Thursday, January 31, 2013

Passing Gas and the Art of the Nickname.

Ever since my "Passing Gas and the Art of Marriage" post a few weeks back, I have become aware of a disturbing trend in my life... a good deal of my interactions with others revolve around farting and fart jokes.

I suppose it's not really all that much of a surprise, but I really think of myself as a little more high brow than that when it comes to my personal comedy.

I've noticed that both my kids (including Pint Size, who is not really talking yet) respond hysterically to fart jokes and jokes about farting. Both of them get giggles out of passing gas in front of each other, especially if I'm around to say "ewww". They will then do their best to double down on their flatus and toot a few more times. I watch, frowning as their faces contort, trying their best to produce more methane, and worry sometimes that they'll hurt themselves from the strain.

Fortunately, Pint Size learned a few weeks ago to make the noise with his mouth, and goes around making "ppppbbt" noises for hours at the dog. Short Stuff finds this "HEEE-STER-ICKLE" (his words, not mine) and bought not one, but TWO whoopie cushions at the arcade last night instead of all the other toys he could have spent his hard earned skee-ball tickets on. I'll be checking my seat for weeks.

My wife, despite her protests to the contrary, enjoys the gas humor as well, though she is far more subtle. The other day, I used a nickname for her in conversation we were having that she didn't approve of.  I shortened her given name in the way that "Silverfox" would be shortened to "Silver". She insisted that if I was going to shorten her name, she would prefer "Sil".

One thing about most of the writers I know is that we hate having our word choices criticized. "Excuse me?" I said, "You don't get to CHOOSE your nickname. By definition, a nickname is what others agree to call you!"

"Really?" she said in that "Rob you need to shut up and agree with me" voice.

"Yes, really." I said in my "I am way too stupid to just let this go" voice, "I could call you 'Silvy-Silvy-poo-poo' If I felt like it... as your husband it's up to me to come up with and implement a nickname for you. Not for you to just tell me what I'm gonna call you."

"Silvy-Silvy-poo-poo." She said quietly.

"That's right." I said, still not knowing that I should just leave well enough alone, "Don't even get me started on the banana-nana-fo-fana stuff."

"So, by that logic..." she starts with the "You are about to get slam dunked on by Jordan" voice, "I could call you whatever I want."

"I already have a nickname." I said, sensing the danger about to come for the first time, "It's Rob. It's a shortened form of 'Robert' and you use it all the time."

"Oh no my friend..." She said with a mischievous grin, "I will now refer to you solely by farting with a soft 'Brappt' sound."

"You wouldn't." I said in amused horror.

"I absolutely would"

"You couldn't. To physically produce that much gas as often as you say my name you would have to..."

"Drink six cups of coffee and half a case of diet Coke a day."

"You've already done the math?"

"That's right, 'Brappt'." She said*, "I would only have to drink like, an extra two cans of Coke and you would be at my mercy."

"Boy, it's a good thing you've already introduced me to your mom and all your friends." I said, "'Hi, Mom, this is my boyfriend 'Brappt'' wouldn't make a very good first impression."

"Sure you don't want to rethink this, 'Brappt'?"

"I already have, 'Sil'. I love you."

"I love you too."

Yes, she totally blackmailed me to her point of view. I cannot stress enough how much I love this woman.

*She SAID! My wife did at no time actually pass gas during this conversation!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Writers live hip deep in the manure sometimes...

One of the perks of being a writer in the digital age is that I get to spend a good deal of time on the internet promoting myself. The problem is that there is a very fine line between "Promoting Myself" and "Goofing off on facebook". It becomes a much bigger problem when my wife comes into the room and asks "Whatcha' doing?"

I ususally look up from whatever I'm typing furiously at and stammer a bit, while my mind goes from "Internet troll hunter" mode to "Devoted husband" mode. This never helps my case any, but it's unavoidable. One of the things that makes me a good writer is that I have this very focused, "tune out reality" thing that I do when I get on the computer that allows me to immerse myself in worlds of my own imagining, or sometimes in a particularly well written MMO of someone else's imagining. Coming out of this tunnel vision takes a few seconds.

So it happens that I look up from the keyboard, look deeply into my wife's incredibly sexy and curious deep brown eyes and say "Huh?"

"Whatcha Doing?" she'll repeat as the eyes go from "curious" to "annoyed".

"Oh..." I'll say, grasping for a handhold on the reality train, "I'm just updating my convention schedule*."

Silverfox always frowns at this point, although I doubt anyone but me would notice the subtle downward curl of her lip. My brain, now determined to fall into the car on the reality train that carries the manure, insists that I apologize. For what? No clue.

"Really, I'm sorry. Not just goofing off, I swear." I spit out. Hmm... Manure smells a little like that sewage line that comes out onto the beach a few blocks from my Dad's house...

Silverfox looks at me with daggers. I realize at this point that she may be having a rough day, and I sound exactly like Short Stuff explaining that cookies for dinner are recommended by the USDA, (as long as one of the cookies is raisin-oatmeal).

My brain backfires. I stand up in the manure car and smile, wiping the hay from my hair and drop the instant forgive-me bomb. "I love you." I say.

