My Dad is Awesome

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This coming Sunday is Father’s Day. Naturally, I can’t leave my pops hangin’! I’ve gotta blog about him too. Here are some of the things I think my dad did right.

1. He played with me and read to me.

I remember many, many times when dad would lay down on the floor and play He-Man figures with me. We would sit for what seemed like hours in front of Castle Greyskull. I always wanted He-Man and Skeletor to have parties instead of fight, so that’s what we did. Dad also read books to me regularly. He read book so many times that he started changing the words, to which we would laugh and laugh. It’s a proud tradition that I carry on today when I have to read about Sleeping Beauty and her pet dragon. He also played Joust with me on the Atari 2600. Joust was the only game I could ever get him to play!

2. He ignited my love for bad movies.

I love watching a good movie, but I also love watching terrible ones. I love cheesy, campy nonsense. The kind of stuff where the filmmakers are not entirely aware they are making a bad movie so they just go at it with gusto. I attribute this to my dad. We watched quite a few bad movies together. Dad and I watched the cinematic gem, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. We also watched some movie called, Monster in the Closet or something. Dad was always telling me about this movie, Motel Hell. I finally did get to watch it with him. It was divine in its awfulness. I never did make him watch Manos: The Hands of Fate though.

3. He has a funny sense of humor.

One day my mom made dad and I go to the grocery store. Neither of us wanted to go. So as mom got groceries, we proceeded to lay stinky, nasty farts all through the store. It was hilarious. We will sometimes riff on what we’re watching on TV together. Some horrible tragedy will befall a character and one of us will go, “Don’t be such a whiner!” I’ll never forget the day dad told me the joke about the snowman and his snowpants – that is one of my favorite jokes.

4. He provided an example of a good work ethic.

Now I’m not saying my mom had a bad work ethic. Not even close. They both worked hard, but this blog’s about dad. He worked hard – often 50 to 60 hours a week at a lumber yard. He did this despite the fact that he was what most would call “handicapped.” A disability that would crush weaker men, would make them die inside, limping to the disability office for a check. Well… that disability only pissed dad off. He did more work at that yard than most of the people half his age.

5. He paid the bills.

I know to some people that might not sound like much, but consider this. My belly was never empty. My Christmases were always awesome. I had a Nintendo and a collection of tapes and CDs that was probably the largest in the neighborhood. I never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from. I never had to wonder whether the light would come on when I flicked the switch. My childhood was pretty dang comfortable and I was blessed to have a dad as dedicated to providing for me as he was.

Now, this isn’t a complete list, naturally. I think my dad did more right than I gave him credit for sometimes. We didn’t always see eye to eye when I was a teenager. As I look back I realize how much he loved me (and still loves me) and I am grateful. I love you, Dad!

 

 

Introverts and Pokemon

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My daughter asked me the other day why I was fat. I told her, “because I like to eat and I don’t like to exercise.” She seemed to accept this reason as sensible and logical. My doctor does not. He’ll inform me of my weight like it’s some revelation. “Oh, Sherlock! Brilliant deduction my good fellow! Why, I thought I had worms!” Usually when he informs me of my weight I role my eyes, much like Sherlock does to the British police force when they say something asinine like, “Uh… dis dude is dead.”

My doctor insists I should lose some weight. He is not wrong. I am fat. Comparatively I might not be quite so enormous, but my heart tells me differently. Especially after mowing the lawn in the hot sun. Thump-Thump-Thump it says. However, I know what the translation is: Seriously dude – didn’t God specifically forbid bacon? Sometimes I even think about losing some weight. Maybe perhaps laying off the bacon. Maybe even going so far as to not eat pizza regularly.

Then I go to work.

Folks, I don’t think you realize how much energy it takes for an introvert to do an extrovert’s job. The answer, in case you are wondering, a lot. I don’t have exact figures but it’s something around the 1,000,000 lumins range. No, I don’t know what a lumin is. Anyway, I have to talk to people every day. People I would never choose to talk to of my own free will. Often these people force information on me that I never asked for. An average conversation goes like this:

Me: Well, you have a nice day, sir. Thank you for shopping with us.

Customer: Yeah, man. I got that car from my meemaw five years ago. She didn’t never drive it hardly ever. Then she died and I got it. I took that 302 out and put a 350 in there. It runs great. Never had no trouble with it never – ‘cept this battery. But you know it’s been sitting up for awhile, cuz we don’t never drive it. Meemaw only went to the store and church. But now I drive that car to work and it’s great. Got that 350 in there now that I put in. You know how hard it is to change an engine in one of those things? I had a bugger of a time. We spent all weekend one day – me and my brother and my cousin all tryin’ to figure out how to swap the heads on that thing. Man, I tell you what. But it runs good now. I take it to work everyday…

Me: Uh-huh.

