The Stratos-FEAR

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A number of you left comments on my last post about your various phobias. Your comments were both funny and disturbing at the same time, like watching Jaoquin Phoenix on David Letterman. Just for kicks I posted a poll with my five favorite fears that were mentioned in the comments so that we can identify the person in the NMH community who has the privilege of being vexed with the coolest phobia. So please vote. Unless your greatest fear is completing internet polls, that is, in which case you should probably run away screaming.

Oh, and in case you are interested, the centipede is still at large in our house, laying in wait to pounce from the shadows and attack the Normal Mormon Wife when she puts her guard down. By “her guard” I mean the meat cleaver and nun chucks she has been wielding since the centipede disappeared. I would rate her nun chuck abilities somewhere between Napoleon Dynamite and Bruce Lee at this point. My wife’s got skills, but she is still living with some fear of that evil, lurking centipede.

To eliminate the NMW’s worry I have been half tempted to throw a gummy worm on the floor and pretend it is the murderous centipede. When the NMW enters the room where the gummy worm is laying I would yell, “Look! The centipede!” Then I would attack, smash, mangle, destroy and otherwise pummel the gummy worm/centipede before the NMW got a good glimpse and realized it was a fake. She could then put down the meat cleaver, hang up the nun chucks, and resume living her normal centipede-free life.

I’ve also heard that nothing on earth tastes better than a gummy worm smothered in spousal deception. Mmmmmmm…..deceit-a-licious.

Since my last post I have been reflecting on my insane fear of heights and laughing with the NMW about the one time I tried to man up and conquer my phobia. During the summer of 2002 the NMW and I moved to Las Vegas for my internship between my first and second years of my MBA studies. While we enjoyed our time in Vegas as much as a married Mormon couple with a small baby and no money possibly could, there was one attraction the NMW knew would be off limits:

The Stratosphere.

If you have never heard of the Stratosphere before, it looks like the Seattle Space Needle and is about four million feet high. As if that’s not terrifying enough for a heights wimp like me, it also has two death-defying amusement park rides on the roof. Putting scary rides on top of the Stratosphere is like putting deer antlers on a great white shark. Sure, the shark is even scarier and more dangerous with the antlers, but does he really need them?

Being the life-loving thrill seeker that she is, the NMW really wanted to conquer the Stratosphere before we left Las Vegas. But she also knew the odds of me going up there were as likely as her going on Fear Factor and eating a plate full of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.

Whudd’n’t gonna happen.

But then the Normal Mormon Wife’s birthday rolled around.

Despite my better judgment (read: bladder control) I surprised the NMW by going out on a limb – literally – and taking her to the top of the Stratosphere on her birthday. The NMW was grateful but also shocked that I would confront my fear of heights so head on. “Hey, babe,” I reassured her. “That’s what real manly-men do for the women they love.”

I then discretely slipped on a pair of Depends.

The first sign of trouble was when the Stratosphere employee informed us that it was $5 per person just to take the elevator ride to the top of the building. An unexpected $10 is a lot of money when you are living on student loans. So much for being able to take the NMW out to a nice place for her birthday dinner. You know, a nice place like Arby’s. Thanks a lot, Jerkosphere!

After begrudgingly forking over the $10 we got in and the elevator ascended toward space like Willy Wonka's glassy suicide elevator. Thankfully it stopped before launching us through the roof and into orbit. The doors slid open and as we stepped out of the elevator the NMW saw one of the most beautiful panoramas of her life. The night was dark. The moon was bright. Hundreds of miles of beautiful desert landscape was visible in all directions. The lights of Las Vegas flickered below us like the sparks from a discarded cigarette hitting the pavement. The Normal Mormon Wife loved what she saw.

I, on the other hand, could only see death.

In all honestly, I could not stop envisioning myself falling over the rail and hurtling to my untimely demise. My head started to spin. My knees shook uncontrollably. I nearly vomited.

And then THE JERKOSPHERE - THE ENTIRE BUILDING - STARTED SWAYING IN THE WIND!

