Toy Week: The Truth Hurts

Toy Week: The Truth Hurts

I’ve been a best man several times.

Because of that frequency, I developed a sort of signature bachelor party that involved going to the beach for a bonfire and attacking the groom-to-be with water balloons if he failed to correctly answer questions about his soon-to-be bride.

When I was engaged, my best men (I had two) threw a similar celebration/hazing for me, quizzing me on facts they’d learned via an interview with my fiancee. The emcee equipped the other guys with ammunition, made me stand a certain length away, and then began reading by firelight.

The first question: What was her favorite childhood toy?

I paused for just a moment, then replied: “It was, uh, this stuffed dragon.”

My tongue had hardly left the roof of my mouth to make the final “n” when I heard a rush of air. A water balloon less arced than rocketed into my crotch, where it failed to pop. It was just a solid projectile smacking me in the groin.

There was silence as I doubled over. But still I looked up and maintained eye contact with the emcee. The other guys, all in a line, held their water balloons—the attacker was obvious due to his empty hands. Even the nearby breakers seemed to pause as everyone waited for the judge’s verdict.

A pallet cracked as it was consumed by flames.

“Actually,” the host said, “he’s, uh, he’s right.”

I tried to plead some sort of penalty for the offender—I can’t be bruised and battered like that for the honeymoon, I argued—but nobody cared. They weren’t there to be impressed by my knowledge of my future wife. They were there to pummel me.

Since I have three children, I obviously recovered. And since that was almost a decade ago, I’ll make a confession here: Before my bachelor party began, my fiancee told me—just in case anyone happened to ask—about her favorite childhood toy. So maybe I cheated. A little.

My best friends in the world might not have cared about the condition of my guy parts, but I care about theirs. That’s one of the reasons I’m participating in Movember, which aims to combat testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and negative mental health issues.

You hear that, J.I.? I hope your testicles are doing well.

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Fight Week: Freaky Friday: Waaaay Too Close

Health Week: Freaky Friday: Waaaay Too Close

Well, my post about Man Cards went up on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page this morning, and there are now a lot of new people wading around in the Shallows.

A note to new visitors: Please keep your hands where we can’t see them.

I forewent the usual creepy quote from my kids (OK, the scary stuff all comes from my firstborn) today because the freakiest thing about this Friday is that there’s a whole mess of people reading about and commenting on an opinion of mine regarding the nature of masculinity.

And then, in theory, these same people are perhaps browsing around and learning my daily underwear selection process.

One of the weirdest things about writing is that it’s such a personal, solitary pursuit, but it’s frequently—not always—intended for a wider audience of readers. The idea is to make a connection and maybe spur someone to action, whether that’s prompting them to reconsider gender-based stereotypes, help fight prostate and testicular cancer (I know you’ve seen my moustache, but have you seen my Movember page?), or choose Batman-themed boxer-briefs over plain, white jockey shorts.

Words, to me, are about connections, and my hope is that this blog would be a conversation, not a monologue. To all who’ve been reading since I started and to the folks who’ve just dropped in for a quick look, thanks for sharing this freaky Friday—and your words—with me.

P.S.—I’m also taking weekly theme suggestions.

Health Week: Breakfast

Health Week: Breakfast

My wife made pumpkin spice pancakes for breakfast this morning, and I ate 10 of them. With butter and syrup. I don’t know if I’m pleased to say that or if I regret it.

As I put a cap on Health Week, I felt it important to mention that, in addition to Movember, October is also American Diabetes Month. While my moustachioed face is meant to raise awareness of and money to fight prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues, I figured I could also mention a disease that almost 26 million people in the United States—adults and children—deal with, and another 79 million or so are at risk of developing.

I’m certainly not an active or especially healthy guy. I used to be: walking everywhere, playing Ultimate a couple of times a week, eating OK. But then I got a desk job and married a woman who, as you can see, cooks stuff. Good stuff. Great stuff.

My gut is certainly not her fault. I tend to eat quickly, so I’m full far before I actually feel full, meaning the “maybe I should stop now” feeling kicks in sometime around seconds or so. Plus, I’ve never been a team sports guy, and I tend to spend the time I could be running or enjoying some other sort of exercise reading or writing.

So I’d like to be more active. Wife, when you read this, hold me to it. You all hold me to it, too, if you don’t mind.

And even though I’m prepping to move on to a new theme (I take suggestions, by the way) for next week, I’ll keep talking about Movember throughout the rest of the month.

And I might just have carrots for dinner.

To the Rescue

To the Rescue

My son has two middle names.

One is Atticus, because we like the old-fashioned sound and Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird is an awesome guy.

The other is Michael, because it’s a family name, and my wife’s uncle was an awesome guy. More than that, he was a hero.

Mike McGroarty worked for many years for the La Habra Fire Department, ending his time there with a seven-year stint as chief. Then he moved on to become deputy chief of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He also helped lead the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, which sends animals into dangerous situations to seek out people in need of rescue.

Through his work, Uncle Mike saw things no person should ever have to see, but for him, it was just part of the job. He fought on the side of life, whether his opponent was destruction left by an earthquake or hurricane or rubble caused by an act of terror. He worked to rescue victims of the Oklahoma City Federal Building Bombing, and he coordinated California’s rescue efforts in New York after Sept. 11, 2001.

After he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he continued to fight on the side of life, though this time that life was his own. Despite harboring a disease that constantly sought to break him down, he pushed for positive progress, and he maintained an attitude of success.

He died on June 7, 2010, never once backing down from his battle.

