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.

GRANDDAUGHTER: Ewwwww!

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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.

MY SON: Ok.

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.

That's a Flap Jack!

My daughter put out something on social media that one of my grandson’s did that I thought was pretty funny. She made them pancakes for breakfast and he took peanut butter and bananas, put them on the pancakes and declared that he had just made an “Elvis Taco.” First off, that’s pretty creative and funny. Second, I’m amazed he knows that much about Elvis!

This also reminded me of when all my kids were younger and the budget was pretty tight. I learned to be pretty creative myself when it came to feeding the kids. As typical kids, they could eat double their weight in a single sitting. Every time I would go food shopping, food preparing, and food serving, I could hear the laughter of my parents in my head as they exacted their parental payback for what I was like as a kid. I ate. I ate a lot.

Anyway, I had to come up with meals that wouldn’t prevent us from making the car payment, yet stifled the cries of, “I’m STARVING!” So we ate a lot of pasta (cheap, yet flexible with variety), cereal (for those nights where cooking just wasn’t going to happen), frozen containers of sloppy joes and creamed chicken from my mom (thank God), and pancakes. Lots of pancakes. I mean, a WHOLE lot of pancakes!

“But Mr. Dazeodrew?” you ask. “Aren’t you failing as a parent nutritionally for your children?”

Really? You have the nerve to judge my parenting based on a lot of, ok, a WHOLE lot of pancakes? You have to justify your judgment nutritionally? Really? Like you’re some kind of nutrition expert or something? Are you aware that the popularity of the pancake exceeds international approval? Why there’s even an international house just for pancakes! If that’s not justification for the value of pancakes, I don’t know what is. So kindly take your five food groups and move along. I SAID, MOVE ALONG!

Anyway, those of us who have eaten a lot of pancakes know that it gets old after a while. There comes a point where you just can’t eat another plain pancake. That’s where the creativity comes in. The kids and I decided to experiment with our pancakes. Each week…yes, we had pancakes once a week…each week we would…I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO MOVE ALONG! Anyway, each week I would let one of the kids pick a variation of pancake to try. We came up with things like butterscotch pudding pancakes (very filling), green jello pancakes (kind of burned to the pan because of the sugar, but interesting), the usual fruit pancakes (banana, apple, berries, etc.), and the complete failure of fruit cocktail (from a can) pancakes. Well, the fruit cocktail wasn’t a complete failure, but unless you cut up the fruit into smaller pieces, you get some pretty lumpy pancakes with uncooked batter in various spots.

All in all, we probably came up with a hundred variations of the pancake before settling on our favorites. Of course, one kid HAD to pick the fruit cocktail…the same kid who observed that everything from grandma went on a bun. I told him, after years of feeding me and my brothers, grandma was tired of cooking. Once a month, she would cook up a WHOLE lot of sloppy joes and freeze it in small containers so they could just thaw a container in the morning and eat it that night…the sloppy joes, not the container. She did the same with the creamed chicken. The rest of the time, they went to the buffet. All you can eat and a senior discount made this a good choice for them.

That same kid, however, had some reservations when we were invited to Thanksgiving at the grandparents. While we were driving there, I finally asked him what was up? In a serious tone, he responded, “I’m just trying to picture a bun big enough to hold the turkey.” Good question. A good parent would have reassured him that it would be fine, but…

“Who said grandma didn’t cut up and cream the turkey so we can eat it on little buns?” Could’ve happened, but didn’t…thank God.

Bob's Lunch (Reblog)

When I used to compile the newsletter where I used to work, I would ask the rest of the staff to give me input on what they would like in it. My fellow case manager would give me her column (always well ahead of time…thank you!), Our Program Manager would give me verbal ideas which we always forgot about in about five minutes or so, and one month, Our maintenance man gave me a list of topics that I expanded upon and put in Housekeeping, except one thing. His last item said, “NO lunch report.” Of course, this was because I often asked what he had for lunch. I couldn’t help it, it smelt pretty darn good sometimes!

I decided to dedicate this blog to our maintenance man’s lunch. For the sake of the story, we’ll just call him “Bob.” For those of you that look forward to my moral of the story part, don’t worry…there will be a moral.

Just to be accurate, I Googled, “Bob’s lunch,” and was very surprised to find a wealth of information about the subject. An entire history was portrayed for me that I will condense and offer to all of you. We’ll begin with Caveman Bob.

Caveman Bob was the first lunch hauler in Bob Lunch history.  Before he would hop on his stone wheel and roll away to his maintenance job at the cave complex to fix fire pits and meat hangers, his cavewoman would fix him a lunch and put it in his blue-dyed dinosaur eggshell lunch bucket.  Occasionally, he would lose control of his wheel and break his bucket, prompting him to perform the dangerous task of stealing a new dinosaur egg.  Of course, this meant egg salad lunches for weeks!

