Running From School, Part I

“I,” I gasped, barely hanging on to dear life, “I am—”


“—going to get—”


“—elected to mayor or sheriff or street sweeper and—”


“I’ll BAN running!”

No one should run. It’s stupid. If human beings were meant to run, Nature wouldn’t have evolved two wheels, a carbon fiber frame, clipless shoes, 15 speeds and really cool bells you can mount on your handlebars. Bicycles are organic, free-range and most probably would be sold at Whole Foods if they didn’t have to make room for all their terrible-tasting food and quack homeopathic remedies.

But I ran. While walking my son to school each morning, I spied a mom dressed out in running clothes, ready to trot on home after she dropped her daughter off. “I can do that!” I beamed. “I mean, not her home (she might object), but my home, which is a scant one mile away. People run marathons, which are like five miles or something, so the least I can do is one mile per day.”

No. Wrong. No, no. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

The LEAST I can do is go back in time a million years, find the guy who invented running, and give him a bike. “Ah,” he’d nod, caveman club resting against his shoulder. “I knew running would be stupid, but I needed something to do while I waited for someone to invent the wheel. Say, this handlebar bell is really sweet!”

“Are we taking the dog this morning?” my son asked me.

“No way,” I replied. “Look at me: I’ve got my running shoes and running shorts and running shirt and running tunes and running face. I’m ready to—”

“Give up in defeat?”

I waited. He grinned. “No dessert for you tonight, buddy. Never again until you’re thirty.”

Nevertheless, after I handed him over to the terror chambers of kindergarten (where he faces such daily horrors as recess, lunch and construction paper pumpkins), I plugged in my music, shook a leg or two, and then I was off!

“Not bad,” I thought. “I’ve made it to the sidewalk. I can do this.”

… three steps later…

“GAAAH! I hate stupid running! A pox on running! Running is ugly, and so is its sister! GAAH!”

But tomorrow, I’ll do it again

Slim Witty

A decade ago I was dashing, a cut figure, a pirate on the sea of svelte who could out-fence Errol Flynn (backwards, on the stairs) with the pointed edge of my rapier-like charm alone.

[The InstaPrincess, seated not but a kick in the tooth away (my tooth, her kick) is taking great pains—by way of evil, evil guffaw—to point out that, according to her memory, none of the above is exactly, say, accurate. Alas, my wife openly enjoys the candied vileness of circus peanuts, and it’s important we shun people like that. So, pay no attention to her.

Remember: circus peanuts. And then shake your head slowly and move on.]

Ten years hence my fencing skills have devolved to just barely being able to open one, and even then with great effort and a noticeable lack of coordination.

Thus, on a whim, and maybe even on a withered glance in the mirror, I joined a local gym. The building’s nice, the people are nice, the machines are nice, and they even watch Evil Holland for me, which is extra-special nice ’cause I keep forgetting where I put him. (They’re even teaching him to swim. Swim! He now wants to grow up to be a speed boat, but eh. At least he’s swimming.)

“I’ll lose a coupla pounds,” I vowed. “They’re my pounds, so I can do whatever I want with them.” But before I realized, in a matter of seven months (Plus a handful of days. And maybe even a few hours. And let’s neglect not the minutes…), the couple of pounds not only escaped, but they fled with forty-eight of their brothers in tow.

Fifty pounds. Gone. “Run!” I yelled at them. “Hide! But you can’t escape! Not from me! I–”

And then I thought about it. “Never mind!” I added. “Forget it. Enjoy your vacation, enjoy the beach, enjoy Albuquerque—if you like that sort of thing—just don’t come back!”

So me and the fifty (50) pounds: it’s a trial separation, but I’m pretty sure we’re kaput. I don’t care if they show up next week late at night in the rain, sobbing, pounding on the front door with chocolates in hand and a wretched plea to take them back. I’m strong, I’m resilient, I’m allergic to chocolate—the pounds and I are through. No more. (Root beer and cheesecake, however, I’d probably be a goner. We’ll just keep that between us, though; a little secret amongst pals.)

A few extra pounds have hung around, stubborn and taunting, but they know their time is limited, short, and on the way to extinction. I’m just about back at my fencing weight, but even though my wife insists I’m not allowed to actually own a sword, I’ll still be able to kick the poo out of Errol Flynn.

I mean he’s dead, right, so how much trouble could he be? I’m pretty sure I can take him.

The One Where I Couldn’t Marry My Wife

I’m not a Democrat, although I tend to side with them on their social platforms more often than not.  I’m definitely not a Republican, although counting back thirty years or so I could see why moderates were attracted to some of its planks.  Call it laziness, call it a fear of commitment, call it an unwillingness to give up sleeping with either babe, but I’m pretty much an avowed Independent.  I don’t relish the labels and prefer to find the reasonable, sane center of either the Left or the Right.  If I can find it, that is, but it’s pretty tough these days.

That said, while I understand a lot of GOPers are not one-issue voters, I cannot fathom why  Log Cabin Republicans are, well… Republicans.  Here, for example, is what their executive director said about the President’s announcement that he supports gay marriage:

“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director. “Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”

And you know?  He’s right.  It was a political move by Obama.  Anyone who’s been paying attention these past four years knows Obama supports gay marriage, and anyone with half a mind understands that he couldn’t have been elected four years ago if he openly supported it.  For the record, I don’t agree with Obama’s compromise; I think he should have committed himself to civil rights from the get-go.  I understand why he didn’t, and I appreciate the progress his administration has made toward marriage equality, but this is one viewpoint that I don’t think should be compromised–even if it costs an election.

