Friday, March 27, 2015

Shut up, Middle Child! (or "Pardon the Interruption.")

     When my wife flashed “that look” at me from across the table, I knew I was in trouble. We were out to dinner with friends, and I figured I must have said something I shouldn't have said. I do that a lot. (Luckily, she wasn't sitting next to me, or it would've been a painful, yet stealth, kick in the shin.) When we got back home, I learned what had earned her glaring gaze. “You kept interrupting Steve,” she informed me. “You do that all the time!” “You mean to Steve?” I asked. “No,” she said. “To everyone.” It was like a punch to the gut. Could this be true? Could I be a serial interrupter, and not know it?? Before you answer, let me finish...
     Later in the week, I was going over final details on a project I was working on, when I received the following e-mail:

     I mean, I must talk really, really fast, because she wasn't just asking me to speak slowly -- she was practically begging me! Not one please, not two pleases, but three pleases!?! She might as well have thrown in a “for the love of God,” for good measure. Oh, and make sure to pause so someone else can get a word in edgewise, you fast talking, interrupter!!
     It was an ego bruising week, until I realized that none of this was my fault. Of course I talk fast. It only makes sense that I interrupt. I’m a Middle Child! We spend our formative years doing whatever we can to get your attention, and once we get it, who knows how long we’ll be able to hold it? We know it won’t be long until we’re cast aside, so talking fast is a matter of survival! And since we’re pretty used to never getting the attention we seek, we also can’t afford to sit around and wait until there’s a break in the conversation, or until you’re actually finished speaking. We have to seize the moment, even if it’s right in the middle of your moment. So no longer will I apologize for talking fast and interrupting. I will own it, for this is my birthright! My name is Bruce, and I am a conversation crashing motor-mouth. Hey, a Middle Child’s gotta do what a Middle Child’s gotta do.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Here's to the "Middle Child": a St. Patrick's Day toast.

     I don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes, but I can’t help but think of beer when I think of St. Patrick’s Day. You might recall that last St. Patty’s Day, I posted a review of the world’s most famous, and totally fictitious, Middle Child brews. (See “St. Patrick’s Day Special: A Middle Child Beer Guide.”) I had a lot of fun making up the names and labels, but this year I didn't have to. I found an honest-to-goodness, real life Middle Child beer. It’s from Bog Iron Brewing in Norton, MA, and it’s called, what else -- “Middle Child.” It’s a Double IPA that gets a Beer Advocate rating of 90! According to BA, “you should expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out.” That sounds pleasant.
     In any case, as the founder and leader of the International Middle Child Union, I reached out to the folks at Bog Iron. I figured, who wouldn't want the endorsement of a powerful international union. Have you heard from them? Me neither. Do these guys not realize what the support of the I.M.C.U. could do for their business!?! Or maybe they do. Whatever. I’m not one to hold a grudge. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m a Middle Child -- of course I’m one to hold a grudge. But I’m not going to in this instance. In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I raise a glass of “Middle Child,” and wish you all a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Return of "The MidKid Road Trip"

It looks SO much closer
on a map!
     You might remember that two months ago I posted and Tweeted about my two day drive from New Jersey to Florida with my in-laws. (See "The MidKid Road Trip" Day 1 Day 2) Back then, I said I was going to Tweet the return journey home. I really was going to. But shortly into the return trip, I knew it would be totally pointless. It didn't take long before I realized my in-laws were basically saying the very same things they said on the trip down! Tweeting the trip north would be a total repeat of the trip south, right down to the constant “losing” of eye glasses and “misplacing” of medication, cell phones and personal items -- without ever leaving the car. It was a virtual carbon copy.
     I did a little statistical breakdown of my in-laws conversation traits on the trip home: 76% of the things they say contradict something they previously said; 84% are something they just said less than an hour ago; and a whopping 99.4% of the things my father-in-law says are somehow related to food. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but here are a few observations from the trip:
     - My father in-law’s geographical shortcomings somehow got even shorter over the last two months. He has now given up completely on acknowledging any difference between North and South Carolina, lumping them instead into one state -- “Carolina.” I suppose he could be making a historical reference to the period from 1663 to 1710 when they really were one colony, but I don’t think so. He has also apparently granted statehood to Washington, D.C.
     - Is it all old people, or just my in-laws who can’t resist the urge to read every road sign they see aloud!?! “Rest Area ahead.” “Best prices on Fireworks!” “Richmond - 82 miles.” When it’s a sign about food, it’s like my father-in-law hit the jackpot! Just when I think they've run out of stories to re-tell and I might get to enjoy a rare moment of silence, there’s another damn road sign! Note to the aged: road signs are not meant to be conversation starters. If you ever want to know how many signs there are between Florida and New Jersey, just ask my in-laws. They have recited them all.
    - Watching my in-laws trying to get into and out of their seat belts is like watching Harry Houdini being locked in heavy chains and trying to escape. Actually, that’s not fair to Houdini. He was also strapped in a straight jacket and underwater and still could extricate himself quicker! By the time my in-laws had seat belted themselves in after breakfast, it was time for lunch.
Suggested title for a movie about a
meteorologist: CLUELESS! 
     - Do you know any group of professionals who does their job worse than weathermen -- except maybe congress? I checked the forecast for the Eastern seaboard up until the morning we left to make sure conditions would be clear. There wasn't a hint of bad weather to be found. CUT TO... with the exception of the first 15 minutes of our trip, over the course of two days we experienced every form of precipitation know to man! It started with rain. Then blinding, torrential downpours of biblical proportions. (Thankfully, we were spared locusts and frogs.) Sleet. Snow. Hail. Graupel. (Look it up.) We drove through it all. So our trip went into extra innings the first day, with a bonus two hours of bumper to bumper traffic in South Carolina. Then, to top it off, there was a 35 mph speed limit on the NJ Turnpike the second day. (I know this because my in-laws repeatedly read me the speed limit signs.) It was the perfect little cherry atop my F*CK ME sundae.
        Finally, if you are ever considering offering to drive your in-laws to and from Florida, I have a word of advice: don't.