Tuesday, June 16, 2015

10 Things Dads are and are not.

Fathers day.  I've never been a fan.  Of course I've never thought much of Mothers day either.  The reason I don't think much of fathers day is that's not what fathers are about.  We don't care about do nothing holidays like that.  Just a waste of time.  We care a bit about mothers day, but personally I think it's a real rip off.  'Here mom, I bought you some flowers, and maybe a framed picture of me or something'.  That, against mom's lifetime of selfless service to me, so that makes us about even.  Before I start on this I will give the bit of lip service to all the single moms out there.  You have to be dad as well and you know better than anyone that it's not an easy job or maybe it is and you are Wonder Woman, good for you.  This list is not about you, pro or con.  It's about Dads.  It's a list of things Dads are or aren't.  For me if a family is a play then mom is the actors.  Kids are the audience and Dads are the stage crew.

-- Are constantly trying to grow hair on your chest/Build your character/Knows what's good for you - Dads get you to try and do new things.  These things aren't usually planned, but rather are lessons of opportunity when you sour your face at the new dish or don't want to get your hands dirty in the garden.  Dads first line of encouragement is always to tell you 'Eat it!  it'll grow hair on your chest'  He may even tell his daughters that, but it's more for the joke teller side of Dad at that point.  If nothing else, Dads know that doing what you must do even though you might not want to is something that DOES build character and IS good for you.

-- The money - Often we are told it's a Man's world.  To the extent that is true, Dad is the money. There was a time when this was much more true than it is today, but it still carries some water.  Dad goes to work every day and struggles with being told what to do in exchange for the fuel that keeps the family engine running.  Dad will do the bidding of 'the man' to keep his family secure.  Often Dads will do this in silence.  As a result, the sacrifice is not apparent and therefore not really appreciated.  Often kids think that money is some kind of stroke of luck that picks some and avoids others and long for the day that they are lucky.  Dads know better.  Money happens to people with patient persistence.  Sometimes the money can also be the source of distance between Dad and his family.  The problem is, the money becomes more of a part of his life than he had first assumed it would be.  A job was there to help you live the life you wanted.  This turns to the life you live is contained within your job.  That's why some Dads are not very good at retirement.  They have become their job.

-- Dads try to make as much 'privilege' as possible for their kids - We are starting to hear more and more about peoples 'privilege'.  Boiled down, it means that life is not fair and some are born with more than others.  The answer to this problem for some people is by trying to take away the things that are an advantage for some, not necessarily by giving help to advantage those less fortunate.  Dads see one of their jobs as trying very hard to make his family one of privilege.  He is vested in making life as unfair in your favor as possible.

-- Bad joke teller - Every Dad has an opportunity to play the authority figure.  But because Dad doesn't want to be a total authoritarian he has to temper his laying down of the law with some kind of love.  That is usually in the form of bad jokes.  Dad jokes.  Remember those jokes that were told when you were in about the 4th grade?  How do you catch a squirrel?  Climb in a tree and act like a nut!  Yeah, those are all dad jokes.  The problem of course is that Dad doesn't know when you've outgrown those jokes.  The bigger problem is he doesn't care.  Moms some times take this role, but usually they are heard to say things like 'don't encourage him' because the second dad thinks the jokes are getting to you, he will unleash the floodgates.

-- The Official Embarrass-er - Along with joke telling Dads are always quick with a story about how you would watch Barney for days on end and how you did this funny dance for your Grandma but ended up breaking wind but Grandma pretended not to notice.  Those stories are Dad gold!  No audience is immune, no situation exempt from these tales of woe.  Dads have an internal sense of when exactly that timing is perfect.

-- Field commander - Often at home Mom will wear the pants.  Outside often the Dad will become the field commander.  This is usually evident on vacation.  Dad will wear somewhat loud clothing so he can easily be seen by the local natives and his tribe alike.  Dad is always on the look out for the bad side of the street and will often, without alarm, guide you to the other side where he hopes things will be safer and not as exposed.  Dads don't raise a ruckus or cause the troops to be rattled.  Dads keep a watchful eye while simultaneously pointing out that being a Street Performer is not a legitimate career.

-- Not stupid - Take a look at nearly any commercial that is on TV today.  If the male figure in that ad is a Husband or a Dad, chances are he is stupid.  Not just stupid in an unintelligent way, but culturally stupid as well as painfully naive.  Dads will watch these commercials and laugh along with everyone else.  Why?  Because they (dads) aren't stupid.  They know that being Dad means sometimes being a target.  Dads have bigger things to worry about instead of being offended by every little slight that is leveled at them from TV.

-- Least politically correct - Dads are the last to know what things are socially acceptable anymore.  Why?  Because they live in a bubble that is split between work and home.  Neither of which has a lot of cultural exposure.  So when kids come home and Dad is ready to pull out another chestnut from his treasure trove of jokes and bon mots, often those jokes can rub against what school is teaching his kids.  That's ok.  That's one of the many thing Dads are for.  To show you that the world will not change to make anyone feel more comfortable.

-- Dads let you know how things are - Moms let you know how they want you to be.  Dads will let you know how things are.  What the real world has in store for you.  What people might be thinking.  What the word on the street is.  Sometimes he'll just say 'Yeah, that guy had it coming'  and sometimes he will go to great lengths to explain why something that is wrong is simultaneously understandable.  Dads are the ones that are usually the first to tell you that life isn't fair.  Dads can explain the world you really live in.

-- Still just a guy - By all means Dads are not perfect.  This is of course no revelation, but there is a fair amount of time where kids think their Dads are pretty great.  Over time that can fade as kids come to realize that Dad is just like they are, just a person.  Still it's hard to not be the hero or the funny guy anymore and just be that dumpy guy that makes weird rules.  Dads will largely not complain about their lot in life or throw up their hands and say why me when things don't work out right, but it doesn't mean that a lot of life's slings and arrows don't still sting.  One secret is that Dads still kind of remember you as the kid that liked them.

