Married to Max

Is it me, or was Lovie channeling a subtle Max Headroom vibe this morning?

lovie

max headroom

Or maybe it’s just that Max has always given off a Lovie vibe?

Tough to say. Anyone’s guess, really.

Control Issues

okay, you guys start with "twuck," and i'll chime in with bus. got it?

We’ve officially reached the echo stage at our house. You know, when at least one phrase from every sentence spoken gets repeated by a toddler? While that might get a touch old fairly quickly, it’s nowhere near as bad as hearing the triplets repeat their own words. Incessantly. Which is what’s been happening in the car lately.

All three of them were going nuts this past Saturday. “Show, Daddy, show. Show, Daddy, show. Show, Daddy, show.”

No. They’re not repeating their favorite Ben Roethlisberger pick-up lines. They’re demanding to watch a video in the car while we run our Saturday errands. (Pongo and Perdita. We’re off Elmo.)

At least that demand could be met, which pleased our little associates and quickly restored the peace.

For a little bit.

“Twuck,” said B.

“What’s that, buddy?” I asked.

“Twuck.”

“I don’t see any trucks.”

“Twuck.” This time it was A.

“Twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck” they began chanting in unison, each iteration louder than the previous one.

They wanted to see trucks, which put Lovie and me at the mercy of the truck Gods. Though they’re money on the interstate, they’re shaky at best on windy neighborhood roads. Which is where we were at the time. Which meant we were in for several minutes of “twuck” talk.

At least C isn’t big on trucks. She’s more of a…

“Bus.”

…bus kinda gal.

“Bus,” she said again. “Bus, bus, bus, bus, bus!”

Allow me to breakdown the situation for you. Three toddlers, wanting to see two different things, doing one annoying thing to drive home their point. Lovie and I were frustrated to say the least. Why? Because we weren’t in control of the situation.

From the very first day we brought our little guys home, one thing was clear. If Lovie and I didn’t establish control quickly, it’d be the tail that wagged the dog around our house for eighteen years. So we set a strict schedule for the triplets from day one. We seldom deviate from it. Nap times, feed times, bath times, and bed times are all set in stone. We got started early on the potty, successfully training all three shortly after their second birthday. We always make them clean up after themselves, we hardly ever pick them up and carry them, and we’re not afraid to put them in time out. Please and thank you are a must, as is sir and ma’am.

Old shool? Maybe. Instill-respectful-order school? You bet.

We’re pretty damn strict. And people can say whatever they want about it, but unless we want our family life to resemble a methodically moving train wreck riddled with endless fussing and distracting drama, we have to put the hammer down. And we like our end result. Because of our philosophy, the trips are down by seven each night, allowing us to spend some quality time with Pookie at the end of our day without the presence of an echo. And Pookie needs that. Come to think of it, her parents need that, too! And we get it, so long as we have control of the situation.

Which is what made our Saturday drive all the more difficult. We had no control of the situation. Not only could we not physically stop A, B, and C from their chanting, we also couldn’t magically make buses and trucks appear while driving down Northshore to Kroger. So their simultaneous, bi-gender, vehicular-related meltdowns were difficult to endure.

Twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck.

Bus bus. Bus bus.

Twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck.

Bus bus. Bus bus.

After about ten minutes? Let’s just say we were over all of the twuckin’ bussy-ness. If Lovie and I could have produced a gaggle of eighteen-wheelers, each pulling a trailer of buses, we would have done so in a New York minute. Because we needed to get control of the situation, and that was impossible because…well…

Because our triplets were trying to do the same thing. That is, they, too, wanted control of the situation. So it was a battle of wills. We wanted order. They wanted trucks and buses. In this instance, neither side won.

And we’re okay with that. If we keep it up, we’ll win our fair share. And if we win our fair share, I have a feeling that the triplets and Pookie will be winners, too.

The Language of Lovie

lovely lovie

As most of you know, I have a new book out, Tales from the Trips. Virtually every reader I’ve heard from seems to agree on one thing.

Lovie steals the show.

So what is it about Lovie that’s so captivating, you may wonder? Simple. It’s how well she deals with all of my nonsense. An exchange we had just two days ago is a perfect example.

“You’re a jerk,” she said, half kidding and half not. (Why I was being called a jerk is anyone’s guess, but I can assure you it was probably warranted.)

“A jerk?” I asked.

“Yep. A jerk. If people want to find you on the internet, they just type in www.jerk.”

“Which domain? Dot com? Dot edu? Dot org, maybe?” I asked.

“Dot dick, honey. Dot dick.”

