Monday, October 12, 2009

The Cell Phone Temptress and the Modern Man

"Can you hear me now? Buy a new phone." Easy to ignore. Now imagine that being said, by, let's say, this woman.

Can you hear me now? Oh baby, I can.

Oh, the cell phone temptress vixen, you're so hard to ignore.

My 3 year old cell phone started falling apart like a 40 something year old ex-runner the other day and I knew I was in trouble. I tried to put it back together, tried to reconcile. But after a while, I could see I was the only one trying in this relationship, and, well, it was time to move on.

Believe me, honey, it's not me, it's you.

But breaking up is hard to do. Because the next in line might be even worse.

Getting a new cell phone is like getting married, only more stressful. You'll be co-habitating with this phone for a forced 2 year commitment, so you better pick well and hope the technology gods grant you a trouble free relationship. Because if you ain't happy, you ain't gonna be happy for another 2 years and believe me, your phone ain't putting out any time soon. And God forbid, you let her slip through your fingers every now and then, if you break her you'll be heart broken as well.

And just like women tend to forget the problems encountered with their pregnancy and subsequent birthing when they wake you up at 2 AM and tell you they want another baby, we have the same forgetfulness with our technological babies. It's like dating the girl you were warned about being crazy, or dating the bad boy because you, of all people, can change him. It's just a a disaster waiting to happen. So heed my warning and avoid the inevitable. If you can't at least be aware of your cell phone relationship stages:

1) The siren call: Cell phones, like all technology, tend to enter our lives like a whirlwind romance. The excitement of a new relationship, everything shiny and new, and the enjoyment of learning everything new about your new partner. Of course, this new partner will do tons of things your old partner wouldn't do and she's a good looking piece of technology. You're knees get shaky when you see her and you can't wait to get your hands on her. You love that she has a blue tooth and like the feel of her in your hands. However, you're trophy relationship comes with a higher cost plan, and wants to make you pay for activating her, and has spotty coverage on top of that. But you look beyond that. It's love, after all.

Heady days they are.

You're all set to drop your old phone like a prom dress, but wait, heed my call. Let's look at stage 2.

2) Familiarity. You're still excited, but that's waning. She really doesn't do all those things she said she'd do until you support her Ma and sign a pre-nup that you know deep down inside will cost you more than the phone is worth. However, she's pretty to look and and you're friends think she's cool. You're old relationship only makes calls and is a pain to text without the seductive qwerty keyboard, plus she's starting to look a little old.

Must be time to move on. But wait! Check out 3.

3) Contempt: All those things you thought you'd do with this new vixen don't come to fruition, as you're just making calls and sending the occational text but paying through the nose to keep he by your side. Everyone in the commercials looks so happy, but all you do is talk to people at work which does the opposite, and none of them are in your inner circle, so you're using minutes faster than Usain Bolt. You friends keep sending her messages, but she makes you pay for them, plus you're paying for messages you want to send them. Her Ma keeps sending you messages trying to get you to pay for more stuff, which you feel you should to keep your relationship going. But it's all a fools game as you're money is gone and the results are less than impressive.

4) The break up. You're relationship is old. You've been through a lot together, but it's not enough. Those things that seemed so cool before, just don't work anymore. Plus she's completely let herself go, and you're faced with a roll of duct tape and a functioning phone or trying to hide her from your friends and family and slink off to use her. Buttons are missing and it's not because of some hot get together.

You longingly look at what else is out there, but wait, you haven't reached your two years. So you're forced to live by your pre-nup and stick it out, if only for the kids. You don't want to pay through the nose for a new phone and not have any cash left for the college fund. And even if you have reached you're 2 years, do you want to go through this amount of pain again? Maybe, God forbid, a landline might be all you really need.

As with all good prognosticators, I haven't heeded my own advice. I've broken like a political promise and had to let my old phone go. She'd fall apart every time we'd try to converse. It was too much and I had to move on.

She works great, is good looking, and does everything I need. But my old phone still sits on the counter, waiting to be let go for good.

It's hard not to feel guilty as I look down upon my old flame, but I need to make another call and I don't like to keep her waiting.

I wonder who really controls the buttons around here?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Modern Man VS. Walletzilla

Sometimes a man is faced with obstacles so huge, so large, so ominous, and so life threatening, that he must rise above the mediocre and face the challenge head on, regardless of fear and heedless of the very threat to his own life. As Rocky faced Apollo Creed, as King Kong faced Godzilla, Indiana Jones faced the Nazis, and as the Sisters faced the evil Traveling Pants, I must face my own demon. As I bravely stare it down, I wonder what horrible plans it has for me. Will it cause back pain? Will it rip out more pockets? Will it pull me under the cold, black, swirling water to a certain death if I fall in the next time I go fly fishing?

