My hair. It started falling out at an alarming rate when I was living in France. I was 21, with unnecessarily long locks. I thought I was rock star. For the twenty years that followed, I’ve experienced the seven stages of hair loss. Here they are – told through 80s songs.
1. "Holding Back the Years" - Simply Red
The chorus repeats, ‘I’ll keep holding on,” which is precisely what I did. I was in full-scale denial, even as the bathtub drain was sending clear and present warning signs.
2. “Look Away” – Chicago
As my hair showed signs of recession, I showed signs of shame. I walked the streets like Cersei seeking atonement on Game of Thrones. Hats and comb-overs followed.
3. “Can’t Stand Losing You” – The Police
I got mad. Really mad. My dad wasn’t bald. Neither was his dad or my grandfather on my mom’s side. I thought I was cursed. This isn’t how I envisioned my 20-something self-image.
4. “Living on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi
Okay. Desperation time. I cut my hair short (obviously it’s the weight of each strand causing follicle failure). I switched to special shampoos. Most importantly, I became an avid listener of “The Bald Truth” – a radio program the aired every Sunday night. I did all of these things in real life. It’s called logic.
5. “I Want a New Drug” – Huey Lewis
After deciding Rogaine was too messy, I got a prescription for Propecia. I popped the pill for a year or so, but when I discovered that if I ever stopped taking it, I’d lose whatever growth I had accumulated. At $40 a month, I wasn’t ready for that type of financial commitment.
6. “Don't Forget Me (When I’m Gone) – Glass Tiger
Eventually, I began to acknowledge that having a full head of hair wasn’t going to define my future identity. The white flag was raised. I replaced barbershop drop-ins with electric razor self-sessions. I purchased every attachment. I started with 3/4 of an inch and worked my way down to no attachment at all. It
7. “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” - R.E.M.
It wasn’t until I shaved my head with a straight razor for the first time that I was truly happy with how my head looked. After the shaving cream washed away – there were no weird birthmarks. No boney bumps or indentations. Just a reasonably-sized and proportional dome. I’ll always miss having hair, but I least I’m cool with the current “Man in the Mirror.”
Humans have mouths. This gives our species the unique ability to communicate verbally. Sometimes, wrongly. Three are three examples.
1. Michelle and I wanted to find an ophthalmologist (as opposed to an optometrist) for our kids. But most specialist eye doctors don’t accept kids under the age of five. So I looked up a few in our area. When I called an office in Scarsdale they said, “Hello, how I can help you?” I asked, “Um, hi, yes, do you accept little children?” Todd, who works right across from me and was unaware of my intentions, seemed concerned. He thought I might be trying to deal my children on the black market.
2. My wife, feeling charitable at Christmastime, rushed outside when she saw two guys in our driveway who collect trash for the Village of Pelham Manor. She gave them a well-earned tip for taking care of us for our six months in our new home. She greeted them by saying, ‘Thank you and Merry Christmas! You guys are the best garbage people ever!’ So much for semantics.
3. In 1998, my friend Ellen and I were hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains. At that point in my life, I had met very few people who couldn’t not speak fluent English. We’re up near the peak. It’s super windy. We meet an a fellow hiker, around our age. I ask him his name. But he isn’t understanding me. So I ask again, this time I speak slower. And much, much louder. “HELL-O! MY NAME IS ER-IC! WHAT IS YOUR NAME?” Ellen looks at me horrified. “He’s Spanish. Not deaf or retarded.”
Mastering the English language remains a work in progress.
We’ve all heard stories about rock stars who make odd requests to prop their sense of superiority. Eric Clapton toured around with a foosball table. Van Halen had the brown M&Ms picked out backstage. It’s one thing for bigwigs to behave like this, but what about everyday people like you and me? At a recent commercial shoot, a production assistant came around to our ad agency team and asked if we’d like anything to drink. This is a very cordial and customary routine at shoots. One of us asked for water. Another for coffee. Then another (usually quiet, unassuming) coworker chimed in with an oddly specific request:
“I know this sounds crazy, but do you have Honest Tea in the organic Half Tea/Half Lemonade flavor?” The assistant said, “No, but I know what you mean. I can go to the supermarket and get that for you.” This was the perfect opportunity for him to backpedal and say it’s not worth all that trouble. Nope. He doubled down: “Cool. I’d love a case of it, since we’ll be here for a few days.” He then looked over to one of us and said, “Sorry guys. It’s my one thing.” An hour later, he was drinking his Honest Tea – organic Half Tea/Half Lemonade. Van Halen and Eric Clapton and those who go on stage to perform for thousands of adoring fans – they can have their ‘one thing.’ People who make car commercials cannot.
