Tonight, Berlin learned how to do summersaults.
Hailey and I laughed hysterically as Berlin rolled head over toe all throughout the living room, giggling uncontrollably. "Oh what fun," we thought. "Surely life doesn't get better than this!" We smiled at one another. Our teeth and eyes twinkled, reflecting the warm glow of the seasonal scented candle which illuminated the room with elation and glee. Outside, a gaggle of geese took flight southward while a young boy scout troop helped an elderly man rake his yard. Nearby, eager holiday carolers prematurely, yet welcomely, sang tidings of joy to kith and kin alike. Squirrels danced in unison across a power line, with nary a worry of electrocution. Due to a drastic change of heart, the town's wealthiest man accompanied a small orphan on a tandem bicycle through the neighborhood, handing out large bundles of money and imported fruit to passers by. The heavens parted and then...
Berlin puked on my chest.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Tonight, Berlin learned how to do summersaults.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd bet my kidneys that I have the most interesting father-in-law in the world. Allow me to illustrate by way of a few select passages.
Passage One | Be My Guide
Years ago, while dating my lovely wife, I was invited on a road trip to visit her father in Durango, Colorado. Our courtship was pretty hot and heavy at this point, so this was the official "It's time to meet my father" voyage. As any married man knows, said voyage can be quite hellish on the nerves.
Determined to make an everlasting first impression, I put on a fresh pair of positivity, loaded up the car and began the 8-hour trek to the small tourist attraction. For sake of this story, we'll refer to my father-in-law as, Keith (mainly, because that is his name). Keith owns and operates a very successful outfitter business, offering city slickers the opportunity to connect with their natural selves by way of Jeep tours, river rafting, snowmobile tours, etc. This particular trip occurred right in the heart of Jeep tour season.
At nearly sundown, we pulled into main street of the quaint little town. We drove down the road slowly, searching for the motel which Keith had made arrangements for us to stay. One room, two beds (of course). Soon, we unloaded our bags and headed down to a local restaurant where we were to meet up with Keith for dinner. My nerve's nerves were nervous.
We arrived to find out Keith was running a little late, so we took our seats and politely ordered a round of waters.
Suddenly, a large, burly, calloused outdoorsmen made his way over to our table. I quickly arose to shake his hand. Mustache slightly askew, he walked right passed me and gave his daughter a big ol' hug. I lowered my hand.
HAILEY: Dad, this is Steve!
ME: Nice to mah aah meet you, sir.
KEITH: Ever driven a Jeep?
At this point, he took a seat uncomfortably close to me, pulled out a pocket notebook, and began preparing notes for me.
KEITH: I had a Jeep guide quit on me this morning, so I'm gonna need you to take a few tours tomorrow morning.
KEITH: Now, this here is Silverton. You'll need to shuttle the group over this summit, where you'll pick up the jeep.
KEITH: Once you get in the jeep, make sure everyone is buckled up. Then take them up this trail here. Now be very careful because this side of the trail drops straight off, down a few thousand feet.
I scrambled to keep up with him, making the best mental notes I could on account of his not-exactly-legible scribblings. Finally, our food arrived. Unfortunately, my appetite had been completely replaced by the fear of being responsible for the death of an entire family of 12 from Ottawa, KS.
The following morning, we were awoken by a loud knock on our motel door. I sprang out of bed (and quickly messed up the second bed to make it look like I slept in it - oh come off it, you'd all do it too) and bolted for the bathroom to hide. Hailey answered and after a few instructions we were off to get our first tour group.
Freeze it: Now remember, I was simply on a trip to visit my future father-in-law. I was not on the man's payroll, nor was I qualified or licensed to be a tour driver.
I pulled the 1986 15-passenger van up to the resort lobby, where a large family piled in. Trying my best to act the part I made some stupid comments like: "Alright now! Buckle up, cause out here in Colorado, everything's rough and tumble." and "Take a deep breath of this fresh mountain air. Ain't nothing else like it in the whole world!" I felt so dirty.
