Back in the saddle again….no BULLS*IT…who the hell is OX-fer?

It’s been two and a half years since my last post…simply put, that is BULLSHIT…all of you know all the excuses (life, no time, the baby, softball, work, etc, etc)…yep, more BULLSHIT…so, just like I tell the kids I coach, when you get hit with a pitch, what do you do?  You get your ass back in the batter’s box and get another at bat…give me a bat, coach, I am going to get my AB…

The bottom line is this…so much has happened in the past two plus years, and I have too many stories to tell…and if I am going to actually BE A WRITER, I have to write…so, we are going to give this BULLSHITTERZ blog another chance…

Going forward, I am going to write about everyday BULLSHIT through stories and experiences that happen to me…some will be funny, some will be just venting, and some will be like my own personal therapy session…hopefully, you will find it entertaining and will share it with your circles…we all have daily BULLSHIT in our lives, and sometimes sharing it through stories helps all of us…I know it helps me.

My parameters are simple…get on here and post something twice a week…personal stories about work, customers, people, softball, sports, wagering, or the ocean of estrogen…whatever the topic, I will write, edit and post twice a week…all I ask from you is please pass it on to your social media and share it…oh yeah, and PLEASE comment, email or text me any feedback you want…suggest topics or tell me stories of your own, nothing is out of bounds…thank you in advance for following along.

Before I jump back in completely, I want to catch you up on the ocean of estrogen…for those of you that don’t remember, that is what I call my house…I have a wife and three daughters…currently, they are 13, 12 and 3…you dads with daughters know what that means…I am swimming in this ocean of estrogen, and often times, I am looking for a life vest cause these waters be choppy!!  You never know when a tidal wave will just roll up, and the stories are worth sharing.

If I didn’t have enough estrogen at home, I am also a coach of a 14u travel softball team, complete with thirteen other females between the ages of 12 and 14.  The sheer joy of being on the field makes all the estrogen overload well worth it.  Some stories will come from here too.

Work wise, I am still working in a sports book, but now I am on the Las Vegas strip.  Cue up the circus music daily.  From the BULLSHIT commute, the customers I meet and banter back and forth with between parlays and exactas, and my co workers, there will be some stories from here too.  Plus, I am going to pass on some plays that I think will make you some money…take them for what they are worth for now…

That being said, here is an all timer that I have to share from March Madness:

It’s Sunday morning in the book, 6:15am…we have just worked the first three days of the tournament, 14 hours Thursday, 14 hours Friday, and 12 hours Saturday…non stop, three days in a row, lines of people 100 deep, ticket after ticket, and just enough time to go home and take a nap in between…in all my years in the business, I have never seen it as busy as it was these three days…

So, back at it on Sunday morning, hoping to just get through this day and not snap…I referred to my state of mind as a “delirious state of zombie like zen.”  I don’t even know what that means, but it works.  The second customer of the day comes up to me and asks “Do you have odd to win it all?” because of course, he can’t find a sheet…to help you visualize, the man is about 5’5″, approximately 60 years old, and looks like a retired professor…

Keep in mind, I just put 100 sheets with these odds in the enormous display case maybe 50 feet away from him, but we all know he can’t see the case and no way he can bet without a sheet…my legs stopped working the day before, and my patience was gone sometime Thursday afternoon…no chance in hell I am walking over to the case and getting him a sheet, and telling him to get one himself was never an option.

For those of you who work with the public, you understand that my goal most times is to get them what they want and get them on their way, especially if there are people behind them doing the bob and weave wondering what the hell is taking this person so long in front of them…so, in that mode, I say, “We have the odds to win the whole thing…who do you want to know?”

Overjoyed, he steps up to the counter and says “OH, ok.”  Here we go…”Wisconsin?” 30-1…apparently, not high enough…”How about Arkansas?”  250-1…”Oh, give me $5 on them.”  He looks down at piece of paper in his hand that I cannot see… “South Carolina?” 200-1…”Give me $5 on them.”  Then there is a pause…it’s not long, it’s not short, just a noticeable pause.

He then says “How about OX-fer?”  WHAT???  I think I misheard him…I ask “who did you say?”  He looks right at me and asks again, “the odds on OX-fer?”  I swear, I know I am dead tired and literally physically fatigued, but I know I heard him.  There are only 24 teams left in the tourney at this point, but I sure as hell have no idea who he is talking about…I scan the odds screen hoping to find this alleged OX-fer…I got nothing…he then pulls out a sheet from Caesars.

I ask again “Who?”  He points at the sheet…OH YEAH, there it is….

XAVIER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Deadpanned “Oh, OX-fer, they are good. They are 90-1″…he literally jumps with excitement and says “give me $5 on them.”  I can’t help it…I reply “you want $5 on OX-fer?”  He says it again, “Yes, give me $5 on OX-fer!”  My supervisor was standing next to me, and we could not stop laughing.  NO BULLSHIT, if he did not point to them on his sheet, we’d still be at the counter looking for OX-fer.

First post complete…thank you for reading my BULLSHIT…

 

 

New Year, same BULLSHIT…what do you mean a football contest consumed your life?

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears…

Or, in this case, Friends, Followers, Bloggers, and Real People with Daily Bullshit in your lives, lend me your eyeballs and about 15 minutes of your time…

It tis’ now 2015, and it is time to write again.  I took some time off in pursuit of one of the most glorious achievements that I hope to attain someday.  You may ask, geez, what is this pursuit, this thing that has you so possessed that you chose to not write a thing for almost three months?  Surely it must be something important…maybe a personal health goal, or some family relationship goal, maybe some professional goal…maybe I am taking cooking lessons, or the wife and I are finally going to dance lessons?  Alas, all noble and positive thoughts and dreams, but those shall remain in their most realistic place, far off in my head, only to be accessed in my deepest sleeps where I actually have dreams.

Remember, I have three daughters, ages 11, 9 and 11 months now.  Sleep deprivation is back in the ocean of estrogen, and it is simply kicking my ass.  More on that later in another post.

As for my absence from the blog, I was pursuing a most improbable and illogical thing called the Westgate (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) Football SuperContest.  No BULLSHIT, that is it.  For those of you not aware of it, yes, it sounds stupid.  And when I give you more details, your snap conclusions will probably be confirmed.  But, for those of us in the business, and all of those who love to watch football and “predict” the outcome, this is like the World Series of Poker for poker players, the Super Bowl for the NFL or the Stanley Cup for hockey players.

The format is simple.  The lines for the contest come out every Wednesday based on the current line of the NFL games that weekend.  All you have to do is pick 5 games each week against the spread, and the picks have to be submitted by Saturday morning at 10am PST.  At the end of the season, the entry with the most games right wins.  Seventeen weeks, five picks per week, 85 picks total.  One point for a winner, half point for a push, and nothing, nada, zilch for a loser.  The top 30 finishers get paid.  The rest get stugotz.

How much does one pay to enter this prestigious contest?  Entries cost $1500.  Yep, you read that right.  And this year, thanks to Bill Simmons writing about it on ESPN, Cousin Sal giving out picks each week on Sportscenter, and all the other publicity from gambling sites like Oddshark.com amongst others, there was a record number of entries this season, 1406 to be exact.  Yep, that means that 1405 other jagoffs like myself “took a shot” at getting enough games right to maybe change their lives by picking the right sides of NFL games each week.  The Westgate Superbook is selling a dream, and there are more and more buyers for the aggravation every year.

Being in the business for 2o years, I would say I have a decent opinion, but one thing is for sure, I don’t have the book from Back to the Future with all the scores in it.  I would say that I am right more than I am wrong most of the time, but I don’t know everything (despite what my wife and daughters say.)  I like to solicit other opinions on everything, not just football games.  I am the first to seek out knowledge or someone smarter than me when I need to make a decision, whether that is what blender to buy or if the Steelers are going to cover on Sunday.  Simply put, I know I cannot go at this alone because I will inevitably “outthink” myself.  So, I have a partner in the contest, and together, we hash it out each and every week.

My partner and I made our maiden voyage into the contest last season when there were 1002 entries.  Same deal, top 30 spots got paid.  For the math impaired, that means that only the top 3% got paid.  This year, the spots remained the same, meaning it was only the top 2.1%.  Not a real good investment to say the least.  Figuring that you have to pick at 60% or better to make the money, it is most likely a waste of time and money.  I had been studying this contest for a few years, and my partner and I were ready to take our shot.  So, we gave it a go, and the Sharp Squad was born in 2013.

Keep in mind, it’s only 5 games per week.  That means if you can go 3-2 over the 17 weeks, you finish with 51 points, and that is usually good enough to get in the money.  Anything better than that is surely a cash, let alone if you get 54 or more, we are talking a six figure payout.  Trust me, it seems easier than it actually is.  And if you are anything like my wife and girls, it is REAL EASY on Mondays after the games are played.  I’ll get, “Daddy, why did you pick that team?  You knew they were going to lose.”  The ocean of estrogen is real SMART on MONDAY.

We started out pretty well at 13-6-1 after four weeks.  After a few up and down weeks of 2-3 and 3-2, we caught a little fire with some 4-1s and avoided any disaster weeks.  We just couldn’t get what I have dubbed “that ever evasive 5-0” that really jumps you up in the standings.  We maintained our spot from anywhere in the top 10 to the top 50 for just about the entire season.  The finish line was in sight, and we had a real shot at some life changing money with three weeks remaining.

We kept the routine the same.  Sunday nights, after the games were played, we made our own numbers for the next week.  That way, when the books came out with their own, we had an idea what our “first opinion” was.  Minimal communication Mondays and Tuesdays to keep things fresh.  Wednesdays, the lines came out on the website, and we go back and forth via text to see where each other is at with our thoughts.  Thursday was the first face to face talk.  We go back and forth like any of the shows on ESPN.  The best thing that came out of the Thursday talks was usually what games we wouldn’t be using.  Finally, after work on Friday, it was time for the phone call.  Him at his place, me at mine, both of us in front of our computers, ready to get to it.

As the season went on, these talks became marathons.  We left no stone unturned.  Who is injured for Tampa?  Who is playing QB for Tennessee?  Who are people betting in the San Diego game?  On and on it went.  No BULLSHIT, it felt like going 15 rounds with Tyson, and we were exhausted after these talks.  Somehow, each week, we would come to a consensus on five games.  Only occasionally would one of us say, “You know, I hate this pick, but this one is on you.  Better get it in.”  Somehow, the partnership worked, and we had success.

How did it turn out, you ask?  In 2013, the top 30 plus ties got paid, meaning the top 35 entries got paid.  The winner, David Frohardt-Lane, won $536, 000, and the tied spots for the last paying spot each got $5300.  The Sharp Squad finished 36th, exactly one half point out of the money at 50.5 points, 59.4% correctly picking winners.  First loser.  I couldn’t move for 24 hours afterwards, despite my wife being 8 months pregnant and two daughters on winter break.  We had come so close, literally 4 games away from a six figure payout, let alone a half point from a little score.

Onto 2014.  With a new baby at home, daughters without an off switch, mama on the overnight shift, and me coaching a 10 and under girls softball team, I didn’t know if I could do it again.  Plus, with us coming so close, we just knew how it would go this season.  With 400 more entries, and my partner’s life thrown into disarray losing his job right before the season, odds were stacked against us right from the start.  Throwing logic to the wind, we decided to give it another shot this season.

At the start, all of our preconceived notions were validated and the gambling gods gave us the finger.  A terrible 5-10 start put us way behind the pace.  We couldn’t pick our nose.  Every game that could have gone our way didn’t.  We were doubting ourselves and our process.  I figured we were a week or two away from throwing the towel in and not even submitting picks anymore.  It just wasn’t working.  Then, we got a break in a game that we had no business winning and had a winning week.  We went 11-4 in the next three weeks to get back over .500, and things were looking up.

That was after week six, right around the time I wrote my last post here on the BULLSHITTERZ blog.  Things were really going good, and I was all in.  Every waking moment was spent reading and researching games, players, numbers, past performances, even weather reports.  The Squad was back!  I liked to say, “it felt like we were dancing” when we would watch the games on Sunday and the results were close to what we predicted.  We went an amazing 35-15 (75%) after that terrible start, and at 40-25, we were back in the top 60 and had a shot with four weeks remaining.  Girls, maybe we will go swim with the dolphins in Hawaii.

Shit was getting pretty real at this point.  Laundry wasn’t getting done, phone calls weren’t being answered, etc.  I stopped shaving.  At times, it was lucky the kids were being fed and the baby’s diaper was getting changed.  “What do you mean the baby pooped?  I am reading about the Jaguars practice here!”  “Sure, go ahead and have chocolate cake, girls, Daddy is trying to figure out what the weather is going to be like in New York on Sunday.”

After back to back 3-2 weeks, we were sitting with 46 and two weeks to go.  8-2 gets us in the money for sure, 7-3 is a maybe, and 6-4 or less, and history repeats itself.  I can hardly sleep for days that week.  The lines look like hieroglyphics.  The baby is starting to stand up and creep around, let alone crawl all over and get into everything.  Every second she is awake in the house is a heart attack because of course, the house is not baby proofed.  The holidays are a week away, and I am zero help in getting a single present.  I wake up for no reason wondering if the line moved in the Houston-Baltimore game.

The phone call was tense that week.  We were both stressed and felt out of sorts.  His parents were visiting for the holidays, and I had a pack of females wondering when we were going to see Santa Claus.  Well, Daddy has to talk about the games.  Tell Santa I said hello.  We went back and forth, forth and back, and after at least an hour, we submitted our five games.  Now, we had to sit and wait for the Westgate to put out everyone’s picks online like they do every week on Saturday at noon.  It’s always a big deal to see what everyone has each week, but this week felt different for what was at stake.

After the picks came out, we felt nervous because we found our way to games that not a lot of people had.  That meant if we had a good week, we would make up some ground and possibly be in the money going into the last week.  On the flip side, if we did not, the dream of swimming with the dolphins in Maui may be over.  What do you think happened?  What is that saying, history repeats itself?

Every call went against us, every fumble was lost, a guy who can’t run scrambled for a first down on 4th and 14, and we went 2-3.  I was down.  It was deflating.  All this hard work for what?  Now, it would take a “ever elusive 5-0” to get us to the money, and the dream of a top 10 finish was done.  The top entries in the contest this year were all having record setting years, and we were just behind the pace.  In years past, we would have still been in it.  Not 2014.

As expected, the call the last week was melancholy.  We knew it was mathematically possible, but we knew it wasn’t realistic.  We tried our best to make a case for the first 5-0 in Squad history, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  A respectable 3-2 put us at 51-34 for the year, an exceptional 60% again, yet in the all too familiar out of the money spot, this time two points out.  Frustrating to say the least.  Congratulations to CH Ballers and their absurd 64.5 finish and $756k first place prize.  Google them and you can read their story, a four man partnership of 30 somethings in their first year in the Westgate contest.  Also, a shout out to Kelly in Vegas and her 14-1 finish to win the last three weeks mini contest and the $15k.  You can find her with google as well.

As for me, football season is technically “over” with my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers laying an absolute egg against the Ravens on Saturday, much to the delight of my daughters.  Thanks to their kindergarten teacher being from Baltimore, and their love of rooting against Daddy all the time, they have adopted the arch rival Ravens as their football team.  They have all the gear, and they think it’s normal for their team to win a Super Bowl, let alone always beat the Steelers.  Now, if that isn’t BULLSHIT, I don’t know what is.

Happy New Year to all, and please follow the blog on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Friday joke for the weekend…the difference between men and women

I heard a joke and I wanted to share it with all of you.  Thank you for reading the blog, liking the Facebook page, and offering feedback and comments.  Have a great weekend.

Husband Store

A store that sells new husbands has opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband.
Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband.
On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1 – These men Have Jobs

She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 2 – These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.
‘That’s nice,’ she thinks, ‘but I want more.’

So she continues upward.. The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 – These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, and are Extremely Good Looking.

‘Wow,’ she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.


She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 4 – These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help With Housework.

‘Oh, mercy me!’ she exclaims, ‘I can hardly stand it!’

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 5 – These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, Help with Housework, and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 6 – You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.
(keep reading!)
 



PLEASE NOTE:

To avoid gender bias charges, the store’s owner opened a New Wives store just across the street.

The first floor has wives that love sex.

The second floor has wives that love sex and have money and like beer.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors have never been visited.

It’s enough to make a grown man CRY…

Ok, first things first.  The usual announcement.  Keep reading the blog.  Keep sending suggestions for topics.  Sign up for email updates.  Like the Facebook page.  Thank you for reading and expanding the audience.  End of announcement and onto the real BULLSHIT.

This post is going to touch on a couple of things that have happened to me in the past couple weeks that literally brought me to the brink of emotion.  I am not going to lie.  Living in the ocean of estrogen amongst all of these females has totally softened me up.  I am a big wuss anymore.  I get choked up by commercials, songs, feel good stories on the Voice, and who knows what else.  I joke that somebody is crying in this house at least once a day, whether it’s one of my three daughters (ages 11, 9 and 8 months) or Mama, and it could happen at any time for any reason.  At times, I feel like it should be me.