Flash forward to today. I’m sitting in a dark room at a production company working on the post production of another commercial. An assistant just brought in our (free) lunches. I noticed that I ordered too much food. A beef and vegetable bowl, hummus appetizer and fresh pressed juice. So I asked the assistant, “Do you have anything I can take this hummus home in?” She said she’d look around. On the way out, I had the audacity to complain that the hummus didn’t come with any bread. Sure enough, an hour later, she returned – with a brand-new reusable Ziploc container that she clearly braved Broadway in Soho to find, along with fresh pita bread.
Taking my work lunch hummus (and pita bread) to-go. It’s my one thing.
Another year. Of me losing touch with popular music as I gently nestle into my fifth decade of life.
Some themes a note this year:
1. Headline of the year: The girls of Nashville are killing it. Shannon Shaw, Soccer Mommy and America’s next megastar, Kasey Musgraves.
2. Perennial performers took the year off. It used to be easy to make these lists. Pearl Jam, Radiohead, R.E.M., Jack Johnson, Coldplay, Spice Girls (ha ha). Now I find the best music by conducting exhaustive research - listening to Sirius XMU, reading blogs and tabbing through whatever Todd tells me to. I do this for 12 months to the point where I’m perfectly capable of writing a dissertation on the topic.
3. Retro indie rock will always be much appreciated by me. Stephen Malkmus has his perpetual 90s vibe. MGMT wrote an 80s-ish song that could easily have made a John Hughes soundtrack. Shannon Shaw sounds so 60s. Sorry 70s. You’re the forgotten decade. Even in 2018.
4. This year’s list is basically a ‘best new artist’ breakdown. At the start of the year, I hadn’t heard of 13 of these artists. I counted. Which means, there will probably be a bunch of one-hit wonders. Who will be this year’s Chumbawamba? Time will tell. The thing is, many of these songs weren’t even hits. They’re just good, fun, catchy songs. Isn’t that what matters most after this insane year?
Of course, I sprinkled in some humor, Trump jabs (Space Force!) and a token kids movie song. Move over Trolls, Smallfoot rules the Terchila household now.
Listen here. You might need to log in with your Google info, but you don’t need a subscription.
25. Space force - The Gregory Brothers
24. Goodbye Summer - Shannon Shaw
23. Your Dog - Soccer Mommy
22. Wonder Life - Zendaya (Smallfoot soundtrack)
21. Loading Zone - Kurt Vile
20. Just a Fool - Jim James
19. Bike Lane - Stephen Malkmus
18. Me and Michael - MGMT
17. Phone Wallet Keys - Adam Sandler
16. Shallow - Lady Gaga / Bradley Cooper
15. Whatever It Takes - Imagine Dragons
14. Look At Your Hands - Tune-Yards
13. How did this happen? - Bodega
12. Tints - Anderson Paak
11. Everybody Wants to be Famous - Superorganism
10. Wide Awake (others) - Parquet courts
09. Boys - Lizzo
08. Tinsletown Swimming in Blood - Destroyer
07. Father and Me - Flight of the Conchords
06. Charcoal Baby - Blood Orange
05. Race You To The Light - Mason Jennings
04. Make Me Feel - Janelle Monae
03. Paper Man - Ray Lamontagne
02. This Is America - Childish Gambino
01. Oh, What a World - Kacey Musgraves
“How can you assure me that these tickets are real?” I asked Will on the phone, after responding to his craigslist post that offered two tickets to the Syracuse/Notre Dame football game.
“They’re hard Ticketmaster tickets bro, and I can give you the receipt too.”
So we arranged for me to meet his sister at the train station. She arrived on time and handed me the tickets. They even had the perforated edges. They could not have looked more legit. So I gave her $160 and drove home.
