Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Announcing a New Member of the Family: Reg


Reginald, or "Reg," our groundhog.

Reginald, or “Reg,” our groundhog.

by Keith Yancy

Meet Reg.

“Reg” is a groundhog.  Not “just” a groundhog, or any random groundhog.  Reg is the adopted, “Yancy family” groundhog.

“Reg” has been living with us longer than he’s had his name, actually.  For whatever reason, it took my wife, kids and I collectively a year or so to realize that Reg has been living quite contentedly under our backyard deck.  One day I noticed a fat, jiggling rat-like creature running through our yard and making straight for our house.  He ran without breaking stride right under the deck, and after watching our frustrated dog bark at him helplessly for a while, I realized that all the clues of Reg’s living arrangements were right in front of me the whole time.

For instance:

  1. Our dog would constantly check the basement window wells next to our deck, looking for something (I knew not what at the time).  She never, ever let the chance go by without checking these openings, and in retrospect, I now know that Reg uses them as both escape hatches and doors from his house under the deck into our (his) yard.
  2. Once when I was working in the basement, I heard a strange scratching sound over my head.  I looked up and out the window, only to find Reg plastered against the window, right where the deck meets the window well.  Reg’s two large front teeth were in full view, and we peered at each other for a surprisingly long time until Reg ambled off to do whatever it is groundhogs do under people’s decks.  I have to admit, I think Reg looked utterly ridiculous plastered against the glass, and I somehow suspect Reg felt ridiculous too.
  3. My daughter talked once about her “fat squirrel” in the backyard.  We all thought she was talking about an actual squirrel until one day, a fuzzy head peeked above the steps on the deck, and we decided that an animal with a head that large was too big to be a squirrel.  The big fuzzy head looked around, noticed the dog going nuts behind the glass doorwall (he was not scared and definitely not impressed), and eventually disappeared.
Reg likes to poke about in the yard, which he thinks is HIS yard.

Reg likes to poke about in the yard, which he thinks is HIS yard.

It was only after we pieced together all these events and started seeing this groundhog more often that we decided to give him a name.  It didn’t take us long.  I asked my daughters what we should name it, and after a couple of suggestions (I vetoed “Bubbles,” for the record) we decided on Reginald.  Reginald was soon downgraded to “Reggie” and, not long afterward, just “Reg.”  Reg has been making fairly regular appearances around our home ever since. 

Even though I killed thousands of bees, I can’t find it in my heart to try to get rid of Reg.  For one thing, Reg isn’t living IN my house.  For another, he’s never stung me, or chased me around the yard, or shown up in my basement, or master bedroom, or any of the other places that the bees would make their appearance.  I’ve never tried (or had the inclination to try) to vacuum Reg with my Shop-Vac, like I did with the bees.  Reg seems quite content to live under the deck outside, and while I suspect he thinks it’s HIS deck and HIS house, we manage to co-exist pretty nicely together.

Reg, walking around on the deck like he owns the place.

Reg, walking around on the deck like he owns the place.

As a neighbor, I have to confess that I find Reg somehow comforting.  Reg never demands anything from me.  He’s not looking for the next innovative strategy, or reminding me of a deadline, or presenting me with a bill to pay; Reg barely makes any noise or fuss at all.  He wanders about the yard virtually every day, doing his groundhog thing.  Occasionally, he’ll walk around ON my deck, but he’s quiet, and doesn’t do any damage. 

My daughter took this photo of Reg staring at me through my dining room window.

My daughter took this photo of Reg staring at me through my dining room window.

One Saturday a few weeks ago, as I was painting my dining room (part of yet another “never-ending project”), I got a strange feeling and looked out the window.  There was Reg… staring blankly up at me from the deck.  Once again, I found myself face-to-face with this groundhog, with only a single pane of glass and about four feet between us.  And once again, we made eye contact and stared at each other for a surprisingly long time.  This time, Reg had much more dignity than when he was pressed up against my basement window.  It may sound crazy, but this time, Reg seemed almost thoughtful.  We watched each other for several moments, while I whispered to my daughter to get me my phone, trying not to move or otherwise scare Reg away.  It didn’t work.  Reg is notoriously “camera shy,” and by the time my phone (and the camera inside it) got to me, he had dashed off.  I still think we shared a brief moment, though.

Not a great shot, but this is Reg standing on his hind legs.  He looks pretty silly, but appearances matter little to Reg.

Not a great shot, but this is Reg standing on his hind legs. He looks pretty silly, but appearances matter little to Reg.

Anyhow, I find myself looking for Reg, and finding him in the yard is now a source of entertainment for our family.  Reg seems very busy.  He’s always rooting around for food, I suppose, or looking around for predators.  There doesn’t seem to be any real predators anywhere (my dog is the closest thing Reg has to an “enemy,” and she can’t catch him).  Reg has taught my family a lot about groundhogs, as we Google up groundhog facts quite often when we see him.  The literature on groundhogs is not terribly interesting or exhaustive, and we learn a lot more just seeing Reg in action.  Though he looks fat, he moves astonishingly fast, and can get out of Dodge in a big, big hurry when properly motivated.  He’s got some courage, too, as I’ve seen him crossing our street more than once.  Reg will occasionally stand up on his hind legs when the mood strikes him, and while he gives up that “dignified look” I mentioned earlier, stands over a foot tall when he’s on his hind legs, which I find pretty impressive.

So, once again, I find myself living in close proximity to wildlife.  And, as long as Reg stays OUTSIDE my house, I’m waving the flag of truce.  Reg is a rather comforting tenant to have around, and if he eats a flower or two, I’ll overlook it.  I just hope he stays single, and doesn’t start a family… my dog will never be able to relax, and I’ll waste too much time trying to take photos of all the groundhogs.

Until next time… :)

My IKEA Complaint Letter


TO: IKEA Complaint Department

FROM: Mr. Keith Yancy

RE: Product Issue Causing Gradual Insanity

Dear IKEA:

My name is Keith Yancy, and I am a customer at your Michigan (Canton) IKEA store.  I have a complaint.

Along with my wife and three daughters, I am a loyal customer.  I have purchased furniture, pictures, lights, light bulbs, rugs, drapes, plates, and a host of other products.  I like them all, even though they have unusual names like “Besta Vassbo,” “Vejbon” and “Hemnes” that I suspect I mispronounce.  I even like the food, from the meatballs to the 50-cent hot dogs, and I’m particularly fond of the cinnamon rolls.  I’m not ashamed to say I’ve spent thousands of dollars over the years at your store, and was generally happy to do so.

Until now.  And it’s all because of this:

photo 21_Cropped

Yes, this is a cup.  A cup YOU sell, in packs of 8, I believe.  Various colors, of which I own all.  To fully understand my problem, allow me to explain how these cups have begun to chip away at my sanity.

