Late Week: Freaky Friday

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Freaky Friday on a Saturday? It’s Late Week! Anything goes!

Actually, I had most of this post prepared a full day in advance, and I still managed to fall asleep without finishing it Friday night. But this week’s theme is a forgiving one. So I’m declaring this a Late Week miracle!

Now, onto the actual content:

My wife was heading out to run some evening errands couple of days ago, and my 4-year-old was, for some reason, freaking out about the departure: clinging to her mom’s leg, crying, refusing to answer our questions as to why she was so upset. She’s only blubber that she didn’t want Mom to leave.

Before we just pried her off and let her scream—my wife had presents to buy, after all, probably for me!—we tried making my daughter laugh. Nope. She chuckled a bit at my attempts, and then went right back to her paranoid sobbing. We tried reasoning with her. And then I decided to throw her into the middle of a game. I figured that if she suddenly thought she could win—that elusive and undefinable yet desperately desirable state of success my daughters yearn for, whether they’re on their way up the stairs to brush their teeth for bed and decide to start racing or are comparing the juice I poured them into different-shaped glasses to see who got more—she’d forget whatever was bothering her.

“I bet you can’t catch me!” I said, and I darted a bit, as if I were about to run off.

My 6-year-old caught on immediately and tried to help, employing what sounded like some reverse psychology of her own:

“Dad’s a thief! He wants to catch you, kill you, and eat you!” she shouted. “Want to chase him?”

In retrospect, and looking at it actually written down, it seems fairly innocuous. I play all sorts of games where I’m a lion ready to pounce on the girls, or a monster coming to chomp them, or something similar. So I guess the death is implied.

But I never come right out and say it. There’s a difference between sending your kids scurrying by shouting “I’m going to get you!” and “I’m going to kill you!”

I do have a somewhat dark game I break out when the girls are pretending they’re asleep. Sometimes they’ll fake it in the backseat of the van, squeezing their eyes shut and keeping rigidly stoic faces as I unbuckle them and toss them over my shoulder to carry inside. At times like that, I’ll stage whisper to my wife: “Since the kids are asleep, I can tell you this: They seem to be getting to just about the perfect size for eating. Remember: Never let them know!” Then I act all surprised when they sit up and accuse me of wanting to cook them.

Anyway, my 4-year-old wasn’t terrified or anything by her sister’s shout, but it didn’t help either. My wife and I exchanged eyebrow raises, and then we did the prying.

My girl was fine for the rest of the night. Mostly.

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Late Week: Wishes Come True

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Every year around Christmastime, one of the newspapers I edit runs a nonprofit wish list as a cover story. We invite local charities and similar organizations to submit their wants and needs, and we present those requests to the community. We tend to give each annual issue a unique theme: One year we featured photos of kids in elf costumes around the city; one year we illustrated it all with snowflake art; etc.

This year, our managing editor suggested focusing more on the “wish” idea and going with genies. I quickly doodled one, and the rest of the crew liked it and suggested I provide the art for the story.

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Our lead designer digitally colored my black-and-white drawings, which turned out well, I think, in an outsider art sort of way.

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As you can see from this final genie in the quartet, I still can’t draw hands. This guy’s making a really awkward pose, but at least he’s trying to look helpful.

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Late Week: Worry Wednesday

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My goal to post each day—except maybe Sundays—on this blog was tested when I realized that starting a post at 11:47 p.m. is a bit late, even for a week themed on being less than punctual.

Fortunately, I have no shortage of stuff to worry about, so it’s easy for me to pull something off the top of my head. Let’s see … hmmm … yep: meningitis.

Several college students at a college in a nearby county came down with meningitis a few weeks back, and a college student in my town developed a case of it even more recently. I can’t remember which is worse, and which is communicable despite the vaccine—bacterial or viral—but none of that matters to a worrying mind such as mine. I’ve already established that I can quickly go to some dark and medically impossible scenarios with very little provocation, such as my kid sipping a soda she found.

I was recently struck by the realization that this health-based worrying came to me late in life. Late in my life, I mean. I’m 34, but the germaphobia started a little more than six years ago, which—coincidentally?—is when I was just getting to know our newborn daughter.

The world wasn’t so scary to me when I was a kid, a college student, a young working professional, even a newlywed.

Having kids, though, changed me into something new—something paranoid and freaked out by even trivial stuff. So when one of my kids gets a runny nose and a slight cough, forget that the others have been sick, too, for days, and are getting better. It must be meningitis.

Of course, somewhere deep inside, I know I’m overreacting. I wouldn’t be able to survive otherwise.

But the girls do have strep throat right now. So there’s that.

Late Week: White Christmas

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This whole season has felt … delayed. Here it is Dec. 17, and my wife and I only just had our annual White Christmas viewing last night.

That movie never gets old. I love it—though the song “Snow” has always been an odd one to me. The four main characters suddenly start singing about how much they love snow, and all the stuff they’re going to do with and in it. Betty Haynes (played by Rosemary Clooney) twice declares she wants to wash her hair with snow.

