After Prom

High School Prom.  You remember it.  I liked Prom.  Had a great time both times I went. Junior year 1987 theme was Bon Jovi’s I’ll Be There For You.  Top Gun had recently hit VHS and the Atomic Shakespeare episode of Moonlighting was the funniest thing anybody had ever seen.  Senior year, if you can believe it, was even more awesome.  The series finale of Magnum aired the same weekend as Prom.  Poison had just released Nothing But a Good Time and we had access to multiple 30 packs of Stroh’s and Stroh Light.  Now, I know what you’re thinking…how does any self-respecting high school senior pick Stroh’s over Milwaukee’s Best?  Well, it came in a 30 pack.  Just saying. Also next time you have the chance to crack a Stroh’s or an MB you’ll swear to the sweet baby Jesus that it smells exactly like high school.  And Prom…if you went to high school in the late 80’s with me.  Seriously, just for a second, you’ll feel like you’re wearing shredded jeans, listening to Just Like Paradise on your way to see Coming to America.

Now sure as as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti some of you are judging me right now.  How in the hell can I hold any high moral ground while talking to my oldest daughter about Prom while I’m writing about the venerable and sorely missed Stroh’s 30 pack?

Well, thStrohs30pack1988e truth is parenting teenagers is f’ing hard.  I’m not perfect and I certainly don’t have all the right answers.  I mean example #1, I miss the taste of Stroh’s.  Sure its mostly nostalgic but I still do.  Example #2, I have no freaking clue where the point of balance is between letting your teenage daughter do things and protecting her from things actually is.  Example #3, I really don’t have any idea how these kids can enjoy Prom without hair metal.  These morons are listening to Chance the Rapper and DJ Khaled.  But here’s the thing, I remember being a teenager.  So do you.  I remember my two proms.  I thought about two things my last couple years of high school – girls and beer. That’s it. Sometimes, during basketball practice, I thought about basketball.  But that was kinda hit and miss.  As was my playing time as a result.  So while I was pretty unhappy about Mom volunteering for the After Prom party at the high school, it did put me in a position to at least be in proximity to my 17 year-old daughter during a key high milestone.  Plus, we did have access to a truckload of free food.

First, if your high school doesn’t do an After Prom party, here’s the low down.  The school opens itself up, parents volunteer to staff various activities and other crap to occupy the Prom-goers from the end of Prom to the middle of the freaking night.  Ostensibly to keep them in a relatively safe environment instead of driving around slamming beers.   Which, as we all know, may or may not have happened to a few of us Gen Xers during our high school years.  Afterwards, since these kids do everything in groups, the groups assemble at somebody’s house and they all sleep there.  Then your kid shows up at home sometime Sunday morning.

Our adventure begins with us meeting some of the other parents downtown to take some Prom pics.  Here’s one of the group.

Prom 88 Matt Ladd Jeff Nick

Oh, wait that’s a pic of me and some of my friends at Senior Prom back in ’88.  Here’s Rye and her group.

Prom17

Two things become obvious – 1) the guys are more excited about the pics than the girls. 2) My own douchiness as a high school junior and senior became painfully clear to myself.   These guys were posing their asses off.  But I did get to meet Rye’s date for the first time. But it was a day late.  While I was at work Friday night, Rye brought him over to meet us. We’d made a pretty big deal out of the fact that he hadn’t been to the house and we hadn’t met him.  Rye and him spent a little time talking to Mom about Prom and what their plans were.  Mom was pleased.  I was not.  Mostly because I was stuck at work during that 23.5 hour marathon.  I explained to  a couple coworkers what was happening while lamenting the fact that none of my questions for him could be answered.

So I improvised and started texting Mom the aforementioned questions.  Here’s the list:

  • What is his parent’s debt to asset ratio?
  • Any history of felonies or involvement with organized crime?
  • Trump or Hillary?
  • Steelers or Ravens?
  • Who was the better president: Woodrow Wilson or Calvin Coolidge?
  • What kind of car does he drive?
  • Grunge or Hair Metal?
  • Skinny jeans or normal jeans?

Mom was no help.  All she told us was that he drives a white car.  Which is useless. Provides me with absolutely no actionable intel.  Might as well have told me Tom Cruise is coming out with an action movie this summer.  Or that Eric Dickerson had a pretty good rookie year in ’83.  Useless.

