Saturday, June 29, 2013

Happy Days in Milwaukee

     The last time I was able to report on the travels and travails of the Uber Dad (me) and family, we were preparing for our cross country trip to Wisconsin.  Since that time we have run into quite a few obstacles in our quest to arrive in Badger country.  We ran into quite the traffic congestion and issues at the Holiday Inn.  The final goal was to make it to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and upon arrival have much fun.  Since arriving the fun has definitely been a mile a minute, and it has absolutely been worth the issues during the journey.  I believe a recap is in order, and as it is in have to understand and accept your past before you can truly move on with your future.  The last few days Uber Dad style.
     The first day of travel was a short day, because we had several things to take care of before departure time.  My lovely daughter Maddie began to take issue with this whole traveling across the country idea pretty much right away, and she caused quite a ruckus.  Maddie is a little girl that believes that this is her world, and we're all just occupying space in it.  I was not at all upset that the driving was cut short, and we pulled into a Holiday Inn Xpress for the night.  We were staying in Seymour, Indiana, and that is why the events that followed will forever be known as the, "Seymour Snorefest of 2013."  I am a bit of a light sleeper so noises bother me a lot to say the least.  This night I would be tortured by snores from every direction, and noises that seemed to originate from a very evil place.  This was a maddening event for me, and I began to feel like someone had locked me in a "Guillotine Choke", and I was not allowed to tap-out.  I tried meditation, deep breathing, and toilet paper in the ears...but nothing worked.  I began to tell myself that regardless of my current predicament that I was extremely lucky to be where I was at this very moment, and I took it a step further and said to myself, "I could be homeless or living on the street."  My mind was in a funny place due to lack of sleep, and I began to think to myself, "Well sleeping under an overpass and going through garbage cans don't sound all that bad right now."  I was able to shake my head, and arrive at the conclusion that this thought was complete nonsense, and it was only the evil snores that wanted me to lose my mind.  I must stay level headed and avoid blowing a gasket in Indiana.  I did.  I eventually did sleep some, but I did not sleep enough for what would come on day number two of driving.
     The second day began innocently enough with a nice Holiday Inn breakfast and a quick workout in the Holiday Inn gym.  We started out confident that we would arrive in Milwaukee by about 1 pm.  This was without calculating the horrendous traffic jams that we would experience in three states.  We were shut down for about an hour and a half just North of Indianapolis, Indiana by a phantom menace.  It was a phantom, because we were never able to figure out why we were stopped, and a menace for obvious reasons.  I have to say that people become very social when stopped in traffic for an hour, and get out and talk to people that they probably never would speak to normally.  Folks will walk their dogs, play with their kids, and urinate at will during a traffic jam.  But to continue, "Sweet Home Chicago" was next.  We ran into the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup celebration right smack dab in the middle of it, and this caused much problems in attempt to make it through lovely downtown Chicago.  It took quite some time to weave through this traffic.  Now, it felt like we were about 37 hours behind schedule, but it was more like 2.  We kept on moving, and just when we thought we would make it through with no more issues another traffic jam right across the Illinois/Wisconsin border put us further behind.  We ended up making it to our destination around 5:30 or 6 pm., about five hours behind schedule.  Cheryl compared this day to Dante's "Inferno" and the seven circles of hell.  I told her that there were actually nine circles of hell in Dante's Inferno, and she said, "Well that makes sense, because it was just more Hell." There was a silver lining however, we were kept company by Justin Timberlake and his "Pocket Full of Soap," because the song was played 159 times during our trip.  Every time the song came on Jesse said, "OOOH, I Like that song!"  It was worse than the 147 times a day that MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" was played in Panama City, Florida in June of 1990.  Thanks to JT for keeping us company on our quest.
     Since we have arrived in Milwaukee we have been able to spend some quality time with the Fonz (The Bronze Fonz to be exact), eat possibly the best hamburger I have ever eaten in my entire life at Sobelman's, and have an absolute blast with family.  Like I have said in my previous blog posts, my wife's family are amazing people and I really enjoy spending time here in "Packer Country."  I grew up a Cowboy fan, but I have become a card carrying Green Bay Packers "Cheesehead" without a doubt.  I would like to add one other short story to wrap up this report.  We passed the "Milwaukee Power Tool Plant", and it brought back memories of an incident involving my father.  Once in my youth my father gave me a Milwaukee Electric Drill and a block of wood to keep me occupied.  My father was working on a lawn mower or something, and probably thought "He'll drill a few holes and quit."  Well it didn't quite work out that way, and the young me burnt that drill's motor up completely.  My father came back to where I was and found a burned out drill and a block of wood with a bunch of holes.  I wanted to go inside and tell the people at the tool company that I wanted a replacement, and tell them my story.  I didn't do that, but it was a very nice memory.
     We have a few more days here in Milwaukee and the fun will surely continue, and the hospitality shown to us has been second to none!  I look forward to our next adventure, but we will have to travel again.  We go further north to my wife's hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin after we leave Milwaukee and if the past is any measuring stick it could be an eventful journey.  Well, as long as I can get some deep fried cheese curds and frozen custard it can't be all that bad.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Travelin' Man

