Blog: Skewed Views & News


Kate the Great

Sick of all the Royal Wedding hype deluging the media these days? Not me. To be honest, I can’t wait for the big day. Not because I’m a hopeless romantic or a fan of the Royal Family.

I’m simply a hopeless fan of Her Royal Hottness, Kate.

The British tabloids have unfairly referred to her as “commoner” Kate Middleton, but this uncommonly gorgeous woman deserves props for her seemingly down-to-earth manner, as well as her breath-taking beauty. She may be a princess-in-waiting, but there’s little princess in her attitude.

Word is she and her fiancé Prince William have no plans to employ servants beyond their security detail. That means no personal chef, butler or valet at their North Wales farmhouse. She also has been spotted shopping in grocery stores like the rest of us, presumably to prepare home-cooked meals to share with her dude. How common! How refreshing! How hot!

In a world filled with narcissistic Hollywood royalty (Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hilton), it’s refreshing to see a real princess who doesn’t act like one – someone who as a mother might actually wake up at 3 a.m. to calm down and clean up her projectile vomiting infant, rather than dispatching a nanny or personal assistant.

Considering the future Queen of England will now become a media fixture likely for the rest of my life, I’m so glad the images we’ll be bombarded with will be of a hottie, not haughty, Majesty.

God save the Queen (to be)!

April's Fools, all year long

Even though the college years are a few decades behind me and my friends, our taste in practical jokes, pranks and crotch-grabbing humor has never graduated. As charter members of the Accidental Adult club, my buddies and I subscribe to the philosophy that harmlessly punking your friends shouldn’t be reserved for April 1st, especially when life’s responsibilities pull us perilously closer to adult assimilation damn near every day of the year.

So if your grown-up life has you feeling more mature than you’d like, try any one of these activities, inspired by my maturity-challenged college friends. I think you’ll find yourself back down on more comfortable, familiar ground in no time.

Cozy Cruising

To play, you get two guys to agree to share the front seat of a car with you for a spin around town. Very important note: You want to be the passenger next to the window. Why? When the car approaches a woman, you tell the driver to honk the horn to get her attention. When she looks up to see who’s admiring her, you duck down to the floor, leaving your buddies as the only two visible occupants of the car—a waving driver and his middle-seat passenger who appear to be on a very cozy date.

Phony Phone Messages

Long before Bart Simpson started prank calling Moe’s Tavern, my group of friends used similar tactics to embarrass each other, especially during the first years of our entry-level careers. We found that nothing says “professionalism” quite like the experience of rushing through a hectic day at work only to have a colleague interrupt your meeting to say you have an urgent call from Dick Fitzenwell. Or that Phil McCracken says he’s running late for your lunch with Jocelyn Peters. Amazingly, these never get old.

She’s So Looking at You, Dude

Years ago, we thought nothing of flirting with the server at our favorite bar or asking her, “Which one of us do you think is the most attractive?” Fortunately, marriage has matured most of us to the point where we now participate in safer games—like convincing a friend that a woman is checking him out when evidence (or lack thereof) would suggest otherwise. Here’s how to do it. When he returns from the bathroom, tell your target that the brunette by the pool tables tracked him the whole way. Or when the cute server leaves after taking the table’s order, simply offer up a, “Well, I know who’s getting his food first! Did you see how she brushed up against you when she collected the menus?” You’ll find it takes surprisingly little effort to confound his logic, falsely boost his ego and entertain your friends, especially if the victim so desperately wants to believe he’s still legit, ‘yo.

All of this reminds me . . . Next Guy’s Movie Night I’ve got to trace another obscenity onto the dusty driver’s-side door of my buddy’s SUV. He’s a 41-year-old married man, and he drives a blue Chevy Tracker. How can you blame me?
 

Lighten up. It's National Goof Off Day.

Some holidays should never end.