PromdonutsAnyway, we head home after the pics for a hour or so then head over to Jersey Mike’s to pick up 8 boxes of subs.  Local businesses were donating food or giving us a deal. Our job to pick up Jersey Mike’s.  We arrived and there was Subway, Jimmy John’s, Krispy Kremes, Scratch Cupcakes, mini blizzards from Dairy Queen, a truckload of Papa John’s pizza, and not nearly enough wings from Buffalo Wild Wings.  After getting everything set up, I volunteered to be in charge of ice.  It required me to get ice and dump it into the big coolers to keep the pop, water and Gatorade cold.  I spent most of my time sitting while marveling at the amount of food these kids can consume.  These kids just wasted the donuts.  They looked like the Terminator walking into the West Highland Police Station looking for Sarah Connor.

One kid took 6 donuts and built them into a small pyramid on top of his pizza.  6 donuts. Who eats 6 donuts at midnight before they eat half a pizza?

PromjerseymikesI ended up with some leftover Gatorade, a box of Jersey Mike’s and two cases of Diet Pepsi.  We got home about 3:15 am…and were up at 6 am for more softball.  But as luck would have it, Bails’ team lost their first two games of the day and we were home by 11:30 and I immediately went to sleep.  5 and a-half hours later, the girls woke me up so I could mow the lawn.  Because this is what Dads do.  We go to softball on a couple hours sleep for two days in a row, we volunteer at After Prom parties and then we come home and mow the lawn.

Go Dads.

Next blog…An Awesome Time Machine.

 

Advertisements

Surprises

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

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

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

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

No sh*t.

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

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

Done.

Some Things Don’t Change

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

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

But some things simply don’t change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You know I’m saying…

Independence Day Ramblings

When it comes to discussions and debates about the awesomeness of summer, it is difficult to overstate the significance of the Fourth of July. It is to summer days what Mean Joe Greene was to the Super Steelers of the 70’s. Its what Joe Elliot was to shredded jeans my senior year of high school. What Dr. Venkman was to the Ghostbusters.

Many of you have your own traditions. As do I. They mostly involve Miller Lite, sparklers and an incoherent rant about the systematic and relentless creep of federal intrusion into the lives of everyday Americans who just want to be left the hell alone. Sometimes I’ll veer off and get lost in my disgust for FDR’s economic advisors and Woodrow Wilson’s passage of the income tax. But, just as easily, I’ll be diverted into a discussion about the cars I’d buy if I hit the lottery. What? Like you don’t have your own top 3…in no particular order, Bandit’s ’77 black Trans-Am from Smokey and the Bandit, Blake Shelton’s truck in the Boys ‘Round Here video and then the black Lamborghini in Cannonball Run. Pretty sure if you were a teenage boy in the 80’s, you had a poster of a Lambo on your wall.

Anyway, as with most holidays, I enjoy them. You have traditional favorites like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Independence Day. Some of you will have Halloween in there. Others will list Valentine’s Day thereby admitting their susceptibility to corporate America’s marketing schemes. Then you may have your own personal partialities. For example I’m looking forward to Opening Sunday of the NFL Season, Season Premiere For The Walking Dead (Oct. 11 btw) and whatever day it is that Rock Bottom starts selling Pumpkin Ale. And then there’s Every Single Friday Afternoon. Is there a time of the week Americans look forward to more than that period of time right after you leave work on Friday? Because, just like Loverboy said back in 1983, everybody really is working for the weekend. And everybody really does just want to get it right, get it right…

The girls have made this year’s Independence Day celebration a sort of homage to Lewis and Clark. They’ve spent the last couple of days sleeping on the neighbor’s trampoline with friends. They said its comfortable. I don’t believe them. But they have everything America’s westward explorers had – blankets, gunpowder, oiled cloth, snacks, i-Pods, etc. All without the threat of grizzly bears. Although Bails insists she saw a bobcat in our backyard at one point…

Something about 1987 and remembering things

Have you ever really gone through the list of top 40 songs from 1987? Not that you’d ever really have reason to do that but you know, hypothetically speaking. Kind of like going back through every weekend of the 1977 NFL season and seeing which days you actually remember based on the games played that day. Weird how many of those days I have distinct memories of.

Anyway, if you’re like me and the fall of ’87 happened to be the fall of your senior year in high school, you remember that particular autumn fondly. Except for the NFL strike, the replacement players and the Steelers mired in year 3 of a 4 year stretch of suck. That all sucked. And you know what else sucked? The songs. Not kidding. It’s embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as my 9th grader defending some of the stuff in the top 40 now, but embarrassing nonetheless.

