Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Bee Punch

Location: The wilderness, somewhere in southwestern Michigan.

After what seemed like forever, Cathy finally came charging out of the cabin to find that it was I, her very masculine gladiator-esque husband who was the vocal source of a sound she would later describe as a weird mixture of baby cries, cat in heat and the screams of teenage girls at a New Kids On The Block concert (1988 New Kids, not that crappy new reunion stuff). Now I have no reason to dispute what she heard, although she may be over exaggerating a bit, but in my defense it was humid….very, very humid. You see the “scream” if you will, was the direct result of a conversation between me and my 3 year-old daughter Lucy; a conversation that I was apparently not paying attention to.

20 minutes earlier….

Cathy was inside putting Ruby to bed, while Lucy and I assessed the campfire situation. After a few minutes of scrambling for twigs and mulch, I strike a match under some wadded up newspaper and,“Viola and that’s how you make a campfire.” It was beautiful. We watch silently in awe as the yellow and orange flames ominously stretched higher and higher into the sky. I take a deep breath, “You smell that Lu? That’s the smell of Nature, the smell of good pure Earth. This is what camping is all about.” It wasn’t “camping” camping, but it was close. In fact, it was actually closer to a resort. In other words there were no communal showers and we had cable (however the T.V. was lacking a remote, so that was primitive.)

“Smells like burning… smells dangerous.” She wasn’t completely wrong; we were charring a mammoth hole in the ground. At this point, the objective of roasting marshmallows seemed utterly absurd. The fire was tremendous and generating enough heat to melt all plastic within 15 feet… I cautiously remove Lucy’s barrettes. We sit for a few more minutes in silence and fear. I’ve begun to sweat uncontrollably, the stitching on my shirt has started to smoke and the legs on my lawn chair were beginning to bow. Suddenly, in what I can only explain as an awkward shift in thought, Lucy begins an odd conversation…

“Da, are bees dangerous?”
I nonchalantly shrug my shoulders,“Nah, not really. If you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.” Secretly I’m terrified of them, and I never leave them alone. I scream, swat, hit, chastise and try to humiliate any striped creature that I feel threatened by. That’s right I’ll punch a zebra, I just don’t trust stripes, they’re deceiving.
“Will they sting you, if they are mad?”
“I suppose if you make them mad, then yeah, they will sting you.” Honestly, I can’t tell you the last time I was stung by a bee. If I were to guess I’d say it’s been over 20 years. My skin is beginning to crawl just talking about them, I feel compelled to crack my knuckles. Sweat is viciously pouring down my neck, it’s relentless. I’m starting to feel uneasy.
“If a bee stings you, does it hurt?” Now this is the third straight question about bees. I’m glad that she’s curious about things, but I have to wonder why the sudden interest in this particular creature. I wonder, but I don’t ask.
“Yeah, it will probably hurt a little.” I say “a little” for two reasons. First, I can’t imagine that a sting from these little striped buzzing demons could realistically inflict any sustainable pain. Second, on the off chance that she is ever stung, she won’t over react. I use the back of my hand to wipe away some of the sweat that is crawling down my neck. Upon doing this, I notice Lucy make a weird face. This slight gesture causes instant panic.

“What’s wrong?” I snap. As I wait for a response, it all begins to fall into place. The questions, the curiosity, the looks they weren’t random, they were calculated. I begin to fear that there is a bee in our presence. I slowly take a deep breath. I have an eerie feeling that the next few words out of her mouth are going to be a combination of “bee,” “on” and “you,” now the question becomes, “where?” I look at Lu, she’s biting her bottom lip… this is not going to end well. The seconds have slowed down considerably, and when I blink I can hear my eyelids touch. The fire continues to crackle and snap. Then suddenly I realize that the sweat which logically should be moving down my neck has begun to move up. I look down at Lu, and as soon as she sees my face tighten up, she decides that this would be the perfect time to let me in on a little secret…..

“Da, you have a HUGE bee on your neck.” My first thought was to jump into the fire, it was also my second and third. Ohhh… I can feel it dancing all over my neck. I have absolutely no idea what to do and running seems pointless, so in my head I begin to formulate a plan. Apparently when I do this I make a face, a face that Lu has become all too familiar with. Behind these eyes was a stupid plan and she knew it. Slowly she begins to back away until she’s safely hiding behind a tree.

My plan is based largely on the theory that bees can apparently smell fear, and although mine might smell slightly burnt, I won’t allow him a chance to react to my panic. I raise my hand (I look over at the tree and Lu gives me a thumbs up). Once I commit, there is no wasted effort. With the velocity of a hummingbird’s wing I unleash a punch to the side of my neck that would make Mike Tyson cringe.

