A Few Good Lies


My wife just found wrappers from her favorite imported Australian candy hidden deep in Thing 1’s underwear drawer.  A frightful tribunal (more of a uni-bunal) ensues with all the courtroom drama of “A Few Good Men”.

“Did you take candy out of the fridge? asks the prosecution.

“No”,  answers the defiant defendant.

“Don’t lie to me.”

“I’m not. I don’t know where those wrappers came from.”

“In this house we always tell the truth.”

This is a paradoxical moment where the disconnect between parental propaganda and reality becomes so distorted that a 7 year old’s brain will simply not absorb it.  Probably because the statement, “In this house we tell the truth”, is in fact, an untruth.  In case you got confused, in this scenario my wife is Jack Nicholson, who “knows the truth” and Thing 1 is Tom Cruise, who can’t “handle the truth” but in reality probably CAN handle the truth.

So what it really boils down to is which lies are perfectly harmless or even constructive and which lies are soul distorting to the fragile psyche of a child.  In golf, for instance, the rules are very clear and the integrity for the golfer is measured in very absolute terms.  If you accidentally move your ball one nano-meter or knife the achilles of your match play opponent, it’s all treated the same and you are labeled a cheater…if not a psychopath.

In the parenting game no such absolutes exist. This is a murky world where the ends justify the means.  For example, if one of my kids asked me if I ever pulled off a Moroccan hookah full of white hash in college with four aerospace engineering majors, while listening to the Cure, I would of course say, “no!”  Why should I set a precedent that would make it easy for them to make a “C” in calculus?  See, that’s a constructive lie and I can live with the depths of my hypocrisy on this particular example.

Here are just some of the lies I’ve recently told to our children :

  •  I am not Santa
  •  I will make pancakes tomorrow if you go to bed nicely
  •  That was mommy who farted… I mean broke wind.
  •  You’re old enough to wipe yourself
  •  Boys are evil
  •  Daddy was never a boy.
  • That hat looks good on you
  • Your were a very pretty baby
  •  I can fix that hair
  •  Crying makes you nauseous
  •  I completely understand why you’re upset

The truth may set you free but a well placed lie can save a lot of negotiating time.

Four Ways to Avoid the Flu


There are many things I’m not at all concerned about.  Identity Theft for example…not really worried about it. I’m almost flattered that someone would want to assume my persona, if only for fraudulent purposes.  The Wrath of God is another.  I think I could make a practice of breaking every commandment, every day of my life and never be struck down by the almighty (do I capitalize “almighty”?). The very real penalty of breaking any number commandments is jail. That’s not god working in mysterious ways, that’s the criminal justice system.  Mercury of Retrograde is not one that I’m likely to heed either.   Come on, I’m really going to put off signing a contract because my planets are misaligned?  Maybe it’s just my Capricornian nature but I just don’t buy it.

The one thing I have come to fear is the uber flu that invades Manhattan every winter.  The hype is large but the bug usually lives up to it.  Much like extreme hot temperatures and too much Red Bull, it seems to ravish the very young and old. We’re all encouraged to get shots of exotic anti-flu concoctions but they very seldom target the strain everyone gets. This year’s flu has been especially violent.  Stories of hard drinking Wall Street he-men bedridden like newborn babies with colic and family-wide vomit-polooza festivals abound.  One perfectly healthy 20 something I know ended up at Cedars on an IV drip. True story.  In short, I’m paying attention and I’ve adopted a few precautions that I’d like to share.

1.  Wash your hands like Larry David with scalding water, plenty of soap and for the time it takes to sing happy birthday to yourself twice.

2.  Cease all displays of physical affection with your kids.  Cash or gift vouchers will suffice until May 1st.

3. Only press elevator buttons with your elbows (or knuckles in a pinch).  The best thing is to order others to do it for you but that’s not always socially acceptable.

4. No sharing of food or drink with anyone.  If you’re unclear about  the protocol just google “avoiding herpes in the 80’s”

Good luck out there!

How can it be wrong when it feels so right?




