Archive for January, 2009

Albums and Records

If you’re going to talk music with me, you may as well learn some of the words I use. Most of you noobs have been screwing up the terminology for a long time and I’m not willing to go along with it anymore. (By noobs, I mean anyone who was born after 1974 or who doesn’t know what a 45 insert is.)

My consternation comes from the fact that a CD is NOT a collection songs released at one time by a musical group or artist. A CD is a compact disc. A compact disc is the medium the songs are stored on.

Here is my short lexicon of musical terms. You may as well get used to them, I’m not changing.

  1. Album: An album is collection of songs released by a musical group or artist. This collection can be compiled on any number of medium including (but not limited to) compact disc, cassette tape, vinyl LP, mp3, and whatever-the-hell format iTunes uses.
  2. Record: A Record is the song (or songs) promoted by the band or recording company that you hear played on the radio or MTV-like programming. This is more commonly called the Single.
  3. Song: Man, I hope that one is obvious to you.
  4. B-Side: You don’t hear this one much anymore. The B-Side is a song released with the Single that was usually not part of the album. It was called the B-Side because it was recorded on the opposite side (the “B side”) of the 45 rpm single. We hipsters always maintained the B-Side was better than the single; hell, we said it was better than anything on the album.
  5. 45 (aka 45 rpm single): The term 45 is no longer in use, though there is a chance that I might slip and use it to mean the Single. It used to mean a small vinyl recording that had to be played at 45 rpm on your record player. The only reason you ever bought the 45 was so that you could own the B-Side.

And I’m not even going to get into the distinctions between LPs, EPs, and 78s.

Stop saying CD when you mean album. Don’t say, “I’m going to download the new Kings X CD from Amazon when it comes out.” You sound like a noob.

This has been a Public Service Announcement from your JimFormation HTML Network.

Of Boys, Swords, and Balloon Animals

Once a year my wife volunteers at a local Head Start and makes balloon animals for the kids. The children are between 3 and 5-years-old. Her plan is always to make one type of balloon animal for all this kids; this way no child feels s/he got ripped off.

They could pick whatever color they wanted, but she limited them to that one animal.  This, she figured, would stop arguments and quell hurt feelings before they happened.

Balloon puppies only. Smart plan.

“Many of the boys wanted swords,” she told me afterwards.

“Did you make them swords?” I asked.

“No. I made them puppies.”

“Did they have sword fights with the puppies?”

“Of course they did.”

