Monday, January 02, 2006

First Day

There is an old wives tale that says: "Whatsoever you do on the first day of the year, methinks you shall do evermore throughout that selfsame year."

So, in that selfsame spirit, I kept rough track of the things I did yesterday, to judge how accurate, over the next twelve months, those old wives actually were.

But just to spice things up a slight bit (after all, its only a list), I thought I would give my own educated guess as to how likely I think yesterday's outcome will be as a predictor for my upcoming year.

Ok? Here we go:

January 1, 2006

12 am-1: Thus enters the new year while I watch Splash on TV with my wife and drink a small bottle of champagne. There is probably a 0.5 % chance that this will all happen again at the same time, just because when you get the chance to watch Splash, you'd better honor it with champagne.

7:45 am Awakened by Grace. Lynda continues to sleep. Sarah soon gets up and the three of us watch some kids shows on TV while our bodies wake up. There is a 85% chance this will happen again in the future; heck, it happens just about every weekend. But sometimes, Lynda gets up first.

8:45 am Get some breakfast on the table for the girls--scrambled eggs, toast, cheese grits. (I waited too long to do this, as we have to get to church soon, so I am in a bit of a frazzled mood now.) Plus, Lynda isn't awake yet either. 20% chance of this happening again. I cook breakfast frequently on the weekend, but not usually under these circumstances. And Lynda hardly EVER sleeps this late.

9:20-10:10 am Now I am really worried. Lynda is out of bed and has had her shower. But I haven't yet, the kids are finishing eating, no clothes, hair drying, we're NEVER going to make it to church on time. We actually leave the house at 10:10; church starts at 10:15; it will take fifteen minutes to get there. Likelihood of being late to church? Hmmm. Higher than I want to admit, but I'll leave it at that to avoid domestic problems.

10:30 am-12 pm A low-key church day, not much attendance. We hang out for a while afterwards talking to people and generally taking it slowly. Likelihood of Sunday church attendance, 99%--barring sickness of some sort.

12:30-1:20 pm Get back home, pay some bills. 100% chance that I'll have to pay bills.

1:30-2:15 pm Lunch. ALSO a 100% chance I'll be eating lunch. First, it's delicious and second, it's the best part of the workday.

2:30-4 pm The kids go to their rooms for a hour (if we're lucky) of Quiet Time--an innovation we learned from another teacher when we learned we wouldn't be able to convince the girls to take naps in the weekend afternoons. They have to spend it in their rooms, playing quietly by themselves. If it turns into naps (which it frequently does, so much the better. During this Lynda does a bit of work and I watch some football and then decide to nap myself. (I didn't go to bed the night before until 1 am, okay?) 50% chance of this happening on most weekends because you can't predict what Grace will do. Sometimes she simply refuses to play along.

4:30-8:30 pm Here is where the wheels come off an otherwise ordinary day. (If you are named Jack Thunder, you might want to avert your eyes.)

Sarah received from her kindergarten teacher a Christmas coupon for a $5 game card and a free kids meal at Gameworks--a jazzed up arcade place. We decided to go there for a while yesterday afternoon. It is at Easton, an uber-hip, posh, shopping "destination" east of the city and south of where we live. The best thing to be said about Easton is that is houses an Apple Store and has a big theater.

Gameworks doesn't take quarters. You have to purchase a card and then load it with points. A dollar equals 10 points and five dollars equals 70 points, and upward in some sort of exponential curve encouraging you to spend hundreds of dollars. The games are played by swiping your card's magnetic strip on a reader. Points are deducted off your card. Each game costs a variety of points, calculated to confuse you and make you never know how much you are spending or how many points you have left on the card. I kept it at five dollars, reloaded $1 once to do one last game and get the hell out of there. Plus Sarah had her five dollar card.

The games themselves were completely wrong for a five-year-old. The arcade-style games are too complicated for someone her size and coordination. The ticket-collecting games seem to serve one purpose (according to Lynda) to teach the kids to gamble. The only arcade game that Sarah even remotely liked was a horse-race game where you sit on a horse and bounce up and down to make it gallop against other computerized horses.

Anyway, we finished up the "experience" by using the rest of our card points on the ticket games. We amassed quantity of 23 tickets that we were going to cash in on crappy prizes. We waited at the prize counter behind a gaggle of kids trying to figure out what combinations of prizes added up to 100 plus tickets. Once it was Sarah and Grace's turn we discovered that we needed to go to another side of the counter to get the tickets weighed and credited to our card before we could redeem anything (WTF???). So, I waited, weighted, deposited and got back in line at the prize counter. NOW, there was a family of slack-jawed yokels asking for the expensive prizes that are kept in the back room under lock-and-key. This turns into ten minutes of waiting while the yokels cash in their butter-and-egg money to get the prizes nobody could get for Christmas. Finally, I cash in on the two crappiest prizes in the whole place--such was the ticket-gathering skills of my cerebral children--a hand tattoo for Grace and a plastic sheriff's badge for Sarah.

As soon as I got the badge, I knew problems were coming. This thing was so cheap that it was getting ready to break. As I struggled to put it on Sarah's shirt, I handled it gingerly. The very rigid plastic clip fused to the back of the flimsy star gave no hint that it would accommodate the thick collar of Sarah's shirt. Just as I was convincing myself that it would be best to reconsider and try to attack it to her thinner pants waist (or pocket), I heard the predetermined CRACK!

Sure enough the piece of shit had broken in half--after a fifteen minute wait in lines and exactly 45 seconds of ownership. Sarah began tearing up and crying; I earned father-of-the-year awards for not screaming at the top of my lungs while choking half the employees of Gameworks. Lynda got us out of this sixth circle of hell and we decided to go to Claires for a cheap bit of costume jewelry that would make Sarah cheer up. Naturally, being New Year's Day, the Claires of Easton was closing. It was already after 6--how many hours of torture had we spend in that place?

Okay . . . plan C. We get in the car and drive to an area Target. No costume jewelry there but we find a very cheap toy that Sarah can be happy with. Now . . . time to eat!

We also received a T.G.I.FRIDAY'S gift card for Christmas and asked at the Target for the closest one, on Cleveland Avenue. It's nice and dark and based on our luck to this point, I was sure it would be closed. But, it wasn't! We got in and turned the evening around with a long, relaxing, stress-free dinner complete with drinks for mom and dad and dessert for everyone! The girls were very well behaved, played well, kept themselves occupied and Lynda and I got to talk, laugh, relax. Wonderful! Chances of going to Gameworks again? Is there a percentage that equals "When Hell freezes over?"

Afterwards . . . Got the kids to bed by 9:15 and the rest of the evening went uneventfully. Lynda did a little work, I watched a few funny episodes of Mythbusters. Got to bed by 1ish.


Anonymous said...


This post was hilarious and a little too familiar. One good thing about living this far behind the pine curtain is that we don't have these kinds of places. Viva Las Vegas, baby.

Sven Golly said...

The old wives know stuff.

I am just superstitious enough to believe every word of it, and besides, actions (and habits, and karma) speak louder than resolutions. I am planning the intervention now and penciling in a Gamblers Anonymous meeting on your behalf, so hang onto your butter-and-egg money, Mr. Wholesome Family Guy.

Sven Golly said...

Behind the pine curtain. I love that!