Three Weeks Until the Baby Arrives…

Yeah, read the title of this post again.

Gulp.

June 20th is the due date of child number two. Wait a minute though. Aren’t we the couple that wasn’t going to have kids? Hmmm. Yeah, I think so.

Well, that was then. And, this, as they say, is now.

Have I mellowed so much that I’m not nervous or worried at all at this point? Is that even possible? Me, the person who wanted fish — not kids. I’m sitting here cool as a cucumber as we wait for the arrival of our second — yes, second — child.

But, yeah, I think that’s the truth.

My wife took yesterday off of work to do some things around the house. Stuff like packing away clothes that don’t fit Aidan anymore. And then replacing them with the clothes he wore as a little one.

Some say she was nesting. Nope. She’s just organized. She had the day off planned for a few weeks. Although she did say she feels it’s coming sooner than the due date.

Well, any day is sooner than the due date.

Gulp.

But I’m fine. Really.

Aidan was a week early.

So, bring it on.

Wait. Did I just type that?

Yup, turns out I did.

For those of you not in the loop, we don’t know what we’re having. Well, besides a baby. You knew that was coming. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

A few things left to do. Car seat bases put in among them. Bags to pack.

We’ve already done the ‘refresher’ birth class. I was valedictorian. I remembered most of the breathing patterns. And, yes, I will coach her through the process. The nurses even gave me kudos last time. I’m just saying.

Other things to get include a baby book and one of those first year calendar things. I had forgotten about that completely. My wife realized we didn’t have them the other day. Yikes. I mean, the mental stress to make sure everything is as equal for two as for one, right? Of course I think about that. How could I not?

The other thing not done yet — the final names. Here’s your chance to vote.

If we have a boy, it’ll be Liam. If it’s a girl, it’ll either be Erin or Margaret/Maggie. What do you think?

Well, that’s it for now. Three more weeks. Maybe. How crazy is that? Yeah. It’s crazy.

What else? I got nothin’.


Quick Rant

Well, I have a meeting in 10 minutes and I’m still fuming from a phone call I had earlier today. So, this benefits you.

You haven’t seen me for a while, but for the next 10 minutes, I’m all yours.

So, shopping the other day…and I love orange juice. Coffee, bad. Orange juice, good. But, as you know, I think us juice drinkers are getting the shaft. Remember when it was a good deal if orange juice was two for four bucks? That wasn’t too long ago, right? Well, now, it’s two for six bucks!! Are you kidding me? Forget about gas prices, I’m more concerned about the price of my Tropicana than I am of my Mobil.

You know what? I’ve gotta do something else right now. So this is over right now.

Ugh. I’m having one of those weeks. Not days. Weeks.

What else? I got nothin’.


Your Third Favorite Story

Well, here it is, the last of the three top vote getters in my survey to you. If you’re new to this, I gave my faithful and loyal readers five stories to pick from. I would then write about whatever they picked.So, the previous two posts underneath this one are a direct result of that. This is the final installment. And I hope you enjoy it.

I know I’ve been slacking, particularly when my wife, a once and again reader of this space, says to me tonight, “A little behind on the blog, eh?”

But, it could be that she said that because she knows this post is, in fact, about her, and that I won’t be writing about a salutatorian, cheerleader, homecoming queen and former crush (like I did in the previous post).

So, without further adieu, here is the third most-requested story:

We were living in Vermont at the time. My wife was teaching math at the local high school. She got to be friendly with one of the language teachers. Nothing strange about that. But what’s good about that is that the language teacher takes a group of students to Italy every couple of years. And, for the trip that was to take place in February 2000, she asked my wife if she wanted to come along as a chaperone. The other good thing? There was no cost for chaperones.

A free trip to Italy? Um, yes, please. Where do I sign up. Or, well, where does she sign up. It was a chance of a lifetime. So take it! And she did. For a moment, it was almost looking like I would be asked to be a chaperone, too. But, that didn’t pan out.

The trip was in the middle of February. My dad had passed away at the end of January. She was worried about leaving for a week or so just after we were back and settled in to our routine. Are you kidding me? Go!

Besides, little did she know….that just a few days into the trip, I would be joining her.

Yup, since she would be spending her 30th birthday there, I thought it only fitting that I help her celebrate — in person.

So, in December, I went to work. First idea was to clear it with the lead teacher. Would she mind if I came and tagged along for a few days. My plan was to arrive two days in, stay for three days, and then head home before the group.