I’m not talking about Christmas, the Fourth of July or even the increasingly popular Halloween (which now features the increasingly uncomfortable Adult Costume Party).

Today is National Goof-Off Day. It’s not exactly a big-ticket holiday, but in a world filled with super-serious adults, this is the day we should celebrate 365 days a year.

Especially assimilated adults.

You know these people – the ones who embrace the responsibilities of adulthood without fearing the inevitable loss of a joyous, youthful soul. Assimilated adults resign themselves to lives of responsibility, serious endeavors and a sensible wardrobe. They check their smoke alarm batteries twice a year. They know what kind of gas mileage their cars get. They know what they pay in property taxes (every year). These are the adults who understand what society expects of them and do the right things the right way. Goofing off? They wouldn’t dream of it.

But some of us join the world of adults kicking and screaming. We are accidental adults: those whose age indicates maturity but whose approach to life often suggests otherwise. We are reluctant grownups who refuse to accept we’re just like every other chump with credit card debt and an aching lower back. When we look in the mirror, the person we see staring back is decades younger and way cooler. We may spend an hour researching the best place to meet for a happy hour—you know, someplace not too noisy, with adequate restroom facilities and convenient parking. But the point is, we still go, while many other adults hurry home to finish that drop ceiling in the new rec room. Are they conscientious? Absolutely. Fun? You tell me.

For accidental adults, National Goof-Off Day is observed year ‘round. We give our kids scooter rides (at low speeds) through our neighborhoods. We occasionally run through a grocery store, sprinting down the aisles and jumping onto the shopping cart’s lower-shelf to glide for a while. We don’t just blather about getting the band back together. We’ve reunited the boys already. Now get in the garage!

Goofing off is our way of telling the world to lighten up every now and then. But it doesn’t make us irresponsible. We accidental adults have successful relationships and careers. In all we do, we strive to master the art of caring less without becoming careless.

I’m willing to bet that a psychiatrist would tell me my perspective on adulthood is really just a coping mechanism to avoid the crushing reality that I’m a married man responsible for a mortgage, three young kids and replacing the furnace filter regularly. Could be. And I suppose I’ll get a therapist someday soon like assimilated adults and find out for certain.

But in the meantime, I’m comfortable knowing that I’m in good, goofy company. Because every day I see evidence of other accidental adults like me— people my age who are capable, working professionals whose personal heroes are Tommy Lee and Chris Farley. People who can spew Caddyshack quotes verbatim. People who can’t taste the difference between a Cabernet or a Chianti, so they grab a Corona and look for a lime instead.

And the best part is, we really don’t care. Why? Because we know life is too short to worry about succumbing to adult convention at every opportunity. Acting our age doesn’t have to mean losing our cool. Take it from the kid whose quest to take a day off was immortalized on film 25 years ago. Anyone? Anyone?

Yep. Ferris Bueller.

In honor of National Goof Off Day, I say Ferris Bueller’s approach to life shouldn’t be dismissed as a transgression of our youth. What’s wrong with embracing it today? Checking in with our inner adolescent reconnects us to a wonderful, carefree and thrilling spirit that nourishes our soul. It’s a beautiful thing to throw a little caution to the wind, goof off, act young at heart and play hooky from life every now and then—so long as you know when it’s time to check out of that addictive yet unsustainable mindset and rejoin the grownup world again.

So let’s take the Ferris Bueller philosophy and apply it to our adult lives whenever life gets too serious, complicated or demanding. How can we possibly be expected to handle life/work/parenting/home improvements on a day like this? The school-skipping, life-living character in the film put it best when he observed, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

An attitude like that is worth embracing all year long.

How did you know, Mexico?

If mind-readers really exist, I think they reside in droves south of our border. At every turn during my family’s five-day Mexican resort vacation (generously comped by my time-share owning in-laws), someone, somewhere, was always a step ahead of me.

So in appreciation for all of Mexico’s remarkable foresight anticipating my every need, I say “gracias.”