That was enough for me. I grabbed the chain link fence behind me, which was as far as possible from the ledge, and held on for dear life. I could not physically make myself let go of that life saving fence. And then – and I’m not ashamed to admit this – I felt a few tears well up and spill down my cheek. It’s not like I was sobbing like David Hasselhoff on America Idol or anything, but tears were definitely shed. And to make matters worse, I couldn’t physically make my hands let go of the chain link to wipe the tears away. I felt so exposed that I thought Nelson Muntz was going to come around the corner and sucker punch me in the gut at any moment.

I was honestly paralyzed with fear. Nothing in my body was working. Except for the muscles that end in “—incter”, that is.

Several minutes and a few Depends later, I finally did come to realize that I would not die. I managed to pry my fingers from the fence and even went on the rides with the NMW. For me, conquering the Stratosphere was like eating a Zero candy bar – I did it once and I will never, ever, ever do it again.

But, hey. That’s what manly-men do for the women they love.

Especially manly-men who hide boxes of Depends in the closet.

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100 Legs of Death

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fears. Phobias. Things that make you want to wet your pants. We all have them. My greatest fear?

Heights. No doubt. I'm a heights wuss. If I had a custom wall quote summarizing my philosophy on life it would read, "If you take me anywhere high, you will get punched in the face." (BTW - you can get this or any other wall quote, wall art, vinyl lettering, etc. from Belvedere Deisgns, a new NMH sponsor.)

But before getting into what the Normal Mormon Wife and I are afraid of, please post some comments outlining your greatest fears. It would be interesting to see what keeps this group up at night. Other than living on the east coast and trying to stay up until 1:00 a.m. to see how the Lakers-Jazz games end, that is. Being an east coast sports fan stinks!

In addition to heights, my top-five list of fears also includes mean dogs with sharp fangs, a murderer unexpectedly grabbing my ankle from under the bed, having a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler, and every person who attended Kearns High School. But none of those four even come close to my insane fear of heights.

I have been terrified of heights for as long as I can remember. This phobia may have started as a small child sitting in the back seat of the family car as my dad would drive us through Little Cottonwood Canyon. Dad thought it was hilarious to veer our Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra toward 100-foot cliffs that were right next to the road, which lacked guardrails. As soon as we were mere inches from plummeting to a horrific, fiery death, my dad would then pretend that he was losing control of the car and we were all goners.

Five family members would laugh at my dad's “I’m gonna kill my whole family” joke. I, on the other hand, would lose control of important bodily functions and then have to pretend for the rest of the day that I spilled lemonade in my lap. You know, stale lemonade that smelled strongly of ammonia.

While I am terrified of heights, they do not bother the Normal Mormon Wife in the least bit. In fact, she seems to enjoy them. The NMW would be up for wholesome recreational activities like a hot air balloon ride, bungee jumping, or skydiving if she were not married to such a pansy. (I bet a manly man like Jack from Lost would take the NMW bungee jumping from a hot air balloon if given the chance. This is why the Normal Mormon Family will never, ever visit Hollywood again. I just can't risk the two of them meeting each other.)

While my fear is heights, the NMW is afraid of bugs. Not small insects that she could easily kill like ants, caterpillars, lady bugs, or Ryan Seacrest. The NMW is afraid of larger, creepier-crawlier bugs like big beetles, grasshoppers, grubs, and man-eating worms. I feel bad that she is afraid of certain insects because you can encounter bugs anytime, anywhere, without being able to prepare yourself for it. It's sort of like running into Suge Knight at the grocery store. At least with a fear of heights I can prepare myself in advance for a drive through the canyon, a visit to the top of a high rise, or being shot out of a circus cannon. Heights never sneak up on you. But bugs? They'll get you when you least expect it.

On Friday morning, the NMW least expected it.

I got a frantic phone call from her that morning as I drove into work. As best I can remember, here is what the 9-1-1 transcript would have looked like:

