The case of the missing teaspoons

I don’t know what’s up with our office kitchen but if the fridge is not a gestation chamber for toxic waste, then the teaspoons are eloping.

We are constantly having to stock up on teaspoons.  Like doughnuts at a police convention.  A lady in the office even started marking them with nail polish because that is what some women do when they want to secure their possessions from theft.  I’m not sure how it prevents the theft from actually taking place but who am I to judge what goes on in the mind of the female gender. It’s not like the nail polish is radioactive and can induce a coma on contact, it’s just red nail polish. Or maybe it’s rose pink.  Or it may even be dark coral.  No, I think it’s magenta.  Or you know what, it fuchsia, it’s definitely fuchsia.  Or… Just. Let. It. Go.

Any good detective, worth his acting career, will tell you that in order to progress with any investigation, one has to have at least one solid lead.  And preferably not the metal type. Unless it’s the murder weapon.  Or a stolen teaspoon.  Which it wasn’t.  The suspect in our ongoing investigation is the cleaning lady because she handles more teaspoons than any other person in our office.  When we confronted her, she merely suggested that the office workers are eating the teaspoons.  (And I’m not making this up.)

missing teaspoons

Listen to Ned Stark, he knows some shit.  Until he lost his head, that is.

Based on her theory, most of us are suffering from a condition known as iron deficiency anemia.  We’re basically minding our own business, pretending to work, focused on getting home, and in between all of that, some of us just gets an uncontrollable urge to randomly gobble down a teaspoon.  And to set the record straight, I work for a chemical company, not a rehabilitation center for X-men.  None of us have any super powers. Unless off course you count the fact that I can tell a co-worker to piss off and leave my office without saying a word, as a superpower.  Then we have one.

I have my own theories as to why our teaspoons are disappearing at such an alarming rate.  Here’s a few:

  1. They are sick of being stuck in a job that feels like a prison sentence and found a way to escape through the drain of the dishwasher, dig through sewage and found a happier life on an island somewhere off the coast of Mexico.
  2. One of the bigger spoons is a bachelor and he’s sending teaspoons home every week with a piece of food stuck to it, as he doesn’t like their spooning technique.  He’s probably going to settle for the plastic spoon. They all do.
  3. The teaspoons have gone to Vegas with a few mates, drank too much and now they’re stuck on a roof of a hotel somewhere, suffering from the worst hangover in the history of cutlery.  All because their mates forgot them there and are still frantically trying to figure out what happened the night before.
  4. They’re all on maternity leave and due to the aggressive campaign of some of the feminist cutlery, it has now been extended to three years for every little piece of food they can scoop out.
  5. The teaspoons have been taken hostage and somewhere there is a knife, hunting the gang, because he doesn’t have any money to pay a ransom.  He does however, have a particular set of skills which he acquired over a very long career and turns him into a nightmare for people trying to eat soup with a fork.
  6. Some of the dishes ran away with some of the smaller spoons, as soon as they saw the cow jumped over the moon singing “Hey diddle diddle”.
  7. Aliens arrived on Independence day and abducted most of the teaspoons because they ran out of their actual probing equipment.  The teaspoons will obviously never be the same again and no-one will believe their ordeal.  So they prefer to stay in Upside Down.  Stranger things have happened.
  8. The teaspoons went to Camp Crystal Bake where they all end up in the bottom of a bowl of dirty water or broken in half by Jason the Muffin Man, who is still trying to get over the loss of his gum drop button.
  9. They’ve been chased out of the kitchen by Kanye just as they started to thank a few people for cleaning them.
  10. The teaspoons have all been deported because they’re all made in Mexico and the wall has been built and paid for by a racist, self-centered, narcissistic fork and knife.

Or they’ve just got lost and found their way into the bags of the cleaning ladies who cart them little spoons from the coffee corner in our office to the kitchen sink and then every so often, not back again.  It’s the latest fetish, “tantalizing teaspoon tampering” and it’s becoming very popular around our office.

