Monday, October 24, 2022

Quarterbacks, Balloons and Goldfish

We have a saying in our house “Balloons and Goldfish”.  What that refers to, are things that are temporary and need to be enjoyed in the “now”.  It was always a way of softening the inevitable blow of a pet floating upside down in the tank or a balloon becoming a handful of latex garbage. 

It also may have been a mistake.

Balloons and goldfish may offer the feeling of loss that a three-year-old can wrap their little head around.  Hopefully they move from balloons to goldfish to maybe a cat running away to a harsh breakup.

That last one is the one to focus on today.  My middle, Macy, is a striking young lady.  She is pretty, funny, athletic, has a great sense of humor and impeccable fashion sense.  She is, even to thirteen-year-olds young eyes, a catch.

A catch in the way that you expect her to be the kind of girl that wins prom queen and dates the quarterback. 

The latter is in fact true, that is, true until yesterday.

Macy had a boyfriend (or a middle school version of one) who was the QB of the school’s football team.  “Had” is the functional word in that sentence. 

The young QB, we’ll call him ‘Lance’ for the purposes of this story.  Lance decided he needed his freedom.  No problem. Certainly didn’t expect her first dip into romance to be her last. 

Balloons and goldfish. 

The problem is twofold.  The first is that he did the deed via text.  It was out of the blue and not the most articulate thing in the world (excusable as he is only thirteen).  The second problem is his social media post saying that he is “single and taking applications”.  Funny? Sure, but I’m his ex’s dad so he’ll obviously wind up on the wrong side of this blog post. 

In all actuality, 'Lance' is a good kid who dipped his toe into the dating pool for the first time as well.  He’s a stand-up guy but of course his breakup was awful.  He’s never done it before.  The nice thing was that one lesson seemed to stick with Macy.

“Balloons and goldfish” and apparently romances with thirteen year old quarterbacks are all things that don’t last.  She took it fine and the two are actually back to being friends. 

The lesson here little ladies?  Its simple, boys are dumb.  It’s true, but it’s a little more nuanced than that.  Boys are dumb, but they get better.  They get better, but that’s much later.  In their early teens they are just trying to figure it all out, their bodies, their place, and girls.  In their late teens they are trying to figure out their place and girl’s bodies.  In their twenties, its college and work and moving out of their mother’s basements.  Thirties?  Figuring out what happened in their twenties.  Forties involve wives and kids and homeownership and plumbing and heating and groceries.  Fifties?  I’ve just started those and I still have no idea about girls, the ones my age or my daughters.  So, I guess I’ll speculate that boys cease being dumb in their sixties. 

In all honesty, if you want a boy to like you, find a sincere one.  One that sticks up for you when times are tough.  One that respects the people around him.  One that does things for you even when it is in contrast to what he wants to do himself.  Find one that will go to the craft store with you  even if he kicks and screams the whole time and one that will take you to restaurants and movies that he doesn’t like. 

And here’s the tough part ladies, be someone that will do the same for your partner.  Relationships are about compromise and sacrifice.  As you date in middle school and high school and college and in the work world, look for someone who is willing to sacrifice and willing to compromise (and one that can cook isn’t the worst thing either).




Wednesday, September 21, 2022

What Color Are Mermaids Anyway?


I work online and therefore; YouTube tends to be the soundtrack of most of my days.  I listen to the news, music, audio books and movie trailers.  I listen to stand up comedy, sports blogs and spoilers.

And movie and television reviews.   

It’s the last one that I’m writing about today.   

A few years ago, there was a rumbling of Idris Elba playing James Bond.  To me, he’s a perfect fit.  Handsome, sophisticated and a better-than-capable action star. 

The internet did not agree.  Not because he couldn’t act, or he has some personal history that would disqualify him.  James Bond is traditionally played by white actors, and Elba, while sophisticated, has a pigmentation issue that the internet couldn’t abide.

To date, he still hasn’t gotten the role.

Recently, another role was being awarded. There is a live action version of The Little Mermaid being released, and unlike the 007 series, they cast an African American in the title role.  The internet couldn’t let that slide. 

Over a million people “disliked” the trailer and some of the responses to the coming attraction are downright despicable. 

It seems closed minded and ignorant to put ones preconceived notions above the direction of the film maker who is laying out hundreds of millions of dollars to make their vision. 

