Old man’s war

I remember the first time my father looked old.

I mean, he’s always looked older to me, mainly because he is older than me. But from when I was a kid, he’s always looked pretty much the same to me. There might be grayer hairs, or a few more wrinkles, but he was still always the same old dad.

And then we went to visit him and Mom after he had had his heart attack, and he wasn’t the same old dad. He was tired. He shuffled his feet as he walked. He was still quick with a snappy comeback, but there wasn’t as much snap in his voice. He was old.

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Enjoy the dance

The doctor broke Nancy’s water at about a quarter to noon after she’d been on oxytocin for a few hours, just like he had with Sean. I knew that things would start to progress and went outside to get a cell signal and let family know that we’d have a new baby in a few hours. Except it wasn’t a few hours. By the time I came back in, Nancy was almost ready to start pushing. They barely got the epidural done, and a few contractions later, Scott came slithering out, slimy and upset and perfect.

Well, almost perfect.

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Clash of the geeks

The battle is joined!
Cover of the most awesome chapbook ever written about unicorn pegasus kittens

Back at the end of May, the picture at the right was unveiled to the world by John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton at Phoenix Comicon. And while the picture itself is incredibly awesome, it was made even more awesome by the revelation that there would be a fanfic contest to come up with the best story describing the events in the picture. And then, just to prove that whatever we might be able to come up with for possible awesome things would pale in comparison to this new awesomeness, John and Wil revealed that the culmination of the contest would be an e-book of stories, the proceeds of which would go to benefit lupus research. Not just the profits. The proceeds. All the money.

That culmination is finally here. So if you want to help find a cure for lupus while getting a collection of awesome and funny and silly (and occasionally a little blue) stories about two of the nicest guys on the Intertubes and their epic battle, head on over to unicornpegasuskitten.com and download and donate. (If the occasional cussword puts you off, you don’t have to download the book to donate.)

Below the fold, my attempt to be immortalized in fanfic history. (So you know all the stories in this e-book must be better than this.)

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I’ve grown accustomed to your hair

Since I can’t seem to manage to update this blog with anything new, here’s a post from one of the old blogs from a few years ago…

My father, like many men, began losing his hair in his 40s, and, like many men, covered his expanding bald spot with a toupée for many years. His father lost his hair at a much earlier age, and chose to remain coverless. Each year, large groups of men have to deal with the loss of what many consider to be an essential part of their appearance.

They deal with it in a variety of ways. Some choose the combover. Others shave off what remains of their hair, to make the loss seem intentional. Still others, like my father, invest in a professionally crafted hairpiece, custom fitted and colored to blend naturally with their remaining hair. Indeed, many people never realized my father was balding at all.

I mention this because I had to take my car to the mechanic so they could tighten the belt they had replaced the other day, which was slipping. While in the waiting area, I noticed another patron who was waiting for his car as well. He appeared to be in his early 50s, and was wearing a wig.

Note that I did not call it a toupée, or a hairpiece, because these terms imply that the article is crafted to resemble the wearer’s actual hair. This was more of a helmet, a fur hat crafted from a pelt of the finest plastic $2.50 can buy. I’m sure the color was a reasonable facsimile of a color the gentleman’s hair was at one time, but it clearly bore no resemblance to the tufts sticking out around the edges. The real shocker came when he got up to move around, and I noticed that there was, where the crown should be, a bald spot.

A bald spot. On a wig.

Now, I can understand that this may be all he can afford, but please. Can he honestly think that this is somehow improving his appearance? Is he longing to recapture the days when he was merely balding? All I could think was, if I ever get to the stage where my scalp is exposed to the wind, and I attempt to cover it with a mangy polyester piece of roadkill, I can only hope someone puts me out of my misery.

Eulogy for a Christmas companion

When I was a kid, we had one of those put-it-together-yourselves Christmas trees. It had what looked like a broom handle painted green for a trunk, with holes drilled in it, into which you inserted fake pine branches. When it was all put together… well, picture the “before” version of Charlie Brown’s tree from the Peanuts Christmas special, and you’ll get a pretty good idea.

It turns out that my wife had pretty much exactly the same tree growing up. (She and her sisters used to lie underneath it and pretend they were presents.) The thing is, while my dad went through “have-to-have-a-live-tree” and “a-really-good-fake-tree-is-a-lot-less-work” phases, her parents had never bothered to upgrade, and were still using it until a few years ago.

When they finally bought a really nice artificial tree (seven feet tall, pre-strung with lights, looks better than the real thing), we decided to surprise her dad with a “funeral” for the old tree. We had everything you need: mourners, my brother-in-law the pastor providing a little (hysterical) sermon, and me reciting this sonnet eulogizing the dear departed. (Because really, what’s a funeral without a drunken Scotsman reciting poetry?)

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Why, as a pup, I myself…

Took Sean to Wal-Mart to get some groceries, and afterward we had lunch in the McDonalds there. As we were finishing, a little old lady came over and said, “I just wanted to say I was enjoying watching how you were taking care of him, so gentle and kind. Most parents aren’t that nice with their kids.” I really had to restrain myself to keep from saying, “Yes, I try to be careful with them because if you bruise them or scratch them up, it reduces their resale value.”