Chargers

No, not the team quarterbacked by Philip Rivers.  Not that I’m adverse to discussing them, it’s just that unless we’re talking about the Chargers of Dan Fouts and Air Coryell then I’m not really interested.

What I’m talking about is phone chargers.  Adapters.  Cords.  The lifeblood of your mobile electronic device.  Is this specific case, iphones.  Now I don’t own an iphone.  I own a phone that uses android technology.  Not that I have a preference, it’s just that I’ve always had an android and I don’t want to learn how to use an iphone.  And please read the next part very carefully…I DON’T CARE HOW EASY YOU SAY IT IS.  AT ALL.  I also don’t care how much you talk about how all your devices are integrated and can talk to each other and make plans and take each other out to dinner.  Two words: Sky. Net.  Your annoying insistence on talking about your affinity for your iphone and all its integrated devices is only topped by millennials’ annoying insistence that everything they say and do is morally superior to literally everything anybody else has ever done in the history of -and let me phrase this right- ever.

I mean you have a phone that millions of other people have.  You’re not special.  Plus Apple Jedi-mind tricks you into buying a new version of the same damn phone every other year while also fooling you into buying a a freaking watch that does the same crap your phone already does.  Then forces you to spend time in the most Godforsaken place on earth…the i store.  So good job morons.  So while I understand that, much like progressives, you believe the only reason I don’t do what you do is because I’m an ignorant, backwoods a-hole.  I’m not.  I just don’t care about what you care about.  And yes, I do realize that won’t stop your never-ending sermonizing regarding how you’re making a impact while achieving a healthy work/life balance while influencing the values of your organization while you’re just being you in you’re own unique way.  Blah, blah, blah.

That being said, against my free will I’ve been forced to care about iphones.  There are 4 of them on our plan.  Mom has one and the girls each have one.  So, much like corporate business incentives, MSNBC and liberal bias in public education, I’m forced to pay for something I don’t use, want or need.

So I went to Wal-Mart.  And I’m not a big Wal-Mart guy.  But Wal-Mart electronics section is pretty bad ass.  I found four chargers, each a different color, and gave them to each of the iphone users in my house.  I did this for one very specific reason.

To make them all be quiet.  When it comes to iphone chargers, I assume the budget shutdown discussions between President Trump and Speaker Pelosi are similar to the ones amongst Mom and the girls.  There’s yelling, sarcasm, condescension and an astonishing amount of blame.  Then that is quickly followed by a helluva lot of shoulder shrugging and a complete and total inability to look for the simplest solution on their own.  I mean, it’s a phone charger.  Maybe look around your damn room, in your damn car.  Or how about in your damn backpack.  You’re not looking for Jimmy Freaking Hoffa. It’s a charger, not Flight 19.  I mean next to the actual iphone, the charger is the most important possession they have.  You’d think they would treat it the way Texans treat the 2nd Amendment.  Instead they treat it the way Jim Acosta treats his credibility.

So for the last few weeks we’ve had this uneasy detente.  I’m skeptical of its duration.  So I’m planning more trips to Wal-Mart…

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So I Had This Dream…

miamivicecrockettYou know how you have a dream that is so awesome, so compelling, that you simply enjoy the dream as if you’re watching a great movie?  You might even realize at some point that you’re really asleep and what you’re experiencing is only a dream.  But you don’t care because the dream is so gripping that you can’t look away.  Like the Miami Vice episode when Crockett gets shot by that Columbian drug lord’s girlfriend while Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight is playing during.  But then the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the one thing you don’t want to happen actually happens.  You wake up before the dream is over or at least has reached a point that you’re satisfied with the outcome.

That happened to me right before Christmas.  Granted the dream was powered by Miller Lite and tacos but it was still awesome.  I got up the next morning and immediately wrote it down because I didn’t want to forget any details.