In the James Bond example, the objection to a black actor seems awful, in the Little Mermaid, silly.

I’ll explain. 

Not having Idris Elba play Bond doesn’t make sense.  It’s simple racism.  Racism or terrible taste in actors.  The Little Mermaid is a different animal altogether. 

The Little Mermaid is the story of an underage half fish, half teenager who decides that she was born in the wrong body and longs to be transformed into a human so she can be with a guy without fish parts. 

Her father objects to her trans desires so she seeks out someone who can perform the procedure without her father’s approval.  In the end, her dad finally, despite her only being sixteen years old, approves of her transformation and marriage.

So, here’s the rub.  People (which may be a loud but small number) object to the skin color of a fictional species but have no problem with her trans lifestyle or the fact that her betrothed is eager to engage in interspecies shenanigans.  Seems like a tremendous oversight.  Maybe as bad as ignoring that Elsa’s parents locked her in her bedroom for a decade because she was different. 

The point here little ladies?  Beyond the fish fetish issues?  Its that what’s on the outside really doesn’t matter.  The young lady playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid can act and she is a heck of a singer.  That’s really all that should matter.  The vitriol over a black stormtrooper, or James Bond or mermaid is inexplicable.  In reality, it applies to your day-to-day life as well.  If someone doesn’t wear just the right clothes, or carries a little extra weight or is somehow different than you, let it go, or on second thought, embrace it. We are all the ‘different’ one at one point or another and how great was it when someone understood you or just spent time with you.  For some people, being different isn’t a phase.  Being of a different race, or gender or having a different sexual identity or having a handicap or literally anything else that can offer someone a way to see them as “other” is a way of life.  It doesn’t have to be a bad one.  Different does not equal bad, disliking someone for being different does.




Thursday, September 15, 2022

"She Was Quirky, But She Loved Us"

 My brother offered a toast at my aunt’s celebration of life this week that struck me as perfect; “She was quirky, but she loved us”.  With that, eight or ten of us each raised a small glass of Irish whiskey and extended a salud.

Rosemary Holland, my aunt, left us a few weeks ago and the last few months have been a whirlwind.  Rosemary (or Roe to those who knew her) was having massive back problems that left her bed ridden and elected to have surgery.  The doctor explained the risks and the probable negative outcomes and without taking a breath she decided to have it. It was the effects of the surgery that would eventually take her life. 

Her decision to move forward with the surgery without giving stock to the negatives was about as emblematic of her life as you can get.  Roe lived her life unapologetically and without remorse.

Strangely, it was part of her charm.  Part of it, but not all of it.  She was also generous, funny, had a contagious laugh and as mentioned earlier, she was quirky.

It’s her quirkiness that really stands out.  She lived with a certain amount of techno fear that a lot of people her age has but he means of combating it were what makes it strange. 

For example, she had a collection of Kindle devices.  As she lost mobility and couldn’t get to her computer as easily, she turned to a Kindle to satisfy her online needs.  The problem being, she didn’t know how to close the windows she would open.  Her Kindle would bog down with the open with the thousands of open windows and she would get frustrated.  We showed her and showed her how to close them, but it became easier just to use one of those windows to open Amazon and order another Kindle.  Her Kindles were, for lack of a better description, disposable. 

I suppose that was part of her.  What’s the easiest answer as opposed to the best one?

I remember having a dinner purchased on QVC and mailed to her house.  I picked out (and picked up) my Christmas presents for years.  I watched for years as she purchased the first car she looked at or even the first condo she walked through. 

Maybe it was the easiest way, sure, but she also wasn’t really caught up in “stuff”.  Perfect was almost never the enemy of the good for her.  She liked what she liked and that was enough. 

She liked the color aqua, perhaps too much.  She had a purple air fryer, basically new, but then discovered an aqua one.  Obviously, you replace your brand-new air fryer with the aqua one, when you like what you like. 

She liked what she liked and she loved who she loved.  I was fortunate to be one of those people. 

I am fairly critical of myself and some of my decisions, but she was deliberately oblivious to them.  She wanted nothing more than those she loved to be happy.  Perhaps she had funny ways of showing it, probably because of the pedestal she put us on, but she just wanted joy for us.

As she got older a lot of the responsibility of caring for her fell to my mother, my wife, and myself.  It was something this unapologetic lady felt apologetic about.  It never bothered me.  I always felt like it was a way to give back to someone who gave so much. 