No wonder my readers love her, so. Today, I thought it’d be fun to post five of my favorite Lovie–JCO exchanges from the book. Since I’m too lazy to type, I’ll be cutting and pasting, which means our gal Lovie will be going by her real name, Caroline.

* * *

5.) With Caroline in the hospital on bed rest, the task of getting Pookie ready for school each day was left to yours truly. I called my wife in a panic the night before the first of those mornings for some pointers. Here’s how it went down:

“What am I gonna do tomorrow?” I asked her.

“You’re going to get her ready for school.”

“Obviously, but what do I do?”

“Well, for starters, you have to make her take her reflux medicine and fix her breakfast.”

“I can handle the medicine, but what should I fix her for breakfast? She won’t eat cereal, will she?”

“No. You’ll have to make her something. Go to the refrigerator.”

“Refrigerator?”

“Yeah, you know, that door in our kitchen that you open when you want to have a snack?”

“Oh. I thought that was the pantry,” I said.

“Do you want my help or not?” asked Caroline.

“I need your help.”

“Then shut up and open up the fridge.”

* * *

4. ) Caroline’s, um, constructive criticism of Briggs, the dog I owned long before she and I were ever an item:

“Honey,” Caroline began another call to me, “your dumbass dog has struck again.”

“Oh no,” I exclaimed. Even I was getting sick of his shenanigans. “What was it this time? A toy? A shirt?”

“No. He’s on to much messier and disgusting things now. He dug into the garbage and chewed up a full bag of…”

No. No. Please no. Not a bag of…

“DIRTY DIAPERS! A whole day’s worth. Not only that, he must have eaten some because he’s thrown up on the floor. And I’ve got news for you. IT DOESN’T SMELL LIKE THROW UP! IT SMELLS LIKE SOMETHING ELSE!”

“Well, honey,” I answered, “you always said he had shit for brains. I suppose it was only a matter of time before he started having shit for lunch.”

* * *

3.) Don’t mess with Caroline when it comes to organizing for a trip:

“Honey,” I complained, “there’s no room for my bag.”

“Here,” she said, handing me three plastic grocery sacks.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Your luggage,” she replied. “Unpack your bag and put only the stuff you need in these. We’ll find a place for them.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

Wrong. My allotted luggage was squeezed under the front seat.

* * *

2.) Caroline is quite possibly the world’s worst driver. But that doesn’t stop her from fighting back:

“Caroline!” I screamed as she narrowly missed rear-ending a car that was slowing down to turn right. “See that blinking light down there on the right side of that man’s car? It’s called a turn signal. Do you know what it indicates? It indicates that he’s about to turn right, which means he’ll have to slow down. That indicates that you should probably slow down, too.”

“Honey,” she said.

“What?”

“Do you know what this indicates?” she asked while slowly extending her middle finger.

* * *

the road trips usually end here.

#1) Quite possibly my favorite exchange of all-time, another road-trip gem:

“We need to stop for lunch between eleven-thirty and twelve,” said Caroline.

The effective traveling rule of putting off all stops for as long as possible made the answer an obvious one. “Great,” I said. “We’ll stop at twelve.”

“But everyone in America will be eating then,” complained Caroline.

“Well,” I said, “I guess we’ll be eating with them. We’ll call it America’s Lunch.”

“You’re America’s Jackass,” she answered.

We stopped at eleven-thirty.

* * *

So there you have it. Five of my favorite Lovie–JCO exchanges from Tales from the Trips–but, remember, those are only five. There are many, many more. If you’d like to read them, please buy the book. You can get it on Amazon or you can also buy direct from the publisher. Those copies will be autographed.

But come to think of it, maybe I should just have my wife sign them.

After all, Lovie steals the show.

The Driving Force

This blog is proud to take part in Fatherhood Friday, a little something created by the great people over at dad-blogs. To learn more about this wonderful community, click here.

We all know that I love Lovie. And how could I not? There’s just something about her. Anyone who knows Lovie would agree that she possesses an indescribable sweetness, channeled by a heart that is both pure and true. Seldom does a bad thought ever cross her mind. She’s a positive force who is filled with such earnest and good intentions that people can actually sense it. Animals, too. Birds stop chirping and squirrels take a break from their nuts just to catch a glimpse of my beautiful wife whenever she happens upon them.

Knoxville, we have a problem.

But such inter-species tranquility does not mean that my wife is without flaw. One of them? She’s among the worst drivers in the history of organized driving. Honestly? It’s astonishing. And the fact that she drives a big-ass Denali loaded with the tumultuous trio and an eight-year-old doesn’t exactly help. For not only is she driving a vehicle that rivals a Sherman Tank in bulk, but she’s also doing so while handing out passies to toddlers, helping Pookie with her homework, and rocking the occasional call on her cell–all over the deafening din emitted by that red, furry anti-Christ, Elmo, along with his gang of equally annoying and off-key-singing buddies.

