Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Have you been wondering how to get your aunt to gag over the kitchen sink while you and the rest of your extended family howl with laughter from the dining room? Of course you have, and you’re in luck. Just like at AA, it’s a simple twelve-step process.

Step One: Start a summer tradition of having strawberries at nearly every meal. Make sure that Son Number Two learns the recipe for the best strawberry dip ever, which consists of one 8-oz package of Kraft Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese (Since 1872!), and one 7-oz jar of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme. (America’s Favorite!).

(This column is in no way sponsored by Kraft Foods, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be. Don’t be afraid to call me, Kraft Foods executives! Let’s talk.)

Step Two: Tell Son Number Two to make the dip, which for some reason he gets very excited about – maybe because he likes to cook, or maybe because the Kraft Foods fruit and berry dip is simply one of the best things in the whole wide world, thanks to the delicious, wholesome ingredients and quality craftsmanship of the good people at Kraft Foods. Thanks, Kraft Foods!

Step Three: While making a sandwich for lunch, accidentally drop the 30-oz jar of Kraft Real Mayo (with no artificial flavors!) mayonnaise off the top shelf of the fridge. Have it land upside down on the tile kitchen floor and break the lid. Marvel at the quality - not only of the entire Kraft Foods line of delicious products, but also the quality of their packaging - since the jar itself of Kraft Real Mayo did not break.

Step Four: Further marvel at what must be some sort of ingenious witchcraft mayonnaise containment technology developed by the obviously rocket-scientist-grade engineers at Kraft Foods, since none of the all-natural and delicious mayo escaped the jar, requiring absolutely no clean-up. Thanks again, Kraft Foods!

Step Five: Transfer the creamy and pleasantly ever-so-slightly-tangy Kraft Real Mayo to a GladWare Big Bowl 48-oz sealable food storage container and place back into the refrigerator. Rest easy knowing the quality microwave-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe Glad container will keep your mayonnaise fresh indefinitely, thanks to their innovative and foolproof air-tight sealing technology.

(This column is in no way sponsored by Glad, or its joint parent companies, The Clorox Company and Proctor & Gamble, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be. Don’t be afraid to call me, Glad, Clorox, and P&G executives! Let’s talk.)

Step Six: Have dinner. After dinner, have your aunt retrieve the strawberries and Kraft Foods fruit and berry dip from the refrigerator.

Step Seven: Make sure your aunt has a life-long and vehement opposition to mayonnaise, but loves Kraft Foods fruit and berry dip, both of which are very similar in color and consistency, thanks to the rigorous quality control measures at America’s favorite food manufacturer, Kraft Foods.

Step Eight: Pay no attention to your aunt as she helps herself to the first dipped strawberry.

Step Nine: Notice the slightly quizzical look on her face at the same time you recognize the high-quality GladWare Big Bowl 48-oz container on the table that you filled with Kraft Real Mayo earlier in the day.  

Step Ten: Break the news to her that she just ate a spoonful of mayonnaise on her strawberry,

Step Eleven: Watch her set a new land-speed record to the sink.

Step Twelve: Let the hilarity ensue.

(Special thanks to the wonderful folks over at Kraft Foods and Glad et al. for making this all possible.)

See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 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!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pokemon Stop

By now I’m sure you’ve seen them. They have always been staring at their phones, but now because of something called Pokemon Go, they are walking around while staring at their phones. I had a few of them wander in front of my car at a gas station the other day - while my car was still moving. For a split second I debated putting them out of their misery, but I had a bad feeling if I had hit them, their friends would have descended on them like the walking dead, and stolen their phones. I didn’t want to see that.

I’m sorry to report that it seems the end is near. Our current presidential candidates are obviously the first sign of an impending apocalypse, and now Pokemon Go has provided us with zombies. I have actually heard people trying to put a positive spin on the galactic time and energy waster that is Pokemon by saying it’s getting our youth up off the couch and moving around. Well, isn’t that just fantastic. Our generation of slack-jawed, so-pale-they’re-almost-see-through youth have finally found an app that has health benefits. Healthy and fun right up until you walk in front of a bus or into an open man-hole. Best of luck to you, millennials.

We have turned a huge electronic corner. We’re so addicted to our electronics that the only way to get any exercise now is to get an app for it. You think I’m only talking about humans? Then you’re in denial about how close the end really is. No, my friends, you can get an app for your tablet to prevent obesity in your feline pals. Yes, a cat app. To help cats lose weight. I am not making this up. Apparently it has fast-moving objects that cats will try to hit with their paws, thus being active. Holy cr-app.

Didn’t the standard anti-cat obesity tool used to be called a mouse? I can just hear the phone conversation between millennial and parent.

M: “Fluffers is getting fat.”
P: “She needs to chase a mouse.”
M: “You are so ancient. I don’t own a mouse. We have tablets now.”
P: “No, an actual mouse, sweetheart.”
M: “Yeah, I know. And I actually don’t own one. I don’t even have a laptop.”
P: “You make me sad.”
M: “Whatever. I’m just going to get the new cat app.”
P: “I’m hanging up now.”
M: “Why do you say ‘hanging up?’ What are you hanging?”
P: “Goodbye.”
M: “Send me money.”

