Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves

My wife has a heart of gold. She is always helping somebody and inevitably, some of them turn around and burn her despite her kindness. After each burn, she’ll say she’ll never help anybody again and a few days later, she’s helping somebody again. Her heart is one of the things I love about her.

We have taken in people who have either been homeless or on the verge of homelessness. Some of them have been addicts or former addicts. Some have been alcoholics. Some have just lied repeatedly and we’ve always given them another chance. Some have stolen from us and we have forgiven them and gave them another chance.

Some of you might consider us foolish, and that’s ok, but for every dozen or so failures, we have somebody who genuinely appreciates our efforts to help them and that makes it all worth it. To see that person move on in life and make a successful recovery means everything to us. It takes a lot of work, money, and patience but it’s worth it to save a life. I owe it all to my wife. She was born with a servant’s heart. I love her for this.

What astounds me is some of the things said by the people we attempt to help. We have heard it all through the years. Here’s an example of a conversation with somebody whom we let stay with us for a year as she was getting her things and leaving. Keep in mind that this person didn’t pay a penny of rent during that year and lied to us repeatedly about her income. She had a job, but we never saw any contribution to our living expenses or food. All we found were 3 full garbage bags of empty beer and wine bottles after she left.

MY WIFE: Aren’t those my towels you’re taking?

HER (the person we tried to help): Like you can’t afford new towels!

Basically, that statement said it all. I often wonder what possesses a person to take ownership over another persons things or money. They feel that because you have some things that it makes you privileged and it’s ok to take those things away from you. It doesn’t matter if you worked hard to afford those things, they still view you as somebody it’s ok to take from.

The other thing that seems to be taken often, even by people who just visit, are our prescriptions. Even though some of the people owned up to stealing these things, they obviously didn’t care that they were stealing something we needed. Our prescriptions are prescribed to us because we have conditions that requires the prescriptions.

I am a disabled veteran and the VA actually takes good care of me. It took over twenty years to get to that point. I do not abuse my medications and only take them as prescribed or needed. When they disappear, I notice. They are easy to miss when you start out with sixty and suddenly you only have six or so. It’s also easy to determine who took them when they have been the only person to visit since the bottle of meds was last opened. My wife or I will always confront them.

US: Did you take our meds?

THEM: I can’t believe you would think I would do something like that!!

US: Well, you were the only one here.

THEM: You probably misplaced them! You guys are always losing things!

US: We didn’t lose the bottle, just the meds that were in the bottle.

THEM: Are you calling me a liar?

Two days later.

THEM: I’m sorry, it was me who took your meds.

US: Can you give what’s left back? We need them.

THEM: No, they’re all gone.

US: You took fifty of them in 2 days?

THEM: I hate that you treat me like a liar! Do you know how that makes me feel? You’re not a very good friend!

US: Look, maybe it’s better if we don’t remain friends.

THEM: Like all of this is my fault? I suppose this means you can’t lend me fifty dollars until payday?

US: You’ve never paid us back from the last three times you borrowed money.


Possible moral of this story? For us, there is none. We just try to learn from every incident. We’re still going to try to help people. It’s in my wife’s nature to do this and I love my wife so it has become my nature as well. She is one of the best people I know and I’m proud to stand with her.


Dazeodrew, The Musical

I wake up every morning with a song in my head. It’s a different song every day and there is no pattern to how my brain picks these songs. Sometimes it’s a song from 40 years ago, sometimes it’s a jingle from an old commercial, sometimes it’s annoying, and sometimes it sets the tone for my day. Like I said, there is no pattern, just music both good and bad.

As far as I know, I’ve always been like this. My earliest memories have me waking up with songs in my head. As a grown-up, I mentioned it to a doctor who told me it’s a form of OCD. Then the doctor did what doctors do and prescribed meds. They didn’t work. The musical hits keep coming.

