Wife Beater

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I beat my wife on Saturday. And boy did it feel good!

There was little the Normal Mormon Wife could do to defend herself against my unrelenting, overpowering backhands.

Now before you get the wrong idea, the “backhands” I am referring to are of the Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi variety, not the Ike vs. Tina Turner type. And when I “beat” my wife it was two sets to zero and I was dressed in a tennis outfit, not in a tight white sleeveless t-shirt with dangling gold chains. (Anytime a man refers to his clothing as an “outfit” instead of a “uniform” he loses three points on the Manly Scale. I think this faux pas now places me at -6 after revealing that I cried on the Statosphere.)

(D’oh! Using the phrase “faux paus” is -2 more Manly Scale points. I’m just going to shut up now. )

One of my favorite dates with the NMW is going to our local public tennis court for a highly-competitive mixed singles match. It’s close to home. It’s free. It gets me working up a sweat through physical exercise instead of the way I normally do, which is by eating a bag of Spicy Nachos Doritos with the AC turned off.

Not only is tennis a great date for the NMW and me because it is fast, free and physical, but it also allows us to satisfy our borderline-insane competitive urges. We are both very competitive by nature. The NMW and I lettered in multiple sports in high school and have a little bit of Lisa Simpson DNA that drives us to be measured, graded, ranked, or otherwise told how we stack up. In fact, I was first attracted to the NMW while we played on the same BYU co-ed intramural volleyball team and I saw the way she ran, slid, hustled, dove, and did whatever it took to win.

I am pretty sure the NMW’s elbows and knees were covered in floor burns the first time we kissed. Now that’s HOT in my book!

Another enjoyable aspect about spending our date night at a public tennis court is that the people at the park can be nearly as entertaining as the tennis itself. Some people view tennis as a white-dominated, racially discriminatory sport played by women named Buffy and men who own (not rent) tuxedos or have pocket watches on gold chains.

Well the good people at our public tennis court never got this memo. There are 11 courts at our local public park and we see less people named Buffy or Braxton and a whole lot of folks named B’mengala or Bhavikulativusimphone.

The variety of languages spoken at our tennis court may potentially exceed the number spoken at the tower of Babel. And when they all get talking at the same time the sound is as incomprehensible as Nancy Peolsi explaining her knowledge of enhanced interrogation techniques.

After I finished beating my wife – I mean defeating her 6-4, 3-1 – we took a leisurely stroll to see exactly how ethnically diverse our fellow tennis and/or cheap date enthusiasts were. We walked past all 11 of the courts like a couple of Ward Clerks counting the attendance in sacrament meeting while guessing the nationalities represented at the park. In the end, the tally came out as follows:

-16 Asian
-5 Hispanic
-2 French African
-1 African American
-1 Smokin' Hot White Skinned Half-Mexican Hottie (the NMW)
-Me

We were almost able to leave the park with the “How cool, the NMH is the only non-Hispanic white person here!” post-racial America vibe, but our joy was spoiled when we made it to Court #1. There were two plain old white people playing there. Bummer.

But as we more closely examined the party crashers on Court #1, we thought they looked a little familiar. Then, lo and behold, we recognized them as a young woman in our ward and a young man who had just been baptized earlier that day! The young man still technically was not a member of the Church because his confirmation would not take place until the following day, so we added this to our tally:

-1 Mormon
-1 Half-Mormon (Pending Confirmation)

While most of us at the tennis courts that evening came from different racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds, we all had one thing in common: We were all happy. We were all joking around with our friends. We were all enjoying being outside and hitting fuzzy yellow balls all over the place. The atmosphere was akin to having a Nitrous Oxide leak at a UN meeting.


Outside of the tennis courts there was a group of 12 Middle Eastern kids playing football and they were being supervised by 6 Middle Eastern women. A separate group of 8 Middle Eastern men played soccer while another group of 5 were chatting at a picnic table. At the large field across the parking lot a group of 36 French Africans played a massive game of kickball (I’ve never wanted to be French African so badly in my life as I did in that moment. That game was awesome! Just call me Luc Richard Mbah a Moute from now on and sign me up, baby!)