Babylon Bob was a maintenance guy for King Nebuchadnezzar and maintained the hanging garden water system for the king.  His lunch box was made of the blue-dyed stomach lining from a camel.  One day, it became so hot, his unleavened bread melted around his fruit from the fig tree.  Not wanting to waste the lunch his wife so lovingly made for him, he ate it and realized it was wonderful!  He called it a Fig Bob, but it didn’t take.  Centuries later, some guy named Newton rediscovered the tasty snack and became famous.

Barnacle Bob was a maintenance pirate aboard one of Blackbeard’s ships.  He was the guy that kept the ship afloat and was also tasked with the job of turning pirated vessels so they could be reused after being blown to bits by cannonballs. He gained his nickname of Barnacle Bob because he was constantly scraping the barnacles off the bottoms of the captured ships to make them presentable.   His lunch was always packed in a blue conch shell which he famously guarded because, seriously, how often can you find a blue conch shell?  Well, one day, as Blackbeard’s pirates were battling to take an English frigate led by Captain James Cook, something serious happened.  Barnacle Bob was kicking back watching the fight from the Crow’s Nest (as the maintenance pirate he wasn’t required to fight), Captain Cook made the mistake of bumping Barnacle Bob’s blue lunch conch.  Without a thought, Barnacle Bob leaped down to the deck, took Captain Cook’s sword, and lopped off his hand.  Barnacle Bob felt so bad afterward that he dug into his tool chest and found a hook for the poor man to wear in place of his hand.  Captain Cook was so moved, as well as apologetic for bumping Barnacle Bob’s blue lunch conch, that he joined the pirates and became famous in his own right.  Ever hear of Captain James Hook?

Bungalow Bob was a maintenance pioneer out west as the settler’s moved from the east.  He maintained a series of bungalows along the way so they could rest before they moved over the mountains.  He also maintained a giant cornfield so he could give them corn for their trip.  Unfortunately, this also meant he ate a lot of corn on the cob when he would open his blue wooden lunch box every day.  Oftentimes, he brought a bag of extra corn on the cob to give to the children from the wagon trains and all the children sang,

“Hey, Bungalow Bob!

Corn on the cob?

Bungalow Bob?”

So, now it’s time for the moral of the story.  Even though we have fun with Bob’s lunch, there is a long and cherished history behind the tradition.  If you value your hand…don’t bump Bob’s lunch…no, that’s not it.  Um, use care when packing your lunch in a dinosaur eggshell…no, that’s not it either.  Well, I guess we’ll go with, don’t tell Dazeodrew, “NO lunch report.”  That’s like a serving suggestion.

Eye Cream Cone

One of the funniest things in the world is listening to a child as they learn to talk. For some reason, it’s just so adorable when a little one says something like “wuv you.” Of course, most of us can translate this to “love you,” which brings me to the point of this writing. What about those times when you can’t translate what your child is saying? It can be frustrating for both you and the child…or it can be hilarious.

When I was a child, I had a deficiency in my speech. I guess my older brothers did as well, but since they’re older, I wasn’t there and can’t confirm this…but I’m sure it’s true. You see, we grew up with deaf parents so some of our speech developed from hearing their words spoken. For example, my oldest brother apparently had a heck of a time when he first went to school with the words “ice cream.” In his mind, he knew exactly what it was, but with his mouth, it came out “eye cream.” Little chants on the playground became a disaster (because we all know kids can be cruel to each other) and one chant, in particular, was to be avoided.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for EYE CREAM!”

Hours, even days of entertainment would follow. By the time I hit school, after hearing all the stories from my brothers, I chose just not to speak. Imagine my relief when I finally graduated! I finally felt I could ask a question without ridicule! “Is it really ok to eat the glue?” I’d been dying to ask that for over a decade! I didn’t really get an answer, but it sure was a relief to finally speak!

Though my daughter seemed to be born to talk, my sons’ all had to go to speech therapy. One’s speech bore a remarkable likeness to Elmer Fudd, “Hey Da-a-a-d, ha-a-a-ve you seen my wa-wascally brudder?” Another would substitute “w” for “th.” “Hut time is it?” Of course, being a toddler, he said the word “what” or, “hut” quite often, like, every other word. He did it often enough that I would occasionally throw a football at him. You know, “Hut, hut, hut…” Oh, calm down! It was a nerf football!