Did she mind? She loved the idea! Then the challenge was keeping it a secret. Only two teachers knew and certainly none of the students. Only my parents and her parents knew, as well as my college roommate. He paid for my airline tickets on his credit card so she wouldn’t see any record on ours. That would be my only true cost, since she had her own room in all the hotels while there.

So then I cleared it with the trip company to make sure I could ride the bus with them at no trouble. Well, more on this later, but let’s just say there was a major miscommunication.

So my wife left for Italy, all nervous about leaving me behind, but realizing she couldn’t pass up the trip of a lifetime.

Two days later, I was ready to start my journey. A snowstorm struck the east coast, making it debatable if I was going to get out of Vermont on the way to Newark, where I then took off for Rome.

I just got out of Burlington — barely. The next flight after me was cancelled. If I didn’t get out that day, I wasn’t getting out, that’s for sure. It just wouldn’t have made sense.

So, Burlington to Newark, no problem. Newark to Rome, no problem.

Then the fun started.

Now, keep in mind that I am so directionally challenged, that I don’t know which way to go when walking out of a store in the mall. Directions are just not my strong point. I am male, afterall.

After landing in Rome, I had to make it south to Naples, which was where we were scheduled to meet up that night, at the hotel the group was staying in.

My challenge was to get on a train out of Rome and head south. I made it to the rail area and looked over everything. I saw Naples. I figured out the train I needed. Everything was all set.

I walked to the window and said, “I’d like one to Naples, please.”

“Napoli,” came the reply.

“No, I’m trying to go to Naples. One ticket please.”

“Yes, Napoli.”

“Um, no, I’m trying to get to Naples.”

Then it hit me. Naples. Napoli. Same place. Oh boy. This is going to be fun.

Train through the country side was fabulous. As it turns out, I was ahead of schedule. I figured I had a couple of hours to kill, because I was definitely earlier than expected. I had to change trains at some point. And when I was off the first one, I realized I was near the lost city of Pompeii.

Well, I mean, how often do you get to see that. I was close, so why the heck not.

I paid my ticket and went in and wandered around for a bit. And, despite making it on the flights and on the train ride, I managed to get lost in Pompeii. What happened was, I somehow actually got outside the place. I found myself on the outside looking in.

So, I started the long walk around to the main area so I could get back in.

But then a funny thing happened. While I was standing there, a group of kids comes in the area. I’m like, wait, I know these kids. I knew they were going to Pompeii, but I had no idea that I would actually meet them there.

A couple of kids saw me and were obviously surprised. I put my finger to my mouth to keep them quiet when I saw the lead teacher, who knew something cool was about to happen. She just sort of smiled, didn’t really say anything, and got out of the way so I would see my wife.

Or, more importantly, my wife would see me.

When she did see me, she couldn’t say much. She took a couple steps back in disbelief, started crying and then threw a big hug around me, asking, well, you know what she was asking! What the heck was I doing there!

I told her I couldn’t let her celebrate such a big birthday without me. She still couldn’t believe it. And, honestly, either could I!

She then realized that the other teachers knew and that she had been had, so to speak! It was great fun.

The good thing, I was then able to tag along with them on the Pompeii tour, so I knew I wouldn’t be getting lost on my way out this time!

So, we then boarded the boss and made our way to Naples and the hotel, my wife just still in shock. I don’t think she was shocked so much that I was there, but rather, that I actually made it there completely on my own!

I was only going to be with them for three days, so my plan was to just tag along on the boss and see whatever I could see, not so much worried about that, but just wanting to spend time with my wife.

Then we got the bad news at dinner. The woman who represented the tour company came to the table and said that I couldn’t ride the bus with them anymore. What are you talking about?

I couldn’t believe this turn of events, which no doubt put a damper on things. It turns out, the company was only allowing me a one day pass on their bus, not for longer than that. I was like, wait, I’ll sign any waiver you need, just let me ride the bus. She was kind of snobby. I mean, didn’t she realize what I just did…and what this would mean for the rest?

So, basically, I then had to take cabs, buses and trains to meet up with the group, wherever they were going. My biggest adventure was going north to Rome (they had already been) so I could get at least a quick peak at the Vatican. I was then going to take a train up to Florence and meet the group there.

Not exactly how I had envisioned spending part of the trip, but my wife insisted I see Rome, and I’m glad she did. And, perhaps she realized that if I made it all the way to Italy, that I could probably do alright finding my way around within the country. She was right.

We had a nice birthday dinner in Florence, after seeing the David (which really just looked like a guy without clothes). I wanted to do a lot more with them, but my hands were tied, thanks to this tour group woman. But, I did get quite a bit of time with my wife, so it was totally worth any of the aggravation.

I mean, seeing Rome was great. Seeing the David was great. Being on the Isle of Capri was great. But, really, to see her face when I arrived and to know that I pulled off a pretty amazing surprise, that was so much better than great!

So I left the group and headed home, knowing I would see them in just a few days when their bus arrived at the school parking lot.

I knew a couple of the parents there, and as we waited, I struck up a conversation like, oh, the kids looked fine. They were having a blast.

How the heck do you know, was the obvious response. Then I explained what I had just done.

It felt pretty good.

What else? I got nothin’.


Your Second Choice

Your votes rang true. And I said I would honor them.

So, this post (which is going to be a long one) represents the second story to be told. The first was my life as a star. The third will be my trip to Italy when I surprised my wife for her birthday.

This post, however, is about a get-together I had with some high school friends, all of whom just happen to be female. More on that in a minute.

Due to lack of votes, you will not be reading about my day in a limo with Bob Denver (I still can’t believe nobody wants to hear that story.). Nor will you be reading about the time I almost got arrested scalping Red Sox tickets.

Back to the task at hand, or, as I like to call it, my night with the homecoming queen, the cheerleader, the salutatorian and my former crush.

It’s not uncommon for me to be hanging out with mostly women. For some reason, that’s happened a lot. Two of my three closest friends from college are women. It’s just something about me, I guess. Thankfully, I have a trusting wife.

Deep down, I’m also very sentimental. I love to think back on great memories. The past is a part of us, so why not appreciate. And I appreciate the friends I’ve had throughout more than just high school.

But that’s the interesting thing about this night. Of the four females, I was very good friends with one through high school (the former crush). With two others (the cheerleader and the homecoming queen), we were friends in school, but our friendships have actually gotten stronger since high school, which, in case you’re wondering, ended for me in 1988. One of the four, the salutatorian, I would classify mostly as an acquaintance in school. There’s no reason for it, other than we just really never hung out.

One of the four (the cheerleader) still lives in the town we went to school in. I’m the next closest, being about 25 minutes away. The homecoming queen and my former crush are a couple hours away. The salutatorian is the furthest away, about halfway across the country.

I ran into the cheerleader and mentioned that we should try and get some folks together. She and I talked to the homecoming queen and then we had the makings of a mini-reunion. It was going to be over Thanksgiving, and actually include a few more classmates, but I had a flooded basement and couldn’t make it. So it was cancelled.

We re-scheduled for a night during Christmas vacation and agreed to meet at a local pub.

I was excited to see them and hang out for a bit. To catch up on current lives. To rehash old stories. To exchange gossip. To think ahead. And to just spend time with folks I haven’t had a chance to spend a great deal of time with in the nearly 20 years since high school graduation.

We had an absolute blast. We sat in the corner booth of a pub and just laughed and laughed for almost three hours. Memory after memory. We just went back in time and reflected on an important time in our lives. Stories of couples, parties, parents, teachers and, of course, almost all of our classmates.

It felt like between the five of us, someone knew something about almost everyone in the class. It was just a great deal of fun. I think who had the most fun was the salutatorian. She was so into it, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. She wanted to know everything about everyone.

Here’s my connection to each of them, a bit deeper than you’ve already read about above. And, if this is getting too long for you, I don’t mind if you take a break and come back later. Heck, I don’t mind if you don’t finish it at all. This is fun for me to write and I hope it’s somewhat fun for you to read. Afterall, you did vote for it.

If you can’t relate to the people, relate to the situation. Think of your high school days and constrast and compare a bit. If anything, it’s fun.

So…where do I start?

Ok, the cheerleader. Actually, I should say that the homecoming queen and the crush were cheerleaders, too, but I needed to only have one cheerleader for the story, so here she is. What has 20 years done to her? Nothing. She’s as friendly as ever. Again, we weren’t incredibly close in school, but we were friendly. And we’re still that way. It’s just different, you know? It’s not high school anymore. It’s life. And there’s almost more in common now than there ever was. She has one older son and a younger son, closest to my son’s age. So we were able to talk about that. Also, because she’s local, she often has the scoop on a lot of people before anyone else. So that’s a good thing. What’s more of a good thing? She’s the same person. Just a little older, like all of us. But from my perspective, nothing else has changed.

