Saturday, January 30, 2016

This is too weird to make up

Being a news junkie, I take the time to read newspapers, surf Internet sites and watch broadcast news on TV.
I simply have to know what is going on around the world all the time.
I have come across a variety of bizarre and unusual stories.
A while ago I read the story of an 82-year-old grandma who laid a beating on a man who was trying to rob her.
The 20-something bad guy attempted to grab granny’s purse, but the feisty senior refused to let go, took the guy to the ground and proceeded to give him a good, old fashioned whoopin’.
When police arrived and saved the culprit, super granny was quoted as saying, “It’s too bad the police got here so soon. I was really going to kick his ass.”
Now that’s my kind of granny.
No sitting around baking cookies and knitting for her. This granny is probably down at the gym pumping iron and taking full-contact kick boxing classes.
She may have been the only person collecting an old age pension to hold a title in her weight class.
I wonder what happened to the thief wannabe after he was sentenced.
How rough was prison for this guy?
Fellow inmate, “So what are you in for?”
Purse snatcher, “I killed 92 people with a fork.”
Fellow inmate, “Wow you are one bad dude. No one better mess with you. Hey, wait a minute aren’t you the guy who got beat up by an old lady?”
The prison explodes in uproarious laughter and the purse snatcher knows his reputation as a tough guy is done.
How much respect could this guy possibly get?
Purse snatcher, “No, that wasn’t me. It was, um, my evil and much wimpier twin. I pled guilty for him to spare him the embarrassment of dealing with this in prison. Honest.”
More prison laughter.
I’ve never been to prison, but I am assuming you do not want to be known as the guy who got his butt whooped by a member of the blue hair club.
Another story involved a lady who ran over her husband because she thought he was possessed by Mickey Mouse.
I guess the eight-foot tall mouse trap didn’t work so she had to take matters into her own hands.
The part I can’t figure out is what’s the big deal? Even if her husband was possessed by Mickey how bad could it?
Granted, he is a giant rodent, but it’s Mickey Mouse for crying out loud. Kids love the guy. He’s an icon of the Happiest Place on Earth.
If her husband was possessed by Donald Duck then maybe she could plead self defense because that guy has some anger management issues that really should be addressed. Counselling or maybe some self help discs would be in order for The Donald.
Mickey, on the other hand, takes everything in stride, is friendly to everyone and would never hurt a fly.
Perhaps living with that high, squeaky voice could be a little irritating, but hardly a reason to flatten someone with a Buick.
I don’t know what happened to the lady, but I am sure it involved interacting with some form of mental health specialist.
I believe the husband survived the car incident, but was later eaten by a 90-foot tall cat, a tragic ending to a bizarre story.

My kids aren't perfect, but close enough

Parenting is not for the weak minded.
Or for those with a weak stomach now that I think about it.
How a baby can get that much goo into a single diaper I still do not know.
I speak of the joys of parenting from a place of wisdom and experience.
Despite protests from many of my so-called friends, I reproduced three times. I have brought three children into the world.
Well, technically my wife did all the work, what with carrying them around for nine months and doing stuff like creating lungs and a heart and what not.
But I did my role to make a baby possible and once the kids were born I stepped in as often as I could – well, more or less anyway.
Raising children can be a challenge at the best of times. It is a fine balancing act between heaping on too much discipline and restricting too much of their freedom and letting them run wild and watch them make the top of the news feed.
Children are always pushing the boundaries of their confinements.
When they are little, their goal is to escape from the crib, then they want to escape from their room and as they get older they want to escape from the home they perceive as a concentration camp and run through the streets like a bunch of barbarians only with more of an attitude problem.
When they are in school they want to test the boundaries of just how far they can push the teacher before that vein in her head starts to throb like an alien trying to crawl out of her cranium.
Some children push those boundaries a lot farther than others and I am happy to say my wife and I were never, er, rarely, called in to talk to the principal about the actions of our children.
I am not saying we had perfect little angels (like my parents did), but overall they are pretty darn good kids.
Sure they did stupid kid stuff like setting the kitchen on fire while cooking or accidentally shooting out the window in my garage with a BB gun, but that is more youthful inexperience that adolescent malice.
I can honestly say I never set the kitchen on fire while cooking some hamburgers when I was a kid. Sure, I set half a mountain on fire while playing with some matches with my best friend, but at least our kitchen was fine.
Anyway, I knew going into it that my children would do some dumb stuff either because of inexperience or youthful bravado – of which I can claim incidents in both categories.
Kids are kids, but there is a big difference between youthful exuberance and being a little degenerate.
Youthful exuberance is seeing how far you can jump your peddle bike,
Being a degenerate in training is throwing a rock at your friend while he is seeing how far he can jump on his peddle bike – which results in you crashing and immediately looking for a better class of friend.
I noticed the bratty kids of my youth mostly grew up to be trouble makers in their teen years.
Drugs, alcohol and a general bad attitude accompanied them where ever they went and they soon had a reputation that also went where ever they did.
While I was hardly a perfect little saint spreading goodwill to my fellow man in the teen years, I was also not a really bad kid. No drugs, no alcohol and no harmful acts, just youthful stuff like speeding in my car, sneaking my girlfriend out the side door 2 a.m. and other stuff that was relatively harmless.
As far as I know, my own children are walking a similar path. Are they little angels? Nope, but neither are they the 'bad kids' other kids try to avoid, and that is close enough for me.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, January 24, 2016

