Thursday, May 30, 2013

Throwback Thursday

     Sometimes to truly appreciate where you are in life, you have to look back to where you've been.  Now, I have been in some pretty interesting situations over the years, and all of those experiences have shaped the person that I have became to this point.  A wise man once said, "Sometimes you have to go through Hell to get a true representation of Heaven."  I actually said that in a History paper I wrote recently, but I'm not 100% sure it is all mine.  I may have combined a few quotes to form another, but it's all good I suppose.  This one is dedicated to job interviews, first time employment, and Granny saving me from war.  Throwback Thursday is upon us.
     When I was growing up the options for employment or a career seemed to be limited to working in some kind of steel mill, military service, or some other labor intensive job.  There were some folks that went to college, obviously, but it some ways that was still an anomaly.  It took me a while to appreciate higher education, but I'm a true believer in it now.  My first big job interview was at American Cast Iron Pipe Company or ACIPCO.  My thinking at the time was, "If I could only get this job, I would be set!  This would be my ticket to easy street."  This ideology is comical at best, but at 18 that's the way my mind worked.  I put on my Sunday best and went to the interview confident that soon I would reach my destiny.  The interview was going pretty well until the question, "Mr. Perry, Have you ever been in a situation that would be considered dangerous?"  Now, I didn't want to answer with what I REALLY thought was dangerous at the time i.e., women, late beer runs through town, my parents, and daddy's of any kind.  I thought real hard and came up with this answer, "Yes, my father and I were working on a lawn mower recently and it caught on fire."  The interviewer then asked, "What did you do?"  Mama always told me to be honest so I said, "Hell, I ran!"  Needless to say, I didn't get the job.  Probably worked out for the best anyway, but you just never know.  This "Road Not Taken" or more accurately "Road not given a chance to Take" could have led to fame and riches, but probably not.
     My first real job was in the Summer of 1988 with an Ice company.  My job was to throw bags of ice off the back of a truck.  That was it.  Simple yet painful job description.  I got paid a couple cents (Either 2 or 3, I think) a bag commission.  I normally worked from about 7 am to 7 pm or so, and looking back my feelings are still the same, "It sucked."  Regardless, an event was about to happen that would change the course of not only my summer, but my employment.  Several buddies and I decided one Saturday night to go and camp out.  Everybody knows that you can't camp out without beer, but nobody had any money (I still had not received my first pay check).  We decided to go to Burger King parking lot and bum money to purchase beer and then go camp out in the woods.  Yep, we were trend setters, movers and shakers, the rebels......really just a bunch of punk idiots...truth be told.  Well the beer quest was successful and we purchased a case or so of Milwaukee's Best Light (We lovingly referred to it as "The Beast"), and headed to the woods.  The one glitch in the plan was the current drought that had been going on in our area, and the No-Burn ordinance that none of us seemed to know about.  We built a huge bon-fire in the woods, and of course this brought unwanted attention to our little party.  Long story short, the police came, saw, and took us to jail.  All that time borrowing money was wasted, not to mention the beer.  My father knew most of the policemen who took us in, and they let us all off pretty easy with no charges filed.  However, from this point on my father decided it would be better for me if I was supervised a little more closely.  He made plans for me to go to work for him at the City Park so he could "keep an eye on me", and I had to leave my job with the ice company.  Don't feel to bad for me, working for my father did have advantages, I got a great tan cutting grass and I was within a rock's throw from the City Pool so it couldn't have been that bad.
     As I mentioned above, Military service was an option that many kids my age seriously considered.  I was no different, and I had talked to all branches of the military about enlisting.  I finally settled on the Marine Corps, and I thought this would be my career path.  My grandmother (Granny) did not want me to go into the military, and she kept telling me that she had a bad feeling about it.  The day that I went to the recruiting office to as Granny said it, "Sign my life away", she had a plan.  She called over to the recruiting office while I was doing the paperwork, but before I signed the papers.  Like Vito Corleone, "She made me an offer I couldn't refuse", and offered to pay for me to attend Junior College.  This was a game changer, and I accepted and left the recruiting office quickly.  I still remember the Sergeant in charge of my recruitment holding my papers as I got the heck out of dodge.  Now, the interesting part to this is that "bad feeling" Granny had.  If I would have enlisted that day I would have been a part of the first Gulf War, and technically Granny saved me from serving during a war.  She never let me forget that, but I probably would have been better served to get the discipline in the Marines than majoring in Beer and Girls at the community college.  I found out later on that I had a knack for my own kind of service while I was in Law Enforcement for ten years.....but that is another story.
     I really enjoy looking back to where I have been, and it can be a bitter-sweet process sometimes.  I really would love to journey back in time and see all those familiar faces, smells, places, and people that I knew then.  I never really wanted to grow up and get a real job, and I feel like I have been able to stay young in my mind.  Your age is just a number, and you only are as old as you feel.  With the exception of much better habits, philosophy, and work ethic, I still feel like I'm in my 20s most of the time.  I reckon that's a good thing.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Quest for Peace: Enter the Wal-Mart