It’s not all bad. Yesterday morning I woke up with Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” in my head. Not bad at all. Another day it was the dueling guitar riffs from the Eagles “Hotel California.” I can live with that. It’s not always classic rock hits, however. A couple of Ed Sheeran songs have gotten stuck in my head. Still not bad. Now for the bad…

I woke up one morning with the song “Timothy” by The Buoys stuck in my head. I hadn’t heard that song since the early 70s so I’m not sure how it got stuck in my head. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a song about three trapped miners and to survive, two of them ate Timothy. It’s not a song you really want stuck in your head. I just took an awful risk by writing about it. It may resurface again and only hours of Metallica can erase it.

Another old song that popped into my head one morning was “Billy, Don’t be a Hero” recorded by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. They didn’t do it originally, but they sure were able to implant it in my brain. Once again, hours of Metallica is the only cure.

Not all the one-hit wonders were awful in the 70s. I’ve had “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks stuck in my head and I really didn’t mind. “Brandy” by Looking Glass is another one I don’t mind. There’s also “One Toke Over the Line” by Brewer and Shipley. All these songs were pretty decent and it didn’t bother me to have them run through my brain over and over and over and over and over…ok, maybe they did get a little old after a couple hours after all.

What really gets to me is when an old commercial jingle gets into my head. “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.” A couple hours of this and you definitely need the Alka Seltzer the jingle is referring to. There’s a few more… “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun” or “I am stuck on band-aid, because my band-aid is stuck on me” and the ever famous “My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R.” They just don’t make the earworm jingles like they used to, that’s for sure.

Not all my head music comes from the 70s like I mentioned before. Certain bands seem to do complete concerts in my head, or at least it feels like it. I’ve had Matchbox 20, Nirvana, Train, The Wallflowers, and plenty more. It’s not always rock either. David Allen Coe, Toby Keith, Alabama, and others from the country world have invaded my brain on occasion. Even classical music can get in on the act. I can’t count how often “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” has invaded my brain, and not just at Christmastime.

I’ve mentioned that hours of listening to Metallica cures my problem. I’ve also had success with AC/DC. When I need a song out of my head, I go with anything that’s hard rock. Of course, I’m a bit fired up after this cure so I have to tone down with some Louie Armstrong or America.

Bottom line is, my head is a jukebox that never loses a song and only gains more. If only I could put speakers on my head and a coin slot above my nose. I’d be rich.

Angry People

Do you know anybody that always seems to be angry at something? They practically live on top of a soapbox and every conversation revolves around what they’re angry about at that moment? For those people, every event presents an injustice of some kind. They are always under attack. If in conversation, you dare to speak about the bright side of things, they trash your thoughts with another example of injustice to them. Or, perhaps, you have suddenly become their subject of injustice because you finally spoke out against their angry view of the world around them. Don’t you just love these kind of people?

I’ve known a few of these people throughout my life. Even if an injustice didn’t occur, they will find a way to create an injustice out of nothing. Oftentimes, they can be so narcissistic that it’s obvious by their verbiage that the world revolves around them and that their view is the only view that could possibly be right. God forbid you ever try to express your own opinion.

I once listened to a person at the casino who just won a jackpot on a slot machine for $18,000. Personally, I’d be ecstatic. This person pissed and moaned about having to pay taxes on the winnings. They were visibly angry about this. They were also visibly angry that it took a whole 5 minutes for someone to come and do the paperwork for their jackpot. Then they were angry that it took yet another 5 minutes to go to the cashier to get their jackpot. After all this anger, I had to ask a question.

ME: Even after taxes, you still won a good jackpot.

THEM: It would’ve been better without the taxes.

ME: Ok, what if you won $13,500 and didn’t have to pay taxes?

THEM: That would be great, then I wouldn’t be paying taxes to all those freeloaders on welfare!

ME: Well, if you look at this jackpot as a $13,500 win and ignore the taxes you paid, it’s about the same.

THEM: But the freeloaders still get my money!

ME: That’s ok, karma will come for those who don’t deserve help from your taxes.

THEM: Not soon enough…hey, do I have to report this jackpot as income?

ME: It’s already reported as income to the government.

THEM: What if I had not chosen to have taxes withheld?

ME: It’s still reported to the government.

