Well Played 47, Well Played…

Birthdays mean things.  At 16 you get your driver’s license.  And for awhile, and also for the only time in your life – you think its cool to drive a ’81 Volkswagen Rabbit.  A beige one with a stick shift that only takes diesel.  Bad ass, I know.  At 21 you get to over pay for beers at the bar. And nothing says adulthood like paying more for something you could have done on your own with a little patience and planning.  Nothing really special happened on my 30th. I was already married and had a kid so turning 30 just seemed like a day.  On my 40th Mom and I had a party since we both turned 40 within a month of each other. We had a local place make us a couple big trays of barbecue while one of our friends brought over burnt ends.  And listen, after several beers, that stuff is quite possibly the greatest food you’ve ever tasted.

Anyway, I recently turned 47.  Which really isn’t anything special.  Doesn’t feel any different from any of my other recent birthdays. Aside from Mel Blount wearing #47 and being responsible for the NFL rules changes that allow the modern passing game, it isn’t an especially great number.  I was, however, pretty damned determined to kick 47’s ass.

So we made some plans with some good friends.  They picked us up and we drove back to their house.  Why? The key advantage of the location of their house is that you can walk to the bar.  A place called Taco Hangover.  At 3:00 in the afternoon.  On a Friday.  So, two things:

1-I’d like a little appreciation for our mature decision to not drive.  To not even have a vehicle at the bar.

2-Taco Hangover puts a laxative in its tacos.

Not sure how that makes for repeat customers but somewhere in their business model is a flow chart on how to make tacos and it includes a laxative.  Soft flour tortilla, chicken, stool softener/bowel stimulant, shredded cheese, etc.  The catch is that their tacos are awesome.  Seriously.  Bacon, egg and cheese tacos.  Kansas City burnt ends tacos. Chorizo and crispy potato tacos.  They even have sloppy joe tacos.  And listen, the tacos need to be awesome because you can’t get Miller Lite Tall Boys on the patio.  I know, I’m sitting there wondering if we’re in communist Russia or a bar in red, white and blue middle America…that sells laxative laden tacos.  Regardless, you did read that correctly.  No Miller Lite tall boys.  How the hell does that happen?  Friday afternoon ice cold tall boys on the patio is about as midwest American as you can get.  The really infuriating thing was that if I wanted to – although I can’t imagine a scenario in which this would happen unless it gave me the power of invisibility – I could get Pabst Blue Ribbon in a tall boy. I’m just spit ballin’ here but nobody really wants extra PBR.  Nobody.  And that’s what you get in a PBR tall boy.  Because of the outright and inexcusable lack of proper fridge stocking, I was forced to consume Coors Light.  In a tall boy.  And by forced I mean I wasn’t.  I could have had a normal regulation size draw of Miller Lite in the typical plastic cup required on patios.  But everybody else, including Mom at one point, is drinking tall boys and I’m not sure if you realize this, but tall boys have more beer in them.  Again, just spit ballin’ here but you know who likes more beer?  Everybody.

So as the day wears on and we have various conversations, including my agreeing to go a Flo Rida concert with Mom, we order tacos.  And a continuing flow of beers.  And, I’m not necessarily proud – or ashamed – of this but we put those away faster than Billy Idol was pumping fists in the Flesh for Fantasy video.

Mom tapped out first.  Got ride home from a friend.  About an hour later, I was done. Was about ready to get in the same friend’s car as she had recently arrived back at the patio after dropping Mom off and the taco effect suddenly become apparent to me.

So I did what anybody else would have done.  I bombed the bathroom.

Then I went home.  Upon my arrival I ask Mom how she’s doing – and just for reference sake it was still light out – and Mom informs me that she bombed our bathroom.

While we both felt pretty damn good afterwards, the effect of the beers hadn’t been evicted from our systems.  It was about this time that Kinz comes into our room and asks if her friend – a boy – could come over for a few hours.  My answer?  “Sure.”

Her response?  “Ok, but you’re going to have to talk to his Dad when he drops him off.”

My response to that?  “Ummm…you should ask Mom to do that.”

From the bedroom we hear, “No she shouldn’t!”

So it’s up to me to somehow behave like a responsible parent so this kid isn’t banned from our house because I wanted to kick 47’s ass.

