ooops Dad


On Tuesday I received this text from DJ, my oldest daughter, who is away at college:

So I brought this dress for our next two sorority events and I accidentally put it on your credit card

I’m wondering how that happened…

Did the card fall out of her wallet and accidentally get lodged in the chip reader???

You accidentally spill your lemonade.  You accidentally break a vase, like when Greg and Peter Brady tossed the basketball inside the house and then didn’t tell their mom because Peter was afraid she wouldn’t let him go on his first camping trip with the guys.  That’s an accident!

DJ emphasized in a follow-up conversation that she could wear the dress TWICE!  I don’t understand how that is connected to the inadvertent charge.

And besides, is wearing a garment two times supposed to make me feel better?  I buy a suit and wear it weekly for decades.  My $500 purchase averages out to about 48 cents per wear.  Her $150 dress?  $75 each time she puts in on.  What’s up with that?

She told me not to worry about the charge, that we could discuss it when she is home for fall break.  That’s called a stall tactic.  She knows I’ll be so glad to see her in two weeks that I’ll forgive her “mistake” and pay for the frickin’ frock.

I’m such a pushover.

No More Frozen Foods For Me!

I may NEVER go to the grocery store again.

Did you know that for $4.95, the Harris Teeter will allow you to pick out your grocifery needs ONLINE, and they will do the shopping for you?  Hallelujah!  Praise to the gods of innovation and technology.  Why would any of us ever, ever, ever, ever step foot back in frozen foods?

The grocery store is cold!

One can never find cornstarch!

My basket always has a bum wheel that clacks throughout the store!  And people glare at me as if I am responsible for grocery cart maintenance.

When I run into friends at the store, they always seem a bit judgy about my choice of foods – I can see it in their eyes.  YES WE DO eat sugary cereals and Cheese Nips.  You got a problem with that Miss Organic Produce, Boxed Wine Drinker?  I see what’s in your cart too…

I sat in my bed in boxers, no shirt, last weekend and clicked my way through canned goods, fresh fruit and the store bakery.  And on Tuesday, at 5, I pulled up to the HT, not exiting my car, and pressed a little button:


This is your personal shopper, can I get your name please?

 Tanner, Danny Tanner.

 I’ll be right out with your order.

Why thank you.

I then checked email on my phone while my PS retrieved my goods from the walk in fridge.

As I sat there, I scoffed at the pitiful folks passing by my car headed to and fro parking spots afar.

College dude making a beer run…


You should be studying!!!


Soccer player, clearly exhausted after practice…


You should be resting!!!

Ba ha!

Older folks who shouldn’t have to be hauling out these heavy bags…


Shouldn’t you be a Happy Hour?

Tisk, tisk, tisk…

And you?  There are criminals at large!


Man, oh man…

When my PS brought out the goods, she thoughtfully explained that they were out of chicken flavored Rice O Roni so she made the decision to substitute with Uncle Bens.

“Excellent choice!  I would have done the same.”  It’s as if we are twins from a different mother.


When I shared my new found glory, some friends questioned if I selected produce.  As if I didn’t trust PS with those sorts of decisions.

CHECK OUT THESE PEPPERS… I couldn’t have chosen better myself.


Alcohol?  No problem.  She swiped my credit card on a handheld device and checked my I.D. in the parking lot.


Now, if I can figure out a way to get someone to put these items in my cabinets, I’ll be golden.

Ninety-six Percent

I was at a concert last Friday night – it was an event for work.  I was excited when I ran into an old friend.  He knew Lisa.

I asked how he was doing.  He said, “96% great!  4% could be better.”  He teared up.  “Your experience taught me that can change at any given moment.”

I had some times where finding 4% good was a struggle.

My former boss gave me a journal the day after Lisa was diagnosed with cancer.  He told me to write down blessing that we found throughout the ordeal.  He had a son who had struggled with major health issues early in life.  He and his wife found value in listing the good things.

Lisa and I looked.  The good was very hard to see; in fact, I’m not sure there was any.

