The Space Aliens

Ok. Everyone wants to hear the “Space Aliens” story. Part of the Non-Fiction Fiction series. (Totally Fiction, by the way.)

These are stories I tell my daughters on the way school. I have a half-hour, and I don’t have an editor, so I don’t know where this is going.

So… I’m on top of Mount Everest. And, I’m hunting Grizzly Bears. With an axe. Because that’s what you do on Mount Everest. You hunt. With an axe. I guess. (Work with me. I’m making it up as I go.)

Suddenly, out of the sky a space craft appears.

Me: Must be aliens. I hope they don’t abduct me.

Bam! I am abducted.

They want to know what what we eat.

Seriously? Not our history? Not our accomplishments? Not out climate?…. Really? Food?

Me: Pizza.

They order Dominoes. Because, their cell phones are much better than Verizon. From space!

30 minutes or less? 19 minutes!

So, I head out in a space suit to get the pizza, but I have trouble with the whole life-support system. You know, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Stuff like that.

I tip the guy 10 percent. (Am I too cheap? You know, outer space. Shoulda been 20)

I am totally making this up on the fly. On the way to school. And I bang my head on the side of the capsule.

Then I realize… No one fed the Grizzly Bear…

No one fed the bear!!

Crap! He’s hungry!


Did I tell you about the time I wrestled a grizzly bear?…

Ok… so the bear was hungry….. And, then…

Sorry girls. Drop off time.

(I know, I’m a bad Daddy.)

The Obama-al Snowman

It’s Back to School Time, so that means more Non-fiction Fiction stories. For those of you new to Blog, these are stories that I make up on the spot while carting the kids to school. While stuck in traffic, or going 75mph on the 134. (By the way it is THE 134, not Route 134. Not Highway 134. Not I-134. The 134.) You see, there are hurdles.

As an aside, I come from a long line of (pardon the French) Bullshitters. Enormously wild Bullshitters who could spin a yarn that was true while being completely devoid of actual facts. I hope to instill in the girls the ability to get to the Truth, Truth be damned.

Julianna (she’s eight): Daddy, Daddy… Tell us about the time you climbed Mount Everest. (Totally on her own…)

Isabella (she’s 5, and has no idea what Mount Everest is): Yeah! Mountain Everest!

Me: Oh, Wow! The time I climbed Mount Everest! Everything I’m about to tell you is absolutely true.

J: Yeah, yeah… whatever.

Me: Ok. So I was climbing Mount Everest.

Iz: Was it cold?

Me: Yes, Honey… I had a jacket

Iz: Was there a McDonalds?

Me: No, Sweetie. No McDonalds. No Happy Meals. Please, focus…

(Remember I’m making this up on the spot…)

Me: So, I have a tent and some food and some clothes. I go up the mountain.

J: Did you bring air in a can?

Me: Yes, a can of air. Can I please tell this story?

Kids (in stereo): Yes….

Me: So, I’m half way up the Mountain when I see some strange creature off in the distance.

J: Was it the Loch Ness Monster?

Me: Good try. Wrong climate. Also, non-aquatic and bi-pedal. (Not sure a five-year-old understands.)

Iz: Did it have wings? (Certain, the five-year-old doesn’t understand.)

Me: No, Honey… (dramatically), I head toward the Monster.

J: Noooooo! That’s not safe! You could get hurt!

Me: Sorry, Honey. It’s the Abominable SnowMan!!!

I keep going. Then I twist my ankle in the snow. Owww! That hurts!

J: Told ya!

Me (Before I can smack the self-righteousness off her face (totally kidding, of course)): The Monster Has Me!!!

I’m bumper-to-bumper.

Iz: Did the Obama-al Snowman capture you?

Me: “Abominable,” Honey. President Obama had nothing to do with this. And, yes, he helped me.

Iz: Obama?

Me: No, Sweetie. Please listen.

J: Helped you?!

Me: So, I’ve hurt my ankle. I can’t walk. The Monster comes up to me.

Iz: Is he going to eat you?

Me: I hope not. I don’t know. Again… Focus. He picks me up and carries me to the secret elevator. Inside the mountain!

J: How many floors did it have? Did you push all the buttons.

Me: If I could hit you and get away with it, I would. No, Sweetie. There was one button: The Top of the World!!!

