Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stuffed Puppy

Truly bizarre shit happens to me all the time, so it should not have been a big surprise to find a stuffed dog staring at me from the back window of a storage container parked across the street from the U.S. Embassy in Frankfurt. Still, it was.

Today's weirdness actually started at breakfast when Peter forced me to take a picture of Toast Man.

My first reaction was the standard issue response straight from the Parent's Handbook.

'Peter - quit playing with your food!'

Angie's reaction to my words of wisdom was straight from the book of Mama.

'This coming from the man who LAST WEEK bit eye and mouth holes into a piece of bologna and then tried to scare his children with his meat mask?!'

Angie only has a point about once a decade so I let her enjoy the moment and went to get the boys ready. Tom has been going through a cute phase lately that I like to call 'I do it by me self'. It pretty much applies to anything - and I do mean anything - that he tries to do but simply cannot. Like putting on a pair of socks.

'No, Papa! I do it by me self!'

Or buttoning a shirt.

'No, Papa! I do it by me self!'

Or zipping up his pants.

'No, Papa! I do it by me self!'

Okay, you get the point. I think it's just peachy keen that he has inherited his mother's stubborn determination, but when you are running late for an appointment at the embassy that will be cancelled without due diligence if you are 30 seconds late, it was far from admirable.

Despite all odds (and thanks to Papa's lead foot and a self-made coffee to go) we actually made it to the embassy with 45 minutes to spare. That might sound early to people who have not had the pleasure of getting through the security, which takes half an hour, if you're lucky. The problem is, Dulles looks like a cabbage patch compared to the security gauntlet we had to run through to get to our appointment.

As we were patiently waiting to get strip searched, I glanced over and noticed that Peter's backpack was open. I walked over to zip it up and discovered that he was innocently smuggling in a Mega-spy voice modulator that he got for his birthday. In addition to cell phones and cameras, I'm pretty sure that the security staff at the consulate would confiscate any voice recording devices, regardless of the assailant's age or lack of motive.

Ditching the device in a nearby trashcan would have been my preferred solution, but naggy female-types pointed out that this might look suspicious and went on to 'suggest' that I run the spy gadget back to the car. I counter-suggested that maybe Agent P should do the huffing and puffing, but apparently crossing four lanes of traffic hasn't been taught at the Spy Academy yet.

As I raced back to the car, I passed the stationary trailer featuring the embalmed remains of Cujo and stopped in my tracks. WTF??!!

After multiple double-takes and some minor head scratching, I moved on. I got back just in time to get ushered into the scanning station, where a security guard was asking Angie to take off Tom's belt.

'No! I do it by me self.'

The guard glanced briefly at me, but I simply shrugged and watched as Tom struggled for five minutes to get his belt off. He finally did, and proudly tossed his Captain Sharky buckle into one of the plastic tubs. Apparently, gloating is another trait that Angie has passed on to our children.


The guard wisely chose my preferred path of resistance and simply ignored Tommy as he strutted his way through the cavity scanner.

We finally got to counter 31 two minutes before our scheduled appointment. I was prouder than Mary until our number was called.

'I'm sorry, but you want to submit three passport applications, two social security applications, and one report of birth abroad. The problem is, you only have one appointment. You would have needed to make six different appointments.'

I looked around for the Candid Camera crew that was surely lurking around the corner. I then looked down at the paperwork that took me several hours to fill out so that everything was prepared. The only thing we had to do was sign the damn papers in front of this woman, which was somehow very important to consular folk. I decided that flat-out lying was the best option.

'That's what the lady downstairs said, but she looked through our paperwork and said that because we had everything completely filled out, she would allow an exception this time.'

The woman was still sizing me up when honest Pete decided to help.

'What lady, Papa?'

The woman behind counter 31 immediately cracked up, winked at me, and muttered 'busted' before motioning for me to fork over the novella of paperwork. I'm no stranger to strange women winking at me, so I did what I was told and asked glaring Angie to take helpful Peter out of ear reach.

Forty-five minutes and five hundred dollars later, we were back on our way home. As we left Frankfurt, we passed this gem.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that AS5 is a great company name; I just think their logo might need some work.

I had taken the day off of work to swindle my way into blowing half a thousand, but that only covered the morning. Aside from Peter trying to smuggle in contraband and Tommy holding the line up at security, the boys did a great job. I discovered years ago the atrocities that can follow such behavior if it is unrewarded.

That's right; the Zoo Crew got a trip to the Candy Store, still owned by the eccentric, yet friendly, Candy Man. The boys got to pick their bag colors. David - duh, it was red. Peter searched for pink, but settled with purple. Tom was a bit indecisive. He wanted blue and green, and he voiced this desire rather loudly. Candy Man was quick to oblige. He picked up a pair of scissors and cut a heart shape out of a green candy sleeve and shoved a blue one inside. Tada! Tommy now had a green bag with a blue heart and could only have been happier had he been allowed to cut the bag 'by he self'.