Short while later – and after another visit or two to the bathroom – the kid and his Dad are at our door.  We introduce ourselves.  And then…

“Hey so I need to go through my whole deal here since we haven’t been to your house before.”

“Yeah, okay.”

“Any alcohol in the house?”

I sorta tilted my head slightly and said, “Yeah…but they’re not going to drink any of it.”

“Any firearms in the house?”

I’m thinking, sure okay, this is a legit question.  I guess I could be Bob Lee Swagger.  I might be slamming beers while I make my own ammo out back.

“Nope, no firearms.”

“Any explosives in the house?”

“You’ll have to be more specific.  Do you mean military, commercial or recreational?”

No I didn’t really say that.  But I’d never been asked – ever – if there were any explosives in my house.  Do people stock explosives?  I’m not counting fireworks.  Where do you even purchase them if you were to stock them?  Because if this is a thing, I kinda would like to know that too.

And listen I get the first question.  I’m not going to ask it because I’m assuming it to be true in nearly every house in America.  I also understand the second question.  And maybe I should be asking that too.  Maybe we all should.  Or maybe we shouldn’t. Alcohol and firearms aren’t illegal.  Often dangerous when used in concert but not illegal.

But even weirder than the questions was I’m answering them after spending the last 5 hours at the bar drinking Coors Light tall boys while eating laxative tacos talking about going to the Flo Rida concert.

So well played 47, well played…


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 had one (four) beer(s) too many.  You know what that makes me?  The best Dad on the planet.


Do you remember any specific instances of total abject panic in your life?

Maybe the first time you saw the dreaded red and blue rollers in your rear view mirror?  Possibly when you heard Spenser For Hire was going off the air?  Happened to me when I realized for the first time most of people I work with don’t get Fletch quotes, Tesla songs or my world view based the dominance of the 70’s Steelers over the Raiders and Cowboys.

More recent examples?  How about December 28, 2014 when Reggie Nelson went low and viciously and deliberately went after Le’Veon Bell’s knee during the defacto AFC North Championship game that the Steelers won over the Bengals on the last weekend of the NFL season.  This heinous and cowardly act led to an early departure from the playoffs.  The second time was Super Bowl Sunday.  Not sure you’re aware but we were lucky enough to receive a foot of wet heavy snow in central Iowa.  It was wonderful.  If your definition of wonderful includes shoveling your driveway and sidewalks three freaking times in the about 6 hours and digging and pushing two of your neighbors two-wheel drive vehicles out of the street because for some reason they desperately needed to be somewhere.  And listen nobody has to be anywhere Sunday morning unless you’re going to church.  And all the local churches cancelled their services.  Even the Catholics.  Oh and also our Direct TV dish lost contact with the mothership on Saturday night and remained  as dark as the prospects of U.S. economic dominance under Obamacare through Sunday morning.  Yeah, so we’re faced with a situation where the snow has knocked out our reception and, since we live on a cul-de-sac, the city has deprioritized our street when it comes to plowing.  So we’re trapped.  It’s either fix the dish or miss the Super Bowl.  On a normal Sunday we’d just que up our DVR inventory of Archer and The Goldberg’s and call it a day.  Maybe watch some Riptide episodes on youtube.  I know what you’re thinking, this isn’t the zombie apocalypse, just go out brush off the 4 or 5 inches of snow which have collected on the dish…the dish that is located roughly one million feet above my head.

Several years ago this happened and I didn’t get the snow brushed off before it melted and refroze.  No TV for a week.  Lesson learned.  After our second round of driveway shoveling, I decided it was time to address the DTV dish situation.  The girls were steadily ramping up their whining and my consternation regarding the Super Bowl was doing the same.  I take my 12 foot extendable Mr. Longarm painting pole and duct tape my old garage broom to the end of it.  It’s about 16 and a-half feet of dish dusting badassery.  But I still can’t actually reach the dish.  I get my 8 foot ladder and trudge through the snow to the deck.  Mom and I clear the deck of snow and set up the ladder.  I head up to the step right below the one that warns you of severe bodily injury or death if you happen to use it.  Since the whole point of this adventure is watching the Super Bowl and not dying, I decide to go ahead follow the directions.  I get my MacGyver’d dish duster and begin the moment of truth.   Does it reach?

