This is 36: How I Got Locked Outside of My House While Accidentally Wearing a Mustache

Tuesday afternoon my wife took our kids out to run an errand. We all had the day off, since we had just returned from our vacation to Florida. I decided to stay home while they were out, as it would give me about an hour and 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to finish unpacking from our trip.

The first order of business was actually to shave my beard. I had made a point not to shave while on vacation- just one less thing to worry about in my attempt to relax for a week in the sun.

I already had several days’ stubble before we even left for Destin, so by the time we got back nearly a week later, I had a decent beard going on.

But before I shaved it off, I decided to shoot a quick video for one of my YouTube channels, which caters to young men who are freaking out about seeing the first signs of hair loss. (Yes, I make a supplemental income from that; currently about $50 a month.)

I wanted to make a video which made it seem like people were demanding I grow a mustache, which is hilarious, because obviously a white guy under the age of 40 who isn’t a cop can’t get away with wearing a mustache.

So I shaved off everything but the mustache and walk outside, where there was better natural lighting, and began shooting the video; which again, was a complete joke in itself. I like to keep my 1500 YouTube subscribers on their toes.


But after I recorded the video, I realized I had locked myself out of the house. I knew it would be more than an hour before my wife came back home with the kids.

Then down came the rain, accompanied by some light thunder and lightning. And I was barefoot too.

At least I was able to find shelter on our covered front porch. Before my phone battery died, as I was down to about 15% at this point, I figured I might as well commemorate the occasion with a video explaining, behind the scenes, what had happened.

So there you go. That’s how I ended up locked outside of my own house, in the rain, barefoot, while accidentally wearing a mustache.

This is 36.


This is 36: My Back Yard is Constantly Littered with Plastic Grocery Bags Filled with Poopy Diapers

It makes perfect sense, I’m sure. Actually, I’m confident that my story is not unique. It’s pretty simple and (assumedly) universal, really:

When our 1 year-old daughter has a poopy diaper, we reach for a plastic Kroger bag from underneath the kitchen sink, using it has an insulator for the smell. Then, without fail, I open up the back door and toss it towards the garbage bin near our fence.

Every couple of days, I have to take out a big bag of trash anyway. That’s when I pick up the 2 or 3 bags of poop to place them in the garbage bin.

What’s the point in walking out to the garbage bin every single time my daughter has a dirty diaper? That doesn’t work for the lifestyle of the Shell household. It wouldn’t be prudent.

On a daily basis, when we’re all home together, my wife is constantly running around the house in the midst of cooking meals and doing laundry, while I am constantly entertaining and occupying not only our daughter, who isn’t quite walking yet, but I am also doing my best to make sure our 6 and a half year-old son is keeping himself productive in some sort of activity.

It’s not worth the time to run outside for the sake of a dirty diaper that is already inside of a plastic bag. I’ve got too many duties that relentlessly need my attention, inside the house.

Besides, our yard is fenced in. It’s not like the neighbors can see the dirty diaper bags; not unless they specifically go upstairs in their homes then look over to our yard.

That would just be nosy.

Therefore, it remains one of our family secrets.

No one can see, so no one can know.

It’s not like I’m posting pictures of the dirty diaper bags on the Internet, bringing attention to it.

This is 36.

Dear Jack: That Time You Secretly Decided to Be a Nerf Sniper at Zeke’s Birthday Party

6 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Saturday afternoon, our family attended your classmate’s 6th birthday party at his family’s house. Mommy and I held Holly, while we sat on the covered back porch, along with the other parents.

Pretty early on into the party, Zeke’s dad brought out the Nerf mini dart guns for all the kids to run around in the back yard and shoot each other, while all the adults casually watched the chaos.

After a few minutes of the 6 year-old version of the Hunger Games taking place, I looked up from holding your sister’s hand as she walked along the patio furniture, and saw you quietly standing there on the outside of the guard rail, appearing to take aim.

I was right.

Because then, I saw you pull the trigger, hitting one of your friends in the chest as he ran across the yard. He had no idea he had been hit by the Nerf Sniper.

Then I muttered to you, “Jack, are you standing up there and shooting them without them knowing what you’re doing?”

You smiled so sneakily and shook your head, yes.

Obviously, I was proud of you. After all, it was a free-for-all. There were no rules. No one said you had to stay down in the line of fire and get shot like everyone else.

Good for you, assuming the role of the sniper.

Your idea of fun wasn’t running around, laughing with your friends. Instead, your idea of fun was winning. This was not a game at a birthday party. This was war.

By the time the others figured out what you were doing, it was time to go inside for pizza and cake.

I imagine a few years from now when your friends start having laser tag birthday parties, you’re definitely going to have an advantage.



Dear Jack: You Wrote and Illustrated Your Very 1st Original Book, “Creepy Animals” (Or As I Call It, “The Fluffy and the Furious”)

6 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

I am so proud of you. You took it upon yourself to write, and illustrate, your very first book. It had nothing to do with any assignment at school.

Sure, I knew this day would come… I just didn’t realize it would happen so soon!

But especially with you being in “A.R.” (Advanced Readers), in your Kindergarten class, you naturally have an interest in applying what you know to your already existing level of creativity.

The funny thing is, I had no idea you were even working on a book until the day you finished it. You had been working on it each day at the house after school, before I got home.

With no further ado, here is your very 1st original book, Creepy Animals:

One day there was a new monster. The monsters were creepy.

They were furious. And were fluffy.

They were dangerous and could fly. They had horns.

There could be creepy birds. They had sharp, pointy teeth.

There could be spidercats. And thorns.

And weird animals. And sharp, and pointy spikes.

The end.

Right away, I appreciate how the story begins in suspense, as we are presented with a new monster. Then we learn he is one of many monsters.

