Category Archives: conversations

Troubleshooting and chatting it up with Amy’s Dad

Dad’s in Florida. He’s in his condo by the ocean for two full months. He left at the beginning of January and has been there, therefore, for most of the month.

Dad is bored out of his skull.

His people don’t arrive until February (my aunt and uncle, his sister and brother-in-law, are arriving then, and his cousin is visiting then, and I think he’s going to visit another cousin then – yes, my entire family has become a flock of snowbirds) so Dad’s been hanging out at buffets and the American Legion (do NOT ask him if they’ve given him a fez; he’ll just yell “THEY DON’T WEAR FEZZES!”) and walking on the beach and getting scratchers at the 7-11 and – best of all – calling me up at all hours to tell me things. Or texting me. Or emailing me weird links, like “You should read this good site, do you know about this?” and it’s MSN.

Dad said he's not doing well on the scratchers this year, and therefore I will no longer have an inheritance. Oh, well, I wasn't betting on one, anyway.

Dad said he’s not doing well on the scratchers this year, and therefore I will no longer have an inheritance. Oh, well, I wasn’t betting on one, anyway.

So I thought you would enjoy a glimpse into the type of conversation Dad and I have been having lately. You like such things, right? Right.

Oh, a thing you need to know for this to make sense…

Dad bought a laptop so he could take advantage of the free wifi in the condo. Dad’s never had a laptop before. Or high-speed internet. It’s like Dad was released into a very big playground. Or the ocean. Without a lifevest. Or a map, to completely muddle this metaphor.

So, I had the day off today. I had car work to get done, which got done a lot sooner than planned (also, goodbye, savings! sniff), so I used the day to do all of my usual after-work errands like grocery shopping and laundry and such, so I don’t have to do them after work this week. I was PROACTIVE! And when I got home Dad sent me an email to call him RIGHT AWAY so I did. (Dad + boredom + high speed internet = lots of email, you guys.)

So of course I called him. It’s a day off. Lots of time to talk to Dad.

Me: Hey, old man. What’s up?
Dad: Stop calling me that.
Me: Fine. Howdy, young lady, what’s shakin’?
Dad: Not at all better.
Me: But funnier.
Dad: Not really. I have a computer question.
Me: I will answer that!
Dad: You broke my computer.
Me: That’s more an accusation than a question.
Dad: Remember you made me put that antivirus on here?
Me: Yes, so you didn’t get viruses and no one stole your identity.

Oh, Dad would HATE this.

Oh, Dad would HATE this.

Dad: It gave me a virus.
Me: The antivirus gave you a virus. No, I don’t think that’s how that works.
Dad: No! True story! Ever since I bought it, the computer keeps shutting down if I walk away for ten minutes.
Me: Huh. That’s weird. Did you change any settings?
Dad: What does that mean, settings. No. I put on this virusy virus thing.
Me: Well, go into the settings of Norton and see if one of them says “sleep settings” or “power saver” or something.
Dad: That is SMART. Where are Norton settings.
Me: I don’t know, I’ve never needed that. Click on Norton? It’s probably at the bottom of the screen or something.
Dad: It WAS! You’re good at this.
Me: Yeah, I’m totally an IT guru.
Dad: It says I need to sign into Norton.
Me: Sign into Norton, then.
Dad: It says I don’t know my password.
Me: Do you know your password?
Dad: No.
Me: Did you write down your password when you signed up?
Dad: I did but I wrote it down wrong.
Me: Well, that’s unhelpful.
Dad: There’s something to click if I forgot my password! Should I click that?
Me: Yep.
Dad: This is exciting.
Me: SO exciting.

Look at my excited face. LOOK AT IT!

Look at my excited face. LOOK AT IT!

Dad: I am resetting my password now.
Me: Maybe use the one you wrote down, then you already have it written down.
Dad: Man, you are really good.
Me: Yeah, I’ve got brains to spare.
Dad: SOMETHING IS WRONG! SOMETHING IS WRONG!
Me: Uh-oh. What’s wrong, jellybean.
Dad: It sent me a reset link and then I reset it and then it said it was wrong AGAIN.
Me: OK, well, there’s something wonky with Norton. Try again tomorrow.
Dad: That’s not a solution.
Me: Turn the computer on and off?
Dad: That is also not a solution.
Me: Oh, it surely is. Turning things on and off fixes more than you know.
Dad: I’m just going to give up now and go watch television and think about how terrible my life is.
Me: Do you want me to try to talk you through the computer settings and see if those somehow got screwed up?
Dad: No. I HAVE TO GO NOW.
Me: OK. Bye. Love you.
Dad: Grumble grumble grumble grump love you bye.

TWO MINUTES LATER!

THE PHONE RINGS!

Me: Yo, s’up, Pops.
Dad: I got into Norton.
Me: How’d you do that?
Dad: Don’t even know.
Me: Fair enough.
Dad: What do I do now?
Me: I don’t know. Let me ask the internet.
Dad: How does the internet know about my computer problems?
Me: Because the government’s watching you.
Dad: I KNEW IT!
Me: Foolish. Because other people often have the same problems you do, if you Google problems, they can help you.
Dad: But then the government knows you’re having a problem.
Me: *sigh* Yes, there’s always that. Oh, ok, here. Someone had the same problem. I’m going to talk you through how to fix this, ok?
Dad: STOP TALKING SO FAST.
Me: I wasn’t…ok. FIRST. CLICK. ON. NORTON.
Dad: Well, if you talk slow, I just feel stupid.

(Eventually I talked Dad through clicking some boxes and unclicking some other boxes and setting some things. This took a very, very long time. Pretend there’s a musical montage here, or something.)