And that’s one of the more pleasant monologues. It didn’t include anything about recent diseases, divorces, incarcerations, or any of the other millions of things people think the parts person wants to hear. Other introverts who’ve read the above exchange have already stopped reading this and locked themselves in their bedrooms just to recharge from this inane story from someone I made up. People, I listen to this all day, every day.

So, yeah… I eat. It’s the only time I can get away. I don’t think that will be ending any time soon. What I really need is a something like a “pocket extrovert” or “Pokevert,” if you will. I know that sounds like someone who wants to have sex with Pokemon, but bear with me – we can always change the name before production begins. I imagine it would work something like this:

Me: Thank you, ma’am. Have a great day!

Customer: Yeah, you know I just got divorced recently. My ex-husband used to do everything with the cars but I don’t know —

Me: I choose you, Pikachu! *throws Pokevert ball*

Customer: What…?

Me: This is Pikachu. He will listen to you. I have other shit to do.

Pikachu: Pika! Pika! Divorce?

Customer: Oh… um… yeah, so I got divorced and……

It would solve everyone’s problems. Then I wouldn’t have to run into the break room to sneak a bite of delicious pizza or chocolate. Surely I could lose weight then!

 

My Mom Is Awesome.

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Sunday is Mother’s Day and I wanted to take a little time to talk about my mother. She’s awesome. I don’t know what my life would be like today without her. A lot of how I think and feel comes from her. So to celebrate I’d like to talk about some specific things I think my mom did right.

1. She didn’t sweat the small stuff.

One of mom’s basic philosophies was, “If it’s not going to be a problem at 15 or 20, it’s probably not that big of a deal now.” This extended to just about everything. Mom didn’t get upset at my progress (or lack of progress) with potty training because she knew I wouldn’t still be peeing my pants when I went off to college. As I got older, she didn’t freak out because I listened to heavy metal. Granted, it was mostly Christian, but some moms I knew just couldn’t handle that. When I wanted to grow my hair long the only rule she had was that I had to keep it clean. She just couldn’t see flipping out over stuff that probably wasn’t going to matter in the long run. Especially since I don’t have any hair now to speak of!

2. She did stuff.

My mom and my aunt drove my cousin and I all up and down upstate New York and Pennsylvania to go to Christian metal concerts. They took us to a music festival at Darien Lake called Kingdom Bound for several years straight. Our family went on cool trips like Niagra Falls. Later, she went to see the Lord of the Rings movies with me. When I was little she would take me on “adventure walks” in the woods near our house.

3. She taught me how to drive.

I can attribute what are possibly the two greatest lessons about driving to my mom. A) Pay attention to everyone and everything because no one is watching out for you and B) You might have the right of way but if you’re not careful you can be just as dead. Heck these days people aren’t even paying attention to what they themselves are doing, let alone what you’re doing. This is exactly what I’ll be telling Lexi when it’s time for her to drive.

4. She let me go.

This is probably the thing I’m the most thankful for. I remember talking with a co-worker who was telling me about his future and how he was moving away. He told me about how his mom was throwing a fit because he wanted to go. I am so grateful my mom didn’t do that. After I graduated college with my fancy-schmancy bible degree I had no future to speak of. A friend offered to let me stay with him for a bit if I wanted to move to Florida. I took him up on the offer because I desperately needed a change. Because of that move I got married and have a kid – two of the best things I’ve ever done. Not only did mom not guilt-trip me, she supported me every step of the way. Even today living so far away I can always call her for advice or just to talk. I consider my mom an actual friend and I think that’s rare and wonderful.

This is in no way a comprehensive list of the things I think mom did well. It’s just the things that stick out right now. There’s a lot of good moms out there, but I like mine the best!

Oh, I forgot. In addition to all the wonderful stuff she does, she also wrote a book. You should totally go buy it either in hardcopy or Kindle form. Book Two should be out soon!

I love you mom!

Little Kids Dancing and Chickens

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My daughter, Lexi, has been taking ballet for about a year now. This past weekend we were treated to the fruit of her labor as her class performed their final concert for the year. I personally, at great expense to myself, sacrificed many hours driving her to her lesson in another town. You might say, “But Adam, doesn’t all that driving mean you get to listen to whole albums uninterrupted? That’s not much of a sacrifice!” You hush. It’s my turn to talk, not yours.