     My tribe and I are prepared to start our cross country trek to the "Great White North" to see family in Wisconsin.  I've always felt a bit like a wanna be Gypsy of sorts, because I absolutely love to travel.  I've never really been able to go to all the places that I would like to see, but there is a certain yearning to travel.  I would love to see Rome, Greece, France, Spain, and pretty much any tropical location, but I get to see Wisconsin.  I have to say though, that I feel completely comfortable there and I consider the "Land of Cheese" my second home.  Now, if you know me, then you know how big that statement is.  For me to say that any place is my second home is huge, and I have great affection for Wisconsin and the people in it.  The Great State of Alabama has been and will always be my home, but Wisconsin is a close second.  We travel across the country normally at least once, sometimes twice a year.  We've almost got squished by a Semi in Nashville, had a flat tire in Gary, Indiana, and I almost had to shoot a couple of guys at a way-side in Chicago.  There are plenty of harrowing tales from our travels through Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  I even accomplished the "Hat Trick" of traffic stops back many years ago by getting stopped by the police in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.  This idea of traveling put me in a traveling story mode, and I thought of a few that I would like to share.
     One of my first memories of travel that stuck with me was an incident that involved me and some family going to an Old Folks Home a couple hours away.  The exact location of this home is lost from my memory, but I do remember what happened on the way.  I was told to "Never tell" about this, but all that were involved are no longer with us, and they would probably think it was a funny story anyway.  The participants in this story were as follows: Granny, my dear mother Patsy, Aunt Lillie Mae, Aunt Josephine, and yours truly.  Yep, me and a bunch of women, I always got along better with women anyway.  We were going to see a family member, whose name I cannot remember, at the above mentioned old folks home.  On the way to our destination, the ladies in the vehicle (Granny's Cadillac) began to play with a CB radio that was in the car.  As you may know, truck drivers use the CB to communicate while traveling.  However, these conversations over the airways went a little sideways.  The ladies were having a blast with this back and forth with these truck drivers, and at times the comments got a little racy.  By the truck drivers, of course.  Eventually, and I'm not exactly sure how we got to this point, a truck driver came right by us.  The next thing I know my Aunt Lillie Mae stuck her leg out the window!  This was an extremely funny moment, because she was not the one that was communicating with these truck drivers.  My Aunt Josephine was the talker of the bunch, but Aunt Lillie Mae had the unfortunate "window seat" when the leg incident happened.  I remember thinking, "Wow, that escalated quickly."  It had something to do with, "Wanting to see some leg." The other ladies took to calling her "Go-Go Lil" for the rest of the trip.  I remember very well my mother telling me, "Don't tell your father or anyone else about this."  Well, Mama I put it under lock and key for about 35 years.  I haven't told this story to anyone, Until Now!  Sorry Mama, but it was really funny.  How those women lived!  I sure miss having them around.
     Speaking of traveling, yesterday Jesse asked me, "Dad have you ever wrecked a car?"  Well, this opened up a can of worms let me tell you.  I told him that I've tore quite a few cars to pieces over the years.  I totaled out three before I was 20 years old.  Yep, two of them were close to my house and were technically not my fault.  The third was an odd occurrence that is clouded in mystery, and happened in Blount County, Al.  I ended up wrapping my pick up truck around a tree in some guy's front yard.  How did this happen?  To quote Giorgio Tsoukolos of the History Channel's Ancient Alien TV series, "I'm not saying it was Aliens, but it was Aliens."  Actually, it was probably Evan Williams, and I can say that because the statute of limitations is up on this incident.  I left that part out when I told Jesse this story.  He went on to ask, "Did you ever crash a car when you were a police officer?"  The answer again was a definite, "Yes."  The one that sticks out in my mind was a rainy day and I passed a vehicle traveling in excess of 80 mph in a 50 mph zone.  I spun around and went after this vehicle, and as I approached and passed the crest of a hill, the car was right on the other side stopped.  I didn't see this vehicle until I was right on it, and I tried to stop before plowing into this nut case that had stopped in this horrible location.  I lost control of my vehicle, and slammed into a guard rail.  I was pretty upset, and I remember getting out of my patrol car with ticket book in hand.  I never liked to write tickets too much, but on this occasion it was going to be "Sweet!"  I got up to the vehicle, and discovered that this gentlemen was a State Law Enforcement Officer that worked for the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.  Professional courtesy was always something I believed in, so I let the guy go.  He said he was working a case locally, and was trying to get to a "problem" quickly.  I remember saying, "You really need to go to that problem now, because I'm gonna catch some kind of hell for wrecking this car and not even writing a ticket.  Please leave before I change my mind."  It pretty much sucked, but like they say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  I should be pretty much "Hercules" by now.
     This last little story really doesn't have anything to do with traveling, but it just happened yesterday. This should be labeled, "The Great Chicken Nugget Debate of 2013."  Jesse decided yesterday that he wanted 20 chicken nuggets to eat, instead of the normal 10 piece nugget meal.  I gave him my standard answer, "No."  He decided that this was an issue that he really needed to argue with me.  This was a contentious argument from start to finish let me tell you.  We've always said that Jesse will make a great lawyer one day, because he is very adept at arguing a point.  Jesse's final argument was basically that he could in fact eat 20 nuggets, and it was a travesty and a miscarriage of justice that he would not be allowed to do so.  My final argument went a little something like this, "Look, I always pay about 8 bucks for one of your little 10 piece nugget meal deals and now you want me to pay dang near 20 bucks for more crappy chicken nuggets that you're not going to eat.  There is no way on God's green earth that you can eat 20 freaking chicken nuggets.  More importantly, Why in the heck would you want to eat 20 chicken nuggets anyway.  Your point is moot!"  Long story short, Jesse ended up getting a Double Cheeseburger meal instead of chicken nuggets as a protest for the perceived unfair treatment.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, "This is not a Democracy, and I will rule with an Iron-fist if need be."  However, let me be clear, I was not in any way treating any chicken nuggets unfairly.  I was only stating facts that were pertinent to this case.  That is all.
     We're looking forward to our travels, and I can't wait to see my good ole second home!  This should be a fun trip, and I hope to see the statue of the Fonz in Milwaukee and take the Laverne and Shirley sight seeing tour.  I'm going to eat my fill of "Butter-Burgers" and frozen custard.  Life will be good.  I will not attempt another "Hat Trick" on this journey, and by the way, Trooper Saloon of the Wisconsin State Police who broke up my Superfecta of not getting a ticket about fifteen years ago, I've got three words for you, "Eat my shorts."  I'll be driving the speed limit all the way through, undoubtedly you never heard of professional courtesy.  {{{ I'm a travelin man, made a lot of stops, all over the world }}}  Now, if you know that tune, try and get it out of your head.  Thanks Ricky Nelson.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Louis XIV, Little Skeezers, and Hand Pad Soup

     This past week and weekend have been full of some serious Summer fun, and I get the sense that these are the times I'm going to remember when I'm in the Uber Dad retirement home, and these are the stories I'm gonna tell my fellow retirees at "Shady Acres" home one day.  I hope that my lovely children don't put me into a home, but I have to say that some of these places look like an all-inclusive resort.  Regardless, these stories hold a special place in my heart.  The laughs are real and heartfelt.  My only hope is that the true joy that I experienced living these moments comes across well in constructing this blog.  I'm pretty good at verbal communication, and telling stories.  I write sort of like I talk, and I hope it comes across that way. One of my standard lines is, "You think you can out talk me, yea I bet.  Cause I ain't met nobody that can do that yet!"  Ok, I borrowed a little from LL Cool J there, but it's a true statement.  Here goes stories about Louis XIV, Little Skeezers, and Hand Pad Soup.
     This weekend on one of our journeys I saw a tricked out Trans-Am that was just totally awesome.  I told Cheryl, "When it comes time to buy a new vehicle, if I get one of those I would actually pass on buying a pick up truck."  My lovely educated wife Dr. Cheryl tells me, "That would be an Ostentatious Display."  Big words once intimidated me, but since I have come into my own with this higher education thing I relish these "big word" moments.  I don't always use these words correctly or pronounce them right, but I'll use one of those big words in a heartbeat.  The word "Ostentatious" struck a cord with me, because I heard it used recently to describe Louis XIV and his "Sun King" aesthetic.  So I shot it right back at the good doctor and said, "My Trans-Am could be my Ostentatious display of power and wealth similar to that of Louis XIV and the Palace at Versailles."  Cheryl looks at me and says, "You're not Louis the XIV and you're neither powerful nor wealthy."  She does have a point.  I'm the guy that used Dora the Explorer underwear, "Accidentally", as a handkerchief.  In my defense, the two items were very similar in texture and material.  I still like to consider myself as an "Enlightened Despot" in the mold of Louis XIV.  Enlightened possibly but Despot is the hard one to convince my subjects of, but I'm working on it.
     We had the opportunity to eat some of the best popsicles I have ever eaten this weekend.  Steel CIty Pops in Homewood is freaking awesome, and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't been there.  I wondered what in the heck I had gotten into when I paid $11 for 4 popsicles, but after one bite I knew what was up.  The "Watermelon" is the bomb, by the way.  While we were eating our popsicles my sole male heir, the young man who will inherit my vast empire, Jesse, says out of the blue, "I'm really glad that they got a drive thru at Little Skeezers."  This was a slip of the lip by my son, but to hear him say it made me laugh out loud.  It brought back many references that I remember about Skeezers in the 1980s.  Urban Dictionary defines a Skeezer as "Slang for a Woman with low morals and could also have poor hygiene."  I never knew about the hygiene part, and I'm really glad about that.  You see what you can learn with today's technology...Amazing.  The Skeezers seem like they've gotten a bad rap, and I'm surprised there is not a group out there seeking fair treatment for "Skeezers."  Everyone is mistreated these days, and political correctness has reached ridiculous levels, so why not "People for the ethical treatment of Skeezers."  Anyway, I'm not going to talk about Skeezers anymore, even if I really like saying the word.  Just picture a ten year old in your back seat saying, "Little Skeezers" and try not to smile or laugh.  I guess you had to be there.
     Finally, the past week I had a chance to get out really early one morning and spray some weed killer around the "Perry Compound", and I sat on the grass while performing this action.  This was one of those times that a feeling brought back a flood of memories.  My rear end got wet when I sat down, and it reminded me of two a days back in the good old days of August football practice.  The first morning practice always brought a wet back side when you sat down to stretch.  I hated that moment back then, but I would love to be able to do it now.  The other thing I thought of was three words.  Three words that if you have ever played football, especially if you were a lineman have deep meaning.    Those three words could bring fear if you had a water break after those linemen, or sheer joy after a long session of "blocking drills."  The three words are "Hand Pad Soup."  Yes, I can see it now, an old blue drum cut in half (that was probably used to hold chemicals or something) filled with ice and water.  I'll give you a little info on the life of a high school football offensive/defensive lineman.  Hand pads were worn by many linemen and were rarely washed, contained sweat, grass, blood, and debris of all kinds.  These hand pads were not removed before being dipped into the "Nectar of the Gods" cold water in that drum.  Water breaks were not as common back in the day as they are now, and when you got one you felt extremely fortunate.  If the linemen had a water break before those sissy skill players, (Backs and Receivers) then the water was full of grass, blood, sweat, tears, and whatever else was on those pads.  I take back the above "Sissy" comment, because I've been trucked by some pretty good running backs before and I was a tight end so I did work with the receivers from time to time.  It all boils down to this, you were glad to get that hand pad soup, and boy did it taste good!  The only ones complaining about it weren't working hard enough anyway.  I really miss playing football, can you tell.  I would recommend "Hand Pad Soup" to anyone who would like to try it.  Now, you have to work your butt off to dang near exhaustion to acquire a taste for it, but its an experience.  I think I'm gonna write that "Bizarre Foods" guy, and tell him about it.  It's a delicacy.
     Well that's all for now, but there is a whole lot of Summer left and I can't wait to get out there and get after it.  Summer is a sweet time of year that is full of memories of all kinds, and I for one cannot get enough.  In the immortal words of that great American Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't slow down and look around, you might miss it."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I'm Batman

