Saturday, April 23, 2011

When Jokes go Wrong

I’ve always been a bit of a practical joker which is probably one of the reasons my parents used to send me away during the summers. They needed a break. Plus there were some unfounded rumors from my untrustworthy siblings about me picking on them. One summer I got sent to the Teton Boys Ranch in Idaho. The next summer I got sent to Fresno California. Sadly for my parents, I was never “cured” of the desire to tease (my mother uses the word “torment”) others.

One of my favorite jokes is to take a plastic spider and tuck it behind the toilet paper. When someone pulls on the roll, a life-like spider unexpectedly appears at the top. Another goodie is hiding a plastic cockroach among the clean dishes. There’s nothing better than the expression on a family members’ face when they reach up into the cupboard and pull down a cereal bowl containing a life-like plastic cockroach. I think my wife finally tired of that joke and threw the cockroach into the garbage.

One time at a family reunion I paid a nephew twenty-five cents to climb under the picnic table with a pin and pop a water balloon my cousin had carefully saved on her lap. At work a couple of years ago, I took four pairs of shoes and pants and “occupied” all the stalls in one of the bathrooms. All day long people came in, saw that all the stalls were full and went to find a less popular bathroom.

I can’t help myself.

Sadly for my long-suffering wife, it’s hereditary. Our son loves April Fools’ Day. This year he actually set his alarm and got up at midnight to set up his pranks. When I got up there was Saran wrap across the hallway and my keys were tied to a string in the fridge. Since my son was still asleep I decided I’d prank him back. I decided the old “Kool-Aid in the shower head” trick would work. No Kool-Aid. Looking through the pantry I discovered some reddish bouillon cubes labeled “Chipolte.” Perfect, I thought.

In my defense, I’m not a food connoisseur. I’m just as likely to make a random selection from the restaurant menu as I am to read it and carefully make an informed selection. I figured “Chipotle” was a brand name or something like Mexican Allspice. Things quickly went downhill.

I removed the shower-head, jammed the cube inside, screwed it back onto the pipe and waited for the fun to begin. Let’s just say some things don’t work out as planned. Our son got out of bed, climbed into the shower, turned it on . . . and when no water appeared he LOOKED directly into the shower head. At that precise moment, water laced with dried JalapeƱo peppers (yea, now I know) squirted directly into his eyes.

I expected cries of “oh gross”, not screams of pain. Getting pepper in your eyes causes tears, pain, and temporary blindness and it takes a while to wash out. At this point I wasn’t feeling so great about my joke. My wife was ready to kill me, my son was lying on the floor of the shower screaming in pain and I was looking for a place to hide. We washed his eyes out with warm water and milk (because that’s what it says on the internet) until he was able to see again, which took about 15 minutes.

When we finally got his eyes to quit burning and fed him breakfast he was quite late for school. I wrote a note asking his tardiness to be excused. I wrote something about an unfortunate accident in the home which caused pepper to get in his eyes. My wife wrote a rebuttal on the other side of the note. I think it said “call family services and report my husband.”

I learned several lessons from this unfortunate accident:
1) Google the word “chipotle” before using it in the shower
2) Stick with plastic spiders and cockroaches

On the bright side; apparently Chipotle powder dissolves hard water deposits from shower heads (just don’t look at it while it’s working).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Talking About Sex

During the course of my life I’ve faced many scary situations (car accidents, climbing mishaps, diaper changes, etc.) none were as terrifying as “the sex talk.” You see, a couple of years ago my wife decided that it was time for my son to learn about the birds and the bees. Bravely, she delegated this task to me. I tried to handle it like my own father and leave the state on a “business trip.” My boss didn’t think the reason “afraid to talk to my own son about sex” added much value to the company.

I looked back on my own experience and grew even more anxious. I seem to remember Dad was hiding out at one of his desert mining claims and so Mom took on the chore. I was invited into a room where we were alone. Mom had purchased a series of books from Time-Life that explained about the birds and bees. Mom and I went over the books together. Looking back, all I remember about the talk was Mom pointing to my privates every time they were mentioned in the book. I already knew where my privates were and the pointing was pretty humiliating. I can’t imagine Mom was having much fun at the time either (I do give her an “A” for effort). One thing I knew was that during the talk with my son there would not be any pointing.

My wife’s own experience was even worse than mine. One day a free sample of a feminine hygiene product came in the mail. Her mother tossed it to her and said; “Here, you’re going to need this.” End of talk. Brief and to the point, I liked the idea.

I decided an approach somewhere in the middle of the two experiences would be best. I settled on procrastination. A man-to-man talk after he had a few kids of his own would be a good time. Sadly, my wife didn’t think this was a good plan.

I resorted to Plan B, more procrastination. He could learn from Bob in his geography class. Again, this plan didn’t go over very well with the responsible parent. I was getting desperate. To prod me along my wife suggested buying a book. Good plan I thought, my son loves to read, I’ll get him a book. Happily the local bookstore offered just such a book, one practically guaranteeing to “help open doors of communication between parents and children, facilitating their discussion of love, marriage and sex.”

In order to ease the gentle prodding from my wife, I raced down to the local bookstore and purchased a copy of the sex talk book. Luckily I wasn’t stopped for speeding. No police officer would believe the “I’m in a hurry to get to the book store to buy a book about physical growth and maturation so that I can have the sex talk with my son” excuse.

Once the book was purchased the rest of the talk was easy. I lovingly sat my son down on the couch and told him to stay there until he finished reading it. Since the book claims it will “facilitate the open discussion of maturation, love, marriage and sex.” I decided to let the book work it’s magic. I occasionally checked on his progress. Pages were turning and eyes were moving across the page. The “talk” was definitely working. When he finished reading the book, his mother and I asked him if he had any questions for us. He turned bright red and said “no.”

We made him promise that if he had any future questions to come to us and ask. He turned even redder. The book worked. All of his questions had been answered and the doors of communication had been pried open.

Based on my wildly successful parenting in a difficult and embarrassing area I nominated myself for father-of-the-year. Sadly, my wife didn’t second the nomination; she still believes there should have been more father-son talking. Maybe I’ll tell him to read the book again. Of course, I’m still waiting for questions from our son. I have a feeling it will be a while; after all, my Mom is still waiting for my follow-up questions.