Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Have a Very Beary Day (Chapter 1: The Last Temptation of Buttprint)

My nephew Wyatt’s entry into little manhood was a day I had been anticipating for six long years. No more did I have to worry about him guzzling a Clorox smoothie, or playing tag with a pair of garden shears, or whipping out his wiener and christening the free throw line in a pick-up game of basketball. No, he was six years old now, a kindergartener, a big boy ready to control his own destiny, grab life by the horns, and embark on a long journey that would lead him to inevitable greatness. Perhaps I was giving him too much credit.

I called my sister up a week before this blessed day and asked her what he wanted for his birthday. Instantly she relayed to me that he was quite jealous over my 8-year old niece Kaitlyn and her stuffed pals Pretty the Horse and Mopsy the Rabbit. You see, last Christmas and for her birthday a few months ago, I bought my niece Build-a-Bear gift cards where she could go into the store and create her very own personalized stuffed animal and buy them little outfits and whatnot. Quick and painless, just like Uncle Onionhead likes it. “Well, I guess that’s it, I’m getting him a Build-a-Bear gift card”, I said to my sister, holding back the cartwheels inside me that wanted to celebrate yet another effortless gift giving. When I hung up the phone I raised my arms to the god of all that is slack and pumped my fist in the air like I just didn’t care, even though I did. I immediately got on the Internet and ordered one $50 Build-a-Bear gift card and within minutes I was done shopping. DONE! No walking around the mall like a neutered dog looking for his balls, no traffic or crowds, no wrapping presents like a coked-up octopus. I had pulled it off again. “Sweeeeeeet! CHA-CHING!””

On the day of his party I arrived with gift card in hand. Build-A-Bear even provided a little birthday card with a dictated message by me so I didn’t even have to sign it and a miniature cardboard house to wrap it in so all I had to do was open the envelope and bring it on over. Complete the handoff of the card without error and I would successfully defend my title of Slackest Uncle on the Planet for the third consecutive year. When it was my turn to present my gift I handed it to the wee lad and his face just lit up. “Bidaber! Bidaber! WOO HOO! WOO HOO!” and he started bouncing off the walls in ritualistic celebration. I too felt the need to express my inner joy so I did my best Xena Warrior Princess battle cry “AYI-YI-YI-YI-YI-YI-YYII!!!!!” and then broke out into The Robot, an artistic dance I usually save for the club after about eight gin and tonics. I then proceeded to lead a party train of sugared-up six year olds around the living room like the pied piper, doing the cha-ha before I snuck off into the kitchen and started shoving Cheetos down my esophagus like it was my job. My sister followed me in and this is where the unraveling began.

“That was an awfully generous gift you got for Wyatt, Uncle Onionhead.”


“Finish chewing retard. Do you not eat at home?””

“Sorry. Don’t mention it. It was no trouble at all really. Anything for my favorite nephew.”

“He’s your only nephew.”

“Oh yeah, that’s why he’s so special I guess. Hey, I would walk over hot coals if it made that kid happy. I wish we could spend more time together”

“Really? What are you doing tomorrow?”

Uh-oh. I got the feeling I was getting sucked into something I didn’t need to get sucked into. I had to think fast or my day off of doing absolutely nothing would be wasted on having to do something.

“Ummmm…I’m shampooing my cat tomorrow.”

“You don’t have a cat.”

“Oh yeah…ummm…but I’ve been thinking about getting one so I figured I would practice on the neighbor’s cat.” Smooth.

“You now what? I think a certain nephew of yours would just love it if his Uncle Onionhead, who he thinks is just the coolest, were to pick him up early from school tomorrow and take him to Build-A-Bear, don’t you?

“Which nephew?”

“Your only nephew.”

“Oh yeah. Well I...” Apparently my nephew had wandered in the room looking for me since the party train came off the tracks after I ditched. He overheard my sister’s proposal and was ready to lend 100% of his support behind it, as well as the support of his constituents from the party train that had congregated in the hall in a remarkable display of solidarity.

“Me and you, we goin to Bidaber tomorrow! I love you Uncle Onionhead!” Despite his atrocious grammar my nephew sure could be cute when he wanted to be. The next thing I knew my kneecaps became the target of an unsolicited group hug. Sneaky little bastards. Guess I should have been feeling all tingly inside after that. So why did I feel like I just got fired on my day off, “Daaaaaa-yum!”

The following morning I woke up as I always do and stared at my scary pillowhead in the bathroom mirror with my usual greeting.

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall whose the slackest of them all?”

“Well Onionhead, you are, of course. But today you have a little six-year old boy who is counting on you to make his birthday one he will remember for the rest of his life. This bonding time the two of you will share will be something special that will be seared into your hearts and your memories for all eternity. Undoubtedly, it will be a most blessed and glorious day.”

I took a seat on my think tank to contemplate the words that were so poetically recited to me by that ugly motherfucka. UMMPFFHHH!! He’s right, I have a UGRRRRReat day ahead. It’s gonna be an AHHHHHHsome experience. If I can just shake this self-doubt from my…c’mon wiggle wiggle….shake…damn it break off already…ok, if I can just shake this self doubt I’ll be able to wipe away the remnants of my stinking past and FLUSH the lazy me into a place where it could never again resurface without the aid of a Roto-Rooter Special Forces Unit. Whew!

Indeed, I felt like a new man. I had a certain spring in my step that I haven’t had since Burger King did their last “Buy a Whopper Get One Free” special. I was so inspired I put on a pot of coffee, hot and black like my women, and ate a jelly donut, fat and squishy like myself. I did my best to avoid the couch, but I am weak, and the buttprint on my couch knew it.

“Where are you going Onionhead?”

“I’m going to pick my nephew up from school early and we are going to Build-A-Bear so he can make his own stuffed pal. And don’t even try to talk me out of it, Buttprint!”

“OOOHHHHH, but I’m your pal, Onionhead. Wouldn’t you feel great right now all cozied up in me flipping channels, playing video games and falling asleep with your hand down your sleepy pants?”

“Well yes I wou…wait, NO...I made a commitment, Buttprint, and I’m sticking to it. You’ll have to watch The View without me today, OK? And anyway, blood is thicker than water and you’re…feathers…so you don’t even factor in”

“But I love you!!!” the buttprint said.

“Sometimes the truth hurts”, I rebutted.

“Oh yeah, well your ass is small and flat and leaves me wanting more” my buttprint said.

“That’s not what you said last night!” I re-rebutted.

Obviously we were at an impasse, things were getting personal, and it was time for me to go. Driving to the school I must admit I felt pretty damn good about myself being able to resist the The Last Temptation of Buttprint and actually do something selfless and productive with my day off for a change. I wish back in the day I had a cool uncle who would pick me up from school for an authorized half day of hooky. My sister is a teacher at my nephew’s school so I decided to call her from the car and let her know I was on my way.

“Hey it’s me Onionhead.”

“Onionead are you on the couch? You’re not backing out are you?”

“Aww naw, hell naw, girl y’all went up and done it.”

“English please, whitebread.”

“No, I’m on my way. Say how am I breaking this kid out of there anyway?”

“You’re not breaking anyone out. Just go to the office, sign in, and in the reason for pick-up simply write appointment.”

“Well, we don’t have an appointment. We are just going to the mall. Are you asking me to lie?”

“It’s not lying. All the parents do it from time to time. It’s an unwritten code. They don’t ask, we don’t tell…do you get it?”

“Yeah, you’re asking me to lie. And I’m not a good liar and you know this.”

“Listen, just do as I told you, and whatever you do, under any circumstances DO NOT OFFER ANY EXTRA INFORMATION. Is that clear?”

“Yeah, I guess so. Is Wyatt down with the plan? He’s not going to blow this for us is he?”

“He knows the drill. You just worry about you, okay?” (click)

Damn, I can’t believe my sister asked me to lie. It’s not that I have a problem with lying, in fact I lie to my sister all the time without a seconds thought. But I prefer to lie under my own accord. When other people ask me to lie I feel used and pimped out, like a skanky truck stop ho. There was no way to back out now, the script was written, and it was too late to flip it. My partner in crime was a sugarcrack-headed kindergartener yet my sister was worried about me. Yeah, her confidence in me was heartfelt and overwhelming. Minutes later I arrived at the school and parked the getaway car in one of the twenty thousand available handicapped spaces. I took a deep breath, prayed to the god of all that is slack, synchronized my Spongebob watch and moved out toward the doors of Alcatraz Elementary School.

When I walked into the office I was surprised to see several warm smiling faces welcoming me in. This wasn’t like I remembered the school office being. Where were the cold heartless scowls of yesteryear? Was I in the right place? It did say OFFICE on the door didn’t it? Something wasn’t adding up.

“How are you today, sir?” the deceivingly nice lady behind the front desk said.

A-ha! Right off the bat a trick question. I wasn’t born yesterday, and I had a government issued driver’s license to prove it. Obviously she was the front-line of defense, whose job it was to sniff out the slightest inconsistency in my story by asking a gazillion and one prying questions. I would have none of her interrogation so I decided to throw her off track from her little cat and mouse game with a little game of my own called “fillibabble”.

“My name is Onionhead, Bloomin’ Onionhead. I am a Pisces born in the year of love. I am the first son of a first son of a first son, which means I’m one bad seed, dig? I am the middle of three children and was raised in South Central North Cackalacky, where the cul-de-sacs were hard, and a cracka like me could get ganked for just insinuating one of my peeps was a poopyhead. I like long walks on the beach, cuddling during thunderstorms, waitresses at the Waffle House who call me Hun and Shug, and I like my sex scattered, smothered, covered and chunked. One time when I was young I ate peas and carrots and blew them out of my nose and that changed my life forever. Some people say I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I wouldn’t do that you see, cause that’s where I blow my nose. When I twirl my penis like a helicop…”

“Sir, who are you here to pick up?”

“My nephew, Wyatt.”

“Oh you’re Mrs. Checkan’s brother. She told me you were coming but she didn’t tell me you were…um, special. Ok I’ll page his teacher and have him sent right down. Just please sign him out on this form”

Brilliant. My fillibabble worked like a charm. I held my ground and we were home free. Damn I love some me sometimes. I was pretty proud of myself right then and there and felt like giving myself a pat on the back and a little self-love, except that may have been inappropriate right there in the school office. Maybe there was a bathroom I could slip into …

A heavy hand on the back of my shoulder interrupted my impure thoughts of self-gratification. I turned around and there standing before me was most ginormous woman I have ever see in my entire life. She must have been 6’ 6” and 300 pounds easy. She was wearing one of those Oprah Show pantsuits but looked like she would be more at home in the freshly skinned hide of a wooly mammoth. It is entirely possible she ate fat kids like me for breakfast. In short, I was doomed.

I turned around and stared into a wall of breasts, which could have easily been mistaken as wrecking balls the way they were perilously swinging to and fro. If it weren’t for my cat-like reflexes, they’d be calling me Bloomin’ No-head for the rest of my underachieving life. There was no time for thinking now, I had to react.

“Ahh yes, Principal Pissypants I presume. It’s an honor to meet you. My name is Onionhead, Bloomin’ Onionhead. I’m here to pick up my dear nephew Wyatt. He has a most urgent appointment that I must transport him to right away. I say, do you know of his whereabouts?”

I was pretty pleased with my Limey accent I learned from watching Mr. Bentley on The Jeffersons, however I didn’t get the impression that Principal Pissypants was very amused.

“Excuse me?” she said with a stare she that made me want to cry for my mommy. I got the weird feeling that Principal Pissypants was not really her name at all, despite what my niece and nephew had told me. Come to think of it, I didn’t see any stick up her ass like my sister described either. Looks like I had been given some faulty intelligence, Daaaaay-umm!!! How could they hem me up like that?

“Hmmm…Mr. Onionhead …well you must be Mrs. Checkan’s brother. She never told me you were a comedian.”

“Well I got jokes you know, haha!”