In the average vehicle, the crossing the summit would take about 30 minutes. Sadly, I was in no average vehicle. An hour and a half later, I rolled into Silverton. Having no choice, I lied through my teeth about every peak and valley we passed on the way.
SNOTTY KID: Hey guy, what's that mountain called?
ME: Oh, that one? That's good ol' Jackson's Billy Goat.
SNOTTY KID #2: No it's not, it says right here in the map that it's...
ME: Hey! Let's see what's on the radio. You guys like country?
As we pulled into town, I got a call on the radio informing me of a change in plans. Instead of the Jeep tour, I was to pick up another group and shuttle them back to Durango. I was quite relieved. I picked up another group and headed back over the pass. Nearly two hours later, I dropped them off at their motel lobby. Suddenly, the van filled up again. What's this? Oh, it looks like I'm shuttling a group back over the summit again, and nobody told me. Awesome.
Two more hours. Another Jackson's Billy Goat.
Once in Silverton, I was informed (yet again) that I'd be shuttling another group back. Now, at this point, I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't in the least bit irritated. But, in the spirit of trying to win my bride, I responded, "Alrighty sir, captain sir! Full speed ahead on that one. Roger, Roger." Man, I sucked. A few minutes into the drive, I received word that another shuttle had broken down and that since my group was light, I was to pick them up along the way. What they failed to mention, however, was that this group was borderline homicidal.
I pulled up to rescue the stranded customers.
ME: Hey there folks, looks like you got a bum van eh? Heh heh.
GUY: Oh, you think this is funny? We've been stranded here for nearly an hour.
LADY: Yeah, and besides that, our Jeep tour was horrible. I can't even feel my neck!
GUY #2: Your company should be ashamed of itself. This has been the worst experience ever.
Something in me snapped.
ME: Okay, shut it! You think you've had a bad day? I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. I don't even work for this stinkin' company. No, in fact, I'm supposed to be on vacation just like all of you. My girlfriend's father owns this company and instead of me coming up here to pleasantly meet him for the first time and make a good first impression, he put me to work. So, I'd appreciate it if you'd all just can it, because, quite frankly, nobody here has had a worse day than me.
Slowly, but surely, their angst faded and the entire group busted up with laughter. Against my will, I couldn't help but join in.
GUY: So wait, you're telling me that your girlfriend's father just met you yesterday and put you to work for his company?
GUY: Oh man, that sucks. I'd sure hate to be you!
ME: Yeah, no kidding. Hey, wait.
Passage Two | One Big Comfortable Family
A little over three years ago, Hailey and I purchased our first (and current) home. It's a cozy little bungalow, perfect for a family of our size, but not very condusive to overnight guests. That certainly doesn't stop Keith.
I remember waking up one morning to the sound of a gruff voice, "Hailey, got anything to eat around here?" As I wiped the sleepy dirt from my eyes, I glanced out of our bedroom door only to see Keith standing in our living room. What's the big deal, you ask? Keith was wearing nothing save it be a very small pair of tighty whitey briefs. I kid you nay.
Adjusting the tight elastic band on his undies, he tromped around the living room until finally taking a seat on our couch. Normally, I'd prefer my guests to exhibit pants before taking residence on my furniture, but hey, that's just me.
He finished his bowl of cereal and then was on his way. Meanwhile, I purchased some Febreze.
Passage Three | The Pace Car
A few months ago I arrived home from work only to find a silver 1979 Pontiac Trans Am sitting in my driveway. Odd? Yes. Keith? Definitely.
It turned out that Keith had "scored" on an original 1979 Daytona 500 Pace Car. He got it from a guy at an unbelievable price and instinctivly drove it up to SLC so we could sell it on ebay for him. Of course the car needed a little work, so Keith took me through it, showing me all the things I needed to do.
