Month: March 2017

Love Stinks (Still Waters Are Bottomless)

My youngest keeps his cards close to his vest. Doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve. Well, he is sporting a vest. So really, he doesn’t have any sleeves on which to paste his feelings. Especially what with clutching all those mysterious and unknowable cards to his chest. Everett isn’t one to share his emotions, is what I’m trying to say. His waters may be still, but they are bottomless. Wrong word choice. Strike that. Let’s go with “deep.” His waters are deep. They run deep. There, that’s better. 

Here’s how things transpired: I posed my plain vanilla afterschool standard, “How was your day, bud?” I fully expected the age -appropriate, totally opaque, “Oh, fine.” Instead, I get, “Well, someone I like found out they are someone I like.”

Oh shit. 

I found myself in uncharted territory. Woefully unprepared. I almost wish he had copped to selling smack in the 7-Eleven. Or robbing a Chevron station. Those scenarios seem easier to navigate than that of unrequited love: “Were you caught? Arrested? Let’s get you legal counsel immediately. Wait, are you wearing a wire?” 

That stuff is easy. But capital L capital O capital V capital E? Fuggedaboutit. 

I chose to keep my mouth shut.  Any wrong-headed words in this moment, no matter how well-intended, would surely doom my smitten 5th grader to a life devoid of meaningful attachments. Playing checkers on a park bench with strangers. Pigeons pecking at his feet. Paper-bagged bottle at his side. Emotionally alone. All because his dipshit dad gave the wrong advice at that critical moment: 4:05 pm PST on March 23, 2017. 

The pressure. I bit both of my lips together with both rows of my teeth. Hard enough to leave a mark. The sound of my heartbeat pulsing in my skull. All my energy focused on trying to come up with something useful and important and encouraging and fatherly. Covering up my rising panic with my go-to: slow nodding of my head with a slight, all-knowing squint of my eyes.  Like I’ve seen in the movies. 

“Was it “Livy??,'” I heard someone say.  I froze and held my breath, suddenly realizing that “someone” was me. That incredibly dumb question — dare I say, the worst possible question — was mine. My intrigue regarding the identity of his little heart’s desire overwhelmed my apparently weaker instinct to embrace his little heart. (Note to readers: For what it’s worth, “Livy” is not the real girl’s name here. At least I don’t think so.) 

My faux pas was ignored or instantly forgiven or perhaps catalogued for later, added to the long list of “Dumb Things Dad Said.” Ev soldiered on in the face of my ineptitude, explaining that he had even gotten into a scrap with a classmate whom “Livy” apparently preferred to my second born son. A little physical altercation. I must admit, my spirits brightened for a moment. A fistfight fell well within my smack-selling/gas station-robbing fatherly advice wheelhouse! Now we got ourselves somethin’ to discuss! 

But the moment passed. We were, I realized, firmly ensconced in matters of the heart. Well above my pay grade. Beyond my ken. (Note to readers: For what it’s worth, “ken” isn’t a real person in this particular situation. At least I don’t think so.)

Fortunately for me, a mad dash to Little League practice interrupted our discussion. And bought me some time during which I could (and did) plumb the depths of my better half’s encyclopedic emotional playbook. I will spend the rest of the day now preparing an elaborate Decison Tree. Ready to dispense perfect advice to my heartsick 11 year-old at 4:05 pm PST today.  I only hope he hasn’t put his vest back on by then. Wish me luck. 

And thanks for reading. 

Know When to Fold ‘Em


I’ve always wrestled with fractions.  For as long as I can remember.  You see, I missed a single day of elementary school in the 4th grade.  And I am convinced that the entirety of human knowledge regarding fractions was conveyed to my John T. Roberts classmates in the course of that single, fateful day.  When I returned to school the following morning, my health apparently restored, the Good Ship Fractions had long since left port. Off in the distance, eight of the three topsails dipped low on the horizon.  Then she disappeared completely into the water, which covers 12/7ths of the earth’s surface, as I understand it.

Clearly, I picked exactly the wrong day for a stomach bug.  