THEM: That’s just great! Now I’ll lose my food stamps!

Yes, I was dealing with a hypocrite. What’s even worse, I see them in the casino every other day. They take what money they are given and spend it on slot machines hoping for a big payout. When they get the payout, they still remain angry. After all, they deserve their free benefits from the government, not anybody else.

I know there are a lot of people that deserve the benefits they get…just not this angry narcissistic unhappy Debbie Downer. Of course, they would just view this as yet another injustice.

Chasing Dirt

The other day, my wife was cleaning the floors. My wife loves a clean house and works hard to keep it that way. I just try to keep up. When my wife gets into cleaning mode, it’s like a tornado whizzing through the house. She has the ability to clean 3 or 4 rooms at the same time. She will bounce from room to room, doing a little at a time in each. I just stay within reach in case she needs me to move something heavy or fetch things she needs fetched. After a few hours, the results are wonderful. Anyway, while she was cleaning the floors this time, she said something that clicked with me.

WIFE: It feels like my entire life has been spent chasing dirt!

I thought this was a unique way of expressing what was happening. Most of us just clean, or wash, or dust, or sweep. My wife chases dirt…the archenemy. She is a dirt hunter. She is a superhero, like Batman…or Batwoman. I serve as her lowly sidekick, Robin. I have absolutely no superhero skills when it comes to cleaning…or chasing dirt. That’s why I can only achieve sidekick status. Heck, I think our old Roomba outranks me in the cleaning superhero universe. I know the cat does. Her fluffy tail does more effective dusting than anything else we have. I exist only to help provide the means to have a place to chase dirt at. I think that might be the only reason they keep me around. By “they,” I mean my wife, the cat, and the Roomba.

I can just imagine the dirt having a warning system in case of attack.

DIRT COMMANDER: Is there any movement?

DIRT RECON GUARD: No sir, just a couple false alarms…no, wait…she’s moving towards the weapon of mass dirt destruction!

DIRT COMMANDER: Are you sure?




DIRT COMMANDER: God help us all…

Of course, against a superhero like my wife, the dirt was always doomed to fail. But if you really consider this, the dirt wasn’t destroyed…it was moved. My wife isn’t killing anything…well, maybe an amoeba or some bacteria, but not the dirt. The dirt goes from our floor to the vacuum or dustpan, and then to the garbage can. From there, freedom is only a garbage truck away. In other words, my wife is liberating the dirt! Seriously, if I were a speck of dirt, I would much rather prefer the great outdoors over a carpet any day. Granted, it might be a dumpsite, but it’s still freedom.

So now I’m suggesting that my wife might be a superhero to dirt…well, maybe not all dirt. It’s probably the rough and rugged dirt that appreciate her moving them from a carpet to the great outdoors. The indoor loving city dirt probably doesn’t appreciate her at all. They probably lived oblivious to the threat and weren’t prepared like the rough and rugged outdoor dirt who probably had bugout bags ready for this very day of attack. They were prepared.

Possible moral? Always be prepared…even if you’re dirt.

Green Acres

Everybody who’s ever served usually has a personal basic training story. I have a few and I already posted one of them. This one is all about me…and my favorite Drill Sergeant…let’s just get right to the opening scene, shall we?

DRILL SERGEANT: Where are you from, Private?

ME: Wisconsin, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So you’re a farmer.

ME: No, Drill Sergeant! I grew up in Milwaukee, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So you’re calling me a liar, Private?

ME: No, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: Good! I’m glad we agree Private Dazeodrew! You’re a farmer. I’m going to call you Green Acres!

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant!

So from that point on, I was called Green Acres for the rest of basic training. For some reason, that particular Drill Sergeant took a personal interest in me. It wasn’t all bad, but it definitely had its moments. Like the unspoken agreement we had that whenever he looked at me, I dropped and gave him twenty push-ups…and he looked at me a lot! He would also screw around with me, like, for example, in the mess hall line. He was walking along the line and looked at me. I dropped and began to do the push-ups.

DRILL SERGEANT: What are you doing, Green Acres?