The next day, I met my sister at Yankee Stadium. We were rocking our orange and blue winter hats and were ready to go. When we got to the entrance of our gate, it was a complete mob scene. A sea of fans cramped together, waiting to get through three portable metal detectors. It was hostile. The aroma of cheap beer filled the air. Everyone was growing impatient. The game was about to start.
Suddenly, empathetic fans inside the stadium came over to the closed gates and pushed them open. We all bum rushed in. There was no way the stadium staff could hold us back. We were in, on time and we didn’t even need to empty our pockets or endure a creepy security pat down. Most importantly, we never showed our tickets.
We went to our seats. Section 126, Row 14, Seats 8 and 9. They are great seats, albeit in the Notre Dame section. Late in the first quarter, Syracuse was already down by double digits. Then things took a turn for the worse. Three guys came into our row holding tickets that said, “Section 126, Row 14, Seats 7, 8 and 9.”
Someone had fake tickets. Take a guess who. Your choices:
A. Notre Dame fans who drove 700 miles with laminated tickets you might see at the Super Bowl
B. Me – the guy who bought his on craigslist well under face value.
A flurry of texts ensued from me to Will (hmmm, I just noticed the receipt says Jason):
As you can see, I received no response from Will/Jason. So I moved on to his ‘sister.’ I got her number when we were coordinating the exchange at the train station.
So is the end of the story. For now. I’ve reported them to Craigslist and will continue harassing them via text and calls until I get through. I’m also watching Craigslist for similarly written posts. The end goal is to catch them in the act. I’m afraid of what I might do if I get that far. Syracuse may have been trounced by Notre Dame, but this game is far from over.
I’m frugal. This is nothing new. Before I buy anything online, I search for coupon codes. In the grocery store, I. buy the peanut butter on sale even if I really want the other brand. I shopped for a new laptop for two years before finally winning a bid on eBay.
But my frugality has its limits….my eyeballs. This Groupon deal that found its way into my inbox reduces the cost of LASIK eye surgery by almost $900. Is this really the time to be looking to save – while deciding whether or not to have a procedure that will permanently reshape my cornea? No. The answer is an emphatic and resounding no.
I’d love to have corrective eye surgery someday. Almost as much as I love a sweet deal. But these two desires should never unite. I’ll skimp on which brand of salsa to buy. I’ll by wines by the dozen to get a discount. But when it comes to my eyes, I’m fine with paying full price.
In early 2016, I set off (like a crazy person) to read every Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner from present to past. I finished last week – exactly hundred years since Earnest Poole won the first award for “His Family.” To accomplish this tall task, I raided the New York Public Library system. Most of the books were available. But as I delved into the deeper decades, some books became harder to get my hands on. Shocker. So I bought a Kindle for the ones that were only in eBook form. As a last resort, I eBayed rare leather-bound copies with built-in bookmarks and gold-tipped pages. In total, this Pulitzer Project required 33 months, a few hundred dollars and about a 1000 hours to complete the task.
1945 – A Bell for Adano – John Hersey.
A story of perseverance over the Fascists in a small Italian town.
1940 – The Grapes Of Wrath – John Steinbeck.
I refused to read this in high school (along with every other assigned book). Reading it now, it’s depressing yet uplifting. Descriptive yet efficient. The last few pages are surprising and more emotional than any other book on this list. Also, it’s about conquering the American Frontier – which is my favorite theme that pops up in many great novels on the list (1950’s “The Way West” by A. B. Guthrie Jr., 1959’s “The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters” by Robert Lewis Taylor and 1986’s “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurty).
1937 – Gone With The Wind – Margaret Michell.
Perhaps you’ve heard of this one. Scarlett and Rhett are the best romantic duo in American fiction history. It touches on everything. Romance. War. KKK. Progress. Slavery. Great dialogue. Classic and unforgettable. This was one of many books that I’d call ‘soap opera novels’ – centered around strong yet flawed female protagonists. Others worth reading are 1942’s “In This Our Life” by Ellen Glascow and 1931’s “Years of Grace” by Margaret Ayer Barnes.
1928 – Bridge of San Luis Rey – Thornton Wilder.
The story opens in 1714, as the finest bridge in all Peru collapses and five people plunge to their death. The rest of the novel tells the stories of each of these people that led up to that day of demise. Very conceptual and great storytelling.
