Monthly Archives: October 2013

I Soiled My Brother’s Bell Bottoms On Halloween

My costume this year is Garth from SNL’s Garth and Kat (see below).

Last night, driving home from last-minute Halloween costume shopping (I know, I said I wasn’t going to do that, but hey the costume is good), my wife asked me when Halloween changed from being a holiday (or pagan ritual) where you dressed up as something scary to a holiday where you can dress up as anything—wearing as much or as little as you like. I didn’t have the answer. However, her question got me thinking of Halloweens of old.

I’d Rather Be Silly Than Scary

As long as I can remember, with the exception of maybe a homemade tiger outfit my mom made me when I was a wee lad, I’ve never dressed up as anything frightening. Grotesque, bloody, or repulsive outfits are not my thing. Some of you like scary. You love the horror movies that make you feel like Satan is breathing down your neck or a murderer will tie you up and throw you in his/her van as you’re walking to your car. I do not. I prefer Casper, The Burbs, Hocus Pocus, Zombie Land, Nightmare Before Christmas—essentially I prefer kid or comedy Halloween.

My Costumes Are Proof

So, rather than dress up like Freddie, Jason, or a guy who recently got run over, I dress up in costumes that make me laugh, even if no one else thinks they’re funny. One year I thought I’d make a killing dressing up as a “weird hippie.” Clearly I lacked originality, but hey, I was in the fourth grade, I didn’t know that. Since I didn’t have hippie clothes or money to buy any, I raided my older brother’s closet and found his off-white, color-striped bell bottoms. He wouldn’t know I wore them, right? I’d just slip them back in his closet at the end of the night. If I would have known then that the next time I brought them home they would be covered in poo, I wouldn’t have taken them.

I Soiled My Brother’s Bell Bottoms On Halloween

As I said before, I was in the 4th grade when it happened. I wish I could say it was the last time I soiled my pants, but alas, two years living in Mexico and a dairy intolerance would make that statement a lie. It was Halloween night and I was happy as a weird hippie could be trick or treating in the neighborhoods within a couple mile radius of my parents’ house. Everyone was opening their doors, candy was being tossed about like a drug lord’s money, and crazy kids were snatching it up without hesitation and slipping it into their plastic buckets or pillow cases.

All was well and then it happened. My stomach started to growl a vicious growl, a growl so low and rumbly it could only mean one thing: if I didn’t get to a bathroom soon, I was going to mess my pants.

I hurried to the next house. The owner opened the door, candy bucket in hand, waiting for me to say the three magic words. But trick or treat never left my mouth, instead a rushed, perhaps overly excited, “Can I use your bathroom?” passed through my lips. The large man in the dumb orange shirt that had This Is My Halloween Costume written on the front gawked as if he’d never heard such a request. I recomposed and said, “please,” but to no success. He just handed me a peanut butter taffy and said, “I don’t think so.”

I rushed to several more houses and asked the same question to the same results. Somehow, every decent person in the world was willing to open their door and hand out candy to strangers, but no one would let me use their bathroom—candy cost money, letting me go to the bathroom cost nothing and I’d even flush a couple of times during the download so it didn’t stink. No argument prevailed. I had but one course left: run the mile or so to my parents’ house. Which, if you have any experience in nearly pooping your pants, you know is a near impossibility.

I made it to the field 100 yards from my house and had to stop running. I shuffled forward a few feet but it was of no use. My stomach won the race and my clenched buttocks unclenched. The next thing I knew I was in my parents’ laundry room throwing out my socks.

Despite The Mess, Halloween Was Still A Success

My brother came home before I could scrape the pants and properly wash them. He was mad and relentlessly mocked me. But that’s okay. Moments later, changed into my PJs, I was sitting Native American style in a circle with my siblings. I was once more a participating member in our annual candy trading session. The delicious sweets overshadowed the accident and I made some good trades. After all that had happened, the night was not a waste (no pun intended). And it only took a few years for my brother to stop calling me poopy hippie.

As messy as that Halloween was, it is cemented (perhaps not the best word to use here) in my memory as one of my favorite Hallow’s Eve memories. It was hilarious.

For Those Of You Who Like Scary More Than Silly, Check This Out:

If you have a little money and a bit of time and you love the frightening aspect of Halloween, you should probably visit these seven terrifying haunted attractions around the world:

Happy Halloween! Have any scary or embarrassing memories of October 31st? I bet you can’t top mine.


