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Throw Away Your Parenting Books

Illustration for article titled Throw Away Your Parenting Books
Illustration: Chelsea Beck (GMG)
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Your letters:

Drew (not me):

My wife and I are expecting our first child. In my limited reading up on the subject of babies and parenting, I am getting irrationally annoyed by the use of the common noun “baby” without an article. For example, “place baby in the crib,” “support baby’s neck,” “how to feed baby,” etc.


This is insane. It’s “a” baby. It’s “the” baby. It’s “your” baby. It’s “your baby momma’s” baby. But it for damn sure isn’t just “baby.” Is this just some conspiracy by BIG BABY to drive potential parents preemptively insane? Can we blame the British or Canadians for this? They love to “attend university” or “go to hospital,” after all. Somehow they’re in on this. This needs to stop.

It’s probably a leftover style affect from more clinical texts. Volume 82 of Gross Anatomy or whatever is probably like, “If baby’s saliva turns black, amputate tongue and place on surgical table.” When you want the text to be REALLY dry and boring, you forgo definite and indefinite articles entirely. You’re reading an owner’s manual for a child, so it’s gonna sound like one.


You didn’t even mention the illustrations, which are the fucking WORST. All of those illustrations look like they were drawn by a correspondence school dropout who got freelance work for a softcore erotica publisher. Between those drawings and the pedantic awkward-ese where they refer to the baby as “baby,” as you point out, and it’s like they don’t WANT you to have children. They want you to tear your chest hair out and go running nude down the highway instead. I don’t get it. I have three kids and it’s not a TOTAL downer. I am not perpetually trapped in a 1982 educational film strip. I may be a dad but I’m still a modern human person. All of these books feel like remnants.

And honestly, you don’t really need them. I’ve read a few parenting books and most of them are repetitive, boring, and unhelpful. Every kid is different and you’re almost always better off learning on the fly, seeking out advice when you need from sources you trust: other parents, your pediatrician, a hasty Google search at 3 a.m., etc. You and baby will be just fine.

By the way, just to ruin your day, “Rock-A-Bye Baby” also refers to the baby as just “baby,” which is mildly irritating. It’s like they WANT you to picture Ansel Elgort falling instead of an actual infant.


What is the most enjoyable way to eat; slowly and savouring every bite, or shoveling that shit down as fast as possible? Long term health effects should not be considered but immediate effects can. #TEAMSNARF


Oh, I eat way too fast. I don’t fuck around. I want that food in me, and I want it in me quickly. Obviously, this is a bad approach to eating that can lead to weight gain. In order to maintain portion control, you should really eat slowly, take small bites, masticate those bites down into a very fine paste, calmly swallow it all down, pause for a moment to ponder mankind’s purpose, and then repeat the process. I do not do this. I eat like a nuclear attack is imminent. I try to fill as much of my mouth with the goodness as I can, stuffing my cheeks like a fucking chipmunk storing acorns for the winter.

On a primal level, big bites are much more satisfying. According to Mary Roach’s excellent book Gulp, the brain’s pleasure centers reward you for the act of swallowing food. It’s the reason you won’t feel satisfied if you chew up food and then spit it out. You have to put the food down in order for your Gluttony Gene to kick in and release those fat boy endorphins. The bigger the gulp, the better. That’s why, when I’m eating spaghetti, I twirl up a bite the size of a haystack on my fork and then wolf it down. These are ancient instincts that served man well back when he was hunting woolly mammoths and shit. The brain wants you to eat a lot because you’ve got a full day of hunting and chasing saber-toothed tigers ahead of you. That is no longer the case now. Now I eat five bowls of ramen in half a minute and then sit around playing Solitaire Grand Harvest for two hours. All the physiological processes that used to serve your body well now work against it.


I’ve already set a terrible example for my kids. If I serve my daughter dinner first, she’ll clean the plate before the last plate on the table is set down. We have a rule that no one can start eating until the entire table is served, but she gleefully disregards it. Then she gets up just as I’m sitting down and I start yelling at her. And my wife and older son both eat slowly and meticulously, which drives me NUTS because I finished dinner 10 minutes ago and could really go for an ice cream sandwich. Pace of eating issues can really tear a family apart. Eat slower if you can. Then fail and go back to sucking that shit up like a Roomba.


Let’s say there’s a Heaven, and it’s just as perfect and wonderful as you could imagine. Anyone can get in, but there’s one condition. Before you enter Heaven, you are ushered into a room and forced to watch, on a giant movie screen, a film showing every single time you’ve ever masturbated in your life, in its entirety. If you found out about this before you died, would it affect how much you jacked off during life? Also, how long would the average Masturbation Movie be?


