The Priluck Flaming Swing of Death

This incident happened two years ago, today. I’ve patiently waited for enough time to pass as to not embarrass Justin. (He has read this and approved it.) Everyone is entitled to a bad day from time to time. Justin decided to compile all his bad days into one. And, it just so happened that all of this occurred while GWE was out of town for a week on a business trip. Here is what happened:

Justin and Garrett had just begun classes at a new school. Both were very excited about the new opportunities that lay ahead, but both were having some challenges. Garrett had gotten into a few physical altercations with his new classmates and Justin was trying to make a name for himself in a grade full of students who’d all known each other for since kindergarten.  

On a Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from the school. Garrett had been too disruptive in class again and they ‘encouraged’ me to come and get him. It was a busy workday, but I knew my mother-in-law would be in the area in a few hours to help. I was about to grab my keys and head for the door when the school called again.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Hi, this is….” I cut the person off because I thought I knew why they were calling. I responded abruptly with, “Yes, yes, I’m coming to get him. I need more that 5 minutes to get there.”

“Oh. Ok.” There was a pause. “Well, we’re in the nurses’ station when you get here.” I was confused. “Why is Garrett in the nursing station?”

“Garrett? I’m not calling about Garrett. I’m calling you about Justin. You need to come and get him.”

Now, I was totally confused. Did I need to pick up Garrett or Justin or both Justin and Garrett??? What the hell was going on?

I raced to the school, hopped out of the car, and dashed to the nursing station. My mother-in-law was already there, looking incredibly concerned. As I stepped into the room, I discovered Justin sitting in a wheelchair. He was cradling his arm, the nose looked like it had been mashed to one side, and there was blood. Blood on his lip, blood on his shirt, and bloody tissues everywhere. He looked miserable, in shock, and in pain.

The nurse on call told me that he had an accident. (Really?? Do tell!) She was unclear on the circumstances of what happened, but he clearly needed more medical treatment than a few band-aids and a Tylenol. She gave me the address to a pediatric urgent care. I asked my mother-in-law to take Garrett with her so I could take Justin with me.

That wasn’t the nose he was wearing when he left for school that morning.

We ‘wheeled’ him to my car and then he and I left for the doctor’s office. I think the initial shock of what happened wore off in the car because Justin (who was slightly comatose back in the nursing station) started to come to life. The pain had begun, and he was starting to feel it. The more uncomfortable he got, the faster I went.

I think it was at this point that I called GWE to inform her that her son had been broken. I give her credit. She did not panic…out loud. She knew it was under control and being 3000 miles away was going to limit her ability to help. We just needed to get him assessed as quickly as possible. The meltdowns could wait.

When we got to the urgent care, they rushed him in for an x-ray. The doctors confirmed that he had broken his wrist and they referred me to a Sports Orthopedist. They also examined his nose but did not have the ability to x-ray his head (which I assured him was empty, but he was having none of my humor.) Their guess was that he had broken the septum in his nose.  They referred me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. I set an appointment for the following morning.

Those x-ray glasses you can order from the back of comic books really do work!

The ENT quickly assessed that he did break his septum and that he would need a minor surgery to fix the blockage. Interestingly, the ENT also had an emotional support dog in their office. Did the dog go and support Justin – the patient? No. Instead, the dog felt as though I was in more need of emotional support than the damaged boy sitting across from me. He laid his head in my lap and pitied me. Or, he smelled bacon.

Over the course of the next few days, GWE got home, Justin got his arm wrapped in a cast, and he was scheduled and prepped for surgery. I spent about 20 minutes with him in pre-op talking about everything except what was about to happen. He talked about Yo-Kai and Nintendo….and then the drugs did their job and he was out.

GWE and I met him in post-op. He was heavily sedated, but slowly coming back to consciousness. At one point, he looked up at us and loudly proclaimed, “FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU….” Concerned, GWE and I thought he was about to blurt out a very bad word, but it was too late, “….UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDDDGE!” Yes – his first word was “Fudge.” Whew!

He lives!!!

It took a few days, but Justin finally returned to school. He had a cast on his arm (which I fitted with Velcro so he could attach his Yo-Kai watch) and a cast glued to his nose. For a kid who no one knew on a Tuesday, he was certainly a celebrity by the time he returned. Everyone knew his name!

Justin’s recollection of what happened is still a little fuzzy. He was swinging on the school swing set. He thinks that he lost his balance while going backwards and in order to “catch” himself, he put his arm out. His arm slammed into the ground and twisted. And, because his arm wasn’t there to support him, his face hit the ground. Ouch!

Once the dust had cleared, the injuries were tended to, and our collective parental blood pressure had stabilized, I told Justin that we needed something other than medical bills to remember this moment. We needed to memorialize this event with a plaque. I suggested that we should discreetly attach a sign to the bottom of the swing seat designating it, “The Priluck Flaming Swing of Death.”

Bohemian Rhapsody is a Torture Device

Much like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Echo, my children are always listening to my conversations and only responding half the time when their names are called. One afternoon I made the mistake of passively mentioned that I really, really, really hated something. Clearly, the boys heard me. From that day forward, Justin and Garrett have chosen to torture me with that knowledge.

I hate the song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” HATE IT!! The moment I hear the opening notes, I have a Pavlovian response that immediately pisses me off and has me reaching for whatever device it’s on so that I can turn it off (or smash it.) I hate that song. Why?

In 1992, during the height of “Wayne’s World”, I was working at a camp radio station. That song was requested EVERY SINGLE HOUR. Imagine listening to any song, 12 times a day, 7 days a week, for three straight months. Now imagine listening to that song (all 6 minutes and 7 seconds of it) over and over and over and over and over again. I would have gladly accepted water-boarding over listening to that song one more time. And for 25 years, I have not had to listen to that song…until Justin and Garret discovered my true hatred for it.

It began with Justin walking up behind me while singing, “Is this the real life?” I did my best “stop it” dead-eye-stare at him, but he just happily walked off. Garrett picked up on what was going on and he too would slowly creep up to me with a mischievous smile as he began to sing, “Is this the real life?” I learned to walk away. They requested it in the car (which I won’t play) and Justin tried to play it for me on iTunes. Angrily, I thwarted their attempts at making me listen.

GWE took a picture of the sheer joy on the faces of Justin and Garrett and they sang “Bohemian Rhapsody” to me in the middle of the LA Auto Show. The lady behind them thought it was funny. I did not.


So, now you know my weakness…my Kryptonite. I absolutely, unquestioningly, categorically, and conclusively HATE “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

To Queen, I say: “Let me go….let me go…..let me go ooh ooh ooh!!”

Justin’s Jelly Bean Prank Backfires

barf2Honestly, I’m a little behind with this blog. It’s not that I don’t have enough to write about. It’s that there’s too much to write about and the stories are getting backed up. So – let’s re-start slowly…

Last week, GWE took Justin to Six Flags on an afternoon when there was an early dismissal from school. While I worked, they had fun riding roller-coasters, eating junk food, and then sending me selfies of themselves riding roller-coasters and eating junk food. (Did I mention that I was working??) When I got home that evening, I expected to find Justin passed out in bed. To my surprise, he was awake…and oddly excited about something.

“Daddy!! I bought you some jelly beans! I know how much you love jelly beans,” Justin exclaimed. I could see that he was trying to contain his laughter, so I assumed he was up to something.

“No thanks. I’ll pass,” I replied – knowing that it would drive him a little nuts.

“Daddy! These are the best jelly beans! I bought them just for you!!!!!!!!” The giddiness was causing him to vibrate.

With cautious optimism, I took one jelly bean from his hand and popped it into my mouth. I did not chew. I just waited for him to respond. After a few seconds, I gave up and decided to eat the jelly bean. At first, it tasted like popcorn. And then…….this disgusting flavor and odor of dead fish invaded my mouth and nose. It was awful! Justin rolled on the floor laughing about how he got me as I scrambled to get the taste out of my mouth! While I gulped half a container of milk, Justin explained that I had eaten something called “Bean Boozled.” They are purposely awful jelly beans.


