Sunday, March 20, 2011

Miss Cee's Infallible Guide to Managing FoBs

Above is a live action shot of my very own self, flanked by the Netherlands Ambassador on my right, and Senator Palpatine, a surprise attendee, on my left. Always be prepared for any contingency!

[a.k.a. Eavesdropping Inside the Uniquely Wondrous Mind of Cecily Grace]

The first thing to remember is don't be intimidated by the size of these big guys. Sure they’re taller and stronger, but that’s nothing to be afraid of. After all, they are FoBs, also known as Friends of Ben: how scary can they really be? Nothing I can’t handle, I assure you. The goal, gentle readers, as alway, is to be IN CONTROL without arousing undue suspicion.

Now then, the details. As the accompanying photograph illustrates, many important advantages can be gained WITHOUT THEM EVER KNOWING!!! For example, it was nothing at all for me to simply slide my small self into the chair at the Head of the table….psychological advantage for my queenly self? Score!!

First, FUEL:
It should go without saying that copious amounts of food are not only helpful, but—indeed—necessary when dealing with the male species of any age, but especially so between the ages of 10 and 50. These guys are all 19-21 so, take it from me, extra fuel is required. The good thing, though, is that they are surprisingly unpicky about what you place before them. I’ve seen them go through crackers and cheese, pizza, cookies, pizza, boxes of cereal, chips, pizza, and enough Mountain Dew to buoy a whale. Without ever coming up for air. It is astonishing, really.

And that’s not even getting into the Fast Food category.

Anyway, if you see them breaking out the Texas Hold Em set (one of Benny’s friends actually has his own aluminum brief case, with special little nooks and crannies for cards, chips, pads, pencils,….it’s kind of the bomb)…just be patient. Unless they are INCREDIBLY progressive, they will not let you play poker with them. We just have to give them time to evolve. But patience pays off.

What you’ll find is that after the strongest personality has lost enough money, he will insist that a new game be found, and now , gentle reader, your Moment of Opportunity has arrived.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of game possibilities, rated according to effectiveness:

BOGGLE, SCRABBLE, and other letter/word games – you probably won’t get them to go for these, because, being male, they probably are more left-brained, and aren’t really delighted by verbal challenges.

PARCHEESI, SORRY, etc. There is a tad of strategy here, but only a tad. And strategy is a flavor of thinking that Friends of Ben automatically equate with bravura and other so-called manly qualities. You might be able to get away with this one if it is the beginning of the gaming session, and you are just getting them primed. Alternatively, wait until the end of game time looms, and everyone is sloshing with Mountain Dew and lining up for the powder room (but don’t tell THEM it’s called that !)

DOMINOES – The thing to remember here is that, in general, FoB’s have a relatively short attention span (unless we’re talking NBA or NFL on the flickering screen) and so it’s unlikely that they will stay engaged long enough with the domino tiles for you to really enjoy a resounding victory. And even if you are getting ahead, they won’t let you get any real glory from it. They put it down to “luck” or some other random cause from which you cannot hope to gain any adulation or congratulation whatsoever.

APPLES-to-APPLES: This is the apex, girlfriends. If you get them around to this table game, you are in…as in, ‘easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.’ Apples to Apples is a game that’s been around for a while. We were introduced to it by one of my aunts (which means my dad is their little brother…so they WAY know how to manage brothers and friends!). The gist of it is to get people to think the way you do…is this genius or what??? There are decks of cards, some of which represent categories, and some of which could be examples of the given category…depending on how one’s mind works…um, assuming it does. Each person takes a turn as the ‘judge’ who decides which of the other player’s card choices best represents your category. Here are a few excerpts…

“The Word is ‘little’, as in small, not big.”
“Dude, how do you get ‘screen door’ for ‘little’?”
“It’s the closest thing I had.”
“That is SO lame…”
“What!!! Are you kidding me?
“I am amazing…I’m, dude, just amazing.”
“Is there any more pizza?”

Now, I grant you, that some patience is still required because everyone gets a turn at being the judge….but, I assure you, FoBx are no match for our feminine instincts and expertise.