To Natasha – the bronzed twenty-something activities director: How did you know I needed a shot of tequila squirted into my mouth as I played pool volleyball? Was it because I sprang from my poolside recliner and jumped into the pool to frantically join the game already in progress when I saw you wading through the shallow end towards the players, armed with two bottles of liquid gold? Just call me Señor Suave, please.

To the resort’s interior designers who shunned carpet: I know tropical locations virtually require the room-cooling effects provided by stone or ceramic-tile flooring. But how did you know wall-to-wall terracotta tile would make a midnight clean-up effort so easy for me, after my eight-year-old son emptied his stomach full of churros onto your floors? (Twice.) I will envy your good planning sense next flu season in my carpeted Minnesota home.

To the bartender who worked the daily two-for-one happy hours: How did you know I required a lesson in math? (I usually do.) When I ordered TWO margaritas during the two-for-one special and you brought me FOUR (and tried to charge me for FOUR), you noticed the bewilderment on my face and kindly informed me, “If you want TWO margaritas you should only order ONE.” Nothing confusing about that, right? And thank you for not snickering whenever I ordered the accidental adult drink special: a Corona with lime. So cliché, I know.

To the relentless swarm of souvenir peddlers, roaming the beach: I had a drink in my hand, my toes in the sand and was half asleep listening to the gentle surf rolling in, completely at peace with the world. So how did you know that I was in the perfect frame of mind to buy a hand-carved wooden moose? Or an NFL throw rug? Or a leather belt? Or a fedora? Such marketing savvy! Why didn’t you also capitalize on the 30-second opportunity as I stood at the urinal in the beachside cabana, and like most men, realized at just that moment I really needed to buy some wind chimes and a kite. You missed a sale, amigo!

To the resort planners who built an on-site grocery store: You knew eating at restaurants three times a day, five days in a row, can quickly become a pricey prospect for the average middle-class family of five. You also knew that convenience is critical to the American consumer. So offering an on-site grocery store stocked with the basic food staples? That’s sheer brilliance. But how did you know that price gouging your customers by upcharging every item at about three times the typical U.S. value would work so effectively on desperate vacationers like us? Pricing a 14-ounce box of Lucky Charms cereal at the equivalent of nine U.S. dollars? Well, that’s just magically delicious.

To the heavenly Mexican sun: Scientists tell us that a singular hydrogen star shines upon all corners of our planet. So how did you know that they were lying? Thank you for temporarily drop-kicking the anemic, scrawny and utterly feeble Minnesota sun into another solar system and instead replacing it with your sizzling, fiery radiance. Burn, yo!

So how did you know, Mexico?

Maybe that’s a question best contemplated for another day – mañana. Right now I’m too busy shaking sand out of my beach-reading material, Stuff White People Like. Who knew an accidental adult would drop his book into the sand so often while falling asleep? Guess I’ll blame that on Natasha’s prescient mid-day refreshments.

Adios y gracias, Mexico!

Weather wimp

This might be sacrilege for any Minnesotan to admit, but I’m going to say it.

I’m an indoorsman.

To anyone who knows me, that’s hardly news. But what might be surprising to some is that I spent a considerable part of my youth participating in outdoor activities. I grew up in Central Wisconsin where fishing, four-wheeling and exploring the woods were inevitable and inescapable fair-weather activities. And in wintertime, like all the kids in my neighborhood, I learned how to layer before heading out onto the frozen tundra of my backyard to build ice castles and snow forts that possessed little to no structural integrity (an unhandyman in training!).

Even as a young adult I found myself outdoors more often than I’d like to admit. The reason? The college I attended is nestled amid a range of bluffs within the Mississippi River Valley, and for a few semesters I occasionally dated a socially conscious earth muffin who was into all that outdoorsy bullshit. So naturally I pretended I knew the ins and outs of nature while we were hiking in the hills and taking hand-in-hand strolls along the creeks –presuming there would be warmer activities taking place indoors afterwards.