Oh wallet, why, why, why??? Why hast thou forsaken me?

Now I have a Solomon like task at hand. I must met out a tough and possibly contentious decision upon an object that I need to get through life with. But how does one met out justice upon a wallet that is growing more and more dangerous every day? It started off with a few pictures, some money, and a banking card. Now it is about the size of Rhode Island, only less comfortable to sit on.

Now let's not get fooled into thinking that this wallet is full of money. Quite honestly there isn't enough room in it for a few dollar bills, let alone a stack of fifties. My wallet used to be fairly thin, but not it's growing like the national deficit. The issue is my wallet is being taken over by an assortment of plastic cards foisted upon me from every angle that I feel I can't get rid of because if you don't carry them at all times, you never have them when you need them. First, my wallet just had my credit and banking card, then it was infiltrated by a King Soopers card, then a Safeway card. Let's look and see what else is in here. There is a Qdoba card (burritos the size of a brick), Ace Hardware Card (motto "We only charge twice as much as Home Depot!"), Rocky Mountain National Park Card, two insurance cards, a drivers licence (Motto: We make Sears Photography look good!), Big City Burrito punch card, Local Nursery Discount Card, three business cards that I can't remember ever taking, two library cards, Sam's Club card, my electronic card to get into work (Motto: Schools are always open, so why bother?), a fairly new flex plan credit card, and punch cards for coffee, burritos, and cheap pseudo-Mexican food.

Plus, of course, I have some pictures of family I can foist upon unsuspecting people, as well as the bonus picture of all time: My prom picture. Sure, that would save me 1 millimeter of space if I got rid of the evidence of the most ridiculous high school extravaganza since homecoming, but you'd be surprised how you can liven up boring conversations by plopping your prom picture from 1989 down in front of a group of people. It's entertainment in itself, plus, you'd love my mullet and black and white tuxedo with the beautiful purple cumber-bun.

I'm surprised nobody has a band named The Cumberbun yet.

My wallet has been responsible for destroying every pair of dockers I have ever owned. They get a lovely worn patch in the back pocket, and then get a hole right through the two layers of fabric. Seriously, my wallet wears my pants down faster than the Snake River is wearing down the Grand Canyon.

Since I've learned wallets are bad for the back, I've moved it into my front pocket, which quite honestly, isn't much better. When I'm sitting, my wallet looks like the largest, squarest hive in the world trying to find freedom by burrowing itself through my pants. I don't even know if I can fit my cell phone in the same pocket without being arrested for indecency here at work.

My wallet, is literally, a foot thick and probably weights as much as a small dog. It should probably be registered with as a deadly weapon as I think with the proper throw, I could hurt someone pretty badly. So, what do I get rid of? If I leave any of the cards out, I won't have them when I need them. If I get rid of the pictures, what kind of husband am I? And leaving the cards our for when I would need them is kind of like my cloth bags for the supermarket. I always leave in the back seat of my car and finally realize that when the cashier asks if I want paper or plastic.

But, why don't you just chuck it all? Why put up with being tied down by discount cards from "the man".

Seriously? I'm cheap! Do you know how upset do I get when I don't get the 15 cents off on the candy bar when I don't have the proper card?

So I'm pleading for someone to invent the ONE CARD. A card you can transfer the magical powers of all my other discount cards into one, easily handled, and more easily lost card. Think of the health benefits, the safety factors, and the generally handiness of such card. In fact, I'm looking for investors right now for this venture.

Only you'll have to come to me, I don't think I can get up with this wallet in my pocket.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Modern Man: Redemption

Sometimes something happens that is so life altering, so mind bending, so amazingly earth shattering you're never the same again.

That, of course, didn't happen to me. After a summer tornado and a near drowning, quite honestly, anything else is mundane.

However, I was at a teacher conference in Denver and I re-discovered a few things. But first, I need to bring up something that is happening more and more that I can't seem to come up with a word for.

Now, if you are an adult with children, you know that talking to fellow adults in an adult situation (not a Cinemax or pay per view adult situation, but one lacking kids) come along rarely. So there I am, walking down the sidewalk, heading to a conference presentation with two women I work with. The day is warm, the sun is out, and we're chatting away, and as I am a 40 something gentleman, I'm feeling pretty good about life.

However, then something happened: Both the young ladies I was chatting with cell phones rang.

