Look Ma, no can see my feet!

spanking 1I just weighed myself on my wife’s new handy-dandy Weight Watchers LED-lit digital bathroom scale. Damn – not only does the thing work well, it might work too well. I stood on it and watched my weight go up, and up, and up and then I stepped off. I’d seen enough.

I got the phone and called my mother.

“Hello, dear.”

“Hi Ma, I’ll only keep you a minute. I just want to say I’m teetering on the cusp of obesity and it’s your fault. I hope you’re happy now.”

There was a sigh on the other end of the line.

“As usual, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Which means, as usual, I have to ask you what you’re talking about.”

“I’m fat and just the other day I read about a study that reveals why I’m fat.”

“You’re eating too much?”

“Ha – nice try, but that old line’s not going to work anymore. I know better now. Researchers at Canada’s University of Manitoba did a study of more than 34,000 adults and the findings suggest that the harsh physical punishment they suffered as children has put them now at a higher risk of heart disease, arthritis and … obesity. Ergo, I’m fat because you spanked me.”

“What? I never spanked you.”

spanking cartoon“You must have spanked me. Why else would I be fat?”

“Allow me to repeat myself. You’re eating too much?”

“Ma, 34,000 Manitobians can’t be wrong.”

“Manitobians? What’s a Manitobian? And anyway, if I did spank you, why is it that you don’t remember it?”

hypnosis“Well, I could have suppressed it. Forced it deep, deep down into my dark subconscious, where only little albino shrimps with no eyes and all of my darkest memories can live. Yeah, that’s it. I’ll bet if I went to one of those hypnosis therapists they could put me in a trance and I’d recall all of the horrid details, as well as find out I was the King of Siam in a previous life.”

“More than likely, you’d cluck like a chicken. I never had to spank you, back then. As for the present moment, I plead the Fifth. Now, talk to your father. Dear, pick up the extension in there. Your son’s on the phone … says he’s gaining weight now because we spanked him way back when he was a child.”

“Spanked him? Not a chance – you wouldn’t let me. Tell him it’s probably because he’s eating too much.”
dadnospank

Go potty, or get off the pot

potty seat sleepFirst, I want to say I had no problems being potty-trained as a kid. My mom just opened the door, let me and our St. Bernard out into the backyard and said, “Go potty.” When we were done, we came back to the door and she let us in. No problem.

Did have an issue wearing clothes to go to kindergarten, though. And caused a few incidents during recess, I’m afraid. But, as they say, one must live and learn. I lived, everyone else had to learn.

All this came to mind while I was reading an article today by Associated Press writer Leanne Italie on the coming of summer. Thanks to her story I’ve learned this season also is known as “tinkle time” for many parents of toddlers who have yet to shed their diapers and be formally introduced to the mysterious art of potty training.

“Toddler, meet toilet. Toilet, this is toddler. Please bond. Many thanks. Oh, and remember to leave the seat down. Otherwise Mama will kill you.”

Seems pretty straight-forward. But this is 2013, a.k.a. the modern age. Which means potty training is now … involved. No, not evolved. Involved. As Italie writes, “… like so many aspects of life with kids, potty training means gear, lots of gear.”

No, not lots of rears. Lot of gear … a.k.a. potty seats. As Italie also states, “something happened on the road to bathroom independence. The choices in potty seats and chairs proliferated and sprouted all manner of bells and whistles.”

Maybe it's just me, but I think this would be much more effective with Cookie Monster, not Elmo. "Coookies! Me want cooookies!" Seems a better fit to me.

Maybe it’s just me, but in my mind I gotta believe that this one would be much more effective with Cookie Monster, not Elmo. “Coookies! Me want cooookies!” Seems a better fit to me.

Potty seats. Bells and whistles. Sheesh. We’re talking about crap here. We’re talking about pee. We’re talking about neither being in your pants, neither being on the floor, neither being in the car seat or the restaurant booth. People, we’re talking evacuating here, not nuclear waste management.

But no, parenting in the modern age can’t be easy, can’t be straight-forward. It evidently has to be … ingenious.

Cute kid. Cute idea. Seems to be working too. Sure hope the child doesn't equate toilet with ladybugs and do this for life.

Cute kid. Cute idea. Seems to be working too. Sure hope the child doesn’t equate the toilet with ladybugs …

... or a duck ... if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then when nature calls ...

… or a duck … if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then when nature calls, squat on a duck …

... or a green bunny, frog, bunny-frog with handlebars, something. Kid only goes on this and he's got problems answering call of nature ... out in nature.

… or a green bunny … or frog … or bunny-frog with handlebars … something. Your toddler only goes on this and he’s got problems – YOU got problems if he hears the call of nature … out in nature.

People … just open the door, shoo them out, say “go potty,” and poop! – you’re done. Worked for me. Worked for my kid. It can work for you.

Oh. My. Freaking. Head. This isn't even funny.

Oh. My. Freaking. Head. This isn’t even funny.

Say it ain’t so, Joe

a bazooka joe opening picWell, not exactly Joe.

You see, it seems “from now on” is such a relative term. And for you, “from now on” means until the end of the year.

After that – I hate to be the one to burst your bubble – you’ll be gone. Not completely, according to your maker, Bazooka Candy Brands, a division of the Topps Company. But that’s when you’ll be retired. Oh, you and some of your gang will show up now and then. Not in the Bazooka Comics insert that’s been the inner wrapper of the pink chewing chunk since 1953, but on new inserts in the “re-imagined” Bazooka Bubble Gum packages. Call them cameo appearances.

A moment of silence, please, for Bazooka Joe, et. al. Gum-popping encouraged, of course.

A moment of silence please for Bazooka Joe, et. al. Gum-popping encouraged, of course.

The brand’s getting an overhaul – out with the old logo, packaging – and you.

And the comics? They go with you. They’re being replaced, according to the company, with “brainteasers.” Like “List 10 comic book heroes named after animals.” Wow. And activities, like instructions on how to fold the wrapper into an airplane. Shazam. And there will be codes, when entered at the website, BazookaJoe.com, which will unlock things like videos and video games.

Sure does blow to be a fading bubble gum star, Joe.

But I remember when. The good old days. You remember? Sure you do. Back when I was just a kid playing Little League Baseball and you were only a penny. Back when my mom would drop me off at the field for a game. She’d hand me a dime. Just one thin dime.

But it was all I needed.

I’d hold that dime in one hand, my folded glove in the other, and go straight to the concession stand behind the home plate backstop fence. Best seat in the house, for the moms running the stand, I’ll bet. And besides third base, best place at the field for me. That’s because lined up side-by-side, from one end of the big front window to the other, were giant, clear jars chocked-full of candy. All for just a penny apiece.

Now do you remember? I knew it’d come back to you. I’d buy three of you, two root beer barrels and five two-foot-long strands of red shoestring licorice. Not the black ones – stained your teeth. Turned off the chicks in the stands. I’d load up my uniform pockets, adjust my cap, tap-clean the cleats on the backstop fence, slip on the glove. Done. Complete. I was locked-and-loaded for whatever came my way for the rest of the day and the game. Whether it came on the ground, through the air … at my head.

Come to think of it, I ask you – where can you buy a meal like that for a kid these days for 10 cents? Damn straight – nowhere.

And I’m not talking just about nutrition for the young, immature body. There was more. Packed inside and wrapped around every piece of Bazooka bubble gum was the real prize – Bazooka Joe, his gang and his comic. Printed on that little piece of slippery paper in full, rich color. Every one was food for the young, immature mind.

Dig through your kid’s next bowl of organic, free-range granola and see if you find something like this:

a bazooka joe declarationGo ahead. I dare you.

Or examine the box of your kid’s sugar-free, gluten-free, chocolate-free, lint-free, taste-free something-chip cookies, inside and out, and tell me you’ve found something even remotely resembling this:

a bazooka joe old cartoonI can’t hear you …

And when you held a Bazooka Joe comic in your hands, you were not just getting some of the finest examples of the corniest pre-adolescent humor known to childhood, but words of wisdom too. Bazooka fortunes, such as: “Unless you are cautious you could be heading for an accident.”

Soon, these Bazooka Joe words to the unwise will be gone. But they’ll eerily come back to you someday – as you watch your care-free-and-unworldly child walk straight into a wall. And never know what hit him.

You think of Bazooka Joe then and say to yourself:  If only … he could have known better.

Notice too that each comic also came with special offers, unavailable anywhere else. You see a lot of 22-carat – not 14-, not 24- – gold rings with your initial on them offered for just 125 Bazooka comics and NO MONEY (Not valid where contrary to state laws. Offer expires June 30, 1955)???

Didn’t think so. Type that item into the search on ebay or Amazon – see what you get. I’ll bet you a big, fat “Huh?”

After December 31, you’ll never find anything like it, anywhere. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No-sucha-lucka. And what’s that mean for all of the “healthy”, all-natural, no-preservatives-added children in the world?

They’re going to suffer because of it.

Allowances?! There are no allowances in childhood!

Today I stumbled upon a small news item that hit me in the head like Moe. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Institute of CPAs, the average allowance for the average American kid is $15 a week.

They score for chores? Taking out the trash, walking the dog, mowing the lawn … $15 a week. Sheesh. I was an average American kid. I had chores. I never got an allowance.