She snorts. I'm still ankle deep in the manure at this point.. but I my friend, am standing... not lying... in the pig poop! My brain yells at me to simply show her what I am typing, and prove to her that I am actually working. "HAH!" the left side of my brain yells at the right, "The truth is for sissies! I will triumph in this through sheer force of charisma!"

The right side of my brain tries to mount a defense about how well that worked for Hitler, but the left side charges forward, trying to climb out of the manure car by saying, "You know, I'm spending all this time on facebook for us!"

Silverfox turns and glares at me, and I know I'm screwed. The boxcar full of manure is sealed from the outside. I don't know yet about the hard time Pint Sized gave her at the doctor, the problems with her car, or the fact that one of the kids left the fridge open last night. All I really know is that I have just said something really, really bad.

The right side of my brain pushes the left side aside while calling him a moron. I turn the screen and show Silverfox that I've sold a few more copies of my books. I'm in the clear, for now.

Thank god she didn't notice the minimized "Star Trek Online" window**. That would have been really tricky to explain.

*only an example... I am often multi tasking, making funny status updates, writing my blog, planning appearances, making memes about how much I hate memes to promote "No Memes day", all at the same time. None of which is really goofing off.
** This is goofing off. Only on breaks, between serious attempts at promotion. I swear.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Passing Gas and the Fine art of Marriage...

A few weeks ago, I posted the following to my Facebook feed:

A christmas etiquette question... I know it's rude to pass gas on a crowded theater, but what if it's just you and your wife at a Christmas matinee of Les Miserables?
Not entirely surprising, as those that know me know that I am celebrated for being a fine comedic writer, and as one that passes gas often. What really intrigued me were some of the responses that I got, chastising me for having the sheer unmitigated gall to pass gas in front of my lovely wife, Silverfox.

This, quite frankly, surprised the heck out of me.

Passing gas in front of your significant other is a relationship stage that I thought all couples went through. Being able to pass gas in front of your partner or loved ones is a sign of your comfort around them... (heck, in my family, it's the closest thing we have to a group sporting event...) I understand that the action of expelling flatus is the subject of crude humor most times, and can be unpleasant and often inappropriate, but at the same time there is something quite loving about the statement that ripping one next to your partner says.

(Stay with me here)

Cutting the cheese in front of your partner says that you trust them. It says that you know that they know you're human. It says that you know they won't judge you for your defects, faults, and ugly bits. It says that you know that they understand you.

Understand me here... I'm not saying I would ever subject Silverfox to a dutch oven. I love her, but the woman has a Tazer and a Bat'leth. There have even been times where she has threatened to come after my posterior with a full bottle of Febreeze... but if I pass gas in bed, It's understood that sometimes, you just have to fart.

The funniest part of the Facebook backlash for me was that everyone assumed that it was me having to pass gas. It was totally me that had the gas, but I still find it really funny that no one suspected for a second that it could have been Silverfox.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


One of the things about being a writer that they don't tell you in all those books about writing is that a good deal of it is about time management. I suffer from a severe lack of this skill at times, and as my regular readers have probably guessed by now, the first thing to get dropped off my list when I need more time for a project is my blog posting.

As a result, I tend to not post very much from mid-November to early January. It's an unavoidable part of my life, and even though I hate it, it happens whether I like it or not.

It starts off when things really get hopping with NaNoWriMo. Regardless of my other obligations, I look forward to NaNo every year to give me a chance to get motivated on the first draft of a future novel. Both Dimensional Games and Interdimensionally Yours have their roots in a November blitz of caffeine and deadline. It's the one time of year I feel perfectly justified in closing the door on the kids and wife because I need to meet a daily word count.

Unfortunately, I tend to over-compensate for this by being "SuperRobDadMan" for the month of December. Paying special attention to the joys of family and friends for an entire month. I also use December as a time to reflect on the business of being "THE Rob Cerio", doing my best to nail down my appearence calendar, revise short stories, identify new markets, new projects, and new opportunities to move my career forward.

This is not an exceedingly healthy way to lead the writing life. Hang on, let me get a soapbox to stand on and pontificate from...
Better. Life my friends... is all about balance. Particularly when you want to get into the crazy, always changing field of writing. You have to balance keeping up your blog entries with producing your prose, editing said prose, advertizing said prose, and your obligations to the rest of the planet.

Me, I'm really great at the Writing and Editing parts of it all, and I like to think I'm pretty decent at the obligations to my friends and family that I often refer to as "My Real Life". It's the advertizing part of it that always gets my britches stuck in the spin dry cycle.

By advertizing, I mean things that ultimately will increase my readership, like maintaining my new Facebook fan page, booking and appearing at cons and writing seminars,(see "Rob's world tour" in the sidebar), coming up with witty blogs, tweets and status updates, identifying new projects to work on, and just generally standing up and trying to get the world to take notice of the speck screaming at it as it spins on.

Time was when these little details would be taken care of by a publisher or agent... Yeah, welcome to the new reality of being a writer in the 21st century. It's all on you, pally... get cracking. Ain't nobody gonna write those Facebook updates for you, and you've got to beat George Takei to the punch if you want to be relevant next week.

It's actually a lot of stress for a person to deal with, which is why I tend to slack on the blog. If any of my fellow writers have figured this balance thing out, I'd love to hear from you. If you're just starting out, though... Don't say I didn't warn you!