Next, the salutatorian. As I said, we weren’t incredibly friendly in high school. But I don’t mean that in any negative way. We just weren’t anything more than passing acquaintances. I’m actually not sure I’ve seen her since high school. And I know I hadn’t communicated with her since I was running our 10th reunion and she sent a note that she wasn’t coming. I’ll tell you this, she’s already psyched for our 20th (which I’m also planning). When I heard she was coming, I was happy. I saw it as a chance to actually get to know her better than I probably have. And I think she felt the same way about being there. I almost didn’t recognize her when she came in. The short hair was replaced by long hair, enough that I was like, wow, is that her? We’ve emailed once or twice since December, and I’ll probably let her know I wrote this, but we won’t ever be super close friends. And there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s important is that we will always have something in common and we were able to build on that and just have a good time.

The homecoming queen and I have become better friends since high school then we were during it. I would say that we were friends in high school, but not real close. We had some common friends and were involved in some activities together, but that was it. For some reason, after school, we just got to become closer friends. Can’t really put my finger on it. But I’m glad it happened. In fact, I almost have her to thank for me being together with my wife. She went to school at the University of Vermont. My wife went to St. Michael’s College, which is just a few miles from UVM. When I was in college, a couple of my friends were going up to see friends at St. Michael’s. My wife was just a friend at the time. We had the same summer job. But I was like, well, maybe I’ll go. But I couldn’t decide. Then I thought, wait, the homecoming queen is up there. I could see her, too. And my roommate’s girlfriend lived on her floor at UVM, so there was just this weird connection. I had a nice visit with her and a great visit with my wife, a visit that probably set the stages for our relationship a few years later. But the thing is, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see her that weekend if my friend the homecoming queen wasn’t just a few miles away. Funny how things work, isn’t it?

The former crush is the person I’ve known the longest from this group. In fact, she’s one of my oldest friends. It’s scary to say this, but I can now actually say I’ve known her for more than 30 years. Yikes! That’s because we started going to school together in first grade. So we did elementary school for eight years before going to high school together. Lots of time to build a great friendship there. And, add in that our last names are very similar, so we were always sitting next to each other in classes. Our lockers were also together most of the time in high school, too (she loved slamming mine shut). And, of course, again because of the names, we were home room buddies for four years. It was just a great friendship. And then, of course, like most dopey boys, I wondered why we couldn’t be more. Well, some people are meant to be more and some people aren’t. We just weren’t. And that’s OK, because we are still friends. It was awkward for a while, but we got through it. And I’m glad we did. I don’t talk to her often as I wish. We email now and then and we exchange Christmas cards, but you know what, once a good friend, always a good friend. It’s just how it is. And how it should be. I could count on her then, and I know I could count on her now.

So, if you’re still with me, congrats on making it through. I won’t keep you any longer. But that’s the story of my night with the cheerleader, the homecoming queen, the salutatorian and the former crush.

If you made it through, thanks. Now think back to your high school years. Fun memories, don’t you think?

What else? I got nothin’.


My Life as a Star

I suppose it started in the third grade.

I was a bluebird in the class ‘play.’ And, I’ll have you know, I was the best damn bluebird you’ve ever seen.

Afterall, it catapulted me to much bigger things — the gullible father figure in the seventh grade play for one. But, add those two performances together and you get what I thought would always be my pinnacle moment in acting.

Eighth grade. Dr. Jeckyll. And, get this. Mr. Hyde. A dual role.

Could life get any better?

Well, turns out it could.

Now, when I say ‘star,’ I’m not necessarily talking the Hollywood Walk of Fame level. But, hey, I was a radio personality for more than five years in two different states. And, better than that, I’m in a movie. Yup, a real, honest to goodness (but incredibly boring) movie.

Let’s start there.

My first job out of school landed me at the CIA — not that one. I’m talking about The Culinary Institute of America. I was working in PR.

We got a call from a small film company. They were filming an independent film in upstate New York and could they come and film a scene at our place. To make a long story short, the answer was yes. They could come.

It was incredible work. My boss at the time was eight months pregnant. She got through it. I got through it. It was a scheduling nightmare — particularly the change of plans at the last minute. But, they came. They filmed. And, more importantly, they filmed me in the movie!

