Sunday, April 15, 2018

It Only Hurts When I Don't Laugh

I've noticed that, among the people who read my musings, the most popular and the most reacted to are the ones where I am describing how terribly uncomfortable I am, or when I have been in significant pain. Apparently, I have the ability to see humor in places others don't and the more nervous and upset I am, the more I try to mask it with laughter. No, no, it's healthy...I think. Anyway, I usually try to write on troubling days to see if I can capture the hilarity. Be warned, today's should be a doozy!

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I should explain that I am now two days past the event that caused my discomfort so I know the outcome. I'll be talking as if my world may be ending in a swirl of disorientation and pain...but I actually turn out ok. I know, I know, I alluded to unpleasantness on a grand scale, the ruthless among you will just have to make do.

I think I'll start with a scene from a movie. (I do that...you'll get used to it) In the buddy cop movie Lethal Weapon 3 the cops, Riggs and Murtaugh, are picking up an informant, Leo, from the hospital. Leo is upset and complaining that they do all sorts of unnecessary things at the hospital just to make money.
Leo:  Where does it say that a gunshot wound requires a rectal exam, huh? Yeah, with a telescope big enough to see Venus! 
Riggs: I guess all he saw was Uranus, huh?
I remembered this scene because of its humor but more importantly because I needed to go to the hospital...and I hadn't been shot.

Yes, as half of the people reading this are clicking the little "X" up in the top right corner as fast as their little fingers can fly, I'll explain to the rest of you that I shall not be describing anything gross. Personally, I think it's important to get these things out there so others know that they are not alone. No, I did not feel all alone. I felt like I had joined a great big room full of people like me...old men. When I called to make the appointment I told the person who answered the phone that I needed to make an old man appointment. She laughed, but she made the correct appointment without any further explanation.

Ok, deep breath now, I'm just gonna say it...colonoscopy. Yes, you heard that right. Pretty sure the doc was a Star Trek fan because he seemed ready to "boldly go where no man has gone before." I want to make sure everyone knows that I am talking about a colon-oscopy and not a Colin-oscopy because frankly, I have no interest in what happened with the NFL this year.

The thing about this particular test is that there are steps leading up to it. EIGHT PAGES of steps to be exact! 2 sided! The first step takes place 7 days before the procedure. You read that correctly, 7 full days before the exam I needed to think about what I was supposed to eat, drink, what medicines to take and what to discontinue. The details get more and more restrictive as C-day (as opposed to D-day) gets closer. It started with cutting out foods that were high in fiber. This seemed counter-intuitive to me since years of television commercials extolled the virtue of fiber being the whisk broom of the digestive set. When I asked for clarification on what exactly that meant, I was told that I was to start eating white bread, white rice, no fruits or vegetables, you know "all the bad stuff." Little did she know that I had been getting ready for this test since I was 17! Actually, I'm kidding. I am a fruit-aholic and I haven't eaten a slice of white bread since my mom, decades ago, dropped a piece camping and the ants on the ground walked around it. Although, the thought of a Krispy-Kreme and pizza diet seemed like something I could get behind...you know, for science.

A couple days before the event I was required to start taking a bag full of digestive aids. I walked out of the CVS with three items that I have never purchased before...and a six-and-a-half-foot long receipt! When your wife is a big deal in the Essential Oil game, trips to the pharmacy are few and far between. You know you're in for it when the people telling you about their experiences with these powders, pills, and drinks start with phrases like, "It's not that bad." The problem was that I needed to do all of this while drinking an ocean of water! It states in the doctor's instructions that I am to drink 8 ounces of clear liquid every hour I am awake. Let me remind you...I am an elementary school teacher. I don't have the luxury of stepping out to visit the facilities whenever I need to, especially since a significant portion of my day is taken explaining that recess and lunch are the correct times to go to the bathroom. We don't want to miss class time! I made it without being called a hypocrite!

After work, the night before, things start to get interesting. "Interesting" is the polite word I use to describe what happens when you take more than two full weeks worth of laxatives in the span of about 12 hours. As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I'm gonna say about that." I will add, however, that I was motivated to live to the letter of the law written on these eight pages because of one sentence. Paraphrasing: 'Failure to adhere to these rules will result in a less than ideal view and you will need to start over." Uh, no thanks. No fiber, lots of water, drink all this...yes ma'am!

