Does Your Wedding Band Have An Inscription?

pexels-photo-230289.jpegThis was supposed to be easy.

I emailed several male family members and friends, the ones who are (still!) married, and asked them a simple question: “What’s inscribed inside your wedding bands?”

My goal was to compile all the romantic and fun inscriptions they sent into a new More Stuff blog. I did this years ago, and the inscriptions poured in from readers: Gee Alice I’m Glad I Love You; Forever my bunny eyes; Marry me, I’ll Smile Forever; Taffeta Sweetheart; You are my fantasy.

Not so much this time.

Bob: “Why would you think we would be able to get our rings off our fingers after all these years to check?”

That Bob, he’s so darn funny. Eventually he dislodged his ring from his finger, checked and … “No inscription.”

Jeff: “No inscription. Julie and I were so poor back then that an inscription would have read: ‘Eat more Cracker Jacks, find more prizes.’”

Howard: “My father never wore his wedding band (after the day he was married). So, I thought it would be rather cool if I wore a ring that had my parents initials and wedding date along with ours.”

OK, now we’re getting somewhere.pexels-photo-230290.jpeg

Howard: “Someday, I hope to sell the ring to David (his son) so he can do the same.”

I think he was joking about “selling” the ring to David. Then again, you never know with Howard.

Kurt: “Mine is pretty boring. Our anniversary date is inscribed on the inside of the ring.”

Sorry Kurt (and thousands more), your wedding date isn’t a real inscription. It’s a yearly reminder. And now that Facebook reminds us about important stuff like this, I bet fewer and fewer couples get the date inscribed inside their bands.

Dick: He and Annette went with: AMH to RSB With Love 7-31-1982, and RSB to AMH XOXOX  7-31-1982. “Annette wanted the XOs,” Dick wrote. “That’s Annette!”

This is a little better than just the date.

Bob, the one from up above, with the pudgy fingers, suggested I check with his son, Josh. He’s is a romantic kind of guy.

Josh: “Sorry, no inscription.”

Great, two generations of un-romantic relatives, a Baby Boomer and a Millennial.

I was about to give up hope. And then I heard from Andy.

Andy: “The story comes from the night I met Victoria: August 19, 2000.”

They met at a cast party after a production of the Actor’s Gang Theater. Victoria was in the play, so already we’re off to a romantic start.

They were introduced, started chatting and…

pexels-photo.jpgAndy: “After about a minute, tops, she asked me: ‘Are you a Sagittarius?’ I was … (and) as it so happened, I had just gotten my first cell phone, an Ericsson. It had a very primitive web feature that included an astrological chart. You could put in your birth date and it would spit out the details of your birth chart. I pulled out the phone and handed it to her, explaining that it had my astrological chart in it (to show her I was down with astrology). She read some of it, spoke in tongues I didn’t understand about rising signs, moons, houses, and aspects, and then pronounced: ‘We’re soulmates!’”

They really were, and “Soulmates” is inscribed on their wedding bands.

OK, you’re probably wondering what’s inscribed inside Susan’s wedding band and inside mine. If it’s not pretty darn romantic, that would make me one heck of an unromantic hypocrite.

The pressure is on, so here goes…

For some reason, I was in charge of wedding bands. I think it was the man’s job back then (1993). Plus, Dad knew a jeweler and said he could get me a deal. I went with: “The Adventure Begins.” And the date.

Falling in love and getting married really are quite the adventure, and when you combine the two with the right person, well then, pow! Plus, two days after our nuptials (that’s a funny word, isn’t it?), we flew to Paris to begin our two-month, bike-ride-across-France honeymoon. Quite an adventure … and test of a fledging marriage. Our nuptials survived! Despite the three-day fight that started in Bayeux.

So, come on, I know I’m not the only romantic man (or woman) out there. What’s inscribed inside your wedding band? The world needs more romantics. And inscriptions.

The Great Pancake Debate: Pourers versus Cutters

IMG_6577“I only eat the middle of my pancakes, that’s the best part.”