25 Random Things

  1. I secretly like internet memes. I know it’s not hip, but memes always give me something to write about.
  2. I cry at dance recitals. Not open weeping, but I tear up a little bit. I don’t know why.
  3. I wish there was a good word that I could call my friends when they act all girlie-weenie that offended neither women nor homosexuals.
  4. I went to Florida on Spring Break when I was a kid. I didn’t hook up with any girls. My wife doesn’t believe that story.
  5. I love my wife.
  6. Billy Smith is my all-time favorite athlete. He was the New York Islanders goalie back in their dynasty days in the 1980′s. He used to drink beer on the rocks; I tried it and didn’t like it.
  7. The State of New Jersey has issued me a license that implicitly states that I can insert a catheter in your bladder through your urethra. However, I can’t do it willy-nilly.
  8. I sleep with a cuddly, nap-time football. I have since I was 11-years-old.
  9. I sleep with the radio on. It has to be talk radio. Music keeps me awake.
  10. I can’t visualize. But I’m really good and imagining proprioceptive awareness (look that one up).
  11. I hate writing. I love having written.
  12. I’ve never smoked a cigarette, toked the marijuana, or snorted a line of coke. Reason: A love of drugs really fucked up my mom’s life.
  13. I can hit a golf ball 300 yards but often have trouble making a 3-foot putt. That’s golf.
  14. I am an unabashed, unashamed car singer.
  15. I became an instant expert on every sport showcased on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. I blame Jim McKay.
  16. I am not religious. I am not spiritual. I follow no faith. I believe what Jesus taught is the most beautiful and pure philosophy that has ever been popularized.
  17. WWJD? I know what Jesus would do. He would abandon all his possessions, renounce his family, and walk around the country healing the sick, feeding the poor, and teaching tolerance, forgiveness and patience.
  18. I worked with a gay guy for two years that thought I was gay. He, and many other gay guys, used to hit on me.
  19. Gay guys don’t hit on me anymore. I guess I lost it.
  20. I count among my personal possessions: 2 sets of go-to golf clubs, 3 jiu-jitsu kimonos, one HP laptop, a rage of manly tools, a John Deere riding mower, and 2 rings. Everything else I own is property I share with my family. (Okay, I lied. I share the mower with the 4-year-old.)
  21. I have 5 pets: a mixed up dog (whose pedigree is rife with champions), a snooty cat, a singing canary (whom I named “Yellow Bird”), a hamster (whose ass hangs out a little too far for my tastes), and a white dwarf hamster that looks like a cotton ball with beedy black eyes.
  22. Last summer I ran over a snake with my riding mower. (That’s nothing. The summer before that my friend ran over a clutch of baby rabbits.)
  23. I built stairs and turned the attic of my old house into a loft. I did it without permits. I’ve also put up a fence beyond my property line; also without a permit. I’M AN ANARCHIST!
  24. I am the graphic designer that creates all those horrible-schlocky ads you see in your weekly local papers. It’s not all my fault though. Tis is what the boss wants. Do you know why he wants them? Because you people respond to the little messages he puts in the bursts. If you’d stop, I’d be free to design better ads.
  25. I don’t believe in astrology, ghosts, or angels sent from heaven. I don’t believe in telekinesis, mind reading, or fortune-telling psychics. I don’t believe in mystic healers, voodoo, or talking to the dead. I don’t believe in little green men in space ships, the Jersey Devil, or Bigfoot. I don’t believe there was a shooter in the grassy knoll.

    But I believe there is more to this world than we see, hear, feel, and taste. I believe there are connections that we don’t understand. I believe there are things that we can’t understand.

    I believe in love.

It’s Not Jiu-Jitsu (A Eulogy)

The Old Man died yesterday. He was 95-years-old. He died in his sleep in a hospital. He’d gone to the hospital several days before complaining of stomach pains.

The Old Man is Helio Gracie, the father of modern jiu-jitsu. I’m not going to get into a lengthy biography here, but you can find out most everything that you’d want to know by reading his 2001 Playboy interview.

The point I hope to make is that the jiu-jitsu I’m learning today is not the jiu-jitsu that The Old Man started developing 75 years ago.

I started training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in the late-1990′s. This was before Helio Gracie’s son, Royce Gracie, took on and defeated all comers in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship; thus establishing Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as a fighting style where a small man can overcome the size and strength of a big man.

When I started studying there were only one or two Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools in the United States. One was The Old Man’s oldest son’s, Rorion, school in Torrance, California. The other was his nephew’s, the Machados, school. I don’t remember where the Machado’s school was originally located.

Helio Gracie, 94 Years Old
Helio Gracie training with his eldest son, Rorion. Helio is 94-years-old.

Here in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, we didn’t have schools as much as we had clubs. Some of us had picked up bits of instruction here-and-there and were sharing it with each other in places like Steve Maxwell‘s Maxercise gym in Philadelphia and Dave Lentz‘s Professional Karate Academy in Red Bank, NJ. I was training at Dave Lentz’s club and going to Philadelphia when Royce Gracie came out from California to hold classes.

(An Aside: I assume that we weren’t unique. There were probably loose jiu-jitsu clubs forming all over the United States. Certainly after Royce’s success in the UFC clubs formed and instructors emmigrated from Brazil to the United States to teach.)

Craig Kukuk, the first American to get a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, moved from California (where he was learning jiu-jitsu from Rorion) to New Jersey and began teaching at Dave Lentz’s school. There he led small group of about 20 or 25 students. I was one of those students.

