Things are getting better…

We have a busy December. But, in America, that’s just how we roll.  We have family coming to house the next two weekends.  Then right after Christmas, we’d headed to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl.  This weekend the 16 year-old volunteered to host the secret Santa party for the softball program at the girls’ high school.  So about 30 girls showed up about 10:30 in the a.m. on Sunday and stuck around for about 90 minutes.  At first I was a little apprehensive about the whole thing.  But who can blame me?  I am a seasoned veteran when it comes to trials and tribulations of the aforementioned teenage girls.  I already have had YEARS of teenage girls living in my house.  Why the hell would I purposely invite an extra 30 girls between 14 and 18 into my house?  No, seriously, why would I do that? 

But I gave my approval.  Mostly because I’m a seasoned veteran and know which battles to pick.  Piece of advice for all you Dads of little girls out there.  Anyway, even though I knew it was a good long-term decision, it still had me pondering what in the name of the Burl Ives was I thinking.  Turns out it was mostly cool.  They organized it all themselves and helped clean up afterwards.  In fact, the food they brought over was awesome.  Breakfast pizza, egg casseroles, donuts, cookies, bagels, muffins and chocolate milk.

Plus I had to drive up to Ames and pick the 19 year-old.  So I flipped on the radio to the station that plays the old top 40s.  Today was this week in 1987.  So yeah, I was singing my ass off.  Top 5 songs for the week ending Dec. 12 1987:

5- Is This Love – Whitesnake

4- (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

3- Should’ve Known Better – Richard Marx

2- Heaven Is A Place On Earth – Belinda Carlisle

1- Faith – George Michael

So let’s break this morning down.  First, my house was invaded by teenage girls.  This is a normal occurrence.  So I was relatively unfazed.  Like John McClane when he finds Hans checking the explosives in the Nakatomi Building.  He knows it’s Hans.  But Hans doesn’t know he knows.  So John is unfazed.  He’s not relaxed, his cop senses are on high alert.  But he’s unfazed.  That’s how I felt.  Because these invasions are normally conducted by small raiding parties of less than 5 girls.  Sometimes they only come in pairs and I don’t even notice they are in the house except for the extra shoes by the front door.  Today it was a platoon of softball girls.  But I wasn’t there for most of it.  And, instead of bringing drama, they brought delicious breakfast foods.  Unfazed.  Also a tad bit hungry.

Second, on my way up to pick up our oldest at college, I enjoyed the best music from the Christmas season in 1987.  Notably absent from the top 40 were two songs I distinctly remember from playing an outsized role in the soundtrack to the fall of my senior year in high school.  Those two songs?  Casanova by LeVert and Say You Will by Foreigner.  Man, that LeVert song, now that I listen to it again, is…still freaking awesome.  It might even be better.  Im-freaking-possible not bust out your best dance moves.  Better than I remember.  Say You Will still rocks too but it just didn’t have the same surprise impact that LeVert did.  But go back and look at that top 5.  Not sure you can make a credible case that you’re referencing an actual top 40 list from the late 80’s unless Richard Marx and his power mullet are on the list.  Okay, quick, you have to listen to a Richard Marx song…what is it?  Should’ve Know Better?  Satisfied?  Endless Summer Nights?  Not easy is it?  Because nobody is going to pick any of those songs.  Unless you’re drunk and playing name that tune with your friends as you search for somewhat memorable Richard Marx songs from the 80’s.  Also go play Heaven Is A Place On Earth and don’t sing along.  

Can’t do it can you?  It can’t be done.  There is something physiological that happens.  Some kind of chemical that is released in the human brain when you hear Belinda Carlisle.  Involuntary response to said stimuli is to sing your ass off.  

So I know it sucks that wokeness police are trying to kill Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  And I know they killed any chance you were going to watch the Oscars by sacking Kevin Hart.  And now you have to worry about anything you said when you were 14 years old because the USA Today is going to dig it up and turn it over to the woke Stasi.  But I ended up with free egg casserole and sweet tunes from December of ’87.  So that’s a win dudes.

