Pause

Ever see or hear things that simply give you pause due to the paradoxical nature of the situation or scene?

Yeah, me too.  I’m going to do my best to record them on here as I observe them.  For posterity sake, of course.

Walking down Main St. today, I saw a truck stopped at the light.  It was a “Man’s Truck”, to be sure.  Gun metal grey.  Extended cab.  Towing package.  Winch.  Lifted.  Over sized, off-road tires.  Mud flaps.  I felt more manly just having seen this truck.  Until I heard the song.

From the open windows of this mobile mechanical amalgamation of masculine machismo came the musical notes of a pop song.  Not just any pop song.  It was Fergie. Singing “Big Girls Don’t Cry”.

As the light turned green, the great beast pulled away.  Some may call it condensation on the rear window…but I promise you–that truck was crying. 

Obviously not a big girl.

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Costumes

Today is Thursday, October 30, 2008.  Last I checked, that makes it the day BEFORE Halloween. 

You can imagine my surprise when I showed up to work and found various co-workers in what might be loosely considered “costumes”.  I’m a 33 year Halloween veteran, and in my experience, dressing up is always done ON Halloween–NOT the day before.

Fortunately, a piece of information was relayed to me rather quickly.  The guy in the cube next to me must have seen the befuddled look on my face, so he advised me that today is the day people can bring their children to go trick-or-treating around the office.  Hence the dressing up on the 30th.  It’s for the kids, apparently.

For the sake of brevity, I will not focus on the fact that Halloween seems to cover more and more days each year.  I also will not point out that when I was a kid, it was a one shot deal.  You had one night to get all the candy you could.  None of this week-long parade of candy gathering activities.  Life was harder then.

However, my issue is not with the kids.  This isn’t their fault.  My umbrage is with the adults in my office.  There should be a rule added to all office handbooks for this particular holiday.

           Rule #25.77–Just because one is ALLOWED to wear a costume to work does not mandate that one MUST wear a costume to work

A quick scan of the office shows the wisdom in this rule.  While there are some legitimate costumes, there are far more attempts that should not have been made.  I promise you, there’s a guy that simply wore jeans & a t-shirt…and using blue electrical tape, he formed an emblem on the front of his shirt.  I can’t quite tell whether it’s the number “50” or the letters “SD”.  If it’s actually the letters, what in the world does “SD” stand for?  Super Dork?  Somewhat Droll?  Seriously Disturbed?  Sadly Disappointing (my personal guess)? 

Other costumes frighten me–not due to their innate scariness–but because I’m certain that they simply grabbed one of their old Dungeons & Dragons outfits from the closet.  There are many of them…a legion, perhaps.  Not coincidentally, most of these are found in the data group.  I would wander over and make fun of them, but I fear there may be a spell cast on me.  For real.

Halloween in our office is scary.  This much is true.  But it’s scary for all the wrong reasons.

Coolest

Lest you think that the only analogies I’m capable of drawing are sports analogies–I assure you, they are not.  That being said…tonight I was in THE ZONE!

Athletes will immediately be familiar with this term, but for those that couldn’t care less about sports… what is WRONG with you?!?  Oh wait, I got off on a tangent.  Allow me to regroup.

When an athlete has a performance in which he/she seemingly can do no wrong, this is considered “The Zone”.  Basketball players speak of the hoop appearing to be 3 feet wide.  Golfers describe being able to actually see the line the putt will take.  You get the point.  Well, tonight I visited this wonderful zone. 

The sport?  Hammering.  Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know.  Hammering is not a sport you say.  Obviously, you have never been around when I get into handyman mode.  Normally when I grab a hammer and some nails, it becomes a sport of survival for anyone within the vicinity of my project.  My thumbs and fingers have often been on the losing end in this contest.  Occasionally a wayward blow with the hammer will cause the nail to fly across the room as if fired from a high powered rifle.  Safety glasses are always a good idea…even if you’re in another room.  Tonight, however, was different.

I was replacing the floor in our bathroom–all the way down to the subflooring.  After the requisite removal of the TWO previous layers of damaged flooring (apparently the phrase “requisite removal” wasn’t in the vocabulary of the person who had the house before us and decided to simply make repairs by adding a layer), I cut and installed the new subfloor.  After making sure it was situated properly, I reached for the hammer and nails.  As I lined up the first nail and prepared to begin tapping it to set it in place, out of the corner of my eye I noticed something.  I had an audience.  My son.

This was no longer just a home repair project.  THIS was a moment where a son looks to his father and determines whether he wants to be like him when he grows up.  This was epic.  He decided to up the stakes a little.  He started TALKING to me.  TALKING!!  At a moment like this?!  The following conversation ensued:

     “Whatcha doin’?”

     “Hammerin’ nails”.

     “Awesome.”

I carefully placed the first nail against the floor and began to set it.  He leaned close–sans safety glasses.  This was serious.  The nail set perfectly and I began to strike.  Firm, crisp, clean blows reigned down on its ten penny head.  In no time at all, the head of the nail was flush against the wooden floor.  Something was different this time.  That was easier than normal.  Was it a fluke?  The only way to know was to move to the next nail.  And move, I did.  Two nails done.  Three.  Five.  Ten.  Before I knew it, the flooring was completely secured and a realization came flooding over me. 

