A Weekend in Olathe

Who spent last weekend in Olathe?  Nobody?  Okay, just me then.

Actually I wasn’t alone since the 16 year was there too.  She was, truth be told, the only reason I was there.  Not that I have anything against Olathe.  It was my first time there and it seemed a lot like every other big suburb of a major midwestern city.  She had a softball tournament Saturday and Sunday.  The high school team divides itself into what is essentially the varsity and the JV for spring tournaments before practice starts on May 6.

So we left Friday afternoon about 4:30ish and drove down.  Nice enough drive except for the fact that Missouri has zero interest in maintaining any semblance of smoothness on I-35.  The first ten miles or so once you cross the Iowa/Missouri border have more craters than Adam Schiff’s credibility.  But here’s the thing – the 16 year-old is a talker.  She likes to share.  She also has strong feelings about her various playlists.  There’s the driving playlist, the homework playlist, the hype playlist, the getting ready playlist and a couple more that she told me about but my brain went into “ignore politely mode” so I don’t remember what they were.  She did ask if I wanted to listen to her throwback playlist.  Naturally, I said yes because I’m 48.  Most of the songs I like only exist on throwback playlists.  What I wasn’t really contemplating was that to the 16 year-old not only are the Backstreet Boys throwback material but so is Flo Rida.  Yeah, who knew?  I was expecting some Def Leppard.  Maybe some vintage disco.  But whatever, I like Flo Rida.  I even like his collaborations.  Especially that one with Pitbull and Lunch Money Lewis.

But I got to spend 3ish hours with her.  Which was pretty cool.  For me anyway.  Not sure of her feelings on the matter although she did only talk about stuff she cared about for those 3 hours.  But again, not sure I really care because it really isn’t that often you get to spend 3 hours alone with your junior in high school.  That kinda thing doesn’t really happen organically.

We talked about a lot of stuff.  We talked about prom.  We talked about softball.  We talked about my music vs. her music.  We talked about the various high school dramas unfolding around her.  We talked about whether or not Mom and I partied in high school.  We talked about what she should major in once she gets to college.  I tried to talk about how the Steelers would adjust to life without Antonio Brown and who I thought they’d target with their first few picks in the draft…but to be honest I think I was really just talking to myself on those things.  Which truth be told is just how it works in my house when it comes to the NFL Draft.  Mom likes football, but she’s not a nerd about it.

Anyway, the 16 year-old was stunned to learn that Mom partied a little bit in high school before cutting loose in college.  Her and her sisters have this belief that Mom did everything right in high school – never got in trouble, always got good grades, etc.  Which made me curious about their impression of me in high school.  She said they were pretty sure that I partied in high school and college.  Not sure what that says about my skills as a parent.  But I managed to graduate in both cases and went to arguably be a productive member of American society.  But I did ask some questions regarding this assumption.  I mean what makes it obvious that I partied and Mom didn’t?  It’s not like I’m carrying around a 30 pack of Stroh’s, a fake ID and a handy story on why I missed my curfew…that hasn’t happened since the spring of ’88…

The thing that simultaneously interested and repelled me was all the drama.  And it seemed like a lot.  But I haven’t been a junior in high school for 32 years.  So maybe when you’re that age there’s just more drama.  You also probably have a higher level of tolerance for it because of its prevalence.  But I’m not the best gauge in regards to appropriate or even normal levels of drama.  Mostly because I have an exceptionally low tolerance level for drama.  Like if the drama scale were to be measured from 0 to 10 with 0 being no tolerance and 10 high tolerance, I’d be a -47.  Or if you were using — as a measurement, I’d be —.

Now listen, everybody will say they hate drama.  Everybody.  And they’ll mean it.  Some people will even insist they have tolerance levels resembling mine.  They’d also be resoundingly wrong.  I have a pathological aversion to it.  Like it might be diagnosed as a mental health issue.  An issue I hope to pass along to the girls.  But listen, having three daughters hasn’t helped me deal with this either.  In fact, I believe it actually has led to the current state of my drama tolerance levels.  Not that I’m complaining.  I like being the guy with absolutely no reason to participate in your drama.  I like anchoring this curve.  Now, I won’t go out of my way to denigrate your drama-filled concerns.  I’m not mean-spirited afterall.  I’ll just ignore you.  You may misinterpret that as me not caring.  You’d be wrong.  I do care.  It’s just I care very much about ignoring your drama.  Or I’ll just quietly, albeit unapologetically, walk away.  Because here’s the deal – drama likes other drama.  Drama attracts other drama.  If drama runs into anti-drama, drama will work tirelessly to ensare the anti-drama.  Because drama can’t exist on it’s own.  There are people who are attracted to drama the way fat kids are attracted to cake.  They want their lives to be a reality show.  They’ll claim that isn’t the case, but they just can’t help themselves.  They’ll cannonball right into the drama pool.  Doesn’t matter if it involves them or not.  If their lives have somehow wandered into a drama desert, they will create it.  It’s like they have a superpower they are unaware of that can conjure drama out of the clear blue sky.  Group of friends getting along really well?  Boom – time to drop a drama grenade into that room.  You have a friend who is getting along really well with their boyfriend or girlfriend?  Time to drop some sabotage in between them to set yourself up as the arbiter.  Friend seems content with the current state of their lives?  Time to passive aggressively attack that friend for the contendedness.

