Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cristos the Spartan and The Lost Bathroom

     I fancy myself a Spartan.  I like to think that my ancestors were from that fine lot of disciplined Greeks that descended from Hercules and settled on the Peloponnesian Peninsula.  In truth my people are probably of Welsh descent, but genealogy can only go back so far.  For example, Mark Antony and Cleopatra had children and some were lost to history, and if they survived the wrath of Augustus/Octavian then there would be a Cleopatra/Mark Antony lineage out there somewhere.  Pretty cool, huh?  I have become even more of a History geek than I was before, and History to me is like eating Krispy Kreme donuts...I can't get enough.  Cristos the Spartan has his origins in a paper that I wrote about a year ago, and I tried to include myself and many family members as characters in my Spartan epic.  Cristos is Chris in Greek if you haven't figured that out yet.  Cristos the Spartan has become my alter ego in my collegiate experience.  It's much better than "The Old Bald Guy."  I get that too.  Well this week Cristos had some issues with "The Lost Bathroom," and a Physical Science debacle. SPARTANS!!  Ready your breakfast, and eat hearty, because tonight, We Dine In HELL!!  Not really, but I like saying SPARTANS really loud any chance I get.
     My arrival at The Education building on the campus of the University of Alabama-Birmingham was going according to my fastidious planning, and I began to get a lay of the land.  My home for the most part during my stay in college has been the lovely Heritage Hall, and like many History majors I'm a stickler for things being just like I want them.  Heritage Hall is set up just like I want it to be, and I know where everything is....like the Bathroom.  I am a person who drinks a lot of water.  I mean a whole lot of water, and a side effect of this is going to the facilities quite often.  I always know where a bathroom is at all times, and this is comforting.  I'm a grown man, and when I've got to make water, by golly, I'm gonna make water.  On this day I was in the Education building for my Environmental Science class, and even though I've been attending UAB for a year now I have never been inside this building.  I found the classroom that I will be in, the snack machines, fire exits, comfortable chairs, but no bathroom.  I decided to ask the lady cleaning the glass doors where the restrooms were.  She gave me directions and pointed me on my way.  I attempted to follow her directions to the letter, but let's face it I'm no GPS.  Full of BS maybe, but GPS no.  I walked around and saw plenty of offices that appeared to contain important people, a lot of them had letters behind their names (like my lovely wife.)  I kept walking around what seemed like a maze, or to drop a historical reference, a Labyrinth, and I was afraid I was going to run across a Minotaur like the Athenian hero Theseus.  That's more mythology than history, but I digress.  I walked all the way around this complex maze of offices and doors until I ran directly into...the same lady that was still cleaning the glass doors.  She said, "Come on with me, baby.  I'll show you where it is."  I liked this for three reasons, #1- Southern women have a way with words.  The "baby" or "honey" you get is comforting, especially if you need to find a bathroom, I guess, #2- She was going to show me where the bathroom was, and #3- If she called me "baby" she doesn't think I'm "The Old Bald Guy."  She took me to the location, and said, "There it is, right there."  I thanked her, and she was on her way.  I walked down the hall, and realized that I still did not see a bathroom.  At this point, I thought I was going to lose my mind, and I kept thinking "I know I'm going to run into that nice lady again, and Lord knows what she's going to think this time."  Finally, I found some students sitting on the floor in the hallway waiting to enter a classroom and I asked, "Is there a bathroom right here anywhere or am I losing my mind?"  He answered, "Yes, right there."  I looked and finally I saw the elusive bathroom.  They say the most important factor in Real Estate is Location, Location, Location.  Well, the same can be said for bathrooms.
     I also found out this week that Physical Science still sucks.  It sucked in the 9th grade when Mrs. Fortenberry poured water on my head, and it still sux now.  Only now it appears that Physical Science involves Calculus or something.  Did I mention that I'm a History major.  I have 5 classes remaining before I graduate.  5 classes left.  That's it, just 5.  2 of these classes have to be Sciences with a lab, and I have found a wonderful Environmental Science class that is both fun and not full of Calculus, Trigonometry, fractions, or anything to do with math.  I had a sense of foreboding doom when I ran into the guy who recommended this wonderful Physical Science lab, and called it "Easy", on the way to class the other day.  We talked for a moment, and I told him I took the class he recommended and he said, "That's great, if you know your Pre-Calc you'll be fine."  I said, "I don't know my Pre-Calc, hell I don't know my Pre-Basic Math.  It's been nearly a quarter of a century since I took a math class."  I told my Japanese Professor that too, and I got a blank stare.  I mention that he is Japanese only because he has a very thick accent, and that led to a very comical moment.  He was talking about a formula of some kind and S was a variable that needed to be solved.  When he said S it sounded like another word for your buttocks if you get my drift.  He said, "Is the S, a sphere?  Is the S a circle, or is the S something else."  My S is something else...just kidding.  Well, the long and short of the Physical Science journey is that the Professor passed out a sheet with "Math Refresher Exercises," but it looked like Greek to me.  I thought, "If this is a refresher, then I am in deep trouble.  I'm out of my league in this class."  Come to find out that I was right.  There was a Math Pre-Requisite for this class, and I didn't have it.  However, for some reason I was able to register for the class.  I turned in my blank sheet of Math refresher problems, and added a new class "Europe Reconstructed."  That's more my speed.  Don't get me wrong, if someone taught me how to do these problems or I learned them in some other way, then "It's on!", I got this, but this is kind of like turning a screw without a screwdriver, hammering a nail without a hammer, cutting down a tree without a saw, etc.  I see Earth Science in my future.  If you want a paper on Xerxes then I'm your man, but don't ask me to explain the theory of relativity.  Cristos the Spartan is a History guy, but you knew that already.

      
    

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ostriches, Peacocks, and Snakes, Oh My!