The jiu-jitsu I was learning from Craig was one person removed from Helio. That person being Helio’s eldest son, Rorion. (As a matter of history, Craig travelled to Brazil to get his black belt — to the school that Helio founded.)

Helio and Rorion’s jiu-jitsu (brandnamed: Gracie Jiu-jitsu) was a no-nonsense self-defense/fighting discipline. There were few sportive qualities. It was about how not to get punched and how to get into a position where you can either “punch without being interupted” or end the fight by choking your adversary out, breaking one of his bones, or tearing out one of his joints. It was simple, direct, and efficient. Undiluted.

I trained for only two or three years and quit. I had attained the rank of blue belt (there being only five belts in jiu-jitsu). I quit for several reasons: 1) my job situation changed and I was commuting an hour-and-a-half to work (the school was 30-45 minutes from home), 2) Craig had a falling out with Rorion, and 3) I felt that I was no longer learning how to defend myself and was only learning to counter my fellow students.

I quit in 1994 or 1995, I’d taken it as far as I wanted. Over the years I still trained with my brother-in-law, Nelson, who was my partner in the beginning years — he continued training and now wears a brown belt. Recently, seeing the popularity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu increase, I decided to stick my toe back in the water.

For the last two or three weeks, I’ve been going to a local Brazilian Jiu-jitsu school. The instructor’s lineage to the art comes from the other side of the family: Helio’s older brother, Carlos. Carlos’s jiu-jitsu was much more athletically-minded and relied more on strength and agility. His students gravitated toward sporting competitions like jiu-jitsu tournaments and no-holds barred matches. And I can see the difference.

The difference is best highlighted when you consider the admonitions the instructors give during live training, now compared to fifteen years ago.

Now you hear my instructor and senior students typically yelling:

20 seconds! The round is going to end in 20 seconds! You’re behind! You need the points! Go for a reversal or sweep! Take a chance on the submission!

15 years ago, Craig typically warned:

Where are his hands! Be careful; he can hit you! You don’t want to be hit; no one is punch proof!

No strength! No strength!

This was driven home when I read this quote from The Old Man, released by Rorion, as part of his eulogy:

“The Jiu-Jitsu that I created was designed to give the weak ones a chance to face the heavy and strong. It was so successful that they decided to create a sportive version of it. I would like to make it clear that of course I am in favor of the sportive practice and technical refinement of all athletes, whatever their specialty may be, as well as good nutrition, sexual control, avoidance of addictions and unhealthy habits. The problem lies in the creation of a sport-oriented Jiu-Jitsu, based on rules and time limits, which benefits the heavier, stronger, and more athletic individuals. The primary objective of Jiu-Jitsu is to empower the weak who, for not having the physical attributes, are often intimidated. My Jiu-Jitsu is an art of self-defense in which rules and time limits are unacceptable. These are the reasons for which I can’t support events that reflect an anti Jiu-Jitsu.” (Emphasis mine.)

Nelson warned me. He said, “It’s different now, Jim.”

It is different. I prefer Helio’s jiu-jitsu.

My Sister-In-Law’s Boobs

After having two children, my wife’s sister opted for a boob job. I don’t know the details of said job, I just know that she fills out her shirt a little more fully than she had in the past.

“From my angle, your boobs looked fine before,” I told her shortly after her surgery.

“You were looking at my falsies, perv,” she said. “Hell, they’re still in my closet. I’ll give them to you and you can take them out to look at them any time you want. You’ll be pleased; they even have nipples.”

I’m still waiting for them.

I told you that story to tell you this one:

Her oldest son is eight-years-old now. The other day he asked her if she had ever had surgery.

Without thinking, she answered, “Yes.” He was quick with a follow-up question.

“What? Did you break your ankle?”

She knew where this line of questioning was going and was concerned. “No. Not my ankle.”

He started naming suspected surgery sites starting at the ankle and moving north. ” Your knee? … Your leg? … Your hip?”