Iz: Did you push it? Did you? Did you?!

Me: Well, um. Yeah.

J: Did you go with the monster? To the top?

Me: Actually no. The Obama monster had to go home and cook dinner. (Remember, I’m making this up on the spot. And, by that, I mean I am reporting the actual facts as I recall. Non-fiction fiction.)

Iz: So, you went to the top?!

Me: Yep.

Iz: What did you see?

Me: Honestly, it was kind of cloudy. Lots of fog. But, then the space aliens came.

J & Iz: Aliens!

Me: Oh look. We’re at school. Sorry, girls. Gotta move along.

J: But, Daddy…

Me: Bye!

Empire State

Our second full day in New York. The Weather Channel says that thunderstorms will hold off until 6pm. So, the Empire State Building sounds like a great choice at noon.

On the homefront, things take a while to get rolling, what with two little girls. Breakfast and all.

And, Mommy is rehearsing at Carnegie Hall, so let’s wait a couple minutes..

By the time Mommy gets back from rehearsal, we are ready to go. The Weather Service issues a caution for afternoon thunderstorms. But, it’s still a couple hours away.

I keep checking. But, we’re Ok. So, we set out.

Then, a flash flood warning…


Yeah, turns out, the Weather Channel was wrong. Wrong. 2 o’clock. Not 6 o’clock.

But, it’s too late. We’re Accidental Umbrella-istas.:


Now, Mommy and I grew up on the east coast (Hell, I born in Jersey.) So, we know a downpour. So, I know a thing or two about downpours. But, let me tell my germ-a-phobe friends about life: Walking through a New York City intersection ankle deep in…. stuff. YouDontWannaKnow.

Still… We finally made it to the Empire State Building. Yay for us!

The lovely lady told us that the observation deck was still open. But, you can’t see anything because of overcast. 40 dollars per person, please.

Here’s as close as we got…

Manti Wh’o?

Can someone explain this whole college-football-player made-up dying-girlfriend news-storm thing to me? I don’t get it.

I don’t follow college football, much less Notre Dame. But, apparently, AFTER the season was over, this story has somehow become major news, because… why, exactly?

Why is this news?!

I mean, I’ve been writing about my fictional beautiful “wife” and my hilarious “daughters” and the funny things they “say” and “do” as part of this here blog. There’s a “hot tub” and vacations in “Vegas” and “mingling” with celebrities.

Why isn’t Anderson Cooper banging on my door? Is it because I won’t be drafted in the First Round. [Or, honestly, the Last Round (too old, bad back, bad heart, etc., and I don’t play football)?]

By the way, I was duped. Online. Or, something. I’m so gullible.

Where the Hell is Oprah? I need to confess. If it will help, I’ll admit to steroids. Because, why not?

Darren Oter’o

Dispatches from Sin City

The Daddy/Daughter Caravan took it on the road last week to Las Vegas. Sin City.

For the Fun Time, this post is a bit of a departure. I’m going to add about a dozen musings into one post. At first, it seems strange, I don’t usually do the long blog post. Normally, I keep it short. Like everything else in my life. With few complaints. (Ask my wife.)

Otherwise, if I split the posts out individually, my regulars would field a massive barrage of Fun Time e-blasts all at once. And, that is not gentlemanly.



So, I’m driving us all to Vegas, we leave around 4:30pm.

Julianna (she’s seven): Daddy! She’s looking at me!

Isabella (five): No, I’m not! I’m looking at your chair.

Both: Hahahahaha!

Three hours later…

J: Daddy! She’s looking at me!


True story.



There is, of course, a discrepancy to be had at the Check-In desk. “Blah blah blah, not available, blah.” Lynn (she’s the Mommy at Daddy/Daughter Fun Time, just so ya know. She made all of the arrangements) takes no guff. We get upgraded, no charge.

A mini-suite with a king-sized bed, and an attached two-queen-bed room. Sweet suite.

We flop into bed.

The next morning brings: Observations…


For breakfast on Monday:

A new slogan for the Las Vegas buffet:
Where Ambition Exceeds Capacity.

How do I not work in the entertainment industry?… Oh yeah.


After breakfast, we make our way to the Adventuredome, the indoor amusement park at Circus Circus.

The Adventuredome. Half Adventure. Half Dome. (half-hearted attempt at a caption.)