If only Lovie’s enormous vehicle had an outer body constructed of nerf, and the driver/passenger seats were enclosed by a NASCAR-designed roll cage, maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t worry each and every time she hits the road. But I do worry, and so should you. So allow me to impart the following advice to those who share our local roads.

If you see Lovie barreling down the street, you must remember two things. First, it’s usually parking lots which trip her up, so you’re probably okay. But second, remain calm, and, as if Lovie were a firetruck, slow down and pull over as far as you can to the right until Lovie has lumbered on by. Then and only then should you continue along your merry way.

But if you’re in a parking lot, God help you. For like a drunk cat with no whiskers, little Lovie, in her colossal car, has no dependable spacial-sensing mechanism–her mere judgment, woefully inadequate. As such, she is not afraid to feel her way through a tight spot with a bump here or a nudge there. While not exactly life-threatening, Lovie’s parking lot shenanigans are the stuff of legend, most of said shenanigans exacting a toll just below our deductible, ultimately rendering our insurance impotent and our wallets a few-hundred dollars lighter.

But she is getting better. In fact, it’s been quite a while since her last parking-lot escapade. Until the other day, that is, when she came home with a little token of appreciation she had received from a fellow motorist.

“Can you believe this woman?” Lovie asked indignantly while showing me the note.

Um, what rhymes with “guess?”

I’m in a tough spot, here. Common sense (along with past empirical evidence) strongly suggests that Lovie parked poorly. But chivalry demands that I defend her honor.

SO, Ms. Note Writer–in the unlikely event you are reading this modest effort, please know that I am none too pleased with the sarcastic and ugly message that you left Lovie. Number one, who has the time to write such nasty remarks in the middle of a busy day? Next time you’re out, may I suggest you swing by Walmart and pick up a life? OH, and you might wanna fill that prescription for the anti-passive-aggressive meds your head doctor has undoubtedly provided you.

And number two, what we’ve got here in Lovie is really nothing more than a garden-variety shitty driver. Was she a little close to you? I’m quite certain she was. Was it difficult to get your kids in? Undoubtedly. But is that any reason to lose your marbles? Might I suggest, instead, that next time you be more prepared? A giant tub of Vaseline and an extra-large shoe horn would have made your child-loading riddle much easier to solve.

Sincerely,

The Man Who Still Loves Lovie.

PS–perhaps you’ll take solace in knowing that your communiqué has made our Wall of Shame alongside another embarassing piece of documentation.

Wall of Shame: JCO 1, Lovie 1

There. That should do it.

I Love Lovie

me and my lovely girlfriend, Lovie, 2005.

Many of you may be surprised to learn that Lovie and I have known each other since the Carter administration. We went to school together from 1980 until 1987 when Lovie, a year ahead of me, graduated and went off to college. For the better part of those seven years, I had a crush on her. But I also considered her to be out of my league, so during our school days, I remained nothing more than a distant and respectful admirer.

Me and Lovie on her 40th

In 1988, it was my turn to graduate. I went to college at Vanderbilt, then, after earning my degree, I moved to Seattle to begin a ten-year career in the world of finance. Aside from a wedding we both attended in Telluride, Lovie and I would not spend any significant time together for nearly seventeen years. When our paths finally crossed again, Lovie was a single mom going through the final stages of a divorce, and I was a single moron, carrying on a dysfunctional relationship with someone ten years my junior.

I fell for Lovie almost immediately. Two years later, we were married.

With Valentine’s Day mere hours away, I’m giving Lovie a special shout-out by posting a poem I wrote for her, a poem that I read to her on March 3, 2006–a poem that served as my proposal to her.

Thank God she said yes. Why? Because I love Lovie. And here’s what I read to her on that cold night nearly four years ago to prove it…

*  *  *

this life of mine has taken turns and proved to have its spots
where things got tough and beat me up and left me with some thoughts.
like could i ever hope to find a more fulfilling place?
upon my quest, i prayed for strength, but all i lacked was faith.

but not the faith i have in God–His grace provides me that.
but faith that love like yours exists was something that i lacked.
eventually i told myself to thank my lucky stars
though deep inside, my soul believed no love would fill my heart.

and then you finally crossed my path as pretty as the days
of saddle oxfords, pleaded skirts, and all your high-school ways.
at first i held my guard up high to keep my heart on track.
because you seemed too good to me to ever love me back.

