Sunday, October 31, 2010
Last weekend, my wife, Renee, and I attended the wedding of a colleague of mine from a former job. It was a lovely wedding. The groom and his groomsmen wore these spectacular tuxedoes complete with tails, canes, and top hats. The ring bearer was this dashing young man wearing the same type of outfit. He had long, shoulder length hair that curled underneath his top hat. For such a young man, he played his role with a great sense of protocol, chivalry, and decorum. Indeed, the only thing lovelier than the wedding was the bride (the aforementioned colleague).
The couple exchanged their vows and sealed their marriage with a kiss. Renee and I exited the church and congratulated the newly wedded couple. As we exited, the dashing young ring bearer presented each person with a vial. The vial contained bubble solution and a wand for blowing bubbles. In lieu of rice or bird feed, the bride and groom brilliantly decided to have everyone shower them with bubbles. After all, when people are in their absolute best, you really don't want to attract the attention of birds flying overhead. Renee and I went to the reception and enjoyed some pleasant conversation with the folks at our table (along with some great food). Eventually, Renee and I again congratulated the couple and headed home.
A couple of days later, I was sitting around the house and generally being annoyed by one of the four cats in our house. Those of you who know me (or read my previous writings) know that I am not exactly a cat lover. Cats, to me, provide little purpose other than a foot rest or a buffer for my shoes. I have tried to find some common ground so that the cats and I may peacefully coexist (often to little or no avail). However, on this particular day, I found one of the vials of bubble solution from my friend's wedding.
Let me just state that whoever it was that came up with the idea to market bubble solution was quite brilliant. Give the average enough bubble solution and the right wand, the same person can blissfully pass an entire day making bubbles and watching them disappear (only to make more). One is only limited to the amount of bubble solution and an intact wand. I believe that making bubbles can (at least temporarily) alleviate grief and lower crime rates. Think about it, if two dudes met each other on the street and sized up one another, they could start duking it out or they could make bubbles. Teenagers could vandalize a neighbor's car or make bubbles with the neighbor. In both scenarios, one choice will cause someone to get hurt or arrested (and provoke some type of insurance claim). The other choice provokes nothing more than smiles, amusement, and laughter. No one gets hurt. The crime rate and insurance premium go down. The world is a better place. But, I digress.
Anyway, I was sitting with this vial of bubble solution and decided to see if it could help me find some common ground with the cats. The cats could enjoy the bubbles with me and I would (temporarily) find them less irritating. I started making bubbles. One of the older cats, Snip immediately ran from the room as if he was avoiding a bubbly nuclear holocaust. However, the younger male, Sonic enthusiastically chased the bubbles and pawed at them at which they popped. At this point, Sonic would meow until I produced more bubbles. Eventually, I would stop and Sonic would get the point. Sonic would then go onto other means of entertainment such as sleeping.
This all seemed well and good until it became clear that I had created a monster. Now, instead of learning feline aerodynamics by doing the figure eight under my legs (knowing how much I hate that), the cat would just come up to me and stare me down. It started with the stare down and they he would begin his Marge Simpson meow (MMMMMMMMMMMM). If I did not start making bubbles by this point, he would actually open his mouth to meow. Renee, on the other hand, is the bubble enabler. She will see me yelling at the cat: LEAVE ME ALONE! At this point, Renee starts making bubbles and Sonic is once again content. Now, I just want to go to the toy store and find a wand that will make one of those enormous, gigantic bubbles and trap the cat inside it. Alas, I know if I did that, Sonic would just start meowing at me again once the bubble popped.
NOTE - The former colleague I spoke of in the beginning is none other than Megan Hartman Barton. Mrs. Barton is the founder of the blog "A Dash of Nutmeg". Please take the time to visit Megan's blog at http://www.dashofnutmeg.com/ and take in all of her wonderful recipes. Please be sure to congratulate Megan on her recent nuptials and tell her I sent you. - P Shane McAfee (founder of BDGJM)
Monday, October 18, 2010
I had the joy of visiting my doctor recently. During this visit, we got caught up the state of my mind and body since I had last seen my doctor some 8 months previously. She commented about my weight and asked if I felt that the reading was accurate. I made a comment that scales don't lie (in an effort to dismiss the subject). Her next question had the subtlety of 100 grit sandpaper: "Have you noticed your clothes have begun to fit more tightly?" My wife nodded in silent agreement. I felt like I was at a parent teacher conference being called out for passing notes in class. Except in this case, I was being called out for repeatedly asking someone to pass the gravy.
Along with this pleasant topic of conversation, my doctor made some adjustments in my medications. In the interest of being through, my doctor also scheduled me for a cardiac stress test. I have some mild anxiety over this forthcoming test but I was usually able to divert myself with other things: work, watching the Braves lose the wildcard playoffs after a good season, learning new chords on the mandolin, or preparing for two upcoming midterm exams. OK, maybe that last one wasn't the best way to avoid stress. Getting an F on one of these midterms is more stressful. After all, this will require that my wife and kids will have to meet with my teachers. I'd prefer not to be the only grounded parent in my neighborhood. In the days that followed, my wife caught a terrible cold. I did my best to keep my distance while proving her with a never ending supply of cold medicine and cough drops. My room reeked of eucalyptus. I had koala bears knocking on my door at 3 in the morning begging me to hook them up.
