You’ve Got To Learn To Be The Ball

Being a parent presents you with some interesting dilemma’s.  Do you buy your kid a car when they turn 16?  They’ve obviously done nothing to deserve it.  But it will also simplify your life significantly if they can drive themselves to school and pick up your other two kids from school, practices and activities.  Do you, through steady but almost undetectable daily pressure indoctrinate your kid into being an Iowa State fan even though their Mom went to Iowa? Naturally some are more important than others but almost all can be approached with some wisdom from 80’s movies.  Don’t leave your wingman, never get involved in a land war in Asia, screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.  But if parenting and the 80’s have taught me anything, its you’ve got to learn to be the ball.

For example most parents preach good decision-making to their kids so they are armed with enough sound judgement that can make tough decisions in the course of their day.  So…parental dilemmas, be the ball, good decision-making…

A couple Friday afternoons ago, I’m driving home from work listening to Lita Ford’s underappreciated early 90’s hit “Shot of Poison.”  If you’re wondering what 1991 sounded like wait till the 2:13 mark of the song and that’s exactly what it sounded like.  1991 was the year I turned 21.  So the song reminds of beers…and Friday afternoons…and beers on a Friday afternoon.

Which led me to think about my old neighbors.  A thought which they’ll appreciate.  One of them is a huge Duke basketball fan and Duke tipped at 6:20.  But it was only about 4:30.  Hmm…

A quick phone call, a quick stop at the gas station with the walk-in beer cooler and I’m sitting in my neighbor’s garage just as the SMU-USC game ends.  We have a few beers, talk college basketball and…have a few beers.  This is literally my favorite thing to do.  That isn’t hyperbole or a superfluous use of the word “literally.”  It combines several things which I – and you if your’re being honest with yourself – enjoy.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them all independently.  I do.  But I really enjoy them all together.  Kinda like nachos.  Chips, cheese, meat, salsa, etc.  All good on their own but really good together.  Let me further explain.  I like beers.  So I stopped and picked up a six-pack of Miller Lite tallboys even though I was fully aware that my old neighbors had close to a full case of Miller Lite in their fridge…mostly for me when I drop by unexpectedly.  And probably when I do it expectedly.  Regardless, the Miller Lite is for me.  In addition to beers, I like Friday afternoon right after work.  It’s my favorite time of the week.  The whole weekend is ahead of you and it’s the only time I totally and completely feel free to unplug from the my responsibilities as an adult.  In addition to beers and Friday afternoon after work, I love that first weekend of the NCAA tournament.  32 games (of which I picked 30 correctly this year) and games nearly around the clock.  In addition to beers, Friday afternoon after work and the first weekend of the NCAA tourney, I like hanging with my old neighbors in their garage.  We named it the DT – short for Downing Tap – a few years ago.  Best neighbor bar I’ve ever been too.  Plenty parking, the bathroom is clean, Miller Lites are cold, there’s a TV in the garage and if you forget to bring your own chair they almost always have an extra.  Plus, if you’re lucky, you show up on a day they’re serving food.  This particular Friday was such a day.

Let’s review – beers, Friday afternoon after work, first weekend of the NCAA tourney, the DT.  Naturally I stayed until about 10:30.

What?  All I did was essentially FAC.  It was okay in college and its okay now.  But here’s the cool thing.  Mom took all the girls down to Kansas City on Thursday morning.  It was like my own mini-version of the National Day Without Women.  Or whatever that was supposed to be.  I can’t keep track of all the awareness outragery that I’m supposed to care about.  Here’s the thing, Mom said they get home about 7:00 Friday evening.  I’m no math wiz but I figured they’d home in plenty of time in case I needed somebody to come pick me up.

Which I of course did.  Anything would have been surprise.  I texted Mom and told her I needed a ride home at some point and she might want to send Rye and Kinz over to pick me up.  Rye’s had her license for over a year and Kinz has her learner’s permit.  And I needed somebody to drive my truck home.  So Rye drops off Kinz, I give her the keys and she drives us both home.

Now depending on your level of judgmental smuggery and/or condescending moral superiority, you’re assessing my fitness as a parent.  While some of you, if you subscribe to the same child-raising handbook as me, are smiling and nodding to yourself thinking, “yeah, that’s just smart parenting.”

How is that those of you in living the land of Smuggington contemptuously ask.  Simple.

You’ve got to learn to be the ball.  I combined beers, Friday afternoon after work, the first weekend of the NCAA tourney and the DT into a real life lesson on what to do after you’ve one (four) beer(s) too many.  You know what that makes me?  The best Dad on the planet.

Surprises

I don’t like surprises.  It’s against my nature.

