Well Played 47, Well Played…

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

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

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

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

2-Taco Hangover puts a laxative in its tacos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, okay.”

“Any alcohol in the house?”

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

“Any firearms in the house?”

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

“Nope, no firearms.”

“Any explosives in the house?”

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

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

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

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

So well played 47, well played…

An Awesome Time Machine

Time travel is cool.  And thanks to the magic of Youtube it is possible.

I can’t be the only person who has sat down and watch an episode or two of Magnum, P.I. and Riptide on Youtube.  I mean c’mon, Nick and Cody lived on a freaking boat in L.A.! Nor can I be the only one who has watched the Monday Night Football game from October 20, 1980 between the Raiders and the Steelers when we all realized the dynasty was over.  And there’s no way I’m alone watching old MTV videos.  Now, don’t get me wrong, if given the choice I’m watching old NFL Films highlights all day.  And maybe a couple of the Riptide episodes when the all-female crew of the Barefoot Contessa were featured.  But if you really want to go back in time, go watch the videos.

Like this doesn’t take you right back to the May of ’83?

How about May of ’85?

May of ’87?

But here’s the thing, it is still just a video.  You’re not there.  Granted, you’re experiencing nostalgia at awesome levels.  Actual time travel, while elusive, is possible.  You can get there.

Again, if you went to high school or college with me in the 80’s and early 90’s, this might make some sense…especially after watching that Poison video.  Mom and I went to Def Leppard, Poison and Tesla a few weeks ago.  Five years ago we went to a similar version of this concert when we saw Def Leppard, Poison and Lita Ford.  The common factor – I mean besides the fact that Phil Collen is like 57 years old and still doesn’t wear a damn shirt – is going to these concerts is like experiencing an awesome time machine.  Its like you’re in one big giant DeLorean.  I love going.  Because just for a few hours, you’re back! Which, at our ages, is really all we can handle at this point anyway.

You get into the arena and you immediately do two things that you didn’t do in high school or your first couple years of college.  You go buy a couple of these:

Defleppardbeers

That’s $18 worth of Miller Lite right there.  You need a salary and health insurance to afford these.  You don’t have that in high school or college.

Then you buy a $36 concert t-shirt because its freaking worth it. Here’s mine:

deflepconcertt

After you get your second 25 oz Miller Lite you head to your seats.  The first beer is a walking beer.  Meaning its the beer you drink while walking to get your sweet new concert tee.  Once in your seats I always take a look around at the folks sitting in my immediate area.  I like to know who will be rocking it old school with me, flashing the horns and belting out every single freaking lyric.  Who are my co-pilots on this awesome journey back to the late 80’s and early 90’s?  Also its good to get a feel for those who won’t be doing that so you have an idea who you are going to be annoying for next 3 hours or so.

Tesla is first.  I wanted to hear 4 songs – Getting Better, Little Suzi, Signs and What You Give.  Ending up hitting .500 as they left the stage without singing Getting Better and What You Give.  And I gotta be honest, it felt a little empty without hearing Getting Better. But…Little Suzi, well she’s on the up.  It was awesome.  And the only person who probably liked it better than me was the woman in the row below us and off to the right who was absolutely rocking.  She was belting out those lyrics so loud she was shaming the rest of us.  We became immediate friends.

When they hit the first few chords of Signs there was an impressive roar from the Gen X dominated crowd.  And we clearly – CLEARLY – preferred the unedited version as we sang, “So I made up my f*#&ing sign!”

Poison was next.  And Bret Michaels obviously understands who his audience is.  No messing around with their new stuff.  Listen, it was a good thing they can dial it back a bit with Every Rose Has Its Thorn and Something to Believe In because I probably would have needed to take a knee just to regroup.  Ride the Wind, Fallen Angel and then Nothing But A Good Time…I was exhausted.  I mean that’s A LOT of air guitar.  My fingers were cramping up.  Plus Nothing But A Good Time is synonymous with the summer of ’88…along with my sweet ’81 diesel Volkswagen Rabbit, Stroh Light and the Lakers going back to back.