Now that I’m on the other side – much closer to a 96/4 good to bad ratio, you’d think I would spend my time focused on the 96%.  All too often, I zero in on the 4, looking for ways to get to 100.  The sad thing is that if I spend all my 96/4 time focused on the 4, I get no reprieve.  Surely I’ll have more times when the bad is the dominate percentage.  How awful to spend the really good times frustrated on the small things that aren’t going my way.

That 92.3 grade in English is not quite an A.  But it is damn near close!  Perhaps I shouldn’t remind my kid that she missed a 4.0 GPA by only .7 points.  She likely already knows.  Instead, we should have a party to celebrate that high B!

I have one zit.  But dag gone, the rest of my face looks pretty handsome if I do say so myself!

I don’t make as much money as that other dude at work (the one I clearly outperform), but I have a job I love, and I have plenty.

I want my kids to relish in the 96%.  I should too.  Life is so very good so much of the time.  To heck with the bad.  There isn’t really enough to waste time on.

Finding the Parking Lot


I woke her up at 7 AM which was the usual time.  At 7:35, I walked to the bottom of the staircase to give instructions for the afternoon before I left the house.

“Stephanie, please pick Michelle up from school at 5:15.  I’ll be home at 6.”

I heard a scramble.  She had to be at school by 8 and her feet had not yet hit the ground.  She grumbled that she would indeed pick up her sister as instructed.

As I got in my car, I received a text message.

Dad, I don’t know how to get to the parking lot at school.

This was her first day driving alone to school.  This was the first time she had to find her parking space.

I texted back, Didn’t you ride with DJ to school your entire freshman year?  Didn’t you park in that lot for 180 consecutive school days???

The three questions marks that followed my words would come back to haunt me.  They clearly sent the message that I thought she was directionally deficient.  Which she is.  But I didn’t need to remind her at 7:38 AM when she was clearly having a worse than average morning.

She called.  “You are so mean to me!”

“I’m sorry.  I just thought after being at St. Mary’s School for girls for three years, you would know how to get to the parking lot.”

The for girls was unnecessary.  It was like my dad calling me by my first, middle and last name when I was in trouble as a child.  I could have just as easily said school or St. Mary’s.  The for girls was my way of sharing my exasperation that she wasn’t attentive enough to be able to master this seemingly simple task on her own.  Perhaps it was even a dig at women in general, my connotation being that all were directionally inferior to men.

Although I know that not to be true, my youngest daughter perhaps has better directional intuition than I, I did spend the first 18 years of my life with a woman who could hardly find her way out of our driveway.

At one point my mother was driving by herself down I-95 to her parents’ house in Florence, SC, 85 miles due south of Fayetteville, NC, where we had lived for ten years at the time.  She had made the trek with my father monthly for that decade; a minimum of 120 trips.  Likely many more.

In Lumberton, she got off of I-95 south to go to the restroom.  She then got back on I-95 north to complete her trip south.  Forty-five minutes later she was shocked to see road signs welcoming her to the City of Dogwoods.  Yes, she was back in Fayetteville.

There was also the time she drove back from Florence and missed Fayetteville altogether realizing her mistake around Benson, a good 45 minutes north.

I told Stephanie to call me once she got to Hillsborough Street.  That I would try to talk her to the back entrance of the school.  It was a difficult conversation.

“Stephanie, the school is on a square block.  You simply have to follow the streets around it to get to the back.”

She needed more.

“I’m on Hawthorne Street.  How do I get there from here?”

“I don’t know.  I am unfamiliar with Hawthorne Street.  What do you see around you?”


“That is unhelpful.  Do you see any other streets?”

“There is one here called… Beneful or something like that…”

“Beneful?  That’s the powder I put in my juice to stay regular.  Just drive toward the school!  You’re bound to find it.”

And she did, making it to class on time.

I need to watch my words and my tone.  But dag gone, sometimes I just can’t think like they do.

The Dowry


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):

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

Debutante in the House




  1. young woman making her first appearance in fashionable society


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.









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


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?”


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.