__________________________________________

It began with a trip to your store, obviously, with my wife and kids.  Because you design your store to channel hapless patrons like myself through all the merchandise, I unwittingly passed a display of these cups, and (unbeknownst to me) my youngest daughter put two packs of plastic cups in our basket.  My wife and I only discovered these cups as we were checking out, and began to debate our kids about why we didn’t need them.  But, with other customers waiting behind us and our daughters’ obnoxious ability to argue endlessly about anything for hours and hours, we gave up and just added them to our bill.

And that’s when it all started.

You see, these cups are left everywhere in my home.  EVERYWHERE.  Some empty, some half-full of water or milk, many COMPLETELY full of water or milk, all of which are left just waiting to be discovered by my wife or me.  This process can take days in some cases (as they are sometimes placed in very strange places), and only the smell of curdling milk makes their location — eventually — known.  My favorite ones are the ones with a spoon in them, fused to the bottom of these evil little colored cups by a layer of what was once hot chocolate (I hope); all attempts at getting a kid to wash them have, to date, resulted in dismal failure.

No matter what day of the week, time of day, or season of the year, these cups are everywhere.  They can be found left on the table,

D

on a countertop,

A

scattered around the house in places they shouldn’t be,

C

or even inside a candy dish, for reasons unknown:

B

This has been going on for months.  Little plastic IKEA cup-bombs, forever lurking within my home, their multi-colored silence mocking me from room to room.  I’ve tripped over them, found them in the yard, in the bathroom, in my cars, and because they are seemingly made of indestructible, perpetually cheery colored plastic, they never break, and therefore never grow fewer in number.  Even the colors contribute to my descent into madness: I find my OCD in full bloom when, as I load the dishwasher, I become agitated because I can’t find the OTHER orange cup, or wonder why the blue cups always wind up in the kitchen while the green ones disappear for weeks at a time, or why I secretly like the yellow ones the best.

I’M LOSING MY MIND.

Now you may protest that this is MY problem, as MY children are the ones leaving them everywhere, but I believe you are partially to blame.  Sure, all our parental attempts at getting the kids to clean up after themselves are generally failing, but it was YOU that designed your store to put them in our path.  YOU offer these cups in bright colors that kids like enough (apparently) to put them in our shopping cart without permission.  In other words, you set a trap for us (me), and I’m suffering as a result.

In case you wish to know how bad this situation has become, I’ve begun to suspect that these cups will eventually wind up everywhere — like a virus that takes over the entire planet.  I’ve begun to have visions of them cropping up around the world, like this:

verlander

patagonia

obama

korea

Given what I’ve observed at my home, I even think these cups could escape the bonds of earth.  I really do.

space

In fact, I’m convinced that these cups are so pervasive, there is absolutely nowhere they can’t turn up.  I’m willing to bet that if someone actually DOES find Bigfoot out in the forest somewhere, he’ll be walking around holding one of our little plastic IKEA cups, like this:  

bigfoot

In short, I don’t think I can escape these cups.  Ever.  Even when it’s my time to go, I suspect they’ll be waiting for my arrival:

heaven

Or, in the event that my behavior here on Earth isn’t as good as I think it is, I could EASILY picture these cups waiting for me elsewhere, poised to ensure my journey to insanity is both complete and eternal:

hell

______________________

So, IKEA, since you were in part responsible for my deteriorating condition, I propose compensation.  Clearly, you’re cheerful little plastic cups have negatively affected my mind, and I think a free package of cinnamon rolls is a fair exchange for my mental health.  If you are particularly moved by my suffering, some meatballs would be nice too.   I may eventually go completely insane, but it would be nice to do so after sampling your cinnamon rolls, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be a more docile and satisfied insane person on a full stomach.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  I feel compelled to observe that, even if you choose not to offer compensation, my wife and kids enjoy your store too much for me to effectively boycott your products.  So while this may appear to be an empty threat, I can only trust that your conscience as a marketer and as a parent (if you have children) will nag at you, knowing you have driven a cynical suburban father of three out of his mind.

Yours,

Keith D. Yancy

On the eighth day, God made a politician.


Political-Podium

by Keith Yancy

I couldn’t resist.

Watching the recent Ram Truck ad (click this link to see it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE) and hearing the unmistakable, melodic voice of Paul Harvey inspired me to create my own version of his speech.  I wish Harvey could read it with that wonderful voice and style of his.  Not really sure why, just felt like writing this and having some fun with it.

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, I need a source of frustration — so God made a politician.

God said I need somebody willing to take both sides of an issue, argue passionately for and against the same principles, have lunch, take both sides of an issue again, pause for a photo-op, eat dinner then go to a political rally and stay past midnight reminding people of how you enjoy spending evenings with your family — so God made a politician.

I need somebody who won’t shy away from promoting family values yet brave enough to sleep with his own staff members; somebody to protest loudly, cave meekly, talk endlessly while saying nothing, proclaim your individuality while never breaking ranks with his or her political party, then tell news reporters you’re too busy to grant an interview or answer tough questions — so God made a politician.

God said I need somebody willing to fight day and night for the middle class, and watch it wither because of unemployment and higher taxes, then dry her eyes and vote for tax breaks for the rich.  I need someone who can ignore a multi-trillion-dollar growing deficit, let bankers cheat people out of their homes and savings, kiss strangers babies and hug their children while voting to cut spending for their education, refuse to take a position on difficult issues while introducing symbolic and unnecessary legislation to appear patriotic — so God made a politician.

God had to have someone public enough to accept donations from taxpayers, charities and companies, yet private enough to spend those donations to pay for his mistresses, vacations and hobbies — so God made a politician.

God said I need somebody shameless enough to call political opponents names, yet outraged and indignant when those same opponents respond in kind.  Who will smile and nod with those who agree with him the same way he does with those who do not.  It had to be somebody who would dodge and demure and not give direct answers; somebody to talk, balk, gawk, and walk in parades and shake hands and give high-fives and pat backs and nod wisely and make bold proclamations and sincere apologies and self-righteous denials all in a 30-minute span of time, and do it day after day until their 8-week recess starts.  Somebody who can rally the base and generate voter turnout with the soft, strong bonds of empty promises and finger-pointing; who would laugh and then sigh, and reply with smiling eyes when her daughter says she wants to spend her life doing what Mom does… so God made a politician.

Whatever you do, this was intended to be a joke — it’s not meant to be partisan, nor does it reflect my true opinion of politicians (though it’s not that far off).  Perhaps it leans a bit left, but I’m well aware that Democrats and Republicans are far more alike than they are different.

Until next time… :)

Want to feel smart? Read this post


dumb

by Keith Yancy

People often feel smarter when they see someone do something stupid.  That’s why I’ve decided to share a recent experience that will help my friends and followers feel better about themselves — kind of my very own “self-help” post.