So the upside is that I was able to express my views on drama to the 16 year-old.  And she couldn’t escape.  Calling that a win.



Magnum and Hallmark

The 15 year-old said something recently that got me thinking.  I mean legitimately made me stop and think.  It was like the opposite of what happens to me when Kamala Harris speaks or when the girls watch The Bachelor.  Anyway, Mom and I were watching Magnum.  Yes, I realize that I’ve previously stated how it was predetermined that the reboot would suck.  I also am fairly certain that I was not alone in this assumption.  Mostly because nearly every attempt to recreate the awesomeness of any original 80’s movie or TV show has utterly and completely crashed and burned.

Red Dawn. The communists are bad.  America, with all her imperfections, is awesome.  Solid premise.  Also I’m pretty sure the original would have come true if Carter had been re-elected in 1980.  But the remake was awful.  Like if I laid out a scale of 80’s awesomeness and at one end you had Mel Gibson’s hair in Lethal Weapon and at the other end you had Walter Mondale’s acceptance speech at the ’84 DNC, the Red Dawn remake wouldn’t even be even with Mondale.

The A-Team.  Since Taken, Liam Neeson normally makes things awesome.  Not so in The A-Team reboot.  It’s not like it was hard to take the premise of the TV show and turn it into an awesome movie.  The Equalizer was essentially the same TV show and they managed to turn that into a freaking bad ass movie.

Miami Vice.  C’mon Hollywood.  This thing was, for all intents and purposes, a manual on how to absolutely and entirely ruin something awesome so completely that anyone who actually watched the TV show is now unable to ever explain to their kids that Miami Vice was, at one point, the coolest thing on the planet.  So pretty much what lefty academia is doing to free speech on college campuses.

Not that they always get it wrong.  The Goldberg’s is great and their attention to 80’s detail is extremely satisfying.  Stranger Things is one of the greatest shows of all time and having it set in the mid 80’s only makes it better.  Although Season 2 consistently got the music wrong.  They were a year off.  Season 2 takes place in November of ’84.  At the Snow Ball, they feature Twist of Fate by Olivia Newton-John.  The song was the theme to the extremely underappreciated Two of a Kind…which came out in 1983.  Perfect song for moment but they were a year off.  And Ready Player One is an 80’s trivia nerd’s dream.  So naturally, I liked it.

If the rumors are right then we’ll be seeing remakes of Escape From New York, War Games and Weird Science.  Which fills me with a great sense of anticipation…and also feelings of incredible dread.  Basically the same feelings I get when watching Chris Boswell kick field goals for the Steelers.

Regardless, there we were watching Magnum.  And the 15 year comes downstairs and says, “Is this Magnum?”  To which was naturally answer, “yeah, be quiet.”  To which she responds, “This show is basically a Hallmark movie.  It’s exactly the same thing.”

MagnumHigginsSo two things.  1)  Higgins is hot.  Not something I’d have said about the original but a stone cold fact in reference to the reboot.  I mean one of the main reasons I watch the show is because of Higgins’ British accent and hotness.  And I don’t care what you say, that is a perfectly legit reason to watch the show.  Same reason why I’ll watch just about anything with Salma Hayek.

2) Magnum is not a freaking Hallmark movie.  I mean clearly it isn’t Christmas.  And nowhere is there a woman who recently broke up with a long-time boyfriend who works in New York at an investment bank who also is really, really wrapped up in his career and the all the status that goes along with that.  Also nowhere to be seen is the small hometown to which the recently single woman must return to visit her parents or her ailing grandmother or to save the Christmas Tree Farm that is about to be bulldozed by the investment bank to put up some environmentally ignorant condos.  And surprisingly, she runs into an old high school boyfriend who never left the hometown but has a successful carpentry business and wonderful old house who also desperately believes the Christmas Tree Farm must saved from the corporate a-holes in NYC.

Magnum is an ex-Navy Seal who had a rough experience in Afghanistan.  Along with his buddies Rick and TC, they use their training to crack cases and help the underdog on the island of Oahu.  All of them have a few skeletons in the closet that are tough to talk about.  And yes, things do get wrapped up in the end but not so tightly that there aren’t a few loose ends that always come back to haunt Magnum from his past…hey, wait a minute…

Bleachers, Gas and Parking

Sometimes I marvel at my ability to stay calm in the face of adversity.  I mean it takes a certain level of maturity to keep a composed demeanor while unexpected, and dare I say, unwarranted explosions of frustration, apprehension and just plain ol’ rage blow up in your face.  It also is just years and years of experience of being outnumbered 4-1 in my house by Mom and the girls.  I’m like the 82nd Airborne, I’m not only used to be outnumbered but I’m also completely at ease being surrounded.  All Dads who share a house with all daughters have this gift.