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Like Clockwork…

Every year about this time CBS airs “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”  This year marked the 54th airing.  I have, more or less, watched it each year 1976ish.  But in the last few years with radical progressive outragery selecting every target it can, Rudolph has unwittingly wandered a little too far outside the boundaries of Christmastown.  And now, the airing of this childhood classic has become as much of a Christmas tradition as the grievances about the dizzying array of so-called problematic behavior exhibited by make believe claymation characters.  Which is interesting in and of itself.  I mean the left’s need to control speech and thought is so great it extends into worlds that don’t actually exist.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER

Anyway, some of the common outrages displayed by the social justice warriors are the following:

It is really a story about bullying.  Yeah, part of it is.  And it’s also a story about overcoming that crap and sticking it to the jerks who bullied you.  Which, and again I’m just spitballin’ here, but kicking a bully’s ass is pretty damn American.  Although being pretty damn American is also problematic behavior according to some of the leftists.  Anyway, Rudolph is bullied – mildly – by the other reindeer boys and by his coach at reindeer practice.  It’s verbal not physical and Rudolph does stand up for himself.  So far this is a good message.  But the whole scene really just shows two things:

1) the other boys are immature jerks, which if you remember grade school, is kinda what most kids act like from time to time,

2) The coach is a bad coach.  I mean Rudolph literally just showed how far ahead of the other boys he was in flight skills.

And, yes, I agree if you are a youth coach and you’re bullying the kids on your team, then you’re a douchebag.  But I don’t know what kind of internal politics go on at the North Pole.  Who picks the coach?  Is it Santa?  Is it the parents?  Maybe the coach throws kick-ass New Year’s Eve parties and the only way to get an invite to vote for him to be coach.  We just don’t know the dynamics.  Bottom line is Rudolph says “screw you guys” and then comes back and burns everybody by being better at reindeer stuff than the kids who were mean to him.  Problem solved.  Then you have Hermey.  Hermey is bullied by the other elves because he wants to be a dentist and doesn’t like to make toys.  Well, this pretty much sucks if your an elf.  Because it sure seems like most of the job openings are relating to toy making.  But let’s be fair.  Hermey isn’t doing his job.  Then he quits by sneaking out the window.  That’s not exactly responsible behavior either.  I mean why can’t he study dentistry at night?  Lots of people work jobs they don’t particularly enjoy as a means to an end they do want to achieve.

It is really a story about racism.   All the elves are white.  Sam the narrating snow man is white.  Santa is white.  The snow is white.  Fireball has blond hair.  Which probably makes him a Nazi.  The progressive lynch mob rarely mentions that there are females elves also in the workplace.  Which for the early 60’s shows, well, a progressive workplace I guess.  I mean I wasn’t there at Santa’s workshop so I can’t comment on the HR policies regarding equal pay, inclusivity training and the acceptable methods of twitter shaming people who aren’t woke.

It is really a story about homophobia.  Yeah, so what about that part with Yukon, Hermey and Rudolph all sharing a bed in small cottage on the Island of Misfit Toys?  Nobody seemed to have any issues with their the sexuality in that scene.  They were all cold and tired so they hit the sack.  If anything, Rudolph is kind of a inconsiderate jerk for leaving in the middle of the night without telling his bros.  Then they spend a whole crap ton of time searching for him while fighting the cold and snow and evading the abomidable snow monster of the north.  This isn’t homophobia, this is Rudolph being a crappy friend.

Santa is bigot.  When he’s first introduced to Rudolph, Santa tells the young buck that he hopes his nose takes care of itself if wants to lead the sleigh team someday.  I don’t think this makes Santa a bigot.  It makes him a bad GM.  He may as well be in charge of the Jets’ drafts.  I mean he’s evaluating the wrong criteria.  Now I’m not sure what the measurements are at the Reindeer Draft Combine at the North Pole, but my guess is that sturdiness, strength, and air speed are probably a tad bit more important than nose illumination.  Plus, if he were better at team building, he’d notice that the shiny nose presents a unique skill set.  Rudolph could eventually be the best 3rd down back on the sleigh team.  He’d be the James Brooks of reindeer.  Santa might be good as delivering toys but he sucks at reindeer skill evaluation.

Clarice’s Dad is a bigot.  He sees his daughter chatting up Rudolph and tells her that there’s no way she’s hanging with a dude with a red nose.  Is this bigotry?  Or rampant leftyism?  I think the latter.  If Rudolph’s nose were blue, then you can be damn sure he let Clarice date Rudolph.  If Rudolph were hanging out in a safe space lamenting his reindeer privilege flashing his sparkly blue nose around, then we’d be having an entirely different conversation.

Donner is a sexist, a verbally abusive father and is ashamed of his son’s physical characteristics.  Now, I think Donner gets a little bit of a bad rap.  He obviously loves the little guy and he teaches him vital reindeer skills like how to get food, fight off enemies and how to hide from the abomidable snow monster of the north.  How different is this than when your Dad told you get off your butt and practice if you wanted to getting more minutes on the court?  Telling your kid the truth about the how the world works is good parenting.