Our date night tradition after playing tennis is to go to Sonic for drinks and an occasional order of onion rings. And as if our evening had not already been ethnically diverse enough, we were greeted at Sonic by a group of about twenty African Americans riding ninja bikes (Bullet bikes? Death chariots?)

The whole evening was starting to sound like an elaborate set-up to a bad joke:

“What do you get when you mix 2 ½ white Mormons, 25 ethnically diverse tennis players, 30 Middle Easterners, 36 French Africans playing kick ball, and 20 black guys on ninja bikes?”

The true answer to that question is probably too ethnically insensitive to even ponder for more than .007165 seconds, so don’t even try to figure it out.

So here’s the safe answer – You get a fun date.

Oh, and don’t forget the wife beatin’. What could be more fun than that?

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Et Tu, Swine Flu?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

“I’m gonna get you this time, chump,” the Grim Reaper said to me in early April 2009. He was dressed in his obligatory long, black, hooded robe. The Grim Reaper’s face was completely hidden in the dark depths of his hood, but his deadly scythe glistened in his right hand. “I’m gonna kill all of you. All six billion of you! This time I will destroy humanity like the Lakers are going to obliterate the Jazz in the NBA Playoffs!”

“Yeah, right, Reaper,” I said, smirking. “You say the same thing every couple of years. Natural disasters…blah blah blah…global pandemics…yawn…nuclear winters…zzzzzz….” I could tell the Reaper was getting riled as I pretended to fall asleep mid-conversation.

“Hah! You overconfident fool!” The Grim Reaper boldly proclaimed. “This time I am serious! I will destroy humanity as you know it! You will read about my vengeance every time you turn on the TV, listen to the radio or log on to the internet. Millions will die! Hah hah hah! Hah (snort) ha ha (oink) ha ha (snort, oink)!”

“What the….” I said, befuddled. Before the Grim Reaper could react I quickly grabbed his hood and pulled it back, revealing his face.

And the face staring back at me looked a lot like Porky Pig.

“Noooo-ink!” The Grim Reaper yelled, retreating as fast as his cute little hooves could carry him. His funny, curly tail bobbed up and down as he scampered away, making me smile.

And as the Grim Reaper ran off to kill millions of people, I had just one thought:

“Mmmmm….bacon….”

****************************************************
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m already bored of The Swine Flu. Or, as the more PC crowd likes to call it – the H1N1 virus. Within a few weeks the ultra-PC crowd will be calling it the MAVTLCOBTDWNIFITDSDJIYXJ, or the Mexican-American Virus That Legally Crossed Our Borders To Do What Nature Intended For It To Do So Don’t Judge It, You Xenophobic Jerk! Just wait. This will happen.

Over the past several weeks I have built up a mental resistance to any mention of H1N1 on television or the radio. As soon as I hear the words “Swine Flu” my brain immediately tunes it out and starts playing mental re-runs of my favorite Napoleon Dynamite scenes.

Maybe I am being a little too flippant about the whole Swine Flu thing, like when Kip refuses to bring Napoleon some Chapstick to school despite the fact that Napoleon’s lips, “hurt real bad!” Should I be taking H1N1 a little more seriously, like Rex-Kwan-Do takes martial arts? (Sorry, just typing this post has caused me to have about four hundred Napoleon Dynamite flashbacks already.) Please vote in the poll on the right to tell me how you feel.

Look, I know the Swine Flu exists. Real people are getting sick, and unfortunately a small number have even died. My heart goes out to people whose lives have been impacted by this disease and I pray that nobody I know will suffer from it. But I refuse to believe the gloom-and-doom reports from the people who are pumping H1N1 24/7. But, hey, nothing is better for ratings and/or funding like a good crisis, so let’s not waste this one, people.

So why do I find a potential global disaster to be more boring than a Happy Hands recital?

