Friday, June 19, 2009

Aging in Dog Years

The other night some disrespectful young women called me something behind my back that really hurt me. Now I’m not really the sensitive type, I’ve been insulted many times during my life and as a football referee I’m used to being called names--sometime by hundreds of people in unison. But even I, calloused as I am, think there are insults that should remain un-hurled, words left unsaid and thoughts unspoken.

It’s been almost a week since I was grievously disparaged and yet it still hurts—I just can’t seem to get over it. If you’ve read this far I bet you’re wondering what this girl said that so badly wounded someone like me whom my wife thinks has all the sensitivity of an elephant. Well, the pain is still fresh so I’m a little reluctant to write the word, especially in a family friendly forum such as this. However, at risk of censure from the FCC I’ll tell you what she called me, it was “Dad”.

Dad? Isn’t that an honorific, a term of endearment, a sign of affection? Of course it is--in the right context. The right context is when your son says “Dad, I love you”. The wrong context is when some insolent girl at the theatre says to your wife “your dad came to see you tonight”. So there’s no confusion, my wife’s dad passed away years ago (Bless his heart) and so she was referring to ME, the spouse!

Sure, maybe I’m a year or two older than my wife (OK, maybe it’s five or six) and even if she were “29”, I’m not in any universe old enough to be her father. (OK, OK she’s making me disclose that it’s “exactly 8.33 years older”). But even at exactly 8.33 years, we’re still members of the same generation, so unless I’ve aged in dog years I couldn’t possibly look like her “dad”.

In the 5,670 days we’ve been blissfully married, my wife and I have pretty much done everything together—making it logical to assume that we’ve aged at about the same pace and would look equally older. Of course, over the years a few minor physical differences have arisen that may account for some variance in "age-appearance" (I’ve lost hair, gained weight and added wrinkles) but I think that these fall safely within the margin of error and should be ignored.

Maybe the solution to the problem lies in the traditional remedy for middle age--a bright red convertible. With a car like that, everyone will think the hot brunette sitting next to me really IS my wife—and then they’ll feel badly that she married someone old enough to be her dad!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Foul Free Food

If someone comes to my door and tells me they’ve brought free food, it doesn't matter if it's a take-n-bake pizza, a brick of frozen Costco lasagna or a seven-course gourmet meal served on the best china--I have the same exact reaction; “Free food!!” Oh yeah, and gratitude.

Assuming the food wasn’t fashioned from road-kill or one of the neighbor’s terriers I’m pretty happy with the thought that nourishment appeared, on its own, at my house. When this food arrives, I’m going to over-indulge, undo the top button of my pants and watch TV. I think that most guys share my same sentiment towards “free food”.

So friends, what could go wrong with the concept of free food? We’ll let’s say your neighbor is grief-stricken because her darling terrier (the one that treats your lawn as a litter box) or her Great Aunt Mabel, "passed". The woman is inconsolable. To assuage her grief the neighborhood women’s cabal offers to bring meals to the mourning family. Inevitably, one of the meals is assigned to your spouse. Suddenly worry and “what ifs” arrive and free food becomes foul.

Your spouse will worry that the food she serves you (lasagna bricks and take-n-bake pizzas) won’t be good enough for the neighbor. Their free meal also has to include salad, home-made bread, dessert (you don’t get any because you’re dieting) and a beverage; otherwise “it just wouldn’t be a meal.” She worries the hand rolled sole fillets topped with seasoned scallops and crabmeat she made will be dry or cause an allergic reaction in one of the neighbor kids. She agonizes over timing the delivery to ensure the food arrives piping hot and frets that Glad-Ware won't be as acceptable as the traditional Tupperware.

Finally, the appointed day arrives and your kitchen is filled with baking, basting and broiling. Your wife makes two extra trips to grocery store to acquire the just the right herbs and fresh vegetables (“after all, it wouldn’t be a meal . . .”). Finally, the meal is prepared and packaged for delivery. Anxiously you set your own table because you think you’ll soon be feasting on sole fillets, scallops, crabmeat, fresh bread and maybe if you’re lucky, some dessert.