First time parents are a funny lot

Having been a father for many years, I find it amusing to hang out with people who have just had their first child.
I call them frantic first timers because they are always frantic about the state of their offspring.
I have to admit I was the same way when kid No. 1 came along.
Every peep Junior made would send me scrambling to make sure he was OK.
If he suddenly started crying in his crib, I just knew a giant anaconda had escaped from some zoo, made its way to my house and was about turn my beautiful baby into a serpent snack.
Or perhaps a pack of jackals had some how gotten past me and snuck up the stairs, opened the door to his room and were licking their chops in anticipation of the defenseless meal that awaited them.
I would go charging into his room, ready to battle the evil creatures who dared threaten the safety of my child.
The evil creature most often turned out to be a full diaper – which was only evil to the person changing it. What did the kid care, his work was done.
I still remember changing the first diaper of my life. My wife took pictures and greatly enjoyed the look on my face when I discovered what the diaper held.
It was kind of a combination of revulsion and stoic shock.
Anyway, a fresh diaper, something to eat and he was as happy as a little kid can be.
When kid No. 2 came along, I possessed a much greater understanding of children and realized they are not going to spontaneously combust if their crying was not tended to in less than three seconds.
I also came to the conclusion that roaming packs of anacondas riding jackals were extremely rare in Canada.
Instead of dashing up the stairs every time he made a noise, I would wait a couple minutes to see if he would go back to sleep, which he sometimes did. If not, I would head upstairs and tackle the terror of the diaper. Once again, Junior would emerge happy.
And once again I would be repulsed by the diaper content, but the more diapers I changed the faster I recovered.
By the time kid No. 3 came along, I was a cool and calm and had a pretty good grip on the whole baby thing. Diapers were no more mentally damaging than wiping a runny nose or cleaning the all impressive ‘spit up.’
The joys of parenthood just never seemed to end.
So, she would start crying in her crib and I would casually stroll up to get her, with no more urgency than is warranted.
Try explaining this morphing of attitude to someone who is still tending to kid No. 1.
They look at you like you are nuts.
A few years ago we visited some friends in northern B.C. who had just had their first child.
She was a beautiful little girl who hardly made a peep, but when a peep was made, parents would scramble.
She slept for several hours the first day we were there and her dad checked on her many times.
Apparently he too had heard of the anaconda threat and was making sure his daughter was safe from the roaming band of vicious vipers.
After watching him quietly open the door and peak into her room, I tried to impart some parental wisdom on my friend.
I debunked the anaconda theory, and told him not to worry, that at six months old, she would let him know when she was awake.
He nodded in agreement, digested the information and then took a break from our conversation to sneak down the hall peak in her room.
Frantic first timers are an amusing lot.
After she woke up we decided to go for a walk to the corner store and while my three children ran down the park trail, their bundle of joy was in a stroller.
The walk should have taken about 15 minutes, but because the sun was shining, Mom had to turn the stroller, adjust the shade cover and make sure the evil rays from the glowing ball in the sky never touched her child, so it took more than 30 minutes.
I didn’t mind. It was a nice day, my kids were having a good time running around in the woods and the live entertainment was so much fun to watch.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Well, at least she asks