What’s worse, according to the survey, only 1 percent of the parents said their children save any of that parental payout. According to the rest, their kids immediately blow their weekly wad on toys and entertainment.

That seals it. Today’s tadpoles are … soft. And a quick flip through my stash of childhood photos proves it. When I was a kid, when you needed something, you worked for it.

Let’s say you needed a new t-shirt. Ask your parents to take you to the mall and give you the money to buy it? Yeah, right. Not quite.

First, we had to plant the cotton.

That’s me on the right. Oh, and that plow? I had to whittle that out of a tree trunk. With a butter knife.

Then, we had to pick it.

You may notice that we have no shoes on here. We ate them for lunch.

Oh, but we weren’t done yet. You can’t wear a bunch of cotton balls. We had to turn that cottton into thread. And then into cloth.

Yup, that’s me. I think I was making new underwear here.

OK,  so you’ve made your cloth, now what?

The adults on the left used sewing machines to make their clothes. And as for me there? I had to sharpen my fingernail to use it as a needle.

I even had to clean up the place at the end of the day.

That guy behind me is there to make sure I don’t run off with the broom and pawn it.

See what I mean? Kids today … soft, soft, soft.

And another thing. I noticed a school bus drive by the house today and realized that the new school year’s about to start.

School buses. To take the kids to school every day. And bring them home again.

Hell, when I was a kid and had to go to school …

Rise of the Planet of the Cows?

Cows and me … we go way back.

When I was a kid, some of my best friends were cows. I’m sure at some points in my young life, the only friends I had were cows.

For nearly all of my formative years, I lived around them. My family’s home was next door to my grandfather’s house and he had a diary farm which, coincidentally, came outfitted with a bunch of cows as standard equipment. My father grew up with them too, since he, coincidentally, happened to live in the same house with my grandfather.

Funny how life works out sometimes, isn’t it.

Evidently what wasn’t funny back then was the first time they brought me into my grandfather’s big, ol’ dairy barn. I was petrified.

It might have had something to do with the decor. A long straight corridor. A narrow raised concrete path running down the middle of it. And framing both sides, lines of cow butt after cow butt after cow butt, some equipped with swinging tails. Which now and then, would rise up to warn you that about 17 pounds of steaming cow flop would be dropping any second now.

Cow House Beautiful, it wasn’t. But it soon would turn out to be for me, I’m told. For at that moment, my father and grandfather left. It was just me … and the cows.

I can only imagine how things went in there, since I don’t remember it. They say I was pretty upset at first, but then things got real quiet.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!”

“Hey kid, what the hell are you screaming for, you’re loud enough to curdle milk.”

“Because all of you are going to whip me with your tails, stomp on me with your hooves and then eat me … and bury what’s left under a pile of steaming cow crap!”

“Bessie, can you believe this kid? Listen, and listen good – we may chew our cuds, but we don’t chew kids, kid.”

“You mean, you aren’t going to eat me?”

“You go to that silo over there and if you find it stuffed full of kids, then me and the rest of the girls here will squirt sarsaparilla soda at milking time. Now, go grab a hunk of that hay, and bring me a snack.”

And that was possibly how it went, how my life-long kinship with cows began. Oh, it might seem like a rather odd parenting method. But it worked. I’ve never been afraid of cows, or almost any animal. But of all of them, I think cows are the coolest.

Of course, had this happened today, my father and grandfather would be doing time and I’d be appearing on the “Today Show,” promoting my new book, “Holstein Horror: How I Faced down the Backside of a Cow and Survived” … soon to be a full-length feature film, starring George Clooney.

But while I’ve never met a cow I didn’t like, I’ve noticed a couple small news items lately that have me a tad worried, to be honest. I know cows to be quiet, gentle creatures, or at least they used to be.

In Boxford, Mass., six bovines came out of the darkness and crashed a backyard party. They didn’t bring potato salad, but they did arrive thirsty. According to the police report, the pack proceeded to push aside party-goers in their way and went “right for the beer.” They even knocked over glasses to spill themselves some more. “They enjoyed it, no doubt about it,” said one police official.

Bessie? Slurping the suds? These aren’t the friendly, cuddling cows that I know and love! But wait, there’s more.

Also in Massachusetts, outside the small Berkshire County town of Richmond, emergency personnel received a call to come to the aid of a man who had been knocked out by a cow along on a rural road. Medical staff arrived at Swamp Road to find the unidentified man unconscious, but breathing. The cow had fled the scene.

What’s happening? Cows make milk, not war!

I’m afraid this could be just the beginning. They could be taking over. If they do, listen carefully to me – I know cows. Don’t scream. Speak quietly. If they ask for it, bring them some hay.

But if their tails suddenly go up, as if reaching up to heaven itself … run.

Give me a beer … now … or I’ll punch your lights out.