Remembering Spring Break…

As you know, I kinda have an issue with being steamrolled into allowing – (read PAYING FOR) a senior year spring break trip.  Everybody arrived safely and appear to be having a good time.  Mom sent me some pics of their hotel room.  It is nicer than anything I lived prior to the age of 46.  So I’m a bit concerned our senior might have some outlandish expectations of what her living conditions are going be like in college and her 20’s.  But, then again, I may have contributed to her unrealistic view of the world when I sent her to Mexico.  On spring break.  While she’s still in high school.  Truth be told, I’m a firm believer in setting expectations low so this whole spring break situation has me unnerved.

Anyway, as result of this situation I’ve decided to go back to one of things that makes me the most happy.  No, it isn’t beer.  Although that was a solid first guess.  But listen, beer has been a solid first guess when it comes to me since 1987.  Seriously, how am I not a part of owner of Miller Brewing?  It also is not a full court binge on conference tournament basketball…although I am actually doing that while I write this.  No, I’ve decided to go back to the 80’s.  Again.  Quick aside, I’m psyched to see Ready Player One in a couple weeks.  Totally going to nerd out on 80’s pop culture.

The girls are, in descending order in 12th grade, 10th grade and 8th grade.  Aside from being totally outnumbered by teenage girls who go out of their way to pick fights with each other while also outwardly mocking everything that isn’t important to them, it gives me a frame of reference into spring break.

8th grade – 1984.  Ren McCormack was the coolest, Lionel Ritchie wanted to know if it was him we were looking for and Berlin had No More Words.  I was modeling my coolness after Nick Ryder and Cody Allen.  Riptide was, and remains, a manly source of coolness.  Not ashamed to admit this.  Nick and Cody fought Charlie in Viet Nam, they lived on boat, owned a helicopter and drove a ’60 Corvette with flames on the side.  And in a weird twist of fate, they kinda introduced me to Mom.  Go on youtube and look for Season 1 Episode 4.  Originally aired 1-17-84.  Skip all the way to the end and you’ll see an inconsequential appearance by waitress played by Rosalind Allen (credited as Rosalind Ingeldew).  Despite Mom’s objections, she looks exactly the same.  They’re dopplegangers.  Not kidding.

10th grade – 1986.  I’ve made this argument several times but 1986, as a year, is totally overlooked.  It gave us Top Gun, Ferris Bueller and Running Scared.  Along with the criminally underrated Heartbreak Ridge.  I had a pair of these:reebokclassics

Bought one of these at County Seat: fadeddenim

Despite it marking the end of Riptide, the spring of ’86 asked us if all Mike & the Mechanics needed was a miracle, if Honeymoon Suite was feeling it again and we once again totally understood the social strata based conflicts in Pretty in Pink.  Plus, and this kinda throws a bit of doubt on my consternation regarding the unrealistic expectations developed by our senior, but my Dad took the whole family to Hawaii during spring break of ’86.  My Dad traveled a lot.  And he built up what can only be described a f*ck ton of miles and he got free roundtrip tickets to Hawaii for not only my sisters, me and my Mom but my Grandma too.  Turns out my Grandma always wanted to go to Hawaii and when my Dad had the chance to take her, he did.  He’s a good dude.  Despite my record as a parent, I do in fact have a good example.

12th grade – 1988.  White Lion wanted us to Wait and David Lee Roth thought this was just like Living in Paradise.  I do remember putting away a 12 pack of Meister Brau with a couple buddies.  It probably was because Rick Astley and Billy Ocean both somehow had hits songs over spring break my senior year. But best of all, Man in the Mirror was topping the charts.  And I don’t care what you guys say, this is a great song.  Here’s the thing though, aside from those Meister Braus, I don’t really recall a whole lot from my senior year spring break.  But I’m pretty sure Mom and our senior will.  And that makes me smile.

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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…

Generational Differences

adverbsGenerational differences within an office are often hard to navigate for managers. People of varying ages have different expectations of behavior. We have different cultural reference points. For example, if its lunch time and I say, “Dude, I am hungry like the wolf,”not everybody is going to get it. If I’m singing, “Lolly, lolly, lolly get your adverbs here,” everybody under 40 thinks I’m weird. If I make a reference to Guido the Killer Pimp I get raised eyebrows. And this irritates me. But not as much as learning that one of the guys you hired hasn’t seen Caddyshack, Animal House, The Blues Brothers or Stripes. Or Fletch. Or Beverly Hills Cop 1 or 2. Or Coming to America. Or Major League. Or Weird Science.

