Tag Archives: humor

Keep the Prayers Coming

I really enjoyed our online novena last week.  It was nice to know that I was being prayed for and to pray for others, not just my own intentions.  It was also especially gratifying to spread devotion to St. Rita.

cajetan

St. Cajetan (Gaetano) the Theatine, patron of the unemployed and job-seekers.

Things started to move on the job front, if only slightly.  You have to understand that I’ve never been in this position.  I resigned from my job and I am 100% positive this was the right decision.  I know God is asking me to trust Him right now.  I know He will lead me somewhere better.  Tonight I had a meeting with the principal of a phenomenal school.  We spoke openly and honestly and it certainly looks like there might be a job for me there.  Next school year.

So that leaves me with next month…

It will be interesting for sure.  I will probably have to take non-teaching work in the meantime which is not something I was looking for.  So for the sake of humor I will now walk through a few possible scenarios.

 

TSA

Everyone’s favorite government agency is ALWAYS hiring.  Lucky for me I have a MAJOR airport five miles from my house.  The up side?  I love airports.  The down side?  I hate putting my hands on other guys’ legs.  True, I could have some fun with the X-ray machines imagining things that aren’t really there and then calling them in.  Also, I understand that people in these kinds of jobs are generally not altogether there.  With a pinch of ingenuity and a pulse I could be a real standout.  Unfortunately I don’t look good in blue.

RETAIL

nordstrom

Actual Nordstrom where I worked years ago.  Or not.  They all look alike.

When I was in college I worked in a Nordstrom department store.  My customer service skills are top notch.  It also helped that I worked for the only retail outlet on the planet where they say the customer is always right and then actually mean it.  I remember one time I took a return.  It was a $1000 leather jacket that had not been purchased in a Nordstrom.  We know this because we had never sold that jacket.  Furthermore it was 20 years old, frayed, and had a dead rat in the breast pocket.  Apparently Mr. Nordstrom believed it was better to have a satisfied customer in the store with cash in his hand than to upset the delicate flower.  I remembered those words as the customer was quickly exiting the store with a thousands bucks in hand laughing at the security camera.

FAST FOOD

This could work.  I like to eat fast food.  By that logic, though, I should work in a liquor store.  Let’s come back to this one…

TELEVISION

You know I used to work as a writer and producer in this exciting medium.  If I was any good I’d have been the breakout star of 2005.  Still, there are several large media outlets in my neck of the woods.  Unfortunately not only can I not get the Texas drawl down but I can’t seem to shake my Jersey accent.  I’d be a bigger fish out of water than that large fish a friend of mine caught.  Wow that was a really bad literary device.

PUBLIC SAFETY

fire

See… I couldn’t get this huge if I tried.

I’d consider the FBI if I weren’t too old.  I’d consider a police force but my back injuries would probably rule me out.  I’d consider the fire department.  Let’s think about this one.  1) Every fireman I know is ridiculously huge – like GI Joe proportions only taller.  Yes Grady, even you.  There isn’t enough protein in the world to make this frame that size.  2) Having lived through a multiple-fatal house fire as a child the psychological trauma of running into a burning building would make it impossible for me to do my job.  3) I can only imagine the first time an alarm rings and I have to shimmy down the pole.  I would think of a TV segment I produced for a news program in New York.  It was about a new workout called “the stripper workout”.  Seriously.  The mental image of our aging anchor dancing around a pole would make me incontinent with laughter and I would fall through the hole in the floor breaking multiple bones.  Thus I would be rendered incapable of fighting fires that day.

So there you have it.  Looks like I’ll have to get creative.  I’m open to suggestions so let’s hear ’em.  Or you could just continue to pray for me.  Otherwise I’m going to get real familiar with Wendy Williams and Kelly Ripa.  That’s a fate worse than death.

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Raising an Exchange Son

My little bundle of alegría is getting bigger every day.

Nearly two weeks into his stay in our life forever, Sylvester – that’s my foreign exchange son – is already holding his head up on his own, walking erect, and babbling.  He might be expressing high level thoughts in a language not my own.  Who can say?

640px-Flag_of_Spain.svg

One day we will teach you all about where you came from, son.