Then it's the morning of the exam. This is when the nervousness hits. I'm not a giant wimp. I can handle some discomfort. I once had a doctor ask me how I was able to still be walking around since I should have been in disabling pain. Meh, you gotta do what you gotta do. And then someone gets out a needle...and I am a whimpering little child calling out for his mommy. This procedure called for sedatives and those are administered via I.V. This was in the back of my mind ever since they told me I needed this test, but now Sylvia had dropped me off, I was wearing 60% of a gown, and the nurse was holding a stabbing device. Because of the vibe I give out I'm sure, I was given the nurse with a sense of humor. She started in saying things like, "I hate needles" and alluding to not having done this before...all while I was hyperventilating and explaining the virtues of an old rag and a bottle of ether. Poke. Done. It's never as bad as I expect it to be. But I did nearly die.

Anyway she rolled me into the room while I took a selfie that I can't show you since I didn't ask her permission to publish it. I met the doctor, a different nurse, another person who I forget what they were going to do (but I knew they weren't going to be giving me another shot so it didn't matter), and everyone kept saying my name and the reason I was there. There's a poster on the wall that had a list of all the things they were all supposed to say to make sure I was the right person in the right room for the right procedure. They all followed the rules. I suppose it's a good thing. I would have hated to get a hysterectomy! Then I met the person who told me she was going to be taking care of my sedation...and then they told me I was all done. I really liked that sedation person!

And just like My Big Fat Greek Wedding I now have to wait for the results from the bibopsy. Maybe they'll prescribe some Windex. With the Windex I would have been a shoe-in for the "Cleanest Colon of the Day" award.

Finally, looking ahead for some of my more sadistic readers who really get a kick out of reading about my pain and suffering and were disappointed that things went so smoothly. I'm going in for an MRI on my shoulder soon where some are telling me it might require surgery. Cross your fingers!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

My Princess Bride

Allow me to set the scene. It's spring break and Sylvia and I are watching something on the Hallmark channel (Ok, so I like the Hallmark channel...), everything has been building to this formal wedding, and the music begins to fade so they can start the ceremony. I'm sure it's exactly like the director wants it to be...

From out of nowhere Sylvia pipes up....(Hold on...I'll tell you in a bit)

Did you ever have one of those moments that perfectly intersects the incongruous and the expected? This was it for me. I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe! But I think I need to explain...

First, in case one of the 8 people who read my ramblings also happen to be one of the 4 people on the planet who have never seen this movie...in other words, my mom, (hi mom!) I am talking about The Princess Bride. It is often quoted in innumerable settings, the quotes are easily recognizable, and almost everyone who has seen the movie thinks it is just great! And why wouldn't they? The movie, in my humble opinion, is wonderful! As the Grandpa explains to his grandson while trying to talk him into listening to the story in the beginning of the movie, it's got "fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." What's not to love!?! Right?

Well, let me tell you, I can attest to the fact that this movie is not everyone's cup of tea. In fact, I have it on good authority that there are people who think, perish the thought, that this movie is, and I'm quoting, "stupid." {{shudder}} I live with one...and she let's me know her opinion whenever it happens to be on the TV. I can see her point. It's fantasy, it could never happen, some of the characters have really silly voices...(ok, I'm just kidding. I love it and can quote it over and over...try me!) but to each their own.  Honestly, when Jake is leaving the house and tells us goodbye (we have a very polite son) odds are about even that after I say "Bye" I will add, "Have fun storming the castle!" Sylvia just rolls her eyes. 

Yes, Sylvia and I are one example of when opposites attract. When we were doing our pre-marriage counseling appointments the subject of how we were going to raise the kids, loving Princess Bride or not, never came up. Was it a risk? Sure.  We decided to let the kids decide when they were old enough. We are making it work.

So the other night when the marriage scene was playing out on the Hallmark channel (where everything is down to earth and events happen just like in real life) you could have knocked me over with a feather or the tail of an R.O.U.S. (Rodent Of Unusual Size) when she belted out, in perfect cadence and tone:

"MAWAGE...."

I just about fell off the couch! I burst out laughing and couldn't stop! Poor Sylvia, who was laughing at how hard I was laughing, looked at me as if to ask, "Isn't that right!?" 

"Yes, Yes....that is right! In fact it is perfect! Wow! I can't breathe! My sides hurt!"


