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Category Archives: Humor
First off, let me begin by thanking you all for making time in your busy schedules to attend this Family Meeting. I know that since the acquisition of the Nintendo Switch last quarter, many of us have been swamped with Mario Kart and the subsequent onslaught of Mario Kart trash talking.
However, with a new year upon us, I thought it would be a good time for the four of us to sit down and assess, as a family, how we’re doing. Especially as we enter, let’s see… *checks clipboard* …yup, year three of this godforsaken pandemic.
Now, we’ve pushed this off for far too long, so to help keep us on track, I will be using this free employee performance review template I found online. I think we can all agree we don’t want this meeting to devolve into the Good Winners & Losers Discussion/Tater Tot Dodgeball Disaster of 2020.
Alright, let’s see, let’s see. How about we start with something easy? Ah, here we are…
Attendance. Well, pffft. I mean, I think it’s fair to say we’ve all excelled at that. What with all the remote schooling you two did last year, and Daddy working from home since…forever? With his office just RIGHT HERE in the living room. Always typing. And talking with his ZOOM VOICE. When are you going back to the office again, sweetie? Not until spring now? Ah. Awesome. Awesome. Well, it’s a good thing that constantly being around each other in a somehow eternally shrinking house makes the heart grow fonder then.
Okey-dokey, moving on…
Demonstration of core values: Hmm. Do we have core values as a family? Honesty? Meh, I suppose. Cheese? Is that a core value? We did expand to two cheese drawers in the fridge last year. One for fancy cheese and one for peasant cheese. That counts, right?
Communicates clearly: Oh, well, overall I’d say we’ve done pretty well with this one. We are definitely loud. In fact, it’s hard not to hear all the communicating, as our neighbors have informed us many, many times. …What’s that? Ah, yeah, I suppose I could growl less at you. It just gets the point across so effectively, you know? Can I at least hiss? Yes, you can hiss back.
Requires minimum supervision: Nope. Fail. You all fail. Moving on.
Responsiveness in a timely manner: FAIL. Moving on. …Oh, you disagree? Really? Remember when I asked you to clean all the comic books out from under your bed? Three months ago? MOVING. ON.
Works to full potential: Ugh. Who has the time? Next…
Problem solving: This one I feel we actually did pretty decently. We fixed the off-balance dishwasher with the sugar canister and those two menus from Pini’s. The duct tape is holding up the towel rack quite nicely and you can hardly notice the big hole in the ceiling since we glued that piece of cardboard up there.
Takes initiative: I’d like to give a special shoutout to our kindergartner on this one. She definitely took the lead in demonstrating that you can both figuratively AND literally climb the walls if you have a wanton disregard for any and all household items. AND that swinging from the chandelier is not just a fun expression for having a good time. Yes, you’re still grounded.
Deals with conflict: I’ll be honest, we could all use less swords in this area. And Nerf crossbows. Speaking of which, how did we amass so many crossbows? Eighteen seems a bit excessive.
Listens and shows respect toward fellow group members: Again, this is an area that could use significantly fewer weapons.
Suggested areas of improvement: All? Probably starting with pants. We should definitely be wearing them. Oh, and how about screen time? I’m told there should be limits. And our eating habits could use some tweaking. You guys call cherry tomatoes those gross red grapes. Well, yes, I agree, they are super gross but the point is to at least make the effort. I mean, haha, we can’t always behave like we’re living through a pandemic.
What’s that? The numbers are going up? Oh, record high numbers, in fact. Everything is in danger of shutting down again? Hospitals overflowing because of the Omicron variant? Wait, what? Now there is talk of a fused “deltacron” strain?
BIG CURSE WORD.
No, you can’t repeat that.
Alright everyone. Pants back off. Who wants a brick of cheese for dinner? Brick of cheese? Brick of cheese? Maybe with a side of box o’ wine for mama? Of course we can play Mario Kart while we eat. I look forward to crushing all you losers. But first, has anyone seen my sword?
I didn’t realize it at first. It dawned slowly as I stared unblinking at it. Three little words but they were all mine. They were all I had ever wanted. My name. An actual byline. In print.
