Today Wifey was going to go have her hair cut for the first time in two years. No, she's not a cultist; she lets her hair grow out long enough so she can cut it and donate it to Locks of Love, who use the hair to make wigs for children with cancer. She's been doing this for years.
It's a way to help reimburse society for all the horror that I inflict upon it. She's a saint, that woman.
Also going with Wifey was the girl, who intended to have her hair cut as well, although she hadn't decided if she wanted a trim or to cut it short. She also has long hair, but so far in life has resisted every effort to have it cut.
And of course Sis-in-Law was going as well, as it was her salon they would be visiting.
The boy and I were going to go "do something" with her boyfriend, Luggage.
As we busied ourselves to get ready, I questioned her one final time. "Are you sure you want to get your hair cut?" I asked. This is code for "I like your hair long and don't think you should cut it."
"Yeah," she said. "I like it short. It's much cooler in the summer."
"Okay," I said. "But I'm not sure that Locks of Love can use it, since there's so much gray in it. You might want to tuck in a twenty to cover the cost of dying it."
Note to self: this is neither safe nor conducive to intimacy.
For lunch, we jetted over to Ruby Tuesday's, because this was located adjacent to the hair salon. Plus, I love Ruby Tuesday's, even though they've changed the menu too much from their heyday and they're becoming metrosexual squishy, which I hate.
If I wanted an Applebee's clone, I'd eat there. And yet I don't. Differentiation, please!
All was proceeding nicely until the food came. A young woman about 20 or 21 years old, who was not our server, dropped off the food. I was sitting on the end, with the children next to me. Across from me were Wifey, Sis-in-Law, and Luggage.
After putting down the plate the waitress, for no apparent reason, grabbed her breasts and proceeded to grope herself in slow motion right at the end of the table, stretching up on her tiptoes and letting out a long sigh.
I was waiting for the 70's-era "bwount-chicka-chick-bwooon" music to start and gaping.
Then she turned and left with big greasy handprints on her shirt over her boobs. I looked incredulously at the others.
"Did you guys see that?" I asked. "Oh my God!"
"See what?" Wifey asked.
"I didn't see anything," said Luggage.
"Where?" asked Sis-in-Law.
"Who?" asked the girl.
"Can I have some of your drink?" asked the boy.
Now really, what could I say? Try to explain that I'd seen Pornowaitress on the prowl? I'd sound like a raving lunatic. And it's not like I could explain it in front of the children anyways.
"I guess it was my imagination," I said.
Then I resolved to tell no one what I had seen, lest I be accused of imaging perverted stuff. Of course, they all three read the blog, so I suppose now they know what I was talking about.
After lunch, we dropped the girls off at the salon and headed over to a place Luggage knew about, a toystore who's name I forget. It was awesome, with a huge train set and every kind of toy known to man.
Inside, as we wandered throughout every aisle, I stumbled across something that I thought had been lost to the ages: one of those windup kangaroos that flips itself over.
I immediately seized it, because Wifey had one of those things thirteen years ago and loved it. She used to show it to everybody who came into the office. Then it was broken in a moving accident when some idiot packed it in a box with a bowling pin with a sumo wrestler on it and it got smashed to pieces.
You can guess who that was.
So I took the kangaroo and a similar windup toy (a car that flips itself over, one of my favorites from childhood) and purchased them for the whopping price of 6.35. Best toy store ever, I tell you.
If you're ever in Huntsville, it's about five minutes away from the Ruby Tuesday's located near a hair salon, and it has a train set inside. Be sure to stop by.
Then it was back to the salon to pick up the girls. "Now remember," I told the boy. "Tell them they look nice and beautiful, no matter what, even if they look like a platypus farted on their heads."
He laughed. Five-year-olds are an easy mark.
Waiting outside were Sis-in-Law, who had not had anything done, the girl, who looked exactly the same, and Wifey circa 2002. I swear, cutting her hair made her look about five years younger.
"Wow!" I said. "You guys look great! You're beautiful!"
"Man, what a job!" said Luggage. "Awesome!"
"You look beautiful," the boy said to his sister. "Mommy?"
"Yes, hon?" she asked.
"I think you look wonderful!"
"Thank you, honey!" she said.
"Why did daddy say a platypus pee'd on you when we pulled into the parking lot?"
"I bought you something!" I held up the bag between Wifey and me in hopes of defusing what could become ugly quickly.
"Here's a kangaroo just like the one you loved that got smashed in that inexplicable accident!" I said. "Isn't it great?"
She looked at it, then at me. "So?"
"So, uh, you love it, right?"
"Wasn't that your kangaroo?"
Hmm. You know, upon further reflection, she may be right about that. So it doesn't look like the kangaroo alone is going to make up for a string of gaffes on my part, since it pretty much ends up being for me.
"What else did you get?" she asked.
"Who wants to go to the space museum?" I asked.
"WE DO!" the kids yelled.
So off we headed, to the NASA space and rocket center in Huntsville. True fact: if you go to the center, and you have more than 5 people, just buy a membership. That's what I did, only I put it in Sis-in-law's name, because she might use it again.
I'm a four-star brother in law, aren't I?
Inside the center, you can see the Saturn V rocket that went to the moon (aka the flying phallus), the space shuttle (aka the winged phallus), and the rocket garden (aka the phallic flowers). Oh, and you can see a model of Skylab (aka the flaming vagina that almost destroyed Australia).