It's things like this that remind me I made the right choice when I proposed to her...with a ring from a Cracker Jacks box. (true story)

I am one step closer to hearing this when we renew our vows in the future, "Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam..."

Don't look at me like that...It could happen!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pop in the Sack?

We've all seen it in movies. The lights are low, soft music playing, things are moving just a little slower than usual....maybe there's a candle lit.

That's not what I am talking about.

No, I am talking about middle of the day, unnaturally bright, unseasonably hot, a sheen of sweat on bodies because of the humidity, middle of a camping store, buying a Dr Pepper...in Tennessee.

I'll back up. Sylvia and I had some friends over about a week ago. We started talking about how words were different in different languages. We talked about how German was wildly different than other languages and we all roared with laughter at the stark contrast between lyrical Spanish's butterfly (mariposa) and German's hard edged and highly exaggerated, by me, (SCHMETTERLING!). We started talking about different dialects within different regions of the country and different ways of talking. The whole exchange got me to thinking about that time, in Tennessee, when I bought a Dr Pepper...really.

It was 1982, I was 16, and the family was camping across the country so we could go to the World's Fair in Knoxville. We had already had "The night of a million mosquitoes" and I had already saved a drowning boy. I was a world traveler in my eyes. I was not, however, ready for what happened next.

I went into the campground store and grabbed a couple snacks, looked at the comic books to see if I needed any, and grabbed a Dr Pepper from the refrigerator. I brought the whole collection up to the cashier who was about the same age as me. She rang up my snacks, told me it was $1.61 (I don't really remember how much it was...I'm just trying to use details so you think I have an amazing memory), and then she asked me a question in that quick southern twang that I remember to this day. "Youwanpopinthesack?"

Let me remind you that I am, at this point, 16. I have to admit that while my upbringing had me immediately rejecting the notion that I had actually heard what I thought I heard, it took me back. My hormone addled brain, for a split second, translated her question into, "You wanna pop in the sack?"

Did I really say that I was a world traveler? Ha! I was as naive as the day is long. I was afraid of my own shadow. Shy didn't even begin to describe me. Late bloomer is how I describe myself now but let's face it....I was a doofus. I had seen enough coming-of-age movies to imagine, even for an instant, that this was the start of something. In fact, did she just take off her glasses? Did she undo her ponytail and start shaking her hair from side to side? Did she turn her head to the side and grin as she looked at me with one eye? It's weird how so many thoughts can cross your hyperactive immature brain in the span of about a two seconds. As if my entire future depended on it, I decided to act! As smoothly as I could, with a bright red face, I managed to squeak out, "Wha...?"

Back to reality in a flash while I see that she never moved, hair and glasses still in place, and her "grin" was more like an annoyed exasperation as she held up the glass bottle of Dr Pepper she said slowly, "Do you want the POP" slight shake for emphasis, "...in the SACK" now she shook the paper bag that now held my snacks. Ohhhhhhh, my brain processed, she thinks I'm a moron. That makes so much more sense than what I was thinking. From somewhere deep inside I was able to belt out proudly, "No thank you." and I was on my way.

Aren't dialects fun!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Motivated!

For the regular readers of my blog, I apologize for abandoning it for so long. For the irregular readers of my blog, might I suggest getting more fiber in your diet. But I digress...let me just jump right in lest I lose my motivation to write again.

Sylvia got back from Vegas yesterday morning. She was there because Eric Worre (known around here as "The GoPro guy") was hosting a seminar for entrepreneurs that was stuffed full of motivational speakers. If I truly did live in a Sitcom, her character would have gone to Vegas because her best friend heard of a way to sneak away from the families and pretend to go to a seminar. There would be a scheme where when you checked into the hotel they would give you a binder full of notes that made it look like you sat through a bunch of lectures as proof to show the unsuspecting husband. The plan would fall apart when the money for the new dishwasher would be missing from the bank account and when he checked it out at the bank the teller would have wondered aloud why wife would have withdrawn the dishwasher money in singles. It would have worked out because, well....sitcom, and then the credits would roll. But now I really digress....

I can assure you that Sylvia actually went to the conference and, true to their purpose, she came back motivated! (...but it did sound like they were playing the soundtrack to Magic Mike every time she called me to check in. Kidding!)