Freeze it: Those of you who know me, know I am about as unmanly as they come. I know nothing about hunting, nothing about sports, and surely nothing about cars.
A few months went by. The car simply collected dust in our garage as I continued to avoid embarking out of my comfort zone to work on it. Finally, we decided to post it on ebay "as is."
FOR SALE: ORIGINAL 1979 DAYTONA 500 PACE CAR!
Turns out we were wrong. Had we known then what we quickly found out by way of many Trans Am connoisseurs via the interweb, we would have given it the following selling title.
FOR SALE: PLAIN OL' 1979 TRANS AM THAT SOMEBODY PUT DAYTONA 500 DECALS ON AND RIPPED KEITH OFF WITH.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Marriage has taught me many lessons.
Perhaps the most potent is something I like to refer to as "Subliminally Motivated Gift Giving." Five years ago, I was unaware such a phenomenon even existed. However, it didn't take long before I became well acquainted with it. Or I should say it became well acquainted with me.
I vividly recall our first married Christmas. We were living in a modest little one-bedroom apartment in the Avenues. Excited, I began opening a gift adorned with a loving card, "To: Steve, From: Me!" What could it be, I thought to myself. It was sort of heavy, so it might be something electronic. An ipod? A digital camera?
As I tore away the last bit of wrapping paper, my brain shimmied with confusion (Like when you see someone wearing stretch pants, when they really shouldn't be). I tried to comprehend the gift I held in my hands.
Next Christmas. As I'm digging through my carefully pre packed stocking, my hands stumble across something interesting. I retrieved the device from my stocking, only to be met with similar reaction.
Nose hair trimmer.
The following birthday. A gift was handed across the dinner table to me with a smile. I eagerly removed the wrapping paper.
Trial gym membership.
Christmas #3. A card? A card could only contain one thing - a gift certificate!
Phew, I was right. Wait a minute.
One free hour facial, including eyebrow wax.
For the record, the image of me in the above header was photoshopped for humorous effect. The only problem I have with it, is that it didn't take very long to do, at all. Sadly, only a couple minutes actually. Crud.
Besides, physical deformities are no laughing matter. Do I look like I'm laughing to you?
One of the best things about being a new parent is you can force your kids into doing socially humiliating things, leaving them none the wiser. Many parents take advantage of this during the Halloween season. Unfortunately, my wife and I are no exception to this rule. Last year, Hailey and I dressed up as Mr. and Mrs. Jolly Green Giant and Berlin was our little pea.
This year, Hailey and I were Bee Catchers and Berlin was a little bee.
Monday, October 24, 2005
This morning, I learned some interesting things about myself.
I learned that I utilize the latest technologies, market research and business strategies to meet your expectations. And more importantly, I listen and that means I find solutions that are tailored to you.
I also learned that I fashion a healthy/confused head of hair, of which I choose to part like the Red Sea. I wear perscription reading glasses and choose to let my chest breathe by way of an open (and welcoming) button-down. Besides, I'm too much of a free spirit to let the world of corporate business wear hold me down. My distinct sense of individuality gives me the guts to mingle sport coat with khaki at virtually any social gathering.
I didn't know any of this until I woke up this morning with the intention to purchase, develop, and operate stevebabcock.com.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
As some of you know, I dabble in artist development/management. I recently discovered a dubiously sizzling new act out of Black Lick, PA called "Replicate your Vehicle." I caught a club show quite by accident and haven't been the same since. After their set, I approached the band. They were extremely eager to add my expertise to the team. While I can't officially let the cat out of the bag, the following is a sample cut from the soon-to-be-released, soon-to-be-titled, and soon-to-be-awesome record. Check your computer speakers, cause if they only go to ten, odds are they won't be able to handle the high voltage, premium octane jams. Minimum = eleven.
Replicate your Vehicle | Freaking Crazy
PS: The above blog is mostly false. The soon-to-be-awesome part, however, is all true.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I'm from Idaho.
