Tag Archives: unfunny husband

Transcendence On the Way to Preschool

Claire

In life there are few moments of transcendence, or perhaps better said, there are few moments of transcendence that we recognize and commit to memory, and even fewer that are clear enough to shift our existential bearings and redefine our hopes.

When they do happen, they’re usually fleeting, they’re often mundane (given our inability to see the forest for the trees), and unless our emotions and spirit communicate, they’re usually glanced over so as to leave no trace of meaning.

For me the dark glass is lowered and transcendence is recognized almost always in the presence of my children, in particular aside my oldest daughter Claire (four years old). It happens simply, when undeterred joy emanates from my daughter and I feel partly to blame; when somehow my being her dad and being present in her life plays a role in it all.

It has happened at a pizza parlor as Claire watches her younger sister Maren do the funniest thing ever: refuse to keep her feet off the table. I’ve been wise enough to notice it as Claire is caught in a whirlwind of leaves, a recently raked pile behind her, the remnants of fall clinging to her hair and eyebrows.

Most recently it happened in the car, on the way to preschool. Claire and I have a tradition: We crank the volume up on the radio and act wild. We do this to get our crazies out—something both of us need to do before entering the real world where calmness and put-togetherness are most admired. A hit song from a few years ago comes on and we’re both dancing; we’re both unhinged. I look back and catch a glimpse of her, lost in the moment without concern. To make her laugh, I look forward and scream. I pretend the traffic cones on the side of the road are a brick wall and I’m about to hit them. I’m nowhere near them and I hit nothing but the explosion is real; it’s Claire in the back seat, head back, erupting with laughter; she’s like an infant guffawing for the first time at something that’s only funny in the beginning: a coo, a song, a bark, the tearing of paper, an older sister shaking her head inches away.

To see this innocent, explosive, in-the-moment elation was too much for me; I sobbed. I was happy. I was sad. I was nostalgic. I was worrying about the day she wouldn’t think a fake collision with traffic cones was funny anymore. I was in limbo.

I was no longer in the car. I was no longer on earth. I was outside looking in. I entered a realm that felt like home in a strange land. The meaning was clear and it was mine. And then I watched my Claire put on her backpack and walk toward school, a big girl.

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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.

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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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