ME (grunting a little as I pushed): I’m doing my push-ups, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: In the mess hall line? Get up, Green Acres. (I jumped up)>

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: Did you do twenty?

ME: No, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So I guess you owe me forty next time I look at you.

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: I’m looking at you, Green Acres…

He liked to be deceptive that way. But like I said, it wasn’t all bad. He was a different man whenever we were learning things. He was patient, took the time to figure out the problem, and was a steady teacher. For me, he was Jeckl and Hyde. I would get something right and he would joyfully pat me on the back as if I were his son. Then we would celebrate with me doing push-ups. It was a very consistent relationship we had with each other.

I did more push-ups during that period then I had done my entire life prior to Basic Training. I always could do a lot of push-ups, but my skinny frame was deceptive about that fact. I just never looked the part of a push-up pushing guy. I would push and push and push, but my skinny muscles would just get harder, not bigger. I seemed to have a Barney Fife body that could do Andy Griffith things. It was weird for all of us.

Went I went on to advanced training, we swapped out Drill Sergeants. The new ones were a little more relaxed and the environment was more about learning rather than push-ups. Oh, we still did our fair share, but I didn’t have to drop every time I was looked at.

When they finally gave us a weekend off, I decided to take a walk around post. Fort Leonard Wood intrigued me and being so new to the army, I wanted to get a better feel of it. I was walking past my old building when I heard my, um, name.

DRILL SERGEANT: Hey! Green Acres! (I automatically dropped to the ground out of habit).

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: Get up, get up.

ME (jumping up and waiting for the deceptive part): Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: At ease, relax man. You’re not in Basic anymore.

ME: I didn’t want to risk it with you, Drill Sergeant. (This made him smile).

DRILL SERGEANT: You want to know why I rode you so hard, Private Dazeodrew? (He actually used my name…I was confused and wary).

ME: Um, sure, Drill Sergeant… (I had my own theories…)

DRILL SERGEANT: Because I could tell that you were smart, I just thought you needed a little more upper body strength. That’s it.

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant. (He could tell I didn’t fully believe him).

DRILL SERGEANT: I’ll make it up to you. Tonight you’re coming over to have dinner with me and my wife. Do you like beer n’ brats?

All was immediately forgiven… I had a great time and he had a great family. The man I visited with was the man that showed up when we were learning things. He was kind, patient, loving to his wife and kids, and turned out to be someone I could easily make friends with. He also made the brats the right way.

Cruising in a Small Town

My daughter found out the hard way that it’s hard to be a delinquent teenager in a small town. If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that we lived in a small town in Wisconsin of only 1500 people for a few years. Everyone knew each other and it was a pretty safe community. Of course, that’s the recipe for boredom for teenagers. Other than the tiny bowling alley, a Dairy Queen, and a spattering of other food places, there just wasn’t much to do if you were a teenager. Once you reached adulthood, the world opened up because of the 1500 bars in and around town…ok, slight exaggeration…there were about 150 bars, still, that makes a bar for every 10 people. Welcome to northern Wisconsin. Other than fishing, there just wasn’t a lot to do.

One evening, I received a phone call from a concerned (perhaps nosey?) neighbor. She seemed very concerned about my daughter’s whereabouts and used an opportunity to dig deeper. Since she was one of the town’s many gossips, I felt I had to tread carefully with her.

ME (answering the phone): Hello?

HER: Hello Mr. Dazeodrew, this is Gladys.

ME (carefully hiding my fear…or annoyance…or both): Hi Gladys! How are you?

HER: I’m well. How are you?

ME: I’m well, I…

HER: How’re your kids?

ME: Well, they…

HER: Are you aware your daughter is running around with a bunch of boys?

ME: Well, this town is so small the selection of girls is…

HER: They’re cruising through town in a car.

ME: Oh, well, I…

HER: Back and forth, back and forth. They’re driving me crazy!

ME (the annoyance starting to come through): Well, maybe if you move away from your window?

HER: Oh, they can’t see me. I’m hiding behind the curtain.

