Archive for November, 2011

Thanksgiving is awesome; Black Friday is stupid

Most sane adults can agree that Thanksgiving is the best holiday because of its simple focus on food and family. It has retained a purity of the original unlike any other holiday, which we have inflated to gargantuan behemoths through commercialism and personal irresponsibility. That’s not to say there is no drama; that recipe is simple: gather family to eat food, throw in a well-stocked side bar, and unpleasant truths will be served! As far as holidays go, Thanksgiving is the easiest to stomach and, as a weekend, the most relaxing.

ð Eating lunch while still in your pajamas because you won’t leave the house until leftover dinner with the family might be the best way to spend Black Friday.

ð A double-header Thanksgiving is lovely because of this syllogism: Thanksgiving is spent with good people; good people make good food; thus, Thanksgiving is good food.

Turkey bowl drumstick

ð Looking forward to the annual turkey bowl is not irrational because even if you drop two wide open touchdown passes then sprain your ankle walking backwards, it was still worth it.

ð A date with the wife to a friend’s house for another friend’s birthday party is something to be thankful for; her minding the kids and letting you sleep in the next morning is absolute undeniable unequivocal love.

ð Not leaving the house—hell, not getting out of my pajamas on Saturday is a wonderful treat. It’s not all sloth either, because I’ve been working, but even if I hadn’t been, because of Thanksgiving, I wouldn’t feel guilty indulging myself with two days in a row of not leaving the house.

ð The kids getting excited for Christmas, with the gratuitous decorations and all the pomp and waste, can thaw even this Grinch’s heart.

Hope you enjoyed yours as much as I enjoyed mine. Here’s to looking forward to next year…


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Bring out the Grinch

It has begun. Not the Costco kind of Christmas displays before Halloween but the full on yuletide yoyos. And I was Griswald.

Since I had to drag the kids with me to pick up work downtown, I decided to treat them to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. I prefaced it by saying we would only be buying Christmas gifts for others. But I wanted to buy every thing there.


The first exhibitor was freakin’ Legoland. I didn’t have Legos as a kid, or if I did I acutely knew the true Lego kids, so my kids have a shit ton of Legos. But they play with them every day. Five minutes into the Expo I had to drag away my begging son to the next exhibitor. By the end he’d forgotten all about the overpriced Danish brick.

We lost a half hour playing with citiblocs, or hipster Lincoln logs, then we had a cookie, played Bug Out, rode cars, mugged with Darth Vader, hopped on a pogo stick, watched a shark fly to the ceiling, then mini helicopters, scribbled on Doodle Rolls, played catch with a hand trampoline and finally had lunch at 4pm. I blew $50 and that was with full restraint. Could’ve spent $500.

Then the kids talked me into Happy Feet Two at the IMAX. And yes, even dancing singing preachy penguins can be cool on 60 three-dimensional feet.

Now I must tell you about parking, for all of the fatherhood wonders there is nothing like parking that can make or break an adventure. When we arrived the garage was full, and cycling around the pier, I found a side road, a quarter block really, east of the new park between Grand and Ohio and just west and under LSD. There were maybe ten cars on either side; the west side of this quarter block, by the park, had a pay box, but the side opposite had nothing except the green curtain of the construction site. No pay box. I linger on the details because I wish that you would park there, even if you have no business there, just to park for free in the city, in an area where $3/hr is a steal, and garages cost you $26, park in this 10-spot Xanadu, sit at the end of the block if you want and watch all the people fighting for parking and racing against tickets and emptying their wallets in the garages; go out on a Saturday or Sunday when there’s no construction, go out and park, my friend, park and revel for free, park for free in this City of Fines and tell me you don’t believe in a god.

My blessedness ended abruptly.