The suspense continues, and the curiosity arises, as we wonder why the monsters are so furious. Somewhat ironic is the fact that these same furious monsters are also fluffy. Typically, things that are fluffy are not also furious, but these monsters are definitely the exception to the rule!

We read on to learn how prevalent horns are among these monsters- and we are even given a mention of spidercats!

These are weird animals, indeed.

Thank you so much for writing and illustrating your first book. I know there will be many more. I especially look forward to us eventually working on a book together- where I write it and you illustrate it.

That’s going to be awesome!



This is 36: Without Saying a Word, My 1 Year-Old Daughter Convinced Me to Buy Her a Stuffed Animal from Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2

Last Saturday as our family was out running errands, since our plans to visit the Nashville Zoo for my daughter’s 1st birthday were cancelled due to the rain, we ended up at the classiest Wal-Mart I’ve ever been to in my life: It’s just the one in our neighborhood; we can basically see it from our house.

My wife and I were counselling our son as he tried to pick out the best birthday present for one of his classmate’s birthday parties coming up at Chuck E. Cheese’s. I was holding my daughter in sort of a rickshaw position as we followed my wife and son down the toy aisles.

As we journeyed through the classiest WalMart this side of the Mississippi, my daughter was over all not impressed by the toy selection that she was being exposed to, as it all was for “older kids”. Like Shopkins and action figures kind of stuff.

But then, she saw it…

A fury face on the shelf. She was mesmerized.

It was a Hero Plushy of the mutant raccoon named Rocket, from the cast of the upcoming movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2.

But it wasn’t just a normal stuffed animal. It had a tiny body and a big head, like a caricature.

My daughter’s tiny hand was the perfect size for the undersized body of the toy.

She could easily hold it like an ice cream cone.

By this point, my wife had already picked up on what was going on, as she had turned around to see the two of us petting an arguably ridiculous stuffed animal.

It was pretty obvious at this point that not only would my 1 year-old daughter not have to even attempt to ask for the toy, but that I myself wouldn’t even have to have a conversation with my wife about the fact we were about to spend $10 on a Marvel character plush toy.

My wife’s only attempt to thwart the inevitable was to reach out a grab a pink girly-looking pony stuffed animal that cost $6.

But our little girl definitely didn’t have the same glimmer in her eye as she did for the Guardians of the Galaxy raccoon that she was already turning back to.

As if I needed to give a seemingly legitimate excuse as to why we were about to make this impulse purchase, I suggested to my wife:

“We can let this be my gift to her for her birthday.”

I have to give my little girl what she wants. Especially when it’s a cool mutant raccoon from a Marvel movie.

This is 36.

This is 36: The Story behind My 1 Year-Old Daughter’s 1st Face Palm at the Mexican Restaurant

By now you’ve probably already read the first entry in This is 36, which explains the motivation behind this new series; how being surprisingly pie-faced on my 36th birthday at Tito’s Mexican restaurant in Spring Hill, TN serves as the perfect symbolism of my life at age 36.

As my wife and I were looking through the other pictures from that night, we found another photo that actually has enough merit on its own.

The picture is from when I decided I wanted my wife to take a picture of me with our kids, after we had finished our sopapillas for dessert. I of course am wearing the cartoonish Mexican birthday sombrero, while my son is undeniably proud to be squeezing his little sister, who is smooshed in between us.

Yeah, I know… The real reason she had her hand on her face is that she was getting tired, as her bedtime was growing near.

But if you’re looking at the picture without knowing that, it easily looks like she is doing a “face palm”, as if to communicate her embarrassment to be stuck in the middle of the two of us goofballs.

It’s just hilarious to imagine a little 1 year-old girl face palming, as if she’s embarrassed to be seen in public with us.

After all, this picture is a pretty accurate illustration of what life is like for her. So much of her time is spent alongside her brother and me. We naturally feel obligated to entertain her, serving as her constant court jesters.

Ultimately, if she doesn’t learn to adopt the silliness which surrounds her, she will likely be doing the face palm a lot more as she grows into her tween years.

But I have a feeling, she will end up joining us in the daily circus.

This is 36.

This is 36: The Story behind the Pie-Face Picture on My 36th Birthday

Last Thursday night as my birthday came to a close, I posted a picture on Facebook that was taken just a couple of hours earlier. The caption simply read, “This is 36.” The picture showed me right after I had been pie-faced by one of the servers at our favorite restaurant, Tito’s.

Indeed, it caught me by complete surprise. I had no intentions that night of being pie-faced for the first time in my life. Sure, one of the waiters leaned over to me and muttered into my ear right before they sang “Happy Birthday” and told me, “We’re going to throw pie in your face… is that okay?”

I just smiled and nodded my head, assuming he was just joking. I still didn’t take him seriously even when he told my wife, “Grab your camera. You will want a picture of this…”

Actually, I didn’t even realize what had happened until I tasted the whipped cream. My mouth just happened to be open with the pie came at me. I never even saw it happen, as the girl who did it secretly had the pie behind me.

(And yes, I just have to count this as a “fortunate accident”, as consuming whipped cream violates my vegan lifestyle…)

Even after 24 hours and two showers, I was still sort of able to smell the whipped cream. It got pretty high up my nose.

To me, that image is the perfect concept of how I interpret being 36 years old.

I had just turned 18 when I graduated high school in 1999. That means just as many years have passed since then. I am 36.

And I am proud to be 36. I embrace change. I accept the minor (or are they major?) evolutions in my personality that come along with being age 36. I gladly commemorate what this seemingly insignificant age symbolizes to me.

It’s like getting surprisingly pie-faced, then instantly laughing because you already know that it’s the little things in life that become the big things.

This is 36.