Because every couple of years we are told – pretty convincingly – that the world as we know it is going to end. Here are a few of the bed-wetting predictions that most of us have already lived through:

1968: Overpopulation. Paul Ehrlich writes the book “Population Bomb” and predicts that famines will cause millions of deaths in the 1970’s, that life expectancy in the United States in the 1980’s would drop to 42 years due to the use of pesticides, and the nation’s population would shrink to 22.6 million by 1999. While Ehrlich's population predictions were way off, he did correctly predict Al Franken’s election to the Senate before mankind was destroyed, so he gets credit for that.

1974: Global Cooling. Time Magazine reported that “a growing number of scientists” were concerned about an imminent Ice Age as average global temperatures plummeted by 2.7-degrees Farenheit since the 1940’s. And to scare your chilly little rear ends even more, there were, “no indications of reversing.” As ice, snow and polar winds advanced around the world we were warned by a prominent scientist that, "I don't believe that the world's present population is sustainable if there are more than three years like 1972 in a row." Just like Vanilla Ice, Global Cooling scared a bunch of people for a short period of time and was subsequently replaced by something much more trendy (i.e. Eminem and Global Warming.)

1980’s: Nuclear Winter. I grew up in the 1980’s and learned to both fear and hate the USSR, or the “Commies” as we liked to call them. In fact, calling somebody a “Commie” on the playground were fightin’ words back in my day. We were told repeatedly that at any moment nuclear bombs could start raining down from Moscow. Two of my favorite childhood movies were War Games and Red Dawn, which only made me more terrified of the USSR. (My other favorite movie was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, which taught me to always lock my bike and to never, ever, ever accept a ride from a female truck driver.)

Back in the 1980’s we all needed aspirin just to combat the stress headaches that were caused by the world’s impending destruction.

Just make sure you didn’t take a Tylenol back in 1983. Those would have killed you too, remember?

1999: Y2K. Do you remember how terrified we were that computers would rise up against us in rebellion on 01/01/00? I was about to type a lengthy reminder about the Y2K scare but my computer said it would, “gut me like a fish,” if I attempted any such treason.

2001: Mad Cow Disease. Leading experts warned us that, “more than 100,000 people may die from the disease in the next several decades.” As of 2006, only about 160 people had died from Mad Cow. Conversely, an estimated 597 people died after eating at Jack in the Box last year alone.

2003: SARS. Ian Sample of The Guardian predicted that there could be, “millions dead,” as a result of SARS. He then declared that, “Although the disease is spreading more slowly than the Spanish flu pandemic that killed up to 50 million people in 1918, it is more lethal and may simply take longer to spread.” The only thing more lethal than the Spanish flu is Chuck Norris, not SARS. SARS claimed an estimated 800 victims, mostly in Asia, and not the potential tens of millions we were warned about.

2005: Bird Flu. On Sept 30, 2005 the UN’s World Health Organization estimated between 2 million and 7.4 million people could die from a global influenze pandemic. David Nabarro, senior UN system coordinator for avian and human influenza, then said, “the range of deaths could be anything from 5 to 150 million.” By the end of 2007 only 206 people had died from bird flu, making the UN’s prediction incorrect by nearly one-million to one. But on a more positive note, this is the closest the UN has come to getting anything right this decade, so great job, guys!

And now it’s the Swine Flu that is going to allegedly kill us all. Or not. In the mean time, I’m just going to tune out any H1N1 news until it finally just quietly, unexpectedly goes away.

You know, like the time when Napoleon Dynamite’s grandma got put in the hospital after her four wheeler accident at the sand dunes...

(Sorry, sorry….)

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Happy Mother's Day...To Me?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Would you trade places with your spouse?

I have been asking myself this question for the past several days after the Normal Mormon Wife and I visited Myrtle Beach last week. While we were at the beach I essentially assumed the role of "mom" for three days while the NMW got up early, put on business casual clothes and headed off for a full day's work by attending her continuing education classes.

What in the name of Mr. Mom is going on here?