That was 20 years ago. Since then I’ve seen it in newsprint, glossy magazine pages, slick media websites and my own shoddily constructed blog site, Chick Writes Stuff. All these years later, I still feel a bit of a thrill when I see it.
But this is my last one. I’m ending my humor column.
No one is more surprised than I am. I planned to write my last column on my deathbed. Laughing defiantly until the end.
But as the old saying goes, humor is tragedy plus time. And there is no time anymore. It’s all just one tragedy piled on top of another piled on top of another. There doesn’t even seem time to take a breath let alone process the broken world that won’t stop fracturing.
Which is funny because that’s how all this got started. As a preteen I was overwhelmed by everything. Every day felt like the world was ending. I’d lay awake at night, trying to think of all the awful things that could happen because I believed if I thought of it first it couldn’t happen in real life. Because I was an 11-year-old girl and the only power I had was superstition.
And then, like a deus ex machina by way of Florida, I discovered Dave Barry. I devoured every column of his I could get my eyes on. It was remarkable. Possibly even witchcraft. He taught me that if you could make fun of something, if you could laugh at it, it lost some of its power.
This was doubly true when you could find a way to laugh at yourself. Laughter seemed to quiet the inner demons.
I wanted to wield that magic like he did and make the world a slightly less awful place. To be a tiny flicker of levity, no matter how inconsequential, in the crushing darkness.
But I can no longer write my way out of this darkness. I’ve tried. I’ve sat down before my computer every day for months. Whatever does manage to come out is forced. I am too angry. Bitter. Sad. I didn’t realize how much faith in humanity I had until I lost most of it.
And without hope I can’t find the humor anymore.
I wish I had a better exit than this. I mean, 20 years. Half of my life. This dream job of mine deserves a proper eulogy.
But honestly I just want to get this last one over with. It hurts too much to linger.
And so, let me end this ending by saying it has been my immense privilege writing for you, whoever you are out there reading this. I was never hugely popular, only ever with a small following (and even then that is stretching that concept to its limit) as I moved across this country over the years. But I loved it, all of it, none more so than when someone told me I made them laugh. I cannot thank you enough for reading so I won’t even try.
And to my editors, I still can’t quite believe I found actual live human beings to publish my words. Thank you all for letting me live out my fantasy. Especially to Editor Bob, my Bobbert, Bob Robinson, the man who gave me my very first column when I was 20. And especially to my editors over the years at the Victoria Advocate, who will be publishing my last as I am on the cusp of 40. You took a chance on me. You believed in me. Every writer deserves editors like you. Every person deserves people like you in their corner.
I hope one day to write again. To laugh again. To type something immeasurably witty about the Grim Reaper right before he takes me.
But for now I just…
…don’t know how to end that sentence anymore.
There are some people in this world who will tell you that there is no “right” way to play with your children in the snow. These people are wrong. And probably serve their children fruit as “dessert.”
There is a right way. Oh sure, a few details might vary and there is some accounting for individual family quirks, but on the whole, no matter how good of a parent you are, snow days follow an almost scientific formula. At least according to the data I have collected over the last seven years.
First, any proper snow day begins by the children waking up at dawn, looking outside their window and then immediately running into your room, where they jump on your face and loudly ask if they can go play in the snow. They will then repeat this question every five minutes and whine “but you PROMISED!” over and over and over again until you finally roar “FINE!” at the top of your lungs and they scamper away squealing with delight like the relentless, adorable gaslighters they are.
Then begins the thankless task of gathering all the outerwear, which were scattered to the distant four corners of your house the last time your children played in the snow. In between muttering obscenities about missing gloves and yelling about how in the world can all the snow boots only consist of the left snow boot, you remind everyone to go potty. Because once all these layers are on you are NOT taking them all off again.
The next half hour is a blur of stuffing tiny humans into snowpants and socks and sweaters and hoodies and hats and one glove while still looking for the other stupid glove and sunglasses for the kid who can’t go anywhere without sunglasses and scarves and ya’ll peed, right, because I’m not taking all this off again and ah-HA! there is that other stupid glove and what do you mean you lost the first glove, it was literally on your hand, and coats with stuck zippers and I told you the other snowboots were probably by the door and push harder, when did your feet grow, why are you growing all the time, and HEY, I found the glove, it was in mommy and daddy’s room, I told you stay out of our room.