The day before the stress test, my wife got a phone call from the office performing the test. They said I could not eat for 4 hours prior to the test and I could not take my blood pressure medicine. I don't know about you but it was beginning to sound like they were stacking the deck against me. I was sure that any minute they were also going to feed me a fried bologna sandwich and make me sit in a sauna for 20 minutes before the test. This didn't happen which was sad. I rather enjoy fried bologna.
A cardiac stress test involves attaching enough wires to your body to become an antenna for the nearest college radio station then briskly walking on a treadmill. You start at a nice pace with no incline. As the walk continues, they increase the speed and the incline. During all of this, a nurse has a blood pressure cuff wrapped around your arm. This requires a lot of talent considering that you are walking and wired for sound (I think I hear the B-52's playing). So every minute or so, the nurse will say "30 more seconds on this level". Then, as you make your way up this imaginary hill and you feel as if your face will explode, the nurse inflates the blood pressure cuff on your arm to get another reading. I can only describe this part of the experience by saying I think I know what it feels like to be a zit.
The speed and incline got me to where I felt like I was racing my way to claim a prize at the top of Stone Mountain. It would have been true as I was really getting an urge for that fried bologna sandwich. The routine continued: "30 more seconds, Shane", another blood pressure reading, and my head feels like Mount Saint Helens. At this point, the treadmill slows down and the incline levels off. The nurse then takes off the leads which held the monitor wires (Darn, I was really digging that song). It is at this point that I should delicate point out that I am, shall we say, hirsute (i.e. hairy as an ape). I didn't really think of the repercussions at the beginning as the nurse was strategically shaving areas of my chest to place the leads. Now that the leads were off, I looked like aliens have made crop circles on my chest.
I left the office with my wife and I treated her to breakfast. Now, I know what you are thinking. So, let me just set the record straight. I DID NOT HAVE a fried bologna sandwich. After breakfast, I went home to relax and prepare for a midterm that was taking place that evening. As the day went on, I began to notice that my very generous wife had something waiting for me once I got home. She had given me her cold. Man, I had JUST gotten rid of those koalas, too.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
My mother was a very patient and accommodating woman going back as far as I can remember. I am the youngest of three children my parents brought into this world. Given that two siblings came before me, my mother had grown accustomed to the (seemingly) constantly inquisitive mind (and mouth) of a child. I was certainly no exception to this rule. I would ask my mother questions about whatever happened to pique my curiosity. My mother would respond matter-of-factly with an informative answer.
She would often do so without even having to stop whatever it was she was doing. Sometimes, she wouldn't even have to face me. We could be in the produce section of a grocery store. My mother would be diligently inspecting a cantaloupe for potential purchase. I would be behind her (but always within arm's reach). The conversation usually went like this: "Momma, what's that?" "It's an eggplant and don't touch, Honey." "Momma, is this a big potato?" "That's a rutabaga and don't touch." "Do roobagrabbah's taste good?" "It's a 'ROOT-uh-beg-uh' and they taste very good. They are also good for you." [Note: When Momma said it was good for me, it usually meant I wasn't going to like it.] "Is the purple egg thing good for you, too?" "Yes, eggplant is very good for you" [News Flash: I don't like eggplant either]. "What's this, Momma?" "It's a coconut and DON'T TOUCH!" We would continue to the meat counter, the dairy section, etc. etc. We even passed by a kid being reprimanded by his mother for breaking a dozen of unpaid eggs. I proudly and smugly informed him: You're NOT supposed to touch." "SHANE, THAT'S UGLY!" My mother would then firmly take my hand and lead me onto the bread section. Like I said, she was very patient.
This type of question-and answer was not limited to the grocery store. I could find my mother pounding cube steak with a glass soda bottle. It was loud and my mother was relentless. "Momma, why are you beating up on that steak?" "It helps to tenderize it and it tastes better that way." Another day, I was watching my mother iron some clothes. She would patiently and diligently iron this shirt and that pair of pants. "Momma, why do you iron stuff?" "It gets all the wrinkles out of them and they look nicer". Tender meat and wrinkle free clothes; Professor Momma was gonna make me one educated individual.
One day, I was sitting in the living room while watching a show on a very small black and white television set. [Some historical perspective: there were three channels, no color, and no cable. Somehow, we deprived souls enjoyed it. Anyway, I digress.] "Momma, how do the people get into the TV?" "There is a TV studio on the other side of town. They have a camera that records the people. The camera then sends the recording using a signal. The antenna in our TV catches the signal and you see the people in the TV." "You mean the signal travels through the sky like an airplane?" "In a way, yes." "What does the signal look like?" "It's invisible." "AMAZING!"
One morning my mother woke me up and said she had a special surprise for me. She got me dressed and made me breakfast. She then drove me to this really cool looking building with something that looked like a flying saucer outside it. My mother had taken me to the local television studio. Not only that, the special surprise was that I was going to be ON TV. That's right, people. I was a guest on "Miss Patsy's Playhouse" which was a local kiddie show in Columbus, Georgia in the early 70's. I learned that day that my Momma was not only smart enough to answer my questions. She was also talented enough to help me travel invisibly through the sky and into every TV set in Columbus, Georgia. Mr. Wonka, you have been one-upped to infinity.