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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

what i did on my memorial day weekend

did you have a nice memorial day weekend? did you think of our fallen soldiers even once? no? well then, you had a nice memorial day weekend. and so did i. one more burger please, medium rare.

we did many things this weekend, my wife and child and i. we had many brunches, saw many babies, went to many parks. it was a nice long weekend. a rare weekend wherein mrs nice guy and i had not two but THREE consecutive days together. what a novelty!

anyway, as you can imagine we spent a whole bunch of time taking the kid to playgrounds. there is one lavish tot lot in particular -- the tot lot at 3rd street in prospect park -- where we frequently found ourselves. you brooklynites know what i'm talking about: toddler nirvana. nirtoddla. toddvana. or something.

the one problem i had with this weekend? it was too goddamn hot. TOO. HOT. i am a scrawny white translucent honky cracker ronald mcdonald carrot-top golem albino crybaby. the sun and i? we are not on speaking terms. when i take the baby to the tot lot in the middle of the day, the baby gets a wee dollop of spf 45. strong stuff, right? well, i get super-secret NASA-brand experimental beta-sun-colonist spf 739. i require about 4 applications of sunscreen per hour.

so on sunday afternoon, mrs nice guy and the baby and a couple of friends visiting from out of town and i were playing in the tot lot. it was 9,266,349,726 degrees outside. after about 3 seconds in the sun (with whom i may have mentioned i am not on speaking terms) i announced that i needed to go into the shade because i had suddenly discovered that i had stage 8 ovarian cancer. everyone said "ok. buh-bye." and let me wander off to find some shade alone. they were having too much "fun" in the "life-giving sun" to hang out with me, "mr. darkness," in the "soul-destroying" shade. such is my life.

i went off in search of some shade. would you like to know how much shade there is in the tot lot at 3rd street in prospect park? you would? let me tell you: VERY FUCKING PRECIOUS LITTLE.

i trundled off to a very very (very) far corner of the playground by myself. i trundled alone by myself. i found a bench in the shade. i sat on the bench. i looked across the vaaaast expanse of playground and i saw the antlike figures of my wife and child playing gleefully with love for each other. i felt very alone. i began applying, again, some sunscreen.

and then it dawned on me: to everyone in the immediate vicinity i appeared to be nothing more than a 31-year-old male with massive sideburns, sitting alone on a bench in a crowded playground, rubbing himself. with lotion.

would you like to know what i did? i didn't stop. i kept rubbing. a little girl, about 6 years old, ran up to her father, about 3 feet away from me, and said "daddy, i'm tired!" he pointed at my bench without looking and said "why don't you go sit over ..." and then he looked directly at me. and then the finger with which he was pointing redirected itself to an entirely different corner of the tot lot and he said "over there." the little girl looked at me (the nice, shady place he was pointing at in the first instance) and then at the distant corner of tot lot (the sun-baked lifeless hell-place he was pointing at in the second instance) and the wheels turned in her head. then she adjourned to the latter locale. gold star for her.

me? i picked up my creepy-man lotion and silently creeped back over to my family where their presence would make me appear less creepy.

ok, fine. you know what? i may have been Creepy Lotion-Rubbing Lonely Bench Guy at the tot lot. but! at least i wasn't Hot Pants Man. who, you might ask, is Hot Pants Man? why, he is a certain gentleman whose wife let him out of the house wearing shorts like THIS:

and also like THIS!!!!:

oh, Hot Pants Man. what happened to you? what made you like this? not only are you wearing a pair of shorts that are far shorter than anything in my wife's wardrobe, but you also are apparently partial to glittery man-sandals. "we wear short shorts" indeed! i mean, come on Hot Pants Man, this is brooklyn. who wakes up in the morning, gets dressed, looks in the mirror and says LOOKIN' SHARP!, especially when what he is seeing looks like THIS:

i was fascinated by this question. so fascinated that, as you can see, i was compelled -- much to the horror of mrs nice guy -- to take as many surreptitious pictures as possible while i was sitting on the bench, rubbing lotion into my porcelain-white skin.

you have to hand it to Hot Pants Man: he's got nice legs. tan. firm. not too furry. every time he came near, i tried to catch a little snippet of his conversation. here's what i learned: he's got a thick british accent. he's not american! fuck! this officially exculpates Hot Pants Man from his fashion transgressions. i mean, he is not of this place. he is not a native. cultural differences explain the shorts. he dresses not as he would at Grimaldi's or Peter Luger. no. he dresses as he would upon the Thames, or at the Old Vic, or whatever.

i, on the other hand, have no excuse. i am from here. i should know better. there is no good reason for me whatsoever to be sitting alone on a bench in a far flung corner of a playground, rubbing lotion into my tender lily-white thighs as i take pictures like this:

none! just arrest me now, ok?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mr. Rogers goes to Washington

have you ever wondered who would win in a no-holds-barred, bareknuckled and broken-bottle barroom brawl between Fred Rogers and the U.S. Senate? say, circa 1969? you know, when tricky dick was more interested in sending money to a deeply misguided war than funding public broadcasting and the arts at home? have you?

i sure have! here's the resounding answer.

watch it to the end. absolutely gorgeous.

