Pooper Scooper

March 7, 2009

“Just take this in there and scoop the poop out of the diaper with the spoon provided.”

“Excuse me?” I said utterly bewildered with newness to daddy-hood.

Maybe I should back up a little bit. I know that I’m still very new to this being a parent thing, hell, our daughter is three months old but what this day held in store for me I didn’t sign up for when I agreed to impregnate my wife.

Earlier this morning my wife and I took our daughter to the doctors. I’ve never been a fan of doctors (what man really is?) but I like our daughter’s pediatrician.

“Hey guys, what’s going on today?” Dr. Sloan asked. As doctors do.

“Well,” my wife took control of the situation. As wives do. “Her poops have been smelling like ammonia for the past two days and we’re concerned.”

When she says “we’re concerned” she really means “she’s concerned”. I’m more old school and kept saying, “Whatever she’s got she’ll shit it out.”

“Does she have a fever?” Dr. Sloan asked.

“No.” My wife answered.

“How about a loss of appetite?”

“No.”

“Has she been fussy?”

“Nope.”

This is where I wanted to say, “See, for once, I’m right.” But as always, I wasn’t.

“Well, I’m going to write you a prescription.”

“For what?” I thought to myself. Didn’t my wife just say that our kids fine other than her poop smelling like ammonia? Well, it turns out that you need a prescription to have specialist examine your child’s stool sample. Only in America.

Scribbling on her note pad she said, “When she has her next stool sample, keep the diaper and take it to this address.” She tore the paper from her doctor notepad and handed it to us.

So I did as I was instructed. The next time baby pooped, I put the evidence into a gallon sized zip lock bag and took it to the laboratory. While signing in they place a large sandwich size zip lock bag in front of me. On it, in huge black bold capital letters read the word “BIOHAZARD”.

“Here you go.” I said, while attempting to hand them my zip lock bag full of soiled diaper.

“Ha, ha, ha…no Mr. Lassen. You have to transfer the sample from the diaper into a plastic cup. Just take this in there and scoop the poop out of the diaper with the spoon provided.”

“Excuse me?” I said utterly bewildered with newness to daddy-hood.

“Here are some plastic gloves for you. Bathrooms right there to your left.”

I felt dirty.

I thought to myself, “Let me get this straight. You want me to go and scrape the poop out of my daughter’s hour’s old dirty diaper with a spoon and put it in a plastic cup?” I know times are tough in this current economy but who knew that the first to be let go from laboratories were the “dirty diaper shit scrapers.”

“Make sure to get as much as you can. I find that it’s sometimes better to use the cup itself to scoop up the sample rather then use the spoon.”

I rolled up my sleeves, looked them all in the eyes, “That sounded like a challenge. And I accept you challenge.” I grabbed my bags and made my way to the bathroom. I strategically placed all the items in front of me in order of their use from left to right. First up, the green plastic gloves, so that the shit sample doesn’t get contaminated. It’s odd when the priority is to not get shit on your hands for the shits sake. “Shit getting contaminated.” It just made me laugh. All of us men are really 12 year old boys at heart and I’m no exception. Juvenile moment over, back to work.

I struggled slipping the tiny green glove over my big paw that I call a left hand.

“RRRRIIIIIPPPPPPP!”

Fuck.

I popped my head out of the bathroom door. “Excuse me. Can I get another glove?”

They all laughed and I was handed another green glove.

Maybe it’ll go on easier if I place it on my hand as far as it go, blow into it and it’ll inflate it?

“POP!”

Nope.

Before I could open the bathroom door to ask for yet, another green glove, there was a knock at the door.

“Occupied.” I said prying the broken glove off my hand.

“Mr. Lassen, it sounded to us out here like you are in need of another glove.”

I opened the door and the nice man laughing handed me another green glove.

After some careful struggling, I got the gloves on.