Justin thought I was over-reacting to how bad the beans were, so he decided to show me that he could eat any of them and it wouldn’t affect him at all. I told him that I would chose the bean and he would have to eat which ever I chose.

I chose “Barf.”

Justin took the bean and ate it with the same bravado you see from a drunk college student who is dared to drink an entire bottle of hot sauce. He smiled as he took the first two bites. All of a sudden, his expression changed. He coughed twice…..and then threw up all over the kitchen sink. The bravado on his face vanished and was replaced with confusion, fear, and tears. He was not expecting that as an outcome. After a few more dry-heaves and a glass of water, I tucked him into bed.

While tucking Garrett into bed, I heard Justin run down the hallway…then some banging….and then the sound of him running back to his room. When I went back into his room I asked him what happened. He responded, “Daddy. I threw out the jelly beans. I don’t want you to trick me with those beans ever again!”

Oh how the trickster becomes the tricked!

The Dentist and The Kid (and The Other Kid)

garrett-dentisSometimes, it’s not what happens to us that compels us to make a change, but it’s the things that we witness happening to other people that make us reassess our own choices in life. Case in point: Garrett recently experienced something, but it had a bigger impact on Justin.

While on a routine dental visit, the dentist discovered that Garrett had a small cavity. Even though the cavity was tiny, we knew that the task of getting it fixed was going to be monumental. Garrett is not a good patient. He does not like having dental equipment in his mouth, does not like the sounds that the equipment makes, and he has zero patience for sitting in a dental chair. GWE and I knew that he certainly wasn’t going to tolerate getting a shot of Novocain AND having his tooth drilled. I spoke with the dentist and he agreed that Garrett was a “hostile patient.” We decided that the only course of action would be to use nitrous oxide to keep him calm.

As the day of his cavity removal approached, GWE and I kept telling him (excitedly) about the “Firefighter’s Mask” the dentist was going to put on him on his next visit. Garrett was intrigued by the prospect of wearing a mask meant for firefighters in a dental office. As soon as he arrived at the dentist’s office, he asked to see the mask. He looked at it quizzically. It wasn’t like the ones he had seen at the fire station Skeptically, he got into the chair and put the mask on. Slowly, the dentist began to administer the gas. After a few minutes, Garrett was supposed to begin feeling the effects, so the dentist administered a shot of Novocain. Garrett felt it, realized what was going on, and began to fight back. Clearly, the gas had no effect on him.

In the meantime, GWE and Justin were in the waiting area and they could clearly hear what was going on. Garrett was screaming, shoving the dentist and hygienist away, and trying to escape while the we tried to keep him calm. I looked over to the lobby and saw GWE cringing. Justin appeared calm, yet slightly panicked as the blood drained from his face. After 30 minutes, I told the dentist that this wasn’t working and that we’d have to try again at a later date.

Knowing that his defiance had been successful, Garrett angrily hopped out of the chair and was at the front door in less than a minute. When we got in the car, Garrett was back to normal. What we didn’t know was that Justin was the one who was affected the most!

Later that afternoon, we had a normal lunch. Afterwards, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth.


After dinner, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth.

After breakfast the following morning, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth…again.

That night, after dinner, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth…again.

The following morning, we ended up running 15 minutes late. Everyone was in the car, except for Justin….who was still brushing his teeth…again!

Thanks to Garrett’s “Cavity Calamity,” Justin has brushed his teeth more times over the past 6 weeks than he has in his entire life!

The Legend of Zombie Kitty

zkTo compensate for my inability to decorate our house for Christmas (since I’m Jewish,) I found another way to satisfy my urge for holiday ornamentation. I decorate for Halloween! I’m not fulfilled unless the front of our house is covered in fake webbing, skeleton and spider lights, carved pumpkins, and all sorts of creepy critters. Each Halloween, I venture to the Halloween shop to pick up a few new odds and ends. Last year, Zombie Kitty and 2 Zombie rats were added to the mix.