It would have absolutely no bearing on how much I pleasured myself here on Earth. In fact, when I get to heaven and they make me watch the movie, I’ll ask if I can jack off TO that movie. I’ll ask all the angels to clear out of the auditorium so I can watch it pantsless. I have no shame at all. Why even HAVE a heaven if I can’t be a complete pig there?

I’d also ask for a fully stocked buffet in the theater because obviously the movie would run on a bit. Let’s say it takes me a couple minutes to do my business, and that I do it twice a day. Now project that pace over the course of 70 years of onanism and it looks like I’ll have spent 1,703 hours helping myself to myself. Christ. I could have learned sailing knots that whole time. Anyway, that figure is almost certainly low given the inevitable extended sessions that come with being a horny teen, so I’d be trapped in that room for a few months. But what is that compared to the rest of eternity, really? It’s nothing. Gimme a free bag of churros and I’ll gut it out. I’m as vain as the next guy, so watching myself crank hog isn’t the most punishing endeavor.



How old is too old to slip and slide?

Probably right now, whatever age you happen to be. I bought one for my kids that had a little splash pool at the end. It was really just a plastic sheet with some holes punched in it, and it was not designed to support someone of my size. I don’t think I slid at all. I just landed on that tarp and stuck to it like it was flypaper. The little plastic stakes they give you to hold the slide in place almost immediately tore away. Those things are for kids. Kids can glide across the sheet because they’re very light and pliable. You are not. If you’re a parent, you will not get up from that thing if you try to join in on the fun.


That’s why I’m gonna start a GoFundMe to raise money for a grownup slip and slide that’s the length of a football field and sits three feet above the ground. It’s lined with a proprietary emulsion of water and baby oil. And if you get stuck, a series of undulating coils massage you down the track and into a full-sized hot tub at the very end. There’s also a swim-up bar. This slip and slide will retail for $4,500 and would break after six uses. WHO SAYS NO?!


My wife has no regard for using the intended knife for the right job. She’ll happily cut up an apple with a bread knife, cut cake with our santoku, and grab a boning knife to cut a pat of butter for the skillet. She will also use her random apple cutting knife choice DIRECTLY on the granite countertop. No cutting board. I have tried to explain that each knife has a designed purpose and cutting directly on the counter is bad for the edge and will shorten the life of the knife but her response it “Why does it matter as long as it gets the job done?” Do I need to get over this or should I have her committed?


If you’ve already talked to her about it and she ignored you, I don’t know what more you can do. You’re gonna have to surreptitiously take over all knife duties. Grab the proper knife and cutting board before she even has a chance to ruin your countertop, and then slice and dice with abandon, offering passive-aggressive commentary as you go. “Wow, this serrated knife is PERFECT for cutting tomatoes. Hardly any mess at all! And look at that clean, shiny counter! Isn’t it nice when it’s free of blemishes, DARLING?” Then she’ll grab a paring knife and stab you with it, and then you’ll be like, “See now you should have used the butcher knife for this.” Then she’ll twist the knife and your aorta will rupture and spurt blood all over the granite, and then you’ll be like, “Aw man, will you look at THAT? That’ll never come out!”

Seriously though, no one likes to be hectored. It only makes them dig in their heels. All you can really do to get loved ones to change their behavior is model good habits yourself. That way, they’ll SEE that it’s better to use a bread knife to cut bread instead of, say, a grapefruit knife. I have better habits now than I did 20 years ago, and that’s because my wife clearly demonstrated to me that life is more pleasant when you, I dunno, do the dishes instead of leaving them in the sink for a month. I used to live like a fucking raccoon. She showed me a better way, just as you must with your beloved knife goon of a wife.


By the way, I’ve definitely used the wrong knife for the job because the right knife was already in the dishwasher and I was too lazy to wash it. Ever make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich using a carving knife? Don’t.


How old currently is the first person who will have their entire life- from birth to death- documented on social media? I assume my kids will but my oldest is almost four and I think she is probably too late to be the first.


Well, Facebook was founded in 2004 and MySpace was founded just the year prior. But you can go back even further to a bunch of shitty sites that existed as social networks before the term ever existed. A lazy Google search turns up Six Degrees as the first social networking site, and that was founded in 1997. And there was absolutely someone out there inane enough to post photos of vacation cocktails and stick their baby on that site and be like, “The greatest gift in the world is little Jaxton’s laughter. We’re truly blessed.” Modern technology exists chiefly to serve mankind’s horniness and its vanity, so the moment someone COULD send baby photos out into the void, they did. That means there’s probably a 21-year-old out there who can find their own baby photo by plugging a defunct URL into the Wayback Machine.