While doing a little cleaning this weekend, I came across some old boxes full of childhood memorabilia. The contents of which took me back to a life I once knew in a little town called Jerome, Idaho. Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with said booming metropolis, here is a brief collage of words (or a mood piece, as it were) to create a mental frame of reference for you. For added affect, hum Def Leppard's, "Pour Some Sugar on Me" while reading.
Gun racks. Premium Unleaded. Tuff Skins. Ghettoblasters. Lift kits. One stop light. Bangs. Acid wash. Cameros. White Snake (and Lion). Reeboks. Cheese Factory. Shop Class. Mud boggin'. Worm proddin'. Thrift store pants. Beer. Trucks. Fights. Pregnant Prom Queens. Beet fields. Dairies. Rock chuck hunting. Canal surfing. BMX racing. Cars on blocks. Cough syrup addictions. Water weenies. Muscle shirts. Self-given tattoos. Homosexual cows. Pot holes. Swears. Flipping people off with the hand titled sideways, resting on the steering wheel.
Now that you are mentally Idahoan, I shall proceed with my story. While I have a million stories (of which, in time, I shall share via the blog) I was reminded of one in particular (and don't ask why).
I attended the fifth grade at Central Elementary. The school was made up of virtually every walk of life and while we all had our differences, we were intimately united by one thing - the fear of Vance Kahala. Vance attended the Jr. High across the street at the ripe age of 17. If you're thinking to yourself, "Wait, shouldn't he be nearly graduated from high school at that age?" then you are correct. Vance suffered from "I don't need to get good grades, cause I can just totally beat your face in" syndrome. Sadly, it was supported by his over-developed body of which he used to pummel the likes of man, woman and child.
I vividly recall one summer day at the Jerome City Pool. As the only pool within a 50-mile radius, it was often jam packed, and this day was no exception. My friends and I thought it fun to drop pennies into the deep end and then, with the use of face masks, dive down and retrieve them. I would love to say the fact we did this next to the diving board was merely happenstance, but alas, I believe the drop point was pre-planned on account of the occasional bikini top mishap.
Suddenly, the pool went silent. I scanned the pool to see what was the matter. And there he was - Vance Kahala. He entered the facility alongside his younger cousin, Lynn Urivelka, who was in my grade, but three years older than any of us. Lynn wasn't as tough, however, but nobody dared mess with him, on account of his protective kin.
Vance purchased a licorice rope from the consession stand and much like a gladiator into the coliseum, he entered the chain link fence and stepped up onto the concrete deck. He slowly strutted towards the deep end. He was wearing a Jackyl tour shirt, which he had transformed into a true muscle tank top by manually ripping off the collar and sleeves. His long dishwater hair and his non successive facial hair frolicked in the breeze. Kids did everything they could not to make direct eye contact with his snarl. He walked passed us and mounted the diving board. He removed his tank and with nothing but a pair of white spandex shorts on, he launched himself into a perfectly executed cannonball - the repercussions of which soaked every towel in sight.
After staying underwater for a lengthy amount of time, he surfaced. Proudly, he whipped his hair back and surveyed the damage. Vance was pleased. Then he swam over to the ladder and pulled himself out of the water. He stood on the concrete slab and slowly turned towards the pool.
Now, while I wish not to criticize the way public schools attempt sexual education, the site of which I'm about to describe to you, did more in the way of education of things to come, than any waver-required puberty film every could.
As Vance turned around, the entire pool saw just what happens to white spandex when it gets wet. Clear as the driven snow. Hundreds of innocent children stared in confusion. The befuddled minds of many were stretched to capacity as they tried to comprehend the view that stood before them.
Vance was proud. As he displayed his high country for all to see, he snatched his licorice rope from the chain link fence and strolled right back out of the pool.
Lynn quickly followed as the two hopped on their bikes and rode away. Lynn's BMX didn't have a seat, so he rode standing up. Gratified, he rode a wheelie off into the sunset.
