Late. Again.

bus

I was literally looking down the snout of my long nose at the poor parents who would not have their acts together this year.  I mean, I generally run late, but I have NEVER held up a bus for a school trip.

Last year it was a friend of Michelle’s.  I can’t remember where they were going.  Maybe to spend the night on the battleship in Wilmington.  The charter bus was packed and no Kimmy Gibbler.  All the kids were on, waiting.  I texted her mom.  Are you guys awake.  You know the bus leaves at 6:30.  It was 6:34.

She sent back and expletive – not for me, for herself.  I let them know she was running a bit late.

I had compassion, but I’ll have to say that on occasion when I get it right, I am so very proud.  I sort of relished in her misery.  I was actually THE parent with HER phone number who got to text and tell her they were late… because I, in fact, was on time!!  I seldom get to do that.  It was quite a treat.

I despise the parents who always get it right.  Their kids are on time.  They don’t forget things.  Their registration form is already in and they had their doctor sign the medical form.  More than once Nurse Huber has scolded me in the halls of St. Timothy’s for my lack of compliance.  I deserved it.  There are just so many rules.  I do not like rules.

Anyway, we were driving up Six Forks Road listening to my new favorite song, Sunday Candy by Chance the Rapper, headed to school for the eighth grade trip to Washington, DC.  I do like to drive up to school blasting new tunes.  Michelle, Stephanie and DJ keep me up to speed on musical trends.

I felt good.  It was 6:25.  The parking lot was less than 2 minutes away.  We could park, grab her bags and walk up the steps to the drop off spot and still be on time.  Score!

As I was waiting to turn off the four lane road into the shopping center parking lot, my phone rang.  It was an unfamiliar number.  It took a second to register.

Son-of-a-&*%#$.

I didn’t answer, but I knew.  I screwed up.

We parked quickly, grab the bags and scurried up the steps.  And there they were – every stinkin’ eighth grader on the bus, and worst of all, many of the parents, standing there wondering why the kids had not yet driven away.

As Michelle and I took the walk of shame, they got their answer.

I couldn’t think of another reason that those parents would stand around outside of the bus except to harass the last person.  The bags were packed, their kids were aboard.  The windows on the bus were tinted so they weren’t gonna wave goodbye.  No, they stood there to find out who the sorry last parent was going to be.  And it was me.

I kissed my kid on the forehead, tossed her bag toward the open luggage chamber at the bottom of the mammoth vehicle, and quickly walked toward my car.  I did not make eye contact with the other, more timely, adults.

The thing I’m most embarrassed about is that I, on my way that morning, seriously thought to myself: I wonder which family is going to hold up the bus this year.  I sort of chuckled to myself as I considered the others who are as disorganized as me.  It won’t be you buddy.  You’re actually early.  You’re such a good dad.

I was congratulating myself on Ridge Road and then got the phone call one street over.  Two exits down the beltline can make all the difference in the world.

 

Not from around here…

I was in San Diego last week for a conference.  It’s a really cool place – with really cool people.

I thought I was kinda cool.  After going there, I discovered I am not.  I am so, so not.

I also thought I was fairly open-minded, accepting of others and new ideas.  But maybe not so much either.

On Friday night, I went out in the Gaslamp neighborhood.  This borough sort of reminded me of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  There was lots to see and do.  Skimpy clothes.  Lots of body art.  Piercings galore.  I’m good with all that.  I actually find it interesting to observe different kinds of people.

What I didn’t expect was a female bathroom attendant in the men’s john!

I walked into a fairly small area, a couple of guys in line before me, and there she was – tending the sink.  I don’t remember what she looked like or what she was wearing.  I tried hard to look the other way.  I did recognize that she was doing a great job of attending.  She’d pump the soap right into your hand and have a drying towel ready when you finished rinsing.  Her counter was full of essentials: hair gel, lotions, cologne.  She even offered a plethora of tobacco products for your liking.

When I approached the urinal, a young dude on my right and she on my left, I thought to myself you ain’t in Raleigh anymore.  Her phone rang, she answered.  The line of full bladders was growing outside the door.

I tried to concentrate for I really needed to go.  But I couldn’t.  There was simply too much for this simpleton.  I walked out as full as I’d entered.

