Hello Christmas My Old Friend

I like Santa.  He’s a jolly old fat man with a snowy white beard.  He’s about giving, hope and faith.  He represents the best in all of us and asks nothing in return.  He shows up regardless of the weather, regardless of how you voted in November and regardless of whether you believe in him or not.

Christmas is the season, to paraphrase Frank Cross, when we’re all a little nicer.

Theoretically anyway.

Mom was in Omaha and Lincoln for most of last week. And her side of the family came to the house over the weekend to celebrate an early Christmas.  Plus Rogue One came out Friday.  Yeah, so Friday morning was pretty much shot when it came to cleaning up the house and making food along with all the other related holiday preparedness chores necessary to accomplish when family is about to arrive.

So that means it fell upon me to get the place ready.  I unilaterally modified that task to mostly ready.  Why?  Because I’m a simple dude.  And a lot of stuff that some people think are necessary, I don’t.  But listen, we kicked Christmas’ ass decorating this place.  It looks freaking awesome.  Our family room looks like HG-freaking-TV was here.  Chip and Joanna, when they’re not fighting off the leftwing twitter lynch mob, would be proud.  The house smells like a yuletide log filled with mistletoe and sugarplums, delivered to the house by a one-horse open sleigh driven by eleven lords-a-leaping, exploded leaving an exquisite ensemble of poinsettias, silver bells and a sea of swirly twirly gum drops.   It’s like Santa himself detailed the Seal Team 6 of elves to come get the place ready for the holidays.  So I figured as long as the house is clean, the beer is cold and there is enough food to prevent starvation, we’d be set.

Yes, there were a few things left to clean up after we got home from watching Rogue One.  But it was Rogue One.  What the hell were we supposed to do?  Wait until next weekend to see it?  Here’s a pic of me getting ready to watch.

theaterrogueone

First one in the theater baby!

Regardless, I was on top of making sure the house was ready.  Thursday night, whilst cleaning up the basement, I thought I’d get all the laundry done too.  Seemed reasonable.  However, there are three teenage girls in the house.  Things which are of deathly importance to them do not always rise to that same level with me.

So, I’m doing the laundry and various clean up related tasks.  I’m about done and getting ready to call the evening’s prep work a win and just go to bed when Rye comes into the bedroom.

“Dad, when you were doing laundry did you go into my room and take anything?”

“Are you asking did I pick up any of the clothes that were strewn about your floor?  No, I didn’t.  I asked if you had any laundry you wanted done and you specifically said no.  I chose to believe you.”

“Ok, well it was Kinsey then.”

“Wait, what was Kinsey?”

“Well, my Lulu Lemon tights got washed in the washer and they are only supposed to be hand washed.”

Quick point of context – Lulu Lemon is the brand that sells tights/leggings that are about $700.  I’m kidding but Rye did save up a bunch of money this summer specifically to buy leggings that were about $100.  Yes, $100 American dollars.  They are so precious but also evidently constructed so poorly that they can’t cannot survive a routine cycle in a washing machine and instead can only endure 19th century clothes washing technology.

“Sorry about that kiddo but I just put whatever whatever was in the darks pile into the washing machine.  I didn’t look to see what was in the pile because I figure if you guys made the rare decision to put your own dirty laundry in the laundry room I was just going to go ahead assume you were serious about that stuff getting washed.  I just unloaded the washer and hung up 3 or 4 pairs of black tights or leggings or whatever.  Nothing like that got put in the dryer.”

“Okay, well, Kinsey must have put them in the laundry on purpose.  I hate her.”

Then she went into Kinsey’s room, blamed her, and then went back into her room and started crying.

So much for there being a feeling of Christmas in the air.  But that is how the mind of 17 year-old upset about her ridiculously expensive black leggings being washed glitches when upset.  She doesn’t think that she may have inadvertently put them in the wrong pile, or absent mindedly picked them up with something else off her floor, instead she tried to pin the blame on me.  When it was obvious that wouldn’t work, she seamlessly transitioned to blaming her sister, for no other reason than malice, for trying to purposely ruin them.

I mean what was Kinsey’s motive?  What did she have to gain by going into Rye’s room, searching for the Lulu Lemon leggings and then sneakily placing them in the pile of dirty laundry in the laundry room.  Where’s the payoff?

After getting blamed, Kinsey comes into my room looking like the media on election night.  She confusedly asks me if I knew what Rye was talking about.  We went through a quick recap and Kinz says, “Why would I do that? That literally makes no sense.”  Aside from acknowledging her use of “literally” in a relatively appropriate way, I just told her to ignore Rye and go to bed.

Which, if I’m being honest, is my go to strategy when dealing with the three teenage girls in my house…

He’s Nothing Without His Choppers

Remember that story I told you about my two front teeth getting knocked out by a line drive off my daughter’s bat about 16 months ago?  Not really?  Okay, quick refresher – took a line drive directly to my face, just below my nose and just above my front teeth.  I assume what I felt was similar to what Hollywood felt when they called Pennsylvania for Trump.

No bone fractures, no cracked teeth, just quite a bit of blood.  And swelling.  Pretty gross.  Also my face is evidently made out of high grade steel.  Not that I’m bragging or daring you to test that conclusion but its pretty amazing that my teeth were fully intact along with the rest of my face.  Anyway, went to the ER and then to the dentist.  After their unexpected exit from my mouth the fugitive teeth were transported to the ER in my pocket and then to the dentist in a cup of milk.  For teeth, milk is apparently like a defibrillator.  After about an hour of being as toothless as Hillary’s appeal in the upper Midwest, the dentist replanted the teeth using sheer brute force.  Afterwards it was clearly explained to me that they had no idea if the replanting would work.  Replanting normally only works in teenagers.  Dudes in their mid-40’s eventually come back in to get permanent replacement teeth because we do not have the bloodflow necessary in our gums for a complete healing process to succeed.

