Tuesday, February 24, 2009

She Slices, She Dices...

I first noticed it a few months ago. I was exercising one morning and as usual my oldest daughter was watching television and keeping me company. I wasn't paying attention to the television or anything in particular except not having a heart attack on the treadmill. My daughter turned to me and tried to get my attention. "Daddy." I tried to signal to her in between strides to give me a second to finish up. "DADDY!" She was very impatient. Something seriously important was on her tiny little mind. I smacked the emergency stop button and practically fell off the machine.

Out-Numbered - "What is it sweetheart? What's the matter?"

Six Year Old - "Do we have Vonage or Phone Service?"

Out-Numbered - "Huh?"


Out-Numbered - "Uh, I guess we have phone service... Why are you asking me that?"

Six Year Old - "Because Vonage is much better than Phone Service."

Out-Numbered - "Come again?"

Six Year Old - "Dad, trust me. Just get Vonage!"

Fast forward one week...

It's Sunday morning and as is customary in our house, I have been shuffling about in the kitchen preparing my weekly pancake breakfast.

Out-Numbered - "Pancakes are ready! Come and get em'."

The wife and kids gather round the table.

Wife - "These look delicious honey."

Out-Numbered - "Why thank you darling."

Two Year Old - "Yummy pancakes. Yay!"

Six Year Old - "Daddy?"

Out-Numbered - "Yes pumpkin?"

Six Year Old - "I don't want pancakes."

Out-Numbered - "What do you mean? You love my pancakes."

Six Year Old - "I used to but I don't want regular pancakes anymore."

Out-Numbered - "These aren't regular pancakes baby. These are Daddy's special pancakes. I make them with love just for you guys."

Six Year Old - "I don't want them anymore."

Two Year Old - "I don't want pancakes!"

Out-Numbered - "I don't understand. What do you want then?"

Six Year Old - "I want Pancake Puffs."

Out-Numbered - "Pancake Puffs? What are Pancake Puffs?

Six Year Old - "They are like pancakes but they are round and you can put stuff in the middle and it's easy and it doesn't stick to the pan and..."


Fast forward another week...

It's Saturday afternoon and my daughter and I are in the supermarket picking up a few things on the way home. We are checking out at the counter.

Checkout Girl - "$54.98 please."

Out-Numbered - "Ok. Hang on. I think I have cash."

Fumbling through my wallet trying to find the right amount of cash.

Out-Numbered - "Shoot. Sorry. I'll use my debit card."

Checkout Girl - "No problem."

Six Year Old - "Daddy?"

Out-Numbered - "Hang on sweetie."

Six Year Old - "You have too much stuff in your wallet?"

Out-Numbered - "What? One second."

Checkout Girl - "Thank you. Here's your receipt."

Out-Numbered - "Thanks."

Six Year Old - "Daddy. Why do you keep so much stuff in your wallet?"

Out-Numbered - "I need all this stuff."

Six Year Old - "It's too messy. You should get the Slim Clip."

Out-Numbered - "The Slim Clip? Where do you get this stuff from?"

Six Year Old - "I saw it on TV."

Out-Numbered - "Carry these bags..."

Later that day back home with my wife...

Out-Numbered - "I think our daughter watches too much Television."

Wife - "That's not true. I only let her watch TV for an hour or two a day."

Out-Numbered - "Whatever it is, I think it's too much."

Wife - "Why are you so concerned all of a sudden?"

Out-Numbered - "Because whenever I'm with her I feel like I'm in an infomercial, that's why."

Wife - "Don't you think you're exaggerating a bit?"

Out-Numbered - "She's like fucking Ron Popeil."

Wife - "C'mon."

Out-Numbered - "Seriously. I don't even want to take her to McDonald's anymore because I'm afraid she's gonna lecture the person behind the counter about using the George Forman Grill because it's healthier. We need to do something."

Wife - "Give it a rest."

Last weekend...

My wife and two daughters are playing in the den on the floor. I'm in the next room reading the paper within an ear shot.

Six Year Old - "I want to play tickle monster."

Two Year Old - "Me too!"

Wife - "That sounds like fun. Who wants to be the tickle monster first?"

Six Year Old - "I do!"

Wife - "Ok. You tickle me and your sister."

Two Year Old - "Tickle me!"

My six year old proceeds to jump on top of my wife and starts to tickle her belly. After a few seconds, she stops and has a thought...

Wife - "Why did you stop tickling me?"

Six Year Old - "Mommy? You have a mushy belly."

Wife - "That's not nice."

Two Year Old - "Mommy's belly is mushy."

Wife - "I said that's not nice."

Six Year Old - "Why is your belly so mushy?"