A quick note before we begin: I’m a sucker for self-help books.  I have a vast collection, probably because I’m a harsh self-critic; while I’ve collected quite a few “read this and you’ll improve”-type books, they rarely make much of an impact on my day-to-day life.  But I keep reading them, hope springing eternal that I’ll read my way to better fitness, better leadership, better charisma, better whatever. 

Anyhow, when it comes to the self-help genre, I know my way around pretty well.  So sit back, read this post, and by the end, you’ll feel smart.  Trust me.

___________________________

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a home improvement project.  This project is like most of my projects: time-consuming, expensive, exhausting.  As part of this project, I needed to purchase a variety of materials at my local home improvement store.  Normally, I make about 300 silly trips to this store, sometimes several per day, in part because I’m forgetful, and in part because buying materials in small quantities makes me feel (wrongly) like I’m somehow spending less money.

On this day, I decided to break my pattern and buy all the various lumber for my project at once.  I chose a cold day for this, about 33 degrees, with gusty 30+ mile-per-hour winds and a steady rain.  I wanted to get the entire trip done in one fell swoop, because I was anxious to make progress quickly and didn’t really want to go to the store anyway. 

I decided to take my wife’s minivan, because it had more room for lumber, and did a quick clean out of the incredible variety of junk and materials our family minivan regularly contains: empty cups, wrappers, homework papers, music books, etc. etc. etc.  I complained aloud throughout my rushed and not-very-thorough cleaning, getting rained on as I carried what felt like a million scraps of stuff from the van to our garage.  Already wet and getting grumpier by the minute, I decided to fold the back seats down into the floor and leave the middle seats half-folded (with the seatbacks forward).  Satisfied I had done enough, I closed up the back and sides of the minivan, got inside, and headed off to the store, cold, wet and crabby.

The store was busy: the winds whipped up and the rain got harder (and sideways) as I went inside, and even though it took me about 45 minutes to gather all the materials I needed, it was going strong as I went through the checkout.  The lumber cost a fortune.  I had several large 4×8 plywood panels, at least 30 eight-foot boards, a wide assortment of 12-foot moldings, and several hundred dollars later, I began the slow walk through the rain and wind toward the van. 

This walk was made harder by the fact that one of the wheels on my lumber carrier had some sort of problem that made the entire cart bounce constantly, veering and jitterbugging everywhere except the direction I was pushing it.  I indulged in some colorful name-calling as I zig-zagged through the parking lot to my van, twice having to stop in the wind and rain to make sure the lumber didn’t fall off.  After what seemed like forever, I finally got all my lumber to my minivan, and opened the back to load it in.

You’re about to feel smarter.

I loaded all the lumber into the minivan, messing around to get the panels in first, then stacking all the lumber in various creative ways until all of the lumber was in the van.  I was cold, wet, and had a couple of splinters in my hands when I went to close the liftgate.

Of course, the liftgate wouldn’t shut.  The panels, which I had put on the backs of the middle seats, stuck out about two inches too far in the back.  After trying to force the liftgate shut a few times, I looked through the van for some string or a cord to tie it down.  In the rain and wind.  Of course, I had nothing like string around, so I did the next best thing: I moved the driver and passenger seats forward as far as they could go, then pushed the lumber forward just enough to get the liftgate closed.

Thinking I won, I took the jiggly push cart back to the corral (muttering a few parting insults) and got in the van to drive home.  Cold, wet, tired, breathing heavily, and now in a foul mood, I wedged my body into the driver seat.  It was then I discovered that the seats were so far forward that the steering wheel literally was pressing against my chest; my legs were so jammed in, I couldn’t operate the pedals. 

I felt and looked like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man in a phone booth.

As I sat there, an overstuffed man squished into an overstuffed minivan, I actually tried to convince myself that I could drive like this.  The trip was short.  There’s only two traffic lights.  Hell, it’s only about two miles — what could go wrong?  As I temporarily escaped the wind and rain, I tried desperately to rationalize how I could make this silly situation work out.  I even started the car and sat for a moment before I finally admitted that if I couldn’t steer or use the pedals, then I really couldn’t drive.

Someone once said stubbornness is when you double your efforts when you no longer have a clear vision, and I set about proving that to be true.

I sighed, got out, and then had a flash of (what I thought) was insight: I’d fold the seats into the floor without unloading the minivan.  In the cold and rain, I got to work trying out this moronic idea.  It only took me about 10 minutes — after trying to fold seats under at least 100 pounds of bulky lumber (bristling with splinters, btw) to admit that this idea was even dumber than trying to drive a minivan while smashed against the controls.  I paused, in the rain, and consciously ignored the stares of other shoppers as I admitted defeat. 

I then began a new round of muttered swearing and insults (directed at the rain, lumber, minivans, carts, anything but myself) and set about unloading all the lumber I had worked so hard to squeeze into my minivan.  The rain poured down and the wind whipped up as I got yet a different cart, brought it back to my van, and put all — and I mean ALL — the lumber I had just loaded into the van back out onto the cart, swearing under my breath with true gusto. 

This cart, unlike the previous one, rolled great.  So great, that it would roll without pushing, which made wrestling all the lumber onto it (in the wind and rain) incredibly difficult, and time-consuming too.  This situation soon became the focus of my sarcastic self-dialogue of swear words, insults, and colorful descriptions.  I finished unloading, folded the middle seats into the floor (after telling them what I thought of them), retrieved my cart of lumber — which was rolling several car lengths away through the parking lot — and started the loading process all over again.

By now, the wind had started gusting stronger — so strong, in fact, that when I tried to put a large panel in my car, the wind caught it and almost ripped it from my hands.  I soon found myself bent over backwards, holding desperately onto a large wooden panel that was trying to fly over the roof of my van, literally growling (!) with anger and exertion.  I would probably still be there had a passing stranger not stopped to help, looking at me with a mixture of confusion and contempt as he helped me wrestle this now wet, cracked piece of plywood into my van.  All dignity and pride were gone by then, and as the rain blew into my eyes, I finished (for the second time) loading all my lumber into the van.  As I slammed the rear liftgate shut in disgust, I noticed that my feet were now cold and wet, mostly because I was standing in about 3 inches of icy water that had collected behind my van.  

By the time I got all my lumber loaded into my vehicle, it occurred to me that:

1.  I should have picked a better day,
2.  I should have put the seats down before I left,
3.  I should have picked a better cart, and
4.  I should have picked an easier project.

After a trip to the store that cost me a fortune, stripped me of my dignity, and lasted twice as long as I wanted it to, I ended up cold, wet, with a collection of slivers in my hands, literally beat up by my own lumber purchase.  What’s more, it was clear to me a few days later that I didn’t buy ENOUGH lumber, and had to go back to the store anyway.

_______________________

In self-help books, there’s often a strong element of “at least you weren’t this bad.”  So… I hope this true story makes you feel better about yourself, and that my stupidity makes you feel smarter. 