So I walk into the gas station down the street from our new house to get my 44 oz. Diet Pepsi which I get nearly every morning on the way to work.  If you’re a pop nazi and feel a burning need to start lecturing me about all the horribly destructive stuff pop does to my teeth and esophagus, well, suck it.  I’m drinking it.  If Hillary is elected she’ll outlaw it anyway.  My beloved 44 ouncer costs $1.06.  I go in with exact change every morning.  What?  I have too much change in my truck and I’m trying to get rid of it.  Seriously.  I bet my gas mileage improves with every 44 ouncer I buy.  Not to mention the fact that I like to pay with cash (or coins when applicable).  Why?  Because it’s nobody’s business what, when or how often I buy stuff.  Corporate America and the government ain’t tracking my consumer purchases!

Anyway, the pop costs $1.06.  Until today.  I reach over to hand the guy behind the counter my $1.06 and he  says “$1.58.”

Upon recognition of my look of both dismay and resigned realization of the inevitability of a cost increase, he – not surprisingly – says, “Price went up today.”

No sh*t.

I give him a $1.60, which isn’t exact change, and I leave.  I mean, they got me.  I’m going to this gas station to get pop.  I’m not changing my morning routine.  I like routines.  They eliminate decisions.  And right now, at work, I’m making decisions all freaking day.  So in the morning I don’t want to have to add unneeded and unnecessary decisions to an already decisiony  day.  So the question is, “who decided that 52 cent increase was justified for my 44 oz pop?”

I’m blaming Obamacare.  It has raised the cost of everything.  And Hillary.  Any day now there will be an email released detailing her role in the price increase.  Probably Kurt Cobain and all those assholes in Seattle who killed hair metal had something to do with it too.  The idiot who brought Emerald Ash Borer to the Midwest and killed all the ash trees is guilty too.  And while I’m at it…George Atkinson for prematurely ending Lynn Swann’s career due to concussions.  The mid-90’s for the general suckitude of the music.  Francisco Cabrera.  Smartphones.  The creators of MTV’s The Real World for coming up the genre of reality TV.  Millennials.  Big 10 commissioner Jim Delaney.  And whoever is responsible for the death of Saturday morning cartoons.

Done.

Some Things Don’t Change

Seven weeks in the new house. I know everybody tells you moving is a huge hassle, and the truth is…its worse. Unless, of course, you’re old neighbors were Keith Olbermann, Bill Belichick and Elizabeth Warren. Then moving is glorious. But outside of that, moving just sucks. Not along the lines of working in a coal mine in the early 1900’s, watching golf or being a Bengals fan but still pretty crappy. I’m still somewhat, but not totally, amazed that we actually pulled it off.

The main reason we moved was sheer square footage. In the new house, each girl has her own room and now they have two bathrooms to fight over instead of one. But, and this is key, there are three sinks. In case you’re having trouble with the math, that means each kid can be in front of a sink at the SAME FREAKING TIME. Literally, not figuratively, life changing. The garage is bigger so now we don’t have to play musical chairs with the cars every morning to get out of the garage/driveway and lastly, the basement is now big enough that the girls can invite more than one friend over at a time.

But some things simply don’t change.

Millenials suck. Skynet will eventually become self-aware. And the girls still steal each other’s clothes and shoes and deny it happened.

They’re like Soviet diplomats in the 80’s. Did you take Rye’s shirt and wear it to school? I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand the question. But if I did accurately understand it, I have no knowledge of any shirt, let alone the shirt in question. Furthermore you have provided nothing that demonstrates my involvement and I am forced to conclude that this is yet another attempt by a corrupt and greedy western system to undermine the proletariat.

Also, they refuse to put their shoes in their rooms. Refuse! Now, see if you can follow me here – they get ticked off at each other when one of them absconds with a pair of shoes that is not their own. They complain – loudly – and insist on the involvement of Mom and I to officiate the annoyance and then keep score regarding the number of times their shoes have been pilfered. Keeping their own shoes in their own rooms provides a degree of security that the small area in front of the door to garage does not. Yet that is where the shoes end up.  It’s as if their wi-fi connectivity depends on their shoes not being in their rooms. Their actions can only be construed as an outright repudiation of the principals of The Drop Zone. As I’ve previously mentioned, our new house has this sweet drop zone as you walk in from the garage. It has three hooks, a bench and plenty of space beneath the bench to TEMPORARILY locate 4 pairs of shoes. Maybe 5 if they’re small. Plus right next to the drop zone, and I mean literally right next to it, is a coat closet. So shoes, jackets, backpacks all have a place in which they can be put. None of those places can, in any reasonable way, be misinterpreted as piling them on top of each other in such a manner than they resemble the county dump. I have to use the door to the garage as a snow plow to push the shoes out of my way when I get home. Bails has more shoes in the drop zone than she does in her closet. Not kidding. I asked her why all her shoes on in the drop zone instead of in her closet. Her answer?

“How am I supposed to know what shoes I’m going to want to wear everyday? It’s easier if they’re all just downstairs.”

So, in case you’re not following along, her convenience is the primary directive on which we’re operating.

I think Missing Persons pretty much nailed my conclusions in their 1982 new wave hit Words.