I may be misremembering the nicknames for those things, though.
Seriously, it is awfully cool. And you will learn some neat facts, and they have the actual lunar rover that was used when they faked the moon landings! Plus, a terrifically lame ride simulating a Martian Roller Coaster (I wish I was making the last part up).
The most interesting thing was discovering that Luggage is a rocket nerd. He sported a woody and a pocket protector the whole time we were in there, and was spitting out space facts like you wouldn't believe. Personally, I was shocked, because I thought his IQ was only slightly higher than Forrest Gump. Of course, Gump did know a lot about shrimp…
(I'm kidding. Well, about the IQ part. He did turn into a rocket nerd, which I was not expecting.)
At one point Luggage and I went into the G-Force simulator with the girl, while Sis-in-law, Wifey, and the boy stayed outside.
"Are you sure you don't want to come?" I said. "It might trigger your G-spot."
"Well no one else has for the past fifteen years."
In retrospect, I guess I walked into that one.
Inside they spun us around really fast, until the girl started yelling about how she was going to die. At one point the slabs you're laying on lift up about six inches, which we were ready for. What we were not ready for was when the machine slows down and the slabs fall back to the ground.
Unless you only weigh 50 pounds, in which case they don't drop down quite as fast. "Daddy!" yelled the girl, alarmed. "I'm not falling!"
"That's because they open the top and shoot out little girls," I said.
"WAAAAAH!" she began to cry at 2 G.
Not my proudest moment as a father.
After that we were pretty much ready to go. We cooled off back at Sis-in-law's, walked the dogs, and dithered about where to eat.
Being a decisive alpha male, I made the decision. Indecisiveness is, after all, for the weak. "Honey, where do you want to go?" I said to Wifey. "We'll go where you say."
"Red Robin," she said.
Being a good husband, father, and brother-in-law, I dropped them off and parked the van eight nautical miles away. When I finally arrived, I found my family sitting awkwardly on the porch watching a little girl turn red and scream at the top of her lungs, totally inconsolable.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"Her brother got a balloon, and-"
"SAY NO MORE! I can solve this problem!" I leapt into action, eager to show that I am also a top-notch stranger.
If you've ever been to Red Robin, you know that the entryway is festooned with six million balloons so that kids can take one. I sprinted inside, grabbed one of every color, and came charging back out like a firefighter trying to rescue a flaming baby cat.
"Here, little girl, it's a rainbow of balloons!" I thrust the balloons into her face and awaited the inevitable chorus of thank-yous from the girl, her mother, and society in general. Who knows? I might make Parade Magazine for this, or even Reader's Digest American Heroes section.
"GET THOSE AWAY FROM ME!" yelled the girl.
"What are you trying to do, you idiot?" yelled the mother. "She's balloonopobic and allergic to latex!"
At that the girl started to cough and her pupils dilate. "Help! Police! Maniac!" somebody yelled.
Thankfully, the pager sounded at just that very moment. "Force, party of six, Richard Force, party of six."
"Gotta go!" I let go of the balloons and sent them heavenward.
"Daddy!" cried the girl. "You lost our balloons!"
"I wanted that one!" the boy sobbed. "But now it's gone!"
"Um, uh," I looked at the growing angry crowd on the porch. "I had to send them to heaven so that your dead relatives could play with them," I said.
For some reason, this made the children cry even more.
"Nice going, dipshit," Wifey said as she breezed by me.
Inside, we were treated to Red Robin's specialty, a menu so complicated you need to be a rocket scientist to decipher it and figure out what you want. Thankfully, Luggage was up to the task and took care of it.
When we'd finished, Sis-in-law pointed out one of our neighbors, a very large man with a tattoo on his arm that said "Big Log." It looked like it'd been either put on in a basement or a prison.
"What do you think it means?" she asked.
"He's a baseball fan," said Wifey. "It means he plays baseball."
"He likes to go camping and sit on a big log," said the girl.
"I miss my balloon," said the boy. "I love that balloon."
I exchanged glances with Luggage, then leaned in close to the women. "I think it means he has extra-large equipment."
"No," said Sis-in-law.
"Why don't you ask him?" said Wifey with a twinkle in her eye.
"No way in hell," I said. "What if he got that in prison and the girl's right that he likes to make people sit on his big log?"
"Yeah," said Luggage, who is a cop. "In prison you'd definitely be somebody's bitch."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence."
With that we got up and left, with me giving strict instructions to the children not to touch or bother Big Log Man in any way, shape, or form. Better safe than sorry, I say.
After we'd tucked the kids into bed, we played a rousing game of Battle of the Sexes. If you've never played, don't. It's an awful game and Luggage and I got our asses handed to us.
Only, it turns out that if you're amazingly lucky you can win despite any skill. So Luggage and I won on luck alone, despite the fact that everyone present knew that we'd been outplayed the entire game.
Then it was off to bed.
So to recap: I'd called Wifey old, bought a gift for myself, taught the boy to insult her haircut, terrorized a stranger in front of Red Robin, and then won at a game despite my own incompetence.
Yes, I did end up sleeping on the couch. How did you ever guess?
Tomorrow: More suitcases?