Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Slovak Style Link

God bless the internet.

Never in the history of man has it been easier for two neighbors to be toxically rude and disrespectful to each other without ever having to actually speak in person. And that’s just one example of the amazing benefits the internet has brought us. If I could kiss Al Gore right now, I still wouldn’t.

We could go on for days about how the world wide web has improved interpersonal communications, but today I want to focus on the benefits it brings us in terms of our personal style, wealth, and ability to attract women. Specifically, I want to gush about how the internet has introduced me to Mr. Martin Železník, Slovakian Men's Style Coach.

I was just a regular, boring old day on LinkedIn, until I got the connection invitation that would change my life forever.

Hi Marc,

Nice to “meet” you,

I see you’re a speaker. I help men make more money and triple attention from women by developing their own authentic personal style.

If that's something you're interested in, let's connect.

Martin Železník l Men's Style Coach


This could be the break I’ve always needed. I mean, who doesn’t want more money, but TRIPLE ATTENTION from women!? That would be insane! Where do I sign, Martin?

Wait, I’d better not be too hasty. This is the internet, after all. I need to learn from my past mistakes with all those deposed but still super-rich Nigerian princes. Does Martin even care about me at all, or is this another scam?

Let’s look a little deeper into his LinkedIn profile.

His signature line reads:

Martin Železník l Men's Style Coach
I help men make more money and double their confidence in any situation by developing their own authentic personal style
Slovak Republic


Double confidence and triple attention from women, PLUS more money. This is sounding almost too good to be true, but there is a picture of Martin Železník right there to reassure me. The picture, however, is not insanely reassuring, by American standards, in the style/confidence/women’s attention/money category.

Martin has a thin, weaselly, “I’m super sure that I’m super cool” smile, and thin blonde hair cut close at the sides with an ocean wave-looking section on top that is gelled enough to preserve the individual comb tracks and could likely withstand a forty-knot wind. He does not appear as if he could grow any discernable amount of facial hair.

His shoulders are at a quarter turn, but his head is cocked back to the camera, as if to say, “Hey, what’s up, ladies? As you may have noticed, I have quite a bit of style and personal confidence. I also have an American LinkedIn account. Yes, it’s true.”

Captain Style Coach is rocking a blue Oxford-style button-down shirt, a beige V-neck sweater, and what appears to be a heavy black wool suit jacket of some kind. He scores bonus Slovakian style points by popping the collar on his jacket.

Based on the picture, I have to assume that if Members Only jackets were available in the Slovak Republic, Martin would own as many as he could afford.

All that being said, I’m not current on what is hip and trending in Slovakia at the moment, so maybe Martin is the Tom Selleck of Eastern Europe. I’m inclined to believe he’s on the level, because he seems to really care about helping me develop my own authentic personal style, based on his second communication.

Hi Marc,

Thanks for connecting with me.

I specialize in helping men make more money and double their confidence in any situation by developing their own authentic personal style.

I’m curious, Marc, what do you want to communicate with your clothes?


Wow! I have only recently connected with Martin and he’s already blowing my mind with insightful personal authentic style queries. And he cares enough to ask the tough questions. What do I want to communicate with my clothes?

I took a second to total up the amount of time in the last forty-seven years that I have spent thinking about my clothes. It’s in the neighborhood of ten to fifteen minutes total, so it’s safe to say I have no idea what I’ve been trying to communicate with them. I have given it some serious thought now that Martin has encouraged me, and I have come up with the following.

What I seem to be currently communicating with my clothes is, “Hello. I am a middle-aged man. I am not homeless.”

But is that what I want to communicate? Martin is getting me out of my middle-aged, non-homeless comfort zone and forcing me to come to grips with that tough question. I really don’t know what I want to communicate right now, but one thing is for sure – my current clothes-related communications are not helping me at all in the money/confidence/women attention department. Martin is a Slovakian style genius!

But what to do about it?

As if Martin could read my mind, he just sent me this urgent communique:

Hi Marc,

I’m offering all of my new LinkedIn prospects a free style diagnosis of 1 outfit of your choice to find out how is your current style and appearance helping you reach your goals.

Would you like to take advantage?


My style and appearance are related to my goals!?!? Holy crap, Martin, you are turning my whole world upside down right now. Hell yes, I would like to take advantage.

Free style diagnosis, here I come! I am currently wearing a black San Francisco Giants T-shirt with less than two holes in it, and khaki shorts. I can’t wait to find out if that’s correct or not. I’m really looking forward to doubling my confidence and increasing my income by an unspecified amount.

I’m not entirely sure what will happen when my wife finds out that I am experiencing triple attention from women, however, or how that will impact my confidence/money escalations, but we’ll cross that authentic personal style bridge when we get there.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Teaching Me Happiness


School started today.

Actually, let me write that the way it feels. SCHOOL STARTED TODAY!!!!

That doesn’t do it justice. How about 28-point font and some old-school emojis?

SCHOOL STARTED TODAY!!! :-) :-) :-) WOOT, WOOT!!! (Clinking champagne glasses)

I like summer as much as the next person, but when you work from home, summer can get fairly crowded and loud when three ever-growing boys are around the house all day. Or trapped inside the car with you on a three-week road trip. Always fighting. Just so much fighting.

But everything is better today. Today they went to school. Today, they are not at home with me. They may be fighting, but I can’t hear them, and if the school calls, I’m probably not going to answer. Not today, anyway.

Do you know what it sounds like inside my house right now? It sounds like a yellow Lab snoring. I imagine the angels singing in Heaven sound just like a sleeping Lab.

I woke up this morning, and like every morning in the past month or two, my feet hurt when I got out of bed. I think I have plantar fasciitis. It hurts. Today, however, I don’t care, because school has started.

Running hurts now, due to the probable fasciitis situation, so I’m actually gaining weight instead of losing some like I wanted to do. Bring it on. I don’t care. Not today, anyway, because school has started.

I forgot to put the trash bin out this morning and missed the truck. Now I will spiral into the nightmare of trash hoarding for the next three to six weeks as I slowly work myself out of the collection deficit. Doesn’t bother me a bit today, however, because school has started.

My old Ford Expedition’s driver window switch broke again, and the window is stuck halfway down. Do I care? Not today. School has started.

