Things could be worse…

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

But things could be worse.

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

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

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

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

So rest easy America, things have been worse.

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Full Disclosure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I like this teacher…

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hmm…I’m interested.  Go on.”

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

“Sounds reasonsable.”

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

“Well that’s just smart management.”

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

“And what’s that?”

“He makes us listen to classic rock.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

It Has Arrived

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Top 17’s

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

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

Pre High School

For You – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

No Time to Lose – Tarney Spencer Band

Blue on Black – Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Can’t You See – Marshall Tucker Band

Even Now – Bob Seger

Nicole – Point Blank

Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones

Just Between You and Me – April Wine

Stone in Love – Journey

Centerfold – J Geils Band

Owner of a Lonely Heart – Yes

Heart and Soul – Huey Lewis and the News

Crumbling Down – John Cougar Mellencamp

Living in a Big Country – Big Country

Love Somebody – Rick Springfield

Night Moves – Bob Seger

Let’s Go Crazy – Prince

 

High School

Girls With Guns – Tommy Shaw

Jammin Me – Tom Petty

Perfect Way – Scritti Politti

Go For Soda – Kim Mitchell

Throwing It All Away – Genesis

Take it Easy – Andy Taylor

Little Suzi – Tesla

Take Me Home Tonight – Eddie Money

Midnight Blue – Lou Gramm

Here I Go Again – Whitesnake

Heart and Soul – T’Pau

U Got the Look – Prince with Sheena Easton

Just Like Paradise – David Lee Roth

New Sensation – INXS

Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson

Hypnotize Me – Wang Chung

Nobody’s Fool – Kenny Loggins

 

College

Everybody Loves Eileen – Steelheart

Bang Bang – Danger Danger

Stranger Than Paradise – Sleeze Beez

Ride the Wind – Poison

Signs – Tesla

Freedom 90 – George Michael

Shot of Poison – Lita Ford

Coming of Age – Damn Yankees

Give It To Me Good – Trixter

Can’t Get Enough – Winger

Wait – White Lion

Fire Woman – The Cult

Bust a Move – Young MC

Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

Rush – Big Audio Dynamite II

What the World Needs Now – Cracker

Least Complicated – Indigo Girls

High School Graduation and it’s Trappings

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

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

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

Have a grad party.

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

But it is a big f*%king deal.

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

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

I got yelled at for this.

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

But that is clearly not the way these things work.

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

But that’s the easy part.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lollapalooza

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

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

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

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

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

 

Low Key Bad Ass

While driving to play in a softball tournament Mom and I were discussing various things with our 16 year-old daughter.  I’m sure we using the discussion as some sort of parenting moment to impart knowledge and wisdom.  Also sure the 16 year-old was rolling her eyes.  Regardless, the topic of bungee jumping somehow came up.  I nonchalantly let it slip that I did that once while in college.

Stunned silence from the back seat.  But then the 16 year-old gave me what might have been the greatest compliment she’s ever tossed out in my direction.  “Whoa, Dad, you’re really a low key bad ass.”

First thing that came to mind is that a teenager throwing a compliment their Dad’s way is kinda like seeing a unicorn.  Or an NFL team running out of the split-back formation.  Or Stephen Colbert being funny.  Second thing is, “Hells yes, I’m a low key bad ass.”

Even though I’m not real sure what it means.  I know what bad ass means.  Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies.  Bad Ass.  Rocky Bleier was a 16th round draft pick then got his foot blow off in Vietnam and came back to run for 1,000 yards in 1976 when everybody knew the Steelers were running the ball becarockybleiernamuse Terry Bradshaw was out for most of the season.  Bad Ass.  Thundarr the Barbarian used his fabulous sun sword to fight savagery, super science and sorcery in a apocalyptic world.  Bad Ass.

But “low key” bad ass?  WTF?  My guess is that it means your daughter, and by extension her friends I assume, see you as a easy going, generally friendly, straight-laced Dad who does Dad things and says Dad stuff.  Never does it cross anyone’s mind that you may or may not have bungee jumped off a crane in relatively high winds over a grocery store parking lot.  Or that you might have naked cliff jumped while fishing in Manitoba one summer, or that you possibly snuck out of accounting class with another kid, went to DQ, then snuck back into class without being noticed.