You’re damn right it reaches!  Worked smoother than a fresh dry skippy.  A couple minutes later and the TV is fully operational.  A couple hours and few more inches of snow later I clean it again just to be safe and we settle in for the game.  Like most of America I was cheering for the Patriots to lose.  They’re cheaters and the rules have been changed to prevent anyone from touching Tom Brady.  Not that I wanted the Seahawks to win.  I realize Russell Wilson seems like a good dude but Pete Carroll is a cheater too.  And a 9/11 truther.  Plus Richard Sherman is not a guy who makes it easy for you to cheer for him.  Aside from that here’s my major takeaway from the game:

Budweiser can suck it.  Not only does Bud Heavy taste like crap but we’re not really fans of Bud Light either in our house.  The whole assertion that its brewed “the hard way” and that people who drink their beer are people who” like to drink beer” since its not supposed to be “fussed over” since its beechwood fricking aged?  WTF?  Brewed the hard way?  Its brewed the easy way so they can produce billions of kegs.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s capitalism.  I like capitalism.  I also like to drink beer and the last beer I’m drinking is Budweiser.  I’m going to get a freaking warm Iron City and mix it with a flat Old Style before I’m drinking Bud Heavy.  Won’t be any fussing at all.  Why?  Because nobody freaking knows what beechwood aged means.  Plus, and I’m just spitballin’ here but aren’t you brewing some crap called Mang-o-rita and Lime-o-rita?  Are those brewed the hard way?  Are they for people who like to drink beer?  Yeah, thought so.

Homecoming and Freshmen

It’s weird having a 9th grader. I have extremely clear memories of 9th grade and the fall of 1984. Not all good. I mean aside from Red Dawn being released nothing good happened. My family moved from Chicagoland to the suburbs of Rochester, NY. And Wham hit #1 with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Then Jack Wagner hit #2 with All I Need. Plus I spent every football practice getting run over by a kid who went on to play college football. Things could’ve been better.

And now our oldest is braving the dangers of maiden voyage into high school. Although locally its not the same for her as it was for me. Or Mom. In our town the 9th graders are separated from the rest of the high schoolers. So much so that they have their own building. Yep. A stand alone 9th grade.

The Powers That Be sold it to the voters as a stand alone 9th grade building that would be built in such a way so that it could be easily expanded into a second high school. At the time I was childless and thought, “hey, normally I don’t vote for this stuff but by the time I have kids, the current high school will be overcrowded and…crappy, I guess.”

So I voted for it and it passed.

Then about 7 years later, the Powers That Be decided that they never said it could be expanded into a second high school and tried to pass another bond referendum expanding the current high school. Turns out I wasn’t the only person who voted for the 9th grade in anticipation of it turning into a second high school. Because, as most of you know, bond referendums need a 60% vote in favor to pass. Unfortunately for the Powers That Be, 60% of the voters – including me – gave them the finger and voted no.

Later on it turned out that the school district was able to finance an expansion using the district’s reserve fund. Which of course led to more middle fingers while asking why the hell didn’t you just do it that way in the first place.

Regardless, Rye is in 9th grade and she’s physically separated from older boys by a few miles and several brick walls. Turns out that once you have a 14 year old daughter in 9th grade you are okay with her being in stand alone building regardless of the promises of the Powers That Be.

Last weekend she had her first Homecoming Dance. She went with a kid who made a poster for her which contained the actual ask. It was creative. First sentence on the poster said, “I hope you don’t think I’m a nerd for making you this poster.” But instead of writing the word “nerd” he glued a box of Nerds onto the poster. Yeah, that’s pretty creative. Throughout the rest of the poster he the same thing gluing candy strategically into sentences. But what I was really impressed with was the kid’s speed. Not kidding. The doorbell rings and I’m sitting at the kitchen table. It’s no more ten normal steps from my chair to the door. And I got up right away. There was no lag between the doorbell and my movement towards the front door. I open the door and nobody is there. I look down and see this poster on the concrete. I smiled, yelled for Rye to come to the door, and then scanned the horizon.


My thoughts? “Man, this is the fastest kid on the planet. Where the hell did he go?”