Finally everyone is ready.
Everyone has to pee.
Repeat. Repeat it ALL.
Now if you have a big backyard and can simply open the door and release these loud toddling bundles into the wintry wild, stop reading here. Go contentedly sigh and enjoy a glass of wine in your dumb peaceful house or something.
For those of you who are like me and have small children in a city and thus need to “go somewhere” such as a park to play in the snow, the worst is yet to come.
Once you finally “get somewhere” (which, regardless of how you get there, will include many complaints and gritted teeth threats) there will be approximately ten minutes of pure, unadulterated joy. This is the brief moment in time where you remember why you decided to have children in the first place and why you love them and your family and your life and how did you possibly get so lucky as to be able to share a life with these people?
Then, just like the cheap plastic sled they sit upon, it all swiftly goes downhill.
Soon, someone will run over someone else with their sled because the kid on the sled didn’t listen and the kid climbing back up the hill didn’t listen. Everyone is crying.
They need a distraction. LET’S BUILD A SNOWMAN! Is there any activity that is more wholesome? Nope. At least for the next three minutes, after which you realize that you are the only one actually building the snowman and you can no longer feel your fingers.
Luckily, someone will always, inevitably, suggest a snowball fight. What could go wrong?
No aiming for the face, you yell over and over again. Surprisingly the kids abide. Eventually, however, you will hit one of the children in the face. By “accident” of course and not some subconscious urge. They will cry. You will feel awful (mostly). You will offer cookies and hot chocolate as consolation when you go back home. They will accept and immediately pop up like nothing happened.
You stay until both feet are completely numb and you’re pretty sure you’ve already lost three fingers to frostbite. When you finally can’t take it anymore, you give a five minute warning. May as well have been announcing you murdered Memaw AND Grandma AND Daniel Tiger. The wailing. The keening. The dramatic protestations that if you really loved them you would let them play for just a little longer.
Through sheer force of will (and some light dragging), you eventually wrangle them home and inside. Everyone violently disrobes, snow and ice and boots and gloves and hats flying, everything wet and gross and dirty. You are too tired to gather them all up even though you know you will later regret this.
It’s over. You survived.
Only a thousand more days until spring.
It was still dark when I opened my eyes. Which was unsurprising. It’s always dark whenever I open my eyes these days. Now is the winter of our discontent and raging insomnia, as the old saying goes.
Or something like that.
But this dark was a different kind of dark. This wasn’t my usual infernal and endless 2 a.m. dark. I didn’t recognize this dark. This dark had a bit of, was that, no…a hint of dimness? I started to turn over in bed to look at the clock, ruthlessly crushing the hope that was struggling to rise in my chest on my way.
In the A.M.
I had slept through the night?
I looked at the clock again.
I had slept through the night.
I slowly sat up, careful not to disturb my husband lest his symphony of snores prematurely end before the big fart finale. I shuffled to the kitchen in my slippers. I started making the coffee, almost as though in a daze.
What is this odd feeling?
Is this…not tired?
Is this what feeling well-rested is like?
Like waking up not wanting to punch the world in the face?
As the last of my peaceful drowsiness wore off, I realized that was indeed what I was feeling. I smiled. This is what it must feel like to be a Disney princess. Those birds singing outside? That chubby squirrel eating a stolen bagel outside my window? Any moment now they would beg to come inside so they could help me get dressed.
Soon thereafter my kids woke up, rubbing their eyes and scratching at their bedhead.
“Good morning, my babies!” I cheerfully bellowed.
The kids froze, confused. Who was this creature smiling an authentic smile in front of them? And what happened to the swamp witch they called Mom?
Then, to really terrify them, I made an actual breakfast. Using the actual stove. And pots! And pans!
When the kids threw dual tantrums over being told to brush their teeth (a daily morning ritual) I did NOT scream back this time. I just gave them space to have those Big Feelings. Like one of those parents who actually read a parenting book.
My husband made three dad jokes that morning. I laughed at all three. And pinched his butt when he walked by me to get more coffee.
Later, we went to the library to pick up a stack of books.