Now I'm sure that there are strong forces in the universe. Forces that can level buildings, destroy planets, carve gorges, and allow people to watch Fox News. However, I believe that the power of the cell phone call must be stronger than any of that.

For of course, they immediately stopped talking without stopping walking, flipped their phones open, and then proceeded to talk for 5 minutes. So now I'm walking between two women who are talking to two other people while I'm walking between them, now silent and uncomfortable, waiting for one of them to get off the phone. Do I stop walking? Do I start skipping? Do I pull out my phone and pretend to talk to someone really important?

Seriously, I'm at a loss here.

And of course, now the conversation changes completely when the fiasco is over. The two women now talk about their talking on the phone, as if this is an actual conversation piece.

There has to be a term for stopping a conversation with the person you're talking to and then ignoring them to talk to someone far, far away. I see it too much in restaurants, cars (I've seen entire families on their phones, talking to other people while IN THE CAR). What should the term be? Phone phleesed? Cell slapped? Fone Fragged?  The other idea is Phone with another word starting with F and ending in "ed", but that sounds like you're dialing a 900 number.

I'm going with phone fragged right now when in public or at work, as I don't want to lose my job.  Please.  Post something else if you have a better idea.

But what about this redemption?

Ah, yes.  I learned I'm still human.

As a father and teacher you are considered closer to a cyborg than a human being.  This feeling has been going on for years, occasionally broken up by a date movie night or 2 a years.

I stayed out until 3 AM TWO NIGHTS IN  A ROW.  

I took a cab.

I danced, danced, danced!

I did attend classes. (for those at work reading this)

There may have been drinking.

A 23 year old woman may have drank out of the hotel's decorative fountain, which was redeeming in itself.

I discovered the 16th Street Mall on Halloween is a freak show I'd put up against any other city in the country.

I learned that two piano players singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm, Special Education Edition" is funny no matter what time of the evening it is.  Especially if you're a special education teacher.  If I could only sing the "Tourettes Chicken" part, you'd be laughing, too. (Bwaaack, bwaaack, @#$##ing, @#$@#, @#$#$!!! here)

So there you go.  I am still a normal human being.  OK.  A human being.

I've been redeemed.  

You didn't hear a word of this did you?  You've been talking on the @#$#ing cell phone again.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Modern Man: American Scourge

(Today’s blog is written as if lecturing a teenager or doing a political announcement.)

Today I want to talk to you about a scourge that hasn’t been addressed by either the Republicans or the Democrats since the election began. If you want to talk about threats to our country, this is right up there with fast food, gas prices, and Tila Tequila.

I’m so upset about this problem that I can no longer keep silent.  

I’m talking about grown men walking small dogs.

Hey, don’t make excuses about having to clean the garage. You need to listen to this, mister!

I’m not talking about walking puppies, who will eventually grow to be large Labs or Retrievers. I’m talking about men walking mini-poodles, tiny Chihuahuas, or any another breed that can rip your socks off.

Men, look at me. Stop pretending you’re gazing at your cell phone looking for messages.

This is serious.

Walking a tiny dog, or even owning one is emasculating this country.
I understand that certain lines have been blurred since the 50’s, and that is okay. With the modern household, a lot of sharing of responsibilities goes on to make it run smoothly.

However, a dog is not on the same lines as doing laundry or the dishes. A dog tells a lot about who you are as a friend and human being.

Plus, there are many activities we, as males, can participate in that some might consider unmanly but really aren’t.  They are miles away from owning a tiny dog.

For one, we can cook, which some find womanly, but then, many of the great chefs are men. Plus, if you cook, you don’t have to worry about your wife or girlfriend poisoning you.

We can garden, which some men would consider ladylike. However, gardening is a step away from farming, you get dirty, and can even get wounded cutting a rose bush. I mean, that’s pretty manly stuff.

But tiny dogs?

If you can carry your dog without pulling a groin (a very manly thing, indeed) you have finally crossed the line into skirtdom, and not the cool Scottish ones in Braveheart.

The next thing you know you’ll be getting manicures, drinking chardonnay, and watching the Oxygen Network.

Maybe you’re doing this already. Are you? Why are you looking away?
How can we fight the war on terror, the war on drugs, and the war against family values with a dog the sized of a meatloaf?

I mean, how do you feel when you knock on someone’s door and you hear the high pitched yap! yap! yap! of a little fur ball? Does it instill you with a feeling of manliness? No! You need to hear the deep baying of a large dog. The baying that says, “Stay away!” or “I”ll bite you!” or in our dog’s case, “I will possibly lick you to death!”