Today, as a reluctant grown-up, I can even begrudgingly admit that some of my region’s natural, scenic landscapes truly are breathtaking. But my shortness of breath is mostly because of the frigid temperatures that frame Minnesota’s four seasons: Nearly Winter, Winter, Still Winter and Road Construction.

As much as I’d appreciate clarity on why millions (including myself) choose to live in such a cold climate, I’d really rather gain some insight into perhaps the single most patently absurd and bizarre outdoor activity known to man.

Ice fishing.

The only thing that perplexes me more than shivering inside an ice shack while staring down a hole in the ice (hoping a fish might tug at your line) is parking a two-ton pickup truck on that temporarily frozen lake. I know . . . I know. I can hear the adults chastising me already with, “If you check the ice frequently and observe local climate conditions, a variety of ice activities can be very safe!” But I’ve got a better idea that virtually guarantees your ice safety at all times:

Stay the hell off of frozen lakes!

If more people heeded this advice, we’d have fewer vehicles resting on the bottoms of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. Yet every spring, I shake my head while watching television news reports of trucks sinking through the ice and interviews with dismayed ice fishermen who seem genuinely surprised at their misfortune. These predictable events typically prompt the following annual exchange between me and a few of my friends. Can you tell who is who?

Rational Indoorsman: “He parked his pickup on a lake!”

Outdoor Apologist: “Don’t be too hard on the guy. Yesterday that part of the lake had ten inches of new, clear ice.”

Rational Indoorsman: “But he parked his pickup on a lake!”

So what’s the cold reality behind my outdoor aversion? In a word . . . climate. The Midwest’s weather and habitat are the most frequent deterrents to any enjoyment I might otherwise glean from the great outdoors. I’d be willing to bet I could become an avid outdoors enthusiast if my nearby natural setting were a sandy beach along a roaring ocean with daytime temperatures that rarely dip below sixty degrees. I’d be the first one out the door each morning for a jog down the beach and the last one inside at night after searching the sands for seashells or ocean life.

Instead, I live in a locale where you have to go inside ice rinks to warm up during the winter, and where the children spend the summers exploring mosquito-breeding ponds in search of frogs and salamanders. Many have told me I live in God’s Country, and that I should embrace my surroundings. “Love it or leave it!” they say, (and these are my friends). I’m sincerely glad my neighbors’ rose-colored glasses provide them with this positive perspective, and I readily admit to being a weather wimp.

But they can have these steely blue waters and towering pine trees any day of the week. Just give me four walls, a roof and a thermostat please. You can even throw in a large picture window from which I can comfortably observe nature in all its wonder. Because for me, the outdoors is where the deer and the antelope play – and that sounds to me like the perfect setting for contracting Lyme disease.

And the indoors? Well, it’s cleaner, it’s warmer and it just plain smells better in here too.
 

My coach approach

One weekend not too long ago, my eight-year-old son Finn concluded his third consecutive year of playing basketball in a Saturday morning youth athletics league. That weekend also marked another milestone. It was the third year in a row my wife Kelly did not ask me, “How about you coach his team next year?”

She knows me too well.

I subscribe to the theory that successfully playing to your strengths also requires avoiding your weaknesses. And for me, there’s a long list of activities to avoid, chief among them being anything that combines competitive athletics and mentoring other people’s children.

So it’s little surprise that year after year I strategically escape the clutches of one of the most common volunteer traps known to man—the youth athletics coach.

Believe me when I say that, for the right person, this hobby can be a satisfyingly selfless gift of time to offer community youth. But for me, it’s just not suited to my skills. Here’s why.

Materials Needed

Uniforms: At some levels of youth competition, some adult coaches have been known to don an adult-sized version of their team’s uniform. Trouble is, many of these uniforms appear to be exact replicas, right down to the youth medium size. Better run a few more laps with the team before squeezing into that costume.