The first indication that she was part of something different than other seminars she's gone to was when she sent me a picture of Rob Dyrdek. For the many people in my circle who might not have heard of him, he is the host/creator of a show called "Ridiculousness" and it is not Sylvia's favorite show. It's sort of like America's Funniest Videos with extra pain. When Jake watches the show, laughing endlessly, Sylvia will walk by and comment on how stupid it is. She sees no redeeming value in the show, cannot believe people would tape themselves being so, well, ridiculous, and always manages to find something else to do when it is on. When she sent me his picture, our text exchange went something like this:

Sylvia: It's Rob Dyrdek.
Me:      He does that show Ridiculousness.
S:         Yes. That's him.
M:        You kinda hate him. LOL
S:         I know. He is not like he is on that show at all. He's actually very smart!
M:        Cool! Are they playing the soundtrack to Magic Mike? I can hear it through your text!

OK, so the last line didn't happen, but the others did! To have that guy be able to sway Sylvia away from her opinion that he was a moron who enjoyed it when people hurt themselves, he must be more than very smart, he's gotta be a bona fide genius! (My computer seems to not be a genius since it is trying to tell me that "bona fide" is not a real phrase and it wants me to change it to "boa fife" or I have to live with the little autocorrect squiggles under those words. Sigh...)

Back to Magic Mike....I mean the seminar....

Sylvia came home and immediately during the ride from the airport she was telling me about all the jewels of wisdom that the speakers shared. She was impressed with the lot of them and she was sorry I wasn't able to attend. That's the life of a teacher during conference week. Getting away 3 out of the 5 days scheduled isn't easy.

I am not going to share all the things she learned because I don't want to infringe on the copyright that these speakers have on their content. One of the speakers was Tony Robbins and I'm worried that he would hypnotize me in an elevator as revenge for giving away his secrets. (Shallow Hal is a universal reference right?) I also don't want to give away all the secrets that Sylvia will share when she is on the stage being motivational to thousands of others! If you think I am kidding then you don't know Sylvia very well. I'd say check back in three years. I will be going to that one. After all, I will be retired from teaching and traveling the world with her by then.

When we got home from the airport she talked about some habits that people have to move them forward, as well as habits that hold them back. I particularly liked the one about not mowing your lawn yourself since your time is too valuable to be wasted on trivial things like that. Pardon me while I visualize never having to garden again...ahhhhhhh. Let's just say that gardening not really my cup of tea. Although tea is not really my cup of tea either. Maybe I should say that it's not really my cup of Dr Pepper. There I go digressing again...

Can you imagine! When I retire I will have so much more time to write! Just think how many rambling random posts I could write! It boggles the mind! (Technically, it would BLOGgle the mind...but let's not quibble over made up words.)

At the house while Sylvia was following me around unpacking and giving a recap of the most important points from some of the more inspirational speakers I washed the dishes, made the bed, went to the ever-growing pile of junk mail, and never turned on the TV once. (That was one of the suggestions. I'll give you that one for free.) Talk about motivated! Actually the overarching theme was to prioritize what was valuable to you and don't let distractions get in the way of the most important things in your life. I took stock of things and decided that writing was something that was important to me, I enjoy doing it, and I hadn't put it anywhere near the top of my priority list in recent times. I decided to change that today.

I will make a "boa fife" effort to write more often starting now.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 24, 2017

I Nearly Died! (well maybe not)

A while back I went in for a "procedure" at my doctor's office. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth...but enough about my trying to find a parking spot. Let's go back to the beginning....

I have had, for years now, a dark spot on my temple. I'm guessing people didn't notice it for two reasons. 1) It's small. It's about the size of the mark a pencil eraser would leave if you used it like a rubber stamp with brown paint. 2) It's hidden. It was fairly well concealed just under the hairline of my right temple. I'm lucky enough to still have a hairline there but as it gets increasingly whiter, the brown eraser dot showed through a little more. It was enough for Sylvia to notice.  Since she noticed, and she wants to keep me around for a while longer, she thought I should get it checked out. That was about 5 years ago. It was nothing. The doc essentially said, "if it changes, let me know."