In the immortal words of Jim Valvano in his famous ESPY speech that he delivered while he was dying from cancer, all of us should do these three things every day— Laugh, spend time in deep thought, and be moved to the point of tears, i.e. cry.  That is a full day.  Here in the ocean of estrogen, we have it covered.  We laugh all the time (mostly at me), spend time thinking (frequently about what I say to them),  and yes, cry (for who knows what, but it is usually my fault).  We have a full day pretty much everyday that ends with “y” up in here.  Recently, the tables were turned on me.

My first example is the morning routine.  I could say the same about the bedtime routine, but for these purposes, I will concentrate on the morning routine.  For parents with school-age children, you know what I am talking about.  Waking up these kids is a J-O-B every damn day, and now, throw in an infant and the surprises that may bring, and I just want to drop to my knees like a two year old.  I have dear friends who have SIX kids so I think of them often as I am trying desperately to wake my two up, and it gives me some solace that it could be worse.  Please wake up.  Rub their back.  Shake them gently.  Please wake up.  It’s time to get up for school.  Please, I am begging you.  Get up and get moving.  Find something to wear.  Damn, I wish we had school uniforms.

I have to get in the shower and get ready for work myself.  I know nobody really cares that I have a 40 minute commute to work, and if I hit traffic, it could take an hour.  I have to shower and get dressed.  Please wake up.  Oh, the baby is crying.  Get her out of the crib, change her, make a bottle, and get it in her mouth ASAP.  Are you guys up yet?  Can you please wake up and hold the baby for five minutes while I shower and get dressed.  Oh, you are tired.  Well, join the club.  I have to go to the spray bottle.  Nobody likes the spray bottle.  I hate to do it, but if you don’t get up, you get cold water on you.  Now that everybody is up and mad at me, at least you are up and moving.  Thank you.  And, after the process is started, they are up, getting ready for school and I head to the car, frazzled, feeling guilty, and on the brink of a breakdown.  Thank you Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd for talking about sports on the radio and helping me off the ledge as I drive to work.  Parents, you are not alone.

Second example was the retirement of Derek Jeter.  This was just another reminder that time stands still for no one, and we are getting older all the time.  I love baseball, and I have admired the way Derek Jeter was able to play the game and rise to the occasion in big moments.  He is only three years younger than me, and I have been watching him over his entire 20 year career in the big leagues.  In his final game at Yankee Stadium, he had an all-time Jeter moment when he came up in the 9th inning, man on second, one out, tie game.  Classic Jeter, he lines a single to right, the game winning run scores, and he ends his home career with a walk-off game winner.  You can’t make this stuff up.  If it was a movie, you wouldn’t believe it.

I am watching it with Mama and the kids at the dinner table, and when he hits the ball, I stand up.  The run scores, the Yankees win, and there he is, jumping around first base, arms up, 50 thousand fans going crazy.  Instant goosebumps.  Tears well up in my eyes.  A lump in my throat.  I can’t say a word.  The girls look at me, and the nine year old blurts out, “Daddy is going to cry.”  Awesome.  Definitely one of those things that I will always remember where I was and who I was with when I saw it.  I held it together, but barely.  We watched it over and over.  I tried to explain to them that Jeter was just one of those guys and this was one of those moments.  I felt like a little boy and an old man all at the same time, admiring a guy rising to the occasion one last time.  And sharing it with my wife and girls made it that much more special.

The final example occurred while we were all out to dinner.  As those of you with kids know, going out to dinner can be a tear jerking experience in itself.  With an infant, we just take turns holding her while the others try to eat their food while it is hot.  At least with the two older girls, we have a couple extra set of hands, and believe me, they are a tremendous help.  Unlike me, the kids don’t mind eating their food lukewarm or even cold.  Daddy is a bit of big baby, as I prefer to eat my dinner while it is still hot.  Call me crazy, but when the server puts the food on the table, somebody please keep the baby occupied for a few minutes while I inhale whatever I ordered at its appropriate temperature.

On this night, we sit down to eat wings at Buffalo Wild Wings at 6pm.  Mama and the girls have spent the day shuttling between fields and softball games while I was at work.  I left work to coach the second game of the doubleheader for the Girl Sox, the 10 and under team that I am coaching this season.  No, I am not the manager, but I am still heavily involved.  Anyways, I change in the parking lot, after putting in nine hours at the sportsbook, and we suffer our first defeat of the season.  Everybody is hungry, cranky, and tired, and we all need food.

At the table, it’s the usual BULLSHIT.  Appetizers come, and all the females have to go to the bathroom.  They all go together, following Mama like chicks following the mother duck.  I love bathroom time.  I get a 5-10 minute respite of silence and reflection.  It truly is glorious.  Also, I can eat what I want, how much I want, and I can even double dip without being scolded.  As quick as it came though, the girls are back, and they are ready to eat like they are going to the electric chair.  One thing about my girls, when they are hungry, they can eat.  Just sit back and watch the show, and try not to lose a finger.

Games are on the TVs all around us, we talk, we relive the girls’ games, the poopy diapers, the commute between fields, etc, all in painstaking detail.  I am constantly amazed at their ability to tell me EVERYTHING that happened to them throughout the day, and I was only away from them for nine hours.  Of course, this is in between walks with the baby, a couple of dollars pissed away in the claw game that they love to play, and the baby playing her own game of making us pick up everything she drops on the floor because she thinks it’s funny.  Remember that one?  Oh, yeah, it’s real funny.  Over and over.  I am at my wits end.

Anyways, two hours later (YES, THAT IS TWO HOURS LATER), after repeated trips to the bathroom, walks around the restaurant, walks outside, a trip to the car, and, oh, yeah, eating, it’s time to get the check.  The waitress hands me the bill, but it must be a mistake.  I stop her and say, “I am sorry, but I think you gave us the wrong check.  This says $5.18.”  Now, this woman has been more than patient with us, she gave us great service in refilling our drinks and repeated requests for more ranch (kids love ranch), but surely she grabbed the wrong check.  This marathon feast should have set us back about $80-100 with tip.

She hands us a napkin.  On it, there is a handwritten note that simply says, “You have very polite daughters.”  She goes on to explain that a complete stranger saw our girls with the baby in the bathroom or walking around the place or something, and they had an exchange.  Our girls helped her or her daughter or were nice to them.  Apparently, she didn’t really say exactly, and our girls had no idea.  Whatever they did, they made such an impression that this complete stranger picked up our check and left without saying anything, leaving only this note.  I was floored.

The best part was that the girls had no idea what they did.  They were just being themselves.  There is nothing like a compliment about your kids from a complete stranger.  This was an all timer.  I was beaming with pride.  Literally speechless.  As I tried to tell the kids how proud of them I was, it was another one of those lump in the throat moments.  Hugs and kisses for everybody, and a proud Papa Bear.

You just never know.  From the tears of frustration from the morning routine, the raw emotion of sharing a special moment with loved ones, and the pride that maybe all that hard work you put into raising these kids is working…it really is enough to make a grown man cry.

 

 

 

Working with the public provides some CLASSIC questions and moments…who said the customer is always right?

Before I begin, I want to thank all of you for following along on the blog.  Apparently, I now have readers from all over the world, and it is a true joy to know that people are reading and enjoying the posts.  With all of the people finding the blog, a new Facebook page has been created, Bullshitterz Blog, along with a twitter feed, @bullshiterzblog.  We are not sure what direction these things are going to go in the future, but for now, you can find the blog using them.  At least that is what my social media manager said.  As always, it’s a work in progress, and I am learning along with you.

The last few posts have dealt with questions.  Questions from the kids.  Questions from the wife.  Like I have said in previous posts, I love asking questions, and I love answering questions.  It’s all a part of the quest for knowledge.  It leads to conversation, debate, discussion, points and counterpoints, arguments and who knows what else.  Sometimes, a question can lead to a really good answer, and other times, a question can leave us with a quizzical look on our face, staring upward looking for guidance.  Recently, both the wife and I have had some questions posed to us at work that I wanted to share, along with one of my all time favorites from years ago.

As you may or may not know, my wife works the overnight shift at a retail pharmacy in Las Vegas.  As you can imagine, she sees it all, and in the course of a shift, the questions are classic.  Keep in mind that the corporate handbook does not train you to answer these questions.  Instead, they give you that BULLSHIT “the customer is always right.”  For those of us that work with the public, I will be the first to tell you the customer is DEFINITELY NOT always right!!

Just the other night, I got to share in one of these while I was on the phone with her.  It was 4:30am, and I had just woken up to give the baby her binky and pray that she went back to sleep.  Mama has the drop cam app on her phone so she can watch the room while she is at work.  This way, if I don’t hear the baby, she can text me or call me to tell me to wake up and get the baby.  Thanks modern technology.  Anyways, I took care of it, and I took the preemptive strike and called her to say that I took care of it.  While on the phone with her, she got a customer call about a prescription.