I heard this stunning statement recently while eating breakfast (pancakes of course) at a local diner. The guy said it to the waitress, who was clearing his plate and giving his stack of pancakes, which really did have large holes in the middle, a strange look.

So: yet another way to eat pancakes, one I’ve never heard before. And, I’m an expert on the art of eating pancakes. I have a Doctorate of Humane Letters from IHOP.

Here’s what I’ve learned after many years of carb- and syrup-filled, pancake-eating research:

There are two basic types of pancakes eaters: pourers and cutters.

Pourers are the people who: Pour the syrup on their stack of pancakes and then cut and eat a series of pieces of pancake. When they need more syrup, they pour it on the remaining pancakes. This is the way pancakes are meant to be eaten.

Cutters are the people who: Initially cut their stack of pancakes into bite size pieces and try to make every piece exactly the same size. And then they pour on the syrup. They claim they get a better and more even syrup distribution this way.

I first wrote about the Pourers v. Cutters debate years ago, after discovering it at a pancake breakfast at a local fire station.

And then heard from a stack of people who told me all about their unique, odd and fascinating ways to eat pancakes.pexels-photo-364107.jpeg

James: “I pour the syrup on the side of the plate, away from the pancakes, so they don’t get soggy. Then I cut ‘em up and put just the right amount of syrup on every bite.”

Vance: He puts peanut butter – but only Jif – on top of each pancake, including the pancake on the top of the stack. Then he pours on the syrup. “The mixture of pancakes, syrup and peanut butter is the world’s most perfect combination.”

“Why only Jif?” I asked.

“Because Jif is the creamiest peanut butter, the other kinds will rip off the top of the pancakes.”

Harry: He eats his with fruit spread and no syrup. He prefers raspberry, but apricot will do in a pinch. “That makes it more like a crepe.”

Alan: “The only way to eat pancakes is to pour on the syrup and then put the plate in the microwave. This heats up the syrup. And they have to be chocolate chip pancakes.”

pexels-photo-357573.jpegKathy: Only uses butter because this way they’re “unadulterated by the sickenly sweet slop of syrup.”

The “sickenly sweet slop of syrup.” Now that’s a blog title right there. Even though sickenly isn’t actually a word.

How do you eat your pancakes? Let me know; this is important stuff.

 

 

 

 

The Unmasking Brain Injury Mask Project

Do you know someone living with a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

If you know me (even if it’s only through this blog or on Facebook), you do.

And now, I know several more people living with a TBI. I recently joined a local TBI support group, and have met several others dealing with this serious and mysterious injury/condition. Turns out there’s lot of us.

Every year, about 1.7 million Americans suffer a TBI, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 52,000 die.

Wow. Those are big numbers. Too big. I had no idea.

mask3At our most recent TBI meeting, we made masks as part of a national TBI project, which I’ll get to soon. But first…

What I’ve learned from the other members of my TBI group is the level of impairment and the obstacles we face on a daily basis range from the minimal to the extreme. It’s heartbreaking, and yet inspiring to learn about the other members of the group and see how they courageously live their lives, one day at a time, making the best of it. We’re an optimistic group for the most part, and are grateful to be alive. I know I am.

Some of the long-term effects of a TBI are: seizures, cognitive deficits, depression, anxiety, aggression, progressive dementia and an increased risk of suicide. So, while a TBI is a physical injury, many of the symptoms are mental issues – and can be permanent.

And, get this, it’s possible (but incredibly rare) to get a TBI during a storm, if you’re on the phone (a land line) and a bolt of lightning travels through the telephones lines, into your phone and then leaps into your brain. Scary? Yep.

I’m lucky I didn’t seem to suffer any cognitive damage and am pretty much the exact same person I was before Nov. 3, 2013. You’d never know I have a TBI (I think; I hope). I do have more aches and pains from head to toe, and am more anxious, a little more prone to stress and my brain gets tired a lot faster than it did back in my pre-TBI days. But I know the triggers and have learned how to avoid them … and how to (mostly) escape all the bright lights and noise around me, and to relax, breathe and rest when I start getting a little anxious or tired.

