July 4th

July 4th is a man’s day holiday focused on things men enjoy. Food, fire, and explosives. None of that annoying shopping that Christmas and Valentine’s Day require. No forced exposure to unwanted relatives like Thanksgiving.

 

The first step is to fire up the barbecue. Some lazier folk use gas barbecues. Real men use charcoal, which requires lighter fluid. LOTS of lighter fluid. Your goal here, men, is to see how high that flame will be when you light it. If it reaches the roof level, you’ve done well. If it goes up another 20 or 30 feet, and scorches the eyebrows of Aunt Mabel sitting over at the picnic table, you’ve done even better.

 

Once the grill is ready, it’s time for the burgers and dogs. Dogs, unfortunately, are limited to hot dogs, even though it may be tempting to take care of the yapping Chihuahua that one of your relatives brought. You may also have to fight off attempts by the women to place tofu, veggies, and other “healthy food” on your grill. Do not let this happen. Keep small amounts of lighter fluid handy to create flare ups that will drive away unwanted pests like these.

 

Once the food is done, it’s time to begin the homage to “things that go boom”. The fire crackers and cherry bombs are good for daytime enjoyment, as well as dispensing with any unneeded appendages. Since merely lighting them on the ground will soon get boring, firecrackers can be relocated to underneath the lawn chair of an unsuspecting dozing celebrant. Cherry bombs work best in tree stumps, garbage cans, or underneath the fuel tank of the neighbor’s RV.

 

As darkness descends, someone may bring out sparklers. These are okay for girls and children under 5, but be vigilant to make sure you don’t get one of these thrust in your hand, as it could be captured on camera and you’d have your man status revoked in short order. Instead, you need to fire up the whistlers, the screamers, and the sky level boomers. Do not stop until your supplies are exhausted and the air is foggy with gunpowder smoke.

 

Happy 4th.

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The Last Outsourcing Frontier

She came up slowly, like a thief in the night. A hint of a sore throat and fatigue. Just enough to start the alarm bells ringing in the back of my head (and no, there was no echo, contrary to what my wife may have told you). Enough time to make some calls and clear my schedule a bit, for this vixen could not be ignored. As she later settled in, the fun began. Her entertainment with the man in the house consisted of giving him alternating hot flashes and occasional cold sweats. Apparent payback for some comment I undoubtedly made in the past about Mrs. Dolphin’s “change of seasons”. This was followed by demonstrations about how quickly the nose can alternate between its rendition of “A River Runs Through It”, and it’s impersonation of the Hoover Dam.

As the Kleenex flew through the air, and my nose began its audition for the part of Rudolph in the nex Christmas play, I kept thinking there must be a better way. If Instacart can do your shopping for you, and TaskRabbit can run errands for you, why isn’t there something for sickness?…….Wait no more!

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Pesky in laws hovering in your home.

Pesky children that want to play with our host.

Food poisoning

Illnesses of more than 4 days

The Plague

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Cancer

A Beacon of Light

It dawned upon me slowly, like the instant you realize something is different about your wife, but you don’t know exactly what. So you ask her, and hear “You’re just noticing now? I changed my hairstyle 8 months ago?” (Yes…that’s me….guilty as charged). Anyway, I finally realized that the spot on my forehead never really healed. I thought it was just a case of occasionally hitting it on something, and by chance hitting the same spot. You know how you get busy and can’t remember things? I’d think to myself, “Did I hit it again? Or did I hit it 2 weeks ago? Or 2 months ago?” Who knew? So then, in keeping with the glacial pace of all men (page 37 of the man code), I decided I’d go see a doctor.

Looking for a dermotologist reminded me a little bit of looking through the personal ads, trying to figure out the person:

Personality:

“Are they brusque and short with patients, or do they listen and seem to care?” (I’m skating on a thin line here. Too much caring, listening, hugs, and talk of feelings could get my man membership might be revoked….)

Family:

 “How is the receptionist? Does the billing dept curse patients who owe money and show up at their door wielding baseball bats? Does the staff laugh behind our backs and post pictures of botched surgeries to Facebook?”

Education and Skill:

“Did they graduate from medical school? Do patients rave about the end result?” Or is there only a mention of how the doc started out at eight years old carving the family turkey, and later deciding to get into dermatology and surgery, with a new nickname of “Scarface”?

Age:

Are they fresh out of school, full of excitement and enthusiasm, ready to practice……..on YOU!

Or are they about ready to retire, with shaky hands ready to carve zig zags on your face?

I ended up, like a few other men in history, with my mom playing matchmaker, sending me to her dermatologist. So I went. The first visit was to take a biopsy. Walking into the office, the first thing I saw was the huge wall poster declaring “Certified by Benihana!” It had a picture of the smiling doc, yielding a cleaver the size of Nebraska. It was about an hour later that they finally dragged me out of the closet of the dentist’s office down the hall. They claimed I was screaming and leaving claw marks on the rug, but that’s probably just heresay.

Once the results came back positive for skin cancer (slow moving, limited, so hold off on the condolence cards), it was back for the excavation. I never knew dermatologists were such big fans of Black & Decker. As she dug away, she kept smiling and saying, “It’s just like the coal strip mining we used to do in West Virginia!” Stopping just short of providing me with a full frontal lobotomy, she then cauterized the wound. This is when the assistant puts a vacuum hose next to your scalp, as you notice the faint smell of something burning……YOU!!!!!

Once the fire department had finished hosing me down, she followed with some stitching (now I know why docs never buy new socks), and finally a pressure bandage. For those of you who don’t know what a pressure bandage is, it’s a very, very thick bandage that they tape onto your forehead. Sticking a good 2” up, you officially now look like a Unicorn. Put some white flourescent paint on it, and you have a headlamp. Someone asked if I had a transplant done and if now I was going to be an official dickhead. I felt a little bit like Elephant Man, to tell you the truth.

After 32 hours, it was time for the bandage change. Collecting the official list of materials (Gauze, neosporin, non stick pads, tape, Q tips, hydrogen peroxide, whisky, hammer, chainsaw, the full collection of Encyclopedia Britannica, and a roast beef sandwich), I was ready to begin. You first peel off the bandage and tape, doing the man version of a Brazilian wax. Who knew men could scream in such a high pitch? This is followed by the view of your forehead, when you realize that you are absolutely ready for a Frankenstein Halloween costume. So you clean the wound with peroxide, and your pride with the whiskey. Then some more peroxide on the wound, and some more whisky in you. I still don’t understand it, but when the wife came home an hour later, she failed to see the humor in me wallpapering the bathroom with gauze, and playing army with a horde of Qtips glued to the floor…..