A couple of weeks ago, our new Suburban’s A/C stopped blowing cold air when a rock punctured the condenser, which apparently, is vitally important to making cold air. It cost $1300 that I didn’t have to get it fixed. It had to be fixed, however, since it’s going to be 105 degrees today. Am I worried about any of that? Nope. School has started.

And speaking of money I don’t have, besides the looming abyss of college costs, our boys are going to start driving soon, which means my insurance rates are about to double with the first boy, triple with the second one, and then the policy will probably just be canceled altogether when Son Number Three gets his license. Doesn’t even faze me today. School has started.

And to top it all off, I had a stiff neck this morning when I woke up, because my wife stole one of my two pillows last night. My neck is still a little sore, but I don’t care, because school has started.

There was no way I was going to try to steal that pillow back and risk waking her up. She’s a teacher. They need all the sleep they can get, because school has started.

Thank you, teachers. We love you. You can have all the pillows you want.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


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Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Clash of Siblings


My wife and I caved. We caved hard.

Well, to be fair, since she’s going to read this and I don’t want to get into more trouble than I’m already in, it was probably me who did most of the caving.

OK, all of it.

She already went back to school. That’s essentially the problem. She left me here all alone with the three boys. We had a fun summer, and together we played fairly effective man-down zone defense. But now she’s off enjoying the peace and quiet of teaching high school math, and I’m stranded here, a week before the boys go back to school, hopelessly outnumbered three to one.

There was nothing I could do. They got on my last nerve. I was out of options. I snapped.

Sure, I tried movies. We watched them all. We watched the Batman movies. Everything from Lego Batman to Keaton, Clooney, all the way through Christian Bale, and into the who-paid-to-have-this-guy-cast-as-batman Ben Affleck debacle.

We watched Planet of the Apes, Rise of Planet of the Apes, and Dawn of Planet of the Apes. I have no idea why.

We watched Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2. Twice. You heard me.

When we passed through Ocean’s Eleven and got all the way to Captain Ron, I finally said enough is enough. I was considering calling Child Protective Services on myself.

“Get away from the TV! Go find something to do.”

The things they found to do were argue, yell at each other, get into fights, and cry.

“Go get in the pool!”

In the pool, they forgot to swim. Instead they decided to argue, yell at each other, get into fights, and cry.

“OK, fine. If you can’t get along, we’ll do chores! How do you like them apples?”

We cleaned the house. We cleaned the backyard. We trimmed trees. We cut grass. We weeded vast expanses of lawn. We washed cars. And during it all they decided to argue, yell at each other, get into fights, and cry.

I simply couldn’t take it anymore. Like I said, I snapped.

We have always had a “no video games” rule in our house. In general, my wife and I believe that video games warp their tiny brains and turn them into moody, obsessed, psychotic little blobs of pasty-white flesh.

I still believe that, but I just don’t care anymore.

“Here’s an iPad. Why don’t you get that Clash Royale game you heard about?”

“What? Dad, are you feeling OK?”

“Shut up and get the game.”

They have all since graduated to something called Clash of Clans, and they are officially obsessed. They have learned an entirely new language in just a few short days. The people at Rosetta Stone should look into this technology for language acquisition.

Here’s a sample conversation I just heard when I was able to pry them away from the screens long enough to eat lunch:

“Bro, what if you put your dark elixir in front of your magic archer, with a dragon queen and a scarmy behind them?”

“Dude, then you could totally balloon a city hall with your pekka. But your barracks would be completely hard-pushed.”

“Not if your wall breakers were in front of a barbarian king or an archer queen. Then your goblins could balloon a hog rider, with a lava bowler hound golem….”

I tuned out after that.

We don’t have normal conversations anymore. It’s all they can talk about, 24/7, but I don’t care. Because they are talking, not yelling.

For now, I will take it. I will pull the plug the minute school starts and go back to being a responsible parent who cares about their mental health.

“How much longer can we play?”

“Shut up and play the game. Don’t ask questions.”

Right now, we’re dealing with my mental health.

School cannot start soon enough.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


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Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Driving Me Crazy


Here’s the problem: A millennium or so ago, I used to be a sixteen-year-old male with a brand-new driver’s license, and I remember what I was like.

***Spoiler Alert*** I was not a good driver.

Within three days of passing my driver’s test (with a score of one hundred percent, I might add) I managed to get my parents’ car up on its side in a ditch.

I didn’t waste any time proving that test scores and real-life common sense are two completely separate things. I mean, I didn’t even have the actual plastic license yet before I learned my first major motor vehicle physics lesson. I still had the temporary printed half-sheet of paper folded up in my pocket when I stood on the passenger door and climbed straight up out of the driver’s window.

Well over the posted speed limit on a country road, plus a ninety-degree corner, plus an idiot driver equals one pretty banged up Audi 5000, and thanks to the miracle of seatbelts, three unscathed moronic teenage boys.

Fast-forward through many more hair-raising automobile exploits and an eventual increase in calm and skill level, and we arrive at yesterday – the day my wife had me scheduled to take Son Number One, who is almost fifteen, out to an abandoned parking lot somewhere and start the process of teaching him to drive.

I just don’t think that’s a good idea at all.

I successfully stalled long enough yesterday and again today to run out of time. Things just “kept coming up.” But there is very little chance, and by very little, I mean zero, that she’s going to let that happen again tomorrow.

She keeps saying, “He has to learn, and the sooner the better,” but I just don’t agree. I see no upside for letting him get his license. Ever.

I know what he will do. It will not be pretty. Tires will smoke. Brakes will howl. Metal will crumple. Insurance claims will be processed. Sleep will be lost. Metric tons of money will vaporize from our bank accounts.

She keeps trying to make the argument that he won’t be as bad as I was. I keep agreeing with her. Based on what I’m seeing from him, he’ll be much worse.

But she won’t listen to reason. In the end, she keeps defaulting to the argument I hear other people make all the time. They say it’s great when the first kid starts to drive because they can take over shuttling the younger siblings to school and sports.

But as far as I can tell, that’s probably the worst argument for it. When I put our Audi on its side, I was with two guys I actually liked. We were all getting along, and no one was mad or yelling at each other.

I can’t imagine what will happen inside the car when it is only occupied by our sons, whom, based on our observations, alternate rapidly between hating each other and just barely tolerating each other.

They might drive off a cliff. (Which, incidentally, I also almost did in my parents Jeep, about three months after getting my license.)

Please pray for our family. And our eligibility for auto insurance.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Thou Shalt Not Floss


Our three boys spent the last week off at church camp. The two younger ones were here in town, while Son Number One went all the way down to Los Angeles with his high school group.

