Psychological Warfare: A Tale of Dental Duress

The Tools of Terror

I abhor having to go to the dentist. I always have. When I was a kid, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the dental office for a routine cleaning. The orthodontist was even worse. I get chills thinking about his big, fat, rubber-scented hand in my mouth, tightening my braces while he flirted with his dental assistant. She and I were both disgusted with his obnoxious behavior. One time, I even hid in a tree to avoid having to go. My mother wasn’t amused, nor were the cops when I emerged an hour later, safely past the point of being able to make the appointment. Apparently, the police were not trained to look up in the 1980s. It wasn’t my best moment.

My teeth have always been in good shape. Even though I sometimes grind them at night, they have served their purpose quite well for nearly four decades. They chew when I ask them to. On the off chance I smile, they represent me nicely. They clatter rhythmically when I am cold. In short, they do what teeth are designed to do. I reward them by brushing them and occasionally flossing. We have a mutual understanding. Continue reading “Psychological Warfare: A Tale of Dental Duress”

Confessions of a Superhero: It’s No Longer Easy Being Green

Angry eyes? Not so much

I have a confession to make. I’m the Incredible Hulk. Well, I’m the guy who transforms into the Incredible Hulk. I wouldn’t be able to tell such an eloquent story if I was currently in my angered form. That and my giant, green hands make typing pretty difficult. You can test the theory, if you don’t believe me. Just let me know in advance. I certainly wouldn’t want to be wearing my favorite shirt when I prove you wrong.

I’ve been this way for years—twenty, to be exact. It was 1997. I was a young man looking for an edge in my life. I wanted to stand out. The gym seemed like too much work, and college was sort of unfulfilling. Continue reading “Confessions of a Superhero: It’s No Longer Easy Being Green”

Men and Yoga

This is impossible and it hurts!

My wife made a suggestion the other night. “Josh, we should take a yoga class together sometime.” These are the words I’ve dreaded hearing ever since she started taking classes herself several months ago.

My response was simple and rather noncommittal. “Uh, yeah, sure. Sometime sounds great.”

To me, yoga is a combination of ancient torture techniques and music that is best suited for the lobby of an acupuncturist’s office. Besides, yoga involves the two things in life that every man strives to avoid doing: stretching and walking around barefoot.

Continue reading “Men and Yoga”

Tails of Fear—A Winter Evening in My Crawl Space

The Fear Zone

I’m frightened—petrified. This time of year brings out my worst fears. I dread the words that come out of my wife’s mouth as dusk settles early on this cold winter evening. The words haunt me: “Can you go into the crawl space and check the mousetraps?” Just writing this sends a shiver down my spine. I try to act manly by deepening my voice and saying, “Of course, babe.” But she can hear the fear in me. My kids look at me and feel empathy for my plight but also relief that the task is not theirs.

This time of year is generally my favorite. I love the chill in the air, the dim light reflecting off the embers in the fireplace, and the silence in the winter night. Unfortunately, it is also the time when gigantic mice—other people say they’re regular size—take up residency in my crawl space. It’s not their fault. No mouse wants to be outdoors in this weather. Don’t tell the mice this, but I can’t blame them. Our house is one inviting place. Continue reading “Tails of Fear—A Winter Evening in My Crawl Space”

Essay: Winter driving leaves me crying


I have one rule whenever I am required to drive in adverse weather. I decide not to. No matter where I need to be, it simply isn’t worth it.

Over the years I’ve missed funerals, weddings, work, work functions, picking up my kids from day care, picking up my kids from school, picking up my kids from play dates, picking up my wife from the airport, basketball practices in which I’m coaching and a haircut at a trendy new place for guys with receding hairlines.

The reason is because I am a terrible driver whenever my car traverses anything other than dry pavement.

It’s not my fault my parents decided to settle down and start a family in the D.C. area. It’s theirs. They could’ve started a family anywhere. Buffalo, Boston or Montreal all would’ve been suitable.

But here in the D.C. suburbs, we get just enough snow for us to stink at driving in it. Continue reading “Essay: Winter driving leaves me crying”

The raking guy: A (mostly true) essay on the seasonal struggle


I’ve been raking the leaves in my backyard for about 15 years now. The first year, I was an idealistic 25-year-old, full of stubborn vigor. I heard the hums of leaf blowers off in the distance and shrugged my shoulders, resolute with the feeling of strength I had for doing it “the hard way.”

I was also a bit overconfident. After raking my lawn for hours, carrying tarp load upon tarp load to the front curb, sweat glistening off my forehead, I would walk past the more seasoned homeowners. They were done with their leaves as well, but they used machinery to get the job done. I’d scamper past them as they were resting on their front stoops, leaf blower resting by their side and utter something like, “You missed a spot,” mockingly pointing to the back corner of their side yard. Then I would laugh to myself as they stared back at me, with a sadness in their eyes.

Over the years, as I got older and the soreness lingered, I still heard the hum of the leaf blowers. They were growing more noisy with each passing year. Still, I refused to give in. I was the one carrying the legacy of the rake, the only “rake guy” left in Rockville. I was responsible for showing newer generations that the struggle was real. It was a burden, I won’t lie. Continue reading “The raking guy: A (mostly true) essay on the seasonal struggle”