I don’t want to be the person who gets stuck, who can’t accept the progressions of the world.  I could end up having a daughter who decides to build a career in the bathroom service industry.  I don’t want to thwart anyone’s potential.  And I hate this was bothersome to me.  But indeed it was!

My father accepted women Deacons in our church, and he was not raised with that mentality.  Perhaps I too will warm up to this idea.

Longing for Gray

Tampon

I raise money for a living.  I work at a large YMCA in the development office.  Currently we are working on a $117,000,000 campaign which will allows us to build five new YMCAs, renovate several existing Ys and camps, send tens of thousands of children to programs who otherwise could not afford to attend and grow our endowment.  Most people don’t like to ask folks for money.  I got over that about a decade ago.  I just really believe in the work that we do.

I often drive prospective donors around in my car to take them to programs or show them construction sites.  I drive a 2007 Acura MDX.  It’s a nice car that I’ve kept well maintained.  But it is old.  Each time I have an appointment, I try to remember to tidy up my vehicle wanting to make a good impression.

Recently, I pulled up to our downtown Y facility to pick up a couple I had never met.  They were older, a bit reserved.  I had forgotten to tidy.

I opened the car door for the wife and as she climbed in the back of my car, I noticed a number of tampons, in very colorful wrapping, dispersed across the seat and floor.

I dived in before her explaining my situation: “I am a widower and have three teenage daughters…” who apparently want me to get fired!

It used to be Cherrios I’d find strewn about my vehicle.  My how times change.

I don’t get this.  Do they just grab a handful and dash out of the house as if they’re taking mints from the checkout counter at Denny’s?  What good are they to them in the car floor?  Why not in a backpack or purse?

Why are they packaged in the most vivid colors available?  Neon green, yellow and pink.  You can’t miss them.  They glow in the dark.

On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked to hold a stash in my pocket at an event.  I’ve reached for my keys before and had a tampon explosion – dropping them on the floor and having to scurry around to clean up my mess.  At least they’re easy to find.

 

 

I wish women had pockets.  I wish cars had built in hygiene storage compartments.  I wish tampons came in plain, gray packages.

Stephanie, the Pickle Farmer

college visit photo

Another junior, another week of college tours!  Whoa baby.

What a great way to spend one-on-one time with your kid.  A car, a dad, a daughter and 947 miles of walking around college campuses.

The first one was interesting.  It declined from there.

Things I rediscovered about universities and making that all important, life-changing decision:

  • Every school has a blue light emergency system. This is pointed out at all of the schools for parents who are scared to death that their kid is going to be attacked walking across campus at 2 AM.  I am one of those parents.  I like the blue light stations.
  • For a high school junior female on tour, the cuter the male guide, the higher the satisfaction with the college. At Furman, half of the tour was given on long purple golf carts.  Stephanie and I had been near the back of the walking portion of the tour led by a cute, peppy female co-ed.  When the staff member pointed us toward the golf carts for the remainder of our visit, a blonde stud muffin with a million dollar smile stepped out of the driver’s side inviting us to embark.  Stephanie knocked over two other girls, three moms and a grandmother to sit on the row behind Sven.  I glared at her.  “I’m really interested in this college” she defended.  I should arrange for the cuter guides to meet us at the cheaper schools.  Seriously?  We can’t make a decision on where to attend college based on the hotness factor of the dude leading the tour!  That is NOT a good measuring stick.
  • At each school, the first question prospective students are asked is “What are you considering for your major?” Stephanie is undecided although she has some interest in psychology.  I suggested she share her potential major.  She did not.  She didn’t want to commit.  I told her it didn’t matter what she said on tour, that it was not binding – that they would not force her to become a child psychologist simply because she mentioned it in April of her junior year in high school.  As we drove down the highway, we saw a sign for Mt. Olive College (we did not tour there).  But since Mt. Olive is famous for pickles, I suggested when asked about her future vocation at the next stop she say, “I am considering becoming a pickle farmer.”  We wondered how that would go over at Wake Forest.
  • I was aware that most higher learning establishments housed a Starbucks. I was unaware that the most frequently asked question by students on a college tour was, “Do you have a Chic Fil A?”  I do not know why that surprised me.  When DJ went to college in Washington, DC, she picked up jogging as a hobby.  That was shocking since she absolutely HATES to run.  But then, I realized, she was not running for exercise or endorphin pleasure.  She was running to catch the Chic Fil A food truck.  There are no stores near campus so she had an ap on her phone that tracked the vehicle’s whereabouts.  If within three miles of her dorm, she would don the running gear and high tail it to chicken.  By the way, all but one of the universities we visited had a Chic Fil A.  So don’t panic.  One is near.