ME: That’s not what I meant. Anyway, I’m ok with the cruising. (Brief moment of silence).

HER: With all those boys?

ME: I’ll tell you what, while you’re peeking out of your window, let me know if they all go into a bedroom somewhere? That might concern me.

HER: Oh, I will, Mr. Dazeodrew, I will!

Anyway, my poor daughter couldn’t get a break in that small town. Everybody seemed to like to call me to let me know what my kids were doing, even if it wasn’t my kids doing it.

NEIGHBOR: Do you know what your kids are doing?

ME: Yeah, they’re eating dinner.

NEIGHBOR: Oh, well I thought I saw, well, never mind. Enjoy your dinner!

One of the reasons my daughter didn’t get a break was because she would often come home and try to tell me about her time with her friends.

DAUGHTER: Dad! Guess what we did?

ME: You started out at Becky’s house, then Josh and Jeff came by, then you all piled into Jeff’s car, then you cruised for about 37 minutes, then you stopped at Dairy Queen to see who could get the worst brain freeze, Josh won, then you went to the bowling alley and you bowled a 125.


ME: I’m a little disappointed because last week you bowled a 150. I had some high hopes for you…

The other thing about living in a small town is the lack of selection come prom time. My daughter was only a freshman at the time but was asked to prom by a senior. After getting some much-needed help from a friend getting my daughter a dress (being a small town, it was almost a 2-hour drive to the nearest dress store), we had her all ready for the prom. She looked beautiful and was very excited to be going. Then her date showed up…

Small town or not, I had never met this kid. He had chosen…CHOSEN…to dress up like a 1930’s gangster, complete with the hat. He looked sleazy, cocky, confident, and perfectly like a criminal. That crap-eating grin and belligerent attitude made me think of a predator. Now, I was concerned. I was prepared, however. I was working in my woodshop when the little Al Capone wannabe and his entourage arrived, laughing and joking and no doubt filled with thoughts of their freshman conquests they had planned for later. One look at them and I began to cut wood on my table saw while talking.

ME: So… (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr)…what time are you (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) planning to bring her back?

CAPONE (smiling that crap-eating smile): Well, you know, it’s prom…

ME: So midnight (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrr), huh?

CAPONE (giving me an incredulous look): No! It’ll be more like 2 or 3 in the morning. (I told you he was cocky).

ME: You said (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) 11 tonight?

CAPONE (still clearly not getting it): No, Mr., um, no, I said (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) um, 2 or 3 in the (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) morning.

ME: See you at 10. (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr).

My daughter was home nice and early. On her own, she chose never to date little Al again. Good, because it’s hard to raise kids from prison.

To Shave or Not to Shave

I hate shaving. When I was a little kid, I couldn’t wait to shave, but now I wish my face was bald…you know, no hair at all. This is a strange statement for me because I currently have a bushy beard. I like the beard, but eventually I trim it down or shave it off so I can start a new crop of facial hair because, well, I may have mentioned that I hate to shave.

My fascination with facial hair goes back to when I was a little boy. They had just come out with the realistic hair GI Joe and I wanted one really bad. What made them so cool was that they also had realistic facial hair. I was surprised with one on Christmas which was a big deal because we usually couldn’t afford very much at Christmas. I was so excited with my new toy. Of course, being the aware child that I was, I immediately took my GI Joe into the bathroom, applied my dad’s shaving cream, and shaved his beard off. I guess I figured it would grow back…just like my dad’s facial hair. Instead, I ended up with a terribly scarred GI Joe. It looked like someone took a flamethrower to his face. My dad was thrilled.

DAD: What the…?

ME: Don’t worry, it’ll grow back.

DAD: Do you know what we paid for that?

ME: Um, thank you?

DAD: You destroyed it and you haven’t even had it for an hour!

ME: It’ll grow back!

DAD: Go to your room!

I figured that was the end of it but there was one more connected event to wrap it up. It happened ten minutes later when my dad went to the bathroom to get ready for church.

DAD: SONFA….Dazeodrew!