“Is my prescription ready?”  Mama looks it up.  No, it’s not ready.  What she doesn’t say is that it was ready and sat on the shelf for 10 days.  When you don’t pick it up, it gets put back.  So, now it has to be redone.

“When will it be ready?”  As protocol allows, it will be ready in the morning, after 9am.  What she doesn’t say is that it has to be re-verified, filled, printed, etc, figuring that is understood.

“Can’t you just have it ready tonight?”  There is a long pause, then a deep sigh…I was waiting on the edge of my bed…

In the ‘pleasant phone voice’, the answer comes swift.  “Ma’am, tonight is over.  It is almost 5 o’clock in the MORNING, and your prescription will be ready after nine in the MORNING.  See you then.  Thank you.”  I nearly fell off the bed laughing.  I always tell her that her best material comes out in the show after midnight.

This exchange reminded me of one of my all time favorite exchanges with a customer.  It occurred twenty years ago, but I can remember it like it was yesterday.  I was working at our family business, Ralph’s Discount City, on Fifth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh.  Fresh from graduating from Penn State and trying to learn the family business from my Dad, he took the time to teach me everything from the ground up.  I unloaded trucks, stocked shelves, rang a register, worked on the sales floor and talked to customers.  It was not easy being the “boss’ kid”, and there were many times where I was like a rookie on a team or a freshman in school.

Someone had to go get lunch, they sent me.  Someone had to clean the bathrooms, they sent me.  Someone had to unload the truck in freezing rain, they sent me.  Someone had to talk to a crazy person at the counter, they sent me.  Yeah, a lot of it was BULLSHIT, but I took it all in stride.  I knew the deal.  My Dad had a great saying that “respect is earned, not given,” and I would have to earn their respect.

Now, downtown Pittsburgh is like any other urban city.  You get ALL kinds.  Race, ethnicity, social class, wealth, we had it covered from A to Z.  Visiting ballplayers and hockey players used to stop in along with the panhandlers from the corner.  One time I sold Deion Sanders and Barry Larkin new Sony Walkmans while they were in town for a series with the Pirates.  We got everybody for better or worse from a who’s who to the everyday person who worked downtown and needed to pick up something before heading home.  I got a true PHD in dealing with people in my time at Ralph’s, from co-workers and customers alike.

The story went something like this.  It was August, and it was HOT outside.  Think 95 degrees with 90 percent humidity.  You could smell the sweat in the air outside.  It was what I referred to as “Africa hot.”  Every person who came into the store was sweating, and we were selling fans and bottled drinks faster than we could keep them on the shelf.

Dial Deodorant Soap Ad (1949)

As I remember, it was towards the end of a long day, and I was heading towards the bathroom from the appliance side of the store.  I had to go before I left, in case there was traffic, because I have issues (see the previous post titled men are big babies when they are sick).  I was walking briskly past the deodorant aisle when I was stopped by a customer.  I could draw a picture of her today with the help of a sketch artist.  She was 5’2″ tops, weighed approximately 250, was wearing a tank top and shorts, and literally was sweating everywhere.  I actually smelled her before I saw her.

“Baby, you work here?”  Hmmm.  Moral dilemma.  Say no, and keep walking to the shitter.  Better yet, run.  Or, say yes and hold my breath.  Pause.  Here goes nothing.  Yes.

“I have to ax you a question.”  Oh, boy.  There I am, a deer in headlights, squeezing cheeks.  The bathroom will have to wait.  Deep breath.  OK, what is your question?

She raised her arm and wiped a gallon of sweat from her forehead with the back of her forearm.  “Honey, you know it’s so hot outside, and I be sweating all da time.  I need me some good dee-o-door-ant that will help me not sweat.”  Oh, yeah.  No problem.  The bubble over my head probably read something like ‘Lady, all the deodorant in the world will not stop that,’ as she was standing in a puddle of perspiration.  But, she is a customer, and I always try to help.

With a quick glance at the shelf, I see it.  Dial.  Anti-Perspirant.  Perfect.  I reach for it, pick it up, and with all the confidence in the world, I sell it.  “This should work.  It’s really good.”

I hand it to her.  Despite almost slipping out of her hand from the sweat, she holds onto it.  First question, “Do this smell good?”  Oh, yeah, it’s the fresh scent.  Smells great. Very fresh.

Second question, “Do it stop all the sweat from running down my side when I put it on?”  Again, in my head, in reality, nothing other than winter is going to stop that.  But I am selling it.  Well, when it’s this hot outside, you may have to put it on a couple of times a day, but it will help.

She pauses.  I am standing there waiting to run to the bathroom.  She looks me up and down like she might make a move.  She stares at the label again…then, as serious as can be, she goes, “Oh, baby, I don’t think I want this one.”  Really, why not?

“You see this right here?  It says ‘kills odor-causing bacteria.’  Hun-neeee, I want it to kill the odor, dat’s good…but I don’t want no bacteria on my body, dat’s bad.  No way.  Even if it do smell good, I don’t need no bacteria on me. I can’t be using stuff that be causing me some bacteria.”  WHOA.  WAIT.  YOU GOT THIS ALL WRONG LADY.  I remember looking around to see if I was on Candid Camera (google it if you don’t know).

QUICK.  THINK.  KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE.  NO BULLSHIT.  No, Ma’am.  I wouldn’t sell you something that causes bacteria.  I know that is the way you read it.  What it means is that the bacteria causes the odor, and this stuff will kill it all.  No more odor, no more bacteria, no more sweat.  This will take care of it all.

“Honey, you sure?  Why would they put on here that it be causing bacteria?”  Ma’am, I can assure you that this product will not cause bacteria.  We wouldn’t sell something that causes bacteria.  Would you like to try one of the other HUNDRED on the shelf that doesn’t say causes bacteria?  They all work good, trust me.  Another long pause.  She looked into my eyes through beads of sweat.

“Nah, bay-beee.  I believes you.  If you say it ain’t gonna cause no bacteria, and it smell good, I’m going to try it.  But, if I get me some bacteria, I am going to come back and return it.”  Please do.  I’ll be here.  But you are going to be just fine.

“Thank you, baby.  You really nice.”  Then, she hugged me, pressing those sweaty double D’s against my chest and grazing my cheek with her own glistening cheek.  Now soaked with sweat, I laughed all the way to the bathroom.

Have a great day.  Please share any memorable experiences you have had in the comments section or on the Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

When a parent and child switch roles, crazy stuff can happen…I miss my Dad and needed a laugh…

For those of you who have lost someone close to you, I am sure you can relate.  My Dad, nicknamed “Big E” by many, passed away a year and a half ago.  I think of him everyday as I put his watch on every morning, and there are many quiet moments when I talk to him.  I may be walking, I may be driving, I may be laying in bed, who knows.  Sometimes, it just comes out.  Big E was my go-to guy for everything.  He had the ability to just listen to whatever you had to say, and he made the time to listen.  Good or bad, happy or sad, easy or hard, brief or long, he would listen, then he would offer his unique opinion.  A lot of times, it may not have been exactly what you wanted to hear, but it was always honest.  And, no matter if he agreed or disagreed, you always felt better after talking to him.  Always.

As long as I can remember, Big E was my vent, and he took it all in stride.  No topics were off limits, and he was there, day or night.  Big E and Nance, my mom, were married for 45 years, had 5 kids, and really built an amazing life together.  Big E ended up owning the business, Ralph’s Discount in downtown Pittsburgh, that he started working at after high school, and he knew EVERYBODY in the city.  From the judges and lawyers and cops and CEOs all the way to the parking attendants and panhandlers on Fifth Avenue, he knew them all, and they all knew him.  He was a big guy with a bigger personality, and a unique trait to make whomever he was talking to feel like the most important person in the world.

After a true rags to riches story, putting all five kids through Penn State, Big E called me and said he had a brain tumor.  He was 55 at the time.  The world changed that day for all of us.  Two brain surgeries later, a plethora of other health ailments slowed him down over the next ten years.  All of the kids left Pittsburgh for other opportunities, and Nance was left alone to take care of him.  It was a full time job, and, after a long time, she needed help.

With the blessing of my dear wife and two young daughters, we made the decision to move them to Las Vegas to live with us until we could figure out the next move.  That turned out to be a challenging, trying year to say the least, but it was one of the best years of my life.  My kids got to see and do it all with my parents, and memories were made that will last a lifetime.  I know it could not have been done without my wife, and I will forever be eternally grateful to her for everything that she did for all of us.

Recently, I have been talking about things my Dad said or did with a bunch of people.  I even just spoke to one of his childhood friends who he lovingly referred to as “Coc-a-roach”, and we spent a wonderful 15 minutes reminiscing about Big E and catching up.  Needless to say, Big E has been on my mind lately, and I wanted to share a story about his time here in the desert with us.  Life just goes by so fast, and with the blog growing each week, I wanted to share a real moment in time with everyone.

