Friday, June 29, 2012

The Fire and Works of Love

As this is the weekend before the 4th we wanted you to think back on those summers in your life when stuff meant stuff and the world was wide and open.

There was this girl.  She was the prettiest girl in school and I was her second best friend. We hung out a lot and we laughed and ate Jell-O and colored in coloring books...we were 15 and I loved her.  It was the summer before high school and I knew that September would come and we would fraction off into the churning sea of 10th grade.  I think she knew I loved her, even though I never told her...well, I may have told her every day but I was such a kidder that it never took hold, which is how I got the title "Second Best Friend".  So I had this night planed out, it wasn't quite a date but somehow it ended up that it was just me and her (First Best Friend had another engagement) and we were going to see the fire works for our city's birthday.  I remember getting dressed.  How hard it is to pull of effortlessly put together for a summer night with someone you love but they could never know. Shorts and a button down.  The button down says, "This is more important than a T-Shirt."  the shorts say, "My legs get hot.".  We had planed a rendezvous spot in the park, this was in a time before cell phones and somehow you were just suppose to be where you said you would when you said you would.  Right before I was going to leave my house the phone rang.  She couldn't come. Or rather she couldn't come with me.  Her family had decided they wanted to celebrate our city's birthday together.  Everyone has this exact moment in their lives, trying to be cool in the face of utter disappointment.  Well, she must have heard it in my shuddering voice because she made me a promise,

"You have to go tonight, and somewhere in the crowd I will be there too.  Then we can watch the fireworks together but a part.  And every time you see a blue firework, that will be me thinking of you. And every time you see a red firework that will be you thinking of me."

It was well played.  Even at 15 I was a die hard romantic and was quivering at the small branch of hope that she was offering.  Of course I would go, by myself, and find a seat in the grass and look up to the sky and wait for her thoughts and think of her waiting for mine.

The first firework was giant.  It filled the navy sky over both our heads. As it hung there in the air, a smile of deep and powerful adolescent love smeared across my face.

It was red.

And it was blue. 

Split down the middle.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lake Bingo

As Patrick mentioned, I am vacationing at the lake this week. We go every year with my wife’s family and spend a week trying to get our kids to leave us alone and play on the beach (which the usually oblige us in doing) so that we can sit in the shade under a big tree and read. It’s glorious and my perfect vacation:  very little on the agenda and lots of time to plow through several books. We’ve been here since Friday and I started book number 7 this morning. 
We manage to squeeze in a few boat rides here and there, build a sand castle or two and make a few trips into town for a milkshake now and then, but the vacation is decidedly low key. 
We’ve been doing it for so many years, that we have fallen into some pretty entrenched patterns. You know, those things you do every year that almost become traditions. We joke that we should make a bingo card of it. They are not traditions, per say because they are not things that we plan to do. They are just part of what seems to happen every year. If we did make a bingo card, here is what would be included on it:
  • On the first night, after a day of packing and a long drive in the car, my kids are always grouchy and on edge. Inevitably, I completely lose my shizzle and scream and yell at them and say we are just going to go home and vow that next year we just won’t come because my kids can’t handle a vacation. It’s usually really embarrassing (this year being no exception) and my sister in law then makes fun of me for it later. By the next day we are all better rested and all is well.
  • Every year, my brother in law ignores warnings to put on sun screen and gets totally burned the first day. Of course, he is one of those people who burns one day and it turns into a tan the next, so it is just one afternoon of misery.
  • There is a little mini-golf course on property that is lame and in disrepair and ridiculous, but my youngest son is obsessed with it and has been since he could walk. One year he would wake up every morning at 7am and cry until we took him (which I am sure helped usher in my melt down that year.) We made a deal that we would go at 10am and now every year, every day we go mini golfing at 10am. The other kids have all lost interest over the years, but he and I still head over every morning. It get’s me a chance to get my Diet Coke, so I can live with it.
  • My wife makes me a turkey sandwich with cheese for lunch every day and I always comment that it is my favorite part of the day. If you recall, at home I would scoff at a turkey sandwich. But not at the lake.
  • The kids always do some sort of play or talent show. (That we don’t really want to watch.)
  • I always think I don’t need bug spray when I go out running at night (like maybe this year my blood has become unattractive to mosquitos) and come home with 1.7 million itchy little bites on my legs and arms.
  • I always decide not to shave, because you know, I am on vacation. And I think maybe this year I will grow a manly and awesome beard. And by the third day my bead is looking pathetic (honestly: I’m bald and I can’t grow a beard. What is wrong with my head DNA?) and I shave it off, disgusted. 
I guess that is what make an annual trip like this delightful. The combination of traditions, inevitabilities and familiar patterns that make you feel comfortable and happy, even if they are silly or embarrassing or unnecessary. And an icy cold Diet Coke drunk in the shade while reading the fourth of ten books doesn’t hurt either. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

les jeunes!

I hope you will forgive me if, yet again, I don't come through with a full post on PTA. It's nothing personal. I just spent the day getting nine people from London to Paris with all of their baggage (physical and emotional) and I am ready to hit the hay. Besides, nothing is really grabbing me tonight. I'm not sure if I have anything to say. I love Paris. But you always have to settle into it.

But I will share this video. Because if you haven't seen it, you should. And the song's been stuck in my head since our train pulled into Gare de Nord. Pomplamousse? Ah, oui!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ahh, Summer.

Let me ask you, is there anything better then being in the sun with a clean body of water to cool off in?  I mean really, what is better?  I do love the Spring, when the whole world has been dead and then it slowly wakes and you remember things like: Flowers, Kindness, and Dirt. I also love that first good snow, and it means the Holidays are coming and you remember things like: Fire Places, Seeing your Breath, and Warm Woolen Mittens.  And then in the Fall, that first cold snap and you finally get to pull out your sweaters from under the bed and you get to remember things like: Red and Gold and Purple.  But the Summer... even now Josh is up at a Lake reading book after book like a chain smoker lights her cigarettes, Chris is off exploring streets in London that he hasn't found yet, Ken is waxing one thing or another, and I? Well,  I've been watching The Wonder Years on Netflix. I started with Season 1 Episode 1 and I love it! Winnie Cooper, Fred Savage and the kid that my brothers all told me I looked like during my teenage years:

(I did not wear glasses...however, even I can see a resemblance. )

So, I love it. I love how in most sitcoms that revolve around School, the summer gets cut out; that's of course because the series airs during the school year and takes the summers off, but not The Wonder Years. Each season (and I've made it through four) they pay the correct homage to the Summer months filled with all the lazy days, odd jobs you end up doing, the distance that grows between you and your school friends, and how close you get to the kids on your street. Was there ever a better time in life than Summer Vacation when you were young?