Isabella (she’s 5) is very self-conscious of the fact that she is too short to get on some of the rides.

Iz: But, Daddy, there’s some rides that Julianna (she’s 7) can’t get on either, right?

Me: Yes, Sweetie. You know, there are some rides even I can’t get on.

Iz: I know. It’s because you’re very short, too.

Me: No, Honey. I have a bad back.

Iz: I know.

Me: And. A bad neck.

Iz: Yes…. And because you throw up.

Me: Why does everyone keep mentioning that? You weren’t even there.


Back in the room, Mommy channels her inner-interior-designer self, converting the plain, plastic cactus decor into this:

Smilin' Cactus

You might laugh occasionally at my jokes, but Mommy is really the funniest one in the family.

Isabella: Mommy, did you put eyes on the other side, too?

Mommy: No, it doesn’t have eyes in the back of it’s head.

Iz: Why?

Mommy: Because, it is not a mother.

Iz: (blink) Ummm… Will I grow eyes in the back of my head when I have a baby?

(Little kids. So gullible.)

Mommy: No, Honey. That’s just a joke… But you might.

Iz: Really?

Mommy: Maybe.

(Like I said. Gullible.)

At check out, we left the smiling cactus face that way. Maybe housekeeping will notice. We hope not. Someone will get a good chuckle.


I find it astonishing that in the 21st century, smoking is still tolerated in confined public spaces. With kids around. What up with that? Have some consideration… This is promoted as a “child-friendly” hotel.


Mommy’s Day:

Lynn and I are planning to make good on our 20th anniversary gifts to each other:

For one day — Please get these friggin’ kids off my back!


I’ll deal with the girls while Lynn gets the spa treatment, the massage, the mani/pedi, the mud bath, the cucumbers-on-the-eyes treatment. Candles. Emoluments. Shopping. Something to do with wax. Whatever. Sounds weird.

But, make no mistake. She’s no girlie girl…

She’ll be playing cut-throat Craps, Black Jack, and Texas Hold ’em tournaments.

Seriously, she knows what she’s doing. She wants to play. And… She will win. She is Fierce.

I spend the day with the girls in the Adventuredome. Riding the Frog Hopper, watching the Sponge Bob 4-D movie, and doing the bumper cars.

Meanwhile, Mommy is winning big.


It looks like Wednesday will be Daddy’s Day in Las Vegas where he can do anything he wants while Mommy tends to the child-folk. No questions asked. (Ok, a few questions asked.) It’s Mommy’s 20th anniversary gift to Daddy.


What should I do all by myself in Vegas? You know. Sin City.

Er…… I’m a deer in headlights. So, I do what most people would do: I ask my Facebook friends.

Now, I know I have nothing but the most classy, smart, eloquent and reserved friends on the Facebook.

They all say: Strippers.

(Ok, not all. Some say: Cars!)

Now, strippers (and cars) are really not my thing. No judgements. I enjoy an MPG every once in a while (we have a Prius, you know.).

But, remember: What happens in Vegas, needs plausible deniability in the real world.

So, I spend most of the day with the girls, catching the circus shows. Like the Acrobats, see my previous post.

Mommy wins more money.


I’m delighted to see that the casino is still hiring women “of a certain age” to serve as cocktail waitresses. Yay, for aging! But, seriously, are 50+ year-old waitresses required to wear the same revealing, push-up, squeeze-here, butt-bearing outfits of women less than half their age? Whatever happened to aging gracefully? Just bring me my drink.


To the chunky Brazilian guy wearing the Speedo poolside today:

Dude, it really takes balls to wear that kind of swimsuit in public. You apparently think you have them. Um… No. And, yet, ironically… You do.


What happens in Vegas

..she had a LOT more fun than the rest of us.


Ok, I can’t ignore this anymore.

Vegas is the Boob Capital of the World. (And, remember, I know what I’m talking about — I live in in Hollywood.) In Vegas, every billboard, taxi cab, magazine, cable-channel, diamond-vision, public walkway, and leaflet-giver is covered in breasts. Basically, any surface potentially visible by men.

I am inundated in breasts. The place is practically crawling with them (nice visual there, eh? I paint with my words.)

Now, I am not offended because they are being thrust in my face. (Definitely, not). I am not offended because the barrage of cleavage objectifies women. Nor, am I offended because I don’t want to expose my little girls to grown-up things until they are ready (though I really don’t).

