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 one (four) beer(s) too many.  You know what that makes me?  The best Dad on the planet.

Favorites

So I noticed the girls were having a serious discussion the other day about favorites.  It sounded a lot like when my sisters and I used to do Mad Libs back in the day.  But different.  So maybe it wasn’t like Mad Libs at all.  Anyway, Kinz stapled together 14 Post-It notes.  Each Post-It alternated between a question and that question’s answer.  For example the first question asked you for your favorite TV show.  And she was quizzing Bails, Rye, our neighbor and anybody else who was around.  And well I couldn’t really help myself.  I mean she was essentially conducting an opinion poll and I really like opinion data and I don’t mind at all registering my opinion in said data.  So I engaged.

Favorite TV Show – Kinsey’s answer was Full House.  Yeah, that Full House.  Didn’t really watch the show back in its prime.  I mean how many 19 year-old college dudes are watching Full House?  The ones who probably played Dungeons & Dragons.  Not this guy.  Too busy trying to earn the Beers Around the World t-shirt.  Just by drinking 325 different beers from around the world you get a free t-shirt.  What?  I wasn’t a math major.  Anyway, now that I’m a Dad I have a whole new appreciation for Full House.  This, my friends, is a wonderful show for your daughters to watch.  DVR it and make them watch it.  Do it.  Not kidding.  Enforce it as a house rule.  I didn’t realize it at the time but it’s a late 80’s/early 90’s version of the Brady Bunch.  Excellent lessons and messages are tackled in every episode.  It’s like having an extra parent around.  Who knew John Stamos was a role model and not just a hair model?  All three of the girls are watching the show.  And remember they range in age from 9 to 13.  But my answer wasn’t Full House.  It’s not my favorite show.  But it is my favorite show for the girls.  Mine?  Person of Interest.  It’s got a little bit of LOST in it.  Totally sucked into The Following too.  Also love The New Girl.  But Person of Interest, that’s my favorite.  Well, I mean if you aren’t including the NFL Network’s coverage of the Combine this weekend.

hedgerow cutterAlthough I gotta admit I’ve spent most of the last two weeks catching up on The Walking Dead.  Don’t do this.  Not being flippant here.  You can’t watch 15 episodes over 3 days and be the same guy.  This show changes you.  I backed out the garage on Sunday night to pick Bails and Kinz up from softball camp and I was seriously checking for walkers.  I was running through scenarios in my head about how to react if I came upon a herd of them.  Front of the truck needs to be modified with those hedgerow cutters our boys welded onto the fronts of their Shermans back in the Normandy bocage in ’44!

After all those episodes its pretty damn apparent that I am completely and utterly unprepared for the Zombie Apocolypse.  I don’t have the right kind of weapons.  Well, really any weapons of note.  I don’t have any supplies.  Not only would I have to keep Mom and the girls safe but myself too.  That’s five freaking people.  I wouldn’t last the first 48 hours.  Not ashamed to admit that its kind of stressing me out.  I spent ALL DAY at work on Monday thinking about The Walking Dead.  My house has way, way too many entry points that would need to be sealed off and barricaded.  It’s the suburbs so there are terrible sight lines.  There could be a herd of walkers down the street and we wouldn’t even know it.  No natural barriers exist.  And now I can’t keep myself from watching the trailer for World War Z.  Seriously, I gotta stop.

Next question was favorite band.  Kinsey’s?  One Direction.  Boo and boooooo.  Mine?  Close finish but probably Poison.  Def Leppard, Tesla, Guns N’ Roses and AC DC are all close finishers.  Kinda like Rick Springfield a little too.  And Huey Lewis.  Anway, it’s Poison.  Why?  Because they didn’t have any of the political statements or social commentary like all those asshat bands like Green Day.  They just wanted to rock out, drink beers and have a good time.   And when you consider that Poison was at it’s peak between ’88 and ’93 and when you also consider that I was between the ages of 18-23, I think the correlation is pretty clear.

Favorite Animal.  Hmm.  Well Kinsey’s was a dog.  Actually a puppy.  Mine?  Well I have two tied for first place.  Favorite animal 1A is one that isn’t my pet.  Love those animals.  Favorite animal 1B is one that will keep rabbits and chipmunks out of my yard, eat carrion and have the presence of mind not to live in the yard.  Used to be the Siamese cat that lived up the street.  Now it might be the opossum that lives in the neighborhood somewhere.  Both were pretty good enforcers.  Like Jason Statham but with fur.

Favorite Clothing Store.  Kinsey’s is Aeropostale.  I guess that’s fine.  If you’re 10.  And a girl.  Me?  Scheel’s.  Local sporting goods store.  Place has everything.  If it had its own microbrewery, I’d probably sleep in the store room.

Favorite Food.  This is a tough one.  Kinsey was really on target with her choice of donuts.  Can’t go wrong with donuts.  Some folks might go with pizza.  Myself?  Well, I considered a pizza made out of donuts.  But Donut Pizza isn’t really a thing.  Yet.  So naturally you’d move to cheesburgers here.  And I do like cheeseburgers.  But I’m really partial to one pot meals.  Or, in essence, a big pile of stuff I like mixed together.  Which is what nachos are.  Hence their perch atop my list of favorite foods.  Chips?  Good.  Cheese?  Good.  Jalapenos, black beans, onions, salsa, guacamole?  Also good.

Favorite Sport.  Kinsey had gymnastics.  Which I considered a small upset over softball.  But I’d venture a guess that Kinz’ favorite sport sorta moves with the seasons.  Mine does not.  Football.  Now if you were to ask me about my favorite sport to play then the answer would be cricket.  No, I’m kidding.  Cricket?  C’mon man you gotta be smarter than that.  Basketball.  Loved playing basketball.  But a couple of rearrangements to God’s design inside my knee kinda set that aside.  But nothing beats watching football.  Especially the NFL.  I even kinda miss the USFL every year around this time.  College basketball finishes a strong second.

Favorite Color.  Blue.  No, yellooooooooooooow…  Monty Python reference.  Kinsey’s is hot pink.  Not real sure here when it comes to me.  Probably Houston Oiler/Carolina/UCLA blue.  Do like cardinal and gold on Saturdays.  And black and gold on Sundays…

So I guess there you have it.  You’ve gained almost nothing from reading this.  Other than now contemplating how unprepared you are for the impending zombie apocalypse.