Then Def Leppard.

DefLeppardSugarDef Leppard dominated my senior year of high school. Dominated.  Like Markie Post’s hotness dominated the set of Night Court.  Sure Micheal Jackson got in there with Man in the Mirror and David Lee Roth kicked our asses with Just Like Paradise and Arnold Schwarzenegger was in every freaking movie. Anybody else think they should remake The Running Man?  No?  Just me then. Anyway, point being Def Leppard was awesome in the ’87-’88 school year and they are still awesome. Armaggedon It is a like flamethrower showering us with late 80’s nostalgia.  Plus it melts your face off. Pour Some Sugar On Me hits you like city bus filled with all your high school memories.  Like the time my buddy Pete almost blew his finger off in the front seat of my car as he lit a bottle rocket that recorded a total travel distance of his side of the dashboard to mine and then exploded. Or The Longest Day (Feb. 27, 1988) when my buddies and I, allegedly, used fake IDs to load up at EJ’s Liquors to keep us hydrated throughout an entire Saturday.

It all hits you.  You feel it.  And for a few fleeting instances, you’re there.  You’re really there. And then you realize you’ve spent $54 dollars on a six pack of 25 oz Miller Lites and you have to be up early to make sure your 7th grader has a ride to school.

But it was still awesome…

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.

 

You’ve Got To Learn To Be The Ball

Being a parent presents you with some interesting dilemma’s.  Do you buy your kid a car when they turn 16?  They’ve obviously done nothing to deserve it.  But it will also simplify your life significantly if they can drive themselves to school and pick up your other two kids from school, practices and activities.  Do you, through steady but almost undetectable daily pressure indoctrinate your kid into being an Iowa State fan even though their Mom went to Iowa? Naturally some are more important than others but almost all can be approached with some wisdom from 80’s movies.  Don’t leave your wingman, never get involved in a land war in Asia, screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.  But if parenting and the 80’s have taught me anything, its you’ve got to learn to be the ball.

For example most parents preach good decision-making to their kids so they are armed with enough sound judgement that can make tough decisions in the course of their day.  So…parental dilemmas, be the ball, good decision-making…

A couple Friday afternoons ago, I’m driving home from work listening to Lita Ford’s underappreciated early 90’s hit “Shot of Poison.”  If you’re wondering what 1991 sounded like wait till the 2:13 mark of the song and that’s exactly what it sounded like.  1991 was the year I turned 21.  So the song reminds of beers…and Friday afternoons…and beers on a Friday afternoon.

Which led me to think about my old neighbors.  A thought which they’ll appreciate.  One of them is a huge Duke basketball fan and Duke tipped at 6:20.  But it was only about 4:30.  Hmm…

A quick phone call, a quick stop at the gas station with the walk-in beer cooler and I’m sitting in my neighbor’s garage just as the SMU-USC game ends.  We have a few beers, talk college basketball and…have a few beers.  This is literally my favorite thing to do.  That isn’t hyperbole or a superfluous use of the word “literally.”  It combines several things which I – and you if your’re being honest with yourself – enjoy.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them all independently.  I do.  But I really enjoy them all together.  Kinda like nachos.  Chips, cheese, meat, salsa, etc.  All good on their own but really good together.  Let me further explain.  I like beers.  So I stopped and picked up a six-pack of Miller Lite tallboys even though I was fully aware that my old neighbors had close to a full case of Miller Lite in their fridge…mostly for me when I drop by unexpectedly.  And probably when I do it expectedly.  Regardless, the Miller Lite is for me.  In addition to beers, I like Friday afternoon right after work.  It’s my favorite time of the week.  The whole weekend is ahead of you and it’s the only time I totally and completely feel free to unplug from the my responsibilities as an adult.  In addition to beers and Friday afternoon after work, I love that first weekend of the NCAA tournament.  32 games (of which I picked 30 correctly this year) and games nearly around the clock.  In addition to beers, Friday afternoon after work and the first weekend of the NCAA tourney, I like hanging with my old neighbors in their garage.  We named it the DT – short for Downing Tap – a few years ago.  Best neighbor bar I’ve ever been too.  Plenty parking, the bathroom is clean, Miller Lites are cold, there’s a TV in the garage and if you forget to bring your own chair they almost always have an extra.  Plus, if you’re lucky, you show up on a day they’re serving food.  This particular Friday was such a day.

