Tiger and Kate Plus Eight

(To the rhyme of eeny, meeny, miny, mo.)

What you hear just isn’t so:
Catch a tiger by its toe?
You see, that method’s bound to fail.
You catch a Tiger chasing tail.

My mother said to pick the very best one and HE is not it.

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Dear Ben Roethlisberger

Dear Ben Roethlisberger,

Phew. You dodged another bullet, brother. Good thing you’re a football player, because if baseball were your sport, you’d have struck out by now.

Strike one? Mere months after you won the first of your two Super Bowl rings, you had a serious motorcycle accident, only a year removed from fellow NFL-er Kellen Winslow Jr’s career-threatening motorcycle accident.

In the wake of Winslow’s mishap, Coach Bill Cowher lectured you about motorcycle safety, desperately hoping you’d not be the next NFL guy to find yourself in the same situation. But that’s exactly what happened. And you weren’t wearing a helmet. Which would have come in handy when your head shattered the windshield of a car. Which necessitated a seven-hour surgery. You were lucky it wasn’t worse.

Strike two? Your 2009 run in with a young lady in Lake Tahoe who accused you of sexual assault. Though details would ultimately emerge which called the accuser’s motives into question, and though you never faced any criminal charges stemming from the incident, you still found yourself in a bad position–one which could have easily been avoided if you had made better decisions.

Strike three occurred on March 5, 2010. After a long night of partying in Milledgeville, GA (really, Ben? Milledgeville?), you were accused of sexual assault yet again, this time by a twenty-year old women whom you followed into the dingy bathroom of a local bar. The dingy women’s bathroom of a local bar.

Unlike the last time, this claim seemed to have teeth. Just like last time, you exercised incredibly poor judgment.

A Latin proverb tells us that a smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

You do neither.

Which makes you a fool.

But good fortune does not discriminate against the dim-witted. On April 12  the alleged victim announced she no longer wished to pursue criminal charges, thanks to the circus of media attention she wished to avoid.

You’re a very lucky and impossibly dumb man, Ben. Yet just when I thought you couldn’t do anything to lower my estimation of your IQ, you show up at a press conference to read a one-minute apology looking like this:

image courtesy of CNN

Listen, Ben, I’m no PR expert, but it seems to me that the last thing a guy accused of sexual assault for the second time would want to do is show up at press conference looking exactly like Jesse James. You know who I’m talking about, don’t you? He’s the motorcycle guy (hey, you two should ride together sometime) who left his (pregnant) porn-star girlfriend when Sandra Bullock came calling only to cheat on the Hollywood A-lister with a woman whose tattoos make Allen Iverson’s look like they came from a box of Cracker Jacks.

If I had just been accused of forcing myself on a twenty-year old girl in the women’s bathroom of a seedy bar after a six-hour bender in Milledgeville, GA mere months after my last brush with sexual assault? I probably would’ve lost the greasy mullet and dialed up an Opie Taylor look.

And what’s with your disco shirt, Ben? I mean, seriously, is it the same one you wore clubbing in M-town that night? What? Is your “Long Live Ted Bundy” tee dirty or something? At least you didn’t wear this one:

image courtesy of scrapetv.com. or a frat house. not sure which.

Consider a suit next time. Or at least a button down.

Sorry for writing you out of the blue, but I wanted to reach out and offer you my two cents because you’re clearly floundering, big fella. Feel free to take my advice, or blow it off, whichever suits you.

OH. And just one more thing. If you ever do find yourself publicly apologizing for being involved in similar matters, would you mind reading your statement in front of someone else’s locker?

Because when trying to eradicate the imagery of sexual assault, it’s probably best to distance yourself from the word “Colon,” even if it is nothing more than a teammate’s last name printed neatly on a sign above his locker. Given the circumstances, it’s just too visceral.

But look on the bright side. At least his number isn’t 69.

Dear Elmo

Back when I liked you.