Fast forward to just a few months ago, just before I went to Mexico. Sylvia again said, "It looks different. I think you should get that thing checked out." We looked on WebMD. It's bad...It's either heart disease or I've been exposed to radiation. In the interest of marital harmony, I will say that she also mentioned that I should put frankincense on it a couple times a day to keep it in check. Had I done that I'm sure my story would've ended here. You'll know that I followed her advice if this is the last paragraph.

Anyway...I'm in Mexico, not putting frankincense on this thing, and I got a little more sun than I'm used to. I don't know if the sun is what did it, if I was bitten by a Mexican Mole Spider, or if my warranty was nearing its end, but my little melanin based hitchhiker started to become bothersome. It started to itch. It started to have an occasional sharp pain. And worst of all, it absolutely refused to silence its cell phone so it would not bother other moviegoers. When I came back to the United States it had become more than a smudge...it was now a full-fledged bump. Did you hear me?! A Bump! To make matters worse, while I was running my fingers through my hair practicing for when Fabio calls in sick and they need a hair double, I happened to catch the edge of Moley McWarterson with my fingernail. That's when I knew it was different than before...it bled. Not a lot, but it took upwards of 45 seconds before I could control the bleeding. (No paramedics were called)

In to the doctor I went. As it turns out I was really sick on a Monday and, always one to get a bargain, I figured if I went in for my cough AND had them take a look at my temple I could save a trip and a co-pay. Bonus! My sickness was just a virus so I should rest and drink lots of water. Never mind that all I had been doing was do my impression of a sack of potatoes while drinking enough water to develop an aquarium behind my sternum. Didn't help. I'll press on. When I mentioned "the spot" the doc got on the phone to see if there was a dermatologist on hand. There was. He was on his way.

He came in, looked at it, checked out my entire scalp (to find out if this was just the scouting party for a full blown cystic assault) and then he said the word that rings in my brain to this day. Biopsy. Not "Bibopsy" as in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Not "a procedure" as described in City Slickers. An honest to goodness biopsy. Thing is, he said it like Ham in Sandlot said "Forrrr Evvv Errrr". I know what a biopsy is...he's gonna cut my head! And then the room started swimming like I was Mel Brooks in High Anxiety. I suppose I'll have to write one day about my movie analogy addiction. But it is not this day, as they say Lord of the Rings.

Where was I? Oh yeah, they're gonna cut me. Cutting something off of my head is bad enough, but they will have to numb it first and that means shots! Getting shot in the head is not something I enjoy and I try to avoid it as often as I can. Not a big fan of needles. In the week or so that passed from the initial appointment to when I went in I mentally prepared myself and I, of course, updated my will. The day came, I dragged Sylvia in to the doctor with me.

This thing that the doc said he'd done thousands of times before and would only take a minute was an ordeal. Apparently I am a "fast metabolizer" of anesthetics. This means that it takes more than the usual patient to where I can't feel anything. Of course this also means more shots! What's the way to determine that one is a fast metabolizer? Have someone start cutting something off your head so that you can say, "OW!!" I am not exaggerating...FOUR shots later, I finally don't feel anything and he was able to run me over the deli slicer. Ok, so he didn't do that, but it was pretty bad! When I was able to sit up, I turned a little pale and they wouldn't let me up right away, Sylvia looked at the spot on my head and grimaced. She tried to hide it but I could tell. She was a little horrified. I finally got out of her that there was a good sized lump on my head where he took it off. I said, "Of course there's a lump! That's what happens when you pump a quart and a half of Novocaine into someone's head!"

The excess pain meds absorbed pretty quickly and I didn't notice any adverse effects. Sylvia says I repeat myself more lately but I think that isn't true. Sylvia says I repeat myself more lately but I think that isn't true.

So there you have it. I survived a trip to the doctor. After the two weeks of hiding in the basement of the opera house and finally throwing away the mask that covered half my face, I was able to rejoin society. (But I do miss the serenading) My hairline has recovered and I rarely think about this incident anymore.

And yet, Sylvia was just running her hand through my hair and she noticed something on the other side of my head just at the temple. We looked it up on WebMD and I only have fifteen minutes to live...I'd better type fast.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Peek Inside

As I sit here this morning getting ready to write I have several very important things swirling around in my increasingly jumbled brain. First and foremost, my daughter just left to go live on another continent for a year. Second, We are about 7 days behind on beginning my summer vacation house de-clutter titled "Operation Deep Clean". (Never mind that I've only been obligation free for about 7 days) We adopted an energetic three-legged Pit Bull/Great Dane puppy who thinks the world is his chew toy! Next, I am at the tail end of a 16 week weight loss program. Additionally it is the day before our country's Independence Day and I am a huge fan of all things related to patriotism. Also, we have a 2000 piece puzzle that has been hibernating in a secured location for a year. Only recently we have uncovered it in its 85% completed condition and, through hard work and dedication have moved on to being 90% complete!