     The best stories of adventure keep us on the edge of our seats, and the hero of the story always has an adversary.  The protagonist always has an antagonist; Achilles had Hector, Leonidas had Xerxes, Superman had Lex Luthor, Star Trek had those Klingons, Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader, and The Incredible Hulk had that reporter guy.  Since I have taken on the roll of Mr. Mom my arch enemy and most ardent adversary has been the dreaded creation of Sam Walton:  Wal-Mart!  The following story is of a quest, and the obstacles that confront the participants as the journey continues.  Think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or Enter the Dragon meets Psycho and A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Well probably not to that extreme, but an interesting study of a journey through America's favorite store.  Fasten your seat belts, its gonna be a bumpy ride.
     On the day in question the task seemed simple: Go to Wal-Mart and purchase Weed-eater cord, Advil, Two Birthday Cards, Chicken, and Ice Cream.  I took on this challenge with both children in my company, and I should point out that this story took place a few years ago.  Almost immediately upon entering the domain of the everyday low prices I was hit with a foreboding sense of doom.  I was met almost immediately by a woman who proceeded to say how "Cute" my kids were, but then critique the outfit choice I had made.  I don't see anything wrong with a football jersey on a little girl, but this woman did.  It is a fact that a man with a baby is immediately considered a helpless soul who needs instruction by most women, especially those 50 and over.  Maddie saw a Dora toy that she had to have, and began to scream.  The woman immediately said, "When's the last time you fed that baby?"  I tried to explain that the issue laid with Dora not food, but this loud screech from my daughter drew the attention of more women.  The normal questions then came, "That baby is cold, why didn't you dress her warmer?", "She probably needs a diaper change!", and even "Bless his heart, Mama must be out of town."  I tried to tell these over bearing women, that I really do know what I'm doing or at least I can fake it pretty well.  I had to resist the urge from saying, "Look woman, I got this!"  I didn't but I really wanted too.  I was able to escape the clutches of the Hens from Hell, but my quest was severely altered at this point.  It would not be the last obstacle I encountered however.
     In the greeting card isle, which is tough enough without any distraction, we ran into an old family friend.  This man was, how do I say this nicely, at an advanced age.  He kept calling me "Frankie", and I didn't have the heart to tell him that that's not my name.  He asked me, "How's your daddy doing?"  My response, "Well not to good, he passed away several years ago."  The response, "I'm sorry to hear that I bet your Mama took it hard."  I said, "Well, not really, she passed away before he did."  I wrote this off to lack of knowledge, and I wasn't really offended.  However, I started to wonder just how good a family friend this old guy was in the first place.  After discussing that great one arm baseball pitcher, "Southpaw Sam" that supposedly he and Daddy went up against back in the day in an amateur baseball game, I was able to get away from him, and continue my quest.  I grabbed the best looking birthday cards I could find and high-tailed it for the weed-eater cord.  Got the cord and headed out, dodging other obstacles on the way.  I felt like Pac-Man trying to avoid those ghosts.  I was able to find the rest of my items fairly easily, and I headed for the check out.  I should have known this journey would not end well, and the most difficult obstacle was still ahead!
     I arrived at the check out, and immediately you have to deal with the product placement there.  Both kids are wanting candy, chips, etc.  My eyes are immediately drawn to the headline, "Brad and Angelina's Secret Affairs Revealed."  I stopped myself from reading this craziness, and told the kids "We have candy and chips at home!"  I looked forward and it appeared the checkout girl was having issues with the customer ahead of me.  This is not out of the ordinary, because Wal-Mart is a haven for troublemakers and difficult people anyway.  It wasn't long before I realized what was happening, the lady ahead of me was one of those extreme coupon people.  She was trying to get a million bottles of mouthwash and some kitty litter for free undoubtedly.  I waited for a while behind this nonsense, but I eventually looked to another checkout line.  The problem was there were only three checkouts open.  You would think that America's largest retailer would have more checkouts open, but you would think wrong.  I tried to get in another line, but I ran into another issue, another coupon lady!  Believe it or not, I never run into these people but on this day I run into two of them.  The wait seemed to take forever, but It was almost like accepting my fate at this point.  No reason to struggle or fight anymore, accept it and move on.  I did have to exchange my ice cream, because it had melted quite a bit during my wait. Just when I thought it was all over and I was going to make it out alive, the lady at the front of the store asked to see my receipt.  As if to say, "I think you stole something in here."  Of course, I couldn't find the darn thing anywhere,  I finally had to say, "Look, Lady!  Do I look like a guy who would bring two kids to Wal-Mart to steal stuff?"  She responded, "No you don't I guess, but you should dress that baby warmer!!  She's probably getting hungry too!"  I left the store feeling bitterly defeated.
     Chalk up a victory for my arch-nemesis, but I did escape without bodily harm befalling me or someone else so in that sense it was a small victory.  Sometimes small victories are all you can ask for when you have to deal with such a worthy adversary.  We shall meet again evil Wal-Mart!!  Sam and his minions can't keep a good man down!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Top 10 Signs you are an Uber Dad