Catch Me (I’m Falling) from Pretty Poison? How did we let this happen Gen X? What in the hell is that song? Answer? It’s the genetic seed of the suckitude which now fills the top 40. But you know what sucks worse than that song? When I hear it, I can feel the tension in my brain between my natural affinity for nostalgia and that horrible burning sensation in my esophagus that stomach acid leaves when vomit starts to creep up. I mean the same fall that we embrace Animal from Def Leppard and Is this Love from Whitesnake, we let Pretty Poison onto the chart? Expose was in there twice! I’m ashamed. And you should be ashamed too Class of ’88. But this is why you have to go back and look at history. Things aren’t always the way you remember them.

For example, I remember Stroh’s Light not tasting all that bad. I don’t remember at all being upset that turtle necks were so popular. I remember seeing the premiere of thirtysomething and thinking, “that must suck.” More recently, I remember saying, “Man, I’m never being one of those Dads whose life consists of carting kids from thing to the next.” Turns out there are some things that inevitably happen. Troy Polamalu is getting slower. My propensity for making fun of millennials is getting higher. And if you were in high school in the fall of ’87, you will remember the words to Belinda Carlise’s Heaven is a Place on Earth. Whether you want to or not. Weird but true. You also are pretty damn sure Running Man is good movie.

Anyway, last a couple Wednesdays ago I wake up early to take Mom to the airport. She’s going to Houston. Quick check with my brain reveals that a major city in Texas is infested with Ebola…or so says the mainstream media. I remember that city is Dallas. Crisis averted and I get Mom to the airport at 5 a.m. Drive back home, read the sports section of the paper for 20 minutes, run upstairs to make sure Kinz is out of bed, then take Rye to dance team practice at her school at 6:00 a.m. Come back home, complete daily morning workout, wake up Bails, shower, dress and…wait why is Kinz still home? Her bus is probably already at the…

“Did you miss the bus?”

“Yes.”

“Awesome. How much time until you have to be at school?”

“About 20 minutes.”

“Excellent.”

Then I hear Bails, “Dad remember we have to go over my Age of Exploration stuff before I go to school because my test is today.”

Right. It’s tough to keep Coronado, Ponce De Leon and Hernando De Soto straight.

I shower, shave and brush my teeth, get dressed, get Kinz to school on time and then head back home to help Bails study. It goes well enough that I’m optimistic she’ll do well.

So to recap, I have transported 3 of 4 other people who live in my house to their various activities and helped the other one identify at least 15 different explorers of the New World. All before 8 a.m.

Get home from work and my folks are in town. They are on their way from Florida to Colorado to Texas to Florida. So they stopped for a day. It was cool. But there is an issue. Kinz is laying on the couch saying she feels sick. Which later proved to be accurate when she walked into the family room holding a garbage can full of barf. And garbage. Awesome that should be easy to clean up.

But remember Ebola is spreading. So I do a Level 1 Surface Scrub Down Containment Protocol, dispose of the vomit, and get on with my evening.

Thursday I wake up, work out, call the school to the tell them Kinz won’t be there due to the whole vomit/garbage can state of affairs. Get ready to take Bails to school early because Thursday morning is orchestra day. We make it. On time. That’s a win. Make it through my day unscathed until I walk out of work look under the back of my truck and realize that I have an issue. Throughout the week it appeared that something was leaking from under my back axle. Some kind of fluid. But now this leak seems to have become worse because there is a puddle under my truck. I get home and ask my neighbor to check it out. He jacks up the truck, crawls under and says, “here’s your problem” while he points to a drain seal that had been clearly loosened and left that way. Turns out the dudes at Jiffy Lube forgot to tighten that bad boy up when they were checking fluid levels. I call them up and say, “hey I’ve been driving around all week since you guys changed the oil and checked the fluid last Saturday morning and now I have a puddle of fluid under my truck that has a red tint.”

“Please bring your truck in right now. That’s transmission fluid.”

If a car place tells you that AFTER they’ve just performed their signature service on it, isn’t the natural reaction panic followed by a perplexed but justifiably boisterous “WTF?”

Plus I need my truck. I have to get Bails to her softball scrimmage in about 20 minutes and then I need to pick up Rye from dance and transport her from dance to the freshman football game and then I need to go the aforementioned scrimmage to watch Bails. Oh and then I need to take Bails home after the scrimmage and then go pick up Rye from the football game.

