Who’s Excited for Summer?

wildthingSummer needs to get here.  Fast.  Not because of my impatience for Season 3 of Stranger Things but because it is entirely possible that our 15 and 17 year-olds aren’t going to make it.  Seriously, they just might not get there.  Not because school and activities are grinding them down, moreso because there are times I feel like Mitch Williams coming outta the ‘pen for the ’89 Cubs.  I’m volatile and unpredicatible with my parenting decisions.  And if you’re not paying attention, you might get a 99 mph fastball high and tight.

I mean, okay, maybe I’m overreacting.  Maybe its true that they’re worn out from 9 months of school.  Maybe all the studying for finals has them really stressed out.  Maybe those two things combined with track and softball is just overwhelming them.  Or, maybe, its just a whole helluva lot of whining and laziness.  And those two things mingling are really just the girls inviting me to punch them in the face.  Verbally of course.  I don’t want to give any of you online parenting stormtroopers the wrong idea…

Listen, I get that it becomes harder once the weather gets warm, the grass gets green and the grills get smokier.  A cold Miller Lite, a home grilled burger and Poison playing in the background makes me happy too.  School ends on May 31st and it remains unclear how the 15 year-old is going to make it.  Seriously, she’s checked out.  Like she might be more checked out from school than Jerry Nadler is from reality.  Okay, that’s not fair.  Nadler is living in a carefully constructed alternative universe in which he’s taken seriously.  The 15 year-old is only in the process of checking out of a universe in which she knows we don’t take her seriously.  She combats her ineptitude in getting us to take her pretend exhaustion seriously by being whiny and lazy.  As each day goes by, she’s checks out a little more.  Which, if you think about it, is f’ing crazy.  She’s 15.  She’s a freshman in high school.  What the hell is so hard about the life of a high school freshman?  Mortgage payments?  Paying cellphone and car insurance bills for 5 freaking people?  Being stuck in an age demographic that somehow thinks socialism doesn’t always end in theft, murder and poverty?  Okay, that last one does suck but it shouldn’t affect her energy levels.

Anyway, here’s an example.  She has to be in her desk in her first class at 8:20 a.m.  This has been the case since August and isn’t a real high bar to clear.  It’s like if you were a new member of congress and you proposed a giant socialist manifesto proclaiming your greener-than-thou moral superiority and the only bar you had to clear was to not back up the manifesto with arguments about banning cow farts.  Anyway, you’d think after about 9 months of school, the 15 year-old would be used to this.  Shouldn’t her internal clock have moved into autopilot and the whole getting up and having all your stuff ready to go be second nature?  Well, of course not you stupid moron!  Expecting a 15 year-old to show some semblance of consistency when the weather is warm would be stupid.  High level stupidness.  I mean you’d have to be a complete imbecile to somehow come to the conclusion that by the end of freaking May, your 15 year-old daughter would be able to get out of bed, walk the 12 feet to the bathroom, get ready for school, have her track and/or softball stuff ready for practice/meet/game and – and this is key – drive herself to school in a timely manner.  Yeah, she gets to drive to school even though she’s only 15.  School license.  She doesn’t even have to make it to a freaking bus stop.  She has to walk into the garage and succesfully back the car out of the driveway and make, totally serious here, 4 total turns to get to school.

But as I mentioned earlier, that would make you stupid.  Because here’s the thing, at some point in May, the autopilot begins to malfunction.  This is due to something called “Idon’tgiveacrapitis” and we’ve all been afflicted with this ailment.  In high school, in college, as a parent and at your job.  I understand it, you understand it.  And, truth be told, I like to fully and vigorously embrace it at times.  But, here’s where parenting is bullshit, the 15 year-old doesn’t get to do it.  When she’s a senior?  Sure, I’ll probably let it slide a bit.  But not now.  Her life is not hard.  Somehow we’ve allowed her to become soft.  She’s like the media’s questions for Obama after he weaponized the IRS to go after any organization who dared oppose his reign.

Regardless, I need summer to get here so the arguments can be limited to which of the three girls gets a car for the day.  Because the constant vigilance necessary to make sure they study, turn in their assignments, take advantage of any and all retakes/extra credit while also ensuring they are on time and have all the correct track and softball is bullshit.  Now, I know some of you are acting all bad ass and saying, “Yeah, whatever man, if they didn’t have the right gear – TOUGH!”  Yeah, okay, but you know you’re getting a call from the 15 year-old about an hour or so before her first softball game saying, “MOM, I forgot my uniform pants!  Can you bring them to the field?!!!”

Seriously, that just happened.  She forgot her pants.  I wonder if Jerry Nadler forgets his pants when he freaks out about his meaningless subpoenas?

 

 

 

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A Weekend in Olathe

Who spent last weekend in Olathe?  Nobody?  Okay, just me then.

Actually I wasn’t alone since the 16 year was there too.  She was, truth be told, the only reason I was there.  Not that I have anything against Olathe.  It was my first time there and it seemed a lot like every other big suburb of a major midwestern city.  She had a softball tournament Saturday and Sunday.  The high school team divides itself into what is essentially the varsity and the JV for spring tournaments before practice starts on May 6.

So we left Friday afternoon about 4:30ish and drove down.  Nice enough drive except for the fact that Missouri has zero interest in maintaining any semblance of smoothness on I-35.  The first ten miles or so once you cross the Iowa/Missouri border have more craters than Adam Schiff’s credibility.  But here’s the thing – the 16 year-old is a talker.  She likes to share.  She also has strong feelings about her various playlists.  There’s the driving playlist, the homework playlist, the hype playlist, the getting ready playlist and a couple more that she told me about but my brain went into “ignore politely mode” so I don’t remember what they were.  She did ask if I wanted to listen to her throwback playlist.  Naturally, I said yes because I’m 48.  Most of the songs I like only exist on throwback playlists.  What I wasn’t really contemplating was that to the 16 year-old not only are the Backstreet Boys throwback material but so is Flo Rida.  Yeah, who knew?  I was expecting some Def Leppard.  Maybe some vintage disco.  But whatever, I like Flo Rida.  I even like his collaborations.  Especially that one with Pitbull and Lunch Money Lewis.

But I got to spend 3ish hours with her.  Which was pretty cool.  For me anyway.  Not sure of her feelings on the matter although she did only talk about stuff she cared about for those 3 hours.  But again, not sure I really care because it really isn’t that often you get to spend 3 hours alone with your junior in high school.  That kinda thing doesn’t really happen organically.

We talked about a lot of stuff.  We talked about prom.  We talked about softball.  We talked about my music vs. her music.  We talked about the various high school dramas unfolding around her.  We talked about whether or not Mom and I partied in high school.  We talked about what she should major in once she gets to college.  I tried to talk about how the Steelers would adjust to life without Antonio Brown and who I thought they’d target with their first few picks in the draft…but to be honest I think I was really just talking to myself on those things.  Which truth be told is just how it works in my house when it comes to the NFL Draft.  Mom likes football, but she’s not a nerd about it.

Anyway, the 16 year-old was stunned to learn that Mom partied a little bit in high school before cutting loose in college.  Her and her sisters have this belief that Mom did everything right in high school – never got in trouble, always got good grades, etc.  Which made me curious about their impression of me in high school.  She said they were pretty sure that I partied in high school and college.  Not sure what that says about my skills as a parent.  But I managed to graduate in both cases and went to arguably be a productive member of American society.  But I did ask some questions regarding this assumption.  I mean what makes it obvious that I partied and Mom didn’t?  It’s not like I’m carrying around a 30 pack of Stroh’s, a fake ID and a handy story on why I missed my curfew…that hasn’t happened since the spring of ’88…

The thing that simultaneously interested and repelled me was all the drama.  And it seemed like a lot.  But I haven’t been a junior in high school for 32 years.  So maybe when you’re that age there’s just more drama.  You also probably have a higher level of tolerance for it because of its prevalence.  But I’m not the best gauge in regards to appropriate or even normal levels of drama.  Mostly because I have an exceptionally low tolerance level for drama.  Like if the drama scale were to be measured from 0 to 10 with 0 being no tolerance and 10 high tolerance, I’d be a -47.  Or if you were using — as a measurement, I’d be —.

Now listen, everybody will say they hate drama.  Everybody.  And they’ll mean it.  Some people will even insist they have tolerance levels resembling mine.  They’d also be resoundingly wrong.  I have a pathological aversion to it.  Like it might be diagnosed as a mental health issue.  An issue I hope to pass along to the girls.  But listen, having three daughters hasn’t helped me deal with this either.  In fact, I believe it actually has led to the current state of my drama tolerance levels.  Not that I’m complaining.  I like being the guy with absolutely no reason to participate in your drama.  I like anchoring this curve.  Now, I won’t go out of my way to denigrate your drama-filled concerns.  I’m not mean-spirited afterall.  I’ll just ignore you.  You may misinterpret that as me not caring.  You’d be wrong.  I do care.  It’s just I care very much about ignoring your drama.  Or I’ll just quietly, albeit unapologetically, walk away.  Because here’s the deal – drama likes other drama.  Drama attracts other drama.  If drama runs into anti-drama, drama will work tirelessly to ensare the anti-drama.  Because drama can’t exist on it’s own.  There are people who are attracted to drama the way fat kids are attracted to cake.  They want their lives to be a reality show.  They’ll claim that isn’t the case, but they just can’t help themselves.  They’ll cannonball right into the drama pool.  Doesn’t matter if it involves them or not.  If their lives have somehow wandered into a drama desert, they will create it.  It’s like they have a superpower they are unaware of that can conjure drama out of the clear blue sky.  Group of friends getting along really well?  Boom – time to drop a drama grenade into that room.  You have a friend who is getting along really well with their boyfriend or girlfriend?  Time to drop some sabotage in between them to set yourself up as the arbiter.  Friend seems content with the current state of their lives?  Time to passive aggressively attack that friend for the contendedness.

So the upside is that I was able to express my views on drama to the 16 year-old.  And she couldn’t escape.  Calling that a win.

 

Bleachers, Gas and Parking

Sometimes I marvel at my ability to stay calm in the face of adversity.  I mean it takes a certain level of maturity to keep a composed demeanor while unexpected, and dare I say, unwarranted explosions of frustration, apprehension and just plain ol’ rage blow up in your face.  It also is just years and years of experience of being outnumbered 4-1 in my house by Mom and the girls.  I’m like the 82nd Airborne, I’m not only used to be outnumbered but I’m also completely at ease being surrounded.  All Dads who share a house with all daughters have this gift.

So I’m in the kitchen this morning.  Just had come down the stairs and placed my phone on the island.  I was jammin to Bleachers.  I was in a pretty good mood.  It’s tough to be grumpy when listening to these guys.  I Wanna Get Better is a great song.  Anyway, Mom asks me what’s going on later and then she’s out the door headed to work.  Totally normal.  Suddenly, about a minute or so later she returns to the kitchen.  This isn’t necessarily an odd occurrence.  Sometimes she forgets something.  Sometimes, when it’s cold, she was just warming up her car.  So her presence while not expected, wasn’t surprising.

But the force with which she slammed the door and the angry forcefulness of her stride back into the kitchen foretold something unpleasant.  The fury in her eyes portended  confirmed it.  Nearly 22 years of marriage gives you what feels like a sense of clairvoyance when it comes to your spouse.  But like AFC Central quarterbacks staring into the crazy eyes of Jack Lambert as he wrought his ferocious wrath down upon them, I was frozen in place.  Sometimes I forget that Mom’s vision isn’t based on movement.  This morning, the 15 year-old had evidently parked her car in such a way that angered Mom.

Normally, Mom and I both pull in the garage and nobody parks behind either of us.  Depending on which girl leaves first in the morning determines which one leaves their car in the driveway and which one ends up in the third stall in the garage.  The car in the driveway nearly always is parked behind that third stall.  It’s a simple system.

Unfortunately, the system broke down.  The 15 year-old got home late from a track meet.  And in burst of unexpected forethought, she parked behind me instead of behind her sister because her sister left first the next morning.  I was counting that as a win.  Mostly because I’m the one who normally has to move a car if it was left in the wrong spot.

However, she evidently didn’t park precisely behind me.  She left her vehicle a bit too close to Mom’s side.  So Mom goes to back up her car.  And the car starts beeping, alerting her that something is behind her.  But here’s the thing, that car ALWAYS beeps when Mom backs out of the garage.  Evidently the camera’s peripheral vision picks up the sides of the garage.  So as soon as the back end of the car clears the opening to the garage, the beeping stops.  So Mom didn’t pay much attention to the beeping when it started.  It’s white noise.  Not unlike congressional Democrats covering for the latest comment from Ilhan Omar.

Anyway, this time the beeping not only continued past the normal time frame but it became that really fast you’re about to smash into something beeping.  So she stops.  Looks behind her and notices a blue Ford Escape curiously parked in such a way to inhibit her departure from the garage.

And Mom lost her shit.

She comes into the kitchen and unleashes a furious barrage of anger directed at the 15 year-old.  But the 15 year-old is still upstairs.  But there did happen to be one guy standing in the kitchen in a genuinely good mood listening to some music while he made his lunch.  I’m just paraphrasing but it went something like this:

“What the hell is that car doing parked behind me! I almost hit it!”

“Wait, isn’t it parked behind me?”

“That doesn’t matter!  She didn’t park far enough over so I almost hit the car! Not only that but when I got in her car to move it over, the damn interior lights were on!  So we’re lucky it even started.  She needs to use her damn brain.  And she needs to be more considerate of other people! All she does is think about herself!”

So I then said something that in my defense was not only completely logical but really defensible in every sense.  It just wasn’t advisable.

“Did you look behind you before you backed out?’

She said a whole bunch of words but all I really remember was the aftermath.  An invisible force hit me with the power of an F5 tornado.  Pretty sure I was bleeding from my eyes.  I may have suffered a mild concussion.  When I was able to regain my faculties, I remember Mom telling me that I needed to talk to her about this whole episode.

As Mom drove away, I walked out to her car just to see what the deal was with the interior light.  Mom left the car running so I just glanced inside at the center console.  So two things, 1) the console indicator panel said the rear window to the hatch was ajar, and 2) the low fuel light is on.

I got back inside and the 15 year-old, who undoubtedly was able to hear the torrent of expletives hurled my direction just minutes before, wisely had waited until Mom was gone to venture into the kitchen.

“Hey kiddo so good job on parking behind me so your sister got get our this morning.  But you gotta make sure you’re far enough over so Mom can back out.”

“Well, I’m terrible at parking.”

“Agreed.  But skill level is really relevant here, just actually results.  Also, you left the window on the hatch open so your interior lights were on all night and Mom said your car almost didn’t start because the battery was almost dead.”

“What?  I don’t know anything about cars!  How do I know if something is open or if the battery is dead!”

“Yeah, so there’s this little display directly in front of you below the speedometer that tells you if there’s a door or window open.  And there’s normally a beep or something too…and oh yeah you have no gas.  Like the needle is on the wrong side of the E. Your car has about as much range as Eric Swalwell’s presidential campaign.”

She then said a whole bunch of words about having to leave for school and being late.  I didn’t really stick around long enough to hear all of them.  I just took her car to get gas. I have to do that because the 15 year-old doesn’t have a debit card yet.  Yeah, so that means I always have to get gas for her.  Normally I do I every Sunday.  But, as fate would have it, I didn’t get that done this week.

I get home, throw the keys to the 15 year-old and get in my truck to head work.  And guess what I notice?

I need gas.

“DAMMIT!”

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…

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.

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

 

It Has Arrived

It’s here.  Feels weird but there’s nothing we can do about it.  Not that I want to do anything about it, I’m just saying that it is weird that it is actually happening.