Have you ever wondered just how to spot an Uber Dad?  Well, sure you have, and to assist in a positive identification of this elusive species of father called the Uber Dad I have provided a Top 10 List.  The following is the Top 10 Signs that you are indeed an Uber Dad......

#10).  The Smell of Spray N Wash is comforting and brings back memories

#9).  Changing a diaper is like a pit stop in the Daytona 500 (13 second average)

#8).  You understand the McDonalds Happy Meal toy rotation

#7).  You know and can state on command the rules of the school car pool line

#6).  You consider Dora and Diego a part of the family

#5).  Date Night has become the ultimate goal of your very existence

#4).  You have used the phrase, "Use your inside voice"

#3).  Women are constantly telling you what you're doing wrong in public places

#2).  Noise during nap time is seen as an act of aggression and is reason for a declaration of war

#1).  You hear the words "Bless his Heart" frequently

There they are, 10 signs.  Happy Uber Dad Spotting!

This Top 10 list is brought to you by our home office in Mt. Olive, Alabama.  Thank you for your support.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Report- The Week in Review

     The week that was:  Schools Out, The Pink Eye Summer Fest 2013 with the Sans Culottes, Instruction in Yard Work and gutter cleaning, and Saturday night shopping with dinner included.  That is pretty much an outline of what occurred around here last week, and as Memorial Day approaches the sweet smells of Summer fill the air.  Summertime seems to bring out the youth in all of us and all of a sudden we are transported back to another time when things were much easier, and life was all about finding a swimming hole for the day.  We all have to grow up, and get older that's a law of nature, but it sure is nice to have young ones around to re-visit that excitement that summer brings.  Now a blow by blow re-cap of the week that was!
     This week was supposed to be the last week of school, but Jesse was told by his teacher that he didn't really have to attend.  We were going to make him go anyway, because that's what evil parents do, but the textbooks were collected the week before.  It appeared that there was actually no reason to send him to school, which I have to say posed a philosophical problem for me.  We live in Jefferson County, Alabama, and the school system here turned stupid this past year as it related to the school calendar.  The idea of the "Snow Day" was ripped away from our children, because of a changed school calendar.  Now, the overwhelming fear was that school would be held on Saturday if a "Snow Day" was given.  This led to a near disaster when Snowpocalypse 2013 hit, and the schools waited till the last possible minute to let out schools to avoid the Saturday class session.  Ditches were filled with cars and I saw at least three accidents that day that I went to pick up Jesse, because the school let out right in the middle of the snowstorm.  Alabama is not a snow state, and no Alabamian should ever attempt to drive on snow or ice, it's just the way it is.  Well, due to the unfortunate timing and calendar of the school everyone had to drive in snow, and it had horrible results.  Well, the problem now is, "What's up with telling my kids that they don't have to come the last week?"  Now, I guess its OK to miss school, but you better not have a "Snow Day."  This whole idea made like zero sense to me, but none of it would have mattered anyway because of the arrival of "The Pink Eye Summer Fest 2013" at La Casa De Perry.
