Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chekov the Potty Mouth

It was 11:45 pm, when the husband, now known as Chekov, put down the masking tape he had used to tape the hotel doors shut. He snuck out of his room wearing his favorite swim trunks. He passed by the pool and headed to the hot tub where he was greeted by Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty and Uhura. He put his walkie talkie on the table with the others, took off his shirt and slid into the water. As he laughed at Spock’s story about the problem child in room 345, the 40 something husband thought to himself, “This is the best band tour ever!”

When the teenager agreed to let the husband chaperone her band tour she had four rules. 1. The husband was not allowed to pack a swimsuit. 2. He was not allowed to ever take his shirt off. 3. He was not allowed to enter the pool area of the hotel for any reason. 4. The husband was not allowed to embarrass the teenager in any other way that wasn’t covered by the first three rules.

By the end of day one, the husband had already broken rules 1, 2 and 3.

Band tour had started that morning with the teenager excited about her first band tour. The husband admitted to being a bit nervous about his first band tour as a chaperone. When the charter bus pulled away from the school, the teenager was sitting with her friends, somewhere in the middle of the bus. A few rows in front of the teenager, the chaperone husband had forgotten about his nervousness when he was handed his very own walkie talkie and a list of Star Trek code names each chaperone was assigned. The bus had only travelled a few miles when another chaperone, “Scotty”, yelled out, “Klingon battle cruiser at 9 o’clock!” as the bus passed a police car. With a satisfied look of amusement on his face, the husband looked back a few rows at the teenager and he was pretty sure he saw her roll her eyeballs.

On day 2 of band tour, the husband called home. I chastised him for breaking rules 1-3. “Come on!” the husband whined. “The teenager wasn’t even there. She’s got nothing to worry about. I won’t embarrass her. By the way, these teenage boys CAN NOT keep their hands off of the girls! They are constantly touching them. I’m beginning to think that it’s all they ever think about!”

Later on that second day, the teenager was heard reprimanding some boys for swearing. The boys were used to it. The teenager had gained quite a reputation, apparently, for being the band “potty mouth police”. The teenager didn’t like bad language and wasn’t shy in telling her peers to clean up their mouths.

The husband was unaware of this fact.

It was near curfew on night 2 of band tour. The boys were expected to be in their rooms on the 3rd floor of the hotel. The girls were expected to be in their rooms on the 2nd floor. The chaperone husband was having trouble with Joe. Joe very much wanted to touch a girl. Joe would sneak down to the 2nd floor. The husband would send Joe back to the third floor. This cycle would repeat, numerous times. Finally, the husband could no longer maintain his proper chaperone composure.

“Joe! Get your a** back to your room right now. And I don’t want to see your a** down on this floor again!”

On day 3 of band tour, the charter bus, full of tired teenagers and chaperones, began to make the long trip home. As the teenager sat with her friends, somewhere in the middle of the bus, she was surrounded by kids who were reminiscing about the prior 2 days.

One boy piped up, “I think the funniest thing that happened on band tour this year was when the teenager’s DAD actually SWORE at Joe when he kept trying to sneak on to the girls’ floor. The potty mouth police’s own DAD swore. How funny is that?”

All the kids agreed. The husband’s swearing on band tour would be remembered for a very long time.

And so it was official. Rules 1, 2 and 3-broken. And now rule number 4-broken. The husband was 4 for 4.

The teenager hunched further down in her seat and glanced forward a few rows toward Chekov the husband. Somewhere near the front of the bus, Captain Kirk yelled out, “Klingon battle cruiser approaching!” Chekov grinned and thought to himself, “This was the best band tour ever!”

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Do I need to even mention that Iron Man 2 is now out on DVD? I thought not. Love that Tony Stark….

The novel Born Under a Million Shadows, by Andrea Busfield attempts to shed some positive light on Afghanistan. From the beauty of its land to the beauty of its people, Afghanistan comes to life differently than it does on the evening news. Despite a difficult history, the drug trade and the Taliban, the people of Afghanistan somehow manage to hold on to hope for the future. Although this was a slower, quieter novel, I did enjoy it and recommend it especially if you have an interest in that area of the world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Jim L. Affair

It was true that Jim L. and I were getting closer. After all, I had started seeing him on a daily basis.

It was bound to happen.

I had no idea how much we had bonded, however, until I handed him my credit card on that rainy morning 3 days after school had started.

As Jim L. swiped my credit card, I pushed my driver’s license across the counter toward him. He pushed it back. “Oh, don’t worry about that.” Jim L. said with a grin. “I don’t need your ID. I know who you are.”

Jim L., employee of the month at my local Office Depot, handed my credit card and my receipt back to me. And then he handed me my new 3” binder because the history teacher said 2” was much too small. He handed me a set of binder dividers because the Spanish class was divided into 12 units-not 8. And he handed me a book cover because the math teacher “said she would charge me $150 if my book comes back with one tiny mark on it!”

In the past few days, Jim L. and I had bonded over thumb drives, black 1 ½" binders, composition books, fine point Sharpie pens, and whiteboard erasers. Jim L. told me how smart I was to have purchased my college rule notebook paper early. “I run out of that every year, no matter how much I order!” Jim L. and I had become so close that he had stopped bagging my purchases, because, as he put it, “I know you like it that way.”

