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Wednesday, September 28, 2011


            There are several diseases that just aren’t funny. I cannot and will not ever joke about any type of cancer. Multiple sclerosis is a heart-wrenching thing to watch someone endure. Anyone that finds humor in AIDS might as well have it themselves because they clearly have no soul worth sharing with others anyway.
            But Alzheimer’s? Alzheimer’s is hysterical.
            My grandpa was officially diagnosed in 2008, and every subsequent family get-together was inherently entertaining. He was never a patient man to begin with, but as he got irritated over the misplacement of a newspaper or forgetting which channel ESPN was, cursing the entire situation with a “Goddamnit! Christ almighty!” vented his frustration and offered plenty of comedic fodder for my brothers and I to work with.
Growing up, Grandpa would generously send the three of us checks either at the beginning of the school year or the end of the school year or sometime around Yom Kippur even though much to my dismay, we’re in no way, shape, or form Jewish. My oldest brother would rake in a whopping $75, which would lead the na├»ve eye to believe that my other brother and I would be receiving the same fortune. Erroneous on all [bank] accounts. Middle Bro would collect a cool $50, and yours truly would be left with $25. Thanks Grandpa, how equally-divisible of you. The checks stopped a-coming around the time the thoughts stopped a-flowing, which is pretty unfortunate because as far as I’m concerned, I should’ve made my way up to at least $40 by now. But when a man has trouble dressing himself and obliviously wanders the streets at midnight with just his walker and a dream, it’s understandable when the silly nuances fall by the wayside.
As things progressed (or regressed, depending on how you look at it), the amusement factor skyrocketed. Grandpa had to move out of his house and in with my aunt, which was like a sitcom waiting to happen. Grandpa thought this meant he had upgraded to the penthouse at the Ritz, and like any true diva, immediately made everyone around him his bitch. While he could usually identify my dad after some gentle coaxing, my brothers were always some kind of room service attendant, my aunt and uncle were the concierge and maid, respectively, and my mom and I got to switch off acting as his “girlfriend” (sorry, Grandma). Talk about awkwardly-hilarious. Now I know how Anna Nicole Smith felt. We tried to remind him that we were family, but I’m pretty sure when you get to a certain age, you’ll call anyone anything they want as long as they’ll get you a glass of orange juice and find out what time the UConn game is on.
Grandpa was always good for a quick ego boost. A short note would usually accompany every check we received, telling us how ridiculously awesome we were. Of course, Grandpa would put his own twist on this seemingly standard practice of showing grandparental love. Instead of waiting for us to tell him about our achievements, he would pull a Ms. Cleo and adore us like some kind of geriatric fortune cookie.

Skylar, You’ve done a wonderful job in school this year, getting all A’s and just two B+’s! You played soccer in the fall and practiced very hard in order to make the all-star team. You are a beautiful dancer, taking ballet, tap, and jazz classes; you danced wonderfully in your end-of-year recital! You will grow to be an even more generous, kind, and loving person, and this next year will treat you even better than the last. Keep smiling and enjoy your summer.
Love, Grandpa and Grandma
Compare that to the blank stare and muttering of Polish we were met with as of late and it goes without saying that things were getting a little dicey up in this hotel.
            The day before I left for Austria, I got to see my grandpa. He hadn’t eaten in over a week and could barely open his eyes, much less write me a check or give me a compliment. Taking a cue from John Q, I told him, “See ya later” and with a peck on the cheek, went off on my adventure.
Since I couldn’t receive calls overseas, my mom informed me of his death via e-mail about a week and a half later. In a darkly humorous twist of fate, his funeral was scheduled for my birthday (pretty elaborate joke, if you ask me).
I obviously didn’t get to go.
I didn’t get to say a proper good-bye, I didn’t get to thank him for the many accolades, and I’ll never get to pay him back for all of the memories I had acquired over the years.
            It’s funny how things work out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You Play Ball Like A GIRL

Football season is one of the most trying times in a girl’s life.