Let’s review – beers, Friday afternoon after work, first weekend of the NCAA tourney, the DT.  Naturally I stayed until about 10:30.

What?  All I did was essentially FAC.  It was okay in college and its okay now.  But here’s the cool thing.  Mom took all the girls down to Kansas City on Thursday morning.  It was like my own mini-version of the National Day Without Women.  Or whatever that was supposed to be.  I can’t keep track of all the awareness outragery that I’m supposed to care about.  Here’s the thing, Mom said they get home about 7:00 Friday evening.  I’m no math wiz but I figured they’d home in plenty of time in case I needed somebody to come pick me up.

Which I of course did.  Anything would have been surprise.  I texted Mom and told her I needed a ride home at some point and she might want to send Rye and Kinz over to pick me up.  Rye’s had her license for over a year and Kinz has her learner’s permit.  And I needed somebody to drive my truck home.  So Rye drops off Kinz, I give her the keys and she drives us both home.

Now depending on your level of judgmental smuggery and/or condescending moral superiority, you’re assessing my fitness as a parent.  While some of you, if you subscribe to the same child-raising handbook as me, are smiling and nodding to yourself thinking, “yeah, that’s just smart parenting.”

How is that those of you in living the land of Smuggington contemptuously ask.  Simple.

You’ve got to learn to be the ball.  I combined beers, Friday afternoon after work, the first weekend of the NCAA tourney and the DT into a real life lesson on what to do after you’ve had one (four) beer(s) too many.  You know what that makes me?  The best Dad on the planet.

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.

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…

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.

Show Teeth Part 4: Liquid Diet

When your dentist tells you that you’re on a liquid diet for the next two weeks what is your reaction?

If you’re like me it was, “Woo hoo! Every beer’s a sandwich!”

No seriously, what’s your reaction? A liquid diet severely limits the available intake. The twist is that in order to take the painkillers you can’t have an empty stomach. So you have to ingest something. Unless you enjoy pain radiating from your gums. I’ve never been on a liquid diet before. Well, not counting Friday afternoons in college. Doesn’t anybody else miss FACing? Regardless, anything that requires you to use your front teeth to bite, tear or even hold a piece of food in place is off the menu. Because, in case you forgot, you’re two front teeth are as useless as an ethics seminar for Hillary Clinton. They’re show teeth, not work teeth. And while the magic dental cement is holding your teeth in place, it’s rather painful if anything touches them – literally anything – your other teeth, your tongue, air.

My initial reaction was just a matter of fact, “well if that’s what the deal is, I’ll figure it out.” My subsequent reaction was “Crap, he really said liquid diet for two weeks.” So we stopped at the grocery store before heading home from the dentist. We made a short list that essentially was “stuff that I could put in a blender.” But the thing I didn’t really think about was walking through the grocery store around 9:30 on a Thursday night looking like John McClane after that night in the Nakatomi Building might be somewhat disconcerting for other grocery store patrons. Unless it’s Halloween, nobody really expects to see a guy with blood spatter all over his face and shirt in the grocery store. Well, unless its a random drunk millennial couple who took a selfie while picking out some organic frozen pizza on the way home from the bar and was deservedly punched in the face. That wouldn’t shake me or any other Gen Xer at all. Probably get a few head nods and an “about freaking time” comment. But nobody expected to see a 45 year-old dude with a top lip the size of a zeppelin with stitches poking out of it walking around the grocery store with bananas, blueberries, raspberries, protein powder and milk. What? Smoothies man, smoothies. You can’t put nachos in the blender.