This Myrtle Beach role reversal was a big change for the NMW and me because she has not really worked outside of the home since our son was born nearly eight years ago. She did work as a temp dental hygienist once a week while I was in grad school, but that's about the extent of her resume since 2001. In fact, we chuckle every time she receives her Social Security statement showing her lifetime earnings and the amount her social security benefit would be. Her statement this year said that she would be entitled to, "A McDonald's Happy Meal Toy" if she began drawing Social Security benefits today.

I am actively encouraging the NMW to claim her Happy Meal toy since Social Security will be nonexistent by the time we are ready to retire. After all, 'tis better to have the High School Musical 3 key chain than no key chain at all.

I am not sure that I have what it takes to trade places with my wife and be a full-time stay-at-home dad. I am a believer that women, as a whole, have been endowed with an innate goodness and an ability to nurture that most men just do not have. While I try to be a patient, caring, and understanding dad, the NMW just has an ability to love that surpasses mine. And I love and respect her for that. I hope our three kids realize how stinkin' lucky they are to have her as their mom.

Here is an example that illustrates how differently the NMW and I nurture our children. Every child in the world between the ages of three and six thinks they need a band-aid every time an object brushes past their skin. It does not matter whether the skin is broken and blood is visible or not - they just need a band-aid! And they won't stop crying until they get one! (The brighter the color, the quicker the tears stop, too.) The NMW handles situations like this in a way that our children feel loved and cared for in the end.

Me? I fantasize about creating my own brand of band-aids to use as an object lesson for my kids to toughen up. I would call them "Manned Aids" or "Whaaaaaa!'nd Aids." The exterior packaging would look exactly like a regular box of band-aids and so would the individual strips inside the box. But when my kids would peel open what they are expecting to be a band-aid, they would actually find manly fortune cookie-type quotes like, "Cowboy Up!", "Suck It Up!", "Walk It Off!", "Man Up!" or any other non-profane cliche that my little league football coaches screamed at me after getting my bell rung.

No band-aid for you unless you nick an artery!

Maybe it's a good thing that I'm working all day while the NMW shoulders most of the responsibility of caring for our home and children.

But then again, sometimes I am a bit envious of my wife's lifestyle. Our oldest son is in 2nd grade and our 5-year-old daughter goes to pre-school three days a week for three hours a day. At times the NMW is home with just our 11-month-old daughter who may either take a nap or just scoot across the floor eating anything and everything within reaching distance.

Seriously. Our daughter has the stomach of a billy goat. Legos? Yummy! Potting soil? Mmmmmm. Paper strips from the shredder? Bon appetite!

Some days I return home late from work after an incredibly busy, stressful or frustrating day and have the obligatory, "So how was your day?" conversation with the NMW. Smiling, she may tell me that she went walking with her friends, then went to the library, then took the kids to the natural science center, and finished her gallivanting about by dropping by the house of one her friends to just chat.

Meanwhile, I may have spent the previous nine hours on back-to-back conference calls planning a major layoff, or being told one of my key projects is being put on hold, or dealing with thorny employee relations issues that have no clear right answer. Sometimes the Mr. Mom thing sounds pretty appealing.

But then there are other days when I have a productive, rewarding, successful day at work only to return home to find out that the kids were difficult all day. They were fighting. Arguing. Talking back. Being ungrateful. Crying. Whining. Rolling their eyes. And amid all of that there was a mountain of laundry that needed to get washed. And then the NMW had to haul all three kids to Wal-Mart, which took an hour and a half. And just as soon as all of the kids are in their car seats ready to leave, one of them announces that their bladder will explode all over the minivan unless they can get to the bathroom in the next five seconds. The trip back to the Wal-Mart bathroom takes another twenty minutes.

In fact, there are a number of days when I count my lucky stars that I am working instead of handling the challenges of being home to handle the constant challenges presented by three young, active, demanding kids.

So, I'll ask the question to you: Would you trade places with your spouse?

While I'm still deciding about what I would do, please post your comments telling me whether or not you would pull the old spousal switch-a-roo. There is also a poll on the right for both both men and women to give their opinions as well.