Tail lights stacked red like an orgy of depraved elves. Even a fire engine wasn’t moving. I cut over; all west bound lanes were closed. Pedestrians were out like occupiers. The lit the tree. What could be stupider than a shut-down-the-street-tree-lighting ceremony? A fucking parade. There, after eight hours at Navy Pier, I was caught in premature Christmas ejaculate on the Malfeasant Mile, saying words the kids said I shouldn’t be saying.

Took a half-hour to circle back around to Columbus to get over the river and out of Ho-Ho-Hell when, what to my wondering eyes should appear? Fireworks. The kids put down their windows, told me to stop, gawker walkers spilled onto the street, and we crawled over the bridge. But now this was very cool: the police had blocked off the middle of the bridge, presumably so the barge launching the fireworks between the Columbus and Michigan bridges wouldn’t shoot anybody’s eye out. We got a drive-by firework show, at eye-level. A moment of splendor: the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day. The spectacle ended as soon as we crossed the bridge. Then we were outta there.  Enough for one season.

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Boob Job: guest essay by Patrick Wensink

We signed up for Breastfeeding 101–Patrick Wensink

This is not the author! Click for info.

I am not yet a father*. My son, Walter, is due to arrive sometime in November. Since my wife and I have no child raising experience beyond her lucrative babysitting gig in 1994, we figured we should learn the basics.

So, we’ve been reading baby books that gently scare us to sleep each night with visions of spinal meningitis and SIDS and warnings against giving Walter sweet-ass dragon tattoos before age 5. Luckily, our hospital also offers free seminars for expectant parents. The first one we signed up for was Breastfeeding 101.

I pictured some calm collection of plump-bellied ladies and their doting daddies sitting in a circle, learning about that miracle of miracles, free baby food!

Instead, we were boxed into a massive conference room that reminded me of a tricky timeshare shakedown we attended in Portland, OR, which promised a free trip to Vegas. This room, instead, had free graham crackers and apple juice. The walls were bare and the tables were sterile and the scrub-clad lactation consultant led us via PowerPoint presentation. The setup felt like the days before I was a professional writer, back when I had a real job at a life insurance company. I spent most of the two-hour session in a sprinter’s position, ready to bolt at the first mention of “accidental death and dismemberment,” “team synergy” or “getting traction on this new project.”

Luckily, the entire seminar was helpful and informative. So informative, I actually took notes. Below is a verbatim transcription of my notes from our breastfeeding class.

• Strong foods like chili and Mexican food can flavor breast milk 4-6 hours after eating. Yum! Best of both worlds, eh, Walter?

• Apparently, the baby is not big enough to fend for itself until 39 weeks.

NOTE TO SELF: Buy Walter a switch blade if he is born early.

• Man, how many nipples has this lactation consultant seen? More than a porn director? I bet way more than a porn director.

• According to the lactation consultant, for the first hour after childbirth we go to some place called “Kangaroo Care”. If there’s not a bouncy pit I will be pissed.

• If the baby pinches the nipple while feeding, mom is supposed to use her pinky and press down on his tongue to get him to unlatch…and if that doesn’t work, swat him with a rolled newspaper and say: “No!” and “Bad!”.

• Dear Producer of this Breastfeeding How-to Movie:

That’s enough Rosie O’Donnell look-alikes, thank you.

• This breastfeeding movie is like some Cold War-era CIA brainwashing technique—You broke my spirit. I never want to see another nipple as long as I live. I will give you my name, rank and serial number.

• According to the lactation consultant, we are not supposed to use a microwave or bottle warmer to heat chilled milk. So, I’m assuming that means stir frys are okay?

NOTE TO SELF: Put a wok on the baby shower registry.

*Ed. Note: Congratulations to the Wensink family on the healthy, early birth of Walter Wensink on 10/26/11.


The author with baby

Patrick Wensink is the author of two books: Black Hole Blues (2011) and Sex Dungeon for Sale! (2009). One of those titles embarrasses his mother more than the other—guess which one? His next novel will be published in 2012. He is also a regular contributor to We Who Are About To Die.



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