Dad: Is this even going to work?
Me: I don’t know. I’m not there. Try going to your desktop and changing your power saver settings there, too.
Dad: What’s a desktop?
Me: Like, if you turn on the computer, before you open the internet. On my computer, it’s where I have that big picture of The Nephew scowling because I love his attitude.
Dad: I don’t have this on a desk, though, it’s on a table.
Me: NOT THAT KIND OF DESKTOP.
Dad: I found the control center. Is it there?
Me: I don’t know. Is it?
Dad: THIS IS SO HARD.
Me: It would be easier if you were HERE and I could SEE the computer, yes. Yes, it would.
Dad: Your brother just sent me gibberish email.
Me: What does that mean?
Dad: He sent me an email that said “IDK what a good price is.” What is IDK.
Me: I don’t know.
Dad: Should I look it up online? Did he make a mistake?
Me: Oh, this is like an old comedy routine. No. It MEANS I don’t know. IDK equals I don’t know.
Dad: Why didn’t he write I don’t know?
Me: It’s textspeak.
Dad: But it’s an email.
Me: Yeah. It’s a thing people do.
Dad: You should write a whole thing out and not confuse your father, is what I think.
Me: Write him back and say LOL.
Dad: I will not say LOL.
Me: Ooh, say YOLO.
Dad: I DO NOT SAY YOLO. Is my computer fixed?
Me: I guess you’ll see the next time you don’t use it for ten minutes in a row.
Dad: If Norton ruined my computer I’m going to call them up and yell at them.
Me: Oh, they’ll like that a lot, I think. You’ll be very popular.
Dad: Your governor hates me.
Me: What? Is this related to what we’ve been talking about at all? I think I have conversational whiplash.
Dad: No. Look up what your governor said now. He wants to kick me out of our state.
Me: Shush, I like our governor. He’s all gruff and cranky and passionate about things and I think if you make him mad he’d either punch you in an alley or shoot you in the face.

SO MAD!

SO MAD!

Dad: LOOK IT UP.
Me: Oh, so he said extreme conservatives don’t belong in New York State. Huh.
Dad: I’d like to have him come upstate and say that! WE WOULD TROMP HIM!
Me: I don’t know. He seems pretty badass. He might punch or shoot you. Or give you a really dirty look.
Dad: When he runs for president you’d vote for him.
Me: Is he the Democratic candicate in this scenario?
Dad: Well, duh.
Me: Then yes, I’ll vote for him.
Dad: Who are you. WHO ARE YOU. I am so disgusted.
Me: I am going to watch television now, and write a blog post. Are you good?
Dad: Yes. Don’t tell the internet where I live.
Me: I won’t.
Dad: Or put up photos of me.
Me: Nope. Won’t.
Dad: Or tell them what I like to say or do or wear.
Me: OK. Noted.
Dad: THAT IS HOW THEY GET YOU.
Me: Yes. I’m sure it is. Go play on the beach, bub.
Dad: I might call you later.
Me: OK. I might answer.
Dad: GOOD. You SHOULD answer! If I call you ALWAYS should!

Don’t worry, interwebs, Dad will have friends to play with soon. Only a few more days. I think he will manage to retain most of his mental stability with people to interact with. Hopefully, anyway. I mean…

Crap. Gotta go. Phone’s ringing.

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I propose Happy Hour be renamed Confusing Conversation Hour after this.

Actual excerpt from an email to sj Saturday evening:

I’m debating whether or not to blog Drunken Amy’s Dad Stories, which have the subtitles of “Amy’s Dad Talks about Ecstasy” and “Amy’s Dad Discusses Penis Sizes in Various Countries” and “Amy’s Dad Saw a UFO over the Ocean Talking to Whales, Maybe” and “Amy’s Dad Thinks All the Hollywood Stars Live in the White House Right Now for Some Reason” and “Amy’s Dad Went to an Island but When Amy Questioned That, He Yelled, ‘It Was Just the Name of the Store, Not a Real Island, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU TONIGHT?’”

Obviously, my debate ended with the devil on my shoulder shouting down the angel on my OTHER shoulder.

I should backtrack a little or this isn’t going to make sense.

Dad’s in Florida until the end of the month. His cousin P. (my second cousin) is staying with him until Monday. I love P. She is one of the most intelligent people I know. She’s also HYSTERICAL. She makes me laugh until I cry. She also listens with her whole self when you’re talking to her. And gives the most thoughtful advice. She’s kind of the best.

So P. is staying with Dad for the week in his swinging mirrored condo. Apparently this means they go out for happy hour a lot, and he calls me late and is…a tad overserved. And says “IS THIS SO LATE FOR CALLING YOU?” and it’s not like it’s 1am, it’s like 10pm, so that’s not SO late. Then he tells me that P. has FORCED him, AGAIN, to go out for drinks, and what a bad influence she is, and in the background she is saying, “NO ONE FORCED YOU TO GO OUT YOU GRUMPY SO AND SO.” They get along very well. She doesn’t put up with his nonsense. And she makes him laugh the hardest. Didn’t I tell you she was kind of the best? She totally is.

So tonight he was supposed to call me at 6:30, but, no. And then I called him at 9. Not home. (SIDE NOTE! He’s staying at a condo and the owner’s name is Bob…something, I don’t even remember. I make up things when I can’t remember. Let’s say Bob McGillicutty. So my caller ID, when he calls, says “Bob McGillicutty.” And when I answer, I say, “Well! Hello, Bob!” or “Bob! Why are you calling so late?” or “Bob! I could totally be dead and you wouldn’t even know because you’re calling me like 4 hours late.” And he always laughs and says, “Bob here!” in a cheerful tone every time. Hee, “Bob here” is my new favorite.)

So he called me at a little after 10. And Dad had been imbibing with P. And also with Aunt G. and Uncle P.

“AMY!” Dad (also known as Bob) said. “Did you know that there are some places where after a certain time, LADIES DRINK FREE?”

What's a ladys? Is it like someone's name? Like Gladys? Does Gladys drink free?