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My Near-Death Experience In A Snow Igloo

A quinzhee made in Finland

Our igloo looked nothing like this one.

In honor of winter—everyone’s favorite season—I’ll be traveling back in time to a more care-free period of my existence. I was 14 or maybe 15, I had a great group of friends, and I lived in a small town about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia.

Unlike the thick and blustery winters I experience here, in Salt Lake City, the winters there were pretty pathetic; and people’s preparation for the cold was even more pathetic—they’d close school for one inch of snow. Here, kids trudge and shiver through feet of snow on their way to elementary school. But that’s beside the point.

One Time I Almost Died

Or at least, in the moment, I really thought, “This is it. This is how I’m heading out of this cold world.” And when I thought cold, I was referring to the weather. Like I mentioned before, it was winter.

As it didn’t snow a ton in Pennsylvania, my pals and I did the best with the snow we had. One day, possibly a weekend, probably a weekday after school, we were making an igloo in the only probable spot: the pile of snow made by the city plow.

Now, all of us came from good homes with good parents and had heard from our moms that making igloos is a dangerous business; “kids die in them every year.” We’d also heard our dads say, “when you make an igloo, make sure to pack the snow first, so it doesn’t collapse.” We happily ignored both bits of counsel. Igloos are fun and packing the snow beforehand makes them smaller.

English: An igloo made for fun by teenage boys...

Here’s another sample of what our igloo DID NOT look like. And those aren’t my shoes.

The snow mound was probably six to eight feet tall. We had excavated a sizable hole and were in the process of shaping the inside and outside. My friends worked on the outer edge as I cleared snow from the inside—something I realize now was not the safest of arrangements.

They (I’m not sure who they are) say your senses amplify when you’re about to die, that your survival instincts kick in and your suddenly able to see, hear, smell, and taste everything clearer than ever before. I do remember hearing the crunch and then feeling the crack in my back when the igloo collapsed and six feet of snow pinned me to the ground, but what I remember most is not being able to breathe.

My life didn’t pass before my eyes. I didn’t see the faces of my loved ones or reach out longingly to my future wife. I just thought, “you gotta be kidding me. I’m going to die like this, trapped in a pile of dirty snow and gravel. What a dumb way to die.” Of course I was scared, but I was almost more angry. I could’t go like this.

I had already tried to lift myself and failed. But somehow I found the strength and the will to get my knees beneath me. From there, with all the force I could muster, I pushed upward, towards the sky, towards life. To my amazement it worked. My face broke the surface. I took a deep breath and was dug out by my panicked friends.

Once I was out my friends started laughing. I said nothing to them. I just threw punches in their direction. Without a word I headed home. Those dumb kids had no idea how frightened and mad I was. Only now do I realize that I was only able to get out because they were digging on top, probably frantically digging. I never said thanks. Thanks friends.

For two weeks I could barely move. My back just hurt too bad. I probably sprained it. But I was breathing, walking, alive—something I need to remember more often.

I’m breathing, walking, alive.

Happy Winter. Don’t make igloos.

Have you had a near-death experience? What happened? What ran through your mind?

Building an iglu in Cape Dorset (southern regi...

This isn’t me.

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Horse Trotting Through The Mall With Claire

Yesterday Rinda picked me up from work and we drove home together. It was nice. Instead of two hours on bus and train, it was only 50 minutes in car, and I was with my family.

Play Time

We didn’t go straight home, which was also nice. We went to the mall. Rinda went to West Elm to order a butter dish. Claire and I stayed outside to play. A creek runs through the middle of this mall and there are benches, chairs, and couches spread throughout, most on the banks of the small river. I don’t know why, but I told Claire that it would be so funny to run and sit on a chair.
We did. We ran. We giggled. We sat on a chair, very briefly, and then we ran to the next sitting spot. Claire thought this was the funniest, most fun thing in the world. And she was right. Running through this mall, pretending to be on a horse and trotting my way down the winding paths, my little girl at my heels or right in front of me, her crazy curly hair flying behind her, her small hand pointing to a chair in the distance and saying, “look dad, that one is sooo funny” is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. And I’m not exaggerating.

