Wednesday, November 21, 2012

First Date

Our Matching Halloween Costumes
Twenty years ago today I went out on my first date with my wife. After we played in the very first Gator Bowl game, I remember I thought I was being sneaky and invited everyone on the team to the Honey Bee Golf Course Clubhouse for a drink after school. I knew it was the day before Thanksgiving and most people wouldn't come, but I didn't care if anyone else came.

Amy was the only player who showed up. I gave myself silent high fives as I celebrated my brilliant manipulations. She entertained me with her favorite party tricks, while I tried to play it cool and mature (which is terribly awkward when you are neither).

I tried to plan how I would be smooth and get a kiss before she had to go. She was leaving that night to have Thanksgiving with her family in Northern Virginia and I didn't have much time. I walked her to her car and hoped I seemed more smooth outwardly than I felt on the inside. Amy laughed and kissed me anyway.

We went our separate ways that day, but I knew she was different. I couldn't stop thinking about her. At Thanksgiving dinner the next day I sat at my grandmother's table and told my uncle about this girl I met and how I blocked for her as she scored a touchdown in the flag football game we played in together. I am sure that no one was as impressed as I was, but they hadn't met her.

That holiday weekend was the longest weekend in history! I couldn't wait to see her again, my mind was full of perfect plans to cover up my glaring imperfections with the goal of convincing her to go out with me again. Luckily for me she agreed to another date. And for the last 20 years I couldn't have been happier.

She always saw me as I really was, she laughed, and stayed with me anyway. Thank you Amy, I love you!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mr. Flashlight Holder Guy

A few weeks back I added another check mark to my personal list of man accomplishments. There are certain things that once you have accomplished, other men acknowledge as being manly. We don’t talk about it a lot because that is just not our way, but we all know it is there. Don’t let any man fool you, men are secretly comparing their list to other men’s lists to see how they match up.

Some things on the list seem silly, such as growing a moustache. But it is on the list. I have done that one. Check!

Killing wild animals is also on the list. I was able to check this off my list when I declared a purposeful killing of wildlife with my car, and then I supplemented that story with a slightly exaggerated fish tale that may, or may not, have included a shark. It doesn’t matter because I have already checked it off the list and I will protect the story with further truth stretching if needed. Check!

I won’t go through the entire list, but one thing that has always escaped me is being mechanical. You know, working on a car. I have always wanted to work on my car, but when changing a wiper blade takes 20 minutes and makes me a punchline for my wife’s jokes- I would rather a professional handled that. Besides, it is important to me that my cars actually work.

Neither my father nor my stepfather had any skills in this area. So my automotive experiences were limited to taking the car to Jiffy Lube and trying to look like I knew what the guy was talking about before I said something like,"Yeah, go ahead and throw that on there too,” and handing over my credit card.

But that was the old me! Now I can say that I helped “drop an engine.” That is what it is called when you put an engine back into a car. A friend of mine was fixing his car and I was excited to help. No, I had no idea what was going on, but I tried to pay attention and keep out of the way.

Once, I came inside for something and my wife asked me, “What are you guys doing out there?”

I locked up for a second scanning all the words I heard and stopped when I got to mani-something, so I said, “We are hooking up the manifest destiny...” and I trailed off on the destiny part hoping she wouldn’t hear that.

“What? What did you say? Ha! you don’t know what you are doing out there, do you?” She laughed in that way that wives do when they figure out the severity of their husbands’ cluelessness.

I shouted,”Shut up! You don’t know anything about cars!” and then I stomped back outside with the men. It sounded like a much better comeback in my head.

But I wanted to be useful, and the guys could see that, so they handed me a flashlight. I then became “The Flashlight Holder Guy.” It was the only job I was qualified for, but gosh darn it- I did it well.

I pointed the light here and there. Occasionally I needed to switch hands, and I did try to get style points with around the corner awkward angle spotlights. I wanted to be one step ahead of the work, so I anticipated where the light would be needed next. I really wanted to be the best Flashlight Holder Guy ever.

My dedication to my new craft was noted by the guys who knew what they were doing around a car. Sure they were making fun of me when they suggested that I be the focus of a new Bud Light radio commercial, but I didn’t care because I was helping.

So I created my own Bud Light commercial, not for me, but for all those guys out there looking to make a check mark on their man list and trying to help someone who is mechanical with the power of light. Because the spotlight is never on the un-mechanical, but the job is still important.

Working on a car- Check!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Boycott The Lorax

Is there anyone else out there who is bothered by the commercialization of the Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax, into the new movie, The Lorax? I try to be a good consumer and not think about things; just do what I am told. The economy needs to grow, so I must buy things. I need to go to a new movie because it is there for me to see. But the more I think about what The Lorax has become, the more wrong it seems because it is in direct opposition to the original message The Lorax was trying to get across to children.

This is a book that I love. Not just because it is a great tool to introduce children to big ideas like reducing, reusing and recycling. Not because I read it to many students when I was a kindergarten teacher. And it is not because Dr. Seuss plays with words in such an effortless and meaningful way.

I love The Lorax because this book has a heart and tries to get the reader to find theirs as well. I l love it because it helps you to understand that what you do effects the others around you and your negative impact can become much bigger than just you and your wants. This is a book that I have always believed was good for more than just being a kid’s book.

I have to admit that I was excited that this movie was coming out. I was looking forward to taking the family to see it, but then I saw my first
IHOP commercial featuring The Lorax. That gave me something to think about, but I figured that was pretty much the normal for a new movie release for kids. Not popular with me, but I could live with it.

Then I saw the
Mazda CX-5 commercial. Sure it is a 40 MPG vehicle, but The Lorax promoting a car? I thought cars, not just factories belched out "smogulous smoke." Would the character the Lorax have agreed with promoting cars? Greed is what leads to the Oncler’s downfall (and the Earth’s), but the commercialization of this product (The Lorax) is driven by unrestricted greed.

What is funny to me is that I am bashing a movie that Lou Dobbs is bashing, but for the opposite reason! He is upset because he says the movie is liberal and is trying to indoctrinate children into fighting rampant industrialism. I would say the movie supports what he likes, but the book doesn’t. I am thinking he is accidentally on the wrong side of the argument and he is helping the ideals that he opposes. But it could be that the inverse is true as well, that I am actually hurting what is a essentially a good message. Why do things need to be so complicated? Couldn't Universal just make a good family movie with a positive message that doesn't support products that could hurt the environment and promote an endless cycle of greed?

I usually try to withhold criticism for anything until I see what it is all about for myself, but I don’t think this movie is in any way aligned to the book’s original message.

The book points out what is wrong with human wants, but in the end it gives you hope and fills you with a feeling that you can make a difference. Yes, there are environmental issues involved, and human weakness, but the beauty of the book is its simple delivery to children in the form of a book. All of that has changed with this movie into a promotional tool for more products.

I believe in capitalism. If you own a product, or idea, you should be allowed to make money off of it. But I don’t have to buy it, and I am not going to see this movie or purchase any related products that have sprung from the original work because I think it is not what the book is about. I believe that is a boycott. I will also make sure my family doesn’t support this movie or any or the products that
The Lorax represents. It will be a tough fight, and one I might not win, but it just doesn’t seem right.

I think the Lorax would understand.