He and I got up before dawn on Saturday to head off to the busses. His bag was ninety-nine percent packed the night before. When we woke up, he was supposed to brush his teeth and then pack his toiletries and his phone charger.

Off we went to the church to get him loaded up onto his bus. “Do you have everything?” I asked him.

His ears filtered my question through his small, inoperative fourteen-year-old brain, and he answered, “Yes! Quit asking me!”

I wrestled a hug out of him and sent him on his way. Fast forward to last Thursday afternoon when I picked him up. We had no contact with him all week, since the youth group leaders took everyone’s phones away on the bus trip there, and gave them back on the bus trip home. That made packing his phone charger the morning of the trip kind of a moot point.

What wasn’t supposed to be a moot point was packing his toiletries. As we were walking to the car and he was busy answering my questions about the week with super-descriptive one-word answers, he suddenly remembered something noteworthy.

“I forgot my toiletries bag, so I couldn’t brush my teeth all week.”

*record scratch*

“What?” I asked, hoping I had misheard his incredibly long sentence.

“Yeah, I totally thought I packed it, but it wasn’t there.”

“I watched you pack it,” I said.

“I know, I thought I did. I thought I put it in the same pocket as my phone charger.”

“I think you did, too. Did you take everything out of the bag to look?”

“Trust me, dad, I looked a bunch of times.”

“So, you just didn’t brush your teeth all week?” I asked, still not having fully wrapped my brain around what was coming out of his mouth, besides the halitosis. “Did you at least floss?”

“I chewed a lot of gum.”

Oh, great, those four out of five dentists will be thrilled. *sound of a blood vessel bursting in my brain*

“Did you tell somebody?”

“I’m not going to use someone else’s toothbrush. That’s gross.”

*sound of an even larger blood vessel bursting in my brain* “Um… not to use someone else’s toothbrush. To get you your own!”

“No. No one’s going to have an extra toothbrush, dad. Geez.”

*more blood vessels breaking, calming breaths*

“Why didn’t you at least ask someone to borrow floss? That’s a one-time use product.”

“I told you, I chewed a lot of gum.”

“Where did you get all this gum?”

“Our group leader took us on a walk to a gas station to get snacks. I bought a two-liter of root beer, too.”

“That’s nice. Do you know what else they sometimes sell at gas station convenience stores?... You know what, never mind.”

I opted to simply drive out of the parking lot in silence and continue the silence all the way home, for fear of having a full-blown stroke while operating a moving vehicle. I tried to think about dogs playing fetch. That’s a nice thought.

When we got home, he grabbed his sleeping bag and pillow and asked if I would get his duffel bag.

“Sure,” I said, still thinking about Labs and border collies leaping in the air for sticks and Frisbees. I carried it by the shoulder strap and was halfway to the front door when I looked down and saw it.

*second record scratch of the day*

I walked into the house where my wife was already getting super-descriptive one-word answers to her questions.

“Please tell me this whole thing was just some kind of elaborate and really stupid joke,” I said, falsely hopeful. “You brushed your teeth all week, right?”

*first record scratch of the day for my wife*

“You didn’t brush your teeth?” she asked.

“No, I couldn’t. I forgot my toiletry bag.”

“This one?” I asked, trying very hard not to have a totally paralyzing stroke, even though I was not driving anymore. “This one, here, in the end pocket of your duffel bag? The MESH end pocket!? The pocket on the outside of the bag that I can see right into without opening the bag or even needing to unzip it? This toiletry bag right here under your phone charger!?!?!?”

“What? There is no way that was in there the whole time. I totally looked, like, a bunch of times.”

As I stared into my wife’s beautiful eyes for some shred of logic or reason, I heard the sweet, welcomed sound of the rest of the blood vessels in my brain exploding.

No, no. Don’t call me an ambulance. Just get me some gum.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

No Kids at Home Improvement


All our kids are gone! All our kids are gone!

I’ll probably shout the same thing when the third one finally ships off to:

A) College
B) Boot Camp
C) Taco Bell New Employee Orientation Day

(Complete toss-up at this point)

This happy occasion, however, is the result of church camp. All three boys are gone for the whole week, so my wife and I are doing what every healthy, loving, happily married couple does when they finally get the house to themselves – home improvement.

We dropped the boys off on Monday afternoon and immediately raced to dinner, followed by a romantic trip to Home Depot to browse the aisles in peace and quiet.

Then we headed home to get some more ice and Advil. My wife seems to be doing a little better than me after our week of chiseling off our old hardwood floors. I’m still nursing a few sore muscles and joints, pretty much everywhere on my body that I have a muscle and/or a joint. Back when we were first married, we could renovate all day long, but now we need to take it a little slower.

Our first full day without kids was spent hanging out with Jason, Paul, and Larry – the three gentlemen who are installing our beautiful new fake hardwood floors. Thankfully, the new floors do not get glued down, because after last week, if anyone ever tries to glue anything else down to my concrete slab, there is going to be a fight.

The first thing the guys did was remove half the downstairs baseboards, so we were immediately able to start our kid-free week off right – by sanding and repainting our old baseboards. They look amazing!

Today we had breakfast with Paul and Larry and then retired to the pool area to sand and paint. Around noon, we were able to get away for an intimate lunch at the hotdog shack in front of Home Depot when we made a run for more paint and rollers.

When we were finally finished with the morning’s allotment of baseboards, my wife had an amazing idea. She whispered it in my ear. It seemed like the perfect time, so we snuck off to the guest bedroom.

And started to paint it!

If you need us the rest of the week, we’ll be here, in the throes of renovation.

We might even paint the living room!

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I'm Floored

My fingers are numb and my hands hurt whenever I breathe. Also, the rest of my body hurts. I’m typing this with the end of a ballpoint pen I have duct-taped to my wrist.

You see, we are having new floors installed in our house next week, partially because my wife has wanted new floors since the day we moved in, but mostly because our Labrador retriever retrieved a bottle of blue food coloring from the counter one afternoon and ate it on the carpet.

It looks like someone murdered a Smurf in our living room.

Half of our downstairs is carpet, and the other half is hardwood. It’s the hardwood part that has crippled me.

You see, along with the rather large sum of money our flooring guy quoted us for the actual installation of the new flooring, came a slightly smaller, but still substantial amount of money quoted for removing our existing hardwood.

