Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Love Meth

It’s time I came clean. I can’t hide it anymore.

I love crystal meth. I can’t stop. I have to have it all the time.

Not the actual drug. What am I, an idiot? Don’t answer that.

No, I’m talking about the show about the drug; Breaking Bad. It’s soooo good. It’s the best thing I’ve put into my eyes since Pulp Fiction came out.

I was addicted from the first scene. The pilot episode begins with a middle-aged man wearing only beige socks, tan Hush Puppies, tighty whities, and a full-face gas mask, behind the wheel of an antique Winnebago, driving frantically at seventy miles an hour down a desert road, with an unconscious passenger riding shotgun in a gas mask, and two dead gang bangers and a destroyed chemistry set sliding around on the linoleum floor in the back.

You had me at hello. I will take whatever else you have to offer, please.

I know we’re about eight years late to the party, but we don’t have whatever channel it was on, and we’re too cheap to pay for Netflix, and we were busy raising kids and working and stuff, so we had to bide our time and wait to make friends with someone who owned it on DVD.

We finally found our DVD dealer, and now we’re binge-watching the chronicles of Walter White, high school chemistry teacher gone bad.

Through a rare perfect storm of writing, casting, acting, and directing, the geniuses behind Breaking Bad have made a show about meth more addicting than actual meth. My wife and I have watched thirteen episodes in two nights.

We are TV tweakers. Just like meth heads, our dietary habits and personal hygiene have gone out the window. Sleep? Showers? Dinner? Who cares? All we care about is the next episode. You’ve heard of meth mouth? I have meth butt. I am creating a divot in our new couch, and my back is starting to hurt, but I don’t care.

The only thing we care about is the next episode.

That became more obvious last night when my wife foolishly had a girls’ night out instead of watching the hijinks of Walter White with me. We were both a wreck. She couldn’t concentrate on the conversation, because all she could think about was getting back to the couch at home. I did nothing but pace back and forth in front of the television, waiting for her to get home and nervously itching my meth butt, craving my fix.

We won’t make that mistake again. We don’t need less Breaking Bad in our lives. We need more. From now on, we will always stay home. We need more Walter White. We need more Jesse Pinkman. We need more Skinny Pete. We need more of it all.

Is six o’clock in the evening a good bed time for the kids during the summer? It is if you’re trying to get to season three as fast as you can.

You guys didn’t get dinner? Um... here’s a bag of Cheetos. Eat them in your room. G’night. Yes, I know it’s still daytime outside. Go to sleep.

Why are you kids awake at five A.M.? Go away. Your mom and I were up until two this morning watching our shows. You’re hungry? Go see if the neighbors are having breakfast. You can eat over there. We need to sleep for another five or six hours.

We have to rest up. We’ve got a long night of meth ahead of us.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Ultimate Father's Day Gift - Repost

As far as I know, my children have made no progress whatsoever on The Blanket Anchor (TM pending), so I am reposting this in hopes of some good news this year.

Father’s Day is right around the corner. My boys are young, so I still get homemade cards, but it won’t be long before I start receiving ties that I will never wear and bottles of cologne that I will never open. My dad still has twenty-six bottles of Old Spice from me, and not one of them has ever been opened. It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that I realized he never wore cologne in the first place. I want to avoid this with my own kids before I have to find a spot to store thirty-five gallons of Axe body spray.

So, I am hereby publicly announcing what I want for Father’s Day. I would like my three boys to invent something. Something specific. Something that could change the world. Something that will benefit not only me, but possibly every father on the planet.

I want my boys to invent The Blanket Anchor.

Here’s the problem: I sleep in a king-size bed with a wife that has major temperature swings. You would think that the king-sized sheets, blankets, and duvets on a king-size bed would be more than enough to cover two people adequately. You would be wrong, in our case.

Depending on the time of year, my wife comes to bed either on the verge of sweating profusely or on the verge of freezing to death. There is no middle ground. At no point since having children has she been comfortable from a temperature standpoint, especially at bedtime.