Yeah, so here’s the update.  I had a dentist appointment last week and it was time for x-rays.  By the way, does it cause anyone even the slightest bit of concern that your protection against multiple invisible radioactive x-rays is a flimsy apron infused with lead or a lead equivalent?  Or that the lead apron covers you from mid-thigh to your neck…but they are aiming the radiation at your mouth which is unprotected and, if I remember human anatomy correctly, is really damn close to your brain.

Anyway, I had a new hygienist working on my teeth.  She didn’t know the whole backstory.  I suggested she read my dental history before working on my teeth.  I think she took the comment as skepticism of her ability to her job.  Which, in retrospect, is silly.  If you’re going to pick a fight with someone, it sure as hell isn’t going to be a person armed with sharp pokey things and the legal protection to cause significant dental related pain.  But she still looked at me the same way I looked when the Steelers were eliminated from playoff contention in 1980.  Then she went back to the chart and after about 30 seconds, she turns toward me and says, “So, those are your real teeth back in there, huh?”

Is Samantha Bee a hypocritical condescending douchelord?

After she’s done cleaning my teeth, she grabs the x-rays and calls for the dentist to take a look.  They’re laughing as they come back to my chair.  Dentist says, “I was just going over our, um, history.”  Turns out getting your teeth knocked out by a softball moving faster than the Milennium Falcon making the Kessel Run then salvaging them quickly enough that they can be shoved back into your sockets isn’t something most hygenists are taught to deal with in school.

Dentist holds up the x-ray of my front teeth and describes that inexplicably the gum tissue surrounding my teeth is not only healthy but it appears as if nothing ever happened.  Additionally, the ligaments appear to have reattached.  But mostly importantly it looks as if the roots of the teeth and the bone are fusing.  This is a condition called ankylosis .

So sort of a double edged sword here according to my dentist.  Chances are, as long as things remain healthy, these teeth aren’t coming out again.  They are pretty damn secure.  Which, again, she can’t believe because dudes in the mid-40’s don’t have their teeth replanted, they have them replaced.  But the downside is that if they ever need to come out for some reason, it’s kind of a big deal.  The dentist’s conclusion?

“You’re are an amazing healer.  Your gums are as healthy as can be, the teeth look completely normal and they are really, really secure in there.”

My response?

wolverine“I might be off base here but what I’m hearing you say is that I’m Wolverine.  I have extraordinary healing powers but instead of retractable adamantium claws, I have beaver teeth.”

Dentist didn’t totally agree, but also didn’t completely reject it.  So I’m counting that as win.

Experience, Genetics and Relocation

As far as I can tell, we’re all a product of our experiences with a good dose of genetics mixed in there.  That combination creates the parameters of your particular personality.  What you like, what you’ll put up with and how you view the world.  For example, the entirety of my teen years was spent in the 80’s.  This means I like hair metal, John Hughes movies and judge all presidents against Ronald Reagan.  Although I do have a soft spot for some top 40 nuggets  like Heart & Soul by T’Pau, And We Danced by The Hooters and Dangerous from Roxette.  That being said, another thing I did a fair number of times growing up was move.  By the time I started my junior year of high school I’d moved four times, went to four different schools and went through all the stuff you do when you’re the new kid.  Before you start wondering, I think moving sucks.  Like the ’76 Buccaneers, Howard the Duck and the Big 10’s decision to add Rutgers and Maryland sucks.  I realize some people like it.  Not the Howard the Duck, that’s insane, but moving.  Some people, I’ve heard, even prefer it.  Those people are the ones who have an actual hometown.  Grew up in one place.  I’m not one of those people.  In fact, I’ve always kinda envied them.  Why?  I enjoy stability.  If I listed all the synonyms for stability, they would all sound appealing to me. Steadiness.  Permanence.  Longevity.  I like things you can count on.

Which brings us to right now.  We’re still in the house Mom and I purchased  about the time we were married almost 19 years ago.  I like where we live.  I like not moving.  We are, quite literally, close to just about everything.  And you get spoiled by that.  Especially when you can sit in your next door neighbor’s driveway/garage and drink beers and only have to stumble about 20 feet to your front door.  But, alas, things change.  Injuries pushed the Steelers out of the playoffs in 1980, Lee Majors got too old to play The Fall Guy, and we have almost 5 full grown humans living in the house.  This, for those of you keeping track, creates spacing issues within the house.

So we decided to move.  And by “we” I mean Mom and the girls.  I, as is the case in most major decisions in our family which involve me spending large amounts of money, was the last to agree.  Turns out all I was doing was an impression of the German retreat up the Italian peninsula in 1943 .  It was a delaying action with the outcome never in doubt.

Regardless, a few weeks ago, I stupidly agreed to go look at a few houses with Mom, Kinz and Bails.  Turns out one of the houses we looked at appealed to everybody.  The only reason I even agreed to see the place was because I was curious about what it looked like compared to the older places we’d looked at.  And I liked it.  Not enough to actually move, but I really did like it.  Result?  The part of my brain that governs financial decisions went into full lock down.  Seriously.  I could feel it stringing barbed wire, digging foxholes, throwing up sandbags while it built a perimeter around the decision making switch marked “yes/no.”