None of the social justice stormtroopers ever seem to mention the strong female characters in the show.  Clarice gives absolutely no craps what the other kids – or her Dad for that matter – think about her hanging out with Rudolph.  Rudolph’s Mom completely ignores Donner’s directives about staying home while he goes and finds Rudolph.  In fact, her and Clarice basically tell the dudes in their lives, “listen jagoffs, your plan sucks, so either get out of the way or get on board because we’re taking care of business.”

The Latest Halloween

So with the oldest off at college and the remaining daughters still under our roof but really too old to go trick or treating, Halloween continues to evolve away from us taking the girls door to door to load up on candy.  Which really just means that the girls do stuff with their friends and Mom and I hand out candy.  I’m both happy and sad about this.  I sincerely enjoyed taking them trick or treating.  I also sincerely enjoy not taking them trick or treating.  And since we moved we only get the most the dedicated and determined trick or treaters.  We’ve had 11 in three years.  Which is simply more evidence of the wussification of American youth by well meaning but utterly misguided adults engaged in safetyism…but that’s a rant for another day.

Regardless, our college freshman sent us some pics of her costume at the Halloween party she went to with the other girls in her sorority.  I had suggested that she go as Elizabeth Warren and carry a DNA kit while wearing a big sandwich board that said “1/1024th” but she didn’t think it was as funny as me.  Instead she went as a cowgirl.  Or a country girl.  Or a girl from a rural area.  I don’t know what pretentiously smug politically correct term the liberal illuminati are using.  No offense intended.  All I’m doing there is what used to be called sarcasm.  Anyway, if we’re really being honest, what she really went as was a girl from the suburbs wearing clothing associated with country music fans.

But I mean who is trying to fool?  Country girl?  I know she goes to Iowa State and evidently all of us who went there are backwoods rubes, but she listens to Justin Beiber and Imagine Dragons.  She used to work at a Cupcakery.  I know…LAME.  She’s no country girl.  She’s comes from good ol’ dependable Gen X stock.  And as we all know that means she really should be dressed like this if she has any cultural pride at all.

vixen

 

Things could be worse…

I know after the last two weeks everybody is angry.  Everybody is at battle stations.

But things could be worse.

On the way home from church Sunday morning Mom and I were listening to the radio station that airs replays from Casey Kasem’s American Top 40’s from this week in some distant year.  Truth be told, assuming it is a year from the 80’s, I like to show off by being able to name the year by hearing any song within whatever Top 40 is featured.  Nobody is impressed.  Except me.  Whatever.  Today was this week in 1981.

I was 11 in October of ’81.  My main concern was the Steelers recovering from an 0-2 start and what I was going to be for Halloween.  What should have been a top concern for all of us was the fact that Eddie Rabbit, Ronnie Milsap and Juice Newton all had songs in the top freaking 10!  The top song in the country and evidently for 8 consecutive weeks back in the late summer and early fall of 1981 was – brace yourself – Endless Freaking Love.  I know, I know…there are no words.  How did America survive this?

If you jumped in your Chevy Chevette on your way to the local watering hole because tonight was kinda special and you wanted it to be a Lowenbrau, and you flipped on the local top 40 station, you were tortured with a loop of Pablo Cruise, Kenny Rogers and Air Supply.  I’m not certain how the new Reagan administration recovered from this headwind of suckitude.  I mean the hostages had been home for almost a year and we welcomed them back by forcing them to listen to Al Jarreau?  Geez, Al Jarreau?  Al Jarreau wasn’t even remotely cool until he sang the theme song to Moonlighting in 1986.  How did this happen?  The early 80’s were evidently a dark, dark time…

BoDukeIf that wasn’t bad enough John Schneider, yes Bo F’ing Duke, actually was moving up the charts.  Seriously, what in the sweet hell was going in the early days of the 1980’s?  Thankfully MTV was born in August of ’81 and quickly and mercilessly annihilated all this easy listening, countryesque soft rock bullshit from the airwaves.  It wasn’t long until Genesis, Pat Benatar and Rick Springfield were dominating the Top 40…along with under appreciated one hit wonder No Time to Lose from the Tarney Spencer Band.

So rest easy America, things have been worse.

Full Disclosure

Gotta admit something…I’ve watched both episodes of the new Magnum, P.I.  Both of them.  And here’s the thing…I don’t hate it.  I sorta like it.  It’s not nearly as cool as the original but it really isn’t bad.  But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

High school yearbooks and the remarks contained within are evidently the latest thing we all need to worry about.

With this in mind, I took a look at my high school yearbook from senior year.  I don’t remember the last time I did this.  But after the last couple weeks, all of our senior year high school yearbooks have become the code breaker for our DNA.  They are evidently filled with clairvoyance.  These amazingly prophetic crystal balls foretell our activities and conduct for the rest of lives.  Which is weird because after talking with some friends, it turns out nobody wanted to be judged on what was in their yearbooks.  Regardless, let’s examine mine.