Monday, May 22, 2006

surgeon general's warning: this post may cause second-hand rage

an open letter to the lady smoking a cigarette in the tot lot today:

i need to ask: have you not noticed that the bench you are sitting on is in a little fenced-in playground? have you not noticed that in said playground there are a half-dozen children, ranging in age from ONE to FOUR? no doubt you've noticed that you're outside, which is probably why you feel exculpated from exhaling carcinogens into our immediate environment. but maybe it's possible you didn't notice that large puffs of tar-clouds -- clouds belched from your disgusting ass-tasting mouth -- are lingering over our heads? is it perhaps the case that you have not noticed other people's children are inhaling your noxious fumes, you selfish cunt? just curious.

i mean, if you want to slowly poison your own child's lungs at home, that's your prerogative. but in a communal space that is designed for and used exclusively by TODDLERS (accompanied, granted, by their usually worse-behaved minders) i think you might be well advised to extinguish your virginia slim -- preferably on your tongue.

can you really not go 30 minutes without smoking? suck one down on your way to the park next time; light up on your way out. just get that fucking cancer stick at least one block away from my daughter.

then feel free to hurry up and get cancer.

mr nice guy

Saturday, May 20, 2006

do not read this post if you would prefer not to have your entire day ruined

i should apologize for what i am about to do to you. but i refuse. i am a broken man and, like all broken men, i need the company. this is all about dragging you down along with me on my painful fall from grace.

it all started about 24 hours ago. i clicked on a link and by the time i had read to the end of the page, i knew my life was ruined. my brain is now an addled shell, incapable of doing anything other than play this game. it might seem innocent enough at first, but come reader, take my hand as i guide you down the path of your destruction.

the little puzzle we are about to play comes from the always excellent coudal partners, (an innovative and fun design/advertising firm that happens to maintain a great blog). the premise is simple. in their own words:

The idea is to mash up the name of a book with the name of a band. Here's a few of our examples to get you started:

The Things They Might Be Giants Carried
The Who Moved My Cheese
The Old Man and The Sea and Cake
Charlie Daniels and the Chocolate Factory
Catch 182
Horton Hears a Hoobastank

and so on.

i've tried to focus on other things. i have tried to concentrate at work, to pay attention to my family. but it's a wash. i must ... come ... up with ... more mashups. agh! fuck! here's but a wee smattering of some of the examples i've come up with in the past day. i'm rather proud of some of these:

Stevie Wonder Boys
Sly and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Million Little Richards
The Lion in Johnny Winter
The Man Who Would be King Curtis
Days of Iron and Wine and Roses
Neutral Milk Hotel New Hampshire

Napalm Death in Venice
He's Just Not That Into U2
A Tree Grows in Brook Benton
The Year of Magical Thinking Fellers Union Local #282
The Divinyls' Secrets of the Pointer Sisterhood
Of Human League Bondage
'Til Tuesday with Maury
Chicken Soup De La Soul
The Art of White Noise
Tom Jones
Modest Maus
The Red and the Black Crowes
The Ice-T Storm
Kavalier and Otis Clay
Twisted Sister Carie
Guns, The Germs and Steel
Are Men Without Hats Necessary?
Das Bootsy Collins

i know, i know. i am painfully witty. thank you. do me a favor -- spare me the paeans and start coming up with your own examples. post them in the comments. this way i will know that i am not alone in having my life destroyed.

help me.

UPDATE: downward spiral continues. can't sleep. haven't eaten in two days. what do i have to show? nothing. just this:

Don Quihenley
The Virgin Suicidal Tendencies
If On A Winter's Night a Blues Traveler
Fear of Flying Burrito Brothers
The Bravery New World
The Blind Willie McTell Assassin
Les Paul Miserables
The Joy of X
Journey to the End of the Night

Friday, May 19, 2006

walking and balking

a word about walking.

who thought walking before talking was a good idea? i mean, my daughter is a living-breathing refutation of intelligent design. seriously, darwin had to be right. what the fuck is so "intelligent" about allowing a two-foot tall logically-challenged, gravitationally-unaware, consequence-ignorant, attention-deficient, cat-molesting, dirt-eating, appliance-breaking, shelf-emptying, face-planting, condor-shrieking clinically insane lunatic crazy person to walk under her own powers? kids shouldn't be allowed to walk until they're like eight. they should have to obtain a learner's permit first, then a license. no joke.