It was like my brain was hanging out, enjoying a normal Saturday morning, when suddenly it was invited into a house with a bigger garage, an additional bedroom, a big laundry room on the second floor and a drop zone directly inside the door from the garage to house.  Here’s video of the financial sector of my brain as it realizes what’s happening:

Our house doesn’t have a drop zone.  In fact, my only experience with drop zones was episode 2 of Band of Brothers when Easy Company missed theirs by hundreds of miles and were scattered all over northern France in June of ’44.  A drop zone is the area inside a house where everybody can drop their crap as they come in from the garage – shoes, coats, backpacks, frustration and whatever else you lug around during your day.  I’m joking about dropping your frustration there.  You obviously can’t leave that in the drop zone.  You leave that at the bar.  Ideally a drop zone has hooks, a spot for shoes and best of all, the drop zone is not the ENTIRE FIRST FLOOR of your house.  Which is how it works now.  Shoes go right in front of the door and stay there until they form a small mountain range.

We’re walking around this new house and while I’m thinking about property taxes and utility costs, Kinz and Bails are upstairs picking out rooms and taping off the floor to illustrate where their beds and furniture will go.  They even chose Rye’s room for her.

 

My brain’s reaction:

Then Bails starts showing me how simple and efficient her flow of movement will be on school day mornings as she moves effortlessly from the future location of her bed to the bathroom.  No wasted steps since the closet is conveniently located on the way plus the bathroom has two sinks so her and Kinz won’t fight over space.  While this has a certain degree of logic to it, I’m skeptical about that last part.   Replacing Bo and Luke with Vance and Coy also had a degree of logic and that was a complete disaster.

Meanwhile Mom is downstairs with the realtor talking about how nice the finishes in the kitchen are while mentioning now nicely the first floor flows between rooms.  Then she starts asking questions about how long the house has been listed, who the builder is and long does it typically take get your current house ready to sell.

My brain:

So, to quote myself a couple hours later after Mom let me know that she’d already talked to the bank:

Hot Water

I live in a house with 4 other people.  All girls.  They have lots of things.  Sarcasm and hair top the list.   I’ll take some of the blame for sarcasm.  I speak it fluently.   I may have passed on that gene.  Or they might just all be teenagers.  But when it comes to clogged shower drains or blocked bathroom sinks, I’m not at fault.  I could be standing in a category 5 hurricane and my hair would give you no indication.  None.  That being said, we do share one thing.  Hot water.

When I was a kid, I grew up in a house with 4 other people.  In college I shared a house with 4 other dudes.  Hot water was a commodity.  Like sincerity in a speech by Ted Cruz.  The size, age and efficiency of your water heater helped dictate the acuteness of your hot water radar.  Over the years I believe I have developed a relatively strong sense of how much hot water is available based on the hot water related activities going on in the house.  It’s kinda like the noise level on the second floor when Mom and I are watching TV in the family room.  There is a level of noise, an intensity of clamor, a degree of hullabaloo that we don’t notice.  It’s not that we’re ignoring it, but after many years of parenting we have developed an acute sense of when something is amiss and when something is just…well…the girls “talking” to each other.  We’re aware of what’s going on but we pay it no attention.  Like any statement from Hillary suggesting competence in regards to her foreign policy experience.  If you haven’t seen 13 Hours in Benghazi you should.  However, there is a simple rule of thumb that is rarely if ever unreliable.  When it comes to showers and house full of people, you want to be first.

Sometimes this will require you to wake up early.

Other times it will require you to shower at odd times.

Or you can just get in line and hope for the best.

I have no sympathy for you if you continually chose #3 and bitch about cold water.  That’s like getting into a discussion about hair metal with a millennial and expecting wisdom.  Or telling them that the Ghost video from Ella Henderson bears a striking similarity to Warrant’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin?  Just me?  Whatever…

Anyway, recently, Kinz comes barreling down the stairs to let us know that Rye and Bails have used all the hot water.  They are, and I’m paraphrasing here, inconsiderate jerks with no appreciation or respect for widely agreed upon rules of hot water consumption.  Now we all have our burdens to bear.  The ’83 Steelers had Cliff Stoudt at quarterback.  Hans Gruber had John McClane.  Thundarr the Barbarian had the vile sorcerer Sabien.  It can be tough out there.

But this is not one of those burdens.  This is an inconvenience.  A burden is supervising John Bender in detention on a Saturday.  This is a lesson in the art of acting quickly.  A lesson in immediately diagnosing a situation, devising a plan of action, and then acting on that plan.  Joshua Chamberlain did it on Little Round Top and Kinz needs to do it here.

But Kinz has yet to learn an important lesson.  Over the years I have learned not to complain if I get there and the water temperature is less than what I expected.  Because in reality, you only have two options – bitch about it.  Which isn’t going to make the water any hotter but could make the rest of day less enjoyable as your family dismisses your plight the same way Higgins would dismiss Magnum’s need to the drive the Ferrari.  Or you can go fast.  And I have some experience with this.

A few years ago, in the middle of winter, our water heater went out.  Died.  Quit.  Like Roberto Duran in his last fight with Sugar Ray.  Which meant that, while we technically could still take showers, we spent of the time avoiding the water instead of actually using.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, we could have used one of the other appliances in the house to warm up a pot of water and used that to bath.  Well, and I’m thinking of a word here…that’s just stupid.  What the hell are we?  Pio-freaking-neers trekking across the Great Plains avoiding Indian raids whilst searching for the Oregon Trail?   No!  We have plumbing.  So even the water is like Lake Michigan in January, we’re using it.