And then I need to pick up Mom at the airport at 11:30 p.m. Thankfully, I have a cool neighbor. He’s also the owner/operator of the DT. I may have mentioned that previously. Anyway, my neighbor takes Bails to her scrimmage and I take the truck to Jiffy Lube. They fix their mistake and I head to pick up Rye from dance. I’m driving down the on-ramp thinking how sweet it is that I got this potentially expensive transmission problem fixed for nothing more than a little bit of inconvenience. Right up until I noticed my hood wasn’t latched properly. If there is something that you do not expect to be moving while driving down a highway on-ramp, it is your hood. Driving with an unlatched hood is a bit unsettling. Like seeing Joe Biden anywhere near the Oval Office. But the hood has a safety latch so all it was doing was bouncing around a bit until I was able to get out and close it properly once I arrived at dance. Rest of the evening was pretty normal.

Right up until I started checking Mom’s flight status. Here’s the summary. Original flight lands at 11:30. They get to airport in Houston and realize they can hop on a flight that lands at 10:30. So they switch. Once on the plane, the pilot lets them know that door sensor says they have a door that will not close. I assume that the same guys who failed to properly execute the hood closing procedures on my truck do not have cousins working at the Houston airport, so I assume that this is just a glitch. Turns out it is. But it was a glitch that lasted an hour. So her new flight ends up landing at almost exactly the same time as her original flight. Except they got to deal with the aggravation of the door sensor. So bonus I guess. Also, since she switched flights at the airport, they had her check her bag. Which took an extra 30 minutes to make it to baggage claim area. So we didn’t get home till almost 12:30. Back in college getting home at 12:30 in the morning after going out on Thursday night just meant you were the first one home. Now it means I’m going to be worthless at work for the few hours of the day Friday morning. But it’s Friday morning. Which, and I’m just spitballin’ here, but isn’t it kind of an understood thing that we’re all worthless for a few hours on Friday morning? Like ESPN destroying college football rivalries and traditions. Or Green Day sucking. Or being able to stop whatever you’re doing when Shooter is on and not get yelled at.

Anyway, take heed, for it is inevitable. You will turn into that Dad who carts his kids around everywhere. And it happens whether you can remember lyrics from 1987 or not.

Independence Day 2014

The 4th of July, as holiday rankings go, is a pretty solid third for me. Thanksgiving and Christmas are 1 and 2 respectively. Although I gotta admit that it’s a pretty tight race for that top spot. It’s like deciding your favorite Def Leppard song. Photograph or Armageddon It? Tough call. Regardless, I think I’ve landed pretty squarely on Independence Day as my number 3. There was a spirited debate between The 4th and Halloween but in the end, grilled burgers, cold beers and high explosives won out. I am American after all. Plus I get to lecture everybody else about the glaring lack of patriotism on their houses as nearly everyone fails to display Old Glory. C’mon man, at the very least, pretend for one day, you have at least a conversational grasp of American history and traditions and hang the freaking Stars and Stripes out front. You can borrow one of my flags. I have three. A Gadsden Flag featuring the Don’t Tread on Me symbol depicting a rattlesnake. A rattlesnake, according to Benjamin Franklin, was a good symbol for America since America “never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders.” The Betsy Ross Flag displaying the thirteen stars arranged in a circle. This is my favorite. And I have our current edition with 50 stars. Although I don’t think anybody would be that upset if we reduced it to 49 and let Illinois leave the union. I’m embarrassed to say I spent a good deal of my youth growing up in America’s most corrupt state. I feel bad for the all the folks in the Land of Lincoln not from Cook County yet have to deal with the waste from Rahm and Springfield.

Anyway, Independence Day, like most holidays is about traditions. This one just happens to be about America. And summer. Tough to extricate summer from the 4th. I’m writing this on the morning of our nation’s birthday and I’ve already heard firecrackers off in the distance. It won’t be long before I start smelling the sweet, sweet intoxicating aroma of grilled meat. Is there anything more 4th of July than Americans untrained in the use of explosives and gunpowder blowing stuff up while smoke from a grill rolls across the neighborhood backyards? I can still remember my Dad pulling the grill out onto the driveway, swearing at the charcoal as it failed to light and then running with my friends across the backyards of our neighbors as we nearly lost our minds in anticipation of fireworks. I still am somewhat befuddled by the anticipation and excitement for fireworks. I mean, for kids, anticipation and Christmas morning go together like the Obama administration and learning about scandals on the news just like the rest of us. That was sarcasm by the way. Regardless, Americans have been getting together for neighborhood parties since, well, since Lexington and Concord. Difference is back then the British showed up wearing the wrong colors for the party so a bunch of guys, fresh from the local tavern, walked out to meet them. After realizing they were outnumbered the Americans, as Americans sometimes do, talked some smack, flexed their guns and let them know in pointed terms to get the hell off our lawn. Also that taxes sucked. Especially when the money paid went to people who didn’t pay any taxes. Hey, wait a minute…