My wife is a Summer Girl. She was born in early August, which sealed her fate.  She was a lifeguard and a diver when she as a teen. She was blonde and tan from May to October only because that is what the sun did to her, it took all her translucence of winter and made her glow. Her favorite holiday is still the 4th of July, though she still finds Christmas a reasonably enjoyable day, and she loves rodeos and fireworks.  There is this scene in Brokeback Mountain (which I'm sure you haven't seen because it's gay) where The Joker goes with his wife, the girl with short hair, to watch the fireworks, and the sky is so big and full of light and the crowd seems so small sitting on the yellow grass, their necks stretched fully to take it all in, and I imagine that's what the inside of my wife looks like.  Like Summer. She wrote about it here  she is an amazing and talented writer so I hope you click over and read it. She is a Doctor after all and you feel fine about reading posts written by five dopy dads, so go on, give it a shot... Here's that link again:

Happy Summer.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wax On, Wax Off

I need everyone to sit down, please. I have some unfortunate news for you, and I think you should brace yourself. My dear friends, I have been diagnosed with folliculitis. That’s right, let it sink in. I know you are in shock, so take just a few minutes to regain your composure. I remember when I found out. It was 1993.

For those not familiar with this particular ailment, folliculitis is a condition where hair follicles are damaged by friction from clothing or shaving, and result in a rash or tiny, ingrown hairs. According to the Interwebs, pseudofolliculitis barbae is a similar disorder, but occurs mainly in black men, where curly beard hairs are cut too short, and curve back into the skin and cause inflammation.

I remember thinking that pseudofolliculitis barbae sounded more like what I had, but despite my vertical leap and ability to lip sync every last word to EnVogue’s “My Lovin’ (Never Gonna Get It),” the dermatologist told me it was plain ol’ folliculitis. I told him, “Whatevs, home slice. Shoo’(t).”

I asked for the cure, and the doctor told me, “Grow a beard.” I was a BYU student at the time, and in case you live in a cave or were born on the Bayou, you may have recently heard that BYU has an Honor Code; and one of the standards is you could only sport a beard on BYU’s campus with proper documentation (read: a Beard Card) and a signed agreement that you clearly understood that you were, in fact, not going to heaven.

For the next couple of months I dabbled in a cornucopia of methods to tame this ailment. One of which, I will now publicly and shamefully disclose: Waxing.

Yep, waxing. My thinking was that if I pulled all the hair out of my neck in the most excruciating method known to man, then I would not have to shave my neck for an extended period of time, and that would give my follicles a much needed vacation from the steel blade that caused them so much irritation. This seemed completely logical to me. Of course this was at a time in my life when a number of techniques or practices that were reckless and possibly illegal seemed “logical” to me.

I brought the kit home from Smith’s, heated up the wax on the stove, and stripped down to a towel, so as to not get wax all over my clothes. I wasn’t sure of the extent to which this could go badly. But I was confident it could at least destroy my clothing and possibly the entire apartment.

I had carefully timed it so that this experiment would be conducted alone, while my three roommates were occupied with an assortment of activities outside of our apartment.

Unfortunately, my roommate and dear friend, Lincoln, unexpectedly came home and walked in on an awkward scene of me in the vanity area, in a towel, slathering hot wax onto my neck.

The apartment and in fact the entire city of Provo, Utah, went silent as Lincoln and I locked eyes. Finally, somewhere in the far end of the county…a dog barked.

“What’cha doin’,” asked Lincoln, carefully, as if he were trying to talk me into letting a hostage go free.

“Just…you know…nuthin’.” I answered, casually putting one hand on my hip and hiding the container of wax behind me with my other hand. Silently praying that he wouldn’t notice the single strip of wax on the right side of my neck, or the fact I was only in a towel. Or that I had an Enya cd playing. And some candles burning.

“Is that wax?” he began his questioning.


Then, with both hands up, as if showing he wasn’t concealing a weapon, “I think you should put that down.”

“It’s too late,” I stood my ground. And turning to face the mirror, “I’ve already started. And I’m doing this.”

“My friend…I don’t think you understand the significant pain this is going to cause you.”

“I’ll be fine,” I snapped back, coating the rest of my neck with heavy, heavy layers of hot wax.

When the wax had hardened (no, of course I hadn’t read the directions) I stepped back up to the mirror to get a good, close look at my neck, and strategize where I could get a firm hold of a corner of wax (no, of course not paper, didn’t you read the part about how I didn’t read the directions?).  I was almost giddy to pull off sheets of wax and hair and folliculitis. And there, by my side, was Lincoln, morbidly anxious to watch the process.

With my right hand, I latched on to the left upper corner of wax on my neck, just below my ear, with a plan to pull a triumphant sheet of wax and hair and folliculitis – and in fact all my problems – diagonally down. I gave it a slight tug just to test its bond to my skin. And that was the precise moment when I realized that I just might be wearing a slab of wax on my neck for the rest of mortality, because it certainly wasn’t going to come off.

“At least I’ll never have to shave again,” I thought. I tugged again, significantly harder this time.


This is what my brain was yelling at me. But on the outside, I was strong enough for a man, even if I was using this stuff that was made for a woman. All Lincoln could see was a single, huge tear well up in my right eye.

“See? It’s fine.” I over-confidently stated. Then, while Lincoln scrutinized, and I successfully kept the tears at bay, I started to painfully, meticulously, agonizingly pull bits, chunks, flecks and even shards – but never sheets – of wax off my neck. It was as if the wax was “white” and my neck was “rice.” They simply refused to be separated without a fight. 

After a long time and a lot of yanking, I finally put my foot down and asked Lincoln to not follow me as I stepped into a hot shower to try to scrape off any wax remains. I got out and checked myself in the mirror again. My neck was florescent red; literally glowing. It was like a beacon. It was the Rudolph of necks, and if Santa had been recruiting, well, I'd be on a much different career path than I am now.

Then, to add insult to red and painful injury, not only was it unsuccessful in postponing the need to shave, but it rendered my neck so raw, it was if I had tried to shave with a dull potato peeler. My ambitious experiment had failed huge.

The remedy I finally settled on, and still utilize to this day, is to shave with an electric razor every other day. This seems to keep the folliculitis at bay. However, on occasion, and usually when I’m listening to RUN DMC, I find my pseudofolliculitis barbae still flares up, yo.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I'm Bert

I read something on the interwebs this week that made me think and filled me with joy. It combined two of my favorite things: judging and classifying people and the Muppets. In Slate, Dahlia Lithwick wrote an article dividing the world into two types of people: Chaos Muppets and Order Muppets.