With all these pressing concerns I think it's become extremely obvious to anyone who knows me what the first topic of the summer must be. Let's say it together....Hat Face. What? That's not what you were thinking? Allow me to explain.

I come from a group of people, now confirmed through Ancestry DNA, whose skin turns that painful shade of red from the least exposure to the sun. I haven't confirmed it scientifically yet, but I think I could get a second degree burn from standing in front of a painting of the sun. Without extreme measures my skin would go from pale, to red, to peel, to pale. It's not that bad really...and I may be exaggerating a tiny bit...but I cannot even begin to count how many burns I have had in my lifetime. Because of that I avoid the sun like a vampire, I choose to sit in the shade, I prefer the woods to the beach,  and I try to wear a wide brimmed hat to protect my head. This is where the trouble starts.

I, like all red-blooded American males, have a special set of eyes that distort images bouncing back from mirrors. When I look in the mirror I am pretty pleased with what I see. My distortion doesn't show me six-pack abs and hair that is "on fleek." (apparently millenials say that is a good thing even though it sounds to me like what you'd call that stream of spit that shoots out of your mouth when you laugh) No, my mirror distortion involves hats. Whenever I try on a wide brimmed masterpiece I think I got it going on! My criteria is simple: Does it fit? and Does it cover my solar sensitive ears? If the answer to both of those is yes, I have a winner! When I go over to the little mirror my suspicions are always confirmed! It's astonishing really. I look and I see Indiana Jones fleeing from danger! I see Frank Sinatra looking defiant as he looks back over his shoulder under the slightly askew brim of his chapeau. I see Sam Elliot smirking in a western just before he saves the town. (As an aside...I also hear Sam Elliot talk when I hear my voice back on a recording) Nearly every hat I try on is "the one!" In my excitement I show my treasures to Sylvia and that's when I see it. Hat face.

Hat face is the unvarnished truth. Hat face is my touchstone to reality. Hat face is what keeps me from being the American hat equivalent of Imelda Marcos and her collection of thousands of shoes. It's hard to describe hat face but I'll give it a shot. It's really a mix of amusement, disappointment, and pity. You might see something similar as a mom looks at the kitchen mess after the kids have surprised her with breakfast but substituted orange juice for milk in the cereal and baking soda for sugar in the coffee. In an instant I can see that I have not only chosen poorly, but I have brought shame upon the household. I see Clint Eastwood, Sylvia sees Pee Wee Herman. I'm not complaining. I'm really not. I'd rather know when something doesn't look good than not. I'm obviously not to be trusted when making decisions about hats. Occasionally I will test Sylvia's limits. I think my favorite is when I put on the beanie with the propeller. With that one I got hat face with the added bonus of an eye roll.

I have, on occasion, come across a real hat which Sylvia thinks actually looks good on me. In Kansas I found a cowboy hat that everyone in the store agreed was just right for me. It fits, it looks good, it keeps the sun off my head, it's perfect! One problem though is that whenever I wear it, since I am a teacher, my students ask if today is "cowboy day" and then they are sad that I didn't tell them they could wear their cowboy stuff. One summer, when we were camping 12 feet from the sun, I found a camping hat that was ugly but it fit all the other criteria. This was even better than most since it had the added fun involved with being able to scrunch up and stuff into my pocket and it was completely ok in the water. It was great...until I left it on the dashboard one day and it shrank and faded beyond all recognition. I buried it next to my broken leg lamp in the back yard in a private ceremony.

So here I sit at the precipice of summer, hatless, ready to venture outside. I hope to find a suitable hat before I go back to school. Wish me luck.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Et Tu Pancakes?

I work with the awesome youth at my church. Saying that is nearly synonymous with saying, "I have worked at a pancake breakfast!" Church youth groups and pancake breakfasts go together like youth pastors and facial hair. (Trust me...it's a thing.) Anyway, I can't even begin to recall all the breakfasts that I have helped put on. But I can remember, in great detail, the two I was part of where I wasn't allowed to eat anything myself. The first was a number of years ago and it was for a good cause. The second was about 2 weeks ago, and I did it to myself.