The case of the missing teaspoons is an ongoing investigation and just like the Bermuda Triangle and Wife’s natural hair colour, it’s a mystery that might never be resolved.  In the mean time we simply continue buying new teaspoons because the one thing I do know is that it is extremely painful to stir a cup of coffee with my finger.

My love, your car hates me.

I’m 6’4″.  That’s tall.  In any country.  I’m proud of my height, I’ve worked damn hard to get this tall.  It took countless awkward moments throughout puberty and then some. My length allows me to be heavier than most people simply because the weight has a wider distance of distribution.   Or at least that’s what I like to believe.  It enables me to do things that normal people can’t.  Like getting the sales items that’s normally hidden on the top shelf of a grocery store.  You didn’t know?  I’m able to spot my friends from a mile in a crowd.  And then avoid them.  It allows me to have a perfect, unhindered view at any concert, whilst people behind me normally start swearing as soon as I stand up.

My length does make certain things a little more problematic.  Like taking a bath or buying a standard pair of jeans or walking around construction sites or being stuck in an economy seat for eleven hours with the rest of the cattle.  My biggest frustration for being tall is having to drive a normal sized car.  Which is why I don’t.  And which is why Wife does.

Every so often I have to sacrifice my SUV for the good of others.  Like this morning.  She had to cart a bunch of her Kindergarten class to an Eisteddfod, where they’ll try and recite a nursery rhyme in front of three judges, without crying or freezing completely. And then get a certificate for participation.  In order to optimise on time, she would use our SUV.  (Which is technically my SUV, but please don’t tell her I said so.) The SUV has seven seats.  And the reason why I own a car with seven seats is because as much as my kids love each other *insert coughing sound* they prefer to have their own row of seats when we go on a family road trip.  I also prefer them to do so, as the alternative would be “If you don’t stop your shit right this instant, so help me, I will stop this car and throw you both off this mountain.”

It’s a health and safety issue.  My health and their safety.

The problem with my sacrifice, is that I’m stuck with her car.  And it hates me.  Maybe because I’ve been quite vocal about my own preferences when it comes to the vehicle I choose to drive.  I love my Wife enough to suck it up, as I’ve learned many things in my 21 years of marriage.  One of them is to know when to keep your mouth shut.  And this was one of those times.  She was already stressed out about the whole “I-hope-my-kids-will-be-alright-today-Eistedfodd-nerves-thing.

So I took the whole mountain of forty-three keys she has on a chain, compared to the one on mine, and screamed at my kids to get their butts in the car or else they’ll be walking to school.  (We’re such a loving family.)  The first problem is the physics of stuffing four teenagers and their bags in the car, as I still drop them off at school.  My vocal reaction starts as soon as I get into the car and bump my knee against the steering wheel.  Shit! is normally the first word the car hears when I get in.  I have to adjust my seat to accommodate the leg space of three other growing people behind me and whoever shouted “shotgun!” first, is safe from the inevitable squashing and complaining that will unfold on route to school.

Then I have to adjust every single mirror in the car because it’s very important to have 360 vision when you drive in a smaller car because most other drivers won’t see you hovering beneath their bumpers, dodging traffic.  Wife opted for no Bluetooth when she bought the car, so I’m not able to entertain the teenagers with my jam.  I’m not sure if they’re even disappointed.  We’re stuck with whatever music Wife is currently listening to and it’s strange how the kids crank up the volume…

I also have the honour of getting into the little white cabby with a fuel light flashing, which means I have to fill her up because no-one likes to walk 20 miles to work on a winter morning, before coffee.

Then there is the weird pedals.  Maybe it’s because of the combination of my big feet, long legs and lack of awesomeness, but I battle to have a smooth transition from start to fifth gear.  I even stall the damn thing a couple of times a day.  I suspect it’s a conspiracy, thereby ensuring that men can’t claim to be better drivers.  I look like someone who’s failing driver’s ed.