Anyway, the British, being the heavy favorites according to Vegas odds and not wanting to deal with all their jerkoff bosses back in Boston if they came home with a loss, decided these drunk, small town, animal skin wearing, Kid Rock looking hicks needed to be shown a lesson in manners and professional military combat maneuvers. And, after the typical back and forth jawing often seen at tailgate parties, Thanksgiving dinner and shows hosted by Bill O’Reilly…somebody decided to pop off a round. It was likely preceeded by the following statement, “Dude, hold this, I’m gonna try something.”

Upholding that tradition today are Americans at countless July 4th parties who, after a few cans of Sam Adams, pop off a strategically placed cuss words followed by some firecrackers and finally ending with an argument over whose fans are worse – the Red Sox or Yankees.

Today we show up with a cooler, our tailgate chairs and some deviled eggs and breakdown the top summer songs of the 80’s and early 90’s, discuss the inevitable disappointing exit from the 2014 NFL playoffs by the Peyton Manning led Broncos and the astounding level of douchiness shown by Harry Reid. This guy is like JR Ewing and Mr. Burns rolled together. We punctuate our arguments with f-bombs, our own renditions of Axl Rose’s slither dance and which beer, Miller Lite or Bud Light, really is the unofficial neighborhood get together beer. So its just like Lexington and Concord except nobody has muskets. I mean folks are drinking, talking smack, somebody shows up and causes a problem and the night ends with explosions and the smell of gunpowder. Nothing has really changed. I mean if you go ahead and forget all the unrelenting damage caused by the domestic policies of Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Obama.

And since I know you’re wondering about this – My thoughts on the topic of top summertime songs of the 80’s and early 90’s? Far, far too detailed to summarize here but, in no particular order, here’s a very short sampling of my favorites:

Midnight Blue
Technically not a summertime hit as it peaked at #5 on the charts in February of ’87. But I remember listening to it A LOT in the summer of ’87. So suck it real world timeline.

Summertime
Upon seeing this video for the first time our 14 year old daughter uttered, “Will Smith was a singer?”

Tainted Love
Nothing, absolutely nothing says summer 1982 like this song. I think their was some sort of suburban pool rule that said you had to hear this song at least once while swimming.

Okinawa and our Basement

So we’re sitting on the couch in the family room watching The Goldberg’s on Tuesday night. Once again, the show was hilarious. Amazing how they nail it every single time. But while we’re enjoying the show a skinny blond 4th grader appears behind us. And she’s in tears. Sobbing. The kind of sobbing that is so powerful she can’t really form words without inadvertent snorts and the signs of hyperventilation occurring.

“I keep ruining everything!”

Now regardless of what is happening at the moment in time when you hear this, you are not expecting the result to be positive. All that you’re wondering is whether you’re going to be unhappy or pissed off when you find out what it is that has occurred to elicit this statement. I mean it is a 4th grader that uttered the words. She could have torn her favorite pajama pants. She could have let all her sharpie markers dry out by not securing the caps after the last use. Really, the words about ruining everything, and the volume at which they are spoken, are not themselves cause for rage.

magnumBut there are times throughout our lives when our mettle is tested. It happened to the marines in Hue back in ’68. It happened to the Steelers on that cold December day just before Christmas in ’72. It happened to Magnum in ’82 when he was forced to kill Ivan to prevent him triggering more Communist sleeper agents in the U.S. And it happened to Mom and I on Tuesday night.

“Bails, what are you talking about?”

“I was painting my toenails and…”

If you have girls, never in the history of parenting has anything that combined hysterical sobbing and a reference to toenail painting ever ended in something awesome. NEVER. No 4th grade girl has ever said while sobbing, “Dad I was painting my toenails and I remembered that you got a phone call last night from Bruce Willis, Lynn Swann and Paul Ryan. They wanted you to go lunch with them and maybe hang out afterwards.” That has never happened.

You know what does happen when a sobbing 4th grader tells you she was painting her toenails? You voice, in rising alarm, the following sentence:

“WHERE WERE YOU DOING THIS!?!?!?!?!”

The answer you’re looking for involves the phrase, “on top of a plastic tarp.” Instead we hear this:

“In the basement and…”

Quickness, turns out, is highly influenced by circumstances. Also turns out purple nail polish does not blend into the sandy colored carpet in our basement. What purple nail polish does do however is form itself into a stain roughly the shape of Okinawa. On a smaller scale of course.