     I spent ten years in Law Enforcement, and I've got plenty of fabulous stories from my time as a police officer.  Some of the most entertaining stories seemed to involve animals.  I've chased a horse down Main St., herded goats on U.S. Hwy 31, and had to corner a raging bull on I-65.  However, none of those incidents compared to the following animal stories.  Just keep in mind:  This edition of the Uber Dad Chronicles is filmed on location with the men and women of Law Enforcement.  All animals are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
     One fine Saturday many years ago a very young Officer Chris Perry was on routine patrol.  The following call came in, "Lady called, said she was attacked by a Snapping Peacock.  She wants the peacock arrested.  314 (my call # at the time) can you respond?"  I wanted to say, "Well, no," but you gotta do what you gotta do.  While I was en route to this "Snapping Peacock" call I began to think, there's no way there actually is a peacock, more less a "Snapping" one, whatever the heck that is.  Upon arrival I saw the culprit immediately.  A bowed-up peacock was on the front porch, and the lady that called was trapped inside her glass door.  I thought, "Well, what do you know....an actual peacock."  I began to walk toward the suspect peacock, and the lady cracked the door open and said, "This thing won't let me leave, and be careful it's violent."  I said, "Don't worry ma'am we're professionals."  We were professionals at putting drunk rednecks in jail, not peacock removal, but you have to try and keep the populous calm in times of danger.  I really had no idea what in the hell I was going to do with a peacock, but I took the bird (It is a bird, right?) on like a boss.  I approached the suspect, and tried to grab it.  The peacock proceeded to flog me at this point.  He got after it too, flogged me real good.  I wish I could set this scene for you:  Multi-colored peacock feathered monster flogging me, and my immediate retreat.  Feathers flying.  Me running.  Fast.  I started to shoot the thing for assaulting an Officer, but I wasn't sure if it would have been a justifiable homicide or birdicide (It is a bird, right?)  I narrowly escaped, and the peacock went back up on the porch.  I then did what any self-respecting tough Cop would do.....I called the Fire Department.  The fail safe Fire Department call.  I figured, these guys eat smoke for a living so they should be able to handle a peacock.  The peacock put up a valiant fight, but at the end of the day the Fire Department won the battle.  The peacock was relocated.  I didn't ask where it was relocated, I was just glad the thing was gone.  As far as I know one of the Firemen ate the thing, and I say "Good Riddance, Peacock!"  A bit of advice:  If you see a peacock, be careful.  I know they're cute and all, but Devil Birds are they!  It is a bird, Right?
     Snake calls happened regularly, and were never one of my favorite things to do.  There was one occasion when my immediate supervisor and I thought we had outsmarted the snake call.  The call concerned a snake in the ceiling of the basement of a nice lady's house, and we were tasked with the removal of said snake.  Well we thought, "We've got fire extinguishers in the car, let's just freeze the snake and then we can extract him all easy like."  So we sprayed the snake repeatedly with our trusty fire-extinguishers.  We were all proud of ourselves, and thought we were some kind of genius snake wranglers.  Then it dawned on me; these aren't the freezing kind of fire extinguishers.  These were dry-powder fire extinguishers not the CO2 freezing variety.  By the time I realized our mistake, we had already filled this poor woman's house with so much dry powder from those extinguishers that it looked like a mushroom cloud inside.  We tried to play all of this off by blaming the fire extinguisher company.  We called the Fire Department (happened a lot in these cases, I know.)  Snake gone.  House was extremely powder-filled from the fire extinguisher faux pas, but the sweet female resident thanked us anyway powder issues and all.  You see that's what it is all about, helping folks.
     One of the best practical jokes ever played in the history of practical jokes, in my opinion, involved an animal call at good old Fultondale PD.  I'll set the scene for you:  My immediate supervisor was off this particular day playing golf, and a fellow officer in the department decided to play a joke on him.  He called him on the golf course and said, "Perry's got a rabid possum at a lady's house down by the park, and he want's permission to shoot it."  At first the response was, "Don't shoot it, find a stick or something and...." but then realizing that this stick maneuver may be cruel and unusual punishment for the poor possum (rabies or not) my supervisor changed his mind and said, "Ok, go ahead and shoot it." This wasn't that unusual, and you would be surprised at how many times animals had to be dispatched in this manner.  A few moments later my fellow officer called the boss back and said, "Perry used the shotgun, and missed and hit that poor woman in the leg!"  The fun and hijinks ensued from there.  It was a perfectly executed joke, and I wish I could take credit for coming up with it.  I was only a minor participant, but I can't remember laughing harder than I did that day.  I got school traffic duty for a few days, but it was worth it. 
     Well, that was three of the best animal stories I got from my years in law enforcement.  Wait a minute, I forgot the one about the ostrich.  That one wasn't technically a "police story," but involved my brother and his run in with an ostrich in Graysville, Alabama.  He called me up one day and said, "Chris, I got an Ostrich running around in my backyard!"  He decided to become an Ostrich hunter and go on Safari or something.  I initially thought that maybe he had been shaking Jim Beam's hand that day, but it turned out to be an accurate description of a large bird.  It just wasn't an ostrich.  It was an Emu.  There supposed to be really tasty.  I guess we could have found out if the Ostrich Hunter of Graysville, Alabama (Frank Perry Jr.) would have been successful at actually catching the big bird.  It is a bird, Right?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Play it Again? The Grass Roots Campaign to Re-Play Fultondale vs. Mortimer Jordan 1989-90