Last Saturday, Garrett and I decided to pull out all the Halloween decorations while Justin and GWE were away. As we made our way through the bag, I re-discovered Zombie Kitty. Garrett and I chased each other around the yard scaring each other with him. And then, we had an idea! We decided to place Zombie Kitty in Justin’s bed….and not tell him.

When Justin came home, he commented on how much he liked the decorations. But, he quickly asked, “Where’s Zombie Kitty?” With a blank expression on my face, I replied, “I don’t know. I didn’t see him in the bag.”

Garrett was less vague. “JUSTIN!!!!! You need to go to sleep right now!” he screamed. (It was 1:30 in the afternoon.) Ten seconds later, he decided to take a different approach. “You’re in trouble. Go to your room!!” It would have been a little more convincing if he wasn’t laughing and vibrating with anticipation.


Justin marched to his room and found Zombie Kitty waiting for him. He yanked it out of bed and for the rest of the day, it became a game of “Where’s Zombie Kitty?”

Justin hid him in my home office. Then, Garrett hid him on the chair GWE uses to do her make-up in the bathroom. Then, it ended up in Garrett’s bed. Somehow, just as the kids were going to bed, it ended up under the covers on GWE’s side of the bed.

While I appreciated Justin and Garrett’s attempts to scare me with Zombie Kitty, I don’t think they appreciated my true talent of scaring the shit out of children under the age of 10.

After Justin went to bed, I snuck into his room and placed Zombie Kitty under the front of his bed. The following morning, he screamed as he returned from the bathroom and found Zombie Kitty waiting for him in the dark.

Zombie Kitty reappeared again last night under the dinner table in Justin’s seat. It had been hours since anyone thought about Zombie Kitty. Once he turned the corner and looked down, he jumped again at the sight of Zombie Kitty.

Once the boys went to sleep last night, I placed Zombie Kitty in Justin’s school backpack and zipped it up. He woke up this morning demanding to know where Zombie Kitty was because he didn’t want to be surprised anymore. I told him I didn’t know and ignored the topic while I rushed around getting the kids ready for school. As he was running out of the door, I asked him to put his lunch into his lunchbox. Once he unzipped his bag, he screamed again at the sight of Zombie Kitty staring back at him from inside his bag.


And finally, this evening, I placed Zombie Kitty in the dresser drawer he uses for school clothes. It’s been in there for hours and I don’t expect him to open the drawer until tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to hear his reaction!!


The Legend of Zombie Kitty continues…….

Justin’s Spanish Comic Book

During Justin’s final weeks of third grade, one of his homework assignments was to create a comic strip using the Spanish vocabulary words he had been assigned throughout the quarter. He was very excited about creating the comic strip. But, he was not thrilled at the prospect of trying to use his Spanish words to create a story. His plan was simple: create the comic strip first and then try to ‘massage’ the Spanish vocabulary words so that they fit the images.

His comic panels were great. But, as time went on, he struggled to find the right words to use. It was at this point that he made his biggest mistake: he asked for my help.

I do not speak Spanish. After five years of Spanish lessons, I can order a Chalupa at Taco Bell and ask for directions to a library. But, that’s about it. As I’ve confessed before, had I not been sitting behind Tammy Parks or Greta Jackson all throughout high school, I would have failed Spanish. Thanks to their unprotected classwork and my keen eyesight, I cheated my way to graduation. (Hey – “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying!”)

With my limited high school Spanish and a lot of help with Google Translate, I “helped” Justin with his assignment. Here are two examples of our collaboration:

Comic 1

In the first panel, a fight broke out. However, “punching” was not a vocabulary word. We decided to go with “Estoy tocando la cara con el puno,” which roughly translates to “I am touching your face with my fist.”

Comic 2


And finally, one character is laughing as the other one screams, “No me gusta bola de fuego!” This translates to “I do not like it when my balls are on fire!”  (I was sure someone would notice how inappropriate this was, but no one said anything! No note from the teacher….no call from the school.)

Somehow, Justin passed Spanish. I still owe a debt of gratitude to Tammy and Greta and I probably owe an apology to whoever read Justin’s comic book.

Lo siento!