Now you may be wondering, why I chose punch over slap? Again, I did this for two reasons. The first was annihilation; the second was defense. My theory was that a knuckle sting would be noticeably less painful… This brings us to the scream. In less than 20 seconds Cathy will come charging out the door to the sound of fear, anguish, sobbing and a touch of nausea. You see, somehow as I pummeled the bee into my throat he managed to retaliate. Instead of stinging me on bone as I had anticipated, he miraculously managed to place his saber right into that fine little stretch of skin between my fore and middle fingers, this proved to be very painful. Then as my neck rebounded to its natural upright position, he regrouped (musta been one of dem multiple stingin’ bees) and stung my neck, this also proved to be very painful.

For the life of her, Cathy could not wrap her head around the events that transpired around the campfire that very humid evening. She had a lot of questions, which quite frankly I could not give a logical explanation for. In retrospect my plan was flawed, mostly because the neck punch harbored some residual effects. But ultimately I think I taught Lucy a very important lesson on tolerance. A few weeks later while sitting in the backyard Lucy notices a bee, “Da, remember that time you punched that bee? Well that was not nice. Punching is not nice. So don’t punch anymore bees, because when you do you scream and cry and that doesn’t sound nice and can I have a cookie.” It’s not exactly Plato, but there is a certain amount of truth to it.

Here is the my new address at Chicago Parent. At some point LBN might find this to be its permanet home, but I'll let you know when that happens. Either way you will continue to be bombarded by my frequent updates on FB or Email. Check it out, give it a look, leave a comment, browse the site, whatever.... thanks for the support.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Five (little) Finger Discount

“Why did you buy this?” Cath asked. This was not an unfamiliar question. In fact, I can’t recall a single time in our relationship where I’ve come back from a store and not heard those words. Perhaps I’m subconsciously purchasing the absurd to keep her on her toes, you know, keep things exciting… mysterious even. I can’t help it, I love novelty items. I guess I’m sort of an impulse buyer, if it’s on sale, brightly colored or pours from a twist top (solid or liquid), it goes in the cart. Sure, perhaps I could’ve used better judgment the day I purchased 2 flats of canned green beans, but from a fiscal point of view it was a steal. On the other hand, storing and consuming 48 cans proved to be a logistical nightmare. At one point in an effort to rid our house of these cans and give the world back a good chunk of its aluminum supply, I found myself mixing a batch of green bean pancakes for breakfast. Thank god Cathy was there to stop me, or it could’ve got out of hand. I had officially run out of ways to implement them into our meals and I broke down. It was really a tender moment in our relationship. I remember quite vividly her gentle hands on my face and her cotton soft voice consoling me as I crashed to the floor crying and cursing the day Costco put those little green bastards on sale. A week later I bought 6 loaves of bread for the price of 3. We barely finished one before the others turned into the back end of a science experiment. As a result I’m no longer allowed into a shopping warehouse by myself. But this time it was different.

Lu and I had just walked to the Apothecary shop down the street to get her some bubble bath and moisturizer. There shouldn’t have been anything to question, but sure enough, I turned around and Cathy is holding a bar of soap. This wasn’t your run of the mill bar of Irish Spring. Nope, this was one of those hand crafted, fancy paper wrapped, straw tied, hand written $12 price tag, made in Jane’s kitchen gourmet bars of soap! It didn’t make sense, it was NOT on sale, it wasn’t brightly colored and it was definitely not pourable…. I would never have bought this! In fact, I’m appalled that she would even question me. Sometimes it’s like she doesn’t even know who I am.
“I didn’t buy that.” I scoffed.
“Well it’s in the stroller.” I shrug my shoulders, Cath shrugs her shoulders and then we both glance over at Lu who was noshing on some string cheese. Without missing a beat, she pulls off a long string, puts it in her mouth and says without looking at either of us, “Oh that’s mine. I put it in the stroller. It’s beautiful, it smell nice, like oranges.” I wasn’t sure what disturbed me more. The fact that she thought this $12 bar of Rosemary scented soap smelled like oranges, or that my 3 year old was clearly on her way to a life of crime.
“Lu? Did you accidentally put this in the stroller and forget to tell daddy?” I was giving her an out. If she’s smart she’ll bat her eyes shyly at me, say yes and plead cuteness, if not…..
“Nah, I just took it.” I Gasp, Cath gasps, Lu chews her cheese.
“On accident? You took it on accident right? If you took it on accident, it’s okay you didn’t know better, we can fix this, but it was an accident wasn’t it?”
“Nooooo, I took it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident, I just wanted it. So I took it. I took it so I could clean my body with beautiful orange soap.” Great. In five short minutes our precious little three year old daughter has admitted that she’s knowingly shoplifted a bar of soap, and apparently, all of the orange juice she’s been drinking smells like turkey stuffing.
“Lu? What you did was steal, and that's not a very nice thing to do. In fact, it’s a very bad thing to do. I think we need go back to the store so you can apologize and give them back their soap.”
“Ohhhh… Okay.”