Wife - "Because I had two babies in my belly, that's why?"

Six Year Old - "Did you know that there is a machine that you can put on your belly and it makes all the mushiness go away?"

Wife - "Is that so?"

Six Year Old - "Yes. I think you should use it. It's called Slendertone."

Out-Numbered - "That's sounds like a great suggestion honey."

Wife - "Shut up!"

Six Year Old - "What's wrong?"

Wife - "No TV for the rest of the week!"

Six Year Old - "But..."

Wife - "That's it!"

Houston, we have a problem.

This time I think my wife was feeling a bit Out-Numbered...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Breakfast of Champions Past...

People always ask me, "Why do you have so many disgusting pictures of food on your facebook page?" I always tell them, "I'm paying homage because I can't eat that shit anymore. It kills me." My food photos are like a candle burning in memory of my gluttonous past. I remember every delectable morsel like they were my children. About two years ago I joined Weight Watchers and lost 35 pounds. I made a promise to myself back then, that I'd try to stay healthy for my family. I wanted to be around to watch them grow up. Haven't gained a pound since. Before I had kids I was somehow able to consume food like this on quite a regular basis. Now that I'm older it's just not that easy anymore. Goes right to my hips. I hope to someday enjoy this breakfast of champions once again with my daughters. Maybe just once... If it doesn't kill me first. Oh and I almost forgot. The luscious treat pictured above is comprised of the following, kind of natural and almost organic ingredients:

1 mostly beef patty grilled to charcoaled perfection
1 slice of ALL AMERICAN Cheese - melted
3 slices of crispy, porkolicious bacon
1 Stop-N-Shop fresh egg - sunny side up
3 squirts of grade A Heinze Ketchup (insert awkward flatulence noise here)
salt and pepper
1 sesame seed bun - lightly toasted

My hunger pains are most certainly Out-Numbered...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

If I ever get out of this place...

Every year my family and I make our annual pilgrimage to West Palm Beach, Florida to visit my in-laws. During the week leading up to our departure, my friends and co-workers ask me the same question over and over again. "How excited are you for your vacation?" I always have the same response. "Uh... it's not really a vacation, so much as it's a family trip but I guess I'm excited." I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't take the time to clarify the distinction between a vacation and a family trip. In fact I'm certain most people would just answer the question with enthusiasm and be done with it. In my situation it's different. As a parent and the author of Out-Numbered, I feel a certain responsibility to my readers. I must tell it like it is. It would be much easier to lie to my friends and co-workers about my amazing vacation with my family. Unfortunately, life isn't always easy. This is why this week I bring to you the hard truth about the dreaded family trip. This week's Out-Numbered lesson is:

The Five Fundamental Differences Between A Vacation and A Family Trip.

Fundamental Difference #1 – Kids

This distinction is quite possibly the most straightforward of all the fundamental differences. It’s really very simple to clarify. It is not humanly possible to take a vacation with kids. Kids are the only true barrier between having a good time and having a shitty time on a vacation. This is the basis for the argument between a vacation and a family trip. If you want to take a vacation, leave your kids at home. Otherwise call it what it is… a family trip.

Fundamental Difference #2 – Accommodations

If you aren’t sure of the difference yet, there are other tell tale signs to watch for. One of the most obvious clues is the accommodations or lack thereof. If you are staying in a hotel or a resort, you are more than likely on a vacation. When you walk into your hotel room take note of the bed. If it is of the king size variety and it has soft billowy sheets and pillows, then you are off to a good start. If you are not staying in a hotel or a resort and you are unsure of what to watch for, I find there are a few sure fire ways to tell that you are not on a vacation. For instance, if you are greeted at your destination by an extremely old security guard sitting in a tollbooth like structure and he has to grant you a pass to keep in your car for the duration of your stay, you are probably on a family trip. If you arrive at what you think might be your hotel and your mother in law is there to take your bags and show you to your room, you are probably on a family trip. Last but not least, if your bed turns into a couch during the day, you are most definitely on a family trip.