     Maddie was infected with the pink eye, and had to stay home from her school.  This conjuctivitis is an interesting malady.  It doesn't seem to really do anything, besides gluing your child's eye shut.  However, the idea of pink eye has brought fear in the hearts of children since I was a kid.  It is highly contagious so everything has to be washed or cleaned, and my main man Jesse had the quote of the week when I told him to put lotion on after his bath, "I don't need any lotion, I'm already too smooth!"  That's my boy.  My two youths also pulled what will be known as the "Sans Culottes" incident (Thats without pants in French.  I've studied the French Revolution...long story) to mess with dear old Dad.  My children decided to take off their pants run around the living room hollering, "Woo, Woo!" like Ric Flair, and lie in wait for me to arrive.  I did arrive to discover the children minus their pants, and the smiles and laughter let me know I had been victim to some type of nonsensical plan.  I taught Jesse how to cut grass during the pink eye epidemic, and while he's not ready for prime time just yet, it is a milestone.  I got a bit misty knowing my boy is growing up, but at least my yard will be cut by someone other than me.  We also cleaned out all the gutters as therapy for the pink eye, but it didn't work.  Jesse, as CEO for the "Pink eye support Network" vehemently opposed this action by the powers that be, but as I have said before, "This is not a Democracy."

     Last night, the entire family went out for a shopping excursion and then dinner at an unnamed restaurant.  Toys R Us was visited, and as always the people watching in there was priceless.  You see parents at their wits end, and on the edge of losing their mind but trying very hard to keep it all together.  You see folks from all walks of life, and they all have the same goal, "Get Out ALIVE!"  After Toys R Us we went shoe shopping for my darling wife.  Shopping for Women's apparel is like a sedative for me, and I don't think I'm alone, most of the men I see in these places all look as if under the influence of some type of sedative.  There is just nothing to look at, and women's shoes are the worst.  You can hold up a hundred shoes and say, "Do you like it?", and the answer would still be, "I don't know, and really I don't care?"  Sorry, but the same thing goes for women's clothes, I don't care what you wear, as long as its not a garbage sack or something, although I bet some women could pull that one off too.  After the shopping ended it was time to eat, and this is always an interesting adventure with the kids.  You never really know what personality is going to show up with these kids, and if it is not a good one, the dinner is doomed.  This culinary journey was actually successful, but the Mexican restaurant we went too seemed to be in awfully big hurry to get us out.  I've never seen faster service, Literally, Chips and Salsa to check in less than 30 minutes.  I had to make sure we didn't do something to offend.  The guy was there to pick up stuff as soon as I took the last bite, and the check was there in about 15 minutes.  I actually appreciated this, because I knew that at one cross word or action, Dr. Jeckyll the kid would show up and it would all be over.  We will return to Pablo's in Hoover, Alabama mainly due to the extremely fast service.  That is unless I find out that they really wanted us gone for some unknown reason.  Didn't try the fried ice cream though, I always do that at every Mexican restaurant I go to.  I'm on a quest to find the best fried ice cream in the world, but that is a story for another time.
     Like Walter Cronkite said, "And that's the way it was." for Uber Dad and family this past week.  I hope everyone has a fantastic Memorial Day, and remember all of those amazing and brave soldiers that protect the very freedom that we all enjoy as the BBQ is passed around.  Summer is here.  Soak it up.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Sounds of Madness