What’s a ladys? Is it like someone’s name? Like Gladys? Does Gladys drink free? Is it a type of drink? Like a Long Island Iced Tea or something? This is a perplexing sign.

“I’ve heard of such things,” I said solemnly. “I have never attended one, because there tend to be people there. People who are drinking. And that leads to people who are shovey and way too loud, and someone usually spills cheap beer on your nice purse.”

“I had to pay. I am not a lady. But G. and P. did not have to pay! LADIES DRINK FREE!”

“You should have worn a muumuu. Maybe you could have had free drinks.”

“NO. I AM A MAN PERSON WHO WEARS NO MUUMUUS,” said Drunken Dad.

Apparently Homer is not a man-person.

Apparently Homer is not a man-person.

So, since sj exhorted me to PLEASE PLEASE blog about what Drunken Dad says about the state of the world, I bring you excerpts from our conversation. Perhaps you will be as confused as I was. It’s ok. It was a confusing phone call.

AMY’S DRUNKEN DAD SAW A UFO OVER THE OCEAN, MAYBE

Dad: P. and I saw a UFO.
Me: What? You did? Where did you see this?
Dad: Over the ocean. She didn’t even take a picture, can you imagine?
Me: You saw a UFO. Over the ocean? What did it do? How do you know it wasn’t a plane? Sometimes they’re planes.
Dad: NO. It was ROUND and then it ZIPPED and LIGHTS WENT ALL AROUND and then it DISAPPEARED.

Ooh, look, Dad, I found a photo for you!

Ooh, look, Dad, I found a photo for you!

Me: Well. That does sound like an alien encounter, for sure.
Dad: If we had a photo, we could send it to that guy you watch on TV.
Me: What guy do I watch on TV that likes aliens?
Dad: That guy that you call a douche.
Me: The Ghost Douche?


Dad: Yes, that one. We would be famous.
Me: Well, the flaw in your plan is that he investigates ghosts? So probably wouldn’t care about UFOs.
Dad: Also, remember that time he thought he was possessed by a girl ghost? Do you think he would think he was possessed by an alien?
Me: Yes. Probably a girl alien.
Dad: I wouldn’t like to watch that.
Me: No one would. Ooh, maybe the UFO was talking to whales, because they’re so intelligent.
Dad: That’s what the government wants you to believe.
Me: That whales are intelligent or that UFOs would talk to them or that UFOs are over the ocean?
Dad: Yes.

AMY’S DRUNKEN DAD DISCUSSES KIDS TODAY AND THEIR DRUG USE

Dad: Today we went to buy teeshirts and the best mother ever bought a teeshirt for her daughter.
Me: OK. That’s nice, right?
Dad: You know all the things. You will know about this.
Me: I don’t even know half of the things, but go ahead. What do I know?
Dad: The teeshirt said “Molly is my homegirl.” CAN YOU IMAGINE? (In the background, P. is saying, “MOLLY IS MY HOMEGIRL!” in a jolly fashion. I love her.)


Me: No. Who’s Molly? Molly Weasley? I’d wear that.


Dad: Weasel? No. MOLLY, Amy!
Me: I don’t know what that means. Who’s Molly?
Dad: AMY!
Me: I don’t…is there something I’m missing here?
Dad: SHE BOUGHT IT FOR HER CHILD!
(I quickly Googled what this meant; it’s apparently a thing with the kids today and some sort of rap lyric referring to ecstasy.)
Me: So P. bought this for her daughter? That seems unlike her. Did J. want that shirt? (SIDE NOTE: J. is my most wonderful third cousin, who I want to adopt. She is a junior in high school and is just utter sunshine. She has a giggle that fills you up with carbonated fizzies. She’s one of my favorite humans.)
Dad: P. has iron balls. She said, “What is Molly?” TO STRANGERS! In the STORE! And no one would tell her.
Me: She bought a shirt but didn’t know what it meant? How did she even know J. wanted it? I don’t think J. does ecstasy. She’s perfection. She wouldn’t do that.
Dad: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW.
Me: I guess I am just confused why P. would buy her daughter a drug shirt? Isn’t she mad you’re talking about her right now? I can hear her right there in the room with you.
Dad: P. didn’t buy a drug shirt!
Me: What? Who are we talking about, then?
Dad: Some WOMAN! At the store! Not P.!
Me: This conversation is as confusing as talking to Gramma when she says “the old guy came to visit me” and that could refer to, like, anyone she knows, and she expects you to psychically know who she means.
Dad: It makes perfect sense to me. Is there something wrong with you tonight?
Me: I’m beginning to wonder.
Dad: Did you know people make drugs in their houses and sometimes the houses explode? P. read that on the internet.

Ka-BOOM. Goodbye, house.

Ka-BOOM. Goodbye, house.

Me: Yes. Not ecstasy, though, I don’t think. That’s meth. That’s a whole different thing.
Dad: Why do you know about meth?
Me: Well, you know me. I run with a shady crew. Always exploding their meth labs.
Dad: I KNEW IT!

AMY’S DRUNKEN DAD DISCUSSES PENIS SIZES IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES

Dad: So what are you doing tonight?
Me: It’s like 10:30. I think I’m doing exactly what I’ll be doing for the rest of the night: nothing. I’m tired.
Dad: Good. If you go out that’s when the killers get you.
Me: I have to write a blog about penis sizes in various countries.
Dad: (chokes on something he’s drinking) I think I heard you incorrectly.
Me: I have this map of penis sizes in various countries and I’m pretty sure I need to blog about it but I haven’t decided how to do it yet.