     Yesterday was a quest.  A Knight's errand.  A Day that will forever be etched in my memory.  The challenge before me was deceptively simple: Take Maddie to School, Jesse to Swimming Class in Bluff Park, and then normal errands.  This would not be a simple task, and it would take a "Spartan" like effort to pull it off, and the strategy and sheer cunning of a distinguished General on the field of battle.  The challenge laid before me, but was I up for what was in store?  Only time would tell, but like always, "A few knocks to this good ole boy exterior ain't gonna keep me down!"  I've seen worse, and been through more difficult challenges, but this one was a challenge to keep sanity and avoid madness.  To quote Rocky Balboa, "It's not about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, That's how winning is done."  Here we go.
     The day began with the normal waking up and coffee consumption, but on this day my darling daughter would wake early and then we were off and running.  My wife had to leave early for meetings, and I was flying solo.  The act of going at the child care alone is not new to me, but on this day backup would be sorely missed.  Miss Maddie has been going through a phase where she only wants her mother to dress her, put her to bed, take her to school, etc.  I knew I would be in for it, but this time my daughter decided to go a different route in achieving the desired outcome. I told Maddie, "We should probably get you dressed for school."  She responded, "Today is Pajama Day at school, so I don't have to get dressed."  This was a curve ball, because I had not heard anything about any Pajama Day at school and normally I am informed of such events.  I said, "Are you sure?"  Maddie looks at me with a crooked grin and says, "Yes."  This was a grifter move if I have ever seen one, and at this point I realized that my daughter was coming into her own as a con-woman.  I'm no stranger to being conned by pretty girls, and its happened pretty much all my life.  I don't believe anything a male says, and I don't trust most men at all..for good reason, but pretty girly eyes and a cute smile have always been my downfall or kryptonite.  So it stands to reason that my beautiful little girl would be able to pull the wool over my eyes, and she dang near did..I am not an idiot however, and I knew that the other woman in my life would not have left me without this vital information about a "Pajama Day."  The plot of Miss Madino the grifter was foiled, but this was only the beginning.
     I woke the boy (Jesse) and told him to get ready to go.  He's easier to deal with, because we have an understanding.  He understands that it is in his best interest to do what I say, especially when Maddie is around.  Maddie is like the Hot Pepper or Spicy Mustard in the dish you order, and you're not sure how it's gonna sit with you.  She is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.  Jesse had his difficult moment on this fine day also.  A strange argument about clothes in his backpack.  He did not want to have these clothes in the backpack, and no amount of telling him that it's always good to have dry clothes with you at a pool would change his mind.  We went through quite a debate, in the car in the driveway, by the way, about this issue.  Finally, I used my "Cop voice", the one I once used while a police officer, that simply expresses the fact, "I'm not putting up with this anymore, and if you know what's good for you.....You will comply."  Very successful strategy then and now. Once we finally arrived at Maddie's school to drop her off everything seemed to be going in the right direction, that is until I heard these words, "Daddy, I want to go home."  I knew what was coming next.  This was going to be a harrowing escape.  The fit came on light with a small cry, and I told Maddie, "It's OK we'll be back soon to get you, and Jesse will be with me."  I always use the Jesse card, because she and her classmates love Jesse, and really who wouldn't?  I digress...this did not help the situation.  I tried to hold her back and shut the door (it's one of those two piece door deals where you can shut the top and bottom), and I was looking for help from some teachers.  I kept saying, "We've got swimming class, so we have to go."  There was no help to be found, and things went from bad to worse.  Finally, as I have done with both my children when it came to bad school drop off's, I removed myself from the situation quickly.  I saw one of Maddie's teacher's coming around the corner, and I whispered to Jesse, "At my signal, Run like you hit a dribbler down third base line."  The escape was on, and I felt like we were Luke Skywalker and Han Solo trying to escape the Death Star before it exploded.  I remember saying, "Run Jesse!"  We did manage to escape the school, escaping embarrassment would not be as successful.  This kind of thing is expected in my life's journey, however.
    The final element of this morning will be the attempt to get to Jesse's swimming class.  I did not know exactly where this place was, and finding it became a challenge.  I don't have a GPS, but I do have a J-E-S-S-E.  This method is not always successful.  I had Jesse looking at my phone, and attempting to give me directions.  Sure, we went down a few wrong roads, and had to turn around in a guy who looked like "Grizzly Adams" driveway.  I'm not the most patient driver on a good day, and by this time I was about as nervous as a long tailed Cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  I knew that this must be accomplished, I knew that I must find the swimming destination or I would have to deal with Mama.  I make it a point to never have to deal with Mama, especially if I didn't do something I was supposed to.  I looked at Jesse and said, "Failure is not an Option!"  We adapted, adjusted, improvised, and overcame our situation.  We arrived just in time, after we went in the wrong entrance and were directed to the right one by a very nice man who I think was an angel sent from heaven.  It could have been an archangel like Michael or Gabriel.  We walked onto the pool grounds about three minutes before the class was to begin, and the lady that runs the place came over to me and asked, "And you are?"  I looked her right in the eye and said, "I'm Batman."
    That's about the extent of it.  I'm leaving a few zingers out, but for the most part that's what happened on this particular morning.  I don't have enough space to continue into the afternoon events, but maybe on another day.  The Batman is always ready with a good story, and Gotham is safe...For now.  For some reason I hear Prince singing "Bat Dance" in my head now.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day Fishing and The Uber Dad Song

