Life in the Waiting Room
The Pope: Not funny; Poop: funny


Once upon a time, not too long ago, Tommy used to work on the docks. Now the union’s on strike. He’s down on his luck. It’s tough.

Gina works at the diner all day. Working for the man, she brings home her pay for love.

“You’ve got to hold on to what you’ve got,” she says. “It doesn’t make a…

My thoughts on Joe Tait

I haven’t listened to Joe Tait call a full basketball game in years.

I got cable and DVR and kids and listening to games on the radio stopped making sense.

There was also a time in my life when I didn’t have cable and DVR and kids and I was just discovering basketball. Joe Tait was my teacher.

I fell in love with the game and the Cavaliers in 1989 when I was 9 years old and sat with my dad and watched for the first time on WUAB/43. I discovered Joe Tait shortly after when my parents bought me a clock radio and I figured out that I could lay in bed and listen to games without them knowing - or at least they pretended not to know.

My favorite Cavaliers season will always be 1991-92. Joe and I went through that season together. I sat in my room in the dark trying to muffle cheers and fight the urge to jump up and down. Joe sat in some arena somewhere, and I like to think he tried to do the same.

When the Cavs beat Miami by 68 that season, it was Joe Tait that told me. When Mark Price returned from the injury that ended his season a year earlier, Joe Tait let me know he was back. When the Cavaliers beat Boston in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, I ran up to my room so I could hear Joe call the closing seconds. I still remember the call, word-for-word.

When you live in a home without cable, you sit in your parents’ living room, 1950’s style, in front of their stereo to listen to games. You plan your day around it. You imagine the plays in your mind. You take mental notes so you can match the call with the highlight on the 11:00 news. Oftentimes, the former was better.

Anyway, Joe Tait’s calling it quits after tonight’s game. I have a lot of good memories of his calls. So do a lot of other people in Cleveland. I’ve never heard a bad word said about the man in a business where a lot of bad things get said about a lot of people.

I don’t know if the Cavaliers will ever win an NBA championship. I hope they do. Either way, my best Cavs memories will always involve Joe Tait telling me that Mark Price just put a “three in the air…Got it!”

Ohio State athletic department asks Cleveland fans to stop cheering for them

imageIn an unexpected move, the Ohio State athletic department has issued a press release asking fans of Cleveland sports teams to “no longer take any interest in Ohio State teams or players.”

The move comes just days after Ohio State was upset in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament by the Kentucky Wildcats and in the midst of an evolving scandal involving head football coach Jim Tressel.

"Nothing good ever happens to fans of Cleveland sports," said Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith in the release. "It would be best for all of us if those fans would disassociate themselves with our program and find another school to root for."

Smith went on to suggest the University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin and the entire SEC as candidates for Cleveland’s affection.

A source close to the athletic department says the decision to confront Cleveland fans was made after much deliberation. However, after two straight days of discussion, according to the source, the evidence was overwhelming.

"You can start with the basketball team’s tournament performances the last few years," said the source, who is familiar with the meetings and spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to discuss the matter. "From there, go back to the football team’s loss in Wisconsin this past season and multiple recent losses in BCS bowl games. When you combine that with Cleveland’s well-documented history, it all makes sense."

Opponents of the move cited the football program’s win over Arkansas in the Fiesta Bowl in January and the 2003 Fiesta Bowl win over Miami, which gave them the BCS National Championship, as proof Cleveland’s fans were not adversely affecting the athletics program, said the source. However, proponents cited that both wins came with controversy attached and were still not recognized as legitimate by some pundits and fans around the country.

"While we have not decided how to approach Cleveland sports fans living in Columbus," said school president Gordon Gee in the release, "we would recommend that they begin to familiarize themselves with the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals."

The release specifically mentions that those living in the 440, 216 and 330 area codes are banned from cheering for Ohio State, wearing Ohio State paraphernalia and wishing their favorite pro teams would draft Ohio State players. Fans living outside of those areas will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Fans requesting an exemption may do so in writing to the university within 90 days.

