The Brain Freeze

Listening is not one of my better qualities….

“Huh? Did you say something? Sorry, I was just telling myself I need to listen more.”

My brain is busy. It got stuff goin on up dere.

In the car, coming back from grocery shopping, my wife was having a conversation with me.

I would nod my head, and say, “uh, huh” at what I thought were the appropriate times by picking out pauses and roughly every 3rd or 9th word she would say.

It’s s complicated system that my busy brain has devised for me to seem interested in what is going on around me. When actually, I am visualizing me riding a full grocery cart down the parking lot. Feet up on the step, wind in my hair, one bad wheel threatening to fall off.


While she is talking, and I’m nodding, and driving, and visualizing my infantile behavior, my brain throws another thing into the mix.

A song starts playing….in my head. I think I am singing it….in my head.

When all of the sudden my wife says,

“What in the world are you mumbling, why are you grooving while you are driving and have you even heard anything I have said since we got into the car?”

My reply…,

“I’m not mumbling…I am reciting the lyrics to ‘Manic Depression’ by the legendary guitarist and artist, Johnny Allen Hendrix, the Voodoo Child, better known as Jimi Hendrix.
And you were just talking about …umm….well…eggs Benedict?….no wait….ummmm….summer tanning…”

I’m starting to get the “wife glare”

If you are married and anything like me….then I am sure you have seen it.

So….i just give her a cheesy smile and go back to singing…

Duh, nuh nuh nuh nuh, duh nuh nuh nuh nuh

“Woman so weary, the sweet cause in vain
You make love, you break love
It’s all the same
When it’s, when it’s over, mama
Music, sweet music
I wish I could caress, caress, caress
Manic depression is a frustrating mess”

At least my terrible rendition got a smile.

After that she quit listening.



The I Told You So Syndrome

Just as the temperature on the thermometer edged over 103 I had an epiphany.

I looked at my wife and said, “I’m going to mow the lawn.”

She looked at me with the concerned wife look and replied, ” It’s too hot to be outside. Why don’t you just relax?”

I pondered her requested and retorted.

” Honey, heat does not affect men the way it does women. That is why we are the grill masters at cookouts. Furthermore, dating back as far as the cavemen, we men have braved the heat
to be the hunters, gathers, providers, and lawn care specialist that have made this world habitable and beautiful. The foliage must be cut back and I am the man to do it. Now stand back, woman, the Lawn King must do his work.”

She curled up on side of her lip, raised her eyebrow, sighed and let me leave the dwelling.

I confidently went the backyard shed to obtain my machine of mowing destruction.

Usually, my 4 dogs are jubilant when I venture to be in their presence. This time, they lay in the shade and don’t approach. After each of them looked at each other for a minute, my precious chihuahua comes up for a little chat.

She says, ” es muy caliente, seƱor.”

I reply, ” are you talking to me?”

She turns to return to the other 3 dogs and says under her breathe,” No. No. Yo no dice nada….pinche loco.”

I return to my quest.

I slide the shed door open and the stale heat hits me. I begin to sweat. No problem. I pull out the mower and start it up and begin to mow.

:15 minutes into it- sweat is getting into my eyes.

:30 minutes in-my shirt and shorts are sticking to me like spandex.

:45 minutes in- my shoes are squishy from the sweat running down my legs into them.

:60 minutes in- my skin feels like it is baking.

I put the mower back. Slide the door shut. Glance at the dogs…..they shake their heads in unison. And begin my trek back inside.

My vision is kind of blurry as I retrace my steps to reach the oasis of air conditioned coolness that lies behind the front door.

My legs are weak.

Is the front door really there? Or is it just a mirage ?

I turn the handle and collapse into a heap onto the tile floor that covers the entry way. I am covered in sweat and grime.

I glance at my wife, who is sitting on the sofa, ice tea in hand ( with an umbrella in it). She glances and says,

“Awfully dramatic, don’t you think? Do I need to say “it”?”

I reply in a gruff, dehydrated dry voice, “No, I will say it. You told me so.”


Stepdad 101


I have heard this a few times in my short tenure as a stepfather. It’s the statement that has stuck with me the most since this journey began. It has affected my judgement, my mood, and my decision making abilities in dealing with the children.

I try to be a positive influence in my stepsons life.

I try to guide him with my experience from growing up.

I try to live up to what I think a stepfather should be.

Sometimes I fall short.

But I keep trying.

I don’t have the experience of raising a child from birth. It wasn’t in the cards for me. There is no “Stepfathering for Dummies” manual on what to do and what not to do. So I do what I do best.

A kind of running with scissors approach.

Trial and error and error and error. Figure it out as I go along. Just when I think I know the answers, I forget the questions.

Back to square one.

It’s frustrating.

But every once in a while there is a breakthrough.

A moment in time where my conscience is at ease. Confirmation that my GPS (good parenting system) is functioning correctly.

Today was one of those times.

July is spend the month with the real Dad time.

He texts and calls his Mom on a regular basis during this time and I get a tell stepdad Hi. I’m used to it.

It was strange to me when I got a text from him at work today. Random what are you doing text but still weird. He doesn’t text me.

Then it happened.

The next text was asking advice about a girl he was seeing and why girls need space.

Instead of using my lightning mental reflexes that would have texted back and said ” girls don’t need space, they need to be IN space “, I paused.

All I texted back was ” girls are weird like that ”

He agreed.

At 9:30 this evening, he called me.

He asked what I thought he should do.

I gave him advice.

He said “Thank you for listening to me.”

It’s the little things that make all the hardships worthwhile.

I may not be his Dad.

But I am the one he is coming to for advice on matters of the heart.

And that makes this old heart feel pretty good.


The 1/2 Deaf Advantage

Did you say something?



You have to talk into my good ear.

These are my basic answers for someone who tries to carry on a conversation with me while standing to the left of me.

I am 80% deaf in that ear. I was not born that way (Lady GaGa reference unintentional). It is cornucopia of mistakes and mishaps that have occurred over the years that caused this.

-knocked out cold by a baseball pitch

-knocked out by a croquet ball

– head banging too close to the mountain of speakers at metal shows during the glorious ’80’s

-being ran over by a car at 2 1/2 years old

-the mosh pit incident

– falling out of trees

-trees falling on me

-me falling off ladders trimming trees

I am a magnet for concussions and the anti-agility leader of the free world.

Not being able to hear has it’s advantages and disadvantages. I will mention the top 3 advantages.

1- I only hear half of the things my wife says. For the other half a simple “Yes Dear” usually works.

2- during meetings, all I have to do is rest my right palm on my chin and slyly place my index finger into my “good” ear to drown out all nonsense. A nod every now and then implies that I am intently listening. All the while I am probably thinking-

“I like cheese. Melted cheese, swiss cheese, nacho cheese, shredded cheese…..”

3-earplugs last twice as long