“Can we stop at a playground on the way home?” the kids asked, already bracing themselves for the obvious “no” headed their way because one, it was 28 degrees outside and two, I wasn’t wearing my out-in-public “good” sweatpants.
“Sure!” I exclaimed.
“Really!?” they exclaimed right back.
We got home. I made hot cocoa. And popcorn. And let them have cookies because life is meant to be lived!
“You’re the best mom ever!” my son yelled as he threw his arms around my waist.
“I know, right!” I happily hollered back. “Now, what do y’all want for dinner?”
“Can I have sprinkles on mine?” asked my daughter, allowing a bit of hope to slip into her voice.
“You bet your sweet redheaded tuchus you can!”
She jumped up and hugged me too.
Oh, the person I could be if I got a good night’s sleep every night, I thought to myself as I did ALL THE VOICES during bedtime storytime. If I didn’t have to ration my energy throughout the day. If I could regulate my emotions (or even just one emotion occasionally). If my brain worked as designed instead of being held together by metaphorical duct tape and Elmer’s glue.
Maybe it won’t always be this bad, I tell myself as I get ready for bed. These are extraordinary times, and not in the good way. But maybe it’s getting better. Maybe I can be my old self soon.
Maybe sleep will stay this time.
Maybe every day can be like today.
I close my eyes.
And welcome the dark.
In this age of Larger-Than-Life characters, there lurks in the shadows another archetype. One that often gets overlooked in all the noise and chaos. Yet, they are content to stoically remain on the sidelines, emerging only in times of great need.
The Quiet Hero.
They can be any gender, any race, any age. The only thing they have in common is that they ask for nothing in return. They are the mythic ones whose mild mannered alter-ego is exactly the same as their mild-mannered superhero persona.
Which brings me to Randy. He’s our landlord’s loyal handyman. Randy the Handyman, if you will. We’ve known him for almost a decade now. We’ve known his assistant, Jacob, for quite a few years now too. It was these two Quiet Heroes who strode bravely into our house yesterday, on a mission to fix our garbage disposal, unaware of the hurricane they were about to enter. For, unbeknownst to them, our preschooler and first grader haven’t seen the inside of a school since March. They haven’t had a sleepover in almost a year. They haven’t been to a birthday party or attended a family reunion or been to a festival or gone on vacation in a long, long time. In short, they were desperate for socialization.
It was the perfect storm.
And so, in honor of these noble yet unsuspecting gentlemen, I immediately got out my laptop and transcribed what followed as accurately as I possibly could.
*knock at door*
Hi! Randy! Hi! Hey Randy!
Hey! Hey Randy! Look at my toy! Randy!
What’s that other guy’s name again?
Hey! Hi Jacob! Jacob, hey, hi!
Randy, I lost four teeth!
I have pink headphones, want to see?
I have blue ones!
Have you ever read the book “Too Many Toys”? Hey Randy, have you ever read the book “Too Many Toys”?
I said I have blue ones! Blue headphones! Hey Randy!
Hey Jacob! Have you ever read “Too Many Toys”?
Hey Randy, I plug my headphones into the little hole on my tablet. Just like this.
There’s a funny part where the mom goes “Spencer, you have TOO MANY TOYS!” What are you guys doing?
Hey Randy! Do you want to see the comic book I wrote?
Hey, our dog died.
Yeah, our dog died.
Can I play with your tools?
What’s that thing do?
Hey Jacob, can I have this?
What’s a garbage disposal?
Did they teach you how to fix this in school?
Hey, we just learned about germs today.
Hey! Guys! Look what I can do!
Look at my purse! Hey Randy! I keep all the shiny stuff in here. Do you guys like shiny stuff?
I made a spaceship out of Legos! Or maybe it’s a boat.
Hey Jacob, are you a cowboy? You look like a cowboy.
How old are you, Randy? Because you look old.
Hey! Watch me do this! Are you watching? Watch.
Where are you putting the old…what’s that thing called again?
Can I help?
Yeah, hey, can I help?
Did you know when dogs die they go over the rainbow bridge?
My favorite food is mac and cheese! What’s your favorite food? Is it cupcakes?