Turns out, at least according to the wise teenage sages who detailed my senior year through written notes in said yearbook, beer and parties were our main interests.  Now I’m just spitballin’ here but that qualifies me for exactly one job…an 18 year old high school senior boy.  Weird, I know.  In fact my senior picture was adored by a hand sketched arm holding a beer.  Still not sure who drew that.  But judge away I guess…

Second sentence of the very first note written in the yearbook on the inside front cover was by a guy who is still a great friend and has gone on to become a respectable husband, father and public servant.  Nonetheless, he thoughtlessly wrote – “Now we have to get out and party all summer but we can’t get in any more trouble with the cops or we’re toast.  We need to get wasted!”

Just so there’s no misunderstanding of the terms used – when we say “cops” we mean local law enforcement.  When we say “wasted” we mean drinking to the point of being inebriated.  And just for some context, we considered getting wasted a worthwhile pursuit of happiness.  That pursuit of happiness often led us to participate in drinking games.  It was through these games that we were able to satisfy our toxic masculine desires to drink beer, compete in games of skill and yell movie quotes in loud voices.  Such is the life of the 18 year-old recently graduated high school senior.  But I graduated from a small suburban Catholic high school so judge away…

In another note, one of my buddies told me not to forget to ZEUS.  We used zeus as a euphemism for farting.  So two things here: not totally sure what Zeus has to do with farting and I’m not clear why I needed to “remember” to zeus as I’ve never really thought of farting as being a memory issue.  But that’s just me.  There’s also references to “blowing chow” and “booting” and “Q.P.T.” and a short note from my senior prom date who wrote that she just might take me up on the offer to pour a beer on my head.  Again, facts remain cloudy as to why I allegedly made that offer.  Again, just to be clear “blowing chow” or “booting” means throwing up.  In college we called it “honking” and it sometimes happened because you drank too much over the course of an evening.  Other times it was likely the result of a beer bong.  And I’m sure you’ll agree that not all stomachs react the same way to quick consumption of beer using what is essentially a hose.  “Q.P.T.” means quality party time.  It was also noted that Q.P.T. lasts until well after midnight.  The stamina for partying amongst high school seniors is astonishing.  Almost as astonishing as the amount of references to throwing up in my yearbook.  It’s almost as if we thought it was cool…

But these weren’t the only terms we used that became colloquialisms within our group.  I know, I know sounds like crazy talk.  For example, when something unfortunate would happen to one of us, the rest of us would derisively say “Dude, you failed to avoid the goon rush.”  Sometimes it was further slanged into “failed to avoid the GR” or to simply “gooned.”  I haven’t doubled checked its meaning in Urban Dictionary…

One of our favorite movies was Heartbreak Ridge.  And we dubbed ourselves the Recon Boys and the platoon that was featured in the movie.  Which, now that I write it, is astoundingly lame.  Nonetheless we came up with 46 Rules for Partying with the Recon Boys.  This list of unenforceable decrees was, and this might surprise you, laced with our preoccupation with beer and parties.

Rule #1: If you are there, then you drink — no exceptions.

Rule #7: Blowing chow is a positive experience — it makes room for more beer.

Rule #11: Never under any circumstances leave a half-finished beer sitting around.

Rule #21: If you spill, you clean it up.

Rule #30: If a keg is present, assume you are spending the night.

Rule#39: We are not totally worthless, we can always serve as a bad example.

It’s as if we thought beer actually gave us superpowers…

We even gave each other nicknames.  Our friend Rich was called “Sid” one year because another guy on the baseball team thought he looked like Mets pitcher Sid Fernandez when he pitched.  Another dude was “Gouk.”  And it was pronounced the same way a racial slur for Asians is pronounced.  But that’s not what we meant and our friend wasn’t Asian.  His first name was Matt.  Turns out that at the time we were in high school the head coach of the 76ers was Matty Goukas.  So we started calling our friend Matt “Goukas”  or “Gouk.”  I wonder how that would be interpreted in a Senate hearing?

There are references to parties at my house and parties at my friends’ houses, parties in cornfields, parties in an unoccupied house owned by a friends’ parents, parties in an undeveloped cul-de-sac we dubbed “The Circle.”  Lots of references to drinking at Prom and parties in hotel rooms we somehow were able to get.  A reference or two to the liquor store in the town north of our high school which thought our fake ID’s were good enough to sell us 30 packs of Stroh’s and cases of Milwaukee’s Best.  By fake IDs I mean small laminated cards with our actual pictures accompanied by made up names and addresses.  We used them to buy beer.  Because we were teenagers who liked to break rules and were impatient to be 21.