You help your wife load ALL the food into the car so she can "Danica Patrick" hot and fresh to the neighbors. Suddenly you realize there aren’t any sole fillets, scallops, crabmeat, fresh breads or desserts left for you—just dirty pots and pans. And worse, since your wife is exhausted from slaving in the kitchen all day, your chances for getting some “compassionate service” of your own vanished with your dinner. Dejectedly you break out the mini-wheats, curse “free food” and the neighbor’s stupid dog.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Don't Try and Make Me Good--Just Shoot Me!

I have an important new Church calling that carries with it a nearly sacred responsibility. As my mother reads this she’s thinking; “It’s about time.” On the other hand, my siblings are wondering if the guy who used to eat oranges to make his saliva sticky and then sit on their chests to see how long a spittle string could get before breaking off on their face, is worthy of any calling—ever.

But it’s too late, the task is mine to magnify and I intend to do my best. When the position first became available I felt a little guilty for aspiring to hold such an important position but my carnal nature took over and I knew that I had to have this assignment. No one could do it as well as me. After all, I’ve spent over 40 years developing the skills that made me the best choice for the job.

What is this almost important assignment that I’ve been entrusted with? It’s Elder’s Quorum Timekeeper. I know that it may not sound as impressive as Sunday School President, but it’s still important. My responsibility it to make sure that Priesthood meeting ends on time, and I intend to magnify the heck out of this calling. If I live right and keep the big commandments, maybe we can even end early—oh the blessings!

You may wonder what makes this calling so dang important? It’s important because the least of the Saints (me) can only tolerate so much preaching. After I’ve reached 10,800 seconds of Sabbath preaching I need to see some sports on TV. After three hours in the pew, to paraphrase Bro. Kimball, “Don’t try and make me good, just shoot me.” That’s J. Golden, not Spencer W.

When I’m teaching (a mistake that someone regrets monthly) it’s easy to magnify my calling. I just look at my watch a lot and then say; “Well, that’s all I have unless someone wants to bear their testimony about the principle we’ve studied today.” After a few moments of gaze avoidance, we have a prayer and go home—on time.

The tricky part of ending a meeting on time comes when someone adulterously enamored of their own wit and wisdom is teaching (you know who you are—no, no you don’t). Trying to get one of these guys to stop on time is like trying to keep bees from honey, gum from the hair of a three-year-old or girls from a mission homecoming. It’s dang near impossible. However, I have developed some techniques that may work in your own ward.

First and easiest is the watch glance. Start subtly five minutes before the meeting is scheduled to end and escalate every minute thereafter. Some theatre training will come in useful here as the fifth time requires a shirt-sleeve roll-up, full arm extension, and watch to the eyeball salute. That usually works.

If the watch glance has failed several weeks in a row you need to escalate to tactics like talking to you neighbor as if the meeting had ended, calling your wife on the phone to discuss dinner, or my personal favorite, praying. Praying? Yes, prayer. Within my three-hour learning tolerance I learned about the efficacy of prayer. Here’s how it works; once time is up, raise your hand as if you’re asking a question. When acknowledged, rise and offer the benediction. I guarantee a punctual meeting ending.

I learned this tatic in college. In this particular congregation the monthly testimony meeting routinely ran 30-45 minutes long. Undoubtedly there were some in the congregation who thought it was spiritually spectacular to run that much past the scheduled conclusion—Needless to say, I wasn’t one of them (can you say Telestial material?). One Sunday I had been asked to offer the benediction and so at 30 minutes past time I got in the testimony line determined to instead offer the benediction and hastily depart. Unfortunately, no one got in line after me and so I waited for the hymn.

The Bishop is probably still wondering why I got in line so early if I was only offering the prayer. I never told him why, but I’d have done it. After all, there were sports on TV and I was over quota.