Needless to say, there wasn't much talking amongst friends at the pool after that. I could tell each of us was trying to make sense of the scenery all the while questioning our own realities. I tossed a handful of pennies into the deep end and hopped out of the pool. I wrapped my soaked towel around my shoulders and walked home.
Never to be the same again.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Jr. High is an interesting stage in life.
It's a time of change; a time of confusion. It's a time of realized imperfections. It's a time of braces, pimples and cracking voices. It's a time of premature mustaches, (which you actually think are cool, despite the obvious lack of fullness, not to mention the fact it's a mustache). It's a time of puberty films that, while well-intended, usually do more harm than good on a young, confused mind. It's a time of weird hair in even weirder places.
I was reminded of this tender age this week while producing a radio spot for one of my clients. The spot involved the voice talent of several young teenagers. While directing their reads, I was reminded of just how awkward this stage in life is.
ME: Okay, so for this line I need you to pretend you are a bully, picking on some kid. Say, "What are you, some kind of loser?"
KID: Oh, you want me to say it now?
KID: CLICK HERE
Bless his black and blue heart. And his braces.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
I've never been known for my masculinity, and tonight was no exception.
There are certain times in a man's life when it is acceptable to cry. Some of these occasions include the birth of his first child, the death of a loved one, or the amputation of his limbs without the aid of anesthesia. You'll notice watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition wasn't included in the list of sustainable times of snivel.
Tonight's edition featured a family from right here in Utah. I don't know why, but something about the humility of the family and the willingness of the neighbors caused me to choke up. (Just a little, mind you.)
HAILEY: Are you...crying?
ME: What? *Sniffle* No way.
HAILEY: You are! You're crying over Extreme Makeover Home Edition!
ME: Whatever. *Wipes eyes* I have allergies.
HAILEY: Since when?
ME: Since forever.
HAILEY: You don't have allergies.
ME: Isn't there any monster truck racing or football or something on right now? Anything other than this wuss crap? Why don't you make me a turkey pot pie? I think I'm gonna go down to the Maverick and fight somebody in the face!
HAILEY: You're crying.
ME: I'm going to bed.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Recently, I've received some e-mails inquiring about my job. Stuff like, "Dude, just what do you do all day, anyway?" and "Do you do anything besides post blogs at work?" In defense of these derogatory allegations, here is an example of a print campaign I did for a company called Caskets and More. As the name would suggest, they sell funeral supplies with a twist - at a much discounted price. Creepy? Yes.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
At the risk of sounding over confident, I very well may have just revolutionized inter-office cookie transport, as we know it.
Allow me to illustrate. At my place of employment, my workstation is located adjacent from my friend and co-worker, Spennywhistle's. While I was eating my sack lunch (packed by the Mrs.) I noticed two cookies. Being the friend I am, I decided to offer the spare cookie to Spenny. Upon offering, he graciously accepted.
One problem. How was I to successfully and safely transport said cookie from my workstation to his?
Observe, the revolution.
This illustration allows you to see the problem at hand. It's really just a classic case of "Point A. to Point B," with added, (and potentially lethal, mind you) consequences. Note the black chair at the end of my desk. While its creation was intended solely for human sitting practices, I looked beyond that shallow definition and saw greatness. I thought to myself, "For this chair shall no long be meager in its existence. No, it shall become something much greater. It shall become a vessel of transportation. The carrier of precious cargo." Dubbing it so, I placed the cookie on its plastic molded seat and positioned it for trajectory.
Since nothing like this has ever been attempted in the science arena, I had not the crutch of research, and thus had to guess on the amount of thrust. Despite some minor issues, I guessed correctly.
In the perfect world of science, the receiver would have had a better haircut, but given the circumstances, I'd say the receival was a success.
