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

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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…

Small Things

I have three daughters.  Which means, in my case anyway, I don’t do the same things with my kids that my Dad did with me.  I have two sisters so my Dad wasn’t totally off the hook but the difference, of course, is that I have no sons and three freaking daughters.  I’m like the 82nd Airborne at Bastogne most of the time.  My Dad had at least one escape route.  For example, I have spent a lot time waiting in various places and rooms to watch our oldest kid dance.  My Dad never did that.  He spent a good deal of time in small gymnasiums watching me play basketball.  I, on the other hand, have gone to high school football and basketball games for halftime so I could watch the dance team. As such, I have a far lower opinion of the jackwagons who stand up in front of me at halftime.  FYI, I guess.

Also I have had the privilege and opportunity to pick up feminine hygiene products and that pink and green Maybelline mascara brush or applicator or whatever the hell it is.  I have been the target of eye rolls of such disdain that I’ve had to mentally review the 5th Commandment in order to stay out of jail.  I am now acutely aware of the douche-tastic behavior of teenage boys in way I never was as a teenage boy myself.  I have wondered, aloud, how in the name of the sweet baby Jesus can they possibly get that much make-up on everything in the bathroom.  Serious, what the f*#k?!

While our 8th grader thinks farts are as funny as I do and our sophomore liked the 80’s mini-series North and South just as much as I did, there is still some confusion on my part in regards to the interests that the girls developed.  I mean, I really thought that just through sheer volume of exposure that at least one of the girls would want to play basketball or at the very least enjoy watching football.  I’ve had the damn NFL Sunday Ticket since the last term of W’s administration.  They’ve been forced, when they needed money anyway, to interrupt me while I watched weekly highlights on youtube from the ’83 NFL season.  Man, there was a helluva class of rookies that year.  You’d think that they’d somehow develop at least a passing interest in Steelers and Cyclones games due to my utterly immature reactions to said games.  Oddly, they just don’t hold college football and basketball in the same ritualistic reverence that I do.  I can describe, in detail, my first college football game.  Pitt-Navy, October 15, 1977.  Pitt won 34-17.  I still smile remembering my Dad and I predicting the scores of every NFL game each Sunday.  We did it every year from ’78 through ’85.  While two of the girls did come with me to see Dunkirk with me, it wasn’t really the same as when my Dad took me to see Red Dawn.  Although with the current hold idealistic progressive saps hold on social studies teaching positions, they might have ended up cheering for the Soviets in that movie.

None of them wanted to play catch with the football like I did with my Dad.  Although in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not sure my Dad really enjoyed those games of catches.  Mostly because, when I was little, that unless the ball was thrown right to me, it really wasn’t a game of catch.  It was me yelling and crying about how he wasn’t throwing it right.  So, I guess, I was behaving exactly the same as pretty much EVERY SINGLE wide receiver in the NFL right now.  Although I did get roped into helping coach our sophomore’s 16U softball team.  So I do get to play catch with my kids.  But not with a football.

But then something happened this morning.  In the grand timeline of my tenure as a Dad it probably won’t occupy a key spot on the chronology.  Then again, maybe it will.  This morning our 18 year-old came into our bedroom as I was brushing my teeth and said, “Dad, can I wear one of your flannels to school today?”

Not to go on a tangent, but here’s the deal – I have several flannels.  They are not only awesome but serve a variety of roles.  And I like versatility.  I like utility players in baseball.  Before he was an all-star centerfielder for the Pirates, Andy Van Slyke played 5 positions for the Cardinals.  I like 3rd down backs in football.  I know he played for the Chargers and the Bengals but man I liked James Brooks.  He could return kicks, line up in the “I” or even split out.  I like swing guards in college basketball who play the point in a pinch but also matchup on a 6-5 wing and play lock down defense.  Flannels are like that.  Are they a sweatshirt?  A light jacket?  You can even get away with wearing one to work certain times of the year.

Anyway, my smile probably gave it away, but it was as if she walked up to me on the couch and said, “Dad, can I watch the Steelers with you while you explain to me – in detail – why they are the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL post-merger?”  Not joking, it kinda felt like that.  She’s a senior.  She graduates in 7 weeks.  Like most seniors, she doesn’t spend that much of her free time at home.  And when she asks me for something, it is almost always money or for some assistance in the suppression and subjugation of her two younger sisters.  So in the long and spotty history of Dads and their 18 year-old daughters, this might just be a footnote…but I thought it was pretty damn cool.

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.

Spring Breaking

Evidently a spring break trip senior year is a thing.

Did you know this?  I sure as hell did not.  But it is an actual thing.  As least where we live.  Most seniors, as least the ones that our high school senior is friends with, are going somewhere on spring break.  My feelings regarding 18 year-olds and spring break have evolved over the years.  Mostly because my impressions of Spring Break, like most things, were heavily influenced by cheesy 80’s movies.  In this case, Spring Break, Hot Dog The Movie and Up the Creek.  Pretty cool when I was 18, now with a daughter who is 18?  Not so much.

But here’s the thing, you know where I went on my senior year spring break?  Crystal Lake, IL.  Or, as I remember it, NOWHERE.  I stayed home.  Why?  Because I was an 18 year-old high school senior with two interests – beer and girls.  And my parents were sane  and also pragmatic with their dollars.  Closest I got to the beach was Surfing magazine.  And truth be told, I had done virtually nothing during my junior and senior years of high school to engender any kind of confidence in my parents to believe that I could conduct myself responsibly under my own supervision.  And if I were to throw around some rough estimates the chances that my folks would have forked out the cash and traveled with me and my friends, along with their parents, to go somewhere warm and beery on spring break in March of 1988 would be in the vicinity of 0.0 percent.  And that might be generous.