I’m sure he was hiding around the corner of the house with one of his buddies who he convinced to come along. But still it only took me about 5 seconds to get to the door. And he was gone. Vanished. Kid has like Rickey Henderson speed or something. Or a cloaking device. Which would be both cool and disconcerting. I mean you don’t want your 14 year old daughter going anywhere with a kid who knows how to become invisible to the naked eye. Plus if a 14 year old kid has a cloaking device…well, what the hell do the terrorists have? But still, a cloaking device! Sweet.

Anyway, the kid and his Dad come over and pick up Rye and drive downtown to the park where they are taking pictures with the rest of their group – about 40 kids in all. Then they went to dinner and then a bus took them to the dance. Mom and I following to get our share of pics and thought we’d take advantage of the fact that we were downtown on a Saturday evening and go to dinner at one of the local brewpubs.

Sound plan right?

Except for the glitch. I know what some of you are saying, “you have a 14 year-old daughter, there is a glitch embedded into your day. All the time.” Which, of course, is correct. This particular glitch involved me giving up a sweet parking spot and driving all the way back home and then all way back downtown. Now its Des Moines, so its not like I have to navigate the streets of Chicago. But still…

Mom’s phone buzzes just as we’re parking my truck. All I saw was the look on her face when she said, “Well you have to tell your Dad.”

Exactly nothing awesome has ever happened when you combine that sentence, Mom’s facial expression and the tone of her voice.

“Hi Dad. I forgot my school ID and they won’t let us into the dance without it. Can you drive home and pick it up and then bring it to the restaurant. And you have to be back her in about 45 minutes.”

So there are, in fact, numerous ways in which to respond.

1) You can say, “Sucks for you.” And hang up the phone. But as every Dad knows this is a death sentence. From that point forward until the end of your natural life – and likely well into eternity – your oldest daughter will constantly be looking for payback. Teenagers often confuse the notion of payback with the process of making really bad decisions so their Dad will be pissed. So I decided against this option.
2) You can lose your sh*t, make her feel terrible and still have to run home get the damn thing.
3) Or you do what I did. You keep calm and using all the strength granted to you by the sweet baby Jesus and the patience you’ve gathered after 14 years of raising kids, you say back to her, “tell me where it is and I’ll be back in 45 minutes no problem.”

SummitOctoberfestWhy do you with option 3? Because you’re her Dad and its her first Homecoming Dance and you are not going to be the person who ruins it should it actually be ruined at some point. Thankfully, it wasn’t ruined. For either of us. She came home and said, “Best night ever!” when I asked how it went. And we ended up testing a few of the microbrews before settling on the traditional marzen style Octoberfest beer and then heading home and hanging at our neighbor’s – which we have affectionately named “The DT.” It’s short for The Downing Tap and is located in both our neighbor’s garage and driveway. It’s our favorite bar. No lines for the bathrooms. Great parking. There’s a TV. Sometimes they have food delivered. And you can bring you own beers. Which I do. Often. Plus when you’ve had too much, you simply stand up and walk home. Which in our case is about 30 feet.

So I guess that’s a win-win.

The Final Days

Many days are cause for celebration. NFL kickoff Sunday for example. Admittedly diluted by Goodell and his Thursday night double header to start the season. July 4th always has a certain magical anticipation throughout the day. Also any day that I’m planning on getting nachos at Rock Bottom. And the last day of school. Which was Wednesday. The girls are excited. But their excitement pales, PALES in comparison to my own excitement. There no longer is homework to check, slips to sign, emails to read or logistics to manage. Okay, that last part is a huge load of crap. Transportation and logistics are still going to suck. Despite my inner voice telling me I should let the girls laze around the house all summer, Mom and I ignored that voice and signed them up for a boatload of stuff. Still doesn’t take away from our joy regarding the last day. I mean yes, we still have to go to work instead of sitting around until 10:00 watching Battle of the Planets and Tom & Jerry eating Cheerios. Which I didn’t mind doing when I was 10. But in the name of all that is holy, this last two weeks of school was absolutely killing us. Beating us down mentally and physically. Like the ’89 Pistons. End of the year projects for Kinz and Bails came at us like Mahorn defending the rim. Softball and dance plowed into us like Rodman patrolling the boards.