He hadn’t even heard of Fletch. Not hadn’t seen it, hadn’t even heard of it.

Let that process for a second. I’m not sure my friends from high school and college, to this day, are able to hold a conversation without a Fletch reference or quote making its way in there.

Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Hadn’t even heard of it. Flatly astonishing. Next thing you know is that he’ll start claiming Kobe is better than Jordan. Or that the Red Dawn remake is better than the original. I mean I was so astounded I was fearful to ask about Scrooged, Ghostbusters and The Naked Gun. And listen I was really just focusing on the comedies. He had not seen The Breakfast Club either until I sent him home with an assignment to watch it before he came back work. Oh and come back he did with a “I don’t really understand the big deal about the movie” argument. Almost fired him. I didn’t know this but this is what happens when you get into your 40’s and you start working with people in their 20’s.

I’m now fairly certain this is why millennials kinda piss me off. They are in their 20’s. And your 20’s sure start out a lot like your teens except now you have a car and some cash so you can finance your questionable decisions. And listen when you’re in your 20’s, you are completely and utterly oblivious to the fact that the only people who think you’re cool are other twentysomethings. Literally EVERYONE else thinks you suck. Not kidding. It’s science. Back then, I didn’t know this either.

The simple fact is that it is difficult for me take someone seriously if they do not understand the overall cultural impact and awesomeness of Magnum, P.I., Moonlighting and MacGyver. Not to mention to global political corollaries of Star Wars and the 80’s. If don’t have a soft spot for a certain TV mini-series known as North and South Book I and II you have a hole in heart. What? It’s about the Civil War, had Swayze’s hair and it was Jimmy Stewart’s last movie role. But you probably don’t know who Jimmy Stewart is because you’ve never taken the time to watch It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas because its too long and you can’t find Jimmy Stewart on Twitter.

Regardless, the guy I work with now has a list of movies that he needs to watch to return to work in good standing.

Ignoring Things

You ever notice how a new TV show will debut or you will discover a new one and you are as loyal as the day is long to it…for awhile. Then you just sort of drift away from it. Kinda like my relationship with Facebook. This is what happened with Seinfeld and The Simpson’s. Not sure why. And Riptide now that I think of it. To be honest, I think I actually started cheating on Riptide with Moonlighting before I just broke up with Riptide once I became totally infatuated with Moonlighting. What? David Addison was a major influence on my life. Nick and Cody in Riptide were too. I don’t want to minimize the time investment I made there. Same thing with Thomas Magnum and Sonny Crockett. And Axel Foley, Dr. Peter Venkman, Ferris Bueller, and Prince Akeem. Wait, probably Fletch, Otter and Goose too. And Sam from Quantum Leap. But I’m getting off topic.

RiptideI bring this up because I miss Riptide. No, not really. Well maybe a little. C’mon they lived on a boat. Next to another boat full of hot chicks. And it was the 80’s. Anyway, we have this closet in our hallway upstairs. It’s generically called a linen closet. Although in our house, as in most residences in these United States, it contains more than linens. Since we moved in it has been the home to towels, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, bed sheets, various crap and two screws which used to be in my knee. And crap. With some extra crap. You don’t really realize how much crap you put away instead of throw away. We, evidently, are skilled in the crap storage arts. You just put stuff away and just forget about ever looking at it. You paid attention for awhile but then it becomes uninteresting and/or complicated and it’s just easier to close the door. Like Medicaid.

A couple Saturdays ago, we made the decision to tackle the linen closet. We took everything out of it and item by item decided what to do with each one. I bet it’s a similar system to how Chicago Democrats count votes. Anyway, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit its contents. It’s like admitting that yes you do own the North and South Trilogy. Sure it’s a soap opera but it’s a Civil War soap opera.