Apparently, razor blades weren’t meant for shaving fake hair off a plastic face. Needless to say, that GI Joe became my favorite GI Joe. He looked like a grizzled veteran of many wars. He finally met his fate when our dog was a teething puppy. I like to think he went out fighting.

Later on, in my teens, my wish came true. I had to shave. In fact, my face became so adept at growing hair, you could see my beard shadow forming by noon. I opted for a mustache, but it made me look silly. I had the face of a little boy with a Sam Elliot sized mustache above my lip.

When I joined the army, I really learned to shave. After a couple weeks of basic training, I opted to carry a razor with me so I could dry shave in the afternoon because of the quick growing shadow. It caused a few misunderstandings.

DRILL SERGEANT: Did you shave today, maggot?

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: Where? Your armpits? Your legs? Your ass?

ME: I shaved my face Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So, you shaved your ass?

First off, in basic training, there is no right answer to questions like this.

ME: No Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So, you’re saying I’m mistaken Private Dazeodrew?

ME: No Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So, you shaved your ass?

ME: Um, yes Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So, Private Dazeodrew, you’re saying that Uncle Sam is paying to put a helmet on your ass?

Seriously, there is no right answer to most of their questions. All I know is that my facial hair seems to always get me in trouble. Now that it’s white, it’s gotten more troublesome.

GRANDDAUGHTER: What’s that brown stuff over your lip?

ME: Breakfast.


I'm Batman!

My youngest son went to spend a couple nights at my oldest brother’s house. He was about 3 years old at the time, still cute to people who didn’t have to be with him 24/7. You know what they say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” My brother and his wife were very fond of my youngest son. Come to think of it, so were their dogs, especially the Doberman named Reggie White (yes, we are all Packer fans). They were the same height…the dog and my son, I mean…and it took very little effort for Reggie to lick my son in the face. It took a whole lot more effort for my son to keep his little face dry.

Anyway, he was visiting, and after a long day of playing and being slobbered on, he needed a bath…once again, it’s my son we’re talking about. My sister-in-law put him in the tub and let him wash himself. He seemed to be happy with all his singing. I still think it was the reprieve from being slobbered on that made him happy, but he was happy none-the-less. Then after about fifteen minutes, it became quiet. My sister-in-law became concerned and went to open the bathroom door, but before she could get to it, the door burst open.

“I’m Batman!” my son cried out as he ran out of the bathroom wearing his towel as a cape. What made it funnier was that he was only wearing the towel as a cape…nothing else. He dodged my sister-in-law then did a few laps around the house before bolting for the back door. My brother lived on some acreage then so it wasn’t a problem of him running off through the neighborhood, but still, after the initial laughter, he needed to be caught. Here’s where they received the lesson of “not so cute if you’re with him 24/7.” It took them 15 minutes to finally round him up (he was pretty elusive and quick back then) and they only got him because of, you guessed it, a Reggie White sack in the backyard. Once the dog figured out the little kid needed to be caught, it leveled the playing field.

Dogs have always been the bane of my little son’s existence. He loves them now, but back then, the dogs always seemed to work against him.

At one time we had a little Australian Shepherd we named “Pack.” I know you’re thinking I named him after the Green Bay Packers, an obvious family tradition, but that wasn’t the case…ok, I lied, it was the case. However, I also needed to have a simple name because the poor puppy was deaf in one ear and struggled with the other. The deafness didn’t dampen his intelligence, however. He was incredibly smart. A good example was when he was just a little puppy. One morning, he watched me dig a hole, put all his poop in it, then cover the hole. Then I dug a new hole to save time later. That afternoon I watched in amazement as he pooped into the freshly dug hole. From that point on, that’s how we did it. I never had to clean up after one of my kids dragging poop into the house on their shoes, or feet, or whatever…

Well, at this time, my youngest son was about 2 years old. Pack was about 4 months old. Pack would follow my youngest son around as if he were in charge of him and my youngest son needed to be herded at times. I said, “herded,” like a cow or sheep, not “hurted,” like, um, you know, hurt. Pack was just following his instincts and because the goats we had didn’t like to be herded by a little puppy, he chose the smallest human to practice on. Of course, my youngest son was not at all on board with this plan. He was more of the “escape artist” type and that dog kept ruining his plans.