But that is exactly what I did.  I fully admit my weakness.  I caved.  Gave in.  I stood my ground about as firmly as Oilers defense vs. the Bills in the ’92 playoffs.  Way back last fall, our oldest daughter started talking about spring break and how some of her friends were going Florida and some others were headed to Mexico and few others were going to California.  Naturally my first question was “by themselves?”  The answer surprised me more than had she actually answered “yes.”  Apparently these high school seniors had somehow used  some sort of senior year sorcery to trick their unsuspecting parents into not only paying for this ill-conceived idea but to also JOIN THEM.  I know!  How is this remotely fun for the parents?  But its true.  So after a few weeks of incessant badgering, whining and other assorted infuriating behaviors Mom comes over and tells me that I better get used to the idea of her going somewhere on spring break.  If I remember correctly, here was my response:

“Are you f$#@ing nuts?  I’m not paying for that sh*t.”

This was of course translated as, “Thanks for agreeing, I’ll let you know the total cost of the trip.”

So Mom and the 18 year-old are in Minneapolis tonight getting ready to fly out tomorrow morning on their way to a resort just south of Cancun.  Yeah, when I cave, I do it spectacularly.  I not only stupidly agreed to paying for this terrible idea, I have also agreed to do it TWO MORE FREAKING TIMES.  Because there ain’t no way the other two girls are going to somehow allow their senior year spring breaks to come and go without a trip somewhere.  In fact, the sophomore already was letting me know how awesome her spring break trip to Mexico will be.

Without hesitation I informed her that wherever it is that she goes on Spring Break two years from now, it will be within the international boundaries of the lower 48 of these United States.  With a little time to prepare myself, I’m more confident in my ability to stand my ground.  But then again, so was Custer.

Why am I limiting her to the good ol’ USA?  Well we met with some of the other parents who will be going on the trip.  Several of them are veterans of taking their kids to Mexico.  In addition to everybody telling us that the kids can’t go anywhere without adults both in the resort and outside the resort for safety reasons, we were told that at some point somebody is going to try and sell you and your kid some kind of illegal narcotics and at some point, in or around one of the clubs, prostitutes will find their way in.  Turns out more and more Americans aren’t leaving the resorts so the local, uh, merchants are finding their way in.  Also the kids can legally drink.  So Mom spent some time in the car explaining some of the rules.  Like how you never leave your drink unattended.  Don’t drink something given to you by somebody you don’t know.  If at all possible, drink something out of a can or a bottle and not a mixed drink.  Because nobody wants to drink the water.  I mean unless you’re a toilet enthusiast or something.

So I’m kinda freaked out about this even though Mom will down there.  They get back Wednesday.  We’ll see how it goes…

We Made it

It’s over.  We made it.  And not unlike the ’80 Steelers, there will be a few last gasps which sow doubt on its demise, but winter has lost.  The light has returned.  It’s like the night, on the forest moon of Endor, when  the second Death Star was destroyed.  We made it to March.  Regardless of what calendar traditionalists will have you believe, March 1 is the first day of spring.  It doesn’t matter what winter does from here because the only thing that will happen is winter losing.

March 1, along with the opening Sunday of the NFL season, the last day of school and whatever day you win the Powerball, is the happiest day of the year.  March Madness , with the conference basketball tournaments and the Big Dance, is imminent.  Which means its the only time of year when you can watch basketball at the office and have it be totally within the bounds of all in-house policies inside your workplace.  Plus, we’ll get a 70 degree day in there in the next few weeks that lands on a Friday and literally everybody goes to the bar.  It’s almost magical.  But if we’re really, really lucky, it’ll get unseasonably warm for an extended period of time and we’ll get to mow our lawns!  Just once in my entire life have I been blessed with the opportunity to mow my lawn in the month of March.  Just once.  2010.  And it was glorious!

Quick update on my playlist time machine – I was briefly stuck in the spring of ’90 this morning.  Heard these three:

Dangerous by Roxette.  Aside from Marie Fredricksson’s killer hair in the video, this is just a really catchy song.  It is exactly the kind of stuff the morons who dig the depressing dark brooding of grunge hate.  Which, of course, makes it more appealing to me.  I watched the video like 6 times this morning.  Felt more like spring every time.

Bust a Move by Young MC.  Go get a pen and start making a list of the songs you know the words to but can’t really figure out how.  This song is on that list every time.  “She’s dressed in yellow, she says Hello, come sit next to me you fine fellow.  You run over there without a second to lose, And what comes next hey bust a move.”  Sure you can make a case that Ice Ice Baby or maybe Just a Friend by Biz Markie are on that list too but Bust a Move is on everybody’s list.  I mean, c’mon man, I’m singing those lyrics right now.

Coming of Age by Damn Yankees.  Truth be told this wasn’t the song that was going to pop up next this morning.  But its one of my favorite songs of all time so I made an editorial decision to leapfrog O.P.P.  Tommy Shaw, Jack Blades and Uncle Ted.  Tough to get cooler than that.  But the best thing about this song is that it just punches you in the face with guitar and drums and hair and denim and a really big American eagle statue in the video.  Yeah, it’s that awesome.