Sunday, April 17, 2016

Alex Karras and Snowmageddon 1978

A couple of thoughts going through my mind this morning.  I'm looking out at my backyard and seeing what is being referred to as "Snomageddon 2016".  In all actuality, I think it fell a few feet short of such an auspicious title.  The other thought was that of my Aunt Rosemary.  She recently fell ill and is spending a week or so in the hospital.

So what so Snowmageddon and Aunt Rosemary have in common?  Well Mel Brooks obviously.  In the spirit of transparency, the events in this story took place a long time ago, long before my bald spot and mortgage, so if some of the facts don't jive perfectly, blame the foggy memory of childhood.

A little background.  My Aunt Rosemary often had a hard time saying 'no' when we were kids.  Generally speaking, this inability manifested itself in Star Wars figures and Atari games, but occasionally it went a little deeper than that.

Here is where the ol' memory gets a little dodgy.  My brother desperately wanted to see Blazing Saddles, but it's R rating put it as off limits to my older brother, Steve.  Why I question my memory of the events is because Blazing Saddles came out when I was three years old, but I remember the story fairly distinctly that I couldn't have been that young.

As the story goes, Steve was able to cajole Rosemary into taking him to Blazing Saddles, but there were a few sticking points, namely my little sister and myself, and "Snowmageddon 1978".  My aunt hates driving in the snow.  She hates the snow with an intensity reserved for intestinal flu and audits.  She had promised Steve that she would take us to the movies, but Blazing Saddles was playing in the town over from us and the snow was already falling.  She loved her nephew but hated the snow.  Steve should take homage in the fact that her love of him outweighed her hatred of the snow.  Rosemary and the kids loaded up into the car and set off into the storm.

Fast forward to the end of the movie.  It ended later at night and the car was under at least a foot of snow.  Rosemary was dealing with the one-two punch of the recognition that her niece and nephews had a better working knowledge of the R-rated dictionary because of the movie they had just seen and the twenty mile drive in really awful conditions.  Silver lining?  At least she had an hour and a half to figure out what to say to my mom about the movie we had just seen.

My aunt is a very strong woman, so the face that a seven year old could recognize the white knuckle experience Rosemary was going through means something.  The fact that I can still visualize it to this day means even more.  We made it home okay, but we were all damaged in our own way.  For Rosemary, it was a hairy drive and the knowledge that she had let her niece and nephews talk her into seeing some of Mel Brooks' best work, for me it was seeing the Alex Karras campfire fart scene and knowing that no movie would ever match up.

So the lesson girls?  This one is about your Aunt Jen.  Aunts are amazing people, and they will let you get away with a little more than Mommy and Daddy will.  There is a fair chance that your first R-rated movie, your first beer, hell, your first tattoo will be while holding your aunt's hand.  It doesn't make it okay, but I'd rather you get your ears pierced under the watchful eye of Aunt Jen than with a safety pin in your buddy's basement.

Feel better Aunt Roe.  Thank you for braving the snow for us.  Thank you for giving me the campfire fart scene.  Thank you for everything else you have done over the years.  Incidentally, I'll be braving the snow here in a few minutes to come visit, so clearly we are even.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Okay, I Get it...She's Faster Than Me!

Kids are funny and expectation is even funnier.  My eldest, Avery is getting ready to turn nine years old, and like most eight year olds her interests are as varied as her skill level in said interests.  As a parent, we tend to overestimate our children’s abilities.  I see it in soccer every year, “why isn’t Billy getting more playing time? He’s the best player out there!”  My internal dialogue usually goes something like this “Because Billy (chose option) tackles other kids…asked to come out…is hiding in the net…has to potty…is thirsty, hungry, tired”.   But I’m the same.  To me, all of my kids are the smartest, funniest, prettiest and most athletically gifted.  It’s probably not true but good luck convincing me of that. 

That brings me to this week.  I’ve always known that Avery was a very good runner.  She has always had a unique ability to run for days.  I've been hesitant to consider her to be as fast as she actually is.  She's fast, but coming from her parent's stock, how fast could she actually be?  Her soccer coaches recognize it.  She has always earned extra playing time because she always appears fresh regardless of how long she has played in a game.  Her P.E. coach has acknowledged on a number of occasions that perhaps Avery belongs on a track team of some sort citing her form and her endurance. 

Last weekend she ran in a 5K and did very well…and I mean VERY well.  She finished third out of the youth group.  This means she was third out of 112 kids aged 15 and under.  The race director pulled me aside and questioned whether or not she had actually run the race and despite my verification, the director didn’t believe me.  He was ready to award her medal to someone else and I couldn't believe it.  It wasn’t until another woman who ran with Avery confirmed that Avery had blown by her at the second mile marker that she was allowed to receive her medal. 

Yesterday, the track coach from what will be Avery’s middle school reached out to my wife asking if she would be continuing to compete.  Middle school is three years away.  It seemed like a crazy conversation to be having.  Frankly, all of this seemed crazy.  The medal, the sub 24 minute time, the call from the middle school track coach.  It would have all seemed even crazier if it weren’t April Fools Day, but alas, here we are.  Happy April Fools Day!