"We are thankful for the support of the fans of Cleveland for so many years," said head football coach and Berea native Jim Tressel. "We wish them the best of luck and, in the unlikely event that one of their teams wins a championship before everyone there dies, I’m certain we would be more than happy to reconsider."

Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson said through a spokesperson that he was unaware of any affiliation between the city of Cleveland and Ohio State sports and felt the city would be fine, especially because “we still have LeBron James to cheer for.”

Why hasn’t anyone written my unauthorized biography?

Justin Bieber has an unauthorized biography.

I do not.

This is why I generally consider my life a failure.

It’s not so much that I’m not a teen singing sensation living the high life of sold out arena concerts, junior high groupies and the ability to appear on iCarly whenever I want. Aside from the sold out arena concerts, most of that would lead to me needing to go door-to-door to introduce myself to the neighbors every time I moved.

It’s that I can’t comprehend how no one has found my life interesting enough to write a book about. Really, it wouldn’t be that difficult. So for anyone out there who needs a start in writing my unauthorized biography (*wink, wink*), here’s what you need to know:

My morning begins at about 6:30, though really I’m not out of bed until 6:45. I’m either a disheveled mess from feeding a baby during the night or spending most of the night dreaming about wrestling bears. I don’t know why. I get out of bed and take a lukewarm shower using Gillette products. I use Gillette because I heard once they’re the best a man can get, and I am a man (allegedly). Following my shower I get dressed, choosing from a wide variety of polo shirts, long-sleeved tees and a Montreal Canadiens shirt I got at Target for $6.95 (casual Friday, bitches.) I head downstairs, at which point I brush my teeth, fix the abomination on the top of my head called hair and put on some Old Spice deodorant. I don’t wear Old Spice because I’m an old man, though. I wear it because I heard somewhere that antiperspirant causes cancer and so I started getting deodorant only and that was the only brand I could find. It should also be noted that I have no problem with using a cell phone, which really seems like it’s more a cancer-causing threat than a tube of Gillette antiperspirant. (The best cancer a man can get.) I don’t know if deodorant containers are called tubes. Following my minimal amount of physical upkeep, I venture in to the kitchen and eat a bowl of cereal with just enough milk in it to make the cereal float. By now, my 3-year-old son has come downstairs and is laying on the couch growling at me when I try to talk to him. I also have started a pot of coffee, made with one tablespoon of ground coffee per cup. They are generous tablespoons. Following the completion of my cereal, I pack a lunch fit for any school-age child, complete with sandwich, yogurt, string cheese and hopefully some Jell-o or pudding. By now, I’ve also helped my 3-year-old go potty. You haven’t lived until part of your morning routine includes sitting on a step stool staring at a toddler peeing. With my lunch packed, my coffee poured in to my travel mug (3 teaspoons of sugar - I’m not afraid of you, diabetes - and a splash of milk), I throw my computer bag over my shoulder and head out to my Ford Focus to begin the journey to work. My commute is a usually hour-long affair that involves brake lights, stop-and-go traffic on the highway and NC-17 language that involves some variation of the word douche. My commute also makes it completely possible for me to arrive at work anywhere between 10 minutes early or 25 minutes late, even if I leave at the same time every day. I work for 8 hours plus a 1 hour lunch. After that, I begin the commute home. This is, again, an hour-long affair that involves even more variations of the word douche. By the way, I’m currently accepting nominations for different variations. I’ve already got douchemobile, douchenozzle and doucheface. I arrive home about 6:30, judging whether my commute was long or not by whether ‘Marketplace' has started on NPR. I walk in the door and am usually assaulted by my 3-year-old son who is likely wearing either only his underwear or a tank top and shorts because it looks like a basketball uniform. I eat dinner while he stares at my plate asking repeatedly if I'm done and, when I am, the playing of sports commences. This lasts until about 7:45 when it's time for him to throw a tantrum about going to bed. After he's asleep, I hold a baby for the rest of the night and watch things on our Netflix queue. I'm in bed by 11:00, cursing Comedy Central for having 'The Daily Show' on so damned late. Fist shaking is usually involved. I fall asleep and resume my dreams about wrestling bears.