Below is an email that I sent to my siblings and close friends summarizing the first week of Big E and Nance living with us.  I know it put a smile on my face after I read it, and I hope it does the same for you.  What I would give for just another day with Big E.

(dated 9/3/2010)

So, first of all, I asked each one of my siblings to please take a minute and call my home number or mom’s cell number yesterday, even if it’s for less than 5 minutes, and surprising enough, nobody called.  Even a couple texts back and forth will do.  Please at some point in the next 24 hours, Mom should hear from each one of you, even if it’s for 3 minutes.  “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

The Tina experiment went as well as it could go.  She came over and gave Dad a shower, complete with an above average “ball washing”, as he likes to refer to a female stranger cleaning his testicles.  She shaved his face, washed him, put some moisturizer on along with deodorant and aftershave, and got him dressed, all of which occurred while I was still at work.  I came home and he looked and smelled fresh, and he was feeling good enough to describe the whole thing as “tremendous.”  This is going to occur as frequently as possible, as long as we can fit it into Tina’s schedule and we can afford to pay her.

After Jess, Nance and Kelsey went to get dinner at Panda, they came back and all ate dinner while I napped on the couch.  After the kids said goodnight, I woke up and hung out with Mom, Dad and Jess.  Then, when we tried to get Mom’s netbook working, we could not get it signed on to our wireless network in the house.  Jess called Cox and got a rep who tried to get her through it.  Nance punched out close to midnight and went to bed.  Dad fell asleep in the chair with his feet up on the ottoman.  I patiently waited on the couch while Jess talked to one guy who, after an hour and every possible troubleshooting thought, said “that’s it, I am transferring you to level 2.”  Who the hell even knew there was a level 2?

That was it for me.  I then passed out on the couch.  After another F@#^*#* hour on the phone, the level 2 guy must have said “it’s the macafee security firewall, it’s too good, you have to call them” and that was it.  Jess was tired, frustrated and with no solution, a bit ticked off.  I was then hurriedly woken up and told “let’s get Dad to bed, now.”

So, we wake him up and say let’s get in bed.  His first question is “you mean I am not in my bed?”  No, Dad, let’s go.  OK, so we get him up and as he starts to head to the bed, he says “I should piss before I get in bed.”  We agree, and off we go to the bathroom.  For those of you who have been here or seen it on Skype, it’s 10, maybe 12 steps.  Now, close your eyes and imagine doing it in frame by frame slow motion.  Yep, it takes a couple minutes.

Anyways, he gets there while Jess and I are at the entranceway to the family room/kitchen area, and we hear a mini “boom.”  Jess says to me “is he alright?”  Without using my Superman x-ray vision to look through the walls, I speed over to the bathroom to find Dad sitting on the toilet in what appears to be a successful, normal fashion.  At least as normal as a big guy sitting on that little toilet can look.

“You ok?” I ask him.

“Yep. just sitting on the toilet”, he replies.  Apparently, when he goes to “sit” on the toilet, it’s more like a hover, line it up and lean back til you hit the target.  The process is not exactly sitting, and upon impact, it tends to make a bit of noise.  Otherwise, it’s fine.

Then, with me standing in front of him in the bathroom, he says “uh oh” like a kid does when he/she is 2.  We all know that “uh oh”

I swear at that moment, time stood still.  I froze up.  “uh oh”  What the hell does that mean?  what is uh oh right now?

Before I could actually say anything, Dad comes with “my dick is not all the way in the toilet.”  And then the bathroom becomes like the fountain at the point in Pittsburgh, only with the force of Hurricane Katrina.  Seriously, the man can piss like we do when we hold it for, say, like a day or two.

I jumped back as fast as I could, and after getting hit with it like one does from an outside mister on a hot summer day in the desert, my dear wife Jessica comes with this gem.  “Is he pissing?”

You all know I love my wife dearly.  Right then, a million things were coming at me, and all I could come up with was “yep.  A lot.  And all over.”  LOL.  I head over to the foot of his bed to find another pair of shorts for him when Jess, with all seriousness asks, “Did he get it on his shorts too?”

I patiently try to gather myself and turn to look at her.  My reply came in the form of question.  “Are you seriously asking me this question?  No, he peed all over the toilet, the floor, me, etc, but amazingly, his shorts are perfectly dry.”  She laughs, I laugh, and Elliott laughs.  Hey, at least we were laughing.

Finally, with the help of rubber gloves, paper towels, clorox wipes, etc, the cleanup goes pretty smooth.  I am a big fan of rubber gloves, and I swear I would bathe in hand sanitizer if I could.  The last thing to do is get Big E in his bed with a new diaper and pair of shorts.  As both Nance and Jess like to say, “that’s all you.”  Here is how this process goes.

I get down on one knee directly in front of Dad, who is wearing only a t-shirt.  He puts his hands on my shoulders for support as he lifts each foot, and I guide his feet into the diaper.  Needless to say, it’s the closest I can ever remember being to another man’s genitals in my life.  Kinda gives you a whole new perspective.  On second thought, that’s the LEAST it does.

Anyways, as I pull the diaper up and get on my feet in light speed, I hit Jessica with a gem of my own.  “Go get something to put down there to keep it fresh.”  I swear, that is exactly what I said.  LOL.

“Like what?” she asked.

“I don’t know.  Anything.  Just go find something.”

A quick trip up the stairs and back down, and I will give you one guess what she is holding…yep, you guessed it…Ammon’s powder.  Why not?

I don’t have a powder puff so with Dad standing in the doorway of the bathroom and his diaper up to his knees only, I lean back down below the belt, still wearing the rubber gloves.  Now that we all have kids and have done diaper duty, you know how to powder the kid, especially after they drop a bomb in the Pamper.  Spare no powder, cover it all and load up the diaper.  I don’t know about you, but there were times when my daughters would sit down after a diaper change and it looked like an early morning dusting of snow in December in Pittsburgh.

A spur of the moment decision is made to load up the diaper with powder.  With Jess standing behind me, and me down on one knee, and Dad just kind of “hanging out” right there, I think to myself “load it up”.  This is how goofy I am.  I am actually having this conversation in my head while I am less than a foot from the nether region.  But, even with the rubber gloves, I can’t juggle the nut sack, I just can’t do it.  Instead, I shake the powder up and “graze” the right testicle.  Not hard, not easy, but definitely suddenly and clearly unexpectedly.

I will leave you with this.  Dad may not have feeling in two of his fingers, and his legs and feet are questionable at best, but he still has feeling in a lot of areas.  I think the last time he actually jumped off the ground was back in the 80s, but I swear I saw air under his feet, even for just a second.  When we laid him down in bed, we got him all propped up and aligned the bed like he likes it.

I say “You ok?  You need anything else?”

His reply “Nope, I am good.  But, Dave, geez, I didn’t know you were going to touch my balls…next time, just do it a little easier.”

WTF????? NEXT TIME???? WAIT????  WHAT????  THERE AINT GONNA BE NO REMATCH!!!!

And that is why I am up writing this and watching him sleep.  LOL.  Have a good day.  And stay tuned for more updates from the nuthouse. (end of email)

 

Questions, questions, and more questions…they just keep coming EVERY DAMN DAY

Last week, I wrote about questions.  Those were questions from the kids.  If you haven’t read it, take a few minutes and read the post below this one.  As the father of three daughters, it is always interesting when you get questions from them, and even more so when one of them is “what is a boy’s pee pee called?”  We have always heard that the mind works in mysterious ways, and in the world of parenting, there has never been a truer statement when it comes to the minds of kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the questions, and I love the fact that they ask questions.  We have tried to instill in them that it is ok to ask us anything because both Mama and I know the day will come where they don’t ask us shit because they don’t want to hear our opinion.  So, I will take what I can get now, and even when they hit me with one out of the blue, I will scramble for an answer anyway I can.  No doubt as they get older, the questions get a little tougher, but you just figure it as you go.  But enough about the kids’ questions.

Today’s post is about the daily questions that you get from your significant other.  You know the ones.  Simple questions really.  It’s just the answers that are hard.  Not to mention, the tone in which you answer the question is MORE important than the actual answer.  “That” tone can sometimes determine where the entire conversation goes.  We all do it.  Answer the question in the “wrong” tone, and the decibel level goes up.  A conversation can quickly turn into a discussion and into an argument with a simple inflection in voice.  Sometimes, it’s by design, other times it hits you like an unsuspecting right cross on the kisser.