Until next time… :)

Donuts With Dad… How I Threw Up at my Daughter’s Grade School


by Keith Yancy

I thought my days of throwing up in a grade school restroom were 35 years in the past.  I thought wrong.

It all started with an event at my kid’s grade school: “Donuts with Dad.”  The flyer came home with my 10-year-old daughter, a purple slip of paper with a 1950’s style neon sign typeface, and lay in plain sight on the kitchen counter.  The flyer described a morning “Dad/kid” extravaganza, complete with donuts, coffee, and a short “discussion” afterwards about how to be a better Christian father.  And my 10-year-old daughter was pretty excited about it.  Only one conversation with her made it clear: she was really, REALLY looking forward to going to Donuts with Dad WITH her dad, and not going wasn’t going to be tolerated.

So, after a moment of reflection on how “good dads” do this sort of thing, I agreed to take a day off work and go.  Not that this would take all day; but something inside me warned me that this degree of social awkwardness might take some post-donut recovery time.  I’m not outgoing at these types of events, and sitting around with a bunch of other fathers isn’t something I typically like to do.  But I also know that doing stuff you don’t normally like doing is part of life, so with a sigh and a smile, I told my daughter we’d be there.

The day arrived, and I felt fine.  No issues.  I decided that, since I had the day off anyway, I’d go casual and try to look like one of the “cool dads.”  That meant, for me, jeans, a button down shirt (not tucked in, which, to me, says “I’m young and trying to be cool”), and a black leather jacket.  In retrospect, the entire ensemble was completely negated by the uncomfortable look on my face, but at the time, I thought I’d look okay.  My daughter was grinning ear-t0-ear, wearing her backpack and school clothes, excited about both dad going to school and the chance to eat a donut (probably not in that order).

We walked in, were greeted by some very, very friendly school employees, and walked into the Donuts with Dad area, which consisted of several long tables with coffee, donuts, bagels and spreads, all arranged carefully and garnished with harvest themed gourds and leaves.  It was obvious that women were arranging and running the event, which was good; guys would have just stacked a bunch of donut boxes on top of each other and let the chips fall where they may. 

The room was loud.  There were young kids darting everywhere, grabbing donuts and juice, with many of them sporting powdered sugar on their lips and cheeks.  Half-empty paper cups of juice were on virtually every horizontal surface.  Most of the dads in attendance were either sitting with their kids, making some forced small talk with the nearest “other” dad, or simply sitting silent while drinking coffee.  There were few open seats. 

At this point, I have two confessions to make: First, I don’t do well at these sorts of parties.  Even when I tried to dress cool, I knew I wasn’t, and would have probably paid cash money for the gift of invisibility.  As a result, I did the next best thing: I immediately tried to “blend in” by getting a cup of coffee and grabbing a donut.  This leads me to my other confession: when under such “social duress,” I sometimes make inexplicable choices.  And this time was one of them.

I decided, in one baffling moment, that I would eat healthy (!) and choose a bagel rather than a donut.  Looking back, this was the beginning of my downfall.  I chose what I THOUGHT was a plain bagel, and because putting cream cheese on it would seem awkward, decided to eat my plain bagel bone-dry.  My daughter, who doesn’t suffer from such social confusion, grabbed a donut and juice, and we retreated to a bench near the back corner of the room. 

My daughter was genuinely excited.  She talked and grinned the entire time (which made this entire story/experience worthwhile, I might add) and discussed what she would be doing in school that day.  She pointed out friends in the room, but either out of excitement or loyalty, refused to leave my side.  I began to eat my bone-dry plain bagel, only to realize that what I thought was a plain bagel wasn’t.  It was a pumpkin bagel.  I sighed.  I don’t like pumpkin-flavored anything, and here I was, holding a pumpkin bagel and a cup of luke-warm coffee, and feeling awkward and uncool. 

And then, another bad decision: I decided to eat my pumpkin bagel.  I thought it would look ungrateful and rude to not eat it, so I ate it, despite the fact that a) I hate pumpkin bagels, b) nobody cared, and c) no one would have noticed anyhow.  There we were, my daughter drinking her juice and talking non-stop while I looked vaguely bewildered in the corner of the room, force-feeding myself a dry pumpkin bagel.  I ate the entire thing.  No way was I going to look rude.

After a while, the kids were called to class, and for the first time in my life, I felt role reversal with my kid: I didn’t want her to go and leave ME there by myself, facing the uncertain-but-likely-oogly “Dad’s discussion session.”  I steeled myself for what was to come, gave her a hug, and watched her go, slowly shuffling toward the church entrance with the other shuffling, uncomfortable dads to start our “discussion.”  I started feeling queasy, but chalked it up to nerves.  I went in, and like all the other dads, sat apart from everyone else.  Every dad had at least four feet of personal space from every other dad.  A few of us made slight small talk, with hastily whispered introductions and a benign remark about how Donuts with Dad was a nice idea.

A pastor came in and led the discussion, which was really a lecture.  No dad spoke.  The lecture was pleasant enough, though it became clear that the sub-text to the lecture was the importance of financial support for the school.  This was not unexpected.  What WAS unexpected, unfortunately, was the growing realization that I was feeling more and more ill as time went on.

My physical state went through several phases of decline during the 30-minute discussion:

  1. I don’t think that pumpkin bagel agreed with me.”
  2. “I could actually throw up.”
  3. “I could really, really, truly throw up.”
  4. “I wonder how embarrassing it would be if I threw up here?”
  5. “I might just throw up here.”
  6. “If I leave now, could I make it home before I throw up?”
  7. “I’m NOT going to throw up.  Be strong.”
  8. “To hell with strong, be discreet.  I should go to the bathroom to throw up.”
  9. “Will I make it to the bathroom before I throw up?”
  10. “If I throw up in church, will other dads be offended?”
  11. “I’m going to look disrespectful if I leave before the prayer.”
  12. “I’m outta here.”

In the end, I fled just before the prayer, taking great pains to walk rather than run.  By this point, I no longer cared HOW I looked, just that I didn’t throw up pumpkin bagel all over the church in front of 60 other dads (and a pastor).  I made it to the restroom in time, which — thankfully — was empty, and promptly did what I should have done 30 minutes earlier: disposed of my pumpkin bagel.  The entire time, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I threw up for the first time in 35 years in a grade school bathroom.

I cleaned myself up, and decided to leave.  I gave a polite smile and greeting to the women cleaning up the donuts and bagels, and walked carefully out to my car, taking care to leave before the other dads made their own personal mad-dash to their cars.  As I left the parking lot, I felt a mixture of satisfaction for going to Donuts with Dad with my daughter (who didn’t know my sad story at this point), embarrassment, lingering queasiness of my ill-fated pumpkin bagel, and relief that I had the rest of the day to recover.  

Donuts with Dad.  Next year, I’m sticking with donuts.

