7 Surefire Tips for a Successful Marriage

September 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Marital experts say a successful marriage is one where couples are unpredictable, spontaneous, and full of surprises. Last night, I told my wife Ryan Reynolds makes me feel tingly.

As a marriage veteran of almost 20 years, I have officially declared myself qualified to talk about what it takes to achieve marital success. My wife and I have worked diligently on our marriage.  Along the way, I’ve learned a few nuggets of wisdom I hope others find useful:

  1. Say Please: It’s amazing how effective adding “Please” to any phrase makes it easier to accept. “Please do the damn dishes” is soooo much easier to take then listening to your spouse bark, “Do the damn dishes.”
  1. Don’t Assume: The traditional saying goes, “Don’t assume because it makes an ass out of you and me. No. This is the WRONG reason why we shouldn’t assume. The real reason? By assuming, you are combining “Ass” with “Ume”. Ume is a delicious Japanese fruit. Never EVER equate this tasty Asian plum with ass.
  1. Say Thank You: When I do something nice for my wife, I want her to say, “Thank you” Not xie xie, merci, or gracias. Unlike the rest of the world, I am an American and only capable of speaking English. I will not understand your gibberish.
  1. Put the Marriage Ahead of the Kids: It’s easy to let the marital relationship suffer when kids require so much attention. My simple solution: order pizza delivery and put on a DVD. Take 4 pillows, align two end to end on one side of your bed. Repeat with the other pair. Cover said pillows with a blanket to make it look like you’re both taking a nap. Then go out on a date. The kids will be fine, you worry wart.
  1. Find Common Ground: When arguing, start on an issue that both of you can agree on, then work from there. By focusing on what you can agree on, you’ll have an easier time communicating, building consensus and increasing the odds of agreeing on some of the more touchy topics. For example, start off by agreeing how you both find split pea soup disgusting, then expand from there to eventually agree on how your mother-in-law has a big mouth.
  1. Fight Fair: Don’t believe the misconception that good couples never fight. Fighting is common and nothing to be ashamed about. The key thing is that you must fight fair. You have to have the right tools and lay down the ground rules. Make sure each spouse has proper fitting gloves, headgear, hire a qualified referee to supervise the bout, and be sure to have a portable defribillator on site. Then go at it! Ding! Ding! Ding!
  1. Communicate in Different Ways: Inevitably your spouse will make you so mad you’ll blurt something out. But you don’t want your spouse to actually hear and yell, “What did you say? Did you just call me a ‘beer-chuggin’ walrus?’ Say that to my face, dude, and I’ll punch you in the nuts.” Avoid a nasty confrontation with this delicate flower. Try muttering. By muttering, either she won’t hear, or she’ll just think you’re crazy. And if you must voice your anger, release your stress by screaming into a pillow. Just remember to breathe or you could accidentally smother yourself (depending on your frustration level, this might be a good thing).

That’s it, by following these simple seven rules, you’ll soon be on your way to enjoying marital bliss.

You’re welcome.

Boys Are from Mars, too

September 2, 2013 4 comments

Being born in the USA, the only Chinese I knew as a kid were the essentials: “Please”, “Thank you”, “money”, “cake”, and “Don’t hug me like that, Uncle Chen, that’s not appropriate touching.”

While the above words and phrases were useful for getting by at a restaurant or out of an uncomfortable embrace from a relative with wandering hands, my inability to speak fluent Chinese has always been a handicap. Never was this more evident than at the dinner table.

Whenever my parents had to talk about something they didn’t want us kids to understand, they’d speak in Chinese. Many a meal occurred where my folks engaged in lengthy conversations while we kids ignorantly sat and ate. It wasn’t until I took 3 years of Chinese in college that, looking back, I realized what my folks were talking about.  I remember one memory in particular.

We were eating dinner on a quiet Saturday evening. After a full day of sunburned play, we kids were happy to be indoors, safe from a surprise summer storm. My mom had spent the afternoon working on the meal, and it was delicious.

During the dinner, Dad nudged Mom, pointed to me with his chopsticks, and said in Chinese, “that boy’s not right.”