My hands are frozen and numb as I try to unscrew the hose from the nozzle on a brisk 10 degree winter day here in the great northeast.  I’m from Houston where I was genetically predisposed for thin blood and mall air-conditioning. I will never be a creature of the cold.  The hose’s icy contents weigh a ton.  How come frozen water weigh’s so much more than unfrozen water.  If I were a mountain man, with a huge beard, I would know the answer.  I tried to grow a beard once and it came in all patchy, like I had ringworm.  Probably another red neck evolutionary advantage not suited for the unforgiving tundra of the eastern Long Island.  The locals in these parts call anything above 15 degrees, “Indian summer” and don’t rush to the sporting goods store for lots of Gortex. I wonder to myself what people did when Canadian Goose still stood for a hearty roast dinner and not fine winter apparel.  For me it’s torture.  I’m mean give up the launch codes kind of cold.

I can’t budge the damn nozzle.  I can’t even spell nozzle… seriously… I had to google it.  I finally go into the garage and get some vice grips and pry the damn thing off the faucet. I coil it up, drag it into the house and plunge it into a bath of hot water. Why I’m I doing this this?  Because I’m in love with an inanimate object.  An object that has reached unhealthy obsessive status in my life.  Some people might refer to my mechanical mistress as “basic transportation” but in more refined circles she’s better known as the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Moab Addition.  All the ice and snow and subsequent salting of the roads by those abusive highway department ruffians, has left my little filly wearing a thin film of white corrosive sodium.   The thought of me being responsible for any rust infestation is driving me to action and near insanity.

This is not the first time I’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to accommodate this infatuation. I’ve scoured Jeep user forums in search of aftermarket tires and roof racks that would perfectly accentuate her top and bottom in the right proportion.  I’ve done numerous private photo sessions on the beach at sunset.  I’ve harshly disciplined the kids for putting horrible things in her seams. I’ve even shelled out for a top of the line air compressor that plugs directly into her on-board socket.  This, to spare her the embarrassment of being seen with deflated sidewalls after our exhilarating beach romps. I’ve never felt this way about a vehicle before, not even my canary yellow ’68 Galaxy 500 convertible.

With the hose thawed I can now do a thorough spray down and remove the forces that would conspire to pre-maturely age her youthful finish.  After this baptismal bath, I tuck her safe and dry into the garage.  I then walk down the driveway and dig her wicked leased step-sister out of the snow drift I rammed her into at the start of the weekend.  After a curt brushing off of some month-old muffin crumbs from the kiddie seats, we all pile in and head back to the city.  As my thoughts wander from the mind numbing conformity of Long Island Expressway HOV lane, I can only  wonder what she’s doing right now.

Nanny Road Kill



The new nanny just got here today.  I walk in and Thing 1 is writing down a list of  her fallen comrades who have come and gone with some regularity since  spring.  It’s like  running with the bulls in Spain.  They come in with that giddy excitement of “winning the job” but leave trampled in the stampede of our domestic juggernaut.  Better odds with the bulls.

Where’s my wife?  Sounds like she’s on the phone in the office.  The nanny’s looking at the five scrawled names like a list of dead hookers from some LA Confidential novel.  Thing 1 wants to know how she spells her name.  I tell her not to worry because half those names didn’t make it pass their first day.  Oh, this is her first day.  Not smooth.  Now she wants to know what the others did wrong.  Where’s my wife?  I’m dying here.