In her words, "Chaos Muppets are out-of-control, emotional, volatile. They tend toward the blue and fuzzy. They make their way through life in a swirling maelstrom of food crumbs, small flaming objects, and the letter C. Cookie Monster, Ernie, Grover, Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and—paradigmatically—Animal, are all Chaos Muppets." Conversely, Order Muppets, "and I’m thinking about Bert, Scooter, Sam the Eagle, Kermit the Frog, and the blue guy who is perennially harassed by Grover at restaurants (the Order Muppet Everyman)—tend to be neurotic, highly regimented, averse to surprises and may sport monstrously large eyebrows. They sometimes resent the responsibility of the world weighing on their felt shoulders, but they secretly revel in the knowledge that they keep the show running."

I am 100%, died in the felt, true blue, through and through, an Order Muppet. I love order, systems, policies and rules. I love Sam the Eagle. I find Bert charming. Even as a kid, Gonzo made me really uncomfortable. His unpredictability was unnerving. Also, what on earth is he?

My wife is also an Order Muppet, which kind of flies in the face of the supposition of the article that Chaos Muppets tend to partner up with Order Muppets. But perhaps there is some truth to that idea that opposite muppets attract. Look at the most classic of Chaos Muppets like Ms. Piggie. Or Topher. Or Patrick. All of them found their Order Muppets. 

As an Order Muppets, here are some things you can safely say about me:

  • While I don't love my job every day, I will never quit it to "chase my dream"and open a macaroon bakery or move to a villa in Italy. As much as it may sound appealing, I want a steady paycheck, insurance and a robust 401k plan.
  • I will never participate in a flash mob.
  • I will never have a "junk drawer" in my house. Why can't you just decide what you want in that drawer and go for it?!
  • I once got a label maker for Christmas, and loved it.
  • I don't like to go for a run without my iPhone because I feel like if my miles aren't recorded and synced to the cloud that they didn't happen. 
  • I keep track of everything I read on Goodreads.
  • At the launch of the fall TV season, I create a color coded spreadsheet to map out which TV shows will be tivoed on which TV
  • I alphabetize (or colorize) all of my bookshelves.
  • The shirts in my closet are arranged by fabrication, followed by sleeve length, followed by color.
  • There is a drawer in my kitchen labeled "things with blades." 

So what are you? The Swedish Chef? Or Scooter?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

not perfect

Hey friends! I'm still in London. It's almost 2 am here but damned if I'm going to miss my PTA post day. I do not want Patrick's mother, who is my most faithful reader, to be let down. This one is for you, Patrick's mom!

Too bad I have nothing to say that I already haven't said on my London blog. Would it be interesting if I shared some of the things I don't say on my other blog? Cold hard truths? OK! Here's a few.

1. Wednesday is trash day in South Kensington, where I live. And nobody has those special giant roly garbage cans like we have in Utah. So they bag everything up and leave it on the sidewalk! Where it smells and looks awesome.

2. I hardly ever go to Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus anymore. The charm is officially dead. If there ever was any. I hate all the people. It's gross. You know how New Yorkers never go to Time Square? It's like that.

3. I don't make a big deal about English accents because English people think our accents are horrible and I refuse to offer them compliments and fawning they can't reciprocate.

4. Two nights ago an angry drunk man stood on the street below my window screaming obscenities. Like doozies! All the really hard ones. Every time I moved in my room he could somehow see me. He screamed even louder. I wasn't scared because I'm on the third floor. Way, way up. But it freaked me out that he could see me moving behind my curtains. Eventually the police chased him away. At FOUR IN THE MORNING.

5. The least friendly tourists are the French. They move in packs, and they always seem really put out. Don't come to the States, Frenchies! We'll eat you alive.

6. I just really want some ice in my soda. When I ask for ice, I don't want two wan, lonely cubes bobbing around. Don't tell me it's already "chilled." I want you to pack that sucker with ice! I barely want to taste Diet Coke. I want it to be ice with a Diet Coke flavored hint.

7.  I bought some trendy salmon colored trousers because I knew I could safely wear them in a big metropolitan city, but I still caught some people whispering about them on the tube (French)

8. I put some coins in a homeless man's cup and his dog almost bit me.

9. Someone needs to tell me once and for all if I'm supposed to tip waiters. I need a definite answer. Enough see-sawing! Do I tip or not? And if not, why do so many of them give me a blank, puzzled look when I pay?

10. I miss air conditioning and drinking fountains.

I'll stop at 10. London is fantastic, charming, exciting, fun, and wonderful. But all of these things are true. And there are more. Oh, jeez, just wait until I give my report on Paris!!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

100 Stories and Counting.

Welcome back faithful reader, or as we like to call you here at PTA, Mom. Just kidding, we know that there are lots of you who come back day after day, week after week, to get check in with "ya boys" and hopefully get a good story.  And that is what we want, you to come and sit by the glow of your  computer, pop the tab off a cold Diet Coke and settle in to hear a good tale.  This week, this is mine...surprisingly it's sort of like Ken's.

 Scout Camp.

Now if you've been reading awhile you may remember previous posts (this one  this one or this one) where I gently poke fun at the fact that I'm not...what's the word, athletic? Sure. That can be the word: I am not athletic. But this, my friends, is not that post.  You see, there is somewhere deep inside of me an oddly athletic ability and it comes out in perfectly useless places, for example my brother lives on a golf course and was chipping balls from his back yard into the water hazard behind his house (I would call it a pond but this is my athletic post).  Well, I wanted to try so, after all the brothers and their wives and their children and their dogs all either got a safe distance away, behind the sliding glass door, or covered from head to toe in some sort of padding, I was allowed to touch the club.  I took two practice swings and then popped the ball right over the water hazard and on to the green.  It was prefect. But gained me nothing.  Nothing like the time at scout camp.