     This past weekend was Father's Day, and I had an awesome time with my Uber Family.  We had a weekend full of fun and hijinks.  We did everything from fishing, yard sale's, birthday parties, wrestling matches, and everything in between.  It's a good idea to squeeze as much fun as you can into this life, because there just ain't much point to being here unless you can enjoy it while it lasts.  Feel free to use that little pearl or wisdom, and its free by the way.  Here is a bit of a recap of sorts, and at no extra charge I've thrown in my "Uber Dad Song" set to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies.  I can't write or read music so I have to borrow the musical framework for my lyrics.  I'm a word man not a music man.  Here goes the weekend events....This is where you would have that flashback wavy line thing with the music like they have in the movies.
     I was able to take Jesse fishing this weekend, and I took him to the exact same fishing hole that I once used when I was his age.  This felt like a passing of the torch in a way, and I was able to share many things with him.  How to correctly catch craw-dads is a must, and we saw quite a few.  I told him the stories of how we used to catch them at old Fultondale Park, and then set up Craw-dad fights.  There was a champion of the Craw-dads that I still remember to this day.  It was a huge one clawed monster of a crayfish.  He (or she not really sure how you tell) lost one of his claws somehow, but man alive that thing could fight.  Chop off a craw-dad head with one fail swoop of that giant remaining claw.  We called him "Cyclops" if memory serves, but seeing these creatures again brought back so many wonderful memories of my childhood.  I was very happy to be able to share these things with him.  We caught several small bream and released them to be on their merry way, and I couldn't help but think that these fish were probably descendants of the same fish that I once caught in this creek.  Jesse asked me a question during our journey, "Dad, are there snakes here?"  My response was, "Yes, but we probably won't see any today."  I left out the story about the "Mess of Snakes" that we got into in this very creek back during Memorial Day Weekend 1985.  Jesse was somewhat relieved and he said, "That's good, cause I saw a show on Discovery about Sea Snakes and they are the most venomous creatures in the world or something."  I told him that we weren't likely to see any sea snakes.  Copperhead maybe, but Sea Snake..probably not.  The old creek had grown up quite a bit, and it didn't seem to be used as much as it once was.  There's a park around it now, but I suppose most of the kids are on their devices inside instead of walking down the middle of a creek.  Times have changed, but it was really nice to get back to the way it used to be, even if it was for just a couple hours.
     One of the highlights of the weekend was a wrestling match.  I did get to witness the return of CM Punk Sunday night, but that is not the match of which I speak.  This match was a triple-threat match held in the Thunderdome in Mt. Olive, Alabama.  The participants were, "Mad Dog Maddie Meanness", "Jumping Jesse the Franchise", and "CJ "The Body/Best in the World Perry."  This was a very contentious match from the get go, and you could tell there was no love loss between these combatants.  Mid way through the match "Mad Dog" stuck CJ with a Dora Stove, a wiffle ball bat, and many other foreign objects. Jumping Jesse nearly connected with his patented "Piano jump", but the referee "Bad Mama Buzzkill" said the move was illegal.  The Mad Dog tried to make the other participants tap out repeatedly as she is the master of submission holds.  Her finishing move is a running forearm smash or as we like to call it, "The Path of Destruction."  The match continued for quite a while, but Bad Mama Buzzkill ended it on a "Nap clause."  I for one was outraged at such poor referee work, but you can't fight authority (Just ask John Camp-Cougarmelon).  The winner was declared to be CJ "The Body/Best in the World" Perry, and he retained his World Awesomeness Title of the World.  Jumping Jesse had these parting words, "You can say there is no I in team, but you know what there is an I in "Win", and you can't spell Awesome without a "Me" in it!!!  Wooooo!"  Mad Dog Maddie couldn't be reached for comment.
   Now the moment to unveil the Uber Dad song!  Now you have to sing this in the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies or it won't make sense.  That is assuming that it makes sense to begin with.  Here it is:

                Come and listen to a story bout a man called Perry;
                Young policeman found a pretty girl to marry,
                It happened one day in the middle of court-proceedings;
                Down the road to children was where this was leading,
                           Father He'll Be
                           Uber Dad You See

                The First Thing you Know a Baby Boy is born;
                Keeps the couple Happy and will never be forlorn,
                The Kin folks say he looks just like his Dad;
                Thats Ok as long as parachute pants and a mullet he doesn't ever have,
                What Else could happen to make them all Happy and Smiley:
                Maddie came along and now they're an Uber family.
                            Sweet was she
                            A sister to Jesse
                Yall come back now ya here!

     I know the song is pretty bad, but I never said I was a songwriter.  Although I had one I wrote back in the 8th grade that I just know would have been a hit.  It was called "Get off my Shoes" and it was about a guy dancing with a girl that couldn't dance and she kept stepping on his feet.  Well, anyway I had an awesome Father's Day weekend, as I guess you can tell.  I hope all you Fathers out there had a great one too, and those Single mother's without a father around, I hope yall had a great one also, because you have the hardest job in the entire world being both parents.  My hat is off too ya!  Until next time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Legend of Lopez: Stories of My Father

     My father passed away in 2005, but he left us a lifetime of memories.  He was one of those men that had the perfect balance of a strong/tough Man's Man, and sensitive fatherly type when the situation called for such.  He was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.  He worked hard all his life to provide for his family, and spent 30 plus years in a Birmingham Steel Mill (U.S. Steel), and about 15 more working for the City Park in my hometown of Fultondale, Alabama. He pretty much always worked at the Park in his spare time, and helped build most of the facilities and fields that the kids used so much growing up.  It was only in those last 15 years of working that he received a paycheck.  My father provided me with a blueprint for what was needed to take care of a family, and be a good man.  I will forever be in his debt for providing me with this knowledge.  This blog is normally about funny moments in life, and this post is no different.  The name Lopez was given to my father by my brother, but you'll have to ask him the exact origin.  Regardless, the name kind of stuck, and as far as a title, "The Legend of Lopez" sounds a whole lot better than, "The Legend of Frank."  He'll always be Daddy or Mr. Perry to me, but here goes some "Stories of my Father."
     Lopez was a fine baseball player, and was offered a scholarship to play baseball at Mississippi State.  He turned this scholarship down, and served in the navy during two wars.  He was a catcher, and by all accounts he was really something to see on the baseball diamond.  Fast with a cannon for an arm, and one heckuva bat to boot (Come to think of it, That sounds a lot like somebody else I know.  Mr. Jesse Perry, except he's a Shortstop).  He played amateur baseball most of his life, and Managed several amateur baseball teams in the area.  He did take time to coach the young Uber Dad, before he was an Uber Dad, in the fine art of baseball.  Now, I was always more of a Football guy than a Baseball guy, but Daddy tried really hard to convince me that Baseball was the way to go.  During his time coaching me in baseball he struck me with a baseball on many occasions, but two times in particular stick out.  The first was when he was trying really hard to get a runner out at first during a simulated game (scrimmage) where he was pitching for both teams.  He threw the ball very hard, and I was playing 2nd at the time, but covered first because the first baseman also tried to make a play on the ball.  The ball hit me directly in the nether regions, and it was a shock to the system.  I spent the rest of practice laying on the equipment bag, and moaning a lot.  I always told my teammates that they shouldn't make Daddy mad, because, "He'll hit you in the nuts too."  The second incident involved me playing shortstop this time, and covering second base.  Daddy threw the ball down, and was playing catcher for some reason that I don't remember, and struck me in the chest.  It knocked the breath out of me, and Daddy ran from home to 2nd and began to pound me on the back like I was choking or something.  I remember my Mother taking me to the Emergency Room, and the question being asked, "How did he get these red hand marks on his back?"  His heart was in the right place, but as you could imagine, smacking someone on the back is not the best cure for having the breath knocked out of you.
     I received the Nickname gene from my father, and I have used it extensively in my travels in this world.  My father used to call me "Chris Schenkel" (after the sports announcer), "James or J' (my middle name was James), but most of the time it was just "Boy."  I always related to the Bill Cosby stories in his stand-up routine about him not knowing whether his name was "Dammit" or "Jesus Christ", because his father called him and his brother that.  I always answered to, "Dammit Boy!", because I figured he was talking to me.  He called my brother Lamont, because my brother liked to deal with yard sale stuff or go dumpster diving.  Lamont, as some of you will remember, was the son in "Sanford and Son" salvage.  My nickname prowess is legendary, and I have come up with "J-Jam Sixkiller" for Jesse, "Miss Madino aka Crazini Bambini Tyrannis" for Maddie, and "Cheryl Chafazzio" for Cheryl.  I got it honest.  Daddy was the king of nicknames and I've heard him use all of the following: Coot, Bulldog, Mutt, Mule, Stinky, Beer Drinker, Snuff Dipper, Big John, Little John, Big Frank, Little Frank, and it goes on.  The most endearing nickname my father used was "Mama Duke" for my mother, and he even had a song to go along with it.  "Mama Duke's got the Duke and gone on." or something like that anyway.  I believe this originated with a popular song from yesteryear, but my research has failed to produce an exact song title or artist.
     I worked with my father for a few years during the summer when I was in high school, and I have told many stories about those experiences.  One in particular sticks out to me, and it involved my father working with electrical wiring and me with a mop handle.  We were never a direction reading or following kind of people (I am now, but we were not then), and we normally just jumped right into a task without thinking to much about it.  One day, my father and I were tasked with fixing an electrical issue of some kind.  The solution involved my father working on the wiring, and me acting as the fail-safe with the mop handle.  My job was simply to stand there and watch and see if it appeared that the electricity had hit my father.  Daddy said, "If the Juice hits me, then you hit me with the mop handle."  You have to picture this scene, that driver's by surely did see, me standing there with a mop handle cocked and ready to strike, like I was waiting on a fast ball.  I thought about hitting him just for the the heck of it, but this was the same man that constructed my 9th grade Physical Science project that saved me from Summer School.  Daddy didn't get hit with electricity, and I didn't have to hit him with a mop handle.  Don't think he didn't know what he was doing though, he did, he was just unorthodox.  He became well known for constructing a lawn mower that cut the grass all by itself on the baseball field's infield grass.  The local paper even did a story on it.  The idea was you get a self propelled lawn mower, a rope, and a pole.  Tie the rope to lawn mower and the pole, and you're cutting grass.  The rope wraps around the pole, and the grass is cut evenly all the way around.  I'm sure there is more to it than that, but I am the guy who almost flunked 9th grade Physical Science so what do I know.  Daddy knew.
     My father told me stories about living on a ship during the war, seeing the pyramids in Egypt, swimming in Benito Mussolini's pool, sharing a meal with Lucky Luciano, and seeing Ted Williams play at Fenway Park.  I was very fortunate to have this great man as a father, and I will always be thankful for all he did for me.  If I can be half the man and father that he was, then I'm doing pretty darn good.  It's a shame that he couldn't be here to see Jesse play baseball, Maddie being born, The incredible run that Nick Saban and The Crimson Tide are on right now (He was a huge BAMA fan, and I could write an entire essay on just that), and many other things that have happened since he passed away.  I'll tell you what though, every now and then, I get a familiar feeling, the wind blows a certain way, and  I'm compelled to smile for really no reason.  My thinking is, he did see all that, and one day we can sit down and catch up on lost time.  Happy Father's Day Lopez!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Unexplained or the Perry-normal