And there is nothing to compare to the glorious thrill of hearing, “No, Cecily IS the judge now!”, and then, just a short time later, hearing yourself say:

“Thank you. I WIN. Let’s play one more!!”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Boy v. Girl Wrestling

Perhaps you saw a story that made the rounds about two weeks ago, about a male high school athlete who forfeited a title rather than wrestle a girl competitor. This has been spun all different ways, according to the perspective of the source(s) publishing it. But, since it snagged my attention enough to actually post a response myself, I'm including a bit of it here.

As excerpted from Focus on the Family President Jim Daly's blog:

"This is a story about three people: a 16-year-old boy named Joel Northrup, a 14-year-old girl named Cassy Herkleman and popular ESPN columnist, Rick Reilly.

For context, Joel and Cassy are high school wrestlers from Iowa; Rick is a talented and often humorous sportswriter, prone to zany antics. (He was so certain our Colorado Rockies wouldn’t make the playoffs in 2009 that he threatened to lick Denver’s Capitol dome if they did. They did – and he did.)

That said, this story is really more about the distinctives surrounding gender than it is about these three individuals – or wrestling itself.

Here are the facts:

Last week, Cassy Herkleman was scheduled to wrestle Joel Northrup in the first round of the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament. But as you may know by now, Joel refused the match, walked off the mat and forfeited the round and his chance at a state title.


'As a matter of conscience and my faith,' he wrote in a statement, 'I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner.'

Joel, who is home-schooled, is also a pastor’s son. His father, Jamie, was strikingly blunt when speaking with the Des Moines Register about his son’s decision:

'We believe in the elevation and respect of women, and we don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do. Body slamming and takedowns -- full contact sport is not how to do that.'

Rick Reilly [a professional sports writer]was not convinced. He wrote that Joel was “wrong” to refuse the match and that “If the Northrups really wanted to ‘respect’ women, they should've encouraged their son to face her.”
[End of Daly excerpt]

The link to the completle article is:

There were more than 1,200 responses to this blog post, and although I read many of them, I could not tell you the percentage of responders for or against the stand taken by this young male athlete. A couple of the more compelling responses included specific details about some of the wrestling holds, such as the "High C [crotch] hold", and the "Saturday Night Ride". I lack such indepth knowledge and have never been a fan of pugilism; however, this has never stopped me from having opinions, and the response I posted is as follows:

Kathleen says: The "right" thing to do is almost always the hardest of the available alternatives; which inevitably leads to the deeper issue of what constitutes "right"? As soon as right and wrong enter into the conversation, you've stepped onto moral ground whether you like it or not And this, in turn, begs the question: from what foundation, or by what plumb line is "right" v. "wrong" determined? This young man and his family do not hesitate to point out that their moral measuring stick is rooted in their Christian faith, a faith that I share.

My own opinion is that Mr. Northrup's decision to forfeit the match was the harder, more honorable, and more costly choice, and I applaud him and his family for it.

Those, who like Mr. Reilly, assert that not wrestling Miss Herkleman was not respecting her would do well to realize that Someone else's opinion comes into play here...and this is the ultimate divide. It is indeed the case, as Christ makes clear in Matthew 6:24, that 'No one can serve two masters.Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other." That's the reality; in this case, Mr. Northrup could be devoted to God or to the situation that would require him to deny his convictions...but he could not do both. He made the wiser choice by choosing to respect the Lord Who made him, and before Whom we each will give an account.

As for Miss Herkleman, while I can understand her disappointment, in my view, the situation exacts less of a toll on her than on Mr. Northrup. He not only lost the chance at a state title, and allowed it to default to Miss Herkleman, but he also has reaped (and I presume it was no surprise to him) controversy and ill will he never sought.

Aside from the issue of spiritual conviction there is the axiomatic truth that males and females, particularly after puberty, are fundamentally different---equal, but different. If you doubt this, aske yourself why women in combat are routinely raped by male enemy troops...and that this information usually is suppressed. Also consider the findings from studies, such as one conducted by the Israeli military a number of years ago, which found that male soldiers were more adversely affected by seeing their 'sisters in arms', or female troopmates, mistreated by enemy forces than when they themselves were harmed.

The bottom line is that males and females are distinct from each other, for profoundly wonderful reasons.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chocolate...A Dental Danger?

Who knew?

One of my earliest memories involves chocolate...and my thumb. As an inveterate thumbsucker, I vaguely can recall standing in the kitchen of our little house in Metairie, Louisiana when someone (very likely the deep-voiced neighbor lady from across the street) asked me what flavor my thumb was...a reasonable inquiry, I suppose, considering the percentage of daylight hours that little thumbkin spent in there.