I tell her the first one was from the Philippines.  It only took 4 days to figure out she possessed over a hundred psychosomatic allergies.  She also had a several intolerance to direction (either taking it or loosing it) and used her bed sheets as toilette paper ( maybe she though they were sheets of toilette paper). She asks why we hired her to begin with.  I tell her it’s because she jumped into the swimming pool with all her cloths on to save a child who was a better swimmer than she was. This nanny assumes an expression of stark bewilderment.  I go on,  “See, what happened, is every time Thing 2  jumps in the water she screams “HELP!” you know, as a prank. So the other nanny though she really needed help but instead of looking over at me in my swim suit, legs dangling in the water and two feet from where Thing 2 was laughing and screaming “HELP!”, she decides to go all Bay Watch and jumps right in… again, with all her cloths on…. including shoes.   I actually thought she was showing off some weird kind of Navy Seal code of bravery but in retrospect I think she was just bat shit crazy.  “What about this one?”.  She’s pointing at the name “Chewkey”.   I tell her that one showed up to work in her pajama’s and left the gas burner on all day… you know… in case she needed it.  The kids pretty much took that as an open invitation to make s’mores.   She was followed by the Sag Harbor townie whose boyfriend talked her into using our beach house as a feral crash pad between his Phish tour stops. She was followed by the one who decided that, rather than washing the pillow slips,  she would just simply throw away $2,800 worth of pillows with the slips on.  She even got Thing 1 to help her cart them off to the trash.  Somewhere in Long Island, a lucky Department of Sanitation worker is drooling on five star quality bedding.

My wife walks in.  She surveys the situation like a homicide detective walking into a double murder.  “What did you say?” She asks.  “Oh nothing, we were just talking about the political situation in Tibet.”  I’m summoned back into the office behind closed doors. “Listen!” she starts. “I thought I was clear. I don’t really need you to talk to nanny until I tell you I’m not comfortable with them.”

“You mean when you want me to fire them?”


Now I’m clear again.   I’m also reminded of a line from that David Grey song.  I think it goes, “This year’s love, it better last.”

Citibike Mike


I finally got a Citibike pass and now the urban landscape is rolling past me at average speeds of 10-20 MPH.  It’s not be like chasing the peloton in Tour de France but for me it’s as competitive because I’m riding for my life.  I’m a wanted man, doing my best to elude the endless hazards that stock me on the mean streets of lower Manhattan.  Here’s my typical ride to work.  First, I grab my trusty steed from a seemingly endless sea of blue homogenous bi-peds, branded to the hilt with Citibank logo’s. Then I start my cross town odyssey on a slightly uphill grade baring east on Murray St.  This part of the journey is pleasant enough and I often see moms I recognize from my Soul Cycle spin class nodding with approval as I demonstrate the art of riding a bike that actually goes somewhere.  This congenial setting of pediatric practices and nail salons quickly gives way to a more hostel environment of falafel shops and cheap knockoff luggage stands, as a make my first turn on to Church St.  The bike lane is now gone and a pack of Afghani cabbies appear out of nowhere, closing in fast  behind me. What first felt like a Sunday ride with Mary Popins suddenly turns into running with the bulls in Spain.  I use the biggest of the three pathetic gears and pedal like a mad man to reach my right turn on Walker St.  At this point I’m clutching the bike handles like a condemned man’s final grasp of the arms of the electric chair.  I take my first breath in eight blocks and I crave a cigarette even though I don’t smoke.   The relief is short lived as I cross Broadway and get my first look at the most dead defying territory a Citibike rider can navigate….Chinatown.  Chinatown, land of bad drivers and slippery garage that lines the streets like a Viet Nam mine field. A half-eaten-flattened Peking duck on the right, a broken crate of bok choy on the left and dozens of pedestrians moving fast across the approaching intersection in no predicable pattern.  I decide to ride aggressively though the chaos and emerge on Centre St. with only a dark smudge on my pant leg where I brushed a dirty old van dropping off used restaurant equipment.  Now it’s a simply couple blocks to the return stalls by my office on Grand and I have 2 minutes to spare before my first meeting.  I feel victorious until I see that all the slots are full.  I consult the iphone app that tells me there are two available spots on Spring.  By the time I get there one is taken and the other is wrapped up with crime scene tape.  Finally, I’m sitting in my meeting with the blue pedal pig leaning against the conference room wall.  Lugging it up three flights gave me a groin pull.  In the rough and tumble tech start up world, this is looked on as a failure to launch.