Other relevant facts to this situation include the fact that during the fall Bails decided to paint her fingernails on the kitchen table. The only thing between the kitchen table and the nail polish was a single sheet of newspaper. Turns out newspaper is powerless against the destructive chemical agents present in Fuchsia Shock. Other things that yield to the power of nail polish? The finish on our kitchen table.

So, learning from that mistake and what was sternly explained to her, Bails decides that painting her nails on the brand new family room coffee table this winter is a better idea. Now in possession of the information regarding the uselessness of newspaper to defend against the muscle of finger nail centric cosmetics, she figured that a single paper towel would do the trick.

It didn’t.

Lucky for her I happened to walk into the family room at almost the exact instant she realized that some polish had found its way onto the paper towel and had begun the devastating process of literally eating its way through the paper towel, the coffee table’s finish, the coffee table itself, the first floor of our house and likely all the way to China. As a reminder we have a very small remnant of the aforementioned paper towel still stubbornly clinging to the coffee table. Damn thing is like the Congressional Dems insisting the IRS and Lois Lerner didn’t target conservative groups.

All of this is going through my mind as I look at the purple map of Okinawa on our basement carpet. So here are some things that don’t help remove nail polish from carpet. Swearing. It doesn’t help. I tested it. Repeatedly. Intuitively you think it should. But its just one of those weird things that just doesn’t do the things you hoped it would. Crying also doesn’t help. Bails tested it. A lot. Saying “This is the THIRD FREAKING TIME!” over and over again while increasing your volume doesn’t help. Also not helpful is your 6th grader sitting on the couch watching TV while all of this happens. Seriously. She claimed ignorance. Didn’t see the spill, didn’t see the botched clean-up effort from Bails, barely noticed she left the room in tears.

Turns out, thanks to the internet, I learned rubbing alcohol is helpful. Once I got to the stain and tested the swearing theory I ran back up the stairs, grabbled my laptop and googled “removing nail polish from carpet.”

Supplies needed: paper towels, sponge, rubbing alcohol. Also clearly outlined was the need to act quickly. You soak up any excess polish by dabbing, not rubbing, the carpet strands with the paper towel. Then you put some rubbing alcohol on the sponge and slowly and patiently dab the carpet until the stain is removed – providing you acted quickly enough in the first place. Then when the stain is no longer visible, you use paper towel to soak up any excess rubbing alcohol. Lastly you consume alcohol in beer form to celebrate your victory. I added that last part.

So it turns out getting nail polish out of carpet isn’t impossible. Who knew?

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving is to Christmas what the Raiders were to the Steelers in the 70’s. Awesome in it’s own right, but still not the best. And that sucks for Thanksgiving. I decided the theme of this year’s Thanksgiving would be pie. I hope you held up your end of the bargain on that. I did. Damn you pumpkin pie and your tasty pilgrimy flavorsome goodness! Pumpkin pie is the Immaculate Reception of Thanksgiving. It’s good every time, it never gets old and people will argue about its rightful place in the lore of the day for eternity.

Anyway, in our school district the kids get the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off instead of Veteran’s Day. You can make your own value judgments regarding that decision. I’m not joining you. The convenience of having the girls with that Wednesday off cannot be overstated. Last week, as has become our tradition, they helped me get out and put up the Christmas decorations. And by helping me, I mean they didn’t help and instead watched TV.

Well that’s not totally true. Kinsey actually did provide some real bona fide assistance as I removed the boxes and bags of Christmas decorations from the storage shelves in the basement. I do a fairly decent job of making sure the decorations are easily accessible but after a year’s worth of storage, stuff builds up. Also we have a lot of them.

But here’s the dirty little secret with Christmas decorations; you can’t start putting them all up until you’ve cleaned and dusted the areas in which they will be displayed for the yuletide enjoyment of all. Which, or course, sucks. Plus you can’t discount the fact that you are purposefully cleaning for the sole reason of getting the aforementioned display areas ready for Christmas decorations and you are doing it in what is clearly marked on all calendars as the day before Thanksgiving. There’s no getting around the fact that its still Thanksgiving season. And listen, if you’ve spent any time on this blog, I have a certain distaste for the early Christmas epidemic that takes over America in November. But I’ve rationalized the “getting a headstart on the Christmas decorations” behavior as most Americans do. Hey, if the President can say Obamacare is working, then I figure we’re all allowed to just do whatever the hell we want.