It dawned on me while I was brushing my teeth tonight that I should have asked him to call me “Big Daddy” as I called my father before me.  That would have been nice.  I suppose there’s still time; though he is growing like a weed.  He’s already over 5 feet tall, the little gremlin.  Someone got fed after midnight…

I’m already planning next year’s “Gotcha’ Day” festivities.  My wife says we may have to move them up to sometime in the next week.  “He has to go home,” she says.

“Honey,” I replied, “this is his home – his forever home.”

She mumbled something about delusions and international law.  I reminded her about our “passports and .45’s” discussion of the other day.  Ooh!  And my son, the biological one, picked up a nifty fu manchu-style fake mustache the other day!  I’ll bet one of us could use that at some point.

Our neighbors next door host a family get-together every weekend.  We sometimes walk out onto our porch late on Saturday night just to hear the authentic music and smell the grilling of fish.  Our neighbor on the other side calls it their “la familia parties”.  He says it with the thickest Texas accent and it sounds quaint.  We don’t mind because it’s all family and I think it’s neat to see how they celebrate that.  I’m from a big family too and we like to party.  What an unusual world we’ve brought you to, Sylvester.

Last Sunday my wife asked him how he could possibly sleep with the mostly mariachi-sounding music in the driveway outside his bedroom at 3AM.  “It’s OK,” he said.  “Maybe they are Mech-ican?”

Indeed, son.  He’s already learning so much about culture.

Took the lad to the batting cages yesterday.  He’s never swung a bat before but he did the old man proud.  Once he got into the swing of it (no pun intended; and note to self: begin working in more Dad jokes) he really knocked it out of the park.  Also note to self: stop using baseball metaphors when talking about baseball.  After a fastball came screaming down the line from the pitching machine, my little Spaniard knocked that mother back to the black hole it came from.  “Yay Sylvester!  White Daddy is so proud!”

Maybe I’ll get him a gun rack for his next birthday.

Pizza and Prayer

Oh the things that transpire in my presence…

I’ll never fully understand it.  Is it a gift?  A curse?  I’ll enlighten you and let you make the call.  Keep in mind these things really all happen to me.  And I have no idea why.

You remember the broken toes and the boot, right?  Keep that mess in mind.

Friday afternoon I headed home from another exciting work week.  I had spent 40+ hours with the most amazing teenagers who allowed me graciously to feed off their natural energy.  Together we learned and had fun.

I was teetering on that strange precipice I find myself on from time to time – loving the job I’ve been given but never realizing the respect I think all grown men want to feel for their efforts, however meager, at supporting their families while staying true to your vocation.  Hey, it can be tough sometimes.  Then you start to feel awful at the realization of how enormous your pride is.  If no one ever recognizes me for being the best teacher in the history of teaching (or for just getting my ass out of bed at 5:45 every morning when not many years ago I didn’t know there was a second 5:45); then God sees all and knows all and hopefully I’m not letting him down too much.  He knows I’m a screw-up and he still chose me to do this job.  Glad His hand is straight because my lines are way crooked.  Listen, I got 125 of these kids to stop Snapchatting long enough to understand the basics of sacramental theology this week.

Still it is nice to get a pat on the back once in a while and when I walked in the door I got just that.  My kids, the most important people in my life, had planned out a “thank you surprise” for me.  A note by the front door in my son’s handwriting said “Daddy, we wanted to say thank you for all the work you do for us so we could have fun things like a trip to Disneyland this summer [past].  Follow the map on the back for your surprise.”

“How nice of them,” I thought.

The map, an incredibly well drawn floorplan of my house, had me go to my room and get changed.  This isn’t too hard these days since I’m already in shorts thanks to the boot.  Next step was to head to the kitchen for a surprise dinner.

Unfortunately, Mommy wasn’t quite ready with the surprise dinner.  That’s because she had only just ordered it.  But after a few minutes I was instructed to head to the porch.  Not sure why, I took the opportunity to light a smoke and take in the warmth of a Texas September evening.

And then it began.  “It” is the strange vortex that whirls into and out of my life depositing bits of crazy in its wake.  Occasionally bits of lies and falsehoods are trapped and then exposed as well.  A car pulled up and a young man of about 18 stepped up fumbling with a red oven bag.  I popped my head back inside.  “Honey, did you order pizza?” I asked.  She replied in the affirmative.  She even told me it had been paid for but that there was a bill by the door for his tip.