Me: "G'morning, hot pants."
NMW, sounding panicked: “There is a huge centipede inside our house! Not a small centipede, a HUGE one! It's on the stairs outside our bedroom door. What do I do!!?? How do I kill it?"
Me, sounding like Jack Bauer: "Smash it with a broom!" (Then, after fearing that the broom bristles may be too flimsy to smash the centipede.) "No! Not a broom. Use the Swiffer! It's firmer. Yeah, use the Swiffer!" (I think Jack Bauer has killed at least forty-two terrorists with a Swiffer, right?)
NMW: But won't that just smoosh it into the carpet? I don't want to leave a big mess."
Me: "Oh! I know. Get the bug spray and spray it first. That should stun it so it doesn't move. Then you can kill it easier!" (I'm half tempted to tell her to light a match and hold it up to the nozzle of the aerosol bug spray can and just torch the centipede, but I'd hate to lose the house in a raging inferno over a caterpillar on steroids.)
NMW: I don't think the bug spray would work on it. This isn't an ant or a potato bug. It's a centipede! A CEN-TUH-PEED!"
Me: "Okay, just use a shoe."
NMW: "I can't get my hand that close to that thing! What if it bites me? Centipedes bite hard, don't they?"
Me: "You could put on the big yellow rubber toilet scrubbing gloves if you're afraid it's going to bite you." (I'm pretty sure that by the time the NMW confronts the centipede she will be wearing yellow rubber gloves with a couch cushion duct taped to her chest and a metal spaghetti strainer on her head as a helmet.)
NMW: "I don't know if I can do this! I'm terrified right now."
Me: "Do you need me to come home?" (I'm secretly hoping she says, "Yes, yes, you brave, brave, sexy man! Please, instead of going to work, come home and vanquish the hideous beast!" But....)
NMW: "No, don't come home. I'm getting the broom. I'll call you back."
Me: (Darn it!)

Ten minutes later my phone rings....

Me: "Hello."
NMW: "It's gone."
Me: "What? It's gone?"
NMW: "Yep, it's gone. When I came back up the stairs it was gone. I think it might be hiding in the load of laundry.
Me: "Good. Just take the laundry basket outside."
NMW: "What if I just did the load of laundry with the centipede in it? There no way a centipede could survive both the wash and the dry cycles, right?"
Me: "Yeah, that would definitely kill it." (And some people think the CIA was too rough by water boarding blood-thirsty terrorists at Guantanamo. The CIA's got nothin' on the NMW.)
NMW: "But wouldn't that be too messy? It's all about the mess for me. This thing is HUGE!"
Me: "Hon, I am both worried for and amused by you at the same time."
NMW: "Those are appropriate reactions. I'm taking the laundry outside and hope the centipede will slink away. I'll call you later."

About twelve minutes later my phone rings again....

NMW: "I didn't see it leave the laundry basket. What if it's hiding in our bed?"
Me: "Don't worry about it." (Great. I'm really worried about the NMW at this point. Now that she has imagined the centipede in our bed she will probably be sleeping in the van for the next month. Good thing we have Stow 'N Go seating in the Caravan. What can I say to help her remember that we are only talking about an insect here? Oh! I know! Talk about an axe murderer!) "It's not like an axe murderer is hiding behind every door in the house just waiting to jump out and scare you. It's just a bug. We'll take care of it."
NMW: "I'm not worried about an axe murderer. I'm worried about the CEN-TUH-PEED!"
Me: "You gonna be okay?" (Please, please, please tell me to come home to comfort you!)
NMW: "I guess I'll be okay. I'll call you if I see it again."
Me: (Darn it!)

The NMW never called back. I feel so bad for my awesome wife. Having a centipede on the loose in our house is honestly terrifying for her. I wish I could just find that darn thing and then have some fun with it before getting rid of it. You know, rough it up a little bit. Make it sweat. Make it pay for scaring my wife. Put it in the bird feeder for a few minutes. Dangle it over our sharp, pointy, thorny bushes. Tell it some mean "Yo' mamma....." jokes.

All of this means that we still have a rogue centipede somewhere in our house. I'm pretty sure he's conspiring with the ants, lady bugs and mosquitoes to kill us in our sleep somehow. If the insects end up whacking me tonight, please have my remains cremated and spread along Carolina Beach.

Just don't spread my ashes from anywhere too high.

That would totally freak me out.

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Twilight's Edward: Chivalry, Vocabulary, and Flatulence

Monday, April 20, 2009

My last blog post about women being attracted to Edward from Twilight because he thinks, speaks and feels like a 30-something woman touched a nerve with many of you.

152 nerves as of today, to be exact.

While most of the 152 comments that have poured in thus far understood the humor of my previous post, there were a substantial number of women who got pretty bent out of shape about the whole thing. In fact, I was a little worried that a small group of angry readers were going to track me down and re-enact the dance studio scene from the Twilight movie. I would be James. They would take turns being Alice.