     The first day of school has came and went with no real issue or problems.  We have shifted completely into a fall-like mode at the Perry house.  Football and schoolwork are the dominate forces around here lately, and that is as it should be.  This football and school state of mind caused me to have an epiphany while cutting grass the other day.  I want to re-play the 1989 football game between Fultondale and Mortimer Jordan.  This is a "grass" roots campaign, pun intended, and I think if us old men didn't kill ourselves this could be a awesome exercise in the re-creation of history.  If you played in that game or you would just like to see a bunch of 40 something  year old men dress out in full football gear to re-play a long forgotten (by some) football game from nearly a quarter of a century ago...keep reading.  I am also going to spin a yarn about "Toilet Paper Rustling" and "Yellow Jackets will make you do stupid stuff" while I'm at it.  Tee it up!
     My Senior year of high school was all in all a pretty awesome experience, and produced many outstanding memories that will stay with me a lifetime.  However, there was one event that will forever be seared into my memory.  This event has stuck in my craw for nearly 25 years.  It was a football game, and it was a highly competitive contest between Fultondale and Mortimer Jordan.  The final score was 7-6, and only a missed extra point separated these two teams when the final whistle blew.  You can probably figure out which team came up on the losing end here.  I was a Senior at Fultondale High School for that 1989-90 season that had so much promise, and this particular loss did more to change the complexion of a normally otherwise successful season than any other.  This loss was worse than our trip to Greensboro the previous year, and we thought we were playing the Georgia Bulldogs due to the Red and Black uniforms and that all familiar "G" on the helmets.  The statement was made by bystanders as we walked in our perfectly uniform straight line to the field, "What are ya'll, The Junior High?"  We were outmatched that day, and unfortunately we knew it, but the game of which I speak here was an even contest.  I understand that most of the participants in this game may not want to risk injury at our advanced age, and will think this idea is insane at best.  I beg to differ.  Let's play the game!  Just like in the Kurt Russell, Robin Williams classic movie "The Best of Times", we can do this gentlemen.  The fact that we lost that game by one point, and it was such a fun and exciting game makes it worth playing again, doesn't it?  I don't know, but I think it could even raise some money for charity too, because you know folks would want to see us old guys get after it.  This type of thing has happened in different parts of the country.  Look it up.  This old Defensive End/Tight End wants one more moment in the sun.  One more athletic contest.  One more game.  Let's do it.  I've been trying to live by the motto, "Keep some sunshine on your face" lately.  This means that you should do what makes you happy.  That's the reason for my Uber Dad turn.  Going back to college at 41.  This blog.  Well, football makes me happy too.  I've got enough for one more game.  How bout you?
     Another thing I was reminded of while cutting grass was that Yellow Jackets make you do stupid stuff.  I've had run-ins with these horrible creatures most of my life.  I've been attacked many times, and these are very aggressive insects that pack a powerful sting.  I've learned from past experiences that gas will kill them, but if you're going to set said gasoline on fire in the yellow jacket hole, Do it quick.  Don't wait for the gas fumes to rise, because then you've got an explosion of epic proportions.  Not that I've ever done that before or anything.  I had one occasion at our present home where yellow jackets were underneath our deck, and were causing great issues for grilling out or just spending time outside.  I decided to attack the yellow jacket stronghold.  This is not a venture for the weak.  I knew that these dastardly demons would try and sting me into oblivion, but I was up for the challenge.  I covered my entire body in whatever I could find, and once finished I was covered in blankets and had a pillow case with eye holes cut out on my head.  I kind of looked like the main character from that 80s horror movie, "The Town that Dreaded Sundown."  I think that was the name of it.  Well, imagine me, in my get up, running around in my backyard toting a can of gasoline.  Trust me I got some strange looks and phone calls from neighbors on that day.  Yellow jackets died, though, and that my friend is a good thing. I sent those yellow jackets to a gasoline induced watery grave.  That's right.  I may be a goof ball, but I can bring the pain.
     Lastly, I would like to tell a bathroom story.  If you've never had children or you're not crazy about the things that go on in a bathroom, Turn away now.  Stop reading.  You've been warned.  Yesterday morning I had to take Maddie to school and swimming lessons and take Jesse to school also. This happens on Tuesday mornings most weeks when I have to get both children to school safely, because Cheryl has an early meeting.  We didn't have any swimsuit issues this time (Thanks to the non cross-strap blue swimsuit.)  However, after I had put all the swimming clothes on Maddie she had to go to the bathroom.  I didn't see any other option but to take all the clothes back off for her to go.  Once the deed was done I noticed there was no toilet paper.  I hate that almost as much as I hate cross-strap swimsuits.  I yelled out to Jesse to fetch some more toilet paper.  He gave me the, "Yes sir" and was off.  I waited.  Waited some more.  I heard plastic and toilet paper wrapping rustling, and then it stopped.  I heard rustling again, and again.  Finally, I thought "I don't believe he's coming back."  Wouldn't have been a big deal, except for the fact that I'm sitting here with my naked daughter who desperately needs this toilet paper.  Trust me.  She really needed this toilet paper, and that's all I'm gonna say about that.  Then I heard rustling again.  I couldn't stand anymore, so I left poor Maddie alone and naked to go and seek out my lost son.  I found him attempting to open the large container of toilet paper and the wrapping it was contained in.  We are Sam's shoppers so we get industrial size packages of toilet paper.  I told him, "We're going to have to work on the upper body strength there, killer."  He's heck on the football field, baseball diamond, schoolyard, and you name it he get's after it, but he can't open the toilet paper package.  I was able to finish the job with Miss Madison, because like my sweet "Granny" used to always tell me, "No job is finished until the paper work is done."
     What have we learned today?  We've learned that I'm a glutton for punishment and I want to re-play a 25 year old football game again and risk injury at my advanced age.  We've learned that I hate yellow jackets.  We've also learned that Jesse cannot open a toilet paper package.  That's a lot to learn in one sitting.  I am serious about re-playing this game, and even though I posted that in fun here, I would love to get enough people to play it.  Who knows?  We could make a movie about it.  I would only need a cash advance and a percentage of the profits for coming up with the idea.  That's all for now.  Until we meet again.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wounded at Best Buy, Choke slam Chuck E Cheese, and Mia the Drunk GPS