In other news, do you know what they say about men with big feet?  *insert drum roll* We have big shoes.

The worst thing about the car is that as soon as I finally pick a song, it has the uncanny ability to switch to a traffic report for DURBAN! in the middle of it!  Rudely interrupting my groove, which I battle to get going in the first place.  I certainly don’t mind traffic reports, as they can be very helpful, but I prefer to select the time when I want to hear them, especially if they are for a city that 400 km’s away!

The lady simply starts japping away like Trump on Twitter at three in the morning, never once considering how rude she might be for interrupting a song that I’m killing in my own version of carpool karaoke.  She left me on the high note!  High enough for my to croak and start coughing.

Her car does things to me that no decent human being would do to someone else.  I certainly wouldn’t expect any of this kind of behavior from my own car.  I think it’s best if I give her a time out, to ponder all the things she did wrong this morning.  I expect an apology from the traffic lady, at the very least.

Anyhow, I got to work  in one piece, albeit bruised, moody and with a sore throat, but I’m not ungrateful.  I just need to find someone with a can opener to get me out of this damn car.

Moments like these…

Sucks in a get-over-yourself-such-is-life kind of way.  They are notoriously difficult to write about because when I do, I end up looking like a slobbering idiot with tears streaming down my face, splashing all over the keyboard, ruining the electronics and causing a short circuit that leaves the whole office building without power for three days.  It seems electricity and water does not make a great pair.

Not that I write any posts at work.

Luckily these unfortunate occurrences I’m referring to only happens annually.  Like today.

I’m talking about the celebration of the birth of Princess, fifteen years ago. FIFTEEN! OMG! WTF! And every other acronym that express shock.  It hits you SMASH!, like a blow from the Hulk.  Right in the gut.  Reminding me that my kids are growing up and I’m growing old…

222

Princess, as I’m typing away with two fingers, I’m left wondering how long I will still be able to call you “Princess”.  And then I realise the answer to that question is easy:  As long as I’m posting for this domain.  It’s my literary man cave, as it were.  And over here, like in my heart, you will always be my Princess.

This year was one of those where your growth simply lapsed time.  Somewhere between the last birthday and this one, you have morphed into a beautiful young woman.  And it’s not just the outside beauty, which is obvious, but your inner beauty is shining brighter than the Bat single of Gotham.  It’s a strength forged from your unfaltered faith in God, a profound determination, an unquestionable integrity and an endearing, compassionate soul. And this inner beauty boils over into delightful manifestations of song and laughter we get to hear every single day.  Which is why those sounds are the sweetest sounds in the universe.

You make us smile.  You make us proud.  You make us want to be around you.  You make everyone want to be around you.  And we love you more and more and more with each passing day.

May the next year of your life brings you an opportunity to catch a star.  May God grant you blessings beyond your wildest dreams.

And always know this: We love you, our Princess, now and forever and ever.

Have a wonderful birthday.

Something died in our office refrigerator

If you’re stuck working with people in the same office building and the company who you work for does not provide you with a cafeteria, where a person can escape the daily grind and have a freshly prepared lunch, then this post is for you.  To the rest of you spoiled brats, go ahead and mock us, the disadvantaged individuals.

We are condemned to a reality of having to pack our lunch.  To pre-prepare whatever we want to feed our face with, and bring it along to our place of torture. To satisfy the need to eat with hurried scraps because of the time restriction in the morning, due to you having to dress, shave and dump the used food you ate yesterday.  Not to mention the stuff you have to do to the kids to get them to school on time.  Wife has given up on packing my lunch because I am, in her words, “full of shit.”

This post is teetering in the wrong direction.

The biggest issue with a heap of people bringing their own lunch, necessitates the need for a few key appliances.  Like a percolator, microwave oven, scattered cutlery, the wildest array of mugs you’ve ever seen and the biggest menace of them all, a refrigerator.

office-fridge-cleanup

Food is something I enjoy.  Especially if it looks good, smell nice and tastes better.  South Africans are living in a rainbow nation, which is just a polite way of saying that the citizens of our great nation is a melting pot of a gazillion cultures.  And this is where the general concept of what a person might perceive to be good food, gets a little muddled.

