Introducing Lucha-mail!

Dear Suburban Luchador subscribers,

 

I’m currently experimenting with MailChimp to send out notifications of new stories, eBook updates, Lucha-swag, and all things Suburban Luchador.  Please forgive me if you get an email more than twice…it’s hard to figure all this stuff out while wearing a mask.

If all works out, you should be getting the first edition of Lucha-mail by tomorrow (Tuesday) which includes the bonus story David and Goliath and Sparta.   Let me know if you don’t get it or if you have suggestions.

Thanks again for entering my ring of writing!

 

A message to my Suburban Luchador subscribers

Greetings faithful Suburban Luchador subscribers!

If you’re receiving this, it’s because you signed up to receive an email update whenever I post a new story. I want you to know how much I appreciate your readership and wanted to send you a message to invite you to join Team Mucha Lucha.

Soon I plan on launching the Suburban Luchador e-book on Kindle, Nook, and several other e-book platforms.  Depending on how well this goes, I’ll publish other books as well.  This is where I need your help.

I’d like to send you stories to preview/edit/body slam before I add them to future books. I can’t guarantee you fame and glory, but you will be immortalized as an editor in any e-book you help me with. If you’re interested in being a part of this elite team, please fill out this form below.

Thank you!

The Intruder

For centuries, men have pushed the boundaries of exploration and discovery.  But no such discovery exists like that of a man entering his wife’s well-established, clockwork-run, mommy world.

Now that summer is in full swing and I’ve hung up my teacher cape until August, I find myself navigating my wife’s SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) waters every now and then.  For her, the only difference summer brings is the addition of another full-time cruise activity director running the eternal cruise ship, the S.S Sahm.  For the most part, I join this already sailing ship with ease…but there are the occasional port stops that are foreign and foreboding.  This was one such stop.

Every Monday at the Southshore Library is Toddler StoryTime.  SAHM’s run to this oasis like a fish flapping to a puddle.  It offers a break from the heat and 30 minutes of free child entertainment.  Always up for a new adventure, I joined the family during this well-established routine.  Yarei and the kids went in first as I returned my “Kung Fu at Home” video.  However, going in “unaccompanied” was a mistake.  Inside the classroom were about 30 members of the SAHM Tribe and their offspring doing what appeared to be a conga line around the perimeter of the room.  It reminded me of a tribal dance the Lost Boys would have done with their moms… if they had any.   A large screen featured ‘Nick the Music Man’ and his dancing fairy companion singing some sort of train song.  I quickly noticed all eyes on me – the only man entering, and interrupting, the room after Choo Choo line started.  One does not simply interrupt “Choo Choo line,” I learned.

I quickly and apologetically found a seat outside the inner circle where moms nestled and contained their little minions during story time.  I sat behind a mom, her toddler and her stroller, trying to blend in like a peacock in a hen house.  The mom looked over her shoulder at me suspiciously, then pretended to grab something from her stroller and pulled it in closer.  I tried to communicate with my eyes, “I’m not unaccompanied!  My SAHM is right there!”  But it didn’t matter…I was an outsider and would be treated as such.  It probably didn’t help that I was wearing my Stranger Things fan shirt and luchador mask.  My son told me the day’s theme was Lucha Libre Lunes. He’ll pay for that later.

I shook off the shivers and desperately tried to make eye contact with my little tribe, hoping for some type of tribal pass to appease the natives.  Unfortunately, they were too engrossed in a rousing rhyme of ‘Row Row Row Your Boat.’

Aren’t they wondering where I am?  Don’t they see the distress flares?

Finally, the rowboats threw in their anchors, and I started to move toward my tribe, apologizing as I squeezed past Vigilante-Mom.  She eyed me up and down and pulled her daughter in closer.

This must be how Spider-Man feels when the media portrays him as a menace. 

But just as I broke past the outer ring, the Chief Librarian, Princess Lottabook, shouted, “Let us now begin the Minion Dance!!”

Blood-curdling war cries erupted from both children and mothers alike.  The music started pumping.  Arms and bodies began flailing everywhere like those inflatable air dancers you see on the side of the road.  I dodged, ducked and jumped over swinging appendages and baby carriers.  It was like a nightclub rave…at 10am…for moms and toddlers…in a library.  During that moment, my intrusive presence became invisible as moms flashed back to their non-children days.  Only the occasional spit up from body-worn babies overcome by mom’s gyrations stopped the manic mothers.   I crawled through like a commando under barbed wire and reached my people in the inner circle just as the song ended.

The high now faded, my cloaking device deactivated and I was fully exposed in the inner circle.  It was ok, though, because I belonged to my own SAHM subgroup.  Princess Lottabook gave me an approving nod, but others from the tribal council still looked at me warily.

Did he just witness the Minion Dance? This was supposed to be a safe group!  

I wanted to say that their secret was safe with me.  That I wouldn’t tell anyone about this place and they could even blindfold me on the way out.  It wouldn’t matter…

Just then Princess Lottabook addressed the council one last time.