Seriously, what does Justin Bieber do all day? Sing stupid songs? Besides, he can’t be nearly as happy with his life as I am mine.

My $7 toaster investment was not a wise one

About this time last year, my wife and I set out with tax refund in hand to purchase a new toaster. Something had happened to our old toaster - I don’t remember what. Let’s say it was some kind of explosion.

We went to Wal-Mart. My feelings about Wal-Mart are perfectly clear. But we got sucked in by the low, low prices and we were driving by a Wal-Mart when we decided to make our purchase.

We stood there and looked at the toasters and I had this epiphany that they’re all the same - you put bread in and it makes the bread warm and brown and why do we need to spend more than the $7 that one right there costs?

So we bought the $7 toaster and it was a good toaster except for the following small issues:

  • The bread stuck out of the top of the toaster while it was toasting.
  • The lowest setting either left frozen waffles frozen or severely burnt.
  • Anything toasted at 1 would be in the toaster anywhere between ten seconds and five minutes.
  • The outside of the toaster reached unsafe heat levels.
  • Right before it popped, you could hear the sound of an electrical surge.
  • Most bagels were too wide for the slots.

But if you’re in the market for a cheap toaster that isn’t good for toasting, I’d recommend this model. (Full disclosure: That’s not actually the toaster. It’s a different $7 toaster at Wal-Mart, and it actually looks way nicer than the one we bought.)

We finally got rid of the toaster after we realized that no frozen waffle is worth burning our apartment to the ground over and we bought a new one. My wife wouldn’t tell me how much it cost. Bread fits inside of it and I just learned that the little button with the red light and the picture of the bagel under it is a special “bagel setting.”

Still, I wouldn’t have paid more than $7 for it.

My dentist thinks I’m a kid

People don’t hate the dentist because of the drills and the scrapers and the trying to answer questions with a bunch of junk jammed in their mouths.

OK. They kind of hate the dentist for those reasons.

But the reason people really hate the dentist is because they treat you like you’re 12. Everything’s a lecture. You’re not flossing enough. You’re not brushing six times a day. You chew too much gum or drink too much coffee or play too much hockey. It’s always something with them.

It doesn’t help that my dentist assumes that I might, in fact, still be a minor. Witness the following exchange:

Dentist: Hi Daniel. Good to see you again.

Me: Hi. How are you?

Dentist: So, how’s school going?

A little background: I’ll be 31 in less than two months. I’ve held the same full time job with benefits for five years. I have two kids, two car payments and I don’t understand teenagers. By most standards, I’m an adult.

But this sort of thing happens to me often because some time around the age of 18 my body decided it was done. This was the end result. No more aging for me.

I’m constantly told that it’s not such a bad thing to look so young or that I’ll appreciate it some day, but it’s hard to feel like that when I’m getting ID’d to buy a lottery ticket or when the door man at a bar laughs when he checks my driver’s license. Grocery store clerks stand at the ready to page their managers when I take a six pack out of the cart and place it on the conveyor belt.

And now my dentist wants to know how school is going. I think for a minute that it might be fun to go along with this - to tell him that I just made varsity and I’m trying to decide between staying at home or studying abroad once I graduate. I could tell him that I decided I don’t need no stinking school and I’m crashing on my friend Bill’s couch for now because my parents won’t let me come home. I could just shrug and stay quiet in the best apathetic teen response I can muster.

But before I can do any of it, he realizes his gaffe and quickly covers it up by laughing and assuring me that it’s not such a bad thing to look so young and that, some day, I’ll appreciate it.

'Man v. Food' is teaching my son about the world

Man v. Food is an outstanding show, and my 3-year-old son agrees. Except for one episode where Adam Richman goes to Baltimore and eats crabs. Long story short, Ethan sees, in one scene, buckets of crabs alive and well. In the next scene, those same crabs are being eaten.