christ, you know what having a one-year-old who walks is like? it's like i'm living with iran and iran has just acquired nukes. i know iran can't be trusted with nukes, but there they are: nukes! and iran has them! in my apartment! you certainly can't take the nukes away, i mean, just forget it. so now iran has nukes. this is a very dangerous power for iran to have obtained. i mean, even if iran and i did speak the same language, there would be no reasoning with iran. you can't reason with iran! and iran lives in my apartment! with nukes!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

just when you'd totally given up on my ass

hello there. how are you? you look familiar. have i seen you around here before?

i know, i know. i haven't been by much lately. it's got nothing to do with you, though, i swear. it's me. things have been incredibly hectic at work. you know, work, right? that place i go now that my extended leave has ended. back to the world of grown-ups and all that jazz.

anyway, i have been a very bad blogger. i know. i had committed to write a mother's day thingie as part of kara's project-in-blog. i had created a playlist and i was going to put streaming audio on the site and hook you all up with the illest mother's day mix of all time (it would have included such gems as suicidal tendencies' "i saw your mommy..." and "oh mother, the handsome man tortures me" by some unidentified iraqi pop singer). other blogs have generously (and/or misguidedly) invited me to participate and write for them and stuff, and although i am a slut who usually can't say "no" (blogfathers, what?), i am going to have to start saying no so i can, oh, i don't know, concentrate on getting my real-life work done and maybe occasionally update my own damn blog for starters. you know, for all 5 of my loyal readers.

so i am going to try to make it up to you all with this first-birthday-and-mother's-day combo update post. here we go:

ever wonder what mr nice guy sees through his own eyes? let's start with work. i was at the office until 8 on thursday, then i came home to mother-in-law goodness -- she and step-father-in-law drove down from vermont, promising to bring our much-maligned exersaucer with them when they left. mrs nice guy had cooked a delicious feast, which i ate while checking e-mail and doing more work. then i went back to the office on friday while mrs nice guy stayed home to party prep with her folks. i was at the office until 9 on friday before coming home to my own mater nice guy goodness -- she flew in from LA and her flight was only three hours late! yay, moms in the house. anyway, this is what i was staring at from my office throne, waiting to be able to go home to see all the ladies in my life:

i normally work on saturdays, but since the grandmas had descended for a weekend of baby, i took the last one off to be with the kid and her extended maternal network. you know what time it was, right? it was burfday bbq time! (mmm, baby's back ribs, hot off the grill.)

first up: what to wear? i donned my traditional tuxedo t-shirt party attire. next up, dress the bambina. a few months ago a friend gave the baby an awesome toile sundress. saturday, being sunnier than it had been forecast, was the perfect day for the dress to make its debut:

see? she's wearing your grandma's bathroom wallpaper.

next up: purchase balloons. a quick tip for balloon shoppers: buy the latex balloons. sure they only stay inflated for about 16 minutes, if you're lucky. but their more durable mylar cousins cost THREE FUCKING DOLLARS per balloon. we opted for latex at $8 a dozen. we don't love our baby enough for mylar. also, when latex balloons deflate, they make festive condoms. perfect for all your birthday orgy needs.

mrs nice guy channeled her inner-martha while i worked on friday. she baked the birthday cake. two birthday cakes, actually -- buttermilk cake with homemade chocolate frosting deliciousness slathered along all four walls. note: it's about 1 pm on the day of the bbq when this picture was taken, a good hour before guests began arriving, and mater-in-law nice guy is already hitting her daughter's sangria. this is how we roll, thank you vsop much:

the cake was a hit with the guest of honor:

"you mean i get to eat all of this? you mean you're not going to stop me? this is the greatest day of my life."

well. what began as stunned gratitude devolved slightly as the confectioner's sugar began to trickle into the baby's blood stream. she ate a piece easily twice as big as my head. far from feeling sated, she demanded MORE:

i am pretty sure she got what she wanted. i say "pretty sure" because by the time i went to bed at midnight on saturday, i had been drinking for 10 solid hours. still, the cake was for her after all. and it was a beautiful day and a beautiful occasion with good vibes a-flowin', so why not let the wee sugar junky have her way for an afternoon? lord knows when she hits three she'll be cleaning up after herself and mixing us drinks all day. besides, she's been getting a lot of exercise lately. did i not mention that? oh, well, yeah: she walks now. she walks. total mobility achieved.

i'm sorry, but did you read that last bit and fully comprehend it and sloosh it around in your mouth for a minute before swallowing it? she walks, i said. SHE. WALKS. my life is over. thank god i have my office sanctuary five days a week.