Now there are a lot of things I like.  That first taste of a cold beer on a Friday after work.  Youtube videos of 70’s NFL games.  Being 10 feet from Dee Snider singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.  But after a few days of cold showers, stepping into a hot one is indescribable.  It’s feels like this:

But none of that helped Kinz.  She stood there whining and complaining about the lack of hot water for shower.  Only I couldn’t really hear her.  Why?  Because before I could unleash my own words of disdainful sarcasm, Mom, Rye and Bails just buried her with it.  It really was breathtaking.

We haven’t had too many issues with shower since.  Sometimes things just take care of themselves.

I’ve Never Sent an Email

One thing I would have really liked in school is if History class and English class collided. If I’m going to be forced to read a book that I haven’t picked out myself, it might as well be about the campaign in North Africa in 1943. Kinsey isn’t that lucky. Her 7th grade Social Studies class is studying the Greek Empire right now. In English they are reading about Greek mythology. And they’ve collided. Some of you immediately find this interesting. You’re smiling and a bit jealous. Ooooo…the Parthenon, Aphrodite and Gerard Butler. Whatever. I am neither smiling, nor jealous. This period in history never really kept my attention. So I’m not much help when it comes to knowing facts about Greek Gods. The extent of my knowledge is limited to the original Clash of the Titans. Kinz, however, had to pick a Greek God and give a 3 minute oral report. If you remember 7th grade, getting up in front of the class and giving a report wasn’t at the top of the list of awesome things to do. Not to mention the fact they had to memorize the speech, dress in costume and have some kind of props to accentuate their choice of Greek deity.

You know who liked lugging stage props like a toga and cardboard sword onto the bus school bus in 7th grade? Exactly nobody. Ever.

Anyway Kinz picked Hera. Yeah, I had no idea who that was either. But in case you’re wondering…Queen of the Gods, Goddess of Marriage, women and birth. And the peacock is considered sacred to her. After listening to Kinz describe her, my conclusion was Hera was some sort of genetic experiment conducted in the labs of some Greek Big Pharma conglomerate headed by some mid-level Greek staff god that combined the DNA of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton.

Aside from that though, Kinz put together a costume consisting of a bedsheet – because everyone with any knowledge of Animal House knows the best togas are made of the oldest of bedsheets – along with a gold necklace, other ancillary jewelry and an extendable painting attachment which I use to paint ceilings. Using purple duct tape she attached a whiffle ball to the top of the pole. She evidently thought Hera might excel at whiffle ball. She also wanted a peacock.

Mom finds her a peacock online for like $8 and gets free shipping. But it doesn’t arrive in time so she calls me at work and says I have to print this picture of a peacock she found. As an aside, the peacock was about 4 inches wide and 3 inches tall. It looked bigger in the pic on the website evidently. Anyway, I assume you’re asking why doesn’t she just print the picture of the peacock at home? For a very simple reason…we can’t get the f’ing printer to work. Oh, it worked when we bought it and installed it. Worked just fine. We could print from our laptop, print from our phones, it was great. But at some point, the printer just decided to go all Obama and won’t work with anybody now. Its threatening vetoes on everything we send to it, it’s raising taxes on our college savings accounts, just an all out mess.

So in light of this printer jam (see what I did there?), Kinz wants me to print the peacock picture at work. Cool. No problem. I’ve done it before. Not printing peacock pictures but printing things for the girls at work. Because who would be printing peacock pictures at work? Nobody. That’s just weird. Anyway, I tell her that she needs to email me the picture in order for me to print it.

“How do I do that?”

“How do you do what?”

“Email. I’ve never sent an email.”

magnumburnoutIt appears that email is so uncool and technologically obsolete that 7th graders are unaware of it. Like hair metal, the mid-range jump shot and Magnum, P.I.

“You don’t know how to send an email?”

“No. I’ve never done it. Can’t I just take a picture of it with my phone and send it to you?”

“No. Well, yes you could but it would be completely pointless and totally unnecessary. Like these last two years of Obama’s second term.”

“What? What do you mean? Are we still talking about the peacock email?”

“Yeah, sorry. Are you logged into you’re school account?”

“Yes. Oh, I have an email on there! What do I do?”

“Open up the email, hit “compose new email” and type my email address into the “to” box. Then go to the picture and right click and then hit “copy.”

“Ok, done.”

“Go back to the email and right click in the body of the email and hit “paste.”

“Done.”

“Send it.”

A couple seconds later I get my first ever email from Kinz. Nice father-daughter moment right there. It contains a picture of a peacock. I print said picture on the sweet color printer and later the same day I bring that picture home with me. Kinz even remembered to use it during her Hera speech. On which she made a point to tell me how awesome she did. And now Hera has the additional power of email. Boom.

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.

7th Grade Open House

For the second year in a row I was surprised by the amount of parents that showed up to Open House. Not that I’m bagging on Gen X parents, its just that as a group we’ve decided its okay to have a crap ton of stuff going on everyday after school. Open House is a one-time addition to schedule. And one-timers are the kind of things that get forgotten or purposely ignored.

theflame1988Anyway, I went to 8th Grade House Open House last year for Rye. I enjoyed it. It literally, not figuratively, was the first time I’d walked the halls of any school going from class to class since the final days of May 1988 when I was finishing up high school. Also finishing up in May of 1988? Cheap Trick’s run at #1 on the top 40 chart with The Flame.

Rye, being the organized oldest child, provided me with a map of the school, a class schedule with the room numbers, snacks, a swiss army knife and GPS locater. She numbered each room with its corresponding period. This year I was expecting a similar night.

However there was a glitch.