Regardless of the administration’s hold on their approval rating, I figured since we’re leaving for Mom’s folks house later the same day, unpacking and putting up the outside Christmas lights doesn’t really qualify as cheating on Thanksgiving since we won’t turn on the lights or actually enjoy any of the decorations until after Turkey Day. Yeah, I know, it’s a giant crock of sh..crap. It’s like Big Ten football fans convincing themselves that the additions of Rutgers and Maryland make the conference better at football. Still not okay with Penn State being in that league by the way. I miss Pitt-Penn State on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Thanks for killing tradition ESPN, Nike and Jim Delaney.

Anyway, whilst I’m bringing up the boxes of Christmas stuff I notice a couple things. First, I’m working far harder than I expected. Which in turn could mean a few other things; 1) Stamina is not what it used to be. 2) We have way too many Christmas decorations. 3) I’m old.

ChixmaslionRegardless, after getting everything off the shelves I made a key decision. The tree and ornaments can wait until after Thanksgiving. Kinda have to do that with Mom and the girls anyway. It’s a family activity. You can’t put up the tree and decorate it by yourself if you are married and have three girls living with you. All you can do it prevent the ornaments you don’t like from being placed anywhere of consequence on the tree. My favorite ornament is small replica of the Chicago Art Institute lions with the Christmas wreaths placed on them. Sentimental. One of my first memories of my family moving to Illinois in December of ’77 was driving by those guys and seeing the wreaths. That and the ice bowl against the Giants to clinch a playoff spot for Payton and the boys.

Second thing I noticed during the my decoration retrevials? Instead of helping, Rye is watching Friends. And not just any episodes of Friends. She’s watching the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends. And it totally sucked me in. Go to Youtube and watch them right now. This show is more hilarious now than it was when I was watching it in my 20’s and early 30’s. Don’t get me wrong, Ross is still annoyingly sucky. And it is more than a little concerning that Rye seems to identify with Phoebe. But Joey kills me.

“What’s not to like? Custard? Good! Jam? Good! Meat? Gooooood!”

Also sucks for the Millenials that all the Friends copycat shows don’t really approach the hilarity of the original. Also it just sucks to be a Millenial. Granted its not all your fault. You were raised by Boomers. Thanks for bankrupting the country and never learning financial literacy Boomers. But c’mon Millenials, yeah you’re awesome at social media but you’ve been praised for just about everything you’ve ever done and no, you’re not going to be charge after you’ve been here 5 minutes.

But that’s kinda off topic…

The Fine Arts Dinner

What could be better than going to the Fine Arts Dinner at the local elementary school for three hours on one of the first Fridays of the spring with awesome weather? How about Mom bidding $50 over the minimum bid on the most expensive item in the silent action? It was a painting. By the kids. That is now hanging above our mantle. Here’s a pic:

DSC02322

Looks very 70’s to me. Anyway, the Fine Arts Dinner last Friday entailed dinner and performances by the students. And – bonus – we were in the gym. The dinner consisted of pork and chicken along with dinner rolls, a salad, and some other stuff I don’t remember. Oh, and homemade cake pops. The pork was surprisingly good. The chicken was expectedly dry. Salad? Good. Cakepops? Awesome. Bails had four.

After dinner we were treated to selected songs from the school’s production of Grease. I thought this was fairly brave. Not on our part for listening but on the teacher’s part for having a whole boatload of 5th and 6th graders take on Grease. The girls came home after the initial performance and said they loved it! So much that they wanted to go out and rent Grease so they could watch the movie. I figured nearly all of the sexual innuendo would go over their heads but what really surprised me was that they hadn’t already seen it. I mean hasn’t everybody pretty much seen it? I was just 8 when I saw it back in the summer of ’78 when it originally came out. Completely warped my idea of what high school was going to be like until I watched Porky’s. Which again skewed my theories on how my high school years would unfold. Until finally I saw Sixteen Candles and Red Dawn which got it all straightened out. Notwithstanding my expectations for the years in between and including 1984 and 1988, I guess it shouldn’t come as all that much of a revelation that someone has not seen Grease. I recently learned that there are actual Americans roaming this great nation of ours that have never seen Star Wars. I’m completely serious.

How do you go through childhood without the Empire and the Rebellion as reference points? Without Luke, Darth Vader and Han Solo anchoring your definitions of good, evil and smartassery?