Adding even more fuel to the fire, how about when you answer a question WITH A QUESTION?  That is standard practice here in the ocean of estrogen.  We don’t even mean to do it, but we are guilty of it all the time.  For example, I might get the question on Saturday night, at the end of my work week, a busy Saturday of college football in the sportsbook, the kids week of school, homework, softball, picking up and dropping off, and who knows what else.  It’s usually a whirlwind by then, and by most Saturday nights, I feel like a wrung out towel.  In between head bobs with Sportscenter on the TV, it comes innocently enough and in what I like to refer to as “the pleasant phone voice.”

“What do you have planned for tomorrow?”  Seven words.  A simple question.  Really should be a simple answer.  But, alas, there is a pause.  First reaction, no shit, is a little panic.  I think quickly.  Did I forget something tomorrow?  Or worse, what does SHE have planned for ME tomorrow?  Is there something that I don’t know about?  I can go a couple of ways with this one.

Try honesty.  Something along the lines of “I have nothing planned other than watching football all day.  I don’t think I am even going to get dressed.  I am just going to check my fantasy team lineup in the morning, then watch all the games.  Probably just make myself a sandwich and watch the games.  Definitely have no intention of leaving the house, just going to relax and watch some football.”  BULLSHIT!  My spider sense is tingling, and my brain tells my mouth to shut the hell up.

Instead, I go with what I like to call “the reporter approach.”  Ask a follow up question to get the real story.  This usually results in a conversation and a search for the truth.  I know I am not the only one using this approach, and most times, it is quite effective.

I respond, “Why?  What is on the agenda tomorrow?”

“Nothing really.  I was just wondering.”  More spider sense tingling.  The door is open, I just have to make sure I don’t knock it off the hinges.  I mean, she knows it’s football season, and she knows it’s Sunday tomorrow, and the NFL has been playing football on Sundays for 80 years.  I tread cautiously.

“I was planning on watching football.  Why, what do you have planned?”  At this point, I am ready for anything.  Bring it, I got this.  My brain is overloaded.  Could it be a hair appointment?  A mani/pedi?  The kids have practice, and I have baby duty?  A kids birthday party that I didn’t know about?  You want to go shopping?  You want to go out for breakfast or lunch?  You want to watch football too?  At this point, I am resigned to the fact that something is going on, and I will hope to catch a few minutes of highlights in between who knows what.

Here are a couple of other hard-hitting questions that we pose to each other, like Nike says, EVERY DAMN DAY.  Please feel free to add your own in the comments section:

How do I look?

This answer is all about tone and speed.  Say it too fast, you don’t mean it.  Hell, sometimes you get accused of not even looking.  Use a high pitch or a monotone, and it usually results in a wardrobe/makeup/hairstyle/footwear change.  Then, you get a followup or repeat question, and if not answered correctly, it can even result in a change back to the original state, a “oh, the hell with it” stomp away, or, at worst, a complete cancellation of intended plans.

What do you want to eat?

A daily debate up in this joint.  If we involve the kids, it is usually a complete cluster you know what.  Without fail, the nine year old blurts out “Ci Ci’s” every time.  That is the pizza buffet place with the ridiculously good desserts.  She could eat pizza and brownies every day.  After she gets shot down, the eleven year old will go “Panda”, short for Panda Express, the Chinese fast food place.  Orange chicken and fried rice for a month straight for her.  At this point, I chime in with “sushi”, only because I know NOBODY wants it.  I get my turn out of the way with a quick dismissal from all, and we end up eating what or wherever Mama wants anyways.  As most of the men can attest to, we can find pretty much anything to eat anywhere we go at any time.  So, my simple rule is let Mama pick, just tell me when and where.

Are you hungry?

Regardless of the situation, the answer is always “yes.”  Whether I just ate a five course meal at Morton’s or I am on a hunger strike, the answer is “yes.”  If there is a follow up, the answer is a form of “whatever.”  What are you in the mood for?  Whatever.  Where do you want to go?  Wherever.  When do you want to go?  Whenever.  Sticking with the theme above, tell me when and where, and whatever is on the menu, that is what I am eating.

How was work?

This one can go one of two ways.  The standard is the brief “good” or “uneventful.”  That means nothing exciting happened.  You can get cute with this and come with “another day, another dollar” or maybe “well, it’s over” or something to convey that you have nothing.  Here in Las Vegas though, with Mama working the overnight shift at the pharmacy or me at the casino in the race and sports book, you definitely may get a story or two.  Like the night Mama says “a woman shit her pants in the waiting area tonight.  She goes to the bathroom, but not before sending me to the clothes aisle to grab her a pair of sweatpants to change into.”  You just never know what you are going to get with this question.

I will leave you with one of my favorites.

Do you want to drive?

Whenever we venture out from the ocean of estrogen together, it is usually in the minivan.  My car is the last vestibule of manhood and MY space that I have, and it’s too tight to go anywhere as a clan.  Plus, nobody likes what I listen to on the radio, the seats are too tight, there isn’t enough room, etc, etc.  In the house, I have lost the desk, the family room, for sure the bathroom, and other than my side of the bed, the bedroom as well.  I have a seat at the dinner table and that is pretty much it.

The minivan is the same way.  The only thing I have is a key.  And, most of the time, I don’t even want to use it.  So, as we head out the door and the question comes, I just walk to the passenger side of the car by instinct.  It’s a trick question anyways.  Do I want to drive?  Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no.  But the real question should be “Do I want to hear you TELL me how to drive??”  HELL NO. It’s like having a human GPS.  You all know exactly what I am talking about.

Slow down.  Speed up.  Turn here.  Park over there.  Do we have to listen to this?  Where are you going?  Why are you going this way?  You know we are not in your car, right?  You know the kids are in the car, right?  Unless she is buried in her phone on Facebook, it’s a human version of GPS without an off switch.  My solution is simple, and for all the fellas out there, I highly recommend it.

“Nope, I’m good.  You can drive.”  Then, GIVE her the key, sit in the passenger seat, hit the air brake with your foot or grab the ‘oh shit’ bar as necessary, and take a lot of deep breaths until you get to your destination.  Trust me, it’s like having your own personal driver, and the ride is way more pleasant for everybody.

Again, please share your questions in the comments section.  Have a great weekend.

 

Summer vacation is over…fun times, hard questions and the penis song…the BULLSHITTERZ blog is back

First of all, welcome back after summer break.  I hope everybody enjoyed their time either with family or friends or even by yourself if that is your thing.  Whether it’s time away on a trip, weekends at the shore, hanging out at a lake, nights at the ball field, double features at the drive in, or even just reading a book for pleasure, summer is a good time to catch up on quality time doing things that are fun.  There is a vibe about summer that I truly enjoy.  Kids stay up late and get to sleep in later in the morning.  I know I love summer because growing up in Pittsburgh, it was the time of year that you could have the top down on the car and actually enjoy the weather outside (in between those summer thunderstorms, of course).

We spent our summers swimming at the pool all day, playing baseball every night, and when we didn’t have games, we were usually at the field watching our friends play.  If we didn’t have games, we all hung out and played kick the can or release until it was time to go home.  Imagine explaining to our kids that the goal of the game was somebody was “it”, and that person had to count to 30 while everyone else hid within a distance of about eight houses.  When the person that was “it” was done counting, they would then have to find everyone one by one, and when they did, they raced back to the can.  If the person who was “it” won the race, the one that was found was now captured.  That meant that somebody else who was hiding had to run and kick the can before “it” could get there to release the captured to go hide again.  It sounds ridiculous, right?  Go hide and don’t move, don’t talk, just sit there until you can get to the can before “it”, and you are the hero of the night.  But if you are found and captured, you sit there until somebody releases you.  We had one kid, Bob Alexander, who I swear may still be under the bushes in front of the Durkin’s house right now.  He would disappear to the point where everybody would just go home and the game was over.  I don’t know where Bob ended up, but he would have made a great spy.

Anyways, fast forward to today, and you have iPads, iPhones, Playstation, Xbox, Wii, and an app for everything.  You have Netflix, Hulu, shows On Demand, everything else DVR’d, and I haven’t even mentioned social media like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Textfree and who knows what else.  It’s harder and harder to just take the quality time and just TALK to each other.  Between working, running the kids around to their activities, and keeping up with each other via our social media networks, it’s tough to get in that 15 minute phone call.  Sometimes, a text back forth will do, and I love those.  It’s a way to connect nowadays, and I encourage you to text someone to “just check in” or “say hello”.  You can text me anytime, and I will return it as promptly as possible, depending what is going on in the ocean of estrogen that I reside in each and every day.  Occasionally, that text will result in a setting up a time to catch up via the phone, FaceTime, or even a meal together.  Anything to get in some quality time.