By the time I was fully back on the porch the pizza boy was standing in front of me.

“Looks like you’ve got a” – he paused while flipping a fistful of receipts upside down and rightside up again – “large cheese pie, a small, I mean a medium, wait looks like a 10 inch three-cheese blend and another 10 inch with mushrooms and onions.”  I was just about to correct him for his lack of an Oxford comma when he interjected “Oh, and an order of cheesy bread.”  Only in America could we possibly have come up with “cheesy bread” and not come up with a less descriptive name for it.

“Sounds good, buddy,” I said.  “Until two minutes ago I didn’t know I was having pizza so anything’s a bonus.”

I signed my receipt against the pillar supporting my porch roof, took the stack of pizzas, and handed him the paper trail.  I was turning to walk back inside when the dim bulb on my front walk blurted something out.

“Can I ask you something?” he asked.

I held my tongue from saying “Just did, dumbass.”

Can I pray for your foot?” he said pointing down at the boot.

“Oh… sure,” I said.  “That would be nice.”  I said this assuming he would return to his car and offer up a quick Hail Mary and be on his way.

Instead…

He dropped to both knees right in front of me.  Listen pal, I’ve got neighbors and this is an odd position for both of us.  But he began to pray.

Staring intently at my foot with both hands hovering over my boot he intoned: “Father, we pray that you would send your healing power to” – he looked up – “what’s your name?”

“Harvey.”  Hey, I didn’t know what else to do.

“- for Harvey.  We pray that you would bless him and heal his foot, especially all the ligaments and tendons and the muscles and bones.  Heal his ankle.  Heal his brokenness.”

I was too afraid to take a picture of Pizza Nut so I had Buddy, my Russell Terrier stand in.

This continued for another minute.  And then it got weird(er).

Clamping both of his pizza hands firmly on my boot, he began to pulse some kind of bizarre energy into my leg.  It was worse than that time I got drunk and watched Charo videos with my sister.  His voice took on a crazed tone.

“We command it in Jesus’ name!  Heal his ankle!  I command it in Jesus’ name!  Heal his ankle!”

I have no problem with his prayer at all.  I actually thought it was a very kind gesture.

What I did not have was the heart to tell him that it was just two broken toes and they’re getting better.  Not a ligament tear or tendon pull in sight and my ankles are great.  Also, I have the badass-est calves this side of the Pecos.

I didn’t even know what to say other than “Amen?”  He stood up and mumbled something about believing in the power of prayer because he’s a Christian.  Again I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that he’s a Christian because he recognizes the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth.  We stared at each other momentarily before I headed into my house with a stack of pizza and a feeling that my leg had just been exorcised by a Papa John’s pizza boy and that I, may in fact, need to have my confirmation revalidated.

How does one even top that?

What an eventful evening…  The rest of the surprise, you ask?  The kids had a movie picked out for me.  But not even Disney in all its movie magic could top my pizza prayer.

The only thing that could’ve made it gloriously perfect would have been if the order were actually correct.

Dear Daughter, Don’t Ever Change.

My dear baby girl, my precious daughter, I have a request for you.  Please, don’t ever, EVER change on me.

Oh I know it’s inevitable and you’re going to grow up.  But that’s not what I mean.  You did something today that just made me realize how beautiful you are, how blessed I am, and how wonderful God is.  It’s the kind of thing that a father takes note of and files in his brain in the “cherish” department.  It was just a moment between us.  No one else was around.  It speaks of your personality in all its glory.  It speaks, I guess, a little about how we’re raising you.

But most of all, it speaks of that tender and private bond that a daddy shares with his little girl.

Private, that is, until I blog about it.  Oh well.  Sue me.

What’d you do?

I was in the middle of watching the Superbowl.  You were not.

You had gone into my bedroom to watch a movie.  At least that’s what I thought you were doing.

Getting up for a quick bathroom break, I stumbled into my bedroom to see the most adorable thing.

You, dear one, were sitting on my bed, fully be-decked in a princess dress, sprawled across the foot of the bed, crayons in hand, scribbling on a piece of paper.

You looked up as if to see who was interrupting your artistic endeavor.

I glanced at you to realize that you had so much make-up on your face you looked like a raccoon.

And then… we both burst out laughing.