“I know,” Mom murmured without looking up from her bowl, “he worries me too.”

At 11 years old, I was obsessed with astronomy.  I had suspended a solar system from my bedroom ceiling and spent hours contemplating whether life existed on other planets. I was determined to communicate with these extra-terrestrials.

“Why’s he wearing that thing on his head?” Dad asked.

My Kommunicator 2000 was a piece of high-tech wizardry built by hand. It was finely-tuned, designed  to capture any alien communication that might be travelling through space. In a wearable 2 foot tall hat, it had three antennas sticking out. It was made out of cardboard, misshapen coat hangers, tape, and lot and lots of aluminum foil.

“Damn kid’s going to get zapped by lightning in the storm. The hell’s wrong with him?” said Dad.

“I know, I know,” Mom said. “Grandma calls him a Chinese Helen Keller.”

“Wait, wait. My mom said that?!´ asked Dad.

“Yes. YOUR mom said that.”

“Wow, that’s offensive…”

“I know.”

“…to Helen Keller,” continued Dad.

“Exactly.”

They both burst out laughing and continued without stopping for a full 30 seconds. We kids kept eating. They eventually calmed down.

“Why does he have tennis balls hanging from his ceiling?” asked Dad.

“They’re supposed to be planets in our solar system.”

“But none of them are painted!? They’re all still green.”

“He refuses to paint them,” Mom said.

“And there are 20 of them. So he thinks our solar system is made up of 20 Earths?” asked Dad.

“That’s what I wondered. I asked him, ‘Where’s Mars? Where’s Venus? Where’s Uranus?’ He just proudly pointed to his butt.”

“Seriously? What planet does he live on?” said Dad. “Damn. I guess that rules out Cal Tech.”

“Please,” lamented Mom.  “I ruled Cal Tech out long ago, after I clocked him spending 1 hour playing with his belly button lint.”

“But didn’t you say he would one day grow up to be an astronaut?”

“Yes, but that’s only because when he was small, he’d be so engrossed in his play. He absolutely refused to take a break to pee or poop. He’d go right in his pants. Just like an astronaut. I was being sarcastic.”

“Damn,” cursed Dad again.  He sighed loudly. Mom also sighed and tried to wave off her disappointment.

Dad grabbed one of my antennas as if it were a microphone and continued in Chinese: “Hello? Hello? Hey ET, when you grow up, don’t phone home.”

Mom cracked up again. Dad followed, and we kids cluelessly joined in the infectious laughter.

After 3 minutes of uninterrupted laughter, I asked smiling, “What?! Dad! What? What’s so funny? Tell us! Tell us, Daddy!”

We quieted down, Dad wiped his eyes and said in English, “Oh it’s nothing. We were just talking about real estate and how now’s a good time to buy.”

Muscle Milk Tea Boba

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment

I was reluctantly at my favorite Boba place today trying to cool off from the heat. I say reluctantly because while I love this joint’s Rose milk tea boba, the ordering experience is excruciating.

Every time I visit, there’s always a new weird cashier. The last cashier had a lazy eye that watched me everywhere, no matter where I stood. I swear it had its own brain. Hopefully this time would be different. When it was my turn, I approached the most gargantuan ripped cashier I’d ever seen.

Me: I’ll have the rose milk tea. Medium.

Gigantic Boba Dude: One medium Rose milk tea. You want any Boba? Jello? Any add-ons?

Me: No, no Boba. Just milk tea.

GBD: You sure you don’t want any add-ons.

Me: I’m sure.

He rang me up

GBD: Ok, One Rose muscle milk tea. That’s $3.95

Me: What? Rose muscle milk tea? What’s that?

GBD: It’s a supplement, feeds your muscles. You should get it.

I scanned the menu, trying to locate this option.

Me: Where is that on the menu? I don’t even see that.

GBD: It’s my own special add-on. I only offer it to my Sigma Nu bros and scrawny guys who look like they need it.