No. I’m offended that the city has made boobs so common, so… Boring…

And that’s uncool, Las Vegas. Uncool.


Most disturbing 4th of July promo in the Calendar section of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper:

California Invasion: Bare’s mid-week pool party gets into the July 4 spirit with busloads of girls from San Diego and Los Angeles plus music from Blend Artists.

“Busloads of girls” brought in from Southern California? That’s not a party. It’s usually referred to as “Human Trafficking.”


Darren’s Vegas Clubbing Fashion Paradox:

A mini-dress can be cut too low and too high at the same time. Discuss.


We manage to get a late check-out (6pm) for only $20 per room. Mommy knows how to work the system (she’s awesome that way). We figure this is perfect — the girls will sleep most of the way home.

I load up the car. It is 112 degrees. Rethinking this check out time… Maybe early, early would be better. When it’s only 102.

Anyway, we leave, actually getting on the road at about 7:30. With some lane closures on the freeway and a couple of bathroom breaks (by the way: for those who routinely make the LA-to-Vegas trip, the thermometer in Baker has fallen into disrepair. Bun Boy has gone out of business. And, it looks like Bob’s Big Boy has closed.), it is a 6.5 hour odyssey to get home. Julianna is car sick. Isabella is crying. Mommy is desperate for quiet. Daddy is just trying to stay awake. Mommy rubs his back. Getting home is almost as difficult as getting there.

We get home around 2am.

Then, we have to unpack to car. Grrrrr.

At least Mommy is up several hundred dollars. Where’s my pillow?


So I drag myself into the office on Friday only to find my inbox filled with this:

Welcome Home! We missed you! Did you have fun? So glad you had time away! … Yeah, we need this ASAP.

10-and-a-half inches of inbox. Too tired for a “sounds like my honeymoon” joke. Too tired.


As the end of the school year, as well as the long drives to school, looms, I’m afraid I’ll lose opportunities to delight the girls in my non-fiction fiction stories (you know, stories with no basis in reality, but which are plausible enough that a five-year-old could buy into them. Like the time I lived with Santa Claus — See a couple posts below…)

As you probably know, I work a lot for the Walt Disney Studios (if you didn’t know, click the Bio button up at the top.) The girls (Julianna, 7, and Isabella, 5) love Mickey and Goofy and all of the gang. And, I admit, turns out to be a cool place to work.

Anyhoo… My tale begins:

Julianna: Daddy, tell us a non-fiction fiction story!

Iz: Yay!

Me: Ok. What do you want to hear?

J: Tell us about the time you worked at Disneyland.

Iz: Yeah! Diz-Nee-Land!

I take the next several seconds to vamp while I develop a rough outline of my story. By the way, traffic on the 170 through North Hollywood is murder at 8:00am. But once you hit the 134, it’s usually smooth sailing through Burbank. If you’re heading south on the 5, though, I recommend getting off at Victory and driving past the zoo…

(Did you see what I did there? Vamping?)

Me: Oh, let me tell you about the time I worked at Disneyland. Everything I’m about to tell you…

J: Yeah, Yeah… Totally true. Whatever. Get on with the story.

Me: Tough crowd. Anyway… When I was a kid, I worked at Disneyland.

Iz: How old were you?

Me: I don’t know. Let’s say… 7.

Iz: Julianna! You’re 7! Maybe you can work there, too!

Me: Yeah, probably not. New Child Labor Laws.

Iz: Oh… What’s that?

Me (pushing ahead): So… When I was a kid, I worked at Disneyland and got to be… (pause for the drama)… Dopey!

The Girls: Yay!

J: Daddy, was that because you’re funny looking?

Me: Uh. No.

Iz: Was it because you’re dumb? Hahahahaha!

Me: Girls, please! I was Dopey because I was a kid. They wouldn’t let me be Grumpy or Doc. Though, because of my allergies, they thought about making me Sneezy.

J: I don’t get it.

Me: Sometimes, the jokes are just for me… Moving along… So, one time Cinderella and Snow White…

J: Wait a minute. Dadda, I thought you grew up in Virginia. They don’t have Disneyland in Virginia. It’s in California. Where WE live.

Iz: Yeah. California.