     Sometimes there are events that defy logic, and cannot be explained.  Whether it is ghosts, aliens, bigfoot or other cryptids, the Loch Ness monster, or any number of odd things.  Paranormal events or subject matter have entered the lives of the Perry's from time to time.  My wife refers to these events as Perry-normal.  Sounds good to me.  It could be Jesse's fascination with Ghostes (I didn't spell that wrong, that's how he said it a few years ago) or his complete phobia of bigfoot.  It could be Maddie's monster loving self, and the constant requests for "Scary monster stories with a Scary-Mean monster!"  My personal paranormal experiences peaked with a shape-shifting drunkard, and witnessing "Hell in a Cell" when I was in Law Enforcement.  Cheryl comes from Wisconsin and as we will see, it has it's fair share of odd creatures and legends.  Sit back and relax, but don't get too relaxed, because these are all true events and may not be suitable for those who have heart problems or scare easily.  You wanna see something really scary?
     My son Jesse developed an extreme fear of Bigfoot as a younger fellow.  Some Native American tribes refer to these creatures as Sasquatch, and some call them Skunk Ape, big Hairy Man, Yeti, the list goes on.  I had occasion to watch the classic television series "In Search of Of" with Leonard Nimoy while it was in syndication on one of the cable networks, and Jesse watched the episode about good ole Bigfoot with me.  He became convinced that Bigfoot was going to get him one day, and I had the task of trying to tell him this was not going to happen.  I know that everybody knows that there is a big hairy man beast roaming the forests of North America, but I had to make Jesse believe there wasn't.  No more Monster Quest for young Jesse, and their Bigfoot stuff is outstanding by the way.  Once we dodged the bullet with the Sasquatch deal we had to deal with Ghostes.  Jesse loved Ghostes, and even pretended to be one after every bath.  He would put the towel over his head and go, "BOOOOO!!" through the whole house.  He dressed up like Ghostes and had glowing Ghostes all over his room.  Well, eventually the fascination just stopped.  Don't know why, but it did.  I believe the change happened around the time he received his first Football, but that may be my rose-colored glasses.  Recently, Jesse has really enjoyed watching Ghost Adventures on the travel channel so this Ghostes cycle may be starting all over again.  He says, "Ghosts" now, however.  The "Ghostes" is extinct, and I am sad because of it.
     My dear Miss Madison has a complete love of Monsters, especially the really scary kind.  She demands that a "Scary Monster Story with a Scary-Mean Monster" be told every night before bed.  The most recent monster story told by yours truly was the terrifying tale of, "The Cotton Candy Monster."  The story has four main characters, and they are as follows:  Cheryl, Jesse, Maddie, and Best in the World.  The premise is simple, all four of our characters go to the local fair in town.  Maddie wants some Cotton Candy, and Best in the World buys it for her.  She notices that the confection tastes funny, and asks to throw it away.  Before it hits the garbage can the cotton candy turns into a vicious/horrifying, man and woman eating monster.  The Cotton Candy monster eats Jesse first (Makes sense to me), Cheryl comes next, Best in the World puts up an amazing fight but also gets eaten, and that leaves poor Maddie to fend for herself against the horrible Cotton Candy monster.  Maddie tries to run, but the monster gets her and puts her in his mouth....but, he realizes that this little girl tastes horrible.  The monster then proceeds to throw up, Jesse, Cheryl, and Best in the World.  Maddie has saved the day!  She turns to the Cotton Candy Monster and says, "Cotton Candy Monster don't you ever come back again, I done told you once you mean monster, I'm the Best that's ever been!"  The End.
     My wife Cheryl comes from the land of Cheese, and also some weird monsters.  Wisconsin is the land of the Hodag and has had it's fair share of Bigfoot sightings.  They also have a Mothman, but we'll come back to that in a moment.  The Hodag, the best I can tell, is a frog/elephant mix with a spear tail and huge claws on the end of short legs.  I found a picture of one of them online, and it was supposedly caught somewhere in Wisconsin but as is the case with most of these kind of things, the carcass disappeared....OOOOOOHHHH!!  The Hodag Lives!!  I've seen quite a few folks in Wisconsin that looked like they should be studied by a cryptozoologist, but you could probably say that about Alabama too.  I ran into a cryptid in the Men's restroom at a rest stop during my first ever trip to Wisconsin, and I believe the creature felt threatened by my presence.  He charged me, but then left quickly.  Odd occurrence to say the least.  To top all this stuff off, My wife (Cheryl) went to school and received her undergraduate and Master's degree at The University of Wisconsin in La Crosse.  You know I mentioned the Mothman earlier?  You wanna know where he lives?  He lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin and some folks swear by his existence.  Coincidence?  I think not.
     Finally I would like to briefly discuss my own first hand experiences with the Paranormal.  I don't just tell anybody this stuff, but I've seen things that would make your hair stand up on its end.  When I was a Law Enforcement Officer there was this old drunk that was constantly getting arrested and serving as the jail "Trusty."  He was an affable fellow, and I truly liked the guy but he had a problem with the bottle as some folks do from time to time.  I will not use his real name, but I will refer to him as Otis (fitting pseudonym I think).  Otis, I came to find out, was a shape-shifter.  I used to play jokes on Otis by sneaking up on him and screaming his name really loud.  Scared him pretty good, but he always took it really well.  On one occasion I was driving a police vehicle and I rounded the corner of City Hall and I saw Otis standing with his back turned.  He didn't know I was coming and I hit the siren right behind him.  This is when it happened.  Otis changed from his normal self to something else, and it wasn't pretty.  It was kind of like what I saw at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", when all the bad Nazi guys opened the Ark of the Covenant.  I felt like Harrison Ford saying, "Don't Look, Marion!"  It was not a pretty sight, but as soon as he shape-shifted...he went back to normal.  I left Otis alone after that, and didn't play any jokes on him anymore.  I didn't want to see him shape-shift again or worse!  I also witnessed an even that I like to refer to as "Hell in the Cell."  The Cells had speakers in them, and on one occasion they became a vessel of the Paranormal.  We had arrested a guy that was highly intoxicated, but wanted to put up a fight like he was Mike Tyson or something.  He gave us fits trying to get him in the cell.  Shortly after arrival he passed out, but not for long.  The Devil talked to this derelict that night, through the speaker.  The story was told to me that the speaker told him to get up, and he did.  Told him to turn around, and he did.  Then the lights went out.  This guy was sure enough praying for his very soul that evening. He swore up and down that the voice was that of Satan himself. Now, I know what you're thinking, you're thinking that we set all that up to scare this poor innocent criminal who had just literally tried to kill us.  Well, all I know is, the guy got out of jail, got sober, and starting going to church.  True story.  If you ask me today, next week, or thirty years from now, all I can say is, "The Devil got to that Derelict that night."
     In summary all I have to say is, "I'm not saying that this was the Perry-normal, but it was the Perry-normal."  The End.  But be sure to watch out for Bigfoot, Ghostes, The Cotton Candy Monster, The Hodag and Mothman (if you're in Wisconsin), Otis the Shape-Shifter, and Hell in the Cell.  If this was a recording I would laugh like Vincent Price now, but I'm typing so, "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA" or something like that.  Be careful out there.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A to Z Survival Guide