In general, the people who were angry about my opinion about Edward pointed to three main reasons in their attempts to prove that I am stupid, moronic, idiotic, stupid, lame, dimwitted and unfunny.

And stupid.

If I were to blend all of the "I hated this stupid post...." comments together and created a generic, all-inclusive summary it would read like this:

"This is the stupidest bunch of stupid that I have ever read. If you weren't so stupid you would know that Edward was born in 1901 when men respected women!!!!! Not like today when all of you stupid men are stupid!!! Aaarrgh!!! Plus, Edward has lived for OVER 100 YEARS so of course his vocabulary is going to be large, not stupid, like yours!!! And if you were less stupid you would know that VAMPIRES CAN'T FART because they don't eat food!!!

I hate to pick the scab before it fully heals, but those of you who left comments like the one above are wrong. Here is why:

1) The General View of Women in 1901. I think the phrase, "Hey, stupid - Edward was born in 1901 when men treated women with respect!!!" was used in roughly 100 of the comments. Okay, people, I get. Edward was born in 1901. But your conclusions that Edward is a selfless, chivalrous gentleman simply because he was born in 1901 is completely wrong. Men in 1901 did not respect women nearly as much as men do in today's society.

Remember, the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution permitting women to vote was voted down twice by a male-dominated congress before it was finally ratified in 1920. Many school systems implemented "marriage bars" to avoid hiring married women and to fire single women after they got married. The first female elected to the US Senate did not happen until 1930, and I'm pretty sure that she only got elected because she was secretly a sorceress who cast a spell upon the unsuspecting people of Arkansas and was later burned at the stake.

Male discrimination against women was alive and well back in the early 1900's. If Edward retained these male chauvinistic views he would be classified in 2009 as a sexist pig, not a chivalrous gentleman.

Living in the early 1900's would have made Edward's view of women more compatible with Tom Arnold's than with a heroic male Jane Austen-type heartthrob.

2) Vocabulary Adapts - Not Improves - Over Time. A number of commenters also tried to make the point that Edward speaks like a woman because - again - he was born in 1901 when language was allegedly more formal and flowery. I also reject this assumption. You see, a man's vocabulary tends to shift and adapt with the time and popular culture, but not necessarily expand. The fact that Edward still speaks like a woman after 100 years supports my argument.

For example, if a guy was an inarticulate dumb jock in high school he will still probably be one at the 25-year class reunion. The dumb jock will not suddenly be as eloquent as President Obama simply due to the fact that he has lived for 25 additional years. (Now, if he carried a teleprompter with him everywhere he went, that would be a totally different story.)

Also, if Edward thought like a male he would have dumped the flowery early 1900's vocabulary and replaced it with more modern words as time went on. Take me, for example. I was born in 1974 but I do not say "groovy" or"keep on truckin'", which were popular back then. Instead of staying stuck in the '70's I adapted in the '80's to use popular words like "awesome!", "rad!" and "studly!" I then spent most of the 1990's speaking like Beavis and/or Butthead. Thanks to texting, the 2000's have been the decade of the acronym, and I have incorporated them accordingly.If Edward were a more manly-man, he would have adapted as well.

(Side Note: The company I work for uses approximately seventeen million acronyms. My favorite is the acronym for a person in our Specialty Tapes Division who goes out on short-term disability due to a sexually transmitted disease. The acronym? A person in STD went out on STD due to an STD. Classic.)

The fact that Edward still speaks like a lead from Sense and Sensibility instead of allowing his vocabulary to change with the times proves that he prefers to keep things frilly and festive on the inside. This was my point from the beginning.

3) Edward CAN Fart! Okay, the whole "Edward can't fart because vampires don't eat food!" comments cracked me up. Seriously. They killed me. I actually did a little research about flatulence and can assert with complete confidence that Edward - and all vampires, for that matter - can, in fact, break wind. Here is why:

According to Wikipedia, Nitrogen makes up 20%-90% of the gas that is released during flatulence. Edward's diet consists of blood, which contains Nitrogen. Therefore, every time that Edward drinks blood he is ingesting Nitrogen, which will continue to build up in his body until it is somehow released. Edward, therefore, would most likely pass gas in order to release the excess Nitrogen building up within him.

