Allergies. Allergies. Allergies Here and There....

Back in my day, there was one kid in every neighborhood missing a limb. Usually it was some dumb ass kid f*cking around on the train tracks that rolled through our town. There was the occasional chipped tooth kid, victim of an errant baseball and an epileptic or two hittin' the deck in gym class. Broken arms from dropping 13' from a tree branch was a frequent occurrence, as was road pizza from spilling on our bikes.

If there's one thing I don't remember about my generation are all the wussy-ass allergies that are ubiquitous these days. I know. I know... I should thank the heavens I have two healthy allergy-free kids.

Anyway, the snack list on the O-Dog's soccer team kindly requested that we pick snacks that take into consideration some of the players' allergies. I know for a fact that one of the O-Dog's buddies is allergic to chocolate. Peanuts, for some goddamned reason, are a pretty common one too. I walked up and down the aisles, ruling out granola, M & M's and anything dairy.

Bingo. Those 'fruit snacks' seem pretty harmless. A couple of ten packs of juice boxes will do, too.

I cart the O-Dog and the Fletchmonster to the soccer field and watch the O-Dog run around aimlessly for an hour... Game ends and it's time to dole out the snacks.

Little Girl: Um... Excuse me. What's in these?
Prego: Fruit, honey. They're fruit snacks.
Little Girl: But what kind? I'm allergic to strawberries.
Prego: (Jesus, kid. What the f*ckscicles?) Uh, go ask your mommy if those are okay. Here. Take a juice box, too.
Little Girl: Thank you.

Just then, a grizzled, one armed 5 year old with one eye, stictches across his cheek and chipped baby teeth approached me...

Prego: Here, kid. Take the whole f*cking bag.

He scratched his hair, pounded on his chest and grunted "Thanks."

Now that's my kind of kid.


Elvis & Priscilla

I started this little tradition a few years ago, just for sh*ts and giggles. Kind of a little brainteaser for new brides and grooms. Whenever we arrive at a reception, I head over to the guest book to sign. Sometimes they have that 80 page lacy thing they spent $30-$60 only to have the first three pages filled with garden variety monikers like Aunt Tilly and Uncle Milt from Kalamazoo or Stan and Vicky Mieskiewicz.

After the second or third "Mr. & Mrs. Prego" I decided to have a little fun. I'm sure there have been friends and acquaintances puzzled, wondering:

Fred and Ethel Mertz?!

Mother Teresa and Mohandas Ghandi?

Tito Puente and Celia Cruz?

or most recently...

Bride: Who the heck are Lou Reed and Nico?
Groom: I think that's Uncle Milt's stepson and his "partner."

My favourite are those frames with the large white matte, placed prominently on a newlywed couple's mantle with the signatures of Guy LaFleur and Manon Rheaume. I added the little touch of the Montreal Canadiens logo underneath.

A savvy friend or relative might use process of elimination to figure it out, but it's not likely since not everybody gets around to signing it, and nobody's 'outed' us. Maybe next weekend -- my friend's a bit of a rock fan. So who will it be?

John Doe and Exene Cervenka?
Johnny Cash and June Carter?
Amy Ray and Emily Saliers?

The possibilities are endless, but I'm open to suggestions.

When the Tapeworm Speaketh

John Sadowski holds this week's roundtable. He's wondering: what appeases your tapeworm? You know, that fatty, salty plateful of unhealthy that satisfies that craving. You could feel your blood start to flow like toothpaste with every bite.

Gyros, tacos and Ramen - Oh my!

I'll have to admit, after a late night hockey game, the steering wheel on my car starts to pull to the right as I pass Taco Hell for a 7-Layer burrito with two percent milk.
The idea of putting seven layers of anything in my breadbasket....


philoprogenitiveness n :

1 love for one's own children
2 a city in China

The O-Dog and the Fletchmonster are at times like f*cking Shiites and Sunnis.

O-Dog: Fletchmonster, you're a baybeeeeee...
Fletchmonster: Waaaaauahghhgh. Stupid Odie. Stupid. Stupid.

(slap. pull. bite.)

O-Dog: AAAAAAAHHHH. He bit me!

Prego: (muttering) jesus f*cking christ. Hey, man. You started it.

This scenario, or any of a number of variations and permutations are a daily occurrence in the Prego household. Matchbox cars are chucked, bodies fly off of couches, siblings are tortured... Baghdad is a more peaceful place than my living room.

Frankly, I just try to keep them from killing each other while somehow creating that bond that will hopefully exist when I go grudgingly to my grave. Sh*t, part of the reason there is a Fletchmonster is because I didn't want the O-Dog to be by himself after the missus and I become fertilizer. I know that first-hand, since my mom passed away. Though my dad still thankfully has a pulse, he lives seven-hundred miles away -- that means that if I find myself in a hell-of-a-predicament, I at least have my brother and sister nearby... and the missus, of course.

The way the Fletchmonster and O-Dog go at it, though, you wonder if that relationship will ever exist.

39 Year Old Fletchmonster: Yeah, I have an older brother, but that f*cker and I haven't talked in 37 years, since he turned off the TV while I was watching "Scooby Doo Meets Batman & Robin."


Mrs. O-Dog: Honey, why don't you invite the Fletchmonster over for Thanksgiving Dinner?
43 Year-Old O-Dog: Why, so he can pull my hair, call me stupid and scribble all over my Maurice Sendak novels? F*ck that.

I know the reality. My own brother and I can't agree on lunch on any given day. We stopped whaling on each other in 1986, I believe... but I'd still step in front of a truck for the bastard (or at least try to pull him to safety.) As far as holiday dinners go, he does call me stupid... but then again, I accidentally scratched the side of his convertible once...

It's likely the O-Dog and Fletchmonster's beer-swilling arguments will be lively, but I know they won't be bad enough to involve the authorities. I have a feeling my boys will be all right.

The other day after soccer practice, O-Dog picks up his snack and drink from his coach an we take the walk back to the car. The routine is to open the O-Dog side first, let him sit in his booster, then come around to the Fletchmonster's side to buckle him into the car seat - go back to the O-Dog and help him strap himself in before I go back to the driver's seat.

As I got back in the car I turn back to see the O-Dog has opened his Rice Krispies treat, broken it in half and handed a piece to the Fletchmonster, without saying a goddamned word. It was at that point that philoprogenitiveness caused a hint of tears welling up in my eyes and my cholesterol-coated heart to warm over.

Yeah... my little f*ckers are going to be all right.


(Splash) Prego's (glug) Swimming (chhugfff) Lessons

Some people take to the water like a Texan takes to the buffet line. I am not one of those people. In fact, to this day I am constantly vigilant whenever the O-Dog or Fletchmonster find themselves in the pool - lest we have one of those "Tommy Lee" incidents.

"They're fine," my wife chides. "My cousin is in the pool with them.

"I don't give a flying rat f*** if Greg Louganis is in the goddamned pool..." I reply, hawk-eye glare over a sh*tty can of Budweiser.

My wife's comfort level with the aquatic milieu is much more relaxed than mine. She's one of those to whom swimming came naturally. Years of swim team, water ballet and lifeguarding have shaped her into Aquagirl. Me? I'm flotsam.

I was doomed from the beginning. Every time my Aunt Margarita visits me from England she loves to tell the story about how she fished me out of ankle deep water in the Riverside Park pool when I was three.

I drive by that pool every once in a while on the way to the adjacent hockey rink. Half of me wants to laugh, since the wading can't be more than 2' deep at the most; the other more sensible half wants to pass legislation that wading pools should be no deeper than the distance between the base of chin and the nostrils of the average two year old.

A gigantic spatula needs to be on hand to flip any toddler unfortunate enough to find themselves face first in the water.

Eventually, I overcame the trauma and ventured out on the beautiful beaches in Punto Fijo, Venezuela. Who could resist the pebbles, seaweed and the chafe of gritty sand in the a**cheeks? Splashing around waist deep water might have assuaged the aquaphobe in me, but it did very little to turn me into a bona fide swimmer.

Fast forward to 1978, where we find our hero, an eleven-year-old Prego wading in the shallow end of the Rees Street Pool. Water-logged and curious he walks around the perimeter to the 'deep end'...

[Now that sounds like a catastrophe in the making, but had it turned out badly, this would have been the last chapter of a very short biography written by a bereft member of my family.... Or kind of like in the bio-pics on Ray Charles or Johnny Cash.

The Injun
lost his idiot brother at an early age.

"And then he (sniff) jumped into the pool... (turns away from camera. wipes tear)

The trauma drove him to immerse himself in a steady diet of quaaludes, Ron Cacique and Salsa music, when
Behind the Music continues.]

I don't remember quite what the conversation entailed or who it involved, but in a nutshell...

Kid: You don't know how to swim? It's easy! Just jump in the deep end and do 'this' with your arms.
Me: Daaaah... okay.

Splash. Glug.

(complete silence)

Splash. Cough....

(complete silence)

Splash.. "sntferftaaaaguuggg

(complete silence)

And In the meantime, I'll never forget the vision of a non-descript female life guard "sgogrfrffffdtttt"

(complete silence)

rapidly approaching the edge of the "prferfgtyyrtyyyyaaaa"

(complete silence)

edge of the pool, jumping in "gggooogggfff"

(complete silence)

and coming into focus just as she fishes my scrawny a** out.

"Cough-cough-cough.... WHEEEEEZE... Cough-cough-cough....

And what did I do once this angel of the gods miraculously snatched me from the Grim Reaper's soggy death grip? I did what any other little f*cker would have done in that situation.

Run like a motherf*cker.

Lifeguard (to herself): Hey! How 'bout a little thank you, you little bastard?!

I don't know if my sister Zilt witnessed the incident or not, but it might have been my dumb a** who told her "The life guard had to get me out of the pool. Please don't tell Ma & Pa."

Needless to say the first thing she says when she says when we get home is, "Prego almost drowned in the pool!"


Prego: Uhhh... Yeah... (sniff-sniff) That kid Darren pushed me into the deep end... (sniff-sniff) and the lifeguard had to get me out...."
Dad: The next time you see that son-of-a-bitch, you kill that f*cking son-of-a-bitch.

Everyone is a son-of-a-bitch to the old man -- even my sons (since he has co-opted the rights of it for use as a term of endearment)

The "pushed in the pool story" stuck, and I never found the need to come clean to the parents. Sh*t. My mom's gone, and my dad could care less -- Darren never got his a** kickin', and for 28 years, I've carried the guilt of not having thanked the lifeguard. Instead, I've made it a point to thank everyone in a thankless profession.

Toll booth f*cker? Thank You.
School janitor? Thank You.
Crack dealer? Thank You.
The guy who puts the scented cake in the urinals? F*cking THANK you.
The guy who picks up elephant shit after the parade? Duuuuuude.... Thank you.
Pickin' up condoms in the parking lot of a Styx concert? Thanks....
Wiping Rosie O'Donnell's coarse pubes from the dressing room sh*tter for a living? Thanks.

As for the swimming pool? I finally got the hang of it somehow. A sh*tty gym teacher in Venezuela might have had something to do with it, and no... I didn't thank him.

(complete silence)


Shoulda, Coulda Woulda

Roundtabler Suzanne of Perfect Procastination ponders the what-ifs of our miserable little lives. For instance, "What if I'd played 6-42-26-32-53-3 in last month's lotto?" or "What if I'd stayed home that night? It might have saved me from a penicillin shot.

Check it out.

LATER - Pre-teen Prego almost drowns. Stay tuned.


Fava beans with a sip of chianti

Vino or vi-no? Roundtabler SK Waller likes to relax with a little bit of wine to unwind. Me too, actually. Sipping a little Bordeaux makes me feel a little less brown trash than crackin' into a six pack of Pabst. Stop by and for a glass of chardonnay at the Incurable Insomniac's wine cellar.


Waskawy Wabbit Wasted.

I got an email from Rob of fuquad!, asking quite simply "I gotta know. Did the rabbit die or what?"

Like an idiot, I spent fifteen minutes going back over a month's worth of blog entries for any reference to a dead rabbit. No dice. Finally, I had to admit my ignorance and replied,"Dude, what f*cking rabbit?"

He clarified, thankfully, that he was referring to the pregnancy test Mrs. (not) Prego took last month. I had to admit that I had never heard that expression. Or have I?

From Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion":
Pulled into town in a police car
Your daddy said I took you just a little too far.

Tellin' other things, but your girlfriend lied

Can't catch me cause the rabbit done died.

I must have heard that song a thousand and a half times and never thought to figure out what the hell Spit-Lips Tyler was bellowing about. It seems that back in the day they figured out that if you inject a rabbit with broad piss, "it dies if the woman's pregnant." Actually a more scientific explanation is that the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (present in pregnant broad piss) causes 'changes' in the ovaries of a female rabbit. They had to kill the rabbits anyway to see the results.

It's still the hCG hormone that is used to determine results in modern pregnancy tests. Rabbits have since been spared, thank god. I can only imagine the look in a rabbit's eye as some quack comes at it with a syringe-full of Mrs. P's house-fraĆ¼ whizz. "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...!"

Now let's see what happens when we inject a tapir with the contents of a hemorrhoidal man's enema bag?


Sounds of Silence

Nothing made me feel more ghetto last week than driving the 1995 Jeep Sh*twagon around town sans muffler.

I was laying in bed and was startled by the obscene sound of scraping metal on ashphalt and that of un-muffled exhaust.

"Damn," I thought to myself. "Time for that bastard to head to the muffler shop."

Minutes later I hear the key opening the front door and my wife sheepishly peeking her head into the bedroom.

Stifling her laughter, she says "I just killed your muffler!"

"That was you?! Faaaaahk." We both chuckle over the situation.

Ordinarily, I'd have taken the thing to Midas or Cole for repairs, but since I'm selling it I didn't want to shell out the $175 minimum those bastards would charge. I had to figure a way to cheap out.

The entire week, I drove that thing to work: Duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah...

I felt as if everyone in the neighborhood took a peek my way in disdain.

Even my brother caught wind of it.

Bro: So what's up with your car?
Me: The muffler. Why?
Bro: One of your old students came in to my classroom saying, "Mr. G, your brother's car sounds like sh*t. I can hear him coming from two blocks away."
Me: Faaaaahk.

Fortunately, my father-in-law is a handy individual with an insatiable desire to acquire every tool known to mankind. He kindly asked me to bring the car over on Saturday morning.

En route, the O-Dog wanted me to tell me a little story.

"Daddy, did you ever (duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah) and then (duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah) with the girl who (duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah)"

"What, buddy?"

"The girl who (duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah) with (duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah)."

"I'm sorry. Which girl?"

"Ah forget it!"

When I finally arrived at the in-laws, ears still ringing, I found that my father-in-law already had the ramps up. This guy loves a project like a spider likes a fly.

$9 in clamps later, the muffler was re-attached and the only sounds in the car were of my two little bastards singing the "Baby, baby - Stick Your Head in Gravy" song to each other in between wails and swinging fists on the way home. In some ways, I missed the Duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah-duggah...

On the way back to work this week, though, I missed it like a prom queen misses a pimple.

Thanks for pimpin' my ride, Mr. F. For less than ten bucks, too.


Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Last month, blogger Carmi Levy wrote an article about homelessness that struck a chord. Carmi is a Canadian journalist & 'tech-y' guy and all-around gentleman... basically the anti-thesis of me. I'm far from Canadian. Anyway, he posits that we should all look out for the homeless and destitute, since any of us could wind up saturated in our own piss, talking to buildings and extending our nicotine-stained hand out to passers by to eke out a living.

In response to his post, I wrote:

...Yeah. We're all a lawsuit/bender/divorce away from being indigent or destitute, but I think most of us have the capacity, resourcefulness and will to avoid such a fate...

Sure, it could be any of us, but I don't find myself to be all that charitible to neighborhood cadgers anymore. This might be due to the fact that I live in an area with a high panhandler to regular person ratio.

Here's a historical glimpse of such characters:

A fifty-some year old guy who for a span of three or four years would approach people in front of a convenience store, asking for money "out of desperation." How long can one be 'desperate'? I think after three or four days it ceases to be desperation and becomes a flat-out nuisance.

A thirty year-old bearded hippie who spent a couple of summers rustling up some change to catch a bus - at the same stop, for hours on end.

The short pigeon toed dude with the fake "shakes" and the plaintive f*cking expression on his face. He'd waddle back and forth in front of the Blockbuster Video store looking like he was about to cry. This was his post for a couple of years.

The grizzled 'Vietnam Vet' guy who'd sarcastically respond "God Bless America," whenever you'd pat the pockets and shake your head as you walked by.

Then there's the 'ran out of gas' routine... That's a winner. F*ck you. Especially when I'm paying 3.02 a gallon to keep my rusty piece of sh*t on the road...

Yeah, it's enough to make anybody calloused. In a way, though, Carmi's right. It could be any of us. A few months ago I started running into an old acquaintance of mine named John. I hadn't seen this guy in about eight or nine years. He used to be normal. At least normal enough to bag one of my old female friends back in the day. Now he starts appearing out of the blue and chats me up for ten painful minutes with some kind of incoherent babble. I don't like to talk to regular people for half as long. As f*cked up as he sounded, he starts rattling off stuff about people we knew and we parted off with a 'nice to see you.'

A couple weeks later I run into him again, looking a little messy. Now I'm thinking, "Man, what kind of f*cking drugs did this guy start taking?" as he goes on and on about the same sh*t as our last encounter. I kind of tugged at my collar and herded the family along and gave him the 'nice to see you, again.'

One or two days go by and here he comes again, looking far more deteriorated and disheveled. He introduces me to some teenage kid he refers to as his friend. As I try to make my getaway with my dog, mother-f*cker hits me up for a "couple of bucks to get some drinks with the ladies."

I gave him the "bunt sign" (patting pockets to indicate lack of monetary content) and rushed off, as he shouted a couple of "Aw... Come on's."

Did I feel like an a**hole for not helping him out? Maybe just a little. I kept thinking that if I really wanted to help him out, I'd give him a ride to the local Bry Lin Treatment Center next time i saw him, but giving out a couple of quarters everytime I see him or any of those other 'destitute' f*ckers on the street is bull sh*t.

I take care of my more resourceful vagrants by leaving out my empty returnable bottles and cans on garbage day. The ill feeling I got standing behind a fat housewife or houseband with 73 empty diet pop cans at the supermarket just wasn't worth the $1.55 I'd garner on an average load. I also 'give at the office' with the United Way and any other legit charity I deem worthy.

I pose this question. At what point should I toss out a quarter? Am I just a cheap bastard or does anybody else get annoyed in this situations. Does it, in fact, make me a heartless a**hole?
As much as I hate to say it... John, next time I see yo' ass, I'm probably crossing the street. You need a little more help than I'd be able to give with $0.73. I hope you find it.


The End of Summer

Labor day reminds me that I actually have to labor. As a teacher, you get spoiled by a couple months off... Enough so that when hordes of kids show up at the school you realize, "Oh yeah. So that's what I do for a living.

It's not bad, really -- especially if you actually like kids (which I do). Besides, if and when I get an administrative position soon, I'll have to get used to working year round.

Anyway, all good things come to an end. In my case, some leisure. In Steve Irwin's case a beautiful life. In Andre Agassi's case, a great career.

Yes, the world is a little poorer without the Crocodile Hunter. We've all had our attempts at an Aussie accented "It's teeth are razor sharp." Some of us dumber ones have probably even attempted to get a closer peek at an alligator or other such creature with comic and painful results... but all of us should appreciate the love the man had for animals, his sense of humor and enthusiasm for wild things. Go out and pour out a Foster's Lager on the sidewalk to pay props to our dead homie.

Andre? I wasn't always the biggest fan. You started off your career sporting the unsightliest of bitch-flags. During the apex of your career, you were usually second fiddle to Sampras... and your over-emotive victory celebrations made you look like a soap opera starlet winning an Emmy™ (especially your first Wimbledon title), but sh*t, bro... you went out with class. And you got to bag Brooke Shieds and Steffi Graf. More than that, you made tennis a bit cooler for the kiddies. I'm from the McEnroe school myself, but if I was coming of age about 6 or seven years later, you might have made me pick up a racket, too.

The end of something always marks the beginning of something else... autumn, new tennis stars like Federer or Nadal... and there's always the Kratt brothers.

The end of something usually marks the start of something new. Hopefully it's also something good.


Saturday Night Four Play! - Volume 7

Well... It looks like the missuz ain't in a family way. Thanks for those crossing fingers and well-wishin', but the menses be flowin'. She's out tying one on with her friend tonight, since I guess there's no fetus to damage.

We're not really disappointed or anything. We're in the 'if it happens, it happens' mind frame. The O-Dog and the Fletchmonster keep us happy, laughing and on our toes. Since my wife's of Irish descent, though, she's got that baby-making apparatus that's supposed to churn one out every 11 months. Me? I'm Hispanic. I'm aiming to embody that '15 in the car' joke white people like to tell.

Because I'm not likely to get any tail tonight, there's no sense in slapping the old smoothies on the turntable this evening. Tonight's featured artists cook things up in an entirely different fashion:

The Delta 72
Add 3 cups frenetic energy
1 steaming organ
1 raw throat
1 fifth of Wild Turkey
1 tbsp R&B
2 tbsp Rock & Roll

Throw in the Cuisinart and pulse like a m*ther-f*cker.

Yields 1 or 2 speeding tickets.

(or a couple broken bed springs)


I Feel Fine
Rich Girls Like to Steal
Get Down
Mainline Pt. 2