Who has two thumbs and showed up to Open House without a map or a class schedule?

This guy.

Seriously. I did. And when I got to the first room which was a “team meeting” in the cafeteria it was extremely obvious I was the only parent without a school map printed on a light blue sheet and my kid’s class schedule written on a yellow sheet.

What did I have? A phone, a pen, two sticks of gum along with a mix of annoyance and panic. If I was MacGyver I would have justed whipped whip up a makeshift schedule and rudimentary classroom map. But I’m not MacGyver. I’m bad at science and comparing my hair to his at this juncture in my hair’s personal timeline is, well, like claiming the president is completely on top his foreign policy.

So what do you do when the bell rings and you have to go to 1st period and you don’t have a map or a schedule. Well, the first thing you do is mask your displeasure with the situation. Then you panic. Not like freak out levels of panic but panic none the less. Because who hasn’t had this dream. You show up for the first day of school and you can’t find your locker, don’t know how to get to your first class and the cool kids are all lurking behind corners to ridicule you and your knock off Levi’s faded jean jacket.

magnumA normal man would cower. Hide. Melt under pressure so intense it can only be compared to the level-headed steely eyed coolness displayed by Thomas Magnum when he finally cornered Ivan and asked him if he’d seen the sunrise this morning. I did have an advantage however. A few weeks ago after going through the 7th grade registration process I walked Kinz through the building. Then a few days later we did it again. And again. She wanted to be sure she knew where everything was so we literally walked her daily route. Three times. Including locker stops. Yeah, not kidding. She wanted to time herself so she was certain she could get to her locker, open it, exchange class materials, close it and make it to next class on time. She did this despite me telling her that the school knows it’s the first day or two of school and will cut the 7th graders some slack since they are all new.

No dice.

But all of that frustration had an ancillary benefit. I not only learned where her classes were but had a pretty good grip on order in which they occur. Like when you leave your clock radio on as you fall asleep in the August of ’82 and you wake up singing You Should Hear How She Talks About You by Melissa Manchester. Not proud of it, just saying that sometimes you learn things by just showing up and being there. I mean Joe Biden knows where the launch codes are and pretty much all he does is embarrass himself and, well, show up.

First period is Consumer Education. Right down the hall from our team meeting in the cafeteria. Second period is English. That’s down the hall, up the stairs, quick right turn. Third period is Math, just down the hall from English. And fourth period is…um…crap…I can remember what I have for fourth period!

Solution?

Call Kinz quick before first period starts and her Consumer Ed teacher flips me a dirty look for being on my cell phone when class starts.

“Kinz, hey its Dad, text me the room number, teacher’s name and subject for your class schedule so I know where the heck I’m going.”

“Why?”

“This is no time for questions. This a Def Con 1 Code Red Alert. Text me the stuff right now! Gotta go, class is about to start!”

I notice at this point that my phone is dying. I get the ominous, “Please connect to your charger” message. Yeah, sure, no problem. No way I’m asking to borrow a charger so I can plug my phone in. I’ll spend the rest of Open House in freaking detention. How the hell would I explain that to Kinz?

Consumer Ed, turns out, is pretty cool. It’s kinda like a financial literacy class. Too bad nobody on Harry Reid’s staff had to take this. Anyway, they learn personal budgeting, about bank accounts, the stock markets, etc. I considered suggesting they spend some time on corporate welfare and why its strangling the rest of us…or you can just read Paul Ryan’s new book. Either way. Kept it to myself though. Already was a little late to my seat due to my conversation with Kinz after all.

Class ends and my phone buzzes. She sends me this:

“2nd Period English Rm 2318. 3rd Period Math Rm 2310. 5th Period Science Rm 1317. 6th Period Social Studies.”

Notice something?

Yeah, um, where the hell is 4th period? And what is the freaking room number for Social Studies? And since I don’t have a schedule sheet, like the rest of the far more prepared parents, I checked out the sheets of the Dad sitting next to me in English. Turns out we have 7 periods…so I’m gonna need to know where freaking hell that is too. Hence my response.

“Think you might have left something out. What about 4th? Room # for 6th? 7th Period?”

While I’m waiting for the response I listen to the English teacher. She’s a self-described dinosaur who still uses A LOT of paper and wants everyone to read books that she has on the shelves in her room. She also has what was described as a Curriculum or Learning Strategist that is also present in the room. The Strategist seemed like a very nice woman. I just was never real clear on what she did.

Then its over to Math. Which, if you recall, I know exactly how to find since I have the map of the school lasered onto my brain. The math teacher is hilarious. Which I found odd. Also pretty young and was sporting some nose jewelry. A hoop. It was distracting. But this teacher is super organized. Everything is on a website. Literally no excuses about not knowing what they were supposed to do. She even links to youtube videos of herself explaining the daily lesson so the kids can refer to it. They also had a funeral on Wednesday in class. For their “I Can’ts.” She had them list all the things they can’t do in math. Turns out most of them involved fractions. And they shredded them. She wore black and everything.

After that its down to chorus. How did I know? Well during math I got text from Kinz that said to go to Room 1158. I never was in chorus. Or anything remotely resembling chorus. So I was bored. But I listened. The best I could. All I can remember is at one point during the year they learn patriotic songs. Sounds good as long as one of the songs is The Battle Hymn of the Republic. No word on the use of 80’s hair metal.