The movie is called Heavy. And, yes, it’s a real movie. The direct is a guy named James Mangold. Heavy was his first movie. You may not have seen it, but you’ve seen his others — Cop Land, Identity, Kate and Leopold, Girl, Interrupted and Walk the Line.

Imagine, he went from directing me to directing Stallone! I love that.

So…I’m losing focus.

The movie was filmed at the CIA. The premise was, the lead character, played by Emmy winner Pruit Taylor Vince, was a short order cook at the family restaurant. Well, mom dies. So he decides, maybe I should go to cooking school.

So, while driving home from the hospital, he pops in the CIA for a tour. That’s where I come in. I’m the tour guide.

You see me on screen for a few brief moments. And you hear my voice for a solid two minutes or so. It’s pretty cool.

I’m not in the credits — but if you know me, you’ll know it’s me without question. So, there I was. On the big screen. Or, you go into the local video store, and rent me off the shelf. I mean, how crazy is that.

It was a neat experience. Got to meet Liv Tyler when she was like 19 (and I was only a few years older). Got to meet Deborah Harry, who was also in the movie.

So, if your NetFlix list is drying up, add Heavy and give it a shot!

I know this is getting to be a long post, but you didn’t expect a quick read from a star. Or did you?

The next element involves my radio career. And you may find it funny that it actually relates to my faithful addiction to what was my favorite show — Melrose Place.

I was living in Vermont and, at the time, my favorite station was 95 Triple X. The male/female morning show was talking one day about Melrose. The female, Chantal, said that men watched it, but won’t admit it. The male, Mike, denied that claim.

I couldn’t resist. I had to call. The on-air call was so funny, they asked me to call back the next week to talk about the show. I don’t think either of us new that one call would turn into a four-year gig of me being part of their show.

Originally, I was Melrose Man, calling in once a week to chronicle that fabulous show. When it went off the air, I became ‘Ally Boy’ — talking about all things McBeal. Then I was ‘Titan Man’, because you can’t get enough of smut TV. Then I became ‘Temptation Island Man’ — for the same reason, smut. After that, there was a brief stint as ‘Survivor Man’ before my career ended with them after a year of being ‘Movie Man’ — when I would see the newest release and review it on Monday.

Mike and Chantal were fabulously fun to work with and little did they know what they started.

After moving to Connecticut, I was back listening to Q105 — the station I literally grew up listening to. In fact, I even interned there during high school.

Well, part of my real job was doing radio interviews to promote my employer. One day, while in the Q105 studio, the host of the show, Franco in the Morning, said something like, ‘hey, you’re not bad on the air. I’m thinking about adding a third voice. I can’t pay you, but are you interested?’

Was I interested? Of course I was! Radio has always been a love. From my days of being a college DJ to my stint as Melrose Man and more, I’ve always loved radio and jumped at the chance.

So, I became Spencer. What started out as a character that was mostly the butt of many jokes, turned into a regular role on the morning show. Even though I was on just two days a week, people knew Spencer. When I would say something, it would be like, “you’re Spencer?” It was pretty funny — especially since my wife is a high school teacher. Her kids would get a kick out of it, particularly when I would refer to her on the air as Lady Spencer.

I didn’t get paid — but I had a lot of fun and made some nice connections along the way. Had some really funny moments working with Franco and Nancy. Franco left the station to take on another radio gig — talk radio host. So I was with Nancy and Shawn, the current morning show hosts.

I thought everything was going well. They thought so, too.

Then one day, I got a call and was basically told that Spencer’s services weren’t needed any more. Could it be? Was I actually being fired from a job that I didn’t get paid for?!

Yup, I was.

But here’s where the story takes an intriguing turn — well, intriguing to me. Spencer was relieved of his duties less than one week after the real Mike made a business decision in my real job that didn’t work out favorably from the radio station’s perspective.

While I was always 100 percent professional about what was fun and what was business, they weren’t. And that was unfortunate.

But, no worries at all. As I said, I didn’t lose sleep over it. I actually gained sleep over it, not having to get up so early on the mornings I was on the show.

Besides, it was a great run. Spencer was on the air for just about three years.

So there you have it. My life as a star. Well, I don’t know if star is the right word. But it was fun. And who knew that it would all start from my being a bluebird in the third grade.

What else? I got nothin’.