My finest most athletic hour came at camp Maple Dell when I was 14.  They had this thing called the 'Iron Man' and the year before my little brother had come in second place and it was all anyone in camp was talking about...even though he came in second they seemed to think it was worthy of chatter. So the Iron Man was a three pronged race, Run around the lake, swim across the lake, Canoe back across the lake.  Well, the year before it had been up to one kid to do all three, but this year, for reasons undisclosed to me, they were splitting the race into a relay with three kids taking a different prong.  Well, one kid in our troupe had just finished his Canoeing Merit Badge and another kid was a life guard back home so the only leg of the race up for grabs was the runner.  And I was not up for grabbing. However, an over zealous Assistant Scout Master rallied all the boys down to the lake to have a little race of our own.  Simple: fastest one around the lake would be the runner for our team.  I stayed behind by the camp fire.  It wasn't really my gig, mostly because I used words like gig for sporting events, and also my little brother was sure to win and if he didn't then it would be this other set of brothers, "The Lake Brothers" (Lake was their last name and they were on the track team and we were running around a Lake! So they could not be stopped).  My troupe clamored off toward the lake and then, as if scripted in an after school special, the assistant scout master broke off from the pack, "Hey guys, you keep going.  I'll be there in a minute."  Then he came over to give me the talk. And here's the thing, men who genuinely like sports think that every guy likes sports, and that to be left out of them would be the worst thing in the world.  Where guys like me are happy not to have to join in.  Usually they don't care about guys like me, but every now and then you get a guy who thinks they will take you under his wing and carefully coach you to a love of "The Game".  Like after 14 years of hating sports, after one pep talk from him and I would all of the sudden get it and then be amazing at running...well, he was half right.  I can still remember sitting on a log by the campfire and he was so earnest and truly believed I would enjoy racing my scout-mates around a lake in the dead of summer, if I would just give it a try.  Of course I resisted, but in the end, I had seen too many after school specials to know when it was my turn to look up at him and say, "Okay, coach, let's go for it."

In a mangle of scouts, on the banks of a lake, we waited. My fellow scouts eyed me head to toe, and while there was a look of impression, it was more likely for the scout master that coached me down here to be humiliated.  I was somewhat impressed myself.  And so we lined up.  My little brother saddled up next to me and gave me his own pep talk, "As long as one of those Lake brothers don't win." he said with a smile.  In brother talk that was, "I'm proud of you for stepping so far out of your comfort zone and don't you think those Lake brothers are jerks."  I didn't care about beating my little brother, this was his thing and he could have it, but I did fine a fresh and seething hatred for those Lake boys.

There we stood, in a perfect line, no one giving me a second thought, I could have walked and no one would have cared then something deep awoke inside of me. This sleeping but competitive dragon that only woke when my younger brothers touched the remote control or apparently when running races at scout camp.  And so we ran. Wind rushing, head down, eyes closed, fists white with fury, my feet hardly touching the ground and then I won. It hadn't been my intention, but toward the end it was me and the older Lake and I would not relent, perhaps on the track team he had been told that a 14 year old boy could run so hard his heart would explode out his ears and eye sockets and so he held back, but I had never been told such a thing and so I ran with out restraint and won. And for winning, I had to run again. For some reason I thought everyone would be excited for me, but they were not.  I distinctly remember hearing some kid say, "Yeah, and look at his shoes." They were pea green canvas shoes I had got at the GAP for nine dollars. I loved them and I loved the GAP for finally finishing off my outfit.  The Assistant Scout Master, realizing what he had done, actually gave some sort of, "Sorry guys, but rules are rules and he won so I guess he will be the one who races."

So my part was to run around a lake.  There was this grassy part, then a rocky part up a hill, then on this dirt path into this foresty part, then down a big hill, and then, at the end, a steep grassy hill where you tagged your swimming partner and then you got to be done.  We all lined up for the big race.  I remembered from my earlier race that being on the inside track gave me the inside track. (hilarious) So I elbowed my way to the left, all the way to the left, right up along the lake itself. This was the big race at the end of the week so all the troupes were gathered around the lake (in my mind they have pennant flags and troupe colors and a brass band was playing somewhere but as I think about it now they probably didn't have any of that.). There was, however, a gun shot. (of course there was a gun shot this was Scout Camp) And we were off!  I was feeling great about my "Inside Track" scheme until, that is, the lake started cutting in to my path.  There was a moment, when I ran past my absolutely silent scout troupe, that I was quickly tip toeing on little patches of earth growing like mushroom islands in the lake.  My hands high in the air with my middle finger tip touching my thumb as I ran, my other fingers flexed for balance.  I remember looking over at my entire troupe on the sidelines and they looked like one of those sepia western photographs where the camera took ten hours to take the picture so you had to stand frozen, without a smiles.  It was not heartening.  And so I ran... well first I tip toed and then I ran.  I ran up the rocky part and a past a few kids who lost their footing on the terrain, but once I got on to the dirt path I could see like ten runners a head of me. Then the dragon awoke. And I ran.  I started to feel the colors on my clothes bleed off me and form puddles of slick for the runners behind me.  The skin on my face tightened as the G forces increased. And me and ten other runners ran into the foresty part.  And the dragon spoke, "This is it. After the trees is a huge down hill slope. Whoever is the first to that hill will have gravity as their horse and will win the race.  And so, I lifted my feet off the ground and I flew.  I was passing boys like they were Oldsmobiles in the far right lane. One. Two. Three-four-five.  Six.  Seven-eight. Nine...then there was one. And he was almost to the break in the trees.  I was right behind him when I knew what would happen.  Somehow I knew he was going to fall, and when he did I was ready for it. Right at the moment we shot out of the trees he went down and I jumped.  Like a gazelle over a charging crocodile I jumped out from the trees and back into view of the spectators. Both feet in the air, leaves and branches in my wake.  And for a moment the lake was silent. The birds and the sunshine held their breath. Then I landed. And sound erupted. The dragon was right, I was at a deep pitch downward and all I had to do was hold on and not fall.  My canvas shoes spinning a green blur beneath me.  And far off, from the other side of the lake I could hear people screaming.  Wild and hysterical  screams of those who had lost hope or, rather, never had hope to begin with, seeing, for the first time, there was a chance.  I bled down the hill remembering my last obstacle was the grassy hill sure to be slick and sure to be my down fall.  I planted each foot hard into the sod and bound my way up the hill.  Unbeknownst to me, my partner had come half way down the hill to touch my hand for the pass off.  I ran right past him.  I got to the top of the hill and looked around for him only to find him running up behind me. He slapped my hand and ran like a maniac into the water.

In the end neither the swimmer or the canoe-er were all that apt.  They were average at best, but later, when we were all sitting around the camp fire they told me that when I shot out of those trees, three feet in the air, that no other scout followed me for at least ten seconds.  I had so thoroughly crushed the running competition that mediocre swimming and canoeing were enough to win the race.  Finally, when the canoe touched the other side of the lake, my troupe rushed from their seats screaming like feral cats on fire.  And it's true, they surrounded me and lifted me up on their shoulders chanting our troupe number, "668 668 668!" and, for a moment atop that swarm of scouts, I did genuinely love the game.  The game of winning.                                   