Down the hall to Science. The Curriculum or Learning Strategist was also present in this class. Still hazy on what she does. Among the things they study are viruses and infectious diseases. I nodded approvingly knowing this will give the kids a base of understanding of what happens when the Zombie Apocalypse eventually happens. And how socialism is, in fact, a disease. They also will learn about the health effects of alcohol and smoking. I assume they will leave out all the good stuff…

Get text back telling me what room is home to Social Studies and finally the mystery regarding 7th Period. Spanish Room 2115.

Back up the stairs. The same stairs I’ve been up and down a few times now. I bet Kinz gets sick of these stairs. But they are pretty close to her locker giving her the advantage of not having lug around a lot of books and stuff. So that must be nice. But there’s no time to contemplate logistical minutiae, I gotta get to Social Studies!

Yes, Social Studies. The greatest of all school subjects. The only subject in which I once qualified for an AP class. Sophomore year I wrote a paper on what might have happened if Rommel won at El Alamein. But that’s beside the point. I get into class and we start going through the various units. Finally reaching “Unit 7: The Age of Revolution.” The Social Studies teacher then drops this on us, “This is an extremely important unit as the French and Russian Revolutions changed the political landscape not just in Europe but globally.”

Um…Hells To The Yes. I want to go to this class with Kinz. It’s going to be difficult not to rush home to do, I mean help with, her Social Studies homework. Don’t you wish you could have an hour or so every day at work where you go to a class about something that is awesome? Like “Unit 8: The World Wars – including The Cold War.” Man, I am so jealous. These kids don’t even realize there was an East and West Germany. Or what Blitzkreig means. Or what an astoundingly bad president Woodrow Wilson was.

Unfortunately, I still have Spanish. But, and I’m not afraid to admit this, I nearly skipped 7th Period to go to my favorite bar – The DT. But it was a Wednesday night and I’m not in college so I just went ahead and sat down in Spanish. The teacher begins her discussion with the parents by rattling off at least a paragraph and a-half of gibberish. I assumed it was in Spanish. Turns out she’s a retired high school Honors Spanish teacher who is subbing for the next 8-10 weeks because the normal teacher just had a baby. I don’t really have an opinion on either because, well, I’m just really, really happy I don’t have to take any more Spanish classes.

But that’s it for 7th Grade Open House. Didn’t have one for 9th Grade and I’m kinda upset about that. Because its not very often you get to directly employ the lessons of Gunny Highway in Heartbreak Ridge and improvise, adapt and overcome.

The First Lesson

We are on the cusp of a new era. The dawn of new age. We stand on edge of what many before us have described as one of the most significant transitions of parenthood. This is a big deal. We are entering the Drivaceous Period.

We almost, relatively speaking, have a third driver.

I took Rye driving for the first time last weekend. In my truck. Nervous isn’t really how I felt about it. Maybe more like I’m prepared to accept that we have reached this stage of life. I’m not excited about it. But I’m not dreading it either. I want her to be good at driving. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, she doesn’t have her permit yet so we stuck to a parking lot. A big lot with a good mix of interconnecting roads around a park, walking trails and a softball/soccer complex. The plan is to have her take the test to get her permit over spring break. So she has a couple weeks to get that nailed down. But I theorized that it might make more sense to her if she had some real experience behind the wheel. But a lot of things work in theory. Communism, remaking Red Dawn, the Run and Shoot offense. So it’s fair to say I was on high alert.

To be completely honest, I think this is first time since the girls were babies that my senses were running at peak efficiency. Remember when your kids first became mobile? Suddenly you became aware of how dangerous your house really was. You become acutely mindful of all the sharp edges, all the deadly poisonous chemicals and how absolutely lethal the stairs are. Putting a baby down in the house was like asking them to navigate the Danger Room in the X-Mansion. That’s kinda how it feels when you take your teenager driving for the first time. Suddenly you are hyper aware of your surroundings. Snow, curbs, wildlife, imperfections in the road surface, wind speed, changes in the gross national product, the NBA regular season. Everything.

So I put the truck in park, turn it off, switch seats and I give her the keys. First time I had ever done that. And yes I was aware of it as I did it and it did feel odd. Not in a doomed Pickett’s Charge way but more like a “Dammit, there’s nothing I can do about the relentless march of time!” Felt like I’d passed a milestone on my way to poverty with purchases for prom dresses and college laughing condescendingly over the horizon.

Anyway, I look at her and this conversation ensues:

“Okay, what’s first?”

“Um, I turn on the car?”

“Can you even reach the pedals? Look at where you’re sitting.”

“Oh, yeah. So I need to adjust the seat.”

“Right, then what?”

“Uh…turn on the car?”

“Dude, we’ve had a seatbelt law since 1989. Buckle up.”

“Right. Now do I turn on the car?”

“Adjust your mirrors so you can see what’s behind you.”

“Done…now do I…”

“Where’s the gear shifter?”

“Um, is that the thing right here that puts it in drive and park?”

“Yes.”

“What does R stand for?”

“What do you think it stands for?”

“Oh, yeah, reverse! Guess I should know that. Can I turn it on now?”

“Yes, put your foot on the brake and turn the key. Let go when it starts.”

“Got it.”

And we’re off. So I had her just drive around the parking lot to get a feel for how much pressure you put on the brake to stop and how much you need to accelerate. She did fine. So I thought we’d venture out onto the roads that connect all the lots. The main road has a speed limit of 15 and has three islands in the middle of the road designed to keep speeds down. But, if you recall, I have these sweet black rims on my truck. And I’m more than a little concerned that Rye might have difficulties steering the truck between the curbs when we get to the islands. I mean the evidence was right there. You could see all the tire marks on the curbs. Far more seasoned drivers had curb checked their vehicles. We go through the first one and I’m not kidding, it felt like Lando navigating the interior superstructure of the second, and now operational, Death Star on his way to blow up the main reactor. You run out of room real quick driving between the curbs around those islands. Maybe it just seems like it.