One would be very wrong to assume that most people enjoy pasta, pizza, salad or a ham sandwich for lunch.  People eat all kinds of shit.  Kale on cardboard, tuna on a stick, spices that could burn a hole straight from your throat to your anus and a dozen examples of other inconceivable crap.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with what other people might perceive as delicious but I do have a problem with the fact that everything and anything gets stuck in the same damn fridge.  Another common assumption would be to assume that the chosen food are kept in air-tight containers, thereby ensuring the freshness of said food and also, but more importantly, to eliminate the strange, indescribable toxic odours that rise from said food.  To keep it from spreading through the rest of the kitchen.  Or to a neighbouring country.

People are not that courteous.  They are selfish bastards who would put anything in the fridge as long as it would feed their hunger pains come lunchtime. Doesn’t matter if it lapsed the sell-by date with a year.

I made the mistake of opening the fridge on Monday morning and was smacked in the face by a smell so potent and vulgar, I could actually hear it scream for help.  I was overwhelmed, but was able to shut the door, moments before I passed out.  I didn’t even have time to remove the milk I wanted.  When I came to, I was still trying to control my urge to vomit.

But I’m a man. I’m better than this.  I’m strong.  I’m brave.  I’ve been through worse.  I’ve seen things.  I’ve done things.  I’ve raised two teenagers and had first hand experience on how babies can destroy a nappy.  Or a shirt.  I’ve entered a room where seven teenage boys have been sleeping for three days.  I’ve been to India.  And I’m still here.

So I took a deep breath and opened the fridge again.  I immediately knew it was a mistake.  This was different.  This was toxic.  This was a bio-hazard.  This was trying to kill me.  I still couldn’t figure out what the source of the aroma was.  Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t the decomposing, severed head of that co-worker who is on my fantasy hit list.  There was no head.  Or anything remotely suspicious.  No dead cat.  Or bucket of puke. Not even a tuna/kale/seaweed/cardboard salad.  Nothing.  Being the person who I am, I deduced that the only logical explanation for the foul smell was that someone was able to capture the essence of a Zombie fart and keep it in the fridge.

I did what any brave man would do in a situation like that.  I shut the door, leaned against the wall for support, took another deep breath and ran to one of my colleagues for help.  This colleague was a female.  Obviously.  Most men will agree that there are some things women do better.  These activities include giving birth, silencing a screaming baby, putting a plaster on the bruised knee of a toddler, washing dishes, bringing beer and preparing my favourite meal.  And of course, getting rid of a foul smell in a refrigerator.

The kind lady suggested I place a cup of vinegar in the fridge, as it would soak up the odour. After she shared her wisdom with yours truly, it took her another eight seconds to realise that I wasn’t there for advise.  I was never going to open that fridge again.  I barely survived the nasal version of the first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan.

After receiving some counselling, I returned to work the next day.  The counselling was very effective because I completely forgot about the atrocious smell I experienced the day before and opened the white crypt without thinking.  The death smell was gone and replaced by an overwhelming aroma of vinegar that made my eyes water.

I got my milk, and then after pondering the reality of my situation, poured it down the drain.  I would like to apologize to every starving kid reading this post but there was no way in hell I was going to drink something that has been contaminated by something that belongs on an episode of the Walking Dead.

Unfortunately, my uncontrollable urge to stuff my face when I’m hungry, will imply that at some point in the future I will break that promise.  And open IT again…

So far so good.  It’s been three days since I’ve had the need to open our damned office refrigerator.

Saying “YES” is easier

Parents have a crappy job.  It starts with wiping of said substance from the soft posterior of the little angels we bring home from the hospital and then it goes downhill from there.  Fast.  I’m not referring to the countless moments of joy and regret kids provide parents with on a daily basis.  I’m specifically referencing the task of forming, sculpting and trying to raise responsible adults who will do more than simply wipe their own butts one day.