I'm not easily conned, but somehow, the boys convinced me that big bags of sweets were not sufficient for their lack of misbehavior - they demanded ice-cream. I indulged their sweet teeth and Peter indulged me with an ice sculpture carved by his tongue.

Disgusting, I know, but considering the many, many, many, many, many, other disgusting things that my boys have subjected me and others to, my stomach approved this one.

After today, I am a firm believer in the proper sequence of events. For example, getting your kids doped up on sugary treats and ice-cream before taking them to get their haircut, where they are expected to stay still - stupid. Just stupid.

This is the only shot that survived. The others were too blurry because Tommy was twitching like a flipped beetle, edged on by two older brothers who were in the distance clutching their bellies. The barber was not amused.

Truly bizarre shit happens to me all the time, so it should not have been a big surprise after the Barbershop Triplet that Tommy wanted to go grocery shopping with me and demanded a spider man costume, a leather jacket, a pair of shades, and a watch. Still, it was.

Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That I drove my bike with Sebastian.
David: I said David ah-boom-boom!
Tom: That I snuggle with Mama in your bed.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That I didn't find my candy.
David: That Samir is not here.
Tom: That I cried when I had water in my eyes.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Play with David stinky-binky.
David: Go to Yuki's.
Tom: Want I play something with you.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Showers

I thought it would be hard to trick Peter again this year. See, having a birthday on April Fool's Day has made him very, hmmm... let's call it 'cautious' on his BIG DAY. Okay, bullshit - he was twitchier than Daffy Duck jacked up on PCP. Still, we managed to make him cry. Twice. Booyakasha!

For a change, I had nothing to do with either meltdown. Angie was responsible for the first, when she started breaking the news to Peter last night that things have been hectic lately and we simply hadn't had a chance to buy him any gifts. We tried to reassure him that other people might be stopping by with gifts and encouraged him not to give up hope. His best friend Arman was spending the night, who glared at Angie for a second before frantically searching for the gift that he had brought for Peter. I assured him it was tucked away safely and we returned to watching Peter's slow-boiling freak-out. It was fascinating.

If I had tried that trick, I am absolutely sure that Peter would have kicked me in the shin and laughed at me. The element of surprise was that Mama was the one lying to her first-born. It's a well-known and documented fact that Mama can be scatter-brained at times, which only added credibility to her deceptive lie.

Peter hunched his shoulders and moped his way to his room, where he began bawling like a kid with a really mean mother. The problem is that Angie is only ever really mean to me and decided to throw in the towel at that point. Had it been me, I would have tossed crushed boy a box of Kleenex and wished him pleasant dreams.

Peter didn't exactly laugh, but he did stop crying. Arman stood silently by Peter's side with a glaring look of utter disbelief. I'm just guessing, but I don't think his family kicks pure emotions around just for fun. Welcome to the Zoo, kid.

The boys finally went to sleep and Angie and I went to work planning today's snickery deeds. Our friend and co-conspirator Nicole was spending the night with us. Wine and giggling pretty much sums up our planning session.

Breakfast came early, but Peter's buffet of presents put his fears to rest and assured Arman that Angie is not his generation's Mommy Dearest. As Peter was unwrapping the last of his gifts, we 'noticed' an email that came in from the Mayor of Heidelberg.

It had the city government logo and an official looking signature, so Peter became interested in the content. We read on to find out that the schools in our area were becoming overcrowded, prompting government officials to announce a plan to bus children to a nearby village. The mail further explained that the plan would only affect children with a birthday between the 31st of March and the 30th of April.


I normally do not allow Peter to curse without eating a bar of soap, but his slip was genuine and Karma scares me.

A few seconds later, Peter and Arman came to the realization that Arman's birthday is not until the end of May.


Okay, now I was torn. Potty mouth kid would normally get a shot of liquid soap at this point, but I was having so much fun watching the impending emotional smack-down that I ignored social etiquette.

The mail went on to explain that the only opportunity for a child to object and request an official exception was on the child's birthday, which had to be done in person at the city hall.

We had full plans to carry this out for most of the morning and quite possibly a good portion of the afternoon. When Peter retreated to a dusty corner and curled up into a ball of quivering snot, Nicole sent the second mail announcing 'April Fools!'

I'm no genius - just ask my wife - but I don't think Arman will be voluntarily spending the night again anytime soon. I also don't think that Peter will talk to us on his birthday next year. I'm already WAY ahead of him, though. I'm totally focusing on pranks that don't involve him being suckered by people he trusts. Stay tuned.