Please participate. This should be an interesting discussion. It would be particularly interesting to hear from any stay-at-home dads out there who have already made this transition and have a good feel for the challenges and rewards of both roles, so forward this along if you know anybody in that situation.

As for me, I'm going to bed. And at least for now I am happy to let the NMW be the one to wake up before the sun rises to nurse our baby daughter.

Suddenly a few conference calls with corporate don't sound so bad, after all.

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Implants, Drugs, and Happiness at Myrtle Beach

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Normal Mormon Wife is a straight arrow. She lives a very clean, pure, wholesome life. For example, in the twelve years that we have been together I have never heard her swear. And I'm not talking about just the major cuss words that naturally flow from Jerry Sloan's mouth every time it opens. I have never even heard the NMW use any of the "minor" swear words that appear in the scriptures unless she is actually reading the scriptures. In fact, I think she squirms a little when she has to read verses like Mormon 9:4 and would feel more comfortable referring to the "...darned souls in heck" instead of the doctrinally correct scriptural verbiage.

So imagine my shock when my pure, virtuous wife told me that she wanted to take a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to broaden her horizons in three areas:

1) Implants
2) Drugs
3) Happiness

I felt in that moment like Danny Zuko must have felt when Sandy unexpectedly shows up at the Rydell High carnival in skin-tight black leather pants and high heels while puffing on a Virginia Slim. Needless to say, I had chills. And yes, they were multiplying. But no, I did not lose control.

Well, we took the trip to Myrtle Beach and the NMW got what she needed in terms of implants, drugs and happiness. And if those provocative topics are not scandalous enough for you, our weekend also included heavy doses of binge drinking, profanity, and skimpy bikinis.

Ahhhh, you've gotta love South Carolina.

I try to stay away from South Carolina as much as possible because odd things tend to happen to me there. One recent experience in South Carolina ended up with me dealing with hobos and defecating canines. While I am pretty sure that both of these groups have large representation in the South Carolina state senate, I am not used to personally dealing with either of them. The purpose of my last visit to South Carolina was to tell fifty people that they would be losing their jobs because their plant will be shut down later this year. Good times!

So, you must be asking yourself, why would a temple recommending holding happily married mother of three be looking for happiness in implants and drugs at Myrtle Beach?

The answer is simple - she is a dental hygienist. In order for the NMW to keep her license she needs to complete continuing education classes every year. This year a large convention was held at Myrtle Beach where the NMW was able to learn about dental implants, dental anesthesia (read: drugs), and finding professional happiness in the dental office. The whole thing sounded so much more tawdry when taken out of context, didn't it?

I'll get to the binge drinking and bikinis later.

The NMW's convention ran from Thursday through Saturday and since we had already booked a beachfront hotel, I took Thursday and Friday as vacation days from work and went along for the ride.

My part of the bargain sounded pretty fun. While the NMW would be in boring classes from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., I would be able to just kick back with my three kids who are seven years, five years, and eleven months old. We would wake up late, eat mini-Hostess powdered doughnuts for breakfast, drink chocolate milk, watch Disney Channel, lounge at the indoor pool, then hit the beach for a few hours. Sounds great, right?

WRONG!

I did not realize what a terrifying place the beach can be with only one semi-competent parent trying to keep track of all three kids at the same time. Instead of just relaxing at the beach, I had to spend hours on end assessing all of the ways my children could die if I took my eyes off of them for more than seven seconds.

My seven year old son is a decent swimmer, yet he kept taking his boogie board just a little too far into the ocean for my liking. Every five seconds I was looking for him to make sure he wasn't drowning. I just knew that at any given moment I would have to spring into action like a hunky Baywatch lifeguard and rescue my son. Assuming, of course, that hunky Baywatch lifeguards also have farmer tans, flabby stomachs and herniated discs in their lower backs.