For us, that is what we did.  We took the summer off from softball, pitching lessons, extra school work, and pretty much got off every routine that we had, and just slowed things down.  With a new baby in the house, it was a perfect time to do that.  The older girls, now 11 and 9, have really become full time babysitters and big sisters who adore their baby sister and do everything for her.  Literally, they feed her, change diapers, play with her, sing and read to her, carry her around, watch the Baby Einstein videos with her, and put her to bed.  No joke, there were a couple nights after Daddy came home from bowling on Saturday night and passed out on the couch with all the kids awake and Mama at work.  That is my long day at work, I go straight to bowling after working 10 hours, have a few beers, throw three games, and it is gonzo time on the couch.  I wake up in a panic at 1am, only to find the girls in their beds, the baby in her crib, and all the lights off in the house.  It is an amazing thing watching these kids grow up, take on responsibility, and truly become more independent, let alone take care of their Daddy after he falls asleep on the couch before they go to bed.

With all of this growing up and constantly trying to find things to do together, we did a few new things in addition to the usual stuff.  We did a drive in movie for the first time as a family.  Note to self, wait until it cools off a little next time, as sitting outside in July in Las Vegas when it is still over 100 degrees is not really that much fun.  We had our first sleepover.  The 11 year old had two of her friends, also 11, sleep over at the house.  So, in addition to my own three girls and wife, I have two more.  They get dropped off on a Sunday at 2pm, it’s 109 outside, and by 5pm, they are out of activities to do in the house, and I am out of my mind.  I say, “Does anyone want to go roller skating?”  It sounded like 10,000 girls at a One Direction concert!!!  I am a hero.  We load up everybody into the minivan and go to Crystal Palace for the session that ends at 7pm.

Much to my surprise, after we get the skates, I come to find out that these two girls have NEVER roller skated before.  Well, at this point, we are not leaving, there is only an hour and a half left in the session, so it’s go time.  I laced up each of their skates one by one and that was a workout in itself.  Off you go, follow my girls around and have fun.  Luckily, it was non stop laughter and fun for them for the entire hour and a half.  From there, it was off to the Red Rock buffet where each kid could pick their own dinner because as most of you know, it is IMPOSSIBLE to figure out where to go eat when you ask everybody’s opinion.  Now, back home, they are looking around at each other with that “what do we do now” look.

As I am known in the ocean of estrogen as the cruise ship director of recreation, where I am the leader of fun and activities in the house, I suggest a game of Yahtzee.  One girl never played, the other only played it on the iPad.  I broke out the dice and the score pads and said this is how we used to play when we were kids.  More laughing, the inevitable sulking when the nine year old gets Yahtzee twice, but a good time had by all.  At this point, I am done.  Off to bed I go, good night girls.  It’s midnight, and they are popping popcorn to watch a movie in the family room, laying on cots we set up along with the couches.

Mama comes upstairs and we pass out.  Not more than an hour later, the nine year old comes up to tell us that one of the girls wants to go home.  Apparently, they have never slept over at anyone’s house other than their grandmother’s, and this is not working for her.  My 11 year old and the other one are asleep, but my 9 year old and the other 11 year old are up.  This is Mama’s department.  She goes down and ends up sleeping on the floor so the friend can fall asleep.  I am upstairs in the king bed enjoying the space and hogging all the covers.  Disaster averted, pancakes and eggs in the morning, and we made memories of our first girls sleepover.

We also took a trip to Tampa, Florida, but that will be a post of it’s own.  The girls were there for 17 days, and I joined them for the last 10.  Yes, you read that right.  I had 6 nights in the house by myself for the first time in 11 years.  I will say this… I know why Superman had his Fortress of Solitude.  Wow.  At one point, I did not get off the couch for a day.  I watched entire baseball games from beginning to end.  I napped at will.  I didn’t go outside for 24 hours.  Don’t tell my girls, but I even left the toilet seat up.  More on that week and trip in another post.

My girls and I also had poker nights, and I taught them how to play the card game 7 and 1/2.  It’s an old Italian card game that we used to play with our grandmother, and it brought back a lot of memories.  We had singing nights, dance shows, fashion shows, gymnastics shows, and hula hoop nights.  We had nights where we ate dinner at 10pm, mornings when we didn’t wake up until 11am, and “Jammy Days” when everybody stayed in their pajamas all day.  We went to the Strip to see the fountains at the Bellagio and even caught the Jabbawockeez show at the Luxor.  We visited aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma in Phoenix for a long weekend.  We did a bunch of stuff, had fun, and spent some serious quality time together.

One of the things that I will treasure from this summer is the quality talks that we had with the kids while spending all this time together.  As they get older, the questions are definitely getting harder.  And, in our house, there is always a why behind the first question, and the standard “because I said so” is a harder sell now.  Mama and I have actually had to go to the computer and google the answer or google how to tell them what they wanted to know.  One of the big ones this year was when we told them that there is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, leprechauns, etc.  Man, the whole house was crying with that one, and a wide range of emotions from anger to sadness ensued.  After everyone calmed down and the reality of it all set in, the nine year old, in true character, hits on it after the lightbulb goes off in her head.  “So, that is why Santa never brought us a puppy, because YOU are Santa and you don’t want a dog in the house!!”  Stone cold busted.

I will leave you with this one final discussion that set me for a loop.  One night, with Mama at work, the baby asleep in her crib, and the 11 year old passed out on the couch, the nine year old and I are watching America’s Got Talent together.  We do this often as a family, and we all “vote” for our favorites and buzz the ones we don’t like.  Near the end of this show, out comes an 84 year old man named Ray Jessel to sing a song.  For those of you who can’t open the link below, here are the lyrics.

The guy looks like Albert Einstein or Doc from Back to the Future, and he sits at the keyboard and in a slow, catchy show tune melody, comes with this:

I met this girl, and she’s just great…this girl I just adore

The problem is, she has much more…than I had bargained for

She’s got that style, she’s got that smile…

She’s got the walk, she’s got the talk…

She’s got that zing, there’s just one thing…

She’s got… a penis (Ba-dump-bump-bump)

She’s got that flair, knows what to wear

She’s got that face, that girl is grace…

She’s got pizazz, too bad she has…

a penis (Ba-dump-bump-bump)

Now there’s always some failure, always some flaw,

Aint that what they call Murphy’s Law…

The male genitalia, that’s where I draw the line…

Besides, hers is bigger than mine…

My life’s a mess, cause under that dress…

She’s got a P-E-N-I-S

BOOM!!!  Funny song, completely unexpected, and I am laughing out loud.  The crowd loved it, the judges loved it, and all gave him a yes vote.  Within five seconds, I get this from across the room:

“Daddy, what is a penis?”

Hmmm…a quick glance to my left, then my right, and finally over my shoulder.  No help anywhere, Mama is at work.  I am on an island.  Beads of sweat instantly form on my forehead.  Stay calm.  Be honest, that is what all the experts say to do when you talk to the kids.  Ok, here goes…

“A penis is a boy’s pee pee.  That is the actual word for it.”  Short, brief, and to the point.  The wheels are turning in her head.  Oh, boy, here comes the follow up.

“But, Daddy, I thought that was called your balls.”  MAN, I might as well be under hot lights in an interrogation room.  Where the hell is this headed?

“No, those are actually called testicles.  Boys have both a penis and testicles.”  She giggles at the word testicles.  I do all I can to not laugh, but it is a funny word.  All the saliva is gone from my mouth.  On the outside, I am calm, but inside, I am in knots.  She is thinking.

“OK, Daddy, if a boy’s pee pee is called a penis and their balls are called what again?”  Testicles.  “OK, testicles.  Sounds like popsicles.”  Yes, yes it does.

“Then what is a girl’s pee pee called?”

IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING??? AM I REALLY HAVING THIS TALK RIGHT NOW?  Just keep it together and answer the question.

“A girl’s pee pee is called a vagina.”  She looks at me like I am no longer speaking English.

“A what Daddy?”  Va-JI-na. “Va what?”  I repeat it again, slower and with more clarity.

“Vagina?”  Yes.  “Vagina, vagina, vagina”  Very good.  PLEASE TELL ME I AM DONE NOW.  I am frozen, looking her right in the eye, willing her to please have mercy on me and say let’s go to bed.  Seconds that felt like minutes pass, I can hear my heart beating through my chest.  And then, it comes:

“Ok, Daddy, I don’t get it.  If boys have a penis and girls have a vagina, how can the girl in the song have a penis??  How is that even possible?”  OMG!!!  WTF!!! HELP ME!!!

Despite wanting to jump up like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men and blurting out “YOU WANT ANSWERS??? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH…”, I jumped up off the couch, turned the TV off and went with:

“C’mon, it’s time for bed.  We’ll watch this again WITH MAMA tomorrow, and we’ll explain it to you TOGETHER.”  BOOM, the blog is BACK.

