The Panda Trap

"Would you like to hear our specials? Or perhaps I can show you how to eat with a fork."

“Would you like to hear our specials? Or perhaps I can show you how to eat with a fork.”

Are we human? Or are we parents? According to Brandon Flowers of the Killers fame, we might even be dancer. But before I can even begin to entertain the notion that we may in fact be dancer, there’s the human question. See, Wife and I are out on the town for my birthday, and, for the first time in over 13 months, we have absolutely no responsibilities. That’s because my parents, NailsMom & NailsDad, generously agreed to come for an overnight to watch Kid while we are reintroduced into the wild by a professional endangered parent handler named Joseph. Joseph is a card-carrying member of two noble organizations, PITA (People for the Independence of Tired Adults), and UBER (Uber). Since liberating us from our enclosure, Joseph has gently coaxed us into his endangered parent transport, or, as he calls it, “The Shev-RO-lay Kroos.” He has assured us that there are others just like us at the endangered parent reservation, or, as he says, “Beer-GARD-en.” And he has patiently explained to us that we don’t need to pay him with cash once we have reached our destination, or, as he carefully annunciates, “Your CRED-it CARD will BE CHARG-ed.”  Of course, now we are sitting on the outdoor patio of the endangered parent reservation, sans-Joseph and utterly defenseless, struggling to interpret a menu that was clearly designed for a more highly evolved species. They don’t even offer microwaved chicken fingers – everything is freshly prepared! Can we go back to the enclosure now?

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Birthday Begins

"At least they're feeding us."

“At least they’re feeding us.”

Quiet on the set! Is everyone in their places? You, by the beans, you’re ruining my shot. Do we have someone capable on pyrotechnics? I don’t want a repeat of what happened to that curly-haired cousin a few years back. You, by the chicken, give me some chicken. Where’s the talent? Wuddya mean she’s in wardrobe? Didn’t we change her five minutes ago? These young stars are the worst. Remind me to never direct another one of these things. Oh, wait. That will never happen because no one with half-a-brain would pay money to see this. What’s that? They’re already planning a sequel? A sequel every year for the rest of my life?!?!?! Now I know how the creator of Air Bud feels. Can we at least agree to keep the sequels true to the original vision? You know: shoe-string budget, heartfelt plotline, characters with real depth. Ah. I see. Each sequel is going to be more expensive than the last, the plot will be exclusively driven by the latest in-demand consumer products (not revealed until the last possible moment), and the quirky yet talented cast will be replaced with friends of the leading lady (who also happens to be the daughter of the Executive Producer). Sigh. Maybe I should just move to Europe and shoot that art-house project I’ve been talking about all these years. You know, the one with the socialist balloon animals. There’s nothing left to do here that hasn’t already been done a thousand – Ooooo look at all those candles! Ha-ppy Birth-day to you…

Forbidden Fruits

"I can stop using it any time I want."

“I can stop using it any time I want.”

Let’s make a deal. You stop fussing, and I’ll let you hold The Precious. But only for a few seconds. We both know that, when put into the wrong hands, especially grubby saliva-covered baby hands, The Precious is capable of terrible things. Things like: accidentally overnighting an inflatable hot tub to our house, or sending cryptic messages to my boss, or secretly recording me, in my bathrobe, trying to choke down black coffee because we ran out of sweetener. Of course, you don’t care about all that. You just like The Precious because it is shiny and beautiful and makes little buzzing noises that have been training you like a pavlovian dog since you were an infant. You’ve also had plenty of time to observe me with The Precious. You’ve seen the way my eyes glow with the reflection of The Precious’ artificial luminance. You’ve seen me lovingly pet The Precious by swiping my finger up and down, left and right, over its smooth, flat belly. You see, I’m a lost cause. Once upon a time, I was taking a stroll through an Enchanted Big Box Store, when a horrible little Sales Nymph used a Discount Hex to force me to fall in love with the first thing I saw: The Precious. Ever since then, I’ve been powerless to resist The Precious’ call to waste hours reading internet comments written by sociopaths and playing Free-to-Play games that would make Sisyphus want to get back to rolling his ball. Where once sat a boy with ambition and purpose, now slumps a man crippled by instant and artificial gratification. But there is still hope for you, my darling child. That is why you must never stare into the crystal abyss of The Precious’ Great Eye for more than a few seconds. Ooo, it buzzed! Give us back The Precious! Give it back to us neeeeeooooooow!

 

The Expediter

"I am Barzaff The Great. Look into my mullet and you shall see the true meaning of magic."

“I am Barzaff The Great. Look into my mullet and you shall see the true meaning of magic.”

Are you ready? Before you answer that question, you should know that I’m not asking if you are ready for some football. Or a good time. Or a weevil pestilence. But, just so we cover all the bases, if you are ready for some football, you may sit quietly on that couch for seven months until the next season begins. And if you are ready for a good time, please see Brian Johnson, lead vocalist of AC/DC – he will take you bowling. And if you are ready for a weevil pestilence, don’t forget to double-check the chimney. They always come through the chimney. [eyes cloud over, swats back of neck involuntarily] Sorry. I…it’s a long story. Well, it’s actually a short story: weevils came through my chimney and attacked me. Or did I dream the whole thing? Anyway, I was asking if you are ready to leave the house. I ask this because no one is ready to leave our house, ever. So if you are ready, you are a liar. And I like liars about as much as I like weevils: not much. In fact, ever since Kid came on the scene, getting out the door has become a freaking magic trick. I’m not talking about finding a quarter behind your nephew’s ear, neither. I’m talking main-stage, dry-ice, laser-show, two-guys-with-mullets-and-a-tiger (also with a mullet), magic trick. It’s such a production that sometimes I wish we had one of those individuals who works in restaurants and yells at the chef to do stuff faster. “Expediters,” I think they’re called. Sounds kinda like “Expert Biters,” one of the many known aliases of–you guessed it–weevils. I think I need to stop eating peanut butter before bed. It’s giving me weird dreams.

Wave of the Future

"Just smile and wave and they won't suspect a damn thing."

“Just smile and wave and they won’t suspect a damn thing.”

The new wave is here. Now, before you go thinking I’m a cool UPS guy announcing that the microwave you ordered has arrived, allow me to elaborate. Kid has learned how to wave, and it’s freaking me out. What does this mean for her future? Does her talent for waving mean she will, one day, be a famous politician greeting citizens on the campaign trail, or a sign-holder for a sandwich shop grabbing the attention of lunch-hour traffic? Or, she could be waving at me in the way that a mobster waves at a snitch before taking them out. “See ya later, buddy boy.” That would explain why Cat has been ripping his mouse toys to smithereens: practice. He and Kid must be involved in a conspiracy to oust me as Head of Household, probably so they can list me as a dependent on their jointly filed tax return and collect a major refund. What’s that? You’ve never heard of The Meow-Meow Baby Tax Scam? It was invented by an Egyptian hairless and her five-month-old business associate in the mid-80’s. Lifetime was developing a film adaptation of their best-selling tell-all, “Cat Tax Fever,” but then Grumpy Cat blew up and the project got shelved indefinitely. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: if your baby starts waving at you, be sure to submit form 1080Z4 to the IRS as soon as possible, as it protects you from all cat-baby fraud conspiracies heretoforehencewith. You’re welcome.