Archive for May, 2012

Heather and Justin

One week from today, son Justin is getting married.

And if you think there has been anything else on my mind of late, you would be mistaken.

While blindly slamming together a bunch of mind-numbing newspaper information the other day for all the people who have nothing better to do than read about local news things (like that’s important), I was concentrating heavily on all the things in my life that have caused this much distraction. I came up with a list of life’s highlights and lowlights, but they all paled in comparison, emotional reaction-wise, to my little boy signing his life away to the lovely Heather.

And I mean that with all the affection and appreciation a doting father-in-law-to-be can have for the beautiful, sweet young woman who is not only the reason I am adding a hyphen-filled title to my dad resume, but also, for some reason, thinks this guy’s the one.

Kids. They’ll never learn.

Anyway, I am surprised at myself for the level of emotion I am feeling about this wedding. Not only because I’ll be in a tuxedo and have a captive audience doting over me as the father of the groom, but also because I’m gonna look real good and probably garner the majority of the compliments.

I simply can’t wait.

These emotions are beginning to play off of one another. I get sad when I think that it seems like only yesterday my little boy was trying to plug the car keys into the electrical outlet, or translating for adult ears the gobblety-speak of his younger sister, or announcing, from his high chair, that the toaster just popped (“Toot,” he’d trumpet), and then mash a piece of dry, slightly warmed white bread between gooey moist fingers, getting more of it on his face than in it.

Hopefully this latter habit will not reappear next Saturday during the singing of “The Bride Cuts the Cake.” If there’s one thing I hate about weddings, it’s people who still think it’s funny to mash cake into another person’s face. But, then, I have also always hated old movies that contain a pie fight. Never understood the humor of one person hitting another person in the face with food. And I have felt this way my whole life — long before I became a fuddy-duddy.

OK. That was a tangent. I’m over it.

I’ve been thinking about all the things fathers are supposed to teach their sons before they head off to Marriageville, and how many of these things we have yet to talk about.

If I’ve taught him one thing, it’s make friends with the bartender. All else in life, I have learned, is an off-shoot of this one essential lesson. If I have taught him anything else, it was by pure luck or keen observation on his part.

I realize it’s been 30 years, which seems like plenty of time to instill all of my fatherly knowledge (which would only take a few quick moments anyway), but somehow the years slipped by so quickly.

Here’s a piece of advice: The years slip by quickly. If you think they’re going fast now, you — being the roller coaster afficionado that you are — are gonna love the next two decades. Hang on tightly and keep both arms inside the ride. This tidbit, I have to believe, I have mentioned in the past. The memory is shot. It can’t hurt to mention it again.

Also, the memory is shot.

Pay attention more than I did. That’s probably the next best piece of advice I can offer. Regret sucks, it comes C.O.D. in the back of a giant dump truck, gets deposited right on top of your head, it hurts like a sonofagun, and never, ever goes away.

Be mindful of your regret, there, sonny boy. That’s what I would have wanted to hear 30 years ago. I wouldn’t have paid much attention to the advice at the time, because, I wrongly thought, I knew more about the world then than everyone else in it would ever know.

I didn’t realize it would take until this very day right now today before I would know more about the world than everyone else in it would ever know.

Take a lot of pictures. One of my favorite advances in the world of technology has been the making easier of picture taking. Everything nowadays has a camera in it. We no longer need to drop film off at the drug store and wait two weeks for our pictures to come back. We can grab our phones from our pockets, snap a quick shot of the baby and the kitty sleeping on top of one another in the sunlight pouring through the nursery window, and, with the quick flick of a couple of fingers on a couple of buttons, we can share this photo with everyone in the world.

I grew up in an era when the option to request double prints was considered a technological breakthrough. Today, we go “click” and the next thing we know, it’s on CNN.

Anyway, take a lot of photos. When you visit the old people in your life (namely, me), photos will be the best way to fill in the awkward pauses in the conversation — which are going to happen, once we discuss what I had for lunch that day (which I won’t remember) and why it is I found my teeth in my slipper.

The great things that happen in marriage are the bookmarks in our lives. Our vacations, our big home renovations, our ridiculous purchases. They stick out above the other pages, they mark the stuff we did before and after that great event. And they hold our place until the next bookmark comes along.

Write the year — this is very important — get out a Sharpie and write at the top of each bookmark what year it came into your life. You’ll be disappointed — I certainly am — when you are unable to remember which thing you did first and what year that was.

I have no idea what year Karen and I did a complete gut-job renovation on the downstairs of our house. Living room and dining room completely torn out and done over. But what I did do, when we were installing the new floor, was, I grabbed the Sharpie and wrote the year and our names (circling all of it with a giant heart; awwwwww) in the middle of the cement slab. I took its photo and then we covered it with the new flooring.

I can’t tell you what year it was, but I can tell you I have a photo of it. Somewhere.

Laugh all the time. Life is hilarious and a lot more enjoyable when viewed that way. Some of my favorite bookmarks are simply the times Karen and I have laughed so hard that I started squeaking, which forced her to laugh harder and start making monkey noises, which forced us both to stop making any sounds at all as the air in our bodies was forced from our lungs.