Dear Elmo,

You suck.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, before I had children — back when I was merely “Uncle John” — I actually liked you. A lot. You were a funny and irresistible little monster. Plus my niece and nephew LOVED you. Remember that holiday season when you were in such high demand? Well, I was one of the lucky ones who actually managed to get his hands on your red ass, chicken suit and all. I’ll never forget what a hit you were that year. The kids played with you for hours. But what I didn’t realize then was that their parents must have hated every single minute of it.

C getting her Elmo on.

No, my furry friend, I wouldn’t learn that lesson for quite some time. But learn it I would, when I finally became a dad. I will admit, though, even after spawning the tiny trio, it took a while for the disdain to set in, likely because the triplets adored you so. It’s hard for me to dislike anything which brings such joy to my children.

But it’s not impossible, my misguided monster. Hearing your little chicken-dance song 5,412 times certainly proved that.

“Elmo wants to be a chicken. Elmo wants to be a duck. Quack, quack, quack, quack.”

Well, which is it, Elmo? Do you wanna be a chicken or do you wanna be a duck? You’re quacking, so I assume you wanna be a duck, yet you’re dressed in a chicken costume, which would indicate a poultry preference. Not to mention the fact that the package you came in? It didn’t read Duck Dance Elmo.  It read CHICKEN Dance Elmo. So why in the duck are you quacking? You’re setting a horrendous example for my kids who could very well be acquiring a sense of entitlement by witnessing such behavior. I can hear it now. “I wanna do this. No, I wanna do that. No, I wanna do this. No, I wanna do that…”

As much as I loathed you in your chicken-dance format, there was a simple solution–hiding you from the light of day. Once I did that, I figured you were behind us. Until long-ass car rides came onto the scene. That’s right. Seven-hour drives to the beach with three fussy toddlers is quite an experience. To keep the peace we tried everything. But only one thing seemed to work. Your Best of Elmo DVD.

Oh the irony, Elmo. Hiding you at home brought me great peace. Yet, on the road, from a monitor behind my head and well outside my field of vision, you still managed to wreak a hell-like havoc on the vacation commutes I haplessly executed. Back in the good old days, three hours on the road meant we were in the middle of Spartanburg. But suddenly, three hours on the road meant that we were in the middle of the SEVENTH showing of your mind-numbing collection of skits.

Do you have to use that high-pitched voice, Elmo? Or rap. Do you have to rap? You’re about as gansta as an imaginary tea party. With princesses. And do you have to rock the third person all the time? Hmm? Because John Cave Osborne doesn’t like that. It bugs him. In fact, it bugs pretty much everyone and everything on this planet.

Telephone, Elmo. It’s Fran Dresher. She wants me to tell you that her laugh thinks you’re annoying.

Speaking of annoying, Elmo, Whoopie Goldberg? REALLY? What, Star Jones all booked up? And how ’bout your deal with Julia Roberts? Just hearing the two of you trying to scare each other is enough to make me wanna throw an apple at the monitor. Don’t worry, though. Should I ever lose control like that, no one would actually get hurt. Any apple thrown anywhere near Julia Roberts would do nothing more than harmlessly lodge itself into the top row of her preposterously large teeth.

Oh, and I think it’s nice that you gave the Unhappy Honker your last drawing, but if you needed at least one to display at the Monster Art Show, why in world did you give it to him?

I smell a dumb dumb.

And then everyone’s supposed to feel all sorry for you and return the dozens of drawings you just spent the better part of thirty minutes handing out as gifts? Again, not a great example. Back to the entitlement deal.

Yes, Elmo, you do suck. But, honestly? I’ve kinda enjoyed disliking you so. The acrimonious fire you’ve set within my soul has kept me warm for nearly eighteen months now. And that’s the real reason why I’m writing you.

