The Dowry

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She’s the one in white!

Two weeks ago, DJ “came out” to society.  She was a North Carolina Debutante – WHOOP WHOOP!  And now, it is time for her to get married.  I mean, she IS 19, and she has officially been presented.  Time is a wastin’.

To my knowledge, she has not had one proposal since the Ball which was on September 9.  What the heck fellas?  Her date was worthless.  They’re “just friends,” and I don’t even think he wants to get married right now.  What’s up with that?

Get the lead out men!  We can’t wait forever!

To encourage some movement from the male species, I thought I’d list a few things that come with her.  Her dowry.

Of course, me, which I would think should be enough.  Who would not care for Danny Tanner in his aging days?  I’m like a barrel of monkeys.

In addition, I’d like to offer a few other items of enticement.  Spread the word readers!

  • An inordinate amount of plasticware. Every time I have a party, I buy a HUGE box of forks, spoons and knives.  I have a fear of running out of plastic eating utensils.  I don’t have the same number of each, but am particularly heavy on the spoons.
  • A full set of tan towels. OK, they’re old, from my college days, and won’t go but one shower without emitting a cooked in sour smell, but they are BROKEN IN and feel great on the bod.
  • A box of handwritten AP Biology notebooks…just in case there’s a future surgeon interested…
  • An octopus cake pan – not sure where it came from but I bet you’d struggle to find another one like it.
  • DJ’s car (and the insurance payment).
  • A slightly worn picnic table, an old lawn mower (I’m sure it would crank with a little TLC), and a weed eater with only one wire. I’m assuming you’d buy a house near me with a yard for my grandkids.
  • A large box of number 2 pencils (in various stages of sharpening).
  • Her college tuition bill.
  • And… a green frog butter holder (great for rubbing down a cob of corn).

In addition, if you decide to elope, I’ll toss in an additional $500.

All inquiries should be sent either to DJ directly or to my email (I’ll forward them):  therealfullhouse@gmail.com.

We’re ready to go (well, I’m ready and am sure I can persuade the eldest)!

Debutante in the House

deb·u·tante

ˈdebyəˌtänt/

noun

  1. young woman making her first appearance in fashionable society

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Interesting that I could sire one of these.  In the south, this is tradition.  In Raleigh, apparently, you don’t have to have a prominent father to be one.  Her mother was, however, a deb although a few years before my time.

DJ made her debut last weekend at the 90th annual North Carolina Debutante Ball.  It was a hoot.  Great fun was had by all.

DJ brought a gaggle of friends from George Washington University to view.  Two were from North Carolina; they understood.  One was from the British Virgin Isles – she sort of understood.  One was from New Jersey and gay.  He did not.  In fact, although he was excited to come south, he wanted to make sure that we would let him into our state.  We assured him it would not be a problem and coaxed him with a promised trip to Bojangles.  From my vantage point, he was the funnest person at the event with perhaps the exception of Uncle Jesse who wore black basketball shoes with his tux (dad, I know funnest is not a word).

I’ve learned a few things through this process.

There are not a lot of long dresses in Raleigh, NC, for young women ages 13 – 16.  Some stores have like one.  If I was shopping for great grandma, we’d be good.  But teens, not so much.

We finally found a killer gown (never, ever thought I’d be shopping for a gown) for Stephanie.  It was WAY on sale and was missing a hook, so they took another 15% off!  Whoop Whoop!  I was stoked.

Then, I took it to get the hook fixed and to get it hemmed.  It had several layers.  The alterations cost more than the damn dress.

Like it cost $8 to get my pants hemmed, with a cuff.  And there are two legs.  So I was thinking it might be $15, maybe $20 for this little ditty simply because the material looked more dainty and complicated. Nah.  Try $80.  Un.

At one point in the weekend, DJ came downstairs to ask me which earrings to wear to our father/daughter luncheon.  She had one in each ear.  The left had a gold hoop.  The right had another gold hoop.  “Which one looks better?” she asked.

“They are the same.”

“Dad, one is thinner but a bigger hoop.  The other is thicker with a smaller hoop.”

“I don’t see why you own both of those.  They are the same.”

It was like me going upstairs to her room and asking if I should wear navy pants or dark blue pants.

She went with the thicker which looking back on it was a good decision.  Made the outfit, and everyone’s afternoon was better.

Did you know that high heels could make your toes bleed?  These were not parties that you could easily toss your shoes off.  There were like people with hose and stuff there.  So DJ kept her stilts on all night and when she returned home, the damage was done.  Jesse had the right idea, tennis shoes.

I also discovered that it takes three people to get a long dress zipped.  Of course, the wearer, who has to hold her arms up and suck it all in.  Then there is the zipper puller upper who also has to hold the bottom of the dress tight so there is tension for the zip.  Finally, there is the dress holder togetherer who grabs the two unzipped pieces of dress and tugs them toward each other so the zip puller upper can do his/her job.  Once everything is tightly secured, the pieces all seem to drop right back into place.  It is truly amazing.  It is like putting up the walls of a house.

I wore white tie, or full evening dress, to the ball.  This included gloves.  At first I thought perhaps they were going to make us play handbells.  Our church bell choir always wears gloves.  We did not play bells.  I’m not sure why we wore them.  It was not even cold.  Very inconvenient.  Do you know how hard it is to text with formal, white gloves on?

Regardless, we had a blast, and now my oldest daughter is available for marriage.  We already have her wedding dress.

Next week’s post will be about her dowry.  Please be thinking of eligible dudes.

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ALICE

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I first met Alice when I was about 10 years old.  She’s a South Carolina ghost, and the stories of her left me many sleepless nights.

She lived in the mid 1800s at her family’s seaside home at Murrell’s Inlet.  While on vacation in the 1970s, my family happened on her home place, the Hermitage, and an older gentleman, a family descendent, invited us in for a tour and shared her story.  Apparently Alice fell in love with a dude that her brother disapproved of.  She left home for school and married the outsider.  When she returned to the Hermitage, she wore her wedding ring around her neck to conceal her disobedience.  When she became sick with scarlet fever, the ring was discovered.  Her angry brother grabbed the ring and tossed it into the marsh surrounding their home.  She died shortly after.  Her family was so mad that the only thing they put on her gravestone was her first name:  ALICE.

The story I remember is that if you run around her grave 14 times backwards, lie down, and truly believe, she will appear.

So being in the area for Labor Day, I felt obligated to take Stephanie and Michelle to see her.  We were so busy throughout the day that we didn’t get the chance to visit her until Sunday night.

We pulled up to the cemetery at 10:30.  PM.  The wrought ironed gate had a sign that said OPEN FROM 8 AM TIL DARK.  It was dark, so I interpreted that we were within the rules.

As I walked toward the back of the graveyard, Stephanie pulled on my left arm while Michelle pulled on the right both leaning toward the parking lot with full force.  I felt like a mule pulling a wagon.  My body leaned forward dragging them toward our destination.  Although their body language said otherwise, I could tell they wanted to be there.  I had not physically put them in the car.  They came on their own accord.

As we passed the small stone church, a huge spotlight shone in my eyes.

I’ll have to admit it startled me.  I thought someone was standing there with a lantern.    Regaining my composure, I broke away from the girls long enough to figure out where Alice lay.  I called them over when I found her.

There were rings and some money on the slab of marble that defined her resting spot.  Others had been there to pay their respects.

I was hopeful.  I believed.  I ran around, backwards, fourteen times.  I settled on my back hopeful she’d make an appearance.  The girls huddled nearby expecting my next move.

I worked hard to be still long enough to build up a decent level of anticipation.  And then, with the energy of a five-year old, I leapt up, arms high in the air, screaming like a little girl, “There she is!!  On the fence!  Run!  Run!”

My long legs passed them before we got to the gate.  I bolted across the two lane road to the car, jumped in and locked the doors.

As they beat on the car windows I regained my composure, in short time opening the doors.  I assured them I had not intentionally locked them out.  “I just got worked up.”  Wise, they did not buy my story; any of it.

As we drove home I finished the tale.

“Alice follows those who visit.  When all are asleep, she pulls on the fingers of all the girls looking for her wedding band.

Whew.  Tonight I’m very thankful that I’m a boy.”

Frippin’ Termites

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I was determined.  I knew it wasn’t my gift set, but what was I to do?

Over the past six months, my mailbox has slowly shown signs of its demise.  After work, I’d walk to the street and pull down its lip.  Day by day it became shakier; clearly rotten wood near the ground.

Each time I’d approach, I would cross my fingers.  Let her live one more day, I’d beg the mailbox god.  But one Friday afternoon, I pulled, and she fell – smack dab on Dellwood Drive.  My J Crew catalog and Ad Pack tarnished and wrinkled from their asphalt demise.  A pack of termites were feasting like a family reunion at Thanksgiving.  I considered what might be next.  Are they secretly consuming my house?

I questioned to no avail:  God, why did you make termites?   And taxes by the way?

I searched the internet for mailbox fixers.  There is no such thing.  This was a job I would do on my own.  How hard could it be?

I put on my work boots and set out for the Home Depot.  That place freaks me out.  I’m always afraid the high shelves are going to collapse on me.  I had a great-uncle who was wounded by a falling Depot item, and he was never the same.

I have no remembrance of how the last mailbox was installed.  I’m guessing my father, a man of many talents, was the culprit.  I’m sure I assisted by holding a nail and providing the lemonade as he dug the hole, but I’m certain I did not go it alone.

This time was different.  I am 50.  At some point, a man has to do what a man has to do.

I went to three neighbors searching for a post digger.  I called my best friend; he’s a tool guy.  Nada.  Who in the heck is planting our Raleigh mailboxes?  We all have one!  Someone has to have an appropriate weapon.

Finally, Charlie came home.  He lives next door, and although he didn’t have exactly what I needed, he did have a slender shovel that would certainly do the job.

I dug and I dug – far enough from the current post that the family of insects would have quite a journey to move their little get together.  And this time, concrete!  Ahh.  Try to eat that, and you’re little white winged ass is gonna end up at the insect dentist with a broken bicuspid.

When I tired from the hole, I erected my new post.  I went across the street to measure.  Robbie’s mailbox crossbar came up to my love handle.  Mine appeared to be slightly higher.  But again, I was tired of digging.

I removed the post and dumped in the bag of quick dry concrete.  As I poured the water and repositioned the post, it occurred to me that I might not have taken into account the fact that several inches of gray dust, and water, would lift the entire apparatus.

And now, my mailbox is nipple height.  It is the highest in the land.

Na nan a na boo boo, my box is the tallest…

And Michelle, my youngest daughter is happy.

“Dad, you can’t send me to get the mail anymore, ‘cause I can’t reach it.”

I should stick to desk work.

 

Last First Day

STS last first day

I don’t cook these ideas up on my own.  They usually start as a small seed and then, the fam tends to play off each other and sim sala bim:  magic!

I have been a parent at St. Timothy’s School for 14 years, and actually, Lisa worked there before we had children.  Our family’s history there goes back to 1994.  This year, Michelle, my youngest, is an eighth grader.  When she graduates, we all graduate.

There are some pluses to this forward movement:

No more BINGO night!  This annual fundraiser crams 2,000 people in an unairconditioned gymnasium that was built for 50.  The Donovan family ALWAYS wins something.  In 14 years, we have never even left the place with a Chic Fil A coupon.

No more meet the teacher events!  I have met them.  I have socialized with some.  I can tell you the books we will read in eighth grade lit.  I know that my kids will write an essay for the Daugther’s of the Revolution and some lucky sucker will get chosen to represent our school on the district level of this prestigious contest.  Aren’t these daughters dead yet??

Overall though, leaving this place is going to be difficult.  We have a lot of feelings and memories tied to this sweet place.

So, DJ, Stephanie and I decided that on Michelle’s Last First Day of school at St. Timothy’s, we should celebrate.  We weren’t as concerned about recognizing her as beginning our year-long emotional exit strategy.  The Headmaster may have to peel my fingers off of the playground slide at the end of the graduation ceremony in May.

Our first, simple thought was that the older sisters would join Michelle and me at morning drop off on the first day of school.  And then, the what if’s began…

“What if… we all wear old uniforms to school that morning?”

“DJ, can you fit your butt into your middle school skort?”

“I’m insulted you would ask.  I can.  It’ll just be a mini-skort.”

“Dad, you can wear a kid’s sweatshirt.  It’ll be funny.”

“What if we make a poster that says:  Happy Last First Day at STS Michelle?”

“What if we take apples to the teachers?”

“What if we snap pictures, take a box of Kleenex and pretend like we can’t let her go?”

“Pretend?”

When she woke up that morning, I told her that her sisters had decided to go with us to drop her off.  That they wanted to see their former teachers.

She seemed excited.

When they barreled downstairs in her uniforms, with red and blue bows in their hair, she seemed a bit hesitant.

“Are you guys going inside the school with me?”  I could tell she was worried.

“Heck yeah!” her siblings replied.

“Dad, you’re not going to wear that sweatshirt.”

“I’m a bit chilly this morning.”

“It’s over 80 degrees!”

She was fine when we paraded through the office.  The faculty were all in.  When we walked outside toward the courtyard, where the entire STS middle school gathered waiting for the classroom doors to open, DJ yelled out at the top of her lungs:  “This is Michelle Tanner’s Last First Day at STS!  Let’s all celebrate y’all!”