Regardless, once we started we immediately realized we needed far more time than we had set aside. That and beers. We inventoried 13 bottles of sun screen. Various sizes with various SPF factors. Yes, there are 5 of us in the house but nobody needs that much sunscreen. We evidently are easily manipulated by sunscreen marketing. Also found 3 cans of Pledge. None scented. 5 spray cans of mosquito repellent. It’s not really summer without Off! I guess. 5 containers of shoe leather/suede protector. We obviously have a lot of unprotected shoes. 6 light bulbs. Yet the ceiling light in the linen closet hallway remains burnt out. Sewing equipment. Or tackle. Not sure the proper way to identify it. But it was all contained on or around a tiny barbie sized rocking chair. Yeah, it was weird. Scissors still in the packaging. Denim. Yeah, just oddly sized pieces of denim. The aforementioned screws from my knee. 2 unassembled door knobs. Several switchplates. A carpet cleaner. Carpet cleaner detergent. An air purifier with extra filters. A sealed bag of baby wipes. Please be advised that we haven’t had a baby in diapers that needed to be cleaned with baby wipes since 2006. 3 irons. 1 nearly empty can of spray starch. So I guess we can claim that use the irons. Or at least one of them. I guess. 16 beach towels including 5 princess themed beach towels and 2 I’ve had since college. And if you’ve been keeping score, Reagan was still president when I started college. A ticket stub from the ’96 Iowa State-Missouri football game. Troy Davis ran for 396 yards that day. Set a record. Just saying. At least 2 full sets of bed sheets that I don’t remember ever seeing before. Also suspicious that the pillow cases are breeding. 32 bath towels and 47 hand towels. The hand towels were somewhat interesting with the seasonal designs.

Who has that many towels besides Bed, Bath and Beyond?

Ended the exercise by carrying three fullsize garbage bags full of crap downstairs.

We were able to relocate all kinds of soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, etc. from the bathroom vanities to the linen closet. Which freed up room for Rye’s full metric ton of beauty gear.

Now I’ll walk by the closet, open it and just enjoy it. Weird what happens after three kids and a decade and a-half of marriage.

An App?

Taking your kids to get haircuts is a long and well tested Dad tradition. Taking your boy down to the Barber Shop and have the same guy who cut your hair as a kid cut your boy’s. But I have girls. Now don’t get me wrong, back in the fall of ’88 I thought having a pony tail was a pretty sweet way to end my first semester of college. So I do have some experience when it comes to long hair. Unfortunately, I also now have some experience when it comes no hair. But putting that aside I don’t understand all the girl hair lingo. I am not schooled in the fundementals. Sure I grew up with two sisters. But that just teaches you to be a bathroom ninja. It does nothing in regards to basic knowledge of how girl hair works. So I ask for specific, yet simple, instructions regarding what is to be done to the girls hair.

Anyway, I’m sitting patiently waiting for Bails and Kinz to be finished when the two women cutting hair and the two guys who are getting their hair cut inquire about the song on the radio. Now these women are in their 20’s. Early 20’s. Maybe mid-20’s at the oldest. Although one of them has a pretty good Mary Stuart Masterson hair style from Some Kind of Wonderful going on. So I’ve already got a bit of 80’s/nostalgia vibe going on.

The song in question is “When it’s Love.”

Haircut guy #1 and the hair stylist without the cool Some Kind of Wonderful hair are debating if the song is a Sammy Hager tune or a Van Halen song?

Mary Stuart Masterson haircut stylist speculates about an app that allows you to identify songs.

An app? Frustrated I say, “It’s a Van Halen song. 1988. Off of OU812.”

They all kinda raise an eyebrow, acknowledge my information but with that look that says, “yeah, okay, not sure you’re right about that but I’m not going to argue about it either.”

As that is happening “Any Way You Want It” comes on. The familiar pipes of Steve Perry. Haircut guy #2 starts into a story about how he always remembers this song because its from Caddyshack and as everybody knows Caddyshack is great movie.

Caddyshack is a great movie. But the two hair stylists both mention how they think they’ve seen it but maybe not.

Um, what? Is this why test scores are down across the American public school system? Is this the root cause of the Great Recession? Makes sense. We have an entire generation entering their 20’s without the ability to converse through Caddyshack movie quotes alone. Not to mention the fact that somebody actually believes that one of Journey’s classics is from the movie.

I can’t help myself. “It’s not from the movie. I mean it was in the movie, in particular the scene where Judge Smails chucks his golf club and ruins a nice couple’s lunch. That aside, ‘Any Way You Want It’ is from Evolution or Departure I can’t really remember which album. But it was a top ten hit before it was in Caddyshack.”

I’d like to say what I got were looks of gratitude and adoration. But it was more like bewilderment.