but now it’s finally safe to say my skeptic thoughts were wrong.
your love has come into my heart to sing the sweetest song.
because i thought i’d never find a girl as pure as you,
it’s time for you to hear the things i promise God i’ll do.

i promise God to hold you dear and keep you safe and sound,
to love both you and pookie, too, like nothing else around.
to put you two where you belong, the center of my life.
to make you live inside my heart as daughter and as wife.

to signify this vow i’ll make, i ask you now to have
this special, priceless, brilliant ring  your mom got from your dad.
i’ll love you true, and promise you the pain is all behind.
so marry me, my baby, please, my lovie, caroline.

jco
03.03.06
cfo

And Briggs Makes Seven

“Your dumbass dog is at it, again,” announced my pregnant wife one night early on in our marriage. Lovie was referring to my faithful chocolate lab, Briggs.

What, exactly, was Briggs doing, you ask? Slowly, steadily, and silently releasing dense clouds of noxious gas. Pockets of reprehensibility so flagrant as to even be equipped with their own (and noticeably different) barometric pressures. Tiny, malodorous weather fronts of filth which were greatly disgusting my lovely wife. I looked over at my hound only to find him sprawled out on his bed, his mouth eerily agape, snoring like a bear.

Birggs

That’s right. Briggs was sleep-farting.

And he’s got other bad habits, too. Like going certifiably ape-shit each and every time an outsider bursts our domestic bubble. A knock at the back door, the ringing of the front doorbell, or even a barely audible conversation between two women taking a leisurely neighborhood stroll is enough to send Briggs into a frenzy. A full-blown gallop ensues, throw rugs helplessly askew in his wake, Briggs sliding out of control with each and every change of direction his dash requires, eventually culminating in his breathless arrival at wherever the action is, panting with desperate impatience while shamelessly rocking a solid inch-and-a-half of pink lipstick as he awaits our visitor with… um… excitement.

As soon as said visitor enters the house, Briggs’ll make a bee-line for the toy bin and deftly snatch whatever’s on top, before galloping back to his new friend with the welcome gift he’s selected, wrapped thoughtfully in his slobber. He’ll then circle our dumbfounded (and slightly frightened) guest with speeds that conjure up images of the Tasmanian Devil until he feels it’s just the right time to engage in a little world-class crotch-sniffing.

And I haven’t even touched upon his legendary dirty-diaper escapades. Briggs makes Marley look like one of Paris Hilton’s lap dogs. So the fact that Lovie was having a hard time adjusting to him early in our marriage wasn’t surprising at all. What was surprising, however, was that not only did she eventually accept Briggs, she also ended up liking him.

Pookie and Briggs during one of his calmer moments.

Briggs’s birthday is in December, and as each holiday season approaches, Lovie and I wonder if enough dog years have passed to notice a decrease in his high energy level. This year was sure to be the one, right? After all, he’d be seven. But, if anything, his energy level was even higher thanks to our broken invisible fence. Without it, we couldn’t even let Briggs go outside to blow off some steam without fearing he’d leave our property, barge into an unsuspecting neighbor’s house, and start dry humping their four-year-old.

So his outside activities were limited to bathroom-related engagements only. At least that was the plan. The actual outcome was that Briggs made countless escapes. No fewer than eight different households came to our assistance with either a phone call alerting us of his whereabouts, or in two cases, front-door delivery.

Everyone was very nice about it, but Lovie and I were all too aware that we had likely become “those neighbors.” In our minds, three two-year olds is pretty much a good enough excuse to let anything slide a little bit. But it’s not like others realize what we’re up against. (except for one family–shout out to the Huneycutts) So I was always embarrassed whenever we got one of the dreaded phone calls and often turned to humor as a way of masking my shame.

Ring-ring.

“Hello.”

“John, it’s Anne. I think I see Briggs across the street in the Baker’s yard. He’s sniffing around their nativity scene. He’s right beside the three wise men.”

“Well, at least it’s comforting to know that he’s keeping good company, right Anne?”

We finally got the fence fixed in January. But our relentless brown hero has grown so enchanted with his neighborhood jaunts that he’s decided such strolls are easily worth the jolt of electricity he’ll endure as he hurdles through our invisible barrier to embark upon one. So we’ve been keeping him inside again, unless, of course, it’s time for him to use the bathroom. But having been burned in the past, we’re often skeptical when he whines as if he needs to go. Ever the clever hound, he’s taken to offering up undeniable proof of his plight via large piles discretely left beside the side door.

And that’s where we are right now. At just two and a half years old, all three of our little guys are going poo poo in the potty while their dog is droppin’ the deuce on the kitchen floor. I wonder if we could somehow teach Briggs how to use the toilet.

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