So Mom and I are at a Peter Gabriel concert.  Don’t really have a historical context for the point in which this concert was taking place during Peter Gabriel’s career but I’m comfortable saying it was during his  greatest hits phase.  We’re sitting in the back row on the end of the aisle.  The seats are arranged in a half circle.  We were super pumped about being there which is kinda weird because I’m not really a big Peter Gabriel guy.  Never have been.  There’s really only two, maybe three, songs that I like.  But here’s the thing, Peter Gabriel was only sitting one minute versions of his songs.  Who does that?  I distinctly remember it pissing me off because I had hauled my arse to a freaking Peter Gabriel concert and I wasn’t even going to hear the full version of Solsbury Hill.  Which, as we all know, is Peter Gabriel’s best song closely followed by In Your Eyes with Shock the Monkey a distant third.  I realize you could make a persuasive argument for Games Without Frontiers for that 3 spot.  I’m just saying that I’m not going to help you with that argument.

Anyway, I had a spiral notebook at the concert and everybody was stepping on the notebook tearing all the pages off.  The presence of the notebook and the reasons behind its presence remain unclear.  Regardless it was there.  At this point everybody in our row needed to get up and leave the concert or at least the row we were in.  I assumed the short ass concert was over.  So I turned to my left and let everybody leave the row and then I picked up the now loose and torn pages of the trampled notebook .  I was very angry about the notebook being torn up and combined with the unannounced and thoroughly unacceptable plan for Peter Gabriel to only sing one minute versions of his songsStill extremely mad we only got to hear a one minute version of Solsbury Hill.

As we got up to leave our seats we turned to leave but instead of stepping into the aisle we stepped out of the driver’s side back seat of a stretch limo.  Don’t really remember being confused by this occurrence either.  Regardless, we just stepped out of a limo.  And I was barefoot.  Yeah, as we were walking to our car to leave I realized that I was barefoot.  I know, weird.  So I turned back to the limo to get my shoes out of the back seat.  The shoes were my brown Birkenstock clogs.  Don’t laugh, they’re super comfortable.  But as I turned back to get the shoes the limo driver is walking across the street to this shanty looking house and he gives my shoes to the people at the house!

voodoohenchmanAnd these folks were those creepy looking voodoo guys like Yaphet Kotto’s henchmen in Live and Let Die.  So I casually, but in a sternly confident way, walked up to them to get my shoes and – poof – they were gone.  Like voodoo magic.  So I yelled at the limo driver “Yo, Yo, Yo, those are my shoes!”  But the creepy Cajun guys just smiled toothy unsettling smiles and opened the door to the shanty.  There, directly in front of me was a staircase to an upstairs room that looked like your uncle’s den from 1973.  Gold carpet, wood paneling, crappy fold out table for a desk.  The guy at the desk was the big fat black guy with the gravely voice and big glasses from the Kandy Bar in Weird Science.  I climbed the stairs and a quick conversation ensured.  Turns out to get my shoes back I had to agree to buy some homemade alcohol in a super weirdly decorated bottle.  The bottle kinda looked like a homemade maple syrup jug.

But it was apparent that this was now a bargaining process to get my shoes back.  Unbeknownst to the guy from Weird Science, I had this giant crumpled up wad of cash in my pocket.  But, like any good negotiator, I didn’t want to take the money out because then he’d know how much money I had and the price of getting my shoes back would undoubtedly go up.

So I offered $30.

gravelyvoicedguyweirdscienceFor some reason I knew the price was $50 so I tried to lowball him.  He said “higher.”  So I said $40 and he just laughed and walked away.  That’s when two of my nieces, Mom and one of Mom’s sisters started walking up the stairs at various intervals.  And their hair was wet because they had all taken showers.  And I thought, “Wow these creepy weird Cajun voodoo guys are letting everybody take showers after the horrible Peter Gabriel concert, that’s really nice.”  But then Mom walked into the den where I was and asked the big fat black guy from Weird Science if she owed anything else.  I turned to her with the WTF look on my face.  I was naturally confused because I was negotiating for my shoes which had nothing to do with Mom.  And I was completely and utterly unaware of any previous business dealings between Mom and Weird Science guy.  So I said, “What are you doing?  He wants me to pay for this stupid homemade moonshine to get my birks back.”  But then the guy says to Mom, “No we’re square. $58 dollars.”  So I was super mad now because how is this guy doing business with Mom and I had no idea.  And what the hell cost $58?