     The past few days have been full of activities for the family.  We've been an extremely busy clan of late, and while I love being busy and doing stuff sometimes you miss the subtle beauty and comical genius of life when you go so fast.  I've picked out three different adventures from this past week to write about, and they are:  Wounded in the Best Buy, Mia the drunk GPS, and Choke slam Chuck E Cheese.  What follows is a true and accurate description of the events as I know them to have occurred.
     The first event worthy of mention here occurred at Best Buy.  Let me say I love Best Buy.  I love the smell of the place.  I love electronics.  I love TVs.  I love Computers.  You get the point.  Well, I was in the market for a new lap top and I decided to check out several Best Buy locations around the metro Birmingham area, cause that's how I roll.  Cheryl, Maddie, Jesse, Nana, and Paislee (Who would be Nana's other grand-daughter from her husband's side or Cousin in Law?), anyway I spent several days shopping for a laptop.  My wife, Cheryl did a lot of research on this new laptop, cause that's how she rolls.  She's kind of like a human version of Consumer Reports, and if you're going to make a new purchase; you're gonna make the right one.  Well, on one of these trips to Best Buy, Jesse was pushing Maddie and Paislee around on a buggy in the store.  The Best Buy buggies have a very small basket area thing, and then a long undercarriage for placing large boxes I guess.  They're different than your average buggy, and the two girls wanted to ride on the lower part.  Jesse was quite the trooper, and he pushed these girls around the store for a very long time.  They were riding in style let me tell you, it was kind of like a cross between a magic carpet ride, and a parade float.  Jesse was so into his task that he ran over his leg, and caused an injury to his shin area.  He was down.  He was wounded in the Best Buy.  While this tragedy occurred I was staring longingly at the Apple section of the store (I still have drool marks on my shirt, I love Apple stuff.) I was forced to stop fantasizing about Steve Jobs' greatest creations, and I had to save Jesse from impending doom.  I picked him off the floor as the girls were saying, "More, Jesse!  More, Jesse!"  I started to tell him, "Rub some dirt on it, you'll be all right", but I say that often and recently at football practice Jesse busted his leg open, and he actually rubbed dirt on it (Much to the dismay of his mother.)  My main man Jesse got up and brushed himself off, and continued to give these young girls a wonderful buggy ride.  That's just how J-Jam rolls, and I love him for it.  I did actually end up purchasing a computer, but not a Mac (frowny face.)  I got a fine Toshiba product, that I am using right now.  New computer smell too.
      Maddie has a behavioral system where she has to color in letters of something she wants to do, and she only gets to do so from performing good behavior.  The idea is that she only gets to go to the fun places she wants to visit if she earns the privilege of doing so.  The system works pretty well most times, but the last desired location for Maddie was the dreaded Chuck E Cheese.  Chuck E Cheese belongs in a special place along side of Wal- Mart in my 9 circles of Hell.  This is where Maddie wanted to go, and she had earned the right to do so.  Like a good soldier I decided to "Drive On" and do what needed to be done.  We arrived at Chuck E Cheese, and I immediately noticed that a Day Care facility of some type had buses parked out front.  If you don't travel to these kind of places often, that is a really bad sign.  We had reached the point of no return however, and it was now or never.  We received our invisible stamp, and it was off to the races.  Video games, lousy Pizza, and that damned rat.  Sorry for the bad language, but I don't like the rat.  I don't like his songs, I don't like his look, and I really don't like his voice.  Is it bad that I have a strong desire to walk up and choke slam the rat?  Maybe that's just my issue, but on this day when Chuck E made his first appearance I almost followed through on that desire.  My better Angels prevailed, however.  We rocked on for a while, and even though it really tests my patience I'm glad the kids like it.  It's unfortunate that some children don't have manners or supervision of any kind while they're in this place.  I would be absolutely mortified if one of my kids were as obnoxious, pushy, and down right mean as some of the kids that are possessed by Chuck E Cheese and his demon arcade.  That's where we're at these days though, find a place to let your kids run wild and look at your phone for two hours an don't pay any attention to what they're doing.  We were able to survive the first onslaught of the Chuck, but then came the all important ticket cashing in phase.  This is a conspiracy here.  You spend nearly a hundred bucks to get 50 cents worth of crap prizes.  It is the most painful part of the whole ordeal, but I persevered.  We survived the Rat and his minions.  I'm sure it won't be the last time I see his rodent face.
     Finally, a little story about our new GPS.  The new GPS is named Mia.  I like to think it's called Mia, as an abbreviation for "Missing in Action," but it is actually named after Mia the Pink Power Ranger.  That was Maddie's idea.  In a former life the GPS was named Flo, and she served Grandma and Grandpa very well in the Great State of Wisconsin (Thanks Guys!)   On Saturday morning Jesse and I had to go to a Football weigh in, and I wasn't exactly sure where the place was so we hooked up Mia.  Cheryl hooked up Mia to be exact.  Mia sounds a lot like Siri on my iPhone, and I wonder if they're not related somehow.  I asked Mia about that, but she doesn't converse with me like Siri does.  Same attitude, but no interaction.  I guess she doesn't mingle with the help.  On our journey Mia sounded like she had a few too many Martinis, and I wondered if she didn't have a drinking problem.  Her words were slurred a bit at first, but I think it may have been a connection problem or operator error.  Mia got us to the general location, but I took a wrong turn.  Then she got kind of huffy and abrupt with me.  She seemed to switch to a French accent and said, "Turn here now, Idiot."  She didn't really say "idiot," but I heard that anyway.  I did learn that even if you screw up the GPS will still find you a new route.  She led us to the promised land of Oneonta Rec. Center in Oneonta, Alabama and I thank her for her service to the cause.  Mia, I salute you.  I only wish you were more of a conversationalist.  Siri you're not.
     Well, that just about does it for this edition.  Football is in full swing, and everyone is having a blast.  School starts back tomorrow, and nobody is too thrilled about that one.  Soon I will be walking down the streets of History, and Environmental and Physical Science too at the University of Alabama Birmingham.  I'm a Blazer and proud of it!!  Still a BAMA fan for life, but I love me some UAB.  This has been a fair and balanced retelling of the events of the past few days, and our reporting here at the home office in Mount Olive, Alabama, as always, is true and actually did occur.  I have been known to take some poetic license at times and have been accused of stretching the truth, but truth is stranger than fiction.  This life of ours is definitely the "Truth" and it sure ain't fiction. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Dora Swimsuit Miracle