I’ve also discovered the world – especially restaurants – is a really loud place. And there’s a cascade effect in restaurants triggered by loud music, or one really loud/annoying table. I think I’ll write a future post about The Cascade Effect (sounds like a great movie title, doesn’t it?).

mask1OK, here’s the part about making our masks. And yes, it was fun, like being in elementary school art class again.

Our masks are part of Unmasking Brain Injury, a national program designed to “promote awareness of the prevalence of brain injury; to give survivors a voice and the means to educate others of what it’s like to live with a brain injury.”

Creating a mask is a way to express your TBI-related emotions.

What should I put on my mask? What emotions should I express? What TBI-related emotions do I have? Several, but they’re hard to express. And I’m no Van Gogh.

What color represents anxiety? Red?

What color is stress? A darker, angrier red?

I’m pretty sure depression is gray. No wait, feeling blue means you’re sad, right?

Should I mark all the scars on my forehead and scalp on my mask? Nah, too gruesome. Should half my mask be sad and the other half happy? Nah, too cliché.

In the end, I went with a bicycle theme. I know: “Come on Steve, a bike theme, that’s so predictable.”

Here’s why, and what I wrote on the paper that goes with your mask:

Was hit by a drunk driver while on a bike ride. It happened at about 11AM on a Sunday morning. I woke up on Wednesday afternoon. It took a long time to get back on my feet, back to work and back on my bike. But I did. I have yet to ride by the spot where the incident happened. Maybe one day. Maybe not.

To jazz it up, I added some yellow and then some glitter to my mask. I don’t know what emotion the glitter represents. Sunshine? Optimism? Mustard?

PS: Our masks will soon be on display at Riverside Methodist Hospital, and some could be on the Unmasking Brain Injury website and/or Facebook page. Check it out.

PS (part 2): This blog is my on-going TBI recovery project. You know, Unmasking Steve. I think it’s helping.

My Top 10 Movies (What’s on your list?)

The Oscar nominations got me thinking … about movies.

I think they do it on purpose.

Inspired, I decided to compile my Top 10 movie list.

But first, a few thoughts on compiling such a list. It’s not an exact science. It’s more a feel. And it’s very personal. And evolves over time as you evolve over time.

OK, enough stalling, here’s my list…

rocky21.Rocky (1976): I’m from Philly, so it’s a law that Rocky is on my list. Never had a pet turtle, but could still totally relate to Rocky. Everyone wants to be someone … and find true love. Plus, Rocky introduced “Yo!” to the world and made it cool to be from Philly. And yes, I’ve run up the steps of the art museum.

2.Diner (1982): A coming-of-age movie for immature men (but who have potential in life – and in their acting careers). There was football and football trivia, lots of male bonding – and eating – at the diner, and the famous popcorn scene at the movie theater. And a main character named Boogie. See, I told you Diner was for immature men. Plus, everyone has to have one Kevin Bacon movie on their list. I have two.

animal3.Animal House (1978): I was in college when it came out, in a fraternity and went to see Animal House in the theater with about 30 of my frat brothers. Every frat has a Bluto (ours was Frank – and oh, the stories!) and I could totally relate to the getting paddled scene, the toga party and road trip. And, yep, Kevin Bacon was in it.

4.Paths of Glory (1957): The greatest anti-war war movie of all time. The complete absurdity, inhumanity and devastation of war is so totally and heartbreakingly real in this movie. This is probably the most obscure movie on my list, so if you haven’t Paths of Glory … watch it ASAP.

5.Groundhog Day (1993): This is one of those movies that, if it’s on TV, you just have to watch it. To the end. No matter how many times you’ve seen it. So many great scenes and Bill Murray at his Bill Murry-ist. And, who wouldn’t fall in love with Andie MacDowell?

6.Wizard of Oz (1939): A blast from my childhood. Back then, it was on TV once a year and was a very big deal in our house. The first few years, we didn’t have a color TV and went to a neighbor’s house to watch. We had the vinyl record (no DVDs back then), played it all the time and knew the words to all the songs. And knew that as soon as the Cowardly Lion ran down the long hall and jumped through the window … cut to commercial.