So current and future high school seniors…choose your words carefully I guess.  You never know…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I like this teacher…

I walk in the door after work Thursday and the 14 year-old is sitting the kitchen doing her homework.  So two things comes to mind:

  1. Damn, we’re killing this parenting thing.
  2. Wait, is she just trying to impress us by doing her homework right after school and in an area of the house which we will undoubtedly notice her doing homework and therefore be impressed with her…so she can ask us for money or something?

Regardless, she was doing her math homework.  She also let us know a couple observations she has of her math teacher.

“Dad, my math teacher is like you times 100.”

“What?  Why?  Does he consider the first weekend of the NFL season a national holiday?  Does he agree that Die Hard is a Christmas movie?  Does he agree that socialized health care like Obamacare is only supported by people who are bad at math?”

“I don’t know but he’s the most Gen X teacher I have.”

“Hmm…I’m interested.  Go on.”

“First, he tells us that he’s there to teach us math.  Not care about our feelings.  So if we think he’s mean or that our feelings get hurt then we should just go see the guidance counselor because math doesn’t care about our feelings.”

“Sounds reasonsable.”

“Then, he tells us that his main rule is no whining.  And if we have any complaints about that we should write them down put them in his complaint file which is his garbage can.”

“Well that’s just smart management.”

“Then he tells us that he’ll let us listen to music in class when we’re doing work but that our music is crap.  He thinks the rap we listen to is trash so he’s going to do for us what his parents did for him and teach us about good music.”

“And what’s that?”

“He makes us listen to classic rock.”

“This guy either should get a raise or they should make him superintendent of the whole school district.”

Which got me thinking about something else.  Did any of you watch the VMA’s last week?  For yet to be explained reasons, Mom was.  Which was weird because unless you’re pretty sure Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a future president of these United States, you’re not watching the VMA’s.  But I’m a Gen X Dad in my late 40’s.  This ain’t my show anymore.  Judging from the ratings, most of America agrees with me.  But Mom was interested in a few of the performances.  So we watched it.  Kevin Hart’s comments about Trump sounded a bit forced.  Which was disappointing to me because I was looking forward to a lot of moralistic smuggery from the liberal thought police.  There were a couple things that were simply a surprise.  For example, I just learned that they no longer call the video music award handed out at MTV’s awards show a “moonman.”  They now call it a “moonperson.”  I’m sure someone can explain to me why that change is so important.  I’m also equally sure I won’t listen.  I also learned that they hand out something called the VMA for video with a social message?  Maybe you knew that.  Maybe you watch the VMA’s and believe this is an award that is super important.  I don’t.  It kinda sounded like an award developed within the “everybody gets a trophy for participating” school of thought.  But that’s just me.  Because, once again, I’m a Gen X Dad in my late 40’s.  Truth be told, the award did make me a bit curious.  I mean, what videos would have won this award back when I would have watching the VMA’s?  I’m just spitballin’ here but here’s a few guesses:

1984 – “You Can Still Rock in America” by Night Ranger.  Back in the 80’s you could still rock in America.  Social message?  We’re Americans.  We like to rock.

1985 – “My Girl Wants to Party All the Time” by Eddie Murphy.  Reagan just got re-elected and Rick James was in the video.  Social message?  We want to party.  All the time.

1986 – “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins.  I feel the need, the need for speed.  Social message?  We’re Americans, we like to sing off key in bars and blow those commie bastards outta the sky.

1987 – “You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party” by The Beastie Boys.  White dudes rapping.  Diversity.  Social message?  Breaking racial stereotypes is important…but not as important as partying.

1988 – “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard.  Social message?  Sugar, beer, tax cuts…who cares…just pour it on me.

1989 – “Bust a Move” by Young MC.  A rap song can sound like music.  Social message?  Got no money and you got no car, then you got no women and there you are.

1990 – “Up All Night” by Slaughter.  Social message?  Annoy authority.  Sleep all day.  Party all night.

I’m just saying that maybe Gen X was pretty good at staying on message.  And our messages, and again I’m just spitballin’ here, seem like a helluva lot more fun.

 

 

It Has Arrived

It’s here.  Feels weird but there’s nothing we can do about it.  Not that I want to do anything about it, I’m just saying that it is weird that it is actually happening.