Fundamental Difference #3 – Food / Alcohol

This perhaps is the most deceptive of all the differences so be alert and don’t take anything for granted. One might confuse the need to eat food and consume alcohol with one’s desire to partake in the pleasure of dining on fine food and drinking liquor for recreational purposes. Alcohol is not mandatory but is a wonderfully relaxing way to unwind on your vacation. Additionally you don’t need to eat a set amount of meals in a day. You also don’t need to eat at set times of the day. While on vacation it is not uncommon to partake in the buffet breakfast on the beach or to sip a frozen strawberry daiquiri before noon. The distinction here is that as a consenting adult you are free to make the choices that lead you to your gluttonous indulgences. On a vacation you are not consciously aware of the time or the consequences of your actions, nor should you be. But on a family trip there are clearly three specific meals that need to be organized every day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are always crucial for a myriad of reasons. Aside from the obvious health concerns, the food break is also used as a time of rest and recharging for the adults. It is quite often the only time aside from the restroom that an adult has an opportunity to sit down and relax. The food is always terrible and fattening but more importantly it keeps the kids quiet and busy for a good twelve to sixteen minutes. Do not even attempt to venture beyond a Denny’s, Ponderosa, Burger King or Outback Steakhouse. French fries are an essential ingredient to a happy child and a successful meal. It is undoubtedly frowned upon to consume alcoholic beverages before dinnertime while on a family trip. It is mostly just irresponsible parenting but it is definitely mandatory to consume alcoholic beverages during dinnertime and well into the evening when on a family trip. This is not considered a pleasurable activity but more so as a medicinal technique to help numb the pain and suffering from the day’s activities. There are no frozen drinks on a family trip. The alcohol is almost always limited to light American beer or bottom shelf liquor in plastic bottles. L’Chaim!

Fundamental Difference #4 – Activities

This is a clear fundamental difference but not necessarily one that can make or break your time away. Every family is different and every couple has specific recreational preferences, so it’s hard to make the distinction. For me personally it’s simple. On vacation I like to do nothing. All I need is a beach, a drink with an umbrella and my ipod. Anything else to me is leaning toward a family trip. If you find yourself partaking in any of the following activities or frequenting any of the following destinations, then you are probably on a family trip: Shuffleboard, aquariums, amusement parks, walking, board games, zoos, restaurants with talking animals, gated senior citizen communities, rest stops, Publix, bingo, clubhouses, outlet malls, Legal Seafood, Marco Polo, strollers and baby changing stations.

Fundamental Difference #5 – Coitus (Sexual Intercourse)

Last but certainly not least is the ability to freely express your sexuality in a non-threatening, kid free environment. The statistics compiled throughout my years of married life are nothing less than staggering as it relates to sex on vacations as opposed to sex or lack thereof on family trips. The ironic thing to me is that, most likely engaging in sexual intercourse while on vacation almost always results in the eventual (nine months later) family trip. While on vacation with you r spouse sexual activity is almost like sport. There is an unwritten rule that dictates a couple must at least attempt with the best of intentions to have some sort of coitus relations no less than once each day. While on vacation only the following circumstances or a variation of can be used as an excuse for abstinence: Food poisoning and or diarrhea, alcohol poisoning and or being shit-faced, napping and in turn consequently sleeping through the night, having already performed the act of lovemaking more than once in any given day and finally, severe sunburn on the back or on the bottom of one’s feet. If you have sex less than once a day or perhaps not at all throughout the duration of a vacation then you are most probably on a family trip or at the very least, Out-Numbered...

Class dismissed!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shine On Me Crazy Neil Diamond...

In a bit of a tribute of my own, I'd like to make reference to this weekend's honoring of the great and incomparable Neil Diamond as this year's MusicCares Person of the Year.

Growing up a child of divorced parents, I often had to learn many of life's hard lessons on my own. My mother was a strong and nurturing woman but she could not completely take the place of my father who was not always around. Although my dad was only a phone call away it was never quite the same as having that face to face contact.

When I was a young boy around the age of seven years old, I remember my father introducing me to the sounds of Neil Diamond. I knew right away that his music made me feel different. There was a comfort that came with it unlike any other music I was accustomed to. It might have been the deep and soothing tone to his voice or it might have been the familiar and catchy melodies. But for one reason or another I always felt safe when it was playing in the background. The music of Neil Diamond would ultimately become the metaphoric soundtrack to my life. Now I am a father of two children. I truly understand how important it is to teach and guide young hearts and minds, especially in this unforgiving world. It's not always easy to say and do the right things. Speaking from experience I can honestly say that no parent can possibly be expected to make the right choices day in and day out for their kids. Sometimes children have to learn for themselves, however painful the lessons may be. It must have been a helpless feeling for my father to know he wasn't going to be there for me every step of the way. How could he have possibly left me to figure it all out on my own? But what if my father brought Neil Diamond into my life for a very specific purpose? Is it possible that he felt after he left the house and moved on with his life he knew that I would need some kind of teacher to help me solve whatever riddles life would throw my way? Did my father feel that by giving me the gift of Neil Diamond, his music would ultimately steer me down a higher path of wisdom and morality? I believe that my father made a very conscious choice back then. I believe that my father knew he could only trust one man to raise me through his lyrical lessons of life. Only one Solitary Man would be able to guide me out of those Brooklyn Roads and insure that I was Headed for the Future. God Only Knows what I would have done if I had to face Street Life on my own. As If he told the Story of My Life through his Song Sung Blue, Neil would Play Me his Beautiful Noise and ultimately show me how to turn on my Heartlight. I Got the Feelin' that I would Be in a much different place if it were not for Neil but I'm Alive and I'm a Believer. It is because of all of this that I truly believe Neil can Walk on Water. As a young man he comforted me through Love on the Rocks and eventually inspired me to ask my beautiful girlfriend to Marry Me. Since then she and I have climbed The Mountains of Love together and become A Modern Day Version of Love. Mothers and Daughters / Fathers and Sons will forever benefit from his wisdom. Dear Father I now understand it was A Matter of Love. All I Really Need is You to know, I Am I Said. If You Know What I Mean...