Anyway, my lovely little squeegiedunk had been practicing her dance week after week for months. With the aggressive focus, dedication, we often ascribe to Olympic athletes. “Do you want to play with your ponies?” I would ask. “No, Papa” she would say in a cultured British accent, “I must practice for my concert.” I have no idea where she picked up the accent. It must be all the Doctor Who.

Ha! Ha! I’m kidding of course. I never ask her that because then I have to play with ponies.

Anyway, with all this practice, I knew that when we sat down we were going to be treated to some bonna-fide triple A class dancing. Naturally that is what Lexi delivered. She was the best dancer in the show. She upstaged all of the older girls that had been dancing for almost half a century. She was the epitome of poise and grace. Her lines were flawless. The fact that I am her father almost assuredly has no bearing on my opinion whatsoever.

The other girls in her class… well…

I am not sure they were aware that there was any choreography to begin with. They kind of moved their limbs around haphazardly as though they were told about the dance a mere ten minutes before the show. Let it be known that I do not place any blame with their teacher. I can’t imagine what it’s like to try and get twelve four-year-olds to do anything. Actually, I can imagine what that’s like. I imagine it’s like going into a chicken coop and gathering twelve chickens, getting them into a studio, and teaching them how to dance. “Okay, chickens, first positions!” says the teacher.

Then one of the chickens poops on the floor. Another chicken begins pecking at another chicken for no reason. Then yet another chicken flaps its wings aimlessly in the corner of the studio oblivious to both the other chickens and the teacher. I would imagine that after an hour or so the teacher would just gather up the chickens and head to the nearest Chik-Fil-A. “Here,” she says dumping a bag of chickens on the doorstep. “I hope they’re delicious because they’re terrible dancers.”

In other words, I’m amazed that the kids did anything at all! I’m more amazed that their instructor can still speak in complete sentences and walk around like all that chicken-wrangling is no big deal. Oh great… now I’m hungry for chicken.

 

Writer’s Block

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It sure is hard to write sometimes.

Well, hard to think of things to write at any rate. I certainly don’t mean that sitting here on my couch and typing words with no pants on is hard work. Not that I’m sitting here with no pants on, no sir. Now I am somewhat acquainted with actual hard work. I once worked construction for a few months while living in Florida. I spent a few days lugging around cement bricks for no good reason. I’ve climbed up on precarious scaffolding to put up paint shields. I watched my friend and coworker almost hack his hand off with a grinder. I’ve also dug an actual ditch so when I say I’ve “spent time in the trenches” I am not, as my grandparents might say, “whistling Dixie.”

But sit here and think of something funny to write? Honestly, sometimes I’d rather dig the ditch[1].

I don’t know how it is for actual writers but for me all the stuff comes from my “energy bucket.” If I have a lot of energy it’s easy to come up with funny stuff. If I have no energy, writing something is like trying to get the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. Or trying to coax the last drop of ketchup out of a bottle. In other words, way more of a struggle than you would think. This is weird because I think of funny stuff all day.

For instance, while at work the other day a male co-worker was about to swat me in the head with a sales paper. “You had a bee on your head,” he said. I then suggested that if he were to “help” me in this manner I might “help” him with the bee that had just landed on his groin area… with my fist. I had a very clear image in my mind of punching this young man square in the crotch and then saying, “You had a bee on your junk. But I got it for ya.” I thought this was hysterical.

But man, I’m sitting here with no wife or child in the house and I cannot think of a single funny thing to write. I think it’s because my bucket is always empty. When I’m not at work helping a woman get wiper blades for a car that she doesn’t know the year, make, or model of, I’m at home. At home I’m doing puzzles, playing with ponies, or trying to make our house not look like an episode of Hoarders. All that activity empties the bucket and I feel like a pumpkin with the insides scooped out.

Sometimes I don’t even have the energy to play video games. I know, right? Ridiculous! Ah, the life of the husband and father. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.[2]

 

[1] That is, dig a ditch in either Florida or Georgia. Where there are no actual rocks in the ground.

[2] No sarcasm. I really wouldn’t trade it for the world. My family is awesome.

The ERIN WILSON Challenge

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A little history here…. I used to write for a little newspaper thing called Connect Statesboro. I was writing an article for the local theater at the time my friend was in Mame. I wrote this in response to a conversation we had. I still laugh every time I read it. 

The other day I was at my friend Lucas’ house, and who was there much to our delight? Why it was ERIN WILSON. Lucas is the brother of ERIN WILSON. I mentioned to her that I was doing an article on Averitt Stars and ERIN WILSON, being the kidder that ERIN WILSON is, said, “I’ll pay you five dollars for every time you mention my name.” We laughed, ERIN WILSON and I, but thought, “Wow, Five dollars! I think I can fit the name ERIN WILSON in an article maybe, what, twenty times!” and that is exactly what I told ERIN WILSON.