College.  The oldest daughter started classes on last Monday.  Which means that we are now the parents of a college student.  How in the freaking hell did this happen?  It was only…30 years ago that I was going to college.  Wait…30 years…Holy Crap.

joeelliotshreddedjeansAnyway, college is cool.  Going to college was cool.  Having a kid going to college is weird.  I mean, yes, it is also cool.  I guess anyway.  Like putting the Democrats in charge of Congress, it just makes things more expensive.  But it is pretty cool seeing your kid and her friends getting ready to experience the awesomeness that is college.  Although I seriously doubt it is cooler going to college now than it was between 1988 and 1992.  Then we had hair metal.  Now they have safe spaces.  Then we had Milwaukee’s Best Light.  Now they have Crispin Rose Hard Cider  Then we had shredded up jeans.  Now they have…shredded up jeans.  Who knew that Joe Elliot’s legacy wasn’t Hysteria but the shredded jeans in the Pour Some Sugar On Me video.  Evidently these sneaky kids did pick up on few things…

Regardless, moving your oldest into her dorm room and then leaving her there is disconcerting.  On one hand you’re happy for them because nothing is like going to college.  On the other hand, well, you hope to hell you did a good job because all the guidance either took or it didn’t.  And we’ll all find out shortly.

Anyway, we moved her and her roommate in a little over two weeks ago.  Move-in is essentially a convention of sweaty Dads.  So yeah, pretty awesome.  I impressed myself, but no one else, by carrying in the fridge single handedly.  Those things really are pretty light but who cares.  I carried a damn fridge alone!  Her roommate’s brother and I carried in the couch.  Here’s the backstory.  Dorm is on the 2nd floor…which is really the third floor since it goes ground, 1st, 2nd.  Dorm has 7 or 8 floors.  Not really sure because when your kid lives on floor 2, you don’t give any craps about the floors above.  Those are problems other Dads need to navigate.  The dorm room was right at the top of the stair well on the west side of the building.  So, assuming the couch fit through the outer door, the door to the stairwell, the door from the stairwell to the hall and the door to the dorm room, we’re golden.  Since Mom is awesome, she remembered to bring a tape measure.  33 inches of clearance in all the doorways.  Shortest side of the couch is roughly 31 inches.  Easy peezy.  But we had to carry the couch across the street, through the parking lot, around the line of Dads waiting to use the elevator which ran out of the main doors before finally making it to the outer door on the west side of the building.  Helpful Dad #1 stops us at the door and recommends we go back around to the main doors and then the long way down the hall because those main doors are way, way wider.  I smile and tap the tape measure hooked onto my belt.  “Thanks Chief but we measured and as long as we keep our hands underneath I think we’re good.”  We slip through the opening with barely any room to spare.  Tim Allen like grunts of approval from the other sweaty Dads.

Next was going up a couple flights of stairs.  I made the roommate’s brother go backwards.  What?  He’s 16.  I’m 48.  Helpful Dad #2 puts his stuff down, grabs the cushions off the couch that had started to come loose and then opens the doors for us.  Sweaty Dads Unite!

We successfully navigated the stairs using our innate knowledge of geometry and weight distribution.  More vocal noises of approval from other sweaty Dads.  Not gonna lie, I feeling pretty damn good about myself at this point.  Helpful Dad #3 who is one of the Dads of the girls living directly across the hall, clears out the doorway of his daughter’s dorm room and lets me back in to create an easy angle of entry through which to enter our desired destination.

So what’s the lesson?  Sweaty Dads are friggin’ awesome.  It’s like a bond of unspoken camaraderie.  A connection of implicit admiration.  A pledge of unsaid solidarity.  It was beautiful really.

Once everything was in the room, I sat down on the aforementioned couch.  Mom started suggesting where everything could go.  The two 18 year-olds immediately resisted.  It was like Hillary Clinton saying, well, anything to a room full of midwesterners.  In response, I suggested that we should just run to Target and get whatever supplies they needed and then we’d go get tacos.  Because everybody likes tacos.

Dropped off the supplies and then had lunch.  And that was it.  Just like that you’re down one kid.  Although the 14 year-old took about 5 minutes to get used to her being gone.  She immediately went into the departed sister’s room to examine what clothes she had left behind…

 

 

The Top 17’s

Recently I put together a list of songs for a young millennial in my office.  Once I got into making the list, it became apparent that I couldn’t make one list.  So I made three.  Broken down chronologically by era.  I decided on the parameters of each era unilaterally.  The title of each will likely give away those parameters.  They represent three lists of songs that I thought millennials needed to hear.  To really help them learn to rock and maybe be a little less…well a little less of all the stuff about millennials that irritates the world.

genxcoolnessAlso, these songs are awesome in their own right.  If you’re a Gen Xer and you haven’t heard any of these songs…well that is just really, really depressing.  Heartbreaking really.  You’ll also notice that none of the songs represent the grunge genre.  To which Gen X, in my opinion, should profusely apologize.  My lists are really just classic rock, which I recently read spans the time period from roughly 1967 with the release of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band to the ironically named Nirvana’s release of the joyless Nevermind which laid waste to classic rock in 1992.  And, in the process, destroyed the ability of anyone listening to popular music in the 90’s to be happy.  And that’s not just this 80’s kid who loves 80’s music – especially hair metal – saying that.  It’s science.  Or I guess musical facts.  Happy songs – like most of hair metal – have a fast tempo and are busting with major chords.  Grunge in the 90’s had a much slower beat and was defined by depressing minor chords.  Not kidding.  I think this is why so many millennials need therapy.  And it’s Gen X’s fault.  We subjected them to grunge in their formative years.  So here’s my attempt to help them rock the F out.