The smell that wafted out of the zip lock bag with the grubby diaper when I un-zipped it was… well, it was not pleasant. And I grew up on a farm, so I know “unpleasant” smells. It didn’t help any that it had a few hours to ferment. I placed the plastic cup down, unscrew the cap and place it on a paper towel. I was not about to get shit all over the place except for in the cup or on my nifty green gloves. I unwrapped the spoon from its wrapper.

“What the fuck is this?”

It was a tongue depressor not a spoon.

“Great. Just great.”

While I was standing there in my tight green gloves, scraping shit out of my daughter’s soiled diaper with a tongue depressor I thought to myself, “Now, I know and have known many people with kids, and I have NEVER heard of anyone else EVER having to do this. This is the type of things parents don’t tell people thinking about having kids because if they did, those people would get a hamster instead.”

I came out of the bathroom, mission accomplished.

“Thank you Mr. Lassen.”

“Oh no, thank you for this experience.”

“Ummm, Mr. Lassen?”

“Yes.” I said proudly, expecting him to complement me on my immaculate shit scraping skills. I was wrong.

“This may not be enough. Did you get as much as you could?”

“There wasn’t much to get.”

He reached behind the counter and handed me another plastic zip lock bag with the word, “BIOHAZARD!” written on it. Inside it was a set of green plastic gloves, a plastic cup and a “spoon”.

“We may need you to collect more samples if this isn’t enough to perform all the test. We’ll call and let you know.”

“And that’s one call I’ll be looking forward to. Thank you kind sir.”

“Have a good weekend Mr. Lassen.”

“You to.” It’ll be best if I don’t have to treasure hunting in my daughter’s diaper anymore.

Oh, the things we parents do for our kids. I’m just finding out and I have a feeling that this is only the beginning.

I AM a Purple Dino Type

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Halloween in Da “Wood”

October 28, 2008

I love Halloween.

Other than my birthday it’s one of my favorite holidays.

If your birthday is in October, more likely than not if you have a party it’s going to be a combo birthday/Halloween party. How cool is that? October is the one month out of the year when I’m not the only one putting on a costume for the party. Bring on the “Naughty Nurse” or “Slutty School Girl” outfits, mommies. It’s great when the mommies at parties get dressed up and try to prove to other mommies that they are a “MILF.”

Unfortunately, this is not true for all mommies.

I had a one-hour clown in Inglewood, i.e., “the Wood,” for a child’s birthday/Halloween party. I showed up and none of the adults were dressed up, unless you count having major attitude as a costume.

I did my usually thing and played with the kids. Halfway through the party the mom came stomping up to me and looked pissed off.

“You better do face paint. I paid for face paint, I’m gonna’ git face paint, god damn-it!” All this was said while she waved her fat finger around in my face.

“Ok. I can do that.” It’s the least I could do since you asked so nicely.

So I painted faces, god damn-it.

Once I was done I started to put my paints away when the mom came over and plopped herself down in the chair in front of me.

“You ain’t done yet, clown!” She exclaimed as she put her fat finger back to work and pointed to her face.

“What would you like me to paint on your face?” I asked as nicely as I could because that’s my way.

“I WANT you to put a fucking red heart on my left check. And don’t make it look all stupid and stuff. It better be fucking cute or I ain’t payin’ yo’ ass. You got that, clown?”

“One very cute, red heart coming up.” You stupid bitch.

“And once yo’ done wid dat, I WANT you to paint my baby daddy’s name on my arm. Right here, clown. Do yo’ hear me?” And she stuck out her tremendously huge arm. If she had asked me to write the Declaration of Independence on her arm I could have, her arm was that big. And yet her arm was dwarfed by her ginormous attitude.

“I can do that.” I should’ve gotten an academy award for my performance that day as, “The Patient Clown.”

“Yo’ betta’ not fuck it up either. Or I ain’t payin’ yo’. Yo’ got that, clown?”

Someone took her “I’m a bitch” pill today.

The baby daddy came over to watch me immortalize his name on his baby momma’s arm. Lucky guy.

“Hey, clown. Do you know how to do anything with helium balloons?”

“No.”