This is not my last child nor my last week of tours.  Although a bit boring and repetitive, I would not trade this time with my kids for anything.  What an incredible way to get uninterrupted time with someone you love.

An Ode to Nowak

 

Roses are red,

Homework is a bore,

Why do my kids wait to put the massive poetry project together

 the night before?

 

She knew it was coming,

and I did too.

Her sisters made the same mistake,

The night ends with boo – hoo.

 

Due in three weeks,

 she wrote hard for the first.

Then set it aside,

Oh Lord, we’ll be cursed.

 

I got back to the house

at 10 PM from a meeting,

the project was due in 10 hours,

was even too late for some cheating.

 

She wrote haiku, a couplet,

free verse and a sonnet,

Dad, get the glue out and the hole punch,

Although late, I was on it!

 

The writing was easy,

Putting it together was not.

A nice binder, and drawings,

The presentation, a lot.

 

With colored pencils, and crayons

And glue and some tape,

She worked and she worked,

Michelle was up really late.

 

And me, well I watched.

I coached from the side,

And picked up little round papers

from the hole punch til I thought I would die.

 

This is my last child

to learn from Mr. Nowak.

He has motivated my daughters

And taught them Shakespearean clack.

 

 

PHOTO = $100

You can’t do this.  It is illegal!!!  It is unfair.  Re-dic-u-lous!!!

This is the SECOND time that I have received a SPEEDING ticket when visiting DJ in DC.  Yeah.  Bad me for speeding, huh?  WRONG!

They don’t have police up there.  They just put a camera out and take a picture of you and tell you that you owe $100 without any dag gone proof that you have sped.

39 in a 25 zone they say.  Yeah.  Well prove it sucka!  I could take a picture of your damn car driving down the street too and SAY that YOU’RE speeding.  But I got no proof.

What are their policemen doing?  EATING DOUGHNUTS?

Get the cream filled, chocolate covered puff out of your mouth and get to work!  If you want to give me a ticket because I’m speeding, fine.  Do it like a man.  Follow me.  Turn on your stinkin’ BLUE LIGHT, walk up to my window and write out the ticket in cursive!

In Raleigh, our officers will track your butt down, with a vehicle, and give you a citation.  That is fair.  This is NOT.  They can’t even put points on your license for this infraction because it is stupid.  The insurance companies won’t believe them.

I am employed by the YMCA.  I can’t take a picture of someone I perceive to be out of shape, send them the pic, and charge them for a membership.  I have to work for it.  I have to advertise, give them a tour, and convince them that our services would make a difference in their life.

What the heck?

Nuggets from Dad

My mother enjoys sharing helpful little nuggets for life with my brother and me.

This week she forwarded an email that explained how to give yourself CPR in the event you have a heart attack alone.  For those who might find themselves in that situation, apparently you cough like a mad dog.

She has also warned of the foods most likely to contain Salmonella (her favorite bacteria): eggs and chicken; places where snakes might hide in your yard (near heavy shrubbery and near water); and the distance your fecal matter can travel if you flush the toilet with the lid open (2.7 miles).

Because I am becoming my mother, I now pass my own nuggets to my children.

Last week I saw a TV special on the growing use of heroin by teenagers.  Therefore, I sent a group text to my daughters:

I just watched a news segment on heroin use.  They said to tell your kids not to use.  It is bad.  It will kill you.  It makes your skin and teeth nasty which doesn’t even matter if you’re dead.  So stop using heroin if you are and don’t start if you aren’t.

Now I am fairly certain that none of them are on drugs, but I gotta bring the issue up regardless, huh?

