Wednesday, January 1, 2014

About the Author, Again

I thought we should start the New Year off again this year with a little meet and greet.  Just a Smidge gained quite a few new readers in 2013, so I thought another "about the author" segment would be helpful. I am the 41-year-old husband of an amazing woman, and father of three boys, affectionately known as Son Number One, Two and Three, currently ranging in ages from five to nine years old. My beautiful wife and I are holding them against their will in Northern California, where we were both born and raised, and where they will be, too, if we can keep them from escaping.

I think we should really start with my name. The following is a segment from “The Name,” the very first Just a Smidge column I ever wrote, way back in June of 2008. It is also the forward of my book, The Tree of Death, and Other Hilarious Stories.

I am a fourth-generation American who was born and raised in California, but you would never guess that when looking at my name, so I really feel like I should start with an explanation. It's spelled Schmatjen. It's pronounced "Smidgen", like a smidgen of this, and a smidgen of that. No one in the family knows why. It's German, but some kind of strange hill-people German that were more Austrian, or more Swiss, or more drunk than regular Germans.

So we all went by "Smidge." Once you pronounce it for people, that's your nickname. No getting around it, and all in all it's a pretty good deal for a kid. If you're destined for a certain nickname, it's nice to know ahead of time that it's going to be palatable.

In the Schmatjen clan, there is a general rule that because of the last name's inherent spelling and pronunciation issues, the first names had better be fool-proof. So, inexplicably, my folks named me Marc with a "C." I'm not sure what they were thinking at the time, but looking back on it, it seems ill-advised. I have always liked it, but it invariably adds an extra dimension to the name-explaining process that we Schmatjens constantly go through.

So that’s the story on the name. Now, here are twenty other facts that you should know about me:

1) My wife thinks I am a great driver.
2) My grandpa killed General Patton's dog. That is the single most important thing anyone in my family has done. We are high achievers.
3) Walking out into bright sunlight makes me sneeze. I inherited this trait from my grandmother. I am one of only an estimated seven people in the world with this disorder. We have a club.
4) I am related to a U.S. president, but I forget which one. I think it's either Grover Cleveland or Woodrow Wilson. I don't care. I would only be excited if it was Teddy Roosevelt, and it isn't.
5) My favorite movie is a three-way tie between Romancing the Stone, Fletch, and Caddyshack.
6) Until I was in my teens, I thought that coffee really would stunt your growth, and that drinking alcohol made your beard grow faster, because in the movies, when guys woke up with a hangover, they always had a five-o’clock shadow. I wasn’t too bright as a kid.
7) Now that I have kids, I cry at “proud parent” moments in movies. I think this is because based on my children’s behavioral history, I may never have any of my own.
8) I am slightly over six feet tall, I weigh just over 200 pounds, and I have the bladder capacity of a four-year-old.
9) My two favorite flavors are slightly burnt pepperoni and toasted sesame seeds.
10) I swam 100,000 yards in one week when I was in high school. I could not swim more than 100 yards today without needing a floatation device and a defibrillator.
11) I love bacon. See number 10.
12) I quit my day job in July to become a professional writer. So far, I have only managed to become an amateur homemaker, but I hope to get this column syndicated soon, so if you know somebody, please introduce us. Bacon is expensive.
13) I constantly get my left and right mixed up. It makes driving directions with my wife fun.
14) My favorite joke of all time is: A guy walks into the psychiatrist’s office wearing nothing but underwear made out of Saran wrap. The psychiatrist looks at him and says, "Well, I can clearly see you’re nuts."
15) Beer is in the top three on my list of most important inventions of all time, with only toilet paper and nachos beating it out for the top spot.
16) I have a deep, abiding hatred for cantaloupe. If bacon is a 10, cantaloupe is a negative 3000.
17) I was born without the ability to have any sympathy whatsoever for whining. This makes parenting difficult sometimes.
18) My father was a commercial airline pilot, and observing him while growing up has made me completely unqualified to fly anything.
19) My mother is a published author, and observing her while growing up has made me completely unqualified to write anything, but I’m doing it anyway.
20) My wife is still laughing right now about number 1.

So there you have it, folks. You now know everything you need to know about me. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week.

Happy New Year, everybody!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2014 Marc Schmatjen

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