I don’t know what the effect would be of living your entire life online. Everyone is voluntarily participating in a very large experiment to see what happens where everyone is a public figure at all times. The current state of the world suggests it’s gonna end, uh, poorly. But maybe that’s just a bunch of old-fart cane-shaking on my part. The most tired shit in the world is accusing millennials of being too self-obsessed, and the most self-obsessed person on Earth today is a 72-year-old man who doesn’t use email. So I dunno, maybe the Truman Show–ing of humanity is no big deal and we were all fucked from the get-go anyway. VERY REASSURING.




So it’s looking like Trump has been compromised by Russia. I assume the “pee tape” exists, but I can’t see that bothering a man with no shame. How bad is the real blackmail?


Oh I think that’s all hiding in plain sight already. No one in America would do business with Trump because he’s a liar and a deadbeat, so he went to Russia and borrowed a fuckload of money from shady oligarchs, got in over his head, and now he’s sucking Putin’s dick so that he doesn’t have to pay any of it back. Oh, and Putin helped him win. I’m not even sure Trump is conscious of any of this; it’s why nailing him is always trickier than you’d think it would be. He’s stupid and vain enough to be like, “This guy Putin is a champion of my businesses and that’ll make America strong!”

Whenever Mueller finally wraps up his investigation, there’ll be HUNDREDS of pages of hard evidence of this, but there won’t be a piss tape, and so it’ll all get shrugged off by Trump voters and even by people like me who KNOW Trump is crooked but also wanted to see him personally humiliated on tape. Somehow, documented proof of the selling out of America will end up being a letdown, and Congress won’t do fuck all about it. Again, very reassuring.



Like any good human, I prefer my steak rare. Is there any way to reheat leftover steak without it cooking further?


I usually slice it super thin and then nuke it for just a few seconds. You might get a little extra gray at the edges, but the center stays pink and the meat gets nice and warm. Also, the fat goes from white back to translucent, so you won’t feel bad about eating it again. I have eaten cold white fat in the past. It’s not a line you wanna cross.


What’s the longest fire pole you would be willing to descend?

Are we talking in the event of an emergency? Or I’m just sliding down a pole for the fun of it? I slid down a 10-foot pole at my kid’s playground and it was every bit as unpleasant as I remembered from my childhood. Either you slide down that thing at terminal velocity, or your inner thigh INSTANTLY sticks to the pole and you slide down in little staccato bursts, each one causing more chafing than the last. Nothing like having your skin pulled! At no point in the ride down did I feel like I was having a good time. So I’m probably not joy-poling from any higher than a couple stories up.


If it’s an emergency and I gotta slide down a 20-story firepole to escape a deadly acid cloud or something, I would probably stand in front of the pole for 10 seconds, try to summon the courage to slide down, and then I would burn to death because I hesitated too long. Not my preferred way to go.


With the stuff about players being forced to stand for the anthem and the increasing number of suicides from brain-injured players, are you getting closer to quitting the NFL? What would it take for you to stop watching/caring?


I’d need my team to win a title. I’ve been waiting for fucking decades for my stupid team to get over the hump, and I refuse to admit that it’s a sunk cost, especially when they got to within a game of the Super Bowl last season. I’m not going anywhere until the Minnesota Vikings win a championship, which means I’ll be patronizing this stupid fucking league until the day I die. Also, I make a living writing about sucky NFL teams, so I would need all of you to openly demand I start writing about shitty La Liga teams instead, and that’s not happening anytime soon (speaking of which, it’s probably time you started sending in submissions to me for Why Your Team Sucks; include “WYTS” and your team in the headline or else your email will be left orphaned on the side of the road). I’m thoroughly compromised when it comes to the NFL. It’s too late for me. Save yourself while you can.

It’s all a shame because you and I both know that football has its share of redeeming moments. Last February’s Super Bowl was absolutely riveting. But those redemptive moments are getting fewer and farther in between because of this league’s avarice and naked stupidity. Wait until you see what happens this season why they try, and fail, to implement the new helmet rule. No one knows how the fuck to officiate this game anymore. It’s already made for some horrible television, and it’s only gonna get worse. A lot of people enjoy hating the NFL now more than they enjoy enjoying it. Between that and the anthem garbage, the season is gonna be a complete fucking shitshow, and viewership is gonna erode even further. I can’t wait to be in a terrible mood literally every Sunday. It’s gonna be a true blessing.



When you’re looking for a recipe online, why the hell is there always some one-page preamble explaining the history of how this recipe got here and why it is so good? Can’t these recipes stand on their own anymore?


No, because this is the internet. Why use 200 words to explain something here when 2,000 will do? That’s always been my personal credo. People write 1,000-word essays on TWITTER, of all places. They’ll overstuff anything they can.