I think in that moment we just knew that something funny and special was taking place.  You see, sweetheart, you aren’t very good at applying make up.  Then again, you’re only six.  I give you lots of credit for trying though.  However, Daddy thinks you’re beautiful and don’t need make up.  But I have no problem with it.  If you could only have seen your face.  I guess you didn’t have to since you saw mine and my reaction.

The drawing?  You were making a card for your teacher.  It was beautiful, like you.  It was also thoughtful.  She hadn’t been your teacher until after Christmas and you wanted to make sure she got a Christmas card so you had drawn a tree.  You asked me to write the lyrics to “O Tannenbaum” on the back, which I did.

And then I gave the prettiest little girl in the world a big kiss.  Fortunately, your make up didn’t smear.

I hope when you get older you’re just as thoughtful, just as sweet, just as beautiful, and just as funny.

Sweetheart, don’t ever change.  Daddy loves you just the way you are.

Reaction to “Shred This” – Insights on Getting Shredded with a Trainer

My post yesterday about the kettlebell drew more readers than I’ve had in a long while.  Included in those readers was a man I affectionately dubbed “TP” in that post.  He called me up and thanked me for what I had written.  “Only thing is,” he said, “My wife said I’m a complete jerk.”  So, Mrs. TP, if you’re reading this, please know that your husband is (normally) far from a jerk.  In fact, as I’ve stated, I’m very grateful for his help and motivation.  This is the first time I’ve ever had a personal trainer and I’m thus far pleased with the results.  Granted, I did have to practically abduct the trainer and force him to train me against his will.  Don’t worry.  When I’ve reached 4% body fat, I will destroy the negatives.

Speaking of 4% bf, I want to mention some other facts about TP.  Did you know he first appeared on these pages as a character called “Zippy“?  Truth.  Follow the link, you’ll see.  So, TP knows me well enough.  He knows that I have some insecurity about reaching my fitness goals and I tease him about it by ridiculing him for his “beastliness”.  One thing he detests is when I try to make a comparison.  There are probably a few reasons for this.  As I said in my last post, comparisons with him are dumb because he’ll always come out on top.  He has been doing this a lot longer.  That’s one of the reasons I hired him.  There I go again…  It’s one of the reasons I coerced him with blackmail to train me.  I absolutely trust that he’s done all the work and figured out how to get in great shape.  If he could do it for himself, he ought to be able to do it for others, right?  Did not Abe Vigoda do the same thing for Barney Miller?

I play the piano.  I play it quite well.  Been playing since I was 4 years-old.  If I were to “train” another on how to play, I know it would take several years for that person to reach a point where he or she could play like I can.  But even with the passage of time, there’s something that person would have to have that I cannot give.  He would have to have talent.  So, TP, listen up…  When I tease him for being “superman”, it’s a complement, truly.  Not everyone has been blessed by God with physical abilities.  I try not to make the comparison as though I’ll ever reach the same stature as him.  I just like to imagine reaching that kind of a goal.  Case in point: I’m currently running a 9:30-10:00 minute pace.  It’s kind of humiliating only because I WANT to do better.  I don’t know if I CAN do better but I want to try.  If I were to ask TP “TP, how long did it take you to go from 10:00 to your current 7:30?” he’d likely respond “3 weeks.”  And that’s cool.  It’s actually funny.  And it’s a gift from God that one should not shy away from.  If I were to ask that same question in a British accent, it would be even funnier.

A thought…

When I was 4 years-old and being tossed from a burning building, setting me up for a broken body as an adult, there was a child, barely a year and a half old living across the continent.  That child was going to grow up to meet me one day and offer incredible training advice that would finally help me get my broken body back in shape.  See, it is a gift and I’m thankful for it.

So, TP, will I run as fast as you?  Doubtful.  I’d like to and I don’t think I’ll stop trying.  Your time is a benchmark for me, nothing more.  In our training session the other day, he showed me a stretch and said “This one’s great because while you’re stretching you can admire your lats.”  He’s a comedian.  I don’t have lats.  I’d like to and I don’t think I’ll stop trying.  The thing is, I know I’ve made progress.  Am I at his 4% fat levels?  Far from it.  I’ve never properly checked but I’m sure it’s way up there.  Is it coming down?  You bet.  Am I the only one who sees that?  Maybe.  What’s important is that he has seen, I hope, that after these past four months, I’m serious, dedicated, and willing to do whatever he suggests.  I’m doing things I’ve never done before like running and using a kettlebell and not just once or twice.  I like how I feel and I sort of like how I’m shaping up.  Can he get me to 4%?  That’s kind of up to him.  See how I did that there?  Clever, huh?  I just placed the burden all on his shoulders.  What?  They’re bigger than mine anyway.