“Do you hear me, Do you care…I might as well go up and talk to a wall ’cause all the words are having no effect at all…What are words for when no one listens it’s no use talkin at all…My lips are moving and the sound’s coming out, The words are audible but I have my doubts.”

You know I’m saying…

Unforeseen Issues

Okay, so make a quick list of things you expect to be issues and/or problems with your new house.  This may be easy for you.  Maybe even second nature if you watch HGTV as much as Mom does.  But that last time I moved How Bizarre by OMC and Fly by Sugar Ray were racing up the charts, John Elway was still a quarterback, and college interns were still interested in Slick Willie.

Anyway, make a list…take your time.  I’m just spitballin’ here but I’m gonna say cracks in the drywall, maybe some grading and/or drainage issues in the yard, and probably some minor leaking issues on the roof or in the bathroom are on your list.  Of course there are other issues with which to deal.  Maybe your neighbors to the west are Ravens fans.  Maybe the couple on the corner really likes garden gnomes.  Maybe the people across the street are freaking millennials who drive a Prius and are offended by everything.  Just speculating.  I don’t really know what kind of neighborhood you moved into.

But one thing that we failed to include on our list was rabidly aggressive robins.  At any point while you ran through the things to double check with the builder and/or house inspector did two crazy-ass belligerent robins show up?  Upon taking possession of your new house whilst at the bank during your closing did it dawn on you to mention that one thing that might derail the whole deal was two avian kamikaze terrorists?

Yeah so we have two robins that have built a nest in one of the pine trees along our back property line.  Normally I wouldn’t think twice about it.  In fact, it is a better spot than where the robins used to try and build a nest every spring in the old house.  I used to have a yearly battle with these two winged morons who insisted on building a nest on the house light right next to the front door.  Every morning I’d knock down the beginnings of a nest and those two idiots would just keep building.  They were like the Terminators of robins – they just absolutely would not stop!  But these two robins at the new house have evidently become somewhat accustomed to having complete dominion over the backyard.  A part of this misguided dominance is an exceptionally hardline stance against other robins.  Particularly robins which look exactly like them and have the annoying tendency to mimic their every move.  Every.  Damn.  Move.

But reflections in windows do that.

The brain of a bird is roughly the same size as the list of Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments as Secretary of State.  And the birds behave accordingly.  The day we moved in I’m down in the basement doing the things you do when you move into a new house.  Unpacking boxes, moving furniture, wondering what all the bird crap and accompanying bird like markings were doing all over the patio and sliding glass door.  It looked a velociraptor was trying to get through the door.  Bird shaped feet marks all over the glass.  So much that it obstructed your view.  They’d been evidently attacking these “other” two intransigent robins repeatedly for months with no success.  I’m sure it was frustrating.  It was probably like attacking Donald Trump in the GOP primary.  Doesn’t matter what you do, he just keeps showing up same as before.

The obvious solution to this problem is deforestation of the backyard.  In gleeful disdain I dubbed this the Al Gore option.  There are only five pines and a maple back there.  Having some activity in the house and the installation of window blinds has helped keep these two supremely dense robins away from nearly all the windows.  But not the basement slider.  In fact, I met out new next door neighbor while I was out cleaning the outside of the door.  Neighbor walks over, introduces himself and then starts marveling at the robins’ persistence when smashing themselves into the glass.  Trading blows with the reflection over and over like Bird and Dominique in Game 7 of the ’88 Eastern Conference Semis.  Then, when they aren’t hurling themselves at the glass, they sit right up against it and crap all over the patio. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is what Bernie Sanders supporters plan to do at the Democratic National Convention.

I’ve narrowed my options down to the following:

  • The aforementioned Al Gore option. Doomed to failure or irrelevancy like most of the things bearing Al Gore’s name.
  • Bob Lee Swagger Option. In a ghille suit I lay in the tall grass in the undeveloped lot behind us, check wind speed, range, target movement, barometric pressure, the number of beers left in my cooler and decide how to eliminate the target – pellet gun, pressure washer or bottle rockets.  Not gonna lie, I really like the bottle rocket idea.
  • Total War. Here’s the plan – first, I grind up Krispy Kreme donuts and infuse the tiny donut particles into the seed in a bird feeder placed near their nest.  After a couple weeks or so the birds become so fat they can’t fly.  Using their sensitivity to sound against them, I play comments from Debbie Wasserman-Shultz over and over until the fat flightless birds are immobilized with liberal guilt.  Pretty soon something higher up the food chain will just take care of business.