And, no matter what her starting state, at some point in the middle of the night, her temperature completely reverses. During the winter, she can reach up to two thousand degrees by midnight. By morning, she is usually back to where she was when she came to bed.

These extreme swings in spousal temperature lead to a lot of blanket movement. There are times when I wake up noticing that I am a little warm and my movements are slightly restricted, only to find I am under a three-foot-thick pile of bedding. Most of the time, however, it is the opposite. Nine days out of ten I wake up without any covers to speak of.

My wife is in denial. I have tried to explain to her that while sleeping she tends to mimic an Australian crocodile doing a death roll, gathering all the sheets and blankets in a horizontal tornado-like fashion, wrapping herself up like a roll of toilet paper. She refuses to believe that she even moves during the night. She has gone as far as to accuse me of pushing the covers over onto her side. When I asked her to show me how exactly to push a blanket across a bed she just changed the subject.

All I can tell you is at the first sign of movement from her side of the bed, I grab onto the sheet and hold on for dear life. It usually doesn’t help. Anyone who thinks women are the weaker sex should try to get the covers back from one of them. During the day, I can beat my wife in any sort of physical strength competition like arm wrestling, but not at night. She is approximately twenty to thirty times stronger when she is asleep. The perfect tug of war team would be six sleeping women all holding onto the same bed sheet.

And if I ever have to get out of bed to pee (or in many cases with my boys, to clean up pee), I can simply forget about having any covers when I get back to bed. Now, many of you unmarried men out there are probably asking, “Why don’t you just wake her up and get your covers back?” That’s cute. I miss those days when I was young and carefree. I’m not going to begin to try to explain to you why that is such a bad idea. Just suffice it to say that I would rather simply get dressed and leave the house in the middle of the night, find a flock of sheep, shear some of them, and attempt to make my own blanket instead. That would be less troublesome.

So there it is, boys. All I want for Father’s Day is The Blanket Anchor. I want something that insures that the blankets and sheets I have when I go to bed get to be at my disposal for the entire night.

I don’t know what it will look like. I don’t even know how it will work. All I know is I want covers.

Until such time as the invention has been completed, I do not want ties and cologne as Father’s Day filler gifts. I would simply appreciate more homemade cards, with progress reports on The Blanket Anchor (TM pending).


See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

One Year Left

What would you do if they only gave you a year to live? That’s the situation I’m faced with right now.

You might spend some time coming to grips with it, then plan out an epic year full of family and friends and parties and eating and drinking.

I can’t do that.

You see, the news of my impending demise didn’t come from a doctor. It came from my rather adventurous mother-in-law, who called yesterday to tell me the “good news.”

“I just booked us for a mule ride down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon next June!”

That momentarily sounded like fun until I did a little internet research on this non-refundable adventure that I’m now contractually and familial-ly obligated to go on.

The mule ride company’s website started out sounding great. There is no Grand Canyon adventure more rewarding or more unique than a mule ride.  The overnight rides go deep into the canyon, staying overnight at Phantom Ranch. If you think the view from the rim takes your breath away, wait until you experience the Grand Canyon from within.

Then I found the You Tube videos from former riders capturing the experience. After watching the videos, I assume the cameras were found by hikers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon near the bodies of the riders and their mules. I now assume that the overnight spot is known as Phantom Ranch because no one ever actually gets there, and it doesn’t actually exist.

The trail appears to be about half a mule wide, and carved by God-only-knows-who into the side of the actual rock wall of the actual Grand Canyon, which, as it turns out, appears to be about nine million feet deep.

When my bowels recovered from the videos, I made it back to the company’s website and found out the really good news. Riders must weigh less than 200 pounds (90 kg), fully dressed.

I immediately weighed myself. I weigh 210 pounds naked. I wonder how much 90kg is?

I called my mother-in-law to break the news to her.