He explained that we were more than welcome to remove the old hardwood floors ourselves, but the $1600 quoted to remove them was such a big amount in order to cover the possibility that the floors were installed with the Devil Glue.

He explained that when you try to remove the first board from the concrete floor, you will see one of two colors of glue underneath. If the glue is dark brown and hard, the old boards will pop right off the concrete like they just can’t wait to get out of the house. And if the glue is light tan and spongy, your best bet is to sell the house and move somewhere with dark brown glue.

I laughed. “Ha, ha,” I said, “it can’t be that bad.”

On Monday I popped up a four-inch section of the first board, after fighting with it for about twenty minutes, to reveal the dreaded spongy tan Devil Glue.

That wasn’t so bad, I thought to myself. And $1600 is a lot of money. I can do this.

I cannot do this. Our hardwood floors are apparently installed to withstand a category five tornado, and a category one thousand hurricane, combined.

If all the major and minor earthquake faults in California triggered at once, and the entire state was ground into a fine dust by a three bazillion magnitude quake, the only recognizable thing floating out into the Pacific Ocean would be our entryway and kitchen floors, still joined by a short hallway, completely unscathed by something so trivial.

Our floor guy’s advice was to use a Skil saw and actually cut the floor into six-inch strips, perpendicular to the length of the planks. I did that. We now have sawdust on every single square inch of the house, including the ceiling. We have sawdust in the pockets of jackets that were hanging in the back-bedroom closets upstairs.

Besides having six months of dusting ahead of us, and some seriously impressive boogers, I’m not sure the sawing effort helped greatly in any other way.

I have purchased every single prying, scraping, and chiseling tool offered at both Home Depot and Lowe’s, and in the past day and a half I have managed to remove about six square feet of flooring – an area roughly the size of two kitchen chairs.

When I was able to stand mostly upright again, I even suggested the idea to my wife of buying a Bosch handheld planer I saw at Lowe’s, and grinding the boards off, one by one. Plus, I thought it was a great excuse to own my own handheld planer. She politely pointed out that that was probably my worst idea ever, since we would need to back a dump truck up to the front door and load the resulting sawdust out of the house with snow shovels.

I told her politely that it was certainly not my worst idea ever, since about three square feet in I was seriously considering whether I could open some windows and adequately contain a gasoline fire that could burn the floors off. And also grenades.

She agreed those ideas were worse.

I’ll tell you what is starting to sound more and more like a good idea: paying our flooring guy $1600 to handle the Devil Glue. When you think about it, that’s pretty cheap compared to the cost of the full body cast I’m going to end up in to get the next six square feet.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Freedom from WiFi


We are traveling on summer vacation right now. It’s hard. It used to be a lot easier before we had all this technology.

We have three main issues that are taking up most of our time and energy: charging cords, cell signals, and WiFi.

Our three-week vacation apparently required a bag of charging cords the size of a basketball, conveniently tangled and knotted into the shape of an actual basketball. We somehow managed to get them all loose as the miles clicked off, which was a mistake. After two weeks on the road, the boys have managed to get us down to two cords between the five of us. I have confiscated mine. The rest of the family is on their own. It’s like four dogs scrapping for a single pork chop.

Our trip centered around going to Yellowstone National Park, which the government inconveniently placed in the middle of the wilderness. And in order to get there, you have to drive through miles and miles of wilderness that isn’t even associated with the park. It’s a lot of wilderness.

The end result of all that wilderness is a distinct lack of cell coverage. And on top of all that, we just added Son Number One to the cell plan, so ninety-five percent of our data is immediately sucked into the teenager data void. I already upgraded our plan to unlimited texts, because my wife knows more than two people, but I can’t bring myself to go to unlimited data. We have Verizon, and they want what amounts to a monthly mortgage payment on a large house for the privilege of having unlimited data.

On the plan we can afford without moving into a refrigerator box, we are allowed 8 GB of data between all of us. A GB of data is a mysterious unit of measure that fluctuates wildly in size depending on many factors, all of which are controlled by Verizon. It can equal as much as five full days of web browsing some months, and as little as five seconds of a video the next month. We never know which it will be, so consequently, WiFi is our best friend.

Before the advent of WiFi, when traveling, you checked into a new place, unpacked a little, then went to explore the area. Now, we check in and everyone explores their immediate area for the little sheet of paper that tells us the WiFi name and password. Then comes the gathering of the devices – phones, Kindles, iPads, laptops. Then I spend the next two hours either putting all the devices on the WiFi, or repeating the WiFi password (proudweasel264) about a million times to those trying to do it themselves, while they complain that it’s not working, which it doesn’t, when you spell it “weezal.”

The closer we got to Yellowstone, the sparser the cell signals became, and the more rare the WiFi became, until we found ourselves in a hellish three-day period in a house in the woods near West Yellowstone with absolutely no WiFi, and one single fluctuating bar of cell service, which was just enough to make your phone think it might be able to do something, then eventually give up.

We have worked our way back westward toward civilization and are now spending the Fourth of July holiday week with more extended family in a very big, very modern house in Sunriver, Oregon. It had great WiFi… on Monday.

Yesterday, it left a little to be desired. By ten in the morning I was on the phone with the rental agency to let them know that the WiFi had quit and my attempts to reset the cable modem had failed. They patched me into a call with Bend Broadband, who promptly led me through the very same troubleshooting steps I had taken myself, then shrugged on the other end of the phone and said they would need to send out a technician. On Friday. Between one and five o’ clock.

I guess wilderness is not the only obstacle to a reliable connection.

But I can’t complain. Not having WiFi has been very freeing. It has freed me from the confines of the house and the vacation activities.

The folks at this Starbucks all say hello.

Have a great Independence Day enjoying your freedom. Happy Birthday, America!

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Yellowstone, Red Face, Purple Feet

We are in the middle of our epic family road trip adventure to Yellowstone National Park (Motto: America’s Hot Tub, with Bears).

Everything hurts as I write this – my back, my face, my knees, my feet, my wallet – everything. 

Yellowstone is the nation’s largest national park, covering ninety-eight percent of the lower forty-eight states, and much of Canada. On our first day in the park we entered through the South Gate, which is in Arkansas, and exited though the West Gate, located on the Oregon coast.

One thing you don’t realize about Yellowstone until it’s too late is that the entire park is above thirty thousand feet in elevation. Not only is there very little oxygen to share with your fellow hikers, but there is way too much sun.