So I guess I’ve got some thinking to do…

Leaving Your House

It’s been about three weeks since we moved.  It’s weird.  You live in a house for almost 19 years then one morning you wake up and all your stuff gets moved to a different house.  And listen, it is amazing the stuff you’ve not only accumulated over 19 years but the things you’ve somehow kept.  Like my cassette tape single of Dirty Love by Thunder.  Not only a great song but totally emblematic of the summer of the ’91.  Other things awesome about the summer of ’91?  The T-1000, Andy Van Slyke in centerfield for the Pirates and I went to Game 2 of the NBA Finals and saw this:

jordan1991game2handswitch

I really thought it would be more difficult to leave the house once we fixed all the little things and made it look so nice.  Over the last few years, we’d renovated two bathrooms, replaced all the windows, put a new roof on, re-sided the house, sealed and patched the garage floor, put new carpet in the upstairs and downstairs and I really thought, man, we put a lot of cash, time and effort into this house…and then the bank handed me the check at closing.  Turns out I don’t really miss it as much as I thought.  I miss our old neighbors.  I miss the big trees.  I mean the convenience of the location.  Dude, I could get anywhere – bank, grocery store, gas station, Mexican restaurant, Target, mall, softball fields, three different schools, dry cleaners, hardware store all in 10 minutes or less.  New house?  We’ve been completely sealed off by traffic lights.  Everything takes more time.  Seriously add 15 minutes and lots of swearing to everywhere you go.  By the time you’re home on the couch watching The Goldbergs you’ve become pretty irritated.  Thankfully, I’m figuring out the shortcuts.  There’s exactly one.  As in uno.  Regardless, what I really miss is knowing where the hell everything is located inside the house.

You spend 19 years in a house and you literally, not figuratively, know where everything is.  Forks and knives?  Same drawer they’ve been in for 19 years.  Duct tape?  Utility drawer in in the kitchen.  DePaul Blue Demons pennant you’ve had since the ’83-’84 season?  White bin on the second shelf in the basement.

Now?

I don’t even freaking know which freaking switch turns on the freaking lights in the freaking house.  I came down the stairs early in the morning this week and I’m hitting every freaking light switch I can find to try and turn on the damn light above the kitchen table.  It probably looked like gun shots if you were standing outside watching.

You know what else is a bit unsettling?  Tampa Bay possibly playing San Jose for Lord Stanley’s Cup that’s what.  Also, mowing a different yard.  An entirely different patch of earth.  Yeah, I had the pattern rotation down cold in the old yard.  I had it down so I could mow, trim and edge all under an hour.  Now?  I almost collapsed from exhaustion the first time I mowed the new yard.  Didn’t help that the mower kinda crapped out me  but listen, this new yard…is a BIG DAMN yard.  It’s like push mowing Montana.  I looked like Forrest Gump when he was finally done running.

Plus the first time I did it the internet guys hadn’t buried the cable line yet so I had to constantly pick up and mow under the freaking thing.  Pretty sure this is how involuntary amputations happen.  Oh, and special thanks to the builder who decided it was swell idea to grade the dirt around the southeast corner of house so pushing the mower up that hill is like running up the damn American Ninja Warrior Warped Wall.  That was super enjoyable.  Plus the self-propelled part of the self-propelled drive on the right rear wheel packed it in for the rest of the job which meant that not only was the mower now half self-propelled and half 45 year-old-Dad-propelled, but it was pulling heavily to the left.  So I’m trying to mow a small hill that is, roughly speaking, an 80 degree grade while reaching down and picking up the exposed internet line with a mower running at 50% propulsion that really just wants to turn left.  If I had video I’m pretty sure it would be a good visual representation of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Before I could get the trimmer out I had to go inside and sit down for 20 minutes to prevent a cardiac event.  Pretty much decided at that point that I was going to mulch…or pave…the entire yard.  I’d start looking at lawn tractors…or as some of you may know them – riding mowers – but that really just feels like quitting.  Like giving into my impending 46th birthday.   My solution?  American Ninja Warrior.  I’m just gonna scale that damn hill full speed everyday until its easy.  46 years-old my ass.

Hot Water

I live in a house with 4 other people.  All girls.  They have lots of things.  Sarcasm and hair top the list.   I’ll take some of the blame for sarcasm.  I speak it fluently.   I may have passed on that gene.  Or they might just all be teenagers.  But when it comes to clogged shower drains or blocked bathroom sinks, I’m not at fault.  I could be standing in a category 5 hurricane and my hair would give you no indication.  None.  That being said, we do share one thing.  Hot water.

When I was a kid, I grew up in a house with 4 other people.  In college I shared a house with 4 other dudes.  Hot water was a commodity.  Like sincerity in a speech by Ted Cruz.  The size, age and efficiency of your water heater helped dictate the acuteness of your hot water radar.  Over the years I believe I have developed a relatively strong sense of how much hot water is available based on the hot water related activities going on in the house.  It’s kinda like the noise level on the second floor when Mom and I are watching TV in the family room.  There is a level of noise, an intensity of clamor, a degree of hullabaloo that we don’t notice.  It’s not that we’re ignoring it, but after many years of parenting we have developed an acute sense of when something is amiss and when something is just…well…the girls “talking” to each other.  We’re aware of what’s going on but we pay it no attention.  Like any statement from Hillary suggesting competence in regards to her foreign policy experience.  If you haven’t seen 13 Hours in Benghazi you should.  However, there is a simple rule of thumb that is rarely if ever unreliable.  When it comes to showers and house full of people, you want to be first.