Dad: Who tells their father something like this?
Me: I do. I do something like that. Don’t you find that fascinating? Someone took the time to make this map.
Dad: That is porn.
Me: No. There aren’t PHOTOS of the penises. Just a map with colors on it saying who has the biggest penises.
Dad: P. could find that map on her phone, you know. She’s very good with that phone.
Me: People with smartphones often are. Plus the phones are very smart. Hence the name. Did you know Canada has larger penises than America?
Dad: No. I didn’t want to know that. Also, I’m pretty sure it’s not true.
Me: I’m pretty sure it is. This seems like a very sciency map.
Dad: It’s probably because of the government.
Me: Our lack of penis size is a government conspiracy? Wow, this is wide-reaching, this conspiracy. Also, I’m very excited about my trip to Finland next year, because they are ALSO better than America, penis-size-wise, so you know I’m bound to totally have a very good time.
Dad: I don’t think you tell your father such things. Also, that’s not why you’re going to the land of Finns.
Me: No, but it’s like an interesting perk I’ve just discovered right now. China and India lose. This must make them so sad.
Dad: Are we still talking about this?
Me: Yes. It is SCIENCE! Science is INTERESTING! And AWESOME!


Dad: I hope you didn’t tell your mother about this. You cannot talk to you mother about things like this.
Me: NO. I don’t mention penises to Mom. When I do she starts muttering prayers under her breath. I worry she’s going to get a young priest and an old priest and they’re going to show up at my door for an impromptu exorcism. NICE YOUNG LADIES DON’T TALK ABOUT DING-DONGS, AMY!
Dad: No one ever said you were nice. Your mother knows you’re not nice. It’s the bane of her existence. However, I like it the most. Wait til I tell P. what you are talking about. She is not going to believe this.
Me: I think she’ll find it hilarious. She loves me. I make her laugh. Plus, I think she’ll want to look it up because it’s good to be prepared.
Dad: I don’t want to think about either you or P. being prepared for such a thing in random countries. WE ARE CHANGING THE SUBJECT NOW.
Me: Fine, but I’m just saying, if you ever want to send me to Venezuela, that seems to be the place to go. Yowza.
Dad: STOP TALKING STOP TALKING.

AMY’S DRUNKEN DAD THINKS ALL HOLLYWOOD STARS LIVE IN THE WHITE HOUSE FOR SOME REASON

Dad: Did you see what your President did now?
Me: Oh, it’s hard to tell. What now?
Dad: He sent that guy to Cuba, but if we went to Cuba, we’d be arrested.
Me: Oh, that guy. Of course. If I ask what guy, are you going to yell at me?
Dad: Some rippety rapper. (The internet tells me it was Jay-Z and he and Beyoncé went there for their anniversary? I could research this more but I don’t even care that much. Unless it’s Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” I don’t care at all.)

Aw, how cute are they? Like a little honeymooning couple. With the little polo shirt and the tropical-print dress. ADORABLE.

Aw, how cute are they? Like a little vacationing couple. With the little polo shirt and the tropical-print dress. ADORABLE.

Me: OK, then.
Dad: The White House belongs to US and now all the people in Hollywood live there.
Me: I don’t…huh. What?
Dad: Why when I tell you a thing do you never believe me?
Me: Mostly because the things you tell me sound like crazytalk.
Dad: IT IS TRUE THE REAL NEWS TOLD ME ABOUT THIS.
Me: Uh-huh. The real news told you that all the Hollywood stars live in the White House with the president.
Dad: YES.
Me: Do you think maybe that’s an exaggeration?
Dad: NO.
Me: I think maybe he knows some Hollywood people and maybe some have visited.
Dad: THAT IS OUR HOUSE.
Me: Actually, that’s the President’s house, and I think he’s allowed to have houseguests if he pleases. I’m sure Ronald Reagan had Hollywood people visit. And I’m MORE than sure JFK did.

SIGH SO PRETTY BOTH SO PRETTY

SIGH SO PRETTY BOTH SO PRETTY

Dad: IT IS OUR HOUSE.
Me: Nah. We have houses. Mine’s here and it has cats in it; yours is there and it’s got trees in the backyard. We don’t need the president’s house.
Dad: If you keep your head in the sand about these things eventually you’re going to suffocate.
Me: I’ll put a straw in the sand like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I’ll be fine.
Dad: RIDICULOUS YOU ARE RIDICULOUS.

AMY’S DAD GETS ANGRY BECAUSE HE IS BEING VAGUE

Dad: When we were at (mumble mumble) island today, P. spent way too much money. I wouldn’t do that.
Amy: How come when I was there, we didn’t go to an island?
Dad: What? There are no islands.
Amy: I’m pretty sure, even though you were being a Mumble Mumblerton, you just said you went to an island.
Dad: THAT IS THE NAME OF THE SOUVENIR SHOP. Seriously, are you ok? You’re not getting it tonight. Do you have a head injury?
Amy: Yes. This is most definitely my fault for being slow on the uptake. Maybe the cats stole my breath when I was sleeping last night.
Dad: I keep TELLING you those cats are going to steal your breath. They’re killer cats. You never listen to me and soon it will be too late. BECAUSE YOU WILL BE DEAD. WITH NO BREATH.

Soon P. will be on her way back to the lovely Capital District of New York State (she lives about half an hour from me) and Dad will be ALL ALONE so his liver can detox, I suppose. I think our phone conversations will be quieter. Much less shouting. Fewer non-sequiturs. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Drunken Dad! I will miss you and your shoutery. I raise my store-brand sugar-free fruit-punch to you. And pour some out for my dead homiez, yo. That’s what I learned you do by watching rippety rappers who live in the White House. See, Dad? I totally learn things from watching teevee. I’m not even a disappointment.


Bracketology 101 (with help from Amy’s Dad)

Quickly: thank you so much for your reads, shares, comments, tweets, and altogether amazing response to yesterday’s post. It was not an easy post to write; I’ve been agonizing over what I wanted to say and how to word it and how to express myself about this for quite some time now. When the verdict came down this week and the public response was…well, unexpected, to say the least, I was in utter shock. sj was the one who told me, after a series of emails, that a letter to Jane Doe was my angle. sj was also there for me when I doubted I could write it, and when it proved almost too triggery for me to continue with. So for every thank you I got for writing that, half of those thanks (or more) should go to sj, who in the whole grand scheme of things is that cheerleader you want in your corner and that intelligent friend who operates as both the angel on your shoulder and that other set of eyes you need sometimes AND the most hilarious woman you know who can make you laugh until you both cry AND snort. Love you, chica. Thank you for being amazing.