Pre High School

For You – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

No Time to Lose – Tarney Spencer Band

Blue on Black – Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Can’t You See – Marshall Tucker Band

Even Now – Bob Seger

Nicole – Point Blank

Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones

Just Between You and Me – April Wine

Stone in Love – Journey

Centerfold – J Geils Band

Owner of a Lonely Heart – Yes

Heart and Soul – Huey Lewis and the News

Crumbling Down – John Cougar Mellencamp

Living in a Big Country – Big Country

Love Somebody – Rick Springfield

Night Moves – Bob Seger

Let’s Go Crazy – Prince

 

High School

Girls With Guns – Tommy Shaw

Jammin Me – Tom Petty

Perfect Way – Scritti Politti

Go For Soda – Kim Mitchell

Throwing It All Away – Genesis

Take it Easy – Andy Taylor

Little Suzi – Tesla

Take Me Home Tonight – Eddie Money

Midnight Blue – Lou Gramm

Here I Go Again – Whitesnake

Heart and Soul – T’Pau

U Got the Look – Prince with Sheena Easton

Just Like Paradise – David Lee Roth

New Sensation – INXS

Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson

Hypnotize Me – Wang Chung

Nobody’s Fool – Kenny Loggins

 

College

Everybody Loves Eileen – Steelheart

Bang Bang – Danger Danger

Stranger Than Paradise – Sleeze Beez

Ride the Wind – Poison

Signs – Tesla

Freedom 90 – George Michael

Shot of Poison – Lita Ford

Coming of Age – Damn Yankees

Give It To Me Good – Trixter

Can’t Get Enough – Winger

Wait – White Lion

Fire Woman – The Cult

Bust a Move – Young MC

Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

Rush – Big Audio Dynamite II

What the World Needs Now – Cracker

Least Complicated – Indigo Girls

High School Graduation and it’s Trappings

Our oldest graduated from high school.  This a major rite of passage for any kid.

It is also a rite of passage for parents.  Because it’s weird.  They are kids for a long time.  Then they get to high school and you’re all, “holy crap I can’t believe I have a kid old enough to be in high school.”  Then, in a flash, they start driving and then they graduate and are getting ready for college.  And yes, it kinda feels like it happens that fast.  So all the graduation stuff starts getting thrown at you the summer before they graduate.  You have to make sure they take the ACT and/or SAT.  You have to get applications in for college.  You have to apply for scholarships.  You have to get all registered for financial aid.  You have figure how much to drink to make the stress of tuition payments go away.  It is all very disconcerting.  Not because it is especially complicated – it isn’t – but because you’re just not ready for it.  So it all feels foreign.  Like James Comey and the truth.

Anyway, you navigate your way through all that crap and then you get to May of your kid’s senior year – and graduation is literally days away.  But first you have to do something.

Have a grad party.

Yeah, this is a thing.  Some of you are reading this and saying – aloud – “Yeah, no sh*t Sherlock.  And guess what else?  Water is wet, socialism always fails and golf is stupid.”  Well, I didn’t know that.  I mean of course I knew water was wet and that socialism always fails and that golf is stupid.  But I didn’t know grad parties were such big freaking deal.  Now, those of you who just mocked me incredulously for not knowing grad parties are a thing, are now incredulously mocking me for admitting it.  Because here’s the deal – I didn’t have one.  I don’t really remember going to any.  Disclaimer – if you had a grad party in 1988 and it is a really special memory for you and I attended but now don’t remember attending – I sincerely apologize.  My brain is mostly filled with useless facts and movie quotes.  So I didn’t realize the importance or enormity of the grad party then or now.

But it is a big f*%king deal.

All of our senior’s friends had parties starting the first week in May going all the way through the first week in June.  Every weekend.  There was even one on a Thursday night.  We’d ask what she was doing and the answer was always, “going to grad parties.”

weirdsciencepartyNow just so we’re clear, as you’ve likely assumed, I did not realize how big of deal this was.  I was thinking, yeah, we’ll order some pizzas, get some gatorades for the kids and I’ll have a cooler of Miller Lites handy for me and other bewildered Dads.  Because in my head, channeling the 18 year old in me who sometimes shows up unexpectedly, I was thinking that most of these high school seniors want to have a grad party that is similar Wyatt and Gary’s blowout in Weird Science.