These were the follow up texts I received from my children:

Stephanie:  I just threw out my stash and I’m already having withdrawals

DJ:  I’m too addicted I can’t stop

Michelle:  Dad I’m having trouble getting the needle in my vein.  Can you come upstairs and help?

Me:  You guys, this is serious!

They say to talk about issues with your kids from the get go.  So I do.  Sex, drugs, eating disorders, alcohol use – all are fair game.  I’m pretty certain that none of my dad warnings will do much good.  But, my hope is that it will open the doors of conversation, allowing us to be open and discuss whatever comes to mind – even the stuff that is a bit uncomfortable.

 

George Washington’s Coming Hoooome…

4.0.1

This past weekend we went to DC to see DJ. I am glad she is there and not in Bunnlevel, NC. It is a very nice place to visit.

On Saturday, we went to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. I actually learned some things while there.

Did you know that Martha Washington was a young widow with two children when George came into the picture? I had forgotten that fact. He had no biological kids. Interesting.

I think Mount Vernon was a really cool place to live. It sits on the Potomac River with a great view of the water. There is a huge porch and a huge lawn that leads down to the sandy bank. There is also more goose poop in his yard than you could ever imagine. I didn’t see one goose, but I ABSOLUTELY know they live nearby. Must have been out dining at El Rodeo (or El Runnio as one of my family members refers to it) for lunch when we were there. Something is stirring up their gastric systems.

The tour guides said that ahh, can’t remember exactly, but about half of the stuff in the house was original, the other half period pieces they had just collected.

The banister leading to the second floor was installed by Washington – and I touched it. Got his DNA all over my right hand.

They showed a replica of a wagon that was similar to one he owned. Well, maybe not a wagon. It was like a hard dining room chair glued onto a piece of plywood and attached to large wheels. A horse then pulled the apparatus which may have been how he got back and forth to DC. There wasn’t even a seatbelt. My ass would have been on the ground. Head all bashed up on a rock and smeared with goose poo no doubt.

I like cars.

He had his own blacksmith shop on the grounds. How cool is that? Need a horseshoe? No problem. Need an iron poker? Comin’ up. There was actually a dude there cooking up a spoke for a fence while we stood there watching. Unbelievable.  I need a blacksmith shop in my backyard.

They had a fake Martha Washington there. Well, actually she was real, a real person; she just wasn’t the original Martha. She was in a room all dressed up with big white hair talking like she was actually living in the 18th Century. She had a bottle of cologne that she let us smell. She said it was the kind that George wore. It was nice. Probably came in handy since his bathroom was up the street from the house.

Oh, and they had a dung hut, but we didn’t go see it. I’m not 100% sure what a dung hut is, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to work, live or sleep in one.

All in all it was a lovely day. I highly encourage a visit. You may learn something, and you’ll get to see the bed that old George died on. A bit morbid but really kinda fascinating.

The Ninja Masseur

I don’t often get massages.  It is a rare treat.  I once got one in Hawaii.  It was a Lomi Lomi massage.  The woman straddled me on the table.  I nearly had a heart attack.  I thought she was going to murder me.

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to get another.  It was 80 minutes long – also unusual for me.  I’m more used to the hour-long.

This quiet, sort of timid masseur greeted me and escorted me to the room.  It was there he asked me a plethora of questions before I was instructed to “disrobe to my level of comfort” and crawl on the table.

I discovered why this place encouraged an 80 minuter.  It is because he took 20 minutes asking me questions.

“Do you have any medical issues I should be aware of?”

“Is the music choice OK?”

“Is the volume level to your liking?”

“Is the sun bothering your eyes?”

“Do you want the fan on?”

“Do you want me to open the blind?”

“Is the head of the table tilted to your liking?  Is the foot of the table tilted to your liking?”

DUDE!  My liking is for you to rub my back like you’re doing laundry on the prairie!  STOP ASKING QUESTIONS AND GET TO WORK!

“One more question:  Do you want lilac oil, orange blossom oil or oregano oil?”

“Well I don’t want to smell like a pizza, and I don’t want to fall asleep.  I’ll take the orange.”

Maybe it was cilantro – I can’t remember.  But it was something I’ve cooked with before.