And if you think Trump vs. Clinton, zombies, and the cat app are the most telling signs of our fast-approaching doomsday, you’re still not paying close enough attention. I heard a news story the other day that really seals the deal. There is an organization that is ready to accept your donation of that old fur coat that Aunt Mildred left you in her will. Will they clean it and sell it and use the money to donate to a homeless shelter or an orphanage? Well… not exactly. There’s an orphanage involved, but not one with actual children.

This dedicated group of individuals wants to cut up your old fur coat and use it to make nests for orphaned squirrels. The goal? To reduce orphaned squirrel anxiety. Again, I am not making this up. Now, while “Orphaned Squirrel Anxiety” would obviously be a great name for a rock band, I’m not sure that safeguarding the mental health of rodents with luxurious outerwear is really a great use of anyone’s time and energy.

But that’s where we are folks. We’ve allowed enough distractions that we now have a choice between Hell No! and Are You Joking? for president, our kids are wandering in the streets staring at a small screen and mumbling incoherent names, our cats are playing on our iPads, and the most pressing issue we can come up with is squirrel psychology. Actually, now that I’ve said it, “Squirrel Psychology” is a better name for a rock band. Wait… “The Orphaned Rodents.” No wait… “Psycho Squirrel Fur.” Yes!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to download that cat app. I’m obviously not going to let my boys play Pokemon Go, but they’re starting to get a little too sedentary. Maybe that cat thing can help keep them active.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 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!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Let's Pool our Natural Resources

Our grass in the back yard died a few years ago because of the drought, so we decided to do the only drought-friendly thing that made any sense. We put in a pool. Droughts are caused by not having enough water, so we put in a twenty thousand-gallon water reservoir in our yard. We’re doing our part, California. You’re welcome.

Our front yard grass died at the same time, so I wanted to help even more by putting in a bass pond, but my wife insists there are some zoning issues with that, or something. I think she just doesn’t want an eighteen-foot MasterCraft floating in her front yard. Women, huh?

Getting a pool is not for the faint of heart. Besides choosing which two of the three kids won’t go to college, you also have to endure an eight-week demolition experience, and be prepared to deal with the aftermath.

All pool builders follow the same simple three step process:
Step 1: Remove fence
Step 2: Completely destroy everything between the street and the far corner of the back yard.
Step 3: Fill new pool with water

It looks like an atomic bomb went off in the middle of our back yard, leaving a beautiful pool in the blast crater, and total destruction everywhere else. Our front yard looks like a bad day in Afghanistan.

Once the pool was complete and it was time to deal with the utter destruction of our property, we did the first thing anyone would do. We ignored it and threw a pool party. And then another one. And another. I don’t know how the rich and famous do it. I have been at a never-ending pool party for two and a half weeks now, and I’m exhausted. We filled the new pool with water on June 24th, and since then the only time I have left the house was to get more beer, wine, and juice boxes.

Do I care that everything in my back yard besides the pool looks like the aftermath of a Vegas strip hotel demolition? Of course I don’t. I have a pool. Please ignore the rubble and enjoy yourselves, folks. Actually, it makes party cleanup quite a bit easier. Instead of picking things up, you can just sweep everything into the rubble pile the next morning and start over.

And it turns out the pool is convenient, also. Not only have none of us had to shower in the last two weeks (again, you’re welcome, California), but the boys have no more arguments for why staying home in the summer is boring. Every time one of them says anything about being bored, I just throw them in the pool. Many times while they’re still in their pajamas. Boredom problem solved, plus as a bonus, laundry done. The drought-friendliness of a pool never seems to end.

The pool can help in emergencies, too. Our Fourth of July party, for example, had a happy ending that could have easily been the other way around if not for the pool. When you accidentally light yourself on fire with an El Diablo fountain firework, a quick dip in the deep end is not only refreshing, but also eliminates a visit to the ER. California’s tax payers can thank me again in that situation, since we had to give up health insurance to afford the pool.

The bottom line is, I would highly recommend getting a pool, especially if you live in a dry area like we do. If we all do our part, we can not only eliminate our kids’ boredom complaints and prevent holiday-related injuries, but we might just be able to end this drought.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to ignore the annihilation of my landscaping some more and get ready for the pool party today.


See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 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!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Shotgun Wedding? - Repost

Today is our fourteenth wedding anniversary, and while out at dinner last night, my wife and I realized that we are only days away from our relationship tipping point. In just about a week we will have known each other longer than we haven’t. That’s a pretty big deal, but our waiter didn’t think it was a cool enough story to comp us any drinks or anything. Maybe we didn’t explain the math well enough? Oh, well.

Even though David the waiter didn’t care, I still think it’s pretty cool, so in honor of our upcoming tipping point, I thought I would once again regale you with the heartwarming tale about the night after the night I met my wife. Unfortunately, the night I met my wife was pretty un-eventful, besides the fact that I met the love of my life. So instead, I will regale you with the shocking, explosive, frightening, and downright weird tale about the following night. It’s a tale of a dive bar, a truck, a barefoot man, a policeman, a bathrobe, and a shotgun.