When my wife and I found out we were having a third baby, she confidently told me it was a boy (we didn’t know for sure until he arrived), and then, with realization dawning on her face, said his middle name would be Michael. (Atticus had been a contender for a first name that we ultimately didn’t choose, but the girls wouldn’t stop calling their baby brother by that one, so we tacked it on, too.)

Even though I felt in my gut that we were having a third girl, I agreed with her.

Now, I can’t wait for my son to get to an age where I can tell him about Uncle Mike, and show him photos, because here’s the other thing: Uncle Mike grew and maintained an amazing moustache. A handlebar moustache. A big moustache with waxed points that curled up at the ends.

I can’t think of a better Movember inspiration, since the month is all about growing moustaches and fighting prostate cancer. It’s like the effort was started with him in mind.

If you want to join me, Uncle Mike, my (clean-faced 1-year-old) son, and an amazing number of men and women around the country and world in raising awareness of and combating prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues—if you want to join us in fighting on the side of life—visit my Movember page and consider leaving a comment or making a donation.

You can also tell me about the heroes in your life, because I know you have them.

Health Week: Day 5

Health Week: Day 5

It’s time to get serious about my Movember moustache.

I considered giving shaping-idea rights to folks who donated to the cause via my “Mo-Space” (yes, that’s what they call it), but instead I decided to open it up to anyone and everyone. Anyone and everyone who reads my blog, that is.

My current front-runner idea is shaving the Batman logo into my upper lip, with help from the soul patch below. I can’t connect anything, according to official Movember rules, because a connection would make it a goatee, and this isn’t Goavember.

Like that idea? Have a different one? Let me know, and I promise I’ll consider each suggestion. But make it soon, since I need to take this stubble from an on-the-way full beard to a moustache in progress pronto.

But for now, Batman seems like the best option. Who better than a superhero to help fight testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and mental health issues? (Hint: The answer is you and me.)

Fright Week: Back Up, Mr. DeMille

Fright Week: Back Up, Mr. DeMille

I was up late last night playing Dungeons and Dragons (I’m just a level 2 bard, so don’t think I’m all hardcore or anything), so I decided to sleep in this morning.

Except, of course, I didn’t clear that with my son, who woke up at 6 and didn’t believe my wife and me when we told him it was still the middle of the night. It was dark out, so we thought we had a shot.

As the day brightened and the sun eventually came up, I realized that I neglected to post a pic of my freshly shaven face yesterday, the first of November/Movember. So here it is, freakishly close, to preserve some of the mystique of what I actually look like when I’m not a dimorphic-eyed doodle (for those of you who don’t know).

Wife, if you’re reading this, you can pretend I’m coming in for a kiss. Enjoy it while you can, as the stubble’s about to get painful.

Fright Week: Freaky Friday: A Close Shave

Fright Week: Freaky Friday: A Close Shave

I don’t like to be clean shaven.

I also don’t like to walk around with just one style of facial hair for too long.

So I’ll cycle through a full beard, then a goatee, then a moustache, then all-over stubble, then whatever. My facial hair grows pretty quickly, so I don’t have to wait long for a new look.

But even a short wait with a bare face makes me uncomfortable—and not just because I need something there to define my jawline. Fluctuating facial hair is a big part of who I am. I deliberate over what to do with my razor almost as much as I do in choosing my underwear.

I’m rarely ever without sideburns or a soul patch at the very least. (I’m rarely ever without underwear, either. Rarely.)

So to be clean shaven on Nov. 1 is no small deal. I’ve watched other guys participate in Movember before, and I’ve always wanted to join in, mostly for the unspoken camaraderie, the connection built by a commonality: in this case, moustaches.

If you don’t know, Movember is a means of raising awareness of—and money for—men’s health, primarily when it comes to prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental issues. The organized effort encourages men to grow a moustache (there are rules for the parts of the face to which it can and can’t spread) throughout November, making for an increasingly obvious facial statement that will hopefully prompt questions of the “Why would you ever willfully decide to wear a moustache?” variety. Then we can answer, “Well, I’m glad you asked.” And then we can talk about prostates, and why they’re awesome, and why everybody who wants a functioning and healthy one should have a functioning and healthy one.

Participants can also garner pledges, like my kids recently did (in theory) for a jog-a-thon at their school. Oops.

Despite the fact that I recently sold a car of ours that we no longer needed, I am not a salesperson. Money makes me uncomfortable, mostly because I don’t understand it. So I’m not going to do a huge pitch to get you to put up cash in exchange for me doing something I frequently do anyway. If you want to, though, that’s great. You can check out my Movember page, where you’ll find plenty of details.

Since I’m new to this dad blogging thing—though I don’t really feel like a dad blogger, per se—I also recently joined a dad bloggers group called “Dad Bloggers.” They’ve got a Movember team going (called “Dads/Bloggers”), and I just sort of invited myself to join. Actually, they put out a call for participants, but I still fell like I sort of snuck in.

My surreptitious decision hasn’t been great for my face, however, since I just shaved everything off less than a week ago for the sake of my Halloween costume: the magic mirror from Disney’s Snow White. I’ve got a healthy layer of stubble going now as I write this at 11:15 on Halloween night, but I’m anticipating pain tomorrow morning (this morning, as this post goes live—like time-travel magic!) when I scrape it all off my face again, just six days later.

There will be blood, I’m sure, which is the tangential reference to today’s Freaky Friday doodle. My 6-year-old likes blood. If I remember correctly, she said this while drawing someone bleeding, and apparently needed to focus intently as she eroded her red crayon down to nothing.

I’ll be posting about my moustache progress throughout the month, and next week’s theme will likely be devoted to Movember and/or facial hair and/or men’s health on the whole, but to get an early jump-start on that, allow me to ask: What do you think of facial hair? How about moustaches in particular?