What is the freaking deal with projects being due the last seven days of school? C’mon man. The kids are already checked out. You hit that weekend after Mother’s Day and that’s it. You can’t really expect their best effort after that. Kinda like if you dropped by your neighbor’s house and he offered you a Schlitz. C’mon man, yes, it’s the beer that made Milwaukee famous but nobody still believes that when you’re your out of Schlitz you’re out of beer and seriously, nobody ever really went for the gusto when they grabbed a Schiltz. They probably went for the bathroom and grabbed the toilet with both hands. Which raises a question. How in the hell does Pabst Brewing stay in business? When you produce Schlitz, Old Style, Old Milwaukee, Olympia, Strohs and PBR aren’t you really just asking to have bankruptcy attorneys on staff? Geez, why don’t you just go ahead and revive Dubuque Star and Red, White & Blue?

Regardless, we had to supervise, cajole and sometimes threaten the girls into completing:

1-A project for Bails on Career Day. Project #1 involved Career Day. She came with me to work. And it really cannot be overstated how excited she was. Which is was cool but also a bit perplexing. I’ve been going to work for about 22 years and I’ve never been this excited. Part of the excitement likely had something to do with us stopping to get donuts and cookies for the office. And that fact that she was allowed to bring Mom’s Kindle with her. Also that I have a TV in my office and I told her that she’d probably get to watch some TV during the day. Here’s a pic of her walking up a really big staircase.


But her project was to bring back at least four “artifacts” from her visit along with several pictures adorned with captions describing said pictures. She also conducted an interview with me. The artifacts and pictures were to be placed on a gigantic poster board which eventually required me asking my neighbor to use his Tahoe Suburban to drive her to school with Kinz and his own kids. Not kidding. But she spent most of her Memorial Day weekend muscling her way through this. It took about 5 or 6 hours to complete mostly due to her inability to stay still. For some reason Bails decided to complete this project along with project #2 concurrently. So she’d move from the kitchen table after working on Project #2 to the family room floor and attach some pictures and write some captions on her gigantic poster for Career Day. And maybe this happens in your house too but what the hell is the deal with kids doing projects in an area of the house limits your mobility to walk from room to room? At one point I could not get to the couch in the family because of the poster, construction paper and sharpies all over the floor.

2-A one page letter Bails had to write pretending she was a character in a book she recently read. The objective was to write a letter as that character and send it to another character in the book. Not totally sure of the objective. Likely something to irritate parents. Or possibly something about putting yourself into somebody else’s shoes and seeing things from their perspective. Or I just made that up because getting Bails to write it was like getting Princess Leia to admit she had feelings for Han while they were stationed on the ice planet of Hoth.

3-A State’s Fair project for Bails. Every year the 4th graders hold a State’s Fair. They make…wait for it…gigantic posters detailing important facts and information about the state of their choosing. Four years ago Rye chose Missouri and renamed it “The Awesome State.” Not sure if that ever went to popular referendum. Two years ago Kinz chose California and I made sure a picture of Ronald Reagan made it onto the poster. Bails chose Idaho. She wanted Pennslyvania since I lived there back in the 70’s but the kid right before her picked it so she went with Idaho. Not sure why. We’ve never been there. When I inquired as to her reasoning she let me know that Idaho has a weird shape so she went with it. Good enough. But neither her nor I knew anything about Idaho other than they grow a lot of potatoes and Sun Valley is evidently a popular resort. Turns out fishing is a big deal up there, huckleberries are native to the mountainous areas of northern Idaho and it was the 43rd state. She also decided she wanted to bring a snack of Idaho food to people to try. Naturally her choice was french fries. Excellent decision. Except for the fact we had no way to keep them warm. Which also meant we had no way to prevent them from becoming cold and soggy. So, since huckleberries are native to the mountainous areas of northern Idaho, she went with that.

Did you know that huckleberry products are not widely available in supermarkets?

Eventually we found huckleberry fruit curd at Whole Foods. Bails said it tasted like sweet and sour sauce. I took her word for it.