A multipassenger vehicle: Invariably (and unfortunately) you’ll need as many available seats in your vehicle as possible at the end of nearly every practice when an absent-minded accidental adult parent fails to pick up his kid on time.

Playbooks and rulebooks: Both are considered must reads, especially for an accidental adult who’s decided on coaching. For example, in a beginner’s football playbook, the offense is usually depicted as Os and the defense as Xs. Telling your team that an easy way to remember the difference is by thinking of Os as hugs and Xs as kisses won’t resonate very well, unless your players are already receiving sugary-sweet text messages from fourth-grade girls. XOXOXO! Likewise, a well-written basketball rulebook will explain that when the referee blows the whistle, stops the game and signals a letter “T” in your direction, after you’ve simply offered him your glasses, he’s not granting you a time-out. (Well, in a way . . .)

Necessary Skills

Patience: I really admire volunteer coaches, yet I hold no illusions of ever learning from their examples. Nearly every successful coach I’ve ever met has been gifted with a patience gene not found in my genetic code. Good for them. Not so good for me. (Or for my kids.)

Restraint: When you coach children, you’re going to see a lot of goofy and sloppy behavior. Adult conduct, however, requires you to call juvenile players by their real names and not by the more colorful and accurate descriptors that naturally pop into your head, like Flopper Boy or Concussion Kid or Freeballer or Mr. Stumbles.

Time Required

Nearly every Saturday morning of your life, robbing you of precious REM time. This alone is a deal killer for many chronically fatigued accidental adults like me for whom rest is golden and sleep is sacred.

Before Beginning, Ask Yourself . . .

If I can barely concentrate long enough to finish a driveway game of H-O-R-S-E with my son, how can I legitimately ask 12 hyperactive boys to keep their heads in the game for 30 consecutive minutes?

Don’t Be Surprised If . . .

Your kids’ coaches ask you to help assistant-coach a game or two. Such is the level of desperation at this level of athletics.

Be Sure to Tell People . . .

“You know that trick play where the first baseman pretended to throw the ball to the pitcher and then tagged out the runner as he led off toward second base? That was my call, not coach’s.” (If the umpire rules that stunt unfair at the Little League level, it was the coach’s decision—and so bush league.)

So for now, I’m going to keep playing to my strengths, avoid life’s unnecessarily competitive situations and let the intentional adults play coach to my kids. Count on me to bring the postgame snack.

Kids still eat peanut butter cookies, right?
 

Dinner parties: Dos and don'ts

Nothing separates the real adults from the accidental adults quite like entertaining. By now most of us probably know which fork to use with our salad. But deep down many still feel out of place in the world of hospitality. Especially reluctant grownups like me.

That’s why I’m glad I have friends like Mike and Katie.

Last weekend, this super cool couple hosted a small dinner party with all the elegance and skill of culinary professionals, but without the pretentiousness that too often accompanies these events. Sure there was an orange soup thingy, multiple plates, bowls and utensils . . . The evening even featured a polite accusation that I took a bite out of Katie’s dessert while she was busy in the kitchen. I categorically deny such claims, although it is true I ate the last three bites of filet from my generous neighbor’s plate. (Relax. She was full, and it was consensual. I’m not a complete cad.)

It’s too bad Mike and Katie’s judgment-free dinner parties aren’t the norm. Sadly, too many accidental adults are left fending for themselves, wondering how to properly party with professional adults who have graduated beyond Jäger shots and keggers.

Well, I say forget about Emily Post’s etiquette and instead allow me to offer you a few tips for navigating a dinner party comprised largely of adult strangers or new acquaintances – all while keeping your inner adolescent well nourished. Who knows? You might even end up becoming the life of the party—without having to put a lampshade on your head.