“Why do you even ask?”
I have thought that a lot more than I have said it when it comes to queries from my wife, and it is a question that is as applicable now as the day I got married.
I really noticed it during a pre-Christmas shopping outing. My wife and I were looking for items for her step-mom and my mom and sister.
My wife picked up an item and said, “What do you think of this one?” (for her step mom.)
Examining the sweater I thought, “Ya, that will do,” so I responded accordingly.
“Looks good to me. I think she will like it. The colour is nice.”
“No, I don’t think so. I don’t like it.”
She then puts the item back and keeps on shopping.
This happened with the next two items as well, prompting the question, “Why do you even ask?”
After almost three decades of marriage I have learned not to ask that question out loud.
When I did express such sentiment the answer is always something along the lines of “Because I want you opinion.”
Now that is only part of the answer.
The full answer is, “Because I want your opinion which I will immediately disregard and go with what I think will be best unless I am in agreement of course, but thanks for playing along.”
Which brings me back to, “Why do you even ask?”
I could probably say just about anything with the same results.
“What do you think of this one?”
“I think it is perfect. If you do not get it, you are making a colossal mistake, one that will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
“No I don’t think so.”
“Right, what I meant to say was it is the ugliest piece of rat cloth I have ever seen and even a beggar wouldn’t be caught wearing.”
Either answer would typically get the same response, but at least she includes me in the goings on.
I am typically not offended by her inclination to disregard my advice. We both know my main goal when shopping is to get out as quickly as possible, so my answers may be skewed by the fact I am starting to break out in hives and am being overwhelmed by an urge to run like a madman.
My wife, however, has the shopping tenacity of a pitbull.
When she heads into a store it is with a purpose – until she gets distracted that is.
When men shop, they go in, get what they need and get out.
Browsing? What is the point of that? If I need something all I have to do is find it, buy it and get on with my day.
My wife on the other hand – and I have heard similar tales from my married male friends – will be looking for something and wander off to look at something else.
We can go into a store looking for shoes and she ends up trying on jackets.
“Well, I was heading to the shoe department when I noticed a really nice sweater that was on sale. The colour was similar to my jacket and I got to thinking how ratty it was looking so I decided to check out what other jackets they had……”
This is not her fault, nor is this a criticism of her or any member of the female persuasion. It is just that men think differently. Brain doctors, a.k.a. psychiatrists, have discovered men tend to have a more singular focus than their opposing gender counterparts.
With men, each thought has it’s own little box and being the big, strong guys that we are, we can usually only use one thought box at a time.
Women, on the other hand, can jump from one topic to the other with ease and even integrate topics such as trying on jackets while looking for shoes. A guy would look at shoes, then, if needed, he would head to the jacket area of the store, his single-thought brain happily switching from shoe mode to jacket mode once shoe mission is complete.
Personally, I can only spend so much time in a department store or mall before my eye begins to twitch and I know it is time to leave or I will lapse into a grand mahl seizure. For my wife, shopping can be an all-day affair, and she will keep trudging through the store until she finds what she wants.
If she can’t find the item by closing time, she heads to the camping department to hunker down for the night.
She joins the myriad of other female shoppers who are setting up tents, digging out sleeping bags and preparing meals in what can only be described as shopper’s refugee camp.
In the morning, the mass of die-hard shopping aficionados returns to their mighty quest.
Meanwhile their husbands have fallen into a coma and can be revived only by sitting them in front of a TV – preferably with a hockey game on – and by putting a remote in one hand and a beer in the other.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Friday, January 8, 2016

What the hell are you talking about?

I know I am old, well old-ish anyway, and us old-ish folk are easily confused, but I have been using the English language a tool of the trade for more than two decades and lately I have been baffled at the changes my mother tongue is undergoing.
I know the way we speak evolves over time and how we talk now is wildly different than how we talked 200 years ago.
When is the last time you said 'thee' or 'thou' or any of those goofy words Shakespeare was so fond on?
Until I wrote this, I don't know if I have ever used those words in communicating with someone.
Times change, and the way we speak change.
Even in the 1900s, the way humans communicated changed greatly.
In the 1920s, applesauce was more than just something to put on pork chops. It was an expletive same as horsefeathers, as in "Ah applesauce!"
And “The Bees Knees” did not refer to the anatomical part of a bee's leg that bends, but of someone who was really cool.
Why? I have no idea.
And speaking of cool, in the 1950s the word evolved from someone who was cold to someone who was popular, or neat or, well, cool.
The '60s had a its own way of speaking as did the '70s, '80s and so on.
I get that our language changes, but at least back then actual words were used to in conversation, even if they were a rather odd collection of words.
With the arrival of social media, Facebook, texting and other evil acts of communication, people don't even talk in full sentences anymore.
LOL – means 'laugh out loud.' I get than in text, but people are using as a word in regular conversation.
TTYL means talk to ya later, I get that too, but there are so many new 'words' out there an old-ish guy like mean has a hard time keeping up.
I know what WTF means and I think I can apply it to much of what I am reading online.
The way things are going, the human race will stop using full words and simply 'talk' to each other using nothing but a jumble of letters.
IDKWTHYATA would become my favorite collection of seemingly random letters.
It is one I made up myself, and it means “I don't know what the hell are you talking about.”
Because more and more often, I don't.
KTHXBYE means OK, thanks, good bye.
I can sort of see how a collection of normal English words mutated into a jumble of seemingly random letters in that one, but there are many more out there that do little more than baffle my brain and give me a headache.
And as if that is not bad enough, there are online terms that do not even use letters to express words.
143 means I love you online. WTF?
How does three seemingly random numbers mean I love you? Without the use of a Google search, there is no way I would have put those two together.
2H2H is too hot to handle. Um, Ok, if you insist.
2L8 is too late. Now that one I actually understand.
4N is short for foreign, and I get that one too. I thought I was doing pretty good for an old-ish guy and then I came across A.
That was it; just the letter A. Apparently it means 'Hey.' Here's a plan: why don't you just type Hey. It's only three letters and it will keep us old-ish people from banging out craniums on the keyboard.
How about the 'word' Attwaction – that means attracted to a twitter user. It's bastardized cousin, Attwicked means addicted to twitter.
Oy Vey - which means this is some nutty stuff.
Deets means details and for some reason dewds is dudes. Again, the question why must be asked. It is the same number of characters, just a different spelling.
But possibly my favourite new word is doge. Can you guess what that means? I had to look it up and it would seem doge is Internet slang
That's it, IGU (I give up).