The lesson here girls?  Beyond the missing someone truly important to us?  Maybe don’t get caught up in the stuff.  To be honest, it’s a lesson to learn but she wasn’t always the best example. 

Roe once went to a psychic and she told Roe that in past lives she tried to “buy” love instead of giving from herself.  She definitely needs to work on that her next time around as well.  She loved each of you so much that sending you gifts in the mail made her happy.  Making sure the Christmas tree was bulging underneath made her happy.  But it made her happy because you were so happy.

Your joy was her goal.

It’s a good way to live. 

The lesson here, is just that.  Don’t get caught up in the stuff.  Do you think at the end, there was anything beyond yourselves that we could bring to the hospital that would have lifted her spirits?  There was no toy, no snack, no “thing” that made her happier than seeing you.

That’s the thing about life, you get the chance to see what is really important when its too late to appreciate it as long as you’d like. 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

72 Hours of Freedom, The Adventures of Runaway Jerry

 I haven’t written for a while, at least not on this platform, but I intend to begin to right that ship over the coming weeks.  Summer makes writing tough as the houses usually calm interior becomes a hub for snack requests and shuttle runs. 

Today’s story begins with my eldest’s ride to school.  My wife and Avery drove off and I sat at my desk to start working and my phone rang.  It was my wife.  Of all the things she could be calling for, I couldn’t have guessed that it was a request for a box, to house a turtle, that was walking across the road. 

I pulled up and My wife and daughter were standing over a soccer cleat sized turtle.  He had made it across the street and was now trying to sneak under a fence.  We were able to corral the little guy into a box and the ladies continued on their journey.  I put the turtle and its box in my front seat and headed home. 

Fun fact, turtles can escape Amazon boxes and apparently, enjoy riding shotgun without their view impeded by cardboard.  A quick decision was made to race home and wrassle him there instead of pulling over and shoving him in a box that won’t keep him anyway.

My first, and as luck would have it, only stroke of luck was that the terrapin was taller than the space under my passenger seat.  He wedged himself in for easy capture.  Very convenient.

Fortunately for me, but not for its previous residents, we have an empty fish tank.  Come to find out, turtles don’t like being in fish tanks as they can’t see the glass.  A fact proven by the endless banging of the little dude’s shell hitting the sides of the tank.  While I got really tired of the banging, I had to admire his tireless moxi.

My wife began investigating what kind of turtle it was (a box turtle) and whether or not it was wild or a pet (unknown). 

When my girls arrived home from school, they were excited by the prospect of keeping our new shelled guest.  They figured that if no one stepped forward to claim the turtle, then clearly, he needed to live with us.  I can follow their logic, while I am not an undeniable pet lover, I am however, a tremendous softie. 

While the girls were entertaining the turtle and entertaining their odds of keeping it, my wife was searching Facebook and Craigslist and Nextdoor to see if anyone was missing, wanting, or knew what to do with a box turtle once it was in a fish tank on your kitchen table. 

There was no response.

The Humane Society said that we should keep the turtle for 72 hours to make sure our search efforts had time to percolate.  In reality, I felt the good people at the Humane Society wanted to allow ample bonding time between the tortoise and my little ones. 

Their plan was already working.

After several hours of kid’s laughter and some shell to glass banging our doorbell rang.  On my porch was a man, his wife and a six-year-old boy.

The man asked, somewhat meekly, “Did you guys find a turtle?”

When we produced said turtle the little boy squealed “JERRY!”

Their family was happier than mine was.  We found out that Jerry had been on the lamb for three days and made it almost a block, making them the most recoverable pets possible.

The lesson here, little ladies?  There’s a couple, actually.  They both involve sacrifice.  First, when Mommy and Avery took the time to stop and then call in the reinforcements may just have saved Jerry from becoming a road pancake.  The second sacrifice is the one where we found the owner despite the desire to keep Jerry to yourselves.  The sadness you all felt was bested only by the joy of the family who were reunited with Jerry.  Even Jerry seemed happy to see his family, if you can believe it. 

All in all, the sacrifice of time that Avery and Mommy made and the sacrifice of letting Jerry go home combined to create a heartfelt moment for that family.  They had conceded that Jerry was gone forever.  Their reunion was unexpected and that made it all the sweeter.  They couldn’t have been more grateful.  Honestly, I couldn’t have been either.   You made a little boy’s year.