ERIN WILSON was of course, the break out star of Mame. I’ve known ERIN WILSON for quite a while and I can tell you that the term “break-out star” is vastly understating the awesomeness of talent the encapsulates the woman known to many as ERIN WILSON. I’ve been best friends with ERIN WILSON’s husband Jason for years and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing all three of ERIN WILSON’s angelic children who were no doubt plucked from the bosom of heaven itself to round out the picturesque family of ERIN WILSON.

Here’s a fun fact about ERIN WILSON that you might not know. ERIN WILSON has, somewhere in ERIN WILSON’s house, a CD of herself, ERIN WILSON, singing Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway.” I’m told that it is just as good if not better than the original which ERIN WILSON covered. You might be wondering why I am taking the time to type ERIN WILSON in all caps. That is a calculated move by me as a writer. I am drawing attention to each mention of that majestic name of ERIN WILSON by placing it higher that all the other words so it stands tall and proud. ERIN WILSON’s name will be the fiery beacons that light this article, so that you will never forget the day you read this article that I’m writing about ERIN WILSON.

At last count I believe that ERIN WILSON has appeared in this article at least 23 times. Excuse me…

ERIN WILSON

25 times. That last one counts as two because it’s bigger. (Note: It’s supposed to be bigger but I can’t figure out how to make it bigger on this blog.) I believe I have not only fulfilled the contract that ERIN WILSON and I had, but exceeded. Much like ERIN WILSON exceeds our expectations every time she appears on stage. In summation, no clumsy collection of words could ever really give an apt description of the woman ERIN WILSON. So I will end with the only thing that can: ERIN WILSON.

 

Walmart Gear Solid: Groceries of the Patriots

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When I was single, grocery shopping was so much easier. Without having to think about a budget or two other human beings, I could basically buy whatever I wanted (like Chocolate Covered Chocolate Bites). The only downside of this was… well… I could buy whatever I wanted (New and Improved Chocolate Covered Chocolate Bites… now with more chocolate!). Also, since I wasn’t really what one might call a “skilled cook” I had to get stuff that was easy to make. Stuff that required no more than some water (or milk) and, if I was feeling particularly driven and motivated that day, some heat. Usually my shopping lists looked something like this:

1. Cereal

2. Frozen pizza

3. Frozen tv dinner

4. Cheese puffs

5. Chocolate

6. New Megadeth CD

I took my time back then. I’d swing around to the video game and DVD section, perhaps stop at the magazines and pick up a new issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. Grocery shopping was not a “task” it was just something fun to do. It’s different now. Grocery shipping is a MISSION. You know, like in Metal Gear Solid. Get in, extract groceries, get out. Extra points for not killing anyone.

These days my grocery shopping trips are coordinated with laser precision. I have already scoped the kitchen out for the items we need. I have the list made up ahead of time. Not only that but I have shopped in my head and made the list to match the layout of the store. With a little luck I can get in and acquire the data groceries, without alerting the guards my wife to any sales.

That’s why all this preparation is necessary. My wife still thinks grocery shopping is some fun adventure where a prize is given out for the most lollygagging. My daughter is no better. Without my planning I will have a cart full of clothes, dolls, books, crayons, pajamas, but nothing to eat. If I take my beautiful ladies grocery shopping they will, without fail, come to me with some extraneous doodad they want to buy. Sometimes this is a point of friction in our marriage. She just doesn’t understand how not following the list kills your end game ranking budget. Sometimes my wife will suggest that treating grocery shopping like a military operation is maybe not the best idea. Sometimes I even listen to her.

She might be on to something. I find myself having to resist the temptation to strangle and/or CQC (close quarters combat) throw someone to the ground because they are in front of the cereal and refuse to move. Don’t they know how important Honey Nut Cheerios are to the mission?! Sometimes it’s not one, but two people roadblocking the isle while they chat about their intestinal polyps or whatever people chat about at the grocery store. And I just stand there, patiently waiting for Meemaw and Aunt Elma to finish their dissertations on diarrhea, because I am far too polite to tranquilize them with my trusty M9 and move on.

I suppose if I treated grocery shopping more like happy adventure time I wouldn’t get so annoyed. Then again, I’m afraid if I don’t we’ll spend a thousand dollars a week. So perhaps I’ll try to back off a bit. But I’ll still keep my M9 handy just in case.