This went on for over an hour. And not only did these two men not slaughter my entire family with a socket wrench, they actually listened to everything my kids hurled rapid-fire at them and answered all their questions and stopped numerous times to “watch this!”
All while also trying to do their jobs.
All while keeping big smiles on their faces.
Yes, not all heroes wear capes. Some simply wear a toolbelt and give some kindly attention to two little kids bravely trying to weather a pandemic.
“So, how are you holding up?”
A bit tired.
I mean, it could be worse.
I have it better than a lot of people right now.
Well, I just got done Googling “can you die from insomnia?” so, you know.
We’re ordering pizza for the fourth night in a row.
I just don’t understand. Any of this.
Wishing I could afford therapy.
I miss nouns.
Can a person’s soul be exhausted?
I had whiskey for dinner.
I feel so helpless.
What even is reality?
I’ve got all these projects I’m working on so, you know, staying busy.
I just want to go somewhere. Do something.
Everything is so surreal. I can’t even go on social media anymore.
I miss people. I miss my family.
Just, I mean, what the $#@%?
I’m fine. Really.
So help me I will murder the next person who suggests the solution to everything is more kindness in the world.
I had wine for breakfast so…pretty good right now.
I can’t concentrate on anything.
I hate humans.
I’m feeling cautiously optimistic for once.
I doomscrolled all night, how are you?
I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything is fine. Wait, what was the question?
I honestly don’t know. I haven’t stopped drinking eggnog with a 40 percent ABV since the day after Thanksgiving.
I can’t stop crying.
As well as can be expected considering it’s just endless darkness and everything is bleak and I’m stuck inside forever with only my family and panic and dread as constant companions in this nightmare dystopia we are living in but hey, I’m just going to keep making this popcorn for my children’s dinner while crying a bit and using every ounce of willpower I have to stuff these feelings way, way down into the cellular soil of the body where tumors start.
You know, I’ve decided I’m going to make the best of this.
When does it get better?
Survival mode. Just endless survival mode.
I’m horrified. But no longer surprised.
I got so angry I threw my phone at the TV.
There just aren’t words anymore.
I’m numb. Completely numb.
It has to get better soon.
Will it ever get better?
I am dead inside.
Coming soon to a streaming service near you, a magical new holiday movie!
“A Cozy Covid Christmas.”
Starring Sage Periwinkle as Holly Merriweather and Chadwick Strongjaw as Logan Bennett. Featuring Judy Greer as The Quirky Best Friend, Tom Skerritt as Someone’s Dad, and Candace Cameron Bure as the Evil High-Powered Boss.
Meet Holly. A busy and adorably neurotic interior designer living in an undefined big city. When she’s not busy walking determinedly across a crowded crosswalk, she’s busy talking on the phone while signing various documents people hold out for her, followed by busily sipping wine at a hip bar with her best friend.
Judy Greer: “How did your date go last night?”
Holly: “Terrible. I shouldn’t have even gone. I’m so busy with my career as a successful bakery chef.”
Judy Greer (whispering): “Interior designer.”
Holly: “Oh. Right. Anyway, I don’t have time for romance. All I care about is this upcoming Very Important Business Deal.”
Judy Greer: “Holly, you need to live a little! Let’s have more wine. Where’s that hot waiter?”
But while Holly may not think she has time for romance, 2020 has different plans. Especially once she runs into Logan Bennett, the charming but damaged hometown bachelor who dresses like a fancy lumberjack and who happens to have a positive test result.
For reasons that are flimsy and never fully explained, these two strangers must quarantine together over the holidays in a quaint Vermont inn surrounded by picturesque snowy mountains.
Logan: “Look, let’s just make the best of this. How about we order some food. What do you like? Sushi? Thai?”
Holly: “I guess I could go for a cheeseburger and a beer.”
Logan: “Nothing. It’s just…you’re not like other girls, are you?”
The only thing they have in common is their endearing stubbornness and apparent access to unlimited top quality hair products. But when a frozen pipe explodes, forcing them to work together until they end up soaked and laughing on the kitchen floor, they find both of their hearts starting to thaw.