"Chocolate!!," I replied (matter of factly). Obviously. Is there another flavor?

But that was a previous era, century, and lifetime ago. These days, even old reliable pleasures warrant a second look.

Take for example, the recent spate of dental trouble I've run into...and the common denominator of these woes, which springs from the heavenly cacao bean.

First was the unfortunate encounter with the dark chocolate Ritter Sport bar...apparently so named because one must be a good sport to survive the trauma/drama that ensues when one breaks a tooth on this perversely low-cocoa butter content confection.

Alas, gentle readers, I am still In Process with my Protracted Dental Implant Saga. But the nutshell version, for those who may need a recap, is that innocently biting into the Sport Bar last June precipitated a bone-crunching noise and excruciating pain. One brief dental x-ray later, the verdict was in: right-hand virgin canine tooth was broken completely off at and below the gumline. It was a goner. And I haven't been a Ritter customer since.

Fast-forward to this morning. In the course of innocently going about my morning ablutions, I reached into the square glass canister on my bathroom counter and retrieved a foil wrapped Viactiv Calcium Chew...chocolate, of course...why would I be tempted by any other flavor? Allow me to pause and note that this habit was begun at the behest of my doctor who, noting my age, recommended I consume one to two calcium supplement cubes a day to help prevent bone loss. I was only following directions.

Popping it into my mouth, I looked for a towel and stopped, mid-reach. Whoa!! There must be a signficant quality control problem at the Viactiv plant! I bit into a rock-hard chunk of something embedded in the chocolate chew...the impenetrability seemed a positive indication that this was not rodent residue, at least. Quickly retrieving the flattened supplement from my now-sore mouth, I heard something ping onto the bathroom floor.

What else could it be, but a portion of Tooth #30, located in the lower righthand quadrant of Molarville? Ah...and there, sparkling in the slim shaft of sunlight coming from the window was...a very sorry, very ancient piece of silver amalgam filling, still clinging desperately to a fragment of half-century old dental enamel. Hmmmm. Neither planned for in the schedule, nor in the budget. My tongue immediately discovered a cruel cavern gaping open from whence this had come.

So, at present, the score is Intact Dentition - 0, Culpable Chocolate - 2.

It should go without saying that a couple of inconvenient, if painful, incidents could in no way preclude my chocolate intake. I'm hard-wired for the stuff. But, this is getting expensive, not to mention a bit embarrassing (although my dentist doesn't seem to mind).

I spent from 4 pm to 6 pm this afternoon in a dental chair as poor #30 was doused, dried, drilled, and drilled some more in preparation for a costly crown. After three Lidocaine injections, I was too numb to rinse my own mouth out, but didn't realize it until pungent green liquid cascaded from the working side of my mouth, all over my bib and jeans. Sadly, I was not wearing bib jeans.

In two weeks, I return to have my new temporary crown replaced with a real porcelain-over-gold one...which should match exactly with the resin falsy I still flaunt on my flipper day...may actually be replaced by an implant.

Is there any redeeming aspect to this repeated gap (I mean, gaffe)? Well, one can always count on my unintentional ability to supply comic relief here at the Circle H Ranch...

I take a deep breath and press my cell phone to my ear, hoping that I reach my Trusty Partner before he arrives at the office.

Mr. H: "Hello?"

Mrs. Dental Dilemma: "Uh, hi, it's me."

Mr.: "I figured."

Mrs.: "Well, I think I'm going to be costing you a lot of money again."

Mr.: "Hmmmmm."

Mrs.: "Well, you know how I'm supposed to have one of those little Viactiv chews every morning for the calcium?"

Mr.: "How expensive are they?"

Mrs. "No, no, it's not that---"

And on I proceeded with my tale as my mouth throbbed on.

Being the practical sort, Mr. H. was not angry "it's not like you could help it, these things happen...", nor was he overtly suprised...these things happen.

NOR was he anywhere near the vicinity of his office, I later learned.

Miss Cee [frolicking into the bathroom]: "Mommy, Daddy thinks it's so funny that you talk to him on your cell phone when he's still in the kitchen!! You should do that again...he really liked it!!"