Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trick or Treat...

I can't really explain why Halloween is among my favorite holidays, because I've had my share of Halloween tragedies.

There was the time when I was 6 years old when a group of teenage girls surrounded me, grabbed my bag of candy, and dumped it into their little brother's bag and ran off with my bounty. My mom took me around to all the houses again to explain that my candy had been stolen, so they didn't think I was trying to double dip. Some people didn't buy the story she was selling.

Then there was the time when I was 11 years old, working at a haunted house at the KD Stockyards basement with my best friend, Jeff. Apparently I must have drank a lot of Coca-Cola before we arrived for our shift in the haunted house. About 2 hours into our shift, I really had to pee. Badly. But I couldn't leave my station, or else people who paid good money would not possibly pee themselves. So I'd like to think I was the Messiah of Haunted Houses. I pee'd myself so that others would also pee themselves.

And perhaps even better, there was the time when I was a 20-year-old college student studying abroad in London. My "flatmate," Lev, and I had decided to hit a local thrift store and buy prom dresses to use as our Halloween costume for the party some fellow students were throwing. We spent hours getting pretty, then ventured out the door for the 2 mile walk to the party location. One minor thing that we didn't realize before we transformed ourselves from Steve and Lev to Stephanie and Levita. The United Kingdom doesn't celebrate Halloween. Sidenote, we had a lot of offers for a free drink along the walk.

Despite that, well, I've had some incredibly awesome Halloweens in my 40 years. Whether it was building haunted houses in my garage or basement to scare my neighbors, or hosting costume karaoke parties that featured fog, strobe lights, a stage, and a professional DJ, I take my Halloweens seriously.

The evolution of my Halloween priorities thus far is essentially:
  • Stage 1: Get an awesome costume, eat lots of candy
  • Stage 2: Get an awesome costume, hope the girls at the party get an awesome costume
  • Stage 3: Get an awesome costume, drink lots of beer
  • Stage 4: Get your kids an awesome costume, drink lots of beer while you take them trick or treating
I'm not sure of the rest of the stages yet, but I'm pretty sure it will end up with a final stage of "drink lots of prune juice, and yell at the kids with awesome costumes to get off your lawn!"

So as a gift to all of you at this festive time of year, I give you my favorite 3 costumes I've worn for Halloween:

1. JFK back from the dead. I bought a vintage suit from a secondhand store, some basic stage makeup kits, and hair dye. I had bullet entry wounds in the front of my neck, the back of my head looked like spaghetti, and I talked in a thick Boston accent all night. Unfortunately, I could not convince my then wife to dress as Marilyn Monroe back from the dead.

2. I did, however, convince my then wife to dress as a brick one year. I took a cardboard box, painted it, cut the proper holes. Why would she dress as a brick, you ask? Because I asked, and because I was dressed as a bricklayer. My ex-brick ended up leaning up against the wall at the party. She ended up staining the wall of my co-worker. In her new home. Her American Dream. Stained brick red.

3. Tim Dwight. Yeah, if you don't know who that is, you can just stop reading now, it's ok. Thanks for reading this far. If you do know who he is, well, you'll know that I have alot in common with him. I'm bald, he's bald. We're both Iowans. Ok, so that might be about all we have in common, but still, this costume was awesome. Trust me.
Happy Halloween, and may you get the awesome costume you're hoping for.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Benchwarmer at a wedding dance

There's nothing like a wedding to drive home how single you are.
You're there for a special moment in two people's lives, and for an instant, even as a divorced dad, you can even let go of the jaded idea that marriage sucks.

I realized this weekend, while attending my niece's wedding in Sioux City, that I have been single at every wedding I've attended since getting divorced over 4 years ago.

Now mind you I haven't been single the entire time since my divorce, but every time I was attending a wedding, sure enough, it was either me solo, or me with my sons.

Last night, I was enjoying myself on the dance floor numerous times, when I was forced to my seat by the song selection of the DJ.

For every "You Shook Me All Night Long" there's a "The Way You Look Tonight." For every "YMCA" there's a "Have I Told You Lately?" For every "Macarena" and "Chicken Dance" there's a Couple's First Dance and Father/Daughter Dance that usually brings tears to the eyes of every woman in the place.

And every time the sappy slow dance song comes on, I made my way back to my lonely table, full of empty beer cans and plastic cups, and chairs covered with suit coats and ties.

Don't get me wrong...I've made a choice the last year and a half or so to pretty much ignore the thought of dating and focus on my boys and myself. But that doesn't mean I don't second guess that decision when I'm faced with a night filled with superlatives about how great marriage is, how they're beginning the rest of their life together, and how great they seem for each other.

I know I've already neutron-bombed the post-modern American Dream of a mini-van, a happy wife and kids, living in an idyllic suburban 4 BR 2 BA home.
But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in having someone to approach at a wedding reception, grab her hand, and say "Hey beautiful, want to dance?"

Someone to wake up with a hot cup of coffee waiting for her in bed.

Someone that will want to laugh with me as I watch the world around me and just want someone to turn to and say "Did you just see that?"

Someone to take the good days and bad days in stride.


So maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I need to knock down the brick walls I've erected and start figuring out what options are out there again.

Because I sure the hell am getting sick of having to sit out on the sideline every time a Lionel Ritchie song comes on at a wedding dance.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Definition of A Friend

You are a friend if you (check all that apply):

__ Make me laugh

__ Laugh at and/or with me

__ Teach me something new

__ Back me up when I deserve it

__ Tell me when I don't deserve it

__ Tell me I'm a good cook, even though I'm not

__ Call me when you know I'm lonely

__ Leave me alone when you know I'm not lonely

__ Fed me when I was hungry

__ Called me "Clemmy"

__ Called me "Higgy"

__ Called me "dumbass"

__ Root for the Hawkeyes

__ Root against the Huskers

__ Know my "breakdancing" name

__ Have seen me with lots of hair, parted down the middle

__ Have seen me at my best. And my worst. And still acknowledge me.

__ You like me, you really like me!

Total up your points. (0 = You're not my friend), (1 and greater = You're my friend, and you rock, and thank you).

Good night. Tip your wait staff. Try the veal. I'll be here through next Tuesday.