Announcing: My Amazing Amazon Preorder Chart Twerk!

Exciting news. My book now has something in common with Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Snooki’s Confessions of a Guidette. It’s listed on Amazon! You can see the cover, you can read the description, you can even click on a button to pre-order it (hint, hint).

MommyManCover

Yes, that’s my cover. I’m very happy to report that my publisher, Taylor Trade, hired the incredible David Heatley, who did my blog banner, to design the cover, and it’s exactly everything I wanted my book cover to be, because David is awesome and brilliant and Taylor Trade is the best.

I warned you this moment was coming. I told you I would start a full-on marketing blitz at some point. So here’s what I’m asking you to do. Ready…?

DON’T ORDER IT!

Well, yes, of course I want you to order it. Just not yet.

As I write this, my book is currently ranked #2,036,591 on Amazon. (Suck it, whoever’s #2,036,592!)

It’s not as bad as it sounds. It just got listed, and it doesn’t come out until May 8, 2014. Hopefully I can crack the top 2 million by then.

Now, here’s my silly strategy for getting my book off to a good start with preorders…

You may know that Amazon updates its sales rankings hourly. That means if you order my book right now, it might go up a few hundred thousand positions, and I would be incredibly grateful. Then, it would slowly sink back down again and in a few days, it might rest back in the high 1-millions/low 2-millions.

But what if, I wondered… what if everyone who’s going to preorder it did so at the same time, like within the same 1-hour period? What if I could get my book to rank, even briefly, within the top 1,000, maybe higher? Best case scenario, it would help my book get noticed. Maybe a few more people would order it. Maybe a few more booksellers would choose to stock it. Worst case scenario, it would make me feel good, and that’s nice, too.

So if you’re on board, join me in — oh, let’s call it my Amazing Amazon Preorder Chart Twerk. (Note: I’m still unclear on what twerking actually is.) We’ll twerk it together on Friday, October 4, as close to 12pm EST as you can do it.

This means you, people who’ve told me you can’t wait to preorder my book. This means you, people who like books that are funny and touching and about me. This means you, Mom! This means all of you!

The best part is this: Amazon has a pre-order price guarantee, so you won’t actually pay what it says right now. You’ll be billed when the book ships, and you’ll pay whatever the lowest price was between now and the day you first get to hold the book in your happy little hands. The current price is 10% off retail, but I’ve seen Amazon list it for as much as 25% off over the last few days. I’ll bet they’ll have that deal again over the next 7 1/2 months. Who knows. It may even go lower. (It’s a little like gambling — how fun!)

Let me repeat: Instead of preordering my book now, mark your calendar for Friday October 4, and do it then. (Don’t worry. If you check here or on my Facebook page, I’ll be reminding you.)

And if you’re worried you’ll forget or you think this is silly or you think, “Hey, cracking the top 2 million is pretty good, Jerry, don’t get greedy,” then feel free to order it right this second. Here. At this link. Go on!

I promise I won’t be mad.

UPDATE: I’ll definitely be posting, Facebooking, tweeting and twerking about this again before the big day, but if you want an email reminder on October 4 at go time, just leave me a comment here stating as such, and I’ll add you to the list. Just make sure you enter your email in the appropriate box when you type your comment, and then I’ll have it.

 

Why That Home Depot Marriage Proposal Video Makes Me Want to Hurl

Cry all you want, everyone I know on Facebook. If I’m being honest with you (and I probably won’t be to your face), that Salt Lake City Home Depot gay marriage proposal video you all insist on posting makes me sick.

Oh, don’t get all huffy now. I agree. Hooray for gays publicly displaying their affection in a typically macho store in a typically religious town! It Gets Better! Huzzah!

You know which video I mean. Today it’s this one:

Next week it’ll be some other video in some other town with some other couple, maybe straight, maybe gay but definitely eyerollingly cutesy.

Seriously, I’m done with these wannabe viral flash mob marriage proposals.

DONE.

And here’s why…

1. I don’t find them romantic. Whatever happened to going out for a nice dinner, pulling out a ring, getting down on one knee and being done with it? Am I supposed to be charmed that you felt the need to make a public spectacle of yourself?

Personally, I’m grateful to have a boyfriend who would slaughter me if I tried anything like this on him, run screaming from the Home Depot, refuse to let me post the video online and probably never speak to me again. I love the guy.

2. You’re raising the bar to places it shouldn’t go. Not everyone has the time, talent or complete lack of shame required to pull something like this off. But thanks to showoffs like these, every lovesick Joe or Jane is going to expect their boyfriend to stage his proposal like a Broadway production number if he has any hope of wooing her. How long till one of these videos ends with the unsuspecting victim staring into their beloved’s sweaty, exhausted face and responding to “Will you marry me?” with “Let’s see how many hits this gets”?