Monday, June 18, 2012

Coming Back to Bite Me

It’s summer, and if you are a young man between the ages of 12 and 16, you are probably getting pretty amped for Scout Camp! Also, if you are a young man between the ages 12 and 16, you are probably not reading this blog. Also, if you are a young man between the ages of 12 and16, there’s a pretty good chance you are not amped for Scout Camp. Let’s keep it real.

Like Chris, I regularly attended Scout Camp in my youth, and, as you might have guessed, there is an unending supply of stories I could share from those impressionable years. Like the time my friend Derek was inside a port-a-potty changing into his swimsuit and knocked his OP shorts – OP! – into the seemingly bottomless pit that was the toilet. Then, terrified of facing his mother without said OP shorts, Derek allowed our Scoutmaster to lower him in – head first, with his feet firmly held by Brother White – to retrieve his shorts. Brothers and sisters, there is nobody on this or any planet I trust enough to do such a thing. Nobody. Not my dad, not Thor, not Mitt Romney, not you. (No offense, everyone I know who thinks I should trust them to do this.)

But for today, kids, I want to talk about an incident when this guy with two thumbs (insert image of me doing the thing where I have my fists up in front of me, pointing my thumbs back at myself) consciously decided to not be an example of the Scout Law. I was neither trustworthy nor loyal, nor courteous nor kind. (In my defense, I was at least brave and clean.)

It was 1987 and my standard camping companion, Steve, and I went to camp as kind of “Mentor Scouts” for the younger boys. We were 16 and not thrilled with going, but truthfully didn’t hate it either. Mostly we were excited about the candy we had purchased at Costco and how we were going to take advantage of the younger scouts by selling it to them at a significant price increase.

On Day 1 of camp our Scout leader came up to Steve and I and asked a favor. “You know I brought my 12-year old nephew, Brandon, with me to our Scout Camp because he missed his own camp earlier this summer,” he started.

“No, we didn’t know that,” we said, “because we are 16 and unless whatever you’re doing directly affects us, we really don’t notice it.” (That’s not what we said, but that’s what was always implied in my mind from around 1985 to 1988.)

“Well,” he started again, “he’s already feeling pretty homesick, and I think if two ‘older Scouts’ took him under their wings, he would really feel pretty cool and it would help take his mind off his family.”

“Sounds ok,” we responded. “Can we interest you in some overpriced Watermelon Blow-Pops?”

So, Brandon moved into our tent. And that was fine. For a while. He didn't make a lot of noise, he fed himself, and we didn't have to clean up after him. As far as homesick 12-year old Scouts went, he was fairly run of the mill.

Then on Thursday we caught wind that little Matthew, another 12-year old Scout, was struggling with a bout of homesickness. As I noted earlier, my radar would not normally have picked up on such a thing, except that Matthew had an older sister, Amy, who was…(hold on, let my get my Thesaurus out)… ‘smokin’ hot.’ I took a poll of everyone my age in my tent, and Steve and I both agreed that Amy was cuter than any sister Brandon could possibly have.  It was time for a change. We approached our Scout Master.

“Thing is,” we began, “your nephew seems completely rehabilitated. I don’t think he’s homesick at all, and maybe he never was. So…it’s time for him to graduate from our tent, so we can make room for Matthew, who is truly suffering.”

Did I feel badly for giving the boot to Brandon so I could hopefully interrogate little Matthew to the point where he would tell me all the many detailed things his sister was looking for in a 16 year old “man”?  I guess the answer would be, “Yes…but only after I realized that little Matthew knew shockingly very little about his sister.”

I actually did recognize that I was acting a bit selfishly, moving around 12-year old boys like chess pieces to benefit only myself. And I felt badly long enough to offer a free bag of M&Ms to Brandon, which for a 16-year old is the equivalent of “throwing money at a situation so it goes away;” technically not against the Scout Law. But what did Old Lady Karma think about this?

Fast forward to 2011. I was chatting on the phone with a friend of mine from my youth. I told her how I’d hunted down my old Scout Master and we’d emailed a few times. “He just finished writing a book!” I told her.

“Oh, yeah. That’s probably because he’s got connections. You know his nephew is Brandon Mull.”

“Brandon Mull? The author of the famous Fablehaven books? THAT’S Brother Davis’ nephew?”


“Ah, crap.”

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing. Well. It’s just that I’ve always wanted to be a published author.”

“Well maybe you could talk to Brandon.”

“I doubt it. When he was 12, I threw him out of my tent at Scout Camp.”

Touche, Karma.

Fast forward another couple of months, my friend DeNae was doing and interview on the Mormon Channel…with Lady Karma.  No. With Brandon Mull! I told her my sad story, and she shared it with Brandon. Then she texted me a photo of them together, along with a note. “Ken, I forgive you. Brandon.”

Isn't he nice? A gentleman and a published author. I think we all learned a very valuable lesson. It just makes your heart…wait…waaaait a second. I’m having a thought, here.  What if that very night I kicked Brandon out of my tent, he consoled himself in his new sleeping quarters by beginning to write Fablehaven? Correct me if I’m wrong…but couldn't I have some royalties coming to me? I mean, if his story has risen from the ashes of a fire that I started… shouldn't I be seeing some of that cash? Could it be that Brandon Mull was holding out on me?

No. Instead, I get a second backhand from Karma. This time it came in the form of an email from my good friend, Eric D. Snider, who unbeknownst to me, is friends with Brandon Mull. Knowing that my son, Garren, is a Fablehaven fan, Eric surprised him with this photo for his birthday.  

I hope that one day Brandon and I can be friends. Then maybe Karma will leave me alone. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dads, Are You an Expert or a Pro?

I always thought the words "expert" and "professional" meant essentially the same thing. This week, I was corrected. We were having a family discussion and my daughter Bella had some questions when the subject of performing arts came up. We discuss this topic from time to time since my wife Amelia works in film, I often work as an actor, and both the kids have shown some interest in it.

The discussion went something like this:

Bella what it meant to be a professional. Amelia said that being a professional means doing something you get paid to do. I confirmed. Aidan said that it means you do something for your job. Bella said something like "Oh, so you're a professional stylist?" to Amelia which she confirmed and then Bella said," So, Dad's a professional actor?" and we said that basically yes I am a professional actor because I frequently get paid to act in commercials, films, and plays. Aidan then replied, "Being an expert is not the same as being a professional." I could see his point because there are many actors, for example, who don't get paid to act but who are very good at what they do. So, I said,"Yes, I have been acting and studying acting a long time and even though acting isn't my day job, I am considered an expert at it." Aidan looked at me. Then he sort of laughed. Then he said,"I mean, you're pretty good, no offense."