One afternoon I just sat and watched as my youngest son would try to climb the gate to get out of the yard. Every time he made it up about 3 feet or so, Pack would grab him by the diapered bottom with his teeth and pull him back down. My son would swing at him, push at him, missed a few poorly aimed kicks at him, and Pack would just sit there and take it. Then it would start all over again. My son never did escape as long as we had Pack.

Possible moral of this story? If the Penguin, the Riddler, or Catwoman had a dog, they might’ve defeated Batman. Just a theory, but it’s based on plausible evidence. At least Batman wore tights under his cape.

Sleepy Time Bear

One of my boys is a master sleeper. He’s been developing this skill since infancy, so he’s pretty good at it now that he’s an adult. I used to worry he had narcolepsy, but it turns out he just likes to use every last bit of energy until it’s gone…suddenly gone. Yes, it has caused some misfortune, but also, yes, it has caused some good laughs.

When he was a toddler, he would fight against every naptime. After a while, it was obvious he just wouldn’t sleep. Of course, his alter-ego, Mr. Sleepy Time, would show up every evening, sometimes very early in the evening. An example was his very first Halloween.

We had just come back to the States after a tour of Germany and in my case, a tour of the Mideast. We moved to Milwaukee and were able to go trick-or-treating again. For Mr. Sleepy Time, it was a revelation of sorts. He was a smart kid, one of those kids where you could almost see the gears turning in his mind as he discovered something.

My dad and I decided to take the kids out and we went to the first house next door. Mr. Sleepy Time held back as he watched his older siblings run-up to the door in their costumes and yell “Trick or Treat!” at the top of their lungs. He couldn’t have run if he wanted because I chose to unstuff a giant teddy bear and make it his costume…it was a bit cumbersome, but man oh man, was it cute! He was like a cross between Winnie the Pooh and that toilet paper teddy bear in the commercials. He watched carefully as his siblings ran back and showed the candy in their buckets. I quickly turned to look at his face so I could watch the gears turn. I was not disappointed. You could almost hear his thoughts and if he wasn’t a vocally challenged toddler, they would’ve went like this:

MR. SLEEPY TIME: I don’t know those people. I don’t want to run to their door. Boy, this bear suit is hot. Wait, what are they yelling? Why is that lady putting something in their buckets? Boy, this bear suit is really, really hot. What did she put in the buckets? Hey, look at that squirrel over there! Here come the buckets. Candy? Wait, candy? I wonder if that squirrel is as hot as I am? If I yell I get candy? CANDY!

After that, he plodded up to every door with his siblings. While they yelled “Trick or Treat,” he yelled, well, he just yelled. In fact, he plodded up to more doors yelling after his siblings took their over-flowing buckets home. They, no doubt, had some major headaches after all the yelling and wanted someplace quiet to assess their spoils. My dad and I kept asking the little bear if he was tired and he would just shake his head no. He was in this for the long haul and he had energy, or so he thought…it was about the 5th house after his siblings went home that my dad and I watched the event. Mr. Sleepy Time turned into the sidewalk leading to the front door of a house when he wobbled. It became a Dr. Seuss story.

The bear wobbled left,

And then wobbled right,

he wobbled back,

and gave such a fright!

He wanted gobstoppers,

and lip smackers too,

 and the Whos of Whoville

knew not what to do!

The bucket it swayed,

and wobbled around,

and with Mr. Sleepy Time,

it fell to the ground!

He moved not an inch,

that lump of bear fur,

and soundly slept,

with a wheeze and a grrrrr!

This wasn’t the first time he fell asleep walking, but it was definitely one of the funniest! He had other adventures falling asleep, but one time was nearly fatal.

He was burning the candle at both ends when he was a teenager. He was a solid student with incredible grades, played football, ran track, and worked at a job. We had concerns he was doing too much, but he felt he needed to do this and really, what parent wants to stop a productive teenager?