Looking Like A Fool 

Rinda loved seeing her grown-up husband horse trot through the mall giggling like a little kid too. Actually, she didnt’t care at all, because like me, she knows that looking like a fool in public is worth it if it makes your child happy. That being said, she probably could have done without my yelling, “hi ho silver” as I galloped about.

I love my family.

PS, the short dance parties we had in every store that was playing dancey music were also awesome.

We ended the night with Mexican food (see video below). What a day.

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Yes, I’m A Fan Of Harry Potter

English: Coat of arms of Hogwarts school of wi...

Rinda surprised me with a gift: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cook Book. So awesome. I had admired it a number of times at Barnes and Noble and had even expressed desires to drink Butterbeer, eat Cauldron Cakes, and devour Pumpkin Pasties (not those kind of pasties)—now I can.

The gift wasn’t for a special occasion, but as it’s connected (even if unofficially) to the Harry Potter world, it’s a perfect Fall, Halloween, and early Christmas gift. My wife knows her man. (Now I need to stop sucking at surprising her… maybe this was a hint).

The cook book has paragraphs explaining where in the series the food was mentioned or consumed, and even goes over the history of the cuisine. I cannot express how excited I am to try the many desserts, the fruit and meat pies, the treacle tart!

Harry Potter Is Important To me

Few pieces of fiction have meant as much to me as Harry Potter. I know, you’re thinking, really? And my answer is… really.

There’s something about the friendship, magic, humor, history, school (Hogwarts), food!, the combined efforts to fight evil in Harry Potter (and so much more) that makes it a fun, but also important, and even invaluable read.

Don’t Disregard Fiction

I can’t help but get annoyed when someone disregards the series because “it’s for kids,” or “I don’t read fiction.” If it’s for kids, good, we’re all children, read it and learn something. If you don’t read fiction, start. The human imagination, its ability to perceive the imperceivable, to assign meaning, to find value, to appreciate life’s wonders, is one of our great abilities; don’t put it on the shelf or use it sparingly, only with “true” stories. Truth does not require a historical document. Sometimes all it needs is a reconciliation between understanding and experience, something that can occur, and often does occur, vicariously.

With Food I Can Transcend

To be honest, I won’t mind if cooking and eating dishes from Harry Potter brings me one step further into the magical world created by J.K. Rowling. I wish it were a real world. What a dream it would be to disapparate and turn up in The Burrow; to have Mrs. Weasley invite me to sit down to dinner and dessert with her family and her guests (she always has guests); to finish a bounteous meal and then just sit together in the front room, too full to speak, with only Celestina Warbeck’s “A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love” playing on the wireless to interrupt our stupor.

Yeah, I’m a fan.

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Dear Government: Grow Up Or You’re Grounded

Yesterday my wife and I ate dinner with some friends. The food was delicious, the conversation lively, and the company fun and refreshing. While we talked, Claire, our two-year-old daughter, ran around and played with Elliot, our friends’ four-year-old son—it’s amazing how loud two little people can be.

Claire and Elliot had a lot of fun screaming, spinning on chairs, playing tag, starting 6 different movies. They had fun playing with Elliot’s toys, but also got into a lot of tussles because of them. Elliot wanted to play with his toys. Claire wanted to play with “her” toys (if she was holding a toy, it was hers). Therefore the battle. Elliot wanted control of his own toys and Claire doesn’t quite understand the idea of ownership and is still getting used to sharing.

They are children. They feel entitled, they seek independence, they want stuff. They are children.

The Government Is Not A Child

The government feel entitled. They refuse to play with the other side (both sides) and each new movement/party/cause, rather than seek out collaboration, seeks their own agenda and further alienates themselves. The government wants stuff but forgets that everything they have—their freedom, their authority, their stewardship—was given to them by others, others whose interest should take priority over constant tussles for this or that toy.

Like a child needs to learn to share, our government needs to learn to work together. You should be weary of individuals and parties who will not, under any circumstance, work with another team. That’s childish. Sadly, unlike with children, there is no time out, no chair in the corner, no go to bed early for our friends in power. Rather, they keep lining their pockets while paychecks for hard-working Americans get put on hold, while real people are affected.

As my brother Chris would say: grow up.

*This post REALLY is not meant to be an attack on any specific group, party, or person. It’s me venting about two sides that need to remember why they’re doing what they’re doing.

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