Do NOT do any yard work until you read this!

Please take a moment to read about the nightmare I recently went through at the hands of an alien invader no bigger than my fingernail….it may just save your life, and the lives of those you care about.

I was outside blowing leaves with one of those backpack blowers. You may be asking why I am just now blowing leaves in April, but it’s a long story and it makes me look lazy, so let’s not get sidetracked.

I was walking the backyard, blowing a wide swath through the November leaves, pushing them into the woods. I was so focused on where those leaves were going, that I failed to recognize I was walking headlong into an ambush, arranged by a nemesis that waited patiently for me to step in to their trap.

For over a week now, little inch worms have been arriving, gathering, spinning webs and waiting patiently.  I’ve been watching them, taking them down whenever I can.

So I was watching the ground, and did not see the 1.5 million worms that had gathered in the tree, hanging all around me. As I’m walking I feel something land on my head, I reach up to find it’s a worm.

Looking up I then run head first into another worm.

I spin around to feel one crawling on my neck.

I turn the other way and there are two worms in front of me who appear to be mating (why are they mating??)

At that moment a worm drops from the tree, and lands in between my glasses and my eyeball. I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping the sheer force of my lashes will crush it. Worms are now dropping all around me, like tiny kamikazes determined to defend their way of life.

I use the backpack blower to fight my way out, as the dangling spawns of satan continued to torment me. I look down to find worms all over my shoes. I’m struggling to clear the webs from my head and pull the little parasites out of my arm hair (why must I be so harry??) It’s then that I feel a worm drop down the back of my shirt.  I drop the handle of the leaf blower, which is still blowing full blast, bouncing up and down off of the ground. I reach for it when I feel a tiny tickle moving around the waistband of my boxer shorts.

Now I am dancing around, the leaf blower still flapping in the air, as I attempt to grab the worm without sending it even lower.  I can only hope that my wife does not come out at this moment, to see her “shining knight” whimpering like a small child and jumping around the yard. I get control of the leaf blower, and run toward the door of the house. I open the screen door and run headlong into an inch worm web, that I had just cleared out 30 minutes earlier!

I stood in the sun room, visibly shaken. I looked out at that tree, still draped in inch worms and their webs, daring me to come back for more.

I’m told that if I wait a little longer, the worms will burrow into the ground, and be gone until the fall….I will outlast them.

But the point here is clear….Guys, you must suspend all outside yard duties until such a time as it is deemed safe to do so….your wife will understand.  But if you must go out there, be sure you keep your eyes open….and wear a belt.

Advertisements

Attacked at Great Clips: The Church and False Advertising Part I

First a story about growing a beard (nothing like a good beard story to suck you in)

Each year I grow a beard….it gets pretty big.  

I wish I could say the beard was some kind of statement, or my attempt to survive the cruel Virginia winter, or even regular prep for any opportunity to play a devious biblical character. But I’m pretty sure my reasons for growing a big beard have more to do with laziness, novelty, and….ok maybe the opportunity to play a devious biblical character.

When I get a haircut.  I go to Great Clips.

It’s perfect for what I need. I feel like the fancier places have too many unspoken rules I don’t know about – it’s like being a part of a secret society.  Plus my hair cutting needs can be easily addressed with clippers and a #4 guard.

Around Christmas time, I decided to get a hair cut.  So I went to my closest shopping center, walked in, sat in the waiting room, and studied the shampoos on the shelf. I then looked at the menu board they have hanging over the register.  As I look over the options and prices on the menu, I notice something that catches my eye, “beard trim”. I never knew that was an option, I’ve never had my beard trimmed by someone else….but suddenly, I was interested.

In a few minutes, an older gentlemen called my name. I walked back to the chair and sat down. I am very uncomfortable in a hair-cutting situation. I can stand up and speak in front of hundreds of people, but I dread sitting in that chair for the 12 minutes it takes to get a haircut. I don’t know the psychology behind it, but to me it is awkward and extremely uncomfortable. Maybe if I were there every week for a wash and perm it would be different.  All I know is that by the time he tapes my neck off with that white paper and straps the cape on me, I have exhausted most of the small talk I was preparing while I waited to be called back.

So out of desperation, I throw out a question, “so….I see on the menu you guys do beard trims?” “Yes,…are you thinking of getting your beard trimmed?” He asked as he stared at my beard, trying to decide if his clippers were up to the task. “Oh I don’t know” I replied….and then silence.  He finished my hair and then asked, “so, do you want us to trim that beard for you?” “that beard” implied it was some kind of parasite that had attached itself to the bottom of my chin.  The thought of not having to clean up a bathroom full of fur was pretty appealing, so I said, “sure, why not, let’s go for it.” There was a slight hesitation from the man, as if I had called his bluff, and now he actually had to go through with it. He looked uncomfortable, and I can’t blame him, cutting this beard is like taking a push mower to a row of hedges. So he prepared his instruments on the table in front of me, and got to work.

That’s when I quickly learned the man who stood before me had never trimmed a beard in his life.

He began hacking away at my face, hair flying all around me. Several times he would try to go too deep too fast, and you could hear the clipper motor bog down, trapping the clippers in my beard for a moment. I started to laugh and fought to keep it internal, my shoulders shaking gently. The clippers moved to my upper lip. and as he swept upward, the teeth of the hair guard would catch my right nostril. Multiple times I could feel the guard go up inside my nose. I jerked back each time, but he remained silent….focused….clueless.

After cutting huge swaths in my beard, he then moved to the fine trimming, creating even, symmetrical lines with the stubble that remained on my face. Only I watched him as he trimmed too far down on one side. His choices were to either trim it off completely or just leave it and hope I enjoyed making a statement about beard conformity. He tried to lower the other side, but it wasn’t helping.  At a certain point, he just stopped, looked at me in the mirror and said, “well, I think we’re good here, what do you think?”

