Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sixteen candles (plus twenty more candles)

“We’re so old!” my soon-to-be-wife Kara and I started saying after college, when we’d do things like get out of bed before noon or pay our rent on time. 

We’d been saying it as a joke, since we were obviously not old, but it still felt somewhat true, seeing as how, at the time, we were the oldest we’d ever been.  Sure, we could still split a large pizza without gaining weight, but we’d also obtained firsthand experience with actual adulthood, which, we were disappointed to discover, was mostly achieved through the purchasing of insurance.

“Man, I’m so old,” I said last weekend, looking in the mirror for the first time as a grizzled thirty-six-year-old.  Thirty-six.  That’s actually starting to sound little bit old.  Nobody gives a thirty-six-year-old a lollipop after a flu shot.

The tradeoff for giving up your youth is that you’re supposed to gain wisdom.  This is why the term “middle aged” was invented, so that we’d have something to call people in-between, who had neither youth nor wisdom.       

“How are you feeling about your 36th birthday?” my old college roommate Derek asked on a recent phone call.

“At least I can run for president now,” I said.

“Dude, you can be president when you’re thirty-five,” he replied.

“I thought it was thirty-six!  My campaign is already behind!” I said.

So we, as a country, have determined that by the time someone is a little bit younger than me, they have the requisite life experience and judgment to be trusted with the nuclear launch codes.  Taking a quick look at my peers, many of whom still play beer pong, steal movies off the Internet and consider bodily functions to be high comedy, I’m not so sure this is the best policy.  Perhaps we should consider bumping the age up to forty-five or so, when we’ll all start wearing pants with elastic waistbands and casting disapproving looks at people who are doing things we used to find fun.

Now that I’ve gained some age and perspective, I feel like I should have some wisdom to dispense.  I’ve been writing this column for almost nine years, so I went through the archives to see what nuggets I might be able to pull out to prove that someone should give me some nuclear launch codes. 

Turns out, in roughly 400 columns, the only nugget of useful information I’ve dispensed was about actual nuggets.  Chicken McNuggets, to be precise.  In 2008, in what passes for hard-hitting investigative journalism in my house, I reported that it’s cheaper to buy two four-packs of McNuggets than one six-pack.  Since then, there has not been a single fact dispensed in this space, with most of the remaining subject matter treating bodily functions as high comedy.

I did just learn a new trick, though, that might just be valuable enough to pass as wisdom.  You know how the first step to opening a bottle of wine is to take a little knife and cut the foil off the top?  I recently watched in amazement as my brother-in-law Kris took a fresh bottle of wine and twisted the entire foil top right off.  He just pulled it off, like magic.

“Dude!  How did you do that?” I asked.

“You can pull the foil right off.  It works on every bottle I’ve ever tried,” he said.

I always thought that foil was glued on there, but subsequent experimentation has revealed that Kris was right.  You can just twist and pull that foil right off.     

So now I’ve passed along my thirty-six years’ worth of knowledge to you.  This insight may or may not be useful for you, but it helps me to get to the wine quicker, which in turn helps me to forget about the bald spot.

You can help Mike Todd wheeze out his candles at

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finishing the year strong, starting next week

Once you look at this picture for two seconds...

it's probably impossible to get mad at me for turning in an old column again this week, right?  That's what I'm banking on!

I'm hoping to finish out the year without missing another week.  But I'll take pictures of my kids being cute anyway, just in case I have to bust 'em out.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Low prices, pink eyes

“There’s a very good chance that I will be dead before this toothpaste is gone,” I said, dropping a box of gallon-sized tubes into our cart.  

“That’s morbid,” my wife Kara said.

“Not really.  I could probably see our grandkids graduate medical school by the time this toothpaste runs out,” I said. 

When you’re shopping at a warehouse club, these are the kinds of calculations you make.

“That’s it, Crest.  You got me to spend twenty bucks on toothpaste today.  Now I’m out.  Forever,” you say.

“Eh!  Eh!” said our son Zack from his stroller, pointing at the guy handing out cheese samples.  I’m convinced that Zack could talk if he wanted to, but he may just choose to point and say, “Eh!  Eh!” for the rest of his life. 

“Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?” the officiant will ask.

“Eh!  Eh!” Zack will reply, pointing at the woman in the wedding dress.  We’ll all know what he means, so that will be good enough. 

I thanked the man for the cheese sample and handed it to Zack.  He grabbed it with both hands, held it near his lips for a moment, then launched it overboard.  Desire is a fickle thing for an 18-month-old.

The other shoppers didn’t know that Zack was flinging biohazards around the store.  They just strolled past, rolling their 50-gallon drums of Gatorade down the aisle, unaware of the danger. 
The previous day, we’d gotten a call from Zack’s daycare, asking us to pick him up because his face was melting.  Those weren’t their exact words, but they might as well have been.

Our family has dealt with seven cases of pinkeye this year: two for each kid, one for Kara, one for the dog, and one for my mom, who made the mistake of stepping foot in our house.  If you’re not familiar with pinkeye, it’s a condition that makes the contents of one’s skull come extruding out through one’s eyeballs, as far as I can tell.

I’m the only member of our family who hasn’t gotten it this year, because I have not touched my face since mid-2011.  Having two kids in daycare has also given me a superhuman immune system, as I am constantly coated in parasites, viruses and, somewhat incidentally, peanut butter.

The other shoppers in that store, though, wouldn’t have had the same hard-won protection.  Zack had been rubbing his eyes all day.  We’d tried to quarantine him in the stroller, but he’d figured out a way to catapult his germs, via aged Vermont cheddar.  I quickly scooped up the cheese in a napkin and dropped it into a trash can, before any innocent passersby could get infected.  Simply glancing at pinkeye sideways can cause it to latch onto your eyes and begin extruding your brains, just like cable news.

“Oh, hey, mums!  Can you put some in the cart?”  Kara said.

“I’m so sorry.  You drew the short straw, mums,” I whispered, apologizing to the unlucky plant as I put it in our cart.  The only plants that survive in our house are the ones our parents remember to water when they visit. 

Once we’d purchased a lifetime’s supply of stuff we didn’t really need, we picked up Evan, our four-year-old, at daycare, hosed him off with hand sanitizer, and headed home.

Over dinner, Evan tasted one of our new purchases and said, “I like my old chicken nuggets better.”

“Well, we can go back to the old kind, just as soon as you eat a trash bag full of the new kind first,” I replied.

“Eh! Eh!” Zack chimed in, pointing at the dog for some reason.   

Somewhere around that time, without thinking about it, Kara must have rubbed her eyes, or looked sideways at Zack.  Make that eight cases this year.

You can get a bulk discount on Mike Todd at

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Like a column, but instead it's pictures

I understand that I am really stretching the definition of "weekly" column these days, but I had to turn in an old one again this week.  On the plus side, I don't recall writing that column from 2008, so I'd be really surprised if anyone in the world remembered reading it. 

Also, you couldn't possibly care about hiking pictures I took a couple weeks back, but, you know, I feel weird not putting something out here on Sunday night, so here we go: