Monday, February 11, 2008


Ever since I can remember, my brother Bill would interrupt dinners asking my sister and me how much we’d pay him to lick the cat. Somehow crazy-ass Bill had surmised that there’s a hidden demand in our house for people willing to run their tongues down the back of Percival—our Al Bundy-like Siamese male. When Ted Turner started CNN, he went on a hunch that the world wanted news twenty-four hours a day. My older brother also had the same business savvy—as my sister and I would’ve paid almost any price to watch him snatch Percival from the floor during the middle of dinner, then lick that cat from head to toe. We’d laugh so hard that we’d forget everything we needed to. My mom would try to be angry--but had to laugh. My Dad would just stare at him, speechless—trying to block out what future mental or emotional problems Bill’s cat licking foretold. Then, my mom, after the shock had worn off, would look at my brother in the eye and ask, “William Mossberg Greenberg, que la chingada? What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Yes, my brother has the unfortunate distinction of having a Jewish last name for a middle name. The Mossbergs are the family that took my mom from her Mexican youth, and turned her into the hostile Mexi-Jew that she is today. To honor them, she gave their last name to her first born child. Jewish tradition states that you’re not supposed to name a child after a living relative because it actually means that you want them dead. But technically the Mossbergs aren’t related, so I guess she said screw it. And so my brother is William Mossberg Greenberg. And me, being young and not having figured how to coordinate tongue, teeth and sound used to call him Will-Moss. As I grew older and repeatedly witnessed him say things that would make those around gasp for breath—it became Wildmouth.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Today I had to go to “baby class.” Apparently just getting pregnant isn’t enough. Now you’ve got to go to school for it. You get credits. Teenage moms take advanced-placement exams and graduate with honors. And husbands, first time husbands like myself, we get to sit there and learn about the three hundred ways that we could screw up our babies. Although, the only thing I learned is that if you give your kid breast milk, he’ll be a genius. And if you plan on giving your kid formula, you might as well just piss in the bottle. Apparently formula is what you give a child when the father won’t return your phone calls. Breast milk is from the mom who made the child. It’s specifically engineered to give the child all he needs for brain development. And formula is something else. It’s not real love, from-mommy food. It’s abusive, “I’m a foster parent for the money” food.
But after leaving class that evening, it occurred to me that this can’t be entirely true. There are probably many babies whose brains developed very well on Formula. How can you just say that breast milk is the only answer? What if the mother’s a drug addict? That kid would be better off nursing from a Red Bull.
And it’s a bit disturbing that they just call if “formula.” What’s it the formula for—getting a job at Burger King? Is it the formula for poor impulse control and hyperactivity? Collecting Tranformers? Crying when you hear a John Cougar Mellancamp song?
I think the problem with learning all this is that makes it so you can't help but judge your child. What if, for whatever reason, our children have to be fed formula? When they come home from school with B-grades on their report cards, and i forever going to think they were just a tit away from straight A's?
Fortunately for me, my wife is extremely healthy and plans on breastfeeding.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mom calls to tell me I'm an asshole

Entry 1: February 5, 2008
My mom called to curse me out in Spanish. For whatever reason, English isn’t an angry enough language for her. To most effectively tell me that I’m an asshole, she must return to her mother tongue. Though, it isn’t uncommon for my mom to call me an asshole. In fact, she's done it on three birthdays and once during Chanukah when I was five. But today, she called and said, “Is this my son, the coolero?” I said, “Yes, mom. Why are you speaking Spanish, what’s wrong?” She paused. My mom converted to Judaism twenty-five years ago. The way she tells the story, after her family crossed into San Diego, everyone went looking for jobs. A few days later everyone but her was consigned to wash dishes or mow lawns, but she said that she was going to learn English and become a millionaire. She was twenty at the time. And she was a woman—who up ‘till then, in Mexico had only been allowed to satisfy entrepreneurial cravings if they involved a donkey. Her father said, “You’re suddenly smart enough to be a millionaire? What are you Jewish?” So, as my mom tells it, she said goodbye to those assholes, converted to Judaism, and learned English from the orthodox Jewish family who took her in. The only problem is that instead of starting her business, she started a family. She’s still pissed.
“Hey asshole. I hear you not taking care you pregnant wife? Que la Chingada puto madre?”
“No mom. I’m home and I’m taking care of her. I won’t be on the road again for another month.”
“We es un good Jewish family, pinche coolero. You can tell your jokes to the vilde chaim later. Put your pinche family first.”
“Yes, Mom” I said, and she hung up the phone. She always hangs up the phone. Never says goodbye. She say that slamming the phone down reminds us about the importance of time. She says time saying goodbye could beused to become a millionaire.
Then my wife, pregnant with twins wrapped her neck around the corner and asked, “What did your mom want?”
“She asked what we’re doing for Passover?”
“What did you tell her?
“That we’re celebrating Easter.”