Sometimes this will require you to wake up early.

Other times it will require you to shower at odd times.

Or you can just get in line and hope for the best.

I have no sympathy for you if you continually chose #3 and bitch about cold water.  That’s like getting into a discussion about hair metal with a millennial and expecting wisdom.  Or telling them that the Ghost video from Ella Henderson bears a striking similarity to Warrant’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin?  Just me?  Whatever…

Anyway, recently, Kinz comes barreling down the stairs to let us know that Rye and Bails have used all the hot water.  They are, and I’m paraphrasing here, inconsiderate jerks with no appreciation or respect for widely agreed upon rules of hot water consumption.  Now we all have our burdens to bear.  The ’83 Steelers had Cliff Stoudt at quarterback.  Hans Gruber had John McClane.  Thundarr the Barbarian had the vile sorcerer Sabien.  It can be tough out there.

But this is not one of those burdens.  This is an inconvenience.  A burden is supervising John Bender in detention on a Saturday.  This is a lesson in the art of acting quickly.  A lesson in immediately diagnosing a situation, devising a plan of action, and then acting on that plan.  Joshua Chamberlain did it on Little Round Top and Kinz needs to do it here.

But Kinz has yet to learn an important lesson.  Over the years I have learned not to complain if I get there and the water temperature is less than what I expected.  Because in reality, you only have two options – bitch about it.  Which isn’t going to make the water any hotter but could make the rest of day less enjoyable as your family dismisses your plight the same way Higgins would dismiss Magnum’s need to the drive the Ferrari.  Or you can go fast.  And I have some experience with this.

A few years ago, in the middle of winter, our water heater went out.  Died.  Quit.  Like Roberto Duran in his last fight with Sugar Ray.  Which meant that, while we technically could still take showers, we spent of the time avoiding the water instead of actually using.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, we could have used one of the other appliances in the house to warm up a pot of water and used that to bath.  Well, and I’m thinking of a word here…that’s just stupid.  What the hell are we?  Pio-freaking-neers trekking across the Great Plains avoiding Indian raids whilst searching for the Oregon Trail?   No!  We have plumbing.  So even the water is like Lake Michigan in January, we’re using it.

Now there are a lot of things I like.  That first taste of a cold beer on a Friday after work.  Youtube videos of 70’s NFL games.  Being 10 feet from Dee Snider singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.  But after a few days of cold showers, stepping into a hot one is indescribable.  It’s feels like this:

But none of that helped Kinz.  She stood there whining and complaining about the lack of hot water for shower.  Only I couldn’t really hear her.  Why?  Because before I could unleash my own words of disdainful sarcasm, Mom, Rye and Bails just buried her with it.  It really was breathtaking.

We haven’t had too many issues with shower since.  Sometimes things just take care of themselves.

Show Teeth Part 4: Liquid Diet

When your dentist tells you that you’re on a liquid diet for the next two weeks what is your reaction?

If you’re like me it was, “Woo hoo! Every beer’s a sandwich!”

No seriously, what’s your reaction? A liquid diet severely limits the available intake. The twist is that in order to take the painkillers you can’t have an empty stomach. So you have to ingest something. Unless you enjoy pain radiating from your gums. I’ve never been on a liquid diet before. Well, not counting Friday afternoons in college. Doesn’t anybody else miss FACing? Regardless, anything that requires you to use your front teeth to bite, tear or even hold a piece of food in place is off the menu. Because, in case you forgot, you’re two front teeth are as useless as an ethics seminar for Hillary Clinton. They’re show teeth, not work teeth. And while the magic dental cement is holding your teeth in place, it’s rather painful if anything touches them – literally anything – your other teeth, your tongue, air.

My initial reaction was just a matter of fact, “well if that’s what the deal is, I’ll figure it out.” My subsequent reaction was “Crap, he really said liquid diet for two weeks.” So we stopped at the grocery store before heading home from the dentist. We made a short list that essentially was “stuff that I could put in a blender.” But the thing I didn’t really think about was walking through the grocery store around 9:30 on a Thursday night looking like John McClane after that night in the Nakatomi Building might be somewhat disconcerting for other grocery store patrons. Unless it’s Halloween, nobody really expects to see a guy with blood spatter all over his face and shirt in the grocery store. Well, unless its a random drunk millennial couple who took a selfie while picking out some organic frozen pizza on the way home from the bar and was deservedly punched in the face. That wouldn’t shake me or any other Gen Xer at all. Probably get a few head nods and an “about freaking time” comment. But nobody expected to see a 45 year-old dude with a top lip the size of a zeppelin with stitches poking out of it walking around the grocery store with bananas, blueberries, raspberries, protein powder and milk. What? Smoothies man, smoothies. You can’t put nachos in the blender.