Like I said, the first was for a really good cause. Our youth group raises money by doing "The 30 Hour Famine" just about every year. It is a very good program where everyone involved gives up food for 30 hours to help you reflect on those who don't have enough to eat. It raises awareness among the kids about the affluence that we are accustomed to and we get donations to help programs all over the world feed the hungry. The famine is developed by World Vision. It is a great organization and they help with suggestions for what to do to keep the kids, who are essentially locked into the church's gymnasium for a day and a half, busy and their minds off of food. It could be work projects or raising awareness games and activities or you could just sit around and listen to everyone grumble about how hungry they are. Well our old youth pastor Matt, who does have facial hair, had a bit of a mean streak. He decided that it would be a great idea (ha ha) to hold a pancake breakfast as one of our community service projects to raise money for the organization. It was tough. We survived. We were all in it together. All you had to do was look to your left or right and you could see anguished hunger on the face of the person working next to you. It was manageable.

This year I did not have similar support. Since I agreed to join this weight loss program, I was going to give it my all and get back to a body that could fit into places like airplane seats, movie theater seats, and occasional outdoor arena (not the seats...the whole arena). I was not going to sabotage myself this early in the process and undo the small but emotionally satisfying progress I had made. I showed up wearing my bravest face.

There was a hum of activity and it already smelled delicious (darn it) so I jumped right in. I was hoping to get assigned a job that wouldn't tempt me. Cutting cantaloupe? No temptation there. Pretty sure if I were stranded somewhere, desperate for food, I would crawl past a field of cantaloupe to see if there was anything left on the questionable zebra carcass that the lions were finished with. Nope, somebody already there. (good thing...the smell...yuck) My son was on scrambled egg duty and doing a fine job of it. Tables were being set. Pancake Bob was in his element. Not too much to do. "Here Jeff...you can take care of the sausages." (insert sound effect of cartoon cars crashing)

Sausage are a weakness of mine. Next to bacon cooking, the smell of sausage cooking is maybe number three. Anything cooking with garlic is number one...I am Italian after all. So here I am hungry, having eaten a healthy smoothie for breakfast, and I have to cook a favorite that I will not be allowed to eat. Press on! It's for a good cause!

As pancake breakfasts at churches go it was pretty standard. Lull, lull, lull, lull, UNBELIEVEABLE CROWDS, slowdown, lull, lull... In all that time, while having multiple opportunities to "sample" the sausages I was making, I never tried one. It was ridiculously difficult at times. The main problem is that they are so easily grabbed and treated as finger food. We had enough to feed our church as well as the next three closest churches. Nobody would miss it. Nope. I didn't want to write it in my food log.

Then came the clean up. There was another group using our dining room about a half hour after we were done so time was of the essence. I ran in and grabbed the first thing that I thought would make a significant cleaning impact. I grabbed all the syrup containers from the tables. You know the type. Glass jars with a silver handle and a thumb button that allows the sugary liquid heaven to pour seductively all over the pancakes. (OK, so I've got a thing for syrup too...sue me) Anyway, I grabbed about six in each hand trying to get as many handles in my grips as possible. I looked like a waiter at Octoberfest...if it was being held in Canada. The syrup had to be emptied from the containers back into the bottles and I took on that job. There's something satisfying about watching that rich, thick, artificially flavored and colored treasury of high-fructose corn syrup ooze from one container to another. True confession time: If I were stranded on an island surrounded by a maple syrup sea, not that stuff from trees...the good fake stuff. Then imagine that the trees were made of sausages. I would fashion a raft out of the "logs" to escape...and then promptly drown before getting out of the lagoon. But I would go under with a full belly and a smile on my face.

The breakfast was a success! We did make a significant amount of money. We did, we did, we did. But I didn't. I didn't eat any sausage. I didn't eat any pancakes. I didn't pour myself a cup of syrup. I didn't eat any eggs, toast, or butter. And I especially didn't eat any cantaloupe. I was good. I continue to be good. And I am happy to say that I am currently down a little over 16 pounds from my starting point. I'll just keep plugging away.
Far far away....from IHOP.