Until next time… :)

A Letter to England: Thanks for the jokes… :)


Note: This letter is written to Peter, a friend in England.  He is a pub owner in the town of Huddersfield, and I hope to visit there someday.  Peter has followed my battles with the bees for a long time, and while I was performing the semi-disgusting task of cleaning out the remains of the beehive from my living room ceiling, Peter decided to send me a steady stream of jokes and puns.  As I suspect this was as much for his amusement as for my own, I decided to share with Peter exactly what my experience was like, if for no other reason than to explain my somewhat limited sense of humor at the time.

_____________________________________

Dear Peter:

By now you know that, after three long years, I’m finally rid of the bees in my house.  You’ve heard about my ridiculous adventures: bees chasing me around the yard, stinging my face, and getting vacuumed up in my work vacuum, and you’ve been a good sport and interested friend through it all. 

You can certainly appreciate how excited I was to finally remove these damned bees from my living room ceiling, after all my battles and failures.  As I suspect, you were also interested to hear about how I finally removed all the bees — and the beehive — after such a long process.  That may explain why you took so much pleasure in sending me such corny jokes as:

  • How do you hunt for bees? With a bee bee gun.
  • How does a bee brush its hair? With a honey comb.
  • What flies but tastes good on toast?  A BUTTERfly!

And, my personal favorite:

  • Why did the queen bee kick out all of the other bees? Because they kept droning on and on.

Peter, since it’s obvious you’re in a joking mood and looking for a few laughs, allow me to relate how my day went today.  I think you’ll soon understand why I’m no longer fond of bees, or honey, or anything to do with the subject.  I also suspect you will laugh at my experience.  Let’s get started.

Consider, for a moment, what you think of when you think about a beehive: thousands and thousands of bees, working day after day after day making two things: more bees, and more honey.  Then consider what happens when you kill all those bees, in a closed in, small space hanging in the ceiling of your home, right above your living room sofa.  Yes, that’s right — you’ve got a suitcase-sized blob of honey, honeycomb and dead bees with nowhere to go but DOWN — through your ceiling, or, if you cut a large hole already (we did), down into where you and your family live every day.

In other words, it’s a huge mess, and it has to go.  Fast. 

With this knowledge in mind, I proceeded to start trying to clean this mess up to avoid it becoming even MORE of a mess.  This was the first of my many mistaken notions.  Within 10 minutes and despite strategically placed garbage bags, plastic sheets on the floors, rubber gloves, etc, I had somehow spread honey and bee guts everywhere.  It was impossible not to do so.  Honey was dripping from the ceiling, down the walls, and all over the plastic, and no matter what I did or how I tried to manage the mess, I found that this honey — gooey, sticky honey — had spread like a virus to virtually every surface inside (and even outside) my house.  Honey, bee wings, bee heads, bee legs, and various other bee parts quickly coated the floors, my shoes, my clothes, the front porch, our sink faucet handles, and later on, my tools, my hair (and eyebrows, and eyes), my ladder, my flashlight, my eyeglasses, and even my wife’s bathroom mirror, which I used to see just how much of a mess was still in the walls. 

But this was just the beginning.  The honey was sticky, but I discovered, with some irony, that the closer I actually came to the beehive, the harder and harder the honey became.  This was because the temperature outside was cool, and the colder the honey is, the more and more it becomes like a combination of glue… and iron.  Once this became apparent, I described this discovery using some colorful language that I won’t repeat here.  I also realized why the exterminator left this part of the job for me to do.

After chipping and scraping at this honey/glue/iron mixture for a few minutes (punctuated with a yet more genuinely heartfelt swear words), I came up with a brilliant idea: heat.  Warm honey is much easier to work with and clean up, I thought, and this would make the job much easier.  So, I went and got a heat gun, and being that the hive was in the ceiling, I had to stand underneath the hole to heat it up.  I’ve had lots of bad ideas in the past but this one was one of the worst as I learned that heated honey does two things: 1) becomes liquid and drippy very, very fast, and 2) burns morons who stand below it with a scraper and a heat gun.

So, if you’re following along closely, the scene is this: one not-so-smart middle-aged man, standing in a sea of plastic tarps in the ruins of his living room, swearing at a dripping shower of honey from his living room ceiling directly over his head, holding a scorching hot heat gun (covered in honey) in one hand and a hot metal scraper (covered in honey) in his other hand.  Middle-aged moron is also covered in honey, which is now boiling (yes, boiling) on the heat gun and scraper, running down his gloves and onto his bare arms, down his forehead, through his hair, inside his t-shirt, down the outside of his pants, and all over his shoes. 

I should point out that, while the initial destruction of the ceiling and removal of the honeycombs by the exterminator gathered the audience of my daughters, this clean-up process quickly became a lonely, one-moron job.  Whereas everyone wanted to see the bee hive and dead bees, no one — NO ONE — wanted to be around to hear me invent new colorful terms and adjectives as I narrated the cleanup experience.  Even my youngest daughter, who is pretty good about bringing me tools when needed, quickly vanished, and my wife only appeared periodically (and briefly) to make sure I didn’t seriously hurt myself.

But I digress.  The honey didn’t stay cold, or hot, but varied in temperature and behavior.  The honey on my tools and heat gun first became liquid, then began boiling (I still find the scene of looking at the honey boiling on my gloves to be endlessly fascinating) then fused into some type of substance that is brown and absolutely impossible to remove.  Honey on the walls hardened as it dripped down, so near the ceiling, it was like water… near the floor, however, it returned to a near-molasses-like state.  Honey on my arms, forehead, chest, etc. started as scalding hot, then cooled to become both glue-like and incredibly itchy.

It was at this point that I learned something new about myself: I have some sort of minor skin allergy to — you guessed it — honey.  I broke out in hives in all sorts of strange places, including my chest and back, where the honey had dripped down either under or through my shirt.  This whole discovery was made more disgusting by the fact that, when I say “honey,” I’m again talking about honey mixed with bee heads, legs, guts, etc… which all immediately fused to my skin and clothes.

When a not-so-smart person is covered in such a disgusting mess, the process really comes down to a simple choice: to proceed, or to quit.  I decided to keep going, and this entire scene continued for another hour or two as I pulled large amounts of honeycomb, dead bees and honey out of my ceiling and walls.  Another lesson I learned during this phase was to be careful about how much to talk/curse and how important breathing through one’s nose is in a situation of this sort.  Having a large, hot blob of honey/guts drip into your mouth was embarrassing, unpleasant, and brought my wife to the room to wonder why I kept spitting down my own living room wall.  She left quickly, trying (unsuccessfully) not to laugh.

It was about this time that I saw your jokes, and while I’m always grateful for humor and friendship, I was admittedly in a poor position to fully appreciate them.  I spent a lot of time cleaning, first the ceiling and walls, then the floors, then my shoes, then the ladder and tools, etc, etc. etc.  My clothes were in a terrible condition… in fact, the shirt was a total loss, and was thrown out with the plastic and other beehive-related waste.  Cleaning the baked-on honey from my eyeglasses took a long, long time, and my tools and ladder may never fully be rid of it.   