A TO Z  Survival Guide for the Stay at Home Dad-  These are must have qualities for the Uber Dad

A- Adorable (This is a must when assistance is needed from women, but your kids can be the adorable ones if you do not fit the bill)

B- Brave (Diapers, Wal-Mart, Shopping, other Ailments or Sicknesses where Bravery is needed)
    Bug Juice Buying and Bribery should also be mentioned here.

C- Crazy (Obvious Reasons)

D- Determined (This is the hardest work you will ever do)

E- Exciting (Otherwise your kids will be bored.  Bored kids are the kiss of death)

F- Funny (See Above)

G- Garbage-Man-Like (Children produce a lot of trash)
     Gangnam Style (When your 4 year old wants to hear it over and over...and dance too)

H- Helpful (That's the name of the game)

I- Independent (You must be able to handle the "Business of Babies" without Mom being around)

J- Jazz Hands (See "Gangnam Style")

K- Kitchen Savvy (This is a must.  Cooking, cleaning, and just knowing where stuff is)

L- Lovable (To survive, the children must have affection for you- otherwise they will destroy you!)

M- Multi-Tasking (Big one!  Without this skill, survival is impossible)

N- "No" Saying (The word "No" is your friend, and is always a good response in any situation)

O- Om Chant (Regular meditation is a must so your Chi doesn't get wrapped around your Chakra)

P- Patience (This one I have not been able to master)
    Part Psychic (What's Wrong?  "I Don't Know" or "Nothing"  You must be able to figure out the issue)
    Poet's Soul (You have to look at life like Robert Frost on occasion to appreciate the position you're in)

Q- Quizzing (You will become a teacher whether you want to or not. See Homework for school)

R- Racer (Kids love a good race, especially Go-Carts.  Careful not to put any 8 year-olds or Grandmother's into the wall, although fun it is unacceptable at most Go-Cart tracks)

S- Superman (No explanation necessary)
    Super Cook (You will learn to prepare food)

T- Trustworthy (Children must feel like they can trust you or they will turn on you quickly)

U- Unflinching (You will have poop, all types of body fluids, and many other noxious substances on your person and you must keep moving forward..Regardless)

V- Very Cool (You Have to Channel your inner "Fonz," because kids love cool parents.  My philosophy, "I'd rather be dead and cool than alive and uncool" thanks Mickey Rourke.

W- Woman-Like (You have to become part Mom.  Dad's are different, and if you spend a lot of time with children, you have to be adept with the Mom role.  This one is tough!)

X- X-Ray Vision (See Superman)
    Just X-Rays (Bones will be Broken)

Y- Young at Heart (You must be young at heart to keep up with the kids today.  You will have:  Ball practice, Coaching, Dancing, Gymnastics, School, After School activities, Birthday Parties, Play Dates, Splash Pads, Swimming Pools, Public Parks, Science Centers, Children's Theater, Camps, Concession Stands, McDonalds, Burger King, Chuck E Cheese, Shopping Malls, Grocery Stores, Pediatricians......and the beat goes on and on and on.....

Z- Zany (See A through Y)

You could probably go through this list again, and come up with different traits that are necessary to survive, but this is a start.  The art of the Uber Dad is a living and breathing job and it is always evolving.  Further study is always needed.  Like the Spartans of old we must take the philosophy of "No Retreat and No Surrender!"  Hang in there fellow Fathers!  We are as ONE!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Diabolical Dr. Up, Back Country Road Nausea, and She Eats Ice Cream with a Fork

     This edition of the "Uber Dad Chronicles" is a grab bag of sorts.  These events happened in the recent past and warrant a further story telling examination.  An old buddy of mine used to refer to a pack of Marlboro 25s (25 cigarettes instead of 20) as a "Brady Pack", and this is sort of a Brady Pack of humorous events.  So without any further delay, I would like to introduce you to the "Diabolical Dr. Up," talk about an incident of Back Country Road Nausea, and analyze why it is She eats Ice Cream with a Fork.  
     The first story I want to cover involves the dynamic duo of "Macho Man" and "Too Fast-Too Furious" in their constant battle against evil and their arch nemesis the "Diabolical Dr. Up."  OK, these are made up characters- Macho Man is portrayed by, me of course, Too Fast-Too Furious would be ole quick first step himself, the boy with the magic legs- Jesse Perry.  The Diabolical Dr. Up is played by Maddie.  This is because, when these characters were originally invented Maddie only said a few words, and "Up" was by far her favorite.  Maddie played the evil genius, because she didn't say a whole lot, she had a blood-curdling scream, and she played an awesome strong-silent type.  These adventures normally took place on Saturday Nights, and they were full of action, suspense, and just plain awesomeness.  We had the original, "Macho Man & Too Fast-Too Furious vs. The Diabolical Dr. Up", The sequel, "The Revenge of the Diabolical Dr. Up", and that turned into a trilogy with "The Last Stand of the Diabolical Dr. Up."  Well, it wasn't really the actual last stand of the Diabolical Dr. Up, and she always seemed to escape in the end, because our heroes let her live just a little too long.  Today, Macho Man has moved on to other ventures and prefers to be called Xerxes the Better, Too Fast-Too Furious is still too fast and too furious, and will always be my hero.  The Diabolical Dr. Up, the real centerpiece of our stories has turned over a new leaf, and speaks English fluently.  We just call her "Pretty Miss Madison" these days.  I miss those Saturday Cliffhangers- I miss them a LOT!  The Diabolical Dr. Up LIVES!!!
     To make a hard right turn to a different topic, I'll ask the question, "Is it ever a good idea to throw up in someone's front yard, especially if you pull over in said front yard in the middle of nowhere slap-dab in the middle of the country?"  I say no.  Yesterday, on the trip to the Black and Blue Festival in Jemison, Alabama, my navigator made a crucial error and we were thrown off course.  One of the passengers in the vehicle (Shout out to LH) became nauseous in the vehicle and needed to, well....vomit, blow chunks, barf, hurl, spew, etc. etc.  Anyway, my lovely navigator told me to pull over "Right Now!"  I only saw someones front yard, and I didn't think it would be a good idea to just pull over "yack" in an unfamiliar yard, because after all we're not from around here.  I told her, "We're liable to get shot!  Folks don't take kindly to pulling over and puking in their front yard."  She went all ghetto on me and started shaking her head and wagging her finger saying, "They won't shoot me!  Just pull over!"  Reluctantly, I did just that, and unfortunately the poor sick fellow (Shout out to LH) had already let a little bit go in his "Jack's" cup.  Not a drop spilled by the way, but he then proceeded to finish the job in these folks' front yard.  I was anxious, and thought I was going to catch a .44 slug at any moment, but we did escape unscathed.  I told my ghetto navigator that we were just lucky this time.  We ended up making it to our destination, and comforted the stomach issues with fried pickles.
     Was there once a lost civilization called Atlantis?  Do Aliens Really Exist?  Who really Shot JFK?  Why would someone choose to watch Crap like "Jersey Shore" on television?"  All these are mysteries of the universe that do not have a definitive answer, but there is one mystery that I have delved into more than others:  "Why does my wife eat ice cream with a fork?"  I'm going to put on my best Dr. Phil hat here and analyze this.  It could be that she likes to dig for an answer or the truth in some cases, and that carries over to dairy dessert consumption.  Maybe it has more to do with texture and taste, and the spreading out of the ice cream for a better taste explosion.  This same method worked well for me with hamburgers, and my recently discovered "Smash" method.  Maybe she used a trident in a past life as a minion of Neptune or as a Gladiator on the Sands of the Arena.  Probably, the answer is a simple, "That's just the way she's always done it, and she's not one to quit on an ice cream delivery system because it's got a little age."  My next stop in this investigation, is to try this method myself for a week, and report back with my results.  My mind does funny things when left to its own devices, but it makes things interesting.
     That's my "Brady Pack" or can of mixed nuts, if you will.  They say that Variety is the spice of life, and I for one always listen to what "They" have to say-  I just wish I knew who "They" really were, and why "They" had all the answers.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Happy Anniversary