“Friends, our time together has come to a close.  As is our timeless tradition, passed down from generation to generation, we will gather up our tribal toys and say goodbye as we sing the song of our ancestors…Let it Go!”

Mothers gathered toddlers and inserted babies into body pouches as they picked up crayons and scissors.  In complete synchronicity, they sang the song, swaying back and forth between craft stations.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see,

Be the good girl you always have to be!

The SAHMs twirled with outstretched arms, flinging imaginary ice blasts from their fingers.  Suddenly, a mom threw me a frigid look, as if to say, “What you have seen here was not meant for you.  Be warned.”  I gathered up a glue stick, swooshed my imaginary cape at her and countered back:

“The cold never bothered me anyway!”

See you next week, ladies.

#Winning

Everybody thinks their example of #winning defines this hashtag category.  You nail the cheesecake recipe… #winning.  Two patties in your single patty burger…#winning.  The toddler ate the brussel sprouts disguised as marshmallows…#winning.  The dog peed in the cat litter…#winning.

FALSE.

These deserve a participation trophy, at most. What defines #Winning, you ask?

When your wife fishtails the minivan in front of Redbox, slams on the breaks furious-style, ejects out of the already open door and dives toward the box, DVD in her outstretched hand.  As the clock strikes 9:00, the DVD slides into the return slot with a loud “CHA-CHING” as she does a tuck roll and gymnast finish to top it off.  All of this while 9 months pregnant.

That, my friends, is #winning.

#yes

The Prom Predicament

As the school year ends, seniors reminisce about their long, hard journey of life and how much the world has changed since 2013 when “all the kids were twerkin’ and Harlem shakin’, ” my graduating student recalled nostalgically.  He was working on an English essay, but most of his time was spent denouncing the rising cost of gas and prom tickets.

“Hey Mister…can you believe prom tickets are $60 each!  That’s a $120 event!!” He waved his hands in the air, frustrated at this grave injustice.

I looked up from my papers sympathetically, resting my head in my interwoven fingers as I leaned back in my chair.  It creaked the sound of teacher wisdom.  “Have you ever heard of the term ‘First World Problems’?”

“Yes, yes…” he acknowledged the pettiness of his problem, but this awareness was short-lived.

“And the food, mister!! That’s like another $80!! You gotta be rich to go to prom.”

I rubbed my chin as I contemplated how to bring some real-world enlightenment to this young chap.  I was about to wax eloquent about the unbalanced distribution of wealth and the still-evident consequences of colonialism throughout the world, but I was interrupted.

“I’ve got it!” His index finger shot up, pointing at an imaginary light bulb glowing over his head.

“Burger King!”  He paused and processed his revelation.  “It’s close to the prom venue…and it was recently renovated.  Genius!!”

“I don’t know if Burger King reflects the usual prom motif,” I replied, conceding to his more narrow look on life.  “If you’re going to spend that much money on tickets, you may want to bump up your dinner option a level or two.”

He paused and ran his hand through his shaggy black hair.  I could see the wheels turning and a brilliant idea was percolating in his brain.

“Good point.  How about…” wait for it…”Denny’s!!”

“Denny’s?”

“Yeah…that’s up several notches!”  A look of pride beamed from his face.

“You know what?” I replied,  “you’re right!  When I think ‘chic’, I think Denny’s. ”

“I know, right?!”

I could imagine his entourage walking into Denny’s with their bright blue and orange tuxedos, top hats, matching canes and monocles.  As he passes the hostess, he stuffs a dollar bill into her hand and whispers, “Get us the party booth and there’s another one of these in it for you.”

Not wanting him to go into Denny’s without making the night fully memorable, I offered a – ‘grand-slam’ – of wisdom.

“If you want to boost the swank factor, make sure you order the Moons Over My Hammy special,”  I suggested.

“The what? Is that going to get me in trouble?”

“Trouble…no?  Tweetable?  Yes. Trust me…and stay classy, class of 2017.”

 

 

Lessons from the Jacuzzi

It was 40 degrees in the Blue Ridge mountains, so a dip in the porch jacuzzi seemed like a good shock to our spring break cabin adventure. My in-laws established this annual tradition which I’ve come to love.  Partly because of the change of scenery from the Florida flatlands, but also because I get loads of alone time to explore my inner Daniel Boone.

Earlier that day my wife and kids were being entertained by “Bio and Bia”. I noticed this golden opportunity and casually mumbled, “I’m going to look into a thing I saw downstairs.  Nothing interesting.  Carry on.” I slipped silently down the stairs to the basement without arousing suspicion.   Alone at last with my book, the frigid mountain air, and a jacuzzi.  Life didn’t get much better than this.

I stripped down to my shorts, brazenly shook my fist at the icy 40-degree breeze, and jumped into the steamy, bubbling jacuzzi.  In the distance, a lone wolf howled in solidarity and a chipmunk scampered up the jacuzzi and gave me a high five.  I pulled out A Beginner’s Guide to Rugged Mountain Life and soaked in this rare oasis of solitude.  The combination of crisp mountain air and hot, fizzy water was both invigorating and relaxing. On this lonely mountain top, Eden was a wrap around porch and the tree of life was a jacuzzi.