Getting shredded, that’s the goal.  We’ll continue to monitor the situation like a hostage crisis.  Until then, this is my cheat day, per TP’s instructions and I may have already tapped into a big bottle of wine and a very large, unhealthy pizza topped with… enriched flour.

Sweet Emma Barrett or Mom Was Right

Welcome to another installment of “My Kids are Nuts: They Must Have Gotten It From Someone”.

This evening, my beautiful baby girl was sitting at the kitchen counter as I trod lightly across the hardwood floor.  I was hoping not to be detected as I made my way from the living room to the piano.  You see I’ve been working on a Beethoven Sonata for a little while and I enjoy sitting and playing and working it out until it’s perfect.  My daughter, soon to be six, has been working on “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and also likes to sit down and play when the mood strikes her.  Crazy genetics.

To make matters worse, my wife, when she sees me heading for the keys, likes to egg the situation on by suggestion to my otherwise unsuspecting daughter that she practice her pieces.

Needless to say I gave up the bench to my daughter who played beautifully.  “There’s only one problem, sweetheart,” I said.  I had noticed the way she was sitting.  I’m crazy pyscho about form.  If you do not have good form at piano, you should correct it immediately.  She was sitting with her left leg pulled up, foot on the bench, and her free arm sort of lazily wrapped around her knee while she pecked out the notes with her right hand.

I scooted her over and gave a demonstration.  “Should Daddy sit like this?” I asked, mimicking her posture, “Or like this?” sitting up straight.  She laughed.  I couldn’t tell if she got the importance so I offered a story.

“When Daddy was a little boy, his mommy – Grandma – told him this story.  She and Grandpa had gone to New Orleans.  While they were there they went to a famous jazz club.  A revered veteran of the jazz world was to perform at the piano.  To their surprise, a 90 year-old woman was chair-lifted to the stage by four men.”  At this point I started gesticulating and got into character so she could see.  “When she was in front of the keys, she rested her left hand in her lap, for she had long since stroked out.”  I started to giggle as my wife, fixing dinner, looked on incredulously.  “She proceeded to clear her throat and then played a song using just a few fingers on her right hand.”

My wife stopped my.  “I don’t believe this” – But I continued…

“On top of the piano, her assistants had placed a bowl of saltines which she would routinely grasp at and then nibble on in between notes.”  At this point I couldn’t control my laughter.  “You are making this up!” shouted my wife.

Now I couldn’t be called a liar in front of my daughter; not while teaching a lesson.  Still not sure what that lesson was but I had to prove myself.

Out came the phone and pretty soon I had Grandma on FaceTime.

My daughter (who has Grandma’s eyes) looked at the screen and said “Is Daddy lying?!”  To allay her shock I had to clue her in.  “Mom, they don’t believe me about the old jazz lady with the –”  At that moment Mom jumped in…

“The saltines!?”

Stroked and batshit crazy.  That's the life.

Stroked and batshit crazy. That’s the life.

We laughed heartily as she regaled us and told the same story, only better than I could have for she’s the one who witnessed it.  She likes to complain that she’s not that smart or doesn’t have a great memory but the woman is sharp as a tack. This must have taken place 50 years ago and she knew all the details without hesitation.  “Preservation Hall,” she said.  “That’s where it was.  I just can’t recall her name.”

Well, Mom, thanks for the story.  It certainly stuck with me.  And using your details I looked the chick up.  I think it was Sweet Emma Barrett.  And thanks to you, another generation of us will live to tell her tale.  And thanks to you and me, my daughter will either sit up straight or decide that if Sweet Emma can do it, so can she.  Because hey, she can be anything she wants apparently.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find some crackers.  I’ve got some Mozart to work on.  Oh, and my daughter has my mother’s eyes.  She keeps them in a glass jar on her dresser.*

*Only Mom will get the reference.