This will be a quick one today, as I am kind of drained, but I think we need to lighten up a little today, right? And as a thank you for being so amazing, and reading me no matter if I’m serious or if I’m goofy? You’re all fantastic, seriously. And how better to do that than with DAD STORIES?

I have TWO.

One is very, very brief, and one is a peek into the world of Amy and Dad, every March, for the past 5 years or so.

DAD MISTRUSTS POISON

Me: So when I went to C. and C.’s house, guess what they have outside their front door? Roses!


Dad: Well, that’s weird. Since it’s winter.
Me: Sigh, sigh. NOT NOW. They WILL have roses. Right now it’s just the PROMISE of roses. Thorny branches that will HAVE roses on them, once it warms up.
Dad: Oh, well, if there are thorns, there will be roses. You know what they say about thorns and roses, right?
Me: Yes, I do. Every rose has its thorn.
Dad: Yep, that’s it.
Me: Just like every night has its dawn.
Dad: No, I don’t think they say that.
Me: Just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song.
Dad: What? Cowboys? No. No one says that. Cowboys don’t have roses. Roses don’t grow in the desert.
Me: Every rose has its thorn.
Dad: Now you’re just repeating yourself. No one says those other things, Amy. You’re just making things up.

DAD AND THE BIG DANCE

(Backstory: every year, Dad and I pick our brackets for the NCAA playoffs and have the best time watching the games together over the phone and shouting gleefully and laughing at each other and calling each other losers and sharing our thing. It is our favorite. Dad and my brother have car racing, Dad and I have basketball. I love watching the playoffs the most, but mostly because I know I get to share them with him. Picking our teams is hilarity-filled every year, because he takes it VERY SERIOUSLY and pays attention to statistics and coaches and what players are strong and things like that. Me? Um. Well, you know how when I go to the racetrack and I pick my horses based on what color silks they have, or if they have some permutation of the word “cat” in their name? That’s kind of how I pick my bracket. Surprisingly, I beat him about half of the time using this method. MAGIC VS. SCIENCE! IT IS A TIE!) (Don’t get worried, Andreas, I know it’s not a tie.)

This year, Dad and I are doing two sets of brackets. One against each other – whoever wins buys the other one a meal at McDonalds, and it’s a GOOD meal, per Dad, not the dollar menu, either, BIG MACS IF WE WANT THEM!, and the other set are against Jim. Now, Dad says Jim is dead to him, because we were supposed to meet Jim in Florida last year but Jim blew us off. Dad has blown this up to EPIC proportions and tonight said “That guy was about 10 minutes away from us and treated us like we were garbage. JUST. LIKE. GARBAGE. If that’s not dead to us, I don’t know what is.” I’m pretty sure he was like an hour away, and plans just didn’t work out, not that he treated us like refuse, but Dad’s never let a vendetta pass him by, no siree Bob. So if Dad wins, I think maybe Jim stays dead to us, and if Jim wins…um…well, probably he’s still dead to us. (Jim’s not dead to me. I like Jim a lot. Dad finds this suspicious and thinks I should ALSO think Jim is dead to us but it takes a lot more than that for someone to be dead to me. Hell, I’ve had people completely devastate me and break my heart into a million billion shattery pieces and I’d still stand in front of a train for ‘em. I’m not as hard-core as I seem on the outside, my little marshmallow peeps.)

Dad: OK, we have to hurry up and do this because I have to yell at Prost soon.
Me: You know his name is really Probst, right? (This is Jeff Probst from Survivor; Dad thinks he’s the devil incarnate.)
Dad: Yes, but I don’t think he deserves that extra letter because he’s annoying.
Me: FINE. Let’s do mine first.
Dad: OK. Then mine, they’ll be faster. I researched them and everything. Then, PROST-YELLING!
Me: Hee, ok, good, I bet Mom’s really looking forward to that.
Dad: Your mother doesn’t even hate Prost. She doesn’t think his dimples are surgically implanted or anything. Something’s wrong with that woman. (Mom in the background: “He yells so loud I can’t even HEAR the show! It is ANNOYING!”)
Me: I already picked the ones for Jim.
Dad: Who do you have winning that one?
Me: GONZAGA.
Dad: Gonzaga cannot win. That’s foolish.
Me: No, they’re going to win, and I’ll tell you why. Because of three reasons. A., their name sounds like garbanzo beans; B., they have a ‘z’ in their name, and I like letters at the end of the alphabet the most because they give you the most points in Scrabble, and C., their nickname is the ZAGS. So they will zig and zag and WIN. It is THEIR YEAR.


Dad: I can see you’ve really thought about this in a scientific manner.
Me: YES.
Dad: OK, well that bracket is already pre-busted, let’s work on your real one with me.
Me: Fine. I’m picking Colorado because one time I went there and it had twisty mountains and so therefore those players are used to being all running around and avoiding obstacles. But they won’t go too far, because they’ll get tired from all that dodging.

TWISTY!

TWISTY!

Dad: Hmm. OK.
Me: I’m also picking Duke, because Blue Devils. I think the Lord of the Underworld would want them to go pretty far. But good always wins out over bad, so they won’t win it all.
Dad: Yeah, they’re not doing the best this year. That’s a good call.