The Table Setting

If your hosts’ fine china is so fine that you’re scared silly to look at it, let alone eat off of those platinum-trimmed plates, just relax. You probably won’t be asked (or allowed) to clear the table at the end of the evening. Take a seat, and take these cues:

Do Don't
Openly admire the elegant tableware. But be sure to clearly enunciate when you tell the hostess her china looks great tonight.
 
Announce you’d like to sell your wife’s tableware on eBay, since she only uses it once a decade.                            
 
Toast the host with gratitude for a classy evening. Smack your crystal champagne flute with your neighbor’s and offer a hearty “bottom’s up.”
 
Compliment the hostess on the centerpiece she chose, especially if its height effectively blocks your sightline across the table from any undesirable guest you were hoping to avoid. Attempt to eat the centerpiece’s plastic fruit or ask “so who gets this thing after tonight?”
 

 

The Meal

Okay, you’ve survived seven hours of painful predinner conversation numbed only by the limited number of cocktails your spouse allowed you to enjoy (despite your pronouncement in the car ride to the party that tonight you’re getting really messed up). Dinner is about to be served. It’s go time.

Do Don't
Eat everything you’re offered, no matter how unusual it seems.                       Ask the hostess to warm up your soup that’s gone cold. It’s gazpacho, Señor Suave.                     
 
Switch to drinking the alcohol being served at the table. Bring your half-empty can of Coors Light to the table, along with an unopened backup. 
Swallow the fat. Gag (if you can help it). 

 

The Conversation

You don’t need a reminder that religion and politics are taboo topics. But isn’t it trite to talk about work or the weather? So what do you share in conversations with complete strangers that won’t expose you for the accidental adult that you are? Let’s talk . . .

Do Don't
Politely agree with everything that’s said or play devil’s advocate as necessary in order to keep the conversation flowing in a way that keeps others talking, so you can
continue eating.
Overshare. That means no tales about your medical history, your pending court date (no matter how trumped up the charges are), or your hygiene habits, unless you enjoy awkward silences.                  
 
Nod often and gaze wistfully into space to demonstrate thoughtful contemplation when participating in complex conversations with
intelligent people.
Become too eager to interrupt those conversations with agreements of “I know” or “Exactly.” It’s possible your conversation partner could stop talking and ask you to share what it is you know, exactly.
Make safe observational comments about other guests that demonstrate your awareness of their positive characteristics, like, “You’re clever! Are you in advertising?” or “You’re really well informed! What are you reading these days?” Say, “You’re not drinking! Are you the designated driver?” or “You’re really starting to show now! When is the baby due?” Guess what? The alcoholic and the woman who gained weight after her hysterectomy won’t be impressed by your keen observations.
 

Just remember – with some forced patience, posturing and proficiency you really can survive your high-stakes dinner party with your dignity and sanity intact.

Even if you’re accused of biting your hostess’s cookie. (Falsely.)

An open letter to Winter

Dear Winter:

You bastard.

So you decide this is the year you’ll make a little more noise than usual – delivering your biggest blast in decades, dropping historic snowfalls and blowing arctic air across the country.

Aren’t you a big shot?

Hey America! Winter here. Remember me? Well, I promise you won’t soon forget me. This year, I think I’m going to routinely delay flights, strand travelers, snarl traffic, interrupt power supplies and close schools. Just because I can!

That’s just plain cold.

I get it. The joke’s on me. But you’re not funny. In fact, you’ve physically hurt me. I’m a relatively young man cursed with a lower back that’s mechanically equivalent to an 82-year-old woman’s spine. Yet you’ve unbuckled your arctic belt, dropped trou and relentlessly dumped multiple feet of heavy, wet snow onto my driveway, forcing me to shovel, snowblow and strain my L4 and L5 vertebrae all the way to hell and back. And if that wasn’t enough, you tease us with hopes of an early spring after some stupid groundhog fails to see his shadow?

I’m not falling for it.