Ethan: Daddy, what happened to the crabs?

Me: They got cooked.

Ethan: But what happened to the crabs?

Me: They got cooked.

Ethan: But can they still move?

Me: Uh…

Ethan: Are they fake?

Me: (sigh of relief) Yes. They’re fake.

Being an effective parent means having the ability to tell a series of lies. There are a lot of uncomfortable conversations you have to have with your child as he or she gets older, and the longer you can put them off, the better. Eventually he’ll learn that Santa isn’t real, his sister didn’t just magically appear in Mommy’s belly and that the cat didn’t decide to get his own apartment. (That hasn’t actually happened yet, but the cat isn’t helping himself at this point.)

But the discovery I fear the most - for the moment at least - is when he realizes that burgers are made of cows; that chicken is actually a chicken; and that, no, the crabs can’t move anymore.

And every time I read him a book with a friendly fish or a magical cow, it’s only making it harder for me down the road. Because one day he’ll experience the horrifying feeling we all had the moment we realized there’s an outside chance dinner that night was Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web. It’s a guilty feeling we’ve learned to ignore every time we sit down to eat a 15-oz. steak.

It’s just a little more innocence lost, I suppose, same as when he realizes I’ve been lying to him about things this whole time.

My son hates pants

I just saw the following Facebook status update from my wife:

"Ethan comes home from school every day and immediately takes off his coat, hat, gloves pants and socks. Most of his day is spent pantless.

In a usual week, he spends somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 hours and 20 minutes a week at school. That’s four three-hour and five-minute long days spent coloring, playing with toys, arguing with other three-year-olds and sitting in something called circle time, which, to this point, I’ve only figured out involves sitting in a circle.

And, as if I doubted for a moment that his time in preschool isn’t constantly stimulating his mind, I had the following conversation with him last week, with names changed to protect the innocent:

Ethan: Is sharing caring?

Me: I don’t know. Who told you that?

Ethan: My teacher.

Me: Well then I guess it is.

Ethan: [Female preschooler 1] says it’s not.

Far be it from me to discourage lively debate amongst toddlers. In fact, in the course of his first four months of preschool, he’s managed to learn that dragons aren’t real, that hockey games have referees and that there may in fact be two Batmans.

The point of all this, though, is that at the end of those 3 hour and 5 minute sessions on Monday through Thursday, he’s earned the right to spend the rest of the day without pants - even if he will most certainly spend large parts of that day with a bike helmet on his head and socks on his hands.

Glory on the hardwood

I accomplished the following two things when I played basketball on my school’s Parks and Rec team during the three seasons of fourth through sixth grade:

  1. I got a rebound once and successfully dribbled the ball all the way to halfcourt before giving it to our point guard and hiding in the corner.
  2. Scored a career total of six points, including a four point outburst in one game. It could have been eight points in that game, but I missed two layups.

I was the kid that the coach looked at during the closing minutes of a blowout win and said, “The only thing we haven’t done is get Dan some points.” He actually said that. And then he drew up a play for me. And I got the ball at the top of the key wide open. And I shot it over the backboard.

I was the reason these leagues have rules that say you have to play every kid at least one quarter. The only saving grace to my basketball career is that I wasn’t the kid that wore jeans.

My next door neighbor and I spent hours a day outside in my parents’ driveway playing basketball. It was all we did. That and Tecmo Bowl. We played the old Tecmo Bowl where you had four plays to choose from, not the newfangled Tecmo Super Bowl with it’s fancy graphics and mind-boggling eight plays. Fuck that version.

But when we weren’t playing Tecmo Bowl, we were shooting hoops. And you know how many cuts we made combined once we started trying out for school teams in junior high and high school? Zero.

I met up with him at a local park to play basketball a few months ago. I’m 30 now. He’s 29. We got into a game with this group of guys and they were much better at basketball than either of us.

When the game was over we all went our separate ways and we overheard them asking each other if they’d gotten their prom tickets yet.

I’m considering retiring from the game of basketball.