 

Please share this blog with your friends and anyone else who you think may like the stories.  And please feel free to comment and share your stories as well.  If you want to get each entry via email, sign up for the email updates.  Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

back after a little hiatus…this just in, men are big babies when they are sick

Ok, so first things first…it’s been a month since I have posted anything, and it is the same BULLSHIT…this time, we even had a computer issue thrown in to the usual, hectic, three kids, new baby, both working, frenetic pace life that we have going on here (you know, the same, day to day BULLSHIT you have working at your house).  Who knew, that at some point when you don’t always do the updates on your computer, that what you have just stops working?  Want to watch videos?  Nope.  No warning, just go to youtube and realize you can’t do anything and you can’t download the new viewer because “your operating system is no longer supported.”  OK, thanks.  So, now that we have upgraded first to Snow Leopard, then to Maverick, everything works again, but looks different.  Even the mouse is reversed, where you go down to move up and up to move down.  Oh, yeah, we’ll figure it out, but it is a little bit of a pain in the ass.  Anyways, that’s all I have to say about that.

The wife says, “Why don’t you post from your phone or the laptop?  People want to read what you write, but you aren’t posting anything.”  My answer is simple.  I don’t want to.  The posts are too long to type on my phone, I don’t like the laptop, and I LOVE sitting down in the desk chair, at the desk, and writing in peace.  Unfortunately, the problem for me right now is not the writing, it’s actually GETTING to the damn chair!  Let alone in a lucid, ready to gather thoughts, awake state of mind.  NO BULLSHIT, I am working on it, but I have to get better.  Rant over.

This installment will address a simple truth that most of us know but don’t usually say out loud.  Recently, I have had this simple truth brought back to the forefront in my house after a recent battle with a stomach bug or food poisoning.  Whichever it was, the end result was repeated trips to the bathroom, an involuntary body cleanse of sorts, no food, and a lot of sleep…and nothing else.  I mean NOTHING.  No talking, no helping with the kids, no sitting upright, no leaving the room, nothing.  This happens like once every three years or so, but when it does, it knocks me on my ass.  I called in sick to work, and I called in sick to my job at home.  Forty-eight hour quarantine from the wife and kids, laying in bed, garbage can by the side of the bed, occasional sips of water between trips to the bathroom, etc.  You have all been there, it is no fun.

Two days previous to my spell, we were awakened at 3:30am by what sounded like the running of the bulls in Pamplona.  Instead, it was just the 10 year old sprinting to the bathroom to throw up like she just did a beer bong.  It never ceases to amaze me in the ability of my daughters to jump up from a stone cold sleep to actually make it to the toilet to throw up.  I know my brothers and I never seemed to make it.  My mom cleaned up puke all the time…hell, one time, my brother on the top bunk threw up on me on the bottom bunk, and I didn’t even wake up.  But, my girls get there and hit the target.  The best part is their resiliency.  They just go back to sleep or lay down with an ice pack and it’s over.

Fast forward a couple days, I am at work, it’s almost the end of my day, and I get this horrendous stomach pain.  You know the one.  It’s your stomach’s warning to the rest of your body that you will have to take a shit in two minutes or less, regardless of location.  Home, road, walking, sitting, driving, standing, laying down, even sleeping, this one says “find a bathroom in 120 seconds or less or you will need a new pair of drawers.”  Luckily, I get there, but I can feel that this is the beginning rather than the end.  My insides feel like they are in knots.  Something is happening.  This is more than just the ramifications of eating Taco Bell.

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Everyday that I go to or from work, I have a minimum 30 minute commute each way.  With traffic, or an accident, or a speed trap, it can be an hour or more.  Despite my best efforts to go before I get on the road, I know where the cleanest bathrooms are closest to the freeway on the way home.  Literally, it’s part of the daily thought process.  “Did I go?  Should I go?  I don’t have to go.  Should I try?  Do I have time?  What if there is traffic?”  This BULLSHIT goes on all the time.  I wish it didn’t, but it does.

So, I am getting ready to leave work, feeling like I took the necessary steps to make it home…only, my stomach is tight, my forehead is clammy, and I feel a little light headed.  After a slow walk to the car and an internal debate on whether to take a quick nap before hitting the road, I forge on and get moving.  I have never driven in an official race, but today, I am in a race against my body.  Literally, beads of sweat are forming on my head, yet the car is at 70 degrees with the a/c blowing.  All I can think about is getting home and laying down.  I sent the text to the wife, something along the lines of “hey, on the way home.  Also, stomach is upset and I am not feeling good.  Just giving you a heads up.”

Sending this at 6pm to your wife who has been home with the three kids all day and has to go work the overnight shift in three hours is well-intentioned, but, understandably, not what anyone in her position wants to hear right at that moment.  Especially because we both know what that means.  I am coming home, walking in the door, maybe making a pit stop in the bathroom, then I am laying down.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  It’s gonzo time.  “Kids, leave daddy alone.  He doesn’t feel good.”  Despite dripping with sarcasm, it is a true statement.  And that brings me to this simple truth.

Men are big wusses when we are sick…it’s true.  Right, when we have a sniffle or a cough or a runny nose, we act all tough, go to work, don’t go to the doctor, and “fight through it.”  But, when we are sick, flu sick, throw up sick, diarrhea sick, ACTUALLY sick, we are out like we got hit by Mike Tyson.  The nine year old said it best when she said all I did for almost three days was “sleep and pee out of your butt.”  That was it.  And it was a work week for mama.  Which means that the when she goes to work around 9:30, I am the only adult in the house with the little people.

stay-home

Well, summer vacation really was in full swing up in this mother because the 10 year old and 9 year old were large and in charge.  They could have had Tiesto DJ’ing and a hundred of their closest friends over, and I would have never known.  In the meantime, they did a GREAT job with their 4 month old baby sister.  The infant got put in her crib successfully after being fed each night and was there each morning when mama got home.  She was fed throughout the day, diapers were changed, naps were taken, songs were sung and everyone made it, all unbeknownst and no thanks to me.  I could not move and did not try.  The girls would come in and check on me.  “Daddy, how ya doing?  Are you ok?  Do you need to go to the doctor?”

No, no doctor.  I will be ok soon.  They brought me water.  The little one even brought me one of those cold compress stickers that we use on her and put in gently on my forehead.  The two “kids” were taking care of their daddy AND their little sister while mama was at work or sleeping after work.  I contributed nothing.  Wait, no, one time, I got the baby her binky at 4:15am when I heard her and the kids were sleeping.  Took 10 seconds, and that was it.  Back to bed for me.  I have no idea what the kids ate, if they ate, when they went to sleep, if they slept, what they were watching on TV, if they were talking or texting, who they were talking or texting, etc, etc.  Mama was with them via phone or dropcam, and apparently, everything was under control.

But this is what men do when we are sick, at least me.  Medicate me, but leave me alone to sleep.  And, yes, ladies, we will bitch and whine about it.  No, we don’t do sick like you.  Women are tough.  Every month, you guys have things going on all the time between cramps, feet swelling, bloating, migraines, emotional swings, and that is all just BEFORE the cycle starts.  If men had to do that every month, the world might come to a halt.  No chance.

By Sunday night, the color had returned to my face, the bodily fluids to my stomach, and I was able to actually get up and move around a little.  It didn’t take long for the sarcastic “Oh, are you feeling better today?” question to come.  Like I wanted to get sick and lay in bed for a couple days, all by design.  Like I was taking a weekend in the Hamptons.  On a work week, nevertheless.  Helluva deal I got there, yessiree.  Literally, she is acting like I took a handful of Ambien and said see you on Tuesday.

After I shook my head yes, I get this follow up statement.  “Good.  Glad you are feeling better.  [LONG PAUSE]  Slept for two days straight, on a work week…I think I am going to (finger quotes) get sick for two days so I can sleep for two days.”

BA-DA-BING!!  The BULLSHIT blog is back!!!!

Mother’s Day

Hello all,

I came across this on another blog and wanted to share it with those of you who read mine. Happy Mother’s Day to all Mom’s. We truly couldn’t do it without you.

Oh for the love of...me

My son and I were chatting the other night when I suddenly asked him, “What do you think about when you think about Mother’s Day?”

He’s a man so of course he’s suspicious of my motives.

So I clarify, “I mean…since you were raised in a ‘normal’ house, I want to know what you think about when you know Mother’s Day is coming up.”

I see his shoulders relax.  He thinks about it for a second and then says, “Nothing really.  It’s just a day for us to tell you how much we love you.”

Best.  Answer.  Ever.

I used to dread Mother’s Day.  For me it was a day that I was sure I would disappoint my mother in some form or fashion.  Since nothing I did was ever enough for her, having an entire 24 hour period soley dedicated to the art of disappointing her and not measuring…

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