I write this in memory of my own Dad he was all of the above.  Happy Fathers day to all you Dads out there.  I hope you can enjoy it in peace and quiet or a riot and ruckus, whatever strikes your fancy.

Monday, June 1, 2015

top 10 Excuses

Excuses are interesting things.  Normally they are explanations for why you can't do something.  Once in a while they are reasons for faulty action.  I read a quote once that said 'Excuses are what you use for things you don't want to do'.  It's probably true.  So here are 10

- Kids have a thing - Kids might be the biggest excuse to not do something that exist.  Here is how it is.  Hey would you mind coming into this meeting?  We could really really use your expertise.  You are on your way out.  You have nothing better to do other than not work.  Kids thing to the rescue!  Wow, I'd really like to, but I've got to get out of here, my kids have a (recital, practice, pixie hunt) and I need to be there.  Meetings are for suckers anyway.

- I've heard that's bad for you/good for you - One of the best things about the Internet is that you can get nearly any opinion on any stated piece of fact that you want.  Say for example you drink too much.  You are probably aware of it, but you don't want to stop.  You quickly retrieve a website that talks about the numerous benefits of alcohol taken in moderation.  Now you can drink confidently knowing that moderation is probably more for you than it is for anyone else but it will justify you going over the line a bit.

- The sitter has to leave early / I've got to get up early - So you got roped into a thing.  Probably people that you are friends with but that you actually don't really like that much.  Somehow you ended up being invited over to their house for a meal and an indeterminate amount of time.  The night starts off slowly and you quickly realize that you must get out of there by hook or by crook.  You decide to go with hook and tell them that the sitter has either taken ill or the sitter won't be able to stay late and by association, neither will you.  The kid-free analog to this is the early morning work meeting made possible by bosses that actually call meetings early so you've got to go home and get some shut eye.  The cellphone has made this an even more convenient ploy because you can have your spouse dial your number and you can practice your rear-window acting.  If you don't know that reference, I suggest you watch Hitchcock's Rear Window. In the movie they do a lot of off screen talking back and forth.  See it, you'll get it, just look at it from the actors point of view.

- Wow am I tired  - That demon fatigue has risen again to hasten an early egress!!!  Oh to be young again.  You could be watching all of the slides that your uncle has conveniently converted to grainy pictures.  It would be more interesting if he knew what they were, but he keeps arguing with your aunt about whether that rock was on the way out of the city or the way in.  Was that the car they owned second or third?  Wow, I'm getting tired myself.  One or two good yawns and a declaration of an early rise and you are off home.  Maybe in time to watch the news.  Or heaven forbid go to bed.

- Something suddenly came up - Thank you Greg and Marcia Brady.  Something suddenly came up is the lamest excuse there is, and yet it is universally accepted as the acceptable blow-off-excuse.  You know you are being played, but it is softened by the semi-honesty of it.  Yes something came up.  A night of blissful silence you have opted for instead of the semi-annual meeting of the insect mounting society.

- I'm on a diet - Don't want to go to lunch when offered?  The diet is the sure lunch killer.  The caveat here is that once you have used it, you will have your friends watching what you eat from that point on to see if you really are on a diet, or you just find your friends unappetizing enough to set you off your feed.

- The alarm didn't go off! - In this age of technology you will still find this gem being trotted out as an excuse for missing that early morning meeting or some other distasteful work event.  As long as you have a fair amount of space between your last use of this excuse and the current use you are probably all right.  Do it enough times and people assume that you are just a night owl and you are not fit for day work.  This isn't so bad if they decide to give you a later shift.  It's horrible if you get the later shift and you are STILL late for work.

- I forgot -  Who doesn't have a slip of the mind?  You simply forgot your appointment.  It's quick, it's easy, and nobody can say you didn't.  Some day soon, they will have a smart phone app that will quickly scan someones head and see if they actually did forget or if they are telling a fish tale and they just didn't feel like coming.  The problem here is if you convince people you forgot enough times you may be esteemed as mentally deficient.

- I don't have enough money - Who does?  Like the diet.  If you are using your lack of funds to justify not attending something, be prepared for all of your friends to quickly join the Junior Accounting Association and watch every penny for you.  'Oh, I get it, you don't have enough money for our get together, but you DO have money for that life saving surgery.  I get it.  No it's ok, go ahead.  Remove those irregularly shaped moles.  See if I care.'

- I have a condition - That condition is that you don't want to go.  Of course if where you are going is some kind of friendly game of some physical sport, there is the excuse you can use.  I have a bad knee, it is genuine.  It has been the cause of me not being able to attend many physical activities.  I did play tennis on it for 4 years and I payed the price.  At that time I would use a different version of the excuse.  I would tell someone that I don't have enough tread on the tire of my knee to do something that isn't tennis.  Now I don't even have enough tread for that.  But you can tailor a condition to meet your event.  Asthma, you can't go outside except for the briefest of moments during pollen season;  Ate some bad food previously, you can't go anywhere now except the bathroom (until everyone is gone); Mesothelioma (you are going to see your lawyer, you've got to miss the company Frisbee golf event).  You get the idea.

Well, my excuse for skipping a couple of entries is two fold.  One I wanted to see if anyone noticed at all.  2 of you did.  Or you did enough to mention it to me.  I guess that's pretty good for a hack writer and observationalist.  As it is, I just didn't have anything good enough to print.  I admit, I've had a few entries go off the rails, who doesn't?  But I just feel like the overall quality of the posts have been going down, so I took a break.  The problem is that many of my posts might be a bit controversial.  I'm not sure I'm ready to go down that road.  We'll see.