In the end, I was tired, scalded, disgusted, itchy, crabby and generally in no condition to converse with anyone, however sympathetic they may have been to my situation.  Most importantly, I had shed any semblance of dignity, decency and modesty, and decided — without guilt — to leave my honey/guts-covered pants in the downstairs laundry.  This necessitated my walking through the house in only my underwear and socks, which isn’t something I do very often, especially at 4:00PM in the afternoon. 

My wife, who knows me better than anyone, elected to not comment on my lack of clothing nor the bee guts stuck to my hair, forehead, body, etc.  Not so my daughter, who, with considerable amusement, asked aloud, “Why is Dad walking around in his UNDERWEAR?!?!?!?”   I chose to ignore the question and proceeded to pour myself a cup of coffee, too tired and bitter to care.  Eventually, I moved off in my underwear-socks ensemble to take what would be a long, hot shower.  Even with the shower, my arms continued to stick to my shirt sleeves for the next couple of days.  In one of the final lessons of this cleanup odyssey, I’ve learned that honey is almost as tough to get off of one’s skin as it is to get off of walls, tools, etc.

So… after all that, I wanted you to know that I appreciate your sense of humor and the jokes you sent.  And, per our agreement, since your jokes were so corny, when my wife and I eventually visit Huddersfield, I get a free order of bangers and mash with a pint of Black Sheep ale.  In return, I’ll bring you and Rebecca a nice jug of American honey.

And I promise, I won’t open that honey before we visit.  Trust me.

Always,

Keith

A Guide For Parking-Challenged Drivers


by Keith Yancy

Today, I got a front-row seat for 10 minutes as I sat trapped in my car by another driver desperately trying (and trying, and trying) to park next to me.

I had just pulled in to my parking space, and was getting ready to get out and take my daughter to an appointment.  Both of us were on the verge of opening our driver’s side doors (mine in front, hers in back) when a middle-aged woman pulled behind me and began to attempt to back into the empty parking spot next to my car.

So, we waited. 

Despite the fact that there were at least six other parking spots in this small lot, and only two other cars were there, and there was little to no other traffic around, this driver simply HAD to back into the spot next to me, presumably to make it either easier to pull out later or because she needed to make a fast getaway.

And, we waited.

In her defense, she didn’t seem to realize there were people waiting for her (us) to get out of the car.  So, reverse lights ablaze, she began her excruciatingly slow process of backing in.  She looked around (a good thing), and on she creeped, slowly, agonizingly, toward the empty parking space.   Watching this small car back in to this empty space was like watching a spaceship trying to dock at the International Space Station, only with more risk of failure.

And, we waited.

The first attempt (yes, there was more than one) began okay, but she then proceeded to “panic brake” every 6-12 inches for several feet before she stopped, considered her options, then pulled forward to try again.  Her second attempt was the same, marked by the same staccato-like rhythm as she navigated her sedan about half-way into the spot.  Not content with this second effort, she again pulled forward about 3 feet and repeated her trajectory (punctuated again by about 4 bone-jarring stops) before she decided that, after yet another pause, this was going as good as it was going to go, and kept backing in.

And… well, you get it.

Slowly, relentlessly, she inched her way into the parking space, until — at last — she pulled even with my driver-side window, where I sat watching her mind-numbingly slow parking maneuvers in pained fascination.

Based on her shocked and surprised reaction as she looked at me, I can only assume the following:

  1. She didn’t expect to see anyone in the car,
  2. I’m visually unpleasant,
  3. My expression was a mixture of impatience, amusement and curiosity, or
  4. A pretty even mixture of 1-3 above (my choice for a correct answer).

Anyhow, her notice of my watching her resulted in yet ANOTHER panic brake stop while she gathered herself, then she took another 30 seconds to back up 6 more inches before she decided to bring The Great Parking Saga to a close.  In retrospect, this final maneuver must have been more difficult with the unmistakable heavy air of self-consciousness hanging between us, but since we both knew that her pulling out again would be even more awkward, she kept going.

Honestly, I did my best not to show anger, annoyance, frustration; in fact, I tried to not show any emotion whatsoever, because I didn’t want to offend this woman.  Getting at last out of my car, I walked my daughter into the building for her appointment.  As I walked back to my car, however, I realized that, after all the false starts and jolting stops that marked her parking experience, she had parked her car at a severe angle within the parking space.  Because there was virtually no other cars within 30 feet of our two vehicles, and I had arrived first and pulled in “front-forward,” I had parked pretty much straight between the lines.  Her car, on the other hand, was about 3 feet away from the front of my car, and about 1 foot away from the rear of my car — which made it even more embarrassing as I had to “squeeze” between the cars to get back to my driver’s side door.  

She still sat there, looking straight ahead at nothing in particular, both of us grateful for the lack of eye contact.  What she was waiting for was anyone’s guess (perhaps she was resting), but she worked pretty damn hard to get where she was, and it was clear she wasn’t going anywhere.

I was, though.  I pulled out (it took maybe 4 seconds), and as I left, she still sat there looking straight ahead, not moving.  She may still be sitting there — after all, when you work that hard to get your vehicle parked, you don’t want to leave and waste all that effort.

Which leads me to this question: is backing out of a parking spot in an empty lot THAT hard?

I think the following guide should be used by those drivers who desperately want to back in to a parking spot, yet seem to lack the skills and/or courage to do so.

KEITH’S UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO PARKING

  1. If the parking lot is not busy, pull in — you won’t hit anything backing out later.
  2. If you aren’t very good at reverse parking, pull in — it’s easier to back out than back in for people like you.
  3. If you aren’t in a hurry, or driving the getaway car in a robbery, pull in — you aren’t saving much time anyway.
  4. If other drivers make you nervous, or you don’t like people watching you drive, pull in — because nothing attracts attention like someone who makes multiple, nausea-inducing attempts to back a small car into a large parking space.  In a nearly empty parking lot.  In broad daylight.
  5. If backing in to a parking spot requires more than two attempts or takes longer than 4 minutes, pull in – life is too short to add this kind of stress to your day.

___________________________________

There’s a line from an old Clint Eastwood movie — I can’t remember which one — in which Clint says, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  That goes for men and women, young and old… if you aren’t good at backing into a parking space, please, please, PLEASE: stop.  Admit you can’t do it, and re-discover how easy it is to pull into a parking spot and back out when you leave.  We’ll all be a lot happier.

Until next time… :)

I never thought these boots would last a quarter century…


Image

by Keith Yancy

A few days ago, I decided to do some yardwork, and since I knew the ground was still damp, I decided to put on my work boots.  I got them out, and decided — based on a father’s instincts — to turn them upside down first to see if anything were inside them.  (Don’t ask me why I’ve developed this habit.  Trust me — it’s justified.)