Still, despite my misgivings over how Obama’s handled gay marriage, I just truly don’t understand why Log Cabin Republicans stick with the GOP.  The simple truth is that the GOP, by action and word, absolutely despises them.  They truly hate gays.  We’re not talking simple political expediency here, we’re talking out-and-out bigotry that shows little  sign (almost invisible) of letting up any time soon.

The Republicans kill equal marriage bills, add amendments denying even civil marriage; they refuse to protect gays in matters of work and housing; they push unscientific and dangerous “therapies” to convert TEH GAYZ into repressed and suicidal faux-straights; they encourage and relish in religious bigotry; they truly, truly dislike Log Cabin Republicans.

It’s not a one-issue deal, here.  It’s THE issue.  I’m not defined by my sexuality, but it is a part of my make up and it’s an essential part of who I am.  Were the tables turned and straights discriminated against, I would not suck at the teat of the very group that hates me so.  Whether pride, stubbornness or just one small iota of self-respect, I’d rather go it alone, unwilling to bend knee to a party who tells me each and every way it cannot stand me.

A quick forty-five years ago it would have been illegal in some states for me to marry my wife.  (Neither of us is that old, by the way, not even close… with varying definitions of “close”.)  Thankfully, cooler heads on the Supreme Court (who, up to that point as a historical body, had badly mangled the outcomes of anti-miscegenation cases) prevailed and in Loving v. Virginia struck down all the remaining bigoted laws denying marital rights to couples of mixed race.  Had that not happened, I wouldn’t be married to the beautiful Insta-Princess, and we wouldn’t have our outrageously awesome son, Evil Holland.

I certainly would never join the political group responsible for keeping us apart.  I would have fought separately, independently, and unwaveringly, and afterward I would have kicked the bigoted party in the tooth. (Not really about the tooth thing.  But it’s fun to say.  Ask my wife.  I stole it from her.)

I have little doubt that gay marriage will eventually be the law of the land, and I would be surprised if the Supreme Court wasn’t the trolley ride we hopped on to make it happen all across the nation.  There will be bumps and bruises; and we will see the ugliest side yet to come from the social conservatives, but it will happen.  And I will gleefully celebrate and proudly tell Evil Holland that, yes, this is what it’s like when a country does it right, and to remember this day because one less form of bigotry is allowed to flourish in our political system.

And then I’ll go pee.  Because, man, turns out your body pees a lot when you exercise each day.



Evil Rosebud

We didn’t have a lot of names kicking around right before our son was born, so by the time the little bugger was ready to roll out on a red carpet of slimy stuff–an official medical term, mind you–my wife and I had about two choices remaining.  We had an earlier preference for a third name, but one of our friends stole it for her child, so we could no longer make use of ‘Oscar’.  Not the fish, not the grouch, not the Goldman (who built the Six Million Dollar Man–keep up with me, folks), nada.  I’m sure Emily Post has opined about it, but I’m guessing it’s considered rude to use the name of an immediate friend’s child.  Or to steal that same child so you don’t have to go to the hassle of making one yourself.  Whatever; Emily’s old and useless and probably dead.  But she died politely, so that’s okay.

So, two choices left, and one of them was ‘Rosebud’.  Except it wasn’t, but having grown up watching The Dick Van Dyke show, the possibility of transforming “Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses David” into one super giant robot name sounded familiar and comfortable.  We’d have to deal with the usual Citizen Kane jokes and the not-so-sly anal references, but who doesn’t have to shrug off butt comments on a day-to-day basis?

Down to two names.  The first was ‘Holland’.   Like the region in the Netherlands, you ask? (As if you didn’t just look that up in Wikipedia.)  No, not like that at all.  More like the evil middle management lawyer guy in Angel, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off.

Bear with me.

Much as we enjoyed the general creepiness effectively shown by the actor who played Evil Holland, we weren’t exactly inspired by him so much as it sounded like a pretty cool name.  Which isn’t to say that we wouldn’t be supportive of our son if he grew up and turned out to work in a law firm acting as a front for all things demony and unholy; we’d just prefer our son be a nice C.P.A. or a bottle cap collector.  You know, someone who wouldn’t necessarily work toward an ultimate apocalypse, but maybe some who could make a tidy profit if an apocalypse showed up.

My wife, peacefully circling in a lazy river of hospital baby drugs, left the decision up to me.  Either ‘Holland’ or that second, last name.  Eventually our son’s head is crowning, he’s clawing his way out, we’re cutting things and pinching things and I’m recording things and people are wiping things and before you know it (but I do know, ’cause I recorded it), one of us is holding a child and some faceless hospital automaton is asking me what our son’s name is.

I didn’t go with Holland.  I couldn’t do it.  I wanted to do it, and I wanted to be able to say his name without thinking of the evil lawyer guy, but I knew it’d be difficult for me to separate the two and soon I’d be buying him a nice swiveling leather chair, his first suit, a baby’s guide to bringing to fruition the end of the world; and I know that I’d subtly, at first, be nudging him to evil and then, poof! (or Arrrgh!, which is evil for poof!), I wouldn’t be so subtle anymore and I’d be grounding him for not going out to slaughter all the neighborhood cats.

I just want him to be all that he can be.  That’s all.

Thus, he’s not a Holland.  He has a different name, and it’s not all that evil.  Kinda nice, in fact; a little old-fashioned, but it doesn’t bring to mind ponds of blood and lakes of… well, more blood.

Secretly, though?  He will always be “Evil Holland” to me.