Uh oh. They’re on to me. The fiction part of non-fiction fiction stories is about to be revealed.

Me: Hold on, Honey. Uh… Look at all of this traffic! Dang! I knew I should have gotten off at Victory and gone by the zoo!

J: Oooo, Daddy! Can you tell us about the time you worked at the zoo?

Me: Yes! Did I tell you about the time I worked at the zoo? Everything I’m about to tell you is absolutely true. It all happened. For real…


Fat Santa

On the drive in to school, the girls demand another non-fiction fiction story. (These are improvised stories that I sell as actually having happened.)

Julianna (7 years old): Tell us a non-fiction fiction story!

Isabella (she’s 5): Yay!

Me: What should I tell you about?

J (Coming up with a topic completely on her own): Tell us about the time you worked with Santa!

Me (stalling while I figure out a rough story arc. While bumper-to-bumper. Hey, did that guy just give me the finger? I digress.): Oh, yeah, with Santa… This is completely true. Everything I am about to tell you is true.

I: But I thought this was fiction.

Me: Well, it is non-fiction fiction.

I: So, you really worked with Santa.

Me (subtly changing my emphasis): Remember, this is non-fiction fiction. You be the judge.

The story begins:

Me: Remember the time I was abducted by space aliens.

J & I: Yes.

Me: Well, when they brought me back to earth, they didn’t know where I lived. So, they dropped me off on top of the world.

J: The North Pole!

Me: Yes, you’re right. Since I didn’t know where I was, I began to walk through the snow. In the distance, I saw a flashing red light.

I: It was Rudolph!

Me: Yes. Rudolph. I made my way through the haze, and found Mrs. Claus feeding the reindeer. “My, oh my!” she said. “You must be cold!”

I: Daddy, were you really cold?

Me: Um. North Pole… Yeah… Anyway, she took me to her house and gave me a warm bowl of soup.

J: Was it Miso Soup? I love Miso Soup!

Me: Chicken and rice… So, I tell her about the space aliens (that’s a whole other non-fiction fiction story…) When I’m done, she tells me, “My stars! My husband will help you.”

Isabella (excitedly): You got to meet Santa!?

At this point, I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this story. We’ll be at school in about 3 minutes. And I haven’t even gotten to the meat of the story. Thinking, thinking, thinking.

Me: So, Mrs. Claus takes me to the workshop. We walk through the door, and I see lots of very small people with hammers and screw drivers and drills…

J: The elves!

Me: Yes! That’s right! She leads me around a corner, and (dramatically): There. He. Is!

J & I: Santa!!

Me: Yes! I tell him my story, and he says, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

I: Does he really say that?

Me: Well, he did to me. To you, maybe not. To me, yes… So I tell him my story and how I have to get back to Los Angeles. And he says, “Well, there aren’t any planes or trains or automobiles,” (I couldn’t resist the reference. Look it up.) “…or busses or boats around here.” He pronounces: “You will fly with me on Christmas Eve!”

J: Christmas Eve?! On the sled?!

Me: Yeah, well… He calls it a sleigh. Don’t know what the difference is… Anyway… You can’t say “no” to Santa, even though it is only September, and when he says “you will fly with me,” who am I to argue?

I: You argued with Santa?

J: No, Daddy DIDN’T argue with him. That’s what he’s saying.

I: Yes, he did.

J: No, he did not!

Crap! Here’s our exit… Wrap it up! Wrap it up!

Me: Girls! Please! So, from September until Christmas Eve, I helped Santa. I was in charge of scheduling the elves. (If you are wondering, it’s a Union shop. Strictly enforced.) Finally, Christmas Eve arrives, and off we go into the night sky. We start in Asia.

J: Oooo! Japan?

Me: Yes! Then, Africa.

I: England?

Me: No, Honey. Please, I’m trying to finish my story.

Me: Finally, Santa drops me off at my house. And, as he flies away, he let’s out a mighty “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

As the teacher’s assistant approaches the car to let Julianna out, Isabella asks:

I: Daddy, Is Santa fat?

Me: Yes. Very fat.

I: Like you?

Me: Sweetie, I really am not that fat! Honestly, I’m not! Santa was much fatter than me!

I: Well… Maybe then, but now…?

(actual quote.)


I guess I really should explicitly slap a copyright notice on this:
© 2012 by Darren Otero. All rights reserved.