We did that a few times, practiced the stop and start at stop sign, practiced left and right turns, determined the exact location of the turn signal before finally practicing some maneuvering in reverse.

“Okay, pull up through the first islands and then stop right after you get past that garbage can.”

I wanted to have something close to her right outside the driver’s side (the garbage can) to distract her a little bit. Then I wanted her to back up between the islands and steer the truck around the driver’s side island and then stop. So she had to keep the truck’s path straight and then make a relatively sharp reverse turn around the island.

“So…you want me to backup between the islands and then turn so the one island stays on my side.”

“Yes. All without hitting the garbage can outside your window or bumping the curb.”

She puts the truck in reverse, turns around to watch where she’s going and eases off the brake. Her first attempt resulted in a truck path very similar to the path of a lightning bolt. She had to pull forward and try and correct herself a few times. I really provided almost no help here as she figured it out on her own before finally executing the turn around the island. Never really were in danger of bumping the garbage which I was watching like a fat kid eyes donuts. A couple more attempts and we were approaching what could be confidently describing as “driving in reverse.” Or what Brett Favre did in his second year with the Vikings.

Since we hadn’t really done anything except maneuvering the vehicle, I thought we might try something different.

“Drive down the end of the lot, turn the truck around and stop.”

“Why?”

“I want you to have some room to get the truck above 30 so you can feel what its like.”

“Cool. Let’s do it.”

She hits about 32 and starts giggling about how fast she going. Which is what I assume the President does when his approval rating stays above 40.

“You realize you only going 30 right?”

“Yeah, but I don’t care. I’m driving.”

We finished with some parking lessons before testing her winter driving instincts.

“Drive over there into that snowy part of the lot and turn left around that island with the tree…but don’t use the brakes.”

“Why?”

“Because I want you to see what happens when you’re going too fast around a turn.”

“Is it bad?”

“Not in this parking lot but it will be somewhere else.”

Rye takes the turn and start sliding toward a rather substantial snowplow created snowbank. It was fun. And she didn’t panic at all. She intuitively turned into the skid and regained control.

Then, since we were now facing a pile of snow, albeit much smaller than the one we almost slid into, I suggested we drive through it.

“Wait, what?”

“Drive over that snow pile. So you know what it feels like. Plus it’s gonna be awesome.”

And it was. In my mind, we hit it like Jerry Reed hit the barricade of police cars at the end of Smokey and the Bandit as he’s barreling into the Southern Classic. Probably a bit less dramatic in real life. Second lesson is probably this weekend. Snow is melting through…

Generational Differences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8th Grade Open House

I like history. I’m a self-confessed history dork. It annoys me when people treat history as if it is irrelevant because its already happened. Like it doesn’t matter because its happened in the past. It is impossible to comprehend what is happening now without an understanding of reasons and causes. That’s what history is – reasons and causes and a whole crap load of small decisions leading to events. To paraphrase Strengthsfinder, I understand the present by researching the past. Nothing is happening for the first time. It’s all happened before. The answers are in the past.

For example if you want an understanding of the cultural and social “feeling” of certain periods of recent history, go spend some time on youtube. Watch the second half of the 1974 AFC Championship between the Steelers and Raiders. One of the commercials you’ll see is an ad by Amoco taking great pride in their investment into new sources of domestic oil production to make us less dependent on foreign sources. Sound familiar? Yeah, nothing is happening for the first time.

Or as your 8th grader starts school go to the Juinor High Open House. I did this. Rye made gave me a map of the school, wrote “1” on her first period classroom, “2” on the second period room and so on. Parents literally walked the hall and visited the classrooms of their children. We spent about 10 minutes in each class listening to and visiting with the teachers. I was anxious to go. I missed it last year. Like I’ve written before, I liked 8th grade. So I was really interested to see how Rye’s 8th grade day proceeded.

Here’s my schedule:
Team Meeting in the Auditorium. This is really like homeroom. All the teachers we see during our tour were there and gave us a preview of the Open House and while also giving the hard sell on all of our fundraising “opportunities.” Riiiiiiight…

1st Period Room 2105 Spanish
First things first. This was literally the first time I’d walked the halls of a school between classes since the final days of May 1988 during my senior year of high school.

Went from the Auditorium to the second floor and walked confidently into Spanish class, found a seat and looked at the papers that were already on my desk. It was in Spanish. Panic ensured. It got worse when the teacher explained she was fluent in Spanish, French and German and not only was certified to teach each language but was also certified in Math. Yeah, I thought that was weird too.

Anyway, back to my panic. Not kidding about it, my heart dropped. Felt exactly like that feeling you faced you had a pop quiz and were unprepared or your teacher handed out the test and you realized after seeing the first few questions that you studied the wrong stuff. I looked at the sheet of paper and thought, “oh sh*t, I don’t know any of this crap. I’m hosed.” Seriously. For the ten minutes I was in there all I did was watch the clock and diagram an exit strategy so when the bell rang I could escape the room as expeditiously as my genetics would allow me.

Bell rang and I was like a vapor trail. A ghost. I was like Nightcrawler in the X-Men. All you smelled was the faint whiff of burning brimstone. Oh and the bell didn’t actually ring. It played music. Pretty sure it was Kidz Bop versions of popular songs. Whatever.