It was after a long day of school, sports, and work that it happened. He had borrowed my truck to get around and was driving home from work. You guessed it…Mr. Sleepy Time showed up at a four-way stop intersection. He went through the stop sign and the crash woke him up. Luckily, nobody was hurt, and it was after then that he took his sleepy time issues more seriously.

Nowadays, if he gets tired driving, he pulls over. If he gets tired at night, he goes to sleep. If he visits us and we watch a movie, he goes to sleep. Seriously! We get 5 minutes into almost any movie and he’s down for the count. This is why I call him a master sleeper. He’s managed to coordinate his lack of ability to stay awake into something safe and manageable.

Possible moral of this story? Never walk a sleepy bear…but if you do, it’s funnier when you give them a full bucket of candy!

No Ref, No Foul

One of my boys has the ability to respond quickly to situations without hesitation. Now that he has a family, it’s more actions than words. When he was younger, however, it was mainly words. He could verbally burn someone after they said something and they wouldn’t know what hit them. Of course, when he did it to me, we either laughed, punished, or both. Never a dull moment with this one.

I remember going to a football game he was playing in. He was playing defensive back (or cornerback) and did a good job of keeping his guy covered. I can’t remember a pass play going his way, but the kid he was covering apparently had orders to keep running deep. My son kept up with him, step by step. Then came the response play. They hiked the ball and like most parents, I was watching my kid. He immediately looked around quickly, knocked down the other kid, and then sat on him until the play was over. No whistle, no foul. When he came back to the sideline I had to ask about it.

ME: You knocked that guy down and sat on him.

SON: Yeah.

ME: Um, why? You could’ve been called for pass interference, or, um, personal foul, um, well, I don’t know what rule covers sitting on your opponent, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal.

SON: Yeah.

ME: Why’d you do it?

SON: I was getting tired of running.

Good answer. Once again, he responded quickly to his situation. The funny part of it all was watching the other kid try to get up. Every time he tried, my son lifted himself up a bit before bouncing right back down on top of the struggling kid. Definitely fun to watch…for me. I imagine the other kid’s parents weren’t as thrilled.

Another situation involved the hardcore crime of skating in the bank parking lot. For now, we’ll just overlook the sign that said no skating and get to the event. The usual protocol was 1) The kids would skate at the bank. 2) The cops would come. 3) The kids would skate away from the bank. 4) Everybody lived happily ever after.

Now, before we get to the actual event, I’ll explain the scenario. We lived in a very small town of only 1500 people. Most everybody knew everybody…except for those weird people on the corner, nobody wanted to know them. As a county department head renting a house owned by the county sheriff, I was pretty well known as well, even though we had only lived in the town for a year or so.

Back to the story where we find the cop, let’s call him “Dilly,” came rolling up to the bank while my son and his friends were skating:

DILLY: Hey, you kids!

MY SON (not skating away this time): Yeah?

DILLY (still sitting in his car): Come here.

MY SON (noticing Officer Dilly weighed in at about 350 pounds): No, you get out of your car and come here.

DILLY (astounded and not knowing what just hit him): What?

MY SON: Why don’t you try to get out of your car and come here?

DILLY (very perplexed): Come here or I’ll tell your dad.


Then my son skated away with his friends, no doubt a hero amongst them after this interaction. Officer Dilly immediately drove the long two blocks to my house where I was woodworking in my garage.

DILLY: Your son was skating at the bank.

ME: Did you tell him to leave?

DILLY: I told him to come to my car and talk with me.

ME (getting that feeling that it didn’t go well): Ok…

DILLY: He got all smart-assed and told me to get out of the car and come to him!

ME: Ok…um, where is he now? (I was wondering if I needed bail money).

DILLY: Him and his friends skated away when I wouldn’t get out of the car.

ME (smiling and walking away): Ok, well, I have to get back to my work.

DILLY: I’m not done talking!

ME: Well then, why don’t you get out of your car and come here?

Possible moral of this story? If you’re going to make a cop angry, make sure it’s one that has trouble getting out of his car. It has a much better ending.