A few of you tried to argue that Edward cannot toot because his internal organs no longer work because they are no longer needed. This is also an incorrect assumption. When Edward bares his chest in the forest and glistens in the sun, you can clearly see that he has two useless body parts - male nipples and a belly button. Since these "useless" body parts were not removed when Edward was changed from human to vampire, I have concluded that his digestive system did not change either.

Wow. I am now the world's foremost expert on vampire flatulence. I bet my mom and dad are proud.

After reading all of your comments, I am still confident that Edward appeals to women because he thinks, feels, and speaks like a female. Some of you will still disagree with me on this, which is fine. But at the end of the day I hope we can agree on one item of Edward's manliness:

He can clear the room with the best of 'em!

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Midnight Sun: Edward Undone!

Monday, April 13, 2009

EUREKA! I finally did it!

Isaac Newton
figured out the Laws of Motion. Einstein taught the world that E=MC2. James Chadwick discovered the neutron. The Fresh Prince taught us that parents just don't understand. And now after months of painstaking research my name can finally be added to the list of people who have solved life's great mysteries.

I HAVE FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHY WOMEN LOVE EDWARD FROM TWILIGHT SO MUCH!

You see, I know hundreds of women between the ages of 14 and 114 who love Edward more than most men love a good NFL Playoff game and a bag of spicy pork rinds combined. After reading all of the Twilight books and watching the DVD - bonus material included - I was still stumped as to why women were so ga-ga over Edward. Sure, I can understand the fact that he is described to be physically beautiful (those are the womens' words, not mine), eternally youthful and loaded with cash. But these qualities only make Edward similar to Ricky Shroeder during the last season of Silver Spoons, yet I do not see any women wearing "Team Ricky" shirts these days.

But most women argue that it is not Edward's hotness or his Scrooge McDuck-esque pile of cash that attracts them to him. Women claim that it what is on the inside that makes Edward the man of their dreams. Most giddy females describe Edward as thoughtful, caring, compassionate, chivalrous and protective. I had always thought that Edward was somewhat controlling and overly possessive of Bella, kind of like the preppy, convertible-driving boyfriend at the beginning of The Goonies. This perception has made it hard for me to understand why women loved the guy so much (Edward, not the guy from The Goonies.)

But then I began to read Midnight Sun.

And after reading the first few pages of Midnight Sun, everything came together. As I read I felt for a moment like Neo when he cracked the code to the matrix and could control everything around him. In short, after reading Midnight Sun I understood precisely why women love Edward so passionately:

Edward speaks, thinks, and feels EXACTLY LIKE A WOMAN!

Okay, all you Twi-hards out there, please put down the pitchforks, burning torches and maps leading to my home. Please hear me out before you leave angry comments or threaten to kill me.

For those of you who are unaware, Midnight Sun was written by Stephenie Meyer to be Edward's first-person version of Twilight. Unfortunately, a partial draft of the book was illegally posted to the internet and distributed around the world before it was ready for wide release. After seeing the tremendous amount of work that went into the publishing of my sister's novel (Bound on Earth) and my brother's book (LDS Why?) I have a better understanding of how much work goes into writing and publishing a book. I honestly feel badly for Stephenie Meyer that Midnight Sun was illegally and prematurely released. You can read her painful account here, and you can also read a draft of Midnight Sun that Stephenie Meyer released by clicking here.

I began reading Midnight Sun to better understand Edward and why women adore him so fanatically. After all, this book is essentially Edward's personal diary of why and how he fell in love with an uncoordinated under-age minor without accidentally killing her or ending up on Dateline: To Catch a Predator.

After reading about ten pages of Edward's innermost thoughts it became painfully obvious to me that Edward thinks and feels exactly like a woman. This is one of the main reasons women adore him so much - they can identify with him. Because, let's face it, in casual social settings women generally prefer to socialize with other women. Conversely, in mixed company men tend to gravitate toward other males who will understand their frustrations with their fantasy sports teams and share in their love of beef jerky and other salty dead animals.

Since Edward is "a hottie" (again, I feel queasy using that word to describe another male) and loaded with cash, the fact that he is in touch with his inner Oprah makes him completely irresistible to women.

