Don’t Call Me Zeemo — The Early Days of James Alexander

My nickname growing up was Zeemo Butts. Don’t ask me why, just trust me, it was fitting.

I was a ornery little kid. I don’t mean regular kid behavior–occasionally fussy, often-time annoying, great at a tantrum or two when mom refused a second piece of toast–I mean ornery, like those stink-eyed old men who own Scottish Terriers. Each morning I’d stand eye level with my parent’s bed and wake them up by yelling “I want to eat!”

When writing down reasons she loved her children, my mother came up with this for me: I love James because, well, he’s just so ornery. That would seem a lot nicer if parents didn’t find most weird things their kids do endearing. I should know, I thought it was adorable the first time my daughter Claire barfed all over the place. She is almost 6 months old now and barf is barf.

So why am I writing about this? Let’s just say it’s an illustration. In popular films the protagonist undergoes a change; the audience needs to witness that change for it to have any meaning. If Bill Murray wasn’t an a-hole in the beginning of Groundhog’s Day, him fixing a flat tire for some old ladies, later on in the film, would mean nothing.

Now, I am not popular or a character in a film, but I am a person with a story. In my tale, I started as an ornery kid and ended up where I am now–a soon to be 27-year-old who fancies himself far too humorous. Confession: the problem is not that I find myself funny, it’s that I find myself funny and don’t care if anyone else does. Selfish? Probably. My wife Rinda calls it alienating. I see it as a way to keep my chin up as I walk the cobble-stone streets of life.

This is me then:

I’m the dapper dude on the far left (apparently I even dressed like a grumpy old man). Ornery? readers might ask. “You look perfectly normal and even stunningly handsome.” True. However, I never said I didn’t smile (this is a picture, you are supposed to smile), I said I was a grouchy kid. I like to credit my smile in this picture to the hand behind my back. Perhaps I just passed gas, cupped some of it in my right hand, and am patiently awaiting the end of the photo session so I can present it to my older brother Nate (sweatered kid on far right). Alas, that is not true, but it makes me laugh.

So how did I get from ornery little kid to me? Here comes the lesson portion of this entry. I was ornery because I chose to be. I know this for two reasons: my mom tells me so and I have a vivid memory that supports my claim.

1. I am the 3rd of 9 children. I grew up in an awesome home with plenty of teasing and sufficient horseplay. After a sibling teased me or something unfortunate happened, my mom would watch my face and see the cogs click and turn in my brain. She could tell I was deciding whether to laugh or get mad. Almost undoubtedly I chose to get angry.

and

2. I had the seemingly rare opportunity (in today’s America) to grow up a stones-throw-away from my paternal grandparents. My siblings and I loved going to their small farm, and later, double wider. Grandpa let us pick rhubarb out of his garden, grandma gave us sugar wafers, and they hosted regular family picnics–red and white, checkered-table-cloth and all. My grandparents were loving, giving, and always present at important events. They were also teasers, especially my grandma. If my grandmother cracked a joke or poked fun at me, I would scrunch up my face and scowl at her. One day, after a trip to grandma’s, my mom turned to me and said, “you know James, if you don’t stop acting like such a grouch, your grandma’s not going to like you anymore.”

I’m not sure my mom understands the profound effect that statement had on me. I didn’t want to be disliked by my OWN grandma–talk about uncool. From that point on I made a conscious effort to laugh. That being said, it still came as a surprise to my parents when their son, who at the age of four had said, “when I turn five I ain’t going to school and I ain’t going to church neither,” was reported to be the class clown in Mrs. Douse’s kindergarten class.

I guess there is a hidden comic in everyone, even if the joke teller is the only one laughing.

This is us now (of course we are with Flavor Flav at a Halloween party), and then there is baby Claire in a new hat:

UNFUNNY HUSBAND MOMENT (One of these shall be at the end of every future post): One winter day my pregnant wife Rinda and I were driving home from Sunday dinner with my parents. It was cold; the heater was blasting; I let a stinky one. Rinda’s desire to stay warm was stronger than her desire to air out the car. The stink prevailed. Pregnant, emotional, she sobbed, “I can’t take it anymore, I can’t take this anymore.” It was sad and the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. I stifled my laughs.

FOLLOW MY BLOG (bottom right)! Have thoughts on the IMPORTANCE OF ATTITUDE IN LIFE? Want to tell an UNFUNNY MOMENT? Please share in the COMMENTS!

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If you choose not to continue reading my blog because my first post has two fart jokes in it, I understand. The title of my blog tried to warn you:
You Probably Won’t either (think I’m funny).

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12 thoughts on “Don’t Call Me Zeemo — The Early Days of James Alexander

  1. Rinda Alexander says:

    I find the title of your blog to be a little unfair (give me some credit, I do laugh at at least 25% of your jokes), but I have to admit, cutting the cheese in a car in the dead of winter while I’m 4 or 5 months pregnant and already sensitive to foul odors… really isn’t funny.

  2. Joel Ackerman says:

    It’s okay James, it’s just a wife thing. My wife doesn’t think you’re funny either. Great blog, I look forward to reading more.

  3. Joel Ackerman says:

    (For Jamie’s sake, I have to acknowledge that what I said about her not thinking your funny was a joke. Lame.)

  4. I have been that wife who just couldn’t handle the teasing anymore. Like when my husband thinks it’s funny to act like he’s mad at me for an hour and gives me the silent treatment. As a joke. And then waits until I get really upset and gives me a fat grin and says “just kidding!” Boys are weird. I feel for Rinda. I bet she’s good-natured enough to have a good laugh about crying over your farts now though. And luckily I have a really bad memory…it’s what keeps us together. Haha.

    James, I get the ornery kid turned funny kid thing. I was like that too. But i have a feeling you were meaner than I was.

    Tell Flavor Flav hi.

  5. Austin Pettit says:

    I’m a friend of Rinda’s. Sounds like she married a really nice guy. I’m anxious to read your future posts. I have 6 children and at least one is “ornery”. I think mothers like me can read your stories and find some hope that are difficult children will turn out just fine.

  6. Jason says:

    You don’t know me. I don’t know you. Apparently we both know Dusty Hulet. All I know is that the title of your blog is my exact same situation. I look forward to this. My wife says all the time, “You think you’re SO funny!” I do. I really really do think I’m funny. That’s WHY it’s funny! Anyway, look forward to your posts. Good luck and hang in there.

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