Suddenly, my effervescent meditation was abruptly popped when my four-year-old burst through the door yelling, “I FOUND YOU!!” and immediately slammed the door shut.  I screeched like a wounded animal and my Beginner’s Guide fumbled from one hand to the other, barely escaping a hot, watery grave. “PAPI!! IT’S C-COOOLD!” he yelled through the window. Confusion and fascination were written across his face as he saw this magical, boiling mini-pool on the edge of a forest.

At that point, I had a choice.  I could dismiss him back to the rest of the tribe and continue with my effervescent Eden experience, or I could embrace the interruption and invite him to join in.  I wish I could say I always embrace the interruption, but alas… I’ve chosen the TV or the phone over the child many times.   This time, however…I made a lasting choice.

“Wanna come in?” I asked.  His eyes widened as he reconciled taking his clothes off in freezing weather, then jumping in water.  “SI!!!!!” It didn’t take him long.  Donning his spiderman tighty-whities, he cautiously stepped into the jacuzzi, beaming with excitement.  “Papi! It’s cold up here…but it’s hot down here!” he pointed out.

We dove underwater and explored the aquatic caverns of the Mariana Trench.  Hot lava jet streams threatened our deep sea diver suits and spewed bubbles around us.  Strange formations that resembled steps rose for miles to the surface.  A giant oarfish swam gracefully between us.   Suddenly, from the distant beyond, we heard a mermaid call, distorted by the lava jets and millions of gallons of water above us. We regulated our suits and rose to the surface and found my wife,  wearing a jacket instead of a sea-shell bra, informing us that dinner was ready. Our adventure ended, but a special memory had been created.

I don’t know what it’s like to have children grow up and become more independent…but I’ve seen Toy Story 3, so I know how this will eventually play out.  For that reason, my prayer is that I will see these “interruptions” as unique opportunities to win the heart of my children. One day, there will be other contestants in the battle for their heart.  Some will be good, some will be bad.  My role is to guard their heart while they’re under my care, so when they depart, they will understand who they are and whose they are.

Parenting isn’t always a jacuzzi adventure,  but it is a series of decisions that form the building blocks of our children.  I have built up the blocks, only to topple them later on.  I’ve taken relational moments and squandered them on fruitless activities.  This is where God’s grace steps in and allows our parenting victories to eclipse the failures… when relaxing jacuzzi escapes become wondrous, memorable explorations of Atlantis.

 

 

Kodak Black

The 5th-period lunch bell rang and the usual parade of hard working, yet sociable, students filed into my rooom.  Short and spunky Chanchita led the charge, carrying a tray of tater tots, meatloaf and other strange sources of student nutrition.

“Hey Mister… can I borrow $1 for the vending machine?” she asked, looking suspiciously at her high tea on a tray.

An understandable request considering the day’s free range, non GMO food selection.

“Sorry… I only carry Benjamins… you know, hundred dollar bills.”

Unphased, she countered back.  “Oh…like Kodak?”

“The camera?”

“What?”

“It’s a camera brand…back from the days when people printed pictures and put them in albums.”

“No, mister.  Kodak’s not a camera.  He’s a rapper.”

“Wait, wait…is he related to ‘The Weeknd‘?

“No, he’s another guy.”

“Do they ever rap battle… you know, The Camera vs. MC Saturdy/Sundy?” I asked while sharpening a pencil.

Chanchita rolled her eyes and smacked her gum. She pulled out her homework and placed it in front of her.

“You know, he was recently arrested. Had to cancel some upcoming concerts.” She informed me as she looked over her Chemistry notes.

“For what? Using Getty Image photos without permission?” I blew the excess shavings off the pencil and admired my work.

“No.” she ran her finger across the periodic table of elements.  “He violated house arrest.”

“Ahh… broke the ‘no selfie’ regulation,” I countered.

“Umm…no mister.”  She continued scanning Helium and Barium, so I decided to introduce her to Sarcasium.

“If his name were Polaroid, he could have claimed to be the original Instagram.” I placed another artistically sharpened pencil in the pencil cup.

She sighed at my overexposed sense of humor and made another attempt at bringing me into focus.

“Here mister.”  She showed me a picture on her phone.  “Here’s a picture of him.”

“What happened to his teeth?!” I gasped, unable to hide the reaction.

“Mister!” She shot back, offended at my irreverence.  “He’s one of the first rappers to have all his teeth covered in gold.  He’s got a lot of money.”

“Really?”  I paused as I looked at the picture then rubbed my mouth in pain.  “It looks like he got smacked in the mouth with a gold shovel.”

And that, class… would have been the element of surprise.

Suburban Luchador Caption Contest – Pilot Episode!

The winner of the first Caption Contest was a nail-biting tie!  With four massive votes each, Carlos and Monica climbed the ropes and swan dove over the rest of the competition.  Their winning captions are both featured here.  Congratulations for adding another award to your resume and another skill to your LinkedIn profile!

Stay tuned for more caption contests coming soon!