Finally, hug your dad. He’s thrilled and proud and beside himself and fragile, suffering from emotion. He’s also no longer the only married guy in the family. He’s been handing out the hugs for 30 years now and could use a break.

He could also use a hug. It’s your turn, son.


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I can’t for the life of me remember the dream I was having the other day. And that’s a shame, because it was pretty funny. Must have been.

But that, unfortunately, is what happens with dreams. The stupid ones we remember. We tell our spouses, they look at us funny, tell us some drawn-out story about some dumb dream they had when they were 12 that in no way compares to the story we were telling. So, we pretend to be interested while the whole time we’re trying to remember the dream that was really kinda fun.

Then she realizes I haven’t been listening, the covers get stolen, and the cold shoulder is exposed.

All because of a stupid dream.

But my dream from the other day was funny. And not because it happened at work, although it did. And that’s not even the funny part. I can’t remember the funny part.

It was Monday; I was seated at my desk, doing the trusted work upon which many among our swarm of readers unknowingly, and unwittingly, rely. Many of you have no idea what I do all day, and that would make two of us, but those chores, when it gets to be about 2 or 3 p.m. — also, any time after 10:30 a.m. — have no earthly ability to keep me from nodding off in mid-sentence.


I was in the process of making up very important newspaper information off the top of my head, fully intending to publish a correction in a subsequent edition, when I suddenly heard myself laugh out loud.

Kind of a sputtering guffaw. It caught me off guard. I can’t remember what was so funny, but whatever it was, it came to me in that limbo we enter between consciousness and deep sleep and, you know, making newspapers.

That unconscious point when thoughts lose their place in line and just show up in a seemingly normal (because we’re dreaming), yet incontrovertibly impossible and entertainingly random order.

And after I realized that I was laughing, I immediately learned I had been asleep. For, like, 1 second. (I think.)

Enough time for one hilarious thought. And for my computer to spit out a whole bunch of random letterrrrrrrrrrrrrs.

Must’ve had my hands on the keyboard.

My bad.

I looked around real fast to see if anyone had noticed I had nodded off (or, worse, if I had let out a “snork,” which is known to happen). Thankfully, it was a time of day when the rest of the crew was still out in the field, making up their own things to correct. The news cavern was completely empty.


I shouldn’t be embarrassed about slipping away for one whole second. I mean, I can tell you, but it’s not like anyone else will ever find out. It’s just disappointing that it’s already happening, is all.

I had always thought — or hoped, actually — that nodding off at random junctures would be something done only by fathers and old people and not something that I would eventually contract.

Dad used to do it. I’d walk into the living room, see him asleep in front of the TV, seize the opportunity to finally change the channel to a show that featured real humans, and as soon as I clicked the dial one turn, he’d startle awake and say, “Snork. I was watching that.”

And back we would go to “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” Or, “Lawrence Welk.” Either way, no real humans.

And back he would go to the land of nod.

I blame staring, which I do all day long, and not a lack of sleep, for my problem. Well, this one, anyway. I no longer have to get up at a ridiculous time of day (although there was a time …), so I’m not tired in the morning.

I often go to bed relatively early — around grandma:o’clock p.m., as a rule, unless there is something compelling on TV that holds my interest after 9. But I’m not burning the midnight oil at this end either (although there was a time …).

One of the surest ways I have found to combat sleepiness is by going to bed.

This is another cruel hoax perpetrated by advancing age. Not a fan.

I have reached that stage (go me) when I start to get real dozy any time after 9 p.m. and have found the cure for it is crawling into bed.

There, I lie awake for hours, no longer remembering what it felt like to be tired. Going to bed is better than caffeine for curing that 2:30 feeling.

I get to a point at night when I can no longer keep my eyes open. I crawl upstairs, turn on the bedroom TV and the nightstand light, grab the iPad, and for the next three hours send that day’s crop of Words with Friends back to their rightful owners while watching the “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” marathon on the Foodporn channel.

It’s as if every night I forget how to fall asleep.

I have made peace with the knowledge that I have reached the age when forgetfulness has begun to take control of my life.

Also, I have made peace with the knowledge that I have reached the age when forgetfulness has begun to take control of my life.

But forgetting how to fall asleep just seems like a cruel joke.

I see the commercials on the TV for those products you can choke into your body when it gets that time of the day when we all — every human being, apparently — starts falling asleep while staring off into a computer screen covered with boring words and letters and numbers and Likes and LOLs and requests to play Words with Friends and gripes about how boring it is at work.

“That 2:30 feeling,” they say on the one commercial.

But I’m not about to drink whatever is in those teeny bottles of wonder juice that are so good for my health and well being they are sold next to the convenience store cash register, with the “Seriously, Dude, You Forgot Your Anniversary?” roses, emergency candy, cigarette lighters, lottery scratch-offs, mini flashlight key holders, and someone’s extra pennies.

I often wonder how long it will be before science discovers that all the power drinks society has been guzzling for the past couple of decades, it turns out, have actually been bad for our health.

I mean, if some animals and plants have been determined to cause death in people, how long before tiny bottles of taurine, glucuronolactone, malic acid, N-Acetyl L-tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, caffeine, and citicoline start curling our toes?

I mean, it’s nothing to lose sleep over, but you nevzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


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