Looking Back: Traditions

I was reading through some old Calvin and Hobbes strips recently when I came across the one that inspired this image (which I found at actionthisday.deviantart.com)

Like most Calvin and Hobbes strips, it was funny, but this one had a point too.

In the first panel of the strip, Calvin says, “The more you think about things, the weirder they seem.” The picture above shows you his example of this. But, if you, yourself, stop to think about it, you’ll probably be able to come up with your own.

The first one that came to my mind (while singing at someone’s party) was putting candles on birthday cakes. How did that start? Why is that a thing?

Was someone sitting around a long time ago thinking: “I made them this cake for their birthday, but it’s not enough. It seems kind of boring. What can I do to make this cake more exciting? I know! I’ll light it on fire!”

So, the party comes and they pour some liquor on top and light it to make a cake flambe. Then, as the flames start burning out of control, the guest of honor screams, “I really wish you’d put the fire out.” Everyone runs into the street. The fire brigade shows up, but it’s too late. Once the flames burn out, the house is nothing but stone and ash.

That’s when the town asshole, from the back of the crowd, chimes in, “It looks like your birthday wish came true.”

Then the town chandler walks up and says, “I think, I think, that candles would be easier to put out.” He’ll look around for a moment before asking, “Could that house be any more burnt down?”

(Sorry. I actually wasn’t planning the Friends joke, but according to Google, chandler is the technical term for someone who makes and sells candles and I couldn’t help myself.)

Ok, that may be a little over the top, but that’s how I picture it in my head. There’s probably a logical reason behind the start of putting candles on birthday cakes. Or, at least, one that made sense at the time it all started.

Take saying “God bless you,” when someone sneezes, for example. At the time this practice was invented, it was thought that a person only sneezed when they were trying to eject a demon that had invaded their body. So, you would say, “God bless you,” to encourage them in their fight against Satan. It makes sense when you use that logic.

Fast forward to now.

We know that sneezing has nothing to do with demons, yet a lot of people still say this when someone sneezes. Or they at least say the shortened, “Bless you,” when someone does it.

But, why? The reasoning behind the tradition no longer makes sense. Still, we continue to do it anyway.

I suppose the argument could be made that we keep it going because it’s seen as being polite. Personally, the only thing hearing someone say, “Bless you,” does for me is remind me that I sneezed. That’s something I didn’t need to be reminded of. I’m not rude about it. I will take the time (usually) to thank someone who says it to me. To be honest, though, I’d rather you didn’t say anything at all.

But, that’s just me.

What about you? Are there any things or traditions that you can think of that just don’t make sense once you stop to think about them?

The Body in My Backyard

When I came home from work yesterday, I had to bury a body in my backyard. Unfortunately, it was not the body of one of my enemies. No, it was my daughter’s fish, Kiki.

This was actually the second Kiki. We were able to find a good enough replacement for the first one before Baby E even noticed that something was seriously wrong. She noticed that Kiki suddenly looked a little smaller but my wife and I told her that Kiki had lost weight because she was sick. I don’t know if she bought that completely, but she went along with it.

This time, however, she saw Kiki 2.0 laying on its side, not moving, before we could try to hide it from her. I stuck the net in the tank and the fish moved away from it, but not much. Baby E was crying when I left for work. I tried to calm her down by telling her that Kiki was still moving, therefore was still alive. She knew, though. She knew Kiki wouldn’t last much longer.

Sure enough, Mrs. Revis texted me about halfway through my work day to tell me that Kiki was no longer with us and my daughter was inconsolable. I called and talked to her for a few minutes. It was heartbreaking.

“I miss Kiki!”

“I don’t want her to go!”

“We need to get another fish and name it Kiki too!”

It took a lot of work, but between us, Mrs. Revis and I calmed her down. Now the problem was what to do with Kiki. With the first Kiki, we flushed it down the toilet and Baby E was never the wiser. This time, she kind of flipped out when it was suggested. I said that maybe we should put Kiki in the river behind our house. She didn’t like that idea either. No, we had to bury Kiki in the backyard.

“That way Kiki will always be with us.”

So… that’s what I did.

She was more calm today. She was still sad about her fish dying, but she was able to talk about it without crying, which was good. I don’t know how much more of it I could take.

I can handle anything you throw at me, but not that. Watching my child weep uncontrollably is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. What made it worse is that there was nothing I could do or say that would make it ok that her pet had just died.

I don’t even want to think about what will happen the first time someone she knows passes away. If I couldn’t handle this, I sure as hell won’t be able to handle that.

Make Someone’s Day Interesting

This may surprise you, but I actually have a home phone. Yes, they still have those.

We first got it a while ago when my mom was babysitting Baby E. She was very forgetful about her cell phone and we wanted a way to be able to get in touch with her if she forgot it. Now that my mom is no longer babysitting, we thought about getting rid of it, but decided to keep it for two reasons. One, while not necessary, it will be helpful when my wife’s company starts letting her work from home. And, two, due to the bundle we got from our cable company, it’ll actually cost us more to have it turned off than to keep it.

Other than my wife and I, only 3 or 4 people have that number. All of them are related to us in some way. But, none of them ever call it. They always call our cell phones (when they actually take the time to call instead of text). So, our house phone only rings about once every other day or so.

“If nobody you know is calling it, then who is?” you ask.