Me: And on this one I don’t have the Zags winning it all, even though I feel like I’m selling them out. I do love the Zags.
Dad: People are saying they’re only #1 this year because they played teams that were easy to beat.
Me: People are jerky and mean. Stop maligning my Zags.
Dad: They can’t win, Amy.
Me: ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. Remember that year that like the #8 team won everything and everyone’s brackets were busted and people were like SOBBING in the STREETS?
Dad: Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but yes, things like that have been known to happen.
Me: In the south section, I totally picked all the losing teams to win. Because sometimes that happens and I like the underdogs. I picked Villanova because they have a ‘v’ in their name and then I ALSO picked VCU because they ALSO have a ‘v’ and when they play each other it would be V vs. V and wouldn’t THAT be exciting?
Dad: Well, for some people it might, I suppose.
Me: Also I picked Georgetown because I think their mascot is a cranky bulldog.
Dad: Aren’t they the Hoyas? I don’t think a hoya is a cranky bulldog.

I TOLD YOU IT WAS A CRANKY BULLDOG, DAD!!!

I TOLD YOU IT WAS A CRANKY BULLDOG, DAD!!!

Me: In my head they are. I knocked Syracuse out early because every year I pick them to win and every year they break my heart. They are evil, those Orangemen. They are heartbreakers. NO MORE, ORANGEMEN! I refuse to have my heart broken again this year! It’s already been bumped around enough lately, dammit!

That'sone heartbreaky orange.

That’s one heartbreaky orange.

Dad: Did this just stop being about basketball just now?
Me: Maybe. I can neither confirm nor deny that.
Dad: Fine. Do you need me to get your mother?
Me: No. She doesn’t know about basketball or heartbreak.
Dad: You are correct about both of those things.
Me: Also, I have Marquette going to the final four. Do you know why?
Dad: I can’t even begin to imagine.
Me: Because they have a ‘q’ in their name. Q! I like ‘q’s.
Dad: Of course you do. Who do you have winning the whole thing?
Me: I played it safe and picked Louisville, even though they’re known for baseball and not basketball.
Dad: Well, their basketball team is probably known for basketball. And they’re heavily favorited to win it all, so that was a good choice.
Me: I’m so going to win that McDonalds meal, right? I’m getting a hot fudge sundae if I do.


Dad: Wait, DESSERTS are included? You never said DESSERTS were included.
Me: Oh, whatever we WANT is included.
Dad: I don’t like desserts. Can I have two Big Macs?
Me: If you win, you can. If you lose – and you WILL, because none of your teams have ‘z’s or ‘q’s or ‘v’s – then I guess you can have whatever you want, but it will all taste like TEARS and LOSS.
Dad: This is really the best thing.
Me: I KNOW. I love March Madness. It’s the most mad. PLUS ALSO EXCITING.

Time for sleep, pumpkins. Have the best Thursdays filled with excitement and joy and all the happiness the world has to offer. Also maybe a little madness. We all go a little mad sometimes, you know? Worse things can happen.


Sue the bowling alley? Ja, das ist gut; they might pay me in chicken fingers.

I have many, many things to talk about. I’ve been hoarding links like a MISER. Now it’s just a matter of what to talk about today?

I think we need to discuss a VERY IMPORTANT NEWS ITEM.

There is a town in upstate New York called Chateaugay. (That means “gay house” in French. Or maybe “happy house,” I suppose.) In some places in town they use the French spelling and it’s Chateauguay. But as we’re MERKANS, we MERKANIZED it to Chateaugay.

I drive through Chateaugay to get to my parents’ house. It is a very small town but it’s kind of charming. Also, I have history there. It is where Amy’s Dad spent some of his childhood and where Amy’s Grandmother grew up.

Also, it has things like this:

Giant windmills for wind power!

Giant windmills for wind power!

A fading-out sign for a place that sold both hay AND furs!

A fading-out sign for a place that sold both hay AND furs! (Possibly both euphemisms)

A lovely waterfall called High Falls!

A lovely waterfall called High Falls!

...and a Sunoco station! Sorry, I was running out of things to talk about, here.

…and a Sunoco station! Sorry, I was running out of things to talk about, here.

So a few weeks ago, Mom told me the following story about Chateaugay on the phone.

Mom: We had quite a news story up here the other day.
Me: Did someone dress like a bear and attempt to kill their wife again?
Mom: Oh, no, that was just that one time.
Me: Good, I’d hate that to be a repeat occurrence.
Mom: No, this time, someone went to the bowling alley in Chateaugay and got drunk.


Me: Please tell me that isn’t the whole story, as I would imagine that happens on a daily basis.
Mom: No, there’s more. So on her way out, she fell on some stairs, and hit her head and passed out.
Me: Teach her to get drunk at the bowling alley. I mean, not that that isn’t totally classy or anything.
Mom: When she woke up, she had a German accent.
Me: Whoa. Wait. WHAT?
Mom: Yes. This is a thing that happens, sometimes.
Me: I don’t know that it is. How is that a thing that happens sometimes?
Mom: So she sued the bowling alley and just won a bunch of money.
Me: She SUED the BOWLING ALLEY for giving her a GERMAN ACCENT.

Did she wake up wearing a dirndl, too? Probably.

Did she wake up wearing a dirndl, too? Probably.

Mom: Well, for either serving her too much to drink or for the stairs, but, yes. And she won!
Me: People sue for everything these days. I have to investigate this German accent thing. It sounds suspect to me.
Mom: I don’t know, the paper said it was real.
Me: Mom. MOM. That paper also misspells ITS OWN NAME. On the MASTHEAD. It is not a trustworthy news source.
Mom: I think you might be exaggerating.
Me: What? ME? Surely you jest, woman, that doesn’t sound like something I would do.
Mom: No. Not YOU. Not my daughter of melodrama.

So then I promptly forgot about this because I forget everything and then Dad mentioned it a few days later.

Dad: Did you hear about this nonsense that happened in Chateaugay? Someone is GERMAN now.
Me: Ooh, I forgot to research that. Yeah, Mom mentioned that.
Dad: First, it’s your own damn fault if you are drunk as a skunk at the bowling alley.
Me: I’m in agreement. At least have the decency to do that at the Elks Club like a NORMAL person, sheesh.