So I’m in the kitchen this morning.  Just had come down the stairs and placed my phone on the island.  I was jammin to Bleachers.  I was in a pretty good mood.  It’s tough to be grumpy when listening to these guys.  I Wanna Get Better is a great song.  Anyway, Mom asks me what’s going on later and then she’s out the door headed to work.  Totally normal.  Suddenly, about a minute or so later she returns to the kitchen.  This isn’t necessarily an odd occurrence.  Sometimes she forgets something.  Sometimes, when it’s cold, she was just warming up her car.  So her presence while not expected, wasn’t surprising.

But the force with which she slammed the door and the angry forcefulness of her stride back into the kitchen foretold something unpleasant.  The fury in her eyes portended  confirmed it.  Nearly 22 years of marriage gives you what feels like a sense of clairvoyance when it comes to your spouse.  But like AFC Central quarterbacks staring into the crazy eyes of Jack Lambert as he wrought his ferocious wrath down upon them, I was frozen in place.  Sometimes I forget that Mom’s vision isn’t based on movement.  This morning, the 15 year-old had evidently parked her car in such a way that angered Mom.

Normally, Mom and I both pull in the garage and nobody parks behind either of us.  Depending on which girl leaves first in the morning determines which one leaves their car in the driveway and which one ends up in the third stall in the garage.  The car in the driveway nearly always is parked behind that third stall.  It’s a simple system.

Unfortunately, the system broke down.  The 15 year-old got home late from a track meet.  And in burst of unexpected forethought, she parked behind me instead of behind her sister because her sister left first the next morning.  I was counting that as a win.  Mostly because I’m the one who normally has to move a car if it was left in the wrong spot.

However, she evidently didn’t park precisely behind me.  She left her vehicle a bit too close to Mom’s side.  So Mom goes to back up her car.  And the car starts beeping, alerting her that something is behind her.  But here’s the thing, that car ALWAYS beeps when Mom backs out of the garage.  Evidently the camera’s peripheral vision picks up the sides of the garage.  So as soon as the back end of the car clears the opening to the garage, the beeping stops.  So Mom didn’t pay much attention to the beeping when it started.  It’s white noise.  Not unlike congressional Democrats covering for the latest comment from Ilhan Omar.

Anyway, this time the beeping not only continued past the normal time frame but it became that really fast you’re about to smash into something beeping.  So she stops.  Looks behind her and notices a blue Ford Escape curiously parked in such a way to inhibit her departure from the garage.

And Mom lost her shit.

She comes into the kitchen and unleashes a furious barrage of anger directed at the 15 year-old.  But the 15 year-old is still upstairs.  But there did happen to be one guy standing in the kitchen in a genuinely good mood listening to some music while he made his lunch.  I’m just paraphrasing but it went something like this:

“What the hell is that car doing parked behind me! I almost hit it!”

“Wait, isn’t it parked behind me?”

“That doesn’t matter!  She didn’t park far enough over so I almost hit the car! Not only that but when I got in her car to move it over, the damn interior lights were on!  So we’re lucky it even started.  She needs to use her damn brain.  And she needs to be more considerate of other people! All she does is think about herself!”

So I then said something that in my defense was not only completely logical but really defensible in every sense.  It just wasn’t advisable.

“Did you look behind you before you backed out?’

She said a whole bunch of words but all I really remember was the aftermath.  An invisible force hit me with the power of an F5 tornado.  Pretty sure I was bleeding from my eyes.  I may have suffered a mild concussion.  When I was able to regain my faculties, I remember Mom telling me that I needed to talk to her about this whole episode.

As Mom drove away, I walked out to her car just to see what the deal was with the interior light.  Mom left the car running so I just glanced inside at the center console.  So two things, 1) the console indicator panel said the rear window to the hatch was ajar, and 2) the low fuel light is on.

I got back inside and the 15 year-old, who undoubtedly was able to hear the torrent of expletives hurled my direction just minutes before, wisely had waited until Mom was gone to venture into the kitchen.

“Hey kiddo so good job on parking behind me so your sister got get our this morning.  But you gotta make sure you’re far enough over so Mom can back out.”

“Well, I’m terrible at parking.”

“Agreed.  But skill level is really relevant here, just actually results.  Also, you left the window on the hatch open so your interior lights were on all night and Mom said your car almost didn’t start because the battery was almost dead.”

“What?  I don’t know anything about cars!  How do I know if something is open or if the battery is dead!”

“Yeah, so there’s this little display directly in front of you below the speedometer that tells you if there’s a door or window open.  And there’s normally a beep or something too…and oh yeah you have no gas.  Like the needle is on the wrong side of the E. Your car has about as much range as Eric Swalwell’s presidential campaign.”

She then said a whole bunch of words about having to leave for school and being late.  I didn’t really stick around long enough to hear all of them.  I just took her car to get gas. I have to do that because the 15 year-old doesn’t have a debit card yet.  Yeah, so that means I always have to get gas for her.  Normally I do I every Sunday.  But, as fate would have it, I didn’t get that done this week.

I get home, throw the keys to the 15 year-old and get in my truck to head work.  And guess what I notice?

I need gas.