adorably, she spent all day mother's day exploring this new skill of hers. she had been walking for about a week, but this was the first day she finally connected all the dots in her tiny brain. "you mean i can go here if i want to? and here? hey, move out of my way old man. how about if i walk over to the litter box ... GODDAMN IT IF YOU PICK ME UP ONE MORE TIME I AM GOING TO GO MIKE TYSON ALL OVER YOUR LEFT EAR."

all in all, a total success. she had her party, but more importantly, we had ours. she was in a great, albeit overstimulated, mood all weekend. she was like speedy gonzalez on crank for about two days there. so many adoring guests! both grandmothers got some serious bonding time. on saturday i got to stand at the grill all day and not once have to divert the child away from all the exposed wires and flaming knives in the apartment. it was, to paraphrase Ice Cube, a good weekend.

it's trite, it's hackneyed, it's a cliche, but i can't believe a year has gone by -- the days dragged but the weeks flew by. where did they go? my baby is a baby no longer. she's a toddler now. she walks! she has a personality, a will. soon she will be riding a tricycle. then she'll be driving. she'll have a family of her own. at some point after that i'll be dead. she is, in fact, the first nail in my coffin. i wouldn't have it any other way; it's the cycle of life. it all evens out in the end: i mean, she doesn't know it yet, but she still has years of math class ahead of her, and me, i never have take another final exam again.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

let's do the time warp again

christ it's like i never left this place. i've got the same seat in the same location. all the same shit is on my walls. most of the same people still work here. i just picked up a conversation i was in the middle of having with someone ... nearly a year ago. it's like i stepped through a bizarro space-fabric time-vortex wormhole -- i've emerged from the other side nine months older and fatter, a father, with excellent sideburns; but as far as everyone here is concerned, i've only been gone for the weekend.

by the time i was leaving at the end of the day, i was no longer sure that the past year had actually happened. had i really just spent the past week in a sun-dappled playground, hanging out with my drooling gorgeous lunatic daughter and hot young moms? or have i been at work all along? was it all a dream?

and then, after being jostled for 45 minutes on the subway, i walked through the door to my apartment. mrs nice guy had returned home first and was playing with our daughter. she put the baby down. the baby squealed and frantically crawled over to me. i scooped her up, squeezed her and smelled her head -- i was a desperate chapped-lip junkie, jonesing for just one more hit off the babycrack pipe. i didn't realize it before i got home, but i had the shakes. the DT's. and then i refused to put the bambino down or hand her over to mom for about half an hour. i needed my fix.

this morning, before i headed out to work, the child refused to go down for her nap. she was tired and it was time. but she fought it. she had had her bottle, rubbed her eyes and yawned. when i went to put her in the crib she stretched out, apparently on the brink of oblivion, and then sat up and began howling.

"fuck. no! go to sleep!"
"make me, traitor bitch"

finally, after an epic nap-battle, i got her to fall asleep.

i glanced at my watch. the nanny would be coming in 15 minutes. thank god.

Monday, May 01, 2006

back to work!

today is the last day of the first end of the beginning of the rest of my half life.

i go back to work tomorrow. back to the adult world. back to actual conversations with my peers. back to complex ideas and exciting new challenges. back to halogen lights, recirculated air, industrial carpeting, padded cubicles, turf battles, hoop jumping, all-day slouching, desk lunching, deadlines, subway commuting. back to work.

dutch was wondering how i managed to score leave for, essentially, the first year of my daughter's life. well. i asked for it. the family medical leave act stipulates that eligible employees are allowed to take 12 workweeks of unpaid leave after the birth of a child. some workplaces are more progressive than others. some bosses are more awesome than others. at my office, it so happens that people are allowed to take up to something like a year-and-a-half off and be guaranteed a job at the same level and same pay when they return. so i got my time off by simply asking for it. and the lord saw that it was good.

and, lo, i am grateful. this has by far been the most fulfilling, rewarding, fun, maddening, crazy-making, and shirt-staining year of my life -- even more so than that year in Nha Trang, when i was taught french and soup-making by a vietnamese hooker (i still think of you daily, Ngoc).

and so it is with a heavy heart that i return to a job that i am lucky and grateful to have.

luckily, my workweek spans from tuesday to saturday, so i will have every monday at home with the wee sproutling. mrs nice guy is home on thursdays. the other three days el nina will be in the care of our baby-blind nanny, the caribbean helen keller, who through strategic negligence will teach our child to entertain herself by eating rat droppings she finds near the tot lot trashcans.

who am i to complain when she'll have four out of seven days spent with parents? really. it's an embarrassingly good arrangement. we are lucky. i am not at all depressed.