Michelle, who is typically in the middle of our antics quietly whispered to me, “This is awkward.”

A familiar voice from the crowd, one of Michelle’s best friends, responded, “Michelle, your family is weird.”

We beamed with pride at the comment.

As we worked the crowd, she slowly slipped away disappearing into her circle of friends.  Our attentions moved from her to others we’ve seen grow up over the past 9 years.  Hugs, pinched cheeks, photographs, blown noses and fake tears.

At the end of the day, I asked if we totally embarrassed her.  She said no.  Our behavior was not unexpected.  She also said, “It was pretty cool to have you all there.”

Perhaps one of the best things about this small, intimate school environment is that kids and their families can be themselves.  We’ve known most of Michelle’s classmates for years.  They’ve walked through our rough times, and we’ve walked through theirs.  There is a ton of safety and acceptance at our school – and for that, I am thankful.

Musical Memories

Dixie Chicks (2)

Several months ago, DJ texted me to inform me that the Dixie Chicks were playing at Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh on the night that she and Stephanie would be returning home from overnight camp.  I don’t think she asked me to buy tickets; she told me.

I know a ton of their songs, but perhaps the most widely acclaimed, Wide Open Spaces, was released in 1998.  That was a year after DJ was born.  It was also around the time that we purchased a brand new forest green Honda Odyssey minivan with a CD player right in the dashboard.  We had hit the Big Time!

Our oldest child sucked her pacifier to the beat of Where’s Your Trouble and Cowboy Take Me Away.

In the 90’s, I was not a fan of country music.  I was more Earth, Wind and Fire than Miranda Lambert.  But my wife, she liked country, and she made sure that her daughters did too.

As songs were played last night, DJ and I had a ride down memory lane.

When the much slower song, Top of the World, came on, my oldest reminded me that I did not like the tune.  “Remember dad?  You would always fast forward this one.”

“It’s depressing.”

“But I loved it!  When mom was in the car, she would make you play it.”

“I don’t specifically recall.”

Toward the end of the song, there is a long pause.

“And every time we got to this part, you would press the skip button.”

“It’s a long pause, I’m sure I thought it was over.”

“And then I would cry and mom would make you rewind so I could hear the end, which is the best part of the song.”

“I still don’t love this song.  Makes me want to cry.”

When they played Stevie Nick’s Landslide, I was reminded how Lisa and I got into a feud about whether they were singing the word “older” or “bolder” at a certain point in the song.  I did not recall this dialogue either.

“Dad, it was a big deal.  You were both insistent that the other was wrong.”

Isn’t it interesting what kids watch and remember?

Of course, I was too cheap to purchase good seats for the concert so we were on the lawn in beach chairs.  But I was glad.  The view of the open sky was amazing that night, and there was one star that shone regardless of where the clouds moved.  I think I know why.

Oh to be thirteen…

I can’t  believe that I was once one of them:  a middle school boy.

Two weeks ago I chaperoned our church middle school mission trip.  The three adults sat with our youth on the front row of the church the Sunday that we departed.  Late in the service, we all stood up front so the minister could “commission” our group which includes a charge to spread Christ’s love throughout the world.

We were all wearing shorts that day, ready to depart at noon.

Mid point in the service, our youth director looked down as the 12-year-old beside her took full use of the ink pen on our weekly visitor register.  His ball point was steady on his buddy’s right leg.  And what might one guess this young man would draw?  A penis.  Yes, he used the pen from the Friendship pad to draw private parts on his friend’s leg.

I didn’t see it myself which is a good thing.  Because I fear I would have rolled under the pew with laughter.  Although grossly inappropriate, it is perhaps one of the moments I will most remember from my years in church, right after my baptism and being ordained as an elder.

What are these dudes thinking?  Or are they?

If there is a deck of cards in view, they pick it up and begin flipping the cards all over the room.  They flip cards at windows, heads, legs, girls, the floor, the ceiling, the wall – I bet I picked up 6,800 cards that week.  And I nagged so much just to ensure that they would occasionally sleep and not forget to change their clothes, I found it easier to clean up myself than to ask them to help.

There were actually two church groups spending the week together in Asheville.  Although we separated during the day, at night we had programs as a large group.

On Tuesday, we visited a Labyrinth.  Our goal was to quietly walk the maze-like path while praying and pondering.  The boys took this as an obstacle course; a challenge to see who could run through the quickest.