My five year old daughter cannot swim so we bought her a life jacket. Every minute she spent in the water the tide would push her about fifty feet away from my spot on the beach. I was terrified that she would end up losing sight of me and getting lost somewhere on the beach. Or worse, kidnapped. And believe me, there were a fair number of shady looking men who probably drove "kidnapper vans" (you know, 1970's model, no windows, shag carpeting, rusted mufflers, public library bumper stickers, etc.) and were just waiting for me to turn my head so that they could pounce and kidnap my daughter.

At one point I literally had to force my eyes to work independently of each other like a chameleon so that I could simultaneously watch my nearly-drowning son and my nearly-kidnapped daughter.

Oh, yeah, and then there was my 11-month-old girl. At the same time I was watching the older kids I also had to make sure that my baby girl didn't get sunburned. Or eat sand. Or put sea shells in her mouth. Or poop her swim diaper. Or get dehydrated. Or get run over by the hunky lifeguards on their ATV's.

Then, to top it all off, we found out that it was national college fraternity/sorority week! And, as luck would have it, a horde or drunken college students decided to set up shop about six feet from my spot on the beach. After observing their behavior for about thirty seconds I concluded that there were five requirements to get into their fraternities/sororities:

1) Get drunk.
2) Use the "F-word" in new and creative ways.
3) Scream "WOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOO!!!!!" at the top of your lungs and run head first into the waves.
4) Get even drunker.
5) Men must wear swim trunks that show the cracks of their rear ends; ladies must wear bikinis the size of baby wipes.

In addition to the perils of drowning, kidnapping, sunburns and sand eating, I now had to worry that my children would return home talking like Andrew Dice Clay. Or, worse yet, using the real words for "darn" and "heck" when we read the scriptures.

And just when I thought things could not possibly get any worse, the sorority bikini squad attacked me.

Well, not me, exactly, unless attractive twenty-year-old female coeds are attracted to married guys in their mid-thirties with three kids, a farmer tan, a flabby stomach and a bad back. No, they were in love with my adorable 11-month-old daughter and they, "just had to come over and say 'hi' to her! (Giggle, giggle!)"

The bikini squad consisted of four young ladies who, as the scriptures might say, were "very fair" and "woreth smalleth bikinieth." I am pretty sure that they were also mincing and making a tinkling with their feet, but I was too afraid to look closely enough to verify that statement. Being surrounded by four intoxicated, scantily clad, extremely excited young women at Myrtle Beach while my wife was nowhere to be seen was one of the most awkward moments of my adult life. I was half-tempted to get up and flee like Joseph before Potiphar's wife, but guys with herniated discs are not quite as nimble as Joseph. My version of fleeing right now is probably similar to that of a walrus making his way from the beach to the ocean. Only I have to grunt more often than the walrus does.

My only option was to blush like a tomato and engage the bikini squad in conversation until they left. Or passed out due to alcohol poisoning. Whatever. We spoke for about three minutes before they moved on to flirt with a boy named "C.J.", who was apparently childless, had an even tan, sported six pack abs, and appeared to have a fully-functional back.

As soon as the bikini squad left I realized that I had taken my eyes off of my seven and five year old kids! I quickly scanned the beach and ocean and did not see either of my children. I immediately started thinking of ways to explain to the NMW just exactly how I lost two of our three children at the beach:

"Well, hon, the funniest thing happened. You see those four nice looking, young, slightly drunk girls in the bikinis over there? Well, the five of us got to talking on the beach for a while...."

Oh, man, I was dead!

Then, fortunately, I saw the Normal Mormon Boy's head pop up from behind a small wave. I then located my five-year-old daughter building sand castles several feet up the beach from where she had been playing earlier. Plus, my infant daughter had still not gone #2 in her swim diaper. We were all alive. Life was good.

Instead of continuing to press my luck at the Death Hole - I mean Myrtle Beach - I grabbed my kids as quickly as humanly possible and told them we were spending the rest of the day in the hotel room watching a marathon of The Suite Life of Zach and Cody on the Disney Channel. Since we do not have cable at home the kids were all for it.

And I am proud to report that I got my kids away from the frat boys before either of them picked up any creative ways to drop an F-bomb. Yep, they are still a couple of straight arrows.

Just like their mom.

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