“You should’ve seen your face when I hit the water!” Frank bellows across the dinner table. “Complete shock.”

“I’ll bet,” I say, trying to smile as if I enjoyed being punk’d in front of my kids.

“You’re quite the jokester, Frank.”

“That’s why your sis loves me,” Frank says, winking his chunky eyelid at Bonnie, who looks back at him as if the love faded years ago.

Frank looks at my kids and leans forward.

“Did you guys know your dad and I used to work together back in Boston?” he asks.
Dev, Edwin and Fiona jointly shake their heads.

Frank turns to his sons. “That’s how I met your mother, boys.”

“So…why exactly did I introduce you to this guy again?” I say to Bonnie. I wink at Frank like I’m joking. He buys it, then looks wistfully into the air.

“Ah, those were the days,” he says. “You remember those days, Doug?”

“They were days, all right,” I say.

Frank looks around the table. “Doug and I pranked each other in the office a lot,” he says. “You remember that last one, Doug?”

“You mean the one that got me transferred to Chicago, and got you fired?” I say.

“That’s the one,” Frank says. “If I hadn’t found the KC job so fast at twice the money and half the hours, I might be ticked at you for letting things get so out of hand.”

I make anger fists in my lap. My new job resulted in less pay and more hours.

“What are you doing again?” I say.

“Software Technology Data Specialist,” Franks says.

“STD Specialist,” I say. “Does that require special gloves?”

“Funny,” Frank says. Tapping his chunky fingers to the table, he gets a pained look on his face. “What was the last prank you pulled on me? It was so lame I can barely even remember.”

“I replaced your computer with a cardboard one,” I say.
“Right!” Frank says, pointing at me. His wedding ring looks like it’s wrapped around a raw Kielbasa. He scans the kids’ faces and grins. “It was so cute,” he says. “Doug made a computer screen, keyboard, mouse, even a computer chair out of cardboard. Took me about ten minutes to put everything back in place…You remember what I did, Doug?”

Infatuated with himself, Frank swells with pride. This is no simple task, given that he is already a distended parade float of a man in his normal state.

Bonnie and Shannon are both stone-faced and still. They remember it well. How could they not? Both their lives were forever changed as a result.

A high-pitched wail erupts through a baby monitor in the corner. Bonnie rises without hesitation. She clearly wants nothing to do with this conversation.

“Lucius is awake,” she says.

“I’ll help,” Shannon says, equally repelled by the subject matter.

The wives disappear, leaving Frank, five kids, and me – one fully-formed frontal lobe between the lot of us.

“So what did he do, Dad?” Devlin says.

I know if I sound angry or look defeated, it’s going to make me seem like an even bigger putz, so I don’t hesitate or speak with malice.

“He messed with my Microsoft Word settings so that whenever I typed our company name, it would automatically change to the word ‘penis,’” I say.

The kids all gasp and giggle with delight. Only Devlin really seems to understand – the rest of them are merely enchanted by the word penis.

Frank smacks the table. “Is that awesome or what?” he says.

“Yeah, it was the most unusual quarterly report our female CEO had ever seen,” I say.

“Well, you should’ve done a spell check,” Frank says.

“I did,” I say, “but Penis is an actual word, so-”

“Well, you should’ve proofread,” Frank says. He looks around at the kids and scoffs. “Who doesn’t proofread a document they’re sending to a CEO?”

“You’re right,” I say. “It was my fault.”

Bonnie and Shannon return. Bonnie is cradling Lucius, their 9-month-old, in her arms. He’s cute – reddish hair and blue eyes, like Bonnie.

“Here’s your new nephew, Doug,” Bonnie says, looking as proud of her son as Frank did about sabotaging my auto-correct feature.

“Yeah, he’s cute,” I say in a thoughtless whatever tone, and return my attention to Frank. “How about a game of Yarthies, Frank?”

The lights dim and there’s a pulse of dramatic music. Frank replies, but his lips don’t match up with his words.

“Yarthies, eh?” he says. “You’re only here two days. You think you can beat me in two days?”

Our last Yarthies match went 2 years.

“I do,” I say. From my pockets I produce ninja throwing stars. They make a metallic zing as I spread them in my fingers. I hurl them at Frank, who halts them in midair with a wave of his open hand. The stars fall harmlessly to the table.

“I got knife-scars more than the number of your leg's hair!” Frank says. “Do you feel the stink smell? That is you.”

“You’re petulant, but not concentrated enough,” I reply. “I have been scared like a mouse too much lately. Your soul is nothing but toilet paper. I shall clean myself with it.”

I look over to Patch, who now sits to my right.

“Really?” I say. “We had to go ninja-kung-fu movie?”

“Absolutely,” Patch says. “This challenge is definitely ninja-fung-fu worthy.” Patch looks at Frank. His eyes get an extreme close up. “You daring lousy guy,” Patch says. “You disarray my intestines! I’ve got furious now.”

Frank stands, his girth casting shadows.

“Game on,” he says.

And his lips match the words.

It’s on.


Me, training for Yarthies.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?, Chapters 16 - 17, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White, Chapter 19: Pickle, Chapter 20: Marty McFly, Chapter 21 / 22: standard deviation, all the pretty flowers, Chapter 23: Game 3: Black Hills, Chapter 24: Twister, Chapter 25: Game 4, Chapter 26: Patriotic Agony, Chapter 27: Locusts, Chapter 28: skype, Chapter 29: Click, Chapter 30: Superman, Chapter 30: Ass Brunch Chapter 32: Mammoth, Chapter 33: Pathetic, Chapter 34: Purple and Gold, Chapter 35: Chowdah, Chapter 36: Mastermind, Chapter 37: m&m cookie dough, Chapter 38: taste, Chapter 39: Dance with the Devil, Chapter 40: Game 7, Chapter 41: 17 to 11, Chapter 42: One Mold, Chapter 43: Stink Smell, Chapter 44: Yarthies

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
wtf is a yarthies match???

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Well obviously I'm gonna tell ya.

Blogger Wormboy said...
Wow, you worked with an are related by marriage to a dick this big? Not just creative license? Dude, that sucks.

I have been extraordinarily lucky in the brother-in-law department. Well, one of the three is actually a sister-in-law, since one of my wife's sisters is a lesbian. Not that it makes a difference. All are cool and worth having a beer with. If that's a metric worthy of choosing the leader of the free world, it's good for a bro-in-law, eh?