I’m talking about discipline.  That’s the tough job.  The part of parenting I hate.  The having to say “No” part.  The part where you create boundaries and then struggle for the rest of eternity to make them stay within those boundaries.  And for every parent it’s different.  Some of us have narrow boundaries, whilst others have boundaries as wide as the universe itself.  There’s no right or wrong.  To make matters even more complicated, it’s also our job to decide when we need to make the circle bigger, to expand the boundaries, even if it’s just a little at a time.  And we need to make them bigger because the aim is to reach the point where you can demolish all the boundaries and simply let them fly.  Or at least fall out of the nest without breaking their neck in the process.

Let’s be honest, saying “No” is not fun.  It’s evident from the earliest beginnings.  The first toddler tantrum was probably because you said he/she couldn’t get something they really and desperately wanted.  And needed.  It seemed more important than life itself.  Like that Wonder Woman blow up doll I really, really, really want…

I suspect cavemen battled with the same thing when their kids wanted to help them in painting those weird stick figures on the walls of their caves.  Looking at some of them, I’d say the kids actually did help them.  Saying “No” makes you the bad parent. Immediately. It doesn’t matter what you did before the moment you said the N-word. Whether you donated your kidney or sold your body on the Internet and didn’t get the price you were hoping for.  The second you say No, you are the unreasonable parent who never gives in.  The kind of parent who doesn’t understand how kids operate.  The parent who never lets their kids do anything.  The parent who is not like any of their friend’s parents.  Can we all agree that it just easier to say “Yes”?

But saying “Yes” instead of “No” makes you a friend, not a father.  It’s your responsibility to protect them against themselves.  Like Wife is protecting me from buying a shitload of superhero t-shirts. (I only have four.)

Tantrums evolve as kids get older because it’s not cool for a teenager to fall down in a public space, kicking and screaming at the top of your lungs because Dad didn’t want to buy the jumper that cost the same price as a two week holiday in Venice.  They simply throw their tantrum in a different way, showing their disappointment by sulking, or pouting, or complaining, or dropping sighs that sucks the will to live out of everyone in a three km vicinity.  The most popular teen tantrum is simply isolating themselves from any interaction for a prolonged period of time which normally coincides with the time they want food.

I must confess, I’m not one to complain about my kids and their isolation tantrums because being able to watch what I want on the television is extremely rare.   It just doesn’t happen often enough.  My kids are not notorious for bending their boundaries. Maybe it’s because it’s too wide?  (I said I’m not complaining.)

The irony is that in those rare occasions when I do use the power of parenting and say “No” and I do end up with a tantrum, then I’ll be the one who ends up sleepless in bed wondering if I did the right thing.  I’ll be lying there, second guessing myself about my rules, wondering whether I’m being too strict or too harsh or too unreasonable. Or just a little too parenty…

Based on my experience of sleepless nights, here’s some advise: You’re not wrong.  You’re not being too strict or too unreasonable.  You’re simply being a Dad.  Or a Mom.  You’re simply trying your best in navigating your kids through the landmines scattered on the road of growing up.  In order to move forward you would need to take another step, and you need to accept the fact that the next step might set of a landmine.  Hopefully you’ve built a strong enough bond with them kids, to survive the explosion that is bound to happen.

And if you’re really lucky, they might even offer an apology for their own unreasonable behavior and realise why you used the word “No.”  When that happens, it’s better than anything I can think of at the moment.

Dude doesn’t have to be a pimp

One of the most difficult choices any person will make during their time on earth would be whether they will have another donut, especially if they already had three.  Another difficult decision is the choice of a career.  Choosing something that will ensure we earn enough money to pay for socks and wine, but also prevent us from suffering from homicidal tendencies three years later because we hate our boss job.  What makes this decision even worse is the fact that society expects kids, at the tender age of 18, to make this life changing choice, simply because that’s when they finish school and has to move onto something bigger.  And more expensive.