Is that a thing? I mean, do people really wash their hair with snow? And their faces and hands, as also indicated by the song? I’ve never lived somewhere that cold, so I don’t know if it’s common to see folks bathing in the frozen outdoors. Or carting buckets of snow inside for a soak?

If you’ve never seen White Christmas, I suggest giving it a try. It’s got its cheesy moments, sure, and it’s musical—which isn’t everyone’s cup of cocoa—but it’s clever and funny and ultimately has a happy ending, which is what Advent is all about, right?

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Late Week: Remember, Remember, the Efforts of Movember

Back when I was just a fresh-faced young blogger (about two months ago), just starting out with my daily posts and preparing my face for the moustache-growing endeavor that is Movember, I learned that Just for Men hair products was looking for facial-hair-friendly bloggers willing to review the product line.

Eager to test out just how far the Shallows extended, I threw my name into the hat—and I got a response. In exchange for a review, they’d send me a bunch of free products, as well as some Movember goodies, like a T-shirt and stickers. I just had to be honest and post by mid-December. I knew I could do the former, and was reasonably certain I could do the latter. As my grandma sometimes says, “I’ll be there if the good Lord’s willing and the crick don’t rise.”

When the package arrived, I got a little worried. I had thought the Just for Men product line would include moustache waxes or similar products, but it was actually their complete line of hair coloring, from sandy blond to real black. I knew that Just for Men did hair coloring, but I figured a product line involved something more. It was my first product review, and I was already fumbling around.

I let the go-between company know that I was sorry, that I didn’t actually have any gray in my moustache—though I do have some on my temples. They were cool with the situation and encouraged me to move forward however I thought best—but to keep the coloring on my facial hair, if I chose to use it. The stuff I got is formulated especially for coarser hair (though a warning inside the box said to not use it on body hair; I didn’t ask whether Just for Men has a product line for, uh, anything below the neckline—or below that).

I decided to take my dark brown moustache to black and, time and skills permitting, attempt to shave my facial hair into the Batman logo.

But first, my brother-by-choice—who does have a little gray in his facial hair, even though he’s a year younger than me—agreed to get in on the action, too. My review is supposed to be my own, but as I’ll still be posting my own thoughts, I thought this would be an OK write-up. He and I bleached our hair together years ago when we were roommates, and we’ve given each other haircuts (buzz cuts, but still), and we shared a bathroom mirror for shaving for a few years during and after college. We’re old hats at this.

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You can see some gray just under his lip and to the right. His wife likes it, but he still wanted to give the coloring a try. The application is super easy and quick, and the package—he chose dark brown—even comes with disposable gloves. I mixed the coloring up in a little plastic tray (also included), he brushed it in, we waited five minutes, and he shampooed it out. That’s it.

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He liked how it turned out. The single application made the gray strands take less of a spotlight. I asked if he would have wanted a darker color or a second application, but he said no. After he and his wife left, I turned to my own moustache. I’d let more of a full beard grow after Movember ended, but I was ready to scale back again. I change my facial hair a lot anyway.

As you can see below (despite the weird lighting), I’ve got dark brown facial hair.

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I opened the box of real black and repeated all the steps from earlier in the evening. Easy. I was pretty liberal with the stuff, but there was still a bunch left in the tube, so I could do this a couple more times if I wanted. I waited five minutes, then hopped in the shower. While I didn’t go from brown to jet black, my moustache is noticeably darker. It’s serious. Like, this is a moustache that wants attention. I trimmed it up, and here’s the initial result:

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I like it. I had got some of the coloring on the skin around my moustache and wiped it off as best I could, but there are still some stains as I write this. I’m sure they will fade. That’s totally not something I would typically worry about.

With my moustache blackened like a Louisiana catfish, I started the fine tuning. My tools: two straight razors, a detail trimmer, and a copy of the Batman logo.

A few experimental passes with the detailer in, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The more I shaved, the more I said stuff like, “I should’ve kept that part,” and “Dang it,” and “Darn it,” and “Dagnabbit.” I really do say “Dagnabbit.” My 6-year-old has started saying it, too, in addition to “Nuts!”—which I don’t say.

I did the best I could, but the Batman logo just didn’t materialize the way I hoped it would. I took a picture anyway, which I won’t post now. I think I’ll hold onto it until the inevitable Fail Week here in the Shallows. My wife, however, thinks it’s recognizably the Batman logo—but as my wife, she’s legally required to say that.

Successful logo or no, the Movember effort was an unquestionable triumph. Friends, family, and an anonymous donor helped me to raise $375; I came in seventh on my team of 50 guys. That group, Dads/Bloggers, raised a collective $15,797. Boston, the city where our group was registered, netted $1,153,223. That’s one city’s total! The final numbers for the entire effort won’t be in until after April, but there has to be millions upon millions of dollars raised in the fight against testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and mental health issues. Thanks to everyone who supported the effort in any way.

I may reward you soon with a photo of my terrible Batman moustache. I also probably have some beard/moustache coloring in your shade, so let me know if you want to try some out. Maybe I can lob a box your way.