4-A World’s Fair project for Kinz. She chose Poland. Everybody in the house, except for Mom, is Polish. I’m half Polish. The girls are a quarter Polish. I detailed my feelings about this before back in May 2012. We think Polish is the largest nationality, by percentage, they possess. I say “think” because Mom has no real idea what her nationalities really are. We’re fairly certain she’s German. She also suspects she has a bit of English heritage. Maybe Scottish, not really sure. Two years ago Rye chose England and we made some English cookies or some such crap. This year Kinz insisted on bringing something Polish. Mom and I in turn insisted we were not going to cook, bake or make anything. So if you’re not going to grill some kielbasa or make some pierogi’s, what the hell is left? Lucky for us poppy seed cakes and rolls are a traditional Polish dessert. We bought some poppy seed muffins, cut them into bite sized pieces and called it good. Polish-American ingenuity.

5-An inordinate and totally inappropriate, at least in Rye’s eyes, amount of homework regarding the Civil War and its causes.

Truth be told, I was kinda excited about Rye having Civil War homework. You know how many people I can talk about the Civil War in our house? Zero. Or some number less than that. Let’s also remember that this is homework Rye believes is completely unacceptable due to its timing during the school year. But more infuriating is the absolute indifference she shows towards the Civil War era of our nation’s history.

“Dad do you know anything about the Compromise of 1850?”


“Awesome how did the Compromise of 1850, Bleeding Kansas and the Dred Scott decision help the common man?”

“What? That’s the question you have to answer?”

She said something in response at this point but all I was able to make out was a long sustained whining noise. Finally I couldn’t take it.

“Good Lord Rye, literally right behind you on that table is The Patriot’s History of the United States. Contained within its pages are historical facts. At the back is this thing called the index.”

But I couldn’t take it and looked it up the stuff myself. Yes, I should have had her do it. But I reached that place where parents find themselves at various points during their parenting days. That place is found at the intersection of Just Go Away Drive and Please Stop Whining Street.

But she finished. As did the school year. They have two days of summer vacation in the books so far. And yes, they are already bored…

Things You Do in Summer

When you’re a kid this is your job. Actually it is more than that. Its your vocation. A calling. Making up games and things to do in the summer for a kid is like the being called to the priesthood. There are all kinds of obligations, rules and stuff nobody really gets unless they are in it with you. For example, three things dominated my summers as a kid.

Capture the Flag. I’ve blogged about this before. Capture the Flag is one of the greatest single activities of Summer Vacation in America since a bunch of rebels signed a certain document during a certain July giving the finger to King George.

Cannibalized baseball. I lived on a cul-de-sac from 1977-84. During the last few summers roughly seven of us invented our own game. Most of the kids on the street were Cubs fans. But one kid was an Expos fan. He loved Andre Dawson and Tim Raines. During the summer of ’83 I took great, great pleasure every time the Pirates beat the Expos. But that’s beside the point. The rules were essentially that you had to hit a home run or you were out. So it was like watching Dave Kingman bat in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Epic sea battles between my model World War II ships. Not kidding. I’d spend hours devising and carrying out the battles. One side was always out-numbered since I only had two Axis ships – the Bismarck and the Tirpitz. But on the Allied side I combined the USS Pittsburgh, the USS New Jersey, the USS Chicago and the USS Coral Sea. Yes, I realize the Chicago was a guided missle cruiser that did not fight in WW II. And I am fully aware that the Coral Sea did come into service until 1948 and later took part in Operation Evening Light the unsuccessful Iranian hostage rescue operation. But listen I conducted most of these naval operations when I was 10. Suspending the time/space continuum wasn’t a deal breaker.

SArockerOf course I’m not 10 anymore. Among the benefits of not being ten is beer. Swearing is another. Both of which I’m fond of. And, if you’re honest with yourself, so are you. All which adds up to the fact that when I’m in a grocery store on a Friday afternoon, which I was yesterday, I can build my own six pack. Yes you get completely over-charged for doing this. But so what. You get to pick you own six pack! I picked Coors Light Summer Brew, Sam Adams Porch Rocker, Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Sam Adams Rebel IPA, Stevens Point Brewery Nude Beach Summer Wheat and Shiner Ruby Red Summer Seasonal. I went looking for a twelver of Miller Chill but evidently I’m the only one because MillerCoors discontinued my favorite summer beer. Thanks for nothing fellow Americans. Turns out you’re drinking Bud Light’s Lime-o-Rita and Straw-ber-Rita and Man-go-Rita. Which makes me sad. Because none of those are beer. Damn millennials and their flavored alcohol. Oh and they suck. Which means, by the law of transference, so do millennials. It’s kinda like when you meet an Orioles fan and you congratulate them on being a fan of the team with best uniforms in baseball…but then you find out they’re also a Ravens fan. There is so much suckage involved with being a Ravens fan that it cancels out the coolness of being an Orioles fan. Regardless, Budweiser is still brewing Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus. Hopefully you guys won’t screw that up too.