Sadly, it seems the fire is going out. You see, A, B, and C no longer wonder where your chicken-dance doll is. They don’t enjoy your DVDs anymore, not even the one where you selfishly insist that every day be Christmas. (You’ve GOT to work on that entitlement thing.)


Sorry, Elmo, but you’re yesterday’s news. In fact, you’ve already been replaced. And wouldn’t you know it–you’ve been replaced by something else that’s red. And what’s more, much like you, your replacement emits high-pitched noises capable of giving me migraines. And truth be told? I’m kinda sad about it. My new foil, though similar to you in color and sound, will be nowhere near as fun for me to hate.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t hate it. Because, rest assured, I will.

And I can also promise you this. That damn thing will NEVER be allowed in the car. EVER.

So long, Elmo.


Move over Elmo, for this God-awful thing.


One of the Girls

Lovie and I ran into one of her childhood friends at a restaurant this past Sunday–a woman I’ll call Cindy. Though I don’t know her very well, I’m a big fan. So whenever I see her, I always chat her up. The handful of conversations we’ve had have all been pleasant ones, filled with rapid back-and-forths and sprinkled with clever one-liners. Our rapport is excellent.

“You’re a man of mystery,” she said to me, looking lovely in her Sunday best.

“Oh really?” I asked. “How so?”

“My mom is always asking about you. She wants to know what Lovie’s husband is all about. You know what I tell her?”

“What’s that?” I asked, preparing to greet the series of compliments that were sure to follow with the perfect mix of appreciation and modesty.

“I tell her what a girls’ guy you are.”

Record scratch.

“I’m sorry?” I said, wondering if I had misheard, or if she had actually meant ladies man or some other complimentary moniker.

“I tell her how fun you are to talk to,” she explained. “How it’s just like chatting with one of the girls.”

An awkward silence ensued.

“And that you’re, you know, a real girls’ guy.”

Once concerned Cindy’s comments would render me visibly self-smitten, I quickly downshifted into damage control, hoping only that my expression wouldn’t reveal the fact that my engine was revving with disbelief, if not disapproval.

“I would have gone with versatile,” I suggested, wondering if I had come off as rude as I had feared.

But who could have blamed me. Girls’ guy? I wonder if my camping buddies think I’m a girls’ guy. What about my bookie? Or the rough-and-tumble, blue-collar types who work at the countertop shop I co-own? Or how about Chris Chambliss, the close friend I section hike the Appalachian Trail with? During our annual, week-long trips–the ones spent trekking up and down the sides of mountains, carrying forty-pound backpacks eighteen miles a day–I wonder if he ever looks at me and thinks, you know, as much as I love hiking with Osborne, what I’d really like to do is clutch a hot cup of coffee, plop down a fluffy sofa, and watch The View with that son-of-a-bitch.

Cindy's coming over and we're gonna chat!

I have a question. Since when did being unafraid to banter back and forth with one of Lovie’s all-time faves at a cocktail party suddenly turn me into RuPaul? I’m many things. And easy to talk to is one of them. But does that really make me a candidate to tag along on a weekend trip to Atlanta for a two-day Nieman Marcus bender?

As I drove to work on Monday morning, I replayed the conversation in my head. Maybe I was wearing my sensitive panties, I thought. Perhaps I over-reacted. So I asked my co-worker and close friend Shane Rose.

“Now what did she say, again?”

“That I was a real girls’ guy.”

“Was she serious?”

“Yeah, I think.”

“Buddy,” he responded while shaking his head. “That sucks.”

So much for the sensitive-panties theory.

Next time I see Cindy at a party, I’ll remember to stay on the boys’ side of the room and talk about the stock market and auto parts while belching loudly and occasionally readjusting my gigantic package. I’ll only cross over to the girls’ side to inform Lovie that her cowboy needs a drink.

Bourbon, bitch.

Harsh? Maybe, but I have to be careful not to use too many words or else I might come off all chatty. Wouldn’t wanna give anyone the wrong idea.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go. The Bachelor just started.

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