So we’re leaving Old Navy last weekend. We successfully executed our plan to zip out there and grab a couple of marked down swim suits for Kinz. Summer’s almost up and we figured we could find some bargains. We did. And now Kinz isn’t complaining about swim suits that have saggy drawers. Which, all in all, works out well for all involved.

On our way out Mom and I are having a conversation. Mom is in her typical spot in the co-pilot’s seat while all the girls are in the back seat of my truck. Bails is right behind me. Again, normal seating arrangement. Can’t remember the context but I think I used the term “douchebag” in reference to somebody Mom mentioned. It wasn’t Anthony Weiner. But my attempt at using the aforementioned term of derision under my breath evidently was a failure.


“What’s a doosh?” says the girl sitting right behind me. And she didn’t just ask it that innocent 9 year-old kinda way. There was genuine curiosity behind the ask along some unnecessary emphasis on the word. Like she’s heard it before. From me. In reference to somebody I hold in low regard. Like Bill Maher.


Anyway, this inquiry was posited while I was rocking out to Blinded By The Light by Manfred Mann. Which, by happenstance, is my second favorite Manfred Mann song. Right behind For You. But despite its second place ranking in my all-time Manfred Mann songs list, I still love Blinded By The Light. I love it as much as I love nachos. So yeah, we’re talking nacho level love here. But, as everybody who has listened to this song knows, there is that consistent chorus where he says “Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.” And, again, as everyone knows, there isn’t person on the planet who doesn’t believe they saying “revved up a like doosh.”

So thanks Manfred Mann for your weird 70’s lyrics that sound like doosh. Because now my soon to be fourth grader wants to know what a “doosh” is. Plus I was rocking out to the song. A song that really isn’t in the regular rotation on the radio. But now we’re talking about a “doosh.”

My purely instinctual reaction was to laugh. Because it was funny. Naturally, being the experienced parent that I am I resisted that response and formulated an age appropriate yet truthful explanation.

Seriously that’s all crap. I totally busted a gut laughing. So did Mom. But I did have the presence of mind to attempt a redirect. It’s parenting equivalent of faking a hand off and hitting the tight end over the middle. I simply said he’s not saying “doosh” he’s saying “deuce.”

What’s a “deuce?”

“It’s means the number 2.”

“Like poop?”

For about a second a half, there was silence. Then we all busted up laughing again.

“Um, well, yeah. Like poop. Number 2.” Then to myself I muttered under my breath, because I don’t have the self-control to stop myself when it comes to poop jokes, “hence the phrase ‘droppin a deuce.’”

I’ve yet to hear the girls employ the phrase so either I was successful in my muttering or the girls simply are only saying it when I’m not around.

But Bails remained undeterred in regards to her initial and primary question. She still wanted a definition for a “doosh.” So I told her.

“In the this context, a doosh is an insult somebody calls another person when they think the other person is, well, a real jerk who does crappy things to other people because they are super selfish and often just mean.”

I quickly added, “It’s not a word kids should use.”

So far so good.

Then later during our nice little Saturday, we’re at Bed, Bath and Beyond. We just renovated both of our upstairs bathrooms. Which by the way are now awesome. They were vintage 1991 with builder’s grade everything in there. Now it feels like somebody else’s house. It’s like we’re grown-ups now. I mean it’s kinda weird. Yesterday morning I experienced two firsts. Took my first shower in the new master bath and then I went down to the gas station and cashed my first ever lottery winnings.

$18. Haven’t spent it all yet. But I got my eye on a six pack of Miller Lite tallboys.

Back to Bed, Bath and Beyond. I’m good at alliteration. I want to know who is in charge of the soundtrack in there. Because I heard, in order, Missing Persons doing Words, Big Country doing In a Big Country and LeVert singing Casanova. That’s a combo you don’t hear often. Well, that’s a combo you never hear. Ever. In fact it may have been the first time. Big Country gets played all the time on 80’s stations. That’s not uncommon. It’s like hearing Come on Eileen. Now Missing Persons is a bit more rare. Not totally unheard of but c’mon, you just don’t flip on your radio and hear Missing Persons. And when you do, sometimes it’ll be Destination Unknown instead of Words. But LeVert? C’mon man, nobody has heard that song since 1987. Not that I’ve been clamoring for it…I’m just saying that who goes to Bed, Bath and Beyond and ends up hearing LeVert after having a discussion about Manfred Mann’s pronunciation of the word duece?

We do. Apparently.


The Time Between Vacations

Lots of people call this work. I like to call it the three weeks in July between trips to Florida/July 4th week and the Ozarks. It’s also the three weeks when I have to shave for at least five consecutive days for those three weeks. After you spend about two weeks never having to save more than once a week, you kinda fall out of the habit. That’s what happened to me. Yesterday was the third consecutive Monday I’ve had to shave. Thankfully I did not have to do it today as Mom and I caved and agreed to let Kinsey take four of her friends to Adventureland. It’s a local amusement park and waterpark. I was not excited about it. Going to work sounded like a better option. Now don’t get me wrong. Going to Adventureland with Kinz and her friends is not like being in the trenches during the siege of Petersburg in 1865. I’ve not been asked to fight Apollo Creed for the Heavyweight Championship of the world. I didn’t grow up a Lions fan. But as a guy who likes routine, and is not a fan of supervising a gaggle of soon to be 6th grade girls along with Bails who gets to come along, this was not my Tuesday activity of choice.

Turned out fine. Weather cooled off, kids all behaved and there were no injuries. And that’s a win.

That all being said, an interesting and entirely unrelated question occurred to me the other night while I was watching The Breakfast Club on AMC.

When should we let Riley, or any of the girls, start watching John Hughes movies? I don’t mean Uncle Buck and Home Alone either. I mean the ones that defined the teenagerdom of Gen Xers. The Breakfast Club. Sixteen Candles. Pretty in Pink. Ferris Bueller. Weird Science. Okay, not Weird Science, that’s for dudes. Sixteen Candles came out when I was finishing 8th grade. Rye will be starting 8th grade this fall. Too early to let her watch them? She went to see World War Z the other night so I’m not sure Long Duk Dong is going to warp her in any sort of permanent life defining way. And truth be told I don’t screen every movie she watches. Which means she’s already been exposed to the same stuff I’m worried about. Which in turn makes my initial question somewhat less interesting. But here’s the thing, I’m all in favor of not only Riley, but all the girls watching these movies. Just not sure its time yet. Especially after watching The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles for the first time in awhile. I love The Breakfast Club. One of my favorite movies of all time. It’s lands on the all-time list somewhere after Hoosiers, It’s a Wonderful Life and Patton. It could be fourth. Then again, it might not be. Red Dawn, The Blues Brothers and The Hunt for Red October are pretty good movies too.

Have you seen TBC lately? Go watch it again. Now that I have a 13 year-old daughter my perspective on this movie has changed. I really didn’t expect this. I mean I watched it plenty of times since the girls were born. But this was the first time I watched it while I was father a daughter whose age end in “teen.”

That changes a man.

John Bender is far more frightening and menacing now than he was when I was 15. Plus with today’s anti-bullying and harassment laws, he’s a walking lawsuit. Dick, excuse me, Vice-Principal Richard Vernon is so fired if he did any of that stuff in 2013. Back in ’85, I guess it just made him a douchebag. But the movie is still relevant to teenagers even after 28 years because it still deals with all the crap that teenagers think about and deal with. Which, if you recall, is not stuff you really want to do twice.

Second question that we recently discussed involves dancing. Rye and her friend Madison are going to dance a duet this coming dance season in addition to being on the various pom and hip hop dance teams. As far as I can tell the largest impact of this decision is on my wallet as another costume will be purchased and another set of classes/practices will be paid for. Hoo. Ray. The most interesting thing about the duet is that they have to pick a song. Bailey suggested Physical from Olivia Newton-John. Which we thought was hilarious. Also disconcerting. How does Bails – age 9 – know Physical? Has Disney assimilated this song into its empire and sanitized it’s lyrics? Mom suggested PYT by Michael Jackson. Somebody mentioned Express Yourself by Madonna. I had three suggestions. The first was Highway to Hell by AC DC. It was summarily dismissed. Next I suggested Ride the Wind by Poison. It did not gain the necessary traction to be part of the debate. Finally I suggested Let’s Go Crazy by Prince and the Revolution.

Mom seemed intrigued. Riley not so much. However – mitigating factor – she’s never heard the song. So I attempted to explain its awesomeness.

“Back in ’84 at the nightclub, the Kid and his band, also known as the Revolution, were big rivals with Morris Day and his band The Time. The Kid had all kinds heavy, depressing, emotional issues to deal with at home. And there were doubts he’d ever realize his potential on the stage. Then, in one awesome night, he freaking belted out Purple Rain, I Would Die 4 U and then Let’s Go Crazy. And, as I’m sure you assumed, Let’s Go Crazy blew everything else out of the water. Oh and its awesome to dance to and the judges being of similar age to Mom and I will be unable to contain their smiles, enthusiasm and outright love for this song choice. BOOM!”

I was unpersuasive. They picked some song called Dance With Me Tonight by Olly Murs. Yeah, I never really heard of this guy either. And if he got in my car and starting singing the song right there in the passenger seat I not only still wouldn’t recognize it but I’d have to call 911 to report aggravated face punchisizing.

So there’s that.

Islands of Adventure

Mom and I went to Islands of Adventure at Disney about ten years ago. Haven’t been back there on our trips to Florida because the kids have been too small and they’d rather go to Disneyworld anyway. Now they’re too big for Disney. There is no appeal in the rides aimed at the 8 and under demographic. So we took them to Islands of Adventure. Word on the street is that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or as I call it – Asswarts – is the place to go. Everybody says the only thing more awesome than Harry Pottersville is having Helen Mirren in RED as your Grandma. At least that’s what my nephew said.

But before we made it Hogwarts we went on a few other rides. Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall, the Incredible Hulk roller coaster, Poseidon’s Fury, Flight of the Hippogriff and Jurassic Park. The only ride we had any sort of wait time was for Poseidon’s Fury which as it turned out was like the Chicago deep dish of cheesy attractions. My advice? Disney should gut it and put up some kind NFL themed ride.

vwThe wait for Harry Potter and Forbidden Journey was 90 minutes. My sister, Rye and I skipped it. Kinsey, Bailey, Mom and my nephew went on Flight of the Hippogriff instead. They said it was pretty fun. Rye and Kinz went on the Dragon Challenge. They said it was awesome. What isn’t awesome is the mass of humanity wedged into Harry Potter land. Now to be fair the set design is cool. The castle that contains the Forbidden Journey ride is really, really impressive. But, and I’m being as polite as I can here, that place is awful. Horrible. My sister took Bails and my nephew into the Honeydukes store and had to exit because it was like Vince Wilfork’s jersey in there. Some other place was selling freaking wands for $35. Wands. You know what I can buy for $35? Two cases of Miller Lite and an order of nachos. Didn’t take me long to make that calculation.

I admit I don’t have any interest in Harry Potter. Didn’t read the books, saw the first movie but none of the others. In fact, we only rented the first one out of some kind of popular culture guilt since we didn’t go see it in the theater. I’d rather watch Hot Tub Time Machine. HP is just not my thing. I understand it might be yours. I like the Walking Dead and World War Z. You may not. I like the NFL, you might like badminton or even soccer. I get that we could have divergent interests. Which might be why the congested nature of Asswarts made it even more unpleasant. I mean I’d rather have lunch with Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz. In San Francisco. Surrounded by aging hippies throwing broccoli and pictures of Sid Bream sliding into home to beat the Pirates in Game 7 of the ’92 NLCS at me. You really have to like Harry Potter to be there.

Its possible, I suppose, that Disney really didn’t anticipate the popularity of this particular area of Islands of Adventure. Somebody needs to get ahold of the Asswarts city council or Board of Wizardry or something and get them to widen the streets. Create some more room. Because I don’t need to see any more Brits with skin paler than White-Out walking around in tank tops. And what’s the deal with the Brazilians? Do you guys go anywhere in groups smaller than 75? Don’t even ask me about the footwear decisions the Europeans make. Practicality and socks with your Nikes is evidently completely optional.

Regardless, it was fun. Glad we went. Despite the ticket prices…

So that’s a shark…

While we were down in Florida we headed over to the Gulf coast which is far superior to the Atlantic side. IMHO of course. Just saying. Went to Anna Maria Island again like we did two years ago. And had lunch at The Sandbar like we did two years. Had the fresh grouper tacos like we did two ago. All still good. We drove down to Lido Beach and stayed there a night. Once we settled into the room we headed to the beach. I realize this shouldn’t surprise me but Bails decided she needed to collect shells. All kids do this. But I think Bails thought she needed to collect all of them. Needless to say, the shells didn’t make the cut when it came time to pack our bags for the flight home.

Anyway, on the Gulf side people always warn you of sharks. More sharks on that side evidentally. Something about the warm waters. I’m not a shark nerd so all of that might be total crap. Doesn’t really matter to me since the locals all talk about the sharks and how you don’t swim at dusk or at night. Good enough for me. But while they talk about the sharks they don’t tell you about the sting rays. Yeah, so I’m about two steps into the water when Bails tells me I need to shuffle my feet when I walk.

What? Why?

Sting rays.

“Sting rays? Really? Do I need to look out for an aquatic T-Rex too?”

Then my older sister disgustedly looks at me and informs me that there was a sign as you walked onto the beach that lets us all know that there were sting rays in the area and that you needed to shuffle your feet when you walked into the water because it would alert the sting rays to your presence.

Okay, but what is going to alert me to their freaking presence? Pretty sure the sting rays aren’t going to give two craps if I show up. But I sure as hell would like to know if they’re around because sting rays aren’t on my afternoon itinerary. Anywhere. I checked. Twice. Plus the girls would probably find the most pissed off sting ray on this particular stretch of beach who by happenstance is exceptionally displeased with feet shuffling in his or her neighborhood.

But we managed to go the whole afternoon without seeing any sting rays. Can’t say the same for old dudes in speedos however.


I’m not sure how else to describe this but old tan wrinkly hairy dudes should not wear speedos. Ever. And if you really must know, no one should wear a speedo. Olympic swimmers don’t even wear them anymore. If the International Olympic Committee could swing it, they’d strike them from all Olympic photographic history.

Anyway, we make it through the night despite having to wedge Bails onto two chairs so she could sleep. I just assumed we’d get her a couple extra blankets and have her sleep on the floor. But we get into the room and it has a tile floor. Doesn’t matter how much Bails likes to stay in hotel rooms, she ain’t sleeping on a tile floor. Worked out okay though. We get up the next morning to take a walk down the beach with the girls and we see this:

Shark Lido Beach

It’s a dead shark. Animal Control Guy pulls up in his pick up and says its probably a dead bull shark. Not sure how it died. So two things here:
1) Bull sharks are more likely to attack people in shallow water than any other shark.
2) Animal Control Guy’s uniform consisted of shorts and a cell phone. Yup. No shirts, no shoes, no hat, no badge, no nothing.

Beach patrol must be a tough gig.

Vacation to Florida

Traveling stresses me. Air travel even moreso. We got back from a week in Florida last week. We flew. Its not that I’m afraid of flying, its that I just don’t really like the lack of a convenient exit strategy. Or even a handy “in case of” strategy. You can’t just pull over if you want. Then you add the girls into the discussion and there’s a lot more stuff going on. Oh, and it turns out that Riley is more of an obsessive detail knower than I am during trips. She wanted to know flight departure and arrival times, time zone changes, flight duration, flight numbers, location of gates, types of snacks served on the plane, types of snacks we brought in our carry-on bags, could they have pop on the plane since its vacation, should she chew gum or just have a couple mints to help with the pressurization changes, which section of the plane normally survives a crash landing, what is the safety record for our type of aircraft, what do you do if you sit next to a weird person, where do you plug in your iPod during the flight. I’m sure there were other questions but it became difficult to keep up. All Bailey wanted to know was where the poop went if somebody needed to make a deposit at Browns National Bank during the flight.

Regardless, air travel accentuates my already worrisome nature vis-à-vis traveling. You literally you are just along for the ride. I realize for some people that’s the great part of flying. All you do is show up, be polite to the security folks and then just sit and ride for the rest of the trip. It’s easy. By the way, can someone please explain what is motivating factor for people who subscribe to the “a verbal middle finger to the TSA is the best way to navigate security” theory? Sometimes, in my opinion of course, you get exactly what you’re asking for. Just FYI.

We’ve all been through security enough now to understand mouthing off to the TSA is dumber than Nebraska hiring Bill Callahan. Dumber than putting your money on Rockwell being the next big breakout star of 1984. Dumber than European soccer fans.

Anyway, one of the things that creates a bit of anxiety for me is the fact that the packing procedures are different for air travel than road travel. Be advised that I’m a roadtrip packing professional. Not kidding. If there were car packing games on ESPN I’d be in them. And I’d be one of the favorites. I get upset when someone tries to help. Just take your bag – once its fully packed of course – out to the car and I’ll take care of it. Don’t place it into the vehicle. Don’t place it next to ready to be packed bags if its not ready to be packed. When we used to take Mom’s Pacifica down to the Ozarks my packing jobs were feat of engineering genius. Now I have a truck and as long as the bungee straps don’t break it doesn’t take quite as much planning. Sorta takes the fun out of it.

But air travel has federal rules. Not just my rules which if you ask the girls have sort of an elastic enforcement policy depending on my mood and the time of year. On flights you can only bring fluids, lotions, etc that are under 3.4 oz. Do you realize they don’t make my deodorant in a travel size? And it all has to go into a clear plastic Ziploc quart bag.

Now don’t misunderstand, once we arrive my folks house down in Florida I’m all about air travel. Cuttin a two day 20-plus hour car trip down to about 6 hours is a pretty good motivator to get over all my crap about flying. And this was the third time we’ve flown to Florida with the girls. And experience always helps. 2009 was the first time and it was oddly really fun. Nobody in the history of airports was as excited as the girls were to eat breakfast in the St. Louis airport. They still think its cool to eat in the airport. Seriously. Go ahead and ask them about the Quiznos in Minneapolis. Best damn Quiznos in the city.

But as luck would have it, our flights were uneventful. We were delayed 37 minutes on our initial departure flight because of FAA rules regarding crew flight time and rest. But we had a three hour layover in Atlanta anyway. Plus Delta checked our bags for free! Plane was full and nobody was checking bags so they offered to do it for free to get some folks to do it. Checked them all the way to Florida. Boom! Free bags! Other than our flight being oversold in Atlanta and me being annoyed by it, it went well too. Coming home our flight left Florida on time and arrived in Minneapolis a good 20 minutes early. Then our flight home was delayed about 20 minutes. Two things we were happy about because we only had a 40 minute connection time. So bonus I guess. Flight home was quick and smooth. Car started when we got in and the house didn’t burn down while we were gone.

But did I tell you we’re renovating both of our upstairs bathrooms? And the renovations started while we were gone…