     There is a very thin line between sanity and madness, and by all accounts being in the presence of children constantly can increase one's chances of crossing that line. We all attempt to put forth a good example for our children, but every now and then the "Damn gets busted" so to speak, and the Loco Papa appears out of nowhere. I was trained to keep my wits about me during a stressful event, and for the most part I have been very successful at doing just that. The following are a few times that things got away from me a bit during my tenure as a Domestic God. 
     One summer a few years ago I had both children at home with me, because Jesse's school was on summer break and Maddie was not yet in pre-school. This particular day, my lovely children were particularly fascinated with cereal, and were keeping me hopping with requests for the tasty/sugary substance. We had plenty in the house, because I had recently had an adventure at Sam's Club and I came home with an industrial size box of various cereals. Just when I was about sick of cereal, Jesse yells to me, "There's someone sneaking up our front steps."  I looked toward our front door, and I saw a boy knock and then take off running. Without thinking I took out running after the culprit in "Hot Pursuit."  I chased the fellow throughout the neighborhood until he cut through a back yard, and then I realized that I had been giving chase with a box of cereal in my hand. I stopped and looked around, and all my neighbors were looking at me funny. There just so happened to be several of them out at the exact time that I decided to chase a teenage prankster while carrying a huge box of Fruit Loops. Fitting cereal choice I suppose, and the culprit escaped and I have been referred to as "Daddy Fruit Loop" from time to time in neighborhood lore. 
     There was another occasion when the totality of the circumstances threw me a huge curve ball. Maddie was still a baby, and Jesse was in Kindergarden and I had picked Jesse up at school while Maddie slept in her car-seat in the back. Upon arrival at home, I heard Jesse begin to scream out in obvious pain. The poor guy had slammed his finger in the car door. I frantically tried to free him from this horrible situation. I picked him up, and carried him upstairs to the bathroom. He was so freaked out that I sat with him on the bathroom floor with my legs crossed and him on my lap. We sat there long enough for my legs to get numb, and fall asleep. I was able to get to the phone to call my wife and update her on the recent events. One of her first questions to me was, "Where was Maddie when all this was going on?"  That's when the uh-oh moment came on, and I realized my lovely daughter was still in the car. Before you call me a horrible absent minded father, just know that Maddie is a wonderful sleeper and she slept through the whole thing. Whew!  Dodged a bullet on that one for sure!
     Finally, this wouldn't be an essay on Madness without the mention of the "Car Pool" line at the Elementary school. I like to call it the "Pick up-Line" (My favorite pick up line, Did it Hurt?  When you fell from Heaven.). But I digress, the car pool line at school has rules and I am a believer in following these rules. I am the King of the car pool line, and I don't mind saying that. When certain people attempt to bypass the system, ole Über Dad is not happy. I've seen some Mama's get awfully upset over a perceived "break" in the line. There have been times that I thought some of these altercations would come to blows, and it was oddly exhilarating. I've seen actual car accidents also, plenty of dead batteries, and all types of interesting people and occurrences.  It's a great place to people watch, and you get a real sense of what is all going on around the old schoolhouse. Just watch out for the Über Moms, they don't play in the car-pool line. 
     As you can see the "Sounds of Madness are everywhere" especially in the life of your average Über Dad. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Intro to the Uber Dad