Ahh, the tender rewards of science. Upon receival, Spennywhistle offered me a Hob Nob. I politely declined. Besides, I'm a man of science. I seek not worldly fame. I seek only to improve the world in which we live. I believe, once perfected, the Chair Transport will bring peace and understanding to those plagued by war and confusion.
It never ends.
Remember the Dirty Johnson lady? (If not, please refer to blog dated 09.29.05). Well, she called me again last night. She wanted to know why the "Failure" sign hadn't been removed from above her failing dog washing business, like she had asked.
This time, I decided to be a bigger man. Someone noteworthy. Someone my mother would be proud of. So, instead of being the usual wise guy, I decided to offer a hand of help. I sent her an e-mail telling her that the billboard wasn't the cause of her failing business. I then introduced her to a potential co-business idea.
She has yet to respond.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Behold, the Turkey Lady.
Disclaimer: While the following is not intended to be insensitive to those with physical deformities, I'd just like to ask/suggest they don't work in the food industry.
What was intended to be a normal Subway lunch break turned out to be nothing short of a psychological trepidation. After a short wait in line, I approached the counter.
SANDWICH ARTIST: What would you like, sir?
ME: I'll have a turkey breast and ham on white please.
SANDWICH ARTIST: Okay, what type of bread would you like?
SANDWICH ARTIST: Alrighty then, what kind of meat would you like, sir?
ME: Turkey breast and ham.
SANDWICH ARTIST: Okay then...
My eyes followed as the overly cheerful sandwich artist slid his masterpiece down the cutting board counter and into the hands of the person manning the veggies department.
VEGGIE DEPARTMENT: What veggies do you want?
The surprising gruff in the woman's voice caused my eyes to travel from her perspiring plastic gloves to what would later haunt my very existence to the core. As my eyes arrived at her mid neckline, I beheld it - the growth.
Now, make no mistake about it, I'm no stranger to goiters, but this was different. If there was a kingdom of goiters, this would be the queen. All peasant goiters would pay homage to her. Burnt offerings and sacrifices of lesser goiters would be performed in her honor. The very flicker of her wrinkles would command goiter armies of tens of thousands to march into and claim neighboring goiter civilizations. Superiority, authority, and dominance, all rolled into one droopy softball-sized miracle of science.
I struggled to maintain my cool.
ME: Umm, I'll have lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles...
Just as I was about to request a light dab of mayo, the goiter moved. Yes, it moved. Bile was determined. I fought with gusto. Staring at the floor I sputtered.
ME: Okay, that'll be good, thanks.
Needless to say, my appetite was completely gone. It was replaced with vivid imagery of goiters in medieval battle armor fighting mightily against armies of boils and other related growths, ala Braveheart.
While the above incident happened hours ago, I'm still quite unsure about anything related to consumption. And while I long to sympathize with the turkey lady, I can't help but desire a method of time travel, so I could go back to before lunch and make the life-altering decision of Panda Express. But no, I am forced to walk this lonely road of incertitude. It is as though my previous world has ceased to exist completely.
I am haunted by goiters.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Last night I realized something terrible. I've become a winker. Yes, a winker.
I discovered this ghastly gesticulation last night while ordering a sandwich from Arby's. A portly fellow, probably in his late 30's, handed me my meal with a rhetorical, "have a nice day," and that's when it happened. I replied with a smile and a wink. It was so inadvertent, that I didn't even notice. But Hailey did.
HAILEY: Did you just wink at him?
ME: Wink? Wha?
And that's when it hit me. I had winked at him. And while it was completely unintentional, it left me utterly disturbed. This sent my mind racing. I thought to myself, "How long has this been going on?" Suddenly my mind filled with vivid instances of previous winkery. How did I become a winker? I mean, in order to be a winker you have to be over 65, wear slippers and jumpsuits, and enjoy Matlock reruns.
ME: Crap. I think I did.
HAILEY: That's creepy.
ME: Well, I didn't...
HAILEY: Like molester creepy.
ME: Whoa, wha?