The speech therapist said he did this because his tongue was too thick. I had him stick his tongue out at me (something he probably wanted to do a number of times) and sure enough, he could barely get his tongue out of his mouth. Our options were to have it cut or let him grow out of it. All I could envision was that medieval torture tool that clamped onto a victim’s tongue and pulled it out…no, we won’t be doing that. He grew out of it fine…but you can always make a boring party fun when you ask him to try to touch his nose with his tongue. Oh, once again, calm down! He’s a grown-up now! Embarrassing your kids is your right as a parent! Why else do you let them live to adulthood?

Anyway, the hilarious story happens with my youngest. He had a serious speech impediment that left him with needing an interpreter to communicate. Of course, the only interpreters were his family. We knew what he was saying…but the daycare sure didn’t.

Now, before we get into this story, we must look at some facts. 1) having a speech impediment can be frustrating for both the speaker and listener. 2) The larger the vocabulary, the more words will be misspoken. 3) If the listener isn’t prepared, they will hear something that wasn’t meant (i.e. eye cream).

At the daycare that day, of which my two youngest sons attended, my youngest was trying to speak about something. At first, it was with the other kids…then a teacher got involved…then a number of teachers were involved…then one of them (the prettiest and smartest one) had the sense to get my second youngest son involved (remember, family interpreter?). In the end, it was figured out, but not before they nearly had me come get him.

You see, my youngest son had a number of speech issues, one of them being the long “a” sound. For those of you not sure, the long “a” sound sounds like “hey” minus the “h”, unless, of course, you were my second youngest son where the “h” was perfectly acceptable in speech. Anyway, my youngest couldn’t do the sound. It came out like a short “u.” Once again, for those of you who aren’t sure, that sounds like “uh.” So, for example, if he was trying to say “rake”, it came out “ruck.” If he was trying to say “make”, it came out “muck.” “If he was trying to say “fake”, it came out…let’s just say he was trying to say “fake.” He was trying to say it so everybody could understand it. He was repeating himself, louder and louder, hoping someone would understand.

“Fake,” he would say with his own sound to it. You know, “f@#&!” Like I said, over and over, louder and louder. “Fake, fake, fake, fake, FAKE, FAKE, FAKE!” Of course, all they heard was, “F@#&, f@#&, f@#&, f@#&, F@#&, F@#&, F@#&!” Little virgin ears were shattered on that daycare playground. If it wasn’t for the pretty and smart daycare teacher ending it, they may have been scarred for life! It’s not often that a three-year-old goes postal on a daycare playground…um, wait…scratch that last statement.

“But wait a minute Mr. Dazeodrew,” some of you ask. “Isn’t it sexist to say the daycare teacher is pretty and smart?” Maybe. Maybe not. Especially if you end up marrying that same daycare teacher later…um, and there’s a chance she might read the blog. You never know.

To the Moon Alice!

In my life, I’ve had plenty of birthdays. Of course, this doesn’t make me special or anything, plenty of you reading this have had plenty of birthdays. Unfortunately for you, this is my blog, so we’re only going to talk about my birthdays…sorry.

Most of my birthdays were uneventful, but when they were eventful, they really truly were. For example, when I turned 4 years old, my family was at a family church camp for a week. There were about 200 people at the camp and I have only a faint memory of it. My dad, however, had a very good memory of it. It was one of the most stressful weeks he ever had.

The week began with our trip to the camp, nearly 3 hours away from home. Along the way, my oldest brother became sick…not car sick, but really sick. When he was a toddler, he had gotten into some ant poison and his stomach was never the same. So our week began with my brother in the local hospital near the camp. Then came my birthday.

The camp had a tradition of acknowledging people’s birthdays at supper. I noticed this early in the week and was rather anxious when my day came. I was so anxious, I hid. There are a lot of places at a wooded camp for a 4-year-old to hide, believe me. After a couple hours of searching, my dad finally had to inform the camp leaders I was missing. Next thing we knew, 200 people were searching the camp for me. I eventually came out of my hiding place, darned dinnertime, because I was hungry. Like most 4-year-olds, I had to eat 300 times a day or at least whine about it. That was eventful.

My 8th birthday was eventful because it was the day we landed and walked on the moon. As an 8-year-old, that was exciting. Back then, the whole world would watch what they could about the space missions because it was so new and exciting. Later years, however, they didn’t even show space missions on television anymore because of a lack of interest. That wasn’t the case in 1969. Like I said, the whole world watched and in a little house in Milwaukee, an 8-year-old birthday boy felt like the day belonged to him.

ME: Today’s my birthday!

EVERYONE ELSE: Shut up! We’re trying to watch this!