Each year, for about 5-6 months, we are expected to be patient in the face of mood swings due to an unexpected loss; understanding when a low-key night of Netflixing snuggled up on the couch turns into an all-out brofest; and “interested” when dinner conversation centers confusingly around the quarterback’s injuries and how that’ll effect the rest of the season. The Super Bowl is our own personal celebration, signifying the end of all the madness while ushering in basketball season, which we can at least sort of follow.
Hate to break it to ya ladies, but there’s not much that can be done right now. You’re stuck in a whirlwind of “Babe I’ll be late picking you up, they just fumbled!” and “If they’re drafting fifteen or below I think it opens up more opportunities to include basically any position other then wide receiver or tight end, you know what I mean?”
No. No I do not. But you know what? I’m gonna grin and bear it because regardless of your nonsensical jabbering and the fact that I only cheer when everyone else in the room does, there are actually some aspects of football season that I enjoy:

Serious Stud Muffins: I am convinced that a large portion of the try-out process is based on how good a guy looks. This also pertains to soccer and lacrosse, but I digress. Naturally, the quarterback is always a major babe, unless he’s Peyton Manning, whose reputation precedes him so he can get away with being an arguable 6.5. I understand that all of the pads and protection are for safety’s sake, but sometimes I wish they’d take it back to playground rules so I could drool over Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush in all their glory. The best part is, regardless of how good of a player they truly are, attractive athletes are exploited to the nth degree by any and all women’s magazines. Gone are the days when a Google image search only returned results of sideline action shots or the occasional new Madden cover. Hot players know they’re hot, and when they do a sexy shirtless photo shoot that still maintains their masculinity because it’s appearing in Men’s Health (“no homo”), it’s only a matter of time before Cosmo secures them a spot in their “2012 Bachelor of the Year.” If only we could convince them all to hit a little gentler so as not to put those pretty faces in danger.

Adorable Names: Unfortunately, those huge space helmets get in the way of my ogling, so I’m forced to rely on the jerseys to distinguish who my faves are. Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez might be hottie totties, but their monikers leave something to be desired. Give me someone like Felix Jones any day. The guy’s named after a cartoon cat, how could you not immediately love him?! The mothers of these football stars knew exactly what they were doing when they signed that birth certificate, because anyone with a name like Bear Pascoe, Ovie Mughelli, or Ryan McBean was destined for greatness. My personal favorite, however, has to be Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith. LOVIE. SMITH. He sounds like he hangs out with the Teletubbies and washes his clothes in Snuggle fabric softener all the livelong day. This might in fact be true, because if the work-hard-play-hard theory has any clout, then after establishing his team as second in the league during his first two seasons – achieving a franchise-record 6 touchdowns via defensive return in 2004 and ranking second in overall defense in 2005 – Lovie Dovie can do whatever precious things he wants with his free time. I hear he enjoys painting rainbows and cried while watching The Fox and the Hound. What a sweetie-pie!

DWTS Contestants: Over twelve seasons, Dancing with the Stars has signed on eight former or current NFL players. Jerry Rice, Jason Taylor, and Warren Sapp all came in second place in their respective seasons, with Emmitt Smith and Hines Ward winning it all in theirs. Chad Ochocinco and Kurt Warner at least rounded out the top five, and I guess we’ll all just have to forgive Lawrence Taylor for resting on his Hall of Fame laurels too much to care (and whatever, he was a New York Giant so in my book, he can do whatever the hell he pleases). If ever a player has a remarkably good season or happens to do something remotely noteworthy, they can basically bank on an appearance on this show. Good job securing your spot when you did, Chad, because now that you’re back with the last name Johnson I doubt anyone would give you a second glance. What better way to spend Monday Night Football commercial breaks than to switch over to ABC to watch those hard-hitting man-beasts transform into graceful twinkle toes as they Paso Doble off the field and straight into our hearts.

Color Coordination: I don’t care how sports-savvy of a chick you are; everyone has walked into a room and squealed, “Ooh! Is teal beating silver?” Team names are hard, and with 32 of them to remember, it’s only logical that we revert to our comfort zone, which, in this case, is how cute their outfits are. Teams with expert fashion sense, such as the Giants, Falcons, Colts, and Raiders have colors I can work my wardrobe around, showing some spirit without looking a hot mess. No one looks bad in red and blue! Despite the fact that everyone rightfully hates the Cowboys and their quarterback is viewed as the Jesus of the South even though he has one good week for each of his umpteen embarrassing ones (can’t blame it on Jessica Simpson forever, Romo!), they’ve got colors I can work with. The same cannot be said for the Cincinnati Bengals. I can’t justify wearing Halloween colors five times longer than necessary. Redskins: maroon and gold? Potentially flattering on their own, but combine them and I look like I’m dressed in stale ketchup and mustard. And maybe it’s just the association with cheese that I can’t get myself past, but not even Lil Wayne singing greenandyellowgreenandyellowgreenandyellowgreenandyellow will brainwash me enough to support the color scheme the Packers have going on. I’m all for team distinction and showing your support, but can’t we all just do it in neutrals with the occasional pop of color? Just a suggestion, Mr. Commissioner…