     Today, my lovely wife and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.  On June 6, 1998 I made an honest woman out of Cheryl.  Fifteen years seems like an eternity when you're a little bit younger, but it can fly by in the blink of an eye.  Especially if you've been as fortunate as I have.  My wife (Cheryl) and children (Jesse and Maddie) are all I need to get me through this crazy world.  Some folks talk about a quest for wealth or have a desire for silver and gold, but as long as I have those three in my life..I'm the luckiest man alive, and I am extremely fortunate to be where I am today.  Somebody up there must like me, that's for sure!  I'm not gonna go all mushy on this post, but this one is dedicated to Cheryl.  Like Willie and Waylon said, "Cowboys ain't easy to love and they're harder to hold, they'd rather give you a song than diamonds or gold."  I put more value on my words than I would on another gift.  Here comes a few funny stories from my life with "Sweet" Miss Cheryl.  Happy Anniversary Darlin!
     These days I am what I like to call "Straight Edge", and I don't drink alcohol, use tobacco, or use any kind of drugs.  However, I wasn't always like that and there were a couple of incidents in my married life that caused issues due to an inebriated state.  Incident #1 was on our Honeymoon, and I had got a little too acquainted with Captain Morgan.  We were in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida and it just so happened the NBA Finals were on, and this was what would turn out to be Michael Jordan's last NBA Final.  Well I caused a ruckus in our room hooting and hollering about MJ and the Bulls.  I was a huge Bulls fan Back in the day.  I smoked a big ole Cigar in our non-smoking room, and was pretty much an obnoxious idiot all night.  I almost got divorced before we really got started, but thank goodness Cheryl, although not happy with me, forgave me for acting a fool.  Incident #2 happened in New Orleans, Louisiana.  We spent the better part of the day at "Pat O'Briens" and I beame a huge fan of the Hurricane I will freely admit.  From there I spent time with with the "Chicken Man" telling my fortune on Bourbon Street, and spilled drinks all over a white table cloth in the fancy restaurant "The Court of Two Sisters", that we wandered into accidentally.  I messed around with that Voodoo thing that says, "Do not Touch" in that Marie Laveau museum deal.  Luckily I was not cursed by the Voodoo people, and once again my lovely wife looked past her sinner of a husband.  Thank the Good Lord!
     There have been a couple of incidents over the years where Cheryl has had to endure the "Fighting Side of Me" to quote Merle Haggard.  There was an incident involving a Swimming Instructor that wouldn't let me stand close to an obviously distressed 3 year old Jesse, and Cheryl was quoted as saying, "I really thought you were gonna punch that guy."  Another time was when an Assistant Coach on a baseball team I was coaching decided to go all rogue and attempt a coup.  He wanted to overthrow my oppressive rule I supposed, but his biggest mistake was to speak ill of me in front of my wife.  In all fairness, I don't believe he knew that Cheryl was my wife at the time.  I found out about his negative comments in front of my beloved, and to put it lightly we had to have a discussion.  Long story short, this assistant coach never had a cross word with me the rest of the year and he coached first base with gusto from that point on.  You don't talk garbage in front of man's wife.  I always tell Jesse, "You don't mess with a man's hat or his woman."  That sums it up nicely.
     Cheryl is a Vegetarian and an Animal Lover from way back, and I completely respect her decision to follow that disciplined diet.  I know I couldn't do it that's for sure.  One of my co-worker's when I was in Law Enforcement just couldn't grasp the idea of not eating meat.  He was old-school through and through, and asked her everytime he saw her, "You don't eat meat?"  She would say, "No."  He would ask, "You don't eat Beef?"  The answer was still, "No."  "You don't eat Chicken?"  Still, "No."  "How 'bout Fish."  Once again, "No."  He always looked distressed and would walk away completely bumfuzzled.  He would introduce me to people, "You know Perry's wife don't eat no meat."  I think he thought we were Communists or something, but Cheryl was, as always, very sweet in her repeated denial of consuming any animal flesh.  Cheryl's animal loving ways led to us having Abby.  A very sweet but very pitiful Lab mix dog. Abby was a diabetic, we discovered, and we had to give her shots twice a day for the entire extent of her life.  She lived twelve or thirteen years and our vet said, "I have never seen a diabetic dog diagnosed that early, live that long....That is an amazing accomplishment."  I should have known things would be "different" with Abby when the day we ended up at the humane society and the lady told Cheryl, "You don't want to see that one."  Abby was doggy puke covered and huddled in a corner in the cage.  In true Cheryl form she said, "Oh yes I do."  Things in the Perry house would never be the same.  My dog, "Smokey" a fine German Shephard mix was paired with Abby and a family began.  I actually credit Abby with convincing Cheryl that she could be a fine mother, which I knew all along.  We were able to give the dogs a good life, and not kill them, so Cheryl decided that kids wouldn't be a bad thing after all.  Good thing, because if she hadn't decided that....I wouldn't be writing all this right now.  I would probably be in jail in New Orleans.
     My wife is the most wonderful woman in the world.  She is an awesome mother and it is truly an honor to be with such a woman.  She has worked hard all her life in accomlishing her goals in education and the professional world.  People use the phrase, "They broke the mold" probably too often, but when it comes to this fine lady that statement is true.  I can't say it enough, I am an extremely lucky man to have crossed paths with this fine woman.  She has inspired me to do things I may have never done otherwise.  Thanks Cheryl, for fifteen years of pure awesomeness!  I'm hoping for about 50 more!  Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Back to School Old Man