Well, it felt special to me anyhow. Birthday’s were never a big deal in our house. We didn’t have parties, very few presents, but we always had cake and ice cream. I was good with this.

My 18th birthday took me back to the moon…kind of. The night before I had been to a concert and met some famous people (another blog for another time), but the actual day of my birthday turned out pretty special too. I was cruising around with some friends and we were drinking “shorties.” For those of you who know, these little 8 ounce cans of beer were deceptive. They went down very fast and very easy. That night was no exception. I was feeling pretty good.

It was very late and we rolled up next to an empty bus…empty except for the driver. He must’ve been in a bad mood because when we looked out our car window, he flipped us off. I was in the front passenger seat (the window facing the bus) and knew it was up to me to avenge our honor…and so I did. With my pants down and my butt cheeks pressed against the window, I did just that. It was in the middle of avenging that the unmarked squad car behind us slapped the flashing red and blue light onto the roof of his car and we had to pull over.

After we pulled over, the cop stepped out of his vehicle and came right to my door instead of the driver’s side.

COP: You! Get out of the car!

ME: Ok.

COP: NOW!!!

ME (getting out of the car): OK!!!

COP: Turn around and place your hands on the car. (I did). Spread your legs. (I did and he searched me). Now take your left hand and bring it down behind you. (I did…then I felt the click.)

ME: Handcuffs?

COP: Now bring your right hand down behind you. (I did and felt the other end of the handcuffs wrap around my wrist).

ME: For mooning an EMPTY bus?

COP: You’re a sick man. Now come with me.

He loaded me into the back of his car and off we went to jail. He never talked with my buddies, which was a good thing because we had been drinking, to include the driver. I was booked as an adult for the first time in my life. I had been an adult for less than 24 hours and already I had a rap sheet.

I spent the night in jail and when the morning came, I was paraded out of the jail along with a dozen other men for court. When my name was read, they stated the charge was “indecent exposure.” Well, the cop the night before said I was being booked for disorderly conduct, so this was certainly an unpleasant development. Just then, a lawyer walked up and said he was representing me. Apparently, my friends were busy while I was “doing time.” I pled “not guilty” and walked out to wait for another court date. Two months later, with a fresh haircut and suit, I was given a delayed sentence by the judge. What that meant was, if I was good for the next 12 months, all charges would be dismissed. I promised the judge that I would no longer be a threat to society and would keep my pants on.

Possible moral to this story? Adulting sucks because you have to keep your pants on. Seriously, though, who else can claim to have not one, but two major moon events on their birthday? Statistically, I might just be the only person in the world to claim this.

Working at Camp (Reblog)

Back during the summer when I turned 16-years-old, I went to work at a Boy Scout Camp. Overall, I ended up working at that camp for 6 summers, but this post will cover my first summer. It was my first time being away from home for more than a weekend and I was pretty excited. Even though my job was to be kitchen help, I couldn’t wait to take advantage of the waterfront and the nature.

They gave me my own tent for the summer and I was happy to find it was a large wall tent on top of a large platform. There was plenty of room for my bunk and footlocker as well as a little porch area where I hung a tarp. The bathroom and shower was in a cabin nearby and the dining facility was a mere two hundred yards away.

I barely got unpacked when I was told to go to the kitchen to begin work. I met the chef, the dining hall steward, and the other workers and we received a briefing on how everything operated. My main job was to be inventory and dishes which was no small thing because there would be almost 300 scouts per week during the boy scout portion and about 200 cub scouts per day during their portion. It seemed overwhelming at first, but a few days into camp, everything became routine. I quickly proved that I wasn’t afraid to work and was given extra responsibilities as the summer went on.

I had a blast and made friends easily, a few whom I remained friends with into adulthood. Even though we were mostly kids, there was a camaraderie that I never felt before. We were like a large family that worked together, played together, and unfortunately at times, partied together. The partying felt fun for the most part when I was young, but as a current father and grandfather, I would not be happy to find out my kid went to a camp where the staff partied every night, but we did.

I remember one night where I stumbled upon a couple of the older staff drinking Mad Dog 20/20. They invited me to join and if I had the knowledge I have today back then, I might’ve kept walking. That stuff nearly killed me! I was so hungover the next day, I stayed in my tent until noon pretending to be sick from something else. Apparently, the drinking the night before became an open secret and everybody in the dining hall was justifiably angry with me when I finally showed up. So much for my good impression!

After a couple days, everybody quit being angry with me and I was asked to fill in for the dining hall steward after he left. The job entailed keeping control of the dining hall during the meals, which included announcements, picking which tables would go first to eat, and singing songs before every meal. The Chaplain handled the prayers.