Even weirder was everybody from Mom’s side of the family was there and waiting outside the shanty.  I mean everybody except the few that were lucky enough to score shanty showers.  Anyway, they all wanted to leave the absurdly short Peter Gabriel concert so I was feeling a lot of pressure to get the moonshine for shoes deal done. So now the Weird Science guy knows that I didn’t know Mom had some side deal going and that I’m under pressure to wrap it up.  Both of which undermine my credibility!  Then I notice this one guy from work is also there.  He was wearing a red and black track suit and was also wearing his blublockers.  He’s also getting irritated with me to get this thing done because he had to ref a soccer game at 1:00 and it took two hours to drive home from where we were.  And, he was tapping his watch telling me it was exactly 11:06.

Which made me even angrier because now I’m losing even more leverage in the deal making process.  Which, of course, means the price to get my sweet Birkenstock clogs back is not going to go down.   So I offered $50 and said you win.  But he said that was the old price, the new price is higher now.  So now I’m moving from feeling pressure to being just plain angry.  So angry that I start doing what Denzel Washington was doing in The Equalizer when he checks his watch to time himself on how long it takes to kill all the guys in the room.  Evidently that got me so angry, I woke myself up.

So I did what everybody would have done.  I frantically tried to go back to sleep to find out if I ever got my shoes back and how much damage I caused in the process.  Didn’t work though.  Instead I woke up Mom to tell her that if she’s going to negotiate side deals with big fat gravely-voiced dudes from Weird Science then I’m going to need a heads up.

Things are getting better…

We have a busy December. But, in America, that’s just how we roll.  We have family coming to house the next two weekends.  Then right after Christmas, we’d headed to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl.  This weekend the 16 year-old volunteered to host the secret Santa party for the softball program at the girls’ high school.  So about 30 girls showed up about 10:30 in the a.m. on Sunday and stuck around for about 90 minutes.  At first I was a little apprehensive about the whole thing.  But who can blame me?  I am a seasoned veteran when it comes to trials and tribulations of the aforementioned teenage girls.  I already have had YEARS of teenage girls living in my house.  Why the hell would I purposely invite an extra 30 girls between 14 and 18 into my house?  No, seriously, why would I do that? 

But I gave my approval.  Mostly because I’m a seasoned veteran and know which battles to pick.  Piece of advice for all you Dads of little girls out there.  Anyway, even though I knew it was a good long-term decision, it still had me pondering what in the name of the Burl Ives was I thinking.  Turns out it was mostly cool.  They organized it all themselves and helped clean up afterwards.  In fact, the food they brought over was awesome.  Breakfast pizza, egg casseroles, donuts, cookies, bagels, muffins and chocolate milk.

Plus I had to drive up to Ames and pick the 19 year-old.  So I flipped on the radio to the station that plays the old top 40s.  Today was this week in 1987.  So yeah, I was singing my ass off.  Top 5 songs for the week ending Dec. 12 1987:

5- Is This Love – Whitesnake

4- (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

3- Should’ve Known Better – Richard Marx

2- Heaven Is A Place On Earth – Belinda Carlisle

1- Faith – George Michael

So let’s break this morning down.  First, my house was invaded by teenage girls.  This is a normal occurrence.  So I was relatively unfazed.  Like John McClane when he finds Hans checking the explosives in the Nakatomi Building.  He knows it’s Hans.  But Hans doesn’t know he knows.  So John is unfazed.  He’s not relaxed, his cop senses are on high alert.  But he’s unfazed.  That’s how I felt.  Because these invasions are normally conducted by small raiding parties of less than 5 girls.  Sometimes they only come in pairs and I don’t even notice they are in the house except for the extra shoes by the front door.  Today it was a platoon of softball girls.  But I wasn’t there for most of it.  And, instead of bringing drama, they brought delicious breakfast foods.  Unfazed.  Also a tad bit hungry.