So after my weird shower where I couldn’t feel the water hitting my face, I took the painkillers and drank the smoothie. Didn’t sleep much. I was afraid to close my mouth. Or move my tongue. I was jarred awake at one point after I presumably, albeit unconsciously, introduced my replanted teeth to my permanent teeth on the bottom row. Mom had set the alarm for exactly 8 hours after I took the initial dose of painkillers so I could take the next dose and avoid “chasing the pain.” So I had another smoothie. Then I had the stark realization that until I ceased looking like Marko the Albanian crimelord after Liam Neeson beat the crap out of him in Taken, I was going to be drinking smoothies and nothing else. Two things here. First, it wasn’t like drinking the smoothies was easy. I had to tip my head back and pour the smoothie into my mouth without any of it touching my front teeth. Not as simple as it sounds. I’m serious. Go do it right now. Tough isn’t it? Second, you quickly get to the point that you decide that being hungry is preferable to consuming anything. It was such a freaking production, and not to mention still painful, that it was easier to determine how much I actually needed to consume in order to the take the painkillers. Turns out not much.

Saturday morning, and I assume this was because she wanted to torture me, Mom went out to Panera and got the girls some breakfast. The only item that wasn’t fully consumed was a cinnamon roll. Yes, cinnamon rolls are kinda soft. And yes, I did put some thought into mixing it with milk in the blender. But in the end I just decided it wasn’t worth it. But just before taking the girls to the mall, Mom took the time to cut it up into tiny pieces. And I mean tiny. Like Barbie size pieces. Like Barbie and Ken, using Barbie sized plates and forks could each have had one of these tiny pieces on those plates while using those forks and it would have looked like a photo from the 1977 JCPenny Christmas catalog.

So you can guess what happens next. In words of Joel Goodson in Risky Business, “Sometimes you just gotta say, what the f*&#.” Or you throw caution to the wind and eat the cinnamon roll. You kind of chew with your tougue and your molars. Mostly your tongue. Oh, and you never actually close your mouth. Go ahead. Try it. It’s not easy. You eat less but it takes a long time. You smash the tiny pieces of cinnamon roll against you molars. I also tried this with tiny pieces of pineapple and cantaloupe. Tested a couple soups. And then eventually moved on to oatmeal. Lots and lots of oatmeal.

Thankfully I’m about 8 weeks post impact and if I hadn’t told you this story you’d never notice that any of this happened. You might ask why I lost some weight but there’s really no noticeable difference save a small scar on my top lip. A week after it happened the dentist did a double root canal on each tooth. It was pretty uneventful. Two weeks after that she took off the bonding that was the front of the teeth and then about 2 and a-half weeks after that she took the bonding off the back of the teeth. In her words, the ligaments and the gums are healing surprisingly really well. She’s going to write an article about me and submit it to a dental journal. Turns out while I’m 45, my teeth my gums are only 12. Teeth are solid. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a better chance the media recognizes that Bernie Sanders sounds a lot like the totalitarian national socialists of 1930’s Germany than a 60’s era socialist than I take a bite of an apple or even a sandwich. But I’m fine cutting everything into manageable pieces.

So you’re wondering, have I learned anything from this experience. Well, yes. I bought a catcher’s mask and won’t pitch to the girls without it. Also, after people experience something painfully stressful, I completely get why they might be a bit jumpy when it comes to doing it again. Additionally, I might write a quick full-proof weight loss plan based on consuming nothing other than liquids and soft foods cut into tiny pieces. Finally, I believe I’ve found the phrase that best describes this:

“Man, the sh*t you do for your kids.”

End of Summer Ramblings

So here’s a quick run down of our summer.

Went here:
GulfCoastbeach

Didn’t ride this:
universalrollercoaster

Drank this:
ozarksbeer

Just got back from here:
Ozarksfeet

Here’s what our soon to be high school sophomore daughter bought while on vacation earlier this month:
JoeElliotJeans

I couldn’t say no. I mean, they are freaking awesome. Pretty sure the tag actually says “Hysteria.” I really don’t mind walking through the mall and going into the some of the stores the girls like because all the stuff is pretty familiar. Except I’m the old guy in the store now. But the clothing racks sure look like it could be any random day between 1987-1991. I mean, shredded jeans? Not that I can pull it any of it off in the least by the way, but a dude can reminisce. All I need is a 12 pack of Milwaukee’s Best, hair, and my faded Levi’s jean jacket.

Anyway, summer in all its brilliant awesomeness is coming to a close. School starts Monday for the girls. Like Bob Seger tells in Night Moves – “Strange how the night moves, With autumn closing in.”