The reason that Edward is so in touch with his feminine side probably has to do with the fact that he is written by a woman. No matter how good of a writer Stephenie Meyer may be, she will never be a man. She does not know how we think, eat, sweat, hunt, bond, compete, fight or feel. Stephenie Meyer did the best she could as a non-testosterone producing woman to articulate the thoughts and feelings of the most desirable man on earth.

But the more I read, the more I was wholly convinced that Edward thinks and feels like a 30-something woman. Which, not surprisingly, is precisely what Stephenie Meyer is.

Here are five examples from the first several pages of Midnight Sun that clearly prove my point that Edward's thoughts and emotions have a definite female flair to them. Since I am a man, I also took the liberty of re-writing some of Stephenie Meyer's passages to "manly" it up and make the book more realistic.

Page 1: Bella has just arrived at Forks High School and her new classmates are fawning all over her. Edward can read the thoughts of every student in the school and is annoyed by their fascination with the "new girl."
  • Edward's Words: "The excitement over her arrival was tiresome and predictable - like flashing a shiny object at a child."
  • The Problem: Single men who have never sired a child (i.e. Edward) do not come up with examples involving little kids. Childless males create comparisons consisting of sports, video games, food and cars, but never babies.
  • What a Man Would Really Say: "The excitement over her arrival was tiresome and predictable - like a WWE wrestler who is about to be pinned then miraculously summons the power to lift his shoulder off the mat a millisecond before the final "3!" count.
Page 6: Edward is eavesdropping in on Jessica's thoughts in the cafeteria during lunch on Bella's first day at Forks HS. Edward has to listen to Jessica's jealous thoughts about Eric and Mike being attracted to Bella instead of to her.
  • Edward's Words: "I listened...(as)...Jessica's frivolous internal monologue continued to gush."
  • The Problem: The average adult males uses the words "frivolous", "monologue" and "gush" approximately one time per year. The probability that these three words would be used in the same sentence is as likely as the Cincinnati Bengals drafting somebody without a prison record.
  • What a Man Would Say: "I sort of listened to Jessica thoughts with half of my attention while the rest of my brain plotted Call of Duty strategies. Jessica's thoughts sounded like this - 'blah blah blah Mike blah blah blah Eric blah blah Bella blah blah...'"
Page 9: After seeing Bella for the first time in the cafeteria, Edward goes to class.
  • Edward's Words: "I headed off for my junior level biology class, preparing my mind for tedium. It was doubtful Mr. Banner, a man of no more than average intellect, would manage to pull out anything in his lecture that would surprise someone holding two graduate degrees in medicine."
  • The Problem: Again, Edward uses language that is far too fancy and frilly for a real life male.
  • What a Man Would Say: "I went to my boring biology class. Mr. Banner is stupid. I hate school. I want to light something on fire."
Page 10: Okay, this is the famous scene in biology class when Bella walks toward Edward and an overpowering scent floods the classroom.
  • Edward's Words: "The scent swirled around me again, scattering my thoughts and nearly propelling me out of my seat."
  • The Problem: Can't...type...still...giggling...
  • What a Man Would Say:"I farted." (I mean, come on! Talking about a "swirling scent" that "nearly propelled me out of my seat". I know he's a vampire, but Edward is still a man and subject to clearing a room with bodily odors, right?)
Page 17: As Edward considers devouring Bella like an Arby's Melt and then murdering all of his classmates, he pauses to think of the ramifications this decision would have on his family. Particularly, he thinks of his adopted mother, Esme.
  • Edward's Words: "I didn't have to cause my mother stress, worry...pain. Yes, it would hurt my adopted mother, too. And Esme was so gentle, so tender and soft. Causing someone like Esme pain was truly inexcusable."
  • The Problem: The only thing in their lives that men refer to as "gentle, tender and soft" are menu items at Ruth Chris' Steak House. Not their mothers. And when males are thinking about doing something stupid, they think about how mad their mom is going to be when she finds out, not that their actions would actually cause her pain.
  • What a Man Would Say: "I'm totally eating Bella. My mom is gonna kill me!"
This post is getting too long already, but there were several other examples that I could have used to substantiate my point that Edward is really a thirty-something woman on the inside.

So, men of the world, there is a lesson to be learned here. While none of us can compete with Edward's eternal youth, Adonis-like physique or his Bill Gates pre-recession bank account, we can become a little more refined.