One boot contained an impressively large collection of twigs and sticks, which rained down onto the floor and made yet another mess to pick up.  The other boot housed a bracelet made out of Scrabble tiles, which I later discovered had been missing for “months and months.”  These sorts of discoveries cause me to have the same sort of resigned shoulder shrug as Ralphie’s dad in “A Christmas Story,” when he discovers his son Randy hiding in a cupboard under the kitchen sink.  No, I don’t know why that stuff was in my gross, nasty old work boots, but I’m too apathetic to try to figure such domestic mysteries out anymore.

Anyhow, I put the boots on, did my work, and took them off later.  As I was going to put them away, though, it occurred to me that these boots were pretty old.  In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these old boots were among the oldest items in my wardrobe.  I finally realized that these boots were older than my daughters (one of which is 17), and even older than my marriage (20 years). 

Incredibly, these boots are, by my guess, almost 25 years old.  That, my friends, is a great investment.

Now, that’s admittedly a great example of how cheap I am, too.  I just never really felt like I needed new work boots.  Even when the insulated lining succombed to dry rot and crumbled into dust, I just vacuumed out the dust and insulation out and put them back in the closet.  When the left sole cracked in half, I tested them to see if the crack let in water, and when it didn’t, I put them back in the closet again.  Nope, these boots — which I purchased for about $18 at Kmart — just never seemed quite worn out-enough to throw away. 

I’ve shovelled snow in them.  Took my kids sledding and fishing in them.  Stepped in dog poop (many times) in them.  Killed bees, mowed lawns, assembled playground equipment, planted trees, remodeled a basement, even almost got electrocuted in them (a long and stupid story for another time).  I’ve spilled chemicals on them, dripped wood stain, paint (and blood) on them, had spray foam insulation, Krazy Glue and metal filings stuck to them, and through it all, they’ve held up for a quarter century.

They’ve outlasted two houses (we’re in our third house now), about a dozen “moving parties,” 8-9 different cars (I’m too lazy to remember them all), a couple of friends’ marriages, 5-6 American Presidents, and, because I live in Detroit, countless political scandals and exactly ZERO World Series or Superbowl championships.  They were around when I got married, had three kids and one open-heart surgery.  They outlasted two cats, several goldfish, one turtle, half-a-dozen uninvited mice, and a squirrel who hid in my basement for several weeks.  They saw me start a 21-year stint at my former employer, and were there when it ended.

So, these silly, beat-up boots may look shot, but I’m keeping them around.  In fact, they’re staying until they literally fall apart (or, at this point, disintegrate). 

By the way… they were originally branded as Texas Steer work boots.  I don’t know if they were American made, but I hope so.  Because they were a pretty damn good investment, in my opinion.

Until next time… :)

Man vs. Beehive — An April 1 Showdown


by Keith Yancy

April 1, 2012

I have a beehive. 

In fact, I have a very, very large beehive, somewhere within the wall of my living room inside my house.  I’ve been trying to get rid of these uninvited pests for almost three years.  The fact that they’re honeybees compounds the problem, because people generally feel sorry for them (they’re dying due to pesticides) and when I bring up the topic to friends and relatives, I suspect they not-so-secretly think I’m cruel for trying to get rid of them.

I think it’s important to point out that I have nothing against honeybees.  They have never been aggressive, and I appreciate all the bee-related jobs they do.  I just don’t want them in my house, where — in the few quiet moments that occur in a house with three kids — I can hear them through the living room wall.   That, and the fact that they occasionally swarm outside the hive, creating an impressive but massive cloud of bees that even neighbors have stopped to marvel at.

Today, I decided to make a new attempt to get rid of them.  In the past, I’ve tried hiring a beekeeper (none would come to Plymouth due to distance) or poisoning them (both myself and with an exterminator), but nothing worked.  Bees by the thousands, coming and going via a hole in my exterior trim work.  But today, I decided on an entirely new strategy — getting them out by going through the wall in my living room.

It started well.

I began by drilling a 1-1/2-inch hole in the drywall where the hive is located, and immediately stuck a shop-vac nozzle into the hole.  Rather than vacuum them, however, I felt it would be a better idea to start by blowing air into the hive to get them sufficiently active.  This, by my thinking, would help me both blow out some of the bees from the hive, and potentially drive the queen out of hiding — something I’d been trying to do (unsuccessfully) for three years.

So, I blasted this massive beehive with air for a few minutes.  Nothing happened, at least as far as I could make out.  No huge massive cloud of bees left the hive, at any rate.  Eventually, I grew tired of this, so I quickly changed the shop-vac direction to vacuum them out.  This resulted in immediate progress.  I soon found myself with a 16-gallon shop-vac absolutely FULL of angry, swarming bees. 

Once I decided that I’d vacuumed up all the bees, I blocked off the hole, turned off the vacuum, and decided that, for the safety of everyone involved, I’d take the vacuum outside so that there wouldn’t be any stray bees flying around inside my house.  This was nerve-wracking… the vacuum was literally shaking with thousands of angry, vacuumed bees trying to get out to attack.  Anyway, I took the shop-vac outside onto the front lawn.

That’s where my plan began to fall apart.

Because the shop-vac was bulky, heavy and shaking, I somehow put it down on the lawn a bit too roughly, and the top promptly came off.  Not just a little — the top, almost in slow motion — first popped loose, and then inexorably slid off, just as I was trying to let go of each of the side handles.  I suddenly found my face, in fact my entire head, about 4 inches away from several thousand swarming, confused, angry bees.

Any hope that the bees would somehow leave me alone was immediately abandoned.  They came straight for me as I dropped the vacuum and started running.  I can still recall the shrieks of my wife and kids (safely in the house) when they saw what was happening.  Rather than risk getting them stung by trying to immediately run into the front door, however, I sadly thought that I could outrun them.

There’s something quite pathetic about seeing a man running around his own home, waving his arms wildly in the air and shouting, while a large swarming cloud of bees remains somehow perpetually buzzing and swarming all around him.  I was about 20 feet into my failing escape when the bees decided that the yellow gym shorts I was wearing was a good stinging target, and proceeded to take turns stinging me in my behind.  They were not patient nor polite about this, and immediately commenced with stinging my backside multiple times at once. 

I yelled some more as I rounded the garage and headed for the backyard, but they were having no trouble both keeping up with me and stinging me at the same time.  The very air around me was vibrating with their anger.  I remember making it to the backyard deck and going up the stairs, shouting and getting stung every step of the way… and then discovering that the first glass doorwall I tried to open was, tragically, locked. 