Afterward, we all stood in a large circle on a concrete pad.  I had a clear view of one young man who was directly across from me.  His finger was lodged into his nose so far up you could not see his knuckle.  The girl beside him was from the other church and was staring at him with a look of disgust and amazement.  I could see her thought bubble, Is he really digging into his nose right here beside me?  Could he possibly get it any further up?  Can he possibly be my same age?

As his finger disembarked and he relaxed his arm beside him, the group leader announced to all, “Now grab the hand of the person beside you, we are going to pray.”

I wanted to save her.  I could handle a boogered hand much better than she.  I considered diving in between them, grabbing his snot remnanted digit so she would not have to.  But it was too far.  I could not get there in time.

Bless her heart.  I wonder what she thought as we all bowed to God.

Girls at that age are advanced.  Michelle and her friends were having intelligent conversations with the chaperones, listening to music, and braiding each other’s hair.  Calm, cool, and collected.

The boys were were walking around like Beavis and Butthead.

That’s why I volunteer with middle schoolers.  They are incredibly interesting.  Incredibly funny.  Unpredictable.  Pushing the limits.  Full of life.

I had a late birthday for my grade.  I’m a September baby.  My mother has repeatedly told me she should have held me back.  Although I’m fifty, my maturity level is the same as a 26-year-old woman.  Some things never change.

 

 

What’s My Role?

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I had the opportunity to chaperone our middle school youth group’s trip to Asheville, NC, this past week.  Asheville Youth Mission is a Christian organization that coordinates service opportunities for groups throughout the year in and around their mountain town.  We took 13 teenagers and experienced six mission placements in a week.

We worked at Manna Food Bank where Michelle, four other kids and I “got” to rip open hundreds of mesh bags full of rotten, slimy okra and toss them into a compost pile.  There was gagging and one episode of vomiting.  Not me or my child.  Michelle is used to disgusting food.  She was just thankful that she didn’t have to eat it for dinner this time.

We planned a pirate party at a day care center for adults with severe intellectual disabilities.  We shared some great jokes with our new friends:

What’s a pirate’s favorite country?

Arrrrgentina!

I left that afternoon both uplifted and incredibly grateful for my healthy children.

This was my second year at AYM, so I wasn’t surprised that I would be spiritually and emotionally moved at some point during the week.  I just didn’t know how.

Day 1 was the okra; not moving – emotionally or spiritually.  Perhaps gastronically, but that’s about all.

Day 2, however, hit me hard.

We pulled up to Hinds Feet Farm around noon.  It was not a corn field.  It was actually a safe place for people to go who suffer from traumatic or acquired brain injuries.   These adults come to Hinds Feet Farm, held in the back of a church, daily, where they build friendships and participate in programs.

I was fortunate to break bread with Sarah, Jay and Vanessa, three of about 15 present last Tuesday.  Jay immediately shared that Sarah was his wife; they both wore wedding bands.  Sarah clarified that their marriage was spiritual, that at this point they were unable to live together and had not yet had an official ceremony.

After lunch, several of our new friends shared their stories.  We learned that Sarah and Vanessa had been in car accidents.  Vanessa’s was three days after she turned 16.  Jay was hit in a brawl, fell backwards, and suffered significant bleeding on his brain.

Although their stories were inspiring, it was the lessons they shared that really hit home with me.

Each told us that they were intelligent; that they weren’t scary; that they just struggled with speech and with memory.  They asked us to treat them like real people.  Not to shy away from them.  Not to assume they aren’t smart.

As I listened to them, I thought about all that is going on in the world today.  Perhaps part of their struggles was my fault.

I don’t hang out with anyone who has a traumatic brain injury, so I simply don’t understand.  In fact, I don’t really hang out with Muslims, the homeless, those outside of my socioeconomic sphere, transgender folks, etc., etc.  Sure, I have acquaintances at work and throughout the community who are different from me, and, they are some of the nicest, most engaging people I know.  But I’m not eating dinner with them on Saturday night.  Instead, I spend my free time with my family (all lily white, middle class, southerners), and friends from church or clubs or my neighborhood (most lily white, middle class, southerners).  I’m guessing it is difficult to truly understand others if you don’t spend significant time with them.  In fact, Sarah said with slow, slurred speech, “You can’t understand if you don’t walk in someone else’s shoes.  And your feet are probably the wrong size.”  I think I should at least try them on.

At times, I get so frustrated with the unrest in our world.  Things seem so dire.  And yet, if I’m honest with myself, I can’t say that I’m doing anything to make it better.  Perhaps I should spend a bit more time pondering my role in all of this.  And maybe I should work a bit harder to connect with those who don’t look, act and think just like I do.

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.