Yellowstone is tricky, however, and fools you into forgetting about the sun by giving you late June temperatures in the low teens and sixty mile per hour winds.

In addition to a wicked sunburn that hurts my face, I also can’t feel my feet anymore. Besides sitting in the car for forty-eight hours, waiting to make a left turn into a particular geyser’s parking lot, once you find a parking spot a few days later, the geyser is still six or seven hours away on foot. They should really warn you that flip flops are not the way to go.

I tried to suggest wider roads and drive-thru geysers to one of the rangers, but he said something about fragile geothermal areas, blah, blah, and I tuned out.

I also suggested to another ranger that they put the geysers on a more regular schedule to make planning your day easier. I mean, Yellowstone boasts eighty percent of the world’s geysers, and the only one they have on any kind of a schedule is Old Faithful. And they can’t even seem to nail the time down on that one to anything closer than a twenty-minute window!

As far as all the other ones go, you walk three hundred miles to see the geyser and it might not even geys! That can be disappointing for the kids, and lead the adults to wish that each geyser had a bar, which is another suggestion that the rangers seemed to dismiss a little too quickly. I’m not too sure about these people.

In addition to all the geysers, they keep quite a few animals in the park, not the least of which is the grizzly bear. I’m not sure why they think keeping dangerous bears near all the human tourists is a good idea, but then I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, based on how the rangers dismissed all my reasonable suggestions for park improvements.

My theory is that they keep the bears in the park to boost sales of bear-repelling pepper spray. Bear spray is like really industrial strength Mace, and comes in a pressurized spray cannister the size of a soda can. I’m not sure how much Mace costs, but bear spray retails in the park for a little under five thousand dollars an ounce.

But you can’t put a price on the safety of your family, and by “you” in this case I mean my wife. I can put a price on our safety, and it’s well below five thousand dollars an ounce, but my wife strongly disagreed. And she strongly disagreed with that look. You guys know the look. So now we own bear spray.

Thankfully, the bear spray cannister remains fully charged after our first day in the park, which is much more than I can say for myself or any of my lobster-red family.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go ice half my body and apply heat to the other half. I’ll catch up with you after we get done with our National Park adventure. Hopefully I will still have a full can of bear spray that I can sell to you, cheap. I’ll let you have it for the low price of only three thousand dollars an ounce.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Psychic Travel Log, Volume IV

We leave tomorrow on a two-week family vacation. We are taking a road trip halfway across the United States to Yellowstone National Park to see hot smelly water shoot out of the ground at inexplicably regular intervals.

I’m really not sure what we were thinking. I mean, Yellowstone sounds amazing, but we have to get there first. And we have to get home. And we’ll all be in the same car. Together.

We’ve been home, all together, for the past couple weeks, ever since the schools were rude enough to tell us not to send our kids there anymore. Our house is over three thousand square feet in size, not including the garage and backyard, and yet our children cannot seem to find enough space to stay off each other’s nerves. Or ours.

They are, quite simply, really annoying. Two of them are teenagers, which means they are permanently in a bad mood. The other one is a teenager catalyst. Son Number Three is the vinegar to their teenage baking soda. It’s a burbling mess when they are together.

So, in a moment of complete stupidity, we have decided to reduce their available square footage from three thousand down to roughly ten. That should go smoothly.

Since I will probably be a sobbing mess, or heavily medicated, during the non-driving hours, I anticipate being unable to keep an accurate travel log. Instead, I have once again channeled my psychic powers of clairvoyance to envision exactly what the trip will be like, in order to write the travel log beforehand…

Day 1 – Rocklin to Winnemucca, Nevada – We threatened the children with their very lives seven times before we even reached I-80 (six blocks). We stopped the car in Reno and made the kids run laps around the Atlantis Casino while my wife and I went inside and ro-sham-bo’d to see which one of us got cocktails. I lost. Nevada is hell. Winnemucca is every bit as magical as it sounds.

Day 2 – Winnemucca, Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah – Correction: Nevada is worse than hell. The boys are taking turns to keep up a continuous stream of complaints and everything is ugly and brown. During a lunch disagreement I was hit in the back of the head with a flying turkey and cheese sandwich. Eventually the three boys got into a full-on fist fight in the car and we just let it go, because it was our only hope to break up the soul-crushing monotonous boredom of I-80.

In an unforeseen turn of events, Utah is even worse than Nevada because the road is completely straight. There is literally nothing to do - not even steer. I set a Chevrolet Suburban land speed record while everyone was asleep after the melee. An hour later, I fell asleep for fifteen minutes and it didn’t matter. The road is that straight. Boring is no longer an adequate word. After approximately three months of driving we made it to Salt Lake City. Mormons everywhere. We fit right in in our Suburban.

Day 3 – Salt Lake City, Utah to West Yellowstone, Montana – We have left I-80. We are now on I-15. That is the single most exciting thing that has happened on this trip so far. My wife bought a blackout sleeping mask and $8,000 noise-cancelling headphones from a Best Buy in Salt Lake City and has completely checked out of the vacation. I do not blame her. It’s every man for themselves now. We made it to West Yellowstone by making two of the three boys ride on the roof rack for the last seventy-five miles. It was the only way.

Day 4 – Yellowstone National Park – We drove directly to Old Faithful, which only took eight hours, since our line of six thousand cars drove three and a half miles an hour in between bison traffic jams. The boys complained that the buffalo weren’t exciting enough. We took a picture of an elk. Everyone fought over the camera. The camera broke. We missed Old Faithful by three minutes and had to wait sixty-one minutes to see it again. Those were the nicest sixty-one minutes of the trip, because we were all waiting one hundred yards apart around the perimeter of the geyser.

Old Faithful was amazing. Then we had to get back in the car. Two million buffalo later we were back at the hotel. My wife and I had a long talk that lasted thirty-five seconds, and we decided that we had definitely seen all the good stuff already.

Day 5 – Yellowstone National Park to Idaho Falls, Idaho – After a drive that I have permanently blocked out of my memory, we sold the Suburban for well below market value in Idaho Falls and purchased plane tickets home, with all five seats in different rows.

The boys are home now, and my wife and I are at an undisclosed hotel where they can’t find us.

Happy summer travels, everyone!