After lunch we head back to the scene of the crime. We open the door and immediately Lu grabs the soap from the bottom of the stroller, walks over to a shelf and puts it in the very spot she took it from. Before I knew what had happened she was back in the stroller and ready to go. I look around and notice not a single person saw her. Huh? That wasn’t how this was supposed to go down. I’m confused….
“Okay I put it back, now let’s go. Let’s go, let’s go!” She was shouting out orders like I was Bonnie and she was Clyde.
“Ummmm. Ummmm…” What the????? This was supposed to teach her a lesson! She was supposed to apologize, hand the bar of soap over and be so embarrassed by her actions; she’ll never shop lift again. In a hazy panic I turn the stroller around and start to leave. I tell myself that it’s the right thing to do. After all in order for the whole moral lesson thing to play out she would have to re-shoplift the soap, give it to the manager, explain that this particular bar of soap was in here before, then it was in my house, but I didn’t pay for it so I brought it back, returned it to the shelf… I’m sorry. It was all too complicated we had to roll. We’ll have a talk on the way home. Then suddenly from behind a case of shaving cream a lady materializes before us.

“Hello, can I help you find anything?”
“Nope, just looking.” Why was I sweating? I could feel my pulse in my throat. I was telling myself to be cool and then Lucy says, “No thank you, we were stealing soap and we’re done, now we are going home.” Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Did she just say “we?” I mask my nervousness with girlish laughter and furious bout of gum smacking. Has she lost her mind? For god’s sake, I was supposed to be the voice of reason, and now I’m an accomplice! After a few moments of panic I finally crack and rat out Lucy. Shaving cream lady seems more confused than anything. I explain our situation, we all have an uneasy laugh and Lucy apologizes to the store manager. We spend a few more minutes in the store smelling things, orange things, before heading home. Along the way we stop to pick up a few leaves, scare a few squirrels and talk about the difference between wrong and right. After all was said and done, I stopped the stroller and ask Lucy to tell me why what she did was wrong…
“It was wrong because I stole it on purpose.”
“Very good. “ I reply. This was a good learning moment, and I felt pleased by the outcome. I had thought… Yes, I had thought she had a clear understanding of the situation and this was something we would never have to deal with again and then she turned around. She smiled, batted her eyes shyly at me and said, “Don’t worry daddy I know stealing on purpose is wrong. That’s why the next time I steal something, I’ll remember to make sure I do it on accident.” Well I most certainly did not see that coming.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yet Another Update.

Sooooooo..... Here's the latest news from LBN. Some of you might have heard that LBN has been asked to join a new website. It's a parenting magazine here in Chicago callled Chicago Parent, so starting October 12th I will be posting (the same stuff) on both sites for about 6 weeks, then I hope to move full-time over to CP. Eventually I'll link the new address to my original blogspot page so that everyone can click over, and no one will miss a beat when the time comes. This is a huge opportunity for LBN to get more exposure and gather more fans, in my quest to gain national fame and aquire health insurance. On the other end of the spectrum, the $20a week allowance from Cath is really like $12 when you add the taxes in Chicago. My frequent requests for a pay raise has continued to go unanswered, I'm just sayin.

Other quick things and thoughts....

- My ass which was injured via irony and gravity (explained in last weeks post) is still broke.
- Ruby is just about ready to walk.
- LBN has a Fan Page on FaceBook, you should join.
- I watched Destination Truth last night and it further confirmed my belief in aliens and sea monsters.
- 3 times this week I've found Ruby sitting on top of things (the coffee table, the kitchen table and the bed) without any explaination of how she could have possibly achieved these heights. My theroy is there's a crazy Carol Ann poltergiest thing happening. I told Cath that the moment she starts sliding across the floor unwillingly, I'm calling Craig T. Nelson. Her response was that "Ahhhhh, Poltergiest was just a movie and I doubt you'd find him. Second, he's an actor, not a Priest." I told her, that if she didn't think that Craig T. "The Coach" Nelson could rid a house of ghost, she was delusional.
-Finally, I've reconsidered who should play me in the Lifetime Original movie "Life Between Naps." Steve Guttenberg is out, Scott Baio is in.