1918 – His Family – Earnest Poole.
The first winner and very deserving. Roger must raise his three daughters by himself in early 20th Century New York City. Sounds fun, right?
So what are best novels on this best-of list? Gun to my head, here are my absolute favorites. The best books all come from the first and last few decades. What’s up with that, 1940s-1990s?
5. 1940 Grapes and Wrath (mentioned above)
4. 1937 Gone with the Wind (mentioned above)
3. 2003 Middlesex
Strange, some might say controversial, but progressive and solid storytelling.
2. 2001 Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
If you work in a creative industry, you’ll relate. It’s about identifying and following your passion.
1. 1990 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
Sexually graphic, coming of age. NYC based. Wonderful read. It’s articulate, culturally relevant, amusing and a book about the American Dream that most people have never heard of.
So that’s it. I’m done. Now I need a new hobby. Maybe I’ll finally finish my own book. Or, I’ll just eat potato chips and binge on whatever I can find on Netflix. Who knows.
Back tight. Eyes weary. 600 miles into a U-Haul trip from Western Pennsylvania to Wheeling, West Virginia to Westchester County. All I wanted to do was get home, eat a hot meal, tuck my kids in bed and watch the season finale of Better Call Saul with my wife. Instead, I got a phone call from her, 40 miles from home.
“We don’t have hot water and the heat isn’t working.”
I got home. Being the handyman that I am, I went down to the basement to do a diagnostic. That’s the right word, right? Yep. The hot water tank and boiler were still where they’re supposed to be. What do I do now? It was 9:00 on Sunday night. So I reached out to my repairman – my step-father on Skype. We (he) figured out the pilots on both were out. He told me to call the gas company and schedule an appointment for the morning.
Michelle called the gas company and told them our problem. We were surprised at their response.
“Take all members of your family outside. An emergency responder is coming to you home right now. Could be a gas leak.”
He guy arrived halfway through the episode, right when Slippin’ Jimmy was arguing to get his law license reinstated. We didn’t go outside. It was cold, the kids were sleeping and we couldn’t be bothered. But guess who did come outside – several of our neighbors when they saw the emergency flashing lights of the truck. The street was lit up like a Fourth of July sky. I, being male, felt a primal urge to convince this guy I know a thing or two about what’s going on. So I start throwing out terms like, “maybe it’s the thermal couple” (I saw one in an unopened pack on the boiler).
His reply, “You’re a new home owner from the city, aren’t you?” Was it that obvious?
At 12:30 am, he finally finished up. He fixed a small leak and gave me a quick tutorial. He told me the pilots most likely got blown out by a backdraft from the chimney. Tell me something I don’t know.
I thought that was the end. Then he told me I had to call an actual repairman in the morning to fix the thermal couple. I knew that thermal couple was a problem all along. Great, I’m going to have to pretend to be a handyman all over again.
Michelle and I shook his hand. Then finished watching Jimmy celebrate getting his law license reinstated and take on his new persona – the famous character from Breaking Bad – Sal Goodman.
I feel like I kind of became a new person today too. A home owner who knows at least one more thing about owning a home.
For years, we’ve had a dry erase board affixed to our fridge. It’s a practical place to write down things we need. It fits nicely next to our travel magnets and save-the-dates. When we run out of frozen kale or dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets or juice boxes or raspberries (or as my son calls them, strawberries) or strawberries (or as my son calls them, strawberries), we jot it down on the board. Could we use our phones like modern-day mamas and papas? Surely. But for this household routine, we’re all analog.
Over time, the marker has dried up and the veneer of the whiteboard has become permanently stained – rendering the board near-useless. Evidently there’s a simple fix to this to-do list dilemma – get a new one. The problem is, we never remember because it’s not written on the board. This also explains why our fridge is empty and our kids are hungry.
…if Apple will ever make longer headphones.
…what a Freudian slip was called in pre-Freudian times.
…if all Spanish music is just one long version of the song, “Yeah, baby, I like it like that.”
…why does quaalude have two As?
…why there’s always exactly one bird in every airport terminal?
…what is the exact age when it’s no longer acceptable for a guy to wear a snapback hat?
…with all their pat downs, if TSA is really making us more insecure.
…what percentage of SUV drivers actually use their cars for sports.