So after my weird shower where I couldn’t feel the water hitting my face, I took the painkillers and drank the smoothie. Didn’t sleep much. I was afraid to close my mouth. Or move my tongue. I was jarred awake at one point after I presumably, albeit unconsciously, introduced my replanted teeth to my permanent teeth on the bottom row. Mom had set the alarm for exactly 8 hours after I took the initial dose of painkillers so I could take the next dose and avoid “chasing the pain.” So I had another smoothie. Then I had the stark realization that until I ceased looking like Marko the Albanian crimelord after Liam Neeson beat the crap out of him in Taken, I was going to be drinking smoothies and nothing else. Two things here. First, it wasn’t like drinking the smoothies was easy. I had to tip my head back and pour the smoothie into my mouth without any of it touching my front teeth. Not as simple as it sounds. I’m serious. Go do it right now. Tough isn’t it? Second, you quickly get to the point that you decide that being hungry is preferable to consuming anything. It was such a freaking production, and not to mention still painful, that it was easier to determine how much I actually needed to consume in order to the take the painkillers. Turns out not much.

Saturday morning, and I assume this was because she wanted to torture me, Mom went out to Panera and got the girls some breakfast. The only item that wasn’t fully consumed was a cinnamon roll. Yes, cinnamon rolls are kinda soft. And yes, I did put some thought into mixing it with milk in the blender. But in the end I just decided it wasn’t worth it. But just before taking the girls to the mall, Mom took the time to cut it up into tiny pieces. And I mean tiny. Like Barbie size pieces. Like Barbie and Ken, using Barbie sized plates and forks could each have had one of these tiny pieces on those plates while using those forks and it would have looked like a photo from the 1977 JCPenny Christmas catalog.

So you can guess what happens next. In words of Joel Goodson in Risky Business, “Sometimes you just gotta say, what the f*&#.” Or you throw caution to the wind and eat the cinnamon roll. You kind of chew with your tougue and your molars. Mostly your tongue. Oh, and you never actually close your mouth. Go ahead. Try it. It’s not easy. You eat less but it takes a long time. You smash the tiny pieces of cinnamon roll against you molars. I also tried this with tiny pieces of pineapple and cantaloupe. Tested a couple soups. And then eventually moved on to oatmeal. Lots and lots of oatmeal.

Thankfully I’m about 8 weeks post impact and if I hadn’t told you this story you’d never notice that any of this happened. You might ask why I lost some weight but there’s really no noticeable difference save a small scar on my top lip. A week after it happened the dentist did a double root canal on each tooth. It was pretty uneventful. Two weeks after that she took off the bonding that was the front of the teeth and then about 2 and a-half weeks after that she took the bonding off the back of the teeth. In her words, the ligaments and the gums are healing surprisingly really well. She’s going to write an article about me and submit it to a dental journal. Turns out while I’m 45, my teeth my gums are only 12. Teeth are solid. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a better chance the media recognizes that Bernie Sanders sounds a lot like the totalitarian national socialists of 1930’s Germany than a 60’s era socialist than I take a bite of an apple or even a sandwich. But I’m fine cutting everything into manageable pieces.

So you’re wondering, have I learned anything from this experience. Well, yes. I bought a catcher’s mask and won’t pitch to the girls without it. Also, after people experience something painfully stressful, I completely get why they might be a bit jumpy when it comes to doing it again. Additionally, I might write a quick full-proof weight loss plan based on consuming nothing other than liquids and soft foods cut into tiny pieces. Finally, I believe I’ve found the phrase that best describes this:

“Man, the sh*t you do for your kids.”

Show Teeth Part 3: Replanting

We arrive at the dentist’s office about 10 minutes after leaving the ER. Despite my skepticism, the anesthetic was still working so I felt okay…for a guy who was just smashed in the face with a line drive and had his top lip sewn back together and was holding his front teeth in a container filled with milk. So it’s all relative I guess. Dentist does a quick calculation on the amount of time the teeth have been out of my mouth and says “Well, if they’re intact, we’ll replant them.”