But then again I just had a conversation at work with some early 30-somethings about who Tony Manero and Sonny Crockett are. Or were, I guess. They, and I’m not exaggerating, had no idea. None. I had to say “Don Johnson” to even get a nod of recognition. Rico Tubbs? Blank stares. Rick and AJ? Nothing. Carmine Ragusa…aka The Big Ragoo? Crickets. Joanie loving Chachi? The Regal Beagal? TJ Freaking Hooker!? It’s like I was talking to an empty depressing wasteland. A wilderness void of any knowledge gathered from the Carter and Reagan administrations.

Regardless of the alarmingly high rate of Gen Y idiocy at my place of employment, it didn’t change the fact that I spent my Friday evening at an elementary school watching 11 year-olds sing “Summer Loving” and “Beauty School Drop Out.” To be completely honest, the kids did a great job. Far better than I could have done. I mean if I had the guts to actually sing in front of people about girls when I was 11.

The girl who sang “Beauty School Drop Out” really could sing. Afterwards, we were treated to performances by the orchestra and the band. The 6th grade orchestra, the 5th and 6th grade orchestra, the 6th grade band, the 5th and 6th grade band, the school’s chorus and then there was the well-meaning teacher who felt the need to fill the time between performances with comments. Well, they are probably more accurately described as annotations. Because every 5th and 6th grade musical needs footnotes. To be as polite as possible, they were unnecessary. Like anything said by Joe Biden. I mean all you have to do is introduce who is performing. Done. We don’t need backstory. I’m already trying to follow the 2nd round of the NFL Draft on my phone and I want to avoid distractions. Robert Woods and Kevin Minter both went off the board before the Steelers picked. So I was thinking they might take Keenan Allen or even reach for Jonathan Franklin. Proving once again that the Steelers are smarter than me, they took LeVeon Bell! Great pick. Sadly though Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore is a freaking draft genius. Dude just keeps making the Ravens better.

Being at the school was a distinct change from where I watched the last half of the First Round of the Draft however. Have you ever been to Twin Peaks? It’s a restaurant. They market their “Eats, drinks and scenic views.” The scenic views are the wait staff and bartenders who wear really short shorts and what is essentially a bikini top with a lumberjack pattern. Or the same pattern Lamar Alexander wore during his failed 1996 bid for the GOP presidential nomination. And their beer is chilled to 29 degrees. So its really cold. However, and I’m just spitballin’ here, I don’t think anybody is going to Twin Peaks for the coldness of the beer. But when you pretty much leave the location determination to two of the single guys in the league, this is where you end up.

So here’s the thing. I’m married with three daughters. Which means I’m living with four women. In college that would have been freaking awesome. Now? Not so much. I don’t really have a bathroom and nobody shares my appreciation for Fletch quotes. Now you add girls in their late teens and early to mid 20’s barely dressed. Me in college would have thought this was the best damn Friday night ever. Now? Its just dudes in their mid-40’s flirting and taking pics with girls in their late teens and early to mid 20’s. Tad bit creepy.

I also was told that the hostess was too young to serve alcohol which meant she was probably 17. My oldest daughter is 13. I’ve often said perspective is a wonderful teacher. And my perspective is that I am mentally unprepared for teenage girls. Mostly because I remember being a teenage boy.

Which brings me back to the Fine Arts Dinner. As I’ve become an adult, a husband and a father I’ve learned, often the hard way, that lapsing back into being a teenage boy becomes less acceptable. Not everyone thinks farts are funny, the versatile uses for the f-bomb aren’t appropriate and selfishness is regarded as you being an a-hole not simply part of the maturation process. As they are doing the silent auction, it became apparent that these fine educators had never done a silent auction or anything remotely related to one in any way. So it took far longer than it needed to take. While I’m standing there holding a couple music books, my phone displaying what is now the 3rd round of the NFL Draft and a violin, I keenly observed, in a totally self-congratulatory kind of way, that I’m am so much better at being a grown-up than I used to be. Back my late 20’s this kind of thing would have led to an impressive display of self-absorption and annoyance. I actually said, “Hey, I am way better at this stuff than I used to be. If this was 1999 I would be bitching up a freaking super storm.”

Instead I write this blog.

In the interest of full disclosure, teenage me, college me and Dad me do share at least one thing in common. Miller Lite. After getting back from the dinner, my neighbor is in his garage repainting his cabinet doors. He’s pretty handy and far more ambitious than myself. He asks how the dinner went. I respond by walking up his driveway, past the him and his cabinet doors, right to the fridge in his garage. It was then when I decided to liberate several Miller Lites from said fridge.

Rest of the night went pretty well.