3. I’ve got better things to do. In every stupid video like this, there’s always phalanx of loved ones backing the dude up. And for what? They’re not the ones getting married. But now every time one of my friends falls in love, I’m supposed to go buy a solid color tank top, per your wardrobe demands, then rehearse an elaborate dance routine at, according to the credits, at least two different locations? And you’re making me stand next to Mike? I hate Mike. He’s way too into this, and he has a crush on you, don’t you know that? This is killing him. Geez, now you’ve made me feel sorry for Mike.

How about you come up with a plan that involves you and your boyfriend, and the rest of us will show you how happy we are for you by dancing at your wedding and only at your wedding? I love you guys, but honestly, that’s all I’m signing up for. You want to propose to your boyfriend? Great, good luck with that. Send me a Save the Date card when the time comes.

4. People be shoppin’!  I pity those poor customers at Home Depot who just wanted to buy some lumber, only to find the aisle blocked off for a third-rate knockoff of some 80s Paula Abdul video. Couldn’t you have done this in the parking lot, or better yet, your own back yard? As if people don’t hear enough lame excuses from their contractors about why their project was delayed. Now they have to listen to them babble on about some shitty midday rave going on at Home Depot. Yeah, right.

5. Just come on! The song is by Betty Who? Betty Who who? And it’s used with permission? Gee thanks, Betty Whoever-You-Are. That song nobody’s ever heard of is so important to these dudes that they name-check it at the beginning and end of their video. Turns out Betty Who is an up-and-coming Australian pop star who — dammit, I fell for the trap!

C’mon, who’s really behind this video? Didn’t you people learn anything when Jimmy Kimmel came through the door with a fire extinguisher and told us that twerk failer was really a professional stunt woman? Viral videos are as fake as reality TV. The joke’s on you! Soylent Green is made out of people! IT’S PEOPLE!!!!

Notwithstanding the foregoing, my heart goes out to the happy couple. Mazel Tov!

The Two Stages of Grief (for Preschoolers)

Sutton and Matilda

Sutton and Matilda

We did a little bit of bargaining in the wake of my daughter’s fish’s death – if that’s what you’d call it when we offered to get her a new fish, and five seconds later she was thinking up names for it. Other than that, my kids skipped right over denial, anger and depression and went straight to acceptance.

This morning, we brought home Sutton’s new fish, Matilda, named after her favorite book, musical and second-favorite movie (behind James and the Giant Peach). Before we’d even transferred Matilda into her permanent tank, Sutton was thinking up names for the next fish she’d get after Matilda died. (The current front-runner for the next fish’s name: Sutton). Then, Bennett started thinking up names for the fish he’d get after his current fish, Sulley, died. (Current front-runner: Bennett).

Drew and I tried to keep the conversation about fish, but it didn’t take long before the kids made the connection that people die, too.

“Someday, I’m going to die,” Bennett announced. He sounded almost happy about it, like he was just pleased to be included in something that had been such a big topic of conversation for us. Little did he know he was uttering my worst fear out loud.

“Not for a long time,” we assured him. “A long, long, long, long, long, long, long [I actually think we're still saying 'long'] time.”

Sutton took it a step further. “Someday, Roald Dahl is going to die,” she said.

“He already did, actually. Quite a few years ago.”

“Oh. Well, I think he left some stories for after he died.”

“Yeah, that’s the nice thing about when people die. They always leave behind wonderful things for us, whether it’s their books or the memories they gave to all the people who loved them.”

There’s something both wonderful and incredibly disturbing about seeing my kids so at peace with death. I know they don’t fully understand what they’re talking about, and that’s part of what makes me so uncomfortable. I’m torn between changing the subject and shaking them violently and screaming, “Death is everywhere, and it’s permanent and horrible and it’s coming for all of us and sometimes, it’s all I think about! Fear death! Fear death!”

But I calm myself down, acknowledge what they say and try to move on, because they’re still processing what happened, and for now at least, I’m the one who has a problem with it, not them. It’s probably the right course to take, but it does require me and Drew to have our guts ripped out over and over from the things they come up with. Like this gem, from Bennett, which I typed down verbatim after he said it:

“The day before I die, I’m going to say goodbye to you guys and I’m going to do a happy dance and then I’m going to die and you’re going to drive me to the cemetery.”