…when a born-again Christian dies, do you call them a dead-again Christian?
…if telemarketers block incoming spam calls.
…if people who work in HR have to lay themselves off.
My 41st birthday party is going to be awesome. It’s happening in Los Angeles, so I flew out here and am staying at the super swanky Chamberlain Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. My party planner did a great job. I heard her budget is in the millions. Must be, she rented out an entire airport hanger. There’s a food truck serving guests whatever they want and they rented tables and chairs to dine at. Tablecloths and all. There’s a buffet of snacks with Sour Patch Kids. My favorite! There’s lots of toys and games that people keep wheeling in on larger carts. And there must be some kind of performance because they built an entire stage just for today. There’s even a professional photographer and videographer capturing the entire event. The cameras they use are crazy. I’m being told they’re going to make a short film and air it on network TV. This is the best birthday ever!
Hello. It’s me. Beef. Remember my commercials from your childhood? The ones that drilled into your brain how amazing it is to eat meat. Mmmmm.
Well, guess what meat eaters of America? I’m back. And I’m featured in a new ad campaign co-conceived by the person who publishes these posts. More contemporary. Certainly more comical. Here's the best ones. Dig in.
Nicely, done. Beef.
Tolerance. It’s one of the unexpected traits you acquire as a new parent. The trouble is, it’s not permanent. When you exit certain parental stages, you revert to your former inadequate, selfish inclinations. This chart proves (what I can only surmise) is a very universal (and hypocritical) hypothesis.
There’s no such thing as friendly cries when you’re flying the friendly skies. Unless, that is, you’re the one holding the baby.
It’s not entirely the fault of my parents. It was an honest mistake. They did a reasonable job picking my first name. Eric. Conservative, yet crisp and concise. Of course my last name was predetermined. As for my middle name, they really dropped the ball on that one.
Stephen. With a ‘ph’. Yuck. Why in the world does ‘ph’ sound like ‘v’? It makes no sense. Especially considering there’s already another version of this name with a ‘v’.
I’ve been reluctantly adding this name to the middle box on IRS forms and Visa applications my entire life. I can’t erase it from my identity. But there is something I can do about it. From now on, I’m pronouncing it ‘Ste - fen.’ At least 'ph' has the phonetic value of 'f' in other circumstances (elephant, photograph). So if you call me Stephen but pronounce it ‘Ste - ven’ – I will get phery aggraphated and get rephenge by phehemently driphing a heaphy shophel into your claphicle.
So we bought a house.
Unbeknownst to me – a lifelong renter, this decision came with certain stipulations. When we showed up to the house on moving day, the yard looked nothing like it did on the day of the walkthrough the week before. It looked more like a jungle than a manicured lawn.
That’s when it hit me. Oh right. I have to take care of this now. So it was off to Home Depot. Aisle 49. I immediately asked for help - given that I haven’t yanked on a starter cord since the late 90s.
“Hi, I need to buy a lawnmower?” Out of sorts, I spoke in question form.
She responded, “Well, do you have any idea of what you’re looking for?”
I did not.
The orange-aproned assistant looked at me like I was an alien, as opposed to an adult. What grown man knows nothing about the most basic machine of modern American life?
Eventually, she recommended the Toro 22 Kohler Low Wheel Variable Speed Gas Walk Behind Self Propelled model. Cool.
So I lifted one onto a flatbed trolley thingy, checked out, loaded it into my SUV and headed home. There, I unboxed the beast, taking an hour to interpret the assembly instructions and putting it all together. That’s when I noticed something was wrong. Inside the box, there was an empty container of oil. That’s odd. So I looked a little closer at the mower. I turned it upside down. There were lawn clippings caked onto the underbelly. I bought a used mower. Fun.
So I had a decision to make. Return it and start all over. Or fire it up and forget about it. I chose the latter. I mowed the backyard like a pro. But did I stop there? Hell no. I mowed the front yard, the side yard and in between the bushes too. I turned our suburban jungle into our children’s Shangri-La.
I became a man with a mower. And it only took 22 years.