You send me up to my roof trying not to slip to my death while I shovel your white wrath and chip away at ice dams. You make me late for work as I huddle with my shivering children in the driveway waiting for the delayed school bus. You cost me money when my son needs replacement snow pants. (Sure, he’s the one who lost them, but that’s still on you.) Instead of motivating me to venture out into the cold night for a warm evening spent with friends, you sap my energy and force me to seek the solace and cozy comforts of my family room’s couch, robbing me of what little social life I have. And for this introvert, that’s saying a lot.

So, I’m giving you the finger right now. Both hands. But you can’t tell, can you? Leering through my frost-covered windows only gives you a blurry vision of some fuming dude bundled up inside, typing on his laptop. Well let me be clear. I’m saying “Up yours!” and “Go to hell!” through the convenient sleeve openings of my Snuggie blanket, as emphatically as I can.

I know I chose to live in the Midwest. In fact, for years I yearned to leave Central Wisconsin and move to big-time Minneapolis/St. Paul. But those were the delusional dreams of a small town teenage boy who thought he wouldn’t mind your annual visits for the rest of his life. He’d be too busy working for Prince’s Paisley Park Studios, writing promo copy during the day and catching unannounced marathon jam sessions at night. The demented thinking of an accidental adult in training, I know.

But please remember, I am different than other Midwesterners. I’m not one of those brave or hearty souls who chooses to embrace your icy grip. I can’t ice skate. I don’t ski. I won’t sled with the kids unless significantly guilted to do so.

I’m not taking your lemons and making frozen lemonade.

Instead, I’m a weather wimp who’s California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day. When I close my eyes at night, I pray you’re gone in the morning. Yet, like that inebriated college buddy who routinely crashed on my couch for much of my early 20s, you’re there every morning, showing no signs of moving on anytime soon.

Can’t you take a hint? Get the hell out of my hemisphere! Go crash that summer bash those Australians are enjoying right now, and tell your buddy Spring to blow over to North America, pronto!

Winter, you started this. But I’m going to finish it. I’m determined to somehow save enough money to escape your wrath someday. January, February and March in Minnesota offer nothing of value to me. Therefore, once I have procured sufficient funds, I hereby resolve to depart Twin Cities International every New Year’s Day and return every April Fool’s Day. Where I reside in between isn’t of concern to you. Let’s just say I’ll be chillin’ out in a much different way than you’d know how. Consider this escape plan my way of saying what I really think about you . . .

You can bite me. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Insincerely,

Colin Sokolowski, St. Paul, Minn.
P.S. Don’t get me started on hockey either.

Super Sunday

As millions prepare to host or attend Super Bowl parties across the U.S., I’m reminded of a story I recently heard that suggested Europeans loathe watching important soccer matches in large groups. As my friend put it, “They’d rather stay at home to watch sports solitarily and really absorb what’s going on in the game.”

I’m not sure what European country he was referring to, but if that’s true, I think I’d like to move there.

Like most accidental adults, I have a hard time following the intricacies of a football game when in the company of moderate to large crowds. That’s why The Super Bowl House Party annoys me more than any other gathering all year long.

After five months of keeping up with my favorite team and the breakdowns from other teams around the league, the last thing I want to do during the definitive game of the season is to share the experience over the din of men’s shouting, women’s shrieking and children’s complaining — all while standing in a corner for four hours holding a soggy plate of bean dip and chips.

If you find yourself in this unenviable position, cue your smart-ass inner monologue survival skills to muddle through these inevitably unavoidable situations.

COMMERCIAL LOVER

Woman: “I guess I’m a bit unusual. I watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials!”
Outward response: “That’s really unique!”
Inner monologue: Yes, you and about every one of the other 150 million women in America!

She’s obviously out of her element here, which is a feeling any accidental adult can routinely relate to in most circumstances. So just punt. Ask her which commercial she liked best, and when she mentions the lame one that featured dancing animals, politely agree and be grateful she didn’t mention the nervous giggling she heard from the men at the keg during the erectile dysfunction ad. At least she’s not acting like some of the other women who suddenly became football’s biggest fans just today.