I hear things like that coming from my 4-year-old’s mouth and wonder how I can go on. Then I realize what beautiful and amazing kids I have, and I picture my son doing his happy dance, and once again, I’ve forgotten about death and I’m thinking about life instead.

Not All Fish Die. Right, Daddy?

sullyanddolos2There’s something particularly disturbing about being on vacation with your family, getting a cell phone call and looking down and seeing that it’s coming from your house.

In this case, it was our cleaning lady, and she had some bad news.

“Jerry, Sutton’s fish is dead,” she told me, sadly. We’d left a 7-day gradual-release food pellet in his tank to cover our absence, but either something had gone wrong with it or it was just his time to go. She graciously offered to run out to the pet store and buy a replacement for us. Drew and I talked it over, then decided we’d handle the arrangements when we got home.

Thanks to some advice I got on Facebook, we decided to be honest with the kids. We also decided to wait until vacation was over.

We managed to put it out of our minds for the rest of the week, unsure how our sensitive, loving little girl would handle her first direct experience with death. Tonight, as we pulled into our driveway, I started to feel sick. It was time to face it.

I can’t claim that my fear of death is more intense than anyone else’s. You all think about it pretty much every single second, right? Right?? I’ve written before how worried I am about my kids finding out about it. Death is one thing I can’t protect them from. I’m not a religious person, so I don’t plan to tell them about Heaven or Nirvana or the idea that hey, things are actually even better when you die!

Death happens. It sucks. Everything else is a mystery.

It’s taken me 42 years to achieve that much acceptance of death, and I’m still terrified of it, of all the ways it could strike me, my family or anyone else I love, at any freaking time.

Bennett named his fish Sulley, after the character from Monsters, Inc. Sutton called hers Dolos, because… well, who the hell knows. After her phase of naming all her dolls Sutton, she’d moved onto a stage where she made up the most batshit names her little mind could concoct.

Punaniñas

Popocitas

Aliberias

Gatsos

Aspatilia

I don’t know why so many of them sounded Spanish. I’m sure I’ll find out someday that these are all the names of Dora’s woodland friends or something. Until then, I’m going to keep believing she’s some kind of twisted genius.

We didn’t wait long after we got home before we took her in the room and showed her the fishtank. I really think this was the right thing to do. It was pretty obvious from looking at Dolos’ belly-up body that he’d changed, that he was gone.

“Dolos died, Honey,” we explained.

She started to tear up. Through sniffles, she asked, “Can I still feed him tonight?”

“No. He doesn’t need to eat any more.”

“Do you want to go to the pet store tomorrow, so we can replace him?” Drew asked.

She smiled, instantly happy again. “Yes!” Then, she calmed down and asked, “What does replace mean?”

Bennett got choked up, too. We all moved into the bathroom, where we reenacted the Cosby Show fish funeral scene as well as I could remember it.

“Do you know what a funeral is?” I asked the kids. “When someone dies, we gather to remember them and talk about how much we love them.” I suggested we all say something we loved about Dolos. “I’ll go first. I loved how colorful he was.”

Sutton hung her head. “I loved watching him swim.”

A minute later, we flushed him. I’m not sure anyone was as emotional as I was, because I couldn’t focus much on them. I was too busy thinking of all the other funerals I’d been to, of everyone I’d cared about who’d died and of all the funerals my kids would go to in their lives. Of mine, someday, who knows when.

I gathered the kids for one more memorial. They’ve been really fond of the movie version of “James and the Giant Peach” lately. We’d watched it in the car on our way home from the trip. They knew all the words to all the songs, and through them, I had come to as well. I realized the movie provided a perfect elegy for our departed pet, so I played the song “Family” on my iPhone, and we all sat silently and listened to it.

“Do you kids want to play with the iPad now?” I asked when the song ended.

“Yeah!” they shouted. And that was the end of our funeral.

At dinner, the topic came up again. “Not all fish die, right, Daddy?” Sutton asked.

“No, they all die eventually.”

“I don’t think so,” she said. “Only some fish die.”

“Sulley is never going to die!” Bennett said.

“No, Sulley will die, too,” I told him. “But we hope it won’t be for a long time. That’s why it’s important to show him how much we love him while he’s here.”

As we tucked Sutton into bed a few hours later, still unsure how much she understood about death, she got sad again for a moment. “Daddy, do you know who died?” she said. “My fish, Dolos.”

“I know, Honey.”

She thought for a second. “And do you know what’s another word for burp? Belch. Just like you have around your waist.”

“No, Honey, that’s a belt.”

“Oh.”

“Good night, sweetheart. I love you.”

“I love you, too, Daddy.”