I did not stop to reflect on this disappointment.  Instead, I moved to the second doorwall and found it open.  I rushed in, closed the door, and killed off the few bees who chose to follow me inside, as my kids shouted and ran for safer parts of the house.  As I began to take stock of the number of stings I’d collected on my backside, I watched with a new respect as a massive cloud of bees swarmed with fury outside my glass doors, desperately wanting to continue their attack.  It might have been my imagination, but I think some wasps and hornets joined in just for spite.

That was three hours ago.  The current situation is as follows:

  1. The bees have now returned to their hive, inside my wall, angry but otherwise unfazed.
  2. I have a hole in my wall, an empty shop-vac laying on my front lawn, and a pretty large collection of dead bees smashed in various areas of my kitchen.
  3. My family refuses to enter the living room, because of the hole in the wall (which is still temporarily blocked).
  4. My behind has too many bee stings to count.  No, I’m not allergic to bee stings.

In other words, the bees are just fine, while me, my house and my vacuum look like we just lost a battle.  Because we did.

Just in the past 15 minutes, I’ve been contacted by the Distinguished Union of Hivemasters — Wasps, Hornets and Yellow Jackets division (DUH-WHY) regarding opportunities to star in their “How Not-To” series.  As I contemplate this new business opportunity while remove stingers with a mirror and tweezers, I’m thinking about leaving the house to the bees… and maybe the vacuum, too.

Happy April Fools Day.

Until next time… :)

7 Ways To Lose Weight Through Inner Conflict


by Keith Yancy

Losing weight.  Seems like, for every cooking show, cook book, and 2,000-calorie recipe being shared on Pinterest, there’s a weight loss book or fad that springs up to deal with the consequences of eating all that stuff.  You can try a diet (Adkins, Caveman, etc), join a weight loss group (Weight Watchers is one of many), have surgery (i.e., lap bands, liposuction), exercise (alone or at a gym) or a combination of any/all of these.  Any can work, most don’t, because — if you’re like me — it’s the commitment and willpower you bring to the process that makes the difference, and mine usually comes up short. 

Until now.

This past Christmas, I weighed a doughy 210 pounds.  Flabby.  Lethargic.  Dreaming not of the holidays or snow, but whether I could grab a two-pack of Ding Dongs at the Speedway when I filled up my gas tank.  Plotting how I could stop in at Wendy’s for a large size Double Cheeseburger Combo, complete with the mandatory large-sized Frosty.  In short, I was a slug, with a silhouette that looked more like a bowling pin than a 40-something year-old man.

After hitting 210 (I’m a bit over 6 feet tall), I decided I’d had enough.  I had to lose some weight.  But none of the traditional paths seemed very promising.  They were either too public (see “groups” above), too tiring (exercise in its myriad forms) or just too inconvenient/expensive/time consuming (everything else). 

And that’s when I decided to avoid the usual methods of weight loss, and just rely simply on stoking my inner conflict — my mind vs. my body.

Unlike some people, I don’t do well with most of the ultra-positive, “love yourself” approaches to weight loss.  That’s because I too often use food as a reward — being “nice to myself” was usually followed by “with ice cream.”  Losing weight, for me, is more like an internal battle between my mind (which wants to lose weight) and my body (which definitely, decidedly does not).  It’s not about wanting to be “rail thin,” or having a negative body image, or any of the other potentially dangerous mental traps people can sometimes fall into while losing weight.  In my personal case, this is entirely about willpower, self-denial of unhealthy foods, and reducing “large portion” meals. 

Obviously, having a stubborn streak comes in handy for me.

So, while it’s not the most traditional or recommended way to lose weight, I’ve developed a few habits — inspired by my “mind vs. body” internal battle — that have helped me make progress. 

7 Ways to Leverage Inner Conflict to Lose Weight

  1. Embrace eating food you don’t like.  Fruits.  Vegetables.  More fruits.  Simply put, I love unhealthy food, and eating healthy fruits and vegetables is my mind’s way of fighting my body’s food cravings. 
  2. Embrace your inner guilt complex.  Yes, the Twinkies eaten when no one’s around are still fattening, and should inspire extreme guilt and regret if eaten.  This is to be nurtured.  Eventually, you’ll feel so guilty about eating bad stuff that you’ll learn to avoid it in the same way kids avoid cleaning their room.  HINT: the longer you successfully do this, the easier it becomes to sustain — why ruin progress?
  3. Become a food snob.  Assume that, if it’s not a fruit, vegetable, or a food your healthier spouse would approve of, it’s probably fattening.  My wife is very good about reading labels and understanding what is/is not healthy.  Her reminders, while making my body extremely grouchy, are a source of strength for my mind and willpower.   It’s almost like having a dietary “referee” who steps in when the body gets an edge on my mind, and tilts the inner conflict battle back in my mind’s favor.   
  4. Eat less — a lot less.  Being hungry is irritating.  But I’ve been surprised at how much less food fills me up these days than before.  I never used to take home food from a restaurant, and now I usually do (and try to do so to keep from overeating).  Of course, my inner conflict method has my mind “cheating” my body from a complete meal, much to my body’s irritation.  Eating less, together with the inner guilt complex, can really help the pounds come off. 
  5. Become a workaholic.  Lunch hour is a big fat trap.  Fill this time with nine parts work and one part fruit, instead of going to eat fast food with a bunch of annoying, already-thin-and-can-eat-whatever-they-want-without-consequences friends.  Your body might be mad at your mind for the rest of the day, but it’ll make you more productive and help you avoid frenemies tempting you with “all you can eat” buffets. 
  6. Choose better snacks.  Generally, I avoid sweets, and stick with a few pretzels (if my mind and body are in cease-fire mode) or carrots (if the mind/body conflict battle is raging).  Regardless, I try to keep snacks to an absolute minimum.
  7. Resist the urge to “give yourself a break.”  For an inwardly conflicted person like me, this is my body trying to wheedle permission to eat some fattening foods.  When my body tells me I deserve a reward (read: unhealthy food choices), my mind goes on high alert, and the willpower and stubbornness kick in.  Reward?  Have a grape.  Two grapes, if I’ve earned a promotion, or won the lottery, or done something heroic.

I suspect people will tell me that “you’ll gain all that weight back.”  We’ll see.  That’s the best part of the “internal conflict” diet approach: it seems to reflect a natural inclination to be argumentative.  So, the more people who predict a weight gain, the more likely I am to want to prove them wrong. 

As of today, it’s now March 17 (almost 3 months since Christmas), and I now weigh 191 pounds.  19 pounds lost.  And no, I’m not satisfied yet.  175 pounds by June 1 is my target goal, based on my physique and comfort level. 

Of course, some might say that this is really just “will power,” or “self-discipline,” or “healthier eating habits.”  But without my personal battle between mind and body — that old inner conflict — I probably wouldn’t have come this far. 

Yes, it may be dysfunctional… but it works for a stubborn person like me.

Until next time… :)

Be sure to check out my blog at
http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/blog/counterpoint_358673/
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