Second, on my way up to pick up our oldest at college, I enjoyed the best music from the Christmas season in 1987.  Notably absent from the top 40 were two songs I distinctly remember from playing an outsized role in the soundtrack to the fall of my senior year in high school.  Those two songs?  Casanova by LeVert and Say You Will by Foreigner.  Man, that LeVert song, now that I listen to it again, is…still freaking awesome.  It might even be better.  Im-freaking-possible not bust out your best dance moves.  Better than I remember.  Say You Will still rocks too but it just didn’t have the same surprise impact that LeVert did.  But go back and look at that top 5.  Not sure you can make a credible case that you’re referencing an actual top 40 list from the late 80’s unless Richard Marx and his power mullet are on the list.  Okay, quick, you have to listen to a Richard Marx song…what is it?  Should’ve Know Better?  Satisfied?  Endless Summer Nights?  Not easy is it?  Because nobody is going to pick any of those songs.  Unless you’re drunk and playing name that tune with your friends as you search for somewhat memorable Richard Marx songs from the 80’s.  Also go play Heaven Is A Place On Earth and don’t sing along.  

Can’t do it can you?  It can’t be done.  There is something physiological that happens.  Some kind of chemical that is released in the human brain when you hear Belinda Carlisle.  Involuntary response to said stimuli is to sing your ass off.  

So I know it sucks that wokeness police are trying to kill Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  And I know they killed any chance you were going to watch the Oscars by sacking Kevin Hart.  And now you have to worry about anything you said when you were 14 years old because the USA Today is going to dig it up and turn it over to the woke Stasi.  But I ended up with free egg casserole and sweet tunes from December of ’87.  So that’s a win dudes.

Like Clockwork…

Every year about this time CBS airs “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”  This year marked the 54th airing.  I have, more or less, watched it each year 1976ish.  But in the last few years with radical progressive outragery selecting every target it can, Rudolph has unwittingly wandered a little too far outside the boundaries of Christmastown.  And now, the airing of this childhood classic has become as much of a Christmas tradition as the grievances about the dizzying array of so-called problematic behavior exhibited by make believe claymation characters.  Which is interesting in and of itself.  I mean the left’s need to control speech and thought is so great it extends into worlds that don’t actually exist.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER

Anyway, some of the common outrages displayed by the social justice warriors are the following:

It is really a story about bullying.  Yeah, part of it is.  And it’s also a story about overcoming that crap and sticking it to the jerks who bullied you.  Which, and again I’m just spitballin’ here, but kicking a bully’s ass is pretty damn American.  Although being pretty damn American is also problematic behavior according to some of the leftists.  Anyway, Rudolph is bullied – mildly – by the other reindeer boys and by his coach at reindeer practice.  It’s verbal not physical and Rudolph does stand up for himself.  So far this is a good message.  But the whole scene really just shows two things:

1) the other boys are immature jerks, which if you remember grade school, is kinda what most kids act like from time to time,

2) The coach is a bad coach.  I mean Rudolph literally just showed how far ahead of the other boys he was in flight skills.

And, yes, I agree if you are a youth coach and you’re bullying the kids on your team, then you’re a douchebag.  But I don’t know what kind of internal politics go on at the North Pole.  Who picks the coach?  Is it Santa?  Is it the parents?  Maybe the coach throws kick-ass New Year’s Eve parties and the only way to get an invite to vote for him to be coach.  We just don’t know the dynamics.  Bottom line is Rudolph says “screw you guys” and then comes back and burns everybody by being better at reindeer stuff than the kids who were mean to him.  Problem solved.  Then you have Hermey.  Hermey is bullied by the other elves because he wants to be a dentist and doesn’t like to make toys.  Well, this pretty much sucks if your an elf.  Because it sure seems like most of the job openings are relating to toy making.  But let’s be fair.  Hermey isn’t doing his job.  Then he quits by sneaking out the window.  That’s not exactly responsible behavior either.  I mean why can’t he study dentistry at night?  Lots of people work jobs they don’t particularly enjoy as a means to an end they do want to achieve.

It is really a story about racism.   All the elves are white.  Sam the narrating snow man is white.  Santa is white.  The snow is white.  Fireball has blond hair.  Which probably makes him a Nazi.  The progressive lynch mob rarely mentions that there are females elves also in the workplace.  Which for the early 60’s shows, well, a progressive workplace I guess.  I mean I wasn’t there at Santa’s workshop so I can’t comment on the HR policies regarding equal pay, inclusivity training and the acceptable methods of twitter shaming people who aren’t woke.