Perhaps we should put down our crossbows and tune into Oprah every now and then. Maybe we should replace our Slim Jim's with salad forks every once in a while. I bet we can use refined words like "quench" and "gush" outside of a sentence that sounds like, "I couldn't quench the blood that was gushing out of hand after I shot it with a nail gun."

In other words, if you want to become the type of man who can compete with Edward - become more like a woman!

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Easter Bunny: Fun Tradition or Satan's Gopher Boy?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Easter week is one of the best of the year. Spring is in the air. Popcorn is popping on the apricot trees. The weather is getting warm enough that tonight I grilled hot dogs on the patio with the kids and none of us even wore a jacket. (Take that, all you snow covered Utahns!)

Because it is Easter we can look forward to sacrament meetings that are focused on the Savior and the hope of eternal life that is offered to each of us through His redeeming sacrifice. I think good sacrament meetings will help pacify some of the LDS North Carolinians who are still a little miffed that General Priesthood was scheduled smack dab in the middle of UNC's Final Four game last Saturday. I couldn't tell if some of the "amen's" at Priesthood session were for the speakers or for the results the UNC-Villanova game being tracked on about a dozen Blackberries in the chapel.

From a food standpoint, Easter is great because Peeps are plentiful in the pantry. The Dollar Store is selling solid chocolate bunnies that weight about six pounds and are covered in that scarey white powdery stuff, but sometimes quantity trumps quality. Unhatched chicken babies are hanging out in the fridge just waiting to be hard boiled, colored, hidden in the back yard, and ultimately be deviled and devoured.

And speaking of the devil......

The downside of Easter week is the awkward uncomfortableness when the topic of the Easter Bunny gets broached in mixed company. There are three different camps that LDS people - especially parents of young children - fall into when discussing the Easter Bunny.

Camp #1 - The Nostalgics: This group of parents loves all of the traditions, stories, nostalgia and excitement of every holiday, Easter included. They want their kids to believe in fictional characters like Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, and The United Nations (oops, that last one just slipped out.) The Nostalgics remember how exciting it was when they were kids laying awake in bed on Christmas Eve thinking that every bump, knock, or creak was really Santa landing his sled on the roof and shimmying down the chimney. These parents know that their children will eventually have to grow up, get acne and work at McDonalds, so they are going to do everything possible to help their children believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. during those magical, wonderful childhood years.

There is a subset of The Nostalgics who want their children to believe in fictional holiday characters so that instead of doing real parenting they can simply scream threats like, "Stop hitting your sister or Santa won't give you anything this year, dang it!" Or, "If you fart in the minivan one more time the Easter Bunny will come up into your bed and attack you in your sleep. He has rabies, you know? His little teeth are pointy and sharp, too. You want that? YOU WANT THAT!!??"

Camp #2 - The Fundamentalists: This group essentially tells their children the truth about Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. during the baby's name and blessing. They go out of their way to make sure that their children are not deceived about the reality - or lack thereof - of these silly "secular" traditions. They rent movies from the library like, Elmo's World: Santa Exposed! and The Veggie Tales Movie : That Dollar Under Your Pillow Came From Dad's Wallet!

There is one plain and simple reason that The Fundamentalists go out of their way to make sure their kids are not fooled by a fat, bearded present deliveryman or chocolate-bearing rodents - they are afraid that when their child finds out the truth about Santa that it will destroy their budding faith in the Almighty. These parents have concluded that one day their children will wake up and say, "If mom and dad lied to us about Santa and the Easter Bunny, then are they must also lying about Heavenly Father! And Joseph Smith! And John Stockton!" The Fundamentalists fear that the day their children learn the truth they will respond by going Goth, dying their hair blue and ditching Primary for underground raves. You will never see a robotic Rudolph with the moving, mechanical head grazing in the Fundamentalists' front yard.

Camp #3 - The Politicians: Just as John Kerry voted for the war before he voted against it, The Politicians do their best to pull a little bit of logic from both The Nostalgics and The Fundamentalists. These parents want their children to believe in Santa, Easter Bunny, etc. because it is a fun part of childhood, but they do not want to lie to their children, either. So The Politicians read books like The Polar Express but never actually say that Santa is real or that the Easter Bunny could attack them in their sleep. They perpetuate the myth, but never actually fully endorse it.