It always is interesting to me how this happens. I mean you roll through June with the outlook that the whole summer is ahead of you. Then the Fourth of July arrives. You’re complaining about having to wear socks to work, you’re kids haven’t been out of bed before 10 a.m. since the last day of school and baseball is really, really holding your interest. Seriously, how are the Cardinals doing it? I’m convinced they are the Patriots of the MLB. They’re cheating. Anyway, you my friend, are without any question, a summer veteran.

July is a good month for us. Not too much dance stuff going on with Rye, softball takes a break with Kinz and Bails, and we normally take a vacation. This year we jammed two separate trips into a span of 24 days. 16 days on vacation and 8 days at work. I’m not gonna lie, it was really pretty great, as the visual summary above indicates.

So now it’s August. I’ve always liked August. Never really been all that fond of September though. Not sure why. Maybe its because September always seems confused. Like Rick Perry. Is it summer? Or is it fall? August knows that it’s the end of summer. How does it know this? Pre-season NFL football begins, Octoberfest beers start to appear in your grocery store coolers and kids start to have that resigned look that only the impending first day of school can generate.

Oh, and I can’t wait to hear the whining next week when they have to be up early. It will be an extravaganza of completely unjustified whining. They are going to school. With their friends. For 6-7 hours. That’s called leaving early if you have a job. They will be in 6th, 8th and 10th grade this fall. Every year it becomes more and more disconcerting. Sure, when I started 10th grade it was the fall of ’85. I was listening to this:

Watching this:

And wearing these:
oldschoolreeboks

So, yes, it was a long time ago. But still…our youngest turns 12 in about a month…again disconcerting.

Stuff I Learned Whilst On Hiatus

In the zombie apocalypse I’m reasonably certain that I’ll survive the initial wave. Pay attention, take the signs seriously and hunker down. But after that I’m dead. Why? I don’t really have any skills that lend themselves to survival in that kind of world. I’m no good with a cross bow, my sniper skills are limited to Call of Duty and I have no idea how to make a fire or determine what is or is not edible in the wild. I have, on the other hand, developed a few skills during my years as a Dad.

The girls forced me to learn how to paint toenails. I have three daughters. If you had three daughters, you’d know how to do it too. You’d also know how to use a flat iron on your soon to be 6th grader’s hair. Why? Because just like Recon Platoon in Heartbreak Ridge you have improvise, overcome, adapt. Plus, little known fact here, but my hair in the winter of 1988/1989 was in reality long enough to be eligible for flat iron use. I didn’t know what a flat iron was or what one looked like back then…but I did know what awesomeness looked like and it was my hair, a Milwaukee’s Best Light and a Poison video on a Friday night in the dorms. Boom.

During my hiatus from writing this blog I also learned how to remove stitches. Yeah, like a freaking doctor. Guess that makes me the field medic in my house. Anyway, Mom had this weird bump under her skin right behind her left ear. Like any other Gen Xer who saw Kindergarten Cop I unceasingly stated in reference to said growth, “it could be a tumor.” She had it checked out and it was a cyst. Which, at least to me, sounds much grosser than a tumor. A cyst sounds like something that will mutate and turn you into the Kathoga from The Relic.

Regardless, Mom thought it would be a good idea if I removed the stitches. Yes, you read that correctly. She suggested this knowing that the only things I’m good at removing are nachos from their plate, beer from its can, and any sense of rationality from my reaction to the Steelers losing. Despite this she still handed me a seam ripper and the tweezers.

Oh, you don’t know what a seam ripper is? Me either. Still don’t. But Mom does. She learned how to use it in 4-H. Now don’t get me wrong, using something called a ripper sounds completely and utterly awesome. Using it on my Mom’s head? Suddenly not awesome.

“So you want me to take this seam ripper and sever this line of stitches kinda in the middle about here?”

“Yes.”

“And you are doing this of your own free will and are totally aware that said stitches are in fact in your skin? The skin that is on your head?”

“Yes.”

“Then you want me to grab the end this here piece of string that is woven into the skin on the base of your skull with these tweezers and you want me to pull on it until it comes out?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure? Because this seems like a trick. Like I’m going to do it and it’ll immediately cause horrendous pain and you’ll hold it over my head and use it as weapon until we’re 85 and it’ll come up in some argument we’re having about Depends undergarments.”

“Just do it.”

So I did. And it turns out I am a stitch removing savant. Either that or it is incredibly simple to remove stitches. I’m going with the former…

The First Ten Amendments

Recently, while Mom and I were watching TV, we heard some whining from the kitchen table. This is not unusual. Neither the whining or the TV watching. Mom and I watch TV all the time. In fact, I find it somewhat unsettling when I find out other people don’t watch TV. I mean, how does that even happen?

For example, if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…who?

The A-Team. The freaking A-Team. That’s who hire.

But if you never watched TV, you’ll end up hiring the B Team. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is like hiring Zito and Switek to take over for Crockett and Tubbs.