According to my 12 year-old, I'm a pro actor but not an expert. He was right about one thing. (Maybe everything?) There is a difference between being a professional and an expert:

Professional - A person engaged or qualified in a profession.
Expert - A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.

I don't see a huge difference but it's there. The interesting thing to me is that, while Aidan seems to think so, I don't see a very wide gap between the two. I don't really see one as being "better" than the other, just different.

So, as I was thinking about Father's Day, I asked myself if I was a pro or an expert dad. I can see a pro dad showing up for their family, learning how to be better, providing for them, and engaging on every level he needs to. Pretty great right? I think you can decide to be a pro dad the day you get married or have a child. 

The expert dad would maybe be someone who has had the time to discover the nuances of being a father. Like what it takes to get the kids to go cheerfully to bed, or when a child needs him or their mother. Maybe the expert is someone who knows every difference between their kids and knows how to make each one feel like a special individual. He knows how to run the family in equal partnership with his spouse. He is humble about all the time he has spent as a dad and rather than proving he knows a lot, he just shows it by how much love he gives to his family. Often we don't notice that the expert dad was even an expert until we become fathers or mothers ourselves. "I mean, I'm pretty good but ..."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Clean House and Kids Who Love Each Other

This is my father, when he was probably about the age I am now. He has way more awesome hair than me, but I too could rock those high-waisted green pants
When I was a kid, any time a gift giving occasion (birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day, etc.) was approaching and we kids asked my mom what she wanted she would always say "I just want a clean house and kids who love each other." And we would always roll our eyes. We just wanted to go and buy something and be done with it! We didn't want to have to clean or get along. So inevitably we would buy her something she didn't really need and then argue in the messy basement that we refused to clean about who had dibs on the TV.

I feel kinda bad about that now. And now I get what my mom was getting at. As a parent, you don't really need a lot of stuff. Sure, I love stuff! I have a whole Amazon wishlist full of stuff that I want. (Also, Father's Day is my 35th birthday. I'm just sayin'.) But that's not what I want to get from my kids. It is really the simple things, like having a clean house, and having kids not scream at each other for large chunks of the day, that would make me really happy. So here, in no particular order, is the list of the simple things that I hope my kids give to me this father's day:

  • When you wake up on my day off at 7am and I am still sleeping, you don't need to come into my bedroom to announce that you are awake and you are going to the bathroom now.
  • When I am in the bathroom, please leave me alone. Why must that moment be when a fight breaks out, or the Wii won't work, or you need to tell me about the new level you just made on Minecraft? Can it wait 5 min, please?
  • Please don't make me cut the crusts of your bread today. I know this is my own failure as a parent that I introduced you to the idea that crusts could be removed. If I could give any advice to new parent's it would be don't ever take the crusts off your children's bread! My children won't even eat the outer edge of a tortilla because they say it is the crust.
  • Let me use the iPad sometimes.
  • No Caillou or Twist (It doesn't go a little something like this) for an entire day.
  • On that note, can we listen to my music in the car? And not The Laurie Berkner Band?
  • Don't make me find your stuff. I rarely know where my own stuff is. I most certainly don't know where Gumdrop the Caterpillar, or the Wii remote or a very specific hot wheels car is.
  • Just love each other. There is nothing better than when your kids get along.
So, Mom, sorry for thinking your gift idea was lame all those many years ago. Once again, you are proven right. And to my Dad who I think might occasionally read this blog, Happy Father's Day. I'm still hoping to someday measure up to being the kind of dad that you are. And I'm jealous of your hair (and your green pants.)

If you were unable to get any material gift ideas from my Amazon wish list, last year I wrote a Father's Day gift guide for Today's Mama. I think there are still some good ideas there. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

since you asked...

I’m excited for the opportunity to express what I want for father’s day publicly, because somehow it’s easier to ask for expensive presents from my wife online than in person. There’s a certain chickenish hesitation I have in asking for pricey items face to face; I need to gear myself up before I do it. A good stiff drink and a pep talk seem to help, but at the end of the day I’m still a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking for an ipad or something. So this is really a great idea, Josh, since it allows me to ask for what I want and then cower under a digital rock while I wait for Lisa to respond.

What I want for father’s day is two new suits. Is that so big of a deal? I’m in London this month and I found a shop on High Street Kensington selling two suits for one; and the suits are really sharp! European tailoring, great fabrics. Bottom line? I gotta have one! Or two. Because it’s a two for one sale. Normally I wouldn’t get all excited about some dumb suits, but since I’m a counselor in the bishopric I am de facto expected to wear suits every Sunday. It’s become, for me, sort of a uniform. And I’ve resolved myself into thinking that the suits I currently have, which are cut and tailored for middle-aged men, are really my only options. If you go to Mr. Mac or Men’s Wearhouse or Jos A Bank you have to settle for these big, bulky suits with boxy jackets and pleated pants. And those are the worst things for gentlemen built like myself: wide shoulders and skinny legs. I wind up looking like a classy butterball turkey, or a clown executive. But what are my options? I hate the way I look in suits, but there’s no choice. Outside the military, no one seems to like wearing uniforms.

But if I had two new suits, suits cut for men who aren’t big inflated blueberries, I think I would be excited to wear them. And I would be more excited for church! And my testimony would continue to strengthen week by week. So everybody wins here, right? But mostly me. I mostly win. And isn’t that what father’s day is all about? Letting dad win? (and also personal salvation?)

So, if you know my wife, drop her a line. Check in to offer your support for two new, crisply tailored suits for her husband who has to be at church sometimes 8 hours on a Sunday. Remind her I'll still have to be gone all that day, but at least she can rest easy in the knowledge that I'll be looking super suave as I count the tithing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Oh Boy.

This week we are tipping our hats to the Dads, to the King Fishers; after all, this is an all-Dad Blog, so why not all get behind our own holiday?  I am the newest new Father of Part Time Authors (you remember my wildly touching and poignant post about adopting Milo... If not, here's a link to one of Chris' posts where he links to it) and so this really is my big Fathers Day!  And yet...I am at a loss.  What more could I ask for?  I am so excited about being a Father to this little boy.  And here's the thing, I didn't think I was ever going to be a dad to a boy.  As a matter of fact, when the adoption agency told us they had a baby for us, the man across the desk told us we were going to have a girl.  And Lindsay and I looked at each other and tears jumped to our eyes and we smiled...another girl, of course. Then the man across the desk said, "No, wait.  It's a boy."  Then the three of us sat silent, waiting to see if he would change his mind again. 