I have a number of smart, loving, wonderful friends and family members who fall into each of these three camps. You probably do, too. So who is right? Please please vote in the poll and post some comments to help me out on this one. Please refrain from bashing or demeaning the groups you disagree with because I would hate to see people get bent out of shape over an Easter blog post.

As for me, I'm a Politician.

In fact, I told the 7-year-old Normal Mormon Boy the truth about the Tooth Fairy a few weeks back after he kept badgering me with questions about her existence. The boy backed me into a corner and I didn't want to lie to him. Since I was coming clean I threw Santa and the Easter Bunny into the conversation as well.

To be honest, a little piece of me as a dad died that day. It made me realize that my son is growing up way too fast and before I know it he is going to be baptized, then morph into an awkward, gangly Deacon, and then ultimately get a super-secret mission call to a predominantly Muslim country that church headquarters will deny ever issuing. We will have to say he is serving in Iowa, but in reality.......

Assuming, of course, that my son still has faith in anything spiritual after learning that I was the one who put two dollars worth of change under his pillow because I had run out of ones.

This whole post turned out to be much more complex than I had originally intended. Please comment with your two cents to help give me some additional perspective.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go destroy a package of Peeps!

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It's March. I'm Mad. Seriously. I'm Mad.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Bad Ideas: Eat yellow snow. Bite the hand that feeds you. Rock the boat. Seek shelter under a tree during a lightening storm. Kick a sleeping dog. Alter the past when you happen to travel back in time.

HORRIBLE Idea: Pick a Final Four consisting of Duke, Louisville, Syracuse and Memphis. Yep, that was my Final Four. Nope, none of them made it that far. In fact, only Louisville advanced beyond the Sweet Sixteen. My bracket this year stunk worse than a group of male high school students four hours after a Taco Bell run.

And to make matters worse, my March Madness stinkiness was on public display for all of you to witness. And mock. I invited all of you to join the NMH March Madness league a few weeks ago and a total of 38 of you decided to fill out a bracket. When it was all said and done, I finished tied with another guy for 35th place. I even had people in the league posting comments like, "Not looking good for the NMH" and, my personal favorite, "The Commissioner Just Got Destroyed!!" Glad I could be there for you fellas, kind of like how a pinata must feel some sort of fulfillment as a 9-year-old with a Louisville Slugger beats the crud out of him as his candy goes spilling all over the pavement.

The only two people who finished below me this year were women, meaning that every other male in the competition beat me.

I am officially turning in my Man Card.

The Normal Mormon Wife won family bragging rights by beating me and the 7-year-old Normal Mormon Boy. The NMB was beating my wife (er, leading? winning? Beating makes it sound like there are domestic issues going on in my family) going into the championship game tonight. If UNC won, the NMW would overtake the NMB. So the Normal Mormon Boy went to bed chanting "Go Michigan State!", but it looks like my genes were too strong for the boy to make a pick that actually turned out well and he lost. The NMW finished in a respectable 12th place while the NMB finished 18th overall. Nice job, babe. I feel like Bobby Riggs congratulating Billy Jean King at the net right now...

Speaking of the Battle of the Sexes, the men soundly beat the women this year (I mean, destroyed? annihilated? vanquished?) by an average score of 99 to 93. We are men. Hear us roar! Except for me. I don't count anymore.

When I set up the NMH March Madness league I also promised to give away certain meaningful basketball cards to the winner, runner-up, and the overall loser. So, everybody, please put your hand together for this years winners. (Unless you are a sore, bitter loser like me. Then please join me in jeering them and putting their email addresses on multiple spam email lists.)

Overall Winner: Manager - JM, Team - Best. Bracket. Ever.
Runner-Up: Manager - Jordan, Team - Watchmaker
Overall Loser: Manager - MGerb, Team - Roosevelt Kinder Teacher

Winners, please email me at nmhusband [at] hotmail [dot] com with your mailing address to claim your prizes. Because there were some ties, I used total first round points to break the tie for the runner-up and lowest first round point total to determine the overall loser.

Thank you all for playing this year. I am planning on making it an annual tradition.

I just hope that next year I can put an (M) next to my name again.

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