Anyway, back to the whining. Because that is what really got to me. Anytime at least two of the girls occupy chairs at the table, whining is a common occurrence. A general lack of consideration for each other? Typical. Nastiness? Routine. So we didn’t pay much attention until the tears, crying and snorting started. Turns out Bails was doing some homework, didn’t understand it and Rye evidently thought telling her to “zip it” was an effective helping strategy.

Finally, I couldn’t take it and walked over to the table, sat down next to Bails and asked if I could help. I was stunned to look at the worksheet on the table. It was titled “The First 10 Amendments.” Naturally I had assumed she was working on some type of math homework. I mean only math can induce the high levels of frustration and helplessness which cause crying and snorting. And it was that snorting that happens when they are crying, and their nose is running, and they kinda lose their breath so it sounds like a snort/cough/hack. Or the sound a millennial makes when a Gen Xer ridicules grunge.

Anyway, I look down and think “The Bill of Rights? How could this frustrate anybody except the Obama White House? Everybody likes the Bill of Rights.”

The front side was one of those match-up exercises where they had to draw a line from the amendment to the correct description. For example: Amendment 1 is matched up with Freedom of Speech and Religion. Amendment 2 is matched up with the Right to Possess Arms. You get the idea. Well I assume you get the idea. The results on the last presidential election clearly indicates some of you don’t.

On the back side is an invisible treasure map. Kidding. The back side contains ten hypothetical situations which pertain to a certain amendment in the Bill of Rights. Here’s an example:

“Elias wrote a nice lengthy article for the Daily News describing the changes students would like to see at Roosevelt Middle School. The principal tried to stop Elias’s article from being published in the local newspaper but she was unsuccessful.”

After I finished reading this example, I naturally thought this was a good time to explain the IRS scandal and how the Obama administration uses the power of the federal government to eliminate any group from articulating an argument opposed to the President’s agenda. Just like the principal at Roosevelt Middle School tried to do to Elias. As is usually the case, my additional information did not clarify things for Bails.

“What is the IRS?”

“Remember when I told you about taxes? Well, the IRS is the agency that collects all our taxes. They know all kinds of things about us. Where we live, how much money we have, what we do with our money, what we care about. Lots of stuff. Then once a year…”

“Wait, so these people know all that stuff?”

“Yes.”

“Do we know this stuff about them?”

“Well, no.”

“Dad, I don’t even like people knowing my middle name. Its nobody’s business. If they know my middle name they can find me and kidnap me. And now you are saying that some people know all kinds of private stuff about us. I don’t like that AT ALL.”

Only you know how you would react to this information presented to you by your 5th grade daughter. Maybe you’d refocus the discussion on the question at hand. Maybe you’d go into a more detailed explanation of the IRS and the federal income tax…if you did do this I’m sure you’d include all the ridicule due Woodrow Wilson and his status as the worst president in American history. Or maybe you’d do what I did.

magnumI smiled. Widely and broadly. Her reaction is so awesome, its hard to fathom. Like the rumored cross-over show between Quantum Leap and Magnum, PI with Sam Beckett leaping into Thomas Magnum. Yeah, that almost happened. For real. I know. Try going to sleep thinking about that!

But instead of adding that to conversation I said, “You’re dang right Bails. I don’t like people knowing stuff either that isn’t any of their business and I especially don’t like it when the president says those people are allowed to snoop around in your business and make threats against you so you’ll stop saying things that president don’t like.”

“But what does that have to do with my homework.”

“Because its all about the 1st Amendment. Just like Elias’ principal shouldn’t be allowed to censor his article because the principal doesn’t like it (to be completely honest I’m really not sure I agree with this example but that’s beside the point) the president doesn’t have the right to stop me from saying or doing things by threatening me with legal action from the IRS.”

“So the IRS knows all this private stuff about us and we have to pay them taxes? Dad, I don’t like taxes. Especially those taxes you were talking about that we have to pay because we have a house.”

“Property taxes?”

“Yeah, those are dumb. Why do we have to pay them just because we have a house?”

“Well they go to pay for things like schools, police, fire even the garbage guys. The police protect us, the fire department puts out fires and the garbage guys pick up our garbage. I don’t really see a problem with paying them for that kind of stuff. But they also pay for schools and teachers. You go to school and that costs money.”

“Well when I’m a grown up and I don’t have any kids, I’m not paying property taxes. I don’t have kids, so I shouldn’t have to pay those taxes for schools. That’s like paying for nothing.”

Wide broad smiles. Bailey’s natural opposition to paying taxes, especially ones for which she perceives no benefit, was heartwarming. Gratifying. Freaking awesome. She’s only in 5th grade and she’s already mad about taxes. Imagine what she’ll be like when she’s 40!? I don’t remember her teaching that. Sure she’s heard Mom and I discuss various topics, and she’s heard me talk about my distaste for elitist narcissist a-holes who like to lecture me about the public good while defining what the public good is.

But this is just who she is. And I ain’t coaching that outta her.