A similar phenomenon transpired on a handful of other occasions, whereby I would somehow completely miss out on something that at one time seemed — and on occasion still seems — important.  Video games. I missed that boat, too.  Zero interest.  Maybe I had the flu or just overslept on the morning my neighborhood buddies gathered around a big Zenith TV and lost themselves in the novelty of “Asteroids.” And it’s too late for me now to develop an affinity. Both of my sons would spend way too many hours glued to one violent video game or another if given free reign.  But we don’t give them free reign.  We frequently hide the game controllers in anger. And more often than not (equating to 13/101th of the time, by my calculations), we cannot find the controllers ourselves after our anger has dissipated.

Same deal with playing cards. If I catch a whiff of an imminent rainy day suggestion of a game of “Bob’s Hat,” I experience a visceral, Pavlovian reaction. I slink off in the opposite direction, avoiding eye contact or feigning sudden interest in a television show in another room.  I can’t imagine that my 4th grade teacher revealed the wonders of Texas Holdem to my wide-eyed schoolmates during his “Fractions 101” lesson while I wiped my nose raw at home. But he might have.   That possibility could indeed explain why I have such a deep aversion to playing cards.  Even now, I feel mildly nauseated upon spying an errant card lying at the bottom of our kitchen junk drawer.  My knees buckle as I reflexively clutch the counter to avoid losing consciousness.  

On the plus side, that stomach bug during the winter of 1977 likely spared me from a life of compulsive gambling.  Note to readers: I am in no way implying or suggesting that the lads with which I just spent 3 days in Vegas are compulsive gamblers.  On the contrary, they appear remarkably well-adjusted and properly-perspectived. To my knowledge, for example, none of my college buddies hocked gold-capped molars for one last hand of Pai Gow. Nor am I suggesting anybody had gold teeth, by the way.  I don’t really know, but I don’t think so.  Rather, I am merely reporting that I would definitely be a compulsive gambler but for my complete ignorance regarding how fractions work.  I have a feeling I would gladly pawn 39/32 of my dental fillings for just one more throw of the die.  Crazed look in my eyes and a huge smile with no teeth. 

Here I was, completely surrounded by a sea of legal wagering.  On college basketball games.  Spreads and over unders or under overs. On the pull of a one armed bandit’s lever. On which of us would next disappear, surreptitiously sneaking off to our hotel room for a much-needed midday nap. And I abstained.  Not from the napping part.  I am a gifted napper.  From the gambling part.  I literally wagered nothing.  Not because I am too good for it.  Because I am not good enough for it.  And for me, that is a good thing. 

Thanks for reading. 

Viva Las Vegans (REDRUM)

I’m not a Vegan. Nor a long-winded blogger, at least not this morning. But I am a sucker for plays on words. Hence the title. 

I’m also a sucker for opportunities to congregate with friends I’ve known since I was a jelly-headed 18 year-old. 

Even if said opportunities require a flight to the second-hand smoke capital of the world. Does anyone not have a cigarette or cigar dangling precariously from their lips or pinched between first and second fingers here? I’m an annoyingly militant anti-smoker, but I’m admittedly overrrun. So far outnumbered that I may scavenge a pack of Marlboros on the way to the hotel gym. Don’t want to stick out. And maybe the nicotine will take the edge off of my slightly hungover stair master session. This could be the beginning of a wonderful, new addiction! 

Even if said opportunities require skipping one afternoon of my beloved perch on a bucket of baseballs, flashing pitch calls between my knees to my Little League team’s catcher. Our catchers for tomorrow’s game are on their own, fastball and knuckle curve-wise. Still, I find myself sitting on the edge of my hotel room’s pull-out couch, gazing out the window over the expanse of The Strip, throwing 1 and 2 fingers and wiggling all three. Jonesing to call an outside fastball and revel in my battery’s imminent strikeout. High fives all around. 

Even if said opportunities require stifling my fear of long hotel corridors reminiscent of The Shining. Danny in a slobbering epileptic fit will come peeling around the corner on a Big Wheel any moment now. Those creepy twin girls in powder blue dresses will pop up and block me from my door, droning something in monotone. I’ve seen that movie waaay too many times to be cool with navigating this hotel corridor for the next couple nights. 

All of this I am happy to kick aside for a couple days in order to relive and rehash shared memories from three decades past. And just to tidy up this post, if I were a Vegan, I’d gladly eat and drink whatever Vegans are not supposed to eat and drink. Viva! Bring it on. 

Thanks for reading.