2nd Period Room 1314 Math
Math was never my strongest subject. Plus Rye had just brought home a math class compact that she had signed and needed us to sign to show our commitment to learning and the rules of the class. One of the rules of the class was “Not to speak ill of the Huskers.” Right, those Huskers. The Nebraska Cornhuskers. Naturally, I objected to signing. Rye initially thought I was joking. She realized the seriousness of her error when I starting writing a short note on the sheet describing why I was unable to agree to anything the prevented me from speaking ill of the Huskers.

Eventually, I relented and the signed the damn thing but it felt wrong. Once in class the teacher explained how the classroom worked, her rules and expectations along with her background. She went to Creighton which explained why she was a Husker fan. Typical. She also let us know that in addition to a degree in math, she also had a degree in English which kind of explained why it had an atypical touchy-feely groove going on in the math room. But my panic did subside.

3rd Period Gymnasium P.E.
The PE teachers stressed two things. First, make sure your kids bring home their gym uniforms. If you don’t the uniforms will begin to stink before eventually developing small ecosystems of tiny organisms which have in the past resulted in the uniforms themselves turning into the The Thing from the 1982 movie of the same name. Second, the two teachers have taught at this particular junior high for the last 27 years. If you also suffer from a math disorder, that means they’ve been here since the second term of the Reagan administration. But I liked that they keep exposing the kids to all kinds of sports, explaining the rules and strategies and testing them on it. Everyone needs to understand the basic responsibilities of the man playing the bottom of the 1-3-1 zone defense in basketball.

4th Period Room 2107 Social Studies
CC mapHallelujah. Not only my favorite subject but my best. I excelled in Social Studies way back in third grade. And I don’t mean in the “hey he shows an aptitude for this subject” kind of way. I mean in the “1984 Dan Marino 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns in his second year in the league” kind of way. What? It’s not bragging if its true. Anyway, the teacher is also a self-described history dork. He’s doubles as the high school baseball coach while also coaching the 8th grade football team. I kinda liked this guy. The class is doing a unit on Native Americans and was debating whether or not Christopher Columbus deserved to have the various monuments erected in his honor. After all, he took land that wasn’t his and then, reportedly, took the natives of the aforementioned land back to Spain as slaves. Yet he has monuments. Not a bad debate to have even if I’d rather they focus on what actually happened, why it happened the way it did and some of the results of said happenings. But that’s just me.

5th Period Room 1106 Science
I have literally gone up and down the same flight of stairs four times. A quick reference check of map reveals that two more trips remain. Booooo. And this flight of stairs is located in the northwest corner of the building. A corner that was not designed with traffic flow in mind. If you have an impairment when it comes to crowd navigation, then my guess is that you are repeatedly late for class. As luck would have it, crowd navigation is a skill in which I outperform most other parents. But it did bring to mind who exactly Rye was passing the halls on a daily basis. Note to self on which boys remain on the “persons of interest” list.

I kinda liked the science teacher. She’s been teaching since 1977 in both high school and junior high. She likes a lot things about teaching today but misses the late 70’s when you still were allowed to blow stuff up. As the President’s mentor Bill Ayers can attest. Allegedly. But that’s a different discussion. Regardless, she said she preferred the 8th graders over the high schoolers. Mostly because they still say “thank you” and possess the need to please. Unlike the high schoolers who are, well…dicks. I’m paraphrasing of course. But I took the discussion, more or less, as her saying the 8th graders, while not perfect by any means, were still in pre-dickish behavior while high schoolers had completed devolved into diskish/dick-move behavior. Anyway, FYI in case you were wondering.

6th Period Room 2103 English
Back up the stairs. I was not a fan of English class in grade school or high school. This is something I now regret. I should have been more invested. But when it came to the literature I was assigned to read, I was just not interested. But Rye’s teacher seemed super excited about being an English teacher. Which is good because Rye’s demographic, well, sucks when it comes to the English language. So enthusiasm might be the only avenue to get them to pay attention. Rye said she thinks her English teacher is pretty cool too so that’s good. Right now they are supposed to be recording their reading progress in daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly logs. I like accountability. Especially when its English class and my kids instead of English class and me. They are reading The Outsiders. Which, as you undoubtedly know, was turned into a 1983 movie starring Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe and Diane Lane. Kinda makes you wonder what the hell Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson and Judd Nelson were doing at the time instead of being in the movie. Need to ask Rye what she thinks of the book and then rent her the movie.

7th Period Room 1204 Communications & Media
I liked this class. The teacher has worked in TV, magazines, radio and even the movies. She also teaches drama, which Rye has 2nd semester 7th period, and is in charge of the school play. Two things I thought were kinda cool: the class puts on their own live radio drama like back in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s and she spends time with them on how corporate American convinces you to buy their products through advertising. She plans on spending a lot of time on advertising. I, for one, liked this. Because nobody buys junk likes teens. They’re like junk buying savants.

That’s it. 7 periods. After last period, the teacher asked me “who I belong to” and when I told her Rye was mine, she said, “Of course, you look just like her! She’s the cutest!” Which I took as a compliment regardless of its intent.

But the whole experience reminded me of high school and the class switching and trips to your locker and all of that, well, crap. I don’t miss it all. Not even a little. There is absolutely nothing that happened during the Open House that caused me to say or think “Oh man, this is cool, I miss this.” And I’m a ridiculously nostalgic guy. But mostly I think I am just grateful that I don’t have to do it anymore. So I’m not real sure what to make of my reaction. I’m happy I went. I’m happy I met the teachers, I’m happy I was able to walk the route Rye walks everyday. But more than anything, I’m happy its over. Because sometimes, nostalgia is just uncomfortable.