a little crabby, I brought Carson in bright and early on Saturday. He loves going places, so had no problem running into the vet's office, jumping on the scale and happily greeting anyone within reach. I filled out the paperwork, handed over his leash and headed for the door. As I was about to exit, the veterinarian's assistant began frantically waving me down asking me to return. Apparently, Carson determined he wasn't so excited about this appointment after all. When the poor girl (who probably weighed 10 pounds more than Carson) tried to lead him into the back, he promptly sat down and refused to budge. It was a highly effective and almost inspirational moment of passive resistance. I watched with a guilty sense of bemusement as she pulled, pushed and pleaded with Carson to come with her to no avail. Carson pulls this trick often, putting the brakes on when asked to go a direction he isn't interested in going. We once spent nearly 30 minutes in a stand -off when, in the middle of a walk, Carson determined we had gone far enough and was ready to head home. Problem was, we were walking in a new area and he had become completely confused over which direction home was. So there we sat, me pulling, begging, reasoning and chastising him to go the direction I wanted him to go (towards home) and Carson determined to go the exact opposite way. I was relieved the scene we caused didn't draw a call to the police as I dragged him nearly a block and a half (imagine driving a car with the emergency brake on) before he gave in. Anyways, back to Saturday - I watched for a few seconds before tricking Carson into thinking I would indeed be going into the back with him and leading him back there. I felt guilty about the deception, but didn't see a choice.
I got the call that he was ready to return home at 1:30. I quickly drove down to get him, planning a nice, long walk and ball-playing session for the afternoon to reward Carson for making it through to the other side. The vet greeted me when I arrived and warned that Carson was probably still a "little groggy" and should be taken home for a nap before going on a walk or playing ball. No problem, I was eager for a nap myself after the four hour tap dance performance of the night before. I signed the paperwork and the vet went back to grab my puppy. As soon as Carson came out from the back, I could tell he was completely, thoroughly stoned. He bumped into a door and then barreled right past me, completely oblivious to my (or anybody's) presence. I quickly caught up to him and knelt down to say hello. His barely opened eyes looked right through me, not only not recognizing me but I'm quite certain not even seeing me. I grabbed his leash, said our goodbyes and started out the door. Holiday shopping had the parking lot packed, so we had quite a walk to get to the car. Carson began the trek by completely spacing out that we needed to take a step down off the sidewalk curb to reach the parking lot. Instead, he barreled straight forward and gravity did the rest, toppling him over in front of confused but somewhat entertained holiday shoppers. I quickly bent down and helped him to his feet (no easy task). We gathered ourselves and continued the arduous journey, stopping frequently so Carson could gather his thoughts while people, cars and shopping carts whizzed by completely blowing his drug addled mind. Finally, we reached the car, whereupon I heaved his mostly shapeless mass into the backseat and he promptly fell asleep.
I took him home immediately, where I was forced to wake him, guide/carry him into the house and onto the couch where he immediately fell back asleep. We sat there for the next eight hours, with Carson alternating between a sleep so deep I often checked to make sure he was breathing and an episode every twenty minutes or so where he would bolt upright as if shocked back to life by CPR paddles. He would glance around with a "where in the hell am I and how in the hell did I get here?" look as I gently brought him back to a prone position with gentle petting and he would pass out again. Like a spirit guide leading someone through a bad acid trip, I slowly brought him back to reality. By the time KT got home from work early that evening, he was cognizant enough to wag his tail a few times before the exertion necessitated another four hour nap.
We were actually relieved when the 3:00am breakfast dance routine began Sunday morning. Carson had successfully made it to the other side and was himself again. We celebrated by giving him an extra 15 nuggets of dog food. Please don't tell his vet.