ELKS!!!

ELKS!!!

Dad: SECOND, if you get SO DRUNK at the BOWLING ALLEY and then you FALL, you don’t SUE someone.
Me: People do that all the time. Remember I told you about that woman I talked to at work who wanted to sue the mall for putting cracks in the sidewalk that she tripped on and when I asked her if the sidewalk was broken she said, “you know, like how every few steps, there’s a crack?” and I said, “like where the sidewalk pavers come together?” and she was all, “yes, that’s irresponsible, people could be killed” so apparently she wants all sidewalks to be one unbroken expanse of concrete and I can’t even imagine how that would happen or what kind of machine would do that?
Dad: That was a very long story.
Me: Yes. Surely you weren’t expecting less from me?
Dad: No. Third, now that woman is GERMAN. Probably she’s a communist.

Me: Dad. We’ve had this conversation and not all Europeans are communists.
Dad: MOST are. They’re just pretending they’re not because that’s how they get you.
Me: I don’t know how she’s German now. Like, if this happened to me, I couldn’t be German now. I don’t even know what a German accent sounds like. I know what a British accent or a Canadian accent sound like, but I don’t think you could start talking in an accent that’s not something you’ve HEARD. That’s like your brain accessing memories you don’t have and it’s WEIRD.
Dad: I don’t know, but now she’s rich and also German so nothing good can come of that.
Me: DAD. She isn’t really GERMAN. She’s AMERICAN. Just with a random German ACCENT somehow.
Dad: It’s the communists. I’m telling you.
Me: Yes. Yes, you are. Telling me. You sure are.

So right after this, I had to investigate this situation. Of course I did. First, there was nothing news-wise about it. Of course there wasn’t. I don’t know if Chateaugay has a newspaper, and the Malone newspaper isn’t online (or, it IS, but you have to pay for it, and I’m not paying for misspellings and stories about murdered llamas. That is sadly not a joke.)

But I DID find a Wikipedia article and the German accent thing is TRUE!

It is called Foreign Accent Syndrome and it is REALLY REAL!

OMG this made me laugh so hard. "Apparently is a real thing!" Hee!

OMG this made me laugh so hard. “Apparently a real thing!” Hee!

Here’s the skinny in case you don’t want to click through to the link because you might lose your place and not see what else is going on here today, like you might not know that TODAY, I learned that some dinosaurs had TWO BRAINS. Two BRAINS, you guys! One in their HEADAREA and one in their TAILAREA! Because they were so big they needed a brain to control their TAILS! (Andreas totally verified this fact, so that’s how I know it’s TRUE FACTS!)

So apparently, sometimes people hit their heads and damage the part of their brains responsible for linguistic function. This affects the way they speak, so it SOUNDS like they have a foreign accent, but really they don’t.

Some people start dropping their “r”s, so they sound like they’re from Boston, for example. Some people sound German, or British, or Russian (COMMUNISTS!) Apparently one woman who was from Norway started talking like she was German and then NO ONE TRUSTED HER AGAIN. (BECAUSE COMMUNISTS!)

Now, listen, as foolish as I find suing a place for something that is CLEARLY your fault (if I sued every place I made a poor decision when I was drinking too much back in the day, I think I would be a BILLIONAIRE) I think she’s overlooking a very important factor here.

SHE SOUNDS FANCY NOW!

I mean, come ON! She’s from this little teeny tiny town in upstate New York where the most exciting thing that happens is when a Burger King opens. (No, sadly, I’m not kidding. A Burger King opened a couple of years ago and there were traffic jams for MONTHS. Dad was all, “You can’t even get CLOSE to that Burger King! I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A WHOPPER! Sigh, fine, I’m going to get a Big Mac, no one’s over THERE.”)

So now she’s from this small town where everything’s always the SAME and nothing ever HAPPENS except sometimes people get attacked by their exes dressed like bears (true story) and sometimes people murder llamas (true story) and sometimes buildings fall down into the street and block traffic for days (true story.) What’s going to make her stand out? What’s going to make people say, “OMG, we’ve GOT to invite Susie Chateaugay to our party, she’s the COOLEST?”

HER KICKY GERMAN ACCENT, is what!

The internet is really being the best about graphics for this syndrome, seriously.

The internet is really being the best about graphics for this syndrome, seriously.

She’ll show up and say all of her “w”s like “v”s and her “th”s like “z”s or “s”s and then they would look at her and say “WHOA. This chick is INTERNATIONAL. And therefore she is INTERESTING. And perhaps she is WORLDLY and would let me get to THIRD BASE if I tell her how much I like Rammstein.” And there you have it! She will be POPULAR! And FAMOUS! And the whole town will LOVE her!

You can’t really put a price on that, can you? I think not.

Also, don’t get drunk at the bowling alley; those shoes are SLIPPERY, yo. I totally almost slip when I HAVEN’T been drinking. Speaking of which, I haven’t been bowling in way too long. Who wants to take me bowling? I’ll even fake a foreign accent for you if it helps. I’m thinking Australian? Or maybe Italian, I’m totally flexible.

Happy Monday, people of the interwebs! Remember: if you get injured, SOMEONE IS TO BLAME. And? IT IS NEVER YOU. Be sure to pick someone to blame with the deepest pockets, is all.


Creepy things and what not to do in the city: Amy’s Dad reports!

Two days until ADVENTURES! I’m getting totally antsy. Well, I’ve BEEN antsy. I’m getting antsy-ER. Also, guess what time I have to get up on Saturday. No, seriously, guess. FOUR A.M. I know! That is a real time! That people get out of warm beds! To DO things! I have to be at the train station at 6. I think that’s overkill since the train doesn’t leave until 7 or something but what if I didn’t show up when they told me to and they didn’t let me go? I WOULD BE SO CRUSHED. There might be weeping. Weeping! In the train station! The worst KIND of weeping! Well, airport weeping’s pretty bad, too. I’ve totally done airport-weeping and bus-station-weeping, but have not yet hit the trifecta and conquered train-station-weeping, so let’s stay away from that one, ok? Great. Good.