“No. No. No.”

“Your penis!”

“I’m a girl. I don’t have a penis.”

Skeptical he said, “They took it off, didn’t they?”

Finally he got to her breasts. “Your boobs. Did you have surgery on your boobs?”

Defeated, she just said, “Yes. My boobs.”

He thought about that for a moment and then gave her some advice: “Maybe you should just tell people you had surgery on your ankle.”

If I Had a Million Dollars

Many years ago, I found myself around table with a bunch of drunken friends. We were having the “What Would You Do for a Million Dollars?” conversation while playing a game of quarters.

We’d run the usual gamut of questions when I noticed Joe, eyes closed in thought, he hadn’t said a word. “Hey, Joe. What would you do for a million dollars?” I asked.

He opened his eyes and serenely looked at me. “You know, Jim. I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t do for a million dollars.”

It was the best answer I’d ever heard.

I’ve always been more curious about the creative questions that people come up with rather than their answers. Hell, I’d already heard the best answer from Joe.

With that in mind, what would you do for a million dollars? And remember, a million dollars is a lot of lettuce. And, if a million isn’t good enough for you, how about five million? 20 million?

  • Would you twist off a cat’s tail? Would you stick him in a sack and roll him off your roof? Hold him under water in the bath tub?
  • Would you drink a cup of urine? Wet yourself in an elevator? Drop trow and defecate in the bleachers at Yankees Stadium?
  • Would you have homosexual sex to completion? If you can’t complete, just going hard at it for five minutes?
  • If you are homosexual, would you have heterosexual sex (see above)?
  • Would you have sex with your wife’s (or husband’s, etc.) best friend? At their wedding? In front of their children?
  • Would you sleep with Rosie O’Donnell? Hillary Clinton? Sally Jesse Rafeal? How about a group thing with them?
  • Tell your spouse that you’ve been cheating on him/her even if you haven’t? And live that lie for a day? A week? A month?
  • Go without any personal hygiene for a month? Girls that means, well, you know what that means … it is a month I’m talking about.
  • Would you walk into a jewelry store and steal a diamond necklace from the counter? How about throwing a brick through the glass case and grabbing what you can and running?
  • Would you stay in a maximum security prison for a year? Would you stay there without pants?
  • Get snot drunk and drive 20 miles home? At 80 miles per hour?
  • Would you not feed your school-age children for a day? While you ate? A lot? Their favorite foods? With them watching every meal?
  • Lock your school age children out of the house for 24 hours? 48 hours? A week?
  • Punch your spouse in the face? Hard? Repeatedly?
  • Would you interrupt your best friend’s wedding and try to stop it? By singing “Relax(Don’t Do It)” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood at the top of your lungs? In Boy George drag?
  • Would you sincerely tell your whole family that you’re gay? If you are gay, would you tell them that you’ve been living a lie and that you’re really straight?
  • Would you steal from a homeless person? Would you let a homeless person live with you for a week? Would you trade places with a homeless person for a week?
  • Would you go food shopping with no pants on?
  • Would you rape someone?
  • Would you kill a random stranger with no chance of getting caught? How about if there’s a chance of getting caught? Would you kill someone you know? How about a friend? A member of your family?

Finally –

  • Would you walk up to the clergyman’s wife during services and fondle her boobs?

Everybody SING!

Abortions. Naturally.

Anyone who says that life, that a baby, that a person begins at conception is deluded.

Anyone who says that a fetus, until it leaves the womb, has no personhood is deluded.

Conception occurs the moment a single sperm enters an egg. This happens in the fallopian tube and is called fertilization. A fertilized egg is called a zygote.

For about a week the zygote floats around inside the fallopian tube on its journey to the uterus. Once in the uterus, it attaches to the uterine wall and becomes an embryo. This is called implantation. Technically pregnancy starts at implantation.

Here’s something that most people don’t realize: About half of all successful implantations don’t become babies. Let me say it another way, half of all successful pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion.