     I believe in miracles.  Always have.  Always will.  Miracles happen every day for many different reasons, and to different people in different walks of life.  I have been lucky enough to be a part of quite a few miracles in my time here on earth.  Undoubtedly, I've got some pretty good Guardian Angels or Somebody up there must like me.  Just yesterday I experienced an amazing event that I would like to detail here.  This one will forever be known as, "The Dora Swimsuit Miracle" around here.  This is a moving story about a young girl, her father and brother, and an obstinate swimsuit.  I hope this story will be as motivating and inspirational to you as it was to me.
     Swimming lessons for my lovely Miss Madison at her school Tuesday morning at 8:15 in the AM, that's the task I was given by my wife.  Every Tuesday, my wife has an early meeting so I have to take Maddie to her school or any events she has going on those mornings.  Monday night I was informed that on this day Maddie had swimming lessons, and Cheryl had laid out a swimsuit, one of those cover-up deals, and Crocs for Maddie to wear.  The swimsuit she had chosen was one that I was familiar with, and not for any warm and fuzzy reason.  The swimsuit was a Dora inspired model that had a picture of the cartoon character, and was one of those that have the crossing straps that I believe were only invented to cause undue grief for dads who cannot figure out how they work.  There are many things I have discovered since having a daughter that I just can't figure out, but this swimsuit thing has caused me much stress in the past.  I told Cheryl, "Everything is fine, except that swimsuit, I can't do that swimsuit."  She said, "It'll be OK that's the one that Maddie wants to wear."  I replied, "No, you really don't understand.  I CAN'T do the swimsuit.  I have never been able to make the straps do whatever it is they are supposed to do."  She tried to give me a lesson in Cross-Strap Swimsuit 101, but no matter how easy she made it look I knew that trouble was coming for me the next morning.  I made sure to have a back-up blue swimsuit with normal straps on hand, but I was going to give it my best effort regardless.  I'm not one to back down from a challenge, and I took this one on like any other.  The morning came, and I woke the children up early.  Jesse was tired from football practice the night before, but like the trooper he always is he got up and got after it.  Maddie followed suit, and she was remarkably well behaved on this morning.  Maybe she had the same foreboding sense of doom that I had, and knew trouble was brewing.  The moment of truth came soon enough, and my first attempt at the swimsuit happened just like I thought it would.  I got the swimsuit all the way on to the shoulders, but then those dang straps were hanging there not in their right place.  The straps were taunting me, and my frustration grew.  I tried several more times, but no success.  I called my right hand man, my hero, young Jesse Christopher Perry to assist me.  Jesse knows a lot about a lot of things, but he don't know nothing about cross-strap Dora swimsuits.  We were at a stalemate, and I was so irritated that I yelled, "Please!!  For the Love of Everything!  Help me Lord!!"  Maddie was upset, because I think she knew the chances were slim that I was ever going to figure out the swimsuit straps.  I said, "I'm only gonna try this one more time, and then we're moving on to my blue normal strap back up."  I grabbed the suit, put it on, pulled it up to her shoulders, and then the miracle.  The straps just went into place, guided by divine intervention, no doubt.  It was an amazing event to be sure.  I kind of felt like Paul on the road to Damascus or Moses on Mt. Sinai.  I had witnessed yet another Miracle.  Maddie was able to wear the swimsuit she wanted, and it was good.
     I have witnessed several Miracles in my time.  Most recently in addition to the above mentioned "Dora Swimsuit Miracle."  The "Jesse Walk-Off Miracle" happened back during baseball season.  Down two runs in the last inning after a heart to heart with the man upstairs Jesse tattooed one with a man on, and we walked off with an amazing win.  It could have been that Jesse is a fine baseball player, and it was pure skill, heart, determination, and awesome team work that won that game.  I believe there was some miracle working going on there too, however.  It's a miracle that I don't kill some folks on a daily basis. It's a miracle that I didn't end up dead or worse from a wild youth.  It's a miracle that my lovely wife decided to spend her life with me, and the two kids...no doubt....miracles the both of them.  This line of thought got me to thinking.  One of the requirements for Sainthood involves miracles.  Two verifiable miracles to be exact.  I got that part handled.  So I did some research to see what the other requirements were.  The requirements are:  Evidence of having led an exemplary life of goodness and virtue worthy of imitation, having died a heroic death (martyrdom), or having undergone a major conversion of heart where a previous immoral life is abandoned and replaced by one of outstanding holiness.  Hold on here, I got a shot.  I'm going to send in my resume today.  I should go ahead and fill out my "Application for Sainthood."  I wonder if they have that online or do I have to arrive in person.  How would that look as an occupation, Saint.  I need to pursue this further.  I know there is already a Saint Christopher, but I bet there has never been a Saint PerryDawg.  Hmmmm.  
      Yes.  Miracles are everywhere.  You just have to look around and you'll see them.  They're in nature. They're in the faces and smiles of children.  Babies laughing.  Alabama football.  I've known some sure enough Saints too by the way.  My mother was a Saint to be sure.  Saint Patsy has a good ring to it.  My wife should qualify too, for putting up with me all these years, and doing it with such grace and patience.  Well, that's the story of The Dora Swimsuit Miracle.  I hope we've all learned a lesson from this story.  Never buy a cross-strap swimsuit if you are a little-girl stuff challenged father.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Green Tomato Picking Incident & Alcibiades vs. Bigfoot