He pointed to a beat-up faded Nike gym bag on the floor overflowing with half-filled bottles of body building supplements. One bottle intermittently glowed green. Rummaging through it, he pulled out a 30 lb dumbbell and began doing curls.

GBD: I’m gonna squeeze out a few while you’re checking out the menu.

Me: Uh, sure whatever.

GBD: I got everything. (grunt) Muscle Milk. (grunt) Krazee Juice. El Gigante. (grunt) Tiger’s Junk. Whatever you want.

He put the dumbbell down, wiped his brow and rested his arm on the register. His tight T-shirt’s short sleeve lifted to reveal a badly inked tattoo for the Chinese character “fire”.

GBD: Whew, only 29 more sets to go.

Me: Is the owner of this place ok with what you’re doing?

GBD: Oh, she’s totally cool with it.

He motioned to an elderly woman sitting in the back sleeping.  This all seemed shaky.

GBD: So any other add-ons?

Me: No, I don’t want any add-ons. No Muscle Milk. Tiger’s Junk, Go-Go Juice, Monkey Nads. Whatever. I don’t want it.

GBD: Monkey Nads? Never heard of it. Sounds good. How can I get some? Does it help with your pecs?

He began flexing his pecs in his chest, alternating between left and right. It was simultaneously grotesque and mesmerizing. I stared for several seconds and then snapped out of my hypnotic state.

Me: No, I, I just made it up. Y’know what, forget it. I’ll just go with a coffee. Gimme a small Iced Coffee.

GBD: No prob, Bro.

Good.  A simple iced coffee can’t be screwed up, I thought.

GBD: You want any add-ons? I got Monster, Rockstar, Bonk-No-More, Hyperfeine with 100x the caffeine of coffee. It makes 5 Hour Energy drink look like Ambien. How about Run-Forest-Run!? It gives you a 24 hour runner’s high. But if you add it, walk around with a pillow, the crash is short but a little intense.

I sighed and shook my head.

GBD: Ok, Ok. Got it, no add-ons, nada Compadre! Just coffee! Ok, I got special beans crapped out by an Indonesian Lemur. Super smooth!  How ‘bout it?

I turned around and headed for the door. He called out:

GBD: Hey Bro, I’m teaching a class at the gym. It’s exactly like the Insanity workout on TV but with lots of swearing and cussing. Called “Profanity”. Check it out!

10 Things Not to Sell at Garage Sales

August 18, 2013 4 comments

My Black Friday garage sale was not a success. Maybe because my 7AM door buster special was an actual busted door.

I am an expert at garage sales. Love finding that gem of a deal at prices as low as 99% off list. Recent example: Almost new baby swing chair for $10. Originally $100. SCORE!

But in my quest to find that treasure of a deal, I’ve come across a number of lame garage sales. Because of this, I present this list for Sellers:

  1. Don’t sell junk. Especially things that are broken. No one wants it, even the Salvation Army will laugh in your face and say, “We don’t want that crap”. Just trash it.
  2. If it’s tattered, don’t sell it. Applies to shirts, jackets, stuffed animals, blankets, etc. Does NOT apply to 18th century American flags.
  3. Underwear or lingerie. Enough said. Wait no, let me say more: Disgusting. Hell no. Think-again-Marketing-Genius.
  4. Board games with missing pieces. How can you play Monopoly without the top hat? Where is the card for Park Place? Where are the dice? Boo. Forced me to take down the pair of dice from my car rear-view mirror just so my kids could play the damn game.
  5. Overpriced items: You seriously think you can sell books because they are 50% off? Or a popcorn maker for $15 just because you paid $40? Hold on, let me call 911 because I’m about to die laughing.
  6. Used coffee mugs: Almost as bad as lingerie. Would someone really want to buy mugs with coffee stains on the inside and lipstick marks on the rim?  Sell it to blind people you say? Oh, that’s cold.
  7. Your collection of porn. Dude, families go to garage sales. I don’t want my kids rummaging through your back issues of Hot Librarians.
  8. McDonald’s Star Wars collectables: No one wants the movie tie-in toys you, an adult, collected by buying up all the Happy Meals. There’s a reason Happy Meals are for kids, Lord Vader.
  9. Half-used toiletries. Yes, I have seen open and used Head and Shoulder bottles being sold for $.50. Ratchets up the Eeeewwww factor.
  10. Your kid’s trophies. First, who wants a 2nd place regional Junior Ice Dancing trophy that has your kid’s name on it? Second, your kid won this and you’re selling it? And you wonder why she’s in therapy with Daddy issues? If you must throw it out, wait until she’s in college and then do it “by accident” when you were doing some “spring cleaning”.
  11. Old technology: Ladies respect an ambitious guy talking on a cell phone cutting a deal and looking busy. Ladies don’t respect a guy talking on a cell phone when it’s the size of a brick with a foot-long antennae sticking out of it. See Rule #1.