“You’ve done some cool stuff but you never talk about it.  That’s so low-key bad ass.”

Some thoughts on this.  First, I don’t talk much about “Just Between You and Me” by April Wine but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a bad ass power ballad.  I also don’t talk much about FACs in college because virtually nothing that happened during or after those FACs is particulary helpful when it comes to being the Dad of teenage daughters.  But that doesn’t mean they weren’t bad ass.  I don’t talk much about my vintage faded shredded up jean shorts that I’ve kept since 1991 but that doesn’t mean they are totally bad ass.

But here’s the thing, its still pretty cool that your 16 year-old daughter came to the conclusion that you are, in fact, a low key bad ass.

And that, my friends, is pretty freakin’ bad ass…in any key.

 

The Glamorous Life of the 1st Base Coach

The girls have played softball since about 2010.  Two of the three are still playing.  Our oldest, after a few years of softball and an extremely brief foray into basketball decided to stick with dance.  Which meant I was of no help whatsoever.  Dance is a lot like wrestling to me.  I cheer and clap when everybody else does and look confused when the crowd gets restless over subjective decision-making that I have little if any context with which to translate the restlessness.

Regardless, this spring our sophomore played on a 16U team put together by the high school varsity coach that more or less makes up the JV team that is playing right now.  Somehow it was decided that I might be helpful to some degree.  Yeah, I was just as surprised as you.  In fact, and this is a direct quote, here’s what I said when I was asked to help coach the team, “Listen, I don’t have a whole lot to offer the girls outside of a few well placed Major League quotes.”

Surprisingly that was enough to get me the job.  We started practicing once a week in February and after we got past spring break we went to twice a week.   Indoor softball practice is weird by the way.  But we wanted to be ready to start playing in March.  We scheduled five weekend tournaments but only played in three because, and you may have heard this before, spring weather is unpredictable.  The temps hovered between 35 and 48 degrees in the first tournament.  Yeah, super fun.  But we won the last one and the girls got rings!

The guy who was the head coach played baseball in college and knows the game pretty well.  The other guy who helped coach called pitches and has some coaching experience.  Then there’s me.  I didn’t play baseball.  I have no coaching experience.  Although I once had my two front teeth knocked by our 16 year-old when I was throwing batting practice to her three years ago.  Evidently, that qualifies me.

Anyway, I was assigned 1st base coaching duties.  And as far as I can tell, here are the responsibilities of the 1st base.

1-Know the count, the number of outs and the signs.

Sounds simple.  And it relatively is assuming you are paying attention.  Turns out a team of 15 and 16-year-old girls don’t always know the count.  Or the number of outs.  Or the signs.  Or the score.  And sometimes the batting order.  So I reminded them.  A lot.

2-Hold elbow and ankle protectors.

Turns out I’m good at holding stuff.  So no issues here.

3-Yell loudly using softball slang.

This was kinda fun.  My favorite was to yell “GET HERE!” whenever it looked like the play at first might be close.  Which, if you think about, it is the equivalent of yelling “MAKE IT” every time your kid shoots the ball in the basketball.  Or “FREEZE! THEIR VISION IS BASED ON MOVEMENT” if confronted by a T-Rex.  Or “NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS!” to your millennial co-workers.  It’s a completely ridiculous thing to say because of its unconditional obviousness.  Like the kid doesn’t already know where to run.  Or that they don’t know they’re supposed to beat the throw to the bag.  But if you’ve been around youth softball, you know that there are an astounding number of parents who think yelling is analogous to coaching.  And since I don’t know jacksh*t about coaching softball, my vocabulary was limited to the following phrases:

“Turn and look”

“TWO!”

“Wow, you really hit the crap outta that one.”  I liked to use my impression of Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown’s voice on this one.loubrownmajorleague

Sometimes I got to call timeout for a courtesy runner for our catcher.