     This week has been a great week of fabulous Football and remarkable play by young J-Jam Sixkiller, and we have tried to enjoy the remainder of Summer Break before school starts back again.  Jesse starts back to school a week from Monday, and I have to go back two weeks from Monday (I am a 41 year old college student, lest we forget.)  Summer tends to go by way too fast these days, and it is kind of like a hanging in the old west.  There wasn't any of this waiting around for decades to get done in.  You were tried in the morning and hung in the afternoon, all quick and efficient like.  Summer Vacation has gone by like that this year, and I find myself thinking, "Hold up, Summertime...I've got a few more things I would like to do before it's all over."  The other day I had a chance to eat some fantastic fried green tomatoes and I thought of a story involving that not yet ripened culinary treat.  I've also got a few thoughts about this whole back to school stuff, and a little on one of my favorite words, "Integrity" at the end.  Enjoy this summer with the ones you love, because it sure goes by way too fast and when the hangman's noose is ready....That's all she wrote.
     Many years ago in the lovely village of Fultondale, Alabama (It's not a village, it's actually a city, but village sounds more pleasing to the ear) a young lad committed a sinister act of vandalism that will live forever in the lore of Bessie Avenue.  This young lad will forever pay for his crime, and the memories of his dastardly deed are still etched in his conscience to this day.  Ok, enough with the vivid description, what happened involved me, my father, the entire neighborhood of Bessie Avenue (the street I grew up on), and a green tomato.  My father had recently started to grow a few tomato plants, and they became very important to him.  He cared for these plants day and night, and waited with much anticipation for that first sign of a budding tomato.  Finally, after much time and effort had passed a lovely green tomato appeared on one of my father's tomato plants.  The excitement level reached a fever pitch around the Perry house, and my father made an attempt to spread this excitement throughout the entire neighborhood.  He invited several of our neighbors over to our home to view this lovely green tomato.  My father had the kind of hands that were rough and hard from years of difficult work, and they had they looked like you could strike a match in the middle of them with no problem.  I remember watching those rough hands gently touch this tomato, and show it off with pride.  While I watched this event I was suddenly possessed by something sinister.  A voice in my head said, "Pick that tomato!"  I tried very hard to suppress this evil, but it continued to hound me with this whole picking of the tomato idea.  Once the lovely tomato celebration was at an end I once again came to the side of the house the tomato was on..this time alone.  I looked at the this innocent tomato, and once again was possessed to pick it.  I can't tell you what made me do it.  It was pure evil I feel sure, and like they say, "The Devil made me do it."  I walked over to the plant, and picked this green tomato from its comfortable position on the vine.  I left it on the ground for all to see.  My father discovered the tomato later that afternoon, and for some reason there was not a big investigation.  I was the guilty party, and he knew it.  I don't really remember why it was so easy to figure out that I was the culprit, but it could have been divine inspiration that led to my comeuppance.  It was quite a comeuppance let me tell you, because punishment was much different back in the day.  The severity of this punishment was only rivaled by the "Peeing in the Street Incident of 1980."  I have always felt awful about what I did that day, and I still don't have a good explanation for my crime.  All I've been able to come up with for my reasoning was, "It was there."  My father was able to forgive and forget, but the crime never really fades from memory.  On a lighter note, Mama fried that fine green tomato and it was pretty good.
     The back to school process has begun with the purchasing of supplies and the preparation of the children.  I am personally really excited about my own school experience, and I can't wait to begin again.  This past year while attending The University of Alabama at Birmingham as a 41 year old college senior I have enjoyed every single minute of it.  I've walked the streets of Birmingham in the 19th Century, shared a cup of coffee with Henry James, learned from Plato and Socrates, admired an amazing Athenian scoundrel named Alcibiades, got chills listening to the re-telling of Leonidas and his 300 Spartans last stand at Thermopylae, and felt really sorry for poor Louis XVI who was probably just the wrong king at the wrong time (Off with his Head!)  I have tried to get Jesse and Maddie to become as excited about school as I am, but Maddie majors in the Playground Sciences and Jesse is more concerned with anything but school.  Jesse is a smart kid and he is in the RLC/TAG class which is supposed to mean he's gifted or something, but I've seen the kid try and work a lawnmower and I remember thinking, "Yep, he's gifted all right, gifted at trying to get out of work."  But I digress.  Jesse did get excited about a project he had in the RLC class last year about Bigfoot or as the Native Americans call him Sasquatch.  He did a really fine job on this project, but he forgot that he has an Amateur Cryptozoologist living in the house with him.  I am a self-proclaimed expert on the subject of Bigfoot, and have been since I was a kid.  My fascination with anything Bigfoot began when my childhood hero Steve Austin the Six Million Dollar Man had to fight Bigfoot.  The Bigfoot on TV fighting the Bionic Man was a scary one, and my fascination began.  I have studied about this creature, and I have always rooted for there actually being a Hairy Man Ape roaming the forest.  I told Jesse that he has to learn to use his resources more wisely, because I could have helped him write a humdinger of a report about Bigfoot.  Any version of the legend, Bigfoot, The Skunk Ape, Yeti, Sasquatch, Yowie, Big Hairy Man, Abominable Snowman, Wood Booger, and I could go on and on.  I can be just as goofy and act just as stupid as those guys on TV looking all around the country for Bigfoot, but never really find him.  I think Jesse realized that I was an expert on the subject and he should have consulted said expert, but come to think of it he has yet to ask me about anything he does in school.  He pretty much avoids me all together with his school work, and goes straight to his Mother for help.  Wonder why?  It's a mystery I tell ya, kind of like the compulsion to act goofy when you try on a funny looking hat (See Pic Below.)
     Finally, I would like to mention one word.  This word means a great deal to me.  Integrity.  Integrity is defined by Merriam Webster as:  A Steadfast adherence to a strict moral and ethical code.  I've seen this quality appear less and less in recent years.  It is much harder to find Integrity.  My life hasn't always been what I would call a Church Social, but I try to show my kids some Integrity at the very least.  My father had this quality, and I admired him for it (even if I picked his green tomato.)  My wife's parents have this quality, and I admire them for it.  Many of my teachers and coaches from yesteryear have this quality also, and I admire them.  Point is more people should have Integrity these days, but they just don't seem to care as much as they used to.  My hope is that enough parents today have it, and they pass it on to their kids.  Maybe the next generation will be the best one yet.  That's what I'm trying to do.  That's all for my soap box, and I will step off it now.  I hope everyone has an awesome remainder of their summer vacation and soaks up some more rays before school starts.  By the way, the title of this post mentioned Alcibaides vs. Bigfoot.  I'm extremely fond of both of those guys, but I give the edge to The Athenian Renegade Alcibiades.  Mainly, because we actually know he existed, and Bigfoot probably wouldn't show up for the contest anyway.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Back to School Gauntlet and The Blue Helmet Blues