As I walked away from Jim L. that morning I knew it had to end. I could no longer keep seeing him like this. I was sure that today was the day the kids would come home from school without any more demands for unexpected school supplies. I would no longer have a reason to run off to see Jim L.

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning!” Jim L. called out to me as I started to walk away from the counter. In shock I turned to face him. Didn’t he know I wasn’t coming back? Didn’t he know that we were over?

I had to be honest with Jim L. “Oh no, I won’t be back. I’m done buying school supplies. Maybe I’ll see you in December when I come get paper to print my Christmas letter on.”

But Jim L. was experienced. He knew better.

Jim L. turned his head to the side, narrowed his eyes and started laughing at me. “Oh you’ll be back before then! I give you 2 weeks and you’ll be back for a report cover or a tri fold presentation board or lead for those mechanical pencils. Oh, and ink for your printer. I know you’re going to need ink. Everybody needs ink.”

I turned away from Jim L. and stomped right out of that Office Depot. I stomped through the automatic doors and headed to my car. And as I bent down to pick up those dividers that I dropped in the parking lot puddle because I didn’t have a bag to put them in, I had one annoying thought running through my head.

Dangit. Stupid ink. I knew I forgot something.

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The day we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. Jane Lynch, recently of Glee fame, who is second only to Betty White in her “It Girl of the Moment” status, will star as Sam’s mom on a new episode of iCarly. I suggest you check your local Nickelodeon listings to find out when it will air in your area. (9/11/10 at 8pm for me). A very reliable news source has recently reported that the iCarly audience is made up of just as many responsible, mature adults as it is kids and teenagers. So to all you moms and dads out there: It’s ok to admit that you find it a little bit funny that Gibby is always taking his shirt off, that you laugh when Neville says, “Rue the day!” and that you’re really glad your mom isn’t like Freddy’s.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I’d like to make it clear that the boy never actually smelled. But, I was well aware that it would not be long until the malodorous aroma that accompanies boys of a certain age would take up residence in our home. It was evident to me that a nice hot, soapy shower must become a regular part of the boy’s life. And so I began Phase 1 of my No Aroma campaign.

I encouraged the showering. The boy still considered daily showers to be optional. I pleaded and begged for the shower. The boy said showers were a form of punishment. I insisted on the shower. The boy said, “I just took one two days ago!” I raised my voice. The boy huffed and rolled his eyeballs.

But then the boy came home from school with the paper that had to be signed by a parent. The school was going to show the boy a special movie about growing up.

When the boy arrived home from school the following week, his backpack hit the floor with a thud. The door slammed a bit harder than usual. The boy thrust a yellow piece of paper at me.

“How was school?” I lovingly inquired to the boy.

“WELL! I had to watch that special movie today!” he sniped back.

“Oh……I see….” I answered in my careful, suddenly a tiny bit panicked voice. “And how did that go…..?”

“WELL….!” barked the perturbed boy. “You’ll be happy to know that, APPARENTLY…..I AM supposed to take a shower every day!”

Phase 1 of my No Aroma campaign was complete. On to Phase 2.

I began to read the yellow “Growing Up” paper the boy had given me.

“Hey boy! It says here that boys your age can start to use deodorant. Maybe we should get you some.”

“NO.” came very quickly from the boy’s mouth.

The teenager yelled from across the room, “Yeah boy, you should get some Old Spice and then you can be just like that guy from the commercial who takes a shower and then has diamonds on a boat and ends up riding a horse backwards. Yeah, boy, you could be that manly if only you got some deodorant!”

The boy turned to me and stated emphatically, “No. Deodorant.”

They next day I took the boy to the store to buy deodorant.

I encouraged the deodorant. The boy wasn’t interested. I recommended a scent. The boy found excuses. I insisted on the deodorant. The boy began the tedious task of smelling every one.

It was after he had sniffed more deodorants than I would ever admit, that the boy’s eyes lit up. “Well the teenager just might get her manly man after all!”

I looked down to see the boy holding a tube of Old Spice.

“So boy, you’ve decided that you like Old Spice after all?”

“Oh, I don’t care if it’s Old Spice or not….it’s the name of this scent that I like. If you’re gonna make me do this deodorant thing, then I’m gonna do it with style.”

The boy applied his new deodorant at home and walked up to the teenager. “How do you like me now?” he suavely purred to her.

“Did you get Old Spice? Cuz….I can sure smell something! What kind did you get?” the teenager asked.

The boy pulled his deodorant out of his pocket and held it up for the teenager to see. “It’s Swagger, baby. My new deodorant is called Swagger. Oh yeah, I got me some Swagger.”

Phase 2 of my No Aroma campaign was now complete.

Now on to Phase 3. How to get the smell of Swagger out of my house.

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The Slightly Exaggerated family recently watched The Class, a French movie about a passionate French teacher trying to make a difference teaching at a school in a rough Paris neighborhood. Featuring real students instead of actors, this movie is based on a novel by Francois Begaudeau that was adapted from his real life experiences. We've also watched, The Street Stops Here, a profile of the legendary high school basketball coach Bob Hurley, Sr. A coach with over 900 wins, Hurley coaches at the struggling, inner city St. Anthony High School. While the basketball team is nationally ranked every year, the school has no gym. While the basketball team tries to win yet another state championship, the school tries desperately to raise enough money to stay open yet another year. Both movies are full of swagger, and both are great stories. Check them out.