A Whale Tale


Early morning in Punta Mita Mexico. The sun is rising over the hills of Puerto Vallarta in the distance.  Mangy puppies, grimy chickens and the odd iguana are coming to life in natures  symphony of poverty.  My wife, Thing 1, Thing 2, my dad and I are standing on a rocky foreboding beach waiting for our captain to arrive.  .  I come to realize that while vacationing in Mexico, one must alway adjust one’s expectations downward.  The formula is take the usual star rating system used everywhere else in the world and subtract two stars.  Out on the water now and our captain looks like he might be moonlighting from his drug cartel day job but god can he spot a whale!  We’ve seen four all ready and I haven’t even got my camera out yet.  They are every bit as majestic as I’ve always imagined.  We see it all, baby whales dancing around the mother whales, breaching whales, whale tails, whale humps.  I could go on but I’m sounding like the Bubba Shrimp guy in Forest Gump.   The seas start getting active and the kids are loosing interest in all things having to do with whales at an alarming rate.  Next they loose all color in their little faces.  We instruct captain kid to point our vessel towards shore to avoid chumming up the dark inky water.  I’m getting queazy myself but I keep a brave face, not necessarily for the children but so I don’t lose face with my father.  He’s a former naval aviator and has always been disappointed in my inability to handle myself on the high seas.   Quietly I know he now blames me for passing an inferior aquatic gene to his granddaughters.  We pull back into the the makeshift dock and aside from a couple dry heaves,  no real damage to the kids.  Back at the resort my dad and I compare photos and discover that our point and shoots have just enough shutter speed to catch a bunch of phantom splashes.  We decide to go back into town and see if we can pick up a photograph from a gift shop and pass it off as an original.

Off The Rails



 Whoever said rail travel is romantic must be used to spending Valentine’s Day picking out toe jam and watching professional wrestling.  I honestly don’t know why I thought my Amtrak exertion from NYC to Springfield was going to be interesting- maybe I’ve been watching too many documentaries about the railroad barons or something.  Instead of snow covered Vermont vistas and yuppies skating on frozen ponds, I’m treated to rural back yards filled with trash heaps,  ramped rottweilers and rusted trampolines.  It does makes sense I guess.  Why would the train go through the best parts of town anyway?  Just another example of how the rich get esthetically richer and hobo’s get a nice wake up call in the middle of the night from a blaring train whistle.  No wonder they’re always agitated. Hell, I’d stab my skankie travel companion with a home made shiv too if I were that sleep deprived.  The conductor just announced no more stops from Stanford to Penn Station.  Say it isn’t so!  All my Christmas’ coming at once and now I’ll only be 10 minutes late for dinner in the city.  The train just lost all power and we’re just coasting ever so slowly by another bum encampment on our way to complete stop.  If I were them I’d hop the train, take over the cafe car and gorge myself on stale pretzels and lite beer. Hey, what I’m I thinking?  I just might have to defend myself if I ever want to see my children again.  I look in my backpack for a weapon and all I can up with is the power cord to my iMac.  I hope they show mercy. 

The Zen of McEnroe



I’m on Spotify making playlists that will hopefully inspire me to workout.  I just purchased an “Up Band” at the apple store. Among other things, it tracks how many calories you take in and burn off in any given day.   Now I’m obsessed with logging each step, meal, nap and sexual encounter with my wife.  They all add up to calories in or out.   I’ve also set the “lazy” setting at 15 minute so my wrist band now buzzes several times a day while I’m working.  Once it goes off, I get up and go to the toilet and it usually stops. The toilet is 25-30 steps depending on how bad I need to go.   I’m listening to “Jump Around” by House of Pain and I’m struck by how few decent white rappers there have been.  The Beasty Boys, Eminem and House of Pain are the only ones that come to mind.  I hear the lyric, “I’ll serve your ass like John McEnroe” and I start to think about how McEnroe embodies the independent, unyielding spirit of rap.  There needs to be a whole rap song devoted to McEnroe I think.  Something that highlights the difference between McEnroe and say Lance Armstrong.  Something like this:


your nest is so nappy under the red of your band

you don’t look so happy to fan in the stand

but your rightin’ the wrongs and drawing the lines in

By all of your yellin’, cursin’ and whinnin’


Your Mc-En-Roe, Ja-Ja-John Mc-En-roe

And the tennis world has come to rue ya’

as you slap any ump who tries to step to ya’

Your Mc-En-Roe, Ja-Ja-John Mc-En-roe

And in your day you got down.