It's not that I didn't want to have a boy; after all, I have the four brothers and we were a band of boys...though they would never let me form a band (it would have been called 'Liv 5ever' )--no, it was never that I didn't want a boy, it was more that boy wouldn't want me as a dad. When I was of age, my parents enrolled me in what was then called "Little. League." Who knows what they call it these days.  So, it ended up that it was baseball. And one of the rules was every boy on the team, at one point or another, had to play.  Both hitting and sitting in the field.  When it was my turn to hit, my "Coach" told me to just stand there and hold the bat.  It really became the pitcher's game at that point.  If he could throw three balls that pleased the man dressed in Tim Burton stripes behind the kid who, for some reason got the fluffiest glove, then I was out.  But if the pitcher tried to hit me or for some other reason displeased the Foot Locker employee, then I got to "Walk." That was my favorite part.  I'm still very good at it.  When it was my turn to stand in the field, then I always stood in "Right Field"...well, I shouldn't say that; I was always in right field but I didn't always stand.  My Mother, who was very supportive (I might add that she should have been, sticking me out in some field all summer long in some Poly Lycra blend uniform deaf to my every protest), set up shop behind the Home Run fence in right field so she could offer her own coaching, "Stand up sweety!"  "Leave the butterfly alone and face the field!"  "Alright, honey, that's your team leaving the field, and it looks like...YOU WON! Nice job, don't forget your brother's mitt."  Sometimes when my mom wasn't there, me and the other team's "Right Field" would just both sit out there on our mitts and swap quips about the jocks.  A jock was driving to the airport and saw a sign that read 'Airport Left', so he turned around and went home.  The last game of the season they told me about something called "All Stars," and  for a moment they almost had me, some group walking around called "All Stars" seemed right up my ally, but then I found out it was MORE baseball...I guess if you were really bad they made you play into the fall for more practice.  I was sure I was on the list but I never checked the list.  After my mom told me the game was done I picked up my brother's mitt and hopped the home run fence and walked my mom home.

I actually have several stories like this one (I once ducked in church basketball because Craig Phillip, for some reason unknown to every single person in the auditorium, passed me the ball.  He threw it so hard that the man in the front row of the bleachers, whom it hit, was rather stunned), but the point is I have now been the Father of a boy for one month, and I love it.  First off, boy diapers are WAY easier to change then girl diapers--did you know there is a direction you must wipe when changing a girl? ...don't ask me what happens if you go the wrong direction, but it's a rule every girl knows about.  But a boy you can go any which way you want to get that poop, no complications, no explosions, just be gentle with that ambassador and you'll be fine. But honestly, I can not wait to raise a son.  I have lots of stuff I can teach him, like the subtle differences between Shipwreck Chic and Homeless Pirate, or to be nice, or that funny and clever is better then good looking and athletic... at least it gets you a hotter wife.  And maybe he will want to play a sport one day (Please, Tennis!) and that'll be just fine...he has six uncles (Lindsay's got a few brothers of her own) that will be more than happy to suit him up in kneehigh socks, white knickers, and shoes with spikes in the bottom and send him out into the hundred degree weather to either have someone throw a ball as hard as they can at him or have someone hit a ball as hard as they can at him.  And you better believe I will be there, and, sorry Mom, but I'll be sitting in the bleachers. That's my son out there, and I've spent enough time of my life in right field...though I won't be sitting on the front row. You never know when some kid is gonna duck.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Very Part Time Authors' Father's Day

I’m sure I don’t need to point out to you that this coming Sunday is our nation’s most treasured holiday, coming in just after Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Halloween, Fourth of July, New Year’s, Groundhog Day (mostly because of the movie), and Free Scoop Day at Ben & Jerry’s…that’s right, Father’s Day!

If you’ve been reading Part Time Authors for a while now, then first of all – thank you! – but more to my point, you’ve probably come to a few conclusions about each of us. Like that Josh loves to cook, Chris stars in commercials, Patrick can beat the crap out of drunk people, Brett is adept at Internet Surfing, and I am lucky to call these gentleman some of my most treasured friends.

But what better way to really get to know somebody then to find out what kind of gifts they prefer to receive?! I ask you, WHAT? Okay, you who suggested a rousing game of Truth or Dare; that’s probably accurate, but this is neither the place nor the appropriate decade.

So this week, each of us at PTA will be sharing with you, our cherished readers, what we want for Father’s Day. And I am going to try with all the strength of my soul to not go with the same answers I have gone with since childhood – 1) A personal machine that prints an unending supply of money and 2) the ability to fly.

Let’s see, I have seven children, so that’s seven gifts, right?

1. I would like to take a Father’s Day nap right here.

2.  I think it would be great to receive, gift-wrapped for Father’s Day, a wildly successful reality TV show starring my family! It could be called Ken & Kate, Plus 8. Though that would require we produce another child. Maybe we could go with Katie & Ken, Plus 7. Think of it! Wouldn't you watch that show?! An LDS family that home births, home schools, and lives in the Caribbean! (We are willing to move.) Think of the controversy! The fish-out-of-water, slice-of-life episodes! The paychecks!

3. A lifetime supply of this deliciousness.
4. A dinner party with my PTA friends, plus the cast of Parks & Rec.

5. To be paid writer; successful in the book publishing industry, as well as Hollywood screenplays, sketch comedy, and Hallmark cards.

6. An all-expense paid, month-long vacation with my family, traveling the world!

7. The ability to fly! (I can't help myself.)

(This is the only quasi-superhero outfit I've recently tried on. It looks an awful lot like a wet-suit.)

So tune in each day and find out what we at PTA are truly searching for this Father's Day. And for the love of heaven, join the party and leave a comment letting us know what you would like as well. Maybe we'll get it for you! (Probably not, though. I have a feeling that the other guys have already blown our annual budget by flying in the cast of Parks & Rec for Sunday dinner! Can't wait!)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Link Roundup: Garden of Your Mind

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Friday Link Round Up. I have scoured the Internet this week for the "best" links from around the web (it's subjective). Today we have an auto-tuned Mr. Rogers that turns out to be quite amazing, a game where you can play as the cast of Community, some ingenious beer passing from experts in Milwaukee, Gandalf, and more.

As always, I have tried to find something to please everyone. I'm such a pleaser.