But the real test was the weekend I got to be the head coach.  Which meant I had to set the lineups, make in-game decisions and coach third base.  Which meant I had to give the signs instead of just read them.  So here’s what I learned:

Making out the batting order/lineup takes time more thought than I expected.  15 and 16 year-old girls behave like 15 and 16 year girls regardless if they are in the dugout, on first base or at the mall.  And the girls really, really don’t like using the signs…and nobody likes to bunt.

So we didn’t bunt.  At all.  For seven games.  What?  Nobody drags their tired butt outta bed to play an 8 a.m. Sunday morning game to bunt.  Also, if the signs you give the batter are the double finger guns while using the “pew pew” sound effect, they get that confused smile but it relaxes them.  Also if the sign you use is the under the arm fart  move, the coaches on the other team will both laugh and think you’re an idiot.  And finally if you do the Captain Morgan pose every time there’s a lefty up, the other team’s 3rd baseman will absolutely begin to believe that it’s a real sign and some crazy play is on.

I also decided if there was even a remote chance of somebody scoring from third on a throw to the plate, I was sending the girls home.  Every girl, every time.  Went six for six on plays at the plate.  Which the parents chalked up to aggressive coaching when in reality I just enjoyed doing the windmill with my left arm while yelling “you better run the wind blows!”

But nobody got hurt…seriously…and we went 4-3 the weekend ostensibly in charge.  So it was pretty fun.  But the jury is still out on whether or not they ask me to do it again…

Status Update

So it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything about, well, anything.  And, truth be told, its mostly my fault.  Work sorta kicked my arse through the beginning of May.  An 80 hour work week is exactly as mentally and physically draining as you imagine.  Plus, we’ve had some stuff to get ready for that took up a lot of time and energy and my ability to concentrate for relatively long periods of time took a hit.  Although, that could be related to my rampant consumption of Miller Lite.  We don’t have the data back yet on that question.  Regardless, the fact remains that I’ve failed to update this blog.  My fault.

Anyway here’s a few things that I feel need to be expounded upon now that I have some time.  Translated that means I want to share a few thoughts that you may or may not give two craps about.  But, and I say this with all due respect, I don’t give any craps about your feelings on this.  I’m doing it anyway.  So here goes:

I was asked to help coach a softball team of 15 and 16 year old girls.  But I didn’t play baseball as a kid, so I’m was a little out of my element.  Like asking JR Smith to know the score at the of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.  But I do have three teenage daughters so I did have some experience dealing with all of the…stuff that comes along with that.

Our 16 year-old daughter who was on that team termed me a “Low Key Bad Ass” on our trip to Kansas City for a tournament.  I don’t know what that exactly means but I plan on opining about it.

Lollapalooza seems like a really crappy concert to you and me.  And most patriotic Americans.  But it was really important to our high school senior.  However, Mom and I weren’t really as excited about it as she was…so I have some thoughts.

Did you have a Graduation Party when you graduated high school?  I didn’t.  And I didn’t realize it was such a big deal.  This, as you may have suspected, led to some differences of opinion as we hosted a grad party for our senior and one of her best friends.

Graduation itself is a big deal.  It’s also weird to realize you are old enough to have a kid who not only graduated from high school but will be in college in August.  Not gonna lie, it’s a gut check.

Mom’s folks put together a 50th Anniversary Party for themselves back in Mom’s hometown.  So we have to be there.  It’s tonight.  I don’t want to offend anybody but I’m pretty sure it is going to be an old person party.  What?  Facts are stubborn things.  And I don’t really know what old people do at parties.  But my guess is that once I learn, I’ll have some thoughts to share.

Parents and teenage girls haven’t agreed on appropriate attire for decades.  And that happened this morning on the last day of school for our 8th grader.

I have several millennials in my office.  I don’t get a lot of the stuff they seem to be attracted to…but I just turned 48 and spent most of my birthday trashing the reboot the Magnum, P.I.  So I have a different frame of reference.  But one of my millennials did ask me to put together a list of the songs from my era that she needs to become familiar.  So, as you might have suspected, I’m compiling not one, not two, but three distinct lists based on a chronological system of my own design.

Finally, the last few months have marked the end of a lot of stuff that we’ve been doing for the last few years.  Things are changing.  And, as we all know, change is stupid.  So I’ve put together some observations on that.

So get ready…