“I see. Well, your sister is a wonderful teacher and we here at Alcatraz Elementary are truly blessed to have her on our staff. You must be very proud of her. I saw Wyatt this morning and he seemed fine. Is he OK? ”

“I wish I could tell you that he was OK, but I cannot lie. Alas, poor Wyatt has an intermittent inner-leprotic condition. On occasion, his inner organs will fall out. Why just last night we found his spleen being attacked by a gang of dust bunnies under the couch.”

“Mr. Onionhead. My gut feeling tells me you are in the middle of a complete fabrication.”

“I’m so sorry, can you smell it from there?” I replied as I tried to whoosh that nasty coffee & donut fart toward the door. It appeared my story was falling apart, but lucky for me I saw my nephew from the office window. However, unlucky for me he was swinging that Build-A-Bear gift house wildly in his hand as he was prancing down the hallway like a Solid Gold dancer. He was waving at me in the window, and I tried to give him some sign language I learned on Discovery Channel with Coco the Gorilla that meant to “calm the fuck down” but since communication breakdown is always the same, he apparently mistook it for “act like a spaz at will”.

“WOO-HOO! WOO-HOO! WOO-HOO! We goin to Bidaber! It’s Bidaber time, Bidaber, Bidaber, Bidaber… WOO-HOO!”, and he tore around the office like a epileptic chicken with its head cut off. I corralled his convulsing body, put him in a headlock and cupped my hand over his mouth.

I smiled up at the behemoth that towered over us.

“Looks like someone had a wee too much Mountain Dew this morning” I said trying to fake a laugh while holding back the tears caused my nephew who was busy gnawing away at my fingers like Backwoods Billy at a corn-on-the cob eating contest.

“Hmmm…going to ‘Bidaber’ are you?” she asked like she knew exactly where we were going. How could she possibly know?

“Umm…that’s right. We are going to see Doctor Bidaber. He’s great with kids. Wyatt just loves him, can’t you tell? Tell her Wyatt.”


“See, he’s just ecstatic…haha!”

“OK, Mr. Onionhead.” she said rolling her eyes and shaking her head. “You and Wyatt have a fun day at Doctor Bidader’s office”, and with that she lumbered back into her office to devour whatever livestock she had rustled up for her lunch.

I escorted the rambunctious rugrat wiggling in my arms out of the office and into the empty hallway. Despite the gristle hanging off my fingers where flesh once was, I decided to keep him confined just long enough to let him know who was in charge.

“OK listen up. YOU BLEW IT!!!!” I checked myself and realized I was yelling and decided to switch to my kindler, gentler Captain Kangaroo voice to better get my point across.

“Now, before we move along with our little adventure let’s get something straight. I am the adult and you are the child. When I ask you to do something, you do it. When I ask you to stop doing something, you stop. It’s pretty simple isn’t? Now I’m gonna let you go, and I expect you to act like a big boy. Can you do that for me?”

He nodded his head in agreement, so I released him from his human straitjacket and for a brief moment it appeared he actually listened to what I said. He looked up at me with his big blue eyes and smiled, and in the most angelic voice I have ever heard said, “Uncle Onionhead, I am a big boy”. Then he took off running down the halls, banging on all the doors and lockers along the way, while screaming at the top of his little, loud lungs “Bidaber, Bidaber, Bidaber, WOO HOO!!!!”

I felt like crying right there in the halls as all the students and teachers stared at me like commuters slowing down to check out a car wreck on the side of the highway. But I maintained my composure, sucked it up and kept my cool, after all I was a big boy, and as such I had to set an example for all the little innocent bystanders. When I finally caught up to my nephew in the parking lot I grabbed him by the hand with my best GI Joe death grip and drug him toward the getaway car. I looked at my watch and Spongebob had both arms extended and I could have swore he was giving me the finger. It was noon, and on most days off I would still be in bed trying to break my own world record for consecutive snooze bar hits on my alarm clock. But today I was already physically exhausted and emotionally spent, and we hadn’t even gotten close to Build-A-Bear yet. Fuck you too, Spongebob.