Judy Greer (via Zoom): “Listen, sweetie, if you don’t go after that hunk of a man, I will.” (sips from giant wine glass)
Holly: “How can I? My career comes first. It always has. Besides, Karen needs those proofs by Christmas Eve…”
Judy Greer: “Oh, it’s a pandemic, Holly! Take a day off, for Pete’s sake! Find you some love in the time of corona.”
Both: (laugh impeccably white toothy laughs while sipping more wine)
But it’s only when a blizzard sweeps through, knocking out the power and forcing these two star-crossed and asymptomatic would-be lovers to huddle together under a blanket surrounded by candlelight, that they truly learn no mandate can force two hearts to socially distance.
Luke…Liam?…Logan!: “It’s just, my parents divorced on Christmas Eve when I was 13 and my fiance left me at the altar at our Christmas themed wedding three years ago and I never got over my childhood dog dying on New Year’s Eve and since then it’s been hard for me to get close to anyone, especially during the holidays.”
Holly (gently grabbing his hands): “Logan, you may not be an essential worker, but you’re essential to me.”
Then a bunch of other melodramatic stuff happens after the quarantine ends and they have to return to the real world, all of which is sloppily tied up in the sappy ending on Christmas morning.
Holly: “Do you think you could ever love me, even though I betrayed you to get the scoop I needed for my Big Magazine Article?”
Logan: “I thought you were an interior designer.”
Holly: “Oh. Right. Well, do you think you could ever love me even though I’m a mess but always somehow impeccably dressed?”
Logan: “Only if you can forgive me for that sleazy, sexist bet I made with my super rich best friend when I first met you but then changed my mind about once I got to know you.”
(passionate kiss set to rising music and an absurd amount of falling snow)
This holiday season, get ready for “A Cozy Covid Christmas.” Coming to a streaming service near you.
Excitedly announce you are having A Family Movie Night!
Wait for the cheers and applause that never come.
Watch as everyone immediately starts to argue about what to watch.
Calmly make a suggestion.
Get greeted by groans and dramatic tears.
Gently remind everyone this is supposed to be fun.
Argue some more.
Break up fist fight.
Argue some more.
Take weapon away from preschooler.
Let out primal maternal scream.
Make executive decision to watch a movie everyone has seen 576 times already.
Bring out snacks during opening credits.
Listen to complaints that it’s the wrong brand of root beer, no one likes popcorn anymore and can we order a pizza?
It’s all we have, when did that happen, no.
Listen to more groans and dramatic, loud protestations.
Start yelling back.
Now everyone is yelling.
Dog is barking.
Everyone is yelling at dog to stop barking.
Order stupid, dumb pizza.
Pause within first five minutes for Potty Break No. 1.
Answer first question about the basic plot of the movie they’ve seen 576 times already.
Politely ask kid who keeps repeating every line to stop repeating every line.
Start absentmindedly discussing the grocery list with partner.
Get shushed by kids.
Exchange look with partner and secretly do lewd gesture behind the children’s back.
Answer 12th question about the basic plot of the movie they’ve seen 576 times already.
Pause for Potty Break No. 3.
Shoot down request for more candy.
And more root beer.
And the popcorn no one likes anymore but is somehow all gone.
Remind kid who keeps repeating lines to stop, please.
Tell shusher kid to stop shushing repeater kid.
Break up “I can’t hear, shut up” wrestling match on floor.
Answer 33rd question about the basic plot of the movie they’ve seen 576 times already.
Pause for Potty Break No. 7.
Throw a pillow at the kid who won’t stop repeating every line and scream “knock it off!”
Pause movie so you can have family discussion on why that wasn’t actually child abuse.
Pause for Potty Break No. 12.
Sigh in relief that it’s finally over and you can stop stress eating pizza.
Watch end credits until the very, very end to prevent preschooler meltdown.
Practically hurl kids into their beds.
Begin the unnecessarily violent movie the adults have been wanting to watch forever.
Immediately pause and escort an escaped child back to their bed.
Jointly fall asleep 12 minutes in.
Wake up on couch unable to turn neck for the next three days.
Forget whole horrifying ordeal by day four because you do not brain good anymore ever since the children systematically killed off all decent remaining brain cells.
Repeat next week.