A guy walks into a bar. It was me. I met my wife in a bar.

That’s not the whole story. It gets better.

It was only my first or second time at this particular bar, but she had been there for thirty-two nights in a row. She and her best friend were going for a combined personal record. It was her initiative and dedication to the endeavor that drew me to her. We were both college students in San Luis Obispo, CA, and she was working at a pizza place that summer. She would get off work at midnight and meet her friend at Bull’s Tavern to shut the place down. We met one evening, talked until closing, and said goodnight.

I thought she was really neat-o, so having heard about their record-breaking attendance goal, I had a good idea of where I might find her again the next evening. After missing her a few times, between the bar and the pizza place, we finally connected, and had another delightful evening of bar-booth conversation. This was the kind of bar where “delightful conversation” means you sat in a red Naugahyde booth, taking turns shouting into each other’s ears, in an attempt to carry on a conversation over the AC/DC blaring out of the jukebox.

After the last-call light came on at two A.M. – this was back when we could stay up until two A.M. – we walked back to the pizza place where my truck was parked, and carried on our conversation in the cab of my Ford F150. By about three A.M. I had convinced her that kissing me wouldn’t be so bad, and just when I was about to plant one on her, a sonic boom came rolling down the street. It would have been much cooler if we had heard the explosion as we kissed, but you just can’t plan for these kinds of things.

She said, and I quote, “That sounded like a twelve-gauge!”
I replied, scoffing-ly, “There is no way that was a twelve-gauge shotgun. It was probably just a car backfiring.” In my head I was thinking, Cool. She knows her shotguns. But that couldn’t have been a shotgun.

Roughly four minutes later a barefoot man in a bathrobe came walking down the street carrying a twelve-gauge shotgun.

Now, if I can paint the scene for you - It is past three o’clock in the morning, and the town has completely shut down. We are the only car parked on the street, directly across from the pizza parlor. The only other car that we can see belongs to a police officer who is parked in a parking lot across the intersection from the pizza place. The police officer is standing outside of his car, chatting with a man on a bicycle. They have apparently not heard the big bang, and seem very relaxed. The pizza place is located on the corner of the intersection, and the man in the bathrobe with the heavy artillery is walking past the pizza place, toward the cop, but neither one of them can see the other yet. We are parked across the street and have a clear view of both of them, and a pretty good idea of what is about to happen. Between the five of us, we are the only people still awake in the whole town, and two of us are a whole lot more awake than we were a minute ago.

The bathrobe-clad gentlemen rounded the corner and came into view of the police officer, and they saw each other at about the same time. We were positioned at just the wrong angle, so when the cop drew his weapon, he was pointing it right at us. We both did that thing where you slide down below the dashboard in case the bullets start flying, but foolishly keep your head up high enough to see, because you don’t want to miss the action.

The policeman immediately started asking the nice man to kindly set his shotgun down. By “kindly asking,” I mean he instantly began shouting, “Drop the #$*%&@ gun right now! Drop it, #$@*&%!!!” I thought he was handling himself very well given the surprising circumstance he had just found himself in. The bicyclist he had been talking to before the rude interruption did something that still to this day I cannot believe, even though I saw it with my own two barely-visible-above-the-dashboard eyes. He dropped his bike to the ground and fit himself completely underneath the front bumper of the police cruiser. Next time you see a police cruiser, take a look at the ground clearance. I think it might have been Houdini himself in that bike helmet.

Well, the nice man with the twelve-gauge didn’t drop his gun right away. He just sort of stood there, trying to have a conversation with the cop. He was holding the gun at a forty-five-degree angle toward the ground, not exactly pointing it at the cop, but not exactly pointing it away from him, either. As the police officer walked closer and closer to the man, yelling commands louder and louder, I was sure we were about to witness something very unpleasant on what had, otherwise, been a really nice night.

Thankfully, for everyone involved, the man finally decided to set his shotgun gently on the ground, and seconds later, the police officer set his knee not-so-gently on the man’s neck, and the stand-off was over. As Captain Bathrobe was led to the police car and Harry Houdini extricated himself from underneath the Caprice Classic, I started the truck and drove my date home in stunned silence.

Fortunately, she didn’t hold the incident against me, and we continued to see each other. We searched the local paper for two weeks straight after that night for some mention of the incident, partially to prove to people that we weren’t making it up, but mostly to find out for ourselves what we had seen. Why was there a man firing a shotgun in sleepy, downtown San Luis Obispo, and why was he then walking the streets with that shotgun, barefoot, in a bathrobe? We never found a single mention of it, and to this day, have no idea what happened.

We graduated, parted ways, and met again six years later at a mutual college friend’s housewarming party. We have been together ever since. After meeting her father, I finally understood her knowledge of shotguns. And after getting to know my father-in-law, I had a strong suspicion that he and my wife might have known more about that night than they were letting on. I know he owned a twelve-gauge, and I’m pretty sure he owned a bathrobe.

Where exactly was he that night? Out looking for her, perhaps? Who knows?

Happy anniversary, baby. And happy tipping point!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 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!