2 Sid_cliff_17.Saving Private Ryan (1998): This one’s on my list because I have a personal connection to the movie. When it came out, I was a reporter in the Philadelphia area and found, interviewed and got to be friends with Sid Solomon. Sid was there on D-Day, in the same 2nd Ranger Battalion and Company (C Company) as the Tom Hanks character. And the next year, 1999, I went with Sid and the Rangers to Normandy for the 55th anniversary and got to write about this amazing experience. These guys were actual, real heroes. (This photo is of Sid on the cliffs where he landed on D-Day).

8.The Princess Bride (1987): Total, complete and perfect fantasy. And so many memorable lines. My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die. When I was your age, television was called books. Get used to disappointment. Plus it had Andre the Giant in all his gigantic, rhyming glory.

9.Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969): It’s a western, but seems so modern. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s got action, adventure, foreign travel, Redford and Newman at their superstar best, and so many great quotes. I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals. Redford: I can’t swim. Newman: Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you. BTW: William Goldman wrote the screenplay for this and The Princess Bride.

10.Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017): Think this is on my list because I just saw it … and am still a little numb from the experience. So raw and visceral and real and emotional. Great writing, well-developed characters and an amazing cast. Wonder how I’ll feel about this movie in 10 years?

OK, there you have it. My list. What’s your Top 10?

 

 

 

 

I’m The Reason the Eagles Are In the Super Bowl – and Will Win

 

All of Philadelphia owes me a giant, thank you. Or, at the very least, send me a couple soft pretzels slathered with spicy, brown mustard. You can’t get a decent soft pretzel here in Ohio.pretel1

While I can’t take all of the credit (Nick Foles and Alshon Jefferey deserve some), I think I played a huge part in the Eagles getting to the Super Bowl.

Why?

Glad you asked.

So, as you may have read on an earlier More Stuff post (click here to read it), I made a pledge before this season to stop watching football. It has to do with brain injuries (I have one) and how I don’t think it’s right to watch giant men slam head-first into one another and cause CTEs.

It’s been hard to stay the course, and I’ve fallen off the wagon (the bandwagon?) a few times, and tuned in to a couple of Ohio State games. And an Eagles game or two.
But I’ve been strong since the playoffs – college and NFL – started, and haven’t watched any of the games. I think I’m 30 days football free. Do I get a chip for this? With some salsa?

And so, or thus, and because of all this, the Eagles, even without Carson Wentz and Darren Sproles, are now, of course, in the Super Bowl.

And I’ve forbidden myself from watching the damn game.

And, here’s the thing. The Eagles have never won the Super Bowl during the entire span of my existence and now, despite this wretched, decades-long record of futility – and Tom Brady – they’re destined to win Super Bowl XXXMBCXLKZ. It’s inevitable. I should go to Vegas bet everything I have on the Eagles.

I’ve been thinking about watching the game, despite my pledge. I mean, come on, it’s the Super Bowl. And it’s the Eagles. Against the Patriots. People (like you) will understand, right? What’s the harm? Everyone else in the world will be watching. Plus, the commercials are great. I could watch and not tell anyone, right?

But no, I have to stick to my guns. And principles. What’s the point of having a principle if, when faced with a little adversity, you toss is aside. It’s not like I’m the current POTUS.

I gave up football for a good reason – and I can’t go back. Not until they make the game safer. Not even if the Eagles are in the Super Bowl every year for the next decade.

Plus, if I watch, and they lose, it will totally be my fault. And all of Philly will be pissed at me and, trust me, you don’t want all of Philly pissed at you.

(Here’s the link back to the post on why I gave up football – and propelled the Eagles to greatness)

FYI: I wrote the first draft of this post at 9:45 on Sunday night, minutes after the Eagles crushed the Vikings – and my phone lit up and told me the news. Mom sent me an email a few minutes later. She and dad watched the game. And are quite excited.