Lollapalooza

This August Lollapalooza is in Chicago.  Our 18 year-old recent high school graduate would like to go the concert.  So a couple things here:

1-What do you know about Lollapalooza?  Here’s the extent of my knowledge – Its been around for about 20 years and has never had a band that I liked.  Pretty sure it started out as festival for the weird alternative kids.  Now its morphed into a teen infested concert of top 40 acts criticized by by the pretentious music snobs who like to condescend about the musical tastes of the masses.  Or how the liberal coastal elites talk about everyone who is not them.

2-Its in Chicago.  According to the Chicago Police Department the number of murders across the city is up 38% over the last 4 years.  The number of sexual assaults during the same time period is up 57%.  It is one of the most gang infested cities in the nation.  Otherwise, I hear its super safe.

3-Setting a car load of 18 year-old girls loose at a concert where liquor is readily available seems likely to end in the same place as Johnny Manziel’s NFL career.

So she’s not going.  Turns out we scheduled vacation during the same week as the concert.  So it was a just a flat “no” instead of a “no” accompanied by the aforementioned facts.

 

Advertisements

The Glamorous Life of the 1st Base Coach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2-Hold elbow and ankle protectors.

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

3-Yell loudly using softball slang.

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

“Turn and look”

“TWO!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Status Update

So it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything about, well, anything.  And, truth be told, its mostly my fault.  Work sorta kicked my arse through the beginning of May.  An 80 hour work week is exactly as mentally and physically draining as you imagine.  Plus, we’ve had some stuff to get ready for that took up a lot of time and energy and my ability to concentrate for relatively long periods of time took a hit.  Although, that could be related to my rampant consumption of Miller Lite.  We don’t have the data back yet on that question.  Regardless, the fact remains that I’ve failed to update this blog.  My fault.

Anyway here’s a few things that I feel need to be expounded upon now that I have some time.  Translated that means I want to share a few thoughts that you may or may not give two craps about.  But, and I say this with all due respect, I don’t give any craps about your feelings on this.  I’m doing it anyway.  So here goes:

I was asked to help coach a softball team of 15 and 16 year old girls.  But I didn’t play baseball as a kid, so I’m was a little out of my element.  Like asking JR Smith to know the score at the of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.  But I do have three teenage daughters so I did have some experience dealing with all of the…stuff that comes along with that.

Our 16 year-old daughter who was on that team termed me a “Low Key Bad Ass” on our trip to Kansas City for a tournament.  I don’t know what that exactly means but I plan on opining about it.

Lollapalooza seems like a really crappy concert to you and me.  And most patriotic Americans.  But it was really important to our high school senior.  However, Mom and I weren’t really as excited about it as she was…so I have some thoughts.

Did you have a Graduation Party when you graduated high school?  I didn’t.  And I didn’t realize it was such a big deal.  This, as you may have suspected, led to some differences of opinion as we hosted a grad party for our senior and one of her best friends.

Graduation itself is a big deal.  It’s also weird to realize you are old enough to have a kid who not only graduated from high school but will be in college in August.  Not gonna lie, it’s a gut check.

Mom’s folks put together a 50th Anniversary Party for themselves back in Mom’s hometown.  So we have to be there.  It’s tonight.  I don’t want to offend anybody but I’m pretty sure it is going to be an old person party.  What?  Facts are stubborn things.  And I don’t really know what old people do at parties.  But my guess is that once I learn, I’ll have some thoughts to share.

Parents and teenage girls haven’t agreed on appropriate attire for decades.  And that happened this morning on the last day of school for our 8th grader.

I have several millennials in my office.  I don’t get a lot of the stuff they seem to be attracted to…but I just turned 48 and spent most of my birthday trashing the reboot the Magnum, P.I.  So I have a different frame of reference.  But one of my millennials did ask me to put together a list of the songs from my era that she needs to become familiar.  So, as you might have suspected, I’m compiling not one, not two, but three distinct lists based on a chronological system of my own design.

Finally, the last few months have marked the end of a lot of stuff that we’ve been doing for the last few years.  Things are changing.  And, as we all know, change is stupid.  So I’ve put together some observations on that.

So get ready…

Small Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Breaking

Evidently a spring break trip senior year is a thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have You Guys Heard About This?

Have you heard about the recent snowflakery from millennials?  I’m not even sure if it is recent or not but it is so awesomely millennial, so emblematic of their hair trigger indignation that I can’t help myself.  I can’t keep from talking about it in a way that will only further enflame their self-righteous certainty which contains absolutely zero contextual understanding of anything other than what they’ve experienced thus far…or seen on social media.  Brace yourselves.

jtpantsFriends is unacceptable.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.  Wait’ll these guys discover Remington Steele.  Or the Sean Connery Bond movies.  Or North and South.  Or The Breakfast Club.  Or the 1980’s…

Friends is the quintessential show from the 90’s about Gen Xers in their 20’s and early 30’s.  I suppose you could make an argument that Square Pegs is more Gen X.  Maybe Herman’s Head.  Or even Seinfeld.  But Friends is definitely no worse than choice 1B in any of those discussions.  Regardless, word on the street is that millennials find it so offensive, or problematic to use their vernacular, it has to be removed from Netflix.  Erased.  As if it never happened.  So fresh off their sudden discovery of rampant sexism in It’s A Wonderful Life, they have trained their crosshairs on Friends?  They evidently enjoy comedies like Ted, The Hangover and Superbad like the rest of us…but they find Friends offensive.

Isn’t this just digital book burning?  Is your belief system so fragile that it can’t withstand  Chandler Bing…or Mrs. Chanadler Bong?  C’mon, man.  What you’re really saying here is that if I don’t agree with the messages I perceive in this book – or in this hilarious show from the 90’s – it should be banned in the name of acceptance and tolerance.  I gotta be honest here that I always – ALWAYS – find millennial snowflakery and their political philosophy of outragery hilarious.

WTF?

So, after some quick – albeit lazy – internet research here are the issues that are offending this fragile demographic with whom I don’t evidently sympathize.

The show makes fun of fat people.  Because Monica used to be Big Fat Goalie and her previous rotundity is a source of mockery on the show.  Her friends make fun of her weight in college and high school.  Fat jokes are bad.  Its fat shaming.  Fatphobia.

The show makes fun of transgender people.  Chandler’s dad is no longer a dude.  He’s Kathleen Turner.  Which is funny because Kathleen Turner was in movies like Body Heat.  But irony isn’t funny to millennials.  So even if Chandler’s dad now has boobs, no joking about it.  Transphobia.

The show makes fun of dudes who are whiny wussbags.  The friends, and most of America if we’re being honest here, make fun of Ross and his proclivities for sensitivity on all of life decisions.  We’re making fun of him because his display of manliness isn’t made of steel and brawn.  And so we’re feeding an outdated standard of masculinity by doing so.  And that’s sorta sexism.  I think.  Not really sure what to call this particular brand of offensiveness but it definitely is unpleasant for millennials.

Joey isn’t funny, he’s creepy.  Joey hits on women.  All the time.  He views women in a demeaning sexual way.  Which means he paved the way for Harvey Weinstein.  So if it wasn’t for Friends and it’s glamorization of male objectification of women, sexism wouldn’t exist.  Nice going Tribbiani.

The show is too white.  White people, if they have a group of friends who are also white people, are inherently racist.  Subconsciously they have avoided making friends with people who aren’t white.  Its implicit bias.  It isn’t somebody just being friends with somebody.  It is evidence of something far more sinister and nefarious.

Here’s thing though.  Friends is a TV show.  Its not real.  If it was real then these twentysomethings wouldn’t be living that huge apartment in New York.  See back in the 80’s and 90’s TV shows didn’t have to push a political narrative or particular worldview.  They could just be funny.  And if you didn’t like it, then you watched something else.  You didn’t try to ban it.  Because freedom.  We have that still.  If your TV show sucked, it went off the air.  You know why?  Capitalism.  Remember Charlie GraceHigh Incident?  Neither does anybody else because they sucked.  Capitalism is why you can have a job as a cat behaviorist expert and turn it into a TV show called Psycho Kitty.  This is why we rebelled against the British, why Rocky fought Ivan Drago, why the Wolverines banded together in 1984 to defend their town, country and freedom itself from the invading Soviet and Cuban armies!

We’re Not Good At This

Mom and I have been married for 20 years.  That’s a pretty long time.  Over the course of these 20 years we’ve also learned we’re good at certain things and we’re not so good at some other things.

Here’s an example:  Mom is really good at getting stuff done.  To completion.  She’s also really good at the self congratulations about whatever she completed.  She’ll finish a book, weed the yard or paint a room and she’s pretty damn sure that not only did she do a really good job, she’s pretty sure that you’re sure she did the best damn job.  And she’s going to point it out to you.  When it comes to me, I’m really good at assessing risk.  At identifying the potholes or obstacles and how to avoid them.  Or as Rye would put it, pointing out everything that might go wrong or exaggerating the aforementioned obstacles that may present themselves thereby preventing us from having any fun.  And that’s fair.  Anyway, together we’re really good at kicking ass.  Kidding.  Together we’re really good at making fun of the shows the girls like to watch…like the Kardashians and the Bachelorette.

Here’s what we’re not good at.  If you watch a movie and think said movie is hilarious, you may think to yourself, “Hey you know who would enjoy this unrestrained hilariousness?”  If the answer to that question is Mom and I, you might decide to bring over the DVD or blue-ray because you know we’re too cheap to have Netflix.  You might also decide to leave that DVD or blue-ray in an obvious spot like the kitchen table or the middle of the most active spot on the kitchen counter.  Why?  Because you want us to watch the movie.  Because its funny and rehashing funny movies with your friends is not only funny but it is a wonderful reason to sit around a drink beers.

But we suck at that.  Not the drinking beers, we’re good at that.  Especially when we have no responsibilities the next morning.  But we suck at the whole actually viewing the movie.  Some good friends of ours gave us Ted to watch about 3 or 4 years ago.  We’ve never watched it.  Mom’s sister and her husband gave us The Change Up to watch 3 or 4 years ago.  We’ve never watched it.

I’m really not sure why.  I mean once we get into January and February we have quite a few unobligated Saturdays.  So we have time.  Maybe it’s the whole 2 hour commitment.  As we all know, Mom doesn’t just to do just one thing.  If she’s watching a movie at home, she also wants to be accomplishing something else.  Like reading a book or making her meals for the week or nagging the girls about their homework.  Plus, if she were being honest with herself, she’d really rather just watch HGTV.  All day.  Every.  Single.  Day.

But last Saturday, as luck would have it, TBS was showing The Change Up.  And we watched it.  It was hilarious.  Like watch it 6 or 7 more times hilarious.  Probably shoulda just watched it when the DVD was left in our kitchen.  Next step is to watch the unedited version.  Favorite line courtesy of Ryan Reynolds when he perfectly summarizes helicopter parenting:

“These are called children, or dependents.  Never disparage your own child. Everything they do is miracle from God.   When they’re bad it’s only because they’re tired or going through a phase.  When other kids are bad, it’s because of indulgent parenting or innate defects in the child’s character.”

Then, this weekend, we watched Ted.  Again, hilarious.  And again, probably just shoulda just watched when the DVD was left in our kitchen.  Granted we’ve seen so many clips from it that a lot of the really funny stuff we’d seen before.  But it really didn’t matter.  Not sure how Mark Wahlberg sings the Thunder Buddy song without laughing.  Plus Ted’s derisive observations of the sound of 90’s music along with the fact you can sing any song from the 90’s with just vowels is not only hilarious but a statement of fact.  Because if we’re being honest, 90’s music sucked.  Really, really sucked.  Blues Traveler?  Awful.  Dave Matthews?  Terrible.  Green Day?  Amongst the crappiest music I’ve ever been forced to listen too.  Pearl Jam…Ok, maybe some of this was good.  Generally speaking the best thing that happened to music in the 90’s was that it gave us the death of grunge.  Not that boy bands were any better…

Anyway, I’m thinking there has to be a list of hilarious movies that we’ve missed…or ignored.

 

Christmas 1983

Heard Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes on the radio a couple days ago while driving the 8th grader to school.  Turns out that despite the weird freaky video this was my favorite song back in December of ’83 during my 8th grade Christmas.  Other things going on in December of ’83?  I was wearing these:

8th grade shoes

Big Country was shooting up the charts while P.Y.T. was sliding down, Eric Dickerson was setting a rooking rushing record wearing rec specs and Olivia Newton John was not only caught up a in a strange Twist of Fate she was killing it with this hair:

ONJ Two of a Kind

That’s a lotta hotness for a 13 year-old boy to deal with.

Not totally sure of what I was asking Santa to leave under the tree that particular December.  Cool BMX bike accessories?  Terry Bradshaw’s elbow to heal so the Steelers wouldn’t be subjected to Cliff Stoudt’s affinity for interceptions.  Actual brake dancing abilities.  Parachute pants.   A higher appreciation for Journey’s Ask the Lonely.

Bails wants a cat.  And candy.  But mostly a cat.  I’d probably be down with getting her a cat made out of candy but she’s not getting an actual cat.  I don’t want a pet.  I don’t need anything else to take care of.  I have a mortgage and three teenage daughters.  Three teenage daughters who routinely engage in petty sister on sister apparel thievery and depending on their position in the aforementioned thievery feign innocence or demand retribution.  Plus there is the rampant dismissive sarcasm which gives me a full tank when it comes other living things that ignore directions.  I don’t need a cat looking up at me after it pees in the corner of my office the same way Jake Tapper looks at Kellyanne Conaway.

conwaytapper

Now don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t dislike cats.  We had cats my whole life growing up.  We had Thursday, Bandit, Smokey (see what we did there), Spooky, Sneaker and then there was Muffy.  I liked all of these cats.  Well except for Muffy.  Nobody liked her.  Which seemed to suit her fine since she also disliked all the other living things in the house.

But I don’t want a cat in our house.  We have dark wood floor for pete’s sake.  Do know what kind of havoc cat hair can wreak on dark wood floors!  Trust me, it’s gross.  That stuff starts blowing across it like tumbleweed.  And I like clean floors.  Everybody has their weird stuff and one of mine is clean floors.  Cats are the sworn enemy of clean floors.  Like bumbling villains and meddling kids.  Like Lynn Swann and George Atkinson.  Like B.A. Baracus and flying.  Plus, despite all the girls’ assurances that they will take care of the cat, I’m pretty damn sure it’ll be me who makes sure the cat not only learns to use the litter pan but also cleans it out.

Yeah, I’m not doing that.  I did poopy diapers for about 5 years.  I’m done dealing with poop.

If I were to ever agree to a cat, I would never, ever, never, ever, never make it a Christmas present.  That’s crazier than pretending to be a native American to land a spot on the Harvard faculty.  Why would I attach the sentimentality of Christmas, of all holidays, to a pet which I have clearly explained is only around to cause me grief.  That’s not very Christmasy.  Also if I was somehow duped into getting a cat, it would be an outside only cat.  The kind that hangs in the garage, kills rodents and scares away rabbits.  The kind that rains death upon the interlopers in my yard that eat the plants.  We could name it Van Damme…

More Complicated?

Was Christmas less complicated when we were kids?  I mean pretty much all you did was agonizingly count down the days before Christmas Break, watch the Bob Hope Christmas Special and wait for Santa to deliver the loot.  Now it seems we either get overwhelmed or it sneaks up on us.  Although to be honest, if Christmas sneaks up on you there is really no one to blame but yourself.  C’mon the decorations are up in October.  It’s not like Christmas arrives all stealthy.  The songs have been on the radio since before Thanksgiving and the decorations are up in all the stores minutes after Halloween is over.

I think what really happens is we let it overwhelm us.  Every year we vow to shop earlier, get the Christmas cards done over Thanksgiving and to help Mom wrap the presents.  Well, that last part is a complete falsehood.  I’ve never done that.  I stick the labels on the gifts.  That is extent to which Mom trusts my wrapping skills.  I’m a strong proponent of the widespread use of gift bags.

Now I’m must spitballin’ here but I’m pretty sure my appreciation for gift bag usage is based in the Christmas story.  And I’m not talking about the 1983 movie in which Ralphie told us, “”Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.”  No, I’m talking about the traditional telling of the actual Christmas story…updated for levity during this busy time of year.

Feel free to let me know if you remember it a bit differently.

According to yuletide folklore, Mary and Joseph traveled a long way to Bethlehem, inadvertently obligating couples from thenceforth to the customary holiday journey to visit family and friends while dealing with delayed flights, snowy roads and impatient whining children.  Or, depending on your current parental situation, know-it-all, eye-rolling teenagers.  Nary a mention of wrapping gifts.  Also no condemnation of the rampant use of gift bags in place of traditional wrapping.  Go back and look.  Pretty sure the Biblical scholars are going to back me up on this.   Mary made a list of what they needed and Joseph stupidly viewed the list as suggestions and instead only brought egg nog, chips and a list of where all the rest areas were located.  Thankfully he was smart enough to observe a star in the sky which guided them to the Inn where they were told their reservations had somehow been lost and had been “upgraded” to the stable.