The answer is simple: telemarketers.

Or, maybe they’re scammers. Hell, I don’t know. All I know is that they’re going to try to get money from me one way or another. And, I know that they’re irritating. Instead of getting mad and yelling at them, however, I thought I’d take a different approach and make the phone call memorable for them.

Last night, my phone rang and I answered it. A lot of these calls are recordings, so I didn’t say anything right away. That’s when the brief conversation happened.

Caller: Hello?

Me: Yeah, hi. I was hoping you could help me with my butt itch.

3 seconds of dead silence

Caller: Excuse me?

Me: Come on, you gotta do something. My butt itches really bad and I can’t get it to stop!

Caller: 3 seconds of muffled laughter

Me: HELP ME!!!!

CLICK…

I think next time I’m going to talk about having a burning sensation on my taint.

Author Interview

Since Matticus grilled me while I was visiting the Kingdom the other day, I thought it fitting that I returned the favor. In case you are unaware, he is one of four writers to contribute to this amazing new book.

You’ve all bought your copy, right?

What was that? You want me to shamelessly put the links up again? Can do. Here’s the link for the paperback edition. And here’s the link for the Kindle edition.

Now, onto the questions!

1. Why did you decide to write a story for this anthology?
I enjoyed the stories Revis shared on his blog from this world, and was intrigued by the idea helping build it out.
2. I think people will enjoy The Seven Sceptres because ____________.
Because of Rass and Justice Bringer and Inek and so many of the other characters. They bring the feels.
3. What author, or work of fiction, did you draw inspiration from while writing your part?
I’d say there is a touch of Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman in any bit of fantasy writing I do.
4. Besides writing, what do you do for fun?
I have two kids under five. I don’t do anything fun. Wait, wait, wait. That’s not fair. I played a very lively game of airport the other day, where I got to be the plane and my four year old was the air traffic controller. Exciting. I swear it was.
5. What’s one obscure fact about yourself that you don’t think enough people know about?
Obscure facts are usually obscure by choice… so, it might be hard to think of one I’d want more people to know about. But… giving it a go… I think more people should know that… that… that… I don’t have cable television anymore. Gave it up almost two years ago and have zero regrets.
6. I just added this so I’d have one more question than Matt. Does that make me childish?
No. But all the poop jokes do. Poop.

What’s wrong with poop jokes???

Deuces

My wife and I were sitting on the couch watching TV. From across the house, I hear my daughter yell, “Daddy, come here!”

I go to the kitchen, because that’s where it sounded like it came from, but she wasn’t there. I peeked around the corner and saw the bathroom light on. So, I looked in. There she was, sitting on the toilet. Was she out of tp? What else could it possibly be? I asked, “What, honey?”

 “What’s 2+2?”

That’s what she made me get up off the couch for? So she could ask me math questions while she was on the toilet? “Don’t worry about it, Baby E. Just finish what you’re doing.”

“Come on, daddy. (Grunt) What’s 2 + (Grunt) 2?”

“You don’t need to worry about what 2+2 is right now. The only number 2 you need to be worrying about is the one you’re dropping in the toilet.”

Baby E fixed me with a blank stare while I hear my wife laughing in the other room. Ah, the joys of parenthood. 

My WordPress Anniversary

I checked my notifications today and I got one that said it was my WordPress anniversary today. Seven years ago today I started this here blog. It honestly doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.

According to my site, I’ve published 707 posts during that seven years. That’s barely over a hundred posts a year. There are probably some bloggers out there that hit 700 posts in less than half that time. Hell, maybe the majority of other bloggers put up that many posts that quickly. I’m kind of on the outside as far as what the people around these parts do.

My 700 posts have been a mix of things. I’ve told you all stories. Sometimes they’re fiction. Sometimes they aren’t. I’ve told you about my beautiful daughter, Baby E, who just finished her last day of preschool on Thursday. The school celebrated it by having a picnic for everyone at the local park. She got to run around with her classmates one last time before going to kindergarten next year. It rained for two hours that day….the two hours we were down at the park. She was muddy and soaked by the time we got home.

I’ve told you Left 4 Dead, Star Wars, Spider-Man, and Superman stories.

I’ve told you stories about my own characters: Captain Procrastination, DICO, and other various tales such as Dead Set.

Lately though, I’ve been doing most of my writing offline. There are two books that I’ve been working on that are close to being done, but there’s still no set time on releasing them (As soon as I have something definitive for you, I’ll definitely post it). Those two projects are collaborations with other authors. The one I’m working on now is just me and I’ve found that working on a project alone means that I don’t write as fast as I do with others. Taking on projects with other writers forces me to focus more because I don’t want to let them down or make them wait on me.

Another reason I’m writing more offline is because I’ve been having trouble lately thinking of things to write about on this here blog. I used to have ideas pop into my head all the time. Now they’re few and far between. Maybe it’ll start coming back to me soon. Or maybe I’ll have to do another prompt post. I guess we’ll have to wait to see what the future holds.

To end this post, I’d just like to say thank you to anyone who has ever taken the time to read the words coming out of my fingers. There are a lot of blogs out there, many of which have much better writers than I, that you could spend your time on. The fact that you chose to spend yours with me is truly humbling. I’m grateful for every one of you. I wish you all a wonderful night