When I arrive at work each morning, I don’t enter on Madison Ave with the caravan of briefcase-carrying commuters dressed in spiffy suits. Nope, I come in the side door with my bike, and up the service elevator. It’s here every day where I meet and greet with the hard-hat wearing, callused-handed workers. They make me feel physically inferior. And they always seem happy. One older gentleman in particular. He’s from Montenegro and he operates the freight elevator on the evening shift. Since I haven’t figured out how pronounce his name, let’s call him ‘Gligor.’ Gligor is a spitting image of Gepetto from Pinocchio. His hair is bright white, his eyes wide and curious. And he loves to carve puppets out of pinewood. Not that last part, but he does love to talk about Eastern Europe. He’s very proud man of his heritage. Which led him to ask me one day where my family is from. I told him Romania. Somehow, perhaps lost in translation, he took this to mean I was literally from Romania. So now, every evening on my way down the service elevator, I get questions like:
“Where were you born?” and “Was it hard growing up there?” and “How are finding America?”
Side note: When I applied for my student visa in college, I wrote ‘Romania’ as my Country of Origin so I guess I had this coming.
One night, Gligor made a special stop on the 12th floor to introduce me to a cleaning lady. “Eric, meet Olga. She too is from Romania. I thought maybe you could talk with her.” Sorry Olga, my Romanian is rather rusty.
Does anything about me scream, or even suggest, that I’m anything other than full-blooded, over-privileged American? I’ve tried to explain, but it’s no use. To him, we’re Eastern European allies. I have no choice, as long as I’m working at this job, I’ll be known to Gligor as the Romanian bike rider on the 20th floor.
My white lie keeps growing and growing, along with my nose.
There’s laughter in manslaughter.
Every letter of my first name is in my last name. #humblebrag.
The # symbol is also called the octothorpe in some parts.
The wheels on the bus do if fact go round and round. The science is still out on the wipers going swish swish swish.
Mute buttons are a workplace safety hazard.
Sex sells and space smells.
In Pennsylvania, administering a love potion is a third-degree misdemeanor.
The word ‘left’ his hypocritical (meaning ‘departed’ or ‘remaining’). ‘Custom’ is too.
Mints can be eaten like candy.
A dentist invented cotton candy (which was also called candy floss).
If you fear Friday the 13th, you have friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobia.
If you fear long words, you suffer from hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. Which just seems cruel.
An email I received this week:
Dear Eric Terchila,
Dimensional Mobile Solutions are one of the most influential software developers, specializing in mobile and tablet platforms. Our solutions for mobile and tablet market have proved to gain extreme success, this is why we are looking to expand our team and gain more representation in USA. We offers you the position of Asset Manager(Invest). You have the unique opportunity to earn over $1380 per week, working from 9 am to 5 pm! This position does not require financial investments. The hiring process is in strict accordance with the employment laws of USA. If you are interested in this position, please send your request by e-mail.
Senior HR Manager, John Merritt
Dimensional Mobile Solutions
My reply email:
Thank you very much for your generous offer. As it turns out, I’m very familiar with your company. The work you’re developing for the new Android OS specifically pertaining to asset management is truly inspirational and revolutionary. Therefore, consider this my official acceptance. My strong background in investment strategy will translate well to this new position. I’m very happy to hear that you abide by the USA employment laws and that you don’t require any fees from me upfront. What a relief. I can’t tell you how many suspicious job offers I’ve received.
One question….$1380 per week seems fair, but does this include a lunch break and dental insurance? Not a deal breaker. Just curious.
I'm very much looking forward to this. I assume I start Monday, correct? Just let me know where to report and where to send my SS# and bank routing info.
I’m at the airport. I need to go to the bathroom. I zip in. Unzip. Do my thing. Zip up. Then zip out. On my way, I see this little gizmo on the wall – prompting me to leave feedback by physically touching this filthy screen. But wait, I just washed my hands, a full lather, whilst singing Happy Birthday (not out loud). Now this tablet of emojis are exposing me to whatever traveling germs are festering on their faces. What do I do? I had a good experience in there. Floors were mopped. Very little backsplash from the wash basins. I felt compelled to press ‘Green Smiley Face.’ So I go for it. Life is short. I cast my vote. It’s my unalienable right and privilege as an American citizen and airline traveler, dammit. Immediately after, I felt gross. So I went back in to rewash my hands. “Happy birthday to you. Hap….” As I’m walking back out, there they are again. These two faces, staring at me, judging me. What to do....