Anyway I’m on the deck drinking my summer sixer and Kinz comes out and has a seat.

“Dad, beer smells so bad how do you even drink it?

“Wait, what?”

“I really don’t like the smell?”

“Ever tasted it?”

“Um no. I’m not allowed. It’s against the law.”

“Correct. But I thought it might be educational for you to taste how horribly bad beer actually is so when you’re friends start pressuring you to drink it in about 3 years, you’ll have a frame of reference to say no”

This seems like absolutely dead solid sound logic while you’re drinking. But then again, there are a lot of things that appear to be absolutely reasonable while you’re drinking. Like arguing that the ‘76 Steelers wouldn’t have won their third straight Super Bowl had Franco and Rocky not gotten injured before the AFC Championship. Or that UCLA doesn’t have cool home uniforms. Possibly the disparagement of hair metal by some smart-ass Lime-o-rita drinking millenial. Whatever.

But lots of things don’t make sense to a 6th grader when it comes to beer. Which means that Mom and I are doing our job. Beer should be utterly confusing and revolting to a 6th grader. Which explains why she was confused when I finished my Rebel IPA even thought I said it was awful.

“Dad if you don’t like it, why are your drinking it?”

“You gotta drink the whole beer once you open it”

“That’s a stupid rule.”

“Agreed. But that’s the rule.”

“Still stupid.”

I didn’t argue the point. But really, don’t do what I did and get sucked into the packaging a buy a Rebel IPA. It’s bad. So was the Shiner Ruby Red. The Sam Adams Porch Rocker has earned itself another Friday evening at our house as did the Point Nude Beach Summer Wheat. The Coors Light Summer Brew tasted exactly like you’d expect it to. Exactly. For example when you turn on the radio and Paradise City is on what do you expect? Awesomeness. Exactly right. When you take a drink of Coors Light Summer Brew what do you expect? Water? Valid guess and completely correct since you’re getting an extremely light beer with some lemony taste. But I think Coors might be taking the whole light beer message too far. The Summer Brew is so light its missing two ounces. Not kidding. It’s a 10 oz. beer. So good job on getting summer into a can Coors but what’s the deal with jipping me 2 ounces?

Early Spring Thoughts

Does the first real spring day make anyone feel, um, thirsty? I haven’t zeroed in on the exact causes of this phenomena, but its real. Happens every March. Maybe its St. Patrick’s Day. But I’m not Irish and don’t claim any honorary Irishness, I’m not a fan of Irish cuisine and I grew up hating Notre Dame. I’ve sometimes thought its some combination of the NCAA Tournament, memories of FAC’s in college and smell in the spring that gives off the distinct of thawing. You know what I’m talking about. I think olfactory recognition triggers nostalgia.

Anyway, I learned something this week. If you want to look like you’re drinking but not really, drink Sprite Zero. At least three this week at work I was walking around holding a Sprite Zero can and was asked if I was drinking a Bud Light.


What kind of douchebag do you have to be if three different people not only think you’re boozing at work but actually roaming the building with an open beer in your hand?

I evidently am the type of person who falls onto that list. I didn’t really know this. Which has forced me to look at the Man in the Mirror. My conclusions?

1) I wish I did work at place that allowed beer cart Fridays. This, at least to me, is a rockstar morale booster. The boss pushes a beer cart through the office offering beers. This is also the kind of place where you could wear jeans and your favorite Cyclones hat to work. But alas I do not work in such a utopia.
2) Many of the people who also work in my building evidently are drinking. There’s really no other explanation as to why they’d seriously believe I’d be walking around drinking beer in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. I mean literally no one does this. Not even the guys who make beer at work.
3) Friday afternoons make me thirsty.

So there’s that. Hey, learned something else. Bails likes to plan for the future. Here’s what she told us on the way to church:

“I want to marry someone with the last name of “awesome.” So then I’ll be Bailey Awesome.”

Sound logic.