Anyway, there are a couple reasons why recipes are getting more needlessly verbose. First of all, there are a billion celebrity cookbooks out there, and all of those cookbooks aim to imbue each of the recipes with the celebrity’s personality. It’s not just meatloaf, it’s Jenny McCarthy’s Super Immune Boosting Down Home Meatloaf. There’s self-branding IN the food now, and it’s a way of tricking people into thinking a recipe is special when it’s boilerplate garbage.


And the worst part is, it kinda works. If I ever see an unadorned recipe online, I’m like, “Well how do I know this is good?” I need it to have at least four forks on AllRecipes and I need the long-winded intro to say, “I got this recipe from my pappy and it’s AMAZING.” Then my brain is like, “Oh wow now that sounds DELICIOUS.” Sometimes, I have all the cognitive abilities of a fucking dog.

Also, most recipes are stolen, so giving the “history” of it is how people avoid getting sued.



So the other day my girlfriend got furious with me for farting when we were on the couch together (It was one of those small silent ones and it was not got good). I laughed it off thinking she was just annoyed at the smell, but she was actually offended. She has two older brothers and her dad is your average American football watching, beer-drinking guy, so I did not see this response coming. She claims her dad never farted in front of her, and I find this hard to believe. Is she a crazy person? Am I an unwashed savage? What if we move in together, am I doomed to a life of holding in farts? What if we have kids?!?


Well was it just ONE fart? Because I’ve definitely played the fart game once too often and had my wife be like, “Okay seriously, it’s not funny anymore. That’s disgusting.” And that’s fair. You can take farting too far. But if your lady is getting legitimately mad over ONE fart, that’s completely unreasonable. That’s Trump behavior. “Oh, my mother never pooped. It was beneath her.” If you’re gonna love and accept one another, you also have to accept the occasional fart. That’s just sound logic. Life is smelly, and people who try to deny that and expect everything to smell like fresh hot cinnamon rolls all the time are living in a FANTASY WORLD.

What happens if you get sick and become incontinent? Will she blanch at changing your colostomy bag? What if you get Mad Farting Disease? All the poopy and barfy and farty times in a relationship are bonding moments. I’ve been there for my wife when she’s been sick as dog and hunched over a toilet, and she’s been there for me when I’ve gotten too drunk and barfed all over the wall. Only one of those instances was eminently preventable, but I’m gonna choose to ignore that fact. We’re a TEAM, dammit. Every man is an unwashed savage, but if you’re willing to curb some of your worst habits, she should be willing to endure the occasional beer fart. I’m sorry but I think you’re gonna have to start farting at will in front of your girlfriend now to determine if she truly loves you for you or not. I’m sure it’ll go over well.


Email of the week!


Back in the middle of the last decade I owned what was then Guatemala’s only Irish pub, Reilly’s Irish Tavern. Well, part owner anyway, but I ran the place and had a ton of fun doing it. Because Guatemala didn’t and still really doesn’t, enforce immigration laws, I would just pop over the border to Honduras in a tourist shuttle microbus every 90 days to renew my tourist visa and chug a ton of crappy Port Royal cervezas instead of the equally shitty Gallo beers I chugged in Guatemala every night while “supervising” the bar staff.

It was on one of these visa renewal jaunts that I felt sick. The problem was I was in a little Daihatsu or similar Japanese microbus crammed with a bunch of other people, including my new girlfriend who that I was trying to impress with my international savoir-faire, not literally crap my pants in front of.

I knew that there was a bathroom at the border crossing, so was doing my best to keep things under control until then. The problem was that we were still about 45 minutes away. Then ew girlfriend notices my discomfort and asks if everything is okay. I smile and try to act smooth, but things are not getting better.

Finally we get to the border, and I sprint for the bathroom, which is a little hut in between the Gutemalan and Honduran border posts. A border guard starts to yell at me, as I am technically leaving the country without getting my passport stamped. I go to open the door, but it’s locked. The border guard, now laughing, yells at someone across the street, and motions for me to wait. The guy with the key starts to walk over to the bathroom, but he has a club foot and it takes him approximately three fucking years to get to me. He tells me that I have to pay three Quetzales, about 35 cents, to shit. I just shove all my change in his hand, and then he opens the door. It’s just a hole in the ground with flies coming out, but I don’t care. It looks like the goddamn Taj Mahal to me.

Business done, I use the bit of newspaper I have in my back pocket to wipe off my butt, and also the heels of both feet, which I also crapped on while squatting. I come out, and every single person in the area is laughing at me. The big stupid gringo with the shits. Whatever. I feel like I just conquered the world.

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.

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