Number 11 was a bonus because after visiting garage sales all weekend, I’m in a giving mood.

Have a great weekend.

Slamming the Door Gently

August 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Dear Sweet Baby,

First off, I love you so much. You are a new addition to our family, and we cherish you.

Secondly, you can be a true pain in the a**.

I mean that.  Literally and figuratively.

Literally because the amount of time and energy you require is so overwhelming. Seriously, the only time I have a moment to myself to relax and escape all the insanity is when I go poop. Sometimes I stay on the toilet too long. Then my hemorrhoids flare up. Bad for Daddy.

Figuratively because your arrival has completely turned our lives and schedules upside-down. Everything revolves around you, the feeding, burping, soothing, changing of diapers, pumping, napping schedules… it’s endless. There is no more daddy, mommy, or sibling time. Just YouTime.

The stress grinds on Mama and Daddy and we fight. And you’ve even changed how we do that. Before I’d yell some final words at Mama, storm across the room, and slam the door.

BOOM!

Satisfying. Very satisfying.

Now, I can’t even do that. Because it’ll wake you from your nap.

So we argue in whispers and when I’m ready to make my Grand Exit, I grab and pull the door knob forcefully. But just-before-the-door hits the door jamb, I whirl around to stop it before it makes a loud noise. (Yeah, I can do that because I’m fast, and have manly athletic prowess.)

Yep. You’ve changed our lives.

As you grow up, never forget point #1. And when I’m old and decrepit, I’ll be sure to remind you of #2.

Love, Daddy

Growing Old Is Not So Great

August 15, 2013 Leave a comment

You know you’re getting old when you spend less time thinking about sex and more time thinking about carbs.

Oooooh… Tiramisu.

I was at the supermarket with my wife when she slapped me on the head. “Are you looking at that girl?!” she asked, pointing to an attractive PYT standing in the dessert section.

“No Babe, I was not staring at her. I was ogling the banana cream pie.”

“Oh.”

And marital bliss resumed.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but all of a sudden I turned old.  I went from looking in the mirror and thinking, Damn, I look good! to Damn, I look goowhere the heck did all these wrinkles come from!?!

Looking back, I now see the signs of aging.  I started putting on the pounds. Reader’s Digest large print edition suddenly made sense.  I began talking less/muttering more.  When channel surfing, I’d linger on Lawrence Welk reruns. I started celebrating good news by taking a nap instead of hitting Happy Hour: “Honey! I got the raise! Isn’t that great? I’m gonna go lie down for a bit.”

Subtle and slightly depressing signs.

Nonetheless, I’ve decided that it’s ok– a part of life. While I may not embrace aging, I’ll work with it. See where it takes me.

In the meantime, I’ve never ever considered a ménage-a-trois. But if it involves me, my wife, and a dessert, I’m totally there.

Maybe We Should Just Say “Yay!”

August 9, 2013 Leave a comment

My friend has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, aka ‘brittle bone disease’. Simple bumps for most people can have devastating consequences for him. Whenever we do the fist bump with exploding fist, his fist actually explodes.

After he stops screaming from the intense pain, we just look at each other and start cracking up.  He raises his mangled hand and fingers, and we start vigorously high-fiving.

Then he passes out.

Good times.

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