Those are manly sounds.

If you can buy your dog food in cat food sizes, you’ve got serious issues. I mean, think about who is famous for little bitty dogs: Women celebrities and the French.

If your dog can fit in a purse, you’ve got issues, my friend. Should I buy you a purse? Should I????! (And I'm not talking about a man purse.)

Oh, I hear you whining. “My wife made me do it!” “They don’t shed as much!” “They don’t have poop the size of Clydesdales, only stinkier!” We’ll, when the war against our families’ values start, or Tila Tequila shows up on your doorstep, is your schnauzer going to defend you? In the winter, will that dog keep the whole bed warm? Can that dog even catch a Frisbee, since the Frisbee is bigger? Can they fight off a mountain lion, or pull a dog sled in the Yukon?

Hey, don’t walk away. I’m not finished yet. Think about all the great television, book, and movie dogs: Lassie, Old Yeller, Fang.

They were all fairly butch dogs, even if some of them were girls. And on top of that, at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows, or Call of the Wild, "Ol Yeller" or even Baldo been as gut wrenching of the dogs were bloody mini-poodles or laso opsos, I mean lasu upsos, I mean those little white fluffy dogs who don't shed????

I think not.

(Imagine:  Travis taking Ol' Yeller away with his shotgun, but it's a lhasa apso.  Not quite the same, is it?)

So, America, let’s get this under control.

Let’s take America back from this god-awful display of wimpiness.

Let’s all get big dogs.

Now, wish me luck. I have to clean up the backyard.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Modern Man: Walking the Dog

Before I begin this post, I need to tell you I saw something so amazingly mind boggling that I had to share it. After a long day at school, a student was scampering down the hall at a relatively fast pace.

Okay, he was running.

As I wondered whether I should try to catch up to him, or pretend there was something in my eye that would allow me to head back into my office, I saw something relatively disturbing.

His pants were beginning to slide down his butt, or as we in teacher world are forced to say, "His gluteous maximus." (Remember, 95% of all students have seen every uncut American Pie or Saw DVD, yet parents freak out if we swear, or try to show a movie like Saving Private Ryan or Glory).

Now this pants thing isn't so surprising. The new school uniform is pants with belts fastened at what might call, the "junk" area, or as we are forced to call due to current abstinence education rules, the "you'll go to hell" stick or the shame cave. This is covered by a long tee-shirt if you're a boy, or tee shirt or camisole that is 3 sizes too small if you're a girl.

Now as he is running, and I'm rubbing my eye and shoving as much lint into it as possible, I noticed his shirt, which is a large Under Armor form fitting piece, is creeping up as his pants are creeping down.

I'm now waiting for the natural consequence. I'm waiting for the pants to hit the knee area and watch as he falls, hopefully screeching to a halt as the skin on his thighs brings him to a sudden halt.

Then I would stand there, washing out my eye and thinking smugly to myself, "That will teach him!" (Forgetting temporarily, that middle schoolers really don't learn anything the first time, or tenth time, or, wait, I'm getting depressed.)

Then I see him reaching down and I'm thinking, "He's going to pull his pants up! For the first time in a year, his underwear won't be showing! This is a remarkable day at our school!"

I was also thinking that if my shoe was untied, I'd tie it. If my hair (I mean that in the singular) was messy, I'd brush it. If my pants were falling down, I'd pull them up. It's just a natural reaction when disorder occurs to re-order it. Millions of years of evolution have made these reactions almost automatic.

But then he did something unexpected. What he did made me wonder about which direction this evolution thing is heading.

As his pants continued to head south, he PULLED HIS SHIRT DOWN.

Yep, he continued to run uncomfortably with his pants now at mid-thigh height and PULLED HIS SHIRT DOWN to cover his pant line (and not get in trouble for dress code violations).

As he disappeared down the hallway, I realized life had passed me by. I'd no longer be demographic that Hollywood movies or TV shows are aimed at. I'd preface conversations at school meetings with "When I was a kid..."

I'd maybe even start to use the term "Whipper Snapper."

But is it too late for me? Should I purchase baggy pants and pull my underwear out, or maybe get those shorts that really come down to just above the socks (I call them Manpris, a male version of the capri)? Should I wear my hat sideways?

Quite honestly, there is only one thing I can really do now. That's go to the nurse to get my eye washed out. Now if I can only avoid the whipper snappers on the way down.

(Looks like I'll have to address the largest crisis in America in my next blog: Grown Men Walking Small dogs)