More than half of these spontaneous abortions occur before the woman even misses her period; slightly less than half occur after the implantation is recognized as a pregnancy.

It’s thought that a substantial number of fertilized eggs are probably aborted even before implantation occurs.

Heavy periods may be a sign of the shedding of an embryo that, for any number of reasons, the woman’s body said, “This isn’t the right time to have a baby” and gets rid of (aborts) the embryo.

Late and missed periods might be unexpected, naturally terminated pregnancies.

It’s clear to me that it is more common for a fertilized egg to not survive the first month or two of pregnancy than it is to continue on and be birthed. Fertilized eggs are routine; successful pregnancies are not.

Here’s why I think the “life begins at conception” people are deluded: None of them have ever mourned a heavy period. And few have ever mourned a late period – as a matter of fact, most of us cheer a late period. “Oh, thank God! I’m not pregnant.”

The embryo, what some would call the baby, gets thrown away on a dirty sanitary napkin. No one cares. No one should care.

Many “pro-abortionists” are also nuts and are blinded by their own dogmatic view: The sanctity of a woman to do with her body what she pleases. They stick by that belief at all costs, even if the natural end of that belief is a dead baby.

I know from experience that at some point in the mother’s womb that growing embryo, that fetus, becomes a baby before it is born. I have interacted with each of my unborn children. They have responded to my voice and pushed against the pressure of my hand. Some have kicked me in the ass at night as my wife snuggled against me as we slept.

I remember playing with my daughter when my wife was still pregnant with her. Weeks, maybe months before she was born, Amanda would pull her heel across my wife’s belly. It was so striking that you could see the entire outline of her heel. I’d grab it between my thumb and index finger, she would pull, and I let it go. We played like that on several occasions.

That baby was alive and was interacting with me as a person.

What I don’t know is when that fetus, that baby-in-the-belly becomes a person. All I know for sure is that it’s sometime after implantation but well before birth.

And it seems to me that if that fetus is a person then it deserves the same rights as any other person. To kill it in a premeditated fashion is criminal.

Key Lime Cookies, Pop Tarts, and Iraq

My sister’s husband is on his way back to Iraq now. He’s a family guy who is in the Army National Guard.

He’s been home for a couple of weeks. I had dinner with him last night.

Before he was allowed to come home he had to decompress for two days in Kuwait. “They taught us how to be people again,” he said. “They told us not to kill our wives.”

“He reaches under his arm for a gun that isn’t there all the time,” my sister reported.

I have a beard now and told him that I was going upstairs to shave. “I don’t need you flashing back and seeing me as a bad guy.”

“No. They look like us,” he said. “Most of them don’t have beards. You’re safe.”

My bro-in-law is guarding prisoners in Iraq. I think he’s in with the hardest of the hardcore “insurgents.”

He says, “The Iraqis hate us there. But the Sunnis hate the Shi’ites more than they hate us. So at least we have that.”

His lives in a prison cell in one of Saddam’s private jails. “There are no windows; it’s pitch black. On my day off I sleep until I wake up and, because it’s so dark there are no cues to wake up. I have no idea what time it is. It’s not unusal to sleep until 2pm.”

He calls his hole-in-the-wall “home.” Even as he left my house he said, “I’m leaving for ‘home’ tomorrow.” It upset my sister a little, “This is home,” she said gently touching his shoulder. “Yeh, that’s right,” he responded somewhat blankly. Psychologically, all he has when he’s there is that cell. It’s the only place where he has any reminders of his real home. Like “home base” in a kid’s game of tag. Home. Safe.

He works 12 hour days, six days a week.

I asked what he did on his day off. “Most guys play video games. Guitar Hero is the biggie; I don’t play. On my day off, I get a pizza and a movie, and then go back to sleep.”

“Everything else is awful there, Jim. There’s nothing fun. Nothing worth doing. Just ride out your time.”

They like getting packages from home. My sister sends something out once a week. “She’s great that way,” he gleamed.