     So here's the deal, I am an ex-cop with ten years on the street that up and left my position as Sergeant to take care of my kids full-time. I figured that having dealt with the worst of society that taking care of kids would be a breeze. Well, I was terribly mistaken and just plain wrong. I like to tell people that putting folks in jail was easy, but taking care of kids all day is a REAL job. I have two children, Jesse my ten year old son and Maddie my darling little 4 year old girl.  My wife is a wonderful woman who agreed to support this madness. She's got letters after her name (I always say Mama would've been proud to know her boy went and married a Doctor, PhD to be specific) and she makes a good living. To give the reader an idea what to expect with this blog, I'm going to tell three stories from different points in my journey with this life. I hope you enjoy!
     I grew up in a small town in Central Alabama and I worked with my father at the city park during the summers while I was in high school. There were plenty of interesting occurrences while working at the park. From falling asleep on a riding lawnmower and running over a fence to being chased by yellow jackets and having to jump into the creek to avoid being attacked. It was pretty tough working for my father, he was a tough man who knew a lot about everything and had served in the Navy during the end of World War II and The Korean War. When I had an occasion to work for him he had already retired from US Steel after 30 years and was now working for the city. I was pretty much a rebellious teenager who liked to drink beer, play football, and chase girls. This was during the 80s so I was rocking the mullet and listening to all the hair bands that were popular back then. Quite a culture shock between my father and I. One day a tractor broke down on one of the baseball fields and I was sent by my father to retrieve some type of tool. Now, I was not the most mechanically inclined fellow in the world so I really had no idea what the tool was supposed to look like. I figured that I could wing it, and maybe get lucky and bring back the right tool. There was no way I was going to let on to my father know that I was clueless about the tool. Upon arrival at the shed that housed all the tools it became apparent that this was a hopeless venture. I was immediately overwhelmed with the total amount of tools present. I figured I had two choices either pick the wrong tool and get yelled at or stay put right where I stood and wait it out. I chose the latter and made myself at home in the ole tool shed. My father, whose name was Frank, was working with the famous city handyman Elmo on the field at the time. After quite a bit of time had passed, my father began to wonder where I had went to, and finally Elmo said, "Frank, I don't believe that boy is coming back."  I didn't return, but my defiance caused issues for me later on, and I had to hide from my father in the City Pool for a while. 
     The Über Dad's guide to survival at the Wal-Mart part 1:  Wal-Mart is similar to the seventh circle of Hell as described by Dante, and if not approached correctly bad things are going to happen. A few tips to maximize survival:  #1). Formulate a plan and stick to it. Many a good man has fallen when entering the Wal-Mart unprepared. #2). Go early. Weekday mornings between 6-8 am provide the best chance for a positive outcome. Under no circumstances should an attempt be made to go at night. Friday and Saturday nights are a Freak Show, and like the song says, "The Freaks come out at Night."  3). Leave the kids at home. The evil product placement people have set a trap for the Über Dad with children in tow. 4). Give yourself extra time. You will encounter someone you know, and they will want to discuss your touchdown run against Pleasant Grove in 1989. Time management is essential. 5). Wal-Mart is also the home of those people you've known for 20-30 years, but now all of a sudden (as if possessed by an evil Wal-Mart demon) now act like they've never met you and ignore your very existence. You should approach and talk loudly to these people. The plan would be to make them so uncomfortable that the demon will be exorcised. This ends part one, but hang in there we're all in this together!
      There are moments in the life of a parent that bring a flood of emotions to the surface. This morning was one of those times. While the family was eating breakfast, my sole male heir, Jesse turns to me and says, "Bacon is a man's candy."  This young man makes me so proud. Well said son. Well said. However, after this breakfast love fest, I took the young man to get his hair did at a local salon. Upon arrival the lady at the front desk greeted us and we sat down to await the hair cutting specialist. The lady told the hairdresser, "There's a cute young man here to get his hair cut!"  I immediately responded, "No, I don't need a haircut we're here for my son."  She wasn't talking about me. Another day in the life of the Über Dad. 
    As you can see I like to tell stories, and everything I write about is true and actually happened to me.  I will write a lot about life with my kids, throw in some personal stories from my youth growing up in Alabama, and even weave a police story or two.  I like to write about fun and true events, and hopefully there will be some humor too.  This is only a blog, please don't try this at home.