Memoirish stuff

I’m not sure who’s more attached to this stuffed animal: the owner or the owner’s parents. Two years ago when we nearly lost Froggy, Lindsay and I were way more panicked than Silas. He sat and watched — slack-jawed — as his mom and dad tore his home apart like paranoid coke dealers searching for DEA bugs.

We were frantic, not only because of how Silas might react if Froggy went missing, but also because we love that goddamn frog. His aunt got it for him the day he was born and he hasn’t slept a night without it. For the first two years of his life, he clutched it in his armpit like a small purse. Continue…

Seven years ago Lindsay and I went on our first and last cruise. We realized the first night we’re not cut from the red white and blue cloth needed to truly enjoy the Mecca of American excess.

At a “Get to know your fellow cruisers” dinner, we were seated with a very large couple. I’d put their combined weight somewhere around full-sized van. When they nodded to each other, their jowls flapped enough to send a lighter person into flight.

I know there are people in the world with physical problems and emotional pain which cause them to unwittingly gain an astonishing amount of weight. Continue…

When an eight year old finds a mysterious gum ball (GBOUKO – “gum ball of unknown origin”) on his dresser, he doesn’t ask questions. He looks around quickly for evidence of foul play, and chews it. Blue was my favorite “flavor,” but given the banality of that particular Sunday afternoon, even a white GBOUKO got me excited.

When animals find something they suspect is edible, most examine and smell the object before ingesting it. There’s a series of skills and internal alarms built into their DNA to guide them in “food or not food” dilemmas. Sometimes they’ll even back away from actual food simply because they’re not completely sure it’s legit. Continue…

Most mornings our kids’ playroom looks like an ancient Roman bank excavated from the ruins of Pompeii. It’s littered with brittle pieces of clay money; some in stacks, others lying broken on the floor. Considering how decrepit they appear, it’s odd that they once had such immense value.

If there’s one consistent and predictable element in our lives, it’s the existence of a specific activity that magically snaps Arlo out of a tantrum. That magical thing changes often, but thankfully, always exists. Months ago the antidote to a freak-out was Bob The Builder. That slowly morphed into Yo Gabba Gabba, then “eye-pop-pops”(lollipops) and now, somehow, it isn’t a TV show, jingle, or candy. Continue…

I recommend listening to Sia’s “Breath Me” while reading this post. Go ahead, click on it. Dramatic, right?

I think drama is unavoidable today, since, as a finale, the desire to reflect and tie things up is irresistible. I’m a little nervous and also listening to “Breath Me.” Please keep those things in mind while reading.

A year ago this past September, I quit my job in marketing at The New York Times to focus on stand-up comedy and writing. It’s a trite and privileged decision, abandoning the comforts of corporate American to pursue one’s “art.” It’s bold and romantic, I guess, but hardly unique – especially in New York City where one can eavesdrop on similar stories of “bravery” at any cafe on any given Tuesday at noon. Continue…

To avoid mass hysteria, we use an acronym around here. “C.E.C.” stands for Chuck E. Cheese, which if said within earshot of the kids, triggers emotional multi-ball. Silas jumps up and down, yelling “I want to go right now,” while Arlo drifts into a zombie-like state, wandering around chanting “Shoing E Shee … Shoing E Shee .. Shoing E Shee.” It’s the best he can do without the ability to execute a “ka” sound.

Lindsay and I have crumbled and taken the whole clan to Shoing E Shee a couple times recently, but the visit that stands out most for me happened over a year ago in Brooklyn when Silas and I went by ourselves. Continue…

S.P. Jones’ laugh was raw and childlike, with enough kinetic energy to light a Walmart. He was also a big milk drinker so, for at least 3 years, my daily goal was to make him laugh hard enough that it came out of his nose.

The timing of such a feat is critical. If your attempt is premature, the laugh might come before the trap is set. The joke must start while the milk is in the mouth, and finish before it’s swallowed. With only a two second window, funny noises and quick physical antics were preferred over language.

The two Fs, farts and falls, were my main moves. Continue…

I was thirteen years old when I told airport security my dad had a gun. Had it been post 9/11, we might have missed our international flight while a powdery latex glove attached to a GED recipient searched my father’s cavities.

He’d accepted a year-long teaching position in Florence, Italy. We invited my best friend “S.P.” to come with us; an offer he accepted with a vigor that stunned his parents into providing their blessing. I understand it seems odd for a thirteen year-old to up and leave for Europe with his friend’s parents. You should know that S.P’s name was Sigmund Polk Jones, and at eleven years old, he had thick black leg hair, wore colorful neckties to school, and had “dear friends” that were girls. Continue…

I peed my pants at a gymnastics training facility yesterday. I didn’t pee my pants so much as I peed into my pants. Maybe that’s not a clear enough distinction. I didn’t have my pants on when I peed into them. Well, I guess, technically, I did have them on, but they were down at my ankles. This sounds terrible. I was in the bathroom of the gymnastics facility sitting on the toilet with my pants down around my ankles. On Sundays, they turn it into a kid’s play Mecca for 2 hours. Wow, I really don’t know how to tell a story do I? Continue…

I remember there was graffiti in the hospital room but not which gang it was from. It’s been 4 years now and my memory is appropriately iffy. I know this for sure: If you have the opportunity to deliver a child outside of downtown Brooklyn, embrace it like a kitten. We figured since it was close to our house and doctors are all certified and stuff, hospitals are pretty much all the same. What we didn’t know was you almost never see any doctors.

Our obstetrician only appeared for  5 minutes every couple of hours, as he seemed to be rushing around to different patients in between obligatory visits to his synagogue. Continue…