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Summer Cell-cation

On the surface, summer seemed like a good idea. No more school meant no more lunches, homework, carpool, crying parents, etc. But what we didn’t factor in was that the boys would be here. In the house. All. The. Time.

That wouldn’t be so much of an issue if they didn’t seem to hate each other. On second thought, “hate” might be unfair. Loath is probably more accurate.

Since the last school bell rang, they have fought continuously. UFC fighters should come here to get a lesson on stamina. Yelling, screaming, tears, wrestling, punches… and that’s just first thing in the morning about who gets to use the bathroom.

There are three of them. We have three bathrooms…

You should see what happens when they get to the toaster. We only have one toaster. Blood has been shed over toast, my friends.

My wife and I want to leave, but the amount of time we have in mind would be considered an act of criminal negligence.

Our home phone, on the other hand, decided it had had enough. It went on vacation without us. I mean, the actual body of the phone is still here on the kitchen counter, but apparently all its internal virtual phone-ness has left. It has moved to Huasna, CA.

We have one of our old cell phones as a home phone for the boys, because we try very hard not to appear criminally negligent. Right there on the home screen, reporting a much nicer day, weather-wise, than we are having, our phone inexplicably thinks it’s in someplace called Huasna. (Since I have no idea how to pronounce that, I am going with “Wah-snah,” but you are free to pronounce it “Who-as-nay,” or “Fresno,” or however else you see fit.)

I don’t know exactly what happened. I’m not sure if our phone got as tired of the boys’ constant fighting as we did, or if it just needed a break from the big city hustle and bustle here in Rocklin. Either way, it picked a place where no one would ever find it.

I looked up Huasna, CA on Google maps, and let me tell you, the middle of nowhere is Times Square compared to Huasna. I’m not sure how my phone decided to go there, since I have never been within a hundred miles of downtown Huasna. And when I say “downtown,” I mean the intersection of Huasna Road and Huasna Townsite Road, where there is nothing.

If my phone has been there more than a week, I’m assuming it’s already the mayor of Huasna. I think it will be a fair and just leader of the Huasnians. It has been a reliable and trustworthy phone, and it has all the answers, since it has a Google search bar on the home screen.

I have to assume that the Huasnians have no electricity or running water, so they might never have seen a cell phone before. For all I know, they are worshipping our home phone as a god. I hope the power doesn’t go to its head.

Speaking of power, I also have to assume it will be home soon, since it will have no way to charge itself in the rolling hills of the Huasna countryside. And I’m guessing it hasn’t called to check in because the Huasnians have never heard of cell signals or wifi. Someone will probably bring it home in a month or two in a cart pulled by donkeys or oxen.

No matter, though. Even if it gets back soon, we don’t need a home phone for a while. In a few days we’re going to all get into a car together and drive across the country.

Together.

Sitting right next to each other with our knees touching. What could possibly go wrong?

Maybe they could drop me off in Huasna to visit the phone?

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


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Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Ask Smidge - Special Graduation Edition - Repost


Son Number One “graduates” from eighth grade tomorrow and moves on to high school. (It’s not lost on me that this is happening on D-day.)

There is going to be a big “promotion” ceremony tomorrow. They are going to have a ceremony, but at least they are too embarrassed to call it a graduation. Do you know what the promotion ceremony was called when I left junior high?
“The last day of school.”

Do you know what the ceremony consisted of?
The bell. Because we weren’t graduating.

So, in honor of another “graduation” for our oldest son (his fourth so far), here’s the Ask Smidge column from last year’s graduation season. Enjoy!

Due to the incredible popularity of recent Ask Smidge columns (and we’re using the word “incredible” in its literal meaning here), we have been flooded with questions at the new email address – asksmidge@gmail.com

A number of topics have been queried, but we have noticed a majority of you have graduation-related questions this time of year, so we’re doing a special graduation edition this week.

  
Smidge,
We don’t have kids yet, but my sister just invited us to our niece’s preschool graduation. Is that really a thing? Do we bring a gift?
Signed,
Kidless in Carson City

Dear Kidless,
Sadly, yes, preschool “graduations” have become a reality. It’s a bunch of two-foot-tall paste eaters whose only requirement for graduation was that their parents kept paying for them to be there, but they’ll “graduate,” nonetheless. Don’t be shocked if they have them in little caps and gowns! (You may, of course, be appalled at the self-celebrating state we have devolved to, just don’t be shocked.) The best gift you can bring is a flask of clear liquor for yourself, and a promise never to put your future children in a preschool that has graduation ceremonies.
Good luck!



Smidge,
Our son’s kindergarten teacher just emailed us about a “small graduation ceremony” they’re planning for the last day of school. Graduating from kindergarten? My son still can’t use scissors correctly, he licks the other kids, and he’s barely even aware that he was in school. What am I missing?
Signed,
Confused in Columbus

Dear Confused,
Please see answer above and just sub in “kindergarten” every time you see “preschool.”



Smidge,
What’s with these weird flat mortarboard hats?
Signed,
Graduating in Grand Rapids

Dear Graduating,
Funny story! The flat mortarboard cap with the tassel that every graduate dons today actually started as a fraternity prank at Tulane University in 1893. Apparently, there was quite the rivalry between Phi Delta Gamma and Kappa Kappa Theta back then, and the Phi Delts came up with a real zinger at the end of the year.
They convinced the Kappas that it was a new school policy to wear a “uniform” at graduation. Then they proceeded to get incredibly drunk and come up with the dumbest looking hat they could think of: a flat board sewed onto a skull cap, with a darling little tassel hanging off one side.
They added the gown to the mix and convinced the Kappas that it was super cool to go naked underneath. Come graduation day, the Phi Delts showed up in their caps and gowns, so the Kappas thought nothing of it. But just before hitting the stage, all the Phi Delts tossed their mortarboard caps in the air and took their robes off, unrolling their suit pants from their knees and putting on their snappy fedoras they had been hiding under the robes. They strode across the stage in their three-piece suits, leaving the poor, duped, and naked-underneath Kappas with no alternative but to wear their ridiculous caps and gowns to accept their diplomas.
The prank worked perfectly, but it backfired on the rest of us. The Tulane dean, perhaps still drunk from Mardi Gras, loved the Kappa’s outfits and adopted them for all future graduation ceremonies. Deans from neighboring colleges, not wanting to be seen as non-hip, went along, and the rest is history.   