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A horror story parents would understand

I feel obligated to provide a warning to all who read these words. This column contains images that are not recommended for those with a weak constitution. It is a tale of unspeakable horror and scenes so vile only the bravest of souls should dare read Tales from the Crib.
The day started out like most other days, except this day my son, Junior, had the flu. Now a flu is not fun for anyone, but for a two-year-old boy it brings with it a whole set of problems adults don’t deal with, such as a child’s ability – or should I say willingness - to throw up no matter where they are.
Hearing Junior was awake I entered his room and stopped cold when I saw what my young son had accomplished. I also instantly realized giving grape juice to a two year old with the flu is not the smartest move.
Standing in his crib with a big smile on his face was my son. The front of his sleeper was purple, the crib was purple the floor and even the wall was purple, but what really impressed me was he got some on the ceiling.
That is regurgitation of Herculean proportions. I had never seen a kid hose down a room with such efficiency.
His older brother had done his fair share of spewing, but I was in awe of the master.
I felt a brief twinge of fatherly pride, however it was quickly eclipsed by a sense of ‘Oh the humanity.’
Junior was not upset in the least by the situation, but I was left wondering how I could get my hands on a haz-mat suit. My wife poked her head in the door and then took off faster than a gazelle on steroids mumbling something about how she gave birth, so the least I could do was clean up the mess.
Now, just how long does the ‘I gave birth’ excuse work? When I’m 90 and the dog makes a mess on the floor, will she mumble through her false teeth something about giving birth before wacking over the head with her cane and telling me to clean it up?
But, back to the task at hand. The first thing I had to do was get Junior out of the crib, which would normally be an easy task, but the blonde, blue eyed Creature from the Purple Lagoon standing before me made it a scary proposition.
At first, I tried using ‘The Force’ to lift him out and float him to the bathtub, but it didn’t work.
It was obvious I was going to have to pick the little guy up and carry him to the bathroom. It is amazing how fast one can run while carrying a small child by two fingers at arms length.
Jr., meanwhile, was having a great time and giggled all the way as I tore down the hallway with the determination of a weight watchers class which had just spotted a pizza.
I placed him in the tub, got him out of his sleeper and cranked up the water. I took the sleeper to the wash machine and set it on puree before heading back upstairs to deal with the crib, wall and ceiling.
Surveying the room I wondered how so much goop could come out of such a tiny person. As I scrubbed I realized I had not even had breakfast yet and I began to think about how good some eggs would be right about now.
I am convinced only a parent could think about what to have for breakfast while cleaning up 37 gallons of kid barf.
Eventually I got the room cleaned up – there is still a stain on the carpet as a sort of memorial to the event – and got Junior dressed and downstairs, thus ending the vomit incident.
If you’ll recall this adventure in parenthood started because Junior had the flu and with it came diarrhea, or as we call it ‘the scoots’ because you are always scooting to the bathroom.
That was also the day I learned a diaper can only hold so much recycled food matter before it escapes the elastic confines of the undergarment by any means possible.
But the story of the overflowing diaper and the family dog who gave its best effort to help clean up the floor will have to be told a different day.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh