Secret Service Dad

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We bought our house in 1994, about 7 months after we got married.  It was built in 1955 and had, for the most part, been updated since.

After we moved in, my grandmother gave us $1,000 to help with home improvements.  My mom strongly suggested we immediately invest in a home alarm system, because she thinks that most criminals are aggressively targeting our family at all times.

I pondered my options – toilets that would flush or alarm; air conditioner that would pump out cool air or alarm.  Because of the intense crime rate in my neighborhood in the heart of North Carolina, I went with alarm.

I have been pleased with it over the past 20 years.  It does give me comfort, most of the time.

Last Wednesday night, it did not.  It went off at 3:23 AM and scared the &%$# out of me.

It blared for about 15 seconds, went off, and then blared again.  How odd.

I had forgotten how dark it is at 3:23 in the morning.  Like, imagine being blindfolded in the closet under your mother’s long dresses.  That’s how dark it is.

I lay in the bed for a minute or two listening for the guys who were about to murder me.  Sadly, I didn’t really think about Stephanie who was alone, upstairs, in her bedroom.

These were clearly quiet burglars, perhaps in socks.  I couldn’t hear a peep.

I remembered Lisa sharing stories of her father slowly climbing the stairs of their home when she was a kid about ready for bed.  She would call out, “Dad, I know you’re there!”  She said it felt like hours before he would jump into her room for a surprise tickle attack.  I waited with the same anticipation.

I finally mustered the courage to walk to the kitchen.  I looked around my room for weapons that could assist in my defense.  I had a lamp that could have acted as a tire iron for whooping up on the enemy, but damn, it was a lot of trouble to unplug.  The biggest book on my nightstand was Josephus Daniels, his Life & Times.  I’ve been trying to read the 600 pager for three months to no avail.  Perhaps this would make good use of my investment.  I had a hand bell that the kids used when they were young to get my attention when they were at home, sick in bed.  Perhaps I could stun his hearing, confusing him while I grabbed my child and ran out the front door.

Finally, I decided I’d rely on my massive strength.  I have been working out for years.  Although I’ve never punched anyone before, there was certainly pent up force in my massive arms.

I called the alarm company asking if they had received a signal.  They had not.  I asked the lady on the phone if she would come over and sleep with me.  That apparently is not included in my annual contract.

“How much would it cost to add that service,” I inquired.

“More than you can afford.”

She didn’t even sound attractive.  People are less fun in the middle of the night.

I considered taking a large butcher knife with serrated edges back to bed with me but decided the likelihood of me actually having the guts to stab someone, regardless of the situation, was less likely than me rolling over and accidentally cutting out my own spleen.

As I nestled back into my Serta, I remembered I had a child upstairs.  That was a long way from my bedroom, and I would have to go through several dark rooms to check on her.  Certainly she was alright.

My parental guilt sank in – I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t make sure she was OK.  I grabbed Josephus and put my bedroom shoes back on.

When I got to her room, she was sitting up in bed.  She had her phone in her hand and her covers pulled up to her chin.

As humans, we act as if a layer of cotton is a force field that can protect us from anything.

“Stephanie, did you hear the alarm?”

“Yes.  It woke me up.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m checking Instagram.”

So, there is a mad killer potentially on the loose in our house, our alarm goes off, twice.  She hears me stirring in the kitchen and notices that lights are on.  And… she pulls up her covers and checks Instagram.  I guess it would be nice to know if you got 100 likes on the last picture you posted before you are bludgeoned to death.  OH.  More likes than Sarah Kate!  I’m ready to die.

“How is checking Insta helping in this situation?  I have 911 dialed on my phone and my finger poised over the call button.  What are you doing to support?“

“I just assumed you had things under control.”

It is scary to me that my children think I have it ALL taken care of.  They put a lot of confidence in this aging, 175-pound, powerhouse of a man.  I’m like the Daddy Secret Service.

If they only knew: I AM PETRIFIED, most of the time, on many, many levels.

 

Where is Uncle Jesse now?

For those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning, you will recall that Lisa’s brother, Uncle Jesse, was a major part of our life the first few years after she died.  He was instrumental in healing our family as well as in helping to logistically keep things going.
Over the past year or two, folks have asked me where Uncle Jesse has gone.  He is still in Raleigh and actually has a number of plates spinning.  Below is an interview with Jesse from Raleigh Philosophical Society.  His real name is Hayes Permar (Uncle Jesse worked well for our blog, which he mastered minded in around 2012).  You can also find him on SportsChannel8.com  and Raleigh & Company.

It’s hard to escape Hayes Permar’s mug these days — but why would you want to? The Raleigh native has leveraged his many skills into a one-man media empire, with songs, videos, social commentary, thoughtfulness and humor all rolled into one Raleigh-bred package. And if you are one of the few people who hasn’t seen any of his work, be sure to check him out on Twitter @DHPIV, or over at Raleigh & Co. with his “Triangle Traveler” or ”NC Yesterday Today”series, or you can hear his dulcet tones on the mic at Carolina Mudcats games.  We are so pleased to feature Hayes in the latest edition of ”A Capital Conversation.” 

Raleigh Philosophical Society (RPS): Tell us a little bit about your childhood. I can only assume from your impeccable sense of style and soft Southern lilt that you were born and raised in Raleigh and are actually descended from the First Men*?

Hayes Permar (HP): I grew up in Raleigh, but my parents didn’t. My family moved here following my Dad’s parents’ decision to settle here after my grandfather retired from the Coast Guard. My parents met in D.C., where my oldest sister was born, and then came to Raleigh, where my other sister and I were born. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in.
I went to Wake County Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade (Washington, Martin, Broughton). I spent a lot of time at the Hillsborough Street YMCA–first as a camper, then as a counselor both there and at Camp Sea Gull–1st Presbyterian Church downtown, and the house of my best friend growing up, Andrew Johnson, who had two brothers–that’s where I learned sports and video games and other “guy” stuff. I grew up mostly a white, suburban Raleigh life…but OF the white, suburban Raleigh kids, I probably had a more diverse upbringing (in range of activities, experiences, people I interacted with) than most. Betraying my mother’s side of the family, I have no style, but you’re kind to say that.
RPS: You are a multi-talented individual. How did you first begin getting into music?
HP: I grew up in a musical family, and now realize how lucky I was (in a musical sense) to be the youngest, meaning I almost literally grew up listening to 4-part harmony. I resisted yet absorbed some piano training at a young age, sponged up a few years of teenage guitar lessons, and then have mostly tinkered with piano/guitar/whatever else I came across ever since.
My parents and sisters had a fairly wide taste of music that I grew up listening to–Paul Simon, The Beatles, Broadway, the Big Chill Soundtracks and Beach music, Folk/Bluegrass, some classical music, popular (’80s at the time). I could sing every song that came on Oldies 100.7 word for word. I’ve added a few genres–alternative in the ’90s, rap in the 2000s–of my own, but I’m not a guy who devours new music. I sort of take it in via osmosis when I’m around people who really know and love music. I learn and adopt what they like.
RPS: You’ve been involved with that Raleigh staple, Ira David Wood’s A Christmas Carol. How did you first get involved? What have been your roles?
Photo by Steve Larson/Theatre In The Park, 
costumes by Shawn Larson/Theatre In The Park
HP: Going off memory, I’m pretty sure I was in ‘ACC’ from 1983-1986 and from ’84-’86 I was Tiny Tim. (There were often two Tiny Tims and we alternated shows to stay rested.) At some point in those four years all of my family was either in the cast of the accompanying band. In 2006 & 2007, I was in the cast with my oldest sister, Lisa, and my oldest niece, Bailey. I played the role of Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. In 2011-2013, I was in the cast with all three of Lisa’s daughters and her husband–I played varying roles as a townsperson/dancer.
RPS: How long have you been doing the PA for the Carolina Mudcats? And give us three reasons why people should attend Mudcats games? (And one of the reasons can not be the lack of stoplights between Raleigh and Five County Stadium. That’s not only a given, it is awesome.)
HP: This is my second year with the Mudcats, but legit (i.e., not just saying this because I work there now) I attended a good number of Mudcats game for several years before I had the PA gig.
Ok, five reasons in no order….
1) Related to what you said but not quite the same: It’s just as close to Raleigh as the Bulls. Maybe closer. Especially if you’re considering 5:30/6 p.m. traffic
2) Last year they built a huge screen. They also added enough camera/production equipment to broadcast all home games on MiLB.com at a level not TOO far off what you’d expect from ESPN. It is by far your best chance of getting a picture/Snapchat of yourself on a cool jumbotron in the Triangle.
3) They serve Red Oak. It was an N.C. craft beer before it was cool to be an N.C. craft beer and they’re good.
4) The Braves are so bad you could be seeing a player that might be starting in Atlanta the next night.
5) Much like the Wolfpack is one of the few (if not only) mascots that have a Mr. AND Mrs. Wuf representing, the Mudcats are the rare team that boast a Muddy mascot and a mini-Muddy.
RPS: As producer at David Glenn Show, you were able to land the POTUS. That had to be an amazing experience – especially from a sports POV. How did that happen, and what was that experience like?
HP: I mean, it was cool, no question about that. I was living in D.C. when President Obama was elected/inaugurated, so aside from what else his tenure means historically, I’ll always feel a connection to his presidency. Because I was living in D.C. at the time, I had a number of folks I always knew I might turn to if I ever had a good reason to request an interview with the President.
Dean Smith had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom under the Obama White House, so when he passed away I thought it might be the time to ask. When the White House’s first response before noon on a Sunday was something like “this is an interesting request — we will process and be in touch,” I had this strange feeling it would work out. I was nervous and excited and ready to be dejected right up until the minute I had him on the phone–I barely remember telling Roy Williams, “Coach, we may have to pull you off on short notice if the President calls in ahead of schedule”–but, again, there was his strange calm it would work out even as I knew any minor world/national event could derail the whole thing.
Talking to him I fell mostly into my normal producer groove–I always tried to loosen/lighten the guest up a little bit. He was easy to talk to and cracked jokes on me. My sister Sallie, an accomplished doctor, had won an award in medicine from the White House the year before, so I brought that up and he told me she was way more impressive than I was, which was spot on.
David did a great job with the interview–he played it very cool and then, sensing President Obama was very comfortable in the conversation, he went from talking Dean Smith to basketball to other, less serious, stuff. He nailed it.
I also told President Obama I regretted never playing in a pick-up game with him, which is true. The interview was cool, but I probably believed I had a 50/50 shot at playing hoops with him at the time he was inaugurated and I’m still ticked I couldn’t make that happen.
RPS: You had the opportunity to be the Sklar Brothers’ tour guide when they came to town. How did you determine what you wanted to show off of our fair city? Were there things you purposely avoided?

HP: It was great to meet those guys and learn that, in addition to being incredibly talented and funny, they are also good, real people. We have a mutual friend who put us in touch and it happened to be a week they were shooting for this new pilot “Find The Funny” on Travel Channel. We met up after their dinner at Beasley’s one night to cross reference what they had planned versus what I thought was “real Raleigh.” (Yes, Clyde Cooper’s for lunch and PR for a State game is Raleigh; No, the topless coffee food stand is just something that looks good in a BuzzFeed article but doesn’t really hit home for Raleighites.)
I thought the show–both their live comedy set and the pilot that aired on Travel–did an outstanding job capturing the essence of Raleigh. Did you see it?

(Note: Yes, I saw it and loved it. I DVR’d it and showed it to friends, who all appreciated it. Would love to see more.)




RPS: Now on to SportsChannel8. I assume that 75 percent of the content on that site is specifically geared toward mocking the Washington Capitals on their lack of a Stanley Cup title, but maybe I’m off a bit on that? How would you describe the site?


HP: That’s recency bias. At most we’re 69 percent devoted to mocking the Caps lack of Cups.
The media landscape generally–and the sports media landscape specifically–are in flux right now. SportsChannel8.com expects to be a part of that flux. We’ll have a lot of stuff coming out of there soon.
RPS: Were you surprised at the notoriety of “Blank Bracket?”

HP: Oddly enough it didn’t get as many views as some of the other videos we put out in the past year, but, to your point, I wasn’t really “surprised.” Knowing the landscape, you kind of get the idea how to play the game…Mega-popular song + universally known sporting event x proper execution=a certain number of views. I was just glad the writing was good enough to overcome the singing.  (If you can’t view the videos, go straight to www.therealfullhouse.wordpress.com)

RPS: You’ve also begun doing some great work over at Raleigh & Co. How did that happen, and what types of things are you doing over there?


HP: I was impressed with the Raleigh & Company idea/layout from the time it launched. Over its years of existence I’ve gotten to know several of the folks involved in it. After leaving the David Glenn Show I was looking for opportunities to do multiple forms of media, especially video, and they were looking to do more multi-media so it was a perfect fit.
RPS: You produced a very touching response to the Orlando shooting. What was that process like? And what were some of the most moving responses you received about it?

HP: That was pure reaction. I was ready to watch the Sunday morning shows and instead they were talking about the shootings. And at the time I was watching (or maybe I was catching up on Twitter) I saw the fatalities go from 20 to 50. It just hit me. Felt like sharing something. Hard to gauge response–there are people who will support/like your posts no matter what. If people see you stepping out on a limb a little bit, they’re even more likely to try to support you, regardless of if they really think about what you’re saying. I guess I felt like I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.
RPS: What do you do in your free time, besides showing up unannounced and playing people’s pianos? When do you sleep? DO you ever sleep?

HP: I don’t sleep, I nap. And the good thing about being self-employed is that it’s all free time until I decide how to use it.
RPS: As an expert on all things Raleigh, what are your favorite hangouts? Anything specific from each place?

HP: I like the Trophy Wife at Trophy, the roast chicken at Poole’s, french baguette at Yellow Dog, burgers at the PR and Char Grill, chicken pastry at K&W, jamocha day at Goodberry’s, sweet tea at Big Ed’s, milkshakes at MoJoe’s. The vibe and the staff at Stanbury might make it the coolest setting in Raleigh. Death and Taxes makes sure you get the most–food and service wise– out of the money you will inevitably spend eating there.


RPS: As someone who has a vested interested in the city, what would you like to see happen in the area over the next 5-10-20 years? What does this area lack? What do we do well?

HP: I hope as we grow as a city we are most mindful of people and communities that have been neglected or kept down by past instances of growth.
RPS: What is something that people may not know about you?

HP: There is a lot people don’t know about me.
RPS: And, finally, who would you like to play you in the “Hayes Permar Story” one day?

HP: If I’m doing it right, the documentary will be more interesting than the movie.

*Little known group of people who actually settled in the Hayes Barton area of Raleigh about 5 years before Jamestown. Or maybe it’s a GoT reference. I forget.

The Sandspurs

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This coming Saturday is a busy day for the Tanners.

At around 4 AM, I drop DJ off at the Raleigh-Durham airport.  She’s going to Durbin, South Africa, with her aunt.  A once in a lifetime experience that she will experience… at age 19.

At 9, I pick Michelle up from Camp Kanata, an overnight camp where she will have spent the week with one of her best friends.  She was stoked when I dropped her off last Sunday.

At 3, I drop Stephanie off for four weeks at Camp Seafarer on the coast of North Carolina where she will be a Camper in Leadership Training.

It’s good to be my kids.

When I was younger, often the highlight of a summer day was earning a nickel when my brother bet me I wouldn’t stick my tongue in the sand hole in our backyard.  You could rake that dirt off with about three scrapes from your Incisors.  Well worth it when the ice cream truck came musically down Berkshire Road.

My backyard could be Africa, if I wanted it to.  It could also be sleep away camp or a spaceship or a battlefield.  All we needed was a hole, which my dad dug for us in the back corner of the back yard.  Six of seven of us could fit into it at once.

The principal’s kid lived behind us on the other side of the fence from our fort.  We didn’t like the principal.  We didn’t like his kid either.  My mother, the preacher’s wife, encouraged us to be nice to him, to include him in our group.  We didn’t much listen to her suggestion.  I’m certain it was my brother’s fault.

Today, kids don’t have to pretend.  They’re doing the real stuff!

They don’t even have to deal with sandspurs.  Where did those boogers go?  If you would have pulled all the sandspurs out of my dad’s yard when I was a kid, you’d have been left with a really nice rock collection.  That’s all there was.  Dirt, rock and sandspurs.  They hurt like hell May to mid-June, but come Summer Solstice, our feet were so tough, we could have walked to Africa, barefoot.

We didn’t go to overnight camp.  We didn’t sail or canoe or shoot archery.  Well, we did have a bow with arrows that had a rubber end.  We shot them at each other’s butts.  They seldom stuck, but boy was it exciting when they did.

I’m sure there were camps back when I was a kid.  I saw the movie Meatballs.  Maybe I didn’t go because I wouldn’t leave my mother’s side.  I didn’t want to go to half-day bible school without her and my dad was the minister at the church.  I wasn’t really homesick; she was just a really good mom.

I’m glad my kids are able to do some really cool stuff in the summer.  I’m glad they are having experiences I didn’t have at their age.  I just doesn’t seem fair that I’m at home, working, while they are gallivanting around the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Your Step

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Last Sunday I was headed toward a church service in town for an afternoon funeral.  A long time Y volunteer and former member of my church had passed away.  She was a good woman.

I had to park several blocks away and was finishing up a phone call as I neared the sanctuary.

I noticed a couple behind me, so I stepped onto the grass in front of the handsome, wooden double doors that led into the service.

I sort of paced a bit as the conversation was serious.  At 2:55, I hung up.

At 2:55 and 3 seconds, I realized I had stepped squarely into the middle of a HUGE pile of light brown dog poo.  Others were entering the church.  Several glanced at me.  One lady shook her head as if I had done something wrong.

I didn’t poop out here lady.  I just stepped in it!!

There were a few snickers from the forming line, and although I was not the pooper, my level of embarrassment must have indicated that I was.

I limped over to the side of the church and worked diligently to wipe the dung off on the lawn.  When it appeared the majority of the visible damage was gone, I slowly lifted my shoe toward my nose.  About chest high I realized I could not enter the church with this shoe on, I smelled like a stable.  I pondered my options…

  1. Hide the shoe under a bush and go in with one foot exposed. Perhaps people, other than those who had observed first hand, would perceive I had an injury.  I wasn’t wearing socks so I decided it might be obvious that nothing was indeed wrong with me.  That strategy was not going to work.
  1. Go home. I don’t like funerals anyway.  But I had driven quite a ways and had even left the beach the day before so I could come honor this really cool lady who had given so much to others.  Certainly there was something else I could do.
  1. Go in and look around as if someone else smelled like #$%&. I’ve done that before with gas.  It can work.  But it was risky with this kind of smell.  And unlike a poot, it wasn’t going away until I left the building.  No good.
  1. Find a bathroom and pray for the best.

I walked around the building and found a side door I thought I could sneak in.  Unfortunately, this church had an incredible Greeting Team.  There was a very kind woman standing on the inside of the door with a program for the service in hand.  I twisted my face and rustled my hair to make it look like I’d just driven in from far away.  I looked at her glassy eyed and whispered, “Where’s the bathroom?”

She pointed around the corner.

It was a three seater so there wasn’t a lock on the door, all were welcome.  My hope was most people were seated so perhaps I had the place to myself.  Again I removed the shoe.  I wiped it with a damp paper towel – didn’t work.  I wiped it with a wet paper towel and soap: better, but the smell still lingered.  Finally, I put the whole damn shoe under the faucet.  That was when the bathroom door opened and a fifty something-year-old man walked in in a three piece suit.  He looked nice.  Gray pinstripes and nary a trace of poo on his being.

I smiled and acted as if this was normal.  Don’t most guys wash their shoes before church?

He went to the urinal.

I tried to rinse the sink to the best of my ability and quickly tossed the wet loafer on my foot.  I’m sure he could hear my squish as I walked out toward the pews.  HU-MILIATING.

I don’t own a dog mainly because I’m away from home a lot and secondly because I don’t like picking up other’s poo.  But apparently that shouldn’t be a reason.  Because apparently you don’t have to pick it up.  You can just leave it for the world to step in.

Yuck.

 

 

 

 

 

Empire Strikes Back

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The Donald Trump Team

Our family plays a great game on vacation.  We learned it a year or two ago from friends when at our August jaunt to Capon Springs.  It’s called Empire.

We played at the beach last week.  The beautiful thing about the game is that it can be played by my 5-year-old niece and by Lisa’s 70 something-year-old uncle who suffers from Parkinson’s.

It takes no equipment, simply 8 or 10 or however many people.

Each player chooses the name of a famous person and secretly shares it with the game leader who collects all of the names and reads the list aloud to the group.  The players then guess who chose each name.

This last round, I chose Iggy Azalea.  I don’t really know her, in fact I had to Google to determine if she was actually a she.  But that was part of my strategy.  I figured no one would believe I could have come up with her name, because I am not that cool.

Unfortunately, Michelle saw right through me and by about the eighth round had figured out my strategy.  Because she guessed my famous person, I joined her “Empire.”  We were both now Scarlett Johansson, the name she put on the list.

Jesse outwardly celebrated as he had success.  My seven-year-old nephew was the first to fall to him at which time the two showed little class as they guessed six or seven more players in fairly short order.  Their hoots, shouts and victory dances were darkened when Michelle insisted that they were Donald Trump.  She was correct, and Jesse’s Empire fell to us.

Aunt Sallie was short lived as Strawberry Shortcake.   Nana chose Florence Nightingale which was also fairly obvious.  If played enough, it becomes clear that the older generation often leans toward historical figures, the middle generation tries to stump with the most unobvious choice and the youngsters go with someone they know, like Aladdin, a tried and true Disney character.

The game is part luck, part strategy.  While playing at Capon last year, I quickly guessed Uncle Jesse’s character, and then the two of us immediately figured out Aunt Sallie and Uncle Matt.  Other players suggested we were in cahoots prior to the start of the game.  In truth, we just knew each other well enough to make some fairly strong deductions.

As my kids age, I hope we will keep the spirit of inter-generational connections alive.  I don’t want to be an old person sitting alone on the beach.  I want to be in the mix with all.

A group activity is a great way to make that happen!

California, Here I Come!

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If it wasn’t going to break in half due to a massive earthquake, I would move to San Diego.  I just spent three days there for a meeting and man, is it a cool place!

I first noticed the difference at the airport.  I take people watching very seriously when in public places.  And the people I watched in California were all beautiful!  The women AND the men!  I saw very few who were overweight.  Folks were walking around the airport with skateboards in tow and muscles bulging.

I swear that the Dali Lama and Shirley McLean were on my flight from LA.  “Shirley” looked to be a healthy seventy-something-year-old.  She sat in an airport chair wearing culottes with her legs tucked up under her behind.  She was more limber than my 13-year-old daughter.  Although she had a bit of dangly skin on the underside of her arms, and who doesn’t at that age, her biceps looked as if they could easily hold the weight of her body in an upside down split on a balance beam.

These Californians dressed casually, had unusually bright colors of hair, and seemed to enjoy open toed shoes.  There weren’t a lot of wing tips strolling around LAX, it was FLIP FLOP haven.

The lush plantings all along the 15 minute drive to my hotel were beautiful.  While it was a balmy 95 degrees at home, we ate outdoors each evening with a slight breeze and a refreshing temperature of 70.

I will admit, the local newscast took some getting used to.  One reporter shared that a man had been shot by his car while meditating on the side of the road.  Thankfully, he was going to be OK.  I wonder why he stopped his car on a seemingly busy highway for quiet and relaxation.  Perhaps the traffic was stressing him out.

I haven’t seen that many people mediate on the Raleigh Beltline, but I might try it.

The weather woman for the morning broadcast wore a short, puffy, bright pink skirt.  Her black blouse was fitted – VERY fitted (and there was a lot to fit.)  I sort of felt like Katy Perry was delivering the five day forecast.  Oh, and I swear she was wearing medium length black socks with her high heels.   It was early, and they only showed her feet once.  Maybe that was just a dream.  High heels and socks?  That’s not something you see at the Fayetteville mall much less on the news in North Carolina.

I return next year for a conference, and I think I’ll stay a while.  Just breathing their air makes me feel all tingly inside.

The Dj’s Calling My Name

Bruce and Bailey Dancing 2

I remember several dances in high school – Elizabeth Hall was my girlfriend.  Like other couples at that odd stage of life, I put my hands cautiously on her hips.  Her arms were draped around my neck.  We weren’t like Sam and Diandra, they were clearly more comfortable with each other than we were.  I don’t think the Keywanett dance was the first time he’d cozied up to her.

In college, I took social dance as a PE elective.  There were more girls than guys in the class which was a bonus for a Freshman who was desperately trying to expand his social circles.  We learned the Fox Trot, the ChaCha, the Waltz and, most importantly, how to Shag.  Next to public speaking, that was the most practical class I took at NC State University.  I use the knowledge gained from Roxanna, our instructor, much more than my understanding and memorization of the Periodic Table in Chemistry.  Perhaps important for some careers, there is scant opportunity at the YMCA to put to use the fact that Berkelium has 14 known isotopes and that its atomic number 97.

One night after my class ended, I persuaded a group of friends to join me at Cheers, a local club, that had three distinct dance rooms:  pop, country and beach music.  It was there I decided I’d focus more on my beach dancing skills.

We were in the pop club and had run into my ex-girlfriend.  She had dumped me the week before, and it was important that I impress her.  I wanted her to get a real sense of what she was missing.  There was a large area where folks would congregate to show off their moves, but the pinnacle was to make your way to the front where there were several elevated stages, a place for the advanced to exhibit.   One stage was set apart with vertical bars as if you were dancing in a cage.  I grabbed a friend, and we forcefully jumped in front of others so that I could be on display for all, and particularly my ex to see.

It started out well but deteriorated quickly.

As Michael Jackson belted out You wanna be startin’ somethin’, you got to be startin’ somthin’, my red bottomed Dirty Buck landed on a piece of ice the previous entertainers had left.  My leg popped out from under me, and I did the most amazing, yet unexpected, split one could imagine.  I worked diligently to pop back up as if simply completing a planned John Travolta Saturday Night Fever maneuver.  It didn’t work.  It was clear to all who saw me this was ugly; a spontaneous accident.

My focus away from spastic, freestyle gyrations to more controlled movements led me to observing and working to perfect the more cautious Shag.  It is amazing how many genres of music this dance can endure.

Some couples learn to move in sync, to anticipate the other’s next step on the floor.  Lisa and I had gotten to that point.  We even practiced in the kitchen, killing time while waiting for the ground beef to brown.

There have been moments over the past six years when I thought I would never enjoy dancing again.  But, I am fortunate to have three daughters!  I have taught all three the basic Shag steps.  And now, they happily fill in when the dj calls my name.  With three, my dance card stays full all night long.

My niece told me that young folks her age don’t know how to dance.  I think, for the most part, she’s correct.  Hopefully my girls can pass along what I’ve taught them to future generations.  Without their guidance, I shutter to think of my grandsons trying to impress girls on the dance floor with my gene pool.

The Wedding Singers

IMG_3069

It has become sort of a Tanner family tradition to perform a song cracking on the bride and groom at family weddings.  I have to give credit to Lisa and Uncle Jesse for starting this custom.  My, has it brought joy to my life.

One of our first was Aunt Sallie.  This past weekend, my niece and now nephew-in-law.  It is so much fun to bust on your relatives when they can’t really respond…

My how we’ve grown…

For the right price, we will come insult you at your most tender moment.  Just give us the nod!

 

Feeling Naked

smithfield-s-chicken

Of course, I’ve been in many locker rooms in my life.  Some with separate showers, some “gang” style.  In middle school, I went through the typical 12 year old “mooning” stage, a male, pre-teen rite of passage where you bare your bottom in an effort to garner outrage from girls of a similar age.  I have no qualms going to the bathroom outside on a camping trip – seems like a natural, comfortable thing to do.  But this past weekend, I was shocked at the troublesome feelings conjured up while in a Smithfield’s Bar-B-Q restaurant off I-85 in Henderson, NC.

We were on our way to Lake Gaston with friends for the Memorial Day weekend.  Although I like North Carolina Bar-B-Q, I always feel a bit grease laden after visiting Smithfield’s.  Perhaps it is the fast food nature of their establishment or the fact that the nearest thing to a vegetable I see on the menu is a French fry.

After ordering, another adult on the trip decided to wash her hands prior to partaking in the meal.  Considering all I had touched since my last scrub, I followed her lead.  Instead of walking all the way to the bathroom, my friend stopped at a wall right beside the ordering counter.  As she rolled up her sleeves, I noticed there was a sink, like the one in your bathroom, attached to the wall… in the middle of the dining area.  Catherine pumped the soap dispenser and commented that it was weird to scrub with others around.  When she finished, I stepped up.  As I turned on the water, I immediately had the sense that I was doing something extremely inappropriate.