Anyway, Mary and Joseph, settled in next to the manger in which they placed the baby Jesus.  Next to the manager was a small conifer.  In this case, a fir.  Possibly a spruce.  Biblical arborists disagree.  Regardless, Joseph, having driven the cart all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, suggested that they just put all Christmas gifts for family and friends in gift bags.  After all it would be quicker and the important thing is the gift not the wrapping paper.

Thankfully, the three Wise Men also saw the star and began their trek to see the baby Jesus.  Lesser known is the story of the Wise Men.  They saw a star and began a trek to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.  This, of course, began the age-old practice of dudes everywhere driving aimlessly through mall parking lots searching for open spots whilst their wives and girlfriends incessantly sent them pics asking which gifts they should buy.  Unbeknownst to them at the time, the three Wise Men doomed husbands and boyfriends throughout the ages to consistent criticism for the gift decisions because of their weird gifts choice of gold, frankincense and myrrh .  Maybe some 0-6 month onesies or some diapers?  Or even a gift card to Rock Bottom for Mary and Joseph would’ve been nice.  I mean they are going to want to get out of the stable for a few hours here and there.

Anyway, key thing to remember is the story does not include anything about:  1) wrapping gifts, and 2) saving Christmas cookies for some unnamed post-holiday reason.

So, feel free to use gifts bags for any type of gift and don’t worry about saving any Christmas cookies for later.  Nobody makes New Year’s cookies…unless they help with hangovers…

 

Required Volunteering

Yeah so I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about.   Your kid plays on this team and this team is supposed to provide a certain number of volunteers to man the concessions, or clean up the stadium or do some other crappy task that nobody really wants to do.  So who ya gonna call?  Parent volunteers.

So there are at least two kinds of required volunteering.  The kind you do because somebody at the booster club is somehow in charge of making sure the dance team parents or softball team parents provide a certain number of volunteers to man the concessions.  Then there is the kind of volunteers who do something, like clean up the stadium after home games, as a way to raise money for the team so they can compete in regional competitions or pay for uniforms, etc.

Mom and I are both.  Not by choice though.  Nobody shares this eventual responsibility with you when you decide to have kids.  Other things nobody tells you when you decide to have kids?  That teenagers are, without question, God’s way of payback.  And this isn’t a theory.  Its a stone cold freaking fact.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few observations should you ever find yourself in these kind of crappy volunteer situations.  Here’s what I learned doing the concessions:

If there is a choice between working the concessions for your school or the local Catholic school, go with the Catholics.  This isn’t because of some sort of religious favoritism.  Its a pure numbers game.  There are just fewer people.  And, as I found out, they don’t really like to buy too much at the concessions because the public school gets to keep the cash.  Less work for me.

Second thing I learned is that if you are presented with the option of working the front counter taking orders and money or working in the back getting the food, preparing the orders – pick the front.  Why?  Because nobody wants to deal with the freaking liquid cheese nacho dispenser.  The rate of dispersal is unpredictable.  The shut off valve doesn’t fully close.  The density of the cheese is variable.  And nobody wants to deliver a customer nachos with loose cheese.

Also do 2nd shift.  Yeah, I know logic dictates the opposite.  Everybody knows set up is easier than clean up.  Well who knew concessions work is counter-intuitive.  Like Facebook political activism.  You’d think the more you condescending preach to your friends across your social media platforms the more it would persuade them.  Anyway, turns out that clean up really only entails sweeping the floor and pulling down the garage-like door thereby separating you from the public.  Pretty sweet.

Finally, volunteer for last game of the season.  If you’re lucky, it’ll be freaking freezing.  Drives down attendance and the only thing anybody wants is hot chocolate.  You only have to memorize the price of one item and their is always a heater in the concessions.  That’s called winning.

Sometimes the coach of your kids’ team will be presented with the opportunity to clean the stadium after home football games as a way to raise money.  I’m only going to say this once and its going to be fast so pay attention.  Do it.  Do it every chance you get.  Easy money.  Nobody bothers you.  Takes about 20 minutes.  Stop at the gas station on the way home and pick up some beers.

Seriously.  Easiest involuntary volunteering you’ll ever do.  But here’s the catch.  Only do it if it is the high school football stadium.  If they want you to do the local Triple A baseball team, don’t do it.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.  Got it?

Now you know what I know.  Use this knowledge wisely.