How to Father a Son

I know what you’re thinking.  And if you want that kind of advice [on how to father a son, or daughter for that matter] then you might want to check out Wikipedia, Urban Dictionary, or, well, just go ask your parents.  There is always the ultimate option of “finding these things out on the ‘street'”.  Ooh…  Sounds positively dirty.

What I’m talking about is being a father to one’s son.  And I have just the story to share on the subject.

A few nights ago my wife had to go out for a few hours.  She left me with the usual instructions.  “Make sure Son reads two chapters from his book to you, make sure Daughter takes her shower, and carve that turkey on the stove.”  Yeah, I’m still puzzled about the turkey.

I got this, I thought to myself.  They are, after all, my kids and I’m pretty decent at taking care of them.

I proceeded to tackle things in reverse order.  The turkey?  Well, he was pretty tough and I couldn’t find the electric carving knife so I gave up.

Daughter’s shower?  “Sweetheart?  You stink.  Hit the showers!” I called from the kitchen while placing the tin foil back over the turkey.  Done.

“OK, Son, where’s that book?” I asked.  He approached me with a copy of something called A Cricket in Times Square.  Looked simple enough.  The pages were small, the text was big.  I hate crickets but I love Times Square so maybe there would be a balance.

The thing is that Son began to mildly complain.  “Daddy, this book is sooooooo big and I want to watch the Turtles!”  I laughed out loud at the thought that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are still on the air.  “Listen young man, quit complaining and let’s get it knocked out together.”

While we sat on the front porch together, he reading and alternately asking me how to pronounce difficult words like Connecticut, I sipped my glass of wine and realized how much fun this is.

And the experience conjured up an isolated memory in my mind of my own dad and his quirky awesomeness in how he fathered me.  I’ve got to find a different phrasing for that.

I was six years-old (same as my son is now) and my dad was home so it was either a weekend or he took some vacation time.  For some reason he decided I needed to read a book.  I’m guessing it was a Sunday and football was on.  Did he hand me The Cricket book?  Nope.  My savant-esque, genius of a dad placed into my hands a gem called…

Ages in Chaos: A Reconstruction of Ancient History from Exodus to Akhnaton by Immanuel Velikovsky (1952, Doubleday, 350 pp.)

He claimed to have read it when he was a boy of my age and was fascinated by.  The book, for the record, weighed more than my head.  The first thing I noticed was the lack of pictures.  The second thing I noticed were the handwritten margin notes penned by my father and dated 1820.  OK, so he’s not that old.

For the next three hours I slogged my way through the first five pages.  As you might imagine the text is dense and the words near-impossible for the average six year-old to digest.  But, the old man had told me to read the first chapter and being the obedient son I was, that’s what I did.

Bringing the book back to him I awaited his round of questioning to insure that I had read this piece of crap wonderful work of scholarly scholar-ness.

“Son,” he said, “Give me your summary.”

I stared blankly for a moment before attempting to string something cogent together.

“What in the hell are you talking about?!” he finally said.  “What were you reading?”

“This book,” I replied.  “This… Ages in… Chah-ose.”  And that’s when he realized that I hadn’t a clue what I was doing.

His next clue came when he began to ask about the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and its “garbled history”.  Again, I attempted an answer that made no sense.

“Where exactly were you reading?” he asked.

Ages in Chaos

Now, my veracity called into question, I boldly yanked the book from his hands and, grabbing the first few pages between my thumb and index finger, I exclaimed: “This, Dad, the first chapter!”

He wasted no time.

“Son, that’s the damn foreword.”

And with that we gave up.  I never did read that book though I did study the art and archaeology of the ancient Near-East as part of my religious studies degree.

Coming out of my trance, I looked down at my own little boy.  “Cuh-NET-i-ket, Son,” I said.  “Huh, Daddy?”  “It’s a state near New York.”

He looked at me like I was crazy and returned to his book, clearly having moved several pages ahead while I was daydreaming.

And as he continued reading about the cricket I returned to my thoughts.  So he challenged me.  I seem to have turned out OK.  God bless him.  From that one experience I at least knew there was an ancient Near-East.  None of my friends knew that.  And he did discuss that book with me as time went on, though I never read it myself.

But to this day I have never read the foreword to a book.

And I still chuckle ever time I hear the word chaos.