Smidge,
My pot-smoking grandson is graduating from high school with a 2.3 GPA. What should we get him for a graduation gift?
Signed,
Unimpressed in Olympia

Dear Unimpressed,
A McDonald’s application and an alarm clock.



Smidge,
Our daughter is graduating from Dartmouth after six years. It took her a while, and more than a few student loans, but she is finally getting her art history degree. We are so proud! Any ideas for the perfect graduation gift for our little princess?
Signed,
Beaming in Boise

Dear Beaming,
$350,000, a McDonald’s application, and an alarm clock.



Happy graduation, America! Now get out there and tackle life! Or first grade.

(And remember, be sure to email all your burning questions to asksmidge@gmail.com)

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Once Upon a Time, 2019

I have been lucky enough over the last six years to get to help young elementary students write stories each week. In the past I’ve worked with kindergartners, but this year I got to write stories with first graders. At the end of each year, I compile them all into a real book that their parents and grandparents can buy.

Here are a couple samples from this year’s edition. Prepare yourself for a trip deep inside the mind of the American first grader… Enjoy!


Chocolate Surprise (alternate title: Extremely Questionable Dentist)

Once upon a time there was a boy named Sparkle who was eighteen inches tall and always busy looking for one of his friends. He was friends with a three-foot-tall girl named Elsa who had fire power. They were both friends with a tall girl, who was at least seven feet tall, named Lilly, who loved playing with all her friends more than anything in the world.

One morning Lilly and Elsa were helping Sparkle find his friend. They found him at the beach in Hawaii where they also found one hundred baby kittens in a treasure box. When Elsa opened the box, all the kittens jumped out and some of them even jumped onto the faces of the three friends. While the friends were trying to get the kittens off their faces, some of the little furry cats got away and ran up a large hill.

Once all the kittens had jumped out of the chest, the friends saw brown treasure in the bottom of the box that the kittens had been sitting on. The whole box was filled with chocolate pennies!

Just then, a giant cat came bolting out of a cave near the water and ran up the big hill after the kittens. All of a sudden, a spaceship crash landed in the volcano that was next to their beach. The three friends grabbed the chocolate pennies and ran for the volcano, climbed up, jumped into the spaceship after the space man had gotten out, quickly fixed it, and took off into space.

They flew the spaceship for a whole two seconds until they arrived at Planet Forest, where they landed. As soon as they landed, strange forest creatures attacked their ship, took it completely apart, grabbed the three friends, and threw them all the way back to Earth, where they landed in New Mexico. Luckily, Lilly had hung on to the chocolate treasure, none of which melted on reentry.

Meanwhile, back in Hawaii, the spaceman had climbed out of the volcano, saddled up the giant cat, and rode it all the way to New Mexico to go beat up the friends for stealing his spaceship. As soon as he arrived in Santa Fe, the fight began.

The massive cat ran over and scratched all three friends on their faces. Elsa took immediate action and used her fire power to set the giant cat's tail on fire. The cat screeched and ran a mile away, with his tail burning all the way.

But as he ran past, his flaming tail swished back and forth wildly, and it hit all three friends, picking them up, and throwing them all the way back to Hawaii, where they landed next to their house and their pet pony.

To celebrate, they ate all the chocolate pennies at once, then felt a little weird, so they went to the dentist. He told them that they all had cavities which could turn them evil if they didn’t take care of them, so they all decided to get them filled with candy, which was a special the dentist was offering that week.

The end.


Unexpected Love Song (alternate title: Ratt Sings Cheap Trick?)

Once upon a time there was a monster named Horn, who was microscopic and lived in the ocean. He was friends with a carrot named Backpack who lived in the mountains. They were both friends with snake named Sprinkles who was only two inches long and lived in the forest.

One morning the three friends were waking up from a sleepover at Sprinkles’ house in the forest. Suddenly, they saw a giant rat inside the house, coming right for Sprinkles the snake. The mean old rat bit Sprinkles right on the tail. Backpack the carrot sprang into action and grabbed his friend Sprinkles and pulled him into the snow outside the door.

Horn, the microscopic ocean monster, grabbed the big rat by the tail, swung him around in the air three million times, then slapped him across his ugly rat face and sent him flying five thousand hundred million feet away. [Just under ninety-five million miles]

Horn and Backpack took Sprinkles the snake to the animal hospital which was two hundred feet away from the house, and the veterinarian used his magic powers to heal the little snake's tail.

When they got back to Sprinkles’ house, they went inside and sat down to rest, but all of a sudden Sprinkles started to yell. The rat had returned somehow and had snuck out of a hole in the wall and jumped onto the little snake's back.

This time it was Backpack's turn to teach the big rat a lesson. The carrot reached under the sink and got a huge rat sticky trap and threw it at the big rat that was attacking his friend. The rat became hopelessly stuck to the trap, and the three friends picked it up and took it to the rat jail that was only ten miles away.

But the rat was so strong that eventually, he unstuck himself, and broke out of the special rat jail, and ran the whole ten miles back to Sprinkles’ house. Instead of attacking them again, he sat outside the house and sang a very special song about love.

As soon as the three friends came outside to hear the lovely song, the rat attacked them again. The song had been a trick!

Sprinkles, who had had just about enough of this rat, grabbed it by the tail, and began slamming it into the ground. The rat was undeterred, and he got away from the snake and chased the three friends away from the house. But the three friends were much faster than the rat, and they led him all over everywhere on a wild goose chase, and eventually the rat got lost and ended up at a Target store.

Since the rat had a little cash on him, he decided to buy gentlemen’s pants, shirts, hats, and a fake mustache and beard. He dressed up in his new clothing and went back to their house, pretending to be a person, and when they answered the door, he tossed a fishing hook into the house, hoping they would bite it.

Horn the microscopic ocean monster bit down on the hook, because he wasn't fooled, and knew the gentlemen at the door was really the rat in disguise. When the rat started to pull on the hook, Horn was planning to clobber him again, but the snake yelled, "Stop it! We know it's you. You're not being nice."

The rat said, "I’m sorry! I was only trying to get you closer so we could be friends, because I never had any friends."

They invited him in to be friends and then the four of them had a play date at the park with juice boxes and tomato soup.

The end.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

47 at 47


I am turning 47 years old in a couple days, which is hard for my brain to accept, since it regularly tells my body I’m still 25. My knees, my back, and my hamstrings, however, agree with the calendar.