“Yeh, but tell him about your mother,” my sister rolled her eyes.

“Oh! Man! My mom called this place in the Florida Keys and sent over three boxes of key lime cookies. Oh. My. God. They were the best. I still have guys knocking on my door asking if I have anymore cookies.”

“How many packages has she sent you?” Asked my sister.

“One. But it was great!”

She teased him for a while about that. Mom sends out one goodie and gets heaped praises; while wife diligently and lovingly does her duty and, well, you know the story. It’s a marriage, right?

My wife asked, “What do you guys need? What would you like me to send you?”

“Key lime cookies.”

“Other than that.”

“Pop Tart! We can’t get enough Pop Tarts!”

Bro-in-law ended by saying that he can’t wait to get back to Iraq. “Then I’ll be at the top of the mountain. The rest of my time will be coming back downhill. I should be home, really home, in May.

Godspeed, My Brother.

The Joke

It’s a classic joke that I’ve heard a thousand times. Sandi hadn’t heard it, so I told it to her:

Charlie is in the third grade and his class is having its first Spelling Bee. When it came to his turn to spell a word his teacher gave him “orange.”

“Orange,” Charlie replied. “O-R-A-N-J-E. Orange.”

“I’m sorry,” the teacher said. “That’s wrong. You have to sit down.”

Now Charlie was very popular in his class and his classmates were pulling for him. The shouted in unison, “Give Charlie another chance! Give Charlie another chance!

The teacher obliged. “Okay, Charlie. I’ll give you another chance. Spell ‘apple’.”

“Apple. A-P-P-E-L. Apple.”

“I’m sorry, Charlie. That’s wrong. You have to sit down.”

Again the class sang out, “Give Charlie another chance! Give Charlie another chance!

“Okay. Last chance. Charlie, spell ‘pear’.”

“Pear. P-E-A-R. Pear.”

Give Charlie another chance! Give Charlie another chance!


I’m done, Sandi. The joke’s over.

“I don’t get it,” my wife responded.

What’s not to get? It’s a great joke.

She shook her head, “Nope. Not clicking.”

Charlie spelled “pear” correctly, but the rest of the class didn’t realize it.

“That’s not funny.”

For a woman with as well a developed sense of humor as you, you have no sense of humor.

“Maybe it’s your delivery.”


Ten Rules of Parenting

About a week ago, I published my First Rule of Parenting. Turns out it was really my Second Rule of Parenting.

You see, Michelle Catalano of “a big victory” fame found the original essay and emailed it to me. The essay was published at a now defunct website for goofballs like me who, for some reason, the state allowed to keep their children. The website’s name was “Raising Hell.”

Michelle found some of her old essays too. She posted a couple. Take a look.

I thought I had ten rules. The original essay only had seven. When I first wrote the essay, I had two children. Now I have three.

The extra child and extra years afforded me three more rules. Now there is a nifty, round ten. Enjoy them. Use them. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.


I am a registered nurse. And I was the first among my friends to have children. As such I’m often asked for advice on raising and caring for children; and when I’m not asked I’m usually tossing something out there anyway.

Over the years I’ve developed my Rules of Parenting.

Read them. Commit them to memory. And don’t leave the nursery without them.

Jim’s First Rule of Parenting
Prior to the baby’s birth, I tell all moms-to-be (and the dads too, if they’re not too distracted by the Ranger game) to read everything they can regarding babies and childcare.

Subscribe to every magazine. Grab every brochure and flyer at the obstetrician’s office. Absorb everything. Study tirelessly.

And when the child is born, throw all the books and magazines away. Forget everything you read.

None of them were written about your baby. None of them.

Jim’s Second Rule of Parenting
Don’t kill the baby. Ever.

Most people think I’m kidding with this one. I assure you, I am not.

There will be a time — I can’t predict when that time will be, perhaps the child hasn’t slept in 36 hours, perhaps she hasn’t stopped crying for 12 hours, I don’t know — but there will be a time when the sleep deprivation kicks in full force and you haven’t showered for days where the unthinkable almost sounds sane.