I was surprised to find out I was a natural ham and the job came easy to me. I had no problem leading the scouts in songs and making jokes whenever we had to wait for the food so they wouldn’t get restless. I still had dish duty afterward, but I didn’t mind the extra work. It made me popular and what kid doesn’t want to be popular?

In between meals, I worked on merit badges so I could get rank faster and every week I ran in the Mile Run we conducted so scouts could get a patch. I was a natural runner when I was young and was never beat in the six summers I worked at the camp. It became a goal for some scouts to beat me and made the event fun. I did do the Mile Swim, but I only did that once because I wasn’t very good at it.

Sometimes, after dinner or between weeks, the staff was allowed to leave camp. Since most of us younger staff didn’t drive, we would walk about a mile and a half to the nearest fast food place. It was called, “Mr. Quick” and was next to a bar called “Mr. Slow.” Then some hazing would happen on the walk back.

There was a cornfield along the way that grew both sweet corn and field corn. The trick was to get an ear of sweet corn and then guide the new kids to the field corn where they would be greatly disappointed as soon as they took a bite. I was fortunate enough to know the difference, so I didn’t fall for it. I fell for the next haze, however.

Just before the camp was a pasture with horses. The older kids went down and reached over the fence with clumps of grass to feed them and encouraged us to do the same. None of us new guys noticed they avoided the fence. I was the first one to grab the top as I leaned over to feed the horse. Of course, it was an electric fence and I got jolted pretty good. The amazing thing was that two more kids grabbed it after me and I didn’t feel nearly as stupid after that.

Overall, my experience during that first summer was amazing. I grew up a lot that summer and it encouraged me to go back again and again.

Waterfront Property

For those of you following my blogs, you’ll remember that I talked about the heavy rain and the new lake that formed behind our house. It stopped raining for a bit so it looks like we may have lucked out as far as any home flooding. This morning, however, I looked out my back window and saw a couple squirrels in a tree above the newly formed lake. I can only imagine the conversation…

SQUIRREL WIFE: We’re moving to the country, you said. It’ll be beautiful, you said. Nuts everywhere, you said.

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: How was I supposed to know it was going to flood here?

SQUIRREL WIFE: Oh, I don’t know…maybe because it’s by a river? Maybe because the ground is really low? Maybe because the Andersons told us not to live here because it could FLOOD?!?!

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: The Andersons are always saying crazy things! Remember when they insisted we would get overrun by foxes? That never happened…

SQUIRREL WIFE: Well, this did!

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: Fine…you win…I’m sorry. I’m hungry, do we have any nuts left?

SQUIRREL WIFE: Only the ones we buried.

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: Well, I’ll just go and…nuts! They’re under the water!

SQUIRREL WIFE: I’m so happy I married a genius.

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: Fine! I’ll swim under the water and get them!

SQUIRREL WIFE: No you won’t.

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: Yes I will!

After this, the male squirrel scampers down the tree then hesitates at the waterline. He slowly dips his toe into the water and shivers.

SQUIRREL WIFE: What are you waiting for? Spring?

Angrily, the male squirrel dives into the water. The female watches for a minute before getting worried. A minute later, the male emerges with a single acorn and runs it up the tree.

SQUIRREL WIFE: Oh! I’m so sorry! I was so worried about you!

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: Here you go. I’ll go get some more…

SQUIRREL WIFE: You’re so sweet! You’re just the best husband ever!

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: Aw, it’s ok. Just eat your acorn.

The squirrel female chomps into the acorn and makes a face before spitting it out.

SQUIRREL WIFE: Argh! It’s all pasty from being wet! Couldn’t you at least try to find one not so soggy?

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: Huh? Seriously?

SQUIRREL WIFE: We’re moving to the country, you said. It’ll be beautiful, you said. Nuts everywhere, you said.

SQUIRREL HUSBAND: Good grief…

Yeah, that’s what my imagination tells me is going on. Of course, my cat is next to me, like always, and has a little different viewpoint on these situations.

ME: So, kitty, what do you think they’re saying?

CAT: Meow. (This translates to, at least we won’t starve if we get flooded in.)

ME: I don’t think it’ll come to…

CAT: Meow. (Once again, the translation is, squirrels are good eatin’.)

ME: I don’t think we’ll have to resort to that. Besides, you have enough Meow Mix for the next month or so.

CAT: Meow. (I don’t think you’re feeling me on this, Dazeodrew…)

ME: Fine. Go get us a squirrel.

CAT: Meow? (They live in a lake…you expect me to jump in that?)

So I guess we won’t be eating squirrel tacos any time soon.