It is really a story about homophobia.  Yeah, so what about that part with Yukon, Hermey and Rudolph all sharing a bed in small cottage on the Island of Misfit Toys?  Nobody seemed to have any issues with their the sexuality in that scene.  They were all cold and tired so they hit the sack.  If anything, Rudolph is kind of a inconsiderate jerk for leaving in the middle of the night without telling his bros.  Then they spend a whole crap ton of time searching for him while fighting the cold and snow and evading the abomidable snow monster of the north.  This isn’t homophobia, this is Rudolph being a crappy friend.

Santa is bigot.  When he’s first introduced to Rudolph, Santa tells the young buck that he hopes his nose takes care of itself if wants to lead the sleigh team someday.  I don’t think this makes Santa a bigot.  It makes him a bad GM.  He may as well be in charge of the Jets’ drafts.  I mean he’s evaluating the wrong criteria.  Now I’m not sure what the measurements are at the Reindeer Draft Combine at the North Pole, but my guess is that sturdiness, strength, and air speed are probably a tad bit more important than nose illumination.  Plus, if he were better at team building, he’d notice that the shiny nose presents a unique skill set.  Rudolph could eventually be the best 3rd down back on the sleigh team.  He’d be the James Brooks of reindeer.  Santa might be good as delivering toys but he sucks at reindeer skill evaluation.

Clarice’s Dad is a bigot.  He sees his daughter chatting up Rudolph and tells her that there’s no way she’s hanging with a dude with a red nose.  Is this bigotry?  Or rampant leftyism?  I think the latter.  If Rudolph’s nose were blue, then you can be damn sure he let Clarice date Rudolph.  If Rudolph were hanging out in a safe space lamenting his reindeer privilege flashing his sparkly blue nose around, then we’d be having an entirely different conversation.

Donner is a sexist, a verbally abusive father and is ashamed of his son’s physical characteristics.  Now, I think Donner gets a little bit of a bad rap.  He obviously loves the little guy and he teaches him vital reindeer skills like how to get food, fight off enemies and how to hide from the abomidable snow monster of the north.  How different is this than when your Dad told you get off your butt and practice if you wanted to getting more minutes on the court?  Telling your kid the truth about the how the world works is good parenting.

None of the social justice stormtroopers ever seem to mention the strong female characters in the show.  Clarice gives absolutely no craps what the other kids – or her Dad for that matter – think about her hanging out with Rudolph.  Rudolph’s Mom completely ignores Donner’s directives about staying home while he goes and finds Rudolph.  In fact, her and Clarice basically tell the dudes in their lives, “listen jagoffs, your plan sucks, so either get out of the way or get on board because we’re taking care of business.”

The Latest Halloween

So with the oldest off at college and the remaining daughters still under our roof but really too old to go trick or treating, Halloween continues to evolve away from us taking the girls door to door to load up on candy.  Which really just means that the girls do stuff with their friends and Mom and I hand out candy.  I’m both happy and sad about this.  I sincerely enjoyed taking them trick or treating.  I also sincerely enjoy not taking them trick or treating.  And since we moved we only get the most the dedicated and determined trick or treaters.  We’ve had 11 in three years.  Which is simply more evidence of the wussification of American youth by well meaning but utterly misguided adults engaged in safetyism…but that’s a rant for another day.

Regardless, our college freshman sent us some pics of her costume at the Halloween party she went to with the other girls in her sorority.  I had suggested that she go as Elizabeth Warren and carry a DNA kit while wearing a big sandwich board that said “1/1024th” but she didn’t think it was as funny as me.  Instead she went as a cowgirl.  Or a country girl.  Or a girl from a rural area.  I don’t know what pretentiously smug politically correct term the liberal illuminati are using.  No offense intended.  All I’m doing there is what used to be called sarcasm.  Anyway, if we’re really being honest, what she really went as was a girl from the suburbs wearing clothing associated with country music fans.

But I mean who is trying to fool?  Country girl?  I know she goes to Iowa State and evidently all of us who went there are backwoods rubes, but she listens to Justin Beiber and Imagine Dragons.  She used to work at a Cupcakery.  I know…LAME.  She’s no country girl.  She’s comes from good ol’ dependable Gen X stock.  And as we all know that means she really should be dressed like this if she has any cultural pride at all.

vixen

 

High School Graduation and it’s Trappings

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

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

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

Have a grad party.