Now I should have pointed out that I could see several tuffs of hair that he missed all over my face, like some sort of mangy dog. I probably should have mentioned that the roller coaster outline he created on each side of my face was not the style these days.  And maybe I should have asked for a tissue to stop the internal bleeding in my nostril from his erratic trimming. But instead I looked in the mirror, smiled, and said, “yep, that will do.” I just wanted out. As I walked past the waiting room, I could feel the pity-filled stares of those who watched the entire ordeal.  I wanted to shout at them, ” I was once like you!!” “I am a man, I’m not an animal!”

I drove home, pulled in to the driveway, and walked inside. My wife was the first person I saw as I  came in the door. “Wow, you got your beard cut off!” “Yeah, but look at it” I said. She started to walk closer to me and then stopped short once she could see what I was referring to. She stared at me with compassion, in the same way that Esmeralda looked at Quasimodo. “Oh….what happened?” she reached to touch it but I pulled away. “I’ll be in the bathroom shaving” I said as I stormed out.

Isn’t it interesting that this company offered a service on a menu board that they were not prepared to provide to an actual customer?

Isn’t it strange that this worker thought he was providing a “good” beard trim when he was actually providing me several nights of flashbacks and night sweats.

Isn’t that exactly what the church is like sometimes?

I’ll explain what I mean….tomorrow (dum dum duuuuuummmmm)

I Rule Kindergarten

We decided to drop our 5-year-old off at school this year. I wish I could say that decision was made for noble reasons. Honestly, we did this because if we drop him off at school we get an extra 45 minutes in the morning. I wish I could also say we used that 45 minutes for noble purposes; to cook a hearty breakfast, prepare Evan for the day ahead, maybe a few thoughts for the day and a brief time of silent, contemplative prayer.

Here is what actually happens.

The alarm goes off…again. Our bed explodes in a flurry of activity — sheets and covers go flying, legs flailing as we realize we have 2o minutes. We grab our son and dress his limp body. Will he be too cold? too hot? None of that is as important as our ultimate goal in the morning — get that boy in the school door by 8 AM.

You see at 8 AM the door closes like the gate to a maximum security prison. This electronic alarm sounds, and if your child is not in the door by that time, you are LATE. This “being late” means very little to our son, he moves to his own, slower beat.  But to parents, the stigma of being late, seeing the little eyes on the other side of the school door looking back at us, as if to say, “poor, poor little boy, if only there was something we could do, but there is a great chasm between us” is more than most grown-ups can handle.

So we drop something frozen in a toaster, grab a sip to drink, brush teeth, find shoes, and finish it off with a coat. My wife and I run from room to room, throwing various items at our son followed by instructions. “Evan, put this on!” “Evan, take that shirt off and put this on!” “Evan, your coat, your coat” He is unaffected by all of this, no concern, no need to rush. Children are the only creatures on earth where the urgency of a situation actually causes them to move slower.

Eventually, we grab everything that he needs, I carry him to the car, strap him in, and we head out.

The time: 7:50 AM.

We play a game on the way to school. No, it’s not “eye spy with my little eye”. Our game is called, “help daddy  find an opening in the parade of cars the size of a Chevy Malibu.” He loves it, he’s very good at it now. Eventually, we find an opening and dart in to the line of traffic.

The time: 7:54 AM

Navigating this stretch of road to the school is more of an art form really. You have to time the lights, follow close to the car in front of you, but not too close. It involves a lot of strategy, and talking to the windshield. Then there is the volunteer guy directing traffic. I am convinced he is out to get me. He holds out his hand and traffic stops.

The time: 7:57 AM

We turn on to a side road and then into the parking lot of the school. We are met by a line of cars anxious to enter the turnabout and drop their child off. I can see the faces of the moms in their car windows. From the looks of their hair,they just woke up also.  They look terrified and frantic.   As if they realize they might be late, and they did not dress appropriately to enter the school office and sign their child in. I scan the parking lot, and decide that our best chance at getting in would be to park and run for the door.

The time: 7:59 AM

“Unbuckle your belt and grab your bag son.” The urgency in my voice shakes him to action. We jump out together, and I yell, “Runnnnnn!” We start running, as I throw his backpack on his little body.  The volunteers standing outside put up one finger, and yell, “one minute, hurry, hurry!” With those words I grab Evan, lift him off the ground, and start running. The volunteers start walking in, reality turns to slow motion, and it is just the sound of my out of breath body, the steps of my shoes on the concrete, and the sight of that door, that is now starting to close.

We get to the half-open door, and after considering all of my options, I decide for the sake of honor and good parenting to gently toss him in the door. The floor is slick in there, and the treads on his shoes don’t hold.  He slides a good 5 feet, stops himself at the wall, and looks back with a smile and thumbs up…the door closes, the alarm sounds.

Uncontrollably, I raise my hands in the air, striking the “Rocky Balboa” pose when he runs up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.. I look at the elderly volunteer next to me and yell out, “that’s right, that’s what I’m talking about!”. My hands are still raised as I dance around the door. She smiles nervously at me, and enters the building.

I skip back to the car, still hopped up on adrenaline. Along the way, I pass mothers wearing pajama pants and their husband’s coat walking the trail of shame with their child to the office. I try to make eye contact and give them a look that says, “don’t give up…you don’t have to live life this way.”

As for me, I drive home with a new outlook on the day. Sure, for a few moments the thought creeps in that tossing your child in a closing school door like a game of cornhole and then celebrating is probably not the most healthy area of my parenting. I convince myself I’ll try harder tomorrow.

The next day — wake time: 7:32AM

Time to shine.