     WIthin the past year we've been able to get both kids in school, and I decided to begin a new journey for myself.  My past consisted of ten years of Law Enforcement where I obtained the rank of Sergeant, but I took a detour from a paid profession for a while to take on the role of Uber Dad.  My new role has become that of a 41 year old college senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  For a guy who grew up in the 80s this was bound to be a bit of a clash of cultures, and so far my experiences have been just that but I have to say the decision to return to college, may have been one of the best choices I have ever made.
     The first thing you notice is the clothing choices of college students or lack thereof in some cases.  You've got different colors for hair, piercings of all kinds, and strange pairings for clothes on some students to say the least.  Young people today have more tattoos than I ever remember seeing in my youth, and while body art can be very cool I am faced with the dilemma ,"Do I look at these people or attempt to read them?"  I'm a shorts and T-shirt kinda guy, and I have been known to wear shorts to a funeral...unfortunate but true.  My fashion sense is kind of a cross between Charlie Sheen from "Two and a Half Men", before he went all "Winning-Tiger Blood Guy", and Jeff Spicolli from "Fast Times at Ridgemont HIgh" because I'll come out of a shirt in a heartbeat if the situation presents itself.  It's a sickness, and I always say, "I got a little redneck in me, and a whole lot of old school Fultondale."  With all this being said I have to qualify it all by saying that the people I have met so far have been amazing, and a kinder/nicer bunch I don't believe you could locate.  I have truly been accepted as one of their own.  To me that is quite an honor.
     A funny thing has also happened in this culture clash.  I've had many students say things like, "My Dad likes it so you'll love it" and "My Grandparents went there, and you and your wife will have a blast."  I hear "Sir" and "Mr. Perry" a lot, and I always turn around and look my father.  I'm just "Chris", and "Mr. Perry" is and always will be my father to me.  I even have the kids I have the great opportunity to coach call me Chris. I overheard this conversation behind me during my first semester back at school, "We had to spend the weekend with my parents, and there was nothing to do.  The only movies my Dad had on DVD were Gladiator, 300, Forrest Gump, The Dirty Dozen, and John Wayne movies.  It was really horrible."  The other guy then said, "That really sux, I hate those movies."  I thought to myself, "Well those are some of my favorites, your Dad and I would get along famously."  Being the outgoing guy that I am I turned around and in my best Maximus Decimus Meridius voice said, "Are you not Entertained!"  This was of course lost on these young men, and I got that look that says, "The old guy  has lost his mind, and cracked under the pressure."  I found it amusing, however.
     I've been compared to Bruce Willis and even Vin Diesel by fellow classmates, and while I'm not complaining there was not a Brad Pitt comparison in the bunch.  One time in particular a friend in class says to me, "The first time I saw you, I thought, What the Hell is Stone Cold Steve Austin doing in History Class."  Being compared to an old retired wrestler is interesting to say the least.  Since my return to school I have become a complete HIstory nerd, and this is quite a change.  I'm the guy who took a pool cue to the side of the head in a 1992 bar-room brawl, played in his last two football games wearing a cast covering a broken hand, and used to be quite adept at chasing criminals.  These days I'm an Uber Dad/History Geek who loves to tell stories, read poetry, and spend quality time with Thucydides.  I guess I'm kind of a Dreamer that is looking for that certain something that maybe all of us are looking for but have a hard time finding.  I believe I'm on the right track however.
     Going Back to School has had quite a positive impact on me, and I believe it is one of the better choices that I have made in my life.  I know now that I believe Robert Frost is awesome, I wish I could have gone back in time to talk to Sylvia Plath and prevent her unfortunate demise because that gal defined tortured genius, and Henry James is one of the best storytellers I've had the pleasure of reading.  All of this would have went un-noticed if this old guy wouldn't have went back to school.  I guess an old dog can learn new tricks, and this old dog certainly has done just that.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tales from the Ballpark

     The All-Star season is in full swing and the ballparks all around the country are hopping with activity and excitement.  The landscape of youth sports has changed, but in many ways has stayed the same since I was a kid.  I have been involved with youth sports since my son, Jesse, was five years old.  I've said from the beginning, that one heckuva reality show could be produced at the old ball park.  I've coached Football, Baseball, and Basketball in the years I've been around kids playing ball.  I've observed a kid with an affinity for eating dirt, coaches chasing referees to the parking lot due to a "bad" call, a Grandpa punch an umpire at a girl's softball game, and many other types of craziness.  Recently both my children Jesse (10 year old boy) and Maddie (4 year old girl) had games, as usual, on the same day.  Two different quotes from those games, "Go out there and Dominate your opponent!" at Jesse's game, and "Don't forget to tee-tee before the game starts."  There is a whole lot of ground between those two stages of play at the ballpark, and along that journey you find many Tales from the Ballpark.
     When I played at the ballpark as a child things were different in a lot of ways, but we still had plenty of unusual occurrences.  I remember well seeing grown men fight at an Amateur Baseball game my father was coaching in, and these were all grown men.  The game stopped for these two men to brawl as everybody watched.  I also remember having to hide in the dugout at my old childhood ballpark (which is now a parking lot with a Target and a bunch of other stuff), because a man with a gun was up on the hill threatening to shoot somebody.  The bottom line is it seems is stated well with a line from the movie Patton, "Americans love a winner, and they won't tolerate a Loser!"  While, I'm probably on the opposite spectrum of this ideology, I too love to win, but this obsession with winning can have a negative effect.  Kids playing ball like robots may win, but are they having fun?  Maybe they are, it just doesn't seem like it sometimes.  I'm not above having issues however, my standard line is that I'm good for one blowup a year.  I can go from breaking up a fight with the above mentioned Grandpa vs. Umpire one minute, and having issues myself with an opposing coach or old Blue about calls he made.  My first year coaching baseball I was hit in the face, groin, and other painful areas with baseballs, I had to put down a mutiny that was started by an Assistant Coach, write a statement for an ongoing court-case whose participants were team members, and deal with only child I have ever met that had a taste for dirt.
     One of the funniest moments I remember having is watching my hero Jesse hit his first Homerun.  It was in his first year a couple games into the season, and while it was a blistering line shot that got through the infield and went to the fence.  I saw, Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) in The Natural knock out all the lights, with that great music playing.  Very inspirational moment, and the excitement level reached an uncharted level.  I was screaming RUN!!!!  This wasn't a "Run Forest Run" kind of scream, this was a "RUN!!" you would hear if Freddy Kreuger or Jason Voohries was chasing you.  I swear this deal was more exciting than Sid Bream rounding third heading for home in the 1992 NLCS.  He made it all the way around, and I'll tell you, if you could bottle that type of emotion and excitement and sell it, you could make a mint.  Jesse, has hit plenty of Homeruns since then, and my excitement level is always high when I watch him play,  but that first one was something special.  It's a shame you can't just freeze time, and stay right in that moment for a while, because once it's gone, it's gone.
     Maddie's little team is very interesting.  I don't normally try and coach the under 5 set, and I always say, "Once they're about 6 you can send them to me, but before that I don't want no part of it."  It's truly like herding cats, and those cats sometimes don't want to be herded.  I've seen some well behaved and disciplined "Rag Ball" teams, but they either have unlocked a secret of the universe or used pharmaceuticals to achieve the desired level of compliance.  There are no outs and everybody scores and gets to bat, play all the positions,etc. etc.  It's a great experience for the parents no doubt, and probably that's who its for because the kids don't really seem to care that much at that age.  Playing in the dirt, rolling around in the grass, throwing gloves and helmets are the norm.  You have to watch very closely for a stray bat swing by the way.  This can be a very dangerous atmosphere.  The parents really dig it though, and I suppose that makes it worth it.  It reminds me of dressing a dog up in human clothes, and showing them off.  The dog can't stand it, but the doggy parent loves it.  Now, I know a lot of kids really enjoy playing at this age, but I'm only speaking from my own experience here.
     The ballpark can be a place of great fun and excitement, but there is a funny side to it.  While you're at a youth sports game pay attention to everything going on around you, and see if you don't agree with me about this being a prime source for a new Reality Show.  You could call it, "The Real Ballpark Moms", "The Days of our Ballpark Lives", or even "Hell's Ballpark" who knows it could be quite a success.  I should contact someone before my idea is taken, and somebody else makes the money on it.  I have truly enjoyed all sports that my kids have played up to this point, because they're mine and I enjoy seeing them throw the ball in the front yard.  I'm all about the ups and downs of the ole Ballpark, and I say "Play Ball!"