Next song is “867-5309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone.

Haircut guy #1 is paying his bill to his stylist when she says a little reluctantly, “Oh, this is an old one too.”

I add, “Sure is. One MTV’s original staples back in 1982. Tommy Tutone actually had another video on at the same time as ‘Jenny’ but I can’t remember what it was. Obviously, it wasn’t quite as catchy.”

Next song comes on. They all just look at me.

“The Cutting Crew. ‘I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight.’ Spring of ’87.”

This oddly brings up a discussion of Rock of Ages. The movie not the Def Lep song. Haircut guy #2 is asked by Some Kind of Wonderful hair stylist if he’s seen Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise. Great movie, great 80’s songs. He replies not by answering but with, “Why was Tom Cruise in a musical about the 80’s?”

Legit question. But its answered with another question from Some Kind of Wonderful, “Oh, what was his name in the move?”

Again, eyes move towards me.

“Stacee Jax. Lead singer of Arsenal.”

Finally as we’re leaving “Paradise City” from Guns N’ Roses starts up.

I take a peek back and both stylists say, “Guns N’ Roses!”

I smiled and left. My work here is done. That’s how I ride, I’m a cowboy, I’ve got the night on my side…

More Stuff About Summer…and Stone in Love

Daycare in the summer. This is something that I appreciate as a parent. It is also something that I would have hated as a kid. If there is one thing that I will forever be grateful for is that fact that Moms still stayed home in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Although with the crazy high taxes and 20% interest on mortgages, I’m not sure how my folks swung it. Thank Christ for Reagan I guess. Anyway, I can’t imagine a summer where I had to actually go somewhere. Because, you can call it whatever you want, but daycare sounds a helluva lot like going to school in the summer. And that’s like telling me the closing scene in Purple Rain when Prince sings “I Would Die 4 You” isn’t awesome. Like trying to convince me DC Cab wasn’t Mr. T’s greatest acting performance of all time. Like telling me Higgins wasn’t really Robin Masters. I mean, I’m just not buying it.

Summer is a great time to be a kid and I kinda miss it. And I don’t want the girls to miss it. I want them to have the same goofy smile I get on my face when I think of those sweet summer days when the only thing you really had to worry about was not missing the Good Humor man when he drove down your street.

Plus Bailey was asking me the other day if I stayed home all day in the summer instead of going to daycare. The answer of course is that, yeah, I got to stay home because my Mom stayed home with my sisters and I. But all our friends’ Moms stayed home. It was like our Saturday morning cartoon microculture was extended to all day, every day, for three months. Oh and listen, if the girls would let me get away with it I’d have a running loop of Schoolhouse Rock, Scooby and the Superfriends on every Saturday morning now. And I’m 42. Of course I kinda do that now away with the NFL Network and the Military Channel.

So, again, I miss being a kid in the summer. Also at Christmas I guess. And on days when I have to deal with bullsh…I mean whining at work. And when I look at what college is going to cost for three kids. And sometimes when I watch Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark

I mean right at the beginning you have my birthday which serves as the pregame tailgate to summer but with presents and cake. Then there’s the last day of school which is the official kickoff to summer vacation. Then, if you were me, you had swimming lessons, basketball camp and the building of scale models of most the Pacific Fleet in World War II. Although, I was never a big fan of swimming lessons. They were usually in the morning and I mean how often do you actually do the butterfly? Its like the one-hit wonder of swim strokes. It’s Eddy Grant’s Electric Avenue in the summer of ’83! Woo! Other one-hit wonders from the summer of ’83: Frank Stallone’s Far From Over, Puttin’ on the Ritz by Taco and Ewok Celebration from the…um…the Ewoks I guess.

Ever notice how there are a few songs that just absolutely point to summer? You want to go back to the summer of ’83? Tough to beat Electric Avenue. Summer of ’82? Tainted Love! Summer of ’81? Point Blank’s Nicole. Summer of ’80? You May be Right and Its Still Rock and Roll to Me from Billy Joel.

I was pointing this out to Riley Monday night on our way home from her summer dance classes that this incessantly catchy bubble gum song from One Direction You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful will be the song that brings back the summer of ’12 for her. Of course the whole concept of nostalgia and bringing something back isn’t apparent to you if you’re 12. You have a small frame of reference. Kinda like all the first time voters who bought what the president was selling back in ’08.