“Quit complaining. You’ll be fine. Just lose ten pounds.”
“Fully dressed!” I reiterated.
“OK, fifteen. What are you worried about? You have a whole year. Suck it up.”

As I hung up the phone from my super-helpful pep talk, my wife came home from the doctor’s office with even better news.

“I just had my physical. They weighed me on their scale, and it turns out our scale is about five pounds off.”
“Well that’s good news.”
“No, the other way. You’re heavier than you think.”

I re-read the website. Yep... fully dressed. Do you think they mean what I’m going to wear on the mule, or just dressed enough not to be arrested?

I kept reading.

Our mules are thoroughly trained, and are well adapted to the unique environment and work situation at Grand Canyon. Although we have over 100 years of experience working with mules, they are animals and not always predictable. The restrictions we place on our rides are intended for safety and to avoid distracting or disturbing the mules. There are always elements of risk due to trail conditions, other trail users, and sudden appearances of wildlife native to Grand Canyon. While serious accidents or injury seldom occur, risk is minimized by carefully following the trail guide’s instructions.

I’m not sure if any of that paragraph was intended to put me at ease, but if so, it failed. Here are two problems I see right off the bat:

Problem Number One:
You have over one hundred years of experience with this? That’s great and all, but that does nothing to make me feel better about the trail. Long trains of giant, heavy mules have been plodding up and down this trail for over one hundred years. That’s a lot of wear and tear. When was the last time a trail on the side of a cliff got wider with age?

Problem Number Two:
I have to assume that you cannot “thoroughly train” a mule to go up and down a tightrope-width trail at a thirty-seven degree angle on the face of a cliff without having him or her do it a bunch of times. That first time seems like it would be dangerous and scary for everyone involved. So, that being said, would you, as the mule owner, want to train a bunch of new mules all the time, or would you want to use your “thoroughly trained” mules all the time?

You see where I’m going with that? In a year from now, I’m going to get on a mule that either, A) is new to all this, or B) has done this so many times he or she has lost the will to live.

Either scenario is not good, but the slight edge goes to Molly the suicidal mule for being the scarier option. (Side note: “Suicidal Mule” would be a good name for a rock band.)

The suicidal mule problem puts even more pressure on me from a weight loss standpoint, because I’m very sure that I don’t want to just barely make the cut off.

“Good morning, Molly. Thanks again for doing the same thing every single day for the last twenty years. Here’s another 199.6-pound tourist for you to schlep down into the canyon while he kicks you and tries to give you orders that mean absolutely nothing to you. When you get down to the bottom... well, you know the drill. Have some oats and a nice nap, and then as a reward for your patience and service to the company for all these years, you get to carry him back up here. Then we’ll do the same thing again for the rest of your life. Have a great day!”

So now, based on how far out of whack my scale actually is, I really need to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty-five pounds in the next year. So what will most likely be the last year of my life is going to be spent not eating pizza, not drinking beer, and running a lot. Super.

There was one bright spot for a moment. If I don’t lose the weight, the mule guys won’t let me go, so I won’t die from falling into the Grand Canyon.

That bright spot faded quickly, however, when I considered it further. I’d better lose the weight, because if I can get skinny enough, there’s a very slight chance I’ll survive the trip, but if I don’t lose the weight, there’s a one hundred percent chance my mother-in-law will kill me.

I’m between a rock and a hard place here, which, ironically, is where I’ll be on the mule, too.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Forget Square Dancing

We as a society are right in the midst of torpedoing an entire generation of kids. “How?” you might ask as a parent, in an earnest effort to learn what you can do to stop this catastrophe.

Cell phones.

“Cell phones,” you ask, confused. “What’s wrong with my child having a cell phone?”

A lot of things, in my opinion, but that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s the fact that we parents have cell phones that’s the problem. Specifically, cell phones with built-in video cameras.

You see, God gives us finite and imperfect memories for a reason. If we remembered everything, the species would never survive. Parents, you can totally back me up on this one: If you truly remembered what a sleep-deprived hell it was to have a newborn baby, you would never have another kid.