THE CLEVER CHEF

Host: “Won’t this be fun? We planned our menu around the Super Bowl city! Hope you like New Orleans–style Cajun cuisine!”
Outward response: “I always love to try new food!”
Inner monologue: Where the hell are my weiner winks?

Note to professional adults: Don’t get cute here. I have to pretend to enjoy your delightful goat cheese risotto and your battered eggplant appetizers at every other party you throw throughout the year. Today’s the day I get to sample chili, wings, pizza and nachos all on one big-ass sloppy plate.

THE EX-JOCK KNOW-IT-ALL
It’s no surprise that sports-themed parties bring out the wannabe coaches and the used-to-be players. Makes you want to say, “I get it, I get it. You played a little ball back in the day before you blew out your knee during the big game. Somehow, you’ve now become more qualified to call plays than that dumb-ass millionaire NFL coach.”

Recognize this?

Ex-jock know-it-all: “That quarterback is an idiot! Why is he throwing off his back foot into double coverage?”
Outward response: “I was about to say the same thing!”
Inner monologue: I like it when the quarterback throws the ball really far.

Guess what? I don’t want to hear you scream at the fifty-inch plasma calling for a split-back formation or the play-action pass. What will really impress me is if you chop block that meathead at the other end of the room who deserves a holding penalty for cornering victims and bragging about how his fantasy football team kicked ass this year.

Listening to your inner monologue might keep you company for only a few hours, but it should make one thing clear: This party doesn’t deserve an instant replay next year.

Man cold

Heart racing . . . eyes watering . . . body aching . . . Typically this means I’m watching Jennifer Love Hewitt in a Lifetime Channel movie. But not this time.

I have a man cold.

You probably won’t find “man cold” diagnosed on WebMD, so allow me to explain exactly what this means and how it differs from other associated illnesses.

Man Cold: A debilitating illness exclusively targeting accidental adult males, often accompanied by incessant complaining and the inability to perform routine tasks like emptying the dishwasher or putting clothes in the hamper. (What I have.)

Monster Cold: A man cold with symptoms multiplied by 1,000. (What I fear I’m getting.)

Common Cold: A mild, temporary irritant. (What women get.)

At the first sign of a sniffle last week, I knew what was coming . . . a grave illness that requires the typical man cold response.

* Use of alcohol to dull symptoms.
* Sympathy phone call to Mom. (She enjoys worrying about her children, so really this was a favor.)
* Lame attempts to use new Barry White vocal range to seduce wife.
* Refusal to seek professional medical treatment unless on deathbed.
* Sleep, television, complaining and more television.

But what worries me most about my condition is that I’ve lost days from work. I had no choice. I really couldn’t subject my office mate to eight hours of wheezing, sneezing and hacking my poisons into our confined area. (Which reminds me . . . I need to call HR and see if they can dock her two sick days instead of me, since my absenteeism was in consideration of her.) I also couldn’t bear going to work only to hear my work wife tell me, “Wow, you look really awful.” I can get that brutal honesty at home from my real wife, who conveniently claims to have the common cold this week as well. (Kelly loves to upstage.)

All of this suggests my man cold may indeed be morphing into monster cold status. The evidence appears on my bedside table: Mucinex, Flonase nasal spray, Tylenol, tube of Carmex, Kleenex box . . . all lined up next to a greasy-haired, red-eyed snoring guy who won’t get out of bed before noon. Attractive imagery, I know. It’s a good thing I’m married and no longer have to worry about my appearance. 

Despite this illness escalation, I’m ready to do battle, accidental adult style. I’m determined to conquer my cold using the most effective therapeutical treatment I have in my arsenal.

“Kelly, throw me the remote control. I need to find me some Love on Lifetime. STAT!”