I got yelled at for this.

And not in a funny TV sitcom, “oh Dad you’re so silly” kinda way.  It was in a “you stupid ignorant moron” kinda way.  Which I thought was unfair.  I mean how the hell was I supposed to know the attention to detail that was about to commence in preparation to this party.  Because, as I mentioned above, a party to me is friends, beers, and I suppose other stuff.  But I’m a simple guy with uncomplicated thoughts on parties.

But that is clearly not the way these things work.

Here how it works – the kids stagger the starts of their parties using some kind of shared  – but secret – matrix.  Then marauding packs of high school seniors party hop from one house to another.  The family hosting the party invites family friends, family members, neighbors – mostly people who have some connection to the graduating senior.  Then the senior invites EVERYBODY THEY KNOW.  If the senior has siblings, the siblings invite a few of their friends too.  The hosting family is to provide some type of food and drinks along with seating.

But that’s the easy part.

We had to pick out invitations, pick out pictures for the invitations and then mail them.  There was a whole editing process.  Which we of course screwed by putting the wrong date on the invitations.

Then one of the mandatory things you are supposed to create are picture boards.  Mom was on me like Joe Dumars on Jordan in the ’88 playoffs to go through old pictures.  My response?  I did virtually nothing.  Which is my go to move in situations like this.  Kobe had the step back jumper, I have the lazy possum.  She poured through pictures.  She was like a Bletchely Park analyst going through reconnaissance photos of the D-Day landing beaches looking for obstacles for the amphibious landing craft.  She did it for days.  Our 18 year-old did the same.  So much so that they created two.  One with pics of her as a little tiny kid – titled the throwback board –  and one with all her high school friends.  Oh and did I mention that we had a double party.  Yeah, we combined graduation parties.  So our senior and her best friend had their parties at our house.

First we had to set up tables and chairs.  And table cloths and center pieces.  My reaction to the center pieces was basically WTF.  I can’t be alone in my thought process here.  I mean if I line up 10 people, 5 people at most are going to notice the center pieces enough to mention them.  To me they are just one more thing to clean up.

Then came the food.  Right, so I’m thinking a bowl of pretzels.  And, well, maybe Cheetos I guess?  Little smokies?  Once again, my instincts proved incorrect.

We had homemade salsa, guac and queso with chips, cups of custom made ice cream and specially designed cookies with the girls names on them.  Yeah.  Fancy.  Then coolers of pop. water, gatorade and…beers.  Yes!  But we somehow had to keep the 18 year-olds out of the beers.  Did pretty well.  But that lies mostly with a couple our daughter’s friends who caught a few people trying to sneak beers out of the basement fridge.  So they laid the smack down and took care of business.  It was mostly a stare down and pointed comments, not the Chuck Norris roundhouse I was hoping for…but I still managed to avoid being the parent who allowed the seniors to drink beers at the grad party.

Lasted about 3, maybe 4 hours.  Had to give some grudging respect to our 16 year old’s friends who stopped by the party early then left for another party but then came back because the food at our party was kick ass.  It was.  I was eating homemade guac for days afterwards.  Also the Dads might stop back later to help you finish the beers.  Regardless, it marked the official end of high school stuff for our oldest daughter.

It was a quick transition too.  A few weeks after the grad party we did college orientation.  So I have some thoughts on that too…

 

Lollapalooza

This August Lollapalooza is in Chicago.  Our 18 year-old recent high school graduate would like to go the concert.  So a couple things here:

1-What do you know about Lollapalooza?  Here’s the extent of my knowledge – Its been around for about 20 years and has never had a band that I liked.  Pretty sure it started out as festival for the weird alternative kids.  Now its morphed into a teen infested concert of top 40 acts criticized by by the pretentious music snobs who like to condescend about the musical tastes of the masses.  Or how the liberal coastal elites talk about everyone who is not them.

2-Its in Chicago.  According to the Chicago Police Department the number of murders across the city is up 38% over the last 4 years.  The number of sexual assaults during the same time period is up 57%.  It is one of the most gang infested cities in the nation.  Otherwise, I hear its super safe.

3-Setting a car load of 18 year-old girls loose at a concert where liquor is readily available seems likely to end in the same place as Johnny Manziel’s NFL career.

So she’s not going.  Turns out we scheduled vacation during the same week as the concert.  So it was a just a flat “no” instead of a “no” accompanied by the aforementioned facts.