But those foggy, early-morning memories fade away, and pretty soon, along comes another newborn. Suddenly you’re up at three in the morning again thinking, “Wait a minute, I remember this now. This sucked. Why did we do this again?”

And then the third kid comes along and you have the exact same thought. God is sneaky like that.

It’s the same thing with growing up. The only reason we turn out OK is because the memories of all of our failures and painful mistakes fade away. At least, that was the case with my generation. That’s because our parents were not able to instantly record every single moment of our lives with a device they had in their pockets at all times.

For example, I just came from the elementary school year-end talent show. Sons Number One and Two played the piano, and their mom was not able to make it because she and her mom selfishly went gallivanting across three states on a road trip, leaving me here all by myself to manage three boys that do nothing but fight with each other for every minute that they are awake, driving me to the point of insanity each afternoon around three o’clock, making me want to run screaming away from the house, but I don’t, because I am legally responsible for their safety, and if left alone they would devolve into a three-boy Lord of the Flies scenario in less than fifteen minutes, but mostly because I just don’t like to run.

Where was I? Oh, yeah; recording…

Their mother was unable to be at the talent show, so she asked me to video them. No problem. I can do that with my phone. I dutifully recorded their performances and they both did just fine, despite their acute daily allergic reactions to piano practice.

They weren’t amazingly brilliant. They weren’t horribly bad. They were just good. As such, this time the video recording of their performance is not a big deal. “Here you are, son, performing well. Good job.”

The problem is, we record everything. If their mom had not chosen to abandon us here to fend for ourselves while she merrily tours the west coast, she would have still recorded their performances, even though she was there watching it herself. Go figure.

If we record everything, we will end up capturing all of their highlights, and all of their failures, along with all the regular, standard, unexciting, middle-of-the-road efforts. Depending on the parental video editing, kids these days could grow up thinking their childhood was one big victory lap. They will naturally forget the failures, but if we keep showing them the highlight reel, that’s how they’ll remember things.

On the other hand, if we don’t edit, showing them everything, they won’t be able to forget the failures. Neither one of those outcomes is good.

A better example might be square dancing. I was probably in a talent show as a kid, because talent isn’t a strict prerequisite for an elementary school talent show. I don’t really remember, and I can assure you there is no video evidence if I was, which I can also assure you, is undoubtedly a good thing. I know that I square danced, however.

When Son Number One announced in a dejected voice earlier this year that his fourth-grade class was square dancing at P.E., I said, “We did square dancing when I was your age. It was fun.”

Well, of course it wasn’t fun. It was probably horrific and painful. But God erased that memory for me so I could go on to lead a happy and productive life.

Well, the big hoedown day came for my son, and this time, unlike my childhood, all the parents showed up at P.E. to watch their kids square dance. And there I was alongside everyone else, cell phone in hand, recording the whole traumatic event for him.

He was in agony the entire time, being forced by the wicked gym teacher to do-si-do with actual fourth-grade girls, holding their hands and touching them, and having them smile at him. Ick. It was awful, and he will never be able to forget it.

He won’t have the luxury of that memory fading blissfully into the background fog of the elementary school years like I did, because it has been recorded for posterity. How will he ever reassure his children that square dancing will be fun if he has permanent video proof that square dancing is, in fact, awful? What if his kids see the video before they reach the fourth grade?

No good can come from that. The logical end result will be a nationwide fourth-grade revolt, causing a curriculum shift to remove square dancing, resulting in the first generation since the dawn of time to never learn to square dance, followed by the inevitable worldwide decline and eventual disappearance of square dancing altogether.

Hmm… That actually doesn’t sound bad.

Never mind everything I just said. Keep recording your kids. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go figure out how to get his square dancing video to play on the big TV downstairs so we can all watch it tonight.

Maybe a beer first, though. The kids will be home soon.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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

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