A Useless Tool of a Man

Hammer time?  Unlikely

I don’t like using tools. I don’t really know the difference between a socket wrench and a monkey wrench. When I’m forced to use a screwdriver, I have to repeatedly tell myself, “Righty tighty, lefty loosey.” I don’t own a stud finder or a level, my hammer is as old as I am, and I have no idea why they are called Allen wrenches.

More to the point, I find Home Depot to be a very unsettling place. Every time I have to ask a question of one of those employees, clad in their Oompa Loompa aprons, I know they are looking at me with utter disdain as I attempt to explain my dilemma using charades. Words don’t suffice, because I am incapable of using appropriate terminology that they would understand. Therefore, they inevitably recommend a 3/4” something-or-other and send me on my way. Before I get into the checkout line, I swing by the battery and lightbulb aisles, because I at least know what I need there and that feeling empowers me. Continue reading “A Useless Tool of a Man”

Early Departures: A Tale of an Early Arriver


“Is my plane on time?”

The employee behind the desk stared blankly at me. “I’m not sure,” she said. “Your plane hasn’t left Las Vegas yet. Your flight is 5 hours from now.”

They say the early bird gets the worm. If that’s the case, I’d get there before the worm was even born. It’s always been this way for me. I can’t help arriving early, to everything. Continue reading “Early Departures: A Tale of an Early Arriver”

Salad Bar Injustice: A Civil Heights Violation


I’m a tall person. In the past, this has worked to my benefit. I can reach stuff on the top shelf, I’m really good at being the monkey in the middle, and the general feeling of superiority I have in the elevator is addictive. In short (no pun intended), I’ve quite enjoyed the vertical advantage I have had over a majority of our society. Today, however, that all changed.

Up to this point, it had been a normal day by most standards. I went to work, looked at some papers, cavorted with my coworkers, and drank copious amounts of coffee. At lunch time, I deviated from my regular routine of staying on campus. It was a Friday, and I decided to pay a visit to the local grocery store. It was a grand opening, and I had heard rumors that this chain’s salad bars were pretty near top of the line. At my age, these things excite me. Continue reading “Salad Bar Injustice: A Civil Heights Violation”

Tucked into Purgatory: Life in a Tucked in Shirt


Tucked in Terror

Every weekday morning, I think to myself, “Today will be the day I revolt.” Inevitably, however, my attempted coup is violently put down by society’s authoritarian rule. Even the thought of maintaining a shred of freedom and autonomy is wiped away. Once the polo shirt falls down over my shoulders, or the last button of my dress shirt is cinched, the final act of my appareled betrayal is complete. In short, I am tucked in to the expectations of society.

And just in case I get an idea to make one last stand, the belt arrives. The belt, once a beacon of seamless transition, is now revealed to be nothing but a brutal enforcer of rules, a true destroyer of individuality. Continue reading “Tucked into Purgatory: Life in a Tucked in Shirt”

A Trivial Pursuit in Frustration

Empty Pursuits (Photo courtesy of Chip Maust)

I stared blankly into space as I asked her to repeat the question, this time in English.

“Who was Howdy Doody’s brother?” she asked again, confident we would not be able to provide an answer. Not many questions had involved answers up to this point, and this one would be no different.

The night, until now, had been fun. It had started with a dinner among six close friends, all members of the esteemed Generation X. Food and drink, a warm fire in the fireplace, and ‘90s music blaring from the speakers had coalesced to make for a fun Saturday evening. It was good to be with close friends, carousing after a long week of being semi-functional adults. I’m not sure who had suggested we play Trivial Pursuit, or why any of us agreed to do so, but the snowball was rolling downhill and it would soon engulf all of us in its avalanche of ignorance pretty quickly. Continue reading “A Trivial Pursuit in Frustration”

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”