College.  The oldest daughter started classes on last Monday.  Which means that we are now the parents of a college student.  How in the freaking hell did this happen?  It was only…30 years ago that I was going to college.  Wait…30 years…Holy Crap.

joeelliotshreddedjeansAnyway, college is cool.  Going to college was cool.  Having a kid going to college is weird.  I mean, yes, it is also cool.  I guess anyway.  Like putting the Democrats in charge of Congress, it just makes things more expensive.  But it is pretty cool seeing your kid and her friends getting ready to experience the awesomeness that is college.  Although I seriously doubt it is cooler going to college now than it was between 1988 and 1992.  Then we had hair metal.  Now they have safe spaces.  Then we had Milwaukee’s Best Light.  Now they have Crispin Rose Hard Cider  Then we had shredded up jeans.  Now they have…shredded up jeans.  Who knew that Joe Elliot’s legacy wasn’t Hysteria but the shredded jeans in the Pour Some Sugar On Me video.  Evidently these sneaky kids did pick up on few things…

Regardless, moving your oldest into her dorm room and then leaving her there is disconcerting.  On one hand you’re happy for them because nothing is like going to college.  On the other hand, well, you hope to hell you did a good job because all the guidance either took or it didn’t.  And we’ll all find out shortly.

Anyway, we moved her and her roommate in a little over two weeks ago.  Move-in is essentially a convention of sweaty Dads.  So yeah, pretty awesome.  I impressed myself, but no one else, by carrying in the fridge single handedly.  Those things really are pretty light but who cares.  I carried a damn fridge alone!  Her roommate’s brother and I carried in the couch.  Here’s the backstory.  Dorm is on the 2nd floor…which is really the third floor since it goes ground, 1st, 2nd.  Dorm has 7 or 8 floors.  Not really sure because when your kid lives on floor 2, you don’t give any craps about the floors above.  Those are problems other Dads need to navigate.  The dorm room was right at the top of the stair well on the west side of the building.  So, assuming the couch fit through the outer door, the door to the stairwell, the door from the stairwell to the hall and the door to the dorm room, we’re golden.  Since Mom is awesome, she remembered to bring a tape measure.  33 inches of clearance in all the doorways.  Shortest side of the couch is roughly 31 inches.  Easy peezy.  But we had to carry the couch across the street, through the parking lot, around the line of Dads waiting to use the elevator which ran out of the main doors before finally making it to the outer door on the west side of the building.  Helpful Dad #1 stops us at the door and recommends we go back around to the main doors and then the long way down the hall because those main doors are way, way wider.  I smile and tap the tape measure hooked onto my belt.  “Thanks Chief but we measured and as long as we keep our hands underneath I think we’re good.”  We slip through the opening with barely any room to spare.  Tim Allen like grunts of approval from the other sweaty Dads.

Next was going up a couple flights of stairs.  I made the roommate’s brother go backwards.  What?  He’s 16.  I’m 48.  Helpful Dad #2 puts his stuff down, grabs the cushions off the couch that had started to come loose and then opens the doors for us.  Sweaty Dads Unite!

We successfully navigated the stairs using our innate knowledge of geometry and weight distribution.  More vocal noises of approval from other sweaty Dads.  Not gonna lie, I feeling pretty damn good about myself at this point.  Helpful Dad #3 who is one of the Dads of the girls living directly across the hall, clears out the doorway of his daughter’s dorm room and lets me back in to create an easy angle of entry through which to enter our desired destination.

So what’s the lesson?  Sweaty Dads are friggin’ awesome.  It’s like a bond of unspoken camaraderie.  A connection of implicit admiration.  A pledge of unsaid solidarity.  It was beautiful really.

Once everything was in the room, I sat down on the aforementioned couch.  Mom started suggesting where everything could go.  The two 18 year-olds immediately resisted.  It was like Hillary Clinton saying, well, anything to a room full of midwesterners.  In response, I suggested that we should just run to Target and get whatever supplies they needed and then we’d go get tacos.  Because everybody likes tacos.

Dropped off the supplies and then had lunch.  And that was it.  Just like that you’re down one kid.  Although the 14 year-old took about 5 minutes to get used to her being gone.  She immediately went into the departed sister’s room to examine what clothes she had left behind…

 

 

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…

 

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.