He didn’t need to know that I once worked at a balloon store and could make balloon sculptures that would blow his mind. If they had been nicer to me I would’ve most likely done something small, yet impressive.

I’m a pushover that way.

Too bad his baby momma was such a bitch to me. I feel sorry for the guy.

Note to self: Don’t knock up a crazy bitch.

I AM a Purple Dino Type


LOVE VS. SMOKING

September 19, 2008

“What’s your name?”

“My name’s Kimberly, Santa.”

“That’s a beautiful name Kimberly. How old are you?”

“I’m eight.”

“If you just ate then you’re not hungry.”

Kimberly laughed, “NO! I’m eight years old.”

“Sorry about that, Santa must have snow in his ears. Do you know what you want for Christmas, Kimberly?”

“I want my dad to stop smoking. If he dies, I won’t feel bad ‘cause I’ve asked him a thousand times to stop and he won’t. He must love smoking more than he loves me.”

Yeah… What do you say to that? I was not expecting that at all. A hush had fallen over the room. I could see all the adults’ faces frozen in shock. I’m sure my face was also frozen in a state of shock, but it couldn’t be seen because it was covered in a fake beard and sweat. I composed myself and did what every adult in that room wanted to do. Change the subject.

“Do you like Furby’s, Kimberly?”

“Yup.”

“That’s good. I do, too. Maybe you’ll get one for Christmas this year since you’ve been so good. I think I have a gift here for you.” I quickly grabbed the gift for Kimberly from the adolescent helper assigned to me by our hostess. “Merry Christmas, Kimberly. Ok, who’s next? Is there anyone else left?”

Now I know what you’re thinking: Why a Christmas story in the middle of September?
Well, Kimberly’s words have been reverberating in my brain and in my thoughts frequently as of late. My mother is a smoker and last week it finally caught up with her. She had a heart attack.

Am I sad?

Yes.

Am I shocked?

No.

I’ve always told my wife that I knew that this day would come. I was never sure who it was going to “attack” first, my Mom or my Dad. You’re never really ready for it, even when you know that it’s inevitable. No one ever wants to be reminded that his mother is mortal and will not be around forever.

Every time I tried to sit and write for my blog (or write anything for that matter) my thoughts always go back to my mother. Finally, after many hours suffering staring at a blank page my wife said, “Just write about what’s on your mind.” So I am.

It has been many years since I heard Kimberly’s sad insight, but I can hear her voice as clear as if she just spoke to me. She was so brutally honest. I, too, had begged my parents to stop smoking when I was younger. Now that I’m older I have a better understanding of why it’s so hard to give it up. But I know that it is possible to quit. My mom’s mom, who everyone referred to as Nana, used to smoke. I once asked her how she was able to stop.

“I had a heart attack. The doctor said that if I didn’t quit I would have another one and eventually die. I came home, threw away all my smokes and have never touched one since. It was easy.”

My Nana was a very “tell it like it is” gal. She had her heart attack when she was around 70 years old and lived to be 90. She had 20 extra years with us, and I know that we all benefited and are thankful for her strength. My mom is a virtual carbon copy of her mom. I pray that she continues to be, and follows the lead laid down by her mother.

I’ve had a lot of friends offer up personal stories of hope of someone close to them having to go cold turkey and succeeding. “My dad quit 10 years ago and we just celebrated his 70th birthday.”

I’ve also had friends tell me stories with a not-so-happy ending. “Your mom got really lucky and has been given a second chance. My dad had one; it was his first and last.”

My mom works in a hospital and I believe that is what saved her life. My parents live so far out in the “boonies” that you have to drive 20 minutes before you reach the “Middle of Nowhere” just south of “Where the Hell Are We?” If she had been home when it happened who knows how things would’ve played out. The hospital that she works at is so small that she had to be airlifted via helicopter to Dartmouth Medical Center in Hanover New Hampshire. I thought that was pretty cool. Mom, not so much. I guess a helicopter ride is different just after you’ve had a heart attack and are in need of emergency angioplasty?