They say with age, comes wisdom. I wish that were more true. Nonetheless, in honor of living through another trip around the sun, I have added to my list of thoughts, observations, and acquired “wisdom.”

Here it is - one for each year. You’re welcome, America.


1.  There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who prefer the toilet paper to come off the top of the roll, and those who are wrong.

2.  If beds were advertised the same way as tents, a queen-size mattress would “sleep nine adults comfortably.”

3.  The three-second rule has a lot of leeway depending on if what you dropped was the last one.

4.  People who say things like, “We’re going to cross-functionalize and parallel task your mission-critical bandwidth,” don’t understand what they’re saying any more than you do.

5.  And I don’t understand why disappointed is not the opposite of appointed.

6.  Pi and the circumference of a circle have a similar relationship to pie and the circumference of a person.

7.  Here’s the main difference between men and women: Men can look at an ad for women's underwear and get excited. I’m not talking about women in underwear, just the underwear itself. Women do not get excited looking at pictures of boxer shorts.

8.  You are wholeheartedly fooling yourself if you think the government is efficient at anything except taking your money.

9.  The clearest evidence that capitalism beats communism is that the Red Bull beverage company put a man in space. Take that, North Korea. Anheuser-Busch can probably shoot down your nukes.

10.  If you give enough money to the right charities, you will never have to buy address labels again.

11.  Owning a pool in the winter is like making payments on your new snowmobiles all summer.

12.  You cannot use the phrase, “To be honest with you...”  without giving the listener the impression you aren’t always being honest.

13.  When pulling out a stump with your truck, make sure the roots don’t have ahold of your water main. Trust me.

14.  When packing thirteen suitcases into the car for your wife, is it impossible to have ten of them be “on top” so she can get to them easily.

15.  If one of my boys saw their brother in a fight, I'm certain they would jump in and help. I'm just not sure which side they'd be on.

16.  You can ask someone to do something, or you can tell them how you want it done, but you can’t do both.

17.  A good indicator of where you are in life is this: Does the advertisement of free food still affect your decision making?

18.  Fabric softener sheets go in the dryer, not the washer. Just FYI. I’m not saying I didn’t know that.

19.  There is no “t” or “t” sound in the word across. There is no “b” or “b” sound in the word supposedly. Please pronounce accordingly.

20.  Men are far more likely to clean things with spit than women are.

21.  Money and toilet paper have something in common – They’re both easy to take for granted until you run out. Also, in totally opposite, but equally dire situations, they can be substituted for each other.

22.  Drive while driving. Always.

23.  If you ask any guy to tell you a story about a time he almost died, he will have four stories just off the top of his head, and one will be from this year. If you ask women the same question, most of them will look at you like you’re crazy.

24.  One sure sign of getting old – When you start sitting down to put on your pants.

25.  Children and ceiling fans are simply incompatible. It’s science.

26.  In life, it is very important to remember where you are and why you're there. That way, when your podiatrist tells you to drop your shorts, you’ll ask some questions first.

27.  Your dog thinks it has saved you from being murdered at least a thousand times by barking at the front window, yet you remain completely ungrateful.

28.  Hold out as long as you can before putting on your first pair of magnifying “reader” glasses. The second you do, your eyes give up like a marathoner crossing the finish line.

29.  People who don’t use their cruise control on the freeway should be pulled over and water-boarded.

30.  There are 21 words in the English language that need to be used more. They are: bailiwick, hootenanny, skullduggery, scofflaw, ballyhoo, shenanigans, donnybrook, catawampus, chicanery, cajoled, hullabaloo, besmirch, boondoggle, haberdashery, melee, befuddled, flummoxed, hoosegow, wiseacre, tomfoolery, and kerfuffle. Please begin immediately.

31.  Pointing out that Van Gogh’s “girlfriend” was actually a prostitute during a fifth-grade art docent lesson is not helpful for anyone involved. Again, I’m not saying I did this; I just want you to know.

32.  You cannot claim to be a grown woman, fully capable of taking care of yourself, and also claim that you do not know how to operate a toilet seat.

33.  We, as humans, all share a universal reaction – the automatic flinch when the driver hits the button and starts rolling up the car window under your arm.

34.  Don’t waste your time trying to have a logical conversation with a teenager. Their brains are physically incapable of sustained logic. Instead, just give them healthy food in large quantities and cross your fingers that they leave your house at some point in your lifetime.

35.  To be or not to be is not the question. The real question is, which towel in the guest bathroom am I allowed to use to dry my hands?

36.  Give a boy enough time with any object, whether it be a stale Cheerio, a bouncy ball, a doll, or a book, and he will eventually turn it into a weapon.

37.  Getting passport photos taken at Walmart seems ironic.

38.  In order to properly keep up with the hair from a shedding dog, you should own enough Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners to equal the dog’s weight. For instance, a seventy-pound Lab requires six Roombas (running twenty-four hours a day).

39.  The idiots who wear their pants down below their butts and have to waddle with their legs spread to keep their pants from simply falling to the ground are also the idiots who are most likely to try to run from the police at some point. That makes me smile.

40.  The people of Earth can be easily divided into two categories: People you would let watch your kids for five minutes, and people you wouldn’t.

41.  The person who invented the hotel shower curtain rod that curves out away from the tub so the shower curtain doesn’t stick to your arm should receive the Nobel prize.

42.  The problem with trying to raise independent, strong-willed children is that if you are succeeding, you have to live with independent, strong-willed children.

43.  Guys, do you ever have trouble figuring out if you’ve had too much to drink? Here’s a handy guideline:
“There is no way I can scratch that itch on my ankle while I’m standing here peeing, so I will not try.” – You’re still OK
“I can totally do it without peeing on myself.” – You are drunk

44.  A kid’s definition of “pool toy” is different than an adult’s. We think of pool toys as something designed to be played with in a pool. They define “pool toy” as anything they own, if it happens to be brought into the pool. Like a bike or a sandwich.

45.  No matter who you are, no matter where you're from, there is one shared experience that binds us all together as one people: The sheer horror of the ketchup or mustard water falling from the unshaken bottle and contaminating your food forever. I feel your pain.

46.  I just said, “I don’t want you two on top of each other on the couch. Find something else to do,” to two of my sons. I guess I should be grateful, because it probably won’t be too long before I’ll need to say that to one of them and his girlfriend.

47.  If you have to choose, it makes more sense to become a strong swimmer than a strong runner. You don’t automatically die when you stop running.


See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!