This is a post from way back in November, 2008. I am a totally different person nowadays than I was then. JUST KIDDING I NEVER CHANGE I'M PERFECT. Things I added today are in red.
Of Pocket Breakfasts and Punishments
If I complain about the fact that McDonald's does not put prices on its drive-through menus, does that qualify me as one of those grumpy old-timers that are always leaning over a fence complaining to Dennis the Menace's dad?
Or, does it qualify me as a grumpy old-timer if I remember who "Dennis The Menace" is?
And, what was Dennis The Menace's dad's name? I'm guessing George. People in old-time comics and movies and TV shows were always named George.
The only reason I had to wonder about whether I'm a grumpy old man is because I had to stop at McDonald's to get breakfast on the way into "work" today. I had to stop for breakfast because there wasn't anything at home that I could eat for breakfast -- "eat for breakfast" meaning "put into my jacket pocket and carry out to the car where I will eat it while listening to The Hold Steady while sitting in traffic that is moving even slower than usual in an effort to make me even more frustrated than I usually am in the mornings."
That's how I usually eat my breakfast-- taking it out of my jacket pocket and eating it on the road on the way into work, because I don't have time to eat at home because my schedule is so hectic.
But today, there wasn't anything that I could eat for breakfast and I didn't realize that until just before I left, which was just after I came downstairs after getting dressed, carrying Mr Bunches with me. Mr Bunches had come with me upstairs after my shower, because while I am trying to pick out a tie-and-shirt combo for the day, Mr Bunches likes to climb on the bed and play with Sweetie's "Hello Kitty," which I don't mind because while "Hello Kitty" is kind of a girlish stuffed animal for a little boy to play with, I know that Mr Bunches is only playing with "Hello Kitty" in an effort to look as though he's not planning on getting up and jumping on the bed
This is the EXACT same thing I mentioned in the last Throwback Thursday post. Before you say "Hey, he's reusing the same plot over and over again," I will remind you that... no, , yeah, I am. Sorry. I'm a hack. Or at least I was back in 2008. NOWADAYS I AM OBVIOUSLY EXTREMELY TALENTED AS DEMONSTRATED BY THE WAY I ... no, still a hack. Sorry.
PS Also did you know that Hello Kitty is not a cat? Or a kitten? It's true. I didn't know that back in 2008. THE FUTURE IS THE GREATEST.
-- distracting me by appearing to innocently play with a stuffed animal until I get lost in thought trying to remember which of the two hangers full of ties is the "haven't worn recently" hanger -- my ties being divided between "haven't worn recently hanger" and "have worn recently, or at least have dropped on the floor and couldn't remember if I wore them recently so I put them on the have worn recently hanger."
I have to divide my ties that way, and rotate my sweaters and shirts and pants for work, because I don't want to be the guy who wears the same thing to the office everyday. Or even the "guy who wears the same thing to the office a lot." It's okay to have a favorite shirt that is worn all the time or a lot... if you're in third grade. It's not okay, if, like me, you had a maroon zip-up sweatshirt with a hood that you loved so much you wore it pretty much every day of the first two quarters of eighth grade, stopping only when Derek Van Orten one day in math class turned to you and said loudly "How come you wear that sweatshirt every day?"
It's extremely likely that my parents tried to stop me from doing that but I have ABSOLUTELY NO MEMORY of them trying to do so. Then again, I have ABSOLUTELY NO MEMORY of what I ate for breakfast today, so you can't trust my mind. You really can't. My mind just makes up memories now. Sweetie pointed out to me today that I not only didn't remember the details of an actual doctor's appointment I had taken Mr F to a few months back, but I had gone ahead and made up an entirely fake memory of a doctor's appointment that was similar to the actual, real-life one. But it was fake. This development is both cool and somewhat frightening, frightening because I kind of like the memories I have but cool because I'm pretty creative and so I'm excited to see what my mind comes up with for me to think I remember having done.
Ever since then, I'm sensitive about wearing clothes too often. I don't know what happened to Derek Van Orten but he might still be around and if I wear my blue shirt or my Curious George tie or my brown corduroys too often, he might pop up in our lobby and say "How come you wear that Darth Maul tie so often." I've worked hard to leave behind the horrors of eighth grade and I'm not going to let them come back.
Plus, other people think like Derek Van Orten did; I know they do, because I do. There's a guy in my office -- I'll call him "A Guy In My Office" -- who wears a certain shirt. A lot. And I notice it. And each time I see it, I think "Hey, he's wearing that shirt again." And if I think it, and Derek Van Orten thought it, then that's all the proof that I need to know that everybody is thinking like that, and therefore I need to rotate my shirts and ties and pants carefully, which is why it takes me so long to get dressed in the morning and why Mr Bunches can pretend to play with "Hello Kitty"
Can't go to that well enough, can I?
long enough to make sure I'm absorbed in trying to remember the last time I wore the yellow shirt and whether I wore it with the brown pants or the black pants, and when Mr Bunches realizes that my mind is entirely taken up with those questions, he begins jumping on the bed, which I can't let him do because I promised Sweetie that I would not, under any circumstances, let Mr Bunches jump on our bed.
Sweetie made me promise that a long time ago, after finding out that I routinely, on the days I was giving her a break from the Babies!, took them upstairs and let them jump on our bed while I cleaned the room or rotated my work clothes. So I promised her that I would prevent them from jumping on our bed, and then, because marriage is all about compromise, I let them jump on Middle's bed, instead.
Mr Bunches likes to come upstairs with me because he gets very attached to me in the mornings. So attached that on many mornings, I brush my teeth and shower in the downstairs shower listening to two things: Sports radio on the blue boombox I bought from Oldest years ago, and Mr Bunches complaining outside the bathroom door because I'm in there instead of hanging out with him while I do exercises or watch CNN Headline News with him, as I was just a few minutes before.
That's what we do when we first get downstairs in the morning, after I get them up and get them dressed. I get them up and get them dressed while Sweetie takes a bath and gets ready for the day; she can't start that until The Boy and Middle are ready for school themselves, and they're not ready, ever, until 7 a.m., which is also the time that I go get the Babies! up and get them dressed. I try to greet them in a cheery, upbeat, fashion, like I did this morning, when I woke them up by opening their door and announcing that it was "Time To Get Up" and then treating them to a Daddy-fied version of "I See You Baby," the Fatboy Slim/Groove Armada song that really is not appropriate for singing to two-year-olds at 7 a.m. while you're waking them up... but it becomes, maybe, a little more appropriate, if, like I did, you sing it to them, as I did, while shaking their butts as you lift them out of their cribs.
OH MY GOD I DID NOT EVEN REMEMBER THAT SONG EXISTED UNTIL I READ THIS AGAIN AND NOW I WANT TO DO NOTHING BUT LISTEN TO THAT SONG. 2008 ME, YOU HAD PERFECT TASTE IN MUSIC.
I replace certain words with the word "butt" or "thing." See? Appropriate. And fun. The Babies! did not see it that way, though. It put Mr F in a bad mood almost instantly, a bad mood I dealt with by leaving him in his crib to complain while I tried to get Mr Bunches to sit on his potty chair. That's harder than it sounds; Mr Bunches acts as though the potty chair is made of electrified barbed wire. He will sit quietly while I take off his slippers and sleeper and diaper and then he will calmly watch me or the TV as I pick him up, and then I will try to sit him on the potty chair, only to have him go rigid and levitate just above the seat while wiggling around until he falls to one side or the other of the chair and scrambles onto my lap, where he again calms down again. In the past week, I've gotten Mr Bunches to actually touch the potty chair only once.
Mr F does a little better on that, but only because Mr F thinks it's funny that I sit him on the potty chair and give him advice. "Sit down and go Psssssst!" I tell him, and he makes the sound back at me: Pssssst! (We add the "t" on the end to keep it family-friendly.) Then he'll tell me his other words, which this morning were "Yuck," "Guck," and "Color," and, once dressed, we all head downstairs while Sweetie (who's generally been helping me with that stuff) heads off to take a bath.
Once downstairs, Mr Bunches is, as I said, never ready to begin his day and clings to me while I try to begin my own day in any way that does not involve picking up cereal. It never works, and I always end up with pockets of cereal.
I end up that way because each day, Sweetie gets the boys' breakfasts ready so that when I take them downstairs to our family room I can give them each their cereal and their milk cup so they can then they sit peacefully on the couch and watch while I watch the news and do my morning stretches and exercises...
I'm not sure which 'exercise' program I was attempting at the time, but it sounds almost completely ineffective. My current exercise program, after I recently went on a diet for 30 hours, is to walk three times a week. This is how that went this week: Saturday, I walked 20 minutes on a treadmill at a reasonable pace and then had an asthma attack and had to quit. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today I clicked the little reminder that I was supposed to go for a 30-minute walk over to the next day. Tomorrow I will probably take the boys to the pool. AM I HEALTHY YET?
... only it never works that way. Mr Bunches never wants to do that, at all. He's okay with watching Headline News, and he's okay with me doing my stretches and exercises, so long as I do not put him down. So I don't; I stretch my calves and my neck and my legs and I do my sit-ups all while Mr Bunches is hanging around my neck; he laughs and only occasionally strangles me just a little bit, and I theoretically get stretched out and warmed up for the day and also learn how to do so with periodic interruptions in my airflow.
Mr F sometimes joins us in the workout, sitting on my chest while I do sit-ups, but more often than not, he ignores me and Mr Bunches and the TV entirely in order to focus on his main task, which is spreading cereal around on the floor so that wherever you walk in our family room, you hear the crackling, crunching sound of Lucky Charms and Teddy Grahams underfoot. It sounds kind of like walking through a forest in the fall, if you were walking through the forest with a two-year-old clinging to your neck and if the forest had CNN Headline News on in the background and if the forest had not leaves but marshmallows that stuck to your foot, and if, occasionally, in that forest, you were walking and minding your own business with your two-year-old clinging to you, and while you were walking and minding your own business in that forest, suddenly a DVD from the shelf got flung at your head for no reason whatsoever. That kind of forest is what our family room is like in the morning.
Mr F's activity this morning in fact slowed me down a little and caused me to be running late, since today he decided to move beyond simply taking a piece of cereal and then dropping it randomly, and instead grabbed the whole bowl and threw it in the air. Being the kind of parent who thinks that discipline and a Lucky-Charms-Free carpet are equally important,
I long ago gave up on both. Now I try to just get a good night's sleep.I immediately gave Mr F a time out for 60 seconds (this being a major infraction). But Mr F being two, a time out is only a time out if I physically hold him in place for the entire length of the time out, so I had to sit him on the big chair and hold him there, while he complained for the entire sixty seconds in which he was held motionless from the waist down (his upper half never stopped moving.) Then, I made him help me pick the cereal up. "Help" in this context means "I held onto his hand while he tried desperately to squirm away, and with my other hand I picked up the cereal bits one at a time," with Sweetie's help because by that time.
That is, to this day, how we have to punish Mr F. I'm pretty sure one of these days it'll start working.
Sweetie had finished her bath and was down helping me out, so I could release Mr F from his "punishment," take my shower to the accompaniment of Sports Center and Mr Bunches complaining because I had put him down, then take Mr Bunches upstairs with me where I divided my time between trying to keep him from bouncing on the bed and selecting an outfit I hadn't worn recently, which I finally did, and I grabbed Mr Bunches and headed back downstairs to drop him with Sweetie and grab my Pocket-Breakfast and head out, only then to realize that there was nothing to make for Pocket Breakfast -- no breakfast strudels or pop tarts or French Toast sticks or anything else that could be easily toasted, put in a paper towel and pocketed until midway through my drive.
So I decided I would treat myself and stop at McDonald's to get a McGriddle, but it wasn't until I was in line at the Drive-Through that I thought to check how much money I actually had on me, and I only had four dollars on me. I'm not complaining, as such, because for me to have four actual cash dollar bills on me is pretty unusual and made me feel pretty rich, overall.
I don't use cash anymore. I can't remember when I last had cash. Sweetie tried to give me cash for gas money this week and I wouldn't take it. Cash is for drug dealers and Russian oligarchs. This is 2014. We use plastic money.
Generally, I have no cash on me, and even less in my bank account. The kids still remember the time I checked my account balance, only to find that I had sixteen cents in my account.
(The Bank's automated teller made it even funnier for them. It says, in an authoritative voice: Your current account balance is [dramatic pause] SIXTEEN CENTS. Your available balance is[DRAMATIC PAUSE] SIXTEEN CENTS." They loved it.)
So four dollars was great, except that I had no idea how much anything cost at McDonald's and I had no chance to find out, because there's only the one menu and it's the one right by the speaker, so by the time I could read the menu to try to find out how much anything was, I also was at the speaker and the Speaker Voice was saying "Welcome to McDonalds can I take your order?"
I tried doing the slow-talk thing while I scanned the menu, saying "Yes... um... I... will... have..." but all I saw on the menu were Arctic Orange shakes and Happy Meals, neither of which seemed like the kind of thing I should be getting at 8 a.m.,
OK Honestly? They seem like exactly the thing I want a 8 a.m. but I didn't because: society.and I couldn't find McGriddles anywhere on the menu. I paused and thought Should I just ask how much a McGriddle is? But I couldn't bring myself to do that. It just seemed... wrong to ask for a price check on a McGriddle. And what if she said a price that was too high, more than the $4 I had? I'd be exposed, in front of however many people eventually heard the story, as The Guy Who Couldn't Afford A McGriddle. That's the message that would be sent -- ask how much it is, and she'd say a price, and then I'd say "Well, just a hash brown," and the rest of the day, the rest of my life, they'd be talking about it. "There was this guy," they'd say, "And he came through the drive-through and he didn't even have enough for a McGriddle" and everyone else would laugh and feel superior to me. I just didn't want to start my day that way.
So I took a chance. "Just a Sausage McGriddle sandwich," I told the Speaker Voice. Then, seeing that they had "Value Meals," I added. "That's all. Just a McGriddle Sandwich. Nothing else with it. Just the sandwich."
There was a pause, during which I imagined that the Speaker Voice was telling everyone else in the restaurant "Hey, check this guy out -- he can't afford a Value Meal," but she came back on and said it was $3.15, and I had no way of knowing whether or not that was right, but I did know that I could afford it, so I paid and got my Just A Sausage McGriddle No Meal With It, and headed off to "work," nine hours of time that will probably turn out to be the least stressful part of my day.
That seems like it ended kind of abruptly. I even went to check the original post to see if there was more but no, there wasn't. I probably should have made another reference to Hello Kitty.