YouTube: Mr. Rogers | Garden of Your Mind [Video]

Foreign Policy: Does the Pentagon have the right weapons to fight off an alien invasion? [Article]

MacHints: Adjust Your Mac's Volume in Smaller Increments [Forum]

Vulture: 10 Great Medieval Battle Scenes [Slideshow]

Reddit: Download and Play Community's 8-bit "Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne" [Download]

Funny or Die: Hey, Pass Me a Beer! [Video]

What caught your eyes and your hearts this past week?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Hate Camping

Last weekend, I took my boys camping. It was our ward's (congregation's) annual Father's and Son's camp out. I wasn't 100% keen on going but I knew my boys would love it so I thought it would be worth it. Lately, they ask me almost every day when they can have a sleepover with me. I don't know where this idea came from, but I figured Father's and Son's camp out would get me out of having them sleep in my bed and kick me in the face all night.

Now, this may come as a shock to you, as I am clearly the manliest Part Time Author, but I don't really camp. In fact, I kind of hate it. I love the outdoors and being in nature and I even like campfires. But why does that lovely day have to end with me sleeping (read: not sleeping) in a sleeping bag? Is there a more uncomfortable contraption than the sleeping bag? Your legs are too hot and your arms are too cold and every time you try and move it feels like you are in a strait jacket. If I could spend time in the woods and/or nature and then sleep in a normal bed, I would be totally sold on camping. Well that, and there would have to be better food. I know some of you are AWESOME campers and you have the most delicious meals of shrimp skewers and tinfoil dinners and whatnot cooked on the campfire, and I am telling you that you are wrong. Those meals aren't good. You have inhaled too much smoke and haven't noticed that the food is simultaneously burnt and undercooked and everything tastes like logs. So give me a comfortable bed to sleep in and delicious meals not cooked over an open fire and I would LOVE camping. Also, I want WiFi. And electrical outlets. Let's just call staying in a hotel near a park "camping." I'm in. 
Does this look comfortable to you? And yes, we camped in "cabins." Sue me. 
Well, as I suspected, the boys had a ball and the sleeping arrangements were awful. I think I slept for a total of 90 minutes the entire night. But it was worth it. On the way up, my oldest said to me, "I want to do three things when we get there. First, go into the woods and have an adventure. Second, roast marshmallows. And third, make S'mores." Those seem like pretty reasonable request for camping and we did all three. And is there anything better than these beauties?

I have a lot of memories of Father's and Son's camp outs as a kid. And what I remember most is that every year at night we would all gather at the campfire and one of the adults would tell a terrifying story of a crazy old hermit who lived in these VERY WOODS we were staying in and whose wife was murdered in cold blood and who wandered around at night looking for her killers, or about a man named Eli who went crazy and grew hair all over his body and roamed these VERY WOODS we were camping in, or about a crazy old prospector who thought that people were out to get his gold and wandered these VERY WOODS trying to keep his treasure safe and scare off would be treasure hunters. And every year, these spooky campfire tales would end with someone dressed as whatever crazy killer we had heard about that year bursting out of the woods and screaming and striking terror into the hearts of all the young boys present. 

I know I live in the age of the helicopter parent and that I am probably too overprotective of my kids. But who thought scary stories ending with the killer himself popping out of the woods was a good idea?? I distinctly remember the year that they told the story of Eli (who basically turned into Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman or something - I forget the details.) We were sleeping in an old camper that year (the kind that sits on the back of a pickup truck) and after my dad tucked us boys into bed he went to go hang out a while longer at the campfire. I remember looking up and seeing a white, hairy face with big sharp teeth staring through the window at me and growling. To this day I still don't know if it was my terrified hallucination, someone with a mask trying to keep the frights going or an actual crazy prospector who's wife was murdered and who turned into a Yeti (I forget the details.) I am sure that I didn't sleep a wink that night. Well, and I think I was in a really uncomfortable sleeping bag too, so I am sure that didn't help. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

mind the gap

Hello, readers! Quick question. Is there anything more irritating than bloggers who blog about their blog? Nope! Nothing more irritating. And yet I'm going to do it.

Forgive my brevity, but I'm packing for my yearly trek to the United Kingdom and I'm really busy eating snow cones and going down water slides. And defending my PhD and opening a show. And leaving Friday for a month. I know, I know, boo-hoo. The world keeps spinning.

But every summer when I take students to London I keep a daily blog of what I'm doing there. You can read it! It's like reading my journal. A little chronicle of naps I take and some covert pictures of really weird faces I see on the street. All the things I love. I'll be blogging starting this Sunday. You can read it here.

Cheerio and Happy Jubilee, Liz!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

You Must Remember This.

We here at Part Time Authors have been wondering about you, the reader. What makes you tick? What is something that we can all talk about? And so, I would love it if you could just drop a little note in the comments about the following:

The first girl I ever kissed was Jenny Lloyd. We were in the Orem Jr High School production of 'Ghost Chasers' and we were in 8th grade. (Side note: My two older brothers had told me the summer before my 7th grade year that I should kiss a girl in 7th grade and French kiss a girl in 8th grade, so this story is already a year behind. Side side note: I did not French kiss a girl until 10th grade when I was dating a senior; she eventually put a stop to it, on moral grounds.) Now for my memory: Jenny was playing a young beautiful new patient in this hospital that was now being taken over by ghosts and the like. She was dressed in a light green dress and sometimes had a white coat and a suit case. She was very pretty, just as her character.

For her memory: I was playing a 'dancing skeleton' and I looked it. The 'Dancing Skeleton' costume was an over sized, black (with iron-on bones), one-piece suit that hung on me like I was wearing my older brother's pajamas. But that's not the worst thing. The worst thing was that my makeup was:
1. A layer of white all over the face;
2. Black around the eyes; and
3. So that our faces would show up under the black lights as we danced, the entire face was covered with some glow-in-the-dark goop that was the consistency of Vaseline that would periodically drip drops of glop as I walked.

There it is, while I was looking at her in her Sunday best, she was looking at me--a 86-pound burn victim with eye liner.

It wasn't but years later that I thought of my first kiss from Jenny Lloyd's point of view. I am pretty sure that her first kiss was some kid in her 'Ideas*' class at Aspen Elementary, so while it wasn't her first it was still a kiss and she did look into my blacked-out goopy eyes, noted the double toothed smile (my real teeth and the ones drawn around my mouth) and promptly shut her own eyes as I went in for the kill. A memorable moment for each of us, no doubt.

And so I come to you. There is only one first kiss in your life, just that one. Now, you don't have to go into deep detail but I would like to have you comment. Just so the world remembers. Please post who and how it was. It could be two words: "Hillary Duff. Badly." but then we would all know. So do tell!!! Really, go on! Push the button.

*"Ideas" was a class for smart kids that I was not a part of. It was when I realized two things: One, I am not smart.
Two, I like smart girls.
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