Resist the urge.

Don’t kill the baby. Ever.

I’ve been thanked for this one. A lot.

(You can see this rule in a different form here.)

Jim’s Third Rule of Parenting
Don’t ever tease, kid, or otherwise joke with a social worker from the Division of Youth and Family Services. Their senses of humor are not well-developed. And they take their jobs very seriously.

Trust me on this one. I made the mistake so you won’t have too.

Jim’s Fourth Rule of Parenting
Trust the Mom.

If you are the Mom, trust yourself.

Mom’s instincts are keen.

If Mom thinks something is wrong with the baby, then something is wrong. If Mom thinks she knows what it is, follow her to the end.

If Mom thinks the baby is ready for solid food, then solid food it is. If Mom thinks … well … you know what I mean.

Jim’s Fifth Rule of Parenting
Never. Ever. Disturb. A. Quiet. Safe. Child. Ever.

Not even to ask how they’re doing. Not even to praise them. Not to tell them it’s lunchtime.

Don’t say anything. Just peek. Acknowledge to yourself that the child is safe. And go about your business.

If you disturb the child you run the very real risk of upsetting the Cosmic Equilibrium and altering God’s Unknowable Plan. All hell will break loose.

Your morning/day/evening (yes, all three) will be ruined. And you’ll probably lose sleep and argue with your spouse.

It’s not worth it. Leave the kid alone.

Jim’s Sixth Rule of Parenting
One Saturday morning when she was very young, my daughter climbed on my bed and, with deep pride and sincerity, told me, “You can put your finger in your hole and it doesn’t even hurt.”

I did not to panic. Instead I just said, “Huh? How about that. Go wash your hands, and then come on back to bed with me and we’ll watch some cartoons.”

To this day, I have no idea which hole she was talking about, how she found it, or if she ever did it again. I never asked. It’s probably none of my business.

That’s a good rule, I think. They’re going to touch their bodies. Don’t freak out about it.

Similarly, there will be a time when they want to be naked. Hopefully it’s not when the reverend’s wife is over for tea and crumpets. I say, let ‘em be naked.

Unless she’s on the couch with her 17-year-old boyfriend. And then there’s a whole other set of rules. Starting with:

Jim’s Seventh Rule of Parenting
At first I was going to say, “Trust their decisions.” Screw that. The Seventh Rule has to be: CONDOMS!

I always thought I would be the prudish dad. You know the one: “No sex before marriage!” or, better yet, “No sex while I’m still alive!”

But it’s not going to happen that way. She will have sex before marriage (and before my wake) — so will the other two. And I don’t want any grandkids before it’s time.

If my girl even hinted to me that she needed, ahem, protection there would be a case of condoms in the trunk of her car before the engine even warmed up.


Jim’s Eighth Rule of Parenting
Just be around. Have some sort of routine.

When I look back at being a kid, the best thing in the world was knowing that at 5 o’clock Pop would be home and at 5:30 there would be dinner on the table.

It didn’t matter if Pop was in a bad mood (and he never was) or that dinner included lima beans (and you’d still be eating them cold at 7:30. alone. in a darkened dining room). What mattered is that it happened. And all was right with the world.

Just be around.

Another thing that went a long way with me when I was a teenager was seeing Pop at a golf tournament. I didn’t know he was there. He didn’t tell me he was coming.

He waited along the fence on the 13th hole of some course neither of us had ever played before. I don’t know when he got there or how long he waited to see me. We didn’t acknowledge each other.

But he was there.

We never mentioned it to each other. It still means the world to me.

Just be around.

Jim’s Ninth Rule of Parenting

Wing it. That’s right, wing it.

Make it up as you go along. That’s what your parents did. And that’s what their parents did. And that’s what their parents did before them.

It seems to work. Why change now?

Jim’s Tenth Rule of Parenting

The most important rule of all: Love them. That’s it, just love them.