Back in the day when I was 18 and music were great and men still hid from dinosaurs (as per my kids), I had limited options. Not because I’m stupid but because I simply didn’t know better.  My exposure to jobs were confined to those which existed in my neighborhood. So I became an engineer.  And hated every minute of it.

In order to prevent Dude and Princess from making similar semi-disastrous life choices, we’ve spend countless hours talking to them on things that might interest them.  We probed (in a legal way of course) and challenged and asked them what they would want to be when they grow up.  What would they do for free? Their choices ranged from a superhero for him and an actress for her when they were small, to “whatever you’re doing dad” for him and “a teacher like mom” for her, as they grew a little older.

Now we’ve reached the waterfall.  The lazy river ride is behind us and it’s time to buckle up and brace ourselves for the proverbial brown stuff to hit the turning device meant for cooling.  Dude has 18 months of school left before he has to enter the great big world as a student of something or another.  This is challenging as most teenagers don’t even know what they want for dinner, never mind what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

Being who we are, we took him to a career counselor.  It’s a person who makes a living by charging parents a small fortune to psycho analyze their kid for three hours and then spend another hour telling you things about them you already know.  He also recommends career choices based on intelligence, interests, personality and study habits.  I have to admit the best part of this session is when a third party tells your son something you’ve been telling him for centuries, something he always choose to ignore. It’s a very special moment for any parent, even if Wife doesn’t want me to use the “I told you so” card.

I’m downplaying the importance of the process because the professor did break some new ground and opened Dude’s mind to choices he didn’t really consider prior to the consultation.  Even though it wasn’t a complete home-run because the guy didn’t reference Dude’s dream job which would probably be staying at home, playing games with his mates, and a genie on hand to serve their every wish and desire…

Dude is super intelligent but that’s no surprise as he takes after me.  He also suffers from a condition that prevents the desire to study from entering conscious thought.  Another condition that seems to be relatively common among teenage boys.  The marks he’s getting in school is probably attributed to his ability to bribe teachers with a smile and good conversation.

We’re grateful for being in a position to provide some guidance for our kids in this very important but tough decision we all have to make one day.  I’m grateful that he has the ability to do most of the things he wants to.  I’m grateful that he is excited about his future.

I’m not grateful for the second bond I need to pay for tuition and I’m certainly NOT grateful for this counselling session being a vicious reminder as to how little time we have with Dude in our house.  (That last part is excruciatingly painful.)

The good news is that it turns out he doesn’t have to stay at home forever, and he has a few options besides the obvious engineer, professional gamer and/or pimp.

Happy Father’s Day

Being a father is tough.  Just like being a mother but without the whole giving birth and having kids suck on your tits thing.  It’s the most difficult job in the world, they say.  It’s the most rewarding job in the world, they say.

What “they” don’t say, is that you’ll make mistakes.  Mistakes that will probably result in your kids having to book a therapy session or two.  (Besides, it’s not my fault they walked in when I was posing with the Borat bathing suit. Moving on…)   What “they” also don’t tell you is how much you’ll end up loving the fruits of your loins.  How much you are prepared to sacrifice for the little angels who can suck your wallet dry in one trip to the mall.  How much pride and joy they can make you feel, and how nothing else on this blue ball makes any sense without them in your life.

Being a father is having the opportunity to experience the ultimate high of the human existence. Being a father is the reason why I’m alive.  It’s why I get up in the morning.

Because I’m a Dad.

And I’m so very grateful to be one.  It’s a blessing.  It’s my purpose.  It’s my joy.  It’s my entire life.  It’s my everything.  It defines me as a person.  And having such an amazing partner to do it with, makes this journey indescribable.

Dude and Princess, I love you more than the Deadpool movie.

To all the other fathers out there, who like me, make mistakes out of the sheer goodness of your intention, lets stand up and laugh at this poor dad who is obviously in a lot of trouble with the wife.

giphy father

Happy Father’s Day!