Every now and then I Reminisce For a While and Say Maybe my Dad was a High Rolling Man but he was able to Save Me on that September Morn when he first introduced me to my teacher, my mentor and my second father, Neil Diamond.

So America, I ask you all on this weekend of tribute to raise your glasses of Red, Red Wine and toast a man who has taught each and every one of us to be a Stargazer, Someone Who Believes in You and a man who has always done Right by You.

Here's to you Neil. Without you I would have certainly been Out-Numbered...

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Seven Dreaded Words…

It took place early this morning on the way to my real job. I was getting off of the train with the rest of the zombies, sheepishly plodding along the crowded platform in the thick sea of bulky winter coats and funny hats. As miserable as the cattle line appears, there is something slightly therapeutic about the monotony of it all. Walking along that train platform, making my way up toward the street is very familiar. The path is predictable. It’s all muscle memory for me at this point, like a good golf swing. Most of the time I have my ipod on, dictating a mood inspiration to my tired brain. At that hour, I need all the help I can get. One of the things I try to avoid at all costs is eye contact with another human being. You don’t want to look at anybody the wrong way, let alone start a conversation. Keep to yourself, stare straight ahead and keep walking. But sometimes shit happens. There are forces in this universe that you can’t control, unpredictable occurrences that one does not have the ability to foresee. I don’t remember much of the happening but I do remember feeling as if I were outside of my body, hovering above the scene, watching it all unfold in slow motion.

It must have happened when I reached into my pockets to retrieve my gloves. I always put my gloves on before I get to the street. It’s like clockwork. I do this for two reasons. 1) So I don’t have to touch anything skeevy on the subway with my bare hands. 2) Because it’s freezing outside and I want to give my hands a few minutes to warm up before they hit the cold air. The only difference today was that I hadn’t worn this particular jacket since I was alone for the weekend with my kids.

See previous post: Just Shoot Me...

I must have forgotten to clean out my pockets. Whatever the circumstances, it was out of my hands so to speak. As I reached into my pockets, I felt something tangled in my left glove. I immediately recognized the shape, texture and weight of the item. I didn’t even need to look at it. Damn it! How could I have been so careless? There are no second chances on the platform! There are no small mistakes out on the front lines! Before I could grasp at the falling object, it fell away from me and disappeared back into the crowd. Shit! Keep moving! Don’t look back. You know the rules. No eye contact. Face forward. Let it go. It’s gone. There’s nothing you can do now… But my kid will be crushed. She’s young. She doesn’t know heartache like this. She’s tough. She’ll get through this. You’ll think of something. Then all of a sudden, I heard the Seven Dreaded Words that no man ever expects to hear in his lifetime. The words that some have said turn even the strongest of men into weeping shadows of their former selves. The words pierced through me like one thousand needles in my belly.


I started to push my way through the crowd. Weaving in and out of bodies. More voices calling after me.


Faster and faster I raced. Making my way towards the stairs. Eyes focused directly in front of me. Looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt them gaining on me. Zombies shuffling and wailing right behind me.


Running as fast as I can. Cutting and dodging. I can see my opening. Daylight! I must take a different path. They’ll never catch me now. I mustn’t slow down.


I’m safe for now. I’ll just blend in. No one will remember the faceless man with the black gloves. I never looked back. I kept moving. I followed the rules. They will only remember the princess doll, lost forever, unclaimed, abandoned.

I will find another princess doll. For it was not one of a kind. I will bury this encounter deep within the darkest corners of my mind. My daughter will never know the tale of the faceless man with the black gloves. She would never understand the truth. She is too young to comprehend the rules. She will only know of a Daddy who found her lost princess doll in his pocket and insured it’s safe return home to her tiny innocent hands.

In this tired city filled with throngs of shouting zombies, one faceless man with black gloves will never look back and will always remain Out-Numbered…