You know what really brings summer back? I mean besides sparklers, the smell of Off! and the sound of a big ol’ moth hitting the bug zapper? Afros and baseball caps. You know it! Garry Maddox flying around 2nd, losing his helmet thereby setting free the awesomeness of the 70’s ‘fro and then taking a head-first slide into 3rd. Oh, and the Cubs light blue pinstriped uni’s. I love light blue. Just got myself a vintage Oilers t-shirt too. Sweet.

Anyway, summer is for a lot of things. One of them is listening to cool songs from your formative years. Another is doing stupid crap in your formative years. Fortunately, these guys were able to do both.

We picked the 80’s

“Dad! Dad! Guess what! We’re doing a project on decades. Everybody picked a decade. Guess which one I picked?

“Umm…the 1830’s?”

“No, me and Jennifer picked the 80’s!”

“Nice! All right you’re going to need to know about MTV, Michael Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo in the ’89 NBA playoffs and the flux capacitor.”

She goes onto describe the project to me. First off, let me admit that there are many things I do not understand; Keynesian economics, why Dick Wolf put Sharon Stone on SVU this season, art. But if you are going to have a class of 4th graders study decades, why do you divide it up into these four categories: famous people, key events, TV shows and fashions?

C’mon man, fashions? Sure I understand the kids might be able to compare the fashion styles from each decade and maybe they even have an inkling of how fashion reflects the values and priorities of the times in which they appear. But flipping up your collar on the Izod polo isn’t really something Riley needs to know about to understand the 80’s. Unless she’s writing a thesis on Billy Zabka’s closet.

So famous people really has to include Ronald Reagan doesn’t it?

“No.”

“What?!

“We picked Michael Jackson, Bruce something, and…”

“Springsteen.”

“Was he cool?”

“Yeah, Bruce was cool. Still is cool. Saw him in concert in 1992.”

“And Madonna.”

Granted she was a force of nature in the 80’s. But she’s freaking nuts. How about putting Harrison Ford in there instead? I mean he was Han freaking Solo and Indiana Jones. The guy could speak Wookie and single handedly stopped the Nazi’s from winning WW2.

Next category: Key Events. Challenger explosion? Hostages coming home? The end of the ’82 NFL strike?

“No. We have the stock market crash.”

“What kind of list of key events in the 80’s doesn’t have the Challenger explosion? That’s like leaving Micheal Jackson’s moon walk during the ’83 AMA’s off a list of cool things that happened while I was in 7th grade. Plus, just to be clear, the stock market crashed in 1929. The ensuing depression was lengthened, deepened and exacerbated by FDR. October 19, 1987 was different. The aforementioned Ronald Reagan didn’t get involved and the market rebounded to record levels just two years later.”

“And Star Wars.”

“Star Wars came out in 1977. But, yes, I agree the release of Star Wars is a key event in American history.”

I’m astounded to learn that Riley was referring to the Strategic Defense Initiative, not the movie. I just assumed that most history books written by Howard Zinn disciples would dismiss the importance of Reagan’s SDI speech on March 23, 1983 and its importance to ending the Cold War.

Onto TV shows. Mangum, P.I. Dynasty. Miami Vice. The A-Team. Totally going to see this movie next month by the way.

She picked The Cosby Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

I get The Cosby Show. It spawned its own line of sweaters. And listen, I understand a lot of people like Oprah. She gave away cars. But I’m not what you would describe as a “fan.”

“I don’t really like Oprah.”

“Dad she’s really famous.”

“Yeah, I know. She’s also on a communist. Okay, maybe not a commie but she’s definitely a socialist.”

“What’s that?”

“Well you know how when you clean the bathrooms, the kitchen and other stuff we pay for your work. The more you do, the better job you do, the more money you get.

“Yes. It’s awesome.”

“Right, well what if I said go mow the lawn, clean the bathrooms and pick up all the kid stuff and put it away. When you’re done I’ll give you $15.”

“You’d really give me $15 if I did all that.”

“Yup.”

“Cool.”

“Not only is it cool, its capitalism. Now, how about you do all the work but instead of getting all the money you earned, Kinsey gets $5, Bailey gets $5 and you get $5?”

“That stinks.”

“That’s socialism.”

“So Oprah likes socialism?”

“Well, she sure hangs out with a lot of people who do.”

And that right there folks, is a good day being a Dad.