The cloths you wore, they kinda looked gay

But you attitude was always in play

You were dopin’ w/o all the drugs

And you make Armstrong look like the mafia thugs


Your Mc-En-Roe, Ja-Ja-John Mc-En-roe

And the tennis world has come to rue ya’

as you slap any ump who tries to step to ya’

Your Mc-En-Roe, Ja-Ja-John Mc-En-roe

And in your day you got down.


Damn, my wrist band just buzzed and I don’t even need to go.

It’s beginning to look too much like Christmas

Driving out of my dad’s gated community in Houston.  I’ve got the kids strapped up in the back with these new portable safety vests.  It basically hangs them from the back tether hook like the thing my dad used to secure the turkey before plunging it into 16 gallons of scalding peanut oil for our Thanksgiving feast. It’s all a distant memory now.  Last night, after the dust from Black Friday settled in a pile of half-priced jeans and two for one waffle makers, I took Thing 1 and Thing 2 for a barefoot walk in the balmy Texas night.  Everybody had their lights up already, trying to get the early jump the neighborhood association decoration competition.  The kids were perplexed.  Thing 2 still believes in Santa and his eight foot animatronic clone created a disconnect for her.  I told her it was monument to him, like the status of Theodore Roosevelt in front of the Natural History Museum.  She wanted to know where the horse was.
Back in New York and we’re out enjoying our weekend skate around the neighborhood.  They’re on Razors, I’m on a proper skateboard.  The three of us are a bonafide menace to the neighborhood.  As we tear through the green market, an old woman with a walker sees her long life flash before her as Thing 1 demonstrates her flamingo torpedo move past the amish turkey sausage vendor.  This involves pointing one leg out straight while assuming a horizontal pike position.  She then slides out in a bed of flagrant lose pine needles in the urban Christmas tree forest.  She cries a little but is quickly mesmerized by the one stop shop for everything Yule Tide.  We get off our rides and start scheming for how we can get mom to go for a big one.  She’s from Australia and down there the puddings are bigger than the Christmas trees.  We decide the whole deal can be done with jewelry.

The Tooth Fairy


Thing 1 just lost another tooth.  It only took four for her to learn the tooth fairy is a fake.  This realization came from her little first grade partner in crime.  She calls her Frenchie because she’s French.  Actually my wife started called her Frenchie and Thing 1 adopted it.  You can never start cultural stereotyping too early is what I always say.  My wife only does this with the french though.  Once she came into my office where we had just hired a french strategist.  For some reason he had some chalk or white paint in his hair and it looked like a skunk’s tail.  Without even thinking, she called him Pepe, after Pepe-la-pew, the amorous cartoon character.  He turned out to be a total Pepe. Pulling teeth in my opinion is the dad’s job.  There’s something very frontier-ish about it. It demonstrates courage, confidence and self-reliance in both the puller and the pullie.  Before I go in for an extraction, I usually wait ‘til the tooth is so loose that a good sneeze could knock it out.  By that time I can usually pluck it out by hand but sometimes I use tweeters wrapped with sticky tape for theatrics.  I left this tooth too long because the nanny yanked it out while we were out going to open houses, hoping I find inspiration for floor stains.  I got really upset with her but I didn’t show it.   I want to say, “Hey girl, that’s my job! I’m not paying you to be the hero around here! Go get you own act! Quit giving away the secrets to my magic show!”  The next thing you know she’ll being loosening the lids of apple sauce jars and I’ll be out of a job all together.  Back to Thing 1.  She just wants the money without going through the whole “leave it under the bed” routine.  I agree and ask her if she can break a five.  Is there no mystery left in the world?