I reasoned with myself, Danny, you’re just washing your hands, there is absolutely nothing wrong with what you’re doing.  And yet, I felt as if I was exposed.  Naked.  Visually sharing a private piece of me that no one else should see.

The water ran over my palms.  I glanced around.  I swear a burly dude with a huge eagle tattoo on his forearm was eyeballing me.  I’d been looked at that way before – by a big cleavaged woman in Vegas.  She was looking for dollars.  I’m not sure what he wanted.

There are just certain things you shouldn’t do in front of others and not only the obvious.  You should not iron in front of those unrelated to you.  It is personal.  You should not pluck your eyebrows in public.  Cutting toenails is private, although I did that once in an airport on an unexpected flip flop day.

And apparently, washing hands is a no-no outside the comforts of a small enclosed restroom.  If I were Catholic, I would confess.  I just feel like I did something wrong.

These Horrible Teachers

Mean Teacher

It has to have something to do with the folks who are drawn to teach high school.  The elementary school teachers our family has encountered have been wonderful.  The middle school teachers as well.  And now that we’ve gotten through a semester of college, it seems that the only ones with the problems are that dag burned senior high bunch.  Somewhere around 9th or 10th grade, the people leading my children in their classrooms change.  It happened with DJ, and now it is happening to Stephanie.  Poor souls.

These people are apparently, “trying to kill” my kids.

I’m not clear on the method, but upon entering high school, almost daily, and for nearly four years without ceasing, a child at my dinner table informs me that at least one, and often more, of their teachers, are “TRYING TO KILL” them.

I am dismayed to discover that not only are they trying to get rid of my children, but they are also doing the same to EVERY other kid at their school.  This is a cruel group of adults.

“EVERYONE IS FLUNKING MATH,” I am told when my child confesses to a less than worthy grade.

School administrators should really do something about that.

“Is Ashley flunking too?” I inquire.

“Dad, SHE’S a genius!  But EVERYONE else is FLUNKING!  I know I only got a 73 on the test, but Ann Marie got a 62!”

“I’m so proud.  You weren’t the very worst.”

“Oh, and EVERY girl in that class has a tutor.”

“Mmm.  Well I saw Grace’s mom the other day, and she didn’t mention a tutor.”

“Well, I’m not sure about Grace, but EVERYONE else does.”

“Does Sarah?”

“I DON’T KNOW ABOUT SARAH!!  But Lilly does.”

“So how many girls are in the class?”

“Like 18.”

“So out of 18, you are firmly aware that one has a tutor?  That is like 5%.”

“I’m sure there are more.”

“Mmm.”

The other day I discovered that another teacher had given an exam and had not covered any of the concepts that were on the test prior to.

“Dad, I didn’t do very well on my math test.”

“Why?”

“Because she tested us on material that she had NEVER covered in class.”

“She didn’t cover any of it?

“No.”

“Well, she should be fired.”

“I agree.”

A friend told me his son got a B in PE.  Not unheard of, but this high school boy is one of the strongest athletes at the school.  When my friend asked his son how in the heck he managed to not ace physical education, his son informed him that the teacher was making them write down the rules of volleyball for a grade.

“Don’t you know the rules of volleyball?” his dad inquired.

“Yes I do.  But dad, you aren’t supposed to WRITE in PE!  So I didn’t so the assignment.”

My friend then informed his son that if he ever got a B in PE again, his life would radically change.  He son questioned what that meant.  My friend simply said, “Get that B, and you’ll find out.”

I am sometimes amazed at at what my children will do to lengthen a writing assignment.  Apparently you can go into a Word document and increase the font size of your periods.  On a five page paper, that adds about four 52 characters.  They only have to stoop to these elongating tricks because their teachers assign unreasonably long papers.

When DJ was a sophomore, I was so concerned at the ineptness of one of these instructors that I set a meeting to confront her unprofessional behavior.  It was interesting that she saw things differently than my daughter.  I was a bit embarrassed.  Now, I do a little more investigating before zinging off a terse email to our school’s headmaster about the lack of intellectual prowess of her staff.

I am a lucky dad.  I have three very smart and capable kids who do very well in school.  Thank goodness, considering the teachers.

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