I thought long and hard about going back to visit her. Money’s tight, my wife’s seven months pregnant and there is a lot of work to be done (and on the cheap, to boot). Hell, when I asked my Mom about visiting she said, “Why? I’m fine.”

But, as my wife put it, “Are you going to remember our credit card bill or that you spent time with your mom?”

My plane ticket is booked and my writer’s block has been lifted. To my readers, thanks for being patient in these, my emotionally trying, times. I love New Hampshire in the fall.

I AM a Purple Dino Type… Now go hug a mom and tell her how much you love her!


A Mother’s Day Tip From A Clown

May 9, 2008

“You’re such a nice and handsome young man.”

“Thank you very much. That’s very kind of you.”

“I have a grand daughter that’s available. Tell me sweetie, are you Jewish?”

“No, I’m not.”

The elderly woman took my hand, caressed it and said, “We can’t all be perfect.”

And this is how it goes every year when I do the Mother’s Day event at an elderly home here in Los Angeles. The day usually begins with us (the clowns) handing out corsages to all the elderly ladies while being escorted by some cute young volunteer girl. Another clown and I always start the day at 8am being escorted by a volunteer, that’s always a cute young girl, and handing out corsages to all the elderly ladies.

“They ALL try to set me up with their grandsons all the time. At least you only have to hear on Mother’s Day. I hear it everyday I volunteer. I had to stop telling them I was Jewish because once they that got that little nugget of info they never let up. But they’re sweet,” a young hottie volunteer once told me.

It’s a really fun gig to work. I have experience working with the elderly; I worked at a hospital that had a retirement home wing for six years in my youth. Some days when I would go to work I would bring my guitar with me and play and sing for them. It never mattered what I played, what was important to them was the fact that I was spending time with them.

I think that even if I didn’t hand out flowers to all these woman they would’ve just been happy to have someone, anyone, come in and wish them a happy mother’s day. So coming in dressed as a clown and bearing gifts made it all that more special. I love seeing the women’s eyes light up when I stroll into their room with a flower for them. Unfortunately, it can also be very sad. Some of the women are comatose, have Alzheimer’s, or dementia. Still, EVERY woman, patient or not, at the elderly home gets a flower.

“That’s so nice of you, young man, but I’m an old maid. I never had any children.”

“I’m allergic.”

“I used to be a man.”

It didn’t matter to me what the excuse was… They all got a flower.

It’s also not uncommon to do this event and not see the same faces as the year before.

“It’s really tough when one of them passes away,” a twenty-year-old female volunteer named Danielle, who was assigned to escort me one year, told me. “It’s sad. Really sad.”

We pass out flowers from 8am to 10am (we are always there until 10:30 or a little longer) then we drive to the main complex where the real party starts at 11am. From 11am to 2pm the families of the residents are all invited to show up for a free lunch, singing, dancing, face painting, balloon animals, and more flowers. It’s a big event and the local news cameras show up and cover the event. It’s so big that four more clowns show up for the 11am to 2pm shift. In total, there are six clowns running around entertaining everyone. The event crescendos with a great big sing-and-dance-along lead by a live band that even the elderly in wheelchairs join in on.

Sadly, some families don’t show up.

This is where we come to the reason why I am posting this before Mother’s Day (and I’ll try not to sound to preachy). Spend time with your mom if you can. I live 3000 miles away from my Mom (I moved to L.A. from the East Coast to be and actor) and can’t physically “see” her, but I always send her something and call her on Mother’s Day. If you are geographically close, take your mom out and treat them extra special. If you can’t do that, then spend time with them and let them talk about the “old days.” I noticed that the residents who were actually taken out for a few hours before the big party were always the happiest ones at the party. They love to tell us clowns how their son or daughter is so wonderful and how they went out for a “special” breakfast.

Moms are human. They will not always be there. Appreciate them while they are, and let them know you love them by giving them a little bit of your time.

And if you can, make them a flower bouquet out of balloons. If you can’t, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have a clown around to make one for you.

I AM a Purple Dino Type.