     The yearly ritual of Back to School shopping is one that I personally would like to do away with, and I'm going to place it on my personal "Banned List."  I have a Banned List similar to the one in Major League Baseball concerning performance enhancing drugs, but the difference is my list includes activities that I would rather not do.  My list includes things like Chuck E Cheese, The Kiddie Pool or Children's Cesspool as I like to call it, and anything to do with Wal-Mart.  Guess where the School Supply shopping takes place?  Yes, that is correct at Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart has been and will continue to be my arch-nemesis and a source of pure evil.  I have made no secret about my absolute disdain for this place, and I am still searching for a low price Nirvana that could possibly take the place of this horrible invention of Sam Walton.  To survive the school supply shopping experience we had to run the gauntlet and survive the Wal-Mart factor, and for all intents and purposes enter Hades.  Sling Blade and Billy Bob Thornton comes to mind, "Some call it Hell, I call it Hades."  Let me just say that as usual, Wal-Mart did not disappoint and it was madness.  In addition to the back to school extravaganza, we also had Football Helmet issues.  These issues led to my first ever attempt at writing a blues song, and it is entitled "The Blue Helmet Blues."  I am going to share this song here on my blog for the first time.  It's kind of a big deal, and if you remember MTV in the 80s it's similar to a "World Premiere" video.  Well, not really, but a boy can dream.  
     So here it was, tax free weekend.  Tax free weekend with a school supply list, and throw in a heaping helping of Wal-Mart and you have a recipe for disaster.  The participants in this fiasco were Me, Jesse, and The People of Wal-Mart.  Scary, I know.  We hit this challenge head on, pretty much like any other challenge.  We decided to go very early, and normally this would diffuse some of the bad things.  Not this time.  0800 hours was not early enough to avoid craziness.  The moms were aggressive on this day, and they would not be denied that big red eraser.  When we first entered the school supply area it seemed unusually calm, but then no sooner than the first item was checked off our list it was like someone had dropped a donut in an ant bed.  We were covered with extremely aggressive Moms, some equally aggressive Grandmothers, and some clueless Dads who seemed almost lost in this sea of confusion.  Wal-Mart Buggies blocked our every move, and the drivers of these buggies need to learn how to park those things, let me tell you.  You do not park the buggy in the middle of the notebook aisle people, and if you do you are subject to being rammed...that's the bottom line!  During all this ducking and weaving in and out of school supply aisles at good ole Wal-Mart it dawned on me that it seems like the schools in our area and Wal-Mart could maybe get on the same page and put all this stuff in some type of order.  What I mean is, put the stuff in some order that corresponds to my list.  Seems like it would work, and then you wouldn't have to go from one side to the other and then back again.  May not be feasible, but just an idea to make it easier.  We were able to get every single item on our list or at least something very close to what was on the list, and the finish line was in sight.  Along the way, we did take a break in the Ice Cream aisle.  Krazy Kookie Dough by Blue Bell is the bomb too, by the way.  Finally after adding some Ice Cream and Doritos we were ready to check out and go.  We got to the front of the store, and only one check out line was open.  Yes sir, just one flippin check out line, that's it.  I was ready to riot at this point.  I ran down some of those Wal-Mart manager type people who are always having meetings in the middle of the store and really just get in the way.  I told them, "You mean to tell me, that on Tax Free weekend, with all these Moms, who don't play let me tell you from personal experience, You're gonna have only one check out line open?  If you know what's good for you.  Open another one!  Open it now, for love of all that is holy in this world!  Open another one!"  They looked at me like I was nuts, and said, "We'll get right on that sir."  To their credit they did open a few more lines, but we got cut off by a grandma with a buggy full of canned goods before we could get to the empty line.  She had coupons too.  She also liked to talk about her son, Joey.  The checkout girl was on the talkative side too, and for a moment there I thought the evil minions of Sam Walton and the Everyday Low Prices had won this round.  I did my breathing meditation, and we were finally able to finish this task.  Well we escaped Wal-Mart's clutches once more, and Mama was extremely happy that we finished the list.  Mainly, because she didn't have to go to Wal-Mart for the school supply shopping, but I'm all about making Mama happy.  I refuse to lose Sam Walton!  Remember that I work every day to dominate my opponent, but a worthy opponent you are!  A worthy opponent indeed!
     This past week I also upgraded Jesse's headgear for football, but I made a mistake by purchasing a white helmet.  I thought that it would be easy to paint the white helmet blue, and it was probably something plenty of folks had done before.  I was terribly mistaken.  This experience led me to find my inner blues man, and I wrote a song about my helmet experience.  A wise man once said, "The Blues ain't nothing but a good man feeling bad."  Well, here it goes, my blues song debut.  I wrote this with the tune of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" as a guide.  Now, all I need is a Mississippi string tie and I'm ready to roll!  The Blue Helmet Blues:

Football is upon us, A Helmet is what we need
I Found the best fitting helmet, That I've ever seen,

The Helmet we found was white, but Jesse's team is blue,
So we got to thinking, What the heck are we gonna do.

Auto-Detailers won't paint it, They say the Warranty will be gone
The League won't endorse it, If you paint it the helmet is done,

(Chorus)
I got the blues
I got the Paint the Helmet Blue, Blues
The Blue Helmet Blues

Spray Paint won't fix it, Matte, flat, or gloss,
I didn't know what I was getting into, and now I'm at a loss.

The wife said return it, but it had already been used,
Cleaned it up and went to see what I could do.

Repeat Chorus

Took it back to the store, to get my money back,
Everything worked out, cause confidence I don't lack,

In the end we found one, Custom made too,
Finally, this ole boy don't have to feel blue.

Repeat Chorus

     


     

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Yard Sale Survival and My Time in Prison

     This was the weekend for the World's Longest Yard Sale, and my wife wanted to take the kids and I for an adventure.  She is what I would call a Doctor of the Yard Sale Sciences along with being a PhD in real life.  I know, yard sales are real life, but she's earned her Yard Sale PhD from years of experience not years of schooling (like she earned the other one.)  Well, it was an adventure for sure.  I was amazed at the amount of people who go to these kind of things, but the kids were not impressed. They only wanted to find a hotel with a swimming pool.  We also visited Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, Alabama along the way.  Recently, I wrote a paper on "The Scottsboro Boys," and it was kinda cool to see historic Scottsboro again.  Moving on to the reason for this writing:  I was hit with a very nostalgic moment around Guntersville and I wanted to share.  The things that were said in the car were priceless, and My Time in Prison revealed.  All this and more awaits.......
     During our journey we drove through the Greater Guntersville area and the scenery reminded me of a different time.  It reminded me of a simpler time.  It reminded me of days gone by.  It reminded me of a pair of shoes.  Not just any pair of shoes mind you, but Reebok Ex-O-fit Hi-Tops black in color.  I had a very special relationship with these shoes for about 20 years.  Not the same pair of these shoes, but the same style purchased over and over again during that time frame.  These wonderful shoes were very popular in the 80s when I first bought them at Tarrant Shoe Mart in downtown Tarrant City, Alabama.  However, as time went by the shoes became less and less popular, and like the end of Hair Metal and the beginning of Grunge the times they were a changin' (not necessarily for the better).  The lovely Reebok Ex-O-fit Hi-Tops became harder to find as the years went by, but regardless I kept searching for them.  I'm not one to quit on a pair of comfortable shoes just cause they've gone out of style, and don't get me wrong I'm no trendsetter...I'm just loyal.  My lovely wife continued to find these shoes for me online for years, and like clockwork every Christmas or on my Birthday I would get a brand new pair.  All was going well with me and my shoes until it became painfully obvious that it was time to move on.  First of all, while I was coaching football a few years ago, one of the fine young men who played for the team I was coaching approached me in a very serious manner and asked, "Coach, Why do you were those boots all the time?  They look uncomfortable."  This hit a nerve, and around the same time my white athletic tube socks were called in to question by another youngster.  I played all this off to childish nonsense, but I would soon hit rock bottom with my shoe problem.  I carried my son, Jesse, to a local shoe store to buy him a pair of shoes.  The young salesman noticed my shoes, and asked, "Whoa, I haven't seen those shoes in years, Where do you find them?"  All proud of myself I said, "My wife buys them for me online."  He went on to say, "Yes sir, I know some Vintage shops that would pay good money for those shoes."  Hold on a minute, Vintage shops...are you kidding me.  This ain't no oldies station up in here.  But then it hit me, maybe it is.  I knew it was time to move on.  I said a tearful goodbye to my shoes, but I did keep them around for yard work and stuff and I still see them every now and then.  My shoes of choice now are Under Armor cross-trainers, and let me tell you they are awesome.  Unbelievably comfortable, I've already gone through three pairs!  Uh oh, It's happening again.  By the way, I did away with the white tube socks too.  I wear no-shows now.  Jesse said that was the kind I needed to wear.  I'm old school, what do I know?
     The following things were said during our long Yard Sale adventure.  These are direct quotes, and the circumstances surrounding the quotes are let's say still an issue of some contention in certain cases.  Quotes from the trip:

"It's all about expectations, and I always expect you to be wrong." -Cheryl (talking to me)

"You can't lick people.  You may really want to, but you just can't.  That's just the way it is."- Me

"A-B-C-D-E-S-V, Double Q, X, Y, Z.  Now I know my ABC's I can sing with me." -Maddie

"Barnes and Noble?  Isn't that a hamburger place?" -Jesse

"The great thing about the United States of America is that if you have money or a pistol, you can find a place to stay or something to eat." -Me

There were a few more, but due to time constraints I had to reduce the list somewhat.  All in all it was a fantastic voyage that I would do again...Maybe.  If you plan on going you should probably leave the kids at home...Just saying.
     One last thing before I go:  Jesse and I had an interesting conversation at the dinner table the other night.  I was giving young Jesse the what for about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, etc.  I do that from time to time, because I want him to know the dangers of these kind of substances.  Jesse has heard me mention an incident that happened in Blount County years ago where I got sideways with the law, and ended up in a little trouble.  He asked me, "Dad, didn't you used to drink?"  I said, "Yes, but I quit all that stuff years ago."  He went on to say, "Was it tough in Prison?"  Now, let's just say I wasn't expecting this line of questioning, and for the record I have never been in prison.  Jail, yes.  Prison, no. I explained to Jesse that I only spent one night a couple times in Jail way back in the day when I was stupid, but he should never be as stupid and dumb as I was.  He said, "Don't worry Dad, I'm Straight Edge.  I don't drink, I don't use drugs, I won't smoke, I'm better than all that."  His heard me use this mantra from time to time (The Straight Edge part actually comes from CM Punk the professional wrestler, but the substance free lifestyle is legit and everyone should try it.  Just sayin')  This conversation went on for a while, until my wife had to mention that caffeine is technically a drug.  Ok, that technicality got me.  I drink coffee, and I am a fan of caffeine.  Jesse, with a horrified look, locks eyes with his mother and says, "Caffeine is a drug?  I've been lied to my whole life."  That's my boy.  Straight Edge and proud of it.  To quote the above mentioned CM Punk, "I'm Straight Edge, I Don't Drink!  I Don't Use Tobacco!  I Don't Use Drugs!  And I'm Better than You!" 
     Well, that's about it for this edition.  I must give a word of warning to all those who want to try the World's Longest Yard Sale:  "Don't take this journey lightly, and be prepared for no food, water, bathrooms, etc. etc."  It is a hard core type of existence doing this kind of stuff unless you're used to it.  Be careful out there people, and if you need any advice on survival, my wife Dr. Cheryl A. Perry, PhD in not only Health Education/Health Behavior but also Yard Sale Sciences, would be glad to assist.  As you were.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

15 Reasons the 70s Rocked: A Rebuttal

     Recently I posted a list of 15 reasons the 80s were better than today as a "Special Edition" and I received some really positive feedback.  However, there were a few people who believed that the 70s or even the 90s were a better decade, and I figured I could make a list for the "Me" decade as a rebuttal to my previous 80s related list.  I have to post a disclaimer here, and say that although I did experience some of the 70s myself- I'm an 80s Dude.  This is 15 Reasons the 70s Rocked by an admitted 80s guy...so please be kind.

#15- My, My, My, My, My Boogie Shoes

#14- The Eventual End of Disco

#13- The 1970s version of the Chevy Chevelle for personal reasons.  A guy I once knew saw me pull up in a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo that I once owned, and he said, "That Car doesn't fit you."  I asked, "Well, what kind of car does?"  His response, "An old beat up Chevelle."  Agreed.  Nuff said.

#12- I was born in 1972, So the 70s have that going for them

#11- Pet Rocks.  The guy who got rich off that should be Knighted, along with the Chia Pet dude.

#10- Hot Pants and Bellbottoms.  Well one out of two ain't bad.

#9- Folks were eating Fondue, and listening to Meat Loaf.

#8- Superfly and Shaft were playing at the movies.  "Shut Your Mouth", I'm just talking about Shaft.  John Shaft

#7- Boogie everything.  Previously mentioned Boogie Shoes, Boogie Wonderland, Boogie Oogie Oogie, Boogie Fever (Not to be confused with the later Boot Scootin' Boogie), and many other Boogie related things too numerous to mention.

#6- Three words- "John Freaking Travolta" - Whether it was Danny Zuko, Vinnie Barbarino, or the one and only Tony Manero

#5- While we're on the subject of Vinnie Barbarino- The Sweathogs and Mr. Kot-ter (In my best Freddy "Boom-Boom" Washington voice) were way ahead of their time, and should get more credit for their vast influence on pop culture...and my education.

#4- Chips, Starsky and Hutch, Hawaii Five-O, Adam 12, Baretta (Love that Bird), and many others.  The 70s had some awesome cop shows, and as an ex-cop I know a good cop show.  I'm still partial to Andy Sipowicz, but the 70s were really good for that genre.

#3- Greg Brady vs. Keith Partridge....Who ya got?

#2- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, and Kung Fu Fighting (I'm running out of space)

#1- The Farrah Fawcett Poster.  It was on my wall.  It was on yours too, don't lie.