Okay, so two things here. Replanting teeth is exactly what it sounds like. And it turns out I was actually pretty lucky with the result of the impact. I’ll explain.

My now free range and cage free teeth were perfect. No cracks, no chips, no fractures, nothing. The impact of the ball simply ejected them from their original location in my mouth. Also, I had absolutely no damage to any other teeth in my mouth. No cracks, no chips, no fractures, nothing. Plus the two teeth on either side of my front teeth weren’t even loose. They were hanging in there like the ’92 Bills in the divisional round against the Oilers. Gums were enflamed, extremely bloody and sore but the teeth were solid. X-Rays showed that I also had managed to escape without any fractures to the bone below my nose and above my teeth. Nose wasn’t broken either. No concussion. Ball didn’t hit me in the eye, the forehead, the jaw or the ear. My face is evidently constructed much like a Terminator’s…albeit one that, without warning or anesthetic, essentially had it’s front teeth involuntarily removed with near surgical precision by a line drive. By a 13 year-old girl.

So the dentist wanted to replant them so the gums could heal with the teeth in there and then, when they eventually have to put replacement teeth in, everything will be healthy. Or something like that. He also told me that none of this should really work either because I’m 45. Replanting the teeth normally is only possible, and only works, on kids and teenagers. Something about blood flow in the gums. When you’re 45 and you take a line drive to the mouth, in the words of the dentist, “it’s like a grenade went off and there are broken teeth, pieces and fractures everywhere.” I had none of that. Hence the plan to replant. Only problem is the teeth had been out of mouth for a little over an hour. And once you get past an hour, the success rate goes down.

Anyway, replanting requires more needles to the face and to roof of my mouth. Again, unpleasant. But at this point, who really gives a crap? The dentist fishes out the first tooth from the cup of milk and says to Mom, “Do you have a picture of him smiling? I want to put them back in as close to what they were.” And trust me on this, as long as he didn’t put them in backwards, I really didn’t care if they looked like they had previously.

He consults the pic then tips me back in the chair so my head is now the lowest part of my body. After several tries to get the first tooth in it becomes apparent, to me anyway, that the anesthetic from the ER has completely worn off and the stuff administered by the dentist hasn’t kicked in. Since teeth only survive so long out of your mouth, the time crunch meant the anesthetic really didn’t have the requisite time to take effect. So it felt like he was trying to push a nail into my gums. I’m sweating like a fat kid who is last in line at Krispy Kreme and Mom has to literally hold down one my legs down because it started shaking. Turns out, if you have an unpleasantness ranking, this is far more unpleasant than the whole needle in the roof of your mouth thing.

So the dentist says, “I’m going to give you some stronger anesthetic and hopefully it works. But here’s the deal, we gotta get these teeth in so it really comes down to whether or not you can take the pain.”

“Doc, put those fu@#ers back in.”

So he did. They put two cotton balls under my top lip to keep it away from my gums and then they stuck two torture devices in the back of my mouth that literally wedged it open. It’s like two mini car jacks on your molars. It wasn’t enjoyable. But the anesthetic thankfully kicked in and, once the teeth were replanted, he used some kind of magic dental bonding agent and cemented the two replanted teeth together and then to the teeth on either side placing the dental cement on both the front and back of the teeth. The idea being that the teeth need to be held in place while the gums heal and reattach to the teeth. And remember how I told you that my head was the lowest part of my body? Yeah, so all that anesthetic kind of pooled in the middle of my face. I couldn’t feel my nose, my eyes, the top of my mouth and most of my eyebrows. Yeah, that felt weird. Ever try to take contacts out when you can’t feel your eye balls?

Mom drove me back to my truck, I smirked at the bloody hand prints, and drove home. She stopped at the 24 hour pharmacy, and I waited at home. And listen, I was like Bigfoot going after wayward hikers when she got home with the painkillers. I still couldn’t feel my nose or eyes but it was starting to wear off in my gums. Took the painkillers, took a shower and tried to calm down. And I really started to think about how the hell I was going to eat anything…