passaic-valley

Dad in the Box

April 1, 2014

My younger son experienced his first shave the other day.  He is fourteen and starting to show faint shading above his lip.  It is no longer a milk mustache, as he claims. I pity him.  For most of his life he will now be hacking up his delicate skin with sharp blades of finely machined ...

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According to the news, which I can’t seem to escape, I have no privacy. Information is being gathered about me, legally and illegally, every minute of everyday from every possible source I come in contact with.   My phone betrays me, my computer games betray me, my credit card betrays me, my ...

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SCENE I.  From a television set in New Jersey an image of a golden statue rotates slowly on a pedestal while a honey-throated announcer begins a much anticipated telecast. Announcer: Welcome to the Academy Awards show, brought to you live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California!  It ...

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to plunge into an Olympic halfpipe on a snowboard?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly like a tomato straight up in the air 20 to 30 feet?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spin and flip and soar in a graceful arc ...

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Living in New Jersey, I don’t know who to root for on Super Bowl Sunday: the Denver Broncos, the Seattle Seahawks, or the weather. Super Bowl XLVIII (pronounced forty-eight), one of the world’s most celebrated and media hyped events, is being played outdoors this Sunday in East Rutherford, ...

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5:30 AM.  Annoying alarm.  Warm bed.  Hit snooze. 5:40 AM.  Annoying alarm.  Warm bed. Hit snooze. 5:50 AM.  Annoying alarm.  Warm bed.  Hit . . . Damn. Need to get up.  Need will power.  Need coffee.  6:00 AM.  Need bathrobe too.  Icy draft whipping up through boxers. 6:02 ...

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Silly me.  I always thought the Polar Vortex was something husbands step into when they forget their wedding anniversaries. It turns out the Polar Vortex is actually a very real weather phenomenon that has been attributed in recent days to sinking much of the country into record breaking ...

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  ‘Twas a week before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring . . . not even my teenage son who was supposed to be home. He had left the house earlier in the evening during a delightfully soft and thick December snowfall to drive his girl friend home.  They ...

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Like many high school seniors across the country, my older son is anxiously sweating out essay questions as part of the college application process.   The essay is the chance for young applicants to differentiate themselves in 800 words or less from all the other accomplished kids who are vying ...

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Thanksgiving is a holiday rich in tradition.  For many families it is a day when relatives gather at linen covered tables laden with serving bowls each brimming with an over abundance of food.  The kitchen is toasty warm and smells of tantalizing turkey juices and buttery rolls and that strange ...

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This fall my younger son took up cross country distance running as a sport in middle school.  I found this particularly odd because as a rule he does not like physical activities that involve heavy breathing—although I am sure this will change someday after he discovers girls. I have come to ...

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They say when you fall off your horse you should pick yourself up and get right back on.  I am not sure the same advice should be applied to high heels. I don’t have much personal experience in these sorts of shoes, although I did try walking on a pair of stilts once.  But I must say, they ...

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Non-essential functions have ceased . . . confidence is rapidly eroding . . .  the house is in turmoil . . . Forget the government, after 20 years of dutiful service our housekeeper, Maria, has left us. And unfortunately, I don’t do housekeeping well.  Or at all, for that matter.  In ...

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Ten years ago I wrote an article on backyward swing sets.  It is clear that even then I was hard pressed for things to write about.  But at the time I was desperately looking for ways to keep my young children occupied through the long days of school-less summer.  So I built them a swing ...

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The joy of going back to school lasts exactly one day. After that the schedules kick in. And now that my kids are older, it seems their activities in and out of school have become wildly demanding:  games here, extracurricular activities there, rehearsals at this time, practices at that ...

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Nobody move or the old man dies. My son is holding a finger to my head.  Sandwiched between his forefinger and my temple is a loop of a rubber, which is stretched menacingly taut by his other hand. “What’s it to me?”  Asks my daughter calmly, aiming her own finger-triggered rubber band ...

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Our campus tour guide puts his best foot forward behind him.  Apparently, walking backward is a prerequisite for student-led tours. “Hi, my name is Ben.  I am a rising-senior.  I double major in Business and Ancient Greek studies.  I am captain of the Ultimate Frisbee Club and I am a ...

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Dear NSA, There is a cell of three teenagers living in my house.  I am not positive, but I think this automatically qualifies them as domestic terrorists.   So I was wondering if you could spy on my kids for me. Oh, I am not talking about the old-school cloak and dagger stuff, I was ...

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. . . just as soon as I finish this level . . . This is how my thirteen-year old son responds whenever I call him to dinner.  He usually doesn’t show up, and when I call him again he is on a new level so the response remains the same. From experience I have learned that computer games do ...

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The nasty bugs were everywhere; an undulating mass of tiny brown nymphs inching up trees and telephone poles and doorways and traffic signs.  I tucked my pant legs into my socks for fear the hideous things would tickle their way up my bare shins.  And these were the latecomers.  The first to ...

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I hear lots of interesting things from the back seat of the car.   For example, it was in the car that I learned that the thinning hair on the crown of my head is now a bald spot the size of a small dinner plate.    My kids tend to exaggerate. But I usually don’t respond to these tidbits ...

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I owe HOW much? This is the way I usually greet my tax accountant who I see once a year.  Sometimes I even say hello before I destroy his office.   Each April I walk in with a shoebox full of receipts looking for legitimate deductions toward something creative, like diminished farm ...

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Let me just say right off the bat that I love food.  The more the better.  Especially greasy, salty, spicy foods that are not good for me.  Hmmm. My favorite! But, I am NOT a foodie.  I have no interest in frequenting the latest esoteric trendy restaurants run by edgy tattooed chefs fresh ...

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I have three.  For several years I had one.  Then, just like that, on a birthday, I had three.   I am talking about teenagers. They stay up all night.  They sleep all day. They wear headphones and stagger like the undead in search of junk food, abandoning dirty clothes and empty soda ...

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Today is Valentine’s Day.  Expectations are high.  There are cards to sign, poems to write, flowers to buy, candy to secure, restaurants to indulge, intimate gifts to exchange, kisses of joy and passion to share.  There are entire industries to support.  It is quite a fiscal ...

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Greetings sports fans!  Super Sunday is fast approaching and if you are like me, you probably want to catch up with the latest Super Stories so you can hold your own at your Super Family Super Bowl Party.  Super.  Let’s get started.  This year the NFL Super Bowl XLVII pits the AFC ...

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I am a trendsetter.  This is territory with which I am totally unfamiliar.  I have never in my life been ahead of the curve on anything. Not even when the fifties were the new forties.  Not even when I lounged in a Snuggie and watched reruns of South Park.  Not even when I wore ...

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Not only is there no god, but try getting a plumber on weekends. - Woody Allen I have been thinking a lot lately.  As my wife will tell you, this is a dangerous situation, which usually ends up badly.  Sometimes I think in the shower.  Or in the car.   Or standing in line.   Always ...

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I have been traveling through airports a lot recently.  Airline travel is a form of transportation in which passengers are packed into sardine cans without preservatives and shot out of a canon to their final destination, wherever that may be.   Thank god we have our choice of carriers. It ...

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The lights flickered fitfully before dying completely.  Like the extinguished gasps of dead men who know too much.   Outside the hurricane winds uprooted trees and bullied unprotected houses.  And then the world went dark. It’s a funny thing about light.  You need it to find it.  You ...

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