No weeping in the train station! It totally upsets the trains.

No weeping in the train station! It totally upsets the trains.

I have a strange Dad-story called AN ODD CREATURE.

Dad: I need you to investigate something for me.
Me: Like a gumshoe? Or on the internet? I could do either, but the second would be easier, only because I wouldn’t have to get off the couch.
Dad: People in the real world don’t say gumshoe.

I found this on the internet. I'm pretty sure this is most definitely a euphemism.

I found this on the internet. I’m pretty sure this is most definitely a euphemism.

Me: What world am I in, I wonder?
Dad: I don’t know the answer to that. YES, on the INTERNETS.
Me: Oh, I’m very good at the internet. What am I investigating?
Dad: I went to the wood lot the other day and there was this dirt all over the snow.
Me: I don’t know that I can internet-stalk dirt, Dad.
Dad: So I looked closely at that dirt. And it was NOT dirt. Guess what it was.
Me: This is mysterious. I really have no idea what dirt that is not dirt is.
Dad: SNOW FLEAS.
Me: What? Snow fleas? Snow fleas are a thing?
Dad: Yes. The SNOW is covered in FLEAS. Little black fleas. If you scoop them up they start moving. And also you can squish them.


Me: Well, doesn’t that sound like a fun afternoon activity. Do they bite you like fleas?
Dad: I don’t know. I didn’t give them a chance. I squished ‘em.
Me: I am kind of grossed out by this right now.
Dad: I want you to investigate these fleas and also how they live on snow because that snow is cold.
Me: OK. I can investigate this. I seriously have never heard of snow fleas. I’ve heard of sand fleas, but not snow fleas.
Dad: They’re really a thing because I was squishing them today.
Me: I’ll see what the internet has to say. I’ll let you know.

I really didn’t think snow fleas were a thing. I know. I should probably trust my own dad, right?

SNOW FLEAS ARE A THING!

But they’re not really fleas. They’re springtails. Springtails! Teeny-tiny little insects that pop around by curling their tails under their butts and popping around. They are  not black, but very dark blue. And when it warms up they sometimes crawl out on the surface of the snow. The internet says they do this to look for food but I think a better explanation is that they do this just to be creepy.

*shivers*

*shivers*

Also, they remind me of earwigs. Andreas, you are our Science Fellow, are springtails akin to earwigs? And if so, do you think a springtail would climb in your ear and lay eggs? GROSS GROSS GROSS. (Don’t yell at me, Andreas, I know it’s an urban legend. That doesn’t mean it still doesn’t give me the heebie-jeebies.)

*DOUBLE shivers*

*DOUBLE shivers*

Also, Wikipedia tells me that snow fleas have some sort of natural antifreeze that sciency-types are investigating to see if it can be used for organ transport and possibly (and strangely) ice cream. Please don’t put snow flea guts in my ice cream, people. I find this fascinating, mostly because I love sciency things.

So I called Dad and let him know about the snow fleas.

Me: Snow fleas are not fleas! They are SPRINGTAILS! And they have antifreeze in their tummies! Did you get the link I sent you?
Dad: I clicked on that link. You’re lucky it wasn’t porn. Your mother doesn’t let me click on porn.

Oh no!

Oh no!

Me: Why would…why the HELL would I have sent you porn in the guise of researching snow fleas? That doesn’t sound like me at all.
Dad: I’m just telling you, your mother wouldn’t like that, and also it would give me a virus, probably.
Me: Yeah, herpes.
Dad: HERPES. That is a good one. Because it’s like a sex-virus. You’re quick.
Me: I know. I learned from the best. ANYWAY, this conversation has taken an odd turn. SPRINGTAILS! ANTIFREEZE-BELLIES!
Dad: I like how you’ve turned bugs into cartoon characters.
Me: They totally are. Don’t squish them anymore. They have magic antifreeze!
Dad: You should ask the internet why they’re in my wood lot.
Me: The internet is often not that specific. I can’t just say, “Why are snow fleas in my dad’s wood lot, interweb?”
Dad: Maybe someday you can. The internet might get smarter someday.
Me: You’re the one who’s always worried it’s TOO smart and also controlled by the government and getting in our brains.
Dad: IT IS.
Me: Um…then I rest my case? I guess?

Then Dad had some helpful advice for my upcoming trip to the City. VERY HELPFUL.

Dad: When you go to that city, you shouldn’t go to the subway, because that’s where people push you onto the tracks. And you shouldn’t also go on the streets, because that’s where people shoot you with guns but they won’t let you have big sodas. Also don’t go places like buildings, because sometimes they get bombed or robbed. And also don’t go in the park because serial killers. And don’t go in restaurants because everything is much too expensive so maybe bring a granola bar. And don’t drink the water because you’ll catch diseases. Probably liberalism. MORE liberalism, I mean.

Dad should probably do one of these, he seems to know about what's up there.

Dad should probably do one of these, he seems to know about what’s up there.

Me: So…I should go to the City and stay in the train station?

Dad: Oh. Oh, no no. Train stations are bad news. Almost as bad as subways. There are panhandlers there. Best to just stay home.

There you have it: Dad’s advice for a fun trip to the City. DON’T GO.

(Don’t worry. I’m still going. I can’t even wait. I’m not even counting the days anymore. I’m counting the HOURS now. I’m very very excited. I’m bouncy like…a springtail! I AM TOTALLY BOUNCY LIKE A SPRINGTAIL WITH A SPRINGY BUTT!)

I hope no one squishes me, yo, that’d be the worst, right?


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