So this tiny man started my massage with me on my back.  He took his little fingers and left his prints all across my forehead.  It was like when my kids made fingerprint Easter Bunnies in preschool.

He then began rubbing my ear lobes.  He spent a seemingly inordinate amount of time messing with my ears.  At one point he gently grabbed the inner cartilage and held down toward the bed.  I tried to raise my head.  I could not.  He had me pinned.  It was an incredibly weird sensation – a 175 pound man being held down by his ears.

It wasn’t long after that I discovered this librarian looking fella could have snapped my head off like a ninja.  Some guys don’t like a rub down from another man.  This is strictly business for me.  If the hands are strong, I don’t care if Jack the Ripper is in charge.

He dug down on the knots in my back with force.  He put my stress to shame.  He belittled my tight little muscles.

He asked me if I wanted my stomach massaged.  I asked if it was included.  I didn’t want to pay extra.  He assured me it was.  Then by all means.  My stomach works really hard.  It deserves some attention.

I was a little concerned that the lint in my bellybutton would mix with the orange oil and create some interesting yarn – but what the heck,  it came with the package.

When I turned onto my stomach half way through the glorious experience, he hung a strap under my nose.

“This is frankincense,” he explained.

Me and the baby Jesus. 

“I prefer myrrh.  JK!”

I don’t think he heard me.

Thankfully he left the sheet on my behind when he went to work on my gluts.  He balled up his fist and beat my butt like a toddler to a table when didn’t get what he wanted for dinner.

I’d seen that in the movies, but I hadn’t been spanked since I was a kid.  Sort of surprised me.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the whole experience was when he hit the small gong at the end of my session.  Doing.  He warned me that when I heard that sound, our time together was complete.

He thanked me for my patronage and swiftly left the room.  Another ninja move.

I sat up on my bruised tail and sipped my raspberry water.

What a lovely day it has been, I thought.

UBER

uber

When DJ went to college, I told her I would pay for four things:

  1. Her tuition, room and board
  2. Her books
  3. Her transportation
  4. A set amount of spending money each semester

Numbers 1, 2 and 4 have worked out well.  Perhaps I should gave given a bit more clarity around number 3.

What I meant by “I will cover your transportation” was that I would get her back and forth from school.  It’s a 4.5 hour drive one way.  Sometimes I drop her off or pick her up.  Sometimes she flies.  And sometimes she takes the train.  Yes.  I cover those expenses.  I want her to come home – often.  So I’ll pay.

I also figured, up in DC, that she might buy a Metro card to ride the train to Target or to, I don’t know, Mount Vernon.  I am happy to cover that OCCASIONAL expense.

She took our initial conversation in a different direction…

The UBER direction.

Apparently my credit card is attached to her Uber account, and I just received the bill.

In one month, she charged 18 Uber rides.  She also charged seven “car shares” and one $14 Metro ride.  I don’t even know what a “car share” is.  What I do know is that one shared a car to Maryland on November 17 for $35.75 and another shared a ride back on November 18 for $28.88.  Who in the heck was she spending the night with in a different state?  She says it was a Camp Seafarer reunion.  Yada, yada, yada.  I don’t care if she was spending the night with the Pope… he needs to pick her up from campus in his large white window filled bus.

I asked her, “Are you taking Uber across campus to class?  You can’t do that!  You must walk!  That’s part of the college experience.”

She told me she once went to the zoo, and it was educational.

“Well what about the other 17 rides?”

“Dad, there are two charges for every one destination.  You ride there AND back.”

She did have a point.

She then explained that it could have been worse.  She has often been using UberPOOL which sticks you in a car with complete strangers allowing you to split the cost.  In fact, she forwarded me an email she received from email@uber.com.  It said, and I quote,

WOW!  You’re pretty savvy.  By choosing to ride UberPOOL, you saved $95.55 in 2016.  

She should have forwarded that to me because she didn’t save anything by using UberPOOL.  Cause she didn’t pay for Uber.  I DID!!  We had over $180 worth of transportation charges in the month of November.  AHHHH.

I didn’t know I was going to have to include Uber in my monthly expenditures.  Jimini Christmas!  These girls are slowly breaking me into little, bitty pieces.  I’m a shell of the man I used to be.