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

But it is a big f*%king deal.

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

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

I got yelled at for this.

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

But that is clearly not the way these things work.

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

But that’s the easy part.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Low Key Bad Ass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Glamorous Life of the 1st Base Coach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2-Hold elbow and ankle protectors.

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

3-Yell loudly using softball slang.

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

“Turn and look”

“TWO!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering Spring Break…

As you know, I kinda have an issue with being steamrolled into allowing – (read PAYING FOR) a senior year spring break trip.  Everybody arrived safely and appear to be having a good time.  Mom sent me some pics of their hotel room.  It is nicer than anything I lived prior to the age of 46.  So I’m a bit concerned our senior might have some outlandish expectations of what her living conditions are going be like in college and her 20’s.  But, then again, I may have contributed to her unrealistic view of the world when I sent her to Mexico.  On spring break.  While she’s still in high school.  Truth be told, I’m a firm believer in setting expectations low so this whole spring break situation has me unnerved.

Anyway, as result of this situation I’ve decided to go back to one of things that makes me the most happy.  No, it isn’t beer.  Although that was a solid first guess.  But listen, beer has been a solid first guess when it comes to me since 1987.  Seriously, how am I not a part of owner of Miller Brewing?  It also is not a full court binge on conference tournament basketball…although I am actually doing that while I write this.  No, I’ve decided to go back to the 80’s.  Again.  Quick aside, I’m psyched to see Ready Player One in a couple weeks.  Totally going to nerd out on 80’s pop culture.

The girls are, in descending order in 12th grade, 10th grade and 8th grade.  Aside from being totally outnumbered by teenage girls who go out of their way to pick fights with each other while also outwardly mocking everything that isn’t important to them, it gives me a frame of reference into spring break.

8th grade – 1984.  Ren McCormack was the coolest, Lionel Ritchie wanted to know if it was him we were looking for and Berlin had No More Words.  I was modeling my coolness after Nick Ryder and Cody Allen.  Riptide was, and remains, a manly source of coolness.  Not ashamed to admit this.  Nick and Cody fought Charlie in Viet Nam, they lived on boat, owned a helicopter and drove a ’60 Corvette with flames on the side.  And in a weird twist of fate, they kinda introduced me to Mom.  Go on youtube and look for Season 1 Episode 4.  Originally aired 1-17-84.  Skip all the way to the end and you’ll see an inconsequential appearance by waitress played by Rosalind Allen (credited as Rosalind Ingeldew).  Despite Mom’s objections, she looks exactly the same.  They’re dopplegangers.  Not kidding.

10th grade – 1986.  I’ve made this argument several times but 1986, as a year, is totally overlooked.  It gave us Top Gun, Ferris Bueller and Running Scared.  Along with the criminally underrated Heartbreak Ridge.  I had a pair of these:reebokclassics

Bought one of these at County Seat: fadeddenim

Despite it marking the end of Riptide, the spring of ’86 asked us if all Mike & the Mechanics needed was a miracle, if Honeymoon Suite was feeling it again and we once again totally understood the social strata based conflicts in Pretty in Pink.  Plus, and this kinda throws a bit of doubt on my consternation regarding the unrealistic expectations developed by our senior, but my Dad took the whole family to Hawaii during spring break of ’86.  My Dad traveled a lot.  And he built up what can only be described a f*ck ton of miles and he got free roundtrip tickets to Hawaii for not only my sisters, me and my Mom but my Grandma too.  Turns out my Grandma always wanted to go to Hawaii and when my Dad had the chance to take her, he did.  He’s a good dude.  Despite my record as a parent, I do in fact have a good example.

12th grade – 1988.  White Lion wanted us to Wait and David Lee Roth thought this was just like Living in Paradise.  I do remember putting away a 12 pack of Meister Brau with a couple buddies.  It probably was because Rick Astley and Billy Ocean both somehow had hits songs over spring break my senior year. But best of all, Man in the Mirror was topping the charts.  And I don’t care what you guys say, this is a great song.  Here’s the thing though, aside from those Meister Braus, I don’t really recall a whole lot from my senior year spring break.  But I’m pretty sure Mom and our senior will.  And that makes me smile.