I HADN’T MISSED ON A SINGLE SWING!!  EVERY NAIL WAS PERFECT!  I WAS IN THE ZONE!!

As I slowly looked toward my son, I wondered what I would see.  Did he stay for the whole thing?  Was he impressed?  Did he realized what he had just witnessed?

My eyes caught his and locked for an instant.  “Well, what do you think?”, I asked.

He looked at me and with wide eyes said “You’re the coolest Dad in the whole wide world!”  After that, he rushed in, hugged my leg, and just like that–was gone. 

So there I was…”The Coolest Dad in the Whole Wide World” standing on my masterpiece and basking in the glory of my son’s adulation.  It was truly an amazing moment. 

Maybe he DOES want to be like me when he grows up. 

Maybe this was a seminal moment in his development as a man. 

Maybe he didn’t notice the gaping hole in the drywall that I made just minutes before he decided to watch.

Flashback

Well how ’bout that!  I just got back from a real, live fire drill!  I didn’t know that grown ups actually still did these.  Apparently, they–I mean, WE–do.

It was rather entertaining to watch 500 adults look quizzically at each other when the alarm started going off in our office.  The managers dutifully popped their heads out of their offices and informed us this was the real thing…but only a fake version of it.  Then the questions began.

“Are we really supposed to leave our desks?”

“Seriously?! A fire drill??”

“But I’ve got a customer on the line!” (technically not a question)

“We have to use the STAIRS?!”

Turns out it was real.  We DID have to go.  We DID have to use the stairs.  We DID have to walk across the street like ducklings following their mother.  We DID have to congregate in an adjacent parking lot and watch our office building not go up in smoke. 

To be honest, it felt a little juvenile.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m glad we practiced being safe.  But still, I haven’t had a real fire drill since elementary school, so that’s my only point of reference. 

I guess that it was an excuse to get out of the office, get some fresh air & sunshine, and pretty much get paid to stand around…so I won’t complain too much.

The only down side to today’s fire drill is that it didn’t dovetail as nicely into recess, snack, and nap time as it did many years ago.

Slump

If I were a baseball player, tonight very well might be the start of a slump.  So far, I’ve gone 0 for 2 in conversations with my children.  Normally, I’m quite reliable in those situations.  Let’s just say that tonight wasn’t my night.

As my 7 year old daughter was taking her bath,  I stepped into the bathroom to make sure she was ok.  I did so, just in time to see her put enough shampoo in her hand to lather up our golden retriever.  Not wanting to crush her spirit by yelling at her about wastefullness, I decided to go with a simple approach that might provoke some thought on her part.

     “Gee sweetie, that’s a lot of shampoo ya got there.”

     And without missing a beat, she matter-of-factly looked at me and said,

     “Yep Dad, I’ve got a lot of hair.”

     Game over.  0 for 1.

 

I decided to play it off.  Anyone can have a bad performance.  The secret to success is not the avoidance of failure–but the ability to rise up and try, try again.  It was now time for my son’s bath.  Since he is 3 years younger than his sister, I liked my chances if any “discussions” should ensue.  And ensue it did.

See, he’s notorious for using my body wash to make bubble baths, and since body wash tends to cost more than a bar of soap, I tend to monitor it a little more closely.  This brings us to my shot at conversational redemption.

I walked into the bathroom just in time to see him holding the bottle upside down over his head and dousing his crewcut with my body wash.  Knowing I had this one in the bag, I said,

     “WOAH buddy!  That’s Daddy’s body wash…you don’t use it on your hair!”

     “It’s for your body AND your hair, “ he responded.

     My retort?  “No, no it’s not.  It’s just for washing your body.”

It was at this point that my sweet wife decided to add her two cents to the conversation.  She quietly said, “Actually….he’s right.”   Anxious to prove my point, I grabbed the bottle and held it up to him and just before the words began to come out of my mouth I noticed something strange…this bottle actually said “Hair & Body Wash”.

0 for 2.

Dejected I walked back to the dugout (actually it was the living room…but dugout works better for the analogy), wondering if I’ll ever win again.

I’m now realizing that I need to do more research prior to holding conversations with my children.  I can still win…it’s just not going to be as easy as it used to be.

Lemming

Well, here I am.  There you are.  Seems like as good a place as any to start, huh?

I realize I’m not the first blogger on WordPress.  I’m also aware that I won’t be the last.  To paraphrase Pink Floyd, I’m just another brick in the WordPress wall.  But that’s ok with me. 

I’m not looking to influence any political races.  I’m not interested in journaling to get in touch with my inner self.  I’m just a guy who enjoys life and often gets a kick out of writing about my observations.

Some entries will be short…others will ramble.  There might be several in one day…or weeks may pass between entries.  Some you’ll enjoy.  Some you might not.  A few might spark a scintillating conversation.  Most likely there will be the occasional post that leaves you staring at the computer wondering what in the world I was saying.  Trust me, it happens.

Plain and simple, I’m here to write.  Hopefully you’re here to read.   If things go well, we might just make this a regular thing.  Deal?